April 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are selected April 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:

Criminal Law

1.    Revised Penal Code

Criminal liability; extinguishment. Paniterce’s death during the pendency of his appeal extinguished not only his criminal liabilities for the rape and acts of lasciviousness committed against his daughters, but also his civil liabilities solely arising from or based on said crimes. Whether or not he was guilty of the crimes charged has become irrelevant since, following Article 89(1) of the Revised Penal Code and People vs. Bayotas, even assuming Paniterce had incurred criminal liabilities, they were totally extinguished by his death. Consequently, the appealed decision finding him guilty of rape and acts of lasciviousness and ordering him to indemnify his victims become ineffectual. People of the Philippines vs. Domingo Paniterce, G.R. No. 186382, April 5, 2010

Estafa; elements. The first element of estafa under Art. 315, par. 1(b), requires that the money, goods, or other personal property must be received by the offender in trust or on commission, or for administration or under any other obligation involving the duty to make delivery of, or to return it. The second element requires that there be misappropriation or conversion or such money or property by the offender.

The second element is the very essence of estafa under Art. 315, par. 1(b). The words “convert” and “misappropriated” connote an act of using or disposing of another’s property as if it were one’s own, or of devoting it to a purpose or use different from that agreed upon. To misappropriate for one’s own use includes not only conversion to one’s personal advantage, but also every attempt to dispose of the property of another without a right. Here, the goods received by petitioner were not held in trust, neither were they intended for sale. Petitioner did not likewise have any duty to return them as the goods were only intended for use in the fabrication of steel communication towers. Neither was there any misappropriation as petitioner’s liability for the amount of the goods arises and becomes due only upon receipt of the proceeds of the sale, and not prior to the receipt of the full price of the goods. Anthony L. Ng vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 173905, April 23, 2010

Estafa; elements. The elements of estafa in general are: (a) that an accused defrauded another by abuse of confidence, or by means of deceit; and (b) that damage and prejudice capable of pecuniary estimation is caused the offended party or third person. Rosita Sy vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 183879, April 14, 2010

Estafa by deceit; elements. The elements of estafa by means of deceit are: (a) that there must be a false pretense or fraudulent representation as to his power, influence, qualifications, property, credit, agency, business or imaginary transactions; (b) that such false pretense or fraudulent representation was made or executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud; (c) that the offended party relied on the false pretense, fraudulent act, or fraudulent means and was induced to part with his money or property; and (d) that, as a result thereof, the offended party suffered damage. Rosita Sy vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 183879, April 14, 2010

Estafa by false pretenses or fraudulent acts; elements. The act complained of in the instant case is penalized under Article 315, paragraph 2(a) of the RPC, wherein  estafa is committed by any person who shall defraud another by false pretenses or fraudulent acts executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud. It is committed by using fictitious name, or by pretending to possess power, influence, qualifications, property, credit, agency, business or imaginary transactions, or by means of other similar deceits. Rosita Sy vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 183879, April 14, 2010

Estafa; illegal recruitment. Illegal recruitment and estafa cases may be filed simultaneously or separately. The filing of charges for illegal recruitment does not bar the filing of estafa, and vice versa. The acquittal of the accused in the illegal recruitment case does not prove that she is not guilty of estafa. Illegal recruitment and estafa are entirely different offenses and neither one necessarily includes or is necessarily included in the other. A person who is convicted of illegal recruitment may, in addition, be convicted of estafa under Article 315, paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code. In the same manner, a person acquitted of illegal recruitment may be held liable for estafa. Double jeopardy will not set in because illegal recruitment is malum prohibitum, in which there is no necessity to prove criminal intent, whereas estafa is malum in se, in the prosecution of which, proof of criminal intent is necessary. Rosita Sy vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 183879, April 14, 2010

Estafa; ways of commission. Swindling or estafa is punishable under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code. The three ways of committing are: (1) with unfaithfulness or abuse of confidence; (2) by means of false pretenses or fraudulent acts; or (3) through fraudulent means. The three ways of committing estafa may be reduced to two, i.e., (1) by means of abuse of confidence; or (2) by means of deceit. Rosita Sy vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 183879, April 14, 2010

Execution of deeds by violence; elements. Petitioners disown the letter-agreement alleging that they were supposedly forced into signing, such that this resulted in a violation of Article 298 of the Revised Penal Code (Execution of Deeds by means of Violence or Intimidation). However, three elements must concur in order for an offender to be held liable under Article 298: (1) that the offender has intent to defraud another; (2) that the offender compels him to signexecute, or deliver any public instrument or document;(3) that the compulsion is by means of violence or intimidation. The element of intent to defraud is not present because, even if, initially, as claimed by petitioners, they were forced to sign the letter-agreement, petitioners made claims based thereon and invoked the provisions thereof. In fact, petitioners wanted respondents to honor the letter-agreement and to pay rentals for the use of the ABS-CBN facilities.  By doing so, petitioners effectively, although they were careful not to articulate this fact, affirmed their signatures in this letter-agreement. ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. et al, vs. Office of the Ombudsman, G.R. No. 133347, April 23, 2010

Execution of deeds by violence; ratification of deed as a defense. True, ratification is primarily a principle in our civil law on contracts. Yet, their subsequent acts in negotiating for the rentals of the facilities ― which translate into ratification of the letter-agreement ― cannot be disregarded simply because ratification is a civil law concept. The claims of petitioners must be consistent and must, singularly, demonstrate respondents’ culpability for the crimes they are charged with. Sadly, petitioners failed in this regard because, to reiterate, they effectively ratified and advanced the validity of this letter-agreement in their claim against the estate of Benedicto. ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. et al, vs. Office of the Ombudsman, G.R. No. 133347, April 23, 2010

Homicide; damages. On the amount of damages, civil indemnity must be awarded to the heirs of the victim without need of proof other than the fact that a crime was committed resulting in the death of the victim and that the accused was responsible therefor.  An award for the loss of earning capacity of the victim may also be granted.  The prosecution in this case satisfactorily proved the victim’s annual income.  However, it was erroneous for the trial court and the appellate court to award actual damages for the expenses incurred for the death of the victim.  Pursuant to the records of the instant case, the Supreme Court did not find evidence to support the plea for actual damages.   The expenses incurred in connection with the death, wake and burial of the victim cannot be sustained without any tangible document to support such claim.   While expenses were incurred in connection with the death of victim, actual damages cannot be awarded as they are not supported by receipts. In lieu of actual damages, the heirs of the victim can still be awarded temperate damages.  When pecuniary loss has been suffered but the amount cannot, from the nature of the case, be proven with certainty, temperate damages may be recovered.   Temperate damages may be allowed in cases where from the nature of the case, definite proof of pecuniary loss cannot be adduced, although the court is convinced that the aggrieved party suffered some pecuniary loss. Moral damages was correctly awarded to the heirs of the victim without need of proof other than the fact that a crime was committed resulting in the death of the victim and that the accused was responsible therefor. An award of P50,000.00 as moral damages conforms to existing jurisprudence. Roño Seguritan y Jara vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 172896. April 19, 2010

Homicide; penalty. The penalty for homicide under Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code is reclusion temporal the range of which is from 12 years and one day to 20 years. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the penalty next lower in degree is prision mayor the range of which is from six years and one day to 12 years.  In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that the mitigating circumstance of no intention to commit so grave a wrong as that committed, attended the commission of the crime.  Thus, it affirmed the appellate court’s imposition of the indeterminate penalty of six years and one day of prision mayor, as minimum, to 12 years and one day of reclusion temporal, as maximum. Roño Seguritan y Jara vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 172896, April 19, 2010

Physical injuries; intent to kill. The principal and essential element of attempted or frustrated murder is the intent on the party of the assailant to take the life of the person attacked. Such intent must be proved in a clear or evident manner to exclude every possible doubt as to the homicidal intent of the aggressor. In the instant case, the intent to kill the victim could not be inferred from the surrounding circumstances. Petitioner only shot the victim once and did not hit any vital part of the latter’s body. If he intended to kill him, he should have ran him over with the car. Favorably to petitioner, the inference that intent to kill existed should not be drawn in the absence of circumstances sufficient to prove this fact beyond reasonable doubt. Hence, the crime is not attempted murder, but physical injuries only. Engr. Carlito Pentecostes Jr. vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 167766, April 7, 2010

Rape; damages. In rape cases, it is proper to award the amounts of P75,000.00 as civil indemnity and another P75,000.00 as moral damages for each count of rape, pursuant to prevailing jurisprudence. However, an award of exemplary damages must be increased from P25,000.00 to P30,000.00. People of the Philippines vs. Rogelio Asis y Lacson, G.R. No. 179935. April 19, 2010

Rape; damages. Civil indemnity and moral damages are separately granted in rape cases without need of proof other than the commission of the crime. Civil indemnity is mandatorily awarded to the rape victim on the finding that rape was committed. It is in the nature of actual or compensatory damages. Similarly, moral damages are automatically awarded to rape victims without need of pleading or proof; it is assumed that a rape victim actually suffered moral injuries, entitling her (victim) to this award. That the victim suffered trauma, with mental, physical, and psychological suffering, is too obvious to still require recital at the trial by the victim, since the Supreme Court assume and acknowledge such agony as a gauge of her (victim’s) credibility. People of the Philippines vs. Emeldo “Pamentolan” Obina, et al., G.R. No. 186540, April 14, 2010

Rape; elements. The Revised Penal Code defines statutory rape as sexual intercourse with a girl below 12 years old.  The two elements of statutory rape are: (1) that the accused had carnal knowledge of a woman; and (2) that the woman was below 12 years of age. Statutory rape departs from the usual modes of committing rape. What the law punishes in statutory rape is carnal knowledge of a woman below twelve (12) years old. Thus, force, intimidation and physical evidence of injury are not relevant considerations; the only subject of inquiry is the age of the woman and whether carnal knowledge took place. People of the Philippines vs. Crizaldo Pacheco y Villanueva, G.R. No. 187742, April 20, 2010

2.     Special Laws

R.A. 7610; Anti-Child Abuse Law. The essential elements under Sec. 5(b) of R.A. 7610, which defines and penalizes acts of lasciviousness committed against a child, are: (i) the accused commits the act of sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct; (ii) the said act is performed with a child exploited in prostitution or subjected to other sexual abuse; and (iii) the child, whether male or female, is below eighteen (18) years of age. The first element was clearly shown beyond reasonable doubt that the accused inserted his finger into AAA’s vagina with lewd designs as inferred from the act itself. The second element was likewise present since AAA was sexually abused as she was coerced or intimidated by the accused. Finally, it is not denied that AAA was a minor when the accused molested her. People of the Philippines vs. Edwin Dalipe, G.R. No. 187154, April 23, 2010.

R.A. 9165; Dangerous Drugs Act; evidence. The Supreme Court in this case emphasized that non-compliance with the requirements set forth in Republic Act No. 9165 on the custody and disposition of confiscated or seized drugs, under justifiable grounds, shall not render void and invalid the seizures and custody of said items as long as the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending officers. The records of the instant case would show that the integrity and evidentiary value of the drugs seized from accused were properly preserved and safeguarded. In this case, the plastic sachet of shabu was properly marked before a letter-request was prepared for the crime laboratory to conduct the examination. From the time the illegal drug was seized from the accused until the time the chemical examination was conducted thereon, its integrity was preserved.  It was not shown to have been contaminated in any manner.  Its identity, quantity and quality remained untarnished, and was sufficiently established. Besides, the integrity of the evidence is presumed to be preserved unless there is a showing of bad faith, ill will, or proof that the evidence has been tampered with.  The accused bears the burden of proving that the evidence was tampered or meddled with to overcome the presumption of regularity in the handling of exhibits by public officers and the presumption that public officers properly discharged their duties. Arnel Balarbar y Blasora vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 187483, April 14, 2010

R.A. 9165; Illegal possession of drugs; elements. The elements of illegal possession of dangerous drugs are: (1) the accused is in possession of an item or object which is identified to be a prohibited drug; (2) such possession is not authorized by law; and (3) the accused freely and consciously possessed the said drug. In this case, the evidence of the corpus delicti must be established beyond reasonable doubt. The People of the Philippines vs. Paterno Lorenzo, G.R. No. 184760, April 23, 2010

Criminal Procedure

Alibi. It is a well-settled principle in law that the defense of alibi is one of the weakest defenses available to an accused in a criminal case. As it may easily be concocted, alibis are invariably viewed with suspicion, and, as a general rule, crumbles in light of positive identification of the offender by truthful witnesses. Conversely however, the Supreme Court, in more than one occasion, held that the defense of alibi may acquire commensurate strength where the witnesses have made no positive and proper identification of the offender. This is because the inherent weakness of alibi as a defense does not operate to relieve the prosecution of its responsibility to establish the identity of the offender by the same quantum of evidence required for proving the crime itself. However, a simple scrutiny of the contentions raised by the accused in this case will reveal that they are specious at best, and not sufficient to destroy the credibility of his (accused’s) positive identification. People of the Philippines vs. Julian Pajes y Ponda, et al, G.R. No. 184179, April 12, 2010

Conspiracy; elements. Conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it. When a crime is committed under a conspiracy, the liability of all conspirators becomes collective regardless of the extent of their actual participation in the crime. In other words, the act of one becomes the act of all. In determining the existence of conspiracy, direct proof of a previous agreement to commit a crime is not necessary. After all, conspiracy may be inferred from the mode and manner by which the offense is perpetrated or from the very acts of the accused themselves. To support a finding of conspiracy, what is merely required is an unmistakable showing that the collective acts of the accused before, during and after the commission of a felony were all aimed at the same object, one performing one part and the other performing another for the attainment of the same objective; and that their acts, though apparently independent, were in fact concerted and cooperative, indicating closeness of personal association, concerted action and concurrence of sentiments. People of the Philippines vs. Julian Pajes y Ponda, et al., G.R. No. 184179, April 12, 2010

Conspiracy; elements. Accused contends that the mere fact that they boarded the jeepney at the same time does not mean that they acted in conspiracy. This contention was rejected since conspiracy may be deduced from the acts of the appellants before, during and after the commission of the crime which are indicative of a joint purpose, concerted action, and concurrence of sentiments. Here, all three accused boarded the jeepney at the same time; two sat strategically in front of the victim while the other sat behind him; two of them drew out their balisongs and swung the same at the victim; and all hurriedly alighted from the jeepney at the same time. Their original and principal intention was undoubtedly to stage a robber with use of violence. Conspiracy has been established and all of them are liable as co-principals regardless of the manner and extent of their participation since the act of one is the act of all. The People of the Philippines vs. Jonjie Esoy, G.R. No. 185849, April 7, 2010

Conspiracy; elements. The essence of conspiracy is the unity of action and purpose. Its elements, like the physical acts constituting the crime itself, must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. Conspiracy can be inferred from and established by the acts of the accused themselves when said acts point to a joint purpose and design, concerted action and community of interests. However, in determining whether conspiracy exists, it is not sufficient that the attack be joint and simultaneous for simultaneousness does not of itself demonstrate the concurrence of will or unity of action and purpose which are the bases of the responsibility of the assailants. What is determinative is proof establishing that the accused were animated by one and the same purpose. In the instant case, the prosecution failed to establish all the elements of conspiracy beyond reasonable doubt. Rosie Quidet vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 170289, April 8, 2010

Evidence; alibi. The Supreme Court held that a “denial,” if unsubstantiated by clear and convincing evidence, is negative and self-serving evidence, which deserves no weight in law and cannot be given greater evidentiary value over the testimonies of credible witnesses who testify on affirmative matters. In the instant case, accused’s denial does not deserve any consideration given his (accused) positive identification by the victim as her lecherous attacker. People of the Philippines vs. Rogelio Asis y Lacson, G.R. No. 179935, April 19, 2010

Evidence; credibility of rape victim. In the review of rape cases, the credibility of the private complainant is the single most important factor for consideration. The case of the prosecution stands or falls on the credibility of the victim. This rule is in accordance with the intrinsic nature of the crime of rape where only two parties, namely the victim and the accused, are usually involved. In the instant case, the High Court found no basis to overturn the findings of the Regional Trial Court. The testimony of the victim was straightforward, categorical and spontaneous. The victim’s account of her ordeal resonated with sincerity and truthfulness and must prevail over general statements of denial by the accused. People of the Philippines vs. Romeo Miranda, G.R. No. 176634, April 5, 2010

Evidence; credibility of witness. In rape cases, the evaluation of the credibility of witnesses is addressed to the sound discretion of the trial judge whose conclusion thereon deserves much weight and respect, because the judge has the opportunity to observe them on the stand and ascertain whether they are telling the truth or not. The Supreme Court has long adhered to the rule that findings of the trial court on the credibility of witnesses and their testimonies are accorded great respect unless it overlooked substantial facts and circumstances, which if considered, would materially affect the result of the case. An accused could justifiably be convicted based solely on the credible testimony of the victim. People of the Philippines vs. Rogelio Asis y Lacson, G.R. No. 179935, April 19, 2010

Evidence; findings of fact of trial court not disturbed. The appellate court will generally not disturb the assessment of the trial court on factual matters considering that the latter as a trier of facts, is in a better position to appreciate the same. Further, it is settled that findings of fact of the trial court are accorded greatest respect by the appellate court absent any abuse of discretion. There being no abuse of discretion in the instant case, the Supreme Court affirmed the factual findings of the trial court.  Roño Seguritan y Jara vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 172896, April 19, 2010

Evidence; minority of rape victim. In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that the minority of the rape victim was satisfactorily established by the prosecution. The age of the minor when she was raped by her own father was properly alleged in the informations. While the evidence of the prosecution consisted mainly of the victim’s testimony, the Supreme Court held that the express admission by the accused as regards the age of the victim was sufficient to establish her (victim’s) minority. People of the Philippines vs. Rogelio Asis y Lacson, G.R. No. 179935, April 19, 2010

Evidence; minority of rape victim. The guidelines in appreciating the age of the victim, either as an element of the crime or as a qualifying circumstance are: (1) The best evidence to prove the age of the offended party is an original or certified true copy of the certificate of live birth of such party; (2) In the absence of a certificate of live birth, similar authentic documents such as baptismal certificate and school records which show the date of birth of the victim would suffice to prove age; (3) If the certificate of live birth or authentic document is shown to have been lost or destroyed or otherwise unavailable, the testimony, if clear and credible, of the victim’s mother or a member of the family either by affinity or consanguinity who is qualified to testify on matters respecting pedigree such as the exact age or date of birth of the offended party pursuant to Section 40, Rule 130 of the Rules on Evidence shall be sufficient under the following circumstances: a. If the victim is alleged to be below 3 years of age and what is sought to be proved is that she is less than 7 years old; b. If the victim is alleged to be below 7 years of age and what is sought to be proved is that she is less than 12 years old; c. If the victim is alleged to be below 12 years of age and what is sought to be proved is that she is less than 18 years old. (4.) In the absence of a certificate of live birth, authentic document or the testimony of the victim’s mother or relatives concerning the victim’s age, the complainant’s testimony will suffice provided that it is expressly and clearly admitted by the accused; (5.) It is the prosecution that has the burden of proving the age of the offended party. The failure of the accused to object to the testimonial evidence regarding age shall not be taken against him; (6.) The trial court should always make a categorical finding as to the age of the victim. People of the Philippines vs. Rogelio Asis y Lacson, G.R. No. 179935. April 19, 2010

Evidence; rape. The Supreme Court reiterated its previous rulings that in prosecuting rape cases, the eloquent testimony of the victim, coupled with the medical findings attesting to her non-virgin state, should be enough to confirm the truth of her charges. People of the Philippines vs. Crizaldo Pacheco y Villanueva, G.R. No. 187742, April 20, 2010

Evidence; rape. Accused contend that AAA was never sexually abused because the medico-legal findings showed that there were no signs of swelling on her vagina when she was examined. However, the Court stated that the lack of lacerated wounds does not negate sexual intercourse. A freshly broken hymen is not an essential element of rape. Even the fact that the hymen of the victim is still intact does not rule out rape since research show that the hymen may not be torn despite repeated coitus. In any case, for rape to be consummated, full penetration is not necessary. It suffices that there is proof of the entrance of the male organ into the labia of the pudendum of the female organ. People of the Philippines vs. Romulo Garcia, G. R. No. 177740, April 5, 2010

Evidence rape; proof beyond reasonable doubt. Appellant claimed that the fact that he was wearing a bloodstained shirt did not mean that he committed the crime charged. He alleges that if he was guilty, he would have not have helped in searching for AAA’s body. However, his conviction was upheld by the High Court stating that the requirement of proof beyond reasonable doubt in criminal law does not mean such a degree of proof as to exclude the possibility of error and produce absolute certainty. Only moral certainty is required. Direct evidence is not a condition sine qua non to prove the guilt of an accused beyond reasonable doubt for in the absence of direct evidence, the prosecution may resort to adducing circumstantial evidence, as in this case. People of the Philippines vs. Tirso Sace, G.R. No. 178063, April 5, 2010

Information; substitution of information. Contrary to petitioner’s contention, there was no substitution in the instant case. The information dated August 17, 2007 charged the same offense, that is, violation of Sec. 3(e) or R.A. 3019. The use of the disjunctive term “or” under Sec. 3(e) connotes that either act of (i) causing undue injury to any party, including the Government or (ii) giving any private party unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of one’s function qualifies as a violation of Sec. 3(e). This does not indicate that each mode constitutes a distinct offense, but rather, that an accused may be charged under either mode or under both. Thus, petitioner’s reliance on Teehankee vs. Madayag is not applicable there being no substitution of information there being no change in the nature of the offense charged. Quintin Saludaga, et al. vs. Sandiganbayan, 4th Division, et al, G.R. No. 184537, April 23, 2010

Ombudsman; probable cause. The Ombudsman has discretion to determine whether a criminal case, given its facts and circumstances, should be filed or not.  He may dismiss the complaint forthwith should he find it to be insufficient in form and substance, or should he find it otherwise, to continue with the inquiry; or he may proceed with the investigation if, in his view, the complaint is in due and proper form and substance. In the present case, the Office of the Ombudsman did not find probable cause that would warrant the filing of Information against respondents. Roberto B. Kalao vs. Office of the Ombudsman, G.R. No. 158189, April 23, 2010

Ombudsman; probable cause. Probable cause, for purposes of filing a criminal information, has been defined as such facts as are sufficient to engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed and that respondents are probably guilty thereof.  The determination of its existence lies within the discretion of the prosecuting officers after conducting a preliminary investigation upon complaint of an offended party. Probable cause is meant such set of facts and circumstances which would lead a reasonably discrete and prudent man to believe that the offense charged in the information, or any offense included therein, has been committed by the person sought to be arrested.  Unless it is shown that the questioned acts were done in a capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment evidencing a clear case of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, the Supreme Court will not interfere in the findings of probable cause determined by the Ombudsman. Roberto B. Kalao vs. Office of the Ombudsman, G.R. No. 158189, April 23, 2010

Trial; due process. The accused contends that he was deprived of his constitutional right to an impartial tribunal, quoting extensively the sarcastic remarks that the trial court made during the hearing. However, the Supreme Court stated that although the trial judge might have made improper remarks and comments, the same did not amount to a denial of his right to due process or his right to an impartial trial. A perusal of the transcript as a whole would show that the remarks do not reflect any partiality on the trial court. The remarks were not made out of context. Most probably, the trial judge was peeved at the strategy adopted by the accused. The trial judge cannot be faulted for having made those remarks, notwithstanding the sarcastic tone it impressed. Sarcasm alone cannot lead us to conclude that the judge had taken the side of the prosecution. People of the Philippines vs. Benancio Mortera, G.R. No. 188104, April 23, 2010

Witnesses; credibility. As a rule, findings of the trial court on the credibility of witnesses and of their testimonies are accorded great respect, unless the trial court overlooked substantial facts and circumstances, which, if considered, would materially affect the result of the case. In criminal cases, the evaluation of the credibility of witnesses is addressed to the sound discretion of the trial judge, whose conclusion thereon deserves much weight and respect, because the judge has the direct opportunity to observe them on the stand and ascertain if they are telling the truth or not. This deference to the trial court’s appreciation of the facts and of the credibility of witnesses is consistent with the principle that when the testimony of a witness meets the test of credibility, that alone is sufficient to convict the accused. This is especially true when the factual findings of the trial court are affirmed by the appellate court. The rule finds an even more stringent application where said findings are sustained by the Court of Appeals. People of the Philippines vs. Emeldo “Pamentolan” Obina, et al, G.R. No. 186540, April 14, 2010

(Lindy thanks Nuj Dumbrigue and Hann Sevilla for their help in preparing this post.)

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