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PhilippineLaw.

info Jurisprudence 1989 February


PhilippineLaw.info Jurisprudence SCRA Vol. 170

G.R. No. 81031, Alejandro v. People and


Sandiganbayan, 170 SCRA
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
DECISION
February 20, 1989
G.R. No. 81031
DR. ARTURO L. ALEJANDRO, petitioner,
vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN,
respondents.
Rodolfo B. Fernandez for petitioner. The Solicitor General for respondent.
Padilla, J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the Sandiganbayan, dated
30 July 1987, finding petitioner Dr. Arturo L. Alejandro guilty of the offense of
violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019, known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt
Practices Act. The factual background of the case is as follows:
Dr. Arturo L. Alejandro was the duly appointed officer-incharge (OIC) of the
President Ferdinand E. Marcos Emergency Hospital (FEMEH) in Diffun, Province
of Quirino, from 20 March 1982 until his retirement from the service on 31 July
1982, or for a period of at least four (4) months. The service record of the petitioner
shows that he had been in the public service since July 1942 until his retirement,
serving the government for forty (40) long years. He first worked at the Bayombong
Hospital in Nueva Viscaya; thereafter, he was made a resident physician of Mangan
Hospital (now known as Ifugao Community Hospital). He became the Chief of
Itbayan Emergency Hospital in 1965-1971, Mayayao Emergency Hospital in 19711975 and the Aglipay Emergency Hospital in 1975-1982. 1
On 20 March 1982, while still the Chief of Aglipay Emergency Hospital, petitioner
was appointed as OIC of FEMEH. Petitioner held both positions concurrently,
drawing his salary from the Aglipay Emergency Hospital. He shuttled from one
hospital to the other to attend to and supervise both hospitals. 2
On 20 September 1982, thirty (30) employees of FEMEH filed a complaint against
petitioner Dr. Arturo L. Alejandro, Virgilio P. Bunao and Cesar R. Dupa, with the
Office of the President, alleging that during the term of petitioner as OIC of
FEMEH, the hospital received an allotment for the third quarter of 1982 (July,
August and September) in the amount of P 93,950.00 for personnel services and
P74,500.00 for maintenance and other operating expenses. It is claimed that upon

Petitioner's retirement on 30 July 1982, nothing was left of the funds of the hospital
with the bank except for the amount of P 168.00, as a result of which, the employees
of the hospital were not paid their salaries and allowances for the second half of July
and for the months of August and September 1982. 3
Acting on behalf of the President, the Ministry of National Defense referred the
complaint to the Tanodbayan for appropriate action. Pursuant to such referral, an
investigation was conducted by the NBI. After evaluating the evidence submitted,
the Director of the NBI made a recommendation for further investigation of the case
on the ground that the specific liabilities of the accused could not be ascertained due
to the absence of vital evidence. 4
The Director of Regional Health Office No. 2 of Tuguegarao, Cagayan also ordered
the Regional Finance Officer and Accountant to conduct an investigation.
In an information dated 18 September 1985, petitioner Dr. Arturo L. Alejandro in
his then capacity as OIC of FEMEH, together with Virgilio P. Bunao and Cesar R.
Dupa, in their capacity as Administrative Officer and Bookkeeper of the hospital,
respectively, were charged with the crime of Technical Malversation before the
Sandiganbayan, docketed as Criminal Case No. 9721. 5
Subsequently, another information was filed against the same accused for violation
of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (R.A. No. 3019),
docketed as Criminal Case No. 10947. The information reads:
That during or between the period July 31, 1982 to September 30, 1982 in the
Municipality of Diffun, Quirino, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Tribunal, accused Dr. Arturo L. Alejandro, Chief of Hospital, Virgilio A.
[sic] Bunao, Administrative Officer, and Cesar R. Dupa, Bookkeeper, all of
President Ferdinand E. Marcos District Hospital of Diffun, Quirino Province, taking
advantage of their public positions through evident bad faith and/or gross
inexcusable negligence, did then and there wilfully and unlawfully disbursed [sic] P
116,283.49 for the maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) when the
third quarter 1982 allotment for the purpose was only P 74,500.00, thereby
incurring over-expenditure amounting to P 41,783.49 which latter amount was taken
from the P 93,950.00 intended for personnel services resulting in the non-payment of
the salaries, wages and allowances of employees of aforementioned hospital for the
months of July, August and September 1982, thereby causing undue injury and
damage to the employees of said hospital.
CONTRARY TO LAW. 6
It was established that two (2) finding checks were released in favor of the hospital
in July 1982 for the third quarter of that same year in the amounts of P 93,950.00
and P74,500.00, earmarked for personnel services and for maintenance and other
operating expenses, respectively.
Out of the P93,950.00 alloted for personnel services for the third quarter of 1982,
the amount of P45,389.93 was used for payment of the back salaries of the hospital
employees for the second quarter of 1982, and the amount of P7,610.00 was used to
pay for the salaries of the employees for the first half of July 1982. The remaining
balance of P40,950.07 was spent for maintenance and other operating expenses, as a

consequence of which, the hospital employees were not paid their salaries for the
second half of July and for the whole months of August and September 1982. The
allotment for the third quarter of 1982 for personnel services as well as the fund
reserved for maintenance and operating expenses had already been used up before
the end of the third quarter or as early as 26 July 1982.
On 27 October 1982, the Regional Health Office undertook payment of the salaries
of the employees of FEMEH for the remainder of the third quarter of 1982.
After joint hearing of the two (2) criminal cases against petitioner and his coaccused, the Sandiganbayan rendered a decision 7 dated 30 July 1987, acquitting the
accused of the charge of Technical Malversation, holding that there was no proof of
diversion of funds. As to the criminal charge for violation of Section 3(e) of the AntiGraft and Corrupt Practices Act, the accused were found guilty thereof.
The dispositive part of the decision reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, in Criminal Case No. 10947, the Court finds the accused Dr. Arturo
L. Alejandro, Virgilio P. Bunao and Cesar R. Dupa GUILTY beyond reasonable
doubt of the offense of Violation of Sec. 3 (E) of R.A. 3019, otherwise known as the
Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, as approved on August 17, 1960.
Appreciating in favor of the accused the fact that the accused gave themselves up to
the authorities voluntarily and, there being no circumstances in aggravation of the
offense, the Court sentences each and every one of the aforesaid accused, namely,
Dr. Arturo L. Alejandro, Virgilio P. Bunao and Cesar R. Dupa, to the indeterminate
penalty of imprisonment of, from ONE YEAR to THREE YEARS; to perpetual
disqualification from holding public office; and to pay proportionate costs.
No civil liability is adjudged in view of the fact that the offended parties were paid
their back salaries and allowances on October 27, 1982.
In Criminal Case No. 972 1, upon failure of proof beyond reasonable doubt, it is the
judgment of this Court that the accused should be, as they are, hereby
ACQUITTED of the offense of Technical Malversation herein charged, with costs de
oficio.
The bail bonds posted by the accused for their temporary liberty in respect to this
case is ordered cancelled.
SO ORDERED. 8
A motion for reconsideration was filed by petitioner Dr. Arturo L. Alejandro and
Cesar R. Dupa, but the same was denied in a resolution dated 1 December 1987. 9
From the aforequoted decision, petitioner filed the appeal at bar questioning his
conviction for alleged violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt
Practices Act. It is the contention of Petitioner that in signing the disbursing checks
for July 1982, he did not commit any act amounting to evident bad faith and/ or
gross negligence for he never derived any pecuniary benefit from said checks. He
further argues that he never had anything to do with the preparation or filling up of
the material data in the checks and vouchers, and that all that be did was to
ministerially sign them after verifying that the necessary signatures and approval of
the administrative officer and the bookkeeper existed. Good faith and lack of malice

is a valid defense to the charge of violation of Sec. 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and
Corrupt Practices Act.
On the other hand, the public respondent through the Office of the Solicitor
General, argues that when the accused over-spent for maintenance and other
operating expenses, utilizing in the process funds allocated for personnel services,
and thereby failed to pay the salaries of hospital employees for the entire third
quarter of 1982, causing damages to the latter, a violation of Sec. 3(e) of the AntiGraft and Corrupt Practices Act was committed; and that petitioner's act amounted
to a total abdication of duty and responsibility amounting to gross negligence which
rules out the defense of good faith. Sec. 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices
Act punishes any public officer for(e) Causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any
private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of
his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident
bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence. This provision shall apply to officers and
employees of offices or government corporations charged with the grant of licenses
or permits or other concessions.
In order that one may be held criminally liable under said section, the act of the
accused which caused undue injury must have been done with evident bad faith or
with gross inexcusable negligence. Gross negligence has been defined as negligence
characterized by the want of even slight care, acting or omitting to act in a situation
where there is a duty to act, not inadvertently but wilfully and intentionally with a
conscious indifference to consequences in so far as other persons may be affected. 10
It is the omission of that care which even inattentive and thoughtless men never fail
to take on their own property. 11
It has been established before the court a quo that in the disbursements of funds of
the hospital, a procedure had to be faithfully complied with. Upon filing of a
Requisition and Issue Voucher (RIV) the Administrative Officer must first certify
that the expenditure is necessary and lawful. The RIV is then sent to the Bookkeeper
for certification as to the availability of funds for the purpose. Only after the Chief
of the Hospital has approved the disbursement can the same be given due course.
The check covering the disbursement voucher has to be signed by the Chief of the
Hospital and the Administrative Officer. 12
In case of refusal of any of said three (3) officials (i.e., Administrative Officer,
Bookkeeper and Chief of the Hospital) to sign the requisition and issue voucher
(RIV) no fund could be released for disbursement. The reason why each of these
three (3) officials was required to sign the RIV was to prevent any unofficial
expenditure, in the disbursement of funds, each of said official having a separate
responsibility or obligation.
It was the responsibility of the Bookkeeper to inform the Chief of the hospital
whether or not there was an available fund from the allocated amount for a given
expenditure. If there was, he would issue a certification attached to the RIV upon its
submission for approval to the Chief of the Hospital. It was not, therefore, really the
duty of the Chief of the hospital to verify from the books of accounts of the hospital

whether there was an available fund every time a disbursement was needed for
release. The same rule was also applied to the Administrative Officer who was
required to issue a certification to the effect that the expenditure was necessary and
lawful.
To impose criminal liability upon petitioner who was misled into giving his approval
to a particular disbursement on the basis of the Bookkeeper's certification that there
was fund available for said expenditure would be too harsh and inequitable (even if
such fund turned out to be unavailable).
Petitioner's reliance on the correctness of the certifications of the Bookkeeper and
Administrative Officer which resulted in the application of a portion of the fund for
personnel services to maintenance and other operating expenses for the hospital,
cannot be classified as "gross inexcusable negligence". There was no evident bad
faith or malicious intent in his part to cause undue injury to the hospital employees.
In giving his approval to the disbursements for that period, it was evident that he
was merely misled by the certification of the Bookkeeper. Furthermore, the fund for
personnel services was not solely used for maintenance and other operating expenses
of the hospital but also in payment of the back salaries of the hospital employees.
It was also shown in the court a quo that transfer or "juggling" (if you may) of
funds from one quarter to a preceeding quarter had been practiced by the former
Chief of the hospital as early as 1978, and it was merely carried over during the
term of herein petitioner.
Petitioner acted as OIC of the hospital for only about four (4) months, concurrently
with his position as Chief of the Aglipay Emergency Hospital. Considering that his
duties as Chief of both hospitals entailed a lot of responsibility not only on the
management side but also in the treatment of their patients, it is almost
unreasonable to have expected petitioner to directly and personally check the books
of accounts of FEMEH to find out if indeed there was an available fund from the
allotted amount whenever a disbursement was submitted to him for approval. His
act of relying upon the Bookkeeper's certification to the effect that there was an
available fund for the disbursement sought to be approved cannot be considered
gross inexcusable negligence.
Moreover, one of the elements of the crime described in Sec. 3(e) of the Anti-Graft
and Corrupt Practices Act is that there should be undue injury caused to any party.
However, in the 30 July 1987 decision of the respondent Sandiganbayan, it is
recognized that there was no proof of damage caused to the employees of the
hospital since they were in fact paid on 27 October 1982 their salaries for the entire
third quarter of 1982. 13
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED, and the decision of the Sandiganbayan
dated 30 July 1987 in Criminal Case No. 10947 is SET ASIDE. Petitioner is
ACQUITTED of the charge of violation of Sec. 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt
Practices Act (R.A. 3019).
SO ORDERED
G.R. No. 174472 June 19, 2007

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff- Appellee,


vs.
BENIGNO FETALINO y GABALDON, Accused-Appellant.
DECISION
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
For Review is the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals promulgated on 31 May 2006 in CAG.R. CR-H.C. No. 02162 entitled, "People of the Philippines v. Benigno Fetalino y
Gabaldon," affirming, with modification, the Judgment2 dated 29 July 2004 of the
Regional Trial Court of Mandaluyong City, Branch 213, in Criminal Cases No. MC-991445, MC- 99-1446, MC-99-1447-H, MC 99-1448-H, and MC-99-1449-H.
Appellant stood charged with two counts of acts of lasciviousness and three counts of
rape allegedly committed against the person of his own daughter, AAA. 3 The
Informations, all signed by Assistant City Prosecutor Carlos A. Valenzuela, state:
In Criminal Case No. MC-99-1445
That on or about the 21st day of March 1999, in the City of XXX, Philippines, a place
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with lewd
design, by force and intimidation, did, then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously commit acts of lasciviousness upon the person of [his] daughter AAA, a girl
sixteen (16) years of age, and subjected to sexual abuse, by inserting his finger into her
vagina against her will and consent.4
In Criminal Case No. MC-99-1446
That on or about the 22nd day of March 1999, in the City of XXX, Philippines, a place
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with lewd
design, by force and intimidation, did, then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously commit acts of lasciviousness upon the person of [his] daughter, AAA, a girl
sixteen (16) years of age, and subjected to sexual abuse, by inserting his finger into her
vagina against her will and consent.5
In Criminal Case No. MC-99-1447-H
That on or about the 23rd day of March 1999, in the City of XXX, Philippines, a place
[within] the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with lewd
design, by means of force and intimidation, did, then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously have carnal knowledge of [his] daughter AAA, a girl sixteen years of age, and
subjected to sexual abuse, all against her will and consent.6
In Criminal Case No. MC 99-1448-H
That on or about the 24th day of March 1999, in the City of XXX, Philippines, a place
[within] the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with lewd
design, by means of force and intimidation, did, then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously have carnal knowledge of [his] daughter AAA, a girl sixteen years of age, and
subjected to sexual abuse, all against her will and consent.7
In Criminal Case No. MC 99-1449-H
That on or about the 25th day of March 1999, in the City of XXX, Philippines, a place

[within] the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with lewd
design, by means of force and intimidation, did, then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously have carnal knowledge of [his] daughter AAA, a girl sixteen years of age and
subjected to sexual abuse, all against her will and consent.8
On 20 April 1999, the arraignment for Criminal Cases No. MC-99-1445 and MC-99 991446 was held at which time appellant pleaded not guilty to the charges of acts of
lasciviousness.9 On 10 February 2000, he entered a similar plea to the three counts of
rape in Criminal Cases No. MC-99-1447-H, MC-99-1448-H, and MC-99-1449-H. 10 Joint
trial of the five cases thereafter ensued with the prosecution presenting five witnesses,
namely: AAA, the private complainant; BBB, AAAs mother and appellants live-in
partner; Dr. Winston S. Tan (Dr. Tan), Medico-Legal Officer of the Philippine National
Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory in Camp Crame, Quezon City; SPO4 Julieta Espiritu
(SPO4 Espiritu), Chief of the Womens Desk of the PNP, XXX City; and POS Rolando
Tejada (POS Tejada).
AAA was called to the witness stand as a hostile witness by the prosecution. The reason
behind this unusual move was explained by the prosecutor during the offer of AAAs
testimony:
Before we proceed your honor, may we manifest that we are presenting this witness as
our hostile witness in view of her declaration before this representation that she is no
longer interested in prosecuting this case against the accused your honor, and in view
likewise, of the manifestation given before this honorable court by the counsel for the
accused that the victim and the mother of the victim came to see him to ask her (sic) to
desist.11
AAA testified that appellant raped her on three separate instances in March 1999. She
recalled that the events transpired in their house which was then undergoing renovation. 12
Appellant allegedly undressed her and inserted his private organ into her vagina for
which she felt pain and cried. She claimed that she tried to resist appellants bestial attack
and that she struggled with him by trying to remove his hands. She could not shout for
help as appellant threatened her with harm. After satisfying his lust, appellant told her not
to report the incident to anybody or else he would kill her and her mother. She, however,
finally revealed her sad experiences to her mother sometime in 1999. Thereafter, she was
brought to the crime laboratory in Camp Crame, Quezon City for a medical examination.
The physical examination was conducted by Dr. Tan whose test confirmed that AAA was
already in a non-virgin state physically. The pertinent portion of Dr. Tans medico-legal
report states:
GENITAL:
There is absence of pubic hair. Labia majora are full, convex and coaptated with the
pinkish brown labia minora presenting in between. On separating the same disclosed an
elastic, fleshy-type hymen with deep healed lacerations at 7 and 9 oclock and shallow
healed laceration at 6 oclock positions. External vaginal orifice offers strong resistance
to the introduction of the examining index finger. Vaginal canal is narrow with prominent
rugorsities. Cervix is firm and closed.13
Dr. Tan confirmed having performed the medical examination on the person of AAA.
According to him, their office received a request from the XXX Police Station for the

conduct of a "medico-legal/physical examination" on AAA who was a victim of an


"alleged sexual abuse/molestation perpetrated by her biological father." 14 AAA and BBB
were then subjected to a brief interview after which they both signed the consent form for
the said examination.15 Dr. Tan likewise explained that the most common cause of a
hymenal laceration is the insertion into the vagina of an erect male genitalia or any other
object of the same consistency.16
BBB, AAAs mother, stated that she and appellant were engaged in a common law
relationship and together they begot five children17 including AAA. On the evening of 25
March 1999, BBB came home from Divisoria where she earned a living as a vendor.
When she reached their house, a certain Paul Quiambao, a carpenter she hired to do some
minor repairs in their abode, came to see her and informed her that he saw appellant on
top of AAA. In the vernacular, Paul allegedly told BBB that AAA was "ginagalaw" by
appellant. Immediately after Paul left, BBB talked to AAA to confirm the harrowing
news that she had just received. AAA finally had the courage to reveal to her mother that
her predicament in the hands of her own father started on 22 March 1999 and it occurred
everyday thereafter until 25 March 1999. She and AAA then proceeded to the barangay
hall to report the misdeeds of appellant. After this, their barangay captain and members of
the police came to their house to look for appellant who allegedly tried to flee after seeing
the authorities. He was eventually arrested and taken to the police station. The barangay
officials then instructed her and AAA to go to the police station in order for them to file a
complaint against appellant.
In the police station, she and AAA gave their respective sworn statements to the
investigating officer.18
SPO4 Espiritu testified that she was the investigator assigned to the case. During her
investigation, AAA complained that in the afternoon of 21 March 1999, when the latter
arrived home from school, appellant entered her room and, at knife point, embraced and
kissed her. Unsatisfied with these initial condemnable acts, appellant thereafter inserted
his finger into AAAs vagina. This incident would be repeated the following day, 22
March 1999.
Unfortunately for AAA, her ordeal would even take a turn for the worse for on 23 March
1999, appellant apparently became more emboldened and could no longer contain his
bestial desires; thus, he proceeded to have carnal knowledge of AAA. AAA had to suffer
such abuse on two more separate instances which occurred on 24 and 25 March 1999.
The prosecution presented, as its last witness, POS Tejada, who was a member of the
team which responded to the complaint of AAA and BBB on 26 March 1999. His turn at
the witness stand was brief, as appellants counsel admitted the substance of POS
Tejadas would-be testimony which pertained mainly to the circumstances surrounding
the arrest of appellant.
For his part, appellant offered the hackneyed defense of denial to refute the charges
brought against him. Appellant narrated that he and BBB had been live-in lovers for
almost 25 years. He admitted that AAA was indeed one of their children. 19 In 1977, he
was imprisoned for murder and was ordered released from detention on 23 February
1996. From the time he regained freedom, he allegedly stayed in the house of one of his
legitimate children located somewhere in Paco, Manila. During the time material to the

case, however, he was at the house he used to share with BBB and their children located
at No. XXX St., XXX Drive, XXX City. Said house was undergoing renovation at that
time.
Appellant claimed that the present criminal charges were brought against him in
retaliation for the physical injuries he inflicted upon BBB during one of their heated
arguments which became frequent as he wanted BBB and her new live-in partner to move
out of their house in XXX St. In fact, according to appellant, BBB even charged him with
physical injuries which was raffled off to a different branch of the court.
To bolster appellants claim of innocence, the defense presented CCC, another one of his
children with BBB. In CCCs recollection, at the time the criminal acts complained of
took place, she was in their house together with AAA, their brother DDD, and appellant.
She, however, insisted that nothing unusual happened during those dates. She
remembered that although appellant was in their house, he spent most of his time inside
his room fixing his belongings.
As for its last witness, the defense recalled BBB to the witness stand in order to prove
that the only reason she executed her sworn statement before the police was because she
was angry with appellant for having stabbed her during one of their fights.
After trial, the court a quo found appellant guilty as charged in all the cases filed against
him. The dispositive portion of the trial courts judgment states:
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, judgment is hereby rendered in Criminal Case Nos.
MC-99-1445 and MC-99-1446, finding the accused BENIGNO FETALINO Y
GABALDON, GUILTY, beyond reasonable doubt of Acts of Lasciviousness defined and
penalized under Article III, Section 5[b] of Republic Act 7610, and he is hereby
sentenced to suffer for each of the two (2) charges, the penalty of twelve (12) years and
one (1) day to fourteen (14) years of reclusion temporal, as minimum and maximum,
respectively.
Decision is also hereby rendered in Criminal Cases Nos. MC-99-1447-H, MC-99-1448-H
and MC-99-1449-H finding the accused, BENIGNO FETALINO Y GABALDON,
GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of RAPE defined and penalized under
Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by the Republic Act 7659 and R.A.
8353. Finding the victim to be under eighteen (18) years of age at the time of the
commission of the crime, and that the offender is the father, this court imposes upon same
BENIGNO FETALINO Y GABALDON, for EACH charge, the supreme penalty of
DEATH through lethal injection, as provided for in R.A. 8177, amending Section 24, of
R.A. 7659 in the manner and procedure therein provided.
Moreover, pursuant to [A]rticle 100 in relation to Article 104 of the Revised Penal Code,
governing civil indemnity, accused is furthermore ordered to indemnify the minor victim,
AAA, the amount of Php50,000.00, by way of moral damages in line with the reward
made under the case of People vs. Bonday (222 SCRA 216) and another Php25,000.00
for exemplary damages to deter other sexual perverts or two legged-beast from sexually
assaulting or molesting hapless and innocent girls.
As the penalty imposed is [TRIPLE] DEATH, the City Jail Warden is directed to
immediately commit the person of BENIGNO FETALINO Y GABALDON to the
National Prisons at Muntinlupa, Metro Manila.20

In view of the death penalty imposed by the trial court, the cases were automatically
elevated to this Court for review. However, in our Resolution dated 13 December 2005, 21
we ordered the remand of these cases to the Court of Appeals pursuant to our holding in
People v. Mateo.22
In its assailed Decision, the appellate court modified the decision of the trial court by
acquitting appellant of the two charges of rape and by downgrading the penalty imposed
in Criminal Case No. MC-99-1447-H from death to reclusion perpetua
WHEREFORE, the judgment of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 213 of Mandaluyong
City convicting accused-appellant Benigno Fetalino of the crime of two (2) counts of acts
of lasciviousness in Criminal Case Nos. MC-99-1445 and MC-99-1446 and for rape in
Criminal Case No. MC-99-1447-H is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that the
penalty of death imposed by the trial court for the crime of rape should be reduced to
reclusion perpetua. Accused-appellant is ordered to pay complainant AAA the following
amounts:
1. the total amount of P50,000.00 as moral damages;
2. P50,000.00 as civil indemnity; and
3. P25,000.00 as exemplary damages.
As regards Criminal Case Nos. MC-99-1448-H and MC-99-1449-H, accused is hereby
ACQUITTED for failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.23
Once again, appellants case is before us for our consideration raising the following
errors:
I
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE GUILT OF THE
ACCUSED-APPELLANT FOR THE [CRIMES] CHARGED HAS BEEN PROVEN
BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.
II
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN GIVING WEIGHT AND CREDENCE TO
THE INCREDIBLE TESTIMONY OF THE PROSECUTION WITNESSES.
III
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN IMPOSING UPON THE ACCUSEDAPPELLANT THE SUPREME PENALTY OF DEATH AS THE AGE OF THE
PRIVATE COMPLAINANT HAS NOT BEEN SUFFICIENTYLY PROVED.24
The appeal is partly meritorious.
At the outset, we would like to impart our observation as regards the proper charge that
should have been filed against appellant for the incidents that transpired on 21 and 22
March 1999, during which he inserted his finger into the vagina of AAA. For these acts,
which spawned Criminal Cases No. MC-99-1445 and MC-99-1446, appellant was
indicted merely for two counts of acts of lasciviousness when the appropriate charges
should have been two separate counts of rape under Article 266-A(2) of the Revised
Penal Code. It must be remembered that Articles 266-A and 266-B are the amendments
introduced to the Revised Penal Code by Republic Act No. 8353 or the "The Anti-Rape

Law of 1997," which took effect on 22 October 1997. With these amendments, rape was
reclassified as a crime against person and not merely a crime against chastity. Article
266-A of the Revised Penal Code states:
Art. 266-A. Rape; When and How Committed. Rape is committed:
1) By a man who [shall] have carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following
circumstances:
a) Through force, threat, or intimidation;
b) When the offended party is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious;
c) By means of fraudulent machination or grave abuse of authority; and
d) When the offended party is under twelve (12) years of age or is demented, even though
none of the circumstances mentioned above be present.
2) By any person who, under any of the circumstances mentioned in paragraph 1 hereof,
shall commit an act of sexual assault by inserting his penis into another persons mouth or
anal orifice, or any instrument or object into the genital or anal orifice of another person.
The first paragraph of Article 266-A refers to the traditional concept of rape; that is,
having sexual intercourse with a woman against her will. The second paragraph, on the
other hand, is categorized as rape by sexual assault.25
In the case of People v. Soriano,26 appellant therein was charged with 13 counts of rape
by sexual assault for having inserted his finger inside the private organ of his minor
daughter. After reviewing the records of said case, we adjudged appellant therein guilty
of 12 counts rape by sexual assault, bearing in mind the expanded definition of rape
under Republic Act No. 8353.
Subsequently, in People v. Palma,27 appellant therein was charged with six counts of
qualified rape committed between the second week of October 1997 and the first week of
November 1997. This case was brought before us on automatic appeal in view of the
death sentence imposed by the trial court. It must be noted that two of the charges arose
from appellants acts of inserting his finger into the vagina of his victim. The first of such
incidents happened during the second week of October 1997 when appellant inserted his
thumb into the victims vaginal orifice. Then, sometime during the first week of
November 1997, appellant inserted his middle finger into the vagina of the private
complainant. In disposing said case, we declared
x x x In Criminal Case No. 8177, the first incident of insertion of appellants finger into
the victims vagina during the second week of October 1997 could only render appellant
guilty of an act of lasciviousness. The second incident of the insertion of appellants
middle finger, however, during the first week of November 1997, constituted
consummated rape through sexual assault under Republic Act No. 8353 or the "The AntiRape Law of 1997," which took effect on 22 October 1997 x x x."28
With these precedents, it is clear that the insertion of ones finger into the genital or anal
orifice of another person constitutes rape by sexual assault and not merely an act of
lasciviousness like what was erroneously charged in this case. Much as we want to punish
appellant for his appalling acts toward AAA in Criminal Cases Nos. MC-99-1445 and
MC-99-1446, we are enjoined by our primordial duty to observe appellants

constitutionally guaranteed right to be informed of the charges against him. Certainly, we


cannot allow ourselves to be the ones to perpetrate the denial of appellants right to due
process. He cannot be punished for an offense graver than that with which he was
charged.29
In his Brief, appellant invokes the settled rule that under our jurisdiction, an accused is
presumed innocent until proven guilty and to overcome this presumption, the prosecution
must establish the guilt of an accused beyond reasonable doubt. He contends that in this
case, the fact that the prosecution presented AAA as a hostile witness casts doubt as to the
culpability of appellant. He also insists that the testimony of AAA was unconvincing and
vague and points to the following portions of her statement in the witness stand:
Q. Who was raped by Benigno Fetalino?
A. Me, maam.
Q. When was (sic) you raped by Benigno Fetalino?
A. I cannot recall anymore, maam.
Q. Could it be in the year 1999?
A. Yes, maam.
Q. Could it be in the month of March?
A. Yes, maam.
Q. Where did the alleged raping incident took place?
A. In our house.
Q. Where is your house located?
A. XXX Street, XXX City.
Q. How many times were you raped in March 1999?
A. Three (3) times.
Q. Is it on the same date or on different dates of March 1999?
A. Same dates, maam.
Q. Are you sure of that?
A. Yes, maam.
PROS. SILAO:
I would like to remind you again Madam Witness that you are under oath and you can be
held liable for telling a lie.
Q. What time was the first rape committed?
A. It was then in the afternoon after my mother arrived.
Q. What time did your mother arrived on that afternoon?
A. 5:00 p.m.
Q. What about the second rape, what time was it?
A. I cannot recall the time anymore.

Q. What about the third rape?


A. I cannot recall anymore, maam.
Q. But all in the year 1999 of March?
A. Yes, maam.30
The seeming reluctance of AAA, as punctuated by appellant, is precisely one of the
principal motivations which propelled our legislature to reclassify the crime of rape as a
crime against person. As explained by Congresswoman Luz Reyes Bakunawa during her
sponsorship speech of the House Bill No. 6265 which eventually became Republic Act
No. 8353
This reclassification is necessary because under the existing law, only the victim can file
a complaint, if she wishes, or her parents, or grandparents in that order, which is very
restrictive. The bill now prescribes that any citizen can file a complaint, even if the
complainant may not be the victim, or close relative of the victim. This is the significance
of the change that intends to bring the criminal to the bar of justice even if the victim may
not decide to complain due to fear, shame, or for other reasons. 31
Thus, despite the claimed disinterest of AAA in pursuing the charges against appellant,
the choice of whether the cases would prosper was no longer hers alone. Besides, at the
time AAA was presented as a witness, almost three years had already lapsed. Events must
have taken place or influence might have been exerted upon her that could have
weakened her resolve to seek justice for what was done to her. However, the fact remains
that AAA never categorically denied in open court the charges she hurled at appellant. On
the contrary, when AAA was subjected to cross-examination, she affirmed that appellant
had indeed raped her, thus:
COURT:
Q. Do you know why you were (sic) here, Madam Witness?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Why?
A. Because we have a hearing.
Q. Do you know for a fact that you filed a rape case against the accused in this case?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Tell us the reason why you filed this case?
A. Because he raped me.
Q. Did anyone forced (sic) you to file a case against the accused herein?
A. None, sir.
Q. In what part of your house were you raped?
A. Inside my fathers bedroom.
Q. How many bedrooms do you have in your house?
A. Two only, sir.

Q. So, at the time you were rape you were inside your fathers bedroom?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. You will agree with me that the door of the room has a lock, Madam Witness?
A. None sir, it was open because our house was under renovation then.
Q. When the accused inserted his penis into your vagina, you did not resisted (sic)?
A. I resisted.
Q. How did you resisted (sic), Madam Witness?
A. I struggled.
Q. In what way?
A. I remove (sic) his hands.
Q. Did the accused likewise, undress himself?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. He was totally naked then?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Do you have a neighbor, Madam Witness?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. It happened at about 1:00 to 2:00 in the afternoon, Madam Witness?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. You did not shout for help, Madam Witness?
A. No, sir.
Q. Why?
A. I was afraid because he threatened me.
Q. How did he threaten you?
A. He told me not to report the matter to anybody.
Q. When did you finally decide to disclose what happened to you to anyone, Madam
Witness?
A. It was on (sic) 1999, to my mother, but I cannot recall the date.
Q. Why did you disclose the same to your mother?
A. I was afraid of my father.
Q. When you stated in your statement that a certain Paul witnessed the incident, when
was that?
A. March 1999.
Q. While your father was raping you?
A. He saw the incident because he was then working at our house.
Q. You stated in your affidavit that your father was on top of you when Paul see (sic)

you?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. But at the time when Paul saw your father on top of you, his penis was not yet inserted
in to your vagina?
A. Not yet, sir.32
Complementary to AAAs oral testimony, she confirmed the sworn statement which she
executed before SPO4 Espiritu on 26 March 1999 upon redirect examination by the
prosecutor. As we had elucidated in the case of People v. Servano, 33 the evidence which
should be considered by the court in criminal cases need not be limited to the statements
made in open court; rather, it should include all documents, affidavits or sworn
statements of the witnesses, and other supporting evidence. We explained
x x x [W]hen a sworn statement has been formally offered as evidence, it forms an
integral part of the prosecution evidence which should not be ignored for it complements
and completes the testimony on the witness stand. A sworn statement is a written
declaration of facts to which the declarant has sworn before an officer authorized to
administer oaths. This oath vests credibility and trustworthiness on the document. The
fact that a witness fails to reiterate, during trial, the contents of his sworn statement
should not affect his credibility and render the sworn statement useless and insignificant,
as long as it is presented as evidence in open court. This is not to say, however, that the
sworn statement should be given more probative value than the actual testimony. Rather,
the sworn statement and the open court declarations must be evaluated and examined
together in toto so that a full and thorough determination of the merits of the case may be
achieved. Giving weight to a witness oral testimony during the trial should not mean
being oblivious to the other pieces of available evidence such as the sworn statement. In
like manner, the court cannot give probative value to the sworn statement to the exclusion
of the oral testimony. In every case, the court should review, assess and weigh the totality
of the evidence presented by the parties. x x x.34
In this case, AAAs sworn statement which forms part of the records of this case supplied
the details of the incidents she experienced during those fateful days in March 1999, thus:
T : Ano ang dahilan at narito ka ngayon sa aming tanggapan at nagbibigay ng isang
malayang salaysay?
S : Para po isumbong at ipakulong ang tatay ko na tatlong beses akong ni-rape at
dalawang beses na ipinasok and daliri niya sa ari ko.
T : Sino ba ang tatay mo na sinasabi mo na nag-rape sa iyo ng tatlong beses?
S : Siya po si Benigno Fetalino y Gabaldon, 62 taong gulang, walang trabaho at nakatira
din po sa XXX St., XXX City.
T : Kailan, saan at anong oras nangyari ang sinasabi mong pangre-rape na ginawa sa iyo
ng tatay mo?
S : Noon pong March 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 1999, lahat po ay mga ala-una hanggang alas
dos ng hapon, sa mismo pong bahay namin sa XXX St., XXX City.
T : Tunay mo bang ama ang sinasasabi mong tatay mo na nag-rape sa iyo ng maraming
beses?

S : Opo.
T : Maari mo bang ituro sa akin ang sinasabi mong tatay mo na nag-rape sa iyo?
S : Siya po. (Affiant pointing to ne Benigno Fetalino y Gabaldon, 62 years old, jobless of
XXX St., XXX City.)
T : Maari mo bang isalaysay ang buong pangyayari?
S : Noon nga pong March 21, 1999, pagdating ko po galing sa eskwela at nasa loob ako
ng kwarto at gumagawa po ako ng assignment ng bigla pong pumasok ang tatay ko at
agad akong tinutukan ng balisong at sinabing huwag akong maingay, niyakap po ako at
hinalikan, tapos po ay ipinasok ang kamay niya sa loob ng short ko at ipinasok ang daliri
niya sa ari ko, umiiyak po ako at nakikiusap ng huwag niyang gawin, pero ang sabi lang
po niya "HUWAG KANG MAINGAY, PAPATAYIN KITA" at pagkatapos po ay
sinabihan din niya ako ng "HUWAG KANG MAGSUSUMBONG, PAPATAYIN KITA,
PATI NA ANG NANAY MO." Noon pong March 22, 1999, pagdating ko po uli galing
eskwela, ay ganon po ulit ang ginawa niya, ipinasok po uli ang daliri niya sa ari ko,
natatakot po ako kaya hindi po ako sumisigaw at hindi rin po ako nagsusumbong, kasi
baka nga patayin niya kaming lahat. Ng pangatlong araw po, March 23, 1999 ay ganon
po uli ang ginawa niya, pinasok po niya ako sa kwarto at tinutukan ng balisong, pero
hinubad na po niya ang short ko at inihiga ako sa papag at naghubad din po siya at
pumatong sa akin at ipinasok ang ari niya sa ari ko, hindi po ako pumapalag dahil
natatakot po ako dahil may hawak siyang balisong habang gumagalaw siya sa ibabaw ko.
Wala po akong nagawa kundi ang umiyak, hindi po ako makapagsumbong dahil sa
pananakot niya na papatayin kami. Tapos po ng March 24, 1999 uli ng hapon ay pinasok
ulit niya ako at ganon po ulit, inalis niya ang short ko at pumatong sa akin, ng nakapatong
po siya ay biglang pumasok si Kuya Pol, iyon po yong karpintero na gumagawa ng bahay
naming at nakita kami, kaya po biglang tumigil ang tatay ko, at lumabas na siya pero
sinabihan ako ulit na huwag magsusumbong dahil papatayin kami. Hindi pa rin po ako
nagsumbong, kaya kahapon po, March 25, 1999 ay inulit na naman niya ang ginagawa
niyang pangre-rape sa akin. Tapos kagabi nga po ng wala ang tatay ko ay nagpunta sa
amin si Kuya Pol at kinausap ang nanay ko at narinig ko ng sabihin niya sa nanay ko na
nakita niya ang tatay ko na nakapatong sa akin sa kwarto. Pag-alis po ni Kuya Pol ay
agad akong kinausap ng nanay ko at tinanong, kaya po sinabi ko na sa kanya, pero ang
sinabi ko po ay daliri lang ang ginagamit ng tatay ko, natatakot po kasi ako na baka
patayin kami ng tatay ko. Agad pong pumunta ang nanay ko sa Barangay at nagsumbong,
kaya po hinuli siya ng Barangay at dinala kami dito sa pulis.35
Against the categorical statements of AAA, appellant could only offer the defense of
denial and point to BBB as the brains behind the institution of these criminal charges
against him. Such bare-faced defense is obviously insufficient to overcome AAAs
categorical claim of being raped and sexually molested by appellant. The rule is settled
that against the positive identification by the private complainant, the mere denials of an
accused cannot prevail to overcome conviction by the trial court.36
Indeed, appellant could not offer any plausible reason which could have impelled AAA to
bring these serious charges against him. All he could muster was to claim in the trial court
that BBB was furious at him and that the two of them engaged in frequent fights. To our
mind, such contention is unavailing. Although BBB admitted that she was mad at

appellant for the physical injuries he inflicted upon her, still, she stated that what drove
her to issue her sworn statement on 26 March 1999 was appellants rape of AAA.
Furthermore, a mother like BBB certainly would not expose her own daughter to the
ignominy of a rape trial simply to retaliate against her husband for the transgressions,
knowing fully well the life-long stigma and scars that such a public trial could bring. 37
Such selfish motive on the part of a mother runs counter to her natural instinct to protect
her offspring from all kinds of harm and to safeguard the latters well-being.
We, however, sustain the appellate courts acquittal of appellant in Criminal Cases No.
MC-99-1448-H and MC-99-1449-H. It must be remembered that each and every charge
of rape is a separate and distinct crime so that each of the other rape charges should be
proven beyond reasonable doubt.38 Thus, it is incumbent on the prosecution to present the
quantum of proof necessary for the conviction of an accused.
In this case, we have gone over the testimony of AAA and her sworn statement and
cannot agree in the trial courts conclusion that appellants guilt had been sufficiently
established. AAAs testimony pertaining to the second and third incidents of rape merely
consists of the following:
Q. What about the second rape, what did he do to you?
A. The same.
Q. Meaning he undressed you and he inserted his private organ to your private organ?
A. Yes, maam.
Q. What about the third rape, how did he did (sic) it to you?
A. The same procedure, maam.39
Such laconic responses on the part of AAA to the prosecutors queries are grossly
inadequate to sustain appellants conviction. Her answers during the prosecutors
examination are utterly lacking in material details that would warrant a finding of guilt
beyond reasonable doubt.40 As we have held in the case of People v. Marahay
When prodded to specify the acts done to her, she stated that her father "used her." No
other detail was evoked from her to show the attendant elements that constitute rape, the
crime charged. Such bare statements cannot suffice to establish accused-appellants guilt
with the required quantum of evidence.41
In this regard, we cannot overemphasize the need for the prosecution to ask the necessary
probing questions in order to elicit from a witness crucial details to establish the elements
of the crime charged.
Likewise, AAAs sworn statement cannot be the basis for appellants conviction for the
second and third incidents of rape. To recall, AAA declared in said statement that the rape
which allegedly occurred on 24 March 1999 was the one witnessed by their carpenter
Quiambao. However, on the witness stand, she declared that when Quiambao saw
appellant on top of her, appellant had not yet inserted his penis into her vagina. In fact,
her testimony does not even state whether appellants penis even touched her vagina at
all. In the absence of a statement that appellants penis touched even just her labia
majora, we have to acquit him for the 24 March 1999 incident.
As regards the rape purportedly committed on 25 March 1999, AAAs sworn statement,

like her testimony, contained a mere conclusion that she was raped by appellant on that
day which we find insufficient to support a finding of appellants guilt.
We now turn to the appropriate penalties that should be imposed upon appellant for the
two counts of acts of lasciviousness and one count of rape. Appellant contends, and the
Court of Appeals and the Office of the Solicitor General agree with him, that the trial
court erred in appreciating AAAs minority in determining the imposable penalties on
him. We find merit in this contention.
While it is alleged in the Informations that AAA was only 16 years old at the time the
crimes charged were committed, nevertheless, the prosecution failed to substantiate said
allegation. In establishing the minority of the alleged victim, the courts are to be guided
by our pronouncement in the case of People v. Pruna,42 to wit:
1. The best evidence to prove the age of the offended party is an original or certified true
copy of the certificate of live birth of such party.
2. In the absence of a certificate of live birth, similar authentic documents such as
baptismal certificate and school records which show the date of birth of the victim would
suffice to prove age.
3. If the certificate of live birth or authentic document is shown to have been lost or
destroyed or otherwise unavailable, the testimony, if clear and credible, of the victims
mother or a member of the family either by affinity or consanguinity who is qualified to
testify on matters respecting pedigree such as the exact age or date of birth of the
offended party pursuant to Section 40, Rule 130 of the Rules on Evidence shall be
sufficient under the following circumstances:
a. If the victim is alleged to be below 3 years of age and what is sought to be proved is
that she is less than 7 years old;
b. If the victim is alleged to be below 7 years of age and what is sought to be proved is
that she is less than 12 years old;
c. If the victim is alleged to be below 12 years of age and what is sought to be proved is
that she is less than 18 years old.
4. In the absence of a certificate of live birth, authentic document, or the testimony of the
victims mother or relatives concerning the victims age, the complainants testimony will
suffice provided that it is expressly and clearly admitted by the accused.
5. It is the prosecution that has the burden of proving the age of the offended party. The
failure of the accused to object to the testimonial evidence regarding age shall not be
taken against him. 43
In the case at bar, we cannot simply rely on BBBs unsubstantiated claim with regard to
AAAs age, particularly since the loss of her birth certificate was not sufficiently
established. We cannot overemphasize the importance of fixing with exactitude AAAs
age, for under Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code, rape by sexual intercourse is
punishable by the supreme penalty of death in case "the victim is under 18 years of age
and the offender is a parent, ascendant, step-parent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or
affinity within the third civil degree, or the common-law spouse of the parent of the
victim." The severity, permanence and irreversible nature of the penalty prescribed by

law makes the decision-making process in capital offenses, such as qualified rape, subject
to the most exacting rules of procedure and evidence.44
On the other hand, the alternative circumstance of relationship under Article 15 of the
Revised Penal Code should be considered against appellant since in crimes against
chastity, like acts of lasciviousness, relationship is considered aggravating. 45 In this case,
as it was clearly mentioned in the Informations and admitted by appellant that AAA is his
daughter, their relationship aggravated the two charges of acts of lasciviousness.
Acts of lasciviousness is punished under the Revised Penal Code by prision correccional.
Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, and taking into consideration the aggravating
circumstance of relationship, appellant should be made to suffer an indeterminate prison
term of six (6) months of arresto mayor, as minimum, to six (6) years of prision
correccional, as maximum. In addition, appellant is to pay the amount of P30,000.00 as
moral damages for each count of acts of lasciviousness.46
With respect to Criminal Case No. M-99-1447-H, because of the prosecutions failure to
establish with certainty that AAA was still a minor at the time the incestuous rape was
committed by appellant, the appropriate penalty should only be reclusion perpetua in
accordance with the first sentence of Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code which
states that rape under paragraph 1 of Article 266-A, or rape by sexual intercourse, shall be
punished by reclusion perpetua. In addition to this, and consistent with the prevailing
jurisprudence,47 appellant is also held liable to AAA in the amount of P50,000.00 as civil
indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral damages, and P25,000.00 as exemplary damages.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision dated 31 May 2006 of the Court of
Appeals is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS:
A. Appellant Benigno Fetalino y Gabaldon is hereby found GUILTY:
1. In Criminal Case No. MC-99-1445, of acts of lasciviousness and he is sentenced to
suffer the indeterminate prison term of six (6) months of arresto mayor, as minimum, to
six (6) years of prision correccional, as maximum and to pay AAA the amount of Thirty
Thousand (P30,000.00) Pesos as moral damages;
2. In Criminal Case No. MC-99-1446, of acts of lasciviousness and he is sentenced to
suffer the indeterminate prison term of six (6) months of arresto mayor, as the minimum,
to six (6) years of prision correccional, as maximum and to pay AAA the amount of
Thirty Thousand (P30,000.00) pesos as moral damages;
3. In Criminal Case No. MC-99-1447-H, of rape through sexual intercourse, and he is
sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay AAA the amount of fifty
thousand (P50,000.00) pesos as civil indemnity, fifty thousand (P50,000.00) pesos as
moral damages, and twenty-five thousand (P25,000.00) pesos as exemplary damages.
B. Appellant is ACQUITTED of the charges in MC-99-1448-H and MC-99-1449-H on
grounds of reasonable doubt.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 127240 March 27, 2000
ONG CHIA, petitioner,
vs.

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES and THE COURT OF APPEALS, respondents.


MENDOZA, J.:
This is a petition for review of the decision 1 of the Court of Appeals reversing the
decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 24, Koronadal, South Cotabato 2 admitting
petitioner Ong Chia to Philippine citizenship.
The facts are as follows:
Petitioner was born on January 1, 1923 in Amoy, China. In 1932, as a nine-year old boy,
he arrived at the port of Manila on board the vessel "Angking." Since then, he has stayed
in the Philippines where he found employment and eventually started his own business,
married a Filipina, with whom he had four children. On July 4, 1989, at the age of 66, he
filed a verified petition to be admitted as a Filipino citizen under C.A. No. 473, otherwise
known as the Revised Naturalization Law, as amended. Petitioner, after stating his
qualifications as required in 2, and lack of the disqualifications enumerated in 3 of the
law, stated
17. That he has heretofore made (a) petition for citizenship under the provisions of
Letter of Instruction No. 270 with the Special Committee on Naturalization, Office of
the Solicitor General, Manila, docketed as SCN Case No. 031776, but the same was
not acted upon owing to the fact that the said Special Committee on Naturalization
was not reconstituted after the February, 1986 revolution such that processing of
petitions for naturalization by administrative process was suspended;
During the hearings, petitioner testified as to his qualifications and presented three
witnesses to corroborate his testimony. So impressed was Prosecutor Isaac Alvero V.
Moran with the testimony of petitioner that, upon being asked by the court whether the
State intended to present any witness present any witness against him, he remarked:
Actually, Your Honor, with the testimony of the petitioner himself which is rather
surprising, in the sense that he seems to be well-versed with the major portion of the
history of the Philippines, so, on our part, we are convinced, Your Honor Please, that
petitioner really deserves to be admitted as a citizen of the Philippines. And for this
reason, we do not wish to present any evidence to counteract or refute the testimony
of the witnesses for the petitioner, as well as the petitioner himself.3
Accordingly, on August 25, 1999, the trial court granted the petition and admitted
petitioner to Philippine citizenship. The State, however, through the Office of the
Solicitor General, appealed all the names by which he is or had been known; (2) failed to
state all his former placer of residence in violation of C.A. No. 473, 7; (3) failed to
conduct himself in a proper and irreproachable manner during his entire stay in the
Philippines, in violation of 2; (4) has no known lucrative trade or occupation and his
previous incomes have been insufficient or misdeclared, also in contravention of 2; and
(5) failed to support his petition with the appropriate documentary evidence.4
Annexed to the State's appellant's brief was a copy of a 1977 petition for naturalization
filed by petitioner with the Special Committee on Naturalization in SCN Case No.
031767,5 in which petitioner stated that in addition to his name of "Ong Chia," he had
likewise been known since childhood as "Loreto Chia Ong." As petitioner, however,
failed to state this other name in his 1989 petition for naturalization, it was contended that

his petition must fail.6 The state also annexed income tax returns7 allegedly filed by
petitioner from 1973 to 1977 to show that his net income could hardly support himself
and his family. To prove that petitioner failed to conduct himself in a proper and
irreproachable manner during his stay in the Philippines, the State contended that,
although petitioner claimed that he and Ramona Villaruel had been married twice, once
before a judge in 1953, and then again in church in 1977, petitioner actually lived with
his wife without the benefit of marriage from 1953 until they were married in 1977. It
was alleged that petitioner failed to present his 1953 marriage contract, if there be any.
The State also annexed a copy of petitioner's 1977 marriage contract 8 and a JointAffidavit9 executed by petitioner and his wife. These documents show that when
petitioner married Ramona Villaruel on February 23, 1977, no marriage license had been
required in accordance with Art. 76 of the Civil Code because petitioner and Ramona
Villaruel had been living together as husband and wife since 1953 without the benefit of
marriage. This, according to the State, belies his claim that when he started living with
his wife in 1953, they had already been married.
The State also argued that, as shown by petitioner's Immigrant Certificate of Residence, 10
petitioner resided at "J.M. Basa Street, Iloilo," but he did not include said address in the
petition.
On November 15, 1996, the Court of Appeals rendered its decision which, as already
noted, reversed the trial court and denied petitioner's application for naturalization. It
ruled that due to the importance naturalization cases, the State is not precluded from
raising questions not presented in the lower court and brought up for the first time on
appeal. 11 The appellate court held:
As correctly observed by the Office of the Solicitor General, petitioner Ong Chia
failed to state in this present petition for naturalization his other name, "LORETO
CHIA ONG," which name appeared in his previous application under Letter of
Instruction No. 270. Names and pseudonyms must be stated in the petition for
naturalization and failure to include the same militates against a decision in his
favor. . . This is a mandatory requirement to allow those persons who know
(petitioner) by those other names to come forward and inform the authorities of any
legal objection which might adversely affect his application for citizenship.
Furthermore, Ong Chia failed to disclose in his petition for naturalization that he
formerly resided in "J.M. Basa St., Iloilo" and "Alimodian, Iloilo." Section 7 of the
Revised Naturalization Law requires the applicant to state in his petition "his present
and former places of residence." This requirement is mandatory and failure of the
petitioner to comply with it is fatal to the petition. As explained by the Court, the
reason for the provision is to give the public, as well as the investigating agencies of
the government, upon the publication of the petition, an opportunity to be informed
thereof and voice their objections against the petitioner. By failing to comply with this
provision, the petitioner is depriving the public and said agencies of such opportunity,
thus defeating the purpose of the law. . .
Ong Chia had not also conducted himself in a proper and irreproachable manner
when he lived-in with his wife for several years, and sired four children out of
wedlock. It has been the consistent ruling that the "applicant's 8-year cohabitation
with his wife without the benefit of clergy and begetting by her three children out of

wedlock is a conduct far from being proper and irreproachable as required by the
Revised Naturalization Law", and therefore disqualifies him from becoming a citizen
of the Philippines by naturalization . . .
Lastly, petitioner Ong Chia's alleged annual income in 1961 of P5,000.00, exclusive
of bonuses, commissions and allowances, is not lucrative income. His failure to file
an income tax return "because he is not liable for income tax yet" confirms that his
income is low. . . "It is not only that the person having the employment gets enough
for his ordinary necessities in life. It must be shown that the employment gives one an
income such that there is an appreciable margin of his income over expenses as to be
able to provide for an adequate support in the event of unemployment, sickness, or
disability to work and thus avoid one's becoming the object of charity or public
charge." . . . Now that they are in their old age, petitioner Ong Chia and his wife are
living on the allowance given to them by their children. The monthly pension given
by the elder children of the applicant cannot be added to his income to make it
lucrative because like bonuses, commissions and allowances, said pensions are
contingent, speculative and precarious. . .
Hence, this petition based on the following assignment of errors:
I. THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN
RULING THAT IN NATURALIZATION CASES, THE APPELLATE COURT CAN
DENY AN APPLICATION FOR PHILIPPINE CITIZENSHIP ON THE BASIS OF
DOCUMENTS NOT PRESENTED BEFORE THE TRIAL COURT AND NOT
FORMING PART OF THE RECORDS OF THE CASE.
II. THE FINDING OF THE COURT OF APPEALS THAT THE PETITIONER HAS
BEEN KNOWN BY SOME OTHER NAME NOT STATED IN HIS PETITION IS
NOT SUPPORTED BY THE EVIDENCE ON RECORD.
III. CONTRARY TO THE FINDING OF THE COURT OF APPEALS, THE
PETITIONER STATED IN HIS PETITION AND ITS ANNEXES HIS PRESENT
AND FORMER PLACES OF RESIDENCE.
IV. THE FINDING OF THE COURT OF APPEALS THAT THE PETITIONER
FAILED TO CONDUCT HIMSELF IN A PROPER AND IRREPROACHABLE
MANNER IS NOT SUPPORTED BY THE EVIDENCE ON RECORD.
Petitioner's principal contention is that the appellate court erred in considering the
documents which had merely been annexed by the State to its appellant's brief and, on the
basis of which, justified the reversal of the trial court's decision. Not having been
presented and formally offered as evidence, they are mere "scrap(s) of paper devoid of
any evidentiary value," 12 so it was argued, because under Rule 132, 34 of the Revised
Rules on Evidence, the court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally
offered.
The contention has no merit. Petitioner failed to note Rule 143
which provides that

13

of the Rules of Court

These rules shall not apply to land registration, cadastral and election cases,
naturalization and insolvency proceedings, and other cases not herein provided for,
except by analogy or in a suppletory character and whenever practicable and

convenient. (Emphasis added).


Prescinding from the above, the rule on formal offer of evidence (Rule 132, 34) now
being invoked by petitioner is clearly not applicable to the present case involving a
petition for naturalization. The only instance when said rules may be applied by analogy
or suppletorily in such cases is when it is "practicable and convenient." That is not the
case here, since reliance upon the documents presented by the State for the first time on
appeal, in fact, appears to be the more practical and convenient course of action
considering that decisions in naturalization proceedings are not covered by the rule on res
judicata. 14 Consequently, a final favorable judgment does not preclude the State from
later on moving for a revocation of the grant of naturalization on the basis of the same
documents.
Petitioner claims that as a result of the failure of the State to present and formally offer its
documentary evidence before the trial court, he was denied the right to object against
their authenticity, effectively depriving him of his fundamental right to procedural due
process. 15 We are not persuaded. Indeed, the reason for the rule prohibiting the admission
of evidence which has not been formally offered is to afford the opposite party the chance
to object to their admissibility. 16 Petitioner cannot claim that he was deprived of the right
to object to the authenticity of the documents submitted to the appellate court by the
State. He could have included his objections, as he, in fact, did, in the brief he filed with
the Court of Appeals. thus:
The authenticity of the alleged petition for naturalization (SCN Case No. 031767)
which was supposedly filed by Ong Chia under LOI 270 has not been established. In
fact, the case number of the alleged petition for naturalization. . . is 031767 while the
case number of the petition actually filed by the appellee is 031776. Thus, said
document is totally unreliable and should not be considered by the Honorable Court
in resolving the instant appeal. 17
Indeed, the objection is flimsy as the alleged discrepancy is trivial, and, at most, can be
accounted for as a typographical error on the part of petitioner himself. That "SCN Case
No. 031767," a copy of which was annexed to the petition, is the correct case number is
confirmed by the Evaluation Sheet 18 of the Special Committee on Naturalization which
was also docketed as "SCN Case No. 031767." Other than this, petitioner offered no
evidence to disprove the authenticity of the documents presented by the State.
Furthermore, the Court notes that these documents namely, the petition in SCN Case
No. 031767, petitioner's marriage contract, the joint affidavit executed by him and his
wife, and petitioner's income tax returns are all public documents. As such, they have
been executed under oath. They are thus reliable. Since petitioner failed to make a
satisfactory showing of any flaw or irregularity that may cast doubt on the authenticity of
these documents, it is our conclusion that the appellate court did not err in relying upon
them.
One last point. The above discussion would have been enough to dispose of this case, but
to settle all the issues raised, we shall briefly discuss the effect of petitioner's failure to
include the address "J.M. Basa St., Iloilo" in his petition, in accordance with 7, C.A. No.
473. This address appears on petitioner's Immigrant Certificate of Residence, a document
which forms part of the records as Annex A of his 1989 petition for naturalization.

Petitioner admits that he failed to mention said address in his petition, but argues that
since the Immigrant Certificate of Residence containing it had been fully published, 19
with the petition and the other annexes, such publication constitutes substantial
compliance with 7. 20 This is allegedly because the publication effectively satisfied the
objective sought to be achieved by such requirement, i.e., to give investigating agencies
of the government the opportunity to check on the background of the applicant and
prevent suppression of information regarding any possible misbehavior on his part in any
community where he may have lived at one time or another. 21 It is settled, however, that
naturalization laws should be rigidly enforced and strictly construed in favor of the
government and against the applicant. 22 As noted by the State, C.A. No. 473, 7 clearly
provides that the applicant for naturalization shall set forth in the petition his present and
former places of residence. 23 This provision and the rule of strict application of the law in
naturalization cases defeat petitioner's argument of "substantial compliance" with the
requirement under the Revised Naturalization Law. On this ground alone, the instant
petition ought to be denied.1wphi1.nt
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED and the instant
petition is hereby DENIED.
SO ORDERED.
People vs. Valdez, G.R. No. 129296, 341 SCRA 25 , September 25, 2000
[G.R. No. 129296. September 25, 2000]
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ABE VALDEZ y DELA
CRUZ, accused-appellant.
QUISUMBING, J.:
For automatic review is the decision[1] promulgated on February 18, 1997, by the
Regional Trial Court of Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, Branch 27, in Criminal Case No.
3105. It found appellant Abe Valdez y Dela Cruz guilty beyond reasonable doubt for
violating Section 9 of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972 (R.A. No. 6425), as amended by
R.A. No. 7659. He was sentenced to suffer the penalty of death by lethal injection.
In an Information dated September 26, 1996, appellant was charged as follows:"That on
or about September 25, 1996, at Sitio Bulan, Barangay Sawmill, Municipality of
Villaverde, Province of Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, who was caught in flagrante delicto and
without authority of law, did then and there wilfully (sic), unlawfully and feloniously
plant, cultivate and culture seven (7) fully grown marijuana plants known as Indian Hemp
weighing 2.194 kilos, from which dangerous drugs maybe (sic) manufactured or derived,
to the damage and prejudice of the government of the Republic of the Philippines.
"That the property where the said seven (7) fully grown marijuana plants were planted,
cultivated and cultured shall be confiscated and escheated in favor of the government.
"CONTRARY TO LAW."[2]
On November 15, 1996, appellant was arraigned and, with assistance of counsel, pleaded
not guilty to the charge. Trial on the merits then ensued.
The first witness for the prosecution was SPO3 Marcelo Tipay, a member of the police

force of Villaverde, Nueva Vizcaya. He testified that at around 10:15 a.m. of September
24, 1996, he received a tip from an unnamed informer about the presence of a marijuana
plantation, allegedly owned by appellant at Sitio Bulan, Ibung, Villaverde, Nueva
Vizcaya.[3] The prohibited plants were allegedly planted close to appellant's hut. Police
Inspector Alejandro R. Parungao, Chief of Police of Villaverde, Nueva Vizcaya then
formed a reaction team from his operatives to verify the report. The team was composed
of SPO3 Marcelo M. Tipay, SPO2 Noel V. Libunao, SPO2 Pedro S. Morales, SPO1
Romulo G. Tobias and PO2 Alfelmer I. Balut. Inspector Parungao gave them specific
instructions to "uproot said marijuana plants and arrest the cultivator of same.[4]
At approximately 5:00 o'clock A.M. the following day, said police team, accompanied by
their informer, left for the site where the marijuana plants were allegedly being grown.
After a three-hour, uphill trek from the nearest barangay road, the police operatives
arrived at the place pinpointed by their informant. The police found appellant alone in his
nipa hut. They, then, proceeded to look around the area where appellant had his kaingin
and saw seven (7) five-foot high, flowering marijuana plants in two rows, approximately
25 meters from appellant's hut.[5] PO2 Balut asked appellant who owned the prohibited
plants and, according to Balut, the latter admitted that they were his.[6] The police
uprooted the seven marijuana plants, which weighed 2.194 kilograms.[7] The police took
photos of appellant standing beside the cannabis plants.[8] Appellant was then arrested.
One of the plants, weighing 1.090 kilograms, was sent to the Philippine National Police
Crime Laboratory in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya for analysis.[9] Inspector Prevy Fabros
Luwis, the Crime Laboratory forensic analyst, testified that upon microscopic
examination of said plant, she found cystolitic hairs containing calcium carbonate, a
positive indication for marijuana.[10] She next conducted a chemical examination, the
results of which confirmed her initial impressions. She found as follows:
"SPECIMEN SUBMITTED: Exh "A" - 1.090 grams of uprooted suspected marijuana
plant placed inside a white sack with markings.
xxx
"FINDINGS: Qualitative examination conducted on the above stated specimen gave
POSITIVE result to the test for Marijuana, a prohibited drug."[11]
The prosecution also presented a certification from the Department of Environment and
Natural Resources that the land cultivated by appellant, on which the growing marijuana
plants were found, was Lot 3224 of Timberland Block B, which formed part of the
Integrated Social Forestry Area in Villaverde, Nueva Vizcaya.[12] This lot was part of the
public domain. Appellant was acknowledged in the certification as the occupant of the
lot, but no Certificate of Stewardship had yet been issued in his favor.[13]
As its sole witness, the defense presented appellant. He testified that at around 10:00
o'clock A.M., September 25, 1996, he was weeding his vegetable farm in Sitio Bulan
when he was called by a person whose identity he does not know. He was asked to go
with the latter to "see something."[14] This unknown person then brought appellant to the
place where the marijuana plants were found, approximately 100 meters away from his
nipa hut.[15] Five armed policemen were present and they made him stand in front of the
hemp plants. He was then asked if he knew anything about the marijuana growing there.
When he denied any knowledge thereof, SPO2 Libunao poked a fist at him and told him

to admit ownership of the plants.[16] Appellant was so nervous and afraid that he
admitted owning the marijuana.[17]
The police then took a photo of him standing in front of one of the marijuana plants. He
was then made to uproot five of the cannabis plants, and bring them to his hut, where
another photo was taken of him standing next to a bundle of uprooted marijuana plants.
[18] The police team then brought him to the police station at Villaverde. On the way, a
certain Kiko Pascua, a barangay peace officer of Barangay Sawmill, accompanied the
police officers. Pascua, who bore a grudge against him, because of his refusal to
participate in the former's illegal logging activities, threatened him to admit owning the
marijuana, otherwise he would "be put in a bad situation."[19] At the police headquarters,
appellant reiterated that he knew nothing about the marijuana plants seized by the police.
[20]
On cross-examination, appellant declared that there were ten other houses around the
vicinity of his kaingin, the nearest house being 100 meters away.[21] The latter house
belonged to one Carlito (Lito) Pascua, an uncle of the barangay peace officer who had a
grudge against him. The spot where the marijuana plants were found was located between
his house and Carlito Pascua's.[22]
The prosecution presented SPO3 Tipay as its rebuttal witness. His testimony was offered
to rebut appellant's claim that the marijuana plants were not planted in the lot he was
cultivating.[23] Tipay presented a sketch he made,[24] which showed the location of
marijuana plants in relation to the old and new nipa huts of appellant, as well as the
closest neighbor. According to Tipay, the marijuana plot was located 40 meters away
from the old hut of Valdez and 250 meters distant from the hut of Carlito Pascua.[25]
Tipay admitted on cross-examination that no surveyor accompanied him when he made
the measurements.[26] He further stated that his basis for claiming that appellant was the
owner or planter of the seized plants was the information given him by the police
informer and the proximity of appellant's hut to the location of said plants.[27]
Finding appellant's defense insipid, the trial court held appellant liable as charged for
cultivation and ownership of marijuana plants as follows:
"WHEREFORE, finding the accused GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of cultivating
marijuana plants punishable under section 9 of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as
amended, accused is hereby sentenced to death by lethal injection. Costs against the
accused.
"SO ORDERED."[28]
Appellant assigns the following errors for our consideration:
I
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN ADMITTING AS EVIDENCE THE
SEVEN (7) MARIJUANA PLANTS DESPITE THEIR INADMISSIBILITY BEING
PRODUCTS OF AN ILLEGAL SEARCH.
II
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING APPELLANT OF
VIOLATION OF SECTION 9, REPUBLIC ACT NO. 6425 DESPITE THE

INADMISSIBILITY OF THE CORPUS DELICTI AND THE FAILURE OF THE


PROSECUTION TO PROVE HIS GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.
III
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN IMPOSING THE SUPREME PENALTY
OF DEATH UPON APPELLANT DESPITE FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION TO
PROVE THAT THE LAND WHERE THE MARIJUANA PLANTS WERE PLANTED
IS A PUBLIC LAND ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT INDEED APPELLANT
PLANTED THE SUBJECT MARIJUANA.[29]
Simply stated, the issues are:
(1) Was the search and seizure of the marijuana plants in the present case lawful?
(2) Were the seized plants admissible in evidence against the accused?
(3) Has the prosecution proved appellant's guilt beyond reasonable doubt?
(4) Is the sentence of death by lethal injection correct?
The first and second issues will be jointly discussed because they are interrelated.
Appellant contends that there was unlawful search. First, the records show that the law
enforcers had more than ample time to secure a search warrant. Second, that the
marijuana plants were found in an unfenced lot does not remove appellant from the
mantle of protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. He relies on the ruling
of the US Supreme Court in Terry v. Ohio, 392 US 1, 20 L. Ed 2d 898, 88 S. Ct. 1868
(1968), to the effect that the protection against unreasonable government intrusion
protects people, not places.
For the appellee, the Office of the Solicitor General argues that the records clearly show
that there was no search made by the police team, in the first place. The OSG points out
that the marijuana plants in question were grown in an unfenced lot and as each grew
about five (5) feet tall, they were visible from afar, and were, in fact, immediately spotted
by the police officers when they reached the site. The seized marijuana plants were, thus,
in plain view of the police officers. The instant case must, therefore, be treated as a
warrantless lawful search under the "plain view" doctrine.
The court a quo upheld the validity of the search and confiscation made by the police
team on the finding that:
"...It seems there was no need for any search warrant. The policemen went to the
plantation site merely to make a verification. When they found the said plants, it was too
much to expect them to apply for a search warrant. In view of the remoteness of the
plantation site (they had to walk for six hours back and forth) and the dangers lurking in
the area if they stayed overnight, they had a valid reason to confiscate the said plants
upon discovery without any search warrant. Moreover, the evidence shows that the lot
was not legally occupied by the accused and there was no fence which evinced the
occupant's desire to keep trespassers out. There was, therefore, no privacy to protect,
hence, no search warrant was required."[30]
The Constitution[31] lays down the general rule that a search and seizure must be carried
on the strength of a judicial warrant. Otherwise, the search and seizure is deemed
"unreasonable." Evidence procured on the occasion of an unreasonable search and seizure

is deemed tainted for being the proverbial fruit of a poisonous tree and should be
excluded.[32] Such evidence shall be inadmissible in evidence for any purpose in any
proceeding.[33]
In the instant case, there was no search warrant issued by a judge after personal
determination of the existence of probable cause. From the declarations of the police
officers themselves, it is clear that they had at least one (1) day to obtain a warrant to
search appellant's farm. Their informant had revealed his name to them. The place where
the cannabis plants were planted was pinpointed. From the information in their
possession, they could have convinced a judge that there was probable cause to justify the
issuance of a warrant. But they did not. Instead, they uprooted the plants and
apprehended the accused on the excuse that the trip was a good six hours and
inconvenient to them. We need not underscore that the protection against illegal search
and seizure is constitutionally mandated and only under specific instances are searches
allowed without warrants.[34] The mantle of protection extended by the Bill of Rights
covers both innocent and guilty alike against any form of high-handedness of law
enforcers, regardless of the praiseworthiness of their intentions.
We find no reason to subscribe to Solicitor General's contention that we apply the "plain
view" doctrine. For the doctrine to apply, the following elements must be present:
(a) a prior valid intrusion based on the valid warrantless arrest in which the police are
legally present in the pursuit of their official duties;
(b) the evidence was inadvertently discovered by the police who have the right to be
where they are; and
(c) the evidence must be immediately apparent; and
(d) plain view justified mere seizure of evidence without further search.[35]
In the instant case, recall that PO2 Balut testified that they first located the marijuana
plants before appellant was arrested without a warrant.[36] Hence, there was no valid
warrantless arrest which preceded the search of appellant's premises. Note further that the
police team was dispatched to appellant's kaingin precisely to search for and uproot the
prohibited flora. The seizure of evidence in "plain view" applies only where the police
officer is not searching for evidence against the accused, but inadvertently comes across
an incriminating object.[37] Clearly, their discovery of the cannabis plants was not
inadvertent. We also note the testimony of SPO2 Tipay that upon arriving at the area, they
first had to "look around the area" before they could spot the illegal plants.[38] Patently,
the seized marijuana plants were not "immediately apparent" and a "further search" was
needed. In sum, the marijuana plants in question were not in "plain view" or "open to eye
and hand." The "plain view" doctrine, thus, cannot be made to apply.
Nor can we sustain the trial court's conclusion that just because the marijuana plants were
found in an unfenced lot, appellant could not invoke the protection afforded by the
Charter against unreasonable searches by agents of the State. The right against
unreasonable searches and seizures is the immunity of one's person, which includes his
residence, his papers, and other possessions.[39] The guarantee refers to "the right of
personal security"[40] of the individual. As appellant correctly points out, what is sought
to be protected against the State's unlawful intrusion are persons, not places.[41] To
conclude otherwise would not only mean swimming against the stream, it would also lead

to the absurd logic that for a person to be immune against unreasonable searches and
seizures, he must be in his home or office, within a fenced yard or a private place. The
Bill of Rights belongs as much to the person in the street as to the individual in the
sanctuary of his bedroom.
We therefore hold, with respect to the first issue, that the confiscated plants were
evidently obtained during an illegal search and seizure. As to the second issue, which
involves the admissibility of the marijuana plants as evidence for the prosecution, we find
that said plants cannot, as products of an unlawful search and seizure, be used as
evidence against appellant. They are fruits of the proverbial poisoned tree. It was,
therefore, a reversible error on the part of the court a quo to have admitted and relied
upon the seized marijuana plants as evidence to convict appellant.
We now proceed to the third issue, which revolves around the sufficiency of the
prosecution's evidence to prove appellant's guilt. Having declared the seized marijuana
plants inadmissible in evidence against appellant, we must now address the question of
whether the remaining evidence for the prosecution suffices to convict appellant?
In convicting appellant, the trial court likewise relied on the testimony of the police
officers to the effect that appellant admitted ownership of the marijuana when he was
asked who planted them. It made the following observation:
"It may be true that the admission to the police by the accused that he planted the
marijuana plants was made in the absence of any independent and competent counsel.
But the accused was not, at the time of police verification; under custodial investigation.
His admission is, therefore, admissible in evidence and not violative of the constitutional
fiat that admission given during custodial investigation is not admissible if given without
any counsel."[42]
Appellant now argues that his admission of ownership of the marijuana plants in question
cannot be used against him for being violative of his right to counsel during the police
investigation. Hence, it was error for the trial court to have relied upon said admission of
ownership. He submits that the investigation conducted by the police officers was not a
general inquiry, but was meant to elicit information on the ownership of the marijuana
plants. Appellant theorizes that since the investigation had narrowed down to him,
competent and independent counsel should have assisted him, when the police sought
information from him regarding the ownership of the prohibited plants. Appellant claims
the presumption of regularity of duty of officers cannot be made to apply to his purported
voluntarily confession of ownership of the marijuana plants. Nor can it override his
constitutional right to counsel during investigation.
The Office of the Solicitor General believes otherwise. The OSG avers that appellant was
not yet under custodial investigation when he admitted to the police that he owned the
marijuana plants. His right to competent and independent counsel, accordingly, had not
yet attached. Moreover, appellants failure to impute any false motive for the police
officers to falsely accuse him indicates that the presumption of regularity in the
performance of official duties by police officers was not sufficiently rebutted.
The Constitution plainly declares that any person under investigation for the commission
of an offense shall have the right: (1) to remain silent; (2) to have competent and
independent counsel preferably of his own choice; and (3) to be informed of such rights.

These rights cannot be waived except in writing and in the presence of counsel.[43] An
investigation begins when it is no longer a general inquiry but starts to focus on a
particular person as a suspect, i.e., when the police investigator starts interrogating or
exacting a confession from the suspect in connection with an alleged offense.[44] The
moment the police try to elicit admissions or confessions or even plain information from
a person suspected of having committed an offense, he should at that juncture be assisted
by counsel, unless he waives the right in writing and in the presence of counsel.[45]
In the instant case we find that, from the start, a tipster had furnished the police
appellant's name as well as the location of appellant's farm, where the marijuana plants
were allegedly being grown. While the police operation was supposedly meant to merely
"verify" said information, the police chief had likewise issued instructions to arrest
appellant as a suspected marijuana cultivator. Thus, at the time the police talked to
appellant in his farm, the latter was already under investigation as a suspect. The
questioning by the police was no longer a general inquiry.[46]
Under cross-examination, PO2 Balut stated, he "did not yet admit that he is the cultivator
of that marijuana so we just asked him and I think there is no need to inform (him of) his
constitutional rights because we are just asking him..."[47] In trying to elicit information
from appellant, the police was already investigating appellant as a suspect. At this point,
he was already under custodial investigation and had a right to counsel even if he had not
yet been arrested. Custodial investigation is "questioning initiated by law enforcement
officers after a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom
of action in any significant way."[48] As a suspect, two armed policemen interrogated
appellant. Behind his inquisitors were a barangay peace officer and three other armed
policemen.[49] All had been dispatched to arrest him.[50] From these circumstances, we
may infer that appellant had already been deprived of his freedom of action in a
significant way, even before the actual arrest. Note that even before he was arrested, the
police made him incriminatingly pose for photos in front of the marijuana plants.
Moreover, we find appellant's extrajudicial confession flawed with respect to its
admissibility. For a confession to be admissible, it must satisfy the following
requirements: (1) it must be voluntary; (2) it must be made with the assistance of
competent and independent counsel; (3) it must be express; and (4) it must be in writing.
[51] The records show that the admission by appellant was verbal. It was also
uncounselled. A verbal admission allegedly made by an accused during the investigation,
without the assistance of counsel at the time of his arrest and even before his formal
investigation is not only inadmissible for being violative of the right to counsel during
criminal investigations, it is also hearsay.[52] Even if the confession or admission were
"gospel truth", if it was made without assistance of counsel and without a valid waiver of
such assistance, the confession is inadmissible in evidence, regardless of the absence of
coercion or even if it had been voluntarily given.[53]
It is fundamental in criminal prosecutions that before an accused may be convicted of a
crime, the prosecution must establish by proof beyond reasonable doubt that a crime was
committed and that the accused is the author thereof.[54] The evidence arrayed against
the accused, however, must not only stand the test of reason,[55] it must likewise be
credible and competent.[56] Competent evidence is "generally admissible" evidence.[57]
Admissible evidence, in turn, is evidence "of such a character that the court or judge is

bound to receive it, that is, allow it to be introduced at trial."[58]


In the instant case, the trial court relied on two pieces of probative matter to convict
appellant of the offense charged. These were the seized marijuana plants, and appellant's
purportedly voluntary confession of ownership of said marijuana plants to the police.
Other than these proofs, there was no other evidence presented to link appellant with the
offense charged. As earlier discussed, it was error on the trial court's part to have admitted
both of these proofs against the accused and to have relied upon said proofs to convict
him. For said evidence is doubly tainted.
First, as earlier pointed out, the seized marijuana plants were obtained in violation of
appellant's constitutional rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. The search
and seizure were void ab initio for having been conducted without the requisite judicial
warrant. The prosecution's very own evidence clearly establishes that the police had
sufficient time to obtain a warrant. There was no showing of such urgency or necessity
for the warrantless search or the immediate seizure of the marijuana plants subject of this
case. To reiterate, said marijuana plants cannot be utilized to prove appellant's guilt
without running afoul of the constitutional guarantees against illegal searches and the
inadmissibility of evidence procured pursuant to an unlawful search and seizure.
Second, the confession of ownership of the marijuana plants, which appellant allegedly
made to the police during investigation, is not only hearsay but also violative of the Bill
of Rights. The purported confession was made without the assistance of competent and
independent counsel, as mandated by the Charter. Thus, said confession cannot be used to
convict appellant without running afoul of the Constitution's requirement that a suspect in
a criminal investigation must have the services of competent and independent counsel
during such investigation.
In sum, both the object evidence and the testimonial evidence as to appellant's voluntary
confession of ownership of the prohibited plants relied upon to prove appellant's guilt
failed to meet the test of Constitutional competence.
The Constitution decrees that, "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be
presumed innocent until the contrary is proved..."[59] To justify the conviction of the
accused, the prosecution must adduce that quantum of evidence sufficient to overcome
the constitutional presumption of innocence. The prosecution must stand or fall on its
evidence and cannot draw strength from the weakness of the evidence for the accused.
[60] Absent the required degree of proof of an accused's guilt, he is entitled to an
acquittal.[61] In this case, the seized marijuana plants linking appellant to the crime
charged are miserably tainted with constitutional infirmities, which render these
inadmissible "for any purpose in any proceeding."[62] Nor can the confession obtained
during the uncounselled investigation be used against appellant, "it being inadmissible in
evidence against him.[63] Without these proffered but proscribed materials, we find that
the prosecution's remaining evidence did not even approximate the quantum of evidence
necessary to warrant appellant's conviction. Hence, the presumption of innocence in his
favor stands. Perforce, his acquittal is in order.
In acquitting an appellant, we are not saying that he is lily-white, or pure as driven snow.
Rather, we are declaring his innocence because the prosecution's evidence failed to show
his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. For that is what the basic law requires. Where the

evidence is insufficient to overcome the presumption of innocence in favor of the


accused, then his "acquittal must follow in faithful obeisance to the fundamental
law."[64]
WHEREFORE, the decision promulgated on February 18, 1997, by the Regional Trial
Court of Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, Branch 27, in Criminal Case No. 3105, finding
Abe Valdez y Dela Cruz, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Section 9 of the
Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, and imposing upon him the death penalty, is hereby
REVERSED and SET ASIDE for insufficiency of evidence. Appellant is ACQUITTED
and ordered RELEASED immediately from confinement unless held for another lawful
cause.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 150224 May 19, 2004
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee,
vs.
JOEL YATAR alias "KAWIT", appellant.
DECISION
PER CURIAM:
On automatic review is a Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Bulanao, Tabuk,
Kalinga, Branch 25, sentencing appellant Joel Yatar alias "Kawit" to Death for the special
complex crime of Rape with Homicide, and ordering him to pay the heirs of the victim,
Kathylyn D. Uba, civil indemnity in the amount of P75,000.00, moral damages in the
amount of P200,000.00, exemplary damages in the amount of P50,000.00, actual
damages in the amount of P186,410.00, or total damages amounting to P511,410.00, and
costs of litigation.1
Appellant was charged with Rape with Homicide under the following Information:
That on or about the afternoon of June 30, 1998 at Liwan West, Rizal, Kalinga, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused, in order to have carnal
knowledge of a certain KATHYLYN D. UBA, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully,
and feloniously, and with use of a bladed weapon stab the latter inflicting upon her
fatal injuries resulting in the death of the victim, and on the occasion or by reason
thereof, accused, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, and by means of force and
violence had carnal knowledge of said Kathlyn D. Uba against her will.
CONTRARY TO LAW.2
The facts are:
On June 30, 1998, at 8:30 a.m., Judilyn Pas-a and her first cousin, seventeen year old
Kathylyn Uba, were on the ground floor of the house of their grandmother, Isabel
Dawang, in Liwan West, Rizal, Kalinga. They were talking about the letter sent by
their aunt, Luz Yatar, to her husband, appellant Joel Yatar, through Kathylyns friend,
Cecil Casingan. Kathylyn handed the letter to appellant earlier that morning.3
At 9:00 a.m. of the same day, Judilyn and her husband, together with Isabel Dawang, left
for their farm in Nagbitayan some two kilometers away. Before Judilyn and her husband
departed, Kathylyn told Judilyn that she intended to go to Tuguegarao, but in the event

she would not be able to leave, she would just stay home and wash her clothes or go to
the house of their aunt, Anita Wania. Kathylyn was left alone in the house.4
Later, at 10:00 a.m., Anita Wania and fifteen year old Beverly Deneng stopped by the
house of Isabel. They saw appellant at the back of the house. They went inside the house
through the back door of the kitchen to have a drink of water. Anita asked appellant what
he was doing there, and he replied that he was getting lumber to bring to the house of his
mother.5
At 12:30 p.m., while Judilyn was on her way home from Nagbitayan, she saw appellant
descend the ladder from the second floor of the house of Isabel Dawang and run towards
the back of the house.6 She later noticed appellant, who was wearing a white shirt with
collar and black pants, pacing back and forth at the back of the house. She did not find
this unusual as appellant and his wife used to live in the house of Isabel Dawang.7
At 1:30 p.m., Judilyn again saw appellant when he called her near her house. This time,
he was wearing a black shirt without collar and blue pants. Appellant told her that he
would not be getting the lumber he had stacked, and that Isabel could use it. She noticed
that appellants eyes were "reddish and sharp." Appellant asked her where her husband
was as he had something important to tell him. Judilyns husband then arrived and
appellant immediately left and went towards the back of the house of Isabel.8
In the evening of the same day, Isabel Dawang arrived home and found that the lights in
her house were off. She called out for her granddaughter, Kathylyn Uba. The door to the
ground floor was open. She noticed that the water container she asked Kathylyn to fill up
earlier that day was still empty. She went up the ladder to the second floor of the house to
see if Kathylyn was upstairs. She found that the door was tied with a rope, so she went
down to get a knife. While she groped in the dark, she felt a lifeless body that was cold
and rigid.9
Isabel moved her hand throughout the entire body. She found out that it was the naked
body of her granddaughter, Kathylyn. She called for help. Judilyn and her husband
arrived. Isabel was given a flashlight by Judilyn. She focused the beam and saw Kathylyn
sprawled on the floor naked, with her intestines protruding out of her stomach.
Meanwhile, neighbors had arrived to offer assistance. A daughter of Isabel, Cion, called
the police.10
At 9:00 that evening, SP04 Melchor Faniswa received a report that a dead woman was
found in Isabel Dawangs house. Together with fellow police officers, Faniswa went to
the house and found the naked body of Kathylyn Uba with multiple stab wounds.
The people in the vicinity informed the police officers that appellant was seen going
down the ladder of the house of Isabel Dawang at approximately 12:30 p.m.
The police discovered the victims panties, brassiere, denim pants, bag and sandals beside
her naked cadaver at the scene of the crime, and they found a dirty white shirt splattered
with blood within 50 meters from the house of Isabel.
When questioned by the police authorities, appellant denied any knowledge of
Kathylynss death,11 however, he was placed under police custody.
On July 3, 1998, appellant asked the police officers if he could relieve himself. Police
Officer Cesar Abagan accompanied him to the toilet around seven to ten meters away

from the police station. They suddenly heard someone shout in the Ilocano dialect,
"Nagtaray!" (Hes running away!). Police Officer Orlando Manuel exited through the
gate of the Police Station and saw appellant running away. Appellant was approximately
70 meters away from the station when Police Officer Abagan recaptured him. 12 He was
charged with Rape with Homicide. When he was arraigned on July 21, 1998, appellant
pleaded "not guilty."
After trial, appellant was convicted of the crime of Rape with Homicide, defined and
penalized under Article 266-A of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A. 8353,
otherwise known as the Anti-Rape Law of 1997, and was accordingly, sentenced to
Death.
Hence, this automatic review pursuant to Article 47 of the Revised Penal Code, as
amended. In his Brief, appellant assigns the following errors:
I
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN GIVING MUCH WEIGHT TO THE
EVIDENCE PRESENTED BY THE PROSECUTION NOTWITHSTANDING
THEIR DOUBTFULNESS.
II
THE TRIAL COURT SERIOUSLY ERRED IN NOT ACQUITTING THE
ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF THE SERIOUS CRIME CHARGED DUE TO
REASONABLE DOUBT.
Appellants contentions are unmeritorious.
The issue regarding the credibility of the prosecution witnesses should be resolved
against appellant. This Court will not interfere with the judgment of the trial court in
determining the credibility of witnesses unless there appears in the record some fact or
circumstance of weight and influence which has been overlooked or the significance of
which has been misinterpreted.13 Well-entrenched is the rule that the findings of the trial
court on credibility of witnesses are entitled to great weight on appeal unless cogent
reasons are presented necessitating a reexamination if not the disturbance of the same; the
reason being that the former is in a better and unique position of hearing first hand the
witnesses and observing their deportment, conduct and attitude. 14 Absent any showing
that the trial judge overlooked, misunderstood, or misapplied some facts or circumstances
of weight which would affect the result of the case, the trial judges assessment of
credibility deserves the appellate courts highest respect.15 Where there is nothing to show
that the witnesses for the prosecution were actuated by improper motive, their testimonies
are entitled to full faith and credit.16
The weight of the prosecutions evidence must be appreciated in light of the well-settled
rule which provides that an accused can be convicted even if no eyewitness is available,
as long as sufficient circumstantial evidence is presented by the prosecution to prove
beyond doubt that the accused committed the crime.17
Reference to the records will show that a total of eleven (11) wounds, six (6) stab and
five (5) incised, were found on the victims abdomen and back, causing a portion of her
small intestines to spill out of her body.18 Rigor mortis of the vicitms body was complete
when Dr. Bartolo examined the victim at 9:00 a.m. on July 1, 1998. According to him, the

time of death may be approximated from between nine (9) to twelve (12) hours prior to
the completion of rigor mortis.19 In other words, the estimated time of death was
sometime between 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on June 30, 1998. This was within the
timeframe within which the lone presence of appellant lurking in the house of Isabel
Dawang was testified to by witnesses.
It should also be noted that, although the Postmortem Report by the attending physician,
Dr. Pej Evan C. Bartolo, indicates that no hymenal lacerations, contusions or hematoma
were noted on the victim,20 Dr. Bartolo discovered the presence of semen in the vaginal
canal of the victim. During his testimony, Dr. Bartolo stated that the introduction of
semen into the vaginal canal could only be done through sexual intercourse with the
victim.21 In addition, it is apparent from the pictures submitted by the prosecution that the
sexual violation of the victim was manifested by a bruise and some swelling in her right
forearm indicating resistance to the appellants assault on her virtue.22
Significantly, subsequent testing showed that the Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) of the
sperm specimen from the vagina of the victim was identical the semen to be that of
appellants gene type.
DNA is a molecule that encodes the genetic information in all living organisms. 23 A
persons DNA is the same in each cell and it does not change throughout a persons
lifetime; the DNA in a persons blood is the same as the DNA found in his saliva, sweat,
bone, the root and shaft of hair, earwax, mucus, urine, skin tissue, and vaginal and rectal
cells.24 Most importantly, because of polymorphisms in human genetic structure, no two
individuals have the same DNA, with the notable exception of identical twins.25
DNA print or identification technology has been advanced as a uniquely effective means
to link a suspect to a crime, or to exonerate a wrongly accused suspect, where biological
evidence has been left. For purposes of criminal investigation, DNA identification is a
fertile source of both inculpatory and exculpatory evidence. It can assist immensely in
effecting a more accurate account of the crime committed, efficiently facilitating the
conviction of the guilty, securing the acquittal of the innocent, and ensuring the proper
administration of justice in every case.
DNA evidence collected from a crime scene can link a suspect to a crime or eliminate one
from suspicion in the same principle as fingerprints are used. 26 Incidents involving sexual
assault would leave biological evidence such as hair, skin tissue, semen, blood, or saliva
which can be left on the victims body or at the crime scene. Hair and fiber from clothing,
carpets, bedding, or furniture could also be transferred to the victims body during the
assault.27 Forensic DNA evidence is helpful in proving that there was physical contact
between an assailant and a victim. If properly collected from the victim, crime scene or
assailant, DNA can be compared with known samples to place the suspect at the scene of
the crime.28
The U.P. National Science Research Institute (NSRI), which conducted the DNA tests in
this case, used the Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification method by Short
Tandem Repeat (STR) analysis. With PCR testing, tiny amounts of a specific DNA
sequence can be copied exponentially within hours. Thus, getting sufficient DNA for
analysis has become much easier since it became possible to reliably amplify small
samples using the PCR method.

In assessing the probative value of DNA evidence, courts should consider, inter alia, the
following factors: how the samples were collected, how they were handled, the
possibility of contamination of the samples, the procedure followed in analyzing the
samples, whether the proper standards and procedures were followed in conducting the
tests, and the qualification of the analyst who conducted the tests.29
In the case at bar, Dr. Maria Corazon Abogado de Ungria was duly qualified by the
prosecution as an expert witness on DNA print or identification techniques. 30 Based on
Dr. de Ungrias testimony, it was determined that the gene type and DNA profile of
appellant are identical to that of the extracts subject of examination. 31 The blood sample
taken from the appellant showed that he was of the following gene types: vWA 15/19,
TH01 7/8, DHFRP2 9/10 and CSF1PO 10/11, which are identical with semen taken from
the victims vaginal canal.32 Verily, a DNA match exists between the semen found in the
victim and the blood sample given by the appellant in open court during the course of the
trial.
Admittedly, we are just beginning to integrate these advances in science and technology
in the Philippine criminal justice system, so we must be cautious as we traverse these
relatively uncharted waters. Fortunately, we can benefit from the wealth of persuasive
jurisprudence that has developed in other jurisdictions. Specifically, the prevailing
doctrine in the U.S. has proven instructive.
In Daubert v. Merrell Dow,33 it was ruled that pertinent evidence based on scientifically
valid principles could be used as long as it was relevant and reliable. Judges, under
Daubert, were allowed greater discretion over which testimony they would allow at trial,
including the introduction of new kinds of scientific techniques. DNA typing is one such
novel procedure.
Under Philippine law, evidence is relevant when it relates directly to a fact in issue as to
induce belief in its existence or non-existence. 34 Applying the Daubert test to the case at
bar, the DNA evidence obtained through PCR testing and utilizing STR analysis, and
which was appreciated by the court a quo is relevant and reliable since it is reasonably
based on scientifically valid principles of human genetics and molecular biology.
Independently of the physical evidence of appellants semen found in the victims vaginal
canal, the trial court appreciated the following circumstantial evidence as being sufficient
to sustain a conviction beyond reasonable doubt: (1) Appellant and his wife were living in
the house of Isabel Dawang together with the victim, Kathylyn Uba; (2) In June 1998,
appellants wife left the house because of their frequent quarrels; (3) Appellant received
from the victim, Kathylyn Uba, a letter from his estranged wife in the early morning on
June 30, 1998; (4) Appellant was seen by Apolonia Wania and Beverly Denneng at 1:00
p.m. of June 30, 1998 near the kitchen of the house of Isabel Dawang, acting strangely
and wearing a dirty white shirt with collar; (5) Judilyn Pas-a saw appellant going down
the ladder of the house of Isabel at 12:30 p.m., wearing a dirty white shirt, and again at
1:30 p.m., this time wearing a black shirt; (6) Appellant hurriedly left when the husband
of Judilyn Pas-a was approaching; (7) Salmalina Tandagan saw appellant in a dirty white
shirt coming down the ladder of the house of Isabel on the day Kathylyn Uba was found
dead; (8) The door leading to the second floor of the house of Isabel Dawang was tied by
a rope; (9) The victim, Kathylyn Uba, lay naked in a pool of blood with her intestines
protruding from her body on the second floor of the house of Isabel Dawang, with her

stained pants, bra, underwear and shoes scattered along the periphery; (10) Laboratory
examination revealed sperm in the victims vagina (Exhibit "H" and "J"); (11) The stained
or dirty white shirt found in the crime scene was found to be positive with blood; (12)
DNA of slide, Exhibit "J" and "H", compared with the DNA profile of the appellant are
identical; and (13) Appellant escaped two days after he was detained but was
subsequently apprehended, such flight being indicative of guilt.35
Circumstantial evidence, to be sufficient to warrant a conviction, must form an unbroken
chain which leads to a fair and reasonable conclusion that the accused, to the exclusion of
others, is the perpetrator of the crime. To determine whether there is sufficient
circumstantial evidence, three requisites must concur: (1) there is more than one
circumstance; (2) facts on which the inferences are derived are proven; and (3) the
combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond
reasonable doubt.36
In an attempt to exclude the DNA evidence, the appellant contends that the blood sample
taken from him as well as the DNA tests were conducted in violation of his right to
remain silent as well as his right against self-incrimination under Secs. 12 and 17 of Art.
III of the Constitution.
This contention is untenable. The kernel of the right is not against all compulsion, but
against testimonial compulsion.37 The right against self- incrimination is simply against
the legal process of extracting from the lips of the accused an admission of guilt. It does
not apply where the evidence sought to be excluded is not an incrimination but as part of
object evidence.
We ruled in People v. Rondero38 that although accused-appellant insisted that hair
samples were forcibly taken from him and submitted to the National Bureau of
Investigation for forensic examination, the hair samples may be admitted in evidence
against him, for what is proscribed is the use of testimonial compulsion or any evidence
communicative in nature acquired from the accused under duress.
Hence, a person may be compelled to submit to fingerprinting, photographing, paraffin,
blood and DNA, as there is no testimonial compulsion involved. Under People v.
Gallarde,39 where immediately after the incident, the police authorities took pictures of
the accused without the presence of counsel, we ruled that there was no violation of the
right against self-incrimination. The accused may be compelled to submit to a physical
examination to determine his involvement in an offense of which he is accused.
It must also be noted that appellant in this case submitted himself for blood sampling
which was conducted in open court on March 30, 2000, in the presence of counsel.
Appellant further argues that the DNA tests conducted by the prosecution against him are
unconstitutional on the ground that resort thereto is tantamount to the application of an
ex-post facto law.
This argument is specious. No ex-post facto law is involved in the case at bar. The
science of DNA typing involves the admissibility, relevance and reliability of the
evidence obtained under the Rules of Court. Whereas an ex-post facto law refers
primarily to a question of law, DNA profiling requires a factual determination of the
probative weight of the evidence presented.

Appellants twin defense of denial and alibi cannot be sustained. The forensic DNA
evidence and bloodied shirt, notwithstanding the eyewitness accounts of his presence at
Isabel Dawangs house during the time when the crime was committed, undeniably link
him to the June 30, 1998 incident. Appellant did not demonstrate with clear and
convincing evidence an impossibility to be in two places at the same time, especially in
this case where the two places are located in the same barangay.40 He lives within a one
hundred (100) meter radius from the scene of the crime, and requires a mere five minute
walk to reach one house from the other. This fact severely weakens his alibi.
As to the second assignment of error, appellant asserts that the court a quo committed
reversible error in convicting him of the crime charged. He alleges that he should be
acquitted on reasonable doubt.
Appellants assertion cannot be sustained.
Generally, courts should only consider and rely upon duly established evidence and never
on mere conjectures or suppositions. The legal relevancy of evidence denotes "something
more than a minimum of probative value," suggesting that such evidentiary relevance
must contain a "plus value."41 This may be necessary to preclude the trial court from
being satisfied by matters of slight value, capable of being exaggerated by prejudice and
hasty conclusions. Evidence without "plus value" may be logically relevant but not
legally sufficient to convict. It is incumbent upon the trial court to balance the probative
value of such evidence against the likely harm that would result from its admission.
The judgment in a criminal case can be upheld only when there is relevant evidence from
which the court can properly find or infer that the accused is guilty beyond reasonable
doubt. Proof beyond reasonable doubt requires moral certainty of guilt in order to sustain
a conviction. Moral certainty is that degree of certainty that convinces and directs the
understanding and satisfies the reason and judgment of those who are bound to act
conscientiously upon it. It is certainty beyond reasonable doubt. 42 This requires that the
circumstances, taken together, should be of a conclusive nature and tendency; leading, on
the whole, to a satisfactory conclusion that the accused, and no one else, committed the
offense charged.43 In view of the totality of evidence appreciated thus far, we rule that the
present case passes the test of moral certainty.
However, as a matter of procedure, and for the purpose of meeting the requirement of
proof beyond reasonable doubt, motive is essential for conviction when there is doubt as
to the identity of the culprit.44
Pertinently, it must be noted that Judilyn Pas-a, first cousin of the victim, testified that she
last saw the victim alive in the morning of June 30, 1998 at the house of Isabel Dawang. 45
She witnessed the appellant running down the stairs of Isabels house and proceeding to
the back of the same house.46 She also testified that a few days before the victim was
raped and killed, the latter revealed to her that "Joel Yatar attempted to rape her after she
came from the school."47 The victim told Judilyn about the incident or attempt of the
appellant to rape her five days before her naked and violated body was found dead in her
grandmothers house on June 25, 1998.48 In addition, Judilyn also testified that when her
auntie Luz Dawang Yatar, wife of appellant, separated from her husband, "this Joel Yatar
threatened to kill our family."49 According to Judilyn, who was personally present during
an argument between her aunt and the appellant, the exact words uttered by appellant to

his wife in the Ilocano dialect was, "If you leave me, I will kill all your family and your
relatives x x x."50 These statements were not contradicted by appellant.
Thus, appellants motive to sexually assault and kill the victim was evident in the instant
case. It is a rule in criminal law that motive, being a state of mind, is established by the
testimony of witnesses on the acts or statements of the accused before or immediately
after the commission of the offense, deeds or words that may express it or from which his
motive or reason for committing it may be inferred.51
Accordingly, we are convinced that the appellant is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
special complex crime of rape with homicide. Appellant sexually assaulted Kathylyn
Uba, and by reason or on the occasion thereof, in order to conceal his lustful deed,
permanently sealed the victims lips by stabbing her repeatedly, thereby causing her
untimely demise.
The following are the elements constitutive of rape with homicide: (1) the appellant had
carnal knowledge of a woman; (2) carnal knowledge of a woman was achieved by means
of force, threat or intimidation; and (3) by reason or on the occasion of such carnal
knowledge by means of force, threat or intimidation, appellant killed the woman. 52
However, in rape committed by close kin, such as the victims father, step-father, uncle,
or the common-law spouse of her mother, it is not necessary that actual force or
intimidation be employed.53 Moral influence or ascendancy takes the place of violence
and intimidation.54 The fact that the victims hymen is intact does not negate a finding
that rape was committed as mere entry by the penis into the lips of the female genital
organ, even without rupture or laceration of the hymen, suffices for conviction of rape. 55
The strength and dilatability of the hymen are invariable; it may be so elastic as to stretch
without laceration during intercourse. Absence of hymenal lacerations does not disprove
sexual abuse especially when the victim is of tender age.56
In the case at bar, appellant is the husband of the victims aunt. He is seven years older
than the victim Kathylyn Uba. Before he and his wife separated, appellant lived in the
house of his mother-in-law, together with the victim and his wife. After the separation,
appellant moved to the house of his parents, approximately one hundred (100) meters
from his mother-in-laws house. Being a relative by affinity within the third civil degree,
he is deemed in legal contemplation to have moral ascendancy over the victim.
Under Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code, the penalty of death is imposed when by
reason or on the occasion of the rape, homicide is committed. Although three (3) Justices
of this Court maintain their position that R.A. 7659 is unconstitutional insofar as it
prescribes the death penalty, they nevertheless submit to the ruling of the majority that
the law is not unconstitutional, and that the death penalty can be lawfully imposed in the
case at bar.
As to damages, civil indemnity ex delicto of P100,000.00, 57 actual damages incurred by
the family of the victim that have been proved at the trial amounting to P93,190.00, 58 and
moral damages of P75,000.0059 should be awarded in the light of prevailing law and
jurisprudence. Exemplary damages cannot be awarded as part of the civil liability since
the crime was not committed with one or more aggravating circumstances.60
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Decision of the RTC of Bulanao, Tabuk,
Kalinga, Branch 25 in Criminal Case No. 35-98, sentencing appellant Joel Yatar alias

"Kawit" to Death for the special complex crime of Rape with Homicide is AFFIRMED
with the MODIFICATION that he be ORDERED to pay the family of the victim
Kathylyn Uba civil indemnity ex delicto in the amount of P100,000.00, P93,190.00 in
actual damages and P75,000.00 in moral damages. The award of exemplary damages is
DELETED.
Upon the finality of this Decision and in accordance with Art. 83 of the Revised Penal
Code, as amended by Sec. 25 of Rep. Act No. 7659, let the records of this case be
forthwith forwarded to the President of the Philippines for the possible exercise of the
pardoning power.
Costs de oficio.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 107383. February 20, 1996.]
CECILIA ZULUETA, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and ALFREDO MARTIN,
respondents.
DECISION
MENDOZA, J.:
This is a petition to review the decision of the Court of Appeals, affirming the decision of
the Regional Trial Court of Manila (Branch X) which ordered petitioner to return
documents and papers taken by her from private respondents clinic without the latters
knowledge and consent.
The facts are as follows:
Petitioner Cecilia Zulueta is the wife of private respondent Alfredo Martin. On March 26,
1982, petitioner entered the clinic of her husband, a doctor of medicine, and in the
presence of her mother, a driver and private respondents secretary, forcibly opened the
drawers and cabinet in her husbands clinic and took 157 documents consisting of private
correspondence between Dr. Martin and his alleged paramours, greetings cards, cancelled
checks, diaries, Dr. Martins passport, and photographs. The documents and papers were
seized for use in evidence in a case for legal separation and for disqualification from the
practice of medicine which petitioner had filed against her husband.
Dr. Martin brought this action below for recovery of the documents and papers and for
damages against petitioner. The case was filed with the Regional Trial Court of Manila,
Branch X, which, after trial, rendered judgment for private respondent, Dr. Alfredo
Martin, declaring him the capital/exclusive owner of the properties described in
paragraph 3 of plaintiffs Complaint or those further described in the Motion to Return
and Suppress and ordering Cecilia Zulueta and any person acting in her behalf to
immediately return the properties to Dr. Martin and to pay him P5,000.00, as nominal
damages; P5,000.00, as moral damages and attorneys fees; and to pay the costs of the
suit. The writ of preliminary injunction earlier issued was made final and petitioner
Cecilia Zulueta and her attorneys and representatives were enjoined from using or
submitting/admitting as evidence the documents and papers in question. On appeal, the
Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial Court. Hence this petition.
There is no question that the documents and papers in question belong to private

respondent, Dr. Alfredo Martin, and that they were taken by his wife, the herein
petitioner, without his knowledge and consent. For that reason, the trial court declared the
documents and papers to be properties of private respondent, ordered petitioner to return
them to private respondent and enjoined her from using them in evidence. In appealing
from the decision of the Court of Appeals affirming the trial courts decision, petitioners
only ground is that in Alfredo Martin v. Alfonso Felix, Jr.,1 this Court ruled that the
documents and papers (marked as Annexes A-i to J-7 of respondents comment in that
case) were admissible in evidence and, therefore, their use by petitioners attorney,
Alfonso Felix, Jr., did not constitute malpractice or gross misconduct. For this reason it is
contended that the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the decision of the trial court
instead of dismissing private respondents complaint.
Petitioners contention has no merit. The case against Atty. Felix, Jr. was for disbarment.
Among other things, private respondent, Dr. Alfredo Martin, as complainant in that case,
charged that in using the documents in evidence, Atty. Felix, Jr. committed malpractice or
gross misconduct because of the injunctive order of the trial court. In dismissing the
complaint against Atty. Felix, Jr., this Court took note of the following defense of Atty.
Felix, Jr. which it found to be impressed with merit:2
On the alleged malpractice or gross misconduct of respondent [Alfonso Felix, Jr.], he
maintains that:
xxx xxx xxx
4. When respondent refiled Cecilias case for legal separation before the Pasig Regional
Trial Court, there was admittedly an order of the Manila Regional Trial Court prohibiting
Cecilia from using the documents Annex A-I to J-7. On September 6, 1983, however
having appealed the said order to this Court on a petition for certiorari, this Court issued a
restraining order on aforesaid date which order temporarily set aside the order of the trial
court. Hence, during the enforceability of this Courts order, respondents request for
petitioner to admit the genuineness and authenticity of the subject annexes cannot be
looked upon as malpractice. Notably, petitioner Dr. Martin finally admitted the truth and
authenticity of the questioned annexes. At that point in time, would it have been
malpractice for respondent to use petitioners admission as evidence against him in the
legal separation case pending in the Regional Trial Court of Makati? Respondent submits
it is- not malpractice.
Significantly, petitioners admission was done not thru his counsel but by Dr. Martin
himself under oath. Such verified admission constitutes an affidavit, and, therefore,
receivable in evidence against him. Petitioner became bound by his admission. For
Cecilia to avail herself of her husbands admission and use the same in her action for
legal separation cannot be treated as malpractice.
Thus, the acquittal of Atty. Felix, Jr. in the administrative case amounts to no more than a
declaration that his use of the documents and papers for the purpose of securing Dr.
Martins admission as to their genuiness and authenticity did not constitute a violation of
the injunctive order of the trial court. By no means does the decision in that case establish
the admissibility of the documents and papers in question.
It cannot be overemphasized that if Atty. Felix, Jr. was acquitted of the charge of
violating the writ of preliminary injunction issued by the trial court, it was only because,

at the time he used the documents and papers, enforcement of the order of the trial court
was temporarily restrained by this Court. The TRO issued by this Court was eventually
lifted as the petition for certiorari filed by petitioner against the trial courts order was
dismissed and, therefore, the prohibition against the further use of the documents and
papers became effective again.
Indeed the documents and papers in question are inadmissible in evidence. The
constitutional injunction declaring the privacy of communication and correspondence
[to be] inviolable3 is no less applicable simply because it is the wife (who thinks herself
aggrieved by her husbands infidelity) who is the party against whom the constitutional
provision is to be enforced. The only exception to the prohibition in the Constitution is if
there is a lawful order [from a] court or when public safety or order requires otherwise,
as prescribed by law.4 Any violation of this provision renders the evidence obtained
inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.5
The intimacies between husband and wife do not justify any one of them in breaking the
drawers and cabinets of the other and in ransacking them for any telltale evidence of
marital infidelity. A person, by contracting marriage, does not shed his/her integrity or his
right to privacy as an individual and the constitutional protection is ever available to him
or to her.
The law insures absolute freedom of communication between the spouses by making it
privileged. Neither husband nor wife may testify for or against the other without the
consent of the affected spouse while the marriage subsists.6 Neither may be examined
without the consent of the other as to any communication received in confidence by one
from the other during the marriage, save for specified exceptions.7 But one thing is
freedom of communication; quite another is a compulsion for each one to share what one
knows with the other. And this has nothing to do with the duty of fidelity that each owes
to the other.
WHEREFORE, the petition for review is DENIED for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.
Regalado (Chairman), Romero, and Puno, JJ., concur.
G.R. No. 97525. April 7, 1993.
PEOPLE
OF
THE
PHILIPPINES,
plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
JOEL SARTAGODA y BOCANEGRA, JIMMY BASCUA y LAZARTE, VICENTE
STA. ANA y GUTIERREZ and JOHN DOE, accused-appellants.
The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
Ernesto M. Maiquez for accused-appellants.
SYLLABUS
1. REMEDIAL LAW; EVIDENCE; FINGERPRINTS; ABSENCE THEREOF DOES
NOT ELIMINATE POSSIBILITY THAT ACCUSED COULD HAVE BEEN AT SCENE
OF THE CRIME. Although We agree with their opinion that a positive finding of
matching fingerprints has great significance, We cannot sustain their theory that from the
negative findings in the fingerprint examination conducted in the course of the

investigation in the instant case, it must be concluded that they could not have been at the
scene of the crime. Negative findings do not at all times lead to a valid conclusion for
there may be logical explanations for the absence of identifiable latent prints other than
their not being present at the scene of the crime. Only latent fingerprints found on smooth
surface are useful for purposes of comparison in a crime laboratory because prints left on
rough surfaces result in dotted lines or broken lines instead of complete and continuous
lines. Such kind of specimen cannot be relied upon in a fingerprint examination. The
latent fingerprints are actually oily substance adhering to the surfaces of objects that
come in contact with the fingers. By their very nature, oily substances easily spread such
that when the fingers slide against the surface they touch, no identifiable latent print is
left, only smudges instead. Not all police investigators are aware of the nature of latent
fingerprints so as to be guided accordingly in deciding which objects to submit for
fingerprint lifting and examination. Noting the interplay of many circumstances involved
in the successful lifting and identification of proper latent fingerprints in a particular
crime scene, the absence of one does not immediately eliminate the possibility that the
accused-appellants could have been at the scene of the crime. They may be there yet they
had not left any identifiable latent fingerprint. Besides, in the case at bar, only ten latent
fingerprints are involved. The findings in this particular fingerprint examination are not
sufficient to case even just a reasonable doubt in their finding of guilt for the crime
charged.
2. ID.; ID.; IDENTIFICATION OF THE ACCUSED; POLICE LINE-UP NOT
REQUIRED BY LAW FOR PROPER IDENTIFICATION; FACE AND BODY
MOVEMENT OF ASSAILANT CREATE LASTING IMPRESSION ON VICTIM.
Whether or not there was a previous police line-up, the fact is that they were positively
identified at the trial. There is no law requiring a police line-up as essential to a proper
identification. The complainant's recognition of the accused-appellants as her attackers
cannot be doubted for she had during the carnal acts ample opportunity to see the faces of
the men who ravaged her. It is the most natural reaction for victims of criminal violence
to strive to see the looks and faces of their assailants and observe the manner in which the
crime was committed. Most often the face of the assailant and body movement thereof,
create a lasting impression which cannot easily be erased from their memory.
3. ID.; ID.; NON-FLIGHT NOT PROOF OF INNOCENCE; CASE AT BAR. They
claim that the fact that Vicente Sta. Ana and Jimmy Bascua did not flee, even when they
had all the opportunities to do so, prove their innocence. When they were allowed to go
home after Vilma failed to identify them during the first confrontation at the police
station, they stayed home and did not flee until they were again required to appear at the
police station for the second time. The accused-appellants in effect posit that if flight is
an indication of guilt, non-flight or the decision not to flee, having the opportunity to do
so, is a sign of innocence. We do not agree. Although it is settled that unexplained flight
indicates guilt, it does not necessarily follow that absence thereof proves innocence,
specially so when there is overwhelming evidence to establish their guilt.
4. ID.; APPEAL; FACTUAL FINDINGS OF TRIAL JUDGE ENTITLED TO HIGHEST
RESPECT; EXCEPTION. this Court finds no reversible error having been committed
by the trial court in convicting the three accused-appellants for the crime of robbery with
multiple rape under Article 294 par. 2 of the Revised Penal Code. We affirm its findings

of fact which are firmly grounded on the evidence presented at the trial. We reiterate our
ruling thus: "There is need to stress anew that this Court has long been committed to the
principle that the determination by a trial judge who could weigh and appraise the
testimony as to the facts fully proved is entitled to the highest respect, unless it could be
shown that he ignored or disregarded circumstances of weight or influence sufficient to
call for a different finding."
5. CRIMINAL LAW; CIVIL LIABILITY OF PERSONS GUILTY OF CRIMES
AGAINST CHASTITY; INDEMNITY TO VICTIM FOR MULTIPLE RAPE
ATTENDED BY CONSPIRACY; ACCUSED SOLIDARILY LIABLE THEREFOR.
With regard to the indemnity to Vilma de Belen for multiple rape, there having been
evidence of conspiracy, the act of one being the act of all, each must be liable for all the
three rapes committed, they must be held solidarily liable for said indemnity which the
trial court fixed at P30,000.00 for each offender or a total of P90,000.00.
6. ID.; ID.; IN MULTIPLE RAPE ACCUSED NOT REQUIRED TO RECOGNIZE
OFFSPRING. This Court cannot uphold the trial court's ruling ordering each of the
accused to "recognize the offspring if there by any." In multiple rape, not one maybe
required to recognized the offspring of the offended woman. In a case where three
persons, one after another, raped a woman, neither of the accuse was ordered to recognize
the offspring simply because it was impossible to determine the paternity thereof.
DECISION
CAMPOS, JR., J p:
The Regional Trial Court, Fourth Judicial Region, Branch 36, Calamba, Laguna
convicted all three accused-appellants in its decision ** dated November 7, 1990, the
dispositive portion of which reads:
"WHEREFORE, the court hereby finds the accused Joel Sartagoda y Bocanegra, Jimmy
Bascoa (sic) y Lazarte and Vicente Sta. Ana y Gutierrez all guilty beyond reasonable
doubt as co-principals of the crime of Robbery With Rape, defined and penalized in
Article 294, paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal Code; there being two aggravating
circumstances without any mitigating circumstance to offset the same, hereby sentences
each of the said accused to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua with the accessories
provided for by the law.
Each of the three accused is ordered to indemnify the offended party Vilma de Belen the
sum of P30,000.00, and each of them shall recognize the offspring if there be any.
The said accused are likewise ordered to return the personal properties stolen or pay its
equivalent amount of P17,490.00 to Rogelio de Belen, the lawful owner thereof.
SO ORDERED." 1
The facts of the case may be summarized as follows:
It was the evening of July 2, 1988 while Rogelio de Belen, his two daughters and his
sister Vilma de Belen were sleeping in their house at Calamba, Laguna, when appellant
broke in and woke him up, poking a knife at him. They tied up his hands and made him
lie flat on his stomach and asked for the key to his cabinet. Fearing for his life and that of
his companions, he reluctantly told them where the key was kept.

Just on the other room was Vilma, who heard whispers (kaluskos) but simply played
possum. When the three saw her on the bed, they approached her. One covered her mouth
as another poked a knife at her neck. They threatened to kill her if she should make an
outcry.
They raised her blouse and removed her underwear. They tied both her hands so that she
could offer no resistance. She was at such a pitiful state when the accused Jimmy
Bascua went on top of her, kissing her on different parts of her body, while Vicente Sta.
Ana held her legs apart. Jimmy finally inserted his sex organ inside her and satisfied his
bestial desire. After Jimmy was over, Vicente took his turn and then Joel. After the three
of them had successfully deflowered Vilma, they left, carrying with them the money and
other personal belongings of the de Belen family.
After the three men left, Rogelio, with his hands and feet still tied up, tried to get up from
the bed and switched the lights on and called to his neighbors for help. Vilma,
meanwhile, had lost consciousness due to shock.
Meanwhile, Petra Lamire, his sister-in-law who lives right next to his house responded to
his cry for help. She went to their house and untied Rogelio. She saw Vilma with her
upper body naked and sobbing so she covered Vilma with a blanket. Soon after, his other
sister-in-law also arrived. They reported the incident to the Barangay Captain.
They had Vilma examined by Dr. Danilo A. Ramirez at Dr. Jose Rizal Memorial Hospital
at about 10:00 that same morning. He conducted external and internal examinations. His
external examination showed no physical injuries except that he noted several abrasions
at the genital area. His internal examination showed fresh lacerations of the hymen at
9:00 and 4:00 positions. The vagina admitted two fingers with ease.
In the present appeal the lone assigned error is:
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT DECLARING (THAT) THE EVIDENCE OF
THE PROSECUTION UTTERLY FAILED TO PROVE THE GUILT OF THE
ACCUSED BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT HENCE, THEIR ACQUITTAL IS
INEVITABLE.
This appeal has no merit.
The accused-appellants fault the trial court of ignoring the fingerprint examination report
submitted by the Crime Laboratory of the PC/INP Camp Crame which stated that none of
the specimen latent fingerprints were found to be positive. It is their contention that since
their fingerprints were not found in the objects found in the scene of the crime they
cannot be held guilty of the crime charged beyond reasonable doubt.
Although We agree with their opinion that a positive finding of matching fingerprints has
great significance, We cannot sustain their theory that from the negative findings in the
fingerprint examination conducted in the course of the investigation in the instant case, it
must be concluded that they could not have been at the scene of the crime. Negative
findings do not at all times lead to a valid conclusion for there may be logical
explanations for the absence of identifiable latent prints other than their not being present
at the scene of the crime.
Only latent fingerprints found on smooth surface are useful for purposes of comparison in
a crime laboratory because prints left on rough surfaces result in dotted lines or broken

lines instead of complete and continuous lines. Such kind of specimen cannot be relied
upon in a fingerprint examination. The latent fingerprints are actually oily substances
adhering to the surfaces of objects that come in contact with the fingers. By their very
nature, oily substances easily spread such that when the fingers slide against the surface
they touch, no identifiable latent print is left, only smudges instead. Not all police
investigators are aware of the nature of latent fingerprints so as to be guided accordingly
in deciding which objects to submit for fingerprint lifting and examination. Noting the
interplay of many circumstances involved in the successful lifting and identification of
proper latent fingerprints in a particular crime scene, the absence of one does not
immediately eliminate the possibility that the accused-appellants could have been at the
scene of the crime. They may be there yet they had not left any identifiable latent
fingerprint. Besides, in the case at bar, only ten latent fingerprints are involved. The
findings in this particular fingerprint examination are not sufficient to cast even just a
reasonable doubt in their finding of guilt for the crime charged.
The accused-appellants likewise contend that the police line-up had been irregularly
conducted revealing suggestibility to their prejudice. They accused Pat. Reyes of
coaching complainant Vilma de Belen when she identified her three assailants. They
claim that it was Pat. Reyes' fault that "they were not allowed to select their positions at
the line-up; that they were not placed in line under a numeral against a wall marked to
indicate their respective height in feet and inches; that there was no record made of their
descriptions and physical characteristics; that the witness/victim was not out of view of
the three (3) accused lined-up for identification purposes." 2
We find these claims of irregularities of little if not, of no significance at all when
considered in the light of the natural desire in the victim to seek retribution not simply
from anybody who may be put before her but from the very same offenders who actually
did violence against her. It would be most illogical for an outraged victim to direct her
anger against anyone other than her three offenders. We cannot accept the accusedappellants' claim that it was on Pat. Reyes' suggestion that the victim pointed to the
accused-appellants as her assailants. No amount of coaching will be sufficient to counter
the natural outrage of a rape victim against her abuser when said abuser is presented
before her in a police line-up. The outrage displayed by the rape victim was a
spontaneous reaction. She identified her assailants because of no other reason except to
let people know who hurt her.
Whether or not there was a previous police line-up, the fact is that they were positively
identified at the trial. There is no law requiring a police line-up as essential to a proper
identification. 3 The complainant's recognition of the accused-appellants as her attackers
cannot be doubted for she had during the carnal acts ample opportunity to see the faces of
the men who ravaged her. It is the most natural reaction for victims of criminal violence
to strive to see the looks and faces of their assailants and observe the manner in which the
crime was committed. Most often the face of the assailant and body movements thereof,
create a lasting impression which cannot easily be erased from their memory. 4
The accused-appellants further claim that "the Medical Findings of Dr. Danilo Ramirez
concludes that the alleged victim of rape, Vilma de Belen must have had sexual
experienced (sic) five (5) to six (6) days before the alleged incident happened on July 2,
1988 at about 3 to 4 o'clock in the morning". 5 There is no truth to this claim. In fact,

there was no categorical or positive assertion on the part of Dr. Ramirez that the sexual
intercourse with Vilma was committed on the very date when the alleged "robbery with
rape" took place on July 2, 1988.
This is a clear distortion of the testimony of Dr. Ramirez who on cross-examination
testified as follows:
"ATTY. MAIQUEZ:
Q You cannot also determine when was the first and when was the last intercourse as per
your examination?
FISCAL
Objection, witness is incompetent.
COURT
Witness may answer.
A The findings suggest that because of hymenal laceration the injuries was (sic) recent
not more than one week, sir.
Q When you say it is not more than one week, could it be 6 or 5 days?
A Possible, sir.
Q When you say it is possible that the victim could have experienced sexual intercourse 6
to 5 days that was indicated in your examination marked as Exh. A, can you determine as
per your finding?
A Well, yes, sir, I placed fresh hymenal laceration because laceration will determine
whether it is fresh or old because of the characteristice (sic) of the laceration, sir.
Q At the time you examined the patient in your medical opinion it could have been 5 or 6
days had elapsed?
A Yes, sir.
ATTY. MAIQUEZ:
That will be all." 6
The trial court, in the exercise of its discretion to seek clarification in witness' testimony
proceeded as follows:
"COURT:
Q Doctor, in your findings you noted that there was an abrasion?
A Yes, your Honor.
Q Is that more than one abrasion?
A I found 3 mm., your Honor.
WITNESS (continuing):
and on the lower opening of the vagina on the right side, that is the only place, sir.
COURT:
Q Aside from that injury or rater (sic) that portion there is no other injury which you

found?
A None, your Honor.
Q Because laceration stated in your medicolegal certificate that there was fresh hymenal
laceration noted at 9 and 4 o'clock on the face of the clock?
A Yes, your Honor.
Q Do we gather it right when you stated in your medicolegal certificate fresh it is not yet
healed?
A Yes, your Honor.
Q From that finding of yours regarding the existence of fresh hymenal laceration you said
that it least one or 2 days had elapsed before you have conducted the physical
examination?
A Yes, your Honor.
Q In other words from one to 5 days?
A Yes, your Honor.
COURT:
Q But it is possible that it could be more than one or two days?.
WITNESS:
A Yes, your Honor." 7
It is evident that Dr. Ramirez never categorically concluded that the sexual intercourse
causing the fresh hymenal lacerations took place five to six days before the date of her
examination. The accused-appellants' claim that the sexual intercourse took place on June
26 or 27, 1988 is conjectural and without factual basis.
The claim of the accused-appellants that the prosecution failed to present rebuttal
evidence to refute the averments of Joel Sartagoda that they tried in vain to persuade him
to admit the charge against him and to implicate his two (2) co-accused did not deserve
the attention of the trial court nor does it deserve Ours, being per se unacceptable and
unbelievable in the light of human experience.
Finally, they claim that the fact that Vicente Sta. Ana and Jimmy Bascua did not flee,
even when they had all the opportunities to do so, prove their innocence. When they were
allowed to go home after Vilma failed to identify them during the first confrontation at
the police station, they stayed home and did not flee until they were again required to
appear at the police station for the second time. The accused-appellants in effect posit that
if flight is an indication of guilt, non-flight or the decision not to flee, having the
opportunity to do so, is a sign of innocence.
We do not agree. Although it is settled that unexplained flight indicates guilt, it does, not
necessarily follow that absence thereof proves innocence, specially so when there is
overwhelming evidence to establish their guilt.
This Court finds no reversible error having been committed by the trial court in
convicting the three accused-appellants for the crime of robbery with multiple rape under
Article 294 par. 2 of the Revised Penal Code. We affirm its findings of fact which are

firmly grounded on the evidence presented at the trial. We reiterate our ruling thus:
"There is need to stress anew that this Court has long been committed to the principle that
the determination by a trial judge who could weigh and appraise the testimony as to the
facts duly proved is entitled to the highest respect, unless it could be shown that he
ignored or disregarded circumstances of weight or influence sufficient to call for a
different finding." 8
We are for the affirmance of the conviction of the three accused-appellants. With regard
to the indemnity to Vilma de Belen for multiple rape, there having been evidence of
conspiracy, the act of one being the act of all, each must be liable for all the three rapes
committed, they must be held solidarily liable 9 for said indemnity which the trial court
fixed at P30,000.00 for each offender or a total of P90,000.00. 10
However, this Court cannot uphold the trial court's ruling ordering each of the accused to
"recognize the offspring if there be any". In multiple rape, not one maybe required to
recognized the offspring of the offended woman. In a case 11 where three persons, one
after another, raped a woman, neither of the accused was ordered to recognize the
offspring simply because it was impossible to determine the paternity thereof.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appealed decision is AFFIRMED with the
MODIFICATION that the accused-appellants are held jointly and severally liable to
indemnify Vilma de Belen for multiple rape in the amount of P90,000.00, and that none
of the accused is required to recognize the offspring.
SO ORDERED.
[G.R. Nos. 100901-08. July 16, 1998]
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. JAILON KULAIS,
CARLOS FALCASANTOS @ Commander Falcasantos, AWALON KAMLON
HASSAN @ Commander Kamlon, MAJID SAMSON @ Commander Bungi,
JUMATIYA AMLANI DE FALCASANTOS, NORMA SAHIDDAN DE KULAIS,
SALVADOR MAMARIL y MENDOZA, HADJIRUL PLASIN y ALIH, JAINUDDIN
HASSAN y AHMAD, IMAM TARUK ALAH y SALIH, JALINA HASSAN DE
KAMMING, FREDDIE MANUEL @ Ajid and several JOHN and JANE DOES,
accused, JAILON KULAIS, appellant.
DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:
The trial courts erroneous taking of judicial notice of a witness testimony in another
case, also pending before it, does not affect the conviction of the appellant, whose guilt is
proven beyond reasonable doubt by other clear, convincing and overwhelming evidence,
both testimonial and documentary. The Court takes this occasion also to remind the bench
and the bar that reclusion perpetua is not synonymous with life imprisonment.
The Case
On August 22, 1990, five Informations for kidnapping for ransom (Crim. Case Nos.
10060, 10061, 10062, 10063 and 10064) and three Informations for kidnapping (Crim
Case Nos. 10065, 10066 and 10067), all dated August 14, 1990, were filed[1] before the
Regional Trial Court of Zamboanga City against Carlos Falcasantos, Jailon Kulais,

Jumatiya Amlani, Norma Sahiddan de Kulais, Jalina Hassan de Kamming,[2] Salvador


Mamaril, Hadjirul Plasin, Jaimuddin Hassan, Imam[3] Taruk Alah, Freddie Manuel alias
Ajid, and several John and Jane Does. The Informations for kidnapping for ransom,
which set forth identical allegations save for the names of the victims, read as follows:
That on or about the 12th day of December, 1988, in the City of Zamboanga,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused, being all private individuals, conspiring and confederating together, mutually
aiding and assisting one another, with threats to kill the person of FELIX ROSARIO [in
Criminal Case No. 10060][4] and for the purpose of extorting ransom from the said Felix
Rosario or his families or employer, did then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and
feloniously, KIDNAP the person of said Felix Rosario,[5] a male public officer of the
City Government of Zamboanga, who was then aboard a Cimarron vehicle with plate No.
SBZ-976 which was being ambushed by the herein accused at the highway of Sitio
Tigbao Lisomo, Zamboanga City, and brought said Felix Rosario[6] to different
mountainous places of Zamboanga City and Zamboanga del Sur, where he was detained,
held hostage and deprived of his liberty until February 2, 1989, the day when he was
released only after payment of the ransom was made to herein accused, to the damage
and prejudice of said victim; there being present an aggravating circumstance in that the
aforecited offense was committed with the aid of armed men or persons who insure or
afford impunity.
The three Informations for kidnapping, also under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code,
likewise alleged identical facts and circumstances, except the names of the victims:
That on or about the 12th day of December, 1988, in the City of Zamboanga and within
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, being all private
individuals, conspiring and confederating together, mutually aiding and assisting one
another, by means of threats and intimidation of person, did then and there, wilfully,
unlawfully and feloniously KIDNAP, take and drag away and detain the person of
MONICO SAAVEDRA Y LIMEN [Criminal Case No. 10065][7] a male public officer of
the City Government of Zamboanga, against his will, there being present an aggravating
circumstance in that the aforecited offense was committed with the aid of armed men or
persons who insure or afford impunity.
Of the twelve accused, only nine were apprehended, namely, Jailon Julais, Jumatiya
Amlani, Norma Sahiddan de Kulais, Salvador Mamaril, Hadjirul Plasin, Jainuddin
Hassan, Imam Taruk Alah, Jalina Hassan and Freddie Manuel.[8]
On their arraignment on September 13, 1990, all the accused pleaded not guilty. Joint
trial on the merits ensued. On April 8, 1991, Judge Pelagio S. Mandi rendered the
assailed 36-page Decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, above premises and discussion taken into consideration, this Court
renders its judgment, ordering and finding:
1. FREDDIE MANUEL, alias AJID and IMAM TARUK ALAH y SALIH [n]ot
[g]uilty of the eight charges of [k]idnapping for [r]ansom and for [k]idnapping, their guilt
not having been proved beyond reasonable doubt.
Their immediate release from the City Jail, Zamboanga City is ordered, unless detained
for some other offense besides these 8 cases (Crim. Cases Nos. 10060-10067).

2. JAINUDDIN HASSAN y AHMAD, JAILON KULAIS, SALVADOR MAMARIL y


MENDOZA and HADJIRUL PLASIN y ALIH [g]uilty as principals by conspiracy in all
these 8 cases for [k]idnapping for [r]ansom and for [k]idnapping (Crim. Cases Nos.
10060-10067).
Their guilt is aggravated in that they committed the 8 offenses with the aid of armed men
who insured impunity. Therefore, the penalties imposed on them shall be at their
maximum period.
WHEREFORE, for the five charges of [k]idnapping for [r]ansom, and pursuant to Art.
267 of the Revised Penal Code, five life imprisonments are imposed on Jainuddin Hassan
y Ahmad, Jailon Kulais, Salvador Mamaril y Mendoza and Kadjirul Plasin y Alih (Crim.
Cases Nos. 10060-10064).
For kidnapping Mrs. Virginia San Agustin-Gara, a female and public officer and pursuant
to Art. 267, Revised Penal Code (par. 4.), another life imprisonment is imposed on
Jainuddin Hassan y Ahmad, Jailon Kulais, Salvador Mamaril y Mendoza and Hadjirul
Plasin y Alih (Crim. Case No. 10066)
For kidnapping Monico Saavedra y Limen, and Calixto Francisco y Gaspar, and their
kidnapping not having lasted more than five days, pursuant to Art. 268, Revised Penal
Code, and the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the same four accused - Jainuddin Hassan y
Ahmad, Jailon Kulais, Salvador Mamaril y Mendoza and Hadjirul Plasin y Alih - are
sentenced to serve two (2) jail terms ranging from ten (10) years of prision mayor as
minimum, to eighteen (18) years of reclusion temporal as maximum (Crim. Cases Nos.
10065 and 10067).
3. JAMATIYA AMLANI DE FALCASANTOS [n]ot [g]uilty in the three charges of
[k]idnapping and she is acquitted of these charges. (Crim. Cases Nos. 10065, 10066 and
10067).
But Jumatiya Amlani de Falcasantos is [g]uilty as accomplice in the five charges of
[k]idnapping for [r]ansom.
WHEREFORE, Jumatiya Amlani de Falcasantos is sentenced to serve five (5)
imprisonments, ranging from TEN (10) YEARS of prision mayor as minimum to
EIGHTEEN (18) YEARS of reclusion temporal as maximum (Crim. Cases Nos. 1006010064).
4. NORMA SAHIDDAN DE KULAIS, 18 years old, and JALIHA HUSSIN (charged as
Jalina Hassan de Kamming), 15 years old, [n]ot [g]uilty in the three charges for
[k]idnapping and are, therefore, ACQUITTED of these three charges. (Crim. Cases Nos.
10065, 10066 & 10067).
But Norma Sahiddan de Kulais and Jalina Hussin are found [g]uilty as accomplices in the
five charges for [k]idnapping for [r]ansom. Being minors, they are entitled to the
privileged mitigating circumstance of minority which lowers the penalty imposable on
them by one degree.
WHEREFORE, Norma Sahiddan de Kulais and Jalina Hussin are sentenced to serve five
imprisonments ranging from SIX (6) YEARS of prision correccional as minimum to
TEN YEARS AND ONE (1) DAY OF prision mayor as maximum (Crim. Cases Nos.
10060-10064).

Due to the removal of the suspension of sentences of youthful offenders convicted of an


offense punishable by death or life by Presidential Decree No. 1179 and Presidential
Decree No. 1210 (of which [k]idnapping for [r]ansom is such an offense) the sentences
on Norma Sahiddan de Kulais and Jaliha Hussin de Kamming are NOT suspended but
must be served by them.
Januddin Hassan, Jailon Kulais, Salvador Mamaril and Hadjirul Plasin are sentenced
further to return the following personal effects taken on December 12, 1988, the day of
the kidnapping, or their value in money, their liability being solidary.
To Jessica Calunod:
One (1) Seiko wrist watch P 250.00
One Bracelet P 2,400.00
One Shoulder Bag P 200.00
Cash P 200.00
To Armado C. Bacarro:
One (1) wrist watch P 800.00
One Necklace P 300.00
One Calculator P 295.00
Eyeglasses P 500.00
One Steel Tape P 250.00
To Edilberto S. Perez
One (1) Rayban P 1,000.00
One Wrist Watch P 1,800.00
Cash P 300.00
To Virginia San Agustin-Gara
One (1) Wrist Watch P 850.00
The benefit of Art. 29, Revised Penal Code, on preventive suspension, shall be extended
to those sentenced.
The cases against Majid Samson, alias Commander Bungi Awalon Kamlon a.k.a.
Commander Kamlon Carlos Falcasantos and several John Does and Jane Does are
ARCHIVED until their arrest.
Costs against the accused convicted.
SO ORDERED.[9]
On May 7, 1991, Jailon Kulais, Jumatiya Amlani de Falcasantos, Norma Sahiddan de
Kulais and Jaliha Hussin filed their joint Notice of Appeal.[10] In a letter dated February
6, 1997, the same appellants, except Jailon Kulais, withdrew their appeal because of their
application for amnesty. In our March 19, 1997 Resolution, we granted their motion.
Hence, only the appeal of Kulais remains for the consideration of this Court.[11]
The Facts

The Version of the Prosecution


The solicitor general summarized, in this wise, the facts as viewed by the People:
On December 12, 1988, a group of public officials from various government agencies,
organized themselves as a monitoring team to inspect government projects in Zamboanga
City. The group was composed of Virginia Gara, as the head of the team; Armando
Bacarro, representing the Commission on Audit; Felix del Rosario, representing the nongovernment; Edilberto Perez, representing the City Assessors Office; Jessica Calunod
and Allan Basa of the City Budget Office and Monico Saavedra, the driver from the City
Engineers Office. (p. 3, TSN, October 22, 1990.)
On that particular day, the group headed to the Lincomo Elementary School to check on
two of its classrooms. After inspecting the same, they proceeded to the Talaga
Footbridge. The group was not able to reach the place because on their way, they were
stopped by nine (9) armed men who pointed their guns at them (p. 4, TSN, ibid.).
The group alighted from their Cimarron jeep where they were divested of their personal
belongings. They were then ordered to walk to the mountain by the leader of the armed
men who introduced himself as Commander Falcasantos (p. 5, TSN, ibid.)
While the group was walking in the mountain, they encountered government troops
which caused their group to be divided. Finally, they were able to regroup themselves.
Commander Kamlon with his men joined the others. (pp. 7-8, TSN, ibid.).
The kidnappers held their captives for fifty-four (54) days in the forest. During their
captivity, the victims were able to recognize their captors who were at all times armed
with guns. The wives of the kidnappers performed the basic chores like cooking. (pp.910. TSN, ibid.)
Commander Falcasantos also ordered their victims to sign the ransom notes which
demanded a ransom of P100.000.00 and P14,000.00 in exchange for twenty (20) sets of
uniform. (p.15, TSN, ibid.)
On February 3, 1989, at around 12:00 oclock noontime, the victims were informed that
they would be released. They started walking until around 7:00 o clock in the evening of
that day. At around 12:00 o clock midnight, the victims were released after Commander
Falcasantos and Kamlon received the ransom money. (p. 19, TSN, ibid.) The total amount
paid was P122,000.00. The same was reached after several negotiations between Mayor
Vitaliano Agan of Zamboanga City and the representatives of the kidnappers. (pp. 2, 6,
TSN, Nov. 11, 1990)
x x x.[12]
The prosecution presented fifteen witnesses, including some of the kidnap victims
themselves: Jessica Calunod, Armando Bacarro, Edilberto Perez, Virginia San AgustinGara, Calixto Francisco, and Monico Saavedra.
The Version of the Defense
The facts of the case, according to the defense, are as follows:[13]
On May 28, 1990, at about 10:00 o clock in the morning, while weeding their farm in
Sinaburan, Zamboanga del Sur, accused-appellant Jumatiya Amlani was picked up by
soldiers and brought to a place where one army battalion was stationed. Thereat, her five

(5) co-accused, namely Salvador Mamaril, Hadjirul Plasin, Jainuddin Hassin, Imam
Taruk Alah and Freddie Manuel were already detained. In the afternoon of the same day,
appellants spouses Jailon Kulais and Norma Sahiddan were brought to the battalion
station and likewise detained thereat. On May 30, 1990, the eight (8) accused were
transported to Metrodiscom, Zamboanga City. Here on the same date, they were joined
by accused-appellant Jaliha Hussin.
At the time Amlani was picked up by the military, she had just escaped from the captivity
of Carlos Falcasantos and company who in 1988 kidnapped and brought her to the
mountains. Against their will, she stayed with Falcasantos and his two wives for two
months, during which she slept with Falcasantos as aide of the wives and was made to
cook food, wash clothes, fetch water and run other errands for everybody. An armed
guard was assigned to watch her, so that, for sometime, she had to bear the ill-treatment
of Falcasantos other wives one of whom was armed. After about two months, while she
was cooking and Falcasantos and his two wives were bathing in the river, and while her
guard was not looking, she took her chance and made a successful dash for freedom.
(TSN, January 29, 1992, pp. 2-15)
Likewise a kidnap victim herself is accused-appellant Jaliha Hussin, who was thirteen
years old at the time (she was fifteen years old when the trial of the instant cases
commenced). She was kidnapped by Daing Kamming and brought to the mountains
where he slept with her. She stayed with him for less than a month sleeping on forest
ground and otherwise performing housekeeping errands for Kamming and his men. She
made good her escape during an encounter between the group of Kamming and military
troops. She hid in the bushes and came out at Ligui-an where she took a bachelor bus in
going back to her mothers house at Pudos, Guiligan, Tungawan, Zamboanga del Sur.
One day, at around 2:00 o clock in the afternoon, while she was harvesting palay at the
neighboring village of Tigbalangao, military men picked her up to Ticbanuang where
there was an army battalion detachment. From Ticbawuang, she was brought to Vitali,
then to Metrodiscom, Zamboanga City, where on her arrival, she met all the other
accused for the first time except Freddie Manuel. (Ibid., pp. 16-21)
Another female accused is appellant Norma Sahiddan, a native of Sinaburan, Tungawan,
Zamboanga del Sur. At about 3:00 oclock in the afternoon of a day in May, while she
and her husband were in their farm, soldiers arrested them. The soldiers did not tell them
why they were being arrested, neither were they shown any papers. The two of them were
just made to board a six by six truck. There were no other civilians in the truck. The truck
brought the spouses to the army battalion and placed them inside the building where there
were civilians and soldiers. Among the civilians present were her six co-accused Hadjirul
Plasin, Salvador Mamaril, Jaimuddin Hassan, Ima[m] Taruk Alah, Freddie Manuel and
Jumatiya Amlani. That night, the eight of them were brought to Tictapul, Zamboanga
City; then to Vitali; and, finally, to the Metrodiscom, Zamboanga City where they stayed
for six days and six nights. On the seventh day, the accused were brought to the City Jail,
Zamboanga City. (TSN, January 30, 1991, pp. 6-11)
The husband of Norma Sahiddan is Jailon Kulais who, as heretofore narrated, was
arrested with his wife the day the soldiers came to their farm on May 28, 1990. He has
shared with his wife the ordeals that followed in the wake of their arrest and in the
duration of their confinement up to the present. (TSN, January 22, 1991 pp. 2-4).

The Trial Courts Ruling


The trial court found Appellant Kulais guilty of five counts of kidnapping for ransom and
one count of kidnapping a woman and public officer, for which offenses it imposed upon
him six terms of life imprisonment. It also found him guilty of two counts of slight
illegal detention for the kidnapping of Monico Saavedra and Calixto Francisco. The trial
court ratiocinated as follows:
Principally, the issue here is one of credibility - both of the witnesses and their version
of what had happened on December 12, 1988, to February 3, 1989. On this pivotal issue,
the Court gives credence to [p]rosecution witnesses and their testimonies. Prosecution
evidence is positive, clear and convincing. No taint of evil or dishonest motive was
imputed or imputable to [p]rosecution witnesses. To this Court, who saw all the witnesses
testify, [p]rosecution witnesses testified only because they were impelled by [a] sense of
justice, of duty and of truth.
Contrarily, [d]efense evidence is weak, uncorroborated and consisted only of alibis. The
individual testimonies of the nine accused dwel[t] principally on what happened to each
of them on May 27, 28 and 29, 1990. None of the accused explained where he or she was
on and from December 12, 1988, to February 3, 1989, when [p]rosecution evidence
show[ed] positively seven of the nine accused were keeping the five or six hostages
named by [p]rosecution evidence.
The seven accused positively identified to have been present during the course of the
captivity of the five kidnap-victims-complainants are: (1) Jumatiya Amlani; (2) Jaliha
Hussin; (3) Norma Sahiddan; (4) Jailon Kulais; (5) Hadjirul Plasin; (6) Salvador Mamaril
and (7) Jainuddin Hassan.
The two accused not positively identified are: Freddie Manuel alias Ajid, and Imam
Taruk Alah. These two must, therefore, be declared acquitted based on reasonable doubt.
The next important issue to be examined is: Are these seven accused guilty as
conspirators as charged in the eight Informations; or only as accomplices? Prosecution
evidence shows that the kidnapping group to which the seven accused belonged had
formed themselves into an armed band for the purpose of kidnapping for ransom. This
armed band had cut themselves off from established communities, lived in the mountains
and forests, moved from place to place in order to hide their hostages. The wives of these
armed band moved along with their husbands, attending to their needs, giving them
material and moral support. These wives also attended to the needs of the kidnap victims,
sleeping with them or comforting them.
xxxxxxxxx
II) The guilt of Jainuddin Hassan, Jailon Kulais, Salvador Mamaril and Hadjirul Plasin.
The Court holds these four men guilty as conspirators in the 8 cases of kidnapping.
Unlike the three women-accused, these male accused were armed. They actively
participated in keeping their hostages by fighting off the military and CAFGUS, in
transferring their hostages from place to place, and in guarding the kidnap hostages.
Salvador Mamaril and Jailon Kulais were positively identified as among the nine armed
men who had kidnapped the eight kidnap victims on December 12, 1988.
The higher degree of participation found by the Court of the four accused is supported by

the rulings of our Supreme Court quoted below.


(1) The time-honored jurisprudence is that direct proof is not essential to prove
conspiracy. It may be shown by a number of infinite acts, conditions and circumstances
which may vary according to the purposes to be accomplished and from which may
logically be inferred that there was a common design, understanding or agreement among
the conspirators to commit the offense charged. (People vs. Cabrera, 43 Phil 64; People
vs. Carbonel, 48 Phil. 868.)
(2) The crime must, therefore, in view of the solidarity of the act and intent which existed
between the sixteen accused, be regarded as the act of the band or party created by them,
and they are all equally responsible for the murder in question. (U.S. vs. Bundal, et. al. 3
Phil 89, 98.)
(3) When two or more persons unite to accomplish a criminal object, whether through the
physical volition of one, or all, proceeding severally or collectively, each individual
whose evil will actively contribute to the wrongdoing is in law responsible for the whole,
the same as though performed by himself alone. (People vs. Peralta, et. al. 25 SCRA 759,
772 (1968).)[14]
The Assigned Errors
The trial court is faulted with the following errors, viz:
I
The trial court erred in taking judicial notice of a material testimony given in another
case by Lt. Melquiades Feliciano, who allegedly was the team leader of the government
troops which allegedly captured the accused-appellants in an encounter; thereby,
depriving the accused-appellants their right to cross-examine him.
II
On the assumption that Lt. Felicianos testimony could be validly taken judicial notice of,
the trial court, nevertheless, erred in not disregarding the same for being highly
improbable and contradictory.
III
The trial court erred in finding that accused-appellants Jumatiya Amlani, Jaliha Hussin
and Norma Sahiddan provided Carlos Falcasantos, et. al., with material and moral
comfort, hence, are guilty as accomplices in all the kidnapping for ransom cases.
IV
The trial court erred in denying to accused-appellant Jaliha Hussin and Norma Sahiddan
the benefits of suspension of sentence given to youth offenders considering that they were
minors at the time of the commission of the offense.[15]
As earlier noted, Jumatiya Amlani, Jaliha Hussin and Norma Sahiddan had withdrawn
their appeal, and as such, the third and fourth assigned errors, which pertain to them only,
will no longer be dealt with. Only the following issues pertaining to Appellant Jailon
Kulais will be discussed: (1) judicial notice of other pending cases, (2) sufficiency of the
prosecution evidence, and (3) denial as a defense. In addition, the Court will pass upon
the propriety of the penalty imposed by the trial court.

The Courts Ruling


The appeal is bereft of merit.
First Issue:
Judicial Notice and Denial of Due Process
Appellant Kulais argues that he was denied due process when the trial court took judicial
notice of the testimony given in another case by one Lt. Melquiades Feliciano, who was
the team leader of the government troops that captured him and his purported cohorts.
[16] Because he was allegedly deprived of his right to cross-examine a material witness
in the person of Lieutenant Feliciano, he contends that the latters testimony should not
be used against him.[17]
True, as a general rule, courts should not take judicial notice of the evidence presented in
other proceedings, even if these have been tried or are pending in the same court, or have
been heard and are actually pending before the same judge.[18] This is especially true in
criminal cases, where the accused has the constitutional right to confront and crossexamine the witnesses against him.
Having said that, we note, however, that even if the court a quo did take judicial notice of
the testimony of Lieutenant Feliciano, it did not use such testimony in deciding the cases
against the appellant. Hence, Appellant Kulais was not denied due process. His
conviction was based mainly on the positive identification made by some of the kidnap
victims, namely, Jessica Calunod, Armando Bacarro and Edilberto Perez. These witnesses
were subjected to meticulous cross-examinations conducted by appellants counsel. At
best, then, the trial courts mention of Lieutenant Felicianos testimony is a decisional
surplusage which neither affected the outcome of the case nor substantially prejudiced
Appellant Kulais.
Second Issue:
Sufficiency of Prosecution Evidence
Appellant was positively identified by Calunod, as shown by the latters testimony:
CP CAJAYON D MS:
Q And how long were you in the custody of these persons?
A We stayed with them for fifty-four days.
Q And during those days did you come to know any of the persons who were with the
group?
A We came to know almost all of them considering we stayed there for fifty-four days.
Q And can you please name to us some of them or how you know them?
A For example, aside from Commander Falcasantos and Commander Kamlon we came to
know first our foster parents, those who were assigned to give us some food.
Q You mean to say that the captors assigned you some men who will take care of you?
A Yes.
Q And to whom were you assigned?

A To lla Abdurasa.
Q And other than your foster [parents] or the parents whom you are assigned to, who else
did you come to know?
A Pagal and his wife; Tangkong and his wife Nana; the two (2) wives of Commander
Falcasantos - Mating and Janira - another brother in-law of Commander Kamlon, Usman,
the wife of Kamlon, Tira.
xxxxxxxxx
Q Now, you said that you were with these men for fifty-four days and you really came to
know them. Will you still be able to recognize these persons if you will see the[m] again?
A Yes, maam.
Q Now will you look around this Honorable Court and see if any of those you mentioned
are here?
A Yes, they are here.
Q Some of them are here?
A Some of them are here.
xxxxxxxxx
Q Where is Tangkong? What is he wearing?
A White t-shirt with orange collar. (witness pointing.) He was one of those nine armed
men who took us from the highway.
RTC INTERPRETER:
Witness pointed to a man sitting in court and when asked of his name, he gave his name
as JAILON KULAIS.
CP CAJAYON D MS:
Q Aside from being with the armed men who stopped the vehicle and made you alight,
what else was he doing while you were in their captivity?
A He was the foster parent of Armando Bacarro and the husband of Nana.
COURT:
Q Who?
A Tangkong.
x x x x x x x x x[19]
Likewise clear and straightforward was Bacarros testimony pointing to appellant as one
of the culprits:
FISCAL CAJAYON:
xxxxxxxxx
Q And what happened then?
A Some of the armed men assigned who will be the host or who will be the one [to]
g[i]ve food to us.

Q [To] whom were you assigned?


A I was assigned to a certain Tangkong and [his] wife Nana.
xxxxxxxxx
Q Now, you said you were assigned to Tangkong and his wife. [D]o you remember how
he looks like?
A Yes.
Q Now, will you please look around this Court and tell us if that said Tangkong and his
wife are here?
A Yes, maam.
Q Could you please point this Tangkong to us?
A Witness pointed to a person in Court. [W]hen asked his name he identified [himself] as
Jailon Kulais.
Q Why did you say his name is Tangkong? Where did you get that name?
A Well, that is the name [by which he is] usually called in the camp.
xxxxxxxxx
ATTY. FABIAN (counsel for accused Kulais)
Q When did you first meet Tangkong?
A That was on December 11, because I remember he was the one who took us.
Q When you were questioned by the fiscal a while ago, you stated that Mr. Mamaril was
one of those who stopped the bus and took you to the hill and you did not mention
Tangkong?
A I did not mention but I can remember his face.
xxxxxxxxx
Q And because Tangkong was always with you as your host even if he did not tell you
that he [was] one of those who stopped you, you would not recognize him?
A No, I can recognize him because he was the one who took my shoes.
COURT:
Q Who?
A Tangkong, your Honor.
x x x x x x x x x[20]
Also straightforward was Ernesto Perez candid narration:
FISCAL CAJAYON:
xxxxxxxxx
Q Who else?
A The last man.
Q Did you come to know his name?

A Only his nickname, Tangkong. (Witness pointed to a man in Court who identified
himself as Jailon Kulais.)
Q And what was Tangkong doing in the mountain?
A The same, guarding us.
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY ATTY. SAHAK
Q Engr. Perez, you stated that you were ambushed by nine armed men on your way from
[the] Licomo to [the] Talaga Foot Bridge. [W]hat do you mean by ambushed?
A I mean that they blocked our way and stopped.
Q They did not fire any shots?
A But they were pointing their guns at us.
Q And among the 9 armed men who held you on your way to [the] Talaga Footbridge,
you stated [that] one of them [was] Commander Falcasantos?
A Yes.
Q Could you also recognize anyone of the accused in that group?
A Yes.
Q Will you please identify?
A That one, Tangkong. (The witness pointed to a man sitting in court who identified
himself as Jailon Kulais.)
xxxxxxxxx
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY ATTY. FABIAN
Q You said Jailon Kulais was among those who guarded the camp?
FISCAL CAJAYON:
Your Honor, please, he does not know the name of Julais, he used the word Tangkong.
ATTY. FABIAN
Q You said Tangkong guarded you[. W]hat do you mean?
A He guarded us like prisoners[. A]fter guarding us they have their time two hours
another will be on duty guarding us.
Q Where did you meet Tangkong?
A He was one of the armed men who kidnapped us.
x x x x x x x x x[21]
It is evident from the foregoing testimonies of Calunod, Bacarro and Perez that
kidnapping or detention did take place: the five victims were held, against their will, for
fifty-three days from December 12, 1988 to February 2, 1989. It is also evident that
Appellant Kulais was a member of the group of armed men who staged the kidnapping,
and that he was one of those who guarded the victims during the entire period of their
captivity. His participation gives credence to the conclusion of the trial court that he was
a conspirator.

Kidnapping
for Ransom
That the kidnapping of the five was committed for the purpose of extorting ransom is also
apparent from the testimony of Calunod, who was quite emphatic in identifying the
accused and narrating the circumstances surrounding the writing of the ransom letters.
CP CAJAYON D MS:
Q Now, you were in their captivity for 54 days and you said there were these meetings for
possible negotiation with the City Government. What do you mean by this? What were
you supposed to negotiate?
A Because they told us that they will be releasing us only after the terms.[22]
Q And what were the terms? Did you come to know the terms?
A I came to know the terms because I was the one ordered by Commander Falcasantos to
write the letter, the ransom letter.
Q At this point of time, you remember how many letters were you asked to write for your
ransom?
A I could not remember as to how many, but I can identify them.
Q Why will you able to identify the same?
A Because I was the one who wrote it.
Q And you are familiar, of course, with your penmanship?
A Yes.
Q Now we have here some letters which were turned over to us by the Honorable City
Mayor Vitaliano Agan. 1,2,3,4,5 - there are five letters all handwritten.
COURT:
Original?
CP CAJAYON D MS:
Original, your Honor.
Q And we would like you to go over these and say, tell us if any of these were the ones
you were asked to write.
A (Witness going over [letters])
This one - 2 pages. This one - 2 pages. No more.
Q Aside from the fact that you identified your penmanship in these letters, what else will
make you remember that these are really the ones you wrote while there?
A The signature is there.
Q There is a printed name here[,] Jessica Calunod.
A And over it is a signature.
Q That is your signature?
A Yes, maam.

Q How about in the other letter, did you sign it also?


A Yes, there is the other signature.
Q There are names - other names here - Eddie Perez, Allan Basa, Armando Bacarro, Felix
Rosario, Jojie Ortuoste and there are signatures above the same. Did you come up to
know who signed this one?
A Those whose signatures there were signed by the persons. [sic]
Q And we have here at the bottom, Commander Kamlon Hassan, and there is the
signature above the same. Did you come to know who signed it?
A [It was] Commander Kamlon Hassan who signed that.
xxxxxxxxx
Q Jessica, I am going over this letter ... Could you please read to us the portion here
which says the terms? ...
A (Witness reading) Mao ilang gusto nga andamun na ninyo and kantidad nga P100,000
ug P14,000 baylo sa 20 sets nga uniforms sa Biyernes (Pebrero 3, 1989).[23]
xxxxxxxxx
INTERPRETER (Translation):
This is what they like you to prepare[:] the amount of P100,000.00 and P14,000.00 in
exchange [for] 20 sets of uniform on Friday, February 3, 1989.
xxxxxxxxx
Q Now you also earlier identified this other letter and this is dated January 21, 1988.[24]
Now, could you please explain to us why it is dated January 21 1988 and the other one
Enero 31, 1989 or January 31, 1989?
A I did not realize that I placed 1989, 1988, but it was 1989.
Q January 21, 1989?
A Yes
xxxxxxxxx
Q Now, in this letter, were the terms also mentioned? Please go over this.
A (Going over the letter)
Yes, maam.
Q Could you please read it aloud to us?
A (Witness reading)
Gusto nila and P100,000.00 ng kapinan nu ug 20 sets nga completong uniformer (7
colors marine type wala nay labot ang sapatos), tunga medium ug tunga large size.[25]
xxxxxxxxx
INTERPRETER:
They like the P100,000.00 and an addition of 20 sets of complete uniform (7 colors,
marine-type not including the shoes), one half medium, one half large.

xxxxxxxxx
Q After having written these letters, did you come to know after [they were] signed by
your companions and all of you, do you know if these letters were sent? If you know
only.
A I would like to make it clear. The first letter was ordered to me by Falcasantos to
inform the City Mayor that initial as P500,000.00, and when we were already - I was
asked again to write, we were ordered to affix our signature to serve as proof that all of us
are alive.[26] [sic]
Calunods testimony was substantially corroborated by both Armando Bacarro[27] and
Edilberto Perez.[28] The receipt of the ransom letters, the efforts made to raise and
deliver the ransom, and the release of the hostages upon payment of the money were
testified to by Zamboanga City Mayor Vitaliano Agan[29] and Teddy Mejia.[30]
The elements of kidnapping for ransom, as embodied in Article 267 of the Revised Penal
Code,[31] having been sufficiently proven, and the appellant, a private individual, having
been clearly identified by the kidnap victims, this Court thus affirms the trial courts
finding of appellants guilt on five counts of kidnapping for ransom.
Kidnapping of
Public Officers
Victims Virginia San Agustin-Gara, Monico Saavedra and Calixto Francisco were
members of the government monitoring team abducted by appellants group. The three
testified to the fact of kidnapping; however, they were not able to identify the appellant.
Even so, appellants identity as one of the kidnappers was sufficiently established by
Calunod, Bacarro and Perez, who were with Gara, Saavedra and Francisco when the
abduction occurred.
That Gara, Saavedra and Francisco were detained for only three hours[32] does not
matter. In People vs. Domasian,[33] the victim was similarly held for three hours, and
was released even before his parents received the ransom note. The accused therein
argued that they could not be held guilty of kidnapping as no enclosure was involved, and
that only grave coercion was committed, if at all.[34] Convicting appellants of
kidnapping or serious illegal detention under Art. 267 (4) of the Revised Penal Code, the
Court found that the victim, an eight-year-old boy, was deprived of his liberty when he
was restrained from going home. The Court justified the conviction by holding that the
offense consisted not only in placing a person in an enclosure, but also in detaining or
depriving him, in any manner, of his liberty.[35] Likewise, in People vs. Santos,[36] the
Court held that since the appellant was charged and convicted under Article 267,
paragraph 4, it was not the duration of the deprivation of liberty which was important,
but the fact that the victim, a minor, was locked up.
Thus, in the present case, the detention of Gara, Saavedra and Francisco for only a few
hours is immaterial. The clear fact is that the victims were public officers[37] -- Gara was
a fiscal analyst for the City of Zamboanga, Saavedra worked at the City Engineers
Office, and Francisco was a barangay councilman at the time the kidnapping occurred.
Appellant Kulais should be punished, therefore, under Article 267, paragraph 4 of the
Revised Penal Code, and not Art. 268, as the trial court held.

The present case is different from People vs. Astorga,[38] which held that the crime
committed was not kidnapping under Article 267, paragraph 4, but only grave coercion.
The appellant in that case had tricked his seven-year-old victim into going with him to a
place he alone knew. His plans, however, were foiled, when a group of people became
suspicious and rescued the girl from him. The Court noted that the victims testimony and
the other pieces of evidence did not indicate that the appellant wanted to detain her, or
that he actually detained her.
In the present case, the evidence presented by the prosecution indubitably established that
the victims were detained, albeit for a few hours. There is proof beyond reasonable doubt
that kidnapping took place, and that appellant was a member of the armed group which
abducted the victims.
Third Issue:
Denial and Alibi
The appellants bare denial is a weak defense that becomes even weaker in the face of the
prosecution witnesses positive identification of him. Jurisprudence gives greater weight
to the positive narration of prosecution witnesses than to the negative testimonies of the
defense.[39] Between positive and categorical testimony which has a ring of truth to it on
the one hand, and a bare denial on the other, the former generally prevails.[40] Jessica
Calunod, Armando Bacarro and Edilberto Perez testified in a clear, straightforward and
frank manner; and their testimonies were compatible on material points. Moreover, no ill
motive was attributed to the kidnap victims and none was found by this Court.
We agree with the trial courts observation that the appellant did not meet the charges
against him head on. His testimony dwelt on what happened to him on the day he was
arrested and on subsequent days thereafter. Appellant did not explain where he was
during the questioned dates (December 12, 1988 to February 3, 1989); neither did he
rebut Calunod, Bacarro and Perez, when they identified him as one of their kidnappers.
Reclusion Perpetua, Not Life Imprisonment
The trial court erred when it sentenced the appellant to six terms of life imprisonment.
The penalty for kidnapping with ransom, under the Revised Penal Code, is reclusion
perpetua to death. Since the crimes happened in 1988, when the capital penalty was
proscribed by the Constitution, the maximum penalty that could have been imposed was
reclusion perpetua. Life imprisonment is not synonymous with reclusion perpetua.
Unlike life imprisonment, reclusion perpetua carries with it accessory penalties provided
in the Revised Penal Code and has a definite extent or duration. Life imprisonment is
invariably imposed for serious offenses penalized by special laws, while reclusion
perpetua is prescribed in accordance with the Revised Penal Code.[41]
WHEREFORE, the conviction of Appellant Jailon Kulais as principal in five counts of
kidnapping for ransom and in three counts of kidnapping is AFFIRMED, but the penalty
imposed is hereby MODIFIED as follows: Appellant is sentenced to five terms of
reclusion perpetua, one for each of his five convictions for kidnapping for ransom; and to
three terms of reclusion perpetua, one each for the kidnapping of Public Officers Virginia
Gara, Monico Saavedra and Calixto Francisco. Like the other accused who withdrew
their appeals, he is REQUIRED to return the personal effects, or their monetary value,
taken from the kidnap victims. Additionally, he is ORDERED to pay the amount of

P122,000 representing the ransom money paid to the kidnappers. Costs against appellant.
SO ORDERED.
Davide,Jr., (Chairman), Bellosillo, Vitug, and Quisumbing, JJ., concur.
SECOND DIVISION
[G.R. No. 114776. February 2, 2000]
MENANDRO B. LAUREANO, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS AND
SINGAPORE AIRLINES LIMITED, respondents.
DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:
This petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeks to
reverse the Decision of the Court of Appeals, dated October 29, 1993, in C.A. G.R. No.
CV 34476, as well as its Resolution dated February 28, 1994, which denied the motion
for reconsideration.
The facts of the case as summarized by the respondent appellate court are as follows:
"Sometime in 1978, plaintiff [Menandro B. Laureano, herein petitioner], then Director of
Flight Operations and Chief Pilot of Air Manila, applied for employment with defendant
company [herein private respondent] through its Area Manager in Manila.
On September 30, 1978, after the usual personal interview, defendant wrote to plaintiff,
offering a contract of employment as an expatriate B-707 captain for an original period of
two (2) years commencing on January 21, 1978, Plaintiff accepted the offer and
commenced working on January 20, 1979. After passing the six-month probation period,
plaintiff's appointment was confirmed effective July 21, 1979. (Annex "B", p. 30, Rollo).
On July 21, 1979, defendant offered plaintiff an extension of his two-year contract to five
(5) years effective January 21, 1979 to January 20, 1984 subject to the terms and
conditions set forth in the contract of employment, which the latter accepted (Annex "C",
p. 31, Rec.).
During his service as B-707 captain, plaintiff on August 24, 1980, while in command of a
flight, committed a noise violation offense at the Zurich Airport, for which plaintiff
apologized. (Exh. "3", p. 307, Rec.).
Sometime in 1980, plaintiff featured in a tail scraping incident wherein the tail of the
aircraft scraped or touched the runway during landing. He was suspended for a few days
until he was investigated by a board headed by Capt. Choy. He was reprimanded. Scjuris
On September 25, 1981, plaintiff was invited to take a course of A-300 conversion
training at Aeroformacion, Toulouse, France at defendant's expense. Having successfully
completed and passed the training course, plaintiff was cleared on April 7, 1981 for solo
duty as captain of the Airbus A-300 and subsequently appointed as captain of the A-300
fleet commanding an Airbus A-300 in flights over Southeast Asia. (Annexes "D", "E" and
"F", pp. 34-38, Rec.).
Sometime in 1982, defendant, hit by a recession, initiated cost-cutting measures.
Seventeen (17) expatriate captains in the Airbus fleet were found in excess of the
defendant's requirement (t.s.n., July 6, 1988. p. 11). Consequently, defendant informed its

expatriate pilots including plaintiff of the situation and advised them to take advance
leaves. (Exh. "15", p. 466, Rec.).
Realizing that the recession would not be for a short time, defendant decided to terminate
its excess personnel (t.s.n., July 6, 1988, p. 17). It did not, however, immediately
terminate it's A-300 pilots. It reviewed their qualifications for possible promotion to the
B-747 fleet. Among the 17 excess Airbus pilots reviewed, twelve were found qualified.
Unfortunately, plaintiff was not one of the twelve. Jurissc
On October 5, 1982, defendant informed plaintiff of his termination effective November
1, 1982 and that he will be paid three (3) months salary in lieu of three months notice
(Annex "I", pp. 41-42, Rec.). Because he could not uproot his family on such short
notice, plaintiff requested a three-month notice to afford him time to exhaust all possible
avenues for reconsideration and retention. Defendant gave only two (2) months notice
and one (1) month salary. (t.s.n., Nov. 12, 1987. p. 25).
Aggrieved, plaintiff on June 29, 1983, instituted a case for illegal dismissal before the
Labor Arbiter. Defendant moved to dismiss on jurisdictional grounds. Before said motion
was resolved, the complaint was withdrawn. Thereafter, plaintiff filed the instant case for
damages due to illegal termination of contract of services before the court a quo
(Complaint, pp. 1-10, Rec.).
Again, defendant on February 11, 1987 filed a motion to dismiss alleging inter alia: (1)
that the court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter of the case, and (2) that
Philippine courts have no jurisdiction over the instant case. Defendant contends that the
complaint is for illegal dismissal together with a money claim arising out of and in the
course of plaintiff's employment "thus it is the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC who have the
jurisdiction pursuant to Article 217 of the Labor Code" and that, since plaintiff was
employed in Singapore, all other aspects of his employment contract and/or documents
executed in Singapore. Thus, defendant postulates that Singapore laws should apply and
courts thereat shall have jurisdiction. (pp. 50-69, Rec.). Misjuris
In traversing defendant's arguments, plaintiff claimed that: (1) where the items demanded
in a complaint are the natural consequences flowing from a breach of an obligation and
not labor benefits, the case is intrinsically a civil dispute; (2) the case involves a question
that is beyond the field of specialization of labor arbiters; and (3) if the complaint is
grounded not on the employee's dismissal per se but on the manner of said dismissal and
the consequence thereof, the case falls under the jurisdiction of the civil courts. (pp. 7073, Rec.)
On March 23, 1987, the court a quo denied defendant's motion to dismiss (pp. 82-84,
Ibid). The motion for reconsideration was likewise denied. (p. 95 ibid)
On September 16, 1987, defendant filed its answer reiterating the grounds relied upon in
its motion to dismiss and further arguing that plaintiff is barred by laches, waiver, and
estoppel from instituting the complaint and that he has no cause of action. (pp. 102115)"[1]
On April 10, 1991, the trial court handed down its decision in favor of plaintiff. The
dispositive portion of which reads:
"WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of plaintiff Menandro Laureano

and against defendant Singapore Airlines Limited, ordering defendant to pay plaintiff the
amounts of SIN$396,104.00, or its equivalent in Philippine currency at the current rate of exchange
at the time of payment, as and for unearned compensation with legal interest from the
filing of the complaint until fully paid; Jjlex
SIN$154,742.00, or its equivalent in Philippine currency at the current rate of exchange
at the time of payment; and the further amounts of P67,500.00 as consequential damages
with legal interest from the filing of the complaint until fully paid;
P1,000,000.00 as and for moral damages; P1,000,000.00 as and for exemplary damages;
and P100,000.00 as and for attorney's fees.
Costs against defendant.
SO ORDERED."[2]
Singapore Airlines timely appealed before the respondent court and raised the issues of
jurisdiction, validity of termination, estoppel, and damages.
On October 29, 1993, the appellate court set aside the decision of the trial court, thus,
"...In the instant case, the action for damages due to illegal termination was filed by
plaintiff-appellee only on January 8, 1987 or more than four (4) years after the effectivity
date of his dismissal on November 1, 1982. Clearly, plaintiff-appellee's action has already
prescribed.
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The
complaint is hereby dismissed.
SO ORDERED."[3] Newmiso
Petitioner's and Singapore Airlines' respective motions for reconsideration were denied.
Now, before the Court, petitioner poses the following queries:
1. IS THE PRESENT ACTION ONE BASED ON CONTRACT WHICH PRESCRIBES
IN TEN YEARS UNDER ARTICLE 1144 OF THE NEW CIVIL CODE OR ONE FOR
DAMAGES ARISING FROM AN INJURY TO THE RIGHTS OF THE PLAINTIFF
WHICH PRESCRIBES IN FOUR YEARS UNDER ARTICLE 1146 OF THE NEW
CIVIL CODE?
2. CAN AN EMPLOYEE WITH A FIXED PERIOD OF EMPLOYMENT BE
RETRENCHED BY HIS EMPLOYER?
3. CAN THERE BE VALID RETRENCHMENT IF AN EMPLOYER MERELY FAILS
TO REALIZE THE EXPECTED PROFITS EVEN IF IT WERE NOT, IN FACT,
INCURRING LOSSES?
At the outset, we find it necessary to state our concurrence on the assumption of
jurisdiction by the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 9. The trial court rightly ruled
on the application of Philippine law, thus: Acctmis
"Neither can the Court determine whether the termination of the plaintiff is legal under
the Singapore Laws because of the defendant's failure to show which specific laws of
Singapore Laws apply to this case. As substantially discussed in the preceding

paragraphs, the Philippine Courts do not take judicial notice of the laws of Singapore.
The defendant that claims the applicability of the Singapore Laws to this case has the
burden of proof. The defendant has failed to do so. Therefore, the Philippine law should
be applied."[4]
Respondent Court of Appeals acquired jurisdiction when defendant filed its appeal before
said court.[5] On this matter, respondent court was correct when it barred defendantappellant below from raising further the issue of jurisdiction.[6]
Petitioner now raises the issue of whether his action is one based on Article 1144 or on
Article 1146 of the Civil Code. According to him, his termination of employment
effective November 1, 1982, was based on an employment contract which is under
Article 1144, so his action should prescribe in 10 years as provided for in said article.
Thus he claims the ruling of the appellate court based on Article 1146 where prescription
is only four (4) years, is an error. The appellate court concluded that the action for illegal
dismissal originally filed before the Labor Arbiter on June 29, 1983, but which was
withdrawn, then filed again in 1987 before the Regional Trial Court, had already
prescribed.
In our view, neither Article 1144[7] nor Article 1146[8] of the Civil Code is here
pertinent. What is applicable is Article 291 of the Labor Code, viz:
"Article 291. Money claims. - All money claims arising from employee-employer
relations accruing during the effectivity of this Code shall be filed within three (3) years
from the time the cause of action accrued; otherwise they shall be forever barred.
x x x" Misact
What rules on prescription should apply in cases like this one has long been decided by
this Court. In illegal dismissal, it is settled, that the ten-year prescriptive period fixed in
Article 1144 of the Civil Code may not be invoked by petitioners, for the Civil Code is a
law of general application, while the prescriptive period fixed in Article 292 of the Labor
Code [now Article 291] is a SPECIAL LAW applicable to claims arising from employeeemployer relations.[9]
More recently in De Guzman. vs. Court of Appeals,[10] where the money claim was
based on a written contract, the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Court held:
"...The language of Art. 291 of the Labor Code does not limit its application only to
'money claims specifically recoverable under said Code' but covers all money claims
arising from an employee-employer relations" (Citing Cadalin v. POEA Administrator,
238 SCRA 721, 764 [1994]; and Uy v. National Labor Relations Commission, 261 SCRA
505, 515 [1996]). ...
It should be noted further that Article 291 of the Labor Code is a special law applicable to
money claims arising from employer-employee relations; thus, it necessarily prevails
over Article 1144 of the Civil Code, a general law. Basic is the rule in statutory
construction that 'where two statutes are of equal theoretical application to a particular
case, the one designed therefore should prevail.' (Citing Leveriza v. Intermediate
Appellate Court, 157 SCRA 282, 294.) Generalia specialibus non derogant."[11]
In the light of Article 291, aforecited, we agree with the appellate court's conclusion that
petitioner's action for damages due to illegal termination filed again on January 8, 1987

or more than four (4) years after the effective date of his dismissal on November 1, 1982
has already prescribed.
"In the instant case, the action for damages due to illegal termination was filed by
plaintiff-appellee only on January 8, 1987 or more than four (4) years after the effectivity
date of his dismissal on November 1, 1982. Clearly, plaintiff-appellee's action has already
prescribed."
We base our conclusion not on Article 1144 of the Civil Code but on Article 291 of the
Labor Code, which sets the prescription period at three (3) years and which governs
under this jurisdiction.
Petitioner claims that the running of the prescriptive period was tolled when he filed his
complaint for illegal dismissal before the Labor Arbiter of the National Labor Relations
Commission. However, this claim deserves scant consideration; it has no legal leg to
stand on. In Olympia International, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, we held that "although the
commencement of a civil action stops the running of the statute of prescription or
limitations, its dismissal or voluntary abandonment by plaintiff leaves the parties in
exactly the same position as though no action had been commenced at all."[12]
Now, as to whether petitioner's separation from the company due to retrenchment was
valid, the appellate court found that the employment contract of petitioner allowed for
pre-termination of employment. We agree with the Court of Appeals when it said, Sdjad
"It is a settled rule that contracts have the force of law between the parties. From the
moment the same is perfected, the parties are bound not only to the fulfillment of what
has been expressly stipulated but also to all consequences which, according to their
nature, may be in keeping with good faith, usage and law. Thus, when plaintiff-appellee
accepted the offer of employment, he was bound by the terms and conditions set forth in
the contract, among others, the right of mutual termination by giving three months
written notice or by payment of three months salary. Such provision is clear and readily
understandable, hence, there is no room for interpretation."
xxx
Further, plaintiff-appellee's contention that he is not bound by the provisions of the
Agreement, as he is not a signatory thereto, deserves no merit. It must be noted that when
plaintiff-appellee's employment was confirmed, he applied for membership with the
Singapore Airlines Limited (Pilots) Association, the signatory to the aforementioned
Agreement. As such, plaintiff-appellee is estopped from questioning the legality of the
said agreement or any proviso contained therein."[13]
Moreover, the records of the present case clearly show that respondent court's decision is
amply supported by evidence and it did not err in its findings, including the reason for the
retrenchment:
"When defendant-appellant was faced with the world-wide recession of the airline
industry resulting in a slow down in the company's growth particularly in the regional
operation (Asian Area) where the Airbus 300 operates. It had no choice but to adopt cost
cutting measures, such as cutting down services, number of frequencies of flights, and
reduction of the number of flying points for the A-300 fleet (t.s.n., July 6, 1988, pp. 1718). As a result, defendant-appellant had to layoff A-300 pilots, including plaintiff-

appellee, which it found to be in excess of what is reasonably needed."[14]


All these considered, we find sufficient factual and legal basis to conclude that
petitioner's termination from employment was for an authorized cause, for which he was
given ample notice and opportunity to be heard, by respondent company. No error nor
grave abuse of discretion, therefore, could be attributed to respondent appellate court.
Sppedsc
ACCORDINGLY, the instant petition is DISMISSED. The decision of the Court of
Appeals in C.A. CV No. 34476 is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
[G.R. No. 143276. July 20, 2004]
LANDBANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. SPOUSES VICENTE BANAL and
LEONIDAS ARENAS-BANAL, respondents.
DECISION
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:
Spouses Vicente and Leonidas Banal, respondents, are the registered owners of 19.3422
hectares of agricultural land situated in San Felipe, Basud, Camarines Norte covered by
Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-6296. A portion of the land consisting of 6.2330
hectares (5.4730 of which is planted to coconut and 0.7600 planted to palay) was
compulsorily acquired by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) pursuant to
Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6657,[1] as amended, otherwise known as the Comprehensive
Agrarian Reform Law of 1988.
In accordance with the formula prescribed in DAR Administrative Order No. 6, Series of
1992,[2] as amended by DAR Administrative Order No. 11, Series of 1994,[3] the Land
Bank of the Philippines[4] (Landbank), petitioner, made the following valuation of the
property:
Acquired property Area in hectares Value
Coconut land 5.4730 P148,675.19
Riceland 0.7600 25,243.36
==========
P173,918.55
Respondents rejected the above valuation. Thus, pursuant to Section 16(d) of R.A. 6657,
as amended, a summary administrative proceeding was conducted before the Provincial
Agrarian Reform Adjudicator (PARAD) to determine the valuation of the land.
Eventually, the PARAD rendered its Decision affirming the Landbanks valuation.
Dissatisfied with the Decision of the PARAD, respondents filed with the Regional Trial
Court (RTC), Branch 40, Daet, Camarines Norte, designated as a Special Agrarian Court,
a petition for determination of just compensation, docketed as Civil Case No. 6806.
Impleaded as respondents were the DAR and the Landbank. Petitioners therein prayed for
a compensation of P100,000.00 per hectare for both coconut land and riceland, or an
aggregate amount of P623,000.00.

During the pre-trial on September 23, 1998, the parties submitted to the RTC the
following admissions of facts: (1) the subject property is governed by the provisions of
R.A. 6657, as amended; (2) it was distributed to the farmers-beneficiaries; and (3) the
Landbank deposited the provisional compensation based on the valuation made by the
DAR.[5]
On the same day after the pre-trial, the court issued an Order dispensing with the hearing
and directing the parties to submit their respective memoranda.[6]
In its Decision dated February 5, 1999, the trial court computed the just compensation for
the coconut land at P657,137.00 and for the riceland at P46,000.00, or a total of
P703,137.00, which is beyond respondents valuation of P623,000.00. The court further
awarded compounded interest at P79,732.00 in cash. The dispositive portion of the
Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:
1. Ordering respondent Landbank to pay the petitioners, the spouses Dr. Vicente Banal
and Leonidas Arenas-Banal, for the 5.4730 hectares of coconut land the sum of SIX
HUNDRED FIFTY-SEVEN THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED THIRTY-SEVEN PESOS
(P657,137.00) in cash and in bonds in the proportion provided by law;
2. Ordering respondent Landbank to pay the petitioners for the .7600 hectares of riceland
the sum of FORTY-SIX THOUSAND PESOS (P46,000.00) in cash and in bonds in the
proportion provided by law; and
3. Ordering respondent Landbank to pay the petitioners the sum of SEVENTY-NINE
THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED THIRTY-TWO PESOS (P79,732.00) as the
compounded interest in cash.
IT IS SO ORDERED.[7]
In determining the valuation of the land, the trial court based the same on the facts
established in another case pending before it (Civil Case No. 6679, Luz Rodriguez vs.
DAR, et al.), using the following formula:
For the coconut land
1. Average Gross Production (AGP) x .70 x 9.70 (price per kilo of coconut) = Net Income
(NI)
2. NI / 6% = Price Per Hectare (PPH) (applying the capitalization formula under Republic
Act No. 3844[8])
For the riceland
1. 2.5 x AGP x Government Support Price (GSP) = Land Value (LV) or PPH (using the
formula under Executive Order No. 228[9])
2. AGP x 6% compounded annually for 26 years x GSP = Interest (pursuant to DAR AO
No. 13, Series of 1994)
Forthwith, the Landbank filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for review, docketed
as CA-G.R. SP No. 52163.
On March 20, 2000, the Appellate Court rendered a Decision[10] affirming in toto the
judgment of the trial court. The Landbanks motion for reconsideration was likewise

denied.[11]
Hence, this petition for review on certiorari.
The fundamental issue for our resolution is whether the Court of Appeals erred in
sustaining the trial courts valuation of the land. As earlier mentioned, there was no trial
on the merits.
To begin with, under Section 1 of Executive Order No. 405 (1990), the Landbank is
charged primarily with the determination of the land valuation and compensation for
all private lands suitable for agriculture under the Voluntary Offer to Sell or Compulsory
Acquisition arrangement For its part, the DAR relies on the determination of the land
valuation and compensation by the Landbank.[12]
Based on the Landbanks valuation of the land, the DAR makes an offer to the landowner.
[13] If the landowner accepts the offer, the Landbank shall pay him the purchase price of
the land after he executes and delivers a deed of transfer and surrenders the certificate of
title in favor of the government.[14] In case the landowner rejects the offer or fails to
reply thereto, the DAR adjudicator[15] conducts summary administrative proceedings to
determine the compensation for the land by requiring the landowner, the Landbank and
other interested parties to submit evidence as to the just compensation for the land.[16]
These functions by the DAR are in accordance with its quasi-judicial powers under
Section 50 of R.A. 6657, as amended, which provides:
SEC. 50. Quasi-Judicial Powers of the DAR. The DAR is hereby vested with primary
jurisdiction to determine and adjudicate agrarian reform matters and shall have exclusive
original jurisdiction over all matters involving the implementation of agrarian reform,
except those falling under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture
(DA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
x x x.
A party who disagrees with the decision of the DAR adjudicator may bring the matter to
the RTC designated as a Special Agrarian Court[17] for final determination of just
compensation.[18]
In the proceedings before the RTC, it is mandated to apply the Rules of Court[19] and, on
its own initiative or at the instance of any of the parties, appoint one or more
commissioners to examine, investigate and ascertain facts relevant to the dispute,
including the valuation of properties, and to file a written report thereof x x x.[20] In
determining just compensation, the RTC is required to consider several factors
enumerated in Section 17 of R.A. 6657, as amended, thus:
Sec. 17. Determination of Just Compensation. In determining just compensation, the
cost of acquisition of the land, the current value of like properties, its nature, actual use
and income, the sworn valuation by the owner, the tax declarations, and the assessment
made by government assessors shall be considered. The social and economic benefits
contributed by the farmers and the farmworkers and by the Government to the property,
as well as the non-payment of taxes or loans secured from any government financing
institution on the said land, shall be considered as additional factors to determine its
valuation.
These factors have been translated into a basic formula in DAR Administrative Order No.

6, Series of 1992, as amended by DAR Administrative Order No. 11, Series of 1994,
issued pursuant to the DARs rule-making power to carry out the object and purposes of
R.A. 6657, as amended.[21]
The formula stated in DAR Administrative Order No. 6, as amended, is as follows:
LV = (CNI x 0.6) + (CS x 0.3) + (MV x 0.1)
LV = Land Value
CNI = Capitalized Net Income
CS = Comparable Sales
MV = Market Value per Tax Declaration
The above formula shall be used if all the three factors are present, relevant and
applicable.
A.1 When the CS factor is not present and CNI and MV are applicable, the formula shall
be:
LV = (CNI x 0.9) + (MV x 0.1)
A.2 When the CNI factor is not present, and CS and MV are applicable, the formula shall
be:
LV = (CS x 0.9) + (MV x 0.1)
A.3 When both the CS and CNI are not present and only MV is applicable, the formula
shall be:
LV = MV x 2
Here, the RTC failed to observe the basic rules of procedure and the fundamental
requirements in determining just compensation for the property. Firstly, it dispensed with
the hearing and merely ordered the parties to submit their respective memoranda. Such
action is grossly erroneous since the determination of just compensation involves the
examination of the following factors specified in Section 17 of R.A. 6657, as amended:
1. the cost of the acquisition of the land;
2. the current value of like properties;
3. its nature, actual use and income;
4. the sworn valuation by the owner; the tax declarations;
5. the assessment made by government assessors;
6. the social and economic benefits contributed by the farmers and the farmworkers and
by the government to the property; and
7. the non-payment of taxes or loans secured from any government financing institution
on the said land, if any.
Obviously, these factors involve factual matters which can be established only during a
hearing wherein the contending parties present their respective evidence. In fact, to
underscore the intricate nature of determining the valuation of the land, Section 58 of the
same law even authorizes the Special Agrarian Courts to appoint commissioners for such

purpose.
Secondly, the RTC, in concluding that the valuation of respondents property is
P703,137.00, merely took judicial notice of the average production figures in the
Rodriguez case pending before it and applied the same to this case without conducting a
hearing and worse, without the knowledge or consent of the parties, thus:
x x x. In the case x x x of the coconut portion of the land 5.4730 hectares, defendants
determined the average gross production per year at 506.95 kilos only, but in the very
recent case of Luz Rodriguez vs. DAR, et al., filed and decided by this court in Civil
Case No. 6679 also for just compensation for coconut lands and Riceland situated at
Basud, Camarines Norte wherein also the lands in the above-entitled case are situated, the
value fixed therein was 1,061.52 kilos per annum per hectare for coconut land and the
price per kilo is P8.82, but in the instant case the price per kilo is P9.70. In the present
case, we consider 506.95 kilos average gross production per year per hectare to be very
low considering that farm practice for coconut lands is harvest every forty-five days. We
cannot also comprehended why in the Rodriguez case and in this case there is a great
variance in average production per year when in the two cases the lands are both coconut
lands and in the same place of Basud, Camarines Norte. We believe that it is more fair to
adapt the 1,061.52 kilos per hectare per year as average gross production. In the
Rodriguez case, the defendants fixed the average gross production of palay at 3,000 kilos
or 60 cavans per year. The court is also constrained to apply this yearly palay production
in the Rodriguez case to the case at bar.
xxxxxxxxx
As shown in the Memorandum of Landbank in this case, the area of the coconut land
taken under CARP is 5.4730 hectares. But as already noted, the average gross production
a year of 506.96 kilos per hectare fixed by Landbank is too low as compared to the
Rodriguez case which was 1,061 kilos when the coconut land in both cases are in the
same town of Basud, Camarines Norte, compelling this court then to adapt 1,061 kilos as
the average gross production a year of the coconut land in this case. We have to apply
also the price of P9.70 per kilo as this is the value that Landbank fixed for this case.
The net income of the coconut land is equal to 70% of the gross income. So, the net
income of the coconut land is 1,061 x .70 x 9.70 equals P7,204.19 per hectare. Applying
the capitalization formula of R.A. 3844 to the net income of P7,204.19 divided by 6%,
the legal rate of interest, equals P120,069.00 per hectare. Therefore, the just
compensation for the 5.4730 hectares is P657,137.00.
The Riceland taken under Presidential Decree No. 27 as of October 21, 1972 has an area
of .7600 hectare. If in the Rodriguez case the Landbank fixed the average gross
production of 3000 kilos or 60 cavans of palay per year, then the .7600 hectare in this
case would be 46 cavans. The value of the riceland therefore in this case is 46 cavans x
2.5 x P400.00 equals P46,000.00.[22]
PARC Resolution 94-24-1 of 25 October 1994, implemented by DAR AO 13, granted
interest on the compensation at 6% compounded annually. The compounded interest on
the 46 cavans for 26 years is 199.33 cavans. At P400.00 per cavan, the value of the
compounded interest is P79,732.00.[23] (emphasis added)
Well-settled is the rule that courts are not authorized to take judicial notice of the contents

of the records of other cases even when said cases have been tried or are pending in the
same court or before the same judge.[24] They may only do so in the absence of
objection and with the knowledge of the opposing party,[25] which are not obtaining
here.
Furthermore, as earlier stated, the Rules of Court shall apply to all proceedings before the
Special Agrarian Courts. In this regard, Section 3, Rule 129 of the Revised Rules on
Evidence is explicit on the necessity of a hearing before a court takes judicial notice of a
certain matter, thus:
SEC. 3. Judicial notice, when hearing necessary. During the trial, the court, on its own
initiative, or on request of a party, may announce its intention to take judicial notice of
any matter and allow the parties to be heard thereon.
After the trial, and before judgment or on appeal, the proper court, on its own initiative
or on request of a party, may take judicial notice of any matter and allow the parties to be
heard thereon if such matter is decisive of a material issue in the case. (emphasis added)
The RTC failed to observe the above provisions.
Lastly, the RTC erred in applying the formula prescribed under Executive Order (EO)
No. 228[26] and R.A. No. 3844,[27] as amended, in determining the valuation of the
property; and in granting compounded interest pursuant to DAR Administrative Order
No. 13, Series of 1994.[28] It must be stressed that EO No. 228 covers private
agricultural lands primarily devoted to rice and corn, while R.A. 3844 governs
agricultural leasehold relation between the person who furnishes the landholding, either
as owner, civil law lessee, usufructuary, or legal possessor, and the person who personally
cultivates the same.[29] Here, the land is planted to coconut and rice and does not
involve agricultural leasehold relation. What the trial court should have applied is the
formula in DAR Administrative Order No. 6, as amended by DAR Administrative Order
No. 11 discussed earlier.
As regards the award of compounded interest, suffice it to state that DAR Administrative
Order No. 13, Series of 1994 does not apply to the subject land but to those lands taken
under Presidential Decree No. 27[30] and Executive Order No. 228 whose owners have
not been compensated. In this case, the property is covered by R.A. 6657, as amended,
and respondents have been paid the provisional compensation thereof, as stipulated
during the pre-trial.
While the determination of just compensation involves the exercise of judicial discretion,
however, such discretion must be discharged within the bounds of the law. Here, the RTC
wantonly disregarded R.A. 6657, as amended, and its implementing rules and regulations.
(DAR Administrative Order No. 6, as amended by DAR Administrative Order No.11).
In sum, we find that the Court of Appeals and the RTC erred in determining the valuation
of the subject land. Thus, we deem it proper to remand this case to the RTC for trial on
the merits wherein the parties may present their respective evidence. In determining the
valuation of the subject property, the trial court shall consider the factors provided under
Section 17 of R.A. 6657, as amended, mentioned earlier. The formula prescribed by the
DAR in Administrative Order No. 6, Series of 1992, as amended by DAR Administrative
Order No. 11, Series of 1994, shall be used in the valuation of the land. Furthermore,
upon its own initiative, or at the instance of any of the parties, the trial court may appoint

one or more commissioners to examine, investigate and ascertain facts relevant to the
dispute.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals
dated March 20, 2000 in CA-G.R. SP No. 52163 is REVERSED. Civil Case No. 6806 is
REMANDED to the RTC, Branch 40, Daet, Camarines Norte, for trial on the merits with
dispatch. The trial judge is directed to observe strictly the procedures specified above in
determining the proper valuation of the subject property.
SO ORDERED.
Panganiban, (Chairman), and Carpio-Morales, JJ., concur.
Corona, J., on leave.
G.R. No. 49549 August 30, 1990
EVELYN CHUA-QUA, petitioner,
vs.
HON. JACOBO C. CLAVE, in his capacity as Presidential Executive
Assistant, and TAY TUNG HIGH SCHOOL, INC., respondents.
William C. Gunitang and Jaime Opinion for petitioner.
Laogan Law Offices for private respondent.
REGALADO, J.:
This would have been just another illegal dismissal case were it not for the controversial and unique
situation that the marriage of herein petitioner, then a classroom teacher, to her student who was fourteen
(14) years her junior, was considered by the school authorities as sufficient basis for terminating her
services.
Private respondent Tay Tung High School, Inc. is an educational institution in Bacolod City. Petitioner had
been employed therein as a teacher since 1963 and, in 1976 when this dispute arose, was the class adviser
in the sixth grade where one Bobby Qua was enrolled. Since it was the policy of the school to extend
remedial instructions to its students, Bobby Qua was imparted such instructions in school by petitioner. 1 In

the course thereof, the couple fell in love and on December 24, 1975, they got married in a civil
ceremony solemnized in Iloilo City by Hon. Cornelio G. Lazaro, City Judge of Iloilo. 2 Petitioner
was then thirty (30) years of age but Bobby Qua being sixteen (16) years old, consent and advice
to the marriage was given by his mother, Mrs. Concepcion Ong. 3 Their marriage was ratified in
accordance with the rites of their religion in a church wedding solemnized by Fr. Nick Melicor at
Bacolod City on January 10, 1976. 4
On February 4, 1976, private respondent filed with the sub-regional office of the Department of
Labor at Bacolod City an application for clearance to terminate the employment of petitioner on
the following ground: "For abusive and unethical conduct unbecoming of a dignified school
teacher and that her continued employment is inimical to the best interest, and would downgrade
the high moral values, of the school." 5
Petitioner was placed under suspension without pay on March 12, 1976. 6 Executive Labor Arbiter
Jose Y. Aguirre, Jr. of the National Labor Relations Commission, Bacolod City, to whom the case
was certified for resolution, required the parties to submit their position papers and supporting
evidence. Affidavits 7 were submitted by private respondent to bolster its contention that petitioner,
"defying all standards of decency, recklessly took advantage of her position as school teacher,
lured a Grade VI boy under her advisory section and 15 years her junior into an amorous
relation." 8 More specifically, private respondent raised issues on the fact that petitioner stayed
alone with Bobby Qua in the classroom after school hours when everybody had gone home, with
one door allegedly locked and the other slightly open.
On September 17, 1976, Executive Labor Arbiter Jose Y. Aguirre, Jr., without conducting any

formal hearing, rendered an "Award" in NLRC Case No. 956 in favor of private respondent
granting the clearance to terminate the employment of petitioner. It was held therein that
The affidavits . . . although self-serving but were never disputed by the respondent
pointed out that before the marriage of respondent to Bobby Qua, fourteen (14) years her
junior and during her employment with petitioner, an amorous relationship existed
between them. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, the undisputed written
testimonies of several witnesses convincingly picture the circumstances under which
such amorous relationship was manifested within the premises of the school, inside the
classroom, and within the sight of some employees. While no direct evidences have been
introduced to show that immoral acts were committed during these times, it is however
enough for a sane and credible mind to imagine and conclude what transpired and took
place during these times. . . . 9
Petitioner, however, denied having received any copy of the affidavits referred to.

10

On October 7, 1976, petitioner appealed to the National Labor Relations Commission claiming
denial of due process for not having been furnished copies of the aforesaid affidavits relied on by
the labor arbiter. She further contended that there was nothing immoral, nor was it abusive and
unethical conduct unbecoming of a dignified school teacher, for a teacher to enter into lawful
wedlock with her student. 11
On December 27, 1976, the National Labor Relations Commission unanimously reversed the
Labor Arbiter's decision and ordered petitioner's reinstatement with backwages, with the following
specific findings:
Affiant Maselliones deposed and said that he saw appellant and Qua sitting on the
student desk inside a classroom after classes. The depositions of affiants Despi and Chin
are of the same tenor. No statements whatever were sworn by them that they were
eyewitnesses to immoral or scandalous acts.
xxx xxx xxx
Even if we have to strain our sense of moral values to accommodate the conclusion of
the Arbiter, we could not deduce anything immoral or scandalous about a girl and a boy
talking inside a room after classes with lights on and with the door open.
xxx xxx xxx
Petitioner-appellee naively insisted that the clearance application was precipitated by
immoral acts which did not lend dignity to the position of appellant. Aside from such
gratuitous assertions of immoral acts or conduct by herein appellant, no evidence to
support such claims was introduced by petitioner-appellee. We reviewed the the
sequence of events from the beginning of the relationship between appellant Evelyn
Chua and Bobby Qua up to the date of the filing of the present application for clearance
in search of evidence that could have proved detrimental to the image and dignity of the
school but none has come to our attention. . . . 12
The case was elevated by private respondent to the Minister of Labor who, on March 30, 1977,
reversed the decision of the National Labor Relations Commission. The petitioner was, however,
awarded six (6) months salary as financial assistance. 13
On May 20, 1977, petitioner appealed the said decision to the Office of the President of the
Philippines. 14 After the corresponding exchanges, on September 1, 1978 said office, through
Presidential Executive Assistant Jacobo C. Clave, rendered its decision reversing the appealed
decision. Private respondent was ordered to reinstate petitioner to her former position without
loss of seniority rights and other privileges and with full back wages from the time she was not
allowed to work until the date of her actual reinstatement. 15
Having run the gamut of three prior adjudications of the case with alternating reversals, one
would think that this decision of public respondent wrote finis to petitioner's calvary. However, in a
resolution dated December 6, 1978, public respondent, acting on a motion for reconsideration 16
of herein private respondent and despite opposition thereto, 17 reconsidered and modified the

aforesaid decision, this time giving due course to the application of Tay Tung High School, Inc. to
terminate the services of petitioner as classroom teacher but giving her separation pay equivalent
to her six (6) months salary. 18
In thus reconsidering his earlier decision, public respondent reasoned
manifestation/comment filed on August 14, 1979 in this Court in the present case:

out

in

his

That this Office did not limit itself to the legal issues involved in the case, but went further
to view the matter from the standpoint of policy which involves the delicate task of rearing
and educating of children whose interest must be held paramount in the school
community, and on this basis, this Office deemed it wise to uphold the judgment and
action of the school authorities in terminating the services of a teacher whose actuations
and behavior, in the belief of the school authorities, had spawned ugly rumors that had
cast serious doubts on her integrity, a situation which was considered by them as not
healthy for a school campus, believing that a school teacher should at all times act with
utmost circumspection and conduct herself beyond reproach and above suspicion; 19
In this petition for certiorari, petitioner relies on the following grounds for the reversal of the
aforesaid resolution of public respondent, viz.:
1. The dismissal or termination of petitioner's employment, despite Tay Tung's claim to
the contrary, was actually based on her marriage with her pupil and is, therefore, illegal.
2. Petitioner's right to due process under the Constitution was violated when the hearsay
affidavits of Laddy Maselliones, Eleuterio Despi, Pina D. Chiu, and Ong Lee Bing, were
admitted and considered in evidence without presenting the affiants as witnesses and
affording the petitioner the right to confront and cross-examine them.
3. No sufficient proofs were adduced to show that petitioner committed serious
misconduct or breached the trust reposed on her by her employer or committed any of
the other grounds enumerated in Article 283 (Now Article 282) of the Labor Code which
will justify the termination of her employment. 20
We first dispose of petitioner's claim that her right to due process was violated. We do not agree.
There is no denial of due process where a party was afforded an opportunity to present his side.
Also, the procedure by which issues are resolved based on position papers, affidavits and other
documentary evidence is recognized as not violative of such right. Moreover, petitioner could
have insisted on a hearing to confront and cross-examine the affiants but she did not do so,
obviously because she was convinced that the case involves a question of law. Besides, said
affidavits were also cited and discussed by her in the proceedings before the Ministry of Labor.
Now, on the merits. Citing its upright intention to preserve the respect of the community toward
the teachers and to strengthen the educational system, private respondent submits that
petitioner's actuations as a teacher constitute serious misconduct, if not an immoral act, a breach
of trust and confidence reposed upon her and, thus, a valid and just ground to terminate her
services. It argues that as a school teacher who exercises substitute parental authority over her
pupils inside the school campus, petitioner had moral ascendancy over Bobby Qua and,
therefore, she must not abuse such authority and respect extended to her. Furthermore, it
charged petitioner with having allegedly violated the Code of Ethics for teachers the pertinent
provision of which states that a "school official or teacher should never take advantage of his/her
position to court a pupil or student." 21
On the other hand, petitioner maintains that there was no ground to terminate her services as
there is nothing wrong with a teacher falling in love with her pupil and, subsequently, contracting a
lawful marriage with him. She argued that she was dismissed because of her marriage with
Bobby Qua This contention was sustained in the aforesaid decision of the National Labor
Relations Commission thus:
. . . One thing, however, has not escaped our observation: That the application for
clearance was filed only after more than one month elapsed from the date of appellant's
marriage to Bobby Qua Certainly, such belated application for clearance weakens instead
of strengthening the cause of petitioner-appellee. The alleged immoral acts transpired

before the marriage and if it is these alleged undignified conduct that triggered the
intended separation, then why was the present application for clearance not filed at that
time when the alleged demoralizing effect was still fresh and abrasive? 22
After a painstaking perusal of the records, we are of the considered view that the determination of
the legality of the dismissal hinges on the issue of whether or not there is substantial evidence to
prove that the antecedent facts which culminated in the marriage between petitioner and her
student constitute immorality and/or grave misconduct. To constitute immorality, the
circumstances of each particular case must be holistically considered and evaluated in the light of
prevailing norms of conduct and the applicable law. Contrary to what petitioner had insisted on
from the very start, what is before us is a factual question, the resolution of which is better left to
the trier of facts.
Considering that there was no formal hearing conducted, we are constrained to review the factual
conclusions arrived at by public respondent, and to nullify his decision through the extraordinary
writ of certiorari if the same is tainted by absence or excess of jurisdiction or grave abuse of
discretion. The findings of fact must be supported by substantial evidence; otherwise, this Court is
not bound thereby. 23
We rule that public respondent acted with grave abuse of discretion. As vividly and forcefully
observed by him in his original decision:
Indeed, the records relied upon by the Acting Secretary of Labor (actually the records
referred to are the affidavits attached as Annexes "A" to "D" of the position paper dated
August 10, 1976 filed by appellee at the arbitration proceedings) in arriving at his decision
are unbelievable and unworthy of credit, leaving many question unanswered by a rational
mind. For one thing, the affidavits refer to certain times of the day during off school hours
when appellant and her student were found together in one of the classrooms of the
school. But the records of the case present a ready answer: appellant was giving
remedial instruction to her student and the school was the most convenient place to
serve the purpose. What is glaring in the affidavits is the complete absence of specific
immoral acts allegedly committed by appellant and her student. For another, and very
important at that, the alleged acts complained of invariably happened from September to
December, 1975, but the disciplinenary action imposed by appellee was sought only in
February, 1976, and what is more, the affidavits were executed only in August, 1976 and
from all indications, were prepared by appellee or its counsel. The affidavits heavily relied
upon by appellee are clearly the product of after-thought. . . . The action pursued by
appellee in dismissing appellant over one month after her marriage, allegedly based on
immoral acts committed even much earlier, is open to basis of the action sought seriously
doubted; on the question. The basis of the action sought is seriously doubted; on the
contrary, we are more inclined to believe that appellee had certain selfish, ulterior and
undisclosed motives known only to itself. 24
As earlier stated, from the outset even the labor arbiter conceded that there was no direct
evidence to show that immoral acts were committed. Nonetheless, indulging in a patently unfair
conjecture, he concluded that "it is however enough for a sane and credible mind to imagine and
conclude what transpired during those times." 25 In reversing his decision, the National Labor
Relations Commission observed that the assertions of immoral acts or conducts are gratuitous
and that there is no direct evidence to support such claim, 26 a finding which herein public
respondent himself shared.
We are, therefore, at a loss as to how public respondent could adopt the volte-face in the
questioned resolution, which we hereby reject, despite his prior trenchant observations hereinbefore quoted.
What is revealing however, is that the reversal of his original decision is inexplicably based on
unsubstantiated surmises and non sequiturs which he incorporated in his assailed resolution in this wise:
. . . While admittedly, no one directly saw Evelyn Chua and Bobby Qua doing immoral acts inside
the classroom it seems obvious and this Office is convinced that such a happening indeed
transpired within the solitude of the classrom after regular class hours. The marriage between
Evelyn Chua and Bobby Qua is the best proof which confirms the suspicion that the two indulged in
amorous relations in that place during those times of the day. . . . 27

With the finding that there is no substantial evidence of the imputed immoral acts, it follows that
the alleged violation of the Code of Ethics governing school teachers would have no basis.
Private respondent utterly failed to show that petitioner took advantage of her position to court her
student. If the two eventually fell in love, despite the disparity in their ages and academic levels,
this only lends substance to the truism that the heart has reasons of its own which reason does
not know. But, definitely, yielding to this gentle and universal emotion is not to be so casually
equated with immorality. The deviation of the circumstances of their marriage from the usual
societal pattern cannot be considered as a defiance of contemporary social mores.
It would seem quite obvious that the avowed policy of the school in rearing and educating
children is being unnecessarily bannered to justify the dismissal of petitioner. This policy,
however, is not at odds with and should not be capitalized on to defeat the security of tenure
granted by the Constitution to labor. In termination cases, the burden of proving just and valid
cause for dismissing an employee rests on the employer and his failure to do so would result in a
finding that the dismissal is unjustified.
The charge against petitioner not having been substantiated, we declare her dismissal as
unwarranted and illegal. It being apparent, however, that the relationship between petitioner and
private respondent has been inevitably and severely strained, we believe that it would neither be
to the interest of the parties nor would any prudent purpose be served by ordering her
reinstatement.
WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is GRANTED and the resolution of public respondent,
dated December 6, 1978 is ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. Private respondent Tay Tung High
School, Inc. is hereby ORDERED to pay petitioner backwages equivalent to three (3) years,
without any deduction or qualification, and separation pay in the amount of one (1) month for
every year of service.
SO ORDERED.

[G.R. No. 155110. March 31, 2005]


HABAGAT GRILL Through LOUIE BIRAOGO, Proprietor/Manager, petitioner, vs.
DMC-URBAN PROPERTY DEVELOPER, INC., respondent.
DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:
Entitlement to physical or material possession of the premises is the issue in an ejectment
suit. The two forms of ejectment suits -- forcible entry and unlawful detainer -- may be
distinguished from each other mainly by the fact that in forcible entry, the plaintiffs must
prove that they were in prior possession of the premises until they were deprived thereof
by the defendants; in unlawful detainer, the plaintiffs need not have been in prior physical
possession.
The Case
Before us is a Petition for Review[1] under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, challenging the
April 12, 2002 Decision[2] and the August 19, 2002 Resolution[3] of the Court of
Appeals (CA) in CA-GR SP No. 53524. The assailed Decision disposed as follows:
WHEREFORE, finding merit in the petition, the Court REVERSES the appealed
Decision and renders judgment:
1. Commanding [Petitioner] Louie Biraogo and all persons acting for and in his behalf or
by his authority to remove the Habagat Grill and all improvements he has introduced into
the lot in question and to vacate said lot; and
2. Ordering said [petitioner] to pay the [respondent] P10,000.00 monthly compensation

for the occupation of the land in question until the possession from December 1, 1993 of
said property shall have been completely restored to the [respondent]; and
3. Ordering [petitioner] to pay [respondent] P10,000.00 as attorneys fees.[4]
The assailed Resolution denied petitioners Motion for Reconsideration.
The Facts
The antecedents were ably summarized by the CA as follows:
On June 11, 1981, David M. Consunji, Inc. acquired and became the owner of a
residential lot situated in Matina, Davao City and covered by TCT No. T-82338. This lot
shall henceforth be called the lot in question. On June 13, 1981, David M. Consunji, Inc.
transferred said lot to its sister company, the DMC Urban Property Developers, Inc.
(DMC) in whose favor TCT No. T-279042 was issued. Alleging that Louie Biraogo
forcibly entered said lot and built thereon the Habagat Grill in December, 1993, DMC
filed on March 28, 1994 a Complaint for Forcible Entry against Habagat Grill and/or
Louie Biraogo. The Complaint was docketed as Civil Case No. 1233-D-94 in the
Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Branch 4, in Davao City. The Complaint alleged that as
owner DMC possessed the lot in question from June 11, 1981 until December 1, 1993;
that on that day, December 1, 1993, Louie Biraogo, by means of strategy and stealth,
unlawfully entered into the lot in question and constructed the Habagat Grill thereon, thus
illegally depriving DMC of the possession of said lot since then up to the present; that the
reasonable rental value of said lot is P10,000.00 a month.
Louie Biraogo in his Answer denied illegally entering the lot in question. He averred
that Habagat Grill was built in 1992 inside Municipal Reservation No. 1050 (Presidential
Proclamation No. 20) and so DMC has no cause of action against him. Since one of the
vital issues in the case was the location of Habagat Grill, the Municipal Trial Court in
Cities constituted a team composed of three members, one a Geodetic Engineer
representing the DMC, another Geodetic Engineer representing Biraogo and the third
from the DENR which was tasked with the duty of determining where precisely was
Habagat Grill located, on the lot in question or on Municipal Reservation No. 1050.
Biraogo was directed by the court to furnish the team with a copy of Municipal
Reservation No. 20. Biraogo never complied. Worse, his designated Geodetic Engineer
Panfilo Jayme never took oath as such and did not participate in the Relocation survey.
The ones who conducted the survey were Engr. Edmindo Dida of the DENR and Engr.
Jose Cordero, DMCs representative. After conducting the relocation survey on March
30, 1998, engineers Dida and Cordero submitted their report to the Court specifically
stating that the Habagat Grill Restaurant was occupying 934 square meters of the lot in
question.
After necessary proceedings, the Municipal Trial Court in Cities rendered a Decision on
August 6, 1998 dismissing the case on the ground of lack of jurisdiction and lack of cause
of action. DMC appealed from said Decision to the Regional Trial Court and the same
was docketed in Branch 12, in Davao City as Civil Case No. x x x 26,860.98. On
February 16, 1999, said court rendered judgment affirming the appealed Decision. A
Motion for Reconsideration was filed but was denied in the courts Order dated April 21,
1999.[5]
Consequently, respondent interposed an appeal to the CA.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals


Granting respondents appeal, the Court of Appeals ruled that the court of origin had
jurisdiction over the Complaint for Forcible Entry.[6] The CA gave greater weight to the
testimony of respondents real property manager, Bienamer Garcia, that Habagat Grill
had been built on December 1, 1993.[7] The appellate court opined that his testimony
was credible, because he had personal knowledge of the facts he had testified to -- it was
his task to know such matters. On the other hand, it was not clear in what capacity
petitioners witness, Samuel Ruiz, came to know of the facts he had testified to.[8] The
CA further held that the minutes of the Urban Planning and Economic Development
hearings -- submitted by petitioner to prove the construction of Habagat Grill in 1992 -were immaterial, as these referred to another establishment.[9]
The CA faulted petitioner for not presenting any other documentary evidence to establish
the date of Habagat Grills construction.[10] It added that the court of origin had
improperly adjudged the subject property as part of the public domain. The appellate
court explained that the lower court could take cognizance of Presidential Proclamation
No. 20, but not of the situational relation between the property covered by the
Proclamation and the land in question. The CA further criticized petitioner for not
presenting any evidence to show the basis of the latters alleged authority to build
Habagat Grill on the property.[11]
Hence, this Petition.[12]
The Issues
In its Memorandum, petitioner raises the following issues for our consideration:
1. That, with due respect, the Honorable Court of Appeals erred in not finding that the
Honorable Court of First Level has no jurisdiction over this case as petitioners
possession and occupation of the lot where Habagat Grill was constructed on the subject
premises was yet in 1992 or for more than one (1) year prior to the filing of this case on
April 7, 1994 and that respondents predecessor (David M. Consunji, Inc.) had not been
in prior and physical possession of the subject premises, as a matter of fact, it failed to
allege the same in its Complaint in this case; and
2. That, with due respect, the Honorable Court of Appeals erred in not finding that the
Complaint of respondents predecessor (David M. Consunji, Inc.) in this case failed to
state a valid cause of action as the lot referred to therein is not particularly described and
is different from the lot on which the Habagat Grill was constructed.[13]
Simplified, the issues are (1) whether the MTC had jurisdiction over the case, and (2)
whether respondent alleged a sufficient cause of action in its Complaint.
This Courts Ruling
The Petition has no merit.
First Issue:
Jurisdiction
Petitioner argues that the lower court did not acquire jurisdiction over the case, because
mere allegation of ownership did not, by itself, show that respondent had prior possession
of the property.[14]

We disagree. Jurisdiction in ejectment cases is determined by the allegations pleaded in


the complaint.[15] As long as these allegations demonstrate a cause of action either for
forcible entry or for unlawful detainer, the court acquires jurisdiction over the subject
matter. This principle holds, even if the facts proved during the trial do not support the
cause of action thus alleged, in which instance the court -- after acquiring jurisdiction -may resolve to dismiss the action for insufficiency of evidence.
The necessary allegations in a Complaint for ejectment are set forth in Section 1 of Rule
70 of the Rules of Court, which reads thus:
SECTION 1. Who may institute proceedings, and when. Subject to the provisions of the
next succeeding section, a person deprived of the possession of any land or building by
force, intimidation, threat, strategy, or stealth, or a lessor, vendor, vendee, or other person
against whom the possession of any land or building is unlawfully withheld after the
expiration or termination of the right to hold possession, by virtue of any contract,
express or implied, or the legal representatives or assigns of any such lessor, vendor,
vendee, or other person, may, at any time within one (1) year after such unlawful
deprivation or withholding of possession, bring an action in the proper Municipal Trial
Court against the person or persons unlawfully withholding or depriving of possession, or
any person or persons claiming under them, for the restitution of such possession,
together with damages and costs.
In the present case, the Complaint filed before the trial court on March 28, 1994, stated:
2. That [respondent] had been in lawful and peaceful possession of a residential lot at
Tulip Drive, Ecoland and Subdivision covered by TCT T-82338 of the Registry of Deeds
of Davao City being owner thereof, since June 11, 1981, until the day and incident in the
following paragraph hereof.
3. That on or about December 1, 1993, [petitioner] by means of strategy and stealth,
unlawfully entered and occupied a portion of said residential lot and constructed what is
now known as the Habagat Grill, thereby illegally depriving [respondent] of the
possession of the premises.[16]
Notably, petitioner alleged (1) prior possession, (2) deprivation thereof by strategy and
stealth, and (3) the date such unlawful deprivation started, which was less than one year
from the filing of the Complaint. Considering the presence in the Complaint of all the
necessary allegations,[17] the trial court evidently acquired jurisdiction over the subject
matter of the case.
Date of Entry
Petitioner further contends that, as determined by the court of origin and the regional trial
court, respondent has not adduced preponderance of evidence to prove that this case was
filed within the one-year prescriptive period.[18] Petitioner presented the testimony of a
certain Samuel Ruiz and offered the minutes of the hearings conducted by the Urban
Planning and Economic Development (UPED) to prove that the construction of the
Habagat Grill began in 1992.[19]
Respondent counters that the CA properly relied on the testimony of the formers real
property manager, Bienamer Garcia, as he had personal knowledge of the facts.[20] On
the other hand, the two trial courts allegedly relied on the hearings conducted by the

UPED in resolving that petitioner had been in possession of the property since 1992.
Respondent avers that those hearings referred to a restaurant located 330 meters away,
not to Habagat Grill.[21]
The determination of the date of entry into the subject lot is a question of fact. This Court
has held in a long line of cases that the review of cases brought before it via Rule 45 of
the Rules of Court is limited to errors of law. Findings of fact by the CA are conclusive
except in a number of instances, one of which is when its factual findings are contrary to
those of the courts below, as in the present case.[22]
The appellate court held that the minutes of the UPED hearing pertained to matters
relating to a different establishment, the Kawayan Restaurant.[23] Thus, the UPED
minutes did not have any material bearing on the resolution of the present case.
Consequently, the determination of the date of entry into the subject lot boils down to the
appreciation of the testimonies of Garcia and Ruiz.
Preponderance of evidence means that the evidence adduced by one side is, as a whole,
superior to or has greater weight than that of the other.[24] Where the evidence presented
by one side is insufficient to ascertain the claim, there is no preponderance of evidence.
[25] In criminal cases in which the quantum of evidence required is greater than in civil
cases, the testimony of only one witness -- if credible, straightforward, and worthy of
belief -- is sufficient to convict.[26] With more reason then, Garcias testimony, if clear
and positive, may be sufficient to establish respondents claim.
Under Section 1 of Rule 133 of the Rules of Court, among the facts and circumstances to
be considered by the court in determining which of the presented evidence has superior
weight is the witnesses means and opportunity to know the facts to which they testify.
[27]
The extent of such means and opportunity are determined by the following
considerations:
First, the Actor Rule. This rule maintains that a persons recollection of his own acts
and of the attendant circumstances is more definite and trustworthy than another persons
recollection of it, especially if it was an act done in the performance of a duty, or if the
other persons testimony is little more than an expression of opinion or judgment. Apart
from comparative tenacity of memory, the actor usually knows better than any one else
what he did or did not do, and his testimony is generally, but not always, entitled to
superior weight on that account. Thus, the execution and attestation of a will or other
legal document may be so far regarded as the act of the lawyer who superintends the
transactions and knows the formalities required by law, and his testimony to the
circumstances will generally outweigh that of a non-professional witness.
The Actor Rule has been applied in a multitude of admiralty cases and any other cases
where a persons testimony concerning his own conduct conflicts with the testimony of a
non-participating observer or with inconclusive inferences from facts proved, especially
where the actor witness testifies to an act which the duties of his employment required
him to perform. But it said that the testimony of one who evidently speaks rather to his
custom than to his acts on the particular occasion will hardly suffice to put him in the
category of those who are specially favored by the Actor Rule.
Second, the witness who had the greater interest in noticing and remembering the facts

is to be believed in preference to the one that had a slighter interest to observe or was
wholly indifferent. Interest has effect on the power of observation of witness. Thus, it has
been held that it was not remarkable that witnesses would not have observed traces of
blood along the route through which the deceased was taken because said witnesses had
no reason to suspect that the crime was not committed in the place where the dead body
was found. Similarly, the failure of witnesses to notice whether or not there were houses
at the place where they say the accused maltreat the offended party was attributed as due
to the fact that their attention was concentrated to what they say, and they had no interest
in knowing whether or not there were houses in or around the place.
Third, the witness who gives reasons for the accuracy of his observations is preferred to
him who merely states the fact to be so, without adverting to any circumstances showing
that his attention was particularly called to it. Thus, the testimony of the crew of a vessel
that their light on the night of a collision was red, and nothing more, was easily overcome
by testimony of witnesses on the other vessel that the light was white, not red, and that
fact was a matter of remark among them when the light was observed.
Fourth, the witness in a state of excitement, fear, or terror is generally incapable of
observing accurately. This is so because, if men perceive the most insignificant facts in
the most diverse ways, even when it is impossible that these facts should produce on the
observer any emotion preventing him from observing with absolute calm, even much
more will their impressions be diversified under circumstances calculated to produce in
the onlookers excitement, fear or terror.
Fifth, intoxication tends to impair accuracy both of observation and memory of a
witness.[28] (Citations omitted)
Based on the foregoing criteria, the testimony of Garcia must be given greater weight,
considering that it was his task -- as the real property manager of respondent -- to know
about matters involving the latters properties. In contrast, it was not explained how Ruiz
could be deemed competent and credible in his testimony as to those matters.
The lower courts dismissed the testimony of Garcia -- regardless of how clear, positive
and straightforward it was -- solely on the ground that he was not a disinterested witness.
True, he was an employee of respondent; relationship, however, will not by itself
determine the true worth of ones testimony.[29] The essential test is whether such
testimony is disencumbered, credible, and in accord with human experience.[30] It
cannot easily be dismissed by the mere invocation of the witness relationship with
respondent. In sum, we have no reason to disagree with the CAs evaluation that, being
credible, Garcias direct testimony was sufficient to establish respondents claim that
petitioner had entered the premises on December 1, 1993.
Second Issue:
Cause of Action
Petitioner avers that no cause of action was alleged by respondent, as shown by the
following circumstances: (1) the latters property was not encroached upon by Habagat
Grill, which had allegedly been constructed on a portion of land owned by the City
Government of Davao;[31] and (2) respondent failed to prove that its predecessor-ininterest had prior possession of the property.[32]

On the other hand, respondent argues that the trial court indiscriminately ignored the
Report of the survey team that had been constituted to determine the exact location of
Habagat Grill. Respondent further contends that the trial court erred in taking judicial
notice of the metes and bounds of the property covered by Presidential Proclamation No.
20.[33] Although the lower court may take judicial notice of PD No. 20, it may not do so
in regard to the metes and bounds of Times Beach. Neither, may it claim knowledge of
the situational relation between the land in question and Times Beach.
Location of the Property
We agree with respondent. Judicial notice is the cognizance of certain facts which
judges may properly take and act on without proof because they already know them.[34]
Its object is to save time, labor and expense in securing and introducing evidence on
matters that are not ordinarily capable of dispute or actually bona fide disputed, and the
tenor of which can safely be assumed from the tribunals general knowledge or from a
slight search on its part.
Indeed, municipal courts may take judicial notice of the municipal ordinances in force in
the municipality in which they sit.[35] Such notice, however, is limited to what the law is
and what it states.[36] As can be gleaned from its discussions, the trial court took judicial
notice of the existence of Presidential Proclamation No. 20, which declared Times Beach
a recreation center. The MTC also took judicial notice of the location of the beach, which
was from the shoreline to the road towards the shoreline. On the basis of these
premises, the trial court resolved that the lot on which petitioners restaurant was located
should necessarily be inside Times Beach, which was owned by the City of Davao.
Hence, it was the City -- not respondent -- that had a cause of action against petitioner. To
arrive at this conclusion, the MTC made its own estimate of the location of the metes and
bounds of the property mentioned by the law.[37]
The location of Habagat Grill cannot be resolved by merely taking judicial notice of
Presidential Proclamation No. 20; such location is precisely at the core of the dispute in
this case. Moreover, considering respondents allegation that the supposed lot covered by
the Ordinance has been lost due to inundation by the sea, we cannot fathom how the trial
court could have known of the actual location of the metes and bounds of the subject lot.
Neither may the MTC take discretionary judicial notice under Section 2 of Rule 129 of
the Rules of Court, because the exact boundaries of the lot covered by that law are not a
matter of public knowledge capable of unquestionable demonstration. Neither may these
be known to judges because of their judicial functions.
Hence, the CA was correct in disregarding the findings of the trial courts, because they
had erred in taking judicial notice of the exact metes and bounds of the property. The
appellate court aptly relied on the Report submitted by the survey team that had been
constituted by the trial court, precisely for the purpose of determining the location of
Habagat Grill in relation to respondents lot.
Prior Possession
Finally, petitioner avers that respondent failed to prove that the latters predecessor-ininterest had prior possession of the property.[38] Conversely, respondent alleges that its
predecessor was in prior physical possession of the property as the registered owner
thereof since June 11, 1981.[39] Again, we rule for respondent.

There is only one issue in ejectment proceedings: who is entitled to physical or material
possession of the premises; that is, to possession de facto, not possession de jure? Issues
as to the right of possession or ownership are not involved in the action; evidence thereon
is not admissible, except only for the purpose of determining the issue of possession.[40]
The two forms of ejectment suits -- forcible entry or unlawful detainer -- may be
distinguished from each other mainly by the fact that in forcible entry, the plaintiffs must
prove that they were in prior possession of the premises until they were deprived thereof
by the defendant; in unlawful detainer, the plaintiff need not have been in prior physical
possession.[41]
Spouses Benitez v. CA[42] has held that possession can be acquired not only by material
occupation, but also by the fact that a thing is subject to the action of ones will or by the
proper acts and legal formalities established for acquiring such right.
Possession can be acquired by juridical acts. These are acts to which the law gives the
force of acts of possession. Examples of these are donations, succession, x x x execution
and registration of public instruments, and the inscription of possessory information
titles.[43] For one to be considered in possession, one need not have actual or physical
occupation[44] of every square inch of the property at all times. In the present case, prior
possession of the lot by respondents predecessor was sufficiently proven by evidence of
the execution and registration of public instruments and by the fact that the lot was
subject to its will from then until December 1, 1993, when petitioner unlawfully entered
the premises and deprived the former of possession thereof.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and the challenged Decision and Resolution
AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Sandoval-Gutierrez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, and Garcia, JJ., concur.
THIRD DIVISION
[G.R. NO. 148372 : June 27, 2005]
CLARION PRINTING HOUSE, INC., and EULOGIO YUTINGCO, Petitioners, v.
THE HONORABLE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION (Third
Division) and MICHELLE MICLAT, Respondents.
DECISION
CARPIO-MORALES, J.:
Respondent Michelle Miclat (Miclat) was employed on April 21, 1997 on a probationary
basis as marketing assistant with a monthly salary of P6,500.00 by petitioner Clarion
Printing House (CLARION) owned by its co-petitioner Eulogio Yutingco. At the time of
her employment, she was not informed of the standards that would qualify her as a
regular employee.
On September 16, 1997, the EYCO Group of Companies of which CLARION formed
part filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) a "Petition for the
Declaration of Suspension of Payment, Formation and Appointment of Rehabilitation
Receiver/ Committee, Approval of Rehabilitation Plan with Alternative Prayer for
Liquidation and Dissolution of Corporation"1 the pertinent allegations of which read:

xxx
5. The situation was that since all these companies were sister companies and
were operating under a unified and centralized management team, the financial
requirements of one company would normally be backed up or supported by one
of the available fundings from the other companies.
6. The expansion exhausted the cash availability of Nikon, NKI, and 2000
because those fundings were absorbed by the requirements of NPI and EYCO
Properties, Inc. which were placed on real estate investments. However, at the
time that those investments and expansions were made, there was no cause for
alarm because the market situation was very bright and very promising, hence, the
decision of the management to implement the expansion.
7. The situation resulted in the cash position being spread thin. However, despite
the thin cash positioning, the management still was very positive and saw a very
viable proposition since the expansion and the additional investments would result
in a bigger real estate base which would be very credible collateral for further
expansions. It was envisioned that in the end, there would be bigger cash
procurement which would result in greater volume of production, profitability and
other good results based on the expectations and projections of the team itself.
8. Unfortunately, factors beyond the control and anticipation of the management
came into play which caught the petitioners flat-footed, such as:
a) The glut in the real estate marketwhich has resulted in the bubble
economy for the real estate demand which right now has resulted in a
severe slow down in the sales of properties;
b) The economic interplay consisting of the inflation and the erratic
changes in the peso-dollar exchange ratewhich precipitated a soaring
banking interest.
c) Labor problemsthat has precipitated adverse company effect on the
media and in the financial circuit.
d) Liberalization of the industry(GATT) which has resulted in flooding
the market with imported goods;
e) Other related adverse matters.
9. The inability of the EYCO Group of Companies to meet the obligations as they
fall due on the schedule agreed with the bank has now become a stark reality. The
situation therefore is that since the obligations would not be met within the
scheduled due date, complications and problems would definitely arise that would
impair and affect the operations of the entire conglomerate comprising the
EYCO Group of Companies.
xxx
12. By virtue of this development, there is a need for suspension of all accounts
o[r] obligations incurred by the petitioners in their separate and combined
capacities in the meantime that they are working for the rehabilitation of the
companies that would eventually redound to the benefit of these creditors.

13. The foregoing notwithstanding, however, the present combined financial


condition of the petitioners clearly indicates that their assets are more than enough
to pay off the credits.
x x x (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)2
On September 19, 1997, the SEC issued an Order3 the pertinent portions of which read:
xxx
It appearing that the petition is sufficient in form and substance, the corporate petitioners'
prayer for the creation of management or receivership committee and creditors' approval
of the proposed Rehabilitation Plan is hereby set for hearing on October 22, 1997 at 2:00
o'clock in the afternoon at the SICD, SEC Bldg., EDSA, Greenhills, Mandaluyong City.
xxx
Finally, the petitioners are hereby enjoined from disposing any and all of their properties
in any manner, whatsoever, except in the ordinary course of business and from making
any payment outside of the legitimate business expenses during the pendency of the
proceedings and as a consequence of the filing of the Petition, all actions, claims and
proceedings against herein petitioners pending before any court, tribunal, office board
and/or commission are deemed SUSPENDED until further orders from this Hearing
Panel pursuant to the rulings of the Supreme Court in the cases of RCBC v. IAC et al.,
213 SCRA 830 and BPI v. CA, 229 SCRA 223. (Underscoring supplied)rl
lbrr
And on September 30, 1997, the SEC issued an Order 4 approving the creation of an
interim receiver for the EYCO Group of Companies.
On October 10, 1997, the EYCO Group of Companies issued to its employees the
following Memorandum:5
This is to formally announce the entry of the Interim Receiver Group represented by SGV
from today until October 22, 1997 or until further formal notice from the SEC.
This interim receiver group's function is to make sure that all assets of the company are
secured and accounted for both for the protection of us and our creditors.
Their function will involve familiarization with the different processes and controls in our
organization & keeping physical track of our assets like inventories and machineries.
Anything that would be required from you would need to be in writing and duly approved
by the top management in order for us to maintain a clear line.
We trust that this temporary inconvenience will benefit all of us in the spirit of goodwill.
Let's extend our full cooperation to them.
Thank you. (Underscoring supplied)rllbrr
On October 22, 1997, the Assistant Personnel Manager of CLARION informed Miclat by
telephone that her employment contract had been terminated effective October 23, 1997.
No reason was given for the termination.
The following day or on October 23, 1997, on reporting for work, Miclat was informed
by the General Sales Manager that her termination was part of CLARION's cost-cutting
measures.

On November 17, 1997, Miclat filed a complaint 6 for illegal dismissal against CLARION
and Yutingco (petitioners) before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC).
In the meantime, or on January 7, 1998, the EYCO Group of Companies issued a
Memorandum7 addressed to company managers advising them of "a temporary partial
shutdown of some operations of the Company" commencing on January 12, 1998 up to
February 28, 1998:
In view of the numerous external factors such as slowdown in business and consumer
demand and consistent with Art. 286 of the Revised Labor Code of the Philippines, we
are constrained to go on a temporary partial shutdown of some operations of the
Company.
To implement this measure, please submit to my office through your local HRAD the list
of those whom you will require to report for work and their specific schedules. Upon
revalidation and approval of this list, all those not in the list will not receive any pay nor
will it be credited against their VL.
Please submit the listing no later than the morning of Friday, January 09, 1998.
Shutdown shall commence on January 12, 1998 up to February 28, 1998, unless
otherwise recalled at an earlier date.
Implementation of th[ese] directives will be done through your HRAD departments.
(Underscoring supplied)rllbrr
In her Position Paper8 dated March 3, 1998 filed before the labor arbiter, Miclat claimed
that she was never informed of the standards which would qualify her as a regular
employee. She asserted, however, that she qualified as a regular employee since her
immediate supervisor even submitted a written recommendation in her favor before she
was terminated without just or authorized cause.
Respecting the alleged financial losses cited by petitioners as basis for her termination,
Miclat disputed the same, she contending that as marketing assistant tasked to receive
sales calls, produce sales reports and conduct market surveys, a credible assessment on
production and sales showed otherwise.
In any event, Miclat claimed that assuming that her termination was necessary, the
manner in which it was carried out was illegal, no written notice thereof having been
served on her, and she merely learned of it only a day before it became effective.
Additionally, Miclat claimed that she did not receive separation pay, 13th month pay and
salaries for October 21, 22 and 23, 1997.
On the other hand, petitioners claimed that they could not be faulted for retrenching some
of its employees including Miclat, they drawing attention to the EYCO Group of
Companies' being placed under receivership, notice of which was sent to its supervisors
and rank and file employees via a Memorandum of July 21, 1997; that in the same
memorandum, the EYCO Group of Companies advised them of a scheme for voluntary
separation from employment with payment of severance pay; and that CLARION was
only adopting the "LAST IN, FIRST OUT PRINCIPLE" when it terminated Miclat who
was relatively new in the company.
Contending that Miclat's termination was made with due process, petitioners referred to

the EYCO Group of Companies' abovesaid July 21, 1997 Memorandum which, so they
claimed, substantially complied with the notice requirement, it having been issued more
than one month before Miclat was terminated on October 23, 1997.
By Decision9 of November 23, 1998, the labor arbiter found that Miclat was illegally
dismissed and directed her reinstatement.The dispositive portion of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing premises, judgment is hereby rendered ordering
the respondent to reinstate complainant to her former or equivalent position without loss
of seniority rights and benefits and to pay her backwages, from the time of dismissal to
actual reinstatement, proportionate 13th month pay and two (2) days salary computed as
follows:
a.1) Backwages - 10/23/97 to 11/30/98
P6,500.00 x 13.25 months = P86,125.00
a.2) Proportionate 13th month pay
1/12 of P86,125 = 7,177.08
b) 13th month pay - 1997
=P6,500 x 9.75 months/12 = 5,281.25
c) Two days salary
=P6,500/26 x 2 days = 500.00
TOTAL P 99,083.33
(Emphasis and underscoring supplied).
Before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) to which petitioners appealed,
they argued that:10
1. [CLARION] was placed under receivership thereby evidencing the fact that it
sustained business losses to warrant the termination of [Miclat] from her
employment.
2. The dismissal of [Miclat] from her employment having been effected in
accordance with the law and in good faith, [Miclat] does not deserve to be
reinstated and paid backwages, 13th month pay and two (2) days salary.
And petitioners pointed out that CLARION had expressed its decision to shutdown its
operations by Memorandum11 of January 7, 1998 to its company managers.
Appended to petitioners' appeal before the NLRC were photocopies of their balance
sheets from 1997 to November 1998 which they claimed to "unanimously show that x x x
[petitioner] company experienced business reverses which were made the basis x x x in
retrenching x x x."12
By Resolution13 of June 17, 1999, the NLRC affirmed the labor arbiter's decision. The
pertinent portion of the NLRC Resolution reads:
There are three (3) valid requisites for valid retrenchment: (1) the retrenchment is
necessary to prevent losses and such losses are proven; (2) written notices to the
employees and to the Department of Labor and Employment at least one (1) month prior

to the intended date of retrenchment; and (3) payment of separation pay equivalent to one
(1) month pay or at least - month pay for every year of service, whichever is higher. The
two notices are mandatory. If the notice to the workers is later than the notices sent to
DOLE, the date of termination should be at least one month from the date of notice to the
workers.
In Lopez Sugar Corporation v. Federation of Free Workers Philippine Labor Union
Association (PLUA-NACUSIP) and National Labor Relations Commission, the Supreme
Court had the occasion to set forth four standards which would justify retrenchment,
being, firstly, - the losses expected should be substantial and not merely de minimis in
extent. If the loss purportedly sought to be forestalled by retrenchment is clearly shown to
be insubstantial and inconsequential in character, the bona fide nature of the retrenchment
would appear to be seriously in question; secondly, - the substantial loss apprehended
must be reasonably imminent, as such imminence can be perceived objectively and in
good faith by the employer. There should, in other words, be a certain degree of urgency
for the retrenchment, which is after all a drastic course with serious consequences for the
livelihood of the employees retired or otherwise laid-off; thirdly, - because of the
consequential nature of retrenchment, it must be reasonably necessary and likely to
effectively prevent the expected losses. The employer should have taken other measures
prior or parallel to retrenchment to forestall losses, i.e., cut other cost than labor costs;
and lastly, - the alleged losses if already realized and the expected imminent losses sought
to be forestalled, must be proven by sufficient and convincing evidence.
The records show that these requirements were not substantially complied with. And
proofs presented by respondents-appellants were short of being sufficient and convincing
to justify valid retrenchment. Their position must therefore fail. The reason is simple.
Evidences on record presented fall short of the requirement of substantial, sufficient and
convincing evidence to persuade this Commission to declare the validity of retrenchment
espoused by respondents-appellants. The petition before the Securit[ies] and Exchange
Commission for suspension of payment does not prove anything to come within the
bounds of justifying retrenchment. In fact, the petition itself lends credence to the fact
that retrenchment was not actually reinstated under the circumstances prevailing when it
stated, "The foregoing notwithstanding, however, the present combined financial
condition of the petitioners clearly indicates that their assets are more than enough to
pay off the credits." Verily, reading further into the petition, We are not ready to disregard
the fact that the petition merely seeks to suspend payments of their obligation from
creditor banks and other financing institutions, and not because of imminent substantial
financial loss. On this account, We take note of paragraph 7 of the petition which stated:
"The situation resulted in cash position being spread thin. However, despite the thin cash
positioning, the management was very positive and saw a very viable proposition since
the expansion and the additional investments would result in a bigger real estate base
which would be a very credible collateral for further expansions. It was envisioned that
in the end, there would a bigger cash procurement which would result in greater volume
of production, profitability and other good results based on the expectations and
projections of the team itself." Admittedly, this does not create a picture of retrenchable
business atmosphere pursuant to Article 283 of the Labor Code.
We cannot disregard the fact that respondent-appellants failed in almost all of the criteria

set by law and jurisprudence in justifying valid retrenchment. The two (2) mandatory
notices were violated. The supposed notice to the DOLE (Annex "4," List of Employees
on Shutdown) is of no moment, the same having no bearing in this case. Herein
complainant-appellee was not even listed therein and the date of receipt by DOLE, that is,
January 18, 1999, was way out of time in relation to this case. And no proof was adduced
to evidence cost cutting measures, to say the least. Nor was there proof shown that
separation pay had been awarded to complainant-appellee.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, and finding no grave abuse of discretion on the
findings of Labor Arbiter Nieves V. De Castro, the appeal is DENIED for lack of merit.
The decision appealed from is AFFIRMED in toto. (Italics in the original; underscoring
supplied; citations omitted)
Petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration of the NLRC resolution having been denied by
Resolution14 of July 29, 1999, petitioners filed a Petition for Certiorari15 before the Court
of Appeals (CA) raising the following arguments:
1. PETITIONER CLARION WAS PLACED UNDER RECEIVERSHIP
THEREBY EVIDENCING THE FACT THAT IT SUSTAINED BUSINESS
LOSSES TO WARRANT THE TERMINATION OF PRIVATE RESPONDENT
MICLAT FROM HER EMPLOYMENT.
2. THE DISMISSAL OF PRIVATE RESPONDENT MICLAT FROM HER
EMPLOYMENT HAVING BEEN EFFECTED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE
LAW AND IN GOOD FAITH, PRIVATE RESPONDENT DOES NOT
DESERVE TO BE REINSTATED AND PAID BACKWAGES, 13th MONTH
PAY AND TWO (2) DAYS SALARY. (Underscoring supplied)rl
lbrr
By Decision16 of November 24, 2000, the CA sustained the resolutions of the NLRC in
this wise:
In the instant case, Clarion failed to prove its ground for retrenchment as well as
compliance with the mandated procedure of furnishing the employee and the Department
of Labor and Employment (hereafter, DOLE) with one (1) month written notice and
payment of separation pay to the employee. Clarion's failure to discharge its burden of
proof is evident from the following instances:
First, Clarion presented no evidence whatsoever before the Labor Arbiter. To
prove serious business losses, Clarion presented its 1997 and 1998 financial
statements and the SEC Order for the Creation of an Interim Receiver, for the
first time on appeal before the NLRC. The Supreme Court has consistently
disallowed such practice unless the party making the belated submission of
evidence had satisfactorily explained the delay. In the instant case, said financial
statements are not admissible in evidence due to Clarion's failure to explain the
delay.
Second, even if such financial statements were admitted in evidence, they would
not alter the outcome of the case as statements have weak probative value. The
required method of proof in such case is the presentation of financial statements
prepared by independent auditors and not merely by company accountants. Again,

petitioner failed in this regard.


Third, even audited financial statements are not enough. The employer must
present the statement for the year immediately preceding the year the employee
was retrenched, which Clarion failed to do in the instant case, to prove not only
the fact of business losses but more importantly, the fact that such losses were
substantial, continuing and without immediate prospect of abatement. Hence,
neither the NLRC nor the courts must blindly accept such audited financial
statements. They must examine and make inferences from the data presented to
establish business losses. Furthermore, they must be cautioned by the fact that
"sliding incomes" or decreasing gross revenues alone are not necessarily business
losses within the meaning of Art. 283 since in the nature of things, the possibility
of incurring losses is constantly present in business operations.
Last, even if business losses were indeed sufficiently proven, the employer must
still prove that retrenchment was resorted to only after less drastic measures such
as the reduction of both management and rank-and-file bonuses and salaries,
going on reduced time, improving manufacturing efficiency, reduction of
marketing and advertising costs, faster collection of customer accounts, reduction
of raw materials investment and others, have been tried and found wanting.
Again, petitioner failed to prove the exhaustion of less drastic measures short of
retrenchment as it had failed with the other requisites.
It is interesting to note that Miclat started as a probationary employee on 21 April 1997.
There being no stipulation to the contrary, her probation period had a duration of six (6)
months from her date of employment. Thus, after the end of the probation period on 22
October 1997, she became a regular employee as of 23 October 1997 since she was
allowed to work after the end of said period. It is also clear that her probationary
employment was not terminated at the end of the probation period on the ground that the
employee failed to qualify in accordance with reasonable standards made known to her at
the time of engagement.
However, 23 October 1997 was also the day of Miclat's termination from employment on
the ground of retrenchment. Thus, we have a bizarre situation when the first day of an
employee's regular employment was also the day of her termination. However, this is
entirely possible, as had in fact happened in the instant case, where the employer's basis
for termination is Art. 288, instead of Art. 281 of the Labor Code. If petitioner terminated
Miclat with Art. 281 in mind, it would have been too late to present such theory at this
stage and it would have been equally devastating for petitioner had it done so because no
evidence exists to show that Miclat failed to qualify with petitioner's standards for
regularization. Failure to discharge its burden of proof would still be petitioner's undoing.
Whichever way We examine the case, the conclusion is the same - Miclat was illegally
dismissed. Consequently, reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and full
backwages from date of dismissal on 23 October 1997 until actual reinstatement is in
order.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED and the 29 July 1999 and 7
June 1999 resolutions of the NLRC are SUSTAINED. (Emphasis and underscoring
supplied)rllbrr

By Resolution17 of May 23, 2001, the CA denied petitioner's motion for reconsideration
of the decision.
Hence, the present Petition for Review on Certiorari, petitioners contending that:
WITH ALL DUE RESPECT, THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS
GRAVELY ERRED IN SUSTAINING THE ASSAILED DECISIONS OF
HONORABLE PUBLIC RESPONDENT COMMISSION:
A. HOLDING THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENT MICLAT WAS
ILLEGALLY DISMISSED; andcralawlibrary
B. ORDERING THE REINSTATEMENT OF PRIVATE RESPONDENT
MICLAT TO HER FORMER OR EQUIVALENT POSITION WITHOUT
LOSS OF SENIORITY RIGHTS AND BENEFITS AND PAYMENT OF
BACKWAGES, 1[3]th MONTH PAY AND TWO (2) DAYS SALARY.18
Petitioners argue that the conclusion of the CA that no sufficient proof of financial losses
on the part of CLARION was adduced is patently erroneous, given the serious business
reverses it had gravely suffered as reflected in its financial statements/balance sheets,
thereby leaving as its only option the retrenchment of its employees including Miclat.19
Petitioners further argue that when a company is under receivership and a receiver is
appointed to take control of its management and corporate affairs, one of the evident
reasons is to prevent further losses of said company and protect its remaining assets from
being dissipated; and that the submission of financial reports/statements prepared by
independent auditors had been rendered moot and academic, the company having
shutdown its operations and having been placed under receivership by the SEC due to its
inability to pay or comply with its obligations.20
Respecting the CA's holding that the financial statements CLARION submitted for the
first time on appeal before the NLRC are inadmissible in evidence due to its failure to
explain the delay in the submission thereof, petitioners lament the CA's failure to
consider that technical rules on evidence prevailing in the courts are not controlling in
proceedings before the NLRC which may consider evidence such as documents and
affidavits submitted by the parties for the first time on appeal.21
As to the CA's holding that CLARION failed to prove the exhaustion of less drastic
measures short of retrenching, petitioners advance that prior to the termination of Miclat,
CLARION, together with the other companies under the EYCO Group of Companies,
was placed under receivership during which drastic measures to continue business
operations of the company and eventually rehabilitate itself were implemented.22
Denying Miclat's entitlement to backwages, petitioners proffer that her dismissal rested
upon a valid and authorized cause. And petitioners assail as grossly erroneous the award
of 13th month pay to Miclat, she not having sought it and, therefore, there was no
jurisdiction to award the same.23
The petition is partly meritorious.
Contrary to the CA's ruling, petitioners could present evidence for the first time on appeal
to the NLRC. It is well-settled that the NLRC is not precluded from receiving evidence,
even for the first time on appeal, because technical rules of procedure are not binding in

labor cases.
The settled rule is that the NLRC is not precluded from receiving evidence on appeal as
technical rules of evidence are not binding in labor cases. In fact, labor officials are
mandated by the Labor Code to use every and all reasonable means to ascertain the facts
in each case speedily and objectively, without regard to technicalities of law or
procedure, all in the interest of due process. Thus, in Lawin Security Services v. NLRC,
and Bristol Laboratories Employees' Association-DFA v. NLRC, we held that even if the
evidence was not submitted to the labor arbiter, the fact that it was duly introduced on
appeal to the NLRC is enough basis for the latter to be more judicious in admitting the
same, instead of falling back on the mere technicality that said evidence can no longer be
considered on appeal. Certainly, the first course of action would be more consistent with
equity and the basic notions of fairness. (Italics in the original; citations omitted)24
It is likewise well-settled that for retrenchment to be justified, any claim of actual or
potential business losses must satisfy the following standards: (1) the losses are
substantial and not de minimis; (2) the losses are actual or reasonably imminent; (3) the
retrenchment is reasonably necessary and is likely to be effective in preventing expected
losses; and (4) the alleged losses, if already incurred, or the expected imminent losses
sought to be forestalled, are proven by sufficient and convincing evidence.25 And it is the
employer who has the onus of proving the presence of these standards.
Sections 5 and 6 of Presidential Decree No. 902-A (P.D. 902-A) ("reorganization of the
securities and exchange commission with additional powers and placing said agency
under the administrative supervision of the office of the president"),26 as amended, read:
SEC. 5 In addition to the regulatory and adjudicative functions of THE SECURITIES
AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION over corporations, partnerships and other forms of
associations registered with it as expressly granted under existing laws and decrees, it
shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction to hear and decide cases involving:
xxx
(d) Petitions of corporations, partnerships or associations declared in the state of
suspension of payments in cases where the corporation, partnership or association
possesses sufficient property to cover all debts but foresees the impossibility of
meeting them when they respectively fall due or in cases where the corporation,
partnership, association has no sufficient assets to cover its liabilities, but is under
the management of a Rehabilitation Receiver or Management Committee created
pursuant to this Decree.
SEC. 6. In order to effectively exercise such jurisdiction, the Commission shall possess
the following powers:
xxx
(c) To appoint one or more receivers of the property, real and personal, which is the
subject of the action pending before the Commission in accordance with the provisions of
the Rules of Court in such other cases whenever necessary in order to preserve the rights
of the parties-litigants and/or protect the interest of the investing public and creditors:
Provided, however, That the Commission may in appropriate cases, appoint a
rehabilitation receiver of corporations, partnerships or other associations not

supervised or regulated by other government agencies who shall have, in addition to


powers of the regular receiver under the provisions of the Rules of Court, such
functions and powers as are provided for in the succeeding paragraph (d) hereof: x
xx
(d) To create and appoint a management committee, board or body upon petition or motu
propio to undertake the management of corporations, partnership or other associations not
supervised or regulated by other government agencies in appropriate cases when there is
imminent danger of dissipation, loss, wastage or destruction of assets or other
properties or paralization of business operations of such corporations or entities
which may be prejudicial to the interest of minority stockholders, parties-litigants of
the general public: x x x (Emphasis and underscoring supplied).
From the above-quoted provisions of P.D. No. 902-A, as amended, the appointment of a
receiver or management committee by the SEC presupposes a finding that, inter alia, a
company possesses sufficient property to cover all its debts but "foresees the
impossibility of meeting them when they respectively fall due" and "there is imminent
danger of dissipation, loss, wastage or destruction of assets of other properties or
paralization of business operations."
That the SEC, mandated by law to have regulatory functions over corporations,
partnerships or associations,27 appointed an interim receiver for the EYCO Group of
Companies on its petition in light of, as quoted above, the therein enumerated "factors
beyond the control and anticipation of the management" rendering it unable to meet its
obligation as they fall due, and thus resulting to "complications and problems . . . to arise
that would impair and affect [its] operations . . ." shows that CLARION, together with the
other member-companies of the EYCO Group of Companies, was suffering business
reverses justifying, among other things, the retrenchment of its employees.
This Court in fact takes judicial notice of the Decision 28 of the Court of Appeals dated
June 11, 2000 in CA-G.R. SP No. 55208, "Nikon Industrial Corp., Nikolite Industrial
Corp., et al. [including CLARION], otherwise known as the EYCO Group of Companies
v. Philippine National Bank, Solidbank Corporation, et al., collectively known and
referred as the 'Consortium of Creditor Banks,' " which was elevated to this Court via
Petition for Certiorari and docketed as G.R. No. 145977, but which petition this Court
dismissed by Resolution dated May 3, 2005:
Considering the joint manifestation and motion to dismiss of petitioners and respondents
dated February 24, 2003, stating that the parties have reached a final and comprehensive
settlement of all the claims and counterclaims subject matter of the case and accordingly,
agreed to the dismissal of the Petition for Certiorari, the Court Resolved to DISMISS the
Petition for Certiorari (Underscoring supplied).
The parties in G.R. No. 145977 having sought, and this Court having granted, the
dismissal of the appeal of the therein petitioners including CLARION, the CA decision
which affirmed in toto the September 14, 1999 Order of the SEC, the dispositive portion
of which SEC Order reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is as it is hereby, granted and the Order
dated 18 December 1998 is set aside. The Petition to be Declared in State of Suspension
of payments is hereby disapprovedand the SAC Plan terminated. Consequently, all

committee, conservator/ receivers created pursuant to said Order are dissolved and
discharged and all acts and orders issued therein are vacated.
The Commission, likewise, orders the liquidation and dissolution of the appellee
corporations. The case is hereby remanded to the hearing panel below for that purpose.
x x x (Emphasis and underscoring supplied),
has now become final and executory. Ergo, the SEC's disapproval of the EYCO Group of
Companies' "Petition for the Declaration of Suspension of Payment . . ." and the order for
the liquidation and dissolution of these companies including CLARION, must be deemed
to have been unassailed.
That judicial notice can be taken of the above-said case of Nikon Industrial Corp. et al. v.
PNB et al., there should be no doubt.
As provided in Section 1, Rule 129 of the Rules of Court:
SECTION 1. Judicial notice, when mandatory. - A court shall take judicial notice,
without the introduction of evidence, of the existence and territorial extent of states, their
political history, forms of government and symbols of nationality, the law of nations, the
admiralty and maritime courts of the world and their seals, the political constitution and
history of the Philippines, the official acts of thelegislative, executive and judicial
departments of the Philippines, the laws of nature, the measure of time, and the
geographical divisions. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)rllbrr
which Mr. Justice Edgardo L. Paras interpreted as follows:
A court will take judicial notice of its own acts and records in the same case, of facts
established in prior proceedings in the same case, of the authenticity of its own records of
another case between the same parties, of the files of related cases in the same court,
and of public records on file in the same court. In addition judicial notice will be taken
of the record, pleadings or judgment of a case in another court between the same parties
or involving one of the same parties, as well as of the record of another case between
different parties in the same court. Judicial notice will also be taken of court personnel.
(Emphasis and underscoring supplied)29
In fine, CLARION's claim that at the time it terminated Miclat it was experiencing
business reverses gains more light from the SEC's disapproval of the EYCO Group of
Companies' petition to be declared in state of suspension of payment, filed before
Miclat's termination, and of the SEC's consequent order for the group of companies'
dissolution and liquidation.
This Court's finding that Miclat's termination was justified notwithstanding, since at the
time she was hired on probationary basis she was not informed of the standards that
would qualify her as a regular employee, under Section 6, Rule I of the Implementing
Rules of Book VI of the Labor Code which reads:
SEC. 6. Probationary employment. There is probationary employment where the
employee, upon his engagement, is made to undergo a trial period during which the
employer determines his fitness to qualify for regular employment, based on reasonable
standards made known to him at the time of engagement.
"Probationary employment shall be governed by the following rules:

xxx
(d) In all cases of probationary employment, the employer shall make known to the
employee the standards under which he will qualify as a regular employee at the
time of his engagement. Where no standards are made known to the employee at that
time, he shall be deemed a regular employee" (Emphasis and underscoring supplied),
she was deemed to have been hired from day one as a regular employee.30
CLARION, however, failed to comply with the notice requirement provided for in Article
283 of the Labor Code, to wit:
ART. 283. CLOSURE OF ESTABLISHMENT AND REDUCTION OF PERSONNEL.
'The employer may also terminate the employment of any employee due to the
installation of labor saving devices, redundancy, retrenchment to prevent losses or the
closing or cessation of operation of the establishment or undertaking unless the closing is
for the purpose of circumventing the provisions of this Title, by serving a written notice
on the worker and the Ministry of Labor and Employment at least one (1) month
before the intended date thereof. x x x (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)rl
lbrr
This Court thus deems it proper to award the amount equivalent to Miclat's one (1) month
salary of P6,500.00 as nominal damages to deter employers from future violations of the
statutory due process rights of employees.31
Since Article 283 of the Labor Code also provides that "[i]n case of retrenchment to
prevent losses, . . . the separation pay shall be equivalent to one (1) month pay or at least
one-half (1/2) month pay for every year of service, whichever is higher. . ., [a] fraction
of at least six (6) months [being] considered one (1) whole year," this Court holds that
Miclat is entitled to separation pay equivalent to one (1) month salary.
As to Miclat's entitlement to 13th month pay, paragraph 6 of the Revised Guidelines on
the 13th Month Pay Law provides:
6. 13th Month Pay of Resigned or Separated Employee
An employee x x x whose services were terminated any time before the time for payment
of the 13th month pay is entitled to this monetary benefit in proportion to the length of
time he worked during the calendar year up to the time of his resignation or termination
from the service. Thus if he worked only from January up to September his proportionate
13th month pay shall be equivalent to 1/12 of his total basic salary he earned during that
period.
xxx
Having worked at CLARION for six months, Miclat's 13th month pay should be
computed as follows:
(Monthly Salary x 6) / 12 = Proportionate 13th month pay
(P6,500.00 x 6) / 12 = P3,250.00
With the appointment of a management receiver in September 1997, however, all claims
and proceedings against CLARION, including labor claims,32 were deemed suspended
during the existence of the receivership.33 The labor arbiter, the NLRC, as well as the CA

should not have proceeded to resolve respondent's complaint for illegal dismissal and
should instead have directed respondent to lodge her claim before the then dulyappointed receiver of CLARION. To still require respondent, however, at this time to
refile her labor claim against CLARION under the peculiar circumstances of the case that 8 years have lapsed since her termination and that all the arguments and defenses of
both parties were already ventilated before the labor arbiter, NLRC and the CA; and that
CLARION is already in the course of liquidation - this Court deems it most expedient
and advantageous for both parties that CLARION's liability be determined with finality,
instead of still requiring respondent to lodge her claim at this time before the liquidators
of CLARION which would just entail a mere reiteration of what has been already argued
and pleaded. Furthermore, it would be in the best interest of the other creditors of
CLARION that claims against the company be finally settled and determined so as to
further expedite the liquidation proceedings. For the lesser number of claims to be
proved, the sooner the claims of all creditors of CLARION are processed and settled.
WHEREFORE, the Court of Appeals November 24, 2000 Decision, together with its
May 23, 2001 Resolution, is SET ASIDE and another rendered declaring the legality of
the dismissal of respondent, Michelle Miclat. Petitioners are ORDERED, however, to
PAY her the following in accordance with the foregoing discussions:
1) P6,500.00 as nominal damages for non-compliance with statutory due process;
2) P6,500.00 as separation pay; and
3) P3,250.00 as 13th month pay.
Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the SEC Hearing Panel charged with the
liquidation and dissolution of petitioner corporation for inclusion, in the list of claims of
its creditors, respondent Michelle Miclat's claims, to be satisfied in accordance with
Article 110 of the Labor Code in relation to the Civil Code provisions on Concurrence
and Preference of Credits.
Costs against petitioners.
SO ORDERED.
[G.R. No. 119288. August 18, 1997]
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS,
petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS and JOSEFA GACOT, respondents.
RESOLUTION
VITUG, J.:
The Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Director of Lands, prays in the instant
petition for review on certiorari for the annulment of the decision, dated 22 February
1995, of the Court of Appeals affirming the 12th August 1993 judgment of the Regional
Trial Court of Palawan (Branch 50-Puerto Princesa) which has adjudicated Lot No. 5367
in Cadastral Case No. 13, GLRO Cadastral Record No. 1133, to herein private
respondent, now deceased Josefa Gacot, the claimant in the cadastral case.
The antecedents are amply summarized in the appealed decision of the Court of Appeals,
viz:

"The entire lot 5367 is being claimed by Josefa Gacot as per answer she filed on June 7,
1971. It appears from the record that the lot is located in Barangay Los Angeles,
Magsaysay, Palawan but the area was not indicated. It also appeared that Ceferino
Sabenacio is her co-owner.
This case was set for hearing on August 9, 1990 and the petitioner was represented by
Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Reynaldo Guayco and Rogelio Paglinawan, Community
Environment and Natural Resources Officer (CENRO) of Puerto Princesa City while the
claimant appeared without counsel. In view thereof, the hearing was reset to August 13,
1990. Before the scheduled hearing on August 13, 1990, the Court received a report from
the Land Registration Authority calling the Court's attention of the decision rendered by
Judge Lorenzo Garlitos on October 20, 1950 declaring this lot as property of the Republic
of the Philippines. Despite this declaration however, the petitioner nor the government
did not bar the claimant from filing her answer, possessing and occupying the lot and in
fact accepted her tax payments and issuing her tax declaration on the same.
The claimant presented herself as witness as well as her son, Vicente Dantic, Jr. The
witnesses testified that Josefa Gacot was married to Vicente Dantic, Sr. in 1940 and were
in actual possession of the property for more than 30 years, having bought the same from
Cipriana Dantic-Llanera as per deed of sale dated April 22, 1955 in Cuyono dialect
(Exhibit `1 and 1-A). Since she acquired the property from Cipriana Llanera, she
continued her occupation and introduced improvements thereon as well as declared Lot
5367 for taxation purposes in her name (Exhibit 2) and paid the corresponding taxes
thereon up to the present time (Exhibit 3). That claimant is now a widow and has 5
children namely, Hernando Dantic, Antero Dantic, Felipe Dantic, Fe Dantic and Vicente
Dantic, Jr.
Cipriano Sabenacio, the alleged co-owner of claimant Josefa Gacot appeared in Court
and manifested that he is waiving his claim over Lot 5367 in favor of Josefa Gacot who is
in actual possession of the property as he is only a boundary owner.
After the presentation of claimant and her son, they offered their exhibits and rested
their case. Thereafter, the petitioner thru counsel manifested that it is not presenting
controverting evidence and is submitting the case for resolution.[1]
On 05 September 1990, the trial court rendered judgment adjudicating Lot No. 5367 to
Josefa Gacot, thus "WHEREFORE, this Court finds the claim of Josefa Gacot Dantic to be in order.
Accordingly, Lot 5367 is hereby adjudicated to Josefa Gacot-Dantic, widow and a
resident of Barangay Los Angeles, Magsaysay, Palawan with all the improvements
thereon, subject to the estate tax as provided by law."
"SO ORDERED."[2]
The Republic, through the Solicitor General, elevated the case to the Court of Appeals.
During the pendency of the appeal, the Office of the Solicitor General was able to verify
that Lot 5367 was earlier declared to be the property of the Republic in a decision
rendered by Judge Lorenzo Garlitos on 20 October 1950 following an order of general
default. The Solicitor General thus filed a motion with the appellate court to have the case
reopened and remanded to the court a quo to allow the Republic of the Philippines to

present the decision of Judge Garlitos. In its resolution, dated 26 December 1991, the
Court of Appeals granted the motion.
What transpired thereafter was narrated by the trial court in its 12th August 1993
decision; viz:
This case was set for hearing several times for the government to present its evidence
and for the parties to submit their respective memorandum in support of their respective
stand on the matter. The claimant submitted her memorandum while the government
represented by the Assistant Provincial Prosecutor assigned to this sala has not presented
any witness to support the governments claim, neither has he submitted any
memorandum to support the governments stand on this matter.
With the foregoing development, the Court is of the opinion that the subsequent
application or claim of Josefa Gacot-Dantic on Lot 5367 which became part of the public
domain where her occupation thereto having been open to the whole world, public and
notorious in the concept of an owner since 38 years ago was well taken and therefore
entitled to the lawful adjudication of Lot 5367 in her name. Besides, the government
represented by the Assistant Provincial Prosecutor and the Community Environment and
Natural Resources Officer (CENRO) for Puerto Princesa City and Cuyo, Palawan have
not made any protest nor interposed any objection on the claim of Josefa Gacot during
the hearings. Neither was there a manifestation of protest or claim of government use
coming from the municipal officials of Magsaysay, Palawan despite notice sent to them
of the cadastral hearing. And the sad part was that the government had accepted without
any protest all the taxes due the property paid by the claimant religiously. This is not to
say that this order has been considered in the previous decision of this Court which is
hereunder quoted as follows:
x x x x x x x x x
With this finding of the Court, it is its considered opinion and so holds, that there is no
reason to disturb its previous decision aforequoted."[3]
An appeal was taken by the Republic from the decision of the trial court. In its now
assailed decision of 22 February 1995, the Court of Appeals affirmed in toto the
judgment of the trial court. The appellate court ratiocinated:
In its brief, the Office of the Solicitor General claims that `records of the re-hearing
show that on October 20, 1950, an order was, indeed, issued by Judge Lorenzo C.
Garlitos of the Court of First Instance of Palawan, 7th Judicial District, declaring that Lot
No. 5367 was among lots declared as property of the Republic of the Philippines. (p. 3,
Appellants Brief; p. 19, Rec.) It now invokes Republic Act No. 931, approved on June
30, 1953 and Republic Act No. 2061, which took effect on June 30, 1958, both laws
setting the time limits for the filing of applications, among other things, for the reopening
of judicial proceedings on certain lands which were declared public land. Under R.A.
2061, the time for filing an application shall not extend beyond December 31, 1968.
Thus, petitioner-appellant argues that since claimant-appellee Josefa Gacot filed her
answer only on 07 June 1971, the court a quo did not acquire jurisdiction over the instant
claim since she did not file her answer within the period fixed by R.A. No. 2061.
This would be true, if the Order dated 20 October 1950 of Judge Lorenzo Garlitos
declaring Lot No. 5367 as property of the Republic of the Philippines, was presented as

evidence in the rehearing of this case. Unfortunately, the Republic of the Philippines
failed to offer as its exhibit the said order. There is no basis for the appellant, therefore, to
invoke R.A. 2061, to support its claim that claimant-appellee Josefa Gacot filed her
answer beyond the period fixed by said law and therefore the court a quo did not acquire
jurisdiction over the case.
Precisely, the purpose of the rehearing was to enable the Republic of the Philippines,
thru the Office of the Solicitor General, to present in evidence the said order. The
Solicitor General, in its Motion dated 21 May 1991, prayed that with regards to Lot No.
5367 `the proceedings therein be ordered reopened and the same be remanded to the court
a quo to enable the Republic of the Philippines to present the judgment dated October 20,
1950 of Judge Lorenzo Garlitos declaring Lot No. 5367 as government property. (pp. 3031, Rollo) [Underlines Ours]
This Court granted the motion and ordered the records of the case remanded to the court
a quo for further proceedings to enable the government to present in evidence the
judgment dated October 20, 1950, declaring Lot No. 5367 as government property x x x.
(p. 42, Rollo) [Underlines Ours]
During the rehearing, however, the Government failed to present the said order of Judge
Garlitos in evidence. Thus, the court a quo said in its appealed decision:
This case was set for hearing several times for the government to present its evidence
and for the parties to submit their respective memoranda in support of their respective
stand on the matter. The claimant submitted her memorandum while the government
represented by the Assistant Provincial Prosecutor has not presented any witness to
present the governments claim neither has he submitted any memorandum to support the
governments stand on this matter. (see p. 92, Rollo) [Underlines Ours]
It is the rule that `The court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally
offered. (Rule 132, Sec. 34) It is true that the Order of 20 October 1950 has been
appended to the records of this case (see p. 19, Rec.). But it is misleading on the part of
the Solicitor General to state that `Records of the rehearing show that on October 20,
1950, an order was, indeed, issued by Judge Lorenzo C. Garlitos x x x. For, during the
rehearing, as reflected in the appealed decision, the government did not present any
evidence nor any memorandum despite having been ordered by the court a quo.
Neither can We take judicial notice of the Order of Judge Garlitos. As a general rule,
courts are not authorized to take judicial knowledge of the contents of the record of other
cases, in the adjudication of cases pending before them, even though the trial judge in
fact knows or remembers the contents thereof, or even when said other cases have been
heard or are pending in the same court and notwithstanding the fact that both cases may
have been heard or are really pending before the same judge. (Municipal Council vs.
Colegio de San Jose, et al., G.R. No. L-45460; 31 C.J.S. 623-624; cited in p. 25,
Evidence, Second Ed.; R.J. Francisco) Indeed, the Government missed its opportunity to
have the claim of Josefa Gacot, the herein appellee, declared as a nullity, considering that
no evidence was presented by it in opposition thereto.[4]
In the instant petition, the Republic, assigning a sole error, contends that THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS (HAS) ERRED IN RULING THAT
THERE IS NO BASIS FOR PETITIONER TO INVOKE R.A. No. 2061 TO SUPPORT

ITS CLAIM THAT JOSEFA GACOT FILED HER ANSWER BEYOND THE PERIOD
FIXED BY THE SAID LAW AND THEREFORE THE TRIAL COURT DID NOT
ACQUIRE JURISDICTION OVER THE CASE, SINCE IT (HAS) FAILED TO OFFER
AS ITS EXHIBIT THE ORDER, DATED OCTOBER 20, 1950 OF JUDGE LORENZO
GARLITOS.[5]
The Solicitor General explains that the records of the reopened case would show that a
certified copy of the decision, dated 20 October 1950, of Judge Garlitos has been
appended to page 19 thereof. It is not evident, however, why the Assistant Provincial
Prosecutor and the Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer ("CENRO")
for Puerto Princesa, representing the government during the rehearing, did not present it.
The Solicitor General, nevertheless, invokes the rule that the Republic is not estopped by
the mistake or error on the part of its officials or agents.
In the meantime, Josefa Gacot passed away. The Solicitor General thereupon moved that
the heirs of Josefa Gacot be impleaded party respondents in substitution for the deceased.
The motion was granted, and the heirs were directed to comment on the governments
petition.
To this day, private respondents have not submitted their comment. The Court, however,
cannot allow the case to remain pending and unresolved indefinitely. It must now
dispense, as it hereby dispenses, with such comment in order not to unduly delay the
remand of the case to the trial court for further proceedings.
Let it initially be said that, indeed, the Court realizes the points observed by the appellate
court over which there should be no quarrel. Firstly, that the rules of procedure[6] and
jurisprudence,[7] do not sanction the grant of evidentiary value,[8] in ordinary trials,[9]
of evidence which is not formally offered, and secondly, that adjective law is not to be
taken lightly for, without it, the enforcement of substantive law may not remain assured.
The Court must add, nevertheless, that technical rules of procedure are not ends in
themselves but primarily devised and designed to help in the proper and expedient
dispensation of justice. In appropriate cases, therefore, the rules may have to be so
construed[10] liberally as to meet and advance the cause of substantial justice.
Furthermore, Section 1, Rule 129, of the Rules of Court provides:
SECTION 1. Judicial notice, when mandatory. - A court shall take judicial notice,
without the introduction of evidence, of the existence and territorial extent of states, their
political history, forms of government and symbols of nationality, the law of nations, the
admiralty and maritime courts of the world and their seals, the political constitution and
history of the Philippines, the official acts of the legislative, executive and judicial
departments of the Philippines, the laws of nature, the measure of time, and the
geographical divisions.
Mr. Justice Edgardo L. Paras[11] opined:
A court will take judicial notice of its own acts and records in the same case, of facts
established in prior proceedings in the same case, of the authenticity of its own records of
another case between the same parties, of the files of related cases in the same court, and
of public records on file in the same court. In addition judicial notice will be taken of the
record, pleadings or judgment of a case in another court between the same parties or
involving one of the same parties, as well as of the record of another case between

different parties in the same court. Judicial notice will also be taken of court
personnel.[12]
The remand of the case would likewise seem to be unavoidable. The area of Lot No. 5367
claimed and awarded to the late Josefa Gacot had not been specified in the records.
Indeed, on the basis of the Certification of the Forest Management Services of the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Lot No. 5367, per Land
Classification (LC) No. 1246 of 15 January 1936, would appear to contain an area of
394,043 square meters, 300,000 square meters of which were classified as Alienable and
Disposable land and 94,043 square meters as Timberland, which under Proclamation No.
2152, dated 29 December 1981, had been included to form part of the Mangrove Swamp
Forest Reserve, closed for entry, exploitation and settlement.[13]
It behooves all concerned that the above matters be carefully looked into, albeit with
reasonable dispatch, for the final resolution of this case.
WHEREFORE, the case is REMANDED to the trial court for further proceedings for it
to ascertain and resolve the conflicting claims of the parties conformably with the
foregoing opinion of the Court. No costs.
SO ORDERED.