November 2013 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are select November 2013 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:

1.            REVISED PENAL CODE

Conspiracy. Appellant conspired with his co-accused in killing the victim. They ganged up on the victim and took turns in stabbing and mauling him – animated by the same purpose and criminal intent to kill. Such unity of mind and purpose is shown by the twelve stab wounds and several abrasions found on different parts of the body of the victim that led to his instantaneous death. The Supreme Court agreed with the trial court that while there may be no evidence of an appreciable time that these persons agreed on the criminal resolution prior to the incident, the stabbings were not separate but were geared towards the consummation of the same end – to attack and kill the victim. Appellant’s positive identification by Candelada as one of those persons who stabbed the victim makes him criminally responsible as principal by indispensable cooperation. People of the Philippines v. Basilio Villarmea y Echavez, et al, G.R. No. 200029, November 13, 2013.

Murder; imposable penalty; damages to be awarded. When death occurs due to a crime, the following damages may be awarded: (1) civil indemnity ex delicto for the death of the victim; (2) actual or compensatory damages; (3) moral damages; (4) exemplary damages; and (5) temperate damages.” The heirs of the victim are likewise entitled to moral damages in the amount of P50,000.00. The award of exemplary damages in the amount of P30,000.00, in view of the aggravating circumstance of treachery, is likewise proper and in line with prevailing jurisprudence. Moreover, while actual damages cannot be awarded since there was no evidence of actual expenses incurred for the death of the victim, in lieu thereof, the sum of P25,000.00 may be granted, as it is hereby granted, by way of temperate damages as it cannot be denied that the heirs of the [victim] suffered pecuniary loss although the exact amount was not proved. In addition, all damages awarded shall earn interest at the rate of 6% per annum from date of finality of the decision until fully paid. People of the Philippines v. Andy Zulueta, a.k.a. Bogarts,G.R. No. 192183, November 11, 2013.

Qualified theft; grave abuse of confidence. To warrant the conviction and, hence, imposition of the penalty for qualified theft, there must be an allegation in the information and proof that there existed between the offended party and the accused such high degree of confidence or that the stolen goods have been entrusted to the custody or vigilance of the accused. In other words, where the accused had never been vested physical access to, or material possession of, the stolen goods, it may not be said that he or she exploited such access or material possession thereby committing such grave abuse of confidence in taking the property. Without the circumstance of a grave abuse of confidence and considering that the use of force in breaking the door was not alleged in the Information, petitioner can only be held accountable for the crime of simple theft under Art. 308 in relation to Art. 309 of the RPC. Ryan Viray v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 205180, November 11, 2013.

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October 2013 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Jurisprudence

Here are select October 2013 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and jurisprudence:

1.            REVISED PENAL CODE

Conspiracy; concept; proof of conspiracy need not rest on direct evidence. Accused-appellants Dukilman, Ronas and Evad argue in their respective briefs that conspiracy, insofar as they were concerned, was not convincingly established. Dukilman hinges his argument on the fact that he was not one of those arrested during the rescue operation based on the testimony of Inspector Ouano. On the other hand, Ronas and Evad base their argument on the fact that they had no participation whatsoever in the negotiation for the ransom money. The Supreme Court held otherwise. Although Dukilman was not one of those apprehended at the cottage during the rescue operation, the testimony of Police Inspector Arnado sufficiently established that he was one of the four people apprehended when the police intercepted the Tamaraw FX at the Nichols Tollgate. Likewise, the testimony of Police Inspector Ouano sufficiently established that Ronas and Evad were two of those who were arrested during the rescue operation. It has been held that to be a conspirator, one need not participate in every detail of the execution; he need not even take part in every act or need not even know the exact part to be performed by the others in the execution of the conspiracy. Once conspiracy is shown, the act of one is the act of all the conspirators. Further, proof of the conspiracy need not rest on direct evidence, as the same may be inferred from the collective conduct of the parties before, during or after the commission of the crime indicating a common understanding among them with respect to the commission of the offense. The testimonies, when taken together, reveal the common purpose of the accused-appellants and how they were all united in its execution from beginning to end. There were testimonies proving that (1) before the incident, two of the accused-appellants kept coming back to the victim’s house; (2) during the kidnapping, accused-appellants changed shifts in guarding the victim; and (3) the accused appellants were those present when the ransom money was recovered and when the rescue operation was conducted. Seeing that conspiracy among Gambao, Karim, Dukilman, Abao, Udal, Mandao, Dilangalen, Macalinbol, Ronas and Evad was established beyond reasonable doubt based on the proffered evidence of the prosecution, the act of one is the act of all the conspirators. People of the Philippines v. Halil Gambao, et al, G.R. No. 172707, October 1, 2013.

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September 2013 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are select September 2013 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:

1.            REVISED PENAL CODE

Estafa under Article 315(2)(d) of the Revised Penal Code; elements. In order to constitute estafa under Article 315(2)(d) of the Revised Penal Code, the act of postdating or issuing a check in payment of an obligation must be the efficient cause of the defraudation. This means that the offender must be able to obtain money or property from the offended party by reason of the issuance of the check, whether dated or postdated. In other words, the Prosecution must show that the person to whom the check was delivered would not have parted with his money or property were it not for the issuance of the check by the offender. The essential elements of this crime are the following: (a) a check is postdated or issued in payment of an obligation contracted at the time the check is issued; (b) lack or insufficiency of funds to cover the check; and (c) damage to the payee thereof. People of the Philippines v. Gilbert Reyes Wagas, G.R. No. 157943, September 4, 2013.

Estafa under Article 315(2)(d) of the Revised Penal Code; what the law punishes is fraud or deceit, not the mere issuance of a worthless check. In this case, the Prosecution established that Ligaray had released the goods to Cañada because of the postdated check the latter had given to him; and that the check was dishonored when presented for payment because of the insufficiency of funds. In every criminal prosecution, however, the identity of the offender, like the crime itself, must be established by proof beyond reasonable doubt. In that regard, the Prosecution did not establish beyond reasonable doubt that it was accused Wagas who had defrauded Ligaray by issuing the check. Firstly, Ligaray expressly admitted that he did not personally meet the person with whom he was transacting over the telephone. Even after the dishonor of the check, Ligaray did not personally see and meet whoever he had dealt with and to whom he had made the demand for payment, and that he had talked with him only over the telephone. Secondly, the check delivered to Ligaray was made payable to cash – this type of check was payable to the bearer and could be negotiated by mere delivery without the need of an indorsement. This rendered it highly probable that Wagas had issued the check not to Ligaray, but to somebody else like Cañada, his brother-in-law, who then negotiated it to Ligaray. Relevantly, Ligaray confirmed that he did not himself see or meet Wagas at the time of the transaction and thereafter, and expressly stated that the person who signed for and received the stocks of rice was Cañada.  It bears stressing that the accused, to be guilty of estafa as charged, must have used the check in order to defraud the complainant. What the law punishes is the fraud or deceit, not the mere issuance of the worthless check. Wagas could not be held guilty of estafa simply because he had issued the check used to defraud Ligaray. The proof of guilt must still clearly show that it had been Wagas as the drawer who had defrauded Ligaray by means of the check. Thus, considering that the circumstances of the identification of Wagas as the person who transacted on the rice did not preclude a reasonable possibility of mistake, the proof of guilt did not measure up to the standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt demanded in criminal cases. People of the Philippines v. Gilbert Reyes Wagas, G.R. No. 157943, September 4, 2013.

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August 2013 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are select August 2013 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:

1.            Revised Penal Code

Crime of Open Disobedience; elements. The Municipal Trial Court (MTC) did not gravely abuse its discretion in dismissing Criminal Case No. 46400 for lack of probable cause. The dismissal ought to be sustained since the records clearly disclose the unmistakable absence of the integral elements of the crime of Open Disobedience. While the first element, i.e., that the offender is a judicial or executive officer, concurs in view of Atty. Fria’s position as Branch Clerk of Court, the second and third elements of the crime evidently remain wanting. To elucidate, the second element of the crime of Open Disobedience is that there is a judgment, decision, or order of a superior authority made within the scope of its jurisdiction and issued with all legal formalities. In this case, it is undisputed that all the proceedings in Civil Case No. 03-110 have been regarded as null and void due to Branch 203’s lack of jurisdiction over the said case. Hence, since it is explicitly required that the subject issuance be made within the scope of a superior authority’s jurisdiction, it cannot therefore be doubted that the second element of the crime of Open Disobedience does not exist. Proceeding from this discussion, the third element of the crime, i.e., that the offender, without any legal justification, openly refuses to execute the said judgment, decision, or order, which he is duty bound to obey, cannot equally exist. Indubitably, without any jurisdiction, there would be no legal order for Atty. Fria to implement or, conversely, disobey. The Law Firm of Chavez Miranda and Aseoche, et al v. Atty. Josejina C. Fria, G.R. No. 183014, August 7, 2013.

Extinguishment of criminal liability by the death of the accused prior to final judgment; effect of death of the accused pending appeal of his conviction on his civil liability ex delicto. Article 89, paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code states that, “Criminal liability is totally extinguished by the death of the convict, as to the personal penalties; and as to pecuniary penalties, liability therefore is extinguished only when the death of the offender occurs before final judgment.” Given the foregoing, it is clear that the death of the accused pending appeal of his conviction extinguishes his criminal liability, as well as his civil liability ex delicto. Since the criminal action is extinguished inasmuch as there is no longer a defendant to stand as the accused, the civil action instituted therein for recovery of civil liability ex delicto is ipso facto extinguished, grounded as it is on the criminal case. Undeniably, Amistoso’s death on December 11, 2012 preceded the promulgation by the Supreme Court (SC) of its Decision on January 9, 2013. When Amistoso died, his appeal before the SC was still pending and unresolved. The SC ruled upon Amistoso’s appeal only because it was not immediately informed of his death. Amistoso’s death on December 11, 2012 renders the SC’s Decision dated January 9, 2013, even though affirming Amistoso’s conviction, irrelevant and ineffectual. Moreover, said Decision has not yet become final, and the SC still has the jurisdiction to set it aside. People of the Philippines v. Anastacio Amistoso y Broca, G.R. No. 201447, August 28, 2013.

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July 2013 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are select July 2013 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:

1.            REVISED PENAL CODE

Bigamy; elements. The elements of the crime of bigamy are: (1) the offender has been legally married; (2) the marriage has not been legally dissolved or, in case his or her spouse is absent, the absent spouse could not yet be presumed dead according to the Civil Code; (3) that he contracts a second or subsequent marriage; and (4) that the second or subsequent marriage has all the essential requisites for validity. James Walter P. Capili v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 183805, July 3, 2013.

Bigamy; bigamy committed even if second marriage is subsequently declared void. In the present case, it appears that all the elements of the crime of bigamy were present when the Information was filed on June 28, 2004. It is undisputed that a second marriage between petitioner and private respondent was contracted on December 8, 1999, during the subsistence of a valid first marriage. Notably, the Regional Trial Court of Antipolo City itself declared the bigamous nature of the second marriage between petitioner and private respondent. Thus, the subsequent judicial declaration of nullity of the second marriage for being bigamous does not bar the prosecution of petitioner for the crime of bigamy. Jurisprudence is replete with cases holding that the accused may still be charged with the crime of bigamy, even if there is a subsequent declaration of the nullity of the second marriage, so long as the first marriage was still subsisting when the second marriage was celebrated. Finally, it is a settled rule that the criminal culpability attaches to the offender upon the commission of the offense, and from that instant, liability appends to him until extinguished as provided by law. It is clear then that the crime of bigamy was committed by petitioner from the time he contracted the second marriage with private respondent. Thus, the finality of the judicial declaration of nullity of petitioner’s second marriage does not impede the filing of a criminal charge for bigamy against him. James Walter P. Capili v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 183805, July 3, 2013.

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April 2013 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are select April 2013 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:

1.            REVISED PENAL CODE

 Conspiracy; conspiracy may be inferred from the acts of the accused-appellants before, during and after the commission of the crime which indubitably point to a joint purpose, concerted action and community of interest. Spouses Betty and Monico were among the ten accused convicted by the trial court for kidnapping a certain Albert Yam for ransom. Although Betty and Monico did not participate in actually abducting Albert, it was in their abandoned house where Albert was brought to by the eight other accused. Also, Betty and Monico twice visited the safehouse where Albert was brought, with Betty serving food for Albert and Monico assisting the latter in climbing up and down the stairs. The Supreme Court considered them as co-conspirators. In a conspiracy to commit the crime of kidnapping for ransom, the place where the victim is to be detained is logically a primary consideration. In the case of Betty and Monico, it can be reasonably inferred that the house fitted the purpose of the kidnappers. Albert’s detention was accomplished not solely by reason of the restraint exerted upon him by the presence of guards in the safehouse, but by the circumstance of being put in a place where escape became highly improbable. In other words, Betty and Monico were indispensable in the kidnapping of Albert because they knowingly and purposely provided the venue to detain Albert. The spouses’ ownership of the safehouse, Monico’s presence therein during Albert’s arrival on the evening of April 7, 2002 and Betty’s visits to bring food reasonably indicate that they were among those who at the outset planned·, and thereafter concurred with and participated in the execution of the criminal design. The conviction of Betty and Monico was affirmed. People of the Philippines v. Betty Salvador y Tabios, et al, G.R. No. 201443, April 10, 2013.

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