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FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 183094 September 22, 2010


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, vs.
REYNALDO BARDE, Accused-Appellant.
D E C I S I O N
PEREZ, J.:
On appeal is the Decision1 dated 24 September 2007 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 01245, which
affirmed with modifications, the Decision2 dated 29 January 2005 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Legazpi City, 5th
Judicial Region, Branch 1, in Criminal Case No. 8661, finding herein appellant Reynaldo Barde (appellant) guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the complex crime of multiple murder with multiple frustrated murder. The appellate court, however,
increased the penalty imposed upon the appellant by the court a quo from reclusion perpetua to the ultimate penalty of
death, being the maximum penalty prescribed by law, for the crime of murder. In view, however, of the subsequent
passage of Republic Act No. 93463 prohibiting the imposition of the death penalty, the appellate court reduced the penalty
to reclusion perpetua. The appellate court further increased the amount of moral and temperate damages awarded by the
court a quo to the heirs of each of the deceased victims from P30,000.00 to P50,000.00 and from P5,000.00 to
P25,000.00, respectively. The heirs of each of the deceased victims were also awarded exemplary damages of
P25,000.00. With respect to the surviving victims, Purisima Dado (Purisima) and Ligaya Dado (Ligaya), the appellate
court similarly increased the temperate damages awarded to them by the court a quo from P5,000.00 to P25,000.00 each.
They were also awarded exemplary damages of P25,000.00 each.
On the other hand, appellants co-accused and brother, Jimmy Barde (Jimmy), was acquitted for failure of the prosecution
to prove conspiracy and for insufficiency of evidence to prove his guilt for the crime charged. No civil liability has been
adjudged against him as there was no preponderance of evidence to prove the same.
Appellant and Jimmy were charged in an Information4 dated 13 August 1999 with the complex crime of multiple murder
and multiple frustrated murder, the accusatory portion of which reads:
That on or about the 15th day of April, 1999 at more or less 12:30 oclock in the morning, at Sitio Santo Nio, Barangay
Liguan, Municipality of Rapu-Rapu, Province of Albay, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above-named [appellant and Jimmy], conspiring and confederating and acting in concert to achieve a common purpose,
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with intent to kill and committed with the qualifying circumstances of treachery
(alevosia), evident premeditation, and by means of explosion, did then and there roll and explode a hand grenade (M26-
A1 Fragmentation grenade) inside the dance area which exploded and resulted to the instantaneous deaths of the
following persons, to wit:
1. FRANCISCO BIAGO, JR. alias Tikboy5
2. ROGER SISO6
3. NICANOR OLOROSO
4. MARGIE BAADERA
5. VICTOR BAADERA
6. BIENVENIDO BAADERA
7. DIOSDADO BAADERA7
8. WILLIAM BUTIAL
9. MARYJANE BECHAYDA
10. RICHARD BLANSA8
11. EFREN YASUL9
12. JOSE BOMBALES10
13. DEONY BALIDOY11
14. DAISY OLOROZO12
15. ROLLY BELGA13
This single act of exploding the hand grenade (M26-A1 Fragmentation grenade) by the above-named [appellant and
Jimmy] also caused and resulted in the injuries and wounding on the different and various parts of the bodies of at least
seventy six (76) persons, namely, to wit:
1. JOEL MORALES 39. WILLIAM BALUTE, JR.
2. MARGARITA YASOL 40. JESUS CAO
3. SANTOS BAADERA, JR. 41. BIENVENIDO CAO
4. LEA BAADERA 42. VICTOR BORJAL
5. LIGAYA DADO14 43. VIRGILIO BALINGBING
6. VIRGILIO BAADERA 44. ALEJANDRO BALUTE
7. MANUEL BAADERA 45. GIL BINAMIRA, JR.
8. RODOLFO GALANG, JR. 46. RODELITA BARNEDO
9. PURISIMA DAO15 47. SANTIAGO BARNIDO
10. MELCHOR BALIDOY 48. LEVI MAGALONA
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11. ABUNDIO BARCENILLA 49. JUANITO CAO
12. LOURDES BALIDOY 50. ARELFA BETCHAYDA
13. JULIO ROMANGAYA 51. EDITHA BELCHES
14. FRANDY SANGCAP 52. JANET BOMBALES
15. LOLIT BERSABE 53. MARILOU BETCHAYDA
16. DONDON BERSABE 54. MARIFE BETCHAYDA
17. FERMIN BARNEDO, JR. 55. ROSEMARIE BEQUIO
18. THERESA BAJARO 56. ALEXANDER BASALLOTE
19. ANTONIO ECAL 57. VICTOR BALLARES
20. FLORENCIA ECAL 58. LUIS OLOROSO, JR.
21. MA. NETOS ECAL 59. DOMINGO SISO
22. VENUS ECAL 60. DOMINGO MICALLER
23. NELIZ MORALINA 61. JENIFER OLOROSO
24. NORMA BAJARO 62. CATALINO ARCINUE
25. ALEX BAADERA 63. VIOLETA BUEMIA
26. ALADIN MORALINA 64. TIRSO BARBERAN
27. PEDRO BIAS, JR. 65. NELLY BUEMIA
28. ROMEO MORALINA 66. RODOLFO BOMBITA
29. PABLITO FORMENTO 67. BIENVENIDO BAADERA
30. ANGELES BOMBALES 68. BERNARDINO BARBERAN, JR.
31. SARDONINA BERSABE 69. MYLEN CERILLO
32. DOLORES BAADERA 70. DIONY BALIDOY
33. CATALINO BARRAMEDA 71. PO3 SAMUEL BATAS
34. ABIGAEL BROSO 72. LITO BERMAS
35. NILDA YASOL 73. JOSEPHINE BEJORO
36. ESPERANZA BARDE 74. ROGER BELARO
37. RYAN BALUTE 75. ADELA VERGARA
38. ROBERTO BETITO 76. VINCENT BERMEJO
these wounds and injuries caused being fatal and mortal; and thus the above-named [appellant and Jimmy] have already
performed all the acts of execution which would have produced the crime of Multiple Murder but which nevertheless did
not produce it by reason of causes independent of the will of the [appellant and Jimmy], that is, the able and timely
medical assistance given to these victims which prevented their deaths, to the damage and prejudice of the legal heirs of
those who died herein and also those who suffered injuries on the various parts of their bodies.16 [Emphasis supplied].
Upon arraignment,17 appellant and Jimmy, assisted by counsels de oficio, pleaded NOT GUILTY to the crime charged.
Thereafter, trial on the merits ensued.
As culled from the records and testimonies of prosecution witnesses, the facts of this case are as follows:
On 14 April 1999, at around 9:00 p.m., Elmer Oloroso (Elmer), one of the prosecution witnesses and first cousin of
appellant and Jimmy, was at a dancing place18 at Sitio Sto. Nio, Liguan, Rapu-Rapu, Albay, to attend a dance held in
connection with the feast day celebration thereat. The dancing place, which was more or less ten (10) meters long and
eight (8) meters wide, was enclosed by bamboo fence and properly equipped with long benches. It was well-lighted by the
fluorescent lights surrounding it and an oscillating light located at the center thereof. While sitting on the bench inside the
dancing place, near the front gate thereof, Elmer saw appellant and Jimmy outside holding flashlights and focusing the
same toward the people inside.19
At around 11:00 p.m., Jimmy entered the dancing place and approached the person sitting beside Elmer. The latter
overheard Jimmy telling the person beside him to go out and look for their companions. Not long after, Jimmy went out of
the dancing place and it was the last time Elmer saw him on that particular day.20
Then, at around 12:00 midnight, which was already 15 April 1999, Elmer spotted appellant, who was wearing maong
pants and maong jacket with a belt bag tied around his waist, entered the dancing place and walked towards the people
who were dancing. At that time, Jimmy was no longer there. Elmer, who was only more or less three (3) meters away from
the appellant, saw the latter get a rounded object from his belt bag, which he believed to be a hand grenade as he has
previously seen one from military men when he was in Manila. Later, appellant pulled something from that rounded object,
rolled it to the ground towards the center of the dancing place where the people were dancing, and left immediately. Five
seconds thereafter, the rounded object exploded. At that moment, appellant was already one-half meter away from the
gate of the dancing place.21
The lights went off, people scampered away, and many died and were seriously injured as a result of the said explosion.
Elmer went out of the dancing place, together with the crowd, through the destroyed bamboo fence. Realizing his brothers
and sisters might still be inside the dancing place, Elmer went back, together with the people carrying flashlights and
torches, to look for his siblings. There he saw the lifeless body of his brother, Nicanor Oloroso (Nicanor). His other brother,
Luis Oloroso (Luis), on the other hand, was seriously injured. Elmers two other siblings, Jenny and Edwin, both surnamed
Oloroso, was slightly injured. Elmer immediately brought Luis at Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH),
Albay Provincial Hospital, where the latter was confined for almost three months.22
The second prosecution witness, Antonio Barcelona (Antonio), corroborated Elmers testimony on material points. Antonio
first met appellant on 20 March 1999 as the latters brother, Rafael Barde (Rafael), invited him to their house to attend a
dance in Mancao, Rapu-Rapu, Albay. There they had a little conversation and appellant told Antonio that he would not
enter any dancing place without creating any trouble. On 14 April 1999 at around 9:30 p.m., Antonio again met appellant
at the dancing place at Sitio Sto. Nio, Liguan, Rapu-Rapu, Albay. While Antonio was inside the dancing place, appellant
saw him and summoned him to go out. Then, Antonio and appellant, who was then with his brothers, Jimmy and Joel,
both surnamed Barde, conversed about their work.23 Suddenly, appellant uttered, "Diyan lang kamo, dai kamo maghale
sa Tokawan na iyan, to kong may ribok man, yaon kami sa likod lang."24 Appellant told Antonio that he would just be
behind him and his companions because there might be a trouble. Thereafter, Antonio went inside the dancing place. 25
At about 11:30 p.m., the dance was declared open to all. At this juncture, appellant and his two brothers went inside the
dancing place. Jimmy then approached Antonio. Then, at around 12:30 a.m. of 15 April 1999, Antonio noticed appellant
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walking slowly towards the crowd inside the dancing place with his hands partly hidden inside his maong jacket with an
eagle figure at the back thereof. Suddenly, appellant stopped, looked around, got something from his waist line, rolled it to
the ground towards the crowd and hastily left. Antonio confirmed that what was rolled to the ground by appellant was a
grenade because after more or less four seconds that thing exploded. Appellant was already in front of the gate of the
dancing place when the explosion occurred. Antonio was not injured as he was more or less four (4) meters away from
the place where the explosion occurred. Darkness followed after the explosion as the lights went off. People bustled.
Many died and were injured.26
Other prosecution witnesses, Alexander Basallote (Alexander) and Nilda Yasol (Nilda) - the Barangay Captain of Liguan,
Rapu-Rapu, Albay, also corroborated the testimonies of Elmer and Antonio.
The prosecution likewise presented Senior Police Officer 2 Hipolito Talagtag (SPO2 Talagtag),27 who was assigned at R-4
Division, Explosive and Ordinance Disposal, Police Regional Office 5 at Camp Simeon Ola, Legazpi City. On 15 April
1999, SPO2 Talagtag received a call from Colonel Delos Santos (Col. Delos Santos), Chief of R-4 Division, Supply of
RECOM 5, informing him about the explosion incident happened in a dancing place at Sitio Sto. Nio, Liguan, Rapu-
Rapu, Albay, and asking assistance from them. In response thereto, a team was organized composed of members from
the Crime Laboratory, IID Investigators, CIS Investigating Agents and the Explosive Ordinance Team. Thereafter, the team
proceeded to the scene of the crime. They reached the place at more or less 11:00 a.m. of 16 April 1999. The team found
a crater inside the dancing place that served as their lead in determining the kind of explosive used. In the course of their
investigation, they interviewed people living nearby who told them that the explosion was loud. Later, SPO2 Talagtag
placed a magnet in the crater inside the dancing place and recovered several shrapnels similar to those that can be found
in an M26-A1 fragmentation grenade. By reason thereof, SPO2 Talagtag concluded that the explosion was caused by an
M26-A1 fragmentation grenade. Thereafter, the recovered shrapnels were turned over to the crime laboratory at Camp
Simeon Ola, Legazpi City, for examination.281avvphi1
Engineer Ma. Julieta Razonable (Engr. Razonable), Police Senior Inspector and Forensic Chemical Officer assigned at
Camp Simeon Ola, Legazpi City, received the specimen, i.e., the shrapnels recovered at the scene of the crime, for
physical examination. Her examination yielded positive result, meaning, the specimen submitted to her were part of a
hand grenade fragmentation, M26-A1.29 This result was subsequently reduced into writing as evidenced by Physical
Identification Report No. PI-601-A-99 dated 16 April 1999.30
In his defense, appellant vehemently denied the charge against him and offered a different version of the incident.
Appellant asseverated that at around 7:00 p.m. on 14 April 1999 he was at home in Mancao, Rapu-Rapu, Albay,
organizing the plates, spoons, forks and other kitchen utensils that they were about to bring to the house of Teodora
Arsenue (Teodora) at Sitio Sto. Nio, Liguan, Rapu-Rapu, Albay, in connection with the feast day celebration in the said
place. Then, at around 7:30 p.m., the appellant, together with his mother Gloria Barde (Gloria) and brothers Jimmy, Joel,
Rafael, Jovito, Jr., all surnamed Barde, proceeded to the house of Teodora and reached the same before 9:00 p.m.
Teodora offered them food. After eating, they acceded to the suggestion of Jovito, Jr., to go to the dancing place also
located at Sitio Sto. Nio, Liguan, Rapu-Rapu, Albay, only a ten minute-walk away from the house of Teodora.31
Upon reaching the dancing place, they stayed outside as they had no tickets. At around 11:30 p.m., through the help of
William Gutchal (William),32 appellant and his brothers Joel and Jimmy, both surnamed Barde, were able to enter the
dancing place while his mother and other brothers remained outside. They immediately proceeded to the left side of the
dancing place near the baffles of the sound system and stood behind the benches as the same were already occupied.
The three of them remained in that place until the explosion occurred inside the dancing place, which was more or less
twenty-five (25) meters away from them. The people dancing in the area of the explosion died and some were injured.33
Appellant claimed that he had no idea how the explosion started because at that time he and his brother Jimmy were
talking to Roger Springael (Roger), who was standing outside the bamboo fence surrounding the dancing place, as the
latter was interested in buying a fighting cock from him. His other brother, Joel, was also with them, but he was sleeping.
In the course of their conversation, he suddenly heard an explosion. All lights went off and there was a total blackout
inside the dancing place. People were then pushing each other in order to get out. Appellant was able to go out and run
towards a lighted place nearby. When the people carrying torches came, appellant went back to the dancing place to look
for his mother and brothers. It was already 2:00 a.m. of 15 April 1999, when he saw his mother and brothers. They went
home afterwards. When they reached their house, appellant and his father went to the house of his injured cousin to
inform the latters family of what happened.34
The following day, or on 16 April 1999, appellant and Jimmy were invited by Police Officer, Efren Cardeo (Cardeo), at
Camp Simeon Ola, Legazpi City, to be utilized as witnesses to the explosion incident happened on 15 April 1999. They
refused the invitation as they did not actually witness the explosion. But, Cardeo insisted. On 17 April 1999, appellant
and Jimmy went with Cardeo at Camp Simeon Ola, Legazpi City. Thereafter, they did not see Cardeo anymore.35
While appellant was at Camp Simeon Ola, Legazpi City, he was brought in one of the offices there and was told to be a
witness to the explosion incident happened at Sitio Sto. Nio, Liguan, Rapu-Rapu, Albay. Shortly thereafter, the
investigator showed him a typewritten document and was ordered to sign the same but, he refused because he did not
understand its contents. Appellant maintained that he was even promised money and work should he sign it and testify
but, once again, he refused. Due to his incessant refusal, he was ordered to go out. There he saw Jimmy who told him
that he was also made to sign a certain document but, he also refused.36
Between 10:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. of 17 April 1999, appellant and Jimmy were awakened but the latter continued sleeping.
As such, it was only appellant who was brought in another room and was made to drink wine by persons in civilian
clothes. When appellant declined, he was then accused as the person responsible for the explosion incident. Appellant,
however, strongly denied the accusation. At this instance, appellant was kicked and boxed and was ordered to admit the
accusation but he refused to admit it. Appellant was subsequently brought inside a detention cell. When he met Jimmy,
the latter told him that he was also tortured.37
The next day, or on 18 April 1999, appellant and Jimmy were brought at the office of a certain General Navarro and they
were ordered to stand up with more than 30 people. Later, Antonio arrived. Appellant avowed that a certain person in
civilian clothes instructed Antonio to point at them as the perpetrators of the explosion incident, which Antonio did. When
they were pinpointed as the authors of the crime, they neither reacted nor denied the accusations. Afterwards, appellant
and Jimmy were brought back inside their detention cell.38
Appellant similarly denied having met Antonio on 20 March 1999 at a dance in Mancao, Rapu-Rapu, Albay. Appellant
likewise denied having told Antonio that whenever he enters a dance hall he would always create trouble. Appellant
maintained that he saw Antonio for the first time when the latter pinpointed him and Jimmy at the office of a certain
General Navarro. The second time was when Antonio testified in court. Appellant, however, confirmed that Elmer is his
first cousin and he did not know any reason why he would accuse him with such a grave offense. 39
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Other defense witnesses, Roger, Jimmy and Gloria corroborated appellants testimony.
Wilfredo Echague (Wilfredo), a radio broadcaster at Radio Filipino, DWRL, since 19 February 1991, testified that on 11
August 2001 while conducting series of interviews in relation to the explosion incident that happened on 15 April 1999 at
Sitio Sto. Nio, Liguan, Rapu-Rapu, Albay, he met Violeta Buemia (Violeta) at the latters residence in Cabangan, Villa
Hermosa, Rapu-Rapu, Albay, who claimed personal knowledge about the explosion incident. Wilfredos interview on
Violeta was recorded by the former. On 17 August 2001, he accompanied Violeta to the National Bureau of Investigation
(NBI), Legazpi City, where she executed her sworn statement before Atty. Raymundo D. Sarga, Jr. (Atty. Sarga), Head
Agent of NBI, Legazpi City.40
Violeta affirmed that Wilfredo had interviewed her regarding the explosion incident and he had also accompanied her in
executing her sworn statement before the NBI, Legazpi City.41 During her testimony, she disclosed that at around 10:00
p.m. of 14 April 1999, she and her daughter entered the dancing place at Sto. Nio, Liguan, Rapu-Rapu, Albay. Her
daughter sat down while she stood near the gate. At round 12:00 a.m., which was already 15 April 1999, she went out to
urinate. In a distance of more or less two (2) meters, she saw Eddie Oloroso (Eddie) standing outside the dancing place
and then throw something inside that hit the wire beside a fluorescent bulb causing some sparks. The place became very
bright and she confirmed that it was really Eddie who threw that something. Eddie then ran away. The thing exploded
when it fell on the ground. The place became dark thereafter. She was hit by the flying pebbles coming from the
explosion. She then looked for her daughter and was able to find her. Many died and seriously injured in the said
explosion incident.42
Violeta also explained that it took her more than two years after the incident happened to come out and testify because
she was afraid. Her conscience, however, kept bothering her so she decided to divulge what she knew about the incident.
43 Later in her testimony, Violeta admitted that she saw Eddie outside the dancing place and it was appellant and Jimmy,
whom she saw sitting inside the dancing place at the far end of the fence.44
Finding the defense of appellant and Jimmy unmeritorious vis-a-vis the evidence proffered by the prosecution, the trial
court rendered its Decision on 29 January 2005 finding appellant guilty of the complex crime of multiple murder with
multiple frustrated murder and imposing upon him the penalty of reclusion perpetua. He was also ordered to pay the legal
heirs of each of the deceased victims the amount of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, P30,000.00 as moral damages, and
P5,000.00 as temperate damages, as well as each of the surviving victims, Purisima and Ligaya, the amount of
P20,000.00 as moral damages and P5,000.00 as temperate/actual damages. Jimmy, on the other hand, was acquitted of
the crime charged for the prosecutions failure to prove conspiracy and for insufficiency of evidence. No civil liability was
adjudged against him there being no preponderance of evidence to prove the same.45
Aggrieved, appellant moved for the reconsideration of the aforesaid RTC Decision but it was denied in an Order46 dated
15 June 2005 for lack of merit.
Accordingly, appellant elevated the 29 January 2005 RTC Decision to the Court of Appeals with the lone assignment of
error, thus:
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING [APPELLANT] GUILTY OF THE CRIME CHARGED DESPITE
FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION TO ESTABLISH HIS GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.47
On 24 September 2007, the Court of Appeals rendered its Decision, disposing:
WHEREFORE, the Appeal is Denied. The Decision dated [29 January 2005] of the [RTC] of Lega[z]pi City, Branch 1, in
Criminal Case No. 8661, is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION in that:
1. The [appellant] shall suffer the penalty of Death. However, in view of the subsequent passage of R.A. No. 9346,
which was approved on [24 June 2006], which repealed R.A. No. 817748 and R.A. No. 7659,49 the penalty of
Death is REDUCED to RECLUSION PERPETUA.
2. The [appellant] is hereby ordered to indemnify the heirs of the deceased the amount of P50,000.00, as moral
damages, P25,000.00, as temperate damages and P25,000.00 as exemplary damages. [Appellant] is also
ordered to pay each Purisima Dado and Ligaya Dado temperate damages in the amount of P25,000.00 and
exemplary damages in the amount of P25,000.00.50 [Emphasis supplied].
Appellant moved for the reconsideration of the aforesaid Court of Appeals Decision, but to no avail.51
Unable to accept his conviction, appellant appeals to this Court reiterating the same assignment of error he raised before
the Court of Appeals, to wit: the trial court gravely erred in finding appellant guilty of the crime charged despite failure of
the prosecution to establish his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
Appellant asserts that his guilt was not proven beyond reasonable doubt because the evidence presented by the
prosecution was not sufficient to overcome his constitutionally enshrined right to be presumed innocent. He casts doubts
on the credibility of prosecution witness Elmer because his statements were replete with inconsistencies. According to
appellant, Elmer, at first, declared that after the explosion, lights went off and he saw appellant leave the dancing place
but Elmer later stated that immediately after appellant threw the grenade, the latter went out and upon reaching the gate,
the explosion occurred. These inconsistent statements of Elmer allegedly created doubts as to what actually transpired
and who the real culprit was. Appellant then claims that there is a possibility that Elmer is a rehearsed witness as such
inconsistencies relate to material points.
Appellants contentions are not well-founded, thus, his conviction must stand.
Primarily, it has been jurisprudentially acknowledged that when the issues revolve on matters of credibility of witnesses,
the findings of fact of the trial court, its calibration of the testimonies of the witnesses, and its assessment of the probative
weight thereof, as well as its conclusions anchored on said findings, are accorded high respect, if not conclusive effect.
This is because the trial court has the unique opportunity to observe the demeanor of witnesses and is in the best position
to discern whether they are telling the truth.52 In this case, it is notable that the Court of Appeals affirmed the factual
findings of the trial court, according credence and great weight to the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses. Settled is
the rule that when the trial court's findings have been affirmed by the appellate court, said findings are generally
conclusive and binding upon this Court,53 unless the trial court had overlooked, disregarded, misunderstood, or
misapplied some fact or circumstance of weight and significance which if considered would have altered the result of the
case.54 None of these circumstances is attendant in this case. This Court, thus, finds no cogent reason to deviate from
the factual findings arrived at by the trial court as affirmed by the Court of Appeals.
Prosecution witnesses, Elmer and Antonio, actually witnessed the explosion incident. Both of them narrated in detail the
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events that transpired prior, during and after the explosion. They had a vivid recollection of how appellant entered the
dancing place, walked towards the people who were dancing, got a rounded object from the belt bag tied on his waist,
pulled something from it, rolled it to the ground towards the people who were dancing and left the place rapidly.
Immediately thereafter, the explosion occurred. The trial court characterized their testimonies as candid, spontaneous and
straightforward that despite rigid cross-examination their testimonies on who and how the crime was committed remained
unshaken and undisturbed.55
With certainty, these prosecution witnesses positively identified appellant as the person who rolled a rounded object,
which was later confirmed as an M26-A1 fragmentation grenade, towards the people who were dancing, the explosion
killing and causing injuries to many. The identity of appellant was clear to the prosecution witnesses because the dancing
place where the explosion occurred was well lighted. Besides, Elmer and Antonio knew the appellant well. Elmer is
appellants first cousin. Antonio met appellant prior to the explosion incident at a dance in Mancao, Rapu-Rapu, Albay,
where they engaged in some conversations. Given these circumstances, the prosecution witnesses could not have been
mistaken as to appellants identity.
The records were also wanting in evidence that would show that these witnesses were impelled by improper motive to
impute such a grave offense against the appellant. Even appellant himself admitted that he did not know any reason why
Elmer would accuse him with such an offense with pernicious consequences on his life and liberty, considering the fact
that they are relatives.
It bears stressing that Elmers brother, Nicanor, died, his other brother, Luis, was seriously injured and almost died and his
two other siblings were also injured because of the explosion. Elmer had more than enough reason to identify the
appellant.56 Indeed, his relationship to the victims cannot be taken against him and it does not automatically impair his
credibility and render his testimony less worthy of credence since that no improper motive can be ascribed to him for
testifying.57 It would be unnatural for a relative who is interested in seeking justice for the victims to testify against an
innocent person and allow the guilty one to go unpunished.58 Rather, his inherent desire to bring to justice those whom he
personally knew committed a crime against his close relative makes his identification of the appellant all the more
credible.59
In comparison with the clear and straightforward testimony of prosecution witnesses, all that appellant could muster is the
defense of denial and alibi. It is well-entrenched that alibi and denial are inherently weak and have always been viewed
with disfavor by the courts due to the facility with which they can be concocted. They warrant the least credibility or none
at all and cannot prevail over the positive identification of the appellant by the prosecution witnesses.60 For alibi to
prosper, it is not enough to prove that appellant was somewhere else when the crime was committed; he must also
demonstrate that it was physically impossible for him to have been at the scene of the crime at the time of its commission.
Unless substantiated by clear and convincing proof, such defense is negative, self-serving, and undeserving of any weight
in law.61 Denial, like alibi, as an exonerating justification is inherently weak and if uncorroborated regresses to blatant
impotence. Like alibi, it also constitutes self-serving negative evidence which cannot be accorded greater evidentiary
weight than the declaration of credible witnesses who testify on affirmative matters.62
In this case, appellant himself and all his witnesses admitted that appellant was at the scene of the crime until the
explosion occurred. With that, the defense ultimately failed to meet the necessary requisites for the proper invocation of
alibi as a defense.
Appellants defense of denial cannot also be given any considerable weight as it was unsubstantiated. The testimony of
Violeta pointing at Eddie as the real culprit is intended to bolster appellants defense of denial. However, it cannot be given
credence. Her testimony was given only after more than two years from the time the incident happened, and she failed to
offer any convincing evidence to justify such delay. Records do not show that there was any threat on Violetas life that
might have prevented from coming out to testify. She herself admitted that after the explosion incident she did not see
Eddie anymore. Eddie then could not have possibly threatened her. She could freely testify on what she knew about the
explosion incident had she wanted to. Her alleged fear is unfounded. It cannot justify her long delay in disclosing it before
the court a quo. Moreover, if she was, indeed, afraid, she would not have allowed herself to be interviewed by a radio
broadcaster and would not have divulged to him all that she knew about the incident. Instead of directly disclosing it to the
proper authorities, she had chosen to tell it first to a radio broadcaster. Further, the only reason she gave the court for her
silence of more than two years was that she began to be bothered by her conscience as she recently kept on dreaming of
those who died in the explosion incident especially during "All Souls Day." Violeta, in other words, cannot rely on the
doctrine that delay of witnesses in revealing what they know about a crime is attributable to their natural reticence against
involvement therein.63
More telling is Violetas categorical admission that Eddie was outside the dancing place and it was appellant whom she
saw inside the dancing place prior to the explosion incident. With this testimony, Violeta made appellants defense of
denial even weaker.
In light of the categorical and positive identification of the appellant by prosecution witnesses, without any showing of ill-
motive on the part of the latter testifying on the matter, appellant's defense of bare denial and alibi cannot prosper.64
As regards the alleged inconsistencies on Elmers narration of events, this Court considers the same trivial,
inconsequential and do not affect the credibility of the statement that it was appellant who rolled the hand grenade
towards the people dancing inside the dancing place, the explosion killing and injuring scores of victims. Furthermore, the
alleged inconsistencies pointed to by appellant have been properly clarified in the course of Elmers testimony. As the
Court of Appeals stated in its Decision, thus:
Records reveal that during the direct examination, Elmer testified that immediately after the [appellant] rolled the grenade,
he went out and when he was about to reach the gate the grenade exploded, while on cross-examination, Elmer testified
that he saw [appellant] leave the [dancing place] after the explosion. However, when the trial court and [appellants
counsel] asked him about the inconsistency, Elmer clarified and confirmed that [appellant] left the dance place before the
explosion.65
Inconsistencies in the testimonies of witnesses which refer to minor and insignificant details do not destroy their credibility.
They, instead, manifest truthfulness and candor and erase any suspicion of rehearsed testimony.66
All told, this Court affirms the findings of the trial court and the appellate court that, indeed, appellant was the author of the
explosion incident that happened on 15 April 1999 inside the dancing place at Sitio Sto. Nio, Liguan, Rapu-Rapu, Albay,
which took away the lives and caused injuries to the people thereat.
As to the crime committed. The trial court and the appellate court convicted appellant of the complex crime of multiple
murder with multiple frustrated murder. This Court believes, however, that appellant should only be convicted of the
complex crime of multiple murder with double attempted murder.
5

Appellants act of detonating a hand grenade, particularly an M26-A1 fragmentation grenade, inside the dancing place at
Sitio Sto. Nio, Liguan, Rapu-Rapu, Albay, resulted in the death of 15 people, namely: Francisco Biago, Jr., Roger Siso,
Nicanor Oloroso, Margie Baadera, Victor Baadera, Bienvenido Baadera, Diosdado Baadera, William Butial, Maryjane
Bechayda, Richard Blansa, Efren Yasul, Jose Bombales, Deony Balidoy, Daisy Olorozo and Rolly Belga. The fact of death
of these deceased victims was evidenced by their respective certificates of death and testimonies of their respective
relatives. The defense similarly admitted that these victims died as a result of the explosion incident.
Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code provides:
ART. 248. Murder. Any person who, not falling within the provisions of article 246 shall kill another, shall be guilty of
murder and shall be punished by reclusion perpetua to death if committed with any of the following attendant
circumstances:
1. With treachery, taking advantage of superior strength, with the aid of armed men, or employing means to
weaken the defense or of means or persons to insure or afford impunity.
x x x x
3. By means of inundation, fire, poison, explosion, shipwreck, stranding of a vessel, derailment or assault upon a
railroad, fall of an airship, or by means of motor vehicles, or with the use of any other means involving great waste
and ruin. [Emphasis supplied].
From the afore-quoted provision of law, the killing of the aforesaid deceased victims with the use of explosive, i.e., hand
grenade particularly M26-A1 fragmentation grenade, certainly qualifies the crime to murder.
Treachery, which was alleged in the Information, also attended the commission of the crime. Time and again, this Court, in
a plethora of cases, has consistently held that there is treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against
persons, employing means, methods or forms in the execution thereof, which tend directly and specially to ensure its
execution without risk to himself arising from the defense that the offended party might make. There are two (2) conditions
that must concur for treachery to exist, to wit: (a) the employment of means of execution gave the person attacked no
opportunity to defend himself or to retaliate; and (b) the means or method of execution was deliberately and consciously
adopted.67 "The essence of treachery is that the attack is deliberate and without warning, done in a swift and unexpected
manner, affording the hapless, unarmed and unsuspecting victim no chance to resist or escape."68
As elucidated by the trial court in its Decision:
The victims were completely unaware of the danger forthcoming to them as they were in the midst of enjoying a dance.
The [appellant] who caused the rolling of the hand grenade was at a complete advantage knowing that no risk to his life
was involved as he can immediately fled [and] run away from the scene of the crime before any explosion could occur.
There was no defense so to speak of that may came from the victims because they were completely unaware of the
danger about to happen in their midst resulting as it did to deaths and injuries to many people among the crowd dancing.
The act of rolling the hand grenade is unpardonable. It is a treacherous heinous act of the highest order. The victims can
do nothing but to cry to high heavens for vengeance.
x x x x
As supported by the evidence adduced at the trial, [it] is fully convinced that the crime charge was committed under a
cloak of treachery, and there is no doubt about it. The attacker suddenly came armed with a live fragmentation grenade,
removed its pin and threw it towards the crowd who were enjoying a dance, unsuspecting of any danger that larks in their
midst, thereby depriving them of any real opportunity to defend themselves. The attacker has employed a swift and
unexpected attack to insure its execution without risk to himself x x x.69
As the killing, in this case, is perpetrated with both treachery and by means of explosives, the latter shall be considered as
a qualifying circumstance since it is the principal mode of attack. Reason dictates that this attendant circumstance should
qualify the offense while treachery will be considered merely as a generic aggravating circumstance.70
The Information also alleged that evident premeditation attended the commission of the crime. For evident premeditation
to be appreciated, the prosecution must prove the following elements: (1) the time when the accused decided to commit
the crime; (2) an overt act showing that the accused clung to their determination to commit the crime; and (3) the lapse of
a period of time between the decision and the execution of the crime sufficient to allow the accused to reflect upon the
consequences of the act.71 However, none of these elements could be gathered from the evidence on record.
Appellants act of detonating a hand grenade, particularly M26-A1 fragmentation grenade, inside the dancing place at Sitio
Sto. Nio, Liguan, Rapu-Rapu, Albay, likewise resulted in the wounding of several persons. But, out of the 76 injured
victims named in the Information, only Purisima and Ligaya, both surnamed Dado, appeared personally in court to testify
on the injuries and damages sustained by them by reason thereof.
Purisima affirmed that after the explosion she was brought to the hospital because she suffered punctured wounds on her
legs and forehead by reason thereof. Also, she was not able to walk for two (2) weeks. She was not confined though.72
She was issued medical certificate73 dated 23 April 1999 in relation thereto stating that her injuries will incapacitate her or
will require medical assistance for one to two weeks. Her testimony, as well as her medical certificate, however, never
mentioned that the wounds or injuries sustained by her were fatal or mortal and had it not for the timely medical
assistance accorded to her she would have died. In the same way, Ligaya stated that because of the explosion she
suffered blasting injuries on her chest and right forearm. She was confined and treated for five days at BRTTH, Legazpi
City,74 as evidenced by her medical certificate75 dated 26 April 1999. There was also no mention that her injuries and
wounds were mortal or fatal.
Despite the fact that the injuries sustained by Purisima and Ligaya were not mortal or fatal, it does not necessarily follow
that the crimes committed against them were simply less serious physical injuries,76 because appellant was motivated by
the same intent to kill when he detonated the explosive device inside the dancing place.77 Since the injuries inflicted upon
them were not fatal and there was no showing that they would have died if not for the timely medical assistance accorded
to them, the crime committed against them is merely attempted murder.
As this Court has previously stated, the rest of the injured victims named in the Information failed to testify. Though their
medical certificates were attached in the records, they were not marked as exhibits and were not formally offered as
evidence by the prosecution. Consequently, this Court cannot consider the same to hold that the crime committed as to
them is frustrated murder and to grant damages in their favor. This Court has held in People v. Franco,78 thus:
6

We thus reiterate the rule that the court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally offered. So fundamental is
this injunction that litigants alike are corollarily enjoined to formally offer any evidence which they desire the court to
consider. Mr. Chief Justice Moran explained the rationale behind the rule in this wise:
The offer is necessary because it is the duty of a judge to rest his findings of facts and his judgment only and strictly upon
the evidence offered by the parties to the suit.79 [Emphasis supplied].
Without the testimonies of the other injured victims or their medical certificates, the court will have no basis to hold that
appellant committed the crime of frustrated murder as to them.
Given the foregoing, it is clear that this case falls under the first clause of Article 4880 of the Revised Penal Code because
by a single act, that of detonating an explosive device inside the dancing place, appellant committed two grave felonies,
namely, (1) murder as to the 15 persons named in the Information; and (2) attempted murder as to Purisima and Ligaya.
Therefore, this Court holds appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the complex crime of multiple murder with double
attempted murder.
As to penalty. Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code explicitly states:
ART. 48. Penalty for complex crimes. When a single act constitutes two or more grave or less grave felonies, or when
an offense is a necessary means for committing the other, the penalty for the most serious crime shall be imposed, the
same to be applied in its maximum period. [Emphasis supplied].
A complex crime is committed when a single act constitutes two or more grave or less grave felonies. Appellants single
act of detonating an explosive device may quantitatively constitute a cluster of several separate and distinct offenses, yet
these component criminal offenses should be considered only as a single crime in law on which a single penalty is
imposed because the offender was impelled by a single criminal impulse which shows his lesser degree of perversity.81
Thus, applying the aforesaid provision of law, the maximum penalty for the most serious crime, which is murder, is death.
Pursuant, however, to Republic Act No. 9346 which prohibits the imposition of the death penalty, the appellate court
properly reduced the penalty of death, which it previously imposed upon the appellant, to reclusion perpetua.
As to damages. Article 2206 of the Civil Code provides that when death occurs as a result of a crime, the heirs of the
deceased are entitled to be indemnified for the death of the victim without need of any evidence or proof thereof.82 Moral
damages like civil indemnity, is also mandatory upon the finding of the fact of murder.83 To conform with recent
jurisprudence on heinous crimes where the proper imposable penalty is death, if not for Republic Act No. 9346, the award
of civil indemnity and moral damages to the heirs of each of the deceased victims are both increased to P75,000.00 each.
84
It is settled that exemplary damages may be awarded in criminal cases as part of civil liability if the crime was committed
with one or more aggravating circumstances.85 In this case, the generic aggravating circumstance of treachery attended
the commission of the crime. The award of exemplary damages, therefore, is in order. To conform to current
jurisprudence, this Court likewise increased the award of exemplary damages given by the appellate court to the heirs of
each of the deceased victims to P30,000.00 each.86
Actual damages cannot be awarded for failure to present the receipts covering the expenditures for the wake, coffin, burial
and other expenses for the death of the victims. In lieu thereof, temperate damages may be recovered where it has been
shown that the victims family suffered some pecuniary loss but the amount thereof cannot be proved with certainty as
provided for under Article 2224 of the Civil Code.87 This Court finds the award of P25,000.00 each to the heirs of each of
the deceased victims proper.
The surviving victims, Purisima and Ligaya, are also entitled to moral, temperate and exemplary damages.
Ordinary human experience and common sense dictate that the wounds inflicted upon the surviving victims, Purisima and
Ligaya would naturally cause physical suffering, fright, serious anxiety, moral shock, and similar injuries. It is only
justifiable to grant them moral damages in the amount of P40,000.00 each in conformity with this Courts ruling in People
v. Mokammad.88
This Court affirms the appellate courts award of P25,000.00 as temperate damages to each of the surviving victims,
Purisima and Ligaya. It is beyond doubt that these two surviving victims were hospitalized and spent money for their
medication. However, Purisima failed to present any receipt for her hospitalization and medication. Nevertheless, it could
not be denied that she suffered pecuniary loss; thus, it is only prudent to award P25,000.00 to her as temperate damages.
89 Ligaya, on the other hand, presented receipts for her hospitalization and medication but the receipts were less than
P25,000.00. In People v. Magdaraog90 citing People v. Andres, Jr.,91 when actual damages proven by receipts during the
trial amount to less than P25,000.00 as in this case, the award of temperate damages for P25,000.00 is justified in lieu of
actual damages of a lesser amount.
Finally, the award of exemplary damages is also in order considering that the crime was attended by the qualifying
circumstance of treachery.92 The award of exemplary damages to Purisima and Ligaya is increased to P30,000.00 to
conform to current jurisprudence.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 01245 dated 24
September 2007 is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS. Appellant is found guilty of the complex crime of multiple
murder with double attempted murder. In view, however, of Republic Act No. 9346 prohibiting the imposition of the death
penalty, appellant is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua without the benefit of parole. The award
of civil indemnity, moral and exemplary damages to the heirs of each of the deceased victims are hereby increased to
P75,000.00, P75,000.00, and P30,000.00, respectively. The surviving victims, Purisima and Ligaya, are also awarded
moral damages of P40,000.00 each. The award of exemplary damages to these surviving victims is likewise increased to
P30,000.00 each.
SO ORDERED.


EN BANC
7

G.R. No. 153559 June 8, 2004
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs.
ANTONIO COMADRE, GEORGE COMADRE and DANILO LOZANO, appellants.
D E C I S I O N
PER CURIAM:
Appellants Antonio Comadre, George Comadre and Danilo Lozano were charged with Murder with Multiple Frustrated
Murder in an information which reads:
That on or about the 6th of August 1995, at Brgy. San Pedro, Lupao, Nueva Ecija, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping
one another, with intent to kill and by means of treachery and evident premeditation, availing of nighttime to afford
impunity, and with the use of an explosive, did there and then willfully, unlawfully and feloniously lob a hand
grenade that landed and eventually exploded at the roof of the house of Jaime Agbanlog trajecting deadly
shrapnels that hit and killed one ROBERT AGBANLOG, per the death certificate, and causing Jerry Bullanday,
Jimmy Wabe, Lorenzo Eugenio, Rey Camat, Emelita Agbanlog and Elena Agbanlog to suffer shrapnel wounds on
their bodies, per the medical certificates; thus, to the latter victims, the accused commenced all the acts of
execution that would have produced the crime of Multiple Murder as consequences thereof but nevertheless did
not produce them by reason of the timely and able medical and surgical interventions of physicians, to the
damage and prejudice of the deceaseds heirs and the other victims.
CONTRARY TO LAW.1
On arraignment, appellants pleaded "not guilty".2 Trial on the merits then ensued.
As culled from the records, at around 7:00 in the evening of August 6, 1995, Robert Agbanlog, Jimmy Wabe, Gerry
Bullanday,3 Rey Camat and Lorenzo Eugenio were having a drinking spree on the terrace of the house of Roberts father,
Barangay Councilman Jaime Agbanlog, situated in Barangay San Pedro, Lupao, Nueva Ecija. Jaime Agbanlog was
seated on the banister of the terrace listening to the conversation of the companions of his son.4
As the drinking session went on, Robert and the others noticed appellants Antonio Comadre, George Comadre and Danilo
Lozano walking. The three stopped in front of the house. While his companions looked on, Antonio suddenly lobbed an
object which fell on the roof of the terrace. Appellants immediately fled by scaling the fence of a nearby school.5
The object, which turned out to be a hand grenade, exploded ripping a hole in the roof of the house. Robert Agbanlog,
Jimmy Wabe, Gerry Bullanday, Rey Camat and Lorenzo Eugenio were hit by shrapnel and slumped unconscious on the
floor.6 They were all rushed to the San Jose General Hospital in Lupao, Nueva Ecija for medical treatment. However,
Robert Agbanlog died before reaching the hospital.7
Dr. Tirso de los Santos, the medico-legal officer who conducted the autopsy on the cadaver of Robert Agbanlog, certified
that the wounds sustained by the victim were consistent with the injuries inflicted by a grenade explosion and that the
direct cause of death was hypovolemic shock due to hand grenade explosion.8 The surviving victims, Jimmy Wabe, Rey
Camat, Jaime Agbanlog and Gerry Bullanday sustained shrapnel injuries.9
SPO3 John Barraceros of the Lupao Municipal Police Station, who investigated the scene of the crime, recovered metallic
fragments at the terrace of the Agbanlog house. These fragments were forwarded to the Explosive Ordinance Disposal
Division in Camp Crame, Quezon City, where SPO2 Jesus Q. Mamaril, a specialist in said division, identified them as
shrapnel of an MK2 hand grenade.10
Denying the charges against him, appellant Antonio Comadre claimed that on the night of August 6, 1995, he was with his
wife and children watching television in the house of his father, Patricio, and his brother, Rogelio. He denied any
participation in the incident and claimed that he was surprised when three policemen from the Lupao Municipal Police
Station went to his house the following morning of August 7, 1995 and asked him to go with them to the police station,
where he has been detained since.11
Appellant George Comadre, for his part, testified that he is the brother of Antonio Comadre and the brother-in-law of
Danilo Lozano. He also denied any involvement in the grenade-throwing incident, claiming that he was at home when it
happened. He stated that he is a friend of Rey Camat and Jimmy Wabe, and that he had no animosity towards them
whatsoever. Appellant also claimed to be in good terms with the Agbanlogs so he has no reason to cause them any grief.
12
Appellant Danilo Lozano similarly denied any complicity in the crime. He declared that he was at home with his ten year-
old son on the night of August 6, 1995. He added that he did not see Antonio and George Comadre that night and has not
seen them for quite sometime, either before or after the incident. Like the two other appellants, Lozano denied having any
misunderstanding with Jaime Agbanlog, Robert Agbanlog and Jimmy Wabe.13
Antonios father, Patricio, and his wife, Lolita, corroborated his claim that he was at home watching television with them
during the night in question.14 Josie Comadre, Georges wife, testified that her husband could not have been among
those who threw a hand grenade at the house of the Agbanlogs because on the evening of August 6, 1995, they were
resting inside their house after working all day in the farm.15
After trial, the court a quo gave credence to the prosecutions evidence and convicted appellants of the complex crime of
Murder with Multiple Attempted Murder,16 the dispositive portion of which states:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered:
1. Finding accused Antonio Comadre, George Comadre and Danilo Lozano GUILTY beyond reasonable
doubt of the complex crime of Murder with Multiple Attempted Murder and sentencing them to suffer the
imposable penalty of death;
2. Ordering Antonio Comadre, George Comadre and Danilo Lozano to pay jointly and severally the heirs
of Robert Agbanlog P50,000.00 as indemnification for his death, P35,000.00 as compensatory damages
and P20,000.00 as moral damages;
8

3. Ordering accused Antonio Comadre, George Comadre and Danilo Lozano to pay jointly and severally
Jimmy Wabe, Rey Camat, Gerry Bullanday and Jaime Agbanlog P30,000.00 as indemnity for their
attempted murder.
Costs against the accused.
SO ORDERED.
Hence, this automatic review pursuant to Article 47 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended. Appellants contend that the
trial court erred: (1) when it did not correctly and judiciously interpret and appreciate the evidence and thus, the
miscarriage of justice was obviously omnipresent; (2) when it imposed on the accused-appellants the supreme penalty of
death despite the evident lack of the quantum of evidence to convict them of the crime charged beyond reasonable doubt;
and (3) when it did not apply the law and jurisprudence for the acquittal of the accused-appellants of the crime charged.17
Appellants point to the inconsistencies in the sworn statements of Jimmy Wabe, Rey Camat, Lorenzo Eugenio and Gerry
Bullanday in identifying the perpetrators. Wabe, Camat and Eugenio initially executed a Sinumpaang Salaysay on August
7, 1995 at the hospital wherein they did not categorically state who the culprit was but merely named Antonio Comadre as
a suspect. Gerry Bullanday declared that he suspected Antonio Comadre as one of the culprits because he saw the
latters ten year-old son bring something in the nearby store before the explosion occurred.
On August 27, 1995, or twenty days later, they went to the police station to give a more detailed account of the incident,
this time identifying Antonio Comadre as the perpetrator together with George Comadre and Danilo Lozano.
A closer scrutiny of the records shows that no contradiction actually exists, as all sworn statements pointed to the same
perpetrators, namely, Antonio Comadre, George Comadre and Danilo Lozano. Moreover, it appears that the first
statement was executed a day after the incident, when Jimmy Wabe, Rey Camat and Lorenzo Eugenio were still in the
hospital for the injuries they sustained. Coherence could not thus be expected in view of their condition. It is therefore not
surprising for the witnesses to come up with a more exhaustive account of the incident after they have regained their
equanimity. The lapse of twenty days between the two statements is immaterial because said period even helped them
recall some facts which they may have initially overlooked.
Witnesses cannot be expected to remember all the details of the harrowing event which unfolded before their eyes. Minor
discrepancies might be found in their testimony, but they do not damage the essential integrity of the evidence in its
material whole, nor should they reflect adversely on the witness credibility as they erase suspicion that the same was
perjured.18 Honest inconsistencies on minor and trivial matters serve to strengthen rather than destroy the credibility of a
witness to a crime, especially so when, as in the instant case, the crime is shocking to the conscience and numbing to the
senses.19
Moreover, it was not shown that witnesses Jimmy Wabe, Rey Camat, Lorenzo Eugenio and Gerry Bullanday had any
motive to testify falsely against appellants. Absent evidence showing any reason or motive for prosecution witnesses to
perjure, the logical conclusion is that no such improper motive exists, and their testimony is thus worthy of full faith and
credit.
The trial court is likewise correct in disregarding appellants defense of alibi and denial. For the defense of alibi to prosper,
the accused must prove not only that he was at some other place at the time of the commission of the crime but also that
it was physically impossible for him to be at the locus delicti or within its immediate vicinity.20
Apart from testifying with respect to the distance of their houses from that of Jaime Agbanlogs residence, appellants were
unable to give any explanation and neither were they able to show that it was physically impossible for them to be at the
scene of the crime. Hence, the positive identification of the appellants by eyewitnesses Jimmy Wabe, Jaime Agbanlog,
Rey Camat and Gerry Bullanday prevails over their defense of alibi and denial.21
It was established that prior to the grenade explosion, Rey Camat, Jaime Agbanlog, Jimmy Wabe and Gerry Bullanday
were able to identify the culprits, namely, appellants Antonio Comadre, George Comadre and Danilo Lozano because
there was a lamppost in front of the house and the moon was bright.22
Appellants argument that Judge Bayani V. Vargas, the Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of San Jose City,
Branch 38 erred in rendering the decision because he was not the judge who heard and tried the case is not well taken.
It is not unusual for a judge who did not try a case to decide it on the basis of the record for the trial judge might have
died, resigned, retired, transferred, and so forth.23 As far back as the case of Co Tao v. Court of Appeals24 we have held:
"The fact that the judge who heard the evidence is not the one who rendered the judgment and that for that reason the
latter did not have the opportunity to observe the demeanor of the witnesses during the trial but merely relied on the
records of the case does not render the judgment erroneous." This rule had been followed for quite a long time, and there
is no reason to go against the principle now.25
However, the trial courts finding of conspiracy will have to be reassessed. The undisputed facts show that when Antonio
Comadre was in the act of throwing the hand grenade, George Comadre and Danilo Lozano merely looked on without
uttering a single word of encouragement or performed any act to assist him. The trial court held that the mere presence of
George Comadre and Danilo Lozano provided encouragement and a sense of security to Antonio Comadre, thus proving
the existence of conspiracy.
We disagree.
Similar to the physical act constituting the crime itself, the elements of conspiracy must be proven beyond reasonable
doubt. Settled is the rule that to establish conspiracy, evidence of actual cooperation rather than mere cognizance or
approval of an illegal act is required.26
A conspiracy must be established by positive and conclusive evidence. It must be shown to exist as clearly and
convincingly as the commission of the crime itself. Mere presence of a person at the scene of the crime does not make
him a conspirator for conspiracy transcends companionship.27
The evidence shows that George Comadre and Danilo Lozano did not have any participation in the commission of the
crime and must therefore be set free. Their mere presence at the scene of the crime as well as their close relationship
with Antonio are insufficient to establish conspiracy considering that they performed no positive act in furtherance of the
crime.
9

Neither was it proven that their act of running away with Antonio was an act of giving moral assistance to his criminal act.
The ratiocination of the trial court that "their presence provided encouragement and sense of security to Antonio," is
devoid of any factual basis. Such finding is not supported by the evidence on record and cannot therefore be a valid basis
of a finding of conspiracy.
Time and again we have been guided by the principle that it would be better to set free ten men who might be probably
guilty of the crime charged than to convict one innocent man for a crime he did not commit.28 There being no conspiracy,
only Antonio Comadre must answer for the crime.
Coming now to Antonios liability, we find that the trial court correctly ruled that treachery attended the commission of the
crime. For treachery to be appreciated two conditions must concur: (1) the means, method and form of execution
employed gave the person attacked no opportunity to defend himself or retaliate; and (2) such means, methods and form
of execution was deliberately and consciously adopted by the accused. Its essence lies in the adoption of ways to
minimize or neutralize any resistance, which may be put up by the offended party.
Appellant lobbed a grenade which fell on the roof of the terrace where the unsuspecting victims were having a drinking
spree. The suddenness of the attack coupled with the instantaneous combustion and the tremendous impact of the
explosion did not afford the victims sufficient time to scamper for safety, much less defend themselves; thus insuring the
execution of the crime without risk of reprisal or resistance on their part. Treachery therefore attended the commission of
the crime.
It is significant to note that aside from treachery, the information also alleges the "use of an explosive"29 as an
aggravating circumstance. Since both attendant circumstances can qualify the killing to murder under Article 248 of the
Revised Penal Code,30 we should determine which of the two circumstances will qualify the killing in this case.
When the killing is perpetrated with treachery and by means of explosives, the latter shall be considered as a qualifying
circumstance. Not only does jurisprudence31 support this view but also, since the use of explosives is the principal mode
of attack, reason dictates that this attendant circumstance should qualify the offense instead of treachery which will then
be relegated merely as a generic aggravating circumstance.32
Incidentally, with the enactment on June 6, 1997 of Republic Act No. 829433 which also considers the use of explosives
as an aggravating circumstance, there is a need to make the necessary clarification insofar as the legal implications of the
said amendatory law vis--vis the qualifying circumstance of "by means of explosion" under Article 248 of the Revised
Penal Code are concerned. Corollary thereto is the issue of which law should be applied in the instant case. R.A. No.
8294 was a reaction to the onerous and anachronistic penalties imposed under the old illegal possession of firearms law,
P.D. 1866, which prevailed during the tumultuous years of the Marcos dictatorship. The amendatory law was enacted, not
to decriminalize illegal possession of firearms and explosives, but to lower their penalties in order to rationalize them into
more acceptable and realistic levels.34
This legislative intent is conspicuously reflected in the reduction of the corresponding penalties for illegal possession of
firearms, or ammunitions and other related crimes under the amendatory law. Under Section 2 of the said law, the
penalties for unlawful possession of explosives are also lowered. Specifically, when the illegally possessed explosives are
used to commit any of the crimes under the Revised Penal Code, which result in the death of a person, the penalty is no
longer death, unlike in P.D. No. 1866, but it shall be considered only as an aggravating circumstance. Section 3 of P.D.
No. 1866 as amended by Section 2 of R.A. 8294 now reads:
Section 2. Section 3 of Presidential Decree No. 1866, as amended, is hereby further amended to read as follows:
Section 3. Unlawful Manufacture, Sale, Acquisition, Disposition or Possession of Explosives. The penalty
of prision mayor in its maximum period to reclusion temporal and a fine of not less than Fifty thousand
pesos (P50,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person who shall unlawfully manufacture, assemble, deal
in, acquire, dispose or possess hand grenade(s), rifle grenade(s), and other explosives, including but not
limited to "pillbox," "molotov cocktail bombs," "fire bombs," or other incendiary devices capable of
producing destructive effect on contiguous objects or causing injury or death to any person.
When a person commits any of the crimes defined in the Revised Penal Code or special law with the use of the
aforementioned explosives, detonation agents or incendiary devises, which results in the death of any person or
persons, the use of such explosives, detonation agents or incendiary devices shall be considered as an
aggravating circumstance. (shall be punished with the penalty of death is DELETED.)
x x x x x x x x x.
With the removal of death as a penalty and the insertion of the term "xxx as an aggravating circumstance," the
unmistakable import is to downgrade the penalty for illegal possession of explosives and consider its use merely as an
aggravating circumstance.
Clearly, Congress intended R.A. No. 8294 to reduce the penalty for illegal possession of firearms and explosives. Also,
Congress clearly intended RA No. 8294 to consider as aggravating circumstance, instead of a separate offense, illegal
possession of firearms and explosives when such possession is used to commit other crimes under the Revised Penal
Code.
It must be made clear, however, that RA No. 8294 did not amend the definition of murder under Article 248, but merely
made the use of explosives an aggravating circumstance when resorted to in committing "any of the crimes defined in the
Revised Penal Code." The legislative purpose is to do away with the use of explosives as a separate crime and to make
such use merely an aggravating circumstance in the commission of any crime already defined in the Revised Penal Code.
Thus, RA No. 8294 merely added the use of unlicensed explosives as one of the aggravating circumstances specified in
Article 14 of the Revised Penal Code. Like the aggravating circumstance of "explosion" in paragraph 12, "evident
premeditation" in paragraph 13, or "treachery" in paragraph 16 of Article 14, the new aggravating circumstance added by
RA No. 8294 does not change the definition of murder in Article 248.
Nonetheless, even if favorable to the appellant, R.A. No. 8294 still cannot be made applicable in this case. Before the use
of unlawfully possessed explosives can be properly appreciated as an aggravating circumstance, it must be adequately
established that the possession was illegal or unlawful, i.e., the accused is without the corresponding authority or permit to
possess. This follows the same requisites in the prosecution of crimes involving illegal possession of firearm35 which is a
kindred or related offense under P.D. 1866, as amended. This proof does not obtain in the present case. Not only was it
not alleged in the information, but no evidence was adduced by the prosecution to show that the possession by appellant
of the explosive was unlawful.
It is worthy to note that the above requirement of illegality is borne out by the provisions of the law itself, in conjunction
10
with the pertinent tenets of legal hermeneutics.
A reading of the title36 of R.A. No. 8294 will show that the qualifier "illegal/unlawful ...possession" is followed by "of
firearms, ammunition, or explosives or instruments..." Although the term ammunition is separated from "explosives" by the
disjunctive word "or", it does not mean that "explosives" are no longer included in the items which can be illegally/
unlawfully possessed. In this context, the disjunctive word "or" is not used to separate but to signify a succession or to
conjoin the enumerated items together.37 Moreover, Section 2 of R.A. 8294,38 subtitled: "Section 3. Unlawful
Manufacture, Sale, Acquisition, Disposition or Possession of Explosives", clearly refers to the unlawful manufacture, sale,
or possession of explosives.
What the law emphasizes is the acts lack of authority. Thus, when the second paragraph of Section 3, P.D. No. 1866, as
amended by RA No. 8294 speaks of "the use of the aforementioned explosives, etc." as an aggravating circumstance in
the commission of crimes, it refers to those explosives, etc. "unlawfully" manufactured, assembled, dealt in, acquired,
disposed or possessed mentioned in the first paragraph of the same section. What is per se aggravating is the use of
unlawfully "manufactured or possessed" explosives. The mere use of explosives is not.
The information in this case does not allege that appellant Antonio Comadre had unlawfully possessed or that he had no
authority to possess the grenade that he used in the killing and attempted killings. Even if it were alleged, its presence
was not proven by the prosecution beyond reasonable doubt. Rule 110 of the 2000 Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure
requires the averment of aggravating circumstances for their application.39
The inapplicability of R.A. 8294 having been made manifest, the crime committed is Murder committed "by means of
explosion" in accordance with Article 248 (3) of the Revised Penal Code. The same, having been alleged in the
Information, may be properly considered as appellant was sufficiently informed of the nature of the accusation against
him.40
The trial court found appellant guilty of the complex crime of murder with multiple attempted murder under Article 48 of the
Revised Penal Code, which provides:
Art. 48. Penalty for complex crimes. When a single act constitutes two or more grave or less grave felonies, or
when an offense is a necessary means of committing the other, the penalty for the most serious crime shall be
imposed, the same to be applied in its maximum period.
The underlying philosophy of complex crimes in the Revised Penal Code, which follows the pro reo principle, is
intended to favor the accused by imposing a single penalty irrespective of the crimes committed. The rationale
being, that the accused who commits two crimes with single criminal impulse demonstrates lesser perversity than
when the crimes are committed by different acts and several criminal resolutions.
The single act by appellant of detonating a hand grenade may quantitatively constitute a cluster of several
separate and distinct offenses, yet these component criminal offenses should be considered only as a single
crime in law on which a single penalty is imposed because the offender was impelled by a "single criminal
impulse" which shows his lesser degree of perversity.41
Under the aforecited article, when a single act constitutes two or more grave or less grave felonies the penalty for the
most serious crime shall be imposed, the same to be applied in its maximum period irrespective of the presence of
modifying circumstances, including the generic aggravating circumstance of treachery in this case.42 Applying the
aforesaid provision of law, the maximum penalty for the most serious crime (murder) is death. The trial court, therefore,
correctly imposed the death penalty.
Three justices of the Court, however, continue to maintain the unconstitutionality of R.A. 7659 insofar as it prescribes the
death penalty. Nevertheless, they submit to the ruling of the majority to the effect that the law is constitutional and that the
death penalty can be lawfully imposed in the case at bar.
Finally, the trial court awarded to the parents of the victim Robert Agbanlog civil indemnity in the amount of P50,000.00,
P35,000.00 as compensatory damages and P20,000.00 as moral damages. Pursuant to existing jurisprudence43 the
award of civil indemnity is proper. However, the actual damages awarded to the heirs of Robert Agbanlog should be
modified, considering that the prosecution was able to substantiate only the amount of P18,000.00 as funeral expenses.
44
The award of moral damages is appropriate there being evidence to show emotional suffering on the part of the heirs of
the deceased, but the same must be increased to P50,000.00 in accordance with prevailing judicial policy.45
With respect to the surviving victims Jaime Agbanlog, Jimmy Wabe, Rey Camat and Gerry Bullanday, the trial court
awarded P30,000.00 each for the injuries they sustained. We find this award inappropriate because they were not able to
present a single receipt to substantiate their claims. Nonetheless, since it appears that they are entitled to actual damages
although the amount thereof cannot be determined, they should be awarded temperate damages of P25,000.00 each.46
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the appealed decision of the Regional Trial Court of San Jose City, Branch 39
in Criminal Case No. L-16(95) is AFFIRMED insofar as appellant Antonio Comadre is convicted of the complex crime of
Murder with Multiple Attempted Murder and sentenced to suffer the penalty of death. He is ordered to pay the heirs of the
victim the amount of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral damages and P18,000.00 as actual damages
and likewise ordered to pay the surviving victims, Jaime Agbanlog, Jimmy Wabe, Rey Camat and Gerry Bullanday,
P25,000.00 each as temperate damages for the injuries they sustained. Appellants Gregorio Comadre and Danilo Lozano
are ACQUITTED for lack of evidence to establish conspiracy, and they are hereby ordered immediately RELEASED from
confinement unless they are lawfully held in custody for another cause. Costs de oficio.
In accordance with Section 25 of Republic Act 7659 amending Article 83 of the Revised Penal Code, upon finality of this
Decision, let the records
of this case be forwarded to the Office of the President for possible exercise of pardoning power.
SO ORDERED.



11



















EN BANC
G.R. No. 141125 February 28, 2002
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs.
JEFFREY GARCIA y CARAGAY and THREE JOHN DOES, accused.
JEFFREY GARCIA y CARAGAY, accused-appellant.
D E C I S I O N
PER CURIAM:
This is an automatic review pursuant to Article 47 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 22 of Republic Act
No. 7659, of the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Baguio City, Branch 6, dated October 28, 1999, convicting
accused-appellant Jeffrey Garcia y Caragay of Forcible Abduction with Rape and three counts of Rape, and sentencing
him to death. 1
The victim, Cleopatra Changlapon, was nineteen years old and a sophomore student of B.S. Physical Therapy at the
Baguio Central University. On July 14, 1998, she left school at 6:30 p.m. to go home to Km. 3, La Trinidad, Benguet. As
she was crossing Bonifacio Street, Baguio City, she saw a white van approaching so she stopped to let it pass. Suddenly,
the van stopped in front of her. The rear door slid open and Cleopatra was pulled by the arms into the van. She struggled
as the door closed and the van sped away. Something was sprayed on her face which made her eyes sting and feel dizzy.
She shouted, then she felt a fist blow on her stomach and she fell unconscious. 2
When Cleopatra came to, she was inside a room. She was totally undressed and was lying flat on her back on a bed. In
the room with her were four men. One of them, who had Bombay features, was also totally naked while the other three
were clad in briefs and smoking cigarettes. The Bombay-looking man lay on top of her. She tried to push him away but he
held her left arm. Another man with long hair, whom she later identified as accused-appellant Jeffrey Garcia, burned her
right chin with a lighted cigarette. Cleopatra fought back but accused-appellant held her right arm. While accused-
appellant was seated on her right side and holding her, the Bombay-looking man proceeded to have sexual intercourse
with her. She tried to kick him and close her legs, but two men were holding her feet. The two men boxed her thighs and
burned her legs with cigarettes.3
After the Bombay-looking man finished having sexual intercourse with Cleopatra, accused-appellant took his turn and
went on top of her. One of the men sat on her right leg and pinned it down, while another held her left leg. Cleopatra tried
to punch accused-appellant with her right hand, but the Bombay-looking man held her right arm. Accused-appellant then
had sexual intercourse with her while holding her left arm. 4
The third man, whom Cleopatra noted had pimples on his face, went on top of her. The Bombay-looking man was still
holding her right arm, while the man on top of her held her left arm. She tried to close her legs but someone hit her right
thigh, which forced her to keep her legs apart. The third man with pimples succeeded in having carnal knowledge of her. 5
The fourth man was next in raping Cleopatra. By that time, she was feeling helpless and was too tired to struggle. As the
fourth man was having sexual intercourse with her, she saw the Bombay-looking man burning her panties with a lighted
12
cigarette. She closed her eyes and heard the men laughing. After the fourth man finished raping her, he got up. She felt
dizzy and her private parts were aching. She opened her eyes and tried to move, but accused-appellant hit her on the
abdomen. 6
One of the men again sprayed something on Cleopatras face which made her vision blurred. She heard somebody say
that it was 1:30.7 After that, she blacked out. When she regained consciousness, she was lying by the roadside
somewhere between Tam-awan and Longlong. It was still dark. She already had her clothes on. She felt pain all over her
body and was unable to move. A taxi passed by and picked her up. Although she was afraid to ride the taxi, she boarded it
just to get home. The taxi brought her to her house.8
Her aunt, Rufina Angog, saw Cleopatra alight the taxi crying. She also noticed that Cleopatras clothes were inverted and
she smelled bad. She woke up Cleopatras brothers and cousins.9 They asked her what happened. Cleopatra just kept
crying and was unable to talk. After some time, when she was able to regain her composure, she told them that she had
been raped by four men. 10
The following day, July 15, 1998, Cleopatra was brought to the Baguio City Police Station. After giving her statement to
the police, she was brought to the Crime Laboratory of the Baguio City Police, where she was examined by Dr. Vladimir
Villaseor.
In his Medico-Legal Report, Dr. Villaseor wrote the following findings:
FINDINGS:
General and Extra-genital:
Fairly nourished, fairly developed coherent female subject. Breasts are hemispherical with light brown areola and nipples
from which no secretion could be pressed out. Abdomen is soft and flabby.
The following are the injuries noted:
1. Second degree burns, mental region, measuring 1.3.1cm, 3cm from the anterior midline.
2. Second degree burns, left supra-mammary region, measuring 1 x 1cm, 8cm from the anterior midline.
3. Second degree burns, left supra-mammary region, measuring 0.6x0.6 cm, 8.5cm from the anterior midline.
4. Second degree burns, left hypothenar region, measuring 1x0.5cm, 7cm from the posterior midline.
5. Second degree burns, left middle 3rd of the left thigh, measuring 2x1cm, 13cm from the anterior midline.
6. Second degree burns, middle 3rd of the right thigh, measuring 1x 1cm, 10cm from the anterior midline.
7. Contusion, left mammary region, measuring 3x1cm, 5cm from the anterior midline.
8. Contusion, right mammary region, measuring 1x1cm, 9cm from the anterior midline.
9. Contusion, middle 3rd of the right arm, measuring 5x3cm, 3cm from the anterior midline.
10. Contusion, middle 3rd of the right thigh, measuing 6x4cm, 3cm from the anterior midline.
11. Hematoma, left zygomatic region, measuring 4x4cm 7cm from the anterior midline.
There is tenderness on the mammary region, both thighs and at the abdominal region.
Genital:
There is abundant growth of pubic hair. Labia majora are full convex, gaping, with the congested abraded labia minora
presenting in between. On separating the same is disclosed a congested hymen with shallow fresh lacerations at 7, 8 and
9 oclock and deep fresh laceration at 6 oclock positions. External vaginal orifice offers strong resistance to the
introduction of the examining index finger and the virgin-sized vaginal speculum. Vaginal canal is narrow with prominent
rugosities. Cervix is congested with moderate amount of whitish secretion.
C O N C L U S I O N :
Findings are compatible with recent loss of virginity.
Barring unforeseen complications, it is estimated that the above injuries will resolve in 14-15 days.
R E M A R K S :
Vaginal and peri-urethral smears are negative for gram (-) diplococci and POSITIVE for spermatozoa. 11
The panties that Cleopatra was wearing was also submitted to the Crime Laboratory for examination. Dr. Villaseor found
cigarette burns and seminal stains, 12 as well as stains of blood on the panties. 13 The Medico-Legal Report states:
SPECIMEN SUBMITTED:
Specimen "A" - One (1) white printed panty with cigarette burns and with suspected seminal stains.
x x x x x x x x x
F I N D I N G S :
Biochemical examination conducted on the above-mentioned specimen gave POSITIVE result to the test for the presence
of seminal stains.
13
C O N C L U S I O N :
Specimen "A" revealed the presence of seminal stains. 14
On July 17, 1998, Cleopatra went back to the police station and gave a description of the four rapists to the cartographer.
15 She likewise executed another sworn statement to the police. 16
Meanwhile, accused-appellant was arrested at 4:30 p.m. of July 17, 1998 in connection with another rape charge against
him filed by a certain Gilda Mangyo.
The cartographic sketches were published in the Sun-Star newspaper. Police Officers Gilbert Bulalit and Archibald Diaz
saw the sketches and noticed that one of the suspects depicted in the cartographic sketch bore a striking resemblance to
accused-appellant, who was in their custody. 17 On July 26, 1998, Cleopatra was summoned to the police station to
identify accused-appellant. She was brought to the upper floor of the police building and asked to look below on the
basketball court of the city jail and see if any of the inmates looked familiar to her. 18 Cleopatra recognized accused-
appellant among those watching the basketball game. 19
PO1 Bulalit brought accused-appellant to the office upstairs. When Cleopatra saw accused-appellant face to face, she
started to tremble and cry. Then she tried to attack him but she was restrained by the police officers. 20 On the same day,
Cleopatra gave a supplemental statement to the police, confirming her identification of accused-appellant as one of her
rapists.21
Inquest proceedings followed in due course. 22 On July 27, 1998, formal charges for forcible abduction with rape were
brought against accused-appellant and three John Does, under an information which alleged:
That on or about the 14th day of July, 1998, in the City of Baguio, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating and mutually aiding one another, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously, and by means of force and intimidation abduct CLEOPATRA CHANGLAPON, 19 years old, by
dragging her inside a van and taking her to Tam-awan Village, Baguio City, against her will and with lewd design, and
once inside a house, had carnal knowledge of her, also by means of force and intimidation and against her will.
CONTRARY TO LAW. 23
The information was docketed as Criminal Case No. 15805-R of the Regional Trial Court of Baguio City, Branch 6.
Accused-appellant was arraigned, wherein he entered a plea of not guilty. Trial ensued as against him, while the other
three unidentified accused remained at large.
Accused-appellant testified that he spent the whole day of July 14, 1998 at the boarding house where his brother-in-law
lived, located at No. 36 Torres Bugallon Street, Aurora Hills, Baguio City. His brother-in-law asked him to go there to take
care of his nephew. That evening, while he was in the said house watching television, some of his friends came over to
visit him. They brought a bottle of gin and began to have a drinking session. Accused-appellant did not join them because
his stomach was upset. Accused-appellants brother-in-law arrived a little before midnight, after which his guests left. 24
When asked about the charges of rape against him, he denied the same. 25
Catherine Faith Madella was among those who visited accused-appellant in the evening of July 14, 1998. She came to
know him through her friend, Joy Tabinas, who was a tenant at the said boarding house. Madella testified that she went to
the boarding house on July 14, 1998 at 9:00 p.m. At 12:00 midnight, she went to the bedroom of Joy Tabinas and slept
there. 26 Her testimony was corroborated by her boyfriend, Ronaldo T. Valdez, who also testified for the defense.27
Joy Tabinas likewise testified that on July 14, 1998, she was at the boarding house.1wphi1 She watched television with
accused-appellant from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. 28
On October 28, 1999, the trial court rendered its decision convicting accused-appellant of one count of forcible abduction
with rape and three counts of rape. The dispositive portion of the judgment reads:
WHEREFORE, the Court Finds the Accused Jeffrey Garcia guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the complex crime of
Forcible Abduction with Rape and likewise of the three (3) crimes of rape in conspiracy with three (3) others whose
identities and whereabouts are yet unknown as charged in the Information and hereby sentences him to the supreme
penalty of DEATH in each of the 4 offenses aforementioned; to indemnify the offended party, Cleopatra Changlapon, the
sum of One Hundred Forty Six Thousand, One Hundred Twenty Five Pesos and Seventy Five Centavos (P 146,125.75)
as actual damages and Fifty Thousand Pesos as moral damages without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency
and to pay one fourth (1/4) of the costs.
The police authorities are directed to exert all efforts to identify and arrest the three other accused whose identities and
whereabouts are yet unknown.
Meantime, pending their arrests, the case is Archived in respect to the three (3) other accused whose identities and
whereabouts are yet unknown to be revived upon their arrest.
SO ORDERED. 29
In his Brief, accused-appellant raises the following errors:
I
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING HEREIN ACCUSED-APPELLANT JEFFREY GARCIA Y CARAGAY
GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT FOR THE COMPLEX CRIME OF FORCIBLE ABDUCTION WITH RAPE AND
FOR THREE (3) COUNTS OF RAPE ALLEGEDLY COMMITTED IN CONSPIRACY WITH THREE (3) OTHERS WHOSE
IDENTITIES AND WHEREABOUTS ARE STILL UNKNOWN.
II
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT GIVING SCANT CONSIDERATION TO THE THEORY OF THE
DEFENSE THAT ACCUSED-APPELLANT JEFFREY GARCIA Y CARAGAY IS ONLY A LOOK-ALIKE OF THE REAL
CULPRIT.
14
III
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THAT CLEOPATRA CHANGLAPON HAD POSITIVELY IDENTIFIED
JEFFREY GARCIA Y CARAGAY AS ONE OF THOSE WHO ABDUCTED AND RAPED HER. 30
Accused-appellant assails his conviction based on complainants identification. According to him, the identification was
improperly suggested by the police. We are not persuaded. Based on our own review of the records of this case, we find
that complainant was neither influenced nor induced by the police to point to accused-appellant as one of her molesters.
On the contrary, the transcripts convincingly show that complainant was left to freely study the faces of the thirty or more
inmates on the basketball court below to see whether she recognized any of them. 31 There was no suggestion from the
police to point to the new detainee, who had just been arrested on another rape charge.
Owing to the gravity of the crime and penalty involved, we have meticulously studied the testimony of complainant
Cleopatra Changlapon and find it to be clear, straightforward and categorical. The details of her narration are consistent
on all material points. Her actions throughout her ordeal correspond to normal human behavior. We take particular note of
her natural and spontaneous reaction of crying and attacking her molester when brought before her face to face. The
records also eloquently exhibit that she repeatedly cried throughout her testimony. All of these actuations bear the ring of
truth and deserve full faith and credit.
More importantly, complainants narration of the events is well substantiated by the physical evidence. The second degree
burns found on her face, chest and thighs prove that she was indeed burned with lighted cigarettes whenever she
attempted to fight her assailants. The medico-legal officer confirmed that they were consistent with cigarette burns. 32
Furthermore, the contusions found on her body were said to be caused by a blunt instrument like a closed fist. 33 This
confirms her testimony that she was repeatedly hit to stop her from struggling. The medico-legal officer placed the time of
infliction of the external physical injuries on complainant within the last twenty-four hours. 34 The findings on her genitals
--- namely the gaping labia majora, the congested and abraded labia minora, and the lacerations --- all suggest the entry
of a foreign object, such as a fully erect male organ. 35 Finally, the presence of spermatozoa further confirms that
complainant recently had sexual intercourse. 36
In the face of complainants positive and categorical declarations that accused-appellant was one of her rapists, accused-
appellants alibi must fail.
It is a well-settled rule that positive identification of the accused, where categorical and consistent and without any
showing of ill motive on the part of the eyewitness testifying on the matter, prevails over alibi and denial which if not
substantiated by clear and convincing evidence are negative and self-serving evidence undeserving of weight in law. 37
Furthermore, in order that the defense of alibi may prosper, accused-appellant must establish not only that he was
somewhere else when the crime was committed but also that it was physically impossible for him to have been at the
scene of the crime at the time it was committed. 38 In the case at bar, the place of commission of the rapes ---
somewhere between Tam-awan and Longlong --- and the boarding house where accused-appellant alleged he was in the
evening of July 14, 1998, are both situated within Baguio City. The distance between Tam-awan and Aurora Hills,
especially at dawn, can be traversed in just a matter of minutes.
Indeed, as pointed out by the trial court, accused-appellants witnesses failed to account for his whereabouts after 12:00
midnight. At the time of the rape, complainant distinctly heard one of her molesters state the time as 1:30. Since it was still
dark when complainant was dropped off on the side of the road, it can safely be assumed that the crimes were committed
at dawn.
The trial court, therefore, did not err in convicting accused-appellant of the complex crime of forcible abduction with rape.
The two elements of forcible abduction, as defined in Article 342 of the Revised Penal Code, are: (1) the taking of a
woman against her will and (2) with lewd designs. The crime of forcible abduction with rape is a complex crime that occurs
when there is carnal knowledge with the abducted woman under 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. 39
In the case at bar, the information sufficiently alleged the elements of forcible abduction, i.e., the taking of complainant
against her against her will and with lewd design. It was likewise alleged that accused-appellant and his three co-accused
conspired, confederated and mutually aided one another in having carnal knowledge of complainant by means of force
and intimidation and against her will.
Aside from alleging the necessary elements of the crimes, the prosecution convincingly established that the carnal
knowledge was committed through force and intimidation. Moreover, the prosecution sufficiently proved beyond
reasonable doubt that accused-appellant succeeded in forcibly abducting the complainant with lewd designs, established
by the actual rape. 40
Hence, accused-appellant is guilty of the complex crime of forcible abduction with rape. He should also be held liable for
the other three counts of rape committed by his three co-accused, considering the clear conspiracy among them shown
by their obvious concerted efforts to perpetrate, one after the other, the crime. As borne by the records, all the four
accused helped one another in consummating the rape of complainant. While one of them mounted her, the other three
held her arms and legs. They also burned her face and extremities with lighted cigarettes to stop her from warding off her
aggressor. Each of them, therefore, is responsible not only for the rape committed personally by him but for the rape
committed by the others as well. 41
However, as correctly held by the trial court, there can only be one complex crime of forcible abduction with rape. The
crime of forcible abduction was only necessary for the first rape. Thus, the subsequent acts of rape can no longer be
considered as separate complex crimes of forcible abduction with rape. They should be detached from and considered
independently of the forcible abduction. Therefore, accused-appellant should be convicted of one complex crime of
forcible abduction with rape and three separate acts of rape. 42
The penalty for complex crimes is the penalty for the most serious crime which shall be imposed in its maximum period.
Rape is the more serious of the two crimes and, when committed by more than two persons, is punishable with reclusion
perpetua to death under Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 8353. Thus, accused-
appellant should be sentenced to the maximum penalty of death for forcible abduction with rape. 43
As regards the other three acts of rape, accused-appellant can only be sentenced to reclusion perpetua. The trial court
appreciated the aggravating circumstances of nighttime, superior strength and motor vehicle. However, these were not
15
alleged in the information. Under the amended provisions of Rule 110, Sections 8 and 9 of the Revised Rules on Criminal
Procedure, which took effect on December 1, 2000, aggravating as well as qualifying circumstances must be alleged in
the information, otherwise, they cannot be considered against the accused even if proven at the trial. Being favorable to
accused-appellant, this rule should be applied retroactively in this case. 44 Hence, there being no aggravating
circumstance that may be appreciated, and with no mitigating circumstance, the lesser of the two indivisible penalties
shall be applied, pursuant to Article 63, paragraph (2) of the Revised Penal Code.
Anent the matter of damages, the trial court correctly awarded the amount of P50,000.00 as moral damages.1wphi1 This
was justified by complainants emotional and physical suffering, as narrated in her testimony. 45 Notably, the prosecution
successfully proved that complainant lost her virginity during the rape. 46 As she narrated, virginity is a highly regarded
virtue among the people of Kalinga. 47
However, the trial court failed to award civil indemnity to the complainant.1wphi1 We have ruled that if rape is committed
or qualified by any of the circumstances which authorize the imposition of the death penalty, the civil indemnity shall be
not less than P75,000.00. 48 For the other three counts of simple rape, where the proper penalty is reclusion perpetua,
accused-appellant is liable for civil indemnity in the amount of P50,000.00 for each count. 49
We also find that the actual damages awarded by the trial court was well substantiated. Complainant presented the
required receipts for her medications, transportation and other expenses. 50 Complainant testified that as a member of
the Kalinga tribe, she had to undergo the korong and songa rituals, wherein they had to butcher several chickens, pigs,
and carabaos, thereby incurring total expenses of P90,000.00. 51 These rituals were intended for complainants safety
and to call on the tribes spirits so that no more violence or misfortune may befall her. 52 The grand total of all these
actual expenses, including those for medicines and transportation, as duly proved by the receipts and computations
presented in evidence, is P 146,125.75, 53 the amount awarded by the trial court.
WHEREFORE, based on the foregoing, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Baguio City, Branch 6, in Criminal
Case No. 15805-R, convicting accused-appellant Jeffrey Garcia y Caragay of one count of Forcible Abduction with Rape
and three counts of Rape, is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS. As modified, accused-appellant is sentenced to suffer the
penalty of Death for the complex crime of Forcible Abduction with Rape and Reclusion Perpetua for each of the three
counts of rape. Further, accused-appellant is ordered to pay complainant Cleopatra Changlapon the amounts of
P146,125.75 as actual damages, P75,000.00 as civil indemnity and P50,000.00 as moral damages. Costs against
accused-appellant.
In accordance with Article 83 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, upon finality of this Decision, let the records of this
case be forwarded to the Office of the President for possible exercise of pardoning power or executive clemency.
SO ORDERED.






















16


SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 154579 October 8, 2003
MA. LOURDES R. DE GUZMAN, petitioner, vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.
R E S O L U T I O N
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
The instant petition for review under Rule 45 assails the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals dated November 29, 2001 and
the subsequent Resolution dated August 1, 2002 denying the motion for reconsideration. The CA affirmed with
modification the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Makati City, Branch 145 in Criminal Case No. 96-1226,2 finding
herein petitioner, Ma. Lourdes de Guzman guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Theft.
The Information filed on July 9, 1996 reads as follows:
That on or about the 8th day of February, 1995, in the City of Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction
of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously with intent of
gain and without the consent of the owner thereof, take, steal and carry away several pieces of jewelry valued at
P4,600,000.00 belonging to one Jasmine Gongora, to the damage and prejudice of the said owner in the aforementioned
amount of P4,600,000.00.3
After due hearing, the trial court rendered its judgment on December 11, 1997, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, the guilt of the accused having been sufficiently established by proof beyond reasonable doubt, the Court
hereby finds the accused MA. LOURDES DE GUZMAN GUILTY of the present charge of THEFT and committed without
aggravating circumstance charged nor mitigating circumstance proved and applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law,
sentences her to suffer the minimum penalty of FOUR (4) YEARS and NINE (9) MONTHS and TEN (10) DAYS of prision
correccional, and the maximum penalty of TWENTY (20) YEARS of reclusion temporal, as well as the penalties accessory
thereto.
The Court further finds the accused MA. LOURDES DE GUZMAN civilly liable and orders her to pay the private offended
party, JASMINE GONGORA the sums of FOUR MILLION SIX HUNDRED FORTY THOUSAND PESOS (P4,640,000.00)
representing the value as proven of the stolen jewelries; FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P500,000.00) in moral
damages and TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P200,000.00) as reasonable attorneys fees and litigation expenses.
4
On appeal, the CA affirmed the conviction but reduced the award of damages, to wit:
WHEREFORE, upon the premises, We AFFIRM the decision appealed from with the MODIFICATION that the award for
actual damages is reduced to P1,500,00 and moral damages to P100,000. The award for attorneys fees is DELETED.5
Hence, this petition filed on September 24, 2002, raising the same issues in the CA that the decision of the trial court was
tried and decided by a biased judge; and that the judgment of conviction was not proven beyond reasonable doubt.
The Court required the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to comment.1awphi1.nt
On January 30, 2003, counsel for the petitioner filed a Manifestation informing the Court that the petitioner passed away
on January 13, 2003.6 The death of the petitioner resulted from a vehicular accident, as indicated in the Certificate of
Death attached thereto.7
At issue now before the Court is the effect of petitioners death on the instant petition.
Article 89 (1) of the Revised Penal Code clearly provides that:
Art. 89. How criminal liability is totally extinguished. -Criminal liability is totally extinguished;
1. By the death of the convict, as to the personal penalties; and as to pecuniary penalties, liability therefore is extinguished
only when the death of the offender occurs before final judgment;

The issue as to whether an action on the civil liability can survive and proceed against the estate of the deceased has
been settled in the case of People v. Bayotas8 where it was held that:
Upon death of the accused pending appeal of his conviction, the criminal action is extinguished inasmuch as there is no
longer a defendant to stand as the accused; the civil action instituted therein for recovery of civil liability ex delicto is ipso
facto extinguished, grounded as it is on the criminal.91awphi1.nt
The pecuniary liabilities adjudged against the petitioner are undeniably ex delicto. The petitioner was ordered to pay
actual damages, which is the value of the pieces of jewelry allegedly taken from the private complainant in the amount of
P1,500,000, as modified by the Court of Appeals; and moral damages of P100,000 for the fear and trauma caused to the
complainant because of the petitioners intrusion into her bedroom. These civil liabilities arose from the crime of Theft and
are based solely on said delict.
Although both the trial and the appellate courts found petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt, she had the right to
appeal her case to this Court of last resort and challenge the findings of the two courts below. The judgment of conviction
was pending review until her untimely demise. It has, therefore, not yet attained finality. Thus, pursuant to Article 89 of the
Revised Penal Code, it is incumbent upon the Court to dismiss the instant petition for review. The Court is dismissing the
case because there is no longer a need to continue with the review of the appeal. The lower courts decision has thus
17
become ineffectual.10
Needless to state, the civil liability attendant to the crime which includes the restitution of personal or real property11 is
also extinguished. A substitution of heirs in petitioners stead is no longer necessary.
WHEREFORE, the petition for review is DENIED. In view of the death of the petitioner, the appealed decision is SET
ASIDE. Costs de oficio.
SO ORDERED.




























THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 139033 December 18, 2002
JOVENDO DEL CASTILLO, petitioner, vs.
HON. ROSARIO TORRECAMPO, Presiding Judge, RTC of Camarines Sur, Branch 33 and PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, respondents.
D E C I S I O N
CORONA, J.:
The instant petition is one for the review, by way of appeal by certiorari, of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals dated
November 20, 1998, and of the Resolution dated June 14, 1999 denying the motion for reconsideration thereof.
18
Petitioner was charged on March 8, 1983 with violation of Section 178 (nn)2 of the 1978 Election Code in Criminal Case
No. F-1447 before Branch 33, Regional Trial Court, Camarines Sur. The Information alleged:
That on May 17, 1982, (Barangay Election Day), at around 8:15 P.M. in Barangay Ombao, Municipality of Bula, Province
of Camarines Sur, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused did, then and
there unlawfully conducted himself in a disorderly manner, by striking the electric bulb and two (2) kerosene petromax
lamps lighting the room where voting center no. 24 is located, during the counting of the votes in said voting center
plunging the room in complete darkness, thereby interrupting and disrupting the proceedings of the Board of Election
Tellers.3
On arraignment, petitioner pleaded not guilty. Thereafter, trial on the merits ensued.
On January 14, 1985, the trial court rendered judgment and declared petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
violating Section 178 (nn) of PD 1296, otherwise known as the 1978 Election Code, as amended, and sentenced
petitioner to suffer the indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of 1 year as minimum to 3 years as maximum.
Aggrieved, petitioner appealed his conviction to the Court of Appeals which eventually affirmed the decision of the trial
court in toto. Said decision became final and executory. Thus, the execution of judgment was scheduled on October 14,
1987.
On October 12, 1987, an urgent motion to reset the execution of judgment was submitted by petitioner through his
counsel. But it was denied for lack of merit.
During the execution of judgment, petitioner failed to appear which prompted the presiding judge to issue an order of
arrest of petitioner and the confiscation of his bond. However, petitioner was never apprehended. He remained at large.
Ten years later, on October 24, 1997, petitioner filed before the trial court a motion to quash the warrant issued for his
arrest on the ground of prescription of the penalty imposed upon him. However, it was denied. His motion for
reconsideration thereof was likewise denied.
Dissatisfied, petitioner filed with the Court of Appeals a Petition for Certiorari assailing the orders of the trial court denying
both his motion to quash the warrant of arrest and motion for reconsideration.
On November 20, 1998, the Court of Appeals rendered its now assailed decision dismissing the petition for lack of merit.
Following the denial of his motion for reconsideration, the instant petition was filed before us.
Petitioner asserts that the Court of Appeals gravely erred in holding that the penalty imposed upon petitioner has not
prescribed. Petitioner maintains that Article 93 of the Revised Penal Code provides that the period of prescription shall
commence to run from the date when the culprit should evade the service of his sentence. The Court of Appeals, in its
interpretation of the said provision, engaged in judicial legislation when it added the phrase "by escaping during the term
of the sentence" thereto, so petitioner claims.
Going over the merits of the petition, the Court finds that the Court of Appeals did not err in dismissing the petition for
certiorari.
The threshold issue in the instant case is the interpretation of Article 93 of the Revised Penal Code in relation to Article
157 of the same Code.
In dismissing the petition, the Court of Appeals ruled:
"Article 92 of the Revised Penal Code provides as follows:
When and how penalties prescribe The penalties imposed by the final sentence prescribed as follows:
1. Death and reclusion perpetua, in twenty years;
2. Other afflictive penalties, in fifteen years;
3. Correctional penalties, in ten years; with the exception of the penalty of arresto mayor, which prescribes in five
years;
4. Light penalties, in one year.
"And Article 93 of the Revised Penal Code, provides as follows:
Computation of the prescription of penalties The period of prescription of penalties shall commence to run from the date
when the culprit should evade the service of his sentence, and it shall be interrupted if the defendant should give himself
up, be captured, should go to some foreign country with which his Government has no extradition treaty, or should commit
another crime before the expiration of the period of prescription.
"The penalty imposed upon the petitioner is one (1) year of imprisonment as minimum to three (3) years of
imprisonment as maximum.
"The law under which the petitioner was convicted is a special law, the 1978 Election Code. This law does not
provide for the prescription of penalties. This being the case, We have to apply the provision of the Revised Penal
Code which allows the application of said code in suppletory character when it provides that:
Offenses which are or in the future may be punishable under special laws are not subject to the provision of this
code. This code shall be supplementary to such laws, unless the latter should specially provide the contrary.
"The penalty imposed upon the petitioner is a correctional penalty under Article 25 in relation to Article 27 of the
Revised Penal Code. Being a correctional penalty it prescribed in ten (10) years.
"The petitioner was convicted by a final judgment on June 14, 1986. Such judgment would have been executed
on October 14, 1986 but the accused did not appear for such proceeding. And he has never been apprehended.
"The contention of the petitioner is that said judgment prescribed on October 24, 1996.
19
"The issue here is whether or not the penalty imposed upon the petitioner has prescribed.
"The elements in order that the penalty imposed has prescribed are as follows:
1. That the penalty is imposed by final sentence.
2. That the convict evaded the service of the sentence by escaping during the term of his sentence.
3. That the convict who escaped from prison has not given himself up, or been captured, or gone to a
foreign country with which we have no extradition treaty or committed another crime.
4. That the penalty has prescribed, because of the lapse of time form the date of the evasion of the
service of the sentence by the convict.
(p. 93, Revised Penal Code by L. Reyes 93 ed.)
"From the foregoing elements, it is clear that the penalty imposed has not prescribed because the circumstances
of the case at bench failed to satisfy the second element, to wit That the convict evaded the service of the
sentence by escaping during the service of his sentence. As a matter of fact, the petitioner never served a single
minute of his sentence.
The foregoing conclusion of the Court of Appeals is consistent with the ruling of this Court in Tanega vs. Masakayan, et.
al.,4 where we declared that, for prescription of penalty imposed by final sentence to commence to run, the culprit should
escape during the term of such imprisonment.
The Court is unable to find and, in fact, does not perceive any compelling reason to deviate from our earlier
pronouncement clearly exemplified in the Tanega case.
Article 93 of the Revised Penal Code provides when the prescription of penalties shall commence to run. Under said
provision, it shall commence to run from the date the felon evades the service of his sentence. Pursuant to Article 157 of
the same Code, evasion of service of sentence can be committed only by those who have been convicted by final
judgment by escaping during the term of his sentence.
As correctly pointed out by the Solicitor General, "escape" in legal parlance and for purposes of Articles 93 and 157 of the
RPC means unlawful departure of prisoner from the limits of his custody. Clearly, one who has not been committed to
prison cannot be said to have escaped therefrom.
In the instant case, petitioner was never brought to prison. In fact, even before the execution of the judgment for his
conviction, he was already in hiding. Now petitioner begs for the compassion of the Court because he has ceased to live a
life of peace and tranquility after he failed to appear in court for the execution of his sentence. But it was petitioner who
chose to become a fugitive. The Court accords compassion only to those who are deserving. Petitioners guilt was proven
beyond reasonable doubt but he refused to answer for the wrong he committed. He is therefore not to be rewarded
therefor.
The assailed decision of the Court of Appeals is based on settled jurisprudence and applicable laws. It did not engage in
judicial legislation but correctly interpreted the pertinent laws. Because petitioner was never placed in confinement,
prescription never started to run in his favor.
WHEREFORE, for lack of merit, the petition is hereby DENIED.
SO ORDERED.
















20
















SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 152662 June 13, 2012
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, vs.
MA. THERESA PANGILINAN, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
PEREZ, J.:
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed this petition for certiorari1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, on behalf of
the Republic of the Philippines, praying for the nullification and setting aside of the Decision2 of the Court of Appeals (CA)
in CA-G.R. SP No. 66936, entitled "Ma. Theresa Pangilinan vs. People of the Philippines and Private Complainant Virginia
C. Malolos."
The fallo of the assailed Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. Accordingly, the assailed Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon
City, Branch 218, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and Criminal Cases Nos. 89152 and 89153 against petitioner Ma.
Theresa Pangilinan are hereby ordered DISMISSED.3
Culled from the record are the following undisputed facts:
On 16 September 1997, Virginia C. Malolos (private complainant) filed an affidavit-complaint for estafa and violation of
Batas Pambansa (BP) Blg. 22 against Ma. Theresa Pangilinan (respondent) with the Office of the City Prosecutor of
Quezon City. The complaint alleges that respondent issued nine (9) checks with an aggregate amount of Nine Million Six
Hundred Fifty-Eight Thousand Five Hundred Ninety-Two Pesos (P9,658,592.00) in favor of private complainant which
were dishonored upon presentment for payment.
On 5 December 1997, respondent filed a civil case for accounting, recovery of commercial documents, enforceability and
effectivity of contract and specific performance against private complainant before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Valenzuela City. This was docketed as Civil Case No. 1429-V-97.
Five days thereafter or on 10 December 1997, respondent filed a "Petition to Suspend Proceedings on the Ground of
Prejudicial Question" before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Quezon City, citing as basis the pendency of the civil
action she filed with the RTC of Valenzuela City.
On 2 March 1998, Assistant City Prosecutor Ruben Catubay recommended the suspension of the criminal proceedings
pending the outcome of the civil action respondent filed against private complainant with the RTC of Valenzuela City. The
recommendation was approved by the City Prosecutor of Quezon City.
Aggrieved, private complainant raised the matter before the Department of Justice (DOJ).
On 5 January 1999, then Secretary of Justice Serafin P. Cuevas reversed the resolution of the City Prosecutor of Quezon
City and ordered the filing of informations for violation of BP Blg. 22 against respondent in connection with her issuance of
City Trust Check No. 127219 in the amount of P4,129,400.00 and RCBC Check No. 423773 in the amount of
P4,475,000.00, both checks totaling the amount of P8,604,000.00. The estafa and violation of BP Blg. 22 charges
involving the seven other checks included in the affidavit-complaint filed on 16 September 1997 were, however,
dismissed.
21
Consequently, two counts for violation of BP Blg. 22, both dated 18 November 1999, were filed against respondent
Ma.Theresa Pangilinan on 3 February 2000 before the Office of the Clerk of Court, Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC),
Quezon City. These cases were raffled to MeTC, Branch 31on 7 June 2000.
On 17 June 2000, respondent filed an "Omnibus Motion to Quash the Information and to Defer the Issuance of Warrant of
Arrest" before MeTC, Branch 31, Quezon City. She alleged that her criminal liability has been extinguished by reason of
prescription.
The presiding judge of MeTC, Branch 31, Quezon City granted the motion in an Order dated 5 October 2000.
On 26 October 2000, private complainant filed a notice of appeal. The criminal cases were raffled to RTC, Branch 218,
Quezon City.
In a Decision dated 27 July 2001, the presiding judge of RTC, Branch 218, Quezon City reversed the 5 October 2000
Order of the MeTC. The pertinent portion of the decision reads:
xxx Inasmuch as the informations in this case were filed on 03 February 2000 with the Clerk of Court although received by
the Court itself only on 07 June 2000, they are covered by the Rule as it was worded before the latest amendment. The
criminal action on two counts for violation of BP Blg. 22, had, therefore, not yet prescribed when the same was filed with
the court a quo considering the appropriate complaint that started the proceedings having been filed with the Office of the
Prosecutor on 16 September 1997 yet.
WHEREFORE, the assailed Order dated 05 October 2000 is hereby REVERSED AND SET ASIDE. The Court a quo is
hereby directed to proceed with the hearing of Criminal Cases Nos. 89152 and 89153.4
Dissatisfied with the RTC Decision, respondent filed with the Supreme Court a petition for review5 on certiorari under
Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. This was docketed as G.R. Nos. 149486-87.
In a resolution6 dated 24 September 2000, this Court referred the petition to the CA for appropriate action.
On 26 October 2001, the CA gave due course to the petition by requiring respondent and private complainant to comment
on the petition.
In a Decision dated 12 March 2002, the CA reversed the 27 July 2001 Decision of RTC, Branch 218, Quezon City, thereby
dismissing Criminal Case Nos. 89152 and 89153 for the reason that the cases for violation of BP Blg. 22 had already
prescribed.
In reversing the RTC Decision, the appellate court ratiocinated that:
xxx this Court reckons the commencement of the period of prescription for violations of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 imputed
to [respondent] sometime in the latter part of 1995, as it was within this period that the [respondent] was notified by the
private [complainant] of the fact of dishonor of the subject checks and, the five (5) days grace period granted by law had
elapsed. The private respondent then had, pursuant to Section 1 of Act 3326, as amended, four years therefrom or until
the latter part of 1999 to file her complaint or information against the petitioner before the proper court.
The informations docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. 89152 and 89152(sic) against the petitioner having been filed with the
Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City only on 03 February 2000, the said cases had therefore, clearly prescribed.
xxx
Pursuant to Section 2 of Act 3326, as amended, prescription shall be interrupted when proceedings are instituted against
the guilty person.
In the case of Zaldivia vs. Reyes7 the Supreme Court held that the proceedings referred to in Section 2 of Act No. 3326,
as amended, are judicial proceedings, which means the filing of the complaint or information with the proper court.
Otherwise stated, the running of the prescriptive period shall be stayed on the date the case is actually filed in court and
not on any date before that, which is in consonance with Section 2 of Act 3326, as amended.
While the aforesaid case involved a violation of a municipal ordinance, this Court, considering that Section 2 of Act 3326,
as amended, governs the computation of the prescriptive period of both ordinances and special laws, finds that the ruling
of the Supreme Court in Zaldivia v. Reyes8 likewise applies to special laws, such as Batas Pambansa Blg. 22.9
The OSG sought relief to this Court in the instant petition for review.1wphi1 According to the OSG, while it admits that
Act No. 3326, as amended by Act No. 3585 and further amended by Act No. 3763 dated 23 November 1930, governs the
period of prescription for violations of special laws, it is the institution of criminal actions, whether filed with the court or
with the Office of the City Prosecutor, that interrupts the period of prescription of the offense charged.10 It submits that the
filing of the complaint-affidavit by private complainant Virginia C. Malolos on 16 September 1997 with the Office of the City
Prosecutor of Quezon City effectively interrupted the running of the prescriptive period of the subject BP Blg. 22 cases.
Petitioner further submits that the CA erred in its decision when it relied on the doctrine laid down by this Court in the case
of Zaldivia v. Reyes, Jr.11 that the filing of the complaint with the Office of the City Prosecutor is not the "judicial
proceeding" that could have interrupted the period of prescription. In relying on Zaldivia,12 the CA allegedly failed to
consider the subsequent jurisprudence superseding the aforesaid ruling.
Petitioner contends that in a catena of cases,13 the Supreme Court ruled that the filing of a complaint with the Fiscals
Office for preliminary investigation suspends the running of the prescriptive period. It therefore concluded that the filing of
the informations with the MeTC of Quezon City on 3 February 2000 was still within the allowable period of four years
within which to file the criminal cases for violation of BP Blg. 22 in accordance with Act No. 3326, as amended.
In her comment-opposition dated 26 July 2002, respondent avers that the petition of the OSG should be dismissed
outright for its failure to comply with the mandatory requirements on the submission of a certified true copy of the decision
of the CA and the required proof of service. Such procedural lapses are allegedly fatal to the cause of the petitioner.
Respondent reiterates the ruling of the CA that the filing of the complaint before the City Prosecutors Office did not
interrupt the running of the prescriptive period considering that the offense charged is a violation of a special law.
Respondent contends that the arguments advanced by petitioner are anchored on erroneous premises. She claims that
22
the cases relied upon by petitioner involved felonies punishable under the Revised Penal Code and are therefore covered
by Article 91 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC)14 and Section 1, Rule 110 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure.15
Respondent pointed out that the crime imputed against her is for violation of BP Blg. 22, which is indisputably a special
law and as such, is governed by Act No. 3326, as amended. She submits that a distinction should thus be made between
offenses covered by municipal ordinances or special laws, as in this case, and offenses covered by the RPC.
The key issue raised in this petition is whether the filing of the affidavit-complaint for estafa and violation of BP Blg. 22
against respondent with the Office of the City Prosecutor of Quezon City on 16 September 1997 interrupted the period of
prescription of such offense.
We find merit in this petition.
Initially, we see that the respondents claim that the OSG failed to attach to the petition a duplicate original or certified true
copy of the 12 March 2002 decision of the CA and the required proof of service is refuted by the record. A perusal of the
record reveals that attached to the original copy of the petition is a certified true copy of the CA decision. It was also
observed that annexed to the petition was the proof of service undertaken by the Docket Division of the OSG.
With regard to the main issue of the petition, we find that the CA reversively erred in ruling that the offense committed by
respondent had already prescribed. Indeed, Act No. 3326 entitled "An Act to Establish Prescription for Violations of
Special Acts and Municipal Ordinances and to Provide When Prescription Shall Begin," as amended, is the law applicable
to BP Blg. 22 cases. Appositely, the law reads:
SECTION 1. Violations penalized by special acts shall, unless otherwise provided in such acts, prescribe in accordance
with the following rules: (a) xxx; (b) after four years for those punished by imprisonment for more than one month, but less
than two years; (c) xxx.
SECTION 2. Prescription shall begin to run from the day of the commission of the violation of the law, and if the same be
not known at the time, from the discovery thereof and the institution of judicial proceedings for its investigation and
punishment.
The prescription shall be interrupted when proceedings are instituted against the guilty person, and shall begin to run
again if the proceedings are dismissed for reasons not constituting jeopardy.
Since BP Blg. 22 is a special law that imposes a penalty of imprisonment of not less than thirty (30) days but not more
than one year or by a fine for its violation, it therefor prescribes in four (4) years in accordance with the aforecited law. The
running of the prescriptive period, however, should be tolled upon the institution of proceedings against the guilty person.
In the old but oft-cited case of People v. Olarte,16 this Court ruled that the filing of the complaint in the Municipal Court
even if it be merely for purposes of preliminary examination or investigation, should, and thus, interrupt the period of
prescription of the criminal responsibility, even if the court where the complaint or information is filed cannot try the case
on the merits. This ruling was broadened by the Court in the case of Francisco, et.al. v. Court of Appeals, et. al.17 when it
held that the filing of the complaint with the Fiscals Office also suspends the running of the prescriptive period of a
criminal offense.
Respondents contention that a different rule should be applied to cases involving special laws is bereft of merit. There is
no more distinction between cases under the RPC and those covered by special laws with respect to the interruption of
the period of prescription. The ruling in Zaldivia v. Reyes, Jr.18 is not controlling in special laws. In Llenes v. Dicdican,19
Ingco, et al. v. Sandiganbayan,20 Brillante v. CA,21 and Sanrio Company Limited v. Lim,22 cases involving special laws,
this Court held that the institution of proceedings for preliminary investigation against the accused interrupts the period of
prescription. In Securities and Exchange Commission v. Interport Resources Corporation, et. al.,23 the Court even ruled
that investigations conducted by the Securities and Exchange Commission for violations of the Revised Securities Act and
the Securities Regulations Code effectively interrupts the prescription period because it is equivalent to the preliminary
investigation conducted by the DOJ in criminal cases.
In fact, in the case of Panaguiton, Jr. v. Department of Justice,24 which is in all fours with the instant case, this Court
categorically ruled that commencement of the proceedings for the prosecution of the accused before the Office of the City
Prosecutor effectively interrupted the prescriptive period for the offenses they had been charged under BP Blg. 22.
Aggrieved parties, especially those who do not sleep on their rights and actively pursue their causes, should not be
allowed to suffer unnecessarily further simply because of circumstances beyond their control, like the accuseds delaying
tactics or the delay and inefficiency of the investigating agencies.
We follow the factual finding of the CA that "sometime in the latter part of 1995" is the reckoning date of the
commencement of presumption for violations of BP Blg. 22, such being the period within which herein respondent was
notified by private complainant of the fact of dishonor of the checks and the five-day grace period granted by law elapsed.
The affidavit-complaints for the violations were filed against respondent on 16 September 1997. The cases reached the
MeTC of Quezon City only on 13 February 2000 because in the meanwhile, respondent filed a civil case for accounting
followed by a petition before the City Prosecutor for suspension of proceedings on the ground of "prejudicial question".
The matter was raised before the Secretary of Justice after the City Prosecutor approved the petition to suspend
proceedings. It was only after the Secretary of Justice so ordered that the informations for the violation of BP Blg. 22 were
filed with the MeTC of Quezon City.
Clearly, it was respondents own motion for the suspension of the criminal proceedings, which motion she predicated on
her civil case for accounting, that caused the filing in court of the 1997 initiated proceedings only in 2000.
As laid down in Olarte,25 it is unjust to deprive the injured party of the right to obtain vindication on account of delays that
are not under his control. The only thing the offended must do to initiate the prosecution of the offender is to file the
requisite complaint.
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the instant petition is GRANTED. The 12 March 2002 Decision of the Court of
Appeals is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Department of Justice is ORDERED to re-file the informations for
violation of BP Blg. 22 against the respondent.
SO ORDERED.

23



SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 172716 November 17, 2010
JASON IVLER y AGUILAR, Petitioner, vs.
HON. MARIA ROWENA MODESTO-SAN PEDRO, Judge of the Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 71, Pasig City, and
EVANGELINE PONCE, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
CARPIO, J.:
The Case
The petition seeks the review1 of the Orders2 of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City affirming sub-silencio a lower
courts ruling finding inapplicable the Double Jeopardy Clause to bar a second prosecution for Reckless Imprudence
Resulting in Homicide and Damage to Property. This, despite the accuseds previous conviction for Reckless Imprudence
Resulting in Slight Physical Injuries arising from the same incident grounding the second prosecution.
The Facts
Following a vehicular collision in August 2004, petitioner Jason Ivler (petitioner) was charged before the Metropolitan Trial
Court of Pasig City, Branch 71 (MeTC), with two separate offenses: (1) Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Slight Physical
Injuries (Criminal Case No. 82367) for injuries sustained by respondent Evangeline L. Ponce (respondent Ponce); and (2)
Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Homicide and Damage to Property (Criminal Case No. 82366) for the death of
respondent Ponces husband Nestor C. Ponce and damage to the spouses Ponces vehicle. Petitioner posted bail for his
temporary release in both cases.
On 7 September 2004, petitioner pleaded guilty to the charge in Criminal Case No. 82367 and was meted out the penalty
of public censure. Invoking this conviction, petitioner moved to quash the Information in Criminal Case No. 82366 for
placing him in jeopardy of second punishment for the same offense of reckless imprudence.
The MeTC refused quashal, finding no identity of offenses in the two cases.3
After unsuccessfully seeking reconsideration, petitioner elevated the matter to the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City,
Branch 157 (RTC), in a petition for certiorari (S.C.A. No. 2803). Meanwhile, petitioner sought from the MeTC the
suspension of proceedings in Criminal Case No. 82366, including the arraignment on 17 May 2005, invoking S.C.A. No.
2803 as a prejudicial question. Without acting on petitioners motion, the MeTC proceeded with the arraignment and,
because of petitioners absence, cancelled his bail and ordered his arrest.4 Seven days later, the MeTC issued a
resolution denying petitioners motion to suspend proceedings and postponing his arraignment until after his arrest.5
Petitioner sought reconsideration but as of the filing of this petition, the motion remained unresolved.
Relying on the arrest order against petitioner, respondent Ponce sought in the RTC the dismissal of S.C.A. No. 2803 for
petitioners loss of standing to maintain the suit. Petitioner contested the motion.
The Ruling of the Trial Court
In an Order dated 2 February 2006, the RTC dismissed S.C.A. No. 2803, narrowly grounding its ruling on petitioners
forfeiture of standing to maintain S.C.A. No. 2803 arising from the MeTCs order to arrest petitioner for his non-
appearance at the arraignment in Criminal Case No. 82366. Thus, without reaching the merits of S.C.A. No. 2803, the
RTC effectively affirmed the MeTC. Petitioner sought reconsideration but this proved unavailing.6
Hence, this petition.
Petitioner denies absconding. He explains that his petition in S.C.A. No. 2803 constrained him to forego participation in
the proceedings in Criminal Case No. 82366. Petitioner distinguishes his case from the line of jurisprudence sanctioning
dismissal of appeals for absconding appellants because his appeal before the RTC was a special civil action seeking a
pre-trial relief, not a post-trial appeal of a judgment of conviction.7
Petitioner laments the RTCs failure to reach the merits of his petition in S.C.A. 2803. Invoking jurisprudence, petitioner
argues that his constitutional right not to be placed twice in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense bars his
prosecution in Criminal Case No. 82366, having been previously convicted in Criminal Case No. 82367 for the same
offense of reckless imprudence charged in Criminal Case No. 82366. Petitioner submits that the multiple consequences of
such crime are material only to determine his penalty.
Respondent Ponce finds no reason for the Court to disturb the RTCs decision forfeiting petitioners standing to maintain
his petition in S.C.A. 2803. On the merits, respondent Ponce calls the Courts attention to jurisprudence holding that light
offenses (e.g. slight physical injuries) cannot be complexed under Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code with grave or less
grave felonies (e.g. homicide). Hence, the prosecution was obliged to separate the charge in Criminal Case No. 82366 for
the slight physical injuries from Criminal Case No. 82367 for the homicide and damage to property.
In the Resolution of 6 June 2007, we granted the Office of the Solicitor Generals motion not to file a comment to the
petition as the public respondent judge is merely a nominal party and private respondent is represented by counsel.
The Issues
Two questions are presented for resolution: (1) whether petitioner forfeited his standing to seek relief in S.C.A. 2803 when
the MeTC ordered his arrest following his non-appearance at the arraignment in Criminal Case No. 82366; and (2) if in the
negative, whether petitioners constitutional right under the Double Jeopardy Clause bars further proceedings in Criminal
Case No. 82366.
24
The Ruling of the Court
We hold that (1) petitioners non-appearance at the arraignment in Criminal Case No. 82366 did not divest him of
personality to maintain the petition in S.C.A. 2803; and (2) the protection afforded by the Constitution shielding petitioner
from prosecutions placing him in jeopardy of second punishment for the same offense bars further proceedings in
Criminal Case No. 82366.
Petitioners Non-appearance at the Arraignment inCriminal Case No. 82366 did not Divest him of Standing to Maintain the
Petition in S.C.A. 2803
Dismissals of appeals grounded on the appellants escape from custody or violation of the terms of his bail bond are
governed by the second paragraph of Section 8, Rule 124,8 in relation to Section 1, Rule 125, of the Revised Rules on
Criminal Procedure authorizing this Court or the Court of Appeals to "also, upon motion of the appellee or motu proprio,
dismiss the appeal if the appellant escapes from prison or confinement, jumps bail or flees to a foreign country during the
pendency of the appeal." The "appeal" contemplated in Section 8 of Rule 124 is a suit to review judgments of convictions.
The RTCs dismissal of petitioners special civil action for certiorari to review a pre-arraignment ancillary question on the
applicability of the Due Process Clause to bar proceedings in Criminal Case No. 82366 finds no basis under procedural
rules and jurisprudence. The RTCs reliance on People v. Esparas9 undercuts the cogency of its ruling because Esparas
stands for a proposition contrary to the RTCs ruling. There, the Court granted review to an appeal by an accused who
was sentenced to death for importing prohibited drugs even though she jumped bail pending trial and was thus tried and
convicted in absentia. The Court in Esparas treated the mandatory review of death sentences under Republic Act No.
7659 as an exception to Section 8 of Rule 124.10
The mischief in the RTCs treatment of petitioners non-appearance at his arraignment in Criminal Case No. 82366 as
proof of his loss of standing becomes more evident when one considers the Rules of Courts treatment of a defendant
who absents himself from post-arraignment hearings. Under Section 21, Rule 11411 of the Revised Rules of Criminal
Procedure, the defendants absence merely renders his bondsman potentially liable on its bond (subject to cancellation
should the bondsman fail to produce the accused within 30 days); the defendant retains his standing and, should he fail to
surrender, will be tried in absentia and could be convicted or acquitted. Indeed, the 30-day period granted to the
bondsman to produce the accused underscores the fact that mere non-appearance does not ipso facto convert the
accuseds status to that of a fugitive without standing.
Further, the RTCs observation that petitioner provided "no explanation why he failed to attend the scheduled
proceeding"12 at the MeTC is belied by the records. Days before the arraignment, petitioner sought the suspension of the
MeTCs proceedings in Criminal Case No. 82366 in light of his petition with the RTC in S.C.A. No. 2803. Following the
MeTCs refusal to defer arraignment (the order for which was released days after the MeTC ordered petitioners arrest),
petitioner sought reconsideration. His motion remained unresolved as of the filing of this petition.
Petitioners Conviction in Criminal Case No. 82367Bars his Prosecution in Criminal Case No. 82366
The accuseds negative constitutional right not to be "twice put in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense"13
protects him from, among others, post-conviction prosecution for the same offense, with the prior verdict rendered by a
court of competent jurisdiction upon a valid information.14 It is not disputed that petitioners conviction in Criminal Case
No. 82367 was rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction upon a valid charge. Thus, the case turns on the question
whether Criminal Case No. 82366 and Criminal Case No. 82367 involve the "same offense." Petitioner adopts the
affirmative view, submitting that the two cases concern the same offense of reckless imprudence. The MeTC ruled
otherwise, finding that Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Slight Physical Injuries is an entirely separate offense from
Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Homicide and Damage to Property "as the [latter] requires proof of an additional fact
which the other does not."15
We find for petitioner.
Reckless Imprudence is a Single Crime, its Consequences on Persons andProperty are Material Only to
Determine the Penalty
The two charges against petitioner, arising from the same facts, were prosecuted under the same provision of the Revised
Penal Code, as amended, namely, Article 365 defining and penalizing quasi-offenses. The text of the provision reads:
Imprudence and negligence. Any person who, by reckless imprudence, shall commit any act which, had it been
intentional, would constitute a grave felony, shall suffer the penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision
correccional in its medium period; if it would have constituted a less grave felony, the penalty of arresto mayor in its
minimum and medium periods shall be imposed; if it would have constituted a light felony, the penalty of arresto menor in
its maximum period shall be imposed.
Any person who, by simple imprudence or negligence, shall commit an act which would otherwise constitute a grave
felony, shall suffer the penalty of arresto mayor in its medium and maximum periods; if it would have constituted a less
serious felony, the penalty of arresto mayor in its minimum period shall be imposed.
When the execution of the act covered by this article shall have only resulted in damage to the property of another, the
offender shall be punished by a fine ranging from an amount equal to the value of said damages to three times such
value, but which shall in no case be less than twenty-five pesos.
A fine not exceeding two hundred pesos and censure shall be imposed upon any person who, by simple imprudence or
negligence, shall cause some wrong which, if done maliciously, would have constituted a light felony.
In the imposition of these penalties, the court shall exercise their sound discretion, without regard to the rules prescribed
in Article sixty-four.
The provisions contained in this article shall not be applicable:
1. When the penalty provided for the offense is equal to or lower than those provided in the first two paragraphs of
this article, in which case the court shall impose the penalty next lower in degree than that which should be
imposed in the period which they may deem proper to apply.
2. When, by imprudence or negligence and with violation of the Automobile Law, to death of a person shall be
caused, in which case the defendant shall be punished by prision correccional in its medium and maximum
25
periods.
Reckless imprudence consists in voluntary, but without malice, doing or failing to do an act from which material damage
results by reason of inexcusable lack of precaution on the part of the person performing or failing to perform such act,
taking into consideration his employment or occupation, degree of intelligence, physical condition and other
circumstances regarding persons, time and place.
Simple imprudence consists in the lack of precaution displayed in those cases in which the damage impending to be
caused is not immediate nor the danger clearly manifest.
The penalty next higher in degree to those provided for in this article shall be imposed upon the offender who fails to lend
on the spot to the injured parties such help as may be in this hand to give.
Structurally, these nine paragraphs are collapsible into four sub-groupings relating to (1) the penalties attached to the
quasi-offenses of "imprudence" and "negligence" (paragraphs 1-2); (2) a modified penalty scheme for either or both quasi-
offenses (paragraphs 3-4, 6 and 9); (3) a generic rule for trial courts in imposing penalties (paragraph 5); and (4) the
definition of "reckless imprudence" and "simple imprudence" (paragraphs 7-8). Conceptually, quasi-offenses penalize "the
mental attitude or condition behind the act, the dangerous recklessness, lack of care or foresight, the imprudencia
punible,"16 unlike willful offenses which punish the intentional criminal act. These structural and conceptual features of
quasi-offenses set them apart from the mass of intentional crimes under the first 13 Titles of Book II of the Revised Penal
Code, as amended.
Indeed, the notion that quasi-offenses, whether reckless or simple, are distinct species of crime, separately defined and
penalized under the framework of our penal laws, is nothing new. As early as the middle of the last century, we already
sought to bring clarity to this field by rejecting in Quizon v. Justice of the Peace of Pampanga the proposition that
"reckless imprudence is not a crime in itself but simply a way of committing it x x x"17 on three points of analysis: (1) the
object of punishment in quasi-crimes (as opposed to intentional crimes); (2) the legislative intent to treat quasi-crimes as
distinct offenses (as opposed to subsuming them under the mitigating circumstance of minimal intent) and; (3) the
different penalty structures for quasi-crimes and intentional crimes:
The proposition (inferred from Art. 3 of the Revised Penal Code) that "reckless imprudence" is not a crime in itself but
simply a way of committing it and merely determines a lower degree of criminal liability is too broad to deserve unqualified
assent. There are crimes that by their structure cannot be committed through imprudence: murder, treason, robbery,
malicious mischief, etc. In truth, criminal negligence in our Revised Penal Code is treated as a mere quasi offense, and
dealt with separately from willful offenses. It is not a mere question of classification or terminology. In intentional crimes,
the act itself is punished; in negligence or imprudence, what is principally penalized is the mental attitude or condition
behind the act, the dangerous recklessness, lack of care or foresight, the imprudencia punible. x x x x
Were criminal negligence but a modality in the commission of felonies, operating only to reduce the penalty therefor, then
it would be absorbed in the mitigating circumstances of Art. 13, specially the lack of intent to commit so grave a wrong as
the one actually committed. Furthermore, the theory would require that the corresponding penalty should be fixed in
proportion to the penalty prescribed for each crime when committed willfully. For each penalty for the willful offense, there
would then be a corresponding penalty for the negligent variety. But instead, our Revised Penal Code (Art. 365) fixes the
penalty for reckless imprudence at arresto mayor maximum, to prision correccional [medium], if the willful act would
constitute a grave felony, notwithstanding that the penalty for the latter could range all the way from prision mayor to
death, according to the case. It can be seen that the actual penalty for criminal negligence bears no relation to the
individual willful crime, but is set in relation to a whole class, or series, of crimes.18 (Emphasis supplied)
This explains why the technically correct way to allege quasi-crimes is to state that their commission results in damage,
either to person or property.19
Accordingly, we found the Justice of the Peace in Quizon without jurisdiction to hear a case for "Damage to Property
through Reckless Imprudence," its jurisdiction being limited to trying charges for Malicious Mischief, an intentional crime
conceptually incompatible with the element of imprudence obtaining in quasi-crimes.
Quizon, rooted in Spanish law20 (the normative ancestry of our present day penal code) and since repeatedly reiterated,
21 stands on solid conceptual foundation. The contrary doctrinal pronouncement in People v. Faller22 that "[r]eckless
impudence is not a crime in itself x x x [but] simply a way of committing it x x x,"23 has long been abandoned when the
Court en banc promulgated Quizon in 1955 nearly two decades after the Court decided Faller in 1939. Quizon rejected
Fallers conceptualization of quasi-crimes by holding that quasi-crimes under Article 365 are distinct species of crimes and
not merely methods of committing crimes. Faller found expression in post-Quizon jurisprudence24 only by dint of lingering
doctrinal confusion arising from an indiscriminate fusion of criminal law rules defining Article 365 crimes and the
complexing of intentional crimes under Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code which, as will be shown shortly, rests on
erroneous conception of quasi-crimes. Indeed, the Quizonian conception of quasi-crimes undergirded a related branch of
jurisprudence applying the Double Jeopardy Clause to quasi-offenses, barring second prosecutions for a quasi-offense
alleging one resulting act after a prior conviction or acquittal of a quasi-offense alleging another resulting act but arising
from the same reckless act or omission upon which the second prosecution was based.
Prior Conviction or Acquittal ofReckless Imprudence BarsSubsequent Prosecution for the Same Quasi-Offense
The doctrine that reckless imprudence under Article 365 is a single quasi-offense by itself and not merely a means to
commit other crimes such that conviction or acquittal of such quasi-offense bars subsequent prosecution for the same
quasi-offense, regardless of its various resulting acts, undergirded this Courts unbroken chain of jurisprudence on double
jeopardy as applied to Article 365 starting with People v. Diaz,25 decided in 1954. There, a full Court, speaking through
Mr. Justice Montemayor, ordered the dismissal of a case for "damage to property thru reckless imprudence" because a
prior case against the same accused for "reckless driving," arising from the same act upon which the first prosecution was
based, had been dismissed earlier. Since then, whenever the same legal question was brought before the Court, that is,
whether prior conviction or acquittal of reckless imprudence bars subsequent prosecution for the same quasi-offense,
regardless of the consequences alleged for both charges, the Court unfailingly and consistently answered in the
affirmative in People v. Belga26 (promulgated in 1957 by the Court en banc, per Reyes, J.), Yap v. Lutero27 (promulgated
in 1959, unreported, per Concepcion, J.), People v. Narvas28 (promulgated in 1960 by the Court en banc, per Bengzon
J.), People v. Silva29 (promulgated in 1962 by the Court en banc, per Paredes, J.), People v. Macabuhay30 (promulgated
in 1966 by the Court en banc, per Makalintal, J.), People v. Buan31 (promulgated in 1968 by the Court en banc, per
Reyes, J.B.L., acting C. J.), Buerano v. Court of Appeals32 (promulgated in 1982 by the Court en banc, per Relova, J.),
and People v. City Court of Manila33 (promulgated in 1983 by the First Division, per Relova, J.). These cases uniformly
barred the second prosecutions as constitutionally impermissible under the Double Jeopardy Clause.
26
The reason for this consistent stance of extending the constitutional protection under the Double Jeopardy Clause to
quasi-offenses was best articulated by Mr. Justice J.B.L. Reyes in Buan, where, in barring a subsequent prosecution for
"serious physical injuries and damage to property thru reckless imprudence" because of the accuseds prior acquittal of
"slight physical injuries thru reckless imprudence," with both charges grounded on the same act, the Court explained:34
Reason and precedent both coincide in that once convicted or acquitted of a specific act of reckless imprudence, the
accused may not be prosecuted again for that same act. For the essence of the quasi offense of criminal negligence
under article 365 of the Revised Penal Code lies in the execution of an imprudent or negligent act that, if intentionally
done, would be punishable as a felony. The law penalizes thus the negligent or careless act, not the result thereof. The
gravity of the consequence is only taken into account to determine the penalty, it does not qualify the substance of the
offense. And, as the careless act is single, whether the injurious result should affect one person or several persons, the
offense (criminal negligence) remains one and the same, and can not be split into different crimes and prosecutions.35 x
x x (Emphasis supplied)
Evidently, the Diaz line of jurisprudence on double jeopardy merely extended to its logical conclusion the reasoning of
Quizon.
There is in our jurisprudence only one ruling going against this unbroken line of authority. Preceding Diaz by more than a
decade, El Pueblo de Filipinas v. Estipona,36 decided by the pre-war colonial Court in November 1940, allowed the
subsequent prosecution of an accused for reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property despite his previous
conviction for multiple physical injuries arising from the same reckless operation of a motor vehicle upon which the second
prosecution was based. Estiponas inconsistency with the post-war Diaz chain of jurisprudence suffices to impliedly
overrule it. At any rate, all doubts on this matter were laid to rest in 1982 in Buerano.37 There, we reviewed the Court of
Appeals conviction of an accused for "damage to property for reckless imprudence" despite his prior conviction for "slight
and less serious physical injuries thru reckless imprudence," arising from the same act upon which the second charge
was based. The Court of Appeals had relied on Estipona. We reversed on the strength of Buan:38
Th[e] view of the Court of Appeals was inspired by the ruling of this Court in the pre-war case of People vs. Estipona
decided on November 14, 1940. However, in the case of People vs. Buan, 22 SCRA 1383 (March 29, 1968), this Court,
speaking thru Justice J. B. L. Reyes, held that
Reason and precedent both coincide in that once convicted or acquitted of a specific act of reckless imprudence, the
accused may not be prosecuted again for that same act. For the essence of the quasi offense of criminal negligence
under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code lies in the execution of an imprudent or negligent act that, if intentionally
done, would be punishable as a felony. The law penalizes thus the negligent or careless act, not the result thereof. The
gravity of the consequence is only taken into account to determine the penalty, it does not qualify the substance of the
offense. And, as the careless act is single, whether the injurious result should affect one person or several persons, the
offense (criminal negligence) remains one and the same, and can not be split into different crimes and prosecutions.
x x x x
. . . the exoneration of this appellant, Jose Buan, by the Justice of the Peace (now Municipal) Court of Guiguinto, Bulacan,
of the charge of slight physical injuries through reckless imprudence, prevents his being prosecuted for serious physical
injuries through reckless imprudence in the Court of First Instance of the province, where both charges are derived from
the consequences of one and the same vehicular accident, because the second accusation places the appellant in
second jeopardy for the same offense.39 (Emphasis supplied)
Thus, for all intents and purposes, Buerano had effectively overruled Estipona.
It is noteworthy that the Solicitor General in Buerano, in a reversal of his earlier stance in Silva, joined causes with the
accused, a fact which did not escape the Courts attention:
Then Solicitor General, now Justice Felix V. Makasiar, in his MANIFESTATION dated December 12, 1969 (page 82 of the
Rollo) admits that the Court of Appeals erred in not sustaining petitioners plea of double jeopardy and submits that "its
affirmatory decision dated January 28, 1969, in Criminal Case No. 05123-CR finding petitioner guilty of damage to
property through reckless imprudence should be set aside, without costs." He stressed that "if double jeopardy exists
where the reckless act resulted into homicide and physical injuries. then the same consequence must perforce follow
where the same reckless act caused merely damage to property-not death-and physical injuries. Verily, the value of a
human life lost as a result of a vehicular collision cannot be equated with any amount of damages caused to a motors
vehicle arising from the same mishap."40 (Emphasis supplied)
Hence, we find merit in petitioners submission that the lower courts erred in refusing to extend in his favor the mantle of
protection afforded by the Double Jeopardy Clause. A more fitting jurisprudence could not be tailored to petitioners case
than People v. Silva, 41 a Diaz progeny. There, the accused, who was also involved in a vehicular collision, was charged
in two separate Informations with "Slight Physical Injuries thru Reckless Imprudence" and "Homicide with Serious Physical
Injuries thru Reckless Imprudence." Following his acquittal of the former, the accused sought the quashal of the latter,
invoking the Double Jeopardy Clause. The trial court initially denied relief, but, on reconsideration, found merit in the
accuseds claim and dismissed the second case. In affirming the trial court, we quoted with approval its analysis of the
issue following Diaz and its progeny People v. Belga:42
On June 26, 1959, the lower court reconsidered its Order of May 2, 1959 and dismissed the case, holding:
[T]he Court believes that the case falls squarely within the doctrine of double jeopardy enunciated in People v. Belga, x x x
In the case cited, Ciriaco Belga and Jose Belga were charged in the Justice of the Peace Court of Malilipot, Albay, with
the crime of physical injuries through reckless imprudence arising from a collision between the two automobiles driven by
them (Crim. Case No. 88). Without the aforesaid complaint having been dismissed or otherwise disposed of, two other
criminal complaints were filed in the same justice of the peace court, in connection with the same collision one for damage
to property through reckless imprudence (Crim. Case No. 95) signed by the owner of one of the vehicles involved in the
collision, and another for multiple physical injuries through reckless imprudence (Crim. Case No. 96) signed by the
passengers injured in the accident. Both of these two complaints were filed against Jose Belga only. After trial, both
defendants were acquitted of the charge against them in Crim. Case No. 88. Following his acquittal, Jose Belga moved to
quash the complaint for multiple physical injuries through reckless imprudence filed against him by the injured
passengers, contending that the case was just a duplication of the one filed by the Chief of Police wherein he had just
been acquitted. The motion to quash was denied and after trial Jose Belga was convicted, whereupon he appealed to the
Court of First Instance of Albay. In the meantime, the case for damage to property through reckless imprudence filed by
one of the owners of the vehicles involved in the collision had been remanded to the Court of First Instance of Albay after
Jose Belga had waived the second stage of the preliminary investigation. After such remand, the Provincial Fiscal filed in
the Court of First Instance two informations against Jose Belga, one for physical injuries through reckless imprudence,
27
and another for damage to property through reckless imprudence. Both cases were dismissed by the Court of First
Instance, upon motion of the defendant Jose Belga who alleged double jeopardy in a motion to quash. On appeal by the
Prov. Fiscal, the order of dismissal was affirmed by the Supreme Court in the following language: .
The question for determination is whether the acquittal of Jose Belga in the case filed by the chief of police constitutes a
bar to his subsequent prosecution for multiple physical injuries and damage to property through reckless imprudence.
In the case of Peo[ple] v. F. Diaz, G. R. No. L-6518, prom. March 30, 1954, the accused was charged in the municipal
court of Pasay City with reckless driving under sec. 52 of the Revised Motor Vehicle Law, for having driven an automobile
in a !fast and reckless manner ... thereby causing an accident. After the accused had pleaded not guilty the case was
dismissed in that court !for failure of the Government to prosecute. But some time thereafter the city attorney filed an
information in the Court of First Instance of Rizal, charging the same accused with damage to property thru reckless
imprudence. The amount of the damage was alleged to be P249.50. Pleading double jeopardy, the accused filed a
motion, and on appeal by the Government we affirmed the ruling. Among other things we there said through Mr. Justice
Montemayor
The next question to determine is the relation between the first offense of violation of the Motor Vehicle Law prosecuted
before the Pasay City Municipal Court and the offense of damage to property thru reckless imprudence charged in the
Rizal Court of First Instance. One of the tests of double jeopardy is whether or not the second offense charged
necessarily includes or is necessarily included in the offense charged in the former complaint or information (Rule 113,
Sec. 9). Another test is whether the evidence which proves one would prove the other that is to say whether the facts
alleged in the first charge if proven, would have been sufficient to support the second charge and vice versa; or whether
one crime is an ingredient of the other. x x x
x x x x
The foregoing language of the Supreme Court also disposes of the contention of the prosecuting attorney that the charge
for slight physical injuries through reckless imprudence could not have been joined with the charge for homicide with
serious physical injuries through reckless imprudence in this case, in view of the provisions of Art. 48 of the Revised Penal
Code, as amended. The prosecutions contention might be true. But neither was the prosecution obliged to first prosecute
the accused for slight physical injuries through reckless imprudence before pressing the more serious charge of homicide
with serious physical injuries through reckless imprudence. Having first prosecuted the defendant for the lesser offense in
the Justice of the Peace Court of Meycauayan, Bulacan, which acquitted the defendant, the prosecuting attorney is not
now in a position to press in this case the more serious charge of homicide with serious physical injuries through reckless
imprudence which arose out of the same alleged reckless imprudence of which the defendant have been previously
cleared by the inferior court.43
Significantly, the Solicitor General had urged us in Silva to reexamine Belga (and hence, Diaz) "for the purpose of
delimiting or clarifying its application."44 We declined the invitation, thus:
The State in its appeal claims that the lower court erred in dismissing the case, on the ground of double jeopardy, upon
the basis of the acquittal of the accused in the JP court for Slight Physical Injuries, thru Reckless Imprudence. In the same
breath said State, thru the Solicitor General, admits that the facts of the case at bar, fall squarely on the ruling of the Belga
case x x x, upon which the order of dismissal of the lower court was anchored. The Solicitor General, however, urges a re-
examination of said ruling, upon certain considerations for the purpose of delimiting or clarifying its application. We find,
nevertheless, that further elucidation or disquisition on the ruling in the Belga case, the facts of which are analogous or
similar to those in the present case, will yield no practical advantage to the government. On one hand, there is nothing
which would warrant a delimitation or clarification of the applicability of the Belga case. It was clear. On the other, this
Court has reiterated the views expressed in the Belga case, in the identical case of Yap v. Hon. Lutero, etc., L-12669, April
30, 1959.45 (Emphasis supplied)
Article 48 Does not Apply to Acts Penalized Under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code
The confusion bedeviling the question posed in this petition, to which the MeTC succumbed, stems from persistent but
awkward attempts to harmonize conceptually incompatible substantive and procedural rules in criminal law, namely,
Article 365 defining and penalizing quasi-offenses and Article 48 on complexing of crimes, both under the Revised Penal
Code. Article 48 is a procedural device allowing single prosecution of multiple felonies falling under either of two
categories: (1) when a single act constitutes two or more grave or less grave felonies (thus excluding from its operation
light felonies46); and (2) when an offense is a necessary means for committing the other. The legislature crafted this
procedural tool to benefit the accused who, in lieu of serving multiple penalties, will only serve the maximum of the penalty
for the most serious crime.
In contrast, Article 365 is a substantive rule penalizing not an act defined as a felony but "the mental attitude x x x behind
the act, the dangerous recklessness, lack of care or foresight x x x,"47 a single mental attitude regardless of the resulting
consequences. Thus, Article 365 was crafted as one quasi-crime resulting in one or more consequences.
Ordinarily, these two provisions will operate smoothly. Article 48 works to combine in a single prosecution multiple
intentional crimes falling under Titles 1-13, Book II of the Revised Penal Code, when proper; Article 365 governs the
prosecution of imprudent acts and their consequences. However, the complexities of human interaction can produce a
hybrid quasi-offense not falling under either models that of a single criminal negligence resulting in multiple non-crime
damages to persons and property with varying penalties corresponding to light, less grave or grave offenses. The ensuing
prosecutorial dilemma is obvious: how should such a quasi-crime be prosecuted? Should Article 48s framework apply to
"complex" the single quasi-offense with its multiple (non-criminal) consequences (excluding those amounting to light
offenses which will be tried separately)? Or should the prosecution proceed under a single charge, collectively alleging all
the consequences of the single quasi-crime, to be penalized separately following the scheme of penalties under Article
365?
Jurisprudence adopts both approaches. Thus, one line of rulings (none of which involved the issue of double jeopardy)
applied Article 48 by "complexing" one quasi-crime with its multiple consequences48 unless one consequence amounts to
a light felony, in which case charges were split by grouping, on the one hand, resulting acts amounting to grave or less
grave felonies and filing the charge with the second level courts and, on the other hand, resulting acts amounting to light
felonies and filing the charge with the first level courts.49 Expectedly, this is the approach the MeTC impliedly sanctioned
(and respondent Ponce invokes), even though under Republic Act No. 7691,50 the MeTC has now exclusive original
jurisdiction to impose the most serious penalty under Article 365 which is prision correccional in its medium period.
Under this approach, the issue of double jeopardy will not arise if the "complexing" of acts penalized under Article 365
involves only resulting acts penalized as grave or less grave felonies because there will be a single prosecution of all the
resulting acts. The issue of double jeopardy arises if one of the resulting acts is penalized as a light offense and the other
28
acts are penalized as grave or less grave offenses, in which case Article 48 is not deemed to apply and the act penalized
as a light offense is tried separately from the resulting acts penalized as grave or less grave offenses.
The second jurisprudential path nixes Article 48 and sanctions a single prosecution of all the effects of the quasi-crime
collectively alleged in one charge, regardless of their number or severity,51 penalizing each consequence separately.
Thus, in Angeles v. Jose,52 we interpreted paragraph three of Article 365, in relation to a charge alleging "reckless
imprudence resulting in damage to property and less serious physical injuries," as follows:
[T]he third paragraph of said article, x x x reads as follows:
When the execution of the act covered by this article shall have only resulted in damage to the property of another, the
offender shall be punished by a fine ranging from an amount equal to the value of said damage to three times such value,
but which shall in no case be less than 25 pesos.
The above-quoted provision simply means that if there is only damage to property the amount fixed therein shall be
imposed, but if there are also physical injuries there should be an additional penalty for the latter. The information cannot
be split into two; one for the physical injuries, and another for the damage to property, x x x.53 (Emphasis supplied)
By "additional penalty," the Court meant, logically, the penalty scheme under Article 365.
Evidently, these approaches, while parallel, are irreconcilable. Coherence in this field demands choosing one framework
over the other. Either (1) we allow the "complexing" of a single quasi-crime by breaking its resulting acts into separate
offenses (except for light felonies), thus re-conceptualize a quasi-crime, abandon its present framing under Article 365,
discard its conception under the Quizon and Diaz lines of cases, and treat the multiple consequences of a quasi-crime as
separate intentional felonies defined under Titles 1-13, Book II under the penal code; or (2) we forbid the application of
Article 48 in the prosecution and sentencing of quasi-crimes, require single prosecution of all the resulting acts regardless
of their number and severity, separately penalize each as provided in Article 365, and thus maintain the distinct concept of
quasi-crimes as crafted under Article 365, articulated in Quizon and applied to double jeopardy adjudication in the Diaz
line of cases.1avvphi1
A becoming regard of this Courts place in our scheme of government denying it the power to make laws constrains us to
keep inviolate the conceptual distinction between quasi-crimes and intentional felonies under our penal code. Article 48 is
incongruent to the notion of quasi-crimes under Article 365. It is conceptually impossible for a quasi-offense to stand for
(1) a single act constituting two or more grave or less grave felonies; or (2) an offense which is a necessary means for
committing another. This is why, way back in 1968 in Buan, we rejected the Solicitor Generals argument that double
jeopardy does not bar a second prosecution for slight physical injuries through reckless imprudence allegedly because the
charge for that offense could not be joined with the other charge for serious physical injuries through reckless imprudence
following Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code:
The Solicitor General stresses in his brief that the charge for slight physical injuries through reckless imprudence could
not be joined with the accusation for serious physical injuries through reckless imprudence, because Article 48 of the
Revised Penal Code allows only the complexing of grave or less grave felonies. This same argument was considered and
rejected by this Court in the case of People vs. [Silva] x x x:
[T]he prosecutions contention might be true. But neither was the prosecution obliged to first prosecute the accused for
slight physical injuries through reckless imprudence before pressing the more serious charge of homicide with serious
physical injuries through reckless imprudence. Having first prosecuted the defendant for the lesser offense in the Justice
of the Peace Court of Meycauayan, Bulacan, which acquitted the defendant, the prosecuting attorney is not now in a
position to press in this case the more serious charge of homicide with serious physical injuries through reckless
imprudence which arose out of the same alleged reckless imprudence of which the defendant has been previously
cleared by the inferior court.
[W]e must perforce rule that the exoneration of this appellant x x x by the Justice of the Peace x x x of the charge of slight
physical injuries through reckless imprudence, prevents his being prosecuted for serious physical injuries through reckless
imprudence in the Court of First Instance of the province, where both charges are derived from the consequences of one
and the same vehicular accident, because the second accusation places the appellant in second jeopardy for the same
offense.54 (Emphasis supplied)
Indeed, this is a constitutionally compelled choice. By prohibiting the splitting of charges under Article 365, irrespective of
the number and severity of the resulting acts, rampant occasions of constitutionally impermissible second prosecutions
are avoided, not to mention that scarce state resources are conserved and diverted to proper use.
Hence, we hold that prosecutions under Article 365 should proceed from a single charge regardless of the number or
severity of the consequences. In imposing penalties, the judge will do no more than apply the penalties under Article 365
for each consequence alleged and proven. In short, there shall be no splitting of charges under Article 365, and only one
information shall be filed in the same first level court.55
Our ruling today secures for the accused facing an Article 365 charge a stronger and simpler protection of their
constitutional right under the Double Jeopardy Clause. True, they are thereby denied the beneficent effect of the favorable
sentencing formula under Article 48, but any disadvantage thus caused is more than compensated by the certainty of non-
prosecution for quasi-crime effects qualifying as "light offenses" (or, as here, for the more serious consequence
prosecuted belatedly). If it is so minded, Congress can re-craft Article 365 by extending to quasi-crimes the sentencing
formula of Article 48 so that only the most severe penalty shall be imposed under a single prosecution of all resulting acts,
whether penalized as grave, less grave or light offenses. This will still keep intact the distinct concept of quasi-offenses.
Meanwhile, the lenient schedule of penalties under Article 365, befitting crimes occupying a lower rung of culpability,
should cushion the effect of this ruling.
WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition. We REVERSE the Orders dated 2 February 2006 and 2 May 2006 of the
Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 157. We DISMISS the Information in Criminal Case No. 82366 against
petitioner Jason Ivler y Aguilar pending with the Metropolitan Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 71 on the ground of double
jeopardy.
Let a copy of this ruling be served on the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
SO ORDERED.

29














SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 111193 January 28, 1997
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs.
FERDINAND SUAREZ, alias "Jojo", LORETO REYES, alias "Dondon" and "Larry" WILFREDO LARA alias "Cortal"
and Willy"; MARIA VICTORIA G. SUAREZ; NOLI LICSI, alias "Nio"; VICENTE RODRIGUEZ, alias "Waway"; and
MORRIS SANTOS, alias. "Wanky", accused,
WILFREDO LARA, accused-appellant.

REGALADO, J.:
In the early hours of December 8, 1987, Arlene Tuyor was awakened by loud knocking sounds on the door of her room.
She was a domestic helper at that time, working in the household of Estrellita Guzman at 22 Sta. Teresita Street, Barrio
Capitolyo, Pasig, Metro Manila. Also in the house then were the nieces of Estrellita, namely, Maria Prescilla Guzman
(Babyruth), Maria Cristina Guzman (Cristy) and Maria Victoria Suarez (Marivic). Babyruth and Marivic had been adopted
by Estrellita as her own daughters. Marivic's husband, Ferdinand Suarez (Jojo), and her three children likewise lived in
Estrellita's bungalow-type house.
Upon opening the door, Tuyor was surprised to see Ferdinand Suarez, her "Seorito Jojo," surrounded by two men
wearing black nylon cloths over their heads and faces. One of the men had a big body frame while the other had a small
physique. The men immediately entered her room, tied her up land asked for her money. She was also asked if she knew
Jojo. Getting no response from Tuyor, the intruders left her room bringing Suarez with them.
From her room, Tuyor heard the sound of the microwave oven located in the kitchen. She also heard the main door of the
house slamming and someone crying in the house. When Tuyor went out of her room, she saw Marivic weeping in the
living room. She proceeded to her employer's bedroom and found Estrellita bleeding and lying on her bed. All this time,
accused Suarez was just sitting on the chair of the piano. 1
Estrellita later died due to severe hemorrhage secondary to stab wounds. Post-mortem examinations revealed that she
had sustained an elliptical and gaping wound on the right side of her abdomen and another wound of the same nature on
the left side of her back. Further examination also disclosed that the deceased suffered an incised wound on her left
thumb. 2
When police investigators arrived at the scene of the crime, they found a half-eaten chicken on the dining table, 3 four
pieces of black nylon cloth, 4 pieces of blue and white ropes, 5 three pieces of cloth, 6 and two strands of ordinarywire. 7
They initially surmised that the intruders had forcibly entered the house through its back door located in the kitchen. 8
They arrived at this conclusion after finding a piece of wire inserted in the knob of the kitchen door 9 and its chain lock's
anchor detached from the doorjamb. However, the door's dead bolt lock was intact and in perfect condition. 10
Ferdinand Suarez narrated to Patrolman Pablo Roxas 11 of the Eastern Police District (EPD) at Meralco Avenue, Pasig
what he claimed to have experienced on that fateful day, in this wise:
At around 3:00 A.M. of December 8, 1987, he was awakened by someone holding his hands and putting a piece of rag in
his mouth. When he opened his eyes, he saw somebody pointing a knife at him and another at his wife. He saw inside
their room six men with nylon cloths over their faces. When he was about to resist, one of the men hit him on the face and
threatened to kill him, his wife and his children. After they had tied and gagged him and also covered his eyes, the men
brought him out to the dining room. He heard the door of Estrellita being pushed open, and then Estrellita shouting.
Afterwards, he was brought to the room shared by Cristy and Babyruth and mauled in front of them. After that, he was
brought to the room of Arlene Tuyor. From the maid's room, he was again brought-to the dining room where he was tied to
one of the chairs of the dining table. From there, he heard the men cooking with the use of the microwave oven in the
30
kitchen. After a while, Estrellita cried loudly and called for Marivic. He later heard the running of the engine of one of their
cars and the main door being slammed shut. After the men left at about five o'clock in the morning, he discovered that the
trespassers had taken some things in the house such as a television set, a radio, a betamax and other household items.
As the police were getting no leads about the identity of the malefactors, the lawyer of the family of the deceased sought
the help of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). The case was assigned to Atty. Salvador Ranin. Atty. Ranin
concluded that the perpetrators could not have entered the house without the aid of somebody inside as the bolt lock of
the kitchen door can only be released from within. He had one suspect in mind, that is, Ferdinand Suarez, or Jojo. 12
Ranin had discovered in the course of his investigation that there were no signs of injuries or rope marks on Suarez and
that he was not on good terms with Estrellita when the crime happened. He was even found positive for deception after
taking the polygraph test at the NBI. Suarez eventually revealed to Ranin his involvement in the commission of the crime
after Ranin told him that he had damaging information to the effect that Suarez had left the house in the evening of
December 7, 1987.
In his sworn statement 13 before the NBI, Suarez said that one Loreto Reyes, alias "Dondon" or Larry, approached him
during the last week of November, 1987 and talked to him to allow Reyes and his group to rob their house as they badly
needed money for the Christmas season. It was only after the group threatened to kill him that Suarez acceded to their
demand, on the condition that they would only steal but should not kill him.
On November 29, 1987, Suarez gave to Reyes and his gang the keys to the door of the house, the door of Babyruth's and
Cristy's room, and the door of Estrellita's room in order to have them duplicated. He returned to Reyes and the others on
December 5, 1987 to receive instructions on what to do. He was told that the group would go to their place in the early
morning of December 8, 1987. On the agreed date, at around twelve o'clock noon, Suarez disengaged the bolt lock of the
kitchen door and unlocked the door of their rooms as earlier instructed by the gang.
The felons arrived at the house at around two o'clock in the morning and proceeded to Suarez and Marivic's room. Suarez
saw four men with covers on their faces, but he recognized one of them as Reyes through his voice and build. They
immediately bound Marivic and when one of the members of the gang was about to tie up Suarez, Reyes stopped him.
After Suarez was dragged out of the room, he told the group who were the occupants of the different rooms in the house.
Two men entered the room of Babyruth and Cristy while Reyes and the fourth man went to Estrellita's room. They were
able to enter Estrellita's room with the use of their duplicate key and after they had kicked open the door of her room.;
Estrellita shrieked when they went inside her room.
The two men brought Suarez to his sisters-in-law's room to point out to them what they could get from that room.
Afterwards, he was brought to the dining table. From there, he saw the men asking Estrellita for the keys of the gate of the
house and the car. After they brought Estrellita back to her room, two of the men brought Suarez to the maid's quarters.
Reyes asked Suarez to cook a chicken he found in the refrigerator While Suarez was cooking the chicken in the
microwave oven, the men took off the covers on their faces, smoked marijuana and drank liquor. They were not able to
finish eating the chicken because it was not evenly cooked. When Estrellita shouted the name of Marivic, Rodriguez, one
of the companions of Reyes, went to her room. Suarez heard only soft and fading moans from Estrellita after that.
Before they left, the marauders told Suarez not to tell the police or the NBI or else they would kill his mother, They
slammed the front door shut and used the car of Estrellita to leave the house at around five o'clock in the morning.
The NBI soon found out that "Dondon" or Larry is Loreto Reyes, a former neighbor of Suarez in San Miguel, Pasig where
he used to live before he transferred to his wife's residence at Barrio Capitolyo. 14 Reyes also admitted his participation in
the commission of the crime and gave a written statement 15 to the NBI.
He began his confession by implicating Wilfredo Lara in the crime. He said that while he, Arthur Lara, Morris Santos, and
Eduardo Lozada were doing nothing in their place in San Miguel, Pasig, Lara approached them and told them that he had
some good news. Lara told them that he was asked by Suarez to look for some men who could kill his Auntie Estrellita.
Reyes could not believe what he heard, so Lara called Suarez to let him tell the gang about his offer.
Apparently, Suarez wanted his aunt killed so that he and his wife could get at once any property that Marivic might inherit
from Estrellita upon the latter's demise. In exchange for the job, Suarez would allow them to steal what they wanted from
the house, in addition to giving them P100,000.00 after one month from the killing of Estrellita.
They initially planned to carry out the criminal plot on December 5, 1987 but the group of Reyes backed out on the agreed
date when they felt unsure about the plan. However, they had duplicates made of the keys to the house, which keys had
been left by Suarez under one of Estrellita's cars. The plan finally materialized on December 8, 1987 at about two o'clock
in the morning. The persons who were to execute the plan were Noli Licsi, Vicente Rodriguez, Morris Santos, and Reyes.
Before they went to Capitolyo, the group took some prohibited drugs and smoked marijuana.
Aided by the sketch of the house provided by Suarez, the group went directly to the back of the house and opened the
back door with their duplicate key. As agreed upon earlier, Suarez had released the bolt and chain lock of the said door to
facilitate their entry into the house. Once inside, Suarez, who was waiting for them there, instructed them to tie him and
his wife. After doing so, they opened the bedrooms of Babyruth, Cristy and Estrellita. The men then tied them up inside
their respective rooms. Since Santos and Licsi were the ones who entered Cristy's and Babyruth's room, Reyes could not
be sure what they got from those rooms.
Reyes further revealed that before they went into the house, Suarez had earlier loosened the screws of the chain lock on
the door of Estrellita's room. So, with their duplicate key and a little push from outside, Reyes and Rodriguez were able to
easily enter Estrellita's room. As Estrellita was surprised by the entry of the two men, she instinctively held the knife being
brandished by Reyes which thereby cut her thumb. The two men then tied Estrellita.
It was after the gang was able to tie all the occupants of the house that they started taking the betamax, jewelry, computer
machine, camera, watches and other things inside the house. Estrellita Guzman pointed out to them where they could find
her jewelry. They brought Suarez inside her room so that he could also show them where Estrellita's other jewelry and
valuables were, and then they covered her with a blanket.
After taking what they wanted, the scoundrels ate the chicken Suarez had cooked for them and drank the imported liquor
he offered. They also smoked marijuana."While they were drinking, Suarez remembered the maid, Tuyor, so he and two
men went to her room and staged a show of their mauling Suarez in front of her. They then tied the maid and continued
drinking outside. Thereafter, Suarez told the gang to kill Estrellita. Reyes said that Santos and Rodriguez were the ones
who stabbed Estrellita because they told him later that each of them stabbed the old lady once.
31
Before Reyes and the gang left the place, Marivic told them to get their television ranger and to disarrange the things in
their room to show that the couple was not spared by the criminals. Suarez ordered them to cut the telephone line and
Reyes did so. Then, Suarez told Reyes to pull the chain lock of the kitchen door to make it appear that the door had been
forced open from outside. Reyes complied with Suarez instructions. To hide the fact that a duplicate key was used in
opening the kitchen door, the perpetrators inserted a wire in the doorknob keyhole of the kitchen door upon the prodding
of Suarez.
The intruders left the house at around four o'clock in the morning. In getting out of the house, the gang used the front door
and rode in one of the cars of Estrellita. From the statement of Reyes, it appears that the cabal wore black nylon cloths
over their heads and faces when they committed the despicable crime.
Atty. Ranin was able to retrieve the duplicate keys used by the gang 16 from the father of Reyes 17 after Reyes had
admitted that the keys could be found in his father's house in Montalban. Wilfredo Lara was arrested by the NBI at the
house of his parents-in-law in Northern Samar. When brought to the NBI office at Taft Avenue, Manila, he likewise
confessed his participation in the crime and gave a sworn statement. 18
According to Lara, Suarez went to his house at San Miguel, Pasig on December 2, 1987 to ask him if he knew people who
would be willing and capable of robbing a house. Lara told him that there were some persons he knew who could do the
job and he brought Suarez to the group of Larry Reyes, Noli Licsi, Morris Santos and Vicente Rodriguez at Dr. Pilapil
Street, San Miguel, Pasig. When Reyes and Suarez started talking, Lara left the place.
On December 4, 1987, Lara saw Suarez talking with the same group in front of a store. He overheard them planning the
robbery .of a house in Barrio Capitolyo on December 8, 1987. On December 7, 1987, he again saw Suarez and the gang
when they agreed to consummate their earlier plan. Lara denied that he joined the group that robbed the house in Barrio
Capitolyo and added that he never received any share of the loot from them. He did not report the matter to the police for
fear of reprisal. He even went to the place of his in-laws at Nabas, Samar to avoid the group.
Based on the foregoing statements and on other evidence submitted by the NBI to the then provincial fiscal of the former
municipality of Pasig, an information for the crime of robbery with homicide was filed against Ferdinand Suarez, Loreto
Reyes, Wilfredo Lara, Maria Victoria G. Suarez, Noli Licsi, Vicente Rodriguez, and Morris Santos. The case was raffled to
Branch 152 of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig 19 and docketed as Criminal Case No. 72249.
As stated in the information, which was twice amended, the felony was allegedly committed as follows:
That on or about the 8th day of December, 1987 in the Municipality of Pasig, Metro Manila, Philippines a
place within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring and
confederating together with one Mauro Santos whose true identity and present whereabout is still
unknown and mutually helping and aiding with one another, by means of force, violence and intimidation
employed upon the person of one Estrellita Guzman did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
take, rob and carry away from the house of said Estrellita Guzman the following articles, to wit:
a. Jewelryb. Computer machinec. TC Sony Rangerd. Radio Cassettee. Five (5) assorted
cameras and other valuables
all in the total amount of P650,000.00 more or less; that on the occasion of the said robbery and for the
purpose of enabling them to take, rob and carry away the articles above-mentioned, herein accused;
conspiring and confederating together and mutually helping and aiding with one another, armed with
bladed weapons, with intent to kill, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously stab said
Estrellita Guzman, thereby causing the latter to sustain fatal injuries which directly caused herdeath. 20
Only accused Suarez, Reyes and Lara were brought within the jurisdiction of the lower court as the other accused went
into hiding and were able to evade the joint manhunt set up by the police and the NBI. Suarez, Reyes and Lara pleaded
not guilty despite their earlier confessions before the NBI. Although they admitted that they signed and placed their
thumbmarks on their respective statements, they tried to show during their trial that those statements were procured
through coercion, intimidation and violence by the NBI agents and without the assistance of counsel. Accused Suarez
reiterated the earlier version he gave to the EPD, while accused Reyes and Lara raised the defense of alibi by claiming
that they were respectively at Montalban, Rizal and Samar at the time the crime was committed.
The prosecution however, presented witnesses who were present during the taking of the statements of the accused and
they testified that those statements were given freely and voluntarily, and were take with observance of the constitutional
guarantees, during the custodial investigation.
Relying on the extrajudicial confessions of the accused and on the circumstantial evidence adduced by the prosecution,
the trial court found the three accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of robbery with homicide, and sentenced them to
suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to solidarily pay to the heirs of the victim P30,000.00 as death indemnity,
P420,00.00 for loss of earning capacity, and the costs. 21
While Suarez and Reyes have already accepted the trial court's verdict, Lara now questions the lower court's decision by
challenging the admissibility of their extrajudicial declarations marked as Exhibits O, P and Q. He claims that their
extrajudicial confessions were obtained through force and intimidation and without the benefit of an effective counsel. 22
It is important to note at the outset that this Court has no jurisdiction to review the judgment of conviction imposed upon
Suarez and Reyes for they have not filed any notice of appeal for themselves. 23 And while we are cognizant of the rule
that the right to claim the inadmissibility of an extrajudicial confession is personal in nature, in the sense that only the
confessant whose rights during an investigation were violated can raise an objection, 24 we deem it necessary to discuss
in this appeal the circumstances surrounding the execution of Reyes's sworn statement in evaluating appellant Lara's own
extra curia declaration. Although an extrajudicial confession is admissible only against the confessant, jurisprudence
makes it admissible as corroborative evidence of other facts that tend to establish the guilt of his co-accused. 25
The lower court treated the confessions of the three accused as interlocking confessions sufficient to corroborate and
bolster the truth of each accused's own incriminating statements. This doctrine of interlocking confessions has been
accepted and recognized in numerous decisions of this Court as an exception to the res incer alios acta rule and the
hearsay rule. 26 Reyes' confession is thus admissible against Lara to show the probable involvement of the latter in the
perpetration of the crime. Where the confession is used as circumstantial evidence to show the probability of participation
by an accused co-conspirator, that confession is receivable as evidence against him. 27
But while herein appellant does not deny the validity and operation of the above rule in his situation, he maintains that his
co-accused's confessions must comply with the requirements found in Section 12, Article III of the Constitution before they
can be considered probative of his guilt. 28 We see no need to rule on the admissibility of Suarez' statement because
32
Lara was never mentioned or implicated therein. What interests us is that of Reyes, since appellant Lara claims alleged
violence, torture and maltreatment suffered by him and Reyes at the hands of the NBI agents.
After a thorough review of the records of the case, we agree with the lower court's factual finding and conclusion that the
extrajudicial confessions of accused Reyes and appellant Lara were freely and voluntarily given and that their retraction
and claims of violence and coercion were merely belated contrivances and efforts at exculpation. Their claim that they
were forced to sign their respective statements was sufficiently refuted by the witnesses for the prosecution who were
present on the day and time the duo gave and signed their sworn statements. 29
Once the prosecution has shown that there was compliance with the constitutional requirement on pre-interrogation
advisories, a confession is presumed to be voluntary and the declarant bears the burden of proving that his confession is
involuntary and untrue. 30 The burden is on the accused to destroy this presumption. 31 A confession is admissible until
the accused successfully proves that it was given as a result of violence, intimidation, threat, or promise of reward or
leniency. 32
The sworn statements signed by accused Reyes and appellant Lara state that they had been informed of their rights
guaranteed under the Constitution. Reyes stated that he had been assisted by counsel during the custodial investigation
and appellant Lara confirmed that he was assisted by a lawyer when he waived his constitutional rights. Additionally,
several witnesses for the People testified before the lower court that the constitutional mandates were observed during
their investigation. Reyes and Lara were not even able to show any evil or dubious motive corrosive of the credibility of
these witnesses whom the court a quo found more worthy of belief than the witnesses for the defense.
Accused failed to submit any evidence, apart from their own testimony, that violence and intimidation had been inflicted
upon them to extort their sworn confessions. They never complained to Prosecutor Capistrano nor to anyone else about
the physical beatings that they claim had been inflicted upon them. They did not ask for medical assistance and there was
no proof that any such request was denied. Although Reyes submitted a medical certificate to attest to supposed injuries,
the court below did not believe it and accepted it merely to prove its existence. 33
Extrajudicial confessions independently made without collusion, almost identical with each other in their essential details
which could have been known only to the declarants, and corroborated by other evidence against the person or persons
implicated to show the probability of the latter's actual participation in the commission of the crime, are thus impressed
with features of voluntariness in their execution. 34 Also, the failure of an accused to complain to the swearing officer 35
or to file charges against the persons who allegedly maltreated him, although he had all the chances to do so, manifests
voluntariness in the execution of the confession. 36
We find no merit in herein appellant's contention that Atty. Saunar was not Reyes' own choice as counsel for the
interrogation. While the initial choice of the lawyer in cases where a person under custodial investigation cannot afford the
services of a lawyer is naturally lodged in the police investigators, the accused really has the final choice as he may reject
the counsel chosen for him and ask for another one. A lawyer provided by the investigators is deemed engaged by the
accused where he never raised any objection against the former's appointment during the course of the investigation and
the accused thereafter subscribes to the veracity of his statement before the swearing officer. 37
Here, while the lawyers of the accused were provided by the NBI, the accused never signified their desire to have a
lawyer of their own choice. Thus, we also disagree with appellant's claim that the lawyer who assisted him in his waiver
came in only after he had executed his waiver. His own statements shows that he waived his rights in the presence and
with the advice of Atty. Rodolfo Dahiroc.
To be an effective counsel, a lawyer need not challenge all the questions being propounded to his client. The presence of
a lawyer is not intended to stop an accused from saying anything which might incriminate him but, rather, it was adopted
in our Constitution to preclude the slightest coercion as would lead the accused to admit something false. 38 The counsel,
however, should never prevent an accused from freely and voluntarily telling the truth. 39 Hence, absent any showing that
the lawyers who assisted the accused were remiss in their duties, it can be safely concluded that the custodial
investigation of Reyes and Lara were regularly conducted. 40
Even disregarding for a moment Reyes' extrajudicial declaration, appellant Lara can still be held accountable under his
own sworn statement. Well-entrenched is the rule that it is not necessary that an eyewitness should testify to having seen
the accused committing the crime or had seen him under circumstances indicating his having committed the crime, before
the accused may be held liable under his confession. 41 This is how much weight and credence our jurisprudence gives
to a confession. The Rules of Court 42 provide that "(t)he declaration of an accused acknowledging his guilt of the offense
charged, or any offense necessarily included therein, may be given in evidence against him."
Of course, when the confession is made outside of court proceedings, it must be accompanied by evidence of the corpus
delicit to be sufficient for conviction. 43 If it is made freely and voluntarily, a confession constitutes evidence of a high
order since it is supported by the strong presumption that no sane person or one of a normal mind will deliberately and
knowingly confess himself to be the perpetrator of a crime unless prompted by truth andconscience. 44 Withal, appellant
Lara did not appeal in vain. Although he himself admitted his role in the crime of robbery with homicide, we deem it just
and equitable to delineate in this decision his exact criminal liability even though he failed to clearly raise it before us.
We reject the prosecution's theory and the trial court's conclusion that appellant acted as a lookout during the commission
of the special complex crime. The prosecution did not present any evidence showing that he took part in the planning or
execution of the crime nor any proof indicating that he profited from the fruits of the crime, or of acts indicative of
confederacy on his part.
The pictures of the reenactment depicting Lara's role in the commission of the crime 45 cannot be utilized as evidence of
his participation as a principal therein as that reenactment was conducted without any lawyer assisting appellant. We
have held that reenactments are covered by the right against self-incrimination. 46 Atty. Ranin himself admitted on the
witness stand that no lawyer assisted Lara during the reenactment because he could not find any available lawyer at that
time who could act as his counsel. 47
From Reyes and appellant's confessions, which we believe bear the mark of truth and credibility, it can only be inferred
that Lara merely introduced the group of Reyes to Suarez. With such a nominal role, we cannot conscientiously declare
that Lara was a co-conspirator or a principal by inducement or indispensable cooperation in the crime of robbery with
homicide.
Where the accused does not fall under any of the three concepts of principals defined in Article 17 of the Revised Penal
Code, he may only be considered guilty as an accomplice. 48 And where there is no showing of conspiracy or
confabulation on his part, and the extent of the accused's participation in the crime is uncertain, he should be given the
benefit of the doubt and be declared as a mere accomplice therein. 49 We are sufficiently persuaded to declare appellant
as a mere accomplice in the crime charged.
33
WHEREFORE, the penalty imposed upon accused-appellant Wilfredo Lara is hereby MODIFIED and he is sentenced to
suffer an indeterminate penalty of ten (10) years of prision mayor, as minimum, to seventeen (17) years and four (4)
months of reclusion temporal, as maximum.
The death indemnity awarded by the court a quo is hereby INCREASED to Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) in line with
present case law and policy, to be assessed against the accused and herein appellant in accordance with Article 110 of
the Revised Penal Code.
In all other respects, the judgment of the lower court is hereby AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.





















THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 108488 July 21, 1997
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs.
RODENCIO NARCA Y GAGARIN, BENJAMIN NARCA Y GAGARIN, RODELIO NARCA Y GAGARIN, and JAIME
BALDELAMAR Y SELMO, defendants-appellants.

FRANCISCO, J.:
For the death of Mauro Reglos, Jr. (hereinafter victim), defendants-appellants Rodencio @ "Rudy", Benjamin, Rogelio all
surnamed Narca and their brother-in-law Jaime @ Benjamin Baldelamar were charged 1 with the following information for
murder:
That on or about the 10th day of March, 1990, between 7:00 and 8:00 in the evening, at barangay Cavite,
municipality of Guimba, province of Nueva Ecija, Republic of the Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of
this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with intent to kill, with treachery and evident
premeditation, by conspiring, confederating and helping one another, and taking advantage of the
darkness of the night, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and hack with
bolos one MAURO REGLOS, JR., inflicting upon said victim fatal hack wounds that caused his
instantaneous death. 2
When appellants' failed in their motion to quash the above information, they filed a motion for bail. 3 During the bail
hearings on September 19, 1990, the victim's wife Elizabeth Reglos, who was with him on that fateful night, testified on
direct examination. Defense counsel requested the court that his cross-examination of Elizabeth be conducted on the next
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hearing, October 4, 1990. 4 Such cross-examination on said date never took place because Elizabeth and her son were
bludgeoned to death on September 28, 1990. 5 After hearing, the lower court denied bail. 6 During arraignment,
appellants pleaded "not guilty". 7 Trial ensued and the lower court thereafter rendered judgment 8 convicting appellants,
the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered, finding the accused Benjamin Narca
y Gagarin, Rodencio "Rudy" Narca y Gagarin, Rogelio Narca y Gagarin and Jaime "Benjamin"
Baldelamar y Selmo, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Murder, defined and penalized under
Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, and hereby sentences EACH of them to suffer the penalty of LIFE
IMPRISONMENT.
The said accused are likewise ordered to pay, jointly and severally, the heirs of the deceased Mauro
Reglos, Jr., the sum of P50,000.00 as indemnification fee, the sum of P29,000.00 as actual damages and
expenses, without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to pay the costs.
IT IS SO ORDERED. 9
The facts given credence by the trial court are as follows: 10
. . . (O)n March 10, 1990, between 7:00 to 8:00 o'clock in the evening, after spouses Mauro Reglos, Jr.
and Elizabeth Reglos have just come from the house of the father of Mauro Reglos, Jr. at Barangay
Cavite Plum, Guimba, Nueva Ecija, who was then sick, and on their way home to Sta. Ana, Guimba,
Nueva Ecija, accused Benjamin Narca suddenly hacked Mauro Reglos, Jr. at the back portion of his head
with a long bolo known as "panabas". When Mauro was about to fall at his back, Jaime Baldelamar,
Rogelio Narca and Rodencio "Rudy" Narca suddenly appeared, and they took turns in hacking Mauro
with bolos. When Mauro was being hacked, his wife Elizabeth screamed for help, and Arturo Reglos and
Dante Reglos responded and arrived at the scene of the incident. They saw Benjamin, Rodencio "Rudy"
and Rogelio, all surnamed Narca, and Jaime Baldelamar, all armed with bolos, guarding their brother
Mauro Reglos, Jr. who was lying face downward, soaked with blood, but still alive. Arturo Reglos and
Dante Reglos and Elizabeth Reglos cannot approach Mauro Reglos, Jr. because they were threatened by
the Narca brothers and Jaime Baldelamar. Two minutes after Arturo and Dante Reglos arrived, all the
accused left, but accused Rogelio Narca returned and hacked Mauro Reglos once more at his back.
On appeal to this court, appellants by way of defense (1) assail the validity of the preliminary investigation because they
were not represented therein by counsel and was therefore deprived of due process, (2) argue that the testimony of
Elizabeth Reglos in the bail hearings should not be given credence since she was not cross-examined, and (3) claim that
pending this appeal, appellant Benjamin executed an affidavit assuming full and sole responsibility for the victim's death
but nonetheless invokes self-defense while the other appellants in their respective affidavits state that they were not in the
scene of the crime. 11
All these defenses must fail.
On the first defense, there is nothing in the Rules which renders invalid a preliminary investigation held without
defendant's counsel. Not being a part of the due process clause 12 but a right merely created by law, preliminary
investigation if held within the statutory limitations cannot be voided. Appellant's argument, if sustained, would make a
mockery of criminal procedure, since all that a party has to do to thwart the validity of the preliminary investigation is for
their counsel not to attend the investigation. It must be emphasized that the preliminary investigation is not the venue for
the full exercise of the rights of the parties. This is why preliminary investigation is not considered as a part of trial but
merely preparatory thereto 13 and that the records therein shall not form part of the records of the case in court. 14
Parties may submit affidavits but have no right to examine witnesses though they can propound questions through the
investigating officer. 15 In fact, a preliminary investigation may even be conducted ex-parte in certain cases. 16 Moreover,
in Section 1 of Rule 112, the purpose of a preliminary investigation is only to determine a well grounded belief if a crime
was "probably" committed by an accused. 17 In any case, the invalidity or absence of a preliminary investigation does not
affect the jurisdiction of the court which may have taken cognizance of the information nor impair the validity of the
information or otherwise render it defective. 18
On their second defense, it is to be noted that the defense's failure to cross-examine Elizabeth Reglos was occasioned by
her supervening death. Lack of cross-examination due to the death of the witness does not necessarily render the
deceased's previous testimony expungible. Thus, this Court in Republic v. Sandiganbayan, 19 citing Fulgado v. CA. 20
said that:
The wholesale exclusion of testimonies was too inflexible a solution to the procedural impasse because it
prejudiced the party whose only fault was to die before he could be cross-examined. The prudent
alternative should have been to admit the direct examination so far as the loss of cross-examination could
have been shown to be not in that instance a material loss. And more compelling so in the instant case
where it has become evident that the adverse party was afforded a reasonable chance for cross-
examination but through his own fault failed to cross-examine the witness.
Where death prevents cross-examination under such circumstances that no responsibility of any sort can
be ascribed to the plaintiff or the witness, it seems a harsh measure to strike out all that has obtained in
the direct examination. (Emphasis supplied)
Besides, mere opportunity and not actual cross-examination is the essence of the right to cross-examine. 21
Appellants lost such opportunity when they sought the deferment of their cross-examination of Elizabeth, and they
only have themselves to blame in forever losing that right by reason of Elizabeth's demise. This Court hold that
the right to cross-examination
is a personal one which may be waived expressly or impliedly by conduct amounting to a renunciation of
the right of cross-examination. Thus, where a party has had the opportunity to cross-examine a witness
but failed to avail himself of it, he necessarily forfeits the right to cross-examine and the testimony given
on direct examination of the witness will be received or allowed to remain in the record. . . . (W)aiver of
the right to cross-examine may take various forms. But the common basic principle underlying the
application of the rule on implied waiver is that the party was given the opportunity to confront and cross-
examine an opposing witness but failed to fake advantage of if for reasons attributable to himself alone.
22 (Emphasis supplied)
We also find unmeritorious appellants' argument that Elizabeth's testimony, having been taken during the bail hearings,
cannot be used against them. Section 1(f) of Rule 115 provides that "either party may utilize as part of its evidence the
testimony of a witness who is deceased . . . given in another case or proceeding", and under Section 8 Rule 114 23 as
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amended by Circular 12-94 24, "evidence presented during the bail hearings," like the testimony of deceased witness
Elizabeth, are "considered automatically reproduced at the trial" subject only to the possible recall of the "witness for
additional examination unless the witness is dead outside the Philippines or otherwise unable to testify."
On their third defense, appellant Benjamin admits that he killed the victim but only in self-defense and that his co-
appellants, who are invoking alibi, had nothing to do with the crime.
One who claims self-defense must prove: (a) unlawful aggression, (b) reasonable necessity of the means employed to
prevent or repel it and (c) lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending himself. 25 In the case at
bench, the foremost element of unlawful aggression is absent. Unlawful aggression presupposes an actual or imminent
danger on the life or limb of a person. Mere shouting, intimidating or threatening attitude of the victim, assuming that to be
true, does not constitute unlawful aggression. 26 If there be any such aggression, it obviously came from appellants.
Evidence on record shows that the victim was only walking with his wife, when he was suddenly and without warning
attacked by appellants with "panabas" and bolos. He was hit at the back of his head chopping off a part of his skull
exposing his brain. 27 Where the attack is perpetrated suddenly and without warning, there is treachery. 28 Due to
appellants' treacherous acts, the outnumbered victim was caught by surprise and had no whimper of a chance to defend
himself. 29 This satisfies the two conditions of treachery:
(a) employment of means of execution that gives the person attacked no opportunity to
defend himself or to retaliate, and
(b) that said means of execution be deliberately and consciously adopted. 30
Once the fact of alevosia was established and proven, any claim of self defense cannot prosper for being
inconsistent with treachery.
In addition, the location and severity of the fatal wounds on the head exposing the brain 31 and the numerous
other wounds suffered by the victim belie the claim of self-defense but is indicative of a determined effort to kill. 32
Absent unlawful aggression, there would be no occasion for the second and third elements to be present. Thus,
appellant Benjamin failed to discharge his burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence the exculpatory
cause he invokes. 33 He must rely on the strength of his own evidence and not on the weakness of that for the
prosecution, for even if the latter's evidence is weak, it could not be disbelieved after he himself admitted the
killing. 34 Accordingly, his conviction will follow from his admission as author of the crime as well as his failure to
prove self defense by the required quantum of evidence. 35
With respect to the defense of alibi by the other appellants such defense, aside from being inherently weak and
easy to fabricate, crumbles in the face of their positive identification 36 by prosecution witnesses as being present
in the scene of the crime as well as the victim's dying declaration pointing to appellants as his assailants.
Appellants Rogelio and Rodencio's contention that they were irrigating their farm up to the late hour of 9:00 P.M.
on that fatal night is unbelievable since farm workers do not usually work up to that late hours. They had not
strictly complied with the requirements of time and place in their alibi by failing to show that they were somewhere
else when the crime occurred and that it was physically impossible for them to be at the scene at the covered
time. 37 Worth noting is that the distance of the houses of all appellants to the crime scene ranges from as near
as 3 meters to as far as 1,500 meters, and their field is about 800 meters away or a mere 15 minute walk
therefrom. 38 Although none among the prosecution witnesses presented in the trial proper saw the actual assault
by appellants on the victim, yet one witness (Arturo Reglos) testified that appellant Rogelio after leaving the scene
returned thereto and hacked the victim on his back one more time. 39 Appellant Jaime's denial of his participation
in the killing cannot stand against his positive identification in the scene holding a "panabas" together with other
appellants. The denial like alibi is weakened by the overwhelming evidence on record supporting a judgment of
conviction.
The circumstantial evidence on record also points to appellants' guilt. Pursuant to Section 3 of Rule 133
conviction may be had on circumstantial evidence considering that the requisites thereof were satisfied herein, to
wit:
there is more than one circumstance
the facts from which the inference are derived are proven; and
the combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt.
40
The following undisputed facts when combined produce a logical conclusion pointing to appellants' culpability: (a)
their presence in the scene of the crime at about 6:30 to 7:00 PM, (b) they were holding sharp instruments like
bolos or "panabas", (c) they were talking to each other after the hacking of the victim with appellant Benjamin
telling his co-appellants that he will be the only one who will admit responsibility, (d) they prevented and
threatened the rescuing wife and brothers of the victim to come near the latter's prostrate body. 41 (e) they all left
together, (f) they were positively identified by prosecution witnesses, (g) the medical examination showed that the
victim's wounds were caused by sharp or sharpened instruments 42 like the blood-stained "panabas"
appellants were seen holding.
Further damaging appellants avowed innocence is the testimony of Arturo Reglos that when he approached the
victim who was already lying on the ground soaked in his own blood, the latter told the former that he was hacked
and attacked by appellants. The victim even told witness Arturo why the appellants did this to him when he had no
fault. This is a clear case of a dying declaration the elements for its admissibility are as follows:
(a) the declaration must concern the crime and surrounding circumstances of the
declarant's death;
(b) it was made at a time when the declarant was under a consciousness of an
impending death;
(c) the declarant would have been competent to testify had he survived;
(d) the declaration is offered in any case in which the decedent is the victim. 43
All these elements are present in this case. The victim's declaration pertains to the hacking incident particularly
the identity of his assailants. Such declaration was made when the declarant is certain that his death is at hand,
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considering the degree or the wounds in his opened skull and that death supervened shortly afterwards. The rules does
not require that the declarant must first state explicitly his perception of the inevitability of his death so long as the
circumstances would justify a conclusion that the is conscious of his condition. 44 Further, the declarant was not
incompetent to testify since he possess personal knowledge of the facts and could make known such knowledge
to others just what he did. Competency to testify means ability to perceive, to retain what has been perceived
and to express what has been retained. Thus, the statement of the victim has the vestiges of a dying declaration
and even if not, there can be no doubt about its admissibility as part of the res gestae. 45
With respect to the qualifying circumstances of evident premeditation and nighttime, the same were not proven
and are not supported by evidence on record. To appreciate evident premeditation three elements must be
established:
(1) the time when the offender determined to commit the crime;
(2) an act manifestly indicating that the offender had clung to his determination; and
(3) a sufficient lapse of time between the determination to commit the crime and the
execution thereof, to allow the offender to reflect upon the consequences of his act. 46
The records are bereft of direct evidence that appellants concocted and deliberately executed any plan or
preparation to kill the victim. 47 The prosecution failed to prove evident premeditation by evidence as clear as the
crime itself. 48 With respect to the circumstance of nighttime, the mere fact that the crime was committed at about
6:30-7:00 p.m. does not prove that appellants used the darkness of the night to facilitate their evil design. 49
Again the record is silent whether appellants took advantage of or purposely sought 50 nocturnity or that it
facilitated the perpetration of their felonious acts. 51 Be that as it may, nighttime is absorbed in treachery. 52
As to the allegation of conspiracy, this is sustained by evidence on record. The victim was first hacked on the back by
appellant Benjamin and then almost simultaneously by the other appellants. After the victim fell to the ground with blood
oozing from his wounds, appellants were seen talking with each other and even left the crime scene together. Although,
conspiracy like the crime must be proven beyond doubt, 53 it need not be established by direct proof. 54 So long as the
acts of the conspirators are characterize by unity of purpose, intent anddesign 55 in order to effect a common unlawful
objective 56 conspiracy exists as such fact may be inferred from the coordinated acts and movements of the co-
conspirators. 57 Appellants' action implicitly showed unity of purpose among them a concerted effort to bring about the
death of the victim. 58 Having established conspiracy, all the appellants are answerable as co-principals regardless of
their degree of participation. 59 Thus, it becomes secondary 60 and unnecessary to determine who inflicted the fatal
wounds 61 the act of one is the act of all and that all must suffer for their acts. 62
At any rate, the appeal assails the factual findings of the trial court which are generally accorded great weight and respect
on appeal, especially since in this case, such findings are supported by substantial evidence on record. 63 Likewise, the
evaluation and assessment of credibility of witness is best left to the trial court judge because of his unique position of
having observed that elusive and incommunicable evidence of the witnesses deportment on the stand, which opportunity
is denied to the reviewing court. 64 As aptly observed by the trial court:
[T]he testimonies of the accused and their witnesses, aside from being self-serving, improbable, hard to
believe, and (sic) not in accordance with common knowledge and experience of mankind.
On the other hand, the testimonies of prosecution witness Elizabeth Reglos and the other witnesses
Arturo Reglos and Dante Reglos are very revealing, straight to the point, probable and consistent. 65
No cogent reasons or material circumstances were shown to have been overlooked, misunderstood or
disregarded by the trial court, which if considered will vary the outcome of the case. 66
Before we conclude, it is erroneous for the trial court to impose on appellants "life imprisonment" as it is nowhere in the
scheme of penalties in the Revised Penal Code 67 nor is it a penalty similar to "reclusion perpetua". 68 The appealed
judgment is dated September 1992. As early as 1948, the Court had made it clear that reclusion perpetua is not the same
as life imprisonment, and that "no trial judge should mistake one for the other". 69 This ruling was reiterated in the case of
People v. Baguio promulgated on April 30, 1991. 70 It is for this reason that Supreme Court Administrative Circular 6-A-92
(dated June 21, 1993) which amended Circular 6-92 (dated October 12, 1992) enjoins trial judges to strictly observe the
distinction between life imprisonment and reclusion perpetua in order to curb the erroneous practice of using them
interchangeably in the imposition of penalty in serious offenses like murder.
Prior to the Heinous Crimes Law (R.A. 7659) the penalty for murder was "reclusion temporal maximum to death". 71 In
accordance with the graduation of penalties in Article 63, when there is neither mitigating nor aggravating circumstance,
as in this case, the penalty is the medium period which is reclusion perpetua.
WHEREFORE, subject to the modification that each appellant shall suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and not life
imprisonment, the appealed decision of the Regional Trial Court of Guimba, Nueva Ecija convicting appellants Rodencio,
Benjamin, Rogelio all surnamed Narca and Jaime Baldelamar of murder and the imposition of the monetary awards are
AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.


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