Ponente: MENDOZA, J.
Petitioner Felicito Basbacio and his son-in-law, Wilfredo Balderrama, were convicted of frustrated murder and of two counts of frustrated murder. Petitioner and his son-in-law were sentenced to imprisonment and ordered immediately detained after their bonds had been cancelled. Petitioner and his son-in-law appealed. The Court of Appeals rendered a decision acquitting petitioner on the ground that the prosecution failed to prove conspiracy between him and his son-in-law. Based on his acquittal, petitioner filed a claim under Rep. Act No. 7309, Sec. 3(a), which provides for the payment of compensation to “any person who was unjustly accused, convicted, imprisoned but subsequently released by virtue of a judgment of acquittal.” The claim was filed with the Board of Claims of the Department of Justice, but the claim was denied on the ground that while petitioner’s presence at the scene of the killing was not sufficient to find him guilty beyond reasonable doubt, yet, considering that there was bad blood between him and the deceased as a result of a land dispute and the fact that the convicted murderer is his son-in-law, there was basis for finding that he was “probably guilty.” Petitioner brought this petition for review on certiorari as a special civil action under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.
Whether or not petitioner is entitled of the claim under R.A. No. 7309.
NO. Petitioner’s contention has no merit.
Verba legis non est recedendum – from the words of a statute there should be no departure.
To say then that an accused has been “unjustly convicted” has to do with the manner of his conviction rather than with his innocence. An accused may on appeal be acquitted because he did not commit the crime, but that does not necessarily mean that he is entitled to compensation for having been the victim of an “unjust conviction.” If his conviction was due to an error in the appreciation of the evidence the conviction while erroneous is not unjust. That is why it is not, on the other hand, correct to say as does respondent, that under the law liability for compensation depends entirely on the innocence of the accused.