You are on page 1of 1

PEOPLE v.

BERONILLA
G.R. No. L-4445 February 28, 1955
REYES, J.B.L., J
DOCTRINE:
Lawful order of superior- where the accused acted upon orders of superior officers that they, as military subordinates, could not
question, and obeyed in good faith, without being aware of their illegality, without any fault or negligence on their part, the act is not
accompanied by criminal intent.

CASE SUMMARY:
Beronilla et al. were convicted of murder for the execution of Arsenio Borjal in Abra pursuant to the memorandum issued to all Military
Mayors in Northern Luzon, authorizing them to try persons accused of treason, espionage, or the aiding and abetting of the enemy.

FACTS:
Beronilla was appointed Military Mayor of La Paz by Lt. Col. R. H. Arnold, operating as a guerrilla unit in the province of Abra
In a memorandum issued by Lt. Col. Arnold, it authorized them to appoint a jury of 12 bolomen to investigate persons
accused of treason, espionage, or aiding and abetting of the enemy. The list of those persons included elected mayor of La
Paz, Arsenio Borjal
Beronilla, pursuant to his instructions, placed Borjal under custody and asked the residents of La Paz to file complaints
against him. Charges of espionage, aiding the enemy, and abuse of authority were led against Borjal. The jury found Borjal
guilty and imposed upon him, death penalty.
A radiogram from Col. Volckmann, overall commander, to Lt. Col. Arnold, called the attention to the illegality of Borjals
conviction and sentence which was unknown to Beronilla
Accused Manuel Beronilla, Policarpo Paculdo, Filipino Velasco, and Jacinto Adriatico were convicted of murder for allegedly
conspiring the execution of Borjal
The late President Manuel Roxas issued Executive Proclamation No. 8, granting amnesty to all persons who committed acts
penalized under RPC anent the resistance to the enemy against persons aiding in the war efforts of the enemy resulting the
dismissal of some bolomen involved in the jury but still convicting Beronilla, Paculdo, Velasco, and Adriatico because the
crime was committed after the expiration of the time limit fixed by the amnesty proclamation, hence this appeal.

ISSUE: W/N Beronilla et als actions are covered by justifying circumstances for obedience to lawful order of superior

HELD/ RATIO: YES

Lt. Col. Arnold, failed to transmit the Volckmann message to Beronilla. And this being so, the charge of criminal conspiracy to
do away with Borjal must be rejected, because the accused had no need to conspire against a man who was, to their
knowledge, duly sentenced to death.
The conduct of the appellants does not dispose that these appellants were impelled by malice (dolo). The arrest and trial of
Borjal were made upon express orders of the higher command; the appellants allowed Borjal to be defended by counsel
after finding that the late Arsenio Borjal had really committed treasonable acts, (causing soldiers and civilians to be tortured,
and hidden American officers to be captured by the Japanese) expressly declared that "the Court is convinced that it was not
for political or personal reason that the accused decided to kill Arsenio Borjal"
Appearing that the charge is the heinous crime of murder, and that the accused-appellants acted upon orders, of a superior
officers that they, as military subordinates, could not question, and obeyed in good faith, without being aware of their
illegality, without any fault or negligence on their part, we cannot say that criminal intent has been established
To constitute a crime, the act must, except in certain crimes made such by statute, be accompanied by a criminal intent, or
by such negligence or indifference to duty or to consequences, as, in law, is equivalent to criminal intent. The maxim is, actus
non facit reum, nisi mens rea-a is not committed if the mind of the person performing the act complained of be innocent."

SC DECISION: Judgement appealed from is reversed and the appellants are acquitted