Monday, March 05, 2012

People vs. Akiran [18 SCRA 239 (2001)]

Facts: Isirani Sakili, his brother Hadji Hassan and his driver Barulla were on their way to Jolo after loading their truck with copra. They were stopped by a group of armed men (herein accused Kamad Akiran, Jarang Askali, Jamiri Hawadji, Alammara Dumpas, Ahaddin Panning, Isirani Askali, Abdusali Jadji, Jammang Dahim and Ammang Akiran). The leader of the group Jarang Askali ordered Hadji to go home and produce P1600 or else they would kill Isirani. They then brought Isirani to an abaca plantation where they detained him from 9am to 1pm. He was guarded by two members of the group, Jarrang and Ahaddin, while the rest went home. Isirani was then later transferred to one of the accused’s home and was eventually released upon payment of P1000 by Hadji. The remaining balance of P600 was promised to be delivered the following day. 

During the trial, the accused raised the defense that the P1000 was agreed payment between Jarang and Isirani for the hospital bill of Jarang’s brother. The accused claims that the relatives of Isirani shot the brother of Jarang, hence the payment was made so that Jarang would not proceed with his complaint. 

The defense also argued that, granting there was kidnapping, there was no conspiracy to extort ransom. It was raised that only Jarang was active, while the rest of the group was passive in the said act. 

It is further maintained that the accused should not be convicted of kidnapping with ransom because the intention was at most merely to compel Isirani to fulfill his promises of defraying Hayani’s hospital expenses. 

(1) Whether or not there was conspiracy to extort ransom. 

(2) Whether or not the accused committed the crime of kidnapping with ransom. 

(1) YES. The trial court found that, heavily armed, they all waited for Isirani’s truck and stopped it when it came. The other fully concurred in Jarang’s criminal resolution when he demanded P1600 for Isirani’s release and affirmed their assent when they escorted Isirani to the abaca plantation where he was confined. Even if they went home afterwards or did not get any part of the money, the fact that they fully and directly cooperated and did their part so that Jarang’s resolution would be carried out. 

(2) YES. If the purpose was merely to compel Isirani to fulfill his promise of defraying Hayani’s hospital expenses, the accused did not have to kidnap Isirani. All there was to do to compel payment was to threaten to continue the filing of the complaint with regard to the shooting of Jarang’s brother and that would have alarmed Isirani into submission. No kidnapping would have been necessary. 

We state in passing that even if the purpose alleged by the defense is accepted – that is, to compel the alleged payment – under Art. 267 of the RPC as amended by RA 1084 effective 15 June 1954, the offense is still kidnapping for ransom. 

This provision was derived from the statutes of the United States, particularly the Lindbergh Law. Thus, American jurisprudence would have persuasive application where “ransom” has been held to mean “money, price or consideration paid or demanded for redemption of a captured person or persons, a payment that releases from captivity.” 

Since the accused, in this case, demanded and received money as a requisite for releasing a person from captivity, whatever other motive may have impelled them to do so, the money is still ransom under the law. 

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