PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
- versus -
FRANCISCO JUAN LARRAAGA alias "PACO"; JOSMAN AZNAR; ROWEN ADLAWAN alias "WESLEY"; ALBERTO CAO alias "ALLAN PAHAK"; ARIEL BALANSAG, DAVIDSON VALIENTE RUSIA alias "TISOY TAGALOG"; JAMES ANTHONY UY alias "WANGWANG"; and JAMES ANDREW UY alias "MM",
G.R. Nos. 138874-75
DAVIDE, JR., C.J.
July 21, 2005
At bar are four (4) motions for reconsideration separately filed by appellants (1) Francisco Juan Larraaga, (2) Josman Aznar, (3) Rowen Adlawan, Alberto Cao 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:
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 7, Cebu City in Criminal Cases Nos. CBU-45303 and 45304 is AFFIRMED with the following MODIFICATIONS:
(1) In Criminal Case No. CBU-45303, appellants FRANCISCO JUAN LARRAAGA alias PACO; JOSMAN AZNAR; ROWEN ADLAWAN alias WESLEY; ALBERTO CAO 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;
(2) In Criminal Case No. CBU-45304, appellants FRANCISCO JUAN LARRAAGA alias PACO; JOSMAN AZNAR; ROWEN ADLAWAN alias WESLEY; ALBERTO CAO 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;
(3) 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)
as civil indemnity, (b) P25,000.00 as temperate damages, (c)
P150,000.00 as moral damages, and (d)
P100,000.00 as exemplary damages.
Three (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.
In 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 Excellencys pardoning power.
Appellants anchor their motions on the following grounds:
THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN BARRING LARRAAGA AND THE NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (NBI) REGIONAL DIRECTOR FLORENCIO VILLARIN FROM TESTIFYING;
THE POLICE PLANTED EVIDENCE ON APPELLANTS;
LARRAAGA SUFFICIENTLY PROVED HIS ALIBI;
THE TRIAL COURT PREVENTED THE INTRODUCTION OF KEY DEFENSE EVIDENCE;
THE CORPSE FOUND IN THE RAVINE WAS NOT THAT OF MARIJOY; AND
PROSECUTION WITNESS RUSIA WAS A COACHED WITNESS.
THE HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE TRIAL COURT DID NOT VIOLATE THE RIGHTS OF THE ACCUSED TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW.
THE HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN (A) DISCHARGING DAVID RUSSIA AS STATE WITNESS; AND (B) CONVICTING THE APPELLANTS MAINLY ON THE BASIS OF THE TESTIMONY OF RUSIA.
THE HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN REJECTING THE DEFENSE OF APPELLANT AZNAR.
THE HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN IMPOSING THE DEATH PENALTY ON THE APPELLANTS.
C. ADLAWAN, BALANSAG, CAO
PROSECUTION WITNESS RUSIA IS NOT QUALIFIED TO BE A STATE WITNESS UNDER PARAGRAPHS (D) AND (E), SECTION 17 OF THE REVISED RULES OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE.
RUSIAS TESTIMONY AND THAT OF THE OTHER PROSECUTION WITNESSES WERE INCREDIBLE, INCONSISTENT, AND UNWORTHY OF BELIEF.
BIAS AND PREJUDICE AGAINST THE DEFENSE WERE GLARINGLY DISPLAYED BY THE COURT A QUO WHICH GREATLY AFFECTED THE OUTCOME OF THE CASE.
THE GUILT OF THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS FOR THE CRIME CHARGED HAS NOT BEEN PROVEN BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.
D. JAMES ANDREW AND JAMES ANTHONY UY
ACCUSED 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;
THE IDENTITY OF THE DEAD BODY OF THE WOMAN FOUND IN TAN-AWAN, CARCAR, CEBU LAST JULY 18, 1997 WAS NEVER CONCLUSIVELY ESTABLISHED THUS THE NEED FOR ITS EXHUMATION FOR DNA TESTING;
In his supplemental motion for reconsideration dated March 25, 2004, Larraaga 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 inadequate.
In 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.
On 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 Decision.
In his consolidated comment to Aznars supplemental motion for reconsideration, the Solicitor General enumerated the grounds why Atty. Villarins 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 Aznars reply actually supports the undersigned counsels (Solicitor Generals) position that Atty. Villarins 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.
Except for the motion filed by appellants Uy brothers with respect to James Andrews alleged minority, we find all the motions bereft of merit.
At 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 vs. Velasco, 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 movant."
The foregoing principle applies squarely to the motions filed by appellants Larraaga, Aznar, Adlawan, Cao 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.
However, 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.
The following is a prcis of the issues submitted by appellants in their motions:
This Court erred
first, in according credence to Rusias testimony;
second, in rejecting appellants alibi;
third, in holding that the trial court did not violate their right to due process when it excluded the testimony of other defense witnesses; and
fourth, in holding that the body found in Tan-awan, Carcar was not that of Marijoy.
In 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.
Appellants vigorously contend that we should not have sustained Rusias testimony hook, line and sinker, owing to his tainted record and reputation. However, it must be stressed that Rusias testimony was not viewed in isolation. In giving credence to Rusias 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 courts findings.
We reiterate our
pronouncement in our Decision that what makes Rusias 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 Marijoys ravished body in a deep ravine at Tan-awan, Carcar with
tape on her mouth and handcuffs on her wrists certainly
bolstered Rusias testimony on what actually took place from Ayala Center to Tan-awan. Indeed, the details he supplied to the trial court are of such nature and quality that only a witness who actually saw the commission of the crimes could furnish. Reinforcing his testimony is its corroboration by several other witnesses who saw incidents of what he narrated. Rolando Dacillo and Mario Minoza witnessed Jacquelines two failed attempts to escape from appellants near Ayala Center. Benjamin Molina and Miguel Vergara recognized Rowen as the person who inquired from them where he could find a vehicle for hire on the evening of July 16, 1997. Alfredo Duarte saw Rowen when he bought barbeque and Tanduay at Nenes Store while the white van, driven by Cao, was waiting on the side of the road and he heard voices of quarreling male and female emanating from the van. And lastly, Manuel Camingao and Rosendo Rio testified on the presence of Larraaga and Josman at Tan-awan, Carcar at dawn of July 17, 1997. All these bits and pieces of story form part of Rusias narration. Now, with such strong anchorage on the physical evidence and the testimonies of disinterested witnesses, why should we not accord credence to Rusias testimony? Even assuming that his testimony standing alone might indeed be unworthy of belief in view of his character, it is not so when considered with the other evidence presented by the prosecution.
Appellants likewise claimed that we should have not sustained the trial courts 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 matters. 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 accused.
This case presents to us a balance scale whereby perched on one end is appellants alibi supported by witnesses who were either their relatives, friends or classmates, while on the other end is the positive identification of the herein appellants by the prosecution witnesses who were not, in any way, related to the victims. With the above jurisprudence as guide, we are certain that the balance must tilt in favor of the latter.
Besides, a thorough examination of the evidence for the prosecution shows that the appellants failed to meet the requirements of alibi, i.e., the requirements of time and place. They failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence that it was physically impossible for them to be at the Ayala Center, Cebu City when the Chiong sisters were abducted. What is clear from the evidence is that Rowen, Josman, Ariel, Alberto, James Anthony and James Andrew were all within the vicinity of Cebu City on July 16, 1997.
Not even Larraaga who claimed to be in Quezon City satisfied the required proof of physical impossibility. During the hearing, it was shown that it takes only one (1) hour to travel by plane from Manila to Cebu and that there are four (4) airline companies plying the route. One of the defense witnesses admitted that there are several flights from Manila to Cebu each morning, afternoon and evening. Indeed, Larraagas presence in Cebu City on July 16, 1997 was proved to be not only a possibility but a reality. Four (4) witnesses identified Larraaga as one of the two men talking to Marijoy and Jacqueline on the night of July 16, 1997. Shiela Singson testified that on July 16, 1997, at around 7:20 in the evening, she saw Larraaga approach Marijoy and Jacqueline at the West Entry of Ayala Center. The incident reminded her of Jacquelines prior story that he was Marijoys admirer. Shiela confirmed that she knows Larraaga since she had seen him on five (5) occasions. Analie Konahap also testified that on the same evening of July 16, 1997, at about 8:00 oclock, she saw Marijoy and Jacqueline talking to two (2) men at the West Entry of Ayala Center. She recognized the two (2) men as Larraaga and Josman, having seen them several times at Glicos, a game zone, located across her office at the third level of Ayala Center. Williard Redobles, the security guard then assigned at Ayala Center, corroborated the foregoing testimonies of Shiela and Analie. In addition, Rosendo Rio, a businessman from Cogon, Carcar, declared that he saw Larraaga at Tan-awan at about 3:30 in the morning of July 17, 1997. The latter was leaning against the hood of a white van. And over and above all, Rusia categorically identified Larraaga as one of the participes criminis.
Taking the individual testimonies of the above witnesses in relation with that of Rusia, we are convinced that Larraaga was indeed in Cebu City at the time of the commission of the crimes and was one of the principal perpetrators thereof.
At this juncture, it bears mentioning that this case is not the first time that Larraaga was charged with or complained of pruriently assaulting young female students in Cebu. Months before the abduction of Marijoy and Jackie, the parents of a certain Rochelle Virtucio, complained about Larraagas attempt to snatch their young daughter and drag her in a black, stylish Honda Civic. It happened just near the gate of Rochelles school, thus, showing his impudence. We quote a portion of the transcript of stenographic notes dated September 23, 1998, thus:
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:
TO WHOM THIS MAY CONCERN:
We the parents and guardians of Rochelle Virtucio, a first year high school student of your University of San Carlos-Girls High School, are writing your good office about an untoward incident involving our daughter and another student of your school.
x x x x x x
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.
We are very concerned about Rochelles safety. Still now, she is suffering the shock and tension that she is not supposed to experience in her young life. It is very hard for us parents to think about what shed been through.
The presence of such complaint in the record of this case certainly does not enhance Larraagas chance of securing an acquittal.
Larraaga and Aznar bewail our refusal to overturn the trial courts 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. Anent Atty. Villarins 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 Generals observation that such Affidavit is neither helpful nor encouraging to Aznars cause. We quote his keen reflection on the matter:
x x x x x x
Third. Atty. Villarins 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 Aznars claim in his Motion for Reconsideration that the corpse was not Marijoys. Surely, something is amiss in accused-appellant Aznars recollection of his defense.
Fourth. 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 Courts findings in its Decision dated February 3, 2004.
Fifth. In paragraph 30 of Atty. Villarins 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.
Sixth. 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 crimes.
Seventh. 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 promotion.
Eighth. Atty. Villarins inability to testify in the criminal cases was not due solely to the prosecutions 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 proceedings.
And lastly, there is nothing in Atty. Villarins 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.
Neither can we entertain at this late stage Dr. Fortuns 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, Larraaga could have produced it during trial had he wished to.
Knowing that the prosecutions 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. Second, the packaging tape and the handcuff found on the dead body were the same items placed on Marijoy and Jacqueline while they were being detained. Third, the body had the same clothes worn by Marijoy on the day she was abducted. And fourth, the members of the Chiong family personally identified the corpse to be that of Marijoy which they eventually buried. They erected commemorative markers at the ravine, cemetery and every place which mattered to Marijoy. As a matter of fact, at this very moment, appellants still fail to bring to the attention of this Court any person laying a claim on the said body. Surely, if the body was not that of Marijoy, other families who had lost someone of similar age and gender as Marijoy would have surfaced and claimed the body. The above circumstances only bolster Rusias narration that Rowen and Ariel pushed Marijoy into the deep ravine, following Josmans instruction "to get rid" of her.
On the issue raised by appellants Uy brothers that James Andrew was only seventeen (17) years and two hundred sixty two (262) days old at the time the crimes were committed, the records bear that on March 1, 1999, James Andrews birth certificate was submitted to the trial court as part of the Formal Offer of Additional Evidence, with the statement that he was eighteen (18) years old. On March 18, 1999, appellants filed a Manifestation of Erratum correcting in part the Formal Offer of Additional Evidence by alleging that James Andrew was only seventeen (17) years old.
Now, 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.
The entry of James Andrews 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 Andrews 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.
Insofar as James Anthony is concerned, we maintain his conviction and penalty, there being nothing in his motion which warrants a reconsideration of our Decision.
In 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.
WHEREFORE, the motions for reconsideration filed by appellants Francisco Juan Larraaga, Josman Aznar, Rowen Adlawan, Alberto Cao 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 Andrews 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 is concerned.
HILARIO G. DAVIDE, JR.
REYNATO S. PUNO
LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ
CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
ADOLFO S. AZCUNA
ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
RENATO C. CORONA
ROMEO J. CALLEJO, SR.
DANTE O. TINGA
CANCIO C. GARCIA
HILARIO G. DAVIDE, JR.
 As summarized by the Solicitor General, Rollo at 1881. It was filed on March 4, 2004.
 Rollo at 1517. It was filed on March 5, 2004.
 Id. at 1480. It was filed on March 3, 2004.
 Id. at 1789. It was filed on March 23, 2004.
 Dated May 5, 2004, Id., at 1841-1845.
 Id., at 1879-1924.
 It was filed on January 12, 2005.
 G.R. No. 109645, March 4, 1996, 254 SCRA 234.
 Obosa v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 114350, January 16, 1997,266 SCRA 281.
 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. Rollon, G.R. No. 131915, September 3, 2003, 410 SCRA 295.
 People v. Datingginoo, G.R. No. 95539, June 14, 1993, 223 SCRA 331; People v. Abatayo, G.R. No. 139456. July 7, 2004, 433 SCRA 562.
 People vs. Dela Cruz, G.R. No. 108180, February 8, 1994, 229 SCRA 754.
 TSN, September 15, 1998 at 26-47.
 At 43-46.
 Consolidated Comment of the Office of the Solicitor General, at 2-4.
 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.
 TSN, September 22, 1998 at 31-40.
 See also TSN, September 23, 1998 at 13, 20.
 TSN, August 18, 1998 at 62; August 19, 1998 at 115; September 23, 1998 at 13, 20.
 TSN, August 18, 1998 at 62; August 19, 1998 at 57, 60.
 Rollo, at 1894.
 Id., at 1948.