Dubious intention
A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) - December 13, 2019 - 12:00am

Kidnapping is the forcible taking and detention or deprivation of liberty of a person, which is a crime punishable under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC). If the person kidnapped or detained is a minor, the penalty is reclusion perpetua to death which is heavier because the kidnapping of a child always attacks the holiest and most intimate affections and the most sacred rights, whatever may have been the reasons of the person committing it. The law has at all times looked upon it with just severity. This is illustrated in our case for today.

This is the case involving Mikaila, a girl three years of age and the daughter of Cecil and Joel. One afternoon Cecil went to shop at a well known department store in downtown Manila together with Mikaila. While strolling at the second floor of the store, Cecil noticed that Mikaila was no longer by her side. So she immediately informed a sales lady about her missing daughter. The sales attendant instructed her to proceed to the paging station at the ground floor and have the child paged.

Fifteen minutes after paging Mikaila, Freddie, a traffic enforcer together with two other policemen entered the department store with Mikaila, and asked Cecil if she was the mother of the child. After identifying herself and affirming that she is the mother, Freddie immediately turned over Mikaila to her and informed her that a person had just been arrested for the kidnapping of Mikaila. Freddie thus requested Cecil to go with him to the police station to give her statement.

On the way out, Cecil saw a handcuffed suspected snatcher by the name of Don Don being mauled outside by irate bystanders. Cecil asked him why he abducted Mikaila and Don Don answered that he was interested in the jewelry that the child was wearing.

Don Don was arrested by Freddie, the traffic enforcer at the area who heard a child crying inside a passenger jeep and asked the driver what is wrong. The driver replied “kidnap ito” and asked Don Don seated at the back, “Pare ano ang nangyari” to which Don Don answered, he was only afraid of people. When Don Don alighted Freddie asked Don Don to go with him but Don Don scampered away carrying Mikaila. Freddie gave chase and caught Don Don with the assistance of a motorcycle cop Sgt. Esguerra.

Don Don was thus charged with the crime of kidnapping for willfully and feloniously kidnapping, detaining or depriving Mikaila of her liberty, without authority of law. The prosecution presented Cecil, Freddie, Sgt. Esguerra as witnesses to prove the above events and happenings.

Don Don however had a different version of what happened. He said he was then shopping at the department store when he noticed the little girl, Mikaila crying beside the escalator who told him that she was looking for her mother. He took pity on her and accompanied her to the paging station. But to reach there he had to go out of the building. He then asked a security guard to take custody of the child but the guard refused. So he was forced to carry the child. But once outside, the child continued crying. It was at the time when Freddie accosted him. With bystanders looking and started milling around, he decided to board a passenger jeep but the driver refused to move the vehicle so he went down  and panicked as the crowd had already swelled. Then he sought the assistance of Sgt. Esguerra. However instead of assisting him Sgt. Esguerra arrested him with the aid of Freddie. His testimony however was rebutted by Freddie and Sgt Esguerra who said that Don Don told him that he was the uncle of Mikaila.

Giving credence to the prosecution witnesses, the trial court convicted Don Don of the crime charged and sentenced him to reclusion perpetua with all the accessory penalties under the law. So Don Don appealed to the Supreme Court and insisted that he was only helping Mikaila.

The Supreme Court ruled however that his insistence is belied by the evidence, especially by the testimony of the motorcycle cop Sgt. Esguerra. If indeed he was trying to help the lost child, he should not have misrepresented himself as the uncle of the Mikaila. He did not mention anything about a lost child and told Sgt. Esguerra that the child was his niece. And if his intention was to look for the mother at the paging station he should not have boarded the passenger jeepney. The established fact is that Don Don was caught in the act of kidnapping Maikaila outside the department store. His guilt has really been proven beyond reasonable doubt. His positive identification by the prosecution witnesses who had no reason to prevaricate, must prevail over his bare denials and totally unacceptable and unbelievable version of what happened. So the decision of the trial court should be completely affirmed (People vs. Luartes, G.R. L-127452, January 17, 1999)

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