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PeoplevsAvecilla:117033:February15,2001:J.YnaresSantiago:FirstDivision

FIRSTDIVISION

[G.R.No.117033.February15,2001]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiffappellee, vs. RAFAEL AVECILLA y


MOBIDO,accusedappellant.
DECISION
YNARESSANTIAGO,J.:

AccusedappellantwaschargedwiththecrimeofQualifiedIllegalPossessionofFirearm,committed
asfollows:
ThatonoraboutDecember24,1991,intheCityofManila,Philippines,thesaidaccused,notbeing
allowedorauthorizedbylawtokeep,possessandcarryafirearm,didthenandtherewilfully,unlawfully,
andknowinglyhaveinhispossession,controlandcustodyafirearm,towit:
One(1).38CaliberRevolverColt(Paltik)markedmadeinUSA
withoutfirstobtainingthenecessarylicenseand/orpermittocarryandpossessthesameandin
connectionandbyreasonofsuchpossession,didthenandtherewilfully,unlawfullyandfeloniously,
withintenttokill,fireandshootoneMacarioAfable,Jr.yCanqui,thusinflictinguponthelattermortal
gunshotsandinjurieswhichcausedthedeathofthelatterasaconsequence.[1]
Itappearsfromtherecordsthatatabout11:00oclockintheeveningofDecember24,1991,accused
appellantarrivedatthebasketballcourtlocatedonDapoStreet,Pandacan,Manila,and,fornoapparent
reason,suddenlyfiredagunintheair.Hethenwenttoanearbyalleyand,minuteslater,proceededtothe
closedstoreaboutfour(4)metersawayfromthebasketballcourt.There,heinitiatedanargumentwith
thegroupofBoyManalaysay,JimmyTolentinoandMacarioAfable,Jr.Afabletriedtopacifyaccused
appellant,whereupon,thelatterplacedhisleftarmaroundAfablesneckandshothimpointblankonthe
abdomen.Afablerantowardthealleyandaccusedappellantranafterhim.Anothershotrangout,soone
of the bystanders, Carlos Taganas, went to the alley and there, he saw accusedappellant and Afable
grappling for possession of the gun.The Chief BarangayTanod arrived and was able to wrest the gun
awayfromaccusedappellant,whoimmediatelyfledfromthesceneoftheincident.Afablewasrushedto
thePhilippineGeneralHospital,whereheeventuallyexpired.
On June 21, 1994, the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 38, rendered judgment convicting
accusedappellantofthecrimeofQualifiedIllegalPossessionofFirearm,sentencinghimtosufferthe
penaltyofreclusionperpetua, and ordering him to indemnify and pay damages to the victims heirs.[2]
Hence,thisappealfiledbyaccusedappellant.
Therecordsandtheevidenceshowthattheelementsoftheoffenseofqualifiedillegalpossessionof
firearms,definedinthesecondparagraphofSection1,PresidentialDecreeNo.1866,arepresentinthis
case.Specifically,thereare:
1.theremustbeafirearm
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2.thegunwaspossessedbytheaccused
3.theaccusedhadnolicensefromthegovernmentand
4.homicideormurderwascommittedbytheaccusedwiththeuseofsaidfirearm.[3]

Theprosecutionsufficientlyestablishedbyevidencethataccusedappellanthadinhiscustodyand
possessionthefollowingfirearmsandammunitions:
1.One (1) .38 cal. Rev., Colt paltik without serial number, nickel plated with brown handle, two and
onehalfinchesbarrelandmarkedBC
2.Three(3).38CalibercartridgecasesmarkedBC1,BC2,BC3
3.Two(2).38cal.Ammo.(usedfortest)
4.One(1).38cal.slug(deformed)markedFfromMedicolegal.[4]

Likewise,perCertificationoftheFirearmsandExplosivesOfficedatedSeptember1,1992,[5]itwas
provedthataccusedappellantwasnotalicensedorregisteredfirearmholderofanykindandcaliber.
Finally,therewasaneyewitnessaccountpositivelyassertingthataccusedappellanthadthesubject
firearm in his possession and used it in shootingthe victim.[6]The medical examination on the victim
disclosedthatthegunshotwoundshesustainedwerecausedbythesameunlicensedfirearminaccused
appellantspossession,andthatthesamewerethedirectcauseofthedeathofthevictim.The ballistics
report established that the deformed .38 caliber slugs found in the victims body were fired from the
subjectfirearm.[7]Thevictimscauseofdeathwasdeterminedascardiorespiratoryarrestduetoshock
andhemorrhagesecondarytogunshotwound,leftanterolateralthorax.[8]
However, the law on illegal possession of firearms has been amended by RepublicAct No. 8294,
whichtookeffectonJuly6,1994.Thepertinentprovisionofthesaidlawprovides:
SECTION1.UnlawfulManufacture,Sale,Acquisition,DispositionorPossessionofFirearmsor
AmmunitionorInstrumentsUsedorIntendedtobeUsedintheManufactureofFirearmsorAmmunition.
ThepenaltyofprisioncorreccionalinitsmaximumperiodandafineofnotlessthanFifteenthousand
pesos(P15,000.00)shallbeimposeduponanypersonwhoshallunlawfullymanufacture,dealin,
acquire,dispose,orpossessanylowpoweredfirearm,suchasrimfirehandgun,.380or.32andother
firearmofsimilarfirepower,partoffirearm,ammunition,ormachinery,toolorinstrumentusedor
intendedtobeusedinthemanufactureofanyfirearmorammunition:Provided,thatnoothercrimewas
committed.
xxxxxxxxx
Ifhomicideormurderiscommittedwiththeuseofanunlicensedfirearm,suchuseofanunlicensed
firearmshallbeconsideredasanaggravatingcircumstance.
IftheviolationofthisSectionisinfurtheranceoforincidentto,orinconnectionwiththecrimeof
rebellionorinsurrection,sedition,orattemptedcoupdetat,suchviolationshallbeabsorbedasan
elementofthecrimeofrebellion,orinsurrection,sedition,orattemptedcoupdetat.(Underscoring
provided)
Itisclearfromtheforegoingthatwheremurderorhomicideresultsfromtheuseofanunlicensed
firearm,thecrimeisnolongerqualifiedillegalpossession,butmurderorhomicide,asthecasemaybe.
In such a case, the use of the unlicensed firearm is not considered as a separate crime but shall be
appreciatedasamereaggravatingcircumstance.InviewoftheamendmentsintroducedbyRepublicAct
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No.8294toPresidentialDecreeNo.1866,separateprosecutionsforhomicideandillegalpossessionare
no longer in order. Instead, illegal possession of firearms is merely to be taken as an aggravating
circumstanceinthehomicidecase.[9]
Thus,inPeoplev.Nepomuceno,Jr.,[10]westated:
But,pursuanttotheamendment,theuseofanunlicensedfirearminthecommissionofmurderor
homicideistreatedasanaggravatingcircumstance.There,theillegalpossessionoruseofthe
unlicensedfirearmisnolongerseparatelypunished.ThisCourtemphaticallysaidsoinPeoplev.
Bergante(286SCRA629[1998]),thus:
TheviolationofP.D.No.1866shouldhavebeenpunishedseparatelyconformablywithourrulingin
Peoplev.Quijada.Nevertheless,fortunatelyforappellantRexBergante,P.D.No.1866wasrecently
amendedbyRepublicAct.No.8294,otherwiseknownasAnActAmendingtheProvisionsof
PresidentialDecreeNo.1866,asAmended.ThethirdparagraphofSection1ofsaidActprovidesthatif
homicideormurderiscommittedwiththeuseofanunlicensedfirearm,suchuseofanunlicensed
firearmshallbeconsideredasanaggravatingcircumstance.Inshort,onlyoneoffenseshouldbe
punished,viz.,eitherhomicideormurder,andtheuseoftheunlicensedfirearmshouldonlybe
consideredasanaggravatingcircumstance.BeingfavorabletoRexBergante,thisprovisionmaybe
givenretroactiveeffectpursuanttoArticle22oftheRevisedPenalCode,henotbeingahabitual
criminal.
The crime of illegal possession of firearm, in its simple form, is committed only where the
unlicensedfirearmisnotusedtocommitanyofthecrimesofmurder,homicide,rebellion,insurrection,
seditionorattemptedcoupdetat.Otherwise,theuseofunlicensedfirearmwouldbetreatedeither:(1)as
anessentialingredientinthecrimesofrebellion,insurrection,seditionorattemptedcoupdetator(2)as
anaggravatingcircumstanceinmurderorhomicide.
WithrespecttotheconvictionofaccusedappellantforillegalpossessionoffirearmsunderP.D.No.
1866,itwasheldinthecaseofPeoplevs.Molina(292SCRA742)andreiteratedintherecentcaseof
Peoplevs.RonaldoValdez(G.R.No.127663,March11,1999,304SCRA611),thatincaseswhere
murderorhomicideiscommittedwiththeuseofanunlicensedfirearm,therecanbenoseparate
convictionforthecrimeofillegalpossessionoffirearmsunderP.D.No.1866inviewoftheamendments
introducedbyRepublicActNo.8294.Thereunder,theuseofunlicensedfirearminmurderorhomicide
issimplyconsideredasanaggravatingcircumstanceinthemurderorhomicideandnolongerasa
separateoffense.Furthermore,thepenaltyforillegalpossessionoffirearmsshallbeimposedprovided
thatnoothercrimeiscommitted(Section1ofR.A.No.8294).Inotherwords,wheremurderor
homicidewascommitted,thepenaltyforillegalpossessionoffirearmsisnolongerimposablesinceit
becomesmerelyaspecialaggravatingcircumstance(Peoplev.Molina,supra,atp.782).
Itbearsstressing,however,thatthedismissalofthepresentcaseforillegalpossessionoffirearmshould
notbemisinterpretedtomeanthattherecannolongerbeanyprosecutionfortheoffenseofillegal
possessionoffirearms.Ingeneral,allpendingcasesinvolvingillegalpossessionoffirearmsshould
continuetobeprosecutedandtriedifnoothercrimesexpresslyprovidedinR.A.No.8294areinvolved
(murderorhomicide,underSection1,andrebellion,insurrection,seditionorattemptedcoupdetat,
underSection3)(Peoplev.Valdez,supra).[11]
Inasmuch as the amendatory law is favorable to accusedappellant in this case, the same may be
retroactivelyapplied.This new law applies even to violations that occurred prior to its effectivity as it
maybegivenretroactiveeffectunderArticle22oftheRevisedPenalCode.[12]
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R.A.8294tookeffectonJuly6,1997.ThecrimeinvolvedinthecaseatbenchwascommittedonMay5,
1991.Asageneralrule,penallawswillgenerallyhaveprospectiveapplicationexceptwherethenewlaw
willbeadvantageoustotheaccused.InthiscaseR.A.8294willspareaccusedappellantfromaseparate
convictionforthecrimeofillegalpossessionoffirearm.Accordingly,saidlawshouldbegiven
retroactiveapplication.[13]
Neithercanaccusedappellantbechargedwithsimpleillegalpossession.Asstatedabove,thesame
mayonlydonewherenoothercrimeiscommitted.[14]
Withmorereason,accusedappellantcannotbeconvictedofhomicideormurderwiththeuseofthe
unlicensed firearm as aggravating, inasmuch as said felonies are not charged in the information but
merelymentionedastheresultoftheuseoftheunlicensedfirearm.Accusedappellantwasnotarraigned
forhomicideormurder.Hence,hecannotbeconvictedofanyofthesecrimeswithoutviolatinghisright
to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, not to mention his right to due
process.
WHEREFORE,inviewoftheforegoing,theappealeddecisionisREVERSED.CriminalCaseNo.
92105691,forQualifiedIllegalPossessionofFirearm,isDISMISSED.
SOORDERED.
Davide,Jr.,C.J.,(Chairman),Puno,Kapunan,andPardo,JJ.,concur.
[1]CriminalCaseNo.92105691RTCRecord,p.1.
[2]PennedbyJudgeArturoU.Barias,Jr.RTCRecord,p.141.
[3]Peoplev.Nepomuceno,Jr.,309SCRA466,469(1999).
[4]ExhibitN1.
[5]ExhibitA.
[6]TSN,September16,1992,pp.817.
[7]Exh.N1.
[8]Exh.G.
[9]Peoplev.PO2Samonte,G.R.No.126048,September29,2000Peoplev.Ricafranca,G.R.Nos.12438486,January28,
2000Peoplev.Lazaro,317SCRA435,at452(1999)Peoplev.DeVera,Sr.,308SCRA75,100(1999).
[10]Supra.
[11]Peoplev.Ringor,Jr.,320SCRA342,at35455(1999).
[12]Peoplev.Bergante,286SCRA629(1998).
[13]Peoplev.Lazaro,supra,at453.
[14]RepublicActNo.8294,Section1,firstpar.

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