PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,
PETRUS YAU a.k.a. “John” and “Ricky” and SUSANA YAU y SUMOGBA a.k.a. “Susan”, Accused-Appellants.
G.R. No. 208170 August 20, 2014
TOPIC: Kidnapping for ransom
On January 20, 2004, at around 1:30 in the afternoon, private complainant Alastair Onglingswam, who is a practicing lawyer and businessman from the United States, went out of Makati Shangrila Hotel, where he was billeted, and hailed a white Toyota taxi cab with plate number PVD-115 to take him from the said hotel to Virra Mall. While the said taxicab was plying along EDSA, and within the vicinity of SM Megamall, private complainant received a phone call from his associate Kelly Wei in Hong Kong. He noted that while he was on the phone conversing with his associate, appellant Petrus Yau, whom he noted to have short black hair, a moustache and gold framed eyeglasses, would from time to time turn to him and talk as if he was also being spoken to. Thereafter, he felt groggy and decided to hang-up his phone. He no longer knew what transpired except that when he woke up lying down, his head was already covered with a plastic bag and he was handcuffed and chained.
When private complainant complained that the handcuffs were too tight, a man who was wearing a red mask and introduced himself as “John” approached him and removed the plastic bag from his head and loosened his handcuff. John informed him that he was being kidnapped for ransom and that he will be allowed to make phone calls to his family and friends. Hours later, John returned with telephony equipment, tape recorder, phone and a special antennae cap for the cellphone. With these equipment, private complainant was allowed to call his girlfriend and father and asked them for the PIN of his ATM cards and for money, however, with instructions not to inform them that he was kidnapped. A day after, he was told by his captor to call his girlfriend and father to tell them that he was still alive as well as to reveal to them that he was kidnapped for ransom and his kidnappers were demanding Six Hundred Thousand Dollars (US$600,000.00) as ransom and Twenty Thousand Pesos (Php20,000.00) a day as room and board fee.
During private complainant’s twenty-two (22) days of captivity, while he was allowed to communicate with his family almost daily to prove that he was still alive and was served with meals almost five times a day either by John or the other accused Susan Yau, he was also maltreated i.e. beaten with sticks, made to lay-down biting a piece of wood which was made as target for a rifle.
Complainant was rescued when members of the Police Anti-Crime and Emergency Response Task Force (PACER) intercepted the same taxi with plate number PVD 115 and subsequently appellant led the team to his house where complainant was held captive.
Whether or not Petrus and Susana Yau were guilty of kidnapping for ransom
The elements of Kidnapping For Ransom under Article 267 of the RPC, as amended by R.A. No. 7659, are as follows:
- Intent on the part of the accused to deprive the victim of his liberty;
- Actual deprivation of the victim of his liberty; and
- Motive of the accused, which is extorting ransom for the release of the victim.
All of the foregoing elements were duly established by the testimonial and documentary evidences for the prosecution in the case at bench.
- Petrus is a private individual.
- Petrus kidnapped Alastair by using sleeping substance which rendered the latter unconscious while inside a taxicab driven by the said accused-appellant.
- Petrus took and detained Alastair inside the house owned by him and Susana Yau in Bacoor, Cavite, where said victim was handcuffed and chained, and hence, deprived of his liberty.
- Alastair was taken against his will.
- Petrus made demands for the delivery of a ransomin the amount of US$600,000.00 for the release of the victim.
Petrus is a principal and Susana is an accomplice in the crime of kidnapping for ransom
It must be emphasized that there was no evidence indubitably proving that Susana participated in the decision to commit the criminal act. The only evidence the prosecution had against her was the testimony of Alastair to the effect that he remembered her as the woman who gave food to him or who accompanied his kidnapper whenever he would bring food to him every breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Requisites for a person to be an accomplice
- That there be a community of design; that is, knowing the criminal design of the principal by direct participation, he concurs with the latter in his purpose;
- That he cooperates in the execution by previous or simultaneous act, with the intention of supplying material or moral aid in the execution of the crime in an efficacious way; and
- That there be a relation between the acts done by the principal and those attributed to the person charged as accomplice.
In the case at bench, Susana knew of the criminal design of her husband, Petrus, but she kept quiet and never reported the incident to the police authorities. Instead, she stayed with Petrus inside the house and gave food to the victim or accompanied her husband when he brought food to the victim. Susana not only countenanced Petrus’ illegal act, but also supplied him with material and moral aid. It has been held that being present and giving moral support when a crime is being committed make a person responsible as an accomplice in the crime committed. As keenly observed by the RTC, the act of giving food by Susana to the victim was not essential and indispensable for the perpetration of the crime of kidnapping for ransom but merely an expression of sympathy or feeling of support to her husband.
People v. De Vera: where it was stressed that in case of doubt, the participation of the offender will be considered as that of an accomplice rather than that of a principal.