Criminal Law Digests – July 2000
PEOPLE V. AGAPITO LISTERIO
G.R. NO. 122099
The accused was convicted of murder and frustrated murder committed with conspiracy. He assails the testimony of the witness as insufficient to convict him of her crime charged.
It is well settled that witnesses are to be weighed, not numbered, such that the testimony of a single, trustworthy and credible witness could be sufficient to convict an accused. The trial court found the witness’ testimony as candid and straightforward. Court defer to the lower court’s findings consistent with the principle that the trial judge is the best and the most competent person who can weigh and evaluate the testimony of witnesses.
Conspiracy was also proven. A conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it. To establish the existence of a conspiracy, direct proof is not essential since it may be shown by facts and circumstances from which may be logically inferred the existence of a common design among the accused to commit the offense charged, or it may be deduced from the mode and manner in which the offense was perpetrated. If there is a chain of circumstances to that effect, conspiracy can be established.
PEOPLE V. ELMER YPARRAGUIRE
G.R. NO. 124391
Accused was convicted of raping a mentally retarded girl. Appellant contends that the trial court never acquired jurisdiction over the case because the complainant was signed and filed by the chief of police and not by the complainant.
Pursuant to Section 5, Rule 110 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure, the offended party can initiate a prosecution for rape even if she is a minor, unless she is incompetent or incapable of doing so upon grounds other than her minority. Although the victim in this case is no longer a minor, it is undisputed that she is a mental retardate and suffering from physical deformity. No woman would come out in the open, inform the authorities of the injustice done to her, unless her purpose is to redress the wrong done against her honor. Once the violation of the law becomes known through a direct original participation initiated by the victim, the requirement of Art 344 of the RPC to the effect that the offense of rape shall not be prosecuted excerpt upon a complaint filed by the offended party or her parents are satisfied. Said provision is not determinative of the jurisdiction of courts over the private offenses because the same is governed by the Judiciary law, not the RPC. The complaint required in Art 344 is but a condition precedent to the exercise by the proper authorities of the power to prosecute the guilty parties. The complaint simply starts the prosecutory proceeding but does not confer jurisdiction on the court to try the case.
PEOPLE V. KENNETH CANEDO
G.R. NO. 128382
Accused was convicted of murder.
Accused acquitted on reasonable doubt. The records do not show how witness described appellant and which description enabled an anonymous person to point at appellant as the one who stabbed the victim. In the absence of these critical details of description, we cannot adjudge whether the appellant was correctly and properly identified. Further, the crime was committed when a dance was being held. The fight was a rumble, participated in by a lot of people. All theses circumstances should make the identification of appellant difficult and we should be extra careful in evaluating witness’ testimony. Positive identification of malefactors should not be disregarded just because the name of some of them were supplied to the eyewitness. But in such cases, the description of the criminal was detailed and fitted the accused. In the instant case, these reliable details which could provide a good index for identification are missing.
PEOPLE V. PETRONIL CASTILLO
G.R. NO. 130205
Accused was convicted of raping the 9 year old daughter of his live-in partner. He assails the credibility of testimony since there are inconsistencies with the executed affidavit.
Although there are omissions in the affidavit, such omissions did not diminish nor affect her credibility as a witness. Ex parte affidavits are generally considered incomplete and inaccurate and will thus not prevail over a witness statements on the stand.
PEOPLE V. ORLIE SULTAN
G.R. NO. 130594
Accused was convicted of carnapping with homicide. Appellant’s defense is alibi and denial. They also content that their identification in the police line up was a violation of their constitutional right and thus inadmissible.
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 easily be fabricated. Ergo, 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 crime and (b) that it would be physically impossible for him to have her at the scene of the crime. Since accused was unable to present witnesses to corroborate his testimony, his alibi cannot be appreciated.
In resolving the admissibility of and relying on out of court identification of suspects, courts have adopted the totality of circumstances test where they consider the following factors: (1) he witness’ opportunity to view the criminal at the time of the crime; (2) the witness degree of attention at that time; (3) the accuracy of any prior description given by the witness; (4) the level of certainty demonstrated by the witness at the identification; (5) the length of time between the crime and the identification and (6) the suggestiveness of the identification procedure. Applying this, there was no violation of constitutional right. The witnesses positively identified the 3 accused inside the jail. The 3 accused were in the company of other inmates. Thus, they were in a group.
PEOPLE V. ROBERT ARANETA
G.R. NO. 137604
The accused was convicted of the crime of murder. He anchors his defense on mistaken identity and denial and alibi.
The appellant’s claim that witness was mistaken in naming him as “Gilbert Araneta” and not “Robert Araneta” does not destroy her credibility and is not sufficient to exculpate him. For even assuming that the accused real name is Robert, it is sufficient that she was positive as to his physical identity as a participant in the shooting of her son from her personal knowledge for purposes of identifying him in the present case. Given the positive identification made by the lone prosecution witness, the appellant’s uncorroborated defense of denial and alibi must fail. However, treachery and evident premeditation were not established, therefore, the crime committed can only be homicide, not murder. Abuse of superiority was however established. Considering that the victim when assaulted was unarmed, he was therefore no match to his 3 adversaries who were all armed with handguns. Our jurisprudence is exemplified by the holding that where 3 armed persons attacked the defenseless victim but there was no proof as to how the attack commence and treachery was not proved, the fact that there were 3 armed assailants would constitute abuse of superior strength.
PEOPLE V. ROSENDO MENDEZ
G.R. NO. 132546
Accused was found guilty of raping his 16 year old step daughter. He assails the defective information.
The failure of the information to state that the accused raped the victim “through force or intimidation” is not a fatal omission in this case because the complaint alleged the ultimate fact that the accused raped the victim “by means of force”. So at the outset, the appellant could have readily ascertained that he was being accused of rape committed through force, a charge that sufficiently complies with Art 335. However, since the information alleges that the victim was his daughter, when in truth the actual relationship of the appellant with the victim is that of stepfather and stepdaughter, the appellant can be held liable only for simple rape.
PEOPLE V. BERNARDINO CARANGUIAN
G.R. NO. 124514
Accused was convicted of murder. He assails credibility of witness and interposed alibi as defense.
The prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that it was appellant who perpetrated the killing. The information given by the witnesses at the identity of appellant is hearsay. The hearsay rule bars the testimony of a witness who merely recites what someone else has told him, whether orally or in writing. Section 36 of Rule 130 provides that a witness can testify only to those facts which he knows of his personal knowledge that is, which are derived from his own perception, except as otherwise provided in the rules. In fact, the witness’ testimony is even double or multiple hearsay since it is based upon “third hand” information related to the witness by someone who heard it from others. Multiple hearsay is no more competent than single hearsay.
PEOPLE V. FERNANDO DIASANTA
G.R. NO. 128108
Accused was convicted of the crime of rape committed against his 12 year old daughter. He interposed alibi ad defense.
Established is the rule that testimonies of rape victims especially of child victims are given full weight and credit. Well settled is the rule that when a woman, more so if she is a minor, says that she has been rapes, she says in effect all that is necessary to prove that rape was committed. Considering the categorical and unequivocal testimonies of the victim and an eyewitness, appellant’s alibi and self-serving denial cannot prosper.
PEOPLE V. RAELITO LIBRANDO
G.R. NO. 132251
The accused were convicted of murder. Appellants point out that they have no reason to assault the deceased since they had never any quarrel with the victim. They also assail the credibility of the child witness.
While it is true that they have no motive to assault the deceased, nevertheless, it is hornbook knowledge that crimes have been attributed to persons who appear to have no reasons for committing them as long as they have been clearly identified as the offenders. Motive gains importance only when the identity of the culprit is suspect. It is also well-established that any child regardless of age can be competent witness if he can perceive and can make known his perceptions to others and that he is capable of relating truthfully facts for which he is examined. The child’s competence as a witness are: (a) capacity of observation; (b) capacity of recollection; (c) capacity of communication. The child’s lone testimony is sufficient to sustain a conviction.
PEOPLE V. ROBERT FIGUEROA
G.R. NO. 134056
Accused was convicted of violating Sec 14-A of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 972 – Unauthorized manufacture of regulated drugs. He contends that since his alleged co-conspirator was acquitted due to insufficiency of evidence to prove that she conspired with him, he should likewise be acquitted.
Once a conspiracy is established, the act of one is the act of all, and each of the conspirators is liable for the crimes committed by the other conspirators. It follows then that if the prosecution fails to prove conspiracy, the alleged conspirators should be held individually responsible for their own respective acts. Accordingly, appellant’s criminal liability in this case must be judged on the basis of his own acts as established by the quantum of proof required in criminal cases.
PEOPLE V. EVANGELINE ORDONO
G.R. NO. 129593 143533-35
Accused was convicted of 2 counts of illegal recruitment and 2 counts of estafa.
To be convicted for illegal recruitment, 2 elements must concur: (1) the offender has no valid license or authority required by law to enable one to lawfully engage in recruitment and placement of workers; and (2) he undertakes either any activity within the meaning of “recruitment and placement”. The 2 elements were proven. The testimonies of complainant corroborated each other and were buttressed by other prosecution witnesses.
The elements of estafa are: (1) the accused defrauded another by abuse of confidence or by means of deceit; and (2) damage or prejudice capable of pecuniary estimation is caused by offended party. These were also established in the case.
PEOPLE V. MEYNARD PANGANIBAN
G.R. NO. 133028
Accused was convicted of estafa. Appellant contends that his conviction should be reversed because the element of fraud or deceit was not proven. He insists that the “stop payment” order was made in good faith and was not meant to evade payment of the debt.
Despite his denials during testimony, it is obvious that appellant was aware at the time he made the postdated checks for several creditors that he would have several debts maturing at the same time, of which are recoverable from the same bank account. Then knowing that the balance is not sufficient to cover complainant’s check, he immediately ordered the drawee bank to stop its payment. These circumstances, taken together, indicate appellant’s intent to deceive and defraud at the time he issued the check. The indeterminate sentence law must also be applied.
PEOPLE V. LEONCIO ALIVIANO
G.R. NO. 133985
Accused was convicted of raping a 7 year old girl. He interposed denial and assails the admissibility of the medical certificate since the doctor who prepared it was not presented.
Concededly, the subject medical certificate cannot be given any probative value. It is settled that since a medical certificate involves an opinion of one who must first be established as an expert witness, it could not be given weight nor credit unless the doctor who issued it be presented in court to show his qualifications. In any case, medical certificate is not indispensable to prove the commission of rape. It is merely a corroborative evidence. The lone testimony of the complainant which is credible and free from serious and material contradictions is sufficient to warrant the conviction of appellant.
PEOPLE V. LUDIGARIO CANDELARIO
G.R. NO. 125550
Accused was convicted of the crime of robbery with multiple rape. One of the accused is a youth offender and was thus placed under the custody of DSWD, Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth. DSWD recommended that the case of the accused be dismissed and his custody be transferred to his father after taking into account the minor’s performance in the rehabilitation center.
The Final Report and Recommendation of the DSWD should be referred to the RTC for its appropriate action and disposition. Where the DSWD recommends the discharge of a youthful offender, it is the trial court before whom the report and recommendation is subject to judicial review. Recommendation alone is not sufficient to warrant the release of a youthful offender. The youthful offender however is not to be tries anew by the trial court. The inquiry is not a criminal prosecution but is rather limited to the determination of the offender’s proper education and his moral and social fitness to re-join the community.
PEOPLE V. FEDERICO ULGASAN
G.R. NO. 131824-26
Accused was convicted of 3 counts of rape committed against an 11 year old girl. Accused interposed denial and alibi. He assails the credibility of witness.
A witness who testified in a categorical, straightforward, spontaneous and frank manner and remained consistent on cross-examination is a credible witness. When the accused was positively identified by the victim who harbored no ill motive against the accused, the defense of alibi must fail. For the defense of alibi to prosper, it is essential that he can show physical impossibility for him to be at the locus criminis. In the case at bar, it is possible for appellant to be present at the scene of the crime.
PEOPLE V. ROLDAN BOHOL
G.R. NO. 130587
Accused was convicted of kidnapping with murder. He interposed alibi as defense.
For alibi to be tenable, accused must establish by clear and convincing evidence that he was somewhere else when the crime was committed and that it was physically impossible for him to be at the crime scene at the time of the commission of the crime. Here, the alleged place where the accused was at the time of the crime was only 40 meters from the place where the victim was shot. It was not physically impossible for him to be at the scene of the crime at the time of the shooting.
PEOPLE V. MARCOS MUCAM
G.R. NO. 137276
Accused was convicted of robbery with homicide. He questions sufficiency of evidence to warrant conviction.
As a rule, the trial court’s assessment of the credibility of witnesses and their testimonies is binding on appellate courts, absent any fact or circumstance of weight and substance that may have been overlooked, misapprehended or misapplied. In this case, the court a quo committed serious lapses which warrant the acquittal of the appellant.
PEOPLE V. ERNESTO DELA CRUZ
G.R. NO. 118967
Accused was convicted of murder. Defense interposed denial and alibi. He questions credibility of sole witness and testimonies being insufficient to sustain conviction. He points inconsistencies between the witness’ testimony and her declarations during preliminary investigation.
The testimony of a sole witness, if found convincing and credible by the trial court is sufficient to support a finding of guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Declarations at the preliminary investigation which are conducted to determine the existence of a probable cause and to secure the innocent against hasty, malicious and oppressive prosecution, should not be equated with testimonies before the court. While transcripts of a preliminary investigation may form part of the records of the case, testimony taken at the trial on the merits of the case where the adverse party has the full opportunity to cross-examine the witness and to ferret out the truth, deserves more credence. Similarly, sworn statements that are taken ex-parte are generally incomplete and therefore, discrepancies between statements made on the witness stand and those in an affidavits are generally subordinated in importance in open court declarations because they are often times not in such a state as to afford him a fair opportunity of narrating in full the incident which transpired.
PEOPLE V. ALBERTO ANTONIO
G.R. NO. 128900
Accused was convicted of murder. He questions credibility of witness because the latter’s first statement differed with his succeeding statements and his testimony in open court.
Affidavits or statements taken ex-parte are generally considered incomplete and inaccurate. Thus, by nature, they are inferior to testimony given in court and whenever there is inconsistency between the affidavit and the testimony of a witness in court, the testimony commands greater weight. Moreover, inconsistencies between the declaration of the affiant in his sworn statements and those in open court do not necessarily discredit said witness. Previous statements cannot serve as bases for impeaching the credibility of a witness unless his attention was first directed to the discrepancies and he was then given an opportunity to explain them. It is only when no reasonable explanation is given by a witness in reconciling his conflicting declarations that he should be deemed impeached.
Further, in an appeal, where the culpability or innocence of an accused would hinge on the issue of credibility of witnesses and the veracity of their testimonies, findings of trial court are entitled to and given the highest degree of respect. There was no treachery. It is not only the sudden attack that qualifies a killing into murder. There must be a conscious and deliberate adoption of the mode of attack for a specific purpose. All the evidence shows was that the incident was an impulse killing. It was a spur of the moment crime. A sudden and unexpected attack would not constitute alevosia where the aggressor did not consciously adopt a mode of attack intended to penetrate the homicide without risk to himself.
PEOPLE V. ROLANDO BAYBADO
G.R. NO. 132136
Accused was convicted for raping his own daughter. He interposed alibi as defense,. Information however failed to allege the minority of the complainant.
For evidence to be believed, it must not only proceed from the mouth of a credible witness but must be credible in itself such as the common experience and observation of mankind can approve as probable under the circumstances. The test to determine the value of the testimony of a witness is whether such is in conformity with knowledge and consistent with the experience of mankind. Whatever is repugnant to these standards becomes incredible that lies outside pf judicial cognizance. In this case, the testimony of appellant barely meets the minimum standard of credibility. Accused however is guilty only of simple rape as there was no allegation as to the minority of the complainant.
PEOPLE V. VALENTIN MATIBAG
G.R. NO. 110515
Accused was convicted of murder. Statements from 2 witnesses were taken. However, only 1witnes was presented.
Their extrajudicial statement of the witness who was not placed in the witness stand should not be considered because it deprived the defense of its right to cross-examination. The veracity of her statements, not having been ascertained, should not have been given any probative value at all. Be that as it may, her testimony is merely corroborative and its exclusion will not affect the finding of guilt of the accused.
PEOPLE V. BERNARDO DAROY
G.R. NO. 118942
The accused was convicted of murder. Defense questions the credibility of witnesses.
Well-entrenched is the tenet that this Court will not interfere with the trial court’s assessment of the credibility of the witnesses absent any indication or showing that the trial court has overlooked some material facts or gravely abused its discretion. The matter of assigning values to declarations at the witness stand is best and most competently performed or carried out by a trial judge, who, unlike appellate magistrate, can weigh such testimony in light of the accused’s behavior, demeanor, conduct and attitude at the trial.
PEOPLE V. ANICETA AQUINO
G.R. NO. 130742
Accused was convicted of estafa. Trial court found conspiracy on the acts of the accused appellant of facilitating and initiating the meeting between the other 2 accused and the complainant and in convincing the latter to sell rice to the former and following it up till the delivery of the same.
Court is not convinced that conspiracy to defraud complainant was proven. A conspiracy exists when 2 or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it. It is the unity of purpose and intention in the commission of a crime. To establish conspiracy, there must be proof that 2 or more persons agreed to commit the crime. However, mere knowledge, acquiescence or agreement to cooperate is not enough to constitute one as a conspirator, absent any active participation in the commission of the crime, with a view to the furtherance of the common design and purpose. And to be he basis of conviction, conspiracy must be proven in the same manner as any element of the criminal ct itself. The same degree of proof required to establish the crime is necessary to support a finding of the presence of conspiracy, that is, it must be shown to exist s clearly and convincingly as the commission of the offense itself.
PEOPLE V. BETH BANZALES
G.R. NO. 132289
Accused was found guilty of illegal recruitment in large scale. Defense challenges the sufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence.
Despite non presentation of POEA officer to testify, the POEA certification will suffice to prove that she has no permit to engage in the business. POEA certification is a pubic document issued by a public officer in the performance of an official duty, hence, it is a prima facie evidence of the facts therein stated. Public documents are entitled to presumption of regularity, consequently, the burden of proof rests upon him who alleges the contrary.
PEOPLE V. ANTHONY MELCHOR PALMONES
G.R. NO. 136303
The accused were convicted of murder. Defense interposed alibi as defense. The conviction of the 2 accused was based largely on the alleged dying declaration of the victim made to 2 witnesses of the prosecution and the apparent weakness of their defense.
Dying declaration is one of the exceptions to the rule of inadmissibility of hearsay evidence. The requirement are: (1) it must concern the crime and the surrounding circumstances of the declarant’s death; (2) at the time it was made, the declarant was under a consciousness of impending death; (3) the declarant was competent as a witness; (4) the declaration was offered in a criminal case for murder, homicide or parricide where the declarant was the victim. In the instant case, it was not established by the prosecution that the statements of the declarant were made under the consciousness of impending death. No proof to this effect was ever presented by the prosecution.
Neither may the alleged statements be admissible as part of the res gestae. Res gestae refers to those exclamations and statements made by either the participants, victims, or spectators to a crime immediately before, during, or after the commission of a crime when the circumstances are such that the statements were made as a spontaneous reaction or utterance inspired by the excitement of the occasion ands there was no opportunity for the declarant to deliberate and to fabricate a false statement. In order to admit the statements as evidence part of res gestae, the element of spontaneity is critical.
PEOPLE V. ROLANDO CARDEL
G.R. NO. 105582
The accused were convicted of murder. They boxed and stabbed a snatcher who was caught while running with the loot. Conspiracy, treachery and abuse of superior strength were found by the trial court. Defense interposed alibi.
The defense of alibi cannot prevail over the positive identification of the appellants by the prosecution witnesses. Conspiracy was not proven. The existence of conspiracy is never presumed. It is axiomatic that the prosecution must establish conspiracy beyond reasonable doubt. Hence, appellant will be separately adjudged according to the extent of their individual participation in the commission of the crime charged in the information.
Treachery was also not present. The fact that the victim had a stab wound at the back is not, in itself, indicative of treachery. Where treachery is alleged, the manner of attack must be proven. It cannot be presumed or concluded merely on the basis of the resulting crime. Also, the appellant does not appear to have consciously adopted the mode of attack to facilitate the killing of the victim without risk to himself. The stabbing was the result of a rash and impetuous impulse of the moment, rather than from a deliberate act of will, thus negating the existence of treachery.
Abuse of superior strength may not be appreciated to qualify the killing to the crime of murder for the reason that the same is not alleged in the information. It has been the rule that qualifying circumstances must be properly pleaded in the indictment.
PEOPLE V. ARIEL PEDROSO
G.R. NO. 125128
The accused was convicted of robbery with homicide. He was sentenced by the trial court to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua to death.
Under Art. 63 of the Revised Penal Code, if an accused is found guilty of a felony for which the law prescribes a penalty composed of 2 indivisible penalties, the trial court judge has to impose one or the other, not both. Since no aggravating circumstance was alleged in the information and since neither was any mitigating circumstance established by the defense, the lesser penalty of Reclusion Perpetua should be imposed.
PEOPLE V. DOMINADOR GUILLERMO
G.R. NO. 111292
The accused were convicted of murder. Defense interposed alibi.
Prosecution witness’ inconsistencies are more than enough to engender some doubt as to the guilt of the appellants. The “onus probandi” in establishing the guilt of an accused for a criminal offense lies with the prosecution. The burden must be discharged by it on the strength of its own evidence and not on the weakness of the evidence for the defense or the lack of it. Proof beyond reasonable doubt, or that quantum of proof sufficient to produce a moral certainty that would convince and satisfy the conscience of those who are to act in judgment, is indispensable to overcome the constitutional presumption of innocence. The overriding consideration is not whether the court doubts the innocence of the accused but whether it entertains a reasonable doubt as to his guilt.
PEOPLE V. LIBERATO GIGANTO, SR.
G.R. NO. 123077
The accused were convicted of murder. The defense interposed alibi. Conviction was rendered based on the testimony of he eyewitness.
Trial court relied on the weakness of the defense rather than on the strength of the prosecution evidence, by emphasizing that alibi is a weak defense. It is settled that where the evidence of the prosecution is itself feeble, particularly as to the identity of the accused as the author of the crime, the defense of alibi assumes importance and acquires commensurate strength. The rule that alibi must be satisfactorily proven was never intended to change the burden of proof in criminal cases, otherwise, the accused would be put in the difficult position of proving his innocence even where the prosecution’s evidence is vague and weak. The prosecution cannot profit from the weakness of the appellant’s alibi. It must rely on the strength of its evidence and establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.
PEOPLE V. ERNST GEORG HOLZER
G.R. NO. 132323
The accused were convicted of estafa. Appellants contend that their liability is only civil and not criminal since the check was issued only to secure the loan they obtained from complainant and that there was no deceit on their part because they duly informed the complainant that the check was not yet funded.
The elements of estafa involved in this case are: (1) the offender has postdated or issued a check in payment of an obligation contracted at the time of the postdating or issuance; (2) at the time of postdating or issuance of said check, the offender has no funds in the bank or the funds deposited were not sufficient to cover the amount of the check; (3) the payee has been defrauded. The drawer of the dishonored check is given 3 days from receipt of the notice of dishonor to deposit the amount necessary to cover the check. Otherwise, a prima facie presumption of deceit will arise which must then be overcome by the accused. In this case, no evidence of deceit accompanied the issuance of the check. The prosecution presented evidence to show that a notice of dishonor had been sent to appellant. The complainant actually knew at the time of the issuance of the check that it was not funded and that the money to cover it was still to come from Switzerland.
PEOPLE V. JIMMY ANTONIO
G.R. NO. 128149
The accused was found guilty of 3 counts of rape. Appellants make issue of the trial; court’s reliance on the victim’s testimony.
Credible, natural and convincing testimony of the victim is sufficient basis to convict. The inconsistencies pointed out cannot overthrow the trial court’s conviction. For a discrepancy in testimony to acquit, such must refer to significant facts crucial to the guilt or innocence of the accused. Inconsistencies irrelevant to the elements of the crime are not grounds to reverse the conviction. Further, appellants were at large for 5 years. Flight indicates guilt. Accused’s acts of not confronting their accuser goes against the principle that the first impulse of an innocent man when accused with wrong doing is to express his innocence at the first opportune time.
PEOPLE V. ALEJANDRO SURILLA
G.R. NO. 129164
The accused was found guilty of the crime of rape committed against his 14 year old daughter.
There are 3 guiding principles in rape cases: (1) an accusation for rape can be made with facility; it is difficult to prove but more difficult for the person accused, though innocent to disprove; (2) in view of the intrinsic nature of the crime of rape where only 2 persons are usually involved, the testimony of the complainant must be scrutinized with extreme caution; and (3) 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. Here, the trial court’s finding as to the credibility of the complainant’s testimony deserve respect. Further, the accused escaped from jail and was only recaptured. Flight is an implied admission of guilt and his desire to evade responsibility therefore. Death penalty however cannot be imposed because relationship of complainant with the accused was not alleged in the information.
PEOPLE V. SALVACION CAPARAS
G.R. NO. 133568
Accused was found guilty of violating the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1072. Appellant questions judgment of conviction because there was no showing that a sale of prohibited drug took place. She argues that the prosecution has failed to establish that money or specifically “marked money” was paid or exchanged hands between her and the supposed poseur-buyer. She theorizes that in a contract of sale, the payment of the contract price is essential to consummate the transaction. Considering that there was no payment made, the contract of sale was not consummated and inevitably, the accused cannot be convicted for the illegal sale of prohibited drug.
Under Sec 4, the act of selling or acting as broker in a sale of marijuana and other prohibited drugs consummates the crime. It punishes the mere act of delivery of prohibited drugs after the offer to buy by the entrapping officer has been accepted by the seller. The absence of the marked money does not create a hiatus in the evidence for the prosecution as long as the sale of the dangerous drugs is adequately proven and the drug subject of the transaction is presented before the court. In every prosecution for the illegal sale of dangerous drugs, what is material and indispensable is the submission of proof that the sale of illicit drug took place between the seller and the poseur-buyer.
PEOPLE V. ROLAND MOLINA
G.R. NO. 134777-78
Accused was found guilty of murder and frustrated murder. Accused denied commission of the crime and imputed the same to another person.
As weighed against the positive identification of accused by one of his victims, which was further corroborated by an eyewitness to the scene, and the absence of any showing of ill-motive on their part other than their quest for justice, appellant’s denial of the commission of the crime and imputation of the same to another person is demolished to obscurity. Besides, the imputation of the crime to another malefactor was heard of only during his testimony, and was never raised before the police authorities during the investigation. Clearly, his bare denial amounts to nothing more than negative and self-serving evidence undeserving of weight in law. As to the amount of damages, prevailing jurisprudence sets the civil indemnity for death in the amount of P50,000, which can be awarded without need of further proof other than the death of the victim. With respect to actual damages, the court can only grant such amount for expenses if they are supported by receipts. Moral damages may be recovered in criminal offenses resulting in physical injuries but there must be a factual basis for the award. As to exemplary damages, there being one aggravating circumstance, exemplary damages in the amount of P30,000 may be awarded in both murder and frustrated murder case pursuant to Art 2230 of the New Civil Code.
PEOPLE V. FEDERICO CAMPANER
G.R. NO. 130500 & 143834
The accused was found guilty of 2 counts of rape against his 15 year old daughter of his common law spouse.
In evaluating the credibility of rape victims, the court has repeatedly held that it is not unnatural for inconsistencies to creep into the testimony of a rape victim, especially one who is of tender age, as the witness is narrating the details of a harrowing experience. So long as the testimony is consistent on material points, slightly conflicting statements will not undermine the witness’ credibility nor the veracity of her testimony. On the contrary, these mistakes in fact strengthen, rather than weaken, the complainant’s credibility as they erase suspicion that the testimony is rehearsed. However, death cannot be imposed since the relationship of the complainant with the accused was not alleged in the information.
PEOPLE V. MARCELINO SAN JUAN
G.R. NO. 112449-50
Accused was convicted of (1) robbery with rape and (2) highway robbery. He contends that since he did not flee from his residence, he should be exonerated.
It is true that the flight of an accused is competent evidence against him tending to establish his guilt. However, no law nor jurisprudence holds that non-flight per se is conclusive proof of his innocence. Further, for alibi to be validly invoked, the accused must not only prove that he was somewhere else when the crime was committed but must also establish that it was physically impossible for him to be at the locus criminis at the time of the commission of the crime.
PEOPLE V. RICARDO TORTOSA
Accused was convicted of murder. He questions the credibility of witnesses.
The trial court did not err in giving full faith and credit to the testimonies of the prosecution witness. The record is bereft of any evidence to show that the witnesses had improper motive to testify falsely against appellant and the rule is well settled that absent evidence showing any reason or motive for a prosecution witness to perjure, the logical conclusion is that no such improper motive exists, and that the testimony is worthy of full faith and credit.
PEOPLE V. JAIME BALACANO
G.R. NO. 127156
Accused was found guilty of the crime of rape committed against his 14 year old step daughter. He contends that there is reasonable doubt as to his guilt to warrant his acquittal.
“Reasonable doubt” is not a mere guess that the appellant may or may not be guilty. It is such a doubt that a reasonable man may entertain after a fair review and consideration of the evidence. It is a state of mind engendered by insufficient proof. But, time and again, the Court has ruled that the lone testimony of the victim may suffice to convict the rapist. When a victim says she has been raped, she says in effect all that is necessary to show that rape has been committed and if her testimony meets the test of credibility, the accused may be convicted on the basis thereof. Further, absence of threats does not negate the charge of rape. Although it is true that there were no physical injuries found in the victim’s body, in rape cases, absence of bodily threats does not matter where there is an existing relationship between the appellant and the victim, resulting to moral ascendancy of the former over the latter.
PEOPLE V. RAMIL SAMOLDE
G.R. NO. 128551
Accused was convicted of murder. Accused executed an extrajudicial confession. He also admitted in open court to the commission of the crime.
Extrajudicial confession of accused is not admissible in evidence. He was not informed of his constitutional right before his statements were taken. However, his open court testimony is enough to convict him. His subsequent allegation that he was given money to accept culpability deserves scant consideration. Judicial confession constitutes evidence of a high order. The presumption is that no sane person would deliberately confess to the commission of a crime unless prompted to do so by truth and conscience. Further, accused went into hiding. Flight has been held to be an indication of guilt.
PEOPLE V. ERIC BAID
G.R. NO. 129667
Accused was convicted of rape committed against a mental patient. He contends that as complainant is schizophrenic, her testimony should not have been given credence by the trial court. Further, he contends that victim consented with the sex.
Notwithstanding her mental illness, complainant showed that she was qualified to be a witness. She could perceive and was capable of making known her perceptions to others. Her testimony indicates that she could understand questions particularly relating to the incident and could give her responsive answers to them. Although complainant herself admitted that she agreed to have sex with him after he gave her a stick of cigarette, it should be stressed that complainant was in no position to give her consent. Accused is to be convicted under Art 335 par 2, rape of a woman deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious. The phrase “deprived of reason” has been construed to include those suffering from mental abnormality or deficiency or some other form of mental retardation, those who are feebleminded although coherent.
PEOPLE V. ANTONIO DE LA TONGGA
G.R. NO. 133246
Accused was convicted of murder. Defense argues that prosecution failed to establish the identity of the assailant.
The finding of the trial court as to the credibility of the witnesses deserves respect. Further, the defense of alibi is so weak. In order to prosper, it must be so convincing as to preclude any doubt that the accused could not have been physically present at the place of the crime or its vicinity at the time of the commission of the crime. Further, treachery was properly appreciated. The fact that the victim had been forewarned by somebody against possible attack does not negate the presence of treachery. What is important is that the victim was attacked even before he and his companions could get out of the tricycle. The mode of attack ensured the commission of the crime without risk to the accused.
PEOPLE V. OSCAR MANSUETO
G.R. NO. 135196
The accused was convicted of murder. Defense interposed denial and alibi.
Alibi is an inherently weak defense, easy to fabricate and highly unreliable. For said defense to prosper, he accused must not only prove that he was at some other place at the time the crime was committed but that it was physically impossible for him to be at the locus criminis at the time of the alleged crime. However, this was not shown here.
Criminal Law Digests
Ateneo Central Bar Operations 2001