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G.R. No. 201447, August 28, 2013 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. ANASTACIO AMISTOSO Y BROCA, Accused-Appellant.

G.R. No. 201447, August 28, 2013 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. ANASTACIO AMISTOSO Y BROCA, Accused-Appellant.

PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 201447, August 28, 2013

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. ANASTACIO AMISTOSO Y BROCA, Accused-Appellant.

R E S O L U T I O N

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:

 

Accused-appellant Anastacio Amistoso y Broca (Amistoso) was charged before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Masbate City, Branch 48, in Criminal Case No. 10106, with the rape of his daughter, AAA,1 alleged to be 12 years old at the time of the incident.  The Information2 specifically charged Amistoso with statutory rape under Article 266-A, paragraph (1)(d) of the Revised Penal Code, as amended.

After trial, on March 23, 2006, the RTC promulgated its Decision3  finding Amistoso guilty, not of statutory rape, but of qualified rape under Article 266-A, paragraph (1)(a), in relation to Article 266-B, paragraph  (1), of the Revised Penal Code, as amended.  The dispositive portion of the RTC judgment reads:
WHEREFORE, accused ANASTACIO AMISTOSO, having been convicted of Qualified Rape, he is hereby sentenced to the capital penalty of DEATH; to pay the victim the sum of Seventy[-]Five Thousand Pesos (PhP75,000.00) as indemnity; to pay the said victim the sum of Fifty Thousand Pesos (PhP50,000.00) as for moral damages, and to pay the costs.4cralaw virtualaw library
The Court of Appeals, in its Decision5 dated August 25, 2011, in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 04012, affirmed Amistoso’s conviction for qualified rape but modified the penalties imposed in accordance with Republic Act No. 93466 and the latest jurisprudence on awards of damages.  The appellate court decreed:
WHEREFORE, the appeal is DISMISSED and the assailed Decision dated March 23, 2006 of the Regional Trial Court of Masbate City, Branch 48, in Criminal Case No. 10106 is AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATION.

Accused-appellant Anastacio Amistoso is sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua without eligibility for parole.  In addition to civil indemnity in the amount of P75,000.00, he is ordered to pay the victim P75,000.00 as moral damages and P30,000.00 as exemplary damages.7cralaw virtualaw library
Insisting upon his innocence, Amistoso appealed to this Court.  In its Decision8 dated January 9, 2013, the Court affirmed with modification the judgment of conviction against Amistoso, expressly making him liable for interest on the amounts of damages awarded, to wit:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant appeal of Anastacio Amistoso y Broca is DENIED.  The Decision dated August 25, 2011 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 04012 is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that Amistoso is further ORDERED to pay interest on all damages awarded at the legal rate of 6% per annum from the date of finality of this Decision.9cralaw virtualaw library
However, in a letter10 dated February 7, 2013, Ramoncito D. Roque (Roque), Officer-in-Charge, Inmate Documents and Processing Division of the Bureau of Corrections, informed the Court that Amistoso had died on December 11, 2012 at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), Muntinlupa City.  Roque attached to his letter a photocopy of the Death Report11 signed by Marylou V. Arbatin, MD, Medical Officer III, NBP, stating that Amistoso, 62 years old, died at about 5:00 p.m. on December 11, 2012 of Cardio Respiratory Arrest.  Roque’s letter was received by the Court on February 12, 2013.

Penal Institution Supervisor (PIS) Fajardo R. Lansangan, Sr. (Lansangan), Officer-in-Charge, Maximum Security Compound, NBP, wrote another letter12 dated February 12, 2013, likewise informing the Court of Amistoso’s death on December 11, 2012.  PIS Lansangan appended to his letter a mere photocopy of Amistoso’s Death Certificate.13  The Court received PIS Lansangan’s letter on February 18, 2013.

Yet, on February 22, 2013, the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), which represented Amistoso and which was apparently also unaware of its client’s demise, still filed a Motion for Reconsideration14 of the Court’s Decision dated January 9, 2013.

In a Resolution15 dated March 20, 2013, the Court required Roque to submit a certified true copy of Amistoso’s Death Certificate within 10 days from notice and deferred action on the Motion for Reconsideration filed by the PAO pending compliance with the Court’s former directive.

In a letter16 dated June 20, 2013, and received by the Court on June 25, 2013, PIS Lansangan finally provided the Court with a certified true copy of Amistoso’s Death Certificate.17cralaw virtualaw library

Article 89 of the Revised Penal Code provides:
ART. 89.  How criminal liability is totally extinguished. – Criminal liability is totally extinguished:cralawlibrary

1.  By the death of the convict, as to the personal penalties; and as to pecuniary penalties, liability therefore is extinguished only when the death of the offender occurs before final judgment[.]
In People v. Bayotas,18 the Court laid down the rules in case the accused dies prior to final judgment:
1. Death of the accused pending appeal of his conviction extinguishes his criminal liability as well as the civil liability based solely thereon. As opined by Justice Regalado, in this regard, “the death of the accused prior to final judgment terminates his criminal liability and only the civil liability directly arising from and based solely on the offense committed, i.e., civil liability ex delicto in senso strictiore.”

2. Corollarily, the claim for civil liability survives notwithstanding the death of accused, if the same may also be predicated on a source of obligation other than delict.  Article 1157 of the Civil Code enumerates these other sources of obligation from which the civil liability may arise as a result of the same act or omission:cralawlibrary

a)   Law

b)   Contracts

c)   Quasi-contracts

d)   x x x

e)   Quasi-delicts

3. Where the civil liability survives, as explained in Number 2 above, an action for recovery therefor may be pursued but only by way of filing a separate civil action and subject to Section 1, Rule 111 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure as amended. This separate civil action may be enforced either against the executor/administrator or the estate of the accused, depending on the source of obligation upon which the same is based as explained above.

4. Finally, the private offended party need not fear a forfeiture of his right to file this separate civil action by prescription, in cases where during the prosecution of the criminal action and prior to its extinction, the private-offended party instituted together therewith the civil action. In such case, the statute of limitations on the civil liability is deemed interrupted during the pendency of the criminal case, conformably with provisions of Article 1155 of the Civil Code, that should thereby avoid any apprehension on a possible privation of right by prescription. (Citations omitted.)
Given the foregoing, it is clear that the death of the accused pending appeal of his conviction extinguishes his criminal liability, as well as his civil liability ex delicto.  Since the criminal action is extinguished inasmuch as there is no longer a defendant to stand as the accused, the civil action instituted therein for recovery of civil liability ex delicto is ipso facto extinguished, grounded as it is on the criminal case.19cralaw virtualaw library

Undeniably, Amistoso’s death on December 11, 2012 preceded the promulgation by the Court of its Decision on January 9, 2013.  When Amistoso died, his appeal before the Court was still pending and unresolved.  The Court ruled upon Amistoso’s appeal only because it was not immediately informed of his death.

Amistoso’s death on December 11, 2012 renders the Court’s Decision dated January 9, 2013, even though affirming Amistoso’s conviction, irrelevant and ineffectual.  Moreover, said Decision has not yet become final, and the Court still has the jurisdiction to set it aside.

WHEREFORE, the Court RESOLVES to:cralawlibrary

(1) NOTE PIS Lansangan’s letter dated June 20, 2013 providing the Court with a certified true copy of Amistoso’s Death Certificate;chanr0blesvirtualawlibrary

(2) SET ASIDE its Decision dated January 9, 2013 and DISMISS Criminal Case No. 10106 before the RTC of Masbate City, Branch 48 by reason of Amistoso’s death on December 11, 2012; and

(3) NOTE WITHOUT ACTION the Motion for Reconsideration of the Court’s Decision dated January 9, 2013 filed by the PAO given the Court’s actions in the preceding paragraphs.

SO ORDERED.

Sereno, C.J., (Chairperson), Bersamin, Mendoza,* and Reyes, JJ., concur.

Endnotes:


* Per Special Order No. 1502 dated August 8, 2013.

1 The real name of the victim is withheld to protect her identity and privacy pursuant to Section 29 of Republic Act No. 7610, Section 44 of Republic Act No. 9262, and Section 40 of A.M. No. 04-10-11-SC.  See our ruling in People v. Cabalquinto, 533 Phil. 703 (2006).

2 Records, p. 2.

3 CA rollo, pp. 47-51; penned by Judge Jacinta B. Tambago.

4 Id. at 51.

5Rollo, pp. 2-13; penned by Associate Justice Ramon M. Bato, Jr. with Associate Justices Juan Q. Enriquez, Jr. and Florito S. Macalino, concurring.

6 Entitled “An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in the Philippines.”

7Rollo, p. 13.

8 Id. at 33-53.nadcralawlibrary

9 Id. at 51-52.redcralaw

10 Id. at 54.

11 Id. at 55.

12 Id. at 58.

13 Id. at 59.

14 Id. at 60-68.

15 Id. at 69.

16 Id. at 70.

17 Id. at 71.

18 G.R. No. 102007, September 2, 1994, 236 SCRA 239, 255-256.

19People v. Bayot, G.R. No. 200030, April 18, 2012, 670 SCRA 285, 291.
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