Philippine Supreme Court Resolutions

Philippine Supreme Court Resolutions > Year 2008 > May 2008 Resolutions > [G.R. No. 168167 : May 17, 2008] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES V. RENATO SULIT, RUFINO SULIT, NESTOR ANDAYA, ROLANDO RANOLA AND EDWIN NOVALES AND EIGHT (8) JOHN DOES:


[G.R. No. 168167 : May 17, 2008]



Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of the Court En Banc dated June 17, 2008

G.R. No. 168167 (People of the Philippines v. Renato Sulit, Rufino Sulit, Nestor Andaya, Rolando Ranola and Edwin Novales and Eight (8) John Does)

For review of the Court is the March 30, 2005 Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 00560 entitled <I>People of the Philippines v. Renato Sulit, et al. The decision affirmed the Judgment dated May 29, 2002 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 171 in Valenzuela City which held accused-appellants guilty of the crime of kidnapping for ransom and serious illegal detention.

The antecedent facts are as follows:

On July 20, 1999 at around 8 to 8:30 a.m., AAA,[1] then 17 years old and her sister, BBB, then 16 years old, were on board their car and on their way to school, when three armed men blocked their path. The three men went inside the car and took over the driving of the car. They traveled for about 20 minutes and stopped somewhere in Ugong, Valenzuela City. The sisters were then told to alight from their car and transfer to a waiting taxicab where another three men were already on board. One of the men who were with them also boarded the white taxi. The sisters were made to sit at the back in between two armed men. AAA identified one of the two men at the backseat as Edwin Novales.

Thereafter, they travled towards Cavite and stopped near a grassy field. They alighted from the taxi and were led to a nipa hut where three men were waiting inside. They were kept inside the hut handcuffed to a bamboo bed from July 20 to July 23, 1999. AAA identified Novales, Rolando Ranola, and Nestor Andaya as the men who guarded them inside the hut during that period.

On July 23, 1999, the sisters were transferred by four men to a smaller nipa hut which they reached on foot in about five minutes. Just before leaving the first hut, AAA was given and told to wear a jacket and a pair of rubber boots by Rufino Sulit. Her sister, BBB, was made to wear a cap. They stayed in the second hut until July 25, 1999 when they were informed of their impending release because the kidnappers had already received the ransom money from their parents. At around midnight, they left the second hut, walked for 20 minutes, stopped, and waited until a tricycle arrived with an old man on board. The latter was identified by AAA as Rufino. The sisters boarded the tricycle along with Rufino and Novales. They stopped at a carinderia (canteen) and then boarded a jeep going to Alabang, Muntinlupa City.

Upon arriving at Alabang, the men with the two sisters called a taxi and instructed the driver to take these girls to Valenzuela City. The sisters, however, told the driver to take them to Grand Boulevard Hotel because the kidnappers said that their parents would be waiting there. Their parents were not at the hotel and did not arrive there until 30 minutes after they called them by phone.

The father of the victims testified that he was able to give a ransom amounting to Php 2 million.

During arraignment, Novales pleaded guilty. The other accused pleaded not guilty. The defenses of all the accused were denial and alibi. Except for the admission that Rufino and Renato Sulit are relatives, accused-appellants claimed that they had never met each other prior to their detention in Camp Crame.

On May, 29, 2002, the RTC in its Decision[2] found accused-appellants guilty of kidnapping for ransom and serious illegal detention and sentenced them to death. Moreover, accused-appellants were ordered to jointly and severally pay each of the victims the amount of PhP 500,000 as moral damages, and the father of the victims Php 2 million, representing the ransom paid for the release of the victims. Thus, they appealed to the CA.

On March 30, 2005, the CA affirmed the trial court as follows:

WHEREFORE, the decision of the RTC of Valenzuela City, Metro Manila dated May 29, 2002 in Criminal Case No. 750-V-99 sentencing the appellants to suffer the penalty of death for the crime of kidnapping for ransom and serious illegal detention as defined and penalized under Article 267 if the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 8 of republic Act 7659; to jointly and severally to pay victims x x x the amount of [Php] 500,000.00 each as moral damages and their father x x x the amount of [Php] 2,000,000.00, representing the ransom paid for the release of the victims, without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency; and to pay the costs of suit, is hereby AFFIRMED.

Pursuant to Section 13, Rule 124 of the Rules of Court as amended by A.M. No. 00-5-03-SC, let this case be certified and elevated to the Supreme Court for further review.


On July 12, 2005, this Court required the parties to submit supplemental briefs if they so desired. The parties, however, manifested that they would no longer file any supplemental brief. Thus, this case has been submitted for the resolution of this Court.

The issues in accused-appellants� brief filed with the CA are now deemed adopted in this present appeal:


The CA (and the trial court) erred in not finding that the prosecution failed to prove that accused appellants actually participated or have in any way, conducted themselves in such a manner indicating that they were in cahoots with the kidnappers.


The CA (and the trial court) erred in convicting accused-appellants despite the fact that their guilt was not proven beyond reasonable doubt.

Considering this allegations, issues, and arguments adduced in the appeal, the Court finds that the appeal failed to sufficiently show reversible error in the assailed decision. Accused-appellants tried to discredit the testimony of the complaining witness. However, it is a settled doctrine that the trial court�s finding of credibility is conclusive on the appellate court, unless it is shown that certain facts of substance and value have been plainly overlooked, misunderstood, misapplied.[4] In this case, accused-appellants have not shown that the findings of the RTC and CA should be reversed.

Moreover, we agree with the CA in finding that accused-appellants conspired in committing the crime. Accused-appellants� conspiracy was deduced from the following acts: (1) looking for a place to hold the victims in captivity only several days before the victims� actual abduction; (2) providing the safe house where the victims were actually detained and accepting payment for its use; (3) guarding the victims and preventing their escape; (4) fetching the tricycle to be used as transportation; and (5) providing the victims with clothing articles in order to prevent their being recognized by others.

The penalty and award of damages, however, should be modified. In view of the effectivity of Republic Act No. (RA) 9346 or An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of the Death Penalty in the Philippines, the imposition of the penalty of death has been prohibited and in lieu thereof, the penalty of reclusion perpetua should be imposed, without eligibility for parole.

Further, it is an established rule that when a crime is attended by an aggravating circumstances, whether ordinary or qualifying, the offended party is entitled to exemplary damages within the meaning of Article 2230 of the New Civil Code.[5] There being an aggravating circumstances of a demand for ransom in this case, an award of exemplary damages in the amount of PhP 100,000 should be imposed.

WHEREFORE, the Court ADOPTS the findings of fact and conclusions of law in the March 30, 2005 Decision of the CA in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 00560, finding accused-appellants Renato Sulit, Rufino Sulit, Nestor Andaya, Rolando Ranola, and Edwin Novales guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of kidnapping for ransom and serious illegal detention, and AFFIRMS said Decision with the MODIFICATION that the penalty of death imposed on accused-appellants is reduced to reclusion perpetua without eligibility for parole in accordance with RA 9346. Accused-appellants are likewise ordered to pay jointly and severally each of the victims moral damages of PhP 500,000 and exemplary damages of PhP 100,000, and to pay the victims� father actual damages of PhP 2,000,000 plus legal rate of interest from filing of information until full payment. Costs against accused-appellants.

Very truly yours,

Clerk of Court


[1] In accordance with Republic Act No. 9262, otherwise known as the Anti-Violence against Women and Their Children Act of 2004, and its implementing rules, the real names of the victims are withheld; instead, fictitious initials are used to represent them to protect their privacy. See People v. Cabalquinto, G.R. No. 167693, September 19, 2006, 502 SCRA 419.

[2] CA rollo, pp.26-39. Penned by Judge Floro P. Alejo.

[3] Rollo, pp. 41-42. Penned by Associate Justice Delilah Vidallon-Magtolis and concurred in by Associate Justices Perlita J. Tria Tirona and Jose C. Reyes, Jr.

[4] People v. Dimaano, G.R. No. 168168, September 14, 2005, 469 SCRA 647, 658.

[5] People v. Catubig, G.R. No. 137842, August 23, 2001, 363 SCRA 621, 635.

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