480 Phil. 585
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is hereby DENIED. The Decision of the Sandiganbayan in Criminal Case No., dated July 5, 2001 finding petitioner BENITO ASTORGA guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Arbitrary Detention and sentencing him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of four (4) months of arresto mayor, as minimum, to one (1) year and eight (8) months of prision correccional, as maximum, is AFFIRMED in toto.Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration, which was denied with finality on January 12, 2004. Petitioner then filed an “Urgent Motion for Leave to File Second Motion for Reconsideration” with attached “Motion for Reconsideration,” wherein he makes the following submissions:
Costs de oficio.
Subsequently, petitioner filed a Supplement to the Second Motion for Reconsideration.
- THE ARMED MEN WERE NOT SUMMONED BY PETITIONER FOR THE PURPOSE OF DETAINING THE PRIVATE OFFENDED PARTIES;
- THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT THE SUPPOSED VICTIMS INSISTED ON LEAVING THE PLACE WHERE THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO BE DETAINED;
- THE SUPPOSED VICTIMS THEMSELVES HAVE DECLARED THE INNOCENCE OF THE PETITIONER;
- CRIMINAL INTENT ON THE PART OF THE ACCUSED IS CLEARLY WANTING IN THE INSTANT CASE.
The rules of procedure are merely tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice. They were conceived and promulgated to effectively aid the court in the dispensation of justice. Courts are not slaves to or robots of technical rules, shorn of judicial discretion. In rendering justice, courts have always been, as they ought to be, conscientiously guided by the norm that on the balance, technicalities take a backseat against substantive rights, and not the other way around. Thus, if the application of the Rules would tend to frustrate rather than promote justice, it is always within our power to suspend the rules, or except a particular case from its operation.The elements of the crime of Arbitrary Detention are:
The determinative factor in Arbitrary Detention, in the absence of actual physical restraint, is fear. After a careful review of the evidence on record, we find no proof that petitioner instilled fear in the minds of the private offended parties.
- That the offender is a public officer or employee.
- That he detains a person.
- That the detention is without legal grounds.
The testimonial evidence likewise shows that there was no actual restraint imposed on the private offended parties. SPO1 Capoquian in fact testified that they were free to leave the house and roam around the barangay. Furthermore, he admitted that it was raining at that time. Hence, it is possible that petitioner prevented the team from leaving the island because it was unsafe for them to travel by boat.
ATTY. JUMAMIL: q After Bagacay you arrived in what barangay in Daram? a We were on our way to Barangay Sta. Rita in Daram but on our way we saw a boat being constructed there so we proceeded to Barangay Lucodlucod (sic). q And you arrived at 5:00 o’clock? a Yes sir. q And you left at 2:00 o’clock in the morning of September 2? a Yes sir. q And you ate dinner between 5:00 o’clock to 2:00 o’clock in the morning of September 2, is that correct? a Yes sir. Mayor Astorga told us let us have dinner. q And Mayor Astorga brought you to a house where you had dinner? a Yes sir. q And of course you also partook of wine? a I know they had wine but with respect to us we had no wine sir. xxx xxx xxx AJ NARIO: q While you were taking your dinner from 7 to 8:00 o’clock Mayor Astorga was with you having dinner? a Yes Your Honor. q You did not hear the conversation between the Mayor and the foresters, the complainants here? a I could not hear anything important because they were just laughing. xxx xxx xxx AJ PALATTAO: q And then according to you there was laughter what was the cause of this laughter? a Probably they were talking of something humorous.
Mr. Elpidio Simon, one of the private offended parties, took the witness stand on August 16, 2000 but did not complete his testimony-in-chief due to lack of material time. His testimony only covered preliminary matters and did not touch on the circumstances of the alleged detention.
ATTY. JUMAMIL: q It was raining at that time, is that correct? a Yes sir it was raining. q And the weather was not good for motorized travel at that particular time that you were in Lucoblucob, Daram? a I know it is raining but I could not say that you could not travel. q What was the condition of the sea at that time when you were in Lucoblucob? a The sea was good in fact we did not get wet and there were no waves at that time. q But it was raining the whole day? a It was not raining at the day but after we ate in the evening it rained. q It was raining hard in fact after 8:00 p.m. up to 1:00 o’clock in the morning is that correct? a A little bit hard I don’t know when the rain stopped, sir. q It is possible that it rain.. the rain stopped at 1:00 o’clock in the morning of September 2? a I don’t remember sir. xxx xxx xxx AJ PALATTAO: q Were you told not to go away from the place? a No Your Honor. q Up to what point did you reach when you were allegedly prevented to go somewhere? a They did not say anything sir. q Where did you go after that? a Just down until it rained. q If you want to go, let us say, you want to leave that place, on your part, was there somebody prevented you to go to another place? a I don’t know Your Honor. q But on your part can you just leave that place or somebody will prevent you to go somewhere else? a What I felt I will not be able to leave because we were already told not to leave the barangay. q In other words, you can go places in that barangay but you are not supposed to leave that barangay, is this Barangay Daram? a Barangay Lucoblucob, Your Honor. q On your part according to you you can go places if you want although in your impression you cannot leave the barangay. How about the other companions like Mr. Simon, Cruz and Maniscan, can they leave the place? a No Your Honor. q Why are you very positive that in your case you can leave but in the case of those I have enumerated they cannot, why? a If only in that barangay we can leave, Your Honor.
Thereafter, the private offended parties did not appear anymore in court to testify. This notwithstanding, the Sandiganbayan convicted petitioner of the crime of Arbitrary Detention on the basis of the testimonies of SPO1 Capoquian and SPO3 Cinco, the police escorts of the DENR Team.
xxx xxx xxx;
- That what transpired may have been caused by human limitation aggravated by the exhaustion of the team in scouring the shores of the small islands of Samar for several days. Mayor Benito Astorga may have also been confronted with the same predicament, hence our confrontation resulted to a heated argument and the eventual misunderstanding;
- Considering that he is the local Chief Executive of the Municipality of Daram, Samar our respect for him prevailed when he ordered us to take dinner with him and other local residents thereat, so we capitulated whose invitation was misinterpreted by us;
- That thereafter, a natural and spontaneous conversation between the team and the group of Mayor Astorga during the dinner and we were eventually allowed to leave Daram, Samar;
- That upon our return to our respective official stations we reported the incident to our supervisors who required us to submit our affidavit;
- That at present our differences had already been reconciled and both parties had already express apologies and are personally no longer interested to pursue the case against the Mayor, hence, this affidavit of desistance;
xxx xxx xxx.