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Salapuddin vs. CA Case Digest


An extrajudicial confession is binding only on the confessant. It cannot be admitted against his or her co-accused and is considered as hearsay against them.


Facts: 

On November 13, 2007, shortly after the adjournment of the day's session in Congress, a bomb exploded near the entrance of the South Wing lobby of the House of Representatives (HOR) in the Batasan Complex. The blast led to the death of Representative Wahab Akbar and several others. The explosion was caused by an improvised bomb planted on a motorcycle that was parked near the entrance stairs of the South Wing lobby.

Acting on a confidential information, the police raided an alleged ASG safehouse located in Payatas, Quezon City,  leading to the arrest of several persons, one of which was Ikram Indama, who was the driver of petitioner Gerry Salapuddin. In one of the affidavits executed by Ikram, he said that he heard Salapuddin ordering Redwan to kill Rep. Akbar of Basilan.

The  prosecution  later  on  included  Salapuddin  in  the  complaint  for  murder  and  multiple frustrated  murder  based  on  the  affidavits  of  Ikram.  Later  on,  the  Secretary  of  Justice issued  a resolution excluding Salapuddin from the charges.

Respondents Jum Akbar and Nor-Rhama Indanan filed a petition for certiorari before the CA questioning the Secretary of Justice's resolution. The CA reversed the resolution of the Secretary of Justice stating that the totality of the evidence "sufficiently indicates the probability that Salapuddin lent moral and material support or assistance to the perpetrators in the commission of the crime.”


Issue:

Whether or not the inclusion of Salapuddin in the case was proper.


Held:

No. Indeed, probable cause requires less proof than necessary for conviction. Nonetheless, it demands more than bare suspicion and must rest on competent relevant evidence. A review of the records, however, show that the only direct material evidence against Salapuddin, as he had pointed out at every conceivable turn, is the confession made by Ikram. While the confession is arguably relevant, this is not the evidence competent to establish the probability that Salapuddin participated in the commission of the crime. On the contrary, as pointed out by the Secretary of Justice, this cannot be considered against Salapuddin on account of the principle of res inter alios acta alteri nocere non debet expressed in Section 28, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court:

Sec. 28. Admission by third-party. – The rights of a party cannot be prejudiced by an act, declaration, or omission of another, except as hereinafter provided.

Clearly thus, an extrajudicial confession is binding only on the confessant. It cannot be admitted against his or her co-accused and is considered as hearsay against them.

The exception provided under Sec. 30, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court to the rule allowing the admission of a conspirator requires the prior establishment of the conspiracy by evidence other than the confession. In this case, there is a dearth of proof demonstrating the participation of Salapuddin in a conspiracy to set off a bomb in the Batasan grounds and thereby kill Congressman Akbar. Not one of the other persons arrested and subjected to custodial investigation professed that Salapuddin was involved in the plan to set off a bomb in the Batasan grounds. Instead, the investigating prosecutors did no more than to rely on Salapuddin’s association with these persons to conclude that he was a participant in the conspiracy.

Mere association with the principals by direct participation, without more, does not suffice. Relationship, association and companionship do not prove conspiracy. Salapuddin’s complicity to the crime, if this be the case, cannot be anchored on his relationship, if any, with the arrested persons or his ownership of the place where they allegedly stayed while in Manila.

It must be shown that the person concerned has performed an overt act in pursuance or furtherance of the complicity. In fact, mere knowledge, acquiescence or approval of the act, without the cooperation or approval to cooperate, is not sufficient to prove conspiracy. There must be positive and conclusive factual evidence indicating the existence of conspiracy, and not simple inferences, conjectures and speculations speciously sustained because "it cannot be mere coincidence."

It must not be neglected that strict adherence to the Constitution and full respect of the rights of the accused are essential in the pursuit of justice even in criminal cases. The presumption of innocence, and all rights associated with it, remains even at the stage of preliminary investigation. It is, thus, necessary that in finding probable cause to indict a person for the commission of a felony, only those matters which are constitutionally acceptable, competent, consistent and material are considered. No such evidence was presented to sufficiently establish the probable cause to indict Salapuddin for the non-bailable offenses he is accused of. It, thus, behooves this Court to relieve petitioner from the unnecessary rigors, anxiety, and expenses of trial, and to prevent the needless waste of the courts' time and the government's resources. (Salapuddin vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 184681, February 25, 2013)

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