People vs Larrañaga (GR No. 138874-75 February 3, 2004)

People of the Philippines vs Larrañaga
GR No. 138874-75 February 3, 2004

Facts: On July 16, 1997 at about 10 o’clock more or less in the evening, in the City of Cebu, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this honorable court, the said accused all private individuals, conniving, confederating and mutually helping each other, with deliberate intent, did then and there willfully and feloniously kidnap or deprive Marijoy Chiong and Jacqueline Chiong, of their liberty and on the occasion thereof, and in connection, accused, with deliberate intent, did then and there have carnal knowledge against them with the use of force and intimidation and subsequent thereto and on the occasion thereof, accused with intent to kill did then and there inflict physical injuries and threw Marijoy into a deep ravine which caused her death.

Issue: Whether or not witness who is also one of the perpetrators is a credible witness for the crime charged.

Held: Yes. Rustia positively identified the appellants. The settled rule is that positive identification of an accused by a credible as the perpetrator of the crime demolishes alibi, the much abused sanctuary of felons. Rusia’s testimony was corroborated by several disinterested witnesses who also identified the appellants. Most of them are neither friends, relatives nor acquaintances of the victim’s family. As we received closely the transcript of stenographic notes, we could not discern any motive on their part why they should testified falsely against the appellants. In the same vein, it is improbable that the prosecution would tirelessly go through the rigors of litigation just to destroy innocent lives.

Meanwhile, appellants argue that the prosecution failed to prove that the body found at the foot of a deep ravine in Tan-awan, Carcar was that of Marijoy. We are not convinced, Rusia testified that Josman instructed Rowen “to get Rid” of Marijoy, and following such instruction, Rowen  and Ariel pushed her into the deep ravine. Furthermore, inspector Edgardo Lenizo, a fingerprint expert, testified that the fingerprints of the corpse matched those of Marijoy. The packaging tape and the handcuff found on the dead body were the same items placed on Marijoy and Jacqueline while they were being detained. The body had the same clothes worn by Marijoy on the day she was abducted. The members of the Chiong family personally identified the corpse to be that of Marijoy which they eventually buried. They erected commemorative at the ravine, cemetery, and every place which mattered to Marijoy. Indeed, there is overwhelming and convincing evidence that it was the body of Marijoy that was found in the ravine.

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