Here are select July 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:
1. REVISED PENAL CODE
Rape; principles in deciding rape cases. Antonio Baraoil was found guilty by the lower courts for two crimes of rape defined and penalized under RA 8353 and the Revised Penal Code. Courts use the following principles in deciding rape cases: (1) an accusation of rape can be made with facility; it is difficult to prove but more difficult for the person accused, though innocent, to disprove; (2) due to the nature of the crime of rape in which only two persons are usually involved, the testimony of the complainant must be scrutinized with extreme caution; and (3) the evidence for the prosecution must stand or fall on its own merits and cannot be allowed to draw strength from the weakness of the evidence for the defense. Due to the nature of this crime, conviction for rape may be solely based on the complainant’s testimony provided it is credible, natural, convincing, and consistent with human nature and the normal course of things. The Supreme Court (“SC”) held in the instant case that the totality of the evidence adduced by the prosecution proved the guilt of the accused-appellant beyond reasonable doubt. The SC finds no cogent reason to disturb the trial court’s appreciation of the credibility of the prosecution witnesses’ testimony. People of the Philippines v. Antonio Baraoil, G.R. No. 194608, July 9, 2012.
Here are select March 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:
1. REVISED PENAL CODE
Estafa; elements. The offense of estafa committed with abuse of confidence has the following elements under Article 315, paragraph 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code, as amended: (a) that money, goods or other personal property is received by the offender in trust or on commission, or for administration, or under any other obligation involving the duty to make delivery of or to return the same; (b) that there be misappropriation or conversion of such money or property by the offender, or denial on his part of such receipt; (c) that such misappropriation or conversion or denial is to the prejudice of another; and (d)there is demand by the offended party to the offender. Esla Macandog Magtira v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 170964, March 7, 2012.
Estafa; elements. The Supreme Court ruled that all the above elements [of estafa] are present in this case, having been established by the prosecution’s evidence and by the petitioner’s own admissions. The first element was established by the evidence showing that the petitioner received various sums of money from the private complainants to be held in trust for them under the Paluwagan operation. The petitioner admitted that she was under obligation, at a fixed date, to account for and to deliver the Paluwagan funds to the private complainants in the sequential order agreed upon among them. The second element was established by the evidence that the petitioner failed to account for and to deliver the Paluwagan funds to the private complainants on the agreed time of delivery. The third and fourth elements of the offense were proven by evidence showing that the petitioner failed to account for and to deliver the Paluwagan funds to the private complainants despite several demands made upon her by the private complainants. Each of the private complainants testified as to how they were prejudiced when they failed to receive their allotted Paluwagan funds. Given the totality of evidence, the Supreme Court upheld the conviction of the petitioner of the crime charged. Esla Macandog Magtira v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 170964, March 7, 2012.
Here are select February 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:
1. REVISED PENAL CODE
Conspiracy. The inconsistencies pointed out are inconsequential given the presence of conspiracy between the appellant and Olaso in killing the victim. Conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it. The presence of conspiracy may be inferred from the circumstances where all the accused acted in concert at the time of the commission of the offense. Conspiracy is sufficiently established when the concerted acts show the same purpose or common design and are united in its execution. Moreover, when there is conspiracy, it is not important who delivered the fatal blow since the act of one is considered the act of all. The overt acts of the appellant and Olaso showing their conspiracy to kill the victim are: (1) the appellant and Olaso flagged down the tricycle being driven by the victim; (2) the appellant seated himself at the back of the driver’s seat while Olaso went inside the tricycle; (3) the appellant and Olaso simultaneously assaulted the victim – the appellant embracing the victim while Olaso stabbed him; and (4) both men immediately fled the scene after the stabbing. The above circumstances plainly show the common design and the unity of purpose between the appellant and Olaso in executing their plan to kill the victim. People of the Philippines v. Rolly Angelio, G.R. No. 197540, February 27, 2012.
Estafa; elements. The offense of estafa, in general, is committed either by (a) abuse of confidence or (b) means of deceit. The acts constituting estafa committed with abuse of confidence are enumerated in item (1) of Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended; item (2) of Article 315 enumerates estafa committed by means of deceit. Deceit is not an essential requisite of estafa by abuse of confidence; the breach of confidence takes the place of fraud or deceit, which is a usual element in the other estafa. In this case, the charge against the petitioner and her subsequent conviction was for estafa committed by abuse of confidence. Thus, it was not necessary for the prosecution to prove deceit as this was not an element of the estafa that the petitioner was charged with. Carmina G. Brokmann v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 199150, February 6, 2012.
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.
Here are selected July 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:
1. CRIMINAL LAW
Qualifying circumstance; treachery. The Supreme Court affirmed the findings of the trial court that the qualifying circumstance of treachery attended the commission of the crime. Milan’s act of closing the door facilitated the commission of the crime, allowing Carandang to wait in ambush. The sudden gunshots when the police officers pushed the door open illustrate the intention of appellants and Carandang to prevent any chance for the police officers to defend themselves. Treachery is thus present in the case at bar, as what is decisive for this qualifying circumstance is that the execution of the attack made it impossible for the victims to defend themselves or to retaliate. People of the Philippines v. Restituto Carandang, et al, G.R. No. 175926, July 6, 2011.
2. SPECIAL PENAL LAWS
Dangerous drugs; chain of custody. The Supreme Court upheld the conviction of the accused by ruling that the failure of the policemen to make a physical inventory and photograph the two plastic sachets containing the shabu subject of this case do not render the confiscated items inadmissible in evidence. Likewise, the failure of the policemen to mark the two plastic sachets containing shabu at the place of arrest does not render the confiscated items inadmissible in evidence. In People v. Resurreccion, G.R. No. 186380, 12 October 2009, 603 SCRA 510, it was held that “the failure of the policemen to immediately mark the confiscated items does not automatically impair the integrity of chain of custody.” Francisco Imson y Adriano vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 193003, July 13, 2011.
Dangerous drugs; chain of custody. The failure to strictly comply with Section 21(1), Article II of RA 9165 does not necessarily render an accused’s arrest illegal or the items seized or confiscated from him inadmissible. What is of utmost importance is the preservation of the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items, as these would be utilized in the determination of the guilt or innocence of the accused. The presumption is that the policemen performed their official duties regularly. In order to overcome this presumption, the accused must show that there was bad faith or improper motive on the part of the policemen, or that the confiscated items were tampered. In this case, the accused failed to do so. Francisco Imson y Adriano vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 193003, July 13, 2011.
Here are selected June 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on political law.
Commission on Audit; jurisdiction over Boy Scouts. The issue was whether or not the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (“BSP”) fall under the jurisdiction of the Commission on Audit. The BSP contends that it is not a government-owned or controlled corporation; neither is it an instrumentality, agency, or subdivision of the government. The Supreme Court, however, held that not all corporations, which are not government owned or controlled, are ipso facto to be considered private corporations as there exists another distinct class of corporations or chartered institutions which are otherwise known as “public corporations.” These corporations are treated by law as agencies or instrumentalities of the government which are not subject to the tests of ownership or control and economic viability but to a different criteria relating to their public purposes/interests or constitutional policies and objectives and their administrative relationship to the government or any of its departments or offices. As presently constituted, the BSP is a public corporation created by law for a public purpose, attached to the Department of Education Culture and Sports pursuant to its Charter and the Administrative Code of 1987. It is not a private corporation which is required to be owned or controlled by the government and be economically viable to justify its existence under a special law. The economic viability test would only apply if the corporation is engaged in some economic activity or business function for the government, which is not the case for BSP. Therefore, being a public corporation, the funds of the BSP fall under the jurisdiction of the Commission on Audit. Boy Scouts of the Philippines vs. Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 177131. June 7, 2011.
Local governments; principle of local autonomy. The claim of petitioners in this case that the subject proclamation and administrative orders violate the principle of local autonomy is anchored on the allegation that, through them, the President authorized the DILG Secretary to take over the operations of the ARMM and assume direct governmental powers over the region. The Supreme Court held that in the first place, the DILG Secretary did not take over control of the powers of the ARMM. The SC observed that after law enforcement agents took respondent Governor of ARMM into custody for alleged complicity in the Maguindanao massacre, the ARMM Vice-Governor, petitioner Ansaruddin Adiong, assumed the vacated post on December 10, 2009 pursuant to the rule on succession found in Article VII, Section 12, of RA 9054. In turn, Acting Governor Adiong named the then Speaker of the ARMM Regional Assembly, petitioner Sahali-Generale, Acting ARMM Vice-Governor. In short, the DILG Secretary did not take over the administration or operations of the ARMM. Datu Zaldy Uy Ampatuan, et al. v. Hon. Ronaldo Puno, et al., G.R. No. 190259. June 7, 2011.