Jay Gregorio, Rolando Estrella, and Ricardo Salazar were found guilty beyond reasonable doubt as principals of the crime of kidnapping for ransom under Art. 267 of the RPC, as amended by RA 7659 and Danilo Bergonia and Efren Gascon, as accomplices for the same crime of kidnapping for ransom of one JIMMY TING, depriving him of his liberty against his will for the purpose of extorting money as in fact a demand for money in the amount of Fifty Million Pesos for his release.
Accused-appellants were also charged with violation of PD 1866, for carrying outside their residences and having in their possession, without lawful authority firearms with live ammunition.
All aforementioned criminal cases were tried together.
Ruling of the RTC
The RTC found Jay, Rolando, and Ricardo guilty as principals and accused-appellants Efren and Danilo guilty as accomplices of the crime of kidnapping for ransom. The RTC though acquitted accused-appellants Jay, Rolando, and Efren of the offense of illegal possession of firearms.
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
The CA affirmed with modification the RTC judgment, ruling that there was conspiracy among all five accused-appellants, thus, they should all be equally liable as principals for the crime of kidnapping for ransom.
Whether or not accused appellants are guilty of the crime of kidnapping for ransom.
The appeal has no merit.
Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, defines and prescribes the penalty for the crime of kidnapping:
Art. 267. Kidnapping and serious illegal detention. – Any private individual who shall kidnap or detain another, or in any other manner deprive him of his liberty, shall suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death;
- If the kidnapping or detention shall have lasted more than three days.
- If it shall have been committed simulating public authority.
- If any serious physical injuries shall have been inflicted upon the person kidnapped or detained, or if threats to kill him shall have been made.
- If the person kidnapped or detained shall be a minor, except when the accused is any of the parents, female or a public officer.
The penalty shall be death where the kidnapping or detention was committed for the purpose of extorting ransom from the victim or any other person, even if none of the circumstances above-mentioned were present in the commission of the offense.
When the victim is killed or dies as a consequence of the detention or is raped, or is subjected to torture or dehumanizing acts, the maximum penalty shall be imposed.
In prosecuting a case involving the crime of kidnapping for ransom, the following elements must be established: (i) the accused was a private person; (ii) he kidnapped or detained or in any manner deprived another of his or her liberty; (iii) the kidnapping or detention was illegal; and (iv) the victim was kidnapped or detained for ransom.
Art. 267 of the RPC, as well as its amending R.A. No, 7659, provides, that, “The penalty shall be death where the kidnapping or detention was committed for the purpose of extorting ransom from the victim or any other person” x x x.
It was clearly established that efforts have been made to raise and deliver the ransom. The elements of kidnapping, having been sufficiently proven, and the appellants, being private individuals, having been clearly identified by the kidnap victim, this Court affirms the finding of appellants’ guilt of the crime of kidnapping for ransom.