People vs. Factao

Share this post!


G.R. No. 125966
January 13, 2004


In the evening of August 23, 1991, Vicente Manolos was in a kamalig near the seashore in Barangay Sirawagan, San Joaquin, Iloilo with Eduardo Sardoma, Rolando Nierves, Noel Serrano and the hut’s owner, Fernando Sardoma. Sometime past 8:00 p.m., Vicente felt the urge to defecate so he went beside a boat about four or five meters from the hut. As Vicente relieved himself, he saw Juan Factao and Albert Francis Labroda approach the hut. Factao was armed with a garand rifle.

As the two men neared the kamalig, Labroda looked around as if to see if there was anyone else about. Factao peeped into the hut, which was illuminated by an electric light bulb, aimed his gun at a hole in the hut’s bamboo wall and fired.

From about five arms’ length away, Jose Manuel Sermona also witnessed the shooting. Jose Manuel saw Juan Factao, Albert Francis Labroda and Tirso Servidad pass the hut where he was staying as they walked towards the kamalig of Fernando Sardoma. Factao was carrying a garand, although the other two were unarmed. Labrado looked on as Factao peeped into the kamalig, aimed and fired. Factao and Labrado then ran towards the river while Servidad separated from the two.

Another witness was Eduardo Sardoma. Inside the kamalig, Eduardo Sardoma was conversing with Rolando Nierves, Noel Serrano and Fernando Sardoma. The latter was on the floor lying on his side. Suddenly, Eduardo heard an explosion. Immediately, he went outside and saw Tirso Servidad bending his body forward and moving his head sideways. Eduardo quickly wrapped his arms around Tirso. Eduardo also espied Juan Factao, who was carrying a garand, and Albert Francis Labroda running from the scene.

Eduardo then heard Fernando Sardoma pleading for help. Fernando said he had been shot and asked to be brought to the hospital. Eduardo went back inside the hut, where he found Fernando bathing in his own blood.

The police investigation resulted in the apprehension of Juan Factao, Albert Francis Labroda and Tirso Servidad.

The accused denied any participation in the killing of Fernando Sardoma. They invoked alibi as their defense.

Factao and Labrado, both members of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU), claimed that at the time of the incident they, along with Noel Lupase and Carlos Garcia, were celebrating the birthday of Labroda in the latter’s house.

Accused Servidad, also a CAFGU member. presented a different account of his whereabouts. Servidad was on his way home when he met Sirawagan Barangay Captain Faustino Nierves at about 8:30 in the evening of 23 August 1991. The two then heard an explosion from the direction of the seashore. Barangay Captain Nierves instructed Servidad to investigate the explosion.

Some ten meters from Fernando’s hut, Servidad came upon Rolando Nierves and Vicente Manalos, and inquired about the explosion. Rolando and Vicente replied that Fernando had been shot. Servidad asked them to call for other people to help bring Fernando to the hospital. Servidad then proceeded to the kamalig and peeped through the door. Inside, he saw a bleeding Fernando. Servidad asked people to help him lift Fernando to the jeep. Thereafter, he headed back home.

Servidad’s alibi was corroborated by Barangay Captain Nierves, who testified having met Servidad right before the explosion, and instructing the latter to investigate the incident. Later that evening, Servidad informed him that Fernando Sardoma had been shot.

Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Iloilo City rendered judgment finding all three accused guilty of Murder and sentencing them to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua.


Are the accused guilty of the crime charged for acting in conspiracy with each other?


The Court entertains no doubt that appellants Juan Factao and Albert Francis Labroda are guilty of the slaying of Fernando Sardoma.

Conspiracy between appellants Factao and Labrado was adequately established. Conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it. It is not necessary, however, that conspiracy be proved by direct evidence of a prior agreement to commit the crime. Conspiracy may be deduced from the mode and manner in which the offense was perpetrated or inferred from the acts of the accused which show a joint or common purpose and design, a concerted action and a community of interest among the accused.

While there is no direct evidence to show that Factao and Labroda agreed to commit the crime, the acts of Factao and Labroda immediately before and after the shooting evince a commonality in design sufficient to make them co-principals to the killing. Vicente Manolos testified that as Factao prepared to shoot Fernando, Labrado was looking around to see if anyone else was about. Thereafter, the two fled together, running in the same direction, a fact to which Jose Manuel Sermona and Eduardo Sardoma also testified.

The alibi of appellants Factao and Labroda cannot prosper in the face of the positive identification by prosecution witnesses Vicente Manolos and Jose Manuel Sermona, who were both familiar with the two appellants. Alibi, which is easy to concoct, cannot prevail over positive identification.

On the other hand, the prosecution failed to establish appellant Tirso Servidad’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Vicente Manolos testified that he saw only Juan Factao and Albert Labroda at the scene of the crime. On direct examination, he did not mention appellant Servidad at all.

On cross-examination, the witness adverted to appellant Tirso Servidad but only because the private prosecutor mentioned his name. Moreover, he confirmed the fact that he did not see the appellant Servidad at the same time that he saw the other two appellants.

Vicente’s testimony contradicts that of Jose Manuel Sermona, who allegedly saw Servidad with Factao and Labroda going to Fernando’s hut. Jose Manuel claimed that Servidad allegedly separated from the other two and went to the front door, which was facing the seashore:

Servidad’s behavior in nonchalantly greeting no less than the Chief of Police is unusual for one who had just killed a fellow human being. Again, as correctly pointed out by the defense, it is contrary to human experience for a guilty person, right after the commission of a crime, to roam the streets within the vicinity of the crime scene where police authorities could easily apprehend him.

Even if Servidad were indeed present at the scene during the shooting, such fact by itself would not render him criminally liable. The mere presence of a person at the scene of the crime does not make him a co-conspirator. The prosecution did not offer any evidence that Servidad performed any act from which his conspiracy to the crime may be deduced.

Appellants Juan Factao and Albert Francis Labroda are found GUILTY of the crime of Murder and are sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. For failure of the prosecution to establish his guilt beyond reasonable doubt, appellant Tirso Servidad is ACQUITTED.

You can help law students and barristas by contributing to our collection. Please upload your case digests, reviewers or other relevant materials HERE.

For attribution or removal, contact us.

What's on your mind? Type it 👇😃