E S O L U T I O N
bar are four (4) motions for reconsideration separately filed by appellants (1)
Francisco Juan Larrañaga, (2) Josman Aznar, (3) Rowen Adlawan,
Alberto Caño and Ariel Balansag, and (4) James Anthony Uy and James
Andrew Uy, assailing our Decision dated February 3, 2004 convicting them of
the crimes of (a) special complex crime of kidnapping and serious
illegal detention and (b) simple kidnapping and serious illegal
detention, the dispositive portion of which reads:
the Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 7,
In Criminal Case No. CBU-45303, appellants FRANCISCO JUAN LARRAÑAGA
alias ‘PACO;’ JOSMAN AZNAR; ROWEN ADLAWAN alias ‘WESLEY;’
ALBERTO CAÑO alias ‘ALLAN PAHAK;’ ARIEL BALANSAG; and
JAMES ANDREW UY alias ‘MM,’ are found guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the special complex crime of kidnapping and serious
illegal detention with homicide and rape and are sentenced to suffer the
penalty of DEATH by lethal injection;
In Criminal Case No. CBU-45304,
appellants FRANCISCO JUAN LARRAÑAGA alias ‘PACO;’ JOSMAN
AZNAR; ROWEN ADLAWAN alias ‘WESLEY;’ ALBERTO CAÑO alias
‘ALLAN PAHAK;’ ARIEL BALANSAG; and JAMES ANDREW UY
alias ‘MM,’ are found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
the crime of simple kidnapping and serious illegal detention and are sentenced
to suffer the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA;
In Criminal Case No. CBU-45303, appellant JAMES ANTHONY UY, who was
a minor at the time the crime was committed, is likewise found guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the special complex crime of kidnapping and serious
illegal detention with homicide and rape and is hereby sentenced to suffer the
penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA; in Criminal Case No. CBU-45304,
he is declared guilty of simple kidnapping and serious illegal detention and
is sentenced to suffer the penalty of TWELVE (12) years of prision mayor
in its maximum period, as MINIMUM, to seventeen (17) years of reclusion
temporal in its medium period, as MAXIMUM;
Appellants are ordered to pay jointly and severally the heirs of Marijoy and
Jacqueline, in each case, the amounts of (a)
(3) Justices of the Court maintain their position that RA 7659 is
unconstitutional insofar as it prescribes the death penalty; nevertheless,
they submit to the ruling of the majority that the law is constitutional and
the death penalty can be lawfully imposed in the case at bar.
accordance with Article 83 of The Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 25
of RA No. 7659, upon the finality of this Decision, let the records of this
case be forthwith forwarded to the Office of the President for the possible
exercise of Her Excellency’s pardoning power.
anchor their motions on the following grounds:
COURT A QUO ERRED IN BARRING LARRAÑAGA AND THE NATIONAL BUREAU OF
INVESTIGATION (NBI) REGIONAL DIRECTOR FLORENCIO VILLARIN FROM TESTIFYING;
POLICE PLANTED EVIDENCE ON APPELLANTS;
SUFFICIENTLY PROVED HIS ALIBI;
TRIAL COURT PREVENTED THE INTRODUCTION OF KEY DEFENSE EVIDENCE;
THE CORPSE FOUND IN THE RAVINE WAS NOT THAT OF MARIJOY; AND
HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE TRIAL COURT DID NOT VIOLATE THE
RIGHTS OF THE ACCUSED TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW.
HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN (A) DISCHARGING DAVID RUSSIA AS STATE WITNESS;
AND (B) CONVICTING THE APPELLANTS MAINLY ON THE BASIS OF THE TESTIMONY
HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN REJECTING THE DEFENSE OF APPELLANT AZNAR.
WITNESS RUSIA IS NOT QUALIFIED TO BE A STATE WITNESS UNDER PARAGRAPHS (D) AND
(E), SECTION 17 OF THE REVISED RULES OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE.
TESTIMONY AND THAT OF THE OTHER PROSECUTION WITNESSES WERE INCREDIBLE,
INCONSISTENT, AND UNWORTHY OF BELIEF.
AND PREJUDICE AGAINST THE DEFENSE WERE GLARINGLY DISPLAYED BY THE COURT A QUO
WHICH GREATLY AFFECTED THE OUTCOME OF THE CASE.
ANDREW AND JAMES ANTHONY UY
JAMES ANDREW S. UY WAS, LIKE HIS YOUNGER BROTHER JAMES ANTHONY S. UY, A MINOR
AT THE TIME THE OFFENSES AT BAR ALLEGEDLY HAPPENED LAST JULY 16, 1997;
his supplemental motion for reconsideration dated March 25, 2004, Larrañaga
submitted a separate study of Dr. Racquel Del Rosario-Fortun, Forensic
Pathologist, to show that the examination conducted by the prosecution expert
witnesses on the body found in Tan-awan, Carcar is
a similar supplemental motion for reconsideration,
Aznar submitted to this Court the Affidavit dated February 27, 2004 of Atty.
Florencio Villarin, Regional Director of the National Bureau of Investigation,
Central Visayas, to show that: (1) the police investigation of this
case was flawed; (2) he (Aznar) was arrested in 1997 not because of his
involvement in this case but because he had in his possession a pack of shabu
and firearms; and (3) David Rusia is not a credible witness.
July 15, 2004, the Solicitor General filed a consolidated comment
praying that the four (4) motions for reconsideration be denied with finality,
there being no new argument raised. He responded to appellants’
assignments of errors by exhaustively quoting portions of our challenged
In his consolidated comment to Aznar’s supplemental motion for reconsideration, the Solicitor General enumerated the grounds why Atty. Villarin’s Affidavit should not be given consideration. On February 15, 2005, Aznar filed a reply alleging that the Solicitor General “read out of context” certain portions of the Affidavit. He argued that the Affidavit only exposes the flawed investigation of the Chiong case and that, at the time of his arrest, there was no evidence against him. On March 4, 2005, the Solicitor General filed a rejoinder stating that Aznar’s reply “actually supports the undersigned counsel’s (Solicitor General’s) position that Atty. Villarin’s Affidavit is utterly inadequate to prove his innocence or at least even acquit them on reasonable doubt,” thus, “it would be useless to call for new trial on the basis of such Affidavit.” On March 29, 2005, Aznar filed a sur-rejoinder insisting that the Affidavit should be given due consideration.
for the motion filed by appellants Uy brothers with respect to James
Andrew’s alleged minority, we find all the motions bereft of merit.
the inception, let it be emphasized that the filing of a motion for
reconsideration does not impose on us the obligation to discuss and rule again
on the grounds relied upon by the movant which are mere reiteration of the
issues previously raised and thoroughly determined and evaluated in our
Decision being questioned. In Ortigas and Company Limited Partnership
we ruled that, "this would be a useless formality of ritual
invariably involving merely a reiteration of the reasons already set forth in
the judgment or final order for rejecting the arguments advanced by the
foregoing principle applies squarely to the motions filed by appellants Larrañaga,
Aznar, Adlawan, Caño and Balansag, it being apparent that the points raised
therein are not neoteric matters demanding new judicial determination.
They are mere rehash of the arguments set forth in their respective briefs
which we already considered, weighed and resolved before we rendered the
Decision sought to be reconsidered.
in view of the severity of the penalties for the crimes charged, we deem it
necessary to stress once more our basis in convicting appellants.
following is a précis of the issues submitted by appellants in their motions:
Court erred –
in according credence to Rusia’s testimony;
in rejecting appellants’ alibi;
in holding that
the trial court did not violate their right
to due process when it excluded the testimony of other defense
in holding that the body found in Tan-awan, Carcar was not that of Marijoy.
deciding a criminal case, the policy of the courts is always to look at the
case in its entirety. The totality of the evidence presented
by both the prosecution and the defense are weighed, thus, averting general
conclusions from isolated pieces of evidence. This means that an appeal
of a criminal case opens its entire records for review.
vigorously contend that we should not have sustained Rusia’s testimony hook,
line and sinker, owing to his tainted record and reputation. However,
it must be stressed that Rusia’s testimony was not viewed in isolation.
In giving credence to Rusia’s testimony, the trial court took into
consideration the physical evidence and the corroborative testimonies
of other witnesses. Thus, we find no reason why we should not
uphold the trial court’s findings.
reiterate our pronouncement in our Decision that what makes Rusia’s
testimony worthy of belief is its striking compatibility with the physical
evidence. Physical evidence is one of the highest degrees of proof. It speaks more eloquently than all witnesses put together.
The presence of Marijoy’s ravished body in a deep ravine at Tan-awan,
Carcar with tape on her mouth
and handcuffs on her wrists certainly bolstered
Rusia’s testimony on what actually took place from
of all, Rusia's
testimony as far as tape on her month, did not concur with the testimony of SPO4 Arturo Unabia, the
Officer-in-Charge of the Carcar Police Station and the first ones to inspect
the body, when he said the tape was in the eyes, forehead and neck. We quote
per TSN 9/17/98 pages 10 and 11:
COURT: Q What about her eyes?
To view picture . Second, bolstered, how? If Rusia would have pointed to the other missing sister's body, then we can safely say he knew what he was talking about. What Rusia testified is what we all knew already. Why didn't he make it a point to find out where the other sister was. Contrary to normal behavior, Rusia testified he saw Adlawan about five (5) days after the incident and did not have the chance to ask where the other girl was? The details of what he supplied to the court was well known to everyone in Cebu even before Rusia was arrested some many months after. The police already had "produced" affidavits from so called witnesses as early as September of 1997, or 8 months before Rusia was arrested.. All Rusia had to do was to memorize these details.
Reinforcing his testimony is its
corroboration by several other witnesses who saw incidents of what he
narrated. Rolando Dacillo and Mario Minoza witnessed
Jacqueline’s two failed attempts to escape from appellants near
(Rolando Dacillo is a police asset of Roy Codiñera, the police officer who "convinced" Rusia to turn state witness. In the Philippines, a police asset is beholden to his handler. One can only wonder, how many more police assets were used as prosecution witnesses. To view article .
Rolando Dacillo and Mario Minoza:
was never explained in court why appellants will hire another van and invite two (2)
total strangers, the driver and the conductor, to witness a crime they were
about to commit when they already had two (2) cars when them. And why go all
the way to Carcar, when they already had a "safehouse" in the city
where the witness had claimed they raped the girls earlier.
likewise claimed that we should have not sustained the trial court’s
rejection of their alibi. Settled is the rule that the
defense of alibi is inherently weak and crumbles in the light of
positive declarations of truthful witnesses who testified on affirmative
Being evidence that is negative in nature and self-serving, it cannot attain
more credibility than the testimonies of prosecution witnesses who testify on
clear and positive evidence.
On top of its inherent weakness, alibi becomes less plausible as a
defense when it is corroborated only by relatives or close friends of the
even Larrañaga who claimed to be in
the individual testimonies of the above witnesses in relation with that of
Rusia, we are convinced that Larrañaga was indeed in
this juncture, it bears mentioning that this case is not the first time that
Larrañaga was charged with or complained of pruriently assaulting young
female students in
Your Honor please, this is a …. Inspector Era handed to this representation
a copy of a
Letter dated September 25, 1996, addressed to the Student Affairs Office,
University of San Carlos, P. del Rosario Street, Cebu City, and this is
signed by Leo Abayan and Alexander Virtucio and noted by Mrs. Aurora Pacho,
Principal, University of San Carlos, Girls High School, and for the record, I
will read the content:
WHOM THIS MAY CONCERN:
We the parents and guardians of Rochelle Virtucio, a first year high school
student of your
That last Monday at around 5:00 PM, Rochelle and other classmates, Michelle
Amadar and Keizaneth Mondejar, while on their way to get a ride home near the
school campus, a black Honda Civic with five young male teenagers including
the driver, suddenly stopped beside them, and simultaneously one of them,
which was later identified as FRANCISCO JUAN LARRANAGA, a BSHRM I student of
your school, grabbed Rochelle by her hand to try to get Rochelle to their
vehicle. She resisted and got away from him. Sensing some people were watching
what they were doing, they hurriedly sped away.
presence of such complaint in the record of this case certainly does not
enhance Larrañaga’s chance of securing an acquittal.
First of all, I don't
alleged incident justifies the Supreme Court to conclude that Paco
Larrañaga, "pruriently assaulting young
female students in
TSN dated Sep. 23, 1998, page 45: COURT: "We are admitting the evidence even if it is hearsay, it is admissible that there is such a letter. Not necessarily proving the truth of the allegations there but proving that there was such a letter. Not necessarily proving the truth of what is alleged there."
Besides, no action was taken by the school nor the parties concerned against Paco. Even Mrs. Larrañaga wasn't called by the school authorities. The police were never called to investigate. Not even Judge Ocampo cited this letter when he sentenced Paco earlier. I don't even believe the prosecution cited this letter in their briefs to either courts. Since the Supreme Court did not cite this letter in their first decision, I wonder why they are bringing this up now.)
Larrañaga and Aznar bewail our refusal to overturn the trial court’s exclusion of Professor Jerome Bailen and Atty. Florencio Villarin, NBI, Regional Director, as defense witnesses. Professor Bailen was properly excluded. First, he is not a finger-print expert but an archaeologist. And second, his report consists merely of the results of his visual inspection of the exhibits already several months old.
(Obviously the Supreme Court did not bother reading all the pleadings of the plaintives-appealants. If they did, they would have read that Bailen had a team of experts with him when he examined the prosecution's evidences and one of them was a fingerprint-expert, P/Lt. Col. REYNALDO D. MARCELO (RET). In fact, he also had the following experts in his team; Prof. Paz Abis, Dept, of Chemistry, Philippine College of Criminology; Mr. Erdolfu Grimares, Ballistician and Crime Scene Reconstruction Expert, Philippine College of Criminology, Anastacio Rosete Jr., Forensic Odontologist; Mr. Victor Besa, Forensic Photographer and Benito E. Molino, MD, Forensic Doctor.
Although, the SC comments that Bailen's report consists merely of the results of his visual inspection of the exhibits already several months old might be true, Bailen and his team of experts brought up so many valid observations worth looking in to. To view whole text of Bailen Report )
Anent Atty. Villarin’s failure to testify before the trial
court, suffice it to say that his belated Affidavit, which Aznar submitted via
his supplemental motion for reconsideration dated May 5, 2004, raises nothing
to change our findings and conclusions. What clearly appears in
said Affidavit is a man trying to impress people that he was the one
responsible for solving the Chiong case and for that, he deserves a promotion.
The trial court, at the onset, must have seen such immateriality in his
intended testimony. Indeed, we agree with the Solicitor General’s
observation that such Affidavit “is neither helpful nor encouraging to
Aznar’s cause.” We quote his keen reflection on the matter:
x x x
x x x
Atty. Villarin’s affidavit, in paragraphs 19 and 20 thereof,
acknowledged that the body found in the Carcar ravine was that of Marijoy.
This assertion immediately conflicts with accused-appellant Aznar’s claim in
his Motion for Reconsideration that the corpse was not Marijoy’s. Surely,
something is amiss in accused-appellant Aznar’s recollection of his defense.
Atty. Villarin confirmed in paragraph
24 of his affidavit that accused-appellant Francisco Larranaga was a suspect
in the subject crimes. Evidently, this statement completely supports this
Honorable Court’s findings in its Decision dated February 3, 2004.
In paragraph 30 of Atty. Villarin’s affidavit, he stated that: ‘The
arrest of Juzman Aznar was the major breakthrough in the investigation of the
case because witnesses came out and identified Juzman Aznar as one of those
allegedly seen talking to the victims on the night they disappeared.’
Hence, accused-appellant Aznar was in the beginning already a first-grade
suspect in the Chiong sisters’ celebrated abduction and killing.
Atty. Villarin admitted in paragraph 36 of his affidavit that: ‘x
x x I did not take this against [Supt. Labra] for preempting our next
move to get Juzman Aznar as we were already placing him under surveillance
because I knew [Supt. Labra] did it in his honest desire to help solve
the crime x x x.’ Clearly, this statement is not an
indictment of the investigation that the police undertook in the subject
Paragraphs 37 to 40 are nothing but personal tirades against alleged
influence peddling by Mrs. Thelma Chiong, mother of the victims, and the
purportedly undue promotions of the lawyers and police officers who unearthed
the evidence against accused-appellants and successfully prosecuted the
latter. In executing the affidavit, it appears that Atty. Villarin
would want to impress that he, rather than those promoted, deserved the
(Again, the justices of the Supreme Court failed to read that Villarin was retiring in a few months time after completing 65 years old. In fact, one of the prosecuting fiscals was appointed to his position after he retired. So how can they claim that Villarin was aiming for a promotion. In the Philippines, the mandatory age of retirement, especially for government officials is 65 years old.)
Atty. Villarin’s inability to
testify in the criminal cases was not due solely to the prosecution’s
action. Whether he ought to testify or not was an argument openly discussed in
court. Hence, for the resulting inability, Atty. Villarin has no one to blame
but the defense lawyers who did everything to make a mockery of the criminal
(How can the Supreme Court conclude that the defense lawyers were making a mockery of the criminal proceedings. Here we had lawyers trying their best to defend their clients in a one-sided court, a court who wanted to pass judgment even before the first defense witness even testified yet , who threatened and actually jailed some of the lawyers, and who suddenly disallowed the lawyers to present anymore witnesses , be accused of making a mockery of the criminal proceedings.)
And lastly, there is nothing in Atty. Villarin’s affidavit of the quality of a “smoking gun” that would acquit accused-appellants of the crimes they have been convicted. For he did not finish the police investigation of the subject crimes; this is the long and short of his miniscule role in the instant case. Indeed, judging by the substance of his affidavit, he would not be testifying in case a new trial is held on anything that has not been said and rejected heretofore, except his own unsubstantiated opinions (i.e. not facts as required by evidentiary rules), his self-congratulatory remarks, and his unmitigated frustration over failing to get a promotion when almost everyone else did.”
(Again it appears that the Supreme Court is evading the issue altogether. Instead of commenting on the more pertinent issues in Atty. Villarin's statement like; Why didn't Mrs. Chiong and Sheila Singson ever mentioned to him, when they were questioned by the NBI a few days after the girls went missing, that they knew Larrañaga and that Larrañaga threatened her Marijoy a month earlier; why the police and the prosecutors did not allow him to interview Rusia; and why the judge and the prosecutor's blocked every move of the defense to make Villarin testify. Instead, the SC picked at length on Atty. Villarin's motive. To view full text of Villarin's affidavit )
can we entertain at this late stage Dr. Fortun’s separate study to show that
the examination conducted on the body found in Tan-awan, Carcar is inadequate.
Such study cannot be classified as newly-discovered evidence warranting
belated reception. Obviously, Larrañaga could have produced it during trial
had he wished to.
Knowing that the prosecution’s theory highly rests on the truth of Rusia’ testimony, appellants endeavor to destroy it by claiming that the body found at the foot of a deep ravine in Tan-awan, Carcar was not that of Marijoy. We must reiterate the reasons why we cannot give our assent to such argument. First, Inspector Edgardo Lenizo, a fingerprint expert, testified that the fingerprints of the corpse match those of Marijoy.
Justices of the Supreme Court, .......testified that the fingerprint, not
fingerprints. It was based only one single right hand thumbprint of the body.
However, if only they read the Bailen report, the fingerprint-expert in Bailen's
team, P/Lt. Col. Reynaldo Marcelo (Ret.), did not agree with the findings of
Lenizo and itemized many discrepancies in Lenizo's findings.)
James Andrew begs leave and prays that this Court admits at this stage of the
proceedings his (1) Certificate of Live Birth issued by the National
Statistics Office, and (2) Baptismal Certificate. He prays
that his penalty be reduced, as in the case of his brother James Anthony.
of James Andrew’s birth in the Birth Certificate is not legible, thus it is
extremely difficult for us to determine the veracity of his claim.
However, considering that minority is a significant factor in the imposition
of penalty, we find it proper to require the Solicitor General (a)
to secure from the Local Civil Registrar of Cotobato City, as well as the
National Statistics Office, a clear and legible copy of James Andrew’s Birth
Certificate, and thereafter, (b) to file an extensive comment on
the motion for reconsideration filed by James Andrew and James Anthony Uy,
solely on James Andrews’ claim of minority.
as James Anthony is concerned, we maintain his conviction and penalty, there
being nothing in his motion which warrants a reconsideration of our Decision.
resolving the instant motions, we have embarked on this painstaking task of
evaluating every piece and specie of evidence presented before the trial court
in response to appellants’ plea for the reversal of their conviction.
But, even the element of reasonable doubt so seriously sought by appellants is
an ignis fatuus which has eluded any intelligent ratiocination of their
submissions. Verily, our conscience can rest easy on our
affirmance of the verdict of the trial court, in light of appellants’ clear
culpability which demands retribution.
the motions for reconsideration filed by appellants Francisco Juan Larrañaga,
Josman Aznar, Rowen Adlawan, Alberto Caño and Ariel Balansag are hereby DENIED.
The Solicitor General is DIRECTED (a) to secure from the Local
Civil Registrar of Cotobato City, as well as the National Statistics Office, a
clear and legible copy of James Andrew’s Birth Certificate, and (b)
within ten (10) days therefrom, to file an extensive comment on the
motion for reconsideration filed by James Andrew and James Anthony Uy, solely
on James Andrews’ claim of minority. The motion is likewise DENIED
insofar as James Anthony Uy
to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that
the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation
before the case was assigned to the writer of
the opinion of the Court.
 People. v. Bardaje, G.R. No. L-29271. August 29, 1980, 99 SCRA 3881 ; G.R. Nos. 76416 and 94312, July 5, 1999;. People v. Bermas, G.R. Nos. 76416 and 94312, July 5, 1999, 309 SCRA 741; People v. Sacabin, G.R. No. L-36638, June 28,1974, 57 SCRA 707; People v. Demeterio, G.R. No. L-48255, September 30, 1983, 124 SCRA 914.
People vs. Dela Cruz, G.R. No. 108180, February 8, 1994, 229 SCRA
 TSN, September 15, 1998 at 26-47.
Inspector Lenizo finished Law and Criminology. He worked for
the crime laboratory of the Philippine National Police where he was trained in
finger-print examination and where he conducted around 500 finger-print
examinations, 30 of which involved dead persons. At the time he testified,
Inspector Lenizo was head of the Fingerprint Identification Branch of the PNP
Crime Laboratory, Region 7.
(P.S. With apologies to the justices of the Supreme Court. I am just trying here to save the lives of five young innocent men. I know, three of my daughters were with Paco in Manila when this alleged crime happened here in Cebu. ...... the webmaster.)
THE ABOVE TEXT IS THE FAITHFUL REPRODUCTION OF THE ORIGINAL
DOCUMENT REFORMATTED FOR CLEARER APPRECIATION.