Criminal

Bongalon vs People (G.R. No. 169533 March 20, 2013)

Bongalon vs People of the Philippines
G.R. No. 169533 March 20, 2013

Facts: The Prosecution showed that on May 11, 2002, Jayson Dela Cruz (Jayson) and Roldan, his older brother, both minors, joined the evening procession for the Santo Niño at Oro Site in Legazpi City; that when the procession passed in front of the petitioner’s house, the latter’s daughter Mary Ann Rose, also a minor, threw stones at Jayson and called him “sissy”; that the petitioner confronted Jayson and Roldan and called them names like “strangers” and “animals”; that the petitioner struck Jayson at the back with his hand, and slapped Jayson on the face; that the petitioner then went to the brothers’ house and challenged Rolando dela Cruz, their father, to a fight, but Rolando did not come out of the house to take on the petitioner; that Rolando later brought Jayson to the Legazpi City Police Station and reported the incident; that Jayson also underwent medical treatment at the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital; that the doctors who examined Jayson issued two medical certificates attesting that Jayson suffered the following contusions, to wit: (1) contusion .5 x 2.5 scapular area, left; and (2) +1×1 cm. contusion left zygomatic area and contusion .5 x 2.33 cm. scapular area, left. On his part, the petitioner denied having physically abused or maltreated Jayson. He explained that he only talked with Jayson and Roldan after Mary Ann Rose and Cherrylyn, his minor daughters, had told him about Jayson and Roldan’s throwing stones at them and about Jayson’s burning Cherrylyn’s hair. He denied shouting invectives at and challenging Rolando to a fight, insisting that he only told Rolando to restrain his sons from harming his daughters. To corroborate the petitioner’s testimony, Mary Ann Rose testified that her father did not hit or slap but only confronted Jayson, asking why Jayson had called her daughters “Kimi” and why he had burned Cherrlyn’s hair. Mary Ann Rose denied throwing stones at Jayson and calling him a “sissy.” She insisted that it was instead Jayson who had pelted her with stones during the procession. She described the petitioner as a loving and protective father.

Issues: Whether or not the proper remedy of the petitioner is via a petition for certiorari.

Whether or not petitioner is liable for child abuse.

Held: No. The special civil action for certiorari is intended for the correction of errors of jurisdiction only or grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Its principal office is only to keep the inferior court within the parameters of its jurisdiction or to prevent it from committing such a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. As observed in Land Bank of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals, et al. “the special civil action for certiorari is a remedy designed for the correction of errors of jurisdiction and not errors of judgment. The raison d’etre for the rule is when a court exercises its jurisdiction, an error committed while so engaged does not deprived it of the jurisdiction being exercised when the error is committed. If it did, every error committed by a court would deprive it of its jurisdiction and every erroneous judgment would be a void judgment. In such a scenario, the administration of justice would not survive. Hence, where the issue or question involved affects the wisdom or legal soundness of the decision–not the jurisdiction of the court to render said decision–the same is beyond the province of a special civil action for certiorari. The proper recourse of the aggrieved party from a decision of the Court of Appeals is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court.

Section 10. Other Acts of Neglect, Abuse, Cruelty or Exploitation and other Conditions Prejudicial to the Child’s Development. – (a) Any person who shall commit any other acts of child abuse, cruelty or exploitation or be responsible for other conditions prejudicial to the child’s development including those covered by Article 59 of Presidential Decree No. 603, as amended, but not covered by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, shall suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its minimum period.  x x x x

Child abuse, the crime charged, is defined by Section 3 (b) of Republic Act No. 7610, as follows:

Section 3. Definition of terms. – x x x x (b) “Child Abuse” refers to the maltreatment, whether habitual or not, of the child which includes any of the following: (1) Psychological and physical abuse, neglect, cruelty, sexual abuse and emotional maltreatment; (2) Any act by deeds or words which debases, degrades or demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of a child as a human being; (3) Unreasonable deprivation of his basic needs for survival, such as food and shelter; or (4) Failure to immediately give medical treatment to an injured child resulting in serious impairment of his growth and development or in his permanent incapacity or death.

The records did not establish beyond reasonable doubt that his laying of hands on Jayson had been intended to debase the “intrinsic worth and dignity” of Jayson as a human being, or that he had thereby intended to humiliate or embarrass Jayson. The records showed the laying of hands on Jayson to have been done at the spur of the moment and in anger, indicative of his being then overwhelmed by his fatherly concern for the personal safety of his own minor daughters who had just suffered harm at the hands of Jayson and Roldan. With the loss of his self-control, he lacked that specific intent to debase, degrade or demean the intrinsic worth and dignity of a child as a human being that was so essential in the crime of child abuse.

Claridad vs Esteban (G.R. No. 191567 March 20, 2013)

Callo-Claridad vs Esteban
G.R. No. 191567 March 20, 2013

Facts: Around 5:30 p.m. of February 27, 2007, Chase returned home from visiting his girlfriend, Ramonna Liza “Monnel” Hernandez. Around 7:00 p.m., Chase’s sister Ariane was sitting at the porch of their house when she noticed a white Honda Civic car parked along the street. Recognizing the driver to be Philip, Ariane waved her hand at him. Philip appeared nonchalant and did not acknowledge her gesture. Ariane decided to stay behind and leave with their house helpers, Marivic Guray and Michelle Corpus, only after Chase had left on board the white Honda Civic car. Marivic Rodriguez, a house helper of Shellane Yukoko, the resident of No. 9 Cedar Place, Ferndale Homes, was with her co-employee nanny Jennylyn Buri and the latter’s ward, Joei Yukoko, when they heard somebody crying coming from the crime scene: Help! Help! This was at about 7:30 p.m. Even so, neither of them bothered to check who had been crying for help. It was noted, however, that No. 10 Cedar Place, which was owned by one Mrs. Howard, was uninhabited at the time. Based on the initial investigation report of the Megaforce Security and Allied Services, Inc., the Estebans were illegally parking their cars at Mrs. Howard’s carport. The initial investigation report stated that the SGs would regularly remind the Estebans to use their own parking garage, which reminders had resulted in heated discussions and altercations. The SGs kept records of all the illegal parking incidents, and maintained that only the Estebans used the carport of No. 10 Cedar Place. Around 7:45 p.m., respondent Teodora Alyn Esteban (Teodora) arrived at Ferndale Homes on board a vehicle bearing plate XPN 733, as recorded in the subdivision SG’s logbook. At that time, three cars were parked at the carport of No. 10 Cedar place, to wit: a Honda CRV with plate ZAE 135 parked parallel to the Honda Civic with plate CRD 999, and another Honda Civic with plate JTG 333, the car frequently used by Philip, then parked diagonally behind the two cars. Some witnesses alleged that prior to the discovery of the Chase’s body, they had noticed a male and female inside the car bearing plate JTG 333 engaged in a discussion. At around 7:50 p.m., SG Abelardo Sarmiento Jr., while patrolling around the village, noticed that the side of the Honda Civic with plate JTG 333 had red streaks, which prompted him to move towards the parked cars. He inspected the then empty vehicle and noticed that its radio was still turned on. He checked the cars and discovered that the rear and side of the Honda Civic with plate CRD 999 were smeared with blood. He saw on the passenger seat a cellular phone covered with blood. It was then that he found the bloodied and lifeless body of Chase lying between the parallel cars. The body was naked from the waist up, with a crumpled bloodied shirt on the chest, and with only the socks on. SG Sarmiento called for back-up. SG Rene Fabe immediately barricaded the crime scene. Around 7:55 p.m., SG Solis received a phone call from an unidentified person who reported that a “kid” had met an accident at Cedar Place. SG Solis later identified and confirmed the caller to be “Mr. Esteban Larry” when the latter entered the village gate and inquired whether the “kid” who had met an accident had been attended to. Moreover, when SG Fabe and SG Sarmiento were securing the scene of the crime, they overheard from the radio that somebody had reported about a “kid” who had been involved in an accident at Cedar Place. SG Fabe thereafter searched the village premises but did not find any such accident. When SG Fabe got back, there were already several onlookers at the crime scene.

Issue: Whether or not the evidence is sufficient to charge the respondents of murder.

Held:
No. For circumstantial evidence to be sufficient to support a conviction, all the circumstances must be consistent with one another and must constitute an unbroken chain leading to one fair and reasonable conclusion that a crime has been committed and that the respondents are probably guilty thereof. The pieces of evidence must be consistent with the hypothesis that the respondents were probably guilty of the crime and at the same time inconsistent with the hypothesis that they were innocent, and with every rational hypothesis except that of guilt. Circumstantial evidence is sufficient, therefore, if: (a) there is more than one circumstance, (b) the facts from which the inferences are derived have been proven, and (c) the combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt.

The records show that the circumstantial evidence linking Philip to the killing of Chase derived from the bare recollections of Ariane (sister of Chase), and of Guray and Corpus (respectively, the househelp and nanny in the household of a resident of the subdivision) about seeing Chase board the white Honda Civic at around 7:00 p.m. of February 27, 2007, and about Philip being the driver of the Honda Civic. But there was nothing else after that, because the circumstances revealed by the other witnesses could not even be regarded as circumstantial evidence against Philip. To be sure, some of the affidavits were unsworn. The statements subscribed and sworn to before the officers of the Philippine National Police (PNP) having the authority to administer oaths upon matters connected with the performance of their official duties undeniably lacked the requisite certifications to the effect that such administering officers had personally examined the affiants, and that such administering officers were satisfied that the affiants had voluntarily executed and understood their affidavits.

Thus, it is imperative that the circumstantial evidence that the victim was last seen in the company of respondent Philip must be established by competent evidence required by the rules in preliminary investigation. Here, it was allegedly Chase’s sister, Ariane, and their two household helpers, Marivic Guray and Michelle Corpus, who saw respondent Philip pick up Chase at around 7:00 o’clock in the evening of February 27, 2007. Yet, such fact from which the inference is derived was not duly proven. The statements of Marivic and Michelle both executed on February 28, 2007 were not sworn to before the proper officer.

Neither was the affidavit dated July 3, 2009 of Ariane Claridad duly notarized nor is there any explanation why the same was belatedly executed.

People vs Teodoro (G.R. No. 175876 February 20, 2013)

People of the Philippines vs Teodoro
G.R. No. 175876 February 20, 2013

Facts: Two informations, both dated March 25, 1998, charged Teodoro with statutory rape. Based on the medical certificate, the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Agusan del Norte charged Teodoro with two counts of statutory rape through the informations. At his arraignment on August 17, 1998, Teodoro pleaded not guilty to the informations. Although he subsequently manifested a willingness to change the pleas to guilty, he balked when he was re-arraigned on December 23, 1998 by qualifying that he had only “fingered” AAA. Accordingly, the RTC reinstated his pleas of not guilty. During the trial, AAA and BBB testified for the Prosecution, but two years later recanted and turned hostile towards the Prosecution, now telling the RTC that Teodoro had only touched AAA’s vagina on the nights of December 18, 1997 and February 8, 1998.

Issue: Whether or not the recantation of the victim be considered in determining the penalty of the accused.

Held: No. The crimes charged were two counts of statutory rape. The elements of statutory rape are that: (a) the victim is a female under 12 years or is demented; and (b) the offender has carnal knowledge of the victim. Considering that the essence of statutory rape is carnal knowledge of a female without her consent, neither the use of force, threat or intimidation on the female, nor the female’s deprivation of reason or being otherwise unconscious, nor the employment on the female of fraudulent machinations or grave abuse of authority is necessary to commit statutory rape. Full penile penetration of the female’s genitalia is not likewise required, because carnal knowledge is simply the act of a man having sexual bodily connections with a woman.

In objective terms, carnal knowledge, the other essential element in consummated statutory rape, does not require full penile penetration of the female.  The Court has clarified in People v. Campuhan that the mere touching of the external genitalia by a penis capable of consummating the sexual act is sufficient to constitute carnal knowledge. All that is necessary to reach the consummated stage of rape is for the penis of the accused capable of consummating the sexual act to come into contact with the lips of the pudendum of the victim.  This means that the rape is consummated once the penis of the accused capable of consummating the sexual act touches either labia of the pudendum. As the Court has explained in People v. Bali-Balita, the touching that constitutes rape does not mean mere epidermal contact, or stroking or grazing of organs, or a slight brush or a scrape of the penis on the external layer of the victim’s vagina, or the mons pubis, but rather the erect penis touching the labias or sliding into the female genitalia. Accordingly, the conclusion that touching the labia majora or the labia minora of the pudendum constitutes consummated rape proceeds from the physical fact that the labias are physically situated beneath the mons pubis or the vaginal surface, such that for the penis to touch either of them is to attain some degree of penetration beneath the surface of the female genitalia. It is required, however, that this manner of touching of the labias must be sufficiently and convincingly established.

As a rule, recantation is viewed with disfavor firstly because the recantation of her testimony by a vital witness of the State like AAA is exceedingly unreliable, and secondly because there is always the possibility that such recantation may later be repudiated. Indeed, to disregard testimony solemnly given in court simply because the witness recants it ignores the possibility that intimidation or monetary considerations may have caused the recantation. Court proceedings, in which testimony upon oath or affirmation is required to be truthful under all circumstances, are trivialized by the recantation. The trial in which the recanted testimony was given is made a mockery, and the investigation is placed at the mercy of an unscrupulous witness. Before allowing the recantation, therefore, the court must not be too willing to accept it, but must test its value in a public trial with sufficient opportunity given to the party adversely affected to cross-examine the recanting witness both upon the substance of the recantation and the motivations for it. The recantation, like any other testimony, is subject to the test of credibility based on the relevant circumstances, including the demeanor of the recanting witness on the stand. In that respect, the finding of the trial court on the credibility of witnesses is entitled to great weight on appeal unless cogent reasons necessitate its re-examination, the reason being that the trial court is in a better position to hear first-hand and observe the deportment, conduct and attitude of the witnesses.

People vs Tapere (G.R. No. 178065 February 20, 2013)

People of the Philippines vs Tapere
G.R. No. 178065 February 20, 2013

Facts: At around 7:30 p.m. on September 2, 2002, elements of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) arrested Tapere for selling shabu to a poseur buyer during a buy-bust operation conducted against him in Purok San Antonio, Iligan City. Prior to the buy-bust operation, Tapere was already included in the PDEA’s drug watch list as a drug pusher based on the frequent complaints made against him by residents of Purok San Antonio, Iligan City. It appears that SPO2 Diosdado Cabahug of the PDEA, a neighbor, had warned Tapere to stop his illegal activities, but he apparently ignored the warning and continued to sell shabu in that locality. Such continuing activity on the part of Tapere was the subject of the report of PDEA informant Gabriel Salgado. An entrapment was executed in order to arrest Tapere in the act of selling shabu while vending lanzones along side Tipanoy. Accused alleged that he was just asked by Salgado to buy the shabu where disobeying him is not an option for him. He further alleged that the way he was arrested was by instigation which is absolutory in nature entitling him to acquittal.

Issue: Whether or not Tapere is liable for the illegal sale of shabu.

Held: Yes To establish the crime of illegal sale of shabu as defined and punished under Section 5, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165, the Prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt (a) the identity of the buyer and the seller, the identity of the object and the consideration of the sale; and (b) the delivery of the thing sold and of the payment for the thing. The commission of the offense of illegal sale of dangerous drugs, like shabu, requires simply the consummation of the selling transaction, which happens at the moment the buyer receives the drug from the seller.  In short, the Prosecution must show that the transaction or sale actually took place, and present in court the thing sold as evidence of the corpus delicti.

Instigation takes place when a peace officer induces a person to commit a crime. Without the inducement, the crime would not be committed. Hence, it is exempting by reason of public policy; otherwise, the peace officer would be a co-principal. It follows that the person instigating must not be a private person, because he will be liable as a principal by inducement. On the other hand, entrapment signifies the ways and means devised by a peace officer to entrap or apprehend a person who has committed a crime. With or without the entrapment, the crime has been committed already. Hence, entrapment is not mitigating. Although entrapment is sanctioned by law, instigation is not. The difference between the two lies in the origin of the criminal intent – in entrapment, the mens rea originates from the mind of the criminal, but in instigation, the law officer conceives the commission of the crime and suggests it to the accused, who adopts the idea and carries it into execution.

Tapere was caught in flagrante delicto committing the illegal sale of shabu during the buy-bust operation. In that operation, Salgado offered to buy from him a definite quantity of shabu for P100.00. Even if, as he claims, he was unaware that Salgado was then working as an undercover agent for the PDEA, he had no justification for accepting the offer of Salgado to buy the shabu.  His explanation that he could not have refused Salgado’s offer to buy for fear of displeasing the latter was implausible. He did not show how Salgado could have influenced him at all into doing something so blatantly illegal. What is clear to us, therefore, is that the decision to peddle the shabu emanated from his own mind, such that he did not need much prodding from Salgado or anyone else to engage in the sale of the shabu; hence, he was not incited, induced, instigated or lured into committing an offense that he did not have the intention of committing.

People vs Bartolome (GR No 191726 February 06, 2013)

People of the Philippines vs Bartolome
GR No 191726 February 06, 2013

Facts:  On August 10, 2003, at around 1:00 a.m., an informant went to the Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Unit (ADSOU) in Caloocan City to report the illicit drug dealings of the accused on Reparo Street, Bagong Barrio, Caloocan City. Acting on the report, Police Inspector Cesar Cruz of ADSOU immediately instructed some of his men to conduct a buy-bust operation against the accused. During the pre-operation briefing, the buy-bust team designated PO1 Borban Paras as the poseur-buyer. Paras was given a P100.00 bill that he marked with his initials BP. It was agreed that the informant would drop a cigarette butt in front of the suspect to identify him to Paras; and that Paras would scratch his head to signal to the buy-bust team that the transaction with the suspect had been consummated. The operation was coordinated with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. Upon arriving at the target area at around 2:00 a.m. of August 10, 2003, the team members positioned themselves in the vicinity of a store. The informant then approached a person who was standing in front of the store and dropped a cigarette butt in front of the person. Paras, then only two meters away from the informant, saw the dropping of the cigarette butt. Paras went towards the suspect and said to him: Pre pa-iskor nga. The suspect responded: Pre, piso na lang tong hawak magkano ba kukunin mo? Paras replied: Ayos na yan, piso lang naman talaga ang kukunin ko, after which he handed the marked P100.00 bill to the suspect, who in turn drew out a plastic sachet containing white substances from his pocket and gave the sachet to Paras. With that, Paras scratched his head to signal the consummation of the sale. As the other members of the team were approaching, Paras grabbed the suspect. PO3 Rodrigo Antonio, another member of the team, confiscated the marked P100.00 bill from the suspect, who was identified as Noel Bartolome y Bajo. Paras immediately marked the sachet at the crime scene with Bartolomes initials NBB. Insp. Cruz later requested in writing the PNP Crime Laboratory in Caloocan City to conduct a laboratory examination of the contents of the plastic sachet seized from Bartolome. PO2 Rolando De Ocampo, another member of the buy-bust team, brought the request and the sachet and its contents to the laboratory. In due course, Forensic Chemical Officer Jesse Abadilla Dela Rosa of the PNP Crime Laboratory confirmed in Physical Science Report No. D-1038-03 that the plastic sachet contained 0.06 gram of methamphetamine hydrocholoride or shabu, a dangerous drug.

Issue: Whether the transaction resulting to the arrest of Bartolome is an instigation.

Held: No. Instigation is the means by which the accused is lured into the commission of the offense charged in order to prosecute him. On the other hand, entrapment is the employment of such ways and means for the purpose of trapping or capturing a lawbreaker. Thus, in instigation, officers of the law or their agents incite, induce, instigate or lure an accused into committing an offense which he or she would otherwise not commit and has no intention of committing. But in entrapment, the criminal intent or design to commit the offense charged originates in the mind of the accused, and law enforcement officials merely facilitate the apprehension of the criminal by employing ruses and schemes; thus, the accused cannot justify his or her conduct. In instigation, where law enforcers act as coprincipals, the accused will have to be acquitted. But entrapment cannot bar prosecution and conviction. As has been said, instigation is a “trap for the unwary innocent,” while entrapment is a “trap for the unwary criminal.

As a general rule, a buy-bust operation, considered as a form of entrapment, is a valid means of arresting violators of Republic Act No. 9165. It is an effective way of apprehending law offenders in the act of committing a crime. In a buy-bust operation, the idea to commit a crime originates from the offender, without anybody inducing or prodding him to commit the offense.

A police officers act of soliciting drugs from the accused during a buy-bust operation, or what is known as a “decoy solicitation,” is not prohibited by law and does not render invalid the buy-bust operations. The sale of contraband is a kind of offense habitually committed, and the solicitation simply furnishes evidence of the criminals course of conduct. In People v. Sta. Maria, the Court clarified that a “decoy solicitation” is not tantamount to inducement or instigation.

In recent years, it has become common practice for law enforcement officers and agents to engage in buy-bust operations and other entrapment procedures in apprehending drug offenders, which is made difficult by the secrecy with which drug-related offenses are conducted and the many devices and subterfuges employed by offenders to avoid detection. On the other hand, the Court has taken judicial notice of the ugly reality that in cases involving illegal drugs, corrupt law enforcers have been known to prey upon weak, hapless and innocent persons. The distinction between entrapment and instigation has proven to be crucial. The balance needs to be struck between the individual rights and the presumption of innocence on one hand, and ensuring the arrest of those engaged in the illegal traffic of narcotics on the other.

Applying the foregoing, we declare that the accused was not arrested following an instigation for him to commit the crime. Instead, he was caught in flagrante delicto during an entrapment through buy-bust. In a buy-bust operation, the pusher sells the contraband to another posing as a buyer; once the transaction is consummated, the pusher is validly arrested because he is committing or has just committed a crime in the presence of the buyer. Here, Paras asked the accused if he could buy shabu, and the latter, in turn, quickly transacted with the former, receiving the marked bill from Paras and turning over the sachet of shabu he took from his pocket. The accused was shown to have been ready to sell the shabu without much prodding from Paras. There is no question that the idea to commit the crime originated from the mind of the accused.

Prior surveillance is not necessary to render a buy-bust operation legitimate, especially when the buy-bust team is accompanied to the target area by the informant.

People vs Belocura (G.R. No. 173474 August 29, 2012)

People of the Philippines vs Belocura
G.R. No. 173474 August 29, 2012

Facts: Belocura was charged on April 13, 1999 by the Office of the City Prosecutor of Manila with a violation of Section 8 of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659, in the Manila RTC through the information: That on or about March 22, 1999, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused did then and there willfully, unlawfully and knowingly have in his possession and under his custody and control one (1) plastic bag colored red and white, with label “SHIN TON YON”, containing the following: One (1) newspaper leaf used to wrap one (1) brick of dried marijuana fruiting tops weighing 830.532 grams; One (1) newspaper leaf used to wrap one (1) brick of dried marijuana fruiting tops weighing 959.291 grams. With a total weight of 1,789.823 grams, a prohibited drug.

Issue: Whether or not the prosecution established the guilt of the accused using the evidence obtained.

Held: No. The Court holds that the guilt of Belocura for the crime charged was not proved beyond reasonable doubt. Mere suspicion of his guilt, no matter how strong, should not sway judgment against him. Every evidence favoring him must be duly considered. Indeed, the presumption of innocence in his favor was not overcome.

The elements of illegal possession of marijuana under Republic Act No. 6425, as amended, are that: (a) the accused is in possession of an item or object that is identified to be marijuana, a prohibited drug; (b) such possession is not authorized by law; and (c) the accused freely and consciously possessed the said drug. What must be proved beyond reasonable doubt is the fact of possession of the prohibited drug itself. This may be done by presenting the police officer who actually recovered the prohibited drugs as a witness, being the person who has the direct knowledge of the possession.

The Prosecution thereby failed to establish the linkage between the bricks of marijuana supposedly seized by PO2 Santos from Belocura’s jeep following his arrest and the bricks of marijuana that the Prosecution later presented as evidence in court. That linkage was not dispensable, because the failure to prove that the specimens of marijuana submitted to the forensic chemist for examination were the same marijuana allegedly seized from Belocura irreparably broke the chain of custody that linked the confiscated marijuana to the marijuana ultimately presented as evidence against Belocura during the trial. Proof beyond reasonable doubt demanded that unwavering exactitude must be observed in establishing the corpus delicti – the body of the crime whose core was the confiscated prohibited substances. Thus, every fact necessary to constitute the crime must be established.

That this case was a prosecution brought under Republic Act No. 6425 (Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972), as amended by Republic Act No. 7659, did not matter. The chain-of-custody requirement applied under both laws by virtue of the universal need to competently and sufficiently establish the corpus delicti. It is basic under the Rules of Court, indeed, that evidence, to be relevant, must throw light upon, or have a logical relation to, the facts in issue to be established by one party or disproved by the other. The test of relevancy is whether an item of evidence will have any value, as determined by logic and experience, in proving the proposition for which it is offered, or whether it would reasonably and actually tend to prove or disprove any matter of fact in issue, or corroborate other relevant evidence. The test is satisfied if there is some logical connection either directly or by inference between the fact offered and the fact to be proved.

Resterio vs People (G.R. No. 177438 September 24, 2012)

Resterio vs People of the Philippines
G.R. No. 177438 September 24, 2012

Facts: That on May, 2002, or thereabouts, in the City of Mandaue, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with deliberate intent of gain, did there and then willfully, unlawfully and feloniously make, draw and issue China Bank Check bearing No. AO141332, dated June 3, 2002, in the amount of P 50,000.00 payable to the order of Bernardo T. Villadolid to apply on account or for value, the accused fully knowing well that at the time of the issuance of said check that she does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the payment of such check in full upon its presentment; or the accused having sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank when she make/s or draw/s and issue/s a check but she failed to keep sufficient funds or maintain a credit to cover the full amount of the check, which check when presented for encashment was dishonored by the drawee bank for the reason “ACCT. CLOSED” or would have been dishonored for the same reason had not the drawer, without any valid reason ordered the bank to stop payment, and despite notice of dishonor and demands for payment, said accused failed and refused and still fails and refuses to redeem the check or to make arrangement for payment in full by the drawee of such check within five (5) banking days after receiving the notice of dishonor, to the damage and prejudice of the aforenamed private complainant, in the aforestated amount and other claims and charges allowed by civil law.

Issue: Whether or not petitioner can be held liable criminally for violation of BP 22.

Held: No. For a violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22, the Prosecution must prove the following essential elements, namely: (1) The making, drawing, and issuance of any check to apply for account or for value; (2) The knowledge of the maker, drawer, or issuer that at the time of issue there were no sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the payment of such check in full upon its presentment; and (3) The dishonor of the check by the drawee bank for insufficiency of funds or credit or the dishonor for the same reason had not the drawer, without any valid cause, ordered the drawee bank to stop payment.

The gravamen of the offense is the act of making and issuing a worthless check or any check that is dishonored upon its presentment for payment and putting them in circulation. The law includes all checks drawn against banks. The law was designed to prohibit and altogether eliminate the deleterious and pernicious practice of issuing checks with insufficient or no credit or funds therefor. Such practice is deemed a public nuisance, a crime against public order to be abated. The mere act of issuing a worthless check, either as a deposit, as a guarantee, or even as an evidence of a pre-existing debt or as a mode of payment is covered by B.P. 22. It is a crime classified as malum prohibitum. The law is broad enough to include, within its coverage, the making and issuing of a check by one who has no account with a bank, or where such account was already closed when the check was presented for payment.

The effects of the issuance of a worthless check transcends the private interests of the parties directly involved in the transaction and touches the interests of the community at large. The mischief it creates is not only a wrong to the payee or holder, but also an injury to the public. The harmful practice of putting valueless commercial papers in circulation, multiplied a thousandfold, can very well pollute the channels of trade and commerce, injure the banking system and eventually hurt the welfare of society and the public interest.

To hold a person liable under B.P. Blg. 22, the prosecution must not only establish that a check was issued and that the same was subsequently dishonored, it must further be shown that accused knew at the time of the issuance of the check that he did not have sufficient funds or credit with the drawee bank for the payment of such check in full upon its presentment.

This knowledge of insufficiency of funds or credit at the time of the issuance of the check is the second element of the offense. Inasmuch as this element involves a state of mind of the person making, drawing or issuing the check which is difficult to prove, Section 2 of B.P. Blg. 22 creates a prima facie presumption of such knowledge.

For this presumption to arise, the prosecution must prove the following: (a) the check is presented within ninety (90) days from the date of the check; (b) the drawer or maker of the check receives notice that such check has not been paid by the drawee; and (c) the drawer or maker of the check fails to pay the holder of the check the amount due thereon, or make arrangements for payment in full within five (5) banking days after receiving notice that such check has not been paid by the drawee. In other words, the presumption is brought into existence only after it is proved that the issuer had received a notice of dishonor and that within five days from receipt thereof, he failed to pay the amount of the check or to make arrangements for its payment. The presumption or prima facie evidence as provided in this section cannot arise, if such notice of nonpayment by the drawee bank is not sent to the maker or drawer, or if there is no proof as to when such notice was received by the drawer, since there would simply be no way of reckoning the crucial 5-day period.

A notice of dishonor received by the maker or drawer of the check is thus indispensable before a conviction can ensue. The notice of dishonor may be sent by the offended party or the drawee bank. The notice must be in writing. A mere oral notice to pay a dishonored check will not suffice. The lack of a written notice is fatal for the prosecution.

While, indeed, Section 2 of B.P. Blg. 22 does not state that the notice of dishonor be in writing, taken in conjunction, however, with Section 3 of the law, i.e., “that where there are no sufficient funds in or credit with such drawee bank, such fact shall always be explicitly stated in the notice of dishonor or refusal,” a mere oral notice or demand to pay would appear to be insufficient for conviction under the law. The Court is convinced that both the spirit and letter of the Bouncing Checks Law would require for the act to be punished thereunder not only that the accused issued a check that is dishonored, but that likewise the accused has actually been notified in writing of the fact of dishonor. The consistent rule is that penal statutes have to be construed strictly against the State and liberally in favor of the accused.

People vs Arcillas (G.R. No. 181491 July 30, 2012)

People of the Philippines vs Arcillas
G.R. No. 181491 July 30, 2012

Facts: In the evening of May 12, 2000, AAA, then barely thirteen (13) years old, as evidenced by her certificate of live birth, went to sleep in a room shanty located in Magsaysay, Uson, Masbate, together with her two sisters, CCC and EEE, her mother and the latter’s live-in partner, accused Henry Arcillas. The shanty consisted of a single room measuring more or less four (4) square meters. At around 11:00 o’clock in the evening, AAA was awakened when she felt that somebody was lying on top of her. She found out that accused Henry Arcillas was on top of her. She noticed that she had no more short pants and panties and that she felt pain in her vagina. She also noticed that something had been inserted into her vagina and that the accused was making a push and pull movement on top of her. She then pushed away the accused and awakened her mother Josie, who was just asleep near her. BBB then stood up and immediately lighted the gas lamp. She saw the accused beside AAA still naked. AAA told her mother that she was sexually abused by Henry Arcillas. BBB then grabbed an ax and struck the accused with it but the latter was not hit. Before BBB was awakened, CCC, who was at the right side of AAA, was awakened first because she heard the latter crying. She then saw Henry Arcillas already at the post of their hut.

Issue: Whether or not accused is liable for qualified rape.

Held: NO. Under Article 266-A of the RPC, Rape, When and How Committed. – Rape is committed – 1. By a man who shall have carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances: a. Through force, threat or intimidation; b. When the offended party is deprived of reason or is otherwise unconscious; c. By means of fraudulent machination or grave abuse of authority; d. When the offended party is under twelve (12) years of age or is demented, even though none of the circumstances mentioned above be present.

The elements of the offense charged are that: (a) the victim is a female over 12 years but under 18 years of age; (b) the offender is a parent, ascendant, stepparent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity within the third civil degree, or the common-law spouse of the parent of the victim; and (c) the offender has carnal knowledge of the victim either through force, threat or intimidation; or when she is deprived of reason or is otherwise unconscious; or by means of fraudulent machinations or grave abuse of authority.

Rape is qualified and punished with death when committed by the victim’s parent, ascendant, step-parent, guardian, or relative by consanguinity or affinity within the third civil degree, or by the common-law spouse of the victim’s parent. However, an accused cannot be found guilty of qualified rape unless the information alleges the circumstances of the victim’s over 12 years but under 18 years of age and her relationship with him. The reason is that such circumstances alter the nature of the crime of rape and increase the penalty; hence, they are special qualifying circumstances. As such, both the age of the victim and her relationship with the offender must be specifically alleged in the information and proven beyond reasonable doubt during the trial; otherwise, the death penalty cannot be imposed.

Civil indemnity is mandatory upon the finding of the fact of rape, while moral damages are proper without need of proof other than the fact of rape by virtue of the undeniable moral suffering of AAA due to the rapes.

In addition, Arcillas was liable for exemplary damages. According to the Civil Code, exemplary damages may be imposed in criminal cases as part of the civil liability “when the crime was committed with one or more aggravating circumstances.” The law permits such damages to be awarded “by way of example or correction for the public good, in addition to the moral, temperate, liquidated or compensatory damages.” Accordingly, the CA and the RTC should have recognized the entitlement of AAA to exemplary damages on account of the attendance of her minority and the common-law relationship between him and her mother. It did not matter that such qualifying circumstances were not taken into consideration in fixing his criminal liability, because the term aggravating circumstances as basis for awarding exemplary damages under the Civil Code was understood in its generic sense.