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G.R NO 183830, October 19, 2011

FACTS: Caliso was charged with rape with homicide of AAA, a mentally-retarded 16-
year old girl, and sentenced him to death in its decision dated August 19, 2002. The event
transpired when 34-year old Soledad Amegable (Amegable) heard anguished cries of a
girl pleading for mercy came from an area with lush bamboo growth that made it difficult
for Amegable to see what was going on. The continued sounds of beating and mauling
made her hide behind a cluster of banana trees and there he saw a man wearing gray
short pants bearing the number 11 mark, who dragged a girls limp body into the river,
where he submerged the girl into the knee-high muddy water and stood over her body
and later lifted the limp body and tossed it to deeper water. Amegable could not have a
look at the face of the suspect the whole time because he always had his back turned
towards her. However, she insisted that the man was Caliso, whose physical features she
was familiar with due to having seen him pass by their barangay several times prior to the
incident. After the man fled the crime scene, Amagable told her husband what she
witnessed and he husband instantly reported the incident to the barangay chairman.
SPO3 Pancipanci and two other officers conducted investigation and Caliso was identified
by Amegable as AAA’s killer. Further, barangay chairman Bering attested that on the
occasion of Caliso’s arrest and his custodial interrogation, he heard Caliso admit to the
investigating police officer the ownership of the short pants recovered from the crime
scene. In his defense, Caliso denied the accusations and interposed an alibi, insisting
that on the day of the killing, he plowed the rice field of Alac Yangyang. Yangyang
corroborated Calisos alibi, recalling that Caliso had plowed his rice field from 8 am to
4 pm. He further recalled that Caliso was in his farm around 12:00 noon because he
brought lunch to Caliso. He conceded, however, that he was not aware where Caliso was
at the time of the killing.

RTC ruled against CALISO and sentenced him to death finding that the
identification by Amegable identification to Caliso as the killer of AAA reliable. On appeal,
the CA affirmed the decision of RTC. The CA also relied on the identification by Amegable
of Caliso, despite his back being turned towards her during the commission of the crime.
The CA ruled that she made a positive identification of Caliso as the perpetrator of the
killing, observing that the incident happened at noon when the sun had been at its
brightest, coupled with the fact that Amegables view had not been obstructed by any
object at the time that AAAs body had been submerged in the water; that the RTC
expressly found her testimony as clear and straightforward and worthy of credence; that
no reason existed why Amegable would falsely testify against Caliso; that Caliso did not
prove the physical impossibility for him to be at the crime scene or at its immediate vicinity
at the time of the incident, for both Barangay San Vicente, where AAAs body was found.

ISSUE: Whether or not Amegables identification of Caliso as the man who killed AAA
was positive and reliable and may convict Caliso of the crimes beyond reasonable doubt.
HELD: No. The Court held that in every criminal prosecution, the identity of the offender,
like the crime itself, must be established by proof beyond reasonable doubt. Indeed, the
first duty of the Prosecution is not to prove the crime but to prove the identity of the
criminal, for even if the commission of the crime can be established, there can be no
conviction without proof of identity of the criminal beyond reasonable doubt. The Court
considers the identification not reliable and beyond doubt as to meet the requirement of
moral certainty. The Court said Positive identification pertains essentially to proof of
identity and not per se to that of being an eyewitness to the very act of commission of the
crime. People v. Gallarde enunciated two types of positive witness to wit: (a) that by
direct evidence, through an eyewitness to the very commission of the act; and (b) that by
circumstantial evidence, such as where the accused is last seen with the victim
immediately before or after the crime. Direct evidence constitutes when a witness may
identify a suspect or accused in a criminal case as the perpetrator of the crime as an
eyewitness to the very act of the commission of the crime.
Whereas, circumstantial evidence is when although a witness may not have actually seen
the very act of commission of a crime, he may still be able to positively identify a suspect
or accused as the perpetrator of a crime as for instance when the latter is the person or
one of the persons last seen with the victim immediately before and right after the
commission of the crime.

Amegable asserted that she was familiar with Caliso because she had seen him
pass by in her barangay several times prior to the killing. Such assertion indicates that
she was obviously assuming that the killer was no other than Caliso. As matters stand,
therefore, Calisos conviction hangs by a single thread of evidence, the direct evidence of
Amegables identification of him as the perpetrator of the killing. But that single thread was
thin, and cannot stand sincere scrutiny. In every criminal prosecution, no less than moral
certainty is required in establishing the identity of the accused as the perpetrator of the
crime. The test to determine the moral certainty of an identification is its imperviousness
to skepticism on account of its distinctiveness. To achieve such distinctiveness, the
identification evidence should encompass unique physical features or characteristics, like
the face, the voice, the dentures, the distinguishing marks or tattoos on the body,
fingerprints, DNA, or any other physical facts that set the individual apart from the rest of
humanity. Hence, no matter how honest Amegables testimony might have been, her
identification of Caliso by a sheer look at his back for a few minutes could not be regarded
as positive enough to generate that moral certainty about Caliso being the perpetrator of
the killing, absent other reliable circumstances showing him to be AAAs killer. Her
identification of him in that manner lacked the qualities of exclusivity and uniqueness,
even as it did not rule out her being mistaken. Indeed, there could be somany other
individuals in the community where the crime was committed whose backs might have
looked like Calisos back.

In the absence of proof beyond reasonable doubt as to the identity of the culprit,
the accuseds constitutional right to be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved is
not overcome, and he is entitled to an acquittal

G.R. No. 137599 October 8, 2001

FACTS: Eddie Argueelles, a farmer, passed by a river on his way to Old Bunawan,
Tulunan, Cotabato. In the river, he saw two men – Gilbert and Liberato Baulite – washing
their bloodied hands. Eddie continued on his way after seeing them. Upon reaching the
road, he hear a boy shouting that somebody was found dead. Jonathan Cando, a civilian
volunteer, was on horseback crossing a river on his way to Bunawan. He heard a woman
crying "indi" "indi". He checked his left, and approximately six (6) meters away, he saw a
person mounting somebody, as if choking the one mounted. He went to the barangay
captain and related what he heard and saw. The barangay captain, however, dismissed
the incident, speculating that the two were "only sweethearts." Later in the afternoon, the
body of Delia Jacobo Lano, a public school teacher was found and it revealed that she
was punctured between her eyes, face were smashed and his neck was bruised. Further,
Vaginal smear test also found her positive for (dead) spermatozoa. Assistant provincial
prosecutor of Cotabato filed with the Regional Trial Court, Cotabato, at Kidapawan an
information for rape with homicide against Gilbert Baulite and Liberato Baulite, the two
men caught washing their bloodied hands by the river. They pleaded not guilty and
explained that the blood in their hands was that of a chicken that they had dressed
recently but the trial court rendered a decision finding the two accused guilty of rape with
homicide. Accused filed notice of appeal.

ISSUE: Whether or not circumstantial evidence sufficient to convict the accused-


HELD: No. The following circumstantial evidence adduced were as follows: a) A witness
saw accused-appellants Gilbert and Liberato Baulite washing their bloodied hands; b) A
boy was heard shouting that somebody was found dead;c) A witness hear a woman
shouting "indi" "indi" who was being choked and later the dead body of Delia Lano was
found. In light of the prosecution's evidence, we are not convinced that the guilt of the
accused has been proved beyond reasonable doubt. "The rule is clear. The guilt of the
accused must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. The prosecution, on its part, must
rely on the strength of its own evidence and must not simply depend on the weakness of
the defense. The slightest possibility of an innocent man being convicted for an offense
he has never committed, let alone when no less than the capital punishment is imposed,
would be far more dreadful than letting a guilty person go unpunished for a crime he may
have perpetrated. On the whole then, the scanty evidence for the prosecution casts
serious doubts as to the guilt of the accused. It does not pass the test of moral certainty
and is insufficient to rebut the presumption of innocence which the Bill of Rights
guarantees the accused. Where the evidence is purely circumstantial, there must be an
even greater need to apply the rule that the prosecution depends not on the weakness of
the defense but on the strength of its own evidence. Conviction must rest on nothing less
than a moral certainty of the guilty of the accused. "For circumstantial evidence to convict,
the Rules of Court require that: (1) there is more than one circumstance: (2) the facts from
which the inferences are derived are proven; and (3) the combination of all the
circumstances is such as produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt.

We find the circumstantial evidence adduced not sufficient to support a finding that both
accused-appellants were guilty beyond reasonable doubt of rape with homicide. To begin
with, witness Jonathan Cando was no able to identify either the woman victim or the
person choking the victim. We cannot conclude with certainly that the blood in the hands
of the accused-appellant was the blood of the victim, and that the person choking her was
one of the accused-appellants. Speculations and probabilities cannot substitute for proof
required to establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. In a criminal case,
every circumstance favoring the innocence of the accused must be duly taken into
account. Accused was acquitted.