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Date: FEBRUARY 23, 2004

Ponente: PUNO, J.

People of the Philippines, Appellee Renato Torrecampo, Rene Torrecampo, Appellants


Appellants Renato and Rene Torrecampo (brothers) were charged before the Regional Trial Court with mur-
der for the killing of one Jovito Gaspillo.

The information alleged: That on or about the 11th day of November 1994, in the Municipality of Las Piñas,
Metro Manila, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused,
conspiring and confederating with one, NORA TORRECAMPO Y LEYTE whose present whereabouts still
unknown and all of them mutually helping and aiding one another, with intent to kill, taking advantage of
superior strength and/or with evident premeditation did, then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
attack, assault, stab in the different part(s) of his body and even cut off his head with a bladed weapon, one
JOVITO GASPILLO, thereby inflicting upon him serious and mortal wounds, which directly caused the death

On the basis of circumstantial evidence, the trial court found Renato and Rene Torrecampo guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of murder and sentenced them to death.

Appellants contend that the decision of the trial court is not supported and contrary to the evidence adduced
during trial.


I. Whether or not the trial court erred in holding the appellants guilty of murder - YES

The Information alleged the circumstances of “taking advantage of superior strength and/or evident premed-
itation,” and charged the crime of murder. The circumstances that qualify the killing to murder must be proved
indubitably as the killing itself. The prosecution failed to prove these circumstances.

Abuse of superior strength is present whenever there is inequality of forces between the victim and the ag-
gressor. This assumes a situation of superiority of strength notoriously advantageous for the aggressor and
selected or taken advantage of by him in the commission of the crime. The evidence does not show that
appellants took advantage of their number in order to overpower the victim. The evidence against appellants
is merely circumstantial.

Nor was evident premeditation proved. There is no proof in the instant case of (a) the time when appellants
determined to commit the crime; (b) an overt act manifestly indicating that they clung to their determination
to commit the crime; and, (c) the lapse of sufficient period of time between the determination and the execution
of the crime, to allow appellants to reflect upon the consequences of their act. Hence, this circumstance
cannot likewise be appreciated.

The Solicitor General submits that treachery should be appreciated against the appellants as Jovito was
asleep when killed. He contends that while treachery was not alleged in the Information, it could be
appreciated as a generic aggravating circumstance. We do not agree. Erlinda testified that Jovito was
asleep prior to the arrival of appellants but she did not say that he was still sleeping when the attack com-
menced. Even assuming that treachery was proved, it could not be considered a generic aggravating
circumstance. Sections 8 and 9 [of Rule 110] of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure provide:

Sec. 8. Designation of the Offense. — The complaint or information shall state the designation of the
offense given by the statute, aver the acts or omissions constituting the offense, and specify its qualify-
ing and aggravating circumstances. If there is no designation of the offense, reference shall be made to
the section or subsection of the statute punishing it.

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 language and not
necessarily in the language used in the statute but in terms sufficient to enable a person of common un-
derstanding to know what offense is being charged as well as its qualifying and aggravating circum-
stances and for the court to pronounce judgment.

Clearly, under the aforesaid provisions, aggravating circumstances, whether qualifying or generic, must be
alleged in the information before they can be considered by the court. These new provisions apply even if the
crime was committed prior to their effectivity since they are favorable to the accused, as in this case.

Prescinding from these premises, appellants can only be convicted of the crime of homicide. The
penalty for homicide under Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code is reclusion temporal. Corollarily, Article 64
(1) provides that when there are neither aggravating nor mitigating circumstances, the penalty prescribed by
law shall be imposed in its medium period. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the maximum penalty
to be imposed on appellants should be taken from the medium period of reclusion temporal, the range of
which is fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months and one (1) day to seventeen (17) years and four (4) months,
while the minimum shall be taken from the penalty next lower in degree which is prision mayor, the range of
which is six (6) years and one (1) day to twelve (12) years, in any of its periods.

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Decision of the trial court finding appellants RENATO and RENE TORRECAMPO
guilty of murder and imposing upon them the penalty of death is MODIFIED; they are instead found guilty
of homicide under Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code and each sentenced to suffer an indetermi-
nate prison term of twelve (12) years of prision mayor maximum, as minimum, to fourteen (14) years, eight
(8) months and one (1) day of reclusion temporal medium, as maximum, and to pay the heirs of Jovito
Caspillo P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral damages, P25,000.00 as temperate damages,
and to pay the costs.