Appellants Samuel Mahusay and Cristituto Paspos, along with Felomino Galo, Alfredo Mendio, Justiniano Velacsi (at large), and Tanciong Egloba (at large), were charged with the crime of robbery with rape and physical injuries in Criminal Case No. N-1283 before the Regional Trial Court of Naval, Subprovince of Biliran, Leyte, Branch 16, under an information 1 dated July 19, 1988, which reads as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"That on or about the 19th day of April, 1988, in the Municipality of San Isidro, Province of Leyte, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring and confederating together and mutually helping one another, armed with deadly weapons, with intent of gain and by means of force, violence and intimidation on the person, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously rob, take and carry away:chanrobles.com:cralaw:red
1. Cash money P12,000.00
2. Wallclock 500.00 (Silclox Quartz brand)
3. Ring 250.00
4. Fighting cock 100.00
5. Long bolo 50.00
to the damage and prejudice to (sic) the said Troadio Bughao in the aforesaid amount; and on the occasion thereof, did, then and there box, maul and manhandle Troadio Bughao and Manuelito Brignas and through force, violence and intimidation wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge with Marilou Bughao against her will in their own dwelling to their damage and prejudice.
That aggravating circumstances of nighttime and by a band are attendant in the commission of this offense.
CONTRARY TO LAW."cralaw virtua1aw library
The facts, as found by the trial court, are as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
On April 19, 1988, at around 6:45 o’clock p.m., six armed men barged into the Bughao residence and introduced themselves as members of the New People’s Army. After extinguishing the three oil lamps inside the house, they tied the arms and feet of Troadio Bughao, his wife and househelper Esmarlita Paspos, who is the sister of appellant Paspos. The group split in two, ransacked the cabinets, and cleaned out the premises of every valuable item they could carry.
Bughao’s daughter Maria Luisa (a.k.a., Marilou) was brought upstairs by three men who successively ravished her. She recounted that when she was being violated, a flashlight was focused on her face, thus, giving her ample illumination and enabling her to look intently at one of her assailants. She, however, failed to identify the other two because she fainted in the course of the ordeal she underwent.
Esmarlita Paspos, on the other hand, testified that she immediately recognized one of the men as her brother Cristituto, the only malefactor wearing a mask, through his movements and physical features. She likewise identified Mahusay and Mendio as the persons who ordered her to serve food.
The following day, the incident was reported to the police. A police team 2 from the Integrated National Police Station of San Isidro, Leyte led by Sgt. Manuel Bughao was promptly dispatched to Sitio Sumakab, Barangay Inangatan, Tabango, Leyte to arrest the suspects. The police were able to recover from them a wall clock, cash amounting to P1,445.00, a ring and two caliber .38 paltik revolvers.
During the investigation, appellants allegedly admitted responsibility for the crime charged. Considering, however, that the searching inquiry was done without the assistance of counsel, the trial court correctly disregarded the same.
Appellants, on the other hand, invoke alibi as their defense.
On April 17, 1988, Mahusay and Mendio, both drivers and residents of Navotas, Metro Manila, alleged that they went on a trip to Medellin, Cebu to visit the former’s uncle, Elezer Cuyaco. Three days later, or on April 20, 1988, they departed for San Isidro, Leyte to attend a fiesta. With them on the pumpboat was Galo whom Mahusay came to know in a dance in his brief stay in Cebu. Galo was apparently instructed by his aunt to go to San Isidro to collect a P660.00 debt from Paspos.
Arriving in San Isidro at noon of April 20th, they repaired to the house of Paspos who served them steamed bananas. While resting and conversing with one another, four policemen suddenly pounced upon them and brought them to the police station where they were allegedly maltreated and illegally detained for two months.
After trial on the merits, Galo was acquitted of the crime charged while Mahusay, Paspos and Mendio were proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a decision by the trial court, 3 the dispositive portion of which reads:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court finds the accused Samuel Mahusay, Alfredo Mendio and Cristituto Paspos, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Robbery with Rape defined and penalized under article 294 (2) of the Revised Penal Code and sentences them to suffer and undergo imprisonment of reclusion perpetua
; to indemnify Maria Luisa Bughao P20,000.00 jointly and severally without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency and each to pay one third of the costs.
They are credited with the full period of their preventive detention.
Accused Felomino Galo is ACQUITTED on reasonable doubt. He is ordered released immediately unless he has been convicted or stands charged of any other offense which would warrant his continued detention.
Exhibits ‘D’ the solclox (sic) quartz, ‘F’ and ‘F-1’ the rings and ‘E’ to ‘E-18’ the P1,445 cash are ordered returned to Troadio and Maria Luisa Bughao." 4
Of the three convicted felons, only Mahusay and Paspos filed a notice of appeal.
Appellants contend that the trial court erred in ruling that their apprehension was valid and that their guilt was proved beyond reasonable doubt.
At the outset, we note that the court a quo erroneously declared that appellants were apprehended in "hot pursuit," thus, negating the need for the issuance of warrants of arrest. hi view thereof, it is imperative for the Court to once again explain the requisites of a valid warrantless arrest under Rule 113, Section 5(b) of the Rules on Criminal Procedure which provides:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"Section 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. — A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense;
(b) 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;
(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.
x x x"
Under Section 5(b) of the aforequoted rule, two conditions must concur for a warrantless arrest to be valid: first, the person to be arrested must have just committed an offense, and second, the arresting peace officer or private person must have personal knowledge of facts indicating that the person to be arrested is the one who committed the offense. 5 It has been ruled that "personal knowledge of facts" in arrests without a warrant must be based upon probable cause, which means an actual belief or reasonable grounds of suspicion. 6
In the case at bar, appellants were arrested on the sole basis of Bughao’s verbal report. The arresting officers were led to suspect that, indeed, appellants had committed a crime. Thus, the arrest was made in violation of their fundamental right against an unjustified warrantless arrest. This notwithstanding, appellants cannot find comfort solely in this error.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
The Court has ruled on several occasions that "any objection involving a warrant of arrest or the procedure in the acquisition by the court of jurisdiction over the person of an accused must be made before he enters his plea, otherwise the objection is deemed waived." 7 Indeed, it is too late for appellants to raise the question of their arrest. "When appellants were arrested and a case was filed against them, they pleaded not guilty upon arraignment, participated in the trial and presented their respective evidence. Appellants are thus estopped from questioning the legality of their arrest." 8 At the outset, appellants should have "moved for the quashal of the information before the trial court on this ground." 9 Accordingly, any irregularity in their arrest was cured when they voluntarily submitted themselves to the jurisdiction of the trial court.
Undoubtedly, the prosecution had credible witnesses to support the conviction of appellants. Bughao’s categorical, straightforward and spontaneous testimony imputing to appellants the crime charged is buttressed by the fact that they have not shown any plausible reason why the offended parties would charge them with an offense so grave and heinous as robbery with rape. Esmarlita Paspos’ positive identification of her brother Cristituto, Mahusay and Mendio as some of the malefactors certainly deserves credence because, as the one who served them food, she had the opportunity to observe at close range their faces.
Appellant Paspos challenged Bughao’s assertion that it was the former whom he saw that fateful night because the man whom the latter saw was wearing a mask. When the robbery was in progress, however, Bughao immediately knew it was Paspos, the latter being his neighbor and a son of his tenant. This finding was even corroborated by Esmarlita when she whispered to Bughao that one of them was her brother Cristituto. Notably, the latter was the only one in disguise without which he would have been more easily recognized by the Bughao family. "It is a rule that appellants’ denial of culpability cannot be given greater evidentiary weight than the positive declaration of a credible witness who testified on affirmative matters." 10
Maria Luisa testified that she was slapped and struck with the butt of a gun which produced contusions on her face, lips and neck. While she was on the bed with her hands tied behind her, Mahusay mounted her and forced her legs apart using his hands and legs while his two unidentified companions stood guard at the door. After Mahusay, the other two took turns in raping her.
She maintained that although appellants extinguished the oil lamps, she managed to recognize Mahusay from the illumination shed by the flashlight he carried. She, however, failed to positively identify the other two since she felt so weakened while being ravished.
Appellants were convicted of robbery with rape under the conspiracy theory where the act of one may be imputed to all of the conspirators. It is well-settled that conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it. 11 Proof of the agreement need not rest on direct evidence, as the same may be inferred from the conduct of the parties indicating a common understanding among them with respect to the commission of the offense. The rule is that conviction is proper upon proof that the accused acted in concert, each of them doing his part in the commission of the offense. 12 In such a case, the act of one becomes the act of all and each of the accused will thereby be deemed equally guilty of the crime committed. 13
In the case at bar, the concerted acts of the appellants reveal a common criminal intent indicative of conspiracy. They arrived together at the scene of the crime and simultaneously ransacked the place searching for money. While they were robbing and tormenting the entire Bughao family, three members of the group were upstairs successively assaulting Maria Luisa’s unsullied virtue. They likewise departed hastily from the scene of the crime. Evidently, these acts manifest their "joint purpose, concert of action and community of interest." 14
Accordingly, conspiracy having been established, appellants are liable as co-principals because in contemplation of law, the act of one is the act of all.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the appeal is DISMISSED and the decision of the trial court finding appellants Samuel Mahusay and Cristituto Paspos guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of robbery with rape is hereby AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that appellants shall each suffer three (3) terms of reclusion perpetua
. In line with recent jurisprudence, 15 appellants are ordered to indemnify Maria Luisa Bughao in the amount of P50,000.00 each as indemnity. Costs against appellants.chanroblesvirtual|awlibrary
Melo, Francisco and Panganiban, JJ.
, is on leave.
1. Rollo, pp. 6-7.
2. Pfc. Benjamin Piamonte Jr., Pfc. Rogelio Larada, and Pfc. Leopoldo Latag.
3. Penned by Judge Adriano R. Villamor.
4. Rollo, p. 18.
5. Umil v. Ramos, 202 SCRA 251 (1991).
6. U .S. v. Santos, 36 Phil 851.
7. People v. Codilla, 224 SCRA 104 (1993); People v. Rivera, 245 SCRA 421 (1995).
8. People v. Lopez, Jr., 245 SCRA 95 (1995).
10. People v. Lopez, Jr., 245 SCRA 95 (1995); People v. Villanueva, 242 SCRA 47 (1995).
11. Article 8, Revised Penal Code.
12. People v. Quinao, G.R. No. 108454, March 13, 1997; People v. Cordero, 263 SCRA 122 (1996).
13. People v. Gundran, 228 SCRA 583 (1993).
14. People v. Compil, 244 SCRA 135 (1995).
15. People v. Malabago, G.R. No. 108693, April 18, 1997; People v. Romua, G.R. No. 126175, May 29, 1997.