Category: LATEST SUPREME COURT CASES


CASE 2011-0169: EDWIN TABAO Y PEREZ VS. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES (G.R. NO. 187246, 20 JULY 2011, BRION, J.) SUBJECT: RECKLESS IMPRUDENCE RESULTING TO HOMICIDE. (BRIEF TITLE: TABAO VS PEOPLE)

 

===============================

SECOND DIVISION

 

EDWIN TABAO y PEREZ,

Petitioner,

 

 

 

 

          – versus –

 

 

 

 

 

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,

Respondent.

 

G.R. No. 187246

 

Present:

 

CARPIO, J.,

   Chairperson,

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,*

BRION,

PERALTA,** and

PEREZ, JJ.

 

Promulgated:

 

   July 20, 2011

 

 x————————————————————————————x

 

 

RESOLUTION

 

BRION, J.:

                            

 

 

 

 

Edwin Tabao (petitioner) seeks reconsideration of our Resolution, dated June 8, 2009, denying his petition for review on certiorari for failure to show any reversible error in the assailed Court of Appeals (CA) decision to warrant the exercise of this Court’s discretionary appellate jurisdiction, and for raising substantially factual issues.

 

 

The evidence for the prosecution reveals the following facts:

 

At around 10:00 p.m. of January 21, 1993, the petitioner was driving his Toyota Corolla car bearing plate number PCH-111 along Governor Forbes corner G. Tuazon Streettowards Nagtahan when it suddenly ramped on an island divider, bumping Rochelle Lanete who was crossing the street. As a result of the impact, Rochelle was thrown into the middle of the road on her back.[1][1] Thereafter, Leonardo Mendez’ speeding blue Toyota Corona car with plate number PES-764 ran over Rochelle’s body. Bystanders — armed with stones and wooden clubs — followed Mendez’ car until it stopped near the Nagtahan Flyover.[2][2] Francisco Cielo, a newspaper delivery boy, pleaded with the bystanders not to hurt Mendez. Cielo went inside Mendez’ car, sat beside him, got his driver’s license, and ordered him to move the car backwards. Mendez followed his order, but his car hit the center island twice while backing up.[3][3] Cielo went out of the car and approached the sprawled body of Rochelle; he and the petitioner brought Rochelle’s body inside Mendez’ car. The three of them (the petitioner, Cielo and Mendez) brought Rochelle to the UST Hospital,[4][4] where she died on February 6, 1993 due to septicemia secondary to traumatic injuries.[5][5]

 

The defense presented a different version of the incident.

 

The petitioner narrated that at around 10:00 p.m. of January 21, 1993, he was driving along Governor Forbes corner G. Tuazon Streetwhen his car ramped on an island at the foot of the Nagtahan Flyover. He tried to move the car backwards, but failed to do so. He alighted from his car and then saw that its two rear wheels had been elevated.[6][6] He returned inside his car to turn off its engine; he then noticed that many people were approaching his car.[7][7] He again alighted from his vehicle and saw a person lying on the road.[8][8] He looked at his left side and saw a car that was “running fast like a wind” pass by. He approached the person lying on the road, and noticed that she was still breathing and moaning. Afterwards, he saw Mendez’ car backing up; he carried the victim towards that car.[9][9] Thereafter, he, Mendez and Cielo brought the victim to the UST Hospital.[10][10]

 

Mendez, for his part, testified that at around 9:00 to 9:30 p.m. of January 21, 1993, he left his girlfriend’s house in Blumentritt, Sta. Cruz, Manila. As he was driving along Governor Forbes corner G. Tuazon Streeton his way home, he saw a vehicle that had ramped on an island divider. Suddenly, another vehicle overtook his car from the right and cut his lane. He slowed down his car when he saw a rug-like object fall from the car that overtook him,[11][11] and stopped when he realized that what had fallen was a person’s body. When he moved his car backwards to help this person, many people approached his car. He alighted from his car and inquired from them what had happened. The people replied that someone was run over; some of them pointed to him as the culprit. He denied having run over the victim when they tried to hurt him. The petitioner carried the victim and placed her inside Mendez’ car. Thereafter, the two of them brought the victim to the UST Hospital.[12][12]

 

The Office of the City Prosecutor found probable cause and thereafter charged the petitioner and Mendez with reckless imprudence resulting to homicide before the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 39, Manila.[13][13] The RTC, in its decision[14][14] dated September 15, 2003, found that it was “very clear that both accused are responsible for the death of Rochelle Lanete,”[15][15] and convicted the two (2) accused of the crime charged. It found that the petitioner’s car first hit the victim, causing her to be thrown into the road on her back, and that Mendez’ car ran over her as she was lying down. It held that the two failed to observe the necessary precaution and due care in operating their respective vehicles, to wit: the petitioner was not attentive to his driving such that he failed to see the island divider and bumped Rochelle; Mendez was driving his car too fast at nighttime such that he was unable to avoid running over her as her body lay prone on the street. The RTC sentenced them to suffer the indeterminate penalty of four months and one day of arresto mayor, as minimum, to two years, 10 months and 20 days of prision correccional, as maximum. It also ordered them to pay the heirs of the victim the following amounts: (a) P478,434.12 as actual damages; (b) P50,000.00 as civil indemnity; and (c) P50,000.00 as moral damages.[16][16]

 

The petitioner filed an appeal before the CA, docketed as CA-G.R. CR. No. 28401. The CA, in its decision[17][17] dated July 27, 2007, agreed with the factual findings of the RTC, and affirmed its decision with the modification that the petitioner be sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of four months and one day of arresto mayor, as minimum, to four years, nine months and 10 days of prision correccional, as maximum.

 

          The petitioner moved to reconsider this decision, but the CA denied his motion in its resolution[18][18] of March 17, 2009.

 

The petitioner filed before this Court a petition for review on certiorari alleging that the courts a quo erred in convicting him of the crime charged. As earlier stated, we denied this petition for failure to show any reversible error in the assailed CA decision to warrant the exercise of our discretionary appellate jurisdiction, and for raising substantially factual issues.

 

          The petitioner now comes to us via the present motion for reconsideration, raising the following arguments:

 

  1. THE FINDINGS OF FACTS OF BOTH THE COURT OF APPEALS AND THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT ARE HIGHLY SPECULATIVE, MANIFESTLY MISTAKEN AND UNSUPPORTED BY THE EVIDENCE [ON RECORD;]

 

  1. [THE] COURT OF APPEALS [ERRED IN UPHOLDING HIS] CONVICTION [ON THE BASIS OF THE] INCREDIBLE AND UNRELIABLE TESTIMONY OF x x x VICTOR SORIANO[; and]

 

  1. THE [SUPREME] COURT DISREGARDED [HIS CONSTITUTIONAL] PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE.[19][19]

 

 

In its Comment, the People of the Philippines, through the Office of the Solicitor General, prays that the motion be denied for being pro forma; the petitioner merely advanced the same arguments which he raised in his appellant’s brief and motion for reconsideration before the CA. 

 

After due consideration, we resolve to DENY the motion.

 

As a general rule, findings of fact of the trial court, especially when affirmed by the CA, are binding and conclusive upon this Court; we will not normally disturb these factual findings unless they are palpably unsupported by the evidence on record or unless the judgment itself is based on a misapprehension of facts.[20][20] After a careful review of the records, we see no reason to overturn the lower courts’ factual findings that found the petitioner guilty of the crime charged.

 

          Reckless imprudence, generally defined by our penal law, consists in voluntarily, but without malice, doing or failing to do an act from which material damage results by reason of inexcusable lack of precaution on the part of the person performing or failing to perform such act, taking into consideration his employment or occupation, degree of intelligence, physical condition and other circumstances regarding persons, time and place. Imprudence connotes a deficiency of action. It implies a failure in precaution or a failure to take the necessary precaution once the danger or peril becomes foreseen.[21][21] Thus, in order for conviction to be decreed for reckless imprudence, the material damage suffered by the victim, the failure in precaution on the part of the accused, and the direct link between material damage and failure in precaution must be established beyond reasonable doubt. We are morally convinced that all three were established in this case in accordance with the required level of evidence in criminal cases.

 

The petitioner was positively identified by an eyewitness

 

 

          The fact of Rochelle Lanete’s death was stipulated during pre-trial, as well as duly established during trial.[22][22] What remain to be proven beyond reasonable doubt are the inexcusable lack in precaution on the part of the petitioner and the direct link of his negligence to the victim’s death.

 

An eyewitness account established that the petitioner’s vehicle actually hit Rochelle Lanete. Eyewitness identification is vital evidence, and, in most cases, decisive of the success or failure of the prosecution.[23][23] One of the prosecution witnesses, Victor Soriano, unfortunately for the petitioner’s cause, saw the incident in its entirety; Victor thus provided direct evidence as eyewitness to the very act of the commission of the crime.[24][24] In his September 1, 1994 testimony, Victor positively identified the petitioner as the person who drove the car that ramped on an island divider along Governor Forbes cornerG. Tuazon Street, and hit Rochelle. To directly quote from the records:

 

 

ATTY. ALICIA SERRANO:

 

Q:        Mr. Soriano, do you remember where were you on or about 10:00 o’clock (sic) of January 21, 1993?

 

VICTOR SORIANO:

 

A:         Yes, ma’am.

 

Q:        Where were you?

A:         I was at the corner of Governor Forbes and G. Tuazon.

 

Q:        What were you doing at the corner of Governor Forbes and G. Tuazon at that time?

A:         My sidecar was parked there because I was waiting for my wife, ma’am.

 

Q:        And when you were there at the corner of G. Tuazon and Governor Forbes at the said time and place, was there any unusual incident that happened?

A:         Yes, sir.

 

Q:        And what was that unusual incident?

A:         I saw an accident involving a speeding car which ramped over the island and bumped a woman who was crossing the street.

 

Q:        When you saw that the car ramped over the island and hit and bumped a woman, what happened to the woman that was hit and bumped by the car which you said ramped over the island?

A:         The woman was thrown at the middle of the road on her back, ma’am.

 

Q:        When you saw this woman after being hit and bumped by the car that ramped over the island and was thrown at the middle of the road, what else happened?

 

            x x x x

 

A:         The woman was no longer moving at that time when I saw another car coming.

 

            x x x x

 

Q:        What else happened when you saw the car coming very fast?

A:         The woman sprawled at the middle of the road was ran over by the speeding car and that car stopped while going up to the flyover.

 

            x x x x

 

Q:        You said you saw a car that ramped over the island and that the car that ramped over the island was the car that hit and bumped the victim that was thrown at the middle of the street. Now, will you be able to identify before this court the driver of that car that ramped over the island and hit and bumped the victim?

A:         Yes, ma’am.

 

Q:        If that driver of the car that hit and bumped the victim is inside the courtroom, would you be able to point to him before this Honorable Court?

A:         Yes, ma’am, he is here.

 

Q:        Will you kindly point before this courtroom who is that driver of the car that hit and bumped the victim? Although, Your Honor, there was already a stipulation at the start of the pre-trial admitting that the accused Tabao is the driver of the car which ramped at the divider.

 

INTERPRETER:

 

            Witness approaching a man seated inside the courtroom and who stood up and identified as Edwin Tabao, the accused in this case.[25][25] [emphases ours]

 

 

          On cross-examination, Victor further elaborated on what he saw of the incident:

 

ATTY. ESTEBAN NANCHO:

 

Q:        Mr. Soriano, you said that the first car ramped over the island and bumped a woman, and as a result of that, the woman was thrown at the middle ofForbes Street. Do you confirm that?

 

VICTOR SORIANO:

 

A:         Yes, sir, that is true.

 

Q:        And can you tell us how the woman was hit, was bumped by the car that ramped over the island?

A:         The woman was crossing the street and when she saw the on-coming car, she tried to avoid that but the car [which] ramped over the island bumped the woman.

 

 

Q:        In other words, the car first ramped over the island before it hit the woman?

A:         Yes, sir.

 

Q:        What part of the car bumped the woman?

A:         The bumper of the car, the left side of the bumper.

 

Q:        What part of the body of the victim was hit by the car?

A:         Her left side of the body.

 

Q:        Are you saying that the victim was facing the car when the car bumped her.

A:         Yes, sir, she was facing the car.  She was about to avoid that car.

 

Q:        How was the woman thrown at the middle ofForbes Street?

A:         She was thrown backwards.

 

Q:        And what part of the body of the victim first hit the pavement?

A:         The back of her head.

 

            x x x x

 

Q:        And you said after the woman was thrown at the middle of the street[,] another speeding car ran over the body of the woman?

A:         Yes, sir.

 

            x x x x

 

Q:        Now, from the time the body of the victim was thrown at the middle of the street, how much time had lapsed when the second car ran over the body of the victim?

A:         Not more than one minute. When I saw the car, it was a little bit far then I saw the car running very fast. It did not take more than a minute.

 

            x x x x

 

Q:        Now, did you point at any person gathered at the scene of the accident that it were (sic) the 2 accused who were responsible for the accident?

A:         I told Cielo about that and I told him that whoever brought the victim to the hospital is the one who ran over the victim.[26][26]

 

 

          The petitioner nonetheless claims that Victor is not a credible witness due to inconsistencies between his affidavit and court testimony. He harps on the fact that Victor declared in his affidavit that the petitioner’s car first hit Rochelle before it ramped on an island divider; while he testified in court that the petitioner’s vehicle ramped on the island divider before hitting the victim.

 

We find these arguments unmeritorious.

 

Discrepancies and/or inconsistencies between a witness’ affidavit and testimony in open court do not impair credibility as affidavits are taken ex parte and are often incomplete or inaccurate for lack or absence of searching inquiries by the investigating officer.[27][27] At any rate, Victor was able to sufficiently explain the discrepancies between his affidavit and court statements. Victor reasoned out that the secretary who typed his affidavit made a mistake; and explained that he signed the affidavit despite the inaccuracies in paragraph 2 because the secretary told him, “kasi ho magugulo ang naimakinilya na.”[28][28] Accordingly, when Victor informed his lawyer during the first day of the hearing about the inaccuracy, the latter told him to state the truth regardless of what was written in his affidavit.

 

The general rule – that contradictions and discrepancies between the testimony of a witness and his statements in an affidavit do not necessarily discredit him – is not without exception, as when the omission in the affidavit refers to a very important detail of the incident that one relating the incident as an eyewitness would not be expected to fail to mention, or when the narration in the sworn statement substantially contradicts the testimony in court.[29][29]  In the present case, we see no substantial contradiction in Victor’s affidavit and in his court statements as he declared in both that he saw the petitioner’s car ramp on the island divider and bump Rochelle. As to whether the car ramped on the center island before or after it bumped the victim does not detract from the fundamental fact that Victor saw and identified the petitioner as the driver of the car that ramped on the island divider and hit Rochelle. As earlier discussed, Victor sufficiently explained this inconsistency during the trial.

 

Victor, who stood only seven meters from the incident, clearly and in a straightforward manner described how the petitioner’s car had bumped the victim. We thus see no reason to overturn the lower courts’ finding regarding Victor’s credibility, more so since the petitioner did not impute any ill motive that could have induced Victor to testify falsely.  The  fundamental and settled rule is that the trial court’s assessment regarding the credibility of witnesses is entitled to the highest degree of respect and will not be disturbed on appeal, especially when the assessment is affirmed by the CA.

 

The positive identification in this case, coupled with the failure of the defense to impute any ill-motive on the eyewitness, to our mind, works to dispel reasonable doubt on the fact that the petitioner’s car had in fact hit Rochelle. The eyewitness account provides the necessary link between the petitioner’s failure to exercise precaution in operating his vehicle and Rochelle Lanete’s death.

 

The petitioner failed to exercise precaution in operating his vehicle

 

 

          The right of a person using public streets and highways for travel in relation to other motorists is mutual, coordinate and reciprocal.[30][30] He is bound to anticipate the presence of other persons whose rights on the street or highway are equal to his own.[31][31] Although he is not an insurer against injury to persons or property, it is nevertheless his duty to operate his motor vehicle with due and reasonable care and caution under the circumstances for the safety of others as well as for his own.[32][32]

 

The petitioner repeatedly admitted that as he drove his vehicle on his way home from work on January 21, 1993, he did not notice the island divider at the foot of the Nagtahan Flyover. As a result, his car ramped on the island so that both its rear wheels became “elevated” from the road and he could no longer maneuver the vehicle.[33][33] The petitioner even testified that his car had to be towed.[34][34]  Later, during cross-examination, he admitted that all four wheels of his car, not just the two rear wheels mentioned in his earlier testimony, lost contact with the ground.[35][35]  The entire vehicle, therefore, ended up on top of the island divider.  He puts the blame for the ramping and, essentially, his failure to notice the island on the darkness of nighttime and the alleged newness of the island.[36][36]

 

          To our mind, the fact that the petitioner’s entire vehicle ended up ramped on the island divider strongly indicates what actually happened in the unfortunate incident.   The vehicle could not have ended up in that condition had the petitioner been driving at a reasonable speed. We are not persuaded by the petitioner’s rather simplistic account that mere darkness, coupled with the traffic island’s alleged newness, caused his car to veer off the traffic trajectory ofGovernor Forbes Street and to end up jumping on top of the traffic island intended to channel vehicular traffic going to the Nagtahan Flyover.

 

          A motorist is expected to exercise ordinary care and drive at a reasonable rate of speed commensurate with all the conditions encountered,[37][37] to enable him to keep the vehicle under control and, whenever necessary, to put the vehicle to a full stop to avoid injury to others using the highway.[38][38] It has not escaped our notice that the intersection of Governor Forbes Street and G. Tuazon Street is adjacent to the vicinity of the incident.  A driver approaching an intersection is generally under duty, among others, to keep and maintain his vehicle under control so he can, if needed, stop at the shortest possible notice.[39][39] Ordinary or reasonable care in the operation of a motor vehicle at an intersection would naturally require more precaution than is necessary when driving elsewhere in a street or highway.[40][40]

 

          The fact that the petitioner was driving near the Governor Forbes Street and G. Tuazon Street intersection gives rise to the expectation that he would drive at a speed that anticipated — or would have anticipated — that other persons are on the road, whether as pedestrians or as motorists. The facts show, however, that the petitioner was driving his car at an inappropriate speed for a vehicle crossing an intersection. Otherwise, he should have been able to put his vehicle to a complete stop or, at the very least, at a speed that would have prevented his car from climbing entirely on top of the island divider.  That the petitioner’s entire vehicle landed on top of the traffic island — body, chassis, four wheels and all — sufficiently indicates his speed at that time. The force that propels an entire car off the street and on top of a traffic island could only have been inordinate speed, or at least speed beyond that of a motorist coming from or going to an intersection.  In short, the ramping of his vehicle demonstrably indicates to us that the petitioner failed to observe the duty to maintain a reasonable speed.  We therefore believe Victor’s testimony that the petitioner was speeding when he bumped the victim.[41][41]

 

          We are likewise not persuaded by the petitioner’s claim that darkness and the traffic island’s alleged newness justify his failure to notice the island.  The petitioner’s admission that he did not notice the traffic island is in itself an indication of his failure to observe the vigilance demanded by the circumstances. Ultimately, it shows the criminal recklessness for which he has been convicted. The record shows that pedestrians were present in the vicinity at the time of the incident. The CA even pointed out that the vicinity is near residential areas, while we pointed out its proximity to an intersection. The darkness and these circumstances should have caused the petitioner to be more alert and more vigilant, to say nothing of slowing his car down. Newly constructed or not, the island divider should have received the petitioner’s due attention. His bare allegation that the island lacked markers or reflectorized marks is likewise not persuasive. As the trial court correctly observed, many other vehicles passed the same road that night but only the petitioner failed to notice the island divider.[42][42] We thus find the trial court to be correct when it held that the petitioner failed to exercise precaution in operating his vehicle on the night of the incident.

 

The location of the victim’s injuries vis-à-vis

the position of the petitioner’s vehicle

 

 

The petitioner insists that his car could not have bumped the victim because his car was coming from the right side (i.e., from España), while the victim was hit on the left side of her body. He argues that if the victim was on her way to her house on Mabini Street coming from the corner of Governor Forbes Street and G. Tuazon Street (where she alighted), then the responsible vehicle could only have come from the left (i.e., from Nagtahan) as only those vehicles coming from this direction could hit the victim on the left side of her body. He further claims that his car had no dents or scratches.

 

          The petitioner’s arguments are misleading.

 

          Dr. Sergio Alteza, Jr., the attending physician, testified that the victim suffered multiple injuries “compatible and consistent with a vehicular accident.”[43][43] He did not state that the injuries suffered by the victim were only on her left side. In fact, a perusal of Dr. Alteza’s initial medical report shows that the victim suffered injuries both on the left and right sides of her body. In addition, Dr. Floresto Arizala, Jr., the National Bureau of Investigation medico-legal officer who conducted an autopsy on Rochelle’s body, confirmed that the victim suffered injuries on various parts of her lower right and left extremities as a result of the initial or primary impact.

 

The petitioner relies heavily on Dr. Alteza’s statement allegedly declaring that the victim’s injuries on her lower left leg and left thigh were the “primary impact” injuries. However, this statement was not based on the actual incident but on Dr. Alteza’s presumptions. For clarity, we reproduce Dr. Alteza’s testimony:

 

ATTY. SERRANO:

 

Q:        Now doctor, you said that these injuries you found x x x on the body of the victim are compatible and consistent with a vehicular accident. Would you tell this court how these injuries were sustained?

 

            x x x x

 

            Doctor, what would be the possible situation when you use compatible and consistent vehicular accident?

 

DR. ALTEZA:

 

A:         If I would be allowed to make some presumptions, if the patient was standing up at that time he was hit by a vehicle, I would presume that the primary impact injuries, injuries hit first by the vehicle are the injuries of the lower leg and the left thigh considering that the height of the injuries are approximately the height of the bumper as well as the hood of the car.

 

Q:        There are several kinds of vehicles, doctor?

A:         Yes, Your Honor, I was thinking of a car. Now, after being hit by [a] car, under normal condition, the victim is normally thrown at the surface of the street.[44][44] [emphases ours]

 

 

From this exchange, we find it clear that Dr. Alteza was merely making a hypothetical statement that a person who is presumed to be standing when hit by a vehicle would suffer primary impact injuries on his lower leg and left thigh. He never declared that Rochelle suffered primary impact injuries on her lower left extremities. At any rate, it was not improbable for the victim to have been hit on the left side of her body as Victor testified that she (victim) tried to avoid the petitioner’s car, and was in fact facing the car when she was hit.

 

We likewise do not believe the petitioner’s claim that his vehicle was not involved in the incident due to the absence of dents or scratches. As the petitioner himself admitted, his vehicle was not subjected to any investigation after the incident. Moreover, the pictures of the car, presented by the petitioner in court, were taken long after the incident and after a repair had already been done to the vehicle. There was therefore no way of verifying petitioner’s claim that his car did not have any dent or scratch after the incident. At any rate, the absence of a dent or a scratch on the petitioner’s car, assuming it to be true, does not conclusively prove his non-participation in the incident. The absence of any dent or scratch is influenced by several factors: the type of paint, the speed of the car, the points of impact, and the material used on the car’s exteriors.

 

Weight of expert testimony

The petitioner likewise claims that the CA violated Section 49, Rule 130 of the Revised Rules of Court when it disregarded the testimony of defense witness Police Senior Inspector Danilo Cornelio who testified that the petitioner’s car could not have bumped the victim because the latter’s body was not thrown in line with the car, but on its side. The petitioner argues that P/Sr. Insp. Cornelio is highly qualified in the field of traffic accident investigation, and as such, his statements are “backed-up by [the] principles of applied physics, engineering, and mathematics.”[45][45]

 

          The petitioner’s arguments fail to convince us.

 

Section 49, Rule 130 of the Revised Rules of Court states that the opinion of a witness on a matter requiring special knowledge, skill, experience or training, which he is shown to possess, may be received in evidence. The use of the word “may” signifies that the use of opinion of an expert witness is permissive and not mandatory on the part of the courts.  Allowing the testimony does not mean, too, that courts are bound by the testimony of the expert witness.  The testimony of an expert witness must be construed to have been presented not to sway the court in favor of any of the parties, but to assist the court in the determination of the issue before it, and is for the court to adopt or not to adopt depending on its appreciation of the attendant facts and the applicable law.  It has been held of expert testimonies:

 

            Although courts are not ordinarily bound by expert testimonies, they may place whatever weight they may choose upon such testimonies in accordance with the facts of the case. The relative weight and sufficiency of expert testimony is peculiarly within the province of the trial court to decide, considering the ability and character of the witness, his actions upon the witness stand, the weight and process of the reasoning by which he has supported his opinion, his possible bias in favor of the side for whom he testifies, the fact that he is a paid witness, the relative opportunities for study and observation of the matters about which he testifies, and any other matters which deserve to illuminate his statements.  The opinion of the expert may not be arbitrarily rejected; it is to be considered by the court in view of all the facts and circumstances in the case and when common knowledge utterly fails, the expert opinion may be given controlling effect.  The problem of the credibility of the expert witness and the evaluation of his testimony is left to the discretion of the trial court whose ruling thereupon is not reviewable in the absence of abuse of discretion.[46][46]

 

 

We emphasize that P/Sr. Insp. Cornelio was not an eyewitness to the incident; his testimony was merely based on the Traffic Accident Report prepared by SPO4 Edgar Reyes who himself did not witness the incident. At any rate, nowhere in P/Sr. Insp. Cornelio’s testimony did he conclusively state that the petitioner could not have been involved in the incident. For clarity, we reproduce the pertinent portions of P/Sr. Insp. Cornelio’s testimony:

 

ATTY. SERRANO:

 

Q:        When you said in line with the motor vehicle that bumped the victim, is it that when a victim is bumped by the motor vehicle, the victim would be thrown in line with the vehicle?

 

P/SR. INSP. CORNELIO:

 

A:         Yes, Ma’am. Usually, that is the outcome of the incident.

 

Q:        He cannot be thrown sideward?

A:         Maybe if another vehicle would hit the pedestrian because that also happened. When a pedestrian is hit by a vehicle and another vehicle hit the pedestrian, it will be thrown somewhere else.

 

Q:        Mr. Witness, you are testifying as far as the vehicle of Tabao is concerned. You said that the line of vehicle that bumped the victim would be in line. Are you telling us that it is not possible that when the vehicle of Tabao hit the victim, the victim would be thrown sidewards?

A:         Yes, Ma’am.

 

Q:        What do you mean, yes, Ma’am?

A:         He can be thrown either in front of the vehicle that hit the victim or slightly offset with the car of Tabao. It [may be] but not far from the side.

 

Q:        But he would be thrown sidewise[,] not frontal?

A:         Slightly to the side but not considerable length of distance away from the car. It is sidewards.

 

Q:        In your Mathematics, do you consider that if a vehicle is speeding fast, he could have thrown anything that is bumped by that vehicle far away from the vehicle?

A:         Yes, Ma’am, possible.

 

Q:        So, that probability is also possible aside from the probability that you said the victim is thrown in line or in front. So, you are now saying it could be said that the victim can be thrown sidewise?

A:         It [may be] thrown sidewise. As I said [a while] ago, it might be slightly offset with the vehicle that hit the pedestrian but not too far from the side of the bumping vehicle.

 

 

Q:        So, it could depend on the speed of the vehicle that bumped the object bumped?

A:         Yes, Ma’am.

 

Q:        Whether it is forward or sidewise, the distance of the object thrown would depend on the speed of the vehicle that bumped?

A:         Yes, Ma’am.

 

Q:        So, if it is speeding, it could be thrown farther?

A:         Yes, Ma’am.

Q:        Sidewise or frontal?

A:         It should be frontal.

 

Q:        You said it could be thrown sidewise do I take it correct[ly,] it can be thrown sidewise also?

A:         Maybe. As I have said [a while] ago, it [may be] slightly offset with the line of the vehicle.

 

            x x x x

 

Q:        So, do we take it from you that your basis only of telling the court that Tabao is not in [any way] responsible is the distance of the victim from the car that bumped?

A:         I am not saying categorically that the car of Tabao is not responsible. But as I can see in the sketch presented today in this Honorable Court, the position of the victim is too far from the vehicle of Mr. Tabao. If I were the investigator in this particular case, I should indicate the measurement of the victim from the car and this sketch [does] not indicate the distance.

Q:        Now, failure of the investigator to indicate the distance, would that show that it was not Tabao who bumped the victim?

A:         I cannot say categorically that the car of Tabao indeed, hit the victim. Because the distance is very significant in this sketch for proper evaluation.

 

            x x x x

 

Q:        So, it cannot be said that when an object is bumped by a vehicle, it will be thrown forward. It will all depend on which portion of the bumper hit by object bumped?

A:         Yes, Ma’am.[47][47]

 

 

From the foregoing, it is clear that P/Sr. Insp. Cornelio did not discount the possibility that the victim could have been thrown on the side. He likewise admitted that the location of an accident victim in relation to the vehicle would also depend on the speed of the vehicle and the point of impact.

 

The defense of denial

 

The petitioner denied that his car had bumped the victim, and insists that he just saw the victim’s body sprawled on the road after his car had already ramped on the island divider.

 

          The petitioner’s defense of denial must crumble in light of Victor’s positive and specific testimony. We reiterate that the petitioner, aside from merely alleging the inconsistency between Victor’s affidavit and court testimony, did not impute any ill motive on Victor’s part to falsely testify against him. The petitioner, in fact, admitted that he and Victor did not know each other prior to the incident. We have consistently held that positive identification of the accused, when categorical and consistent, and without any showing of ill-motive on the part of the testifying eyewitness, should prevail over the denial of the accused whose testimony is not substantiated by clear and convincing evidence.[48][48] A denial is negative evidence. To be believed, it must be buttressed by strong evidence of non-culpability; otherwise, the denial is purely self-serving and has no evidentiary value.[49][49]

 

We significantly note that the petitioner claimed for the first time  in his present petition that he saw a “rug-like thing”[50][50] being thrown out of a passing car as he was about to alight from his car after turning off its engine; he later discovered that the thing thrown was a person’s body. He reiterated this claim in his motion for reconsideration before this Court. This assertion was a clear rip-off from his co-accused Mendez’ version who likewise claimed to have seen the same thing.  To our mind, the modification of the petitioner’s story was a belated attempt to cover up his failure to convincingly explain the presence of the victim’s slumped body on the road near his car and a last-ditch effort to exculpate himself. Nowhere in his affidavit or earlier court testimonies, or even in his previous pleadings with the lower courts, did he ever state that a passing car had thrown a “rug-like thing”[51][51] on the street. The petitioner’s sudden change of story at this stage of the proceedings casts doubt on the veracity of his claim.

 

In addition, we are baffled by the petitioner’s act of frequenting the hospital after the incident. Amanda Ycong, the victim’s aunt, testified that she saw the petitioner “several times” at the hospital when the victim was confined there; but would immediately leave whenever he saw members of the victim’s family. We find it highly unusual for a person who allegedly had no participation in the incident to be overly concerned with the victim’s well-being. What puzzles us even more is why the petitioner would evade members of the victim’s family whenever he was seen by them at the hospital.

 

All told, we see no reason to overturn the lower courts’ findings of fact and conclusions of law finding the petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged.

 

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court resolves to DENY the motion with FINALITY, no substantial argument having been adduced to warrant the reconsideration sought. Costs against the petitioner.

 

SO ORDERED.

 

 

                                      ARTURO D. BRION

                                      Associate Justice

 

 

WE CONCUR:

 

 

 

ANTONIO T. CARPIO

Associate Justice

Chairperson

 

 

 

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO

Associate Justice

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA

Associate Justice

 

 

 

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ

Associate Justice

 

 

A T T E S T A T I O N

 

          I attest that the conclusions in the above Resolution had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

 

 

 

                                       ANTONIO T. CARPIO

                                      Associate Justice

                                      Chairperson, Second Division

 

 


C E R T I F I C A T I O N

 

          Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairperson’s Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Resolution had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

 

 

 

                                      RENATO C. CORONA

                                      Chief Justice

 


 


*  Designated as Acting Member of the Second Division per Special Order No. 1006 dated June 10, 2011.

** Additional member in lieu of Associate Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno per Special Order No. 1040 dated July 6, 2011.

[1][1] TSN,September 1, 1994, pp. 12-13.

[2][2] Id. at 15-16; TSN, November 8, 1993, pp. 14-15.

[3][3] TSN,November 8, 1993, pp. 4-5.

[4][4]  Id. at 6 and 18; TSN, January 24, 1994, p. 3.

[5][5]  Records, p. 6.

[6][6]  TSN,March 28, 2001, pp. 6-9.

[7][7]  Id. at 10.

[8][8]  Id. at 10 and 15; TSN, May 20, 2002, pp. 31-35; records, p. 282.

[9][9]  TSN,March 28, 2001, pp. 10-17.

[10][10] Id. at 10-11 and 18-19; TSN, May 20, 2002, pp. 39-41.

[11][11] TSN,September 16, 1996, pp. 4-6; TSN,February 11, 1997, p. 11.

[12][12] TSN,September 16, 1996, pp. 7-8.

 

[13][13] The inculpatory portion of the Information reads:

                That on or about January 21, 1993, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused LEONARDO MENDEZ Y MENDEZ, being then the driver and person in charge of a Toyota Corona Sedan with plate [sic] No. PES-764, and accused EDWIN TABAO Y PEREZ, being then the driver and person in charge of a Toyota Corolla with plate [sic] No. PHC-111, did then and there unlawfully and feloniously drive, manage and operate the same along Governor Forbes intersection of G. Tuazon Streets, Sampaloc, in said City, in a careless, reckless, negligent and imprudent manner, by then and there making the said vehicle run at a speed greater than was reasonable and proper, without taking the necessary precaution to avoid accident to person considering the condition of traffic at said place at the time, causing as a consequence of such carelessness, negligence, recklessness, imprudence and lack of precaution, the said vehicle so driven, managed and operate [sic] by them in the manner above setforth, said vehicle driven by accused EDWIN TABAO Y PEREZ hit and bumped one ROCHELLE LANETE Y MATAAC, a pedestrian, causing her to be thrown on the pavement, and thereafter was ran [sic] over by the vehicle driven by accused LEONARDO MENDEZ Y MENDEZ, and as a result of the said impact, said ROCHELLE LANETE Y MATAAC sustained physical injuries which were the cause of her death thereafter.

                Contrary to law. [Records, p. 1.]

[14][14] Penned by Judge Reynaldo G. Ros; rollo, pp. 61-92.

[15][15] Records, p. 735.

[16][16] The dispositive portion of the RTC decision reads:

                WHEREFORE, the prosecution having established the guilt of both accused, LEONARDO MENDEZ Y MENDEZ and EDWIN TABAO Y PEREZ, beyond reasonable doubt of the offense charged in the Information which is for Reckless Imprudence Resulting to Homicide, they are hereby sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of arresto mayor as minimum, to TWO (2) YEARS, TEN (10) MONTHS and TWENTY (20) DAYS of prison correctional as maximum.

                Both accused are ordered to jointly and solidarity [sic] pay the heirs of the victim Rochelle Lanete Y Mataac the amount of P478,434.12 as actual damages; P50,000.00 as civil indemnity; and P50,000.00 as moral damages, and the costs of suit.

      SO ORDERED. [Id. at 736.]          

[17][17] Penned by Associate Justice Vicente S.E. Veloso, and concurred in by Associate Justices Juan Q. Enriquez, Jr. and Marlene Gonzales-Sison; rollo, pp. 41-60.

[18][18]   Id. at 119-120.

[19][19]  Id. at 188-201.             

[20][20]  Austria v. Court of Appeals, 384 Phil. 408, 415 (2000).

[21][21]         Caminos, Jr. v. People, G.R. No. 147437, May 8, 2009, 587 SCRA 348, 357, citing The Revised Penal Code, Reyes, Luis b., 15th ed. (2001), pp. 994-995.  

[22][22]         Order dated August 5, 1993; records, p. 51. The Certificate of Death of Rochelle Lanete was presented during trial as Exhibit “P”; records, p. 216. 

[23][23]         People v. Meneses, 351 Phil. 331, 334 (1998), citing People v. Teehankee, Jr., 319 Phil. 128, 179 (1995).

[24][24]         People v. Gallarde, 382 Phil. 718, 736 (2000).

[25][25]         TSN,September 1, 1994, pp. 12-18.

[26][26]         Id. at 37-41.

[27][27]         See People v. Villadares, 406 Phil. 530, 540 (2001).

[28][28]  TSN, September 1, 1994, p. 47. 

[29][29]         See People v. Narvaez, 425 Phil. 381, 402-403 (2002); and People v. Castillo, 330 Phil. 205, 212 (1996).

[30][30]         Caminos, Jr. v. People, supra note 21, at 350, citing Richards v. Begenstos, 21 N.W.2d 23, Hodges v. Smith, 298 S.W. 1023, and Lawson v. Fordyce, 12 N.W.2d 301.  

 

[31][31]         Id., citing Magnolia Petroleum Co. v. Owen, 101 S.W.2d 354.

[32][32]         Id., citing Atlantic Greyhound Corp. v. Lyon, 107 F.2d 157, Oklahoma Natural Gas Co. v. McKee, 121 F.2d 583, Burdick v. Powell Bros. Truck Lines, 124 F.2d 694, Dixie Motor Coach Corp. v. Lane, 116 F.2d 264, Shipley v. Komer, 154 F.2d 861, and Magnolia Petroleum Co. v. Owen, 101 S.W.2d 354.

[33][33]         TSN,March 28, 2001, pp. 5-7.

[34][34]         TSN,January 22, 2002, p. 35.

[35][35]         TSN, July 18, 2002, pp. 26-27.

[36][36]         The pertinent portion from theMarch 28, 2001 TSN (pp. 6-7) reads:

     [Direct Examination of Witness Edwin Tabao. Emphasis ours.]

                x x x x

     Q. After you dropped off your friend to theUSTHospital, what unusual incident happened on this night ofJanuary 21, 1993?

     A. I was heading for home and that I did not notice an island.

     Q. This island is located at the foot of the Nagtahan flyover at the corner of Forbes and G. Tuazon?

     A. Yes, sir.

     Q. So, what happened on your way home to this particular location?

     A. My car was ramped on the island, sir.

     Q. Why did you not notice the island divider on that location, Mr. Witness?

     A. Because it was already nighttime and it was dark so I did not notice the island and “mukhang parang bago.”   

[37][37]         Caminos, Jr. v. People, supra note 21, at 361, citing Foster v. ConAgra Poultry Co., 670 So.2d 471.

[38][38] Id., citing Nunn v. Financial Indem. Co., 694 So.2d 630. Duty of reasonable care includes duty to keep the vehicle under control and to maintain proper lookout for hazards.

[39][39] Id. at 361-362, citing Reppert v. White Star Lines, 106 A.L.R. 413, and  Riccio v. Ginsberg, 62 A.L.R. 967.

[40][40] Id. at 361, citing Roberts v. Leahy, 214 P.2d 673.

[41][41] TSN, September 1, 1994, p. 13.

[42][42]         Records, p. 736.

[43][43]  TSN, July 11, 1994, p. 12.          

[44][44]         TSN, July 11, 1994, pp. 15-16.

[45][45]  Rollo, p. 204.

 

[46][46]  See People v. Basite, 459 Phil. 197, 206-207 (2003), citing People v. Baid, G.R. No. 129667, July 31, 2000, 336 SCRA 656, 675.

 

[47][47]         TSN,April 3, 2003, pp. 25-28 and 33-35.

 

[48][48]         See Tapdasan, Jr. v. People, 440 Phil. 864, 877 (2002).

[49][49]         Tan v. Pacuribot, A.M. Nos. RTJ-06-1982-1983, December 14, 2007, 540 SCRA 246, 300.

[50][50]  Rollo, p. 7.  

 

[51][51]  Ibid.

CASE 2011-0168: JOJIT GARINGARAO VS. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES (G.R. NO. 192760, 20 JULY 2011, CARPIO, J.).

================================

 

SECOND DIVISION

 

 

JOJIT GARINGARAO,                                                 G.R. No. 192760

Petitioner,

Present:

 

CARPIO, J., Chairperson,

– versus –                                                      LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,*

BRION,

PERALTA,** and

PEREZ, JJ.

 

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,              Promulgated:

Respondent.                                                           July 20, 2011

x- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – x

 

 

D E C I S I O N

 

CARPIO, J.:

 

The Case

 

Before the Court is a petition for review1 assailing the 26 November 2009 Decision2 and 22 June 2010 Resolution3 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 31354. The Court of Appeals affirmed with modifications the decision of the Regional Trial Court of San Carlos City, Pangasinan, Branch 56 (trial court), finding Jojit Garingarao (Garingarao) guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of acts of lasciviousness in relation to Republic Act No. 7610 (RA 7610).4

The Antecedent Facts

 

The facts of the case, as can be gleaned from the decision of the Court of Appeals, are as follows:

 

On 28 October 2003, AAA5 was brought to theVirgenMilagrosaMedicalCenter by her father BBB and mother CCC due to fever and abdominal pain. Dr. George Morante (Dr. Morante), the attending physician, recommended that AAA be confined at the hospital for further observation. AAA was admitted at the hospital and confined at a private room where she and her parents stayed for the night.

 

On 29 October 2003, BBB left the hospital to go to Lingayen, Pangasinan to process his daughter’s Medicare papers. He arrived at Lingayen at around 8:00 a.m. and left the place an hour later. CCC also left the hospital that same morning to attend to their store at Urbiztondo, Pangasinan, leaving AAA alone in her room.

 

When BBB returned to the hospital, AAA told him that she wanted to go home. Dr. Morante advised against it but due to AAA’s insistence, he allowed AAA to be discharged from the hospital with instructions that she should continue her medications. When AAA and her parents arrived at their house around 11:30 a.m., AAA cried and told her parents that Garingarao sexually abused her. They all went back to the hospital and reported the incident to Dr. Morante. They inquired from the nurses’ station and learned that Garingarao was the nurse on duty on that day.

 

On 20 January 2004, the City Prosecutor filed an Information against Garingarao for acts of lasciviousness in relation to RA 7610, as follows:

That on or about the 29th day of October 2003, at Virgen Milagrosa University Hospital, San Carlos City, Pangasinan, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with lewd designs, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously touched the breast of AAA, 16 years of age, touched her genitalia, and inserted his finger into her vagina, to the damage and prejudice of said AAA who suffered psychological and emotional disturbance, anxiety, sleeplessness and humiliation.

 

Contrary to Article 336 of the Revised Penal Code in relation to RA 7610.6

 

During the trial, AAA testified that on 29 October 2003, between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m., Garingarao, who was wearing a white uniform, entered her room and asked if she already took her medicines and if she was still experiencing pains. AAA replied that her stomach was no longer painful. Garingarao then lifted AAA’s bra and touched her left breast. Embarrassed, AAA asked Garingarao what he was doing. Garingarao replied that he was just examining her. Garingarao then left the room and returned 15 to 30 minutes later with a stethoscope. Garingarao told AAA that he would examine her again. Garingarao lifted AAA’s shirt, pressed the stethoscope to her stomach and touched her two nipples. Garingarao then lifted AAA’s pajama and underwear and pressed the lower part of her abdomen. Garingarao then slid his finger inside AAA’s private part. AAA instinctively crossed her legs and again asked Garingarao what he was doing. She asked him to stop and informed him she had her monthly period. Garingarao ignored AAA and continued to insert his finger inside her private part. Garingarao only stopped when he saw that AAA really had her monthly period. He went inside the bathroom of the private room, washed his hands, applied alcohol and left. When BBB arrived at the hospital, AAA insisted on going home. She only narrated the incident to her parents when they got home and they went back to the hospital to report the incident to Dr. Morante.

 

Dr. Morante testified on AAA’s confinement to and discharge from the hospital.

 

The prosecution presented the following documents before the trial court:

 

(a) AAA’s birth certificate to establish that she was 16 years old at the time of the incident;

 

(b) AAA’s medical records establishing her confinement to and discharge fromVirgenMilagrosaMedicalCenter;

 

(c) the schedule of duties of the nurses at the hospital showing that Garingarao was on duty from 12:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. on 29 October 2003;

 

(d) a certificate from the Department of Education Division Office showing that BBB was present at the office from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. on 29 October 2003;

 

(e) AAA’s Medical Payment Notice;

 

(f) the incident report filed by AAA’s parents with the police; and

 

(g) a letter from the hospital administrator requiring Garingarao to explain why no administrative action should be filed against him in view of the incident.

 

For the defense, Garingarao gave a different version of the incident. Garingarao alleged that on 29 October 2003, he and his nursing aide Edmundo Tamayo (Tamayo) went inside AAA’s room to administer her medicines and check her vital signs. BBB then accused them of not administering the medicines properly and on time. Garingarao told BBB that they should not be told how to administer the medicines because they knew what they were doing and that they would be accountable should anything happen to AAA. A heated argument ensued between BBB and Garingarao. BBB told Garingarao he was an arrogant nurse. Garingarao replied that if BBB had any complaint, he could report the matter to the hospital. Garingarao denied that he inserted his finger into AAA’s private part and that he fondled her breasts. Garingarao alleged that the filing of the case was motivated by the argument he had with BBB.

 

Tamayo testified that he was with Garingarao when they went to AAA’s room between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. of 29 October 2003. He alleged that BBB was present and he accused Garingarao of not administering the medications properly. Tamayo alleged that Garingarao and BBB had an argument. Tamayo stated that he would always accompany Garingarao whenever the latter would visit the rooms of the patients.

The Decision of the Trial Court

 

In its Decision7 dated 5 November 2007, the trial court found Garingarao guilty as charged. The trial court gave credence to the testimony of AAA over Garingarao’s denial. The trial court ruled that Garingarao was positively identified by AAA as the person who entered her room, touched her breasts and inserted his finger into her private part. The trial court also found that the prosecution was able to establish that BBB and CCC were not in the room when Garingarao went inside.

The trial court found as baseless Garingarao’s defense that the case was only motivated by the argument he had with BBB. The trial court ruled that it was illogical for BBB to convince his daughter to fabricate a story of sexual abuse just to get even at Garingarao over a heated argument.

 

The dispositive portion of the trial court’s Decision reads:

 

 

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered finding the accused Jojit Garingarao GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of acts of lasciviousness in relation to Republic Act 7610, and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of imprisonment ranging from 12 years to 1 day of Reclusion Temporal as minimum to 14 years and 8 months of Reclusion Temporal as maximum.

 

The accused is ordered to pay to the minor victim [AAA] P20,000.00 as moral damages and P10,000.00 as fine.

 

SO ORDERED.8

 

Garingarao appealed from the trial court’s Decision.

 

 

The Decision of the Court of Appeals

 

In its 26 November 2009 Decision, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision with modifications.

 

The Court of Appeals ruled that while Garingarao was charged for acts of lasciviousness in relation to RA 7610, he should be convicted under RA 7610 because AAA was 16 years old when the crime was committed. The Court of Appeals ruled that under Section 5(b) of RA 7610, the offender shall be charged with rape or lascivious conduct under the Revised Penal Code (RPC) only if the victim is below 12 years old; otherwise, the provisions of RA 7610 shall prevail.

 

The Court of Appeals ruled that based on the evidence on record and the testimony of AAA, the decision of the trial court has to be affirmed. The Court of Appeals ruled that under Section 2(h) of the Rules and Regulations on the Reporting and Investigation of Child Abuse Cases, the introduction of any object into the genitalia of the offended party as well as the intentional touching of her breasts when done with the intent to sexually gratify the offender qualify as a lascivious act. AAA’s testimony established that Garingarao committed the lascivious acts.

 

The Court of Appeals found no reason for AAA or her family to fabricate the charges against Garingarao. The Court of Appeals ruled that Garingarao’s claim that the case was filed so that BBB could get even with him because of the argument they had was too shallow to be given consideration. The Court of Appeals likewise rejected Garingarao’s defense of denial which could not prevail over the positive testimony of AAA.

 

The Court of Appeals modified the penalty imposed by the trial court. The Court of Appeals ruled that the duration of reclusion temporal in its maximum period should be 17 years, 4 months and 1 day to 20 years and not 14 years and 8 months as imposed by the trial court. The Court of Appeals also raised the award of moral damages and fine, which was deemed as civil indemnity, to conform with recent jurisprudence.

 

The dispositive portion of the Court of Appeals’ Decision reads:

 

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Decision dated November 5, 2007 of theRegionalTrialCourtofSan CarlosCity, Pangasinan in Criminal Case No. SCC-4167 is hereby AFFIRMED with the following MODIFICATIONS:

 

1.      The penalty imposed on the accused-appellant is 14 years and 8 months of reclusion temporal as minimum to 20 years of reclusion temporal as maximum[;]

2.      The award of moral damages is raised from P20,000.00 to P50,000.00; and

3.      The award of indemnity is raised from P10,000.00 to P50,000.00.

 

SO ORDERED.9

 

 

Garingarao filed a motion for reconsideration. In its 22 June 2010 Resolution, the Court of Appeals denied the motion.

 

Hence, the petition before this Court.

 

The Issue

 

The only issue in this case is whether the Court of Appeals committed a reversible error in affirming with modifications the trial court’s decision.

 

The Ruling of this Court

 

The petition has no merit.

 

Garingarao alleges that the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the trial court’s decision finding him guilty of acts of lasciviousness in relation to RA 7610. Garingarao insists that it was physically impossible for him to commit the acts charged against him because there were many patients and hospital employees around. He alleges that AAA’s room was well lighted and that he had an assistant when the incident allegedly occurred. Garingarao further alleges that, assuming the charges were correct, there was only one incident when he allegedly touched AAA and as such, he should have been convicted only of acts of lasciviousness and not of violation of RA 7610.

 

We do not agree.

 

 

 

 

Credibility of Witnesses

 

The Court has ruled that in case of acts of lasciviousness, the lone testimony of the offended party, if credible, is sufficient to establish the guilt of the accused.10 In this case, both the trial court and the Court of Appeals found the testimony of AAA credible over Garingarao’s defense of denial and alibi. It is a settled rule that denial is a weak defense as against the positive identification by the victim.11 Both denial and alibi are inherently weak defenses and constitute self-serving negative evidence which cannot be accorded greater evidentiary weight than the positive declaration by a credible witness.12 Garingarao’s defense of denial and alibi must fail over the positive and straightforward testimony of AAA on the incident. Further, like the trial court and the Court of Appeals, we find incredible Garingarao’s defense that the case was an offshoot of a heated argument he had with AAA’s father over the manner Garingarao was giving AAA’s medications. It is hard to believe that AAA’s parents would expose her to a public trial if the charges were not true.13 In addition, the prosecution was able to establish that, contrary to Garingarao’s allegation, both BBB and CCC were not in AAA’s room at the time of the incident.

 

Violation of RA 7610

 

Section 5, Article III of RA 7610 provides:

 

Section 5. Child Prostitution and Other Sexual Abuse. – Children, whether male or female, who for money, profit, or any other consideration or due to the coercion or influence of any adult, syndicate or group, indulge in sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct, are deemed to be children exploited in prostitution and other sexual abuse.

 

 

 

The penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium period to reclusion perpetua shall be imposed upon the following:

 

(a) x x x

 

(b) Those who commit the act of sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct with a child exploited in prostitution or subject to other sexual abuse; Provided, That when the victim is under twelve (12) years of age, the perpetrators shall be prosecuted under Article 335, paragraph 3 for rape and Article 336 of Act No. 3815, as amended, the Revised Penal Code, for rape or lascivious conduct, as the case may be; Provided, That the penalty for lascivious conduct when the victim is under twelve (12) yeas of age shall be reclusion temporal in its medium period, x x x

 

(c) x x x

 

The elements of sexual abuse under Section 5, Article III of RA 7610 are the following:

 

1.      The accused commits the act of sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct;

2.      The said act is performed with a child exploited in prostitution or subjected to other sexual abuse; and

3.      The child, whether male or female, is below 18 years of age.14

 

Under Section 32, Article XIII of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 7610, lascivious conduct is defined as follows:

 

[T]he intentional touching, either directly or through clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks, or the introduction of any object into the genitalia, anus or mouth, of any person, whether of the same or opposite sex, with the intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person, bestiality, masturbation, lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of a person.15

 

In this case, the prosecution established that Garingarao touched AAA’s breasts and inserted his finger into her private part for his sexual gratification. Garingarao used his influence as a nurse by pretending that his actions were part of the physical examination he was doing. Garingarao persisted on what he was doing despite AAA’s objections. AAA twice asked Garingarao what he was doing and he answered that he was just examining her.

 

The Court has ruled that a child is deemed subject to other sexual abuse when the child is the victim of lascivious conduct under the coercion or influence of any adult.16 In lascivious conduct under the coercion or influence of any adult, there must be some form of compulsion equivalent to intimidation which subdues the free exercise of the offended party’s free will.17 In this case, Garingarao coerced AAA into submitting to his lascivious acts by pretending that he was examining her.

 

Garingarao insists that, assuming that the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses were true, he should not be convicted of violation of RA 7610 because the incident happened only once. Garingarao alleges that the single incident would not suffice to hold him liable under RA 7610.

 

Garingarao’s argument has no legal basis.

 

The Court has already ruled that it is inconsequential that sexual abuse under RA 7610 occurred only once.18 Section 3(b) of RA 7610 provides that the abuse may be habitual or not.19 Hence, the fact that the offense occurred only once is enough to hold Garingarao liable for acts of lasciviousness under RA 7610.

 

 

Indemnity and Moral Damages

 

In view of recent jurisprudence, we deem it proper to reduce the amount of indemnity to P20,00020 and moral damages awarded by the Court of Appeals to P15,000.21 We also impose on Garingarao a fine of P15,000.22

 

WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. We AFFIRM the 26 November 2009 Decision and 22 June 2010 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 31354 with MODIFICATIONS. The Court finds Jojit Garingarao GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of acts of lasciviousness in relation to Republic Act No. 7610. He is sentenced to suffer the penalty of 14 years and 8 months of reclusion temporal as minimum to 20 years of reclusion temporal as maximum and ordered to pay AAA P20,000 as civil indemnity, P15,000 as moral damages and a fine of P15,000.

 

SO ORDERED.

 

 

 

 

ANTONIO T. CARPIO

Associate Justice

 

WE CONCUR:

 

 

 

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO

Associate Justice

 

 

ARTURO D. BRION DIOSDADO M. PERALTA

Associate Justice Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ

Associate Justice

 

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

 

 

 

ANTONIO T. CARPIO

Associate Justice

Chairperson

 

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairperson’s Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

 

 

 

RENATO C. CORONA

Chief Justice

 

 

 

 

 

 

* Designated acting member per Special Order No. 1006 dated 10 June 2011.

** Designated acting member per Special Order No. 1040 dated 6 July 2011.

1 Under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.

2 Rollo, pp. 42-62. Penned by Associate Justice Mariflor P. Punzalan Castillo with Associate Justices Mario L. Guariña III and Jane Aurora C. Lantion, concurring.

3Id. at 63-64.

4 An Act Providing for Stronger Deterrence and Special Protection Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination, Providing Penalties for its Violation, and for Other Purposes.

5 The real names of the victim and her family were not disclosed pursuant to the ruling of this Court in People v. Cabalquinto, G.R. No. 167693, 19 September 2006, 502 SCRA 419.

6 Rollo, p. 43.

7Id. at 68-76. Penned by Presiding Judge Hermogenes C. Fernandez.

8Id. at 75-76.

9Id. at 61.

10 People v. Mendoza, G.R. No. 180501, 24 December 2008, 575 SCRA 616.

11 People v. Fetalino, G.R. No. 174472, 19 June 2007, 525 SCRA 170.

12 People v. Candaza, G.R. No. 170474, 16 June 2006, 491 SCRA 280.

13 People v. Ortoa, G.R. No. 174484, 23 February 2009, 580 SCRA 80.

14 Olivarez v. Court of Appeals, 503 Phil. 421 (2005).

15Id. at 431-432. Emphasis in the original text.

16 Olivarez v. Court of Appeals, supra note 14.

17 People v. Abello, G.R. No. 151952, 25 March 2009, 582 SCRA 378.

18 Olivarez v. Court of Appeals, supra note 14.

19Id.

20 Flordeliz v. People, G.R. No. 186441, 3 March 2010, 614 SCRA 225.

21 Id.; People v. Montinola, G.R. No. 178061, 31 January 2008, 543 SCRA 412.

22Id.

 

CASE 2011-0167: RE:    GROSS VIOLATION OF CIVIL SERVICE LAW ON THE PROHIBITION AGAINST DUAL EMPLOYMENT AND DOUBLE COMPENSATION IN THE GOVERNMENT SERVICE COMMITTED BY MR. EDUARDO V. ESCALA, SC CHIEF JUDICIAL STAFF OFFICER, SECURITY DIVISION, OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES (A.M. NO. 2011-04-SC, 05 JULY 2011, PER CURIAM)

=================================

 

EN BANC

 

 

Re:    Gross Violation of Civil Service Law on the Prohibition Against Dual Employment and Double Compensation in the Government Service Committed by Mr. Eduardo V. Escala, SC Chief Judicial Staff Officer, Security Division, Office of Administrative Services. A.M. No. 2011-04-SC
 
 
Present:
 
CORONA, C.J., Chairperson,
CARPIO,
VELASCO, JR.,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BRION,
PERALTA,*
BERSAMIN,
DELCASTILLO,
ABAD,
VILLARAMA, JR.,
PEREZ,
MENDOZA, and
SERENO, JJ.
 
 

Promulgated:

 

 July 5, 2011

 

x – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – x                                      

 

R E S O L U T I O N

 

PER CURIAM:

 

Before us is an administrative case which arose from the investigation conducted by the Office of Administrative Services (OAS) in connection with a complaint against Mr. Eduardo V. Escala, SC Chief Judicial Staff Officer, Security Division, OAS for alleged gross violation of the Civil Service Law on the prohibition against dual employment and double compensation in the government service.

 

 

 

I. Antecedents

 

          Respondent was appointed by the Court as SC Chief Judicial Staff Officer, Security Division, OAS on July 14, 2008. His application papers show he has experience and training as a police officer, having been employed as Chief Inspector of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Aviation Security Group at the time of his appointment in the Supreme Court.

 

          Immediately upon his appointment on July 14, 2008, respondent was allowed to assume office and perform his duties, for reasons of exigency in the service although he has yet to comply with the submission of all the documentary requirements for his appointment.

 

         During the course of his employment, an anonymous letter[1][1] reached the OAS reporting the respondent’s gross violation of the Civil Service Law on the prohibition against dual employment and double compensation in the government service.  The letter alleged that respondent accepted employment, and thus received salaries and other benefits, from the Court and also from the PNP of which he remained an active member.

 

         The OAS’ inquiries on this allegation confirmed that prior to his employment at the Court, respondent was an active member of the PNP assigned with the Aviation Security Group – 2nd Police Center for Aviation Security at the Manila Domestic Airport in Pasay City, with a permanent status and rank of Police Chief Inspector. Taking the chance to explore his opportunities and skills outside of the police service, he applied for the position of SC Chief Judicial Staff Officer, Security Division, OAS. While employed in the Court and receiving his regular compensation, he continued to be a bonafide member of the PNP assigned with the Aviation Security Group with the same status and rank of Police Chief Inspector until the date when he optionally retired on September 30, 2009.

 

         The OAS was also informed that the Internal Affairs Office (IAO) of the PNP is likewise carrying out a separate probe and investigation on respondent for the same alleged gross violation of the Civil Service Law.

 

         Considering the seriousness of the matter, respondent was preventively suspended by the Court pending the results of the IAO’s investigations and the separate administrative investigation of the OAS.[2][2]

  

         In the OAS Memorandum dated May 6, 2011,[3][3] respondent was directed to explain why he should not be administratively charged with gross dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service for violation of the Civil Service Law on the prohibition against dual employment and double compensation in the government service. 

 

         In his letter-comment dated May 26, 2011,[4][4] respondent submitted to the findings of the OAS but “humbly implore your magnanimity not to charge him with gross dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service[5][5] and offered the following explanation:

 

               2.1 On January 24, 2008, I applied for optional retirement as a member of the Philippine National Police (PNP). At that time, I was informed that my application would be effective on March 31, 2008, or a period of three (3) months from its submission date.

            2.2. However, I was advised that, as part of the new policy on optional retirement, the effectivity of my application would be six (6) months from date of its submission, or on July 14, 2008.

            2.3 Pending the approval of my application for optional retirement, I applied with the Honorable Supreme Court for the position of Chief Security Officer. In the course of my interview, I declared that the Philippine National Police (PNP) had yet to formally approve my application for optional retirement.

            2.4 Due to the urgent need to fill-in the said vacant position I was hired by the Honorable Supreme Court as its employee which took effect on July 14, 2008. From then on, and as shall be further discussed hereunder, I have faithfully discharged my duties and responsibilities in order to ensure the safety and security of the Honorable Supreme Court, as an institution; the Honorable Justices; and the court personnel.

            2.5 In good faith, and without concealing any material fact from the Honorable Supreme Court, I submitted all the required documents and clearances in support of my appointment. At that time, I had no reason to doubt that my optional retirement would be deemed effective on July 14, 2008-which date actually coincided with the effectivity of my employment with the Honorable Supreme Court.

            2.6 But, then, as fate had it, my application for optional retirement was not immediately acted upon by the Philippine National Police (PNP) within the original period of my request. As it is, such application was bypassed several times, and I was considered optionally retired on September 30, 2009.

            2.7 During the period of almost fourteen (14) months, my employment with the Honorable Supreme Court overlapped with that of the Philippine National Police (PNP). In the interim, I likewise received my corresponding monthly salaries from the Philippine National Police (PNP). Not for anything else, I did so for economic reasons.

            2.8 Without proffering any justification for may actions, which I now realize to be totally uncalled for, I was then of the honest impression that I was still entitled to such monthly salaries pending the approval of my application for optional retirement which dragged for a longer period of time with no fault on my part.”[6][6]
         Offering no justification and admitting his fault, and cognizant of the consequences of his wrong judgment, respondent extends his apologies to the Court and to the PNP. He also informed the OAS that he made arrangements with the PNP for the return, as in fact he had already returned, the total amount of P 560,982.86 representing his salaries and allowances which he received from the PNP covering the period July 2008 to September 2009.[7][7] He allegedly made such restitution to shield the PNP from undue prejudice and to erase the stigma which the incident has caused upon his person and honor.

         Finally, advancing his track record of good performance both in the PNP and the Court, respondent seeks compassion and prays that the consequences be tempered.       

 

II. Recommendation

 

 

         In its report to the Court dated June 27, 2011, the OAS presented its findings that by respondent’s own admission, without offering any justification, his acts have prejudiced the government. His offer of mitigating circumstance – delay in the processing of his retirement papers – is unacceptable as records of the PNP will contradict this. The Service Record issued by the PNP in his favor for retirement purposes was dated August 26, 2008.[8][8] Likewise, his Certificates of Clearances, namely: (a) no pending administrative case was dated August 13, 2008[9][9]; (b) no money accountability was dated October 29, 2008[10][10] and; (c) property accountability/responsibility was dated October 31, 2008[11][11]. These documents clearly show that he only started processing the requirements for his application for optional retirement when he was already connected with the Court.

 

The OAS found  respondent’s claim that he applied for optional retirement as early as January 2008 to be merely an afterthought. The OAS further noted that the vacancy for the position of SC Chief Judicial Staff Officer of the Security Division existed only after April 30, 2008. Such circumstances lead the OAS to conclude that respondent first made clear to be appointed to the Court prior to filing his application for retirement to be sure that he transfers to another government agency, at the same time enjoying the fruits of his retirement from the PNP. It should be noted that governing law on retirement of members of the PNP is different from those with the Court. If the law is the same, respondent’s employment with the Court is simply one of “transfer”. However, his application to and subsequent appointment to the Court is one of reemployment as evidenced by his sworn Certificate of Gratuity[12][12] which he submitted to the OAS and where he clearly indicated that the inclusive dates of employment with the PNP was from March 29, 1999 to July 13, 2008, and that the cause of his separation was optional retirement.

 

The OAS thus found respondent’s indirect claim of good faith unavailing. His regular receipt of his salaries from the PNP despite presumably exclusively working with the Court implies a deliberate intent to give unwarranted benefit to himself and undue prejudice to the government especially so by his regular submission of monthly/daily time record as a mandatory requirement for inclusion in the payroll.

 

The OAS also found that respondent became aware of the approval of his application for retirement as early as September 30, 2009. Notwithstanding such knowledge, he did not immediately refund his overpayment, if that was indeed the case, and that his act of returning his salaries after the period of  20 months was also a mere afterthought as he did so only because the Court became aware of it and directed him to explain. Would he have done so if no report of his actuation was ever brought to the attention of the Court? The lapse of almost 2 years without him doing so speaks of his intent not to return the same.    

 

 Good faith, here understood, is an intangible and abstract quality with no technical meaning or statutory definition, and it encompasses, among other things, an honest belief, the absence of malice and the absence of design to defraud or to seek an unconscionable advantage. An individual’s personal good faith is a concept of his own mind and, therefore, may not conclusively be determined by his protestations alone. It implies honesty of intention, and freedom from knowledge of circumstances which ought to put the holder upon inquiry. The essence of good faith lies in an honest belief in the validity of one’s right, ignorance of a superior claim, and absence of intention to overreach another.[13][13]

 

The OAS found respondent’s actuation even amounts to gross dishonesty. His receipt of salaries from the PNP despite not rendering any service thereto is a form of deceit. Jurisprudence states that dishonesty implies a “disposition to lie, cheat, deceive, or defraud; untrustworthiness; lack of integrity; lack of honesty, probity or integrity in principle; lack of fairness and straightforwardness; disposition to defraud, deceive or betray.”[14][14]

 

         That respondent actually rendered services to the PNP, if any, despite employment in the Court, is inconsequential. The prohibition against government officials and employees, whether elected or appointed, from concurrently holding any other office or position in the government is contained in Section 7, Article IX-B of the 1987 Constitution which provides:

 

x x x

Unless otherwise allowed by law or by the primary functions of his position, no appointive official shall hold any other office or employment in the Government, or any subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporations or their subsidiaries.

         The prohibition on dual employment and double compensation in the government service is further specified under Sections 1 and 2, Rule XVIII of the Omnibus Rules Implementing Book V of E.O. No. 292, viz:

 

Sec. 1.      No appointive official shall hold any other office or employment in the Government or any subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporations with original charters or their subsidiaries, unless otherwise allowed by law or by the primary functions of his position.

Sec. 2.  No elective or appointive public officer or employee shall receive additional, double, or indirect compensation, unless specifically authorized by law, xxxxx.

 

Moreover, Section 5, Canon III of the Code of Conduct for Court Personnel, specifically provides that:

 

Sec. 5 The full-time position in the Judiciary of every court personnel shall be the personnel’s primary employment. For purposes of this Code, “primary employment” means the position that consumes the entire normal working hours of the court personnel and requires the personnel’s exclusive attention in performing official duties.

            Outside employment may be allowed by the head of office provided it complies with all of the following requirements:

(a)               The outside employment is not with a person or entity that practices law before the courts or conducts business with the Judiciary;

 

(b)               The outside employment can be performed outside of normal working hours and is not incompatible with the performance of the court personnel’s duties and responsibilities;

 

(c)                The outside employment does not require the practice of law; Provided, however, that court personnel may render services as professor, lecturer, or resource person in law schools, review or continuing education centers or similar institutions;

 

(d)               The outside employment does not require or induce the court personnel to disclose confidential information acquired while performing duties; and

 

(e)                The outside employment shall not be with the legislative or executive branch of government, unless specifically authorized by the Supreme Court.

 

Where a conflict of interest exists, may reasonably appear to exist, or where the outside employment reflects adversely on the integrity of the Judiciary, the court personnel shall not accept the outside employment.

         With the undisputed facts of the case, the OAS considers that there is sufficient evidence to support a finding that respondent is liable for gross dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service. His non-disclosure of the material fact that he was still employed as an active member of the PNP and receiving his monthly salaries therein during the period that he is already a Court employee is considered substantial proof that he tried to cheat/defraud both the PNP and the Court. This is an affront to the dignity of the Court. Indeed, respondent has transgressed the Constitution and the Civil Service law on the prohibition on dual employment and double compensation in the government service.

         Thus, after its due investigation, the OAS submitted its report to the Court finding respondent guilty of the charges and recommending:

 

a. that Mr. Eduardo V. Escala, SC Chief Judicial Staff Officer, Security Division, Office of Administrative Services, be held liable for gross dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service for not disclosing the fact that despite accepting employment with and receiving salaries from the Supreme Court, he is still receiving his salaries and benefits from the Philippine National Police as an active member thereof; and

 

b. that he be dismissed from the service with forfeiture of all benefits, except accrued leave credits, if he has any, and with prohibition from reemployment in any branch, agency or instrumentality of the government including government-owned or controlled corporations. [15][15]

 

We fully agree with the findings of the OAS and adopt its recommendations.

All court personnel ought to live up to the strictest standards of honesty and integrity, considering that their positions primarily involve service to the public. For knowingly and willfully transgressing the prohibition on dual employment and double compensation, as well as the Court’s rules for its personnel on conflict of interest, respondent violated the trust and confidence reposed on him by the Court. Considering the sensitive and confidential nature of his position, the Court is left with no choice but to declare the respondent guilty of gross dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, which are grave offenses punished by dismissal.

WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondent Eduardo V. Escala, SC Chief Judicial Staff Officer, Security Division, OAS GUILTY of gross dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, and imposes on him the penalty of DISMISSAL from the service and forfeiture of all benefits with prejudice to re-employment in any government agency, including government-owned and controlled corporations. 

 

 

SO ORDERED.

 

  RENATO C. CORONA

  Chief Justice

 

 

 

 ANTONIO T. CARPIO                    Associate Justice

 

 

        PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.

                       Associate Justice

 

             TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO

          Associate Justice

                    ARTURO D. BRION

                        Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

 
                                     (On leave)

         DIOSDADO M. PERALTA

                               Associate Justice

 

          

                  MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO

                              Associate Justice

 

 

          

               LUCAS P. BERSAMIN

                     Associate Justice

 

 

 

                 ROBERTO A. ABAD

                     Associate Justice

     MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.                            JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ                              

        Associate Justice                                                     Associate Justice

 

 

      JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA                         MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO

       Associate Justice                                                     Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

 


 


*               On leave.

[1][1]           Anonymous Letter dated March 4, 2009, OAS Report dated June 27, 2011, Annex “A.”

[2][2]          Id., Annex “B.”  In the meantime, Mr. Joery L. Gayanan, SC Supervising Judicial Staff Officer, Security Division, OAS, was designated as Officer-in-Charge of the said division during the period that respondent is under preventive suspension.

[3][3]          Id., Annex “C.”

[4][4]          Id., Annex “D.”

[5][5]          Id.

[6][6]          Id.

[7][7]          Id., Annex “E.”

[8][8]          Id., Annex “F.”

[9][9]          Id., Annex “G.”

[10][10]        Id., Annex “H.”

[11][11]        Id., Annex “I.”

[12][12]                        Id., Annex “J.”

[13][13]                         PNB v. De Jesus, 458 Phil. 454, 459-460 (2003).

[14][14]                         Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) vs. Rilloraza, 359 SCRA 525, citing Black’s Law Dictionary, Sixth ed., p. 468, 1990.

[15][15]                         Supra, note 1, pg. 7.

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