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G.R. Nos.

L-21528 and L-21529 March 28, 1969

ROSAURO REYES, petitioner,


vs.
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.

Jose F. Maacop for petitioner.


Office of the Solicitor General Arturo A. Alafriz, Assistant Solicitor General Pacifico P. de Castro and
Solicitor Antonio M. Martinez for respondent.

MAKALINTAL, J.:

This case is before us on appeal by certiorari, from the decision of the Court of Appeals affirming that a
the municipal court of Cavite City, convicting Rosauro Reyes of the crimes of grave threats and grave
oral defamation, and sentencing him, in the first case (Criminal Case No. 2594), to four (4) months and
ten (10) days of arresto mayor and to pay a fine of P300, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of
insolvency; and in the second case (Criminal Case No. 2595), to an indeterminate penalty of from four
(4) months of arresto mayor to one (1) year and eight (8) months of prison correccional and to pay
Agustin Hallare the sum of P800 as moral damages, with costs in both cases.

The petitioner herein, Rosauro Reyes, was a former civilian employee of the Navy Exchange, Sangley
Point, Cavite City, whose services were terminated on May 6, 1961. In the afternoon of June 6, 1961, he
led a group of about 20 to 30 persons in a demonstration staged in front of the main gate of the United
States Naval Station at Sangley Point. They carried placards bearing statements such as, "Agustin,
mamatay ka;" "To, alla boss con Nolan;" "Frank do not be a common funk;" "Agustin, mamamatay ka
rin"; "Agustin, Nolan for you;" "Agustin alla bos con Nolan;" "Agustin, dillega, el dia di quida rin bo
chiquiting;" and others. The base commander, Capt. McAllister, called up Col. Patricia Monzon, who as
Philippine Military Liaison Officer at Sangley Point was in charge of preserving harmonious relations
between personnel of the naval station and the civilian population of Cavite City. Capt. McAllister
requested Col. Monzon to join him at the main gate of the base to meet the demonstrators. Col.
Monzon went to the place and talked to Rosauro Reyes and one Luis Buenaventura upon learning that
the demonstration was not directed against the naval station but against Agustin Hallare and a certain
Frank Nolan for their having allegedly caused the dismissal of Rosauro Reyes from the Navy Exchange,
Col. Monzon suggested to them to demonstrate in front of Hallare's residence, but they told him that
they would like the people in the station to know how they felt about Hallare and Nolan. They assured
him, however, that they did not intend to use violence, as "they just wanted to blow off steam."

At that time Agustin Hallare was in his office inside the naval station. When he learned about the
demonstration he became apprehensive about his safety, so he sought Col. Monzon's protection. The
colonel thereupon escorted Hallare, his brother, and another person in going out of the station, using
his (Monzon's) car for the purpose. Once outside, Col. Monzon purpose slowed down to accommodate
the request of Reyes. He told Hallare to take a good look at the demonstrators and at the placards they
were carrying. When the demonstrators saw Hallare they shouted, "Mabuhay si Agustin." Then they
boarded their jeeps and followed the car. One jeep overtook passed the car while the other to led
behind. After Hallare and his companions had alighted in front of his residence at 967 Burgos St., Cavite
City, Col. Monzon sped away.

The three jeeps carrying the demonstrators parked in front of Hallare's residence after having gone by
it twice Rosauro Reyes got off his jeep and posted himself at the gate, and with his right hand inside his
pocket and his left holding the gate-door, he shouted repeatedly, "Agustin, putang ina mo. Agustin,
mawawala ka. Agustin lumabas ka, papatayin kita." Thereafter, he boarded his jeep and the motorcade
left the premises. Meanwhile, Hallare, frightened by the demeanor of Reyes and the other
demonstrators, stayed inside the house.lwphi1.et

On the basis of the foregoing events Rosauro Reyes was charged on July 24 and 25, 1961 with grave
threats and grave oral defamation, respectively (Criminal Cases Nos. 2594 and 2595, Municipal Court of
Cavite City), as follows;

The undersigned City Fiscal of the City of Cavite accuses Rosauro Reyes of the crime of Grave Threats,
as defined by Article 282 of the Revised Penal Code and penalized by paragraph 2 of the same Article,
committed as follows:

That on or about June 6, 1961, in the City of Cavite, Republic of the Philippines and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above named accused, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully
and feloniously, orally threaten to kill, one Agustin Hallare.

Contrary to law.

Cavite City, July 24, 1961.

DEOGRACIAS S. SOLIS
City Fiscal

BY: (SGD.) BUEN N. GUTIERREZ


Special Counsel

The undersigned complainant, after being duly sworn to an oath in accordance with law, accuses
Rosauro Reyes of the crime of Grave Oral Defamation, as defined and penalized by Article 358 of the
Revised Penal Code, committed as follows:

That on or about June 6, 1961, in the City of Cavite, Republic of the Philippines and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above named accused, without any justifiable motive but with
the intention to cause dishonor, discredit and contempt to the undersigned complainant, in the
presence of and within hearing of several persons, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously utter to the undersigned complainant the following insulting and serious defamatory
remarks, to wit: "AGUSIN, PUTANG INA MO". which if translated into English are as follows: "Agustin,
Your mother is a whore."

Contrary to law.
Cavite City, July 25, 1961.

(SGD.) AGUSTIN HALLARE


Complainant

Subscribed and sworn to before me this. 25th day of July, 1961, in the City of Cavite, Philippines.

(SGD.) BUEN N. GUTIERREZ


Special Counsel

Upon arraignment, the accused pleaded not guilty to both charges and the cases were set for joint trial.
On the day of the hearing the prosecution moved to amend the information in Criminal Case No. 2594
for grave threats by deleting therefrom the word "orally". The defense counsel objected to the motion
on the ground that the accused had already been arraigned on the original information and that the
amendment "would affect materially the interest of the accused." Nevertheless, the amendment was
allowed and the joint trial proceeded.

From the judgment of conviction the accused appeal to the Court of Appeals, which returned a verdict
of affirmance. A motion for reconsideration having been denied, the accused brought this appeal
by certiorari.

Petitioner avers that the Court of Appeals erred: (1) in affirming the proceedings in the lower court
allowing the substantial amendment of the information for grave threats after petitioner had been
arraigned on the original information; (2) in proceeding with the trial of the case of grave threats
without first requiring petitioner to enter his plea on the amended information; (3) in convicting
petitioner of both offenses when he could legally be convicted of only one offense, thereby putting him
in jeopardy of being penalized twice for the same offense; (4) in convicting petitioner of grave threats
when the evidence adduced and considered by the court tend to establish the offense of light threats
only; and (5) in convicting petitioner of grave oral defamation when the evidence tend to establish that
of simple slander only.

On the first error assigned, the rule is that after the accused has pleaded the information may be
amended as to all matters of form by leave and at the discretion of the court when the same can be
done without prejudice to the rights of the defendant (Section 13, Rule 110, New Rules of Court).
Amendments that touch upon matters of substance cannot be permitted after the plea is entered.

After a careful consideration of the original information, we find that all the elements of the crime of
grave threats as defined in Article 282 1 of the Revised Penal Code and penalized by its paragraph 2
were alleged therein namely: (1) that the offender threatened another person with the infliction upon
his person of a wrong; (2) that such wrong amounted to a crime; and (3) that the threat was not subject
to a condition. Hence, petitioner could have been convicted thereunder. It is to be noted that under the
aforementioned provision the particular manner in which the threat is made not a qualifying ingredient
of the offense, such that the deletion of the word "orally" did not affect the nature and essence of the
crime as charged originally. Neither did it change the basic theory of the prosecution that the accused
threatened to kill Rosauro Reyes so as to require the petitioner to undergo any material change or
modification in his defense. Contrary to his claim, made with the concurrence of the Solicitor General,
petitioner was not exposed after the amendment to the danger of conviction under paragraph 1 of
Article 282, which provides for a different penalty, since there was no allegation in the amended
information that the threat was made subject to a condition. In our view the deletion of the word
"orally" was effected in order to make the information conformable to the evidence to be presented
during the trial. It was merely a formal amendment which in no way prejudiced petitioner's rights.

Petitioner next contends that even assuming that the amendment was properly allowed, the trial court
committed a reversible error in proceeding with the trial on the merits without first requiring him to
enter his plea to the amended information. Considering, however, that the amendment was not
substantial, no second plea was necessary at all.

The third and fourth issues are related and will be discussed together. Petitioner avers that the
appellate court erred in affirming the decision of the trial court erred in affirming him of grave threats
and of grave oral defamation when he could legally be convicted of only one offense, and in convicting
him of grave threats at all when the evidence adduced and considered by the court indicates the
commission of light threats only.

The demonstration led by petitioner Agustin Hallare in front of the main gate of the naval station; the
fact that placards with threatening statements were carried by the demonstrators; their persistence in
trailing Hallare in a motorcade up to his residence; and the demonstration conducted in front thereof,
culminating in repeated threats flung by petitioner in a loud voice, give rise to only one conclusion: that
the threats were made "with the deliberate purpose of creating in the mind of the person threatened
the belief that the threat would be carried into effect." 2Indeed, Hallare became so apprehensive of his
safety that he sought the protection of Col. Monzon, who had to escort him home, wherein he stayed
while the demonstration was going on. It cannot be denied that the threats were made deliberately and
not merely in a temporary fit of anger, motivated as they were by the dismissal of petitioner one month
before the incident. We, therefore, hold that the appellate court was correct in upholding petitioner's
conviction for the offense of grave threats.

The charge of oral defamation stemmed from the utterance of the words, "Agustin, putang ina mo".
This is a common enough expression in the dialect that is often employed, not really to slander but
rather to express anger or displeasure. It is seldom, if ever, taken in its literal sense by the hearer, that
is, as a reflection on the virtues of a mother. In the instant case, it should be viewed as part of the
threats voiced by appellant against Agustin Hallare, evidently to make the same more emphatic. In the
case of Yebra, G.R. No. L-14348, Sept. 30, 1960, this Court said:

The letter containing the allegedly libelous remarks is more threatening than libelous and the intent to
threaten is the principal aim and object to the letter. The libelous remarks contained in the letter, if so
they be considered, are merely preparatory remarks culminating in the final threat. In other words, the
libelous remarks express the beat of passion which engulfs the writer of the letter, which heat of passion
in the latter part of the letter culminates into a threat. This is the more important and serious offense
committed by the accused. Under the circumstances the Court believes, after the study of the whole
letter, that the offense committed therein is clearly and principally that of threats and that the
statements therein derogatory to the person named do not constitute an independent crime of libel, for
which the writer maybe prosecuted separately from the threats and which should be considered as part
of the more important offense of threats.

The foregoing ruling applies with equal force to the facts of the present case.

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby reversed and petitioner is acquitted, with costs de
oficio, insofar as Criminal Case No. 2595 of the Court a quo (for oral defamation) is concerned; and
affirmed with respect to Criminal Case No. 2594, for grave threats, with costs against petitioner.

Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Zaldivar, Santos, Sanchez, Fernando, Teehankee and Barredo, JJ.,
concur.
Castro and Capistrano, JJ., took no part.

Footnotes
1
ART. 282. Grave threats. Any person who shall threaten another with the infliction upon the person,
honor or property of the latter or of his family of any wrong amounting to a crime, shall suffer:

1. The penalty next lower in degree than that prescribed by law for the crime he threatened to commit,
if the offender shall have made the threat demanding money or imposing any other condition, even
though not unlawful, and said offender shall have attained his purpose. If the offender shall not have
attained his purpose, the penalty lower by two degrees shall be imposed.

If the threat made in writing or through a middleman, the penalty shall be imposed in its maximum
period.

2. The penalty of arresto mayor and a fine not exceeding 500 pesos, if the threat shall not have been
made subject to a condition.
FIRST DIVISION

NOEL VILLANUEVA, G.R. No. 160351


Petitioner,
Present:
PANGANIBAN, C.J.
Chairperson,
YNARES-SANTIAGO,
- versus - AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CALLEJO, SR., and
CHICO-NAZARIO, JJ.

Promulgated:
PEOPLE OF
THE PHILIPPINESand April 10, 2006
YOLANDA CASTRO,
Respondents.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

This is no ordinary word war story. Here, the Councilor and Vice-Mayor of
a town, both holders of exalted government positions, became slaves to their
human limitations and engaged in a verbal scuffle at the municipal hall as if they
were ordinary men in the streets. A moment of unguarded emotional outburst lead
to the long-drawn out twists and turns of this case, which should have been
avoided if only they have imbedded in their complex emotions, habits and
convictions that consciousness to regulate these deflecting forces and not to let
them loose, either to their own detriment or to that of the public they serve. This is
the high price they have to pay as occupants of their exalted positions.[1]

At bar is a petition for review assailing the decision[2] dated 28 March 2003
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 22932 which affirmed with
modification the decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Tarlac, likewise
affirming with modification the joint decision of the 2nd Municipal Circuit Trial
Court (MCTC) of Capas-Bamban-Concepcion, convicting petitioner of the crime
of Grave Oral Defamation in Criminal Case No. 139-94 and Slander by Deed in
Criminal Case No.140-94. Also assailed is the resolution[3] dated 9 October
2003 of the Court of Appeals denying the motion for reconsideration filed by
petitioner.

Petitioner Noel Villanueva was then a member of the Municipal Council


while private complainant Yolanda C. Castro was then Municipal Vice Mayor,
both of Concepcion, Tarlac. Upon complaint of private complainant, two separate
Criminal Complaints were filed on 9 October 1994 against the petitioner in the
2nd MCTC of Capas-Bamban-Concepcion, to wit:

CRIMINAL CASE NO. 139-94


For: Grave Oral Defamation

On September 12, 1994 on or about 10:00 in the morning at the SB Office in the
Municipal Building of Concepcion, Tarlac, in the presence of several persons and
again in the afternoon on or about four thirty (4:30 PM) at the Old Session Hall of
the Municipal Building in my presence and in the presence of several persons,
defendant NOEL L. VILLANUEVA, in a loud voice and within hearing distance of
everyone present, unlawfully, maliciously and feloniously uttered in a serious and
insulting manner at the undersigned complainant the following words:
[]Nagmamalinis ca, ena ca man malinis, garapal ca[] and Balamu mansanas cang
malutu, pero queng quilib ularan ca, tictac carinat (You are pretending to be clean
and honest yet you are not clean and honest, you are corrupt; you are like a red
apple, but inside you are worm infested and extremely dirty), which utterances are
serious and insulting in nature, tending to cause dishonor, discredit and contempt of
undersigned complainant and causing her extreme mental anguish, wound (sic)
feelings, besmirched reputation and serious anxiety for which she is entitled to
recover moral and exemplary damages in an amount to be determined by the
honorable court. Contrary to law.

CRIM.CASE NO. 140-94


For: Slander by Deed
On September 12, 1994 around four thirty (4:30 P.M.) in the afternoon, more or
less, at the Municipal Building of Concepcion, Tarlac, where public authorities
are engaged in the discharge of their duties, and in the presence of several
persons, the accused Noel L. Villanueva while in the process of hurling verbal
insults at the complainant, then and there unlawfully, feloniously and
contemptuously gave the complainant what is commonly known as dirty
finger by poking his hand at complainants face with the middle finger extended
and the rest of his fingers half-closed, an act tending to cause dishonor, discredit
and contempt on the complainant and causing her mental anguish, wounded
feelings and moral suffering for which she is entitled to moral and exemplary
damages in an amount to be determined by the honorable court. Contrary to
law.[4]

Petitioner entered a plea of not guilty on both counts and trial ensued. The
prosecution witnesses presented were the complainant and her two witnesses.

The MCTC restated the facts as presented by the prosecution evidence as follows:

On 12 September 1994, at 10:00 oclock in the morning, two utility men came to
complainants office, bringing with them the application for monetized leave
of Sangguniang Bayan member Noel Villanueva, petitioner in this case. The
application for monetized leave was not immediately attended to by
complainant as she was then busy dictating some important matters to her
secretary.[5]

The accused at that time was standing in front of the Vice Mayors Office and he
allegedly said: E ano kung wala sa mood, e ano kung galit sya.[6] These utterances
of accused were disregarded by complainant but accused then entered the
complainants office bringing with him his Application for Monetized Leave. The
accused addressed the complainants secretary: Malou, pag atiu ne keng mood,
papirma mu ne. The alleged request of accused to the Secretary was made in a very
sarcastic manner.[7]

Complainant got the monetized leave and filed it in her in and out files and
while doing this, the paper accidentally fell on the floor. When she was about to
pick it up, the accused allegedly got a yellow pad and swung it at complainants
face, but she was able to evade it. Accused then said: Ibuat daka ken, inabu daka
keng awang, e baling masukulnaku. (I will lift you from there and I will throw you
out of the window and I dont care if I will go to jail). Then the accused went out of
the office and before leaving, he pointed a dirty finger at complainant, prompting
the latter to stand and get an empty bottle of coke to shield her face. Accused
proceeded towards the office of the municipal mayor. Because accused was still
frothing invectives, complainant purportedly rolled the empty bottle of coke
towards him. The incident was witnessed by so many people numbering about 20
to 30 who were then at the municipal hall.[8]

Prosecution evidence further showed that accused allegedly mouthed the


following disparaging remarks, Magmalinis ka, ena ka man malinis, garapal
ka. Balamumansanas kang malutu, pero king kilub ularan ka, tiktak karinat (You
are pretending to be clean and honest yet you are not clean and honest, you are
corrupt. You are like red apple, you are worm infested inside and extremely
dirty). While this was going on, the Municipal Attorney, Atty. Pepito Torres,
intervened to pacify the accused, but he was unable to do so.[9]

Based on the account of the prosecution witnesses, from the municipal


session hall, the complainant was persuaded to enter the office of the Sangguniang
Bayan Secretary.Accused followed her and inside said office, the accused again
said, Ibuat daka, inabu daka keng awang, e baling masukul ku (I will lift you from
there and I will throw you out of the window and I dont care if I will go to
jail). I Tata mu tinagal yang kapitan pero masambut ya, pero ing kaputul ku sinam
but ne man (Your father ran for barangay captain and lost but my brother
won)[10] and again, the accused pointed a dirty finger at complainant.[11]

The defense, on the other hand, presented six witnesses. From their
testimonies, the MCTC gathered that on 12 September 1994, accused requested
Flora Calayag to prepare the application for monetized leave and asked her to have
it approved by the complainant. Because the application remained unsigned by the
latter, it was Joel Cecilio who in the afternoon went to her office for the approval
of the monetized leave, but again, to no avail.[12]

Accused then personally carried his application to complainants office. At


that time, complainant was dictating something to the Secretary and as he was
about to give the copy to the Secretary, complainant got up and grabbed the paper
from him and placed it on the right side of her table.[13]

This angered the accused and he said to complainant, [i]s this the actuation
of the high government official? The complainant replied, Bolang (Insane). A
verbal squabble ensued and the complainant allegedly said, nung munta kayo keng
municipiyong ayni balamu ninu kayong hari, ala nakong depatan nung-
e gawang pera, sira nako kareng tau.(When you go to the municipal building as if
you are a king, you did nothing except to make money, the people no longer
believe in you.)[14]

Complainant, at that instant, hurled a bottle of coke at petitioner and hit one
of the Barangay Captains then present.[15]

After trial, the MCTC found petitioner guilty of Grave Oral Defamation and
Serious Slander by Deed in a joint decision dated 26 February 1998. The MCTC
held that the statements uttered by petitioner and the act of making a dirty finger
constitute an affront on complainant who, as Vice Mayor and a lady, deserves
greater respect. The MCTC posited that the defense interposed by the petitioner
that complainant brought the havoc upon herself when she refused to approve his
application for accrued leave credits monetization cannot be considered as valid to
obviate or obliterate the crime or damage done unto the complainant. The MCTC
then held:

With these, this Court finds overwhelming evidence against the accused and
as such this Court finds the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of a charged
(sic) of Grave Oral Defamation punishable under Art. 358 of the Revised Penal
Code and Slander by Deed punishable under Art. 359 of the Revised Penal Code. x
x x The complainant although she can estimate the value of the moral damages is
entitled to the sum of P50,000.00 and attorneys fees of P30,000.00 and P1,000.00 as
appearance fee plus litigation expenses.

WHEREFORE, finding the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt for the
offenses or charges mentioned above, he is hereby sentenced to an imprisonment of
FOUR (4) MONTHS and one (1) day to one (1) year in each case which the
accused shall served (at the same time), and to pay by way of moral damages the
sum of P50,000.00 without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency and
litigation expenses and attorneys fees of P30,000.00 plus P1,000.00 per appearance
fee.[16]

Both parties appealed to the RTC of Tarlac, which affirmed petitioners conviction,
but modified the penalty and the manner of serving accuseds sentence, and with a
substantial increase in the award of damages. The fallo reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision of the Municipal Circuit


Trial Court, insofar as it finds the accused guilty of grave oral defamation in
Criminal Case No. 139 and slander by deed in Criminal Case No. 140 is hereby
AFFIRMED with the modification that the accused is to be sentenced to suffer the
indeterminate penalty of imprisonment from THREE (3) months as minimum to
TWO (2) years and TWO (2) months as maximum in each of the cases, the same to
be served SUCCESSIVELY.

Likewise, the decision of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court is further


modified and the accused is ordered to pay the amount of P100,000.00 as moral
damages and another amount of P50,000.00 as exemplary damages, including the
amount of P30,000.00 as attorneys fees and P1,000.00 per hearing as appearance
fee.[17]

On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling of the trial court with
the modification that the award of exemplary damages was deleted because
according to the Court of Appeals it was shown from the records that the
petitioner himself was a victim of complainants indiscretion for refusing, for
no reason at all, to approve petitioners application for monetization of his
accrued leave credits. The Court of Appeals disposed as follows:

IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the assailed decision is hereby


affirmed with the modification that the award of exemplary damages is hereby
deleted.[18]

As petitioners motion for reconsideration was likewise met with failure, petitioner,
in a last stab at absolution, lodged the present petition for review on the following
arguments:

I.

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN RULING


ON ONLY ONE (1) ISSUE RAISED BY PETITIONER IN HIS PETITION FOR
REVIEW AND IN NOT RULING SQUARELY ON THE OTHER FIVE (5)
ISSUES, THUS, DENYING PETITIONER OF HIS RIGHT TO BE HEARD
AND TO DUE PROCESS.

II.

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN NOT


REVERSING THE ASSAILED DECISION OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL
COURT DESPITE THE FACT THAT AS PER THE DECISION OF THE
COURT OF APPEALS ITSELF, IT IS CLEAR, IT BEING SUSTAINED BY
THE EVIDENCE ON RECORD, THAT IT WAS THE COMPLAINANT WHO
GAVE THE PROVOCATION TO THE WHOLE INCIDENT.

III.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN
AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE LOWER COURTS DESPITE THE
FACT THAT SAID COURTS GAVE CREDENCE AND WEIGHT ONLY TO
THE TESTIMONIES OF THE PROSECUTION WITNESSES, BUT FAILED
TO GIVE PROBATIVE VALUE TO AND ARBITRARILY DISREGARDED
THE TESTIMONIES OF THE ACCUSED-PETITIONER AND THAT OF HIS
WITNESSES.

IV.

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN NOT


ACQUITTING THE PETITIONER ON THE GROUND THAT HIS GUILT OF
THE CRIMES CHARGED HAD NOT BEEN PROVEN BEYOND
REASONABLE DOUBT.[19]

The issues are: (1) whether the Court of Appeals erred in sustaining the
conviction of petitioner for grave oral defamation in Criminal Case No. 139-94,
and (2) whether the Court of Appeals erred in sustaining the conviction of
petitioner for serious slander by deed in Criminal Case No. 140-94.

Anent the first issue, Article 358 of the Revised Penal Code provides:

Art. 358. Slander. Oral defamation shall be punished by arresto mayor in


its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period if it is of a
serious and insulting nature; otherwise, the penalty shall be arresto menor or a
fine not exceeding 200 pesos.

Slander is libel committed by oral (spoken) means, instead of in writing. The


term oral defamation or slander as now understood, has been defined as the
speaking of base and defamatory words which tend to prejudice another in his
reputation, office, trade, business or means of livelihood.[20]

There is grave slander when it is of a serious and insulting nature. The


gravity of the oral defamation depends not only (1) upon the expressions used, but
also (2) on the personal relations of the accused and the offended party, and (3) the
circumstances surrounding the case.[21] Indeed, it is a doctrine of ancient
respectability that defamatory words will fall under one or the other, depending not
only upon their sense, grammatical significance, and accepted ordinary meaning
judging them separately, but also upon the special circumstances of the case,
antecedents or relationship between the offended party and the offender, which
might tend to prove the intention of the offender at the time.[22]

In our previous rulings, we held that the social standing and position of the
offended party are also taken into account and thus, it was held that the slander was
grave, because the offended party had held previously the Office of Congressman,
Governor, and Senator and was then a candidate for Vice-President,[23] for which
no amount of sophistry would take the statement out of the compass of grave oral
defamation.[24] However, we have, likewise, ruled in the past that uttering
defamatory words in the heat of anger, with some provocation on the part of
the offended party constitutes only a light felony.[25]

In the case at bar, as a public official, petitioner, who was holding the
position of Councilor at that time, is hidebound to be an exemplar to society
against the use of intemperate language particularly because the offended party
was a Vice-Mayor. However, we cannot keep a blind eye to the fact that such
scathing words were uttered by him in the heat of anger triggered by the fact, as
found by the Court of Appeals, that complainant refused, without valid
justification to approve the monetization of accrued leave credits of
petitioner. In a manner of speaking, she sowed the wind that reaped the storm.

In the words of the Court of Appeals:

The already existing animosity between them does not vest in the
complainant the prerogative to deny petitioner a right to which he was
legally entitled. Exemplary damages cannot be recovered as a matter of
right. They are designed to permit the court to mould behavior that has socially
deleterious consequences. Its imposition is required by public policy to suppress
the wanton acts of the offender. It cannot be invoked as a matter of right. x x x [26]

The above findings of fact of the Court of Appeals supported by substantial


evidence are conclusive and binding on the parties and are not reviewable by this
Court.[27]Considering this finding, the Court of Appeals not only should have
struck out the award of exemplary damages but should have modified as well the
offense committed to be of simple nature punishable by arresto mayor or a fine not
exceeding P200.00 under the above-quoted Art. 358 of the Revised Penal Code.
In Pader v. People,[28] complainant was conversing with his political leaders
at the terrace of his house at Morong, Bataan, when petitioner appeared at the gate
and shouted putang ina mo Atty. Escolango. Napakawalanghiya mo! The latter was
dumbfounded and embarrassed. At that time, Atty. Escolango was a candidate for
Vice Mayor of Morong, Bataan in the elections of 8 May 1995. We held that the
offense committed was only slight slander. We explained why in this wise:
The issue is whether petitioner is guilty of slight or serious oral
defamation. In resolving the issue, we are guided by a doctrine of ancient
respectability that defamatory words will fall under one or the other, depending
not only upon their sense, grammatical significance, and accepted ordinary
meaning judging them separately, but also upon the special circumstances of the
case, antecedents or relationship between the offended party and the offender,
which might tend to prove the intention of the offender at the time.
Unquestionably, the words uttered were defamatory. Considering,
however, the factual backdrop of the case, the oral defamation was only
slight. The trial court, in arriving at its decision, considered that the defamation
was deliberately done to destroy Atty. Escolangos reputation since the parties
were political opponents.
We do not agree. Somehow, the trial court failed to appreciate the fact that
the parties were also neighbors; that petitioner was drunk at the time he uttered
the defamatory words; and the fact that petitioners anger was instigated by
what Atty. Escolango did when petitioners father died. In which case, the
oral defamation was not of serious or insulting nature.
In Reyes v. People [137 Phil. 112, 120 (1969)], we ruled that the
expression putang ina mo is a common enough utterance in the dialect that is
often employed, not really to slander but rather to express anger or displeasure. In
fact, more often, it is just an expletive that punctuates ones expression of
profanity. We do not find it seriously insulting that after a previous incident
involving his father, a drunk Rogelio Pader on seeing Atty. Escolango would utter
words expressing anger. Obviously, the intention was to show his feelings of
resentment and not necessarily to insult the latter. Being a candidate running for
vice mayor, occasional gestures and words of disapproval or dislike of his person
are not uncommon.
In similar fashion, the trial court erred in awarding moral damages without
proof of suffering. Accordingly, petitioner may be convicted only of slight oral
defamation defined and penalized under Article 358, Revised Penal Code,
prescribing the penalty of arresto mayor or a fine not exceeding 200
pesos.[29] (Emphasis supplied.)

Similarly, in Cruz v. Court of Appeals,[30] petitioner and complainant, a


Municipal Judge, were next door neighbors. Animosity grew between their two
families because of some disputes. Petitioner resented the practice of complainant
of throwing garbage and animal excrement into her premises. There was also a
boundary dispute between petitioner's mother and complainant, which was the
subject of a civil suit for "Recovery of Possession, Ownership, Enforcement of
Legal Easement and Abatement of Nuisance" filed by the mother before the Court
of First Instance of Iloilo against complainant. Additionally, petitioner's mother
had previously instituted an administrative complaint against the complainant
before the Supreme Court, but the same was dismissed. There was a pent-up
feeling of being aggrieved, resentment, anger, and vexation on petitioner's part,
culminating in her outburst against complainants. For having called the
complainant judge "land grabber," "shameless" and "hypocrite," petitioner was
charged and subsequently convicted by the Court of First Instance of three separate
offenses of Grave Oral Defamation committed on 5, 6 and 8 August 1976. On
appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the verdicts of conviction. On review,
however, we held that although the abusive remarks may ordinarily be considered
as serious defamation, under the environmental circumstances of the case, there
having been provocation on complainant's part, and the utterances complained of
having been made in the heat of unrestrained anger and obfuscation, petitioner is
liable only for the crime of Slight Oral Defamation. Petitioner was sentenced to
pay a fine of P200.00 in each of the criminal cases, with subsidiary imprisonment
in case of insolvency, and to pay the costs.

Guided by the foregoing precedents, we find petitioner guilty only of slight


oral defamation because of the attendant circumstances in the case at bar.

Lest we be misconstrued, the Court does not condone the vilification or use
of scurrilous language on the part of petitioner, but following the rule that all
possible circumstances favorable to the accused must be taken in his favor, it is our
considered view that the slander committed by petitioner can be characterized as
slight slander following the doctrine that uttering defamatory words in the heat of
anger, with some provocation on the part of the offended party, constitutes only a
light felony.[31]

In fact, to be denied approval of monetization of leave without valid


justification, but as an offshoot of a political dissension may have been vexing for
petitioner and may have been perceived by him as provocation that triggered him
to blow his top and utter those disparaging words. In hindsight, to be denied
monetization of leave credits must have stirred upon the petitioner a feeling akin to
begging for money that he was legally entitled to. This oppressive conduct on the
part of complainant must have scarred petitioners self-esteem, too, to appear as
begging for money. But again, this is not an excuse to resort to intemperate
language no matter how such embarrassment must have wreaked havoc on his ego.

The next issue that faces this Court is whether or not petitioners act of
poking a dirty finger at complainant constitutes grave slander by deed.

Following the same principle as enunciated in our foregoing discussion of


the first issue, we find petitioner guilty only of slight slander by deed in Criminal
Case No. 140-94 inasmuch as we find complainants unjust refusal to sign
petitioners application for monetization and her act of throwing a coke bottle at
him constituted a perceived provocation that triggered the poking of finger
incident.

Article 359 of the Revised Penal Code provides:

Art. 359. Slander by deed. The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum
period to prision correccional in its minimum period or a fine ranging from 200 to
1,000 pesos shall be imposed upon any person who shall perform any act not
included and punished in this title, which shall cast dishonor, discredit, or contempt
upon another person. If said act is not of a serious nature, the penalty shall be arresto
menor or a fine not exceeding 200 pesos.

Slander by deed is a crime against honor, which is committed by performing


any act, which casts dishonor, discredit, or contempt upon another person. The
elements are (1) that the offender performs any act not included in any other crime
against honor, (2) that such act is performed in the presence of other person or
persons, and (3) that such act casts dishonor, discredit or contempt upon the
offended party. Whether a certain slanderous act constitutes slander by deed of a
serious nature or not, depends on the social standing of the offended party, the
circumstances under which the act was committed, the occasion, etc.[32] It is libel
committed by actions rather than words. The most common examples are slapping
someone or spitting on his/her face in front of the public market, in full view of a
crowd, thus casting dishonor, discredit, and contempt upon the person of another.

In Mari v. Court of Appeals,[33] complainant and petitioner were co-


employees in the Department of Agriculture, with office at Digos, Davao del Sur,
although complainant occupied a higher position. On 6 December 1991, petitioner
borrowed from complainant the records of his 201 file. However, when he returned
the same three days later, complainant noticed that several papers were missing
which included official communications from the Civil Service Commission and
Regional Office, Department of Agriculture, and a copy of the complaint by the
Rural Bank of Digos against petitioner. Upon instruction of her superior officer,
complainant sent a memorandum to petitioner asking him to explain why his 201
file was returned with missing documents. Instead of acknowledging receipt of the
memorandum, petitioner confronted complainant and angrily shouted at her:
"Putang ina, bullshit, bugo." He banged a chair in front of complainant and choked
her. With the intervention of the security guard, petitioner was prevailed upon to
desist from further injuring complainant. We held:

Prescinding from the foregoing, it would serve the ends of justice better if
the petitioner were sentenced to pay a fine instead of imprisonment. The offense
while considered serious slander by deed was done in the heat of anger and
was in reaction to a perceived provocation. The penalty for serious slander
by deed may be either imprisonment or a fine. We opt to impose a fine.

ACCORDINGLY, the Court hereby SETS ASIDE the decision of the


Court of Appeals and in lieu thereof renders judgment finding petitioner guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of serious slander by deed defined and penalized under
Article 359 of the Revised Penal Code, and sentencing him to pay a fine
of P1,000.00, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.[34](Emphasis
supplied.)

In Mari, the Court found petitioner guilty of serious slander by deed defined
and penalized under Article 359 of the Revised Penal Code, and sentenced him to
pay a fine of P1,000.00, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. The
deed involved was the banging of a chair in front of complainant and choking her.

In another case, Teodoro v. Court of Appeals,[35] the incident, which gave


rise to this case, is narrated as follows:

Petitioner Amado B. Teodoro was vice-president and corporate secretary


of the DBT-Marbay Construction, Inc., while complainant, Carolina Tanco-
Young, was treasurer of the same corporation. Petitioner is the brother of the
president of the corporation, Donato Teodoro, while complainant is the daughter
of the chairman of the board of the corporation, Agustin Tanco. x xx

Records show that the incident complained of took place at the Board Room
of the D.B.T. Mar Bay Construction Incorporated in the afternoon of August 17,
1984. Present at the meeting were Agustin Tanco, Chairman of the Board; the
President, Donato Teodoro; the accused, Amado Teodoro, as Corporate Secretary;
the complainant, Carolina Tanco-Young who is the Treasurer; and one
Oscar Benares.

xxxx

It appears that there was a controversial document being insisted upon by


the accused, as secretary, to be signed by the chairman. The Board Treasurer,
Carolina Tanco-Young questioned the propriety of having the document signed as
there was, according to her, no such meeting that ever took place as to show a
supposed resolution to have been deliberated upon. A verbal exchange of words
and tirades took place between the accused Secretary and the Treasurer. One
word led to another up to the point where Carolina Tanco-Young, the treasurer,
either by implication or expressed domineering words, alluded to the accused as
a "falsifier" which blinded the accused-appellant to extreme anger and rage, thus
leading him to slap Tanco-Young the alleged name caller.[36] (Emphasis
supplied.)

This Court in Teodoro held that there was grave slander by deed.

In another case, the acts of pushing and slapping a woman in order to


ridicule and shame her before other people constitute the felony of slander by deed
defined and penalized under Article 359 of the Revised Penal Code by arresto
mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period.[37]

In the cases as above-cited, there was no provocation on the part of the


complainants unlike the present case. Moreover, the poking of the finger in the
case at bar was, palpably, of less serious magnitude compared to the banging of
chair, the choking in Mari and the slapping of a face in Teodoro. Thus, we find that
the poking of dirty finger in the case at bar, while it smacks of slander by deed, is
of a lesser magnitude than the acts committed in the foregoing cases.

Moreover, pointing a dirty finger ordinarily connotes the


phrase Fuck You, which is similar to the expression Puta or Putang Ina mo, in
local parlance. Such expression was not held to be libelous in Reyes v.
People,[38] where the Court said that: This is a common enough expression in
the dialect that is often employed, not really to slander but rather to express
anger or displeasure. It is seldom, if ever, taken in its literal sense by the hearer,
that is, as a reflection on the virtues of a mother. Following Reyes, and in light
of the fact that there was a perceived provocation coming from complainant,
petitioners act of pointing a dirty finger at complainant
constitutes simple slander by deed, it appearing from the factual milieu of the
case that the act complained of was employed by petitioner "to express anger or
displeasure" at complainant for procrastinating the approval of his leave
monetization. While it may have cast dishonor, discredit or contempt upon
complainant, said act is not of a serious nature, thus, the penalty shall be arresto
menor meaning, imprisonment from one day to 30 days or a fine not
exceeding P200.00. We opt to impose a fine following Mari.[39]

Yes, complainant was then a Vice-Mayor and a lady at that, which


circumstances ordinarily demanded respect from petitioner. But, it was, likewise,
her moral obligation springing from such position to act in a manner that is worthy
of respect. In the case at bar, complainants demeanor of refusing to sign the leave
monetization of petitioner, an otherwise valid claim, because of a political discord
smacks of a conduct unbecoming of a lady and a Vice-Mayor at that. Moreover, it
appears that she had, indeed, thrown a bottle of coke at petitioner, which actuation
reveals that she, too, had gone down to petitioners level.

Holding an esteemed position is never a license to act capriciously with


impunity. The fact that there was a squabble between petitioner and complainant,
both high-ranking local public officials, that a verbal brawl ostensibly took place,
speaks very poorly of their self-control and public relations. For this, they both
deserve to be censured and directed to conduct themselves in a more composed
manner and keep their pose as befits ranking officials who officially deal with the
public.[40]

To be worthy of respect, one must act respectably, remembering always that


courtesy begets courtesy.

Anent the award of damages, the Court of Appeals erred in increasing the
award of moral damages to P100,000.00 in light of its own finding that petitioner
himself was a victim of complainants indiscretion for her refusal, for no reason at
all, to approve petitioners application for monetization of his accrued leave credits.

In similar fashion, considering that petitioner and complainant belong to


warring political camps, occasional gestures and words of disapproval or dislike
are among the hazards of the job.[41] Considering this political reality and the fact
that the Court of Appeals concluded, based on evidence on records, that petitioner
himself was a victim of complainants indiscretion, her claim for damages and
attorneys fees must, likewise, fail. Akin to the principle that he who comes to court
must have clean hands, each of the parties, in the case at bar, must bear his own
loss.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision of the Court of Appeals


in CA-G.R. CR No. 22932 is hereby MODIFIED as follows:

1) In Crim. Case No. 139-94, petitioner Noel Villanueva is guilty


beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of slight oral defamation only
for which we impose on him a fine of P200.00, with subsidiary
imprisonment in case of insolvency;

2) In Crim. Case No. 140-94, petitioner Noel Villanueva is guilty


beyond reasonable doubt of simple slander by deed for which we
impose a fine of P200.00, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of
insolvency;

3) The awards for moral damages and attorneys fees are DELETED.
Finally, the decision of the Court of Appeals insofar as it deleted the award
for exemplary damages is AFFIRMED. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN
Chief Justice
Chairperson

CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ


Associate Justice Associate Justice

ROMEO J. CALLEJO, SR.


Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Article VIII, Section 13 of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that


the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation before the case
was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN
Chief Justice

[1]
In the Matter of the Alleged Improper Conduct of Justice Badoy, Jr., 443 Phil. 296, 313 (2003).
[2]
Penned by Associate Justice Rodrigo V. Cosico with Associate Justices Juan Q. Enriquez, Jr. and Edgardo F.
Sundiam, concurring. Rollo, pp. 51-63.
[3]
Rollo, p. 8.
[4]
Id., p. 52.
[5]
Id., p. 83.
[6]
Id., p. 54.
[7]
Id.
[8]
Id., pp. 83-84.
[9]
Id., p. 85.
[10]
Id., p. 95.
[11]
Id.
[12]
Id.
[13]
Id.
[14]
Id., p. 86.
[15]
Id.
[16]
Id., pp. 86-87.
[17]
Id., p. 145.
[18]
Id., p. 77.
[19]
Id., pp. 28-29.
[20]
Victorio v. Court of Appeals, G.R. Nos. 32836-37, 31 May 1989, 173 SCRA 645, 652.
[21]
THE REVISED PENAL CODE, Book Two, Reyes, p. 956 (14th Ed., 1998), citing People v. Jaring, C.A., 40
O.G. 3683.
[22]
Pader v. People, 381 Phil. 932, 935-936 (2000).
[23]
THE REVISED PENAL CODE, supra note 21, citing People v. Boiser, C.A., 53 O.G. 2202.
[24]
Id., citing Balite v. People, 124 Phil. 868, 878 (1966).
[25]
Id., citing People v. De Modesto, 40 O.G., Suppl. 11,128.
[26]
Rollo, p. 63.
[27]
Mari v. Court of Appeals, 388 Phil. 269, 275 (2000).
[28]
Supra note 22.
[29]
Id., pp. 936-937.
[30]
204 Phil. 372, 375-376 (1982).
[31]
THE REVISED PENAL CODE, supra note 31, p. 957.
[32]
Id., p. 959.
[33]
Supra note 27, p. 273.
[34]
Id., pp. 275-279.
[35]
328 Phil. 116 (1996).
[36]
Id., pp. 118-119.
[37]
People v. Delfin, 112 Phil. 807, 818 (1961).
[38]
137 Phil. 112, 120 (1969).
[39]
Mari v. Court of Appeals, supra note 27.
[40]
Domingo v. Quimson, supra note 1.
[41]
Cf. Pader v. People, supra note 22.