September 2013 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

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

1.            REVISED PENAL CODE

Estafa under Article 315(2)(d) of the Revised Penal Code; elements. In order to constitute estafa under Article 315(2)(d) of the Revised Penal Code, the act of postdating or issuing a check in payment of an obligation must be the efficient cause of the defraudation. This means that the offender must be able to obtain money or property from the offended party by reason of the issuance of the check, whether dated or postdated. In other words, the Prosecution must show that the person to whom the check was delivered would not have parted with his money or property were it not for the issuance of the check by the offender. The essential elements of this crime are the following: (a) a check is postdated or issued in payment of an obligation contracted at the time the check is issued; (b) lack or insufficiency of funds to cover the check; and (c) damage to the payee thereof. People of the Philippines v. Gilbert Reyes Wagas, G.R. No. 157943, September 4, 2013.

Estafa under Article 315(2)(d) of the Revised Penal Code; what the law punishes is fraud or deceit, not the mere issuance of a worthless check. In this case, the Prosecution established that Ligaray had released the goods to Cañada because of the postdated check the latter had given to him; and that the check was dishonored when presented for payment because of the insufficiency of funds. In every criminal prosecution, however, the identity of the offender, like the crime itself, must be established by proof beyond reasonable doubt. In that regard, the Prosecution did not establish beyond reasonable doubt that it was accused Wagas who had defrauded Ligaray by issuing the check. Firstly, Ligaray expressly admitted that he did not personally meet the person with whom he was transacting over the telephone. Even after the dishonor of the check, Ligaray did not personally see and meet whoever he had dealt with and to whom he had made the demand for payment, and that he had talked with him only over the telephone. Secondly, the check delivered to Ligaray was made payable to cash – this type of check was payable to the bearer and could be negotiated by mere delivery without the need of an indorsement. This rendered it highly probable that Wagas had issued the check not to Ligaray, but to somebody else like Cañada, his brother-in-law, who then negotiated it to Ligaray. Relevantly, Ligaray confirmed that he did not himself see or meet Wagas at the time of the transaction and thereafter, and expressly stated that the person who signed for and received the stocks of rice was Cañada.  It bears stressing that the accused, to be guilty of estafa as charged, must have used the check in order to defraud the complainant. What the law punishes is the fraud or deceit, not the mere issuance of the worthless check. Wagas could not be held guilty of estafa simply because he had issued the check used to defraud Ligaray. The proof of guilt must still clearly show that it had been Wagas as the drawer who had defrauded Ligaray by means of the check. Thus, considering that the circumstances of the identification of Wagas as the person who transacted on the rice did not preclude a reasonable possibility of mistake, the proof of guilt did not measure up to the standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt demanded in criminal cases. People of the Philippines v. Gilbert Reyes Wagas, G.R. No. 157943, September 4, 2013.

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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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December 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

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

1.            REVISED PENAL CODE

Rape; Pruna Guidelines. In this case, the prosecution may have been unable to present AAA’s birth certificate or other authentic document such as a baptismal certificate during trial in accordance with the formulated set of guidelines in People v. Pruna in appreciating age either as an element of the crime or as a qualifying circumstance in rape cases. However, that failure to present relevant evidence did not deter the Supreme Court from upholding that qualified rape was indeed committed by the accused Padigos because he himself admitted, in his counter-affidavit which formed part of the evidence for the defense and the contents of which he later affirmed in his testimony in open court, that AAA was below 7 years old around the time of the rape incident. In the Court’s view, this admission from accused, taken with the testimony of the victim, sufficiently proved the victim’s minority. People of the Philippines v. Edgar Padigos, G.R. No. 181202, December 5, 2012.

Rape; resistance. Accused Estoya attempts to raise doubts in victim AAA’s testimony by questioning the latter’s failure to offer tenacious resistance during the supposed sexual assault. The Supreme Court held that the law does not impose upon a rape victim the burden of proving resistance. Physical resistance need not be established in rape when intimidation is exercised upon the victim and she submits herself against her will to the rapist’s lust because of fear for life and personal safety. In the case at bar, AAA was only 14 years of age at the time of the rape, and at such a tender age, she could not be expected to put up resistance as would be expected from a mature woman. Also, Estoya had threatened AAA that he would stab her with a knife if she resisted. People of the Philippines v. Radby Estoya y Mateo, G.R. No. 200531, December 5, 2012.

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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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September 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

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

1.            REVISED PENAL CODE

Conspiracy; evidence. Conspiracy existed here as may be inferred from the concerted actions of the appellants and their co-accused, namely: (1) appellants and their co-accused brought Samuel to a waiting shed located on the left side of the road where the yellow pick-up service vehicle boarded by Mayor Tawan-tawan and his group would pass; (2) appellants and their co-accused, thereafter, assembled themselves on both sides of the road and surreptitiously waited for the aforesaid yellow pick-up service vehicle; (3) the moment the yellow pick-up service vehicle passed by the waiting shed, appellants and their co-accused opened fire and rained bullets thereon resulting in the killing and wounding of the victims; (4) immediately, appellants and their co-accused ran towards the house of Samuel’s aunt to get their bags and other stuff; (5) Samuel followed appellants and their co-accused; and (6) appellants and their co-accused fled. Conspiracy is very much evident from the afore-enumerated actuations of the appellants and their co-accused. They were synchronized in their approach to riddle with bullets the vehicle boarded by Mayor Tawan-tawan and his group. They were motivated by a single criminal impulse ─ to kill the victims. Conspiracy is implied when the accused persons had a common purpose and were united in its execution. People of the Philippines v. Wenceslao Nelmida, et al, G.R. No. 184500, September 11, 2012.

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July 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

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.

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June 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

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

1. REVISED PENAL CODE

Estafa; elements. Entrenched in jurisprudence are the following essential elements of Estafa under Article 315, paragraph 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code: (a) that money, goods or other personal properties are 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; (2) that there is a misappropriation or conversion of such money or property by the offender or denial on his part of such receipt; (3) that such misappropriation or conversion or denial is to the prejudice of another; and (4) that there is a demand made by the offended party on the offender. In this case, all these elements have been sufficiently established by the prosecution in this case. Andre L. D’Aigle v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 174181, June 27, 2012.

Estafa; misappropriation;Trust Receipts Law. In order that the respondents may be validly prosecuted for estafa under Article 315, paragraph 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code, in relation with Section 13 of the Trust Receipts Law, the following elements must be established: (a) they received the subject goods in trust or under the obligation to sell the same and to remit the proceeds thereof to [the trustor], or to return the goods if not sold; (b) they misappropriated or converted the goods and/or the proceeds of the sale; (c) they performed such acts with abuse of confidence to the damage and prejudice of the entrustor; and (d) demand was made on them by [the trustor] for the remittance of the proceeds or the return of the unsold goods. Land Bank of the Philippines v. Lamberto C. Perez, et al., G.R. No. 166884, June 13, 2012.

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