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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June 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

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

1. CRIMINAL LAW

Act of lasciviousness against a minor under the Revised Penal Code and R.A. 7610. Acts of lasciviousness as defined in Article 336 of the Revised Penal Code (“RPC”) has the following elements: (1)  that the offender commits any act of lasciviousness or lewdness; (2)  that it is done under any of the following circumstances: a) by using force or intimidation; or b) when the offended party is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; or c) when the offended party is under 12 years of age; and; (3)  that the offended party is another person of either sex. Pursuant to the foregoing provision, before an accused can be convicted of child abuse through lascivious conduct committed against a minor below 12 years of age, the requisites for acts of lasciviousness under Article 336 of the RPC must be met in addition to the requisites for sexual abuse under Section 5 of R.A. 7610. To establish sexual abuse under Section 5, Article III of R.A. 7610, the following elements must be present: (1) the accused commits the act of sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct; (2) the said act is performed with a child exploited in prostitution or subjected to other sexual abuse; (3) the child, whether male or female, is below 18 years of age. Corollarily, Section 2(h) of the rules and regulations of R.A. No. 7610 defines “lascivious conduct” as “[t]he intentional touching, either directly or through clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks, or the introduction of any object into the genitalia, anus or mouth, of any person, whether of the same or opposite sex, with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person, bestiality, masturbation, lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of a person.”  People of the Philippines v. Ireno Bonaagua y Berce, G.R. No. 188897, June 6, 2011.

Act of lasciviousness of a minor under the Revised Penal Code and R.A. 7610. The Supreme Court affirmed the findings of the Court of Appeals (“CA”) that the accused was guilty of the crime of acts of lasciviousness under Section 5(b) of R.A. 7610. Undeniably, all the aforestated elements are present in Criminal Case No. 03-0255.  The accused committed the crime of lascivious acts by touching the  breasts and licking the vagina of AAA, who was 8 years old at the time as established by her birth certificate.  As correctly found by the CA, the accused is guilty of the crime of acts of lasciviousness under Section 5(b) of R.A. No. 7610.  People of the Philippines v. Ireno Bonaagua y Berce, G.R. No. 188897, June 6, 2011.

Estafa; elements. In every prosecution for estafa under Article 315(2)(a) of the Revised Penal Code, the following elements must be present:  (a) that there must be a false pretense, fraudulent act or fraudulent means; (b) that such false pretense, fraudulent act or fraudulent means must be made or executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud; (c) that the offended party must have relied on the false pretense, fraudulent act, or fraudulent means, that is, he was induced to part with his money or property because of the false pretense, fraudulent act, or fraudulent means; (d) that as a result thereof, the offended party suffered damage. Elvira Lateo y Eleazar, et al v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 161651, June 8, 2011.

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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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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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