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On August 7, 1999, at around 6:00PM, Jaime received a phone call prompting him to leave onboard his

motorcycle and proceed to a store owned by Jesus, a police officer, and stop in front of Jesus. At this
point, Ricardo, Romeo, Jojit, Boyet and Robert took positions near Jaime. When Jaime alighted from his
vehicle, Jesus shot him. The others drew their guns and fired too at the fallen Jaime. All of the them

A a tricycle driver, to
turned hisIs
and kicked
then ordered Rommel,
bring Jaime to the
The incident
was witnessed byThe
several Role
Guilty Participant
A Crime
Ofwho testified during the
trial. As
a result of the incident,
charges were
brought against
Ricardo, Romeo, Jojit,
Principal Or
Boyet and Robert before the RTC of Pasay City. Only Jesus, Ricardo, Romeo and Jojit were brought to
"Milder Form
Of Responsibility"...
trial, as the others remained at large. In their defense, Jesus admitted shooting Jaime, but averred that it
was done in self defense. Romeo and Jojit interposed alibi as a defense. After trial, the RTC convicted
Jesus as principal, sentenced him to reclusion perpetua, and ordered him to pay damages to the heirs of
Jaime. Ricardo, Romeo, and Jojit, on the other hand, were found guilty as accomplices, and sentenced
to lesser terms. None of the accused appealed the decision. The People, and Miriam, wife of Jaime,
appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals. The OSG argues that while the RTC found all the accused
acted in conspiracy with each other, it should also have imposed the penalty for principal against
Ricardo, Romeo and Jojit, since in conspiracy, the act of one is the act of all. The CA partially granted the
appeal, holding the three other accused jointly and severally liable for the damages, but ruled that it
cannot increase the criminal liability of Ricardo, Romeo and Jojit from principles to accomplices, since it
will place them in double jeopardy. The OSG elevated the case to the Supreme Court when the CA denied
its motion for reconsideration.
The Supreme Court:
The OSG takes the position that it is not right for the RTC to impose unequal penalties to several
accused found guilty of conspiracy in the commission of the crime charged since the rule is that, in
conspiracy, the act of one is the act of all.[1] In conspiracy to commit murder by shooting, all of the
accused are deemed equally guilty as co-principals, even if one or some of them never fired a gun.
But, actually, the RTC did not find the accused Eusebio, Isidro, and Contreras guilty as principals with
Bongon. It rather found them guilty as mere accomplices. The trouble is that, in discussing the liability of
these three, the RTC first ventured to say that, based on their concerted actions, Eusebio, Isidro, and
Contreras appeared to it to have acted in conspiracy with Bongon in killing Magsino. Said the RTC:
While the Court is convinced that the four accused, Bongon, Jr., Eusebio, Isidro and Contreras were
bound by conspiracy or a community of design or purpose to kill the victim, Magsino, and that they
committed overt acts to effectively accomplish such design or purpose and hence, their respective acts
of shooting Magsino can be attributed to all and each of their co-accused. x x x[
This far, the RTC seemed convinced that conspiracy attended the killing. But the above sentence did not
stop there. It resumed:
[I]t is believed however that the accused Eusebio, Isidro and Contreras should not be convicted as
principals for the crime of murder but should be deemed to be accomplices. Thus it is only accused
Bongon, Jr. who remains as the principal in this heinous crime of murder.[3]
And the RTC offered justifications for dropping its initial conspiracy theory after a closer evaluation of