Ampatuan massacre only ONE CRIME,
not 58 crimes of murder
By BERTENI “TOTO” CATALUNA CAUSING
Author, “Simplified Libel Law in the Philippines”
The Department of Justice committed its BIGGEST BLUNDER so far.
And it committed the big ignorance of law in the case of the Maguindanao Massacre that occurred on November 23, 2009, where it has been established that 58 persons, including 33 journalists and two lady lawyers, were killed en masse and in one occasion.
The case that should have been filed against the suspects must only be ONE, and not 58 cases of murder.
There was only one resolution on the part of the culprits: to commit one crime of killing all they could intercept at the checkpoint at the time they could intercept the team of now Maguindanao Governor Toto Mangudadatu.
Since there was only one resolve and that resolve was to kill all the suspects must be charged only with one crime: COMPLEX CRIME OF 58 MURDERS; not 58 murders.
Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code states that when one act results in more than one crime, the offender shall be punished with the maximum penalty of the most or more serious of the crimes that resulted.
Then there is this doctrine of single criminal resolution.
One example of one criminal resolution doctrine is that a robber will be charged with only one crime of robbery if he boarded a bus and robbed all 60 passengers. In reality, there were many crimes that were committed but these were done in a continuous fashion without any interruption.
In a case filed against then Immigration Commissioner Miriam Defensor-Santiago, the Supreme Court quashed each of the criminal informations for several alien persons that she signed to avail of citizenship. That was because Defensor-Santiago committed only one act, by means of one signature in the paper where these aliens’ names were listed. The case is entitled Miriam Defensor-Santiago vs Hon. Francis Garchitorena, et al, G.R. No. 109266 December 2, 1993.
This case of Miriam gave several examples of one criminal resolution or delito continuado, to wit:
(1) The theft of 13 cows belonging to two different owners committed by the accused at the same time and at the same period of time (People v. Tumlos, 67 Phil. 320  ).
(2) The theft of six roosters belonging to two different owners from the same coop and at the same period of time (People v. Jaranillo, 55 SCRA 563  ).
(3) The theft of two roosters in the same place and on the same occasion (People v. De Leon, 49 Phil. 437  ).
(4) The illegal charging of fees for services rendered by a lawyer every time he collects veteran's benefits on behalf of a client, who agreed that the attorney's fees shall be paid out of said benefits (People v. Sabbun, 10 SCRA 156  ). The collection of the legal fees were impelled by the same motive, that of collecting fees for services rendered, and all acts of collection were made under the same criminal impulse (People v. Lawas, 97 Phil. 975  ).
So that it is very clear that the Department of Justice must have filed only ONE CASE OF COMPLEX CRIMES OF 58 MURDERS and if the accused are found guilty, they shall be meted only one penalty: RECLUSION PERPETUA.