People v. Del Rosario, GR 127755, 1 April 1999
On 13 May 1996 between 6:00 and 6:30 p.m., Paul Vincent Alonzo stopped his tricycle by the side of
Nita's Drugstore, General Luna St., Cabanatuan City, when three women flagged him. Parked at a distance of about 1½ meters in front of him was a tricycle driven by Joselito del Rosario y Pascual. At that point, Alonzo saw 2 men and a woman (Virginia Bernas) grappling for possession of a bag. After taking hold of the bag one of the two men (Ernesto "Jun" Marquez) armed with a gun started chasing a man who was trying to help the woman, while the other snatcher ("Dodong" Bisaya) kicked the woman sending her to the ground. Soon after, the armed man returned and while the woman was still on the ground he shot her on the head. The bag taken by the man was brought to the tricycle of del Rosario where someone inside (Virgilio "Boy" Santos) received the bag. The armed man then sat behind the driver while his companion entered the sidecar. When the tricycle sped away Alonzo gave chase and was able to get the plate number of the tricycle. He also recognized the driver, after which he went to the nearest police headquarters and reported the incident. Upon finding the name of the owner of the tricycle, SP04 Geronimo de Leon and his team proceeded to Bakod Bayan in the house of the barangay captain where the owner of the tricycle was summoned and who in turn revealed the driver's name and was invited for interview. Del Rosario volunteered to name his passengers on 13 May 1996.
On the way to the police station, del Rosario informed them of the bag and lunch kit's location and the place where the hold-uppers may be found and they reported these findings to their officers, Capt. Biag and Capt. Cruz. After lunch, they proceeded to Brgy. Dicarma composed of 15 armed men where a shoot-out transpired that lasted from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. After a brief encounter, they went inside the house where they found Marquez dead holding a magazine and a gun. While all of these were happening, del Rosario was at the back of the school, handcuffed by the police because allegedly they had already gathered enough evidence against him and they were afraid that he might attempt to escape. After the encounter, they went back to the police station. The investigator took the statement of del Rosario on 14 May 1996, and was only subscribed on 22 May 1996. All the while, he was detained in the police station as ordered by the Fiscal. His statements were only signed on 16 May 1996. He also executed a waiver of his detention. His Sinumpaang Salaysay was done with the assistance of Ex-Judge Talavera. Del Rosario, on the other hand, claimed that he was hired for P120.00 by "Boy" Santos to drive him to a cockpit at the Blas Edward Coliseum but was directed him to proceed to the market place to fetch "Jun" Marquez and "Dodong" Bisaya; where the robbery homicide occurred. He claimed that the 3 men alighted and warned del Rosario not to inform the police authorities about the incident otherwise he and his family would be harmed. Del Rosario then went home. Because of the threat, however, he did not report the matter to the owner of the tricycle nor to the barangay captain and the police. Del Rosario, Marquez, Santos, and John Doe alias "Dodong" were charged with the special complex crime of Robbery with Homicide for having robbed Virginia Bernas, a 66-year old businesswoman, of P200,000.00 in cash and jewelry and on the occasion thereof shot and killed her. While del Rosario pleaded not guilty, Santos and alias "Dodong" remained at large. Thus, only del Rosario was tried. The trial court found del Rosario guilty as co-principal in the crime of Robbery with Homicide and sentencing him to death, and to pay the heirs of victim Virginia Bernas P550,000.00 as actual damages and P100,000.00 as moral and exemplary damages. Hence, the automatic review.
Whether del Rosario was deprived of his rights during custodial investigation at the time he was
“invited” for questioning at the house of the barangay captain.
Del Rosario was deprived of his rights during custodial investigation. From the time he was invited"
for questioning at the house of the barangay captain, he was already under effective custodial investigation, but he was not apprised nor made aware thereof by the investigating officers. The police already knew the name of the tricycle driver and the latter was already a suspect in the robbing and senseless slaying of Virginia Bernas. Since the prosecution failed to establish that del Rosario had waived his right to remain silent, his verbal admissions on his participation in the crime even before his actual arrest were inadmissible against
him, as the same transgressed the safeguards provided by law and the Bill of Rights. Herein, like victim
Virginia Bernas, del Rosario too was a hapless victim who was forcibly used by other persons with nefarious designs to perpetrate a dastardly act. Del Rosario's defense of "irresistible force" has been substantiated by clear and convincing evidence. Del Rosario was threatened with a gun. He could not therefore be expected to flee nor risk his life to help a stranger. A person under the same circumstances would be more concerned with his personal welfare and security rather than the safety of a person whom he only saw for the first time that day. On the other hand, conspiracy between him and his co-accused was not proved beyond a whimper of a doubt by the prosecution, thus clearing del Rosario of any complicity in the crime charged.