402 Phil. 482
The undersigned 2nd Assistant Provincial Fiscal accuses Edgar Manlapaz (at large), Bogoy Seachon (at large), Metchel Ibaya (at large), Joel Cinco, Amy Inopia alias `Ka Jinky' (at large), Alias Ka Ambot, Alias Ka Nelly, John Doe and Peter Doe of the crime of Kidnapping, committed as follows:First to be arraigned was Joel Cinco who entered a plea of not guilty to the abovequoted charge. On March 31, 1987, upon motion of the prosecution and with consent of Cinco, the trial court ordered the provisional dismissal of the case. The case against the rest of the accused who were at large was ordered archived.That on or about May 26, 1986, in the morning thereof, at barangay Mapeña, Municipality of Masbate, Province of Masbate, Philippines, within the jurisdiction of this court, the above-named accused confederating together and helping one another with the used of force, violence and intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously kidnap, detain and keep one Jacinto Magbojos alias `Dagoy' against the latter's will.
Contrary to law.
The undersigned 4th Asst. Prov'l. Prosecutor accuses Oscar Oliva alias `Ka Ambot', Edgar Manlapaz, Bocoy Seachon, Metchel Ibaya, Joel Cinco, Amy Inopia alias `Ka Jinky', alias `Ka Nelly', John Doe, and Peter Doe, `Ka Yoli', `Ka Gerson', Noli Salcedo alias `Ka Tony', Bogoy Manlapaz, Virgilio Panguilinan alias `Ka Ariel', `Ka Riza', `Ka Liza', of the crime of Kidnapping with Murder, committed as follows:Upon arraignment, appellants Oliva and Salcedo, assisted by their respective counsel, entered a plea of not guilty to the charge. Thereafter, trial on the merits ensued. Subsequently, the trial court rendered judgment, convicting Oliva and Salcedo of murder but acquitting Joel Cinco of the offense charge, thus:That on or about May 26, 1986, in the morning thereof, at Barangay Mapeña, Municipality of Masbate, Province of Masbate, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused conspiring together, confederating with and mutually helping one another with the use of force, violence and intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously kidnap, detain and keep one Jacinto Magbojos alias `Dagoy' against the latter's will, and with intent to kill, with treachery, evident premeditation and use of superior strength, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously took turns in stabbing and shooting the victim in the different parts of his body causing his instantaneous death.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
WHEREFORE, the Court finds the accused Oscar Oliva alias Ka Ambot and Noli Salcedo alias Ka Nelly GUILTY of the crime of murder established by proof beyond reasonable doubt and hereby sentences said accused both Oscar Oliva and Noli Salcedo the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA and to pay jointly and solidarily the amount of P50,000.00 to the heirs of the late Jacinto Magbojos, Jr. without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency and to pay the costs.The prosecution evidence, upon which the finding of guilt beyond reasonable doubt was based, is summarized by the trial court as follows:
WHEREFORE, the Court finds no sufficient evidence to warrant the conviction beyond reasonable doubt against accused Joel [C]inco and hereby renders a judgment of ACQUITTAL in favor of accused JOEL CINCO. His immediate release is hereby ordered unless he is legally detained for another distinct crime.
...In the early morning of May 26, 1986, Jacinto Magbojos Jr. left their house to count coconuts at his father's coconut land uphill. At about 8:00 o'clock that same morning, Joel Cinco, Michell Ibaya both out-of-school youth came to the house of the latter. After being informed by one of the Magbojos children that Jacinto went uphill for an errand, Joel Cinco and his companions immediately left. At about 10:30 o'clock that morning, Jacinto Magbojos Jr. arrived home. At about that time, Mrs. Magbojos was cooking. Suddenly, four persons arrived and entered the house. A few minutes later, her husband Jacinto was hogtied by tying his hands at his back and Mr. Magbojos was told by the group to go out. The group with Jacinto Magbojos Jr. passed through the kitchen door while Mrs. Magbojos and the children passed the other door to the apple tree downstairs. The group took Jacinto Magbojos Jr. away and they walked towards the western direction.Appellant Oliva claimed that he had no participation in the commission of the crime. In summary, he testified that:
Earlier that day, Arturo Inopia, a farmer and also a resident of barangay Mapiña, Masbate, had visitors in his house at about 8:30 or 9:00 o'clock in the morning, namely: "Ka Ambot", who turned to be Oscar Oliva, "Ka Nelly" who was later identified as Noli Salcedo, "Ka Jinky" and Jun Pangilinan who were all in green (fatigue) uniforms and armed, and Bogoy Manlapaz and Joel Cinco - the latter two being unarmed and without uniforms. Arturo Inopia asked why they were in his house, and "Ka Ambot" replied that they have a mission to get Jacinto Magbojos Jr. After hearing the report of Jun de los Reyes, the group of "Ka Ambot" left for the barangay center of Mapiña, Masbate but only after "Ka Ambot" gave a stern warning to Arturo Inopia not to report to the police authorities, otherwise, he (Inopia) will be killed. Later, at about noon of that same day, May 26, 1986, he was informed by his brother-in-law, Julito Soler, that they got Dagoy Magbojos.
Elpidio Labajata, likewise a farmer, a resident of and a neighbor to Jacinto Magbojos Jr., that same morning of May 26, 1986, also went to the mountain to collect the corn he loaned to Jose Balatucan. In going to Balatucan's house, he passed by the residence of Arturo Inopia where he saw several persons, four of whom were in fatigue uniforms and carrying firearms. In the group were Jun Pan[g]ilinan, Joel Cinco, Oscar Oliva and Noli Salcedo. When he returned home that same day, he met six (6) persons, two of whom were Jacinto Magbojos Jr. and Julio (Bagoy) Seachon. He noticed that Jacinto Magbojos Jr. was hogtied by coralon ropes and appeared very weak and with abrasions on both sides of his face and can hardly talk. He recalled that at that time, Jacinto Magbojos Jr. was wearing white shorts with green linings and a red T-shirt. He was investigated by Oscar Oliva and he was asked where he resides and whether he knew Jacinto Magbojos Jr. When he answered affirmatively, he was also hogtied by Oscar Oliva. However, he pleaded for his life and fortunately, he was released but with the condition that he will leave Mapiña, Masbate.
Sometime in early 1989, Renato Magbojos, a policeman assigned to INP, Dimasalang, Masbate and an elder brother of Jacinto Magbojos Jr., met Levelito Tubieron, a resident of barangay Cancahurao, Baleno, Masbate, on board the "MV Misamis Occidental". Levelito Tubieron was bound for Manila and told Renato that he knew the place where his brother Jacinto Jr. was buried. Tubieron further told Renato Magbojos that he was present when Jacinto Jr. was buried because he was the one who was asked by the group of Oscar Oliva to accompany them to the burial site - in the land owned by Jeremias Bello at sitio Cabuluan, Barangay Cancahurao, Baleno, Masbate. On March 1, 1989, the remains of Jacinto Magbojos Jr. were exhumed from a shallow graveyard, a dry sand beside the hill at sitio Cabuluan. The digging itself of the grave was done by Levelito Tubieron, assisted by Tito Bello, PTA president, and witnessed by no less than Elena Bello, the acting barangay captain of Cancahurao, police officers led by Sgt. Gener Magbojos and Pat. Virgilio Cabuhat and some barangay residents. Recovered from the graveyard were human bones, a T-shirt, a pair of short pants, coralon rope, a brief and black rubber band. On the witness stand, these personal belongings were identified to be those worn by the victim Jacinto Magbojos Jr. on that fatal day of May 26, 1986 by no less than his (ex) wife, Erlinda Gonzaga. After they were examined by Dr. Emilio Quemi, the remains of the late Jacinto Magbojos Jr. were buried at the Masbate New Cemetery.
[He] has been in Manila since last week of December 1985. He boarded the ship from Masbate in the company of one Natividad Querbo, a resident of Nabangig, Palanas, Masbate, and went with her to Valenzuela, Bulacan. He stayed with Natividad Querbo in the house of the younger brother of the latter at Kinalagan, Valenzuela, Bulacan. After the EDSA revolution, he came home to Masbate and stayed in the third district as NPA commanding officer. Earlier, in 1982 or 1983, Oscar Oliva has been a territorial commander. In 1988, he was promoted and handled the so called REFO RECOM V organization tasked to unite Masbateños in the labor front, with the restaurant of Q-Mart, Makati and Manila as their centers of activities. This lasted for one (1) month. Later, Oscar Oliva was summoned by one Sotero Llamas to report to Bicol. He was reprimanded sometime in June 1986. In July 30, 1988, he surrendered to Lt. Colonel Pansepane of the 2nd Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army at Matacon, Polangui, Albay and thereafter stayed at Mahayahay, Talusan, Zamboanga del Sur where his wife has an elder sister. From there, they went to Manila, then Navotas. Oscar came back to Masbate to follow up his application papers for amnesty. During that period, he was granted by the Philippine Constabulary a safe conduct pass for one (1) month. While transacting with the local office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, he was invited by the commanding officer of the PC-INP command through Lt. Poses. He reported to the PC camp and it was there where he was informed that a case has been filed against him. He was not, however, showed a copy of the warrant for his arrest. Oscar Oliva admitted on the witness stand that when he was promoted to the position of Intelligence Officer, his entire jurisdiction is the entire Masbate territory. It was during the ceasefire agreed by and between the government and the CPP-NPA insurgents that he was able to reach barangay Mapiña and to conduct "pulong-pulong". He likewise stated in open court that Levelito Tubieron is in the list of "shoot-to-kill" order, while Arturo Inopia is allegedly a member of the (dreaded) group called "Walang Patawad", having pretended as an NPA member for business extortion.Appellant Salcedo also maintained his innocence. He gave his own version of the story as follows:
On May 26, 1986, he was in Metro Manila working as a furniture polisher in the shop owned by a certain Captain Condor. He left Masbate for Manila sometime in 1985, and returned to Masbate in 1987 to visit his parents, after which he again went to Manila. In 1988, he came home to Masbate, and engaged himself in farming at Lagta, Baleno. He said he had no knowledge of the incident involving Jacinto Magbojos Jr. and he does not know him, nor does he know Oscar Oliva neither Joel Cinco. He was apprehended on August 5, 1988 at the house of his cousin Arturo Sulat, neighbor of Ben Albao, likewise a cousin, at barangay Kinamaligan, Masbate, Masbate. On that day he was arrested, Noli Salcedo was on his way to Baleno. When he was already on board the police vehicle, he jumped out and attempted to escape from his captors. Unfortunately, he fell outbalanced and the police officers fired several shots at him and he was hit at the right foot and on the left thigh. He was brought to the Masbate Provincial Hospital where he was treated for about three (3) months. He stated that he has not gone to barangay Mapiña which is about five (5) kilometers away from Lagta, Baleno, and would take approximately five hours walking.On the basis of the evidence presented by the prosecution, the court found Oliva and Salcedo guilty beyond reasonable doubt of murder, not kidnapping with murder. However, Joel Cinco was acquitted. Hence, insisting on their innocence, Oliva and Salcedo instantly appealed.
THE HONORABLE LOWER COURT COMMITTED A REVERSIBLE ERROR IN TRYING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT OSCAR OLIVA OF THE CRIME OF KIDNAPPING WITH MURDER AND CONVICTING HIM OF MURDER, CONSIDERING ITS FULL KNOWLEDGE OF THE PROSECUTION AS WELL AS DEFENSE EVIDENCE THAT SAID OSCAR OLIVA IS A MEMBER OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE PHILIPPINES AND A COMMANDER OF THE NEW PEOPLES ARMY. GRANTING WITHOUT ADMITTING THAT HE CAN LAWFULLY BE PRESUMED AS THE KILLER OF THE VICTIM. ALTHOUGH THE SAME IS NOT ALLOWED BY THE CONSTITUTION AND THE RULES OF COURT AND JURISPRUDENCE, AND ABOVE ALL, NOT WARRANTED BY EVIDENCE, IF AT ALL HE SHOULD BE PROSECUTED FOR A CRIME, HE MAY BE SO PROSECUTED FOR THE CRIME OF REBELLION WHICH ABSORBS THE CRIME OF KIDNAPPING OR MURDER, HENCE, THE DECISION APPEALED FROM SHOULD BE SET ASIDE.For his part, Salcedo imputes only one error on the trial court, as follows:
THAT GRANTING WITHOUT ADMITTING THAT THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT OSCAR OLIVA COULD BE SEPARATELY PROSECUTED FOR THE CRIME OF KIDNAPPING WITH MURDER WHICH CRIMES ARE ABSORBED BY THE CRIME OF REBELLION AND COMMITTED IN FURTHERANCE THEREOF, THE HONORABLE LOWER COURT COMMITTED A REVERSIBLE ERROR IN CONVICTING HIM OF THE CRIME OF MURDER BASED MERELY ON ALLEGED CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE, AND WHICH, MISERABLY, DOES NOT PROVE BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT THAT HE WAS THE ONE WHO KILLED THE VICTIM, SINCE THE ALLEGED WITNESS TO THE KILLING AND/OR BURIAL OF THE VICTIM IN THE ALLEGED PERSON OF LEVILITO TUBIERON WAS NEVER PRESENTED BY THE PROSECUTION TO TESTIFY IN COURT IN ORDER TO CONFIRM THE HEARSAY TESTIMONY OF PAT. RENATO MAGBOJOS.
THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN FINDING ACCUSED-APPELLANT NOLI SALCEDO GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE CRIME OF MURDER.The issue for resolution is whether or not the trial court erred in giving credence to the prosecution evidence and convicting appellants for the crime of murder, then sentencing them to reclusion perpetua.