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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August 2009 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Law

Here are selected August 2009 Philippine Supreme Court decisions on civil law:

Contracts;  binding effect.  As a general rule, obligations derived from a contract are transmissible (see Article 1311, par.1 of the Civil Code).  The loan in this case was contracted by respondent. He died while the case was pending before the Court of Appeals. While he may no longer be compelled to pay the loan, the debt subsists against his estate. No property or portion of the inheritance may be transmitted to his heirs unless the debt has first been satisfied.  William Ong Genato vs. Benjamin Bayhon, et al., G.R. No. 171035, August 24, 2009.

Contracts;  breach.  CCC defaulted in the payment of its obligation to FILSYSTEMS under the Compromise Agreement. On the other hand, FILSYSTEMS was not in default; however, considering that it failed to perform the obligation incumbent upon it under the Compromise Agreement, it must be held liable for the cost of completion of the unfinished portion of the project.  Continental Cement Corp., vs. Filipinas (PREFAB) Systems, Inc./Filipinas (PREFAB) Systems, inc. vs. Continental Cement Corp., G.R. No. 176917/G.R. No. 176919, August 4, 2009.

Contracts; due and demandable obligations.  Petitioner does not deny that she obtained a loan from respondent. She, however, contends that the loan is not yet due and demandable because the suspensive condition – the completion of the renovation of the apartment units – has not yet been fulfilled. She also assails the award of attorney’s fees to respondent as baseless.

For his part, respondent admits that initially, they agreed that payment of the loan shall be made upon completion of the renovations. However, respondent claims that during their meeting with some family members in the house of their brother Genaro sometime in the second quarter of 1997, he and petitioner entered into a new agreement whereby petitioner was to start making monthly payments on her loan, which she did from June to October of 1997. 

Evidently, by virtue of the subsequent agreement, the parties mutually dispensed with the condition that petitioner shall only begin paying after the completion of all renovations. There was, in effect, a modificatory or partial novation, of petitioner’s obligation under Article 1291 of the Civil Code. Maria Soledad Tomimbang vs. Atty. Jose Tomimbang, G.R. No. 165116, August 4, 2009.

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Altis vs. Expedition: Who Wins?

A Toyota Altis was traveling at a speed of five to ten kilometers per hour along Rajah Matanda Street and has just crossed the center lane of Katipunan Avenue when a Ford Expedition violently rammed against the car’s right rear door and fender. With the force of the impact, the Altis turned 180 degrees towards the direction where it came from. A passenger of the Altis sustained injuries and was immediately brought to the hospital.

The Altis owner demanded from the Expedition owner reimbursement for the expenses incurred in the repair of the car and the hospitalization of the car passenger in the aggregate amount of P103,989.60. The demand fell on deaf ears prompting the Altis owner to file a Complaint for Damages based on quasi-delict before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Metro Manila (MeTC), Quezon City.

The Expedition owner denied liability for damages insisting that it was the negligence of the Altis driver which was the proximate cause of the accident. The Expedition owner maintained that the Altis crossed Katipunan Avenue from Rajah Matanda Street despite the concrete barriers placed thereon prohibiting vehicles to pass through the intersection. The Expedition owner further claimed that he was not in the vehicle when the mishap occurred. He asserted that he exercised the diligence of a good father of a family in the selection and supervision of his driver.

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May 2009 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Law

Here are selected May 2009 decisions of the Supreme Court on civil law.

Contracts;  force majeure.  The matter of fortuitous events is governed by Art. 1174 of the Civil Code which provides that except in cases expressly specified by the law, or when it is otherwise declared by stipulation, or when the nature of the obligation requires assumption of risk, no person shall be responsible for those events which could not be foreseen, or which though foreseen, were inevitable. The elements of a fortuitous event are: (a) the cause of the unforeseen and unexpected occurrence, must have been independent of human will; (b) the event that constituted the caso fortuito must have been impossible to foresee or, if foreseeable, impossible to avoid; (c) the occurrence must have been such as to render it impossible for the debtors to fulfill their obligation in a normal manner, and; (d) the obligor must have been free from any participation in the aggravation of the resulting injury to the creditor.

A fortuitous event may either be an act of God, or natural occurrences such as floods or typhoons, or an act of man such as riots, strikes or wars. However, when the loss is found to be partly the result of a person’s participation–whether by active intervention, neglect or failure to act—the whole occurrence is humanized and removed from the rules applicable to a fortuitous event. Asset Privitization Trust vs. T.J. EnterprisesG.R. No. 167195,  May 8, 2009.

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