You are on page 1of 77

Republic of the Philippines with evident premeditation and by means of treachery, did,

SUPREME COURT then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously


Manila attackand assault and employ personal violence upon the
person of one GERARDO NAVAL by then and there stabbing the
THIRD DIVISION latter with a sharp bladed weapon hitting him at the left
back portion of his body, thereby inflicting upon said
G.R. No. 181843 July 14, 2014 offended party physical injuries which are necessarily
fatal and mortal, thus performing all the acts of execution
MIGUEL CIRERA y USTELO, Petitioner, which would have produced the crime of Murder as a
vs. consequence but which nevertheless did not produce it by
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. reason of causes independent of the will of the
perpetrator, that is, by the timely and able medical
D E C I S I O N attendance rendered to said GERARDO NAVAL which save his
life, to the damage and prejudice of the said offended
LEONEN, J.: party.6

Treachery as a qualifying circumstance must be deliberately Criminal Case No. Q-00-91842


sought to ensure the safety of the accused from the
defensive acts of the victim. Unexpectedness of the attack That on or about the 20 th day of April 2000, in Quezon
does not always equate to treachery. City, Philippines, the said accused, with intent to kill,
with evident premeditation and by means of treachery, did,
We are asked to decide on a petition for review on then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously
certiorari of the Court of Appeals' decision dated November attackand assault and employ personal violence upon the
20, 2007 and the Court of Appeals’ resolution dated person of one ROMEO AUSTRIA by then and there stabbing the
February 18, 2008. The Court of Appeals affirmed the latter with a sharp bladed weapon hitting him at the left
Regional Trial Court’s decision dated July 2, 2004 that back portion of his body, thereby inflicting upon said
found petitioner guilty of two (2) counts of frustrated offended party physical injuries which are necessarily
murder and sentenced him to suffer the indeterminate fatal and mortal, thus performing all the acts of execution
penalty of imprisonment of six (6) years and one (1) day which would have produced the crime of Murder as a
of prision mayoras minimum to 17 years and four (4) months consequence but which nevertheless did not produce it by
of reclusion temporalas maximum for each count.5 reason of causes independent of the will of the
perpetrator, that is, by the timely and able medical
This case arose out of two (2) informations for frustrated attendance rendered to said ROMEO AUSTRIA which save his
murder filed against petitioner: life, to the damage and prejudice of the said offended
party.7
Criminal Case No. Q-00-91821
Upon arraignment, petitioner pleadednot guilty to the
That on or about the 20th day of April 2000, in Quezon offenses charged against him.8
City, Philippines, the said accused, with intent to kill,
The prosecution presented private complainants Gerardo testified that "continuous blood loss"36 could have caused
Naval and Romeo Austria as witnesses.9 It also presented Naval’s death.37
Dr. Raisa D. Francisco, Carlos Angeles, and Arnold Angeles
as witnesses.10 Petitioner testified for the defense.11 Facts according to the defense

Facts according to the prosecution Miguel testified that he saw private complainants at a
wake.38 Naval tapped his back and asked, "Anong problema
Romeo Austria testified that at around 8:30 a.m. on April mo?" to which he answered, "Wala naman."39 Thereafter,
20, 2000, he was playing a lucky nine game ata wake on Naval punched Miguel.40 As he was about to stand up, he was
Araneta Avenue, Quezon City.12 Miguel arrived, asking money hit by a hard objecton his head, causing him to lose
from Austria so he could buy liquor.13 In response, Austria consciousness.41 He was brought to UERM Memorial Hospital
asked Miguel "to keep quiet."14 Gerardo Naval "arrived and where Naval identified him.42 He was then brought to Station
asked [Austria] to go home."15 There was an exchange of 11 in Galas, Quezon City.43 Miguel also testified that only
words between Naval and Miguel.16 Austria "stood up [and] Naval identified him at the hospital.44
felt that he was stabbed."17 As he ran home, he
noticedMiguel "armed with a knife,"18 this time chasing The parties stipulated that Dr. Renan Acosta, supposedly
Naval.19 Austria was "hospitalized . . . and was . . . the second defense witness, conducted Miguel’s
confined for more than a month."20 He spent around examination.45 He issued a temporary medical certificate
₱110,000.00 for his hospitalization.21 On cross- and a separate permanent medical certificate.46
examination, Austria testified that he saw Miguel attempt
to stab him again.22 Regional Trial Court

Gerardo Naval testified that Miguel was irked when he asked In its decision, the Regional Trial Court found petitioner
Austria to go home.23 After he and Miguel had an exchange guilty beyond reasonable doubt of two (2) counts of
of words, he "felt a hard blow on his back."24 Naval frustrated murder.47 He was sentenced to suffer the
retaliated.25 However, he ran away when he saw Miguel indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of six (6) years and
holding a knife.26 Miguel chased Naval who fell on the one (1) day of prision mayoras minimum, to 17 years and
ground.27 When Naval saw that Miguel was "about to stab him four (4) months of reclusion temporalas maximum for each
again, he hit [Miguel] with a bench"28 and left him lying count.48 Petitioner was ordered to indemnify Austria
on the ground, unable to stand.29 According to Naval, "he ₱25,000.00 as moral damages and ₱100,000.00 as actual
did not see the [knife] land on his back."30 Naval was also damages; and Naval ₱25,000.00 asmoral damages and
confined at the hospital but only for six (6) days.31 ₱10,000.00 as temperate or moderate damages.49

Dr. Carlos Angeles testified that "he treated [Austria] Petitioner was also ordered to pay the costs of suit.50 The
for [the] stab wound at [his] back."32 He declared that dispositive portion of the Regional
Austria could have died without an emergency
operation. According
33 to him, "a long and sharp Trial Court decision reads:
instrument, probably a knife,"34 could have been used to
stab the victim.35 Dr. Arnold Angeles, Naval’s doctor,
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered execution of an act without risk from the offended party’s
as follows: defense.56

1. Re: Criminal Case No. 00-91841-finding accused MIGUEL Petitioner appealed57 the Regional Trial Court’s July 2,
CIRERA y USTELO guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime 2004 decision to the Court of Appeals, raising as issue
of Frustrated Murder hereby sentencing him to suffer the the credibility of the prosecution’s witnesses and, hence,
indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of Six (6) years and the correctness of his conviction.58
one (1) day of Prision Mayor as MINIMUM to Seventeen
(17)Years and Four (4) months of Reclusion Temporal as Court of Appeals
MAXIMUM and to indemnify private complainant Gerardo Naval
in the amount of Twenty Five Thousand (₱25,000.00) Pesos In a decision59 promulgated on November 20, 2007, the Court
as and by way of morals [sic] damages and in the absence of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court.
of evidence, the amount of Ten Thousand (₱10,000.00) Pesos
as and by way [of] Temperate or moderate damages; The Court of Appeals was not persuaded by petitioner’s
arguments pointing to alleged inconsistencies inthe
2. Re: Criminal Case NO. 00-91841-finding accused MIGUEL prosecution witnesses’ narratives. It found that the
CIRERA y USTELO guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime inconsistency between Naval’s testimony and his sworn
of Frustrated Murder, hereby sentencing him to suffer the affidavit on the number of times petitioner was hit might
indeterminate penalty [of] Six (6) years and one (1) day be attributed to the fact that "the statement was taken .
of Prision Mayor as MINIMUM to Seventeen (17)years and four . . while he was [still at] the hospital [unable] to fully
(4) months of Reclusion Temporal as MAXIMUM and to understand its contents".60 The Court of Appeals was not
indemnify private complainant Romeo Austria in the amount persuaded either by petitioner’s argument that Austria and
of Twenty Five Thousand (₱25,000.00) Pesos as and by way Naval failed to testify that they saw him stab them.61 The
of moral damages and the amount of One Hundred Thousand Court of Appeals held that "no other person could have
(₱100,000.00) Pesos as actual damages. committed the crime"62 as "all the circumstances point to
[petitioner] as the author of the crime."63
3. To pay the cost of suit.51 (Emphasis in the original)
The Court of Appeals affirmed the finding of the trial
The Regional Trial Court found thatpetitioner caused the court that there was treachery in this case because"the
stab wounds of private complainants.52 Naval and Austria attack was so sudden and unexpected"64 that "self-defense
were able to positively identify him and describe how they was not possible."65
obtained their injuries.53
Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration was denied in the
Petitioner’s acts were not attended by evident Court of Appeals’ resolution66 promulgated on February 18,
premeditation as ruled by the trial court.54 However, there 2008.
was treachery on petitioner’s end, considering the length
of time it took private complainants to realize that they Petitioner, in this case, raises the following issue:
were stabbed.55 This, according to the Regional Trial
Court, was a method or form that tended to insure the
WHETHER THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN DISMISSING behind unconscious,"81 private complainants were not left
THE APPEAL WHICH IN EFFECT, AFFIRMS THE JUDGMENT OF without "opportunity to retaliate."82
CONVICTION RENDERED BY THE TRIAL COURT, DESPITE THE PATENT
LACK OF EVIDENCE AGAINST THE PETITIONER AND FOR THE FAILURE Respondent counters that the "trial court’s observations
OF THE PROSECUTION TO PROVE THE PETITIONER’S GUILT BEYOND and conclusions deserve great respect and are often
REASONABLE DOUBT.67 accorded finality, unless there appears in the recordsome
fact or circumstance of weight which the lower court may
Petitioner argues that the Court of Appeals failed to have overlooked, misunderstood or misappreciated and which
consider the inconsistencies in Austria’s and Naval’s . . . would alter the result of the case."83
statements.68 Austria’s statement that only Naval and
petitioner were standing behind him was inconsistent with Private complainants point out that the circumstances of
Austria’s other statement that "petitioner was on his left the case show treachery since they were attacked from
side, while [Naval] was on his right side."69 behind.84 Further, they claim that there was no warning that
they were in danger when they were stabbed.85
Petitioner also stresses that Austria’s claim that Naval
and petitioner "were still having an altercation when he The petition should be partly granted. Treachery did not
suddenly felt a stab blow at his back"70 was inconsistent exist and, hence, petitioner may only be convicted of two
with Naval’s alleged failure to mention "that he had an counts of frustrated homicide.
altercation with the petitioner before the stabbing
incident."71 Petitioner claims that it was not possible for I
him to have stabbed Austria without Naval noticing since
he was having a heatedexchange of words with Naval.72 Nonetheless, we affirm the findingthat the prosecution’s
witnesses were credible.
Petitioner insists that the claim that "petitioner was
armed with a knife"73 was not proven since "the knife was Petitioner points to alleged inconsistencies that pertain
not recovered."74 Petitioner was left immobile, yet "nobody only to collateral and inconsequential matters. He directs
bothered to retrieve the knife"75 he supposedly used in this court’s attention to inconsistent statements regarding
committing the crimes charged against him.76 Petitioner the positions of private complainants at the time of the
also points out that other players in the lucky nine game incident.86 He also points to the alleged impossibility of
might have gotten mad at private complainants when Naval him committing the offense without being noticed by
allegedly asked Austria to go home for a drinking spree.77 Naval87and to the alleged failure to recover the knife used
in stabbing private complainants.88
Petitioner also argues that there was no treachery.78 Even
assuming that an assault was sudden and unexpected, there These alleged inconsistencies do not affect the credibility
must be "evidence that [the] mode of assault was of the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, specially
consciously and deliberately adopted to [e]nsure the with respect to the "principal occurrence and positive
execution of the crime without risk to the identification"89 of petitioner. Slight inconsistencies in
[petitioner.]"79 Given "private complainants’ superiority the testimony even strengthen credibility as they show that
in number"80 and considering that petitioner "was left the "testimony [was] not rehearsed."90 What is important is
that there is consistency as to the occurrence and identity means of motor vehicles, or with the use of any other means
of the perpetrator.91 involving great waste and ruin.

Further, the alleged failure to retrieve the knife supposed 4. On occasion of any of the calamities enumerated in the
to have been used in perpetrating the offense does not preceding paragraph, or of an earthquake, eruption of a
destroy the credibility of the testimonies.92 The crime is volcano, destructive cyclone, epidemic, or any other public
proved not by presenting the object but by establishing calamity. 5. With evident premeditation.
the existence of the elements of the crime as written in
law.93 6. With cruelty, by deliberately and inhumanly augmenting
the suffering of the victim, or outraging or scoffing at
II his person or corpse.

Petitioner was charged and convicted by the trial court If these qualifying circumstances are not present or cannot
and the Court of Appeals with two counts of frustrated be proven beyond reasonable doubt, the accused may only be
murder. convicted with homicide, defined in Article 249 of the
Revised Penal Code:
Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code provides that murder
is committed by a person who kills, under certain Art. 249. Homicide. – Any person who, not falling within
circumstances, another person that is not his or her the provisions of Article 246, shall kill another
father, mother, child, ascendant, descendant, or spouse. withoutthe attendance of any of the circumstances
It provides: enumerated in the next preceding article, shall be deemed
guilty of homicide and be punished by reclusión temporal.
ARTICLE 248. Murder. — Any person who, not falling within
the provisions of Article 246 shall kill another, shall be In murder or homicide, the offender must have the intent
guilty of murder and shall be punished by reclusión to kill. If there is no intent to kill on the part ofthe
temporalin its maximum period to death, if committed with offender, he or she is liable only for physical injuries.94
any of the following attendant circumstances:
"[I]ntent to kill . . . must beproved by clear and
1. With treachery, taking advantage ofsuperior strength, convincing evidence."95 "[It] should not be drawn inthe
with the aid of armed men, or employing means to weaken absence of circumstances sufficient to prove such intent
the defense or of means or persons to insure or afford beyond reasonable doubt."96
impunity.
In Escamilla v. People,97 we said that "[t]he evidence to
2. In consideration of a price, reward or promise. prove intent to kill may consist of, inter alia, the means
used; the nature, location and number of wounds sustained
3. By means of inundation, fire, poison, explosion, by the victim; and the conduct of the malefactors before,
shipwreck, stranding of a vessel, derailment or assault at the time of, orimmediately after the killing of the
upon a street car or locomotive, fall of an airship, by victim."98
The act of killing becomes frustrated when an offender (b) The facts from which the inferences are derived are
"perform[s] all the acts of execution which [c]ould produce proven; and
the [crime]"99 but did not produce it for reasons
independent of his or her will. (c) The combination of all the circumstances is such as to
produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt.
In convicting petitioner offrustrated murder, the trial
court and the Court of Appeals found that petitioner This court iterated this rule in Trinidad v. People:105
intentionally tried to kill private complainants. He was
the author ofthe stab wounds obtained by private The settled rule is that a judgment of conviction based
complainants. However, for reasons independent of his will, purely on circumstantial evidence can be upheld only if
he was unable to fully execute the crime. the following requisites concur: (1) there is more than
one circumstance; (2) the facts from which the inferences
This court held that "findings of facts and assessment of are derived are proven; and (3) the combination of all the
credibility of witnesses are matters best left to the trial circumstance is such as to produce conviction beyond
court,"100 which is in the best position to observe the reasonable doubt.106
witnesses’ demeanor while being examined in court.101 This
court gives more weight tosuch findings if affirmed by the In this case, the following facts were considered:
Court of Appeals.102 The exception to the ruleis when the
trial court misconstrued facts which if properly 1) Petitioner was identified by private complainants to be
appreciated could alter the outcome of the case. 103
at the scene of the crime;107

We find that there is nothing in the circumstances of this 2) Private complainants were able todescribe how they
case that warrants the application of the exception, with obtained their injuries;108
respect to the findings that: 1) there was intent to kill;
2) petitioner was the willful author of the stab wounds, 3) Petitioner was seen holding the knife at the scene of
which almost killed private complainants; and that 3) the crime;109
petitioner’s failure to kill private complainants was a
result of circumstances independent of his will. 4) Only three persons were involved in the incident —
Circumstantial evidence was used to identify the private complainants and petitioner;110
perpetrator in this case.104
5) Petitioner "was standing very close to the private
Rule 133, Section 4 of the Rules ofCourt provides that a complainants";111
person may be convicted based on circumstantial evidence
if the requisites are present. It provides: 6) Petitioner was the only one who had an altercation with
private complainants,112 and petitioner was seen chasing and
Section 4. Circumstantial evidence, when sufficient.— about to stab at least one of the private complainants;113
Circumstantial evidence is sufficient for conviction if:
7) Private complainants sustained stab wounds;114
(a) There is more than one circumstance;
8) The stab wounds sustained by private complainants would III
have been fatal had it not been given appropriate medical
attention.115 However, treachery, as a qualifying circumstance to sustain
a conviction of frustrated murder rather than frustrated
The combination of these circumstances "constitute[s] an homicide, was not proven by the prosecution.
unbroken chain which leads to one fair and reasonable
conclusion pointing to the [petitioner], to the exclusion Article 14(16) of the Revised Penal Code defines treachery:
of all others, as the guilty person."116
ARTICLE 14. Aggravating Circumstances. — The following are
The version offered by petitioner that it was he who was aggravating circumstances:
punched and hit with a hard object117 is not inconsistent
with the facts as stated by private complainants. It may . . . .
even be true. However, it does not remove such reasonable
conclusion that he was the author of the acts complained 16. That the act be committed with treachery (alevosia).
about in this case.
There is treachery when the offender commits any of the
Petitioner’s intent to kill is evident from his attempt to crimes against the person, employing means, methods, or
stab private complainants more than once.118 Petitioner forms in the execution thereof, which tend directly and
chased private complainants after they had tried to flee specially to insure its execution, without risk to himself
from him.119 The wounds inflicted by petitioner were also arising from the defense which the offended party might
shown to have been fatal if no medical attention had been make.123
given to private complainants immediately after the
incident.120 The requisites of treachery are:

Petitioner’s acts did not result in private complainants’ (1) [T]he employment of means,method, or manner of
deaths despite petitioner having already performed all acts execution which will ensure the safety of the malefactor
of execution of the crime. However, this was not due to from defensive or retaliating acts on the part of the
his desistance but due to the timely medical attention victim, no opportunity being given to the latter to defend
given to private complainants.121 himself or to retaliate;124 and

Meanwhile, Dr. Carlos Angeles’ and Dr. Arnold Angeles’ (2) [D]eliberate or conscious adoption of such means,
testimonies that private complainants would have died had method, or manner of execution.125
no immediate medical attention been given to them,122 showed
that petitioner’s failure to kill private complainants was A finding of the existence of treachery should be based on
due toacts independent of his will. "clear and convincing evidence."126 Such evidence must be
as conclusive as the fact of killing itself.127 Its
Based on the foregoing, we do not find reason to disturb existence "cannot be presumed."128 As with the finding of
the trial court’s and the Court of Appeals’ findings. guilt of the accused, "[a]ny doubt as to [its] existence .
. . [should] be resolved in favor of the accused."129
The unexpectedness of an attack cannotbe the sole basis of may not have succeeded. However, in this case, the ability
a finding of treachery130 even if the attack was intended of the offended parties to have avoided greater harm by
to kill another as long as the victim’s position was merely running away or by being able to subdue the accused is a
accidental.131 The means adopted must have been a result of strongindicator that no treachery exists.
a determination to ensure success in committing the crime.
It is, therefore, an error for both the trial and appellate
In this case, no evidence was presented to show that courts not to have considered the evidence that the
petitioner consciously adopted or reflected on the means, offended parties were able to flee and retaliate. Upon
method, or form of attack to secure his unfair advantage. proof of evasion and retaliation, courts must evaluate the
evidence further to ensure whether there can be reasonable
The attack might "have been done on impulse [or] as a doubt for this qualifying circumstance to exist. This is
reaction to an actual or imagined provocation offered by only in keeping with the presumption of innocence of the
the victim."132 In this case, petitioner was not only accused.
dismissed by Austria when he approached him for money.
There was also an altercation between him and Naval. The Thus, in the absence of clear proof of the existence of
provocation might have been enough to entice petitioner to treachery, the crime proven beyond reasonable doubt isonly
action and attack private complainants. frustrated homicide and, correspondingly, the penalty
should be reduced.134
Therefore, the manner of attack might not have been
motivated by a determination to ensure success in IV
committing the crime. What was more likely the case, based
on private complainants’ testimonies, was that petitioner’s Article 250 of the Revised Penal Code provides that a
action was an impulsive reaction to being dismissed by penalty lower by one degree than that which should be
Austria, his altercation with Naval, and Naval’s attempt imposed for homicide may be imposed upon a person guilty
to summon Austria home. of frustrated homicide.

Generally, this type of provocation negates the existence The imposable penalty for homicide is reclusion temporal.
of treachery.133 This is the type of provocation that does Article 50 of the Revised Penal Code provides that the
not lend itself to premeditation. The provocation in penalty to be imposed upon principals of a frustrated crime
thiscase is of the kind which triggers impulsive reactions shall be the penalty next lower in degree than that
left unchecked by the accused and caused him to commit the prescribed by law for the consummated crimes. The penalty
crime. There was no evidence of a modicum ofpremeditation next lower in degree is prision mayor.
indicating the possibility of choice and planning
fundamental to achieve the elements of treachery. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the penalty to be
imposed must have a maximum term which canbe properly
The ability of the offended parties toretaliate and protect imposed under the rules considering the attending
themselves may not by itself negate the existence of circumstances.135 Since there is no attending circumstance
treachery. The efforts of the accused to employ means and in this case, the penalty of prision mayor in its medium
method to ensure his safety and freedom from retaliation term or eight (8) years and one (1) day asmaximum should
beimposed. The minimum sentence should be within the range
of the penalty next lower to that prescribed by the Revised
Penal Code.136 A penalty of one (1) year and one (1) day as
minimum, prision correccional should, therefore, be proper.

Furthermore, petitioner’s civil liabilitymust be modified.


The award of actual damages to Romeo Austria should be
88,028.77 since this is the only amount supported by
receipts on record. This is in line with Article 2199137 of
the Civil Code, which limits the entitlement for pecuniary
loss to such amount duly proved.

We see no reason to modify the trial court’s award of moral


damages, being in line with Article 2219138 and
jurisprudence. 139 The trial court’s award of temperate
damages to Naval isalso justified in recognition of the
injuries he sustained, which from their very nature imply
damages and do not need to be proved inaccordance with
Article 2216140 of the Civil Code.

WHEREFORE, the Court of Appeals’ decision is SET ASIDE.


Petitioner is found guilty of two (2) counts of frustrated
homicide. He is sentenced to a prison term of one (1) year
and one (1) day of prision correccional as minimum, to
eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor medium as
maximum, for every count. Furthermore, he is ordered to
indemnify a) Romeo Austria ₱25,000.00 as moral damages and
₱88,028.77 as actual damages and b) Gerardo Naval
₱25,000.00 as moral damages and ₱10,000.00 as temperate
ormoderate damages.

Petitioner is also ordered to pay the c.osts of suit.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 191723 July 23, 2014 of the will of the accused, that is, because of the timely and able medical assistance
rendered to said Roger Aringo, which prevented his death, to his damage and prejudice.4
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,
vs. In three other Informations all dated July 25, 2001, docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 2001-
ROLANDO LAS PIÑAS, JIMMY DELIZO AND MERWIN LAS PIÑAS, Accused- 5446, 2001-5447 and 2001-5448, the public prosecutor charged the same persons above-
Appellants. enumerated with three counts of murder, to wit:

DECISION Criminal Case No. 2001-5446

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.: That on or about 2:00 x x x in the morning of May 2, 2001, at the fishpen in the Municipality
of Castilla, Province of Sorsogon, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
This ordinary appeal seeks to reverse the consolidated December 22, 2009 Decision1 of Court, the above-named accused, with treachery, evident premeditation and abuse of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 00401 and CA-G.R. CR No. 28975, which superior strength, armed with guns, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one
affirmed the July 21, 2004 Decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 53, another, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and shoot
Sorsogon City, in Criminal Case No. 2001-5445,2 and the Decision dated May 28, 2004 of one EDGARDO ARINGO, thereby inflicting upon the latter mortal injuries on the different
the RTC, Branch 52, Sorsogon City, in Criminal Case Nos. 2001-5446, 2001-5447 and parts of his body which caused his death, to the damage and prejudice of his legal heirs.5
2001-5448.3
Criminal Case No. 2001-5447
The Facts of the Case
That on or about 2:00 x x x in the morning of May 2, 2001, at the fishpen in the Municipality
In an Information dated July 25, 2001 docketed as Criminal Case No. 2001-5445, the of Castilla, Province of Sorsogon, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
public prosecutor charged Renato, Rolando, Armando, Gilberto, Merwin, Freddie, Court, the above-named accused, with treachery, evident premeditation and abuse of
Salvador, all surnamed Las Pifias, and Jimmy Delizo with frustrated murder committed as superior strength, armed with guns, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one
follows: another, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and shoot
one BENJAMIN ARINGO, thereby inflicting upon the latter mortal injury which caused his
That on or about 2:00 x x x in the morning of May 2, 2001 at the fishpen in the Municipality death, to the damage and prejudice of his legal heirs.6
of Castilla, Province of Sorsogon, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, th[e] above-named accused with treachery, evident premeditation and abuse of Criminal Case No. 2001-5448
superior strength, armed with guns, conspiring[,] confederating and mutually helping one
another, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and shoot That on or about 2:00 x x x in the morning of May 2, 2001, at the fishpen in the Municipality
one ROGER ARINGO thereby inflicting upon the latter mortal injuries, to wit: of Castilla, Province of Sorsogon, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, with treachery, evident premeditation and abuse of
= Gunshot wound face right side[;] superior strength, armed with guns, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one
another, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and shoot
= Gunshot wound chest right side, contusion[;] one CARLITO LASALA, thereby inflicting upon the latter mortal injury which caused his
death, to the damage and prejudice of his legal heirs.7
= Gunshot wound buttock left[.]
Of the eight accused, only Rolando Las Piñas, Merwin Las Piñas, and Jimmy Delizo were
apprehended8 and held for trial. The rest remained at large.9
which injuries could have caused the death of said Roger Aringo, thus accused performing
all the acts of execution which would have produced the crime of Murder, as a
consequence, but which, nevertheless, did not produce it by reason of causes independent Though the charges of Frustrated Murder and three counts of Murder emanated from the
same set of facts, they were tried separately. Criminal Case No. 2001-5445 for Frustrated
Murderwas raffled to RTC-Br. 53, while Criminal Case Nos. 2001-5446, 2001-5447 and treatment.18 Initially, only the bodies of Benjamin and Carlito were recovered from the
2001-5448 (all for Murder) were raffled to RTC-Br. 52, both in Sorsogon, Sorsogon. platform. But four days later, Edgardo’s body was found floating in the water.19

Upon their arraignment, the three accused-appellants pleaded not guilty to the crimes Dr. Antonio Lopez (Dr. Lopez) testified and presented a medical certificate on Roger’s
charged.10 condition. He explained that Roger suffered gunshot wounds on the right side of his face,
his left chest, and in his left buttock; that he lost his eyesight in the left eye; and that his
In Criminal Case No. 2001-5445, toprove the charge of Frustrated Murder, the prosecution wounds were not immediately fatal but could have led tohis death if neglected. Dr. Lopez
presented the victim, Roger Aringo (Roger), Dr. Antonio Lopez (attending physician), further testified that he could only remove the bullet lodged in Roger’s chest, but not the
Rowan Estrellado (National Bureau of Investigation [NBI] special investigator)11 and Atty. one stuck behind his left eye and left buttock.20
Tomas C. Enrile (a lawyer and executive officerof the Naga City NBI).12
Dr. Salve Sapinoso testified thatshe conducted the post mortem examination on the
In Criminal Case Nos. 2001-5446, 2001-5447 and 2001-5448, to establish the indictment remains of Edgardo, Benjamin and Carlito, and issued their death certificates.21
for three counts of Murder, the prosecution again presented Roger, Susan Aringo
(Edgardo Aringo’s wife), Gleceria Lasala (Carlito Lasala’s wife), Catalino Aringo (father of Rowan Estrellado, who was the assigned investigator of the NBI, testified that he took the
the Aringo brothers), and Dr. Salve Sapinoso (municipal health officer of Castilla Rural sworn statements of Roger, Susan Aringo, Catalino Aringo, and Gleceria Warde
Health Office).13 Lasala;22 while it was Atty. Tomas C. Enrile who administered the oaths of said witnesses.23

From the testimony of Roger, the prosecution established that on the night of May 1, 2001, The wives of the deceased and the father of the Aringo brothers testified on the
he and his brothers, Edgardo and Benjamin, and their cousin, Carlito Lasala, were at circumstances surrounding the incident and its discovery, how they felt on the loss of their
Edgardo’s fishpen located within the coastal waters of the town of Castilla, Sorsogon. The loved ones, their family background, and the burial and hospitalization expenses.24
fishpen was supported by four wooden posts arranged in a square. On top of the posts
was a 9 to 10-meter bamboo platform about four to five meters above the sea. While on On the other hand, the defense presented the same set of witnesses for the frustrated
the platform, they lighted three pressure lamps in the middle of the fishpen to attract the murder case and consolidated murder cases,25 i.e., Gilberto Jesalva (Gilberto), Rodel Lato
fish. After checking the fishnet and eating supper, they took turns in resting and watching.14 (Rodel), Lito Bojorque (Lito), Serafin Deocareza (Serafin), Leonora Delizo (Leonora),
Rolando Las Piñas (Rolando), Merwin Las Piñas (Merwin), Blandino Diaz (Blandino), and
At around 2:00 a.m. of May 2, 2001, while Roger was on guard duty and the rest were Jimmy Delizo (Jimmy). Gilberto, the chief barangay tanodof Barangay Bitan-o, Sorsogon
sleeping, the eightabove-named accused arrived on board a "sibid-sibid,"15 a long wooden City, testified that he and accused Rolando were with the other barangay tanoddoing patrol
boat mobilized by paddles. The accused then climbed up the platform and opened fire at duty on May 1, 2001. At around 11:45 p.m., Rolando asked permission to leave to unload
the Aringo brothers and Carlito.16 the truck containing cargoes of shellfish locally known as "badoy" that arrived from Naga
City. At about 12:45 a.m., they came upon Rolando still unloading the cargoes with the
Specifically, Roger narrated thathe saw accused Armando and Rolando shoot Edgardo other workers.26
and Benjamin, while he witnessed Jimmy, Merwin and Freddie shoot Carlito. He likewise
witnessed Armando slash the throat of Edgardo after the latter was incapacitated, and Blandino, the barangay captain, testified that at 11:00 p.m. on May 1, 2001, he saw the
throw his (Edgardo) body into the sea. As for himself, Roger testified that his assailants accused Rolando in the barangayhall and then left after 30 minutes. He later learned that
were accused Renato, Salvador and Gilberto; and thathe sustained gunshot wounds on he was unloading cargoes from a delivery truck.27
his right cheek, left chest, and left buttock. The carnage finally ended when the accused
thought that the three Aringo brothers and Carlito were all dead; and then they boarded Rodel testified that he was in the business of buying and selling cooked "badoy." He stated
their boat and left towards Sorsogon. Roger recognized all the accused because they used that at around midnight to 1:00 a.m. on May 2, 2001, there was a delivery of "badoy" from
to be neighbors at Sitio Dulungan, Brgy. Libtong, Castilla, Sorsogon.17 Naga City. When the delivery truck arrived at his house in Barangay Bitan-o, his supervisor
and all around caretaker Rolando woke him. In turn, Rodel woke up Merwin, who was the
Of the four, only Roger remained alive by daybreak and was eventually rescued by a designated cook. He saidthat Rolando and Merwin never left the premises until they were
passing fisherman. He was broughtto the Sorsogon Provincial Hospital for arrested.28
Lito, another cook,corroborated Rodel’s testimony on Rolando and Merwin’s whereabouts Castilla; and the fishpen involved in the incident was off-shore of these barangays. In fact,
in the early morning of May 2, 2001.29 it was established that from Barangay Bitan-o to the two other barangays, one can travel
by boat in one hour or less.34
Serafin, who testified for accused Jimmy, stated that he, Jimmy, and their companions
went fishing in the morning of May 1, 2001 until 4:00 p.m. After getting their respective In addition, the RTC held that the defense of alibi becomes unworthy of merit where it is
shares, they decided to have a drinking session in his house at 7:00 p.m. and ended at established mainly by the accused himself and his relatives and not by credible persons.
midnight of May 1, 2001. According to him, Jimmy was so drunk that he needed to be Here, accused-appellants Rolando and Merwin’s alibis were supported by each other and
escorted home.30 Jimmy’s wife, Leonora corroborated Serafin’s testimony and the two of their friends, while accused-appellant Jimmy’s alibi was supported by his wife and his
them brought Jimmy home.31 When it was their turn to testify, accused Rolando, Merwin drinking buddy.35 Of the three qualifying circumstances alleged in all the Informations, i.e.,
and Jimmy corroborated the testimonies of the defense witnesses. treachery, evident premeditation, and abuse of superior strength, the RTC held that only
the circumstance of treachery was proved, that is, the means of execution gave the victims
RTC-Branch 53 Decision in Criminal Case No. 2001-5445 for Frustrated Murder no opportunity to defend themselves, and the accused deliberately and consciously
adopted said means.
In its July 21, 2004 Decision, RTC-Branch 53 convicted the accused appellants of the
crime charged. The fallo of said decision provides: The RTC also concluded that conspiracy attended the commission of the crime – all the
accused arrived together, all were armed with short firearms, and all participated in the
Premises considered, the court believes that the prosecution has proven beyond shooting; and after the attack, they all left together – the overt acts of the eight accused
reasonable doubt that the offense charged of Frustrated Murder was committed and that showed a common design and purpose to kill the victims in this case. Thus, the act of one
the accused Rolando Las Piñas, Merwin Las Piñas and Jimmy Delizo are guilt[y] thereof. was the act of all.36

For the pain that Roger Aringo suffered by reason of the assault on him and the injuries RTC-Branch 52 Decision inCriminal Case Nos. 2001-5446, 2001-5447 and 2001-5448 for
he sustained he is entitled to moral damage in the amount of ₱25,000.00. No credible Murder
evidence was adduced for the medical expenses.
In a joint Decision dated May 28, 2004, RTC-Branch 52 found the accused-appellants
The imposable penalty for Frustrated Murder is Reclusion Temporal. Applying the guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder committed in conspiracy with each
Indeterminate Sentence Law, the court hereby imposes upon the said accused the penalty other.
of imprisonment for the period from eight (8) years and one (1) day of Prision Mayor as
minimum to twelve (12) years, five (5) months and eleven (11) days of Reclusion Temporal Similar to the finding of RTC-Branch 53, RTC-Branch 52 held that Roger’s testimony as
as maximum and orders them to pay jointly and severally Roger Aringo ₱25,000.00 as the lone eyewitness was credible, and his positive identification of the accused-appellants
moral damage[s] and to pay the cost of suit. prevailed over the latter’s defense of alibi. The RTC also determined thatthe accused-
appellants failed to prove the physical impossibility to be at the place and time of the
The period of their detention shall be credited in their favor. incident.37

The case against the other accused is ordered archived. Issue a standing warrant for their The dispositive portion of the joint Decision of RTC-Branch 52 reads:
arrest.32
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court finds accused Rolando Las Piñas, Merwin
The RTC found Roger’s testimony tobe credible, spontaneous, and straightforward having Las Piñas and Jimmy Delizo each guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Murder,
stood his ground despite the lengthy and intensive cross-examination.33 defined and penalized under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, with the qualifying
circumstance of treachery in Criminal Case No. 2001-5446, Criminal Case No. 2001-5447
and in Criminal Case No. 2001-5448 and the Court hereby sentences each of them to an
In contrast, the RTC did not believethe accused-appellants’ defense of alibi because it was
imprisonment of Reclusion Perpetua for Crim. Case No. 2001-5446, for Crim. Case No.
not established with clear and convincing evidence that it was physically impossible for
[2001-]5447 and for Crim. Case No. 2001-5448 and to pay the heirs of Edgardo Aringo,
them to be at the fishpen when the offense was committed especially so that the coastal
Benjamin Aringo and Carlito Lasala as civil indemnity, at ₱50,000.00 each, jointly and
Barangay Bitan-o was along the same coastline as Barangay Poblacion and Bagalaya of
severally the total amount of ONE HUNDRED FIFTY [THOUSAND] (₱150,000.00) Pesos, This case is now before the Court in view of the Notice of Appeal interposed by the
also the amount of Ninety Thousand (₱90,000.00) Pesos, at ₱30,000.00 each victim, as accused-appellants from the consolidated Decision of the Court of Appeals.
moral damages without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency and to pay the
costs. The Court’s Decision

The accused being detained, their detention shall be credited in full in the service of their The parties waived the filing of supplemental briefs and adopted their Appeal Briefs earlier
sentence. filed with the Court of Appeals.

The case against accused Renato Las Piñas, Armando Las Piñas, Gilberto Las Piñas, The accused-appellants pray for the reversal of the judgment of conviction in the criminal
Freddie Las Piñas,and Salvador Las Piñas are hereby ordered archived[.] Let issue an cases on the following assignment of errors: (i) that the trial court gravely erred in finding
alias warrant of arrest of them and the same be coursed thru the Central,Regional, the accused-appellants guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder despite the
Provincial and Local PNP Command for service.38 insufficiency of evidence for the prosecution; (ii) granting arguendo,that the accused
appellants committed an offense, they can only be held liable for attempted murder; and
The accused-appellants appealed the foregoing decisions to the Court of Appeals. They (iii) that the trial court gravely erred in not giving credence to the accused-appellants’
prayed for their acquittal in the Murder cases; and either a similar acquittal in the Frustrated defense of alibi.44
Murder case, or a downgrading of the charge to Attempted Murder.39
In essence, the accused-appellants attack the consolidated disposition of the Court of
The Court of Appeals Decision Appeals affirming their conviction for frustrated murder and three counts of murder on the
ground that the prosecution failed to discharge its function of proving their guilt beyond
In its consolidated40 December 22, 2009 Decision, the Court of Appeals affirmed the reasonable doubt. They make an issue out of Roger’s delay in reporting the crimes to the
decisions of RTC-Br. 52 and Br. 53, viz: authorities, and his supposed physical inability to observe the entire commission of the
crimes. In a nutshell, they raise reasonable doubt in view of the issues identified by the
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the decisions appealed from are affirmed.41 accused-appellants that hinge on the credibility of Roger as an eyewitness.

The Court of Appeals did not disturb both trial courts’ rulings since the convictions of the The appeal fails.
accused-appellants for frustrated murder and three counts of murder were based on the
narration of a credible eyewitness, which was independently assessed by the two trial After a review of the records, the Court sustains the conviction of the accused-appellants
courts.42 for Frustrated Murder and three counts of Murder.

Particularly, in sustaining that the acts committed against Roger amounted to frustrated The age-old rule is that the task of assigning values to the testimonies of witnesses on the
murder, the Court of Appeals held that downgrading the charge to attempted murder witness stand and weighing their credibility is best left to the trial court which forms its first-
insteadwas not supported by expert medical opinion. On the contrary, the attending hand impressions as a witness testifies before it. It is, thus, no surprise that findings and
physician explained that the injuries sustained by Roger would haveled to his death if his conclusions of trial courts on the credibility of witnesses enjoy, asa rule, a badge of respect,
injuries were neglected or medically unattended. for trial courts have the advantage of observing the demeanor of witnesses as they testify.45

And in an attempt to discredit Roger’s eyewitness account pertaining to the murder of With respect to this case, the Court nevertheless carefully scrutinized the records but found
Edgardo, Benjamin and Carlito, the accused-appellants alleged that he (Roger) did not no indication thatthe trial and the appellate courts overlooked or failed to appreciate facts
really see what transpired as his left eye was blinded when the bullet that entered his right that, if considered, would change the outcome of this case. The two trial courts and the
cheek eventually ended behind his left eye. But the Court of Appeals discredited said Court of Appeals did not err in giving credence to the testimonies of the prosecution
argument on account of the testimony of Dr. Lopez, Roger’s attending physician, that witnesses, particularly of Roger who was an eyewitness to the crime and was himself a
Roger’s right eye remained visually unimpaired.43 victim of the shooting.
Roger’s testimony does not suffer from any serious and material inconsistency that could A: The accused was holding [Edgardo] Aringo on his body.
possibly detract from his credibility. The accusedappellants were directly identified by Q: You made mentioned (sic) of another companion as Benjamin Aringo, what happened
Roger as three of the eight perpetrators of the crimes charged. Roger saw the shooting of to this Benjamin Aringo?
Edgardo, Benjamin and Carlito, and was categorical and frank in his testimony. His A: He was shot on his head.
testimony was the same with respect to his own experience at the hands of the other Q: Do you know who shot Benjamin Aringo?
accused. From his direct and straightforward testimony, there is no doubt as to the identity A: Yes, sir.
of the culprits, viz: Q: Could you be able to tell the Court?
A: It was Jimmy Delizo, Merwin Las Piñas and Freddie Las Piñas.
[Direct Examination] Q: Do you know what weapon was used?
Q: By 2:00 o’clock in the early morning of May 2, 2001, do you recall of any unusual A: Yes, sir.
incidentthat took place? Q: What is that?
A: Yes, sir. A: It was a caliber [.]38.
Q: What is that incident? Q: What is your distance to Benjamin Aringo at that time?
A: At around 2:00 o’clock persons arrived in our place. A: Three (3) arms length.
Q: What did you do if you did anything? Q: You also made mentioned (sic) another companion as Carlito Lasala, what happened
A: We did nothing. to Carlito Lasala?
Q: And did these people do if they did anything? A: He was also shot.
A: Upon arrival in our place theyimmediately fired their guns aiming at us. Q: Who shot Carlito Lasala?
Q: And what happened afterwards? A: Merwin Las Piñas, Freddie Las Piñas and Jimmy Delizo.
A: There were several rounds of gunfires and some of our companions fell dead. Q: What weapon was used?
Q: By the way, in what particular part of that fishpen were you staying on that particular A: It was also a caliber [.]38.
date and time? Q: When your companions were shot, where were the assailants located?
A: At the upper portion of the fishpen. A: On my right portion. They were positioned at the right portion.
Q: Who was with you? Q: Were they on the water or at the palicede?
A: I was with Eduardo46 Aringo. ATTY. OLIVAR:
Q: What happened to this [Edgardo] Aringo? Leading, Your Honor.
A: He was shot. WITNESS:
Q: Do you know who shot this [Edgardo] Aringo? They were positioned at the upper portion of the palicede.
A: Yes, sir. ATTY. LAGUNA:
Q: Will you be able to tell the Court? Q: What about you, what happened to you?
A: [They] were Armando Las Piñas and Rolando who shot him. A: I was also shot/fired upon.
Q: Do you know what weapon was used? Q: Do you recall who shot you?
A: It was a caliber .38. A: Yes, sir.
Q: After this [Edgardo] Aringo was shot, what happened to him, if you know? Q: Could you tell the court?
A: After he was shot heturned his body on his side. A: Renato Las Piñas, Salvador Las Piñas and Gilberto Las Piñas.
Q: What happened to him after that? Q: And in what part of your body were you hit?
A: After he was shot he felt his body. INTERPRETER:
Q: And what happened afterwards? Witness pointing to his right che[e]k; witness pointing below the left side of his nipple and
A: When he was already dead Rolando kept on holding him also at the buttocks.
Q: Who was this Rolando? ATTY. LAGUNA:
INTERPRETER: Q: After you were shot, what happened afterwards, if you can still recall?
Witness pointing to a man in court wearing white T-shirt who identified himself as Rolando A: After I was shot they left me, and they went to my companion [Edgardo] Aringo and held
Las Piñas. him.
Q: What did this Rolando Las Piñas do to Edgardo Aringo if Rolando did anything to him? Q: After they held him, what happened?
A: After they held him he was thrown into the sea. Q: But would you be able to describeto this court how the throat of this [Edgardo] was
Q: After this person you mentioned was thrown to the sea, what happened if there was slashed?
anything else that happened? A: While [Edgardo] was lying on his back he was held by Rolando this way (witness stood
A: After Edgardo Aringo was thrown into the sea, they left already.47 up and placed his two hands downward as if pinning down something) while Armando
[Cross Examination] slashed his
Q: What was your reaction when you saw these persons climbing the pole going to the top ([Edgardo]) throat.
of the fishpen? Q: Did you see the weapon used in slashing the throat of [Edgardo]?
A: We were not able to do anything. A: Yes, sir.
Q: Where were the assailants when you said they shotyou? Were they in the climbing Q: What was that?
position; were they still in the boat or were they in the fishpen already? A: A knife.
A: Some of them were on the boat,some were climbing and they were firing shots while Q: Would you be able to tell thiscourt how long is that knife?
climbing. A: About this size (witness demonstrated by placing his hands apart from each other with
Q: So no one was on top of the fishpen and firing shots? the length of about 1 and ½ feet.)
A: There [were] already on top of the fishpen. Q: Now, what happened next to [Edgardo] after his throat was slashed?
Q: Can you tell us who were those on the boat firing? A: He was already dead, but still his throat was slashed and then after that, he was thrown
A: Merwin Las Piñas and some of his brothers were already at the upper portion of the to the sea.49
fishpen.
Q: Who were the ones who first reached the top of the fishpen? The three Informations docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 2001-5446, 2001-5447 and 2001-
A: Renato Las Piñas, Armando Las Piñas, Rolando Las Piñas, Freddie Las Piñas, 5448 charged the accused-appellants with the crime of Murder, for shooting and killing
Salvador Las Piñas,Gilberto Las Piñas and Jimmy Delizo. Edgardo, Benjamin and Carlito, which circumstance was attended by treachery defined
Q: The question of the court was that – you said a while ago that when they arrived some and punished by Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No.
were climbing, some were still left on the boat and some have reached already the top of 7659, viz:
the fishpen. The question of the court is that when you saw these actions of the accused
whom did you see were the first ones who reached the top of the fishpen? Article 248. Murder. — Any person who, not falling within the provisions of Article 246,
A: The persons that I have named. shall kill another, shall be guilty of murder and shall be punished by reclusion perpetua, to
Q: You name the first ones? death if committed with any of the following attendant circumstances:
A: Armando Las Piñas, Renato Las Piñas, Rolando Las Piñas, Salvador Las Piñas,
Freddie Las Piñas, Gilberto Las Piñas and Jimmy Delizo. Yes, sir. They were quick ("listo")
1. With treachery, taking advantage of superior strength, with the aid of armed men, or
in their climbing on the fishpen.
employing means toweaken the defense or of means or persons to insure or afford
Q: Where were they when they started firing their guns, were they already on top of the
impunity[.]
fishpen; while they were climbing?
A: Some were firing while already on the top of the fishpen and some were firing while still
climbing. To successfully prosecute the crime of murder, the following elements must be
Q: And who were those who were firing who were already on top of the fishpen? established: (1) that a person was killed; (2) that the accused killed him or her; (3) that the
A: Renato Las Piñas, ArmandoLas Piñas, Rolando Las Piñas, Gilberto Las Piñas, killing was attended by any of the qualifying circumstances mentioned in Article 248of the
SalvadorLas Piñas and Jimmy Delizo. Revised Penal Code; and (4) that the killing is not parricide or infanticide.50
Q: And who were those firing while still climbing?
A: Merwin Las Piñas who was firing while still climbing.48 In this case, the prosecution was able to clearly establish that (1) Edgardo, Benjamin and
[Direct Examination in Criminal Case Nos. 2001-5446 to 5448] Carlitowere shot and killed; (2) the accused appellants were three of the eight perpetrators
Q: Now, after [Edgardo] was shot, what happened to him, if there was anything that who killed them; (3) Edgardo, Benjamin and Carlito’s killing was attended by the qualifying
happened? circumstance of treachery as testified to by prosecution eyewitness, Roger; and (4) the
A: After [Edgardo] was shot, Rolando Las Piñas helped him while Armando slashed the killing of Edgardo, Benjamin and Carlito were neither parricide nor infanticide.
throat of [Edgardo] and then he was thrown overboard.
Paragraph 16, Article 14 of the Revised Penal Code defines treachery as the direct the fishpen located offshore on board the same boat,but also from their joint attack
employment of means, methods, or forms in the execution of the crime against persons commenced simultaneously, firing successive shots at the four victims and immediately
which tend directly and specially to insure its execution, without risk to the offender arising followed by clambering upthe platform and resuming their shooting of Roger, Edgardo,
from the defense which the offended party might make. The essence of treachery is that Benjamin and Carlito. It was also significant that they fled together on board the boat that
the attack is deliberate and without warning, donein a swift and unexpected way, affording they arrived in as soon as they had achieved their common purpose. Their conduct –
the hapless, unarmed and unsuspecting victim no chance to resist or escape.51 In order for before, during, and after the commission of the crime – indicated a joint purpose, concerted
treachery to be properly appreciated, two elements must be present: (1) at the time of the action, and concurrence of sentiments. Hence, conspiracy attended the commission of the
attack, the victim was not in a position to defend himself; and (2) the accused consciously crimes.
and deliberately adopted the particular means, methods, or forms of attack employed by
him.52 These elements are extant in the facts of this case and as testified to by Roger As to the Information docketed as Criminal Case No. 2001-5445, the accused-appellants
above-quoted. were indicted with the crime of Frustrated Murder for shooting Roger, which was also
attended by treachery, punished by Article 250 also of the Revised Penal Code, in relation
To emphasize, the victims, Roger, Edgardo, Benjamin and Carlito, were caught off guard to Article 248 thereof, reading:
when the accused, including the accused-appellants, in the dead of night, arrived at the
fishpen and climbed the same, and without warning, opened fire at the sleeping/resting Article 250. Penalty for frustrated parricide, murder or homicide. – The courts, in view of
victims to disable them. Upon disabling the victims, the accused and the accused- the facts of the case, may impose upon the person guilty of the frustrated crime of parricide,
appellants continued shooting at the victims – accused Armando and accused-appellant murder or homicide, defined and penalized in the preceding articles, a penalty lower by
Rolando shot Edgardo and Carlito; accused-appellants Jimmy and Merwin and accused one degree than that which should be imposed under the provisions of Article 50.
Freddie shot Benjamin; and accused Renato, Salvador and Gilberto shot Roger. Accused
Armando even slashed Edgardo’s throat after shooting him and threw his body out to the In the same way that the murder was proved, to establish frustrated murder, the
sea53 – the stealth, swiftness and methodical manner by which the attack was carried out prosecution must show that the accused performed all the acts of execution which would
gave the four victims no chance at all to evade the bullets and defend themselves from the kill the victim, but which, nevertheless, did not produce it by reason of causes independent
unexpected onslaught. Thus, there is no denying that the collective acts of the accused of the offender’s will.56 Here, the only survivor, Roger, recounted that accused Renato,
and the accused-appellants reek of treachery. Salvador and Gilberto shot him on the face, chest and buttock using a .38 gun and then
left him for dead. Had it not been for the timely medical treatment of his injuries, they would
Conspiracy have been fatal. As confirmed by Dr. Lopez, who testified that:

Article 8 of the Revised Penal Codestates that "conspiracy exists when two or more ATTY. LAGUNA:
persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to
commit it."54 It does not need to be proven by direct evidence and may beinferred from the Q: Mr. witness, your first finding here is "gunshot wound face right side, how were you able
conduct – before, during, and after the commission of the crime – indicative of a joint to find this out?
purpose, concerted action, and concurrence of sentiments as in conspiracy. In conspiracy,
the act of one is the act of all.55
A: There is a bullet hole on the face right side.
That there was conspiracy among the accused and accused-appellants is a matter not in
Q: What happened to the bullet?
issue. Both trial courts and the Court of Appeals deduced the conspiracy among the
accused/accused-appellants fromthe mode and manner in which they perpetrated the
killings. This Court is satisfied that their deduction was warranted. Proof of the actual A: Together with that we took anx-ray examination of the skull and we found the bullet just
agreement to commit the crime need not be direct because conspiracy may be implied or behind the orbit of the left eye.
inferred from their conduct – before, during, and after the commission of the crime –
indicative of a joint purpose, concerted action, and concurrence of sentiments as in Q: To your knowledge, doctor, where is that bullet now?
conspiracy. In thiscase, all the accused/accused-appellants were convincingly shown to
have acted in concert to achieve a common purpose of assaulting their unarmed victims A: I don’t know. We refer the patient for that purpose to the BRTH.
with their guns. Their acting in concert was manifest not only from their going together to
Q: What is that BRTH? committed.59 Here, the accused-appellants utterly failed to satisfy the above-quoted
requirements. As held by the Court of Appeals, "[j]udicial notice was taken of the fact that
A: In Legaspi City Bicol Regional Training Hospital. Barangay Bitan-o in Sorsogon City where the accused claimed they were at the time of
the shooting and the area of the sea adjacent to the municipality of Castilla where the
Q: As a doctor, would you be able tosay whether or not this particular wound is fatal? incident took place are neighboring sites that can be negotiated with the use of a banca in
one hour or less."60 Certainly, the distance was not too far as to preclude the presence of
accused-appellants at the fishpen, and/or for them to slip away from where they were
A: That particular wound may not be immediately fatal but it could lead to the death of the
supposed to be, unnoticed.
patient if neglected.
Finally, the defense failed to show any ill motive on the part of the prosecution’s witnesses
Q: And when you say neglected, what do you mean by that, doctor?
to discredit their testimonies. Absent any reason or motive for a prosecution witness to
1âw phi 1

perjure himself, the logical conclusion is that no such motive exists, and his testimony is,
A: Without medical attention or assistance extended to the patient.57 thus, worthy of full faith and credit.61

Thus, the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that frustrated murder was The Penalties
committed. In view of the preceding discussion, there is no more reason to entertain the
issue raised by the accused-appellants that the charge of frustrated murder be
From the foregoing discussion, the Court is convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the
downgraded to attempted murder. And although only the three accused-appellants were
accused-appellants are guilty of three counts of Murder and Frustrated Murder.
apprehended, they shall be held liable for the acts oftheir five other co-accused since the
prosecution similarly established conspiracy with respect to the frustrated murder case –
the act of one is the act of all. For Criminal Case Nos. 2001-5446, 2001-5447 and 2001-5448 (for Murder), the
prosecution successfullyestablished the presence of the qualifying circumstance of
treachery in the killing of Edgardo, Benjamin and Carlito. The crime of murder qualified by
Defenses of denial and alibi
treachery is penalized under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by
Republic Act No. 7659, with reclusion perpetuato death. There being no other mitigating
The twin defenses of denial and alibi raised by the accused-appellants must fail in light of or aggravating circumstance in the commission of the felony, the accused appellants were
the positive identification made by one of their victims, Roger. Alibi and denial are correctlymeted the penalty of reclusion perpetua, for each separate count of Murder,
inherently weak defenses and must be brushed aside when the prosecution has sufficiently conformably to Article 63(2) of the Revised Penal Code.
and positively ascertained the identity of the accused as in this case. It is also axiomatic
that positive testimony prevails over negative testimony.58 The accused-appellants’ alibis
On the other hand, for Criminal Case No. 2001-5445 (for Frustrated Murder), the
that they were at different places at the time of the shooting, and that family members and
indeterminate penalty imposed by the trial court in this case is eight (8) years and one (1)
or their friends vouched for their whereabouts are negative and self-serving assertions and
day of prision mayor, as minimum, to twelve (12) years, five (5) months and eleven (11)
cannot not be given more evidentiary value vis-àvis the affirmative testimony of a credible
days of reclusion temporal, as maximum. The period is incorrect in sofar as the maximum
witness. The accused-appellants and Roger, at one point,resided in the same barangay
penalty is concerned.
and, are, therefore, familiar with one another. Therefore,Roger could not have been
mistaken on the accused-appellants’ identity, including the five other accused who
remained at large. Article 61, paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal Code provides that the penalty of frustrated
murderis one degree lower than reclusion perpetuato death, which is reclusion temporal.
Reclusion temporalhas a range of twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years.
Further, it has been held that for the defense of alibi to prosper, the accused must prove
There being no modifying circumstance in the commission of the frustrated murder and
the following: (i) that he was present at another place at the time of the perpetration of the
applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the maximumof the indeterminate penalty
crime; and (ii) that it was physically impossible for him to be at the scene of the crime
should be taken from reclusion temporal in its medium period, and the minimumof the
during its commission. Physical impossibility involves the distance and the facility of access
indeterminate penalty shall be taken from the full range of prision mayor, which is one
between the crime scene and the location of the accused when the crime was committed.
degree lower than reclusion temporal, ranging from six (6) years and one (1) day to twelve
The accused must demonstrate that he was so far away and could not have been
(12) years.62 Since the RTC imposed the minimum term of 8 years and 1 dayof prision
physically present at the crime scene and its immediate vicinity when the crime was
mayor,which is correctly within the range of prision mayor under the Revised Penal Code, (3) Exemplary damages in the amount of ₱30,000.00 is awarded.
the Court will no longer disturb the minimum term fixed. However, the maximum term must
be taken from reclusion temporal in its medium period, or fourteen (14) years, eight (8) In Criminal Case No. 2001-5445, the conviction of the accusedappellants for Frustrated
months and one (1) day to seventeen (17) years and four (4) months. Murder is likewise AFFIRMED. But while the Court affirms their conviction, the
indeterminate penalty to be imposed instead is eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision
The Proper Indemnities mayor, as minimum, to fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months and one (1) day of reclusion
temporal in its medium period, as maximum. Further, the amount of damages awarded are
In Criminal Case Nos. 2001-5446 to 5448 (for three counts of Murder), the RTC awarded adjusted –
in each case the amounts of ₱50,000.00 as civil indemnity and ₱30,000.00 as moral
damages to the victims’ heirs. But to conform to recent jurisprudence, the foregoing awards (1) Moral damages is increased to ₱40,000.00; and
must be raised as follows: ₱75,000.00 as civil indemnity, and another ₱75,000.00 as moral
damages.63 The Court notes, however, thatboth the RTC and the Court of Appeals (2) Exemplary damages in the amount of ₱20,000.00 is awarded.
overlooked the award of exemplary damages. When a crime is committed with an
aggravating circumstance either as qualifying or generic, an award of exemplary damages The accused-appellants are ORDERED to pay legal interest on all damages awarded in
is justified under Article 2230 of the Civil Code.64 Thus, conformably with the above, the this case at the rate of six percent (6%) per annum from the date of finality of this decision
legal heirs of each victim are also entitled to an award of exemplary damages in the amount until fully paid. SO ORDERED
of ₱30,000.00.65

And in Criminal Case No. 2001-5445 (for Furstrated Murder) the RTC awarded to Roger
₱25,000.00 asmoral damages. But current jurisprudence dictates that the samemust be
increased to ₱40,000.00.66 Moreover, Roger is also entitled to exemplary damages in the
amount of ₱20,000.00, in view of the presence of treachery as above reasoned.

Further, an interest at the rate ofsix percent (6%) per annum shall be imposed on all the
damages awarded, to earn from the date of the finality of this judgment until fully paid, in
line with prevailing jurisprudence.67

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court of Appeals consolidated Decision dated


December 22, 2009 in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 00401 and in CA-G.R. CR No. 28975,
affirming the Decisions promulgated by the Regional Trial Court of Sorsogon,Sorsogon,
Branch 52, in Criminal Case Nos. 2001-5446 (Murder), 2001-5447 (Murder), 2001-5448
(Murder), and Branch 53 in Criminal Case No. 2001-5445 (Frustrated Murder), finding
accused-appellants Rolando Las Piñas, Jimmy Delizo and Merwin Las Piñas
GUILTYbeyond reasonable doubt of three counts of Murder and Frustrated Murder, is
hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONas follows:

In Criminal Case Nos. 2001-5446, 2001-5447 and 2001-5448, where the conviction of the
accused-appellants for three separate counts of Murder and the penalty of reclusion
perpetua, for each count of Murder, are AFFIRMED–

(1) The award of civil indemnity is increased to ₱75,000.00;

(2) Moral damages is increased to ₱75,000.00; and


Republic of the Philippines The charge against Dolorido stemmed from the following
SUPREME COURT Information:
Manila
That on the 9th day of May 2006 at around 8:30 oclock
FIRST DIVISION in the morning, more or less, at Barangay Cagdapao,
Municipality of Tago, Province of Surigao del Sur,
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 191721 Court, the above-named accused, armed with a bolo with
Plaintiff-Appellee, evident premeditation and treachery and with intent to
Present: kill, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully, and
feloniously, attack, assault and hack one, DANIEL ESTOSE,
- versus - CORONA, C.J., causing his instantaneous death, to the damage and
Chairperson, prejudice of the heirs of the deceased as follows:
VELASCO, JR.,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, P70,000.00 - as life indemnity
ROGELIO DOLORIDO y ESTRADA, DEL CASTILLO, and
Accused-Appellant. PEREZ, JJ. P10,000.00 - as moral damage

Promulgated: P10,000.00 - exemplary damages


January 12, 2011
x-----------------------------------------------------x CONTRARY TO LAW.[3]

D E C I S I O N On November 15, 2006, Dolorido was arraigned, and he


pleaded not guilty to the crime charged.
VELASCO, JR., J.:
During the pre-trial conference on January 18, 2007,
The Case Dolorido admitted that he killed the deceased-victim Daniel
Estose but invoked self-defense. Likewise, the prosecution
This is an appeal from the November 27, 2009 Decision[1] of and the defense stipulated that the Joint Affidavit of
the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 00575-MIN Aniolito Avila and Adrian Avila (the Avilas) would
entitled People of the Philippines v. Rogelio Dolorido y constitute as their direct testimony, subject to cross-
Estrada, which affirmed the September 14, 2007 examination by the defense; and the Counter Affidavit of
Decision [2] in Criminal Case No. 5027 of the Regional Trial the Accused and the Affidavit of Mario Jariol would also
Court (RTC), Branch 27 in Tandag, Surigao del Sur. The RTC constitute as their direct testimony, subject to cross
found accused-appellant Rogelio Dolorido y Estrada guilty examination by the prosecution.
of murder.
During the trial, the prosecution offered the testimonies
The Facts of the Avilas and Loreta Estose. On the other hand, the
defense presented, as its sole witness, accused-appellant drew his own bolo and stabbed Estose. When Estose tried to
Dolorido. wrestle for the bolo, he sustained some wounds. Afterwards,
while Dolorido was pointing the bolo at Estose, the latter
The Prosecutions Version of Facts suddenly lunged at Dolorido, causing Estose to hit the bolo
with his own chest which resulted in his death.[8] He denied
The Avilas were hired laborers of the victim, Estose, the prosecutors claim that he hid behind a coconut tree
tasked to harvest the coconuts in the latters farm in and waited for Estose to come. Thereafter, Dolorido,
Cagdapao, Tago, Surigao del Sur.[4] accompanied by one Mario Jariol, voluntarily surrendered
to the Tago Police Station.
On May 9, 2006, while the Avilas were walking towards the
coconut plantation at around 8:30 in the morning, they saw Rulings of the Trial and Appellate Courts
Dolorido standing near the coconut drier of Estose,
appearing very angry. After some time, Dolorido proceeded After trial, the RTC convicted accused Dolorido. The
to Rustica Doloridos coconut drier located a hundred meters dispositive portion of its September 14, 2007 Decision
away and hid behind a coconut tree.[5] reads:

Moments later, they saw Estose on his way to his own coconut WHEREFORE, finding accused Rogelio Dolorido y
drier. When Estose passed by Rustica Doloridos coconut Estrada GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime
drier, they saw Dolorido suddenly hack Estose twice, of MURDER qualified by treachery, and appreciating in his
resulting in wounds on his arms. When Estose tried to favor the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender,
retreat, he fell down and it was then that Dolorido stabbed without any aggravating circumstance to offset the same,
him on the left portion of his chest, which caused his the Court hereby sentences him to suffer the penalty
death. Dolorido suddenly left the place. of Reclusion Perpetua, to pay the heirs of deceased-victim
Daniel Estose y Langres the sum of P50,000.00 as civil
Afraid of Doloridos wrath, the Avilas did not immediately indemnity, P50,000 as moral
proceed to the scene of the crime. It was only after 20 or damages and P25,000.00 as temperate damages; and to pay
so minutes that they felt it was safe to approach the cost.
Estose. When they were near, they saw Estose was already
dead.[6] They then waited for Estoses wife and the police. x x x x

Version of the Defense SO ORDERED.[9]

Doloridos defense, on the other hand, consisted of the


story of self-defense: On November 27, 2009, the CA affirmed in toto the judgment
of the RTC.[10]
On the day of the death of the victim, Dolorido asked Estose
why he was gathering Doloridos harvested coconuts. Estose The Issues
just replied, So, what about it? and tried to unsheathe
his bolo from its scabbard.[7] Upon seeing this, Dolorido Accused-appellant assigns the following errors:
aggression; and (3) lack of sufficient provocation on the
part of the person resorting to self-defense.[11]
I.
A person who invokes self-defense has the burden of proof
The court a quo gravely erred in not appreciating self- of proving all the elements.[12] However, the most important
defense interposed by accused. among all the elements is the element of unlawful
aggression. Unlawful aggression must be proved first in
II. order for self-defense to be successfully pleaded, whether
complete or incomplete. As this Court said in People v.
The court a quo gravely erred in convicting the accused- Catbagan,[13] There can be no self-defense, whether complete
appellant of murder despite the failure of the prosecution or incomplete, unless the victim had committed unlawful
to prove the elements of treachery. aggression against the person who resorted to self-defense.

III. In this case, we agree with the trial court that the
accused-appellant failed to prove the existence of unlawful
The court a quo gravely erred in awarding damages despite aggression. But he maintains that Estose provoked him when
failure of the prosecution to present evidence to support the latter started to unsheathe his bolo from his scabbard.
their claim. Nevertheless, as aptly found by the trial court, his
testimony is too incredible to be believed, viz:

The Courts Ruling


Accuseds plea failed to impress the Court. To be sure, his
The appeal has no merit. story on how the deceased was killed is too incredible to
inspire belief. According to him, it was the deceased who
Self-defense is absent first unsheathed his bolo but did not succeed in his
attempt to fully unsheathe it because he (Accused) hacked
him. Thereafter, the deceased tried to wrest Accuseds bolo
In his Brief, accused-appellant argues that the trial court but was injured instead. If the deceased failed to
failed to consider the circumstance of unlawful aggression unsheathe his bolo because Accused was able to hack him,
on the part of the victim. He contends that he only acted how could the deceased then have attempted to dispossess
in self-defense, and this is the reason why he voluntarily the Accused of the latters bolo? The truth, of course, is
surrendered to the authorities. that the Accused waylaid the deceased, as testified to by
the prosecution witnesses.[14] x x x
We do not agree.
Unlawful aggression is an actual physical assault, or at
In order for self-defense to be successfully invoked, the least a threat to inflict real imminent injury, upon a
following essential elements must be proved: (1) unlawful person.[15] In case of threat, it must be offensive and
aggression on the part of the victim; (2) reasonable strong, positively showing the wrongful intent to cause
necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel such injury.[16] It presupposes actual, sudden, unexpected or
imminent danger not merely threatening and intimidating methods, or forms in the execution of the crime against
action.[17] It is present only when the one attacked faces persons which tend directly and specially to insure its
real and immediate threat to ones life.[18] Such is absent execution, without risk to the offender arising from the
in the instant case. defense which the offended party might make. In order for
treachery to be properly appreciated, two elements must be
Moreover, against the positive declarations of the present: (1) at the time of the attack, the victim was not
prosecution witnesses who testified that accused-appellant in a position to defend himself; and (2) the accused
hacked Estose twice and subsequently stabbed him without consciously and deliberately adopted the particular means,
any provocation, accused-appellants self-serving and methods or forms of attack employed by him.[21] The essence
uncorroborated assertion deserves scant consideration. of treachery is the sudden and unexpected attack by an
aggressor on the unsuspecting victim, depriving the latter
Indeed, it is a well-settled rule that a plea of self- of any chance to defend himself and thereby ensuring its
defense cannot be justifiably entertained where it is not commission without risk of himself.[22]
only uncorroborated by any separate competent evidence but
is also extremely doubtful in itself.[19] Moreover, [a]bsent In the case at bar, it was clearly shown that Estose was
any showing that the prosecution witnesses were moved by deprived of any means to ward off the sudden and unexpected
improper motive to testify against the appellant, their attack by accused-appellant. The evidence showed that
testimonies are entitled to full faith and credit.[20] accused-appellant hid behind a coconut tree and when Estose
passed by the tree, completely unaware of any danger,
Therefore, absent any unlawful aggression from the victim, accused-appellant immediately hacked him with a
accused-appellant cannot successfully invoke the defense bolo. Estose could only attempt to parry the blows with
of self-defense. his bare hands and as a result, he got
wounded. Furthermore, when Estose tried to retreat,
Treachery is evident stumbling in the process, accused-appellant even took
advantage of this and stabbed him resulting in his death.
In addition, accused-appellant argues that the trial court Evidently, the means employed by accused-appellant assured
should not have appreciated treachery as a qualifying himself of no risk at all arising from the defense which
circumstance. He argues that it was impossible for the two the deceased might make. What is decisive is that the
prosecution witnesses to see the inception and the actual attack was executed in a manner that the victim was rendered
attack of accused-appellant to the victim because both were defenseless and unable to retaliate.[23] Without a doubt,
busy gathering coconuts. Also, they were 50 meters away treachery attended the killing.
from where the actual stabbing occurred, in rolling hills
with tall and short shrubs between the witnesses and the Thus, this Court finds no reason to disturb the findings
place where the actual stabbing occurred. of the trial court when it gave credence to the testimony
of the prosecution witnesses. It is well-entrenched in our
We disagree. jurisprudence x x x that the assessment of the credibility
of witnesses and their testimonies is a matter best
Paragraph 16 of Article 14 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) undertaken by the trial court because of its unique
defines treachery as the direct employment of means, opportunity to observe the witnesses first hand and note
their demeanor, conduct and attitude under grilling evidence of burial and funeral expenses is presented in
examination.[24] This rule is even more binding and the trial court.[30] Under Art. 2224 of the Civil Code,
conclusive when affirmed by the appellate court.[25] temperate damages may be recovered as it cannot be denied
that the heirs of the victims suffered pecuniary loss
In conclusion, all the elements of the crime of murder, as although the exact amount was not proved.[31] Therefore, we
defined in paragraph 1 of Art. 248 of the RPC, were sustain the award of the trial court of PhP 25,000 for
successfully proved: (1) that a person was killed; (2) that temperate damages.
the accused killed that person; (3) that the killing was
attended by treachery; and (4) that the killing is not Finally, interest at the rate of six (6) percent should
infanticide or parricide.[26] likewise be added to the damages awarded.[32]

Verily, in criminal cases such as the one on hand, the WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED. The CA Decision in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 00575-MIN finding
accused-appellant Rogelio Dolorido y Estrada guilty of the crime charged
prosecution is not required to show the guilt of the accused is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. In addition to the sum of PhP 50,000 as civil indemnity,
with absolute certainty. Only moral certainty is demanded, PhP 50,000 as moral damages, and PhP 25,000 as temperate damages, accused-appellant is
likewise sentenced to pay the heirs of the victim the amount of PhP 30,000 as exemplary
or that degree of proof which, to an unprejudiced mind, damages. Interest at the rate of six percent (6%) per annum on the civil indemnity and
produces conviction.[27] We find that the prosecution has moral, temperate, and exemplary damages from the finality of this decision until fully
paid shall likewise be paid by accused-appellant to the heirs of Daniel Estose.
discharged its burden of proving the guilt of accused-
appellant for the crime of murder with moral certainty. SO ORDERED.

Award of Damages

This Court has held in People v. Beltran, Jr. that [w]hen


death occurs due to a crime, the following damages may be
awarded: (1) civil indemnity ex delicto for the death of
the victim; (2) actual or compensatory damages; (3) moral
damages; (4) exemplary damages; and (5) temperate
damages.[28]

Hence, in line with our ruling in People v.


Sanchez,[29] when the imposable penalty for the crime
is reclusion perpetua, the damages to be imposed are: PhP
50,000 as civil indemnity, PhP 50,000 as moral damages,
and PhP 30,000 as exemplary damages. These are the amounts
proper in this case because of the appreciation of the
mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender without any
aggravating circumstance to offset it.

As to the award of temperate damages in the amount of PhP


25,000, such is proper in homicide or murder cases when no
FIRST DIVISION That on or about the 6th day of May 2002, at about 12:15
oclock midnight, more or less, in barangay Baga, Municipality
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 175315 of Pana-on, province of Misamis Occidental and within the
Appellee, jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above named accused,
conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another,
with intent to kill, with abuse and taking advantage of their
Present:
superior strength, did then and there willfully, unlawfully
and feloniously attack, box and then stab one DOMINADOR S.
CORONA, C. J., ACOPE[,] SR. with the use of a knife hitting him on the left
Chairperson, hypochondriac area which caused his death.
- versus - LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BERSAMIN,* CONTRARY TO LAW, with the qualifying circumstance of taking
DEL CASTILLO, and advantage of superior strength[.][3]
PEREZ, JJ.
Both appellants were arrested. They entered separate pleas of
not guilty during their arraignment.[4] After the termination
ELIZER BEDUYA and RIC BEDUYA, Promulgated: of the mandatory pre-trial conference,[5] trial ensued.
Appellants. August 9, 2010
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - The Prosecutions Evidence
- - - - - x
Culled from the evidence presented by the prosecution, the
D E C I S I O N following case against the appellants emerged:

DEL CASTILLO, J.: On May 6, 2002, at around 11:45 p.m., Roy Bughao (Bughao) was
carrying a torch on his way home from the birthday celebration
In this appeal, we are tasked to determine whether the of his cousin when Elizer and Ric suddenly appeared. Ric went
appellants killed the victim with abuse of superior strength around him while his brother Elizer pointed a knife. He drew
for which they were convicted of murder. back and swung the torch at them and shouted, Why do you hurt
me, what is my fault?[6] The Beduya brothers did not reply and
Factual Antecedents continued their assault. Bughao then scrambled for safety and
ran towards the yard of victim Dominador S. Acope, Sr. (Acope,
For our review is the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) Sr.) and hid in a dark area.
in CA-G.R. CR HC No. 00161 which affirmed with modification
the Decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 12, At around 12:30 a.m. of May 7, 2002, the victim and his son,
Oroquieta City, Misamis Occidental, finding appellants Elizer Dominador Acope, Jr. (Acope, Jr.), were roused from their sleep
Beduya (Elizer) and Ric Beduya (Ric) guilty beyond reasonable by a voice coming from the road in front of their house. The
doubt for the crime of murder. The Information against the victim went outside while his son peeped through the
appellants contained the following accusatory allegations: window. The victim saw Bughao who readily identified himself
and said that Elizer pointed a knife at him. As the Beduya
brothers entered the yard of the victims house, Bughao hid witnessed the event but he did not interfere since he did not
himself. While in hiding, he saw the Beduya brothers approach want to get involved.
the victim after they were advised to go home since it was
already late. The Beduya brothers did not heed the advice and Elizer continued to walk, and arrived home at 12:15 a.m. At
instead Ric slapped the victim while Elizer stabbed him. The 1:30 a.m., policemen came to his house and took him to a
victim retaliated by striking them with a piece of wood he got hospital. They passed by the house of his brother Ric before
hold of. Elizer and Ric ran away but one of them stumbled on proceeding to their destination.
the pile of firewood and the clothesline in the yard before
they succeeded in departing from the premises. For his part, Ric testified that he was asleep at the time of
the incident. He stated that he went to sleep at eight oclock
Acope, Jr. immediately proceeded to his uncles house which was in the evening on May 5, 2002 and woke up at four oclock in
40 meters away and sought his help. The incident was also the morning of the following day, May 6, 2002, when
reported to their Barangay Captain, who responded by going to the Barangay Captain and policemen came to his house with his
the residence of the victim. Upon arrival, he saw the victim brother and asked him to come with them to the hospital.
lying on the ground and bleeding from a stab wound. The victim
told him that, I will die because of this. x x x I was boxed The Trial Courts Decision
by Ric and I was stabbed by Elizer.[7] He also told
the Barangay Captain that he had no previous quarrel with the The trial court rendered judgment in favor of the prosecution,
Beduya brothers. whose witnesses testified candidly on the events that resulted
in the death of the victim. On the other hand, the trial court
The Barangay Captain took the victim to found as unreliable the witnesses presented by the defense. It
the Jimenez Medicare Hospital but was later advised to proceed held that Eduardo, at 86 years of age, could not have seen the
to the MHARS General Hospital in Ozamis City, where the police victim and Bughao attacking Elizer 30 meters away with a
officer took the statement of the victim and Acope, Jr. On the flashlight as his only source of illumination in the dead of
next day, May 8, 2002, the victim died due to septic and night since a test on his vision showed that he could not see
hypovolemic shock secondary to stabbed wound.[8] at a distance little more than beyond his nose.[9] Moreover, it
ruled that the injuries suffered by Elizer were more consistent
The Appellants Version with the defensive blows from a piece of wood the victim used
to defend himself, rather than the alleged assault on him by
Elizer maintained that he did not commit any crime. On May 6, the victim and Bughao.[10]
2002, he went to Baybay, Punta, Panaon, to buy fish. He usually
carried a knife to slice and eat the fish while it is still The trial court also held that the circumstance of abuse of
raw.While on his way home at 10:30 p.m., he was suddenly superior strength that qualifies the killing of the victim to
attacked and struck by the victim and Bughao. He got hit murder is present in this case. According to the trial court,
several times with a piece of wood and Bughao smashed his right the appellants combined assault gave them the advantage over
foot. To defend himself, he pulled out his knife and struck the victim who must have been taken by surprise. The
randomly. He had no knowledge if he hit someone but his retaliation of the victim with a piece of wood was done only
assailants fled. Eduardo Eltagon (Eduardo) testified that he after he had already been stabbed.[11]
In disposing of the case, the trial court ruled as follows:
II
WHEREFORE, finding accused Elizer Beduya and Ric Beduya guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of murder qualified by abuse of THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED-
superior strength without other modifying circumstances, the APPELLANTS GUILTY OF THE CRIME CHARGED DESPITE FAILURE [OF]
court sentences them to reclusion perpetua and orders them to THE PROSECUTION TO PROVE THEIR GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.
pay in solidum the heirs of Dominador Acope P50,000.00 as
death indemnity, P6,000.00 as funeral expenses, P9,411.85 as III
medical expenses, and P264,000.00 as lost earnings. With
costs. THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONSIDERING THE QUALIFYING
CIRCUMSTANCE OF ABUSE OF SUPERIOR STRENGTH.[15]
Accused are credited with the full time spent under preventive
detention since May 7, 2002. During the pendency of the appeal, appellant Ric died of cardio
pulmonary arrest secondary to bleeding peptic ulcer as shown
SO ORDERED.[12] by his certificate of death.[16] Accordingly, we dismissed[17]the
appeal insofar as said appellant is concerned. However,
The Decision of the Court of Appeals judgment shall be rendered as to Elizer.

The case was forwarded to this Court on automatic review and Our Ruling
docketed as G.R. No. 158473. However, we referred it to the
CA in accordance with our ruling in People v. Mateo.[13] The There is partial merit in the appeal.
appellate court affirmed with modification the trial courts
decision and disposed as follows: Abuse of Superior Strength as a Qualifying Circumstance in the
Crime of Murder
WHEREFORE, the appeal is hereby DENIED. The assailed decision
is hereby AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION of increasing the Murder is the unlawful killing by the accused of a person,
award of the victims heirs for the loss of earning capacity which is not parricide or infanticide, provided that any of
of the victim [to] P408,000.00. SO ORDERED.[14] the attendant circumstances enumerated in Article 248[18] of
the Revised Penal Code is present. Abuse of superior strength
The Assignment of Errors is one of the qualifying circumstances mentioned therein that
qualifies the killing of the victim to murder.
Still aggrieved, the appellants sought a final review of their
case raising the following as errors: In this case, the trial and appellate courts commonly
concluded that there was intent to kill on the part of the
I appellants and that they employed abuse of superior strength
to ensure the execution and success of the crime. The appellate
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN GIVING CREDENCE TO THE court even adopted the trial courts finding and conclusion
INCREDIBLE AND INCONSISTENT TESTIMONIES OF THE PROSECUTION that as Ric punched the victim in the shoulder and appellant
WITNESSES. Elizer delivered the fatal stab wound, this combined assault
gave them the advantage over the victim who must have been The events leading to the stabbing further disprove any
taken by surprise. Although the victim struck at accused with finding of deliberate intent on the part of the assailants to
a piece of wood, he did so only after he had been stabbed, abuse their superior strength over that of the victim. The
causing the two accused to run away.[19] testimonies of the prosecutions witnesses, on the whole, show
that the incident between the victim and his assailants was
This reasoning is erroneous. unplanned and unpremeditated. The assailants were in pursuit
of Bughao when the victim advised them to go home since it was
Abuse of superior strength is present whenever there is already late at night. There was indeed no conscious attempt
a notorious inequality of forces between the victim and the on the part of the assailants to use or take advantage of any
aggressor, assuming a situation of superiority of strength superior strength that they then enjoyed. Particularly, it has
notoriously advantageous for the aggressor selected or taken not been clearly established that the appellants, with an
advantage of by him in the commission of the crime.[20] The fact advantage in number, purposely resorted to punching the victim
that there were two persons who attacked the victim does not and delivering a fatal stab wound. Neither has it been shown
per se establish that the crime was committed with abuse of that the victim was simply overwhelmed by the fist blows
superior strength, there being no proof of the relative delivered by Ric and Elizers act of stabbing him. The evidence
strength of the aggressors and the victim.[21] The evidence must on this matter is too insufficient for a definitive
establish that the assailants purposely sought the advantage, conclusion. What has been shown with certainty and clarity is
or that they had the deliberate intent to use this the appellants intent to kill, as shown by the stab wound in
advantage.[22] To take advantage of superior strength means to the left side of the victims body which resulted in his death
purposely use excessive force out of proportion to the means two days later. As the knife wielder, Elizer is guilty of
of defense available to the person attacked.[23] The assaulting and killing the victim.
appreciation of this aggravating circumstance depends on the
age, size, and strength of the parties.[24] In view of the foregoing, we are compelled to rule out
the presence of abuse of superior strength as a qualifying
The prosecution in this case failed to adduce evidence circumstance. Hence, appellants guilt must be limited to the
of a relative disparity in age, size and strength, or force, crime of homicide.
except for the showing that two assailants, one of them
(Elizer) armed with a knife, assaulted the victim. The The Trial Courts Finding on
presence of two assailants, one of them armed with a knife, the Credibility of the
does not ipso facto indicate an abuse of superior Prosecution Witnesses
strength.[25] Mere superiority in numbers is not indicative of
the presence of this circumstance.[26] Neither did the
prosecution present proof to show that the victim suffered Elizer maintains that his guilt was not established
from an inferior physical condition from which the beyond reasonable doubt since the testimonies of the witnesses
circumstance can be inferred. In fact, there is evidence that of the prosecution were incredible and materially
the victim was able to get hold of a piece of wood and deliver inconsistent. He argues that Acope, Jr. testified that the
retaliatory blows against the knife-wielder, Elizer.[27] victim immediately went out of his house and approached Bughao,
but Bughao declared in the witness stand that the victim came
out of his abode 20 minutes after hearing his shout. He also
finds it incredible that Bughao did not bother to take the made in the belief that he would not survive his injury. The
victim to the hospital and report the incident to the police declarations by the victim certainly relate to circumstances
after the assailants fled the scene of the crime. pertaining to his impending death and he would have been
competent to testify had he survived in view of the general
We are not persuaded. It has been consistently held that presumption that a witness is competent to testify.
appellate courts, as a rule, will not disturb the findings of
the trial court on the credibility of witnesses. We have The victim also executed a Sworn Statement[32] on May 7, 2002,
sustained trial courts in this respect, considering their while in serious condition in the hospital, declaring that the
vantage point in their evaluation of testimonial evidence, appellants assaulted him and it was Elizer who delivered his
absent x x x any showing of serious error or irregularity that fatal stab wound. His dying declaration and sworn statement,
otherwise would alter the result of the case.[28] Here, we find taken together with the findings and conclusions of the trial
no serious irregularity. court, establish the guilt of the appellants beyond reasonable
doubt.
Besides, the inconsistencies ascribed to the prosecution
witnesses involve minor details, too trivial to adversely The Penalty
affect their credibility. Said inconsistencies do not depart
from the fact that these witnesses saw the fatal stabbing of Having established Elizers guilt beyond reasonable doubt for
the victim by Elizer. To the extent that inconsistencies were the crime of homicide, he must suffer the penalty imposed by
in fact shown, they appear to us to relate to details of law. The crime of homicide is punishable by reclusion
peripheral significance which do not negate or dissolve the temporal.[33] Since there are no mitigating or aggravating
positive identification [by said eyewitnesses of Elizer] as circumstances, the penalty should be fixed in its medium
the perpetrator of the crime.[29] period.[34] Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law,[35] he
should be sentenced to an indeterminate term, the minimum of
Further, the failure of Bughao to immediately report the which is within the range of the penalty next lower in
incident to the police authorities and to extend help to the degree, i.e., prision mayor, and the maximum of which is that
victim cannot destroy his credibility as a witness. There is properly imposable under the Revised Penal
no standard of behavior when a person becomes a witness to a Code, i.e., reclusion temporal in its medium period.
shocking or gruesome event.[30] The workings of a human mind
placed under severe emotional stress are unpredictable and Thus, the proper and precise prison sentence that should be
people react differently x x x.[31] The determining factor to imposed must be within the indeterminate term of six (6) years
consider is that Bughao testified in candid and and one (1) day to twelve (12) years of prision mayor as
straightforward manner and implicated Elizer and Ric as the minimum to fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months and one (1)
perpetrators of the crime. day to seventeen (17) years and four (4) months of reclusion
temporal as maximum.
Aside from the eyewitness testimonies of the prosecution
witnesses, the dying declaration of the victim also The Award of Damages
established the guilt of the appellants beyond reasonable
doubt. He was well aware of his imminent death and his The trial court awarded, and the appellate court affirmed,
declaration that Elizer was responsible for his stab wound was actual damages to the heirs of the victim in the amounts
of P6,000.00 as funeral expenses and P9,411.85 as medical and barangay tanod.[42] This is equivalent to the sum
expenses incurred as a result of the incident. However, our of P36,000.00 per annum. Pursuant to the American Expectancy
review of the records revealed that the award was not Table of Mortality, which has been adopted in this
substantiated by any evidence. There was no competent proof on jurisdiction, the formula for the computation of loss of
the specific amounts of actual damages allegedly incurred and earning capacity is provided as follows:
this omission cannot be supplied by a broad and general
stipulation during trial that the victims wife would testify Net Earning Capacity (X) = Life Expectancy x (Gross Annual
on the damages brought about by the commission of the crime. In Income Living Expenses, e.g., 50% of Gross Annual Income)
the absence of proof on the exact sum of actual damages, there
was no basis for granting the same. Credence can be given only Life expectancy is determined in accordance with the following
to claims which are duly supported by receipts.[36] The award formula:
of actual damages should consequently be deleted as there were
no receipts presented evidencing the expenses allegedly Life Expectancy = 2/3 x (80 age of deceased)[43]
incurred. Accordingly, the unearned income of Acope, Sr., is:

However, as the heirs of the victim clearly incurred medical


and funeral expenses, P25,000.00 by way of temperate damages X = 2(80-46) x (P36,000.00 P18,000.00)
should be awarded.[37] This award is adjudicated so that a right 3
which has been violated may be recognized or vindicated, and = 22.667 x P18,000.00
not for the purpose of indemnification.[38] = P408,006.00

When death results as a consequence of the crime, the heirs In applying the formula and computation for net income stated
of the deceased are entitled to the amount of P50,000.00 as above, the amount of loss of earning capacity is the exact sum
indemnity for the death of the victim without need of any of P408,006.00.
evidence or proof of damages.[39] Accordingly, we award said
sum to the heirs of the victim, Acope, Sr. WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision is MODIFIED as follows:

Moral damages are mandatory in cases of murder and homicide 1.Elizer Beduya is held guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
without need of allegation and proof other than the death of crime of homicide and shall accordingly suffer an
the victim. Consistent with this rule, we award the amount indeterminate prison term of eight (8) years and one (1) day
of P50,000.00 as moral damages in accordance with prevailing of prision mayor as minimum to fourteen (14) years, eight (8)
jurisprudence.[40] months and one (1) day of reclusion temporal as maximum;

The trial court was correct in awarding indemnity for the loss 2. Elizer Beduya is ordered to pay the victims heirs the
of earning capacity of the victim. However, the computation amounts of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral
for this award should be more accurate. damages, P25,000.00 as temperate damages in lieu of actual
damages, and P408,006.00 as indemnity for loss of earning
Acope, Sr., was 46 years old on the day he died.[41] He earned capacity. SO ORDERED.
an average of P3,000.00 a month as a farmer
Republic of the Philippines in Tangub City that had pronounced them guilty of homicide
Supreme Court aggravated by dwelling.[3]
Baguio City
THIRD DIVISION With treachery having attended the killing, we affirm
the CA but correct the civil liability to accord with
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 158362 pertinent law and jurisprudence.
Plaintiff-Appellee,
Present: Antecedents

CARPIO MORALES, Chairperson, On October 7, 1999, an information for murder was


- versus - BRION, filed in the Regional Trial Court in Misamis Occidental
BERSAMIN, (RTC) against all the accused,[4] the accusatory portion of
VILLARAMA, JR., and which reads:
GILBERTO VILLARICO, SR. @ SERENO, JJ.
BERTING, GILBERTO VILLARICO, Promulgated: That on or about August 8, 1999, at about 7:50 oclock
JR., JERRY RAMENTOS, and in the morning at Barangay Bolinsong, Municipality of
RICKY VILLARICO, April 4, 2011 Bonifacio, Province of Misamis Occidental, Philippines,
Accused-Appellants. and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
x--------------------------------------------x above-named accused, conspiring, confederating and
D E C I S I O N mutually helping one another, with intent to kill, armed
with a short firearms (sic), did then and there willfully,
BERSAMIN, J: unlawfully, feloniously suddenly and treacherously shoot
HAIDE CAGATAN at the back penetrating through the neck
The identification of the accused as the person responsible which cause(d) the instant death of said victim and that
for the imputed crime is the primary duty of the State in he had no chance to avoid or defend himself from the attack.
every criminal prosecution. Such identification, to be
positive, need not always be by direct evidence from an CONTRARY TO LAW.
eyewitness, for reliable circumstantial evidence can
equally confirm it as to overcome the constitutionally
presumed innocence of the accused. All the accused pleaded not guilty at their December
15, 1999 arraignment.
On appeal by the accused is the decision of the Court
of Appeals (CA) promulgated on June 6, 2003,[1] finding Version of the Prosecution
Gilberto Villarico, Sr., Gilberto Villarico, Jr., Jerry
Ramentos,[2] and Ricky Villarico guilty of murder for the At around 7:50 p.m. on August 8, 1999, Haide was busy
killing of Haide Cagatan, and imposing the penalty preparing dinner in the kitchen of his familys residence
of reclusion perpetua on each of them, thereby modifying in Bolinsong, Bonifacio, Misamis Occidental. The kitchen,
the decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 16, located at the rear of the residence, had a wall whose
upper portion was made of three-feet high bamboo slats (sa-
sa) and whose lower portion was also made of bamboo slats Gilberto, Sr. claimed that he was sleeping in his home
arranged like a chessboard with four-inch gaps in between. with a fever when he heard a gunshot. He insisted that he
At that time, Haides sister-in-law Remedios Cagatan was learned that Haide had been shot only in the next
attending to her child who was answering the call of nature morning.[9] His denial and alibi were corroborated by his
near the toilet. From where she was, Remedios saw all the wife Carmelita[10] and his daughter Jersel.[11]
accused as they stood at the rear of the kitchen aiming
their firearms at the door Ricky Villarico was at the left Gilberto, Jr. testified that on the day of the
side, and Gilberto, Jr. stood behind him, while Gilberto, incident, he went to Liloan, Bonifacio, Misamis Occidental
Sr. was at the right side, with Ramentos behind him. When at around 5:00 p.m. to visit his girlfriend together with
Gilberto, Jr. noticed Remedios, he pointed his gun at her, Charlie Bacus and Randy Hernan. They stayed there
prompting Remedios to drop to the ground and to shout to until 9:00 p.m. Thereafter, they proceeded to Tiaman to
Lolita Cagatan, her mother-in-law and Haides mother: Nay, attend the wake for one Helen Oligario Cuizon, and were
Nay tawo Nay (Mother, mother, there are people outside, there for an hour. They then returned to Bolinsong and
mother). At that instant, Remedios heard three gunshots.[5] spent the night in the house of Randy. It was only in the
morning that Randys father informed them that Haide had
Francisco Cagatan, the father of Haide, also heard been shot. [12]
the gunshots just as he was coming out of the toilet, making
him instinctively jump into a hole, from where he was able Ricky declared that he stayed throughout the whole
to see and recognize Gilberto, Sr., Gilberto, Jr. and Ricky evening of August 8, 1999 in the house of his aunt
who were then standing by the kitchen door. They were aiming Flordeliza.[13] Myrna Hernan, a neighbor of Flordeliza,
their guns upward, and soon after left together with corroborated his testimony.[14]
Ramentos.[6]
Ramentos alleged that he was drinking tuba with others
Lolita also heard the gunshots while she was in at the store owned by Cinderella Bacus at the time of the
the sala. She recalled that Haide then came towards her shooting; and that he went home at around 9:00 p.m.after
from the kitchen, asking for help and saying: Tabang kay his group was done drinking. He did not recall hearing any
gipusil ko ni Berting (I was shot by Berting).[7] At that, gunshots while drinking and came to know of the shooting
she and Remedios brought the wounded Haide to Clinica only from a certain Anecito Duyag on the following morning.
Ozarraga, where he was treated for gunshot wounds on his
left scapular region (back of left shoulder) and right To discredit the testimony about Haide being able to
elbow. He succumbed shortly thereafter due to hypovolemic identify his assailants, the Defense presented Peter
shock or massive loss of blood.[8] Ponggos, who narrated that he had been on board a motorcycle
(habal-habal) when Lolita and Remedios asked for his help;
Version of the Defense and that he then aided Lolita and Remedios in bringing
Haide to the hospital. According to Peter, he asked Haide
The accused denied the accusations and each proffered who had shot him, but Haide replied that there had been
an alibi. only one assailant whom he did not recognize.[15]

Ruling of the RTC


inclined to believe the second interpretation because the
After trial, the RTC convicted the four accused of victim was able to see and identify his assailants. Two
homicide aggravated by dwelling, disposing:[16] prosecution witnesses testified that the victim identified
to them who shot him.[18]
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court finds all the Ruling of the CA
accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
Homicide, with one aggravating circumstance of dwelling, On intermediate review, the CA modified the RTCs decision,
and applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, hereby holding instead that murder was established beyond
sentences each one of them to a penalty of imprisonment reasonable doubt because the killing was attended by
ranging from 6 years and 1 day, as its minimum to 17 years, treachery, viz: [19]
4 months and 1 day, as its maximum, to suffer the accessory
penalties provided for by law, to pay jointly and WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision is hereby MODIFIED.
solidarily, the heirs of the victim P50,000.00, as civil Pursuant to Section 13, paragraph 2 of Rule 124 of the
liability and to pay the costs. Rules of Criminal Procedure, We render JUDGMENT without
entering it, as follows:
Let all the accused be credited of the time that they
were placed in jail under preventive imprisonment, applying 1. We find all accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
the provisions of Art. 29 of the Revised Penal Code, as MURDER. Each accused is hereby SENTENCED TO SUFFER the
amended. penalty of reclusion perpetua.

SO ORDERED. 2. The Division Clerk of Court is hereby directed to


CERTIFY and ELEVATE the entire records of this case to the
The RTC accorded faith to the positive identification of Supreme Court for review.
the accused by the Prosecutions witnesses, and disbelieved
their denial and alibis due to their failure to show the SO ORDERED.[20]
physical improbability for them to be at the crime scene,
for the distances between the crime scene and the places Citing People v. Valdez,[21] the CA explained that the
where the accused allegedly were at the time of the attendance of treachery did not depend on the position of
commission of the crime were shown to range from only 100 the victim at the time of the attack, for the essence of
to 700 meters.[17] The RTC found, however, that the treachery was in the element of surprise the assailants
Prosecution was not able to prove treachery because: purposely adopted to ensure that the victim would not be
able to defend himself. Considering that the accused had
xxx The medical report of gunshot wound left scapular purposely positioned themselves at night outside the door
region which the doctor interpreted to be at the back of to the kitchen from where they could see Haide, who was
the left shoulder is not sufficient to prove treachery, it then busy preparing dinner, through the holes of the
being susceptible to 2 different interpretations: one: that kitchen wall, the CA concluded that Haide was thus left
victim had his back towards his assailants, and two: that unaware of the impending assault against him.
he was actually facing them but he turned around for cover Issues
upon seeing the armed group of Berting. The Court is
In this recourse, the accused raise the following errors: The first duty of the prosecution is not to prove the
crime but to prove the identity of the criminal, for, even
I if the commission of the crime can be established, there
THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING ACCUSED- can be no conviction without proof of the identity of the
APPELLANTS OF MURDER DESPITE FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION TO criminal beyond reasonable doubt.[22] In that regard, an
PROVE THE IDENTITY OF THE ASSAILANT AS WELL AS ACCUSED- identification that does not preclude a reasonable
APPELLANTS GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT. possibility of mistake cannot be accorded any evidentiary
force.[23] The intervention of any mistake or the appearance
II of any weakness in the identification simply means that
THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN CONSIDERING THE the accuseds constitutional right of presumption of
QUALIFYING CIRCUMSTANCE OF TREACHERY, ON THE ASSUMPTION innocence until the contrary is proved is not overcome,
THAT INDEED ACCUSED-APPELLANTS ARE GUILTY. thereby warranting an acquittal,[24] even if doubt may cloud
his innocence.[25]Indeed, the presumption of innocence
The accused contend that the Prosecution witnesses constitutionally guaranteed to every individual is forever
failed to positively identify them as the persons who had of primary importance, and every conviction for crime must
actually shot Haide; that treachery was not attendant rest on the strength of the evidence of the State, not on
because there was no proof showing that they had the weakness of the defense.[26]
consciously and deliberately adopted the mode of attacking
the victim; and that assuming that they committed the The accused contend that the Prosecution witnesses did
killing, they could only be convicted of homicide. not actually see who had shot Haide; hence, their
identification as the malefactors was not positively and
The decisive queries are, therefore, the following: credibly made.

(a) Should an identification, to be positive, have to be We cannot uphold the contention of the accused.
made by a witness who actually saw the assailants?
The established circumstances unerringly show that the
(b) Was treachery attendant in the killing of Haide as to four accused were the perpetrators of the fatal shooting
qualify the crime as murder? of Haide. Their identification as his assailants by
Remedios and Francisco was definitely positive and beyond
Ruling reasonable doubt. Specifically, Remedios saw all the four
accused near the door to the kitchen immediately beforethe
We affirm the finding of guilt for the crime of murder, shots were fired and recognized who they were. She even
but modify the civil liability. supplied the detail that Gilberto, Jr. had trained his
firearm towards her once he had noticed her presence at
1. the crime scene. On his part, Francisco attested to seeing
Positive identification refers to proof of identity of the accused near the door to the kitchen holding their
the assailant firearms right after he heard the gunshots, and also
recognized them.
The collective recollections of both Remedios and A. He came from the kitchen at that time when I heard
Francisco about seeing the four accused standing near the gunreports, he said Nay help me because I was shot by
door to the kitchen immediately before and after the Berting.[29]
shooting of Haide inside the kitchen were categorical xxx
enough, and warranted no other logical inference than that
the four accused were the persons who had just shot Haide. Atty. Anonat:
Indeed, neither Remedios nor Francisco needed to have Q. And that affidavit was executed by you at the Bonifacio
actually seen who of the accused had fired at Haide, for Police Station?
it was enough that they testified that the four armed
accused: (a) had strategically positioned themselves by the A. Yes.
kitchen door prior to the shooting of Haide; (b) had still xxx
been in the same positions after the gunshots were fired;
and (c) had continuously aimed their firearms at the Q. And you affirm to the truth of what you have stated in
kitchen door even as they were leaving the crime scene. this affidavit?
A. Yes.
The close relationship of Remedios and Francisco with
Q. On question No. 7 you were asked in this manner Giunsa
the victim as well as their familiarity with the accused
man nimo pagkasayod nga sila maoy responsible sa kamatayon
who were their neighbors assured the certainty of their
sa imong anak? How do you know that they were responsible
identification as Haides assailants. In Marturillas v.
(for) the death of your son? And your answer is this Tungod
People,[27] the Court observed that the familiarity of the
kay ang biktima nakasulti pa man sa wala pa siya namatay
witness with the assailant erased any doubt that the
ug ang iyang pulong mao nga TABANG NAY KAY GIPUSIL KO NILA
witness could have erred; and noted that a witness related
NI BERTING ug nasayod ako nga sila gumikan sa akong mga
to the victim had a natural tendency to remember the faces
testigos. which translated into English Because the victim
of the person involved in the attack on the victim, because
was able to talk before he died and the words which he told
relatives, more than anybody else, would be concerned with
me help me Nay I am shot by the group of Berting and I know
seeking justice for the victim and bringing the malefactor
this because of my witnesses. [30]
before the law.[28]
xxx
Moreover, the following portions of Lolitas testimony The statement of Haide to his mother that he had just
show that Haide himself recognized and identified his been shot by the group of Berting uttered in the immediate
assailants, to wit: aftermath of the shooting where he was the victim was a
true part of the res gestae. The statement was admissible
Atty. Fernandez: against the accused as an exception to the hearsay rule
Q. And where were you at that time when he was shot? under Section 42, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court, which
provides:
A. In the sala.
Q. Could you possibly tell the Honorable Court what Section 42. Part of the res gestae. - Statements made
actually took place when your son was shot? by a person while a startling occurrence is taking place
or immediately prior or subsequent thereto with respect to
the circumstances thereof, may be given in evidence as part We find that the requisites concurred herein. Firstly, the
of the res gestae. So, also, statements accompanying an principal act the shooting of Haide was a startling
equivocal act material to the issue, and giving it a legal occurrence. Secondly, his statement to his mother about
significance, may be received as part of the res being shot by the group of Berting was made before Haide
gestae. (36 a) had time to contrive or to devise considering that it was
uttered immediately after the shooting. And, thirdly, the
The term res gestae refers to those circumstances which are statement directly concerned the startling occurrence
the undesigned incidents of a particular litigated act and itself and its attending circumstance (that is, the
which are admissible when illustrative of such act.[31] In identities of the assailants). Verily, the statement was
a general way, res gestae includes the circumstances, reliable as part of the res gestae for being uttered in
facts, and declarations that grow out of the main fact and spontaneity and only in reaction to the startling
serve to illustrate its character and which are so occurrence.
spontaneous and contemporaneous with the main fact as to
exclude the idea of deliberation and fabrication.[32] The In the face of the positive identification of all the
rule on res gestae encompasses the exclamations and four accused, it did not matter whether only one or two of
statements made by either the participants, victims, or them had actually fired the fatal shots. Their actions
spectators to a crime immediately before, during, indicated that a conspiracy existed among them. Indeed, a
or immediately after the commission of the crime when the conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an
circumstances are such that the statements were made as agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide
a spontaneous reaction or utterance inspired by the to commit it.[36] Direct proof of a previous agreement among
excitement of the occasion and there was no opportunity the accused to commit the crime is not necessary,[37] for
for the declarant to deliberate and to fabricate a false conspiracy may be inferred from the conduct of the accused
statement.[33] at the time of their commission of the crime that evinces
a common understanding among them on perpetrating the
The test of admissibility of evidence as a part of the res crime.[38] Thus, the concerted acts of the four manifested
gestae is whether the act, declaration, or exclamation is their agreement to kill Haide, resulting in each of them
so intimately interwoven or connected with the principal being guilty of the crime regardless of whether he actually
fact or event that it characterizes as to be regarded a fired at the victim or not. It is axiomatic that once
part of the principal fact or event itself, and also whether conspiracy is established, the act of one is the act of
it clearly negatives any premeditation or purpose to all;[39] and that all the conspirators are then liable as
manufacture testimony.[34] A declaration or an utterance is co-principals.[40]
thus deemed as part of the res gestae that is admissible
in evidence as an exception to the hearsay rule when the But did not the fact that the name Berting without any
following requisites concur: (a) the principal act, the res surname being too generic open the identification of the
gestae, is a startling occurrence; (b) the statements were accused as the assailants to disquieting doubt about their
made before the declarant had time to contrive or devise; complicity?
and (c) the statements must concern the occurrence in
question and its immediately attending circumstances.[35] We hold that there was no need for a surname to be attached
to the nickname Berting in order to insulate the
identification by Haide from challenge. The victims res the accused is the author of the crime to the exclusion of
gestaestatement was only one of the competent and reliable all others. If the actual eyewitnesses are the only ones
pieces of identification evidence. As already shown, the allowed to possibly positively identify a suspect or
accused were competently incriminated also by Remedios and accused to the exclusion of others, then nobody can ever
Francisco in a manner that warranted the logical inference be convicted unless there is an eyewitness, because it is
that they, and no others, were the assailants. Also, that basic and elementary that there can be no conviction until
Berting was the natural nickname for a person whose given and unless an accused is positively identified. Such a
name was Gilberto, like herein accused Gilberto, Sr. and proposition is absolutely absurd, because it is settled
Gilberto, Jr., was a matter of common knowledge in that direct evidence of the commission of a crime is not
the Philippines. In fine, the pieces of identification the only matrix wherefrom a trial court may draw its
evidence, including Haides res gestae statement, conclusion and finding of guilt. If resort to
collaborated to render their identification unassailable. circumstantial evidence would not be allowed to prove
identity of the accused on the absence of direct evidence,
Relevantly, the Court has distinguished two types of then felons would go free and the community would be denied
positive identification in People v. Gallarde,[41] namely: proper protection.[42]
(a) that by direct evidence, through an eyewitness to the
very commission of the act; and (b) that by circumstantial To conclude, the identification of a malefactor, to
evidence, such as where the accused is last seen with the be positive and sufficient for conviction, does not always
victim immediately before or after the crime. The Court require direct evidence from an eyewitness; otherwise, no
said: conviction will be possible in crimes where there are no
eyewitnesses. Indeed, trustworthy circumstantial evidence
xxx Positive identification pertains essentially to proof can equally confirm the identification and overcome the
of identity and not per se to that of being an eyewitness constitutionally presumed innocence of the accused.
to the very act of commission of the crime. There are two
types of positive identification. A witness may identify a Faced with their positive identification, the four accused
suspect or accused in a criminal case as the perpetrator had to establish convincing defenses. They opted to rely
of the crime as an eyewitness to the very act of the on denial and their respective alibis, however, but both
commission of the crime. This constitutes direct evidence. the RTC and the CA rightly rejected such defenses.
There may, however, be instances where, although a witness
may not have actually seen the very act of commission of a The rejection was warranted. Long judicial experience
crime, he may still be able to positively identify a instructs that their denial and alibis, being too easy to
suspect or accused as the perpetrator of a crime as for invent, could not overcome their positive identification
instance when the latter is the person or one of the persons by credible Prosecution witnesses whose motives for the
last seen with the victim immediately before and right identification were not shown to be ill or vile. Truly, a
after the commission of the crime. This is the second type positive identification that is categorical, consistent,
of positive identification, which forms part of and devoid of any showing of ill or vile motive on the part
circumstantial evidence, which, when taken together with of the Prosecution witnesses always prevails over alibi and
other pieces of evidence constituting an unbroken chain, denial that are in the nature of negative and self-serving
leads to only fair and reasonable conclusion, which is that evidence.[43]To be accepted, the denial and alibi must be
substantiated by clear and convincing evidence establishing the kitchen of his own abode with getting dinner ready for
not only that the accused did not take part in the the household. He was absolutely unaware of the imminent
commission of the imputed criminal act but also that it deadly assault from outside the kitchen, and was for that
was physically impossible for the accused to be at or near reason in no position to defend himself or to repel his
the place of the commission of the act at or about the time assailants.
of its commission. In addition, their proffered alibis were
really unworthy of credit because only the accused The argument of the accused that the Prosecution did
themselves and their relatives and other intimates not show that they had consciously and deliberately adopted
substantiated them.[44] the manner of killing Haide had no substance, for the
2. testimonies of Remedios and Francisco disclose the
The essence of treachery is in the mode of attack, not in contrary.
the relative position of the victim and the assailant
Remedios testimony about seeing the four accused
The RTC ruled out the attendance of treachery due to its taking positions near the door to the kitchen immediately
persuasion that the victim must have been facing his preceding the shooting of Haide was as follows:
assailants at the time of the assault and was thus not
taken by surprise. The CA differed from the RTC, however, Atty. Fernandez:
and stressed that regardless of the position of the victim, xxx
the essence of treachery was the element of surprise that
the assailants purposely adopted to ensure that the victim Q. Were you present when the late Haide Cagatan was shot?
was not able to defend himself.[45] A. Yes, I was present.
We uphold the ruling of the CA. Q. Could you possibly tell the Court in what particular
place you were when the alleged incident took place?
There is treachery when: (a) at the time of the A. I was in the ground floor.
attack, the victim was not in a position to defend himself;
and (b) the accused consciously and deliberately adopted Q. What were you doing there?
the particular means, methods, or forms of attack employed A. I attended my child (to) answer(ing) the call of his
by him.[46] The essence of treachery lies in the suddenness (sic) nature.
of the attack that leaves the victim unable to defend
Q. Now, could you possibly describe before this Honorable
himself, thereby ensuring the commission of the
Court, Mrs. Cagatan, the exact event that took place when
offense.[47] It is the suddenness of the attack coupled with
the alleged shooting incident took place in your presence?
the inability of the victim to defend himself or to
retaliate that brings about treachery; consequently, A. At that time, I attended my child (to) answer(ing) the
treachery may still be appreciated even if the victim was call of (his) nature and after doing that when I was about
facing the assailant.[48] to stand up to go up I saw the Villaricos was (sic) at the
back of the kitchen.
Here, the elements of treachery were present. His Q. At the time you saw them was (sic) any one of them saw
assailants gunned Haide down while he was preoccupied in you likewise?
A. There was. A. They were also dropping themselves on the ground and
aimed their guns.
Q. Who was he?
Q. To what particular object that they were aiming their
A. Gilberto Villarico, Jr.
guns?
Q. At that precise time when you saw them and one of them
A. To the door of our kitchen.
saw you, what did Villarico, Jr. do?
Q. How about Ramientos, where was he at that time when you
A. He aimed his gun to me.
saw the accused pointing their guns towards the door of
Q. Could you possibly demonstrate that to the Court? your kitchen?
A. (Witness demonstrated by squatting position) A. Ramientos was standing behind Gilberto Villarico Sr.[49]
Q. Now at that precise moment when you saw Villarico, Jr.
on a squatting position pointing his gun at you, what was Likewise, Francisco saw the four accused in the same
the exact action that you did? positions that Remedios had seen them moments prior to the
A. When he aimed his gun to me I immediately dropped to shooting. He claimed that they were aiming their firearms
the ground. at the kitchen and continued aiming their firearms even as
they were leaving the crime scene, viz:
xxx
Q. Since you were personally present could you still Atty. Fernandez:
remember Mrs. Cagatan how many gun burst you head at that xxx
precise moment when you dropped to the ground because
Villarico Jr. was aiming his gun at you. How many gun burst Q. Now you said that you saw all of the accused at the time
did you hear? when your late son Haide Cagatan was murdered in the
evening of August 8. Could you possibly explain to this
A. Three gunbursts. Honorable Court at the very first time what did you see?
Q. Let us go back to the time when Villarico, Jr. pointed A. After I came from the toilet I was proceeding to the
his gun to you. Do you still remember what were the other kitchen because Haide was preparing food and he was calling
accused doing or where were they at that time? for dinner. When Haide Cagatan was calling for dinner and
A. I can remember. at the time I was proceeding to the door of the kitchen,
when I was near the door I heard the gun shots.
Q. Please tell the Honorable Court.
Q. At the time when you heard gunshots, what did you do?
A. Gilberto Villarico, Sr. was on the right side; Ricky
Villarico was on the left side and behind Gilberto A. I laid down flat on the ground while my head is (sic)
Villarico, Sr. was Jerry Ramientos and behind Ricky looking up and there I saw the 3 Villaricos bringing a
Villarico is (sic) Gilberto Villarico Jr. revolver. They came from aiming their guns towards upstairs
and they are about to withdraw from that place together
Q. What were Ricky and Gilberto Villarico, Jr. doing at with Jerry Ramientos.
the time?
xxx
Q. Now, since you said that you saw the accused Villaricos, Penalty and Damages
could you possibly tell the Court, what were their
responsible position(s) in relation to the door of the There is no question that the CA justly pronounced
kitchen? all the four accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
A. They were in shooting position as they aimed upward and murder, and punished them with reclusion perpetua pursuant
they were bringing revolver aiming upstairs. to Article 248[52] of the Revised Penal Code, in relation
to Article 63, paragraph 2, of the Revised Penal
Q. In relation to the door of the kitchen, could you Code, considering the absence of any generic aggravating
possibly tell the Court what were their responsible circumstance.
position at that time when you saw them?
A. The four of them were situated in front of the kitchen However, the CA did not explain why it did not review
door. Villarico Jr. and Villarico Sr. were facing each and revise the grant by the RTC of civil liability in the
other while Ricky Villarico and Jerry Ramientos were also amount of only P50,000.00. Thereby, the CA committed a
facing each other.[50] plainly reversible error for ignoring existing laws, like
Article 2206 of the Civil Code,[53] which prescribes a death
The testimonies of Remedios and Francisco on how and indemnity separately from moral damages, and Article 2230
where the four accused had deliberately and strategically of the Civil Code,[54] which requires exemplary damages in
positioned themselves could not but reveal their deliberate case of death due to crime when there is at least one
design to thereby ensure the accomplishment of their design aggravating circumstance; and applicable jurisprudence,
to kill Haide without any possibility of his escape or of specifically, People v. Gutierrez,[55] where we held that
any retaliation from him. Aptly did the CA observe: moral damages should be awarded to the heirs without need
of proof or pleading in view of the violent death of the
A perusal of the information shows that treachery was victim, and People v.Catubig,[56] where we ruled that
properly alleged to qualify the killing of Heide [sic] exemplary damages were warranted whenever the crime was
Cagatan to murder. The prosecution was likewise able to attended by an aggravating circumstance, whether qualifying
prove treachery through the element of surprise rendering or ordinary. Here, the aggravating circumstance of
the victim unable to defend himself. In this case, the treachery, albeit attendant or qualifying in its effect,
evidence shows that the victim, who was in the kitchen justified the grant of exemplary damages.
preparing dinner, could be seen from the outside through
the holes of the wall. The witnesses consistently described Plain oversight might have caused both the RTC and
the kitchens wall as three feet high bamboo splits (sa- the CA to lapse into the serious omissions. Nonetheless, a
sa), accented with bamboo splits woven to look like a rectification should now be made, for, indeed, gross
chessboard with 4-inch holes in between. The accused- omissions, intended or not, should be eschewed. It is
appellants, likewise, positioned themselves outside the timely, therefore, to remind and to exhort all the trial
kitchen door at night where the victim could not see them. and appellate courts to be always mindful of and to apply
When the accused-appellants shot him, he was caught the pertinent laws and jurisprudence on the kinds and
unaware.[51] amounts of indemnities and damages appropriate in criminal
cases lest oversight and omission will unduly add to the
3. sufferings of the victims or their heirs. Nor should the
absence of specific assignment of error thereon inhibit RAMENTOS, and RICKY VILLARICO guilty of murder and sentencing
the sua sponte rectification of the omissions, for the each of them to suffer reclusion perpetua, subject to the
grant of allthe proper kinds and amounts of civil liability modification that they are held jointly and solidarily liable
to the victim or his heirs is a matter of law and judicial to pay to the heirs of the late Haide Cagatan death indemnity
policy not dependent upon or controlled by an assignment of P75,000.00, moral damages of P75,000.00, and exemplary
damages ofP30,000.00. The accused shall pay the costs of suit.
of error. An appellate tribunal has a broad discretionary SO ORDERED.
power to waive the lack of proper assignment of errors and
to consider errors not assigned,[57] for technicality should
not be allowed to stand in the way of equitably and
completely resolving the rights and obligations of the
parties. Indeed, the trend in modern day procedure is to
accord broad discretionary power such that the appellate
court may consider matters bearing on the issues submitted
for resolution that the parties failed to raise or that
the lower court ignored.[58]

Consistent with prevailing jurisprudence, we grant to


the heirs of Haide P75,000.00 as death
indemnity;[59] P75,000.00 as moral
damages;[60] and P30,000.00 as exemplary
damages.[61] As clarified in People v. Arbalate,[62] damages
in such amounts are to be granted whenever the accused are
adjudged guilty of a crime covered by Republic Act No.
7659, like the murder charged and proved herein. Indeed,
the Court, observing in People v. Sarcia,[63] citing People
v. Salome[64] and People v. Quiachon,[65] that the principal
consideration for the award of damages xxx is the penalty
provided by law or imposable for the offense because of
its heinousness, not the public penalty actually imposed
on the offender, announced that:

The litmus test[,] therefore, in the determination of the


civil indemnity is the heinous character of the crime committed,
which would have warranted the imposition of the death penalty,
regardless of whether the penalty actually imposed is reduced
to reclusion perpetua.

WHEREFORE, we affirm the decision promulgated on June 6,


2003 in CA-G.R. CR No. 24711, finding GILBERTO VILLARICO, SR.,
GILBERTO VILLARICO, JR., JERRY
THIRD DIVISION prejudice of the heirs of said victim in such amount as
[G.R. No. 134138. June 21, 2001] may be awarded under the provisions of the New Civil Code.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. EDMUNDO BRIONES Upon his arraignment on September 30, 1992, appellant,
AYTALIN, appellant. assisted by Counsel de Oficio Voltaire Agas, pleaded not
guilty.[2] Trial ensued and, thereafter, the court a
D E C I S I O N quo rendered its Decision, the dispositive portion of which
PANGANIBAN, J.: reads as follows:

Absent any qualifying circumstance, the crime should be WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing facts and
merely homicide, not murder. In order to qualify the considerations, and the positive identification by the
killing as murder, evident premeditation or treachery must prosecution witnesses, this court finds the accused Edmundo
be established as clearly as the killing itself. Briones Aytalin guilty beyond reasonable doubt as charged
in the above information of the crime of murder as defined
The Case in Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code and sentences him
to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and indemnify
Before us is an appeal filed by Edmundo Briones Aytalin, the heirs of the victim in the amount of P500,000.
assailing the May 13, 1998 Decision[1] of the Regional Trial
Court of Quezon City (Branch 97) in Criminal Case No. Q- Hence, this appeal.[3]
91-26824. The Decision convicted him of murder, sentenced
him to reclusion perpetua, and ordered him to indemnify the The Facts
heirs of the victim in the amount of P500,000.
Version of the Prosecution
In the Information dated November 25, 1995, Assistant
City Prosecutor Nelson E. Kallos charged appellant with The Office of the Solicitor General, in its
murder allegedly committed as follows: Brief,[4] narrates the factual incidents of the case in this
manner:
That on or about the 23rd day of December 1990, in Quezon
City, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction At around 4:20 oclock in the afternoon of December 23,
of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with 1990, appellant Edmundo Aytalin shot Eleazar Aquino four
intent to kill, with evident premeditation and by means of times along Iba St., Brgy. San Isidro Labrador, Quezon
treachery, did, then and there willfully, unlawfully and City. After shooting the latter, appellant looked at the
feloniously and without any justifiable cause, attack, crowd and the prostrate victim. He then entered a house,
assault and employ personal violence upon the person of came out with a long gun, and boarded a taxi with his
one ELEAZAR AQUINO, by then and there shooting [the victim] wife. Aquino was rushed to the National Orthopedic
with a gun (cal. 22, Rev. SN 683541) several times, hitting Hospital, where he died the following day.
him on the different parts of his body, thereby inflicting
upon him serious and mortal wounds which were the direct After the incident, Captain Philmore Balmaceda brought
and immediate cause of his death, to the damage and appellant and his (appellants) .22 caliber revolver used
in the shooting, as well as four (4) empty shells and two testified thus: Ang pagkakaalam ko ho ay yung pagkabaril
live ammunition of the gun to the Quezon City Police. po sa kanya ni Edmund Aytalin. (TSN p.12, 1/15/93)

An autopsy (was) conducted on the body of Aquino by Dr. The Trial Courts Ruling
Emmanuel Aranas of the PNP Crime Laboratory. After
examining the cadaver, Aranas found a gunshot wound on the Finding the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt, the
left side of the forehead of Aquino, and recovered a trial court explained its ruling as follows:
deformed caliber .22 slug embedded on the left side of the
brain of the deceased, which slug the doctor submitted to The Court finds that positive identification of the accused
the Ballistics Division of the crime laboratory for Edmundo Aytalin as the assailant of Eleazar Aquino by
examination.Aranas concluded that based on his findings, witnesses Antonio Ortega and Anacleto Reyes, whose
the cause of death of the victim [was] hemorrhage due to credibility has not been impaired demonstrates the
the gunshot wound in the head. The ballistics test culpability of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.
conducted by the PNP Crime Laboratory revealed that the
deformed slug recovered from the brain of the deceased was The cause of death of Eleazar Aquino has been sufficiently
fired from the gun of the appellant. established by prosecution evidence other than the autopsy
report. Oral testimony linking the death of the victim to
Version of the Defense the wound inflicted by the firearm which was wielded by
the accused is sufficient. The firearm in question appears
On the other hand, appellant presents this version of to be recovered from the accused and linked to him by the
the facts:[5] testimony of ballistics expert Reynaldo De Guzman. x x x

Upon being arraigned, accused entered a plea of NOT Thus, it appears to this Court that on December 23, 1990,
GUILTY. A trial on the merits was conducted, and after the at around 4:20 oclock in the afternoon, Eleazar Aquino was
prosecution ha(d) rested its case, accused, through shot along Iba Street, Brgy. San Isidro Labrador, Quezon
counsel, and with leave of court, filed a DEMURRER TO City. Being present at the scene of the incident, Antonio
EVIDENCE. The same was denied. The accused opted not to Ortega (TSN, October 28, 1992, p.21) [and] Anacleto Reyes
present evidence in his defense. Hence, a decision was (TSN, January 15, 1993, pp.8) have positively identified
rendered finding him guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the accused Edmundo Aytalin as the person who shot the
crime of MURDER, for which he was sentenced to suffer a victim. Both Anacleto Reyes (TSN, January 15, 1993, pp.3-
penalty of imprisonment of reclusion perpetua. 4) and Antonio Ortega, (TSN, October 28, 1992, pp.16-20)
knew the accused Edmundo Aytalin as well as the victim
On December 23, 1990, at around 4:20 PM, the alleged victim Eleazar Aquino before the shooting incident. Not long after
Eleazar Aquino was shot along Iba Street, Brgy. San Isidro the shooting, on December 24, 1990, the victim, Eleazar
Labrador, Quezon City. Alleged eyewitnesses to the shooting Aquino, died at the National Orthopedic Hospital to where
pointed to accused as the person who shot the victim. No he was earlier rushed. The fact of death and identity of
motive was established for the shooting. As to the cause the victim is admitted by the defense (TSN, October 28,
of death, the decision assailed relied heavily on the 1992, pp.3-4). The cause of death is as prosecution witness
opinion of the prosecution witness Anacleto Reyes, who Anacleto Reyes testified, thus: Ang pagkakaalam ko, ho, ay
yung pagkabaril po sa kanya ni Edmundo Aytalin (TSN, authentic, (Exhibit A) including the records of the
January 15, 1993, p.12). autopsy, ballistics, hospital, subject to cross-
examination. The defense also admitted in open court,
It appears further that after the shooting incident the without prejudice to the cross examination of the
Quezon City Police through SPO Rosito Calabucal conducted ballistician, that the gun used in the killing of Eleazar
an investigation, taking the statements of witnesses, one Aquino was the same gun which was submitted to the
of which is that of Anacleto Reyes (Exh. B-6; TSN, November ballistics expert.
11, 1992, p.4), and receiving the person of accused Edmundo
Aytalin for detention and the recovered firearm used in x x x x x x x x x
the shooting incident, .22 Caliber, revolver (Ruby) with
serial number 693541, together with four (4) empty shells The prosecution has proven through the testimony of its
or fired cartridges and two (2) live ammunition of .22 witness Antonio Ortega that he used to pass Iba Street
caliber, both from Capt. Philmore E. Balmaceda, who brought while collecting bets for the horse races, and that he
the accused together with the said items to the Quezon City often [saw] the accused there, and that on the time and
Police on December 24, 1990, (Exh. C-1, TSN, November 11, date in question he saw accused and that he knew the face
1992, p.18). x x x. On December 25, 1990, an autopsy was of the accused because he often [saw] him there, and that
conducted on the cadaver of Eleazar Aquino (Exh. B-7, B-7- he saw the accused shoot the victim four times, and that
a) by Dr. Emanuel Aranas of the PNP Crime Laboratory (TSN; he was at that time only seven meters away from the place
December 2, 1992, pp.38-40). In the process of examining of the shooting. He moved back after the shooting, but
the cadaver of the victim herein the medico-legal officer still looked on and he saw the accused go up the house and
found a gunshot wound on the left side of the forehead go down later with a long gun and that the accused rode in
(TSN, December 2, 1992, p. 40, 42) and recovered a deformed a taxi with a woman. x x x.
caliber x x x 22 slug (Exh., G-3-B), marked in his presence
EA (Exh. G-3-c), embedded [i]n the left side of the brain x x x x x x x x x
of Eleazar Aquino (TSN, December 2, 1992, p. 46), which he The court finds the basic testimonies of the above
forwarded to the Ballistics Division of the PNP Crime prosecution witnesses as credible and unassailed, and
Laboratory for ballistics tests (Exh N, TSN, December 2, therefore the court takes them as facts, namely that the
1992, p.49). Based on his findings, Dr. Aranas concluded victim, Eleazar Aquino died of the bullet wound inflicted
that the cause of death of Eleazar Aquino [was] hemorrhage in his head by the accused Edmundo Briones Aytalin, who
due to gunshot wound in the head (Exh. B-7, B-7-a, TSN, wielded the fatal gun, (Exhibit J) and that the bullet
December 2, 1992, p.49). x x x recovered from the head of the victim was indeed fired from
said gun. The accused did not present evidence in his
The identity and the fact of death of the victim and the defense after all the years, since the prosecution rested
identity of the accused as well as the incident being within its case. The Court further finds nothing in the
the jurisdiction of this court have been stipulated in open testimonies of prosecution witnesses that is not factually
court, as well as the fact that the incident had been based and in accordance with common human experience, thus
investigated by the police and a report was rendered on convincing this court of the guilt of the accused beyond
the matter, and that the special power of attorney of the reasonable doubt.[6]
brother to represent the wife of the victim is genuine and
The Issue Nonetheless, we shall address the matters raised by
appellant, if only to show the futility of his assertions.
In his Brief, appellant submits a single issue for the
determination of this Court: First, he alludes to alleged inconsistencies in the
prosecution witnesses testimonies pertaining to the number
Whether or not the accused is guilty of the crime charged of gunshot wounds sustained by the victim. However, this
beyond reasonable doubt[7] detail, being collateral, does not affect the undisputed
The Courts Ruling fact that appellant killed the victim.

Appellant should be convicted only of homicide, not We stress that witnesses testifying on the same event
murder, and the indemnity should be reduced to P50,000. do not have to be consistent in every detail. Slight
differences in their recollections, viewpoints or
Main Issue impressions are inevitable. [10] They are in fact indicative
Sufficiency of Prosecution Evidence of the truth and the sincerity of their testimonies.[11] So
long as the witnesses concur on material points, slight
In challenging the sufficiency of the prosecution variations in their recollections of minor details and
evidence, appellant avers that the testimonies of the other ancillary matters do not destroy the veracity[12] or
prosecution witnesses are full of inconsistencies and the probative value[13] of their statements. Such
contradictions, particularly with respect to the injury inconsistencies do not impair their credibility, especially
sustained by the victim. Appellant likewise assails the when they are consistent in relating the principal
prosecutions supposedly dubious account of how he occurrence and in positively identifying the
perpetrated the attack. Furthermore, he alleges that there assailant.[14] In fact, even the testimony of a single
was no documentary evidence presented to show the cause of witness, if found convincing and credible by the trial
the victims death. Finally, he questions the trial courts court, is sufficient to support a finding of guilt beyond
admission of ballistic evidence presented by a witness who reasonable doubt.[15]
allegedly did not qualify as an expert.
The criminal liability of appellant is clearly indicated
Appellant disputes the trial courts appreciation of the by the definitive statements of prosecution witnesses who
prosecution evidence, but his contentions are bereft of were able to describe with reasonable certainty the fact
merit. Generally accepted is the principle that factual of the killing, as well as to identify him positively as
findings and conclusions of the trial court are entitled the assailant. Their minor inconsistencies in reporting the
to great weight and are generally not disturbed on appeal, injuries or gunshot wounds sustained by the victim were
considering that it had the opportunity to observe the not at all essential in establishing the crime
demeanor of the witnesses and assess their committed. In a case of murder or homicide, it is enough
credibility. [8] Absent any showing that it failed to that the death of the victim and the identity of the
appreciate a fact or circumstance that, if considered, perpetrator be proven beyond reasonable doubt.[16]
would have changed the disposition of the case, its factual Second, appellant claims that the prosecution evidence
findings remain binding upon the Supreme Court.[9] failed to provide a clear picture of how the killing
actually happened and who the real culprit was. On the
contrary, a perusal of the records of the case will reveal A Yes, Sir; hes there. (Witness is pointing to a man
that the prosecution witnesses personally saw the actual wearing a gray shirt who answers by the name of Edmundo
shooting of the victim, as they were within relatively Aytalin, when he was asked to identify himself)
close proximity to the place where it occurred. Moreover, x x x x x x x x x
their account of the fatal shooting depicted how the Q Mr. Witness, do you know the victim, Eleazar Aquino,
accused, armed with a long gun, fled from the scene of the in this case?
crime on board a taxi, with a woman in tow. A I know him, Sir.
Q Under what circumstance or circumstances did you know
In narrating the events that transpired on that fateful this Eleazar Aquino?
day, Prosecution Witness Antonio Ortega explained how he A I met him when I went to the place of my friend, Conrado
came to know of the persons involved in the incident, as Aquino, Sir.
follows: Q Who is this Conrado Aquino Mr. Witness?
A He is the brother of the person who was killed, Sir?
Q Mr. Witness, do you still remember where you were on Q And when you said, the person who was killed, you were
December 23, 1990 at around 4:30 in the afternoon? referring to Eleazar Aquino?
A Yes, Sir. A Yes, Sir, he is the person who died.
Q Kindly tell the Honorable Court where were you on that x x x x x x x x x
date and time cited? Q Now, you said you know about his being shot, do you
A I was on Iba Street, Quezon City, Sir. know who shot him?
Q And while you were at Iba Street, Quezon City, did you A I know it, Sir.
see or witness an unusual incident? Q Have you seen his face?
A There was, Sir. A Yes, Sir.
Q Kindly tell this Honorable Court what that incident Q How were you able to know the person who shot him, Mr.
was[.] Witness?
A I saw a person who was shot, Sir. A I saw it, Sir.
x x x x x x x x x Q When you said you saw it, when did this incident happen
Q Why were you on Iba Street on that date and time you Mr. Witness?
just mentioned? A It was on December 23, 1990 between 4:30 [and] 5:00 in
A Because that is the street I pass by when I am the afternoon[;] it was Sunday, Sir.[17]
collecting bets for Karera. Q Now, Mr. Witness, you stated that you saw the shooting
Q Mr. Witness, do you know the accused in this case? on December 23, 1990 at around 4:00 to 5:00 in the
A I do not know him but I can recognize his face, Sir. afternoon[;] do you remember particularly where that
Q Under what circumstances were you able to recognize shooting that you saw occurred?
the face of the accused in this case? A After Laong Laan going towards Maria Clara, Sir, in
A Because I usually [saw] him on that street when I passed the middle of Iba Street.
there, Sir. Q And, how many shots were fired, Mr. Witness, if you
Q Now, if he is in this courtroom, will you be able to know?
point him to this Honorable Court? A Four, Sir.
Q How far were you from the shooting that you saw?
A It is as [far] as the place where the person in stripes Eleazar Aquino and you mentioned that Edmundo Aytalin
t-shirt is seated, Sir. (Witness is standing and [was] still and I quote: Binabaril pa si Eleazar
pointing to a distance of seven (7) meters, more or Aquino. Now, how many shots did you hear when you
less.) [saw] this situation between the two involved parties?
Q And, what did you do after the shooting? A Four shots, Sir.
A After that, I moved back, Sir. Q When you say four shots, [do they] include the first
Q And, after moving back, what did you do? two shots?
A I still looked after the incident, and I even saw the A I heard two gunshots first and when I turned my back,
man who [fired] go up the house and go down with a I heard again two gunshots and the man was pointing
long gun and r[i]de a taxi with a woman.[18] to Eleazar Aquino who was already lying on the ground.
Corroborating the foregoing testimony of Antonio Ortega, Q What happened next after you saw Edmundo Aytalin
another prosecution witness, Anacleto Reyes, gave a shooting Eleazar Aquino who was lying on the ground
substantially similar account of the fatal shooting. The for two times?
latter related the incidents he witnessed in this wise: x x x x x x x x x
Q Now, in your visit on 23rd December 1990 at around 4:20 COURT: Witness may answer.
in the afternoon of said date, do you remember of any A I saw him [look] at the crowd and [look] at the dead
unusual incident which happened? form, then I saw him [enter] the house, and then he
A There was, Sir. came out with a long gun and boarded a taxi with his
Q Would you kindly tell this Honorable Court what was wife; they went away.
that unusual incident, Mr. Witness? Q What did you do after that?
A There was a shooting incident, Sir. A We picked up Eleazar Aquino and then we saw a taxi,
Q Would you know who were involved in this shooting then we brought him to the hospital.[19]
incident, Mr. Witness?
A Yes, Sir. The foregoing testimonies of the prosecution witnesses
Q Would you kindly tell this Honorable Court who were more than sufficiently established the fact of the killing
involved Mr. Witness? and the identity of the person responsible therefor. Their
A Edmundo Aytalin and Eleazar Aquino, Sir. statements, which were consistent with one another, were
Q How did this happen, Mr. Witness? given in a simple, straightforward manner, mentioning
A We were inside the house of Job Madayag, Sir, and [felt] details that could not have been merely
like urinating, I went outside near the gate of Job fabricated.[20] Well-settled is the rule that between the
Madayag, I heard two [gunshots] and then when I turned positive assertions of prosecution witnesses and the
my back, I saw Edmundo Aytalin still shooting Eleazar negative ones of appellant, the former deserves more
Aquino while Eleazar Aquino was already lying credence and evidentiary weight.[21] All in all, the
down. (Witness demonstrating as if he [were] holding prosecution has satisfied the quantum of evidence required
something with his right hand and pointing forward) in a criminal prosecution, and the trial courts finding
x x x x x x x x x that appellant committed the crime beyond reasonable doubt
Q You mentioned that when you turned your back to where was indubitable and logical under the circumstances.
you heard the gunshots you still saw Edmundo Aytalin
as you demonstrated holding a gun and pointing to
Third, appellant asserts that no documentary evidence appellants acts that supposedly constituted evident
was presented to prove the cause of the victims premeditation and/or treachery.
death. Contrary to his claim, the records of the case show
that the Certificate of Death[22] and the Autopsy For evident premeditation to be appreciated, the
Report, [23] marked Exhibits B-7 and M, respectively, were prosecution must show the following: (1) the time when the
presented by the prosecution. Both documents clearly stated accused determined to commit the crime, (2) an act
that the cause of death of Eleazar Aquino was hemorrhage manifestly indicating that the accused clung to their
due to a gunshot wound in the head. In this regard, we may determination, and (3) a sufficient lapse of time between
well point out that, there being no rule requiring the such a determination and its execution as would have
production of these documentary proofs, the guilt of allowed them to reflect upon the consequences of their
appellant may still be established even without them. act. On the other hand, there is treachery when the
offenders commit any of the crimes against persons by
Finally, appellant argues that the court a quo should employing means, methods, or forms in the execution
not have admitted the testimony of the purported ballistics thereof, tending directly and specially to ensure its
expert, who was not really qualified to be an expert execution without risk to themselves arising from the
witness. It is worth mentioning that his testimony was not defense which the offended party might make. It is present
the basis of the trial courts conclusion that appellant when the attack comes without warning, is sudden and
was guilty. Rather, it relied more on the direct and unexpected, and the unsuspecting victim is not in a
positive testimonies of two eyewitnesses who had seen the position to parry the assault.[25]
shooting incident and identified appellant as the
perpetrator. Evident premeditation, like other circumstances that
would qualify a killing as murder, must be established by
In any event, when presented in court, the testimony of clear and positive evidence[26] showing the planning and the
an expert witness does not serve the purpose of swaying preparation stages prior to the killing.[27] Without such
the judgment in favor of any of the parties, but merely evidence, mere presumptions and inferences, no matter how
assists the judge in resolving the issue under logical and probable, will not suffice.[28] Hence, because
consideration.[24] In the instant case, even without the trial court failed to establish the presence of evident
admitting the assailed expert testimony, the court a premeditation, it erred in using this circumstance to
quo could still have arrived at a decision convicting qualify the killing.[29]
appellant.
Additional Issue: Likewise, treachery cannot be established where no
No Clear Proof of Evident particulars are known regarding the manner in which the
Premeditation or Treachery aggression was carried out, or how it began or
developed.[30] Treachery must be based on positive or
This Court, however, disagrees with the ruling of the conclusive proofs, not mere suppositions or
trial court that the qualifying circumstances of evident speculations.[31] Moreover, it must be proved as clearly and
premeditation and treachery attended the killing. Notably, as convincingly as the killing itself.[32] In the present
its assailed Decision made no reference to any of case, such evidence is wanting.[33]
Absent any qualifying circumstance, the crime committed 3. The indemnity ex delicto awarded to the victims heirs
is not murder, but homicide.[34] is reduced to P50,000.

Amount of Damages to Be Awarded SO ORDERED

The trial court also erred in awarding the amount


of P500,000 as indemnity to the victims heirs. It gave no
basis or explanation for that award.

In accordance with current jurisprudence, when death


occurs as a result of a crime, the victims heirs are
entitled to the amount of P50,000 as indemnity ex
delicto, without need of any evidence or
proof.[35] Accordingly, we reduce such indemnity to that
amount.

Proper Penalty
Considering that the crime committed by appellant was
only homicide, and there being no mitigating or aggravating
circumstance, the imposable penalty as provided in Article
249 -- in conjunction with Article 64(1) of the Revised
Penal Code -- is reclusion temporal in its medium
period. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the proper
penalty should be ten (10) years of prison mayor, as
minimum; to seventeen (17) years and four (4) months
of reclusion temporal, as maximum.

WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision is AFFIRMED with the


following MODIFICATIONS:

1. Appellant is hereby found GUILTY of homicide, not


murder.

2. The penalty imposed by the lower court is hereby


reduced to ten (10) years of prision mayor, as minimum; to
seventeen (17) years and four (4) months of reclusion
temporal, as maximum.
[G.R. No. 122934. January 5, 2001] and unsuspecting and (2) abuse of superior strength, two
of the accused being armed with deadly weapons which they
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ANGEL used in intimidating, threatening and forcing the victim
PRECIADOS (At Large), ARTURO ENAD, EMIGDIO VILLAMOR, to drink the poison.[2]
LEONCIO ALGABRE and FLORIANO ALGABRE @ LOLOY, accused.
In Criminal Case No. 7888, the same persons were charged
ARTURO ENAD, accused-appellant. with frustrated murder. The charge sheet reads:

D E C I S I O N That on or about the 12th to the 13th day of May, 1992, in


the municipality of Sagbayan, province of Bohol,
QUISUMBING, J.: Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating
Accused-appellant Arturo Enad[1] assails the decision and mutually helping with (sic) one another, with intent
rendered by the Regional Trial Court of Tagbilaran City, to kill and without justifiable cause, did then and there
Branch 1, in two consolidated cases, Criminal Case No. 7887 willfully, unlawfully and feloniously pour poison into the
for murder and Criminal Case No. 7888 for frustrated mouth of one Antonio Hilbero thereby inflicting serious
murder. It convicted and sentenced him to reclusion injuries on the victims body; thus, the accused having
perpetua in the first case and to a prison terms of six performed in said manner all the acts of execution which
(6) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as minimum to would have produced the crime of Murder as a consequence,
twelve (12) years and one (1) day of reclusion temporal, but which nevertheless did not produce it by reason of a
as maximum, in the second case. cause independent of their will, that is, by the timely
medical attendance and treatment rendered the damage and
In Criminal Case No. 7887, the Office of the Provincial prejudice of the said offended party in the amount to be
Prosecutor of Bohol charged Angel Preciados, Arturo Enad, proved during the trial (sic).
Emigdio Villamor, Leoncio Algabre, and Floriano Algabre
alias Loloy with murder allegedly committed as follows:
Acts committed contrary to the provisions of Article 248
That on or about the 12th to the 13th day of May 1992, in in relation to Articles 6 and 50 of the Revised Penal Code,
the municipality of Sagbayan, province of Bohol, as amended, with the aggravating circumstances of (1)
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable treachery, the victim being unaware and unsuspecting and
Court, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating (2) abuse of superior of strength two of the accused being
and mutually helping with (sic) one another, with intent armed with deadly weapon which they to used in
to kill and without justifiable cause, did then and there, intimidating, threatening and forcing the victim to drink
willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously pour poison into the the poison.[3]
mouth of one Primo Hilbero whereby causing the victims
untimely death; to the damage and prejudice of the heirs The informations were both dated July 20, 1992 but the
of the deceased in the amount to be proved during the trial. cases were tried before different salas. Branch 4 of the
Regional Trial Court of Tagbilaran City, tried Criminal
Acts committed contrary to the provisions of Article 248 Case No. 7887, while Branch 3 tried Criminal Case No. 7888.
of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, with the aggravating
circumstances of (1) treachery, the victim being unaware
On August 26, 1992, the accused in Criminal Case No. At around 11:00 p.m. of May 12, 1992, Antonio with his
7888 were ordered arrested. But the police failed to common law wife and their two children, his brother, Primo
apprehend any of the accused. Preciados and the Algebres and his wife, Helen with their three children, Antonios
were reported to have gone into hiding in Mindanao, while mother, Dominga, and another brother, Severino were at the
Enad and Villamor went to Cebu City. It was only on July second floor of the old rice mill at Ubujan. Except for
20, 1993, when appellant Arturo Enad was Helen, the clan had retired for the night. She was about
arrested. Arraigned in Criminal Case No. 7887, he pleaded to go to sleep when she noticed Antonio go
not guilty. He waived pre-trial and the case was set for downstairs.Minutes later, her husband Primo, followed
trial. him. Then she heard someone utter, Dont move. Alarmed, she
rose from her mat and peeped through a two-inch hole in
On September 13, 1993, Judge Achilles L. Melicor of
the floor.[5] The ground floor was illuminated by
Branch 4, RTC of Tagbilaran City, inhibited himself from
moonlight. She saw appellant holding a hand grenade while
Criminal Case No. 7887, since the accused were the
his other arm was locked in a stranglehold around the neck
political leaders of Mayor Arthur Melicor-Aana, his cousin,
of Antonio who knelt on the floor.[6] Nearby stood Angel
while the victims were supporters of the mayors political
Preciados with a gun pointed at Antonio.[7] She then heard
rival, Narzal B. Ermac.
Emigdio Villamor say Dont move so that your family will
On February 14, 1994, Criminal Case No. 7888 was revived not die. She saw the latter forcing Primo to swallow an
and jointly tried with Criminal Case No. 7887 in Branch 1, object.[8] The other accused held her husband to prevent
RTC of Tagbilaran City. Arraigned in Criminal Case No. 7888 him from struggling. Shocked, Helen then soundlessly cried
on February 15, 1994, appellant entered a plea of not and embraced her children. Shortly afterwards, Helens
guilty. Thereafter, Criminal Cases Nos. 7887 and 7888 were mother-in-law, Dominga, was awakened by the barking of the
jointly tried, without prejudice to the separate family dog. Dominga went downstairs where she saw Primo
arraignment and trial of the other accused who continued lifeless on the floor, reeking of poison.[9] Antonio was
to evade arrest. nowhere to be found. Dominga rushed upstairs and woke up
Severino, all the while shouting for help. Minutes later,
The facts of the case, culled from the prosecutions the barangay captain and some neighbors responded to her
presentation, are as follows: shouts for assistance. They found Primo dead on the
Appellant and Antonio Hilbero,[4] the victim in Criminal floor. Informed that Antonio was missing, they searched the
Case No. 7888, are second cousins. Both are residents of immediate surroundings for him but to no avail.[10]
Ubujan, Sagbayan, Bohol. Appellant is also a cousin of Early in the morning of May 13, 1992, the search for
Primo Hilberos mother-in-law. Primo Hilbero is the victim Antonio was resumed. He was finally found by his uncle,
in Criminal Case No. 7887. Simeon Degamo, holding on to rock in a natural well, some
During the May 11, 1992 elections, appellant and Antonio 300 meters away from the rice mill. A rope was thrown to
supported rival mayoralty candidates of him and he was pulled out from the well. Noticing that he
Sagbayan. Appellant was a supporter and poll watcher of smelled of some poisonous chemical, his rescuers made him
Arthur Aana, while Antonio, a barangay councilman of drink coconut milk.[11] He was weak and appeared on the verge
Ubujan, was a partisan of Narzal Ermac. Appellants co- of death and brought to the hospital at Clarin, Bohol for
accused were also identified with Aana who won. emergency treatment.
The next day, prosecution witness Zosimo Viva,[12] a she said she knew nothing about the death of her
defeated municipal councilor candidate in the same slate husband.[24] Later that day, he returned to Cebu City where
of Ermac, Antonios common law wife, and two police he worked as a crane operator. He could not think of any
investigators transferred Antonio to the Gov. Celestino reason why he would be suspected for committing a crime,
Gallares Memorial Hospital in Tagbilaran City.[13] According as he was on good terms with the victims.[25]
to prosecution witness Dr. Mayda[14] Reyes who admitted
The defense offered a different version of the poisoning
Antonio to the hospital, Antonio told her that the latter
incident. According to the defense, Antonio and Primo
was forced to drink a certain liquid, which smelled like
agreed to commit suicide by taking poison.[26] It presented
insecticide.[15] Another physician, Dr. Maria Luisa Tage,
Antonios affidavit dated February 28, 1994,[27] where he
who attended to Antonio diagnosed, Poisoning, Etiology not
recanted his story in his affidavit of May 22,
determined, Brief reactive psychosis.[16]
1992.[28] Antonio testified that he and Primo decided to
Since Antonio appeared to be dying, prosecution witness commit suicide by drinking poison to prevent defeated
PO3 Leonardo Inoc, a police investigator, took his ante- candidates Ermac and Viva from harming their
mortem statement[17] in which he named the aforementioned families. Antonio refused to follow the orders of Viva to
accused as the persons responsible for poisoning him and kill the political leaders of Mayor Aana, including the
dropping him in the well.[18] appellant. Thus, Antonio said, he and Primo feared for the
lives of their relatives. After Primo and he drank poison,
Meanwhile, Ermac asked the National Bureau of
Primo immediately died. When he did not succumb right away,
Investigation (NBI) to conduct an investigation.[19] The
Antonio wrote a suicide note and tried to drown himself in
toxicological examination of Primos body revealed the
the well.[29] After his rescue, Ermac and Viva took him into
presence of methamidophos, the active ingredient of the
custody and bought him to Mindanao, allegedly for his
insecticide Tamaron in Primos organs.[20] The NBI also
safety.[30] The two, however, threatened to kill him and
recovered two empty bottles, at the scene of the
made him falsely charge the appellant with murder and
incident. Chemistry tests on them revealed that the Hoechst
frustrated murder.[31] Antonio totally repudiated his ante-
bottle was positive for deltamethrine, an insecticide,
mortem statement and his earlier affidavit charging the
while the other bottle revealed traces of methamidophos.[21]
accused with murder and frustrated murder.
Appellant denied any involvement in the poisoning
Testifying for the defense, P/Col. Benjamin Absalon, of
incident. He claimed an alibi. He said he spent the whole
the Bohol Provincial Command of the Philippine National
night of May 11, 1992, in the municipal hall of Sagbayan,
Police, testified that the police investigation revealed
as a watcher for the party of Mayor Aana. He went home
that Primos death by poison was not due to foul play. He
early morning of May 12, 1992 and spent the whole day
declared that they did not finish their investigation
repairing his pigpens even if he had not slept the previous
because Antonio disappeared from the hospital before they
night. At around seven oclock P.M. his wife and he went to
could interview him.[32]
the house of his co-accused Angel Preciados to attend the
birthday party of the latters son.[22] Afterwards, they To rebut Antonios testimony, Dr. Mayda Reyes was called
returned home and went to sleep.[23] He woke up at around anew to confirm what Antonio had told her, that he was
9:00 A.M. and learned about the incident. He went to the forced to drink poison by several men.[33] SPO1 Leonardo
old rice mill to find out more about the poisoning incident Inoc testified again that he took Antonios ante-
and saw the Hilberos. When he asked Helen what happened, mortem statement.[34] Apolinario Libranza, barangay captain
of Ubujan, Sagbayan was presented to refute Antonios claims complainant Antonio Hilbiro (sic) of his previous
regarding Zosimo Viva.[35] Antonios mother, Dominga, testimony, as a waiver of indemnity.
testified that her son was not afraid of either Viva or
Ermac[36]and affirmed the truthfulness of Helens It appearing that the accused Arturo Enad has undergone
testimony. [37] preventive imprisonment in Criminal Cases Nos. 7887 and
7888 he is entitled to the full time of his preventive
In sur-rebuttal, Antonio maintained the veracity of his
imprisonment to be deducted from his term of sentences
suicide account.
(sic) if he has executed a waiver otherwise he will only
Finding the prosecutions version more credible, the be entitled to 4/5 of the time of his preventive
trial court on January 2, 1995, convicted appellant of the imprisonment to be deducted from his term of sentence (sic)
crimes charged in Criminal Cases Nos. 7887 and 7888. It if he has not executed a waiver.
concluded:
SO ORDERED.[38]
PREMISES CONSIDERED, in Criminal Case No. 7887 the Court
finds the accused Arturo Enad GUILTY of the crime of Murder
On July 25, 1995, appellant filed his notice of appeal
punished under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code and
to this Court. On November 20, 1996, the Office of Legal
hereby sentences him to suffer an imprisonment of RECLUSION
Aid of the U.P. College of Law entered its appearance as
PERPETUA with the accessories of the law and to pay the
counsel.
costs.
Before us, appellant poses the following questions for
The accused Arturo Enad is further ordered to indemnify resolution:
the surviving spouse of the deceased Primo Hilbiro (sic)
1. WHETHER OR NOT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN GIVING WEIGHT
in the amount of P50,000.00 representing indemnity and
AND CREDENCE TO THE CONTRADICTORY AND IMPROBABLE
P50,000.00 representing moral and exemplary damages. In
TESTIMONIES OF THE WITNESSES OF THE PROSECUTION.
both instances without subsidiary imprisonment in case of
insolvency.
2. WHETHER OR NOT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ADMITTING AND
GIVING WEIGHT TO THE DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE PRESENTED BY THE
In Criminal Case No. 7888, the Court finds the accused
PROSECUTION.
Arturo Enad GUILTY of the crime of Frustrated Murder under
Article 248 in relation with (sic) Articles 6 and 50 of
3. WHETHER OR NOT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT
the Revised Penal Code, as amended and hereby sentences
THE PROSECUTION FAILED TO PROVE THE GUILT OF THE ACCUSED
him to suffer an Indeterminate Sentence from SIX (6) YEARS
BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT AND IN DISMISSING THE DEFENSE OF
and ONE (1) DAY, the Minimum of the Minimum Period
THE ACCUSED.
of Prision Mayor, as Minimum, to TWELVE (12) YEARS and ONE
(1) DAY, the Minimum of the Minimum Period of Reclusion
Temporal, as Maximum, with the accessories of the law and In sum, appellant raises the following issues: First,
to pay the cost. Did the trial court err in giving credence to the testimony
of alleged eyewitness Helen Hilbero? Second, Did the lower
court err in relying on dying statement of Antonio
The Court makes no pronouncement as to indemnity and
Hilbero? Third, Did the prosecution evidence successfully
damages for the Court viewed the retraction of the
overcome the presumption of innocence in favor of the and observed his deportment and manner of
accused? testifying.[39] But, where there is a showing that the trial
court overlooked material and relevant facts, which could
The first issue deals with the credibility of
affect the outcome of a case,[40] the Court will not hesitate
prosecution witness Helen Hilbero. Appellant argues that
to set aside the lower courts findings and assessments
the testimony of the sole prosecution eyewitness, Helen
regarding the credibility of witnesses.
Hilbero, is doubtful. He points out that it was odd that
despite witnessing her husband murdered and her brother- In giving full faith and credence to the testimonies of
in-law poisoned, Helen did not make a statement to the the prosecution witnesses, the trial court explained:
police on what she witnessed; that while the police took
The findings of the court relative to the credibility of
the sworn statement of Dominga, the mother of Primo and
the witnesses militate in favor of the prosecution
Antonio, they did not take the statement of the widow, who
witnesses (citations omitted). The court took into
allegedly saw everything; and that even after meeting
considerationthe most important factor(s) (of) each
appellant face to face on the morning of May 13, 1992, no
witness, his manner and behavior on the witness stand and
confrontation occurred between appellant and
the general characteristics, tone, tenor and inherent
her. Furthermore, the prosecution did not rebut appellants
probability of his statement (citations omitted) for in
testimony that Helen admitted to appellant that she did
most instancesthe demeanor of a witness on the witness
not know what happened to her husband and brother-in-
stand is often a better evidence of his veracity than the
law. The prosecution suggests that Helens testimony was a
answer he gives (citations omitted) andit is perfectly
mere concoction of the political opponents of Mayor Aana
reasonable to believe the testimony of a witness with
and that Helen was coached on her testimony when it became
respect to other parts.Everytime when witnesses are found
apparent to Ermac and Viva that Antonio would not testify
to have deliberately falsified some material particulars
the way they wanted.
it is not required that the whole of their uncorroborated
The Office of the Solicitor General, for its part, testimony be rejected but some portions thereof deemed
contends that there is nothing unnatural in Helens failure worthy of belief may be credited. (emphasis ours).[41]
to immediately disclose what she knew. The failure to
reveal the identities of the perpetrators should not impair On record the lower court heavily relied on the
her credibility since there is no set standards of human testimony of Helen. However, it did not make any
behavior when one is confronted with a strange, striking, categorical finding as to her credibility or the veracity
or frightful experience. Moreover, she had her reasons to of her account.
keep what she knew to herself. The accused were her
neighbors and they could easily cause her and her family We find Helens testimony riddled with inconsistencies
and improbabilities which could affect the outcome of this
harm. Thus, the trial court, the OSG said, committed no
case. Helen testified that upon hearing a different voice
error in relying on her testimony to convict appellant.
downstairs, she peeped through a two-inch hole in the floor
Where the credibility of a witness is an issue, the and saw, with the moonlight cascading through the windows
established rule is that great respect is accorded to the of the old mill, the accused forcibly make her husband,
evaluation of the credibility of witnesses by the trial Primo, swallow poison.[42] On direct examination, she
court. It is in the best position to determine the issue stated, she heard the words Dont move.[43] Under cross-
of credibility of a witness, having heard his testimony examination, she said what she heard was Dont move so that
the grenade will not be exploded. As the cross-examination had two windows covered with bamboo slats. To enter the
progressed, however, she declared that what she actually mill through the windows, the bamboo slats must be
heard was Dont move otherwise your family will be included. destroyed. Yet, Helen did not hear the sound of the bamboo
She initially admitted that the first words were uttered slats being destroyed, which was the only way the intruders
by a voice unknown to her. On further grilling by the could have entered.
defense, she claimed she recognized the voice as
Her testimony regarding the murder of her husband,
appellants. Relentless cross-examination, however, yielded
Primo, is less than credible. She said that while Primo
an admission that it was the voice of accused Villamor she
struggled not to imbibe the poison, he did not utter a
heard first.[44] The identification of an accused through
sound. According to her, Primo could not utter a sound as
his voice is acceptable, particularly if the witness knows
his neck was clipped, or headlocked as the trial court puts
the accused personally.[45] But the identification must be
it.[53] There was no showing, however, that the victims
categorical and certain. We observed that the witness
mouth was muffled to prevent him from shouting for
changed her version a number of times. A startling or
help. From her testimony, she could have easily asked for
frightful experience creates an indelible impression in the
help. It will be recalled that barangay captain and their
mind such that the experience can be recalled
neighbors quickly responded to her mother-in-laws shout for
vividly.[46] Where the witness, however, fails to remain
help after seeing Primos corpse.[54] Helens account, that
consistent on important details, such as the identity of
her husband violently struggled against his murderers
the person whose voice she heard, a suspicion is created
yet soundlessly gulped down the poison they made him drink,
that material particulars in her testimony had indeed been
is unnatural. It evokes disbelief. Evidence to be believed
altered. If an eyewitness contradicts himself on a vital
must not only proceed from the mouth of a credible witness
question, the element of reasonable doubt is injected and
but it must also be credible by itself, and must conform
cannot be lightly disregarded.[47]
to the common experience and observation of mankind.[55]
Helens testimony contained contradictory statements. In
As a rule, an eyewitness testimony cannot be disregarded
one instance she said she witnessed the fatal poisoning of
on account of the delay in reporting the event, so long as
her husband by the accused because the mill was lit by
the delay is justified.[56] In this case, Helen kept silent
moonlight. In another instance she said the mill was dark
for almost two years. She had no affidavit during the
and unlit.[48] On further cross-examination she claimed that
preliminary investigation.[57] It was only at the trial that
she witnessed the events because of the bright
she came out to say she witnessed her husbands murder. She
moonlight.[49] First, she said the moonlight was very
did not explain why. Her long silence is out of character
bright[50] then later she said the moon was not very
and appears inconsistent with her behavior in immediately
full.[51] The defense showed that during that night, five
reporting to the police and the barangay captain an
nights before its fullness, the moon was in its first
incident when an unidentified man accosted her on the
quarter[52] and it was not as bright as a full moon. Note
whereabouts of Antonio.[58]
also that Helens view of the event was limited because she
was only peeping through a small hole. Under these Additionally, on direct testimony, she declared that she
conditions, Helens flip-flopping testimony created serious knew that Antonio was found in a hole filled with water on
doubts regarding its veracity and credibility. Thus her the morning of May 13, 1992.[59] Yet, on cross-examination,
testimony concerning the destruction of the bamboo slats she declared that she did not know where his rescuers found
in one window of the mill invites serious doubt. The mill Antonio that morning.[60] Such contradictory statements tend
to erode Helens credibility as a prosecution witness and thereafter dies; and (5) the declaration is offered in a
raise serious doubt concerning the prosecutions evidence. criminal case wherein the declarants death is the subject
of inquiry.[69]
On the second issue, appellant submits that the trial
court erred when it admitted and gave much weight to the In the present case, the foregoing requisites were not
probative value of the ante mortem statement of met. A dying declaration is essentially hearsay, because
Antonio. [61] Appellant contends that the statement can one person is testifying on what another person
neither be considered as dying declaration under Rule 130, stated. This is because the declarant can no longer be
Sec. 37[62] nor part of the res gestae under Rule 130, presented in court to identify the document or confirm the
Section 42[63] of the Rules of Court. It is inadmissible for statement, but more important, to be confronted with said
being hearsay.Furthermore, he avers it was error for the statement by the accused and be cross-examined on its
trial court to give weight to the first affidavit of contents.[70] It was patently incorrect for the trial court
Antonio,[64] since Antonio repudiated the same, stating that to have allowed prosecution witness PO3 Leonardo Inoc to
its contents were false. According to appellant, Antonio testify on Antonios so-called dying declaration because
claimed said affidavit was given under duress. Antonio was alive and later even testified in court.
The Solicitor General, for its part, argues that But was the purported ante-mortem statement part of
Antonios actions during and immediately after the incident the res gestae? Where a victims statement may not be
were completely inconsistent with those of a person who admissible as an ante mortem declaration, it may
allegedly wanted to commit suicide.Hence, his retraction nonetheless be considered as part of the res gestae, if
should be looked at with jaundiced eye, following our made immediately after a startling occurrence in relation
ruling in People v. Junio, 237 SCRA 826 (1994), where we to the circumstances thereof and when the victim did not
held that retractions are generally unreliable and looked have time to contrive a falsehood.[71] For res gestae to be
upon with considerable disfavor. allowed as an exception to the hearsay rule, the following
requisites must be satisfied: (1) that the principal act
A dying declaration is the statement which refers to
or res gestae be a startling occurrence; (2) the statement
the cause and surrounding circumstances of the declarants
is spontaneous or was made before the declarant had time
death, made under the consciousness of an impending
to contrive or devise, and the statement is made during
death.[65] It is admissible in evidence as an exception to
the occurrence or immediately prior or subsequent thereto;
the hearsay rule[66] because of necessity and
and (3) the statement made must concern the occurrence in
trustworthiness. Necessity, because the declarants death
question and its immediately attending circumstances.[72]
makes it impossible for him to take the witness stand[67] and
trustworthiness, for when a person is at the point of death, In this case, the element of spontaneity is lacking in
every motive for falsehood is silenced and the mind is the alleged ante-mortem statement. Antonios statement was
induced by the most powerful consideration to speak the taken by PO3 Inoc at around 3:00 oclock P.M., May 14, 1992
truth.[68] The requisites for the admissibility of a dying or some thirty-nine (39) hours after the incident. Thirty-
declaration are: (1) the death is imminent and the nine hours is too long a time to be
declarant is conscious of that fact; (2) the declaration considered subsequent immediately (stress supplied) to the
refers to the cause and surrounding circumstances of such startling occurrence. Even as contemplated by the rules,
death; (3) the declaration relates to facts which the statements given a day after the incident in answer to
victim is competent to testify; (4) the declarant questions propounded by an investigator cannot be
considered part of the res gestae.[73] Furthermore, the affidavit should have been rejected together with the first
testimony of the declarant, that the statement was made affidavit. Unless an affiant himself takes the witness
under threats and with coaching from losing candidates stand to affirm the averments in his affidavit, the
Ermac and Viva in order to get even with the winning affidavit must be excluded from the judicial proceeding
candidate, Mayor Aana, is uncontroverted.[74] for being inadmissible hearsay.[81] In this case the affiant
expressly refused to confirm the contents of his first
Dying declarations and statements which form part of
affidavit. Instead, he testified that said affidavit,
the res gestae are exceptions to the hearsay rule, thus
Exhibit E was prepared under grave threats and severe
they must be strictly but reasonably construed and must
pressure from Ermac and Viva.[82] His earlier affidavits
extend only insofar as their language fairly
contents were hearsay, hence inadmissible in evidence.
warrants.[75] Thus, doubts should be resolved in favor of
applying the hearsay rule, rather than the Noted further that Exhibit E and its sub-markings were
exceptions. Under said rule, Antonios so-called ante- offered, to prove that Antonio testified in detail before
mortem statement should not have been admitted in evidence, NBI Agent Atty. Amador Robeniol about what happened to him
for it is neither a dying declaration nor a part of res and his brother Primo in the hands of the five
gestae. accused.[83] Even if said Exhibit was admissible, all that
it proves is that Antonio testified and executed an
Next we consider whether the trial court could properly
affidavit before the NBI. It does not prove the
rely on Antonios affidavit dated May 22, 1994 naming the
truthfulness of the allegations made and contained therein.
persons responsible for the poisoning incident,
notwithstanding his subsequent repudiation of said Coming now to the third issue: has the prosecution
affidavit. As a rule, retractions are generally unreliable succeeded in proving appellants guilt beyond reasonable
and are looked upon with considerable disfavor by the doubt?
courts[76]because of the probability that recantation may
The records show that the only direct evidence linking
later on be itself repudiated.[77] Furthermore, retractions
appellant to the crimes charged and for which he was
can easily be obtained from witnesses through intimidation
convicted are the direct testimony of eyewitness Helen
or for monetary consideration,[78] and a mere retraction
Hilbero and the contents of Exhibit E. But as discussed
does not necessarily negate an earlier declaration.[79] When
earlier, neither can be given much probative value. As to
faced with a situation where a witness recants an earlier
the testimonies of the other prosecution witnesses, we find
statement, courts do not automatically exclude the original
them insufficient to convict appellant as none of them had
testimony. The original declaration is compared with the
any personal knowledge of facts that would directly link
new statement, to determine which should be believed.[80]
appellant to the offenses charged. Even if these witnesses
In this case, the trial court rejected Antonios testified in a straightforward and categorical manner,
retraction of his affidavit dated May 22, 1992, for being their testimonies contained insufficient evidence to
contrary to human experience and inherently unworthy of establish appellants guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
belief. The trial court cited, by way of illustration, the
Appellants defense of denial in the present case is
portion of the affidavit where Antonio claimed that after
inherently weak.[84] Denial, if unsubstantiated by clear and
he and Primo agreed to commit suicide and drinking a bottle
convincing evidence, is a negative and self-serving
of insecticide, Antonio wrote a farewell letter to his
evidence undeserving of any weight in law.[85] But such
barangay-mates.We note, however, that Antonios second
weakness does not excuse the prosecution from presenting
the adequate quantum of proof of the crime charged. The
guilt of the accused must be proved beyond reasonable
doubt. And the prosecutions evidence must stand or fall on
its own weight. It cannot rely on the weakness of the
defense. In the instant case, the prosecution failed to
prove the guilt of appellant with moral certainty. The
testimony of its single purported eyewitness, while
positive, was less than credible. It did not meet the test
such testimony of a lone witness to sustain a judgment of
conviction, must be both positive and credible.[86] In our
view, the burden of proof required for conviction of
appellant has not been adequately discharged by the
prosecution.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of
Tagbilaran City, Branch 1, in Criminal Cases Nos. 7887 and
7888, finding appellant Arturo Enad guilty of murder and
frustrated murder is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE for
insufficiency of the evidence to convict him beyond
reasonable doubt. Appellant is ACQUITTED and ordered
RELEASED from confinement immediately unless he is held
for another lawful cause.
SO ORDERED.
FIRST DIVISION the said FRANCISCO DE VERA Y DEL VALLE gunshot wounds which
were the direct and immediate cause of his death
[G.R. No. 128073. March 27, 2000] thereafter.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. RENE CONTRARY TO LAW."


MAMALIAS Y FIEL, accused-appellant.
Criminal Case No. 93-115103
D E C I S I O N
"That on or about August 9, 1992, in the City of Manila,
PUNO, J.: Philippines, the said accused, conspiring and confederating
with one whose true name, real identity and present
Accused RENE MAMALIAS Y FIEL was convicted of murder and whereabout (sic) are still unknown, and helping each other,
frustrated murder by the Regional Trial Court of Manila did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously,
(Branch 33). He seeks his acquittal on the ground that the with intent to kill, and with treachery and evident
trial court convicted him purely on the basis of hearsay premeditation, attack, assault and use personal violence
evidence but he escaped pending decision of his appeal. upon one ALEXANDER BUNAG Y FIGUEROA, by then and there
The threshold issue is whether we should acquit the accused shooting the latter with unknown caliber gun on his face
who is no longer in the custody of the law. We acquit to hitting his cheek, thereby inflicting upon the said
prevent failure of justice. Alexander Bunag Y Figueroa gunshot wound which was
necessarily fatal and mortal, thus performing all the acts
The records show that on January 31, 1993, accused Rene of execution which should have produced the crime of
Mamalias and a John Doe were charged with the crimes of murder, as a consequence, but nevertheless did not produce
murder and frustrated murder, for the death of Francisco it by reason of causes independent of his will, that is,
de Vera y Del Valle, and the gunshot wound inflicted on by the timely and able medical assistance rendered to the
Alexander Bunag.[1] The crimes were allegedly committed as said ALEXANDER BUNAG Y FIGUEROA which save(d) his life.
follows:
CONTRARY TO LAW."
Criminal Case No. 93-115102
Accused pleaded not guilty.[2] His co-accused remained at
"That on or about August 9, 1992, in the City of Manila, large. Trial ensued.
Philippines, the said accused, conspiring and confederating
with one whose true name, real identity and present The prosecution presented only two (2) witnesses, namely
whereabout (sic) are still unknown, and helping each other, police investigator SPO3 Manuel Liberato of the Western
with intent to kill, and by means of treachery and with Police District Command and Dr. Remigio Rivera of the Mary
evident premeditation did then and there wilfully, Johnston Hospital.
unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and use personal
violence upon the person of one FRANCISCO DE VERA Y DEL SPO3 LlBERATO testified that the accused was arrested on
VALLE, by then and there shooting the latter on the head January 4, 1993. A few days later, a relative of the murder
thrice with an unknown caliber gun, thereby inflicting upon victim Francisco De Vera brought to the police headquarters
Epifanio Raymundo, an alleged eyewitness to the shooting TUSING, 30 years old, married, jobless, native of Palapag,
incident. The sworn statement of Raymundo was taken by SPO3 Samar and presently residing at no. 2929 Park Avenue
Liberato. In his worn statement, Raymundo claimed that at Street, Pasay City (ALL UNDER ARREST) all members of the
about 5:00 a.m., on August 9, 1992, he saw De Vera standing dreaded Robin Padilla gang and suspects in the series of
in front of house no.1001 in Ilaya Street near Padre Capitan Hold-up, Bank Robberies, Murder and other offenses were
Street, Tondo, Manila. Two (2) unidentified men approached apprehended and brought in to this office, after a series
De Vera and, without any provocation, shot him in the head. of stake outs and raids, by elements of this office.
Alexander Bunag, a fruit vendor, was caught in the line of
fire and got hit on the cheek by a stray bullet that killed Witness in herein case, Epifanio Raymundo y Peralta, came
De Vera.[3]The assailants fled after shooting De Vera three to this office and positively pointed to and identified
(3) times. RENE MAMALIAS y FIEL, as one of the two men who fatally
shot and killed Francisco De Vera y Del Valle and seriously
SPO3 Liberato also prepared the Booking Sheet and Arrest injuring Alexander Bunag y Figueroa.
Report and the Progress Report of the case at bar. In his
Progress Report,[4] dated January 7, 1993, SPO3 Liberato When investigated after apprising him of his constitutional
stated: rights as person under custodial investigation, Rene
Mamalias y Fiel verbally admitted that he only acted as
"This pertains to the cases of Murder and Frustrated Murder look-out at the time and only gave support to one alias
wherein the victims were FRANCISCO DE VERA y DEL VALLE, 48 LANDONG WARAY whom he alleged to be the gun wielder. He
years old, married, jeepney barker, native of and last further stated that he was given P2,400.00 for the job and
resided at Blk. 13, Lot 3, Phase 3-C, Kalayaan Village, that it was one alias BOBBY URAK, a muslim, who ordered
Kaloocan City (Deceased) (sic), and ALEXANDER BUNAG y the killing of the herein named victims.
FIGUEROA, 20 years old, single, residing at No. 246 Padre
Rada Street, Tondo, Manila (Injured and treated at Mary In view of the foregoing, Rene Mamalias was booked for
Johnston Hospital). The suspects are two unidentified Murder an Frustrated Murder and the same will be referred
malepersons (sic). The incident happened at about 5:00 to the inquest prosecutor for proper disposition and
a.m., August 9, 1992 in front of house no. 1001 Ilaya Street action."
near corner Capitan Street, Tondo, Manila.
DR. REMEGIO RIVERA, a resident physician at Mary Johnston
Incessant follow-up and discreet inquiries were made for Hospital in Tondo, Manila, testified that on August 9,
the early resolution of his case and the possible 1992, he treated the gunshot wounds of Alexander Bunag.
apprehension of the suspects. Bunag sustained gunshot wound at the right cheek, measuring
about 1 cm., and possibly a penetrating wound in the cranial
On January 4, 1993, RENE MAMALIAS Y FIEL, 33 years old, area, measuring about 5 cms. However, he did not determine
married, jobless, native of Osamiz City and residing at the extent of Bunag's possible head injury as Bunag refused
1267 Hagonoy Street, Tondo, Manila, JONATHAN DEQUITO Y to undergo a skull x-ray. Thus, he just cleansed Bunag's
VINLUAN, 27 years old, married, jobless, native of Pikit wounds and gave him anti-tetanus medications. Bunag was
North Cotabato and presently residing at no. 2515 Radium released that same day.
Street, San Andres Bukid, Manila, and RODOLFO FEROL Y
The prosecution tried to present Alexander Bunag, the heirs headquarters wherein Epifanio Raymundo pointed to him as
of Francisco De Vera and Epifanio Raymundo as additional the person who shot Francisco De Vera y Del Valle on August
witnesses but the authorities could not locate them.[5] For 9, 1992. He also did not dispute the claim of the police
lack of other material witnesses, the prosecution rested investigator Manuel Liberato that during his investigation
its case. for the death of Francisco De Vera y Del Valle and for the
injury sustained by Alexander Bunag he admitted verbally
The defense presented only one witness, accused Rene having shot De Vera and that he was paid P2,400.00 by one
Mamalias. Landong Waray. His bare denial did not overcome the
presumption of guilt established by the evidence adduced
Accused claimed that on the date and time of the shooting by the prosecution.
incident, he was in his house in Masinop, Wagas Street,
Tondo, Manila. He fetched water and was unaware of any x x x x x x x x x
unusual incident. He denied any knowledge of the crimes
imputed against him. On January 4, 1993, while he was WHEREFORE, for all the foregoing, the Court finds the
counting the proceeds of his sales for watches and accused Rene Mamalias y Fiel guilty beyond reasonable doubt
eyeglasses, he was arrested without warrant by the police of the crime of murder defined and punished under Article
and brought to the Western Police District. He was also 248 of the Revised Penal Code for the death of Francisco
not assisted by counsel during his custodial investigation. Del Valle (sic) and is hereby sentence to suffer the penalty
of RECLUSION PERPETUA and to indemnify the heirs of said
On May 15, 1995, the trial court rendered its judgment, Francisco De Vera y Del Valle the amount of P2,400.00.
finding accused guilty as charged.[6] The trial court held:
For the injuries inflicted on Alexander Bunag, the accused
"x x x. Finally, this court on September 27, 1993, ordered Rene Mamalias y Fiel is found guilty beyond reasonable
the Superintendent of the Western Police District, Col. doubt of the crime of frustrated murder defined and
Romeo Odi, to effect the arrest of the witnesses mentioned punished under Article 248 in relation to Article 6 of the
in these cases but again to no avail. The Court can only Revised Penal Code and because of Article 48, such penalty
surmise that the other witnesses went into hiding for fear is absorbed by the more serious crime of murder. In the
of their lives. latter case, no pronouncement as to civil liability.

The question before this Court is, whether the non- SO ORDERED."
appearance of these witnesses is fatal to the cause of the
prosecution? Hence, the appeal.[7] Accused-appellant contends that:

The Court finds the evidence adduced for the prosecution "THE TRIAL COURT DECISION WAS BASED ON ALLEGATIONS OF FACTS
supportive of the allegations of the information in both NOT TESTIFIED TO BY THE WITNESSES IN THE COURT AND THEREFORE
offense for murder and for the crime of frustrated murder. HEARSAY."
Accused did not deny the fact of his apprehension. Accused
did not also deny the confrontation between him and the In a Resolution dated August 25, 1997, we inquired from
witness for the prosecution Epifanio Raymundo at the police the Director of the Bureau of Corrections whether the
accused-appellant is confined in the New Bilibid Prisons In a Manifestation and Motion,[10] the solicitor General
or some other institutions under said Bureau.[8] In a 1st recommended the acquittal of the accused-appellant as his
Indorsement, dated October 7, 1997, the Bureau of conviction was based on hearsay evidence.
Corrections notified this Court that it has no record of
confinement of the accused-appellant.[9]Hence, on October The first issue is the jurisdiction of this Court to
22, 1997, we issued another resolution, ordering the determine the guilt or innocence of the accused-appellant
Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 33, to inform the in view of the fact that his whereabouts is now unknown.
Court of the whereabouts of the accused-appellant within Section 8, Rule 124 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure
ten (10) days from notice of our resolution. On September provides:
13, 1999, we issued another resolution with the following
directives: "Sec. 8. Dismissal of appeal for abandonment or failure to
prosecute.- The appellate court may, upon motion of the
"(1) Cliford S. Equila, Clerk of Court, Manila RTC, Branch appellee or on its own motion and notice to the appellant,
33, to inform the Court whether the Order of Commitment dismiss the appeal if the appellant fails to file his brief
dated August 2, 1995 issued by then Judge Rodolfo G. within the time prescribed by this rule, except in case
Palattao has been satisfied; the appellant is represented by a counsel de oficio.

(2) the Jail Warden of Manila City Jail to confirm whether The court may also, upon motion of the appellee or on its
or not accused-appellant has been committed to the New own motion, dismiss the appeal if the appellant escapes
Bilibid Prison and to show proof of such commitment; from prison or confinement or flees to a foreign country
during the pendency of the appeal."
(3) the Director of the Bureau of Corrections to inform
the Court whether accused-appellant is confined at the New The general rule is that "a party appealing who flees the
Bilibid Prison or other national penal institution; and jurisdiction, pending the appeal, is in contempt of the
authority of the court and of the law and places himself
(4) the Public Attorneys Office, counsel for accused- in a position to speculate on the chances for a reversal,
appellant, to inform the Court of accused-appellants meanwhile keeping out of the reach of justice and preparing
whereabouts, all within a non-extendible period of ten (10) to render the judgment nugatory or not, at his option. Such
days from notice." conduct is intolerable and does not invite leniency on the
part of the appellate court."[11] Moreover, the escapee
On September 24, 1999, we received a communication from loses his standing in court and unless he surrenders or
the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 33, informing submits to the jurisdiction of the court, he is deemed to
this Court that "the Order of Commitment dated August 2, have waived any right to seek relief from the court.[12]
1995 issued by then Judge Rodolfo G. Palattao has long been
satisfied. It was delivered by a certain M.O. Labata of Be that as it may, the escape of an accused-appellant during
the Manila Sheriffs Office and was received at the Manila the pendency of his appeal will not necessarily prevent
City Jail by SJ 04 EA Elanda on August 11, 1995 x x x." It this Court from exercising its jurisdiction in exceptional
thus appears that the accused-appellant is no longer in cases. Thus, in People vs. Araneta,[13] we held:
the custody of the law and cannot be located.
"Since the accused-appellant has jumped bail, we shall Similarly instructive is the case of People vs.
determine whether the Court should proceed to exercise Francisco,[14] where the accused-appellant was convicted of
jurisdiction over his appeal. Section 8, Rule 124 of the murder and meted the penalty of reclusion perpetua. He
1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure provides: escaped from confinement during the pendency of his appeal.
Nevertheless, we reviewed his sentence and eventually
Sec. 8. Dismissal of appeal for abandonment or failure to acquitted him of the crime charged. We held:
prosecute.- The appellate court may, upon motion of the
appellee or on its own motion and notice to the appellant, "During the pendency of the appeal, the appellant escaped
dismiss the appeal if the appellant fails to file his brief from prison or confinement. The appeal, therefore, could
within the time prescribed by this rule, except in case have been dismissed under Section 8, Rule 124 of the Rules
the appellant is represented by a counsel de oficio. of Court. In view, however, of the comment of the Solicitor
General as counsel for the appellee, the People of the
The court may also, upon motion of the appellee or on its Philippines, that since the appellant had already filed
own motion, dismiss the appeal if the appellant escapes his brief, the proceedings may continue despite the
from prison or confinement or flees to foreign country reported escape of appellant from prison, as well as his
during the pendency of the appeal. manifestation in lieu of appellees brief, recommending the
acquittal of the appellant on the ground that his
Under the second paragraph, the Court has the discretion culpability of the crime charged has not been shown beyond
to dismiss the appeal in case the appellant escapes from legal and moral certainty and finding such recommendation
custody or jumps bail. to be meritorious, We have taken the burden of deciding
the case on the merits in order to avoid a miscarriage of
We hold that dismissal of accused-appellants appeal at this justice."
stage will result in injustice. In Criminal Case No. 34642,
the Decision of the trial court finding him guilty of In the case at bar, we hold that this Court should retain
homicide and sentencing him to a minimum of prison mayor its jurisdiction to pass upon the guilt or innocence of
to a maximum of reclusion temporal will become final. The the accused-appellant to prevent a miscarriage of justice.
findings of the Court of Appeals that he should instead be The ultimate task of this Court is to render justice and
convicted for murder and meted the penalty of reclusion rules of procedure should be interpreted to serve this
perpetua can no longer be acted upon by this Court. And in objective. No obeisance should be rendered to any technical
Criminal Case No. 34643, accused-appellant will be rule when its result will be to frustrate the rendition of
acquitted from the charge of frustrated homicide as found a just decision. Again, we reiterate our fealty to the rule
by the Court of Appeals. In fine, accused-appellant will of justice and not to the role of technicalities.
be benefited by his act of jumping bail. To avoid this
mockery of justice, we resolve to continue exercising The second issue is whether the guilt of the accused-
jurisdiction over Criminal Case No. 34642. The acquittal appellant was established beyond reasonable doubt. The
of accused-appellant in criminal Case No. 34643, however, Constitution[15] mandates that in all criminal
can no longer be reviewed in view of the rule on double prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until
jeopardy." the contrary is proved. This presumption of innocence is
anchored on the basic principles of justice. It cannot be
overcome by suspicion or conjecture, i.e., a probability admission of hearsay evidence would be a violation of the
that the accused committed the crime or that he had the constitutional provision that the accused shall enjoy the
opportunity to do so. To overcome the presumption of right to confront the witnesses testifying against him and
innocence, proof beyond reasonable doubt of every fact to cross-examine them.[18] A conviction based alone on proof
essential to constitute the offense with which the accused that violates the constitutional right of an accused is a
is charged must be clearly established by the nullity and the court that rendered it acted without
prosecution.[16] jurisdiction in its rendition. Such a judgment cannot be
given any effect whatsoever especially on the liberty of
In the case at bar, the trial court merely relied on hearsay an individual.
evidence, particularly on the testimony of SPO3 Liberato
and the sworn statement of Epifanio Raymundo who did not Apparently, the trial court was swayed to convict the
testify in the trial court. The records clearly show that accused-appellant because he was suspected by the police
prosecution witness SPO3 Liberato has no personal knowledge as a member of the dreaded "Robin Padilla gang", that was
of the facts surrounding the shooting incident. The allegedly involved in a series of bank robberies, murders
Progress Report and the Booking and Arrest Report he and other offenses in Manila. Be that as it may, suspicion
prepared were based on information related to him by is never synonymous to proof and notoriety without more is
Epifanio Raymundo almost five (5) months after the crimes not evidence and cannot convict.
were committed. In fact, contrary to the factual finding
of the trial court that SPO3 Liberato went to the locus We emphasize that the great goal of our criminal law and
criminis shortly after the shooting incident, the records procedure is not to send people to the gaol but to do
show that it was PO3 Edgardo E. Ko who was dispatched by justice.[19] The prosecution's job is to prove that the
the WPD Command to investigate the case. For unknown accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Conviction must
reason, PO3 Ko was not called to the witness stand. The be based on the strength of the prosecution and not on the
records also show that SPO3 Liberato was not even a member weakness of the defense-- the obligation is upon the
of the team of policemen that apprehend the accused- shoulders of the prosecution to prove the guilt of the
appellant on January 4, 1993. He testified that the accused, not on the accused to prove his innocence. Thus,
accused-appellant was turned over to him only on January when the evidence for the prosecution is not enough to
6, 1993, and he did not know how the accused-appellant was sustain a conviction, it must be rejected and the accused
apprehended. He was also not aware whether a warrant of absolved and released at once.[20]
arrest had been issued against the accused-
appellant.[17] Clearly, his knowledge of the circumstances IN VIEW WHEREOF, the impugned decision of the Regional
surrounding the shooting incident was limited to the Trial Court of the City of Manila (Branch 33), in Criminal
matters relayed to him by his co-policemen and the alleged Case Nos. 93-115102-03, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and
eyewitness, hence, hearsay. appellant RENE MAMALIAS Y FIEL is hereby ACQUITTED of the
crimes charged due to reasonable doubt. Costs de oficio.
In the same vein, the sworn statement of Epifanio Raymundo
is merely hearsay evidence as he did not personally appear SO ORDERED
in court to affirm its content. Its probative value, if
any, is little. We have held that in criminal cases, the
SECOND DIVISION the house. It also believed Germans declaration that the
appellant stabbed Eulogio.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 197043
Appellee, According to the trial court, Germans testimony was
Present: supported by the testimonies of Nena Baldomar, Lita Leguin
and Edgar Leguin, who all declared that they saw the
CARPIO, J., appellant holding a dagger and standing near the head of
Chairperson, the bloodied Eulogio. The RTC disregarded the appellants
BRION, denial in light of the positive identification by the
- versus - PEREZ, witnesses. It likewise held that treachery attended the
SERENO, and commission of the crimes, as the attacks on the victims
REYES, JJ. were sudden and unexpected.

Promulgated: In Criminal Case No. 125677-H (murder), the RTC


ANTONIO BALDOMAR y LISCANO, ordered the appellant to suffer the penalty of reclusion
Appellant. February 29, 2012 perpetua, and to pay Eulogios heirs the amounts
of P50,000.00 as moral damages, P25,000.00 as temperate
x--------------------------------------------x damages, and P25,000.00 as exemplary damages. In Criminal
RESOLUTION Case No. 125678 (frustrated murder), the trial court
ordered the appellant to suffer the indeterminate penalty
BRION, J.: of eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as
minimum, to fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months and one
We decide the appeal, filed by Antonio Baldomar y (1) day of reclusion temporal, as maximum.
Liscano (appellant), from the December 22, 2010
decision [1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR.- On appeal, the CA affirmed the RTC decision. It held
H.C. No. 03815. The appealed decision affirmed the December that German positively identified the appellant as the
22, 2008 decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) person who stabbed him and Eulogio. The appellate court
of Pasig City, Branch 262, finding the appellant guilty also sustained the trial courts finding that treachery
beyond reasonable doubt of the crimes of murder and attended the attack on the two victims.
frustrated murder in Criminal Case Nos. 125677-H and
125678, respectively. Our Ruling

In its December 22, 2008 decision, the RTC found the We dismiss the appeal, but modify the awarded
appellant guilty of murder for the death of Eulogio Leguin, indemnities.
and of frustrated murder for the serious wounding of German
Irasga. It gave credence to the testimony of German that It is settled that this Court will not interfere with
the appellant stabbed him in the chest while he was the trial courts assessment of the witnesses
sleeping, and also at the back while he was running out of credibility, absent any indication or showing that the
trial court overlooked some material facts or gravely
abused its discretion, especially where, as in this case, of Eulogio, the lower courts correctly sentenced the
such assessment is affirmed by the CA. In the present case, appellant to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua only,
we see no compelling reason to disturb the factual findings since there were no aggravating or mitigating circumstances
of the courts a quo. that attended the commission of the crime.

German positively identified the appellant as the The courts a quo also imposed the correct penalty for
person who stabbed him in the chest while he was sleeping, frustrated murder in Criminal Case No. 125678. Under
and also at the back while he was running out of the house. Article 61, paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal Code, the
He also pointed to the appellant as the person who stabbed penalty for frustrated murder is one degree lower
Eulogio, causing the latters death. Germans testimony was than reclusion perpetua to death, which is reclusion
supported by the testimonies of Nena, Lita and Edgar, all temporal. Reclusion temporal has a range of twelve (12)
of whom testified that when they went to the sala, they years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years. Applying the
saw the appellant holding a bloodied knife in his right Indeterminate Sentence Law, the maximum of the
hand while standing near Eulogios head. As the lower courts indeterminate penalty should be taken from the medium
did, we see no reason to disbelieve the testimonies of of reclusion temporal, since no aggravating or mitigating
these prosecution witnesses; their narrations were circumstances attended the commission of the crime. The
straightforward and replete with details that jibed on minimum of the indeterminate penalty shall be taken from
material points. the full range of prision mayor which is one degree lower
than reclusion temporal. Prescinding from the foregoing
The lower courts correctly ruled that treachery discussion, the imposed indeterminate penalty of eight (8)
attended the stabbing of the victims. The attacks were years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as minimum, to
swift and sudden; the unsuspecting victims had no fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months and one (1) day
expectation of the coming assault, as they were asleep when of reclusion temporal, as maximum, was proper.
they were attacked.
The Proper Indemnities
We are unpersuaded by the appellants defense of
denial. It is elementary that the defense of denial is In Criminal Case No. 125677-H, we affirm the awards
outweighed by a positive identification that is of P50,000.00 as moral damages and P25,000.00 as temperate
categorical, consistent and untainted by any ill motive on damages in lieu of actual damages to Eulogios heirs, as
the part of the eyewitnesses testifying on the matter. these amounts are in accord with current jurisprudence on
Denial, like alibi, if not substantiated by clear and murder cases when the penalty imposed is reclusion
convincing evidence, is negative and self-serving evidence perpetua only. We additionally award P50,000.00 as civil
undeserving of weight in law.[3] indemnity to Eulogios heirs, as this award is granted to
the victims heirs without need of proof other than the
The Penalties commission of the crime. We also increase the amount of
the awarded exemplary damages from P25,000.00
The crime of murder qualified by treachery is to P30,000.00 to conform to prevailing jurisprudence.[4]
penalized under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as
amended, with reclusion perpetua to death. For the death
In Criminal Case No. 125678, we order the appellant to pay
the following amounts to German: P40,000.00 as moral
damages, P25,000.00 as temperate damages, and P20,000.00
as exemplary damages.[5]

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals dated


December 22, 2010 in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 03815 is AFFIRMED
with MODIFICATIONS. Appellant Antonio Baldomar y Liscano
is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crimes of
murder in Criminal Case No. 125677-H and of frustrated
murder in Criminal Case No. 125678.

In Criminal Case No. 125677-H, the appellant is


sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, and
is ordered to pay the victims heirs the following
amounts: P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, P50,000.00 as
moral damages, P30,000.00 as exemplary damages,
and P25,000.00 as temperate damages in lieu of actual
damages. In Criminal Case No. 125678, the appellant is
sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of eight (8)
years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as minimum, to
fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months and one (1) day
of reclusion temporal, as maximum, and is ordered to pay
the victim the following amounts: P40,000.00 as moral
damages, P25,000.00 as temperate damages, and P20,000.00
as exemplary damages.

SO ORDERED.
the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 35, of Ormoc City,
Republic of the Philippines in Criminal Case No. 5876-0. The RTC originally found
Supreme Court accused-appellant Vicente Vilbar guilty beyond reasonable
Manila doubt of the crime of murder for treacherously stabbing
with a knife the deceased Guilbert Patricio (Guilbert),
FIRST DIVISION but the Court of Appeals subsequently held accused-
appellant liable only for the lesser crime of homicide.
The Information charging accused-appellant with the
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 186541 crime of murder reads:
Plaintiff-Appellee, That on or about the 5th day of May 2000, at around
Present: 7:00 oclock in the evening, at the public market, this
city, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
the above-named accused, VICENTE VILBAR alias Dikit, with
CORONA, C.J., treachery, evident premeditation and intent to kill, did
then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously stab,
Chairperson, hit and wound the victim herein GUILBERT PATRICIO, without
giving the latter sufficient time to defend himself,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
thereby inflicting upon said Guilbert Patricio mortal wound
- versus - BERSAMIN, which caused his death. Post Mortem Examination Report is
hereto attached.
DEL CASTILLO, and
In violation of Article 248, Revised Penal Code, as
VILLARAMA, JR., JJ. amended by R.A. 7659, Ormoc City, June 13, 2000.[3]
When accused-appellant was arraigned on July 31, 2000,
he pleaded not guilty to the criminal charge against him.[4]

Promulgated: During the pre-trial conference, the parties already


admitted that Guilbert was stabbed at the Public Market of
VICENTE VILBAR, Ormoc City on May 5, 2000 at around seven oclock in the
evening, and that immediately before the incident, accused-
Accused-Appellant. February 1, 2012
appellant was at the same place having a drinking spree
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x with a certain Arcadio Danieles, Jr. and two other
companions. However, accused-appellant denied that it was
D E C I S I O N he who stabbed Guilbert Patricio.[5] Trial then ensued.
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
The prosecution presented the testimonies of Maria
On appeal is the Decision[1] dated February 14, 2008 of the Liza Patricio (Maria Liza),[6] the widow of the deceased,
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 00270 which and Pedro Luzon (Pedro),[7] an eyewitness at the scene. The
modified the Judgment[2] promulgated on August 6, 2001 by defense offered the testimonies of accused-
appellant[8] himself and Cerilo Pelos (Cerilo),[9] another in one of the tables fronting the store. Thereafter, he
eyewitness. On rebuttal, the prosecution recalled Pedro to saw the accused pass by him, approach Guilbert and then
the witness stand.[10] without warning, stab the latter. The accused then ran away
and left. Together with his drinking companion, they rushed
Below is a summary of the testimonies of the witnesses for Guilbert to the hospital. Pedro asserted that the areas
both sides: illumination was intense because of the big white lamp and
Maria Liza testified that in the evening of May 5, that he was certain that it was the accused who attacked
2000, she was watching her child and at the same time Guilbert.
attending to their store located in the Ormoc City public Denial was the accuseds main plea in exculpating
market. It was a small store with open space for tables himself of the charge that he killed Guilbert. He claimed
for drinking being shared by other adjacent stores. At that in the evening of May 5, 2000, he and his wife went
around 7:00 oclock in the evening, her husband, Guilbert to the public market (new building) to collect receivables
Patricio (Guilbert) arrived from work.He was met by their out of the sale of meat. Afterwards, they took a short cut
child whom he then carried in his arms. Moments later, passing through the public market where they chanced upon
Guilbert noticed a man urinating at one of the tables in his wifes acquaintances who were engaged in a drinking
front of their store. The man urinating was among those spree while singing videoke. Among them were Dodong
engaged in a drinking spree in a nearby store. It appears Danieles (Dodong for brevity) and his younger brother. They
that the accused was with the same group, seated about two invited him (the accused) and his wife to join them. While
meters away. Guilbert immediately admonished the man they were drinking, Dodong had an altercation with Guilbert
urinating but the latter paid no attention and continued that stemmed from the latters admonition of Dodongs younger
relieving himself. Guilbert then put down his child when brother who had earlier urinated at the Patricios store
the accused rose from his seat, approached Guilbert, drew premises. Suddenly, Dodong assaulted Guilbert and stabbed
out a knife and stabbed him below his breast. The accused, him. Fearing that he might be implicated in the incident,
as well as his companions, scampered away while Guilbert the accused fled and went to the house of his parents-in-
called for help saying Im stabbed. At that time, she was law. Thereafter, he went back to the market for his wife
getting her child from Guilbert and about two feet away who was no longer there. When he learned that the victim
from the accused. She easily recognized the accused because was brought to the Ormoc District Hospital, he went there
he would sometimes drink at their store. Guilbert was to verify the victims condition. He was able to talk with
immediately brought to the hospital where he later the mother and the wife of Guilbert as well as the
expired 11:35 of the same evening. She declared that for police. He was thereafter invited to the precinct so that
Guilberts medical and hospitalization expenses, the family the police can get his statement. The next day, the parents
spent about P3,000.00. As for the wake and burial expenses, of Dodong Danieles came to his parents-in-laws house to
she could no longer estimate the amount because of her persuade him not to help the victims family. He
sadness. declined. Half a month later, he was arrested and charged
Pedro, an eyewitness at the scene, corroborated Maria for the death of Guilbert Patricio.
Lizas testimonial account of the events. On that night, he The defense also presented one Cerilo Pelos (Cerilo)
was drinking together with a companion in Maria Lizas who claimed to have personally witnessed the stabbing
store. He recalled Guilbert admonishing a person urinating incident because he was also drinking in the public market
on that fateful night. He insisted that Guilbert was store; (2) what Maria Liza was doing at the exact time of
stabbed by someone wearing a black shirt, whose identity stabbing; and (3) the accused-appellants reaction after he
he later on learned to be Dodong Danieles.[11] stabbed the victim. Moreover, accused-appellant argues
that if he was indeed the culprit, why did he approach
On August 6, 2001, the RTC promulgated its Decision Guilberts family in the hospital immediately after the
finding accused-appellant guilty of murder and decreeing stabbing incident? Granting without admitting that a crime
thus: of murder was committed, accused-appellant insists that he
WHEREFORE, all the foregoing duly considered, the could only be held guilty of homicide for it was not proven
Court finds the accused Vicente Vilbar alias Dikit GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt that treachery and evident
beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder as charged, premeditation existed. He specifically directs our
and hereby sentences him to imprisonment of reclusion attention to the following details: (1) there was a heated
perpetua, [and ordered] to pay the offended party the sum argument between the victim and a member or members of his
of P75,000.00 as indemnity, the sum of P3,000.00 as medical group; (2) the stabbing happened in a spur of the moment;
expenses, the sum of P50,000.00 as moral damages. and (3) the victim then was not completely defenseless.

If the accused is a detainee, his period of detention Meanwhile, the OSG stresses that the alleged
shall be credited to him in full if he abides by the term inconsistencies in the testimonies of the prosecution
for convicted prisoners, otherwise, for only 4/5 witnesses are minor and inconsequential given the positive
thereof.[12] identification of the accused-appellant as the
assailant. As to accused-appellants contention that he is
The foregoing RTC Judgment was directly elevated to innocent because he even went to the hospital and conferred
us for our review, but in accordance with our ruling with Guilberts relatives immediately after the stabbing
in People v. Mateo,[13] we issued a Resolution[14] dated incident, the OSG maintains that such actuation is not a
December 1, 2004 referring the case to the Court of Appeals conclusive proof of innocence.
for appropriate action.
The issues for resolution are first, the assessment of
Accused-appellant, represented by the Public credibility of the prosecution witnesses; and second, the
Attorneys Office, [15] and plaintiff-appellee, through the propriety of conviction of the accused-appellant for
Office of the Solicitor General,[16] filed their Briefs on murder.[17]
August 15, 2006 and April 30, 2007, respectively. The Court
of Appeals made the following determination of the issues The Court of Appeals rendered its Decision on February
submitted for its resolution: 14, 2008, in which it accorded great respect to the
assessment by the RTC of the credibility of the
On intermediate review, accused (now accused- witnesses. The inconsistencies and inaccuracies in the
appellant) seeks the reversal of his conviction for the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses are relatively
crime of murder or in the alternative, the imposition of trivial, minor, and do not impeach their credibility. The
the proper penalty for the crime of homicide. He argues positive identification and categorical statements of the
that the trial court erred in giving credence to the prosecution witnesses that it was accused-appellant who
inconsistent, irreconcilable, and incredible testimonies stabbed Guilbert prevail over accused-appellants self-
of the prosecution witnesses, to wit: (1) the exact number serving denial. However, the appellate court did not find
of persons drinking with accused-appellant in the adjacent
that treachery attended the stabbing of Guilbert and, thus, settled that when the trial courts findings have been
downgraded the crime to homicide. It also reduced the award affirmed by the appellate court, said findings are
of civil indemnity. The dispositive portion of the Court generally binding upon this Court.[21] There is no
of Appeals decision sentenced accused-appellant as follows: compelling reason for us to depart from the general rule
in this case.
WHEREFORE, the 1 August 2001 Decision appealed from
finding accused-appellant VICENTE VILBAR @ Dikit guilty Prosecution witnesses Maria Liza and Pedro both
beyond reasonable doubt of murder is MODIFIED. The Court positively and categorically identified accused-appellant
finds the accused appellant GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt as the one who stabbed Guilbert.
of HOMICIDE and is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty
of eight years and one day of prision mayor medium, as Maria Liza vividly recounted her traumatic moment as
minimum, to fourteen years and eight months of reclusion follows:
temporal medium, as maximum. He is also ordered to pay the Q: Mrs. Patricio, do you know the accused in this case in
heirs of Guilbert Patricio the amounts of Php50,000.00 as the person of Vicente Vilbar alias Dikit?
civil indemnity, Php50,000.00 as moral damages, and A: Yes, sir.
Php3,000.00 as actual damages.[18]
Accused-appellant now comes before us on final appeal. Q: Why do you know him?
A: He used to go there for drinking in our store.
In our Resolution[19] dated April 15, 2009, we gave the
parties the opportunity to file their respective Q: How long have you known this person?
supplemental briefs, but the parties manifested that they A: About three (3) months.
had already exhausted their arguments before the Court of
Appeals.[20] x x x x
After a scrutiny of the records of the case, we find Q: Mrs. Patricio, can you recall where were you in the
that the submitted evidence and prevailing jurisprudence evening at about 7:00 oclock of May 5, 2000?
duly support the findings and conclusion of the Court of A: I was at the store.
Appeals.
Evidence in this case chiefly consists of testimonial Q: Where?
evidence. Both the RTC and the Court of Appeals gave A: In the market.
credence and weight to the testimonies of the prosecution
witnesses. Q: What were you doing in the store?
A: I was watching after my, attending to my child there.
Case laws mandate that when the credibility of a witness
is in issue, the findings of fact of the trial court, its Q: How old was the child?
calibration of the testimonies of the witnesses and its A: Two (2) years old.
assessment of the probative weight thereof, as well as its
conclusions anchored on said findings are accorded high Q: When you were attending to your child at this particular
respect if not conclusive effect. This is more true if such time, what happened?
findings were affirmed by the appellate court, since it is
A: My child saw my husband arriving. Q: What was the reaction of the person urinating when your
husband told him not to urinate?
Q: What happened after your child saw your husband arrived A: He continue urinating.
at the store you were tending?
A: He met him. Q: What was the reaction of your husband when he did not
heed to the advice not to urinate?
Q: And what did your husband do when he was met by your A: He put down the child, this Vicente Vilbar rose.
child?
A: He cradled the child. Q: Rose from where?
A: From the table.
Q: What happened after that?
A: So at 7:00 oclock that evening there was somebody Q: And what happened?
urinated and my husband told that someone not to urinate A: Without any word stabbed my husband.
that place because that was a table.
Q: What did he use in stabbing your husband, this Vicente
Q: Do you know who was this someone admonished by your Vilbar?
husband not to urinate because that was a table? A: Knife.
A: No, sir.
Q: Do you know, were you able to see where he kept the
Q: Do you know where did he come from? knife which he used in stabbing your husband?
A: They were drinking. A: From his waist.

Q: Do you know who was his companion while they were Q: When the said Vicente Vilbar delivered the stabbed
drinking? thrust to your husband, was your husband hit?
A: No, only that Vicente Vilbar. A: He was hit.

Q: From where he came from or from where he was drinking Q: On what part of his body was your husband hit?
in the group of persons together with the accused Vicente A: Just below the breast.
Vilbar, how far was the place wherein they were drinking
to where he urinated from where the group was drinking? x x x x
A: Just near.
Q: Below the left nipple?
Q: When you said near, can you estimate the distance? A: Yes, sir.

COURT INTERPRETER Q: What happened after your husband was hit below the left
nipple?
The witness estimated a distance at about 2 meters. A: Vicente Vilbar ran away and my husband told me to call
for some help and he said, Im stab.
x x x x
x x x x Q: Did that person who was admonished accede to the request
of Guilbert Patricio not to relieve just nearby?
Q: By the way, how far were you to your husband Guilbert A: He just did not do something, he just relieved.
Patricio when he was stabbed?
A: I was behind Vicente Vilbar. Q: So that person who was admonished in fact urinated?
A: Yes, sir.

Q: When you said you were behind, how far from Vicente Q: And so what happened?
Vilbar? A: I saw this Vicente Vilbar stood up and pass behind me
A: Just near, sir, from my husband next was the one who and went to Guilbert Patricio and just immediately stabbed
urinated, next Vicente Vilbar and I was him.
behind.[22] (Emphases supplied.)
Q: What was the weapon used in stabbing?
A: It seems like a knife (and the witness demonstrated to
Pedro corroborated Maria Lizas testimony, recalling the the Court the length of the weapon at about 10 inches with
same sequence of events the night of May 5, 2000, viz: the width of about 2 inches).

Q: Who was the companion of Guilbert when he arrived in Q: When this stabbing incident took place, was it in front
the vicinity? of you or was it behind?
A: He was alone. A: In front of me but I was facing his back.

Q: So what happened after his arrival? x x x x


A: When he arrived he was with his child.
Q: Will you please point to us a part of your body that he
Q: And what did he do with the child? was hit by the stab thrust?
A: He carried his child in his arms.
COURT INTERPRETER
Q: And then what happened after he carried his child?
A: There was someone who [urinated] somewhere behind us The witness demonstrated below his left nipple and the
and he was admonished by this Guilbert Patricio by saying, witness was pointing to the position below his left nipple.
Bay, dont urinate there it would somehow create a bad smell
and considering that this is a drinking area. x x x x

Q: Who was that person who relieved himself just nearby? Q: At the time of that incident which was on the evening
A: I did not know. of May 5, 2000, did you already know that the person whom
you just pointed earlier was Vicente Vilbar?
Q: Whose group was he coming from? A: I did not know about his complete name but I know of
A: From Vicente Vilbars companion. him as Dikit as alias and his face.
x x x x from said witnesses as they differ in their impressions of
the incident and vantage point in relation to the victim
Q: Under what circumstance that you learned of his name? and the accused-appellant.
A: Because I ask the victim himself, that Guilbert Patricio
by saying, Who was that person who stabbed you Dong?, and In contrast, accused-appellant admitted being present
then he said He is known to be Dikit and his real name is at the scene and time of the commission of the crime but
Vicente Vilbar. asserted that one Dodong Danieles was the perpetrator
thereof. Yet, the RTC was unconvinced by the version of
Q: Prior to the incident, have you seen this Dikit or events as testified to by accused-appellant himself and
Vicente Vilbar? Cerilo, because:
A: Yes, because after we had our tuba drinking spree in
that same day they were there also. In the observation of the Court, the accused is
inconsistent and he talked unintelligibly. His testimony
Q: Would you recall how many times you have seen Vicente is not credible and perceived to be flimsy excuses. If it
Vilbar prior to the incident? is true that his wife was with him at the time of the
A: I could not just count how many times but what Im sure incident and he was not involved in the stabbing, why did
is we know him. he have to leave the place and his wife and go to the house
of his parents-in-law rather than their house? The accused
Q: Could it be more than five (5) times? should have presented his wife to corroborate his testimony
A: It could be.[23] (Emphases supplied.) in that regard, and also his parents-in-law so the latter
can testify regarding the alleged visitors, the alleged
The RTC, assessing the aforequoted testimonies, declared: parents of one Dodong Danieles who came to their place when
the accused was also there days after the incident, telling
Maria Liza Patricio is credible. She recognizes the him not to help the family of the victim.
accused, she was just behind him when he stabbed her
husband who was facing the accused. There was proper The accuseds witness, Cerilo Pelos, is the farthest of the
illumination of the place x x x and her testimony was not expected witnesses for the defense. He and the accused were
destroyed in the cross-examination. Her testimony is not acquaintances and they only came to know each other in
positive and spontaneous. The Court notes nothing in her prison where Pelos is also detained for another charge. x
demeanor and flow of testimony that would indicate some x x. The testimony of the witness is hazy and full of
contradiction or incredibility. generalities, even the way he speaks, the Court notes some
inconsistency in his voice and incoherence in his
The other witness, Pedro Luzon, corroborates the testimony testimony.[26]
of Maria Liza Patricio. x x x.[24]
A closer perusal of the testimony of accused-
The RTC and the Court of Appeals brushed aside the appellants corroborating witness, Cerilo, reveals just how
alleged inconsistencies in the testimonies of Maria Liza incoherent and elusive he was in giving particular details
and Pedro,[25] these being relatively trivial and about the stabbing incident:
insignificant, neither pertaining to the act constitutive
Q: Now, while you were there, what happened?
of the crime committed nor to the identity of the
assailant. Also, these minor contradictions were expected
A: When I arrived there, I arrived with this people having A: No, sir, because the place was quite cacophonic.
a drinking spree and I myself went to the other table near
this people and this quite thin or slim guy was standing Q: And what happened after that?
in front of them and one of these people who were having A: They were still talking when the one who urinated went
drinking spree seemed to relieve himself not to the C.R. back to the table.
but beside the store.
Q: And what happened after this person who urinated went
Q: Now, you said a while ago that there were four (4) back to the table?
companions of the accused. Now, tell us, were all of the A: They conversed with the one wearing black and after
four (4) people that you are referring to that exclude the the conversation he stood up and went to the slim guy.
accused?
A: There were four (4) of them including the accused, sir. Q: Who stood up?
A: The one named Dodong, the one who was in black and the
one who stabbed.
Q: Now, you said that there was somebody from the group
who relieved himself, is that right? Q: So, you said that this one wearing black approached
A: Yes, sir, urinated. the slim guy?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: And what happened when he urinated?
A: He was confronted by that slim guy because he did not Q: And what happened after that?
urinate in the C.R. but just beside the store. A: So then, he stabbed him and the one he stabbed ran
away, because he was hit.
Q: And what happened when the confrontation took place?
A: They exchanged words and after that th[e] slim guy left Q: How about the accused, where was the accused then when
the one who urinated because it seemed that they were the man in black stabbed the slim guy?
having an argument. A: There, and they were still convering (sic) with each
other with the slim guy, sir.
Q: And then, what happened after that?
A: The one who confronted left and this accused stood up Q: And what did he do after the man in black stabbed the
went to this slim guy and talked to him. slim [g]uy?
A: He ran away passing by the Apollo and (while the
Q: This slim guy you are referring to is the person who witness was demonstrating by pressing his hand to his
urinated? chest) that he was hit.
A: Yes, sir.
Q: How about you, what did you do after that?
Q; And so what happened with that meeting between the A: When the commotion of the people subsided, I asked from
accused and the slim guy that you are referring to? the people around there about the name of the man in black
A: They were still and they were talking, sir. and after getting the name of the said person, I called
Q: Were you able to hear what they were talking about?
up the Police Precinct I to inform them about the learned of said assailants name from an unidentified
incident. spectator of the stabbing incident.

x x x x The fact that it was accused-appellant who stabbed Guilbert


to death on the night of May 5, 2000 was already established
Q: Now, this person whom you said who stabbed the victim, beyond reasonable doubt. The next question is what crime
did you meet him before? for which accused-appellant should be held liable: murder
A: Not yet, sir. as held by the RTC or homicide as adjudged by the Court of
Appeals.
x x x x We agree with the Court of Appeals that accused-
appellant is guilty only of homicide in the absence of the
Q: As such a police asset, did you endeavor to know the qualifying circumstance of treachery.
personalities who were involved in that stabbing incident?
A: Yes, sir. In a number of cases, surveyed in People v. Rivera,[28] we
ruled that treachery cannot be appreciated simply because
Q: Now, did you get name? the attack was sudden and unexpected:
A: I only got one name only the name of that guy in black, [W]e agree with accused-appellant that the qualifying
sir. circumstance of treachery was not established. Surveying
the leading decisions on this question, in People v. Romeo
Q: Why, did you interview the man in black? Magaro we recently stated:
A: I asked from those who were there hanging out if ever
they know that person. In People v. Magallanes, this Court held:

Q: Did you not follow the assailant after the stabbing There is treachery when the offender commits any of
the crimes against the person, employing means, methods,
incident?
or forms in the execution thereof which tend directly and
A: No sir, because after I asked about his name from the
specially to insure its execution, without risk to himself
bystanders, I immediately called up.[27] (Emphases
arising from the defense which the offended party might
supplied.)
make. Thus, for treachery or alevosia to be appreciated
as a qualifying circumstance, the prosecution must
Cerilo failed to mention what weapon was used to stab
establish the concurrence of two (2) conditions: (a) that
Guilbert or describe the manner Guilbert was
at the time of the attack, the victim was not in a position
stabbed. Cerilo also appeared to have mixed-up the
to defend himself; and (b) that the offender consciously
personalities in his narration. He first identified the
adopted the particular means, method or form of attack
slim guy to be Guilbert who reprimanded the person who
employed by him. . . .
urinated, but he subsequently referred to the slim guy as
the person who urinated.Moreover, Cerilos identification . . . where the meeting between the accused and the
of the purported assailant of Guilbert as a certain Dodong victim was casual and the attack was done impulsively,
is highly unreliable, given that Cerilo admitted that he there is no treachery even if the attack was sudden and
unexpected. As has been aptly observed the accused could
not have made preparations for the attack, . . .; and the Similar to Rivera and the cases cited therein, the
means, method and form thereof could not therefore have prosecution in the instant case merely showed that accused-
been thought of by the accused, because the attack was appellant attacked Guilbert suddenly and unexpectedly, but
impulsively done. failed to prove that accused-appellant consciously adopted
such mode of attack to facilitate the perpetration of the
Treachery cannot also be presumed from the mere killing without risk to himself. As aptly observed by the
suddenness of the attack. . . . In point is the following Court of Appeals:
pronouncement we made in People v. Escoto:
While it appears that the attack upon the victim was
We can not presume that treachery was present merely sudden, the surrounding circumstances attending the
from the fact that the attack was sudden. The suddenness stabbing incident, that is, the open area, the presence of
of an attack, does not of itself, suffice to support a the victims families and the attending eyewitnesses, works
finding of alevosia, even if the purpose was to kill, so against treachery. If accused-appellant wanted to make
long as the decision was made all of a sudden and the certain that no risk would come to him, he could have
victim's helpless position was accidental. . . . chosen another time and place to stab the victim. Yet,
In People v. Bautista, it was held: accused-appellant nonchalantly stabbed the victim in a
public market at 7:00 oclock in the evening. The place was
. . . The circumstance that an attack was sudden and well-lighted and teeming with people. He was indifferent
unexpected to the person assaulted did not constitute the to the presence of the victims family or of the other
element of alevosia necessary to raise homicide to murder, people who could easily identify him and point him out as
where it did not appear that the aggressor consciously the assailant. He showed no concern that the people in the
adopted such mode of attack to facilitate the perpetration immediate vicinity might retaliate in behalf of the
of the killing without risk to himself. Treachery cannot victim. In fact, the attack appeared to have been
be appreciated if the accused did not make any preparation impulsively done, a spur of the moment act in the heat of
to kill the deceased in such manner as to insure the anger or extreme annoyance. There are no indications that
commission of the killing or to make it impossible or accused-appellant deliberately planned to stab the victim
difficult for the person attacked to retaliate or defend at said time and place. Thus, we can reasonably conclude
himself. . . . that accused-appellant, who at that time was languishing
Applying these principles to the case at bar, we hold in his alcoholic state, acted brashly and impetuously in
that the prosecution has not proven that the killing was suddenly stabbing the victim. Treachery just cannot be
committed with treachery. Although accused-appellant shot appreciated.[30]
the victim from behind, the fact was that this was done Lastly, we review the penalty and damages imposed by
during a heated argument. Accused-appellant, filled with the Court of Appeals upon accused-appellant.
anger and rage, apparently had no time to reflect on his
actions. It was not shown that he consciously adopted the The penalty prescribed by law for the crime of
mode of attacking the victim from behind to facilitate the homicide is reclusion temporal.[31] Under the Indeterminate
killing without risk to himself. Accordingly, we hold that Sentence Law, the maximum of the sentence shall be that
accused-appellant is guilty of homicide only.[29] which could be properly imposed in view of the attending
circumstances, and the minimum shall be within the range
of the penalty next lower to that prescribed by the Revised
Penal Code.
SO ORDERED.
Absent any mitigating or aggravating circumstance in
this case, the maximum of the sentence should be within
the range of reclusion temporal in its medium term which
has a duration of fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months,
and one (1) day, to seventeen (17) years and four (4)
months; and that the minimum should be within the range
of prision mayor which has a duration of six (6) years and
one (1) day to twelve (12) years. Thus, the imposition of
imprisonment from twelve (12) years of prision mayor, as
minimum, to seventeen (17) years and four (4) months
of reclusion temporal, as maximum, is in order.
As to the award of damages to Guilberts heirs, we
affirm the amounts of P50,000.00 as moral damages
and P50,000.00 as civil indemnity. Medical and burial
expenses were indisputably incurred by Guilberts heirs but
the exact amounts thereof were not duly proven. So in lieu
of actual damages, we award Guilberts heirs P25,000.00 as
temperate damages. Article 2224 of the Civil Code provides
that [t]emperate or moderate damages, which are more than
nominal but less than compensatory damages, may be
recovered when the court finds that some pecuniary loss
has been suffered but its amount can not, from the nature
of the case, be proved with certainty.[32]
WHEREFORE, the instant appeal of accused-appellant is
hereby DENIED for lack of merit. The Decision dated
February 14, 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-
H.C. No. 00270 is hereby AFFIRMED with
MODIFICATION. Accused-appellant Vicente Vilbar is
found GUILTY of the crime of HOMICIDE, for which he
is SENTENCED to imprisonment of twelve (12) years
of prision mayor, as minimum, to seventeen (17) years and
four (4) months of reclusion temporal, as maximum,
and ORDERED to pay the heirs of Guilbert Patricio the
amounts of P50,000.00 as moral damages, P50,000.00 as civil
indemnity, and P25,000.00 as temperate damages.