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6/12/2017 G.R.No.

177223




THIRDDIVISION


PEOPLE OF THE G.R.No.177223
PHILIPPINES,
PlaintiffAppellee, Present:

YNARESSANTIAGO,J.,
ActingChiefJustice,
AUSTRIAMARTINEZ,
versus CORONA,
CHICONAZARIO,and
NACHURA,JJ.

Promulgated:
CASTORBATIN,
AccusedAppellant. November28,2007
xx

DECISION


CHICONAZARIO,J.:


[1]
WearereviewinghereintheDecision oftheCourtofAppealsdated6February2007,in
CAG.R.CRHCNo.01396,affirmingtheDecisionoftheRegionalTrialCourt(RTC)ofQuezon
City,convictingfatherandson,CastorandNeilBatin,ofthecrimeofmurder.Theconvictionwas
forthekillingofoneEugenioRefugio,whowasshotintheafternoonof21October1994, while
he was leaning against a mango tree near his house on St. Peter Street, San Paolo Subdivision,
NagkakaisangNayon,Novaliches,QuezonCity.

[2]
The Information against Castor and Neil Batin was filed by the Office of the City
ProsecutorofQuezonCityon11April1995,allegingasfollows:

That on or about the 21st day of October, 1994, in Quezon City, Philippines, the above
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namedaccused,conspiringtogether,confederatingwithandmutuallyhelpingeachother,did,then
andthere,wilfully,unlawfullyandfeloniously,withintenttokill,withtreachery,takingadvantage
ofsuperiorstrength,andwithevidentpremeditation,attack,assaultandemploypersonalviolence
upon the person of one EUGENIO REFUGIO y ZOSA, by then and there shooting him with a
handgun, hitting him on the right side of his stomach, thereby inflicting upon him serious and
mortalwoundswhichwerethedirectandimmediatecauseofhisuntimelydeath,tothedamageand
prejudiceoftheheirsofsaidEugenioRefugioyZosa,insuchamountasmaybeawardedunderthe
provisionsoftheCivilCode.


CastorandNeilBatinenteredpleasofnotguilty.

The prosecution, presented as its witnesses Eusebio Farrales, Vilma Juadinez Rodriguez,
Florante Baltazar, Josephine Refugio, PO3 Marifor Segundo and Police Inspector Solomon
Segundo,offeredthefollowingversionofthefacts,assummarizedbythetrialcourt:

Eugenioswife,JosephineRefugio,waswithhimwhenhewasshot,facinghimasheleaned
againstthemangotreeand,infact,hadherarmsrestingonhisshoulders.Sherecalledthatbefore
theshooting,shewasathomeatNo.4ASt.PeterStreetthatafternoonwhen,lookingoutofthe
window, she caught sight of Castor Batin washing his feet at a nearby faucet.Castor was angrily
muttering, and she distinctly heard him say, among the other things he said: Mga matatandang
kunsintidor,dapatmanahimikna.Then,beingthroughwithwashinghimself,Castormovedtowards
thestreet.Seeingthis,shewentdownandalsowenttothestreetbecauseofafeelingofuneasiness
(Para po akong kinakabahan, kasi, ganoon naman ang ginagawa nila lagi, eh, pag nalalasing).
FindingherhusbandleaningagainstthemangotreeonthesideofSt.PeterStreet,shewenttohim.
ShetriedtotalkEugeniointogoinghomewithherbecauseCastorwasagainintooneofhiswild
ways(Nagwawalananaman,daldalngdaldal).AshewastalkingwithEugenio,sheglancedtoher
leftandsawNeilBatinstandingatthegatetotheir(Batins)compound,lookingtowardsherandher
husband.Afewmomentslater,Neilwenttooneoftheparkedcars,openeditsdoor,andtookagun
frominside.ShenextnoticedCastorgoingtowardsNeilasthelatterstoodatthesideofthecarand
shouting:Huwag!CastorgrabbedthegunfromNeil.Afterthegunwastakenfromhim,Neiljust
proceededtowardstherightrearofthecar.CastorfollowedNeilandhandedthegunbacktohim.

WhensheshiftedherglancefromtheBatins,JosephineheardCastororderinghisson:Sige,
banatanmona.Neilrespondedbydrawingthegunfromhiswaistline,raisingandaimingitather
and her husband, and firing twice from his eyelevel. Both Josephine and Eugenio fell to the
ground,theformer,backwards,andthelatterlandingontopofher.Astheytriedtogetup,Eugenio
utteredtoher:Nanay,maytamaako.Shethenpulledherhusbandbytheshoulderofhisshirtsothat
she could take him to their house as he was already slumped to the right. She later rushed her
husbandtotheQuezonCityGeneralHospital,whereheunderwentsurgery,butlaterexpired.

Other eyewitnesses from the neighborhood were presented and they substantially
corroboratedhertestimonialaccount.

Oneofthem,EusebioFarrales,aresidentofNo.7St.PaulStreet,inrelationtowhichSt.
PeterStreetwasperpendicular,recalledbeingatthebarangayoutpostnearthecornerofSt.Peter
StreetandSt.PaulStreetbetween3:00and3:30pmoftheafternoonofOctober21,1994engaged
intheclearingofthedebrisoftherecenttyphoonwhenheheardsomeonecursingandchallenging
toafight.WalkingtowardsSt.PeterStreetwherethevoicecame,hesawthatitwasCastor.Healso
sawotherneighbors,namely,Eugenio,Josephine,andEugeniosmother,EmiliaRefugio.According

toFarrales,Castorwasmovingaimlesslyforaroundfiveminutes(Walangdirektionatpaikotikot
langsiyadoon)whilecussing:Putanginaninyo,sinoangmatapanglumabas.

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Farralesstatedthatawhitecarandawhiteandyellowcoloredtaxicabwereparkedonthe
sideportionofthestreetfrontingthegatetothecompoundoftheBatinsandnearwhereEugenio
andJosephinestood.Emilia,themotherofEugenio,thencametowardshim,butheadvisedherto
seekassistancefromthebarangaytanod.AfterEmiliaproceededtowardsSt.PaulStreettodoso,
Neilcameoutthroughthegate,openedthedoorofthewhitecar,tookoutagunfrominside,and
handedtheguntoCastor,butthelatterreturnedtheguntoNeil.Upongettingbackthegun,Neil
reenteredtheyardthroughthegate.

Farrales asserted that in the meanwhile Eugenio remained leaning against the mango tree
withJosephinefacinghimandherarmsrestingonhisshoulders.Theywereinthispositionwhen
Neilagaincameoutthroughthegateafewmomentslaterandproceededtotherightsideofthecar,
stillholdingthehandgun.Fromthere,NeilfiredtwiceattheRefugios.TheRefugiosbothfelltothe
leftofthemangotree.FarralessawbothCastorandNeilquicklyenterthecompound.Atthatpoint,
Farrales decided to run home in order to summon Alfredo Dizon, his tenant, who was a police
officerbecausehefearedthattheBatinsmightescapefromthescenebycar.

FarralesandDizonlostnotimeingoingtotheplaceoftheBatins.AfterDizontalkedwith
Castoratthegateofthelatterscompound,thelatterenteredthehouseofhisnephew,RickyBasilio,
whichwasbesideCastorsownhouse.Afewmomentslater,CastorcameoutofBasilioshousetolet
Dizoninthroughthegate.Itwasaboutthistimethattherespondingpoliceofficersarrivedatthe
scene.Thevictimhadbeenrushedtothehospitalimmediately.

Anotherneighbor,VilmaJuadinesRodriguez,residentofNo.7ASt.PeterStreet,declared
that while she was at home taking care of her baby at between 3:00 and 3:30 pm of October 21,
1994,sheheardsomeonechallengingotherstoafightthatlookingoutofherwindow(dungaw),
shesawthatitwasBoyBatinCastorandhewasthenwalkingaboutonSt.PeterStreetthatjust
then,herchildcried,andsoshewenttohimthatuponreturningtothewindowtocallherother
child, she saw Castor hand over a handgun to Neil, and the latter thereafter entered through their
gatethatshenextsawNeilloadbulletsintothegunandthentuckingitinhisrightwaistlinethat
after loading, Neil went out to the street, went between the parked white car and yellow taxicab,
aimedthegunatEugenioandJosephinewhowereatthemangotree,andthenaskedCastor:Tay,
banatankona?thatCastorreplied:Sige,anak,banatanmona.that,atthatinstant,Neilfiredtwo
shotsthatasshewentdowntogetherotherchilduponhearingthegunshots,sheheardJosephine
say: Tay, may tama ka that she later reentered her house and that she knew that Eugenio died
afterwards.

AlthoughEugeniowasrushedtotheQuezonCityGeneralHospitalrightaftertheshooting
andwasoperatedon,heexpiredthenextday.Hisremainswereproperlyidentifiedinwritingbyhis
[3]
brother,TitoEugenio.


The medicolegal officer of the PNP Crime Laboratory Service, Dr. Florante Baltazar,
[4]
conducted an autopsy on Eugenios remains. In his MedicoLegal Report No. M171594, he
indicatedthatEugeniosustainedonegunshotwound,whichwas,however,fatal,becauseitwent
slightlyupward,slightlyanteriorwardfromtherighttotheleftofthebody,fracturingtherightto

[the] left [of the] thoracic region, lacerating the right lumbar region. Dr. Baltazar made the
[5]
certificationastothecauseofdeathinthedeathcertificate.
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[6]
Upon a written request from the Novaliches Police Station, Quezon City, Police
Inspector Solomon Segundo, Chief of the Firearms Identification Branch of the Central Crime
Laboratory,NorthernPoliceDistrictCommand,QuezonCity,conductedtheballisticsexamination
to ascertain whether or not the bullet recovered from the victim was fired from the specimen
[7]
firearmsubmittedforexamination.P/Insp.SegundopreparedBallisticsReportNo.B04294,
[8]
wherein he certified that the bullet from the recovery box and the bullet recovered from the
[9] [10]
victimsbody were fired from the same specimen firearm. This conclusion was arrived at
afteratestfireandacomparisonunderthebulletcomparisonmicroscope.

The defense, on the other hand, presented accused Neil Batin, Castors commonlaw wife
MariconPantoja,andoneRestitutoPaller.NeilBatinstestimonyissummarizedbythetrialcourt
asfollows:

Neil substantially claimed that it was his responsibility to conduct his younger brothers to
school and fetch them by car that he also drove their taxicab that it was about 7:00 oclock in
morning of October 21, 1994, while he was cleaning the familyowned taxicab, that he found a
shortgun(debola)underneathitbesidetherightrearwheelthathepickedthegunandconcealedit
inthecompartmentofthetaxicabthathecontinuedwithhischoreofcleaningthatassoonashe
finished cleaning the taxicab, he drove the white Datsun car to Tondo to fetch his sixyear old
brother Mark, the son of his father with Maricon Pantoja that Mark was a pupil at the Magat
Salamat Elementary School in Tondo that after picking up Mark, they drove to the house of his
uncle,DomingoBatin,inMarulas,Valenzuela,togethisclothesfromhiscousinthattheyarrived
thereat11:00am,andspentaroundtwohourstherethatfromMarulas,theywenthome,arrivingat
St.PeterStreetataround2:30pmthatheparkedthecarontheroadinfrontoftheirfencethathe
andMarkfirstenteredthehousetodepositMarksschoolthingsandlaterwentoutsidetoawaitthe
arrivalofMarksmotherthathisotherbrotherswereoutsidethatCastorwasalsooutsidetalking
withamanwhosenamehedidnotknowbutwhomhehadseenthricebeforeaswellaswithBoy
IigoinfrontofthelattershousethatIigoshousewas15metersfromtheirgatethatPantojasoon
arrivedataround2:45pmthathecontinuedtalkingandplayingwithhisbrothersandthatatthat
pointhedecidedtotakethegunfromthecompartmentofthetaxicabthenparkedaround2meters
awayfromwhereheandhisbrotherswereandtuckeditinhiswaistline.

Havingthustuckedthegun,NeilwenttostandattherightrearsideoftheDatsuncarwhich
was parked facing the mango tree (halos magkatapat lang po).Maricon came out to the street at
thatpointtoaskhimaboutthetimehehadfetchedMark.Itwaswhilehewasstandingtherewith
theothersthat,accordingtoNeil,hesuddenlyfelttheimpulseofdrawingthegunfromhiswaistline
(Biglakongnaisipangbunutinangbaril).Hethusdrewthegunandturnedaround,but,ashedid
so, he accidentally pulled the trigger, causing the gun to fire twice (Tumalikod po ako, tapos
nakalabitko,pumutokngdalawangbeses).


NeiladmittedknowingthelateEugenioRefugioandhiswifeJosephinebecausetheywere
hisneighborswithonlyahighwallseparatingtheirhousesbutdeniedseeingthemthatafternoon
besidethemangotree.

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At the sound of gunfire, Castor rushed towards Neil from where he was in front of Iigos
house,shoutingtwicetohisson:Huwag!Pantoja,forherpart,forcedNeiltoenterthecompound,
where she brought him inside the house of his aunt.Neil concealed the gun in the ceiling of the
auntshouse.

NeilsaidthatheandhisfatherdidnotgrappleinsidetheDatsuncarforpossessionofthe
gunthathisfatherdidnotwrestthegunfromhimthathedidnotenterthecompoundtoputbullets
inthegunthathisfatherdidnotorderhimtoshootEugenioandthathisfatherwasnotdrunkand
challengingotherstoafight.HeinsistedthatheandtheRefugios,withwhomhewasacquainted
since1987,hadnomisunderstandings,forheevenhadshareddrinkswiththelateEugeniobefore
[11]
October21,1994.


As regards the testimonies of the defenses two other witnesses, the trial court could not
make an intelligible narrative of the version of the facts presented by them, considering the
contradictions it found in their testimonies. The trial court found glaring Maricon Pantojas self
contradiction as to where she and the accused were when Eugenio was shot. During the trial,
Maricontestifiedthatshe,NeilandCastorwereoutsidetheirhousewhenNeildrewthegunand
[12]
accidentally fired. However, in her affidavit, she alleged that they went outside their house
uponhearingagunexplosionandsawEugenioRefugioaloneholdinghisstomachxxxwehave
[13]
noanyknowledgewhetherhewashitbyabullet.

On8June1998,thetrialcourtrendereditsDecisionfindingbothaccusedguiltyofmurder,
qualifiedbytreachery,towit:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered finding the accused CASTOR BATIN and
NEILBATINguiltybeyondreasonabledoubtofthecrimeofMURDERasdefinedandpenalized
under Art. 248, Revised Penal Code, as amended, and they are hereby each sentenced to suffer
reclusion perpetua and ordered to pay the heirs of EUGENIO REFUGIO, through his wife,
JOSEPHINEREFUGIO,asfollows:

1]P50,000.00,asdeathindemnity

2]P61,500.00,asactualdamages

3]P500,000.00,asmoraldamages

4]P307,920.00,asindemnityforlostofearningcapacityand

[14]
5]Thecostsofsuit.


NeilandCastorBatinfiledanappealwiththeCourtofAppeals.However,on13November
2000,accusedNeilBatinfiledanUrgentMotiontoWithdrawAppeal.ThePeopleinterposedno
objectiontotheMotion,whichwasgranted.

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On6 February 2007, the Court of Appeals rendered the assailed Decision affirming, with
modification,theDecisionofthetrialcourt,towit:

WHEREFORE,inviewoftheforegoing,thedecisionoftheRegionalTrialCourtofQuezon
City, Metro Manila in Criminal Case No. Q9561003 is hereby AFFIRMED with
MODIFICATIONastocivilliabilities.Withtheexceptionoftheawardofmoraldamageswhichis
reduced to P100,000.00 and the indemnity for loss of earning capacity which is increased to
[15]
P723,840.00,theawardsfordeathindemnityandactualdamagesareretained.


CastorBatinnowcomesbeforethisCourt,assigningthefollowingerrors:

I

THEHONORABLECOURTOFAPPEALSANDTHETRIALCOURTGRAVELYERREDIN
FINDING THE ACCUSEDAPPELLANT GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT AS
PRINCIPALFORINDUCEMENTFORTHECRIMECHARGED.

II

THEHONORABLECOURTOFAPPEALSANDTHETRIALCOURTGRAVELYERREDIN
[16]
APPRECIATINGTHEAGGRAVATINGCIRCUMSTANCEOFTRACHERY.


CastorBatinpraysthattheDecisionoftheCourtofAppealsbereversedandsetasideanda
newoneenteredacquittinghimofthecrimecharged.Inthealternative,hepraysthathebeheld
liable for the crime of homicide only, arguing that the qualifying circumstance of treachery was
notsufficientlystatedintheInformation.

WhethertherewasconspiracyinthekillingofEugenio
Refugio


It is evident from Castors Supplemental Brief and all his other issuances after the
withdrawal of Neils appeal that he had already discarded Neils theory of accidental shooting.
Instead,hisargumentsaregearedtowardhisdistancinghimselffromtheactofNeilinshooting
EugenioRefugio.


We cannot, however, dispose of the discussion of Neils theory of accidental shooting. As
Neils testimony had been the only evidence presented by the defense to rebut the prosecutions
evidence concerning the acts of Castor during the incident, we should carefully scrutinize Neils
testimonytodeterminehiscredibility.
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testimonytodeterminehiscredibility.

Neil claims that while his back was still turned against the Refugios, he suddenly felt the
impulsetodrawthegunfromhiswaistline.Hedrewthegun,turnedaroundwiththeguninhand,
andaccidentallyfiredittwicewithoutaimingitatanyone.

Asheldbythetrialcourt,thisaccountisplainlyfarfetchedandincredible.Asobservedby
thetrialcourt,

The revolver involved herein was a mechanical firearm which belonged to the socalled double
actiontypeofguns.Thistypehasafiringmechanismwhichpermitstwomethodsoffiringthefirst
is by manually cocking or retracting the hammer and then pressing the trigger to release the
hammerthesecondisbyapplyingcontinuouspressureonthetriggerinordertocockthehammer
and then releasing the trigger. The drop of the hammer by either method propels the firing pin
forwardsothatitsotherendstrikestheprimercaptoexplodethepropellantchargeinsidetheshell
whichthenforcesoutthebulletthroughthegunbarrel.Fromthenatureofthefiringmechanismof
ExhibitO,andtherebeingnoevidenceshowingthatthehammerwasmanuallycockedbeforethe
gunfired,itwasabsolutelyphysicallyimpossiblefortheguntofireaccidentally.

Inordertodetermineforhimselfhowmuchpressurewasnecessarytocockthehammerintofiring
position, the undersigned presiding judge personally tested the trigger pull of Exhibit O. Even
assuming that the passage of time from the date of the shooting caused some change on the
efficiencyofthefiringmechanism,suchchangecanonlyshowupbywayofaweakeningofthe
hammerspring.Nonetheless,itwasnotsurprisingfortheundersignedpresidingjudgetofindheavy
resistance at each trigger pull, such that he exerted some force to cock the hammer. This actual
testing easily validated the conclusion that firing the gun accidentally and unintentionally was
[17]
impossible.


Neilsclaimthatheaccidentallyfiredtheguntwiceinquicksuccessionis,thus,evenmore
incredible.Giventhedifficultyofpullingthetriggertocockthehammerintofiringposition,itis
inconceivablehowtheguncouldhavebeenfiredbyNeiltwiceinquicksuccessionexceptbya
deliberateandintentionalpullingofthetrigger.

Given the physical attributes and condition of the gun involved in the case at bar, the
testimony of Eusebio Farrales is likewise observed to be much more credible than that of Neil.
Whereas Neil claims that he accidentally fired the gun twice using only one hand, Eusebio

FarralestestifiedthatNeilfiredattheRefugioswhileholdingthegunwithbothhandsandfroma
standingposition.

Whilethemaximfalsusinunofalsusinomnibusisnotanabsoluteruleoflawandisinfact
[18]
rarely applied in modern jurisprudence, Neils credibility has been severely tarnished by the
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foregoingportionofhistestimony.Thus,weshouldlikewisetakewithagrainofsaltthefollowing
partsofhistestimonywhichtendtorefutetheaccountoftheprosecutionconcerningtheactsof
Castor during the incident: (1) that Neil and Castor did not grapple inside the Datsun car for
possessionofthegun(2)thatCastordidnotwrestthegunfromhim(3)thatNeildidnotenter
thecompoundtoputbulletsinthegun(4)thatCastordidnotorderNeiltoshootEugenioand(5)
thatCastorwasnotdrunkandchallengingotherstoafight.

As stated above, Castor has already discarded Neils theory of accidental shooting and,
instead,focusesondistancinghimselffromtheactofNeilinshootingEugenioRefugio.Castors
principal defense in this appeal is that the conviction of a person as a principal by inducement
requires (1) that the inducement be made with the intention of procuring the commission of the
crimeand(2)thatsuchinducementbethedeterminingcauseofthecommissionbythematerial
[19]
executor.

Castorclaimsthatthereisnoconclusiveproofthatheparticipatedintheshooting,andthat
(h)is alleged utterance of the words Sige, banatan mo na cannot be considered as the moving
causeoftheshooting.AccordingtoCastor,ifhehadwantedhissontoshootEusebioRefugio,he
wouldnothaveshoutedHuwagandstruggledforpossessionofthegun.

Wearenotpersuaded.

First of all, the theory presented by the prosecution in both the Information and in their
argumentsbeforethecourtsisnotCastorsbeingaprincipalbyinducement,butratherhisbeinga
coconspirator.Ifconspiracyisproven,theactofoneistheactofall.Asstatedabove,thewidow,
Josephine Refugio, and the neighbors Eusebio Farrales and Vilma Juadinez Rodriguez
testifiedtothefactthatCastorhandedtheguntoNeilandurgedthelattertofireattheRefugio
spouses.Thetrialcourt,whoseassessmentofthecredibilityofwitnessesdeservesgreatrespect,
since it had the important opportunity to observe firsthand the expression and demeanor of the
[20]
witnessesatthetrial, foundthesewitnessescredible,thus:

Fromitscarefulandthoroughevaluationoftherecord,theCourtfindsthatCastorandNeil
conspired in shooting Eugenio. This finding is inexorable because the testimonies of the
ProsecutionwitnessesthatCastorreturnedthegunbacktoNeilthatheinstigatedNeiltoshootby
shouting:Sige,banatanmonaandthatNeilthenfiredhisguntwicewerecredibleandsufficedto
proveCastorsindispensablecooperationinthekillingofEugenio.Accordingly,Castorwasasmuch
liablecriminallyforthedeathofEugenioasNeil,thedirectparticipantinthekilling,was.

ThereliabilityofwitnessesFarralesandRodriguez,forone,cannotbedoubted.Being the
neighborsofboththeBatinsandtheRefugios,theirclaimofwitnessingtheeventsthatculminated
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neighborsofboththeBatinsandtheRefugios,theirclaimofwitnessingtheeventsthatculminated
intotheshootingofEugeniowasunassailable.Theaccused,infact,couldnotprovideanyreasonor
[21]
motiveforthemtotestifyagainsttheBatinsunlessitwasuponthetruth.


While Castor was indeed heard to have shouted Huwag, this cannot be considered as
reliableevidencethathetriedtodissuadeNeilfromfiringthegun.Itwasestablishedbycredible
testimony that he handed back the gun to Neil and urged him to shoot the Refugio spouses.
JosephineRefugioplainlystatedoncrossexaminationthatCastorshoutedHuwagwhileinsidethe
car grappling for possession of the gun, and not when Neil was aiming the gun at the spouses.
Thus:

(Atty.SiobalCrossexamining)

QThesecondtimearoundthatyousawhimwaswhenhemovedtowardstherightrearofthecar?

AIdidnotremovemysightatNeilBatinashemovedtowardsthiscar,sir.

QAlso,withoutmovingyourglanceorgazeatNeilBatin,yousawhimproceedtotherightrear
portionofthecarandopentherightreardoorofsaidcar,isitnot?

AYes,sir.

QAnd without also removing your gaze or sight at Neil Batin, you saw him open and get a gun
insidethecar?

AIsawNeilBatinopenedtherightreardoor,asifheisputtingallhisbodyinsidethecar,when
Mang Boy took hold of Neil, they were grappling for possession of the gun, and raised it
above,andthatwasthetimewhenmyhusbandsawthegunraised,andIalsosawthegun.

Court

Sotheywerebothinsidethecar,theirarmswerebothinsidethecarandthegunwasinsidethecar
whenyouandyourhusbandsawthisparticularscene?

AYes,yourHonor.

Atty.Siobal

SoyousawCastorBatinandNeilBatingrapplingforthegunwhentheywereinsidethecar?

AYes,sir,andthenCastorBatinshoutedhuwag.

QAndatthattimetheyweregrapplingfortheguninsidethecarandCastorBatinshoutedhuwag,
afterthat,youandyourhusbandsawthegunatoptheroofofthecar,isthatwhatyouwant
toconveytotheCourt?

AThegunwasstillinsidethecar,onlywesawitthroughtheglasswindow,sir.

QAndwhathappenedafterthat?

ANeilBatingotoutofthecar,followedbyCastorBatinandthenCastorgavetheguntoNeil,and
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afterreceivingthegun,Neilplacedthegunathiswaist,sir.

QYousaidNeilBatingotoutofthecaraheadofCastorBatin,wheredidNeilBatingoorproceed,
towhatdirection?

AHeproceededtothatplacelabeledasExhibitG7,sir.

QAndyousaidCastorBatinfollowedNeilBatintotheplacewhereheproceededhereatExhibit
G7?

AYes,sir.

QOfcourse,whenNeilBatingotoutofthecarahead,hisback,hemusthaveturnedhisbackfrom
you?

AHewassidewiseinrelationtome,sir.

QHowaboutCastorBatin,whenhegotoutofthecar,hemusthaveturnedhisbackfromyou?

AYes,sir.

QAndwherewasCastorBatinfacingwhenyousaidhegavetheguntoNeilBatin?

[22]
AHewasfacingNeil,sir.


Asconcludedbythetrialcourt,thecircumstancessurroundingCastorsutteranceofHuwag!
shows beyond doubt that Castor shouted the same, not to stop Neil from firing the gun, but to
forcehimtoleavetheuseoftheguntoCastor.Thesecircumstancesonlyconfirmtheconspiracy
between the Batins in committing the crime: after the Batins grappled for the gun and Castor
shouted Huwag, Castor finally decided to give the gun to Neil a crystalclear expression of the
agreementoftheBatinsconcerningthecommissionofafelony.

Conspiracymayalsobededucedfromtheactsoftheappellantsbefore,during,andafterthe
commission of the crime which are indicative of a joint purpose, concerted action, and
[23]
concurrence of sentiments. Prosecution witnesses Josephine Refugio and Eusebio Farrales

positivelyindicatedintheirtestimoniesthatpriortotheshootingofEugenioRefugio,Castorwas
drunk, was openly challenging others to a fight, and was uttering angry words. It was at this
juncturethatwitnessessawNeilretrievehisgunfromtheparkedcar,afterwhichCastorgrabbed
thegunfromhisson,grappledwithit,returnedittohisson,andorderedthelattertoshootthe
Refugios.

Secondly, even if we pursue the theory that the defense is trying to stir us to, the results
wouldbethesame.Castorsargumentisthat(h)isallegedutteranceofthewordsSige,banatanmo
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na cannot be considered as the moving cause of the shooting and, therefore, he cannot be
consideredaprincipalbyinducement.

Inducement may be by acts of command, advice or through influence or agreement for
consideration. The words of advice or the influence must have actually moved the hands of the
principalbydirectparticipation.Wehaveheldthatwordsofcommandofafathermayinducehis
[24]
sontocommitacrime.InPeoplev.Tamayo, weheldthatthemoralinfluenceofthewordsof
thefathermaydeterminethecourseofconductofasonincasesinwhichthesamewordscoming
fromastrangerwouldmakenoimpression.

There is no doubt in our minds that Castors words were the determining cause of the
commissionofthecrime.Asstatedabove,VilmaJuadinesRodrigueztestifiedthattheeighteen
yearoldNeilBatinaskedhisfatherbeforeshooting:Tay,banatankona?NeilBatinwasclearly
seekingtheconsentofhisfatherbeforeproceedingwiththeact,anditwasCastorswordsSige,
[25]
banatanmona thatsealedEugenioRefugiosfate.

Whether treachery was specifically alleged in the
Information


There is treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against a person,
employingmeans,methods,orformsintheexecutionthereofwhichtenddirectlyandspeciallyto
ensure its execution, without risk to himself arising from the defense which the offended party
[26]
mightmake.

According to the trial court, treachery was attendant in the killing of Eugenio because
CastororderedNeiltofireatEugenioaftertheyclearlysawthathewasstillleaningagainstthe
mango tree and being restrained by Josephine who had her arms on his shoulders. Thereby, the
accusedinsuredtheirsafetyfromanydefensiveorretaliatoryactofEugeniowho,inthatposition
ofhelplessnessandunpreparedness,obviouslyhadnoopportunitytodefendhimselfortoretaliate
evenifhewantedto.Theaccusedthusconsciouslyusedthefirearmtoassaultfromadistance,all
[27]
themoretoenhancethechancesofkillingthevictimwithoutrisktothemselves.

Castor does not refute the above findings of the trial court that treachery was sufficiently
proven during the trial. All that Castor claims before us is that the qualifying circumstance of
treacherywasnotspecificallyallegedintheInformation.TheInformationfiledagainsttheBatins 11/18
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treacherywasnotspecificallyallegedintheInformation.TheInformationfiledagainsttheBatins
statesthattheaccused,conspiringtogether,confederatingwithandmutuallyhelpingeachother,
did,thenandthere,wilfully,unlawfullyandfeloniously,withintenttokill,withtreachery,taking
advantage of superior strength, and with evident premeditation, attack, assault and employ
personal violence upon the person of one EUGENIO REFUGIO y ZOSA, by then and there
shootinghimwithahandgun,hittinghimontherightsideofhisstomach,therebyinflictingupon
himseriousandmortalwoundswhichwerethedirectandimmediatecauseofhisuntimelydeath.
[28]
Castor claims that this charge does not allege the specific treacherous acts of the accused.
According to Castor, the allegation therein that the accused with treachery x x x, attack, assault
and employ personal violence is a mere conclusion of law by the one who drafted the said
Information.Hence,itdidnotsatisfythetestofsufficiencyofInformationasprovidedinSections
8and9ofRule110oftheRulesofCourt.

Sections8and9ofRule110provides:

SEC.8.Designationoftheoffense.Thecomplaintorinformationshallstatethedesignation
oftheoffensegivenbythestatute,avertheactsoromissionsconstitutingtheoffense,andspecify
its qualifying and aggravating circumstances. If there is no designation of the offense, reference
shallbemadetothesectionorsubsectionofthestatutepunishingit.

SEC. 9. Cause of the accusation.The acts or omissions complained of as constituting the
offense and the qualifying and aggravating circumstances must be stated in ordinary and concise
languageandnotnecessarilyinthelanguageusedinthestatutebutintermssufficienttoenablea
personofcommonunderstandingtoknowwhatoffenseisbeingchargedaswellasitsqualifying
andaggravatingcircumstancesandforthecourttopronouncejudgment.


[29]
Pertinently, we have held in Balitaan v. Court of First Instance of Batangas that the
mainpurposeofrequiringthevariouselementsofacrimetobesetforthinanInformationisto

enable the accused to suitably prepare his defense. He is presumed to have no independent
knowledgeofthefactsthatconstitutetheoffense.Weaddedinsaidcasethat

[I]tisoftendifficulttosaywhatisamatterofevidence,asdistinguishedfromfactsnecessarytobe
stated in order to render the information sufficiently certain to identify the offense. As a general
rule,mattersofevidence,asdistinguishedfromfactsessentialtothedescriptionoftheoffense,need
notbeaverred.Forinstance,itisnotnecessarytoshowonthefaceofaninformationforforgeryin
whatmannerapersonistobedefrauded,asthatisamatterofevidenceatthetrial.


We hold that the allegation of treachery in the Information is sufficient. Jurisprudence is
replete with cases wherein we found the allegation of treachery sufficient without any further
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explanationastothecircumstancessurroundingit.Herearesomeofthecases:

[30]
In People v. Labeo, Wilson Labeo was indicted for murder under the following
Information:

That on or about October 21, 1996, at the Barangay Hall, Poblacion, Tadian, Mountain
Province,andwithinthejurisdictionofthisHonorableCourt,theabovenamedaccusedwithintent
to kill and with the use of a sharp knife, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
attack,assault,strikeandstabSegundinaCaynowithawellhonedandpointedknifeandthereby
inflictingamortalstabwounduponthevictimasreflectedinthatmedicolegalcertificate,towit:
Stabwoundinfrascapulararealeft,penetratingwithmassivehemathorax,whichcausedthe
deathofthevictimthereafter.
That the aggravating circumstances of evident premeditation, treachery, abuse of
superiorstrengthandcraftattendedthecommissionoftheoffense.


TheaccusedinthiscasearguedthattheInformationabove,whilecaptionedasMurder,only
chargedhimwithhomicideaswritten.ThisCourtfoundnothingwrongwiththeInformation,and
ruledthattheInformationsufficientlychargedtheaccusedwithmurder,notevenconsideringthe
absenceofanexplanationofthetreacherystatedtherein,thus:

Thefactthatthequalifyingcircumstanceswererecitedinthesecondparagraphandnotin
thefirstparagraphoftheInformation,ascommonlydone,isamatterofformorstyleforwhichthe
prosecutionshouldnotbefaulted.ThattheProvincialProsecutordecidedtowritetheInformation
differentlydidnotimpairitssufficiency.Nothinginthelawprohibitstheprosecutorfromadopting
suchaformorstyle.Aslongastherequirementsofthelawareobserved,theInformationwillpass
judicialscrutiny.
xxxx
The test of sufficiency of Information is whether it enables a person of common
understandingtoknowthechargeagainsthim,andthecourttorenderjudgmentproperly.Therule
isthatqualifyingcircumstancesmustbeproperlypleadedintheInformationinordernottoviolate
theaccusedsconstitutionalrighttobeproperlyinformedofthenatureandcauseoftheaccusation
against him. The purpose is to allow the accused to fully prepare for his defense, precluding
surprisesduringthetrial.Significantly,theappellantneverclaimedthathewasdeprivedofhisright
tobefullyapprisedofthenatureofthechargesagainsthimbecauseofthestyleorformadoptedin
[31]
theInformation.


This Court went on to affirm the conviction of the accused therein with murder qualified by
treachery.

TheallegationintheInformationoftreacheryasaqualifyingcircumstancewassimilarlyassailed
[32]
inPeoplev.Opuran, whereinthechargewasasfollows:

CriminalCaseNo.4693
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ThatonoraboutNovember19,1998,atnighttime,atKm.1,SouthRoad,Municipalityof
Catbalogan, Province of Samar, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
said accused, with deliberate intent to kill and treachery, did, then and there willfully,
unlawfully, and feloniously attack, assault and stab Demetrio Patrimonio, Jr., with the use of a
bladedweapon(5longfromtiptohandlewithscabbard),therebyinflictinguponthevictimfatal
stabwoundsonthebackofhisbody,whichwoundsresultedtohisinstantaneousdeath.

Allcontrarytolaw,andwithattendantqualifyingcircumstanceoftreachery.


ThisCourtagainrejectedtheargumentofthedefensebyfindingtheallegationoftreachery
sufficient,andlateronfindingtheaccusedthereinguiltyofmurderqualifiedbytreachery:

Wedonotfindmeritinappellantscontentionthathecannotbeconvictedofmurderforthe
death of Demetrio, Jr. because treachery was not alleged with specificity as a qualifying
circumstanceintheinformation.Suchcontentionisbeliedbytheinformationitself,whichalleged:
Allcontrarytolaw,andwiththeattendantqualifyingcircumstanceoftreachery.Inanyevent,even
aftertherecentamendmentstotheRulesofCriminalProcedure,qualifyingcircumstancesneednot
beprecededbydescriptivewordssuchasqualifyingorqualifiedbytoproperlyqualifyanoffense.
[33]


[34]
Finally,thefollowingconstitutestheInformationinPeoplev.Bajar :

Thatonoraboutthe16thdayofAugust1999,atabout8:00oclockintheevening,atsitio
Mohon, Barangay Mambayaan, Municipality of Balingasag, Province of Misamis Oriental,
RepublicofthePhilippines,andwithinthejurisdictionofthisHonorableCourt,theabovenamed
accused, then armed with a sharp bolo, with intent to kill, and with evident premeditation, and
treachery, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously stab one 85 year old Aquilio
Tiwanak, accuseds fatherinlaw, hitting him on the different parts of his body, which caused his
instantaneousdeath,tothedamageandprejudiceoftheheirsofAquilioTiwanakinsuchamounts
asmaybeallowedbylaw.

Theaggravatingcircumstancesofdwelling,takingadvantageofsuperiorstrength,disregard
oftherespectduethevictimonaccountofhisage,habitualintoxicationandrelationshipattended
thecommissionofthecrime.

CONTRARYtoArticle248oftheRevisedPenalCode,inrelation[to]Article14,paragraph
3and15,andArticle15oftheRevisedPenalCode.

Likeintheprevioustwocases,thisCourtfoundtheInformationtohavesufficientlyalleged
treachery as a qualifying circumstance. Evidentiary facts need not be alleged in the information
becausethesearemattersofdefense.Informationsneedonlystatetheultimatefactsthereasons
[35]
thereforcouldbeprovedduringthetrial.

Whetherthecivilliabilitiesoftheaccusedwerecorrectly
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Whetherthecivilliabilitiesoftheaccusedwerecorrectly
awardedbythelowercourts


The trial court ordered the accused, Neil and Castor Batin, to pay the heirs of Eugenio
Refugiointhefollowingamounts:

1)P50,000.00,asdeathindemnity

2)P61,500.00,asactualdamages

3)P500,000.00,asmoraldamages

4)P307,920.00,asindemnityforlossofearningcapacityand

[36]
5)thecostsofsuit.


Jurisprudencepegsthedeathindemnityintheaboveamount(P50,000.00)pursuanttothe
current judicial policy on the matter. No proof thereof is required. The P61,500.00 in actual
damages consists of the expenses incurred by the family of Eugenio Refugio, which Josephine
[37]
RefugiotestifiedtoandwassummarizedinExhibitH: (1)P25,000.00formedicines,surgery
[38]
and other expenses for the hospitalization and emergency treatment (2) P20,000.00 for
funeralexpenses,inclusiveofthecostsofcoffin,funeralservices,andexpensesduringthewake
[39]
and(3)P6,500.00asforburialexpenses.

TheCourtofAppealsalsomodifiedthetrialcourtscomputationoftheindemnityforlossof
earningcapacity.The trial court, finding the work of Eugenio Refugio to be hazardous, reduced
hislifeexpectancyto20years.

[40]
This modification is in accord with our ruling in Pleyto v. Lomboy. Pleyto offers the
followingcomputationfortheawardforlossofearningcapacity:

NetEarning=2/3x(80Ageatx(GrossAnnual
Capacitytimeofdeath)IncomeReasonable
&NecessaryLiving
Expenses)


Eugenio Refugio, who was 31 years old at the time of his death, had a daily income of 15/18
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Eugenio Refugio, who was 31 years old at the time of his death, had a daily income of
P145.00. The Court of Appeals multiplied this amount by 26 working days to get Eugenio
RefugiosmonthlyincomeofP3,770.00.TheCourtofAppealsthusappliedthePleytoformulaas
follows:

NetEarning=2/3x(8031)x[(P3770x12)(P3770x12)]
Capacity
NetEarning=2/3x(49)x[(P45,240)(P22,620)]
Capacity

NetEarning=32x[P22,620]
Capacity

[41]
NetEarning=P723,840
Capacity

Lastly, the Court of Appeals found the award of P500,000.00 as moral damages to be
excessive,andinsteadfixedtheamountatP100,000.00.Inaccordwithprevailingjurisprudence,
[42]
however,wefurtherreducethisamounttoP50,000.00.
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals affirming with modification the
conviction of accusedappellant Castor Batin for murder is AFFIRMED with FURTHER
MODIFICATION as to the amount of the moral damages, which is hereby reduced to
P50,000.00.

SOORDERED.



MINITAV.CHICONAZARIO
AssociateJustice



WECONCUR:


CONSUELOYNARESSANTIAGO
ActingChiefJustice
Chairperson



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6/12/2017 G.R.No.177223

MA.ALICIAAUSTRIAMARTINEZRENATOC.CORONA
AssociateJusticeAssociateJustice


ANTONIOEDUARDOB.NACHURA
AssociateJustice




CERTIFICATION

PursuanttoSection13,ArticleVIIIoftheConstitution,andtheDivisionChairpersonsAttestation,
it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation
beforethecasewasassignedtothewriteroftheopinionoftheCourtsDivision.



CONSUELOYNARESSANTIAGO
ActingChiefJustice

[1]
PennedbyAssociateJusticeArcangelitaM.RomillaLontokwiththenPresidingJusticeRubenT.Reyes(nowAssociateJusticeof
thisCourt)andAssociateJusticeMarianoC.delCastillo,concurring.Rollo,pp.1420.
[2]
CArollo,pp.910.
[3]
Id.at3538.
[4]
Records,p.227.
[5]
Id.at231.

[6]
Id.at275.
[7]
Id.at277.
[8]
Id.
[9]
Id.
[10]
Id.
[11]
CArollo,pp.3941.
[12]
Records,p.15.
[13]
Id.
[14]
Id.at5455.
[15]
Id.at276.
[16]
Rollo,pp.2526.
[17]
CArollo,p.44.
[18]
Peoplev.Paredes,332Phil.633,638639(1996).
[19]
Peoplev.KiichiOmine,61Phil.609,613614(1935).
[20]
Peoplev.Arcilla,326Phil.774,788(1996)Peoplev.Vias,Sr.,315Phil.491,497498(1995).
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[20]
Peoplev.Arcilla,326Phil.774,788(1996)Peoplev.Vias,Sr.,315Phil.491,497498(1995).
[21]
CArollo,p.45.
[22]
TSN,4August1995,pp.15,1729.
[23]
Peoplev.Constantino, 327 Phil. 278, 294 (1996) People v. DeLeon,315Phil.584,594(1995)People v. Bayrante, G.R. No.
92508,4August1994,235SCRA19,29.
[24]
44Phil.38,57(1922),citedinLuisB.Reyes,RevisedPenalCode:CriminalLaw(1993ed.),Vol.I,p.524.
[25]
JosephineRefugiotestifiedthatsheheardCastorsay,Sige,banatanmona.VilmaJuadinesRodrigueztestifiedthatthewordswere,
Sige,anak,banatanmona.
[26]
Article14(16),RevisedPenalCode.
[27]
Rollo,p.50.
[28]
Id.at10.
[29]
G.R.No.L38544,30July1982,115SCRA729,740.
[30]
424Phil.482,489(2002).
[31]
Id.at495497.
[32]
G.R.Nos.14767475,17March2004,425SCRA654,659.
[33]
Id.at672.
[34]
460Phil.683,688(2003).
[35]
Socratesv.Sandiganbayan, 324Phil.151,172(1996)Gallegov.Sandiganbayan,G.R.No.L57841,30July1982,115SCRA
793,797.
[36]
CArollo,pp.5455.
[37]
Records,p.233.
[38]
Id.at236255.
[39]
Id.at234.
[40]
G.R.No.148737,16June2004,432SCRA329,341.
[41]
Rollo,p.19.

[42]
Pleytov.Lomboy,supranote40at342.

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