January 2013 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

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

1.            REVISED PENAL CODE

Conspiracy. Appellant questions the lower courts’ finding of conspiracy between her and co-accused. She claims that she merely accompanied Espiritu in going to the RFC Food Court and had nothing to do with the transaction. As a matter of fact, the shabu was not even found in or recovered from her possession. It just so happened that she was in the area during the delivery of the drugs. The argument did not persuade the Supreme Court. There is conspiracy if two or more persons agree to commit a felony and decide to commit it. Conspiracy must be proven on the same quantum of evidence as the felony subject of the agreement of the parties. Conspiracy may be proved by direct or circumstantial evidence consisting of acts, words, or conduct of the alleged conspirators before, during and after the commission of the felony to achieve a common design or purpose. The existence of conspiracy in this case was clearly established not only by the prosecution’s evidence but also by appellant’s very own testimony. As can be gleaned from appellant’s testimony as well as from the testimony of Carla as to what transpired during the actual buy-bust operation, appellant acted in common concert with her co-accused in the illegal sale of shabu. She cannot therefore isolate her act of merely accompanying Espiritu to the RFC Food Court or carrying the shabu since in conspiracy the act of one is the act of all. To be a conspirator, one need not participate in every detail of the execution; he need not even take part in every act or need not even know the exact part to be performed by the others in the execution of the conspiracy. People of the Philippines v. Simpresueta M. Seraspe, G.R. No. 180919, January 9, 2013.

Extinction of criminal liability and civil liability ex delicto upon death of accused. Article 89(1) of the Revised Penal Code provides that criminal liability is totally extinguished by the death of the convict, as to the personal penalties; and as to pecuniary penalties, liability therefor is extinguished only when the death of the offender occurs before final judgment. It is also settled that “upon the death of the accused pending appeal of his conviction, the criminal action is extinguished inasmuch as there is no longer a defendant to stand as the accused; the civil action instituted therein for recovery of civil liability ex delicto is ipso facto extinguished, grounded as it is on the criminal.” While appellant Florencio died way back on February 7, 2007, the said information was not timely relayed to the Supreme Court (SC), such that the SC was unaware of the same when it rendered its December 14, 2011 Decision. It was only later that the SC was informed of Florencio’s death through the June 8, 2012 letter of the Officer-in-Charge of the New Bilibid Prison. Due to this development, it therefore became necessary for the SC to declare Florencio’s criminal liability, as well as his civil liability ex delicto, to have been extinguished by his death prior to final judgment. The judgment of conviction is thus set aside insofar as Florencio is concerned. People of the Philippines v. Florencio Agacer, et al, G.R. No. 177751, January 7, 2013.

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November 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are select November 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:

1.            REVISED PENAL CODE

Proximate cause; definition. The Supreme Court rejected the argument of petitioners that the Court of Appeals failed to consider in its entirety the testimony of the doctor who performed the autopsy. What really needs to be proven in a case when the victim dies is the proximate cause of his death. Proximate cause has been defined as “that cause, which, in natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by any efficient intervening cause, produces the injury, and without which the result would not have occurred.” The autopsy report indicated that the cause of the victim’s death is multiple organ failure. According to Dr. Wilson Moll Lee, the doctor who conducted the autopsy, it can be surmised that multiple organ failure was secondary to a long standing infection secondary to a stab wound which the victim allegedly sustained. Thus, it can be concluded that without the stab wounds, the victim could not have been afflicted with an infection which later on caused multiple organ failure that caused his death. The offender is criminally liable for the death of the victim if his delictual act caused, accelerated or contributed to the death of the victim. Rodolfo Belbis Jr. y Competente and Alberto Brucales v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 181052, November 14, 2012.

Rape; qualifying circumstances; concurrence of minority and relationship. Under Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A. No. 8353 or the Anti-Rape Law of 1997, the concurrence of minority and relationship qualifies the crime of rape. To warrant the imposition of the death penalty, however, both the minority and the relationship must be alleged in the Information and proved during the trial. In the instant case, both circumstances were properly alleged in the Informations and proved during trial. The Informations alleged that AAA was 15 years old when the crimes were committed. Her minority was established not only by her Certificate of Live Birth but also by her testimony that she was born on November 6, 1985. Anent AAA’s relationship with appellant, the Informations sufficiently alleged that AAA is appellant’s daughter. This fact was likewise openly admitted by the appellant and further bolstered by the said Certificate of Live Birth indicating appellant as AAA’s father. Moreover, the relationship between appellant and AAA became the subject of admission during the pre-trial conference. Hence, pursuant to the said article, the presence of the above special qualifying circumstances increases the penalty to death.  In view, however, of the passage of R.A. No. 9346 proscribing the imposition of death penalty, the proper penalty imposable on appellant, in lieu of death and pursuant to Section 2 thereof, is reclusion perpetua. People of the Philippines v. Enerio Ending y Onyong, G.R. No. 183827, November 12, 2012.

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January 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

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.

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February 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are selected February 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:

CRIMINAL LAW

Revised Penal Code

Estafa; elements. The elements of the crime of estafa under Article 315, par. 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code are: (1) there must be a false pretense, fraudulent acts or fraudulent means; (2) such false pretense, fraudulent act or fraudulent means must be made or executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud; (3) the offended party must have relied on the false pretense, fraudulent act or fraudulent means and was thus induced to part with his money or property; and (4) as a result thereof, the offended party suffered damage. Lyzah Sy Franco v. People of the Philippines/ Steve Besario v. People of the Philippines, G.R. Nos. 171328 and 171335, February 16, 2011.

Estafa; elements. All the elements of the crime of estafa under Article 315, par. 2(a) are present in this case. Petitioners presented themselves to Lourdes as persons possessing the authority and capacity to engage in the financing of used vehicles on behalf of Final Access Marketing.  This was a clear misrepresentation considering their previous knowledge not only of Erlinda’s complaint but also of several others as regards the failure of Final Access Marketing to deliver the motor vehicles bought.  Lourdes relied on their misrepresentations and parted with her money.  Almost a week passed by, but petitioners and Rule did not deliver the said motor vehicle.  They also did not fulfill their subsequent promise to provide a replacement or to refund her payment.  When Lourdes visited the office of Final Access Marketing to demand the return of her money, it was already closed.  She could not locate any of them except for Franco who denied any wrongdoing.  Consequently, she suffered damage. Lyzah Sy Franco v. People of the Philippines/ Steve Besario v. People of the Philippines, G.R. Nos. 171328 and 171335, February 16, 2011.

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January 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are selected January 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:

CRIMINAL LAW

Revised Penal Code

Aggravating circumstance; abuse of superior strength. To take advantage of superior strength is to purposely use excessive force, out of proportion to the means of defense available to the person attacked. As testified by Santiago Arasula, the lone eyewitness, the two accused were stabbing his brother, who was unarmed and intoxicated.  It is clear, therefore, that Armando was in no position to defend himself from two armed assailants, who, as Santiago testified, were armed with small bolos.  While it is true that superiority in number does not per se mean superiority in strength, accused-appellants in this case did not only enjoy superiority in number, but were armed with weapons, while the victim had no means with which to defend himself. Accused-appellants took advantage of their number and weapons, as well as the condition of the victim, to commit the crime. People of the Philippines vs. Hemiano De Jesus and Rodelo Morales, G.R. No. 186528, January 26, 2011.

Criminal liability; principal by inducement. Accused Rohmat is criminally responsible under the second paragraph of Article 17 of the Revised Penal Code, specifically, the provision on “principal by inducement.” The instructions and training he had given Asali on how to make bombs – coupled with their careful planning and persistent attempts to bomb different areas in Metro Manila and Rohmat’s confirmation that Trinidad would be getting TNT from Asali as part of their mission – prove the finding that Rohmat’s co-inducement was the determining cause of the commission of the crime. Such “command or advice [was] of such nature that, without it, the crime would not have materialized.” Further, the inducement was “so influential in producing the criminal act that without it, the act would not have been performed.” People of the Philippines vs. Khaddafy Janjalani, et al, G.R. No. 188314, January 10, 2011.

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December 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

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

CRIMINAL LAW

1. Revised Penal Code

Civil liability if death results. When death occurs due to a crime, the following may be recovered: (1) civil indemnity ex delicto for the death of the victim; (2) actual or compensatory damages; (3) moral damages; (4) exemplary damages; (5) attorney’s fees and expenses of litigation; and (6) interest, in proper cases. In People vs. Tubongbanua, interest at the rate of 6% was ordered to be applied on the award of damages. This rule would be subsequently applied by the Supreme Court in several cases such as Mendoza vs. People, People vs. Buban, People vs. Guevarra, and People vs. Regalario. The rule was likewise adopted in this case. Thus, interest of 6% per annum should be imposed on the award of civil indemnity and all damages, i.e., actual or compensatory damages, moral damages and exemplary damages, from the date of finality of judgment until fully paid. People of the Philippines vs. Jose Pepito Combate, G.R. No. 189301, December 15, 2010.

Death of accused; criminal and civil liability extinguished. Death of the accused pending appeal of his conviction extinguishes his criminal liability as well as the civil liability based solely thereon. In this regard, Justice Regalado opined: “[T]he death of the accused prior to final judgment terminates his criminal liability and only the civil liability directly arising from and based solely on the offense committed, i.e., civil liability ex delicto in senso strictiore.” Dante Datu y Hernandez vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 169718, December 13, 2010.

Death of accused; civil liability survives if separate civil action can be filed. Corollarily, the claim for civil liability survives notwithstanding the death of the accused, if the same may also be predicated on a source of obligation other than delict. Article 1157 of the Civil Code enumerates these other sources of obligation from which the civil liability may arise as a result of the same act or omission: law, contracts, quasi-contracts, quasi-delicts. Where the civil liability survives, an action for recovery therefor may be pursued but only by way of filing a separate civil action and subject to Section 1, Rule 111 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure as amended. This separate civil action may be enforced either against the executor/administrator or the estate of the accused, depending on the source of obligation upon which the same is based as explained above.  Dante Datu y Hernandez vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 169718, December 13, 2010.

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November 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

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

1. CRIMINAL LAW

Conspiracy. When a homicide takes place by reason of or on the occasion of the robbery, all those who took part shall be guilty of the special complex crime of robbery with homicide, whether or not they actually participated in the killing, unless there is proof that there was an endeavor to prevent the killing. In this case, the records are bereft of any evidence to prove, or even remotely suggest, that appellant attempted to prevent the killing.  Therefore, the basic principle in conspiracy that the “act of one is the act of all” applies in this case.  People of the Philippines vs. Nonoy Ebet, G.R. No. 181635, November 15, 2010

Conspiracy. To be a conspirator, one need not participate in every detail of the execution; he need not even take part in every act or need not even know the exact part to be performed by the others in the execution of the conspiracy.  Each conspirator may be assigned separate and different tasks which may appear unrelated to one another but, in fact, constitute a whole collective effort to achieve their common criminal objective. Once conspiracy is shown, the act of one is the act of all the conspirators.  The precise extent or modality of participation of each of them becomes secondary, since all the conspirators are principals.  To exempt himself from criminal liability, a conspirator must have performed an overt act to dissociate or detach himself from the conspiracy to commit the felony and prevent the commission thereof. People of the Philippines vs. Nonoy Ebet, G.R. No. 181635, November 15, 2010

Qualified theft.  The Supreme Court upheld the appellant’s conviction for qualified theft. The position held by the appellant in St. John Memorial Park and Garden, as well as the special assignment given to her (appellant) by the land owners, were vested with trust and confidence. The appellant had custody of two bankbooks in which deposits of what she received were to be reflected.  Appellant’s failure to account for the subject funds which she was under obligation to deposit constitutes asportation with intent of gain, committed with grave abuse of the confidence reposed on her.  People of the Philippines vs. Rosalie Colilap Bañaga, G.R. No. 183699. November 24, 2010

Rape; penalty and damages. Under the second part of Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, the death penalty shall be imposed when the victim is under eighteen (18) years of age and the offender is a parent, ascendant, step-parent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity within the third civil degree, or the common-law spouse of the parent of the victim. As shown by her Certificate of Live Birth, AAA was born on June 1, 1986; AAA also testified to this fact. Clearly, AAA was only eleven years old when the three rapes happened in September 1997. Nonetheless, the Court of Appeals was correct in reducing the death penalty to reclusion perpetua because the circumstance of relationship was not alleged in the complaints. None of the complaints alleged that the appellant was the stepfather of AAA. People of the Philippines vs. Arnel Macafe y Nabong, G.R. No. 185616, November 24, 2010

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