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354 Phil. 324


[ G.R. No. 118806, July 10, 1998 ]




This is a petition to review the decision[1] of the Court of Appeals which affirmed in toto the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Roxas City, Branch 15,[2] finding petitioners herein guilty of “illegal fishing with the use of an explosive,” the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, the Court finds the accused, Policarpio Umiten, Santiago Argoncillo and Richard Balbona, guilty beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of illegal fishing with the use of an explosive punishable under Section 33 in relation to Section 38 of Presidential Decree No. 704 dated May 16, 1975 as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1058 dated December 1, 1976 and each shall suffer a straight penalty of twenty (20) years imprisonment.

However, accused, Johnson Sucgang, Elvis Villar and Efren Alvaro, are acquitted for failure of the prosecution to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

The fish sample is forfeited in favor of the government.

Considering the penalty imposed upon the accused, Policarpio Umiten, Santiago Argoncillo and Richard Balbona, the bail bond for their provisional liberty is increased to Twenty Thousand (P20,000.00) Pesos each effective immediately upon promulgation. They shall not be released from detention until they put up an appropriate bail bond for their provisional liberty.

The property bond of accused, Johnson Sucgang, Elvis Villar and Efren Alvaro, are deemed cancelled.

Costs against the convicted accused.

On August 1, 1990, an Information was filed by the Provincial Fiscal of Capiz charging Johnson Sucgang, Policarpio Umiten, Elvis Villar, Santiago Argoncillo, Richardo Balbona and Efren Alvaro with illegal fishing (with the use of dynamite), as follows:
That at or about 6:30 o’clock [sic] in the evening of May 7, 1990, in the sea water of Barangay Basiao, Ivisan, Capiz, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating and helping one another, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously catch, take, gather and have in their possession and control different species of fish with the use of explosives.[4]
Upon arraignment on September 11, 1990, the accused, with the assistance of counsel, pleaded “not guilty” to the offense charged. Trial ensued thereafter.

The lower court synthesized the evidence presented by the prosecution as follows:[5]

Due to reports of rampant illegal fishing at Barangay Basiao, Ivisan, Capiz, personnel from the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources specifically from the Bureau of Fisheries as well as the Barangay Captain of said place assisted by the local policemen created a team to conduct surveillance within the Ivisan Bay. Thus, around 5:30 in the afternoon of May 7, 1990, a team riding in two (2) pumpboats from the Barangay Basiao wharf proceeded along the waters of Ivisan Bay. Riding in one pumpboat were Persinefles U. Oabe, the Barangay Captain of said place; Rolando Amoroso, an employee of the Bureau of Fisheries; Pat. Rafael Tupaz, a member of the local Integrated National Police and Remegio Unasin, a barangay councilman who acted as the pilot. In the other pumpboat were Joey de la Cruz, a co-employee of Rolando Amoroso; Pat. Reggie Uadan and Enido Baldesimo. Now and then, the team had to stop and listen for possible occurrences of illegal fishing within their vicinity. Around 6:30 of the same evening while standing by with their engines off, in a place facing Barangay Culasi, they heard an explosion. Sensing it was caused by dynamite, they proceeded to the area around five hundred meters (500 m.) away from them.

After ten minutes of navigation, the team arrived at the scene in question which was near an islet. They surrounded the area. At a distance of around ten meters, Joey de la Cruz, an employee of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, saw three persons diving into the water. Thereafter, they would surface and throw their catch of fish to the unmotorized banca around four meters long nearby. In the seashore of said islet, around three to four meters away from these three persons floating in the water, were three other persons standing in the rocky portions around three meters apart. These six persons tried to escape but Rolando Amoroso, the co-employee of Joey de la Cruz, advised them not to do so and introduced themselves as law enforcers. The team found out that the fishes they caught were deep sea fish of four kinds locally known as “vulgan,” “bulawis,” “pacol,” and “bag-angan.” Joey de la Cruz gathered seven fish samples from their banca while Rolando Amoroso went down from the pumpboat and proceeded to the islet. However, upon inspection, he failed to find any explosive (dynamite) either on the seashore or on the banca. No paraphernalia used in dynamite fishing were found. Both Joey de la Cruz and Rolando Amoroso recognized the six persons as the herein accused by their faces.

Persinefles U. Oabe, barangay captain of Barangay Basiao, who was with the team riding in a pumpboat with Rolando Amoroso identified the three persons retrieving fish from the water as Policarpio Umiten, Santiago Argoncillo and Richard Balbona while the other three persons standing on the rocky portions of the islet as Johnson Sucgang, Elvis Umiten and Efren Alvaro.

The team apprehended the six accused and brought them to the fish cage of the barangay captain located within the same barangay. While on their way, Joey de la Cruz externally examined the fish samples.

Upon their arrival at the fish cage, another external examination was conducted by Joey de la Cruz and Rolando Amoroso. In both external examinations, the two found out that the fishes were caught with the use of explosives because blood was oozing from their operculums and their eyes were protruding.

An on-the-spot investigation was conducted but the accused denied any culpability. They were then released on the strength of their promise to report to the local police the following day.

The fish samples were then placed in a plastic bag filled with ice at the house of Barangay Captain Persinefles U. Oabe that evening. In the morning, Joey de la Cruz and Rolando Amoroso brought the fish samples to their office in Roxas City where they conducted an internal examination. The examination revealed that the fish samples were caught with the use of explosives because their air bladders were raptured and deeply stained with blood; the vertebral columns were broken but with bloodstains; their ribs were broken; and there were blood clots in their abdomens. Joey de la Cruz and Rolando Amoroso rendered a written report of their internal examination to the Provincial Agricultural Officer.

The testimonies of Joey de la Cruz, Rolando Amoroso, and Persinefles U. Oabe above were corroborated by Pat. Rafael Tupaz, one of the police escorts of the team.

Sgt. Sergio Ordales, a member of the local police of the municipality of Ivisan testified that while on duty in the morning of May 8, 1990, herein six accused arrived at their station. He asked why they were there and they answered that they were told to report to the police station. He learned from them that they were arrested for illegal fishing with the use of explosives.

On the other hand, the lower court portrayed the evidence presented by the version of the defense, thus:

All the accused denied the imputation of the prosecution.

Policarpio Umiten, Santiago Argoncillo, Richard O. Balbona were uniform in alleging that around 4:00 in the afternoon of May 7, 1990, they dropped a fishnet about two hundred (200) armslength and one (1) meter in width at the scene where they were apprehended. This method they locally call “patuloy” requires that the fishnet be retrieved every hour to collect its catch. The trio went back to the place near the islet in question around 6:30 in the evening for the purpose of collecting their catch from the fishnet. They had not been able to collect all their catch from the net when the team of law enforcers, prosecution witnesses herein, arrived. They were asked whether they heard an explosion. After they denied having heard any, Barangay Captain Persinefles U. Oabe, told the accused to go with them. The team got seven pieces of fish samples. The accused left around one and one-half kilos of fish they had gathered at the time the team of law enforcers arrived. They were then brought to the fish cage owned by Persinefles U. Oabe at Barangay Basiao.

Above three accused would like the Court to believe that the seven pieces of fish samples taken by the team of fishing law enforcers were the catch of their fishnet they locally called “patuloy.”

On the other hand, Elvis Villar testified that he and Efren Alvaro were together in going to the islet in question, riding in an unmotorized banca to gather shells locally called “suso” and “butlogan” for viand. Both started gathering shells under the stones in the islet around 5:30 in the afternoon. While they were preparing to go home at around 6:30 in the evening, the team of law enforcers riding in motorized pumpboats arrived. The barangay captain and the personnel from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources asked them whether they heard an explosion. After they denied having heard any, they were told by the barangay captain to board their pumpboats. They obliged, leaving the shells they had gathered. They were then brought to the fish cage of the barangay captain.

Although accused Johnson Sucgang admitted his presence in the islet in question, he offered a different explanation. He testified that he went to said place to look for “pulutan” requested by his customer, Wilfredo Arcangeles. Being an operator and manager of Virgen Beach Resort located at Sitio Manangkalan, he obliged. Thus, between 5:00 to 5:30 in the afternoon of May 7, 1990, he left his resort riding in a banca. He paddled his way towards the islet where he saw two persons at the bank while the other three were on the water. He went ashore. Later, the barangay captain and his companions riding in two pumpboats arrived. Like his co-accused, he was asked if he heard an explosion. After he denied hearing any, the barangay captain told him to go with them. They were all brought to the fish cage of the barangay captain for questioning.

Wilfredo Arcangeles corroborated the claim of Johnson Sucgang. He confirmed that he requested the latter to look for “pulutan” since he had visitors from Bacolod City prompting Johnson Sucgang to look for some. He saw the accused leave in a banca and affirmed that he had no dynamite with him.[6]

On September 30, 1991, the trial court rendered its decision which, as stated at the beginning, was affirmed by the Court of Appeals.

Hence, this petition.

Petitioners point out that the fact that neither explosives nor related paraphernalia were found in their possession is an indication of their innocence.

We do not agree. First, it is quite probable that petitioners dumped these materials into the sea while the raiding party was approaching. Moreover, Section 33, Presidential Decree No. 704, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1058, provides:
Sec. 33. Illegal fishing; xxx -- It shall be unlawful for any person to catch, take or gather, or cause to be caught, taken or gathered fish or fishery/aquatic products in Philippine waters with the use of explosives, obnoxious or poisonous substance, or by the use of electricity as defined in paragraphs (l),[7] (m)[8] and (d),[9] respectively, of Sec. 3 hereof xxx.


The discovery of dynamite, other explosives and chemical compounds containing combustible elements, or obnoxious or poisonous substance, or equipment or device for electric fishing in any fishing boat or in the possession of a fisherman shall constitute a presumption that the same were used for fishing in violation of this Decree, the discovery in any fishing boat of fish caught or killed by the use of explosives, obnoxious or poisonous substance or by electricity shall constitute a presumption that the owner, operator or fisherman were fishing with the use of explosives, obnoxious or poisonous substance or electricity.
In Hizon vs. Court of Appeals,[10] this Court held that the law, as contained in the last paragraph of Section 33, creates a presumption that illegal fishing has been committed when fish caught or killed with the use of explosives, obnoxious or poisonous substances or by electricity are found in a fishing boat. In this case, it cannot be denied that the fishes found in petitioners’ banca were caught or killed by the use of explosives.

The Report[11] of Bureau of Fisheries employees Joey de la Cruz and Rolando Amoroso states:

Republic of the Philippines
Department of Agriculture
Roxas City


The Provincial Agricultural Officer
Department of Agriculture
Roxas City


I have the honor to submit to this office the result of the scientific fish examination conducted on the fish samples taken from the possession of Mr. Johnson Umiten Sucgang, 38 years old, married and resident of Barangay Basiao, Ivisan, Capiz and company on May 7, 1990, 6:30 PM by combined elements of the Department of Agriculture, PC/INP Unit of Ivisan, Capiz and Barangay officials of Basiao, Ivisan, Capiz conducting sea borne patrol on illegal fishing.

Source of fish samples                     : Sea water of Brgy., Basiao,
                                                        Ivisan, Capiz
Fish samples taken from                   : Johnson U. Sucgang, 38 years old,
                                                         married, of Brgy., Basiao, Ivisan,
                                                         Capiz, et. al.

Date fish samples taken                   : May 7, 1990 at 6:30 PM
Date fish samples examined             : May 7, 1990 at 7:00 PM

Name of fish samples taken              Number           Weight             Value   

Local Name

Bulawis                                          2 pcs.              300 gms          P 8.00

Bulgan                                           2 pcs.              200 gms          10.00

Pakol                                              1 pc.                100 gms          2.00

Bag-angan                                      1 pc.                150 gms          3.00

Bukod                                             1 pc.                150 gms          3.00

Characteristics noted on the fish examined:

1. External Manifestation

a. Blood, oozing on the operculum.

2. Internal Manifestation

a. Air bladder raptured deeply stained with blood;

b. Vertebral column broken with blood stain.


The fish samples manifested signs that said fish were caught or killed by the use of explosives.

Examined by:


Fish Examiners
Joey de la Cruz affirmed the above findings in his testimony before the trial court.[12] Said testimony was corroborated by Rolando Amoroso, a co-employee of De la Cruz in the Bureau of Fisheries. The latter further stated that the fish were killed specifically by dynamite
Can you identify whether it was through dynamite or any other means of explosive the fish was caught?
Yes, sir. Because you know when we saw, when we conducted the external manifestation of the fish, not only blood oozing from the ears but also from the eyes that were protruding.
Is it not possible that it be caused also through fishing by means of electricity?
Other kinds of explosives?
Yes, explosives.
For example, what other aside from dynamite?
What explosives aside from dynamite, no other. [13]

The trial court correctly gave credence to these testimonies, thus:
Above three (3) accused would like the Court to believe that the seven (7) pieces of fish samples taken by the team of fishing law enforcers were the catch of their fish net they locally called [sic] “patuloy.”

x x x.

With the external and internal examination by Joey de la Cruz and Rolando Amoroso showing that these fishes were caught with the use of explosive, bare denial of above three (3) accused that they caught them by means of a fishing net they locally call “patoloy” is insufficient to disprove such finding. It is simply a superiority of weight of object evidence over testimonies of the accused.

Joey de la Cruz is an agricultural technologist of their office and a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Fishery. Joey de la Cruz and Rolando Amoroso had undergone training course in fishery laws and implementing regulations as well as actual demonstrations in sea to practice what they had learned in theory. [As] xxx technical personnel of the Bureau of Fishery and Aquatic Resources, their finding after an internal and external examination of fish samples to prove they were caught with the use of explosives should be presented to show that these prosecution witnesses fabricated their story. There is no ulterior motive which implied them to testify as they did. Furthermore, no evidence was introduced by the defense to impeach their credibility nor evidence to discredit their persons. Credibility of the testimonies having remained unimpeached, it shall be given great weight in the determination of the guilt of the accused. Besides, being public officers to enforce fishing laws, in the absence of ill-motive on their part, to impute to the accused a serious offense of illegal fishing with the use of explosive, the presumption is that there was regular performance of public duty on their part.[14]
The presumption that the crime of illegal fishing was committed has, therefore, been clearly established. Such presumption, however, is merely prima facie, and may be rebutted by the accused.[15]

Petitioners attempt to overcome said presumption by disputing the findings of prosecution witnesses Joey de la Cruz and Rolando Amoroso. They claim that since not all their catch were examined, there can be no conclusive proof that the fish were killed with the use of explosives.[16]

They also question the credibility of these witnesses, thus:
xxx. If it is true that prosecution witness Joey dela Cruz, allegedly a technical personnel [sic] of the Bureau of Fisheries and competent to determine if a fish is killed by dynamite blast, found the 7 fishes to have been killed by a dynamite blast, it was unnatural for the team not to arrest the petitioners on the spot. xxx.[17]
Petitioners’ arguments have no merit.

It is ridiculous to have expected that all the fish found in the accused’s fishing boat would be subjected to an examination. It is sufficient that, as in the case at bar, a random sample of the accused’s catch was examined and found to have been killed with the use of explosives. A patent impracticality would result if the law required otherwise.

The fact that the patrol team did not immediately deliver the accused to the municipal jail does not diminish the credibility of the above witnesses. Persinefles U. Oabe, the barangay captain of Basiao, gave a plausible explanation for the accused’s release:

A    We released those six persons because if we bring them to the municipality of Ivisan we have no available transportation because they were only riding in a single motor vehicle.[18]

The want of available transportation is not surprising. The dearth in law enforcement facilities, especially in the provinces, is not lost on this Court and is a matter of judicial notice.

In fine, we find no reason to disturb the assessment of the trial court regarding the credibility of prosecution witnesses Joey de la Cruz and Rolando Amoroso. Its findings are accorded great respect by appellate tribunals since trial courts have the advantage of examining the witnesses’ testimonies and observing their demeanor first hand.[19]

Petitioners also argue that they could not have been caught fishing with the use of dynamite in shallow waters because the fishes used as evidence were described by the prosecution witnesses as “deep sea fishes.” According to petitioners:
The seven (7) fishes that the prosecution used as evidence were described by prosecution witnesses as ‘deep sea fishes’. But it has been shown in the testimony of petitioner Santiago Argoncillo that he and the other petitioners were fishing in shallow waters about 1 1/2 meters deep (TSN, March 13, 1991, p. 7) and using fishnet 200 armslength long and 1 meter wide (TSN, March 13, 1991, p. 4). This testimony was not rebutted by the prosecution. In fact, the 3 accused who were acquitted by the trial court were found by the prosecution witnesses standing on the seashore near where the petitioners were fishing (TSN, January 23, 1991, pp. 5 to 6). That petitioners would engage in dynamite fishing in shallow waters and near the seashore would be unnatural. The allegation that the petitioners were fishing with the use of explosive is therefore not credible.[20]
We are not persuaded.

The fishes caught by petitioners were not actually “deep sea fishes” in the sense that they came from the deep portions of the sea as distinguished from shallow waters or waters near or along the shores. The fishes caught were locally known as “vulgan,” “bulawis,” “pacol,” and “bag-angan.” They are generally described as “isda sa bato” or “bottom feeders.” The following excerpt from the testimony of fish examiner Joey de la Cruz shows that the term “deep sea fishes” arose from the trial court’s erroneous translation of “isda sa bato” or “bottom feeders” which were the terms actually employed by said witness to describe the subject fishes:
What were the species of the fishes that you recovered from that banca?
Bottom feeders.
‘Isda sa bato,’ in English?
Bottom feeders.
Deep sea fishes.[21]

Petitioners next contend that if it is true that they were engaged in illegal fishing, it would be “unnatural” for them to use a boat which would make it difficult for them to escape from the law enforcers riding motorized boats.[22]

Petitioners’ contention is too ludicrous to warrant serious consideration. The law punishing illegal fishing does not require the use of motorized banca or boat for the crime to be committed. Concededly, a motorized banca can better serve those engaged in illegal fishing for purposes of eluding law enforcers. However, not everyone can financially afford to fit a motor in his banca. Indeed, petitioner Argoncillo admitted that the banca that they were using was leased from a certain Dikoy Odrunia.[23]

Petitioners likewise aver that they did not flee when the law enforcers arrived, and even voluntarily reported to the Ivisan Police Station the following morning. They submit that their alleged non-flight should strengthen their claim of innocence.[24]

We disagree. There is no established doctrine to the effect that, in every instance, non-flight is an indication of innocence.[25] Moreover, even if they wanted to, petitioners could not have possibly eluded the law enforcers who were in two pump boats. Attempts to flee would also have been useless since petitioners were already identified by the barrio captain.

Lastly, the fact that the accused were asked by the patrol team whether or not they heard an explosion is not in any way reflective of petitioners’ innocence. We deem such inquiry as nothing more than a part of the investigative process. It is quite common, and in most cases, necessary, for law enforcers to ask questions to help them ascertain whether or not there exists probable cause to arrest persons suspected of committing a crime.

Having failed to discharge themselves of the burden of disproving that they have committed illegal fishing, the Court is left with no alternative but to affirm petitioners’ conviction.

The penalty imposed by law[26] for illegal fishing if explosive is actually used is imprisonment ranging from twenty (20) years to life imprisonment. The Indeterminate Sentence Law provides that if, as in this case, the offense is punished by a law other than the Revised Penal Code, the court shall sentence the accused to an indeterminate sentence, the maximum term of which shall not exceed the maximum fixed by said law and the minimum shall not be less than the minimum term prescribed by the same.[27] The trial court therefore erred when it sentenced petitioners to “suffer a straight penalty of twenty (20) years imprisonment.”[28] In Spouses Jose and Trinidad Bacar vs. Judge Salvador P. de Guzman, Jr.,[29] we held that it was erroneous to impose a straight penalty of six (6) years imprisonment on the accused for homicide. We explained:

xxx. It is basic law that xxx the application of the Indeterminate Sentence Law is mandatory where imprisonment exceeds one (1) year, except only in the following cases:
a. Offenses punished by death or life imprisonment.

b. Those convicted of treason (Art. 114), conspiracy or proposal to commit treason (Art. 115).

c. Those convicted of misprision of treason (Art. 116), rebellion (Art. 134), sedition (Art.139), or espionage (Art. 117).

d. Those convicted of piracy (Art. 122).

e. Habitual delinquents(Art. 62, par. 5).

Recidivists are entitled to an indeterminate sentence. (People v. Jaramilla, L-28547, Feb. 22, 1974). Offender is not disqualified to avail of the benefits of the law even if the crime is committed while he is on parole. (People v. Calreon, CA 78 O.G. 6701, Nov. 19, 1982).

f. Those who escaped from confinement or those who evaded sentence.

g. Those granted conditional pardon and who violated the terms of the same (Art. 159). (People v. Corral, 74 Phil. 359).

h. Those whose maximum period of imprisonment does not exceed one year.

Where the penalty actually imposed does not exceed one year, the accused cannot avail himself of the benefits of the law, the application of which is based upon the penalty actually imposed in accordance with law and not upon that which may be imposed in the discretion of the Court. (People v. Hidalgo, [CA] G.R. No. 00452-CR, Jan. 22, 1962).

i. Those who are already serving final judgment upon the approval of the Indeterminate Sentence Law.
The need for specifying the minimum and maximum periods of the indeterminate sentence is to prevent the unnecessary and excessive deprivation of liberty and to enhance the economic usefulness of the accused, since he may be exempted from serving the entire sentence, depending upon his behavior and his physical, mental, and moral record. The requirement of imposing an indeterminate sentence in all criminal offenses whether punishable by the or by special laws, with definite minimum and maximum terms, as the Court deems proper within the legal range of the penalty specified by the law must, therefore, be deemed mandatory.[30]

Accordingly, the proper penalty to be imposed upon the accused should be an indeterminate penalty which is hereby set at twenty (20) years as minimum to twenty-five (25) years as maximum.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED, and the decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED with the modification that petitioners are hereby sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment ranging from twenty (20) years as minimum to twenty-five (25) years as maximum.

Narvasa, C.J., (Chairman), Romero, and Purisima, JJ., concur.

[1] Penned by Mabutas, Jr., J.; De Pano, Jr., P.J., and Luna, J., concurring.

[2] Presided by Judge David A. Alfeche, Jr.

[3] Rollo, pp. 70-71.

[4] Id., at 73.

[5] Id., at 74-76.

[6] Id., at 76-78.

[7] Fishing with the use of explosives means the use of dynamite, other explosives, or chemical compound that contains combustible elements or ingredients that upon ignition by friction, concussion, percussion, or detonation of all or parts of the compound; kill, stupefy, disable or render unconscious any fish or fishery/aquatic product. It shall also refer to the use of any other substance and/or device that causes explosion capable of producing the said harmful effects on fish or fishery/aquatic products. [Sec. 3 (l), P.D. No. 704, as amended.]

[8] Fishing with the use of obnoxious or poisonous substance means the use of any substance, plants, extracts or juice thereof, chemicals, whether in raw or processed form, harmful or harmless to human beings, which kill, stupefy, disable or render unconscious fish or fishery/aquatic products. [Sec. 3 (m), P.D. No. 704, as amended.]

[9] Electro fishing means the use of electricity generated by dry-cell batteries, electric generators or other sources of electric power to kill, stupefy, disable or render unconscious fish or fishery/aquatic products in both fresh and salt water areas. [Sec. 3 (d), P.D. No. 704, as amended.]

[10] 265 SCRA 517 (1996).

[11] Exhibit “A;” emphasis ours.

[12] TSN, 17 January 1991.

[13] TSN, January 29, 1991, p. 26; underscoring supplied.

[14] Rollo, pp. 64-67.

[15] Hizon vs. Court of Appeals, supra, note 7.

[16] Rollo, p. 16.

[17] Id., at 15.

[18] TSN, 23 January 1991, p. 9.

[19] People vs. Pajaro, 265 SCRA 668 (1996); People vs. Perez, 265 SCRA 506 (1996); People vs. Balisnomo, 265 SCRA 98 (1996); People vs. Leoterio, 264 SCRA 608 (1996); People vs. Paredes, 264 SCRA 578 (1996); People vs. De Gracia, 264 SCRA 200 (1996).

[20] Rollo, p. 14.

[21] TSN, January 17, 1991, p. 19.

[22] Rollo., pp. 13-14.

[23] TSN, March 13, 1991, p. 8.

[24] Id., at 15.

[25] People vs. Inocencio, 229 SCRA 517 (1994).

[26] Sec. 38 (a) (1), P.D. No. 704, as amended by P.D. No. 1058.

[27] Sec. 1, Act No. 4103, as amended by Act No. 4225. Cf. People vs. Viente, 225 SCRA 361 (1993).

[28] Rollo, p. 48.

[29] 271 SCRA 328 (1997).

[30] Id., at 339-340. Underscoring supplied.

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