Tamargo vs Awingan Case Digest
Tamargo vs. Awingan G.R. No. 177727; January 19, 2010 Facts: Atty. Franklin V. Tamargo and his 8-year-old daughter were shot and killed in 2003. The police had no leads on the perpetrators of the crime until a certain Reynaldo Geron surfaced and executed an affidavit wherein he stated that a certain Lucio Columna told him during a drinking spree that Atty. Tamargo was ordered killed by Lloyd Antiporda and that he (Columna) was one of those who killed Atty. Tamargo. Columna was arrested. On March 8, 2004, Columna executed an affidavit wherein he admitted his participation as “look out” during the shooting and implicated Romulo Awingan as the gunman and one Richard Mecate. He also tagged as masterminds Licerio Antiporda, Jr. and his son, Lloyd Antiporda, exmayor and mayor, respectively, of Buguey, Cagayan. Pursuant to this affidavit, petitioner Harold V. Tamargo (brother of Atty. Tamargo) filed a complaint against those implicated by Columna in the Office of the City Prosecutor of Manila. Columna affirmed his affidavit before the investigating prosecutor. During the preliminary investigation, Licerio presented Columna’s handwritten letter wherein the latter disowned the contents of his earlier affidavit and narrated how he had been tortured until he signed the extrajudicial confession. Licerio also submitted an affidavit of Columna dated May 25, 2004 wherein the latter essentially repeated the statements in his handwritten letter. The investigating prosecutor set a clarificatory hearing so that Columna could clarify his contradictory affidavits and his unsolicited letter. During the hearing, Columna categorically admitted the authorship and voluntariness of the unsolicited letter. Thus, the investigating prosecutor recommended the dismissal of the charges. In another handwritten letter addressed to City Prosecutor, however, Columna said that he was only forced to withdraw all his statements against respondents during the clarificatory hearing because of the threats to his life inside the jail. The RTC judge denied the motion to withdraw the informations and held that based on the March 8, 2004 affidavit which Columna affirmed before the investigating prosecutor, there was probable cause to hold the accused for trial. CA reversed the decision. Tamargo appealed. Petitioner argues that, based on the independent assessment of the Judge Daguna, there was probable cause based on the earlier affidavit of Columna. Awingan and the Antiporda’s, on the other hand, contend that Columna’s extrajudicial confession was inadmissible against them because of the rule on res inter alios acta. Issue: Whether or not the admission of Columna is admissible against Awingan and the Antipordas Held: Columna’s extrajudicial confession in his March 8, 2004 affidavit was not admissible as evidence against respondents in view of the rule on res inter alios acta. The rule on res inter alios acta provides that the rights of a party cannot be prejudiced by an act, declaration, or omission of another. Consequently, an extrajudicial confession is binding only on the confessant, is not admissible against his or her co-accused and is considered as hearsay against them. An exception to the res inter alios acta rule is an admission made by a conspirator under Section 30, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court:
Admission by conspirator. — The act or declaration of a conspirator relating to the conspiracy and during its existence, may be given in evidence against the co-conspirator after the conspiracy is shown by evidence other than such act or declaration.
This rule prescribes that the act or declaration of the conspirator relating to the conspiracy and during its existence may be given in evidence against co-conspirators provided that the conspiracy is shown by independent evidence aside from the extrajudicial confession. Thus, in order that the admission of a conspirator may be received against his or her co-conspirators, it is necessary that (a) the conspiracy be first proved by evidence other than the admission itself (b) the admission relates to the common object and (c) it has been made while the declarant was engaged in carrying out the conspiracy. Otherwise, it cannot be used against the alleged coconspirators without violating their constitutional right to be confronted with the witnesses against them and to cross-examine them. Here, aside from the extrajudicial confession, which was later on recanted, no other piece of evidence was presented to prove the alleged conspiracy. There was no other prosecution evidence, direct or circumstantial, which the extrajudicial confession could corroborate. Therefore, the recanted confession of Columna, which was the sole evidence against respondents, had no probative value and was inadmissible as evidence against them.
Lejano vs. People G.R. No. 176389; December 14, 2010
On 30 June 1991, Estellita Vizconde and her daughters Carmela and Jennifer were brutally slain at their home in Paranaque City. Four years later in 1995, the NBI announced that it had solved the crime. It presented star-witness Jessica Alfaro, one of its informers, who claimed that she had witnessed the crime. She pointed to Hubert Webb, Antonio Lejano, Artemio Ventura, Michael Gatchalian, Hospicio Fernandez, Peter Estrada, Miguel Rodriguez and Joy Filart as the culprits. She also tagged police officer, Gerardo Biong, as an accessory after the fact. Alfaro had been working as an asset to the NBI by leading the agency to criminals. Some of the said criminals had been so high-profile, that Alfaro had become the “darling” of the NBI because of her contribution to its success. The trial court and the Court of Appeals found that Alfaro’s direct and spontaneous narration of events unshaken by gruesome cross-examination should be given a great weight in the decision of the case.
In Alfaro’s story, she stated that after she and the accused got high of shabu, she was asked to see Carmela at their residence. After Webb was informed that Carmela had a male companion with her, Webb became piqued and thereafter consumed more drugs and plotted the gang rape on Carmela. Webb, on the other hand, denied all the accusations against him with the alibi that during the whole time that the crime had taken place, he was staying in the United States. He had apparently left for the US on 09 March 1991 and only returned on 27 October 1992. As documentary evidence, he presented photocopies of his passport with four stamps recording his entry and exit from both the Philippines and the US, Flight’s Passenger Manifest employment documents in the US during his stay there and US-INS computer generated certification authenticated by the Philippine DFA. Aside from these documentary alibis, he also gave a thorough recount of his activities in the US. Issue: Whether or not Webb’s documented alibi of his U.S. travel should be given more credence by the Court than the positive identification by Alfaro. Ruling: For a positive identification to be acceptable, it must meet at least two criteria: 1. The positive identification of the offender must come from a credible witness; and 2. The witness’ story of what she personally saw must be believable, not inherently contrived.
The Supreme Court found that Alfaro and her testimony failed to meet the above criteria. She did not show up at the NBI as a spontaneous witness bothered by her conscience. She had been hanging around the agency for sometime as a stool pigeon, one paid for mixing up with criminals and squealing on them. And although her testimony included details, Alfaro had prior access to the details that the investigators knew of the case. She took advantage of her familiarity with these details to include in her testimony the clearly incompatible acts of Webb hurling a stone at the front door glass frames, for example, just so she can accommodate the crime scene feature. To establish alibi, the accused must prove by positive, clear and satisfactory evidence that: 1. He was present at another place at the time of the perpetration of the crime, and 2. That it was physically impossible for him to be at the scene of the crime. The Supreme Court gave very high credence to the compounded documentary alibi presented by Webb. This alibi altogether impeaches Alfaro’s testimony not only with respect to him, but also with respect to the other accused. For, if the Court accepts the proposition that Webb was in the US when the crime took place, Alfaro’s testimony will not hold altogether. Webb’s participation is the anchor of Alfaro’s story.