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G.R.No.196735.May5,2014.

*
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiffappellee, vs. DANILO
FELICIANO,JR.,JULIUSVICTORMEDALLA,CHRISTOPHER
SOLIVA, WARREN L. ZINGAPAN, and ROBERT MICHAEL
BELTRANALVIR,accusedappellants.

RemedialLawCriminalProcedureProsecutionofOffensesProbable
Cause Due Process Upon a finding of probable cause, an information is
filed by the prosecutor against the accused, in compliance with the due
processofthelaw.Itis enshrined in our Bill of Rights that [n]o person
shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law.
Thisincludestherightoftheaccusedtobepresumedinnocentuntilproven
guiltyandtobeinformedofthenatureandaccusationagainsthim.Upona
findingof

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*THIRDDIVISION.

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probablecause,aninformationisfiledbytheprosecutoragainsttheaccused,
in compliance with the due process of the law. Rule 110, Section 1,
paragraph 1 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that: A complaint
or information is sufficient if it states the name of the accused the
designation of the offense given by the statute the acts or omissions
complained of as constituting the offense the name of the offended party
theapproximatedateofthecommissionoftheoffenseandtheplacewhere
theoffensewascommitted.
Criminal Law Aggravating Circumstances Failure to state an
aggravating circumstance, even if duly proven at trial, will not be
appreciated as such.It should be remembered that every aggravating
circumstancebeingallegedmustbestatedintheinformation.Failuretostate
an aggravating circumstance, even if duly proven at trial, will not be
appreciatedassuch.Itwas,therefore,incumbentontheprosecutiontostate
the aggravating circumstance of wearing masks and/or other forms of
disguiseintheinformationinorderforalltheevidence,introducedtothat
effect,tobeadmissiblebythetrialcourt.
Same Same Disguise In criminal cases, disguise is an aggravating
circumstance because, like nighttime, it allows the accused to remain
anonymous and unidentifiable as he carries out his crimes.In criminal
cases, disguise is an aggravating circumstance because, like nighttime, it
allowstheaccusedtoremainanonymousandunidentifiableashecarriesout
his crimes. The introduction of the prosecution of testimonial evidence that
tendstoprovethattheaccusedweremaskedbutthemasksfelloffdoesnot
preventthemfromincludingdisguiseasanaggravatingcircumstance.What
isimportantinallegingdisguiseasanaggravatingcircumstanceisthatthere
was a concealment of identity by the accused. The inclusion of disguise in
the information was, therefore, enough to sufficiently apprise the accused
that in the commission of the offense they were being charged with, they
triedtoconcealtheiridentity.
SameConspiracyConspiracypresupposesthattheactofoneisthe
act of all.The information charges conspiracy among the accused.
Conspiracy presupposes that the act of one is the act of all. This would
meanalltheaccusedhadbeenoneintheirplantoconcealtheiridentityeven
if there was evidence later on to prove that some of them might not have
doneso.Inanycase,theaccused

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Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

were being charged with the crime of murder, frustrated murder, and
attempted murder. All that is needed for the information to be sufficient is
thattheelementsofthecrimehavebeenallegedandthattherearesufficient
detailsastothetime,place,andpersonsinvolvedintheoffense.
Remedial Law Criminal Procedure Appeals As a general rule, the
findingsoffactbythetrialcourt,whenaffirmedbytheappellatecourt,are
givengreatweightandcredenceonreview.Asageneralrule,thefindings
of fact by the trial court, when affirmed by the appellate court, are given
greatweightandcredenceonreview.Therationaleforthiswasexplainedin
Peoplev.DanielQuijada,259SCRA191(1996),as follows: Settled is the
rulethatthefactualfindingsofthetrialcourt,especiallyonthecredibilityof
witnesses,areaccordedgreatweightandrespect.For,thetrialcourthasthe
advantage of observing the witnesses through the different indicators of
truthfulnessorfalsehood,suchastheangryflushofaninsistedassertionor
the sudden pallor of a discovered lie or the tremulous mutter of a reluctant
answerortheforthrighttoneofareadyreplyorthefurtiveglance,theblush
of conscious shame, the hesitation, the sincere or the flippant or sneering
tone,theheat,thecalmness,theyawn,thesigh,thecandororlackofit,the
scantorfull realization of the solemnity of an oath, the carriage and mien.
Thereare,ofcourse,recognizedexceptionstothisrule.InPeoplev.Leticia
Labarias,217 SCRA 483 (1993), this court stated that: Itis the policy of
thisCourttosustainthefactualfindingsofthetrialcourtonthereasonable
assumption that it is in a better position to assess the evidence before it,
particularlythetestimoniesofthewitnesses,whorevealmuchofthemselves
by their deportment on the stand. The exception that makes the rule is
wheresuchfindingsareclearlyarbitraryorerroneousaswhentheyare
taintedwithbiasorhostilityoraresolackinginbasisastosuggestthat
they were reached without the careful study and perceptiveness that
shouldcharacterizeajudicialdecision.
SameEvidenceWitnessesItwouldbeinlinewithhumanexperience
that a victim or an eyewitness of a crime would endeavor to find ways to
identifytheassailantsothatintheeventthatheorshesurvives,thecriminal
could be apprehended.It would be in line with human experience that a
victimoraneyewitnessofacrimewouldendeavortofindwaystoidentify
theassailantsothatinthe

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eventthatheorshesurvives,thecriminalcouldbeapprehended.Ithasalso
been previously held that: It is the most natural reaction for victims of
criminal violence to strive to see the looks and faces of their assailants and
observethemannerinwhichthecrimewascommitted.Mostoftentheface
of the assailant and body movements thereof, creates a lasting impression
whichcannotbeeasilyerasedfromtheirmemory.
SameSameSameAsageneralrule,awitnesscantestifyonlytothe
facts he knows of his personal knowledge that is, which are derived from
hisownperception.As a general rule, [a] witness can testify only to the
facts he knows of his personal knowledge that is, which are derived from
hisownperception,xxx.Allotherkindsoftestimonyarehearsayandare
inadmissible as evidence. The Rules of Court, however, provide several
exceptionstothegeneralrule,andoneofwhichiswhentheevidenceispart
ofresgestae,thus: Section 42. Part of res gestae.Statements made by a
person while a starting occurrence is taking place or immediately prior or
subsequenttheretowithrespecttothecircumstancesthereof,maybegivenin
evidence as part of res gestae. So, also, statements accompanying an
equivocalactmaterialtotheissue,andgivingitalegalsignificance,maybe
receivedaspartoftheresgestae.
Same Same Res Gestae Considering that the statements of the
bystanders were made immediately after the startling occurrence, they are,
infact,admissibleasevidencegiveninresgestae.Thereisnodoubtthata
sudden attack on a group peacefully eating lunch on a school campus is a
startlingoccurrence.Consideringthatthestatementsofthebystanderswere
madeimmediatelyafterthestartlingoccurrence,theyare,infact,admissible
asevidencegiveninresgestae.
Criminal Law Alibi It is settled that the defense of alibi cannot
prevail over the positive identification of the victim.It is settled that the
defenseofalibicannotprevailoverthepositiveidentificationofthevictim.
InPeoplev.BenjaminPeteluna,689SCRA190(2013),thiscourtisstated
that: x x x In this case, the victims were able to positively identify their
attackers while the accusedappellants merely offered alibis and denials as
their defense. The credibility of the victims was upheld by both the trial
courtandthe

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appellate court while giving little credence to the accusedappellants alibis.


Thereis,thus,noreasontodisturbtheirfindings.
Same Aggravating Circumstances Treachery The swiftness and the
suddenness of the attack gave no opportunity for the victims to retaliate or
eventodefendthemselves.Treachery,therefore,waspresentinthiscase.
The victims, who were unarmed, were also attacked with lead pipes and
baseballbats.Theonlywaytheycouldparrytheblowswaswiththeirarms.
In a situation where they were unarmed and outnumbered, it would be
impossible for them to fight back against the attackers. The attack also
happenedinlessthanaminute,whichwouldprecludeanypossibilityofthe
bystandersbeingabletohelpthemuntilaftertheincident.Theswiftnessand
thesuddennessoftheattackgavenoopportunityforthevictimstoretaliate
oreventodefendthemselves.Treachery,therefore,waspresentinthiscase.
SameConspiracyConspiracy,onceproven,hastheeffectofattaching
liabilitytoalloftheaccused,regardlessoftheirdegreeofparticipation.It
should be remembered that the trial court found that there was conspiracy
amongtheaccusedappellantsand the appellate court sustained this finding.
Conspiracy, once proven, has the effect of attaching liability to all ofthe
accused, regardless of their degree of participation, thus: Once an express
orimpliedconspiracyisproved,alloftheconspiratorsareliableasco
principals regardless of the extent and character of their respective
active participation in the commission of the crime or crimes
perpetrated in furtherance of the conspiracy because in contemplation
oflawtheactofoneistheactofall.Theforegoingruleisanchoredonthe
sound principle that when two or more persons unite to accomplish a
criminal object, whether through the physical volition of one, or all,
proceedingseverallyorcollectively,eachindividualwhoseevilwillactively
contributestothewrongdoingisinlawresponsibleforthewhole,thesame
asthoughperformedbyhimselfalone.Althoughitisaxiomaticthatnoone
is liable for acts other than his own, when two or more persons agree or
conspiretocommitacrime,eachisresponsibleforalltheactsoftheothers,
done in furtherance of the agreement or conspiracy. The imposition of
collective liability upon the conspirators is clearly explained in one case
where this Court held that ... it is impossible to graduate the separate
liabilityofeach(conspirator)with

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out taking into consideration the close and inseparable relation of each of
them with the criminal act, for the commission of which they all acted by
commonagreement...Thecrimemustthereforeinviewofthesolidarityof
the act and intent which existed between the ... accused, be regarded as the
actofthebandorpartycreatedbythem,andtheyareallequallyresponsible.
Verily,themomentitisestablishedthatthemalefactorsconspiredand
confederatedinthecommissionofthefelonyproved,collectiveliability
of the accused conspirators attaches by reason of the conspiracy, and
thecourtshallnotspeculatenoreveninvestigateastotheactualdegree
of participation of each of the perpetrators present at the scene of the
crime.xxx.
ABAD,J.,DissentingOpinion:
Remedial Law Evidence Proof Beyond Reasonable Doubt View that
in every criminal action, the prosecution has to establish the identity of the
offender, like the crime itself, by proof beyond reasonable doubt.Inevery
criminalaction,theprosecutionhastoestablishtheidentityoftheoffender,
likethecrimeitself,byproofbeyondreasonabledoubt.Indeed,itsfirstduty
is to prove the identity of the offender for, even if the commission of the
offensecanbeestablished,noconvictioncantakeplacewithoutproofofhis
identitybeyondreasonabledoubt.
CriminalLawAlibiViewthattrue,alibiisaweakdefenseintheface
of positive testimonies of prosecution witnesses that the accused committed
thecrime.True,alibiisaweakdefenseinthefaceofpositivetestimonies
of prosecution witnesses that the accused committed the crime. But such
testimonies must be credible and must come from credible witnesses.
Several circumstances militate against the mauling victims testimonies that
theywereabletoidentifytheirattackers.
Remedial Law Evidence View that the circumstances of the separate
identifications,takingplaceinsplitseconds,defybelief.Just what are the
chances that four out of five witnesses who were fleeing and, indeed,
running for their lives would just look back, risk stumbling and crashing
down,toputinevidencetheidentitiesofsomeofthosewhomtheRTCand
the CA convicted? Very little. Itappears a convenient excuse for providing
evidencewherenone
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existed. The circumstances of the separate identifications, taking place in


split seconds, defy belief. What baffles me is the fact that the trial court
acquitted SJ Morano whom SR Fortes and Gaston identified while looking
back on the run but convicted SJ Zingapan, Soliva, and Medalla who were
alsotargetsoflookbacktestimonies.
Same Same Res Gestae View that the statement of the bystanders,
made while some of the wounded were bleeding there and the excitement
lingered,maybegiveninevidenceaspartoftheresgestae.Thestatement
ofthebystanders,madewhilesomeofthewoundedwerebleedingthereand
theexcitementlingered,maybegiveninevidenceaspartoftheresgestae.
Section42,Rule130oftheRulesofEvidenceprovides:Sec.42.Partofthe
res gestae.Statements made by a person while a startling occurrence is
taking place or immediately prior or subsequent thereto with respect to the
circumstancesthereof,maybegiveninevidenceaspartoftheresgestae.x
xxThesestatementsarespontaneousreactionsinspiredbytheexcitementof
themoment.Itmaybeassumedthat,unliketardywitnesses,thebystanders
who made the statements had no opportunity to deliberate or fabricate. The
wordstheyutteredarepartofthecommotiontheydescribed.Theresgestae
contradictstheattemptofprosecutionwitnessestoshowthatanumberofthe
attackers wore masks or that identification was possible because the masks
ofsomefelloff.
Constitutional Law Right to Remain Silent View that the right to
silenceisgiventopersonsundersuspicionforcommittingsomecrimes,not
to the victims whose duty is to promptly assist the police investigators in
pinpointing criminal responsibilities.The right to silence is given to
persons under suspicion for committing some crimes, not to the victims
whose duty is to promptly assist the police investigators in pinpointing
criminal responsibilities. No evidence has been presented to show that the
UP police force was partial to the opposing fraternity. Iam thus unable to
blametheaccusedforbelievingthattheonlypossiblereasoninthiscasefor
withholding information from the police from day one was that the victims
andtheircounselhadyettoputtheiractstogether.
CriminalLawAggravatingCircumstancesTreacheryViewthatwhile
theattackbymaskedmenisdoublycondemnable,notonlyforthetreachery
involvedbutalsoforthecowardiceanddeception

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that came with it, the Supreme Court cannot hastily send to prison those
charged with these crimes without proof beyond reasonable doubt that they
committedthem.While the attack by masked men is doubly condemnable,
notonlyforthetreacheryinvolvedbutalsoforthecowardiceanddeception
thatcamewithit,theCourtcannothastilysendtoprisonthosechargedwith
these crimes without proof beyond reasonable doubt that they committed
them.TheConstitutionordainsthis.Inacaselikethis,wheretheidentities
and participations of the several accused involved are difficult to prove, the
idealsolutionistoconvincetheleastguiltyofthem,theonewhoshowedthe
mostreluctanceanddeliveredthelightestblows,toturnstatewitness.Iam
unable to say if efforts in this direction were taken by the NBI or the
prosecutorstoensurethattheyhadagoodcase.

APPEALfromadecisionoftheCourtofAppeals.
ThefactsarestatedintheopinionoftheCourt.
OfficeoftheSolicitorGeneralforplaintiffappellee.
De Castro & Cagampang Law Offices for accusedappellant
ChristopherSoliva.
Villareal, Rosacia, Dino & Patag Law Offices for appellant
Alvir.
EstelitoP.MendozaforappellantZingapan.

LEONEN,J.:
It is in the hallowed grounds of a university where students,
faculty, and research personnel should feel safest. After all, this is
where ideas that could probably solve the sordid realities in this
world are peacefully nurtured and debated. Universities produce
hope.Theyincubateallouryouthfuldreams.
Yet, there are elements within this academic milieu that trade
misplaced concepts of perverse brotherhood for these hopes.
Fraternityrumblesexistbecauseofpastimpunity.

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156 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

This has resulted in a senseless death whose justice is now the


subjectmatterofthiscase.Itisrarethatthesecasesareprosecuted.
Itis even more extraordinary that there are credible witnesses who
present themselves courageously before an able and experienced
trialcourtjudge.
This culture of impunity must stop. There is no space in this
society for hooliganism disguised as fraternity rumbles. The
perpetrators must stand and suffer the legal consequences of their
actions. They must do so for there is an individual who now lies
dead, robbed of his dreams and the dreams of his family.
Excruciatinggriefforthemwillneverbeenough.
It is undisputed that on December 8, 1994, at around 12:30 to
1:00 in the afternoon, seven (7) members of the Sigma Rho
Fraternity were eating lunch at the Beach House Canteen, near the
Main Library of the University of the Philippines, Diliman, when
they were attacked by several masked men carrying baseball bats
and lead pipes. Some of them sustained injuries that required
hospitalization. One of them, Dennis Venturina, died from his
injuries.
An information[1] for murder, docketed as Criminal Case No.
Q9561133,wasfiledagainstseveralmembersoftheScintillaJuris
Fraternity, namely, Danilo Feliciano, Jr., Julius Victor L. Medalla,
WarrenL. Zingapan, Robert Michael Beltran Alvir, Christopher L.
Soliva, Reynaldo G. Ablanida, Carlo Jolette Fajardo, George
Morano, Raymund E. Narag, Gilbert Merle Magpantay, Benedict
Guerrero,andRodolfoPealosa,Jr.withtheRegionalTrialCourtof
QuezonCity,Branch219.Theinformationreads:

That on or about the 8th day of December 1994, in Quezon City,


Philippines,theabovenamedaccused,wearingmasksand/orotherformsof
disguise,conspiring,confederatingwithotherpersonswhosetrue

_______________
[1]Originalrecords,Vol.I,p.3.

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names, identities and whereabouts have not as yet been ascertained, and
mutually helping one another, with intent to kill, qualified with treachery,
andwithevidentpremeditation,takingadvantageofsuperiorstrength,armed
with baseball bats, lead pipes, and cutters, did then and there willfully,
unlawfullyandfeloniouslyattack,assaultandemploypersonalviolenceupon
the person of DENNIS F. VENTURINA, by then and there hitting him on
the head and clubbing him on different parts of his body thereby inflicting
upon him serious and mortal injuries which were the direct and immediate
causeofhisdeath,tothedamageandprejudiceoftheheirsofsaidDENNIS
F.VENTURINA.(Emphasissupplied)


Separate informations were also filed against them for the
attempted murder of Sigma Rho Fraternity members Cesar
Mangrobang,Jr.,[2]CristobalGaston,Jr.,[3]andLeandroLachica,[4]
andthefrustratedmurderofSigmaRhoFraternitymembersMervin
Natalicio[5] and Arnel Fortes.[6] Only 11 of the accused stood trial
sinceoneoftheaccused,BenedictGuerrero,remainedatlarge.
Atrialonthemeritsensued.
Thefacts,accordingtotheprosecution,areasfollows:
Leandro Lachica, Arnel Fortes, Dennis Venturina, Mervin
Natalicio, Cristobal Gaston, Jr., Felix Tumaneng,[7] and Cesar
Mangrobang, Jr. are all members of the Sigma Rho Fraternity. On
December8,1994,ataround12:30to1:00p.m.,theywerehaving
lunch at Beach House Canteen, located at the back of the Main
LibraryoftheUniversityofthePhilippines,

_______________
[2]DocketedasQ9561134.
[3]DocketedasQ9561135.
[4]DocketedasQ9561136.
[5]DocketedasQ9561137.
[6]DocketedasQ9561138.
[7]FelixTumanengwasnotpresentedasawitnessbytheprosecution.

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Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

Diliman, Quezon City.[8] Suddenly, Dennis Venturina shouted,


Brods,brods![9]
According to Leandro Lachica, Grand Archon of Sigma Rho
Fraternity, he looked around when Venturina shouted, and he saw
aboutten(10)menchargingtowardthem.[10]Themenwerearmed
withbaseballbatsandleadpipes,andtheirheadswerecoveredwith
eitherhandkerchiefsorshirts.[11]Withinafewseconds,five(5)of
themenstartedattackinghim,hittinghimwiththeirleadpipes.[12]
During the attack, he recognized one of the attackers as Robert
MichaelBeltranAlvirbecausehismaskfelloff.[13]
Lachica tried to parry the blows of his attackers, suffering
scratches and contusions.[14] He was, however, able to run to the
nearby College of Education.[15] Just before reaching it, he looked
backandsawWarrenZingapanandJuliusVictorL.Medallaholding
leadpipesandstandingwherethecommotionwas.[16]Bothofthem
did not have their masks on.[17] He was familiar with Alvir,
Zingapan,andMedallabecauseheoftensawthemintheCollegeof
SocialSciencesandPhilosophy(CSSP)andZingapanusedtobehis
friend.[18] The attack lasted about thirty (30) to fortyfive (45)
seconds.[19]
AccordingtoMervinNatalicio,theViceGrandArchonofSigma
Rho,helookedtohisleftwhenVenturinashouted.[20]
_______________
[8]TSN,June5,1995,pp.911.
[9]TSN,July3,1995,p.7.
[10]TSN,June5,1995,p.25.
[11]Id.,atpp.1112.
[12]Id.,atp.12.
[13]Id.
[14]Id.,atp.13.
[15]Id.,atpp.1314.
[16]Id.,atpp.4546.
[17]Id.,atpp.1314.
[18]Id.
[19]Id.,atp.33.
[20]TSN,July3,1995,p.7.

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Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

He saw about fifteen (15) to twenty (20) men, most of who were
wearing masks, running toward them.[21] He was stunned, and he
startedrunning.[22]Hestumbledovertheprotrudingrootsofatree.
[23]Hegotup,buttheattackerscameafterhimandbeathimupwith
lead pipes and baseball bats until he fell down.[24] While he was
parryingtheblows,herecognizedtwo(2)oftheattackersasWarren
ZingapanandChristopherL.Solivasincetheywerenotwearingany
masks.[25]Afteraboutthirty(30)seconds,theystoppedhittinghim.
[26] He was lying on his back and when he looked up, he saw
anothergroupoffour(4)tofive(5)mencomingtowardhim,ledby
BenedictGuerrero.[27] This group also beat him up.[28] He did not
moveuntilanothergroupofmaskedmenbeathimupforaboutfive
(5)toeight(8)seconds.[29]Whentheattacksceased,hewasfound
lyingontheground.[30]SeveralbystandersbroughthimtotheU.P.
Infirmarywherehestayedformorethanaweekforthetreatmentof
hiswoundsandfractures.[31]
AccordingtoCesarMangrobang,Jr.,memberofSigmaRho, he
also looked back when Venturina shouted and saw a group of men
withbaseballbatsandleadpipes.Someofthemworepiecesofcloth
aroundtheirheads.[32]Heranwhentheyattacked,buttwo(2)men,
whosefaceswerecoveredwithpiecesofcloth,blockedhiswayand
hithimwithleadpipes.[33] While running and parrying the blows,
herecognizedthemas

_______________
[21]Id.
[22]Id.,atp.10.
[23]Id.
[24]Id.,atpp.1213.
[25]Id.,atpp.1416.
[26]Id.,atp.16.
[27]Id.,atpp.1617.
[28]Id.,atp.17.
[29]Id.,atp.19.
[30]Id.,atpp.1920.
[31]Id.
[32]TSN,September28,1995,pp.1415.
[33]Id.,atp.16.

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160 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

GilbertMerleMagpantayandCarloJoletteFajardobecausetheir
masks fell off.[34] He successfully evaded his attackers and ran to
the Main Library.[35] He then decided that he needed to help his
fraternitybrothersandturnedbacktowardBeachHouse.[36] There,
hesawVenturinalyingontheground.[37]DaniloFeliciano,Jr.was
beatingVenturinaupwithaleadpipewhileRaymundE.Naragwas
aiming to hit Venturina.[38] When they saw him, they went toward
his direction.[39] They were about to hit him when somebody
shoutedthatpolicemenwerecoming.FelicianoandNaragthenran
away.[40]
Cesar Mangrobang, Jr. then saw Arnel Fortes. Fortes
accompaniedhimtohiscarsotheycouldbringVenturinatotheU.P.
Infirmary.[41] When they brought the car over, other people,
presumablybystanders,werealreadyloadingVenturinaintoanother
vehicle.[42]TheyfollowedthatvehicletotheU.P.Infirmarywhere
theysawNatalicio.[43]Hestayedattheinfirmaryuntilthefollowing
morning.[44]
According to Cristobal Gaston, Jr., member of Sigma Rho, he
immediately stood up when he heard someone shout, Brods![45]
He saw a group of men charging toward them carrying lead pipes
and baseball bats.[46] Most of them had pieces of cloth covering
theirfaces.[47]Hewasabouttorunwhentwo(2)

_______________
[34]Id.,atpp.1718.
[35]Id.,atpp.2021.
[36]Id.,atpp.2122.
[37]Id.,atp.23.
[38]Id.,atpp.2326.
[39]Id.,atp.28.
[40]Id.,atpp.2829.
[41]Id.,atp.33.
[42]Id.,atp.34.
[43]Id.,atp.35.
[44]Id.,atp.36.
[45]TSN,October11,1995,p.15.
[46]Id.
[47]Id.,atpp.1617.

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of the attackers approached him.[48] One struck him with a heavy


pipe while the other stabbed him with a bladed instrument.[49] He
was able to parry most of the blows from the lead pipe, but he
sustained stab wounds on the chest and on his left forearm.[50] He
wasabletorunaway.[51]Whenhesensedthatnoonewaschasing
him, he looked back to Beach House Canteen and saw Danilo
Feliciano,Jr.,WarrenZingapan,andGeorgeMorano.[52]Hedecided
togobacktothecanteentohelphisfraternitybrothers.[53]Whenhe
arrived,hedidnotseeanyofhisfraternitybrothersbutonlysawthe
ones who attacked them.[54] He ended up going to their hangout
instead to meet with his other fraternity brothers.[55] They then
proceededtotheCollegeofLawwheretherestofthefraternitywas
alreadydiscussingtheincident.[56]
According to Arnel Fortes, member of Sigma Rho, he also ran
whenhesawthegroupofattackerscomingtowardthem.[57]When
he looked back, he saw Danilo Feliciano, Jr. hitting Venturina.[58]
HewasalsoabletoseeWarrenZingapanandGeorgeMoranoatthe
scene.[59]
LeandroLachica,inthemeantime,uponreachingtheCollegeof
Education,boardedajeepneytotheCollegeofLawtowaitfortheir
other fraternity brothers.[60] One of his fraternity brothers, Peter
Corvera,toldhimthathereceivedinforma

_______________
[48]Id.,atpp.1718.
[49]Id.,atpp.1920.
[50]Id.,atp.24.
[51]Id.,atp.31.
[52]Id.,atpp.3132.
[53]Id.,atp.33.
[54]Id.,atpp.3435.
[55]Id.,atp.40.
[56]Id.,atpp.4445.
[57]TSN,October30,1995,p.74.
[58]Id.,atpp.3031.
[59]Id.,atpp.7778.
[60]TSN,June21,1995,pp.56.

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Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

tion that members of ScintillaJuris were seen in the west wing of


theMainLibraryandwereregroupinginSMNorth.[61]Lachicaand
his groupthenset off for SM North to confrontScintilla Juris and
identifytheirattackers.[62]
When they arrived in SM North, pillboxes and stones were
thrownatthem.[63] Lachica saw Robert Michael Beltran Alvir and
Warren Zingapan and a certain Carlo Taparan.[64] They had no
choice but to get away from the mall and proceed instead to U.P.
wheretheSigmaRhoFraternitymembersheldameeting.[65]
On the night of December 8, 1994, the officers of Sigma Rho
advised the victims to lodge their complaints with the National
BureauofInvestigation.[66]Theircounsel,Atty.FrankChavez,told
the U.P. Police that the victims would be giving their statements
before the National Bureau of Investigation, promising to give the
U.P. Police copies of their statements. In the meantime, Venturina
was transferred from the U.P. Infirmary to St. Lukes Hospital on
December8,1994.HediedonDecember10,1994.[67]
On December 11, 1994, an autopsy was conducted on the
cadaver of Dennis Venturina.[68] Dr. Rolando Victoria, a medico
legal officer of the National Bureau of Investigation, found that
Venturina had several contusions located at the back of the upper
left arm and hematoma on the back of both hands,[69] two (2)
laceratedwoundsatthebackofthehead,[70]

_______________
[61]TSN,June5,1995,p.14.
[62]Id.
[63]Id.,atpp.1415.
[64]Id.,atp.17.
[65]Id.,atp.15.
[66]Id.,atp.20.
[67]TSN,September16,1996,pp.1014.
[68]TSN,July24,1995,pp.67.
[69]Id.,atpp.1416.
[70]Id.,atpp.1617.

163
VOL.724,MAY5,2014 163
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

generalized hematoma on the skull,[71] several fractures on the


head,[72] and intercranial hemmorrhage.[73] The injuries,
according to Dr. Victoria, could have been caused by a hard blunt
object.[74] Dr. Victoria concluded that Venturina died of traumatic
headinjuries.[75]
OnDecember12,1994,Lachica,Natalicio,Mangrobang,Fortes,
and Gaston executed their respective affidavits[76] before the
National Bureau of Investigation and underwent medicolegal
examinations[77]withtheirmedicolegalofficer,Dr.AurelioVillena.
According to Dr. Villena, he found that Mervin Natalicio had
laceratedwoundsonthetopofthehead,abovetheleftear,andon
thefingerscontusedabrasionsonbothkneescontusionontheleft
legandthigh,[78]allofwhichcouldhavebeencausedbyanyhard,
bluntobject.Theseinjuriesrequiredmedicalattendanceforaperiod
often(10)daystothirty(30)daysfromthedateofinfliction.[79]
Dr.VillenafoundonArnelForteslaceratedwoundsonthehead
and on the right leg which could have been caused by a blunt
instrument.[80] These injuries required hospitalization for a period
of ten (10) days to thirty (30) days from date of infliction.[81] He
alsofoundonCesarMangrobang,Jr.ahealedabrasionontheleft
forearm which could possibly be caused by contact with [a] rough
hardsurfaceandwouldrequireone

_______________
[71]Id.,atp.18.
[72]Id.,atpp.1920.
[73]Id.,atp.22.
[74]Id.,atp.41.
[75]Id.,atp.23.
[76]TSN,June5,1995,p.17TSN,July3,1995,p.20TSN,September28,1995,
pp.116117TSN,October20,1995,p.34TSN,October11,1995,p.48.
[77]TSN,June5,1995,p.17.
[78]TSN,July31,1995,p.14.
[79]Id.,atp.46.
[80]Id.,atpp.2628.
[81]Id.,atp.46.

164

164 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

(1)tonine(9)daysofmedicalattention.[82]HefoundonLeandro
Lachicacontusionsonthemidauxiliaryleftside,leftforearmand
lacerated wound on the infra scapular area, left side.[83] On
ChristopherGaston,Jr.hefoundlaceratedwoundsontheanterior
chest, left side, left forearm swollen knuckles of both hands
contusionsonthemidauxiliaryleftside,leftforearmandlacerated
woundontheinfrascapulararea,leftside.[84]
On September 18, 1997, after the prosecution presented its
evidenceinchief, the court granted the demurrer to evidence filed
byRodolfoPealosa,Jr.onthegroundthathewasnotidentifiedby
theprosecutionswitnessesandthathewasnotmentionedinanyof
thedocumentaryevidenceoftheprosecution.[85]
Upon the presentation of their evidence, the defense introduced
theirownstatementofthefacts,asfollows:
AccordingtoRomeoCabrera,[86]amemberoftheU.P.Police,he
was on foot patrol with another member of the U.P. Police, Oscar
Salvador,atthetimeoftheincident.TheywereneartheCollegeof
Arts and Sciences (Palma Hall) when he vaguely heard somebody
shouting, Rumble! They went to the place where the alleged
rumble was happening and saw injured men being helped by
bystanders.Theyhelpedaninjuredpersonboardtheservicevehicle
oftheBeachHouseCanteen.Theyaskedwhathisnamewas,andhe
repliedthathewasMervinNatalicio.WhenheaskedNataliciowho
hithim,thelatterwasnotabletoreplybutinsteadtoldhimthathis
attackers were wearing masks. Oscar Salvador[87] corroborated his
testimony.

_______________
[82]Id.,atp.401.
[83]Id.,atpp.3133.
[84]Id.
[85]RTCDecision,p.15.
[86]TSN,November11,1995.
[87]TSN,November20,1995.

165

VOL.724,MAY5,2014 165
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

BenjaminLato,[88]autilityworkeroftheBeachHouseCanteen,
likewise testified that the identities of the attackers were
unrecognizable because of their masks. He, however, admitted that
hedidnotseetheattackhejustsawamansprawledontheground
atthetimeoftheincident.
Frisco Capilo,[89] a utility worker of U.P. assigned to the Main
Library, was buying a cigarette at a vendor located nearby. From
there,heallegedlysawthewholeincident.Hetestifiedthatten(10)
men, wearing either masks of red and black bonnets or with shirts
coveringtheirfaces,camefromaredcarparkednearby.Healsosaw
three(3)menbeinghitwithleadpipesbythemaskedmen.Two(2)
of the men fell after being hit. One of the victims was lifting the
other to help him, but the attackers overtook him. Afterwards, the
attackers ran away. He then saw students helping those who were
injured. He likewise helped in carrying one of the injured victims,
whichhelaterfoundouttobeArnelFortes.
AU.P.studentandmemberoftheSigmaAlphaNuSorority,Eda
Panganiban,[90] testified that she and her friends were in line to
order lunch at the Beach House Canteen when a commotion
happened.Shesawaroundfifteen(15)toeighteen(18)maskedmen
attackagroupofSigmaRhoans.Shedidnotseeanymaskfalloff.
Her sorority sister and another U.P. student, Luz Perez,[91]
corroborated her story that the masked men were unrecognizable
becauseoftheirmasks.Perez,however,admittedthatamemberof
ScintillaJurisapproachedhertomakeastatement.
Another sorority sister, Bathalani Tiamzon,[92] testified on
substantially the same matters as Panganiban and Perez. She also
statedthatshesawapersonlyingonthegroundwho

_______________
[88]TSN,November27,1995.
[89]TSN,December4,1995.
[90]TSN,December11,1995.
[91]Id.
[92]TSN,December18,1995.

166

166 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

wasbeingbeatenupbyaboutthree(3)tofive(5)maskedmen.She
also stated that some of the men were wearing black masks while
some were wearing white tshirts as masks. She did not see any
maskfalloffthefacesoftheattackers.
According to Feliciana Feliciano,[93] accusedappellant Danilo
Feliciano, Jr.s mother, her son was in Pampanga to visit his sick
grandfatheratthetimeoftheincident.Sheallegedthathersonwent
toPampangabeforelunchthatdayandvisitedtheschoolwhereshe
teachestogettheirhousekeyfromher.
AccordingtoRobertMichaelBeltranAlvir,[94] he had not been
feelingwellsinceDecember5,1994.Hesaidthathecouldnothave
possiblybeeninU.P.onDecember8,1994sincehewasabsenteven
from work. He also testified that he wore glasses and, thus, could
nothavepossiblybeenthepersonidentifiedbyLeandroLachica.He
alsostatedthathewasnotenrolledinU.P.atthetimesincehewas
workingtosupporthimself.
AccordingtoJuliusVictorMedalla,[95]heandanotherclassmate,
Michael Vibas, were working on a school project on December 8,
1994. He also claimed that he could not have participated in the
rumble as he had an injury affecting his balance. The injury was
caused by an incident in August 1994 when he was struck in the
head by an unknown assailant. His testimony was corroborated by
JoseVictorSantos[96]whostatedthatafterlunchthatday,Medalla
playeddartswithhimand,afterwards,theywenttoJollibee.
Christopher Soliva,[97] on the other hand, testified that he was
eating lunch with his girlfriend and another friend in Jollibee,
Philcoa,onDecember8,1994.Theywentbackto

_______________
[93]TSN,November27,1995.
[94]TSN,February2,2000.
[95]TSN,September22,1999.
[96]TSN,August11,1999.
[97]TSN,June16,1999.

167

VOL.724,MAY5,2014 167
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

U.P. before 1:00 p.m. and went straight to their fraternity hangout
wherehewastoldthattherehadbeenarumbleattheMainLibrary.
He also met several Sigma Rhoans acting suspiciously as they
passed by the hangout. They were also told by their head, Carlo
Taparan,nottoreacttotheSigmaRhoans and justgo home.Anna
Cabahug,[98]hisgirlfriend,corroboratedhisstory.
WarrenZingapan[99]alsotestifiedthathewasnotinU.P.atthe
timeoftheincident.HeclaimedtohavegonetoSMNorthtobuya
giftforafriendsweddingbutranintoafraternitybrother.Healso
alleged that some Sigma Rhoans attacked them in SM North that
day.
On February 28, 2002, the trial court rendered its decision[100]
with the finding that Robert Michael Alvir, Danilo Feliciano, Jr.,
Christopher Soliva, Julius Victor Medalla, and Warren Zingapan
were guilty beyond reasonable doubt of murder and attempted
murderandweresentencedto,amongotherpenalties,thepenaltyof
reclusion perpetua.[101] The trial court, however, acquitted
Reynaldo Ablanida, Carlo Jolette Fajardo, Gilbert Magpantay,
George Morano, and Raymund Narag.[102] The case against
Benedict Guerrero was ordered archived by the court until his
apprehension.[103]
The trial court, in evaluating the voluminous evidence at hand,
concludedthat:

Afterajudiciousevaluationofthematter,theCourtisoftheconsidered
view that of the ten accused, some were sufficiently identified and some
werenot.TheCourtbelievesthatoutoftheamorphousimagesduring

_______________
[98]TSN,November23,1998.
[99]TSN,May12,1999.
[100]PennedbytheHon.JoseCatralMendoza,nowanAssociateJusticeofthisCourt(CA
Rollo,pp.576644).
[101]RTCDecision,pp.8183.
[102]Id.,atpp.8283.
[103]Id.,atp.83.

168

168 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

the pandemonium, the beleaguered victims were able to espy and identify
some of the attackers etching an indelible impression in their memory. In
this regard, the prosecution eyewitnesses were emphatic that they saw the
attackersrushtowardsthemwieldingdeadlyweaponslikebaseballbats,lead
pipes,piecesofwoodandbladedones,andpounceontheirhaplessvictims,
runafterthem,andbeingpresentwithoneanotheratthesceneofthecrime
during the assault. Although each victim had a very strong motive to place
his fraternity rivals permanently behind bars, not one of them testified
against all of them. If the prosecution eyewitnesses, who were all Sigma
Rhoans, were simply bent on convicting Scintilla Juris members for that
matter, they could have easily tagged each and every single accused as a
participantintheatrociousandbarbaricassaulttomakesurethatnooneelse
would escape conviction. Instead, each eyewitness named only one or two
andsomewerecandidenoughtosaythattheydidnotseewhodeliveredthe
blowsagainstthem.[104]


Becauseoneofthepenaltiesmetedoutwasreclusionperpetua,
the case was brought to this court on automatic appeal. However,
due to the amendment of the Rules on Appeal,[105] the case was
remandedtotheCourtofAppeals.[106]IntheCourtofAppeals,the
casehadtobereraffledseveraltimes[107]beforeitwaseventually
assignedtoPresidingJusticeAndresB.Reyes,Jr.forthewritingof
thedecision.

_______________
[104]Id.,atpp.4849.
[105] Per People v. Mateo, G.R. Nos. 14767887, July 7, 2004, 433 SCRA 640,
whichmodifiedtherulesondirectappealtotheSupremeCourt.
[106]PerresolutionofthisCourtdatedApril13,2005,CARollo,p.297.
[107]Justice Romeo F. Barza voluntarily inhibited due to membership in Sigma
Rho Fraternity. Justices Celia C. LibreaLeagogo and Isaias P. Dicdican also
voluntarilyinhibited,butthereasonwasnotshownintherecords.

169

VOL.724,MAY5,2014 169
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

OnDecember26,2010,theCourtofAppeals,inaSpecialFirst
Division of Five, affirmed[108] the decision of the Regional Trial
Court, with three (3) members concurring[109] and one (1)
dissenting.[110]
The decision of the Court of Appeals was then brought to this
courtforreview.
Theissuebeforethiscourtiswhethertheprosecutionwasableto
prove beyond reasonable doubt that accusedappellants attacked
privatecomplainantsandcausedthedeathofDennisVenturina.
On the basis, however, of the arguments presented to this court
bybothparties,theissuemaybefurtherrefined,thus:
1. Whether accusedappellants constitutional rights were
violated when the information against them contained the
aggravatingcircumstanceoftheuseofmasksdespitetheprosecution
presentingwitnessestoprovethatthemasksfelloffand
2.WhethertheRegionalTrialCourtandtheCourtofAppeals
correctlyruled,onthebasisoftheevidence,thataccusedappellants
weresufficientlyidentified.

I
Aninformationissufficientwhen
theaccusedisfullyapprisedof
thechargeagainsthimtoenable
himtopreparehisdefense

Itistheargumentofappellantsthattheinformationfiledagainst
themviolatestheirconstitutionalrighttobeinformed

_______________
[108]Rollo,pp.472CARollo,pp.14801551.
[109]JusticesAmelitaG.Tolentino,JoseC.Reyes,Jr.,andMariflorP.Punzalan
Castillo.
[110]JusticeStephenC.Cruz.

170
170 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

ofthenatureandcauseoftheaccusationagainstthem.Theyargue
that the prosecution should not have included the phrase wearing
masksand/orotherformsofdisguiseintheinformationsincethey
were presenting testimonial evidence that not all the accused were
wearingmasksorthattheirmasksfelloff.
ItisenshrinedinourBillofRightsthat[n]opersonshallbeheld
to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law.[111]
Thisincludestherightoftheaccusedtobepresumedinnocentuntil
proven guilty and to be informed of the nature and accusation
againsthim.[112]
Uponafindingofprobablecause,aninformationisfiledbythe
prosecutoragainsttheaccused,incompliancewiththedueprocess
ofthelaw.Rule110,Section1,paragraph1oftheRulesofCriminal
Procedureprovidesthat:

A complaint or information is sufficient if it states the name of the


accused the designation of the offense given by the statute the acts or
omissions complained of as constituting the offense the name of the
offended party the approximate date of the commission of the offense and
theplacewheretheoffensewascommitted.

InPeoplev.WilsonLabeo,[113]thiscourthasstatedthat:

The test of sufficiency of Information is whether it enables a person of


common understanding to know the charge against him, and the court to
renderjudgmentproperly.xxxThepurposeistoallowtheaccusedtofully
prepareforhisdefense,precludingsurprisesduringthetrial.[114]

_______________
[111]C ONST.,Art.III,Sec.14(1).
[112]C ONST.,Art.III,Sec.14(2).
[113]424Phil.482373SCRA461(2002)[PerJ.Carpio,ThirdDivision].
[114]Peoplev.WilsonLabeo,424Phil.482,497373SCRA461,473(2002)[PerJ.
Carpio,ThirdDivision],citingJumawanv.Eviota,

171

VOL.724,MAY5,2014 171
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

Contrarytotheargumentsoftheappellants,theinclusionofthe
phrase wearing masks and/or other forms of disguise in the
informationdoesnotviolatetheirconstitutionalrights.
It should be remembered that every aggravating circumstance
being alleged must be stated in the information. Failure to state an
aggravating circumstance, even if duly proven at trial, will not be
appreciated as such.[115] It was, therefore, incumbent on the
prosecutiontostatetheaggravatingcircumstanceofwearingmasks
and/orotherformsofdisguiseintheinformationinorderforallthe
evidence, introduced to that effect, to be admissible by the trial
court.
In criminal cases, disguise is an aggravating circumstance
because,likenighttime,itallowstheaccusedtoremainanonymous
andunidentifiableashecarriesouthiscrimes.
The introduction of the prosecution of testimonial evidence that
tendstoprovethattheaccusedweremaskedbutthemasksfelloff
does not prevent them from including disguise as an aggravating
circumstance.[116] What is important in alleging disguise as an
aggravatingcircumstanceisthattherewasaconcealmentofidentity
by the accused. The inclusion of disguise in the information was,
therefore, enough to sufficiently apprise the accused that in the
commissionoftheoffensetheywerebeingchargedwith,theytried
toconcealtheiridentity.
The introduction of evidence which shows that some of the
accusedwerenotwearingmasksisalsonotviolativeoftheirrightto
beinformedoftheiroffenses.

_______________
G.R.Nos.8551213,July28,1994,234SCRA524[PerJ.Mendoza,EnBanc].
[115]R ULESOFC RIMINALPROCEDURE,Rule110,Sec.8.
[116]SeePeoplev.SabanganCabato,243Phil.262160SCRA98(1988)[PerJ.
Cortes, Third Division] and People v. Veloso, 197 Phil. 846 112 SCRA 173 (1982)
[PerCuriam,EnBanc].

172

172 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

The information charges conspiracy among the accused.


Conspiracy presupposes that the act of one is the act of all.[117]
This would mean all the accused had been one in their plan to
conceal their identity even if there was evidence later on to prove
thatsomeofthemmightnothavedoneso.
In any case, the accused were being charged with the crime of
murder,frustratedmurder,andattemptedmurder.Allthatisneeded
fortheinformationtobesufficientisthattheelementsofthecrime
havebeenallegedandthattherearesufficientdetailsastothetime,
place,andpersonsinvolvedintheoffense.
II
Findingsofthetrialcourt,when
affirmedbytheappellatecourt,
areentitledtogreatweightand
credence
As a general rule, the findings of fact by the trial court, when
affirmedbytheappellatecourt,aregivengreatweightandcredence
onreview.TherationaleforthiswasexplainedinPeoplev.Daniel
Quijada,[118]asfollows:

Settledistherulethatthefactualfindingsofthetrialcourt,especiallyon
the credibility of witnesses, are accorded great weight and respect. For, the
trialcourthastheadvantageofobservingthewitnessesthroughthedifferent
indicatorsoftruthfulnessorfalsehood,suchastheangryflushofaninsisted
assertionorthesuddenpallorofadiscoveredlieorthetremulousmutterof
a reluctant answer or the forthright tone of a ready reply or the furtive
glance, the blush of conscious shame, the hesitation, the sincere or the
flippantorsneeringtone,

_______________
[117]Peoplev.HalilGambao,G.R.No.172707,October1,2013,706SCRA508[PerJ.
Perez,EnBanc].
[118]328Phil.505259SCRA191(1996)[PerJ.Davide,EnBanc].

173

VOL.724,MAY5,2014 173
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

theheat,thecalmness,theyawn,thesigh,thecandororlackofit,thescant
orfullrealizationofthesolemnityofanoath,thecarriageandmien.[119]

Thereare,ofcourse,recognizedexceptionstothisrule.InPeople
v.LeticiaLabarias,[120]thiscourtstatedthat:

Itis the policy of this Court to sustain the factual findings of the trial
courtonthereasonableassumptionthatitisinabetterpositiontoassessthe
evidence before it, particularly the testimonies of the witnesses, who reveal
much of themselves by their deportment on the stand. The exception that
makestheruleiswheresuchfindingsareclearlyarbitraryorerroneous
aswhentheyaretainted with bias or hostility orareso lacking in basis
as to suggest that they were reached without the careful study and
perceptiveness that should characterize a judicial decision.[121]
(Emphasissupplied)

In criminal cases, the exception gains even more importance


since the presumption is always in favor of innocence. It is only
upon proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt that a conviction is
sustained.
In this case, a total of eleven (11) witnesses for the prosecution
and fortytwo (42) witnesses for the defense were put on the stand
from1995to2001.Inaneightythree(83)page

_______________
[119]People v. Daniel Quijada,328 Phil. 505, 530531 259 SCRA 191, 212213
(1996)[PerJ.Davide,EnBanc],citingPeoplev.DeGuzman,G.R.No.76742,August
7,1990,188SCRA407[PerJ.Cruz,FirstDivision]Peoplev.DeLeon,315Phil.584
248SCRA609(1995)[PerJ.Davide,Jr.,FirstDivision]Peoplev.Delovino,317Phil.
741247SCRA637(1995)[PerJ.Davide,Jr.,FirstDivision]Creamerv.Bivert,214
MO 473, 474 (1908) M. Frances Mcnamara, 200 Famous Legal Quotations, p. 548
(1967).
[120] G.R. No. 87165, January 25, 1993, 217 SCRA 483 [Per J. Cruz, First
Division].
[121]Id.,atp.484.

174

174 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

decision,thetrialcourtacquittedsix(6)andconvictedfive(5)ofthe
accused.Onthebasisofthesenumbersalone,itcannotbesaidthat
thetrialcourtactedarbitrarilyorthatitsdecisionwassolackingin
basisthatitwasarrivedatwithoutajudiciousandexhaustivestudy
ofalltheevidencepresented.
Inasmuch, however, as the trial courts findings hold great
persuasivevalue,thereisalsonothingthatprecludesthiscourtfrom
coming to its own conclusions based on an independent review of
thefactsandtheevidenceonrecord.
Theaccusedweresufficiently
identifiedbythewitnessesforthe
prosecution
Thetrialcourt,inweighingalltheevidenceonhand,foundthe
testimoniesofthewitnessesfortheprosecutiontobecredible.Inits
decision,thetrialcourtstatedthat:

x x x. Although each victim had a very strong motive to place his


fraternity rivals permanently behind bars, not one testified against all of
them.Iftheprosecutioneyewitnesses,whowereallSigmaRhoans,were
simplybentonconvictingScintillaJurismembersforthatmatter,they
couldhaveeasilytaggedeachandeveryaccusedasaparticipantinthe
atrocious and barbaric assault to make sure no one would escape
conviction. Instead, each eyewitness named only one or two and some
werecandidenoughtosaythattheydidnotseewhodeliveredtheblows
againstthem.
Thus, the prosecution witnesses, Ernest Paulo Tan, Dennis Gaio and
DarwinAsuncion,testifiedtohaveseenitallbuttheycouldnot,anddidnot,
discloseanyname.Lachica,ontheotherhand,saidthathedidnothavethe
opportunity to see and identify the person who hit him in the back and
inflicted a twoinch cut. His forearm was also hit by a lead pipe but he did
not see who did it. Natalicio, one of the other three who were hospitalized,
was

175

VOL.724,MAY5,2014 175
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

severely beaten by three waves of attackers totalling more than 15 but he


could only name 3 of them. He added, however, that he would be able to
recognize those he saw if he would see them again. Of them, Mangrobang
pointed to at least 5 but he stressed that he did not see Zingapan, Soliva,
Guerrero, Del Rosario, Daraoay, Denoista, and Pealosa during the
onslaught. Gaston could have named any of the accused as the one who
repeatedly hit him with a heavy pipe and stabbed him but he frankly said
their faces were covered. Like Natalicio, Fortes was repeatedly beaten by
several groups but did not name any of the accused as one of those who
attackedhim.Thepersonsheidentifiedwerethoseleadingthepackwithone
of them as the assailant of Venturina, and the two others who he saw
standing while he was running away. He added that he saw some of the
accusedduringtheattackbutdidnotknowthentheirnames.[122](Emphasis
supplied)

Weagree.
The trial court correctly held that considering the swiftness of
the incident,[123] there would be slight inconsistencies in their
statements. In People v. Adriano Cabrillas,[124] it was previously
observedthat:

It is perfectly natural for different witnesses testifying on the


occurrence of a crime to give varying details as there may be some
detailswhichonewitnessmaynoticewhiletheothermaynotobserveor
remember.Infact,jurisprudenceevenwarnsagainstaperfectdovetailingof
narrationbydifferentwitnessesasitcouldmeanthattheirtestimonieswere
prefabricatedandrehearsed.[125](Emphasissupplied)

_______________
[122]RTCDecision,p.49.
[123]Id.,atp.57.
[124]G.R.No.175980,February15,2012,666SCRA174[PerJ.DelCastillo,First
Division].
[125]Id.,atp.191,citingPeoplev.Lacbayan,393Phil.800,807339SCRA396,
401(2000)[PerJ.YnaresSantiago,FirstDivision].

176

176 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

According to their testimonies, Lachica was able to identify


Alvir, Zingapan, and Medalla[126] Natalicio was able to identify
Medalla,Zingapan,andSoliva[127]andForteswasabletoidentify
Feliciano, Medalla, and Zingapan.[128] Their positive identification
was due to the fact that they either wore no masks or that their
masksfelloff.
It would be in line with human experience that a victim or an
eyewitness of a crime would endeavor to find ways to identify the
assailant so that in the event that he or she survives, the criminal
couldbeapprehended.Ithasalsobeenpreviouslyheldthat:

Itisthemostnaturalreactionforvictimsofcriminalviolencetostriveto
see the looks and faces of their assailants and observe the manner in which
the crime was committed. Most often the face of the assailant and body
movements thereof, creates a lasting impression which cannot be easily
erasedfromtheirmemory.[129]

In the commotion, it was more than likely that the masked


assailants could have lost their masks. It had been testified by the
victims that some of the assailants were wearing masks of either a
piece of cloth or a handkerchief and that Alvir,[130] Zingapan,[131]
Soliva,[132]andFeliciano[133]hadmasksonatfirstbuttheirmasks
fell off and hung around their necks. Equally telling was the
testimonyofdefensewitnessFrisco

_______________
[126]TSN,June5,1995,pp.1113.
[127]TSN,July3,1995,pp.2122.
[128]TSN,October30,1995,pp.91,112.
[129]Peoplev.OpiniadoDolar,G.R.No.100805,March24,1994,231SCRA414,
423[PerJ.Puno,SecondDivision],citingPeoplev.Sartagoda,G.R.No.97525,April
7,1993,221SCRA251,257[PerJ.Campos,Jr.,SecondDivision].
[130]TSN,June21,1995,p.33.
[131]TSN,July5,1995,p.24.
[132]Id.,atpp.4852.
[133]TSN,September28,1995,p.24.

177

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Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

Capilo during crossexamination who observed that some of the


attackerswerewearingmasksandsomewerenot,thus:
QMr.Capilo,doyouknowthisScintillaJurisFraternity?
ANo,sir.
QDuringtheincidentofDecember8,1994,therewerealotofpeopleeatinginthe
BeachHouseCanteen,andthenrunningtowardsdifferentdirections,isitnot?
AYes,sir.
QAndsomepeoplewerewearingmasksandsomewerenot?
AYes,sir.[134]


While the attack was swift and sudden, the victims would have
had the presence of mind to take a look at their assailants if they
were identifiable. Their positive identification, in the absence of
evidencetothecontrary,mustbeupheldtobecredible.
IthasbeenarguedthatthetrialcourtdidnotgiveMangrobangs
testimony credence while Gastons testimony was found to be
hazy.Thisargumentisunmeritorious.
Itshouldbenotedthatitwasthetrialcourtitselfthatstatedthat
the acquittal of the Scintilla Juris members identified by
Mangrobang should not be. misinterpreted to mean that the
testimony of Mangrobang was an absolute fabrication.[135] The
court went on to state that they were exonerated merely because
theywereaccordedthebenefitofthedoubtastheiridentificationby
Mangrobang,undertumultuousandchaoticcircumstanceswere[sic]
not corroborated and their alibis, not refuted.[136] There was,
therefore,nobasistosay

_______________
[134]TSN,December4,1995,p.47SeealsoRTCDecision,p.51.
[135]RTCDecision,p.64.
[136]Id.

178

178 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

that Mangrobang was not credible it was only that the evidence
presented was not strong enough to overcome the presumption of
innocence.
Gastons testimony, on the other hand, was considered
hazy[137]bythetrialcourtonlywithregardtohisidentificationof
Zingapans companion. Gaston testified that he saw Zingapan with
Morano, with Zingapan moving and Morano staying in place.
Fortes, however, testified that both Zingapan and Morano were
running after him. Lachica also testified that it was Medalla, not
Morano, who was with Zingapan. Because of this confusion, the
trial court found that there was doubt as to who was really beside
Zingapan. The uncertainty resulted into an acquittal for Morano.
Despitethis,thecourtstilldidnotimputedoubtintheirtestimonies
thatZingapanwaspresentatthescene.
Be that as it may, the acquittals made by the trial court further
prove that its decision was brought about only upon a thorough
examination of the evidence presented. It accepted that there were
inconsistenciesinthetestimoniesofthevictimsbutthatthesewere
minor and did not affect their credibility. It ruled that [s]uch
inconsistencies,andevenprobabilities,arenotunusualforthereis
nopersonwithperfectfacultiesorsenses.[138]
Evidenceaspartoftheresgestae
maybeadmissiblebuthavelittle
persuasivevalueinthiscase
AccordingtothetestimonyofU.P.PoliceOfficerSalvador,[139]
whenhearrivedatthescene,heinterviewedthebystanderswhoall
toldhimthattheycouldnotrecognizethe

_______________
[137]Id.,atp.65.
[138]Id.,atp.58.
[139]TSN,November20,1995,p.20.

179

VOL.724,MAY5,2014 179
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

attackers since they were all masked. This, it is argued, could be


evidencethatcouldbegivenaspartoftheresgestae.
As a general rule, [a] witness can testify only to the facts he
knowsofhispersonalknowledgethatis,whicharederivedfromhis
ownperception,xxx.[140]Allotherkindsoftestimonyarehearsay
and are inadmissible as evidence. The Rules of Court, however,
provide several exceptions to the general rule, and one of which is
whentheevidenceispartofresgestae,thus:

Section42.Partofresgestae.Statements made by a person while a


startingoccurrenceistakingplaceorimmediatelypriororsubsequentthereto
with respect to the circumstances thereof, may be given in evidence as part
ofresgestae.So,also,statementsaccompanyinganequivocalactmaterialto
the issue, and giving it a legal significance, may be received as part of the
resgestae.[141]

In People v. Rodrigo Salafranca,[142] this court has previously


discussedtheadmissibilityoftestimonytakenaspartofres gestae,
statingthat:

Adeclarationoranutteranceisdeemedaspartoftheresgestaeandthus
admissible in evidence as an exception to the hearsay rule when the
followingrequisitesconcur,towit:(a)theprincipalact,theresgestae,isa
startling occurrence (b) the statements are made before the declarant had
time to contrive or devise and (c) the statements must concern the
occurrenceinquestionanditsimmediatelyattendingcircumstances.

xxxx

_______________
[140]RULESOFCIVILPROCEDURE,Rule130,Sec.36.
[141]RULESOFCIVILPROCEDURE,Rule130(C)(6),Sec.42.
[142] G.R. No. 173476, February 22, 2012, 666 SCRA 501 [Per J. Bersamin, First
Division].

180

180 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

Thetermresgestaehasbeendefinedasthosecircumstanceswhichare
theundesignedincidentsofaparticularlitigatedactandwhichareadmissible
when illustrative of such act. In a general way, res gestae refers to the
circumstances, facts, and declarations that grow out of the main fact and
servetoillustrateitscharacterandaresospontaneousandcontemporaneous
withthemainfactastoexcludetheideaofdeliberationandfabrication.The
rule on res gestae encompasses the exclamations and statements made by
eithertheparticipants,victims,or spectators to a crime immediately before,
during, or immediately after the commission of the crime when the
circumstances are such that the statements were made as a spontaneous
reactionorutteranceinspiredbytheexcitementoftheoccasionandtherewas
no opportunity for the declarant to deliberate and to fabricate a false
statement.Thetestofadmissibilityofevidenceasapartoftheresgestaeis,
therefore, whether the act, declaration, or exclamation is so intimately
interwovenorconnectedwiththeprincipalfactoreventthatitcharacterizes
as to be regarded as a part of the transaction itself, and also whether it
clearly negatives any premeditation or purpose to manufacture testimony.
[143]


There is no doubt that a sudden attack on a group peacefully
eatinglunchonaschoolcampusisastartlingoccur

_______________
[143]Peoplev.RodrigoSalafranca,G.R.No.173476,February22,2012,666SCRA
501, 512514 [Per J. Bersamin, First Division], citing People v. Peralta, G.R. No.
94570,September28,1994,237SCRA218,224[PerJ.Cruz,FirstDivision]Peoplev.
Maguikay,G.R.Nos.10322628,October14,1994,237SCRA587,600[PerJ. Puno,
SecondDivision]AlhambraBldg.&LoanAssnv.DeCelle,118P.2d19,47C.A.2d
409ReillyTar&ChemicalCorp.v.Lewis,61N.E.2d297,326Ill.App.117Kaikov.
Dolinger,440A.2d198,184Conn.509SouthernSuretyCo.v.Weaver,Com.App.,273
S.W.838Peoplev.Sanchez,G.R.No.74740,August28,1992,213SCRA70,79[Per
J.Davide,Jr.,ThirdDivision]Molloyv.ChicagoRapidTransitCo.,166N.E.530,335
Ill.164Campbellv.Gladden,118A.2d133,383Pa.144,53A.L.R.2d1222.

181

VOL.724,MAY5,2014 181
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

rence.Consideringthatthestatementsofthebystandersweremade
immediately after the startling occurrence, they are, in fact,
admissibleasevidencegiveninresgestae.
InPeoplev.Albarido,[144]however,thiscourthasstatedthatin
accordtoordinaryhumanexperience:

x x x persons who witness an event perceive the same from their


respective points of reference. Therefore, almost always, they have
different accounts of how it happened. Certainly, we cannot expect the
testimony of witnesses to a crime to be consistent in all aspects because
different persons have different impressions and recollections of the same
incident.xxx[145](Emphasissupplied)


The statements made by the bystanders, although admissible,
havelittlepersuasivevaluesincethebystanderscouldhaveseenthe
eventstranspiringatdifferentvantagepointsandatdifferentpoints
intime.EvenFriscoCapilo,oneofthebystandersatthetimeofthe
attack,testifiedthattheattackershadtheirmasksonatfirst,butlater
on,someremainedmaskedandsomewereunmasked.
When the bystanders testimonies are weighed against those of
the victims who witnessed the entirety of the incident from
beginning to end at close range, the former become merely
corroborativeofthefactthatanattackoccurred.Theiraccountofthe
incident,therefore,mustbegivenconsiderablylessweightthanthat
ofthevictims.

_______________
[144] 420 Phil. 235 368 SCRA 194 (2001) [Per J. SandovalGutierrez, Third
Division].
[145]Id.,atp.245pp.202203,citingPeoplev.Real,367Phil.524308SCRA244
(1999)[PerJ.Pardo,FirstDivision].Thisstatementwasusedinordertojustifythat
minorinconsistenciesdonotaffectthewitnessescredibilitysolongastheyconcuron
thematerialaspectsoftheincident.

182

182 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.
Thebelatedidentificationbythe
victimsdonotdetractfromtheir
positiveidentificationoftheap
pellants
Itis argued that the fact that the victims stayed silent about the
incident to the U.P. Police or the Quezon City Police but instead
executed affidavits with the National Bureau of Investigation four
(4) days after the incident gives doubt as to the credibility of their
testimonies.
U.P. Police Officer Romeo Cabrera[146] testified that on their
way to the U.P. Infirmary, he interviewed the victims who all told
him they could not recognize the attackers because they were all
wearing masks. Meanwhile, Dr. Mislang[147] testified to the effect
that when she asked Natalicio who attacked them, Natalicio
answeredthathedidnotknowbecausetheyweremasked.
It must be remembered that the parties involved in this case
belongtorivalfraternities.Whilethiscourtdoesnotcondonetheir
archaic and oftentimes barbaric traditions, it is conceded that there
arecertainpracticesthatareuniquetofraternalorganizations.
It is quite possible that at this point in time, they knew the
identitiesoftheirattackersbutchosenottodiscloseitwithoutfirst
conferring with their other fraternity brothers. This probability is
bolstered by the actions of Sigma Rho after the incident, which
showed that they confronted the members of Scintilla Juris in SM
North. Because of the tenuous relationship of rival fraternities, it
wouldnothavebeenprudentforSigmaRhotoretaliateagainstthe
wrongfraternity.
Their act of not disclosing the correct information to the U.P.
Police or to Dr. Mislang does not make the police officer or the
doctorstestimoniesmorecrediblethanthatofthe

_______________
[146]TSN,November13,1995,pp.3738.
[147]TSN,September16,1998,p.20.

183

VOL.724,MAY5,2014 183
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

victims.Itshouldnotbeforgottenthatthevictimsactuallywitnessed
theentireincident,whileOfficerSalvador,OfficerCabrera,andDr.
Mislangweremerelyrelayingsecondhandinformation.
The fact that they went to the National Bureau of Investigation
four(4)daysaftertheincidentalsodoesnotaffecttheircredibility
since most of them had been hospitalized from their injuries and
neededtorecoverfirst.Sinceafraternitymovesasoneunit,itwould
be understandable that they decided to wait until all of them were
well enough to go to the National Bureau of Investigation
headquartersinordertogivetheirstatements.
Seniority is also often the norm in fraternities. It was upon the
advice of their senior brods and their legal counsel that they
executed their sworn statements before the National Bureau of
Investigationfour(4)daysaftertheincident.
The decision to report the incident to the National Bureau of
InvestigationinsteadoftotheU.P.Policewasthecalloftheirlegal
counsel who might have deemed the National Bureau of
Investigationmoreequipped to handle the investigation. This does
not,however,affectthecredibilityofthewitnessessincetheywere
merelyfollowingthelegaladviceoftheircounsel.
Indeed, there is reason to believe that the National Bureau of
Investigation is better equipped than the U.P. Police to handle the
investigationofthecase.AsstatedintheU.P.CollegeofEconomics
website:

The UP Diliman Police (UPDP) is tasked with maintaining campus


security.TheirstationislocatedinfrontoftheCollegeofArchitecture.
The primary missions of the UPDP are to maintain peace and order, secure
and protect lives and property, enforce basic laws, applicable Quezon City
Ordinances, and University Rules and Regulations including policies and
standardsandtoperformsuchotherfunctionsrelative

184

184 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

tothegeneralsafetyandsecurityofthestudents,employees,andresidentsin
theU.P.DilimanCampus.xxx.[148](Emphasissupplied)

ItcanbeseenthattheU.P.PoliceisemployedbyU.P.primarily
for campus security. They are by no means an actual police force
that is equipped to handle a fullblown murder investigation.
Fraternityrelated violence in U.P. has also increasingly become
more frequent, which might possibly have desensitized the U.P.
Police in such a way that would prevent their objectivity in the
conductoftheirinvestigations.ThevictimsrelianceontheNational
BureauofInvestigation,therefore,isunderstandable.

III
Alibicannotprevailovertheposi
tiveidentificationofthevictim
It is settled that the defense of alibi cannot prevail over the
positive identification of the victim.[149] In People v. Benjamin
Peteluna,[150]thiscourtisstatedthat:
It is a timehonored principle that the positive identification of
theappellantbyawitnessdestroysthedefenseofalibi and denial.
Thus:
x x x. It is wellentrenched that alibi and
denialareinherentlyweakandhavealwaysbeen
viewed with disfavor by the courts due to the
facilitywithwhichtheycanbeconcocted.They
warranttheleastcredibility

_______________
[148]UPDilimanPolice,<http://www.econ.upd.edu.ph/updiliman
police/>(visitedMarch4,2014).
[149]Peoplev.BenjaminPeteluna,G.R.No.187048,January23,2013,689SCRA
190,197[PerJ.Perez,SecondDivision].
[150] G.R. No. 187048, January 23, 2013, 689 SCRA 190 [Per J. Perez, Second
Division].

185

VOL.724,MAY5,2014 185
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

or none at all and cannot prevail over the


positive identification of the appellant by the
prosecutionwitnesses.Foralibi to prosper, it is
not enough to prove that appellant was
somewhereelsewhenthecrimewascommitted
he must also demonstrate that it was physically
impossibleforhimtohavebeenatthesceneof
the crime at the time of its commission. Unless
substantiated by clear and convincing proof,
such defense is negative, selfserving, and
undeserving of any weight in law. Denial, like
alibi, as an exonerating justification[,] is
inherentlyweakandifuncorroboratedregresses
to blatant impotence. Like alibi, it also
constitutesselfservingnegativeevidencewhich
cannot be accorded greater evidentiary weight
than the declaration of credible witnesses who
testifyonaffirmativematters.[151]
In this case, the victims were able to positively identify their
attackers while the accusedappellants merely offered alibis and
denialsastheirdefense.Thecredibilityofthevictimswasupheldby
both the trial court and the appellate court while giving little
credencetotheaccusedappellantsalibis.Thereis,thus,noreason
todisturbtheirfindings.
Accusedappellantswerecorrectly
chargedwithmurder,andthere
wastreacheryinthecommission
ofthecrime

_______________
[151]Id.,atp.197,citingPeoplev.Barde,G.R.No.183094,September22,2010,
631SCRA187,211[PerJ.Perez,FirstDivision]Peoplev.Estepano,367Phil.209,
217218307SCRA701,708709(1999)[PerJ.Bellosillo,SecondDivision]People
v.Berdin,462Phil.290,304416SCRA582,593(2003)[PerJ.SandovalGutierrez,
EnBanc]Peoplev.Francisco,397Phil.973,985344SCRA110,120121(2000)[Per
CJ.Davide,Jr.,EnBanc].

186

186 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

AccordingtotheprovisionsofArticle248oftheRevisedPenal
Code, the accusedappellants were correctly charged with murder.
Article248states:

ART.248.Murder.Anypersonwho,notfallingwithintheprovisions
of Article 246, shall kill another, shall be guilty of murder and shall be
punished by reclusion perpetua, to death if committed with any of the
followingattendantcircumstances:
1.Withtreachery,takingadvantageofsuperiorstrength,withthe
aidofarmedmen,oremployingmeanstoweakenthedefense,or
ofmeansorpersonstoinsureoraffordimpunity
xxxx


ItisundisputedthatonDecember8,1994,agroupofmenarmed
withleadpipesandbaseballbatsattackedDennisVenturinaandhis
companions,whichresultedinVenturinasdeath.
Ascorrectlyfoundbythetrialcourtandtheappellatecourt,the
offense committed against Dennis Venturina was committed by a
groupthattookadvantageofitssuperiorstrengthandwiththeaidof
armedmen.Theappellatecourt,however,incorrectlyruledoutthe
presenceoftreacheryinthecommissionoftheoffense.
Ithasbeenstatedpreviouslybythiscourtthat:

[T]reachery is present when the offender commits any of the crimes


against persons, employing means, methods, or forms in the execution,
whichtenddirectlyandspeciallytoinsureitsexecution,withoutrisktothe
offenderarisingfromthedefensewhichtheoffendedpartymightmake.[152]

_______________
[152]Peoplev.GaryVergara,G.R.No.177763,July3,2013,700SCRA412,423
[PerJ.DeCastro,FirstDivision],citingPeoplev.
187

VOL.724,MAY5,2014 187
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

Similarly, in People v. Leozar Dela Cruz,[153] this court stated


that:

There is treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against
persons, employing means, methods, or forms in the execution, which tend
directly and specially to insure its execution, without risk to the offender
arisingfromthedefensewhichtheoffendedpartymightmake.Theessence
oftreacheryisthattheattackcomeswithoutawarningandinaswift,
deliberate, and unexpected manner, affording the hapless, unarmed,
andunsuspectingvictimnochancetoresistorescape.Fortreacherytobe
considered, two elements must concur: (1) the employment of means of
execution that gives the persons attacked no opportunity to defend
themselves or retaliate and (2) the means of execution were deliberately or
consciouslyadopted.[154](Emphasissupplied)

The appellate court, in affirming the conviction of the accused


appellants,ruledthatcontrarytothefindingsofthetrialcourt,there
wasnotreacheryinvolved.Inparticular,theyruledthatalthoughthe
attackwassuddenandunexpected,[i]twasdoneinbroaddaylight
withalotofpeoplewhocouldseethem[155]andthattherewasa
possibilityfor

_______________
Laurio, G.R. No. 182523, September 13, 2012, 680 SCRA 560, 571572 [Per J.
LeonardoDeCastro,FirstDivision].
[153]G.R. No. 188353, February 16, 2010, 612 SCRA 738 [Per J. Velasco, Third
Division].
[154]Peoplev.LeozarDelaCruz,G.R.No.188353,February16,2010,612SCRA
738,747[PerJ.Velasco,ThirdDivision],citingPeoplev.Amazan,402Phil.247,270
349 SCRA 218, 233 (2001) [Per J. Mendoza, Second Division] People v. Bato, 401
Phil. 415, 431 348 SCRA 253, 260 (2000) [Per J. Pardo, First Division] People v.
Albarido,420Phil.235,252368SCRA194,208(2001)[PerJ. SandovalGutierrez,
ThirdDivision],citingPeople v. Francisco,389 Phil. 243, 266 333 SCRA 725, 746
(2000)[PerJ.Kapunan,FirstDivision].
[155]CADecision,p.59.

188

188 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

the victims to have fought back or that the people in the canteen
couldhavehelpedthevictims.[156]
Thisreasoningisclearlyerroneous.Thevictimsinthiscasewere
eatinglunchoncampus.Theywerenotataplacewheretheywould
bereasonablyexpectedtobeonguardforanysuddenattackbyrival
fraternitymen.
The victims, who were unarmed, were also attacked with lead
pipes and baseball bats. The only way they could parry the blows
was with their arms. In a situation where they were unarmed and
outnumbered,itwouldbeimpossibleforthemtofightbackagainst
theattackers.Theattackalsohappenedinlessthanaminute,which
wouldprecludeanypossibilityofthebystandersbeingabletohelp
themuntilaftertheincident.
The swiftness and the suddenness of the attack gave no
opportunityforthevictimstoretaliateoreventodefendthemselves.
Treachery,therefore,waspresentinthiscase.
Thepresenceofconspiracymakes
alloftheaccusedappellantsliable
formurderandattemptedmurder
In the decision of the trial court, all of the accusedappellants
were found guilty of the murder of Dennis Venturina and the
attempted murder of Mervin Natalicio, Cesar Mangrobang, Jr.,
Leandro Lachica, Arnel Fortes, and Cristobal Gaston, Jr. The
appellatecourt,however,modifiedtheirliabilitiesandfoundthatthe
accusedappellants were guilty of attempted murder only against
Natalicio and Fortes, and not against Mangrobang, Lachica, and
Gaston.
It is the appellate courts reasoning that because Lachica and
Mangrobang were no longer chased by the attackers,[157] it
concludedthataccusedappellantsvoluntarydesistedfrom

_______________
[156]Id.
[157]CADecision,p.61.

189

VOL.724,MAY5,2014 189
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

pursuing themandfrom inflicting harm to them, which showsthat


they did not have the intent to do more than to make them suffer
pain by slightly injuring them.[158] It also pointed out that the
woundinflictedonGastonwastooshallowtohavebeendonewith
anintenttokill.[159]Thus,itconcludedthattheaccusedappellants
wouldhavebeenguiltyonlyofslightphysicalinjuries.
Thisiserroneous.
Itshouldberememberedthatthetrialcourtfoundthattherewas
conspiracy among the accusedappellants[160] and the appellate
court sustained this finding.[161] Conspiracy, once proven, has the
effect of attaching liability to all ofthe accused, regardless of their
degreeofparticipation,thus:

Once an express or implied conspiracy is proved, all of the


conspirators are liable as coprincipals regardless of the extent and
character of their respective active participation in the commission of
the crime or crimes perpetrated in furtherance of the conspiracy
because in contemplation of law the act of one is the act of all. The
foregoing rule is anchored on the sound principle that when two or more
persons unite to accomplish a criminal object, whether through the physical
volition of one, or all, proceeding severally or collectively, each individual
whoseevilwillactivelycontributestothewrongdoingisinlawresponsible
forthewhole,thesameasthoughperformedbyhimselfalone.Althoughit
isaxiomaticthatnooneisliableforactsotherthanhisown,whentwoor
morepersonsagreeorconspiretocommitacrime,eachisresponsibleforall
the acts of the others, done in furtherance of the agreement or conspiracy.
The

_______________
[158]Id.
[159]Id.
[160]SeeRTCDecision,pp.7879.
[161]SeeCADecision,pp.2223.

190

190 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

imposition of collective liability upon the conspirators is clearly


explainedinonecasewherethisCourtheldthat
...itisimpossibletograduatetheseparateliability
ofeach(conspirator)withouttakingintoconsideration
thecloseandinseparablerelationofeachofthemwith
thecriminalact,forthecommissionofwhichtheyall
acted by common agreement ... The crime must
thereforeinviewofthesolidarityoftheactandintent
which existed between the ... accused, be regarded as
theactofthebandorpartycreatedbythem,andthey
areallequallyresponsible.
Verily, the moment it is established that the malefactors conspired
and confederated in the commission of the felony proved, collective
liability of the accused conspirators attaches by reason of the
conspiracy, and the court shall not speculate nor even investigate as to
theactualdegreeofparticipationofeachoftheperpetratorspresentat
thesceneofthecrime.xxx.[162](Emphasissupplied)

Theliabilitiesoftheaccusedappellantsinthiscasearosefroma
single incident wherein the accusedappellants were armed with
baseball bats and lead pipes, all in agreement to do the highest
amount of damage possible to the victims. Some were able to run
awayandtakecover,buttheotherswouldfallpreyatthehandsof
theirattackers.Theintenttokillwasalreadypresentatthemoment
ofattackandthatintentwassharedbyalloftheaccusedappellants
alikewhen

_______________
[162]Peoplev.Peralta,etal.,134Phil.70325SCRA759(1968)[PerCuriam,En
Banc],citingU.S.v.Ramos,2Phil.434(1903)[PerJ.Willard,EnBanc]U.S.v.Maza,
5Phil.346(1905)[PerJ.Johnson,EnBanc]U.S.v.GrantandKennedy,18Phil.122
(1910) [Per J. Trent, En Banc] U.S. v. Ipil, 27 Phil. 530 (1914) [Per J. Johnson, En
Banc]U.S.v.Synder,3McCrary,377Peoplev.Bannaisan,49Phil.423(1926)[PerJ.
VillaReal,EnBanc]U.S.v.Bundal,etal.,3Phil.89(1903)[PerJ.Torres,EnBanc].

191

VOL.724,MAY5,2014 191
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

thepresenceofconspiracywasproven.Itis,therefore,immaterialto
distinguish between the seriousness of the injuries suffered by the
victimstodeterminetherespectiveliabilitiesoftheirattackers.What
isrelevantisonlyastowhetherthedeathoccursasaresultofthat
intent to kill and whether there are qualifying, aggravating or
mitigatingcircumstancesthatcanbeappreciated.
The appellate court, therefore, erred in finding the accused
appellants guilty only of slight physical injuries. It would be
illogicaltopresumethatdespitetheswiftnessandsuddennessofthe
attack, the attackers intended to kill only Venturina, Natalicio, and
Fortes, and only intended to injure Lachica, Mangrobang, and
Gaston. Since the intent to kill was evident from the moment the
accusedappellantstooktheirfirstswing,allofthemwereliablefor
thatintenttokill.
For this reason, the accusedappellants should be liable for the
murder of Dennis Venturina and the attempted murder of Mervin
Natalicio, Cesar Mangrobang, Jr., Leandro Lachica, Arnel Fortes,
andCristobalGaston,Jr.
AFinalNote
It is not only the loss of one promising young life rather, it is
alsotheeffectonthefiveotherliveswhoseoncebrightfuturesare
nowputinjeopardybecauseofonesenselessactofbravado.There
isnowmorehonorforthemtoaccepttheirresponsibilityandserve
the consequences of their actions. There is, however, nothing that
theycandotobringbackDennisVenturinaorfullycompensatefor
hissenselessandpainfulloss.
Thisisnotthefirstfraternityrelatedcasetocometothiscourt
neither will it be the last. Perhaps this case and many cases like it
can empower those who have a better view of masculinity: one
which valorizes courage, sacrifice and honor in more lifesaving
pursuits.

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192 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

GitingatdangalarewordsoftheanthemoftheUniversityof
thePhilippines.Itcolorsthestoriesofmanywhochoosetoexpend
theirenergyinorderthatourpeoplewillhavebetterlives.Fraternity
rumbles are an anathema, an immature and useless expenditure of
testosterone.Itfostersaculturethatretardsmanhood.Itisdevoidof
gitingatdangal.
Thiskindofshamefulviolencemuststop.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals in C.A.
G.R. CR No. 01158 dated November 26, 2010 is AFFIRMED
insofarastheaccusedappellantsDaniloFeliciano,Jr.,JuliusVictor
Medalla, Christopher Soliva, Warren L. Zingapan, and Robert
MichaelBeltranAlvirarefoundGUILTYbeyondreasonabledoubt
of Murder in Criminal Case No. Q9561133 with the
MODIFICATIONthattheybefoundGUILTYbeyondreasonable
doubtofAttemptedMurderinCriminalCaseNos.Q9561136,Q95
61135,Q9561134,Q9561138,andQ9561137.
SOORDERED.

Sereno**(CJ.)andDelCastillo,***JJ.,concur.
Peralta,J.,****IjointhedissentofJ.Abad.
Abad,J.,SeeDissentingOpinion.

_______________
**ChiefJusticeMariaLourdesP.A.Serenowasdesignatedasactingmemberof
theThirdDivision,viceAssociateJusticePresbiteroJ.Velasco,Jr.,perRaffledated
February1,2012.
***AssociateJusticeMarianoC.DelCastillowasdesignatedasactingmember
of the Third Division, vice Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza who penned the
lowercourtdecision,perRaffledatedApril29,2014.
****AssociateJusticeDiosdadoM.PeraltawasdesignatedasActingChairperson
oftheThirdDivision,viceAssociateJusticePresbiteroJ.Velasco,Jr.recusedhimself
duetocloserelationtooneoftheparties.

193
VOL.724,MAY5,2014 193
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

DISSENTINGOPINION
ABAD,J.:
IstronglydissentfromthemajorityDecision.
The incident in this case was an offshoot of a campus war
between members of two fraternities at the University of the
Philippines(UP)whereonegroup,allegedlymasked,surprisedand
beatuptheother,resultingininjuriestosomeanddeathtoone.
Allegingconspiracy,theCityProsecutorofQuezonCityfiledan
informationformurder,twoinformationsforfrustratedmurder,and
three informations for attempted murder against 12 accused,
belongingtotheScintillaJurisFraternity,beforetheRegionalTrial
Court (RTC) of Quezon City in Criminal Cases Q9561133 to 38
with no bail recommended. Only 11 of the accused were tried,
however,sinceaccusedBenedictGuerreroremainedatlarge.
TheFactsandCase
The evidence for the prosecution shows that seven Sigma Rho
FraternitymembersweretakinglunchattheBeachHouseCanteen
insidetheUPcampusinDiliman,QuezonCity,between12:30and
1:00 p.m. on December 8, 1994 when about 15 men, carrying
baseball bats or lead pipes, with some wearing masks, swooped
down upon them. SR Dennis Venturina shouted an alarm, Brods!
Brods!Hisbrodsscamperedawaybuttheattackersgottosomeof
them.(Toavoidconfusion,SRorSJisaffixedbeforethenamesof
thoseinvolvedtodistinguishmembersoftheSigmaRho Fraternity
frommembersoftheScintillaJurisFraternity.)
SRLeandroLachica,hisfraternitysGrandArchon,testifiedthat
theattackersallworeimprovisedmasksofclothortshirts.Fiveof
themwentafterSRLachica,hittinghimonthebackandforearmsas
heparriedtheblows.Inthecourseof

194

194 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

that attack, the mask of one of them, SJ Robert Michael Beltran


Alvir, with whom he was familiar, fell off. SR Lachica got away
fromthosewhowerebeatinghimbuthelookedbackwhilerunning
andsawSJWarrenZingapanandJuliusVictorMedalla,twoofthe
attackers,nolongerwearingmasks.Theattacklastedforabout30to
45seconds.[1]
SR Mervin Natalicio, a 4th year law student and ViceGrand
Archon of his fraternity, testified that while most of the attackers
runningtowardstheirgroupworemasks,oneofthem,SJMedalla,
worenone.Nataliciotriedtoscamperawaybuthetrippedonatree
root and fell. About 10 attackers, including SJ Zingapan and
ChristopherSolivawhoalsoworenomasks,bludgeonedhimonthe
back,arms,leftshoulder,hips,toes,andrighthand.[2]
AfterhisinitialattackersleftSRNatalicio,agroupoffourorfive
othersledbySJBenedictGuerrero,tookoverandbeathimup,too.
Athirdgroupcameandalsomauledhimontheleftsideofhisbody.
WhenNataliciowassohurthecouldnolongermove,somepeople
broughthimtotheUPInfirmarywheretheytreatedhisinjuries.[3]
SR Natalicio later went to the National Bureau of Investigation
(NBI), gave his statement, and submitted himself to medicolegal
examination.HesaidthatScintillaJurismembersattackedthemas
anoffshootofanAugust1994rumbledespiteasignedtruce.[4]
SRCesarMangrobangtestifiedthatafterSRVenturinasounded
thealarm,hesawagroupofmen,somewithclothmasks,approach
with lead pipes and clubs. As he received a blow on his back, he
tried to run but two masked men blocked his way and repeatedly
beathimup.Whentheirmasksfell

_______________
[1]TSN,June5,1995,pp.1114.
[2]TSN,July3,1995,pp.616.
[3]Id.,atpp.1719.
[4]Id.,atpp.2023.

195

VOL.724,MAY5,2014 195
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

off, the two turned out to be SJ Gilbert Magpantay and Carlo


Fajardo.[]
SRMangrobangsucceededinrunningawayuntilhereachedthe
corneroftheMainLibrary.Onglancingback,hesawnooneafter
him.Hethendecidedtoreturntothesceneofthecommotionwhere
hesawfromthreetofourmetersawaySJDaniloFeliciano,Jr.and
RaymundNaraghittingSRVenturinawithleadpipes.SJFelicianos
cloth mask had fallen off. SR Mangrobang also saw SJ Reynaldo
Ablanidawieldingaleadpipewhilerunning.[6]
SJ Narag and Feliciano were about to turn on SR Mangrobang
whensomebodyshouted,Pulis!Takbo!Takbo!promptingthetwo
to run in the direction of the Main Library. SR Mangrobang and
othershelpedcarrySRVenturinaintoapassengerjeepneytobring
himtotheInfirmary.[7]
SRCristobalGaston,Jr.testifiedthat,ofthemenwhocame,two
attackedhim:thefirstwithaleadpipe,hittinghimonthearmsand
handsashetriedtocoverhishead,whilethesecondstabbedhimon
the left chest and forearm. The two wore masks. SR Gaston got
awayandrantowardsPalmaHallbut,ashelookedback,hesawSJ
Zingapan,FelicianoandGeorgeMoranoatthescene.[8]SRGaston
went to confer with his fraternity brothers at the College of Law
building.Laterthatevening,theymetwiththeiralumnibrothers.[9]
SR Arnel Fortes testified that some of the men who attacked
themworemasksbutsomedidnot.HesawSJFeliciano,whomhe
recognizeddespiteaclothmask,andSJMedallawhoworenone.SR
Fortes managed to run away but, as he looked back, he saw SJ
ZingapanandMorano,whoalsoworenomasks,runningafterhim.
Theyhithimontheback,

_______________
[5]TSN,September28,1995,pp.1419.
[6]Id.,atpp.2030.
[7]Id.,atpp.2834.
[8]TSN,October11,1995,pp.1738.
[9]Id.,atpp.4446.

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196 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

causinghimtofall.Hestoodupandtriedtorunagainbutagroupof
10menattackedhimforfivetoeightseconds,hittinghisheadfive
toseventimes.Theyalsohithimonthelegs.Hedidnotrecognize
anyofhisattackers.But,standingupagainafterthesecondattack,
SRFortessawSJFelicianobeatingupSRVenturina.SJFelicianos
maskfelloffintheprocess.[10]
Dr. Rolando Victoria described the injuries that SR Venturina
suffered.[11] Dr. Aurea Villena, on the other hand, testified on the
results of her medical examinations of SR Natalicio, Fortes,
Mangrobang, Lachica, and Gaston four days after the mauling
incident.[12]
Emmanuel Batungbakal testified that he saw a group of men
board three cars that had no plate numbers. The cars sped past the
back of the law library. SJ Feliciano was one of those on board.
Batungbakal did not, however, witness the reported incident that
followed.[13]
Ernesto Paolo Tan testified that he was at the Beach House
Canteen duringthe incident. Hesaw three separate groups of men,
someofwhomworemasks,attackSRNatalicio.Aftertheattackers
left,hehelpedNatalicioboardaservicevehicle.[14]
Dennis Gaio testified that he was having lunch outside the
canteenwhenthreeoftheattackerscamefromtheArtsandScience
Buildingfollowedby10morefromtheCollegeofLaw.Somewore
masks but the others did not. They attacked the group that was
having lunch, including SR Venturina. He tried to help the latter
after he had fallen but one of the attackers stopped him. Gaio had
twowomencompanionsbuthe

_______________
[10]TSN,October16,1995,pp.4263.
[11]TSN,July24,1995,pp.1124.
[12]TSN,July31,1995,pp.910.
[13]TSN,November6,1995,pp.3339,6162.
[14]TSN,September3,1996,pp.1617,2454.

197

VOL.724,MAY5,2014 197
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

told them to run towards the sunken garden when he sensed the
arrivalofthemaskedmen.[15]
The defense presented 42 witnesses. To prove its claim that the
identities of the attackers were unrecognizable because of their
masks,thedefensepresented,amongothers,BenitoLatoandFrisco
Capilo,bothutilityworkersatUPandsomestudentcustomersatthe
canteen. Lato recalled that he was collecting plates at the canteen
when the attackers came. But he was unable to recognize them
because they wore masks and he could see only their eyes.[16]
Capilo, on the other hand, testified that he was on his way to the
Main Library to work when several men, all wearing masks and
carrying lead pipes, rushed towards the canteen and attacked some
whowereeatingthere.[17]
Daniel Mabazza testified that he was on his way out of the
canteen when 15 men arrived from the South wing of the Main
Libraryandattackedsomecustomerswhowereeatingatthetables.
Hetestifiedfurtherthathewasabout3to5metersfromwhereSR
Venturinawasattackedbuthecouldnotidentifyanyoftheattackers
because they were all wearing masks and none of these fell off
duringtheattack.[18]
AlphaSigmaNu Sorority members, Eda Pangilinan, Luz Perez,
andBathalaniTiamsontestifiedthattheywereunabletoidentifythe
attackers because they all wore masks. Pangilinan and Tiamson
insistedthattheydidnotseeanyoftheattackersmasksfalloff.[19]
UP police officer Romeo Cabrera testified that he and fellow
officer,OscarSalvador,wereattheArtsandScienceBuildingwhen
theyrespondedtoreportsthatarumblewastakingplaceattheback
oftheMainLibrary.Onarrivalat

_______________
[15]TSN,April3,1997,pp.1022.
[16]TSN,November27,1995,pp.1012.
[17]TSN,December4,1995,p.13.
[18]TSN,September17,1997,pp.716.
[19]RTCDecision,p.37.

198

198 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

theBeachHouseCanteen,theysawthewoundedSRNataliciowith
some companions. They put him on board a jeepney and brought
himtotheUPInfirmarywithhiscompanions.Ontheway,Cabrera
asked SR Natalicio who attacked his group. He replied that he did
notrecognizeanyofthembecausetheyworemasks.Cabreraasked
SRNataliciothesamequestionafterhehadreceivedtreatment.SR
Natalicio gave the same answer. Cabrera could not interrogate SR
Venturinabecausethelattersufferedseriousinjuries.[20]
UP police officer Salvador testified that when he and Cabrera
respondedtoreportsofcommotion,theynoticedamaulingvictim,
SRNatalicio,surroundedbysomepeople.Salvadoraskedsomeof
the bystanders who the culprits were. They said they did not
recognizethemsincetheywerewearingmass.[21]
The police officers brought SR Natalicio and his three
companions to the Infirmary using the canteens jeepney. On the
way, Cabrera asked SR Natalicio and the others with him who
attacked them. They replied that they could not tell since the men
woremasks.SalvadorsawSRVenturinaandGastonbeingtreatedat
the Infirmary. After SR Natalicio was treated, Cabrera asked him
againifherecognizedthemenwhohithim.Nataliciorepliedthathe
did not because they wore masks. When asked how many hit him,
Nataliciosaidthathecouldnottellbecausehehadhisbackonthem.
[22]
SJ Feliciano testified that he was in Pampanga on December 8,
1994, visiting his grandfather whom he thought had undergone
surgery of the prostate gland.[23] His mother, Feliciana, and an
elementary school teacher, Rogelio Yumul, corroborated his
testimony.Yumultestifiedthathewasonhis

_______________
[20]TSN,November13,1995,pp.2253.
[21]TSN,November20,1995,pp.1522.
[22]Id.,atpp.2240.
[23]TSN,February17,1999,pp.89.

199
VOL.724,MAY5,2014 199
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

waytotheprincipalsofficeataroundnoonofDecember8whenhe
sawFelicianoseatedatawaitingshed.[24]
SJ Alvir testified that he had been ill since December 5.
Consequently, he neither reported for work nor went to UP on
December8.[25]
SJMedallatestifiedthatonthedayinquestionhewaswithhis
classmate Michael Vibas working on a school project. He claimed
that he could not have taken part in the rumble since he suffered
fromanAugust1994headinjurythataffectedhisbalance.[26]Jose
VictorSantostestifiedthatheandMedallaplayeddartsafterlunch
onDecember8andtheylaterwenttoJollibeesinceMedallahadto
treat him after losing the game.[27] Dr. Gerardo Legaspi
corroborated Medallas testimony regarding his previous head
injuries.[28]
SJ Soliva testified that he was having lunch with his girlfriend
andherladyfriendatJollibeePhilcoawhentheincidenttookplace.
TheyreturnedtoUPataround1:00p.m.Solivawentstraighttohis
tambayanwherehelearnedoftherumbleatthemainlibrary.[29]
AnnaCabahug,Solivasgirlfriend,corroboratedhistestimony.[30]
SJ Zingapan testified that he could not have taken part in the
incidentatUPsincehewasatthattimehavinglunchwithTeodoro
Canay in Kamuning, Quezon City. From there, he went to the SM
City mall at around 1:00 p.m. to buy an electric thermos as a
wedding gift for a town mate. He was on his way out of the mall
whenhechancedupontwoofhisbrods.[31]

_______________
[24]TSN,November12,1997,pp.710.
[25]TSN,February2,2000,pp.916.
[26]TSN,September22,1999,pp.421.
[27]TSN,August11,1999,pp.712.
[28]TSN,September15,1999,pp.1025.
[29]TSN,June16,1999,pp.1221.
[30]TSN,November23,1998,pp.527.
[31]TSN,May12,1999,pp.718.

200

200 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

The RTC absolved SJ Rodolfo Pealosa on a demurrer to


evidence since none of the prosecution witnesses testified that he
hadtakenpartintheattack.
OnFebruary28,2002theRTCrenderedjudgment[32]findingSJ
Alvir, Feliciano, Soliva, Medalla, and Zingapan guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of one count of murder and four counts of
attemptedmurder.Thecomigavecredencetothetestimoniesofthe
victimswhoidentifiedtheirattackers.Itthoughtlittleofthefailure
ofsomeofthevictimstonamethemwhenaskedbytheUPpolice
officersandthephysiciansattheInfirmary.Itdidnotagreethatthe
victims delayed identification of their attackers tainted their
testimonies. The RTC held that the accused conspired in the
commission of the crimes charged. But it acquitted SJ Ablanida,
Fajardo, Magpantay, Morano, and Narag for failure of the
prosecutiontoprovetheirguiltbeyondreasonabledoubt.
Onappeal,theCourtofAppeals(CA),SpecialFirstDivisionof
Five,[33]withoneJusticedissenting,affirmedtheRTCDecisionand
found SJ Alvir, Feliciano, Soliva, Medalla, and Zingapan guilty of
three counts of slight physical injuries in Criminal Cases Q95
61136,Q9561135,andQ9561134twocountsofattemptedmurder
in Criminal Cases Q9561138 and Q9561137 and one count of
murder in Criminal Case Q9561133. The CA imposed on the
accusedthepenaltiesthatcorrespondedtotheoffensesandordered
themtopayvariouscivilindemnitiestothevictimsor,inthecaseof
SRVenturina,tohisheirs.
The CA ruled that the witnesses positive identification of SJ
Alvir,Feliciano,Soliva,Medalla,andZingapanprevailed

_______________
[32]PennedbyHon.JoseCatralMendoza,nowamemberoftheCourt.
[33]ThecaseswerereraffledmanytimesafterseveralCourtofAppealsjustices
inhibitedthemselves,claimingcloserelationwithaparty,acounsel,orafraternity
involvedinthecase.See:CourtofAppealsDecision,pp.2627.

201

VOL.724,MAY5,2014 201
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

overthelattersdefensesandalibis.It regarded the inconsistencies


inthetestimoniesofthewitnessesastrivialanddidnottarnishtheir
credibility. The CA held that the delay in the identification of the
accused had been explained: SR Natalicio and Fortes needed
medical attention the others with them wanted to come together
whentheyfiledtheircomplaints.
The CA explained that it characterized the crimes charged in
Criminal Cases Q9561136, Q9561135, and Q9561134 as mere
slightphysicalinjuriessincetheintenttokillwasnotevident,given
that none of the accused chased them. SR Gaston, said the CA,
suffered only a lacerated wound near his breast, precluding an
attemptonhislife.
TheIssuePresented
ThecentralissueinthiscaseiswhetherornottheCAerred,like
the RTC, in not rejecting the victims identification of their
assailants as mere fabrications to go around the fact that the latter
woremasksandinthusnotabsolvingtheaccusedofthecharges.
In every criminal action, the prosecution has to establish the
identity of the offender, like the crime itself, by proof beyond
reasonabledoubt.Indeed,itsfirstdutyistoprovetheidentityofthe
offender for, even if the commission of the offense can be
established, no conviction can take place without proof of his
identitybeyondreasonabledoubt.[34]
True,alibiisaweakdefenseinthefaceofpositivetestimoniesof
prosecutionwitnessesthattheaccusedcommitted

_______________
[34]People v. Pineda,473 Phil. 517, 548 429 SCRA 478, 504 (2004) People v.
Esmale, 313 Phil. 471, 492 243 SCRA 578, 592 (1995), citing Tuason v. Court of
Appeals,311Phil.813,817241SCRA695,697(1995).

202

202 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

the crime. But such testimonies must be credible and must come
fromcrediblewitnesses.[35]
Several circumstances militate against the mauling victims
testimoniesthattheywereabletoidentifytheirattackers:
1.SRLachica,oneofthevictims,himselftestifiedthatthemen
he saw coming to attack his group, at least 10 in number, all wore
masks.Hesaid:
Q:WhenoneofyourbrodyouheardshoutedBrods,whatdidyoudo?
A:IstoodupandIwasalarmed.Istoodupandlookedbackandfrommyside,Isaw
atleastten(10)armedmenandmaskedmen.
Q:Yousaidarmedmen,yousawarmedmenwhenyoulookedback.Withwhatwere
theyarmedwith?
A:Theywerearmedwithleadpipesandbaseballbats.
Q:Youalsomentionedthatthesemenwerewearingmasks.Whatkindofmasks?
A:Theywerewearinghandkerchiefs,pieceofclothes,andsometshirts.[36]


SRLachicaalsosaidthat,asfiveoftheattackersbeathimupon
theback,hecoveredhisheadwithhisforearms.[37]Consequently,it
wasnotlikelythat,ashewouldclaim,hesawSJAlvirsmaskfall
offhisface.
SRLachicaalsotestifiedthatasheranawayfromhisassailants,
he looked back running and was able to place the accused SJ
ZingapanandMedallaatthescene.[38]But,consid

_______________
[35]Peoplev.Mansueto,391Phil.611,633336SCRA715,724(2000)Peoplev.
Crispin,383Phil.919,932327SCRA167,179(2000).
[36]TSN,June5,1995,p.11.
[37]Id.,atp.29.
[38]Id.,atp.13.

203

VOL.724,MAY5,2014 203
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

ering that SR Lachica was trying to get away from the men who
werebeatinghimup,itwasnotlikely,havingsucceededinsprinting
away,thathewouldlookbackandriskslowingdownhisescape.He
didnotevenclaimthatSJZingapanandMedallawereamongthose
whoattackedhim.Heappearstohavejustmadeupthestatementto
getonrecordevidencethatthetwowerepartoftheattackers.
2.SR Natalicio testified that the men who attacked them
mostly wore masks but SJ Medalla who led those men wore no
mask.[201] This is not easy to believe since SR Lachica, the other
prosecution witness, testified that the attackers all wore masks but
whenhelookedbackwhilegettingaway,hesawSJMedallaalready
without a mask, implying that the latter lost it, thus belying SR
NataliciostestimonythatSJMedallaworenomaskfromthestart.
SRNataliciotestifiedthatwhileparryinghisattackersblows,he
sawSJZingapanandSoliva.[202]Thesetwomustbeneareachother
since he saw them at glance. But, contradicting SR Natalicio, SR
GastonalsosawSJZingapan,notwithSolivabutwithMorano.[203]
3.The RTC itself gave no credence to SR Mangrobangs
testimonyandforthisreasonacquittedSJMagpantayandFajardo,
twoofhisattackerswhosemaskssupposedlyfelloff.Thetrialcourt
alsoacquittedSJNarag,whomSRMangrobangsaidhesaw,when
hereturnedtothesceneofthecommotion,hittingSRVenturinawith
theaidofSJFeliciano.Itisquiteunbelievablethathavingnarrowly
escaped his attackers, SR Mangrobang would go back while the
mauling was still in progress. Finally, the trial court acquitted SJ
Ablanida whom SR Mangrobang said he saw wielding a lead pipe
whilerunningbecauseitsimplycouldnotbelievethiswitness.

_______________
[39]TSN,July3,1995,p.9.
[40]Id.,atpp.1416.
[41]TSN,October11,1995,p.143.

204

204 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

4.AfterSRLachicaandNatalicio,thethirdwitnesstousethe
lookback proposition was SR Gaston. He testified that oneof two
maskedmentriedtobludgeonhimontheheadastheotherlungedat
himwithaknife,woundinghischestandforearm.AsSRGastonran
and escaped from those two men, he managed to look back just to
placeSJZingapanandMoranoatthesceneofthemauling.
The trial court itself found something terribly wrong with SR
Gastonstestimonies.Itsaid:

In this regard, Gaston related a hazy story. At one point, he said that he
saw Zingapan and Morano at the same place but not at the same time
explaining that the former was there first and when he moved, the latter
stoodinthesameplace.Later,hesaidthatbothwerethereatthesametime.
GrantingarguendothatMoranowasmoving,hisstorydoesnotentirelyjibe
withthatofFortes.[42]


5.SRForteswasthefourthwitnesstofoistthesamelookback
proposition. He ran away after seeing about 15 men, armed with
leadpipesandclubs,comingtoattackhisgroup.Buthelookedback
while on the run to see SJ Zingapan and Morano, who supposedly
hadnomasks,rightbehindhim.Theyhithimontheback,causing
himtofall.Ashestoodupandtriedtorunagain,agroupof10men
attackedhimforfivetoeightseconds.Herecognizednoneofthem.
But,standingupagainafterthesecondattack,hesupposedlysawSJ
FelicianowhosemaskfelloffwhilebeatingupSRVenturina.
Just what are the chances that four out of five witnesses who
were fleeing and, indeed, running for their lives would just look
back, risk stumbling and crashing down, to put in evidence the
identities of some of those whom the RTC and the CA convicted?
Verylittle.Itappearsaconvenientexcuse

_______________
[42]RTCDecision,p.65.

205

VOL.724,MAY5,2014 205
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.
forprovidingevidencewherenoneexisted.Thecircumstancesofthe
separate identifications, taking place in split seconds, defy belief.
WhatbafflesmeisthefactthatthetrialcourtacquittedSJMorano
whom SR Fortes and Gaston identified while looking back on the
runbutconvictedSJZingapan,Soliva,andMedallawhowerealso
targetsoflookbacktestimonies.
The trial court had reason to further doubt SR Fortes
testimonies.Itsaid:

By the way, the Court has not ignored the testimony of Arnel
Fortes that Morano repeatedly struck him with a lead pipe. It was,
however,givenduringtherebuttalstage.Whenhesatatthewitness
standforthefirsttime,hesaidnothingofthatsort.Hecouldhave
been saying the truth and that what he related was not an
afterthought but still the cloud of doubt remains. As there still that
haziness,thebarrierremainsuncleared.[43]

6.EmmanuelBatungbakalofcoursetestifiedthathesawthree
plateless cars rush out towards the Main Library[44] with SJ
Felicianoonboardonecar.Butthistestimonyisinconclusivesince
Batungbakal admitted on crossexamination that he was not sure it
wasSJFelicianohesaw.Besides,aspointedoutabove,nocredible
testimonysupportstheviewthatSJFelicianoinfacttookpartinthe
mauling.
The trialcourtacquitted some of the accused after rejectingthe
testimonies of SR Mangrobang who fingered SJ Feliciano as well.
Ontheotherhand,althoughSRGastondidnotmentionSJFeliciano
ondirecttestimony,hebroughtuphisnameonlyoncross,acatch
up kind of testimony that the trial court rejected in SJ Moranos
case. SR Fortes, the final witness against SJ Feliciano, said an
uncannything:twogroupsofattackershadjustbludgeonedhimone
aftertheother,yetSR

_______________
[43]Id.
[44]TSN,November6,1995,pp.31,33.

206

206 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

Fortesclaimedthathestillmanagedtostandupintimetoobserve
SJFelicianoattackingSRVenturina.
7.Notably,thetwosidesgaveconflictingtestimoniesregarding
thevictimsopportunitytoidentifytheirattackers.Theprosecution
witnesses claim that some of the attackers could be identified
because they wore no masks or their masks fell off. The defense
witnesses testified that all the attackers wore masks and none of
these fell off. Since identification of the attackers is the key issue,
the Court has to consider which witnesses and stories appear to be
morecredible.
IamimpressedwiththetestimonyofUPpoliceofficerSalvador,
who had served the UPs police force for 18 years and had no
motive to fabricate or lie. He testified that when he and fellow
officer Cabrera arrived at the scene of the mauling, he asked the
bystanders the identities of the assailants. The bystanders replied
that they were unable to identify the attackers because they wore
masks.Salvadortestified:
Q:UponbeinginformedbytheblueguardthattherewasarumbleneartheBeach
Housecanteen,telltheCourtwhatdidyouandCabrerado?
A:Werushedtotheplacewheretheincidenttookplace,sir.
Q:AnduponreachingtheareaoftheBeachHouseCanteen,whatdidyounotice?
A: I noticed one victim together with some people, sir, and I asked some of the
bystanders if they saw what happened and they said they did not recognize the
attackersbecausetheywerewearingmask.[45]


The statement of the bystanders, made while some of the
wounded were bleeding there and the excitement lingered, may be
giveninevidenceaspartoftheresgestae.Section42,Rule130of
theRulesofEvidenceprovides:

_______________
[45]TSN,November20,1995,pp.1920.

207

VOL.724,MAY5,2014 207
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

Sec.42.Partoftheresgestae.Statementsmadebyapersonwhilea
startling occurrence is taking place or immediately prior or subsequent
thereto with respect to the circumstances thereof, may be given in evidence
aspartoftheresgestae.xxx

These statements are spontaneous reactions inspired by the


excitement of the moment. It may be assumed that, unlike tardy
witnesses, the bystanders who made the statements had no
opportunity to deliberate or fabricate. The words they uttered are
partofthecommotiontheydescribed.[46]Theresgestaecontradicts
the attempt of prosecution witnesses to show that a number of the
attackersworemasksorthatidentificationwaspossiblebecausethe
masksofsomefelloff.
Infact,LuzPerez,a3rdyearInteriorDesignstudent,thenlining
up to get food at the Beach House Canteen, testified like many
othersthatshewasunabletoidentifytheattackersbecausetheyall
woremasks.Shesaid:
Q.HowmanymaskedmendidyouseeMissPerez?
A.Therewereabouttentofifteenmaskedmen.
xxxx
ATTY.W.CHUA
Q.Andcanyouidentifyanyoftheattackersthatyousaw?
WITNESS
A.No,Icannot.
Q.Whycanyounotidentifythem?
A.Becausetheywerewearingmasks.[47]

8.Inthesameway,whilethestartlingincidentandthepainsit
causedstilloccupiedtheirminds,SRNatalicioand

_______________
[46]2Jones,Sec.10:1,6thEdition.
[47]TSN,December11,1995,pp.80,85.

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208 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

his three companions admitted to the two UP police officers


investigatingthemaulingincidentthattheycouldnotidentifytheir
attackers because the latter wore masks. UP police officer Cabrera
testified:
Q On you way to the Infirmary, please tell the court if
anythinghadtranspired.
AIaskedMarvinNatalicioofhisnames,sir.
QWhatelsedidyouaskhim,ifany?
AIaskedhimwhohithim,sir.
QWhatdidhesay?
AHetoldmehedidnotrecognizeanyofthembecausetheywerewearingmasks,
sir.
QWhatabouthiscompanionswhowerewithyouinthisvehicle,didyounotask
them?
ATheyansweredthesamething,theydidnotrecognizeanyofthem,sir.
xxxx
QNow,uponarrivingattheInfirmary,pleasetelltheCourtwhattranspired?
AAttheInfirmary,thereweretwo(2)otherpersonswhowerealsoinjured,Sir.
QPleasetellthecourtwhatyoudidattheU.P.Infirmary?
AIaskedMarvinagainifherecognizedthetwo(2)otherpersonswhohithimand
heansweredthesamethingaswhatIhaveaskedhimwhenwewereatthevehicle,
Sir.[48]


Notably, as SR Fortes testified, it was SOP for all fratmen to
familiarizethemselveswiththefacesandnamesofthemembersof
otherfraternities.[49]Thisbeingthecase,therewasnoreasonforSR
Natalicioandhiscompanions,allfrat

_______________
[48]TSN,November13,1995,pp.3740.
[49]TSN,October30,1995,p.12.

209

VOL.724,MAY5,2014 209
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

men, not to promptly name the attackers from the rival fraternity
whenfirstqueriedbythepoliceofficers.
9.Besides, Dr. Carmen Mislang, a physician who had been
serving at the UP Infirmary for 20 years, also testified that when
asked,SRNatalicioandhiscompanionstoldherthattheycouldnot
identify their attackers because the latter were masked.[212] Dr.
Mislanginfactincludedthisinformationinhermedicalreport.She
thustestified:
Q You said doctor, in this history of present illness, marked as Exhibit 9a
2=zingapan,thatIquote:
x x x he was allegedly hit by a lead pipe during the rumble by unknown
assailants.Whatwasthebasisofyourstatementhere?
AHetoldus,thegroupbecausetheycamewithfriends,theyallegedthathewashit
byagroupofpeoplemaskedbyaleadpipe.Iaskediftheyknowtheassailantsand
theysaidnobecausetheyaremasked.
QYousaidhe,towhomareyoureferringto?
A The patient and their friends around because there are also commotion in the
emergencyroom,sir.
QAreyoureferringtothepatientbythenameofMervinNatalicio?
AYes,sir.[51]


SR Natalicio of course denied having said that he could not
identify their assailants when the police officers and the doctor
asked him and his companions about it. But between the latter, on
the one hand, and those officers and the doctor, on the other, the
Courtshouldhavebeenmoreinclinedtobelievethelatter.
Indeed, there is no evidence that SR Natalicio, Lachica, Fortes,
Gaston,Mangrobang,andTumaneng,whosurvived

_______________
[50]TSN,September16,1998,pp.2021.
[51]Id.

210

210 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

themauling,gavestatementsshortlyaftertheincidenteithertothe
UP police officers or the Quezon City police which had primary
jurisdiction over the crimes. They took four days mulling over it
beforegoingtotheNBItonametheirassailants.
10.SR Natalicio of course gave a different version of his
interview with the UP police officers. When they asked him who
theirassailantswere,hesaidthatherequestedthemtocomebackas
hewasnotfeelingwell.[52]ThereistestimonythattwoofhisSigma
Rhobrothersconferredwithhimtodiscusswhathappenedandtheir
strategy for getting back at those whom they believed were
responsible.Furthertothis,SRLachica[53]andGaston[54] testified
thattheymetwiththeiralumnibrothersthatevening.SRNatalicio
saidthatwhenthepoliceofficerscamebacktoaskhimtheidentities
of the attackers, a senior fraternity brotherlawyer was present and
hetoldthepoliceofficersthatthestatementswouldbegiventothe
NBIandtheywouldjustbefurnishedcopies.[55]
This is ludicrous. The right to silence is given to persons under
suspicion for committing some crimes, not to the victims whose
duty is to promptly assist the police investigators in pinpointing
criminal responsibilities. No evidence has been presented to show
thattheUPpoliceforcewaspartialtotheopposingfraternity.Iam
thusunabletoblametheaccusedforbelievingthattheonlypossible
reasoninthiscaseforwithholdinginformationfromthepolicefrom
day one was that the victims and their counsel had yet to put their
actstogether.
11.Thesupposedidentificationoftheaccusedcamefourdays
laterattheNBIofficeinManila.Admittedly,thevictimsandtheir
brodswaitedforeveryonetobereadybeforethey

_______________
[52]TSN,July12,1995,p.3.
[53]TSN,June5,1995,p.15.
[54]TSN,October11,1995,pp.46,148149.
[55]TSN,February7,2001,p.31.

211
VOL.724,MAY5,2014 211
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

came as a group to give their statements at the NBI office. The


excuse that SR Natalicio and Fortes needed medical attention and
thattheotherswiththemwantedtocometogetherwhentheyfiled
theircomplaintsattheNBIisnotavalidexcuse.Sincetheyclaim
thattheywereterriblyaggrievedandthatoneofthemlosthislife,
the natural thing was for them to demand immediate justice and
actionfromthepoliceortheNBIontheafternoonofDecember8,
1994.
12.Theprosecutionwitnessestestifiedthatthemasksoffiveof
theaccusedjustfellofftorevealwhotheywere.Thesewere(a)SJ
Alvir per SR Lachicas testimony[56] (b) SJ Zingapan and (c) SJ
Medalla also per SR Lachicas testimony that the two were not
wearing masks when he looked back and saw them,[57] implying
that they had masks at the beginning of the attack (d) SJ
Magpantayand(e)SJFajardoperSRMangrobangstestimonythat
the masks of these two fell off.[58] SR Fortes also testified that he
sawSJFelicianosmaskfelloffashewashittingSRVenturina.[59]
Justwhatarethechancesthatthemasksoffiveoutof12accused
just fell off during the mauling? Quite little or nil since it was not
actually a fraternity rumble where the protagonists hit each other
creating thepossibilitythat anymask they were wearing could fall
off. Here, the victims testified that they bore the punishment and
were unable to fight back since their attackers were numerous and
carried lead pipes and clubs. Indeed, none of the victims testified
that his action in protecting his head resulted in the unmasking of
one or some of his attackers. Evidently, the attackers deliberately
wore masks to hide their identities. It made no sense for them to
wearmasksthatwouldjustfalloffwhenonesneezes.

_______________
[56]TSN,June5,1995,p.12.
[57]Id.,atp.13.
[58]TSN,September28,1995,pp.1718.
[59]TSN,October16,1995,pp.6263.

212

212 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

Thosewhoswingbatstostrikeatobjectsbeforethemrarelyhit
theirownfaces.OnlyinfunnymovieslikeTheThreeStoogescan
that happen. What are the chances that a mask would just fall off
fromthefaceofthepersonwearingit?Constructionandindustrial
laborers doing strenuous work wear mask all day long to protect
themselves from dusts, chemicals, or fumes. Food processing
workerswearthematworktopreventfoodcontamination.Theyare
not likely to be heard experiencing unpredictable falling off of
maskstakingplaceingreatnumber.Here,iftheprosecutionwereto
bebelieved,fiveoutofjust12accusedlosttheirmasksinonly30to
45seconds.Theoddsofthishappeningareunbelievable.
Indeed, prosecution witness Gaio himself who was at the scene
of the commotion testified that he did not see any of the attackers
losingtheirmasksatanypointintime.Hesaid:
ATTY.CHUA:
Q:Atanypointintime,didyouseeanymaskpulling[sic]off?
WITNESS:
A:Ididnotseeanything,sir.[60]
Gaio also belied SR Fortes testimony that SJ Felicianos mask fell off while he was
hittingSRVenturina.Gaiosaid:
Q:Mr. Dennis Venturina was hit and fell down, was the person who hit Dennis
wearingmask?
A:Theirfaceswerecovered,sir.
Q:Allofthem?
A:Yes,sir.
Q:Thereisnowaytorecognizethem?
A:None,sir.[61]

_______________
[60]TSN,April3,1997,pp.4849.
[61]Id.,atp.49.

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VOL.724,MAY5,2014 213
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

While the attack by masked men is doubly condemnable, not


only for the treachery involved but also for the cowardice and
deceptionthatcamewithit,theCourtcannothastilysendtoprison
those charged with these crimes without proof beyond reasonable
doubtthattheycommittedthem.TheConstitutionordainsthis.
Inacaselikethis,wheretheidentitiesandparticipationsofthe
severalaccusedinvolvedaredifficulttoprove,theidealsolutionis
toconvincetheleastguiltyofthem,theonewhoshowedthemost
reluctance and delivered the lightest blows, to turn state witness. I
amunabletosayifeffortsinthisdirectionweretakenbytheNBIor
theprosecutorstoensurethattheyhadagoodcase.
IcondemnthesenselessdeathofSRVenturinaandcommiserates
with the sufferings of his family. Fraternity wars, many of them
cruelandbarbaric,arethescourgeofmanycampuses.Newrecruits
areromanticizedwiththemystery,pride,anddramaofbrotherhood
or kinship with senior members of great reputation. This of course
invites envy and annoyance from other brotherhoods for none is
greater or more courageous than ones own. They thus test each
others unity, capability, and resolve, destroying each other, and
subordinatingtherealpurposeoftheirbeinginschool.Theyforget
thattruebrotherhoodcomesfrommutualkindnessandrespect.
ACCORDINGLY, I vote to GRANT the petition, REVERSE
ANDSETASIDEthejudgmentofconvictionoftheRegionalTrial
CourtinCriminalCasesQ9561133to38datedFebruary28,2002,
andACQUITtheaccusedappellantsRobertMichaelBeltranAlvir,
Danilo A. Feliciano, Jr., Christopher L. Saliva, Julius Victor L.
Medalla,andWarrenL.Zingapanongroundofreasonabledoubt.

Judgmentaffirmedwithmodification.

214

214 SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Peoplevs.Feliciano,Jr.

Notes.Whileastartlingeventdoesnotelicitastandardformof
human behavioral response, experience shows that it oftentimes
creates an indelible impression in the mind that can be recalled
vividly.(Diamantevs.People,598SCRA500[2009])
Theruleofresgestaeapplieswhenthedeclaranthimselfdidnot
testify.(Floresvs.People,602SCRA611[2009])

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