PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF AND APPELLEE, VS. FABIAN URZAIS Y LANURIAS, ALEX BAUTISTA, AND RICKY BAUTISTA ACCUSED, G.R. No. 207662, April 13, 2016. - The Lawyer's Post.
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R.A. No. 6539, or the Anti-Carnapping Act of 1972, as amended, defines carnapping as the taking, with intent to gain, of a motor vehicle belonging to another without the latter’s consent, or by means of violence against or intimidation against persons, or by using force upon things1. By the amendment in Section 20 of R.A. No. 7659, Section 14 of the Anti-Carnapping Act now reads:
SEC. 14. Penally for Carnapping. Any person who is found guilty of carnapping, as this term is defined in Section two of this Act, shall, irrespective of the value of the motor vehicle taken, be punished by imprisonment for not less than fourteen years and eight months and not more than seventeen years and four months, when the carnapping is committed without violence or intimidation of persons, or force upon things, and by imprisonment for not less than seventeen years and four months and not more than thirty years, when the carnapping is committed by means of violence or intimidation of any person, or force upon things; and the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death shall be imposed when the owner, driver or occupant of the carnapped motor vehicle is killed or raped in the course of the commission of the carnapping or on the occasion thereof. (Emphasis supplied)
Three amendments have been made to the original Section 14 of the Anti-Carnapping Act: (1) the penalty of life imprisonment was changed to reclusion perpetua, (2) the inclusion of rape, and (3) the change of the phrase “in the commission of the carnapping” to “in the course of the commission of the carnapping or on the occasion thereof.” This third amendment clarifies the law’s intent to make the offense a special complex crime, by way of analogy vis-a-vis paragraphs 1 to 4 of the Revised Penal Code on robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons. Thus, under the last clause of Section 14 of the Anti-Carnapping Act, the prosecution has to prove the essential requisites of carnapping and of the homicide or murder of the victim, and more importantly, it must show that the original criminal design of the culprit was carnapping and that the killing was perpetrated “in the course of the commission of the carnapping or on the occasion thereof.” Consequently, where the elements of carnapping are not proved, the provisions of the Anti-Carnapping Act would cease to be applicable and the homicide or murder (if proven) would be punishable under the Revised Penal Code.2
In the instant case, the Court finds the charge of carnapping unsubstantiated for failure of the prosecution to prove all its elements. For one, the trial court’s decision itself makes no mention of any direct evidence indicating the guilt of accused-appellant. Indeed, the CA confirmed the lack of such direct evidence.3 Both lower courts solely based accused-appellant’s conviction of the special complex crime onone circumstantial evidence and that is, the fact of his possession of the allegedly carnapped vehicle.
The Court notes that the prosecution’s evidence only consists of the fact of the victim’s disappearance, the discovery of his death and the details surrounding accused-appellant’s arrest on rumors that the vehicle he possessed had been carnapped. Theres is absolutely no evidence supporting the prosecution’s theory that the victim’s vehicle had been carnapped, much less that the accused-appellant is the author of the same.
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