Affidavit of Desistance
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The issue of an Affidavit of Desistance filed by the private complainant in a criminal case which touches on the lack of jurisdiction of the trial court to have proceeded may be considered on appeal.
An affidavit of desistance is merely an additional ground to buttress the accused's defenses, not the sole consideration that can result in acquittal. There must be other circumstances which, when coupled with the retraction or desistance, create doubts as to the truth of the testimony given by the witnesses at the trial and accepted by the judge. In People vs. Echegaray, despite the admission made by the victim herself in open court that she had signed an Affidavit of Desistance, she, nevertheless, "strongly pointed out that she is not withdrawing the charge against the accused because the latter might do the same sexual assaults to other women." All that the accused-appellant offered as defenses mainly consisted of denial and alibi which cannot outweigh the positive identification and convincing testimonies given by the prosecution. Hence, the affidavit of desistance, which the victim herself intended to disregard as earlier discussed, must have no bearing on the criminal prosecution against the accused-appellant, particularly on the trial court's jurisdiction over the case.
Affidavits of retraction executed by witnesses who had previously testified in court will not be countenanced for the purpose of securing a new trial. It would be a dangerous rule for courts to reject testimonies solemnly taken before courts of justice simply because the witnesses who had given them later on change their mind for one reason or another, for such a rule would make solemn trials a mockery and place the investigation of truth at the mercy of unscrupulous witnesses. Affidavits of retraction can be easily secured from poor and ignorant witnesses usually for a monetary consideration. Recanted testimony is exceedingly unreliable. There is always the probability that it may later be repudiated. So courts are wary or reluctant to allow a new trial based on retracted testimony.
- ↑ People vs. Echegaray, G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997
- ↑ People vs. Ballabare, G.R. No. 108871, 19 November 1996, People vs. Echegaray, G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997
- ↑ G.R. No. 117472, 7 February 1997
- ↑ Ibabao vs. People, G.R. No. L-36957, 28 September 1984, citing People vs. Saliling, et al., 69 SCRA 427 (1976)