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G.R. No.

L-38511 October 6, 1933

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. FRANCISCO


CAGOCO Y RAMONES ( alias FRANCISCO CAGURO, alias FRANCISCO ADMONES,
alias BUCOY, alias FRISCO GUY), Defendant-Appellant.

W.A. Caldwell and Sotto and Astilla for appellant.


Office of the Solicitor-General Bengzon for appellee.

VICKERS, J.:

The accused was charged in the Court of First Instance of Manila with the crime of asesinato,
committed as follows:

That on or about the 24th day of July, 1932, in the City of Manila, Philippine Islands, the said
accused did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, without any just cause therefor
and with intent to kill and treachery, assault and attack one Yu Lon by suddenly giving him a fist
blow on the back part of the head, under conditions which intended directly and especially to
insure, the accomplishment of his purpose without risk to himself arising from any defense the
victim Yu Lon might make, thus causing him to fall on the ground as a consequence of which he
suffered a lacerated wound on the scalp and a fissured fracture on the left occipital region, which
were necessarily mortal and which caused the immediate death of the said Yu Lon.

After hearing the evidence, Judge Luis P. Torres found the defendant guilty as charged, and
sentenced him to suffer reclusion perpetua, with the accessory penalties of the law, to indemnify
the heirs of the deceased Yu Lon in the sum of P1,000, without subsidiary imprisonment in case
of insolvency, and to pay the costs.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

Appellant's attorney de oficio makes the following assignments of error:

1. The trial court erred in finding that the appellant the person who committed the assault on Yu
Lon, the victim to the crime charged in the information.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles
virtual law library

2. Assuming that the appellant is the person who committed the assault on Yu Lon (a fact which
we specifically deny), the trial court erred in finding that the appellant struck his supposed
victim.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

3. Assuming that the appellant is the person who committed the assault on Yu Lon, and that the
appellant did strike his supposed victim (facts which we specifically deny) the trial court erred in
finding that the blow was dealt from the victim's rear.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles
virtual law library

4. The trial court erred in finding that the identity of the appellant was fully
established.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
5. Assuming that the four preceding errors assigned are without merit, the trial court erred in
convicting the appellant of the crime of murder, under article 248 of the Revised Penal Code,
instead of convicting him of the crime of maltreatment, under article 266 of the said Code.

It appears from the evidence that about 8:30 on the night of July 24, 1932 Yu Lon and Yu Yee,
father and son, stopped to talk on the sidewalk at the corner of Mestizos and San Fernando
Streets in the District of San Nicolas Yu Lon was standing near the outer edge of the sidewalk,
with his back to the street. While they were talking, a man passed back and forth behind Yu Lon
once or twice, and when Yu Yee was about to take leave of his father, the man that had been
passing back the forth behind Yu Lon approached him from behind and suddenly and without
warning struck him with his fist on the back part of the head. Yu Lon tottered and fell
backwards. His head struck the asphalt pavement; the lower part of his body fell on the sidewalk.
His assailants immediately ran away. Yu Yee pursued him through San Fernando, Camba, and
Jaboneros Streets, and then lost sight of him. Two other Chinese, Chin Sam and Yee Fung, who
were walking along Calle Mestizos, saw the incident and joined him in the pursuit of Yu Lon's
assailant. The wounded man was taken to the Philippine General Hospital, were he died about
midnight. A post-mortem examination was made the next day by Dr. Anastacia Villegas, who
found that the deceased had sustained a lacerated wound and fracture of the skull in the occipital
region, and that he had died from cerebral hemorrhage; that he had tuberculosis, though not in an
advanced stage, and a tumor in the left kidney.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law
library

Yu Yee promptly reported the incident to the police, and about 3 o'clock the next morning
Sergeant Sol Cruz and other detectives, accompanied by Yu Yee, went to the scene of the crime
and found blood stains in the street. Yu Yee said that he could recognize his father's assailant,
and described him as being about five feet in height, 25 or 30 years old, with long hair and
wearing a suit of dark clothes. After Sergeant Sol Cruz had been working on the case for three or
four days he received information that the accused might be the person that had assaulted Yu
Lon, and on August 4th the accused was arrested by detectives Manrique and Bustamante. He
was wearing a dark wool suit. Yu Yee was immediately called to the police station. The accused
was placed near the middle of a line of some eleven persons that had been detained for
investigation. They were wearing different kinds of clothes. Yu Yee without hesitation pointed
out the defendant as the person that had assaulted Yu Lon. He identified him not only by his long
hair combed towards the back and worn long on the sides in the form of side-whiskers (patillas),
but also by his high cheek-bones and the fact that his ears have no lobes. The defendant was
identified at the trial not only by Yu Yee, but also by Chin Sam and Yee
Fung.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

With respect to the first four assignment of error, which raise questions of fact as to the
identification of the accused, and whether or not be struck the deceased, and if he did assault the
deceased, whether he did so in a treacherous manner, we see no sufficient reason, after
considering the evidence and arguments of counsel, to doubt the correctness of the findings of
the trial judge. The accused was identified by Yu Yee and two other Chinese, and although Yu
Yee may have overstated at the trial some of the facial peculiarities in the defendant that he
claimed to have observed at the time of the incident, it must be remembered that Yu Yee without
hesitation picked the defendant out of a group of eleven persons as his father's assailant, and that
he had exceptional opportunities for observing his father's assailant, because while that person
was walking back and forth behind Yu Lon, Yu Yee was facing the
assailant.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

We find the testimony of the defendant and his witnesses as to the whereabouts of the defendant
on the night in question unworthy of credit.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law
library

The testimony of the three Chinese that a man struck the deceased and then ran away is
corroborated by the testimony of a 15-year old boy, Dominador Sales.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
chanrobles virtual law library

As to the contention that the deceased would have fallen on his face if he had been struck on the
back of the head, the expert testimony shows that in such a case a person instinctively makes an
effort to preserve or regain his balance, and that as result thereof the deceased may have fallen
backwards. Another consideration is that sidewalks almost invariably slope towards the
pavement, and this being true, when the deceased straightened up, he naturally tended to fall
backwards. The evidence leaves no room for doubt that the accused struck the deceased on the
back of the head, because when the deceased was assaulted he and Yu Yee were standing on the
sidewalk, facing each other, and if the accused had not struck the deceased on the back of the
head, it would have been necessary for him to go between the deceased and Yu Yee. Since the
accused struck the deceased from behind and without warning, he acted with treachery. "There is
treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against the person, employing means,
methods, or forms in the execution thereof which tend directly and especially to insure its
execution, without risk to himself arising from the defense which the offended party might
make." (Article 14, No. 16, of the Revised Penal Code.)chanrobles virtual law library

The fourth assignment of error is a repetition of the first.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles


virtual law library

In the fifth assignment of error it is contended that the appellant if guilty at all, should be
punished in accordance with article 266 of the Revised Penal Code, or for slight physical injuries
instead of murder.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

Paragraph No. 1 of article 4 of the Revised Penal Code provide that criminal liability shall be
incurred by any person committing a felony ( delito) although the wrongful act done be different
from that which he intended; but in order that a person may be criminally liable for a felony
different from that which he proposed to commit, it is indispensable that the two following
requisites be present, to wit: ( a) That a felony was committed; and ( b) that the wrong done to
the aggrieved person be the direct consequence of the crime committed by the offender. U.S. vs.
Brobst, 14 Phil., 310; U.S. vs. Mallari, 29 Phil., 14 U.S. vs. Diana, 32 Phil., 344.)chanrobles
virtual law library

In the Brobst case, supra, it was held that death may result from a blow over or near the heart or
in the abdominal region, notwithstanding the fact that the blow leaves no outward mark of
violence; that where death result as the direct consequence of the use of illegal violence, the
mere fact that the diseased or weakened condition of the injured person contributed to his death,
does not relieve the illegal aggressor of criminal responsibility; that one is not relieved, under the
law in these Islands, from criminal liability for the natural consequences of one's illegal acts,
merely because one does not intend to produce such consequences; but that in such cases, the
lack of intention, while it does not exempt from criminal liability, is taken into consideration as
an extenuating circumstance. (U.S. vs. Luciano, 2 Phil., 96.)chanrobles virtual law library

The reasoning of the decisions cited is applicable to the case at bar. There can be no reasonable
doubt as to the cause of the death of Yu Lon. There is nothing to indicate that it was due to some
extraneous case. It was clearly the direct consequence of defendants felonious act, and the fact
that the defendant did not intend to cause so great an injury does not relieve him from the
consequence of his unlawful act, but is merely a mitigating circumstance (U.S. vs. Rodriguez, 23
Phil., 22).chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

The next question is whether the crime committed by the defendant should be classified as
homicide or murder. Can the defendant be convicted of murder when he did not intend to kill the
deceased?chanrobles virtual law library

We have seen that under the circumstances of this case the defendant is liable for the killing of
Yu Lon, because his death was the direct consequence of defendant's felonious act of striking
him on the head. If the defendant had not committed the assault in a treacherous manner. he
would nevertheless have been guilty of homicide, although he did not intend to kill the deceased;
and since the defendant did commit the crime with treachery, he is guilty of murder, because of
the presence of the qualifying circumstance of treachery.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles
virtual law library

The Supreme Court of Spain has held that there is no incompatibility, moral or legal, between
alevosia and the mitigating circumstance of not having intended to cause so great an injury:

Considering that there is no moral or legal incompatibility between treachery and the mitigating
circumstance No. 3 of article 9 of the Penal Code, because the former depends upon the manner
of execution of the crime and the latter upon the tendency of the will towards a definite purpose,
and therefore there is no obstacle, in case treacherous means, modes or forms are employed, to
the appreciation of the first of said circumstances and simultaneously of the second if the injury
produced exceeds the limits intended by the accused; and for that reason it cannot be held in the
instant case that this mitigating circumstances excludes treachery, or that the accused, being
chargeable with the death of the offended party, should not be liable due to the voluntary
presence of treachery in the act perpetrated, although with mitigation corresponding to the
disparity between the act intended and the act consummated, etc. (Decision of May 10, 1905,
Gazette of April 20, 906; Viada: 5th edition, Vol. 2, p. 156.)

In the case of the United States vs. Candelaria (2 Phil., 104), this court speaking through Chief
Justice Arellano said:

In trying Jacinto to a tree the three defendants acted treacherously ( alevosamente). Whether it
was to prevent him from making resistance, whether it was to torture him for the purpose of
making him give information, or whether it was for the purpose of inflicting further punishment,
the fact is that by this means the defendants secured themselves against any risk which might
have arisen from an attempt at self-defense on the part of the victim. We are of opinion that they
had no intention to cause so great an evil as that which resulted, but this does not neutralize that
other qualifying circumstance of the resulting death, because if there was no alevosia for the
purpose of killing there was alevosia for the purpose of the illtreating. The means employed were
not made use of for the precise purpose of making certain the death of Jacinto de Jesus but as a
safe means of illtreating him without risk to the persons who were doing so. If by this means the
ill treatment was aggravated, it follows that it is a qualifying circumstances in the death which
resulted. It was not a condition of the purpose, but it was a condition of the criminal act itself, in
whatever sense this be taken.

The penalty of murder (article 248 of the Revised Penal Code) is reclusion temporal in its
maximum period to death, and there being present in this case one mitigating and no aggravating
circumstance the prison sentence of the appellant is reduced to seventeen years, four months, and
one day of reclusion temporal. As thus modified, the decision appealed from is affirmed, with
the costs against the appellant.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

Avanceña, C.J., Street, Abad Santos, and Butte, JJ., concur.


[G.R. No. 7123. August 17, 1912. ]

THE UNITED STATES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. ROSALINO RODRIGUEZ, Defendant-


Appellant.

G. E. Campbell for Appellant.

Attorney-General Villamor for Appellee.

SYLLABUS

1. HOMICIDE; CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY. — When the fact is well established that the
accused struck the victim twice with his fist, in the abdomen and in the back, wherefore the latter
fell to the ground and had hardly risen and started to walk when he again fell down dead, the
crime committed is rightly classified as homicide and the accused is responsible therefor.

2. ID.; ID. — Even though a blow with the fist or a kick does not cause any external wound it
may easily produce inflammation of the spleen and peritonitis and cause death, and even though
the victim may have been previously affected by some internal malady, yet if a blow with the fist
or foot accelerated death, he who caused such acceleration is responsible for the death as the
result of an injury willfully and unlawfully inflicted.

3. ID.; ID.; EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES. — It is plain in such a case as this that the
accused did not mean to inflict so grave an injury as he did. It is also plain from the very text of
the complaint and the statement of the fiscal that the motive for the assault was that the accused
saw the deceased seize his daughter’s hand to make love to her, which constitutes immediate
provocation on the victim’s part. The presence of these two well-defined extenuating
circumstances and the absence of any aggravating one make proper the application of rule 5 of
article 81 of the Penal Code and the imposition of the penalty next lower than that prescribed by
the law.

DECISION

ARELLANO, C.J. :

Rosalino Rodriguez is charged with having dealt Marciano Magno two blows with the fist, one
on the left side toward the stomach and the other on the back, which knocked him down. He got
up by the assistance of two witnesses who were present at the time of the occurrence and by their
aid endeavored to return to his home, which he did not reach, for the reason that, having gone a
distance of twenty brazas from the place, he again fell to the ground, this time dead.

Two witnesses testified to having seen the defendant strike those two blows.
The following were offered by the defendant as defenses:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

(1) The testimony of his daughter and two other witnesses;

(2) the fact that his right hand was disabled; and (3) the medical certificate issued by a physician
as a result of the autopsy.

The defendant’s daughter averred that it was she who struck Marciano Magno the blow with the
fist, for the reason that the deceased had caught hold of her hand with unchaste designs, and
testified that her father arrived after Magno had fallen to the ground, which testimony was
supported by two witnesses.

This defense was not sustained by the trial judge. But on the contrary, he accepted the
preponderance of evidence for the prosecution, sustained by three witnesses, of whom two were
eyewitnesses to the crime, and the other, of the confession alleged to have been made to him by
the defendant when arrested by this witness, to the effect that the victim’s death was an
unlooked-for misfortune.

Nor was the defense advanced by the defendant to the effect that his right hand was crippled and
he was unable to work with it sustained by the trial court, and rightly, since, as the defendant
testified, he worked with his left hand and sometimes used a spoon with his right; moreover, it
was proved that it was impossible for him to strike blows with either hand.

The defense founded on the medical examination of the corpse consists in that the physician who
made the autopsy declared that he had observed hypertrophy of the heart, a discharge in the
spleen, an increase of this latter organ to four times its ordinary size, and abdominal peritonitis;
and in that, according to this examination, the cause of death can not be determined for the blows
which he may have received could have coincided with the traumatism, and "the traumatisms
which that body received hastened the death of the said individual;" and, finally, this witness
being questioned by the defense as to whether the cause of death was a traumatism or a shock,
replied that he was unable to determine which it was.

As was proper, neither was this defense sustained by the trial judge. The defendant was,
therefore, found guilty of the crime of homicide and sentenced to twelve years and one day of
reclusion temporal, to the accessory penalties and an indemnity of P1,000 to the heirs of the
deceased, and to the payment of the costs; from which judgment he appealed.

This appeal, forwarded from the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, having been heard,
together with the allegations and arguments therein made by the parties, whereby it appears to
have been well proven that the defendant did strike Marciano Magno in the abdomen and in the
back two blows with his hand, as a result of which the latter fell to the ground, and scarcely had
he gotten up and started to walk when he fell down dead, we hold that the crime is properly
classified as homicide and that Rosalino Rodriguez is responsible therefor.

A blow with the fist or a kick, though causing no external wound, may very well produced
inflammation of the spleen and peritonitis and cause death; and although the assaulted party was
previously affected by some internal malady, if, because of a blow given with the hand or the
foot, his death was hastened, beyond peradventure he is responsible therefor who produced the
cause for such acceleration as the result of a voluntary and unlawfully inflicted injury.

But in the complaint itself it is alleged that the cause of the assault was the fact that the defendant
saw the deceased catch hold of his daughter Roberta’s hand, for the purpose of making love to
her, and the provincial fiscal stated at the trial that this assertion was the result of a careful
investigation made by him, which was indeed confirmed by the facts proven.

It therefore appears that the defendant’s act was preceded by an immediate provocation on the
part of the deceased, and, evidently, the defendant did not intend to cause so grave an injury as
he produced.

With the existence of these two well-defined extenuating circumstances and without any
aggravating circumstance, rule 5 of article 81 of the Penal Code must be applied and the penalty
immediately inferior to that fixed by law imposed. Consequently, modifying the penalty imposed
by the lower court to eight years and one day of prision mayor, the judgment appealed from is
affirmed, with the costs of this instance against the Appellant. So ordered.

Mapa, Johnson, Carson, and Trent, JJ., concur.


EN BANC

G.R. No. L-42117 March 29, 1935

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. GREGORIO


REYES, Defendant-Appellant.

Jose G. Pardo for appellant.


Acting Solicitor-General Melencio for appellee.

HULL, J.: chanrobles virtual law library

Appellant was convicted in the Court of First Instance of Camarines Sur of the crime of
homicide committed on the person of Fausta Tavera on the evening of April 30,
1934.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

Previous to the crime, the deceased for a couple of weeks had been living with appellant, but her
parents had persuaded her to come home and were demanding that appellant pay a dowry of P30
before the date of the celebration of the marriage could be fixed.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
chanrobles virtual law library

That evening there had been a barrio procession, and after the procession, they were gathered in
one of the houses, where an impromptu dance took place. The deceased and appellant were
talking in the yard of the house where the dance was taking place, and she informed him that she
could not return to him and that she was going with her parents of Catanduanes. Appellant
dragged the deceased towards the street and stabbed her in the chest with a fanknife. Deceased
ran to the house of the barrio lieutenant, a short distance away, falling deed at the foot of the
staircase, although the wound was only a slight one, it not having penetrated the thoracic cavity,
having hit a bone.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

Immediately Andres Tapil, Tomas and Rufino, relatives of the deceased, attempted to seize the
appellant, but with the aid of his knife, he escaped and ran from the scene of the
affray.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

Appellant as witness in his own behalf claimed that he was attacked by the three relatives of the
deceased, and if deceased was wounded by him, it was in the midst of that affray and purely
accidental on his part.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

Not only is this testimony directly contrary to the witnesses for the prosecution but is greatly
weakened by appellant's own statement given to the chief of police the day after the crime. The
story as told by appellant was not believed by the trial court, and on the whole does not ring with
sincerity and truth.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

Appellant contends that he cannot be convicted of homicide as the wound actually inflicted was
a superficial wound of no intrinsic magnitude. As above stated, deceased ran screaming to the
nearby house where she dropped dead. The sanitary inspector who examined the body the next
day, found no other wound and certified that deceased had died from shock as a result of the
wound and so testified at the trial.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

The death having occurred in an outlying barrio, there was no proper autopsy. So far as is
known, deceased was in normal health, but appellant contends that it is incumbent upon the State
to prove that the deceased did not die of poisoning or some other
cause.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

In this jurisdiction it is well settled that such is not the law. A person is responsible for the
consequences of his criminal act and even if the deceased had been shown to be suffering from a
diseased heart (which was not shown), appellant's assault being the proximate cause of the death,
he would be responsible, (U.S. vs. Luciano, 2 Phil., 96; U.S. vs. Lugo and Lugo, 8 Phil., 80; U.S.
vs. Brobst, 14 Phil., 310; U.S. vs. Rodriguez, 23 Phil., 22.)chanrobles virtual law library

The trial court appreciated the mitigating circumstances that the offender had no intention to
commit so grave a wrong as that committed and that sufficient provocation or threat on the part
of the offended party immediately preceded the act.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual
law library

We have repeatedly held that when a person stabs another with a lethal weapon such as a
fanknife upon a part of the body, for example, the head, chest, or stomach, death could
reasonably be anticipated, and the accused must be presumed to have intended the natural
consequences of his wrongful act. The means employed contradict the claim that appellant had
lack of intention to commit the crime of homicide.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual
law library

The trial court considered provocation as a mitigating circumstance based on the testimony of
appellant that he had been attacked, overlooking the fact that the law requires that the
provocation come from the offended party. Certainly the deceased did not attack appellant, and
her refusal to renew her illicit relationship with him can hardly be construed as legal
provocation.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

On a careful review of the evidence we are convinced that appellant is guilty beyond a
reasonable doubt of the crime of homicide without either aggravating or mitigating
circumstances and therefore sentence him under Act No. 4103 to from eight years of prision
mayor to fourteen years, eight months, and one day of reclusion temporal and to indemnify the
heirs of the offended party in the sum of P1,000. As thus modified the judgment appealed from is
affirmed. Costs against appellant. So ordered.

Avance�a, C.J., Malcolm, Vickers, Imperial, Butte, Goddard, and Diaz, JJ., concur.
Separate Opinions

ABAD SANTOS, J., dissenting:chanrobles virtual law library

Upon the evidence of record I am of the opinion that the appellant should be
acquitted.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

I am inclined to believe the testimony of the appellant to the effect that he was attacked by the
three men who were with the deceased at the time, and that as a result of the fight that ensued,
the deceased was accidentally wounded. Moreover, the physician who examined the deceased
testified that the wound he found on her body was merely a "scratch". The nature of the wound
was such that, under ordinary circumstances, would not have resulted in death. I do not believe
that the appellant had intended to commit homicide.
FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 9426. August 15, 1914. ]

THE UNITED STATES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. FILOMENO MARASIGAN, Defendant-


Appellant.

Silvestre Apacible for Appellant.

Solicitor-General Corpus for Appellee.

SYLLABUS

1. "LESIONES GRAVES;" MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL DENIED. — Where it appears from
the evidence in the case that the appellant inflicted a would upon the complaining witness which
destroyed the use of one of the fingers of the left hand, a motion for a new trial will be denied
when based upon the allegation that appellant would be able to prove, if opportunity were given,
that the finger, although useless at present , could be restored to substantially its normal
condition by surgical operation.

2. CRIMINAL LAW; CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY. — A person injured in an assault is not


obliged to submit to a surgical operation to relieve the person who has assaulted from the results
of his crime.

DECISION

MORELAND, J. :

In this case it appears that 4 o’clock of the afternoon of the 23d of January, 1913, Francisco
Mendoza, while engaged in examining his sugar crop growing upon his lands in the barrio of
Irucan, now called Calayaan, in the municipality of Taal, Batangas Province, was asked by the
accused and his wife to approach them.

On arriving near them the accused said to Mendoza: "Why is this line curved?" [indicating the
division line between the lands of the two. ] "Let us made it straight"

Francisco replied, saying: "Why do you want to make the line straight? If you make the line
straight, it will put certain logs and trees on your land."cralaw virtua1aw library

To this the accused replied: "Those logs are there simply for the purpose of marking my
land."cralaw virtua1aw library

Francisco replied: "Why are you not satisfied with the line just as it was when took possession of
our respective lands?"
To this the accused replied: "This is false." Saying this he drew his knife and struck at Mendoza.

On attempting to ward off the blow Mendoza was cut in the left hand. The accused continued the
attack, whereupon Mendoza seized the accused by the neck and the body and threw him down.
While both were lying upon the ground the accused still sought to strike Mendoza with his
dagger. The latter seized the land which held the dagger and attempted to loosen his hold upon it.
While they were thus fighting for the possession of the knife, the wife of the accused came
forward and took the dagger from her husband’s hand, throwing it to one side. She then seized
Mendoza by the neck and threw him from her husband, who after various maneuvers, struck
Mendoza a blow which knocked him senseless.

As a result of the fight Mendoza received three wounds, two in the chest and one in the left hand,
the latter being the most serious, the extensor tendon in one of the fingers having been severed.
The wounds were cured in seven days at a cost of about $45, but the middle finger of the left
hand was rendered useless.

The story of the affair told by the accused is quite different from that just related, but the facts as
stated were as found by the trial court and the evidence given fully supports the findings. We
have examined the case carefully and see no reason why it should be reversed upon the facts. We
may say the same as to the law.

The accused asserts that he should have a new trial upon the ground that if he should be given
another opportunity to present evidence he would be able to show by a physician, Gregorio
Limjoco, that the finger which the court found to have been rendered useless by the cut already
described was not necessarily a useless member, inasmuch as, if the accused would permit a
surgical operation, the finger could be restored to its normal condition. He also asserts that he
could demonstrate by the physician referred to that it was not the middle finger that was disabled
but the third finger instead.

We do not regard the case made as sufficient to warrant a new trial. It is immaterial for the
purposes of this case whether the finger, the usefulness of which was destroyed, was the middle
finger or the third finger. All agree that one of the fingers of the left hand was rendered useless
by the act of the accused. It does not matter which finger it was.

Nor do we attach any importance to the contention that the original condition of the finger could
be restored by a surgical operation. Mendoza is not obliged to submit to a surgical operation to
relieve the accused from the natural and ordinary results of this crime. It was his voluntary act
which disabled Mendoza and he must abide by the consequences resulting therefrom without aid
from Mendoza.

The judgment appealed from is affirmed, with costs against the Appellant.
EN BANC

G.R. No. L-42122 December 1, 1934

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. INOCENTES


MOLDES, Defendant-Appellant.

Fidel J. Silva for appellant.


Acting Solicitor-General Melencio for appellee.

HULL, J.:

Appellant was convicted in the Court of First Instance of Leyte of the crime of homicide. On the
night of the 3rd of April in the barrio of Maya, municipality of Abuyog, Province of Leyte, there
was a dance in a private house, and the deceased was the master of ceremonies at that dance. The
appellant insisted on dancing out of turn and was reproved by the deceased. Appellant then went
to the porch of the house and with his bolo began cutting down the decorations. He descended
into the yard of the house and challenged everyone to a fight. Not attracting sufficient attention,
he began chopping at the bamboo trees and repeated his challenged for a
fight.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

The deceased, unarmed, started down the stairs, speaking to him in a friendly manner, and as
deceased had about reached the ground, appellant struck at him with his bolo, inflicting a wound
on his left arm, which was described by the sanitary inspector on post mortem examination as
follows:

A long incised wound located on the lower portion of the left arm directed inwards downwards
and extending as low as the anticubital fossa and cutting the inferior part of the biceps muscle,
and the branches of the brachial artery. It measured 2 inches long, 2 � inches wide and 1 �
inches deep.

As deceased fell to the ground, appellant inflicted a slight wound in the back and ran away from
the scene of action.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

The wound was seen and treated the next morning by the sanitary inspector of Abuyog, but the
deceased remained in the care of a local "curandero." This treatment failed to stop the
hemorrhage, and the deceased died on the 15th of April, 1934.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
chanrobles virtual law library

The theory of the defense was that appellant was behaving at the dance, that the deceased was
the aggressor, that he struck him on the dance floor with a cane, and that when appellant ran
from the house, deceased followed him about 200 yards until they came to a creek and appellant
could not retreat any further, and that when being attacked by the deceased with a cane and a
bolo, he succeeded in wrenching the bolo from the hands of the deceased and in self-defense
inflicted the wound.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
While there is testimony to the above effect, the witnesses for the defense were not believed by
the trial court, and the testimony to that effect does not read as clear and convincing as does that
of the witnesses for the prosecution.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

The attorney de oficio urges that appellant did not intend to commit as serious a wound as was
inflicted but struck only in the dark and in self-defense.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles
virtual law library

It is clear that there is no element of self-defense in the case and that appellant was the aggressor.
When one resorts to the use of a lethal weapon and strikes another with the force that must have
been used in this case, it must be presumed that he realizes the natural consequences of his
act.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

It is also contended by the attorney for the appellant that if the deceased had secured proper
surgical treatment, the wound would not have been fatal. In the outlying barrio in which this
assault took place, proper modern surgical service is not available.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
chanrobles virtual law library

The general rule is "... that he who inflicts the injury is not relieved of responsibility if the wound
inflicted is dangerous, that is, calculated to destroy or endanger life, even though the immediate
cause of the death was erroneous or unskillful medical or surgical treatment ... ." (29 C. J., 1081,
and the numerous cases there cited.)chanrobles virtual law library

Ruling Case Law is in strict accord with Corpus Juris.

. . . The principle on which this rule is founded is one of universal application, and lies at the
foundation of all criminal jurisprudence. It is, that every person is to be held to contemplate and
to be responsible for the natural consequences of his own acts. If a person inflicts a wound with a
deadly weapon in such manner as to put life in jeopardy, and death follows as a consequence of
this felonious and wicked act, it does not alter its nature or diminish its criminality to prove that
other causes co-operated in producing the fatal result. Indeed, it may be said that neglect of the
wound or its unskillful and improper treatment, which were of themselves consequences of the
criminal act, which might naturally follow in any case, must in law be deemed to have been
among those which were in contemplation of the guilty party, and for which he is to be held
responsible. But, however this may be, the rule surely seems to have its foundation in a wise and
practical policy. A different doctrine would tend to give immunity to crime and to take away
from human life a salutary and essential safeguard. Amid the conflicting theories of medical
men, and the uncertainties attendant upon the treatment of bodily ailments and injuries, it would
be easy in many cases of homicide to raise a doubt as to the immediate cause of death, and
thereby to open a wide door by which persons guilty of the highest crime might escape
conviction and punishment. . . . (13 R. C. L., 751, 752; 22 L. R. A., New Series, 841.)

This court in the case of United States vs. Escalona (12 Phil., 54), following a decision of the
Supreme Court of Spain, adopted the same rule.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual
law library
Therefore this contention of appellant must be held to be without
merit.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

During the trial, counsel for the defense asked several questions as to the character and habits of
the deceased, but the court sustained the objections of the fiscal as to the propriety of such
questions. Appellant urges that this was prejudicial error. That such questions were relevant to
the issue then in question is not obvious. It is not necessary to pass upon the merits of this
contention, as such questions were not insisted upon at the trial, and no exception was taken to
the rulings of the court.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

Fixing the period of confinement at six years and one day of prision mayor to fourteen years,
eight months, and one day of reclusion temporal, the judgment appealed from as thus modified is
affirmed. No expression as to costs. So ordered.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual
law library

Avanceña, C.J., Abad Santos, Vickers, and Diaz, JJ., concur.


G.R. No. 95322 March 1, 1993

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. PABLITO DOMASIAN AND DR.


SAMSON TAN, Accused-Appellant.

The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.chanrobles virtual law library

Silvestre L. Tagarao for appellant Pablito Domasian.chanrobles virtual law library

Lino M. Patajo for appellant Dr. Samson Tan.

-->

CRUZ, J.:

The boy was detained for only about three hours and was released even before his parents
received the ransom note. But it spawned a protracted trial spanning all of 8 years and led to the
conviction of the two accused.1chanrobles virtual law library

The victim was Enrico Paulo Agra, who was 8 years old at the time of the incident in question.
The accused were Pablito Domasian and Samson Tan, the latter then a resident physician in the
hospital owned by Enrico's parents. They were represented by separate lawyers at the trial and
filed separate briefs in this appeal.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library

The evidence of the prosecution showed that in the morning of March 11, 1982, while Enrico
was walking with a classmate along Roque street in the poblacion of Lopez, Quezon, he was
approached by a man who requested his assistance in getting his father's signature on a medical
certificate. Enrico agreed to help and rode with the man in a tricycle to Calantipayan, where he
waited outside while the man went into a building to get the certificate. Enrico became
apprehensive and started to cry when, instead of taking him to the hospital, the man flagged a
minibus and forced him inside, holding him firmly all the while. The man told him to stop crying
or he would not be returned to his father. When they alighted at Gumaca, they took another
tricycle, this time bound for the municipal building from where they walked to the market. Here
the man talked to a jeepney driver and handed him an envelope addressed to Dr. Enrique Agra,
the boy's father. The two then boarded a tricycle headed for San Vicente, with the man still
firmly holding Enrico, who continued crying. This aroused the suspicion of the driver, Alexander
Grate, who asked the man about his relationship with the boy. The man said he and the boy were
brothers, making Grate doubly suspicious because of the physical differences between the two
and the wide gap between their ages. Grate immediately reported the matter to two
barangay tanodswhen his passengers alighted from the tricycle. Grate and the tanods went after
the two and saw the man dragging the boy. Noticing that they were being pursued, the man told
Enrico to run fast as their pursuers might behead them. Somehow, the man managed to escape,
leaving Enrico behind. Enrico was on his way home in a passenger jeep when he met his parents,
who were riding in the hospital ambulance and already looking for him. 2chanrobles virtual law
library
At about 1:45 in the afternoon of the same day, after Enrico's return, Agra received an envelope
containing a ransom note. The note demanded P1 million for the release of Enrico and warned
that otherwise the boy would be killed. Agra thought the handwriting in the note was familiar.
After comparing it with some records in the hospital, he gave the note to the police, which
referred it to the NBI for examination. 3chanrobles virtual law library

The test showed that it bad been written by Dr. Samson Tan. 4On the other hand, Enrico was
shown a folder of pictures in the police station so be could identify the man who had detained
him, and he pointed to the picture of Pablito Domasian. 5Domasian and Tan were subsequently
charged with the crime of kidnapping with serious illegal detention in the Regional Trial Court
of Quezon. 6chanrobles virtual law library

The defense of both accused was denial and alibi. Domasian claimed that at the time of the
incident he was watching a mahjong game in a friend's house and later went to an optical clinic
with his wife for the refraction of his eyeglasses. 7Dr. Tan for his part said he was in
Manila. 8chanrobles virtual law library

After trial Judge Enrico A. Lanzanas found both accused guilty as charged and sentenced them to
suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and all accessory penalties. They were also required to
pay P200,000.00 to Dr. and Mrs. Enrique Agra as actual and moral damages and attorney's
fees.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library

In the present appeal, the accused-appellants reiterate their denial of any participation in the
incident in question. They belittle the credibility of the prosecution witnesses and submit that
their own witnesses are more believable. Tan specifically challenges the findings of the NBI and
offers anew the opposite findings of the PC/INP showing that he was not the writer of the
ransom note. He maintains that in any case, the crime alleged is not kidnapping with serious
illegal detention as no detention in an enclosure was involved. If at all, it should be denominated
and punished only as grave coercion. Finally, both Domasian and Tan insist that there is no basis
for the finding of a conspiracy between them to make them criminally liable in equal
degree.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library

First, on the credibility of the witnesses. This is assessed in the first instance by the trial judge,
whose finding in this regard is received with much respect by the appellate court because of his
opportunity to directly observe the demeanor of the witnesses on the
stand.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library

In the case at bar, Judge Lanzanas relied heavily on the testimony of the victim himself, who
positively identified Domasian as the person who detained him for three hours. The trial court
observed that the boy was "straight-forward, natural and consistent" in the narration of his
detention. The boy's naivete made him even more believable. Tirso Ferreras, Enrico's classmate
and also his age, pointed to Domasian with equal certainty, as the man who approached Enrico
when they were walking together that morning of March 11, 1982. Grate, the tricycle driver who
suspected Enrico's companion and later chased him, was also positive in identifying Domasian.
All these three witnesses did not know Domasian until that same morning and could have no ill
motive in testifying against him. By contrast, Eugenia Agtay, who testified for the defense, can
hardly be considered a disinterested witness because she admitted she had known Domasian for
3 years.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library

The defense asks why Domasian openly took Enrico to several public places if the intention was
to kidnap and detain him. That is for Domasian himself to answer. We do no have to probe the
reasons for the irrational conduct of an accused. The more important question, as we see it, is
why Domasian detained Enrico in the first place after pretending he needed the boy's help. That
is also for Domasian to explain. As for Enrico's alleged willingness to go with Domasian, this
was manifested only at the beginning, when he believed the man sincerely needed his assistance.
But he was soon disabused. His initial confidence gave way to fear when Domasian, after taking
him so far away from the hospital where he was going, restrained and threatened him if he did
not stop crying.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library

Domasian's alibi cannot stand against his positive identification by Enrico, Grate and Ferreras,
let alone the contradictions made by his corroborating witness, Dr. Irene Argosino, regarding the
time he was in the optical clinic and the manner of his payment for the refraction. 9Tan's alibi is
not convincing either. The circumstance that he may have been in Manila at the time of the
incident does not prove that he could not have written the ransom note except at that
time.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library

Concerning the note, Rule 132, Section 22, of the Rules of Court provides as follows:

The handwriting of a person may be proved by any witness who believes it to be the handwriting
of such person and has seen the person write, or has seen writing purporting to be his upon which
the witness has acted or been charged and has thus acquired knowledge of the handwriting of
such person. Evidence respecting the handwriting may also be given by a comparison, made by
the witness or the court with writings admitted or treated as genuine by the party against whom
the evidence is offered or proved to be genuine to the satisfaction of the judge.

Two expert witnesses were presented in the case at bar, one from the NBI, 10who opined that the
ransom note and the standard documents were written by one and the same person, and another
from the PC/INP 11who expressed a contrary conclusion. The trial court chose to believe the NBI
expert because his examination and analysis "was more comprehensive than the one conducted
by the PC/INP handwriting expert, who virtually limited his reliance on the perceived similarities
and dissimilarities in the pattern and style of the writing, thereby disregarding the basic principle
in handwriting identification that it is not the form alone nor anyone feature but rather a
combination of all the qualities that identify."chanrobles virtual law library

We have held that the value of the opinion of a handwriting expert depends not upon his mere
statements of whether a writing is genuine or false, but upon the assistance he may afford in
pointing out distinguishing marks, characteristics and discrepancies in and between genuine and
false specimens of writing which would ordinarily escape notice or detection from an
unpracticed observer. 12The test of genuineness ought to be the resemblance, not the formation of
letters in some other specimens but to the general character of writing, which is impressed on it
as the involuntary and unconscious result
of constitution, habit or other permanent course, and is, therefore itself permanent. 13chanrobles
virtual law library

Presented with the conflicting opinions of the witnesses in the case at bar, the Court feels that the
scales should tilt in favor of the prosecution. Significantly, the NBI opinion was bolstered by the
testimony of Agra, who believed that the ransom note was written by Tan, with whose
handwriting he was familiar because they had been working in the hospital for four years and he
had seen that handwriting every day in Tan's prescriptions and daily reports. 14

Cesar v. Sandiganbayan 15is not applicable because that case involved a forgery or the
deliberate imitation of another person's signature. In the case before us, there was in fact an effort
to disguise the ransom note writer's penmanship to prevent his
discovery.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library

As for the nature of the crime committed, Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code provides as
follows:

Art. 267. Kidnapping and serious illegal detention. - Any private individual who shall kidnap or
detain another, or in any manner deprive him of his liberty, shall suffer the penalty of reclusion
perpetua to death:chanrobles virtual law library

1. If the kidnapping or detention shall have lasted more than five


days.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library

2. If it shall have been committed simulating public


authority.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library

3. If any serious physical injuries shall have been inflicted upon the person kidnapped or
detained; of if threats to kill him shall have been made.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles
virtual law library

4. If the person kidnapped or detained shall be a minor, female or a public


officer.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library

The penalty shall be death where the kidnapping or detention was committed for the purpose of
extorting ransom from the victim or any other person; even if none of the circumstances above-
mentioned were present in the commission of the offense.

Contrary to Tan's submission, this crime may consist not only in placing a person in an enclosure
but also in detaining him or depriving him in any manner of his liberty. 16In the case at bar, it is
noted that although the victim was not confined in an enclosure, he was deprived of his liberty
when Domasian restrained him from going home and dragged him first into the minibus that
took them to the municipal building in Gumaca, thence to the market and then into the tricycle
bound for San Vicente. The detention was committed by Domasian, who was a private
individual, and Enrico was a minor at that time. The crime clearly comes under Par. 4 of the
above-quoted article.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
Tan claims that the lower court erred in not finding that the sending of the ransom note was an
impossible crime which he says is not punishable. His reason is that the second paragraph of
Article 4 of the Revised Penal Code provides that criminal liability shall be incurred "by any
person performing an act which would be an offense against persons or property, were it not for
the inherent impossibility of its accomplishment or on account of the employment of inadequate
or ineffectual means." As the crime alleged is not against persons or property but against liberty,
he argues that it is not covered by the said provision.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles
virtual law library

Tan conveniently forgets the first paragraphs of the same article, which clearly applies to him,
thus:

Art. 4. Criminal liability. - Criminal liability shall be incurred:chanrobles virtual law library

1. By any person committing a felony (delito) although the wrongful act done be different from
that which he intended.

xxx xxx xxx

Even before the ransom note was received, the crime of kidnapping with serious illegal detention
had already been committed. The act cannot be considered an impossible crime because there
was no inherent improbability of its accomplishment or the employment of inadequate or
ineffective means. The delivery of the ransom note after the rescue of the victim did not
extinguish the offense, which had already been consummated when Domasian deprived Enrico
of his liberty. The sending of the ransom note would have had the effect only of increasing the
penalty to death under the last paragraph of Article 267 although this too would not have been
possible under the new Constitution.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library

On the issue of conspiracy, we note first that it exists when two or more persons come to an
agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it, whether they act
through physical volition of one or all, proceeding severally or collectively. 17chanrobles virtual
law library

It is settled that conspiracy can be inferred from and proven by the acts of the accused
themselves when said acts point to a joint purpose and design, concerted action and community
of interests. 18In the instant case, the trial court correctly held that conspiracy was proved by the
act of Domasian in detaining Enrico; the writing of the ransom note by Tan; and its delivery by
Domasian to Agra. These acts were complementary to each other and geared toward the
attainment of the common ultimate objective, viz., to extort the ransom of P1 million in exchange
for Enrico's life.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library

The motive for the offense is not difficult to discover. According to Agra, Tan approached him
six days before the incident happened and requested a loan of at least P15,000.00. Agra said he
had no funds at that moment and Tan did not believe him, angrily saying that Agra could even
raise a million pesos if he really wanted to help. 19The refusal obviously triggered the plan to
kidnap Enrico and demand P1 million for his release.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles
virtual law library

The constitutional issues raised by Domasian do not affect the decision in this case. His claim
that he was arrested without warrant and then tortured and held incommunicado to extort a
confession from him does not vitiate his conviction. He never gave any confession. As for the
allegation that the seizure of the documents used for comparison with the ransom note was made
without a search warrant, it suffices to say that such documents were taken by Agra himself and
not by the NBI agents or other police authorities. We held in the case of People vs. Andre
Marti, 20that the Bill of Rights cannot be invoked against acts of private individuals, being
directed only against the government and its law-enforcement agencies and limitation on official
action.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library

We are satisfied that Tan and Domasian, in conspiracy with each other, committed the crime of
kidnapping as defined and penalized under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code and so deserve
the penalty imposed upon them by the trial court.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual
law library

WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is AFFIRMED, with costs against the accused-
appellants.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library

Let a copy of this decision be sent to the Commission on Human Rights for investigation of the
alleged violation of the constitutional rights of Pablito
Domasian.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library

SO ORDERED.
SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. 103119. October 21, 1992.]

SULPICIO INTOD, Petitioner, v. HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS AND PEOPLE


OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents.

Public Attorney’s Office for Petitioner.

SYLLABUS

1. CRIMINAL LAW; REVISED PENAL CODE; ARTICLE 4, PARAGRAPH 2 THEREOF AN


INNOVATION; PURPOSE; RATIONALE. — Article 4, paragraph 2 is an innovation of the
Revised Penal Code. This seeks to remedy the void in the Old Penal Code where: . . . it was
necessary that the execution of the act has been commenced, that the person conceiving the idea
should have set about doing the deed, employing appropriate means in order that his intent might
become a reality, and finally, that the result or end contemplated shall have been physically
possible. So long as these conditions were not present, the law and the courts did not hold him
criminally liable. This legal doctrine left social interests entirely unprotected. The Revised Penal
Code, inspired by the Positivist School, recognizes in the offender his formidability, and now
penalizes an act which were it not aimed at something quite impossible or carried out with means
which prove inadequate, would constitute a felony against person or against property. The
rationale of Article 4(2) is to punish such criminal tendencies.

2. ID.; ID.; ID.; LEGAL IMPOSSIBILITY; EXPLAINED; FACTUAL IMPOSSIBILITY;


EXPLAINED; CASE AT BAR. — Under this article, the act performed by the offender cannot
produce an offense against persons or property because: (1) the commission of the offense is
inherently impossible of accomplishment; or (2) the means employed is either (a) inadequate or
(b) ineffectual. That the offense cannot be produced because the commission of the offense is
inherently impossible of accomplishment is the focus of this petition. To be impossible under
this clause, the act intended by the offender must be by its nature one impossible of
accomplishment. There must be either (1) legal impossibility, or (2) physical impossibility of
accomplishing the intended act in order to qualify the act as an impossible crime. Legal
impossibility occurs where the intended acts, even if completed, would not amount to a crime.
Thus: Legal impossibility would apply to those circumstances where (1) the motive, desire and
expectation is to perform an act in violation of the law; (2) there is intention to perform the
physical act, (3) there is a performance of the intended physical act; and (4) the consequence
resulting from the intended act does not amount to a crime. The impossibility of killing a person
already dead falls in this category. On the other hand, factual impossibility occurs when
extraneous circumstances unknown to the actor or beyond his control prevent the consummation
of the intended crime. One example is the man who puts his hand in the coat pocket of another
with the intention to steal the latter’s wallet and finds the pocket empty. The case at bar belongs
to this category. Petitioner shoots the place where he thought his victim would be, although in
reality, the victim was not present in said place and thus, the petitioner failed to accomplish his
end.

3. ID.; DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PHILIPPINE AND AMERICAN LAWS REGARDING


CONCEPT AND APPRECIATION OF IMPOSSIBLE CRIMES; CASE AT BAR. — There is a
difference between the Philippine and the American laws regarding the concept and appreciation
of impossible crimes. In the Philippines, the Revised Penal Code, in Article 4(2), expressly
provided for impossible crimes and made them punishable. Whereas, in the United States, the
Code of Crimes and Criminal Procedure is silent regarding this matter. What it provided for were
attempts of the crimes enumerated in the said Code. Furthermore, in said jurisdiction, the
impossibility of committing the offense is merely a defense to an attempt charge. In this regard,
commentators and the cases generally divide the impossibility defense into two categories: legal
versus factual impossibility. . . To restate, in the United States, where the offense sought to be
committed is factually impossible of accomplishment, the offender cannot escape criminal
liability. He can be convicted of an attempt to commit the substantive crime where the elements
of attempt are satisfied. It appears, therefore, that the act is penalized, not as an impossible crime,
but as an attempt to commit a crime. On the other hand, where the offense is legally impossible
of accomplishment, the actor cannot be held liable for any crime — neither for an attempt nor for
an impossible crime. The only reason for this is that in American law, there is no such thing as
an impossible crime. Instead, it only recognizes impossibility as a defense to a crime charge —
that is, attempt. This is not true in the Philippines. In our jurisdiction, impossible crimes are
recognized. The impossibility of accomplishing the criminal intent is not merely a defense, but
an act penalized by itself. Furthermore, the phrase "inherent impossibility" that is found in
Article 4(2) of the Revised Penal Code makes no distinction between factual or physical
impossibility and legal impossibility. Ubi lex non distinguit nec nos distinguere debemos. The
factual situation in the case at bar presents physical impossibility which rendered the intended
crime impossible of accomplishment. And under Article 4, paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal
Code, such is sufficient to make the act an impossible crime. To uphold the contention of
respondent that the offense was Attempted Murder because the absence of Palangpangan was a
supervening cause independent of the actor’s will, will render useless the provision in Article 4,
which makes a person criminally liable for an act "which would be an offense against persons or
property, were it not for the inherent impossibility of its accomplishment . . ." In that case, all
circumstances which prevented the consummation of the offense will be treated as an accident
independent of the actor’s will which is an element of attempted and frustrated felonies.

DECISION

CAMPOS, JR., J.:

Petitioner, Sulpicio Intod, filed this petition for review of the decision of the Court of Appeals 1
affirming in toto the judgment of the Regional Trial Court, Branch XIV, Oroquieta City, finding
him guilty of the crime of attempted murder.chanrobles.com.ph : virtual law library
From the records, we gathered the following facts.

In the morning of February 4, 1979, Sulpicio Intod, Jorge Pangasian, Santos Tubio and Avelino
Daligdig went to Salvador Mandaya’s house in Katugasan, Lopez Jaena, Misamis Occidental and
asked him to go with them to the house of Bernardina Palangpangan. Thereafter, Mandaya and
Intod, Pangasian, Tubio and Daligdig had a meeting with Aniceto Dumalagan. He told Mandaya
that he wanted Palangpangan to be killed because of a land dispute between them and that
Mandaya should accompany the four (4) men, otherwise, he would also be killed.

At about 10:00 o’clock in the evening of the game day, Petitioner, Mandaya, Pangasian, Tubio
and Daligdig, all armed with firearms, arrived at Palangpangan’s house in Katugasan, Lopez
Jaena, Misamis Occidental. At the instance of his companions, Mandaya pointed the location of
Palangpangan’s bedroom. Thereafter, Petitioner, Pangasian, Tubio and Daligdig fired at said
room. It turned out, however, that Palangpangan was in another City and her home was then
occupied by her son-in-law and his family. No one was in the room when the accused fired the
shots. No one was hit by the gun fire.

Petitioner and his companions were positively identified by witnesses. One witness testified that
before the five men left the premises, they shouted: "We will kill you (the witness) and
especially Bernardina Palangpangan and we will come back if (sic) you were not injured." 2

After trial, the Regional Trial Court convicted Intod of attempted murder. The Court of Appeals
affirmed in toto the trial court’s decision. Hence this petition.chanrobles.com.ph : virtual law
library

This petition questions the decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), as affirmed by the Court
of Appeals, holding that Petitioner was guilty of attempted murder. Petitioner seeks from this
Court a modification of the judgment by holding him liable only for an impossible crime, citing
Article 4(2) of the Revised Penal Code which provides:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

ARTICLE 4(2). Criminal Responsibility. — Criminal Responsibility shall be


incurred:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

x x x

2. By any person performing an act which would be an offense against persons or property, were
it not for the inherent impossibility of its accomplishment or on account of the employment of
inadequate or ineffectual means.

Petitioner contends that, Palangpangan’s absence from her room on the night he and his
companions riddled it with bullets made the crime inherently impossible.

On the other hand, Respondent People of the Philippines argues that the crime was not
impossible. Instead, the facts were sufficient to constitute an attempt and to convict Intod for
attempted murder. Respondent alleged that there was intent. Further, in its Comment to the
Petition, respondent pointed out that:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
. . . The crime of murder was not consummated, not because of the inherent impossibility of its
accomplishment (Art. 4(2), Revised Penal Code), but due to a cause or accident other than
petitioner’s and his co-accused’s own spontaneous desistance (Art. 3., ibid.) Palangpangan did
not sleep at her house at that time. Had it not been for this fact, the crime is possible, not
impossible. 3

Article 4, paragraph 2 is an innovation 4 of the Revised Penal Code. This seeks to remedy the
void in the Old Penal Code where:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

. . . it was necessary that the execution of the act has been commenced, that the person
conceiving the idea should have set about doing the deed, employing appropriate means in order
that his intent might become a reality, and finally, that the result or end contemplated shall have
been physically possible. So long as these conditions were not present, the law and the courts did
not hold him criminally liable. 5

This legal doctrine left social interests entirely unprotected. 6 The Revised Penal Code, inspired
by the Positivist School, recognizes in the offender his formidability, 7 and now penalizes an act
which were it not aimed at something quite impossible or carried out with means which prove
inadequate, would constitute a felony against person or against property. 8 The rationale of
Article 4(2) is to punish such criminal tendencies. 9

Under this article, the act performed by the offender cannot produce an offense against persons
or property because: (1) the commission of the offense is inherently impossible of
accomplishment; or (2) the means employed is either (a) inadequate or (b) ineffectual. 10

That the offense cannot be produced because the commission of the offense is inherently
impossible of accomplishment is the focus of this petition. To be impossible under this clause,
the act intended by the offender must be by its nature one impossible of accomplishment. 11
There must be either (1) legal impossibility, or (2) physical impossibility of accomplishing the
intended act 12 in order to qualify the act as an impossible crime.chanrobles.com:cralaw:red

Legal impossibility occurs where the intended acts, even if completed, would not amount to a
crime. 13 Thus:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

Legal impossibility would apply to those circumstances where (1) the motive, desire and
expectation is to perform an act in violation of the law; (2) there is intention to perform the
physical act, (3) there is a performance of the intended physical act; and (4) the consequence
resulting from the intended act does not amount to a crime. 14

The impossibility of killing a person already dead 15 falls in this category.

On the other hand, factual impossibility occurs when extraneous circumstances unknown to the
actor or beyond his control prevent the consummation of the intended crime. 16 One example is
the man who puts his hand in the coat pocket of another with the intention to steal the latter’s
wallet and finds the pocket empty. 17
The case at bar belongs to this category. Petitioner shoots the place where he thought his victim
would be, although in reality, the victim was not present in said place and thus, the petitioner
failed to accomplish his end.

One American case has facts almost exactly the same as this one. In People v. Lee Kong, 18 the
accused, with intent to kill, aimed and fired at the spot where he thought the police officer would
be. It turned out, however, that the latter was in a different place. The accused failed to hit him
and to achieve his intent. The Court convicted the accused of an attempt to kill. It held
that:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

The fact that the officer was not at the spot where the attacking party imagined where he was,
and where the bullet pierced the roof, renders it no less an attempt to kill. It is well settled
principle of criminal law in this country that where the criminal result of an attempt is not
accomplished simply because of an obstruction in the way of the thing to be operated upon, and
these facts are unknown to the aggressor at the time, the criminal attempt is committed.

In the case of Stokes v. State, 19 where the accused failed to accomplish his intent to kill the
victim because the latter did not pass by the place where he was lying-in wait, the court held him
liable for attempted murder. The court explained that:chanrobles law library

It was no fault of Stokes that the crime was not committed . . . It only became impossible by
reason of the extraneous circumstance that Lane did not go that way; and further, that he was
arrested and prevented from committing the murder. This rule of the law has application only
where it is inherently impossible to commit the crime. It has no application to a case where it
becomes impossible for the crime to be committed, either by outside interference or because of
miscalculation as to a supposed opportunity to commit the crime which fails to materialize; in
short it has no application to the case when the impossibility grows out of extraneous acts not
within the control of the party.

In the case of Clark v. State, 20 The court held defendant liable for attempted robbery even if
there was nothing to rob. In disposing of the case, the court quoted Mr. Justice Bishop, to
wit:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

It being an accepted truth that defendant deserves punishment by reason of his criminal intent, no
one can seriously doubt that the protection of the public requires the punishment to be
administered, equally whether in the unseen depths of the pocket, etc., what was supposed to
exist was really present or not. The community suffers from the mere alarm of crime. Again:
‘Where the thing intended (attempted) as a crime and what is done is a sort to create alarm, in
other words, excite apprehension that the evil intention will be carried out, the incipient act
which the law of attempt takes cognizance of is in reason committed.

In State v. Mitchell, 21 defendant, with intent to kill, fired at the window of victim’s room
thinking that the latter was inside. However, at that moment, the victim was in another part of the
house. The court convicted the accused of attempted murder.
The aforecited cases are the same cases which have been relied upon by Respondent to make this
Court sustain the judgment of attempted murder against Petitioner. However, we cannot rely
upon these decisions to resolve the issue at hand. There is a difference between the Philippine
and the American laws regarding the concept and appreciation of impossible crimes.

In the Philippines, the Revised Penal Code, in Article 4(2), expressly provided for impossible
crimes and made them punishable. Whereas, in the United States, the Code of Crimes and
Criminal Procedure is silent regarding this matter. What it provided for were attempts of the
crimes enumerated in the said Code. Furthermore, in said jurisdiction, the impossibility of
committing the offense is merely a defense to an attempt charge. In this regard, commentators
and the cases generally divide the impossibility defense into two categories: legal versus factual
impossibility. 22 In U.S. v. Wilson 23 the Court held that:cralawnad

. . . factual impossibility of the commission of the crime is not a defense. If the crime could have
been committed had the circumstances been as the defendant believed them to be, it is no
defense that in reality the crime was impossible of commission.

Legal impossibility, on the other hand, is a defense which can be invoked to avoid criminal
liability for an attempt. In U.S. v. Berrigan, 24 the accused was indicted for attempting to
smuggle letters into and out of prison. The law governing the matter made the act criminal if
done without the knowledge and consent of the warden. In this case, the offender intended to
send a letter without the latter’s knowledge and consent and the act was performed. However,
unknown to him, the transmittal was achieved with the warden’s knowledge and consent. The
lower court held the accused liable for attempt but the appellate court reversed. It held
unacceptable the contention of the state that "elimination of impossibility as a defense to a
charge of criminal attempt, as suggested by the Model Penal Code and the proposed federal
legislation, is consistent with the overwhelming modern view." In disposing of this contention,
the Court held that the federal statutes did not contain such provision, and thus, following the
principle of legality, no person could be criminally liable for an act which was not made criminal
by law. Further, it said:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

Congress has not yet enacted a law that provides that intent plus act plus conduct constitutes the
offense of attempt irrespective of legal impossibility until such time as such legislative changes
in the law take place, this court will not fashion a new non-statutory law of criminal attempt.

To restate, in the United States, where the offense sought to be committed is factually impossible
of accomplishment, the offender cannot escape criminal liability. He can be convicted of an
attempt to commit the substantive crime where the elements of attempt are satisfied. It appears,
therefore, that the act is penalized, not as an impossible crime, but as an attempt to commit a
crime. On the other hand, where the offense is legally impossible of accomplishment, the actor
cannot be held liable for any crime — neither for an attempt nor for an impossible crime. The
only reason for this is that in American law, there is no such thing as an impossible crime.
Instead, it only recognizes impossibility as a defense to a crime charge — that is, attempt.

This is not true in the Philippines. In our jurisdiction, impossible crimes are recognized. The
impossibility of accomplishing the criminal intent is not merely a defense, but an act penalized
by itself. Furthermore, the phrase "inherent impossibility" that is found in Article 4(2) of the
Revised Penal Code makes no distinction between factual or physical impossibility and legal
impossibility. Ubi lex non distinguit nec nos distinguere debemos.

The factual situation in the case at bar presents physical impossibility which rendered the
intended crime impossible of accomplishment. And under Article 4, paragraph 2 of the Revised
Penal Code, such is sufficient to make the act an impossible crime.chanrobles.com.ph : virtual
law library

To uphold the contention of respondent that the offense was Attempted Murder because the
absence of Palangpangan was a supervening cause independent of the actor’s will, will render
useless the provision in Article 4, which makes a person criminally liable for an act "which
would be an offense against persons or property, were it not for the inherent impossibility of its
accomplishment . . ." In that case, all circumstances which prevented the consummation of the
offense will be treated as an accident independent of the actor’s will which is an element of
attempted and frustrated felonies.

WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, the petition is hereby GRANTED, the decision of


respondent Court of Appeals holding Petitioner guilty of Attempted Murder is hereby
MODIFIED. WE hereby hold Petitioner guilty of an impossible crime as defined and penalized
in Articles 4, paragraph 2, and 59 of the Revised Penal Code, respectively. Having in mind the
social danger and degree of criminality shown by Petitioner, this Court sentences him to suffer
the penalty of six (6) months of arresto mayor, together with the accessory penalties provided by
the law, and to pay the costs.

SO ORDERED.

Feliciano, Regalado and Nocon, Jr., JJ., concur.

Narvasa, C.J., on official leave.


SECOND DIVISION
[G.R. No. 102596. December 17, 1999]
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. NICASIO ENOJA @ Nick, JOSE
ENOJA @ Moros, ANTONIO GALUPAR @ Tony, RONNIE ENOJA @ Bud-oy, and
YOLLY ARMADA, accused-appellants.

DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:

This is an appeal from the decision dated October 31, 1990, of the Regional Trial Court, Iloilo
City, Branch 26, in Criminal Case No. 31550, convicting accused-appellants Nicasio Enoja @
Nick, Jose Enoja @ Moros, Antonio Galupar @ Tony, Ronnie Enoja @ Bud-oy, and Yolly Armada
of the crime of murder, and sentencing them as follows:

...Nicasio Enoja @ Nick, Jose Enoja @ Moros, and Antonio Galupar alias Tony, each to suffer
the penalty of reclusion perpetua; Yolly Armada to suffer an indeterminate prison sentence
ranging from ten (10) years and one (1) day of prision mayor as minimum to eighteen (18) years,
eight (8) months and one (1) day of reclusion temporal as maximum, and Ronnie Enoja alias
Bud-oy to suffer indeterminate prison sentence ranging from six (6) years and one (1) day of
prision mayor as minimum to twelve (12) years and one (1) day of reclusion temporal as
maximum and all the said accused, to pay, jointly and severally, the heirs of the deceased
Siegfred Insular the sum of P30,000.00 for his death and P19,200.00 as actual damages
representing expenses, without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency together with all
the accessory penalties provided for by law and to pay the costs. [1]

The five appellants, all farmers and residents of Barangay Caraudan, Janiuay, Iloilo, are
related to each other. Jose Enoja @ Moros, Ronnie Enoja @ Bud-oy, and Yolly Armada, are the
brother, son and first cousin, respectively, of appellant Nicasio Enoja, while Antonio Galupar is a
kumpadre. Three other accused, Joel Enoja @ Mike, Melvin Castor, and Antonio Enoja, remain
at-large.
The victim, Siegfred G. Insular, was a suspected commander of the New Peoples Army
(NPA). A day before the incident, the house of Romulo Enoja, brother of the Enojas, was allegedly
sprayed with bullets by the NPA, killing Romulos daughter and son. Before that, the house of
Catelina Enoja, mother of the Enojas, at Barangay Caraudan, was allegedly burned by the NPA.
The facts are not in dispute. In their consolidated brief, appellants adopted the factual findings
of the trial court, as follows:[2]

x x x [I]n the afternoon of July 2, 1987, at around 4:30 oclock, while Siegfred Insular and his
wife, Paterna, were on their way home from the market walking along the ricefield at Barangay
Caraudan, Janiuay, Iloilo, they saw Yolly Armada with a long firearm in hand, walking on the
other side of the field towards the same direction where the couple were going.

Paterna did not at first recognize Yolly Armada as the man on the other side of the ricefield, and
so, she called the attention of her husband saying that the man was carrying a
firearm. Recognizing the man, however, Siegfred told his wife: never mind, he is Yolly Armada.
The spouses Insular and Yolly Armada continued walking until they met ways in front of the
ricemill of Teodoro Salamanca near the chapel.Siegfred greeted Armada by nodding his head to
which Armada responded by also nodding his head. Siegfred then said We will leave but as he
and his wife were about to proceed on their way, Armada blocked the couple and pointed his
firearm to Siegfred with the barrel of the gun touching the left side of the body of the
latter. Suddenly, Armada fired his gun and as Siegfred turned his back to run, Armada fired
successive shots at him causing him to fall to the ground, wounded.

Almost simultaneously, several armed men appeared and took turns in firing at Siegfred. Among
these armed men were Nicasio Enoja alias Nick, Jose Enoja alias Moros, Antonio Galupar alias
Tony, and Ronnie Enoja alias Bud-oy. The body of the victim jerked as the accused took turns in
shooting him.

After shooting Siegfred Insular, the accused turned to his wife, Paterna, and attempted to shoot
her but Paterna Insular hugged Teodoro Salamanca who was then and there present, thus
prompting the latter to shout to the accused: do not include the girl. The accused heeded the plea
of Teodoro Salamanca and refrained from shooting Paterna Insular.

Jose Enoja then turned to his brother Antonio Enoja and fired at the latter hitting him on the
thigh. Thereafter, Jose Enoja approached Siegfred Insular who was then lying on the ground and
placed the gun he used in shooting his brother, Antonio, near the hand of Siegfred Insular. Then
Jose Enoja placed some live bullets into the pocket of Siegfred Insular. Jose Enoja called for a
hammock and, in no time at all, there was a hammock brought to the place where Antonio Enoja
was loaded and, thereafter, brought to the hospital. The body of Siegfred Insular was, however,
left lying on the ground at the scene of the incident.

Nicasio Enoja announced that they would bring Paterna Insular and Teodoro Salamanca to the
ricefield where they would be made to spend the night but Paterna pleaded to Nicasio Enoja to
just bring them to the house of Patria Alcantara about five meters away from the scene of the
incident. The accused granted the request of Paterna and brought her and Teodoro Salamanca to
the house of Patria Alcantara where they were told to stay with the warning not to get out or they
would be shot. It was only the following morning, after policemen and PC soldiers had arrived
that Paterna and Salamanca were able to go out of the house of Alcantara.

The shooting incident reached the police station of Janiuay, Iloilo upon the report of one Alfredo
Galupar, and so, a joint PC-INP team under P.C. Lt. Pangina and police station commander, Sgt.
Reynaldo Sorogon went to Barangay Caraudan and conducted investigation of the incident. That
was already around 8:00 oclock in the morning of July 3, 1987. The policemen were able to
recovery several empty shells of different caliber of firearms from the crime scene. One short
homemade firearm caliber .30, with one empty shell inside the chamber was likewise found and
recovered from the ground near the left arm of the victim.

On March 11, 1988, Provincial Fiscal Vicente E. Aragona filed an Information [3] for murder
against appellants and their three companions who were still at-large. The Information alleged:
The undersigned Provincial Fiscal accuses NICASIO ENOJA alias Nick, JOSE ENOJA alias
Moros, ANTONIO GALUPAR alias Tony, RONNIE ENOJA alias Bud-oy and YOLLY
ARMADA of the crime of Murder committed as follows:

That on or about July 2, 1987, in the Municipality of Janiuay, Province of Iloilo, Philippines, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring,
confederating and mutually helping one another with JOEL ENOJA alias Mike, MELVIN
CASTOR and ANTONIO ENOJA, who are still at large, armed with firearms and taking
advantage of superior strength to better realize their purpose, with treachery and evident
premeditation and with intent to kill, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously
attack, assault and shoot one SIEGFRED INSULAR with said weapon with which they were
then provided, thereby inflicting upon the latter gunshot wounds on the vital parts of his body
which caused his death thereafter.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

On August 5, 1988, appellants were arraigned and entered their respective pleas of not guilty.
During trial, the prosecution presented the following witnesses: Teodoro Salamanca, an
eyewitness to the shooting; Paterna Insular, widow of Siegred; Dr. Tito D. Doromal, medico-legal
officer who did the autopsy; Pfc. Juan O. Gaon, and Pfc. Moises C. Reiteracion, Integrated
National Police officers who responded to the shooting incident.
Dr. Doromal testified that the victim suffered five (5) gunshot wounds in the head and neck
area, six (6) gunshot wounds in the thoraco-abdominal regions, and two (2) gunshot wounds in the
extremities.The cause of death was maceration of the brain, secondary to gunshot wounds. [4]
Pfc. Juan O. Gaon stated that he entered the incident in the police blotter. [5] Pfc. Moises C.
Reiteracion said he was part of the team which responded to the report of the shooting incident. The
team found the body of the victim still lying on the same spot the following morning. They
recovered empty shells of different calibers and a homemade short firearm near the left arm of the
victim.[6] Pfc. Reiteracion and two companions brought the body of the victim to the funeral
home.[7]
For the defense, appellants presented Atty. David Tubongbanua, 4th Assistant Provincial
Prosecutor of Iloilo, who recommended the dismissal of the case but was overturned by the
Provincial Fiscal.Appellants themselves testified and, except for Armada, interposed the defense
of denial and alibi.
Appellant Armada pleaded self-defense in shooting Siegfred. He claimed that while he was
on his way from Barangay Quipot to Caraudan, to attend the wake of his niece and nephew, he
heard gunshots near the chapel. When he went to the place, he saw Galupar lying wounded on the
ground, shot by Siegfred. Siegfred then attempted to shoot Armada, but the latter beat him to the
draw. Armada fired successive shots at Insular with his M-2 automatic carbine. He did not see
Paterna in the vicinity. After the shooting, Salamanca, Nicasio and Arnold came out of the rice
mill. Salamanca asked what happened and Armada answered that Siegfred shot Antonio and so,
he shot Siegfred. Armada then left and surrendered to the PC station at Jibolo, Janiuay, Iloilo
City.[8]
The other appellants admitted being in the vicinity of the crime, but categorically denied any
participation in the shooting.
Nicasio claimed that he was with his son, Arnold, and Salamanca inside the latters ricemill,
milling palay when the shooting occurred.[9] However, Salamanca testified that at the time of the
incident, there was no palay milling going on.[10]
Ronnie testified that he was doing household chores in their house at Barangay Caraudan,
where his brother Rowel and sister Annelyn were lying in state, when he heard explosions coming
from the direction of the ricemill.[11] Shortly thereafter, Arnold arrived and told them that Antonio
was shot by Siegfred and requested that a hammock be brought to the scene so that Antonio could
be brought to the hospital. Ronnie, Jose, and Jonathan Lazo, Ronnies first cousin, immediately
brought the hammock to the scene of the incident. [12] Ronnie thereafter saw Paterna arrive and cry
upon seeing her slain husband. Ronnie and his companions placed Antonio in the hammock,
boarded him in a tricycle, and rushed him to the hospital. [13] On the way, Ronnie heard explosions
and when he looked back, he saw his uncle Joel Enoja alias Mike and his friend, Melvin, shooting
the prostrate body of Siegfred.[14]
Jose testified that he was at his house, about 300 meters from the scene of the crime. He was
weeding in his yard when he heard gunfire. After a short while, Arnold arrived and asked him to
bring a hammock to the scene of the incident.[15]
Galupar related that he had just finished plowing his farm and was resting in his house in
Barangay Caraudan when he heard explosions. He remained at home the whole night and only
learned of the death of Siegfred the following morning. He claimed that he was implicated in the
case because he refused to act as witness for the prosecution. [16]
On October 31, 1990, the trial court rendered a decision[17] finding appellants guilty as
charged. The trial court did not give credence to Armadas claim of self-defense inasmuch as
policemen recovered several empty bullet shells from firearms of different calibers at the scene of
the crime. The short homemade firearm found near the left arm of the victim could not have been
used by the victim since it only had one empty shell in its chamber, not to mention that the victim
was right-handed. Lastly, the trial court found it highly suspicious that Antonio, who was allegedly
shot by the victim and who could have corroborated Armadas story of self-defense, went into
hiding and had not surfaced up to the present.
In this appeal, in their joint brief,[18] appellants raise the following errors:

I. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FINDING CONSPIRACY;

II. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS GUILTY;

III. ASSUMING THEM GUILTY, THE LOWER COURT ERRED, EXCEPT FOR
APPELLANT YOLLY ARMADA, IN NOT FINDING THAT THE OFFENSE COMMITTED
WAS ONLY AN IMPOSSIBLE CRIME.

The records show that appellant Antonio Galupar died pending appeal. Pursuant to our ruling
in People v. Bayotas, 236 SCRA 239, the death of appellant Galupar pending appeal extinguished
his criminal liability as well as his civil liability ex delicto in senso strictiore.
Appellant Yolly Armada escaped from the New Bilibid Prison on September 25, 1996.[19] As
a result, his appeal was dismissed and the judgment against him became final and executory. Entry
of judgment was made on January 9, 1997.[20]
In the meantime, appellant Jose Enoja jumped bail, which also resulted in the dismissal of his
appeal. Judgment against him became final and executory, and entry of judgment was made on
March 21, 1997.[21] An appellant who escapes or refuses to surrender to the proper authorities is
deemed to have abandoned his appeal,[22] hence, the judgment against him becomes a final and
executory. Nonetheless, the appeal proceeds as to the remaining appellants, Nicasio Enoja and
Ronnie Enoja, who are now detained at the New Bilibid Prison, Muntinlupa City. Our present
review, therefore, concerns only these two appellants.
Appellants assail the trial courts finding of conspiracy by pointing out alleged inconsistencies
in the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses Salamanca and Paterna. Appellants contend that
while Salamanca testified that it was only after Armada shot the victim that the other appellants
came one after the other and fired at the victim, Paterna testified that appellants
fired successive shots at the victim, implying that all appellants were already in the crime scene
when Armada fired at Siegfred. However, close perusal of the pertinent transcript of stenographic
notes (TSN) shows no inconsistencies in the two testimonies. Paterna actually testified that after
Armada fired at her husband, the other appellants arrived one after the other (nag-arabot
abot),[23] and continued to fire at the prostrate body of her husband.The two testimonies constitute
cumulative evidence on who participated in the shooting of Siegfred. Both witnesses pointed to all
five accused-appellants.
On the matter of conspiracy, we have consistently held that conspiracy need not be shown by
direct proof of an agreement by the parties to commit the crime. The conduct of the malefactors
before, during or after the commission of the crime is sufficient to prove their conspiracy. Once
proved, the act of one becomes the act of all. All shall be answerable as co-principals regardless
of the extent or degree of their participation. [24] In this case, circumstances indubitably show that
appellants acted concertedly to kill Siegfred. First, after appellant Armada fired at the victim
incapacitating the latter, the other accused arrived almost simultaneously and took turns in
shooting the victim. The successive shots riddled the victims body with bullets. Several empty
cartridges from guns of different calibers found in the scene and the numerous wounds of the
victim indicate plurality of assailants.[25] Second, appellant Jose Enoja thereafter fired a shot at the
thigh of his brother Antonio to make it appear that the shooting was in self-defense. Third, Jose
planted a short firearm near the body of the victim and placed bullets in the pocket of the
victim. Fourth, strangely after Antonio was brought to the hospital, he conveniently disappeared
and could no longer be located by the authorities. The aforementioned acts of the appellants clearly
point to their common purpose, concert of action, and community of interest. [26]
Appellants suggest that since Paterna was crying at the time of the shooting, she could not
have clearly witnessed the commission of the crime. This contention is disingenuous, to say the
least. Paternas crying does not impair her credibility. Witnesses of startling occurrences react
differently depending upon their situation and state of mind, and there is no standard form of
human behavioral response when one is confronted with a strange, startling or frightful
experience. [27] Her powers of observation could even be heightened by the startling event to
imprint the details in her memory. We have gone over the records and find her testimony clear,
credible and consistent with the testimony of Salamanca.
Appellants further insist that the trial court erred in finding that treachery accompanied the
killing, considering that the victim was already forewarned of the impending danger when he saw
appellant Armada carrying a firearm. Appellants contend that for treachery to exist, the offended
party is completely denied of the opportunity to defend himself, but it is not so in this case.
As the Solicitor General correctly pointed out, there was nothing in the behavior of Armada
that could have forewarned the victim of an impending danger. Both the victim and Armada knew
each other.Armada even acknowledged the greeting of the victim. The latter was walking along
the ricefield with his wife[28] when he was suddenly gunned down by the appellants. The victim
gave no provocation for the attack. The essence of treachery is the sudden and unexpected attack
without the slightest provocation on the part of the person attacked. [29] Clearly, the qualifying
circumstance of treachery is present in this case.
Considering the number of the armed assailants against the lone unarmed victim, there was
also abuse of superior strength. Since treachery absorbs the aggravating circumstance of abuse of
superior strength this aggravating circumstance need not be appreciated separately. [30]
As an alternative defense, appellants present the theory that even assuming they participated
in the killing of Siegfred, they should only be held liable for the commission of an impossible
crime under Article 4, Par. 2 of the Revised Penal Code, penalized under Article 59
thereof.[31] Appellants theorize that the shots fired by Armada already resulted in the death of the
victim, and hence, their subsequent shooting of the victim merely constitutes the impossible crime
of killing an already dead person. The proposition not only completely contradicts their defense of
alibi and denial, it is also speculative as to cause of death. The defense of impossible crime is
irreconcilable with alibi.
Appellants Nicasio and Ronnie Enoja claim that they were elsewhere during the offense. For
alibi to prosper as a defense, the accused must show that he was so far away that he could not have
been physically present at the place of the crime, or its immediate vicinity at the time of its
commission[32] and that his presence elsewhere renders it impossible for him to be the guilty
party.[33] In this case, Nicasio admitted he was within the vicinity of the crime but presented the
lame excuse that he was inside Salamancas rice mill at the time of the shooting. His son, Arnold,
corroborated this testimony. But it was put in doubt by the testimony of Salamanca, who stated
that no milling of palay in his ricemill was going on at the time of the shooting. Alibi, especially
when it is corroborated mainly by relatives and friends of the accused, is held by this Court with
extreme suspicion for alibi is easy to fabricate and concoct. [34]
Both Paterna and Salamanca positively identified Nicasio Enoja as one of those who took part
in the shooting incident. Paterna categorically pointed to Ronnie Enoja as the person who shot her
husband in the right eye.[35] Appellants could not attribute any motive against these witnesses to
falsely testify against them. In the light of positive identification by witnesses who have no motive
to falsely testify, the feeble defense of alibi cannot prevail over the clear and positive identification
of the accused as the perpetrators of the crime.[36]
At the time of the commission of the crime, on July 2, 1987, the penalty for murder under
Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code was reclusion temporal in its maximum period to death.[37]
There being no mitigating nor aggravating circumstance, with respect to Nicasio Enojas
culpability, the trial court correctly imposed the penalty for murder in its medium period, [38] which
is reclusion perpetua.
With respect to appellant Ronnie Enoja, who was born on February 21, 1970, and was below
18 at the time of the commission of the crime, the trial court correctly appreciated the privileged
mitigating circumstance of minority. Thus, the penalty next lower in degree was imposed on him
in its proper period pursuant to Article 68, second paragraph of the Revised Penal Code, which
is prision mayor maximum to reclusion temporal medium. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence
Law, the maximum penalty to be imposed upon appellant Ronnie Enoja shall be taken from the
medium period of the imposable penalty, which is reclusion temporal minimum or twelve (12)
years and one (1) day to fourteen (14) years and eight (8) months, while the minimum shall be
taken from the penalty next lower in degree, which is prision correccional maximum to prision
mayor medium or four (4) years and two (2) months to ten (10) years. Consequently, the trial court
correctly imposed upon Ronnie Enoja the indeterminate sentence of six (6) years and one (1) day
of prision mayor as minimum to twelve (12) years and one (1) day of reclusion temporal as
maximum.
Pursuant to prevailing jurisprudence, the award of P30,000.00 as indemnity should be
increased to P50,000.00. However, the award of actual damages in the amount of P19,000.00
should be deleted.Credence can only be given to claims, which are duly supported by
receipts.[39] The testimony alone of the widow, that her sister-in-law incurred about P20,000.00
expenses in connection with the death of the victim, is insufficient basis to award actual damages.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo City, Branch 26, in
Criminal Case No. 31550, convicting accused-appellants Nicasio Enoja @ Nick and Ronnie Enoja
@ Bud-oy of the crime of Murder is hereby AFFIRMED, with the MODIFICATION that accused-
appellants are ordered to pay the heirs of the victim, jointly and severally, the amount of
P50,000.00 as indemnity. The award of P19,200.00 as actual damages is deleted. Costs against
appellants.
SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo, (Chairman), Mendoza, Buena, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.
EN BANC

[G.R. No. L-10126. October 22, 1957.]

SALUD VILLANUEVA VDA. DE BATACLAN and the minors NORMA, LUZVIMINDA,


ELENITA, OSCAR and ALFREDO BATACLAN, represented by their Natural guardian,
SALUD VILLANUEVA VDA. DE BATACLAN, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. MARIANO
MEDINA, Defendant-Appellant.

Lope E. Adriano, Emmanuel Andamo and Jose R. Francisco, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

Fortunato Jose, for Defendant-Appellant.

SYLLABUS

1. DAMAGES; CARRIER’S LIABILITY; WORDS AND PHRASES; PROXIMATE CAUSE


DEFINED. — "The proximate legal cause is that the acting first and producing the injury, either
immediately or by setting other events in motion., all constituting a natural and continuous chain
of events, each having a close causal connection with its immediate predecessor, the final event
in the chain immediately affecting the injury as a natural and probable result of the cause which
first acted, under such circumstances that the person responsible for the first event should, as
ordinarily prudent and intelligent person, have reasonable ground to expect at the moment of his
act or default that an injury to some person might be probably result therefrom."cralaw virtua1aw
library

2. ID.; ID.; OVERTURNING OF BUS; PROXIMATE CAUSE OF DEATH. — When a vehicle


turned not only on its side but completely on its back, the leaking of the gasoline from the tank
was not unnatural or unexpected; that the coming of the men with the lighted torch was in
response to the call for help, made not only by the passengers, but most probably by the driver
and the conductor themselves, and that because it was very dark (about 2:30 in the morning), the
rescuers had to carry a light with them; and coming as they did from a rural area where the
lanterns and flashlights were not available, they had to use a torch the most handy and available;
and what was more natural, that said rescuers should innocently approached the overtuned
vehicle to extend the aid and effect the rescue requested from them. Held: That the proximate
cause of the death of B was overturning of the vehicle thru the negligence of defendant and his
agent.

3. ID.; ID.; CARRIER’S NEGLIGENCE; BURNING OF THE BUS. — The burning of the bus
wherein some of the passengers were trapped can also be attributed to the negligence of the
carrier, through the driver and conductor who were on the road walking back and forth. They
should and must have known that in the position in which the overtuned bus was, gasoline could
and must have leaked from the gasoline tank and soaked the area in and around the bus, this
aside from the fact that gasoline when spilled, especially over a large area, can be smelt and
detected even from a distance, Held: That the failure of the driver and the conductor to have
cautioned or taken steps to warn the rescuers not to bring the lighted torch too near the bus,
constitute negligence on the part of the agents of the carrier under the provisions of the Civil
Code, particularly, Article 1733, 1759 and 1763 thereof.

DECISION

MONTEMAYOR, J.:

Shortly after midnight, on September 13, 1952, bus No. 30 of the Medina Transportation,
operated by its owner, defendant Mariano Medina, under a certificate of public convenience, left
the town of Amadeo, Cavite, on its way to Pasay City, driven by its regular chauffeur, Conrado
Saylon. There were about eighteen passengers, including the driver and conductor. Among the
passengers were Juan Bataclan, seated beside and to the right of the driver, Felipe Lara, seated to
the right of Bataclan, another passenger apparently from the Visayan Islands whom the witnesses
just called Visaya, apparently not knowing his name, seated on the left side of the driver, and a
woman named Natalia Villanueva, seated just behind the four last mentioned. At about 2 :00
o’clock that same morning, while the bus was running within the jurisdiction of Imus, Cavite,
one of the front tires burst and the vehicle began to zig-zag until it fell into a canal or ditch on the
right side of the road and turned turtle. Some of the passengers managed to leave the bus the best
way they could, others had to be helped or pulled out, while the three passengers seated beside
the driver, named Bataclan, Lara and the Visayan and the woman behind them named Natalia
Villanueva, could not get out of the overturned bus. Some of the passengers, after they had
clambered up to the road, heard groans and moans from inside the bus, particularly, shouts for
help from Bataclan and Lara, who said that they could not get out of the bus. There, is nothing in
the evidence to show whether or not the passengers already free from the wreck, including the
driver and the conductor, made any attempt to pull out or extricate and rescue the four
passengers trapped inside the vehicle, but calls or shouts for help were made to the houses in the
neighborhood. After half an hour, came about ten men, one of them carrying a lighted torch
made of bamboo with a wick on one end, evidently fueled with petroleum. These men
presumably approached the overturned bus, and almost immediately, a fierce fire started, burning
and all but consuming the bus, including the four passengers trapped inside it. It would appear
that as the bus overturned, gasoline began to leak and escape from the gasoline tank on the side
of the chassis, spreading over and permeating the body of the bus and the ground under and
around it, and that the lighted torch brought by one of the men who answered the call for help set
it on fire.

That same day, the charred bodies of the four doomed passengers inside the bus were removed
and duly identified, specially that of Juan Bataclan. By reason of his death, his widow, Salud
Villanueva, in her name and in behalf of her five minor children, brought the present suit to
recover from Mariano Medina compensatory, moral, and exemplary damages and attorney’s fees
in the total amount of P87,150. After trial, the Court of First Instance of Cavite awarded P1,000
to the plaintiffs, plus P600 as attorney’s fee, plus P100, the value of the merchandise being
carried by Bataclan to Pasay City for sale and which was lost in the fire. The plaintiffs and the
defendants appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals, but the latter court endorsed the appeal
to us because of the value involved in the claim in the complaint.

Our New Civil Code amply provides for the responsibility of a common carrier to its passengers
and their goods. For purposes of reference, we are reproducing the pertinent codal
provisions:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"ART. 1733. Common carriers, from the nature of their business and for reasons of public
policy, are bound to observe extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods and for the
safety of the passengers transported by them, according to all the circumstances of each case.

Such extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods is further expressed in articles 1734,
1735, and 1745, Nos. 5, 6, and 7 while the extraordinary diligence for the safety of the
passengers is further set forth in articles 1755 and 1756."cralaw virtua1aw library

"ART. 1755. A common carrier is bound to carry the passengers safely as far as human care and
foresight can provide, using the utmost diligence of very cautious persons, with a due regard for
all the circumstances."cralaw virtua1aw library

"ART. 1756. In case of death of or injuries to passengers, common carriers are presumed to have
been at fault or to have acted negligently, unless they prove that they observed extraordinary
diligence as prescribed in articles 1733 and 1755."cralaw virtua1aw library

"ART. 1759. Common carriers are liable for the death of or injuries to passengers through the
negligence or wilful acts of the former’s employees, although such employees may have acted
beyond the scope of their authority or in violation of the orders of the common carriers.

This liability of the common carriers does not cease upon proof that they exercised all the
diligence of a good father of a family in the selection and supervision of their employees."cralaw
virtua1aw library

"ART. 1763. A common carrier is responsible for injuries suffered by a passenger on account of
the wilful acts or negligence of other passengers or of strangers, if the common carrier’s
employees through the exercise of the diligence of a good father of a family could have
prevented or stopped the act or omission."cralaw virtua1aw library

We agree with the trial court that the case involves a breach of contract of transportation for hire,
the Medina Transportation having undertaken to carry Bataclan safely to his destination, Pasay
City. We also agree with the trial court that there was negligence on the part of the defendant,
through his agent, the driver Saylon. There is evidence to show that at the time of the blow out,
the bus was speeding, as testified to by one of the passengers, and as shown by the fact that
according to the testimony of the witnesses, including that of the defense, from the point where
one of the front tires burst up to the canal where the bus overturned after zig-zagging, there was a
distance of about 150 meters. The chauffeur, after the blow-out, must have applied the brakes in
order to stop the bus, but because of the velocity at which the bus must have been running, its
momentum carried it over a distance of 150 meters before it fell into the canal and turned turtle.
There is no question that under the circumstances, the defendant carrier is liable. The only
question is to what degree. The trial court was of the opinion that the proximate cause of the
death of Bataclan was not the overturning of the bus, but rather, the fire that burned the bus,
including himself and his co-passengers who were unable to leave it; that at the time the fire
started, Bataclan, though he must have suffered physical injuries, perhaps serious, was still alive,
and so damages were awarded, not for his death, but for the physical injuries suffered by him.
We disagree. A satisfactory definition of proximate cause is found in Volume 38, pages 695-696
of American Jurisprudence, cited by plaintiffs-appellants in their brief. It is as
follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

". . .’that cause, which, in natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by any efficient
intervening cause, produces the injury, and without which the result would not have occurred.’
And more comprehensively, ‘the proximate legal cause is that acting first and producing the
injury, either immediately or by setting other events in motion, all constituting a natural and
continuous chain of events, each having a close causal connection with its immediate
predecessor, the final event in the chain immediately effecting the injury as a natural and
probable result of the cause which first acted, under such circumstances that the person
responsible for the first event should, as an ordinarily prudent and intelligent person, have
reasonable ground to expect at the moment of his act or default that an injury to some person
might probably result therefrom."cralaw virtua1aw library

It may be that ordinarily, when a passenger bus overturns, and pins down a passenger, merely
causing him physical injuries, if through some event, unexpected and extraordinary, the
overturned bus is set on fire, say, by lightning, or if some highwaymen after looting the vehicle
sets it on fire, and the passenger is burned to death, one might still contend that the proximate
cause of his death was the fire and not the overturning of the vehicle. But in the present case and
under the circumstances obtaining in the same, we do not hesitate to hold that the proximate
cause of the death of Bataclan was the overturning of the bus, this for the reason that when the
vehicle turned not only on its side but completely on its back, the leaking of the gasoline from
the tank was not unnatural or unexpected; that the coming of the men with a lighted torch was in
response to the call for help, made not only by the passengers, but most probably, by the driver
and the conductor themselves, and that because it was very dark (about 2:30 in the morning), the
rescuers had to carry a light with them; and coming as they did from a rural area where lanterns
and flashlights were not available, they had to use a torch, the most handy and available; and
what was more natural than that said rescuers should innocently approach the overturned vehicle
to extend the aid and effect the rescue requested from them. In other words, the coming of the
men with the torch was to be expected and was a natural sequence of the overturning of the bus,
the trapping of some of its passengers and the call for outside help. What is more, the burning of
the bus can also in part be attributed to the negligence of the carrier, through its driver and its
conductor. According to the witnesses, the driver and the conductor were on the road walking
back and forth. They, or at least, the driver should and must have known that in the position in
which the overturned bus was, gasoline could and must have leaked from the gasoline tank and
soaked the area in and around the bus, this aside from the fact that gasoline when spilled,
specially over a large area, can be smelt and detected even from a distance, and yet neither the
driver nor the conductor would appear to have cautioned or taken steps to warn the rescuers not
to bring the lighted torch too near the bus. Said negligence on the part of the agents of the carrier
come under the codal provisions above- reproduced, particularly, Articles 1733, 1759 and 1763.

As regards the damages to which plaintiffs are entitled, considering the earning capacity of the
deceased, as well as the other elements entering into a damage award, we are satisfied that the
amount of SIX THOUSAND (P6,000) PESOS would constitute satisfactory compensation, this
to include compensatory, moral, and other damages. We also believe that plaintiffs are entitled to
attorney’s fees, and assessing the legal services rendered by plaintiffs’ attorneys not only in the
trial court, but also in the course of the appeal, and not losing sight of the able briefs prepared by
them, the attorney’s fees may well be fixed at EIGHT HUNDRED (P800) PESOS. The award
made by the trial court of ONE HUNDRED (P100) PESOS for the loss of the merchandise
carried by the deceased in the bus, is adequate and will not be disturbed.

There is one phase of this case which disturbs if it does not shock us. According to the evidence,
one of the passengers who, because of the injuries suffered by her, was hospitalized, and while in
the hospital, she was visited by the defendant Mariano Medina, and in the course of his visit, she
overheard him speaking to one of his bus inspectors, telling said inspector to have the tires of the
bus changed immediately because they were already old, and that as a matter of fact, he had been
telling the driver to change the said tires, but that the driver did not follow his instructions. If this
be true, it goes to prove that the driver had not been diligent and had not taken the necessary
precautions to insure the safety of his passengers. Had he changed the tires, specially those in
front, with new ones, as he had been instructed to do, probably, despite his speeding, as we have
already stated, the blow out would not have occurred. All in all, there is reason to believe that the
driver operated and drove his vehicle negligently, resulting in the death of four of his passengers,
physical injuries to others, and the complete loss and destruction of their goods, and yet the
criminal case against him, on motion of the fiscal and with his consent, was provisionally
dismissed, because according to the fiscal, the witnesses on whose testimony he was banking to
support the complaint, either failed to appear or were reluctant to testify. But the record of the
case before us shows that several witnesses, passengers in that bus, willingly and unhesitatingly
testified in court to the effect that the said driver was negligent. In the public interest, the
prosecution of said erring driver should be pursued, this, not only as a matter of justice, but for
the promotion of the safety of passengers on public utility buses. Let a copy of this decision be
furnished the Department of Justice and the Provincial Fiscal of Cavite.

In view of the foregoing, with the modification that the damages awarded by the trial court are
increased from ONE THOUSAND (P1,000) PESOS to SIX THOUSAND (P6,000) PESOS, and
from SIX HUNDRED PESOS TO EIGHT HUNDRED (P800) PESOS, for the death of Bataclan
and for attorney’s fees, respectively, the decision appealed from is hereby affirmed, with costs.

Paras, C.J., Bengzon, Padilla, Reyes, A., Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Concepcion., Reyes, J. B.
L., Endencia and Felix, JJ., concur.
SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. NO. 182750 : January 20, 2009]

RODEL URBANO, Petitioner, v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,Respondent.

DECISION

VELASCO, JR., J.:

This Petition for Review under Rule 45 seeks to reverse and set aside the Decision 1 dated
January 25, 2008 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 25371 which affirmed with
modification the April 30, 2001 Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 39 in
Lingayen, Pangasinan in Criminal Case No. L-5028. The RTC found petitioner Rodel Urbano
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Homicide.

The Facts

In an Information filed before the RTC, petitioner was charged with Homicide, committed as
follows:

That on or about the 28th of September 1993 in the evening, in Barangay Poblacion,
Municipality of Lingayen, Province of Pangasinan, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with intent to kill, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault, hit and maul Brigido Tomelden, inflicting upon him
mortal injuries and as borne out from the autopsy report the following findings:

EXTERNAL FINDINGS:

A - Softened portion of the scalp over (R) occipito-temporal area about 5 inches above and
posterior to the (R) ear.

B - Clotted blood over the (R) occipito-temporal area.

C - No lacerations noted.

INTERNAL FINDINGS:

A - On opening the skull there is oozing of dark colored blood from the brain substances.

B - More darked blood vessels at the (L) side of the brain.

CAUSE OF DEATH:

Cardio-respiratory arrest secondary to cerebral concussion with resultant cerebral hemorrhage


due to mauling incident.
Which directly caused his death, to the damage and prejudice of the heirs of the said Brigido
Tomelden.

CONTRARY to Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code.

Petitioner, when arraigned, pleaded not guilty to the charge. Following the parties' waiver of pre-
trial, trial on the merits then ensued.

As summarized in the decision subject of review, the prosecution's evidence established the
following facts:

On September 28, 1993, at around 8:00 p.m., the victim Brigido Tomelden and petitioner were at
the compound of the Lingayen Water District (LIWAD) in Lingayen, Pangasinan, having just
arrived from a picnic in the nearby town of Bugallon, Pangasinan, where, with some other co-
workers, they drunk beer in a restaurant. While inside the compound, the two had a heated
altercation in the course of which Tomelden hurled insulting remarks at petitioner. Reacting,
petitioner asked why Tomelden, when drunk, has the penchant of insulting petitioner.

The exchange of words led to an exchange of blows. Cooler heads succeeded in breaking up the
fight, but only for a brief moment as the protagonists refused to be pacified and continued
throwing fist blows at each other. Then petitioner delivered a "lucky punch," as described by
eyewitness Orje Salazar, on Tomelden's face, which made Tomelden topple down. Tomelden
was on the verge of hitting his head on the ground had their companions not caught him and
prevented the fall. The blow, however, caused Tomelden's nose to bleed and rendered him
unconscious.

Petitioner and his other co-workers brought Tomelden to the office of the LIWAD general
manager where he spent the night. He remained in the compound the following day, September
29, 1993. Upon arriving home at around 6:00 p.m. of that day, Tomelden informed his wife,
Rosario, of the fight the previous night and of his having been rendered unconscious. He
complained of pain in his nape, head, and ear which impelled Rosario to immediately bring him
to the Lingayen Community Hospital where Dr. Daisy Arellano examined him and treated his
lacerated left index finger, contusions, and hematoma at the right cerebrum.

On October 2 and 7, 1993, Tomelden went back to the hospital complaining of dizziness,
headache, and other pains. The attending doctors observed the patient to be in a state of
drowsiness and frequent vomiting. On October 8, 1993, Rosario brought Tomelden to the Sison
Memorial Provincial Hospital in Dagupan City, where the attending physician, Dr. Ramon
Ramos, diagnosed Tomelden suffering from "brain injury, secondary to mauling to consider
cerebral hemorrhage."3

Tomelden was confined in the provincial hospital until 3:00 p.m. of October 10, 1993, and, due
to financial constraints, was thereafter discharged despite signs negating physical condition
improvement. Upon reaching their house, however, Tomelden again complained of extreme head
pain, prompting his wife to bring him back to the Lingayen Community Hospital where Dr.
Arellano again attended to him. This time, things turned for the worst, the doctor noting that
Tomelden appeared to be semi-conscious, sleepy, uncooperative, and not responding to any
stimulant. Tomelden died at 9:00 p.m. of that day due, per Dr. Arellano, to "cardio-respiratory
arrest secondary to cerebral concussion with resultant cerebral hemorrhage due to mauling
incident."

The defense presented petitioner who denied having any intention to kill, asserting that
hypertension, for which Tomelden was receiving treatment, was the cause of the latter's death.

The Ruling of the RTC

On April 30, 2001, the RTC rendered judgment finding petitioner guilty as charged. The fallo of
the RTC's decision reads:

WHEREFORE, the prosecution having established beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of the
accused of the crime of HOMICIDE as defined and penalized under Art. 249 of the Revised
Penal Code, this Court in the absence of any modifying circumstances, hereby sentences said
accused to suffer the indeterminate prison term of eight (8) years and one (1) day of Prision
Mayor as minimum to seventeen (17) years and four (4) months of Reclusion Temporal as
maximum and to indemnify the legal heirs of the victim in the amount of PHP50,000.00, plus
cost of the suit.

The period of preventive imprisonment suffered by the accused shall be credited in full in the
service of his sentence in accordance with Art. 29 of the Revised Penal Code. 4

Therefrom, petitioner appealed to the CA, his recourse docketed as CA-G.R. CR No. 25371.

The Ruling of the CA

On January 25, 2008, the CA rendered a decision, affirming the conviction of petitioner, but
awarding moral damages to the heirs of Tomelden, disposing as follows:

WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, the appeal of the accused-appellant is DISMISSED.
The decision appealed from is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION that an award of P50,000.00
moral damages is GRANTED.

Remand of the records should immediately follow finality for the consequent execution of the
decision.5

The appellate court held that the commission by petitioner of the crime of homicide, as defined
and penalized under Article 2496 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), had been proved beyond
moral certainty of doubt, pointing to the lucky punch as the proximate cause of Tomelden's
hospitalization and ultimately his death. And like the RTC, the CA found no qualifying
circumstance to increase or lower the penalty.

Following the denial of petitioner's motion for reconsideration, per the CA Resolution7 of April
24, 2008, he interposed this petition.
The Issues

On essentially the same issues raised before the CA, petitioner now urges the Court to set aside
the appealed decision, or at least modify it, maintaining that the appellate court:

I. x x x erred in affirming the decision of the [RTC] finding [him] guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime charged.

II. x x x erred in not appreciating the mitigating circumstances of sufficient provocation on the
part of the victim and lack of intent to commit so grave a wrong in favor of the petitioner. 8

The Court's Ruling

The petition is partly meritorious.

Homicide Duly Proved

It is petitioner's threshold posture that the fistic injury Tomelden sustained was not "the main
underlying cause of his death."9 In this regard, petitioner draws attention to the fact that the fist
fight in question happened on September 28, 1993. Tomelden, however, died only on October
10, 1993 or 12 days thereafter and that, during the intervening days, particularly September 29,
1993, the deceased regularly reported for work. Moreover, petitioner avers that days prior to the
fateful incident of September 28, 1993, Tomelden failed to come to work as he was suffering
from malignant hypertension and that this circumstance greatly engenders doubt as to the
proximate cause of the victim's death. Petitioner, thus, contends that he could only be adjudged
guilty of physical injuries.10

We are not persuaded.

The prosecution witness, Salazar, testified about petitioner's lucky punch hitting Tomelden right
smack on the face. And even if Tomelden's head did not hit the ground as his co-workers averted
that actuality, that punch gave him a bleeding nose and rendered him unconscious right after the
September 28, 1993 fight. From then on, Tomelden was in and out of the hospital complaining of
headache, among other pains, until his demise on October 10, 1993, or 12 days after the blow
that made Tomelden unconscious.

Significantly, Dr. Arellano testified conducting an autopsy on the body of Tomelden and stressed
that the "softened portion of the scalp over (R) occipito-temporal area about 5 inches above and
posterior to the (R) ear" of the victim could have been caused by a fist blow. She also opined that
the fist blow which landed on Tomelden's head could have shaken his brain which caused the
cerebral concussion; and that the cause of the victim's death was "cardio-respiratory arrest
secondary to cerebral concussion with resultant cerebral hemorrhage due to mauling incident."

The combined effects of the testimonies of Salazar and Dr. Arellano, buttressed by that of
Rosario who related about her husband's post September 28, 1993 severe head pain, clearly
establish beyond cavil the cause of Tomelden's death and who was liable for it.
The CA observed aptly:

It was through the direct accounts of the prosecution witnesses of the events that transpired
during the fisticuff incident x x x more specifically the landing of the "lucky punch" on the face
of [Tomelden], taken together with the result of the medical examinations and autopsy report
which described the death of the victim as "cardio-respiratory arrest secondary to cerebral
concussion with resultant cerebral hemorrhage due to mauling incident" that we are convinced
that the "lucky punch" was the proximate cause of [Tomelden's] death. The prosecution had
satisfactorily proven that it was only after the incident that transpired on September 28, 1993 that
the victim was hospitalized on several occasions until he expired, twelve days later x x x. It is
moreover of no consequence whether the victim was able to report for work during the
intervening days x x x.

We find no reason to depart from the doctrinal rule that great weight is accorded the factual
findings of the trial court, particularly with respect to the ascertainment of the credibility of
witnesses. There was absence of any ill motive on the part of x x x Salazar who in fact testified
that he was a friend of both [petitioner] and [Tomelden]; more so on the part of the attending
physicians.11 x x x

Petitioner's suggestion that Tomelden succumbed to heart ailment and/or that his death was the
result of his malignant hypertension is untenable, given that the post-mortem report yields no
positive indication that he died from such malady.

Mitigating Circumstances Present

Petitioner next contends that the mitigating circumstances of no intention to commit so grave a
wrong and sufficient provocation on the part of the victim ought to be appreciated in petitioner's
favor.

On this score, we agree with petitioner.

Paragraphs 3 and 4 of Art. 13, RPC provide as follows:

Art. 13. Mitigating circumstances. The following are mitigating circumstances:

xxx

3. That the offender had no intention to commit so grave a wrong as that committed.

4. That sufficient provocation or threat on the part of the offended party immediately preceded
the act.

When the law speaks of provocation either as a mitigating circumstance or as an essential


element of self-defense, the reference is to an unjust or improper conduct of the offended party
capable of exciting, inciting, or irritating anyone; 12 it is not enough that the provocative act be
unreasonable or annoying;13 the provocation must be sufficient to excite one to commit the
wrongful act14 and should immediately precede the act.15 This third requisite of self-defense is
present: (1) when no provocation at all was given to the aggressor; (2) when, even if provocation
was given, it was not sufficient; (3) when even if the provocation was sufficient, it was not given
by the person defending himself; or (4) when even if a provocation was given by the person
defending himself, it was not proximate and immediate to the act of aggression. 16

In the instant case, Tomelden's insulting remarks directed at petitioner and uttered immediately
before the fist fight constituted sufficient provocation. This is not to mention other irritating
statements made by the deceased while they were having beer in Bugallon. Petitioner was the
one provoked and challenged to a fist fight.

Petitioner's unrebutted testimony on the events immediately preceding the fisticuff and earlier
dovetails with the testimony of Salazar.

In gist, petitioner testified being, in the afternoon of September 28, 1993, in the nearby town of
Bugallon for a picnic. He was with Tomelden and several others, including Dominador Navarro,
Chairperson of LIWAD. At a restaurant in Bugallon, the group ordered goat's meat and drank
beer. When it was time to depart, Navarro asked petitioner to inform Tomelden, then seated in
another table, to prepare to leave.

When so informed, Tomelden insulted petitioner, telling the latter he had no business stopping
him from further drinking as he was paying for his share of the bill. Chastised, petitioner
returned to his table to report to Navarro. At that time, petitioner saw that Tomelden had already
consumed 17 bottles of beer. In all, the group stayed at the picnic place for three and a half hours
before returning to the LIWAD.

Upon reaching the LIWAD compound, Tomelden allegedly slapped and hurled insults at him,
calling him "sipsip" just to maintain his employment as Navarro's tricycle driver. Tomelden
allegedly then delivered several fist and kick blows at petitioner, a couple of which hit him
despite his evasive actions. Petitioner maintained that he only boxed the victim in retaliation,
landing that lucky punch in the course of parrying the latter's blows.

The following testimony of Salazar attests to the provocative acts of Tomelden and to his being
the aggressor:

PROSECUTOR CHIONG

Q After you heard from the accused those remarks, what if any did the victim replied if
any?cralawred

WITNESS

A They exchanged angry words, sir.

Q What were these words?cralawred


A Rodel Urbano said, "When you re already drunk, you keep on insulting me."

Q And what was the reply if any?cralawred

A 'Akina tua lanti".

PROS. CHIONG

Q Who said that?cralawred

WITNESS

A It was Brigido Tomelden, sir.

Q And what transpired next?cralawred

A After that they exchange words, sir. " If you like we will have a fist fight" he said.

Q Who said that?cralawred

A Brigido Tomelden said.

Q At that time, were you already inside the compound of the LIWAD?cralawred

A Yes, sir.

Q After the victim allegedly told the accused, "If you want a fist fight," what transpired
next?cralawred

A Rodel Urbano said, "if it is a fist fight we fight."17

Q And when you were already in the compound of LIWAD Office, Brigido Tomelden was
challenging the accused for a fist fight?cralawred

A Yes, sir.

Q And the accused refused to accept the challenge?cralawred

A Yes because Mr. Brigido Tomelden is very much bigger than Mr. Rodel Urbano. He is
stouter than the accused.

Q But finally the fist fight took place?cralawred

A Yes, sir.18

PROS. CHIONG
Q When the victim and this accused had this fight, fist fight, they exchanged blows, but there
was this lucky punch that hit the victim because the victim fall down, is that correct?cralawred

A When I stop pacifying them x x x, I saw Biring the late Brigido Tomelden, he was much
aggressive than the accused, sir.

Q You mean that although it was the victim who was more aggressive than the accused here, he
also [threw] punches but sometime some of his punches most of which did not hit the
victim?cralawred

A He tried to parry the blows of the late Brigido Tomelden, sir.

Q Because he tried to parry the blow of the Brigido Tomelden, when the accused throw punches,
the punch was directed to the victim but most of them did not hit the victim, is that what you
saw?cralawred

A Yes, sir.19 (Emphasis added.)

It is abundantly clear from the above transcript that the provocation came from Tomelden. In
fact, petitioner, being very much smaller in height and heft, had the good sense of trying to avoid
a fight. But as events turned out, a fisticuff still ensued, suddenly ending when petitioner's lucky
punch found its mark. In People v. Macaso,20 a case where the accused police officer shot and
killed a motorist for repeatedly taunting him with defiant words, the Court appreciated the
mitigating circumstance of sufficient provocation or threat on the part of the offended party
immediately preceding the shooting. The Court had the same attitude in Navarro v. Court of
Appeals,21 a case also involving a policeman who killed a man after the latter challenged him to
a fight. Hence, there is no rhyme or reason why the same mitigating circumstance should not be
considered in favor of petitioner.

Moreover, the mitigating circumstance that petitioner had no intention to commit so grave a
wrong as that committed should also be appreciated in his favor. While intent to kill may be
presumed from the fact of the death of the victim, this mitigating factor may still be considered
when attendant facts and circumstances so warrant, as in the instant case. Consider: Petitioner
tried to avoid the fight, being very much smaller than Tomelden. He tried to parry the blows of
Tomelden, albeit he was able, during the scuffle, to connect a lucky punch that ended the fight.
And lest it be overlooked, petitioner helped carry his unconscious co-worker to the office of the
LIWAD's general manager. Surely, such gesture cannot reasonably be expected from, and would
be unbecoming of, one intending to commit so grave a wrong as killing the victim. A bare-
knuckle fight as a means to parry the challenge issued by Tomelden was commensurate to the
potential violence petitioner was facing. It was just unfortunate that Tomelden died from that
lucky punch, an eventuality that could have possibly been averted had he had the financial means
to get the proper medical attention. Thus, it is clear that the mitigating circumstance of "no
intention to commit so grave a wrong as that committed" must also be appreciated in favor of
petitioner while finding him guilty of homicide. That petitioner landed a lucky punch at
Tomelden's face while their co-workers were trying to separate them is a compelling indicium
that he never intended so grave a wrong as to kill the victim.
Withal, with no aggravating circumstance and two mitigating circumstances appreciable in favor
of petitioner, we apply par. 5 of Art. 64, RPC, which pertinently provides:

Art. 64. Rules for the application of penalties which contain three periods. In cases in which the
penalties prescribed by law contain three periods, whether it be a single divisible penalty or
composed of three different penalties, each one of which forms a period in accordance with the
provisions of Articles 76 and 77, the courts shall observe for the application of the penalty the
following rules, according to whether there are or are no mitigating or aggravating
circumstances:

xxx

5. When there are two or more mitigating circumstances and no aggravating circumstances are
present, the court shall impose the penalty next lower to that prescribed by law, in the period that
it may deem applicable, according to the number and nature of such circumstances.

The prescribed penalty for homicide under Art. 249 of the RPC is reclusion temporal or from 12
years and one day to 20 years. With the appreciation of two mitigating circumstances of no
intention to commit so grave a wrong as that committed and of sufficient provocation from the
victim, and the application of par. 5 of Art. 64, RPC, the imposable penalty would, thus, be the
next lower penalty prescribed for homicide and this should be prision mayor or from six years
and one day to 12 years. Consequently, with the application of the Indeterminate Sentence Law,
petitioner ought to be incarcerated from prision correccional as minimum and prision mayor as
maximum. In view of the circumstances of the case, considering that the petitioner never meant
or intended to kill the victim, a prison term of eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor as
maximum period is proper while the period of two (2) years and four (4) months of prision
correccional as minimum period is reasonable.

We find no reason to modify the award of civil indemnity and moral damages.

WHEREFORE, the CA Decision dated January 25, 2008 in CA-G.R. CR No. 25371 is, in the
light of the presence and the appreciation of two mitigating circumstances in favor of petitioner,
hereby MODIFIED by decreasing the term of imprisonment. As thus modified, petitioner Rodel
Urbano is hereby sentenced to serve an indeterminate prison term of from two (2) years and four
(4) months of prision correccional, as minimum, to eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision
mayor, as maximum, with whatever imprisonment he has already served fully credited in the
service of this sentence. The rest of the judgment is hereby AFFIRMED.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.
SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. Nos. L-28324-5. May 19, 1978.]

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. RAFAEL MARCO,


SIMEON MARCO and DULCISIMO BELTRAN, Defendants. RAFAEL
MARCO, Defendant-Appellant.

Jose P. Bengzon (Counsel de Oficio) for Appellant.

Solicitor General Felix V. Makasiar, Assistant Solicitor General Felisicimo R. Rosete and
Solicitor Teodulo R. Diño for Appellee.

SYNOPSIS

Simeon Marco, son of appellant Rafael, approached Constancio Sabelbero and after asking him
if he were the one who boxed his (Simeon’s) brother the year before, brandished a hunting knife,
which caused Constancio to run away. While thus running, he passed by appellant who hit him
with a cane causing him slight physical injuries. When Simeon was about to pursue Constancio,
the latter’s father, Vicente, who was in the crowd, grabbed Simeon’s hand that was holding the
knife. When Vicente, however, saw that appellant, who was holding a round cane and a hunting
knife, was approaching them, he shouted to Constancio and to his other son Bienvenido who
appeared in the scene to run away, which they did, as he himself released Simeon and ran away.
Appellant followed Bienvenido and stabbed him, but the latter parried the blow which caused
injuries to his left hand. Bienvenido tried to run farther but his feet got entangled with some
vines and he fell down. Whereupon, Beltran, who came from nowhere, stabbed him near the
anus, followed by Simeon who stabbed him on the left side of the breast. Thereafter, Bienvenido
died. On the theory that there was obvious conspiracy among appellants Rafael, Simoen, and
Beltran, the trial court convicted them of murder. Only Rafael appealed.

The Supreme Court ruled that the act of appellant stabbing the victim which caused injuries to
the latter’s left hand is separate from the fatal stabs inflicted by his two co-accused, because the
existence of bad blood between the families of the deceased and the accused which could have
established commonality of intent on the part of the three accused was denied by both parties.
Moreover, there was no clear evidence connecting the act of appellant in trying to stab the victim
which caused the latter injuries on the left hand, with the fatal stabs inflicted by his two other co-
accused.

SYLLABUS

1. CRIMINAL LAW; CONSPIRACY; INFERENCE MUST BE INELUDIBLE. — The fact that


the acts of each of three accused followed one after the other in rather fast succession, as if
propelled by a common and concerted design does not by itself prove criminal conspiracy. In
order that mere simultaneity of the acts of several accused may justify the conclusion that they
had conspired together, the inference must be ineludible.
2. ID.; ID.; CONCLUSIVE PROOF REQUIRED. — Conspiracy requires conclusive proof to
maintain in full strength the substance of the time-honored principle of criminal law requiring
proof beyond reasonable doubt before conviction.

3. ID.; ID.; GREATER PROOF NECESSARY WHERE ASSAULTS WERE NOT


SIMULTANEOUS BUT SUCCESSIVE. — In a situation where the assaults were not
simultaneous but successive, greater proof is demanded to establish concert of criminal design.

4. ID.; ID.; EFFECT. — A person may be convicted for the criminal act of another where,
between them, there has been conspiracy or unity of purpose and intention in the commission of
the crime charged. In other words, the accused must be shown to have had guilty participation in
the criminal design entertained by the slayer, and this presupposes knowledge on his port of such
criminal design. It is not enough that there be a relation between the acts done by the principal
and those attributed to the person charged as co-principal or accomplice; it is furthermore,
necessary that the latter, with knowledge of the former’s criminal intent, should cooperate with
moral or material aid in the consummation of the crime.

5. ID.; CRIMINAL LIABILITY. — A person is criminally liable for the consequences which
may naturally and logically result from a felony which he intentionally commits although the
wrongful act done be different from that which he intended. However, where the consequences
produced have resulted from a distinct act or fact absolutely foreign from the criminal act, the
offender is not responsible for such consequence.

6. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE. — In line with the


constitutional presumption of innocence of an accused, one who inflicts a stab wound at the back
of the left hand of a victim is presumed to have no homicidal intent in the absence of clear and
convincing evidence that he was in conspiracy with this other co-accused who have thereafter
fatally attacked said victim.

7. CRIMINAL LAW; PHYSICAL INJURIES; CRIMINAL LIABILITY. — A person causing a


stab wound 2 1/2 inches wide at the back of the left hand of another is guilty only of slight
physical injuries where there is no evidence as to the period of incapacity or medical attendance
consequent of such wound.

DECISION

BARREDO, J.:

Appeal by accused Rafael Marco from the judgment of the Court of First Instance of Zamboanga
del Sur in Criminal Case No. 2757, entitled People of the Philippines versus Rafael Marco,
Dulcisimo Beltran and Simeon Marco, the dispositive part of which reads
thus:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"WHEREFORE, the Court renders judgment as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

(1) In Criminal Case No. 2757, the Court finds Rafael Marco, Dulcisimo Beltran, and Simeon
Marco, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Murder, qualified by abuse of superior
strength; and hereby sentences Rafael Marco, who has neither aggravating circumstance against
him or any mitigating circumstance in his favor, to RECLUSION PERPETUA. Simeon Marco
and Dulcisimo Beltran, who surrendered voluntarily, are hereby sentenced EACH to an
indeterminate penalty consisting of TEN (10) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY of prision mayor, as
minimum, to SEVENTEEN (17) YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS, and ONE (1) DAY of reclusion
temporal, as maximum.

"The Court further sentences the three defendants to pay, jointly and severally, to the heirs of
Bienvenido Sabelbero, the amount of P6,000.00, to suffer the accessory penalties of the law, and
to pay the costs." (Page 69, Record.)

Actually, there were two cases filed against appellant in connection with two successive phases
of a single occurrence. The two cases were consolidated and tried together. In Criminal Case No.
2757, he was charged together with his son Simeon and one Dulcisimo Beltran with the alleged
murder of one Bienvenido Sabelbero. 1 In Criminal Case 2758, he was charged together also
with his son Simeon with frustrated murder allegedly committed against Constancio Sabelbero, a
brother of Bienvenido. In this second case, herein appellant was found guilty only of slight
physical injuries and sentenced to twelve (12) days of arresto menor. He did not appeal. Simeon
was acquitted.chanrobles law library

The incident in question took place on November 5, 1964 at about 2:3o o’clock in the afternoon
within the vicinity of the market place of Barrio Subang, Pagadian, Zamboanga del Sur. There
was a fiesta being celebrated, but it was raining The details, according to the evidence, are as
follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

Constancio Sabelbero was approached by Simeon Marco who asked him if he was the one who
boxed the latter’s brother the previous year. Constancio denied. Then Simeon asked if he had
cigarettes and when he said he had none, Simeon said, "I have cigarettes; here is my cigarette",
as he pulled out a one-foot long hunting knife. Frightened, Constancio ran away and Simeon
chased him. As Constancio was passing by the place were appellant Rafael Marco, the father of
Simeon, was standing, Rafael struck Constancio with a round cane, hitting him on the left ear
and left shoulder. This was the basis of the information in Criminal Case No. 2758, where
appellant was convicted of slight physical injuries and his son, Simeon, was acquitted.

Vicente, the father of Constancio, happened to be standing in the crowd and heard shouts of
"Fight! Fight!" He saw Simeon about to stab Constancio, so he grabbed the hand of Simeon that
was holding the knife.

At this juncture, Rafael Marco approached Vicente armed with a cane and a hunting knife.
Sensing danger, Vicente shouted to his son Constancio, who had been hit by Rafael, and his
other son Bienvenido, who appeared on the scene to run away because the Marcos were armed.
Constancio was able to run away. So also Vicente. Bienvenido who was being chased by Rafael
was stabbed by the latter, and when he parried the blow, he was wounded on the left hand. After
being stabbed by Rafael, Bienvenido still tried to run farther, but unluckily, his foot got caught in
a vine on the ground and he fell, whereupon, out of nowhere, Dulcisimo Beltran, who was
accused with herein appellant and who did not appeal his conviction, arrived and stabbed
Bienvenido near his anus while he was in the position described in the record thus" (Witness
demonstrating with his two hands touching the floor and his both feet [sic] in a forward
position)." (p. 24, t.s.n.) Beltran was followed by Simeon, 2 who stabbed Bienvenido on the left
breast and the upper part of the left arm. Afterwards, Rafael, Simeon and Beltran ran away.
"Bienvenido Sabelbero stood up slowly and walked zigzagly towards the store of Pinda and
when he arrived in front of the store, he fell to the ground." (p. 27, t.s.n.)

When Vicente came to know that his son Bienvenido was wounded, he went to the store of Pinda
and found him lying there. Vicente asked him what happened, "Bienvenido Sebelvero answered
that he was wounded because he was ganged up by them and immediately after that he died." (p.
28, t.s.n.)

For the purposes of this appeal, the foregoing facts We have gathered from the recorded evidence
and which coincide substantially with the findings and basis of the appealed decision are more or
less admitted by appellant in the brief of his counsel de oficio to be more credible version of
what happened. Nevertheless, counsel has assigned seven alleged errors of the trial court,
although the whole thrust of this appeal revolves around the issue of whether or not with what
has been proven, as narrated above, to be the participation of appellant in the phase of the
incident that led to the death of Bienvenido, said appellant, Rafael Marco, may be held liable for
murder, as found by the court below.chanrobles law library

It will be recalled that the whole incident was started by Simeon Marco, the son of Rafael, who
approached Constancio and after asking him if he was the one who boxed his (Simeon’s) brother
the year before, brandished a hunting knife, which caused Constancio to run away. While thus
running, he passed by appellant who hit him with a round cane. Such was the first phase of the
incident subject of this case. According to the trial court for such act of Rafael, he was guilty of
slight physical injuries, since "it is safe to assume that at that moment there was no intent to kill
any one."cralaw virtua1aw library

As to the second phase, according to the evidence, when Simeon was about to pursue
Constancio, Vicente grabbed Simeon’s hand that was holding the knife. But when Vicente saw
that Rafael, who was holding a round cane and a hunting knife, was approaching them, he
shouted to Constancio and to his other son Bienvenido who was around to run away, which they
did, as he himself released Simeon and ran away. Rafael followed Bienvenido and stabbed him,
but the latter parried the blow with his left hand, And as Bienvenido was trying to run farther,
unluckily, his feet got entangled with some vines and he fell down. Whereupon, Beltran, who
came from nowhere, stabbed him near the anus, followed by Simeon who stabbed him on the left
side of the breast.

Upon these facts, the People maintain that appellant is as guilty as Simeon and Beltran of the
killing of Bienvenido, the theory being that there was obvious conspiracy among them.
The trouble with the evidence of the prosecution is that it is vague and incomplete. For instance,
as to the first phase of the incident, the relative positions and distances from each other of the
three protagonist, Simeon, Constancio and Rafael are not revealed. How far Rafael was from
Simeon and Constancio when Simeon sort of threatened him with a knife is not clear. Neither is
it shown how Rafael happened to be in the path of Constancio when the latter was running away
from Simeon, such that Rafael was able to hit him with a cane. In this situation, We do not feel
safe in concluding that there was concerted connection between the act of Simeon, on the one
hand, and that of Rafael, on the other. Thus, the trial court was correct in acquitting Simeon and
holding Rafael guilty only of slight physical injuries instead of frustrated murder as charged.

Likewise, in regard to the second phase of the incident, We are at a loss as to what Bienvendio
was actually doing and what participation he had at the early stages of the incident, when
Vicente shouted to him to run away. 3 The pertinent portion of testimony of the lone eye-
witness, Dominador Carbajosa, is as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Q Then what happened?

"A Then Vicente Sebolvero held the arm of Simeon Marco and at the same time Vicente
Sebolvero shouted to his sons, Constancio and Bienvenido Sebolvero to run away because they
were all armed.

Q This Vicente Sebolvero you mentioned, how is he related to Constancio and Bienvenido
Sebolvero?

A Vicente Sebolvero is the father.

Q Do you know if Constancio Sebolvero and Bienvenido Sebolvero ran away?

A Yes, they ran away.

Q. This Bienvenido Sebolvero, where was he when this incident happened?

A He was only a few meters away.

Q What happened to him?

A He was overtaken by Rafael Marco and he was stabbed by Rafael Marco.

Q Who stabbed him?

A Rafael Marco.

Q Will you tell the Honorable Court what part of the body of Bienvenido Sebolvero did Rafael
Marco stab?
A Bienvenido Sebolvero was able to parry the thrust which was directed to his left side and he
was not wounded and instead in parrying the thrust he was wounded on the hand.

Q Do you know what kind of weapon did Rafael Marco use in inflicting injuries upon
Bienvenido Sebolvero?

A I know.

Q What kind of weapon?

A A Flamingco or hunting knife.

Q Then after Rafael Marco inflicted injuries upon Bienvenido Sebolvero, what happened to
Bienvenido Sebolvero?

A While Bienvenido Sebolvero was trying to run away his feet were wrapped by the vine of the
cover crop and he fell down and right at that time Dulcisimo Beltran approached him and
stabbed Bienvenido Sebolvero near his anus.

"ATTY. ORGANO —

(Addressing the Court)

If Your Honor please, I would like to make it of record that the witness indicated to a portion
above his body which is above the anus.

(To the witness)

Q What was the position of Bienvenido Sebolvero when this Dulcisimo Beltran stabbed him?

A In this manner. (Witness demonstrating with his two hands touching the floor and his both feet
in a forward position).

Q Then when Dulcisimo Beltran stabbed him in that position what happened next?

A While Bienvenido Sebolvero was in that position, he was stabbed by Simeon Marco on the left
breast and because he was able to parry the weapon he was wounded on the upper part of his left
hand.

Q This Dulcisimo Beltran whom you said stabbed Bienvenido Sebolvero, do you know what was
his weapon?

A I know.

Q What was his weapon?


A Bayonet.

Q This Dulcisimo Beltran, according to you, stabbed Bienvenido Sebolvero near the buttock? . . .
.

ATTY. PIELAGO —

Misleading, Your Honor.

COURT —

This witness testified that this Bienvenido Sebolvero was stabbed near the anus.

(To the witness)

Q This Dulcisimo Beltran whom you said also stabbed Bienvenido (Beltran,) is he here in court?

A Yes, sir.

Q Please point to him?

A That one. (Witness pointing to accused Ducisimo Beltran).

"Q This Simeon Marco whom you said stabbed Bienvenido Sebolvero on the left breast and
hand, is he here in court?

A Yes, sir.

Q Where is he?

A That one. (Witness pointing to accused Simeon Marco).

Q Do you know what kind of weapon did Simeon Marco use in stabbing the left arm of
Bienvenido Sebolvero?

A I know.

Q What kind of weapon?

A A bayonet.

(To the direct examiner)

Proceed.

ATTY. ORGANO —
(continuing)

Q Presenting to you this weapon . . . . (counsel hands over the same to the witness) . . . . Will you
tell the Honorable Court whether this is the very weapon used by Simeon Marco in stabbing
Bienvenido Sebolvero?

A It is shorter than this one.

Q Now, during that time that Rafael Marco, Simeon Marco and Dulcisimo Beltran were
inflicting injuries on the body of Bievenido Sebolvero, what did the father of Bienvenido
Sebolvero do? Where were they at that time?

A Constancio Sebolvero and the father ran away and they have not seen the incident.

Q Do you remember if the father of Bienvenido Sebolvero ever ran afterwards?

A No, sir.

Q Now, what happened to Bienvenido Sebolvero after Rafael Marco, Dulcisimo Beltran and
Simeon Marco stabbed him?

A They ran away and after they ran away, Bienvenido Sebolvero stood up slowly and walked
zigzagly towards the store of Pinda and when he arrived in front of the store he fell down to the
ground. (Pp. 23-27, t.s.n.)

The nearest indication of Bienvenido’s position vis-a-vis those of the Marcos and Beltran at the
moment that Vicente was holding the hand of Simeon appears only in the cross-examination of
Garbajosa, when he said that "Bienvenido Sabelvero, was nearer to the three accused" than either
Vicente or Constancio, which makes the whole matter more confusing.

As matters stand, Our problem is to determine whether or not the act of Rafael in stabbing
Bienvenido is a separate one from the stabbing of said deceased by the two other accused who
did not appeal Simeon Marco and Dulcisimo Beltran. To be sure, the acts of each of the three of
them followed one after the other in rather fast succession, as if propelled by a common and
concerted design, but this circumstance alone does not prove criminal conspiracy. In order that
mere simultaneity or near simultaneity of the acts of several accused may justify the conclusion
that they had conspired together, the inference must be ineludible.chanrobles virtual lawlibrary

It would seem that there must have been some bad blood between the Sabelberos and the Marcos
but Vicente categorically denied that there was any misunderstanding between them and
although Constancio suggested that there was, he was quick in adding that the same had been
patched up. This makes commonality of intent on the part of the three accused not necessarily
existent.

As already stated, Simeon and Beltran did not appeal from the decision of the trial court which
credited them with the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender and imposed on them the
penalty of only Ten (10) Years and One (1) Day of prision mayor, as minimum, to Seventeen
(17) Years, Four (4) Months and One (1) Day of reclusion temporal as maximum. And indeed
there can be no doubt as to the homicidal character of their assault on Bienvenido. In the case of
herein appellant, while it is true that he somehow started the aggression by trying to stab
Bienvenido, and did cause him injury on the left hand, there is no clear evidence connecting his
act with those of Beltran and Simeon. As We have noted earlier, Beltran came out of nowhere
and it is not shown that Rafael saw him before the latter stabbed Bienvenido near the anus. On
the other hand, the most that We can gather from Carbajosa’s testimony is that Simeon was
being held by Vicente, when Rafael tried to chase Bienvenido. In any event, if Rafael had any
intention to really kill Bienvenido, he did not have to await for Simeon and Beltran to do it.
Bienvenido had fallen to the ground, and that was the chance to finish with him. But here is
precisely where the prosecution’s evidence is incomplete. The distance and relative position of
Rafael from where Bienvenido fell are not indicated. What appears instead is that Beltran and
Simeon were the ones who stabbed him fatally. What Rafael did or where he was after
Bienvenido fell and while Beltran and Simeon were assaulting has not been shown.

We find the following ratiocination of appellant’s counsel de oficio to be well


taken:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"2. The evidence on record does not show beyond reasonable doubt that appellant acted in
conspiracy with the two other accused in the actual killing of the decedent.

"This Honorable Court has established the rule that conspiracy, although implied or indirect,
must nonetheless, be positively and convincingly proved and established. (People v. Apelgido,
76 Phil. 571). Only recently, this Honorable Tribunal said, through the pen of Mr. Justice Fred
Ruiz Castro, that:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

". . . As a facile device by which an accused may be ensnared and kept within the penal fold,
conspiracy requires conclusive proof if we are to maintain in full strength the substance of the
time-honored principle of criminal law requiring proof beyond reasonable doubt before
conviction. . . ." (People v. Tividad, L-21469, June 30, 1967; 20 SCRA 549, 554; Emphasis
supplied).

The Court also laid down the following norm in the said case of People v.
Tividad:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

". . . It is undubitably clear from the record that the accused did not attack the deceased
simultaneously. Even if they did, this would not of itself indicated the existence of a conspiracy
among them as simultaneity per se is not a badge of conspiracy, absent the requisite concurrence
of wills. It is not sufficient that the attack is joint and simultaneous; it is necessary that the
assailants are animated by one and the same purpose (U.S. v. Magcomot, 13 Phil. 386, 389;
People v. Caballero, 53 Phil. 584, 595-596). Evidently, in a situation where the assaults were not
simultaneous but successive, greater proof is demanded to establish concert of criminal design.
The evidence for the prosecution shows that the assaults on the deceased were carried out by the
accused successively." (Id., pp. 554-55; Emphasis supplied)
"As happened in the Tividad case, the facts established by the evidence here show that appellant
did not attack the decedent simultaneously and in concert with the two other accused. From the
testimony of Dominador Carbajosa, it will be seen that: (1) It was the appellant who went after
the decedent first. And the situation at that moment was this: Simeon Marco was chasing
Constancio Sebelbero while appellant, on the other hand, was approaching Vicente Sebelbero.
The latter had just shouted to his two sons to run away when the appellant overtook the decedent
and stabbed at him. Accused Dulcisimo Beltran, it will be noted, was not yet a participant. (2)
After the appellant wounded the decedent on the hand, the latter continued running. There is no
evidence however, that appellant continued running after him. (3) While running, the decedent
ripped and fell down. Accused Dulcisimo Beltran just came from nowhere and stabbed the
decedent near the anus. It will be noted that from the time appellant wounded the decedent on the
hand up to the time Dulcisimo Beltran stabbed him at the basic, an appreciable length of time
lapsed. There is no evidence just how far Dulcisimo Beltran was from the decedent when the
latter fell. Neither is there evidence that the decedent was running in the direction of Dulcisimo
Beltran. The evidence is only that Dulcisimo Beltran came upon the decedent who had fallen to
the ground and immediately stabbed him. (4) After Dulcisimo Beltran had stabbed the decedent,
Simeon Marco, who earlier had been chasing Constancio Sebelbero, came also and stabbed the
decedent. From Dominador Carbajosa’s testimony, it appears that there was no appreciable lapse
of time between the stabbing by Dulcisimo Beltran and that by Simeon Marco. (5) There is no
showing that appellant joined his two other accused during or immediately after their stabbing of
the decedent. Carbajosa merely stated that after the stabbing, "they ran away" (Session of Sept.
13, 1965; t.s.n., p. 27).

"From the foregoing, this Honorable Court will see that the stabbing of the decedent by the three
accused (including appellant) was not simultaneous. Rather, it was successive, with appellant
inflicting the first blow. And, Dulcisimo Beltran and Simeon Marco were nowhere around yet. It
was only after the decedent fell down that the latter two came and successively stabbed him. The
manner in which the incident occurred indicates that there was no preconceived plan among the
three accused to kill the decedent. It strongly suggests, on the other hand, that Dulcisimo Beltran
and Simeon Marco participated suddenly, unexpectedly and without any previous agreement.

"Another interesting point to observe is that there is absolutely no showing that appellant knew
of the criminal intentions of Dulcisimo Beltran or Simeon Marco as to the decedent. There is no
proof that appellant chased the decedent in the direction of Simeon Marco or Dulcisimo Beltran.
It was not even shown that appellant knew that Dulcisimo Beltran was around at the start. As to
Simeon Marco, it will be remembered that when appellant started after decedent, Simeon Marco
was running after Constancio Sebelbero. Hence, appellant could not have intentionally chased
the decedent in the direction of Simeon Marco. Besides, as previously pointed out already, there
is no evidence showing that appellant ran after or chased the decedent at all. Dominador
Carbajosa said only that appellant overtook the decedent who was just nearby and then stabbed
at him (Session of Sept. 13, 1965; t.s.n., p. 23). Likewise, there is no evidence that after the
decedent ran again, the appellant continued going after him.

"Neither is there any showing that after the decedent was able to run away from the appellant
with only a slight wound on the hand, the latter shouted to Dulcisimo Beltran or Simeon Marco
for assistance. As the facts were related by the star prosecution witness, Dulcisimo Beltran and
Simeon Marco just came upon the fallen decedent and stabbed him. There is no showing that
Dulcisimo Beltran and Simeon Marco fell upon the decedent in response to shout or cries from
the appellant. Lastly, there is no proof that while Simeon Marco and Dulcisimo Beltran were
stabbing the decedent, appellant gave them any inciting or encouraging words, or that he even
joined them.

"The point appellant wants to established with all the foregoing considerations is that the
prosecution utterly failed to establish the guilty knowledge and assent of appellant concerning
the criminal design of Dulcisimo Beltran and Simeon Marco. And the established rule is
that:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

x x x

". . . a person may be convicted for the criminal act of another where, between them, there has
been conspiracy or unity of purpose and intention in the commission of the crime charged. In
other words, the accused must be shown to have had guilty participation in the criminal design
entertained by the slayer, and this presupposes knowledge on his port of such criminal design. It
is not enough that there be a relation between the acts done by the principal and those attributed
to the person charged as co-principal or accomplice; it is furthermore, necessary that the latter,
with knowledge of the former’s criminal intent, should cooperate with moral or material aid in
the consummation of the crime . . . ." (People v. Ibañez, 77 Phil. 664, 665-666; Emphasis
supplied).

"The trial court, therefore, seriously erred in holding appellant responsible together with
Dulcisimo Beltran and Simeon Marco for the death of the decedent on the basis of indirect
conspiracy.

"3. Appellant cannot be held liable for the death of decedent under Article 4(1) of the Revised
Penal Code.

"Article 4, paragraph 1, of the Revised Penal Code provides that, ‘criminal liability shall be
incurred by any person committing a felony (delito) although the wrongful act done be different
from that which he intended.’ Under this provision, one who commits an intentional felony is
responsible for all the consequences which may naturally and logically result therefrom, whether
foreseen or intended or not. (I Reyes, The Revised Penal Code, 6th ed., p. 62).

"It cannot be denied that the stabbing of the decedent by the appellant which caused a slight
wound on the former’s hand was intentionally made; hence, felony. However, the ensuing death
of the decedent was not the direct, natural, and logical consequence of the wound inflicted by the
appellant. There was an active intervening cause, which was no other than the sudden and
unexpected appearance and participation of Simeon Marco and Dulcisimo Beltran. And there is
authority that if the consequences produced have resulted from a distinct act or fact absolutely
foreign from the criminal act, the offender is not responsible for such consequence. (People v.
Rellin, 77 Phil. 1038; I Reyes, 75). (Pp. 18-22, Appellant’s brief — pp. 53-57, Record.)
All circumstances considered, We are not convinced beyond reasonable doubt that appellant was
in any conspiracy with Simeon and Beltran to kill Bienvenido or any of the Sabelberos. In the
absence of clear and convincing evidence, We can only speculate as to why appellant did not
join his son, Simeon, and Beltran in attacking Bienvenido after he had fallen to the ground.
Either the two were too fast for him and were thus able to act ahead of him or that he voluntarily
desisted from further pursuing the deceased after hitting him on the left hand. In line with the
presumption of innocence which We are constitutionally bound to accord him, We are
constrained to hold that he had no homicidal intent. He can be held criminally responsible only
for the wound on the back of the left hand of the deceased which is described as a "stab wound,
2-1/2 inches wide at the back of the left hand" by witness Felix S. Toledo, the Sanitary Inspector,
who examined the corpse. And there being no evidence as to the period of incapacity or medical
attendance consequence to said wound, appellant is guilty only of slight physical injuries.
(Aquino, The Revised Penal Code, Vol. II, p. 1258, 1961 ed.)

IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the decision appealed from is hereby modified, and in
its stead appellant is found guilty only of slight physical injuries and hereby sentenced to suffer
the penalty of twenty (20) days of arresto menor, and to pay the costs.

Fernando (Chairman), Aquino, Concepcion, Jr. and Santos, JJ., concur.


FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 186412 : September 07, 2011]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. ORLITO


VILLACORTA, ACCUSED-APPELLANT.

DECISION

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:

On appeal is the Decision[1] dated July 30, 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C.
No. 02550, which affirmed the Decision[2] dated September 22, 2006 of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC), Branch 170, of Malabon, in Criminal Case No. 27039-MN, finding accused-appellant
Orlito Villacorta (Villacorta) guilty of murder, and sentencing him to suffer the penalty
of reclusion perpetua and to pay the heirs of Danilo Cruz (Cruz) the sum of P50,000.00 as civil
indemnity, plus the costs of suit.

On June 21, 2002, an Information[3] was filed against Villacorta charging him with the crime of
murder, as follows:

That on or about 23rd day of January 2002, in Navotas, Metro Manila, and within the jurisdiction
of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, armed with a sharpened bamboo stick, with
intent to kill, treachery and evident premeditation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously attack, assault and stab with the said weapon one DANILO SALVADOR CRUZ,
thereby inflicting upon the victim serious wounds which caused his immediate death.

When arraigned on September 9, 2002, Villacorta pleaded not guilty.[4]

During trial, the prosecution presented as witnesses Cristina Mendeja (Mendeja) and Dr.
Domingo Belandres, Jr. (Dr. Belandres).

Mendeja narrated that on January 23, 2002, she was tending her sari-sari store located at C-4
Road, Bagumbayan, Navotas. Both Cruz and Villacorta were regular customers at Mendeja's
store. At around two o'clock in the morning, while Cruz was ordering bread at Mendeja's store,
Villacorta suddenly appeared and, without uttering a word, stabbed Cruz on the left side of
Cruz's body using a sharpened bamboo stick. The bamboo stick broke and was left in Cruz's
body. Immediately after the stabbing incident, Villacorta fled. Mendeja gave chase but failed to
catch Villacorta. When Mendeja returned to her store, she saw her neighbor Aron removing the
broken bamboo stick from Cruz's body.[5] Mendeja and Aron then brought Cruz to Tondo
Medical Center.[6]

Dr. Belandres was Head of the Tetanus Department at the San Lazaro Hospital. When Cruz
sustained the stab wound on January 23, 2002, he was taken to the Tondo Medical Center, where
he was treated as an out-patient. Cruz was only brought to the San Lazaro Hospital on February
14, 2002, where he died the following day, on February 15, 2002. While admitting that he did
not personally treat Cruz, Dr. Belandres was able to determine, using Cruz's medical chart and
diagnosis, that Cruz died of tetanus infection secondary to stab wound. [7] Dr. Belandres
specifically described the cause of Cruz's death in the following manner:

The wound was exposed x x - spurs concerted, the patient developed difficulty of opening the
mouth, spastivity of the body and abdominal pain and the cause of death is hypoxic
encephalopathy - neuro transmitted - due to upper G.I. bleeding x x x. Diagnosed of Tetanus,
Stage III.[8]

The prosecution also intended to present Dr. Deverni Matias (Dr. Matias), who attended to Cruz
at the San Lazaro Hospital, but the prosecution and defense agreed to dispense with Dr. Matias'
testimony based on the stipulation that it would only corroborate Dr. Belandres' testimony on
Cruz dying of tetanus.

For its part, the defense presented Villacorta himself, who denied stabbing Cruz. Villacorta
recounted that he was on his way home from work at around two o'clock in the morning of
January 21, 2002. Upon arriving home, Villacorta drank coffee then went outside to buy
cigarettes at a nearby store. When Villacorta was about to leave the store, Cruz put his arm
around Villacorta's shoulder. This prompted Villacorta to box Cruz, after which, Villacorta went
home. Villacorta did not notice that Cruz got hurt. Villacorta only found out about Cruz's death
upon his arrest on July 31, 2002.[9]

On September 22, 2006, the RTC rendered a Decision finding Villacorta guilty of murder,
qualified by treachery. The dispositive portion of said Decision reads:

WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, the Court finds accused Orlito Villacorta guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Murder and is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty
of reclusion perpetua and to pay the heirs of Danilo Cruz the sum of P50,000.00 as civil
indemnity for the death of said victim plus the costs of suit. [10]

Villacorta, through his counsel from the Public Attorney's Office (PAO), filed a notice of appeal
to assail his conviction by the RTC.[11] The Court of Appeals directed the PAO to file Villacorta's
brief, within thirty days from receipt of notice.

Villacorta filed his Appellant's Brief[12] on May 30, 2007; while the People, through the Office of
the Solicitor General (OSG), filed its Appellee's Brief [13] on October 2, 2007.

On July 30, 2008, the Court of Appeals promulgated its Decision affirming in toto the RTC
judgment of conviction against Villacorta.

Hence, Villacorta comes before this Court via the instant appeal.

Villacorta manifested that he would no longer file a supplemental brief, as he was adopting the
Appellant's Brief he filed before the Court of Appeals.[14] The OSG, likewise, manifested that it
was no longer filing a supplemental brief. [15]
In his Appellant's Brief, Villacorta raised the following assignment of errors:

THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT


GUILTY OF THE CRIME CHARGED DESPITE THE FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION
TO PROVE HIS GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.

II

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN APPRECIATING THE QUALIFYING


CIRCUMSTANCE OF TREACHERY.

III

ASSUMING ARGUENDO THAT THE ACCUSED COMMITTED A CRIME, HE COULD


ONLY BE HELD LIABLE FOR SLIGHT PHYSICAL INJURIES. [16]

Villacorta assails the credibility of Mendeja, an eyewitness to the stabbing incident. It was
Mendeja who positively identified Villacorta as the one who stabbed Cruz in the early morning
of January 23, 2002. Villacorta asserts that Mendeja's account of the stabbing incident is replete
with inconsistencies and incredulities, and is contrary to normal human experience, such as: (1)
instead of shouting or calling for help when Villacorta allegedly stabbed Cruz, Mendeja
attempted to run after and catch Villacorta; (2) while, by Mendeja's own account, there were
other people who witnessed the stabbing and could have chased after Villacorta, yet, oddly, only
Mendeja did; (3) if Cruz was stabbed so swiftly and suddenly as Mendeja described, then it
would have been physically improbable for Mendeja to have vividly recognized the perpetrator,
who immediately ran away after the stabbing; (4) after the stabbing, both Villacorta and Cruz ran
in opposite directions; and (5) Mendeja had said that the bamboo stick, the alleged murder
weapon, was left at her store, although she had also stated that the said bamboo stick was left
embedded in Cruz's body. Villacorta maintains that the aforementioned inconsistencies are
neither trivial nor inconsequential, and should engender some doubt as to his guilt.

We are not persuaded.

To begin with, it is fundamental that the determination by the trial court of the credibility of
witnesses, when affirmed by the appellate court, is accorded full weight and credit as well as
great respect, if not conclusive effect. Such determination made by the trial court proceeds from
its first-hand opportunity to observe the demeanor of the witnesses, their conduct and attitude
under grilling examination, thereby placing the trial court in the unique position to assess the
witnesses' credibility and to appreciate their truthfulness, honesty and candor. [17]

In this case, both the RTC and the Court of Appeals gave full faith and credence to the testimony
of prosecution witness Mendeja. The Court of Appeals rejected Villacorta's attempts to impugn
Mendeja's testimony, thus:
Appellant's reason for concluding that witness Mendeja's testimony is incredible because she did
not shout or call for help and instead run after the appellant, fails to impress the Court because
persons who witness crimes react in different ways.

"x x x the makings of a human mind are unpredictable; people react differently and there is no
standard form of behavior when one is confronted by a shocking incident.

Equally lacking in merit is appellant's second reason which is, other persons could have run after
the appellant after the stabbing incident. As explained by witness Mendeja, the other person
whom she identified as Aron was left to assist the appellant who was wounded. Further, the
stabbing occurred at 2:00 o'clock in the morning, a time when persons are expected to be asleep
in their house, not roaming the streets.

His [Villacorta's] other argument that the swiftness of the stabbing incident rendered impossible
or incredible the identification of the assailant cannot likewise prosper in view of his admission
that he was in the store of witness Mendeja on January 23, 2002 at 2:00 o'clock in the morning
and that he assaulted the victim by boxing him.

Even if his admission is disregarded still the evidence of record cannot support appellant's
argument. Appellant and the victim were known to witness Mendeja, both being her friends and
regular customers. There was light in front of the store. An opening in the store measuring 1 and
¼ meters enables the person inside to see persons outside, particularly those buying articles
from the store. The victim was in front of the store buying bread when attacked. Further,
immediately after the stabbing, witness Mendeja ran after the appellant giving her additional
opportunity to identify the malefactor. Thus, authorship of the attack can be credibly
ascertained.[18]

Moreover, Villacorta was unable to present any reason or motivation for Mendeja to fabricate
such a lie and falsely accuse Villacorta of stabbing Cruz on January 23, 2002. We have ruled
time and again that where the prosecution eyewitness was familiar with both the victim and
accused, and where the locus criminis afforded good visibility, and where no improper motive
can be attributed to the witness for testifying against the accused, then her version of the story
deserves much weight.[19]

The purported inconsistencies in Mendeja's testimony pointed out by Villacorta are on matters
that have no bearing on the fundamental fact which Mendeja testified on: that Villacorta stabbed
Cruz in the early morning of January 23, 2002, right in front of Mendeja's store.

In the face of Mendeja's positive identification of Villacorta as Cruz's stabber, Villacorta could
only muster an uncorroborated denial. Denial, like alibi, as an exonerating justification, is
inherently weak and if uncorroborated, regresses to blatant impotence. Like alibi, it also
constitutes self-serving negative evidence which cannot be accorded greater evidentiary weight
than the declaration of credible witnesses who testify on affirmative matters. [20]

Hence, we do not deviate from the foregoing factual findings of the RTC, as affirmed by the
Court of Appeals.
Nevertheless, there is merit in the argument proffered by Villacorta that in the event he is found
to have indeed stabbed Cruz, he should only be held liable for slight physical injuries for the stab
wound he inflicted upon Cruz. The proximate cause of Cruz's death is the tetanus infection, and
not the stab wound.

Proximate cause has been defined as "that cause, which, in natural and continuous sequence,
unbroken by any efficient intervening cause, produces the injury, and without which the result
would not have occurred."[21]

In this case, immediately after he was stabbed by Villacorta in the early morning of January 23,
2002, Cruz was rushed to and treated as an out-patient at the Tondo Medical Center. On
February 14, 2002, Cruz was admitted to the San Lazaro Hospital for symptoms of severe
tetanus infection, where he died the following day, on February 15, 2002. The prosecution did
not present evidence of the emergency medical treatment Cruz received at the Tondo Medical
Center, subsequent visits by Cruz to Tondo Medical Center or any other hospital for follow-up
medical treatment of his stab wound, or Cruz's activities between January 23 to February 14,
2002.

In Urbano v. Intermediate Appellate Court,[22] the Court was confronted with a case of very
similar factual background as the one at bar. During an altercation on October 23, 1980, Urbano
hacked Javier with a bolo, inflicting an incised wound on Javier's hand. Javier was treated by
Dr. Meneses. On November 14, 1980, Javier was rushed to the hospital with lockjaw and
convulsions. Dr. Exconde, who attended to Javier, found that Javier's serious condition was
caused by tetanus infection. The next day, on November 15, 1980, Javier died. An Information
was filed against Urbano for homicide. Both the Circuit Criminal Court and the Intermediate
Appellate Court found Urbano guilty of homicide, because Javier's death was the natural and
logical consequence of Urbano's unlawful act. Urbano appealed before this Court, arguing that
Javier's own negligence was the proximate cause of his death. Urbano alleged that when Dr.
Meneses examined Javier's wound, he did not find any tetanus infection and that Javier could
have acquired the tetanus germs when he returned to work on his farm only two (2) weeks after
sustaining his injury. The Court granted Urbano's appeal.

We quote extensively from the ratiocination of the Court in Urbano:

The issue, therefore, hinges on whether or not there was an efficient intervening cause from the
time Javier was wounded until his death which would exculpate Urbano from any liability for
Javier's death.

We look into the nature of tetanus-

"The incubation period of tetanus, i.e., the time between injury and the appearance of
unmistakable symptoms, ranges from 2 to 56 days. However, over 80 percent of patients become
symptomatic within 14 days. A short incubation period indicates severe disease, and when
symptoms occur within 2 or 3 days of injury the mortality rate approaches 100 percent.

"Non-specific premonitory symptoms such as restlessness, irritability, and headache are


encountered occasionally, but the commonest presenting complaints are pain and stiffness in the
jaw, abdomen, or back and difficulty swallowing. As the disease progresses, stiffness gives way
to rigidity, and patients often complain of difficulty opening their mouths. In fact, trismus is the
commonest manifestation of tetanus and is responsible for the familiar descriptive name of
lockjaw. As more muscles are involved, rigidity becomes generalized, and sustained contractions
called risus sardonicus. The intensity and sequence of muscle involvement is quite variable. In a
small proportion of patients, only local signs and symptoms develop in the region of the injury.
In the vast majority, however, most muscles are involved to some degree, and the signs and
symptoms encountered depend upon the major muscle groups affected.

"Reflex spasm usually occur within 24 to 72 hours of the first symptoms, an interval referred to
as the onset time. As in the case of the incubation period, a short onset time is associated with a
poor prognosis. Spasms are caused by sudden intensification of afferent stimuli arising in the
periphery, which increases rigidity and causes simultaneous and excessive contraction of
muscles and their antagonists. Spasms may be both painful and dangerous. As the disease
progresses, minimal or inapparent stimuli produce more intense and longer lasting spasms with
increasing frequency. Respiration may be impaired by laryngospasm or tonic contraction of
respiratory muscles which prevent adequate ventilation. Hypoxia may then lead to irreversible
central nervous system damage and death.

"Mild tetanus is characterized by an incubation period of at least 14 days and an onset time of
more than 6 days. Trismus is usually present, but dysphagia is absent and generalized spasms are
brief and mild. Moderately severe tetanus has a somewhat shorter incubation period and onset
time; trismus is marked, dysphagia and generalized rigidity are present, but ventilation remains
adequate even during spasms. The criteria for severe tetanus include a short incubation time, and
an onset time of 72 hrs., or less, severe trismus, dysphagia and rigidity and frequent prolonged,
generalized convulsive spasms. (Harrison's Principle of Internal Medicine, 1983 Edition, pp.
1004-1005; Emphasis supplied)

Therefore, medically speaking, the reaction to tetanus found inside a man's body depends on the
incubation period of the disease.

In the case at bar, Javier suffered a 2-inch incised wound on his right palm when he parried the
bolo which Urbano used in hacking him. This incident took place on October 23, 1980. After 22
days, or on November 14, 1980, he suffered the symptoms of tetanus, like lockjaw and muscle
spasms. The following day, November 15, 1980, he died.

If, therefore, the wound of Javier inflicted by the appellant was already infected by tetanus germs
at the time, it is more medically probable that Javier should have been infected with only a mild
case of tetanus because the symptoms of tetanus appeared on the 22nd day after the hacking
incident or more than 14 days after the infliction of the wound. Therefore, the onset time should
have been more than six days. Javier, however, died on the second day from the onset time. The
more credible conclusion is that at the time Javier's wound was inflicted by the appellant, the
severe form of tetanus that killed him was not yet present. Consequently, Javier's wound could
have been infected with tetanus after the hacking incident. Considering the circumstance
surrounding Javier's death, his wound could have been infected by tetanus 2 or 3 or a few but not
20 to 22 days before he died.[23]

The incubation period for tetanus infection and the length of time between the hacking incident
and the manifestation of severe tetanus infection created doubts in the mind of the Court that
Javier acquired the severe tetanus infection from the hacking incident. We explained
in Urbano that:

The rule is that the death of the victim must be the direct, natural, and logical consequence of
the wounds inflicted upon him by the accused. (People v. Cardenas, supra) And since we are
dealing with a criminal conviction, the proof that the accused caused the victim's death must
convince a rational mind beyond reasonable doubt. The medical findings, however, lead us to a
distinct possibility that the infection of the wound by tetanus was an efficient intervening cause
later or between the time Javier was wounded to the time of his death. The infection was,
therefore, distinct and foreign to the crime. (People v. Rellin, 77 Phil. 1038).

Doubts are present. There is a likelihood that the wound was but the remote cause and its
subsequent infection, for failure to take necessary precautions, with tetanus may have been
the proximate cause of Javier's death with which the petitioner had nothing to do. As we ruled
in Manila Electric Co. v. Remoquillo, et al. (99 Phil. 118).

"A prior and remote cause cannot be made the basis of an action if such remote cause did
nothing more than furnish the condition or give rise to the occasion by which the injury was
made possible, if there intervened between such prior or remote cause and the injury a distinct,
successive, unrelated, and efficient cause of the injury, even though such injury would not have
happened but for such condition or occasion. If no danger existed in the condition except because
of the independent cause, such condition was not the proximate cause. And if an independent
negligent act or defective condition sets into operation the instances, which result in injury
because of the prior defective condition, such subsequent act or condition is the proximate
cause." (45 C.J. pp. 931-932). (at p. 125)[24]

We face the very same doubts in the instant case that compel us to set aside the conviction of
Villacorta for murder. There had been an interval of 22 days between the date of the stabbing
and the date when Cruz was rushed to San Lazaro Hospital, exhibiting symptoms of severe
tetanus infection. If Cruz acquired severe tetanus infection from the stabbing, then the symptoms
would have appeared a lot sooner than 22 days later. As the Court noted in Urbano, severe
tetanus infection has a short incubation period, less than 14 days; and those that exhibit
symptoms with two to three days from the injury, have one hundred percent (100%)
mortality. Ultimately, we can only deduce that Cruz's stab wound was merely the remote cause,
and its subsequent infection with tetanus might have been the proximate cause of Cruz's
death. The infection of Cruz's stab wound by tetanus was an efficient intervening cause later or
between the time Cruz was stabbed to the time of his death.

However, Villacorta is not totally without criminal liability. Villacorta is guilty of slight
physical injuries under Article 266(1) of the Revised Penal Code for the stab wound he inflicted
upon Cruz. Although the charge in the instant case is for murder, a finding of guilt for the lesser
offense of slight physical injuries may be made considering that the latter offense is necessarily
included in the former since the essential ingredients of slight physical injuries constitute and
form part of those constituting the offense of murder.[25]

We cannot hold Villacorta criminally liable for attempted or frustrated murder because the
prosecution was not able to establish Villacorta's intent to kill. In fact, the Court of Appeals
expressly observed the lack of evidence to prove such an intent beyond reasonable doubt, to wit:

Appellant stabbed the victim only once using a sharpened bamboo stick, hitting him on the left
side of the body and then immediately fled. The instrument used is not as lethal as those made of
metallic material. The part of the body hit is not delicate in the sense that instant death can ensue
by reason of a single stab wound. The assault was done only once. Thus, there is doubt as to
whether appellant had an intent to kill the victim, which should be resolved in favor of the
appellant. x x x.[26]

The intent must be proved in a clear and evident manner to exclude every possible doubt as to
the homicidal (or murderous) intent of the aggressor. The onus probandi lies not on accused-
appellant but on the prosecution. The inference that the intent to kill existed should not be drawn
in the absence of circumstances sufficient to prove this fact beyond reasonable doubt. When
such intent is lacking but wounds were inflicted, the crime is not frustrated murder but physical
injuries only.[27]

Evidence on record shows that Cruz was brought to Tondo Medical Center for medical treatment
immediately after the stabbing incident. Right after receiving medical treatment, Cruz was then
released by the Tondo Medical Center as an out-patient. There was no other evidence to
establish that Cruz was incapacitated for labor and/or required medical attendance for more than
nine days. Without such evidence, the offense is only slight physical injuries. [28]

We still appreciate treachery as an aggravating circumstance, it being sufficiently alleged in the


Information and proved during trial.

The Information specified that "accused, armed with a sharpened bamboo stick, with intent to
kill, treachery and evident premeditation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously attack, assault and stab with the said weapon one DANILO SALVADOR CRUZ x x
x."

Treachery exists when an offender commits any of the crimes against persons, employing means,
methods or forms which tend directly or especially to ensure its execution, without risk to the
offender, arising from the defense that the offended party might make. This definition sets out
what must be shown by evidence to conclude that treachery existed, namely: (1) the employment
of such means of execution as would give the person attacked no opportunity for self-defense or
retaliation; and (2) the deliberate and conscious adoption of the means of execution. To reiterate,
the essence of qualifying circumstance is the suddenness, surprise and the lack of expectation
that the attack will take place, thus, depriving the victim of any real opportunity for self-defense
while ensuring the commission of the crime without risk to the aggressor. [29] Likewise, even
when the victim was forewarned of the danger to his person, treachery may still be appreciated
since what is decisive is that the execution of the attack made it impossible for the victim to
defend himself or to retaliate.[30]

Both the RTC and the Court of Appeals found that treachery was duly proven in this case, and
we sustain such finding. Cruz, the victim, was attacked so suddenly, unexpectedly, and without
provocation. It was two o'clock in the morning of January 23, 2002, and Cruz, who was out
buying bread at Mendeja's store, was unarmed. Cruz had his guard down and was totally
unprepared for an attack on his person. Villacorta suddenly appeared from nowhere, armed with
a sharpened bamboo stick, and without uttering a word, stabbed Cruz at the left side of his body,
then swiftly ran away. Villacorta's treacherous mode of attack left Cruz with no opportunity at
all to defend himself or retaliate.

Article 266(1) of the Revised Penal Code provides:

ART. 266. Slight physical injuries and maltreatment. - The crime of slight physical injuries shall
be punished:

1. By arresto menor when the offender has inflicted physical injuries which shall incapacitate the
offended party from labor from one to nine days, or shall require medical attendance during the
same period.

The penalty of arresto menor spans from one (1) day to thirty (30) days.[31] The Indeterminate
Sentence Law does not apply since said law excludes from its coverage cases where the penalty
imposed does not exceed one (1) year.[32] With the aggravating circumstance of treachery, we
can sentence Villacorta with imprisonment anywhere within arresto menor in the maximum
period, i.e., twenty-one (21) to thirty (30) days. Consequently, we impose upon Villacorta a
straight sentence of thirty (30) days of arresto menor; but given that Villacorta has been in jail
since July 31, 2002 until present time, already way beyond his imposed sentence, we order his
immediate release.

Under paragraph (1), Article 2219 of the Civil Code, moral damages may be recovered in a
criminal offense resulting in physical injuries. Moral damages compensate for the mental
anguish, serious anxiety, and moral shock suffered by the victim and his family as being a
proximate result of the wrongful act. An award requires no proof of pecuniary loss. Pursuant to
previous jurisprudence, an award of Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) moral damages is
appropriate for less serious, as well as slight physical injuries.[33]

WHEREFORE, the Decision dated July 30, 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C.
No. 02550, affirming the Decision dated September 22, 2006 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch
170, of Malabon, in Criminal Case No. 27039-MN, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. A new
judgment is entered finding Villacorta GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of slight
physical injuries, as defined and punished by Article 266 of the Revised Penal Code, and
sentenced to suffer the penalty of thirty (30) days arresto menor. Considering that Villacorta has
been incarcerated well beyond the period of the penalty herein imposed, the Director of the
Bureau of Prisons is ordered to cause Villacorta's immediate release, unless Villacorta is being
lawfully held for another cause, and to inform this Court, within five (5) days from receipt of this
Decision, of the compliance with such order. Villacorta is ordered to pay the heirs of the late
Danilo Cruz moral damages in the sum of Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00).

SO ORDERED.

Corona, C.J., (Chairperson), Bersamin, Del Castillo, and Villarama, Jr., JJ., concur.