People v. Lugod G.R. 136253, February 21, 2001

Facts: On October 10, 1997, an Information for rape with homicide was filed against the accused. PEDRO DELA TORRE testified that on September 15, 1997, at 10:30 p.m., the accused arrived at his house and joined the drinking session of his son. He noticed that the accused was wearing a black T-shirt and appeared to be drunk. Dela Torre claims that the accused left at around 11:45 p.m. ROMUALDO RAMOS testified that at around 8:30 on the morning of September 16, 1997, he was driving his tricycle towards the poblacion of Cavinti. While driving towards the poblacion, he noticed the accused coming out of the gate of Villa Anastacia. Upon seeing the accused, he stopped his tricycle thinking that the accused would board the same but the accused did not mind him. He noticed that the accused was wearing only a pair of white short pants with a red waistline and was not wearing a T-shirt or any slippers. The accused also appeared to be drunk. Thereafter, he proceeded to the poblacion terminal where he discovered that Nairube was missing. He also learned that the accused was the suspect behind her disappearance. Upon learning this, he told Ricardo Vida, the Chief of the barangay tanod who was searching for the victim, to look for her at Villa Anastacia because it was the place where he saw the accused come out from. Ramos further testified that the house of the victim is about five hundred (500) meters away from the place where he saw the accused but if one passes through the coconut plantation, it is only two hundred (200) meters away. FLORO ESGUERRA, the Vice-Mayor of Cavinti, testified that on September 19, 1997 at around 3:30 p.m., he attended the funeral of Nairube. After the funeral, he visited the accused in his cell. In the course of his conversation with the accused, the accused confessed to the commission of the offense. On October 8, 1998 the RTC rendered a decision finding the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape with homicide. In view of the imposition of the death penalty, the case is now before the Court on automatic review.

Issue: Whether the confession of guilt of the accused must be conclusive and beyond reasonable doubt to convict him of the accused crime.

 

Held: No, the prosecution fails to establish that he raped and killed Nairube Ramos beyond reasonable doubt. The prosecution did not present any direct evidence to inculpate him in the commission of the crime. Neither did the prosecution present circumstantial evidence sufficient to establish his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Moreover, accused-appellant claims that the alleged confession he made to the vice-mayor was not a confession. In addition, the records do not support the confession allegedly made by the accused-appellant to the Vice-Mayor. Records show that the testimony of the Vice-Mayor with respect to the alleged confession made by the accused-appellant is not conclusive. As can be seen from the testimony of the Vice-Mayor, accused-appellant merely responded to the ambiguous questions that the Vice-Mayor propounded to him. He did not state in certain and categorical terms that he raped and killed Nairube. In fact, the Vice-Mayor admitted that the accused-appellant did not tell him that he raped and killed Nairube. In addition, we note the contradiction between the testimony of the Vice-Mayor who stated that he was alone when he spoke to the accused-appellant and that of SPO2 Gallardo who claimed that he was present when accused-appellant confessed to the Mayor and Vice-Mayor.

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