Category Archives: Criminal Law

People of the Philippines v. Noel Enojas, et al., G.R. No. 204894, 10 March 2014

Remedial Law; Evidence; Electronic Evidence; Admissibility; Text Messages – As to the admissibility of the text messages, the RTC admitted them in conformity with the Court’s earlier Resolution applying the Rules on Electronic Evidence to criminal actions. Text messages are to be proved
by the testimony of a person who was a party to the same or has personal knowledge of them.16 Here, PO3 Cambi, posing as the accused Enojas, exchanged text messages with the other accused in order to identify and entrap them. As the recipient of those messages sent from and to the mobile phone in his possession, PO3 Cambi had personal knowledge of such messages and was competent to testify on them.

Full text here.

A.M. No. 12-11-2-SC (March 18, 2014): GUIDELINES FOR DECONGESTING HOLDING JAILS BY ENFORCING THE RIGHTS OF ACCUSED PERSONS TO BAIL AND TO SPEEDY TRIAL

The salient provisions on the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court with respect to bail include allowing the accused to move for fixing the amount of bail pending raffle of the case to a regular branch of the court, declaring that the order fixing the amount of bail is not subject to appeal, and releasing the accused upon service of the minimum imposable penalty. With respect to speedy trial, provisions include observance of time limits for arraignment (within 10 days from date the case is raffled), termination of regular trial (within 180 days) or trial by judicial affidavit (within 60 days), and service of subpoena through email, phone calls or SMS.

The guidelines shall take effect on May 1, 2014.

AM No 12-11-2-SC

 

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. NOEL ENOJAS Y HINGPIT et al., G.R. No. 204894, March 10, 2014

Remedial Law; Admissibility of text messages as evidence. As to the admissibility of the text messages, the RTC admitted them in conformity with the Court’s earlier Resolution applying the Rules on Electronic Evidence to criminal actions. Text messages are to be proved by the testimony of a person who was a party to the same or has personal knowledge of them.

Remedial Law; Arrest without valid warrant is not a ground for acquittal. Accused lament that they were arrested without a valid warrant of arrest.  But, assuming that this was so, it cannot be a ground for acquitting them of the crime charged but for rejecting any evidence that may have been taken from them after an unauthorized search as an incident of an unlawful arrest.

Full text here.

JOSE JESUS M. DISINI, JR., ET AL. v. THE SECRETARY OF JUSTICE, ET AL., G.R. No. 203335, FEBRUARY 18, 2014

Constitutional law; Unsolicited commercial communications, also known as “spam” is entitled to protection under freedom of expression.  To prohibit the transmission of unsolicited ads would deny a person the right to read his emails, even unsolicited commercial ads addressed to him.  Commercial speech is a separate category of speech which is not accorded the same level of protection as that given to other constitutionally guaranteed forms of expression but is nonetheless entitled to protection. The State cannot rob him of this right without violating the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression.  Unsolicited advertisements are legitimate forms of expression.

Criminal law; Cyberlibel under Section 4(c)(4) of the Cybercrime Law is constitutional.  The Court agrees with the Solicitor General that libel is not a constitutionally protected speech and that the government has an obligation to protect private individuals from defamation.  Indeed, cyberlibel is actually not a new crime since Article 353, in relation to Article 355 of the Penal Code, already punishes it.  In effect, Section 4(c)(4) above merely affirms that online defamation constitutes “similar means” for committing libel. But the Court’s acquiescence goes only insofar as the cybercrime law penalizes the author of the libelous statement or article.  Cyberlibel brings with it certain intricacies, unheard of when the Penal Code provisions on libel were enacted.  The culture associated with internet media is distinct from that of print.

Criminal law; Section 5 of the Cybercrime Law that punishes “aiding or abetting” libel on the cyberspace is a nullity. The terms “aiding or abetting” constitute broad sweep that generates chilling effect on those who express themselves through cyberspace posts, comments, and other messages. Its vagueness raises apprehension on the part of internet users because of its obvious chilling effect on the freedom of expression, especially since the crime of aiding or abetting ensnares all the actors in the cyberspace front in a fuzzy way.  What is more, as the petitioners point out, formal crimes such as libel are not punishable unless consummated. In the absence of legislation tracing the interaction of netizens and their level of responsibility such as in other countries, Section 5, in relation to Section 4(c)(4) on Libel, Section 4(c)(3) on Unsolicited Commercial Communications, and Section 4(c)(2) on Child Pornography, cannot stand scrutiny.

Full text here.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. P/SUPT. ARTEMIO E. LAMASEN, ET AL., G.R. No. 198338, November 13, 2013

Criminal law; Recantation of testimony. The Court looks with disfavor upon retractions of testimonies previously given in court. It is settled that an affidavit of desistance made by a witness after conviction of the accused is not reliable, and deserves only scant attention. Only when there exists special circumstances in the case which when coupled with the retraction raise doubts as to the truth of the testimony or statement given, can retractions be considered and upheld.

Full text here.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILS. v. RICARDO M. VIDAÑA, G.R. No. 199210, October 23, 2013

Criminal law; Incestuous rape. In incestuous rape cases, the father’s abuse of the moral ascendancy and influence over his daughter can subjugate the latter’s will thereby forcing her to do whatever he wants. In other words, in an incestuous rape of a minor, actual force or intimidation need not be employed where the overpowering moral influence of the father would suffice.

R.A. 10630 (October 3, 2013): AN ACT STRENGTHENING THE JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM IN THE PHILIPPINES, AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE REPUBLIC ACT NO. 9344, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE “JUVENILE JUSTICE AND WELFARE ACT OF 2006” AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR

This Act strengthened the Juvenile Justice System in the Philippines. The Act maintained the exemption from criminal liability of children aged fifteen (15) years old. However, a child who is above 12 years of age up to 15 years of age and who commits parricide, murder, infanticide, kidnapping and serious illegal detention where the victim is killed or raped, robbery, with homicide or rape, destructive arson, rape, or carnapping where the driver or occupant is killed or raped or offenses under Republic Act No. 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002) punishable by more than 12 years of imprisonment, shall be deemed a neglected child under Presidential Decree No. 603, as amended and the child shall be mandatorily placed in a special facility within the youth care faculty or Bahay Pag-asa called Intensive Juvenile Intervention and Support Center. Moreover, repeat offenders, or children who have committed crimes more than three times, would also be considered as neglected children and, as such, must undergo intervention programs supervised by the local social welfare and development officers. The law would impose the maximum penalty for those who exploit children such as syndicates, for the commission of criminal offenses.

Full text here.

BENILDA N. BACASIVIAS v. SANDIGANBAYAN and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 189343, July 10, 2013

Criminal law; Conspiracy. In order to establish the existence of conspiracy, unity of purpose and unity in the execution of an unlawful objective by the accused must be proven. Direct proof is not essential to show conspiracy. It is enough that there be proof that two or more persons acted towards the accomplishment of a common unlawful objective through a chain of circumstances, even if there was no actual meeting among them.

Full text here.

SALLY GO-BANGAYAN v. BENJAMIN BANGAYAN, JR., G.R. No. 201061, July 3, 2013

Criminal law; Bigamy; Subsequent marriage must be valid. For bigamy to exist, the second or subsequent marriage must have all the essential requisites for validity except for the existence of a prior marriage. In this case, there was really no subsequent marriage. Benjamin and Sally just signed a purported marriage contract without a marriage license. The supposed marriage was not recorded with the local civil registrar and the National Statistics Office. In short, the marriage between Benjamin and Sally did not exist.  They lived together and represented themselves as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage.

Civil law; Property relations of cohabitants. Benjamin and Sally cohabitated without the benefit of marriage. Thus, only the properties acquired by them through their actual joint contribution of money, property, or industry shall be owned by them in common in proportion to their respective contributions.

Full text here.