Sunday, June 28, 2009

Criminal Law: People v Sabalones

294 SCRA 751, August 31, 1998
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,

Fact: Beronga, Sabalones, Alegarbes, and Cabanero were convicted after a shooting incident in Cebu in 1985 which led to the death of Glenn Tiempo and Alfredo Nardo, and fatal injuries of Nelson Tiempo, Rey Bolo and Rogelio Presores. The victims were asked to bring the car of a certain Stephen Lim who also attended a wedding party. Nelson Tiempo drove the car with Rogelio Presores. Alfredo Nardo drove the owner-type jeep along with Glenn Tiempo and Rey Bolo to aid the group back to the party after parking the car at Lim’s house. When they reached the gate, they were met with a sudden burst of gunfire. The accused were identified as the gunmen. The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court. Sabalones and Beronga appealed.

Crime Committed: Two counts of murder, and three counts of frustrated murder

Contention of the People: Prosecution witnesses Edwin Santos and Rogelio Presores testified about the shooting and identified the faces of the accused. Presores was riding in the car that is behind the jeep. He positively identified Sabalones as one of the gunmen. When the gunmen fired at the car, driver Nelson Tiempo immediately maneuvered and arrived at Major Juan Tiempo’s house from which they have escaped death.

Contention of the Accused: Accused-appellants Sabalones and Beronga denied their presence during the commission of the crime. Sabalones presented numerous witnesses who stated that he was sound asleep when the incident took place [since he got tired watching over his brother’s wake]. While Beronga testified that he attended a cock-derby in Cebu, and was fetched by his wife at 7 pm, arrived home by 10:30 pm to sleep. Sabalones even escaped from place to place to flee from the wrath of Maj. Juan Tiempo, the father of the two victims. The defense even pointed out errors from the testimonies of the witnesses arguing that the place where the incident happened is dim and not lighted.

RULING: The appeal is DENIED. Costs against appellants.

Issue 1: Whether the prosecution witnesses and evidences are credible?
Yes. RTC findings were binding to court with appreciated testimonies of two witnesses. There was positive identification by survivors who saw them when they peered during lulls in gunfire. The place was well-lit, whether from post of car’s headlights. The extrajudicial confession has no bearing because the conviction was based on positive identification. It is binding though to the co-accused because it is used as cirmustancial evidence corroborated by one witness. The inconcistencies are minor and inconsequential which strengthen credibility of testimony. Furthermore, in aberratio ictus [mistake in blow], mistake does not diminish culpability; same gravity applies, more proper to use error in personae. Alibi cannot prevail over positive identification by the prosecution witnesses.

Issue 2: Whether the alibis are acceptable?
No. It was still quite near the crime scene. It is overruled by positive identification. Using the case of People v. Nescio, Alibi is not credible when the accused-appellant is only a short distance from the scene of the crime. Furthermore, flight indicates guilt.

Issue 3:Whether the correct penalty is imposed?
No. Under Article 248 of the RPC, the imposable penalty is reclusion temporal in its maximum period, to death. There being no aggravating or mitigating circumstance, aside from the qualifying circumstance of treachery, the appellate court correctly imposed reclusion perpetua for murder. The CA erred in computing the penalty for each of the three counts of frustrated murder. Under Article 50 of the RPC, the penalty for frustrated felony is next lower in degree than that prescribed by law for the consummated felony. Because there are no mitigating or aggravating conspiracy between the two accused. It does not matter that the prosecution has failed to show who was between the two who actually pulled the trigger that killed the child. They are liable as co-conspirators since the act of a conspirator becomes the act of another regardless of the precise degree of participation in the act.

Also there was a presence of treachery, because of the circumstances that the crime was done at night time and that the accused hid themselves among the bamboo. Evident premeditation is also an aggravating circumstance [the accused had planned to kill the victim some days before].

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Constitutional Law: Shipside Inc v Court of Appeals.

GR 143377, February 20, 2001
vs.THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS [Special Former Twelfth Division], HON. REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 26 (San Fernando City, La Union) & The REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

Facts: The petitioner filed a certiorari with the CA containing the requisite certification on non-forum shopping but failed to attach proof that the person signing the certification was authorized to do so. The CA dismissed the petition. The petitioner submits a motion for reconsideration which attached a secretary’s certificate attesting to the signatory’s authority to sign certificates against forum shopping on behalf of the petitioner. When the court of CA denied the motion, the petitioner sought relief with the SC.

Issue: Whether the CA erred in dismissing the petition of Shipside Inc.

Ruling: Yes, the CA erred in the dismissal of the petition. The SC revised the decision of CA recognizing the belated filing of the certifications against forum shopping as permitted in exceptional circumstances. It further held that with more reason should a petition be given due course when this incorporates a certification on non-forum shopping without evidence that the person signing the certifications was an authorized signatory and the petitioner subsequently submits a secretary’s certificate attesting to the signatory’s authority in its motion for consideration.
The court allows belated submission of certifications showing proof of the signatory’s authority in signing the certification of forum shopping.

Costitutional Law: Cabanas v Pilapil

58 SCRA 94, July 25, 1974
MELCHORA CABANAS, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.FRANCISCO PILAPIL, defendant-appellant.

Facts: Deceased Florentino Pilapil, the husband of Melchora Cabanas and the father of Millian Pilapil, left an insurance having his child as the beneficiary and authorized his brother, Francisco Pilapil, to act as trustee during his daughter’s minority. The lower court decided to give the mother of the child the right to act as trustee while her child is a minor citing the appropriate provisions in the Civil Code. The welfare of the child is the paramount consideration here, and the mother resides with the child so she is the rightful trustee. The judiciary pursuant to its role as an agency of the State parens patriae, called for the mother to take responsibility. The defendant appealed for the case. He claims the retention of the amount in question by invoking the terms of the insurance policy. He is the rightful trustee of the insurance policy.

Issue: Whether the mother or the uncle should be entitled to act as a trustee of a minor beneficiary of the proceeds of an insurance policy from her deceased father? Whether the trial court erred in its decision to give the right to the mother?

Ruling: The decision is affirmed with costs against the defendant-appellant. The provisions of Article 320 and 321 of the Civil Code became the basis of the decision. The former provides that “the father, or in his absence the mother, is the legal administrator of the property pertaining to the child under parental authority. If the property is worth more than two thousand pesos, the father or mother shall give a bond subject to the approval of the Court of First Instance." The latter provides that "The property which the unemancipated child has acquired or may acquire with his work or industry, or by any lucrative title, belongs to the child in ownership, and in usufruct to the father or mother under whom he is under parental authority and whose company he lives; ...

With the added circumstance that the child stays with the mother, not the uncle, without any evidence of lack of maternal care, the decision arrived at can stand the test of the strictest scrutiny. The appealed decision is supported by another cogent consideration. It is buttressed by its adherence to the concept that the judiciary, as an agency of the State acting as parens patriae, is called upon whenever a pending suit of litigation affects one who is a minor to accord priority to his best interest This prerogative of parens patriae is inherent in the supreme power of every State, whether that power is lodged in a royal person or in the legislature, and has no affinity to those arbitrary powers which are sometimes exerted by irresponsible monarchs to the great detriment of the people and the destruction of their liberties." What is more, there is this constitutional provision vitalizing this concept. It reads: "The State shall strengthen the family as a basic social institution." 10 If, as the Constitution so wisely dictates, it is the family as a unit that has to be strengthened, it does not admit of doubt that even if a stronger case were presented for the uncle, still deference to a constitutional mandate would have led the lower court to decide as it did.

The trust, insofar as it is in conflict with the above quoted provision of law, is pro tanto null and void. In order, however, to protect the rights of the minor, Millian Pilapil, the plaintiff should file an additional bond in the guardianship proceedings, Sp. Proc. No. 2418-R of this Court to raise her bond therein to the total amount of P5,000.00." 5

Criminal Law: People v Orita

184 SCRA 105, April 3, 1990
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.CEILITO ORITA alias "Lito," defendant-appellant

Facts: Ceilito Orita was accused of frustrated rape by the RTC. He appealed to the Court of Appeals for review. The accused poke a “balisong” to college freshman Cristina Abayan as soon as she got into her boarding house early morning after arriving from a party. She knew him as a frequent visitor of another boarder. She was dragged inside the house up the stairs while his left arm wrapped around her neck, and his right hand poking the Batangas knife to her neck. Upon entering her room, he pushed her in and got her head hit on the wall. He immediately undressed while still holding the knife with one hand, and ordered her to do the same. He ordered her to lie down on the floor and then mounted her. He asked her to hold his penis and insert it in her vagina, while still poking the knife to her. She followed, but the appellant could not fully penetrate her in such a position. Next, he laid down on his back and commanded her to mount him, but he cannot fully penetrate her. When Orita’s hands were both flat on the floor, complainant escaped naked. She ran from room to room as appellant pursued her, and finally jumped out through a window. She went to the municipal building nearby and knocked on the back door for there was no answer. When the door opened, the policemen inside the building saw her crying and naked. She was given a jacket for covering by the first policeman who saw her. The policemen dashed to her boarding house but failed to apprehend the accused. She was brought to a hospital for physical examination. Her PE revealed that she is still a virgin, with abrasions on the left breast, left and right knees, and multiple pinpoint marks on her back, among others. The trial court convicted the accused of frustrated rape.

Crime Committed: Frustrated Rape
Issue: Whether or not the frustrated stage applies to the crime of rape?

Contention of the Accused: The accused contends that there is no crime of frustrated rape. The trial court erred in disregarding the substantial inconsistencies in the testimonies of the witnesses; and the trial court erred in declaring that the crime of frustrated rape was committed by the accused. He was not able to fully penetrate in her. The accused also questions also the failure of the prosecution to present other witnesses to corroborate the allegations in the complaint. The accused used the Article 266 of the RPC to show that he is not guilty of frustrated rape, and Article 6 to stress the difference of consummated, frustrated, and attempted felonies.

Contention of the People: The victim's testimony from the time she knocked on the door of the municipal building up to the time she was brought to the hospital was corroborated by Pat. Donceras. Rather than discredit the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, discrepancies on minor details must be viewed as adding credence and veracity to such spontaneous testimonies. The accused committed rape.

Ruling: The decision of the RTC is hereby MODIFIED. The accused Ceilito Orita is hereby found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape [consummated] and sentenced to reclusion perpetua as well as to indemnify the victim in the amount of P30,000.00.

Clearly, in the crime of rape, from the moment the offender has carnal knowledge of his victim he actually attains his purpose and, from that moment also all the essential elements of the offense have been accomplished. Nothing more is left to be done by the offender, because he has performed the last act necessary to produce the crime. Thus, the felony is consummated. [Art. 266 and Art. 6]
We have set the uniform rule that for the consummation of rape, perfect penetration is not essential. Any penetration of the female organ by the male organ is sufficient. Entry of the labia or lips of the female organ, without rupture of the hymen or laceration of the vagina is sufficient to warrant conviction

Criminal Law: People v Talingdan

84 SCRA 19, July 8, 1978
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,

Facts: Bernardo Bagabag was murdered in his own house in Abra on June 24, 1967 by Talingdan, Tobias, Berras, Bides and Teresa Domogma, his alleged wife [whom cannot be charged with parricide because no certificate or proof of marriage could be presented by the prosecution]. The murder was witnessed by Corazon [12], the eldest child of Bernardo and Teresa. She testified to the crime committed by the accused-appellants.

Story: [I want to include this so that you could get the whole thing; it is your option to write it or not on your record books. This is the summary of Corazon’s testimony.] Prior to the violent incident, Bernardo and Teresa have had several conflicts in their married life. She would often withdraw from their house. The longest even for more than 3 weeks. It was suspected that Teresa is having an illicit affair with Talingdan, a policeman who lives nearby. Two days before the crime, Teresa was slapped several times by Bernardo after a violent quarrel. She sought the help of Talingdan who challenged Bernardo to come down, but the latter refused. Then, Talingdan left after shouting "If I will find you someday, I will kill you." Two days before the commission of the crime, Corazon overheard her mother’s meeting with the other accused-appellants about their plot to kill her father as one of them said, “Shall he elude a bullet?” Corazon was then driven away by her mother saying, “You tell your father that we will kill him.” On the night of the murder, Corazon was cooking food for supper when she saw her mother talking with the other accused-appellants in their “batalan” armed with long guns. After a while, Teresa went inside the room to put her baby to sleep. After eating supper alone, Corazon told her father about the persons outside but he ignored her. He went to the kitchen and sat on the floor near the door then he was fired. Talingdan and Tobias fired their guns again. Bides threatened to kill Corazon if she would ask for help. Corazon confessed to her father’s relatives the identities of the murderers during his burial. The trial court found them guilty of the offense and so the five accused appealed to their conviction.

Crime Committed: Murder
[and the sentence of life imprisonment with indemnity to the offended party, the heirs of the deceased Bernardo Bagabag, in the amount of P12,000]

Contention of the Accused: According to Teresa, there was no illicit affair between her and Talingdan. She loved her husband. Contrary to the testimony of Corazon, they never quarreled nor did the former maltreat her. She never left home for so long. And she was cooking for supper, and not Corazon, on the night of the murder. She contends that her in-laws used her daughter to testify against her because they don’t want Teresa from the start. She even added that Bernardo had some enemies during his lifetime. Talingdan said that he escorted the Mayor as a bodyguard, while the other three accused also claimed that they were at a certain Mrs. Bayongan’s house during the night of the murder.

Contention of the People: The sworn statement of the 13-year old Corazon was true. She knew the accused because they live nearby their place. Besides, the accused-appellants testimonies are indefensible and futile. Moreover, her mother claimed to have no suspect in mind during the investigation in their house although she was in conspiracy with the other four accused.

Ruling: The court affirmed the decision held by the trial court with costs. There are two aggravating circumstances present, treachery and evident premeditation, with no mitigating circumstances to offset the accused-appellants. Talingdan, Tobias, Berras, and Bides are guilty beyond reasonable doubt of murder and are sentenced to DEATH to be executed in accordance with law. Teresa Domogma is guilty as accessory to the same murder, and is hereby sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of 5 years prision correccional as minimum to 8 years of prision mayor as maximum, with the accessory penalties of the law.

What about Teresa’s conviction? Teresa was more or less passive in her attitude regarding her co-appellants' conspiracy, known to her. After Bernardo was killed, she became active in her cooperation with them. These subsequent acts of her constitute "concealing or assisting in the escape of the principal in the crime" which makes her liable as an accessory --- paragraph 3 of Article 19 of the Revised Penal Code. [Please check Art 19 on your PRC and write it down if you wish. I strongly recommend it so.]