Case Brief: People vs. Olivo

G.R. No. 177768               July 27, 2009





Accused-Appellants were found guilty reasonable doubt for the crime of Robbery with Homicide both by the RTC and Court of Appeals.

Based from the Information dated Nov.29, 2000, the three accused conspired to engaged in robbery done in a hardware store. They were able to take 35,000, but on the process, they assaulted and killed the store owner.

But when the case was appealed before the Supreme Court, it was found out that the accused-appellants was arrested without a warrant during a buy-bust operation for selling illegal drugs and not for robbery with homicide. Further, during the investigation at Camp Karingal, the accused was made to stand in a police line- up and identified by the eyewitness who failed to identify them three times.


Whether the accused-appellants can be convicted guilty beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of Robbery with homicide despite the dubious and questionable circumstances of the trial.


The Supreme Court reversed the decision of RTC and CA for two reasons:  One, the accused-appellants were not arrested for the crime of robbery with homicide but were arrested during a buy-bust operation; Second, the material fact that the lone alleged eyewitness, Maricel Permejo, was not able to identify them as the perpetrators of the crime, their guilt has not been proved with the required quantum of evidence.

SC ruled that with respect to the insufficiency of the prosecution evidence to convict appellants beyond reasonable doubt, trial courts are mandated not only to look at the direct examination of witnesses but to the totality of evidence before them. In every case, the court should review, assess and weigh the totality of the evidence presented by the parties. It should not confine itself to oral testimony during the trial. In the absence of clear and convincing evidence that the tribunals ignored, misconstrued or misapplied facts and circumstances of substances such that, if considered, the same will warrant the modification or reversal of the outcome of the case.

The accused-appellants upon appeal were acquitted.  The other accused, Joey Zafra, who was likewise convicted on the same evidence but did not perfect an appeal, was also acquitted because the present rule provides that an appeal taken by one or more several accused shall not affect those who did not appeal, except insofar as the judgment of the appellate court is favorable and applicable to the latter. 


Case Brief: Lim vs. Kou Co Ping

G.R. No. 175256               August 23, 2012
LILY LIM, Petitioner,
KOU CO PING a.k.a. CHARLIE CO, Respondent.

G.R. No. 179160
KOU CO PING a.k.a. CHARLIE CO, Petitioner,
LILY LIM, Respondent.


FR Cement Corporation (FRCC) issued several withdrawal authorities for the account of cement dealers and traders, Fil-Cement and Tigerbilt (FCCT).

FCCT then sold the withdrawal authorities covering 50,000 bags of cement to respondent Co for the amount of P3.15 million or P63.00 per bag.

Co then sold the same withdrawal authorities to petitioner Lily Lim for the alleged amount of P3.2 million or P64.00 per bag.

Lim, using the withdrawal authorities, withdrew 2,800 bags of cement from FRCC. He then sold some of the withdrawal authorities covering 10,000 bags back to respondent Co. (Remaining: 37,200 bags)

Sometime within the same year, FRCC no longer allowed Lim to withdraw the remaining 37,200 bags covered by the withdrawal authorities. According to Co and the manager of FCCT, the plant implemented a price increase and would only release the goods once Lim paid for the price difference or agreed to receive a lesser quantity of cement. Lim objected and maintained that the withdrawal authorities were not subject to price fluctuations.

Because of this, Lim filed an information for Estafa through Misappropriation or Conversion before the RTC of Pasig City. The criminal case was dismissed. The civil liability was subsequently dismissed as well after the reception of the evidence.
Lim appealed the dismissal of the civil liability before the CA. While the appeal before the CA was pending, she filed a complaint for specific performance and damages before the RTC of Manila. The complaint asserted two causes of action: breach of contract and abuse of rights.

In his defense, Co maintained that the two causes of action raise the same issue, which was Co’s liability to Lim for her inability to withdraw the bags of cement, and SHOULD BE DISMISSED ON THE GROUNDS OF LIS PENDENS AND FORUM SHOPPING.


Whether or not Lim committed forum shopping in filing the civil case for specific performance and damages during the pendency of her appeal on the civil aspect of Estafa.


Lim did not commit forum shopping in filing the civil case for specific performance and damages during the pendency of her appeal on the civil aspect of Estafa.

A single act or omission that causes damage to an offended party may give rise to two separate civil liabilities on the part of the offender:  (1) civil liability ex delicto, that is, civil liability arising from the criminal offense under Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code,− and (2) independent civil liability, that is, civil liability that may be pursued independently of the criminal proceedings. The independent civil liability may be based on “an obligation not arising from the act or omission complained of as a felony,” as provided in Article 31 of the Civil Code (such as for breach of contract or for tort). It may also be based on an act or omission that may constitute felony but, nevertheless, treated independently from the criminal action by specific provision of Article 33 of the Civil Code (“in cases of defamation, fraud and physical injuries”).

The filing of the collection case after the dismissal of the estafa cases against the offender did not amount to forum-shopping. The essence of forum shopping is the filing of multiple suits involving the same parties for the same cause of action, either simultaneously or successively, to secure a favorable judgment. Although the cases filed by the offended party arose from the same act or omission of the offender, they are, however, based on different causes of action. The criminal cases for estafa are based on culpa criminal while the civil action for collection is anchored on culpa contractual.

Moreover, there can be no forum-shopping in the instant case because the law expressly allows the filing of a separate civil action which can proceed independently of the criminal action.

Case Brief: Villareal vs. People

G.R. No. 151258 December 1, 2014


In February 1991, seven freshmen law students of the Ateneo de Manila University School of Law signified their intention to join the Aquila Legis Juris Fraternity (Aquila Fraternity). Hazing was pre-requisite in joining for which Lenny was one of few who had undergone the process. After the initiation, Lenny’s condition worsened due to the blows he received, the Aquilans rushed him to the hospital. Lenny was pronounced dead on arrival.

Consequently, a criminal case for homicide was filed against the 35 Aquilans. Four of the accused (Tecson, et. al.) were found to be guilty of homicide by the trial court but was reduced to crime of slight physical injuries and sentenced to 20 days of arresto menor by the Court of Appeals.  However, upon appeal to the Supreme Court by the Office of the Solicitor General, the Supreme Court ruled that they should be liable for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide instead.

In Motions for Clarification or Reconsideration, Tecson et. al. clarified the effect of the decision of the Supreme Court to their criminal liability. According to Tecson et. al., they immediately applied for probation after the CA rendered its Decision lowering their criminal liability from the crime of homicide, which carries a non-probationable sentence, to slight physical injuries, which carries a probationable sentence. Hence, they have already been discharged from their criminal liability and the cases against them closed and terminated by virtue of their granted Applications for Probation for which the terms therein are already been complied with.


Whether Tecson et. al. can be covered by the Probation Law despite their appeal of conviction?


Yes. First, the Court in resolving this issue ruled that the RTC Branch 130 had no jurisdiction to act on the probation applications of Tecson et. al. for the law requires that an application for probation be filed with the trial court that convicted and sentenced the defendant, meaning the court of origin (Branch 121). Hence, its grant of probation with Tecson et. al. is void.

However, the Court abandoning its previous stance on ineligibility of those who have appealed their conviction to probation, citing the then recent case of Colinares vs. People that the Probation Law never intended to deny an accused his right to probation through no fault of his. Had the RTC done what was right and imposed the correct penalty, he would have had the right to apply for probation. Moreover, the Court was quick to clarify that it remains that those who will appeal from judgments of conviction, when they have the option to try for probation, forfeit their right to apply for that privilege.

Note:  See full text for the extensive discussion of SC about Hazing.

Case Brief: Llamas vs. CA et. al.

G.R. No. 149588 August 16, 2010


Petitioners are assailing the decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City convicting them of the offense “Other Forms of Swindling” punishable under Article 316, paragraph 2, of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).

The trial court found that the accused spouses, well-knowing that their parcel of land was mortgaged to the Bank, sold the said land to one Avila, falsely representing the same to be free from all liens and encumbrances whatsoever, and said Conrado P. Avila bought the aforementioned property. After trial on the merits, the RTC rendered its Decision, finding petitioners guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals, affirmed the decision of the trial court, and subsequently denied the motion for reconsideration of the petitioners.

Assailing the aforesaid issuances of the appellate court, petitioners filed before the Supreme Court, their petition for review. The Court, however,denied the same for petitioners failure to state the material dates. Since it subsequently denied petitioners motion for reconsideration, the judgment of conviction became final and executory. Thereafter, apprehension of the spouses ensued through a warrant and only Carmelita was arrested.

In 2001, petitioner Francisco moved for the lifting or recall of the warrant of arrest, raising for the first time the issue that the trial court had no jurisdiction over the offense charged. There being no action taken by the trial court on the said motion, petitioners instituted,the instant proceedings for the annulment of the trial and the appellate courts decisions.

In 2009 decision of the Court, it held that, following the ruling in People v. Bitanga, the remedy of annulment of judgment cannot be availed of in criminal cases. The Court likewise rejected petitioners contention that the trial court had no jurisdiction over the case. However, the petitioners still seek another recourse to the Court for the reversal of the 2009 Decision and, consequently, the annulment of their conviction by the trial court.


Whether the Llamas spouses may avail of the remedy of the annulment of judgment.


Yes. The spouses can avail of the annulment of judgment.

In People v. Bitanga, the Court explained that the remedy of annulment of judgment cannot be availed of in criminal cases.

In the interest of justice and for humanitarian reasons, the Court deems it necessary to re-examine this case. xxx This Court has, on occasion, suspended the application of technical rules of procedure where matters of life, liberty, honor or property, among other instances, are at stake.  It has allowed some meritorious cases to proceed despite inherent procedural defects and lapses on the principle that rules of procedure are mere tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice. The strict and rigid application of rules that tend to frustrate rather than promote substantial justice must always be avoided. It is far better and more prudent for the court to excuse a technical lapse and afford the parties a review of the case to attain the ends of justice, rather than dispose of the case on technicality and cause grave injustice to the parties.

SC noted that the case was allowed to run its course as a petition for certiorari, such that in its April 12, 2004 Resolution, it said “Considering the allegations, issues and arguments adduced in the petition for review on certiorari x x x.”

Likewise, in its February 10, 2003 Resolution, SC said, “It appearing that Atty. Francisco R. Llamas, in his own behalf and as counsel for petitioners, has failed to file their reply to the Solicitor Generals comment on the petition for review on certiorari within the extended period x x x.””

Thus, the SC, at the first instance, had recognized that the petition, although captioned differently, was indeed one for certiorari.

Since SC resolved to treat the petition as one for certiorari, the doctrine in People v. Bitanga no longer finds application in this case.

(As to the criminal aspect of the case, the court acquitted the petitioners on the ground that their guilt was not proven beyond reasonable doubt.)


Case Brief: People vs. Lorenzo

G.R. No. 184760 April 23, 2010
PATERNO LORENZO y CASAS, Defendant-Appellant.


Two (2) Information where filed against accused-appellant Paterno Lorenzo y Casas (Lorenzo) for violation of Section 5 and 11 of Article II of R.A No. 9165. Meanwhile, Conrado Estanislao y Javier (Estanislao) was similarly charged in different Information (later acquitted due to insufficiency of evidence in connection with the offense charged against him).

After entering the plea of “not guilty”, the case was set for trial. The prosecution presented as its lone witness, Police Officer 1 (PO1) Noel Pineda, who was member of the buy-bust operation team which ensued leading to the arrest of Lorenzo and Estanislao. On the other hand, the accused interposes the twin defense of denial and frame-up.

RTC rendered its Decision convicting Lorenzo for Illegal Possession and Sale of Dangerous Drugs, but acquitting Estanislao.

Invoking his innocence, Lorenzo appealed his conviction to the Court of Appeals (CA), questioning the procedure followed by the police operatives in the seizure and custody of the evidence against him and that there is failure of the prosecution to convict him on the basis that there arises a reasonable doubt in the case at bar. Moreover, he claims that the prosecution failed to adopt required procedure by Section 21, Article II, RA. No. 9165, on the chain of custody and disposition of confiscated, seized, or surrendered dangerous drugs. CA affirmed the decision of the RTC.

Hence, this petition.


Whether or not the prosecution discharged its burden of proving Lorenzo’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt for the crime charged.



The presumption of innocence of an accused in a criminal case is a basic constitutional principle, fleshed out by procedural rules which place on the prosecution the burden of proving that an accused is guilty of the offense charged by proof beyond reasonable doubt. Corollary thereto, conviction must rest on the strength of the prosecution’s evidence and not on the weakness of the defense.

In both illegal sale and illegal possession of prohibited drugs, conviction cannot be sustained if there is a persistent doubt on the identity of the drug. The identity of the prohibited drug must be established with moral certainty. Apart from showing that the elements of possession or sale are present, the fact that the substance illegally possessed and sold in the first place is the same substance offered in court as exhibit must likewise be established with the same degree of certitude as that needed to sustain a guilty verdict.

PO1 Pineda testified that it was their confidential agent who purchased the shabu from accused-appellant and that he only retrieved it from said informant. He further testified that he marked the retrieved sachet of shabu together with the two other sachets of shabu that were allegedly seized from the accused, but it was not certain when and where the said marking was done nor who had specifically received and had custody of the specimens thereafter.

The Court also observes that the prosecution did not present the poseur-buyer who had personal knowledge of the transaction. The lone prosecution witness was at least four meters away from where accused-appellant and the poseur-buyer were. From this distance, it was impossible for him to hear the conversation between accused-appellant and the poseur-buyer. The foregoing facts and circumstances create doubt as to whether the sachets of shabu allegedly seized from accused-appellant were the same ones that were released to Camp Crame and submitted for laboratory examination. We therefore find that this failure to establish the evidence’s chain of custody is damaging to the prosecution’s case.

In sum, the totality of the evidence presented in the instant case failed to support accused appellant conviction of the crime charged, since the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt all elements of the offense.

Accordingly, presumption of innocence should prevail.

Case Brief: Salvanera vs. People

G.R. No. 143093   May 21, 2007


Rimberto Salvanera, Feliciano Abutin and Domingo Tampelix were charged with conspiracy of murder; Salvanera as the mastermind. The prosecution moved for the discharge of Abutin and Tampelix from the information to serve as State witnesses.  However, the trial court denied the prosecution’s motion.

Thereafter, the prosecution appealed to the CA, contending that the trial court committed a grave abuse of discretion when it denied the motion for discharge, as the testimonies of accused Abutin and Tampelix are essential to establish that Salvenera masterminded the murder.  The CA ruled in favor of the prosecution. Hence, the appeal.


Whether the CA committed serious error when it ruled that the “substantial corroboration” requirement under Sec. 9, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court was satisfied by the prosecution.


No.  The CA did not commit an error in its judgment. In the discharge of an accused, in order that he may be a State witness, the following condition must be present, namely:

1. Two or more accused are jointly charged with the commission of an offense;

2. The motion for discharged is filed by the prosecution before it rests its case;

3. The prosecution is required to present evidence and the sworn statement of each proposed State witness at a hearing in support of the discharge;

4. The accused gives his consent to be a State witness; and,

5. The trial court is satisfied that:

a.) There is absolute necessity for the testimony of the accused;

b.) There is no other direct evidence available for the proper prosecution of the offense committed;

c.) The testimony of said accused can be substantially corroborated in its material points;

d.) Said accused does not appear to be the most guilty;

e.) Said accused has not at any time been convicted of any offense involving moral turpitude.

Moreover, the corroborative evidence required by the Rules does not have to consist of the very same evidence as will be testified on by the proposed state witness. The rule on conspiracy is more readily proved by the acts of a fellow criminal than by any other method. Here, Abutin and Tampelix can testify on the criminal plan of the conspirators. Where a crime is contrived in secret, the discharge of one of the conspirators is essential because only they have knowledge of the crime.

Case Brief: Payumo v. Sandiganbayan

G.R. No. 151911, July 25, 2011

G.R. NO. 154535

A composite team of Philippine Constabulary and Integrated National Police units allegedly fired at a group of civilians instantly killing one civilian and wounding seven others, including Edgar Payumo. The accused pleaded not guilty to the offense charged. During the trial, the accused interposed the defenses of lawful performance of duty, self-defense, mistake of fact, and alibi. They insisted that the incident was a result of a military operation, and not an ambush as claimed by the prosecution.
The Fifth Division promulgated its judgment dated November 27, 1998, convicting the accused of the crime of Murder with Multiple Attempted Murder. The accused filed their Supplemental Omnibus Motion to Set Aside Judgment and for New Trial because there was serious irregularity during the trial due to the erroneous admission of the testimonies of the witnesses of the petitioners, such should be taken anew and to afford the accused the opportunity to present in evidence the records of the Judge Advocate General Office (JAGO) relative to the shooting as to whether it was an ambush or the result of a military operation. The omnibus motion was granted.
Ascribing grave abuse of discretion to the Sandiganbayan amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction for nullifying the order of conviction and granting new trial, Edgar Payumo and et. al, filed a petition for certiorari and mandamus with prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and/or injunction to enjoin the Sandiganbayan from proceeding with the scheduled hearings for a second new trial.

Whether or not the Sandiganbayan acted in excess of its jurisdiction when it granted a new trial in favor of the accused.

Yes. Rule 121, Section 2 of the 2000 Rules on Criminal Procedure enumerates the grounds for a new trial, to wit:

Sec. 2. Grounds for a new trial. The court shall grant a new trial on any of the following grounds:
(a) That errors of law or irregularities prejudicial to the substantial rights of the accused have been
commited during the trial;
(b) That new and material evidence has been discovered which the accused could not with reasonable diligence have discovered and produced at the trial and which if introduced and admitted would probably change the judgment.

It must be emphasized that an erroneous admission or rejection of evidence by the trial court is not a ground for a new trial or reversal of the decision if there are other independent evidence to sustain the decision, or if the rejected evidence, if it had been admitted; would not have changed the decision.
The records of the JAGO relative to shooting incident do not meet the criteria for newly discovered evidence that would merit a new trial. A motion for new trial based on newly-discovered evidence may be granted only if the following requisites are met:
1. that the evidence was discovered after trial;
2. that said evidence could not have been discovered and produced at the trial even with the exercise of
reasonable diligence;
3. that it is material, not merely cumulative, corroborative or impeaching; and
4. that the evidence is of such weight that, if admitted, would probably change the judgment.
It is essential that the offering party exercised reasonable diligence in seeking to locate the evidence before or during trial but nonetheless failed to secure it. In this case, however, such records could have been easily obtained by the accused and could have been presented during the trial with the exercise of reasonable diligence.