You are on page 1of 33

INTESTATE ESTATE OF G.R. No.

181409
MANOLITA GONZALES VDA.
DE CARUNGCONG, represented
by MEDIATRIX CARUNGCONG, Present:
as Administratrix,
Petitioner, CORONA, J., Chairperson,
VELASCO, JR.,
NACHURA,
- v e r s u s - PERALTA and
MENDOZA, JJ.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES


and WILLIAM SATO,
Respondents. Promulgated:

February 11, 2010

x--------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

CORONA, J.:

Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code provides:

ART. 332. Persons exempt from criminal liability. No criminal, but only
civil liability shall result from the commission of the crime of theft, swindling, or
malicious mischief committed or caused mutually by the following persons:

1. Spouses, ascendants and descendants, or relatives by affinity in the


same line;

2. The widowed spouse with respect to the property which belonged to


the deceased spouse before the same shall have passed into the
possession of another; and
3. Brothers and sisters and brothers-in-law and sisters-
in-law, if living together.

The exemption established by this article shall not be applicable to


strangers participating in the commission of the crime. (emphasis supplied)

For purposes of the aforementioned provision, is the relationship by affinity created


between the husband and the blood relatives of his wife (as well as between the wife and the
blood relatives of her husband) dissolved by the death of one spouse, thus ending the marriage
which created such relationship by affinity? Does the beneficial application of Article 332 cover
the complex crime of estafa thru falsification?

Mediatrix G. Carungcong, in her capacity as the duly appointed administratrix[1] of


petitioner intestate estate of her deceased mother Manolita Gonzales vda. de Carungcong, filed
a complaint-affidavit[2] for estafa against her brother-in-law, William Sato, a Japanese national.
Her complaint-affidavit read:
I, MEDIATRIX CARUNGCONG Y GONZALE[S], Filipino, of legal age, single, and
resident of Unit 1111, Prince Gregory Condominium, 105 12th Avenue, Cubao, Quezon City, after
being duly sworn, depose and state that:
1. I am the duly appointed Administratrix of the Intestate Estate of
Manolita Carungcong Y Gonzale[s], docketed as Spec. Procs. No. [Q]-95-23621[,]
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 104, being one (1) of her surviving
daughters. Copy of the Letters of Administration dated June 22, 1995 is hereto
attached as Annex A to form an integral part hereof.
2. As such Administratrix, I am duty bound not only to preserve the
properties of the Intestate Estate of Manolita Carungcong Y Gonzale[s], but also
to recover such funds and/or properties as property belonging to the estate but
are presently in the possession or control of other parties.

3. After my appointment as Administratrix, I was able to confer with


some of the children of my sister Zenaida Carungcong Sato[,] who predeceased
our mother Manolita Carungcong Y Gonzales, having died in Japan in 1991.

4. In my conference with my nieces Karen Rose Sato and Wendy


Mitsuko Sato, age[d] 27 and 24 respectively, I was able to learn that prior to the
death of my mother Manolita Carungcong Y Gonzale[s], [s]pecifically on o[r]
about November 24, 1992, their father William Sato, through fraudulent
misrepresentations, was able to secure the signature and thumbmark of my
mother on a Special Power of Attorney whereby my niece Wendy Mitsuko Sato,
who was then only twenty (20) years old, was made her attorney-in-fact, to sell
and dispose four (4) valuable pieces of land in Tagaytay City. Said Special Power
of Attorney, copy of which is attached as ANNEX A of the Affidavit of Wendy
Mitsuko Sato, was signed and thumbmark[ed] by my mother because William
Sato told her that the documents she was being made to sign involved her taxes.
At that time, my mother was completely blind, having gone blind almost ten (10)
years prior to November, 1992.

5. The aforesaid Special Power of Attorney was signed by my mother in


the presence of Wendy, my other niece Belinda Kiku Sato, our maid Mana
Tingzon, and Governor Josephine Ramirez who later became the second wife of
my sisters widower William Sato.

6. Wendy Mitsuko Sato attests to the fact that my mother signed the
document in the belief that they were in connection with her taxes, not knowing,
since she was blind, that the same was in fact a Special Power of Attorney to sell
her Tagaytay properties.

7. On the basis of the aforesaid Special Power of Attorney, William Sato


found buyers for the property and made my niece Wendy Mitsuko Sato sign
three (3) deeds of absolute sale in favor of (a) Anita Ng (Doc. 2194, Page No. 41,
Book No. V, Series of 1992 of Notary Public Vicente B. Custodio), (b) Anita Ng
(Doc. No. 2331, Page No. 68, Book No. V, Series of 1992 of Notary Public
Vicente B. Custodio) and (c) Ruby Lee Tsai (Doc. No. II, Page No. 65, Book No.
II, Series of 1993 of Notary Public Toribio D. Labid). x x x

8. Per the statement of Wendy Mitsuko C. Sato, the considerations


appearing on the deeds of absolute sale were not the true and actual
considerations received by her father William Sato from the buyers of her
grandmothers properties. She attests that Anita Ng actually
paid P7,000,000.00 for the property covered by TCT No. 3148
and P7,034,000.00 for the property covered by TCT No. 3149. All the aforesaid
proceeds were turned over to William Sato who undertook to make the proper
accounting thereof to my mother, Manolita Carungcong Gonzale[s].

9. Again, per the statement of Wendy Mitsuko C. Sato, Ruby Lee Tsai
paid P8,000,000.00 for the property covered by Tax Declaration No.
GR-016-0735, and the proceeds thereof were likewise turned over to William
Sato.

10. The considerations appearing on the deeds of sale were falsified as


Wendy Mitsuko C. Sato has actual knowledge of the true amounts paid by the
buyers, as stated in her Affidavit, since she was the signatory thereto as the
attorney-in-fact of Manolita Carungcong Y Gonzale[s].

11. Wendy was only 20 years old at the time and was not in any position
to oppose or to refuse her fathers orders.
12. After receiving the total considerations for the properties sold under
the power of attorney fraudulently secured from my mother, which
total P22,034,000.00, William Sato failed to account for the same and never
delivered the proceeds to Manolita Carungcong Y Gonzale[s] until the latter
died on June 8, 1994.

13. Demands have been made for William Sato to make an accounting
and to deliver the proceeds of the sales to me as Administratrix of my mothers
estate, but he refused and failed, and continues to refuse and to fail to do so, to
the damage and prejudice of the estate of the deceased Manolita Carungcong Y
Gonzale[s] and of the heirs which include his six (6) children with my sister
Zenaida Carungcong Sato. x x x[3]

Wendy Mitsuko Satos supporting affidavit and the special power of attorney allegedly issued by
the deceased Manolita Gonzales vda. de Carungcong in favor of Wendy were attached to the
complaint-affidavit of Mediatrix.
In a resolution dated March 25, 1997, the City Prosecutor of Quezon City dismissed the
complaint.[4] On appeal, however, the Secretary of Justice reversed and set aside the resolution
dated March 25, 1997 and directed the City Prosecutor of Quezon City to file an Information
against Sato for violation of Article 315, paragraph 3(a) of the Revised Penal Code.[5] Thus, the
following Information was filed against Sato in the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch
87:[6]

INFORMATION
The undersigned accuses WILLIAM SATO of the crime of ESTAFA under Article
315[,] par. 3(a) of the Revised Penal Code, committed as follows:

That on or about the 24th day of November, 1992, in Quezon City,


Philippines, the above-named accused, by means of deceit, did, then and there,
wil[l]fully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud MANOLITA GONZALES VDA. DE
CARUNGCONG in the following manner, to wit: the said accused induced said
Manolita Gonzales Vda. De Carungcong[,] who was already then blind and 79
years old[,] to sign and thumbmark a special power of attorney dated November
24, 1992 in favor of Wendy Mitsuko C. Sato, daughter of said accused, making
her believe that said document involved only her taxes, accused knowing fully
well that said document authorizes Wendy Mitsuko C. Sato, then a minor, to sell,
assign, transfer or otherwise dispose of to any person or entity of her properties
all located at Tagaytay City, as follows:

1. One Thousand Eight Hundred Seven(ty) One (1,871) square meters


more or less and covered by T.C.T. No. 3147;

2. Five Hundred Forty (540) square meters more or less and covered by
T.C.T. No. 3148 with Tax Declaration No. GR-016-0722, Cadastral
Lot No. 7106;

3. Five Hundred Forty (540) square meters more or less and covered by
T.C.T. No. 3149 with Tax Declaration No. GR-016-0721, Cadastral
Lot No. 7104;

4. Eight Hundred Eighty Eight (888) square meters more or less with Tax
Declaration No. GR-016-1735, Cadastral Lot No. 7062;

registered in the name of Manolita Gonzales Vda. De Carungcong, and once in


the possession of the said special power of attorney and other pertinent
documents, said accused made Wendy Mitsuko Sato sign the three (3) Deeds of
Absolute Sale covering Transfer Certificate of Title [TCT] No. 3148
for P250,000.00, [TCT] No. 3149 for P250,000.00 and [Tax Declaration]
GR-016-0735 for P650,000.00 and once in possession of the proceeds of the sale
of the above properties, said accused, misapplied, misappropriated and
converted the same to his own personal use and benefit, to the damage and
prejudice of the heirs of Manolita Gonzales Vda. De Carungcong who died in
1994.
Contrary to law.[7]

Subsequently, the prosecution moved for the amendment of the Information so as to


increase the amount of damages from P1,150,000, the total amount stated in the deeds of sale,
to P22,034,000, the actual amount received by Sato.
Sato moved for the quashal of the Information, claiming that under Article 332 of the Revised
Penal Code, his relationship to the person allegedly defrauded, the deceased Manolita who was
his mother-in-law, was an exempting circumstance.

The prosecution disputed Satos motion in an opposition dated March 29, 2006.
In an order dated April 17, 2006,[8] the trial court granted Satos motion and ordered the
dismissal of the criminal case:

The Trial Prosecutors contention is that the death of the wife of the
accused severed the relationship of affinity between accused and his
mother-in-law. Therefore, the mantle of protection provided to the accused by
the relationship is no longer obtaining.

A judicious and thorough examination of Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code
convinces this Court of the correctness of the contention of the [d]efense. While
it is true that the death of Zenaida Carungcong-Sato has extinguished the
marriage of accused with her, it does not erase the fact that accused and
Zenaidas mother, herein complainant, are still son[-in-law] and mother-in-law
and they remained son[-in-law] and mother-in-law even beyond the death of
Zenaida.

Article 332(1) of the Revised Penal Code, is very explicit and states no proviso.
No criminal, but only civil liability[,] shall result from the commission of the
crime of theft, swindling or malicious mischief committed or caused mutually by
xxx 1) spouses, ascendants and descendants, or relatives by affinity in the same
line.

Article 332, according to Aquino, in his Commentaries [to] Revised Penal Code,
preserves family harmony and obviates scandal, hence even in cases of theft and
malicious mischief, where the crime is committed by a stepfather against his
stepson, by a grandson against his grandfather, by a son against his mother, no
criminal liability is incurred by the accused only civil (Vicente Alavare, 52 Phil.
65; Adame, CA 40 OG 12th Supp. 63; Cristobal, 84 Phil. 473).

Such exempting circumstance is applicable herein.

WHEREFORE, finding the Motion to Quash Original Information meritorious,


the same is GRANTED and, as prayed for, case is hereby DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.[9] (underlining supplied in the original)

The prosecutions motion for reconsideration[10] was denied in an order dated June 2, 2006.[11]

Dissatisfied with the trial courts rulings, the intestate estate of Manolita, represented by
Mediatrix, filed a petition for certiorari in the Court of Appeals [12] which, however, in a
decision[13] dated August 9, 2007, dismissed it. It ruled:

[W]e sustain the finding of [the trial court] that the death of Zenaida did
not extinguish the relationship by affinity between her husband, private
respondent Sato, and her mother Manolita, and does not bar the application of
the exempting circumstance under Article 332(1) of the Revised Penal Code in
favor of private respondent Sato.

We further agree with the submission of the [Office of the Solicitor


General (OSG)] that nothing in the law and/or existing jurisprudence supports
the argument of petitioner that the fact of death of Zenaida dissolved the
relationship by affinity between Manolita and private respondent Sato, and thus
removed the protective mantle of Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code from
said private respondent; and that notwithstanding the death of Zenaida, private
respondent Sato remains to be the son-in-law of Manolita, and a brother-in-law
of petitioner administratrix. As further pointed out by the OSG, the filing of the
criminal case for estafa against private respondent Sato already created havoc
among members of the Carungcong and Sato families as private respondents
daughter Wendy Mitsuko Sato joined cause with her aunt [Mediatrix]
Carungcong y Gonzales, while two (2) other children of private respondent,
William Francis and Belinda Sato, took the side of their father.

There is a dearth of jurisprudence and/or commentaries elaborating on


the provision of Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code. However, from the plain
language of the law, it is clear that the exemption from criminal liability for the
crime of swindling (estafa) under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code applies
to private respondent Sato, as son-in-law of Manolita, they being relatives by
affinity in the same line under Article 332(1) of the same Code. We cannot draw
the distinction that following the death of Zenaida in 1991, private respondent
Sato is no longer the son-in-law of Manolita, so as to exclude the former from
the exempting circumstance provided for in Article 332 (1) of the Revised Penal
Code.

Ubi lex non distinguit nec nos distinguere debemos. Basic is the rule in
statutory construction that where the law does not distinguish, the courts
should not distinguish. There should be no distinction in the application of law
where none is indicated. The courts could only distinguish where there are facts
or circumstances showing that the lawgiver intended a distinction or
qualification. In such a case, the courts would merely give effect to the lawgivers
intent. The solemn power and duty of the Court to interpret and apply the law
does not include the power to correct by reading into the law what is not written
therein.

Further, it is an established principle of statutory construction that penal


laws are strictly construed against the State and liberally in favor of the accused.
Any reasonable doubt must be resolved in favor of the accused. In this case, the
plain meaning of Article 332 (1) of the Revised Penal Codes simple language is
most favorable to Sato.[14]

The appellate court denied reconsideration.[15] Hence, this petition.

Petitioner contends that the Court of Appeals erred in not reversing the orders of the trial court.
It cites the commentary of Justice Luis B. Reyes in his book on criminal law that the rationale of
Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code exempting the persons mentioned therein from criminal
liability is that the law recognizes the presumed co-ownership of the property
between the offender and the offended party. Here, the properties subject of the estafa
case were owned by Manolita whose daughter, Zenaida Carungcong-Sato (Satos wife), died on
January 28, 1991. Hence, Zenaida never became a co-owner because, under the law,
her right to the three parcels of land could have arisen only after her mothers
death. Since Zenaida predeceased her mother, Manolita, no such right came about
and the mantle of protection provided to Sato by the relationship no longer
existed.

Sato counters that Article 332 makes no distinction that the relationship may not be invoked in
case of death of the spouse at the time the crime was allegedly committed. Thus, while the death
of Zenaida extinguished her marriage with Sato, it did not dissolve the son-in-law and
mother-in-law relationship between Sato and Zenaidas mother, Manolita.

For his part, the Solicitor General maintains that Sato is covered by the exemption from
criminal liability provided under Article 332. Nothing in the law and jurisprudence supports
petitioners claim that Zenaidas death dissolved the relationship by affinity between Sato and
Manolita. As it is, the criminal case against Sato created havoc among the members of the
Carungcong and Sato families, a situation sought to be particularly avoided by Article 332s
provision exempting a family member committing theft, estafa or malicious mischief from
criminal liability and reducing his/her liability to the civil aspect only.

The petition has merit.

The resolution of this case rests on the interpretation of Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code.
In particular, it calls for the determination of the following: (1) the effect of death on the
relationship by affinity created between a surviving spouse and the blood relatives of the
deceased spouse and (2) the extent of the coverage of Article 332.

EFFECT OF DEATH ON RELATIONSHIP


BY AFFINITY AS ABSOLUTORY CAUSE

Article 332 provides for an absolutory cause[16] in the


crimes of theft, estafa (or swindling) and malicious mischief. It limits the responsibility of the
offender to civil liability and frees him from criminal liability by virtue of his relationship to the
offended party.

In connection with the relatives mentioned in the first paragraph, it has been held that included
in the exemptions are parents-in-law, stepparents and adopted children.[17] By virtue thereof, no
criminal liability is incurred by the stepfather who commits malicious mischief against his
stepson;[18] by the stepmother who commits theft against her stepson; [19] by the stepfather who
steals something from his stepson;[20] by the grandson who steals from his grandfather; [21] by
the accused who swindles his sister-in-law living with him;[22] and by the son who steals a ring
from his mother.[23]
Affinity is the relation that one spouse has to the blood relatives of the other spouse. It is
a relationship by marriage or
a familial relation resulting from marriage.[24] It is a fictive kinship, a fiction created by law in
connection with the institution of marriage and family relations.
If marriage gives rise to ones relationship by affinity to the blood relatives of ones
spouse, does the extinguishment of marriage by the death of the spouse dissolve the
relationship by affinity?

Philippine jurisprudence has no previous encounter with the issue that confronts us in
this case. That is why the trial and appellate courts acknowledged the dearth of
jurisprudence and/or commentaries on the matter. In contrast, in the American legal system,
there are two views on the subject. As one Filipino author observed:

In case a marriage is terminated by the death of one of the spouses, there are
conflicting views. There are some who believe that relationship by affinity is not
terminated whether there are children or not in the marriage (Carman vs.
Newell, N.Y. 1 [Denio] 25, 26). However, the better view supported by most
judicial authorities in other jurisdictions is that, if the spouses have no living
issues or children and one of the spouses dies, the relationship by affinity is
dissolved. It follows the rule that relationship by affinity ceases with the
dissolution of the marriage which produces it (Kelly v. Neely, 12 Ark. 657, 659,
56 Am Dec. 288). On the other hand, the relationship by affinity is continued
despite the death of one of the spouses where there are living issues or children
of the marriage in whose veins the blood of the parties are commingled, since
the relationship of affinity was continued through the medium of the issue of
the marriage (Paddock vs. Wells, 2 Barb. Ch. 331, 333).[25]

The first view (the terminated affinity view) holds that relationship by affinity terminates with
the dissolution of the marriage either by death or divorce which gave rise to the relationship of
affinity between the parties.[26] Under this view, the relationship by affinity is simply
coextensive and coexistent with the marriage that produced it. Its duration is indispensably and
necessarily determined by the marriage that created it. Thus, it exists only for so long as the
marriage subsists, such that the death of a spouse ipso facto ends the relationship by affinity of
the surviving spouse to the deceased spouses blood relatives.
The first view admits of an exception. The relationship by affinity continues even after the death
of one spouse when there is a surviving issue.[27] The rationale is that the relationship is
preserved because of the living issue of the marriage in whose veins the blood of both parties is
commingled.[28]

The second view (the continuing affinity view) maintains that relationship by affinity between
the surviving spouse and the kindred of the deceased spouse continues even after the death of
the deceased spouse, regardless of whether the marriage produced children or not. [29] Under
this view, the relationship by affinity endures even after the dissolution of the marriage that
produced it as a result of the death of one of the parties to the said marriage. This view
considers that, where statutes have indicated an intent to benefit step-relatives or in-laws, the
tie of affinity between these people and their relatives-by-marriage is not to be regarded as
terminated upon the death of one of the married parties.[30]

After due consideration and evaluation of the relative merits of the two views, we hold that the
second view is more consistent with the language and spirit of Article 332(1) of the Revised
Penal Code.

First, the terminated affinity view is generally applied in cases of jury disqualification and
incest.[31] On the other hand, the continuing affinity view has been applied in the interpretation
of laws that intend to benefit step-relatives or in-laws. Since the purpose of the absolutory cause
in Article 332(1) is meant to be beneficial to relatives by affinity within the degree covered
under the said provision, the continuing affinity view is more appropriate.

Second, the language of Article 332(1) which speaks of relatives by affinity in the same line is
couched in general language. The legislative intent to make no distinction between the spouse of
ones living child and the surviving spouse of ones deceased child (in case of a son-in-law or
daughter-in-law with respect to his or her parents-in-law)[32] can be drawn from Article 332(1)
of the Revised Penal Code without doing violence to its language.

Third, the Constitution declares that the protection and strengthening of the family as a basic
autonomous social institution are policies of the State and that it is the duty of the State to
strengthen the solidarity of the family.[33] Congress has also affirmed as a State and national
policy that courts shall preserve the solidarity of the family.[34] In this connection, the spirit of
Article 332 is to preserve family harmony and obviate scandal.[35] The view that relationship by
affinity is not affected by the death of one of the parties to the marriage that created it is more in
accord with family solidarity and harmony.

Fourth, the fundamental principle in applying and in interpreting criminal laws is to


resolve all doubts in favor of the accused. In dubio pro reo. When in doubt, rule for the
accused.[36] This is in consonance with the constitutional guarantee that the accused shall be
presumed innocent unless and until his guilt is established beyond reasonable doubt.[37]

Intimately related to the in dubio pro reo principle is the rule of lenity.[38] The rule
applies when the court is faced with two possible interpretations of a penal statute, one that is
prejudicial to the accused and another that is favorable to him. The rule calls for the adoption of
an interpretation which is more lenient to the accused.

Lenity becomes all the more appropriate when this case is viewed through the lens of the basic
purpose of Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code to preserve family harmony by providing an
absolutory cause. Since the goal of Article 332(1) is to benefit the accused, the Court should
adopt an application or interpretation that is more favorable to the accused. In this case, that
interpretation is the continuing affinity view.

Thus, for purposes of Article 332(1) of the Revised Penal Code, we hold that the
relationship by affinity created between the surviving spouse and the blood relatives of the
deceased spouse survives the death of either party to the marriage which created the affinity.
(The same principle applies to the justifying circumstance of defense of ones relatives under
Article 11[2] of the Revised Penal Code, the mitigating circumstance of immediate vindication of
grave offense committed against ones relatives under Article 13[5] of the same Code and the
absolutory cause of relationship in favor of accessories under Article 20 also of the same Code.)

SCOPE OF ARTICLE 332 OF


THE REVISED PENAL CODE

The absolutory cause under Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code only applies to the
felonies of theft, swindling and malicious mischief. Under the said provision, the State condones
the criminal responsibility of the offender in cases of theft, swindling and malicious mischief. As
an act of grace, the State waives its right to prosecute the offender for the said crimes but leaves
the private offended party with the option to hold the offender civilly liable.

However, the coverage of Article 332 is strictly limited to the felonies mentioned therein.
The plain, categorical and unmistakable language of the provision shows that it applies
exclusively to the simple crimes of theft, swindling and malicious mischief. It does not apply
where any of the crimes mentioned under Article 332 is complexed with another crime, such as
theft through falsification or estafa through falsification.[39]

The Information against Sato charges him with estafa. However, the real nature of the
offense is determined by the facts alleged in the Information, not by the designation of the
offense.[40] What controls is not the title of the Information or the designation of the offense but
the actual facts recited in the Information.[41] In other words, it is the recital of facts of the
commission of the offense, not the nomenclature of the offense, that determines the crime being
charged in the Information.[42] It is the exclusive province of the court to say what the crime is
or what it is named.[43] The determination by the prosecutor who signs the Information of the
crime committed is merely an opinion which is not binding on the court.[44]

A reading of the facts alleged in the Information reveals that Sato is being charged not
with simple estafa but with the complex crime of estafa through falsification of public
documents. In particular, the Information states that Sato, by means of deceit, intentionally
defrauded Manolita committed as follows:

(a) Sato presented a document to Manolita (who was already blind at that time) and
induced her to sign and thumbmark the same;
(b) he made Manolita believe that the said document was in connection with her taxes
when it was in fact a special power of attorney (SPA) authorizing his minor
daughter Wendy to sell, assign, transfer or otherwise dispose of Manolitas
properties in Tagaytay City;
(c) relying on Satos inducement and representation, Manolita signed and thumbmarked
the SPA in favor of Wendy Mitsuko Sato, daughter of Sato;
(d) using the document, he sold the properties to third parties but he neither delivered
the proceeds to Manolita nor accounted for the same and
(d) despite repeated demands, he failed and refused to deliver the proceeds, to the
damage and prejudice of the estate of Manolita.

The above averments in the Information show that the estafa was committed by
attributing to Manolita (who participated in the execution of the document) statements other
than those in fact made by her. Manolitas acts of signing the SPA and affixing her thumbmark
to that document were the very expression of her specific intention that something be done
about her taxes. Her signature and thumbmark were the affirmation of her statement on such
intention as she only signed and thumbmarked the SPA (a document which she could not have
read) because of Satos representation that the document pertained to her taxes. In signing and
thumbmarking the document, Manolita showed that she believed and adopted the
representations of Sato as to what the document was all about, i.e., that it involved her taxes.
Her signature and thumbmark, therefore, served as her conformity to Satos proposal that she
execute a document to settle her taxes.

Thus, by inducing Manolita to sign the SPA, Sato made it appear that Manolita granted
his daughter Wendy a special power of attorney for the purpose of selling, assigning,
transferring or otherwise disposing of Manolitas Tagaytay properties when the fact was that
Manolita signed and thumbmarked the document presented by Sato in the belief that it
pertained to her taxes. Indeed, the document itself, the SPA, and everything that it contained
were falsely attributed to Manolita when she was made to sign the SPA.

Moreover, the allegations in the Information that


(1) once in the possession of the said special power of attorney and other pertinent
documents, [Sato] made Wendy Mitsuko Sato sign the three (3) Deeds of
Absolute Sale and

(2) once in possession of the proceeds of the sale of the above properties, said accused,
misapplied, misappropriated and converted the same to his own personal use
and benefit

raise the presumption that Sato, as the possessor of the falsified document and the one who
benefited therefrom, was the author thereof.

Furthermore, it should be noted that the prosecution moved for the amendment of the
Information so as to increase the amount of damages from P1,150,000 to P22,034,000. This
was granted by the trial court and was affirmed by the Court of Appeals on certiorari. This
meant that the amended Information would now state that, while the total amount of
consideration stated in the deeds of absolute sale was only P1,150,000, Sato actually received
the total amount of P22,034,000 as proceeds of the sale of Manolitas properties. [45] This also
meant that the deeds of sale (which were public documents) were also falsified by making
untruthful statements as to the amounts of consideration stated in the deeds.

Therefore, the allegations in the Information essentially charged a crime that was not
simple estafa. Sato resorted to falsification of public documents (particularly, the special power
of attorney and the deeds of sale) as a necessary means to commit the estafa.

Since the crime with which respondent was charged was not simple estafa but the
complex crime of estafa through falsification of public documents, Sato cannot avail himself of
the absolutory cause provided under Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code in his favor.

EFFECT OF ABSOLUTORY CAUSE UNDER


ARTICLE 332 ON CRIMINAL LIABILITY
FOR THE COMPLEX CRIME OF ESTAFA
THROUGH FALSIFICATION OF PUBLIC
DOCUMENTS

The question may be asked: if the accused may not be held criminally liable for simple
estafa by virtue of the absolutory cause under Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code, should he
not be absolved also from criminal liability for the complex crime of estafa through falsification
of public documents? No.

True, the concurrence of all the elements of the two crimes of estafa and falsification of
public document is required for a proper conviction for the complex crime of estafa through
falsification of public document. That is the ruling in Gonzaludo v. People.[46] It means that the
prosecution must establish that the accused resorted to the falsification of a public document as
a necessary means to commit the crime of estafa.

However, a proper appreciation of the scope and application of Article 332 of the
Revised Penal Code and of the nature of a complex crime would negate exemption
from criminal liability for the complex crime of estafa through falsification of public documents,
simply because the accused may not be held criminally liable for simple estafa by virtue of the
absolutory cause under Article 332.

The absolutory cause under Article 332 is meant to address specific crimes against
property, namely, the simple crimes of theft, swindling and malicious mischief. Thus, all other
crimes, whether simple or complex, are not affected by the absolutory cause
provided by the said provision. To apply the absolutory cause under Article 332 of the
Revised Penal Code to one of the component crimes of a complex crime for the purpose of
negating the existence of that complex crime is to unduly expand the scope of Article 332. In
other words, to apply Article 332 to the complex crime of estafa through falsification of public
document would be to mistakenly treat the crime of estafa as a separate simple crime, not as the
component crime that it is in that situation. It would wrongly consider the indictment as
separate charges of estafa and falsification of public document, not as a single charge for the
single (complex) crime of estafa through falsification of public document.
Under Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code, the State waives its right to hold the
offender criminally liable for the simple crimes of theft, swindling and malicious mischief and
considers the violation of the juridical right to property committed by the offender against
certain family members as a private matter and therefore subject only to civil liability. The
waiver does not apply when the violation of the right to property is achieved through (and
therefore inseparably intertwined with) a breach of the public interest in the integrity and
presumed authenticity of public documents. For, in the latter instance, what is involved
is no longer simply the property right of a family relation but a paramount public
interest.

The purpose of Article 332 is to preserve family harmony and obviate scandal. [47] Thus,
the action provided under the said provision simply concerns the private relations of the parties
as family members and is limited to the civil aspect between the offender and the offended party.
When estafa is committed through falsification of a public document, however, the matter
acquires a very serious public dimension and goes beyond the respective rights and liabilities of
family members among themselves. Effectively, when the offender resorts to an act that
breaches public interest in the integrity of public documents as a means to violate the property
rights of a family member, he is removed from the protective mantle of the absolutory cause
under Article 332.

In considering whether the accused is liable for the complex crime of estafa through
falsification of public documents, it would be wrong to consider the component crimes
separately from each other. While there may be two component crimes(estafa and
falsification of documents), both felonies are animated by and result from one and the same
criminal intent for which there is only one criminal liability.[48] That is the concept of a
complex crime. In other words, while there are two crimes, they are treated only as one,
subject to a single criminal liability.

As opposed to a simple crime where only one juridical right or interest is violated (e.g.,
homicide which violates the right to life, theft which violates the right to property),[49] a complex
crime constitutes a violation of diverse juridical rights or interests by means of diverse acts,
each of which is a simple crime in itself.[50] Since only a single criminal intent underlies the
diverse acts, however, the component crimes are considered as elements of a single crime, the
complex crime. This is the correct interpretation of a complex crime as treated under Article 48
of the Revised Penal Code.

In the case of a complex crime, therefore, there is a formal (or ideal) plurality of crimes
where the same criminal intent results in two or more component crimes constituting a
complex crime for which there is only one criminal liability.[51] (The complex crime of estafa
through falsification of public document falls under this category.) This is different from a
material (or real) plurality of crimes where different criminal intents result in two or more
crimes, for each of which the accused incurs criminal liability.[52] The latter category is covered
neither by the concept of complex crimes nor by Article 48.

Under Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code, the formal plurality of crimes (concursus
delictuorum or concurso de delitos) gives rise to a single criminal liability and requires the
imposition of a single penalty:

Although [a] complex crime quantitatively consists of two or more


crimes, it is only one crime in law on which a single penalty is imposed and
the two or more crimes constituting the same are more conveniently termed as
component crimes.[53] (emphasis supplied)

In [a] complex crime, although two or more crimes are actually committed, they
constitute only one crime in the eyes of the law as well as in the conscience of the
offender. The offender has only one criminal intent. Even in the case where an
offense is a necessary means for committing the other, the evil intent of the
offender is only one.[54]
For this reason, while a conviction for estafa through falsification of public document
requires that the elements of both estafa and falsification exist, it does not mean that the
criminal liability for estafa may be determined and considered independently of that for
falsification. The two crimes of estafa and falsification of public documents are not
separate crimes but component crimes of the single complex crime of estafa and
falsification of public documents.

Therefore, it would be incorrect to claim that, to be criminally liable for the complex
crime of estafa through falsification of public document, the liability for estafa should be
considered separately from the liability for falsification of public document. Such approach
would disregard the nature of a complex crime and contradict the letter and spirit of Article 48
of the Revised Penal Code. It would wrongly disregard the distinction between formal plurality
and material plurality, as it improperly treats the plurality of crimes in the complex crime of
estafa through falsification of public document as a mere material plurality where the felonies
are considered as separate crimes to be punished individually.

FALSIFICATION OF PUBLIC
DOCUMENTS MAY BE A NECESSARY
MEANS FOR COMMITTING ESTAFA EVEN
UNDER ARTICLE 315 (3[A])

The elements of the offense of estafa punished under Article 315 (3[a]) of the Revised
Penal Code are as follows:

(1) the offender induced the offended party to sign a document;

(2) deceit was employed to make the offended party sign the document;

(3) the offended party personally signed the document and

(4) prejudice is caused to the offended party.

While in estafa under Article 315(a) of the Revised Penal Code, the law does not require
that the document be falsified for the consummation thereof, it does not mean that the
falsification of the document cannot be considered as a necessary means to commit the estafa
under that provision.

The phrase necessary means does not connote indispensable means for if it did, then the
offense as a necessary means to commit another would be an indispensable element of the latter
and would be an ingredient thereof.[55] In People v. Salvilla,[56] the phrase necessary means
merely signifies that one crime is committed to facilitate and insure the commission of the
other.[57] In this case, the crime of falsification of public document, the SPA, was such a
necessary means as it was resorted to by Sato to facilitate and carry out more effectively his evil
design to swindle his mother-in-law. In particular, he used the SPA to sell the Tagaytay
properties of Manolita to unsuspecting third persons.

When the offender commits in a public document any of the acts of falsification
enumerated in Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code as a necessary means to commit another
crime, like estafa, theft or malversation, the two crimes form a complex crime under Article 48
of the same Code.[58] The falsification of a public, official or commercial document may be a
means of committing estafa because, before the falsified document is actually utilized
to defraud another, the crime of falsification has already been consummated,
damage or intent to cause damage not being an element of the crime of falsification of a public,
official or commercial document.[59] In other words, the crime of falsification was
committed prior to the consummation of the crime of estafa.[60] Actually utilizing the falsified
public, official or commercial document to defraud another is estafa. [61] The damage to another
is caused by the commission of estafa, not by the falsification of the document.[62]
Applying the above principles to this case, the allegations in the Information show that
the falsification of public document was consummated when Sato presented a
ready-made SPA to Manolita who signed the same as a statement of her intention in connection
with her taxes. While the falsification was consummated upon the execution of the SPA, the
consummation of the estafa occurred only when Sato later utilized the SPA. He did so
particularly when he had the properties sold and thereafter pocketed the proceeds of the sale.
Damage or prejudice to Manolita was caused not by the falsification of the SPA (as no damage
was yet caused to the property rights of Manolita at the time she was made to sign the document)
but by the subsequent use of the said document. That is why the falsification of the public
document was used to facilitate and ensure (that is, as a necessary means for) the commission
of the estafa.

The situation would have been different if Sato, using the same inducement, had made
Manolita sign a deed of sale of the properties either in his favor or in favor of third parties. In
that case, the damage would have been caused by, and at exactly the same time as, the execution
of the document, not prior thereto. Therefore, the crime committed would only have been the
simple crime of estafa.[63] On the other hand, absent any inducement (such as if Manolita
herself had been the one who asked that a document pertaining to her taxes be prepared for her
signature, but what was presented to her for her signature was an SPA), the crime would have
only been the simple crime of falsification.[64]

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The decision dated August 9, 2007
and the resolution dated January 23, 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. S.P. No. 95260
are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The case is remanded to the trial court which is directed to
try the accused with dispatch for the complex crime of estafa through falsification of public
documents.

SO ORDERED.
JULIUS AMANQUITON, G.R. No. 186080
Petitioner,
Present:

PUNO, C.J., Chairperson,


CARPIO,
- v e r s u s - CORONA,
DE CASTRO and
BERSAMIN, JJ.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,


Respondent. Promulgated:

August 14, 2009

x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x

DECISION
CORONA, J.:

Petitioner Julius Amanquiton was a purok leader of Barangay Western Bicutan, Taguig, Metro
Manila. As a purok leader and barangay tanod, he was responsible for the maintenance of
cleanliness, peace and order of the community.

At 10:45 p.m. on October 30, 2001, petitioner heard an explosion. He, together with two
auxiliary tanod, Dominador Amante[1] and a certain Cabisudo, proceeded to Sambong Street
where the explosion took place. Thereafter, they saw complainant Leoselie John Baaga being
chased by a certain Gil Gepulane. Upon learning that Baaga was the one who threw the
pillbox[2] that caused the explosion, petitioner and his companions also went after him.

On reaching Baagas house, petitioner, Cabisudo and Amante knocked on the door. When no
one answered, they decided to hide some distance away. After five minutes, Baaga came out of
the house. At this juncture, petitioner and his companions immediately apprehended him.
Baaga's aunt, Marilyn Alimpuyo, followed them to the barangay hall.

Baaga was later brought to the police station. On the way to the police station, Gepulane
suddenly appeared from nowhere and boxed Baaga in the face. This caused petitioner to order
Gepulanes apprehension along with Baaga. An incident report was made.[3]

During the investigation, petitioner learned Baaga had been previously mauled by a group made
up of a certain Raul, Boyet and Cris but failed to identify two others. The mauling was the result
of gang trouble in a certain residental compound in Taguig City. Baagas mauling was recorded
in a barangay blotter which read:

10-30-201
Time: 10-15 p.m.
RECORD purposes

Dumating dito sa Barangay Head Quarters si Dossen[4] Baaga is


Alimpuyo 16 years old student nakatira sa 10 B Kalachuchi St. M.B.T.
M.M.

Upang ireklamo yong sumapak sa akin sina Raul[,] Boyet [at] Cris
at yong dalawang sumapak ay hindi ko kilala. Nang yari ito kaninang
10:p.m. araw ng [M]artes taong kasalukuyan at yong labi ko pumutok at
yong kabilang mata ko ay namaga sa bandang kanan. Ang iyong kaliwang
mukha at pati yong likod ko ay may tama sa sapak.

Patunay dito ang aking lagda.

Dossen Banaga (sgd.)


Thereafter, an Information for violation of Section 10 (a), Article VI, RA [5] 7160[6] in
relation to Section 5 (j) of R.A. 8369 was filed against petitioner, Amante and Gepulane. The
Information read:

The undersigned 2nd Assistant Provincial Prosecutor accuses Julius Amanquiton,


Dominador Amante and Gil Gepulane of the crime of Violations of Section 10 (a)
Article VI, Republic Act No. 7610 in relation to Section 5 (j) of R.A. No. 8369
committed as follows:

That on the 30th day of October, 2001, in the Municipality of Taguig, Metro
Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above-named accused in conspiracy with one another, armed with nightstick, did
then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and use
personal violence, a form of physical abuse, upon the person of Leoselie John A.
[Baaga], seventeen (17) years old, a minor, by then and there manhandling him
and hitting him with their nightsticks, thus, constituting other acts of child abuse,
which is inimical or prejudicial to childs development, in violation of the
above-mentioned law.

CONTRARY TO LAW.
On arraignment, petitioner and Amante both pleaded not guilty. Gepulane remains at-large.

During the trial, the prosecution presented the following witnesses: Dr. Paulito Cruz,
medico-legal officer of the Taguig-Pateros District Hospital who attended to Baaga on October
30, 2001, Baaga himself, Alimpuyo and Rachelle Baaga (complainants mother).

The defense presented the testimonies of petitioner, Amante and Briccio Cuyos, then deputy
chief barangay tanod of the same barangay. Cuyos testified that the blotter notation entered by
Gepulane and Baaga was signed in his presence and that they read the contents thereof before
affixing their signatures.

On May 10, 2005, the RTC found petitioner and Amante guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
crime charged.[7] The dispositive portion of the RTC decision read:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, this Court finds the accused JULIUS
AMANQUITON and DOMINADOR AMANTE GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt
for violation of Article VI Sec. 10 (a) of Republic Act 7610 in relation to Section 3
(j) of Republic Act 8369, hereby sentences accused JULIUS AMANQUITON and
DOMINADOR AMANTE a straight penalty of thirty (30) days of Arresto Menor.

Both accused Julius Amanquiton and Dominador Amante are hereby directed to
pay Leoselie John A. Banaga the following:

1. Actual damages in the amount of P5,000.00;


2. Moral Damages in the amount of P 30,000.00; and
3. Exemplary damages in the amount of P 20,000.00.

The case against the accused Gil Gepulane is hereby sent to the
ARCHIVES to be revived upon the arrest of the accused. Let [a] warrant of arrest
be issued against him.

SO ORDERED.

Amanquitons motion for reconsideration was denied.[8]

Petitioner filed a notice of appeal which was given due course. On August 28, 2008, the
CA rendered a decision[9] which affirmed the conviction but increased the penalty. The
dispositive portion of the assailed CA decision read:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing the Decision appealed from


is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. The accused-appellant is sentenced to
suffer the penalty of four (4) years, two (2) months and one (1) day of prision
correccional maximum up to eight (8) years of prision mayor minimum as
maximum. In addition to the damages already awarded, a fine of thirty thousand
pesos (P30,000.00) is hereby solidarily imposed the proceeds of which shall be
administered as a cash fund by the DSWD.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied.[10]

Hence, this petition. Petitioner principally argues that the facts of the case as established did
not constitute a violation of Section 10 (a), Article VI of RA 7160 and definitely did not prove the
guilt of petitioner beyond reasonable doubt.

The Constitution itself provides that in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be
presumed innocent until the contrary is proved.[11] An accused is entitled to an acquittal unless
his guilt is shown beyond reasonable doubt.[12] It is the primordial duty of the prosecution to
present its side with clarity and persuasion, so that conviction becomes the only logical and
inevitable conclusion, with moral certainty.[13]

The necessity for proof beyond reasonable doubt was discussed in People v. Berroya:[14]
[Proof beyond reasonable doubt] lies in the fact that in a criminal
prosecution, the State is arrayed against the subject; it enters the contest with a
prior inculpatory finding in its hands; with unlimited means of command; with
counsel usually of authority and capacity, who are regarded as public officers, as
therefore as speaking semi-judicially, and with an attitude of tranquil majesty
often in striking contrast to that of defendant engaged in a perturbed and
distracting struggle for liberty if not for life. These inequalities of position, the
law strives to meet by the rule that there is to be no conviction where there is
reasonable doubt of guilt. However, proof beyond reasonable doubt requires only
moral certainty or that degree of proof which produces conviction in an
unprejudiced mind.

The RTC and CA hinged their finding of petitioners guilt beyond reasonable doubt (of the crime
of child abuse) solely on the supposed positive identification by the complainant and his witness
(Alimpuyo) of petitioner and his co-accused as the perpetrators of the crime.

We note Baagas statement that, when he was apprehended by petitioner and Amante, there
were many people around.[15] Yet, the prosecution presented only Baaga and his aunt, Alimpuyo,
as witnesses to the mauling incident itself. Where were the other people who could have
testified, in an unbiased manner, on the alleged mauling of Baaga by petitioner and Amante, as
supposedly witnessed by Alimpuyo?[16] The testimonies of the two other prosecution witnesses,
Dr. Paulito Cruz and Rachelle Baaga, did not fortify Baagas claim that petitioner mauled him,
for the following reasons: Dr. Cruz merely attended to Baagas injuries, while Rachelle testified
that she saw Baaga only after the injuries have been inflicted on him.

We note furthermore that, Baaga failed to controvert the validity of the barangay blotter he
signed regarding the mauling incident which happened prior to his apprehension by petitioner.
Neither did he ever deny the allegation that he figured in a prior battery by gang members.

All this raises serious doubt on whether Baagas injuries were really inflicted by petitioner, et al.,
to the exclusion of other people. In fact, petitioner testified clearly that Gepulane, who had been
harboring a grudge against Baaga, came out of nowhere and punched Baaga while the latter was
being brought to the police station. Gepulane, not petitioner, could very well have caused
Baaga's injuries.

Alimpuyo admitted that she did not see who actually caused the bloodied condition of
Baagas face because she had to first put down the baby she was then carrying when the melee
started.[17] More importantly, Alimpuyo stated that she was told by Baaga that, while he was
allegedly being held by the neck by petitioner, others were hitting him. Alimpuyo was obviously
testifying not on what she personally saw but on what Baaga told her.
While we ordinarily do not interfere with the findings of the lower courts on the
trustworthiness of witnesses, when there appear in the records facts and circumstances of real
weight which might have been overlooked or misapprehended, this Court cannot shirk from its
duty to sift fact from fiction.
We apply the pro reo principle and the equipoise rule in this case. Where the evidence
on an issue of fact is in question or there is doubt on which side the evidence weighs, the doubt
should be resolved in favor of the accused.[18] If inculpatory facts and circumstances are capable
of two or more explanations, one consistent with the innocence of the accused and the other
consistent with his guilt, then the evidence does not fulfill the test of moral certainty and will
not justify a conviction.[19]
Time and again, we have held that:
Republic Act No. 7610 is a measure geared towards the implementation of a
national comprehensive program for the survival of the most vulnerable
members of the population, the Filipino children, in keeping with the
Constitutional mandate under Article XV, Section 3, paragraph 2, that The
State shall defend the right of the children to assistance, including
proper care and nutrition, and special protection from all forms of
neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation, and other conditions prejudicial
to their development. This piece of legislation supplies the inadequacies of
existing laws treating crimes committed against children, namely, the Revised
Penal Code and Presidential Decree No. 603 or the Child and Youth Welfare
Code. As a statute that provides for a mechanism for strong deterrence against
the commission of child abuse and exploitation, the law has stiffer penalties for
their commission, and a means by which child traffickers could easily be
prosecuted and penalized. Also, the definition of child abuse is expanded to
encompass not only those specific acts of child abuse under existing laws but
includes also other acts of neglect, abuse, cruelty or exploitation and other
conditions prejudicial to the childs development.[20]

However, this noble statute should not be used as a sharp sword, ready to be brandished against
an accused even if there is a patent lack of proof to convict him of the crime. The right of an
accused to liberty is as important as a minors right not to be subjected to any form of abuse.
Both are enshrined in the Constitution. One need not be sacrificed for the other.
There is no dearth of law, rules and regulations protecting a child from any and all forms of
abuse. While unfortunately, incidents of maltreatment of children abound amidst social ills,
care has to be likewise taken that wayward youths should not be cuddled by a misapplication of
the law. Society, through its laws, should correct the deviant conduct of the youth rather than
take the cudgels for them. Lest we regress to a culture of juvenile delinquency and errant
behavior, laws for the protection of children against abuse should be applied only and strictly to
actual abusers.

The objective of this seemingly catch-all provision on abuses against children will be best
achieved if parameters are set in the law itself, if only to prevent baseless accusations against
innocent individuals. Perhaps the time has come for Congress to review this matter and
institute the safeguards necessary for the attainment of its laudable ends.

We reiterate our ruling in People v. Mamalias:[21]


We emphasize that the great goal of our criminal law and procedure is not to
send people to the gaol but to do justice. The prosecutions job is to prove that the
accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Conviction must be based on the
strength of the prosecution and not on the weakness of the defense. Thus, when
the evidence of the prosecution is not enough to sustain a conviction, it must be
rejected and the accused absolved and released at once.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The August 28, 2008 decision and
January 15, 2009 resolution of Court of Appeals are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner
Julius Amanquiton is hereby ACQUITTED of violation of Section 10 (a), Article VI of RA 7160.

SO ORDERED.
JOHN ERIC LONEY, G.R. No. 152644
STEVEN PAUL REID and
PEDRO B. HERNANDEZ,
Petitioners, Present:

QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson,


CARPIO,
- versus - CARPIO MORALES, and
TINGA, JJ.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Promulgated:
Respondent. February 10, 2006

x--------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

This is a petition for review[1] of the Decision[2] dated 5 November 2001 and the Resolution
dated 14 March 2002 of the Court of Appeals. The 5 November 2001 Decision affirmed the
ruling of the Regional Trial Court, Boac, Marinduque, Branch 94, in a suit to quash
Informations filed against petitioners John Eric Loney, Steven Paul Reid, and Pedro B.
Hernandez (petitioners). The 14 March 2002 Resolution denied petitioners motion for
reconsideration.

The Facts

Petitioners John Eric Loney, Steven Paul Reid, and Pedro B. Hernandez are the President and
Chief Executive Officer, Senior Manager, and Resident Manager for Mining Operations,
respectively, of Marcopper Mining Corporation (Marcopper), a corporation engaged in mining
in the province of Marinduque.

Marcopper had been storing tailings[3] from its operations in a pit in Mt. Tapian, Marinduque.
At the base of the pit ran a drainage tunnel leading to the Boac and Makalupnit rivers. It
appears that Marcopper had placed a concrete plug at the tunnels end. On 24 March 1994,
tailings gushed out of or near the tunnels end. In a few days, the Mt. Tapian pit had discharged
millions of tons of tailings into the Boac and Makalupnit rivers.

In August 1996, the Department of Justice separately charged petitioners in the Municipal Trial
Court of Boac, Marinduque (MTC) with violation of Article 91(B), [4] sub-paragraphs 5 and 6 of
Presidential Decree No. 1067 or the Water Code of the Philippines (PD 1067), [5] Section 8[6] of
Presidential Decree No. 984 or the National Pollution Control Decree of 1976 (PD
984),[7] Section 108[8] of Republic Act No. 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 (RA
7942),[9] and Article 365[10] of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) for Reckless Imprudence Resulting
in Damage to Property.[11]
Petitioners moved to quash the Informations on the following grounds: (1) the Informations
were duplicitous as the Department of Justice charged more than one offense for a single act; (2)
petitioners John Eric Loney and Steven Paul Reid were not yet officers of Marcopper when the
incident subject of the Informations took place; and (3) the Informations contain allegations
which constitute legal excuse or justification.

The Ruling of the MTC


In its Joint Order of 16 January 1997 (Joint Order), the MTC[12] initially deferred ruling on
petitioners motion for lack of indubitable ground for the quashing of the [I]nformations x x x.
The MTC scheduled petitioners arraignment in February 1997. However, on petitioners motion,
the MTC issued a Consolidated Order on 28 April 1997 (Consolidated Order), granting partial
reconsideration to its Joint Order and quashing the Informations for violation of PD 1067 and
PD 984. The MTC maintained the Informations for violation of RA 7942 and Article 365 of the
RPC. The MTC held:
[T]he 12 Informations have common allegations of pollutants pointing to mine
tailings which were precipitately discharged into the Makulapnit and Boac Rivers
due to breach caused on the Tapian drainage/tunnel due to negligence or failure
to institute adequate measures to prevent pollution and siltation of the
Makulapnit and Boac River systems, the very term and condition required to be
undertaken under the Environmental Compliance Certificate issued on April 1,
1990.

The allegations in the informations point to same set [sic] of evidence required to
prove the single fact of pollution constituting violation of the Water Code and the
Pollution Law which are the same set of evidence necessary to prove the same
single fact of pollution, in proving the elements constituting violation of the
conditions of ECC, issued pursuant to the Philippine Mining Act. In both
instances, the terms and conditions of the Environmental Compliance Certificate
were allegedly violated. In other words, the same set of evidence is required in
proving violations of the three (3) special laws.

After carefully analyzing and weighing the contending arguments of the parties
and after taking into consideration the applicable laws and jurisprudence, the
Court is convinced that as far as the three (3) aforesaid laws are concerned, only
the Information for [v]iolation of Philippine Mining Act should be
maintained. In other words, the Informations for [v]iolation of Anti-Pollution
Law (PD 984) and the Water Code (PD 1067) should be dismissed/quashed
because the elements constituting the aforesaid violations are absorbed by the
same elements which constitute violation of the Philippine Mining Act (RA
7942).

Therefore, x x x Criminal Case[] Nos. 96-44, 96-45 and 96-46 for [v]iolation of
the Water Code; and Criminal Case[] Nos. 96-47, 96-48 and 96-49 for [v]iolation
of the Anti-Pollution Law x x x are hereby DISMISSED or QUASHED and
Criminal Case[] Nos. 96-50, 96-51 and 96-52 for [v]iolation of the Philippine
Mining Act are hereby retained to be tried on the merits.

The Information for [v]iolation of Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code should
also be maintained and heard in a full blown trial because the common
accusation therein is reckless imprudence resulting to [sic] damage to
property. It is the damage to property which the law punishes not the negligent
act of polluting the water system. The prosecution for the [v]iolation of
Philippine Mining Act is not a bar to the prosecution for reckless imprudence
resulting to [sic] damage to property.[13]

The MTC re-scheduled petitioners arraignment on the remaining charges on 28 and 29 May
1997. In the hearing of 28 May 1997, petitioners manifested that they were willing to be
arraigned on the charge for violation of Article 365 of the RPC but not on the charge for
violation of RA 7942 as they intended to appeal the Consolidated Order in so far as it
maintained the Informations for that offense. After making of record petitioners manifestation,
the MTC proceeded with the arraignment and ordered the entry of not guilty pleas on the
charges for violation of RA 7942 and Article 365 of the RPC.

Petitioners subsequently filed a petition for certiorari with the Regional Trial Court, Boac,
Marinduque, assailing that portion of the Consolidated Order maintaining the Informations for
violation of RA 7942. Petitioners petition was raffled to Branch 94. For its part, public
respondent filed an ordinary appeal with the same court assailing that portion of the
Consolidated Order quashing the Informations for violation of PD 1067 and PD 984. Public
respondents appeal was raffled to Branch 38. On public respondents motion, Branch 38
ordered public respondents appeal consolidated with petitioners petition in Branch 94.

The Ruling of Branch 94

In its Resolution[14] of 20 March 1998, Branch 94 granted public respondents appeal but denied
petitioners petition. Branch 94 set aside the Consolidated Order in so far as it quashed the
Informations for violation of PD 1067 and PD 984 and ordered those charges reinstated. Branch
94 affirmed the Consolidated Order in all other respects. Branch 94 held:

After a careful perusal of the laws concerned, this court is of the opinion that
there can be no absorption by one offense of the three other offenses, as [the]
acts penalized by these laws are separate and distinct from each other. The
elements of proving each violation are not the same with each other. Concededly,
the single act of dumping mine tailings which resulted in the pollution of the
Makulapnit and Boac rivers was the basis for the information[s] filed against the
accused each charging a distinct offense. But it is also a well-established rule in
this jurisdiction that

A single act may offend against two or more entirely distinct and
unrelated provisions of law, and if one provision requires proof of
an additional fact or element which the other does not, an
acquittal or conviction or a dismissal of the information under one
does not bar prosecution under the other. x x x.

xxxx

[T]he different laws involve cannot absorb one another as the elements of each
crime are different from one another. Each of these laws require [sic] proof of an
additional fact or element which the other does not although they stemmed from
a single act.[15]

Petitioners filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals alleging that Branch 94 acted
with grave abuse of discretion because (1) the Informations for violation of PD 1067, PD 984,
RA 7942 and the Article 365 of the RPC proceed from and are based on a single act or incident
of polluting the Boac and Makalupnit rivers thru dumping of mine tailings and (2) the
duplicitous nature of the Informations contravenes the ruling in People v.
Relova.[16] Petitioners further contended that since the acts complained of in the charges for
violation of PD 1067, PD 984, and RA 7942 are the very same acts complained of in the charge
for violation of Article 365 of the RPC, the latter absorbs the former. Hence, petitioners should
only be prosecuted for violation of Article 365 of the RPC.[17]

The Ruling of the Court of Appeals

In its Decision of 5 November 2001, the Court of Appeals affirmed Branch 94s ruling. The
appellate court held:

The records of the case disclose that petitioners filed a motion to quash the
aforementioned Informations for being duplicitous in nature. Section 3 of Rule
117 of the Revised Rules of Court specifically provides the grounds upon which
an information may be quashed. x x x

xxxx

[D]uplicity of Informations is not among those included in x x x [Section 3, Rule


117].

xxxx
We now go to petitioners claim that the resolution of the public
respondent contravened the doctrine laid down in People vs. Relova for being
violative of their right against multiple prosecutions.

In the said case, the Supreme Court found the Peoples argument with respect to
the variances in the mens rea of the two offenses being charged to be
correct. The Court, however, decided the case in the context of the second
sentence of Article IV (22) of the 1973 Constitution (now under Section 21 of
Article III of the 1987 Constitution), rather than the first sentence of the same
section. x x x

xxxx

[T]he doctrine laid down in the Relova case does not squarely apply to the case at
Bench since the Informations filed against the petitioners are for violation of four
separate and distinct laws which are national in character.

xxxx

This Court firmly agrees in the public respondents understanding that


the laws by which the petitioners have been [charged] could not possibly absorb
one another as the elements of each crime are different. Each of these laws
require [sic] proof of an additional fact or element which the other does not,
although they stemmed from a single act. x x x

xxxx

[T]his Court finds that there is not even the slightest indicia of evidence that
would give rise to any suspicion that public respondent acted with grave abuse of
discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction in reversing the Municipal
Trial Courts quashal of the Informations against the petitioners for violation of
P.D. 1067 and P.D. 984. This Court equally finds no error in the trial courts
denial of the petitioners motion to quash R.A. 7942 and Article 365 of the
Revised Penal Code.[18]

Petitioners sought reconsideration but the Court of Appeals denied their motion in its
Resolution of 14 March 2002.

Petitioners raise the following alleged errors of the Court of Appeals:

I. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED A R[E]VERSIBLE ERROR IN


MAINTAINING THE CHARGES FOR VIOLATION OF THE PHILIPPINE
MINING ACT (R.A. 7942) AND REINSTATING THE CHARGES FOR
VIOLATION OF THE WATER CODE (P.D. 1067) AND POLLUTION CONTROL
LAW (P.D. 984), CONSIDERING THAT:

A. THE INFORMATIONS FOR VIOLATION OF THE WATER


CODE (P.D. 1067), THE POLLUTION CONTROL LAW (P.D.
984), THE PHILIPPINE MINING ACT (R.A. 7942) AND
ARTICLE 365 OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE PROCEED
FROM AND ARE BASED ON A SINGLE ACT OR INCIDENT OF
POLLUTING THE BOAC AND MAKULAPNIT RIVERS THRU
DUMPING OF MINE TAILINGS.
B. THE PROSECUTION OF PETITIONERS FOR DUPLICITOUS
AND MULTIPLE CHARGES CONTRAVENES THE DOCTRINE
LAID DOWN IN PEOPLE VS. RELOVA, 148 SCRA 292 [1986]
THAT AN ACCUSED SHOULD NOT BE HARASSED BY
MULTIPLE PROSECUTIONS FOR OFFENSES WHICH
THOUGH DIFFERENT FROM ONE ANOTHER ARE
NONETHELESS EACH CONSTITUTED BY A COMMON SET OR
OVERLAPPING SETS OF TECHNICAL ELEMENTS.
II. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED A REVERSIBLE ERROR IN
RULING THAT THE ELEMENT OF LACK OF NECESSARY OR ADEQUATE
PRECAUTION, NEGLIGENCE, RECKLESSNESS AND IMPRUDENCE UNDER
ARTICLE 356 [sic] OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE DOES NOT FALL WITHIN
THE AMBIT OF ANY OF THE ELEMENTS OF THE PERTINENT PROVISIONS
OF THE WATER CODE, POLLUTION CONTROL LAW AND PHILIPPINE
MINING ACT CHARGED AGAINST PETITIONERS[.][19]

The Issues

The petition raises these issues:

(1) Whether all the charges filed against petitioners except one should be quashed for
duplicity of charges and only the charge for Reckless Imprudence Resulting in
Damage to Property should stand; and
(2) Whether Branch 94s ruling, as affirmed by the Court of Appeals,
contravenes People v. Relova.

The Ruling of the Court

The petition has no merit.

No Duplicity of Charges in the Present Case


Duplicity of charges simply means a single complaint or information charges more than one
offense, as Section 13 of Rule 110[20] of the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure clearly states:
Duplicity of offense. A complaint or information must charge but one
offense, except only in those cases in which existing laws prescribe a single
punishment for various offenses.

In short, there is duplicity (or multiplicity) of charges when a single Information charges
more than one offense.[21]

Under Section 3(e), Rule 117[22] of the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure, duplicity of
offenses in a single information is a ground to quash the Information. The Rules prohibit the
filing of such Information to avoid confusing the accused in preparing his defense.[23] Here,
however, the prosecution charged each petitioner with four offenses, with each Information
charging only one offense. Thus, petitioners erroneously invoke duplicity of charges as a
ground to quash the Informations.On this score alone, the petition deserves outright denial.

The Filing of Several Charges is Proper

Petitioners contend that they should be charged with one offense only Reckless Imprudence
Resulting in Damage to Property because (1) all the charges filed against them proceed from
and are based on a single act or incident of polluting the Boac and Makalupnit rivers thru
dumping of mine tailings and (2) the charge for violation of Article 365 of the RPC absorbs the
other charges since the element of lack of necessary or adequate protection, negligence,
recklessness and imprudence is common among them.

The contention has no merit.


As early as the start of the last century, this Court had ruled that a single act or incident
might offend against two or more entirely distinct and unrelated provisions of law thus
justifying the prosecution of the accused for more than one offense.[24] The only limit to this rule
is the Constitutional prohibition that no person shall be twice put in jeopardy of punishment
for the same offense.[25] In People v. Doriquez,[26] we held that two (or more) offenses
arising from the same act are not the same

x x x if one provision [of law] requires proof of an additional fact or element


which the other does not, x x x. Phrased elsewise, where two different laws (or
articles of the same code) define two crimes, prior jeopardy as to one of them is
no obstacle to a prosecution of the other, although both offenses arise from the
same facts, if each crime involves some important act which is not an
essential element of the other.[27] (Emphasis supplied)
Here, double jeopardy is not at issue because not all of its elements are present.[28] However, for
the limited purpose of controverting petitioners claim that they should be charged with one
offense only, we quote with approval Branch 94s comparative analysis of PD 1067, PD 984, RA
7942, and Article 365 of the RPC showing that in each of these laws on which petitioners were
charged, there is one essential element not required of the others, thus:
In P.D. 1067 (Philippines Water Code), the additional element to be established
is the dumping of mine tailings into the Makulapnit River and the entire Boac
River System without prior permit from the authorities concerned. The
gravamen of the offense here is the absence of the proper permit to dump said
mine tailings. This element is not indispensable in the prosecution for violation
of PD 984 (Anti-Pollution Law), [RA] 7942 (Philippine Mining Act) and Art. 365
of the Revised Penal Code. One can be validly prosecuted for violating the Water
Code even in the absence of actual pollution, or even [if] it has complied with the
terms of its Environmental Compliance Certificate, or further, even [if] it did
take the necessary precautions to prevent damage to property.

In P.D. 984 (Anti-Pollution Law), the additional fact that must be proved is the
existence of actual pollution. The gravamen is the pollution itself. In the absence
of any pollution, the accused must be exonerated under this law although there
was unauthorized dumping of mine tailings or lack of precaution on its part to
prevent damage to property.

In R.A. 7942 (Philippine Mining Act), the additional fact that must be established
is the willful violation and gross neglect on the part of the accused to abide by the
terms and conditions of the Environmental Compliance Certificate, particularly
that the Marcopper should ensure the containment of run-off and silt materials
from reaching the Mogpog and Boac Rivers. If there was no violation or neglect,
and that the accused satisfactorily proved [sic] that Marcopper had done
everything to ensure containment of the run-off and silt materials, they will not
be liable. It does not follow, however, that they cannot be prosecuted under the
Water Code, Anti-Pollution Law and the Revised Penal Code because violation of
the Environmental Compliance Certificate is not an essential element of these
laws.

On the other hand, the additional element that must be established in Art. 365 of
the Revised Penal Code is the lack of necessary or adequate precaution,
negligence, recklessness and imprudence on the part of the accused to prevent
damage to property. This element is not required under the previous
laws. Unquestionably, it is different from dumping of mine tailings without
permit, or causing pollution to the Boac river system, much more from violation
or neglect to abide by the terms of the Environmental Compliance
Certificate. Moreover, the offenses punished by special law
are mal[a] prohibita in contrast with those punished by the Revised Penal Code
which are mala in se.[29]

Consequently, the filing of the multiple charges against petitioners, although based on the same
incident, is consistent with settled doctrine.

On petitioners claim that the charge for violation of Article 365 of the RPC absorbs the charges
for violation of PD 1067, PD 984, and RA 7942, suffice it to say that a mala in se felony (such as
Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Damage to Property) cannot absorb mala prohibita crimes
(such as those violating PD 1067, PD 984, and RA 7942). What makes the former a felony is
criminal intent (dolo) or negligence (culpa); what makes the latter crimes are the special laws
enacting them.

People v. Relova not in Point

Petitioners reiterate their contention in the Court of Appeals that their prosecution contravenes
this Courts ruling in People v. Relova. In particular, petitioners cite the Courts statement
in Relova that the law seeks to prevent harassment of the accused by multiple prosecutions for
offenses which though different from one another are nonetheless each constituted by a
common set or overlapping sets of technical elements.
This contention is also without merit.

The issue in Relova is whether the act of the Batangas Acting City Fiscal in charging
one Manuel Opulencia (Opulencia) with theft of electric power under the RPC, after the latter
had been acquitted of violating a City Ordinance penalizing the unauthorized installation of
electrical wiring, violated Opulencias right against double jeopardy. We held that it did, not
because the offenses punished by those two laws were the same but because the act giving rise
to the charges was punished by an ordinance and a national statute, thus falling within the
proscription against multiple prosecutions for the same act under the second sentence in
Section 22, Article IV of the 1973 Constitution, now Section 21, Article III of the 1987
Constitution. We held:

The petitioner concludes that:

The unauthorized installation punished by the ordinance


[of Batangas City] is not the same as theft of electricity [under the
Revised Penal Code]; that the second offense is not an attempt to commit the
first or a frustration thereof and that the second offense is not necessarily
included in the offense charged in the first information.

The above argument[ ] made by the petitioner [is] of course


correct. This is clear both from the express terms of the constitutional provision
involved which reads as follows:

No person shall be twice put in jeopardy of punishment for the same


offense. If an act is punished by a law and an ordinance, conviction or acquittal
under either shall constitute a bar to another prosecution for the same act. x x x

and from our case law on this point. The basic difficulty with the
petitioners position is that it must be examined, not under the terms
of the first sentence of Article IV (22) of the 1973 Constitution, but
rather under the second sentence of the same section. The first sentence
of Article IV (22) sets forth the general rule: the constitutional protection against
double jeopardy is not available where the second prosecution is for an offense
that is different from the offense charged in the first or prior prosecution,
although both the first and second offenses may be based upon the same act or set
of acts. The second sentence of Article IV (22) embodies an exception to
the general proposition: the constitutional protection, against double
jeopardy is available although the prior offense charged under an
ordinance be different from the offense charged subsequently under a
national statute such as the Revised Penal Code, provided that both
offenses spring from the same act or set of acts. x x x[30] (Italicization in
the original; boldfacing supplied)

Thus, Relova is no authority for petitioners claim against multiple prosecutions based on a
single act not only because the question of double jeopardy is not at issue here, but also because,
as the Court of Appeals held, petitioners are being prosecuted for an act or incident punished by
four national statutes and not by an ordinance and a national statute. In short, petitioners, if
ever, fall under the first sentence of Section 21, Article III which prohibits multiple prosecution
for the same offense, and not, as in Relova, for offenses arising from the same incident.

WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. We AFFIRM the Decision dated 5 November


2001 and the Resolution dated 14 March 2002 of the Court of Appeals.

SO ORDERED.
BERSAMIN, J.:
Frustrated homicide requires intent to kill on the part of the offender. Without proof of such
intent, the felony may only be serious physical injuries. Intent to kill may be established
through the overt and external acts and conduct of the offender before, during and after the
assault, or by the nature, location and number of the wounds inflicted on the victim.

The Case

Under review at the instance of the petitioner is the decision promulgated on September 27,
2006,[1] whereby the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed his conviction for frustrated homicide
committed against Alexander Flojo under the judgment rendered on September 10, 2003 by the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 213, in Mandaluyong City in Criminal Case No. 191-MD.[2]

Antecedents

The CA summarized the versions of the parties as follows:


x x x [O]n December 24, 1997, at about ten o'clock in the evening, Alexander
Flojo (hereafter "Alexander") was fetching water below his rented house at 443
Aglipay Street, Old Zaniga St., Mandaluyong City when suddenly Alfredo De
Guzman (hereafter "Alfredo"), the brother of his land lady, Lucila Bautista
(hereafter "Lucila"), hit him on the nape. Alexander informed Lucila about what
Alfredo did to him. Lucila apologized to Alexander by saying, "Pasensya ka na
Mang Alex" and told the latter to just go up. Alexander obliged and went upstairs.
He took a rest for about two hours. Thereafter, at around 12:00 to 12:15 A.M.,
Alexander went down and continued to fetch water. While pouring water into a
container, Alfredo suddenly appeared in front of Alexander and stabbed him on
his left face and chest.

Cirilino Bantaya, a son-in-law of Alexander, saw the latter bleeding on the left
portion of his body and begging for help. Alexander then told Cirilino that
Alfredo stabbed him. Cirilino immediately loaded Alexander into his motorcycle
(backride) and brought him to the Mandaluyong City Medical Center. Upon
arrival at the hospital, the doctors immediately rendered medical assistance to
Alexander. Alexander stayed in the emergency room of said hospital for about 30
to 40 minutes. Then, he was brought to the second floor of the said hospital
where he was confined for two days. Thereafter, Alexander was transferred to the
Polymedic General Hospital where he was subjected for (sic) further medical
examination.

Alexander sustained two stabbed (sic) wounds. (sic) One of which was on the
zygoma, left side, and about one (1) cm. long. The other is on his upper left chest
which penetrated the fourth intercostal space at the proximal clavicular line
measuring about two (2) cm. The second stabbed (sic) wound penetrated the
thoracic wall and left lung of the victim which resulted to blood air (sic) in the
thoracic cavity thus necessitating the insertion of a thoracostomy tube to remove
the blood. According to Dr. Francisco Obmerga, the physician who treated the
victim at the Mandaluyong City Medical Center, the second wound was fatal and
could have caused Alexander's death without timely medical intervention. (Tsn,
July 8, 1998, p.8).

On the other hand, Alfredo denied having stabbed Alexander. According to him,
on December 25, 1997 at around midnight, he passed by Alexander who was,
then, fixing a motorcycle. At that point, he accidentally hit Alexander's back,
causing the latter to throw invective words against him. He felt insulted, thus, a
fistfight ensued between them. They even rolled on the ground. Alfredo hit
Alexander on the cheek causing blood to ooze from the latter's face.[3]

The RTC convicted the petitioner, decreeing thusly:


PRESCINDING (sic) FROM THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, the court
finds accused Alfredo De Guzman y Agkis a.k.a., "JUNIOR," guilty beyond
reasonable doubt for (sic) the crime of FRUSTRATED HOMICIDE defined and
penalized in Article 250 of the Revised Penal Code and in the absence of any
modifying circumstance, he is hereby sentenced to suffer the indeterminate
penalty of Six (6) Months and One (1) day of PRISION CORR[R]ECCIONAL
as MINIMUM to Six (6) Years and One (1) day of PRISION MAYOR
as MAXIMUM.

The accused is further ordered to pay the private complainant compensatory


damages in the amount of P14,170.35 representing the actual pecuniary loss
suffered by him as he has duly proven.

SO ORDERED.[4]

On appeal, the petitioner contended that his guilt had not been proved beyond reasonable doubt;
that intent to kill, the critical element of the crime charged, was not established; that the
injuries sustained by Alexander were mere scuffmarks inflicted in the heat of anger during the
fistfight between them; that he did not inflict the stab wounds, insisting that another person
could have inflicted such wounds; and that he had caused only slight physical injuries on
Alexander, for which he should be accordingly found guilty.

Nonetheless, the CA affirmed the petitioner's conviction, viz:


WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is DISMISSED. The
September 10, 2003 Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Mandaluyong City,
Branch 213, is hereby AFFIRMED in toto.

SO ORDERED.[5]

The CA denied the petitioner's motion for reconsideration on May 2, 2007.[6]

Issue

Was the petitioner properly found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of frustrated homicide?

Ruling

The appeal lacks merit.

The elements of frustrated homicide are: (1) the accused intended to kill his victim, as
manifested by his use of a deadly weapon in his assault; (2) the victim sustained fatal or mortal
wound but did not die because of timely medical assistance; and (3) none of the qualifying
circumstances for murder under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, is
present.[7] Inasmuch as the trial and appellate courts found none of the qualifying
circumstances in murder under Article 248 to be present, we immediately proceed to ascertain
the presence of the two other elements.

The petitioner adamantly denies that intent to kill was present during the fistfight between him
and Alexander. He claims that the heightened emotions during the fistfight naturally
emboldened both of them, but he maintains that he only inflicted minor abrasions on Alexander,
not the stab wounds that he appeared to have sustained. Hence, he should be held liable only
for serious physical injuries because the intent to kill, the necessary element to characterize the
crime as homicide, was not sufficiently established. He avers that such intent to kill is the main
element that distinguishes the crime of physical injuries from the crime of homicide; and that
the crime is homicide only if the intent to kill is competently shown.

The essential element in frustrated or attempted homicide is the intent of the offender to kill the
victim immediately before or simultaneously with the infliction of injuries. Intent to kill is a
specific intent that the State must allege in the information, and then prove by either direct or
circumstantial evidence, as differentiated from a general criminal intent, which is presumed
from the commission of a felony by dolo.[8] Intent to kill, being a state of mind, is discerned by
the courts only through external manifestations, i.e., the acts and conduct of the accused at the
time of the assault and immediately thereafter. In Rivera v. People,[9] we considered the
following factors to determine the presence of intent to kill, namely: (1) the means used by the
malefactors; (2) the nature, location, and number of wounds sustained by the victim; (3) the
conduct of the malefactors before, during, or immediately after the killing of the victim; and (4)
the circumstances under which the crime was committed and the motives of the accused. We
have also considered as determinative factors the motive of the offender and the words he
uttered at the time of inflicting the injuries on the victim.[10]

Here, both the trial and the appellate court agreed that intent to kill was present. We concur
with them. Contrary to the petitioner's submission, the wounds sustained by Alexander were
not mere scuffmarks inflicted in the heat of anger or as the result of a fistfight between them.
The petitioner wielded and used a knife in his assault on Alexander. The medical records
indicate, indeed, that Alexander sustained two stab wounds, specifically, one on his upper left
chest and the other on the left side of his face. The petitioner's attack was unprovoked with the
knife used therein causing such wounds, thereby belying his submission, and firmly proving the
presence of intent to kill. There is also to be no doubt about the wound on Alexander's chest
being sufficient to result into his death were it not for the timely medical intervention.

With the State having thereby shown that the petitioner already performed all the acts of
execution that should produce the felony of homicide as a consequence, but did not produce it
by reason of causes independent of his will, i.e., the timely medical attention accorded to
Alexander, he was properly found guilty of frustrated homicide.

We have no cogent reason to deviate from or to disregard the findings of the trial and appellate
courts on the credibility of Alexander's testimony. It is not disputed that the testimony of a
single but credible and trustworthy witness sufficed to support the conviction of the petitioner.
This guideline finds more compelling application when the lone witness is the victim himself
whose direct and positive identification of his assailant is almost always regarded with
indubitable credibility, owing to the natural tendency of the victim to seek justice for himself,
and thus strive to remember the face of his assailant and to recall the manner in which the latter
committed the crime.[11] Moreover, it is significant that the petitioner's mere denial of the
deadly manner of his attack was contradicted by the credible physical evidence corroborating
Alexander's statements. Under the circumstances, we can only affirm the petitioner's conviction
for frustrated homicide.

The affirmance of the conviction notwithstanding, we find the indeterminate penalty of "Six (6)
Months and One (1) day of PRISION CORR[R]ECCIONAL as MINIMUM to Six (6) Years and
One (1) day of PRISION MAYOR as MAXIMUM"[12] fixed by the RTC erroneous despite the CA
concurring with the trial court thereon. Under Section 1 of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, an
indeterminate sentence is imposed on the offender consisting of a maximum term and a
minimum term.[13] The maximum term is the penalty properly imposed under the Revised
Penal Code after considering any attending modifying circumstances; while the minimum term
is within the range of the penalty next lower than that prescribed by the Revised Penal Code for
the offense committed. Conformably with Article 50 of the Revised Penal Code,[14] frustrated
homicide is punished by prision mayor, which is next lower to reclusion temporal, the penalty
for homicide under Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code. There being no aggravating or
mitigating circumstances present, however, prision mayor in its medium period from eight
years and one day to 10 years is proper. As can be seen, the maximum of six years and one day
of prision mayor as fixed by the RTC and affirmed by the CA was not within the medium period
of prision mayor. Accordingly, the correct indeterminate sentence is four years of prision
correccional, as the minimum, to eight years and one day of prision mayor, as the maximum.

The RTC and the CA also agreed on limiting the civil liability to the sum of P14,170.35 as
compensatory damages "representing the actual pecuniary loss suffered by [Alexander] as he
has duly proven."[15] We need to revise such civil liability in order to conform to the law,
the Rules of Court and relevant jurisprudence. In Bacolod v. People,[16] we emphatically
declared to be "imperative that the courts prescribe the proper penalties when convicting the
accused, and determine the civil liability to be imposed on the accused, unless there has been a
reservation of the action to recover civil liability or a waiver of its recovery." We explained why
in the following manner:
It is not amiss to stress that both the RTC and the CA disregarded their express
mandate under Section 2, Rule 120 of the Rules of Court to have the judgment, if
it was of conviction, state: "(1) the legal qualification of the offense constituted by
the acts committed by the accused and the aggravating or mitigating
circumstances which attended its commission; (2) the participation of the
accused in the offense, whether as principal, accomplice, or accessory after the
fact; (3) the penalty imposed upon the accused; and (4) the civil
liability or damages caused by his wrongful act or omission to be
recovered from the accused by the offended party, if there is any,
unless the enforcement of the civil liability by a separate civil action
has been reserved or waived." Their disregard compels us to act as we now
do lest the Court be unreasonably seen as tolerant of their omission. That the
Spouses Cogtas did not themselves seek the correction of the omission by an
appeal is no hindrance to this action because the Court, as the final reviewing
tribunal, has not only the authority but also the duty to correct at any time a
matter of law and justice.

We also pointedly remind all trial and appellate courts to avoid omitting reliefs
that the parties are properly entitled to by law or in equity under the established
facts. Their judgments will not be worthy of the name unless they thereby fully
determine the rights and obligations of the litigants. It cannot be otherwise, for
only by a full determination of such rights and obligations would they be true to
the judicial office of administering justice and equity for all. Courts should then
be alert and cautious in their rendition of judgments of conviction in criminal
cases. They should prescribe the legal penalties, which is what the Constitution
and the law require and expect them to do. Their prescription of the wrong
penalties will be invalid and ineffectual for being done without jurisdiction or in
manifest grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. They should
also determine and set the civil liability ex delicto of the accused, in order to do
justice to the complaining victims who are always entitled to them. The Rules of
Court mandates them to do so unless the enforcement of the civil liability by
separate actions has been reserved or waived.[17]

Alexander as the victim in frustrated homicide suffered moral injuries because the offender
committed violence that nearly took away the victim's life. "Moral damages include physical
suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings,
moral shock, social humiliation, and similar injury. Though incapable of pecuniary computation,
moral damages may be recovered if they are the proximate result of the defendant's wrongful
act for omission."[18] Indeed, Article 2219, (1), of the Civil Code expressly recognizes the right
of the victim in crimes resulting in physical injuries.[19] Towards that end, the Court, upon its
appreciation of the records, decrees that P30,000.00 is a reasonable award of moral
damages.[20] In addition, AAA was entitled to recover civil indemnity of P30,000.00.[21] Both
of these awards did not require allegation and proof.

In addition, the amounts awarded as civil liability of the petitioner shall earn interest of 6% per
annum reckoned from the finality of this decision until full payment by the accused.

WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the decision promulgated on September 27, 2006
finding petitioner Alfredo De Guzman, Jr. GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt
of FRUSTRATED HOMICIDE, and SENTENCES him to suffer the indeterminate penalty
of four years of prision correccional, as the minimum, to eight years and one day of prision
mayor, as the maximum; ORDERS the petitioner to pay to Alexander Flojo civil indemnity of
P30,000.00; moral damages of P30,000.00; and compensatory damages of P14,170.35, plus
interest of 6% per annum on all such awards from the finality of this decision until full payment;
and DIRECTS the petitioner to pay the costs of suit.

SO ORDERED.
[ GR No. 178512, Nov 26, 2014 ]

ALFREDO DE GUZMAN v. PEOPLE +

DECISION

BERSAMIN, J.:
Frustrated homicide requires intent to kill on the part of the offender. Without proof of such
intent, the felony may only be serious physical injuries. Intent to kill may be established
through the overt and external acts and conduct of the offender before, during and after the
assault, or by the nature, location and number of the wounds inflicted on the victim.

The Case

Under review at the instance of the petitioner is the decision promulgated on September 27,
2006,[1] whereby the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed his conviction for frustrated homicide
committed against Alexander Flojo under the judgment rendered on September 10, 2003 by the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 213, in Mandaluyong City in Criminal Case No. 191-MD.[2]

Antecedents

The CA summarized the versions of the parties as follows:


x x x [O]n December 24, 1997, at about ten o'clock in the evening, Alexander
Flojo (hereafter "Alexander") was fetching water below his rented house at 443
Aglipay Street, Old Zaniga St., Mandaluyong City when suddenly Alfredo De
Guzman (hereafter "Alfredo"), the brother of his land lady, Lucila Bautista
(hereafter "Lucila"), hit him on the nape. Alexander informed Lucila about what
Alfredo did to him. Lucila apologized to Alexander by saying, "Pasensya ka na
Mang Alex" and told the latter to just go up. Alexander obliged and went upstairs.
He took a rest for about two hours. Thereafter, at around 12:00 to 12:15 A.M.,
Alexander went down and continued to fetch water. While pouring water into a
container, Alfredo suddenly appeared in front of Alexander and stabbed him on
his left face and chest.

Cirilino Bantaya, a son-in-law of Alexander, saw the latter bleeding on the left
portion of his body and begging for help. Alexander then told Cirilino that
Alfredo stabbed him. Cirilino immediately loaded Alexander into his motorcycle
(backride) and brought him to the Mandaluyong City Medical Center. Upon
arrival at the hospital, the doctors immediately rendered medical assistance to
Alexander. Alexander stayed in the emergency room of said hospital for about 30
to 40 minutes. Then, he was brought to the second floor of the said hospital
where he was confined for two days. Thereafter, Alexander was transferred to the
Polymedic General Hospital where he was subjected for (sic) further medical
examination.

Alexander sustained two stabbed (sic) wounds. (sic) One of which was on the
zygoma, left side, and about one (1) cm. long. The other is on his upper left chest
which penetrated the fourth intercostal space at the proximal clavicular line
measuring about two (2) cm. The second stabbed (sic) wound penetrated the
thoracic wall and left lung of the victim which resulted to blood air (sic) in the
thoracic cavity thus necessitating the insertion of a thoracostomy tube to remove
the blood. According to Dr. Francisco Obmerga, the physician who treated the
victim at the Mandaluyong City Medical Center, the second wound was fatal and
could have caused Alexander's death without timely medical intervention. (Tsn,
July 8, 1998, p.8).

On the other hand, Alfredo denied having stabbed Alexander. According to him,
on December 25, 1997 at around midnight, he passed by Alexander who was,
then, fixing a motorcycle. At that point, he accidentally hit Alexander's back,
causing the latter to throw invective words against him. He felt insulted, thus, a
fistfight ensued between them. They even rolled on the ground. Alfredo hit
Alexander on the cheek causing blood to ooze from the latter's face.[3]

The RTC convicted the petitioner, decreeing thusly:


PRESCINDING (sic) FROM THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, the court
finds accused Alfredo De Guzman y Agkis a.k.a., "JUNIOR," guilty beyond
reasonable doubt for (sic) the crime of FRUSTRATED HOMICIDE defined and
penalized in Article 250 of the Revised Penal Code and in the absence of any
modifying circumstance, he is hereby sentenced to suffer the indeterminate
penalty of Six (6) Months and One (1) day of PRISION CORR[R]ECCIONAL
as MINIMUM to Six (6) Years and One (1) day of PRISION MAYOR
as MAXIMUM.

The accused is further ordered to pay the private complainant compensatory


damages in the amount of P14,170.35 representing the actual pecuniary loss
suffered by him as he has duly proven.

SO ORDERED.[4]

On appeal, the petitioner contended that his guilt had not been proved beyond reasonable doubt;
that intent to kill, the critical element of the crime charged, was not established; that the
injuries sustained by Alexander were mere scuffmarks inflicted in the heat of anger during the
fistfight between them; that he did not inflict the stab wounds, insisting that another person
could have inflicted such wounds; and that he had caused only slight physical injuries on
Alexander, for which he should be accordingly found guilty.

Nonetheless, the CA affirmed the petitioner's conviction, viz:


WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is DISMISSED. The
September 10, 2003 Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Mandaluyong City,
Branch 213, is hereby AFFIRMED in toto.

SO ORDERED.[5]

The CA denied the petitioner's motion for reconsideration on May 2, 2007.[6]

Issue

Was the petitioner properly found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of frustrated homicide?

Ruling

The appeal lacks merit.

The elements of frustrated homicide are: (1) the accused intended to kill his victim, as
manifested by his use of a deadly weapon in his assault; (2) the victim sustained fatal or mortal
wound but did not die because of timely medical assistance; and (3) none of the qualifying
circumstances for murder under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, is
present.[7] Inasmuch as the trial and appellate courts found none of the qualifying
circumstances in murder under Article 248 to be present, we immediately proceed to ascertain
the presence of the two other elements.

The petitioner adamantly denies that intent to kill was present during the fistfight between him
and Alexander. He claims that the heightened emotions during the fistfight naturally
emboldened both of them, but he maintains that he only inflicted minor abrasions on Alexander,
not the stab wounds that he appeared to have sustained. Hence, he should be held liable only
for serious physical injuries because the intent to kill, the necessary element to characterize the
crime as homicide, was not sufficiently established. He avers that such intent to kill is the main
element that distinguishes the crime of physical injuries from the crime of homicide; and that
the crime is homicide only if the intent to kill is competently shown.

The essential element in frustrated or attempted homicide is the intent of the offender to kill the
victim immediately before or simultaneously with the infliction of injuries. Intent to kill is a
specific intent that the State must allege in the information, and then prove by either direct or
circumstantial evidence, as differentiated from a general criminal intent, which is presumed
from the commission of a felony by dolo.[8] Intent to kill, being a state of mind, is discerned by
the courts only through external manifestations, i.e., the acts and conduct of the accused at the
time of the assault and immediately thereafter. In Rivera v. People,[9] we considered the
following factors to determine the presence of intent to kill, namely: (1) the means used by the
malefactors; (2) the nature, location, and number of wounds sustained by the victim; (3) the
conduct of the malefactors before, during, or immediately after the killing of the victim; and (4)
the circumstances under which the crime was committed and the motives of the accused. We
have also considered as determinative factors the motive of the offender and the words he
uttered at the time of inflicting the injuries on the victim.[10]

Here, both the trial and the appellate court agreed that intent to kill was present. We concur
with them. Contrary to the petitioner's submission, the wounds sustained by Alexander were
not mere scuffmarks inflicted in the heat of anger or as the result of a fistfight between them.
The petitioner wielded and used a knife in his assault on Alexander. The medical records
indicate, indeed, that Alexander sustained two stab wounds, specifically, one on his upper left
chest and the other on the left side of his face. The petitioner's attack was unprovoked with the
knife used therein causing such wounds, thereby belying his submission, and firmly proving the
presence of intent to kill. There is also to be no doubt about the wound on Alexander's chest
being sufficient to result into his death were it not for the timely medical intervention.

With the State having thereby shown that the petitioner already performed all the acts of
execution that should produce the felony of homicide as a consequence, but did not produce it
by reason of causes independent of his will, i.e., the timely medical attention accorded to
Alexander, he was properly found guilty of frustrated homicide.

We have no cogent reason to deviate from or to disregard the findings of the trial and appellate
courts on the credibility of Alexander's testimony. It is not disputed that the testimony of a
single but credible and trustworthy witness sufficed to support the conviction of the petitioner.
This guideline finds more compelling application when the lone witness is the victim himself
whose direct and positive identification of his assailant is almost always regarded with
indubitable credibility, owing to the natural tendency of the victim to seek justice for himself,
and thus strive to remember the face of his assailant and to recall the manner in which the latter
committed the crime.[11] Moreover, it is significant that the petitioner's mere denial of the
deadly manner of his attack was contradicted by the credible physical evidence corroborating
Alexander's statements. Under the circumstances, we can only affirm the petitioner's conviction
for frustrated homicide.

The affirmance of the conviction notwithstanding, we find the indeterminate penalty of "Six (6)
Months and One (1) day of PRISION CORR[R]ECCIONAL as MINIMUM to Six (6) Years and
One (1) day of PRISION MAYOR as MAXIMUM"[12] fixed by the RTC erroneous despite the CA
concurring with the trial court thereon. Under Section 1 of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, an
indeterminate sentence is imposed on the offender consisting of a maximum term and a
minimum term.[13] The maximum term is the penalty properly imposed under the Revised
Penal Code after considering any attending modifying circumstances; while the minimum term
is within the range of the penalty next lower than that prescribed by the Revised Penal Code for
the offense committed. Conformably with Article 50 of the Revised Penal Code,[14] frustrated
homicide is punished by prision mayor, which is next lower to reclusion temporal, the penalty
for homicide under Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code. There being no aggravating or
mitigating circumstances present, however, prision mayor in its medium period from eight
years and one day to 10 years is proper. As can be seen, the maximum of six years and one day
of prision mayor as fixed by the RTC and affirmed by the CA was not within the medium period
of prision mayor. Accordingly, the correct indeterminate sentence is four years of prision
correccional, as the minimum, to eight years and one day of prision mayor, as the maximum.

The RTC and the CA also agreed on limiting the civil liability to the sum of P14,170.35 as
compensatory damages "representing the actual pecuniary loss suffered by [Alexander] as he
has duly proven."[15] We need to revise such civil liability in order to conform to the law,
the Rules of Court and relevant jurisprudence. In Bacolod v. People,[16] we emphatically
declared to be "imperative that the courts prescribe the proper penalties when convicting the
accused, and determine the civil liability to be imposed on the accused, unless there has been a
reservation of the action to recover civil liability or a waiver of its recovery." We explained why
in the following manner:
It is not amiss to stress that both the RTC and the CA disregarded their express
mandate under Section 2, Rule 120 of the Rules of Court to have the judgment, if
it was of conviction, state: "(1) the legal qualification of the offense constituted by
the acts committed by the accused and the aggravating or mitigating
circumstances which attended its commission; (2) the participation of the
accused in the offense, whether as principal, accomplice, or accessory after the
fact; (3) the penalty imposed upon the accused; and (4) the civil
liability or damages caused by his wrongful act or omission to be
recovered from the accused by the offended party, if there is any,
unless the enforcement of the civil liability by a separate civil action
has been reserved or waived." Their disregard compels us to act as we now
do lest the Court be unreasonably seen as tolerant of their omission. That the
Spouses Cogtas did not themselves seek the correction of the omission by an
appeal is no hindrance to this action because the Court, as the final reviewing
tribunal, has not only the authority but also the duty to correct at any time a
matter of law and justice.

We also pointedly remind all trial and appellate courts to avoid omitting reliefs
that the parties are properly entitled to by law or in equity under the established
facts. Their judgments will not be worthy of the name unless they thereby fully
determine the rights and obligations of the litigants. It cannot be otherwise, for
only by a full determination of such rights and obligations would they be true to
the judicial office of administering justice and equity for all. Courts should then
be alert and cautious in their rendition of judgments of conviction in criminal
cases. They should prescribe the legal penalties, which is what the Constitution
and the law require and expect them to do. Their prescription of the wrong
penalties will be invalid and ineffectual for being done without jurisdiction or in
manifest grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. They should
also determine and set the civil liability ex delicto of the accused, in order to do
justice to the complaining victims who are always entitled to them. The Rules of
Court mandates them to do so unless the enforcement of the civil liability by
separate actions has been reserved or waived.[17]

Alexander as the victim in frustrated homicide suffered moral injuries because the offender
committed violence that nearly took away the victim's life. "Moral damages include physical
suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings,
moral shock, social humiliation, and similar injury. Though incapable of pecuniary computation,
moral damages may be recovered if they are the proximate result of the defendant's wrongful
act for omission."[18] Indeed, Article 2219, (1), of the Civil Code expressly recognizes the right
of the victim in crimes resulting in physical injuries.[19] Towards that end, the Court, upon its
appreciation of the records, decrees that P30,000.00 is a reasonable award of moral
damages.[20] In addition, AAA was entitled to recover civil indemnity of P30,000.00.[21] Both
of these awards did not require allegation and proof.

In addition, the amounts awarded as civil liability of the petitioner shall earn interest of 6% per
annum reckoned from the finality of this decision until full payment by the accused.

WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the decision promulgated on September 27, 2006
finding petitioner Alfredo De Guzman, Jr. GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt
of FRUSTRATED HOMICIDE, and SENTENCES him to suffer the indeterminate penalty
of four years of prision correccional, as the minimum, to eight years and one day of prision
mayor, as the maximum; ORDERS the petitioner to pay to Alexander Flojo civil indemnity of
P30,000.00; moral damages of P30,000.00; and compensatory damages of P14,170.35, plus
interest of 6% per annum on all such awards from the finality of this decision until full payment;
and DIRECTS the petitioner to pay the costs of suit.

SO ORDERED.