OF THE PHILIPPINES
(A SPECIAL HEINOUS CRIMES COURT)
OF THE PHILIPPINES,
CRIM. CASES NOS. CBU-45303
J U D G M E N T
In what has been described by media as "the trial of the decade" seven (7) young men and one (1) middle aged man were charged before this Court in two separate Informations of Kidnapping and Serious Illegal Detention of the sisters Marijoy Chiong and Jacqueline Chiong, 21 and 23 years of age, respectively. Accused Josman Aznar, Rowen Adlawan @ Wesley, Ariel Balansag, Davidson Valiente Rusia @ Tisoy Tagalog, James Andrew Uy @ MM, James Anthony Uy @ Wangwang and Alberto Caņo @ Allan Pahak, when arraigned by their respective counsels, each pleaded Not Guilty to the two (2) separate Informations. On the other hand, Francisco Juan Larraņaga @ Paco with the assistance of one of his counsels, refused to plead, hence, the plea of Not Guilty was entered by the court to the two (2) charges of Kidnapping and Serious Illegal Detention. The alleged crimes in these areas were committed on July 16, 1997 and trial was originally set for October 20, 1997 but due to dilatory tactics employed by the Defense, trial actually began only on August 12, 1998. On August 24, 1998 all six (6) defense counsels even announced that they were walking out from the trial en masse - allegedly because the presiding judge was biased against the accused and would not inhibit himself - but actually (as the Minutes of the hearing would show) said counsels had connived with their accused-clients to put an immediate stop to the presentation of the Prosecution's evidence and thus further delay the trial of these heinous crimes cases. The undersigned judge was thus compelled to hold them in direct contempt and ordered their immediate imprisonment in the City Jail (BBRC).
The People's evidence revealed that on July 16, 1997 at about 10:00 o'clock in the evening, sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong were forcibly abducted by the herein accused from a waiting shed at Archbishop Reyes Avenue, Cebu City. The sisters
At the trial, the prosecution presented as its first and principal witness one of the accused, Davidson Valiente Rusia, who is 23 years old and who studied his elementary and high school in Virginia, U.S.A. Rusia in his judicial confession (since he had not yet been discharged as an accused at the time he took the witness stand) testified that he knew Rowen Adlawan, James Anthony Uy and James Andrew Uy and met them at the Ayala Center, Cebu Cty five (5) months prior to July 16, 1997. He likewise knew Paco Larraņaga through Rowen Adlawan two months before July 16, 1997 and Josman Aznar since 1991 at the Southwestern University here in Cebu City.
Rusia narrated that on July 15, 1997 at about 10:00 o'clock in the evening, while he was hanging around Cebu Plaza Hotel, he happened to see Rowen Adlawan. They talked for a while after which the latter told him to meet him at the Ayala Center at 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon of the following day. When he met with Rowen Adlawan on the agreed time and place, he was instructed by the latter to stay put as he will be coming back in the evening to fetch him because they were going to have a big happening and which he thought was only a group party and scrounge. At about 10:30 in the evening, Rowen Adlawan together with Josman Aznar on board a white car picked him up at the back of Ayala Center. As he boarded the car, he noticed a red car behind which was following them. From Ayala, they made a right turn to Archbishop Reyes Avenue where he saw two (2) girls whom he later identified as Marijoy Chiong and Jacqueline Chiong as shown in the pictures marked as Exhs. "A" & "B") standing under the waiting shed. Their car stopped in front of the Chiong sisters and his companions Rowen Adlawan and Josman Aznar alighted from the car and approached the sisters. Upon being approached, Jacqueline and Marijoy raised their hands as if saying "no" or declining the apparent offer of Adlawan and Aznar to give them a ride and at the same time backing away from the latter. As the sisters were moving back, the two young men immediately grabbed and forced Jacqueline and Marijoy inside the car. Rusia was shocked because he did not expect such a development.
At the back seat, Jacqueline and Marijoy started to scream, shout and fight, desperately trying to get out of the car. Aznar stopped the car at a distance of more or less 14 meters away from the waiting shed and at this point of time, Jacqueline managed to get out of the car and run but she was chased by Aznar who brought Jacqueline back inside the car and hurriedly drove off. Adlawan who was seated between the two girls at the back seat, elbowed Jacqueline on the chest and punched Marijoy in the stomach causing both to faint. Upon the instruction of Adlawan,
Later, Josman Aznar instructed Rowen Adlawan to "get rid" of Marijoy, and Rowen Adlawan and Ariel Balansag then brought Marijoy who was still alive but was already very weak to a cliff and pushed her into a deep ravine where a body later (doubtfully) identified as Marijoy's body was found. At that precise moment, he and Paco was watching as the two pushed Marijoy to her death.
At that time, Jacqueline Chiong who was outside the van managed to run towards the road. Their group immediately got inside the van and followed Jacqueline. They shouted at her, telling her to run some more, and made fun of her. A tricycle passed by, so immediately they grabbed Jacqueline and brought her into the van. While inside the vehicle, Rowen Adlawan kept punching Jacqueline until she passed out. They drove back to Cebu City at about 5:30 in the morning of July 17, 1997 with MM Uy behind them in a white car. He got off near Ayala Center. Jacqueline who was unconscious was with the group inside the van.
On the same day after obtaining some money, he went to
Rusia further testified that after a year in hiding and being bothered by his conscience and having bad dreams, he decided to come out and confess as he felt sorry for what they did to the two girls who belong to a good family.
On November 12, 1998, convinced that he told the truth, accused Davidson Valiente Rusia was discharged as an accused and given the status of a state witness by the Court in its Omnibus Order dated November 12, 1998, the pertinent portion of which reads: "To qualify as state witness, an accused need not be the least guilty. Even if he is the second or third most guilty, he is still eligible for discharge as long as he does not appear to be the most guilty. This is so because the rule allowing the discharge of an accused who turns state witness was enacted "in order to achieve the greater purpose of securing the conviction of the more or most guilty and the greater number among the accused for the offense they committed." (page 790, Francisco's Criminal Procedure, 1969 Edition, citing People v. Bayona, et.al., L-14426, 20 May 1960). If the testimony of an aspiring state witness makes possible the conviction of the most guilty and the greatest number among the accused, his discharge would be in order.
"In determining whether an aspiring state witness charged as co-conspirator is not the most guilty, the act-of one-is-the-act-of-all rule is not controlling. Instead the aspiring state witness' actual and individual participation in the commission of the crime will be looked into, and if the extent of such participation does not make him the most guilty, he is eligible for discharge" (Citing People v. Ocimar, et.al., G.R. 94555, 17 August 1992).
The testimony of Davidson Valiente Rusia was corroborated in its material points by the other prosecution witnesses.
Sheila Singson, 26 years of age, single, office supervisor of the victim Jacqueline Chiong at Global Village International Learning Center located at the third level of Ayala Center, Cebu City testified that on July 16, 1997 at about 6:00 o'clock in the evening she saw Jacqueline (whom they call Jackie) at their office together with her sister Marijoy using the computer. She was surprised to see her considering that it was her day-off but Jackie told her that she was there to get her salary. At about 7:00 o'clock in the evening, she left the sisters because she was already off from work and proceeded to the west entry of Ayala Center where she waited for her friend Hildo Ylaya to arrive. At past 7:20 in the evening more or less, while she was sitting on one of the benches, she aw Jackie and Marijoy come out of the exit door of the west entry and stood 10 to 12 meters away from where she was seated. She merely watched them and after 15 minutes, she saw Marijoy leave and so she decided to approach Jackie and they talked more or less 10 minutes. Jackie told her that they were waiting for their father to fetch them and that her sister went to
She testified that she knew Paco Larraņaga because she had seen him five (5) times prior to July 16, 1997 in different places. She also knew that Paco Larraņaga was an admirer of Marijoy as per information of Jackie.
Analie Konahap, 24 years of age, single, Account Executive of Ergo Economic System and former Manager of the Cyber Cafe at Global Village, testified that on July 16, 1997 at about 6:30 in the evening, she was at the office to follow up her clearance relative to her resignation as Manager of Global Village. She saw Jackie with her sister and that she even greeted them. She left at more or less 9:00 o'clock in the evening and proceeded to the west entry of Ayala Center where she usually pass in coming to work and in going home and there she saw the Chiong sisters talking to two (2) men whom she identified as accused Paco Larraņaga and Josman Aznar. She greeted Jackie and told her that she will go ahead and proceeded to board a taxi. She said she knew Paco Larraņaga and Josman Aznar because she had seen them about two (2) times before July 16, 1997 in the vicinity of their office.
Rolando Dacillo, 47 years of age and a driver by occupation testified that he knew accused Rowen Adlawan because they used to be neighbors. He likewise knows accused Josman Aznar because he saw him twice already.
On July 16, 1997 at about 8:00 o'clock in the evening, after taking their supper, he and his wife went to Ayala Center which is just a walking distance from their residence in order to see a movie. At about 11:00 o'clock in the evening after the movie, they walked home passing the covered walk of Ayala along Archbishop Reyes Avenue. When they were about to cross the street, he saw a white car parked on his right side and a red colored taxi without top light. He observed the white car as if it was shaking and as if there was quarreling inside and then heard a woman shouting "Don't" and saw a girl alight from the white car's right rear door and then the driver also alighting from the front door and grabbed the girl who struggled but he pushed her back into the car. He heard the woman asking for help. Thereafter, he saw the driver of the red car signaled or making a forward motion with his left hand and the two cars proceeded towards the north.
He came to know later that the girl was Jacqueline Chiong when he saw her picture in the newspaper a week after he witnessed the incident. He was sure that it was Jacqueline
Willard Redobles, 27 years of age, married and a security guard assigned at Ayala Center, Cebu City since March 1995 up to the present testified that at about 7:45 in the evening of July 16, 1997, he left his house at Camagong St. and walked to Ayala to report for duty. His tour of duty was from 9:00 P.M. to 9:00 A.M. of the following day. He reached the west entry of Ayala at about 8:00 o'clock in the evening and while he was shaking off his wet umbrella (it was raining at that night) and slippers, he noticed Jacqueline Chiong with a companion whom he later identified as Marijoy Chiong talking to Josman Aznar and Paco Larraņaga whom he identified at the prisoner's bench. He was only one (1) meter from them thus he could very well see the two youths. After he had changed to his uniform he went to the basement for guard mounting which took place at exactly 8:30 in the evening. Thereafter, he proceeded to the entrance door of the west entry to man his post and the Chiong sisters were still there talking to Paco Larraņaga and Josman Aznar until about 10:00 o'clock in the evening the time he closed the entrance door.
Witness stated that he knew Jacqueline since the Global Village in Ayala opened four (4) months before the incident in question because every time Jacqueline and her co-employees would render overtime work, he had to secure overtime permits for Jacqueline. He likewise testified that he knew Josman Aznar and Paco Larraņaga by face before July 16, 1997 because they used to go to Ayala Center. He came to know their names for the first time only at the time he was investigated at the Office of the Criminal Investigation Group (CIG) and he was shown about 100 pictures.
Benjamin Colina, a driver stationed at Park Place Hotel here in Cebu City testified that at about 11:30 in the evening of July 16, 1997, he was approached by two (2) persons whom he identified as Rowen Adlawan and Davidson Valiente Rusia and who were familiar to him because the two used to hang around Croissant Express just beside the hotel, in order to hire a self-driven van for P2,500.00 but he refused because he did not want his vehicle driven by other persons. He came to know the names of Adlawan and Rusia when he was invited by the CIG and identified their faces among the 100 pictures shown to him.
Miguel Vergara, 58 years old, a dispatcher and owner of a rolling store at South Bus Terminal testified that on July 16, 1997 at about 11:30 in the evening, he was tending his store when a man with short black hair and whom he later identified as Rowen Adlawan approached him and asked where he could hire a vehicle. He pointed to a van bearing Plate No. GGC-491 which was parked nearby. He saw Adlawan talk to the driver and
Mario Miņoza, a tricycle driver plying the Carcar-Mantalongon route and a resident of Guadalupe, Carcar, Cebu stated that on July 17, 1997 (a Thursday) he started to drive his tricycle at 4:00 o'clock in the morning to pick up his passengers in Panas, Guadalupe, Carcar. From Panas, they headed to Mantalongon and passing Tan-awan, Carcar he saw a white van parked on the right side of the road (facing Mantalongon) near a tamarind tree and which was less than 100meters away from the cliff. He only observed the rear portion of the van bearing Plate No. GGC-491 and he did not see any person inside the van.
After his passengers had alighted, he drove back to Sitio Panas. Upon reaching Sitio Tapal, he saw a woman running towards Mantalongon at the side of the road. He slowed down to look at the girl and she was thin with fair complexion and short hair with Chinese looking eyes. He identified the girl as Jacqueline Chiong from the photograph (Exh. "A") which was shown to him. He was able to observe the girl because she was under the electric post and there was also illumination from the houses nearby and she was hit by the headlight of his motorized tricycle.
He also stated that the girl appeared insane because her hair was disheveled and her blouse was torn and she was running with no apparent direction. After the girl passed him, he saw a white van following at normal speed towards Mantalongon. He did not see the persons inside the van but he heard loud rock music coming from the vehicle.
Manuel Camingao, also a tricycle driver plying the Carcar-Mantalonogn route and Chief Tanod of Poblacion I, Carcar, Cebu had also seen the van with Plate No. No. GCC-491 at Sitio Tan-awan, Carcar parked diagonally facing the cliff while he was on his way to Mantalongon. And because he thought that he was dumping garbage in the area he took down its plate number so that it would be easy for him to intercept or report it if he finds out that his suspicion was true, He did not see any person nor hear any noise inside the van. He proceeded to Mantalongon and arrived at 5:00 o'clock in the morning.
He had also a chance to observe the van which was waiting for Adlawan and he heard quarrelling inside and male and female voices. He also heard a cry of a woman but he could hardly understand what she was saying because it was as if her voice was being controlled or muffled. After Adlawan had taken his order, he immediately boarded the van which proceeded to Poblacion Carcar.
He also testified that in the early evening of July 17, 1997, he had already seen the van in Carcar and that he personally knows its driver Alberto Caņo @ Allan Pahak because the latter was his conductor before he became a driver of a jeep plying Carcar to Cebu.
Rosendo Rio, 53 years of age, a. resident of Cogon, Carcar, Cebu and a maker of shoes and slippers which he delivers to his customers in Barili, Cebu every Thursday testified that on July 17, 1997 at about 3:30 early dawn, he left his house in his motorcycle to go to Barili about 23 kilometers away to deliver his finished products to his customers. While he was on his way and upon reaching Sitio Tan-awan, he saw a. white colored van wrongly parked at the side of the road (the hood of the vehicle was facing towards Carcar and thus should have been parked on the left side). He also saw two (2) persons in front of the van. He slowed down because he was negotiating a curved road and he came, close to about two (2) meters away from the two persons and he could very well see their faces because they were illuminated by the light of his motorcycle. The two (2) persons were leaning against the hood of the van and were holding glasses. He identified these persons as Paco Larraņaga and Josman Aznar. As he drove further he saw two (2) other persons at the rear portion of the van, one was holding the door of the vehicle while the other was peeping inside the van. He did not see clearly the faces of these two persons.
He further testified that he had already seen Larraņaga and Aznar two
(2) times before. The first time he saw them was in the last
week of June 1997
and in the first week of July 1997 both at Sitio Tan-awan
sitting under a big tamarind tree beside a white car and drinking beer.
Witness also testified that when he found the body he did not try to check for some documents that could have been in her possession which could identify her because he did not touch the body. But when it arrived at the funeral parlor, her clothing was checked and inspected but nothing was found. The body was laid at the Tupaz Funeral Parlor from July 18, 1997 until July 24, 1997 when the body was claimed by the father of the victim.
Manuel Rodriguez, a driver and a part-time photographer testified that on July 18, 1997 he was hired by Carcar Police to take pictures of the dead body found at Tan-awan cliff. The dead woman had a handcuff on her left hand and her face covered with masking tape. He also noticed worms coming out from her mouth and nose. She was clad in maong pants (denim pants or jeans) and orange T-shirt which was raised up and her bra already somewhere around her waist. Upon the instruction of SPO4 Arturo Unabia he took the front and back view of the dead woman.
Dionisio Enad, an embalmer of Tupaz Funeral Parlor testified that on July 18, 1997 he embalmed the body found in Tan-awan. Before embalming, he removed the masking tapes which was stuck to the face of the victim as well as the clothings and the underwears and checked the body for any wounds. He also removed the handcuff by sawing it with a steel saw and turned over all these items to SPO3 Benjamin Pepino of the CIG.
(NOTE: For the benefit of our foreign readers, blue wordings is our translation from Tagalog (Philippine language) to English ...the webmaster).
In the afternoon of July 22, 1997, the Regional Mobile Group headed by Insp. Martin Logan arrived in Carcar and requested for assistance to go to Tan-awan to search for more evidence. He joined the group upon the order of their Officer-in-Charge. They stayed in Tan-awan for three hours and they were able to recover a pair of black Converse rubber shoes at the garbage site near the cliff. They also recovered a black computer diskette below the railings near the cliff. He recorded in the police blotter (Exh. "00") the events and the things they recovered in the vicinity of the cliff and placed them inside a locker for safekeeping. On the following day, he turned those pieces of evidence to SPO1 Rene Rosalita of the Provincial Command in Lahug per Receipt dated July 23, 1997 (Exh. "QQ").
SP01 Alexis Elpusan of the Criminal Intelligence Group got those pieces of evidence from SPO1 Rosalita on July 24, 1997 and together with Insp. Ariston Era brought them to the PNP Crime Laboratory upon the instruction of their Chief. Col Napoleon Estilles.
P/Insp. Edgardo Lenizo was presented as an expert witness. He is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Criminology aside from being an LL.B. He then passed the government board in Criminology in 1988 but before he took the government board examination, he was already connected with the PNP since 1986 where he underwent on-the-job training at Camp Crame PNP Crime Laboratory to train in fingerprint examinations and where he conducted about 500 cases of fingerprint examinations, about 30 of them on dead bodies. He testified that the fingerprints of the dead woman found at the bottom of the cliff at Sitio Tan-awan (whose skin tissues had been sliced off the right and left thumbs of the woman by PNP Medico-Legal Dr. Sator) perfectly matched the thumb prints of Marijoy Chiong as appearing in her Voter's Registration. Witness also testified that the computer diskette (which had been recovered by the police at the top of the ravine where the body of Marijot was found) bore the left thumb print of the accused Josman Aznar using for comparison Aznar's thumb print as appearing on his PNP Booking Sheet. (That computer diskette containing accused Aznar's thumbprint could only have been Jacqueline's because she was working in a computer company at Ayala Center and none of the accused are computer literate).
Although this court itself had expressed serious doubts as to the identity of the corpse found at the bottom of the cliff at Sitio Tan-awan, Carcar, Cebu because no frontal close-up of the photo of the face was presented in evidence - it is not necessary that such corpse be really Marijoy's (it could be that of an earlier victim to the same gang) because the dead body of the person in kidnapping is not an essential element of the corpus delicti of the crimes of
Dr. Nestor Sator, a Medico-Legal Officer of the PNP Region 7 testified
that he conducted a postmortem examination on the body of Marijoy Chiong
on July 20, 1997 at 10:30 in the morning. The body was already embalmed
when he conducted the autopsy and before opening the body, he first
recorded all the injuries sustained by the victim. The latter sustained
multiple fractures, dislocation, abrasions, lacerated wounds and contusion
in the different parts of the body.
When he examined the genitalia, he noticed a deep hymenal laceration at 1:00 o'clock position and shallow hymenal laceration at 3:00 o'clock and 6:00 o'clock positions. And in his expert opinion, this deep hymenal laceration could be cause by a forceful sexual intercourse, or if the size of the penis is bigger that the opening of the woman or by several forceful sexual intercourses by more than one person - thus it is possible that the victim was raped by more than one person. He however did not conduct any smear to determine traces of semen in the genitalia of the victim because the body was already embalmed and there was a probability that the embalming had washed out the semen and its adulteration by the formalin.
his expert opinion, the victim
was still alive when she was thrown
into the deep ravine
because of the vital tissue reaction along
the injuries sustained by the victim. Vital tissue reaction is our normal
response to injury like swelling and accumulation of blood adjacent to the
injured part. He also said that the body was already bloated when he
examined it and found maggots or worms in
the body meaning that the victim died 24 hours ago because it takes
24 hours for an egg of a fly to be hatched into a larva or maggots and if
he would have to approximate the time of her death,
the victim must have been dead more or less 35 hours before she was
Jude Daniel Mendoza is a Bachelor of Science Graduate at Velez College in 1986 he took and passed the government board examination on that same year. He had his on-the-job training at the PC-INP here in Cebu City for two (2) years and became a permanent Medical Technologist of the PC-INP Crime Laboratory Service February 3, 1989. He had undergone trainings at Camp
On July 25 1997, he conducted an examination on the specimens submitted to their office by SPO3 Benjamin Pepino of the CIG. He prepared Medico-Legal Report No. S-011-97 (Exh. "SSS") wherein he indicated that the orange colored Giordano T-shirt (Exh. "A") and maong pants (denim pants or jeans) (Exh. "B") were positive for human blood. The bra (Exh. "C"), panty (Exh. "D") and the Converse rubber shoes (Exh. "F") were also positive for blood but could not determine its origin because the quantity of blood stain was insufficient for determining its origin. He also issued Medico-Legal Report No. S-011A-97 (Exh. "TTT") wherein he indicated that the stain found in the panty of the victim was positive for seminal fluid.
Thelma Chiong, the. mother of Jacqueline and Marijoy testified that she had known accused Rowen Adlawan since 1993 and she know him during the Intramurals at the University of Southern Philippines (USP) where her daughter Marijoy studied from grade school to high school. She remembered that Marijoy mentioned to her that the students of USP usually call Adlawan "Tatay" in school. She likewise knows Francisco Juan Larraņaga alias Paco because sometime in 1994, the latter with Adlawan, Josman Aznar and another friend brought Marijoy home. She was then sitting by their window her usual place whenever she waits for her daughters to arrive, and she saw Marijoy brought home by the said accused.
She testified that her daughter Marijoy during her high school days was chosen as "Miss USP Siglakas" as shown in the pictures marked as Exhs. "G" & "H"). After her graduation in high school in 1994, Marijoy studied at the University of San Carlos taking up Business Administration. While in College, Marijoy won in the Miss USC contest and was also chosen as Miss Sportswear.
She described her daughters Marijoy and Jacqueline as loving, sweet and obedient. They were very close to her and confided to her their secrets and love life. That Marijoy before she died had a boyfriend with whom she had been going steady for I 1/2 years. She remembered that a month before her daughters abduction, Marijoy told her that she was threatened by Paco Larraņaga that something will happen to her if she will not break up with her boyfriend. According to her daughter Paco was an admirer and the latter would always follow her in school. They did not take the threat of Paco seriously because they did not believe that he would make good his threat. Paco was not formally introduced to her but she had seen him twice when he brought Marijoy home while they were still residing in Capitol, Cebu City but he had not visited her daughter at home.
On the rebuttal, the prosecution further presented SP03 Ramon Ortiz who was previously assigned at the Mabolo Police Station from June 1994 to November 1997. He testified that in the evening evening of July 12, 1997 while he was on duty as investigator, a certain Marlon Corominas with three (3) companions personally
(NOTE: For the benefit of our foreign readers, blue wordings is our translation from Tagalog (Philippine language) to English ...the webmaster).
Camilo Canoy, a resident of Carcar, Cebu and a member of the Civil Security Unit of the Provincial Capitol here in Cebu City and detailed at the Office of the Governor and assigned in providing security to Governor Garcia. He testified that between 7:00 and 8:00 P.M. of July 16, 1997, he was at the gasoline station of Poblacion Carcar waiting for a passenger jeep going to Cebu City. He had to be in Cebu City because the governor would be leaving for Camotes in the early morning of the following day. At 7:15 P.M. lie was able to board a dirty white Lite Ace van Plate No. GGC-491 as shown in the picture marked as Exh. "V-3") and he sat in the front. There were more or less 10 passengers who were seated at the back but he was alone in front beside the driver. He was able to recall the plate number of the vehicle because he had taken a ride in it for three times before July 16, 1997. He also remembered its driver, Alberto Caņo because he is acquainted with him. He however did not recognize the conductor. He paid his fare to Caņo in the amount of P15.00 and alighted in Colon at 9:00 P.M. According to the witness he could very well remember that he boarded the said vehicle on the night of July 16, 1997 because on the following day, July 17, 1997 he was to go to Camotes Island with Governor Garcia to give tlie checks for the construction of the airport in Camotes.
He executed an Affidavit at the CIG Office on July 27, 1997. He voluntarily went to the CIG after he heard over the radio that accused Caņo denied having driven the van on the night in question.
Neptali Cabanos, Detachment Commander of Ayala Center whose duties include supervising all those tasked to secure Ayala Center and also keeps records of any untoward incidents, takes photographs of the culprits and he is also a custodian of the records like the Incident Logbook and the Culprit Photo Album.
On January 27, 1999, he was approached by Mr. Dionsio Chiong at his office and inquired whether he has files or records of incidents committed by the herein accused. He found in their blotter (Exh. "IIII") the July 12, 1997, incident involving James Anthony Uy @ Wangwang and also found his photograph (Exh, "JJJJ") in their Culprit Photo Album. The entry in the blotter was made by the former Detachment Commander of Ayala Coater, Lt. Fajardo.
P/Insp. Leodegardo Acebedo was presented to rebutt the testimony of Clotilde Soterol, Catalina Paghinayan, and Gina Caņo. He is presently assigned in Dumaguete City as Chief of the Criminal Investigation & Detection Group Field Office.
Against the foregoing facts and circumstances, the accused proffered the defense of denial and alibi which are summarized and evaluated in the ANNEX hereof.
To deprive a person of his precious life or liberty, the evidence against him must stand the crucible test of reasonable doubt to overthrow the constitutionally guaranteed presumption of innocence he has in his favor. This Proof beyond reasonable doubt is such degree of proof, that after examination of the entire evidence, produces moral certainly in an unprejudiced mind as to the accused's culpability. And it is axiomatic that defense of alibi cannot prevail over positive identification of the accused by the prosecution witnesses.
"It is an oft‑repeated rule that alibi is one of the weakest defenses an accused can invoke and courts have always looked upon it with caution, if not suspicion, not only because it is inherently unreliable but likewise because it is rather easy to fabricate. For the defense of alibi to prosper, the accused must show he was at such other place for such a period of time that it was physically impossible for him to have been at the place where the crime was committed at the time of its commission (People v. Azuque, 268 SCRA 711). Thus, for alibi as a defense to
After an assiduous examination and evaluation of the testimonial and documentary evidence, the Court is convince that the accused failed to measure up to these settled requirement s for the defense of alibi to prosper. Accused have not shown by clear and convincing evidence that it was physically impossible for them to be at the Ayala Center where Jacqueline and Marijoy Chiong were abducted on that fateful night of July 16, 1997.
"The Court is convinced of the righteousness of the Prosecution's stand that the testimony of Rusia (especially since he was subjected to extensive cross-examination by counsels de parte for all the accused) is substantially corroborated by the ten (10) other prosecution witnesses "almost every step of the way" from Ayala Center to Carcar - and since the Defense had waived cross-examination of said prosecution witnesses thus leaving them unimpeached - this Court has no choice, but to consider prosecution's evidence of the guilt of all the accused - at this stage of the proceedings (and as thus far submitted to, this Court) as indeed strong. No other conclusion is possible with the Court's previous admission of the judicial confession of Rusia, and its evident corroboration by the said ten (10) prosecution witnesses whom the defense counsels refused to cross-examine - and because the accused have not yet presented any evidence in their defense.
"NOW, what possible reasons could the above-named respectable prosecution witnesses have had for lying to this Court? - especially the two young women executives (Singson and Konahap) who positively identified Larraņaga and Aznar as the persons they saw that night shortly before the kidnapping talking with the Chiong sisters - Larraņaga whose claim or defense is that he was in Manila that fateful night?
And why should the voluntary and straight forward testimonies of said principal prosecution witness now be regarded by the Trial Court as void? When this Court had given the accused every opportunity to cross-examine said witnesses on and after September 24, 1998 through counsels of their choice? Instead of testing the accuracy, truthfulness, credibility, and bias, or interest if said witnesses, the Defense opted not to cross-examine them - allegedly on the ground that accused were not represented by counsels of their own choice but only by PAO counsels de oficio at the time the Court received the direct testimonies of said witnesses.
To further bolster their defense, accused assert that if they indeed committed the crime they could have left the place after the commission to escape any liability but they were there all the time until they were implicated. This is plain sophistry. It is true that "the wicked flee when no man pursueth but the righteous are as bold as a lion" as the defense points out. But, this proposition cannot pass judicial muster for a while in some cases the Supreme Court has ruled that assailant's decision not to flee after the crime
Accused's argument that they did not have the motive to commit such a serious crime of kidnapping and serious illegal detention is devoid of merit. In People v. Tanco, 58 Phil. 255, Motive is never an essential element of a crime. An extreme moral perversion may lead a man to commit a crime without a real motive (especially when under the influence drugs) but just for the sake of committing a criminal act does not necessarily mean that there is none, but that simply it is not known to us, for we cannot probe into the depth of ones conscience where it may be found, hidden away and inaccessible to our observation. One way be convicted of a crime whether motive appears to be good or bad, or when though no motive is proven. A good motive does not prevent an act from being a crime. As cited iii the case of People v. Salcedo, 62 Phil. 812: "Evil designs are sometimes concealed under the cloak of affection and friendship. The betrayal of the Great Master by one of his trusted disciple was stamped with a kiss" and so runs the old adage: Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are fateful. Besides, motive need not be established when was positively identified and there is no doubt as to the identity of the culprit (People v. Demetirio, 124 SCRA 914).
The existence of conspiracy to kidnap and to seriously, illegally detain the victims has been proven beyond reasonable doubt. It is fully supported by the evidence. The community of purpose, the unity of design, and the acts simultaneously or contemporaneously performed by the accused have been satisfactorily shown. The accused by their acts arrived at the same objects and their acts though apparently independent are in fact concerted and cooperative, indicating closeness of personal associations, concerted actions and concurrence of sentiments. The conducts of the accused before. during and after the commission of the crimes clearly show that they acted in concert (People v. Agag, L-64951, June 1984).
"Commit a crime, and the earth is made of glass. Commit a crime, and it seems as if a coat of snow fell on the ground, such as reveals in the woods the track of every partridge and fox and squirrel and mole ... Some Damning circumstance always transpires. Wherever a man commits a crime, God finds a witness ... every secret crime has its reporter."
However, the Court is morally convinced that. the accused have committed beyond reasonable doubt only two crimes of Kidnapping and Serious Illegal Detention as charged. The Court is not morally certain that there was also rape or homicide or dehumanizing treatment of the victims by the accused. While Rusia admitted raping Jacqueline, the Court doubts that such admission could be used against the others considering that Rusia has been discharged as an accused. Besides, the Court is disinclined to impose the death penalty hi these cases considering the ages of most of the accused (below 21)at the time of the commission of the crime and the poverty and lack of education of the others. Moreover, the mother of the victims Thelma Chiong has made public announcements that she has already "forgiven" the accused for what they did to her daughters. Having thus "forgiven" them, the Court is certain that Mrs. Chiong, a good Christian, would no longer want the death penalty to be imposed on the accused. To quote from the Sermon of the Mount: "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. " As for aggravating and mitigating circumstances, the Court, believes that these counter-weight or offset one another in these cases. To the mind of the Court, therefore, it is enough punishment that these youths (who appear to be "victims" themselves of our "drug-culture" society and of their respective environments) be subjected to penalty of reclusion perpetua and thus effectively barred from any further kidnapping of young women whom they (regarding themselves "crazy kings" may under the influence of drugs decide to forcibly abduct again in the future.
Under R.A. 7659 otherwise known as the "Heinous Crimes Act" the penalty for Kidnapping and Serious illegal detention is Reclusion Perpetua to Death when the illegal detention had lasted for more than three (3) days. But since accused Larraņaga and the Uy brothers were below 21 at the time of the kidnapping, the Court considers such circumstance to be not. only mitigating circumstance (Art. 13(10), Revised Penal Code) but that it would constitute cruel and unusual punishment to impose upon such youthful offenders the Death Penalty (24B C.J.S. Criminal Law, Secs. 1983(2), 1989). As regards the other accused Caņo, Balansag and Adlawan, they appear to be poor people, lacking in education, and were represented by only PAO lawyers. The Court cannot sentence the rich accused in those cases to Reclusion Perpetua and the poor accused to Death. Of course, our Supreme Court can always upgrade the crimes and penalties imposed by this Court -
The point is that imposing the Death Penalty on these accused will not bring Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong back to life. We have to temper justice with mercy. An "eye for an eye" and a life for a life? But this law of retaliation or "Lon Talionis" as sanctioned in the Old Testament was precisely debunked and condemned by Jesus Christ in His "Sermon on the Mount" wherein He preached:
"Ye have heard that it hath been said, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth; But I say unto you, Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, that ye may be children of your Father, who is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good x x x and he sendeth rain to the just and the unjust."
The mother of the victims is, of coarse, grief-stricken and disconsolate because of what happened to her young daughters in these drug-induced crimes. But so are the mothers of the youthful accused likewise grief-stricken and disconsolate - because they would also miss their young sons who have been imprisoned in the BBRC since 1997 and will probably continue to be imprisoned in the National Penitentiary for more than twenty (20) years. All will therefore just have to "try at last to learn to kiss the cross" - the cross of humanity or the cross of life that we will have to 'bear for being "tao larnang" ("human only") as it goes in that old song "My Rosary":
memories that bless and burn,
WHEREFORE, all the accused Francisco Juan Larraņaga, Josman Aznar, James Andrew Uy, James Anthony Uy, Rowen Adlawan, Alberto Caņo and Ariel Balansag are hereby found Guilty beyond reasonable doubt of two crimes of Kidnapping and Serious Illegal Detention and are hereby sentenced to imprisonment of two (2) Reclusiones Perpetua each - which penalties, however, may be served by them simultaneously (Article 70, Revised Penal Code). Further, said accused are hereby ordered to indemnify the heirs of the two (2) victims in thee cases, jointly and severally, in the amount of P200,000.00 in actual damages and P5,000,000.00 by way of moral and exemplary damages.
signed: MARTIN A. OCAMPO
(NOTE: For the benefit of our foreign readers, blue wordings is our translation from Tagalog (Philippine language) to English ...the webmaster).
(Summary and Evaluation of the Defense Evidence)
Accused Francisco Juan Larraņaga alias Paco was supposed to testify that on July 16, 1997, he was in Manila taking his mid-term examination and that in the evening thereof, he was with his friends at R & R Bar & Restaurant until 3:00 o'clock dawn of July 17, 1997. However, the prosecution and the defense entered into a stipulation approved by the Court that said witness if presented would testify as above stated and so the defense dispensed with the presentation of Paco Larraņaga.
To corroborate his alibi, Paco Larraņaga presented his mother, friends and teachers.
Margarita Gonzales Larraņaga is the mother of Paco; She testified that her son was enrolled at the Center for Culinary Arts (CCA), Quezon City. She paid the school tuition fees for Term I which covered the period from June 16, 1997 to August 7, 1997. While Paco was studying in Manila she rented a, condominium unit at the Loyola Heights Condominium which is just a walking distance to his school. Her son completed Term 1 and received his final grades in the subjects Fundamentals in Cookery and Applied Mathematics.
She remembered that in the evening of July 16, 1997, Paco called her from his condo unit using his friend's cellular phone. Prosecution manifested that the Mobiline Statement of Account (Exh. "36"-Larraņaga) does not show the name of the caller but only the date and the number called.
On July 17, 1997, Paco took his mid-term examinations as shown by his test paper and that of his classmates (Exh. "31" & series) on the subject Fundamentals of Cookery but the prosecution noted that the test paper has no date to indicate when it was given. In the evening thereof, Paco came home to Cebu City taking a Philippine Airline flight. She stated that originally, Paco's departure time was at 7:00 P.M. of July 17, 1997 but because he arrived early at the Manila Domestic Airport he was able to take 5:00 P.M. flight for Cebu.
She emphasized that her son has several look-alike in Cebu his type, built and his being a mestizo-looking but she does not want to implicate any one and does not like to name one because she does not want their parents to suffer what she is suffering. She also said that she loves her son so much that she would do everything to help him.
2 of annex
Since her son left for Manila on June 8, 1997 to study, she kept tract on him through the telephone. She would call him up at least once a week and her son would also call her but other than those times she did not have any idea as to his other activities since it would be impossible for her to monitor him 24 hours a day. Paco is very close to her and would confide to her about his friends, his crushes and his girlfriend, Margarita Jarque. Her son never mentioned Marijoy to her and she knows that Paco never met the latter and nor was his son an admirer of Marijoy because she knows more or less his friends and the girls that her son admired. She belied the testimony of Mrs. Chiong that for two or three occasions in 1994, Paco with Aznar, Adlawan and another friend brought Marijoy home because at that time Aznar was still in Bicutan. She learned from Paco himself upon his arrival from Manila on July 17, 1997 and also from his friends that he had been at R & R Bar and Restaurant and showed before the Court the pictures which were taken during the occasion (Exhs. "39", "40" 4"41").
Mrs. Larraņaga also testified that before her son was committed to the BBRC, she never met her son's co-accused Alberto Caņo, Ariel Balansag and Rowen Adlawan and she saw Rusia for time first time only during his arraignment. But she knows Josman Aznar and had met him when he came to their house. Paco admitted knowing Adlawan before this incident.
Lourdes Pacita Montalvan or
Leah is 17 years old from Quezon, Bukidnon. She remembered having met and
known Paco Larraņaga sometime in the middle of June 1997 at the lobby of
the Loyola Heights
Condominium where she was also staying while she was still a student of
On July 16, 1997 at more or less 7:00 o'clock in the evening, she went up to the unit of Paco where he met his friend a certain Richard. Later that evening, Charmaine another friend of Paco also arrived. She did not have the chance to know their family names because she never saw them again after that first meeting. She stayed at Paco's unit for almost two (2) hours just listening to their conversation as she was only new in the group. Thereafter she went back to her unit at Unit # 510 which was just one floor below Paco's and prepared to change as she and Paco were going out later that evening to meet his friends. At around 10 :00 o'clock in the evening, she went after she was informed that Paco and Ann Fonacier were already waiting for her at the lobby. With Ann Fonacier driving her own car, they fetched Maharlika Schulze who lived just a couple of blocks away and the four of them then proceeded to R & R along Katipunan Ave., Quezon City which
is just a 10 minute ride from Loyola Heights Condominium. They were the first to arrive at the bar and after a few minutes, friends of Paco started to arrive. They were more than 10 and they were all seated together and she remembered sitting beside Paco Jarque, her cousin whom she met only in April or May 1997. They were gathered together that evening because Paco Larraņaga was leaving for Cebu the next day and at the same time it was a bienvenida (welcome) party for Marianne del Gallego whom she met for the first time only that evening, who just arrived from Cebu City. Paco told him that he will be taking the PAL last flight for Cebu City on July 17, 1997 because he still an examination on that day.
She stayed at the party until 12:00 o'clock midnight and she went home together with Ann Fonacier and Maharlika Schulze. Witness stated that she was never away from Paco from 9:00 P.M. of July 16, 1997 to midnight of July 17, 1997.
She was requested by Paco's sister on September 17,1997 to testify in these cases and executed an Affidavit dated October 2, 1997 (Exh. "9") (Exh. "WWW"). She stated that even for a short span of time that she had known Paco Larraņaga the latter was like a brother to her because they have so much in common and she is comfortable being with him and beside his Dad knows Paco's father.
On cross-examination, she stated that when she went out with Paco, that evening, Richard was left in Paco's unit.
Charmaine Michelle Flores, also a student and staying in Pasig testified that she knew Paco Larraņaga at the Cebu International School where she was a student from 1984 to 1995.
She said that on July 16, 1997, she met Paco at his condo unit at 7:00 P.M. and met Richard and Leah. She left after two hours. Before July 16, 1997, she had not gone up to Paco's unit although she had been to the building itself. She admitted that until now she does not know the condo unit number of Paco. She also stated that while she was in Manila, she saw Paco Larraņaga four times in 1997. The first time was in March 1997 after his interview in Montessori. The second time was in April 1997, the third time was on July 16, 1997 and the last time on July 26, 1997. That when she learned that Paco was involved in these cases it occurred to her to testify for her friend but she did not know how to get in touch with the Larraņagas.
Richard Anthony Antonio, a native of Bacolod City first came to know Paco during their class orientation at CCA where he was enrolled from June 16, 1997 to May 24, 1998 in Culinary Arts major in Baking while Paco in Culinary Arts major in Cooking.
On July 16, 1997 at around 4:00 P.M. he, Paco and Limneo San Gaspar went to Tia Maria's Bar & Restaurant which is just a ten minute walk from their school. They had a couple of beer and at 6:30 P.M., he and Paco walked back to school to get his car. They proceeded to Loyola Heights Condominium and before going
4 of annex
Richard Antonio on cross-examination testified that although Paco is a friend, he did not know his address here in Cebu City not until now because he is staying with the Larraņagas since he arrived from Bacolod to be a witness in these cases. He likewise did not know his telephone number that is why when he received his cellular phone billing he asked Chef Rowena, Paco's Class Adviser who holds the telephone number of her students about Paco' number. Although he was present when Paco made that call to his mother using his cellular phone and thus knew that it was Paco's call which appeared in that billing lie still verified from their teacher about the number of Paco just to be sure. (The Court is thus wondering or asking what was the point of checking it with the teacher if it was indeed Paco's call made to Cebu considering that it was the only call for Cebu appearing in tile billing) (TsnNovember 25, 1998, p.81). He also testified that when he left the condo unit at around 10:00 P.M., Paco stayed behind contrary to his previous testimony that when he left, Paco went down with him to his car. His affidavit in par. 6 thereof likewise states that Paco stayed in his unit when he left. Witness stated that the four of them (Leah, Charmaine, paco and himself) actually left the condo unit of Paco together at about 9:30 P.M. and dropped Leah at the fifth floor while he and Paco escorted Charmaine out of the building.
He was requested by Paco's sister to testify in these cases at the time he executed his affidavit in September 1997 after the arrest of Paco at Atty. Armovit's Office together with the other friends of Paco. He remembered signing his affidavit twice, once in the office of Atty. Armovit at 9:00 P.M. and the second time was in their school on September 25, 1997 before a lady fiscal.
Jheanessa Ann Fonacier testified that on July. 16, 1997 Paco Jarque called her up and informed her that they were going to have a get together party that night because Marianne del Gallego was in town. At 9:45 P.M. he left Project 4, where she lives to pick up Paco. She arrived at the Loyola Heights Condominium at around 10:00 P.M. With Paco and Leah, they picked up Maharlika Schulze and then proceeded to R & R Bar between 10:35 and 10:45 P.M. They were the first to arrive followed by the group of Sebastian Seno and Paolo Celso. Raymond Garcia was the last to arrive at around 11:00 P.M. While she was at R & R, there were no photographs taken. She left the party at 12:00 midnight together with Montalvan and Schulze.
She also stated that before July 16, 1997, she had gone to R&R Bar on July 1, 1997 when Gahom Garcia was in Manila and
5 of annex
She volunteered to testify in these cases and went to the Office of Atty. Armovit on September 18, 1997 to execute an affidavit. She remembered signing two affidavits, one consisting of 3 pages which she signed on September 18, 1997 at the Office of Atty. Armovit (Exh. "43" - Larraņaga) and the other one consisting of one page subscribed by Fiscal Balbastro of Quezon City (Exh. "ZZZ") which she signed on September 25, 1997 at Cravings Restaurant.. Exh. ZZZ was the one submitted to the Office of the City Prosecutor during the preliminary investigation.
Maharlika Esperanza Schulze corroborated the testimonies of Leah Montalvan and Ann Fonacier that they were at R & R Bar at 10:30 P.M. of July 16, 1997 together with Paco and other friends. She left at 12:00 midnight together with Leah and Ann Fonacier. It was a bienvenida (welcome) party for Marianne del Gallego who just arrived from Cebu and also a despedida (farewell) party for Paco who will be leaving for Cebu to attend his mother's birthday.
She stated that no photographs were taken while they were at R&R Bar but in her affidavit specifically paragraph 3 thereof (Exh. "ZZZ-4") she stated: 'In fact, we have pictures of the gathering with Francisco Juan Larrahaga clearly visible in the pictures hereto attached as Annexes A, B & C" (referring to Exhs. 39, 40, 41) but it appears that she as well as Ann Fonacier and Leah Montalvan are not even in the pictures.
Sebastain Seno and Francisco Paco Jarque, friends of Paco Larraņaga from Cebu but who study in Manila attested that at 10:00 P.M. of July 16, 1997 they were with Paco at R&R Bar and Restaurant :together with their other friends namely; Leah Montalvan, Ann Fonacier, Maharlika Schulze, Maitina del Gallego, Marianne del Gallego, Monaliza del Gallego, Marjorie Aznar, Paolo Celso, Paolo Manguerra and Raymond Garcia for the bienvenida (welcome) party of Marianne del Gallego and despedida (farewell) party for Paco. Between 12:15 and 12:30 midnight they had a picture taking using the camera of Raymond Garcia who arrived at 11:00 P.M. Seno said that he could not remember who took their pictures but there was an instance wherein they requested a waiter to take their photographs. They stayed until 1:00 A.M. of July 17, 1997.
Raymond Garcia a schoolmate of Paco Larraņaga in high school at Don Bosco Technical School and a student of the University of Asia & the Pacific (UA&P) in Manila testified that in the afternoon of July 16, 1997, he had a speaking engagement at the UA&P. His mother and brothers flew in from Cebu to attend the affair and simply with them a disposable camera and a video camera. No pictures were taken while he was delivering a speech. At 11:00 P.M. she joined Maitina del Gallego and other friends at R&R and had picture taking after midnight and after the others had already left. He left R&R at 1:00 A.M. of July 17, 1997 together with the Gallego sisters and Paco Jarque.
6 of annex
Paolo Jesus Celso and Paolo Manguerra both students of UA&P, testified that they went to R&R Bar & Restaurant at 10:00 P.M. of July 16, 1997 together with Marjorie Aznar to attend Marianne del Gallego's bienvenida (welcome) and Paco Larraņaga's despidida (farewell) party. The four of them including Paco and Marjorie Aznar left the party at 3:00 A.M. of July 17, 1997 dropping Paco first at Loyola Heights Condominium.
Paolo Celso stated that aside from the despedida (farewell) party which they held for Paco on July 16, 1997, they did not hold any other despedida (farewell) party when Paco went home to Cebu in March 1997 nor a welcome party when he came back to Manila in the 2nd week of June 1997 when the classes started.
On cross-examination. Paolo Celso was made to explain why the name of Marjorie Aznar is not mentioned in his affidavit as one of those who stayed at R&R until 3:00 A.M. of July 17, 1997 when in his testimony he claimed that the four of them including Marjorie Aznar stayed until 3:00 A.M. Witness answered that what he testified before this court is correct but when asked why he did not call the attention of the fiscal before whom, he signed his affidavit as to why the name of Marjorie Aznar was not in the affidavit, witness did not answer (Tsn-January 5, 1999 pp. 59-60). But later he said that Marjorie Aznar's name was not included in the affidavit because her parents did not give their consent. He does not know whether Marjorie is related to accused Josman Aznar and he was not also curious and interested to know.
Carmina Esguerra, a Food & Beverage Manager of Ciudad Fernandino Hotel & Restaurant testified that Paco Larraņaga was her classmate in the subjects Fundamentals of Cookery and Applied Mathematics at CCA.
On July 16, 1997, she was at the Lecture Hall of CCA taking the mid-term examinations and she saw Paco there until 3:00 P.M. She also saw him at 8:00 A.M. of July 17, 1997.
Rowena Bautista, a teacher of CCA stated that Paco Larraņaga was her student, from June 16, 1997 to September 15, 1997. She attested that towards the end of June 1997, Paco was in school as evidenced by her Class Record (Exh. "52"-Larraņaga). She also testified that on July 16, 1997, she conducted, a lecture on Applied Mathematics from .8:00 A.M. until 11:00 A.M. and saw Paco attended the lecture. She also saw him at 6:30 P.M. with Richard Antonio coming down the stairs. She had no class that day but she was in school because as regular employee of the school she is required to be in school from 7:OOA.M. to 4:00 P.M. On that day,
7 of annex
Rebecca Seno, the caretaker of the house in Guadalupe. Said house has four (4) bedrooms which was being leased to different tenants. Room No. 1 is occupied by the owner Dogan Gurcan while Rm. No. 2 was occupied by four female students. On July 16, 1997 she slept at 12 :00 midnight and she did not notice anything unusual which occurred that night.
On cross-examination, Rebecca Seno testified that she could not recall when the four female students started occupying the room and could not also recall when they transferred. She could not also recall when she started living with her husband and when she became a widow. All she can remember is the date July 16, 1997 that nothing unusual happened that night. That both the death of her husband and the alleged incident on July 16, 1997 are not important to her. (Hearing the witness' testimony, the Court was forced to comment that the testimony of the witness is incredible).
Salvador Celeste Boton, the security guard assigned at Loyola Heights Condominium testified that as security guard one of their duties is to record in their logbook the names of the persons who enter and go out of the condominium and the time they enter and go out. On July 16, 1997 at 7:00 P.M. he reported for duty. His tour of duty was from 7:00 P.M. to 7:00 A.M. of the following day. There were four security guards including himself who were on duty that evening and each with specific area of responsibility. Although he was assigned at the lobby, the building management allows them to change their post as long as they enter it in their logbook. At 7:00 P.M. to 7:30 P.M. and at 9:30 P.M. to 9:50 P.M., he went roving around the building, and he was relieved in his post as lobby guard by his fellow security guard. He did not however enter such change of assignment in their logbook. At about 10:00,P.M., Paco Larraņaga came down to the lobby and requested him to call up Leah Montalvan, also an occupant of the building. After he had made the call, Leah came down. As the two were talking, Albert David, the person in-charge of the condominium arrived and talked to him. At this point of time, Paco and Leah went out and because he was busy entertaining Albert David he was not able to immediately enter into his logbook Paco's going out with Leah at 10:15 P.M. and this according to the witness explains why the entry marked as Exh. "66-IIII-1" was written on top of the page of the logbook and not on the line where entries are supposed to be written because he had already made other entries before he could enter Paco's going out with Leah. He stated that he could have entered Paco's entry on the fourth line which was vacant but he thought that it was already too far to enter it after 22:30 (10:30) so he decided to write it on top of the page. He also admitted having made the following entries: Mr. Feliciano Noel came out at 2132 HRS; Miss Manlapiz came in 2132 HRS; Mr. & Mrs. Boy Gan came in 2145 HRS. He said he made these entries although he was out roving at that time because the security
Witness also explained that those entries in the logbook which were not written in sequence or numerical order were those which he was not able to enter immediately because he was busy. He also said that he did not notice Paco and Richard Antonio entered the building between 7:00 and 8:00 P.M. of July 16, 1997 despite the fact that lie was in his post at 7:00 P.M.
Counsel for accused Larraņaga manifested to the Court their intention to present the Officer-In-Charge of the Land Transportation & Franchising Regulatory Board for the purpose of establishing that the bus fare from Carcar to Cebu is P15.00 and the passenger fare for airconditioned van from Carcar, to Cebu is P30.00. The prosecution admitted it but with qualification because the prosecution maintains that at that particular point in time when rebuttal witness Camilo Canoy took a ride on that alleged van its airconditioning unit was out of door and this explains why the fare was only P15.00.
They also offered to present Romeo Lisondra, Operations Manager of Manila International Airport to testify that private air crafts' landing and taking off manifest records on July 15, 16 & 17, 1997 do not show the name of Paco or Francisco Juan Larraņaga and that Airport Regulations say that private aircrafts cannot take off after 6:00 P.M. and before 5:00 A.M. but the Court ruled that they are still immaterial and irrelevant because it still does not prove that Paco did not take a flight on those dates because he may have used another name thus it was not still, impossible for him to have gone to Cebu on those dates. And Mactan International Airport Manager, Capt. Romero Verzonda who keeps records of all private aircrafts and chartered aircrafts taking off and landing to show that Paco Larraņaga is not among the names stated in their Manifest.
Counsel for Larraņaga also offered to present the representatives of the airlines companies to offer proofs that on the four (4) airline companies flying Manila to Cebu the name of Paco Larraņaga does not appear in the list of pre-flight and post-flight manifests from July 15, 1997 to about noontime of July 17, 1997. The Court however considered their testimonies to be irrelevant and immaterial because it will not prove that it was impossible for Paco have gone to Cebu during those periods.
Accused Josman Aznar was not presented as a witness and instead presented his friend one Michael Dizon who testified that on July 16, 1997 at 8:00 P.M., he, Lyndon Naya and Bobby Banzon were dropped by Miguel Cabaero at the house of Josman Aznar in
9 of annex
On July 18, 1997, he was again in the house of Josman Aznar and they went to Ribo's and wind up at BAI Disco and DTM. Paco Larraņaga who he knew in 1996 at USC was with them at Ribo's. He testified that it had been the practice of their group every Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from July 1996 to 1997 (without miss) to converge at the house of Josman after which they would go somewhere else and go home early dawn or at 3:00 to 4:00 early dawn They would go to bars, have drinks and spent his entire weekly allowance of P600.00 in discos and bars. His mother who is a teacher and his father an overseas worker tolerated this although there were times she would get mad.
He was formally introduced to Josman in May 1995 at 80's Bar but it was only in July 1996 that he started to hang around at the house of Josman and held get together with their friends. He testified that he is not a close friend of Josman Aznar despite the fact that they would go out every Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from July 1996 to July 1997 because sometimes he would have bitter arguments with Josman. He also stated that from the house of Josman in Lahug to Ayala Center is oly 3 to 4 minutes ride by car or other vehicle. From BAI Disco to A.yala is about 15 to 20 minutes (without traffic and at nighttime) while DTM to Ayala is 20 to 25 minute ride.
He excuted an Affidavit (Exh. "EEEE") in connection with these cases which he signed before Atty. Fidel Gonzales. In his affidavit, he did not mention the, name of Lyndon Naya as one of those who were with them on the night of July 16, 1997 because his parents would not permit him to execute an affidavit. Enrico Aznar's name does not also appear in the affidavit.
Counsel for the Uy brothers, presented one of the accused James Anthony Uy alias Wangwang, 17 years old having been
He testified that he met Rusia. for the first time in April 1997 at Glico's in Ayala Center. He was introduced to Rusia who, gave his name as David Florido by their friend Steve. In 1997, He met Rusia eight (8) times in Ayala Center always at about 4:30 P.M. On April 28, 1997, Rusia went to their house at Happy Valley but he did not let him in because his father was inside the house. He said that Rusia had gone to their house only once (Tsn-January 27, 1999, p.43) but later in his testimony, he said that Rusia also went to their house on June 21, 1997 and he was with his brother MM and even slept with them because wanted to conduct him home (Ibid, p.5 1). The last time he met Rusia was in June 1997.
He also knows Rowen Adlawan in 1994 when they happened to sit beside each other inside the Mormon Church when they attended a conference. He (Wangwang) was with his friends. When lie studied at the University of Southern Philippines, Adlawan became his schoolmate. He was then a first year student while Adlawan was in third year. They became friends but were not close friends. That Adlawan had also gone to their house twice, the first time was sometime in the middle of April 1997 and the second time was in May 1997 to wait for his friend Wilson but he did not go inside their house but only waited at the gate. The last time he met Adlawan was in August 1997 and met him again already at the BBRC on December 20, 1997 when he visited him.
He further stated that his brother MM also came to know Adlawan also in their church after they attended a mass. But in his previous testimony, he did not mention that his brother was with him when he met Adlawan as he said that he was with his friends and that it was during a conference that he met Adlawan and not a mass (Tsn-January 27, 1999, pp. 76-77). He and his brother were arrested on May 12, 1998 in their house and from July 16, 1997 until their arrest they did not anywhere outside of their residence or they did not try to escape. He said that he and his members are members of the CKI (Crazy Kings Involved) a rap group and Rusia was never a member of their group.
On cross-examination, Wangwang stated that he did not finish his first year at USP because he dropped all his subjects when the school year was almost over. The succeeding year he studied at the University of the Visayas in 1995-1996 but also dropped his subjects in October or November 1995. In the school year 1996-1997, he enrolled at AMA and finished his first year. He took the placement test at the University of the Visayas and passed thus in the succeeding year, he was enrolled as a Third year High School also at AMA, He admitted he cut classes for several times
Marlyn Uy, mother of Wangwang and MM was presented to corroborate the testimony of his son. She testified that her sons did not leave the house in the evening July 16, 1997 because they were having a small get-together to celebrate the 50th birthday of their father and all the members of the family was present. The party started at 9:00 P.M. and ended at more or less 11:00 P.M. She slept at 12:00 midnight but her husband was still awake watching T.V. at the sala. That night Wangwang went to his room first while MM was in their bedroom using the telephone and talking t o his girlfriend.
She said that it has been her habit to wake up at 2:00 A.M. to go to the bedroom of her sons Wangwang and MM to check if they are not perspiring and she would change their t-shirts. On July 17, 1997, she checked on them at 2:00 a.m. and went back to sleep after 5 to 10 minutes. She woke up at 6:30 a.m. of July 17, 1997 to give baon to her children who left between 6:45 and 7:00 a.m.
Her sons were arrested on May 12, 1998 and it was only then that she knew that they were suspected of being involved in these cases. She feels that because of the filing of these cases, she feels that she had lost them, she became worried of their future and nervous of what might happen to them while in jail.
Witness for accused Rowen Adlawan did not arrive at the scheduled hearing thus the Court had to consider him to have waived presentation of evidence.
Testifying for accused Alberto Caņo and Ariel Balansag is Clotilde Soterol , a resident of Perrelos, Carcar, Cebu. She testified that her, husband Virgilio is a driver and a part time aircon technician who maintains a shop in their house. On July 16, 1997 at around 10:00 A.M. Alberto Caņo brought to their shop his driven vehicle a dirty white Toyota high side pick-up with Plate No. GGC-491 to have its aircon repaired. Because her husband who was out driving had not yet arrived, Caņo just left the vehicle and its key to her. At 3:00 P.M., Caņo came back and when he learned that Virgilio has not yet come home, he took the vehicle and promised to come back in the evening. Caņo returned bringing the same vehicle at 7:00 P.M. together with his wife Gina, his son John-John, his conductor and co-accused Ariel Balansag and the owner of the vehicle Mr. & Mrs. Paghinayan. But when she told them that Virgilio was still out, Caņo and his group just left the vehicle and its key to come back in the morning. Her husband arrived at 8:30 P.M. and at 9:00 P.M. started to repair the airconditioning unit and was finished Lit. 10:00 A.M. of the following day. The vehicle was taken at 11:00 A.M. of July 17, 1997 by Caņo, Gina, Ariel Balansag and Mrs. Paghinayan.
On cross-examination, Clotilde Soterol testified that she executed two (2) affidavits in connection with these cases. In the first affidavit dated July 28, 1997 (Exh. "DDDD") and which she executed before SP03 Pepino and SPO1 Junco she stated that Alberto Caņo left the van in their place but at 3:00 P.M. of July 16, 1997 took it and did not return until July 22, 1997 when it was finally repaired. This Exh. DDDD was one of the affidavits submitted to the City Prosecutor's Office when Supt. Estilles filed these cases against the accused. On October 1, 1997, she executed another affidavit recanting her first affidavit and stated that at 7:00 P.M. of July 16, 1997, Alberto Caņo returned to their house and left the van until 11: 00 A.M. of the following day, July 17, 1997, She later denied having executed a Sworn Statement at the CIG Office at Camp Sotero Cabahug on July 28, 1997 but she admitted that it is her signature appearing in the said affidavit. She stated that Exh. "DDDD" was not taken at Camp Sotero Cabahug but in her house and that she was only made to sign the document without knowing its contents. According to the witness that four policemen one of whom was a certain Acebedo went to her house at 7:00 A.M. of July 28, 1997and made her sign an affidavit coached in English. The affidavit was read to her and translated in Cebuano the whole page 1 and up to paragraph 10 and was then made to affix her signature on the document which unknown to her was her affidavit because according to her even page 1 of the document was not translated to her contrary to her previous testimony. She likewise testified that when the policemen came to their house they brought with them a typewriter and pieces of paper and prepared her two-page affidavit in less than five (5) minutes.
Catalina Paghinayan, a resident of Panadtaran, San Fernando, Cebu is the owner of the Toyota pick-up with Plate No. GGC-491 a for hire vehicle operated under a Garage Service Category. Said vehicle was impounded by the PNP and until at present it is still in the custody of the PNP-CIG because it was allegedly used in the kidnapping of the Chiong sisters.
She corroborated the testimony of Clotilde Soterol that on July 16, 1997 at around 7:00 P.M. she and her husband together with Alberto Caņo, Ariel Balansag, Gina Caņo and Caņo's son, John-John brought the said vehicle to the shop of the Soterols at Perrelos, Carcar, Cebu and left it together with its key after they were informed that Virgilio Soterol the aircon technician was not yet home. They took back the vehicle at 11:00 A. M. of July 17, 1997,
She testified that accused Ariel Balansag is the nephew of her husband and is staying with them since January 1997. In the evening of July 16, 1997, Balansag slept at 10:00 P.M. and woke up at 6: 00 A.M. of the following day.
Gina Caņo testified for her husband Alberto Caņo. She corroborated the testimonies of Mrs. Soterol and Mrs. Paghinayan that on July 16, 1997 at 7:00 P.M., the vehicle a dirty white Toyota high side pick-up with Plate No. GGC-491 driven by her husband was brought to the shop of Virgilio Soterol at Catugasan, Carcar, Cebu to have its airconditioning unit repaired and was taken back only at 11:00 A.M. of July 17, 1997. Her husband started to drive the van at 4:0 0 P.M. of that day.
On July 25, 1997, her husband while driving was arrested by the CIG agents together with his conductor, Ariel Balansag. She learned about the arrest only on July 26, 1997 at 5:00 A.M. and immediately proceeded to Camp Sotero Cabahug where they were detained. She was able to talk to her husband who informed her that they were forced to admit that they kidnapped the Chiong sisters. Caņo and Balansag were released on July 28, 1997.
On September 12, 1997 while her husband Ariel Balansag were playing basketball, they were again arrested and detained at BBRC until at present. She said that from July 16, 1997 to July 25, 1997 when Caņo was first arrested and detained at the CIG Compound and until his second arrest, her husband never leave their place to hide or to avoid arrest. That aside from Balansag the other accused are complete strangers to her.
On cross-examination, she stated that her husband started driving a passenger jeepney in 1995 but could not recall the month. She could not recall the type of vehicle he was driving, the owner of that vehicle. She could not likewise recall that before her husband became a jeepney driver, he was a conductor of Alfredo Duarte whom she does not know although she already heard his name. She was with her husband when the latter was brought to the City. Prosecutor's Office and she admitted that she did not execute an affidavit to the effect that she was with her husband at the time of the crime.
Gina Caņo also testified that on the night of July 16, 1997, her husband slept at 11:00 P.M. and that since they were married her husband always sleeps ahead of her since lie wakes up early and there was never an instance that she sleeps ahead of him. That she had tried taking the vehicle driven by her husband and that it took them one (1) hour to reach Cebu City from San Fernando at nighttime and taken a ride with her husband from
Accused Alberto Caņo was presented as surrebuttal witness. He testified that he had been driving the dirty white Toyota high side pick‑up with Plate No. GGC-491 and owned by Simplicio and Catalina Paghinayan since January 1997. Oil July 16, 1997, he did not drive the whole day because the airconditioning unit of the vehicle malfunctioned - its compressor burned down and the condenser stocked up. At 7:00 P.M., he was accompanied by his wife Gina, his son John-John, Mr. & Mrs. Paghinayan and his conductor Ariel Balansag to the shop of the Soterols to have the aircon repaired but Virgilio Soterol, the aircon technician was not yet home. They left the vehicle and its key to Mrs. Soterol and went home. After eating his supper, he went to the house of their neighbor to watch T.V. and slept at 10:00 P.M. woke up at around 8:00 A. M. of July 17, 1997. At 11:00 A.M. he took back the vehicle from the shop and he was accompanied by his wife, Gina and Mrs. Paghinayan.
He denied knowing rebuttal witness Camilo Canoy and that he had never seen him in his entire life except that time when he testified before this Court. Thus, he could not think of any reason why Canoy would testify against him. He said that the statement of Camilo Canoy's that he boarded his driven van at about 7:00 P.M. of July 16, 1997 from Carcar to Cebu is a big lie because he did not drive the whole day and night of said date since the vehicle was at the shop. He further belied Canoy's claim that he gave his fare of P15.00 to him (Canoy) as he was sitting in the front seat. Caņo said that he never receive fares from his passengers because he has a conductor who collects the fare in the amount P30.00 and not P15.00.
On cross-examination, Caņo stated that on July 16, 1997 at 10:00 A.M., he left the vehicle at the shop of the Soterols. He went back at 3:00 P.M. and after finding out that the airconditioning unit was not yet repaired, he took back the vehicle and returned it at 7:00 P.M. Thus from 3:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. of July 16, 1997 the vehicle was with him and within that four (4) hours he just washed the vehicle and that was all that he did until he brought it back to the shop at 7:00 P.M. He also stated that during ordinary days and at nighttime, it usually takes him more than one (1) hour to travel from Carcar to Cebu.
On further cross-examination, Caņo testified that in the morning of July 15, 1997 Virgilio Soterol passed him by the roadside and he told him about the defect in his vehicle. The latter stopped and checked his vehicle and then told him that the condenser and compressor were defective. He told his conductor Ariel Balansag to tell his aunt, Mrs. Paghinayan that there were spare parts to be bought and to bring money. At 1:00 P.M. Mrs. Paghinayan gave Virgilio Soterol the money to buy the needed spare parts and learned what was the, defect. The owner of the vehicle also met with Virgilio Soterol and. after being informed what was the defect Mr. Paghinayan gave Soterol the money to buy the
On July 25, 1997 , he and Ariel Balansag were arrested but they were not investigated by the police. The second time they were arrested was on September 12, 1997.
Michael Dizon, a witness for Josman Aznar in his testimony revealed:
of Michael Dizon:
A How far?
A Three minutes, four minutes.
A. If there is not traffic, fifteen to twenty minutes.
Q. Alright. What about DTM located at Reclamation Area to Ayala Center? How long will it take you to reach that place, evening time?
A. About fifteen to twenty minutes.
Q. Twenty minutes from DTM to Ayala Center?
A. DTM to Ayala? Twenty to twenty-five minute (Tsn-January 21, 1999, pp. 48-49).
Accused Wangwang and MM Uy likewise failed to meet the two fold test of time and place considering that Happy Valley the place where accused claimed to have been at the time of the incident and Ayala Center the place of the crime are located within the same locality or city and not far from the sites of the crime and can only be negotiated in a few minutes or less than hour. As stated in the case of People v. Erardo, G.R. 119368, August 18, 1997: Significant, however, is the fact that accused-appellants place of work and the scene of the crime are located in the same
PAGE 16 of
The Court also seriously doubts the allegation of Paco Larraņaga that he could not have kidnapped the victims because he was in Manila where the was the studying, therefore, it is highly impossible and improbable for him to be present at the scene of the crime at the time of its commission. The Court takes judicial notice of the fact that it takes only about an hour to travel by plane from Manila to Cebu and vice-versa and there are four airline companies operating and catering to Manila and Cebu bound passengers. And this fact was confirmed by the witnesses of Paco Larraņaga:
Testimony of Jheanessa Fonacier:
Q. You have been studying in Manila according to you since school year 1995. Is that correct?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Will you please tell this Court what mode of transportation you usually take from Cebu to Manila/
Q. You take the Philippine Airlines?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Have you taken a plane from Cebu to Manila at noontime?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Also in the evening?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. How far is Metro Manila from Cebu by plane?
A. Forty-five minutes to One (1) hour.
Q. And aside from Philippine Airlines, there is also the so called Grand Air?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. There is also Cebu Pacific?
A. Yes, six.
Q. And there is also Air Philippines?
A. Yes, sir (Tsn-December 3, 1998, pp. 12-13).
Testimony of Ma. Cristina del Gallego:
Q. Now, did, I get you correct when you said that you first studied in Manila in the first semester of June 1997, Can you tell this Court what mode of transportation do you take from Cebu to Manila?
Q. And it will take only about forty-five minutes to one hour, is that correct?
A. I would say between forty-five minutes to one (1) hour.
Q. And you have taken. the plane from Cebu to Manila in the morning?
Q. You have taken the plane from Manila to Cebu at noontime?
Q. Also in the afternoon?
A. I'm not sure in the afternoon.
Q. How about in the evening?
Q. But you are sure there are many flights from Cebu to Manila and from Manila to Cebu?
Q. And what airplane you usually take in going to Manila?
A. I usually take whatever is available.
Q. You have taken the Philippine Airlines?
A. Yes, I have.
Q. The Grand Air?
Q. Cebu Pacific?
Q. And there is also Air Philippines, is that correct?
A. Except for that, I haven't tried that yet (Tsn-December 8, 1998, pp. 27-28).
Held in the case of People v. Pasiliao, et.al., G.R. 98152, October 25, 1992: No physical impossibility exists where the distance between the scene of the crime and the place where the accused was at the time would only take 15 to 20 minutes to negotiate by jeep or where it can be traversed by walking in 1-1/2 hours or where the place involved are only 200 meters apart. Hence, there was no such impossibility.
The various documentary evidence presented by accused Larraņaga to prove his alibi will not also exculpate him. They are not fool-proof. He cannot also capitalize on the travel documents issued to him because they are self-serving. The photos submitted by Raymond Garcia, witness for Paco Larraņaga appear to have been tampered. A negative can always be created or produced out of a tampered photograph.
Testimony of Margarita Larraņaga:
Q. So Paco had his side-view to the camera?
A. Granting it was taken at the . . .
Q. Now, Mam, do you notice also that the companions of Paco especially this man here and this girl here at his back and another girl, they are all looking direct to the camera?
A. It appears so.
Q. And Paco seems to be looking at an empty space.
Q. But definitely Paco is not looking at anyone of his companions, do you agree Mam?
A. He, seems to be smiling at somebody.
Q. But not among his companions?
A. You can also see somebody there who is turning her back.
Q. No, no, no, please answer the question, not he is smiling as you said but not among his companions Please answer the question.
A. Now, I would not know if the person standing there is not one of the companions.
Q. No, I'm just saying among the companions in this photograph?
x x x
Q. And by the way also, do you notice that the other companions of Paco are sitting on a white plastic chair, do you notice that Mam?
Q. And Paco is sitting on a black steel chair?
A. Paco is heavy, he might break it, so maybe he chose a heavier chair (Tsn-November 24, 1998, pp. 36-41).
The alibi presented by the accused is even made more dubious and weak because it was attempted to be established mainly by the accused themselves, their mother and friends. In People v. Romero, 119 SCRA 234, the Supreme Court ruled that the testimony of a mother corroborating her son's alibi scarcely merits any probative value. It is undeniably tainted with bias for it springs from the natural desire of a mother to exculpate her son from criminal liability. Likewise, the claim of alibi supported only by the testimony the friends of the accused deserves scant consideration , more so in the light of his positive identification as the assailant (People v. Antud, G.R. 95684, October 27, 1992). The witnesses presented by Paco Larraņaga are his friends or barkada and the airfares, accommodations and expenses of Paco's witnesses were paid for by the Larraņaga's and this was admitted by the defense witnesses themselves in open court. The Court declines to give credit to the testimonies of these witnesses on account of bias. They were shown to be so clearly related to accused as to wish him to evade liability for the kidnapping, as they appear to have done,
The Court cannot absolve Paco just because of the number of witnesses who testified in his favor. In determining the value or credibility of evidence, witnesses are to be weighed, not numbered. It is common to reach a conclusion of guilt on the basis of the testimony of a single witness so long as such testimony was found to be clear and convincing by the trial court (Marco v. Court of Appeals, G.R. 117561, January 11, 1997).
Likewise, the presentation of the security guar of the condominium whose duty includes among others writing in his logbook the time and the names of the persons who check in and out of the condominium contributes practically nothing to strengthen Paco's case. Rather he succeeded only in weakening Paco's already weak alibi. The entry of Paco for July 16, 1997 appears to have been added after said date because it appears on the upper margin of the page - the only entry in the entire logbook to appear to have been so entered.
Testimony of Salvador Boton:
Q. It was your explanation that you made this entry, this 2215 Hours meaning 10: 15 ahead of the, subsequent entry which is 2205, 10:05 because you were interrupted? Is that it?
A. No, sir. Before I wrote this 2215 I already wrote this 10:05.
Q. But t1lis entry 2205 happens first before 2215?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Ano and pangalan noong tao? (What's the name of that person?) David?
A. Albert David, Your Honor.
Q. Albert David - - -
A. When I wrote this (Witness, referring to an entry 2230 Hrs meaning 10:30) I was already writing this entry when I was interrupted by Albert David and it was already the time that Paco went out already.
20 of annex
Q. Because you were bothered you could not. What about the third entry?
Q. But you have already made that 10:30 entry?
A. Yes, your Honor.
Q. What about the fourth entry? What time did he make it?
21 of annex
Q. And there were no other entries after the third line?
A. Yes, there was none.
Then why did you enter the entry of Paco on top of the page? Why did you
22 of annex
Q. so you decided to put it on top of the page instead?
A. Yes, your Honor.
Q. You did not enter after the page was full,,, filled up? Is that what you did you enter that entry of Paco after that page was already filled up and you only inserted it there? That is why it is on top of the page?
A. No, your Honor (Tsn-January 14, 1999, pp. 69-74).
The Court considers as unreliable and not credible the testimonies of these witnesses. All were unable to withstand the test of cross-examination.
Moreover, Paco Larraņaga and Josman Aznar were positively identified by prosecution witnesses Sheila Singson and Annalie Konahap as the persons they saw that night shortly before the kidnapping talking with the Chiong sisters. The Court finds no reason to attribute falsity to the testimony given by said prosecution witnesses. Neither did the security guard Williard Redobles who also saw Paco and Aznar at Ayala Center in the night of July 16, 1997 nor the shoemaker Rosendo Rio who testified that he saw Paco and Aznar in the early morning of July 17, 1997 at Sitio Tan-awan, Carcar have any improper motive, bias or interest to falsely testify against the said accused. All these witnesses had seen Paco and Aznar before, therefore, they could not have been mistaken about their identities. More so, the testimonies of these corroborative witnesses were not subjected to cross-examination, the same having been waived by the accused. Thus, the testimonies of these witnesses became so strong being un-rebutted arid their credibility unquestioned.
Albert Caņo and Ariel Balansag's alibi and denial also miserably fall short of exculpation. As in alibi, denial if unsubstantiated by clear and convincing evidence is a negative and self-serving evidence which deserves no weight in law and cannot be given greater evidentiary value over the testimony of credible witnesses who testily on affirmative matters (People V. Amaguin, G.R. 54344, January 10, 1994). Accused's denials cannot prevail over the detailed and unshaken testimonies. of prosecution witnesses Miguel Vergara, Alfredo Duarte and Camilo Canoy who testified on a forthright and categorical in identifying Caņo, Balansag and Rowen Adlawan (See Tsn-September 14,15, 1998 & February 3, 1999) and their declarations were unblemished
The alibi and denial of Caņo and Balansag were corroborated by Gina Caņo, wife of accused Alberto Caņo, Mrs. Paghinayan, aunt of Balansag and owner of the vehicle and by Clotilde Soterol, wife of the aircon technician. An alibi is patently weak if corroborated by accused's wife who would naturally be expected to make statements that could exculpate her husband from criminal liability. The alibi to be acceptable, it must count with a strong corroboration (People v. Hermosa, Gr. 74060, September 15, 1989). Natural human nature being what it is, she is expected to come to her husband's aid, hence, her testimony if at all, carries very little weight (See People v. Detuya, 154 SCRA, 410). Mrs. Catalina Paghinayan the van owner has an interest in proving that her vehicle was not used in the commission of the crime so that it would not be confiscated by the State. Mrs. Clotilde Soterol was described by the Court as "crazy" because she could not seem to get her story straight and kept on changing her testimony (See Tsn-January 12, 1999, pp. 67-68) and was incredible.
A. They brought with then a typewriter and papers.
Q. In other words, that was typewritten in your house?
A. Yes, your Honor.
Q. While they were asking you questions in Visayan?
A. Yes, your Honor.
x x x
Less than five (5) minutes, Your Honor.
Q. Less than five (5) minutes?
A. Yes, your Honor.
Q. Are you sure of that?
A. Yes, your Honor.
x x x
A witness who could not seem to get her story straight, conveniently changing it to suit his purpose at the particular moment is one the defense could do without (People v. Macagaling, 237 SCRA 299). Also her subsequent retraction of her signed extrajudicial confession regularly made before an investigating police officer cannot be given serious consideration. Retractions are generally unreliable and axe looked upon with considerable disfavor by the Courts. The asserted motives for the repudiation are commonly held suspect and the veracity of the statements made in the affidavit of repudiation are frequently and deservedly subject to serious doubt. (People v. Logronio, G.R. 92416, October 13, 1992). In the instant case, it is too late for the day for Clotilde Soterol's recantation without portraying herself as a liar.
Virgilio Soterol the alleged aircon technician's refusal to testify because he was afraid per Atty. Debaluco's' manifestation during the scheduled hearing (Tsn-February 10, 1999, p.,5) creates doubt in the mind of the Court as to the truthfulness of the allegation of Caņo and Balansag that the van was in the shop of the Soterols from July 16 to 17, 1997.
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