Maliksi vs COMELEC
G.R. No. 203302 April 11, 2013
Facts: During the 2010 Elections, the Municipal Board of Canvassers proclaimed Saquilayan the winner for the position of Mayor of Imus, Cavite. Maliksi, the candidate who garnered the second highest number of votes, brought an election protest in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Imus, Cavite alleging that there were irregularities in the counting of votes in 209 clustered precincts. Subsequently, the RTC held a revision of the votes, and, based on the results of the revision, declared Maliksi as the duly elected Mayor of Imus commanding Saquilayan to cease and desist from performing the functions of said office. Saquilayan appealed to the COMELEC. In the meanwhile, the RTC granted Maliksi’s motion for execution pending appeal, and Maliksi was then installed as Mayor. In resolving the appeal, the COMELEC First Division, without giving notice to the parties, decided to recount the ballots through the use of the printouts of the ballot images from the CF cards. Thus, it issued an order dated March 28, 2012 requiring Saquilayan to deposit the amount necessary to defray the expenses for the decryption and printing of the ballot images. Later, it issued another order dated April 17, 2012 for Saquilayan to augment his cash deposit.
Issue: Whether or not the conduct of recount by the first division of the COMELEC is proper.
Held: No. It bears stressing at the outset that the First Division should not have conducted the assailed recount proceedings because it was then exercising appellate jurisdiction as to which no existing rule of procedure allowed it to conduct a recount in the first instance. The recount proceedings authorized under Section 6, Rule 15 of COMELEC Resolution No. 8804, as amended, are to be conducted by the COMELEC Divisions only in the exercise of their exclusive original jurisdiction over all election protests involving elective regional (the autonomous regions), provincial and city officials.
Section 6, Rule 10 (Conduct of Revision) of the 2010 Rules of Procedure for Municipal Election Contests, which governs the proceedings in the Regional Trial Courts exercising original jurisdiction over election protests, provides:
x x x x
(m) In the event that the revision committee determines that the integrity of the ballots and the ballot box have not been preserved, as when proof of tampering or substitution exists, it shall proceed to instruct the printing of the picture image of the ballots stored in the data storage device for the precinct. The court shall provide a non-partisan technical person who shall conduct the necessary authentication process to ensure that the data or image stored is genuine and not a substitute. Only after this determination can the printed picture image be used for the recount.
The foregoing rules further require that the decryption of the images stored in the CF cards and the printing of the decrypted images take place during the revision or recount proceedings. There is a good reason for thus fixing where and by whom the decryption and the printing should be conducted. It is during the revision or recount conducted by the Revision/Recount Committee when the parties are allowed to be represented, with their representatives witnessing the proceedings and timely raising their objections in the course of the proceedings. Moreover, whenever the Revision/Recount Committee makes any determination that the ballots have been tampered and have become unreliable, the parties are immediately made aware of such determination.
The disregard of Maliksi’s right to be informed of the decision to print the picture images of the ballots and to conduct the recount proceedings during the appellate stage cannot be brushed aside by the invocation of the fact that Maliksi was able to file, after all, a motion for reconsideration. To be exact, the motion for reconsideration was actually directed against the entire resolution of the First Division, while Maliksi’s claim of due process violation is directed only against the First Division’s recount proceedings that resulted in the prejudicial result rendered against him. Notably, the First Division did not issue any order directing the recount. Without the written order, Maliksi was deprived of the chance to seek any reconsideration or even to assail the irregularly-held recount through a seasonable petition for certiorari in this Court. In that context, he had no real opportunity to assail the conduct of the recount proceedings.
The service of the First Division orders requiring Saquilayan to post and augment the cash deposits for the printing of the picture images did not sufficiently give Maliksi notice of the First Division’s decision to print the picture images. The said orders did not meet the requirements of due process because they did not specifically inform Maliksi that the ballots had been found to be tampered. Nor did the orders offer the factual bases for the finding of tampering. Hence, to leave for Maliksi to surmise on the factual bases for finding the need to print the picture images still violated the principles of fair play, because the responsibility and the obligation to lay down the factual bases and to inform Maliksi as the party to be potentially prejudiced thereby firmly rested on the shoulders of the First Division.
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 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.
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.
People of the Philippines vs Amarillo
GR No. 194721 August 15, 2012
Facts: Accused-appellant identified himself as John Brian Amarillo 25 years old, a resident of Laperal Compound, Guadalupe Viego, Makati City, single, a washing boy. On or about April 8, 2006, in the City of Makati, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this honorable court, Amarillo, without the corresponding license or prescription did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously sell, give away, distribute and deliver 0.03g of methylamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu), which is a dangerous drug. On the same day, after the arrest of the accused, a search was made upon his person and in his possession was found 17 small heat-sealed plastic which contains shabu, with a total of 0.33g.
Issue: Whether or not failure to perform the regular inventory of the drugs seized would render the evidence inadmissible and accused not liable for the crime charged.
Held: No. To prove illegal sale of shabu, the following elements must be present: a.) the identities of the buyer and the seller, the object of the sale, and the consideration; and b.) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment for the thing. And, to secure conviction, it is immaterial to establish that the transaction or sale actually took place, and to bring to the court the corpus delicti as evidence.
As to the crime of illegal possession of shabu, the prosecution clearly proved the presence of the following essential elements of the crime: a.) the accused was in possession of an item or object that is identified to be a prohibited as dangerous drugs; b.) such possession was not authorized by law; and c.) the accused freely and consciously possessed the drug. After the arrest, accused-appellant, 17 heat-sealed sachets of white substance were found in his possession. The chemistry report showed that the white substamce in the plastic sachets tested for shabu. And, there was no showing that such possession was authorized by law.
The failure of the prosecution to show that the police officers conducted the required physical inventory and photograph of the evidence confiscated pursuant to said guidelines is not fatal and does not automatically render accused-appellant’s arrest illegal or the items seized/confiscated from him inadmissible.
The court has long settled that an accused may still be found guilty despite the failure to faithfully observe the requirements provided under section 21 of RA 9165, for as long as the chain of custody remains unbroken.
The doctrine of presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty is likewise applicable in the instant case, there being no showing of any ill motive on the part of the arresting officers to falsely accuse accused-appellant of the crimes charged. In fact, he himself testified that he did not know any of the persons who arrested him and that he did not also have any misunderstanding with any one of them. And, in the absence of proof of any intent on the part of the police authorities to falsely impute such a serious crime against appellant as in this case, the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty must prevail.
People of the Philippines vs Mendoza
GR No. 186387 August 31, 2011
Facts: An information was received that a certain Juan Mendoza is selling illegal drugs, shabu specifically in the City of Baguio. A buy-bust operation to entrap the accused was set, Police officer Antolin was the buyer to meet the accused at the stairs of the Cresencia Barangay hall along Bokaw Kan Road at around 2:00 pm when the signal was given by Antolin upon the end of the transaction, the accused was searched and was take under custody where other sachets of shabu were seized from him. The said items were then tested positive of menthamphetamine hydrochloride. The same pieces of evidence were transmitted to the crime laboratory and was later on presented to the court.
Issue: Whether or not the items seized were admissible as evidence to convict the accused for violations of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Held: Yes. In crimes involving sale of illegal drugs, two essential elements must be satisfied:
- Identities of the Buyer, the Seller, the object and the consideration; and
- The delivery of the thing sold and the payment for it.
In the prosecution for illegal possession of dangerous drugs, on the other hand, it must be shown that:
- The accused is in possession of an item or an object identified to be prohibited or a regulated drug;
- Such possession is not authorized by law;
- The accused freely and consciously possessed the said drug.
In this case, all these elements were satisfactorily proven by the prosecution beyond reasonable doubt through testimonial, documentary and object evidence presented during the trialm PO2 Antolin, the designated poseur-buyer, testified as the circumstances surrounding the apprehension of the accused, and the seizure and marking of the illegal drugs recovered from the accused. Then, SPO4 Sison corroborated PO2 Antolin’s testimony and confirmed that all the confiscated items recovered from the accused were turned over to him as team leader.
The compliance with the chain of custody rule was sufficiently established.
In the chain of custody in a buy-bust situation, the following links must be established: first, the seizure and marking, if practicable, of the illegal drug received from the accused by the apprehending officer; second, the turnover of the illegal drug seized by the apprehending officer to the investigating officer; third, the turnover by the investigating officer of the illegal drug to the forensic chemist for laboratory examination; and fourth, the turnover and submission of the marked illegal drug seized from the forensic chemist to the court.