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563 Phil. 934


[ G.R. No. 170180, November 23, 2007 ]




The sacred right against an arrest, search or seizure without valid warrant is not only ancient. It is also zealously safeguarded. The Constitution guarantees the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures.[1] Any evidence obtained in violation of said right shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding. Indeed, while the power to search and seize may at times be necessary to the public welfare, still it must be exercised and the law implemented without contravening the constitutional rights of the citizens, for the enforcement of no statute is of sufficient importance to justify indifference to the basic principles of government.[2]

On appeal is the Decision[3] of the Court of Appeals dated 28 July 2005, affirming the Judgment[4] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 31, Agoo, La Union dated 31 March 2004 finding petitioner Arsenio Vergara Valdez guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Section 11 of Republic Act No. 9165 (R.A. No. 9165)[5] and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of imprisonment ranging from eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor medium as minimum to fifteen (15) years of reclusion temporal medium as maximum and ordering him to pay a fine of P350,000.00.[6]


On 26 June 2003, petitioner was charged with violation of Section 11, par. 2(2) of R.A. No. 9165 in an Information[7] which reads:
That on or about the 17th day of March 2003, in the Municipality of Aringay, Province of La Union, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in his possession, control and custody dried marijuana leaves wrapped in a cellophane and newspaper page, weighing more or less twenty-five (25) grams, without first securing the necessary permit, license or prescription from the proper government agency.

On arraignment, petitioner pleaded not guilty. Thereafter, trial on the merits ensued with the prosecution presenting the three (3) barangay tanods of San Benito Norte, Aringay, La Union namely, Rogelio Bautista (Bautista), Nestor Aratas (Aratas) and Eduardo Ordoño (Ordoño), who arrested petitioner.

Bautista testified that at around 8:00 to 8:30 p.m. of 17 March 2003, he was conducting the routine patrol along the National Highway in Barangay San Benito Norte, Aringay, La Union together with Aratas and Ordoño when they noticed petitioner, lugging a bag, alight from a mini-bus. The tanods observed that petitioner, who appeared suspicious to them, seemed to be looking for something. They thus approached him but the latter purportedly attempted to run away. They chased him, put him under arrest and thereafter brought him to the house of Barangay Captain Orencio Mercado (Mercado) where he, as averred by Bautista, was ordered by Mercado to open his bag. Petitioner’s bag allegedly contained a pair of denim pants, eighteen pieces of eggplant and dried marijuana leaves wrapped in newspaper and cellophane. It was then that petitioner was taken to the police station for further investigation.[9]

Aratas and Ordoño corroborated Bautista’s testimony on most material points. On cross-examination, however, Aratas admitted that he himself brought out the contents of petitioner’s bag before petitioner was taken to the house of Mercado.[10] Nonetheless, he claimed that at Mercado’s house, it was petitioner himself who brought out the contents of his bag upon orders from Mercado. For his part, Ordoño testified that it was he who was ordered by Mercado to open petitioner’s bag and that it was then that they saw the purported contents thereof.[11]

The prosecution likewise presented Police Inspector Valeriano Laya II (Laya), the forensic chemist who conducted the examination of the marijuana allegedly confiscated from petitioner. Laya maintained that the specimen submitted to him for analysis, a sachet of the substance weighing 23.10 grams and contained in a plastic bag, tested positive of marijuana. He disclosed on cross-examination, however, that he had knowledge neither of how the marijuana was taken from petitioner nor of how the said substance reached the police officers. Moreover, he could not identify whose marking was on the inside of the cellophane wrapping the marijuana leaves.[12]

The charges were denied by petitioner. As the defense’s sole witness, he testified that at around 8:30 p.m. on 17 March 2003, he arrived in Aringay from his place in Curro-oy, Santol, La Union. After alighting from the bus, petitioner claimed that he went to the house of a friend to drink water and then proceeded to walk to his brother’s house. As he was walking, prosecution witness Ordoño, a cousin of his brother’s wife, allegedly approached him and asked where he was going. Petitioner replied that he was going to his brother’s house. Ordoño then purportedly requested to see the contents of his bag and appellant acceded. It was at this point that Bautista and Aratas joined them. After inspecting all the contents of his bag, petitioner testified that he was restrained by the tanod and taken to the house of Mercado. It was Aratas who carried the bag until they reached their destination.[13]

Petitioner maintained that at Mercado’s house, his bag was opened by the tanod and Mercado himself. They took out an item wrapped in newspaper, which later turned out to be marijuana leaves. Petitioner denied ownership thereof. He claimed to have been threatened with imprisonment by his arrestors if he did not give the prohibited drugs to someone from the east in order for them to apprehend such person. As petitioner declined, he was brought to the police station and charged with the instant offense. Although petitioner divulged that it was he who opened and took out the contents of his bag at his friend’s house, he averred that it was one of the tanod who did so at Mercado’s house and that it was only there that they saw the marijuana for the first time.[14]

Finding that the prosecution had proven petitioner’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt, the RTC rendered judgment against him and sentenced him to suffer indeterminate imprisonment ranging from eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor medium as minimum to fifteen (15) years of reclusion temporal medium as maximum and ordered him to pay a fine of P350,000.00.[15]

Aggrieved, petitioner appealed the decision of the RTC to the Court of Appeals. On 28 July 2005, the appellate court affirmed the challenged decision. The Court of Appeals, finding no cogent reason to overturn the presumption of regularity in favor of the barangay tanod in the absence of evidence of ill-motive on their part, agreed with the trial court that there was probable cause to arrest petitioner. It observed further:
That the prosecution failed to establish the chain of custody of the seized marijuana is of no moment. Such circumstance finds prominence only when the existence of the seized prohibited drugs is denied. In this case, accused-appellant himself testified that the marijuana wrapped in a newspaper was taken from his bag. The corpus delicti of the crime, i.e.[,] the existence of the marijuana and his possession thereof, was amply proven by accused-appellant Valdez’s own testimony.[16]
In this appeal, petitioner prays for his acquittal and asserts that his guilt of the crime charged had not been proven beyond reasonable doubt. He argues, albeit for the first time on appeal, that the warrantless arrest effected against him by the barangay tanod was unlawful and that the warrantless search of his bag that followed was likewise contrary to law. Consequently, he maintains, the marijuana leaves purportedly seized from him are inadmissible in evidence for being the fruit of a poisonous tree.

Well-settled is the rule that the findings of the trial court on the credibility of witnesses and their testimonies are accorded great respect and weight, in the absence of any clear showing that some facts and circumstances of weight or substance which could have affected the result of the case have been overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied.[17]

After meticulous examination of the records and evidence on hand, however, the Court finds and so holds that a reversal of the decision a quo under review is in order.


At the outset, we observe that nowhere in the records can we find any objection by petitioner to the irregularity of his arrest before his arraignment. Considering this and his active participation in the trial of the case, jurisprudence dictates that petitioner is deemed to have submitted to the jurisdiction of the trial court, thereby curing any defect in his arrest. The legality of an arrest affects only the jurisdiction of the court over his person.[18] Petitioner’s warrantless arrest therefore cannot, in itself, be the basis of his acquittal.

However, to determine the admissibility of the seized drugs in evidence, it is indispensable to ascertain whether or not the search which yielded the alleged contraband was lawful. The search, conducted as it was without a warrant, is justified only if it were incidental to a lawful arrest.[19] Evaluating the evidence on record in its totality, as earlier intimated, the reasonable conclusion is that the arrest of petitioner without a warrant is not lawful as well.

Petitioner maintains, in a nutshell, that after he was approached by the tanod and asked to show the contents of his bag, he was simply herded without explanation and taken to the house of the barangay captain. On their way there, it was Aratas who carried his bag. He denies ownership over the contraband allegedly found in his bag and asserts that he saw it for the first time at the barangay captain’s house.

Even casting aside petitioner’s version and basing the resolution of this case on the general thrust of the prosecution evidence, the unlawfulness of petitioner’s arrest stands out just the same.

Section 5, Rule 113 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure provides the only occasions on which a person may be arrested without a warrant, to wit:

Section 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful.—A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person:

(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense;
When an offense has just been committed and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it; and
When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal establishment or place where he is serving final judgment or temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to another.
x x x

It is obvious that based on the testimonies of the arresting barangay tanod, not one of these circumstances was obtaining at the time petitioner was arrested. By their own admission, petitioner was not committing an offense at the time he alighted from the bus, nor did he appear to be then committing an offense.[20] The tanod did not have probable cause either to justify petitioner’s warrantless arrest.

For the exception in Section 5(a), Rule 113 to operate, this Court has ruled that two (2) elements must be present: (1) the person to be arrested must execute an overt act indicating that he has just committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit a crime; and (2) such overt act is done in the presence or within the view of the arresting officer.[21] Here, petitioner’s act of looking around after getting off the bus was but natural as he was finding his way to his destination. That he purportedly attempted to run away as the tanod approached him is irrelevant and cannot by itself be construed as adequate to charge the tanod with personal knowledge that petitioner had just engaged in, was actually engaging in or was attempting to engage in criminal activity. More importantly, petitioner testified that he did not run away but in fact spoke with the barangay tanod when they approached him.

Even taking the prosecution’s version generally as the truth, in line with our assumption from the start, the conclusion will not be any different. It is not unreasonable to expect that petitioner, walking the street at night, after being closely observed and then later tailed by three unknown persons, would attempt to flee at their approach. Flight per se is not synonymous with guilt and must not always be attributed to one’s consciousness of guilt.[22] Of persuasion was the Michigan Supreme Court when it ruled in People v. Shabaz[23] that “[f]light alone is not a reliable indicator of guilt without other circumstances because flight alone is inherently ambiguous.” Alone, and under the circumstances of this case, petitioner’s flight lends itself just as easily to an innocent explanation as it does to a nefarious one.

Moreover, as we pointed out in People v. Tudtud,[24] “[t]he phrase ‘in his presence’ therein, connot[es] penal knowledge on the part of the arresting officer. The right of the accused to be secure against any unreasonable searches on and seizure of his own body and any deprivation of his liberty being a most basic and fundamental one, the statute or rule that allows exception to the requirement of a warrant of arrest is strictly construed. Its application cannot be extended beyond the cases specifically provided by law.”[25]

Indeed, the supposed acts of petitioner, even assuming that they appeared dubious, cannot be viewed as sufficient to incite suspicion of criminal activity enough to validate his warrantless arrest.[26] If at all, the search most permissible for the tanod to conduct under the prevailing backdrop of the case was a stop-and-frisk to allay any suspicion they have been harboring based on petitioner’s behavior. However, a stop-and-frisk situation, following Terry v. Ohio,[27] must precede a warrantless arrest, be limited to the person’s outer clothing, and should be grounded upon a genuine reason, in light of the police officer’s experience and surrounding conditions, to warrant the belief that the person detained has weapons concealed about him.[28]

Accordingly, petitioner’s waiver of his right to question his arrest notwithstanding, the marijuana leaves allegedly taken during the search cannot be admitted in evidence against him as they were seized during a warrantless search which was not lawful.[29] As we pronounced in People v. Bacla-an
A waiver of an illegal warrantless arrest does not also mean a waiver of the inadmissibility of evidence seized during an illegal warrantless arrest. The following searches and seizures are deemed permissible by jurisprudence: (1) search of moving vehicles (2) seizure in plain view (3) customs searches (4) waiver or consent searches (5) stop and frisk situations (Terry Search) and (6) search incidental to a lawful arrest. The last includes a valid warrantless search and seizure pursuant to an equally valid warrantless arrest, for, while as a rule, an arrest is considered legitimate if effected with a valid warrant of arrest, the Rules of Court recognize permissible warrantless arrests, to wit: (1) arrests in flagrante delicto, (2) arrests effected in hot pursuit, and, (3) arrests of escaped prisoners.[30]
When petitioner was arrested without a warrant, he was neither caught in flagrante delicto committing a crime nor was the arrest effected in hot pursuit. Verily, it cannot therefore be reasonably argued that the warrantless search conducted on petitioner was incidental to a lawful arrest.

In its Comment, the Office of the Solicitor General posits that apart from the warrantless search being incidental to his lawful arrest, petitioner had consented to the search. We are not convinced. As we explained in Caballes v. Court of Appeals[31]
Doubtless, the constitutional immunity against unreasonable searches and seizures is a personal right which may be waived. The consent must be voluntary in order to validate an otherwise illegal detention and search, i.e., the consent is unequivocal, specific, and intelligently given, uncontaminated by any duress or coercion. Hence, consent to a search is not to be lightly inferred, but must be shown by clear and convincing evidence. The question whether a consent to a search was in fact voluntary is a question of fact to be determined from the totality of all the circumstances. Relevant to this determination are the following characteristics of the person giving consent and the environment in which consent is given: (1) the age of the defendant; (2) whether he was in a public or secluded location; (3) whether he objected to the search or passively looked on; (4) the education and intelligence of the defendant; (5) the presence of coercive police procedures; (6) the defendant's belief that no incriminating evidence will be found; (7) the nature of the police questioning; (8) the environment in which the questioning took place; and (9) the possibly vulnerable subjective state of the person consenting. It is the State which has the burden of proving, by clear and positive testimony, that the necessary consent was obtained and that it was freely and voluntarily given.[32]
In the case at bar, following the theory of the prosecution— albeit based on conflicting testimonies on when petitioner’s bag was actually opened, it is apparent that petitioner was already under the coercive control of the public officials who had custody of him when the search of his bag was demanded. Moreover, the prosecution failed to prove any specific statement as to how the consent was asked and how it was given, nor the specific words spoken by petitioner indicating his alleged "consent." Even granting that petitioner admitted to opening his bag when Ordoño asked to see its contents, his implied acquiescence, if at all, could not have been more than mere passive conformity given under coercive or intimidating circumstances and hence, is considered no consent at all within the contemplation of the constitutional guarantee.[33] As a result, petitioner’s lack of objection to the search and seizure is not tantamount to a waiver of his constitutional right or a voluntary submission to the warrantless search and seizure.[34]


Notably, the inadmissibility in evidence of the seized marijuana leaves for being the fruit of an unlawful search is not the lone cause that militates against the case of the prosecution. We likewise find that it has failed to convincingly establish the identity of the marijuana leaves purportedly taken from petitioner’s bag.

In all prosecutions for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act, the following elements must concur: (1) proof that the transaction took place; and (2) presentation in court of the corpus delicti or the illicit drug as evidence.[35] The existence of dangerous drugs is a condition sine qua non for conviction for the illegal sale of dangerous drugs, it being the very corpus delicti of the crime.[36]

In a line of cases, we have ruled as fatal to the prosecution’s case its failure to prove that the specimen submitted for laboratory examination was the same one allegedly seized from the accused.[37] There can be no crime of illegal possession of a prohibited drug when nagging doubts persist on whether the item confiscated was the same specimen examined and established to be the prohibited drug.[38] As we discussed in People v. Orteza[39], where we deemed the prosecution to have failed in establishing all the elements necessary for conviction of appellant for illegal sale of shabu
First, there appears nothing in the record showing that police officers complied with the proper procedure in the custody of seized drugs as specified in People v. Lim, i.e., any apprehending team having initial control of said drugs and/or paraphernalia should, immediately after seizure or confiscation, have the same physically inventoried and photographed in the presence of the accused, if there be any, and or his representative, who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory and be given a copy thereof. The failure of the agents to comply with the requirement raises doubt whether what was submitted for laboratory examination and presented in court was actually recovered from appellant. It negates the presumption that official duties have been regularly performed by the police officers.

In People v. Laxa, where the buy-bust team failed to mark the confiscated marijuana immediately after the apprehension of the accused, the Court held that the deviation from the standard procedure in anti-narcotics operations produced doubts as to the origins of the marijuana. Consequently, the Court concluded that the prosecution failed to establish the identity of the corpus delicti.

The Court made a similar ruling in People v. Kimura, where the Narcom operatives failed to place markings on the seized marijuana at the time the accused was arrested and to observe the procedure and take custody of the drug.

More recently, in Zarraga v. People, the Court held that the material inconsistencies with regard to when and where the markings on the shabu were made and the lack of inventory on the seized drugs created reasonable doubt as to the identity of the corpus delicti. The Court thus acquitted the accused due to the prosecution’s failure to indubitably show the identity of the shabu.
In the case at bar, after the arrest of petitioner by the barangay tanod, the records only show that he was taken to the house of the barangay captain and thereafter to the police station. The Joint Affidavit[40] executed by the tanod merely states that they confiscated the marijuana leaves which they brought to the police station together with petitioner. Likewise, the Receipt[41] issued by the Aringay Police Station merely acknowledged receipt of the suspected drugs supposedly confiscated from petitioner.

Not only did the three tanod contradict each other on the matter of when petitioner’s bag was opened, they also gave conflicting testimony on who actually opened the same. The prosecution, despite these material inconsistencies, neglected to explain the discrepancies. Even more damning to its cause was the admission by Laya, the forensic chemist, that he did not know how the specimen was taken from petitioner, how it reached the police authorities or whose marking was on the cellophane wrapping of the marijuana. The non-presentation, without justifiable reason, of the police officers who conducted the inquest proceedings and marked the seized drugs, if such was the case, is fatal to the case. Plainly, the prosecution neglected to establish the crucial link in the chain of custody of the seized marijuana leaves from the time they were first allegedly discovered until they were brought for examination by Laya.

The Court of Appeals found as irrelevant the failure of the prosecution to establish the chain of custody over the seized marijuana as such “[f]inds prominence only when the existence of the seized prohibited drug is denied.”[42] We cannot agree.

To buttress its ratiocination, the appellate court narrowed on petitioner’s testimony that the marijuana was taken from his bag, without taking the statement in full context.[43] Contrary to the Court of Appeals’ findings, although petitioner testified that the marijuana was taken from his bag, he consistently denied ownership thereof.[44] Furthermore, it defies logic to require a denial of ownership of the seized drugs before the principle of chain of custody comes into play.

The onus of proving culpability in criminal indictment falls upon the State. In conjunction with this, law enforcers and public officers alike have the corollary duty to preserve the chain of custody over the seized drugs. The chain of evidence is constructed by proper exhibit handling, storage, labeling and recording, and must exist from the time the evidence is found until the time it is offered in evidence. Each person who takes possession of the specimen is duty-bound to detail how it was cared for, safeguarded and preserved while in his or her control to prevent alteration or replacement while in custody. This guarantee of the integrity of the evidence to be used against an accused goes to the very heart of his fundamental rights.

The presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty invoked by the prosecution and relied upon by the courts a quo cannot by itself overcome the presumption of innocence nor constitute proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt.[45] Among the constitutional rights enjoyed by an accused, the most primordial yet often disregarded is the presumption of innocence. This elementary principle accords every accused the right to be presumed innocent until the contrary is proven beyond reasonable doubt. Thus, the burden of proving the guilt of the accused rests upon the prosecution.

Concededly, the evidence of the defense is weak and uncorroborated. Nevertheless, this “[c]annot be used to advance the cause of the prosecution as its evidence must stand or fall on its own weight and cannot be allowed to draw strength from the weakness of the defense.”[46] Moreover, where the circumstances are shown to yield two or more inferences, one inconsistent with the presumption of innocence and the other compatible with the finding of guilt, the court must acquit the accused for the reason that the evidence does not satisfy the test of moral certainty and is inadequate to support a judgment of conviction.[47]

Drug addiction has been invariably denounced as “an especially vicious crime,”[48] and “one of the most pernicious evils that has ever crept into our society,”[49] for those who become addicted to it “not only slide into the ranks of the living dead, what is worse, they become a grave menace to the safety of law-abiding members of society,”[50] whereas “peddlers of drugs are actually agents of destruction.”[51] Indeed, the havoc created by the ruinous effects of prohibited drugs on the moral fiber of society cannot be underscored enough. However, in the rightfully vigorous campaign of the government to eradicate the hazards of drug use and drug trafficking, it cannot be permitted to run roughshod over an accused’s right to be presumed innocent until proven to the contrary and neither can it shirk from its corollary obligation to establish such guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

In this case, the totality of the evidence presented utterly fails to overcome the presumption of innocence which petitioner enjoys. The failure of the prosecution to prove all the elements of the offense beyond reasonable doubt must perforce result in petitioner’s exoneration from criminal liability.


A final word. We find it fitting to take this occasion to remind the courts to exercise the highest degree of diligence and prudence in deliberating upon the guilt of accused persons brought before them, especially in light of the fundamental rights at stake. Here, we note that the courts a quo neglected to give more serious consideration to certain material issues in the determination of the merits of the case. We are not oblivious to the fact that in some instances, law enforcers resort to the practice of planting evidence to extract information or even harass civilians. Accordingly, courts are duty-bound to be “[e]xtra vigilant in trying drug cases lest an innocent person be made to suffer the unusually severe penalties for drug offenses.”[52] In the same vein, let this serve as an admonition to police officers and public officials alike to perform their mandated duties with commitment to the highest degree of diligence, righteousness and respect for the law.

WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner Arsenio Vergara Valdez is ACQUITTED on reasonable doubt. The Director of the Bureau of Corrections is directed to cause the immediate release of petitioner, unless the latter is being lawfully held for another cause; and to inform the Court of

the date of his release, or the reasons for his continued confinement, within ten (10) days from notice. No costs.


Quisumbing, (Chairperson), Carpio, Carpio Morales, and Velasco, Jr., concur.

[1] 1987 CONST., Art. III, Sec. 2.

[2] People v. Aruta, 351 Phil. 868 (1998).

[3] Rollo, pp. 76-89. Penned by Associate Justice Remedios A. Salazar-Fernando, and concurred in by Associate Justices Rosmari D. Carandang and Monina Arevalo-Zenarosa.

[4] Id. at pp. 28-45. Penned by Executive Judge Clifton U. Ganaya.

[5] Entitled Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

[6] Id. at 44-45.

[7] Records, p. 1.

[8] Id.

[9] TSN, 24 February 2004, pp. 3-5, 7, 11-12. See also Records, p. 2.

[10] TSN, 3 March 2004, p. 11.

[11] Id. at 16.

[12] TSN, 16 March 2004, pp. 4-7.

[13] TSN, 17 March 2004, pp. 3-9.

[14] Id. at 10-12, 16-17.

[15] Rollo, pp. 44-45.

[16] Id. at 87.

[17] People v. Bacla-an, 445 Phil. 729, 746 (2003), citing People v. Mendoza, 327 SCRA 695 (2000). See also People v. Sevilla, 394 Phil. 125 (2000).

[18] See People v. Bacla-an, 445 Phil. 445 Phil. 729, 748 (2003) citing People v. Lagarto, 326 SCRA 693 (2000) and People v. Nitcha, 240 SCRA 283 (1995). See also People v. Kimura, G.R. No. 130805, 27 April 2004, 428 SCRA 51.

[19] People v. Sarap, 447 Phil. 642 (2003).

[20] TSN, 24 February 2004, p. 11; TSN, 3 March 2004, pp. 9, 19.

[21] People v. Tudtud, 458 Phil. 752, 775 (2003), citing People v. Chua, G.R. Nos. 136066-67, 4 February 2003, 396 SCRA 657.

[22] People v. Lopez, 371 Phil. 852, 862 (1999), citing People v. Bawar, 262 SCRA 325.

[23] 424 Mich. 42, 378 N.W.2d 451 (1985).

[24] 458 Phil. 752 (2003).

[25] Id. at 777.

[26] See People v. Mengote, G.R. No. 87059, 22 June 1992, 210 SCRA 174.

[27] 392 U.S. 1, 20 L. Ed. 2nd 889 [1968].

[28] See People v. Chua, 444 Phil. 757 (2003).

[29] See People v. Bacla-an, supra note 16, citing People v. Chua Ho San, 308 SCRA 42 (1999).

[30] Id. at 748-749.

[31] 424 Phil. 263 (2002).

[32] Id. at 286.

[33] People v. Tudtud, 458 Phil. 752, 788 (2003), citing People v. Compacion, 414 Phil. 68 (2001).

[34] Id.

[35] People v. Hajili, 447 Phil. 283, 295 (2003).

[36] People v. Almeida, 463 Phil. 637, 648 (2003), citing People v. Mendiola, 235 SCRA 116 (1994). See also People v. Kimura, G.R. No. 130805, 27 April 2004, 428 SCRA 51, 61, citing People v. Mendiola, supra, People v. Macuto, 176 SCRA 762 (1989), People v. Vocente, 188 SCRA 100 (1990) and People v. Mariano, 191 SCRA 136 (1990).

[37] See People v. Mapa, G.R. No. 91014, 31 March 1993, 220 SCRA 670 (1993), People v. Dismuke, G.R. No. 108453, 11 July 1994, 234 SCRA 51, People v. Casimiro, 383 SCRA 400 (2002), People v. Pedronan, 452 Phil. 226 (2003), People v. Kimura, G.R. No. 130805, 27 April 2004, 428 SCRA 51, People v. Ong, G.R. No. 137348, 21 June 2004, 432 SCRA 470.

[38] See People v. Ong, supra at 488.

[39] G.R. No. 173051, 31 July 2007.

[40] Records, p. 2.

[41] Id. at 5.

[42] Rollo, p. 87.

[43] Id.

[44] TSN, 17 March 2004, pp. 11-13.

[45] People v. Sevilla, 394 Phil. 125, 158 (2000), citing People v. Pagaura, 267 SCRA 17 (1997), People v. De los Santos, 314 SCRA 303 (1999).

[46] People v. Santos, G.R. No. 175593, 17 October 2007, citing People v. Samson, 421 Phil. 104 (2001).

[47] People v. Sapal, 385 Phil. 109, 126 (2000), citing People v. Delos Santos, G.R. No. 126998, 14 September 1999 and People v. Fider, 223 SCRA 117 (1993).

[48] Office of the Court Administrator v. Librado, 329 Phil. 432, 435 (1996), citing People v. Nario, 224 SCRA 647 (1993).

[49] Id. citing People v. Policarpio, 158 SCRA 85 (1988).

[50] Id. at 436, citing People v. Bati, 189 SCRA 95 (1990), citing People v. Lamug, 172 SCRA 349 (1989).

[51] Id. citing People v. Policarpio, supra.

[52] People v. Sevilla, 394 Phil. 125, 159 (2000), citing People v. Pagaura supra. See also People v. Sapal, supra.

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