Rose Aoas vs People of the Philippines
547 SCRA 311 – Remedial Law – Evidence – Circumstantial Evidence; when may it be used to uphold conviction
In October 1992, Naty Madon-ep, a businesswoman engaged in the selling of seeds and rice in the public market of Baguio City, noticed that 18 sacks of red and white beans were missing from her stall in the said market – -the 18 sacks amount to P24k. She later noticed that red and white beans were scattered all over the adjoining stall owned by Rose Aoas. The beans can be found in front and inside and on the floor of the stall owned by Aoas. Later, a certain Gregorio Garcia, a barangay tanod, told Naty that in the evening before, he saw Aoas and some of her help unload from her stall several sacks of beans; that he saw Aoas later loaded the said sacks of beans inside a jeepney; that he again saw Aoas sell sacks of beans to one Imelda Bautista.
Naty then sued Aoas for theft. She testified in court that prior to the incident, Aoas removed the partition between their stall; that Aoas said she will be converting her stall into a restaurant that’s why she removed the partition; that Aoas was engaged in the buy and sell of jewelry hence there’s no reason that beans should be found inside her stall.
In her defense, Aoas admitted that she did unload from her stall several sacks of beans but she claimed that said beans belonged to Imelda Bautista. Bautista corroborated this as she testified that they’ve been using the stall of Aoas as a storage for her beans. These testimonies were not admitted by the court.
The trial court convicted Aoas. The Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction.
ISSUE: Whether or not there was sufficient evidence to convict Aoas.
HELD: No. All the evidence presented by the prosecution are merely circumstantial. There was no direct evidence to implicate Aoas as the perpetrator of the crime.
Circumstantial evidence is that evidence which proves a fact or series of facts from which the facts in issue may be established by inference. It is founded on experience, observed facts and coincidences establishing a connection between the known and proven facts and the facts sought to be proved. In order that conviction be had, the following must concur:
1. There is more than one circumstance;
2. The facts from which the inferences are derived are proven;
3. The combination of the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt.
To uphold a conviction based on circumstantial evidence, it is essential that the circumstantial evidence presented must constitute an unbroken chain which leads one to a fair and reasonable conclusion pointing to the accused, to the exclusion of the others, as the guilty person.
In this case, the foregoing requirements were not complied with. Garcia’s testimony did not prove that the the sacks of seeds being taken out from the stall of Aoas were the same sacks of seeds missing from the stall of Naty. Further, the testimony of Garcia was not corroborated at all. On the other hand, Aoas had an explanation as to why sacks of beans were stored in her stall even though she’s engaged in the business of jewelry. It is not impossible for her to store sacks of beans for another vendor, for after all, they are in a public market.
Further, where the proven facts and circumstances are capable of two or more explanations, one of which is consistent with innocence and the other with guilt, the evidence does not fulfill the test of moral certainty and is not sufficient to convict the accused.