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EVIDENCE | B2015 CASE DIGESTS

TARAPEN V. PEOPLE
August 28, 2008 Chico-Nazario, J. Raeses, Roberto Miguel O. (Apologies for the length. Highly-detailed digest, though the discussion on the penalty and damages has been omitted.)

The prosecution presented the following witnesses: (1) Patricia S. Pangoden, (2) Molly J. Linglingen, (3) Silmana Linglingen, (4) Virginia Costales, (5) Dr. Lindo Mensalvas, (6) Dr. Rizal Leo Cala, and (7) SPO2 Juanito Menseses II Collective testimonies of witnesses for the prosecution: 1. 7:00 7:30 AM, June 8, 2000 The dump truck driven by Jimmy Pugoy arrived at Zandueta St. Baguio City to collect garbage. He was accompanied by Tarapen and Edmond Ferrer. 2. At around the abovementioned time, vendors, including the victim James Pangoden, along with fellow vendors Molly and Silmana Linglingen and Virginia Costales were peddling their goods along Zandueta St. 3. Tarapen got off from the truck and guided the truck. However, despite being guided, the truck still ran over some eggplants being sold by Costales. 4. Tarapen picked up the vegetables and threw them towards where James was. This angered James as the flowers he was selling were soiled. 5. An exchange of words ensued, which led to Tarapen going to the back of his truck, getting a shovel, and hitting James from behind on the back of his head. 6. As soon as James raised his head after having fallen to the ground, Tarapen hit him again on the head with a shovel before running away. 7. James was brought to the Baguio General Hospital & Medical Center (BGHMC). 8. The wife of James, Patricia, arrived at BGHMC and saw her husband. Dr. Cala refused to operate on her husband, saying that it was hopeless. Patricia then requested that her husband be transferred to Saint Louis University (SLU) Hospital. The request was approved. 9. James was operated on SLU, but Patricia was told that he had no more chance to live. Patricia then brought her husband to his hometown in Namatugan, Sudipen, La Union where he finally denied.

SUMMARY: Tarapen was charged with frustrated homicide, but was later charged with homicide instead when the victim, James Pangoden, died. According to the version of the prosecution, Tarapen struck James twice on the head with a shovel after an exchange of words. According to the version of the defense. Tarapen only struck James with a shovel when the latter attacked him without provocation on Tarapens part. The TC and CA both upheld the prosecutions version. The SC affirmed. DOCTRINE: [A] witness relationship to a victim of a crime would even make his or her testimony more credible, as it would be unnatural for a relative, or a friend as in this case, who is interested in vindicating the crime, to accuse somebody other than the real culprit. A witness is said to be biased when his relation to the cause or to the parties is such that he has an incentive to exaggerate or give false color to his statements, or to suppress or to pervert the truth, or to state what is false. To warrant rejection of the testimony of a relative or friend, it must be clearly shown that, independently of the relationship, the testimony was inherently improbable or defective, or that improper or evil motives had moved the witness to incriminate the accused falsely. FACTS: On June 9, 2000 Peter Tarapen was charged before the RTC of Baguio with Frustrated Homicide for attacking and assaulting James Lacbao Pangoden. The day after, the victim died from the his injuries. An amended information was subsequently filed on June 13, 2000 charging Tarapen with homicide.

EVIDENCE | B2015 CASE DIGESTS

Testimony of Patricia S. Pangoden (wife): Testified to the events that happened to her husband from the time he was brought to the hospital until the time he died. She also testified on expenses. Testimony of Molly and Silamana Linglingen (mother and daughter, co-vendors of James): Tarapen got a shovel from the rear of garbage truck, approached James from behind, and hit him twice on the head. Testimony of Virginia Costales: 1. When the garbage truck was going down to Zandueta St, Tarapen got off from the truck and guided it. 2. Truck ran over the eggplants she was selling. 3. Tarapen picked them up and threw then towards James. 4. James got angry because the flowers he was selling was soiled. 5. Tarapen and James exchanged words. While such was happening, she transferred her sacks of eggplants to a nearby place. 6. Subsequently, she heard people shouting. When she turned around, James was already slumped on the ground, oozing with blood. Dr. Lindo Mensalvas (SLU Hospital) and Dr. Rizal Leo Cala (BGHMC): Attended to the victim; issued medico-legal certificates SPO2 Juanito Meneses II: Investigator of Tarapencs case Tarapen admitted to having inflicted injuries on James. There were no injuries on Tarapens body or face.

Tarapen did not request any medical treatment that morning. James was still unconscious when SPO2 Meneses went to BGHMC for identification. Identified steel shovel allegedly used in killing.

For the defense, the following were theire witnesses: (1) Jimmy Pugoy, (2) Peter Tarapen himself, (3) Edmond ferrer, (4) Dr. Maryjane Tipayno. Collective testimonies of witnesses for the defense: 1. Pugoy, Tarapen and Ferrer are garbage collectors employed by the General Services Office of the City of Baguio. 2. At around 3:00 a.m. of June 8, 2000, they started collecting garbage. At around 7:00 a.m., they arrived at Zandueta St. 3. Half of said street was almost occupied by vendors who were selling various goods. 4. Ferrer alighted and started filling up the garbage basket with the use of a shovel. Peter saw a sack of eggplants pinned under the truck being removed by its owner. 5. Peter helped the old woman carry the sack to the side of the road when, all of a sudden, James punched him hard on the right ear, causing him to fall and roll down the street. P 6. eter ended up sitting on the ground. As he was getting up with his hands raised, James punched him again. Peter protested, saying he did not do anything wrong. James answered: "You people from the government are show-off[s]." 7. Tarapen, still dizzy while getting up and still with hands raised, was kicked by James on the left side of the body. Peter fell on the road and rolled anew. 8. Feeling very dizzy, Tarapen tried to pick up something to throw at James to stop him, because he thought James would kill him.

EVIDENCE | B2015 CASE DIGESTS

9. Ferrer was coming to the aid of Tarapen, who was in front of the truck. Edmond carried with him the shovel he used to collect garbage. Edmond tried to help Peter stand. He put down the shovel on the ground. 10. While in a sitting position, Tarapen was able to get hold of the shovel and swing it, hitting James who was approaching him and about to strike with a clenched fist. 11. With the help of the shovel, Tarapen stood up and tried to leave. When James followed Peter, the latter hit him again with the shovel. Tarapen saw James boarding a taxi. 12. After feeling a little better, Peter walked to his office and reported the matter to his supervisor. 13. Peter voluntarily surrendered to the police. He was brought to the hospital where he met Jamess wife who hit him on the back. 14. Tarapen received treatment at the hospital after he posted bail. Testimony of Jimmy Pugoy: 1. Tarapen went down the truck to hep an old woman, who was in front of a truck, to carry a sack of eggplants. 2. James went near Tarapen and suddenly punched him on the face, causing the latter to roll down the street. 3. When Tarapen stood up, James punched him again, making the former fall and roll again. 4. The next time Tarapen stood up, James delivered a flying kick to Tarapens stomach. 5. Pugoy no longer saw what happened when the people had gathered. He only saw a man lying down on the ground after he parked his vehicle. Testimony of Edmond Ferrer: 1. He was with Tarapen hanging at the back of the truck.

2. When the vehicle stopped, Peter went down the vehicle. Pugoy also went down, taking with him the shovel and the garbage basket. 3. After filling up the basket, and before he could load it into the truck, he heard people shouting. 4. He proceeded to the front vehicle carrying the shovel he was using to investigate the commotion. 5. He saw Tarapen sitting on the ground shaking his head. He put down the shovel and tried to help Tarapen up. 6. A person approached was about to hit Tarapen, when the latter got hold of the shovel, swung it and hit this person. 7. Tarapen was able to stand and was turning around to leave, but the person whom he hit with the shovel was about to follow him in order to punch him. 8. Tarapen hit the person one more time. Testimony of Peter Tarapen: 1. He went down the truck and saw a sack of eggplants under the vehicle. 2. The owner of the sack asked him to help her. He obliged. 3. After that, someone (James) punched him at the right side of the head. 4. As he was getting up with his hands raised, James said, "Nalastog kayo nga taga-gobierno," and then punched him for the second time. 5. He was a little dizzy and was again getting up when he was kicked on the left side of his body. Feeling very dizzy, he tried to pick up something to throw at James. While sitting, he got hold of a shovel which he swung, hitting James. 6. Tarapen said he got up to run away, but James followed him. It was then that Tarapen hit him again with the shovel. 7. He went to their office and he was accompanied by his supervisor in surrendering to the police. 8. He added that he asked the policemen to bring him to the hospital, because his ear was aching. It was on

EVIDENCE | B2015 CASE DIGESTS

July 16 2000 that he was able to have a medical examination of his ears. Testimony of Dr. Maryjane Tipayno: She performed an audio logic test on Tarapen. She found mild hearing loss on the left ear and severe hearing loss on the right ear. Hearing loss could not have been self-inflicted; hearing loss on both ears could have started years before. It was Dr. Vinluan who interviewed Tarapen, and that it was Tarapen who told Dr. Vinluan that his hearing loss on right ear was due to blunt trauma. As rebuttal witness, the prosecution presented Molly Linglingen, who said that Tarapen was standing up when he hit James twice with a shovel. She explained that James was standing with his back turned when Tarapen came from behind and hit him. The trial court convicted the petitioner of homicide. 1. The trial court gave credence to the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses as against the testimonies of defense witnesses. 2. The trial court found the prosecutions version of the incident credible. 3. The trial court said Virginia Costales saw the first part of the incident, which was the heated argument between petitioner and the victim involving the victims soiled goods, while Molly Linglingen and Silmana Linglingen witnessed the second part of the incident when petitioner went to the back portion of the garbage truck and got a shovel with which he hit the victim from the back, twice on the head, resulting in his death. 4. Having had the opportunity to observe them, it was convinced that they were telling the truth vis--vis the defense witnesses who were lying, as can be seen from their hesitant answers and evasive looks

when they testified for the petitioner who was a coemployee. 5. The trial court did not appreciate self-defense in favor of Tarapen. Tarapen filed an MR, which was denied. The CA affirmed with modification the decision of the TC [from fourteen (14) years as minimum to twenty (20) years as maximum to eight (8) years of prision mayor, as minimum, to fourteen (14) years of reclusion temporal, as maximum]. CA also denied the MR. Tarapen filed a petition for review before the SC. ISSUES: 1. WON the CA and TC erred in giving credence to the prosecution witnesses, despite the grave inconsistencies in their testimonies and not considering the testimonies of the witnesses for the defense showing manifest bias against the accused. 2. WON the CA and TC erred in not acquitting the accused when the defense had sufficiently proved the existence of facts proving that indeed the accused was defending himself from James Pangoden. RULING: 1. NO. The TC and CA were correct in giving credence to the prosecution witnesses as against the defense witnesses. 2. NO. The defense failed to prove self-defense. RATIO: 1. Tarapen: Testimonies of Molly and Silmana Linglingen that there was no prior quarrel or exchange of words between Tarapen and James before the latter was hit by a shovel was contrary to human experience, because Tarapen could not have taken the life of James for no reason at all.

EVIDENCE | B2015 CASE DIGESTS

SC: They never said that there was no quarrel or exchange. What they said was that they never witnessed such, They, however, saw Tarapen get a shovel and strike Peter. The void is filled by Costales, who actually witnessed the altercation.

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The friendship of Molly and Silmana Linglingen with the victim, per se, did not impair their credibility. Defense failed to show that the two witnesses were had improper or evil motives.

Tarapen: Molly and Silmana Linglingen are biased witnesses, thus, unreliable, because they were town mates and co-vendors of the victim. SC: The fact that these two witnesses were the victims town mates and co-vendors did not necessarily make them biased witnesses. It is well-settled that the mere relationship of a witness to the victim does not impair the witness credibility. o On the contrary, a witness relationship to a victim of a crime would even make his or her testimony more credible, as it would be unnatural for a relative, or a friend as in this case, who is interested in vindicating the crime, to accuse somebody other than the real culprit. o A witness is said to be biased when his relation to the cause or to the parties is such that he has an incentive to exaggerate or give false color to his statements, or to suppress or to pervert the truth, or to state what is false. o To warrant rejection of the testimony of a relative or friend, it must be clearly shown that, independently of the relationship, the testimony was inherently improbable or defective, or that improper or evil motives had moved the witness to incriminate the accused falsely.

Tarapen: The prosecution witnesses of deliberately suppressing material evidence favorable to the petitioner. It may be safely presumed that such evidence, having been willfully suppressed, would be adverse if produced. SC: No evidence of suppression. The defense failed to specify which evidence was suppressed. o Adverse presumption or suppression is not applicable when (1) the suppression is not willful; (2) the evidence suppressed or withheld is merely corroborative or cumulative; (3) the evidence is at the disposal of both parties; and (4) the suppression is an exercise of a privilege. No suppression could have happened since the prosecution witnesses were cross-examined by defense counsel. Tarapen: The credibility of Virginia Costales is questionable, considering that her testimony in court, which says that she did not see petitioner and the victim engage in a fistfight, contradicts her declaration in her sworn statement that that two engaged in a fistfight. SC: Such inconsistency will not discredit her. It is settled that certain discrepancies between declarations made in an affidavit and those made on the witness stand seldom could discredit the declarant. Sworn

EVIDENCE | B2015 CASE DIGESTS

statements, being taken ex parte, are almost always incomplete and often inaccurate for various reasons, sometimes from partial suggestion or for want of suggestion and inquiries. They are generally inferior to the testimony of the witness given in open court. o The testimony of a witness prevails over an affidavit. In short, affidavits are generally subordinated in importance to open-court declarations; or, more bluntly stated, whenever there is inconsistency between an affidavit and the testimony of a witness in court, the testimony commands greater weight. o The alleged inconsistencies between the testimony of a witness in open court and his sworn statement before the investigators are not fatal defects that would justify the reversal of a judgment of conviction. o Alleged inconsistencies between the testimony of a witness in open court and his sown statement are not fatal defects. When Mrs. Costales was confronted with this contradiction, she explained that she never told the police that the petitioner and the victim had a fistfight. What she said was they had a quarrel; that is, they faced each other and exchanged words. Tarapen: Molly and Silmana Linglingens version that the victim was hit from behind is not tenable, considering that it is not corroborated by medical findings. Molly and Silmana Linglingens claim that

James was hit on the right side of the head was, according to the defense, negated by the findings of Dr. Mensalvas that James suffered injuries on the "left frontoparietal and left frontotemporo parietal" areas of his head. The findings of Dr. Mensalvas mean that James was facing Peter when hit by the shovel contrary to the prosecutions claim that James was hit by Peter from behind. SC: The defense relies too much on the findings made by Dr. Lindo Mensalvas and completely omits the findings made by Dr. Rizal Leo Cala. It must not be forgotten that the victim was brought to two hospitals where the attending doctors issued separate medico-legal certificates. o From the medico-legal certificate issued by Dr. Cala and with his testimony in court, it is clear that the victim suffered injuries on the right side of his head. Thus, the claim of Molly and Silmana Linglingen that the victim was struck from behind on the right side of his head is consistent with the findings of Dr. Cala. o The findings made by Dr. Cala as contained in the medico-legal certificate he issued showing that the victim suffered injuries on the right side of his head, consistent with the declarations of prosecution witnesses that the victim was, from behind, struck with a shovel twice on the right side of the head. o More weight to this medical certificate is given by the SC, because the same was issued by a government doctor. Under Section 44, Rule 130, Revised Rules of Court, entries in official records made in the

EVIDENCE | B2015 CASE DIGESTS

performance of official duty are prima facie evidence of the facts therein stated. Even assuming arguendo that we give more weight to the medical certificate issued by Dr. Mensalvas, this does not mean that the testimonies of Molly and Silmana Linglingen shall be disbelieved. It is noted that Dr. Mensalvas testified that the victim sustained a wound on the right side of his head, possibly caused by a steel shovel. Well-settled is the rule that the testimony of a witness may be believed in part and disbelieved in another, depending on the corroborative evidence or the probabilities and improbabilities of the case. Where a part of the testimony of a witness runs counter to the medical evidence submitted, it is within the sound discretion of the court to determine which portions of the testimony to reject as false and which to consider worthy of belief. Tarapen: The trial court judge was not able to observe the demeanor of the prosecution witnesses,

because they were looking at the court interpreter when they were testifying. SC: The trial court judge was emphatic in saying that he had the chance to see the face of the witness while she testified. 2. Having admitted that he killed James, the burden of evidence that one acted in self-defense shifted to petitioner. Like an alibi, self-defense 1 is inherently weak, for it is easy to fabricate. a. Unlawful aggression is a condition sine qua non for the justifying circumstance of selfdefense, whether complete or incomplete. i. Tarapen failed to prove self-defense. DISPOSITIVE: WHEREFORE, all the foregoing considered, the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 26636, dated 31 January 2006, is AFFIRMED in toto. Costs against the petitioner.

ART. 11. Justifying circumstances. The following do not incur any criminal liability: 1. Anyone who acts in defense of his person or rights, provided that the following circumstances concur; First. Unlawful aggression; Second. Reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel it; Third. Lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending himself.