September 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

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

Criminal Law

1. Revised Penal Code

Attempted rape; acts of lasciviousness. Insisting that there was no attempted rape, petitioner argues that AAA merely testified that he told her that they would have sexual intercourse, and that “this is not equivalent to carnal knowledge, or even an attempt to have carnal knowledge” since there is no showing that he had commenced or attempted to insert his penis into her sexual organ before she fled. Disagreeing with the accused, the Court ruled that while rape and acts of lasciviousness have the same nature, they are fundamentally different. For in rape, there is the intent to lie with a woman, whereas in acts of lasciviousness, this element is absent. Petitioner’s acts, as narrated by AAA, far from being mere obscene or lewd, indisputably show that he intended to have and was bent on consummating carnal knowledge of AAA. Jaren Tibong y Culla-ag vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 191000, September 15, 2010.

Complex Crime; penalty. ART. 48 of the Revised Penal Code provides that when a single act constitutes two or more grave or less grave felonies, or when an offense is a necessary means for committing the other, the penalty for the most serious crime shall be imposed, the same to be applied in its maximum period. Appellant’s single act of detonating an explosive device may quantitatively constitute a cluster of several separate and distinct offenses, yet these component criminal offenses should be considered only as a single crime in law on which a single penalty is imposed because the offender was impelled by a single criminal impulse which shows his lesser degree of perversity. Thus, applying the aforesaid provision of law, the maximum penalty for the most serious crime, which is murder, is death. Pursuant, however, to Republic Act No. 9346 which prohibits the imposition of the death penalty, the appellate court properly reduced the penalty of death which it previously imposed upon the appellant to reclusion perpetua. People of the Philippines vs. Reynaldo Barde, G.R. No. 183094, September 22, 2010.

Liability of accused; effect of death. The death of the accused during the pendency of his appeal with the Supreme Court totally extinguished his criminal liability. Such extinction is based on Article 89 of the Revised Penal Code. The death of the accused likewise extinguished the civil liability that was based exclusively on the crime for which the accused was convicted (i.e., ex delicto), because no final judgment of conviction was yet rendered by the time of his death. Only civil liability predicated on a source of obligation other than the delict survived the death of the accused, which the offended party can recover by means of a separate civil action. People of the Philippines vs.. Bringas Bunay y Dam-at, G.R. No. 171268, September 14, 2010.

Parricide; prejudicial question. There is a prejudicial question when a civil action and a criminal action are both pending, and there exists in the civil action an issue which must be preemptively resolved before the criminal action may proceed because howsoever the issue raised in the civil action is resolved would be determinative of the guilt or innocence of the accused in the criminal case. Joselito R. Pimentel vs. Maria Chrysantine L. Pimentel and People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 172060, September 13, 2010.

Parricide; prejudicial question. The annulment of marriage is not a prejudicial question in a criminal case for parricide. The relationship between the offender and the victim is a key element in the crime of parricide, which punishes any person “who shall kill his father, mother, or child, whether legitimate or illegitimate, or any of his ascendants or descendants, or his spouse.” The relationship between the offender and the victim distinguishes the crime of parricide from murder or homicide. However, the issue in the annulment of marriage is not similar or intimately related to the issue in the criminal case for parricide. Further, the relationship between the offender and the victim is not determinative of the guilt or innocence of the accused. Joselito R. Pimentel vs. Maria Chrysantine L. Pimentel and People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 172060, September 13, 2010.

Perjury; litis pendentia. Since perjury requires a willful and deliberate assertion of a falsehood in a statement under oath or in an affidavit, and the statement or affidavit in question here is respondent’s verification and certification against forum shopping, it then becomes necessary to consider the elements of forum shopping to determine whether or not respondent has committed perjury. In other words, since the act of respondent allegedly constituting perjury consists in the statement under oath which he made in the certification of non-forum shopping, the existence of perjury should be determined vis-à-vis the elements of forum shopping. Forum shopping exists when the elements of litis pendentia are present or where a final judgment in one case will amount to res judicata in another. Litis pendentia requires the concurrence of the following requisites: (1) identity of parties, or at least such parties as those representing the same interests in both actions; (2) identity of rights asserted and reliefs prayed for, the reliefs being founded on the same facts; and (3) identity with respect to the two preceding particulars in the two cases, such that any judgment that may be rendered in the pending case, regardless of which party is successful, would amount to res judicata in the other case. Philip S. Yu vs. Hernan G. Lim, G.R. No. 182291, September 22, 2010.

Perjury; litis pendentia. What is pivotal in determining whether forum shopping exists or not is the vexation caused the courts and parties-litigants by a party who asks different courts and/or administrative agencies to rule on the same or related cases and/or grant the same or substantially the same reliefs, in the process creating the possibility of conflicting decisions being rendered by the different courts and/or administrative agencies upon the same issues. A perusal of the two cases would show that while it involves the same res, it does not involve the same parties or rights or relief prayed for. Clearly, it cannot be said that respondent committed perjury when he failed to disclose in his Certification Against Forum Shopping the previous filing of the cadastral case. Philip S. Yu vs. Hernan G. Lim, G.R. No. 182291, September 22, 2010.

Qualified Rape. Under Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, the crime of qualified rape is committed when the rape is committed in full view of the spouse, parent, any of the children or other relatives within the third civil degree of consanguinity. People of the Philippines vs. Juanito Cabigquez y Alastra, G.R. No. 185708. September 29, 2010.

Rape. Appellant having admitted engaging in carnal knowledge with AAA, the only issue for consideration is whether the sexual act was done through force, violence or intimidation. As did the trial and appellate courts, the Supreme Court was not persuaded by appellant’s claim of consensuality. The findings and conclusion of the doctor who examined AAA, along with AAA’s immediate reporting of the incident to the barangay and police authorities before which she at once narrated the details thereof, negate consensuality, and confirm AAA’s claim that the intercourse was committed with intimidation and force. People of the Philippines vs. Jessie Bustillo y Ambal, G.R. No. 187540, September 1, 2010.

Rape; affidavit of desistance. The Court rejected accused’s contention that the affidavit of desistance executed by the victim and her mother belied that he raped the victim. According to the Court, affidavits of desistance are looked with disfavor. The unreliable character of this document is shown by the fact that it is quite incredible that after going through the process of having the accused arrested by the police, positively identifying him as the person who raped her, enduring the humiliation of a physical examination of her private parts, and then repeating her accusations in open court by recounting her anguish, victim would suddenly turn around and declare that after a careful deliberation over the case, she finds that the same does not merit or warrant criminal prosecution. At most the retraction is an afterthought which should not be given probative value. People of the Philippines vs. Roy Alcazar y Miranda, G.R. No. 186494. September 15, 2010.

Rape; affidavit of desistance. It would be a dangerous rule to reject the testimony taken before the court of justice simply because the witness who gave it later on changed his mind for one reason or another. Such a rule would make a solemn trial a mockery and place the investigation at the mercy of unscrupulous witnesses. Because affidavits of retraction can easily be secured from poor and ignorant witnesses, usually for monetary consideration, the Supreme Court has invariably regarded such affidavits as exceedingly unreliable. People of the Philippines vs. Roy Alcazar y Miranda, G.R. No. 186494. September 15, 2010.

Rape; elements. Under Sec. 2 of the Anti-Rape Law of 1997, rape is committed, among others, “[b]y a man who shall have carnal knowledge of a woman” by means of force, threat or intimidation. On the bases of the consistent and forthright testimonies of 13-year-old victim AAA and 12-year-old victim BBB detailing their harrowing experiences that concluded with positive statements that appellant inserted his organ into their private parts, the prosecution has sufficiently established that appellant had carnal knowledge of (1) AAA on or about the first, second and third week of January, 2003 and (2) BBB on or about the last week of April, 2003 and 24 May 2003. The presence of threat and intimidation was likewise established. After every rape, appellant threatened AAA that he would kill her siblings should she report the incidents. Also, in view of their father-daughter relationship, the moral ascendancy of appellant over AAA and BBB can substitute for violence and intimidation. For this reason, appellant’s use of a six-inch long knife to cower BBB in fear and yield her into submission can be considered already a surplusage for the purpose of proving the element of threat or intimidation. People of the Philippines vs. Maximo Olimba, G.R. No. 185008, September 22, 2010.

Rape: inconsistency of statement. Rejecting the accused’s claim that the inconsistencies in AAA’s testimony cast reasonable doubt over his conviction for rape, the Supreme Court held that the variance in AAA’s Salaysay and her oral testimony during direct examination was patently borne out of a young mind’s casual indifference to legal documents and its implications and did not relate to the facts constitutive of the crime charged. For an acquittal to lie, the discrepancies should touch on significant facts which are crucial to the guilt or innocence of an accused. Neither do the minor glitches in AAA’s testimony impair her truthfulness, the test being, whether the testimonies agree on essential facts and whether the respective versions corroborate and substantially coincide with each other so as to make a consistent and coherent whole. Notably, the inconsistencies even strengthened AAA’s credibility, because they eliminate doubts that she had been coached or rehearsed. People of the Philippines vs. Rolly De Guzman, G.R. No. 188352, September 1, 2010.

Robbery with Homicide; elements. Robbery with homicide exists “when a homicide is committed either by reason, or on occasion, of the robbery. To sustain a conviction for robbery with homicide, the prosecution must prove the following elements: (1) the taking of personal property belonging to another; (2) with intent to gain; (3) with the use of violence or intimidation against a person; and (4) on the occasion or by reason of the robbery, the crime of homicide, as used in its generic sense, was committed. A conviction requires certitude that the robbery is the main purpose and objective of the malefactor and the killing is merely incidental to the robbery. The intent to rob must precede the taking of human life but the killing may occur before, during or after the robbery.” Rodel Crisostomo vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 171526, September 1, 2010.

Robbery with Homicide; elements. The following elements must be established for a conviction in the special complex crime of robbery with homicide: 1. The taking of personal property is committed with violence or intimidation against persons; 2. The property taken belongs to another; 3. The taking is with animo lucrandi; and 4. By reason of the robbery or on the occasion thereof, homicide is committed. Essential for conviction of robbery with homicide is proof of a direct relation, an intimate connection between the robbery and the killing, whether the latter be prior or subsequent to the former or whether both crimes are committed at the same time. The prosecution was able to establish that accused-appellants committed robbery with homicide through the totality of their evidence. The first three elements were established when Oliva testified that he saw, and positively identified, accused-appellants taking Gabuya’s property by force and both shooting Gabuya. Gabuya’s death resulting from their attack proves the last element of the complex crime as duly confirmed by the post-mortem report. People of the Philippines vs. Abdul Aminola y Omar and Mike Maitimbang y Abubakar, G.R. No. 178062, September 8, 2010.

Theft; elements. The essential elements of the crime of theft are the following: (1) that there be a taking of personal property; (2) that said property belongs to another; (3) that the taking be done with intent to gain; (4) that the taking be done without the consent of the owner; and (5) that the taking be accomplished without the use of violence or intimidation against persons or force upon things. San Miguel Corporation vs. Bartolome Puzon, Jr., G.R. No. 167567, September 22, 2010.

Theft; elements. Considering that the second element is that the thing taken belongs to another, it is relevant to determine whether ownership of the subject check was transferred to petitioner. The evidence proves that the check was accepted, not as payment, but in accordance with the long-standing policy of SMC to require its dealers to issue postdated checks to cover its receivables. The check was only meant to cover the transaction and in the meantime Puzon was to pay for the transaction by some other means other than the check. This being so, title to the check did not transfer to SMC; it remained with Puzon. The second element of the felony of theft was therefore not established. Petitioner was not able to show that Puzon took a check that belonged to another. Hence, the prosecutor and the DOJ were correct in finding no probable cause for theft. San Miguel Corporation vs. Bartolome Puzon, Jr., G.R. No. 167567, September 22, 2010.

(2)     Special Laws

Dangerous Drugs Act; chain of custody. Non-compliance by the apprehending/buy-bust team with Section 21 of R.A. 9165 is not fatal as long as there is justifiable ground therefor, and as long as the integrity and the evidentiary value of the confiscated/seized items, are properly preserved by the apprehending officer/team. People of the Philippines vs. Nita Eugenio y Pejer G.R. No. 186459. September 1, 2010.

Dangerous Drugs Act; chain of custody. Non-compliance with Section 21 of R.A. 9165 will not render an accused’s arrest illegal or the items seized/confiscated from him inadmissible provided that the prosecution proves that the integrity and evidentiary value of the drugs seized were preserved. In this case, the time of operation was “on or about 8:30 P.M., 13 May 2003.” If the allegedly seized substance-filled sachet was confiscated at 8:30 p.m., it is highly improbable that it was received at the Crime Laboratory at 8:33 P.M or a mere three minutes after the seizure, given that appellant was after his arrest first brought to a hospital for physical check-up. Doubt is thus engendered on whether the object evidence subjected to laboratory examination and presented in court is the same as that allegedly “sold” by appellant. In fine, the prosecution failed to prove the integrity and evidentiary value of the specimen, necessitating the acquittal of the accused. People of the Philippines vs. Nita Eugenio y Pejer G.R. No. 186459. September 1, 2010.

Dangerous Drugs Act; chain of custody. Chain of custody establishes the identity of the subject substance. It requires that testimony be presented about every link in the chain, from the moment the item is seized up to the time it is offered in evidence. When nagging doubts persist on whether the item confiscated is the same specimen examined and established to be prohibited drug, there can be no crime of illegal possession of a prohibited drug. People of the Philippines vs. Julius Gariana y Repollo, G.R. No. 184761. September 8, 2010.

Dangerous Drugs Act; chain of custody. Non-compliance with the requirements of the chain-of-custody rule does not of course necessarily render void and invalid the seizure of the dangerous drugs, provided that there are justifiable grounds to warrant exception therefrom. The prosecution must, therefore, explain the reasons behind the procedural lapses and must show that the integrity and value of the seized evidence had been preserved. In this case, the transcripts of stenographic notes do not show that the trial court tested the credibility of witness PO1 Busico and of his testimony. The trial court’s conviction of appellant, which was affirmed by the appellate court, did not merit the Supreme Court’s affirmance especially considering that the accused’s arrest did not mention the alleged confiscation of the plastic sachets of crystalline substances in his possession. This leaves nagging doubts on its validity in light of the fact that what PO1 Busico merely saw was appellant’s placing of the plastic sachets in his pocket which, without more, does not justify the accused’s conviction. People of the Philippines vs. Julius Gariana y Repollo, G.R. No. 184761. September 8, 2010.

Sale of prohibited drugs; elements. In a prosecution for illegal sale of a prohibited drug, the prosecution must prove the following elements: (1) the identity of the buyer and the seller, the object, and the consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment therefor. All these require evidence that the sale transaction transpired, coupled with the presentation in court of the body or substance of the crime that establishes that a crime has actually been committed. People of the Philippines vs. Jennifer Carin y Donoga @ Mae-Ann, G.R. No. 185378, September 27, 2010.

Criminal Procedure

Acquittal; appeal. In this jurisdiction, after trial on the merits, an acquittal is immediately final and cannot be appealed on the ground of double jeopardy. The only exception where double jeopardy cannot be invoked is where there is a finding of mistrial resulting in a denial of due process. Certiorari will not be issued to cure errors by the trial court in its appreciation of the evidence of the parties, and its conclusions anchored on the said findings and its conclusions of law. People of the Philippines vs. Hon. Sandiganbayan, Abelardo P. Panlaqui, et al., G.R. No. 173396, September 22, 2010.

Acquittal; denial of due process. The instant case involves an alleged error of judgment, not an error of jurisdiction. Petitioner has not convincingly shown that the prosecution has indeed been deprived of due process of law. There is no showing that the trial court hampered the prosecution’s presentation of evidence in any way. On the contrary, the prosecution was given ample opportunity to present its ten witnesses and all necessary documentary evidence. The case was only submitted for decision after the parties had duly rested their case. Respondent trial court clearly stated in its decision which pieces of evidence led it to its conclusion that the project was actually undertaken, justifying payment to the contractor. Clearly, petitioner failed to show that there was mistrial resulting in denial of due process. People of the Philippines vs. Hon. Sandiganbayan, Abelardo P. Panlaqui, et al., G.R. No. 173396, September 22, 2010.

Appeal; failure to file appellant’s brief. Under Sec. 8, Rule 124 of the Rules of Court, a criminal case may be dismissed by the CA motu proprio and with notice to the appellant if the latter fails to file his brief within the prescribed time. The phrase “with notice to the appellant” means that a notice must first be furnished the appellant to show cause why his appeal should not be dismissed. The purpose of such a notice is to give an appellant the opportunity to state the reasons, if any, why the appeal should not be dismissed because of such failure, in order that the appellate court may determine whether or not the reasons, if given, are satisfactory. Gregorio Dimarucot y Garcia vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 183975, September 20, 2010.

Appeal; failure to file appellant’s brief. In the case at bar, there is no showing that petitioner was served with a notice requiring him to show cause why his appeal should not be dismissed for failure to file appellant’s brief. Notwithstanding such absence of notice to the appellant, no grave abuse of discretion was committed by the CA in considering the appeal abandoned with the failure of petitioner to file his appeal brief despite four (4) extensions granted to him and non-compliance to date. Dismissal of appeal by the appellate court sans notice to the accused for failure to prosecute by itself is not an indication of grave abuse. Thus, although it does not appear that the appellate court has given the appellant such notice before dismissing the appeal, if the appellant has filed a motion for reconsideration of, or to set aside, the order dismissing the appeal, in which he stated the reasons why he failed to file his brief on time and the appellate court denied the motion after considering said reasons, the dismissal was held proper. Likewise, where the appeal was dismissed without prior notice, but the appellant took no steps either by himself or through counsel to have the appeal reinstated, such an attitude of indifference and inaction amounts to his abandonment and renunciation of the right granted to him by law to prosecute his appeal. Gregorio Dimarucot y Garcia vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 183975, September 20, 2010.

Arraignment; pendency of second motion for reconsideration with the Ombudsman. The Supreme Court rejected petitioner’s contention that his second motion for reconsideration before the Ombudsman should have suspended his arraignment. According to the Supreme Court, the Rules of Procedure of the Ombudsman allows the filing of an information in court pending a motion for reconsideration of the finding of a probable cause; hence, if the filing of a motion for reconsideration of the resolution finding probable cause cannot bar the filing of the corresponding information, then neither can it bar the arraignment of the accused, which in the normal course of criminal procedure logically follows the filing of the information.Brig Gen. (Ret.) Jose Ramiscal, Jr. vs. Sandiganbayan and People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 172476-99.,September 15, 2010.

Arraignment; pendency of second motion for reconsideration with the Ombudsman. An arraignment is that stage where, in the mode and manner required by the Rules, an accused, for the first time, is granted the opportunity to know the precise charge that confronts him. Under Section 7 of Republic Act No. 8493, otherwise known as the Speedy Trial Act of 1998, the court must proceed with the arraignment of an accused within 30 days from the filing of the information or from the date the accused has appeared before the court in which the charge is pending, whichever is later. Brig Gen. (Ret.) Jose Ramiscal, Jr. vs. Sandiganbayan and People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 172476-99.,September 15, 2010.

Arraignment; pendency of second motion for reconsideration with the Ombudsman. Petitioner failed to show any of the grounds for suspension of arraignment as provided under Section 11, Rule 116 of the Rules of Court, which applies suppletorily in matters not provided under the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman or the Revised Internal Rules of the Sandiganbayan. Thus, the Sandiganbayan committed no error when it proceeded with petitioner’s arraignment, as mandated by Section 7 of RA 8493. Brig Gen. (Ret.) Jose Ramiscal, Jr. vs. Sandiganbayan and People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 172476-99.,September 15, 2010

Evidence; ballistics report. A ballistic report serves only as a guide for the courts in considering the ultimate facts of the case. It would be indispensable if there are no credible eyewitnesses to the crime inasmuch as it is corroborative in nature. The presentation of weapons or the slugs and bullets used and ballistic examination are not prerequisites for conviction. The corpus delicti and the positive identification of accused-appellant as the perpetrator of the crime are more than enough to sustain his conviction. Lenido Lumanog, et al. vs. People of the Philippines/Cesar Fortuna vs. People of the Philippines/People of the Philippines vs. SPO2 Cesar Fortuna y Abudo, et al., G.R. Nos. 182555/G.R. No. 185123/G.R. No. 187745, September 7, 2010

Evidence; ballistics report. Even without a ballistic report, the positive identification by prosecution witnesses is more than sufficient to prove accused’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt. In the instant case, since the identity of the assailant has been sufficiently established, a ballistic report on the slugs can be dispensed with in proving petitioner’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Lenido Lumanog, et al. vs. People of the Philippines/Cesar Fortuna vs. People of the Philippines/People of the Philippines vs. SPO2 Cesar Fortuna y Abudo, et al., G.R. Nos. 182555/G.R. No. 185123/G.R. No. 187745, September 7, 2010

Evidence; credibility of witness. The determination of the credibility of the offended party’s testimony is the most basic consideration in every prosecution for rape. The lone testimony of the victim, if credible, is sufficient to sustain a verdict of conviction. As in most rape cases, the ultimate issue in this case is credibility. In this regard, when the issue is one of credibility of witnesses, appellate courts will generally not disturb the findings of the trial court, considering that the latter is in a better position to decide the question as it heard the witnesses themselves and observed their deportment and manner of testifying during trial. The exceptions to the rule are when such evaluation was reached arbitrarily, or when the trial court overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied some facts or circumstance of weight and substance which could affect the result of the case. None of these circumstances are present in the case at bar to warrant its exception from the coverage of this rule. People of the Philippines vs. Miguelito Malana y Lardisabay, G.R. No. 185716. September 29, 2010

Evidence; credibility of witness. The prosecution has the exclusive prerogative to determine whom to present as witnesses. It need not present each and every witness as long as it meets the quantum of proof necessary to establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. That AAA’s brother was not presented does not thus infirm the case for the prosecution for, among other things, his testimony would have been merely corroborative. It need not be underlined that the weight and sufficiency of evidence are determined by the credibility, nature, and quality of the testimony. That explains why an accused in rape cases may be convicted solely on the basis of the uncorroborated testimony of the victim where such testimony is clear, positive, convincing and consistent with human nature and the normal course of things, as in AAA’s testimony in this case. People of the Philippines vs.  Paterno Lasanas, G.R. No. 183829. September 6, 2010

Evidence; conspiracy. The Supreme Court agreed with appellant Naranjo that the prosecution in this case failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he acted in conspiracy with the other accused. The buy-bust operation was supposedly set-up based on the police informant’s report of illegal activities of “Acas and Arnel.” But the evidence shows that the informant was not familiar with Naranjo. Indeed, the informant got to identify only Babanggol during the buy-bust operation. And it was Babanggol who introduced Naranjo to Alfonso, the poseur-buyer. The Supreme Court ruled that a person’s mere presence when an illegal transaction had taken place does not mean that he was into the conspiracy. People of the Philippines vs. Arnel Babanggol and Cesar Naranjo, G.R. No. 181422. September 15, 2010

Evidence; conspiracy. To be guilty as a conspirator, the accused needs to have done an overt act in pursuit of the crime. While the testimonies of the three other accused were inconsistent in some material points, they all agreed that Naranjo was a mere hired driver. The prosecution did not bother to contradict this. It presented no proof that Naranjo knew of the criminal intentions of the other accused, much less that he adopted the same. All told, nothing in the circumstances of this case can be used to infer that Naranjo was in conspiracy with the other accused. People of the Philippines vs. Arnel Babanggol and Cesar Naranjo, G.R. No. 181422. September 15, 2010

Evidence; lack of formal offer of evidence. The High Court modified the accused’s conviction from qualified rape to simple rape since both medical certificate and AAA’s birth certificate, although marked as exhibits during the pre-trial, were not formally offered in evidence pursuant to Sec. 34, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court. According to the Court, a formal offer is necessary because judges are mandated to rest their findings of facts and their judgment only and strictly upon the evidence offered by the parties at the trial. Its function is to enable the trial judge to know the purpose or purposes for which the proponent is presenting the evidence. On the other hand, this allows opposing parties to examine the evidence and object to its admissibility. People of the Philippines vs. Saturnino Villanueva Vs. General Milling Corporation, G.R. No. 181829, September 1, 2010

Evidence; lack of formal offer of evidence. Documents which may have been identified and marked as exhibits during pre-trial or trial but which were not formally offered in evidence cannot in any manner be treated as evidence. Neither can such unrecognized proof be assigned any evidentiary weight and value pursuant to the express mandate that ‘the court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally offered.’ Consequently, as in this case, any evidence that has not been offered shall be excluded and rejected. People of the Philippines vs. Saturnino Villanueva Vs. General Milling Corporation, G.R. No. 181829, September 1, 2010

Evidence; state witness. Turning an accused into a state witness is not a magic formula that cures all the deficiencies in the prosecution’s evidence. The state witness cannot simply allege everything left unproved and automatically produce a conviction of the crime charged against the remaining accused. Corroboration of the account of the state witness is key. It is in fact a requirement for the discharge of an accused to be a state witness under Section 17, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court that the testimony to be given can be substantially corroborated in its material points. People of the Philippines vs. Feliciano Anabe y Capillan, G.R. No. 179033, September 6, 2010

Evidence; state witness. As an exception to the general rule requiring corroboration, the uncorroborated testimony of a state witness may be sufficient when it is shown to be sincere in itself because it is given unhesitatingly and in a straightforward manner and full of details which, by their nature, could not have been the result of deliberate afterthought. People of the Philippines vs. Feliciano Anabe y Capillan, G.R. No. 179033, September 6, 2010

Evidence; state witness. This exception, however, applies only if the state witness is an eyewitness since the testimony would then be direct evidence. Section 17 of Rule 119 actually assumes that the testimony of the accused sought to be discharged as a state witness would constitute direct evidence (i.e., that he or she is an eyewitness) in that it requires that there is no other direct evidence, except the testimony of the said accused. Where, as here, the state witness is not an eyewitness, the testimony partakes of the nature of circumstantial evidence. The rule on circumstantial evidence thus applies. If the testimony is uncorroborated, it does not suffice. It cannot merit full credence. People of the Philippines vs. Feliciano Anabe y Capillan, G.R. No. 179033, September 6, 2010

Evidence; testimony of witness. The fact is that AAA’s testimony is not flawless. However, it is but ordinary for a witness, a rape victim no less, to have some inconsistencies in her statements since not only had the rapes occurred four or five years prior to her testimony but her testimony pertains to facts and details of shameful events that she would rather forget. Truly, if not for the motivation to seek justice for the molestations she had gone through, AAA would choose to bury those details in the deepest recesses of her memory. Moreover, inconsistencies may be attributed to the well-known fact that a courtroom atmosphere can affect the accuracy of the testimony and the manner in which a witness answers questions. Likewise, inconsistencies in the testimony of a rape victim are inconsequential when they refer to minor details that have nothing to do with the essential fact of the commission of the crime — carnal knowledge through force or intimidation. People of the Philippines vs. Elpidio Parohinog Alejandro, G.R. No. 186232, September 27, 2010.

Jurisdiction; Sandiganbayan. The core issue raised in the petition is whether or not the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over a member of the Sangguniang Panlungsod whose salary grade is below 27 and charged with violation of The Auditing Code of the Philippines. The Court held in the affirmative, citing the provisions of R.A. 8249. . People of the Philippines vs. Sandiganbayan and Rolando Plaza, G.R. No. 169004, September 15, 2010

Jurisdiction; Sandiganbayan. Under Section 4 (a) of R.A. 8249, the following offenses are specifically enumerated: violations of R.A. No. 3019, as amended, R.A. No. 1379, and Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII of the Revised Penal Code. In order for the Sandiganbayan to acquire jurisdiction over the said offenses, the latter must be committed by, among others, officials of the executive branch occupying positions of regional director and higher, otherwise classified as Grade 27 and higher, of the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989. People of the Philippines vs. Sandiganbayan and Rolando Plaza, G.R. No. 169004, September 15, 2010

Jurisdiction; Sandiganbayan. However, the law is not devoid of exceptions. Those that are classified as Grade 26 and below may still fall within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan provided that they hold the positions thus enumerated by the same law. Particularly and exclusively enumerated are provincial governors, vice-govenors, members of the sangguniang panlalawigan, and provincial treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other provincial department heads; city mayors, vice-mayors, members of the sangguniang panlungsod, city treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other city department heads; officials of the diplomatic service occupying the position as consul and higher; Philippine army and air force colonels, naval captains, and all officers of higher rank; PNP chief superintendent and PNP officers of higher rank; City and provincial prosecutors and their assistants, and officials and prosecutors in the Office of the Ombudsman and special prosecutor; and presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of government-owned or controlled corporations, state universities or educational institutions or foundations. In connection therewith, Section 4 (b) of the same law provides that other offenses or felonies committed by public officials and employees mentioned in subsection (a) in relation to their office also fall under the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. People of the Philippines vs. Sandiganbayan and Rolando Plaza, G.R. No. 169004, September 15, 2010.

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

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