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THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 69184 March 26, 1990


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
MARIO ABLAO, defendant-appellant.
Eliezer S. Tengco for defendant-appellant.
The Office of the Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:


This is an appeal from the decision of the Regional Trial Court of
Laguna, Branch 26, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, the Court finds accused MARIO ABLAO, 25 years old,
of Lumban, Laguna, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
MURDER as charged in the information with aggravating
circumstance of disregard due the deceased on account of his rank
as Barangay Captain and as President of the Association of Barangay
Captains of Lumban, Laguna and hereby sentences him to suffer the
supreme and extreme penalty of DEATH; to pay the heirs of Andres
Manambit, Sr., the sum of P30,000.00 with the accessory penalties
provided for by law, and to pay the costs.
Accused ALBERTO ALMARIO, ZENON SAMONTE and HECTOR
SAMONTE are acquitted of the crime of MURDER for lack of
evidence against them. (Rollo, p. 22)

The information charging accused Mario Ablao, Alberto Almario,


Zenon Samonte, Hector-Samonte and Bruno Ablao reads:
That on or about December 16, 1977 in the Municipality of Lumban,
Province of Laguna and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating and
mutually helping with each other, then provided with unlicensed
firearms, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously with
evident premeditation and treachery and with intent to kill, attack,
assault and shoot at one ANDRES MANAMBIT Y MENDOZA thereby
inflicting upon the latter multiple mortal and serious gunshot
wounds on the different parts of the body which immediately
caused his death, to the damage and prejudice of the heirs of the
victim, Andres Manambit y Mendoza. (At p. 7, Rollo)
The prosecution evidence upon which the trial court based its
finding of guilt beyond reasonable doubt is summarized by the trial
court as follows:
LT. DOMINGO GAPAS Y RAMIREZ police lieutenant and at the
same time Station Commander of Lumban, Laguna, testified that on
or about 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon of December 16,1977 while
he was performing his duties as Station Commander in Lumban,
Laguna, Mario Ablao shot to death the deceased Andres Manambit,
Sr. He (witness) pointed to the accused as the assailant. According
to him, while there was a session of the members of the
Sangguniang Bayan of Lumban, Laguna in the canteen near the
municipal building, a report of gunfire inside the canteen was heard.
Upon hearing the shot, he ran towards the place where the session
of the Sangguniang Bayan was being held and when he was about to
reach the canteen, he saw accused Mario Ablao coming out of the

door of the canteen carrying a .45 caliber pistol who, upon seeing
him (Gapas) fired a shot at him but missed. He chased Ablao who
was running very fast towards the direction of Caliraya mountain.
Failing to catch up with him, he returned to the place of the
shooting and found the deceased Andres Manambit, Sr., lying in
front of the door of the canteen already dead face down. The
deceased had a bullet wound at the right side of the my neck. He
knows Andres Manambit was then the president of the Association
of Barangay Captains of said municipality and as such, was
attending that session of the Sangguniang Bayan. At the time he
heard the first shot, he was only about 1 0 meters away from the
canteen and it was only the accused Mario Ablao whom he saw
come out of the door of the canteen running carrying a .45 caliber
gun immediately after the shooting. He was not able to fire back at
Ablao for fear of hitting other people around. He conducted an
investigation in his capacity as Station Commander and was able to
gather witnesses who pointed to Mario Ablao as the one who had
shot Andres Manambit. He himself executed a written statement
(Exhibit A). On his request, the body was autopsied by Dr. Maximo
Reyes. That same evening he went personally to the then Mayor
Bruno Ablao (the brother of Mario Ablao) and informed him about
his (mayor) brother having shot someone requesting him also to
cause the surrender of his brother. Mayor Ablao replied that he did
not know his brother's whereabouts. The Provincial Commander
also talked to the mayor regarding the apprehension and/or
surrender of Mario Ablao because at that time accused Mario Ablao
was residing in the house of the mayor. A manhunt was conducted
for the arrest of Mario Ablao in Caliraya but produced negative
result. The arresting team was sent to the house of Mayor Ablao to
effect the arrest but they were not able to capture him. He

(witness) filed a complaint for Attempted Murder with Assault


against Mario Ablao.
DR. MAXIMO REYES medico-legal officer of the NBI, after
establishing his qualifications, testified as follows: On December 16,
1977, he received a request to perform an autopsy on the body of
Andres Manambit Sr., who was identified by the relatives of the
deceased. He examined the cadaver, reduced the result thereof in
writing entitled Necropsy Report No. 77-104 (Exh. C) and had it
approved by Dr. Pedro Solis, the Director of Technical Services of
the NBI. The necropsy report contains the following post mortem
findings.
Pallor, lips and integument
Abrasion, brownish, 2.0 x 4.0 cms., right, temporal region.
Lacerated wound, 2.0 cms., area of the left side of the face.
Gunshot wound:
Ovaloid, located over the occipital region, 1.0 x 1.2 cm. with a
contusion collar of 0.2 cm. over the super lateral aspect 1.0 cm. to
the left of the posterior median line and just below the external
occipital protruberance 156 cms. from the sole of the left foot,
edges inverted, directed forwards and slightly laterally and
downwards involving the skin and soft tissues into the cranial cavity
perforating the left cerebral hemisphere after fracturing the
occipital bone then fracturing the greater wing of the sphenoid
bone at the left and where a deformed bullet was lodged and
recovered among the soft tissues of the left side of the face

underneath the left maxilla 8.5 cm. from the anterior median line
and 154 cms from the sole of the left foot.
Hemorrhage, meningeal epidural subdural and suberachnoidal
extensive and generalized.
Heart, covered with moderate amount of adipose tissue and cardiac
chamber containing minimal amount of dark fluid blood.
Other visceral organs are pale and congested.
Stomach, one third (1/3) filled with partly digested and undigested
food materials.
CAUSE OF DEATH:
Hemorrhage, acute, profuse, secondary to gunshot wound of the
head.'
He explained that the cause of death is hemorrhage second to
gunshot wound of the head; that the gunshot wound found on the
body of the deceased was the fatal injury. On the basis of the
location of the wound, the death of the victim was instantaneous.
The gunshot wound, which is situated at the back indicates that the
possible position of the man holding the gun was at the back of the
deceased with an approximate distance of about 24 inches away
from the point of entry. Based on the size of the wound, the caliber
of the gun used was possibly a.45.
ABRAHAM ABAYARI farmer and resident of Lumban, Laguna
testified that on December 16, 1977, he was a barrio captain of Sto.
Nino, Lumban, Laguna; that he was attending the session of the
Sangguniang Bayan of the municipality of Lumban on said date in

connection with the holding of referendum the following day. He


remembered having seen inside the session hall Municipal Secretary
Juan Llantos, Judge Lotus Sobejana, Municipal Development Officer
Herminio Alviar, Atty. Zenon Samonte representing the capital
sector, ABC President Andres Manambit, Emiliano Macalagay,
representing the professional sector, Andres Rivera, the agricultural
sector, Brgy. Captain Alberto de Robles, Councilor Ading Sabido,
Councilor Felix de Ramos and others whom he could no longer
remember. The session started at about past 5:00 o'clock in the
afternoon. Between 5:00 to 6:00 o'clock in the afternoon after
leaving the canteen, he heard a shot ring out. He looked towards
the left and saw Lt. Domingo Gapas being fired at by Mario Ablao.
FELIX DE RAMOS businessman and a resident of Lumban, Laguna
testified that on December 16, 1977 at about 5:00 o'clock in the
afternoon, he was very near Andres Manambit, Sr. at a canteen
near the town hall of Lumban when suddenly, a shot rang out that
nearly impaired his hearing (natulig). He closed his eyes because of
fear and opening them, he saw Andres Manambit already lying on
the ground, dead. He heard two more shots and saw a person being
chased by two policemen.
CATALINO GARCIA technical sergeant of the constabulary and
resident of Bagumbayan, Santa Cruz, Laguna testified that on
August 27,1980 he was already a member of the Philippine
Constabulary and knows a person by the name of Francisco
Baldemeca whom he had investigated on various incidents that had
happened at Lumban, which investigation was reduced to writing.
(Exhibit G). (Rollo, pp. 10-14)

The version of the defense is shown in the testimony of the


accused-appellant. It is summarized as follows:
Accused MARIO ABLAO testified that he is 25 years old, single and
was in 1977, 18 years old. In the afternoon of December 16,1977,
he went to the municipal building of Lumban on instructions from
his brother Mayor Bruno Ablao. In the municipal building, he was
told that the mayor was not there, so he went to the canteen on the
other side of the street very near the municipal building where he
found him. The mayor had many companions conversing with each
other. At the canteen, he merely showed himself to his brother and
stood by the door of the canteen watching a basketball game that
was going on outside. A session of the Sangguniang Bayan about the
referendum that was to take place the following day was going on
and lasted up to about 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon. When the
people stood up and each of them was about to go out of the door,
he (accused) approached his brother who was paying the bill for
what they had eaten and waited for whatever the latter was going
to tell him. He followed his brother on his way out of the canteen.
The rest of the participants also stood up and proceeded to go out
of the canteen. While he and his brother were going out of the
canteen, he suddenly heard a shot. Immediately thereafter, his
brother handed a gun to him telling him to run away with it. With
said firearm which he admitted to be short and heavy, he went out
towards the Lumban Elementary School running. While doing so, he
heard another shot, so he ran towards the back portion of the
Lumban elementary school where he stayed until late in the
evening. Then he proceeded to the house of his brother, the mayor,
and asked his brother what he would do. The mayor gave him
money and told him to go to Manila and to wait for further

instructions. He went to Manila to hide. From that date he left


Lumban on December 16, 1977, it was only on August 17, 1980
when his father died that he returned to said place and again when
he was detained at the PC headquarters in Santa Cruz after he had
surrendered to Hon. Assemblyman Estanislao Fernandez. He does
not know who shot Andres Manambit because he was then behind
his brother looking at the basketball players.
On cross-examination, he testified that he has been a resident of
Lumban since birth up to the time he finished high school. At about
4:00 o'clock in the afternoon of December 16, 1977 when the
meeting was taking place, he was already in the canteen, because,
prior to that date, he had been summoned by his brother to be
there. Of the six or seven people in that meeting, the only person he
knew was his brother. He testified that after the first shot, he heard
two more shots after the gun had been handed to him. He went
into hiding because of fear of being in possesion of said gun then.
He carried the gun with him to his hiding place and returned the
same to his brother that very evening. Then, he continued hiding.
He went to Manila. That time, he already knew that he was the
suspected assailant of the deceased. A week after the incident, his
father went to Manila and told him that he was being suspected as
the killer of the deceased Andres Manambit confirming his being a
wanted man. In fact, he testified that his father told him not to go
home. He continued hiding in the house of his relatives in Pasay,
Sampaloc, Tayuman of Metro Manila, moving from one house to
another. When he was able to talk to his father again, he was told
that there was a message conveyed by his brother telling that he
(his brother) was making ways (gumagawa ng paraan). He went to
Nueva Ecija also and stayed with his niece, Mayor Ablao's daughter,

for about seven months. It was while in hiding that he came to


know that again, he, together with other persons, was a suspect in
the killing of Judge Lotus Sobejana of Lumban and his 7 year old son.
He sent feelers for his surrender to Assemblyman Fernandez. On
July 16, 1980, he surrendered to Justice Fernandez. (Rollo, pp. 1417)
The appellant, Mario Ablao, raises the following assignment of
errors in this appeal, to wit:
I
THE HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT ACCUSEDAPPELLANT MARIO ABLAO SHOT THE LATE ANDRES MANAMBIT
II
THE HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE
PROSECUTION'S EVIDENCE PROVED THAT THE CRIME COMMITTED
WAS MURDER.
III
THE HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN IMPOSING THE DEATH PENALTY
ON THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT.
IV
THE HONORABLE COURT SHOULD NOT HAVE MENTIONED IN ITS
PREFATORY STATEMENT THE ALLEGED SERIES OF VIOLENCE AND
POLITICAL VENDETTA IN LUMBAN, LAGUNA, WHICH, APROPOS, IS
NOT FOUND IN THE EVIDENCE ON RECORD.

V
THE HONORABLE COURT SHOULD NOT HAVE MENTIONED THE FACT
THAT THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT IS ALSO ONE OF THE SUSPECTS
TOGETHER WITH OTHERS IN THE ALLEGED MURDER OF THE LATE
JUDGE SOBEJANA AND HIS SON, BECAUSE SAID STATEMENT TENDS
TO CAST UNNECESSARY PREJUDICE AGAINST THE ACCUSED,
SPECIALLY ON APPEAL TO THE HIGHER COURT. (At pp. 47-48, Rollo)
The appellant denies shooting the victim and contends that the gun
he was carrying was given to him by his brother, Mayor Bruno
Ablao, who died during the course of the trial.
This contention is not supported by the evidence.
It is highly improbable under the circumstances of the killing that
the Mayor was the gunman and would have wanted to implicate his
innocent brother in a very serious criminal offense, which was then
punishable by death. We agree with the trial court:
The contention of the accused that the .45 pistol which he brought
to his hiding place was given by Mayor Ablao, a participant in the
session of the Sangguniang Bayan after he heard the first shot, is a
last minute concoction of the defense to explain and to rebut the
prosecution evidence that he was seen running away and in
possession of the possible fatal weapon immediately after the first
shot, the one that finished off Andres Manambit, Sr. It is clear that
accused Mario Ablao was shifting the blame or crime on his coaccused Mayor Ablao who unfortunately is now dead and can no
longer refute his statement. (Rollo, pp. 19-20)

The appellant further contends that he went into biding as he was


then only 18 years old, confused and afraid and because of his
brother's moral ascendancy over him. He had merely obeyed his
brother's order to hide.
This contention is without merit.
If, indeed, the appellant was merely obeying his brother's order to
hide, he had no reason to shoot at Lt. Gapas while he was running
out of the canteen. His acts are more consistent with his having shot
the victim and continuing to shoot at pursuers. The appellant was
seen shooting at the police chief of the municipality by barangay
captain Abraham Abayari. There was cool-headedness and
dangerous criminality instead of the fear and confusion of an
eighteen year old.
An 18 year-old youth would not spend the productive years of his
life hiding from the authorities for a crime he did not commit.
Moreover, it has been repeatedly observed, "The guilty flee when
no man pursueth but the innocent are as bold as a lion." (People v.
Espinosa, G.R. No. 72883, December 20,1989)
There is no reason why he should flee while the elder brother,
leader of the clan, whom he tags as the killer would remain.
As there was no eyewitness to the killing of Manambit who was
willing to directly point to the appellant, his conviction was based
on circumstantial evidence. The businessman who was near the
victim at the time stated he closed his eyes during the shooting and
opened them only when Manambit was lying on the ground dead
and the apparent killer was already being chased. The
circumstances pointing clearly to the guilt of the appelant are:

(1) the victim fell very near the place where the appellant statement
stationed himself.
(2) the appellant was the first person seen coming out of the door
running and carrying a .45 pistol after the shooting of the victim.
(3) there was nobody else who could have shot the victim,
especially not the mayor.
(4) the appellant shot at Lt. Gapas upon seeing him.
(5) the appellant ran away from the scene of the crime and
remained in hiding for 2 1/2 years.
(6) the fatal wound was caused by a .45 caliber bullet or slug, similar
to the bullets of the gun carried by the appellant.
(7) from all the people who were present during the killing of the
victim, only the appellant went into hiding.
We agree with the trial court that the combination of all the above
circumstances is such as to prove the guilt of the appellant beyond
reasonable doubt. (See Sec. 5, Rule 133, Rules of Court; People v.
Agan, G.R. 77713, February 6,1990; People v. Asuncion, G.R. No.
83870, November 14, 1989; and People v. Salcedo, G.R. No. 78774,
April 12, 1989)
However, the Court finds that the trial court's conclusion that the
appellant is guilty of murder, the crime charged, is not supported by
the established facts and the law. There is insufficient evidence to
show that treachery or evident premeditation, the qualifying
circumstances alleged in the information, attended the commission
of the crime. While the political vendetta and the more than thirty

killings resulting from the feud are well-known to the Judge who
was handling these cases, the non-presentation of the evidence
attesting to premeditation in this particular case prevents us from
sustaining the charge of murder. To the extent that conspiracy and
the stances raising the crime to murder may not be proved by a
Judge's notice of evidence in other cases, the fourth and fifth
assigned errors are given partial consideration. It is well-settled that
the circumstance that would qualify the crime to murder have to be
proved as indubitably as the crime itself. (People v. Salcedo supra)

the consequences of their act - (People v. Batas, G.R. Nos. 84277-78,


August 2, 1989) as to indicate that evident premeditation attended
the killing of Manambit. The knowledge of the Judge and of the
populace gleaned from the other cases that the feuding enemies
were gunning for each other does not show evident premeditation
in this particular charge.

There being no direct evidence on how the shooting was


committed, treachery cannot be appreciated. There are no
particulars as to the manner in which the aggression was made or
how the act which resulted in the death of the deceased began and
developed. (People v. Bacho, G.R. No. 66645, March 29,1989; and
People v. Gaddi, G.R. No. 74065, February 27, 1989)

The appellant also contends that it was an error to consider the


disregard or insult of rank as an aggravating circumstance as it was
not alleged in the information and granting, arguendo, that there is
no need to allege it, there was no proof that Mario Ablao insulted or
disregarded deliberately the rank of the deceased.

The testimony of Dr. Reyes as to the shot in the back of the victim's
head is not conclusive proof that there was treachery. The fact that
the fatal wounds were found at the back of the deceased does not,
by itself, compel a finding of treachery. Such a finding must be
based on some positive proof and not merely by an inference drawn
more or leas logically from hypothetical fact. (People v. Marciales,
166 SCRA 436, 449 [1988]) The facts preceding the actual shooting
are not in the records.

Generic aggravating circumstances, even if not alleged in the


information, may be proven during the trial over the objection of the
defense and may be appreciated in imposing the sentence.

As regards evident premeditation, there is no clear and convincing


proof relative to (1) the time when the appellant determined to
commit the crime, (2) an act manifestly indicating that the appellant
clung to that determination; and (3) sufficient lapse of time
between determination and execution to allow them to reflect upon

There was also no proof presented to indicate the firearm used was
indeed unlicensed.

As held in People v. Ang, (1 39 SCRA 11 5, 121 [1985]):

The aggravating circumstance of disregard or insult of rank is


appreciated in this case. The fact that the appellant shot the victim
while still in the session hall immediately after the meeting and with
the other Sanggunian members still around indubitably prove that
the appellant deliberately intended to disregard or insult his rank.
Moreover, the appellant was the chairman of the Kabataang
Barangay (tsn., p. 137) in their place and was expected to be in close
coordination with the victim. He knew the political clout and official
position of the victim vis-a-vis his brother, the mayor. The victim
was his elder counterpart in the barangay movement.

The mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender is not present in


this case.

The crime is now homicide with the aggravating circumstance of


disregard or insult of rank.

In order that voluntary surrender may be appreciated, it is


necessary that the same be spontaneous in such manner that it
shows the intent of the accused to surrender unconditionally to the
authorities, either because he acknowledges his guilt or because he
wishes to save them the trouble and expense necessarily incurred in
his search and capture. (People v. Lingatong, G.R. No. L-34019,
January 29, 1990) There was no spontaneous surrender in this case
as the appellant went into hiding for 2-1/2 years. And assuming the
truth of his contention that he surrendered, it was because of the
Sobejana killing.

WHEREFORE, the judgment of the trial court is MODIFIED, and the


accused-appellant Mario Ablao is found GUILTY beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of homicide with the aggravating circumstance
of disregard or insult of rank. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence
Law, the accused- appellant is hereby sentenced to suffer the
indeterminate penalty of TEN (10) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY of prision
mayor to TWENTY (20) YEARS of reclusion temporal. The award of
indemnity, in the amount of THIRTY THOUSAND PESOS ( P30,000.00
), and costs is AFFIRMED.

Lastly, the appellant contends that the prefatory statement made


by the trial court about the series of violence and political vendetta
in Lumban, Laguna and its reference to the accused-appellant as
one of the suspects in the killing of Judge Sobejana and son was
prejudicial to the accused as it psychologically tends to cast
unnecessary prejudice on his person and his presumed innocence.
The Court's judgment as to the author of the killing is based only on
the evidence presented. The prefatory statement and the statement
that the appellant was one of the suspects in another killing are
material insofar as evident premeditation and treachery are
concerned. They show that this particular killing was part of a
liquidation campaign where the victims are killed with no mercy and
qualms being shown. We have, however, discounted these
qualifying circumstances.

SO ORDERED.
Fernan, C.J. (Chairman), Feliciano, Bidin and Cortes, JJ., concur.

EN BANC
G.R. No. 140872

a) Indemnity for victims death P 50,000.00


June 23, 2003
b) Loss of earning capacity

50,000.00

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
PABLITO INGGO y TAMBULA, Accused-Appellant.
DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:
For automatic review is the decision1 of the Regional Trial Court of
Dipolog City, Branch 8, dated October 6, 1999, in Criminal Case No.
7593, convicting appellant Pablito T. Inggo of murder, sentencing
him to suffer the penalty of death, and ordering him to pay the heirs
of the victim the sum of P500,000 by way of consequential
damages, P100,000 as moral damages, and to pay the costs.
His conviction stemmed from the Information which accused him of
murder, allegedly committed as follows:
That, in the afternoon, on or about the 15th day of August, 1996, in
the municipality of Katipunan, Zamboanga del Norte, within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused armed with
hunting knife and with intent to kill by means of treachery and
evident premeditation, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and
feloniously attack, assault and stab one ROSEMARIE CONDE
REINANTE, thereby inflicting upon her several wounds on the vital
parts of her body which caused her death shortly thereafter; that as
a result of the commission of the said crime the heirs of the herein
victim suffered the following damages, viz:

P100,000.00
CONTRARY TO LAW (Viol. of Art. 248, Revised Penal Code), with the
qualifying circumstances of treachery and evident premeditation.2
Appellant pleaded not guilty when arraigned on January 17, 1997.
Trial on the merits ensued thereafter.
The version of the prosecution, as summed up from the records by
the Office of the Solicitor General, is as follows:
On August 15, 1996, about 8:00 oclock in the morning, Rosemarie
Reinante3 requested her parents-in-laws house helper, Leonisa
Insic,4 to go to her house in Poblacion Katipunan, Zamboanga del
Norte, to do some household chores (p. 3, TSN, July 15, 1997).
Leonisa Insic went to Rosemarie Reinantes house as bidden (p. 8,
TSN, July 8, 1997).
About 1:00 oclock in the afternoon of that day, Leonisa Insic
returned to the house of Rolando Reinante, Sr. where she was
living. She proceeded to the kitchen to take her lunch (p. 10, TSN,
July 15, 1997). While she was eating, Leonisa Insic noticed
somebody buy a bottle of beer from Rolando Reinante, Sr.s store
which was then being tended by Lando Tangga, another
housekeeper of Rolando Reinante, Sr. The store was attached to the

house of Rolando Reinante, Sr. Later, Leonisa Insic identified that


somebody as the appellant (pp. 8-10, TSN, July 8, 1997; p. 15, TSN,
July 15, 1997).
Appellant gave the amount of P50.00 as his payment for the beer.
Since there was not enough cash to change the fifty-peso bill, Lando
Tangga asked Leonisa Insic to have the fifty-peso bill changed to
smaller denominations. Leonisa Insic consequently went to another
store to have the bill changed to smaller denominations (ibid.).
Leonisa Insic returned to the store moments later after having the
fifty-peso bill changed to smaller denominations. She gave the
money to Lando Tangga but the latter refused to accept it. Instead,
he told Leonisa Insic to give the change to appellant. Leonisa Insic
obliged. Leonisa Insic then approached appellant and tried to give
him his change. Appellant, however, refused to accept his change
and insisted that he should get back the full amount he gave.
Exchange of words, thereafter, ensued between Leonisa Insic and
appellant (pp. 11-13, TSN, July 8, 1997).
While appellant and Leonisa Insic were having an exchange of
words, Rosemarie Reinante arrived. Consequently, Rosemarie
Reinante asked for the money and volunteered to give it to
appellant. Appellant still refused to accept his change from
Rosemarie Reinante which led to an argument (pp. 13-15, ibid.).
While appellant and Rosemarie Reinante were thus arguing,
appellant suddenly rushed to Rosemarie Reinante. When he was
already near her, he loosened his belt and removed it from his
waist. Rosemarie Reinante consequently ran. Appellant chased her
and when he caught up with her, appellant stabbed her.

Immediately, Leonisa Insic came to Rosemarie Reinante's rescue.


She tried to separate Rosemarie Reinante and appellant by holding
the latter's hands. Leonisa Insic was able to stop appellant which
gave Rosemarie Reinante an opportunity to run towards the road.
However, appellant was able to get away from Leonisa Insic and
chased Rosemarie Reinante again. When appellant failed to catch
up with Rosemarie Reinante, he ran towards the direction going to
the cemetery of Katipunan (pp. 15-16, ibid.).
Leonisa Insic saw Rosemarie Reinante fall down when she reached
the road. She then ran towards Rosemarie Reinante's house to
report the matter to Rolando Reinante, Jr. She did not find Rolando
Reinante, Jr. in their house. Instead, she found some of the house
helpers (names not on record) of Rosemarie Reinante. When they
asked her what happened, she said that Rosemarie Reinante was
stabbed. Leonisa Insic did not anymore return to the place where
Rosemarie Reinante fell down because she was afraid (pp. 16-18,
ibid.).
Later, policemen arrived. Together with Leonisa Insic, they brought
Rosemarie Reinante to the Dipolog City hospital. When they
reached the hospital, Rosemarie Reinante was pronounced dead on
arrival (pp. 18-19, ibid.).5
The defenses version based on the lone testimony of the accused
is, as summarized by the trial court, as follows:
That he was an ice cream vendor before he was arrested and
detained in jail on August 15, 1996.1wphi1 xxx That in the morning
of August 15, 1996, from Katipunan, Z.N., where he resides, he went
to Roxas, an adjoining town of Katipunan to sell ice cream. He was

just walking while pushing his ice cream box along the way as he
passed and sold ice cream to children and students in schools at
Brgy. Tambo, Piao, and Nabilid, before reaching the poblacion of
Roxas about 12:00 oclock noon. He took his lunch *in+ the public
market of Roxas, after which he drunk tuba and started back on his
way to Katipunan at about 1:00 oclock as he continued selling his
wares on the same route he took in going to Roxas. It was already
about 4:00 oclock in the afternoon when he arrived *in+ Katipunan.
However, he was not able to reach his house because when he was
at the crossing nearby the cemetery of Katipunan, he was waylaid
by three armed men whose names were unknown to him except
that he could only recognize their faces, and apprehended him. So
he asked the persons who apprehended him what was his fault, but
was told in reply "just [come] with us". Without showing any
resistance, he was brought to the police station of Katipunan. Then
at the police station, the three persons who waylaid him took off his
T-shirt, pants, and shoes. They also took off his brief[s]. Thereafter,
he was detained in jail. While in detention, he was not informed of
his right to counsel and neither was he accorded the assistance of a
lawyer. He was not also informed of his right to remain silent and
that anything he would say or any statement he made may be used
against him.

returned to him by the policemen. That while in the detention cell,


he was boxed and mauled by two police officers one of whom he
recognized as a certain Rodel Castillon while he did not know the
name of the other. The mauling xxx made him unconscious as he
suffered injuries on the different parts of his body. That upon
regaining consciousness, he noticed that he already sustained a
[stab] wound on his stomach above his navel. He could not
remember nor identify the person who stabbed him.

That by about 6:00 oclock *of+ that afternoon, he was brought by


the policemen to the provincial hospital in Dipolog City. The
purpose of bringing him to the hospital was just to examine his
breathing, but the doctor who examined him observed that he was
under the influence of liquor or ha*d+ taken intoxicating drinks he
was brought back to the detention cell of Katipunan Police Station.
He had already put on or put back his [clothes], which were

Exh. "C" - a yellow towel with blood stain allegedly carried by the
accused at the time of the incident;

In the morning of August 16, 1996, he was again brought to the


same hospital xxx for [the] treatment of his [stab] wound. He was
admitted [to] the hospital from August 16, 1996 to August 22,
1996 the accused denied the ownership of the following exhibits
for the prosecution, to wit:
Exh. "A" - a dirty white T-shirt with green combination allegedly
wor[n] by the accused at the time of the incident;
Exh. "B" - a leather belt with a secret pocket that serves as a
scabbard sewn in the inside face of the belt and the stainless knife
that fits into the secret pocket, allegedly own[ed] by the accused
and allegedly used by him in stabbing the victim Rosemarie Conde
Reinante and in stabbing himself in an attempt to commit suicide;

Exh. "D" - a stainless hunting knife, measuring 4 1/2 inches by its


blade, and 2 1/2 inches by its handle, mentioned in Exh. "B".
The accused likewise denied knowing the victim Rosemarie Conde
Reinante as well as her husband Rolando Reinante, Jr. He further

denied knowing the two witnesses for the prosecution Leonisa Insic
and Lando Tangga. That he did not see all the above-named persons
on August 15, 1996, because on that day, he was at the nearby
town of Roxas selling ice cream.6

ALTHOUGH THE SAME WERE NOT ESTABLISHED BEYOND


REASONABLE DOUBT.

The trial court found the evidence for the prosecution credible and
sufficient to convict appellant of murder beyond reasonable doubt.
The decretal portion of its decision reads:

THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN SENTENCING THE ACCUSEDAPPELLANT TO DEATH DESPITE THE FACT THAT NO QUALIFYING
AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCE WAS ATTENDANT.

WHEREFORE, and for all of the foregoing observations, and finding


the guilt of the accused established by proof beyond reasonable
doubt, herein accused Pablito Inggo y Tambula, is hereby convicted
of the crime of Murder charged against him as principal by direct
participation, and in the light of Article 248 of the Revised Penal
Code, as amended by Rep. Act 7659, sentence[d] to suffer the
supreme penalty of DEATH, to indemnify the heirs of the victim
Rosemarie Conde Reinante, the sum of P500,000.00 by way of
consequential damages, P100,000.00 as moral damages, and to pay
the costs.

III

SO ORDERED.7

Appellant insists that he was merely "framed-up" by the police who


could not find the real perpetrator. He points to the stab wound he
sustained while in detention as proof of the devious and diabolical
machinations by the police officers to implicate him in the said
crime.9 He contends that, granting without admitting that he was
the assailant, there could be no treachery since the victim provoked
appellant by arguing with him when she tried to force him to
receive the P40.00 change. Appellant adds that since the assault
was frontal, it could not be said to have been sudden and
unexpected.10

Hence, this automatic review, with appellant assigning the following


errors:
I
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN APPRECIATING THE QUALIFYING AND
AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCES OF TREACHERY, WITH INSULT OR
IN DISREGARD OF THE RESPECT DUE THE OFFENDED PARTY ON
ACCOUNT OF HER RANK, AGE AND SEX, AND INTOXICATION,

II

NOTWITHSTANDING ALL THESE, THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN


CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT ALTHOUGH IT IS EVIDENT
THAT HE WAS ONLY FRAMED-UP.8
Principally, the issues for our resolution are (a) whether appellants
guilt was proved beyond reasonable doubt, and (b) whether the
penalty of death was properly imposed on him. To resolve these
issues, we must also inquire into credibility of the witnesses and
their testimonies.

The appellee, as represented by the Office of the Solicitor General


(OSG), counters that appellants claim that he was merely framed
up should be rejected as it is uncorroborated and unsubstantiated
by any evidence other than his self-serving claim. Contrary to
appellants claim, two eyewitnesses positively identified appellant
as the perpetrator of the crime.11 The OSG asserts that treachery
attended the commission of the crime as the attack was so sudden
and so unexpected since the victim did not know that appellant had
a knife with him, securely sewn and hidden inside his belt. Even if
there was a prior argument between appellant and Rosemarie, she
could not have anticipated that he would stab her.12
Well-established is the principle that the findings of the trial court
on the credibility of witnesses and their testimonies are accorded
great weight and respect, even finality, on appeal unless the trial
court has failed to appreciate certain facts and circumstances which,
if taken into account, would materially affect the result of the
case.13 We have thoroughly reviewed the records of this case and
we see no compelling reason to depart from this well-settled rule.
The positive identification of appellant by the two eyewitnesses,
Leonisa Insic and Lando Tangga, cannot be overcome by denial and
allegation of a "frame-up". Like alibi, which by its nature is
inherently weak, the allegation of frame-up is easy to concoct,
hence it has been viewed by this Court with disfavor.14 Leonisa Insic
categorically pointed to appellant in open court as the same man
who after drinking a bottle of beer bought from her masters store,
refused to receive his change and instead insisted on getting back
his P50 bill. She also positively identified appellant as the same man
who stabbed her Manang Rosemarie Reinante to death.15 Although
a mere house helper16 who had studied up to Grade 2 only, and had

stayed in the mountains until she was 18 years old, she testified in a
candid and straightforward manner worthy of belief. The affidavit
she executed was fully explained to her in the vernacular and she
affirmed that she signed it because she understood it and knew it to
be the truth.17
Witness Lando Tangga corroborated Leonisas testimony. According
to Tangga, he explained to appellant that the bottle of beer was
worth P10.00, so that his change was P40.00 but appellant refused
the change, claiming that it was insufficient. So Tangga then asked
Leonisa Insic to be the one to explain to appellant and return his
change, but to no avail. After sometime, Tangga saw his Manang
Rosemarie arrive. Rosemarie got the money from Leonisa and tried
to give it to appellant. But appellant then rushed towards
Rosemarie to stab her. Tangga testified that appellant delivered the
fatal blow on her stomach.18
No ill motive was imputed or shown against these two witnesses as
to why they would falsely testify against appellant. The mere fact
that Rolando Reinante, Jr., Rosemaries husband, was with them
when they gave their statements at the police station did not taint
their credibility. For the husband of the deceased victim surely
wanted to see that the real perpetrator be punished for her death.
Contrary to appellants contention, no grieving husband would
coach his household helpers to impute a crime on someone whom
they knew to be innocent. That would be contrary to human nature
and experience. Absent any evidence showing a reason or motive
for prosecution witnesses to perjure their testimonies, the logical
conclusion is that no improper motive exists, and that their
testimonies are worthy of full faith and credit.19

Appellant claims to be merely passing through the area when the


police apprehended him. However, he could not present any
witness who can support his allegation. To the contrary, a witness
for the prosecution, Edmundo Ballares,20 testified that while he was
in the cemetery, he saw police officer Edgar Calisas pursuing a man
from the highway running towards the cemetery.21 When the police
caught up with the man, Ballares offered his assistance by holding
the hands of the man, and thereafter bringing him towards the
road.22 The candid and straightforward testimony of Ballares stems
from a forthright narration of what he actually witnessed. The
grueling cross-examination by the defense counsel could not shake
the foundation of his account. Witness Ballares positively pointed to
appellant as the man chased by the police and subsequently caught
in the premises of the cemetery.
Appellant denies the charge against him, but his denial and his claim
of "frame-up" are unsubstantiated by clear and convincing
evidence. His denial is a negative and self-serving testimony which
deserves no weight in law. It should not be given greater evidentiary
value than the testimony of credible witnesses who testify on
affirmative matters.23
Appellant claims maltreatment committed on him by the Katipunan
police. These claims are, however, also uncorroborated and
unsubstantiated. He was unable to present any medical certificate
concerning any injury he might have sustained on account of
mauling or maltreatment. He did not file any criminal or
administrative charge against the police officers to whom he
attributed the maltreatment. Noteworthy, the prosecution
presented a medical certificate as evidence that the stab wound of
appellant was self-inflicted.24 In the absence of any clear and

convincing proof, to the contrary, the presumption stands that


there was regularity in the performance of official duties25 by the
Katipunan police. Otherwise, it would become facile and convenient
for any accused to shout maltreatment and render inutile any arrest
lawfully made, to the detriment of peace and order in the
community.
While we find that sufficient evidence was presented to sustain the
conviction of the appellant for stabbing to death Rosemarie
Reinante, we are unable to agree that treachery was proved by the
prosecution. The qualifying circumstance of treachery cannot be
presumed and must be proved as sufficiently as the crime itself.
Treachery or alevosia exists when the offender commits any of the
crimes against persons employing means, methods, or forms in the
execution thereof which tend directly and specially to insure its
execution, without risk to himself arising from the defense which
the offended party might make.26 To prove treachery, the
prosecution must show (a) that at the time of the attack, the victim
was not in a position to defend himself and (b) that the accused
consciously adopted the particular means, method, or form of
attack employed by him.27 Here, the prosecution failed to show
adequately these requisite elements.
As testified to by the eyewitness, Leonisa Insic, appellant first
chased Rosemarie before he was able to inflict the fatal stab against
her. A portion of her testimony runs as follows:
Q: Now, you said that the man rushed on your Manang Rosemarie,
were they able to get near each other?
A: Yes, sir.

Q: And what did you notice when they were already near to each
other?
A: Then, I noticed that the man loosen his belt and he took off that
belt from his waist.
Q: After that man loosen his belt, took off from his waist, what did
that man do?
A: Then, that man chased Manang Rosemarie at a swing and then
later on stabbed Manang Rosemarie.28
It is apparent that Rosemarie tried to run away but appellant caught
up with her. Based on eyewitness testimony, we are not convinced
that treachery attended the commission of the crime. The stabbing
was not instantaneous. It was preceded by heated arguments. The
victim must have been forewarned that appellant might try to harm
her. Where an argument or a quarrel preceded a killing, treachery is
non-existent since the victim could be said to have been forewarned
and could anticipate aggression from assailant.29
For treachery to be considered, not only must the victim be without
means of defending herself, but also the means, method, or form
employed by the assailant must have been consciously adopted.
The interval of time between the act of loosening his belt, getting
the knife, chasing the victim and eventually stabbing her sufficiently
shows that the use of the knife was not consciously thought of, but
rather it came together with appellants outburst, arising from the
heated arguments he had with Leonisa and then the victim. Thus,
we cannot sustain the view that treachery attended the commission
of the crime to qualify it as murder. We hold that appellant is liable
only for homicide.

Moreover, here the generic aggravating circumstance of disregard


of sex could not be considered in the perpetuation of the offense.
Disregard of sex which, for obvious reasons refers to the female
gender, requires that the accused must have deliberately intended
to insult or to show manifest disrespect for the sex of the offended
party.30 Here, we find no showing that the attack showed a manifest
disrespect for the gender of the victim. Apparently, the victim
arrived unexpectedly and took the cudgels for Leonisa, re-directing
appellants ire toward the victim herself.
Further, we find the alternative circumstance of intoxication
inexistent. Intoxication to be aggravating must have been the
source of bravado that propelled the accused to commit the crime.
As we have previously held:
Our penal laws do not look kindly on habitual drunkards, or if the
accused already resolved to commit the crime, then got intoxicated
so as to fortify that resolve with false courage dictated by liquor, his
liability should be aggravated. Although there is no hard and fast
rule on the amount of liquor that the accused imbibed on that
occasion, but the test is that it must have sufficed to affect his
mental faculties, to the extent of blurring his reason and depriving
him of self-control.31
Here, appellants degree of intoxication was not proved with
certainty. He had allegedly been drinking tuba earlier that day, and
he did buy a bottle of beer at the store of the victims in-laws. But
these facts are not sufficient to establish that indeed appellant was
intoxicated at the time he committed the crime, much less that he
sought intoxication to fortify his resolve in committing it. Absent
clear and convincing proof as to appellants state of intoxication, we

are unable to agree that the alternative circumstance of intoxication


was present to aggravate the offense.
In any event, intoxication as well as disregard of sex were not
alleged in the information, hence, these may not be considered to
aggravate the crime for the imposition of a higher penalty, whether
by degrees or periods. This is pursuant to the amendments made to
the Revised Rules of Court, particularly to Sec. 8 of Rule 110 of the
Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure32 (which took effect on
December 1, 2000). This section now mandates that the complaint
or information should state not only the qualifying but also the
aggravating circumstances in order that they may be appreciated.
Since this procedural rule is favorable to the accused, it is proper to
give it retroactive effect in this case.
The award of damages also needs modification. The award of
consequential damages in the amount of P500,000 is deleted for
lack of factual basis. Instead, we award in favor of the victims heirs
the amount of P50,000 as indemnity ex delicto.33 The award of
moral damages is also reduced from P100,000 to P50,000,
consistent with our recent case law.34 In addition, we award another
P25,000 as temperate damages35 considering that it has been
shown that the victims family suffered some pecuniary loss but the
amount thereof was not sufficiently established.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Dipolog
City, Branch 8, convicting appellant Pablito T. Inggo, of murder and
sentencing him to death in Criminal Case No. 7593 is hereby
MODIFIED. Appellant is found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of
HOMICIDE as defined by Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code. For
that offense, the penalty set therefor is reclusion temporal in its

medium period,36 there being no aggravating or mitigating


circumstance, in accordance with Article 64 (1) of the Code.
Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, appellant is hereby
sentenced to suffer imprisonment for an indeterminate period
ranging from six (6) years and one (1) day of prision mayor in its
minimum period as minimum, to fourteen (14) years, eight (8)
months and one (1) day of reclusion temporal in its medium period
as maximum. Appellant is also ORDERED to pay the heirs of the
victim P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral damages,
and P25,000.00 as temperate damages. Costs de oficio.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Puno, Vitug, Panganiban, Ynares-Santiago,
Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Corona, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr.,
and Azcuna, JJ., concur.
Austria-Martinez, J., on official leave.

N BANC
G.R. No. 139230

April 24, 2003

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee,


vs.
MANUEL DANIELA alias MANUEL DE LA CRUZ @ TAGALOG and
JOSE BAYLOSIS y BAISAC, appellants.
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
Before the Court on automatic review is the Decision1 dated March
31, 1997 of Branch 18 of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, in
Criminal Case No. CBU-42044, convicting appellants Manuel Daniela
and Jose Baylosis of robbery with homicide, sentencing them to
death and directing them to pay, jointly and severally, to the heirs
of the victim Ronito Enero, the sum of P50,000 and to restitute to
said heirs the cash and pieces of jewelry taken by them.
The Antecedents
Ronito Enero and his common-law wife Maria Fe Balo and their
three children: May, 4 years old, Joan, 3 years old, and Ronito, Jr., 1
year old, resided in Sawang, Calero, Pasil, Cebu City. The couple
eked out a living vending fish at the Pasil public market near their
house. They employed Leo Quilongquilong, the cousin of Maria Fe,
as helper in their business and Julifer Barrera, a "tomboy" as their
house help. Both lived with the couple. Manuel Daniela had been a
"barkada"; of Ronito in Dansalam, Davao City years back, while
Imelda, Manuels wife, was Maria Fes friend and former classmate.

On March 28, 1996, Manuel and Jose Baylosis arrived in Cebu City
and stayed in the house of Joel Colejara in Pardo. Manuel and Jose
went to the market and met Maria Fe. The latter informed Manuel
where she and Ronito lived. Since then, Manuel and Jose had been
to the house of the couple and Manuel was able to borrow money
from them in the amount of P800.
At about 7:00 p.m. on March 30, 1996, Maria Fe was at the public
market when she was asked by Roland Pedrejas alias "Potot"
whether Manuel was already in their house. She replied that she did
not know. Later that evening, Maria Fe, Ronito, Leo and Julifer had
just taken their dinner when Manuel and Jose arrived. Manuel told
Ronito that he wanted to borrow money from him and Maria Fe.
The latter refused to lend Manuel the money but she was prevailed
upon by Ronito. Manuel, Jose and Ronito then had a drinking spree
in the sala. Maria Fe and Julifer went to sleep in the formers
bedroom while Leo slept in the sala.
At about midnight, Maria Fe woke up and told Ronito, Manuel and
Jose to sleep because she had to leave at one oclock early that
morning. By then, Ronito was already inebriated. She then spread
mat in the sala for Manuel and Jose to sleep on. She and Ronito
then went to their room and slept.
At around 2:00 a.m. of March 31, 1996, Manuel, armed with a .38
caliber gun and holding a flourescent lamp, entered the bedroom of
Ronito and Maria Fe. He poked the said gun on Maria Fe. She woke
up and attempted to stand up but Manuel ordered her to lie down.
Jose, armed with a knife followed Manuel to the bedroom. The
latter ordered Jose to tie the hands of Maria Fe behind her back and
put a tape on her mouth. Jose complied. On orders of Manuel, Jose

woke up Leo and brought him to the room. Jose tied the hands of
Leo behind his back. Jose and Manuel then divested Maria Fe of her
necklace, rings and earrings. Manuel demanded that she give them
her money but Maria Fe told them that she had used her money to
pay her partners in the fish vending business. Manuel and Jose did
not believe Maria Fe. They ransacked the room but failed to find
money. Julifer woke up but Manuel and Jose threatened to kill her if
she shouted. The two tied Julifers hands at her back. Manuel then
threatened to explode the grenade tucked under his shirt and kill
Maria Fe, her family and their househelps if she refused to
surrender her money. Petrified, Maria Fe took the money from her
waist pouch and gave the same to Manuel and Jose. Manuel took a
blanket and ordered Jose to kill Ronito with it. Jose went to the
kitchen, got a knife, covered Ronito with the blanket and sat on top
of him then stabbed the latter several times. Manuel also stabbed
Ronito on different parts of his body. Ronito could only groan like a
dying pig. Manuel hit Ronito with the butt of his gun. Jose slit the
throat of Ronito and took the latters wristwatch and ring. Manuel
then untied Julifer, removed her clothes and panties and then raped
her. She could do nothing but cry. Manuel and Jose stayed in the
house until 4:00 a.m. Before they left, Manuel and Jose told Maria
Fe that they were acting on orders of Rolando Pedrejas, Joel
Colejara, Grace Pabulacion and Juliet Capuno. They also warned her
and Leo not to report the incident to the police authorities,
otherwise they will kill them and their family. Leo and Maria Fe
managed to untie themselves and reported the incident to
Barangay Chairman Sergio Ocaa who conducted an on-the-spot
investigation of the incident.

Dr. Jesus P. Cerna performed an autopsy on the cadaver and


submitted his Necropsy Report:
POSTMORTEM FINDINGS
Normally developed, fairly nourished, male cadaver, in the state of
rigor mortis. Pallor, marked, generalized; pupils, dilated. Livor [sic]
mortis, brownish most prominent at the neck, shoulder blades,
buttocks and calves.
Abrasions, brownish; chin, mid-anterior aspect, 1.0 x 1.0 cm.; face,
right, 1.0 x 0.2 cm.; face, left, 1.5 x 1.0 cm.
Incised wound, gaping, mid-frontal area, 2.0 x 0.3 cm.
Lacerated wounds; forehead, right, 3.0 x 1.5 cm.; face, left, 1.0 x 0.3
cm.
Stab wound:
Triangular in shaped [sic] 2.0 x 1.0 x 1.cm; extremities sharp, edges,
clean-cut; forehead, left, just above eyebrow; directed backward,
downward and medially, involving the skin and the underlying soft
tissues, making a punch-in fracture on the left frontal bone,
attaining a depth of 3.0 cm. (fracture on the left frontal bone is 2.0
cm. in length and not triangular in shaped [sic], and did not involved
[sic] the whole thickness of the bone).
Stab wounds:
Six in number[s], all elliptical in shaped [sic] and of varying sizes,
three with a length of 1.0 cm. and the other three with a length of
0.7, 0.6 and 0.4 cm.; one extremity of the six stab wounds, rounded,

while the other extremities were sharp, and all edges clean-cut;
located at the neck, anterior aspect closed [sic] to each other; all
were directed backward, downward and then either laterally or
medially, involving the skin and the underlying soft tissues, 3 stab
wounds perforated the trachea and the other 3 stab wounds,
incised the blood vessels, attaining depthness ranging from 1.5, 4.0,
4.5, 5.0 and 8.0 cms.
Stab wound:
Triangular in shaped [sic], 2.0 x 1.8 x 2.0 cm.. extremities sharp,
edges clean-cut; right supra clavicular area, directed backward,
downward and medially, involving the skin and the underlying soft
tissues, perforating the oarta [sic], attaining an approximated depth
of 11.0 cm.
Stab wounds:
Three in number[s], all elliptical in shaped [sic], of varying sizes
ranging from 2.5, 2.0 and 1.2 cm., one extremity rounded, other
extremities sharp, edges clean-cut; thoracic area, anterior aspect;
one was directed backward, upward and laterally penetrating
thoracic cavity, and perforating the heart, with a depth of 8.0 cm.;
other stab wound was directed backward, upward and medially,
penetrating thoracic cavity, perforating the heart, with a depth of
9.5 cm.; other stab wound was directed backward downward and
medially, penetrating thoracic cavity, perforating the heart, with a
depth of 11.0 cm.
Stab wound

Elliptical, 1.8 cm. one extremity contused, other extremity sharp,


edges clean-cut; arm, deltoid area; directed backward, upward and
to the right, involving the skin and the underlying soft tissues,
attaining a depth of 4.5 cm.
Stab wound
Two in number[s], both elliptical in shaped [sic], with sizes of 2.0
and 1.0 cm.; one extremity contused, other extremity sharp, edges
clean-cut; thoracic area, right anterior aspect; one was directed
backward, downward and medially, penetrating thoracic cavity,
incising the upper lobe of the right lung, attaining a depth of 10.0
cm.; other stab wound was directed backward then upwards and
medially, involving the skin and the underlying soft tissues,
penetrating thoracic cavity, perforating the heart, attaining an
approximated depth of 12.0 cm.
Stab wound
Four in number[s], all elliptical in shaped [sic], of varying sizes,
ranging from 1.5, 1.7, 1.5 and 2.0 cm.; one of the extremities were
[sic] sharp, the others were contused, edges clean-cut; located at
the thoraco-abdominal area, anterior aspect; directed backward,
then either downward and upwards and medially or laterally; one
penetrated abdominal cavity and perforated the stomach, with a
depth of 9.0 cm.; the other three incised the sternum, and nonperforating with depthness ranging from 5.0, 2.0 and 1.5 cms.
Stab wound
Elliptical, 1.3 cm. long, one extremity contused, other extremity,
sharp, edges clean-cut; abdomen, left anterior aspect; directed

backward, upwards and medially, penetrating abdominal cavity,


perforating small intestine, attaining an approximated depth of 9.0
cm.
Stab wound
Elliptical, 1.5 cm. long, one extremity contused, other extremity
sharp, edges clean-cut; abdomen, left antero-lateral aspect;
directed backward, upward and medially, involving the skin and the
underlying soft tissues only, attaining a depth of 3.5 cm., nonperforating.
Stab wounds
Elliptical, 2.0 cm. long, one extremity contused, other extremity
sharp, edges clean-cut; back, thoracic area, mid-posterior aspect;
directed forward, downwards and to the left, penetrating left
thoracic cavity, perforating the heart, attaining a depth of 15.0 cm.
Stab wound
Elliptical, 3.2 cm. long, one extremity contused, other extremity
sharp, edges clean-cut; back, left scapular area; directed forward,
downward and lateral, involving the skin and the underlying soft
tissues only, attaining a depth of 4.0 cm.

CAUSE OF DEATH:
Hemorrhage, acute, severe, secondary to multiple stab wounds,
forehead, neck, chest, abdomen and back.2
Dr. Cerna signed the Certificate of Death of Ronito.3
On July 17, 1996, an Information was filed against Manuel and Jose
in the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, which reads:
That on or about the 31st of March, 1996, about 2:00 a.m., in the
City of Cebu, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the said accused, conniving and confederating
together and mutually helping each other, armed with bladed
weapons and handguns, with deliberate intent and with intent to
kill, did then and there attack, assault and use personal violence
upon one Ronito Enero by stabbing him on the vital parts of his
body with said bladed weapons, thereby inflicting upon him physical
injuries thus causing his instantaneous death, and with intent of
gain, did then and there take and carry away therefrom the
following:
a) 1 gold necklace worth

P 7,000.00

b) 1 pair of gold earrings

1,100.00

c) 2 gold rings worth

3,800.00

d) cash amounting to

30,000.00

e) 1 Seiko wristwatch

900.00

Brain and other visceral organs, pale;


Hemothorax, approximately 2000 cc.
Hemoperitoneum, approximately 500 cc.
Stomach, full of food particles (positive for alcoholic odor).

f) 1 Seiko wristwatch

1,800.00

g) 1 gold ring worth

900.00

valued in all at P45,500.00, belonging to Ronito Enero and Maria Fe


Balo, to the damage and prejudice of the owners in the amount of
P45,500.00, Philippine Currency.
CONTRARY TO LAW.4
When arraigned on October 17, 1996, both accused, assisted by
counsel, pleaded not guilty.5
Thereafter trial ensued. The prosecution presented Dr. Cerna as its
first witness. It then presented Maria Fe as its second witness.
During the trial on February 4, 1997, Manuel and Jose offered to
withdraw their plea of not guilty, and to enter a plea of guilty to the
crime charged in the information. The prosecution agreed. They
were then rearraigned and pleaded guilty to the crime charged in
the information.6
Nevertheless, the prosecution continued presenting its evidence. It
presented Barangay Captain Ocaa, who testified that when he
talked to Maria Fe and Julifer in their house, Maria Fe told him that
Manuel and Jose had divested her money and personal belongings
and killed her husband Ronito. Julifer also told him that she had
been raped by two of the malefactors. After Sergios testimony, the
prosecution manifested that Leo Quilongquilong, one of the victims,
had already left for Davao City after the incident, and that Julifer
Barrera had refused to take the witness stand for fear for her life,

and for that reason, it will no longer present them as witnesses. The
prosecution thereafter rested its case.
The Defenses and Evidence of Both Accused
When he testified, Manuel admitted having killed Ronito. He
however claimed that he stabbed Ronito in self-defense and in
defense of Jose. He also said that he, Potot, Ronito and Jojo, the
younger brother of Maria Fe, had been engaged in robberies in
Davao City. Sometime in September 1995, the four robbed a person
of P50,000. However, Manuel failed to get his share of the loot
while Ronito, Jojo and Potot got theirs. Manuel was bitter. He later
learned in December 1995 that Ronito and Maria Fe had left Davao
City and settled in Cebu City. On March 26, 1996, Manuel and Jose
arrived in Cebu City to contact Ronito and to get his share of the
loot. Manuel met Ronito on March 29, 1996 at the jai-alai. Ronito
told Manuel to visit him where they can talk. Manuel agreed. In the
evening on March 30, 1996, Manuel and Jose arrived in the house of
Ronito. Manuel wanted to get his share of the loot from Ronito.
Manuel, Jose and Ronito had a drinking spree. However, at about
two oclock at dawn, the next morning, Manuel and Ronito had an
altercation when Manuel demanded that Ronito give him his share
of the loot. Ronito was peeved and told Manuel that he had long
given him his share through a friend. Ronito whipped out a knife
and stabbed Manuel. The latter tried to wrest the knife from Ronito
but failed. However, Jose grappled with Ronito and managed to
wrest possession of the knife. Jose then gave the knife to Manuel
who stabbed Ronito with it.
Manuel denied raping Julifer, and divesting Ronito and Maria Fe of
their valuables. Jose did not anymore testify. His counsel informed

the trial court that the testimony of Jose would only corroborate
the testimony of Manuel.

CRIME OF ROBBERY WITH HOMICIDE WAS NOT PROVEN BEYOND


REASONABLE DOUBT.

On March 31, 1997, the trial court rendered a Decision, the decretal
portion of which reads as follows:

II

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing considerations, accused


Manuel Daniela alias Manuel de la Cruz @ Tagalog and Jose Baisac
Baylosis are found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
Robbery with Homicide and they are hereby sentenced to suffer the
supreme penalty of DEATH to be carried out in the manner
prescribed by law. The accused are further directed to pay jointly
and severally, to the heirs of the victim the sum of P50,000.00 and
to restitute to the heirs the cash & pieces of jewelry taken by them
as aforementioned and to pay the costs.
SO ORDERED.7
The trial court declared that Manuel and Jose having pleaded guilty
to the crime charged in the information, the prosecution was
deemed to have proven their guilt of the crime charged, the
remaining matter still to be ascertained was the presence of any
modifying circumstances.
Accused Manuel and Jose, now appellants, assail the decision of the
trial court and insist that:
I
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN IMPOSING THE SUPREME PENALTY OF
DEATH WHEN THE GUILT OF THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS FOR THE

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN IMPOSING THE SUPREME PENALTY OF


DEATH WHEN THE AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCES OF NIGHTTIME
AND DWELLING WERE NOT DULY PROVEN BY THE PROSECUTION.
III
RULE 110, SECTIONS 8 AND 9, OF THE REVISED RULES OF CRIMINAL
PROCEDURE, AS AMENDED, DECEMBER 1, 2000, SHOULD BE GIVEN
RETROACTIVE EFFECT IN THE INTEREST OF JUSTICE.8
Anent the first assigned error, the appellants contend that their plea
of guilty to the crime charged in the information was improvidently
made. When they pleaded guilty, they did so only for homicide but
not for robbery. Neither did appellant Manuel plead guilty to rape.
They assert that their plea of guilty to the crime charged in the
information should be set aside. The trial court erred in convicting
them of the charge on the basis solely on their improvident plea of
guilty. The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) agrees with the
contention of the appellants that their plea of guilty to the crime
charged in the information was improvidently made. Nevertheless,
it contends that there is no more need for the Court to still remand
the case to the trial court as their conviction for the crime charged is
warranted by the evidence adduced by the prosecution
independent of their plea of guilty.

We agree with the appellants that their plea of guilty to the crime
charged was improvidently made. Section 3, Rule 116 of the Revised
Rules of Criminal Procedure reads:
SEC. 3. Plea of guilty to capital offense; reception of evidence.
When the accused pleads guilty to a capital offense, the court shall
conduct a searching inquiry into the voluntariness and full
comprehension of the consequence of his plea and require the
prosecution to prove his guilt and the precise degree of culpability.
The accused may also present evidence on his behalf.
The felony of robbery with homicide is a capital offense, the
imposable penalty therefor being reclusion perpetua to death.
The raison detre behind the rule is that courts must proceed with
caution where the punishable penalty is death for the reason that
the execution of such a sentence is irrevocable and experience has
shown that innocent persons have at times pleaded guilty.
Improvident plea of guilty on the part of the accused when capital
crimes are involved should be avoided since he might be admitting
his guilt before the court and thus forfeit his life and liberty without
having fully comprehended the meaning and import and
consequences of his plea.9 Under this rule, three things are enjoined
upon the trial court, namely:
(1) the court must conduct a searching inquiry into the
voluntariness of the plea, and the accuseds full comprehension of
the consequences thereof; (2) the court must require the
prosecution to present evidence to prove the guilt of the accused
and the precise degree of his culpability; and (3) the court must ask

the accused if he desires to present evidence on his behalf and


allow him to do so if he desires.10
As explained by the Court in People v. Alicando,11 the searching
questions must focus on (1) the voluntariness of the plea; and (b)
the full comprehension of the accused of the consequences of the
plea. As elaborated on by the Court in People v. Nadera,12 the trial
court The warnings given by the trial court in this case fall short of the
requirement that it must make a searching inquiry to determine
whether accused-appellant understood fully the import of his guilty
plea. As has been said, a mere warning that the accused faces the
supreme penalty of death is insufficient. For more often than not,
an accused pleads guilty upon bad advice or because he hopes for a
lenient treatment or a lighter penalty. The trial judge must erase
such mistaken impressions. He must be completely convinced that
the guilty plea made by the accused was not made under duress or
promise of reward. The judge must ask the accused the manner the
latter was arrested or detained, and whether he was assisted by
counsel during the custodial and preliminary investigation. In
addition, the defense counsel should also be asked whether he
conferred with the accused and completely explained to him the
meaning and the consequences of a plea of guilt. Furthermore,
since the age, educational attainment and socio-economic status of
the accused may reveal insights for a proper verdict in the case, the
trial court must ask questions concerning them. 13
In this case, the certificate of arraignment on record states that
when the case was called for trial on February 4, 1997, the
appellants were called by the trial court and were informed of the

nature of the charge against them. The trial court propounded


questions on the appellants and the latter answered the questions.
Forthwith, the appellants changed their former plea of not guilty to
that of guilty.14 However, there is no record of what questions were
asked by the trial court, and what answers were given by them, or
whether the court explained to the appellants the nature of the
crime with which they were charged, and that they may be
sentenced to death. It cannot be determined whether the questions
of the trial court were searching. The records do not even show if
the trial court explained to the appellants the meaning and legal
effect of mitigating and aggravating circumstances in the
commission of the crime, or if the appellants were asked why they
were changing their plea from not guilty to guilty. Clearly then, the
plea of guilty of the appellants was improvident; hence,
inefficacious. Their conviction for the crime charged cannot be
based solely on their plea of guilty to said crime.
The trial court convicted the appellants of robbery with homicide on
the basis of their plea of guilty during their rearraignment.15
Ordinarily, the case should be remanded to the trial court for the
prosecution and the appellants to adduce their respective
evidences. However, the records show that despite the plea of
guilty of the appellants, the prosecution adduced its evidence. The
appellants likewise adduced their evidence to prove their defenses.
The Court will resolve the case on its merits independent of the plea
of guilty of the appellants rather than remand the case to the trial
court.16
The Crime Committed by the Appellants

The appellants aver that the prosecution failed to prove the crime
of robbery with homicide with which they were charged. Maria Fe
was not a credible witness; her testimony is barren of probative
weight. They contend that as claimed by Maria Fe, the principal
witness for the prosecution, the intention of the appellants in going
to the house of Ronito and Maria Fe was merely to borrow money
from them and not to rob them of their personal belongings. The
prosecution even failed to prove that the appellants robbed Maria
Fe of money and jewelry. Even if it is assumed that they robbed
Maria Fe of money and jewelry, however, they are not liable for
robbery with homicide. That the appellants robbed the couple of
their belongings after borrowing money from Ronito and Maria Fe,
is not determinative of the special complex crime of robbery with
homicide.
On the other hand, the OSG contends that the prosecutor mustered
the required quantum of evidence to prove the constitutive
elements of robbery with homicide. Maria Fe is credible and her
testimony entitled to probative weight. Although the inceptual
intention of the appellants in going to the house of Ronito and
Maria Fe was to borrow money, however, it is equally true that they
intended to rob the victims of their money and personal belongings
and kill Ronito in the process. The evidence on record shows that
the object of the appellants was to rob the victim of their money
and personal properties and kill Ronito on the occasion of the
robbery. The OSG cites the ruling of this Court in United States vs.
Villorente.17
We agree with the OSG. Article 294 of the Revised Penal Code as
amended by Republic Act 7659 reads:

ART. 294. - Robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons


Penalties. Any person guilty of robbery with the use of violence
against or intimidation of any person shall suffer:
1. The penalty of reclusion perpetua to death, when by reason or on
occasion of the robbery, the crime of homicide shall have been
committed, or when the robbery shall have been accompanied by
rape or intentional mutilation or arson.
The law was taken from the Spanish Penal Code which reads:
1. O. Con la pena de reclusion perpetua a muerte, cuando con
motivo o con occasion del robo resultare homicidio.
The elements of the crime are as follows:
(1) the taking of personal property is committed with violence or
intimidation against persons;
(2) the property taken belongs to another;
(3) the taking is done with animo lucrandi; and
(4) by reason of the robbery or on the occasion thereof, homicide is
committed.18
A conviction for robbery with homicide requires certitude that the
robbery is the main purpose and objective of the malefactor and
the killing is merely incidental to the robbery. The animo lucrandi
must proceed the killing. If the original design does not comprehend
robbery, but robbery follows the homicide either as an afterthought
or merely as an incident of the homicide, then the malefactor is
guilty of two separate crimes, that of homicide or murder and

robbery, and not of the special complex crime of robbery with


homicide, a single and indivisible offense.19 It is the intent of the
actor to rob which supplies the connection between the homicide
and the robbery necessary to constitute the complex crime of
robbery with homicide.20
However, the law does not require that the sole motive of the
malefactor is robbery and commits homicide by reason or on the
occasion thereof.21 In People vs. Tidula, et al.,22 this Court ruled that
even if the malefactor intends to kill and rob another, it does not
preclude his conviction for the special complex crime of robbery
with homicide. In People v. Damaso,23 this Court held that the fact
that the intent of the felons was tempered with a desire also to
avenge grievances against the victim killed, does not negate the
conviction of the accused and punishment for robbery with
homicide.
A conviction for robbery with homicide is proper even if the
homicide is committed before, during or after the commission of
the robbery. The homicide may be committed by the actor at the
spur of the moment or by mere accident. Even if two or more
persons are killed and a woman is raped and physical injuries are
inflicted on another, on the occasion or by reason of robbery, there
is only one special complex crime of robbery with homicide. What is
primordial is the result obtained without reference or distinction as
to the circumstances, cause, modes or persons intervening in the
commission of the crime.24
Robbery with homicide is committed even if the victim of the
robbery is different from the victim of homicide, as long as the
homicide is committed by reason or on the occasion of the

robbery.25 It is not even necessary that the victim of the robbery is


the very person the malefactor intended to rob.26 For the conviction
of the special complex crime, the robbery itself must be proved as
conclusively as any other element of the crime.27

And you said he was bringing a kerosene lamp?

Yes.

What did he do with the kerosene lamp?

In this case, the prosecution proved through the testimony of Maria


Fe that the appellants threatened to kill her and her family and
robbed her of her money and jewelry and Ronito and Leos pieces of
jewelry:

A
When he poked his firearm towards me I stood up and then
Manuel Daniela told me to go back to lie down. At that time Jose
Baylosis entered the room.

Q
At about 2:00 A.M. of the following day March 31, 1996 what
happened?
A

This Manuel Daniela pushed the door of our room.

And what did he do after he pushed the door of your room?

A
I was awakened and then I asked him what is it Log. Referring
to Manuel Daniela. [sic] alias Tagalog.
Q

What did you see in Tagalog when he pushed the door open?

A
When Manuel Daniela alias Tagalog entered our room he
poked his handgun caliber 38 on me at that time because he was
bringing a gun.
Q

What is this caliber 38?

A pistol, caliber 38 weapon.

Did you lie down following the order of Manuel Daniela?

Yes, maam. [sic]

Q
Your [sic] said that Jose Baylosis entered the room what did
Jose Baylosis do while you were already lying down?
A

Manuel Daniela order [sic] Jose Baylosis to tie me.

How were you tied?

A
He extended my two hands but Tagalog said that it is not the
way to tie her. So they placed my hands at the back and they put a
masking tape.
Q

Aside from your hands what were tied?

A
Only my hands were tied but Manuel Daniela ordered Jose
Baylosis to let Leo Quilongquilong my cousin to get inside the room.

Q
But how did you know it was a 38 caliber if you do not know
the weapon?

Q
Did Jose Baylosis compky [sic] with the instruction of Manuel
Daniela to let your cousin Leo Quilongquilong to get inside the
room?

Because I ... this caliber 38 he was brining.

Yes, maam.

Did Leo Quilongquilong get inside your room/

They took it from my neck.

Yes, maam.

Who of the two took your gold necklace from your neck?

Jose Baylosis.

Q
What did they do with Leo Quilongquilong at the time Leo
Quilongquilong was already inside the room?
A
They also tied Leo Quilongquilong by extending his both
hands towards them and they also ordered to place his hands at his
back.

Q
After taking the gold necklace from your neck what else did
Jose Baylosis do?
A

Jose Baylosis also removed my god ring?

Is that how Leo Quilongquilong was tied?

How many rings?

Yes, maam.

2.

Q
After you and Leo Quilongquilong were tied what did Manuel
Daniela do?

How much is the value of these two rings?

P3,800.00.

A
They asked money from me but I did not tell them and so
they got my jewelries [sic].

From where did Jose Baylosis take these two gold rings?

From my fingers.

While your hand were tied at the back?

Yes, maam.

What jewelries [sic] were taken from you?

Necklace.

How much was the cost?

P7,000.00.

Q
Aside from the two rings and one necklace what other piece
of jewelries [sic] were taken from you by Jose Baylosis?

Was it a gold, silver or what kind of metal?

My Chinese gold earrings.

Chinese gold.

How much was the value of the Chinese gold earrings?

Where was it placed?

P1,100.00.

Q
From where did Jose Baylosis get your Chinese gold earrings?
from me [sic]
A

From my ears.

Q
While Jose Baylosis was divesting you these pieces of jewelry
what did Manuel Daniela do?

What did you do?

A
That time my cousin Leo woke you [sic] and gave the money
to them but Leo also told [sic] if we will give you the money then we
will ha [sic] no more capital for our business.
Q

And what did you do finally?

A
Manuel Daniela keep on poking his firearm towards me and
his left hand holding a hand grenade, and told me not to shout.

A
Later on, we decided to gather [sic] with my cousin to give
the money in order they will not be killed.

Q
After the two accused were able to divest you of your pieces
of jewelry what else did they do?

A
While Manuel Daniela keep on poking his firearm toward me
Manuel Daniela insisted that the money [sic] would be given and I
told them we have no money because my money was paid for the
fish and also to my partner of fish vending but they did not believe.
Q
Since Manuel Daniela did not believe you that you have no
money what did Manuel Daniela do?
A
They ransacked our room by scattering our clothes looking
for money.

Did you give the money?

A
Yes, maam because my money was inside the box which was
placed inside, it was a waist pouch.
Q
And what material was your pouch made of which contained
the money?
A

It was made of cloth.

Q
How much was the content of your pouch which you said was
placed inside the map.
A

P30,000.00 and a wrist watch.

Was he able to find your money?

And how much is the c[v]alue of the wrist watch?

No maam.

P900.00.

Who got the pouch under the map?

Q
What did he do as he did not find anything after scattering
your clothes?
A
Manuel Daniela and Jose Baylosis told me to give money so
they will not harm us.

A
I was the one pushing out the pouch from over the map
towards Tagalog.

Q
During this time when Manuel Daniela and Jose Baylosis were
divesting you of pieces of jewelry and money what was your
husband Ronito doing?
A
At that time my husband Ronito was sleeping. Manuel
Daniela took a blanket and then Manuel Daniela ordered Jose
Baylosis to kill my husband and Jose Baylosis took a blanket and
covered the mouth of my husband and placed himself on top of the
body of my husband and stabbed.

then Manuel Daniela took over and place himself on top of my


husband and he also stabbed my husband several times using a
batangas knife. At that time Manuel Daniela was on top of my
husband Jose Baylosis also pulled the legs of my husband and he
was stabbed on the lower oar [sic] of the body.
INTERPRETER:
Witness pointing to her abdomen.

COURT:

COURT:

With what weapon?

Kitchen knife.

A
No my husband was never able to stand up because they
helped each other in stabbing him several times.

COURT:
Proceed.
ATTY. DALAWAPU:
Q

Who owned that kitchen knife?

That was taken from our kitchen.

So you owned the knife?

Yes we owned.

Q
And then after Jose Baylosis stabbed your husband several
times that did Manuel Daniela do?
A
While Jose Baylosis stabbed several times my husband mu
[sic] husband shouted, "aray" and then I attempted to stand up and

So your husband was never able to stand?

ATTY. DALAWAPU:
Q
At the time that Jose Baylosis and Manuel Daniela were
stabbing your husband what were you doing?
A
While they were stabbing mu [sic] husband I and my cousin
could not say anything because they threatened to explode the
hand grenade they were holding. We were just on the side of the
room tied and looking them stabbing my husband because they
threatened to explode the hand grenade if we should [sic] for help.
Q
How about Juliefer Barrera your helper what was she doing
at this time that Jose Baylosis and Manuel Daniela were stabbing
your husband?

A
Our helper who slept in the bed was awakened and while she
was awakened Jose Baylosis and Manuel Daniela approached her
and told not to shout and the her hands were tied.
Q
Do you mean to tell this Honorable Court that Manuel
Daniela and Jose Baylosis stabbed and killed your husband after
they were able to get your pieces of jewelry from your person and
the pouch from under the map which contained the sum of
P30,000.00 together with your Seiko watch?
A

Yes, mam [sic].

A
Manuel Daniela said that I would be killed. When Manuel
Daniela was about to stab me my husband also groaned three times
like a dying pig and then this Jose Baylosis and Manuel Daniela
immediately went back to my husband and they stabbed my
husband again several times and then Manuel Daniela strucked [sic]
the head of my husband with the bat of the firearm while Jose
Baylosis stabbed my husband in the neck, made a slit on the neck
with the use of the knife to ensure that he would be deed [sic]. In
fact, the forehead of my husband was broken as a result of the
striking of the bat of the firearm.

COURT:

ATTY. DALAWAMPU:

Q
What time was it at the time your husband was stabbed
several times by both Daniel and Jose?

I would like to make it of record from the very start that the witness
related here how both accused divested her of the pieces of jewelry
and money and killed dead [sic] her husband she keep on crying.

About 2:00 oclock dawn the following day.

ATTY. DALAWAPU:
Q
Ma. Fe after Jose Baylosis and Manuel Daniela stabbed
Ronito what else did they do?

COURT:
Before this Honorable Courts question.
Q

Can you still go on your testimony despite your feelings?

A
After Jose Baylosis and Manuel Daniela killed my husband
Manuel Daniela told me that there was somebody who ordered
them to kill my husband and then I told them if you will killed [sic]
me what will happened [sic] to my three small children who will
support them and also who will support [sic] my parents because
they depend for my support.

Yes, Your Honor.

What did Manuel Daniela say after you told them this?

COURT:
So, lets proceed.
ATTY. DALAWAMPU:
After they stabbed your husband again what did they do?

A
They stabbed again my husband and strucked [sic] the head
of my husband and they went back to me and saying let us kill them
Bay because they are very noisy.28

to demand his separation pay. Although disputed by the Cos, it is


possible that appellant believed, rightly or wrongly, that he had the
right to a separation pay.

It may be true that the original intent of appellant Manuel was to


borrow again money from Ronito and Maria Fe but later on
conspired with Jose and robbed the couple of their money and
pieces of jewelry, and on the occasion thereof, killed Ronito.
Nonetheless, the appellants are guilty of robbery with homicide. In
People v. Tidong,29 this Court held that the appellant was guilty of
robbery with homicide even if his original intention was to demand
for separation pay from his employer and ended up killing his
employer in the process:

The Proper Penalty of Appellants

The defense argues that appellant never had the original design to
rob when he went to the Co compound. That may be so. The
compound of the Cos is fenced and the only entrance is through the
gate with a security guard. It was only 7:00 oclock in the evening
and a number of people were still awake, hardly the proper
occasion for staging a successful robbery. Notable too is the fact
that the amount recovered from appellant was only in the amount
of the separation pay which he demanded, leading to the inference
that perhaps appellant had no original intent to rob the Cos.
Nonetheless, even if there was no original design to commit
robbery, appellant is still liable for robbery if at the time of the
taking of the personal property of another with violence or
intimidation there was intent to gain. Although the Court gives
considerable weight to the theory of the prosecution, we are not
inclined to entirely do away with the version of the defense,
especially with regard to his claim that he went to the Co compound

The trial court sentenced both appellants to death on its finding


that the robbery with homicide was aggravated by nighttime and
dwelling. It appreciated the plea of guilty as a mitigating
circumstance in favor of the appellants.
The trial court correctly appreciated dwelling as an aggravating
circumstance against the appellants. There was no provocation on
the part of Ronito and Maria Fe. The crime was committed in their
dwelling. This Court held that dwelling is aggravating because of the
sanctity of privacy the law accords to human abode. He who goes to
anothers house to hurt him or do him wrong is more guilty than he
who offends him elsewhere.30 However, dwelling is not aggravating
in this case as it was not alleged in the amended information. Under
Section 9, Rule 10 of the Revised Rules of Court, aggravating
circumstances must be alleged in the information31 and proved
otherwise, even if proved but not alleged in the information, the
same shall not be considered by the Court in the imposition of the
proper penalty on the accused. Although the rule took effect only
on December 1, 2000, however, the same may be applied
retroactively.32 The crime was committed at nighttime. However,
there is no evidence that the appellants took advantage of the
darkness of the night in committing the crime or that nighttime
facilitates the commission of the crime. Indeed, the evidence on
record shows that when appellant Manuel barged into the room of
Maria Fe and Ronito, he was holding a kerosene lamp.33 The

appellants are not entitled to the mitigating circumstance of plea of


guilty34 on the finding of the Court that the plea of guilty of the
appellants was improvidently made. Besides, when the appellants
changed their plea, the prosecution had already commenced
presenting its evidence.
The Civil Liabilities of Appellants
The trial court ordered the appellants to pay in solidum to the heirs
of Ronito the amount of P50,000. However, although Maria Fe
testified, the trial court did not award moral damages to said heirs.
Neither did the trial court award exemplary damages. The trial court
ordered the appellants to return to said heirs the pieces of jewelry
taken by them but the trial court failed to specify or describe in its
decision the said pieces of jewelry. Maria Fe testified that the
appellants took her chinese gold necklace worth P7,000; two gold
rings worth P3,000; chinese gold earring worth P1,000; wristwatch
worth P900; and cash money in the amount of P30,000 and that the
appellants took the gold ring of Ronito worth P900, and his
wristwatch worth P1,800. However, the prosecution failed to
adduce documentary evidence to prove the acquisition cost of the
pieces of jewelry taken from Maria Fe and Ronito. Neither is there
any documentary evidence to prove that Maria Fe had P30,000
inside her pouch. Nevertheless, the Court has to modify the decision
of the trial court.
Conformably with current jurisprudence, the heirs of Ronito Enero
are entitled to moral damages in the amount of P50,00035 and
exemplary damages in the amount of P25,000.36 Under Article 105
of the Revised Penal Code,37 the appellants are obliged to return to
Maria Fe the pieces of jewelry they stole from her and to the heirs

of Ronito the wristwatch and ring the appellants took from Ronito,
whenever possible, with allowance for any deterioration or
diminution of value as determined by the trial court. Under Article
10638 of the Revised Penal Code, if the appellants can no longer
return the articles, they are obliged to make reparation for the price
of the pieces of jewelry if they can no longer return the same taking
into account the price and the special sentimental value thereof to
the victims. Under Article 126839 of the New Civil Code, the
appellants are not exempted from the payments of the price of the
stolen articles even if the same are lost, whatever be the cause of
the loss, unless the things having been offered to the owners
thereof, the former refused to receive the same without any valid
cause.
The Verdict of the Court
IN THE LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the Decision of the Regional
Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 18, in Criminal Case No. CBU-42044,
is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Appellants Manuel Daniela and
Jose Baylosis are found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of robbery
with homicide defined in Article 294, paragraph 1 of the Revised
Penal Code, as amended and sentenced to reclusion perpetua. They
are ordered to return to Maria Fe her chinese gold necklace, two
rings, chinese gold earrings and wristwatch, and to return to the
heirs of Ronito Enero his gold ring and wristwatch and if they fail to
return the said pieces of jewelry to Maria Fe and the heirs of Ronito
Enero, respectively, they are ordered to pay in solidum to Maria Fe
and said heirs the value of the said pieces of jewelry to be
determined by the trial court. The appellants are ordered to pay in
solidum to the heirs of Ronito Enero P50,000 as civil indemnity and
P50,000 as moral damages in line with current jurisprudence.

SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Puno, Panganiban, Ynares-Santiago,
Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, CarpioMorales, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.
Vitug, J., in the result.
Quisumbing, J., on official leave.

THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 98431

January 15, 2002

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
JOSUE DELA TORRE, accused-appellant.
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:
Appeal from the Decision1 dated January 28, 1991 of the Regional
Trial Court (Branch 79), Morong, Rizal, in Criminal Case No. 0656,
finding Josue B. Dela Torre guilty of the crime of rape and
sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, and to
pay the costs.
The Information2 against accused Josue Dela Torre reads:
"That on or about the 5th day of November, 1989 in the Municipality
of Teresa, Province of Rizal, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of
this Honorable Court, the said accused, by means of violence and
intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously
have carnal knowledge of the complainant MARITA CORDOVA
against her will.
"Contrary to law with the aggravating circumstance of the crime
having been committed in the house of said offended party who did
not give any provocation for the offense."
Upon being arraigned, the accused pleaded "not guilty."3
Thereafter, trial ensued. In support of its case, the prosecution
presented three witnesses: Marita Cordova, the victim; Melanie

Cordova, the victim's 10 year-old daughter; and Anthony Inocencio,


a barriomate of the victim.
The records show that sometime in September, 1989, Marita
Cordova, 35 years old and married to Paulino Cordova, was
employed as a cook at the La Fiesta Farm owned by Mr. Arturo
Alindada, located in Pantay, a barrio in the Municipality of Teresa,
Rizal.4 Her husband and accused Josue dela Torre were also workers
of the same farm.
Anthony Inocencio5 testified that around 7:00 to 8:00 P.M. of
November 5, 1989, Paulino Cordova went to see him at his farm,
also located in Barrio Pantay, Teresa, Rizal, near the La Fiesta Farm.
Paulino asked for his assistance because the accused, then armed
with a knife and bolo, was causing trouble and commotion at the La
Fiesta Farm of Mr. Alindada. Anthony responded to Paulino's call for
help. Upon arriving at the La Fiesta Farm, he learned that the
accused forcibly took the shoes and money of Mr. Alindada's
workers. Marita and her children asked Anthony whether they could
stay in his farm. He obliged and they all proceeded there. Upon
reaching the farm, Marita told Anthony that she was raped by the
accused that night. Thereupon, he immediately fetched policemen
from Teresa, Rizal and accompanied them to the La Fiesta Farm
where the accused was accosted.6
As to how the rape was committed, Marita, the principal witness for
the prosecution, recounted her harrowing experience at the hands
of the accused. She testified that around 8:00 o'clock in the evening
of November 5, 1989, she was cooking at the kitchen of the La
Fiesta Farm. She was with her five (5) children then, namely: Merly,
13 years old; Melanie, 10; Lyndon, 7; Fullimer, 4; and Johnny Boy,

1.7 Suddenly, the accused, holding a knife and a bolo, appeared in


the kitchen8 and dragged her outside and brought her towards a
house under construction about 200 meters away.990 Marita's
children tried to follow but they desisted when the accused
threatened (tinakot) them.10 So they just stayed at the kitchen.11
While going to the said house, Marita and the accused met Joel
Villasis and Johnny Dizon, also workers in the farm. They saw the
accused poking a knife and a bolo at her.12 Marita asked for their
help but they did nothing because they were afraid of the accused.13
Once inside the house, the accused pushed Marita to the floor,
stoop down in front of her, poked the knife at her throat and pinned
her arms at her back.14 He then raised her dress above her breast.15
Thereupon, he pulled down his pants, took off her panty and placed
himself on top of her.16 Still holding the knife, he pointed it at
Marita's throat and placed the bolo on the ground.17 Afterwards, he
spread her legs, kissed her lips down to her neck and sucked her
breast.18 He then inserted his penis into her vagina and made push
and pull movements for about eight (8) minutes19 and continued
kissing her on the lips.20 While he was raping her, she was unable to
resist because the knife was pointed at her throat and her arms
pinned at her back.21 Thereafter, he stood and threatened her not
to tell anybody about the incident as he would slash her neck.22
That very night Marita found courage to inform Anthony Inocencio,
and later her employer, Mr. Alindada, and her husband of the
sexual assault against her by the accused.23
Melanie Cordova corroborated the testimony of her mother. She
and her siblings were in the kitchen of the La Fiesta Farm that night
when the accused dragged their mother towards the house under

construction (sa bahay na ginagawa). At a distance of two to three


meters, she saw the accused pointing a knife at her mother's throat
and a bolo at her back. They tried to follow them but the accused
got angry. Thus, they remained at the kitchen where they all cried
because of fear.24
The following day, November 6, 1989, Dr. Emmanuel Aranas, a
Medico-Legal Officer at Camp Crame, Quezon City, conducted a
physical examination on Marita. Dr. Aranas' Medico-Legal Report25
discloses the following findings:
"GENERAL AND EXTRAGENITAL
Fairly developed, fairly nourished and coherent female subject.
Breast are pendulous with dark brown areola and nipples from
which no secretion can be pressed out. Abdomen is flat and lax with
striae of pregnancy. The following injuries are noted at the upper
and lower extremities:
(1) Abrasion, proximal phalange of the right index finger,
measuring 0.3 x 0.2 cm.;
(2) Abrasion, distal phalange of the right index finger, measuring
0.5 x 0.1 cm.;
(3) Abrasion, middle 3rd of the right leg, measuring 7 x 4 cm., along
its anterior midline.
CONCLUSION
Subject is in non-virgin state physically.

Barring unforseen complications, it is estimated that the above


injuries will resolve in 5 to 6 days.

On January 28, 1991, the trial court rendered a Decision,29 the


dispositive portion of which reads:

REMARKS

"WHEREFORE, this Court finds the accused JOSUE DELA TORRE


GUILTY of the crime of RAPE under Article 335 of the Revised Penal
Code, as amended, and hereby sentences him to suffer the penalty
of reclusion perpetua and to pay the costs.

Vaginal and peri-urethral smears are negative for gram-negative


diplococci but positive for spermatozoa."
Upon the other hand, the evidence for the defense is based solely
on the testimony of accused Josue Dela Torre. He never denied
having sexual contact with Marita that night of November 5, 1989.
He claimed, however, that she was his mistress and that the carnal
incident between them was consensual. Their relationship started
on June 15, 1987 in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental when he and
Paulino (Marita's husband) had a drinking spree in the house of a
certain Cordova. At around 7:30 in the evening, Paulino got drunk
and fell asleep. Thereupon, he courted Marita, who then told him
that she would be willing to be his mistress if he would give her
permanent support. At 3:00 in the morning of the following day,
they engaged in sexual activity.26 Since then, their sexual affair
became frequent until September, 1989 when Marita was recruited
to work at La Fiesta Farm in Teresa, Rizal owned by Mr. Arturo
Alindada. It was only in October, 1989 when he again met her at the
La Fiesta Farm upon his employment there.27
Accused further narrated that at about 1:00 in the afternoon of
November 5, 1989, he and Marita talked at the kitchen of La Fiesta
Farm. They agreed to meet about 8:00 in the evening in the nearby
house under construction. He arrived first at the place and, shortly
thereafter, she followed. There, they had sexual intercourse on the
ground using "sawali" as mat.28

"SO ORDERED."
In the instant appeal, appellant ascribes to the trial court this lone
assignment of error:
"THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT IN MORONG, RIZAL (BRANCH 79)
ERRED IN FINDING ACCUSSED-APPELLANT JOSUE DELA TORRE
GUILTY OF THE CRIME OF RAPE BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT."30
Appellant's defense is that what transpired between him and Marita
Cordova on November 5, 1989 was consensual, she being his
mistress at the time.
After a thorough and careful review of the evidence adduced by the
parties, this Court finds the appeal bereft of merit.
The incident immediately prior to the rape was described by the
trial court in its appealed decision as a "reign of terror that
pervaded in the La Fiesta Farm" in Barrio Pantay caused by the
appellant who was running wild wielding a knife and bolo.31 This
created an atmosphere of great fear among those who witnessed
the incident. The records do not disclose why the appellant acted
that way. Understandably, every one seemed helpless. The
assistance of the police authorities at that very moment could not

readily be secured apparently because the police station is far,


being located in the Municipality of Teresa. The incident happened
so fast that it enabled the appellant to perpetrate the unfortunate
crime against Marita.1wphi1.nt

Q
Now, Mrs. Witness, what happened next after the accused
pointed a knife at your throat and a bolo at your back?
A

He pushed me inside the house on the ground.

In a candid, straightforward and categorical manner, Marita


disclosed the horrifying ordeal she endured from appellant's
bestiality, completely belying the existence of consent on her part,
thus:

What happened next after he pushed you on the ground.

"x

Q
On or about 8:00 o'clock in the evening of November 5, 1989,
Mrs. witness, do you remember having met or seen the accused
Josue dela Torre?
A

Yes, sir.

Q
Could you please tell the Honorable Court what incident that
happened, Mrs. Witness?
A
It happened at the kitchen. He pushed me to the house under
construction (owned) by our boss (amo).

A
With the knife on my throat and my two (2) hands at the
back with the bolo, he undressed me.
Q
What kind of dress are you wearing, Mrs. Witness, at that
time?
A

I was wearing a dress (bestida).

Q
When you said that the accused undressed you, what exactly
do you mean?
A

He lifted my dress up to a little bit above my breast.

Q
Mrs. Witness, other than your bestida, what was you wearing
at that time?
A

I had only a panty.

Who was this person who pushed you, Mrs. Witness?

What about bra?

Josue dela Torre, sir.

None, sir.

And after Josue dela Torre pushed you, what happened next?

Q
What happened to your panty if any at the time the accused
lifted your dress?

A He pointed a knife at my throat and a bolo pointed (nakatutok)


at my back.
x

He took off my panty.

Q
Did the accused succeed removing your panty at the time,
Mrs. Witness?

Q
And you said that Josue dela Torre was on top of you and his
penis, after ten minutes, what happened next?

A
After he took advantage, he threatened to cut my neck for
me not to tell authorities what happened to me."32

Yes, sir.

Q
Now, Mrs. Witness, after the accused raised your dress above
your dress and after successfully removing your panty, what
happened next?
A
He sucked my breast, he inserted his penis inside my private
part (puke).
Q
Now, Mrs. Witness, could you please tell us what position you
assumed in time the accused inserted his penis in your private part?
A

I was lying on the ground with my back face up.

And what about the accused?

He was on top of me.

Q
And how long was the penis of the accused inserted at your
private part?
A

About ten (10) minutes.

Did the accused make any movement?

He was kissing me and his body was moving up and down.

Did you actually feel the penis in your private part?

Yes, sir.

Melanie, the victim's 10-year old daughter, witnessed how


appellant dragged her mother to the nearby house where the crime
was consummated. She testified as follows:
"FISCAL TOBIA
Q

Melanie, do you know the accused Josue dela Torre?

Yes, sir.

Q
Melanie, your mother previously testified that on November 5,
1989 you saw her being dragged by the accused Josue dela Torre at
the premises of the La Fiesta Farm, what can you say to this?
A

Yes, sir.

Q
How did it come about that you saw her being dragged by
Josue dela Torre on said date, Melanie?
A

I was in the kitchen.

Q
And do you mean to say that it was from the kitchen that the
accused dela Torre dragged your mother?
A

Yes, sir.

Q
And could you please tell the Honorable Court how Josue
dela Torre dragged your mother away from the kitchen?

A
I saw Josue pointing a knife at my mother's throat and a bolo
at my mother's back.
x

Q
Did you actually see your mother being brought to that
house under construction by Josue dela Torre?
A

Yes, sir.

Q
And on the time Josue dela Torre was still pointing a knife at
the throat of your mother and a bolo at her back?
A

Yes, sir.

Q
When you saw your mother being dragged by Josue dela Torre
pointing a knife and a bolo at her, what did you do?
I cried.

Why did you cry?

We have nothing to do but to cry, I was afraid."33

All the while when appellant was sexually gratifying himself, that
same knife was still poked at Marita's throat. This was clearly
pointed out by Marita herself:
x

Q
While he was stooping in front of you, pulling down his pants,
Josue dela Torre is no longer holding knife or bolo?
A
He was still holding the knife while the bolo was in the
ground near him.

Q
And while your legs were widely open and while you are being
kissed by Josue dela Torre that was the time he inserted his penis
inside your genital organ?
A

Yes, sir. Inside my private part.

Q
And at that very moment you were no longer aware whether
Josue dela Torre was holding a knife or not?
A

I still knew he was still holding a knife.

Q
How did you know that he was still holding a knife at that very
moment wherein your legs were widely open and his penis was
inside your genital organ?
A

"x

He was pointing his knife at my throat."34

Evidently, Marita was cowed to submit to appellant's sexual assault


through force and intimidation. Appellant was brandishing a knife
and a bolo when he dragged her to a nearby house being
constructed. Even while appellant was raping her, he was holding
the knife pointed at her throat. After the sexual aggression, he
further threatened to cut off Marita's neck if she would tell the
authorities what happened. The act of holding a knife/bolo, a
deadly weapon,35 by itself strongly suggests force, or intimidation,
and when the same is used to threaten a woman to ensure carnal
knowledge of her, rape is certainly committed.36
Appellant's "sweetheart theory" is totally unavailing. Marita is a
married woman with five children in her care. To embroil her into
such kind of amorous relationship, strong and convincing evidence

is necessary to prove the same. This Court, in several rape cases,37


has not hesitated to sustain the defense of consensual sex.
However, in those cases, evidence like love notes, mementos and
witnesses attesting to a consensual relationship were presented.
Here, other than his bare allegation, appellant failed to present any
evidence to substantiate the existence of such illicit affair. Indeed,
appellant's tale of romance is a desperate attempt to justify his
claim that Marita consented to his sexual desire on November 5,
1989.1wphi1.nt
Even assuming that an illicit affair existed between them, the
categorical and spontaneous manner by which Marita and Melanie
narrated appellant's dastardly act is more than enough reason to
belie his claim of consensual sex on that fateful night of November
5, 1989. In fact, this is substantially corroborated by the MedicoLegal Report of Dr. Aranas showing that Marita sustained abrasions
from her leg and finger, which injuries could take five to six days to
heal.
Of utmost significance, too, is the absence of ill-motive on the part
of any prosecution witness, much less on the part of the victim
herself, to prevaricate, nay concoct, such a shocking story of
defloration. It is the settled rule that where there is nothing to
indicate that a witness was actuated by improper motives, his/her
positive and categorical declarations on the witness stand, made
under solemn oath, should be given full faith and credence.38
Between the positive and categorical statements of prosecution
witnesses, on one hand, and the bare denial of appellant, on the
other, the former must prevail.39 Affirmative testimony, when it
proceeds from the mouth of a credible witness, as in this case, is far
stronger40 and more trustworthy41 than a negative testimony.42

At any rate, it is highly inconceivable that Marita, a mother of five


(5) children, would falsely charge appellant with such a serious
crime as rape if it were not the plain truth. It is worthy to note that
after the sexual assault, she wasted no time relating her gruesome
experience to her husband who, unfortunately, was afraid of the
appellant and left prior thereto to seek assistance from Anthony
Inocencio.43 Without vacillation, she submitted herself for medical
and genital examination the following day. Faced with possible
public humiliation, scandal and ridicule, she mustered the courage
to expose her own and her family's honor to the rigors of court trial.
These indignities and ignominies which Marita withstood
overwhelmingly show her sincerity in vindicating the outrage to her
honor and chastity.
This Court is thus convinced that appellant's guilt has been
established by the prosecution beyond inditia of doubt. His
conviction must be sustained.
The Information alleges the presence of the aggravating
circumstance of dwelling in the commission of the offense. This
should have been appreciated by the court a quo. It appears from
the records that the kitchen at the La Fiesta Farm where Marita was
dragged by appellant is her "dwelling," albeit the same does not
belong to her. In People v. Parazo,44 this Court stressed that the
"dwelling" contemplated in Article 14(3) of the Revised Penal Code
does not necessarily mean that the victim owns the place where he
lives or dwells. Be he a lessee, a boarder, or a bedspacer, the place
is his home, the sanctity of which the law seeks to protect. The fact
that the crime was consummated in the nearby house is also
immaterial. Marita was forcibly taken by appellant from her
dwelling house (kitchen) and then raped her. Dwelling is aggravating

if the victim was taken from his house although the offense was not
completed therein.45
Nonetheless, the trial court's imposition of the penalty of reclusion
perpetua is in accordance with law and jurisprudence. At that time,
the penalty for rape under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code,46
when committed with the use of a deadly weapon, such as the
knife,47 is reclusion perpetua to death, a penalty composed of two
indivisible penalties. Article 63, supra, provides, inter alia:

use of a deadly weapon in the commission of the crime, as well as


the presence of the aggravating circumstance of dwelling, both of
which indicate the criminal perversity of the appellant, the amount
of P25,000.00 by way of exemplary damages is justified. It is now
well-settled that in criminal cases, the presence of an aggravating
circumstance, whether ordinary or qualifying, entitles the victim to
an award of exemplary damages insofar as the civil aspect of the
crime is concerned.51

1. When in the commission of the deed there is present only one


aggravating circumstance, the greater penalty shall be applied.

WHEREFORE, the appealed decision convicting JOSUE DELA TORRE


of the crime of RAPE and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of
RECLUSION PERPETUA is AFFIRMED. Insofar as the civil aspect of
the crime is concerned, the appealed decision is MODIFIED.
Appellant is thus ordered to pay the victim, Marita Cordova,
P50,000.00 as civil indemnity; P50,000.00 as moral damages; and
P25,000.00 as exemplary damages. Costs against the appellant.

SO ORDERED.

"x

In all cases in which the law prescribes a penalty composed of two


indivisible penalties, the following rule shall be observed:

x" (Emphasis supplied)

The presence of the generic aggravating circumstance of dwelling,


with no mitigating circumstance to offset the same, would have
warranted the imposition of the death penalty were it not for the
fact that such penalty was then constitutionally suspended.48 Thus,
the penalty of reclusion perpetua imposed by the trial court is
proper.1wphi1.nt
Now to the civil aspect of the crime. The court a quo erred in not
holding appellant civilly liable. In line with the current
jurisprudence,49 a civil indemnity in the amount of P50,000.00
should be awarded to the victim. Also, she is entitled to moral
damages, now fixed at P50,000.00.50 Furthermore, because of the

Melo, Vitug, Panganiban, and Carpio, JJ., concur.

SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 77284 July 19, 1990
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
BONIFACIO BALANSI alias "BAN-OS", defendant-appellant.
The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
Balgos & Perez for defendant-appellant.

SARMIENTO, J.:
The accused-appellant stands charged with the murder of Elpidio
Dalsen on January 30, 1982 at Balinciagao, Pasil, Kalinga-Apayao.
The Information alleged that he, armed with a Garand rifle, went
inside the house of the victim, then allegedly fast asleep, where he
shot him twice and killed him. Treachery was held to be present,
and so were evident premeditation and employment of means to
weaken the defense of the victim. 1
The accused-appellant was then the Barangay Captain of
Balinciagao Norte, Pasil, Kalinga-Apayao, and a member of the
Civilian Home Defense Force (CHDF), while the victim was the
Provincial Development Officer of Kalinga-Apayao. 2 The incident
took place during a wedding celebration at Balinciagao Sur, Pasil, at
or about 5:30 or 6:00 o'clock in the afternoon. The prosecution
presented eight witnesses. The defense placed two on the stand.

The trial court found the accused guilty as charged and sentenced
him to die and to pay a total of P590,000.00 in actual (P540,000.00
for loss of the victim's earning capacity) and moral damages, plus
costs. 3
It appears that the victim, a nephew of the appellant, was then
sleeping at the house of his parents located opposite the house
where the wedding celebration was being held. At or about 5:00
o'clock in the afternoon, Beatrice Canao, a Balinciagao resident, saw
the accused, her uncle, standing at the door of the house of the
victim's parents, also her relatives, armed with a gun. She inquired
what he was doing there and he allegedly replied that he was
waiting for the victim. She then entered the premises to locate an
old newspaper with which to wrap food, a rice cake, when she saw
the victim asleep. When she left, she saw the accused at the
doorway. After disposing of her rice cake (which she gave to a
certain Fr. Medina), she heard two gunshots, fired at an interval of
two or three seconds, emanating apparently from the house, to
which she shortly rushed. She allegedly met the accused at the
steps leading to the second floor, brandishing his rifle. 4
She allegedly shouted "putok, putok!" 5 She then reported the
matter to the police.
Yulo Asbok a fellow CHDF member of the accused and likewise a
Balinciagao resident, also heard two gunshots ring that afternoon.
He said that he was three meters from the house where the
gunshot sounds seemed to have originated. He allegedly proceeded
there but was met by the accused at the steps. They allegedly
grappled for possession of the rifle, which, he alleged, was still
warm and reeked of gunpowder. He was able to wrest possession,

after which, the accused allegedly ran away and fled to Pogon, also
in Balinciagao. He later learned that the victim had been shot and
that he died at Lubuagan Hospital. 6

After the prosecution rested, the defense presented its evidence. It


presented two witnesses, the accused himself and Masadao Jose,
who lived in Samangana, Balinciagao.

Rosalina Dalsen, the victim's wife was enjoying the wedding


celebration when she heard two gunshots. She made inquiries
subsequently and was informed that the victim was her husband.
She claimed that she saw the accused standing at the entrance of
her parents- in-law's house prior thereto. 7

The accused claimed that he was also at the wedding celebration on


that fateful afternoon when he too heard two gunshots break in the
air. As a member of the CHDF, he allegedly took it upon himself to
investigate the matter. He said that he went to the direction where
the shots came from and was on his way to the entrance of the
house when Yulo Asbok allegedly prevented him from doing so, who
grabbed the firearm he was carrying. He did not allegedly know at
that time that the victim had been shot and allegedly learned of it
only on the following day. He admitted having ran away but
allegedly because he had been implicated. Four days later, he
voluntarily turned himself in to the police. Masadao Jose
corroborated his statement. 11

Dr. Nicolas Balais, a dentist by profession, was also at that


celebration when he heard the shots. He then went to the victim's
parent's house where they, the shots, rang out from. He did not
allegedly have in mind that somebody had actually been fired upon
but thought that may be there had been a burglary. He ascended
the steps of the house where the accused earlier met Beatrice
Candao and Yulo Asbok, and entered the second floor. He saw the
victim lying in his room, whom he initially believed to be merely
sleeping, but who was, in fact, dead. 8
The prosecution also presented Simeon Valera, principal of Pasil
Central School, and Artemio Dalsen the victim's brother, who
sought to establish a motive for the killing of the victim, a motive
they imputed to the accused. Valera testified that revenge was
supposedly a tradition among Kalingas (of which both the accused
and victim were members), which, however, could be prevented by
the dusa, meaning, apparently, intervention and mediation by
community elders. 9 Meanwhile, Dalsen claimed that the accused
had nursed along- standing grudge against the victim, whom he
accused of delaying on alleged award for the construction of a
bridge in Balinciagao in 1979. 10

In returning a verdict of guilty, the trial judge observed: "While


there is no eye witness who testified to having seen the accused
Bonifacio Balansi shoot the victim, yet all the circumstances pointed
to him as the perpetrator of the crime." 12
The circumstantial evidence referred to came primarily from the lips
of Yulo Asbok and Beatrice Candao as well as the accused himself,
who admitted having been at the scene of the crime. Obviously, the
judge did not lend credence to the accused's defense.
The accused-appellant now contends that the judge erred, first, in
appreciating circumstantial evidence, second, in appreciating
treachery, and third, in rejecting his defense of alibi.
We affirm, with modification, the decision appealed from.

While there was no eyewitness account, the web of circumstantial


evidence points to no other conclusion than that the accused was
guilty of shooting the victim, Elpidio Dalsen to death in the
afternoon of January 30, 1982. These circumstances are as follows:
(1) He was seen standing by the entrance of the house where the
victim had sojourned, armed with a long rifle, minutes before
gunshots were heard. Three witnesses saw him: Beatrice Canao,
Yulo Asbok, and Rosalina Dalsen. (2) Moments later, two shots rang
out, one after the other. Four witnesses heard them: Canao, Asbok,
Dalsen and Nicolas Balais. (3) Thereafter, Canao saw him descending
from the steps of the house. Asbok also saw him there, whom he
wrestled for the possession of the rifle. (4) He fled and hid for four
days.
Under Rule 133, Section 5, of the Rules of Court:
SEC. 4. Circumstantial evidence, when sufficient. Circumstantial
evidence is sufficient for conviction if.
(a) There is more than one circumstance;
(b) The facts from which the inferences are derived are proven; and
(c) The combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce a
conviction beyond reasonable doubt. 13
As we glean from the evidence, there is no one, other than the
accused-appellant, who could have perpetrated the offense.
The accused-appellant, as we said, disagrees. He insists that he was
there, precisely, to investigate the matter, and armed himself for
the purpose, but was stopped by Yulo Asbok. His protests

notwithstanding, we too must reject this defense. Two reasons


persuade us. First, he has not ascribed any motive to Yulo Asbok as
to why he, Asbok should testify falsely against him. Second, he
admits having fled immediately thereafter. If he were truly
innocent, he would not have done so. We have held time and again
that flight is a silent admission of guilt. 14 As aptly put "The righteous
is brave as a lion, but the wicked man fleeth." 15
If he were moreover truly innocent, and that it was Yulo Asbok who
had something to do with the killing and who had meanwhile tried
to stop him from conducting an inquiry, it would have been he, the
accused, to be the first to make a report to the authorities so that
Asbok could be brought to the bar of justice. If the latter did try to
prevent him from performing his duties, as he claimed, 16 he should
have gone to lengths to implicate Asbok because that too was his
duty.
We also reject his claims of inconsistency on the part of the
prosecution's witnesses, notably Asbok who stated that he was the
first to be in the victim's house after the shooting (aside from the
accused), in the face of Canao's testimony that she also had been
there. The Court is not convinced that an inconsistency exists. For
obviously, Asbok had been mistaken. Canao had earlier been there.
The Court sees no need to make an inquiry on the admissibility of
testimonies attributing motive to the accused-appellant. We are
sufficiently persuaded that even without any successful showing of
a motive, the circumstantial evidence on hand nevertheless suffices
to warrant a conviction beyond reasonable doubt.

The Court, however, is not convinced that the accused-appellant


had committed murder arising from treachery, evident
premeditation, and means employed to weaken the defense of the
victim. As to treachery, jurisprudence is ample that the manner of
attack must be shown. While there are testimonies to the effect
that the victim was "fast asleep", we can not safely presume that he
was still in that condition when the accused sprung his attack. And
since nobody saw the actual shooting, we can not justifiably say that
the victim was still actually still asleep at that time. 17
Neither is evident premeditation a qualifying circumstance. In
appreciating evident premeditation, it is necessary to show: (1) the
time when the offender determined to commit the offense; (2) an
act manifestly indicating that the culprit had clung to his
determination; and (3) a sufficient interval of time between the
determination and execution. 18 The prior determination of the
accused to do away with the victim has not been sufficiently
demonstrated by the prosecution.
That the accused also employed means to weaken the victim's
defenses is likewise missing in this case. As we said, there was no
actual eyewitness to the killing and hence, we can not say for sure,
based on the evidence before us, that the appellant did employ
means to weaken the defense of the victim.
We, however, affirm the trial court insofar as it appreciated
dwelling. Although the victim was not shot in his house (his parents
owned it) it has been held that the dwelling place need not be
owned by the victim. 19 In that case, it was held:

La circunstancia agravante de morada, aunque no fuese la casa


propia de los occisos, debe estimarse porque segun el Tribunal
Supremo de Espaa " no solo por el respeto que el domicilio
ajeno merece, como especie de complements de la personalidad, y
por el que es debido al hogar de la familia, sino por el no menor de
que es digna la residencia privada de cualquier ciudadano, y por el
mayor grado de malicia que revela quien busca a su victima alli en
donde se encuentra con la confianza y abandono propios del lugar
elegido para el descanso y las intimidades de la vida: razon por la
cual habla el Codigo penal en el art. 10, no de domicillo en sentido
legal, sino de morada en su acepcion real, que no es otra que la del
paraje en donde una persona hace estancia de asiento. ... a titulo de
nuesped, o por otro cualquiera.itc-asl (S. de 25 de Junio de
1886, 2 Viada., 5 ed., 329.) 20
In the Basa case, the victims were killed while sleeping as guests in
the house of another. Dwelling there was held to be aggravating.
According to earlier cases, including U.S. v. Bredejo, 21 our ruling was
that the dwelling place must be owned by the offended party. In
another decision, People v. Celespara, 22 dwelling was not
appreciated as an aggravating circumstance in the absence of proof
that the victim owned the dwelling place where he was killed. In
People v. Guhiting, 23 morada was not likewise considered for the
same reasons.
However, more recent cases have since followed the lead of Basa,
notably People v. Galapia 24 and People v. Sto. Tomas. 25
"Dwelling" is considered an aggravating circumstance because
primarily of the sanctity of privacy the law accords to human abode.

According to one commentator, one's dwelling place is a "sanctuary


worthy of respect" 26 and that one who slanders another in the
latter's house is more guilty than if he who offends him elsewhere.
However, one does not lose his right of privacy where he is
offended in the house of another because as his invited guest, he,
the stranger, is sheltered by the same roof and protected by the
same intimacy of life it affords. It may not be his house, but it is,
even for a brief moment, "home" to him. He is entitled to respect
even for that short moment.
It is with more reason in this case. The late Elpidio Dalsen died in
the house of his very parents. who raised him until he could be on
his own.
Under the circumstances, we affirm the lower court, but only
insofar as it held the accused-appellant responsible for taking the
life of Elpidio Dalsen. We hold him liable for simple homicide
aggravated by dwelling. Under the Revised Penal Code, he must
suffer reclusion temporal in its maximum period, there being no
mitigating circumstances and one aggravating circumstance. 27
WHEREFORE, the appeal is DISMISSED. The accused-appellant is
sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of eight (8) years and one (1)
day of prision mayor to seventeen (17) years, four (4) months, and
one (1) day of reclusion temporal. The grant of damages is affirmed.
SO ORDERED.

SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 106282

January 20, 2000

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
QUINCIANO RENDOQUE, SR. y AMORES, VICTORINO BACUAC y
QUISEL, FELIX ESTRELLADO y BACUAC, PABLITO RENDOQUE y
ABIO, QUINCIANO RENDOQUE, JR. y ABIO, and ESPERATO
SALAQUIN y BACUAC, accused, PABLITO RENDOQUE y ABIO,
QUINCIANO RENDOQUE, JR. y ABIO, and ESPERATO SALAQUIN y
BACUAC, accused-appellants.
QUISUMBING, J.:
Appellants assail the decision of the Regional Trial Court of
Dumaguete City, Branch 36,1 in Criminal Case No. 8341, convicting
them of the crime of murder, imposing upon them the penalty of
reclusion perpetua, and ordering them to indemnify the heirs of the
victim the amount of P30,000.00, and to pay the costs. Their coaccused Quinciano Rendoque, Sr. y Amores, Victorino Bacuac y
Quisel, and Felix Estrellado y Bacuac were acquitted for failure of
the prosecution to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
The facts, as summarized by the Office of the Solicitor General and
which we find to be supported by the records, are as follows:2
On or about 8:00 o'clock in the evening of April 21, 1988, Abundio
Sido and the members of his family were resting inside their house
at Barangay Basiao, Municipality of San Jose, Negros Oriental. All of
a sudden, a group of armed men, six in number, arrived. One of
them shouted "Abundio Sido lumabas kayo, mga military kami" (pp.

7-8, tsn, March 1, 1989; p. 5-6, tsn, June 14, 1989). In return,
Abundio answered, "you come up, we will talk upstairs" (p. 9, tsn,
March 1, 1989). The group however, insisted that he comes (sic)
down and so, Abundio instructed his wife Florida to open the door.
The latter, accompanied by her daughter Elvie who was holding a
kerosene lamp, proceeded towards the door to open it. When the
door was opened, Florida and her daughter by the aid of the
kerosene lamp were able to recognize the six armed men standing
in front of their house wearing fatigue uniforms as Pablito
Rendoque, Esperato Salaquin, Quinciano Rendoque, Sr., Quinciano
Rendoque, Jr., Victorino Bacuac and Felix Estrellado. With the
exception of Quinciano Rendoque, Sr. who was seen carrying a
revolver, the rest were all armed with shotguns (pp. 10-11, tsn,
March 1, 1989; p. 8, tsn, June 14, 1989).
On that occasion when the door was opened, Pablito Rendoque
shouted "fire" to his companions. In obedience to his order,
Esperato Salaquin and Quinciano Rendoque, Jr. aimed and fired
their respective shotguns towards the direction of the wall inside
the house where Abundio was sitting. As a result, the victim was hit
at the back and on the left shoulder by pellets which caused his
death (pp. 11-12, tsn, March 1, 1989; pp. 9-10, tsn, June 14, 1989).
Thereafter, the armed group left leaving Abundio's dead body
behind (id.)
Dr. Bienvenida Palongpalong, Municipal Health Officer of San Jose,
Negros Oriental, was able to conduct a post-mortem examination of
the cadaver of Abundio Sido and it was found that the latter
sustained gunshot wounds at the deltoid region and at the back
lumber vertebrae which caused severe hemorrhage resulting in his
death (p. 10, tsn, May 23, 1990).

Following police investigation, a criminal complaint for murder3 was


filed against all six (6) accused. At the preliminary investigation, they
waived the filing of counter-affidavits.4 The Municipal Trial Judge
issued a
Resolution5 finding sufficient ground to engender a well-founded
belief that a crime cognizable by the Regional Trial Court has been
committed and that accused are probably guilty thereof and should
be held for trial, and forwarded the records of the case to the
Provincial Prosecutor of Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental for the
filing of the appropriate Information. The six (6) accused were
accused of murder under an Information,6 which pertinently reads
as follows:
That on or about the 21st day of April, 1988, at Barangay Basiao,
Municipality of San Jose, Province of Negros Oriental, Philippines,
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-name
accused, conspiring and confederating together and mutually
helping one another, with intent to kill, evident premeditation and
treachery, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
assault, attack and shoot Abundio Sido with the use of home made
firearms, thereby inflicting upon the body of Abundio Sido the
following injuries, to wit:
1. Gunshot wounds 8 in number, 1 cm. in diameter, (L) Deltoid
region;
2. 8 gunshot wounds 1 cm. in diameter x 3 inc depthness, back (not
legible) 2nd and 3rd and 4th Lumbar vertebrae.
which directly caused the death of Abundio Sido immediately
thereafter.

Contrary to Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code.


Dumaguete City, Philippines, August 26, 1988.
Upon arraignment, the accused, duly assisted by counsel, entered
pleas of "no guilty."7 Through counsel, they filed a Motion for
Consolidation8 with another criminal case against the same accused,
for murder involving the brother of the victim herein, committed on
the same night. In its Order dated November 24, 1988,9 the trial
court, however, denied said Motion because the proceedings had
already reached different stages.
The prosecution presented the following witnesses: (1) Elvie Sido,
the 15 year-old daughter of the victim; (2) Florida Sido, the widow
of the victim, both eyewitnesses to the shooting incident; (3) Dra.
Bienvenida Palongpalong, Municipal Health Officer of San Jose,
Negros Oriental, who conducted the post-mortem examination on
the victim and testified that the cause of death was "severe
hemorrhage resulting from the (gunshot) wounds of the victim."10
Testifying on their behalf, appellants interposed the defenses of
denial and alibi. Appellant Pablito Rendoque claimed that on April
21, 1988, from 7 o'clock in the evening until 7:00 the following
morning, he was on duty as a security guard at Master Footwear in
Dumaguete City.11 His testimony was supported by the testimonies
of several witnesses. Eduardo Dingal, his co-security guard, testified
that appellant Pablito Rendoque relieved him from duty at 7:00
P.M. of April 21, 1988.12 Dingal's wife, also testified that she visited
her husband at Master Footwear at 7:00 P.M., and saw appellant
Pablito Rendoque take over her husband's post.13 Ernesto Amistoso,
a member of the PNP, San Jose, Negros Oriental, also testified that

the day after the incident, he confirmed with Dingal that appellant
Pablito Rendoque relieved him from duty the previous night.14
Aniano Eliseo, Officer-In-Charge of the Sherlock Security Agency,
testified that he conducted an inspection of the guards of the
agency and saw appellant Pablito Rendoque at his post in Master
Footwear at around 7:00 on the night of the incident.15
The other five accused testified that on April 21, 1988, from 6
o'clock in the evening until around 8 o'clock the following morning,
they were in the house of Placido Despojo at Sto. Nio, San Jose,
Negros Oriental to attend an "Anti-Communist Trust In Oriental
Negros" (ACTION) seminar, which however, was postponed to the
following day.16 Placido Despojo confirmed this fact.17 Millard
Generoso, the District Commander of ACTION, testified that on April
22, 1988, the day after the incident, the five accused, except for
appellant Pablito Rendoque, were at his house in Calindagan,
Dumaguete City from around 8 o'clock in the morning up to 11
o'clock in the evening attending the seminar.18
The defense also presented as its witness Patrolman Fred Redira,
who testified that on the night of the incident, one Celso Turtal
reported to him that he (Turtal) was requested by the wife of the
victim to inform the authorities that the victim was shot by
"unidentified men."19 The defense also presented Patrolman
Antonio Ramirez, the Officer-in-Charge of the Police Station,20 and
the custodian of the police logbook containing the aforesaid report.
Patrolman Ramirez testified that he prepared the affidavits of Elvie
and Florida Sido wherein they stated that the persons who shot the
victim were Pablito Rendoque and Esperato Salaquin only. However,
Patrolman Ramirez claimed that the Municipal Mayor borrowed the
affidavits and never returned them again. He also testified that the

affidavits of Elvie and Florida Sido which were presented to him in


court for identification were new affidavits, and not the ones which
he prepared.21
On January 6, 1992, the trial court rendered a decision22 convicting
the three (3) appellants. As already stated, their three (3) coaccused were acquitted for failure of the prosecution to prove their
guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The dispositive portion of the
decision reads:
FOR ALL THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, this court finds the
accused Esperato Salaquin, Quinciano Rendoque, Jr., and Pablito
Rendoque guilty beyond doubt of the crime of murder defined and
penalized under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code and
sentences each one of them to suffer the penalty of Reclusion
Perpetua; to indemnify the heirs of the offended party of the sum of
P30,000.00 and to pay the cost. The instruments used if confiscated
by the government are deemed forfeited. The accused Quinciano
Rendoque, Sr., Victorino Bacuac and Felix Estrellado whose guilt are
not established beyond doubt are acquitted.
SO ORDERED.
Hence, the present appeal. In their consolidated brief, appellants
assign the following errors:
I. THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN GIVING
CREDENCE AND MORE WEIGHT TO THE TESTIMONIES OF
PROSECUTION WITNESSES ELVIE SIDO AND FLORIDA SIDO AND DID
NOT CONSIDER THE TESTIMONIES OF P/CPL ANTONIO RAMIREZ
AND PATROLMAN FRED REDIRA REGARDING THE ENTRY IN THE
LOGBOOK ON APRIL 21, 1988, AS REPORTED BY A CERTAIN CELSO

TURTAL, EXHIBIT "1" FOR THE DEFENSE WHICH WAS NOT


ADMITTED BY THE COURT AND THE VEHEMENT REFUSAL AND
OBJECTION OF THE COURT TO ALLOW FLORIDA SIDO TO TESTIFY IN
COURT PERTINENT TO EXHIBIT "1", AS A HOSTILE WITNESS, DESPITE
THE CONFORMITY OF FISCAL EDUVIGIS VERGARA IN OPEN COURT.
II. THAT THE LOWER COURT COMMITTED A SERIOUS ERROR IN
GIVING MORE CREDENCE TO THE TESTIMONIES OF ELVIE SIDO AND
FLORIDA SIDO AND TO DISREGARDED (sic) THE ALIBI OF THE
ACCUSED PABLITO RENDOQUE, SUPPORTED BY THE TESTIMONIES
OF WITNESSES ELISEO ANIANO, OFFICER-IN-CHARGE OF SHERLOCK
AGENCY WITH DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE, ELSAULA DINGAL,
EDUARDO DINGAL AND ERNESTO AMISTOSO.
III. THAT THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT GIVING
CONSIDERATION OF THE ALIBI OF THE ACCUSED QUINCIANO
RENDOQUE, JR., ESPERATO SALAQUIN, ACCUSED-APPELLANTS AND
CORROBORATED BY THE REST OF THE ACCUSED AND SUPPORTED
BY THE TESTIMONIES OF PLACIDO DESPOJO AND MILLARD
GENEROSO.
Appellants' brief contends that the trial court erred in not
considering the entry in the police logbook, and the testimonies of
the custodian and the entrant thereof that the victim's wife asked
Celso Turtal to report to the authorities that her husband was shot
by "unidentified men" while sitting on the porch of their house.
Appellants claim that the statement of the widow should have been
considered as part of the res gestae under Section 42 of Rule 130 of
the Rules of Court. Further, appellants insist that the trial court
erred in not considering the Affidavit of Confirmation executed by
Celso Turtal regarding the incident. Appellants contend that the trial

court erred in not allowing the defense to present Florida Sido as a


hostile witness. The foregoing evidence, appellants claim, if properly
considered, would destroy the positive identification of appellants
and co-accused as the perpetrators of the shooting incident.
Appellants also fault the trial court for not giving due credence to
the defenses of denial and alibi of appellants considering that these
were sufficiently supported by the testimonies of their numerous
witnesses.1wphi1.nt
The Office of the Solicitor General, on the other hand, contends that
the issues raised pertain to the credibility of witnesses, the
assessment of which is within the province of the trial court. In fact,
the defense failed to point any significant flaw in the testimonies of
the prosecution witnesses. The OSG further asserts that the entries
in the police logbook cannot be correlated to the alleged Affidavit of
Confirmation of one Celso Turtal because the latter's affidavit is
inadmissible for being hearsay. The OSG also contends that the trial
court could not be faulted for denying the request of the defense to
make Florida Sido a hostile witness since the defense already crossexamined said witness extensively regarding her identification of
the assailants. On the defenses of denial and alibi, the OSG cites the
finding of the trial court that the place of work of Pablito Rendoque
and the house of Placido Despojo are a mere eight (8) kilometers
away from the locus criminis. The OSG likewise prays that the award
of death indemnity be increased from P30,000.00 to P50,000.00
pursuant to existing jurisprudence.
The crucial issue raised by appellants, in our view, pertains solely to
the credibility of the prosecution witnesses. In particular, we have
to consider the positive identification of appellants as the

perpetrators of the offense as against their defenses of denial and


alibi.
In a long line of cases, the Court has consistently held that the
determination of credibility of a witness is properly within the
domain of the trial court as it is in the best position to observe his
demeanor and bodily movements.23 Findings of the trial court with
respect to the credibility of witnesses and their testimonies are
entitled to great respect, and even finality,24 unless said findings are
arbitrary, or facts and circumstances of weight and influence have
been overlooked, misunderstood, or misapplied by the trial judge
which, if considered, would have affected the case.25 In the present
appeal, after a thorough review of the records, no cogent reason
justifies our departure from the aforecited salutory rule. We are
constrained not to disturb the factual findings of the trial court.
The two eyewitnesses, Elvie and Florida Sido, positively identified
appellants as the perpetrators of the fatal shooting.26 Both clearly
narrated on the witness stand the extent of the appellants'
participation in the incident. They categorically testified that
appellant Pablito Rendoque gave the order to "fire,"27 and in
obedience to such order, appellants Esperato Salaquin and
Quinciano Rendoque, Jr., fired their guns (known locally as "baliontod") against the victim.28 Witness Elvie Sido said that as the
shooting was going on, she was rooted on the spot, looking at the
faces of the men firing at her father.29 Although the incident
occurred at nighttime, the house of the victim was sufficiently
illuminated by two kerosene lamps (lamparillas), one carried by the
daughter of the victim and another located near the victim,30 which
cast enough light for purposes of identification. Numerous cases
have held that illumination coming from a kerosene lamp (also

called "gasera") is sufficient for purposes of identification of an


assailant.31 Aside from the sufficient lighting, the two eyewitnesses
were familiar with the faces of the assailants because they were
townmates,32 and appellants did not even bother to hide their
identities by covering their faces.33
Appellants admitted that they could not ascribe any ill-motive
against the prosecution witnesses to falsely testify against them.34
Absent any evidence showing any reason or motive for prosecution
witnesses to perjure, the logical conclusion is that no such improper
motive exists, and their testimonies are thus worthy of full faith and
credit.35 The fact that the witnesses were the daughter and the
widow of the deceased could not impair their credibility. Blood or
conjugal relationship between a witness and the victim does not per
se impair the credibility of the witness. On the contrary, relationship
itself could strengthen credibility in a particular case, for it is
unnatural for an aggrieved relative to falsely accuse someone other
than the actual culprit. The earnest desire to seek justice for a dead
kin is not served should the witness abandon his conscience and
prudence to blame one who is innocent of the crime.36
Failing to demolish the positive testimonies of the prosecution
witnesses, appellants now make a belated attempt to impeach their
testimonies. Appellants fault the trial court for not considering the
Affidavit of Celso Turtal that Florida Sido told him that the assailants
were "unidentified men." The trial court correctly disregarded said
affidavit for being hearsay since Turtal did not testify in court. An
affidavit is generally hearsay, and has no probative value unless the
affiant himself is placed on the witness stand to testify thereon.37
Hence, the trial court correctly rejected the admission of such
affidavit in evidence.

As to the police logbook which was presented in evidence to prove


the contents thereof, we have held that entries in the police blotter
should not be given undue significance or probative value, as they
do not constitute conclusive proof of the truth thereof.38 Entries in
police blotters, although regularly done in the course of the
performance of official duty, are not conclusive proof of the truth
stated in such entries and should not be given undue significance or
probative value because they are usually incomplete and
inaccurate. Sometimes they are based on partial suggestion or
inaccurate reporting and hearsay, untested in the crucible of a trial
on the merits.39
Appellant Pablito Rendoque's defenses of denial and alibi, in our
view, could not be sustained. Although supported by testimonies of
his superior and the guard who relieved him on the night of the
incident, as well as the guard's wife, they do not exculpate him. We
have already ruled that for alibi to prosper, it is not enough to prove
that appellant was somewhere else when the offense was
committed. It must likewise be shown that he was so far away that
it was not possible for him to have been physically present at the
place of the crime or its immediate vicinity at the time of its
commission.40 It should be noted that appellant was seen by said
witnesses at his post at 7 o'clock in the evening, while the shooting
incident occurred at 8 o'clock in the evening. Appellant failed to
prove that it was impossible for him to have been physically present
in the locus criminis at the very time of its commission. As to
Quinciano Rendoque, Jr. and Esperato Salaquin, the other two
appellants, their alibis are equally unavailing. Though the testimony
of Placido Despojo sought to support them, their defense is far from
persuasive. As observed by the trial court, there is no proof of

physical impossibility for these appellants to be present in the locus


criminis. Well settled is the doctrine that alibi is a weak defense and
should be rejected when the identities of the accused, as in this
case, have been sufficiently and positively established by
eyewitnesses to the offense.41 Hence, in the light of the positive
identification of appellants by two eyewitnesses as the perpetrators
of the crime, their defenses of denial and alibi could not prosper.42
As proved, the crime committed by the three appellants is murder,
since the killing was qualified by treachery. Treachery attended the
killing because at the time of the shooting, the victim was unarmed,
sitting inside his house, and was evidently not in a position to
defend himself.43 Further, appellants consciously adopted the
particular means, method or form of attack employed by them
when they went to the house of the victim armed with shotguns.44
The generic aggravating circumstance of abuse of superior strength
attended the killing, but is already absorbed in treachery.45 Evident
premeditation while alleged in the Information was not sufficiently
proven by the prosecution, and therefore cannot be appreciated.
But since the victim was killed inside his house, even though the
assailants were outside the house, the aggravating circumstance of
dwelling should be appreciated.46 Dwelling is considered an
aggravating circumstance because primarily of the sanctity of
privacy the law accords to human abode.47
As to the actual participation of appellants in the crime charged,
appellant Pablito Rendoque, having given the order to shoot at the
victim, is liable as a principal under Article 17, No. 1 and No. 2 of the
Revised Penal Code. His participation is direct; at the same time he

induced his co-appellants Esperato Salaquin and Quinciano


Rendoque, Jr. to commit the offense. These co-appellants obeyed
the order by firing their shotguns at the victim, hence they acted as
principals by direct participation under Article 17, No. 1 of the
Revised Penal Code. The three appellants acted in concert and
helped each other accomplish the nefarious deed.
The award of death indemnity in the amount of P30,000.00 should
be increased to P50,000.00, pursuant to existing jurisprudence.48 No
moral damages can be awarded since the wife and daughter of the
victim did not testify with regard to moral damages. In view of the
attendance of an aggravating circumstance, pursuant to Article
2230 of the Civil Code, exemplary damages in the amount of
P20,000.00 should be awarded.49
WHEREFORE, the decision of the trial court finding appellants
PABLITO RENDOQUE, ESPERATO SALAQUIN AND QUINCIANO
RENDOQUE, JR. guilty of the crime of MURDER and sentencing them
to RECLUSION PERPETUA is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION as to
damages. Appellants are hereby ordered to pay the heirs of the
victim the amounts of P50,000.00 as indemnity and P20,000.00 as
exemplary damages. Costs against appellants.
SO ORDERED.

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 109148 December 4, 1998


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
ERNESTO BELO, accused-appellant.

QUISUMBING, J.:
On appeal is the decision 1 of the Regional Trial Court of Naga City,
Branch 26, in Criminal Case No. 92-3892, convicting accusedappellant Ernesto Belo of the crime of Robbery with Rape and
imposing upon him the penalty of reclusion perpetua and ordering
him to return the amount of P5,060.00 taken from the victim and to
pay her the amount of P50,000.00 as indemnity.
On October 11, 1991, at around 1:00 o'clock in the morning, Leonila
Pellosis was tending to her sick infant in their house in Dike, Del
Carmen, Minalabac, Camarines Sur, when she heard footsteps near
their kitchen. 2 Suspecting a possible intruder, she became nervous
and attempted to scare him away by shouting at her 14-year-old
daughter, Miriam, to fetch the local faith-healer to treat her infant. 3
Miriam was about to leave the house when suddenly, appellant
Ernesto Belo forced open the door and announced "Mayo nang
magkorahaw ta hold-up ini!" (Don't shout; this is a hold-up!) 4
Appellant poked a foot-long double bladed knife at the neck of
Leonila and demanded money from her. Leonila begged him not to

kill her and fearfully opened the cabinet ("aparador") where she
kept the family's money from the recent rice harvest and handed
over cash amounting to P5,060.00. 5 Suddenly, the "gasera" placed
near the window was furtively struck with a piece of wood from the
outside. 6 Appellant demanded more money and threatened to rape
and kill her and her daughter unless he was given more money.
Leonila pleaded that she had already given him all the money she
had. 7 Heedless of her pleas, appellant, with the knife still pointed at
Leonila's neck, dragged her towards the kitchen and forced her to
lie on top of the sacks of rice. Appellant loosened his short pants
and brought it down to his knees. He removed the victim's short
pants and undergarments and forcibly had sexual intercourse with
her. 8
When Miriam saw her mother being dragged to the kitchen, she
had the presence of mind to grab her youngest brother, and with
another brother (Joel), jumped out of the window to seek help from
Elmer Taguilid whose house was some 500 meters away. She
instructed her younger sisters (Melanie and Mirlan) to hide inside a
cabinet. Miriam frantically tried to awaken Elmer from his drunken
stupor. Thereafter, Elmer and six other men armed themselves and
rushed to the house of the victim only to find Leonila in a distraught
state and the appellant gone. 9
William Pellosis, the husband of the victim, spent the night guarding
their palay harvest at the San Juan-San Lorenzo Cooperative
Bodega. When he arrived in the early morning of October 11, 1991,
his wife tearfully related to him her tragic ordeal. 10 Enraged, he
immediately hurried to the Minalabac Police Station to report the
incident. PO3 Antonio Algora and other police officers sprung into
action and scoured the vicinity to locate appellant, to no avail.

William Pellosis and the police officers then went to the house of
appellant where they found his common-law wife, Leonida Belo,
who didn't know the whereabouts of her husband. Eventually,
however, the police officers tracked down appellant and took him
into custody. 11
On October 14, 1991, the Chief of Police of Minalabac, Camarines
Sur, Gil V. De la Cruz, filed a Complaint 12 with the Municipal Trial
Court of Minalabac, Camarines Sur, accusing appellant of the crime
of Robbery with Rape.
On January 9, 1992, the Municipal Trial Court of Minalabac,
Camarines Sur, 13 issued a Resolution 14 finding that the case did not
fall under its jurisdiction, and hence, ordered the Clerk of Court to
forward the original records to the Provincial Prosecutor's Office in
Naga City.
On January 21, 1992, Second Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Romeo
S. Daas filed an Information 15 accusing appellant of Robbery with
Rape, committed as follows:
That on or about the 11th day of October 1991, at Barangay San
Felipe-Santiago, Municipality of Minalabac, Province of Camarines
Sur, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
the aid accused, with intent of (sic) gain, and by means of violence
and intimidation of person, while armed with a knife and after an
unlawful entry in the middle of the night, did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously take, steal and rob from one
LEONILA NUEZ-PELLOSIS the sum of FIVE THOUSAND AND SIXTY
(P5,060.00) Pesos, Philippine Currency; that the aforesaid robbery is
(sic) accompanied by rape when said accused then and there had

sexual intercourse with said Leonila Nuez-Pellosis by means of


force and intimidation and against her will.
On March 17, 1998, upon arraignment, the accused, duly assisted
by Atty. Hector A. Tayer from the Public Attorney's Office, entered a
plea of "not guilty."
At the trial, the prosecution presented four (4) witnesses, namely,
(1) Miriam Pellosis, the victim's daughter; (2) Leonila Pellosis, the
victim herself; (3) Dra. Josephine De La Torre, a resident physician
on Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Bicol Regional Hospital; and (4)
SPO3 Antonio Algura of the Minalabac Police Station, who received
the complaint of the victim's husband at around 1.30 A.M. on the
same day, and together with the victim's husband and other police
officers, proceeded to the house of the victim to investigate the
crime. He also advised the victim to undergo a physical examination,
and they even accompanied her to the Bicol Regional Hospital.
The defense, on the other hand, presented appellant and his
common-law wife, Leonida Belo, as witnesses. Appellant had a pat
alibi. He claimed that he was employed in Sta. Maria, Bulacan, from
June to December 1991, 16 and that he only learned of his pending
case when he came back from Bulacan in December 1991. 17 His
wife's meandering testimony corroborated his story. 18
On November 26, 1992, after requiring the parties to submit their
respective memoranda, 19 the trial court rendered a decision 20
finding accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
Robbery with Rape. In its decision, the trial court painstakingly
traced the events leading to the commission of the crime and
accordingly gave credence to the positive identification of the

accused by the victim and her daughter vis a vis appellant's tainted
alibi.

persons, the penalty shall be reclusion perpetua to death (As


amended by PD No. 767). (underlining added)

In the present appeal, 21 appellant now assigns the sole error that: 22

In Robbery with Rape, "[i]t is enough that robbery shall have been
accompanied by rape to be punishable under the Revised Penal
Code which does not differentiate whether the rape was committed
before, during or after the robbery." 25

THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN FINDING ACCUSED-APPELLANT


ERNESTO BELO GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT FOR [sic] THE
CRIME OF ROBBERY WITH RAPE DESPITE THE EVIDENCE TO THE
CONTRARY.
Appellant contends that the trial court erred in convicting him of
the crime charged for failure of the prosecution to prove the
identity of the perpetrator beyond reasonable doubt, and for the
failure of the trial court to appreciate his defense of alibi.
Robbery with rape is a special complex crime, or more properly, a
composite crime, 23 punishable under the second paragraph of
Article 294 of the Revised Penal Code 24 which provides:
Art. 294. Robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons.
Penalties. Any person guilty of robbery with the use of
violence against or intimidation of any person shall suffer:
xxx xxx xxx
1. The penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium period to
reclusion perpetua, when the robbery shall have been accompanied
by the crime of rape or intentional mutilation, or if by reason or on
occasion of such robbery, any of the physical injuries penalized in
subdivision 1 of Article 263 shall have been inflicted; Provided,
however, that when the robbery accompanied with rape is
committed with the use of a deadly weapon or by two or more

After a thorough scrutiny of the records of the case, we find the


present appeal utterly without merit. All the elements of the crime
of Robbery with Rape are here present and proved. First, appellant
employed violence against and intimidation on the person of
Leonila Pellosis by poking a double bladed knife on her neck to
compel her to give him money. Second, after getting the money of
the hapless victim, he dragged her to the kitchen where he
mercilessly raped her.
Contrary to appellant's contentions, his identity as the perpetrator
of the crime was sufficiently established by the testimonies of the
victim and her daughter who readily recognized appellant since he
was their former
farmhand. 26 Identification is facilitated by the fact that the person
has gained familiarity with another. 27 While the crime was
committed in the middle of the night, there was sufficient
illumination inside the house coming from a "gasera" near the
window sill which was later struck down by an unidentified person.
Numerous cases have held that illumination coming from a "gasera"
is sufficient for purposes of identification of an assailant. 28
The trial court's reliance on the victim's testimony is apt,
considering that it was credible in itself and buttressed by the

testimony of her daughter, the medico-legal officer, and the police


investigator. 29 Moreover the aforesaid witnesses saw the distraught
state of the victim on the very day of the commission of the crime.
We have repeatedly held that assessment of the credibility of the
witnesses is a function that is best discharged by trial courts. 30 This
is in line with the doctrine that factual findings of trial courts are
accorded the highest respect unless certain facts of value have been
plainly overlooked which, if considered, could affect the result of
the case. 31 The credibility of a rape victim is enhanced when, as in
the instant case, she has no motive to testify against the accused or
where there is absolutely no evidence which even remotely
suggests that she could have been actuated by such motive. 32
Appellant himself admitted that he could not discern any motive in
the accusation of the crime except that he owed the family P50.00,
33
which is too preposterous a claim to even deserve consideration
by this Court. No married woman would subject herself to public
scrutiny and humiliation to foist a false charge of rape. Neither
would she take the risk of being alienated from her husband and
her family. The fact that the victim resolved to face the ordeal and
relate in public what she suffered evinces that she did so to obtain
justice. 34 Her willingness and courage to face the authorities as well
as to submit to medical examination are mute but eloquent
confirmation of her sincere resolve. 35 We are thus convincingly
assured that the lower court prudently fulfilled its obligation as a
factual assessor and legal adjudicator. 36
Further, Dra. Josephine de la Torre, the medico-legal officer,
testified that she examined the victim at around 12:05 noon on the
same day of the incident and found sperm cells in the genitals of the
victim resulting from sexual intercourse within the past 12 hours,

and that the victim suffered abrasion and contusions on the neck
area, which were probably sustained when the victim tried to
defend herself. 37 The finding of seminal constituents in a rape
victim is important evidence for substantiating the fact that sexual
intercourse has taken place, but their absence does not necessarily
mean that a rape did not occur. Physical injuries such as bruises or
bleeding tend to confirm the fact that a violent assault did take
place." 38 The presence of sperm cells in her violated organ affirmed
her charge more than words or anger could prove. 39 In a
prosecution for rape, the complainant's physical condition as shown
by a medical examination is given considerable weight in proving
that a crime has been committed by testimony of the physician as
to evidence of recent sexual intercourse 40 and marks of violence
and bruises on her person. 41
Appellant's invocation of alibi to exculpate himself is insufficient to
overcome the positive identification made by the victim and her
daughter. In comparison with the clear and straightforward
testimony of the complainant and her witnesses, the defenses of
denial and alibi, which appellant relies upon, are discredited and
shopworn. 42 His alibi is self-serving and his bare denial is a negative
declaration which deserves no consideration and cannot prevail
over the affirmative testimony of complainant which was
corroborated by further evidence. 43 More importantly, "[i]n the
case of alibi, it is elementary case law that the requirements of time
and place be strictly complied with by the defense, meaning that
the accused must not only show that he was somewhere else but
that it was also physically impossible for him to have been at the
scene of the crime at the time it was committed." 44 While appellant
could have been in Sta. Maria, Bulacan, from October to December

1991, it was not physically impossible for him to have been in


Manibalac on the day of the commission of the crime.
Coming now to the particular circumstances of the offense, while
the information alleged nocturnity (nocturnidad) or nighttime, the
trial court did not consider it an aggravating circumstance. "There
are two tests for nocturnity as an aggravating circumstance: the
objective test, under which nocturnity is aggravating because it
facilitates the commission of the offense; and the subjective test,
under which nocturnity is aggravating because it was purposely
sought by the offender. These two tests should be applied in the
alternative." 45 By and of itself, nighttime is not an aggravating
circumstance. 46 The fact that the offense was committed at night
will not suffice to sustain nocturnidad. 47 Other than the time of the
commission of the crime, there is paucity in the evidence on record
to show that nighttime darkness was purposely sought by the
offender, or that it facilitated the commission of the crime. Hence,
nighttime could not be considered an aggravating circumstance.
Considering that the crime was committed in the domicile of the
victim without provocation on her part, the aggravating
circumstance of dwelling is present. Dwelling is considered an
aggravating circumstance because primarily of the sanctity of
privacy the law accords to human abode. According to one
commentator, one's dwelling place is a "sanctuary worthy of
respect" and that one who slanders another in the latter's house is
more guilty than he who offends him elsewhere. 48 He who goes to
another's house to hurt him or do him wrong is more guilty than he
who offends him elsewhere. 49

Considering, however, that appellant stands accused of the crime of


Robbery with Rape with the use of a deadly weapon, which is
punishable by reclusion perpetua to death under Article 294 of the
Revised Penal Code, the appreciation of the dwelling as an
aggravating circumstance is no longer necessary. Since the crime
was committed prior to the effectivity of the death penalty law, the
penalty of reclusion perpetua, an indivisible penalty, 50 imposed by
the trial court is fit and proper.
Under the circumstances in this case, we deem it proper to award
the complainant an indemnity of P50,000.00 51 and moral damages
in the amount of P50,000.00 under Article 2219 of the Civil Code,
pursuant to prevailing jurisprudence.
WHEREFORE, the judgment of the trial court in Criminal Case No.
91-3892 is hereby AFFIRMED, with the modification that in addition
to ordering the appellant to return to the victim the amount of
P5,060.00, and to pay her P50,000.00 as indemnity, appellant is also
hereby ordered to pay the victim P50,000.00 as moral damages.
SO ORDERED.

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 92536 November 8, 1993


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
RICARDO BUELA, MANUEL BUELA, and BONIFACIO BUELA,
accused-appellants.
The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
Public Attorney's Office for accused-appellants.

QUIASON, J.:
This is an appeal from the decision of the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 15, Tabaco, Albay, finding Ricardo, Manuel and Bonifacio, all
surnamed Buela, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Murder.
The information filed against appellants reads as follows:
INFORMATION
That on about the 27th day of December, 1988 at about 2:00 o'clock
(sic) in the afternoon, more or less, at Purok 9, Barangay San
Antonio, municipality of Tabaco, Province of Albay, Philippines and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused, conspiring, confederating and helping one another, taking
advantage of superior strength, with evident premeditation and
treachery, and with intent to kill, did then and there willfully,

unlawfully and feloniously attack, stab, hack and hit BIENVENIDO


BODINO y BORLAGDAN with a bolo and hardwood (bahi), thereby
inflicting upon the latter fatal wounds on the forehead, neck and
other parts of his body which caused his direct and immediate
death, to the damage and prejudice of the heirs of BIENVENIDO
BODING y BORLAGDAN. (Rollo, p. l9).
At their arraignment, the appellants pleaded not guilty.
According to the court a quo, on December 27, 1988 at around 7:00
A.M., Bienvenido Bodino was having breakfast at his house when
Ricardo Buela arrived and invited him for a drink. Bodino accepted
the invitation and the two repaired to the house of Bodino's sister,
Adalia. Maduro.
After consuming two bottles of gin and while in an inebriated state,
Bodino and Ricardo began to dance with each other. At about
lunchtime, Salvacion, Bodino's wife,came to fetch him. Bodino told
her to wait a while since he was still enjoying his cavort with
Ricardo. While they were dancing, the pair accidentally tripped and
fell on the cement floor causing Ricardo's right eyebrow to bleed.
After this incident, Bodino went home with his wife.
At around 1:00 P.M., while Bodino was in his front yard, he was
suddenly attacked by Ricardo and his two brothers, Manuel and
Bonifacio. The first to attack was Bonifacio, who hit Bodino with a
wooden club, locally called "bahi". Then, Ricardo hacked Bodino
with a bolo, followed by Manuel, who also struck the victim with a
wooden club.
Salvacion turned to embrace her, husband but Ricardo pushed her
away. She then shouted for help, and was heard by Bodino's sister,

Adalia Maduro, who rushed to the yard of the Bodinos. Adalia saw
Bodino lying prostrate on the ground with the three assailants still
taking turns in hitting him with their weapons.
Appellants then left. After having walked a distance of about three
meters, Ricardo returned to where the prostrate body of Bodino
laid and hacked him again.
According to the defense, on December 27, 1988, Ricardo went to
the house of Bodino to collect a P10.00 debt. After paying Ricardo,
Bodino invited him to have a drink at the house of Adalia Maduro.
Ricardo accepted the invitation.
Bodino and Ricardo were former members of the New People's
Army, who surrendered on December 31, 1987. While they were
drinking, Bodino tried to proselytize Ricardo back to the movement
but the latter rebuffed him. Afterwards, while they were dancing,
they tripped and fell on the floor. One of Ricardo's eyebrows
sustained a wound and bled. Bodino invited Ricardo for lunch but he
declined and instead went home. After lunch, Ricardo realized that
he had left his bolo at the house of Adalia Maduro; so he went back
for it. On his way home, Ricardo met Bodino, who tried to block his
path. Bodino asked him to rejoin the New People's Army and when
he resisted, Bodino got: angry. At this juncture, Aurora Buela,
Ricardo's mother, arrived together with his two brothers, Bonifacio
and Manuel.
Upon seeing them, Bodino went to the house of Adalia Maduro and
came back armed with a wooden club. He confronted the Buelas
and even taunted them to a fight. Then Bodino struck Ricardo with
his club. The latter was able to duck and evade the blow, which

instead landed on Aurora Buela's forehead. She fell on the ground


unconscious. Upon seeing what happened to his mother, Bonifacio
immediately grappled with Bodino and was able to wrest the
wooden club from him. Bonifacio used the same club to strike
Bodino at the back, of his head.
Manuel and Bonifacio Buela carried their mother home, leaving
Ricardo and Bodino behind.
The trial court convicted appellants and sentenced them to suffer
the penalty of reclusion perpetua (Rollo, p. 155).
Hence, this appeal.
Appellants contend that the trial court erred in rejecting their
version that Bodino was the aggressor and in finding that their
mother was not even present at the crime scene (Rollo, p. 135).
Appellants also question the finding of the trial court that Manuel
Buela participated in killing Bodino (Rollo, p. 134)
While admitting that they hacked and beat Bodino, Ricardo and
Bonifacio claimed that they acted in self-defense and in the defense
of their mother. They insisted that when they saw their mother
collapse and the blood spurting from her forehead, "they lost
control of their actions. . . . " (Rollo, pp. 134 135).
On rebuttal, Salvacion Bodino, the widow of Bodino, testified that
appellants' mother was not at the crime scene at all and that the
only person thereat, aside from her and Adalia Maduro, the sister of
the victim (Rollo, p. 148).

Appellants did not rebut the testimony of Salvacion Bodino that


Aurora Buela was not with them when they intruded into her front
yard. The center piece of appellant's defense was that Bodino was
the first to deliver a blow directed at Ricardo, but, which instead,
landed on the forehead of appellants' mother. The presentation of
sur-rebuttal evidence to neutralize the evidence of the prosecution
on this regard, was crucial. Appellants assert that they waived the
presentation of the sur-rebuttal evidence "to expedite the trial so
that they can avail of their constitutional right to a speedy trial"
(Rollo, p.134). We are not persuaded and are inclined to agree with
the observation of the Solicitor General that the version on the
presence of appellants' mother at the crime scene was nothing
more than a concocted story devoid of any semblance of credibility"
(Rollo, p. 80). The reason for the presence of appellant's mother
was not shown. For that matter, the sudden appearance of
Bonifacio and Manuel at the crime scene was not explained.
The participation of Manuel was established by a clear and
convincing evidence.
Salvacion Bodino testified as follows:
xxx xxx xxx
Q. While he was walking around your yard, was there anything
that happened according to your observation not ordinary (sic)?
A. Yes, there was.
Q. What was that incident that you observed ?

A. While my husband was taking a walk in the yard suddenly


these Ricardo Buela, Manuel Buela, Bonifacio Buela and Francisco
Buela arrived and hit my husband.
Q. Who struck your husband firstly (sic)?
A. Bonifacio was the one who struck my husband.
xxx xxx xxx
Q. What about Manuel, what did he do?
A. Manuel Buela also struck him.
(Rollo, pp. 77-78, emphasis ours)
The testimony of Salvacion Bodino was corroborated by Adalia
Maduro and Adela Brito, a neighbor of the Bodinos (TSN, June 29,
1989, pp. 15-16)
Abuse of superior strength, treachery and evident premeditation
were alleged as qualifying circumstances in the information filed
against appellants.
Abuse of superior strength is a relative factor and depends upon
circumstances other than mere numerical superiority of the
aggressors. Such factor may be correctly appreciated by the trial
court only after a searching inquiry (People vs. Flores, 40 SCRA 230
[1971]). There is no evidence to show that the three appellants
assaulted Bodino in such a way as to secure advantage from their
combined strength (People vs. Ybaez, 56 SCRA 210 [1974]).

Neither was there evidence to establish treachery. Before treachery


can be appreciated correctly, there must be a clear and positive
showing that the victim was completely defenseless when killed by
his assailants or was unaware of the assault on his person (People v.
Muoz, 170 SCRA 107 [1989]; People v. Molato, 170 SCRA 640
[1989]).

There was no substantial interval of time sufficient to afford


appellant a full opportunity for reflection, between the wounding of
Ricardo which happened at noon (assuming that such wounding
was the provocation that triggered the aggression of appellants)
and the killing, which took place an hour or two later (People v.
Tachado, 170 SCRA 611 [1989])

There is no way to conclude that treachery attended the killing of


Bodino. The fact that the attack was sudden as found by the trial
court is not enough to establish treachery (People v. Sabanal, 172
SCRA 430 [1989]). How sudden was "sudden"? What is decisive is
that the attack was executed in such a manner as to make it
impossible for the victim to retaliate (People v. Bustos, 171 SCRA
243 [1989]).

The crime committed by appellants is Homicide as defined under


Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code and penalized by reclusion
temporal. There being no mitigating nor aggravating circumstance
present, the penalty of reclusion temporal shall be imposed in its
medium period or an imprisonment of fourteen (14) years, eight (8)
months and one (1) day to seventeen (17) years and four (4)
months. While the crime was committed by three persons who
were all armed, the aggravating circumstance of the crime having
been committed with the aid of armed men under Article 14(8) of
the Revised Penal Code cannot be appreciated in this case because
the three accused acted under the same plan and for the same
purpose (People v. Pring 63 Phil. 546 [1936]; People v. Candado, 84
SCRA 508 [1978]).

The record is bereft of evidence showing the methods or the means


employed by appellants in order to ensure their safety from any
retaliation that could be put up by their victim.
Likewise, there was no evidence to establish evident premeditation.
When there is no showing as to how and when the plan to kill was
hatched or what time had elapsed before it was carried out, evident
premeditation cannot be considered to exist (People v. Narit, 197
SCRA 334 [1991]). To show premeditation, it is required that the
criminal intent be evidenced by notorious acts evincing
determination to commit the same. The criminal intent must be
evident, not merely suspected, or merely thought of or
contemplated mentally without an externalized act (People v.
Legarto, 196 SCRA 611 [1991]).

Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the minimum term that


can be imposed on appellants shall be within the range of six (6)
year's and one (1) day to twelve (12) years.
The civil indemnity ordered by the trial court to be paid by the
appellants to the legal heirs of the deceased in the amount of
P30,000.00 is increased to P50,000.00, conformably with the
present policy of this Court (People v. Yeban, 190 SCRA 409 [1990]).

WHEREFORE, this Court finds appellants guilty only of Homicide and


sentences them to suffer the indeterminate penalty of seven (7)
years and one (l) day of prision mayor to fourteen (14) years, eight
(8) months and one (1) day of reclusion temporal; and to indemnify
jointly and severally the heirs of Bienvenido Bodino in the amount
of P50,000.00. As thus MODIFIED, the judgment of the trial court is
AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED