Case Brief: People vs Morales

GR No. 172873 March 19, 2010
People of the Philippines, Appellee
vs
Roldan Morales y Midarasa, Appellant

Facts:
Morales was charged in two separate Informations before the RTC for possession and sale of shabu. The testimonies of the police officers were presented by the prosecution. They held a buy-bust operation in which Morales was caught having two sachets of shabu and the marked money. Morales, in his statement, said that the two male persons in civilian clothing, who identified themselves as the police, handcuffed and frisked him. Nothing was found on their way to the station. The police officer produced a sachet of shabu from his pocket and at the station, presented it as evidence against Morales. The trial court found Morales guilty.

Issue:
Whether or not Morales is guilty of possession and sale of illegal drugs.

Held:
No.  Morales claims that his guilt was not proven beyond reasonable doubt. The arresting officers did not place the proper markings on the alleged shabu and paraphernalia.

To be guilty of sale of illegal drugs, there should be proof that the transaction took place and the illegal drug is presented in court as evidence. To be guilty of possession of illegal drugs, it should be established that the person possesses an illegal drug and is freely aware of it.

The person to whom the police officers gave the drugs for delivery of seized items was not present in the court, nor did these police officers testify that they properly marked the drugs after the arrest of Morales. They also did not take photographs and had no representative from the media and the Department of Justice or public official to sign an inventory of the seized items.  Prosecution failed to establish the chain of custody which is fatal to its cause.

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Case Brief: People vs. Olivo

G.R. No. 177768               July 27, 2009

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee,

vs.

CHARMEN OLIVO y ALONG, NELSON DANDA y SAMBUTO, and JOEY ZAFRA y REYES, Appellants.

FACTS:

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.

ISSUE: 

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.

HELD: 

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: Salvanera vs. People

G.R. No. 143093   May 21, 2007
RIMBERTO T. SALVANERA, Petitioner,
vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and LUCITA PARANE, Respondents.

FACTS:

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.

ISSUE:

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.

HELD:

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.

Remedial Law: Evidence – Classroom Notes and Reviewer

frompexel

Scope:

Rules of Court on Evidence – Rules 128-134
A.M. 01-7-01-SC: Rules on Electronic Evidence
Chain of Custody Rule under RA 9165 Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2012.
A.M. 06-11-05 SC: Rule on DNA Evidence
A.M. 01-7-01-SC: Rules on Electronic Evidence
A.M. 004-07-SC: Rules on Examination of Child Witness; Also Sexual Abuse Shield Rule
A.M. 12-8-8-SC: Judicial Affidavit Rule
RA 6981 Witness Protection Security & Benefit Act
RA 7438 Act Defining Certain Rights of Persons Arrested, Detained, or Under Custodial Investigation

Sources:

Ampuan Evidence Reviewer
Atty. Henedino Brondial’s Remedial Law Syllabus for the cases
Atty. Willard Riano’s Evidence for notes and the sequencing of topics

Click to Download the PDF File:

Remedial Law – Evidence Reviewer v1.0

Case Brief: Agullo vs. Sandiganbayan

G.R. No. 132926       July 20, 2001

ELVIRA AGULLO, petitioner,
vs.
SANDIGANBAYAN and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

 

FACTS:

On September 30,1988 Elvira was Charge of malversation germinated from an audit conducted on 14 July 1986 by Ignacio Gerez, Auditing Examiner III, as a result of which a P26,404.26 cash shortage was discovered on petitioner’s accountability. In the course of the pre-trial, petitioner Agullo conceded the fact of audit and admitted the findings in the Report of Cash Examination and the facts set forth in the Letter of Demand. In effect, she admitted the fact of shortage in the amount stated in the Information. Notwithstanding, petitioner  Agullo, at all stages of the criminal indictment, persistently professed her innocence of the charge and categorically denied having malversed or converted the public funds in question for her own personal use or benefit. With petitioner’s admission of the fact of cash shortage, the prosecution then rested its case For its part, the defense, in its bid to overturn the presumption of malversation and shatter the prima facie evidenceof conversion, offered the testimony of the following witnesses: petitioner Elvira Agullo; Rene Briones Austero, Cashier III of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Region VIII; and Engracia Camposano-Camaoy, Barangay Captain of Hinabuyan, Dagame, Leyte. Striking down the defense as “incredible and without basis,” the Sandiganbayan rendered its assailed decision, convicting petitioner  Agullo of the crime of malversation of public funds, ratiocinating principally that “no evidence has been presented linking the loss of the government funds with the alleged sudden heart attack of the accused (herein petitioner).”

 

ISSUE:

Whether or not the Sandiganbayan disregarded or overlooked certain evidence of substance for the crime of malversation.

 

HELD:

The Supreme Court ruled that the Sandiganbayan undoubtedly disregarded or overlooked certain evidence of substance which, to a large extent, bear considerable weight in the adjudication of petitioner’s guilt or the affirmation of her constitutional right to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Upon thorough scrutiny of the evidence adduced by both prosecution and defense, we hold that petitioner Agullo has satisfactorily overcome and rebutted by competent proof, the prima facie evidence of conversion so as to exonerate her from the charge of malversation. To this end, petitioner presented evidence that satisfactorily prove that not a single centavo of the missing funds was used for her own personal benefit or gain. Notably, the Sandiganbayan, in convicting petitioner, obviously relied more on the flaws and deficiencies in the evidence presented by the defense, not on the strength and merit of the prosecution’s evidence This course of action is impermissible for the evidence of the prosecution clearly cannot sustain a conviction “in an unprejudiced mind. “The constitutional presumption of innocence is not an empty platitude meant only to embellish the Bill of Rights. Its purpose is to balance the scales in what would otherwise be an uneven contest between the lone individual pitted against the People of the Philippines and all the resources at their command. Its inexorable mandate is that, for all the authority and influence of the prosecution, the accused must be acquitted and set free if his guilt cannot be proved beyond the whisper of doubt.”

Case Brief: Cañal vs. People

G.R. No. 163181     October 19, 2005

BONIFACIO L. CAÑAL, SR., Petitioner,
vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

FACTS:

Emelinda, Daylinda’s witness, declared that while she was outside the courthouse she saw Bonifacio and clearly overheard him say in Filipino: “Why should you be afraid of Daylinda’s witnesses, they are all  nincompoops. Daylinda is a thief!  She has been long eking out a living as a thief.” A number of persons outside the courthouse also heard the utterances of Bonifacio.

The MCTC found the accused guilty of the crime grave oral defamation.

On appeal, the RTC rendered judgment affirming the decision of the MCTC.

The case was elevated to the CA via petition for review, and the appellate court affirmed in toto the RTC’s decision. Hence, this petition to the SC.

 

ISSUE:

Whether or not the CA gravely erred in sustaining his conviction of the crime of grave oral defamation.

 

HELD:

The petition is denied for lack of merit. However, the Court finds that the penalty imposed on the petitioner is erroneous.  The penalty imposed by Article 358 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, for grave oral defamation is arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period which has a duration of from four (4) months and one (1) day to two (2) years and four (4) months.

It must be remembered that every defamatory imputation is presumed to be malicious, even if it be true, if no good intention and justifiable motive for making it is shown.  And malice may be inferred from the style and tone of publication subject to certain exceptions which are not present. Indeed, calling Daylinda a thief is defamation against her character and reputation sufficient to cause her embarrassment and social humiliation. Daylinda testified to the feelings of shame and humiliation she suffered as a result of the incident complained of.

WHEREFORE, the Decision of the CA is AFFIRMED WITH the MODIFICATION on his SENTENCE terms.

Case Brief: Dela Cruz vs. People

G.R. No. 150439,     July 29, 2005
AMELITA DELA CRUZ, petitioner,
vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.

Facts:
An information was filed against petitioner Dela Cruz for defrauding the Great Mandarin Villa Seafoods Village Inc and Hock Wan Restaurant Corporation. The corporations alleged that Dela Cruz was working as a payroll clerk of said corporation. She received from the said corporation a total sum of P471,166.11 representing the excess amount paid to the employees of said corporations as salaries, and failed to turn over the said excess; that, after possessing such amount, she went into hiding, and refused to return the same. It was the duty of the accused to compute the payroll based on the time card, request the treasurer for the issuance and encashment of the corresponding checks, placed the money on the pay slip and afterwards distribute the same to the employees.
Petitioner, on the other hand, pleaded not guilty of the crime charged. She contested that the amount she has always received was the exact amount for the salary of the employees every 15th and 30th of the month, which she computed beforehand and submitted to the treasurer thereafter. The treasurer has always given the exact amount to her, but she does not know the amount actually withdrawn by the former. She also alleged that there was no excess money in the first place, and that there were no complaints of short payments or reports of overpayment; and that the reason why she failed to report to work afterwards was because her brother-in-law died and she became ill.
The lower courts held that, applying the provisions of Article 315, paragraph 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, particularly, that with the trust given to her, she really defrauded her employer by over-computing the payroll and converting or misappropriating the excess (amount) to her own personal use to the prejudice and damage of the private complainants; that she alone was entrusted with the money for the payroll and had complete access to it; that she had to erase the data in the computer to destroy the evidence against her; that she conveniently disappeared from the scene at the time of the discovery of the anomaly, and; she maintained a lifestyle beyond her financial means.
Petitioner claimed that the lower courts erred in their decisions on the grounds that the evidence presented is not sufficient to convict her beyond reasonable doubt.

Issue:
Whether or not petitioner Dela Cruz committed the crime of estafa.

Held:
No, petitioner Dela Cruz did not commit the crime.
Accused-petitioner was charged with the crime of estafa through misappropriation or conversion as defined in and penalized under Article 315, paragraph 1(b), of the Revised Penal Code. The elements of the said crime are: 1) that money, goods or other personal property is received by the offender in trust, or on commission or for administration, or under any other obligation involving the duty to make delivery of, or to return, the same; 2) that there be misappropriation or conversion of such money or property by the offender or denial on his part of such receipt; 3) that such misappropriation or conversion or denial is to the prejudice of another; and 4) that there is a demand made by the offended party on the offender.
The lower courts relied heavily on circumstantial evidence to convict the accused-petitioner. Under the Rules of Court, the requirements for circumstantial facts to be able to withstand the tribulation of a conviction of guilt beyond reasonable doubt, are: (1) there is more than one circumstance; (2) the facts from which the inferences are derived are proven; and (3) the combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt.
After thoroughly reviewing the records of this case and weighing the testimonial evidence on the scale of creditworthiness and materiality, however, SC found that circumstantial evidence present in the case at bar are grossly insufficient to sustain a conviction. Petitioner had no hand in the actual issuance of the checks, and, more importantly, with the withdrawal of the money from the bank. Her only participation revolved around the computation of the payroll and the actual distribution of the salaries to the employees of the restaurants. While it was the accused-petitioner who computed the payroll of the employees, nevertheless, she was not the only person who had access to the money; that she was not the only computer-literate in their office as her general manager usually verifies the diskettes containing the payroll information; that if indeed she was culpable, she should have left long rather than reporting back to work for two more payroll periods after the alleged fraud,
In totality, only the checks and acknowledged payroll slips were presented to show the culpability of the accused-petitioner, and, sadly, said documentary evidence were the only basis for the theory that there was an over-computation of the payrolls.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision of the Court of Appeals is RECONSIDERED and SET ASIDE. The questioned decision is hereby REVERSED. Accused-petitioner Amelita dela Cruz is ACQUITTED of the crime of estafa defined under Article 315, paragraph 1(b), of the Revised Penal Code on the ground of reasonable doubt.