Jurisprudence Criminal Law

Error in Personae

When does a Mistake in Identity Become a Criminal Liability?

Mistake In Identity

“Error in personae” or mistake in identity is injuring one person who is mistaken for another. The intended victim is not at the scene of the crime. It is the actual victim upon whom the blow was directed, but he is not really the intended victim. If the crime committed is the same as the crime intended, but on a different victim, error in persona does not affect the criminal liability of the offender.

The maxim “ignorantia facti excusat” applies only when the mistake is committed without fault or carelessness.

In this case, Oanis and Galanta, unlike Ah Chong, found no circumstances whatsoever which would press them to immediate action. The person in the room being then asleep, the two had ample time and opportunity to ascertain his identity without hazard to themselves, and could even effect a bloodless arrest if any reasonable effort to that end had been made, as the victim was accordingly unarmed. This, indeed, is the only legitimate course of action for appellants to follow even if the victim was really Balagtas, as they were instructed not to kill Balagtas at sight but to arrest him, and to get him dead or alive only if resistance or aggression is offered by him.

The crime committed by Oanis and Galanta is not merely criminal negligence, the killing being intentional and not accidental. 

People vs. Oanis, G.R. No. L-47722, July 27, 1943

Jurisprudence Criminal Law

Mistake of Fact

Is There Criminal Liability for Ignorance or Mistake of Fact?

The legal maxim, “Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea,” aptly justifies that the act itself does not make man guilty unless his intention were so.

In the absence of malice (criminal intent), negligence, and imprudence, does not impose any criminal liability on the actor.

Ignorance or mistake of fact, if such ignorance or mistake of fact is sufficient to negative a particular intent which under the law is a necessary ingredient of the offense charged “cancels the presumption of intent,” and works an acquittal; except in those cases where the circumstances demand a conviction under the penal provisions touching criminal negligence; and in cases where, under the provisions of Article 1 of the (old) Penal Code one voluntarily committing a crime or misdemeanor incurs criminal liability for any wrongful act committed by him, even though it be different from that which he intended to commit. There is no criminal liability, provided always that the alleged ignorance or mistake of fact was not due to negligence or bad faith.

US vs. AH CHONG, G.R. No. L-5272, March 19,1910

Jurisprudence Civil Law

Can a teacher be terminated from employment for marrying her student?


An exceptional landmark case wherein the Supreme Court ruled in favor of love.

A 30-year-old teacher married her 16-year-old student when marriage between minors was still legal. As a result, the teacher was terminated from employment “for abusive and unethical conduct unbecoming of a dignified school teacher.” 

While it is true that a having an extra-marital affair with another married person is a serious misconduct, it doesn’t follow that a teacher falling in love with and marrying her student is an immoral act. 

“If the two eventually fell in love, despite the disparity in their ages and academic levels, this only lends substance to the truism that the heart has reasons of its own which reason does not know. ” – Justice Florenz Regalado

Private respondent Tay Tung High School, Inc. was ordered to pay teacher-petitioner backwages equivalent to three (3) years, without any deduction or qualification, and separation pay in the amount of one (1) month for every year of service.

G.R. No. 49549 August 30, 1990

Jurisprudence Civil Law

Whether or not abandonment leads to nullity of marriage

This case is whether or not abandonment by a spouse, by itself, warrants a finding of psychological incapacity within the contemplation of the Family Code, that leads to nullity of marriage. 

The court ruled in the negative. “It must be shown that such abandonment is a manifestation of a disordered personality which makes the spouse concerned completely unable to discharge the essential obligations of the marital state.” – Associate Justice Antonio Carpio

Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, in his dissenting opinion, ruled in contrast stating that for thirty-one years, petitioner has been alone without a spouse. “Parties should not be forced to stay in unhappy or otherwise broken marriages in the guise of protecting the family. This avoids the reality that people fall out of love. There is always the possibility that human love is not forever.”

GR No. 203284 November 14, 2016

Civil Law Jurisprudence

Psychological Incapacity as a Ground for Void Marriage

This case was originally commenced by a distraught wife against her uncaring husband, which decreed the annulment of the marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity.

Refusal of husband to have sex was interpreted to be psychological incapacity. A man who can but won’t is psychologically incapacitated. 

“Love is useless unless it is shared with another… In the natural order, it is sexual intimacy which brings spouses wholeness and oneness. Sexual intimacy is a gift and a participation in the mystery of creation. It is a function which enlivens the hope of procreation and ensures the continuation of family relations.” – Justice Justo Torres Jr. 

Article 36 of the Family Code states: A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization

GR No. 119190 January 16, 1997

Doctrines Political Law

What is Writ of Kalikasan?

This writ is a remedy available to any person whose constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology is violated, or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or private individual or entity, involving environmental damage of such magnitude as to prejudice the life, health or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces. – Rule 7, Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases

The writ of Kalikasan is a legal remedy from the Philippines, from its Article II Section 16 of 1987 Constitution, “The State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.”

Kalikasan is a Filipino word for “nature.”

Doctrines Political Law

What is Writ of Amparo?

The petition for a writ of Amparo is a remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security is violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity. The writ shall cover extralegal killings and enforced disappearances or threats thereof. – The Rule on the Writ of Amparo, A.M. No. 07-09-12-SC

The writ of Amparo serves both preventive and curative roles in addressing the problem of extralegal killings and enforced disappearances. It is preventive in that it breaks the expectation of impunity in the commission of these offenses; it is curative in that it facilitates the subsequent punishment of perpetrators as it will inevitably yield leads to subsequent investigation and action. In the long run, the goal of both the preventive and curative roles is to deter the further commission of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. – The Secretary of National Defense, et al, vs. Manalo, G.R. No. 180906, October 7, 2008

The writ of Amparo came from Latin America.

Doctrines Political Law

How the Philippine Government is Organized

The Philippines is a republic with a presidential form of government wherein power is equally divided among its three branches: Legislative (authorized to make laws), Executive (carries out laws), and Judicial (evaluates laws).


Doctrines Political Law

What is Writ of Habeas Corpus?

To what habeas corpus extends. – Except as otherwise expressly provided by law, the writ of habeas corpus shall extend to all cases of illegal confinement or detention by which any person is deprived of his liberty, or by which the rightful custody of any person is withheld from the person entitled thereto. – Section 1, Rule 102, Revised Rules of Court

A writ requiring a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into court, especially to secure the person’s release unless lawful grounds are shown for their detention. – Oxford Dictionary

A writ of habeas corpus (which literally means to “produce the body”) is a court order demanding that a public official (such as a warden) deliver an imprisoned individual to the court and show a valid reason for that person’s detention. –

The writ of Habeas Corpus originated in England.

Criminal Law Doctrines

What are the Characteristics of Criminal Law?

Generality means that the criminal law of the country governs all persons who lives or sojourns in the Philippines (Article 14, NCC), subject to certain exceptions brought about by international agreement. Ambassadors, chiefs of states and other diplomatic officials are immune from the application of penal laws when they are in the country where they are assigned (People vs. Galacgac, CA., 54 O.G. 1027). Acts performed should be in official capacity and performance of his duty (G.R. No. 125865. January 28, 2000).

Territoriality means that the penal laws of the country have force and effect only within the National Territory of the Philippines, subject to certain exceptions brought about by international agreements and practice. The territory of the country is not limited to the land where its sovereignty resides but includes also its atmosphere, its interior waters and maritime zone, including those outside of its jurisdiction as provided in Article 2, paragraphs 1-5 of RPC. 

Prospectivity means the law acts or omissions will only be subject to a penal law if they are committed after a penal law had already taken effect. Vice-versa, this act or omission which has been committed before the effectivity of a penal law could not be penalized by such penal law. Exception: (1) when new statute it is favorable to the accused and (2) the accused is not a habitual delinquent (Article 22 of RPC).