For voluntary surrender by an offender to be appreciated as a mitigating circumstance that reduces the penalty, the same must be spontaneous and unconditional.
It must be shown that the offender in doing this either “acknowledges his guilt or… wishes to save them the trouble and expenses necessarily incurred in his search and capture” (People v. Gervacio, et al., G.R. L-21965, August 30, 1968 citing People vs. Sakam).
“The word ‘spontaneous’ emphasizes the idea of an inner impulse, acting without external stimulus. The conduct of the accused, not his intention alone, after the commission of the offense, determines the spontaneity of the surrender” (Reyes, the Revised Penal Code).
The surrender must be made to a person in authority or his agents.
Article 152 of the Revised Penal Code defines a person in authority as “[a] person who, by direct provision of law or by election or by appointment by competent authority, is charged with the maintenance of public order and the protection and security of life and property…”
Examples are city councilors, policemen, barangay leaders and “any person who comes to the aid of persons in authority.”
Surrender of the accused to the Justice of the Peace (now called the Municipal Trial Court Judge) with whom he posted a bond, and then to the Constabulary headquarters of the province, is entitled to the mitigation of voluntary surrender (People v. Casalme, L-18033, July 26, 1966).
In the case of People v. Dimdiman, “[v]oluntary surrender may not… be credited to the appellant because the fact that he did not try to escape or did not resist arrest after he was taken into custody by the authorities does not amount to voluntary surrender… Here, the accused after shooting the deceased was immediately disarmed and placed under arrest” (G.R. L-33154 February 27, 1976).
Voluntary surrender is no longer possible if the accused is already in custody.
“While he (the offender) was being investigated under NBI custody regarding the death of one Rebecca Hanasan, he denied in statements he issued on November 13 and 21, 1965 that he poisoned Guillermo Literal” (People v. Hanasan, G.R. L-25989, September 30, 1969).
“He escaped from NBI custody sometime during the first week of December but was immediately recaptured. It was then while under NBI custody again that… he confessed to sole responsibility for the death of Guillermo Literal… thus [there was] no voluntary surrender to speak of since the appellant was in point of fact arrested”(G.R. L-25989, September 30, 1969).
In the case of People v. Gervacio, et al., the Supreme Court rejected the claim of voluntary surrender by the accused Simplicio Gervacio when he and another accused fled “to the province of Leyte which necessitated the authorities in Quezon City to go to the place and search for them.”
In fact, Gervacio surrendered to the Mayor of Biliran 12 days after the commission of the crime (G.R. L-21965, August 30, 1968).
In yet another case, “Reno… went to the Hamtic police station to request that they take custody of the accused-appellant who was then in his house. Undoubtedly, when the police went to Reno’s house at San Angel, San Jose, Antique, it was for the purpose of arresting the accused-appellant and not because he was surrendering to them voluntarily” (People v. Manzano, et al., G.R. 217974, March 5, 2018).
“[M]erely reporting the incident cannot be considered voluntary surrender within contemplation of the law. By [the] accused-appellant’s own admission, he only went to the authorities to inform them that Adrian was injured… [he] claims he had nothing to do with the murder of Oliver…this negates any acknowledgement of guilt” (People v. Badriago, G.R. 183566, May 8, 2009).
However, in the case of People v. Placer, “[h]e (Ramon) had voluntarily yielded himself and the balisong used in the stabbing to Barangay Chairman Rey Loilo of Beguin, Bulan, Sorsogon, who then brought him and the weapon to the police station for proper disposal… the day following the fatal stabbing of Rosalino (victim)…” (G.R. 181753, October 9, 2013).
“That the surrender preceded the filing of the criminal complaint with the Municipal Trial Court of Bulan on June 27, 2001 is notable. There is every indication the surrender was spontaneous on Ramon’s part, indicating his intent to unconditionally submit himself to the authorities, either because he acknowledged his guilt or he wished to save them the trouble and expenses necessary for his search and capture” (G.R. 181753, October 9, 2013).
The Supreme Court, in appreciating voluntary surrender in favor of the accused, said “on seeing Patrolman Cadaoas who had not even drawn his gun the defendant (accused) threw away his bolo, raised his two hands, offered no resistance and said to the patrolman ‘here is my bolo, I stabbed Atty. Bello,’ is indicative of his intent or desire to surrender voluntarily to the authorities” (People v. Tenorio, G.R. L-15478, March 30, 1962).
In the case of People v. Lozano et al., the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender was appreciated because “[i]mmediately upon learning its issuance (warrant of arrest), and without [it] having been served on him, the appellant contacted his co-accused PO2 Lozano [and]… communicated his desire to surrender (the latter in turn called the Police Superintendent)” (G.R. 137370-71. September 29, 2003).
Although “the surrender was induced by his (accused) fear of retaliation by the victim’s relatives does not gainsay the spontaneity of the surrender, nor alter the fact that giving himself up… saved the State the time and trouble of searching for him until arrested” (People v. Clemente, et al., G.R. L-23463, September 28, 1967).
There can be no voluntary surrender if there is a condition imposed such as the need to confer with a councilor (People v. Mutya, G.R. L-11255-11256, Sep 30, 1959).
Neither can there be voluntary surrender if the stimulus to surrender is the impossibility of living in hostility and resistance with authorities without rest or peace for a moment (People v. Sakam, G.R. 41566. December 7, 1934).
While voluntary surrender may appear to be inconsistent with the intent and impunity to commit a crime, the law recognizes that the offender may show some remorse and in effect desire to be subject to judicial corrective measures and rehabilitation; thus, eliminating the need for law enforcement authorities to forcibly arrest the offender.