SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. 126174. August 29, 2000]

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. CARMEN LACSON Y OLVES, accused-appellant.

D E C I S I O N

BUENA, J.:

This is an appeal from the joint Decision[1] dated February 10, 1995, of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 45,[2] in Criminal Case No. 93-115148, finding accused-appellant Carmen Lacson guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 15, Article III in relation to 2 (e), (f), (m), (o), Article I of Republic Act No. 6425 (otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972), as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1675, and sentencing her to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P30,000.00 and costs.

In an information dated January 25, 1993, accused-appellant was charged as follows:

That on or about January 8, 1993, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, not having been authorized by law to sell, dispense, deliver, transport or distribute any regualted (sic) drug, did then and there wilfully and unlawfully deliver and transport fifty pieces of transparent plastic bags (or tea bags) with markings (L.M.) each containing about five grams (5g) of white chrystaline (sic) substance known as SHABU containing methamphetamine hydrochloride, which is a regulated drug.

CONTRARY TO LAW. [3]

Under related circumstances, a second information, in Criminal Case No. 93-115149, was filed against accused-appellant, thus:

That on or about January 10, 1993, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously attempted (sic) to bribe and corrupt Inspector Lucio Margallo IV, a public official being the Chief of the Narcotics Division, Western Police District Command, Philippine National Police, in the following manner, to wit: the said accused being then under arrest and in detention for Violation of Section 15, Article III, Republic Act No. 6425, as amended, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act, commence the commission of corruption of public officials by then and there offering to said Inspector Lucio N. Margallo IV the sum of FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND (P500,000.00) PESOS, Philippine Currency, conditioned to her being released from custody and detention, but the said accused did not perform all acts of execution which would have produced the felony by reason of some cause or accident other than the accused own spontaneous desistance, that is, by reason of the refusal of Inspector Lucio N. Margallo IV to accept the offer of P500,000.00.

CONTRARY TO LAW. [4]

A joint trial of two (2) criminal cases ensued. When arraigned on April 22, 1993, accused-appellant pleaded not guilty to both charges.[5] Prior to her arraignment, accused-appellant filed two separate petitions for bail.[6] A preliminary hearing was conducted to resolve accused-appellants petition for bail. In a Resolution dated April 5, 1993, the trial court denied the petition for bail.[7] On June 15, 1994, accused-appellant filed her third petition for bail.[8]

At the hearing on the petition for bail, the prosecution presented the following witnesses: SPO1 Cecilio Lopez, Insp. Lucio Margallo, and Renee Eric Checa; while the defense presented Dr. Remegio A. Camacho. The prosecution adopted the evidence presented during the hearing on the petition for bail, as part of its evidence-in-chief against accused-appellant.[9]

SPO1 Cecilio Lopez, an investigator at the Narcotics Division, Western Police District Command, Philippine National Police, testified that on January 8, 1993, he was included in a mission to apprehend Carmen Lacson and Padzrati Tulawie for transporting/delivering drugs on the basis of the investigation of a certain Eduardo Tugay. Based on the information obtained from Tugay, an investigation and a surveillance were conducted involving accused-appellant. The said investigation revealed that accused-appellant was indeed involved in transporting methamphetamine hydrochloride, commonly known as shabu. Thus, on January 8, 1993, at around 1 p.m., they were able to apprehend accused-appellant Lacson, Padzrati Tulawie, and others at the Nagtahan bridge after accused-appellant handed a shoe box to Padzrati Tulawie. The said shoe box contained transparent plastic tea bags, each containing white crystalline substance, later found positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride, commonly known as shabu. Eleven (11) members were included in the assault group and ten (10) others were in the back-up group. SPO1 Lopez was the team leader of Team B, while Insp. Lucio Margallo headed Team A. Lopezs team concentrated on the two (2) vehicles used by Padzrati Tulawie and boarded by four (4) to five (5) persons. Padzrati Tulawies vehicles were seen parked in queue along Jesus St., Pandacan. Lopez parked his vehicle at a vantage position within the vicinity of Jesus St. and Quirino Avenue. Accused-appellants vehicle, an L-300 van, driven by accused-appellants son and boarded by accused-appellant herself, her grandchild and the latters babysitter, appeared along Jesus St. and turned right to Quirino Avenue. Padzrati Tulawies vehicle followed accused-appellants L-300 van, turned right to Quirino Avenue and ran abreast with the L-300 van at a slow pace. Padzrati Tulawies vehicle, followed by its back-up car, swerved slightly to the right, at the opening of the road leading towards the area under the Nagtahan bridge, approximately three (3) meters from the approach of the Nagtahan bridge, as accused-appellants L-300 van came closer. Padzrati Tulawies vehicle and accused-appellants L-300 van stopped; and through the vehicles windows, accused-appellant, who was seated in the front right side of the L-300 van, handed over a shoe box to Padzrati Tulawie, who was seated at the back seat, right behind the driver of her vehicle. Insp. Lucio Margallo, who was about five (5) meters from the approach of the Nagtahan bridge, overtook the vehicles and cut vehicles path. The police officers jumped off their vehicles and Insp. Margallo took possession of the shoe box. Eleven (11) persons, who were aboard the three (3) vehicles, were brought to the Narcotics Division Office of the Western Police District Command, for investigation. The shoe box which contained plastic bags of white crystalline substance was turned over to the Criminal Investigation Laboratory Division (CILD), Western Police District for examination.[10] On January 10, 1993, he prepared and signed a Joint Affidavit of Arrest[11] and a Supplemental Affidavit on January 11, 1993.[12]

Insp. Lucio Margallo IV, chief of the Narcotics Division, Western Police District Command, testified that at around 1 p.m., on January 8, 1993, together with members of the Narcotics Division, he arrested Carmen Lacson at the approach of the Nagtahan bridge in Pandacan, Manila, while she was delivering/transporting methamphetamine hydrochloride. The arrest was made after surveillance, investigation and the deployment of police officers at the Nagtahan bridge. Insp. Margallo recounted that before they made the arrest, he and four (4) of his men were aboard his car which was parked along Quirino Avenue, facing Nagtahan bridge; another car, which was boarded by more of his men, was parked along Jesus St. He was informed by radio that there were two (2) Daihatsu vehicles parked along Jesus St., about 60 meters away from the corner of Quirino Avenue. He was likewise informed that an L-300 van was approaching Jesus St. The said L-300 van turned right towards Nagtahan bridge, followed immediately by the two (2) Daihatsu vehicles which were earlier parked along Jesus St. When the two (2) Daihatsu vehicles reached the opening of the service road of Nagtahan bridge, and the L-300 van ran abreast with the two (2) Daihatsu vehicles, Insp. Margallo immediately followed the three (3) vehicles. After Insp. Margallo saw the occupant of the front seat of the L-300 van hand over a shoe box to the occupant of the Daihatsu vehicle, he blocked the vehicles path, right at the foot of the Nagtahan bridge. Insp. Margallo jumped off his car, took possession of the shoe box and checked its contents. Inside the shoe box, he saw several pieces of transparent plastic tea bags containing a white crystalline substance suspected to be methamphetamine hydrochloride. Thereafter, he and his men arrested accused-appellant, along with ten (10) others.[13] Accused-appellants 2-year-old grandchild was also taken with them. The suspects were brought to the police headquarters for investigation. After their investigation, the case was referred to the inquest prosecutor. The confiscated methamphetamine hydrochloride was turned over to the Criminal Investigation Laboratory for chemical examination. According to Insp. Margallo, accused-appellant tried to bribe him with P500,000.00 at around 9 p.m., on January 10, 1993, in his office, saying, Tenyente, tulungan mo naman ako, palayain mo na ako. Eh, ito ibibigay ko sa iyo.[14] Accused-appellants son, Arturo Lacson and the babysitter were released for lack of sufficient evidence.[15]

Renee Eric Checa, a chemist assigned at the Criminal Investigation Laboratory Division, Chemistry Section, Western Police District Command, testified that he received a referral letter, dated January 11, 1993 and signed by Insp. Lucio Margallo, and the specimen for chemical examination. The specimen was a shoe box containing 50 pieces of small transparent plastic bags with markings LM. Each plastic bag contained about five (5) grams of white crystalline substance, which after chemical examinations turned out to be methamphetamine hydrochloride.[16] He prepared Laboratory Report No. C-16639 which contained the following findings:

xxx xxx.

Specimen(s) submitted: One (1) box (marked Hawk) and containing fifty (50) pieces of small transparent plastic bags (or teabags) with markings (LM), each containing about five grams (5g) of white crystalline substance, with counter markings.

xxx xxx.

RESULT OF EXAMINATION:

The separate chemical examinations of each of the aforementioned specimens (white crystalline substance) gave POSITIVE (+) results to the tests for shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) in all fifty (50) specimens.[17]

The Court notes that based on Laboratory Report No. C-16639 and the testimony of the examining chemist, Renee Eric Checa, the quantity of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) seized from accused-appellant was estimated at about five (5) grams for each of the fifty (50) pieces of small transparent plastic bags, totaling to about 250 grams. We must emphasize, at this point, the significance of a more precise laboratory examination, particularly, as far as the quantity of the seized prohibited drug is concerned. An inexactitude in the quantity of the prohibited drug involved, resulting in any doubt, shall be resolved in favor of the accused. In this case, however, the Court is not convinced that a doubt exists in favor of accused-appellant because, even if we were to assume that each plastic bag contains less than five (5) grams or utmost only four (4) grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride, summing up, the total quantity of seized methamphetamine hydrochloride will still amount to 200 grams, which is still within the minimum limit prescribed under Section 20 of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended.

The prosecution adopted the foregoing testimonies of SPO1 Cecilio Lopez, Insp. Lucio Margallo and Renee Eric Checa, as part of its evidence-in-chief against accused-appellant. The aforestated prosecution witnesses were recalled by the defense for further cross-examination.

The defense presented the following witnesses: Gloria Torres, accused-appellants babysitter; Rosita Pena, Pilipino Telephone Corporation (PILTEL) employee; Jose Sta. Cruz, building administrator of Executive Mansion in Makati; Arturo Lacson, son of accused-appellant; Teodoro San Luis Punzalan, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) employee; and accused-appellant, Carmen Lacson.

In her defense, accused-appellant testified that on January 8, 1993, she resided at the Executive Mansion in Bangkal, Makati. Previously, she resided at Lot 8, Block 28, Capitol Estate in Quezon City, but left in November 1992 when the house was demolished. She was able to lease the condominium unit at Executive Mansion through the help of Padzrati Tulawie.[18] They are both engaged in buying and selling blue seal cigarettes, canned goods, chocolates, towels and blankets. Accused-appellant denied having gone to Capitol Estate on January 8, 1993, claiming that the last time she went there was in December 1992.[19] Accused-appellant declared that on January 8, 1993, she was at her condominium unit in Bangkal, Makati, and left only at around 3:45 p.m. in order to go to Dr. Camachos clinic in Binondo.[20] She was accompanied by her son, Arthur, Gloria Torres (the babysitter) and her grandchild, Apple; and they used the L-300 van. She maintained that hours before they left the condominium, she counted her money, amounting to P500,000.00, in the presence of Gloria, and handed the said money to Gloria. She explained that she usually carried a large amount of money because nobody was left in the condominium, and she usually received calls regarding merchandise (blue seal cigarettes) which was up for sale. However, they were not able to go to Dr. Camachos clinic because at a place near her condominium, a red car blocked their way, and persons who introduced themselves as PACC agents alighted from the red car and boarded her L-300 van.[21] One of these men asked her if she was Magda but she said no and told him her name. When asked if she was carrying bato, she replied by asking them what bato meant. Then, the other men searched the L-300 van for the said bato. They took the plastic bag containing the P500,000.00. After the search, one of the men told her to give them 5 million pesos but she refused to do so. Using the L-300 van, they were brought to Paco Park at around 5:30 p.m. The men used her cellular phone in calling their boss. After a while, Insp. Lucio Margallo arrived and talked with her. Insp. Margallo asked her to accompany his men in looking for Erlinda Figueroa, in return for which, she would be released. They (accused-appellant, Gloria, her grandchild Apple and six [6] men) proceeded to Marcelo Village in Paraaque where Figueroa resided. Accused-appellants son, Arthur went with Insp. Lucio Margallo and the police officers who got the P500,000.00. Accused-appellant and her companions stayed at the gate of Marcelo Village, waiting for Figueroa but to no avail. At 7 a.m., of the following day, January 9, 1993, they proceeded to Maxim in Luneta where the men accompanying them ate breakfast. At around 9 a.m., they went back to Marcelo Village. At around 10 a.m. they proceeded to 7-Eleven located infront of the Western Police District in U.N. Avenue. The men continued to use accused-appellants cellular phone. From 7-Eleven, they went to San Marcelino St. to meet Insp. Lucio Margallo. Insp. Margallo again asked accused-appellant where they could find Figueroa. She replied that Figueroa had a store in Greenhills. At around 1 p.m., together with Insp. Margallo, they proceeded to Greenhills but they again failed to find Figueroa. At 7 p.m., they were finally brought to the Western Police District headquarters, where she saw her son, Arthur detained. The following day, January 10, 1993, her grandchild, Apple was allowed to leave the police headquarters. While detained at the police headquarters, they were not allowed to use the telephone nor to leave. On January 11, 1993, they (accused-appellant, her son Arthur, Padzrati Tulawie and the others) were presented by then Mayor Alfredo Lim of the City of Manila to the media as suspected drug pushers. Accused-appellant further testified that she asked Insp. Margallo why she was being pressured and she was told that he wanted her to help him locate Figueroa so that he could be promoted.[22] Accused-appellant also claimed that Insp. Margallo got mad at her because she signed a document stating that Erlinda Figueroa was not selling shabu.[23] While no case was filed against the police officers who allegedly illegally arrested her and took her valuables, accused-appellant claimed that she had instructed her lawyers to file a case against the said police officers.[24]

Arturo Lacson, accused-appellants son, and Gloria Torres, the babysitter, corroborated accused-appellants testimony that they left the condominium unit in Bangkal, Makati at around 4 p.m., on January 8, 1993 in order to go to Dr. Camachos clinic in Binondo, but were not able to because they were arrested at the corner of Capinpin St., near the condominium unit. Gloria Torres likewise testified that they were brought to Paco Park, then to Marcelo Village in Paraaque where they stayed until the following day, January 9, 1993. At 7 a.m., on January 9, 1993, they went to Maxim in Luneta and ate. Afterwards, they continued to look for Erlinda Figueroa until January 11, 1993. They were detained at the Western Police District for about a week until she and Arturo Lacson were released for lack of sufficient evidence.

On rebuttal, the prosecution presented SPO1 Bernardo O, a member of the Philippine National Police, assigned at the Narcotics Division, Western Police District, who testified that on January 8, 1993, he and SPO1 Juanito Singson were instructed by Insp. Lucio Margallo to conduct a surveillance at the residence of Carmen Lacson in Capitol Hills. At around 11:30 a.m., they boarded a taxi and followed the L-300 van of Carmen Lacson up to Nagtahan bridge.[25] At Quirino Avenue, he noticed two (2) Daihatsu vans running abreast with the L-300 van. The three (3) vehicles stopped at the foot of the Nagtahan bridge, and Insp. Lucio Margallo and his other men arrested the occupants of the three (3) vehicles.[26]

Upon termination of the trial, the trial court rendered a joint Decision[27] dated February 10, 1995, convicting accused-appellant in Criminal Case No. 93-115148, for violation of Section 15, Article III in relation to 2 (e), (f), (m), (o), Article I of Republic Act No. 6425 (otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972), as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1675; and acquitting her in Criminal Case No. 93-115149, for attempted corruption of a public official. The dispositive part of the said decision reads:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered:

(a) In Criminal Case No. 93-115148, accused CARMEN LACSON Y OLVES is hereby sentenced to suffer life imprisonment; to pay a fine of P30,000.00 with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency; and to pay the cost.

In the service of her sentence, the accused is entitled to be credited with the full period of her preventive imprisonment.

(b) In Criminal Case No. 93-115149, accused CARMEN LACSON is hereby ACQUITTED, with cost de oficio.

The Clerk of Court is hereby directed to release the P500,000.00 to the accused.

SO ORDERED.[28]

Hence, this appeal as to Criminal Case No. 93-115148. In this appeal, accused-appellant raises the following assignment of errors:[29]

I

That the trial court erred in giving full credibility to the testimonies of the prosecutions witnesses who are police officers who conducted illegal search, illegal arrest and illegal detention including a two (2) year old child who has (sic) nothing to do with the alleged crime being imputed to the accused.

II

That the trial court erred in rejecting the defense of the accused, corroborated by witnesses, with ill-motive by presenting her to the media where her photograph and video were taken and published and for political motive by presenting her before [the] Mayor of the City of Manila.

III

That the lower court erred in sentencing the accused to suffer life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P30,000.00 with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency and to pay the cost.

In fine, accused-appellants arguments revolve on the matter of credibility of witnesses. Accused-appellant refutes the trial courts findings that the testimonies of the police officers were consistent and unwavering, alleging that the said prosecution witnesses gave conflicting statements, particularly regarding the location of the car of Insp. Lucio Margallo when the trailed vehicles stopped at the foot of the Nagtahan bridge[30] and the manner of how the shoe box containing methamphetamine hydrochloride was handed over to Padzrati Tulawie.[31] Accused-appellant also maintains that although the defense of the accused is alibi, she was corroborated by other witnesses on how she was illegally arrested, her L-300 van illegally searched and where she and her two (2) year old grandchild, the babysitter and her son [were situated].[32]

We are not persuaded. Well-settled to the point of being elementary is the doctrine that on the issue of credibility of witnesses, appellate courts will not disturb the findings arrived at by the trial court, which was certainly in a better position to rate the credibility of the witnesses after hearing them and observing their deportment and manner of testifying during the trial. This rule stands absent any showing that certain facts and circumstances of weight and value have been overlooked, misinterpreted or misapplied by the trial court which, if considered, would affect the result or outcome of the case.[33]

After a careful and thorough review of the evidence on record, particularly the testimonies of the witnesses, this Court sees no reason to disturb the trial court's evaluation and assessment of the credibility of the witnesses, the same not being tainted by any arbitrariness or palpable error. According to the trial court, the police authorities who testified for the prosecution were consistent and unwavering during the direct and cross examinations. They do not appear to be related by blood or affinity and they corroborated each other[s testimony]. While the accused also had corroboration, these, however, came from her family and yaya. It is but consistent with human nature that they try to protect her. More[over], there was no evidence of ill-motive on the part of Insp. Lucio N. Margallo IV to falsely accuse Carmen Lacson .[34]

Accused-appellants defense of denial and alibi cannot be sustained. Denials of an accused cannot be accorded greater evidentiary weight than the positive declarations of credible witnesses who testify on affirmative matters.[35]

With regard to the alleged inconsistencies regarding the location of the car of Insp. Lucio Margallo when the trailed vehicles stopped at the foot of the Nagtahan bridge, and the manner of how the shoe box containing methamphetamine hydrochloride was handed over to Padzrati Tulawie, suffice it to say that [n]either inconsistencies on trivial matters nor innocent lapses affect the credibility of a witness. On the contrary, they may be considered badges of veracity, or manifestations of truthfulness, on material points in the testimony. Put in another way, minor inconsistencies even tend to strengthen rather than weaken the credibility of a witness because they erase any suspicion of rehearsed testimony.[36]

Accused-appellant also impugns certain alleged irregularities in their arrest, detention, interrogation and prosecution, claiming among others that the allegedly confiscated shabu was only turned over to the Criminal Investigation Laboratory Division (CILD) three (3) days after they were arrested, contrary to the testimony of Insp. Lucio Margallo that on January 8, 1993, he instructed his men to deliver the shabu to the CILD for examination but was returned for lack of chemicals. Accused-appellant also alleges that the police officers continually used her cellular phone from the time she was arrested until she was subsequently detained at the Western Police District headquarters.

First, as regards accused-appellants arrest, her application for bail[37] constitutes a waiver of her right to question whatever irregularities and defects attended her arrest.[38] As to the other alleged irregularities, assuming the existence of such irregularities, the proceedings in the trial court will not necessarily be struck down. No incriminatory evidence in the nature of a compelled or involuntary confession or admission was used as evidence against her. And more importantly, the guilt of accused-appellant was clearly established by the evidence adduced by the prosecution, particularly the testimonies of the arresting officers together with the documentary and object evidence which were formally offered and admitted in evidence in the lower court.

Lastly, accused-appellants assertion that the arresting police officers were actuated by ill motives to falsely testify against her, i.e., an attempt for extortion, for commendation or promotion, and political motives, deserves scant consideration. As stated by the trial court, this Court cannot give credence to the accuseds claim that the police officers were merely extorting money from her and implying that the shabu was planted when she refused [to accede to their demand]. Again, this defense is weak, self-serving, and easily fabricated. Yet, there are more compelling reasons that militate against believing [in] the accused. In the first place, the accused herself admitted [that] she did not file an extortion case against the police officers involved. In the second place, even if her claim of extortion is true, that cannot alter the fact that she was caught red-handed transporting/delivering the shabu, which formed the basis of the Information. xxx.(Citations omitted.)[39] That Insp. Lucio Margallo and the other arresting officers would falsely testify against her in order to get some commendation and secure a promotion, is not convincing. As found by the trial court, Insp. Margallo had no reason to arrest and charge the accused without cause, much more perjure himself by unjustly accusing Carmen Lacson of a grave crime that would put her behind bars for life if found guilty by the court.[40]

Everything considered, the Court is convinced that accused-appellant did commit the offense charged against her. However, we agree with the Solicitor General that since she was sentenced to suffer life imprisonment, the imposition of subsidiary imprisonment in case of non-payment of the fine is improper in view of the proscription thereon in Article 39 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, which provides in part that: (w)hen the principal penalty imposed is higher than prision correccional, no subsidiary imprisonment shall be imposed upon the culprit.[41]

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 45, in Criminal Case No. 93-115148, finding accused-appellant CARMEN LACSON y OLVES guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 15, Article III in relation to 2 (e), (f), (m), (o), Article I of Republic Act No. 6425 (otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972), as amended, is hereby AFFIRMED, subject to the MODIFICATION by deleting the subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.

SO ORDERED.

Bellosillo, (Chairman), Mendoza, Quisumbing, and De Leon, Jr. JJ., concur.



[1] Rollo, pp. 50-74.

[2] Presided by Judge Benito C. Se, Jr.

[3] Records, p. 2. The information was amended on February 22, 1993 to accurately reveal the amount of methamphetamine hydrochloride which was confiscated by the arresting police officers. Records, p. 108.

[4] Records, p. 4.

[5] Ibid. pp. 194, 195.

[6] Ibid. pp. 45-46, 111-114. The first petition for bail was dated February 3, 1993; while the second petition for bail was dated March 5, 1993. The petitions were filed by two (2) different lawyers. Incidentally, before the second petition was filed, the cases were re-raffled from Branch 16 to Branch 45.

[7] Records, pp. 156-160.

[8] Ibid. pp. 365-394.

[9] Incidentally, in an Order dated September 3, 1993, the trial court granted the motion for medical treatment and hospitalization which was filed by accused-appellant.

[10] TSN, March 16, 1993, pp. 4-12.

[11] TSN, May 5, 1993, p. 11.

[12] TSN, May 5, 1993, p. 27.

[13] TSN, March 23, 1993, pp. 6-11.

[14] TSN, March 23, 1993, p. 17.

[15] Accused-appellants grandchild was detained with accused-appellant until January 10, 1993.

[16] TSN, March 23, 1993, pp. 3-5.

[17] Exhibit M, Records, p. 20.

[18] Padzrati Tulawie was arrested together with accused-appellant on January 8, 1993. The shoe box containing methamphetamine hydrochloride was allegedly handed over by accused-appellant to Tulawie when their respective vehicles were running abreast with each other near the Nagtahan bridge.

[19] TSN, July 20, 1994, pp. 15-16.

[20] TSN, July 20, 1994, pp. 16-17.

[21] TSN, July 20, 1994, pp. 22-23.

[22] TSN, August 3, 1994, pp. 43-44.

[23] TSN, August 3, 1994, pp. 47-48.

[24] TSN, August 12, 1994, pp. 17-19.

[25] TSN, December 16, 1994, p. 8.

[26] TSN, December 16, 1994, pp. 12-13.

[27] Rollo, pp. 50-74.

[28] Ibid. p. 74.

[29] Ibid. pp. 10-11.

[30] Ibid. pp. 16-17.

[31] Ibid. p. 17.

[32] Ibid. p. 21.

[33] People vs. Lacatan, 295 SCRA 203, 210-211 (1998).

[34] Rollo, p. 72.

[35] People vs. Balasa, 295 SCRA 49, 81 (1998).

[36] People vs. Alfeche, 294 SCRA 352, 371 (1998).

[37] Accused-appellant filed three (3) separate petitions for bail in the course of the proceedings against her.

[38] People vs. Timon, 281 SCRA 597 (1997).

[39] Rollo, p. 73.

[40] Ibid. p. 72.

[41] People vs. Macario, 240 SCRA 531, 540 (1995).