Republic of the Philippines

Supreme Court

Manila

                                                                                               

FIRST DIVISION

 

PHILIPPINE DRUG ENFORCEMENT AGENCY (PDEA),

Petitioner,

 

 

 

-versus-

 

 

 

RICHARD BRODETT AND JORGE JOSEPH,       

  Respondents.

G.R. No. 196390

 

Present:

 

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,

ActingChairperson,

BERSAMIN,

DEL CASTILLO,

PEREZ,*and

MENDOZA,**JJ.

 

Promulgated:

 

September 28, 2011

x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

 

D E C I S I O N

 

BERSAMIN, J.:

 

Objects of lawful commerce confiscated in the course of an enforcement of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 (Republic Act No. 9165)that are the property of a third person are subject to be returned to the lawful ownerwho is not liable for the unlawful act. But the trial court may not release such objects pending trial and before judgment.

 

Antecedents

 

          On April 13, 2009, the State, through the Office of the City Prosecutor of Muntinlupa City,charged RichardBrodett (Brodett) and Jorge Joseph (Joseph) with a violation of Section 5, in relation to Section 26(b), of Republic Act No. 9165[1]in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in MuntinlupaCity,docketed as Criminal Case No. 09-208,the accusatory portion of the information for which reads as follows:

 

That on or about the 19th day of September 2008, in the City of Muntinlupa, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring and confederating together and mutually helping and aiding each other, they not being authorized by law, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully, and feloniously sell, trade, deliver and give away to another, sixty (60) pieces of blue-colored tablets with Motorala (M) logos, contained in six (6) self-sealing transparent plastic sachets with recorded total net weight of 9.8388 grams, which when subjected to laboratory examination yielded positive results for presence of METHAMPHETAMINE, a dangerous drug.[2]

 

            Also on April 16, 2009, the State, also through the Office of the City Prosecutor of Muntinlupa City, filed another information charging only Brodett with a violation of Section 11 of R.A. No. 9165, docketed as Criminal Case No. 09-209, with the information alleging:

 

That on or about the 19th day of September 2008, in the City of Muntinlupa, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, not being authorized by law, did then and there, wilfully, unlawfully, and feloniously have in his possession, custody and control the following:

 

a.    Four (4) yellow tablets with Playboy logos and ten (10) transparent capsules containing white powdery substance contained in one self-sealing transparent plastic sachet having a net weight of 4.9007 grams, which when subjected to laboratory examination yielded positive results for presence of METHYLENE DIOXYMETHAMPHETAMINE (MDMA), commonly known as “Ecstasy”, a dangerous drug;

 

b.      Five (5) self-sealing transparent plastic sachets containing white powdery substance with total recorded net weight of 1.2235 grams, which when subjected to laboratory examination yielded positive results for presence of COCCAINE, a dangerous drug;

 

c.     Five (5) self-sealing transparent plastic sachets containing white powdery substance, placed in a light-yellow folded paper, with total recorded net weight of 2.7355 grams, which when subjected to laboratory examination yielded positive results for presence of COCCAINE, a dangerous drug;

 

d.      Three (3) self-sealing transparent plastic sachets containing dried leaves with total recorded net weight of 54.5331 grams, which when subjected to laboratory examination yielded positive results for presence of TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL, a dangerous drug.[3]

 

In the course of the proceedings in the RTC, on July 30, 2009, Brodett filed a MotionToReturn Non-Drug Evidence. He averred that during his arrest, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) had seized several personal non-drug effects from him,including a 2004 Honda Accord car with license plate no. XPF-551;and that PDEArefused to return his personal effects despite repeated demands for their return. He prayed that his personal effects be tendered to the trial court to be returned to himupon verification.[4]

 

          On August 27, 2009, the Office of the City Prosecutor submitted its Comment and Objection,[5]proposingthereby that the delivery to the RTC of the listedpersonal effects for safekeeping, to be held there throughout the duration of the trial, would be to enable the Prosecution and the Defense to exhaust their possible evidentiary value. The Office of the City Prosecutor objected to the return of the car because it appeared to be the instrument in the commission of the violation of Section 5 of R.A. No. 9165 due to its being the vehicle used in the transaction of the sale of dangerous drugs.

 

          On November 4, 2009, the RTC directedthe release of the car, viz:

 

WHEREFORE, the Director of PDEA or any of its authorized officer or custodian is hereby directed to: (1) photograph the abovementioned Honda Accord, before returning the same to its rightful owner Myra S. Brodett and the return should be fully documented, and (2) bring the personal properties as listed in this Order of both accused, Richard S. Brodett and Jorge J. Joseph to this court for safekeeping, to be held as needed.

 

SO ORDERED.[6]

 

PDEA moved to reconsider the order of the RTC, but its motion was denied on February 17, 2010 for lack of merit, to wit:

 

WHEREFORE,premises considered, the Motion for Reconsideration is hereby DENIED for lack of merit. The Order of the Court dated November 4, 2009 is upheld.

 

SO ORDERED.[7]

 

 

Thence, PDEA assailed the order of the RTC in the Court of Appeals (CA) by petition for certiorari, claiming that the orders of the RTC were issued in grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.

 

On March 31, 2011, the CA promulgated its Decision,[8]dismissing the petition for certiorari thusly:

 

xxxx

 Here it is beyond dispute that the Honda Accord subject of this petition is owned by and registered in the name of Myra S. Brodett, not accused Richard Brodett. Also, it does not appear from the records of the case that said Myra S. Brodett has been charged of any crime, more particularly, in the subject cases of possession and sale of dangerous drugs. Applying Section 20 of the law to the dispute at bar, We therefore see no cogent reason why the subject Honda Accord may not be exempted from confiscation and forfeiture.

xxxx

We thus cannot sustain petitioner’s submission that the subject car, being an instrument of the offense, may not be released to Ms. Brodett and should remain in custodia legis. The letters of the law are plain and unambiguous. Being so, there is no room for a contrary construction, especially so that the only purpose of judicial construction is to remove doubt and uncertainty, matters that are not obtaining here. More so that the required literal interpretation is consistent with the Constitutional guarantee that a person may not be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.

 

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED and consequently DISMISSED for lack of merit.

 

SO ORDERED.[9]

 

Hence, PDEA appeals.

Issues

 

Essentially,PDEA asserts that the decision of the CAwas not in accord with applicable laws and the primordial intent of the framers of R. A. No. 9165.[10]It contends that the CA gravely erred in its ruling; that the Honda Accord car, registered under the name of Myra S. Brodett (Ms.Brodett), had been seized from accused Brodettduring a legitimate anti-illegal operation and should not be released from the custody of the law;that the Motion to Return Non-Drug Evidencedid not intimate or allege that the car had belonged to a third person; and that even if the car had belonged to Ms. Brodett, a third person, her ownership did not ipso facto authorize its release, because she was under the obligation to prove to the RTC that she had no knowledge of the commission of the crime.

 

In hisComment,[11]Brodettcounters that the petitioner failed to present any question of law that warranted a review by the Court;that Section 20 of R. A. No. 9165 clearly and unequivocally states that confiscation and forfeiture of the proceeds or instruments of the supposed unlawful act in favor of the Government may be done by PDEA, unless such proceeds or instruments are the property of a third person not liable for the unlawful act; that PDEA is gravely mistaken in its reading that the third person must still prove in the trial court that he has no knowledge of the commission of the crime; and that PDEA failed to exhaust all remedies before filing the petition for review.

 

The decisive issue is whether or not the CA erred in affirming the orderfor the release of the car to Ms.Brodett.

 

 

 

Ruling

 

          The petition is meritorious.

 

I

Applicable laws and jurisprudence on releasing

property confiscated in criminal proceedings

 

 

          It is not open to question thatin a criminal proceeding, the court having jurisdiction over the offense has the power to order upon conviction of an accusedthe seizure of (a) the instruments to commit the crime, including documents, papers, and other effects that are the necessary means to commit the crime; and (b) contraband, the ownership or possession of which is not permitted for being illegal. As justification for the first, the accused must not profit from his crime, or must not acquire property or the right to possession of property through his unlawful act.[12]As justification for thesecond, to return to the convict from whom thecontraband was taken, in one way or another,is not prudent or proper, because doing so will give rise to a violation of the law for possessing the contraband again.[13]Indeed, the court having jurisdiction over the offense has theright to dispose of property used in the commission of the crime, such disposition being an accessory penalty to be imposed on the accused, unless the property belongs to a third person not liable for the offense that it was used as the instrument to commit.[14]

 

In case of forfeiture of property for crime, title and ownership of the convict are absolutely divested and shall pass to the Government.[15] But it is required that the property to be forfeited must be before the court in such manner that it can be said to be within its jurisdiction.[16]

 

          According to the Rules of Court, personal property may be seized in connection with a criminal offense either by authority of a search warrant or as the product of a search incidental to a lawful arrest. If the search is by virtue of a search warrant, the personal property that may be seized may be that which is the subject of the offense; or that which has been stolen or embezzled and other proceeds, or fruits of the offense; orthat which has been used or intended to be used as the means of committing an offense.[17] If the search is an incident of a lawful arrest, seizure may be made of dangerous weapons or anything that may have been used or may constitute proof in the commission of an offense.[18] Should there be no ensuing criminal prosecution in which the personal property seized is used as evidence, its return to the person from whom it was taken, or to the person who is entitled to its possession is but a matter of course,[19]except if it is contraband or illegal per se. A proper court may order the return of property held solely as evidence should the Government be unreasonably delayed in bringing a criminal prosecution.[20]The order for the disposition of such property can be made only when the case is finally terminated.[21]

 

          Generally, the trial court is vested with considerable legal discretion in the matter of disposing of property claimed as evidence,[22] and this discretion extends even to the manner of proceeding in the event the accused claims the property was wrongfully taken from him.[23]In particular, the trial court has the power to return property held as evidence to its rightful owners, whether the property was legally or illegally seized by the Government.[24] Property used as evidence must be returned once the criminal proceedings to which it relates have terminated, unless it is then subject to forfeiture or other proceedings.[25]

 

II

Order of release was premature and made

in contravention of Section 20, R.A. No. 9165

         

          It is undisputed that the ownership of the confiscated car belonged to Ms. Brodett, who was not charged either in connection with the illegal possession and sale of illegal drugs involving Brodett and Joseph that were the subject of the criminal proceedings in the RTC, or even in any other criminal proceedings.

 

          In its decision under review, the CA held as follows:

 

A careful reading of the above provision shows that confiscation and forfeiture in drug-related cases pertains to “all the proceeds and properties derived from the unlawful act, including but not limited to, money and other assets obtained thereby, and the instruments or tools with which the particular unlawful act was committed unless they are the property of a third person not liable for the unlawful act.” Simply put, the law exempts from the effects of confiscation and forfeiture any property that is owned by a third person who is not liable for the unlawful act.

 

Here, it is beyond dispute that the Honda Accord subject of this petition is owned by and registered in the name of Myra S. Brodett, not accused Richard Brodett. Also, it does not appear from the records of the case that said Myra S. Brodett has been charged of any crime, more particularly, in the subject cases of possession and sale of dangerous drugs. Applying Section 20 of the law to the dispute at bar, We therefore see no cogent reason why the subject Honda Accord may not be exempted from confiscation and forfeiture.

 

Basic is the rule in statutory construction that when the law is clear and unambiguous, the court has no alternative but to apply the same according to its clear language. The Supreme Court had steadfastly adhered to the doctrine that the first and fundamental duty of courts is to apply the law according to its express terms, interpretation being called only when such literal application is impossible. No process of interpretation or construction need be resorted to where a provision of law peremptorily calls for application.

 

We thus cannot sustain petitioner’s submission that the subject car, being an instrument of the offense, may not be released to Ms. Brodett and should remain in custodia legis. The letters of the law are plain and unambiguous. Being so, there is no room for a contrary construction, especially so that the only purpose of judicial construction is to remove doubt and uncertainty, matters that are not obtaining here. More so that the required literal interpretation is not consistent with the Constitutional guarantee that a person may not be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.[26] (emphases are in the original text)

 

          The legal provision applicable to the confiscation and forfeiture of the proceeds or instruments of the unlawful act, including the properties or proceeds derived from illegal trafficking of dangerous drugs and precursors and essential chemicals,is Section 20 of R.A. No. 9165, which pertinently providesas follows:

 

Section 20.Confiscation and Forfeiture of the Proceeds or Instruments of the Unlawful Act, Including the Properties or Proceeds Derived from the Illegal Trafficking of Dangerous Drugs and/or Precursors and Essential Chemicals. – Every penalty imposed for the unlawful importation, sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution, transportation or manufacture of any dangerous drug and/or controlled precursor and essential chemical, the cultivation or culture of plants which are sources of dangerous drugs, and the possession of any equipment, instrument, apparatus and other paraphernalia for dangerous drugs including other laboratory equipment, shall carry with it the confiscation and forfeiture, in favor of the government, of all the proceeds derived from unlawful act, including, but not limited to, money and other assets obtained thereby, and the instruments or tools with which the particular unlawful act was committed, unless they are the property of a third person not liable for the unlawful act, but those which are not of lawful commerce shall be ordered destroyed without delay pursuant to the provisions of Section 21 of this Act.

 

After conviction in the Regional Trial Court in the appropriate criminal case filed, the Court shall immediately schedule a hearing for the confiscation and forfeiture of all the proceeds of the offense and all the assets and properties of the accused either owned or held by him or in the name of some other persons if the same shall be found to be manifestly out of proportion to his/her lawful income: Provided, however, That if the forfeited property is a vehicle, the same shall be auctioned off not later than five (5) days upon order of confiscation or forfeiture.

 

During the pendency of the case in the Regional Trial Court, no property, or income derived therefrom, which may be confiscated and forfeited, shall be disposed, alienated or transferred and the same shall be in custodialegis and no bond shall be admitted for the release of the same.

 

The proceeds of any sale or disposition of any property confiscated or forfeited under this Section shall be used to pay all proper expenses incurred in the proceedings for the confiscation, forfeiture, custody and maintenance of the property pending disposition, as well as expenses for publication and court costs. The proceeds in excess of the above expenses shall accrue to the Board to be used in its campaign against illegal drugs.[27]

 

          There is no question, for even PDEA has itself pointed out, that the text of Section 20 of R. A. No. 9165relevant to the confiscation and forfeiture of the proceeds or instruments of the unlawful act is similar to that ofArticle 45 of the Revised Penal Code, which states:

 

Article 45.Confiscation and Forfeiture of the Proceeds or Instruments of theCrime. – Every penalty imposed for the commission of a felony shall carry with it the forfeiture of the proceeds of the crime and the instruments or tools with which it was committed.

 

Such proceeds and instruments or tools shall be confiscated and forfeited in favor of the Government, unless they be the property of a third person not liable for the offense, but those articles which are not subject of lawful commerce shall be destroyed.

 

 

            The Court has interpreted and applied Article 45of the Revised Penal Codein People v. Jose,[28]concerning the confiscation and forfeiture of the car used by the four accused when they committed theforcible abduction with rape, although the car did not belong to any of them, holding:

 

xxx Article 45 of the Revised Penal Code bars the confiscation and forfeiture of an instrument or tool used in the commission of the crime if such “be the property of a third person not liable for the offense,” it is the sense of this Court that the order of the court below for the confiscation of the car in question should be set aside and that the said car should be ordered delivered to the intervenor for foreclosure as decreed in the judgment of the Court of First Instance of Manila in replevin case. xxx[29]

 

          Such interpretation is extended by analogy to Section 20, supra. To bar the forfeiture of the tools and instruments belonging to a third person,therefore, there must be an indictment charging such third person either as a principal, accessory, or accomplice. Less than that will not suffice to prevent the return of the tools and instruments to the third person, for a mere suspicion of that person’s participation is not sufficient ground for the court to order the forfeiture of the goods seized.[30]

 

          However, the Office of the City Prosecutorproposed throughits Comment and Objection submitted on August 27, 2009 in the RTC[31]that the delivery to the RTC of the listed personal effects for safekeeping, to be held there throughout the duration of the trial, would be to enable the Prosecution and the Defenseto exhaust their possible evidentiary value. The Office of the City Prosecutor further objected to the return of the car because it appeared to bethe vehicle used in the transaction of the sale of dangerous drugs, and, as such, was the instrument in the commission of the violation of Section 5 of R.A. No. 9165.

 

On its part, PDEA regards the decision of the CA to be not in accord with applicable laws and the primordial intent of the framers of R. A. No. 9165,[32]and contends that the car should not be released from the custody of the law because it had been seized from accused Brodett during a legitimate anti-illegal operation. It argues that the Motion to Return Non-Drug Evidencedid not intimate or allege that the car had belonged to a third person; and that even if the car had belonged to Ms. Brodett, a third person, her ownership did not ipso facto authorize its release, because she was under the obligation to prove to the RTC that she had no knowledge of the commission of the crime. It insists that the car is a property in custodialegis and may not be released during the pendency of the trial.

 

We agree with PDEA and the Office of the City Prosecutor.

 

We note that the RTC granted accusedBrodett’sMotion To Return Non-Drug Evidence on November 4, 2009 when the criminal proceedings were still going on, and the trial was yet to be completed. Ordering the release of the car at that pointof the proceedings was premature, considering that the third paragraph of Section 20, supra, expressly forbids the disposition, alienation, or transfer of any property, or income derived therefrom, that has been confiscated from the accused charged under R.A. No. 9165 during the pendency of the proceedings in the Regional Trial Court.Section 20 further expressly requires that such property or income derived therefrom should remain in custodialegis in all that time and that no bond shall be admitted for the release of it.

 

Indeed, forfeiture, if warrantedpursuant to either Article 45 of the Revised Penal Code and Section 20 of R.A. No. 9165, would be a part of the penalty to be prescribed. The determination of whetheror not the car (or any other article confiscated in relation to the unlawful act) would be subject of forfeiture could be made only when the judgment was to be rendered in the proceedings. Section 20 is also clear as to this.

 

The status of the car (or any other article confiscated in relation to the unlawful act) for the duration of the trial in the RTCas being in custodialegisisprimarily intended to preserve it as evidence and to ensure its availability as such. To release it before the judgment is rendered is to deprive the trial court and the parties access to it as evidence. Consequently, that photographs were ordered to be taken of the car was not enough, for mere photographs might not fill in fully the evidentiary need of the Prosecution. As such, the RTC’s assailed orders were issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction for being in contravention with the express language of Section 20 of R.A. No. 9165.

 

Nonetheless, the Court need not annul the assailed orders of the RTC, or reverse the decision of the CA. It appears thaton August 26, 2011 the RTC promulgated its decision on the merits in Criminal Case No. 09-208 and Criminal Case No. 09-209, acquitting both Brodettand Joseph and further ordering the return to the accused of all non-drug evidence except the buy-bust money and the genuine money,because:

 

The failure of the prosecution therefore to establish all the links in the chain of custody is fatal to the case at bar. The Court cannot merely rely on the presumption of regularity in the performance of official function in view of the glaring blunder in the handling of the corpus delicti of these cases. The presumption of regularity should bow down to the presumption of innocence of the accused. Hence, the two (2) accused BRODETT and JOSEPH should be as it is hereby ACQUITTED of the crimes herein charged for Illegal Selling and Illegal Possession of Dangerous Drugs.

 

WHEREFORE, premises considered, for failure of the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt, RICHARD BRODETT y SANTOS and JORGE JOSEPH y JORDANA are ACQUITTED of the crimes charged in Criminal Case Nos. 09-208 and 09-209.

 

The subject drug evidence are all ordered transmitted to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for proper disposition. All the non-drug evidence except the buy bust money and the genuine money are ordered returned to the accused.

 

The genuine money used in the buy bust operation as well as the genuine money confiscated from both accused are ordered escheated in favor of the government and accordingly transmitted to the National Treasury for proper disposition. (emphasis supplied)[33]

 

 

The directive to return the non-drug evidence hasovertaken the petition for review as to render further action upon it superfluous. Yet, the Court seizes the opportunity to perform its duty to formulate guidelines on the matter of confiscation and forfeiture of non-drug articles, including those belonging to third persons not liable for the offense, in order to clarify the extent of the power of the trial court under Section 20 of R.A. No. 9165.[34]This the Court must now do in view of the question about the confiscation and forfeiture of non-drug objects being susceptible of repetition in the future.[35]

We rule that henceforth the Regional Trial Courts shall comply strictly with the provisions of Section 20 of R.A. No. 9165, and should not release articles, whether drugs or non-drugs, for the duration of the trial and before the rendition of the judgment, even if owned by a third person who is not liable for the unlawful act.

 

          IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the petition for review isDENIED.

 

The Office of the Court Administrator is directed to disseminate this decision to all trial courts for their guidance.

         

SO ORDERED.

         

 

 

                                                          LUCAS P. BERSAMIN

                                                      Associate Justice

 

WE CONCUR:

 

                                                         

                  

                                                                                                         

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO

Associate Justice

Acting Chairperson

                                     

 

 

                                                                                                                  

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO           JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ

Associate Justice                                      Associate Justice

 

                                                                                                                                                                            

 

JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA

Associate Justice

 

 

A T T E S T A T I O N

 

 

          I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

 

 

 

                                      TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO

                                                             Associate Justice

                                                           Acting Chairperson

 

 

 

C E R T I F I C A T I O N

 

 

          Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Acting Division Chairperson’s Attestation, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision had beenreached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

 

                                                                  

                                                                                                                  

RENATO C. CORONA

Chief Justice

 

 

 

                                                        

                                                                  

 

 



*       Vice Associate Justice Martin S. Villarama, Jr. per Special Order No. 1080 dated September 13, 2011.

**     Vice Chief Justice Renato C. Corona, per Special order No. 1093 dated September 21, 2011.

[1]Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

[2]Rollo, p. 51.

[3]       Id., pp. 54-55.

[4]       Id., pp. 58-61.

[5]Id., pp. 63-64.

[6]       Id., p. 107.

[7]       Id., p. 110.

[8]       Id., pp. 37-46; penned by Associate Justice Vicente S.E. Veloso, with Associate Justice Francisco P. Acosta and Associate Justice Ramon A. Cruz, concurring. 

[9]Id., pp. 44-46.

[10]Id., pp. 2-32.

[11]Id., pp. 158-177.

[12]     24 CJS, Criminal Law, § 1733.

[13]     Villaruz v. Court of First Instance,71 Phil. 72 (1940).

[14]     United States v. Bruhez, 28 Phil. 305 (1914).

[15]     United States v. Surla, 20 Phil. 163 (1911).

[16]     United States v. Filart and Singson, 30 Phil. 80 (1915).

[17]     Section 3, Rule 126, Rules of Court.

[18]     Section 13, Rule 126, Rules of Court.

[19]     Caterpillar, Inc. v. Samson, G.R. No. 164605, October 27, 2006, 505 SCRA 704, 711.

[20]     24 CJS, Criminal Law, §1733, c., citing United States v. Premises Known as 608 Taylor Ave., Apartment 302, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, C.A. Pa., 584 F. 2d 1297.

[21]     Padilla v. United States, C.A. Cal., 267 F. 2d 351

[22]     24 CJS, Criminal Law, §1733, c., citing State v. Allen, 66 N.W. 2d 830, 159 Neb. 314.

[23]     Id., citing Hutchinson v. Rosetti, 205 N.Y.S. 2d 526, 24 Misc. 2d 949.

[24]     Id., citing United States v. Estep, C.A. 10(Okl.), 760 F. 2d 1060.

[25]     Id., citing United States v. Premises Known as 608 Taylor Ave., Apartment 302, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, C.A. Pa., 584 F. 2d 1297.

[26]     Rollo, pp. 44-45.

[27]     Emphasis supplied.

[28]     No. L-28232, February 6, 1971, 37 SCRA 450.

[29]Id., p. 482.

[30]     I Reyes, The Revised Penal Code, 15th Edition, pp. 638-639.

[31]Rollo, pp. 63-64.

[32]Id., pp. 2-32.

[33]     Judgment dated August 26, 2011 rendered in Criminal Case No. 09-208 and Criminal Case No. 09-209.

[34]Salonga v. Cruz Paño, No. L-59524, February 18, 1985, 134 SCRA 438, 463; David v. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, May 3, 2006, 489 SCRA 160, 215.

[35]     David v. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, May 3, 2006, 489 SCRA 160, 215;Albaña v. Commission on  Elections, G.R. No. 163302, July 23, 2004, 435 SCRA 98; Acop v. Guingona, Jr., G.R. No. 134855, July 2, 2002, 383 SCRA 577;Sanlakas v. Executive Secretary, G.R. No. 159085, February 3, 2004, 421 SCRA 656.