G. R. No. 186472 : July 5, 2010
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee, v. ANTONIO SIONGCO y DELA CRUZ, ERIBERTO ENRIQUEZ y GEMSON, GEORGE HAYCO y CULLERA, and ALLAN BONSOL y PAZ, Accused, ANTONIO SIONGCO y DELA CRUZ and ALLAN BONSOL y PAZ, Appellants.
D E C I S I O N
the Court for review is the September 20, 2007 Decision1cralaw of the
Court of Appeals (CA), affirming the guilty verdict rendered by the Regional
Trial Court (RTC), Branch 166, Pasig City,2cralaw promulgated on November 6, 2000, against appellants Antonio Siongco (Siongco)
and Allan Bonsol (Bonsol), with
modification on the penalty imposed and the amount of damages to be paid to
their victim, Nikko Satimbre (Nikko).3cralaw This review is made, pursuant to the
pertinent provisions of Sections 3 and 10 of Rule 122 and Section 13 of Rule
124 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, as amended by A.M. No.
factual findings of both courts show that between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. of
December 27, 1998, 11-year-old Nikko, a resident of Balanga, Bataan, was
induced by Siongco to board a bus bound for Pilar, Bataan, together with the
latter's friends, Marion Boton (Boton) and Eriberto Enriquez (Enriquez).
was told that the
two would accompany him in getting the "Gameboy" that Siongco promised. Siongco
was no stranger to
as he used to be a
security guard at Footlockers shoe store where
's mother, Elvira Satimbre (Elvira),
works as a cashier. After a short stop in Pilar, Bataan, the three proceeded to
Bataan, where they met with George
Hayco (Hayco). The boy was then brought to Dinalupihan,
Bataan, where he was kept for the night.4cralaw
Elvira arrived home at 7:00 p.m. and found that her son was not there. She
searched for him in the places he frequented, but to no avail. As her continued
search for the childproved futile, she reported him missing
to the nearest police detachment.5cralaw
1998, Enriquez and Siongco took
to Bicutan, Taguig, Metro Manila.6cralaw On December 29, 1998, Elvira
received a phone call from a man, later identified as appellant Siongco, who
claimed to have custody of
and asked for
P400,000.00 in exchange for his liberty. Elvira haggled
with her son's captor until the latter agreed to reduce the ransom money to P300,000.00.
Elvira was also able to talk to her son who was only able to utter " Hello Ma " as Siongco immediately grabbed
the phone from him. Siongco warned Elvira to refrain from reporting the matter
to the police. He also threatened that
be killed if she fails to give the ransom money at 6:00 p.m. of the next day at
Genesis Bus Station in
City.7cralaw That night, Elvira telephoned the
Office of the Chief of Police of Balanga, Bataan and reported that
December 30, 1998, Enriquez and Siongco moved
to Pateros and cautioned him not to tell anybody that he was kidnapped. They
stayed at the house of Heracleo San Jose (Heracleo), a relative of Enriquez.
They again called Elvira who failed to keep her appointment with them in
She explained that she was still gathering funds for the ransom money. The captors
reiterated their threats and, at midnight, they called and instructed her to
proceed to Avenida with whatever available money she had, subject to a subsequent
agreement as to the balance. Elvira
refused and insisted that she preferred to give the amount in full.9cralaw
morning of December 31, 1998, Siongco called Elvira several times with the same
threats and demands. Elvira agreed to meet them that afternoon at the Genesis
Bus Station in
was allowed to speak with his mother
and he assured her that he was not being maltreated. After the call, Enriquez
that his mother wanted a "kaliwaan" (face to face exchange) deal. Soon
thereafter, Enriquez and Siongco left to meet Elvira, while
same day, Police Senior Inspector Rodolfo Azurin, Jr. (Police Senior Inspector
Azurin, Jr.) was on duty at Crimes Operation Division of the Philippine
Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) office in
Crame, Quezon City. At 11:00 a.m., Elvira arrived
and requested for assistance for the recovery of her kidnapped son. The PAOCTF
team then instructed her to bring to the pay-off site a brown envelope with a letter
asking for extension of payment. After
briefing, Azurin and other police operatives proceeded to Genesis Bus Station
City. While waiting for Elvira, they
noticed two (2) male persons, later identified as Enriquez and Siongco, restlessly
moving around the place. At around 2:30 p.m., Elvira arrived carrying the brown
envelope. As instructed by the kidnappers, she positioned herself near a tree
and tied a white kerchief around her neck. Shortly thereafter, Enriquez
approached Elvira and took the brown envelope from her. As he was walking away,
the PAOCTF team arrested him. Thereafter, they followed Siongco, who hurriedly
hailed a taxicab and sped away. Siongco was arrested at the residence of
Heracleo in Pateros where
was also rescued. Thereafter, Siongco and Enriquez were brought to
the two detainees, coupled with the follow-up operations of the PAOCTF, led to
the arrest of appellant Bonsol, and the other cohorts, Hayco and Boton.12cralaw
4, 1999, an Information13cralaw was filed in court, charging herein appellants Siongco and Bonsol, together
with Enriquez, Hayco, Boton, and a John
Doe, with KIDNAPPING and SERIOUS ILLEGAL DETENTION under Article 267 of the
Revised Penal Code.
Arraigned on February 24, 1999, the five accused
pleaded not guilty to the offense charged.14cralaw Trial then ensued; in the course
of which, the prosecution presented in evidence the oral testimonies of its
witnesses: 1) the victim himself, 11-year-old Nikko; 2) his mother, Elvira; 3)
Heracleo, relative of accused Enriquez; 4) Police Senior Inspector Azurin, Jr.
of the PAOCTF; and 5) Police Superintendent Paul Tucay, the one who arrested Bonsol, Hayco and Boton.15cralaw
the exception of Boton, all of the accused took the witness stand. Hayco and
Bonsol denied knowledge of and participation in the crime. Siongco testified
that, on December 27, 1998, he saw
at a " peryahan" in Balanga,
Bataan but he did not mind the boy as he was
busy conversing with Enriquez about their business of selling toys. He went to
and stayed at the
house of Heracleo on December 28 and 29, 1998 to collect installment payments
from customers. On
31, 1998, he went to his brother's house in
San Juan, Metro Manila and when he came back
to Pateros on the same day, he was arrested by PAOCTF agents.
voluntarily went with them. He affirmed that he travelled with
and Siongco to
They stayed in Bicutan and then moved to Pateros. He alleged that they called
's mother because
the boy kept asking for a "Gameboy.cralaw" He went to the Genesis Bus Station to meet
who, according to Siongco, would have something tied around her neck.16cralaw
rejected the denials and alibis raised by the accused and held that they
conspired and mutually helped one another in kidnapping and illegally detaining
by taking him through a circuitous journey
from Balanga, Bataan to
where ransom demands for his liberty were made.
In a decision
dated November 6, 2000, the RTC convicted Siongco, Bonsol, Enriquez and Hayco of
the offense charged in the Information and meted upon them the extreme penalty
of death. Boton was ACQUITTED on the ground of reasonable doubt. The pertinent
portion of the RTC decision reads:
WHEREFORE, the Court finds accused Antonio Siongco
y Dela Cruz, Eriberto Enriquez y Gemson, George Hayco y Cullera and Allan
Bonsol y Paz GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Kidnapping and
Serious Illegal Detention for the purpose of extorting ransom, as defined and
penalized under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 8
of R.A. 7659, and are hereby sentenced to suffer the Supreme penalty of Death and indemnify the victim, Nikko Satimbre,
and his mother, Elvira Satimbre, each, in the amount of
moral damages, plus the costs of suit.
On the ground of
reasonable doubt, the Court finds accused Marion
Boton y Cereza NOT GUILTY of the crime charged in the Information.
the RTC, the case went directly to this Court for automatic review.18cralaw The parties were then required to file, as they did file, their respective
appellants'19cralaw and appellee's20cralaw briefs.Consistent with this Court's ruling in People v. Mateo,21cralaw the case was transferred to the CA22cralaw for intermediate review and disposition.
review, the CA concurred with the factual findings and conclusions of the trial
court and affirmed the judgment of conviction but modified the penalty imposed to reclusion perpetua. The CA increased
the amount of moral damages to
P100,000.00 and awarded P100,000.00
as exemplary damages, to be paid jointly and solidarily by the accused to their
Nikko. The fallo of the CA Decision states:
WHEREFORE, the Judgment dated November 6, 2000 of
the RTC Branch 166, Pasig City, in Criminal Case No. 115317-H, is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that accused-appellants are sentenced to suffer the
penalty of reclusion perpetua without
eligibility for parole and ordered to jointly and solidarily pay private
complainant Nikko Satimbre the amounts of
P100,000.00 as moral damages
and P100,000.00 as exemplary damages.
SO ORDERED .23cralaw
herein appellants Siongco and Bonsol were able to perfect an appeal24cralaw of the CA Decision. Consequently, in its September 29, 2008 Resolution,25cralaw the CA declared the conviction of
accused Enriquez and Hayco as final and executory, and a Partial Entry of
Judgment was made against them.26cralaw In a Resolution dated April 13, 2009,27cralaw this Court accepted the appeal interposed by Siongco and Bonsol.
Article 267 of the Revised
Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7659, defines and penalizes
kidnapping and serious illegal detention as follows:
Art. 267. Kidnapping
and serious illegal detention. - Any private individual who shall kidnap or
detain another, or in any other manner deprive him of his liberty, shall suffer
the penalty of reclusion perpetua to
1. If the kidnapping or detention shall have lasted more than three days.
2. If it shall have been committed simulating public authority.
3. If any serious physical injuries shall have been inflicted upon the person
kidnapped or detained, or if threats to kill him shall have been made.
4. If the person kidnapped or detained shall be a
minor, except when the accused is any of the parents, female, or a public
The penalty shall be death where
the kidnapping or detention was committed for the purpose of extorting ransom
from the victim or any other person, even if none of the circumstances
above-mentioned were present in the commission of the offense.
When the victim is killed or dies
as a consequence of the detention or is raped, or is subjected to torture or
dehumanizing acts, the maximum penalty shall be imposed.
In the recent People of the Philippines v. Christopher Bringas
y Garcia, Bryan Bringas y Garcia, John Robert Navarro y Cruz, Erickson
Pajarillo y Baser (deceased), and Eden Sy Chung,28cralaw we reiterated the following elements that must be established by the
prosecution to obtain a conviction for kidnapping, viz.: (a) the offender is a private individual; (b) he kidnaps or
detains another, or in any manner deprives the latter of his liberty; (c) the
act of detention or kidnapping must be
illegal; and (d) in the commission of the offense, any of the following
circumstances is present: (1) the kidnapping or detention lasts for more than three days; (2) it is committed by
simulating public authority; (3) any serious physical
injuries are inflicted upon the person kidnapped or detained, or threats to
kill him are made; or (4) the person kidnapped or detained, is a minor, a female,
or a public officer. If the victim is a minor, or is kidnapped or detained for
the purpose of extorting ransom, the duration of detention becomes immaterial.
essence of kidnapping is the actual deprivation of the victim's liberty,
coupled with indubitable proof of the intent of the accused to effect such deprivation.29cralaw
As correctly held by the
RTC and the CA, the prosecution indubitably proved beyond reasonable doubt that
the elements of kidnapping and serious illegal detention obtain in the case at
bar. Accused-appellants are private
individuals who, together with their cohorts, took 11-year-old
out of his hometown in Balanga,
December 27, 1998. They brought him to
on December 28, 1998, where demands for a
P400,000.00 ransom were made
to his mother.
Appellants contend that the essential element of
detention or deprivation of liberty was absent because
voluntarily went with them and that he was
free to move around and play with other children. We disagree.
The deprivation required by Article 267 of
the Revised Penal Code means not only the imprisonment of a person, but also
the deprivation of his liberty in whatever form and for whatever length of
time. It includes a situation where the victim cannot go out of the place of
confinement or detention or is restricted or impeded in his liberty to move.30cralaw In this case, although
was free to move around, he was at all
times under the alternate watch of appellants and their cohorts. He was in
their physical custody and complete control as he was kept in places strange
and unfamiliar to him. While he was allowed to play in the houses where he was
kept, the fact remains that he was under the control of his captors who left
him there, as he could not leave the house until they shall have returned for
him. Because of his tender age and the fact that he did not know the way back
home, he was then and there deprived of his liberty.
As to the contention of appellant Siongco that there was no
force or intimidation involved in the taking, this Court held in People of
the Philippines v. Ernesto Cruz, Jr. y Concepcion and Reynaldo Agustin y Ramos31cralaw that the fact that the victim voluntarily went with the accused did not
remove the element of deprivation of liberty, because the victim went with the
accused on a false inducement, without which the victim would not have done so.
In the present case, when
boarded the bus
bound for Pilar,
Bataan, he was under the
impression that Bonsol and Enriquez were to be trusted as he was assured by
Siongco that the two would accompany him to get his much desired "Gameboy."
Without such assurance,
would not have boarded the said vehicle. In kidnapping, the victim need not be
taken by the accused forcibly or against his will. What is controlling is the act
of the accused in detaining the victim against his or her will after the
offender is able to take the victim in his custody. In short, the carrying away
of the victim in the crime ofkidnapping and serious illegal
detention can either be made forcibly or, as in the instant case, fraudulently.32cralaw
Equally significant is the fact that, in kidnapping, the
victim's lack of consent is also a fundamental element.33cralaw The general rule is that the prosecution
is burdened to prove lack of consent on the part of the victim. However, where
the victim is a minor, lack of consent is presumed. In this case,
was only 11 years
old when he was kidnapped; thus incapable of giving consent, and incompetent to
assent to his seizure and illegal detention. The consent of the boy could place
appellants in no better position than if the act had been done against his will. A kidnapper should not be rewarded with an
acquittal simply because he is ingenious enough to conceal his true motive from
his victim until he is able to transport the latter to another place.34cralaw
identical factual findings of both the trial and appellate courts likewise show
that the actuations and roles played by appellants Siongco and Bonsol
undoubtedly demonstrate that they conspired with Hayco and Enriquez in
kidnapping and illegally detaining
Being sufficiently supported by evidence on record, we find no reason to
disturb the same.
was the one who promised
a "Gameboy.cralaw" He told the boy to go with Bonsol and Enriquez and get the toy in
December 28, 1998, he arrived in
Dinalupihan, Bataan to fetch
From there, he, Enriquez and
left for Bicutan, Taguig, Metro Manila in a bus. The following day, Siongco,
Nikko, Enriquez, and the latter's friend went to the marketplace
mother. Siongco demanded from her payment of
P400,000.00 as a condition
for the boy's release. Siongco
repeatedly telephoned Elvira with the same demand and threats over the next
couple of days. On December 31, 1998, he instructed Enriquez to meet Elvira at
the Genesis Bus Station to get the ransom money.
immaterial whether appellant Bonsol acted as a principal or as an accomplice because
the conspiracy and his participation therein have been established. In conspiracy, the act of one is the act of
all and the conspirators shall be held equally liable for the crime.35cralaw On the pretext of getting
's much desired
"Gameboy," Bonsol and Enriquez were able to conveniently whisk
out of Balanga and bring him to Pilar, then
to Mariveles, and eventually to Dinalupihan, where Siongco fetched him. Thus,
Enriquez and Siongco's plan of bringing
Metro Manila, a terrain unfamiliar to the boy and where the two could enjoy
anonymity to carry out their ultimate goal of extorting ransom money from
's mother, was
accomplished. As shown by the evidence, without the participation of appellant
Bonsol, the commission of the offense would not have come to fruition.
appellants bewail that they were deprived of their right to an independent and
competent counsel when the RTC appointed Atty. Michael Moralde (Atty. Moralde) as
their counsel de oficio during the
pre-trial conference, direct examination and cross-examination of the
prosecution's principal witness,
Nikko. This was so, despite Atty. Moralde's
cross-examination that the defense of his actual client, accused Boton,
conflicts with that of the other accused.36cralaw
scrutiny of the records shows that Atty. Moralde was appointed as appellants'
counsel de oficio in six (6) hearings,
because their regular counsel de oficio,
Atty. Antonianofrom the Public
Attorney's Office P AO), was inexplicably absent. There is no denial of the right to
counsel where a counsel de oficio is appointed during the absence
of the accused's counsel de parte, or in this case the regular
counsel de oficio, pursuant to the
court's desire to finish the case as early as practicable under the continuous
trial system.37cralaw The choice of counsel by the accused in a criminal prosecution is not a plenary
one. If the chosen counsel deliberately
makes himself scarce, the court is not precluded from appointing a de oficio counsel, which it considers competent and independent, to enable the trial to
proceed until the counsel of choice enters his appearance. Otherwise,
the pace of a criminal prosecution will be entirely dictated by the accused, to
the detriment of the eventual resolution of the case.38cralaw
fact that Boton's defense conflicts with that of appellants is immaterial because,
as borne out by records, Atty. Moralde expressly declared that the questions he
were only for his client Boton. Thereafter, Atty. Antoniano was furnished with copies
of the transcript of stenographic notes of the proceedings she missed and was
given ample opportunity to conduct her own cross-examination during the
subsequent hearings. Eventually, she adopted the cross-examination conducted by
the other defense counsels.39cralaw
correctly modified the penalty imposed by the RTC to reclusion perpetua without eligibility for parole. The penalty for
kidnapping for the purpose of extorting ransom from the victim or any other
person under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code40cralaw is death. However, R.A. No. 934641cralaw has
banned the imposition of death penalty and reduced all death sentences to reclusion
perpetua without eligibility for parole.42cralaw In line with prevailing jurisprudence,43cralaw an award of
P50,000.00 as civil
indemnity is proper. The award of P100,000.00
moral damages is increased to P200,000.00 considering the minority of
Nikko.44cralaw As the crime was attended by a demand for ransom, and by way of example or
is entitled to P100,000.00 exemplary damages as correctly awarded by the
September 20, 2007 Decision..of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 00774, finding appellants Antonio
Siongco y dela Cruz and Allan Bonsol y Paz guilty beyond reasonable doubt of KIDNAPPING and SERIOUS ILLEGAL DETENTION, is AFFIRMED with theMODIFICATION that a
P50,000.00 civil indemnity is awarded and the amount of moral damages is
increased to P200, 000.00.
Costs against appellants.
ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA
DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
ROBERTO A. ABAD
attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Chairperson, Second Division
to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division Chairperson's
Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been
reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the
opinion of the Court's Division.
1cralaw Docketed as CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No.
00774, penned by Associate Justice Hakim S. Abdulwahid, with Associate Justice s
Rodrigo V. Cosico and Apolinario D. Bruselas, Jr., concurring; rollo, pp. 3-29.
2cralaw CA rollo, pp. 26-39.
3cralaw Appellants have been in
confinement at the National Bilibid Prisons since November 23, 2000.
4cralaw Supra note 1, at 5-6.
7cralaw Supra note 2, at 34.
8cralaw Supra note 1, at 9.
The Information reads:
The undersigned State
Prosecutors of the Department of Justice hereby accuse ANTONIO SIONGCO y DELA CRUZ, ERIBERTO ENRIQUEZ y GEMSON, GEORGE HAYCO y CULLERA, MARION BOTON y CEREZA alias "Marion," ALLAN BONSOL y PAZ, and "JOHN DOE" of the crime of
kidnapping and serious illegal detention committed for the purpose of extorting
ransom, defined and penalized under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code, as
amended by Section 8 of Republic Act No. 7659, committed as follows:chan robles virtual law library
"That on or about December 27, 1998, in
Balanga, Bataan, thence to Pateros, Metro Manila, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, said accused, conspiring together,
confederating, and mutually helping one another, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully, and feloniously kidnap, carry away and seriously detain Nikko B.
Satimbre, an eleven (11) years (sic) old child, which (sic) kidnapping or
serious illegal detention lasted for more than three (3) days thereby depriving
him of his liberty, and which was committed for the purpose of extorting ransom
from the mother of the victim, to the damage and prejudice of the victim himself
and of his mother.cralaw"
TO LAW (sic). (CA rollo, pp. 4-5).
15cralaw Supra note 2, at 27-30.
18cralaw Docketed as G.R. No. 146756.
19cralaw CA rollo, pp. 65-86, 102-150, 177-186, 311-323.
21cralaw G.R. No. 170569, September 30,
2008, 567 SCRA 244.
22cralaw Docketed as CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 00774.
23cralaw Supra note 1, at 28.
24cralaw CA rollo, p. 378.
28cralaw G.R. No. 189093, April 23, 2010.
29cralaw People v. Borromeo, 380
Phil. 523 (2000); People. v. Soberano, 346 Phil. 449 (1997).
v. Bisda, 454 Phil. 194 (2003); People v.
Baldogo, 444 Phil. 35 (2003).
31cralaw G.R. No. 168446, September 18, 2009.
32cralaw People of the
Philippines v. Ernesto Cruz, Jr. y
Concepcion and Reynaldo Agustin y Ramos, id.; People v. Deduyo, 460
Phil. 266 (2003); citing FLORENZ D. REGALADO, Criminal Law Conspectus 488 (2000).
v. Bisda, supra note 30, at 471, citing Chatwin v. United
L. ed. 198 (1945).
35cralaw People v. Cruz,
supra note 31; People v. Pangilinan, 443 Phil. 198, 239 (2003); People
v. Boller, 429 Phil. 754 (2002); People v. Bacungay, 428 Phil. 798
(2002); People v. Manlansing, 428 Phil. 743 (2002).
36cralaw Supra note 18. (CA rollo,
37cralaw People v. Larraaga,
466 Phil. 324 (2004); People v. Macagaling, G.R. Nos. 109131-33, October 3,
1994, 237 SCRA 299.
v. Larraaga, id.
39cralaw Supra note 1, at 17-19.
40cralaw As amended by R.A. No. 7659.
41cralaw An Act Prohibiting the
Imposition of Death Penalty in the
42cralaw People v. Mamantak, G.R. No. 174659, July
28, 2008, 560 SCRA 298.
43cralaw See People of the Philippines v. Christopher Bringas y Garcia, Bryan
Bringas y Garcia, John Robert Navarro y Cruz, Erickson Pajarillo y Baser
(deceased), and Eden Sy Chung, supra note28 ; People v. Mamantak,
id .; People v. Solangon, G.R. No. 172693, November 21, 2007, 537
SCRA 746; People v. Yambot, 397 Phil. 23 (2000).
44cralaw See People of the Philippines v. Christopher Bringas
y Garcia, Bryan Bringas y Garcia, John Robert Navarro y Cruz, Erickson
Pajarillo y Baser (deceased), and Eden Sy Chung, supra note 28; People
v. Mamantak, supra note 42, at 310; People v. Solangon,
supra note 43, at 757; People v. Garalde, G.R. No. 173055, April 13, 2007, 521 SCRA 327; People v. Bisda, supra note 30; People v. Baldogo, supra note 30; People v. Garcia, 424 Phil. 158 (2002).