405 Phil. 125
"That on or about September 16, 1997 in the municipality of Cavinti, province of Laguna and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused by means force and intimidation and with lewd designs, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge with one NAIRUBE J. RAMOS, an eight-year old girl, against her will and by reason or on the same occasion and in order to hide the crime he just committed, dump the victim in the grassy coconut plantation area, which resulted in her death due to shock secondary to vulvar laceration committed on her by the herein accused, to the damage and prejudice of the surviving heirs of the victim."Upon arraignment, the accused with the assistance of counsel entered a plea of not guilty. Thereafter, trial ensued.
"WHEREFORE, IN THE LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, this Court finds the accused CLEMENTE JOHN LUGOD GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT of the special complex crime of RAPE WITH HOMICIDE under Section 11 of Republic Act No. 7659, otherwise known as the Death Penalty Law, amending Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code and hereby sentences him to suffer the SUPREME PENALTY OF DEATH. Accused is also ordered to indemnify the heirs of the victim, NAIRUBE RAMOS the sum of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity for her death and P37,200.00 as actual damages.In view of the imposition of the death penalty, the case is now before this Court on automatic review.
The accused is further ordered to pay the cost of the instant suit.
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING ACCUSED-APPELLANT ON THE BASIS OF CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE WHICH DID NOT PROVE WITH MORAL CERTAINTY THAT HE WAS THE PERPETRATOR OF THE CRIME CHARGED.In support of his appeal, accused-appellant submits that the evidence presented by the prosecution fails to establish that he raped and killed Nairube Ramos beyond reasonable doubt. The prosecution did not present any direct evidence to inculpate him in the commission of the crime. Neither did the prosecution present circumstantial evidence sufficient to establish his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Moreover, accused-appellant claims that the alleged confession he made to the vice-mayor was not a confession. He prays that the judgment of conviction of the RTC be reversed and that he be acquitted of the crime charged.
THE COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT APPELLANT CONFESSED HIS GUILT BEFORE THE VICE-MAYOR, WHICH CONFESSION IS ADMISSIBLE AS IT WAS NOT MADE IN RESPONSE TO ANY INTERROGATION.
"(1) In the evening of September 15, 1997, Accused CLEMENTE JOHN LUGOD wearing a pair of slippers and black T-shirt, had a drinking spree with the son of Pedro dela Torre outside their house at Udia, Cavinti, Laguna;There is no question that at the time of his apprehension, accused-appellant was already placed under arrest and was suspected of having something to do with the disappearance of Nairube. In fact, the lower court declared that accused-appellant's warrantless arrest was valid based on Section 5 (b) of Rule 113 of the Rules of Court. However, at the time of his arrest, the apprehending officers did not inform the accused-appellant and in fact acted in a blatant and wanton disregard of his constitutional rights specified in Section 12, Article III of the Constitution, which provides:
(2) On the same evening, accused wearing the same pair of slippers and black T-shirt and under the influence of liquor, entered the house of VIOLETA CABUHAT without her consent;
(3) On the same evening, LORETO VELORIA saw accused wearing the same pair of slippers and black T-shirt;
(4) At about 12:30 in the early morning of September 16, 1997, father of the victim noticed somebody going downstairs of their house;
(5) The pair of slippers were found near the door of the victim's house;
(6) The panty of the victim was found inside the premises of VILLA ANASTACIA at Cavinti, Laguna;
(7) In the early morning of September 16, 1997, Romualdo Ramos saw accused coming out of from VILLA ANASTACIA barefoot and half-naked;
(8) Accused pointed to RICARDO VIDA and SPO2 ANTONIO DECENA the place where the cadaver of the victim could be found;
(9) Accused confessed to the Mayor and the Vice-Mayor of Cavinti, Laguna, that he committed the offense imputed against him; and
(10) Almost all eyewitnesses for the Prosecution positively identified the accused in open court as CLEMENTE JOHN LUGOD."
Records reveal that accused-appellant was not informed of his right to remain silent and to counsel, and that if he cannot afford to have counsel of his choice, he would be provided with one. Moreover, there is no evidence to indicate that he intended to waive these rights. Besides, even if he did waive these rights, in order to be valid, the waiver must be made in writing and with the assistance of counsel. Consequently, the accused-appellant's act of confessing to SPO2 Gallardo that he raped and killed Nairube without the assistance of counsel cannot be used against him for having transgressed accused-appellant's rights under the Bill of Rights. This is a basic tenet of our Constitution which cannot be disregarded or ignored no matter how brutal the crime committed may be. In the same vein, the accused-appellant's act in pointing out the location of the body of Nairube was also elicited in violation of the accused-appellant's right to remain silent. The same was an integral part of the uncounselled confession and is considered a fruit of the poisonous tree. Thus, in People vs. De La Cruz, we ruled that:
(1) Any person under investigation for the commission of an offense shall have the right to be informed of his right to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel preferably of his own choice. If the person cannot afford the services of counsel, he must be provided with one. These rights cannot be waived except in writing and in the presence of counsel. (2) No torture, force, violence, threat, intimidation, or any other means which vitiate the free will shall be used against him. Secret detention places, solitary, incommunicado, or other similar forms of detention are prohibited. (3) Any confession or admission obtained in violation of this or Section 17 hereof shall be inadmissible in evidence against him. (4) The law shall provide for penal and civil sanctions for violations of this section as well as compensation to and rehabilitation of victims of torture or similar practices, and their families.
"Equally indmissible, for being integral parts of the uncouselled admission - or fruits of the poisonous tree - are the photographs of subsequent acts which the accused was made to do in order to obtain proof to support such admission or confession, such as (a) his digging in the place where Virginia Trangia was allegedly buried, (b) his retrieving of the bones discovered therein (c) his posing before a photographer while executing such acts."Even if we were to assume that accused-appellant was not yet under interrogation and thus not entitled to his constitutional rights at the time he was brought to the police station, the acts of accused-appellant subsequent to his apprehension cannot be characterized as having been voluntarily made considering the peculiar circumstances surrounding his detention. His confession was elicited by SPO2 Gallardo who promised him that he would help him if he told the truth. Furthermore, when accused-appellant allegedly pointed out the body of the victim, SPO2 Gallardo, the whole police force as well as nearly one hundred (100) of the townspeople of Cavinti escorted him there. Ricardo Vida stated that the townspeople were antagonistic towards accused-appellant and wanted to hurt him. The atmosphere from the time accused-appellant was apprehended and taken to the police station up until the time he was alleged to have pointed out the location of the body of the victim was highly intimidating and was not conducive to a spontaneous response. Amidst such a highly coercive atmosphere, accused-appellant's claim that he was beaten up and maltreated by the police officers raises a very serious doubt as to the voluntariness of his alleged confession. The Vice-Mayor, who testified that when he visited accused-appellant in the jail cell, he noticed that the accused-appellant had bruises on his face, corroborated accused-appellant's assertion that he was maltreated.
As can be seen from the testimony of the Vice-Mayor, accused-appellant merely responded to the ambiguous questions that the Vice-Mayor propounded to him. He did not state in certain and categorical terms that he raped and killed Nairube. In fact, the Vice-Mayor admitted that the accused-appellant did not tell him that he raped and killed Nairube. In addition, we note the contradiction between the testimony of the Vice-Mayor who stated that he was alone when he spoke to the accused-appellant and that of SPO2 Gallardo who claimed that he was present when accused-appellant confessed to the Mayor and Vice-Mayor.
"TRIAL PROSECUTOR; Q: More or less what time did you visit Clemente John Lugod in his cell? A: Between 3:30 and 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon, sir. Q: Do you have any companion at the time you visited Clemente John Lugod? A :Nobody, sir. Q :Tell us how you were able to visit him in the said cell? A: My first intention in visiting him was just to know him, sir. Q: Did anybody introduce to you Clemente John Lugod? A: A police officer called Clemente John Lugod, who was then lying inside the cell, sir. Q: What did the police officer say to Clemente John Lugod? A: The police officer said: "Lugod, the vice mayor wants to talk to you." TRIAL PROSECUTOR: Q: What did Lugod do if any when he was called by the police officer? A: He arose and he greeted me good afternoon, sir. Q: What happened after he greeted you good afternoon? A: I pitied him during that time, I asked him why he did that thing. COURT: Q: Did you specify to him what you mean by why he did such a thing? A: No, Your Honor, I merely asked him why was he able to do that. Q: Do you know if Lugod understood what you mean? A: I think he understood my question then, Your Honor. TRIAL PROSECUTOR: Q :What was the response of Clemente John Lugod when you asked him that question? A: He told me he was so drunk, he did not know what happened next. "Hindi niya namalayan na ganoon ang nangyari." Q: Did you ask him what he has done? WITNESS: A: I asked him why he went to that place, sir. TRIAL PROSECUTOR: Q: What place are you referring to? A: That house. I did not ask the specific place, what I was referring then was that house. Q :What was the response of Clemente John Lugod? A: He answered he thought of his two children, sir. Q: What about if he thought of his two children? A: According to him he planned to go back to Brgy. Layog where he left his children. Q: Did you ask him what he do (sic) in that place? A: I did not ask, sir. Q: What else did he tell you? A: I asked another question, sir. Q: What is that other question? A: I asked him if it was the mother whom he liked then, sir. Q: What was the answer? A: Allegedly not the mother, sir. TRIAL PROSECUTOR: Q: Did you ask him what did he do (sic) in that place? A: No more, sir. Q: What else did he tell you aside from what you have testified? A: No more, sir, I bid him goodbye. Q: Is Clemente John Lugod present in court? A: Yes, sir. Q Please point at him. A: (Witness going down of the witness stand and pointed to a person who when asked of his name answered Clemente John Lugod, the accused in this case). TRIAL PROSECUTOR: That will be all, Your Honor. COURT: Cross ATTY. DE RAMOS: With the permission of the Honorable Court? COURT: Proceed. ATTY. DERAMOS: Q: Vice mayor, when you visited John Lugod on September 19, 1997 at around 3:30 to 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon, you stated that he was lying in his cell, is that correct? A: Yes, sir. ATTY. DE RAMOS: Q: And the reason why the police officer called John Lugod is because you approached that police, is that correct? A: Yes, sir. Q: And you asked him where is John Lugod? A: Yes, sir. Q: Because you do not know John Lugod personally? A: Yes, sir. Q: When you were about to talk to John Lugod, was he still inside the cell or outside the cell? A: He was still inside the cell, sir. Q: So you are outside the cell? A: Yes, sir. Q: How about the police officer who called John Lugod? A: He was outside the cell, sir. Q: So the police officer who called John Lugod was present while you were conversing with John Lugod? A: No, sir, he was no longer present because after calling John Lugod he left. Q: What was John Lugod wearing at that time? WITNESS: A: I cannot remember anymore, sir.
ATTY. DE RAMOS:
But you can still remember his physical appearance at that time?
A: Yes, sir. Q: What was the physical appearance of Clemente John Lugod at that time? A: As far as I can recall it seemed that he had some bruises on his face (witness pointing to his lower jaw) COURT Q: Did you not ask him what happened to his face? A: No, sir. Q: Did it not occur to you to think in that appearance that there was something that happened? A: No, Your Honor, because my first intention was just to know him. Q: Did not the accused Clemente John Lugod inform you of any maltreatment done to him by the police officers? A: He did not say anything about that, Your Honor. Q: Did you not ask John Lugod whether somebody laid force on him? WITNESS: A: I was not able to ask that, Your Honor.
ATTY. DE RAMOS:
Q: Aside from bruises on his face did you notice any other bruises or wound on other parts of his body? A: No more, sir. Q: You stated earlier that you asked John Lugod why did you do that, tell the Court what was his response to your question? A: He said he was so drunk then, sir. Q: He did not tell you that he raped the victim and killed her? A: He did not say that, sir. Q: He did not directly answer your question because your question did not ask direct to something? A: Yes, sir."
Circumstantial evidence is sufficient to convict if the circumstances proven constitute an unbroken chain which lead to one fair and reasonable conclusion pointing to the accused, to the exclusion of all others, as the guilty person.
(a) There is more than one circumstance; (b) The facts from which the inferences are derived are proven; and (c) The combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt.
"Rubber or beach walk slippers are made in such quantities by multiple manufacturers that there must have been dozens if not hundreds of slippers of the same color, shape and size as the pair that Herminia gave to appellant's wife. And even if conclusive identification of the slippers had been offered, and it is assumed that appellant (rather than his wife) had worn those slippers on that fatal afternoon, still the presence of that singular slipper did not clearly and directly connect the appellant to the robbery or the slaying. At most, under that assumption, the presence of that slipper in the house of the Valencias showed that the accused had gone to the house of the Valencias and there mislaid the slipper. We note in this connection, that appellant himself had testified that he did enter the house of the Valencias that afternoon, but after the killing of Eulalia Diamse had been perpetrated, and there found many persons in the house viewing the body."Likewise, in People vs. Mijares, this Court ruled that the fact that the accused was the last person seen with the victim and that his slippers were found at the crime scene do not necessarily prove that he killed the victim. This Court stated that:
"That the appellant was the last person seen with the victim on the night she disappeared does not necessarily prove that he killed her. It was not established that appellant and the victim were together until the crime was committed. It was not even shown that the appellant proceeded to the crime scene, either by himself or together with the victim.WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the appealed Judgment dated October 8, 1998 of the Regional Trial Court of Santa Cruz, Laguna, Branch 28 in Criminal Case No. SC-6670 finding the accused, Clemente John Lugod alias "HONASAN", guilty of the crime of rape with homicide is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE and accused-appellant is ACQUITTED of the crime charged on the ground of reasonable doubt. He is ordered immediately RELEASED from confinement unless held for some other legal cause.
Likewise, the fact that the slippers which appellant borrowed from Elizabeth Oglos were found near the victim's dead body does not necessarily prove that he was the perpetrator of the crime. Even if we were to conjecture that appellant went to the locus criminis and inadvertently left them there, such supposition does not necessarily imply that he had committed the crime. Indeed, it was not established whether appellant went to the place before, during or after the commission of the crime, if at all. Moreover, the prosecution has not ruled out the possibility that the slippers may have been brought by another person to the crime scene, precisely to implicate him and thus exonerate the real culprit. Clearly, several antithetical propositions may be inferred from the presence of the slippers at the crime scene, and appellant's guilt is only one of them."
 People vs. Del Rosario, 305 SCRA 740, 758-759 .
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 in fact just been committed, and he has personal knowledge of facts indicating that the person to be arrested has committed it; and
(c) 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. In cases falling under paragraphs (a) and (b) hereof, the person arrested without a warrant shall be forthwith delivered to the nearest police station or jail, and he shall be proceeded against in accordance with Rule 112, Section 7."