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THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,

vs.
IGNACIO LAGATA, defendant-appellant.
G.R. Nos. L-1940-42
March 24, 1949
FACTS:
The accused, Ignacio Lagata, a provincial guard of Catbalogan, Samar,
was in charge of 6 prisoners (Jesus, Tipace, Eusebio, Mariano, Labong &
Abria) assigned to work in the capitol plaza of Samar.
Lagata ordered the prisoners to go to the nursery to pick up gabi. Not
long afterwards, they were called to assemble. Epifanio Labong was
missing so Lagata ordered the 5 remaining prisoners to go look for him.
Eusebio Abria said that while they were gathering gabi, he heard 3 shots.
He was wounded by the 2nd one. They were already assembled by the
1st shot and that he did not see Tipace being shot. He said he ran away
because he was afraid that he might be shot again and that his
companions were also probably scared and that is why they ran.
Another prisoner, Mariano Ibaez stated that Epifanio Labong did not
answer their call so Ignacio Lagata ordered to go look for him in the
mountain. He said that Abria went to the camote plantation and found
footprints and called on Lagata to inform him about the footprints. When
Abria told Lagata of the flattened grass and that he was unable to look for
Labong, Ignacio Lagata fired at him and he was hit on his left arm. Abria
told Lagata he was wounded and in turn, Lagata told them to assemble.
Once they were assembled, Lagata cocked his gun and shot Ceferino
Tipace. Mariano said that when he saw Tipace was shot, he ran away
because he also could have been shot.
Eustaquio Galet, another detainee, received good treatment from Lagata
though his testimony corroborated those of the other prisoners.
Pedro Mayuga, chief of Samar Provincial Hospital & Gilberto Rosales,
Sanitary Division president, verified the gunshot wound and that the death
of Tipace resulted therein.
Ignacio Lagata, however, said that he fired his gun because the prisoners
were running far from him when he already ordered them to stop. He said
that he would be the one in jail if a prisoner escaped under his custody.
Furthermore, he would be discharged from duty like the others. He was
hopeless already. Moreover, the picking up of gabi was not part of the
prisoners work.
HELD:
Court ruled that Lagata should be sentenced for homicide and serious
physical injuries.
Appellant was entitled to the benefit of mitigating circumstance of
incomplete justifying circumstance. (Art.11par.5, RPC)
RATIO:

It was clear that Lagata had absolutely no reason to fire at Tipace. The
record does not show that Tipace was bent on committing any act of
aggression or that he attempted to escape.
According to Lagata himself, Tipace was running towards and around
him. How could anyone intending to escape run towards and around the
very guard one was supposed to escape from?
Even if Lagata sincerely believed that he acted in the performance of his
duties, the circumstances show that there was no necessity for him to fire
directly against the prisoners as to wound them seriously and even kill one
of them.
While custodians should take care for prisoners not to escape, only
ABSOLUTE NECESSITY would authorize them to fire against them.