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G.R. No.179535. June 9, 2014DEL CASTILLO, J.:


·         Petitioner was charged with the crime of murder was filed before the RTC,
·         lberto Berbon y Downie (Alberto), a 49-year old Senior Desk Coordinator of the radio station DZMM, was shot in the head and different parts of the body in front of his house in Imus, Cavite by unidentified malefactors who immediately fled the crime scene on board a waiting car
·         NBI arrested and took into custody one Romeo Reyes (Reyes) for the crime of Illegal Possession of Deadly Weapon. 
·         Reyes confided to the group of Atty. Dizon that he was willing to give vital information regarding the Berbon case.
·         Reyes claimed that on December 15, 1996, he saw petitioner and Sotero Paredes (Paredes) board a red car while armed with a .45 caliber firearm and armalite, respectively; and that petitioner told Paredes that "ayaw ko nang abutin pa ng bukas yang si Berbon."12 Subsequently, Reyes posted bail and was released on February 14, 1997. Thenceforth, he jumped bail and was never again heard of. NBI Agent Segunial testified on these facts during the trial.
·         victim’s widow, Sabina Berbon (Sabina) likewise testified. According to her, sometime in the third week of February 1997 Reyes sought financial help so he could transfer his family to the province and protect them from any untoward consequence that may result from his giving information to the NBI regarding the death of Sabina’s husband. 
·         Sabina gave him the total amount of ₱1,500.00 and promised to help him in applying for the witness protection program.
·         testified that he sold his red Ford Escort car to three persons who came to his residence.
·         he NBI Medico-Legal Officer who conducted a post-mortem examination on Alberto, declared in his Autopsy Report that the victim suffered multiple gunshot wounds in the head and body.
·         trial court adjudged petitioner guilty of murder.
·         the CA affirmed with modification

Petitioners Argument: petitioner anchors his quest for the reversal of his conviction on the alleged erroneous admission in evidence of the Sinumpaang Salaysay of Reyes for being hearsay and inadmissible. He avers that the said sworn statement should not have been given probative value because its contents were neither confirmed nor authenticated by the affiant. Thus, all circumstances emanating from or included in the sworn statement must be totally brushed aside as lacking any evidentiary and probative value. Petitioner emphasizes that as found by the courts below, there was no direct evidence linking him to the crime; therefore, he wants this Court to review the sufficiency of the circumstantial evidence upon which his conviction was based as he believes that the same failed to establish his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.


            Whether the testimony of Reyes is hearsay.


            The Petition is devoid of merit.
Truly, "direct evidence of the commission of a crime is not the only basis from which a court may draw its finding of guilt."27 The rules of evidence allow a trial court to rely on circumstantial evidence to support its conclusion of guilt. Circumstantial evidence is that evidence "which indirectly proves a fact in issue through an inference which the fact-finder draws from the evidence established."28 Under Section 4, Rule 133 of the Rules of Court, circumstantial evidence would be sufficient to convict the offender "if i)there is more than one circumstance; ii) the facts from which the inference is derived are proven; and iii) the combination of all circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt."29 All the circumstances must be consistent with one another, consistent with the hypothesis that the accused is guilty and at the same time inconsistent with the hypothesis that he is innocent. Thus, conviction based on circumstantial evidence can be upheld provided that the circumstances proved constitute an unbroken chain which leads to one fair and reasonable conclusion that points to the accused, to the exclusion of all others as the guilty person.30

In this case, the circumstances found by the CA as forming an unbroken chain leading to one fair and reasonable conclusion that petitioner, to the exclusion of all others, is the guilty person are the following:
1. In the morning of December 15,1996, petitioner was heard telling his co-accused Sotero Paredes (Sotero) "ayaw ko nang abutin pa ng bukas yang si Berbon" before boarding a red car. Sotero was holding an armalite rifle while petitioner was armed with a .45 caliber pistol;
2. The said red car was identified or recognized by prosecution witness Rodolfo to be the same car he had sold to Sotero for ₱10,000.00 in September 1996;
3. The victim Alberto was fatally shot later in the day (December 15, 1996) by unidentified gunmen who thereafter immediately fled riding a red car; and
4. Post-mortem examination of the victim’s body showed that he sustained multiple gunshot wounds, the nature, severity and characteristics of which indicate that they were inflicted using high-powered guns, possibly anarmalite rifle and .22 caliber pistol.
The records reveal that there was no eyewitness to the actual killing of Alberto. Thus the courts below were forced to render their verdict of conviction on circumstantial evidence as sanctioned under Section 4, Rule 133of the Rules of Court. The central issue now confronting this Court is whether the prosecution has amply proved by circumstantial evidence petitioner’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
The circumstantial evidence relied upon by the Court of Appeals sufficiently support petitioner’s conviction.

The Court has carefully scrutinized the evidence presented in this case in the light of the standards.
First, NBI Agent Segunial testified that he had investigated Reyes and reduced the latter’s statement into writing.
The Court is unconvinced.
The hearsay evidence rule as provided under Section 36, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court states:
Sec. 36. Testimony generally confined to personal knowledge; hearsay excluded. – A witness can testify only to those facts which he knows of his personal knowledge; that is, which are derived from his own perception, except as otherwise provided in these rules.
Evidence is hearsay when its probative force depends in whole or in part on the competency and credibility of some persons other than the witness by whom it is sought to produce. However, while the testimony of a witness regarding a statement made by another person given for the purpose of establishing the truth of the fact asserted in the statement is clearly hearsay evidence, it is otherwise if the purpose of placing the statement on the record is merely to establish the fact that the statement, or the tenor of such statement, was made. Regardless of the truth or falsity of a statement, when what is relevant is the fact that such statement has been made, the hearsay rule does not apply and the statement may be shown. As a matter of fact, evidence as to the making of the statement is not secondary but primary, for the statement itself may constitute a fact in issue or is circumstantially relevant as to the existence of such a fact. This is known as the doctrine of independently relevant statements.
In the present case, the testimony of NBI Agent Segunial that while he was investigating Reyes, the latter confided to him that he (Reyes) heard petitioner telling Sotero "Ayaw ko nang abutin pa ng bukas yang si Berbon" and that he saw the two (petitioner and Sotero) armed with a .45 caliber pistol and an armalite, respectively, before boardinga red car, cannot be regarded as hearsay evidence. This is considering that NBI Agent Segunial’s testimony was not presented to prove the truth of such statement but only for the purpose of establishing that on February 10, 1997, Reyes executed a sworn statement containing such narration of facts. This is clear from the offer of the witness’ oral testimony.36 Moreover, NBI Agent Segunial himself candidly admitted that he is incompetent to testify on the truthfulness of Reyes’ statement.37 Verily then, what the prosecution sought to be admitted was the fact that Reyes made such narration of facts in his sworn statement and not necessarily to prove the truth thereof. Thus, the testimony of NBI Agent Segunial is in the nature of an independently relevant statement where what is relevant is the fact that Reyes made such statement and the truth and falsity thereof is immaterial. In such a case, the statement of the witness is admissible as evidence and the hearsay rule does not apply.Moreover, the written statement of Reyes is a notarized document having been duly subscribed and sworn to before Atty. Cesar A. Bacani, a supervising agent of the NBI. As such, it may be presented in evidence without further proof, the certificate of acknowledgment being a prima facie evidence of the due execution of this instrument or document involved pursuant to Section 30 of Rule 132 of the Rules of Court. As held in Gutierrez v. Mendoza-Plaza,a notarized document enjoys a prima facie presumption of authenticity and due execution which must be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence. Here, no clear and convincing evidence was presented by petitioner to overcome such presumption. Clearly, therefore, the CA did not err in its appreciation of Reyes’ sworn statement as testified to by NBI Agent Segunial.
Second, the identification and recognition through photograph by Rodolfo of the 1971 Ford Escort red colored car as the same car he had sold to Sotero in September 1996 clearly and convincingly prove that it was the very same red car used in the killing of Alberto on December 15, 1996.
Third, Alberto was shot and killed on December 15, 1996 and the gunmen immediately fled the scene riding a red car which was identified as the same car previously sold by Rodolfo to Sotero.
Fourth, though the testimony of Dr. Lagat was limited to the post-mortem examination of the cadaver of Alberto, his findings that the victim suffered multiple gunshot wounds and that the same were caused by high-powered guns, served as corroborative evidence and contributed in a significant way in establishing the level of proof that the law requires in convicting petitioner.
Lastly, petitioner’s escape from detention on August 26, 1998 while the case was pending can also be considered as another circumstance since it is a strong indication of his guilt.

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