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Serana vs. Sandiganbayan (G.R. No.

162059, January 22, 2005)

In relation to position; compensation not an essential public element of public office

1) Petition, Hanna Eunice D. Serena was a senior student of UP-Cebu and was appointed by Pres. Estrada
on December 21, 1999 as a student regent of UP, to serve a 1-year term starting January 1 December
31, 2000.
2) Serena discussed with Pres. Estrada the renovation of Vinzons Hall Annex in UP Diliman. On September 4,
2000, together with her siblings and relatives registered with SEC the Office of the Student Regent
Foundation, Inc. (OSFRI).
3) Pres. Estrada gave P15M to the OSFRI for the proposed renovation. The source of funds according to the
information was the Office of the President.
4) When the renovation failed to materialize, the succeeding student regent, Bugayong and Sec. Gen. of the
KASAMA sa UP (alliance of student councils within UP), De Guzman, filed a complaint for Malversation of
Public Funds and Property with the Office of the Ombudsman.
5) The Ombudsman, on July 3, 2003, found probable cause to indict Eunice and her brother Jade Ian D.
Serana for estafa.
6) Based on the information, Jade encashed the check and misappropriated for their personal used and
benefit, and despite repeated demands made, the accused failed to return the P15M.
7) Petitioner moved to quash the information and posited that the Sandiganbayan had no jurisdiction over
her person. As a student regent, she was not a public officer since she merely represented her peers, in
contrast to the other regents who held their positions in an ex officio capacity. She added that she was a
simple student and did not receive any salary as a student regent.
Issue: Did the respondent court (Sandignabayan) commit grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack and/or
excess of jurisdiction in not quashing the information and dismissing the case although it has no jurisdiction over
the offense charged in the information?
Discussion: No, it did not. The Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the offense of estafa and has jurisdiction
over the petitioner although she contends that she is not a public office since she does not receive any salary or
remuneration as a UP student regent.
1) Petitioner claims that she is not a public office with Salary Grade 27 BUT, it is not on the salary grade that
determines the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. The Sandiganbayan also has jurisdiction over other
officers enumerated in P.D. No. 1606, Section 4(A)(1)(g):
Presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of government-owned or controlled corporations, state
universities or educational institutions or foundations
2) Petitioner falls under this category. As the Sandiganbayan pointed out, the BOR performs the functions
similar to those of a board of trustees of a non-stock corporation. By express mandate of law, petitioner
is a public officer as contemplated by P.D. No. 1606. Additionally, it is well established that compensation
is not an essential element of public office. At most, it is merely incidental to the public office.
3) Delegation of sovereign functions is essential in the public office. An investment in an individual of some
portion of the sovereign functions of the government, to be exercised by him for the benefit of the public
makes one a public officer. The administration of the UP is a sovereign function in line with Article XIV of
the Constitution.
Ruling: Petition is DENIED for lack of merit.

People vs. Olivo (G.R. No. 177768, July 27, 2009)

Failure to identify the perpetrator

1) The Court of Appeals and RTC of Quezon City found the accused-appellants Charmen Olivo, Nelson
Danda and Joey Zafra guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of robbery with homicide.
2) Olivo, Danda and Zafra armed with guns forcibly entered the hardware store of Mariano Constatino. They
declared a hold-up and ordered Maricel Permejo, storekeeper, at gunpoint to give them the money of the
store. They also shot Constantino, the owner, on the trunk and extremities causing his immediate death.
3) The accused-appellants appealed that the prosecution failed to prove their guilt beyond reasonable dout
and argued the following:
a. The prosecution relied mainly on the testimony of the alleged witness Maricel and that she did
not point to them as malefactors and she only did so upon the instruction given in Camp
b. They pointed out that they were invited allegedly for violation of the anti-drugs law and were
charged with a different crime.
c. While Maricel claimed she saw Zafra take the money from the cash register, she did not see how
and who killed Mariano.
4) The prosecution argues that the findings of the trial court are generally upheld on appeal and the
accused-appellants are assailing the correctness of the findings of the fact of the trial court by impugning
the credibility of the witness, Maricel.
Issue: Did the Court a quo gravely err in convicting the accused-appellants Olivo and Danda of the crime
charged despite the failure of the prosecution to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt?
Discussion: Yes, it did. The trial court misconstrued and misapplied facts and circumstances of the case,
warranting the modification or reversal of the outcome of the case. The trial court grievously erred when it ruled
that the lone prosecution witness categorically and positively identified accused-appellants as the perpetrators of
the crime
1) The material fact and circumstance that Maricel was not able to identify the accused-appellants as the
perpetrators of the crime. This circumstance was established during the direct examination of Olivo and
was not rebutted by the prosecution. (They asked the woman, [ito ba?] and the woman answered [he is
not the one sir).
2) It was only a few days after, when the accused-appellants were brought to Camp Karingal, that Maricel
was able to identify them as the perpetrators of the crime. (I saw the policemen teaching the woman. I
heard them sir. The police said [ituro mo na])
The fact that Maricel was not able to identify accused-appellant as the perpetrators of the crime impinges heavily
on the credibility of prosecutions evidence. For if, indeed, the accused-appellants were the malefactors of the
crime who did not hide their faces during the robbery, the eyewitness, who has such close, traumatic encounter
with them, should automatically have recalled their faces upon seeing them. It behoves this Court to declare that
she was not able to do so positively.
Ruling: Decisions of the Court of Appeals and RTC of Quezon City are REVERSED AND SET ASIDE. Accusedappellants Charmen Olivo and Nelson Danda are ACQUITTED of the crime charged on the ground of reasonable
doubt. Pursuant to Rule 122 of the Rules of Court, their co-accused Joey Zafra is declared entitled also to

People vs. Guillermo (420 SCRA 326/G.R. No. 1477786, January 20, 2004)
1) The case is an automatic review of the judgment of the RTC of Antipolo, finding appellant Eric Guillermo guilty
of murdering his employer Victor F. Keyser and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of death.
2) On March 22, 1998, prosecution witness Romualdo Campos, a security guard assigned to Greatmore Corp. (a
manufacturer of faucets sharing the same building with Keyser Plastics), saw Eric Guillermo, an employee of
Keyser entered the premises. An hour later, he saw Victor F. Keyser arrived.
3) At round 10am, Campos heard some loud noises coming from the Keyser area but ignored it. At around
noontime, Guillermo looked through the holes in the dividing wall and calmly told Campos that he killed Keyser.
Eric asked for his assistance to help him carry the corpse to the garbage dump so he could burn it. Campos
then called the police to report the incident.
4) 10 minutes later, a team from the PNP-Antipolo arrived. The convinced Eric to give them the keys to the Keyser
Plastics gate. Eric told them that hell surrender and that he bashed the victim on the head with the piece of
wood, and after Keyser fell; he dismembered the body with a carpenter saw. When asked what as to his
motive for killing, Eric replied that Keyser had been maltreating him and his co-employees. He said Keyser had
not pain him for years, did not feed him and treated him like an animal. He expressed no regret whatsoever
about his actions.
5) At the trial, the defense consisted of outright denial. He alleged that he was a victim of a police frame-up. He
said he was then brought to the police station where he was advised to admit having killed his employer.
6) Appellant contends that his conviction was based on inadmissible evidence. He points out that he was not
informed of his constitutional rights nor was he made to understand the same by the police investigators. He
says he was only made to read said rights printed form posed on the wall at the police precinct. He was not
provided with the services of counsel during the custodial investigation, as admitted by SPO1 Reyes.
Issue: Did the Court a quo gravely err in finding that the guilt of the accused-appellant for the crime of murder has
been proven beyond reasonable doubt?
Discussion: Yes, but only when it admits the alleged confession of Guillermo to the police. However, the prosecution
has amply proven the appellants guilt in killing Keyser with the following: a) spontaneous and out-of-court admissions
he made to Campos and the two media reports, Abelgas and David and b) the positive evidence, including the
instruments of the crime, together with the medical evidence and testimonies of credible prosecution witness.
1) The OSG contends that not every statement made to the police by a suspect in a crime falls within the ambit of
constitutional protection. Hence, if not made under custodial investigation or under investigation for the
commission of an offense, the statement is not protected by the Bill of Rights.
In the Courts view, however, the confession Eric made while he was under investigation by SPO1 Reyes falls
short of the protective standards as laid down by the Constitution.
Under Article III of the Constitution, a confession to be admissible must satisfy the following requisites: (a) the
confession must be voluntary; (b) the confession must be made with the assistance of competent and
independent counsel; (c) the confession must be express; and (d) the confession must be in writing. In the
instant case, the testimony of SPO1 Reyes on cross-examination clearly shows the cavalier treatment by the
police of said constitutional guarantees.
2) Appellants alleged confession at the police station lacks the safeguards required by the Bill of Rights. The
investigating officer made no serious effort to make appellant aware of his basic rights under custodial
investigation. While the investigating officer was aware of the appellants right to be represented by counsel,
the officer exerted no effort to provide him with one on the flimsy excuse that it was a Sunday. Despite the
absence of counsel, the officer proceeded with said investigation.
Moreover, the record is bare of any showing that appellant had waived his constitutional rights in writing and in
the presence of counsel. As well said in People v. Dano, even if the admission or confession of an accused is
gospel truth, if it was made without the assistance of counsel, it is inadmissible in evidence regardless of the
absence of coercion or even if it had been voluntarily given.
Ruling: The assailed judgment of the RTC of Antipolo City, finding Eric Guillermo GUILTY of the murder of Victor
Francisco Keyser is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Appellants sentence is hereby REDUCED to RECLUSION
PERPETUA. He is also ordered to pay the heirs of the victim.

People vs. Bermas (306 SCRA 135/ G.R. No. 120420, April 21, 1999)

Rufino Bermas was found guilty of raping her 15 year old daughter, Manuela, and was sentence to suffer the penalty of the
death. The case has reaches the Court by way of automatic review.
Bermas denied the charge, and that of his other daughter, Luzviminda Mendez, who attributed the accusation made by her
younger sister to a mere resentment.
It appeared that on August 8, 1994, Manuela, assisted by her mother, executed a sworn statement that she had been raped
by her father in 1991, 1993 and August 3, 1994. The Second Assistant Prosecutor, issued a certification to the effect that
the accused had waives his right to a preliminary investigation.
On the day of the arraignment, the accused was brought before the trail court without counsel. The court assigned Atty.
Rosa Elmira Villamin (PAO) to be the counsel de officio. Accused pleaded not guilty and the pre-trial was waived.
During the initial reception of evidence, the defense counsel waived the cross-examination of the complainant and then
asked the court to be relieved of her duty as counsel de officio. (Her reason: She could not give justice to the accused
because she is a lady lawyer)
Atty. Roberto Gomez, who barely had time to prepare, was appointed by the trial court to be the defense counsel de officio.
He was recommended by Atty. Villamin to substitute her.
During the reception of the defense evidence on January 9, 1995, Atty. Gomez failed to appear. He also repeatedly failed to
appear to defend the accused, thus the Court appointed, Atty. Nicanor Lonzame as the counsel de officio. Atty. Lonzame
also ceased to appear for Bermas on the succeeding trials.

Issue: Was the accused denied of his constitutional right to effective and vigilant counsel?
1) The trial court did not observe the correct selection process in appointing the accuseds counsel de office;
2) The Public Attorney could not give justice to the accused and was negligent in not moving:
a. To quash the information on the ground of illegal arrest
b. To quash the information on the ground of invalid filing of the information
c. For a preliminary investigation
d. In not pointing out the unexplained change in the case number
e. To inhibit the judge
f. Negligent in her conduct at the initial trial
3) The Vanishing Second Counsel de Officio
a. He was not dedicated nor devoted to the accused
b. His work was shoddy
4) The Reluctant Third Counsel de Officio
5) The performance of all three counsels de officio was ineffective and prejudicial to the accused
Discussion: Yes, the accused was denied of constitutional right to effective and vigilant counsel. Under the 1987 Constitution, the
availability of the right to counsel as early as the stage of custodial interrogation is found in Sections 12 and 14, Article III.
The right to counsel must be more than just the presence of a lawyer in the courtroom or the mere propounding of standard
questions and objections. The right to counsel means that the accused is amply accorded legal assistance extended by a counsel who
commits himself to the cause for the defense and acts accordingly. The right assumes an active involvement by the lawyer in the
proceedings, particularly at the trial of the case, his bearing constantly in mind of the basic rights of the accused, his being wellversed on the case, and his knowing the fundamental procedures, essential laws and existing jurisprudence. The right of an accused
to counsel finds substance in the performance by the lawyer of his sworn duty of fidelity to his client. Tersely put, it means an
efficient and truly decisive legal assistance and not a simple perfunctory representation.
It is never enough that accused be simply informed of his right to counsel; he should also be asked whether he wants to avail himself
of one and should be told that he can hire a counsel of his own choice if he so desires or that one can be provided to him at his
request. Section 7, Rule 116, of the Rules of Criminal Procedure provides:
Sec. 7. Appointment of counsel de oficio. - The court, considering the gravity of the offense and the difficulty of the
questions that may arise, shall appoint as counsel de oficio only such members of the bar in good standing who, by reason
of their experience and ability may adequately defend the accused. But in localities where such members of the bar are not
available, the court may appoint any person, resident of the province and of good repute for probity and ability, to defend
the accused.
Ruling: Cases is REMANDED to the court a quo for trial on the basis of the complaint, aforequoted, under which he was arraigned.
Atty. Ricardo A. Fernandez, Jr. of the Anti-Death Penalty Task Force is hereby appointed counsel de officio for the appellant.
(Attys. Rosa Elmina Villamin, Roberto Gomez and Nicanor Lonzame are ADMONISHED by the Court.)

Tan vs. People (G.R. N0. 173637, April 21, 2009)

Failure to object may be deemed as waiver of right

1) The case is a Petition for Review on Certiorari. The assailed Decision reinstated as Criminal Case No.
119830, earlier dismissed by the trial court due to an alleged violation of petitioner Dante T. Tans right to
speedy trial. The assailed Resolution denied his Motion for Reconsideration and Motion to Inhibit.
2) On December 19, 2000, a Panel of Prosecutors of the DOJ filed three Information against Dante T. Tan
before the RTC-Pasig City:
a. Criminal Case No. 119830 allegation: Petitioner employed manipulative devises in the purchase of
Best World Resources Corporation (BW)
b. Criminal Case No. 119831 and 119832 allegation: Failure of petitioner to file with the SEC a
sworn statement of his beneficial ownership of BW shares.
c. Criminal Case No. 119828 and 119829, related cases filed against Jimmy Juan and Eduardo G.
Lim for violation of the Revised Securities Act involving BW shares of stock
3) The trial court granted DOJ Assistant Chief State Prosecutor Nilo C. Marianos Motion for Consolidation for
Criminal Cases Nos. 119830, 119831 and 119832 with Criminal Cases Nos. 119828 & 119829.
4) On December 2, 2003, petitioner Tan moved to dismiss Criminal Case No.119830 due to the Peoples
alleged failure to prosecuted and claimed that his right to speedy trial has been violated. According to
Tan, he was persistent in asserting his right to speedy trial, which he had allegedly done on several
5) The prosecution opposed the motioned insisting on its claim that the parties had an earlier agreement to
defer the trial of Criminal Case No. 119830 until after that of Criminal Cases No. 119831-832 which
involve similar offenses. The presentation of evidence and prosecution in each of the other five cases
were to be done separately.
6) RTC-Pasig Judge Yagna dismissed Case No. 119830 and ruled that the delays which attended the
proceedings of petitioners case were vexatious, capricious and oppressive resulting in violation of
petitioners right to speedy trial.
7) The case was elevated to the CA via a certiorari and was granted. The case is reinstated and the trial
court is ordered to conduct further proceedings.
Issue: Was Criminal Case No. 119830 correctly dismissed by the trail court on the ground of violation of Tans
right to speedy trial? (Was there vexatious, capricious and oppressive delay?)
Discussion: No, it was not correctly dismissed. There is insufficient ground to conclude that the prosecution is
guilty of violating petitioners right to speedy trial.
1) Four-factor test to determine whether there was vexatious, capricious and oppressive delay: a) duration
of the delay; b) reason therefore, c) assertion of the right or failure to assert it, and d) prejudiced cause
by such delay
a. For a period of almost 2 years and 8 months, both the prosecution and defense admit that no
evidence was presented for the said case.
b. No objection was interposed by Tans defense counsel at the preliminary hearing when the
prosecution manifested that the evidence to be presented would only be for Criminal Cases No.
2) The length of delay, complexity of the issues and his failure to invoke said right to speedy at the
appropriate time tolled the death knell on his claim to the constitutional guarantee. In failing to interpose
a timely objection to the prosecutions manifestation during the preliminary hearings that the cases be
tried separately, one after the other, the petitioner was deemed to have acquiesced and waived his
objection thereto.
Ruling: The petition is DISMISSED. The assailed February 22, 2006 Decision and July 17, 2006 Resolution issued
by the Court of Appeals are hereby AFFIRMED. The instant case is REMANDED to RTC-Pasig, Branch 153
for further proceedings in Criminal Case no. 119830 with reasonable dispatch.

People vs. Olvis (G.R. No. 71092, September 30, 1987)

Forced re-enactment of crime

1) The case is an appeal from the decision of the RTC-Zamboanga Del Norte imposing death sentences to
Romulo Villarojo, Leonardo Cademas and Dominador Sorela. (Anacleto Q. Olvis was acquitted.)
2) On September 9, 1975, Alfredo and Estrella Bagon, brother and sister, reported that Deosdedit Bagon
was missing.
a. Station Commander Capt. Ruperto Encabo led a search party and chanced upon an unnamed
volunteer, who informed them that Deosdedit was last seen together with Solera.
b. Solera bore scratches on his face, neck and arms when Capt. Encabo took the search party to the
rice field where Solera said he sustained the wounds while clearing it, he allegedly broke down
and confessed killing Deosdedit together with Villarojo and Cademas.
c. The 3 of them led Deosdedit in the secluded place in the rice field and Villarojo allegedly attacked
the victim with a bolo, hacking him until he was dead.
d. The police soon picked up the other two accused. Solera, Villarojo and Cademas were turned
over to Capt. Encabo and where then made to re-enact the crime. In the re-enactment, the 3
accused demonstrated how the victim was killed using the bolo.
e. While in custody, the 3 executed five separate written confessions. In their confessions of
September 9, 1975, September 14, 1975, September 21, 1975, and September 25, 1975, the
said accused again pointed to the then accused Anacleto Olvis as principal by inducement, who
allegedly promised them a reward of P3,000.00 each.
3) Olvis was acquitted (he was not questioned by the police and accused retracted their statements).
4) The accused-appellants subsequently repudiated their alleged confessions in open court alleging threats
by the Polanco investigators of physical harm if they refused to "cooperate" in the solution of the case.
They likewise alleged that they were instructed by the Polanco police investigators to implicate Anacieto
Olvis in the case.
Issue: Were the extrajudicial confessions (specifically, the fore re-enactment of the crime) of the accusedappellants admissible in evidence?
Discussion: No, these confessions are inadmissible in evidence. The accused-appellants were denied their right
to counsel a number of times, including the forced re-enactment performed shortly after their apprehension.
Forced re-enactments, like uncounselled and coerced confessions come within the ban against self- incrimination.
The 1973 Constitution prevailing at the time of the proceeding provides such privilege.
This constitutional privilege has been defined as a protection against testimonial compulsion, but this has since
been extended to any evidence "communicative in nature" acquired under circumstances of duress. Essentially,
the right is meant to "avoid and prohibit positively the repetition and recurrence of the certainly inhuman
procedure of competing a person, in a criminal or any other case, to furnish the missing evidence necessary for
his conviction." This was the lesson learned from the ancient days of the inquisition in which accusation was
equivalent to guilt. Thus, an act, whether testimonial or passive, that would amount to disclosure of incriminatory
facts is covered by the inhibition of the Constitution.
This should be distinguished, parenthetically, from mechanical acts the accused is made to execute not meant to
unearth undisclosed facts but to ascertain physical attributes determinable by simple observation. This includes
requiring the accused to submit to a test to extract virus from his body, or compelling him to expectorate
morphine from his mouth or making her submit to a pregnancy test or a foot printing test, or requiring him to
take part in a police lineup in certain cases." In each case, the accused does not speak his guilt. It is not a
prerequisite therefore that he be provided with the guiding hand of counsel.
Ruling: Judgment rendered is modified Cademas and Sorela are ACQUITTED on the ground of reasonable
doubt. Villarojo is found guilty of homicide.

People vs. Tambis (560 SCRA 343/ G.R. No. 124452, July 28, 1999)

Appeal opens entire case for review

1) The case is an automatic review of the decision of RTC-Carmen, Bohol convicting Pablito Tambis of
murder and sentencing him to the penalty of death.
2) On or about December 25, 1994 Tambis, armed with three bolos, hacked and beheaded Leonardo Tagsa,
who was physically handicapped. Tambis also went around the neighbourhood publicly displaying the
head of his victim. The incident was corroborated by two prosecution witnesses, Agapito Danos and
Edgar Regis.
3) Tambis admitted to the killing of the victim. When asked why he killed and beheaded the victim, he said
he was not aware of what he did.
4) Accused-appellant does not question his conviction; he questions the trial courts appreciation of the
mitigating and aggravating circumstances against him, leading to the imposition of the death penalty. He
claims that he should be meted only with the lesser penalty of reclusion perpetua.
Issue: Was there merit in the accused-appellants contention?
Discussion: Yes, there is.
1) An appeal in criminal case opens the entire case for review and the appellate court may correct even
unassigned errors the trial court erred in appreciating the mitigating circumstances of the case.
2) Accused-appellant is entitled to a reduction of the penalty due to the attendance of two mitigating
a. Voluntary surrender He surrendered the day following the incident, turned over himself and the
weapons used in the commission of the crime
b. Voluntary plea of guilty
Ruling: The decision of RTC-Carmen, Bohol convicting accused-appellant Pablito Tambis of murder is AFFIRMED
with MODIFICATION as to the death penalty imposed. In lieu of the death penalty, the accused is sentenced to
the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA, with the accessory penalties to indemnify the heirs of the victim.