Criminal Law Digests – February 2000
People v. Pedro Lumacang
February 1, 2000
Brothers Lumacang went out on a drinking spree with 2 friends and the deceased Elmer Salac. Without warning, Pedro unsheathed his hunting knife and stabbed Elmer Salac. They were charged with murder, which crime was attended with the qualifying circumstances of treachery, abuse of superior strength, and generic aggravating circumstance of nighttime. RTC found them guilty. Only Pablo appealed.
The essence of treachery is a swift and unexpected attack on an unarmed victim without the slightest provocation on his part. The the severity of the assault during the first incident of stabbing had already rendered the deceased completely defenseless. That he was able to run away to seek succor does not negate the presence of alevosia because the wounded victim, in fact, had little opportunity to run far. He was easily overtaken by the three brothers who mercilessly stabbed him to death.
There is treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against the person employing means, methods or forms in the execution thereof which tend directly and specifically to insure execution without risk to himself arising from the defense which the offended party might make. Since treachery has already been appreciated as a qualifying circumstance, abuse of superior strength should not have been considered separately inasmuch as it is absorbed in treachery. For night time to be appreciated as an aggravating circumstance it must be shown that the accused had purposely sought such period to facilitate the commission of the crime or to prevent its discovery or to evade the culprit’s capture.
People v. Alberto Blanco Y Señora
February 1, 2000
Edgardo Tolentino and Arnel Leovido were riding a tricycle. During the trip, the driver, Blanco, allowed 3 men to board the tricycle, accelerated its speed, and engaged in a different route than that intended by Tolentino and Leovido. Sensing that something was wrong, both passengers jumped out the moving tricycle. After they jumped, Tolentino found out that Leovido had been stabbed by one of the three men who boarded the tricycle. Leovido died. Alberto Blanco, and Arturo Punzalan were charged with murder
For the defense of alibi to prosper, appellant must prove not only that he was elsewhere when the crime was perpetuated but also that it was physically impossible for him to have been at the crime scene or its immediate vicinity at the approximate time of its commission. Appellant failed to demonstrate either scenario. Where there is absence of strong and convincing evidence, alibi cannot prevail over the positive identification of appellant by an eyewitness to the stabbing incident, who has no improper motive to testify falsely.
There is conspiracy where, at the time the malefactors were committing the crime, their actions showed a unity of purpose among them, a concerted effort to bring about the death of the victim. Thus, although it appears that it was one of appellant’s co-accused who dealt Leovido the death blow, appellant performed acts to carry out the felonious killing complained of, for which he should be held answerable.
People v. Jalosjos
February 3, 2000
The accused-appellant, Romeo G. Jalosjos is a full-fledged member of Congress who is now confined at the national penitentiary while his conviction for statutory rape on two counts and acts of lasciviousness on six counts is pending appeal. The accused-appellant filed this motion asking that he be allowed to fully discharge the duties of a Congressman, including attendance at legislative sessions and committee meetings despite his having been convicted in the first instance of a non-bailable offense. Does membership in Congress exempt an accused from statutes and rules which apply to validly incarcerated persons in general?
True, election is the expression of the sovereign power of the people. In the exercise of suffrage, a free people expects to achieve the continuity of government and the perpetuation of its benefits. However, inspite of its importance, the privileges and rights arising from having been elected may be enlarged or restricted by law. The election to the position of Congressman is not a reasonable classification in criminal law enforcement. The functions and duties of the office are not substantial distinctions which lift him from the class of prisoners interrupted in their freedom and restricted in liberty of movement. Lawful arrest and confinement are germane to the purposes of the law and apply to all those belonging to the same class. Imprisonment is the restraint of a man’s personal liberty; coercion exercised upon a person to prevent the free exercise of his power of locomotion.
People v. Nicolas
February 4, 2000
MELANDRO NICOLAS y FAVELLA was convicted by the court a quo of two (2) counts of statutory rape and one (1) simple rape committed against his own daughter, Shellome Nicolas y Dalisay. The statutory rapes were committed when Shellome was only eleven (11) years old while the simple rape was perpetrated when she was already twelve (12).
We strongly sustain his conviction. The rule is settled that this Court does not generally disturb the findings of fact of the trial court. Having observed the manner, conduct and demeanor of the witnesses while on the stand, the trial court is clearly in a better position to determine the weight to be given to their respective testimonies. Unless there is a clear showing that it overlooked certain facts and circumstances which might alter the result of the case, this Court accords respect, even finality, to these findings of fact made by the trial court.
The pattern of instilling fear, utilized by the perpetrator in incestuous rape to intimidate his victim into submission, is evident in virtually all cases that have reached this Court. The relationship of the victim to the perpetrator magnifies this terror, because the perpetrator is a person normally expected to give solace and protection to the victim.
People v. Llanes
February 4, 2000
Appellants Nicanor Llanes and Leandro Llanes were charged with the crime of murder in the RTC.
The declaration of a dying person, made under a consciousness of an impending death, may be received in any case wherein his death is the subject of inquiry, as evidence of the cause and surrounding circumstances of such death. The essential requisites for the admission of a dying declaration under Section 37 of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court are, viz: (a) the declaration must concern the cause and surrounding circumstances of the declarant’s death; (b) at the time the declaration was made, the declarant was under the consciousness of an impending death; (c) the declarant was at that time competent as a witness; and (d) the declaration is offered in any case wherein the declarant’s is the subject of inquiry. All these requisites have been met in this case.
It is a well-settled rule that different witnesses testifying on the circumstances of a criminal event would naturally differ in various details. The fact that witnesses Arevalo and Valenzuela gave varying testimonies as to the dying declaration of the victim does not indicate that they are lying. A truth-telling witness is not always expected to give an error-free testimony, considering the lapse of time and the treachery of human memory.
People v. Magdato
February 7, 2000
Before us for automatic review of the Criminal Cases finding accused-appellant Pepito Alama Magdato (hereafter PEPITO) guilty beyond reasonable doubt of six (6) counts of rape committed on her 12-year old daughter Cherry Ann Magdato.
We find to be correct the penalty of death imposed by the trial court for each of the six (6) crimes of qualified rape. Such penalty is justified under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A. 7659. The informations for rape in these cases explicitly allege that CHERRY ANN is the daughter of PEPITO and she was only twelve (12) years old when he committed the rapes in question. Under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 11 of R.A. No. 7659, the death penalty shall be imposed if the crime of rape is committed with, inter alia, the following attendant circumstances:
1. When the victim is under eighteen (18) years of age and the offender is a parent, ascendant, stepparent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity within the third civil degree, or the common-law spouse of the parent of the victim.
PEOPLE v. ALFREDO CABANDE
G.R. No. 132747. February 8, 2000
Appellant Alfredo Cabande appeals the July 24, 1997 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Malolos, Bulacan (Branch 16) in a Criminal Case, finding him guilty of two counts of murder and sentencing him to two terms of reclusion perpetua. The accused appealed that the State did not correctly appreciate the evidence of the accused. The Court addressed the following matters: (1) sufficiency of the prosecution evidence, (2) presence of qualifying circumstances and (3) damages.
Well-settled is the rule that the trial court’s findings on the credibility of witnesses and their testimonies are accorded great weight and respect, in the absence of a clear showing that some facts or circumstances of weight or substance that could have affected the result of the case have been overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied. Thus, the SC found no reason to reverse or modify the trial court’s assessment.
There is treachery when one commits any of the crimes against persons by employing means, methods or forms in the execution thereof without risk to oneself arising from the defense which the offended party might make. The mere fact that there was a feud between appellant and the victims did not necessarily prove that the attack was expected. As the solicitor general pointed out, what was decisive was the suddenness of the attack which made it impossible for the victims to retaliate, flee, or defend themselves.
In line with current jurisprudence, we affirm the award of indemnity ex delicto to the heirs of each victim in the sum of P50,000 or a total of P100,000. This may be awarded without need of proof other than the commission of the crime. We cannot sustain, however, the award of exemplary damages, which are awarded only in the presence of one or more aggravating circumstances. None was established in this case.
PEOPLE v. CORNELIA SUELTO
G.R. No. 126097. February 8, 2000
Accused-appellant Cornelia Suelto alias Rogelia Suelto appeals from the judgment rendered by the RTC finding her guilty of the murder of Isabel Ruales. The prosecution’s case rests primarily on the testimony of two witnesses who claimed to have personally witnessed the killing. Â h Y
Alibis are generally considered with suspicion and are always received with caution, not only because they are inherently weak and unreliable, but also because they can be easily fabricated. Therefore, for alibi to serve as a basis for acquittal, the accused must establish by clear and convincing evidence (a) his presence at another place at the time of the perpetration of the offense and (b) that it would thus be physically impossible for him to have been at the scene of the crime. Furthermore, the alibi must receive credible corroboration from disinterested witnesses.We hold that accused has failed to establish her alibi by clear and convincing evidence.
The trial court found that the killing of Isabel Ruales by accused was attended by the qualifying circumstance of treachery. Treachery exists when the offender commits any of the crimes against persons, employing means, methods, or forms which tend directly and specially to insure the execution of the crime without risk to himself arising from the defense which the offended party might make.
PEOPLE v. DIOLO BARITA
G.R. No. 123541. February 8, 2000
Diolo Barita (BARITA), Denver Golsing (GOLSING) and Dionisio Cuison (CUISON) were charged with violation of Section 4, Article II of Republic Act 6425, the accused was charged with selling and delivering more or less 2,800 grams of dried marijuana. In support of his appeal, BARITA denies any participation in the alleged sale of marijuana. He claims that no buy-bust operation was conducted and that the accusation against him was all part of a frame-up. To prove this, BARITA alleges that the prosecution evidence is replete with numerous flaws and glaring inconsistencies.
Accused-appellants’ defense of “frame-up” does not convince us of their innocence. Such defense has been invariably viewed by this Court with disfavor for it can easily be concocted but difficult to prove and is a common and standard line of defense in most prosecutions arising from violations of the Dangerous Drugs Act. Any person who sells or acts as a broker in the sale of marijuana shall be punished with reclusion perpetua to death and a fine ranging from five hundred thousand pesos to ten million pesos if 750 grams or more of marijuana is sold.
PEOPLE v. GOMEZ
G.R. Nos. 131946-47. February 8, 2000
On 29 December 1995 an Information was filed before the Regional Trial Court of Parañaque charging Rogelio Gomez y Reyes a.k.a. Philip Roger Lacson or Roger Eleazar Gomez with illegal recruitment in large scale resulting in economic sabotage.
Anent the first issue, we have consistently ruled that any objection to the warrant of arrest or the procedure in the acquisition by the court of jurisdiction over the person of the accused must be made before he enters his plea, otherwise the objection is deemed waived.
The more significant issue at hand is whether the culpability of accused-appellant for illegal recruitment in large scale and estafa has been proved beyond reasonable doubt. Under the Labor Code, there are three (3) elements which constitute illegal recruitment in large scale. First, the accused undertakes any recruitment activity defined under Art. 13, par. (b), or any practice enumerated under Art. 34 of the Labor Code; second, the accused does not comply with the guidelines issued by the Secretary of Labor and Employment, particularly with respect to the securing of a license or authority to recruit and deploy workers, either locally or overseas; and third, the accused commits the same against three (3) or more persons, individually or as a group.
On several occasions, this Court has held that there is illegal recruitment when one purports to have the ability to send a worker abroad although without the authority or license to do so. He may merely give such an impression in order to induce an applicant to tender payment for fees. Although accused-appellant initially might not have done anything to encourage individuals to apply to him for employment abroad, such fact does not in any way blot out his liability for illegal recruitment. Recruitment is a legal term; its meaning must be understood in the light of what the law contemplates and not of common parlance.
PEOPLE v. ALFREDO ENTILA
G.R. No. 135368. February 9, 2000
The RTC found appellant Alfredo Entila alias “Bogie” guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of kidnapping and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. He contends in his appeal that the trial court erred in rendering a decision against him.
In convicting the appellant, the trial court relied on the oft-cited rule that denial, like alibi, is a weak defense since it is easily fabricated or concocted. There are nonetheless settled pronouncements of this Court to the effect that where an accused sets up alibi, or denial for that matter, as his line of defense, the courts should not at once look at the same with wary eyes for taken in the light of all the evidence on record, it may be sufficient to reverse the outcome of the case as found by the trial court and thereby rightly set the accused free. Furthermore, the defense of alibi or denial may assume significance or strength when it is amply corroborated by a credible witness, as in the instant case.
PEOPLE v. ALFREDO ARAFILES
G.R. No. 128814. February 9, 2000
The accused was charged withed rape. Maria Corazon Dampil (Corazon) was 15 years old at the time she was allegedly raped. Accused-appellant is her uncle. He interposed this appeal claiming that the trial court erred in giving full faith and credit to the testimony of complaining witness.
It is well-settled that full penile penetration is not necessary in order to consummate the crime of rape; it is enough that the male organ touches the female external genitalia for there to be carnal knowledge. When there is no evidence to show any improper motive on the part of the complainant to testify against the accused or to falsely implicate him in the commission of a crime, the logical conclusion is that the testimony is worthy of full faith and credence.
PEOPLE v. JOEY BARCELONA
G.R. No. 125341. February 9, 2000
Barcelona was charged with the rape of Dolly Maglinte, a 17 year old minor.
In adjudging rape cases, the Court is guided by the following principles: (a) an accusation of rape can be made with facility; it is difficult to prove but more difficult for the person accused, though innocent, to disprove; (b) in view of the nature of the crime in which only two persons are involved, the testimony of the complainant must be scrutinized with extreme caution; and (c) the evidence for the prosecution must stand or fall on its own merits, and cannot be allowed to draw strength from the weakness of the evidence for the defense.
The Court has repeatedly held that rape is committed when intimidation is used on the victim and the latter submitted against her will because of fear for her life or personal safety. It is not necessary that the force or intimidation employed be so great or of such character as could not be resisted because all that is required is that it be sufficient to consummate the purpose that the accused had in mind. . .
While the Court has upheld the defense of consensual sex in some cases, this was on the basis of strong evidence, consisting of letters and the testimonies of witnesses, showing that the alleged rape was actually sex by mutual consent.Having been raised as an affirmative defense, the “sweetheart theory” must be established by convincing proof. Accused-appellant bears the burden of proving that he and complainant had an affair which naturally led to a sexual relationship. This accused-appellant failed to do.
PEOPLE v. BERLY FABRO
G.R. No. 114261. February 10, 2000
Appellant Berly Fabro y Azucena, together with her common-law husband Donald Pilay y Calag and Irene Martin, was charged with the crime of “violation of Section 21 (b) Art. IV, in relation to Section 4, Art. II of Republic Act No. 6425: sell and/or deliver to PO2 ELLONITO APDUHAN, who acted as poseur-buyer, one (1) kilo of dried marijuana leaves.
As between a writing or document made contemporaneously with a transaction in which are evidenced facts pertinent to an issue, when admitted as proof of these facts, is ordinarily regarded as more reliable proof and of greater probative value than oral testimony of a witness as to such facts based upon memory and recollection. The reason behind this is obvious, human memory is fallible and its force diminishes with the lapse of time.
It must be stressed, however, that failure to present the marked money is of no great consequence. The Dangerous Drugs Law punishes the mere act of delivery of prohibited drugs after the offer to buy by the entrapping officer has been accepted by the prohibited drug seller. It is clear that Section 21 (b) of R.A. 6425 punishes the mere conspiracy to commit the offense of selling, delivering, distributing and transporting of dangerous drugs. Conspiracy herein refers to the mere agreement to commit the said acts and not the actual execution thereof. While the rule is that a mere conspiracy to commit a crime without doing any overt act is not punishable, the exception is when such is specifically penalized by law, as in the case of Section 21 of Republic Act 6425. Conspiracy as crime should be distinguished from conspiracy as a manner of incurring criminal liability the latter being applicable to the case at bar.
PEOPLE v. EULOGIO IGNACIO
G.R. No. 134568. February 10, 2000
The RTC convicted Eulogio Ignacio of murder.The trial court ruled that appellant failed to prove by credible, clear and convincing evidence that he had acted in lawful defense of the landowner’s property. There was no legal reason for him to shoot the victim, an unarmed minor at the time of the incident. The said court qualified the killing to murder because of the presence of treachery.
In the present case, we find ample evidence that appellant did shoot the victim. It should be stressed that appellant’s conduct cannot be justified as a lawful defense of property rights. For this justifying circumstance to be appreciated, the accused has the burden of proving unlawful aggression on the part of the victim and reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel it. In this case, the first requisite was not proven, because he was not attacked by the victim. In fact, he did not even see the victim steal the crabs; he merely suspected him of doing so. Furthermore, assuming that unlawful aggression was proven, there was no necessity to shoot because, according to him, the victim was already running away when hit.
There is treachery when the accused unexpectedly and deliberately shoots an unarmed minor who is thus not in a position to put up a defense or to inflict harm on the former. Voluntary surrender is not appreciated even if the accused submits himself to the members of the barangay tanod who, by their presence in his house, precluded his escape.
In order that the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender may be appreciated, the defense must clearly satisfy three requisites: (a) the offender has not been actually arrested; (2) the offender surrenders himself to a person in authority or the latter’s agent; and (c) the surrender is voluntary. The defense must show an intent to surrender unconditionally to the authorities, because of an acknowledgement of guilt or because of a wish to spare them the trouble and the expense concomitant to the search and the capture of the accused.
PEOPLE v. CARLIE ALAGON
G.R. No. 126536-37. February 10, 2000
Two separate Informations were filed against ALAGON and RAFAEL, both dated February 2, 1994, charging them with two counts of murder for the deaths of Elarde Magno and Isidro Barcelona. The case for the prosecution is woven mainly on the testimony of Remedios Punzalan. Accused-appellants ALAGON and RAFAEL had denial for their defense.
As a general rule, the factual findings of trial courts deserve respect and are not disturbed on appeal, unless some facts or circumstances of weight and substance have been overlooked, misapprehended or misinterpreted, and would otherwise materially affect the disposition of the case. ALAGON points out, however, that this rule does not apply when the judge who penned the decision was not the same one who had heard the prosecution witnesses testify, as in the present case. The SC has carefully perused and considered the records of this case, and we find no reason to alter the findings of the trial court in regard to the credibility of the prosecution witnesses and their testimonies.
Conspiracy was not duly proven. There is conspiracy where, at the time the malefactors were committing the crime, their actions impliedly showed a unity of purpose among them, a concerted effort to bring about the death of the victim. Conspiracy, like the crime itself, must be proven beyond reasonable doubt. Existence of conspiracy must be clearly and convincingly proven. The accused must be shown to have had guilty participation in the criminal design entertained by the slayer, and this presupposes knowledge on his part of such criminal design.
PEOPLE v. ROMMEL BALTAR
G.R. No. 130341. February 10, 2000
Three criminal complaints were filed by Kristine against Rommel Baltar. The prosecution presented Kristine. She relayed that on four separate incidents Baltar came to her house and forced her to have iintercourse with him.
The evidence proving the use of force by the accused-appellant is overwhelming. Kristine also adequately explained why she did not immediately report to the police authorities. The threats made by accused-appellant scared her. Accused-appellant can not also dismiss the complaints against him as merely instigated by Kristine’s mother. Even assuming that accused-appellant and Kristine were lovers, this fact alone is not exculpatory. A sweetheart can not be forced to have sex against her will. Love is not a license for lust. Accused-appellant’s sweetheart theory can not stand in the light of Kristine’s positive assertions that he raped her.
PEOPLE v. APOLINAR DANDO
G.R. No. 120646. February 14, 2000
This is an appeal from a decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 33, Siniloan, Laguna finding PO3 Apolinar E. Dando (“accused-appellant”) guilty beyond reasonable doubt of murder.
Well-settled is the rule that “inconsistencies on minor and trivial matters only serve to strengthen rather than weaken the credibility of witnesses for they erase the suspicion of rehearsed. Alibi is one of the weakest defenses in criminal cases and it should be rejected when the identity of the accused is sufficiently and positively established by the prosecution.
The essence of treachery is that the attack comes without a warning and in a swift, deliberate and unexpected manner, affording the hapless, unarmed and unsuspecting victim no chance to resist or escape this case, accused-appellant, whose face was covered by a handkerchief, approached the victim, who was merely standing by the gate in front of his house, and shot him. The victim was undoubtedly caught unaware and had no chance of putting up any defense. Clearly, treachery attended the commission of the crime since the attack, although frontally, was no less sudden and unexpected, giving the victim no opportunity to repel it or offer any defense of his person.
PEOPLE v. JULIAN CASTILLO
G.R. No. 131592-93. February 15, 2000
With the passage of Republic Act No. 8294 on June 6, 1997, the use of an unlicensed firearm in murder or homicide is now considered, not as a separate crime, but merely a special aggravating circumstance. In the case at bar, appellant JULIAN CASTILLO y LUMAYRO was charged with Murder and Illegal Possession of Firearms.
P.D. 1866, which codified the laws on illegal possession of firearms, was amended on June 6, 1997 by Republic Act 8294. Aside from lowering the penalty for said crime, R.A. 8294 also provided that if homicide or murder is committed with the use of an unlicensed firearm, such use shall be considered as a special aggravating circumstance.This amendment has two (2) implications: first, the use of an unlicensed firearm in the commission of homicide or murder shall not be treated as a separate offense, but merely as a special aggravating circumstance; second, as only a single crime (homicide or murder with the aggravating circumstance of illegal possession of firearm) is committed under the law, only one penalty shall be imposed on the accused.
Two (2) requisites are necessary to establish illegal possession of firearms: first, the existence of the subject firearm, and second, the fact that the accused who owned or possessed the gun did not have the corresponding license or permit to carry it outside his residence. The onus probandi of establishing these elements as alleged in the Information lies with the prosecution.
PEOPLE v. ABUNDIO MANGILA
G.R. No. 130203-04. February 15, 2000
Death is the most severe penalty for crime. It is imposed in incestuous rape, regardless of any mitigating or aggravating circumstance. In the case at bar, sixteen (16) year old MADRILYN D. MANGILA accused her father, ABUNDIO MANGILA y PAREÑO, of two (2) counts of RAPE, allegedly committed as follows:
Section 3, Rule 116 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure provides:
“Section 3. Pleas of guilty to capital offense; reception of evidence – When the accused pleads guilty to a capital offense, the court shall conduct a searching inquiry into the voluntariness and full comprehension of the consequences of his plea and require the prosecution to prove his guilt and the precise degree of culpability. The accused may also present evidence in his behalf.” (emphasis supplied)
To breathe life into this rule, we made it mandatory for trial courts to do the following:
(1) conduct a searching inquiry into the voluntariness and full comprehension of the consequences of the accused’s plea;
(2) require the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused and the precise degree of his culpability; and
(3) inquire whether or not the accused wishes to present evidence on his behalf and allow him to do so if he so desires.
The records show that the trial court failed to comply to the letter with these guidelines. It did not conduct a searching inquiry on whether accused understood the legal consequences of his admission of guilt. It is not shown that accused was informed of the effect of the concurrence of the special qualifying circumstance of minority of the victim and his parental relationship to her. After the accused testified on how he raped his daughter, he was not apprised that his crime is punishable by death. The trial court also failed to explain to him that as the penalty of death is indivisible, it shall be imposed despite any mitigating or aggravating circumstance attending its commission. Apparently, the trial court entertained the erroneous notion that the alleged intoxication of accused would lessen his liability.
PEOPLE v. ELRANIE MARTINEZ
G.R. No. 130606. February 15, 2000
This is an appeal from the decision of the RTC finding accused-appellant Elranie Martinez guilty of rape of Melina and imposing on him the penalty of reclusion perpetua.
While denial is a legitimate defense in rape cases bare denials can not overcome the categorical testimony of the victim. Here, Melina’s testimony is clear, candid, straightforward and consistent. She had positively identified accused-appellant as her malefactor and established all the elements of the offense. That the physical examination yielded no conclusive evidence that she had been raped does not affect her credibility. The lack of tell-tale signs of rape on her private part can be explained by the fact that she is a married woman with four children. This fact actually bolsters her credibility. She had no motive to falsely implicate accused-appellant.
PEOPLE v. BULU CHOWDURY
G.R. No. 129577-80. February 15, 2000
In November 1995, Bulu Chowdury and Josephine Ong were charged before the Regional Trial Court of Manila with the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale.
The last paragraph of Section 6 of Republic Act (RA) states who shall be held liable for the offense, thus:
“The persons criminally liable for the above offenses are the principals, accomplices and accessories. In case of juridical persons, the officers having control, management or direction of their business shall be liable.”
As stated in the first sentence of Section 6 of RA 8042, the persons who may be held liable for illegal recruitment are the principals, accomplices and accessories. An employee of a company or corporation engaged in illegal recruitment may be held liable as principal, together with his if it is shown that he actively and consciously participated in illegal recruitment. It has been held that the existence of the corporate entity does not shield from prosecution the corporate agent who knowingly and intentionally causes the corporation to commit a crime. The corporation obviously acts, and can act, only by and through its human agents, and it is their conduct which the law must deter. The employee or agent of a corporation engaged in unlawful business naturally aids and abets in the carrying on of such business and will be prosecuted as principal if, with knowledge of the business, its purpose and effect, he consciously contributes his efforts to its conduct and promotion, however slight his contribution may be. The law of agency, as applied in civil cases, has no application in criminal cases, and no man can escape punishment when he participates in the commission of a crime upon the ground that he simply acted as an agent of any party. The culpability of the employee therefore hinges on his knowledge of the offense and his active participation in its commission. Where it is shown that the employee was merely acting under the direction of his superiors and was unaware that his acts constituted a crime, he may not be held criminally liable for an act done for and in behalf of his employer.
PEOPLE v. ROGELIO GALAM
G.R. No. 114740. February 15, 2000
On appeal is the decision of the RTC convicting accused-appellant of the crime of murder, imposing upon him the penalty of reclusion perpetua.
The qualifying circumstance of treachery attended the killing as the two conditions for the same are present, i.e., (1) that at the time of the attack, the victim was not in a position to defend himself and (2) that the offender consciously adopted the particular means, method or form of attack employed by him. The attack was not only sudden, it was unexpected, as the victim even cried out in surprise “Why are you firing at me, I have not done anything wrong!” Further, appellant deliberately or consciously adopted the means of attack as shown by the fact that he even wrapped the gun inside a jacket prior to shooting the victim.
However, evident premeditation cannot be appreciated inasmuch as the following elements were not duly proven: (1) the time when the offender determined to commit the crime; (2) an act manifestly indicating that the offender had clung to his determination; and (3) sufficient lapse of time between the determination and the execution to allow the offender to reflect on the consequences of his act.
Nor can the aggravating circumstance of nighttime be appreciated, for the prosecution failed to demonstrate (1) that the malefactor particularly sought or took advantage of the darkness to commit the offense, or (2) that nighttime facilitated the commission of the crime. Although the crime took place at around 11:00 in the evening, the store/house where the incident occurred was sufficiently lighted by a fluorescent lamp, and there were still people milling around because of the dance held at a nearby plaza.
PEOPLE v. GREGORIO TOLIBAS
G.R. No. 103506. February 15, 2000
On appeal is the decision the RTC convicted accused-appellant Rodel Quijon and accused Gregorio Tolibas of the crime of murder and sentencing them to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, to indemnify the widow of the victim in the amount of P30,000.00 and to pay the costs.
Once more, we are guided by the tenet that “when the issue is one of credibility of witnesses, appellate courts will generally not disturb the findings of the trial court, considering that the latter is in a better position to decide the question, having heard the witnesses themselves and observed their deportment and manner of testifying during the trial, unless it has plainly overlooked certain facts of substance and value that if, considered, might affect the result of the case.
For conspiracy to exist, it is not required that there be an agreement for an appreciable period prior to the occurrence. The concerted actions of the four accused showed their intent to kill the victim. The qualifying circumstance of treachery was present in this case as the two conditions therefore were proved: (1) that at the time of the attack, the victim was not in a position to defend himself and (2) that the offenders consciously adopted the particular means, method or form of attack employed by him. Treachery absorbs the generic aggravating circumstance of abuse of superior strength so the same need not be appreciated separately.
PEOPLE v. CIELITO BULURAN
G.R. No. 113940. February 15, 2000
On May 20, 1993, appellant Cielito Buluran and three (3) John Does were charged with the crime of murder. The Information was later amendedwhen Leonardo Valenzuela was identified as one of the assailants. Upon arraignment, both accused entered pleas of not guilty. On February 4, 1994, the trial court, finding conspiracy and treachery, rendered judgment convicting appellants of murder.
First. Appellants are estopped from questioning the validity of their respective arrests since they never raised this issue before arraignment. Any objection involving a warrant of arrest or the acquisition of jurisdiction over the person of an accused must be made before he enters his plea, otherwise the objection is deemed waived. Second. There is no violation of the constitutional rights of the accused during custodial investigation since neither one executed an extrajudicial confession or admission. In this case, the basis of the conviction by the trial court was the testimonies of the three eyewitnesses, Artemio Avendaño, Jacinto Castillo, and Gloria Castillo.
Third. The failure to accord appellants their right to preliminary investigation did not impair the validity of the information nor affect the jurisdiction of the trial court. While the right to preliminary investigation is a substantive right and not a mere formal or technical right of the accused, nevertheless, the right to preliminary investigation is deemed waived when the accused fails to invoke it before or at the time of entering a plea at arraignment.
The SC found that no treachery attended the killing. On numerous occasions, we have held that where a killing was preceded by an argument or quarrel, then the qualifying circumstance of treachery can no longer be appreciated since the victim could be said to have been forewarned and could anticipate aggression from the assailants. Moreover, the aggravating circumstance of evident premeditation alleged by the prosecution was not proved clearly and convincingly. Considering that the attack was made about two minutes after the initial altercation, it cannot be said that there was sufficient lapse of time between such determination to commit the crime and its execution so as to allow the assailants to reflect upon the consequences of their actions.
PEOPLE v. RODOLFO BATO
G.R. No. 134939. February 16, 2000
Rodolfo Bato alias “Rudy Bato” is charged of rape and sentenced to suffer imprisonment of reclusion perpetua. He raped Delia Hernandez, a minor of nine (9) years old, against her will, to the damage and prejudice of the latter.
Neither is the absence of spermatozoa in Delia’s genitalia fatal to the prosecution’s case. The presence or absence of spermatozoa is immaterial in a prosecution for rape. The important consideration in rape cases is not the emission of semen but the unlawful penetration of the female genitalia by the male organ.
The crime committed is statutory rape, defined and penalized under paragraph 3 of Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 11, R. A. 7659. This Court has held that if the woman is under twelve (12) years of age, proof of force and consent becomes immaterial, not only because force is not an element of statutory rape but the absence of free consent is presumed when the woman is below such age. The two (2) elements of statutory rape are: (1) that the accused had carnal knowledge of a woman; and (2) that the woman is below twelve (12) years of age. Sexual congress with a girl under twelve (12) years old is always rape.”
PEOPLE v. GALLARDER
G.R. No. 133025. February 17, 2000
On 24 June 1997, GALLARDE was charged with the special complex crime of rape with homicide of a minor.
A reading of the accusatory portion of the information shows that there was no allegation of any qualifying circumstance. Although it is true that the term “homicide” as used in special complex crime of rape with homicide is to be understood in its generic sense, and includes murder and slight physical injuries committed by reason or on the occasion of rape it is settled in this jurisdiction that where a complex crime is charged and the evidence fails to support the charge as to one of the component offense, the accused can be convicted of the other. In rape with homicide, in order to be convicted of murder in case the evidence fails to support the charge of rape, the qualifying circumstance must be sufficiently alleged and proved. Otherwise, it would be a denial of the right of the accused to be informed of the nature of the offense with which he is charged. It is fundamental that every element of the offense must be alleged in the complaint or information. The main purpose of requiring the various elements of a crime to be set out in an information is to enable the accused to suitably prepare his defense. He is presumed to have no independent knowledge of the facts that constitute the offense
Direct evidence of the commission of a crime is not the only matrix wherefrom a trial court may draw its conclusion and finding of guilt. The prosecution is not always tasked to present direct evidence to sustain a judgment of conviction; the absence of direct evidence does not necessarily absolve an accused from any criminal liability.
PEOPLE v. REYNALDO QUILLOSA
G.R. No. 115687. February 17, 2000
The RTC convicted Quillosa of the murder of Ambrosio Ilocto, imposing upon him the penalty of reclusion perpetua, and ordering him to indemnify the heirs of the victim the amount of P50,000.00.
We have long held that “the testimony of a single eyewitness is sufficient to support a conviction so long as it is clear, straightforward and worthy of credence by the trial court. Minor and inconsequential flaws in the testimony of the witness strengthen rather than impair his credibility. As to appellant’s participation in the killing, the Court in previous cases have held that holding the hand of the victim to render him immobile while he is being stabbed amounts to an act of indispensable cooperation without which the crime would not have been accomplished. Appellant’s act of holding the right arm of the victim, while another held the left arm, thus enabling their third companion to stab the victim, shows that they acted together with one purpose and design to kill the victim.
As to the crime committed, we find that treachery attended the commission of the offense, hence the crime is murder. For treachery to be present, two conditions must be shown: (1) the employment of means of execution that give the person attacked no opportunity to defend or retaliate; and (2) the deliberate or conscious adoption of the means of execution.In this case, appellant and another person held the hands of the victim to enable their companion to stab him while he was in a defenseless position. While abuse of superior strength was alleged in the Information, it is already absorbed in treachery and need not be appreciated separately. Evident premeditation was not proven by the prosecution.
PEOPLE v. RADEL GALLARDE
G.R. No. 133025. February 17, 2000
This is an appeal from the judgment of the RTC finding accused-appellant Radel (hereafter GALLARDE) guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua.
We sustain GALLARDE’s contention that the trial court erred in convicting him of murder in an information charging him of rape with homicide. A reading of the accusatory portion of the information shows that there was no allegation of any qualifying circumstance. Although it is true that the term “homicide” as used in special complex crime of rape with homicide is to be understood in its generic sense, and includes murder and slight physical injuries committed by reason or on the occasion of rape it is settled in this jurisdiction that where a complex crime is charged and the evidence fails to support the charge as to one of the component offense, the accused can be convicted of the other. In rape with homicide, in order to be convicted of murder in case the evidence fails to support the charge of rape, the qualifying circumstance must be sufficiently alleged and proved. Otherwise, it would be a denial of the right of the accused to be informed of the nature of the offense with which he is charged.
The rules on evidence and precedents sustain the conviction of an accused through circumstantial evidence, as long as the following requisites are present: (1) there must be more than one circumstance; (2) the inference must be based on proven facts; and (3) the combination of all circumstances produces a conviction beyond doubt of the guilt of the accused. The importance of circumstantial evidence is more apparent in the prosecution of cases of rape with homicide. It is well settled that the absence of spermatozoa in or around the vagina does not negate the commission of rape. Our doubt on the commission of rape is based on the fact that there is at all no convincing proof that the laceration of the vagina and the rupture of the hymen of EDITHA were caused in the course of coitus or by a male organ.
PEOPLE v. CHEN TIZ CHANG
G.R. Nos. 131872-73. February 17, 2000
Before the Court is an appeal by Chen Tiz Chang and Chen Jung San, also known as Willy Tan challenging the October 16, 1997 Decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City (Branch 95) in a Criminal Case finding them guilty of illegal possession and sale of shabu and sentencing each of them to two counts of reclusion perpetua.
In a prosecution for illegal possession of dangerous drugs, it must be shown that (1) the accused is in possession of an item or an object identified to be a prohibited or a regulated drug, (2) such possession is not authorized by law and (3) the accused freely and consciously possessed the said drug. Here, as in Boco, the prosecution witnesses were able to establish these elements.
We are not persuaded by the argument that the samples examined were not taken from the drugs seized. On the contrary, the testimonies of all the prosecution witnesses fairly established that the shabu taken from the appellants is the same substance examined by the forensic chemist and later presented as evidence in court. Verily, the presumption of regularity must prevail over appellants’ unfounded allegations and speculations. Appellants’ behavior during the entrapment showed that there was conspiracy between them and a third person who got away with the buy-bust money. It is an established rule that direct proof is not essential to establish conspiracy, as it may be inferred from the acts of the accused before, during and after the commission of the crime, all of which indubitably point to or indicate a joint purpose, a concert of action and a community of interest.
PEOPLE v. RAMIL DACIBAR
G.R. No. 111286. February 17, 2000
On appeal is the decision dated January 25, 1993 of the Regional Trial Court finding appellants guilty of the crime of murder, imposing upon them the amended penalty of reclusion perpetua with its accessory penalties, instead of life imprisonment.
While the principal witnesses for the prosecution did not actually see appellants shoot and kill the victim, direct proof of their culpability is not necessary when circumstantial evidence would suffice. The requisites thereof are: (1) there is more than one circumstance; (2) the facts from which the inferences are derived are proven; and (3) the combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.
We have held that conspiracy need not be established by direct evidence of acts charged, but may and generally must be proved by a number of indefinite acts, conditions and circumstances, which vary according to the purpose accomplished. Thus, the rule is that conspiracy must be shown to exist by direct or circumstantial evidence, as clearly and convincingly as the crime itself. In the absence of direct proof thereof, as in the present case, it may be deduced from the mode, method and manner by which the offense was perpetrated, or inferred from the acts of the accused themselves when such acts point to a joint purpose and design, concerted action and community of interest.
The trial court was correct in appreciating the aggravating circumstance of dwelling. Although the triggerman fired the shot from outside the house, his victim was inside. For the circumstance of dwelling to be considered, it is not necessary that the accused should have actually entered the dwelling of the victim to commit the offense; it is enough that the victim was attacked inside his own house, although the assailant may have devised means to perpetrate the assault from without.
PEOPLE v. RAUL ACOSTA
G.R. No. 126351. February 18, 2000
Accused was charged with arson. He interposes this appeal because he claims that the trial court erred in finding him guilty basing its conclusion merely on circumstantial evidence.
Arson is defined as the malicious destruction of property by fire. In this case, we find the trial court correctly held that the following circumstances taken together constitute an unbroken chain of events pointing to one fair and logical conclusion, that accused started the fire which gutted the house of private complainant. Although there is no direct evidence linking appellant to the arson, we agree with the trial court in holding him guilty thereof in the light of the following circumstances duly proved and on record.
In prosecutions for arson, proof of the crime charged is complete where the evidence establishes (1) the corpus delicti, that is, a fire because of criminal agency; and (2) the identity of the defendants as the one responsible for the crime.
PEOPLE v. BONIFACIO TOREJOS
G.R. No. 132217. February 18, 2000
Accused-appellant Bonifacio Torejos y Pañares @ Boning was convicted for raping a three-year-old child and was meted the supreme penalty of death.
Accused-appellant’s attempt to discredit ROSALIE is unconvincing. The assessment of credibility of witnesses is primarily the function of the trial court. It is well established in this jurisdiction that the findings of the trial court on the credibility of witnesses and their testimonies are accorded great respect unless the court a quo overlooked substantial facts and circumstances which, if considered, would materially affect the result of the case.
The information filed against TOREJOS specifically alleges that he raped MARY CRIS, a three-year-old child. We therefore affirm the judgment of the RTC imposing the death penalty for being in accordance with law. Four (4) members of the Court, although maintaining their adherence to the separate opinions expressed in People v. Echegaray that R.A. 7659 insofar as it prescribes the penalty of death is unconstitutional, nevertheless submit to the ruling of the majority that the law is constitutional and that the death penalty should accordingly be imposed.
PEOPLE v. LIBERATO MENDIONA
G.R. No. 129056. February 21, 2000
Before this Court for automatic review is the decision finding accused-appellant Liberato “Renato” Mendiona guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape and sentencing him to suffer the supreme penalty of death and to pay the complainant, Maricel Capongcol, the amount of fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) as moral damages.
Accordingly, the range of penalty imposable on appellant is composed of two indivisible penalties, i.e., reclusion perpetua to death. Following Article 63 (1)of the same Code, which provides the rules for the application of indivisible penalties, appellant was correctly meted the supreme penalty of death since the aggravating circumstances of dwelling and unlawful entry attended the commission of the rape. The attendance of these aggravating circumstances is not contested by the accused-appellant.
On a final note, we correct the trial court’s erroneous classification of the award of P50,000.00 as moral damages. In People v. Prades, we explained that “x x x the award authorized by criminal law as civil indemnity ex delicto for the offended party x x x is mandatory upon the finding of the fact of rape; it is distinct from and should not be denominated as moral damages which are based on different jural foundations and assessed by the court in the exercise of sound discretion.” Further, our more recent rulings hold that the indemnification for the victim shall be in the increased amount of P75,000.00 if the crime of rape is committed or effectively qualified by any of the circumstances under which the death penalty is authorized by law. Applying the foregoing rulings, the civil indemnity to be awarded to the complainant should be seventy five thousand pesos (P75,000.00).
PEOPLE v. RENATO DE GUZMAN
G.R. No. 118670. February 22, 2000
Renato de Guzman, Marciano Ramos, Frederick Mosqueda and Paquito Ancheta were charged with Robbery with Homicide and were found guilty. Only De Guzman, Ramos and Mosqueda were apprehended. Ancheta remains at-large. When they were arraigned, the three accused entered a plea of “not guilty.” At the trial and upon motion of the prosecution, Mosqueda was discharged and was utilized as state witness.
The requirements for the discharge and utilization of an accused as a state witness are enumerated in Rule 119, Section 9 of the Rules of Court, viz:
(a) There is absolute necessity for the testimony of the accused whose discharge is requested;
(b) There is no other direct evidence available for the proper prosecution of the offense committed, except the testimony of the accused;
(c) The testimony of the accused can be substantially corroborated in its material points;
(d) Said accused does not appear to be the most guilty; and
(e) Said accused has not at any time been convicted of any offense involving moral turpitude.
While this Court agrees that some of the requirements under Section 9 of Rule 119 for the discharge of Mosqueda to become state witness were not strictly and properly met, nonetheless, this Court does not subscribe to the suggestion of the defense that Mosqueda’s testimony should be disregarded. This issue has long been settled. Although the trial court may have erred in discharging the accused, such error would not affect the competency and the quality of the testimony of the defendant. The discharge of an accused under these circumstances is not reversible. Once his discharge is effected, the legal consequence of acquittal follows unless the accused so discharged fails or refuses to testify pursuant to his commitment. The order for his discharge may only be recalled in one instance, and that is when he subsequently fails to testify against his co-accused.
Criminal Law Digests
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