Criminal Law Digests – September 2000
PEOPLE V. ALBERTO DANO
G.R. NO. 117690
Acused was convicted of murder. An extrajudicial confession was made. Defense interposed self-defense.
Extrajudicial statement is inadmissible because of violation of constitutional rights during custodial investigation. A suspect’s confession, whether verbal or non-verbal, when taken without the assistance of counsel without a valid waver of such assistance regardless of the absence of coercion, or the fact that it had been voluntarily given, is inadmissible in evidence, even if appellant’s confession were gospel truth. However, his statements made to the barangay captain, who is neither police officer nor a law enforcement agent is admissible. When an accused invokes self-defense, the onus probandi to show that the killing was justified shifts to him. Even if the prosecution’s evidence was weak, it could not be readily dismissed after the accused had openly admitted his responsibility for the killing.
PEOPLE V. PAUL LAPIZ
G.R. NO. 129239
Accused was convicted of rape. He questions the credibility of the testimony of the complainant.
There are 3 guiding principles in the review of rape cases: (1) to accuse a man of rape is easy, but to disprove it is difficult though the accused may be innocent; (2) considering that in the nature of things, only 2 persons are usually involved in the crime of rape, the testimony of the complainant should be scrutinized with great caution; and (3) evidence for the prosecution must stand or fall on its own merits and should not be allowed to draw strength from the weakness of the evidence for the defense. Equally unquestionable is the principle that as long as the complainant’s testimony meets the test of credibility, the accused may be convicted on its basis.
PEOPLE V. ARMANDO JUAREZ
G.R. NO. 128158
The accused were found guilty of rape. Defense put up denial and alibi.
Alibi is a weak defense which becomes even weaker in the face of the positive identification of appellants by the prosecution witness. Denial and alibi unsubstantiated by clear and convincing evidence are negative and self-serving evidence bearing no real weight in law and jurisprudence. Moreover, alibi might be aptly considered only when an accused had been shown to be in some other place at the crucial time and that it would have been physically impossible form him to be at the locus criminis or its immediate vicinity at the time of the commission of the crime. The presence of the appellants at the crime scene immediately after the victim was raped indicates strongly that they were the culprits. Also, there is nothing to show that the victim was moved by any ill motive to testify falsely against the accused. She did not know them before the fateful evening. Her honest and straightforward testimony deserves full faith and credence.
PEOPLE V. ROBERTO BANIGUID
G.R. NO. 137714
Accused was found guilty of raping his minor daughter. He questions credibility of complainant.
There are 3 guiding principles in reviewing rape cases: (1) 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; (2) in view of the intrinsic nature of the crime of rape where only 2 persons are usually involved, the testimony of the complainant is scrutinized with extreme caution; and (3) the evidence for the prosecution stands or falls on its own merits and cannot be allowed to draw strength from the weakness of the defense. Even if the complainant is less than chaste, this fact would not detract from the fact that appellant violated her. As long as the victim’s testimony measures up to the standard of credibility, the fact that she had sexual relations with other men would not destroy or affect her credibility. The moral character of the victim is immaterial in rape cases. For even a prostitute can be the victim of rape.
PEOPLE V. JIMMY DAGAMI
G.R. NO. 123111
Accused was found guilty of murder. In his defense, he denied responsibility and pointed to a certain person as the real culprit. One eyewitness was presented by prosecution.
The testimony of a single witness, if credible and positive, is sufficient to produce a conviction. Appellants likewise failed to show any ill-motive on the part of the witness. There is no showing of improper motive, the presumption is that they were not so actuated and their testimonies are entitled to full faith and credit.
PEOPLE V. LITO ROSALES
G.R. NO. 126402
Accused was convicted of rape. He raises the credibility of complainant’s testimony.
The general rule in criminal cases is that the conclusions as to the credibility of witnesses in rape cases lie heavily on the sound judgment of the trial court which is accorded great weight and respect, if not conclusive effect. In this case, there is nothing that would warrant a deviation from the general rule.
PEOPLE V. EDGARDO ALORO
G.R. NO. 129208
Accused was convicted of 2 counts of rape. He was convicted on the basis of the lone testimony of the victim despite lack of physical injuries.
It is doctrinally settled that the lone testimony of a rape victim, by itself, is sufficient to convict if credible. Equally settled is the principle that when a woman declares that she has been raped, she says in effect all that is necessary to mean that she has been raped and where the testimony passes the test of credibility, the accused can be convicted on the basis thereof. Further, in proving rape cases, it is not necessary that the act was committed with genital injury. And a finding that the victim’s hymen is intact, as in this case, does not disprove rape. In fact, a medial examination is not indispensable in the prosecution for rape.
PEOPLE V. FAUSTINO CAMPOS
G.R. NO. 133373-77
Accused, 72 years of age, was convicted of 5 counts of rape committed against 2 minors. He insists in his appeal that he could not be convicted considering that the medical examination showed that the complaining witnesses suffered no lacerations, abrasions or contusions.
Medical examination is not indispensable in a prosecution for rape. In fact, there can be rape even if the medical examination shows no vaginal laceration. Medical findings only serve to corroborate the testimonies of the victims. The accused may be convicted on the basis of the lone uncorroborated testimony of the rape victim provided that her testimony is clear, positive, convincing and consistent with human nature and the normal course of this.
PEOPLE V. WALPAN LADJAALAM
G.R. NO. 136149-51
The accused was convicted of the crime of direct assault with multiple attempted homicide for firing an M14 rifle to police men who were about to enter his house to serve a search warrant. Further, he was also convicted for illegal possession of firearm.
RA no. 8294 penalizes simple illegal possession of firearms, provided that the person arrested committed “no other crime”. Furthermore, if the person is held liable for murder or homicide, illegal possession of firearms is an aggravating circumstance, but not a separate offense. Hence, where an accused was convicted of direct assault with multiple attempted homicide for firing an unlicensed M14 rifle at several policemen who were about to serve a search warrant, he cannot be held guilty of the separate offense of illegal possession of firearms. Neither can such unlawful act be considered to have aggravated the direct assault.
PEOPLE V. AMADEO TRELLES
G.R. NO. 137659
Accused was convicted of raping a 22 year old retardate woman. He questions credibility of complainant.
A mental retardate or a feebleminded person is not, per se, disqualified from being a witness, her mental condition not being a vitiation of her credibility. It is now universally accepted that intellectual weakness, no matter what form it assumes, is not a valid objection to the competency of a witness so long as the latter can still give a fairly intelligent and reasonable narrative of the matter testified to.
PEOPLE V. SPO1 ERNESTO ULEP
G.R. NO. 132547
Accused was convicted of murder. He interposed self-defense and justifying circumstance of fulfillment of a duty.
Preliminarily, having admitted the killing, the accused assumed the burden of proving legal justification therefore. He must establish clearly and convincingly how he acted in the fulfillment of his official duty and/or in complete self-defense, otherwise, he must suffer all the consequences of his malefaction. He has to rely on the quantitative and qualitative strength of his own evidence, not on the weakness of the prosecution, for even if it were weak, it could not be disbelieved after he had admitted the killing. To justify the incident as fulfillment of a duty, 2 requisites must concur: (1) that he acted in the performance of a duty or in the lawful exercise of a right or an office; (2) that the injury caused or the offense committed be the necessary consequence of the due performance of duty or the lawful exercise of such right or office.
The second shot, which was the fatal shot was uncalled for and therefore was no longer a necessary consequence of appellant’s due performance of duty. Thus, only an incomplete justifying circumstance of fulfillment of a duty can be appreciated.
PEOPLE V. EDGAR BACALSO
G.R. NO. 129055
Accused was convicted of the complex crime of double murder with frustrated murder. The conviction hinges on the testimony of 2 prosecution witnesses.
In every criminal case, the task of the prosecution is always two-pronged: (1) to prove beyond reasonable doubt the commission of the crime charged; and (2) to establish with the same quantum of proof the identity of the person or persons responsible therefore, for even if the commission of the crime is given, there can be no conviction without the identity of the malefactor being likewise clearly ascertained.
The identification of the perpetrator of the crime bears heavily on the reasonableness or probability of the testimony of the prosecution witness. There is unfortunately, no single test to determine with all exactitude the probity of testimony, and the courts can only give conformity to the quotidian knowledge, observation and experience of man. It has been observed that the most positive testimony of a witness may be contradicted on the fact that the testimony is contrary to common observation or experience or the common principles by which the conduct of mankind is governed. The courts are not required to believe that which they judicially know to be incredible. A close scrutiny of the accounts given by the witnesses produce a serious doubt as to the veracity of the malefactor’s identity almost as if it were merely contrived to pin the liability of the crime upon appellant.
PEOPLE V. ABE VALDEZ
G.R. NO. 129296
Accused was found guilty of violating the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972., An extrajudicial confession was made as to the ownership of marijuana plants.
The marijuana plants seized were product of an illegal search because of the absence of search warrant and are therefore inadmissible in evidence. The voluntary confession of ownership of marijuana was in violation of the custodial rights because of the absence of competent and independent counsel, and thus, inadmissible too. In sum, both the object evidence and the testimonial evidence as to the appellant’s voluntary confession of ownership of the prohibited plants relied upon to prove appellant’s guilt failed to meet the test of constitutional competence. Without these, the prosecution’s remaining evidence did not even approximate the quantum of evidence necessary to warrant appellant’s conviction. Hence, the presumption of innocence on his favor stands.
PEOPLE V. FERIGEL OLIVA
G.R. NO. 122110
Accused was convicted of arson and murder.
There are 2 elements of arson: (1) that there is intentional burning; (2) that what is intentionally burned is an inhabited house or dwelling. Proof of corpus delicti is indispensable in prosecution for felonies and offense. Corpus delicti is the body or substance of the crime. It refers to the fact that a crime has actually been committed. Corpus delicti is the fact of the commission of the crime that may be proved by the testimonies of the witnesses. In arson, the corpus delicti rule is satisfied by proof of the bare occurrence of the fire and of its having been intentionally caused. The uncorroborated testimony of a single eyewitness, if credible, may be enough to prove the corpus delicti and to warrant conviction. Here, corpus delicti of the arson and murder was duly proven beyond reasonable doubt.
PEOPLE V. ELMEDIO CAJARA
G.R. NO. 122498
Accused was convicted of qualified rape and sentenced to death. The victim was the sister of the common law wife of the accused.
Although the circumstance of relationship by affinity within the third civil degree was alleged in the information, evidence for the prosecution clearly showed the lack or absence of such circumstance to qualify the rape because the accused and the sister of the victim were common law husband and wife and were not legally married at the time of the tape. The accused and the victim cannot be said to be related by affinity within the third civil degree at the time of the commission of the crime.
PEOPLE V. OSCAR NOGAR
G.R. NO. 133946
Accused was convicted of statutory rape committed against a 9 year old girl. However, during trial, the fact of age was not proven. Can the accused be convicted of simple rape when the charge against him was for statutory rape?
It is too late to assail the duplicitous character of the information as no objection was raised in a motion to quash before a plea to the information is made. The defect is deemed waived.
PEOPLE V. EFREN TEMANEL
G.R. NO. 97138-39
The accused were convicted of Robbery with Homicide. They contend that in as much as they were the only ones apprehended and held for trial, their non-flight should have been considered as indication of their innocence.
While flight indicates guilt, non-flight does not mean innocence.
PEOPLE V. ARMANDO QUILATAN
G.R. NO. 132725
Accused was convicted of incestuous rape committed against his 13 year old daughter. He questions credibility of the complainant.
The bare denial of the accused cannot overcome the categorical testimony of the victim. Denial, when unsubstantiated by clear and convincing evidence, as in this case, is a negative and self-serving evidence which deserves no greater evidentiary value than the testimony of credible witnesses who testify on affirmative matters.
PEOPLE V. PEDRO ABUNGAN
G.R. NO. 136843
Accused was convicted of murder. He died pending appeal.
The death of the appellant pending appeal and prior to the finality of conviction extinguished his criminal and civil liabilities (civil liability ex delicto) arising from the delict or crime. Hence, the criminal case against him, not the appeal, should be dismissed. However, it must be added that his civil liability may be based on sources of obligation other than delict. For this reason, the victims may file a separate civil action against his estate, as may be warranted by law or procedural rules.
PEOPLE V. CARUNGAL AND ESPINOSA
G.R. No.123299 Sept. 29, 2000
This is a hold-up but a passenger was a policeman. He was stabbed. Later a tabloid reported that his gun was found with a killed hold-upper not a party to the case.
In the light of positive identification, appellant’s defense of alibi and denial must fail. Positive testimony is stronger that negative testimony, and alibi becomes worthless in the face of positive identification of the accused. For alibi to prosper it must be shown that it was physically impossible to be at the scene of the crime at the time of its commission (place of alibi was only 5 minutes away).
Even if there are flaws in the testimony as to who stabbed the victim is immaterial because conspiracy was proven. They masqueraded as passengers, positioned themselves strategically inside the jeep, pulled out their knives simultaneously, concertedly inflicted stab wounds upon learning that he was a policeman. It is no moment that an accused has not taken part in the actual commission of every act constituting the crime. The precise modality or extent of participation of each individual conspirator becomes secondary since the act of one is the act of all.
As to the report of the gun, it is merely hearsay. The authors of the newspaper reports had no personal knowledge of the identity of the perpetrators. Such was only obtained from the police investigators handling the case. This fact is of no moment for a possession thereof could have reached this person for a number of reasons.
PEOPLE V. PO2 RODEL SAMONTE
G.R. No.126048 Sept.29, 2000
There was a shooting incident resulting to the death of Perez. Accused was detailed in the Mayor’s Office. His revolver and a 38 palter was taken from him. Branch 9 acquitted him of the crime of homicide but Branch 3 found him guilty of illegal possession of firearms aggravated by homicide under PD1866.
W/N the doctrine of P v Quijada stating that qualified illegal possession of firearms and homicide are distinct and separate offenses is still followed.
No. Applying the new law RA8249 in P v Molina the Court has declared that under the amendment in said law that if homicide or murder is committed with the use of an unlicensed forearm, such use of the same should only be considered as an aggravating circumstance.
PEOPLE V. JOSE PATRIARCA
G.R. No.135457 Sept.29, 2000
Accused was found guilty of murdering a fellow member of the NPA. Accused now appeals on the ground that the crime of murder is an offense committed in pursuance or in furtherance of rebellion.
The court acquitted the appellant. His application for amnesty was approved and one of the acts listed in the resolution of the Nat’l Amnesty Commission is the killing of the victim in this case. The approval was pursuant to Proc. No 347 granting amnesty to all persons who shall apply who have committed crimes on or before June 1 1995 in pursuit of their political beliefs.
Pardon is granted by the Chief Executive. It is a private act, which must be pleaded and proved by the person pardoned, because the courts take no notice thereof; while amnesty by Proclamation of the CE with the concurrence of Congress is a public act of w/c the courts should take judicial notice. Pardon is granted to one after conviction; while amnesty is granted to classes of person or communities who may be guilty of political offenses, generally before or after the institution of the criminal prosecution and sometimes after conviction. Pardon looks forward and relieves the offender from the consequences of an offense of which he has been convicted, it abolishes or forgives the punishment thus it does not work the restoration of the rights to hold public office or right of suffrage unless such rights be expressly restored by the terms of the pardon and it in no case exempts the culprit from the payment of the civil indemnity imposed upon him by the sentence (Art 36).
PEOPLE V. GENOSA
GRNo.-135891 Sept. 29, 2000
Appellant was found guilty of parricide. She now requests an examination by psychologists to determine her state of mind then under the ground of the “battered woman syndrome”.
There are four characteristics of the syndrome:1)woman believes that the violence was her fault;2)she has an inability to place the responsibility for the violence elsewhere;3)she fears for her life and/or the children’s lives;4)she has an irrational belief that the abuser is omnipresent and omniscient. Trapped in a cycle of violence and constant fear, it is not unlikely that she would succumb to her helplessness and fail to perceive possible solutions to the problem than to injure or kill her batterer. She is seized by fear of an existing or impending lethal aggression and thus would have no opportunity beforehand to deliberate o her acts and to choose a less fatal means of eliminating her sufferings.
Petition granted. In P v Pares, after a final conviction of appellant therein, the Court granted his Urgent Omnibus Motion and allowed him to undergo mental and neuralgic other examinations to determine that he was a deaf-mute. Based on that finding and that he was unaided in the trial, he was granted a rearrangement and retrial. This action is justified on the rule that only upon proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt may an accused to consigned to a lethal injection chamber. Also as Justice Pun said, man should be adjudged or held accountable for wrongful acts so long as free will appears unimpaired.
Criminal Law Digests
Ateneo Central Bar Operations 2001