Principal By Indispensable Cooperation

Art.17 Par. 3 – Principal by indispensable cooperation

1. Participation in the criminal resolution, that is, there is either anterior conspiracy or unity of criminal purpose and intention immediately before the commission of the crime charged; and
 2. Cooperation in the commission of the offense by performing another act, without which it would not have been accomplished.

MEANING OF “cooperation in the commission of the offense”
- To desire or wish in common a thing. But that common will or purpose does not necessarily mean previous understanding, for it can be explained or inferred from the circumstances of each case.

NOTE: If the cooperation is not indispensable, the offender is only an accomplice.

Collective Criminal Responsibility:
- This is present when the offenders are criminally liable in the same manner and to the same extent. The penalty to be imposed must be the same for all.

Principals by direct participation have collective criminal responsibility. Principals by induction, (except those who directly forced another to commit a crime) and principals by direct participation have collective criminal responsibility. Principals by indispensable cooperation have collective criminal responsibilities with the principals by direct participation.

Individual Criminal Responsibility:
- In the absence of any previous conspiracy, unity of criminal purpose and intention immediately before the commission of the crime, or community of criminal design, the criminal responsibility arising from different acts directed against one and the same person is considered as individual and not collective, and each of the participants is liable only for the act committed by him.

QUASI-COLLECTIVE criminal responsibility: Some of the offenders in the crime are principals and the others are accomplices.

What is the essence of being a principal by indispensable cooperation:
- The focus is not just on participation but on the importance of participation in committing the crime.
- The basis is the importance of the cooperation to the consummation of the crime.
- If the crime could hardly be committed without such cooperation, then such cooperation would bring about a principal.
- If the cooperation merely facilitated or hastened the consummation of the crime, this would make the cooperator merely an accomplice.

In case of doubt, favor the lesser penalty or liability. Apply the doctrine of pro reo.

2000 Bar Exam Question

Despite the massive advertising campaign in media against firecrackers and gun-firing during the New Year's celebrations, Jonas and Jaja bought ten boxes of super lolo and pla-pla in Bocaue, Bulacan. Before midnight of December 31, 1999, Jonas and Jaja started their celebration by having a drinking spree at Jona's place by exploding their high-powered firecrackers in their neighborhood. In the course of their conversation, Jonas confided to Jaja that he has been keeping a long-time grudge against his neighbor Jepoy in view of the latter's refusal to lend him some money. While under the influence of liquor, Jonas started throwing lighted super lolos inside Jepoy's fence to irritate him and the same exploded inside the latter's yard. Upon knowing that the throwing of the super lolo was deliberate, Jepoy became furious and sternly warned Jonas to stop his malicious act or he would get what he wanted. A heated argument between Jonas and Jepoy ensued but Jaja tried to calm down his friend. At midnight, Jonas convinced Jaja to lend him his .45 caliber pistol so that he could use it to knock down Jepoy and to end his arrogance. Jonas thought that after all, explosions were everywhere and nobody would know who shot Jepoy. After Jaja lent his firearm to Jonas, the latter again started started throwing lighted super lolos and pla-plas at Jepoy's yard in order to provoke him so that he would come out of his house. When Jepoy came out, Jonas immediately shot him with Jaja's .45 caliber gun but missed his target. Instead, the bullet hit Jepoy's five year old son who was following behind him, killing the boy instantaneously, If you were the Judge, how would you decide the case? Explain.

I would convict Jonas as principal by direct participation and Jaja as co-principal by Indispensable cooperation for the complex crime of murder with homicide. Jaja should be held liable as co-principal and not only as an accomplice because he knew of Jonas' criminal design even before he lent his firearm to Jonas and still he concurred in that criminal design by providing the firearm.