Here are selected January 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:
1. REVISED PENAL CODE
Estafa; probable cause. East Asia acted as dealer of commercial papers and custodian of the same on Zamora’s behalf. This is clear from the terms of its sale invoice and custodian receipt. East Asia acquired the commercial papers in trust and was obliged to deliver them and their proceeds to Zamora, failing which, its responsible officers could be prosecuted for estafa. However, there was no probable cause to charge the respondents with estafa. Zamora failed to identify the particular officers of East Asia who were responsible for the misappropriation or conversion of her funds. She simply assumed that since she had been communicating with them in connection with her investments, they all had a part in misappropriating her money or converting them to their use. Many of them were evidently mere employees doing work for East Asia. She did not submit proof of their specific criminal role in the transactions she assailed. It is settled that only corporate officers who actually had part in the crime may be held liable for it. Virginia A. Zamora v. Jose Armado L. Eduque, et al, G.R. No. 174005, January 25, 2012.
Estafa through falsification; presumption of authorship. Metrobank urges the application of the presumption of authorship against Tobias based on his having offered the duplicate copy of the spurious title to secure the loan, and posits that there is no requirement that the presumption shall apply only when there is absence of a valid explanation from the person found to have possessed, used and benefited from the forged document. Metrobank’s theory was not sustained here. First, a presumption affects the burden of proof that is normally lodged in the State. The effect is to create the need of presenting evidence to overcome the prima facie case that shall prevail in the absence of proof to the contrary. As such, a presumption of law is material during the actual trial of the criminal case where in the establishment thereof the party against whom the inference is made should adduce evidence to rebut the presumption and demolish the prima facie case. This is not so in a preliminary investigation, where the investigating prosecutor only determines the existence of a prima facie case that warrants the prosecution of a criminal case in court. Second, the presumption of authorship, being disputable, may be accepted and acted upon where no evidence upholds the contention for which it stands. It is not correct to say, consequently, that the investigating prosecutor will try to determine the existence of the presumption during preliminary investigation, and then to disregard the evidence offered by the respondent. Moreover, the presumption that whoever possesses or uses a spurious document is its forger applies only in the absence of a satisfactory explanation. Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. (Metrobank), represented by Rosella A. Santiago v. Antonio O. Tobias III, G.R. No. 177780, January 25, 2012.
Murder; conspiracy. Conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit the felony. Proof of the actual agreement to commit the crime need not be direct because conspiracy may be implied or inferred from their acts. Here, conspiracy between the accused can be inferred from the mode and manner in which they perpetrated the killings. PO2 Valdez cannot now avoid criminal responsibility for the fatal shooting by Edwin of Ferdinand and Joselito. Both accused were convincingly shown to have acted in concert to achieve a common purpose of assaulting their unarmed victims with their guns. Their acting in concert was manifest not only from their going together to the betting station on board a single motorcycle, but also from their joint attack that PO2 Valdez commenced by firing successive shots at Moises and immediately followed by Edwin’s shooting of Ferdinand and Joselito one after the other. It was also significant that they fled together on board the same motorcycle as soon as they had achieved their common purpose. To be a conspirator, one need not have to participate in every detail of the execution; neither did he have to know the exact part performed by his co-conspirator in the execution of the criminal acts. Accordingly, the existence of the conspiracy between PO2 Valdez and Edwin was properly inferred and proved through their acts that were indicative of their common purpose and community of interest. People of the Philippines v. PO2 Eduardo Valdez and Edwin Valdez, G.R. No. 175602, January 18, 2012.
Murder; conspiracy and abuse of superior strength. Conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it. Conspiracy is either express or implied. Thus, the State does not always have to prove the actual agreement to commit the crime in order to establish conspiracy, for it is enough to show that the accused acted in concert to achieve a common purpose. Conspiracy may be deduced from the mode and manner of the commission of the offense, or from the acts of the accused before, during and after the commission of the crime indubitably pointing to a joint purpose, a concert of action and a community of interest. Where the acts of the accused collectively and individually demonstrate the existence of a common design towards the accomplishment of the same unlawful purpose, conspiracy is evident, and all the perpetrators will be liable as principals. Abuse of superior strength is an aggravating circumstance that qualifies the killing of a person to murder. It is present if the accused purposely uses excessive force out of proportion to the means of defense available to the person attacked, or if there is notorious inequality of forces between the victim and aggressor, and the latter takes advantage of superior strength. Superiority in strength may refer to the number of aggressors and weapons used. People of the Philippines v. Melanio Del Castillo y Vargas, et al, G.R. No. 169084, January 18, 2012.
Murder; conspiracy and abuse of superior strength. The existence of conspiracy and abuse of superior strength were appreciated in this case. The accused, armed with bolos, surrounded and attacked the victims, and pursued whoever of the latter attempted to escape from their assault. Thereafter, the accused, except Hermogenes, fled their homes and together hastily proceeded to Antipolo, Rizal. Their individual and collective acts prior to, during and following the attack on the victims reflected a common objective of killing the latter. Thereby, all the accused, without exception, were co-conspirators. A gross disparity of forces existed between the accused and the victims. Not only did the six accused outnumber the three victims but the former were armed with bolos while the latter were unarmed. The accused clearly used their superiority in number and arms to ensure the killing of the victims. Abuse of superior strength is attendant if the accused took advantage of their superiority in number and their being armed with bolos. Accordingly, the crimes committed were three counts of murder. People of the Philippines v. Melanio Del Castillo y Vargas, et al, G.R. No. 169084, January 18, 2012.
Murder; elements. To be convicted of murder, the following must concur: (1) a person was killed; (2) the accused killed him; (3) the killing was attended by any of the qualifying circumstances enumerated in Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code; and (4) the killing does not constitute parricide or infanticide. People of the Philippines v. Eduardo Dollendo, et al, Nestor Medice, appellant, G.R. No. 181701, January 18, 2012.
Quasi delict; vicarious liability. Orix cannot point fingers at the alleged real owner to exculpate itself from vicarious liability under Article 2180 of the Civil Code. Regardless of whoever Orix claims to be the actual owner of the Fuso by reason of a contract of sale, it is nevertheless primarily liable for the damages or injury the truck registered under it have caused. Besides, the registered owners have a right to be indemnified by the real or actual owner of the amount that they may be required to pay as damage for the injury caused to the plaintiff, which Orix rightfully acknowledged by filing a third-party complaint against the owner of the Fuso, Manuel. Orix Metro Leasing and Finance Corporation (Formerly Consolidated Orix Leasing and Finance) v. Minors: Dennis, Mylene, Melanie and Marikris, All surnamed Mangalinao y Dizon, et al, Sonny Li and Antonio Delos Santos v. Minors: Dennis, Mylene, Melanie and Marikris, All Surnamed Mangalinao Y Dizon, et al, G.R. Nos. 174089, January 25, 2012.
Self-defense; burden of proof. In the instant case, in invoking self-defense, Fontanilla admitted inflicting the fatal injuries that caused the death of Olais. It is basic that once an accused in a prosecution for murder or homicide admitted his infliction of the fatal injuries on the deceased, he assumed the burden to prove by clear, satisfactory and convincing evidence the justifying circumstance that would avoid his criminal liability. Having thus admitted being the author of the death of the victim, Fontanilla came to bear the burden of proving the justifying circumstance to the satisfaction of the court, and he would be held criminally liable unless he established self-defense by sufficient and satisfactory proof. In this case, Fontanilla did not discharge his burden. A review of the records reveals that, one,Olais did not commit unlawful aggression against Fontanilla, and, two, Fontanilla’s act of hitting the victim’s head with a stone, causing the mortal injury, was not proportional to, and constituted an unreasonable response to the victim’s fistic attack and kicks. People of the Philippines v. Alfonso Fontanilla y Obaldo, G.R. No. 177743, January 25, 2012.
Self-defense; elements. In order for self-defense to be appreciated, the accused had to prove by clear and convincing evidence the following elements: (a) unlawful aggression on the part of the victim; (b) reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel it; and (c) lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending himself. Unlawful aggression is the indispensable element of self-defense, for if no unlawful aggression attributed to the victim is established, self-defense is unavailing, for there is nothing to repel. Unlawful aggression on the part of the victim is the primordial element of the justifying circumstance of self-defense. People of the Philippines v. Alfonso Fontanilla y Obaldo, G.R. No. 177743, January 25, 2012.
Self-defense; unlawful aggression. Without unlawful aggression, there can be no justified killing in defense of oneself. The test for the presence of unlawful aggression under the circumstances is whether the aggression from the victim put in real peril the life or personal safety of the person defending himself; the peril must not be an imagined or imaginary threat. Accordingly, the accused must establish the concurrence of three elements of unlawful aggression, namely: (a) there must be a physical or material attack or assault; (b) the attack or assault must be actual, or, at least, imminent; and (c) the attack or assault must be unlawful. People of the Philippines v. Alfonso Fontanilla y Obaldo, G.R. No. 177743, January 25, 2012.
Theft; elements. The elements of the crime of theft as provided for in Article 308 of the Revised Penal Code are as follows: (1) that there be 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 against or intimidation of persons or force upon things. Theft becomes qualified when the theft is committed with grave abuse of confidence. Here, the prosecution was able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the amount of P797,187.85 taken does not belong to petitioner but to VCCI and that petitioner took it without VCCI’s consent and with grave abuse of confidence by taking advantage of her position as accountant and bookkeeper. The prosecution’s evidence proved that petitioner was entrusted with checks payable to VCCI or Viva by virtue of her position as accountant and bookkeeper. She deposited the said checks to the joint account maintained by VCCI and Jefferson Tan, then withdrew a total of P797,187.85 from said joint account using the pre-signed checks, with her as the payee. In other words, the bank account was merely the instrument through which petitioner stole from her employer VCCI. The conviction of petitioner Anita L. Miranda for the crime of qualified theft is affirmed. Anita L. Miranda v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 176298, January 25, 2012.
2. SPECIAL PENAL LAWS
BP 22; gravamen of offense. The gravamen of the offense punished by BP 22 is the act of making and issuing a worthless check or a check that is dishonored upon its presentation for payment. It is not the non-payment of an obligation which the law punishes. The law is not intended or designed to coerce a debtor to pay his debt. The thrust of the law is to prohibit, under pain of penal sanctions, the making of worthless checks and putting them in circulation. Because of its deleterious effects on the public interest, the practice is proscribed by law. The law punishes the act not as an offense against property, but an offense against public order. Edgardo Medalla v. Resurreccion D. Laxa, G.R. No. 193362, January 18, 2012.
Dangerous Drugs; burden of proof. In the prosecution of possession of illegal drugs, the prosecution must prove that the petitioner had knowledge of the existence and presence of the drugs in the place under his control and dominion and the character of the drugs. With the prosecution’s failure to prove that the nipa hut was under petitioner’s control and dominion, there casts a reasonable doubt as to his guilt. In considering a criminal case, it is critical to start with the law’s own starting perspective on the status of the accused – in all criminal prosecutions, he is presumed innocent of the charge laid unless the contrary is proven beyond reasonable doubt. Proof beyond reasonable doubt, or that quantum of proof sufficient to produce a moral certainty that would convince and satisfy the conscience of those who act in judgment, is indispensable to overcome the constitutional presumption of innocence. Ruben Castillo @ Boy Castillo v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 185128, January 30, 2012.
Dangerous Drugs; buy-bust; prior surveillance. Prior surveillance not a necessity for the validity of the buy-bust operation. In People v. Padua, the Supreme Court ruled that a prior surveillance is not a prerequisite for the validity of an entrapment or buy-bust operation, the conduct of which has no rigid or textbook method. Flexibility is a trait of good police work. For as long as the rights of the accused have not been violated in the process, the courts will not pass on the wisdom thereof. The police officers may decide that time is of the essence and dispense with the need for prior surveillance. People of the Philippines v. Marcos Sabadlab y Narciso @ “Bong Pango,” G.R. No. 186392, January 18, 2012.
Dangerous Drugs; chain of custody. A review of the records establishes that the procedure laid down by RA 9165 and its IRR was not followed in this case. Several lapses on the part of the buy-bust team are readily apparent. To start with, no photograph of the seized shabu was taken. Secondly, the buy-bust team did not immediately mark the seized shabu at the scene of the crime and in the presence of Relato and witnesses. Thirdly, although there was testimony about the marking of the seized items being made at the police station, the records do not show that the marking was done in the presence of Relato or his chosen representative. And, fourthly, no representative of the media and the Department of Justice, or any elected official attended the taking of the physical inventory and to sign the inventory. The marking immediately after seizure is the starting point in the custodial link, because succeeding handlers of the prohibited drugs or related items will use the markings as reference. It further serves to segregate the marked evidence from the corpus of all other similar and related evidence from the time they are seized from the accused until they are disposed of at the end of the criminal proceedings, obviating switching, “planting,” or contamination of evidence. It is crucial in ensuring the integrity of the chain of custody. People of the Philippines v. Darwin Relato y Ajero, G.R. No. 173794, January 18, 2012.
Dangerous Drugs; chain of custody. Chain of Custody is defined in Section 1(b) of Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation No. 1, Series of 2002: “Chain of Custody means the duly recorded authorized movements and custody of seized drugs or controlled chemicals or plant sources of dangerous drugs or laboratory equipment of each stage, from the time of seizure/confiscation to receipt in the forensic laboratory to safekeeping to presentation in court for destruction. Such record of movements and custody of seized item shall include the identity and signature of the person who held temporary custody of the seized item, the date and time when such transfer of custody were made in the course of safekeeping and use in court as evidence, and the final disposition.” The procedural lapses committed by the buy-bust team underscored the uncertainty about the identity and integrity of the shabu admitted in evidence against the accused. They highlighted the failure of the prosecution to establish the chain of custody, by which the incriminating evidence would have been authenticated. An unavoidable consequence of the non-establishment of the chain of custody was the serious doubt on whether the shabu presented as evidence was really the shabu supposedly seized from Relato. People of the Philippines v. Darwin Relato y Ajero, G.R. No. 173794, January 18, 2012.
Dangerous Drugs Act; conspiracy to commit possession of dangerous drugs. The crime of conspiracy to commit possession of dangerous drugs does not exist. Simply put, the circumstance of conspiracy is not appreciated in the crime of possession of dangerous drugs under Sec. 11, Art. II of RA 9165. The fact that the information for violation of Sec. 11, Art. II of RA 9165 that was filed against the petitioner and Saunar alleged that they “conspired and helped each other” is immaterial since conspiracy is not appreciated in the crime of possession of dangerous drugs. Reynaldo Posiquit v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 193943, January 16, 2012.
Dangerous Drugs; illegal possession of drugs; elements. In every prosecution for the illegal possession of shabu, the following essential elements must be established: (a) the accused is found in possession of a regulated drug; (b) the person is not authorized by law or by duly constituted authorities; and (c) the accused has knowledge that the said drug is a regulated drug. Ruben Castillo @ Boy Castillo v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 185128, January 30, 2012.
Dangerous Drugs; intent to possess. In a prosecution for possession of illegal substances, proof of animus possidendi on the part of the accused is indispensable. But animus possidendi is a state of mind, and is thus to be determined on a case-to-case basis by taking into consideration the prior and contemporaneous acts of the accused, as well as the surrounding circumstances. It may and must be inferred usually from the attendant events in each particular case. Upon the State’s presenting to the trial court of the facts and circumstances from which to infer the existence of animus possidendi, it becomes incumbent upon the Defense to rebut the inference with evidence that the accused did not exercise power and control of the illicit thing in question, and did not intend to do so. For that purpose, a mere unfounded assertion of the accused that he did not know that he had possession of the illegal drug is insufficient, and animus possidendi is then presumed to exist on his part because he was thereby shown to have performed an act that the law prohibited and punished. People of the Philippines v. Geron Delos Santos y Maristela, G.R. No. 170839, January 18, 2012.
Dangerous Drugs; intent to possess. It cannot be disputed that Delos Santos had animus possidendi. His conduct prior to and following his apprehension evinced his guilty knowledge of the contents of the gift-wrapped box as shabu. His uncorroborated story of having been summoned to help in the cleaning of Unit 706 was a sham excuse that he peddled to explain his presence in the Somerset Condominium. His explanation was useless, however, because he was no longer employed as a janitor of the Somerset Condominium at the time of his arrest after being already terminated from employment. Correlatively, his willingness to run for Wilson the errand of delivering the gift-wrapped box to the unnamed person near the Jollibee Vito Cruz extension branch proved that he was serving as a courier of shabu. Besides, his guilty knowledge was confirmed by his unreasonable refusal to exit from Unit 706 despite the demand of the NBI agents to do so, and by his stealthy transfer to the adjoining Unit 705. Had he been truly innocent, he would have voluntarily cooperated with the NBI agents instead of attempting to escape from them. People of the Philippines v. Geron Delos Santos y Maristela, G.R. No. 170839, January 18, 2012.
Fencing; elements.The elements of fencing are 1) a robbery or theft has been committed; 2) the accused, who took no part in the robbery or theft, buys, receives, possesses, keeps, acquires, conceals, sells or disposes, or buys and sells, or in any manner deals in any article or object taken during that robbery or theft; (3) the accused knows or should have known that the thing was derived from that crime; and (4) he intends by the deal he makes to gain for himself or for another. Here, someone carnapped Mantequilla’s Nissan Safari on May 25, 1998. Two years later in December 2000, Dimat sold it to Delgado for P850,000.00. Dimat knew that the Nissan Safari he bought from Tolentino was not properly documented. He said that Tolentino showed him its old certificate of registration and official receipt. But this certainly could not be true because, the vehicle having been carnapped, Tolentino had no documents to show. That Tolentino was unable to make good on his promise to produce new documents undoubtedly confirmed to Dimat that the Nissan Safari came from an illicit source. Still, Dimat sold the same to Sonia Delgado who apparently made no effort to check the papers covering her purchase. Hence, the decision of the Court of Appeals finding Dimat guilty of violation of the Anti-Fencing Law is affirmed. Mel Dimat v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 181184, January 25, 2012.
Ombudsman; power to impose penalties. The power of the Ombudsman to determine and impose administrative liability is not merely recommendatory but actually mandatory. The Ombudsman’s power to impose the penalty of removal, suspension, demotion, fine, censure, or prosecution of a public officer or employee found to be at fault in the exercise of its administrative disciplinary authority is well founded in the Constitution and RA 6770, otherwise known as The Ombudsman Act of 1989. Gemma P. Cabalit v. COA-Region VII/Filadelfo S. Apit v. COA, Legal and Adjudication, Region VII/Leonardo G. Olaivar, et al, v. Hon. Primo C. Miro, et al, G.R. Nos. 180326/180341/180342, January 17, 2012.
Sandiganbayan; jurisdiction. Petitioners maintain that the jurisdictional facts necessary to acquire jurisdiction over the subject matter in CC No. 0033-A have yet to be established. Petitioners claim that the Republic failed to prove the ill-gotten nature of the sequestered coconut farmers’ UCPB shares. Accordingly, the controversy is removed from the subject matter jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan and necessarily any decision rendered on the merits, such as PSJ-A and PSJ-F, is void. The Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the subject matter of the subdivided amended complaints. Jurisdiction over the subject matter is conferred by law. The question on whether a given suit comes within the pale of a statutory conferment is determined by the allegations in the complaint regardless of whether or not the plaintiff will be entitled at the end to recover upon all or some of the claims asserted therein. Judging from the allegations of the defendants’ illegal acts thereat made, it is fairly obvious that both CC Nos. 0033-A and CC 0033-F partake, in the context of EOs 1, 2 and 14, series of 1986, the nature of ill-gotten wealth suits. Both deal with the recovery of sequestered shares, property or business enterprises claimed, as alleged in the corresponding basic complaints, to be ill-gotten assets of President Marcos, his cronies and nominees and acquired by taking undue advantage of relationships or influence and/or through or as a result of improper use, conversion or diversion of government funds or property. Recovery of these assets — determined as prima facie ill-gotten — falls within the unquestionable jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. Philippine Coconut Producers Federation Inc. (COCOFED), et al v. Republic of the Philippines, respondent; Wigberto E. Tanada, et al, intervenors/Danilo S. Ursua v. Republic of the Philippines, G.R. Nos. 177857-58 and G.R. No. 178193, January 24, 2012.
Sandiganbayan; jurisdiction. PD 1606, as amended by RA 7975 and EO 14, Series of 1986, vests the Sandiganbayan with original jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases instituted pursuant to and in connection with EOs 1, 2, 14 and 14-A. Correlatively, the PCGG Rules and Regulations defines the term “Ill-Gotten Wealth” as “any asset, property, business enterprise or material possession of persons within the purview of [EOs] 1 and 2, acquired by them directly, or indirectly thru dummies, nominees, agents, subordinates and/or business associates.” The Republic’s averments in the amended complaints, particularly those detailing the alleged wrongful acts of the defendants, sufficiently reveal that the subject matter thereof comprises the recovery by the Government of ill-gotten wealth acquired by then President Marcos, his cronies or their associates and dummies through the unlawful, improper utilization or diversion of coconut levy funds aided by PD 755 and other sister decrees. There was no actual need for Republic, as plaintiff a quo, to adduce evidence to show that the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the subject matter of the complaints as it leaned on the averments in the initiatory pleadings to make visible the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan over the ill-gotten wealth complaints. A perusal of the allegations easily reveals the sufficiency of the statement of matters disclosing the claim of the government against the coco levy funds and the assets acquired directly or indirectly through said funds as ill-gotten wealth. Moreover, the Court finds no rule that directs the plaintiff to first prove the subject matter jurisdiction of the court before which the complaint is filed. Rather, such burden falls on the shoulders of defendant in the hearing of a motion to dismiss anchored on said ground or a preliminary hearing thereon when such ground is alleged in the answer. Philippine Coconut Producers Federation Inc. (COCOFED), et al, v. Republic of the Philippines, respondent; Wigberto E. Tanada, et al, intervenors/Danilo S. Ursua v. Republic of the Philippines, G.R. Nos. 177857-58 and G.R. No. 178193, January 24, 2012.
3. CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
Information; waiver of defect. Appellants aver that the information filed before the trial court was substantially defective considering that it accuses Abdul and Ampuan as one and the same person when in fact they were identified as different persons. As such, Ampuan was not able to comprehend the nformation read to him. However, appellants failed to raise the issue of the defective Information before the trial court through a motion for bill of particulars or a motion to quash the information. Their failure to object to the alleged defect before entering their pleas of not guilty amounted to a waiver of the defect in the Information. Records even show that the information was accordingly amended during trial to rectify this alleged defect but appellants did not comment thereon. Moreover, objections as to matters of form or substance in the information cannot be made for the first time on appeal. People of the Philippines v. Renandang Mamaruncas and Pendatum Ampuan, G.R. No. 179497, January 25, 2012.
Jurisdiction; territorial jurisdiction of trial court. In criminal cases, venue is jurisdictional. A court cannot exercise jurisdiction over a person charged with an offense committed outside its limited territory. The prosecution must not only prove that the offense was committed, it must also prove the identity of the accused and the fact that the offense was committed within the jurisdiction of the court. In this case, the prosecution failed to show that the offense of estafa under sec. 1(b) of Art. 315 of the Revised Penal Code (“RPC”) was committed within the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City. Other than the lone allegation in the information, there is nothing in the prosecution evidence which even mentions that any of the elements of the offense were committed in Makati. The Affidavit of Complaint executed by Elizabeth does not contain any allegation as to where the offense was committed, and there is nothing in the documentary evidence offered by the prosecution that points to where the offense, or any of its elements, was committed. Although the prosecution alleged that the check issued by petitioner was dishonored in a bank in Makati, such dishonor is not an element of the offense of estafa under Article 315, par. 1(b) of the RPC. There being no showing that the offense was committed within Makati, the Regional Trial Court of that city has no jurisdiction over the case. Hector Trenas v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 195002, January 25, 2012.
Promulgation of judgment; presence of counsel during promulgation. Petitioner claims that his right to due process was violated when his counsel failed to assist him during the promulgation of the judgment. He faults the Sandiganbayan for proceeding with the promulgation despite the petitioner not then being assisted by his counsel, and being a layman he is not familiar with court processes and procedure. Section 6, Rule 120 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, as amended, provides: “The judgment is promulgated by reading it in the presence of the accused and any judge of the court in which it was rendered.However, if the conviction is for a light offense, the judgment may be pronounced in the presence of his counsel or representative.” There is nothing in the rules that requires the presence of counsel for the promulgation of the judgment of conviction to be valid. While notice must be served on accused and his counsel, the latter’s absence during the promulgation of judgment would not affect the validity of the promulgation. Indeed, no substantial right of the accused on the merits was prejudiced by such absence of his counsel when the sentence was pronounced. Marino B. Icdang v. Sandiganbayan, et al, G.R. No. 185960, January 25, 2012.
Testimonial evidence; positive identification prevails over mere denial and alibi. On appeal, the accused claims that the Court of Appeals improperly ignored inconsistent testimonies regarding the question of whether or not he wore sunglasses during the robbery. However, the fact is that Addun and Johnny categorically identified him as the robber among the three who was armed with a .45 caliber pistol and the mere fact that one of these witnesses had the impression that Israel wore sunglasses could not diminish the strength of such identification. Thus, in the absence of any improper motive to incriminate Israel, the positive identification made by the prosecution witnesses must prevail over his mere denial and alibi. People of the Philippines v. GlenfordSamoy and Leodigario Israel, G.R. No. 193672, January 18, 2012.
(Lindy thanks Nuj Dumbrigue and Janette Ancog for their assistance in the preparation of this post.)