Sunteți pe pagina 1din 37

III.

G.R. No. L-29271 August 29, 1980


THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
ADELINO BARDAJE, defendant-appellant.

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:
The accused ADELINO Bardaje in this case, after trial, has been convicted of Forcible Abduction with Rape, and
sentenced to death. The case is before us on automatic review.
On December 20, 1965, MARCELINA Cuizon lodged the following complaint with the Court of First Instance of Samar
against ADELINO and five (5) others 'namely, Lucio Malate, Pedro Odal, Adriano Odal, Silvino Odal and Fidel Ansuas
(hereinafter called the FIVE OTHERS):
The undersigned complainant, after having been duly sworn to according to law, accuses Adelino Bardaje, Lucio Malate,
Pedro Odal, Adriano Odal, Silvino Odal and Fidel Ansuas of the crime of Rape, committed as follows:
That on or about the period from the 14th day to 17th day of December, 1965, in Bo. Lopig, Sta. Rita, Province of Samar,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating
together and helping one another, with lewd design, by means of force and intimidation, and at nighttime, did then and
there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously drag one Marcelina Cuizon from the house of one Norma Fernandez and brought
her to a far away place and once there, accused Adelino Bardaje, by means of force and intimidation forcibly had sexual
intercourse with her several times while his co-accused were on guard.
Contrary to law. (Emphasis supplied).
ADELINO was arrested on December 17th, and it was on December 20th, when he signed the alleged confession, Exhibit
"C", admitting having kidnapped and molested MARCELINA, 1 which was probably the basis for MARCELINA's complaint,
presumably prepared with the help of the Fiscal. What has been noticed is that, in Exhibit "C", ADELINO had mentioned
that, besides the FIVE OTHERS, a sixth, Domingo Odal, was with the group when MARCELINA was "kidnapped". There
is no indication in the record as to why Domingo Odal was not included in MARCELINA's complaint as one of the
accused.
The following day, December 21st, the Fiscal's office filed the following Information with the Court:
The undersigned Assistant Provincial Fiscal accuses Adelino Bardaje, Lucio Malate, Pedro Odal, Adriano Odal, Silvino
Odal and Fidel Ansuas of the crime of Rape with Illegal Detention committed as follows:
That on or about the period from the 14th day to 17th day of December, 1965, in Bo. Crossing, Municipality of Sta. Rita,
Province of Samar, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable court the above-named accused, conspiring,
confederating together and helping one another, with Lucio Malate, Pedro Odal, Adriano Odal, Silvino Odal and Fidel
Ansuas, with lewd design, by means of force and intimidation, armed with bolos and at nighttime, did then and there
wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously drag one Marcelina Cuizon, a minor of 14 years old, from the house of one Norma
Fernandez and brought her to a far away place and once there, accused Adelino Bardaje, by means of force and
intimidation forcibly had sexual intercourse with her for several times while his co-accused were on guard.
That the commission of the crime the aggravating circumstances that it was committed in an uninhabited place and with
the aid of armed men, were present. (Emphasis supplied).
It will be noted that the complaint filed directly by MARCELINA with the Court was amended by the Fiscal in the
Information. While MARCELINA charged ADELINO only with Rape, the Fiscal charged him with "Rape with Illegal
Detention". MARCELINA merely alleged that she was dragged from the house of Norma Fernandez by means of force
and intimidation and at nighttime. On the other hand, the Information added that the accused were "armed with bolos".

The name of the barrio was also changed from Lopig to Crossing. Lastly, the Information included the allegation that the
crime of Rape with Illegal Detention was committed with the "aggravating circumstances that it was committed in an
uninhabited place and with the aid of armed men".
Of the six (6) persons accused, the FIVE OTHERS were never arrested, and only ADELINO stood trial. The period of the
offense was from December 14th to 17th, with the complaint having been filed on December 20th, or barely three (3) days
thereafter. With that time frame in mind, an analysis of the Information will show the assumption that only ADELINO was
the principal culprit while the FIVE OTHERS were either principals by cooperation or accomplices. Thus, the clause "with"
Lucio Malate, Pedro Odal, Mariano Odal, Silvino Odal and Fidel Ansuas" indicates that it was ADELINO who had dragged
MARCELINA "with" the help of the FIVE OTHERS. Both the complaint and Information also indicated that ADELINO was
the only one who committed the rape, while the FIVE OTHERS were merely accomplices.
On June 2, 1966, before the arraignment of ADELINO, the Information was amended to include the allegation that
MARCELINA was detained and deprived of liberty for a period of th0ree (3) days, which allegation could be taken into
account in connection with Illegal Detention 2 but not in connection with Forcible Abduction. 3 Since according to Exhibit
"C", MARCELINA was "kidnapped" at midnight of December 14th, and ADELINO was arrested in the morning of
December 17th, or an interval of less than 72 Hours, it could not be correctly pleaded that MARCELINA was deprived of
liberty for three (3) days. 4
After the trial was concluded, ADELINO's lawyer submitted his Memorandum on July 26, 1967, in which he specifically
argued that "the prosecution did not establish the elements of Rape and Illegal Detention as prescribed by Articles 335
and 267 of the Revised Penal Code." It was only in the Memorandum of the Fiscal, dated July 27, 1967, when the position
was taken that the crime which should be imputed to ADELINO is Rape with Forcible Abduction. The prosecution's
Memorandum stated:
Although the information is for Rape with Illegal Detention instead of Rape with Forcible Abduction, yet from the body of
the information it could be clearly gleaned that the elements of abduction are sufficiently alleged therein and hence the
accused can be convicted thereunder (People vs. Emiliano Javete, CA 01956-57-CR April 7, 1964 (82-1965).
The following day, July 28, 1967, the trial Court found ADELINO guilty of Forcible Abduction with Rape with the
aggravating circumstances of dwelling and aid of armed men, and sentenced him to death.
The version of complainant MARCELINA Cuizon, 14 years of age, is that in December, 1965, she and her mother were
living in the house of her aunt, Sofia Fernandez, at Barrio Crossing, Sta. Rita, Samar, where she worked as a beautician.
At 7:00 o'clock in the evening of December 14, 1965 while she was then eating supper, ADELINO, whom she knew when
they were "still small", and who was her classmate in Grade II (1960), accompanied by the FIVE OTHERS, entered the
house and began drinking "sho hoc tong" which they brought along. After the liquor had been fully consumed, Silvino Odal
broke the kerosene lamp causing complete darkness. She then ran to the room where her mother was. ADELINO, Pedro
Odal, Fidel Ansuas, and Adriano Odal, followed her, tried to extricate her from her mother's embrace and dragged the two
of them to the sala. Pedro Odal choked the mother's neck thereby loosening her hold on the daughter and the four males,
two of whom were armed with bolos, forced her downstairs and by holding and dragging her, brought her to the mountain
about two kilometers from Barrio Crossing. That was about 12 midnight. On the way, ADELINO slapped her rendering her
unconscious. She regained consciousness in a hut, with ADELINO holding her hands, and removing her panty. She bit
and kicked him. Despite her struggle, ADELINO succeeded in having sexual intercourse with her while his other
companions stayed outside on guard.
Under cross-examination, MARCELINA declared that she did not know who owned the hut and that it was just a one-room
affair where a woman and two small children lived; that she and Appellant slept in that same room as the woman, while
the FIVE OTHERS slept near the kitchen. 5
At about 8:00 o'clock the following morning, December 15, ADELINO and the FIVE OTHERS brought her to another
mountain, 6 kilometers farther, arriving there past twelve o'clock noon at the house of one called Ceferino (also called
Cipriano) who lived there with his family. She was kept in one room. Outside the room were Pedro Odal, Adriano Odal and
Fidel Ansuas, still armed with bolos, drinking and guarding her. In the evening, ADELINO had another sexual intercourse
with her even though she bit and kicked him and shouted for help which was to no avail as all present were relatives of
ADELINO, with the latter Ceferino "Tatay" She curled the hair of Narita (daughter of Ceferino) the next day, because

ADELINO threatened to kill her if she did not. Her curling paraphernalia was taken by Adriano Odal, upon ADELINO's
instructions, from Norma Fernandez (her cousin) who gave the equipment as she (Norma) was also threatened.
MARCELINA and her "captors" stayed in Ceferino's house for two days. In the morning of December 17, two soldiers with
her father, Alejo Cuizon, arrived. The soldiers apprehended ADELINO while the FIVE OTHERS jumped down the window
and fled. Upon her father, she embraced him and cried. They all returned to Barrio Crossing. She and her mother, Maria
Fernandez, then went to Catbalogan, where she filed a complaint at the Fiscal's Office on December 20, 1965 and
submitted to a medical examination at the Samar Provincial Hospital.
When cross-examined, Complainant admitted that Ceferino, his wife. and seven children were living in the same hut
where she was taken the second time, which hut was about waist high from the ground, consisted of one room, 3 x 2
meters, a sala, 6 x 3 meters, and a kitchen. Between the room and the sala was a wall of split bamboos so that noise
inside the room could be heard clearly from the other side. 6
Dr. Vitus Hobayan, Jr., Resident Physician at the Samar Provincial Hospital, declared that he examined MARCELINA on
December 20, 1965 and issued a Medical Certificate with the following findings:
1. No evidence of external injuries around the vulva or any part of the body.
2. Hymen no intact, presence of old healed laceration at 4, 7, 12 o'clock.
3. Vagina easily admits two fingers.
4. Vaginal smear negative for spermatozoa

Explaining the "old healed laceration", the doctor stated that laceration may have been caused by possible sexual
intercourse or other factors, and if it were intercourse, he estimated that it could have occured " say, two weeks or one
month" or possibly more. 8
For his part, ADELINO, aged 18, admitted having had carnal knowledge of MARCELINA but denied having raped her. He
claims that they eloped on December 14 to 17, 1965 as previously planned, they having been sweethearts since
November 12, 1964. As such, they used to date in Tacloban and "anything goes". MARCELINA's family used to have a
house in Barrio Crossing but now MARCELINA just stays in the house of her aunt, Sofia, which is about five houses away
from theirs. In the evening of December 14, 1965, while Sofia, MARCELINA's mother and others were eating,
MARCELINA handed him a bag and beauty culture equipment through the window, went downstairs, after which the two
of them walked to the mountains, to Ceferino Armada's house. Ceferino was a cousin of ADELINO's mother. He and
MARCELINA slept in the bedroom with 18-year old Narita, Ceferino's daughter. While in that hut, food was brought to
them by his sister, Nenita. MARCELINA curled Narita's hair the next day.
In the morning of December 17, 1965, Sets. Terado and Gacelos, accompanied by MARCELINA's father, Alejo Cuizon,
apprehended him for having kidnapped MARCELINA. The latter ran to him and embraced him and said she was to blame.
notwithstanding, he was boxed by the soldiers as instructed by MARCELINA's father and taken to Maulong PC
Headquarters for questioning. During the investigation, he was boxed and kicked and was forced to sign a statement
implicating the FIVE OTHERS as his companions even if untrue. He did not know who attested to his statement as one
Sgt. Gacelos took the document elsewhere.
Ceferino Armada, 60 years of age, the owner of the hut where MARCELINA was allegedly forcibly brought the second
time, corroborated that portion of ADELINO's testimony regarding their stay in his house adding that MARCELINA and
ADELINO had told him that they had eloped; that MARCELINA even offered to curl his daughter's hair (Narita's and
Concepcion's), and helped in house chores and in the threshing of palay, while ADELINO helped in carrying palay
because it was rainy.
The trial Court found the prosecutors version of the incident more worthy of credence stating that Complainant had no
improper motive to implicate ADELINO in such a detestable crime as Rape.
On the basis of the evidence, testimonial and documentary, we find that the guilt of ADELINO has not been established
beyond reasonable doubt.

In crimes against chastity, the conviction or acquittal of an accused depends almost entirely on the credibility of a
complainant's testimony since by the intrinsic nature of those crimes they usually involve only two persons the
complainant and the accused. The offended party's testimony, therefore, must be subjected to thorough scrutiny for a
determination of its veracity beyond reasonable doubt.
In the instant case, we find MARCELINA's charge that she was forcibly abducted and afterwards raped by ADELINO in
conspiracy with FIVE OTHERS highly dubious and inherently improbable.
To start with, according to the medical findings, "no evidence of external injuries was found around the vulva or any part of
the body" of Complainant, a fact which is strange, indeed, considering that Complainant was allegedly "dragged" slapped"
into unconsciousness, "wrestled" with, and criminally abused. Physical evidence is of the highest order and speaks more
eloquently than an witnesses put together. We are also faced with the medical finding of "old healed lacerations" in the
hymen which, according to the testimony of the examining physician would have occurred two weeks or even one month
before if said lacerations had been caused by sexual intercourse. This expert opinion bolsters the defense that
MARCELINA and ADELINO had previous amorous relations at the same time that it casts serious doubts on the charge of
intercourse by force and intimidation.
Secondly, by Complainant's own admission, the first hut she was taken to was a small one-room affair occupied by a
woman and two small children. Her charge, therefore, that she was ravished in that same room is highly improbable and
contrary to human experience.
Thirdly, from her own lips, Complainant testified that the second hut where she was taken, that of Ceferino Armada,
consisted of a small room separated from the sala by a wall of split bamboos. Further, that Ceferino with his wife and
seven children all lived therein. It challenges human credulity that she could have been sexually abused with so many
within hearing and distance. It is unbelievable, too, that under those circumstances the FIVE OTHERS could have stood
guard outside, armed with bolos and drinking, while ADELINO allegedly took advantage of her. If rape were, indeed, their
malevolent intent, they would, in all probability, have taken turns in abusing her. That they did not, indicates that there
was, indeed, some special relationship between MARCELINA and ADELINO. Furthermore, with people around, and the
hut constructed as it was, it would have been an easy matter for MARCELINA to have shouted and cried for help. Surely,
the old man Ceferino, his wife and/or his children could not have been insensible to her outcries notwithstanding their
relationship to ADELINO. The aphorism still rings true that evidence to be believed must not only come from the mouth of
a credible witness but must be credible in itself.
Additionally, Complainant admits that she even curled the hair of Narita, one of Ceferino's daughters, a fact inconsistent
with her allegation of "captivity". That she was threatened with death if she did not accede to such an inconsequential
request defies credulity. The livelihood is that, as the defense maintains, MARCELINA was not forcibly abducted but that
she and ADELINO had, in fact, eloped and that she had brought her beauty culture paraphernalia with her, or, that she
herself had sent for them from her cousin Norma Fernandez voluntarily and not under threat from ADELINO.
The totality of the foregoing circumstances count with such great weight and significance that they lend an aura of
improbability and reasonable doubt to the allegation that MARCELINA had been "kidnapped" or "illegally detained" and
that when she and ADELINO engaged in sexual intercourse, it was because of force or intimidation exercised upon her.
They are circumstances that were overlooked by the trial Court and justify a reversal of its finding of guilt as an exception
to the established rule that the findings of fact of a trial Judge based on the relative credibility of witnesses are entitled to
great respect and will not be disturbed by appellate Courts.
This case also constitutes an exception to the general belief that a young girl would not expose herself to the ordeal of
public trial if she were not motivated solely by a desire to have the culprit who had ravished and shamed her placed
behind bars. As we view it, MARCELINA was confronted with a paradoxical situation as a daughter of relative tender age
who could not shamefacedly admit to her parents that she had eloped and voluntarily submitted to sexual intercourse,
since that elopement must have met with righteous indignation on the part of her parents. As a result, MARCELINA was
faced with no other choice but to charge ADELINO with rape or incur the ire of her parents and social disrepute from a
small community.
In respect of the alleged confession of ADELINO, suffice it to re-state that "an extrajudicial confession made by an
accused shag not be sufficient ground for conviction unless corroborated by evidence of corpus delicti. 9 Corpus delicti is

proved when the evidence on record shows that the crime prosecuted had been committed. That proof has not been met
in the case at bar, the evidence establishing more of an elopement rather than kidnapping or illegal detention or forcible
abduction, and much less rape. Moreover, ADELINO, aged 18, was by himself when being investigated by
soldiers,10 without benefit of counsel nor of anyone to advise him of his rights. Aside from his declaration that Ws
confession was obtained through maltreatment and violence, 11 it was also vitiated by a procedural irregularity testified to
by no less than prosecution witness Sgt. Pedro Gacelos to the effect that he and room after he presented the statement to
the Clerk of Court, Mr. Rojas. 12 There is reason to believe, therefore that the so called confession was attested without
ADELINO's presence so that the latter cannot be said to have duly subscribed and sworn to it.
It should also be noted that throughout the hearings before the trial Court, it was assumed that ADELINO was being held
responsible for the complex crime of Rape with Illegal Detention. While it is true that an accused can be punished for a
crime described by the facts alleged in tile Information despite a wrong designation of the crime in the preamble of the
Information, 13 yet, in capital cases, it should be desirable that, whenever a discrepancy is noted between the designation
of the crime made by the Fiscal and the crime described by the facts pleaded in his Information. The lower Court should
call attention of the accused to the discrepancy, so that the accused may be fully apprised of the nature and cause of the
accusation against him. This was not done in regards to ADELINO who all the time was under the impression that he was
being tried for Rape with Illegal Detention, and not for Forcible Abduction with Rape. If ADELINO had known that he was
being tried for Forcible Abduction with Rape, he may have changed the strategy or tactics of his defense. Not that it could
be said he would have done so; but he should have been advised he had the right, and given the opportunity, to do so.
Again, one of the rights of an accused is "to have compulsory process issued to secure the attendance of witnesses on
his behalf. 14 ADELINO had stated that, while MARCELINA was in the house of Ceferino Armada, she curled the hair of
Narita. one of the latter's children, as well as the hair of other girls in the vicinity.
ADELINO wanted to have Narita testify on his behalf, and a subpoena had been issued to her. But instead of taking
effective steps to have Narita brought to Court, the lower court gave responsibility for Narita's attendance to the defense,
expressly stating that, if the defense was not able to bring her to the Court, her testimony will be dispensed with. The
record shows:
ATTY. BOHOL
I appear as counsel for the accused. Up to now, Your Honor, the witnesses we have been expecting have not yet arrived.
This representation, with the consent of the Clerk of Court have wired the Chief of Police of Sta. Rita, Samar to bring
Ceferino Armada and Narita Armada tomorrow for the hearing, continuation of this case for those persons mentioned to
testify, your Honor, for the accused. We pray, Your Honor, that we be given time to hear from the Chief of Police to bring
those persons tomorrow, Your Honor.
COURT
What will be the nature of the testimonies of those witnesses.
xxx xxx xxx
COURT
How about the other girl?
ATTY. BOHOL
Narita Armada will substantially be corroborative, Your Honor.
COURT
Suppose the two witnesses do not arrive tomorrow, for which this case is set also?
ATTY. BOHOL

If we receive information and find that those witnesses could really not come for this case, Your Honor, I will be
constrained to submit the case for decision based on the testimony of the accused. However, Your Honor, if it will be all
right with the Honorable Court and we find that there is hope that within this week Ceferino Armada could come here, in
view of the distance, I pray before the Honorable Court that we be given time within this week to present Ceferino
Armada, and upon his failure, submit the case for decision
COURT
The Court will not allow that anymore, anyway this case is set for tomorrow. The Court wail grant the postponement today
on condition that any witness not presented tomorrow will be considered waived Afterall as you have manifest, 4 their
testimonies will be corroborative.
xxx xxx xxx
COURT
What I mean is that you should have taken the necessary precaution for the attendance of your witness today considering
that there is a subpoena for the witnesses.ORDER - for the reason that accused have no more witnesses to present today, the trial of this case is hereby Postponed
for tomorrow, July 26, 1967 at 8:30 A.M., with the warning that witnesses not presented during that day shall be
considered waived. 15
Considering that this case involved a prosecution for a capital offense, the lower Court acted precipitously in not having
Narita brought to Court, by ordering her arrest if necessary ADELINO was deprived of his right "to have compulsory
process issued to secure the attendance of witnesses on his behalf."
Crucial questions should also have been asked by the trial Court of witnesses. MARCELINA testified before the lower
Court on December 1, 1966. On December 12, 1966, P Gacelos, the PC Sgt. who investigated the complaint against
ADELINO, testified:
Q. Was that investigation of M Cuizon reduced to writing?
A. Yes, Sir. 16
It would have been advisable if the lower Court had right then and there asked for the production of the written statement
of MARCELINA.
The medical report, Exhibit "B", implied that MARCELINA could have had sexual intercourse previous to December 14th.
On the other hand, ADELINO had testified that he and MARCELINA used to go together to Tacloban, and while there
several times, "we had sexual intercourse because she likes it." 17 Considering the possible infliction of the death penalty
on ADELINO, the lower Court could have asked MARCELINA if she had had sexual intercourse prior to December 14th
and, if so, if it was with ADELINO.
Further, there was possibility that ADELINO and MARCELINA had really been sweethearts. The lower Court could have
asked MARCELINA if she realized that, charging ADELINO with Rape with Illegal Detention, the latter could be sentenced
to death. If that had been explained to her clearly by the lower Court, she might then have admitted that she was neither
raped nor "kidnapped" nor illegally detained.
MARCELINA could had been examined on the two matters mentioned above, with the Court excluding the public from the
hearing under the provisions of Rule 119, Section 14. MARCELINA might have testified without feeling the pressure of her
relatives or other persons, if such pressure had in fact existed.
It may not be amiss to state then that just as in pleas of guilty where a grave offense is charged trial Judges have been
enjoined to refrain from accepting them with alacrity but to be extra solicitous in seeing to it that an accused fully
understands the import of his plea, so also, in prosecutions for capital offenses, it behooves the trial Courts to exercise
greater care in safeguarding the rights of an accused. The trial Judge should also take a more active role by means of
searching questions in the examination of witnesses for the ascertaintment of the truth and credibility of their testimonies

so that any judgment of conviction imposing the supreme penalty may rest on firm and unequivocal grounds. The life and
liberty of an individual demand no less.
WHEREFORE, upon reasonable doubt, the judgment appealed from imposing the death penalty, is reversed and the
appellant, Adelino Bardaje, acquitted of the crime with which he is charged. His immediate release is ordered unless lie is
held on other charges.
Costs de oficio.
SO ORDERED.
Fernando, C.J., Teehankee, Barredo, Concepcion, Jr., Fernandez, Guerrero, Abad Santos and De Castro, JJ., concur.
Makasiar, * J., took no part.

Separate Opinions

AQUINO, J., dissenting:


I dissent. The following is a summary of the facts proven by the prosecution, as set forth in the brief filed by Solicitor
General Felix Q. Antonio, Assistant Solicitor General Crispin V. Bautista and Solicitor Santiago M. Kapunan:
In the evening of December 14, 1965, Marcelina Cuizon, a fourteen-year-old beautician was in the house of her aunt,
Sofia Fernandez, located at Barrio Crossing, Santa Rita, Samar.
At seven-thirty on that evening, while Marcelina and her mother Maria Fernandez were taking supper, six persons,
namely, Adelino Bardaje, Silvino Odal, Pedro Odal, Adriano Odal, Fidel Ansuas and Lucio Malate, all accused in this case,
entered the house bringing with them some bottles of Sho Hoc Tong, a locally manufactured liquor.
Once inside the house, the accused began drinking the liquor. After consuming the liquor, Silvino Odal put out the light by
breaking the kerosene lamp. Afraid of what the men would do, Marcelina and her mother went inside the bedroom but the
accused followed them and grabbed Marcelino While Marcelina was shouting for help, Maria laid aside the baby whom
she was carrying and put her arms tightly around Marcelino in a desperate effort to protect her.
The accused dragged both mother and daughter into the sala. To take away Marcelino from her mother's tenacious grasp,
Fidel Ansuas aimed his bolo at Maria, threatening to strike her, while Pedro Odal put his hands around her neck and
squeezed it with such force that Maria became unconscious, thus releasing Marcelina from her protective embrace.
Then, the accused bodily carried Marcelina into the street and brought her to a hut in the mountain two kilometers away.
On the way, Marcelina lost consciousness after a vigorous struggle to free herself from the accused and after Bardaje had
slapped her violently.
When Marcelina regained consciousness, she found herself in a hut with Bardaje in the act of removing her underwear.
She fought energetically to resist Bardaje's advances by biting and kicking him, but all to no avail because she was no
match to his physical strength. Bardaje held her hands and consummated sexual intercourse with her.
On the following day, December 15, Bardaje and his five companions brought Marcelino to the house of one Cipriano
where she was ravished two times. She was held captive in the house of Cipriano for two days until she was rescued by
Constabulary soldiers Pedro Gacelos and Nemesio Tirador accompanied by her father.
Bardaje was taken to the Constabulary headquarters in Catbalogan where he was investigated. Bardaje admitted that he
and his companions forcibly abducted Marcelina and brought her to a hut in the mountain where he raped her. His
admission was reduced to writing and sworn to by him (Exh-C to C3).

Marcelina was brought to the Samar Provincial Hospital where she underwent a medical examination.
Bardaje was the only one arrested and tried. The crime charged in the information is the complex crime of "rape with
Legal detention".
There may be some reasonable doubt as to the commission of rape because of the finding that the victim was no longer a
virgin when the incident took place, the absence of external injuries on the victim's body and the claim of Bardaje that he
with the victim in Tacloban City.
But there is no doubt that Bardaje and his companions committed kidnapping and serious illegal detention of a minor as
well as of a "female", an offense penalized in article 267(4) of the Revised Penal Code with reclusion perpetua to death.
Republic Act No. 18 specifically made kidnapping of a minor and a woman a capital offense in order to deter the
kidnapping of minors and women, a crime which was very rampant after liberation.
The victim might have been a girl, who, like many teenagers of today, does not safeguard her virtue or chastity and easily
succumbs to the temptation of the flesh. (Time Magazine reports that at the Puerta del Sol in Madrid, Spain, there is a
billboard on which is emblazoned Oscar Wildes witticism "Puedo resistir todo excepto la tentacion.")
Bardaje and his companions grievously and brazenly deprived the victim of her liberty by forcibly taking her against her
will and the will of her mother and detaining her in a hut in the mountain. (See People vs. Ablaza, L-27352, October 31,
1969,30 SCRA 173; People vs. Tungala, 102 Phil. 1161; People vs. Ching Suy Siong and Mata, 97 Phil. 989.)
The victim, being a minor, was still under parental authority. Her parents were entitled to her custody and to keep her in
their company. They were obligated to take care of her and to see to it that her rights were respected.
Even a layman would deduce from the manner in which the victim was snatched and detained, that the accused
committed an outrageous and wrongful act which should be drastically punished. To acquit them would be a miscarriage
of justice.
I vote for the imposition of reclusion perpetua on the accused and the imposition of an indemnity of P10,000.

Separate Opinions
AQUINO, J., dissenting:
I dissent. The following is a summary of the facts proven by the prosecution, as set forth in the brief filed by Solicitor
General Felix Q. Antonio, Assistant Solicitor General Crispin V. Bautista and Solicitor Santiago M. Kapunan:
In the evening of December 14, 1965, Marcelina Cuizon, a fourteen-year-old beautician was in the house of her aunt,
Sofia Fernandez, located at Barrio Crossing, Santa Rita, Samar.
At seven-thirty on that evening, while Marcelina and her mother Maria Fernandez were taking supper, six persons,
namely, Adelino Bardaje, Silvino Odal, Pedro Odal, Adriano Odal, Fidel Ansuas and Lucio Malate, all accused in this case,
entered the house bringing with them some bottles of Sho Hoc Tong, a locally manufactured liquor.
Once inside the house, the accused began drinking the liquor. After consuming the liquor, Silvino Odal put out the light by
breaking the kerosene lamp. Afraid of what the men would do, Marcelina and her mother went inside the bedroom but the
accused followed them and grabbed Marcelino While Marcelina was shouting for help, Maria laid aside the baby whom
she was carrying and put her arms tightly around Marcelino in a desperate effort to protect her.
The accused dragged both mother and daughter into the sala. To take away Marcelino from her mother's tenacious grasp,
Fidel Ansuas aimed his bolo at Maria, threatening to strike her, while Pedro Odal put his hands around her neck and
squeezed it with such force that Maria became unconscious, thus releasing Marcelina from her protective embrace.

Then, the accused bodily carried Marcelina into the street and brought her to a hut in the mountain two kilometers away.
On the way, Marcelina lost consciousness after a vigorous struggle to free herself from the accused and after Bardaje had
slapped her violently.
When Marcelina regained consciousness, she found herself in a hut with Bardaje in the act of removing her underwear.
She fought energetically to resist Bardaje's advances by biting and kicking him, but all to no avail because she was no
match to his physical strength. Bardaje held her hands and consummated sexual intercourse with her.
On the following day, December 15, Bardaje and his five companions brought Marcelino to the house of one Cipriano
where she was ravished two times. She was held captive in the house of Cipriano for two days until she was rescued by
Constabulary soldiers Pedro Gacelos and Nemesio Tirador accompanied by her father.
Bardaje was taken to the Constabulary headquarters in Catbalogan where he was investigated. Bardaje admitted that he
and his companions forcibly abducted Marcelina and brought her to a hut in the mountain where he raped her. His
admission was reduced to writing and sworn to by him (Exh-C to C3).
Marcelina was brought to the Samar Provincial Hospital where she underwent a medical examination.
Bardaje was the only one arrested and tried. The crime charged in the information is the complex crime of "rape with
Legal detention".
There may be some reasonable doubt as to the commission of rape because of the finding that the victim was no longer a
virgin when the incident took place, the absence of external injuries on the victim's body and the claim of Bardaje that he
with the victim in Tacloban City.
But there is no doubt that Bardaje and his companions committed kidnapping and serious illegal detention of a minor as
well as of a "female", an offense penalized in article 267(4) of the Revised Penal Code with reclusion perpetua to death.
Republic Act No. 18 specifically made kidnapping of a minor and a woman a capital offense in order to deter the
kidnapping of minors and women, a crime which was very rampant after liberation.
The victim might have been a girl, who, like many teenagers of today, does not safeguard her virtue or chastity and easily
succumbs to the temptation of the flesh. (Time Magazine reports that at the Puerta del Sol in Madrid, Spain, there is a
billboard on which is emblazoned Oscar Wildes witticism "Puedo resistir todo excepto la tentacion.")
Bardaje and his companions grievously and brazenly deprived the victim of her liberty by forcibly taking her against her
will and the will of her mother and detaining her in a hut in the mountain. (See People vs. Ablaza, L-27352, October 31,
1969,30 SCRA 173; People vs. Tungala, 102 Phil. 1161; People vs. Ching Suy Siong and Mata, 97 Phil. 989.)
The victim, being a minor, was still under parental authority. Her parents were entitled to her custody and to keep her in
their company. They were obligated to take care of her and to see to it that her rights were respected.
Even a layman would deduce from the manner in which the victim was snatched and detained, that the accused
committed an outrageous and wrongful act which should be drastically punished. To acquit them would be a miscarriage
of justice.
I vote for the imposition of reclusion perpetua on the accused and the imposition of an indemnity of P10,000.

G.R. Nos. 108280-83 November 16, 1995


ROMEO SISON, NILO PACADAR, JOEL TAN, RICHARD DE LOS SANTOS, and JOSELITO TAMAYO,petitioners,
vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and COURT OF APPEALS, respondents.
G.R. Nos. 114931-33 November 16, 1995
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
ANNIE FERRER, accused, ROMEO SISON, NILO PACADAR, JOEL TAN, RICHARD DE LOS SANTOS, and
JOSELITO TAMAYO, accused-appellants.

PUNO, J.:
The case before us occurred at a time of great political polarization in the aftermath of the 1986 EDSA Revolution. This
was the time when the newly-installed government of President Corazon C. Aquino was being openly challenged in rallies,
demonstrations and other public fora by "Marcos loyalists," supporters of deposed President Ferdinand E. Marcos.
Tension and animosity between the two (2) groups sometimes broke into violence. On July 27, 1986, it resulted in the
murder of Stephen Salcedo, a known "Coryista."
From August to October 1986, several informations were filed in court against eleven persons identified as Marcos
loyalists charging them with the murder of Salcedo. Criminal Case No. 86-47322 was filed against Raul Billosos y de Leon
and Gerry Nery y Babazon; Criminal Case No. 86-47617 against Romeo Sison y Mejia, Nilo Pacadar y Abe and Joel Tan y
Mostero; Criminal Case No. 86-47790 against Richard de los Santos y Arambulo; Criminal Case No. 86-48538 against
Joselito Tamayo y Ortia; and Criminal Case No. 86-48931 against Rolando Fernandez y Mandapat. Also filed were
Criminal Cases Nos. 86-49007 and 86-49008 against Oliver Lozano and Benjamin Nuega as well as Annie Ferrer
charging them as accomplices to the murder of Salcedo.
The cases were consolidated and raffled to the Regional Trial Court, Branch XLIX, Manila. All of the accused pleaded not
guilty to the charge and trial ensued accordingly. The prosecution presented twelve witnesses, including two
eyewitnesses, Ranulfo Sumilang and Renato Banculo, and the police officers who were at the Luneta at the time of the
incident. In support of their testimonies, the prosecution likewise presented documentary evidence consisting of
newspaper accounts of the incident and various photographs taken during the mauling.
The prosecution established that on July 27, 1986, a rally was scheduled to be held at the Luneta by the Marcos loyalists.
Earlier, they applied for a permit to hold the rally but their application was denied by the authorities. Despite this setback,
three thousand of them gathered at the Rizal Monument of the Luneta at 2:30 in the afternoon of the scheduled day. Led
by Oliver Lozano and Benjamin Nuega, both members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the loyalists started an
impromptu singing contest, recited prayers and delivered speeches in between. Colonel Edgar Dula Torres, then Deputy
Superintendent of the Western Police District, arrived and asked the leaders for their permit. No permit could be produced.
Colonel Dula Torres thereupon gave them ten minutes to disperse. The loyalist leaders asked for thirty minutes but this
was refused. Atty. Lozano turned towards his group and said "Gulpihin ninyo ang lahat ng mga Cory infiltrators." Atty.
Nuega added "Sige, sige gulpihin ninyo!" The police then pushed the crowd, and used tear gas and truncheons to
disperse them. The loyalists scampered away but some of them fought back and threw stones at the police. Eventually,
the crowd fled towards Maria Orosa Street and the situation later stabilized. 1
At about 4:00 p.m., a small group of loyalists converged at the Chinese Garden, Phase III of the Luneta. There, they saw
Annie Ferrer, a popular movie starlet and supporter of President Marcos, jogging around the fountain. They approached
her and informed her of their dispersal and Annie Ferrer angrily ordered them "Gulpihin ninyo and mga Cory hecklers!"
Then she continued jogging around the fountain chanting "Marcos pa rin, Marcos pa rin, Pabalikin si Marcos, Pabalikin si
Marcos, Bugbugin ang mga nakadilaw!" The loyalists replied "Bugbugin!" A few minutes later, Annie Ferrer was arrested
by the police. Somebody then shouted "Kailangang gumanti, tayo ngayon!" A commotion ensued and Renato Banculo, a
cigarette vendor, saw the loyalists attacking persons in yellow, the color of the "Coryistas." Renato took off his yellow
shirt. 2 He then saw a man wearing a yellow t-shirt being chased by a group of persons shouting "Iyan, habulin iyan. Cory

iyan!" The man in the yellow t-shirt was Salcedo and his pursuers appeared to be Marcos loyalists. They caught Salcedo
and boxed and kicked and mauled him. Salcedo tried to extricate himself from the group but they again pounced on him
and pummelled him with fist blows and kicks hitting him on various parts of his body. Banculo saw Ranulfo Sumilang, an
electrician at the Luneta, rush to Salcedo's aid. Sumilang tried to pacify the maulers so he could extricate Salcedo from
them. But the maulers pursued Salcedo unrelentingly, boxing him with stones in their fists. Somebody gave Sumilang a
loyalist tag which Sumilang showed to Salcedo's attackers. They backed off for a while and Sumilang was able to tow
Salcedo away from them. But accused Raul Billosos emerged from behind Sumilang as another man boxed Salcedo on
the head. Accused Richard de los Santos also boxed Salcedo twice on the head and kicked him even as he was already
fallen. 3 Salcedo tried to stand but accused Joel Tan boxed him on the left side of his head and ear. 4 Accused Nilo
Pacadar punched Salcedo on his nape, shouting: "Iyan, Cory Iyan. Patayin!" 5Sumilang tried to pacify Pacadar but the
latter lunged at the victim again. Accused Joselito Tamayo boxed Salcedo on the left jaw and kicked him as he once more
fell. Banculo saw accused Romeo Sison trip Salcedo and kick him on the head, and when he tried to stand, Sison
repeatedly boxed him. 6 Sumilang saw accused Gerry Neri approach the victim but did not notice what he did. 7
Salcedo somehow managed to get away from his attackers and wipe off the blood from his face. He sat on some cement
steps 8 and then tried to flee towards Roxas boulevard to the sanctuary of the Rizal Monument but accused Joel Tan and
Nilo Pacadar pursued him, mauling Sumilang in the process. Salcedo pleaded for his life exclaiming "Maawa na kayo sa
akin. Tulungan ninyo ako." He cried: "Pulis, pulis. Wala bang pulis?" 9
The mauling resumed at the Rizal Monument and continued along Roxas Boulevard until Salcedo collapsed and lost
consciousness. Sumilang flagged down a van and with the help of a traffic officer, brought Salcedo to the Medical Center
Manila but he was refused admission. So they took him to the Philippine General Hospital where he died upon arrival.
Salcedo died of "hemorrhage, intracranial traumatic." He sustained various contusions, abrasions, lacerated wounds and
skull fractures as revealed in the following post-mortem findings:
Cyanosis, lips, and nailbeds.
Contused-abrasions: 6.0 x 2.5 cm., and 3.0 x 2.4 cm., frontal region, right side; 6.8 x 4.2 cm., frontal region, left side; 5.0 x
4.0 cm., right cheek; 5.0 x 3.5 cm., face, left side; 3.5 x 2.0 cm., nose; 4.0 x 2.1 cm., left ear, pinna; 5.0 x 4.0 cm. left
suprascapular region; 6.0 x 2.8 cm., right elbow.
Abrasions: 4.0 x 2.0 cm., left elbow; 2.0 x 1.5 cm., right knee.
Lacerated wounds: 2.2 cm., over the left eyebrow; 1.0 cm., upper lip.
Hematoma, scalp; frontal region, both sides; left parietal region; right temporal region; occipital region, right side.
Fractures, skull; occipital bone, right side; right posterior cranial fossa; right anterior cranial fossa.
Hemorrhage, subdural, extensive.
Other visceral organs, congested.
Stomach, about 1/2 filled with grayish brown food materials and fluid. 10
The mauling of Salcedo was witnessed by bystanders and several press people, both local and foreign. The press took
pictures and a video of the event which became front-page news the following day, capturing national and international
attention. This prompted President Aquino to order the Capital Regional Command and the Western Police District to
investigate the incident. A reward of ten thousand pesos (P10,000.00) was put up by Brigadier General Alfredo Lim, then
Police Chief, for persons who could give information leading to the arrest of the killers. 11 Several persons, including
Ranulfo Sumilang and Renato Banculo, cooperated with the police, and on the basis of their identification, several
persons, including the accused, were apprehended and investigated.
For their defense, the principal accused denied their participation in the mauling of the victim and offered their respective
alibis. Accused Joselito Tamayo testified that he was not in any of the photographs presented by the
prosecution 12 because on July 27, 1986, he was in his house in Quezon City. 13 Gerry Neri claimed that he was at the
Luneta Theater at the time of the

incident. 14 Romeo Sison, a commercial photographer, was allegedly at his office near the Luneta waiting for some
pictures to be developed at that time. 15 He claimed to be afflicted with hernia impairing his mobility; he cannot run
normally nor do things forcefully. 16 Richard de los Santos admits he was at the Luneta at the time of the mauling but
denies hitting Salcedo. 17 He said that he merely watched the mauling which explains why his face appeared in some of
the photographs.18 Unlike the other accused, Nilo Pacadar admits that he is a Marcos loyalist and a member of the Ako'y
Pilipino Movement and that he attended the rally on that fateful day. According to him, he saw Salcedo being mauled and
like Richard de los Santos, merely viewed the incident. 19 His face was in the pictures because he shouted to the maulers
to stop hitting Salcedo. 20 Joel Tan also testified that he tried to pacify the maulers because he pitied Salcedo. The
maulers however ignored him. 21
The other accused, specifically Attys. Lozano and Nuega and Annie Ferrer opted not to testify in their defense.
On December 16, 1988, the trial court rendered a decision finding Romeo Sison, Nilo Pacadar, Joel Tan, Richard de los
Santos and Joselito Tamayo guilty as principals in the crime of murder qualified by treachery and sentenced them to 14
years 10 months and 20 days of reclusion temporal as minimum to 20 years of reclusion temporal as maximum. Annie
Ferrer was likewise convicted as an accomplice. The court, however, found that the prosecution failed to prove the guilt of
the other accused and thus acquitted Raul Billosos, Gerry Nery, Rolando Fernandez, Oliver Lozano and Benjamin Nuega.
The dispositive portion of the decision reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, judgement is hereby rendered in the aforementioned cases as follows:
1. In "People versus Raul Billosos and Gerry Nery," Criminal Case No. 86-47322, the Court finds that the Prosecution
failed to prove the guilt of the two (2) Accused beyond reasonable doubt for the crime charged and hereby acquits them of
said charge;
2. In "People versus Romeo Sison, et al.," Criminal Case No. 86-47617, the Court finds the Accused Romeo Sison, Nilo
Pacadar and Joel Tan, guilty beyond reasonable doubt, as principals for the crime of Murder, defined in Article 248 of the
Revised Penal Code, and, there being no other mitigating or aggravating circumstances, hereby imposes on each of them
an indeterminate penalty of from FOURTEEN (14)YEARS, TEN (10) MONTHS and TWENTY (20) DAYS, of Reclusion
Temporal, as minimum, to TWENTY (20) DAYS, of Reclusion Temporal, as minimum, to TWENTY (20) YEARS
ofReclusion Temporal, as Maximum;
3. In "People versus Richard de los Santos," Criminal Case No. 86-47790, the Court finds the Accused Richard de los
Santos guilty beyond reasonable doubt as principal for the crime of Murder defined in Article 248 of the Revised Penal
Code and, there being no other extenuating circumstances, the Court hereby imposes on him an indeterminate penalty of
from FOURTEEN (14) YEARS, TEN (10) MONTHS and TWENTY (20) DAYS of Reclusion Temporal, as Minimum, to
TWENTY (20) YEARS of Reclusion Temporal as Maximum;
4. In "People versus Joselito Tamayo," Criminal Case No. 86-48538 the Court finds the Accused guilty beyond reasonable
doubt as principal, for the crime of "Murder" defined in Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code and hereby imposes on him
an indeterminate penalty of from FOURTEEN (14) YEARS, TEN (10) MONTHS and TWENTY (20) DAYS of Reclusion
Temporal, as Minimum, to TWENTY (20) YEARS of Reclusion Temporal, as Maximum;
5. In "People versus Rolando Fernandez," Criminal Case No. 86-4893l, the Court finds that the Prosecution failed to prove
the guilt of the Accused for the crime charged beyond reasonable doubt and hereby acquits him of said charge;
6. In "People versus Oliver Lozano, et al.," Criminal Case No. 86-49007, the Court finds that the Prosecution failed to
prove the guilt of the Accused beyond reasonable doubt for the crime charged and hereby acquits them of said charge;
7. In "People versus Annie Ferrer," Criminal Case No. 86-49008, the Court finds the said Accused guilty beyond
reasonable doubt, as accomplice to the crime of Murder under Article 18 in relation to Article 248 of the Revised Penal
Code and hereby imposes on her an indeterminate penalty of NINE (9) YEARS and FOUR (4) MONTHS of Prision Mayor,
as Minimum to TWELVE (12) YEARS, FIVE (5) MONTHS and ELEVEN (11) DAYS of Reclusion Temporal, as Maximum.
The Accused Romeo Sison, Nilo Pacadar, Richard de los Santos, Joel Tan, Joselito Tamayo and Annie Ferrer are hereby
ordered to pay, jointly and severally, to the heirs of Stephen Salcedo the total amount of P74,000.00 as actual damages
and the amount of P30,000.00 as moral and exemplary damages, and one-half (1/2) of the costs of suit.

The period during which the Accused Nilo Pacadar, Romeo Sison, Joel Tan, Richard de los Santos and Joselito Tamayo
had been under detention during the pendency of these cases shall be credited to them provided that they agreed in
writing to abide by and comply strictly with the rules and regulations of the City Jail.
The Warden of the City Jail of Manila is hereby ordered to release the Accused Gerry Nery, Raul Billosos and Rolando
Fernandez from the City Jail unless they are being detained for another cause or charge.
The Petition for Bail of the Accused Rolando Fernandez has become moot and academic. The Petition for Bail of the
Accused Joel Tan, Romeo Sison and Joselito Tamayo is denied for lack of merit.
The bail bonds posted by the Accused Oliver Lozano and Benjamin Nuega are hereby cancelled.

22

On appeal, the Court of Appeals 23 on December 28, 1992, modified the decision of the trial court by acquitting Annie
Ferrer but increasing the penalty of the rest of the accused, except for Joselito Tamayo, to reclusion perpetua. The
appellate court found them guilty of murder qualified by abuse of superior strength, but convicted Joselito Tamayo of
homicide because the information against him did not allege the said qualifying circumstance. The dispositive portion of
the decision reads:
PREMISES CONSIDERED, the decision appealed from is hereby MODIFIED as follows:
1. Accused-appellants Romeo Sison y Mejia, Nilo Pacadar y Abe, Joel Tan y Mostero and Richard de los Santos are
hereby found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of Murder and are each hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty
of Reclusion Perpetua;
2. Accused-appellant Joselito Tamayo y Oria is hereby found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Homicide
with the generic aggravating circumstance of abuse of superior strength and, as a consequence, an indeterminate penalty
of TWELVE (12) YEARS of prision mayor as Minimum to TWENTY (20) YEARS of reclusion temporal as Maximum is
hereby imposed upon him;
3. Accused-appellant Annie Ferrer is hereby ACQUITTED of being an accomplice to the crime of Murder.
CONSIDERING that the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua has been imposed in the instant consolidated cases, the said
cases are now hereby certified to the Honorable Supreme Court for review. 24
Petitioners filed G.R. Nos. 108280-83 under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court inasmuch as Joselito Tamayo was not
sentenced to reclusion perpetua. G.R. Nos. 114931-33 was certified to us for automatic review of the decision of the Court
of Appeals against the four accused-appellants sentenced to reclusion perpetua.
Before this court, accused-appellants assign the following errors:
I
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT NOTED THAT THE ACCUSED FAILED TO CITE
ANYTHING ON RECORD TO SUPPORT THEIR AVERMENT THAT THERE WERE NO WITNESSES WHO HAVE COME
FORWARD TO IDENTIFY THE PERSONS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEATH OF STEPHEN SALCEDO.
II
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN GIVING CREDENCE TO THE UNRELIABLE,
DOUBTFUL, SUSPICIOUS AND INCONCLUSIVE TESTIMONIES OF PROSECUTION WITNESS RANULFO
SUMILANG.
III
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS LIKEWISE ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED GUILTY WHEN THERE WAS
NO EVIDENCE TO PROVE THAT ANY OF THE ACCUSED CARRIED A HARD AND BLUNT INSTRUMENT, THE
ADMITTED CAUSE OF THE HEMORRHAGE RESULTING IN THE DEATH OF THE DECEASED.
IV

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THAT THERE EXISTS CONSPIRACY
AMONG THE PRINCIPAL ACCUSED.
V
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE CRIME COMMITTED IS MURDER
AND NOT DEATH (HOMICIDE) CAUSED IN A TUMULTUOUS AFFRAY.25
In their additional brief, appellants contend that:
I
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN REACHING A CONCLUSION OF FACT UTILIZING
SPECULATIONS, SURMISES, NON-SEQUITUR CONCLUSIONS, AND EVEN THE DISPUTED DECISION OF THE
TRIAL COURT, TO UPHOLD THE VALIDITY OF THE VERY SAME JUDGMENT, ALL CONTRARY TO THE RULES OF
EVIDENCE.
II
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN ADMITTING EXHIBITS "D", "G", "O", "P", "V", TO "V-48", "W" TO
"W-13", ALL OF WHICH WERE NOT PROPERLY IDENTIFIED.
III
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN CONCLUDING THAT CONSPIRACY EXISTED IN THE
CASE AT BAR DISREGARDING ALTOGETHER THE SETTLED JURISPRUDENCE ON THE MATTER.
IV
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN RULING THAT THE CRIME COMMITTED WAS
MURDER, NOT DEATH (HOMICIDE) IN TUMULTUOUS AFFRAY SIDESTEPPING IN THE PROCESS THE FACTUAL
GROUNDS SURROUNDING THE INCIDENT. 26
Appellants mainly claim that the Court of Appeals erred in sustaining the testimonies of the two in prosecution
eyewitnesses, Ranulfo Sumilang and Renato Banculo, because they are unreliable, doubtful and do not deserve any
credence. According to them, the testimonies of these two witnesses are suspect because they surfaced only after a
reward was announced by General Lim. Renato Banculo even submitted three sworn statements to the police geared at
providing a new or improved version of the incident. On the witness stand, he mistakenly identified a detention prisoner in
another case as accused Rolando Fernandez. 27 Ranulfo Sumilang was evasive and unresponsive prompting the trial
court to reprimand him several times. 28
There is no proof that Banculo or Sumilang testified because of the reward announced by General Lim, much less that
both or either of them ever received such reward from the government. On the contrary, the evidence shows that
Sumilang reported the incident to the police and submitted his sworn statement immediately two hours after the mauling,
even before announcement of any reward. 29 He informed the police that he would cooperate with them and identify
Salcedo's assailants if he saw them again. 30
The fact that Banculo executed three sworn statements does not make them and his testimony incredible. The sworn
statements were made to identify more suspects who were apprehended during the investigation of Salcedo's death. 31
The records show that Sumilang was admonished several times by the trial court on the witness stand for being
argumentative and evasive. 32 This is not enough reason to reject Sumilang's testimony for he did not exhibit this
undesirable conduct all throughout his testimony. On the whole, his testimony was correctly given credence by the trial
court despite his evasiveness at some instances. Except for compelling reasons, we cannot disturb the way trial courts
calibrate the credence of witnesses considering their visual view of the demeanor of witnesses when on the witness
stand. As trial courts, they can best appreciate the verbal and non-verbal dimensions of a witness' testimony.

Banculo's mistake in identifying another person as one of the accused does not make him an entirely untrustworthy
witness. 33 It does not make his whole testimony a falsity. An honest mistake is not inconsistent with a truthful testimony.
Perfect testimonies cannot be expected from persons with imperfect senses. In the court's discretion, therefore, the
testimony of a witness can be believed as to some facts but disbelieved with respect to the others. 34
We sustain the appellate and trial courts' findings that the witnesses' testimonies corroborate each other on all important
and relevant details of the principal occurrence. Their positive identification of all petitioners jibe with each other and their
narration of the events are supported by the medical and documentary evidence on record.
Dr. Roberto Garcia, the medico-legal officer of the National Bureau of Investigation, testified that the victim had various
wounds on his body which could have been inflicted by pressure from more than one hard object. 35 The contusions and
abrasions found could have been caused by punches, kicks and blows from rough stones. 36 The fatal injury of intracranial
hemorrhage was a result of fractures in Salcedo's skull which may have been caused by contact with a hard and blunt
object such as fistblows, kicks and a blunt wooden instrument. 37
Appellants do not deny that Salcedo was mauled, kicked and punched. Sumilang in fact testified that Salcedo was
pummeled by his assailants with stones in their hands. 38
Appellants also contend that although the appellate court correctly disregarded Exhibits "D," "G," and "P," it erroneously
gave evidentiary weight to Exhibits "O," "V," "V-1" to "V-48," "W," "W-1" to "W-13." 39 Exhibit "O" is the Joint Affidavit of Pat.
Flores and Pat. Bautista, the police intelligence-operatives who witnessed the rally and subsequent dispersal operation.
Pat. Flores properly identified Exhibit "O" as his sworn statement and in fact gave testimony corroborating the contents
thereof. 40 Besides, the Joint Affidavit merely reiterates what the other prosecution witnesses testified to. Identification by
Pat. Bautista is a surplusage. If appellants wanted to impeach the said affidavit, they should have placed Pat. Flores on
the witness stand.
Exhibits "V," "V-1" to "V-48" are photographs taken of the victim as he was being mauled at the Luneta starting from a
grassy portion to the pavement at the Rizal Monument and along Roxas Boulevard, 41 as he was being chased by his
assailants 42 and as he sat pleading with his assailants. 43 Exhibits "W", "W-1" to "W-13" are photographs of Salcedo and
the mauling published in local newspapers and magazines such as the Philippine Star, 44 Mr. and Ms.
Magazine, 45 Philippine Daily Inquirer, 46 and the Malaya. 47 The admissibility of these photographs is being questioned by
appellants for lack of proper identification by the person or persons who took the same.
The rule in this jurisdiction is that photographs, when presented in evidence, must be identified by the photographer as to
its production and testified as to the circumstances under which they were produced. 48 The value of this kind of evidence
lies in its being a correct representation or reproduction of the original, 49 and its admissibility is determined by its accuracy
in portraying the scene at the time of the crime. 50 The photographer, however, is not the only witness who can identify the
pictures he has taken. 51 The correctness of the photograph as a faithful representation of the object portrayed can
be proved prima facie, either by the testimony of the person who made it or by other competent witnesses, after which the
court can admit it subject to impeachment as to its accuracy. 52 Photographs, therefore, can be identified by the
photographer or by any other competent witness who can testify to its exactness and accuracy. 53
This court notes that when the prosecution offered the photographs as part of its evidence, appellants, through counsel
Atty. Alfredo Lazaro, Jr. objected to their admissibility for lack of proper identification. 54 However, when the accused
presented their evidence, Atty. Winlove Dumayas, counsel for accused Joselito Tamayo and Gerry Neri used Exhibits "V",
"V-1" to "V-48" to prove that his clients were not in any of the pictures and therefore could not have participated in the
mauling of the victim. 55 The photographs were adopted by appellant Joselito Tamayo and accused Gerry Neri as part of
the defense exhibits. And at this hearing, Atty. Dumayas represented all the other accused per understanding with their
respective counsels, including Atty. Lazaro, who were absent. At subsequent hearings, the prosecution used the
photographs to cross-examine all the accused who took the witness stand. 56 No objection was made by counsel for any
of the accused, not until Atty. Lazaro appeared at the third hearing and interposed a continuing objection to their
admissibility.57
The objection of Atty. Lazaro to the admissibility of the photographs is anchored on the fact that the person who took the
same was not presented to identify them. We rule that the use of these photographs by some of the accused to show their
alleged non-participation in the crime is an admission of the exactness and accuracy thereof. That the photographs are

faithful representations of the mauling incident was affirmed when appellants Richard de los Santos, Nilo Pacadar and
Joel Tan identified themselves therein and gave reasons for their presence thereat. 58
An analysis of the photographs vis-a-vis the accused's testimonies reveal that only three of the appellants, namely,
Richard de los Santos, Nilo Pacadar and Joel Tan could be readily seen in various belligerent poses lunging or hovering
behind or over the victim. 59 Appellant Romeo Sison appears only once and he, although afflicted with hernia is shown
merely running after the
victim. 60Appellant Joselito Tamayo was not identified in any of the pictures. The absence of the two appellants in the
photographs does not exculpate them. The photographs did not capture the entire sequence of the killing of Salcedo but
only segments thereof. While the pictures did not record Sison and Tamayo hitting Salcedo, they were unequivocally
identified by Sumilang and
Banculo 61Appellants' denials and alibis cannot overcome their eyeball identification.
Appellants claim that the lower courts erred in finding the existence of conspiracy among the principal accused and in
convicting them of murder qualified by abuse of superior strength, not death in tumultuous affray.
Death in a tumultuous affray is defined in Article 251 of the Revised Penal code as follows:
Art. 251. Death caused in a tumultuous affray. When, while several persons, not composing groups organized for the
common purpose of assaulting and attacking each other reciprocally, quarrel and assault each other in a confused and
tumultuous manner, and in the course of the affray someone is killed, and it cannot be ascertained who actually killed the
deceased, but the person or persons who inflicted serious physical injuries can be identified, such person or persons shall
be punished by prison mayor.
If it cannot be determined who inflicted the serious physical injuries on the deceased, the penalty ofprision correccional in
its medium and maximum periods shall be imposed upon all those who shall have used violence upon the person of the
victim.
For this article to apply, it must be established that: (1) there be several persons; (2) that they did not compose groups
organized for the common purpose of assaulting and attacking each other reciprocally; (3) these several persons
quarrelled and assaulted one another in a confused and tumultuous manner; (4) someone was killed in the course of the
affray; (5) it cannot be ascertained who actually killed the deceased; and (6) that the person or persons who inflicted
serious physical injuries or who used violence can be identified. 62
A tumultuous affray takes place when a quarrel occurs between several persons and they engage in a confused and
tumultuous affray, in the course of which some person is killed or wounded and the author thereof cannot be
ascertained. 63
The quarrel in the instant case, if it can be called a quarrel, was between one distinct group and one individual. Confusion
may have occurred because of the police dispersal of the rallyists, but this confusion subsided eventually after the
loyalists fled to Maria Orosa Street. It was only a while later after said dispersal that one distinct group identified as
loyalists picked on one defenseless individual and attacked him repeatedly, taking turns in inflicting punches, kicks and
blows on him. There was no confusion and tumultuous quarrel or affray, nor was there a reciprocal aggression at this
stage of the incident. 64
As the lower courts found, the victim's assailants were numerous by as much as fifty in number 65 and were armed with
stones with which they hit the victim. They took advantage of their superior strength and excessive force and frustrated
any attempt by Salcedo to escape and free himself. They followed Salcedo from the Chinese Garden to the Rizal
Monument several meters away and hit him mercilessly even when he was already fallen on the ground. There was a time
when Salcedo was able to get up, prop himself against the pavement and wipe off the blood from his face. But his
attackers continued to pursue him relentlessly. Salcedo could not defend himself nor could he find means to defend
himself. Sumilang tried to save him from his assailants but they continued beating him, hitting Sumilang in the process.
Salcedo pleaded for mercy but they ignored his pleas until he finally lost consciousness. The deliberate and prolonged
use of superior strength on a defenseless victim qualifies the killing to murder.
Treachery as a qualifying circumstance cannot be appreciated in the instant case. There is no proof that the attack on
Salcedo was deliberately and consciously chosen to ensure the assailants' safety from any defense the victim could have

made. True, the attack on Salcedo was sudden and unexpected but it was apparently because of the fact that he was
wearing a yellow t-shirt or because he allegedly flashed the "Laban" sign against the rallyists, taunting them into mauling
him. As the appellate court well found, Salcedo had the opportunity to sense the temper of the rallyists and run away from
them but he, unfortunately, was overtaken by them. The essence of treachery is the sudden and unexpected attack
without the slightest provocation on the part of the person being attacked. 66
The qualifying circumstance of evident premeditation was alleged in the information against Joselito Tamayo. Evident
premeditation cannot be appreciated in this case because the attack against Salcedo was sudden and spontaneous,
spurred by the raging animosity against the so-called "Coryistas." It was not preceded by cool thought and reflection.
We find however the existence of a conspiracy among appellants. At the time they were committing the crime, their
actions impliedly showed a unity of purpose among them, a concerted effort to bring about the death of Salcedo. Where a
conspiracy existed and is proved, a showing as to who among the conspirators inflicted the fatal wound is not required to
sustain a conviction. 67 Each of the conspirators is liable for all acts of the others regardless of the intent and character of
their participation, because the act of one is the act of all. 68
The trial court awarded the heirs of Salcedo P74,000.00 as actual damages, P30,000.00 as moral and exemplary
damages, and one half of the costs of the suit. At the time he died on July 27, 1986, Salcedo was twenty three years old
and was set to leave on August 4, 1986 for employment in Saudi Arabia. 69 The reckless disregard for such a young
person's life and the anguish wrought on his widow and three small children, 70 warrant an increase in moral damages
from P30,000.00 to P100,000.00. The indemnity of P50,000.00 must also be awarded for the death of the victim. 71
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the decision appealed from is hereby affirmed and modified as follows:
1. Accused-appellants Romeo Sison, Nilo Pacadar, Joel Tan and Richard de los Santos are found GUILTY beyond
reasonable doubt of Murder without any aggravating or mitigating circumstance and are each hereby sentenced to suffer
the penalty of reclusion perpetua;
2. Accused-appellant Joselito Tamayo is found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Homicide with the
generic aggravating circumstance of abuse of superior strength and, as a consequence, he is sentenced to an
indeterminate penalty of TWELVE (12) YEARS of prision mayoras minimum to TWENTY (20) YEARS of reclusion
temporal as maximum;
3. All accused-appellants are hereby ordered to pay jointly and severally the heirs of Stephen Salcedo the following
amounts:
(a) P74,000.00 as actual damages;
(b) P100,000.00 as moral damages; and
(c) P50,000.00 as indemnity for the death of the victim.
Costs against accused-appellants.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Regalado and Mendoza, JJ., concur.
Francisco, J., is on leave.

Adamczuk v. Holloway

338 Pa. 263, 13 A.2d 2 (1940)

MAXEY, J. Plaintiffs brought an action in trespass against defendants for personal injuries and property damage arising
out of a collision between a car owned and operated by plaintiff, Jack J. Adamczuk, and a car owned by defendant, Morris
Cohen, and driven by defendant, Elmer Holloway....
The jury returned a verdict for defendants. Plaintiffs' motion for a new trial was refused and these appeals followed.
The assignment of error which appellant stresses is based upon the refusal of the court to admit in evidence a certain
photograph of the locus of the accident and the approach to it on Highway Route 6.
When plaintiff, Jack Adamczuk, was on the stand, he was shown "Exhibit No. 3" and he identified the roads and buildings
appearing in the picture and stated, in answer to his counsel, that "the conditions represented by that picture truly
represent the conditions of the crossing at the time of this accident except for the fact of daylight or dark." Then the exhibit
was offered in evidence. On cross-examination it was disclosed that the witness did not know who took the picture or
when it was taken. He stated that when the picture was taken the location of the camera was on route 6 but he did not
know at what distance from the intersection. He had no experience in photography. He said he did not know whether the
photographer tilted the camera up or down when the picture was taken, and he did not know whether the photographer
"endeavored to accentuate certain parts of the picture." The court then sustained the objection to the picture's
introduction.
It was offered in evidence again when Herbert C. Dillard, Civil Engineer and County Surveyor, was on the stand. He was
asked on cross-examination by defendant's counsel: "If you were taking a picture, and wanted to accentuate the curve of
route six to the west, you could accomplish that by taking the picture farther away from the intersection, that is, farther to
the east of the intersection, could you not?" He answered: "I think you could, yes." This witness was asked if he took
photographs and developed them. He answered: "Very little."
At the close of plaintiff's case the picture was again offered in evidence and was objected to and the objection sustained,
and court saying: "There is some mystery about exhibit number three, which is not clear to the court. There is no proof of
who took it, or any identity as to the picture, other than the physical view thereon; it isn't shown where the camera was
standing, under what conditions it was taken, and whether it was taken with a view to distorting it or not." The court then
commented on the fact that plaintiff had two days "since adjournment last Friday, to procure the original taker of this
photograph and thus establish it in the legal way with the right of cross-examination to defendants' counsel of the
photographer."
The rule is well settled that a photograph may be put in evidence if relevant to the issue and if verified. It does not have to
be verified by the taker. Its verification depends on the competency of the verifying witness and as to that the trial judge
must in the first instance decide, subject to reversal for substantial error.
Wigmore on Evidence (2d ed.), Vol. 2, sec. 792, p.97, says:
The objection that a photograph may be so made as to misrepresent the object is genuinely directed against its
testimonial soundness; but it is of no validity. It is true that a photograph can be deliberately so taken as to convey the
most false impression of the object. But so also can any witness lie in his words. A photograph can falsify just as much
and no more than the human being who takes it or verifies it. The fallacy of the objection occurs in assuming that the
photograph can come in testimonially without a competent person's oath to support it. If a qualified observer is found to
say, "This photograph represents the fact as I saw it," there is no more reason to exclude it than if he had said, "The
following words represent the fact as I saw it," which is always in effect the tenor of a witness's oath. If no witness has
thus attached his credit to the photograph, then it should not come in at all, any more than an anonymous letter should be
received as testimony.
Section 793:
The map or photograph must first, to be admissible, be made a part of some qualified person's testimony. Someone must
stand forth as its testimonial sponsor; in other words, it must be verified. There is nothing anomalous or exceptional in this
requirement of verification; it is simply the exaction of those testimonial qualities which are required equally of all

witnesses; the application merely takes a different form.


In other words, if a witness is familiar with the scene photographed and is competent to testify that the photograph
correctly represents it, it should, if relevant, be admitted....

What are the theoretical underpinnings of the pictorial testimony rule advocated by Wigmore (2d ed.), above, and followed
by the court in this case? Is it broad enough to cover all cases where photographs should be admitted? Is it too broad?

State v. Tatum

360 P.2d 754 (Wash. 1961)

DONWORTH, J. Ralph Tatum (hereinafter called appellant) was convicted of the crime of first degree forgery and was
sentenced to life imprisonment as an habitual criminal.
The essential facts of the case are summarized as follows:
One William Tousin, of Pasco, received monthly welfare checks from the state of Washington. In February, 1960, Tousin
did not receive his check (the checks were generally mailed to a rooming house in Pasco where Tousin resided). The mail
was normally left on a window ledge in the hallway of the rooming house. Appellant resided at the same place. Tousin's
February check for $28.90 was endorsed and cashed at Sherman's Food Store in Pasco by someone other than the
payee, Tousin.
An employee of the store, Caroline Pentecost, testified that, although she could not specifically recall the abovementioned transaction, the initials appearing on the face of the check were hers. She also testified that whenever a check
was presented to her for payment at the store, the store manager had instructed her to initial it and then insert it into a
"Regiscope" machine. This machine is designed to simultaneously photograph, through two separate lenses, both the
check and the person facing the machine.
When it was discovered that the endorsement of the payee was a forgery, the Regiscope film of the transaction was sent
to the Regiscope distributor in Portland to be developed. The processed film shows both the check and the person of
appellant (from his waist up) with the food store in the background. Upon the trial, both the negative and the print
therefrom were admitted in evidence, over appellant's objection....
Were the Regiscope films (the negative and the print) authenticated sufficiently to warrant their admission into
evidence? ...
At the outset, with respect to the question of the admissibility of the Regiscope films, it should be noted that this court has
for many years encouraged the admission and use of demonstrative evidence, including photographs. There is equally
well-established precedent for the proposition that the admission or rejection of photographs as evidence lies within the
sound discretion of the trial court.... We have also held that the trial court's discretion extends to the sufficiency of
identification.
What quantum of authentication do courts require before a photograph may be admissible in evidence? It is simply this-that some witness (not necessarily the photographer) be able to give some indication as to when, where, and under what
circumstances the photograph was taken, and that the photograph accurately portray the subject or subjects illustrated.
The photograph need only be sufficiently accurate to be helpful to the court and the jury.
Witness Pentecost testified that she recognized the background shown in the picture as that of the food store, and, as
mentioned previously, she also testified as to the store's standard procedure of "regiscoping" each individual who cashed
a check at the store. Phillip Dale testified at length concerning the Regiscope process. The testimony of these two
witnesses taken together amounted to a sufficient authentication to warrant the admission of the photograph (both the
print and the negative) into evidence.
The authentication supplied by the testimony summarized above, of course, did not preclude appellant from attempting to
prove that the individual portrayed was someone other than appellant, that the photograph was inaccurate in one or more
respects, the appellant was somewhere else at the moment the photograph was taken, or any other such defense. But
these arguments go to the weight rather than to the admissibility of the exhibits in question. In our opinion, the Regiscope
exhibits, coupled with the other evidence produced by the state, sufficed to establish a prima facie case of first degree
forgery....
The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Do the Sisk and Tatum courts apply the same standards to the Regiscope pictures? Do they seem to proceed from the
same theoretical basis respecting pictorial evidence? Do they apply the same rules regarding what foundation must be
laid for introduction of this type of evidence? Can the cases be reconciled? With which case do you agree?
Do these cases suggest any shortcomings in the "pictorial testimony" theory advocated by Wigmore and followed by
theAdamczuk court? Under this pictorial testimony theory, would X rays be admissible? What about a chance picture of a
crowd that on close examination shows the commission of a crime not seen by anyone at the time? Or a picture taken
with a telescopic lens?

SECOND DIVISION
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 199403

- versus GOMER S. CLIMACO, Promulgated:


Appellant. June 13, 2012
x--------------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case
This is a consolidated criminal case filed against appellant Gomer S. Climaco (Climaco) for violation of Sections 5 and 11
of Republic Act No. 9165 (The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002) for illegal possession (Criminal Case No.
4911-SPL) and illegal sale (Criminal Case No. 4912-SPL) of methamphetamine hydrochloride, a dangerous drug.
The Regional Trial Court (RTC) of San Pedro, Laguna, Branch 31, in its Decision dated 20 January 2009 (RTC Decision),
found Climaco guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of illegal possession of methamphetamine hydrochloride, a
dangerous drug, and sentenced him to imprisonment of 12 years and 1 day to 14 years and 8 months with a fine
of300,000.00 in Criminal Case No. 4911-SPL.[1] In Criminal Case No. 4912-SPL, the RTC found Climaco guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of illegal sale of methamphetamine hydrochloride, and sentenced him to life imprisonment
with a fine of P500,000.00. On appeal, the Special Fifteenth Division of the Court of Appeals (CA), in its Decision dated 29
March 2011 (CA Decision), affirmed the RTC Decision.[2] Climaco appealed to this Court by filing a Notice of Appeal in
accordance with Section 3(c), Rule 122 of the Rules of Court. [3]
Prosecutions Version
The prosecutions version of events is summarized in the RTC Decision: [4]
The prosecution presented two (2) witnesses in the persons of PO1 Alaindelon M. Ignacio, who gave his testimony on 5
January 2005, 8 February 2006 and 2 August 2006; and Forensic Chemist Donna Villa Huelgas, whose testimony was
dispensed with on 5 January 2005 upon defenses admission of the existence of the following: 1) Written Request for
Laboratory Examination as Exhibit A; 2) The Chemistry Report No. D-1102-04 as Exhibit B; 3) 1 white envelope as Exhibit
C; 4) the existence of two (2) plastic sachets with markings GSC-1 as Exhibit C-1; and 5) another one with markings
GSC-2 as Exhibit C-2.
PO1 Ignacio testified that he is a member of the Philippine National Police since 15 October 1999 and was assigned at
Intelligence Division, San Pedro Municipal Police Station. As member of the Intelligence Division, he was tasked to
conduct surveillance operation and apprehend persons engaged in illegal drug activity. On 7 September 2004, he was on
24-hour duty at PAC base located at United Bayanihan, San Pedro, Laguna. At around 6:00 in the evening of the same
day, PO1 Ignacio, SPO3 Samson, SPO4 Balverde, some members of the Laguna Special Operation Team, Members of
the Provincial Intelligence and Investigation Division conducted a briefing regarding a drug operation against a certain
Gomer Climaco, No. 5 in the drug watch list in San Pedro, Laguna. During the briefing, PO1 Ignacio was tasked to act as
the poseur-buyer and SPO4 Almeda as the overall team leader. The buy-bust money was prepared, which consist of
P500.00 bill and some boodle money. The team was also armed with a Warrant of Arrest for illegal drugs issued by Judge
Pao. After the briefing, the team proceeded to the target area. When they arrived, PO1 Ignacio saw the suspect standing
in front of his house. The other members of the team strategically positioned themselves. Since PO1 Ignacio already
knew the suspect, PO1 Ignacio just told Gomer that he would buy shabu.Gomer entered his house and took
something. When he came out, Gomer showed to PO1 Ignacio the shabu. PO1 Ignacio scratched his head to signal the
team that item was shown to him and he would execute the buying of the shabu. After Gomer asked for the money and
PO1 Ignacio gave it to him, SPO3 Samson and the rest of the team immediately moved in to effect the arrest of the
suspect. Since he was caught in the act, Gomer did not resist anymore. The team likewise showed Gomer his warrant of
arrest. PO1 Ignacio saw SPO3 Samson frisk and ask Gomer to empty his pockets. SPO3 Samson was able to recover
another plastic sachet, which was inserted between Gomers fingers. The plastic sachet, which was the product of the buybust, and the one recovered from Gomer were turned over to SPO4 Teofilo Royena, who turned them over to the Office of

the Special Operation Group located at Brgy. Tubigan, Bian, Laguna. The plastic sachet product of the buy-bust was
marked TR-B, which means Teofilo Royena and the letter B means Bust. While the plastic sachet recovered from Gomer
was marked TR-R, which means Teofilo Royena and the letter R means Recovered. PO1 Ignacio identified the accused
Gomer Climaco in open court. He likewise identified his sworn statement. During the cross-examination, PO1 Ignacio
admitted that he learned of the warrant of arrest on 7 September 2004 only. It was SPO4 Valverde who instructed PO
Ignacio to conduct surveillance operation against Gomer, who was engaged in rampant selling of shabu. [5]
Aside from the testimony of PO1 Alaindelon Ignacio (Ignacio), the following documentary exhibits were offered for the
prosecution: (1) Exhibit A Letter dated 7 September 2004; (2) Exhibit B Chemistry Report No. D-1102-04; (3) Exhibit C
One-half white envelope; (4) Exhibit C-1 Plastic sachet with white crystalline substance with markings GSC-1; (5) Exhibit
C-2 Plastic sachet with white crystalline susbtance with markings GSC-2; and (6) Exhibit D Pinanumpaang Salaysay
ofPO1 Ignacio.[6]
Defenses Version
Appellant Climaco, on the other hand, presented three witnesses and denied the prosecutions allegations of sale and
possession of shabu. The defenses version of the events, as narrated in the RTC Decision, is as follows:
The defense presented three (3) witnesses in the persons of the accused himself, Gomer S. Climaco, who testified on 13
May 2008, Michael M. Basihan, who gave his testimony on 7 October 2008, and Cristina Gamboa Climaco, who gave her
testimony on 25 November 2008.
Gomer S. Climaco testified that prior to 7 September 2004, he did not know SPO2 Wilfredo Samson and PO1 Alaindelon
Ignacio. On 7 September 2004, Gomer, together with his wife and five (5) children, were inside their house. When Gomer
was feeding the chicken in front of his yard, four (4) unidentified armed men suddenly arrived and frisked him. When
nothing was found in his possession, the men handcuffed and brought him to the police station. At the police station, the
men filed a case against him. Gomer denied having sold and delivered shabu to a police poseur-buyer and that he was in
possesion of shabu.During the cross-examination, Gomer said that while he was being frisked by the men, Gomer asked
the men what was his violation. The men replied that somebody bought shabu from him. Gomer told the men that he did
nothing wrong, but the men continued to handcuff him. Gomer was not aware that he was included in the list of top 20
illegal drug pushers. Gomer did not know of any ill motive on the part of the police officer why he would be charged with
so grave an offense. He did not file any case against the police officer who arrested him.
Michael M. Basihan testified that Gomer Climaco was his neighbor in Bagong Silang. On 7 September 2004, Michael
went to Gomers manukan to gather guava fruits. When he arrived there, Gomer was tending to his cocks. While he was
gathering guava fruits, Michael saw four (4) unidentified armed men suddenly barge into the premises and arrest
Gomer. After he was handcuffed, Gomer was made to board a vehicle where he was brought to Jaka Subdivision. Michael
could not remember whether it was morning or evening when Gomer was arrested by unidentified armed men because
the incident happened a long time ago.
Cristina Gamboa Climaco testified that she is the wife of Gomer Climaco. She did not know SPO2 Wilfredo Samson and
PO1 Alaindelon Ignacio. On 7 September 2004, she was inside their house taking care of her child. At around 3:00 in the
afternoon of the same day, Gomer arrived in their house, who just came from Barangay Cuyab. After taking a bath, Gomer
went outside of their house. While in front of their house, Gomer called the person taking care of his chickens. Gomer and
that person went to the back of the house. Meanwhile, Cristina went inside the house. Although she was inside of the
house, Cristina could see Gomer and the person through the window. At around 4:00 in the afternoon, Cristina saw four
(4) unidentified armed men approach and ask something from Gomer. After a few minutes, Gomer left the back of the
house, while the men were left standing there.Cristina went out the house and saw her husband go toward the direction of
St. Reymond. At around 6:00 in the evening, Cirstina went down from their house to ask Michael if he saw
Gomer. Michael told Cristina that he saw Gomer loaded into a van by several men. During the cross-examination, Cristina
said that she did not know of any reason why SPO2 Samson and PO1 Ignacio would arrest her husband. [7]
The Decision of the Regional Trial Court
The RTC declared Climaco guilty of the crimes of illegal sale and illegal possession of methamphetamine hydrochloride
orshabu, a dangerous drug. The dispositive portion of the RTC Decision reads:

WHEREFORE, in Criminal Case No. 4912-SPL, the Court finds the accused, Gomer S. Climaco, GUILTY beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of violation of Sec. 5 of R.A. 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous
Drugs Act of 2002, and hereby sentences him to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and to pay a fine of 500,000.00.
In Criminal Case No. 4911-SPL, the Court finds the accused, Gomer S. Climaco, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of
the crime of violation of Sec. 11 of R.A. 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, and
sentencing him to suffer imprisonment of twelve (12) years and one (1) day to fourteen (14) years and eight (8) months
and to pay a fine of three hundred thousand pesos (300,000.00).
The Branch Clerk of Court is directed to transmit to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the plastic sachets
subject matter of these cases, for said agencys appropriate disposition.
SO ORDERED.[8]
The RTC found that the elements for the crimes of illegal sale and illegal possession of shabu were sufficiently
established by the prosecution.[9] The RTC held that Climacos defense of frame-up is viewed with disfavor as it can be
easily concocted.[10] The RTC gave full faith and credit to the testimony of PO1 Ignacio, and declared the police officers
who participated in the buy-bust operation were properly performing their duties because they were not inspired by any
improper motive.[11]
The Decision of the Court of Appeals
The CA affirmed the conviction of Climaco. The dispositive portion of the CA Decision reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED and the judgment dated January 20, 2009 of the RTC in Criminal Case Nos. 4911SPL and 4912-SPL finding appellant Gomer S. Climaco guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Sections 5 and 11
of Rep. Act No. 9165 is AFFIRMED.[12]
The CA declared that all the elements of the crimes of illegal sale and illegal possession of dangerous drugs were proven.
[13]
The CA found that based on the testimony of PO1 Ignacio, it was established that the chain of custody over the seized
drugs was unbroken from the arresting officers to SPO4 Royena, and then to the forensic chemist for examination. [14]
The Issue
The sole issue in this case is whether the guilt of Climaco for the crimes of illegal sale and illegal possession of shabu, a
dangerous drug, was proven beyond reasonable doubt.
The Ruling of this Court
We resolve to acquit Climaco for the prosecutions failure to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
PO1 Ignacio, in his testimony, claimed that the dangerous drugs seized from Climaco were marked by SPO4 Teofilo
Royena as TR-B and TR-R.[15] However, the Chemistry Report submitted to the trial court shows that the dangerous drugs
examined and confirmed to be methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu by the forensic chemist were marked as GSC1
and GSC2.[16] Since what was seized (TR-B and TR-R) by PO1 Ignacio from Climaco at the time of the buy-bust operation
was different from the dangerous drugs submitted (GSC1 and GSC2) to the forensic chemist for review and evaluation,
the chain of custody over the dangerous drugs was broken and the integrity of the evidence submitted to the trial court
was not preserved, casting doubt on the guilt of Climaco.
Constitutional Presumption of Innocence; Weight of Evidence
The Constitution guarantees the accuseds presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Section 14(2) of the Bill of Rights
(Article III) provides that, in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved.
Section 2, Rule 133 of the Rules of Court likewise states that, in a criminal case, the accused is entitled to an acquittal,
unless his guilt is proved beyond reasonable doubt. Proof beyond reasonable doubt does not mean such a degree of
proof, excluding possibility of error, which produces absolute certainty. Only moral certainly is required, or that degree of
proof which produces conviction in an unprejudiced mind.

Chain of Custody Over the Confiscated Items


The elements necessary in every prosecution for the illegal sale of shabu are: (1) the identity of the buyer and the seller,
the object and the consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment. [17] Similarly, it is essential that the
transaction or sale be proved to have actually taken place coupled with the presentation in court of evidence of corpus
delicti which means the actual commission by someone of the particular crime charged. [18] The corpus delicti in cases
involving dangerous drugs is the presentation of the dangerous drug itself.
On the other hand, to successfully prosecute a case of illegal possession of dangerous drugs, the following elements
must be established: (1) the accused is in possession of an item or object which is identified to be a prohibited drug; (2)
such possession is not authorized by law; and (3) the accused freely and consciously possessed the drug. [19]
In both cases of illegal sale and illegal possession of dangerous drugs, the chain of custody over the dangerous drug
must be shown to establish the corpus delicti. In People v. Alcuizar,[20] the Court held:
The dangerous drug itself, the shabu in this case, constitutes the very corpus delicti of the offense and in sustaining a
conviction under Republic Act No. 9165, the identity and integrity of the corpus delicti must definitely be shown to have
been preserved. This requirement necessarily arises from the illegal drugs unique characteristic that renders it indistinct,
not readily identifiable, and easily open to tampering, alteration or substitution either by accident or otherwise. Thus, to
remove any doubt or uncertainty on the identity and integrity of the seized drug, evidence must definitely show that the
illegal drug presented in court is the same illegal drug actually recovered from the accused-appellant; otherwise, the
prosecution for possession under Republic Act No. 9165 fails.
Section 1(b) of Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation No. 1, Series of 2002, [21] which implements the Comprehensive
Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, defines chain of custody as follows:
Chain of Custody means the duly recorded authorized movements and custody of seized drugs or controlled chemicals or
plant sources of dangerous drugs or laboratory equipment of each stage, from the time of seizure/confiscation to receipt in
the forensic laboratory to safekeeping to presentation in court for destruction. Such record of movements and custody of
seized item shall include the identity and signature of the person who held temporary custody of the seized item, the date
and time when such transfer of custody were made in the course of safekeeping and use in court as evidence, and the
final disposition.
In Malillin v. People,[22] the Court explained the importance of the chain of custody:
Prosecutions for illegal possession of prohibited drugs necessitates that the elemental act of possession of a prohibited
substance be established with moral certainty, together with the fact that the same is not authorized by law. The
dangerous drug itself constitutes the very corpus delicti of the offense and the fact of its existence is vital to a judgment of
conviction. Essential therefore in these cases is that the identity of the prohibited drug be established beyond doubt. Be
that as it may, the mere fact of unauthorized possession will not suffice to create in a reasonable mind the moral certainty
required to sustain a finding of guilt.More than just the fact of possession, the fact that the substance illegally possessed
in the first place is the same substance offered in court as exhibit must also be established with the same unwavering
exactitude as that requisite to make a finding of guilt. The chain of custody requirement performs this function in that it
ensures that unnecessary doubts concerning the identity of the evidence are removed.
As a method of authenticating evidence, the chain of custody rule requires that the admission of an exhibit be preceded
by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter in question is what the proponent claims it to be. It would include
testimony about every link in the chain, from the moment the item was picked up to the time it is offered in evidence, in
such a way that every person who touched the exhibit would describe how and from whom it was received, where it was
and what happened to it while in the witness possession, the condition in which it was received and the condition in which
it was delivered to the next link in the chain. These witnesses would then describe the precautions taken to ensure that
there had been no change in the condition of the item and no opportunity for someone not in the chain to have possession
of the same.
While testimony about a perfect chain is not always the standard because it is almost always impossible to obtain, an
unbroken chain of custody becomes indispensable and essential when the item of real evidence is not distinctive and is
not readily identifiable, or when its condition at the time of testing or trial is critical, or when a witness has failed to observe

its uniqueness.The same standard likewise obtains in case the evidence is susceptible to alteration, tampering,
contamination and even substitution and exchange. In other words, the exhibits level of susceptibility to fungibility,
alteration or tampering without regard to whether the same is advertent or otherwise not dictates the level of strictness in
the application of the chain of custody rule.
Indeed, the likelihood of tampering, loss or mistake with respect to an exhibit is greatest when the exhibit is small and is
one that has physical characteristics fungible in nature and similar in form to substances familiar to people in their daily
lives. Graham v. State positively acknowledged this danger. In that case where a substance was later analyzed as heroin
was handled by two police officers prior to examination who however did not testify in court on the condition and
whereabouts of the exhibit at the time it was in their possession was excluded from the prosecution evidence, the court
pointing out that the white powder seized could have been indeed heroin or it could have been sugar or baking powder. It
ruled that unless the state can show by records or testimony, the continuous whereabouts of the exhibit at least between
the time it came into the posession of the police officers until it was tested in the laboratory to determine its composition,
testimony of the state as to the laboratorys findings is inadmissible.
A unique characteristic of narcotic substances is that they are not readily identifiable as in fact they are subject to scientific
analysis to determine their composition and nature. The Court cannot reluctantly close its eyes to the likelihood or at least
the possibility, that at any of the links in the chain of custody over the same there could have been tampering, alteration or
substitution of substances from other cases by accident or otherwise in which similar evidence was seized or in which
similar evidence was submitted for laboratory testing. Hence, in authenticating the same, a standard more stringent than
that applied to cases involving objects which are readily identifiable must be applied, a more exacting standard that entails
a chain of custody of the item with sufficient completeness if only to render it improbable that the original item has either
been exchanged with another or been contaminated or tampered with.
In this case, PO1 Ignacio, in his testimony, claimed that the substances seized from Climaco during the buy-bust
operation were marked as TR-R and TR-B:
Q: When SPO4 Almeida handed over the items to SPO4 Teofilo Royena, what if any did SPO4 Royena do with the items?
A: He placed markings on it, maam.
Q: Where were you when he placed the markings?
A: I was present, maam.
Q: Do you know what markings was made?
A: He placed his initials TR which means Teofilo Royena and the letter B which means bust, maam.
Q: Im showing to you a plastic sachet with the markings TR-B, please go over this and tell if this is the same item which
youconfiscated from the accused?
A: Yes, maam. This is the same.
PROS. CASANO: Your Honor, the brown envelope which contains the plastic sachet has already been marked as Exhibit
C, the plastic sachet as Exhibit C-1 and the markings TR-B as Exhibit C-2 (Continuing).
xxxx
Q: Tell us the markings that was placed?
A: Its TR-R, the R means recovered, maam.
Q: How sure are you that the items marked by SPO4 Teofilo Royena TR-R was the same item taken by SPO3 Samson
from the accused?
A: Because there was a difference between the two plastic sachets, the items recovered by SPO3 Samson was a little bit
bigger, maam.

Q: Im showing to you a bigger plastic sachet with the markings TR- R, are you referring to this?
A: Yes, maam.[23]
Based on the testimony of PO1 Ignacio, the substances retrieved from Climaco and submitted to the court were contained
in two (2) plastic sachets with the markings TR-R and TR-B. However, according to the Chemistry Report executed by
Forensic Chemist Donna Villa P. Huelgas on 8 September 2004, the plastic sachets submitted for examination carried the
markings GSC-1 and GSC-2, different from the plastic sachets marked TR-R and TR-B containing the drugs retrieved
from Climaco:
CHEMISTRY REPORT NUMBER: D-1102-04
xxxx
SPECIMEN SUBMITTED:
A One (1) heat-sealed transparent plastic sachet, with markings GSC1, containing 0.35 gram of white crystalline
substance and placed in a staple-sealed transparent plastic bag. (Allegedly bought by the Police Poseur-Buyer)
B One (1) heat-sealed transparent plastic sachet, with markings GSC2, containing 0.14 gram of white crystalline
substance and placed in a staple-sealed transparent plastic bag. (Allegedly found from the posession of Glomer Climaco)
[24]

In addition, in the Index of Exhibits submitted by the Officer-in-Charge of the RTC, Exhibit C-1 was described as a plastic
sachet with white crystalline substance with markings GSC-1 while Exhibit C-2 was described as a plastic sachet with
white crystalline substance with markings GSC-2,[25] contrary to the testimony of PO1 Ignacio and the declaration of
Prosecutor Casano that the specimens submitted to the court carried the markings TR-B and TR-R.
Likewise, in the handwritten Minutes dated 5 January 2005, Exhibit C-1 was identified as a plastic sachet with white
crystalline substance with marking GSC-1, and Exhibit C-2 was identified as a plastic sachet with white crystalline
substance with marking GSC-2.[26]
Clearly, what was submitted to the trial court were plastic sachets bearing the markings GSC-1 and GSC-2, instead of the
plastic sachets bearing the markings TR-R and TR-B that contained the substances recovered from Climaco. This fact is
evident from the RTC Decision, recognizing Exhibits C-1 and C-2 to bear the markings GSC-1 and GSC-2, while
acknowledging the testimony of PO1 Ignacio that the plastic sachets containing the substances recovered from Climaco
bore the markings TR-R and TR-B:
The prosecution presented two (2) witnesses in the persons of x x x Forensic Chemist Donna Villa Huelgas, whose
testimony was dispensed with on 5 January 2005 upon defenses admission of the existence of the following: 1) Written
Request for Laboratory Examination as Exhibit A; 2) The Chemistry Report No. D-1102-04 as Exhibit B; 3) 1 white
envelope as Exhibit C;4) the existence of two (2) plastic sachets with markings GSC-1 as Exhibit C-1; and 5)
another one with markings GSC-2 as Exhibit C-2.
xxxx
The plastic sachet product of the buy-bust was marked TR-B, which means Teofilo Royena and the letter B means
Bust. While the plastic sachet recovered from Gomer was marked TR-R, which means Teofilo Royena and the letter R
means Recovered.[27](Emphasis supplied)
The prosecution did not explain why the markings of the plastic sachets containing the alleged drugs, which were
submitted to be TR-B and TR-R, became GSC-1 and GSC-2 in the Chemistry Report, Index of Exhibits and Minutes of the
Hearing.In their decisions, the RTC and CA were silent on the change of the markings. In fact, since the markings are
different, the presumption is that the substance in the plastic sachets marked as TR-B and TR-R is different from the
substance in the plastic sachets marked as GSC-1 and GSC-2. There is no moral certainty that the substance taken from
appellant is the same dangerous drug submitted to the laboratory and the trial court.

As held in Malillin v. People,[28] to establish guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt in cases involving dangerous
drugs, it is important that the substance illegally possessed in the first place be the same substance offered in court as
exhibit. This chain of custody requirement ensures that unnecessary doubts are removed concerning the identity of the
evidence. When the identity of the dangerous drug recovered from the accused is not the same dangerous drug
presented to the forensic chemist for review and examination, nor the same dangerous drug presented to the court, the
identity of the dangerous drug is not preserved due to the broken chain of custody. With this, an element in the criminal
cases for illegal sale and illegal possession of dangerous drugs, the corpus delicti, is not proven, and the accused must
then be acquitted based on reasonable doubt. For this reason, Climaco must be acquitted on the ground of reasonable
doubt due to the broken chain of custody over the dangerous drug allegedly recovered from him.
WHEREFORE, we SET ASIDE the 29 March 2011 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 03860
affirming the judgment of conviction of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 31, San Pedro, Laguna in Criminal Case Nos.
4911-SPL and 4912-SPL dated 20 January 2009. We ACQUIT appellant Gomer S. Climaco based on reasonable doubt
and we ORDER his immediate release from detention, unless he is detained for any other lawful cause.
We DIRECT the Director of the Bureau of Corrections to implement this Decision and to report to this Court on the action
taken within five (5) days from receipt of this Decision.
SO ORDERED.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs CIPRIANO CARDENAS yGOFRERICA,


G. R. No. 190342 March 21, 2012
DECISION

SERENO, J.:
This is an appeal from the Decision[1] dated 19 February 2009 of the Court of Appeals (CA) Second Division in CA-G.R.
CR-H.C. No. 02634, which affirmed the conviction of accused-appellant for violation of Section 5, Article II of Republic Act
No. 9165 (R.A. 9165), the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. Appellant was convicted by the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 103 in Criminal Case No. Q-03-114312 for selling the prohibited drug
methylamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu.[2]
The Facts
On 07 January 2003, an Information was filed against accused Cipriano Cardena y Gofrerica, alias Ope, for violation of
Section 5, Article II of R.A. 9165, allegedly committed as follows:
That on or about the 6th day of January, 2003 in Quezon City, Philippines, the said accused, not being authorized by law to
sell, dispense, deliver, transport or distribute any dangerous drug, did, then and there, willfully, and unlawfully sell,
dispense, deliver, transport, distribute or act as broker in the said transaction, zero point zero five (0.05) gram of white
crystalline substance containing Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride otherwise known as SHABU a dangerous drug.
CONTRARY TO LAW.[3]
Upon arraignment, the accused pleaded Not guilty to the crime charged. [4]
Prosecutions Version of the Facts
The evidence for the prosecution shows that around 12 p.m. of 06 January 2003, the Detection and Special Operations
Division of the Criminal Investigation Division Group (DSOD-CIDG) in Camp Crame received a report from its confidential
informant regarding the rampant selling of shabu by a certain Cipriano Cardenas (a.k.a. Ope) at the Payatas Area in
Quezon City. Acting on the information, a team was organized to conduct a buy-bust operation. Police Officer (PO) 3
Edgardo Palacio was head of the team and PO3 Rene Enteria was designated to act as the poseur-buyer.[5] They marked
a 100 bill with the initials ERP on the lower right portion of its dorsal side and used the money in the buy-bust operation.
[6]
The team agreed that upon the consummation of the sale, PO3 Enteria would throw away his cigarette to signal the
moment at which the drug pusher would be arrested.[7]
The team proceeded to Lupang Pangako, Barangay Payatas, Quezon City to conduct the buy-bust operation. At the site,
PO3 Enteria was guided by the confidential informant and closely followed by PO3 Palacio and two other team members.
They chanced upon the accused wearing camouflage pants and standing near a small house located on a pathway.
[8]
Approaching the accused, the informant introduced the police officer as the person interested to buy shabu. PO3 Enteria
was asked how much he wanted to buy, and he answered 100. The accused then took out a clear plastic sachet
containing a white crystalline substance from his pocket and handed it to PO3 Enteria. After handing the marked 100 bill
to the accused, the police officer threw away his cigarette as a signal of the consummation of the buy-bust operation. [9]
PO3 Palacio and the rest of the team, who were just 15 meters away from the scene, immediately approached, arrested
the accused, and frisked the latter. PO3 Palacio recovered two (2) other clear plastic sachets from the accuseds right
pocket. The three sachets were marked CC-1, CC-2 and CC-3 CC representing the initials of the accused, Cipriano
Cardenas.[10]He was then brought to Camp Crame, where he was booked and investigated. The plastic sachets recovered
from him were transmitted to the PNP Crime Laboratory for analysis upon the request of Police Chief Inspector Ricardo N.
Sto. Domingo, Jr. of the DSODCIDG.[11] The results of the Initial Laboratory Report dated 07 January 2003 [12] showed that
the white crystalline substance contained in the three (3) heat-sealed plastic sachets tested positive for
methylamphetamine hydrochloride, or shabu, with a total weight of 0.05 gram.[13]
On 07 January 2003, an Information for violation of Section 5, Article II of R.A. 9165, was filed against the accused. [14]The
case was raffled to the Regional Trial Court (RTC), National Judicial Capital Region of Quezon City, Branch 103 and
docketed as Criminal Case No. Q-03-114312.
The Accuseds Version of the Facts

The accused had a different version of the facts surrounding his arrest. He claimed that around 3:00 p.m. of 06 January
2003, while he was walking home, four persons handcuffed him and forced him to board a vehicle. [15] He was taken to the
CIDG office at Camp Crame, where he was informed that he was being arrested for selling shabu. While inside the
investigation room, one of the men who arrested him gave the investigator a 100 bill. He claimed to have not seen the
alleged shabu at the time of his arrest or even during the CIDG investigation or during the inquest at the public
prosecutors office.[16]
The Ruling of the Trial Court
A full-blown trial was held by the RTC, before which were presented PO3 Palacio and PO3 Enteria as witnesses for the
prosecution. For the defense, only the accused testified in his defense. On 03 January 2007, the RTC promulgated a
Decision[17] convicting him of the crime charged. The trial court gave credence to the testimonies and pieces of evidence
presented by the prosecution. It ruled that the police operation had followed the normal course of a drug entrapment
operation, and that the arresting officers presented as prosecution witnesses were credible based on their candid and
honest demeanor. The RTC considered as absurd the allegation of the accused that he had been whimsically arrested by
the police officers during the operation. It found as weak and inconceivable his uncorroborated denial of the charge.
The dispostive portion of the RTC Decision reads:
ACCORDINGLY, judgement is hereby rendered finding the accused CIRPIANO CARDENAS y
GOFRERICAGUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of violation of Section 5 of R.A. 9165 (drug pushing) as
charged and he is hereby sentenced to a jail term of LIFE IMPRISONMENT and to pay a fine of 500,000.00.
The 3 sachets of shabu involved in this case are ordered transmitted to the PDEA thru the DDB for proper care and
disposition as required by R.A. 9165.
SO ORDERED.
The Ruling of the Court of Appeals
The accused appealed his conviction to the CA, which docketed the case as CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 2634. On 19 February
2009, the appellate court, through its Second Division, promulgated a Decision [18] affirming the trial courts conviction of the
accused. It ruled that the prosecution was able to establish the necessary elements to prove the illegal sale of drugs
under Section 5, Article II of R.A. 9165. It also found that the prosecution witnesses were credible when they testified on
the custody and identity of the drugs confiscated from the accused. Thus, it affirmed in toto the RTCs Decision, which it
found to be supported by the facts and law. The accused filed a Motion for Reconsideration, but it was denied by the
appellate court for lack of merit.
The Issues
The accused elevated his appeal to this Court raising this lone issue:
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED A REVERSIBLE ERROR IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSEDAPPELLANT DESPITE NON-COMPLIANCE WITH THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE PROPER CUSTODY OF SEIZED
DANGEROUS DRUGS UNDER R.A. NO. 9165.[19]
The defense alleges that the arresting officers did not follow the required procedure for the handling of seized drugs in a
buy-bust operation as stated in Section 21 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of R.A. 9165. [20] It points out
that there is a dearth of evidence to prove that the plastic sachets recovered from the accused were marked at the crime
scene in his presence immediately upon confiscation thereof. [21] Thus, the defense argues that due to the arresting officers
noncompliance with the correct procedure, the accused is entitled to an acquittal. [22]
The Ruling of the Court
We DENY the appeal of the accused for lack of merit and accordingly affirm the assailed Decision of the CA.
Under Section 5 of R.A. 9165, the elements that must be proven for the successful prosecution of the illegal sale
of shabuare as follows: (1) the identity of the buyer and the seller, the object of the sale, and the consideration; and (2) the

delivery of the thing sold and its payment.[23] The State has the burden of proving these elements and is obliged to present
thecorpus delicti in court to support a finding of guilt beyond reasonable doubt. [24]
In the instant case, the defense does not raise any issue with regard the sale and delivery of the illegal drugs for which the
accused was arrested. The point of contention pertains to the noncompliance by the arresting officers with Section 21,
Article II of the IRR implementing R.A. 9165 regarding the chain of custody of seized drugs. This is an important matter
because, if proven, substantial gaps in the chain of custody of the seized drugs would cast serious doubts on the
authenticity of the evidence presented in court and entitle the accused to an acquittal.
In People v. Salonga,[25] we held that it is essential for the prosecution to prove that the prohibited drug confiscated or
recovered from the suspect is the very same substance offered in court as exhibit. Its identity must be established with
unwavering exactitude for it to lead to a finding of guilt. Thus, drug enforcement agents and police officers involved in a
buy-bust operation are required by R.A. 9165 and its implementing rules to mark all seized evidence at the buy-bust
scene. Section 21 (a), Article II of the IRR, states:
SECTION 21. Custody and Disposition of Confiscated, Seized and/or Surrendered Dangerous Drugs, Plant Sources of
Dangerous Drugs, Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals, Instruments/Paraphernalia and/or Laboratory
Equipment.
(a)
The apprehending officer/team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall, immediately after seizure
and confiscation, physically inventory and photograph the same in the presence of the accused or the person/s from
whom such items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, a representative from the media
and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the
inventory and be given a copy thereof: Provided, that the physical inventory and photograph shall be conducted at the
place where the search warrant is served; or at the nearest police station or at the nearest office of the apprehending
officer/team, whichever is practicable, in case of warrantless seizures; Provided, further, that non-compliance with these
requirements under justifiable grounds, as long as the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items are properly
preserved by the apprehending officer/team, shall not render void and invalid such seizures of and custody over said
items;
The defense wants to impress upon this Court that the arresting officers did not conduct a physical inventory of the items
seized and failed to photograph them in the presence of the accused and of other personalities specified by Section 21
(a), Article II of the IRR of R.A. 9165.[26] It argues that this lapse on the part of the police officers involved in the buy-bust
operation raise uncertainty and doubts as to the identity and integrity of the articles seized from the accused whether they
were the same items presented at the trial court that convicted him. Based on this noncompliance by the arresting officers,
the defense prays for the acquittal of the accused.
We are not persuaded by these arguments.
The chain of custody is defined in Section 1(b) of Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation No. 1, Series of 2002, which
implements R.A. No. 9165:
b. Chain of Custody means the duly recorded authorized movements and custody of seized drugs or controlled chemicals
or plant sources of dangerous drugs or laboratory equipment of each stage, from the time of seizure/confiscation to
receipt in the forensic laboratory to safekeeping to presentation in court for destruction. Such record of movements and
custody of seized item shall include the identity and signature of the person who held temporary custody of the seized
item, the date and time when such transfer of custody were made in the course of safekeeping and used in court as
evidence, and the final disposition .
To protect the civil liberties of the innocent, the rule ensures that the prosecutions evidence meets the stringent standard
of proof beyond reasonable doubt. We have held, however that substantial compliance with the procedural aspect of the
chain of custody rule does not necessarily render the seized drug items inadmissible. In People v. Ara,[27] we ruled that
R.A. 9165 and its IRR do not require strict compliance with the chain of custody rule:
As recently highlighted in People v. Cortez and People v. Lazaro, Jr., RA 9165 and its subsequent Implementing Rules
and Regulations (IRR) do not require strict compliance as to the chain of custody rule. The arrest of an accused will not be
invalidated and the items seized from him rendered inadmissible on the sole ground of non-compliance with Sec. 21,

Article II of RA 9165. We have emphasized that what is essential is the preservation of the integrity and the
evidentiary value of the seized items, as the same would be utilized in the determination of the guilt or innocence
of the accused.
Briefly stated, non-compliance with the procedural requirements under RA 9165 and its IRR relative to the custody,
photographing, and drug-testing of the apprehended persons, is not a serious flaw that can render void the seizures and
custody of drugs in a buy-bust operation. (Emphasis supplied.)
In the instant case, we find that the chain of custody of the seized prohibited drugs was not broken. The testimony of PO3
Palacio shows that he was the one who recovered from the accused the three plastic sachets of shabu, together with the
marked money. He also testified that he was the one who personally brought the request for examination to the PNP
Crime Laboratory and had the plastic sachets examined there. During the trial of the case, he positively identified the
plastic sachets that he had recovered from the accused and had marked CC-1, CC-2 and CC-3. The pertinent portions of
the testimony of PO3 Palacio are as follows:
FIS. JURADO:
Q. And after you recovered the buy-bust money and these three plastic sachets of shabu, what did you do with the
accused?
WITNESS:
A. We brought them to the office.
FIS. JURADO:
Q. What happened to (sic) the office?
WITNESS:
A. He was investigated.
FIS. JURADO:
Q. How about the three plastic sachets, what did you do with these three plastic sachets.
WITNESS:
A. We have examined it at the Crime Laboratory.
FIS. JURADO:
Q. How does (sic) it brought to the Crime Laboratory?
WITNESS:
A.

We asked a request from our investigator.

FIS. JURADO:
Q. Is this the same request for laboratory examination that you are referring to?
WITNESS:
A.

Yes sir.

FIS. JURADO:
Q. Who brought this request to the Crime Laboratory for examination?

WITNESS:
A. I sir.
FIS. JURADO:
Q. Where does it show the delivery?
WITNESS:
A.

Here your honor.

(Witness pointing in open court to the document the request for laboratory examination the date when it was delivered.)
xxx xxx xxx
FIS. JURADO:
Q. xxx xxx xxx
May we request that the said documents be marked as Exhibit F and if the said plastic sachet would be shown to you,
how will you be able to identify the same?
WITNESS:
A. I can identify it because it has a marking sir CC-1, CC-2, and CC-3 your Honor.
FIS. JURADO:
Q. You mean to say to this Honorable Court that the three plastic sachets has (sic) a marking CC-1, CC-2, and CC-3?
WITNESS:
A. Yes your Honor.
FIS. JURADO:
Q. What was (sic) CC stands for?
WITNESS:
A. The name of our suspect Cipriano Cardenas your Honor.[28]
PO3 Rene Enteria, who had acted as the poseur-buyer in the buy-bust operation, corroborated the testimony of PO3
Palacio and indicated that the latter was in custody of the seized drugs from the time the accused was arrested until these
were sent to the crime laboratory for chemical analysis. We quote the relevant portions of PO3 Enterias testimony from
the records:
FIS. ARAULA:
After you said a while ago that you made a pre-arranged signal, what happened then after that?
WITNESS:
PO3 Palacio approached us and arrested the subject sir.
FIS. ARAULA:
When PO3 Palacio arrested the accused, where was (sic) you?
WITNESS:

I was behind them sir.


FIS. ARAULA:
Where is the buy bust money when Palacio arrested the accused?
WITNESS:
It was recovered to (sic) Ope sir.
FIS. ARAULA:
After arresting the accused, what happened then?
WITNESS:
We returned to the police station sir.
FIS. ARAULA:
What happened to the police station?
WITNESS:
The suspect was investigated sir.
FIS. ARAULA:
Who was in possession of that transparent plastic sachet when you were going to the police station?
WITNESS:
I was the one sir.
xxx xxx xxx
FIS. ARAULA:
If that transparent plastic sachet be shown to you, can you identify that?
WITNESS:
Yes sir.
FIS ARAULA:
Showing to you this transparent plastic sachet, what can you say about this?
WITNESS:
This is the one that I purchased sir.
FIS. ARAULA:
It appears that there are three (3) transparent plastic sachets in this case, in fact this is the one that you
purchased, how about these two (2) other transparent plastic sachets, where did it came (sic) from?
WITNESS:
It was recovered by Palacio after the arrest of the suspect sir.

FIS. ARAULA:
Why did you say that this is the transparent plastic sachet containing shabu that you purchased?
WITNESS:
Because I remember the size sir.
FIS. ARAULA:
That is the only reason, due to the size of the transparent plastic sachet?
WITNESS:
I also has (sic) initial in the plastic sir.
FIS. ARAULA:
What is the initial?
WITNESS:
Palacio was the one who made the marking sir.
xxx xxx xxx
FIS. ARAULA:
How about the evidence that you confiscated in relation to this Section 5, R.A. 9165 against the accused, where was that
when there was an investigation?
WITNESS:
It was brought to the Crime Laboratory for examination sir.[29]
CROSS EXAMINATION:
ATTY. CABAROS:
Who actually recovered the shabu from the accused?
WITNESS:
Palacio sir.
xxx xxx xxx
COURT:
Why is it that it could (sic) seem that Palacio was the one who marked the money and he marked also all the three (3)
plastic sachets? You never mark with your initial the buy bust money and you never mark with your initial that particular
plastic sachet you said that was given to you by the accused, how come that it was always Palacio (who) made the
marking and you as poseur buyer did not mark the items?
WITNESS:
Because when we made (the) marking, we make only one marking, your Honor.[30]
REDIRECT EXAMINATION:
FIS. ARAULA:

When this Palacio placed this mark, all the evidences that was confiscated from the accused, where were you?
WITNESS:
I was near Palacio sir.
FIS. ARAULA:
So you noticed that Palacio placed his markings to the evidences?
WITNESS:
Yes sir.[31] (Emphasis supplied.)
From these testimonies of the police officers, the prosecution established that they had custody of the drugs seized from
the accused from the moment he was arrested, during the time he was transported to the CIDG office in Camp Crame,
and up to the time the drugs were submitted to the crime laboratory for examination. The said police officers also identified
the seized drugs with certainty when these were presented in court. With regard to the handling of the seized drugs, there
are no conflicting testimonies or glaring inconsistencies that would cast doubt on the integrity thereof as evidence
presented and scrutinized in court. To the unprejudiced mind, the testimonies show without a doubt that the evidence
seized from the accused at the time of the buy-bust operation was the same one tested, introduced, and testified to in
court. In short, there is no question as to the integrity of the evidence.
Although we find that the police officers did not strictly comply with the requirements of Section 21, Article II of the IRR
implementing R.A. 9165, the noncompliance did not affect the evidentiary weight of the drugs seized from the accused,
because the chain of custody of the evidence was shown to be unbroken under the circumstances of the case. We held
thus in Zalameda v. People of the Philippines[32]:
Jurisprudence teems with pronouncements that failure to strictly comply with Section 21(1), Article II of R.A. No. 9165
does not necessarily render an accuseds arrest illegal or the items seized or confiscated from him inadmissible. What is of
utmost importance is the preservation of the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items, as these would be
utilized in the determination of the guilt or innocence of the accused. In the present case, we see substantial compliance
by the police with the required procedure on the custody and control of the confiscated items, thus showing that the
integrity of the seized evidence was not compromised. We refer particularly to the succession of events established by
evidence, to the overall handling of the seized items by specified individuals, to the test results obtained, under a situation
where no objection to admissibility was ever raised by the defense. All these, to the unprejudiced mind, show that the
evidence seized were the same evidence tested and subsequently identified and testified to in court. In People v. Del
Monte, we explained:
We would like to add that non-compliance with Section 21 of said law, particularly the making of the inventory and the
photographing of the drugs confiscated and/or seized, will not render the drugs inadmissible in evidence. Under Section 3
of Rule 128 of the Rules of Court, evidence is admissible when it is relevant to the issue and is not excluded by the law or
these rules. For evidence to be inadmissible, there should be a law or rule which forbids its reception. If there is no such
law or rule, the evidence must be admitted subject only to the evidentiary weight that will accorded it by the courts. x x x
We do not find any provision or statement in said law or in any rule that will bring about the non-admissibility of
the confiscated and/or seized drugs due to non-compliance with Section 21 of Republic Act No. 9165. The issue
therefore, if there is non-compliance with said section, is not of admissibility, but of weight evidentiary merit or
probative value to be given the evidence. The weight to be given by the courts on said evidence depends on the
circumstances obtaining in each case. (Emphasis supplied.)
On the other hand, the accused alleges that he did not commit the crime he was charged with and claims to have not
seen the evidence presented by the prosecution. It was established that he sold the seized drugs to PO3 Enteria during
the buy-bust operation, and that the sachets were found in his possession. These facts establish the elements of Section
5, R.A. 9165. The only issue the appellant raises before us is the noncompliance by the police officer with the correct
procedure for the handling of the evidence seized from him. We have no reason to doubt the police officers who gave

detailed accounts of what they did during the buy-bust operation. Their testimonies have adequately established the
unbroken chain of custody of the seized drugs and have led us to affirm the conviction of the accused.
The credibility of witnesses is a matter best examined by, and left to, the trial courts. The time-tested doctrine is that the
matter of assigning values to declarations on the witness stand is best and most competently performed by the trial judge.
Unlike appellate magistrates, it is the judge who can weigh such testimonies in light of the witnesses demeanor and
manner of testifying, and who is in a unique position to discern between truth and falsehood. Thus, appellate courts will
not disturb the credence, or lack of it, accorded by the trial court to the testimonies of witnesses. This is especially true
when the trial courts findings have been affirmed by the appellate court. For them the said findings are considered
generally conclusive and binding upon this Court, [33] unless it be manifestly shown that the trial court had overlooked or
arbitrarily disregarded facts and circumstances of significance. [34] Thus, we affirm the assailed Decision of the appellate
court and uphold the conviction of the accused.
WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED. The CA Decision in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 2634, People of the Philippines v.
Cipriano Cardenas y Gofrerica dated 19 February 2009, is AFFIRMED in all respects.
SO ORDERED.