Criminal Law Digests – January 2000
People v. Vicente Valla
January 24, 2000
On appeal is the Quezon RTC’s decisions dated March 29, 1993 convicting Valla of the crime of rape with homicide. Pines, a twelve-year old girl, was passing by a ricefield near the road when she heard a voice coming from the direction of the forested area. They finally found Dyesebel. Her body was found near the river with her neck blackened and her vagina bloodied. Allarey and his companions immediately confronted appellant who, out of remorse, admitted that he raped and killed. The trial court found Valla guilty of the crime of “rape with homicide.” Hence, the present appeal.
More importantly, the declaration of appellant acknowledging his guilt of the offense may be given in evidence against him under Section 33 of Rule 130 of the Revised Rules of Court. Note that his extrajudicial confession is corroborated by the corpus delicti as required by Section 3 of Rule 133. The Rules do not require that all the elements of the crime must be clearly established by evidence independent of the confession. Corpus delicti only means that there should be some concrete evidence tending to show the commission of the crime apart from the confession.
The statement of the accused asking for forgiveness and even offering his own daughter in exchange for his crime may also be regarded as part of the res gestae under Section 42 of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court. Res gestae means “things done.” There are three requisites to admit evidence as part of the res gestae:
(1) that the principal act, the res gestae, be a startling occurrence, in this case the discovery of the body of the victim;
(2) the statements were made before the declarant had the time to contrive or devise a falsehood, in this case, appellant had begged for forgiveness immediately after the body was found; and
(3) that the statements must concern the occurrence in question and its immediate attending circumstances, in this case, appellant had admitted to raping and killing the victim, and even “offered” his daughter in exchange for the victim.
As to the crime committed, the trial court correctly convicted appellant of the special complex crime of “rape with homicide,” and not “rape with murder” as designated in the Information, since “homicide” is herein taken in its generic sense. The aggravating circumstance of ignominy under Article 14, No. 17 of the Revised Penal Code should be appreciated considering that the medico-legal officer testified that the pubic area of the victim bore blisters brought about by a contact with a lighted cigarette.
People v. Rudy Cortes
January 24, 2000
Before the Court for automatic review is the Decision of the Masbate RTC convicting the accused-appellant, Rudy Cortes y Caballero, of the crime of rape committed against Analiza Germina y Banculo, sentencing him to suffer the supreme penalty of death.
Time-honored is the rule that alibi is inherently weak and easily contrived. Accused-appellant must therefore prove with clear and convincing evidence that it was physically impossible for him to be at the place and approximate time of commission of the felony, which quantum of proof he failed to come forward with.
In a long line of rape cases, the Court has consistently held that lust is no respecter of time and place, and rape can be and has been committed in even the unlikeliest of places. Venues of rape have been inside a house where there were other occupants, in a room adjacent to where the victim’s family members were sleeping or even in a room which the victim shares with the sister of the offender. There is no rule that rape can be committed only in seclusion. Neither does the Court find convincing the claim of delay on the part of the victim in reporting the sexual assault against her. This Court has consistently held that delay in reporting rape incidents in the face of threats of physical violence, cannot be taken against the victim.
People v. Hon. Bonifacio Maceda
January 24, 2000
This case stems from denial by the SC of the People’s motion seeking reconsideration of our August 13, 1990 decision holding that respondent Judge Bonifacio Sanz Maceda committed no grave abuse of discretion in issuing the order of August 8, 1989 giving custody over private respondent Avelino T. Javellana to the Clerk of Court of the Antique RTC, Atty. Deogracias del Rosario, during the pendency of Criminal Cases Nos. 3350-3355. At that time, sufficient reason was shown why Javellana should not be detained at the Antique Provincial Jail. The trial court’s order specifically provided for private respondent’s detention at the residence of Atty. del Rosario. However, private respondent was not to be allowed liberty to roam around but was to be held as detention prisoner in said residence. It was howevere found that the order was not strictly complied with because Javellana was not detained in the residence of Atty. Del Rosario. He went about his normal activities as if he were a free man, including engaging in the practice of law.
Private respondent Javellana has been arrested based on the filing of criminal cases against him. By such arrest, he is deemed to be under the custody of the law. The trial court gave Atty. Deogracias del Rosario the custody of private respondent Javellana with the obligation “to hold and detain” him in Atty. del Rosario’s residence in his official capacity as the clerk of court of the regional trial court. Hence, when Atty. del Rosario was appointed judge, he ceased to be the personal custodian of accused Javellana and the succeeding clerk of court must be deemed the custodian under the same undertaking.
As a matter of law, when a person indicted for an offense is arrested, he is deemed placed under the custody of the law. He is placed in actual restraint of liberty in jail so that he may be bound to answer for the commission of the offense. He must be detained in jail during the pendency of the case against him, unless he is authorized by the court to be released on bail or on recognizance. Let it be stressed that all prisoners whether under preventive detention or serving final sentence can not practice their profession nor engage in any business or occupation, or hold office, elective or appointive, while in detention.
People v. Leon Lumilan
January 25, 2000
Accused-appellants Leon Lumilan and Antonio Garcia were found by the RTC of Ilagan, Isabela guilty beyond reasonable doubt of three (3) counts of murder, two (2) counts of frustrated murder, and three (3) counts of attempted murder, under an Information charging them and accused Fred Orbisowith the crime of Qualified Illegal Possession of Firearms Used in Murder, in violation of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1866.
Whether or not appellants may be properly convicted of murder, frustrated murder and attempted murder under an Information that charges them with qualified illegal possession of firearms used in murder in violation of Section 1 of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1866?
At the time the trial court promulgated its judgment of conviction in September 1990, it had already been six (6) months since We held in People v. Tac-an that the unlawful possession of an unlicensed firearm or ammunition, whether or not homicide or murder resulted from its use, on one hand, and murder or homicide, on the other, are offenses different and separate from and independent of, each other. While the former is punished under a special law, the latter is penalized under the Revised Penal Code. Consequently, the prosecution for one will not bar prosecution for the other, and double jeopardy will not lie.
Under Sec. 7 of Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of Court, double jeopardy lies when after the accused has pleaded to the first offense charged in a valid complaint or information and he is subsequently convicted or acquitted or the case against him is dismissed or otherwise terminated without his express consent by a court of competent jurisdiction, he is prosecuted for a second offense or any attempt to commit the same or frustration thereof or any other offense, which necessarily includes or is necessarily included in the offense charged in the former complaint or information. It cannot be said that murder or homicide necessarily includes or is necessarily included in qualified illegal possession of firearms used in murder or homicide. To state otherwise is to contradict Tac-an and its progeny of cases where We categorically ruled out the application of double jeopardy in the simultaneous prosecution for murder or homicide and qualified illegal possession of firearms used in murder or homicide against same accused involving the same fatal act.
Sec. 4, Rule 120 of the Revised Rules of Court provides that an accused may not be convicted of an offense other than that with which he is charged in the Information, unless such other offense was both established by evidence and is included in the offense charged in the Information. Since murder or homicide neither includes or is necessarily included in qualified illegal possession of firearms used in murder or homicide, the trial court may not validly convict an accused for the former crime under an Information charging the latter offense. Conversely, an accused charged in the Information with homicide or murder may not be convicted of qualified illegal possession of firearms used in murder or homicide, for the latter is not included in the former.
We observe that the Information charging appellants with Qualified Illegal Possession of Firearms Used in Murder, violates Sec. 1 of P.D. No. 1866, as amended by R.A. No. 8294, which obliterated the now obsolete concept of qualified illegal possession of firearms or illegal possession of firearms in its aggravated form, i.e., where the penalty for illegal possession is increased to reclusion perpetua or death by the attendance of homicide or murder. In fact, qualified illegal possession of firearms, which used to be a distinct offense, no longer exists in our statute books.
People v. Esteban Arlee
January 25, 2000
Complainant Analyn Villanueva and the accused “Boy Ising” were. Analyn, who merely finished grade two, was 26 years old but with a mental capacity of a eight-year old child.Boy Ising raped Analyn by poking a knife to her side. As months passed, Analyn’s belly started to swell and when asked about her bulging stomach, Analyn readily confessed to her mother that Boy Ising was responsible therefor. Analyn then narrated her horrific experience in the hands of accused-appellant. The trial court gave full faith and credit to the testimony of the victim, Analyn.
In this appeal, the accused contends that the subpoenas directing submission of counter-affidavits for purposes of preliminary investigation, were not received by him since the same were sent to his former residence at A. Del Rosario Street and not to Dalahican Street where he moved to. Accused-appellant therefore, maintains that he was deprived of his right to a preliminary investigation. In Mercado vs. Court of Appeals, this Court reiterated the rule that the New Rules on Criminal Procedure “does not require as condition sine qua non to the validity of the proceedings (in the preliminary investigation) the presence of the accused for as long as efforts to reach him were made, and an opportunity to controvert the evidence for the complainant is accorded him. The obvious purpose of the rule is to block attempts of unscrupulous respondents to thwart the prosecution of offenses by hiding themselves or by employing dilatory tactics.”
Being a mentally retarded woman, twenty-six years of age, Analyn is in the same class as a woman deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious when she was raped by accused-appellant. Proof of force and intimidation is not required if the victim is “deprived of reason” or suffering from mental abnormality or deficiency since the same deprives the victim of the natural instinct to resist a bestial assault on her chastity and womanhood. It is well-settled that sexual intercourse with a woman who is a mental retardate constitutes statutory rape.
Neither is the Court persuaded by accused-appellant’s submission that he cannot be required to acknowledge and support the child begotten by him with Analyn. In point is the following provision of the Revised Penal Code:
ART. 345. Civil liability of persons guilty of crimes against chastity. – Persons guilty of rape, seduction, or abduction, shall also be sentenced:
1. To indemnify the offended woman;
2. To acknowledge the offspring, unless the law should prevent him from so doing;
3. In every case to support the offspring. (Underscoring ours)
xxx xxx xxx
The aforecited provision of law is qualified by jurisprudence to the effect that “acknowledgment is disallowed if the offender is a married man, with only support for the offspring as part of the sentence.”However, as opined in People vs. Bayani, there is no more need for the prohibition against acknowledgment of the offspring by an offender who is married, because of the elimination by the Family Code of the distinctions among illegitimate children. No further positive act is required of the parent as the law itself provides the child’s status as illegitimate. Therefore, under Article 345 of the Revised Penal Code, the offender in a rape case who is married should only be sentenced to indemnify the victim and support the offspring, if there be any.
People v. Armando Gallardo
January 25, 2000
On July 28, 1991, Edmundo Orizal was found dead in the rest house of Ronnie Balao. The victim was found to have sustained seven (7) gunshot wounds in the chest, abdomen, back, left and right thighs, and two (2) grazing wounds on the left arm and back. The two suspects Armando Gallardo and Alfredo Columna were brought to the Tuguegarao Police Department. They were investigated by Police Investigator SPO4 Isidro Marcos, and they gave statements admitting that they, together with Jessie Micate, killed Edmundo Orizal. The trial court rendered decision finding accused Armando Gallardo y Gander and Alfredo Columna y Correa guilty beyond reasonable doubt of murder qualified by evident premeditation and aggravated by treachery and sentencing each of them to reclusion perpetua. Hence, this appeal.
Under rules laid by the Constitution, existing laws and jurisprudence, a confession to be admissible must satisfy all four fundamental requirements, namely: (1) the confession must be voluntary; (2) the confession must be made with the assistance of competent and independent counsel; (3) the confession must be express; and (4) the confession must be in writing. All these requirements were complied with. It would have been different if the accused were merely asked if they were waiving their Constitutional rights without any explanation from the assisting counsel.
People v. Jovito Barona
January 25, 2000
At about 8:30 o’clock in the evening on June 26, 1988, Eduardo Dimapilisan was requested by his sister to fetch her husband Celedonio Baron at the store of a certain. When he arrived at the store, Dimapilisan was told by Pinang that Celedonio was in the house of appellant Jovito. While waiting at the store, Dimapilisan saw Celedonio come out of the house of Jovito. He was able to clearly identify his brother-in-law because of the electric light from the store and the lamp in Jovito’s house. Shortly, he saw the four appellants follow Celedonio. While the latter was walking, Roberto held, choked and strangled him.
The stabbing and the shooting rendered the victim weak and defenseless. The collective action of the four appellants readily shows that there was a concurrence in their evil design in perpetrating the crime. Their superiority in number and the fact that they were armed with a bladed weapon and a gun shows that treachery was attendant in the commission of the crime. Evidently, there is notorious inequality of forces between the victim and the four accused-appellants. The excessive force was out of proportion to the means available to the person attacked. However, the circumstance of abuse of superior strength cannot be appreciated separately, it being necessarily absorbed treachery. Treachery requires the concurrence of two conditions, both of which are present in the case at bar:
1.) employment of means of execution that gives the person attacked no opportunity to defend himself, much less, to retaliate; and
2.) deliberate or conscious adoption of the means of execution.
Likewise established with certainty is that the appellants’ concerted actions were indicative of their conspiracy. No direct proof is necessary to show that conspiracy exists among the assailants. Community of criminal design may be inferred from the conduct of the accused before, during and after the commission of the crime.
People v. Cresenciano Enolva
January 25, 2000
At around seven o’clock in the evening of July 25, 1995, Rogelio Abunda and his three-year old daughter Julie were shot while they were sleeping on the floor of their house at Barangay Bagombong. Cresenciano “Sonny” Enolva y Alegre was charged in Criminal Case No. 95-6021 and Criminal Case No 95-6047, both for murder. The trial court convicted the accused thus this appeal.
It has been held that delay or vacillation in making a criminal accusation will not necessarily impair the credibility of the complaining witness if such delay is satisfactorily explained. The trial court found that the testimony of Pedro Abunda was rendered in a “very straight forward manner,” complete with details of the incidents that could not have been the product of coaching from anyone. The court a quo also found Lorlita credible. The court did not err in ruling that the alibi of the accused that he was drunk and asleep in his house at the time that the shooting occured will not lie against the positive identification of Lorlita and Pedro Abunda. It is doctrinal that the Supreme Court will not interfere with the judgment of the trial court in passing upon the credibility of witnesses unless there appears in the record some fact or circumstance of weight and substance which has been overlooked or the significance of which has been misinterpreted. We find no such basis.
People v. Alfonso Balgos
January 26, 2000
The accused-appellant denied raping Crisselle but claimed that he only inserted his left index finger into her vagina because he was sexually aroused at that time. The trial court convicted accused.
Whether or not the trial court erred in convicting the accused of rape and not just acts of lasciviousness?
The trial is court correct in imposing the supreme penalty of death on the accused-appellant. Under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code as amended by Section 11 of Republic Act No. 7659, Further amended by Republic Act No. 8353, otherwise known as “The Anti-Rape Law.” the penalty of death shall be imposed if the crime of rape is committed against a child below seven (7) years of age. In the present case, there is no dispute that the victim was six (6) years of age when the accused-appellant had carnal knowledge with her. The victim’s age was duly established by the prosecution, through the testimony of the victim’s mother, Criselda Fuentes, and further corroborated by Crisselle’s Certificate of Live Birth.
People v. Zoilo Borromeo
January 27, 2000
The RTC of Pasay City found the accused Zoilo A. Borromeo alias “Sonny” guilty of kidnapping a minor for ransom and sentenced him to death and to pay the offended parties moral damages of P250,000.00 and the costs of suit.
The essence of the crime of kidnapping is the actual deprivation of the victim’s liberty coupled with indubitable proof of intent of the accused to effect the same. And if the person detained is a child, the question that needs to be addressed is whether there is, evidence to show that in taking the child, there was deprivation of the child’s liberty and that it was the intention of the accused to deprive the mother of the child’s custody. We find abundant evidence of this fact in this case.
There is no question that the elements of kidnapping for ransom were sufficiently established: (a) the accused is a private individual; (b) the accused kidnapped or detained the victim and deprived him of his liberty; and, (c) the deprivation of the victim’s liberty was illegal. As provided for in Art. 267 of the Revised Penal Code as amended, the imposition of the death penalty is mandatory if the victim is a minor. In this case, the minority of Kenneth Hernandez was never disputed. Assuming arguendo that minority was not proved, still under the same provision of law, the imposition of the death penalty is obligatory if the kidnapping was committed for the purpose of extorting ransom from the victim or any other person. This was certainly so in this case.
People v. Tito Zuela
January 28, 2000
The case is an appeal of accused Maximo Velarde y de los Reyes, Nelson Garcia y Temporas and Tito Zuela y Morandarte from the decision of the RTC, Camarines Sur, Libmanan, Br. 24, finding them guilty beyond reasonable doubt of robbery with homicide.
Whether or not the extra-judicial confessions were executed in accordance with the provisions of the 1973 Constitution?
The right to counsel attaches the moment an investigating officer starts to ask questions to elicit information on the crime from the suspected offender.. In other words, “the moment there is a move or even 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.
There was no evidence that Maximo executed a waiver of his right to counsel. In light of these facts, we are constrained to rule that Maximo Velarde’s extra-judicial statement is inadmissible in evidence. An uncounselled extra-judicial confession without a valid waiver of the right to counsel – that is, in writing and in the presence of counsel – is inadmissible in evidence. Contrary to the ruling of the trial court, the defect in the confessions of Tito and Nelson was not cured by their signing the extra-judicial statements before Judge Bagalacsa.Nevertheless, the infirmity of accused-appellants’ sworn statements did not leave a void in the prosecution’s case. Accused-appellant Maximo repeated the contents of his sworn statement to Romualda Algarin who, in turn, related these in court. Such declaration to a private person is admissible in evidence against accused-appellant Maximo pursuant to Rule 130, Section 26 of the Rules of Court stating that the “act, declaration or omission of a party as to a relevant fact may be given in evidence against him.” The trial court, therefore, correctly gave evidentiary value to Romualda’s testimony.
And in the recent case of People vs. Andan, the Court reiterated the doctrine enunciated in the Maqueda case. In Andan, the Court said that “when the accused talked with the mayor as confidant and not as a law enforcement officer, his uncounselled confession did not violate his constitutional rights. Constitutional procedures on custodial investigation do not apply to a spontaneous statement, not elicited through questioning by the authorities, but given in an ordinary manner whereby appellant orally admitted having committed the crime.”
Treachery was not alleged in the information but the suddenness of the assault upon Hegino and Maria from behind was proven beyond reasonable doubt. As such, treachery may be appreciated as a generic aggravating circumstance. Treachery exists when an adult person illegally attacks a child of tender years and causes his death.
The crime committed is the special complex crime of robbery with homicide defined and penalized in Article 294 of the Revised Penal Code. The trial court correctly considered the crime as robbery with homicide and not “robbery with triple homicide” as charged in the information. The term “homicide” in Article 294(1) is used in its generic sense, embracing not only the act which results in death but also all other acts producing anything short of death. Neither is the nature of the offense altered by the number of killings in connection with the robbery. The multiplicity of victims slain on the occasion of the robbery is only appreciated as an aggravating circumstance. This would preclude an anomalous situation where, from the standpoint of the gravity of the offense, robbery with one killing would be treated in the same way that robbery with multiple killings would be.
People v. Domingo Brigildo
January 28, 2000
Appellant Domingo Brigildo was acquitted of the charge of attempted rape. But the trial court found him guilty of two counts of rape, for which he was twice sentenced to death. When arraigned, appellant Domingo Brigildo, assisted by counsel, pleaded not guilty to the charges. The lower court rendered its decision finding the accused Domingo Brigildo GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of RAPE (as) defined and penalized under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act 7659. Finding the victim Marites Belic to have been below eighteen (18) years of age at the time of the rape on March 30, 1994 and finding the offender to be the common-law spouse of Marites’ mother, this court imposes upon the same Domingo Brigildo the mandatory penalty of DEATH.
In reviewing rape cases, the Court has consistently observed the following long-standing guidelines:
(1) An accusation for rape can be made with facility. Such accusation is difficult to prove but even more difficult for the accused though innocent to disprove it;
(2) In view of the intrinsic nature of the crime of rape where only two (2) persons are involved, the testimony of the complainant must be scrutinized with extreme caution; and
(3) The evidence of the prosecution must stand and fall on its own merits and cannot be allowed to draw strength from the weakness of the evidence for the defense..
The testimony of the victim leaves us no doubt that her mother’s common-law husband had raped her. But even assuming for argument’s sake, that the alleged penile penetration of private complainant’s vagina had not been shown with indubitable proof, this Court has ruled consistently, that penetration is not an essential element of rape. The mere touching of the labia or pudendum by the phallus is already enough to consummate the crime of rape. Phallic intrusion necessarily entails contact with the labia and even the briefest contact under circumstances of force, intimidation, or unconsciousness, even without the rupture of the hymen is already rape.
In addition, the Court has repeatedly ruled that when a victim says she has been raped, she almost always says all that has to be said. So long as the victim’s testimony meets the test of credibility, the accused can be convicted on the sole basis thereof.
People v. Romenciano Ricafranca
January 28, 2000
The case is an appeal from a decision of the RTC of Pinamalayan finding the accused guilty of murder and guilty of illegal possession of firearms.
Whether or not the Court erred in disregarding the fact that the evidence of the prosecution did not overcome the time-honored presumption of innocence of the accused in criminal cases?
We advert to that all-too familiar rule that findings of fact of the trial court, especially its assessment on the credibility of witnesses, are not to be disturbed on appeal. The trial court is in a better position than the appellant court to properly evaluate testimonial evidence because of their unique opportunity to directly observe the witness’ demeanor, conduct, deportment and manner of testifying.
Conspiracy need not be proved by direct evidence, it may be inferred from the conduct of all the accused before, during and after the commission of the crime. It may be deduced from the mode and manner in which the offense was perpetrated or inferred from the acts of the accused evincing a joint or common purpose and design, concerted action and community of interest.
We disagree, however, with the trial court’s finding of cruelty. The test for determining the presence of cruelty is whether the accused deliberately and sadistically augmented the victim’s suffering. Consequently, there must be proof that the victim was made to agonize before he was killed.
People v. Jesus Tanail
January 28, 2000
Accused Jesus Tanail y Borbe has appealed from the decision of the Bulacan RTC finding him guilty beyond reasonable doubt of rape punished under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code. The court a quo rejected the accused’s defense of denial and alibi. It said that this could not prevail over the positive identification of the accused.
The court found no reason to disturb the findings of the trial court. Contrary to the contention of the accused-appellant that inconsistencies materially affected the credibility of the witnesses, we rather view the minor inconsistencies as indicative of truth. Marites testified with candor and in a straightforward manner. In between sobs and tears, she recounted how she had been sexually abused by the accused in a “dog-style manner.”
It is not uncommon for young girls to conceal for some time the assaults on their virtue because of the rapist’s threats on their lives. Delay in making a criminal accusation does not impair the credibility of a witness if such delay is satisfactorily explained. In any case, the failure of the victim to immediately report a rape is not an indication of a fabricated charge. The lapse of three (3) months prior to the criminal accusation for rape is not sufficient to show that the charge of rape is doubtful.
Criminal Law Digests
Ateneo Central Bar Operations 2001