Thursday, February 23, 2012

People vs. San Gabriel

Facts: In the evening of 26 November 1989 a fistfight ensued between Jaime Tonog and the accused Ricardo San Gabriel together with "Ramon Doe" on the other. The fight was eventually broken up when onlookers pacified the protagonists. Ricardo and Ramon then hastened towards Marcos Road but in no time were back with bladed weapons. They approached Tonog surreptitiously, surrounded him and simultaneously stabbed him in the stomach and at the back, after which the assailants ran towards the highway leaving Tonog behind on the ground. He was then brought to hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Accused was charged with Murder. Trial court convicted him of the offense charged. 

Issue: Whether or not conviction should be sustained. 

Held:YES. The accused leans heavily on the Advance Information Sheet prepared by Pat. Steve Casimiro which did not mention him at all and named only "Ramon Doe" as the principal suspect. Unfortunately this cannot defeat the positive and candid testimonies of the prosecution witnesses. Entries in official records, as in the case of a police blotter are only prima facie evidence of the facts therein stated. They are not conclusive. The entry in the police blotter is not necessarily entitled to full credit for it could be incomplete and inaccurate, sometimes from either partial suggestions or for want of suggestions or inquiries, without the aid of which the witness may be unable to recall the connected collateral circumstances necessary for the correction of the first suggestion of his memory and for his accurate recollection of all that pertain to the subject. It is understandable that the testimony during the trial would be more lengthy and detailed than the matters stated in the police blotter Significantly, the Advance Information Sheet was never formally offered by the defense during the proceedings in the court below. Hence any reliance by the accused on the document must fail since the court cannot consider any evidence which has not been formally offered. 

Parenthetically, the Advance Information Sheet was prepared by the police officer only after interviewing Camba, an alleged eyewitness. The accused then could have compelled the attendance of Camba as a witness. The failure to exert the slightest effort to present Camba on the part of the accused should militate against his cause. 

Entries in official records made in the performance of his duty by a public officer or by a person in the performance of a duty specially enjoined by law are prima facie evidence of the facts therein stated. But to be admissible in evidence three (3) requisites must concur: (a) The entry was made by a police officer or by another person specially enjoined by law to do so; (b) It was made by the public officer in the performance of his duties or by such other person in the performance of a duty specially enjoined by law; and, (c) The public officer or other person had sufficient knowledge of the facts by him stated, which must have been acquired by him personally or through official information. 

The Advance Information Sheet does not constitute an exception to the hearsay rule, hence, inadmissible. The public officer who prepared the document had no sufficient and personal knowledge of the stabbing incident. Any information possessed by him was acquired from Camba which therefore could not be categorized as official information because in order to be classified as such the persons who made the statements not only must have personal knowledge of the facts stated but must have the duty to give such statements for the record. In the case of Camba, he was not legally so obliged to give such statements. Decision affirmed.

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