October 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

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

1. REVISED PENAL CODE

Murder; penalty for minors. Under Article 248 of the RPC, as amended by RA 7659, the penalty for murder is reclusion perpetua to death, but reclusion perpetua was not the correct penalty for Monreal due to his being a minor over 15 but under 18 years of age. The RTC and the CA did not appreciate Monreal’s minority at the time of the commission of the murder probably because his birth certificate was not presented at the trial. Yet, it cannot be doubted that Monreal was a minor below 18 years of age when the crime was committed on April 18, 1994. Firstly, his counter-affidavit executed on June 30 1994 stated that he was 17 years of age. Secondly, the police blotter recording his arrest mentioned that he was 17 years old at the time of his arrest on May 18, 1994. Thirdly, Villafe’s affidavit dated June 29, 1994 averred that Monreal was a minor on the date of the incident. Fourthly, as RTC’s minutes of hearing dated March 9, 1999 showed, Monreal was 22 years old when he testified on direct examination on March 9, 1999, which meant that he was not over 18 years of age when he committed the crime. And, fifthly, Mirandilla described Monreal as a teenager and young looking at the time of the incident. Salvador Atizado and Salvador Monreal vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 173822, October 13, 2010

Murder; penalty for minors. Under Section 7 of RA 9344, also known as the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, the age of a child may be determined from the child’s birth certificate, baptismal certificate or any other pertinent documents. In the absence of these documents, age may be based on information from the child himself/herself, testimonies of other persons, the physical appearance of the child and other relevant evidence. In case of doubt as to the age of the child, it shall be resolved in his/her favor. Thus, pursuant to Article 68 (2) of the RPC, the penalty next lower than that prescribed by law is imposed. Based on Article 61 (2) of the RPC, reclusion temporal is the penalty next lower than reclusion perpetua to death. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law and Article 64 of the RPC, therefore, the range of the penalty of imprisonment imposable on Monreal was prision mayor in any of its periods, as the minimum period, to reclusion temporal in its medium period, as the maximum period. Accordingly, his proper indeterminate penalty is from six years and one day of prision mayor, as the minimum period, to 14 years, eight months, and one day of reclusion temporal, as the maximum period.  Salvador Atizado and Salvador Monreal vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 173822, October 13, 2010

Murder; treachery. Treachery exists when an offender commits any of the crimes against persons, employing means, methods or forms in the execution of which tend directly and specially to ensure its execution, without risk to himself, arising from the defense which the offended party might make. The essence in treachery is the sudden and unexpected attack by the aggressor on the unsuspecting victim, depriving the latter of any real chance to defend oneself, ensuring the attack without risk to the aggressor, and without the slightest provocation on the part of the victim. And this is exactly what happened in this case as testified by the witness, Obamen. According to her, Kinudalan was just seated at his own table when Asis got up, approached him and suddenly stabbed him four times. Obviously, even with a gun tucked in his waist, Kinudalan had no opportunity at all to defend himself. In fact, the gun that Asis was so afraid of was recovered from the body of Kinudalan still tucked in his waist. People of the Philippines vs. Astro Astrolabio Asis, etc., G.R. No. 191194, October 20, 2010

Rape; affidavit of desistance. AAA purportedly executed an Affidavit of Desistance wherein she stated that she was not raped by accused-appellant and that she no longer intends to pursue the cases filed against accused-appellant. During the hearing, she explained that her own mother forced her to execute the affidavit upon threat of harm. Accused-appellant claims that the instant case should have been dismissed by the trial court, considering that AAA had executed an affidavit of desistance exonerating accused-appellant from the crimes charged.  The Court ruled that AAA’s purported Affidavit of Desistance cannot cause the dismissal of the case since the affidavit was executed after the case had already been instituted.  Thus, the Court already had acquired jurisdiction over the case and control over the proceedings.  People of the Philippines vs. Demetrio Salazar, G.R. No. 181900, October 20, 2010

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