People v. Alcanzado : 138335 : May 20, 2004 : J. Austria-Martinez :
Second Division : Decision
[G.R. NO. 138335 : May 20, 2004]
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
Appellee, v. OSCAR ALCANZADO, Appellant.
D E C I S I O N
Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing the decision1 dated April 5, 1999 issued by the Regional Trial Court (Branch 66) of Makati
City (RTC for brevity) in Criminal Case No. 98-1634, the dispositive portion of
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, judgment is hereby rendered finding
accused OSCAR ALCANZADO y ORQUEZA GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of MURDER,
with the qualifying circumstance of treachery, and the Court hereby sentences
him to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua and to pay the heirs of the
unidentified victim the sum of
P50,000.00 as moral damages.
City, Metro Manila,
April 5, 1999.2 cralawred
However, a careful examination of the records reveals that the
assailed decision will have to be set aside and the records remanded back to
the RTC for reception of evidence for the defense.
Appellant pleaded not guilty during his arraignment on July 30, 1998.Trial on the merits ensued.The prosecution rested its case on October 13, 1998.3 Upon motion of appellant, the RTC issued an Order dated November 10, 1998 allowing appellant to file a
demurrer to evidence.4 On November 19, 1998,
appellant filed his Demurrer to Evidence5 which was opposed by the prosecution.6 On April 22, 1999, the RTC
promulgated herein assailed decision convicting appellant.7 cralawred
The RTC committed a very serious error in promulgating a decision
after denying the demurrer to evidence filed by appellant upon prior leave of
court, without first giving appellant the opportunity to present his evidence.
Section 15, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court provides:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
SEC. 15.Demurrer to evidence. After the
prosecution has rested its case, the court may dismiss the case on the ground
of insufficiency of evidence: (1) on its own initiative after giving the
prosecution an opportunity to be heard; or (2) on motion of the accused filed
with prior leave of court.
If the court denies the motion for dismissal, the accused may
adduce evidence in his defense.When the
accused filed such motion to dismiss without express leave of court, he waives
the right to present evidence and submits the case for judgment on the basis of
the evidence for the prosecution.
Contrary to the RTCs assertion in its decision that the demurrer
to evidence was denied,8 the records of the case do not reveal that there was any prior order denying
appellants demurrer to evidence before the rendition of the assailed
judgment.Evidently, the trial court
violated the aforequoted provisions of Section 15, Rule 119.Appellant had filed a motion for leave to
file a demurrer to evidence which was granted by the RTC and therefore upon
denial of his demurrer, if indeed it was denied, the trial court should have
given appellant the opportunity to present his evidence.Equally astonishing is the fact that
appellants counsel did not raise said irregularity as an issue in the RTC or
in this Court.In effect, appellant has
not been accorded due process.
Due to the procedural unfairness and complete miscarriage of
justice in the handling of the proceedings in the RTC,9 a
remand of the case for reception of defense evidence is warranted.The constitutional right of the accused to be
heard on his defense has been violated.10 cralawred
So that appellant may be spared from further delay, the Court
deems it necessary to treat the herein assailed judgment as a mere resolution
denying the demurrer to evidence and ascertain whether the RTC has committed
grave abuse of discretion in not granting the same.
The RTC made the following findings of fact and law, viz:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
In brief, the evidence for the prosecution show that on the early
morning of June 17, 1998, the Barangay Tanods of Bel-Air, while on duty, which
is adjacent to TGIF American Bar, heard two (2) shots; when they investigated
they found a dead body of the victim with two (2) gunshot wounds inside
the storeroom of TGIF being guarded by the accused.The accused, who was the security guard of
the TGIF, surrendered his service firearm (Exhibit D) to policeman Bagon which
was found to have spent two (2) spent shells.The ballistic report states that the two
(2) spent shells were fired from the gun surrendered by the accused to
The accused opted to file demurrer to evidence which was denied by
the Court, instead of testifying and could have explained what really happened
and why he surrendered his service firearm.
The Court finds the presence of a qualifying circumstance of
treachery, when the accused fired at the victim one on his shoulder and another
at his head in close range (TSN dated October 13, 1998, p. 36). 11 cralawred
There was no eye-witness to the shooting incident.The RTC relied principally on the admission
of appellant to the police officer that he shot the unknown victim when he
surrendered his service firearm.
In his demurrer to evidence, appellant pointed out the following:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
I.There is no evidence
that the firearm marked and offered as Exhibit D belonged or was assigned to
II.There is no evidence
that the accused had recently fired a gun in the early morning of June 17, 1998.
III.There is no evidence
that the firearm marked and offered as Exhibit D was the same firearm that
killed the unknown victim in this case.
IV.There is reasonable doubt
that the body examined by the medico-legal witness was the same body recovered
from the scene of the killing.
V. The extrajudicial
admission made by the accused to the police officer and his alleged voluntary
surrender of the .38 caliber revolver cannot be admitted in evidence against
the accused for having been obtained in violation of his constitutional rights.
VI.Without any admission
on the part of the accused or an unbroken chain of incriminating circumstances,
the accused is entitled to acquittal since the prosecution failed to prove his
culpability for the death of the unknown victim here beyond a reasonable doubt.12 cralawred
Considering that the first four items as above enumerated involve
questions of fact, the Court will not pre-empt the RTC in rendering its
findings of fact after it shall have received the defense evidence as well as
rebuttal and sur-rebuttal evidence, if parties find it necessary.
However, the Court is constrained to resolve the question arising
from the fifth and sixth claims of appellant, which is:Whether or not the admission made by
appellant to the police officer is admissible in evidence.It is the only link that would positively
connect appellant to the shooting of the victim, for the service gun may belong
to him and it may have been used in the shooting of the victim, but the missing
link is the ascertainment of whether he was the one who shot the victim.Without the testimony of the police officer
that appellant had verbally acknowledged to him having shot the victim, the herein-before
quoted circumstantial evidence enumerated by the RTC do not support the
conviction of appellant beyond reasonable doubt.
Section 12 (1) and (3),
Article III of the 1987 Constitution
Section 12.(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.The rights cannot be waived except in writing
and in the presence of counsel.
(3) Any confession or
admission obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be
inadmissible in evidence against him.
The rights of the accused as provided therein may be invoked only
when a person is under custodial investigation or is in custody
investigation13 which has been defined as the
questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a person has been
taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any
significant way [People v. Caguioa, G.R. No. L-38975, January 17, 1980, 95
SCRA 2, 9 citing Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436].14 cralawred
SPO1 Rolando Bagon, the police officer of Precinct 9, Makati
City, who responded to the report
of the shooting incident, testified as follows:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
Q: What time did you arrive
there at TGI Fridays Restaurant?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
A: When we arrived there it
was at around 5:15 to 6:00.
A: June 17, Sir.
Q: When you arrived there,
what did you do, Mr. Witness?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
A: The barangay tanod
present at that time pointed to us and turned over to us the alleged suspect
who is the security guard of the said establishment then we went to the
security guard and he voluntarily surrendered himself to us, together with the
firearm, a .38 caliber.
Q: What did he tell you when
he surrendered and gave to you his .38 caliber Mr. Witness?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
A: That he allegedly hold (sic) a robber inside while stealing according
to him a cash register of the bar and some assorted goods.
Q: Who told you that?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
A: The security guard, the
alleged suspect Sir.
Q: What else did he tell
A: Nothing Sir, he fired
his gun at the victim.
Q: After the said accused surrendered
himself and his firearm, what else did you do at the said bar?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
A: Sir, we invited him to
our precinct to shed light or to answer what he committed.15 (Emphasis supplied).
and, on his cross-examination, he
testified as follows:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
Q: Is it not true that when
the accused Oscar Alcanzado in this case approached you, he was not evasive and
that he voluntarily turned over the firearm and his person to you?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
A: Yes, Sir.16 cralawred
The cross-examination of homicide investigator PO2 Rio S. Bucalan
who proceeded to the shooting incident, revealed the following:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
Q: Mr. Witness, when you
arrived at the scene of the incident in questioned in this case, is it correct
to say that you conducted the investigation right there and then?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
A: Yes sir.
And at that scene at that time was the
accused in this case, Osca Alcanzado, is that correct?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
Mr. Witness, isnt it also true that at
that time you conducted an investigation you spoke with the accused in this
And when you spoke to the accused, did you
tell him about his right to remain silent and his right to counsel?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
He is not still turn-over to me by the
Mr. Witness, so at that time that you
conducted your investigation, you spoke to the accused?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
And did you tell him about his right to
remain silent and his right to counsel?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
In fact I dont know that he is the accused
during my initial inquiry.
But you knew that he was a Security Guard?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
And so could you tell us what happened when
you talked to him?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
the initial inquiry he claimed that. .. . he verbally claimed that he shot
the victim because of self-defense.
He claimed that he shot the victim?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
Yes, Your Honor.
And this was in the course of your
And the accused in this case, did not
execute any written waiver of his right to remain silent, is that correct?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
And also the accused in this case did not
execute any written waiver of his right to counsel, is that correct?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
What do you mean no?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
He did not execute, sir.
And it is also correct that the time he was
talking to you there was no lawyer present assisting the accused, is that
Yes sir.17 cralawred
Under the above circumstances, the Court finds that while the
admission made by appellant to PO2 Bucalan may not be admitted in evidence
considering that the alleged verbal admission made by appellant before him as
homicide investigator was made without appellant being informed of his right to
remain silent and right to counsel and after appellant had been established as
the suspect by the police officers who had arrived at the scene of the crime
before PO2 Bucalan came.
However, the Court cannot disregard the testimony of SPO1 Bagon
who, together with his co-police officers, responded to the call of the
barangay tanod and immediately upon his arrival, appellant spontaneously told
him that he had shot the victim.This
particular admission was made when appellant has not been taken into custody by
the police officers and therefore admissible in evidence.The constitutional procedures on custodial
investigation do not apply to a spontaneous statement not elicited through
questioning by the authoritiesbut given
in an ordinarymanner whereby the
accused readily admitted having committed the crime.18 cralawred
Consequently, for purposes of determining whether the demurrer to
evidence should have been granted, the connection between the service gun and
appellant as the perpetrator of the shooting, without any countervailing
evidence, had been sufficiently established.Thus, the RTC did not commit any grave abuse of discretion in denying
the demurrer to evidence BUT it committed grave abuse of discretion in
outrightly convicting appellant of the crime of murder and sentencing him to
suffer reclusion perpetua when
appellant has not been given the opportunity to adduce evidence in his defense,
pursuant to Section 15, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court.
Further, the attendant justifying, mitigating or aggravating
circumstance such as self-defense, treachery and voluntary surrender could only
be ascertained fully after the defense evidence, rebuttal and sur-rebuttal, if
any, shall have been adduced and evaluated by the RTC in the rendition of its
judgment on the case.
Had Presiding Judge Rosario, Jr. not compulsorily retired from
the Judiciary, he could have been admonished to be more circumspect in the
performance of his duties.
petition is GRANTED.The decision dated April 5, 1999 of the Regional Trial
Court (Branch 66),
is SET ASIDE for being null and void.Let the records of Criminal Case No. 98-1634 be remanded to said trial
court for reception of defense evidence and further proceedings.The presiding judge is directed to conduct
the trial of the case and render judgment thereon with immediate dispatch.
Quisumbing, (Acting Chairman),
Callejo, Sr., and TINGA, JJ., concur.
Puno, (Chairman), J., on
1 Penned by Judge Eriberto U. Rosario, Jr..
3 TSN, October 13, 1998, pp.
14 People v. Loveria, 187 SCRA 47, 61 (1990).
15 TSN, October 1, 1998, pp.
17 TSN, October 8, 1998, pp.
26-27, 29-30, 31-35.
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