People vs. Bandula, 232 SCRA 566 (1994)
Six (6) armed men barged into the compound of a Polo Coconut Plantation who were identified as Bandula, Dionanao, Ejan and Sedigo while the two others who wore masks were simply referred to as "Boy Tall" and "Boy Short." At gunpoint, the two (2) masked men held the security guard of the plantation, Antonio Salva, who was manning his post, disarmed him of his shotgun and tied his hands behind his back. They then went up to the house of Leoncio Pastrano, Chief of Security and General Foreman of the plantation, hog-tied him, and divested him of his driver's license, goggles, wristwatch and .38 caliber snubnose revolver. From there, the 6 armed men with Salva and Pastrano in tow proceeded to the house of Atty. Juanito Garay, Manager of the Polo Coconut Plantation. Dionanao, Ejan and Sedigo stayed downstairs while Bandula and the two masked men with Salva and Pastrano went up to the house of Atty. Garay. After forcing their way into the house, the masked men and Bandula ransacked the place and took with them money and other valuables. Thereafter, the hooded men who were bringing with them Atty. Garay locked Pastrano inside his house together with Salva. A few minutes later, Pastrano and Salva heard gunshots coming from the direction of the gate of the compound. After succeeding in untying themselves, Pastrano and Salva went to report the matter to the police. On their way, they found outside the gate the lifeless body of Atty. Garay, dead with 3 gunshot wounds.
Dionanao was "picked-up for investigation" and interrogated by Cpl. Ephraim Valles inside the Police Station in Tanjay where he implicated accused Sedigo. The following day, he was brought to the Office of the Municipal Attorney of Tanjay, Atty. Ruben Zerna, where he supposedly executed his extrajudicial confession in the presence of the latter. Upon the suggestion of another investigator, Cpl. Valles took the Supplementary Sworn Statement of Dionanao, again in the presence of Atty. Zerna. In his Sworn Statement, Dionanao supposedly admitted that he was with Bandula when the latter, together with "Boy Short'' and "Boy Tall," shot Atty. Garay. He added that he was going to be killed if he did not join the group. He also said that Sedigo and Ejan were with them that evening. Then, in his Supplementary Sworn Statement, he implicated 3 more persons but they were not thereafter included in the Information. On the other hand, Bandula was arrested and brought to the Tanjay Police Station and interrogated there. He was investigated by Cpl. Borromeo, Cpl. Esparicia, Cpl. Ebarso, Pat. Moso and Pat. Baldejera. In that investigation, Bandula allegedly admitted that he together with 2 others shot Atty. Garay with a .38 cal. revolver. At that time, there was no counsel present "because that (investigation) was not yet in writing." Two weeks after his arrest, Bandula allegedly gave a sworn statement in the presence of Atty. Zerna admitting his participation in the killing of Atty. Garay. In that statement, Bandula narrated that after "Boy Short'' and "Boy Tall" shot Atty. Garay, he (Bandula) was ordered likewise to shoot the latter which he did. Bandula, Sedigo, Dionanao and Ejan were charged for robbery with homicide. After hearing 12 prosecution and 9 defense witnesses, the trial court rendered judgment finding Bandula guilty of the crime charged. However, his 3 co-accused were acquitted "for insufficiency of evidence."
Whether or not the admissions obtained during custodial interrogations requires independent counsel present.
Bandula and Dionanao were investigated immediately after their arrest, they had no counsel present. If at all, counsel came in only a day after the custodial investigation with respect to Dionanao, and two weeks later with respect to Bandula. And, the counsel who supposedly assisted both accused was Atty. Zerna, the Municipal Attorney of Tanjay.
The Constitution mandates in Section 12, Art. III, that (1) Any person under investigation for the commission of an offense shall have the right to be informed of his right to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel preferably of his own choice. If the person cannot afford the services of counsel, he must be provided with one. These rights cannot be waived except in writing and in the presence of counsel.
The Constitution also requires that counsel be independent. Obviously, he cannot be a special counsel, public or private prosecutor, counsel of the police, or a municipal attorney whose interest is admittedly adverse to the accused. Granting that Atty. Zerna assisted Dionanao and Bandula when they executed their respective extrajudicial confessions, still their confessions are inadmissible in evidence considering that Atty. Zerna does not qualify as an independent counsel. As a legal officer of the municipality, he provides legal assistance and support to the mayor and the municipality in carrying out the delivery of basic services to the people, including the maintenance of peace and order. It is thus seriously doubted whether he can effectively undertake the defense of the accused without running into conflict of interests. He is no better than a fiscal or prosecutor who cannot represent the accused during custodial investigations.
People vs. Sayaboc, GR 147201, 15 January 2004
· On 2 December 1994, Galam was shot to death at the Rooftop Disco and Lodging House owned by him, which was located at Barangay Quezon, Solano, Nueva Vizcaya.
· A waitress of the rooftop Diana Grace Sanchez Jaramillo and Tessie Pilar, the caretaker of the lodging house heard four gun bursts emanating from the ground floor of the building. When Jaramillo looked down, she saw Sayaboc shooting Galam, causing the latter to fall to the ground face up, with blood spurting out of his chest. Sayaboc forthwith ran out and disappeared into the darkness.
· SPO4 Cagungao was called to the Provincial Command Headquarters in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, to take the statement of Sayaboc.
· When he arrived at the headquarters he saw Sayaboc being interviewed by reporters inside the investigation room. He then brought Sayaboc to the inner part of the room.
· Before taking the statement of Sayaboc, he advised the latter of his constitutional rights. Then Sayaboc told him that he wanted to have counsel of his own choice. But since Sayaboc could not name one, Cagungao asked the police officers to get a lawyer.
· Half an hour later, the police officers brought Atty. Rodolfo Cornejo of the PAO, who then conferred with Sayaboc for a while. After Cagungao heard Sayaboc say, “okay,” he continued the investigation, during which Atty. Cornejo remained silent the entire time.
· However, Cagungao would stop questioning Sayaboc whenever Atty. Cornejo would leave to go to the comfort room. That night Sayaboc executed an extrajudicial confession in Ilocano dialect. He therein confessed to killing Joseph Galam at the behest of Marlon Buenviaje for the sum of P100,000.
· He likewise implicated Miguel Buenviaje and Patricio Escorpiso. The confession was also signed by Atty. Cornejo and attested to by one Fiscal Melvin Tiongson.
· The accused filed for demurrer of evidence which was denied by the trial court.
· Sayaboc denied having committed the crime and proffered the defense of alibi. He also flatly denied having met Atty. Cornejo or having been informed of his rights.
· He testified to having been beaten by six or seven police officers in the investigating room, who then coerced him to confess to having killed Galam.
· Apart from his testimony, he submitted a handwritten statement dated 20 March 1995 and an affidavit dated 10 April 1995 to support his claim of police brutality and retraction of his confession.
· Trial court convicted Benjamin Sayaboc guilty of murder, with treachery as the qualifying circumstance and craft and price or reward as aggravating circumstances.
Whether or not the extrajudicial confession of Sayaboc may be admitted in evidence against him.
The Court held that the extrajudicial confession of Sayaboc cannot be used in evidence in this case. Jurisprudence provides that extrajudicial confessions are presumed to be voluntary. The condition for this presumption, however, is that the prosecution is able to show that the constitutional requirements safeguarding an accused's rights during... custodial investigation have been strictly complied with, especially when the extrajudicial confession has been denounced. The rationale for this requirement is to allay any fear that the person being investigated would succumb to coercion while in the unfamiliar or... intimidating environment that is inherent in custodial investigations. Therefore, even if the confession may appear to have been given voluntarily since the confessant did not file charges against his alleged intimidators for maltreatment. The failure to properly inform a suspect of his rights during a custodial investigation renders the confession valueless and inadmissible.
Apart from the absence of an express waiver of his rights, the confession contains the passing of information of the kind held to be in violation of the right to be informed under Section 12, Article III of the Constitution. In People vs. Jara, the Court explained:
The stereotyped "advice" appearing in practically all extrajudicial confessions which are later repudiated has assumed the nature of a "legal form" or model. Police investigators either automatically type it together with the curt "Opo" as the answer or ask the... accused to sign it or even copy it in their handwriting. Its tired, punctilious, fixed, and artificially stately style does not create an impression of voluntariness or even understanding on the part of the accused. The showing of a spontaneous, free, and... unconstrained giving up of a right is missing.
The right to be informed requires "the transmission of meaningful information rather than just the ceremonial and perfunctory recitation of an abstract constitutional principle". It should allow the suspect to consider the effects and consequences of... any waiver he might make of these rights.
The Court likewise ruled that Sayaboc was not afforded his constitutional right to a competent counsel. The right to a competent and independent counsel means that the counsel should satisfy himself, during the conduct of the investigation, that the suspect understands the import and consequences of answering the questions propounded. The desired role of counsel in the process of custodial investigation is rendered meaningless if the lawyer merely gives perfunctory advice as opposed to a meaningful advocacy of the rights of the person undergoing questioning. If the advice given is so cursory... as to be useless, voluntariness is impaired. This is not to say that a counsel should try to prevent an accused from making a confession. Indeed, as an officer of the court, it is an attorney's duty to, first and foremost, seek the truth. However, counsel should be able, throughout the investigation, to explain... the nature of the questions by conferring with his client and halting the investigation should the need arise. The duty of a lawyer includes ensuring that the suspect under custodial investigation is aware that the right of an accused to remain silent may be invoked at any time.
For these reasons, the extrajudicial confession of Sayaboc cannot be used in evidence against him. The Court held, however, that the prosecution has discharged its burden of proving his guilt for the crime of homicide.
People vs. Piedad, GR 131923, 5 December 2002
On 10 April 1996, Lactawan left her house at No. 2 Scout Bayoran, Barangay South Triangle, Quezon City, to follow Mateo, her husband, who had earlier gone. As she was walking by the gate of the company compound where they reside, she heard Piquero shouting for help because Mateo was being mauled by a group of men. She rushed out of the compound and saw her husband being beaten up by Niel Piedad, Richard Palma, Lito Garcia and five others. She tried to pacify the aggressors, but was beaten herself. Luz embraced Mateo in an effort to protect him. It was then that Niel picked up a large stone, measuring about a foot and a half, and struck Mateo’s head with it. Then, Lito approached Mateo’s side and stabbed him at the back, while Richard hit Mateo in the face. Mateo was rushed to the East Avenue Medical Center where he later died because of the injuries he sustained. Piedad , Garcia and Palma were charged with Murder. Upon arraignment, all the accused pleaded not guilty to the charge. Trial ensued thereafter. The trial court rendered a decision, finding Piedad and Garcia guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder with no modifying circumstances present, and sentenced each of them to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua pursuant to Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code. Piedad and Garcia were likewise held solidarily liable to indemnify the heirs of the victim Lactawan in the sum of P50,000.00. Richard Palma was acquitted on the ground of reasonable doubt. Piedad and Garcia appealed.
Whether or not the way that Piedad was identified by prosecution witnesses was suggestive and fatally flawed.
The claim by the defense that Piedad’s pre-trial identification was suggestive due to the absence of a police lineup is more theoretical than real. It must be pointed out that even before the incident, Luz Lactawan knew the accused. Fidel, on the other hand, knew Piedad because they played basketball together. Hence, the witnesses were not identifying persons whom they were unfamiliar with, where arguably, improper suggestion may set in. On the contrary, when the accused were presented before the witnesses, they were simply asked to confirm whether they were the ones responsible for the crime perpetrated. The witnesses did not incriminate the accused simply because they were the only ones presented by the police, rather, the witnesses were certain they recognized the perpetrators of the crime. Besides, there is no law which requires a police lineup before a suspect can be identified as the culprit of a crime. What is important is that the prosecution witnesses positively identify the persons charged as the malefactors. In this regard, the Court finds no reason to doubt the veracity of Luz’s and Fidel’s testimony. The records show that Luz and Fidel positively, categorically and unhesitatingly identified Piedad as the one who struck Mateo on the head with a stone, and Garcia as the one who stabbed Mateo on the back, thereby inflicting traumatic head injuries and a stab wound which eventually led to Mateo’s death. Indeed, if family members who have witnessed the killing of a loved one usually strive to remember the faces of the assailants, the Court sees no reason how a wife, who witnessed the violence inflicted upon her husband and who eventually died by reason thereof, could have done any less. It must be stressed that Luz was right beside her husband when the concrete stone was struck on his head, hence, Luz could not have mistaken the identity of the person responsible for the attack. She was only a foot away from Piedad before the latter hit Mateo on the head. Garcia on the other hand was identified by both Luz and Fidel as the one who was shirtless at the time of the incident. There was light from a bulb 5 meters away from the scene of the crime. Experience dictates that precisely because of the unusual acts of violence committed right before their eyes, eyewitnesses can remember with a high degree of reliability the identity of the criminals at any given time. Hence, the proximity and attention afforded the witnesses, coupled with the relative illumination of the surrounding area, bolsters the credibility of identification of Piedad, et. al. While Piedad and Garcia may have been suspects, they were certainly not interrogated by the police authorities, much less forced to confess to the crime imputed against them. Piedad and Garcia were not under custodial investigation. In fact, Piedad averred during cross-examination that the police never allowed them to say anything at the police station on the day they voluntarily presented themselves to the authorities.
- Accused Anthony Escordial, the herein accused appellant, was charged guilty of robbery with rape and sentencing him to death and to pay private complainant Michelle Darunday the amounts of Php 3,650 representing the amount taken by him Php50k as moral damages, Php30k as exemplary damages, and the costs.
- It was testified by eight witnesses namely Jason Joniega, Mark Esmeralda, Erma Blanca,4 Dr. Joy Ann Jocson, PO3 Nicolas Tancinco, Leo Asan, Ma. Teresa Gellaver, and Michelle Darunday that:
- Petitioners (Michelle Darunday, Erma Blanca and Ma. Teresa Gallaver) were all living on the ground floor of a boarding house. On the night of the crime, Jason Joniega, Mark Esmeralda and Mark Lucena were playing inside a jeepney parked in front of the boarding house. While playing, a man sitting inside the jeepney told the boys to go home and that man was later identified as the accused.
- While the petitioners were sleeping, Erma was awakened by the presence of a man who had his head covered with a t-shirt to prevent identification and carried a knife about four inches long; warned her not to shout; asked her money and was able to get P500 from her. Then the accused turned to Michelle and Teresa which he got P3,100 from Michelle only.
- Thereafter, the accused told them to blindfold one another and then proceed to have carnal knowledge with Michelle. On the other hand, Erma claimed that she was able to see the man’s face. After he had finished raping Michelle, the man sat on the bed and talked to the three women. He then raped Michelle again and threatened her that it would be much worse if he’d call his companions to rape her. Later, he left but warned them not to report the matter to anyone or he would kill them.
- Mark Esmeralda saw from his bedroom window a man wearing denim shorts coming out of the boarding house and saw that man jumped over the fence and later told his parents about what he had seen and told them to check what happened.
- After Michelle Erma and Teresa were able to find help, Michelle was taken to the police headquarters and referred to the Women’s Desk to report the rape.
- PO3 Tancinco was one of those who responded to the crime. A report was made in the police station. Subsequent searches, through the descriptions of the petitioners, the children playing in the jeep in front of the boarding house, and others led to the pinpointing of accused-appellant .Accused was playing in basketball when the police “invited” him to the Pontevedra police station for questioning. At the station Michelle saw him and she identified him as his alleged robber and rapist. He was also brought to the Bacolod police station so that the other witnesses could identify him. They picked him out of four in the line-up.
- In defense, the accused-appellant claimed that he went home to Pontevedra, wherein he was able to see and communicate with the witnesses for the defense namely Aaron Lavilla, Elias Sombito. While the accused-appellant was in that place, PO2 Rodolfo Gemarino and Ricardo Villaspen led by PO3 Tancinco, witnesses, went to Ponteverde Police asking for help to locate him, however, they were not able to show a warrant for accused-appellant’s arrest. Then, they found the accused-appellant at the basketball court watching a game. After informing him that he was a suspect in a robbery case, the group invited the accused-appellant to go with them to the police headquarters. The accused-appellant however testified that the PO3 Tancinco and his companions beat and hit him with the butt of a shotgun to admit liability for the crime and even subjected to torture.
- With the testimonies of the witnesses and evidence, the trial court rendered a decision finding the accused-appellant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crime of Robbery with Rape under Art 294 of the RPC.
Whether or not the accused-appellant can invoke Art III, Sec 12 of the Constitution
No. Accused-appellant invokes Art. III, §12(1) of the Constitution which provides that "any person under investigation for the commission of an offense shall have the right to be informed of his right to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel preferably of his own choice. If the person cannot afford the services of counsel, he must be provided with one. These rights cannot be waived except in writing and in the presence of counsel." He contends that he was subjected to custodial interrogation without being informed of his right to remain silent and to have independent counsel preferably of his choice. Hence, he contends, the trial court erred in not excluding evidence obtained from him during such interrogation for violation of accused-appellant's rights under this provision.
While it cannot be denied that accused-appellant was deprived of his right to be informed of his rights to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel, he has not shown that, as a result of his custodial interrogation, the police obtained any statement from him – whether inculpatory or exculpatory - which was used in evidence against him. The records do not show that he had given one or that, in finding him guilty, the trial court relied on such statement. In fact, accused-appellant testified that at no point, even when subjected to physical torture, did he ever admit committing the crime with which he was charged. In other words, no uncounseled statement was obtained from the accused-appellant which should have been excluded as evidence against him.
Gamboa vs. Cruz, 162 SCRA 642
Petitioner was arrested for vagrancy without a warrant. During a line-up of 5 detainees including petitioner, he was identified by a complainant to be a companion in a robbery, thereafter he was charged. Petitioner filed a Motion to Acquit on the ground that the conduct of the line-up, without notice and in the absence of his counsel violated his constitutional rights to counsel and to due process. The court denied said motion. Hearing was set, hence the petition.
Whether or Not petitioner’s right to counsel and due process violated.
Held: No. The police line-up was not part of the custodial inquest, hence, petitioner was not yet entitled, at such stage, to counsel. He had not been held yet to answer for a criminal offense. The moment there is a move or even an urge of said investigators to elicit admissions or confessions or even plain information which may appear innocent or innocuous at the time, from said suspect, he should then and there be assisted by counsel, unless he waives the right, but the waiver shall be made in writing and in the presence of counsel.
On the right to due process, petitioner was not, in any way, deprived of this substantive and constitutional right, as he was duly represented by a counsel. He was accorded all the opportunities to be heard and to present evidence to substantiate his defense; only that he chose not to, and instead opted to file a Motion to Acquit after the prosecution had rested its case. What due process abhors is the absolute lack of opportunity to be heard.
Office of the Court Administrator vs. Sumiling, 271 SCRA 361 (1997)
On September 1, 1993, Rebecca Avanzado assumed the position of officer in charge. It was during her tenure on August 8, 1994, that an on-the-spot audit examination was conducted by the Fiscal Audit Division of the Office of Court Administrator. In the course of the examination, several anomalous transactions were discovered. One involved a managers check deposited in the name of Teodorico Dizon in connection with Civil Case No. 858, wherein Entero Villarica, on August 7, 1992 during the tenure of Malla entrusted the amount of P240,000.00 to said respondent instead of handling it over to the Clerk of Court pursuant to Supreme Court Circular No. 13-92.
When asked to explain where the P240,000.00 was, Malla, explained that she deposited it at the Sta Cruz, Laguna branch of the Philippine National Bank but she and Judge Sumilang later withdrew it allegedly under the belief that the defendant, Dizon, would demand the delivery of the money upon the termination of the case. Upon further questioning by the examining team, however, Malla admitted that she lent the amount of P87,000.00 to steno-reporter Lagmay, P40,000.00 to steno-reporter Mercado, and P81,000.00 to Mrs. Sumilang, wife of Judge Sumilang. She spent P32,000.00 for the hospitalization of her husband and the remaining balance for personal purposes.
Later on, she executed an affidavit stating that only Lagmay and Mercado borrowed P55,000.00 and P40,000.00, respectively. On the other hand, she used P100,000.00 for her personal needs.7chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Upon learning that they were being implicated in the anomalous transaction, Lagmay executed an affidavit stating that the amount of P55,000.00 was from the personal account of Malla and not from the P240,000.00 amount deposited before the court and such loan has already been paid.8 Mercado, on the other hand, claims that the amount of P40,000.00 was borrowed only two weeks before the audit took place, when Malla was no longer employed with the court. Mrs. Sumilang, for her part, denied any involvement in any of the transactions.
Respondents Judge Augusto Sumilang, Felicidad Malla, Edelita Lagmay and Nieva Mercado, court employees of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Pila, Laguna (hereinafter referred to as the lower court), were charged in a memorandum report by the Office of Court Administrator dated August 16, 1994, for misappropriating funds deposited by the plaintiff in Civil Case No. 858, entitled Spouses Entero Villarica and Felicidad Domingo v. Teodorico Dizon. On October 5, 1994, this Court issued a resolution treating the aforesaid memorandum report as an administrative complaint which was docketed as Administrative Matter No. MTJ-94-989.
In addition, a second complaint was lodged against Malla for removing judicial records outside the court premises. This Court decided to include this matter in the original complaint earlier docketed as A.M. No. MTJ-94-989 in a resolution dated March 6, 1995.
Whether or not the constitutional rights of Felicidad Malla were violated when she signed the affidavit dated September 14, 1994 before the Office of the Court Administrator, where she admitted her misdeed.
The Court ruled that the constitutional provision (Section 12, Article III of the Constitution) may be invoked only during custodial investigation or as in custody investigation which has been defined as questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way. The investigation is defined as an investigation conducted by police authorities which will include investigation conducted by the Municipal Police, P.C. (now PNP) and the NBI and such other police agencies in our government.24 Thus, the Office of the Court Administrator can hardly be deemed to be the law enforcement authority contemplated in the constitutional provision. At any rate, Malla admitted during her testimony that she received the said check from Villarica covering the amount of P240,000.00 payable to Dizon. However, when she tried to deposit it with the Municipal Treasurer, the latter refused because there was no order from Judge Sumilang. Consequently, Villarica entrusted said check to her. It was at this juncture that she used the money for personal purposes. During the investigation, Malla repeated what she basically stated in her affidavit i.e., that she used a substantial amount of the P240,00.00 for her personal needs. This effectively refutes whatever pressure and coercion she claims was employed against her. By repeating her confession in open court, Malla thereby converted it into a judicial confession.
Evangelista vs. People, GR 163267
Evangelista was charged with violation of Section 1 of PD 1866 allegedly committed as follows:
That on or about the 30th day of January 1996, at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Pasay City, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did, then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in his possession, custody and control the following items:
1. One (1) Unit 9mm Jericho Pistol, Israel with SN F-36283 with one (1) magazine;
2. One (1) Unit Mini-Uzi 9mm Israel Submachine gun with SN 931864 with two (2) magazines;
3. Nineteen (19) 9mm bullets.
without the corresponding permit or license from competent authority.
RTC ruled that Evangelista is guilty beyond reasonable doubt for violation of the illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions.
The CA ruled that Capt. Naduratas custody during the flight from Dubai to Manila was for and on behalf of petitioner. Thus, there was constructive possession.
Petitioner argues that he could not have committed the crime imputed against him for he was never in custody and possession of any firearm or ammunition when he arrived in the Philippines. Thus, the conclusion of the appellate court that he was in constructive possession of the subject firearms and ammunitions is erroneous.
Whether or not Evangelista was never in possession of any firearm or ammunition within Philippine jurisdiction and he therefore could not have committed the crime charged against him.
Evangelista was in constructive possession of the subject firearms. As held in People v. Dela Rosa, the kind of possession punishable under PD 1866 is one where the accused possessed a firearm either physically or constructively with animus possidendi or intention to possess the same. Animus possidendi is a state of mind. As such, what goes on into the mind of the accused, as his real intent, could be determined solely based on his prior and coetaneous acts and the surrounding circumstances explaining how the subject firearm came to his possession.
The accomplishment by petitioner of the Customs Declaration Form upon his arrival at the NAIA is very clear evidence that he was already in possession of the subject firearms in the Philippines.
In the prosecution for the crime of illegal possession of firearm and ammunition, the Court has reiterated the essential elements in People v. Eling to wit: (1) the existence of subject firearm; and, (2) the fact that the accused who possessed or owned the same does not have the corresponding license for it.
The prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt the elements of the crime. The existence of the subject firearms and the ammunition were established through the testimony of Acierto. Their existence was likewise admitted by petitioner when he entered into stipulation and through his subsequent judicial admission. Concerning petitioners lack of authority to possess the firearms, SPO4 Bondoc, Jr. testified that upon verification, it was ascertained that the name of petitioner does not appear in the list of registered firearm holders or a registered owner thereof. As proof, he submitted a certification to that effect and identified the same in court. The testimony of SPO4 Bondoc, Jr. or the certification from the FEO would suffice to prove beyond reasonable doubt the second element
People v. Mahinay, 302 SCRA 455 (1999)
Whether or not the appellant’s extra-judicial confession was validly taken and in accordance with his rights under Section 12 of the Bill of Rights.
Yes. The conviction of the appellant is affirmed. Larry Mahinay during the custodial investigation and after having been informed of his constitutional rights with the assistance of Atty. Restituto Viernes of the Public Attorney's Office voluntarily gave his statement admitting the commission of the crime. Said confession of Mahinay given with the assistance of Atty. Restituto Viernes is believed to have been freely and voluntarily given. That accused did not complain to the proper authorities of any maltreatment on his person. He did not even inform the Inquest Prosecutor when he was sworn to the truth of his statement on 8 July 1995 that he was forced, coerced or was promised of reward or leniency. That his confession abound with details known only to him. The Court noted that a lawyer from the Public Attorneys Office Atty. Restituto Viernes and as testified by said Atty. Viernes informed and explained to Mahinay his constitutional rights and was present all throughout the giving of the testimony. That he signed the statement given by Mahinay.
A lawyer from the Public Attorneys Office is expected to be watchful and vigilant to notice any irregularity in the manner of the investigation and the physical conditions of the accused. The post mortem findings show that the cause of death Asphyxia by manual strangulation; Traumatic Head injury Contributory substantiate. Consistent with the testimony of Mahinay that he pushed the victim and the latter's head hit the table and the victim lost consciousness. There being no evidence presented to show that said confession were obtained as a result of violence, torture, maltreatment, intimidation, threat or promise of reward or leniency nor that the investigating officer could have been motivated to concoct the facts narrated in said affidavit; the confession of the accused is held to be true, correct and freely or voluntarily given. In his extrajudicial confession, Mahinay himself admitted that he had sexual congress with the unconscious child. Such circumstantial evidence, besides 8 others, established the felony of rape with homicide defined and penalized under Section 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 11, RA 7659.
Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 US 291 (1980)
Shortly after a taxicab driver, who had been robbed by a man wielding a sawed-off shotgun, identified a picture of respondent as that of his assailant, a Providence, R.I., patrolman spotted respondent, who was unarmed, on the street, arrested him, and advised him of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U. S. 436. When other police officers arrived at the arrest scene, respondent was twice again advised of his Miranda rights, and he stated that he understood his rights and wanted to speak with a lawyer. Respondent was then placed in a police car to be driven to the central station in the company of three officers, who were instructed not to question respondent or intimidate him in any way. While en route to the station, two of the officers engaged in a conversation between themselves concerning the missing shotgun. One of the officers stated that there were "a lot of handicapped children running around in this area" because a school for such children was located nearby, and "God forbid one of them might find a weapon with shells and they might hurt themselves." Respondent interrupted the conversation, stating that the officers should turn the car around so he could show them where the gun was located. Upon returning to the scene of the arrest where a search for the shotgun was in progress, respondent was again advised of his Miranda rights, replied that he understood those rights, but that he "wanted to get the gun out of the way because of the kids in the area in the school," and then led the police to the shotgun. Before trial on charges of kidnaping, robbery, and murder of another taxicab driver, the trial court denied respondent's motion to suppress the shotgun and the statement he had made to the police regarding its discovery, ruling that respondent had waived his Miranda rights, and respondent was subsequently convicted. The Rhode Island Supreme Court set aside the conviction and held that respondent was entitled to a new trial, concluding that respondent had invoked his Miranda right to counsel and that, contrary to Miranda's mandate that, in the absence of counsel, all custodial interrogation then cease, the police officers in the vehicle had "interrogated" respondent without a valid waiver of his right to counsel.
Whether or not Innis’ Miranda rights violated.
No. Respondent was not "interrogated" in violation of his right under Miranda to remain silent until he had consulted with a lawyer.
(a) The Miranda safeguards come into play whenever a person in custody is subjected to either express questioning or its functional equivalent. That is to say, the term "interrogation" under Miranda refers not only to express questioning, but also to any words or actions on the part of the police (other than those normally attendant to arrest and custody) that the police should know are reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response from the suspect. The latter portion of this definition focuses primarily upon the perceptions of the suspect, rather than the intent of the police.
(b) Here, there was no express questioning of respondent; the conversation between the two officers was, at least in form, nothing more than a dialogue between them to which no response from respondent was invited. Moreover, respondent was not subjected to the "functional equivalent" of questioning, since it cannot be said that the officers should have known that their conversation was reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response from respondent. There is nothing in the record to suggest that the officers were aware that respondent was peculiarly susceptible to an appeal to his conscience concerning the safety of handicapped children, or that the police knew that respondent was unusually disoriented or upset at the time of his arrest. Nor does the record indicate that, in the context of a brief conversation, the officers should have known that respondent would suddenly be moved to make a self-incriminating response. While it may be said that respondent was subjected to "subtle compulsion," it must also be established that a suspect's incriminating response was the product of words or actions on the part of the police that they should have known were reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response, which was not established here.
People v. Bolanos, 211 SCRA 262 (1992)
On June 23, 1993, the deceased Oscar Pagdalian was found dead after a drinking spree with two others, one of which being the accused, Ramon Bolanos. When the accused was nabbed by the police upon corroborated testimonies, the gun of the deceased was found with him, thus strengthening the case against him.
They boarded Ramon Bolanos and along with the other companion on the drinking spree on the police vehicle and brought them to the police station. In the vehicle where the suspect was riding, Ramon Bolanos accordingly admitted that he killed the deceased Oscar Pagdalian because he was abusive.
The admission was used by RTC of Malolos, Bulacan in holding the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt, arguing that the same was given freely and before the investigation, hence, admissible as evidence.
Whether or not the accused-appellant was deprived of his constitutional right to counsel.
Being already under custodial investigation while on board the police patrol jeep on the way to the Police Station where formal investigation may have been conducted, appellant should have already been informed of his Constitutional rights under Article III, Section 12 of the 1987 Constitution, more particularly par. 1 and par. 3.
Article III, Section 12 of the 1987 Constitution which explicitly provides:
(1) Any person under investigation for the commission of an offense shall have the right to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel preferably of his own choice. If the person cannot afford the service of counsel, he must be provided with one. These rights cannot be waived except in writing and in the presence of counsel.
(2) No torture, force, violence, threat, intimidation, or any other means which vitiate the free will shall be used against him. Secret detention places, solitary, incommunicado, or other similar forms of detention are prohibited.
(3) Any confession or admission obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible in evidence against him.
(4) The law shall provide for penal and civil sanctions for violation of this section as well as compensation and rehabilitation of victims of torture or similar practices and their families.
Failing to have the accused informed of this right and being unassisted by a counsel during the alleged confession, the same cannot hold admissible in evidence against the accused.
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.
People v. Lugod, GR 136253, 21 February 2001
Whether or not Lugod’s confession and subsequent act of pointing the location of the Nairube’s body may be used against him as evidence.
No. The records reveal that Lugod was not informed of his right to remain silent and to counsel, and that if he cannot afford to have counsel of his choice, he would be provided with one. Moreover, there is no evidence to indicate that he intended to waive these rights. Consequently, Lugod's act of confessing to SPO2 Gallardo that he raped and killed Nairube without the assistance of counsel cannot be used against him for having transgressed Lugod's rights under the Bill of Rights. In the same vein, Lugod's act in pointing out the location of the body of Nairube was also elicited in violation of the Lugod's right to remain silent. The same was an integral part of the- uncounselled confession and is considered a fruit of the poisonous tree. Even if we were to assume that Lugod was not yet under interrogation and thus not entitled to his constitutional rights at the time he was brought to the police station, Lugod's acts subsequent to his apprehension cannot be characterized as having been voluntarily made considering the peculiar circumstances surrounding his detention. His confession was elicited by SPO2 Gallardo who promised him that he would help him if he told the truth. Furthermore, when ugod allegedly pointed out the body of the victim, SPO2 Gallardo, the whole police force as well as nearly 100 of the townspeople of Cavinti escorted him there. Ricardo Vida stated that the townspeople were antagonistic towards Lugod and wanted to hurt him. The atmosphere from the time Lugod was apprehended and taken to the police station up until the time he was alleged to have pointed out the location of the body of the victim was highly intimidating and was not conducive to a spontaneous response. Amidst such a highly coercive atmosphere, Lugod's claim that he was beaten up and maltreated by the police officers raises a very serious doubt as to the voluntariness of his alleged confession. The Vice-Mayor, who testified that when he visited Lugod in the jail cell, he noticed that Lugod had bruises on his face, corroborated Lugod's assertion that he was maltreated. Considering that the confession of Lugod cannot be used against him, the only remaining evidence which was established by the prosecution is the fact that several persons testified having seen Lugod the night before the murder of Nairube and on several other occasions wearing the rubber slippers and black T-shirt found at the house of the victim and Villa Anastacia respectively as well as the testimony of Romualdo Ramos, the tricycle driver who stated that he saw Lugod in the early morning of 16 September 1997 leaving Villa Anastacia without a T-shirt and without slippers. These pieces of evidence are circumstantial in nature. The combination of the above-mentioned circumstances does not lead to the irrefutably logical conclusion that Lugod raped and murdered Nairube. At most, these circumstances, taken with the testimonies of the other prosecution witnesses, merely establish Lugod's whereabouts on that fateful evening and places Lugod at the scene of the crime and nothing more. Lugod was acquitted.
In the cases before us today, given this background, we concern ourselves primarily with this interrogation atmosphere and the evils it can bring. In No. 759, Miranda v. Arizona, the police arrested the defendant and took him to a special interrogation room, where they secured a confession. In No. 760, Vignera v. New York, the defendant made oral admissions to the police after interrogation in the afternoon, and then signed an inculpatory statement upon being questioned by an assistant district attorney later the same evening. In No. 761, Westover v. United States, the defendant was handed over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation by local authorities after they had detained and interrogated him for a lengthy period, both at night and the following morning. After some two hours of questioning, the federal officers had obtained signed statements from the defendant. Lastly, in No. 584, California v. Stewart, the local police held the defendant five days in the station and interrogated him on nine separate occasions before they secured his inculpatory statement.
Is the privilege against self-incrimination fully applicable during a period of custodial interrogation.
Yes. The circumstances surrounding in-custody interrogation can operate very quickly to overbear the will of one merely made aware of his privilege by his interrogators. Therefore, the right to have counsel present at the interrogation is indispensable to the protection of the Fifth Amendment privilege under the system we delineate today. Our aim is to assure that the individual's right to choose between silence and speech remains unfettered throughout the interrogation process. A once-stated warning, delivered by those who will conduct the interrogation, cannot itself suffice to that end among those who most require knowledge of their rights. A mere warning given by the interrogators is not alone sufficient to accomplish that end.
1. The prosecution may not use statements, whether exculpatory or inculpatory, stemming from questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way, unless it demonstrates the use of procedural safeguards effective to secure the Fifth Amendment's privilege against self-incrimination.
(a) The atmosphere and environment of incommunicado interrogation as it exists today is inherently intimidating, and works to undermine the privilege against self-incrimination. Unless adequate preventive measures are taken to dispel the compulsion inherent in custodial surroundings, no statement obtained from the defendant can truly be the product of his free choice.
(b) The privilege against self-incrimination, which has had a long and expansive historical development, is the essential mainstay of our adversary system, and guarantees to the individual the "right to remain silent unless he chooses to speak in the unfettered exercise of his own will," during a period of custodial interrogation as well as in the courts or during the course of other official investigations.
(c) The decision in Escobedo v. Illinois, 378 U. S. 478, stressed the need for protective devices to make the process of police interrogation conform to the dictates of the privilege.
(d) In the absence of other effective measures, the following procedures to safeguard the Fifth Amendment privilege must be observed: the person in custody must, prior to interrogation, be clearly informed that he has the right to remain silent, and that anything he says will be used against him in court; he must be clearly informed that he has the right to consult with a lawyer and to have the lawyer with him during interrogation, and that, if he is indigent, a lawyer will be appointed to represent him.
(e) If the individual indicates, prior to or during questioning, that he wishes to remain silent, the interrogation must cease; if he states that he wants an attorney, the questioning must cease until an attorney is present.
(f) Where an interrogation is conducted without the presence of an attorney and a statement is taken, a heavy burden rests on the Government to demonstrate that the defendant knowingly and intelligently waived his right to counsel.
(g) Where the individual answers some questions during in-custody interrogation, he has not waived his privilege, and may invoke his right to remain silent thereafter.
(h) The warnings required and the waiver needed are, in the absence of a fully effective equivalent, prerequisites to the admissibility of any statement, inculpatory or exculpatory, made by a defendant.
2. The limitations on the interrogation process required for the protection of the individual's constitutional rights should not cause an undue interference with a proper system of law enforcement, as demonstrated by the procedures of the FBI and the safeguards afforded in other jurisdictions.
3. In each of these cases, the statements were obtained under circumstances that did not meet constitutional standards for protection of the privilege against self-incrimination.
People v. Sandiganbayan
On May 21, 2004, private respondent was charged with violation of Section 89 of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 14452 before the Sandiganbayan. On October 20, 2004, private respondent was arraigned for which he pleaded not guilty. The prosecution presented its lone witness, Manolo Tulibao Villad, Commission on Audit (COA) State Auditor. Thereafter, the prosecution filed its formal offer of evidence and rested its case. On April 20, 2006, private respondent filed a motion4 for leave to file demurrer to evidence. On June 16, 2006, the Sandiganbayan issued a Resolution5 granting the motion. On June 30, 2006, private respondent filed his demurrer6 to evidence. The Sandiganbayan granted the demurrer to evidence. The Petitioner filed a Petition for Ceritorari contending that the prosecution was able to establish all the elements of the offense. Private respondent counters that the grant of a demurrer to evidence is equivalent to an acquittal from which the prosecution cannot appeal as it would place the accused in double jeopardy. Further, assuming that the Sandiganbayan erroneously granted the demurrer, this would, at most, constitute an error of judgment and not an error of jurisdiction. Thus, certiorari does not lie to correct the grant of the demurrer to evidence by the Sandiganbayan.
Whether or not the grant of a demurrer to evidence in this case has the effect of an acquittal.
Yes. In criminal cases, the grant of a demurrer is tantamount to an acquittal and the dismissal order may not be appealed because this would place the accused in double jeopardy. Although the dismissal order is not subject to appeal, it is still reviewable but only through certiorari on the ground of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction such as where the prosecution was denied the opportunity to present its case or where the trial was a sham thus rendering the assailed judgment void. In the case at bar, the Sandiganbayan granted the demurrer to evidence on the ground that the prosecution failed to prove that the government suffered any damage from private respondent’s non-liquidation of the subject cash advance. Actual damage to the government arising from the non-liquidation of the cash advance is not an essential element of the offense. The Sandiganbayan proceeded from an erroneous interpretation of the law and its implementing rules, the error committed was an error of judgment and not of jurisdiction. Petitioner failed to establish that the dismissal order was tainted with grave abuse of discretion such as the denial of the prosecution’s right to due process or the conduct of a sham trial. In fine, the error committed by the Sandiganbayan is of such a nature that can no longer be rectified on appeal by the prosecution because it would place the accused in double jeopardy. It is clear that the dismissal of the criminal case against the private respondents was erroneous. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court ruled that the judgment dismissing the Information, although based upon an erroneous interpretation of the law, was in effect a judgment on the merits from which no appeal lay on the part of the prosecution as it would place the accused in double jeopardy. However erroneous the order of respondent Court is, and although a miscarriage of justice resulted from said order, such error cannot now be righted because of the timely plea of double jeopardy.
Imperial vs. Joson
A vehicular accident in Sariaya, Quezon involving an Isuzu ten-wheeler truck driven by petitioner Santos Francisco and Fuso six-wheeler truck was driven by respondent Santiago Giganto, Jr. gave rise to a criminal complaint for Reckless Imprudence in Saraiaya MTC. The case proceeded to mandatory pre-trial conference. Assistant Public Prosecutor Zabello had interviewed one of the witnesses, however, did not believe the version of the events and refused to stipulate the matters. In view of Prosecutor Zabella’s refusal, the Sariaya MTC went on to issue a pre-trial order dated 14 August 2001. As a consequence, petitioner filed on 30 August 2001 a motion "to compel and disqualify Prosecutor Zabella and to correct the pre-trial order”, which the MTC denied. Petitioner Francisco filed a motion for reconsideration and on 9 January 2002, the Sariaya MTC issued an order which directing that the pre-trial conference be set anew in view of the reassignment of the case to Prosecutor Francis Sia and the appearance of a new private prosecutor in the case. Dissatisfied, petitioner Francisco filed on 1 April 2002 the petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with Lucena City RTC. Likewise contending that the nine postponements of the pre-trial conference on 10 and 17 October 2001, 7 November 2001, 23 January 2002, 13 March 2002, 4 September 2002, 6 November 2002, 15 January 2003 and 5 March 2003 were capricious, vexatious and oppressive, petitioner Francisco further moved for the dismissal of the case on 14 March 2004, on the ground that his constitutional right to a speedy trial had been violated.
Whether or not the nine postponements of the pre-trial conference in the case attributable to the prosecution amounted to a violation of his constitutional right to a speedy trial.
No. Far from being vexatious, capricious and oppressive, however, the delays entailed by the postponements of the aforesaid hearings were, to a great extent, attributable to petitioner Francisco’s own pursuit of extraordinary remedies against the interlocutory orders issued by the Sariaya MTC and the assignment of at least three public prosecutors to the case. Petitioner Francisco’s harping on his right to a speedy trial before the Sariaya MTC is materially attenuated by his motion for the disqualification of Prosecutor Zabella from the case and, later, his repeated prayer for the stoppage of the proceedings a quo in his petition for certiorari and prohibition before the Lucena RTC. Although the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure mandates commencement of the trial within 30 days from receipt of the pre-trial order and the continuous conduct thereof for a period not exceeding 180 days, Section 3 a (1), Rule 119 provides that delays resulting from extraordinary remedies against interlocutory orders shall be excluded in computing the time within which trial must commence.
People v. Tan
Dante Tan was charged of two Informations for violation of Revised Securities Act. Respondent pleaded not guilty to both charges and the trial ensued. On November 24, 2003, petitioner made its formal offer of evidence. The RTC issued an Order admitting some exhibits. In the meantime, on December 18, 2003, respondent filed an Omnibus Motion for Leave to File Demurrer to Evidence and to admit the attached Demurrer to Evidence which was granted by the Court. The RTC also ordered petitioner to file an opposition. Petitioner filed its Opposition to the Demurrer to Evidence. Respondent then filed a Reply. On March 16, 2004, the RTC issued an Order granting respondent’s Demurrer to Evidence. Petitioner filed a Petition for Certiorari before the CA; however, denied on the ground that the grant of a Demurrer to Evidence is one on the merits and operates as an acquittal, for which reason, the prosecution cannot appeal therefrom as it would place the accused in double jeopardy.
Whether or not the dismissal of the RTC by the grant of a Demurrer to Evidence operates as an acquittal.
Yes. The demurrer to evidence is "filed after the prosecution had rested its case," and when the same is granted, it calls "for an appreciation of the evidence adduced by the prosecution and its sufficiency to warrant conviction beyond reasonable doubt, resulting in a dismissal of the case on the merits, tantamount to an acquittal of the accused." Such dismissal of a criminal case by the grant of demurrer to evidence may not be appealed, for to do so would be to place the accused in double jeopardy. The verdict being one of acquittal, the case ends there. In this case, it is clear that the RTC never prevented petitioner from presenting its case. Petitioner was given the opportunity to present its case, formally offer its evidence and oppose respondent’s demurrer. It even bears to point out that the RTC even allowed petitioner to withdraw its formal offer of evidence after having initially rested its case and then continue its presentation by introducing additional witnesses. The grant of a demurrer to evidence operates as an acquittal and is, thus, final and unappealable.
Cabador v. People
Accused petitioner Antonio Cabador was charged of murder. After presenting only five witnesses over five years of intermittent trial and failure of the prosecution to present witnesses, Petitioner Cabador filed a motion to dismiss the case invoking his right to a speedy trial. Unknown to petitioner, however, four days earlier, the prosecution asked the RTC for another extension of the period for its formal offer, which offer it eventually made on August 1, 2006, the day Cabador filed his motion to dismiss. The RTC issued an Order treating petitioner Cabador's motion to dismiss as a demurrer to evidence. And, since he filed his motion without leave of court, the RTC declared him to have waived his right to present evidence in his defense. Cabador filed a motion for reconsideration of this Order but the RTC denied it. Cabador questioned the RTC's actions before the CA, denied.
Whether or not petitioner Cabador's motion to dismiss before the trial court was in fact a demurrer to evidence filed without leave of court.
No. Cabador filed a motion to dismiss on the ground of violation of his right to speedy trial, not a demurrer to evidence. He cannot be declared to have waived his right to present evidence in his defense. The fact is that Cabador did not even bother to do what is so fundamental in any demurrer. He did not state what evidence the prosecution had presented against him to show in what respects such evidence failed to meet the elements of the crime charged. His so-called "demurrer" did not touch on any particular testimony of even one witness. He cited no documentary exhibit. A demurrer to evidence assumes that the prosecution has already rested its case pursuant to Section 23, Rule 119 of the which reads: ”After the prosecution rests its case, the court may dismiss the action on the ground of insufficiency of evidence.” Here, after the prosecution filed its formal offer of exhibits on August 1, 2006, the same day Cabador filed his motion to dismiss, the trial court still needed to give him an opportunity to object to the admission of those exhibits.
Asistio vs. People
Petitioner Jocelyn Asistio y Consino was charged with violation of Section 46 of the Cooperative Code. Upon her arraignment, petitioner entered a plea of "not guilty." Trial on the merits ensued. After the presentation and offer of evidence by the prosecution, petitioner moved to dismiss the case by way of Demurrer to Evidence with prior leave of court. She argued, among other matters, that the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila does not have jurisdiction over the case, as the crime charged does not carry with it a sanction for which she can be held criminally liable. The RTC dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction. Dissatisfied, the People of the Philippines, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), appealed the order of dismissal to the CA. The CA rendered a Decision reversing and setting aside the RTC Orders and remanded the case records to the RTC for further proceedings. Petitioner then argues that the order to remand the case back to the RTC constitutes double jeopardy.
Whether nor not dismissal in this case would result to double jeopardy if remanded.
No. The general rule is that the grant of a demurrer to evidence operates as an acquittal and is, thus, final and unappealable. In this case, however, the RTC granted the demurrer to evidence and dismissed the case not for insufficiency of evidence, but for lack of jurisdiction over the offense charged. Notably, the RTC did not decide the case on the merits, let alone resolve the issue of petitioner's guilt or innocence based on the evidence proffered by the prosecution. This being the case, the RTC Order of dismissal does not operate as an acquittal. Hence, the remand of the criminal case to the RTC, double jeopardy did not attach.
People v. De Grano
An Information for murder was filed against Joven de Grano (Joven), Armando de Grano (Armando), and Estanislao Lacaba (Estanislao), together with their co-accused Leonides Landicho (Leonides), Domingo Landicho (Domingo), and Leonardo Genil (Leonardo), who were at-large. The respondents filed a motion for bail which was granted by the trial court. The prosecution then filed a petition for certiorari on the order of bail which the Supreme Court granted and order cancellation of bail. As a result, Estanislao was re-arrested, but Joven and Armando were not. The case was remanded to the RTC for trial on merits. The RTC rendered a Decision finding several accused guilty of the offense as charged but those who remained at large (Joven, Domingo and Amando) were not present during trial and on the promulgation of judgment. Thereafter, Joven, Domingo, Amando and Estanislao filed a Joint Motion for Reconsideration. In its Opposition, the prosecution pointed out the accused who were at-large (Joven, Domingo and Amando), having opted to become fugitives and be beyond the judicial ambit, lost their right to file such motion for reconsideration and to ask for whatever relief from the court. However, the RTC issued an Order modifying its earlier decision by acquitting Joven and Armando, and downgrading the conviction of Domingo and Estanislao from murder to homicide. Petitioner then filed a Petition for certiorari before the CA. The CA, however, denied the petition on the ground of double jeopardy.
Whether or not there is double jeopardy that warrants dismissal of the petition.
The dismissal was improper. The court ruled that there is no double jeopardy in this case because the trial court lacked jurisdiction with regard to the person of Joven, Domingo and Armando. Hence, any acquittal or conviction before a court having no jurisdiction would not violate the principle of double jeopardy since it failed to attach in the first place. Section 14(2), Article III of the Constitution, authorizing trials in absentia, allows the accused to be absent at the trial but not at certain stages of the proceedings, to wit: (a) at arraignment and plea, whether of innocence or of guilt; (b) during trial, whenever necessary for identification purposes; and (c) at the promulgation of sentence. At such stages of the proceedings, his presence is required and cannot be waived. The RTC clearly exceeded its jurisdiction when it entertained the joint Motion for Reconsideration with respect to the respondents who were at large. It should have considered the joint motion as a motion for reconsideration that was solely filed by Estanislao. Being at large, Joven and Domingo have not regained their standing in court. Once an accused jumps bail or flees to a foreign country, or escapes from prison or confinement, he loses his standing in court; and unless he surrenders or submits to the jurisdiction of the court, he is deemed to have waived any right to seek relief from the court. Thus, Joven, Armando, and Domingo, were not placed in double jeopardy because, from the very beginning, the lower tribunal had acted without jurisdiction. Verily, any ruling issued without jurisdiction is, in legal contemplation, necessarily null and void and does not exist. In criminal cases, it cannot be the source of an acquittal.
Jimenez v. People
Montero, Jimenez, along with other co-conspirators were charged of murder for the killing of Ruby Rose. The Information was filed pursuant to the sworn statements executed by Montero confessing his participation in the killing. Montero thereafter filed a motion for his discharge as a state witness for the prosecution. RTC’s Acting Presiding Judge Hector B. Almeyda denied the motion while Judge Docena, the newly-appointed regular judge, reversed Judge Almeyda’s order granting the motion. Arguing against the decision of Judge Docena, Petitioner Jimenez raised the following contentions: (1) the decision is not compliant with the Rules because there was no hearing conducted; (2) there is no absolute necessity for the testimony of the accused whose discharge is requested; (3) the testimony of said accused cannot be substantially corroborated in its material points because of the discrepancies in Montero’s statements and the physical evidence, such as the absence of "busal" in the mouth of the retrieved cadaver; and (4) Montero appears to be the most guilty because a principal by direct participation is more guilty than the principal by inducement as the Revised Penal Code penalizes the principal by inducement only when the principal by direct participation has executed the crime.
Whether or not Montero should be discharged as a state witness.
On the first issue, Jimenez is estopped from raising the issue of lack of hearing prior to the discharge of Montero as a state witness. Jimenez did not raise this issue when Acting Judge Almeyda denied the motion to discharge. Furthermore, Supreme Court emphasized that actual hearing is not required provided that the parties have both presented their sides on the merits of the motion.
On the second issue, the SC ruled that the testimony of Montero is an absolute necessity because not one of the accused-conspirators, except Montero, was willing to testify on the alleged murder of Ruby Rose and their participation in her killing. He alone is available to provide direct evidence of the crime.
On the third issue, Montero’s testimony can be substantially corroborated The statements of Montero are far more material than the inconsistencies, at least for purposes of the motion to discharge. The alleged discrepancies in the physical evidence are matters that should properly be dealt with during the trial proper.
On the last issue, the Supreme Court ruled that Montero is not the most guilty to the murder. By jurisprudence, "most guilty" refers to the highest degree of culpability in terms of participation in the commission of the offense and does not necessarily mean the severity of the penalty imposed. Thus, as a rule, for purposes of resolving a motion to discharge an accused as a state witness, what are controlling are the specific acts of the accused in relation to the crime committed. From the evidence submitted by the prosecution, Montero was part of the planning of the murder and was also part of the execution of the murder. However, he had no direct participation in the actual killing of Ruby Rose. The actual killing of Ruby Rose was executed by accused Lennard, one of the co-accused.
In view of the foregoing, the SC granted the motion to discharge Montero as a state witness.
Vda de Manguerra v. Risos
Respondents were charged with Estafa before the RTC of Cebu City. Earlier, Concepcion Vda de Manguerra (petitioner), who was a resident of Cebu City, was unexpectedly confined at the Makati Medical Center due to upper gastro-intestinal bleeding; and was advised to stay in Manila for further treatment. Petitioner’s counsel filed a motion to take the latter’s deposition due to her weak physical condition and old age, which limited her freedom of mobility. The trial court granted the motion and deposition was taken by the Clerk of Court of Makati. Aggrieved, respondent filed a Petition for Certiorari questioning the granting of the motion.
Whether or not Rule 23 of the Rules on Civil Procedure applies to the deposition of the petitioner.
No. The rules on civil procedure only have suppletory application to criminal cases. Considering that Rule 119 adequately and squarely covers the situation in the instant case, Rule 23 cannot be applied. Section 15 of Rule 119 provides that when a witness for the prosecution is too sick or infirm to appear at the trial as directed by the court, or has to leave the Philippines with no definite date of returning, he may forthwith be conditionally examined before the court where the case is pending. The conditional examination of a prosecution witness for the purpose of taking his deposition should be made before the court, or at least before the judge, where the case is pending. Such is the clear mandate of Section 15, Rule 119 of the Rules. Hence, the taking of deposition before the Clerk of Court of Makati City is erroneous and contrary to the clear mandate of the Rules that the same be made before the court where the case is pending.
Salvanera v. People
Petitioner Salvanera was charged with murder along with Abutin, Lungcay and Tampelix. Petitioner Salvanera was the alleged mastermind. The prosecution moved for the discharge of accused Abutin and Tampelix, to serve as state witnesses, but the motion was denied. On appeal, the CA discharged accused Abutin and Tampelix from the Information to become state witnesses. On contrary, the petitioner contends that the testimony of an accused sought to be discharged to become a state witness must be substantially corroborated, not by a co-accused likewise sought to be discharged, but by other prosecution witnesses who are not the accused in the same criminal case. Petitioner argues that prosecution witnesses Parane and Salazar, who are not accused, do not have personal knowledge of the alleged conspiracy. Thus, they could not testify to corroborate the statement of Abutin and Tampelix that petitioner is the mastermind.
Whether or not accused Feliciano Abutin and Domingo Tampelix should be discharged as state witness.
Yes. In the discharge of an accused in order that he may be a state witness, two among other conditions that should be present are (1) there is no other direct evidence available for the proper prosecution of the offense committed, except the testimony of said accused; (2) The testimony of said accused can be substantially corroborated in its material points. However, to require the two witnesses Parane and Salazar to corroborate the testimony of Abutin and Tampelix on the exact same points is to render nugatory the other requisite that "there must be no other direct evidence available for the proper prosecution of the offense committed, except the testimony of the state witness." The corroborative evidence required by the Rules does not have to consist of the very same evidence as will be testified on by the proposed state witnesses. It is enough that the testimony of a co-conspirator is corroborated by some other witness or evidence. In the case at bar, the Court is satisfied from a reading of the records that the testimonies of Abutin and Tampelix are corroborated on important points by each other’s testimonies and the circumstances disclosed through the testimonies of the other prosecution witnesses, and "to such extent that their trustworthiness becomes manifest.
ABELLANA VS. PEOPLE - 655 SCRA 683
An Information was filed charging petitioner with Estafa through Falsification of Public Document in connection with a Deed of Sale over a certain parcel of land owned by the spouses Alonto. After trial in the RTC, the trial court found that petitioner had no intention to defraud and that the spouses Alonto actually signed the document although they did not personally appear before the notary public for its notarization. Hence, the RTC instead convicted petitioner of falsification of public document. The trial court sentenced petitioner with imprisonment, ordered him to restore full ownership and possession of the land to Sps. Alonto, and in case of his failure to do so, he shall pay Sps. Alonto the value of the properties. He was further adjudged to pay damages and costs of suit to Sps. Alonto. On appeal, CA acquitted petitioner as it opined that the conviction for an offense not alleged in the Information or one not necessarily included in the offense charged violated petitioner’s constitutional right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him. Nevertheless, the imposition of the civil liability was sustained. Petitioner then filed a motion for reconsideration but the same was denied. Hence, a Petition for Review on Certiorari before the Court.
1. Whether or not petitioner could still be held civilly liable notwithstanding his acquittal by the trial court and the Court of Appeals.
2. Whether or not the alternative sentence imposed by the trial court to petitioner should be sustained.
1. No. It is an established rule in criminal procedure that a judgment of acquittal shall state whether the evidence of the prosecution absolutely failed to prove the guilt of the accused or merely failed to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. In either case, the judgment shall determine if the act or omission from which the civil liability might arise did not exist. When the exoneration is merely due to the failure to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt, the court should award the civil liability in favor of the offended party in the same criminal action. In other words, the extinction of the penal action does not carry with it the extinction of civil liability unless the extinction proceeds from a declaration in a final judgment that the fact from which the civil liability might arise did not exist. In case of exoneration of the accused, the civil liability may still arise when one, by reason of his own act or omission, done intentionally or negligently, causes damage to another. Hence, for petitioner to be civilly liable to spouses Alonto, it must be proven that the acts he committed had caused damage to the spouses. Based on the records of the case, Court found that the acts allegedly committed by the petitioner did not cause any damage to spouses Alonto. Moreover, the defective notarization does not ipso facto invalidate the Deed of Absolute Sale, the transfer of said properties from spouses Alonto to petitioner remains valid. Hence, when on the basis of said Deed of Absolute Sale, petitioner caused the cancellation of spouses Alonto’s title and the issuance of new ones under his name, and thereafter sold the same to third persons, no damage resulted to the spouses Alonto.
2. No. the Court cannot sustain the alternative sentence imposed upon the petitioner, to wit: to institute an action for the recovery of the properties of spouses Alonto or to pay them actual and other kinds of damages. Sentences should not be in the alternative. There is nothing in the law which permits courts to impose sentences in the alternative. While a judge has the discretion of imposing one or another penalty, he cannot impose both in the alternative. He must fix positively and with certainty the particular penalty.
Wherefore, Petition granted.
PEOPLE VS. BARON - 621 SCRA 646
At about 9 o’clock in the evening of June 28, 1995 at Hda. Sta. Ana, Brgy. Burgos, Cadiz City, Negros Occidental, Philippines, the accused Rene Baron, Rey Villatima, and alias “Dedong” bargo, conspiring, confederating and helping one another with evident premeditation and treachery and with intent to kill, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously assault, attack and stab to death one Juanito Berallo in order to rob, steal and take away the latter’s sidecar and motorcycle, wallet, and wristwatch; and inflicted multiple stabbed wounds which directly caused the victim’s death.
Appellant, Rene Baron, denied any participation in the crime. He claimed that on June 28, 1995, at around 7 o’clock in the evening, he bought rice and other necessities for his family and proceeded to the public transport terminal to get a ride home where he chanced upon the deceased and his two passengers who insisted that he came along for the trip. During said trip, the two passengers announced a hold-up and thereafter tied the driver’s hands and dragged him towards the sugarcane fields while Baron stayed in the tricycle. Baron was then accompanied by the two passengers back to his house where he and his wife were threatened at gunpoint not to report the incident to the authorities.
On February 12, 2002, the trial court rendered a Decision finding the appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the complex crime of robbery with homicide.
Before the appellate court, appellant alleged that the trial court erred in finding him guilty as charged and in not appreciating in his favor the exempting circumstance of irresistible force and/or uncontrollable fear of an equal or greater injury. However, the same was disregarded by the CA holding that all the requisites for said circumstances were lacking.
Is the appellant entitled to the exempting circumstances of irresistible force and/or uncontrollable fear of an equal or greater injury.
No. The appellant’s attempt to evade criminal liability by insisting that he acted under the impulse of an uncontrollable fear of an equal or greater injury fails to impress. To avail of this exempting circumstance, the evidence must establish: (1) the existence of an uncontrollable fear; (2) that the fear must be real and imminent; and (3) the fear of an injury is greater than or at least equal to that committed. A threat of future injury is insufficient. The compulsion must be of such a character as to leave no opportunity for the accused to escape.
The Court found nothing in the records to substantiate appellant’s insistence that he was under duress from his co-accused in participating in the crime. In fact, the evidence was to the contrary. Villatima and Bargo dragged the victim towards the sugarcane field and left the appellant inside the tricycle that was parked by the roadside. While all alone, he had every opportunity to escape since he was no longer subjected to a real, imminent or reasonable fear. Surprisingly, he opted to wait for his co-accused to return and even rode with them to Kabankalan, Negros Occidental to hide the victim’s motorcycle in the house of Villatima’s aunt.
The appellant had other opportunities to escape since he traveled with his co-accused for more than 10 hours and passed several transportation terminals. However, he never tried to escape or at least request for assistance from the people around him. From the series of proven circumstantial evidence, the inescapable and natural conclusion was the three accused were in conspiracy with one another to kill the victim and cart away the motorcycle.
PEOPLE VS. LORENZO - 619 SCRA 389
Two (2) Information where filed against accused-appellant Paterno Lorenzo y Casas (Lorenzo) for violation of Section 5 and 11 of Article II of R.A No. 9165. Meanwhile, Conrado Estanislao y Javier (Estanislao) was similarly charged in different Information (later acquitted due to insufficiency of evidence in connection with the offense charged against him).
After entering the plea of “not guilty”, the case was set for trial. The prosecution presented as its lone witness, Police Officer 1 (PO1) Noel Pineda, who was member of the buy-bust operation team which ensued leading to the arrest of Lorenzo and Estanislao. On the other hand, the accused interposes the twin defense of denial and frame-up.
RTC rendered its Decision convicting Lorenzo for Illegal Possession and Sale of Dangerous Drugs, but acquitting Estanislao.
Invoking his innocence, Lorenzo appealed his conviction to the Court of Appeals (CA), questioning the procedure followed by the police operatives in the seizure and custody of the evidence against him and that there is failure of the prosecution to convict him on the basis that there arises a reasonable doubt in the case at bar. Moreover, he claims that the prosecution failed to adopt required procedure by Section 21, Article II, RA. No. 9165, on the chain of custody and disposition of confiscated, seized, or surrendered dangerous drugs. CA affirmed the decision of the RTC.
Hence, this petition.
Whether or not the prosecution discharged its burden of proving Lorenzo’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt for the crime charged.
The presumption of innocence of an accused in a criminal case is a basic constitutional principle, fleshed out by procedural rules which place on the prosecution the burden of proving that an accused is guilty of the offense charged by proof beyond reasonable doubt. Corollary thereto, conviction must rest on the strength of the prosecution’s evidence and not on the weakness of the defense.
In both illegal sale and illegal possession of prohibited drugs, conviction cannot be sustained if there is a persistent doubt on the identity of the drug. The identity of the prohibited drug must be established with moral certainty. Apart from showing that the elements of possession or sale are present, the fact that the substance illegally possessed and sold in the first place is the same substance offered in court as exhibit must likewise be established with the same degree of certitude as that needed to sustain a guilty verdict.
PO1 Pineda testified that it was their confidential agent who purchased the shabu from accused-appellant and that he only retrieved it from said informant. He further testified that he marked the retrieved sachet of shabu together with the two other sachets of shabu that were allegedly seized from the accused, but it was not certain when and where the said marking was done nor who had specifically received and had custody of the specimens thereafter.
The Court also observes that the prosecution did not present the poseur-buyer who had personal knowledge of the transaction. The lone prosecution witness was at least four meters away from where accused-appellant and the poseur-buyer were. From this distance, it was impossible for him to hear the conversation between accused-appellant and the poseur-buyer. The foregoing facts and circumstances create doubt as to whether the sachets of shabu allegedly seized from accused-appellant were the same ones that were released to Camp Crame and submitted for laboratory examination. We therefore find that this failure to establish the evidence’s chain of custody is damaging to the prosecution’s case.
In sum, the totality of the evidence presented in the instant case failed to support accused appellant conviction of the crime charged, since the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt all elements of the offense.
Accordingly, presumption of innocence should prevail.