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G.R. No.

L-39303-05 August 1, 1978

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,

EUGENIO GALAPIA y BACUS, accused-appellant.

Felino C. Ampil (Counsel de Oficio) for appellant.

Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza Assistant Solicitor General Octavio A. Ramirez and
Solicitor N. P. de Pano, Jr. for appellee.


MANDATORY REVIEW of the decisions of the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Norte
imposing the death penalty upon Eugenio Galapia y Bacus in three criminal cases.

The record shows that the accused Eugenio Galapia y Bacus and Leonida Agudelo
were married on August 8, 1971 before Mayor Leonardo A. Velasco of Bacarra, Ilocos
Norte. 1 After their marriage, the spouses lived with Bonifacia Castro Agudelo, the
mother of Leonida, in Barrio Libong, Bacarra, Ilocos Norte. Living with his mother-in-law
became extremely difficult so that sometime in May, 1973, 2 the husband left the house
to live with his own parents, about a kilometer away. His wife and son, however, were
left behind.

In the early evening of February 11, 1974, the husband, feeling a need for sexual
fulfillment, went to the house of his mother-in-law in order to sleep with his wife. But, he
was denied entry to the house. Not one to be easily frustrated, the husband left and
waited until all the occupants of the house were asleep and then entered the house by
breaking the glass blades or jalousies of a window. Once inside, he went to the bed
shared by his wife and son. His wife, however, repulsed his advances and threatened to
stab him with a kitchen knife. After a brief scuffle, the husband was able to wrest the
knife from his wife. The commotion, however, attracted the attention of the mother-in-
law who came to the aid of her daughter with a bolo in hand. The husband also
succeeded in wrenching the bolo from her, and with it, attacked his mother-in-law, his
wife, and two young nephews of his wife, Francisco Bulong and Hermenigildo Bulong,
who were then sleeping in the sala of the house. The husband then left the house,
taking his small son along with him and brought the boy to the house of his parents. On
the way, he threw the bolo into the sea, but kept the kitchen knife. He then proceeded
to the house of the barrio captain in order to surrender. The barrio captain, however,
was sick. So, he went to the poblacion of Bacarra and surrendered to a policeman on
duty at the town hall. The following day, he signed an extra-judicial confession before
the investigating officers, admitting the killing of his wife, his mother-in-law, and the
wife's nephew, Francisco Bulong. 3
Meanwhile, at about 6:00 o'clock in the morning of February 12, 1974, Dr. Irineo
Bustamante, the Rural Health Physician of Bacarra, was summoned to attend to four (4)
bleeding persons in Barrio Libong. Upon reaching the house of Bonifacia Agudelo, he
found three (3) of the four persons already dead, and the fourth, barely alive. The
wounded person, subsequently Identified as Hermenigildo Bulong, was brought to the
hospital and was saved.

Dr. Bustamante conducted an autopsy on the cadavers of the deceased persons and
certified that: (1) Leonida Agudelo Galapia sustained a stab wound in the heart and
five lacerated wounds in various parts of her body; 4 (2) Bonifacia Agudelo suffered a
stab wound in the abdomen, perforating the intestines, and four lacerated wounds in
body, two of which were in the head, fracturing the skull; 5 and (3) Francisco Bulong
sustained two lacerated wounds , one in the face other on the right side of the head,
both fraturing the skull. 6

As a result, Eugenie Galapia y Bacus was indicted for the killing of his wife (Criminal
Case No. 228-III, for Parricide);his mother-in-law ( Criminal Case No. 229-II for Murder);
and the nephew of his wife, Francisco Bulong (Criminal Case No. 230-III, also for
Murder), as well as the attempt on the life of Hermenigildo Bulong (Criminal Case No.
231-III, for Frustrated Murder). These cases were tried jointly, and the accused when
arraigned, pleaded guilty to the charges and insisted on his plea despite the
admonition of the trial judge that the maximum penalty of death may be upon him.
The plea of guilty notwithstanding, the trial complaint the presentation of evidence,
during which, the accused invoking the mitigating circumstances of voluntary,
surrender and plea guilty. On August 9, 1974, judgment was sentencing the accused to
suffer the penalty of death in Criminal Case Nos. 228-III, 229-III, and 230-III, all of the
Court of First Instance of Ilocos Norte. In view of penalty imposed upon the accused
these cases are now before the Court for review.

Counsel de oficio does not seek the reversal of the jugdment in these cases and the
consequent aquittal of the accused; Eugenio Galapia Bacus, since the said accused
had voluntarily entered a plea of guilty to the charges. Counsel, however, contends
that the imposition of the death penalty in each of the three cases is correct and,
therefore, prays for a reduction of the penalty to reclusion perpetua in each case. The
Solicitor General observed that "there does appear some misappreciation of the
aggravating and mitigating circumtances attendant to the commission of the
crime, 7 and, accordingly, recommends the modification of the judgments under
review and the diminution of the penalty to reclusion perpetua in each case.

The rule is that a judicial confessions of guilt admits all the material facts alleged in the
information including the aggravating circumtances listed therein. 8 But, where such
circumtances are disproven by the evidence, it should be disallowed in the judgment.
Thus, in People v. Gungab, 9 the Court ruled "that when an accused, who lacks
instruction, guilty to the of parricide described in the information petition as having
been committed with the aggravating circumstances of and evident premeditation
and his testimony given under oath before the trial court, upon his petition, fails to show
the existence of such aggravating circumstances, his plea of guilty shall be understood
as being limited to the admission of having committed the crime of parricide, not of
having done so with treachery and evident premeditation"

Criminal Case No 229-III

A petition for parricide, the victim being the wife of the assailant. The information
alleges that the offense was commuted with evident premeditation and abuse of
superior and accompanied by the aggravating circumstances of nocturnity and

The parties are agreed that the aggravating circumstance of evident premeditation
has not been established by the testimony of prosecution witness Hermenigildo Bulong,
nor by the extra-judicial confession of the accused. We agree with this observation
because the purpose of the accused in going to the house of his mother-in-law was to
sleep with his wife, not to kill her.

We also agree with the parties that abuse of superior strength cannot be appreciated
in this case for the reason that the said circumstance is inherent in the crime of parricide
where the husband kills the wife. It is generally accepted that the husband is physically
stronger than the wife.

Nocturnity cannot also be appreciated, although the crime was committed at night,
because nighttime was not specially sought by the offender, or taken advantage of by
him to facilitate the commission of, the crime or to insure its consummation with a
minimum of resistance from the inmates of the house.

But the aggravating circumstance of dwelling is present since the crime was committed
in the house occupied by his estranged wife, other than the conjugal home. Unlawful
entry is also present since the accused admittedly destroyed the glass blades or
jalousies of a window in gaining entry into the house. 10

The Solicitor General claims that treachery, although not alleged in the information, is
also present since the victims were all asleep, totally unaware of the evil forces that
would eventually snuff out their lives without warning. It does not appear in the record,
however, how and in what position the victim was when she was killed so that it cannot
be said that the accused had adopted a mode or means of attack tending directly to
insure or facilitate the commission of the offense without risk to himself arising from the
defense or retaliation which the victim might put up. Upon the other hand, the accused
stated in his extra-judicial confession that his wife tried to stab him with a kitchen knife
when he tried to sleep with her.

It results that two aggravating circumstances — dwelling and unlawful entry —

attended the commission of the crime. These circumstances, however, are offset by
two mitigating circumstances of voluntary surrender and plea of guilty. The proper
penalty to be imposed is, therefore, reclusion perpetua.

Criminal Case No. 229-III.

Prosecution for the murder of Bonifacia Agudelo. The information avers that the crime
was committed with evident premeditation and abuse of superior strength, and
attended by nocturnity, dwelling, and disregard of the age, sex and relationship of the
offended party, she being 60 years old and the mother-in-law of the offender.

The parties are also agreed that there is no sufficient proof to establish that the crime
was committed with evident premeditation. Hence, abuse of superior strength is the
qualifying circumstance.

Nocturnity cannot he appreciated as an aggravating circumstance in this case

because, as previously stated, nighttime was not specially sought by the offender.

The offense cannot also be said to have been committed in disregard of the age, sex
and relationship of the offended party because there is no proof that the accused
deliberately intended to offend the sex or age of the offended party. As Mr. Justice
Ramon C. Aquino says: "The mere fact that the victim of the crime is a woman is not in
itself sufficient to support the contention that there is present the aggravating
circumstance of insult or disrespect to sex. It is necessary to prove the specific fact or
circumstance, other than that the victim is a woman, showing insult or disregard of sex
in order that it may be aggravating." 11

However, as in Criminal Case No. 228-III, dwelling and unlawful entry are evident
because the crime was committed in the house of the victim who did not give
provocation, and that the accused admittedly destroyed the glass blades or jalousies
of a window in order to gain entrance to the house.

The Solicitor General also contends that the crime was committed with treachery. The
prosecution, however, failed to present an eyewitness who directly saw the killing of the
victim so that it cannot be said for certain that the accused had employed means
tending to insure the success of the crime without any danger to his person. On the
other hand, the accused stated that the victim tried to attack him with a
bolo. 12 Treachery cannot, therefore, be appreciated to aggravate the crime.

The crime committed is murder, qualified by abuse of superior strength and attended
by the aggravating circumstances of dwelling and unlawful entry which are, in turn
offset by the mitigating circumstances of voluntary surrender and the plea of guilty. The
Penalty to be imposed upon the accused should, therefore, be reclusion perpetua.

Criminal Case No. 23-III.

Prosecution for the killing of Francisco Bulong, an 11-year old grandson of Bonifacia
Agudelo, who was sleeping with his brother, Hermenigildo Bulong, in the sala of the
house when he was attacked by the accused.

The indictment is that the offense was committed with evident premeditation and
abuse of superior strength and attended by the aggravating circumstance of
As in Criminal Case Nos. 228-III and 229-III, evident premeditation cannot be
appreciated in the absence of proof thereof. Abuse of superior strength, therefore,
qualifies the killing to murder.

Nocturnity is not also present as previously stated in Criminal Cases Nos. 228-III and 229-
III. But, treachery is present because the victim was then asleep when he was attacked
by the accused. Unlike in Criminal Cases Nos. 228-III and 229-III where there was no
eyewitness to the killing of Leonids Agudelo Galapia and Bonifacia Agudelo and,
consequently, no treachery, the killing of Francisco Bulong was witness by his brother,
Hermenigildo Bulong, who testified that the accused attacked Francisco with a bolo
while the latter was asleep. 13

But, as in Criminal Cases Nos. 228-111 and 229-111, there was unlawful entry in this case
because of the destruction of the glass blades or jalousies of a window in order to gain
entrance to the house.

The crime is murder, qualified by abuse of superior strength and attended by the
aggravating circumstances of treachery and unlawful entry which are offset by the
mitigating circumstances of voluntary surrender and plea of guilty. The penalty to be
imposed upon the accused should therefore, be reclusion perpetua.

To recapitulate, the proper penalty that should be imposed upon the accused in
Criminal Cases No. 228-III, 229-III, and 230-III of the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Norte
is reclusion perpetua.

With the modification of the penalty as above stated, the judgments under review
should be, as it is hereby, affirmed in all other respects. Costs de oficio.


21. [G.R. No. 124299. April 12, 2000.]

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. CESAR LACANIETA alias "Boy Alog",
JERRY BALLENAS alias "Marlon Marquez" and Carlito Gamad, Accused.

JERRY BALLENAS, Accused-Appellant.



Consorcia Tayo (Consorcia) claims that her daughter, 19-year-old WILMA TAYO
(WILMA) was abducted at gunpoint on March 20, 1987. WILMA was found dead the
next day, her body bore signs that she was first raped then brutally stabbed ten times.
Four persons were suspected as perpetrators of the crime: JERRY BALLENAS (BALLENAS)
during the police investigation and GAMAD was also shot dead after the re-
investigation conducted by the Office of the Provincial Fiscal of San Jose,
Antique.chanrobles virtuallawlibrary:red

Based on the records of this case, LACANIETA and BALLENAS were already charged
with murder at the Regional Trial Court, Branch 12 of San Jose, Antique. Since BALLENAS
had already been arraigned for murder, an Information for Forcible Abduction with
Rape was filed on October 12, 1987 against BALLENAS and LACANIETA before the same
court. LACANIETA thereafter posted bail, but he eventually absconded. The Information
was then amended on June 19, 1989 to read as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"At the instance of the mother of the deceased offended party, Wilma Tayo, who has
subscribed and sworn to a complaint attached to the records of the above-entitled
cases, the undersigned Assistant Provincial Prosecutor accuses JERRY BALLENAS alias
"MARLON MARQUEZ" of the crime of forcible abduction with rape committed as
follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

That on or about the 20th day of March, 1987 in the Municipality of Sibalom, Province of
Antique, Republic of the Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
the above-named accused together with Cesar Lacanieta who is still at large and
Alberto Salvador and Carlito Gamad, both deceased, being then armed with gun and
knife and by means of force and intimidation and with lewd designs, conspiring,
confederating together and mutually helping one another, did, then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously abduct and carry away Wilma Tayo at a gun point (sic) to an
uninhabited place and while there, by means of force and intimidation, have carnal
knowledge of the said Wilma Tayo against the latter’s will.

Contrary to the provisions of article 335 of the Revised Penal Code in relation to Article
342 of the same Code." 1

Trial fiscal Juan C. Mission, Jr. was of the opinion that the proper charge against
BALLENAS is forcible abduction with rape "because an independent act of forcible
abduction preceded the rape and murder of the deceased Wilma Tayo," and not the
special complex crime of rape with homicide. 2

The arraignment of BALLENAS for forcible abduction with rape came belatedly
because it was only after the case was already submitted for decision when the trial
court discovered that BALLENAS had not yet been arraigned. Both the prosecution and
defense then agreed to arraign BALLENAS and to consider all the evidence earlier
presented as reproduced. BALLENAS was accordingly arraigned on the Amended
Information on February 18, 1992; he pleaded not guilty. The evidence for the
prosecution consisted of the testimonies of Consorcia and Florencio Millones (Florencio)
and Exhibits "A", "B", "C", and "D" as documentary evidence, while the defense
presented BALLENAS as its lone witness.

The version of the prosecution as summarized by the trial court is as


"On March 20, 1987 about 7 o’clock in the evening, the Wilma Tayo (sic) and her
mother Mrs. Consorcia Tayo were in their house at Sitio Bulho, Cubay-Sermon, Sibalom,
Antique. They were about to eat supper when someone called to them asking to light a
cigarette. Wilma Tayo asked who was calling and the answer was "I am Junior, let me
light my cigarette." Wilma Tayo opened the door slightly and there stood accused Jerry
Ballenas alias Marlon Marquez. Accused did not light his cigarette but instead blew the
gas lamp and put out the light. He held Wilma Tayo by the wrist.

Accused Jerry Ballenas pointed a short firearm to Wilma Tayo and Consorcia Tayo.
Accused told Wilma Tayo to accompany him to Maria Leong-on, his girlfriend. Wilma
Tayo refused as they were about to eat supper. Consorcia Tayo also told her daughter,
Wilma Tayo not go out (sic) because it was already dark. Accused Jerry Ballenas forced
Wilma Tayo to go out with him and struck the hand of Consorcia Tayo and pointed the
handgun at her. Accused held Wilma Tayo tightly and took her away.

Because of the abduction, Consorcia Tayo sought the help of a neighbor, Andres
Mallorca, whose house is about 20 meters away from her house but to no avail, Andres
Mallorca shut the door on her for fear of Jerry Ballenas as the latter is known as a
member of the dreaded Sparrow Unit of the New People’s Army.

The following morning, Consorcia Tayo reported the abduction of Wilma Tayo to her
son-in-law who is a member of the Integrated National Police. She learned from Aurelio
Gamad that her daughter Wilma Tayo was already dead. The police then proceeded
to the scene of the incident.

At the time Wilma Tayo was abducted, she was 19 years old. She was single and a third
year student in the Polytechnic State College of Antique, Sibalom, Antique.

Consorcia Tayo spent P30,000.00 for the funeral of Wilma Tayo. Consorcia was shocked
and she felt pain with the death of her only daughter Wilma Tayo. To Consorcia Tayo no
amount of money could compensate the death of her daughter Wilma Tayo whom
they loved so much."cralaw virtua1aw library

BALLENAS disavows any participation in the abduction, rape and killing of WILMA and
offered this version, viz:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"In the afternoon of March 20, 1987, at about past 4:00 p.m., he was in the house of
CARLITO GAMAD. When darkness came, CARLITO asked him to accompany CEZAR
LACANIETA (a boarder of the GAMAD’s), to the house of victim WILMA TAYO. Victim
was the girlfriend of LACANIETA. On the way, LACANIETA told him of his plan to elope
with victim, and asked him to talk to her. He proceeded to the house of victim, while
LACANIETA was left behind near the irrigation canal. Upon reaching the house of
victim, he called out and the mother answered his call and then victim came out of the
house. He told victim that LACANIETA had something to tell her and that he was waiting
for her at the irrigation canal. Both of them proceeded to where LACANIETA was
waiting and after he led victim to LACANIETA, he went home (T.S.N., pp. 7-10, August 9,
1990). 3

On May 29, 1992, the Regional Trial Court, Branch 12 of San Jose, Antique rendered its
Decision 4 finding BALLENAS guilty of forcible abduction with rape, the judgment

"WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered finding the
accused Jerry Ballenas alias Marlon Marquez GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the
crime of Forcible Abduction with Rape punished under Article 335 of the Revised Penal
Code in relation to Article 342 and Article 48 of the same Code with reclusion perpetua
to death by reason of the use of a firearm by accused Jerry Ballenas in the abduction
of Wilma Tayo. And applying Article 63 of the Revised Penal Code, the penalty that
should be imposed should be the greater penalty of death there being two
aggravating circumstances but because the present Constitution prohibits the
imposition of the death penalty accused Jerry Ballenas is hereby sentenced to suffer a
prison term of reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment and to suffer the accessory
penalty provided for by law and he is ordered to indemnify the heirs of the deceased
Wilma Tayo the sum of P50,000.00 and to pay Consorcia Tayo, the sum of P30,000.00 for
the funeral expenses incurred by her for the funeral of the deceased Wilma Tayo and to
pay the cost.


The cause of the death of WILMA is reported as due to hemorrhage secondary to

wounds on the neck, chest, abdomen and back. 16

The trial court opined that the contusions on the thighs of WILMA show that her legs
were forcibly set apart to facilitate the rape of WILMA. That WILMA was raped is
evidenced by hymenal lacerations, still found fresh on March 21, 1987, the day the
autopsy was conducted. We agree with the trial court that based on the evidence, it
could readily be concluded that the perpetrators stabbed WILMA several times after
the commission of the rape. 17

In a desperate attempt to reverse the decision of the trial court, BALLENAS impresses
upon this Court his theory that if he indeed committed the crime charged, he would
not have exposed himself to Consorcia at the time that WILMA was abducted. 18
BALLENAS also points out that his return to Catmon the following Monday after the
death of WILMA and on which date he was arrested, belies his participation in the
despicable crime. 19 BALLENAS argues that if he was guilty of the crime, he would not
have returned to Catmon to face the possibility of being arrested since the victim was
with him on the night of March 20, 1987. 20

We are not persuaded. A telling detail in this case is the fact that the mother of the
victim witnessed first hand the abduction of her daughter at gunpoint. Consorcia has
no reason to wrongfully implicate BALLENAS. As the mother of the deceased victim,
Consorcia would want nothing short of justice for her dead daughter. BALLENAS does
not deny the fact that he went to see WILMA to fetch her that evening of March 20,
1987. In professing his innocence, BALLENAS merely denies the allegations of Consorcia
that he took away WILMA at gunpoint and offers the defense that he merely talked to
WILMA to convince her to meet with LACANIETA. Well-settled is the rule that denial is an
intrinsically weak defense which must be buttressed by strong evidence of non-
culpability to merit credence. 21 An affirmative testimony is far stronger than negative
testimony, especially so when it comes from the mouth of a credible witness. 22 The
fact that BALLENAS exposed himself to Consorcia all the more indicates his brazenness
in abducting WILMA. The return of BALLENAS to Catmon after the death of WILMA
cannot be also taken as a badge of his innocence. It is the credible and unwavering
testimony of Consorcia that stands as solid proof of the guilt of BALLENAS.

BALLENAS assails the testimony of Florencio on the ground that it abounds in

inconsistencies" 23 and is not credible. The alleged inconsistencies are however not
clearly established. Notably, Florencio unequivocally said that he saw LACANIETA,
BALLENAS, SALVADOR and GAMAD rape and stab WILMA. We have no reason to
doubt the credibility of Florencio in light of the doctrine that where there is no evidence
to show any dubious reason or improper motive why a prosecution witness should testify
falsely against the accused or implicate him in a serious offense, the testimony deserves
full faith and credit. 24 The initial reluctance of Florencio to get involved in this case is
understandable and does not cast doubt on his credibility as a witness. Whenever the
issue boils down to credibility, we have always maintained that the credibility of
witnesses and their testimonies is a matter best undertaken by the trial court, because
of its unique opportunity to observe the witnesses firsthand and to note their demeanor,
conduct and attitude. 25 Findings of the trial court on such matters are binding and
conclusive on the appellate court, unless some facts or circumstances of weight and
substance have been overlooked, misapprehended or misinterpreted. 26

We therefore see no cogent reason to reverse the judgment of the trial court convicting
BALLENAS of the crime of forcible abduction with rape. The trial court ruled that there
are two aggravating circumstances in this case, nighttime 27 and that the wrong done
in the commission of the crime was deliberately augmented by causing other wrong
not necessary for its commission 28 . We however digress from the finding of the trial
court that the aggravating circumstances of nighttime and that the wrong done in the
commission of the crime was deliberately augmented by causing other wrong not
necessary for its commission are present in the case at bar.chanrobles

Based on the records, BALLENAS abducted WILMA around 7 o’clock in the evening of
March 20, 1987 and that BALLENAS blew off the lighted kerosene lamp offered by
WILMA to BALLENAS to light his cigarette. 29 However, Consorcia testified that there was
some light coming from another kerosene lamp upstairs that "reflected (sic) the door"
and that Consorcia also had a kerosene lamp with her that BALLENAS also put off. 30 In
the case of People v. Pallarco, 31 the scene of the crime was sufficiently illuminated by
a kerosene lamp, hence we ruled in that case that nocturnity cannot be appreciated if
it can be shown that the place was adequately lighted. 32 The prosecution also failed
to prove that nighttime was specially sought by the accused or taken advantage of by
him or that nighttime facilitated the commission of the crime, circumstances which must
be present before the aggravating circumstance of nighttime can be appreciated. We
also do not agree with the trial court that the aggravating circumstance of cruelty
attended the commission of the crime charged. The aggravating circumstance of
cruelty is present when "the wrong done in the commission of the crime is deliberately
augmented by causing other wrong not necessary for its commission." 33 There is
cruelty when the culprit enjoys and delights in making his victim suffer slowly and
gradually, causing him unnecessary physical pain in the consummation of the criminal
act. 34 In People v. Ferrer 35 , the aggravating circumstance of cruelty was not
appreciated in the absence of positive proof that the appellants inflicted the thirteen
(13) wounds upon the victim in such a way that he was made to agonize before they
rendered any of the blows which snuffed out his life. In this case, WILMA sustained ten
(10) stab wounds, but these multiple wounds alone do not prove that the accused
deliberately inflicted the injuries to prolong unnecessarily her physical suffering. Thus, the
trial court improperly considered the aggravating circumstance of cruelty in the case
at bar.

What is present in this case is the aggravating circumstance of dwelling. Consorcia

testified that her house has a ladder that leads to the main door; that BALLENAS was at
the main door when he called WILMA; and that when WILMA refused to go with
BALLENAS, it was there that BALLENAS forced WILMA to go with him. 36 Without a doubt,
WILMA was abducted while she was still in her house. Thus, dwelling may be
appreciated as an aggravating circumstance considering that it is not necessary that
the accused should have entered the dwelling of the victim. 37

BALLENAS committed the crime of forcible abduction with rape punished under Article
335 of the Revised Penal Code in relation to Article 342 and 48 of the same Code. The
two elements of forcible abduction are (1) the taking of a woman against her will and
(2) with lewd designs 38 . The crime of forcible abduction with rape is a complex crime
that occurs when there is carnal knowledge with the abducted woman under the
following circumstances: (1) by using force or intimidation; (2) when the woman is
deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; and (3) when the woman is under twelve
years of age or is demented. 39 BALLENAS committed the crime of forcible abduction
with rape on March 20, 1987, before the passage of Republic Act 7659 or the Heinous
Crimes Law that took effect on December 31, 1993. At the time that BALLENAS
committed the crime of forcible abduction with rape, the penalty then applicable was
reclusion perpetua to death. The use by BALLENAS of a firearm in committing the crime,
a fact duly alleged in the information and proven in court, should have warranted the
imposition of the death penalty. However, since the crime took place prior to the
implementation of RA 7659, the trial court correctly ruled that the penalty that can be
imposed on BALLENAS is reclusion perpetua. Hence, despite the presence of the
aggravating circumstance of dwelling, the penalty herein of reclusion perpetua would
not be affected. Under Article 63 of the Revised Penal Code, the penalty of reclusion
perpetua should be applied regardless of any mitigating or aggravating circumstance
that may have attended the commission of a crime. 40

This Court is however constrained to disallow the amount of P30,000.00 for the burial
expenses incurred by Consorcia. We can only give credit for actual damages such as
burial expenses if there are receipts that can support the claim. 41 The records in the
case at bench do not substantiate the P30,000.00 burial expenses sought by Consorcia,
except for her lone assertion.
The P50,000.00 indemnity awarded by the trial court must be modified. Instead of the
sum of P50,000.00 as indemnity, we award P75,000.00 as civil indemnity considering that
the crime was committed with the use of a weapon as alleged in the information and
proven in court. In consonance with jurisprudence, the increase of the civil indemnity to
P75,000.00 is justified if the crime was committed under circumstances that justify the
imposition of the death penalty. 42

In People v. Bañago 43 , the accused committed the crime of rape with the use of a
gun on October 15, 1993, before the passage of RA 7659. This Court was thus precluded
from meting out the death penalty, but nevertheless the accused was ordered to pay
civil indemnity in the amount of P75,000.00. 44

In spite of the death of the victim in this case, we cannot award the higher amount of
P100,000.00, the civil indemnity awarded in cases of rape with homicide. 45 The
information in the case at bar is merely for forcible abduction with rape and not for
rape with homicide.

Moral damages in the amount of P50,000.00 are also hereby granted to the heirs of the
victim. The award of moral damages may be made to the heirs of the victim in a
criminal proceeding without the need for pleading or proof of the basis thereof. The
fact that they; suffered the trauma of mental or physical and psychological sufferings
which constitute the bases for moral damages under the Civil Code are too obvious to
still require recital thereof at trial. 46 Here, Consorcia testified as to the inconsolable loss
that she felt when her only daughter was abducted, ravished and killed. 47

Exemplary damages may be awarded in criminal cases as part of the civil liability if the
crime was committed with one or more aggravating circumstances. 48 Since dwelling is
appreciated in this case as an aggravating circumstance under Article 14 (6) of the
Revised Penal Code, the award of P20,000.00 as exemplary damages is therefore in

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 12, San Jose, antique is
AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that the accused-appellant Jerry Ballenas alias
Marlon Marquez is ordered to pay the heirs of the victim in the amount of P75,000.00 as
civil indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral damages and P20,000.00 as exemplary damages.
The award of actual damages of P30,000.00 is deleted.

24. G.R. No. 138983 May 23, 2001

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,

GENER B. AGONCILLO, accused-appellant.

This is an automatic review of the Decision1 dated April 27, 1999 of the Regional Trial
Court of Kalibo, Aklan, Branch 2 in Criminal Case No. 5006 finding the accused, Gener
B. Agoncillo guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape committed with the
use of a deadly weapon.

On August 28, 1997, Rosalyn Salvador y Patricio assisted by her mother, Artily P. Salvador
filed a complaint2 for rape against the accused. The complaint alleged:

"That on or about the 2nd day of July, 1997, in the evening, in Barangay Napti,
Municipality of Batan, Province of Aklan, Republic of the Philippines, and within
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with lewd
designs and by means of force and intimidation, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously with use of a scythe, has carnal knowledge with the
said ROSALYN P. SALVADOR, a minor of fourteen (14) years of age, against her
will and without her consent."

That she is the victim in this case; that she is 14 years old at the time of rape, having (sic)
born on August 22, 1982; that in the evening of July 2, 1997, her father and mother went
to the river to catch fish; that her only companions in their house during that night were
her three (3) younger brothers, namely: Julie (8 years old), Cris (10 years old) and Victor
(13 years old); that they went to bed at around 8:00 P.M.; that at around 11:00 P.M., she
roused to look at their wall clock if it is already time to prepare their breakfast; that
suddenly, somebody covered her mouth and told her not to shout or else, he will cut off
her head; that the said person was armed with a scythe; that she was then dragged to
the banana plantation where she was ordered to lie on the ground and not to shout
under threat that if she will not obey, he will sickle her neck;

The trial court properly convicted accused-appellant of the crime of rape with the use
of a deadly weapon, which is the crime charged in the information. Rosalyn established
that when she was raped, accused-appellant brandished a scythe and threatened her
with it. Although the scythe was not presented in court, the production of a weapon
used in the commission of the crime is not a condition sine qua non for the discharge of
the burden of proof beyond reasonable doubt for the same may not have been
recovered at all from the assailant.21

We however are constrained to agree with accused-appellant that the trial court erred
in appreciating the aggravating circumstances of dwelling, nighttime, and uninhabited
place in order to justify the imposition of the death penalty.

Dwelling is considered as an aggravating circumstance primarily because of the

sanctity of privacy the law accords to the human abode.22 However, in the present
case, Rosalyn was not raped therein. Although she was abducted therefrom, accused-
appellant was not charged with forcible abduction with rape but only with rape.
Considering that she was not raped in her home, dwelling cannot be appreciated.

The trial court also erred in appreciating the aggravating circumstance of nighttime
and uninhabited place. For nocturnity to properly attend the commission of a crime, it
must be shown that it facilitated the commission of the offense and that it was
purposely sought by the offender. The fact that the offense was committed at night will
not suffice to sustain nocturnidad.23 In the present case, there was no evidence to
prove that accused-appellant purposely sought the cover of night when he raped
Rosalyn. In the same vein, the aggravating circumstance of uninhabited place cannot
also be appreciated in the absence of proof that solitude was purposely sought or
taken advantage of to facilitate the commission of the crime.24 The term uninhabited
place does not refer to the distance of the nearest house to the locus criminis for the
more important consideration is whether the place of commission affords a reasonable
possibility for the victim to receive some help.25 The evidence on record before us fails
to provide any basis to conclude that the specific circumstances surrounding the scene
of the rape were such that its state of being uninhabited prevented any reasonable
possibility that the victim could have possibly solicited assistance to fend off her

Since the crime was committed with the use of a deadly weapon, i.e. a scythe, it is
punishable with reclusion perpetua to death. In the absence of any mitigating or
aggravating circumstances, the penalty that should thus be imposed is reclusion
perpetua.26 Accused-appellant is also hereby ordered to indemnify the victim with the
amounts of P50,000.00 as compensatory damages and P50,000.00 as moral damages.27

27. G.R. No. L-28995 August 4, 1928


ALQUEZA, Defendant-Appellant.

Notwithstanding the accused's protests of innocence he was sentenced by the Court

of First Instance of Zambales to seventeen years, four months and one day reclusion
temporal, with the accessories of the law, to endow the offended party in the sum of
P500, to support the offspring, if any, and to pay the costs, for the crime of rape, with
the aggravating circumstance of abuse of
confidence.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

In this appeal, the defendant reiterates his protests of innocence, imputing two errors to
the trial court: in finding the evidence to be sufficient, and in holding that the acts in the
case constitute the crime of rape.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law

Counsel for the defense finds signs of improbability in the accused having committed
the crime in a small house at a time when his own wife was in the same house; in the
fact that the offended party was not physically examined until after thirty-eight days
from the occurrence, and in not offering resistance. But, as a matter of fact, at the time
of the incident the accused's wife, a sickly woman, was in one of the kitchens of the
house, some 7 varas distant, according to the accused himself, from the room where
the act took place, or some 6 meters, according to the mother of the offended party,
the latter being at that time a girl of 14 years of age, and physically
weak.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
With these circumstances in his favor, the accused though not to attract his wife's
attention, who at that time was cooking, and for greater safety, put a piece of cloth
into the offended party's mouth, that the latter might not be able to
scream.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

As to the physical examination, the provincial fiscal stated at the trial that it was not
promptly submitted because no one requested it - due, no doubt, to the lack of
knowledge of its necessity on the part of the interested parties, - and it was only when
the case came up before the Court of First Instance it was discovered that it had not
been made, that the physical examination was effected. The lack of prompt
examination is no argument against the
prosecution.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

As regards the resistance offered by the offended party, it appears from the record that
she did resist. After the offended party had verbally and actively refused the accused's
illicit proposal, was thrown to the floor, held there and gagged with a piece of cloth;
she was weeping, and as soon as her mother arrived she complained of the
outrage.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

We find the evidence sufficient and the facts proven constitute the crime of
rape.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

The lower court took into account the abuse of confidence as an aggravating
circumstance.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

We take it that in this particular case the fact that the accused lived in the same house
as the offended party is not enough, in itself, to hold that there is such aggravating
circumstance, for after all, that house did not belong to the offended party (pp. 61, 62,
t. s. n.). As this court said in the case of United States vs. Cabaya Cruz (4 Phil., 252), it
might serve to describe the accused's conduct as disgraceful, but not as an abuse of
confidence, for which it is required to show what was the confidence reposed in the
accused, and that it facilitated the commission of the crime, in order that it might be
judged whether or not he had abused such
confidence.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

We hold that the crime proven in the record is rape without any modifying
circumstance, of which the herein appellant is
guilty.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

Wherefore, the judgment appealed from is modified, and under the provisions of article
438 of the Penal Code, the accused is hereby sentenced to fourteen years, eight
months and one day reclusion temporal, the judgment being affirmed in all other
respects, with costs against the appellant. So ordered.
30. [G.R. No. 10228. March 6, 1915. ]


and PATRICIO BISLIG, Defendants-Appellants.

M. Legaspi Florendo for Appellants.

Attorney-General Avanceña for Appellee.


1. ROBBERY WITH HOMICIDE; INTENT TO ROB. — In the complex crime of robbery with
homicide, an intent to commit robbery must precede the taking of human life, but the
fact that the intent of the criminal is tempered with a desire also to revenge grievances
against the murdered person does not prevent his punishment for the complex crime.

2. ID.; "ALEVOSIA." — A sudden and unexpected attack upon a sleeping family by three
armed men constitutes alevosia.

3. ID.; ABUSE OF CONFIDENCE. — A woman whose husband was not at home, at the
earnest solicitation of the three defendants, neighbors of her, housed and fed them.
During the night, while their hostess and her children were sleeping, defendants made a
murderous attack upon them. Held, Abuse of confidence.



The defendants, Gregorio Villorente, Maximo Villorente, and Patricio Bislig, were tried,
convicted, and sentenced by the Court of First Instance of the Province of Capiz to be
hanged by the neck until dead, to indemnify Engracio Pineda in the sum of P2,000, to
indemnify the heirs of Vicente Debina in the sum of P500, and to pay the costs of the
cause, for the crime of robbery with homicide.

Engracio Pineda lived in the sitio of Agtongal, barrio of Rozal, municipality of Libacao,
Capiz Province. His family consisted of his wife, Maria Gomez, and two daughters
named Concepcion, 6.2 years of age, and Purificacion, 1 year and 2 months old. He
also had a servant boy named Vicente Debina, who was about 10 years old. His home
was situated on the bank of a river in a level space. He had planted the land
surrounding his house with hemp and coconuts. His nearest neighbor was not within
reach of the human voice and the houses in the vicinity were widely scattered. He left
his home on Friday, July 4, 1913, to go to Mamalampanay, and returned on the
following Tuesday, July 8, at about 1 o’clock in the afternoon. The usual and easiest
access to his home was by wading the river. As he left the river to go to his house, he
noticed some clothes of his wife, used by her when attending church, lying on its bank
and showing signs of having been rained on. Arriving at the house he saw blood on the
ground underneath the house, and through a hole in the wall of the house he saw the
severed arm of his wife. Ascending the stairs and pushing open the door, he saw the
servant boy lying dead in the sala (parlor) with his neck half severed, and a wound
extending from the shoulder to the abdomen, the intestines hanging out. In the
adjoining room near the door he found his wife lying dead with some 32 wounds on her
body, some of which had exposed a fetus 7 months old. At her feet lay his daughter
Concepcion with her neck entirely severed, save for a small piece of skin. A step away
lay his daughter Purificacion with her right leg cut off and a conclusion on the neck. The
bodies gave forth a putrid smell. He noticed three bloody footprints in the parlor, two on
the floor and one on a petate (mat). A chest containing his wife’s clothes, valued at
P50, jewelry valued at P70, and money to the amount of P155, was spattered with
blood, had been broken open, and the contents carried away. The fireplace, located
in the parlor, had also been destroyed and P170 secreted therein was gone. Pineda
immediately reported to the teniente (lieutenant) of the barrio, who issued a call to all
the inhabitants of the barrio to come to his house. On the following day the justice of
the peace held an investigation at the Pineda home, his report thereof substantiating
the testimony of Pineda as to the wounds on the bodies. In response to the lieutenant’s
call, all the residents of the barrio reported to him except these three defendants. The
lieutenant sent a man to Patricio Bislig, requesting him to come to the lieutenant’s
house, and immediately after his arrival there, on Sunday, July 13, he was arrested. On
the same day, Constabulary soldiers arrested his two codefendants, Gregorio and
Maximo Villorente, father and son. Pineda testified that a few weeks prior to the
commission of the crime he had accused Patricio Bislig of stealing coconuts and that
Patricio became very angry because of the accusation. He also testified that about a
year previous to the date of the crime, the defendant Gregorio Villorente had stayed at
his house one night while witness was absent and that during the night he had entered
the room where witness’ wife, the deceased, was sleeping, and made indecent
proposals to her which she declined to accept, and that she had complained to the
authorities. Witness identified the bloody footprints found by him in the parlor of his
home as Patricio’s. He stated that Patricio used to visit him often and that in coming up
the river they had sometimes measured their footprints and that he knew Patricio’s
footprint because it was unusually large and the big toe of each foot was spread apart
from the other toes.

Ana Villorente testified that she was the daughter of the defendant Gregorio Villorente,
the sister of the defendant Maximo Villorente, and the niece of Patricio Bislig, the latter’s
sister having married witness’ father. Prior to the murder she had lived with her father.
On Sunday, July 6, Pineda’s wife sent a servant to her asking that she come and stay
that night at the Pineda home because Pineda was not there. Her father and brother
were at home when the servant arrived and knew where she was going. She arrived at
the Pineda home Sunday afternoon and stayed there that night. Sometime during the
night and after she and Pineda’s wife and children had gone to sleep, the three
defendants came to the house and asked leave to enter, saying that they brought
shrimps which they wished to exchange for palay. Maria told witness to lower the stairs,
which she did, and the three defendants entered and exchanged their shrimps for
palay. They then requested something to eat and Maria gave them some rice which
they cooked in the fireplace and ate. While they were eating, witness and Maria
Gomez and her children sat in the doorway of the room watching them. The two
women were somewhat suspicious of Patricio as they knew he was angry because of
having been accused of stealing Pineda’s coconuts. Witness was also aware that her
father was displeased with Maria because she had not acceded to his desires. After the
defendants had eaten, Maria Gomez requested them to leave, saying that it was time
to retire and that it was not proper for them to stay there inasmuch as her husband was
absent. The defendants thereupon entreated her to let them stay until the moon rose
and asked for a mat that they might sleep in the parlor. Persuaded by their entreaties
and protestations of friendship, Maria gave them a mat and the men lay down in the
parlor, while the two women and the two children retired to the room. The servant boy
slept by the fireplace in the parlor. Witness was awakened by the heavy tread of
Patricio, whom she saw standing in the doorway of the room with a drawn bolo in his
right hand and a small kerosene lamp or torch in the other, which latter belonged to
the Pineda family. Witness attempted to seize the bolo and received a cut on the
thumb in the attempt. (Witness showed scar.) She asked him what he wanted and
Patricio replied that she had better get out if she wanted to live. Upon receiving this
reply witness aroused Maria Gomez, who, seeing the threatening attitude of Patricio,
began to plead for her life, telling him that if he wanted rice he could have the sack of
rice which was in the house. To this Patricio replied that he did not care for rice as he
could get all he wanted in Mamalampanay. Maria then offered him the money
contained in the chest and under the fireplace, and to this he replied that he could get
all the money he wanted by gambling. He told her to be silent as the hour had come
when she must pay for her fault. He then set the torch down in the doorway of the
room, and grasped Maria by the arm and wounded her. When the witness saw this, she
seized the child Purificacion and started to leave the parlor. Patricio followed her out
and took the child away from her. During the struggle for the child witness received a
wound on the right leg. (Witness showed scar 5 centimeters long.) After taking the child
away from her, Patricio pushed her and she fell out of the door on to the ground. She
immediately got up and made her escape. In coming out of the cuarto (room) into the
parlor witness saw her father enter the room with a drawn bolo, and saw her brother
Maximo wound the servant boy with his bolo. Just as Patricio took the infant child away
from her, her brother Maximo told witness to make her escape if she could do so. On
leaving the house she went directly to her sister’s house in Naroan, where she has since
lived. She told her sister about the crime and who were the authors and told her
brother-in-law to explain to the authorities that she was unable to appear before them
because her feet were sore and to tell them who had committed the crime. Her
brother-in-law met the Constabulary on Tuesday, July 8. On a Tuesday after she had
arrived at her sister’s house and while she was in the river washing her wounds, she saw
the three defendants on the other side of the river. She asked her brother where they
were going and he replied that they were going to Panay. They were carrying a
bundle. Prior to the crime she lived with her father, but since that time she had been
displeased with them because they did not heed her counsel on the night of the

Tito Andac testified that he knew all the accused because they live in the same barrio.
Two days after the lieutenant had requested all the residents to come to his house the
three defendants had not appeared and the lieutenant sent him on Friday, July 11, to
observe their movements. He came up to Patricio’s house after dark and through a
crack in the wall could see all three of the defendants there. They were talking among
themselves about the murder of the Pineda family and planning their escape. They had
a bundle from which came the sound of money. The lieutenant sent to Patricio asking
him to come in and Patricio came on Sunday, July 13, when he was arrested.

Epifanio Ricardo, a Constabulary soldier, testified that the defendants were all arrested
on July 13. When Patricio was placed under arrest he told the Constabulary that the
authors of the crime were his two codefendants. Pineda was present when he made
this statement. Pineda also testified that he was present and heard Patricio make this
statement. The witness Ricardo further testified that while he was conducting the
defendants from the barrio to the poblacion of Libacao it was necessary to swim across
a river, and that Patricio reached the other bank first and tried to escape. On seeing
this, Gregorio told the witness that the author of the crime was Patricio. The evidence of
the defense consists solely of the testimony of the three defendants themselves. They
categorically denied all the testimony of Ana Villorente connecting them with the
crime and claimed that they did not even know the Pineda family until after they had
been arrested. They each denied ever having been in the sitio of Agtongal where the
Pineda home was situated. This statement, of course, is contradicted by the testimony
of the witnesses Pineda and Ricardo, who heard the counter-accusations of Patricio
and Gregorio, and by the testimony of the witness Andac who heard them laying plans
for their escape on the night of July 11. Patricio claimed that he did not know Ana
Villorente, although Maximo Villorente testified that he was a cousin and on friendly
terms with the husband of this woman at the time she and her husband were living
together. Maximo testified that he had known Patricio since their arrest, while Patricio
states he had known Maximo and his father for about a year previous to the arrest. The
defendant father and son testified that Ana Villorente had a quarrel with her husband,
who had accused her of illicit intercourse with his brother, and that Ana’s father, the
defendant Gregorio, had reprimanded her for her conduct, whereupon she had run
away. Since that time her father stated that he did not know where she has lived.
Patricio admits crossing a river on the way to Libacao, but denies that he tried to
escape. Gregorio and his son Maximo testified that they did not live together, and that
on the day of their arrest Gregorio was at home sick and that his son was there
attending him.

From the above resume of the evidence, it will be seen that the defendants profess an
entire ignorance not only of the commission of the crime, but of acquaintance with the
unfortunate family. They produce nothing in the way of evidence to support these
assertions save their own declarations to that effect. The trial judge who heard these
witnesses testify and observed their demeanor on the witness stand, expressly states in
his decision that he was convinced that they were not telling the truth.

The statements of Pineda, who identified the defendants as having been known by him
for nine years; of Ana Villorente, bound to them in the closest relationship, who
witnessed the commencement of their horrible crime; of Andac, who heard them
talking about the murder and planning their escape; of Ricardo, who heard Patricio
and Gregorio in turn accuse each other as the author of the crime; taken together, are
too weighty to be overcome by the simple denials of the defendants that they did not
know the Pineda family. If the counter-accusations of Patricio and Gregorio cannot be
received as evidence against each other to prove that they actually participated in
the killing, such accusations do tend to show that they were testifying falsely in denying
all knowledge of the Pineda family. The testimony of the eyewitness, Ana Villorente, is
corroborated with regard to the grievances of Patricio and Gregorio by Pineda. The
same witness corroborates her testimony to the point that he was absent from his home
on the day the crime was committed; and that the family valuables were secreted in
the chest and under the fireplace. The witness Andac corroborates her testimony that
the three accused were guilty of the crime by his testimony as to the conversation
between the three accused which he overheard on the night of Friday, July 11. Pineda
and Andac agree that these three defendants were the only ones who did not report
to the lieutenant when the latter issued a call to the residents of the barrio to come to
his house to discuss the crime. The testimony of the witnesses for the prosecution, and
particularly that of the eyewitness, Ana Villorente, we find to have been given in a
straightforward manner, without attempt at evasion and without material

As above indicated, the testimony shows that Pineda had accused Patricio Bislig of
stealing coconuts about three weeks previous to the murder; that about a year prior to
that time Gregorio Villorente had stopped at Pineda’s house on a night when Pineda
was absent; that during that night he entered the room where Pineda’s wife was
sleeping; that he made improper proposals to her, which she declined to accept; that
she complained to the authorities on account of these indecent proposals; and that
Patricio on the night of the murder declined to accept rice and money, stating that he
could get rice in another place and could get all the money he needed by gambling.
This testimony tends to show that the motive on the part of Patricio and Gregorio in
murdering the Pineda family was revenge. The record fails to disclose any motive for
vengeance on the part of Maximo. The crime of robbery, under article 502 of the Penal
Code, is committed by any person who, with intent to gain, shall take any personal
property by the use of violence or intimidation against any person or force upon any
thing. Article 503 graduates the punishment for the crime of robbery when committed
with violence or intimidation against the person by taking into consideration the injuries
of the person attacked during the commission of the crime, and the penalty imposed
depends upon the seriousness of those injuries. The crime is that of robbery, but the
punishment is increased by reason of the manner in which it is committed. When a
person is charged with robbery, accompanied by violence against persons, it is as
essential to prove an intent to rob as it is in the crime of robbery with force upon things.
The fact that the injuries inflicted upon t persons in the commission of the crime might
be punished under other articles of the Code, such as those providing for parricide,
murder, homicide, lesiones, etc., is no more reason for convicting the defendant of the
crime of robbery, without proof of an intent to rob, than would be his conviction, when
charged with robbery by use of force upon things, of arson, malicious mischief, or other
crimes against property, because he had burned a house, broken open a door, or
otherwise injured property. When a person is charged with robbery, the intent to rob
must be proven. It therefore follows that if the defendants in the case under
consideration did not intend to commit robbery they cannot be convicted of the crime
charged — robbery with homicide. While it is true that Patricio and Gregorio sought to
wreak vengeance upon the wife of Pineda, this fact does not necessarily exclude the
hypothesis that they also intended, when they went to Pineda’s house on that night, to
rob the family. The fact that they did rob this family on that night after they had killed
the wife, two daughters, and a servant, shows that their object was not only
vengeance but also robbery. They had no grievance against the servant Vicente, and
the only object in killing the boy was to do away with him as a witness against them for
the complex crime which they intended to and did commit. So, we think, upon the
whole record, it clearly appears that the defendants’ motive in destroying the Pineda
family was that of robbery as well as vengeance.

In the commission of this crime there was present the aggravating circumstance of
treachery for the reason that it has been shown that the three men, armed with bolos,
suddenly attacked this unfortunate family at a time when they were helpless to defend
themselves. The defendants knew that they could destroy this family without any risk of
personal injury to themselves. Treachery is further shown by the fact that they killed the
helpless children. There was also present the aggravating circumstance of abuse of
confidence. The defendants were temporary guests on that night. The deceased wife
had been lulled into a sense of security by the soft spoken words of the defendants, so
much so that she extended the food and shelter of her humble home and went to
sleep, believing that the defendants were not intent upon harm. Other aggravating
circumstances might be mentioned, but these are sufficient, in the absence of any
mitigating circumstances, to justify the court in imposing the penalty in its maximum
degree. There were no mitigating circumstances present arising from the material
execution of the crime. In favor of Maximo Villorente, the fact that he was but 16 years
of age requires the application of the penalty next lower than that prescribed by law
for the offense.

The judgment of the court below sentencing Patricio Bislig and Gregorio Villorente to
death is affirmed. The judgment as to Maximo Villorente is modified by substituting for
the penalty of death that of seventeen years four months and one day of cadena
temporal. In all other respects the judgment appealed from is affirmed, with costs
against the appellants. So ordered.

45.[ GR No. 45450, Sep 22, 1937 ]


Acting under the influence of the superstition that witcheries still exist these days, and
under the absolutely unfounded and erroneous belief that the spouses Santiago Vite and
Isabel Taal, together with the members of their family, were witches, and that they were
responsible for the death of Fermin Pabatan, husband of the accused-Petra Tocmo,
sometime prior thereto in the Province of Bohol, the accused Getulio Masin, Jose Tongol,
Alejandro Laina, Simeon Aranas, Ambrosio Mabascug, Basilio Mangao and Cirilo
Aboabo, after conspiring to burn said family, actually killed the two spouses and their
nine-year old daughter named Bonifacia Vite, by first setting fire to the house where said
family lived and by beating them later with iron bars and sticks as the three jumped out
of the window one after another to save themselves from the fire, throwing the girl
Bonifacia Vite alive into the fire together with the body of her mother, in San Roque, within
the barrio of Map-an, of the municipality of Jimenez, Province of Occidental Misamis, on
December 22, 1935.
The seven accused, after having been charged with triple murder in only one information
on January 10, 1936, in the Court of First Instance of Occidental Misamis, together with
Petra Tocmo, widow of said Fermin Pabatan, with respect to whom the case was
dismissed during the trial upon petition of the fiscal and her defense counsel for lack of
evidence, were convicted of said three crimes. However, the lower court, which took
into consideration the mitigating circumstance of lack of instruction in favor of the
accused, confined itself to imposing upon them only one penalty, to wit: reclusion
perpetua with the accessory penalties thereof upon the accused Getulio Masin; and
seventeen years, four months and one day of reclusion temporal with, the accessory
penalties thereof upon the other six accused, who are Jose Tongol, Alejandro Laina,
Simeon Aranas, Ambrosio Mabascug, Basilio Mangao and Cirilo Aboabo, and all the
seven to indemnify the heirs of the three deceased jointly and severally in the sum of
P1,000. All appealed from their sentence and, although their attorney de oficio makes
no concrete assignment of error imputable to the lower court in his brief before this court,
he makes it understood that the lower court should not have given credit to the witnesses
for the prosecution Vicencio Jabla and Marciano Mangao who testified against the
appellants, and that they should not be given credit now in the appeal, being unworthy
of credit, taking into consideration the fact that they themselves were not free from the
commission of the three crimes in question.
The conclusions of fact summarized at the beginning are the same as those of the lower
court. They are certainly based on the testimony of the said witnesses Vicencio Jabla and
Marciano Mangao. After reading the record, this court cannot but hold that the veracity
of said witnesses cannot be doubted because there are facts and circumstances
corroborating them. They testified that on occasions prior to the date of the crime,
Getulio Masin had told them, in the presence of the other accused, that Fermin
Pabatan's death, which took place in the Province of Bohol some time before, had been
due to the witchcraft of the Vite spouses; that at about 5 o'clock in the afternoon of
December 22, 1935, the accused gathered in Marciano Mangao's house to drink "tuba"
and on said occasion Getulio Masin again mentioned that Fermin Pabatan's death had
been caused by said two deceased spouses; that they agreed to meet again as they in
fact met again at the same place at 8 o'clock on the night of said day, some armed with
bolos, as Getulio Masin, and with iron bars as Alejandro Laina, and others with sticks, in
order to decide definitely the elimination, by fire, of said spouses together with their entire
family, thereby ridding their barrio of witches and witcheries; that they provided
themselves with a can of gasoline for said purpose; that from said place they went to the
dwelling of their intended victims and when they thought them to be asleep, Getulio
Masin ordered the opening of the can of gasoline brought by them and carried by
Simeon Aranas; that he ordered Vicencio Jabla to ignite the gasoline after placing it
under the eaves of. the house, which the latter did; that to better assure the prompt
burning of the house, Masin also ordered Vicencio Jabla to spill the gasoline, which he
did by knocking down the can with a kick; that when the house was already in flames,
the inhabitants thereof woke up, and the girl Bonifacia was the first to jump through the
window; that she was received below with blows by Alejandro Laina; that although she
succeeded in getting up and in fleeing from he-r aggressors, she did not escape death
because Jose Tongol, Alejandro Laina and Simeon Aranas overtook her, the latter
carrying her and throwing her into the fire; that when she momentarily succeeded in
leaving the fire, Simeon Aranas again carried her and threw her back there; that when
Isabel Taal, in turn, jumped through the window, imitating her daughter,, she was likewise
received with blows by Basilio Mangao, Cirilo Aboabo and Ambrosio Mabascug, who hit
her on the head and on other parts of her body until she was dead, carrying her later
and throwing her into the fire; that while this was taking place, Santiago Vite, from the
window of the burning house, implored the accused to spare his life, but instead of taking
pity on him, Jose Tongol told him to jump out of the window once and far all in order that
they might kill him; that Santiago Vite, harassed by the fire upstairs and desiring to escape
therefrom, jumped to the ground, but Jose Tongol hit him on the head with the stick which
he carried, felling him to the ground; that while in such condition, he was thrashed by
Cirilo Aboabo, Basilio Mangao and Ambrosio Mabascug.
The triple murder was discovered on the following day and the authorities, who went to
the scene of the crime, found the burnt and mutilated bodies of Isabel Taal and her
daughter Bonifacia in the middle of what was once their house then reduced to ashes.
They also found the body of Santiago Vite^ with his bamboo internode for mashing
"buyo" beside him, directly below a part of the former eaves of the burnt house. In the
autopsy performed by Dr. Jose Contreras, there were discovered the facts stated by him
in his report as follows:
"(a) A male cadaver, almost in the process of putrefaction because of the third degree
burn and found in a kneeling position. The skin is completely burned that no signs of
external lesions could be determined. Fracture of the left side upper mandibular bone.
The left malar bone and the left maxillary bone completely smashed, so that two pieces
of the malar bone were detached. This was presumably struck by some hard blunt
instrument with force. This will cause instant death. Fracture of the part of the left side of
the frontal bone and left parietal bone; right side of same, intact. Left and right clavicle,
intact. The thumb of the right hand is missing. The 5th and 6th ribs of the left side,
fractured, also struck by force with some hard instrument. The 5th and 6th ribs of the right
side, intact. The tendon of Achillis of the left foot is cut, presumably with sharp instrument,
while that of the right side, intact.
"(b) This is a female cadaver because some of the hairs are not completely burned.
Almost in the process of putrefaction. The forearms of both the upper extremeties are
extinguished, together with the left leg and also the right thigh completely extinguished.
The skin is burned that no signs of external lesions could be determined. The upper and
lower mandibular bones are intact. There is complete fracture of the left and right
parietal bones. The blow must have been received at the left side, by some hard
instrument with force. Opening the fractured part, there is found still hemorrhage of the
brain of the left side and the fracture of the right parietal bone must have been only a
continuation of that of the left side.
" (c) Another cadaver, that of a child which is completely burned and the parts are
separated and it is almost impossible to find any lesions. The skull is completely burned,
including the face and both the extremities." (Exhibit H.)
It will be seen from the description of the fractures found in the bodies of the Vite spouses,
and from the burning of their house, that they were actually hit on the head with hard
and blunt instrument and burned later, thereby corroborating the testimony of the
witnesses Jabla and Mangao. On the other hand, the very testimonies of the accused
Jose Tongol, Alejandro Laina, Getulio Masin, Ambrosio Mabascug, Basilio Mangao,
Simeon Aranas and Cirilo Aboabo corroborate the fact that the seven, together with the
two witnesses whose veracity is questioned by them, were present at the scene of the
crime while the fire and the aggression committed against the Vite spouses and their
daughter Bonifacia were taking place,
Jose Tongol testified that it is true that they drank "tuba" in Mariano Mangao's house on
the afternoon in question; that when the girl jumped out of the window, she was hit with
a stick but by no other than the witness Vicencio Jabla himself; that the Vite spouses were
likewise hit, as their daughter, by said witness and by Mariano Mangao; and that
Bonifacia Vite was picked up by him when she was crawling after having been hit by
Jabla, but that Jabla took her from his arms in order to throw her into the fire.
Alejandro Laina, in turn, testified that he had seen at the scene of the crime not only his
co-accused but also Vicencio Jabla and Mariano Mangao, although he claims not to
have witnessed how the crime was committed. Simeon Aranas testified likewise.
Getulio Masin admitted having seen somebody drag the girl by the hand and Vicencio
Jabla throw her into the fire. He admitted further that he had seen Alejandro Laina and
Jose Tongol at the scene of the crime.
Ambrosio Mabascug admitted having gone to the scene of the crime but said that he
did not reach the place where the burned house was situated because at the chapel
nearby he met Jose Tongol and Marciano Mangao who told him not to tell anybody that
the Vites had already been burned and that he could then go home.
Basilio Mangao likewise admitted having gone to the scene of the crime when the
burned house was falling down; that he saw Vicencio Jabla and Marciano Mangao
there, and that after seeing them, he went home without doing anything else.
Cirilo Aboabo confined himself to stating in his testimony that he had not hit anybody,
but did not deny having gone with his co-accused from the house of Marciano Mangao
to the place of the Vites for the purpose of carrying out the plan premeditated by them,
according to the evidence for the prosecution.
It is evident that all the efforts of the accused were aimed at laying the blame on the
witnesses for the prosecution Vicencio Jabla and Marciano Mangao, who, in fact, are
mere youths of 25 and 24 years of age, respectively, and of no consequence in their
barrio. Contrasting this circumstance and the fact that Getulio Masin was lieutenant of
the barrio where the triple murder was committed and that he is 36 years of age; that
Cirilo Aboabo and Basilio Mangao are 40 and 35 years of age, respectively; and that
Alejandro Laina, is 26, Jose Tongol 25 and Ambrosio Mabascug 26, it will appear clear
that Vicencio Jabla and Marciano Mangao could not have been the ones who led the
movement to eliminate the Vites or who eliminated them. The accused being older in
years, and Getulio Masin having held the office of lieutenant of said barrio, could not
have patiently stood idly without taking any action against the two or without doing or
saying anything, as they allegedly did. They would have placed, them under arrest, or at
least, they would have prevented them from committing said act, if they had not wanted
to catch them and place them at the disposal of the authorities.
The lower court, referring to said two witnesses for the prosecution, stated as follows:
"This court,, however, is not inclined to believe and give any credit to the excuses of the
witnesses Vicencio Jabla and Marciano Mangao, in their desire to evade the criminal
responsibility they might incur, as their claim that their participation in the commission of
the crime was due to the threat against their lives on the part of "the accused Getulio
Masin, is highly improbable, if it is considered, as the evidence shows, that the crime was
committed by the accused by mutual agreement with said witnesses for the
It is possible that the two witnesses may not be as innocent as they claimed, but their
complicity in the triple crime, if any, did not render them incompetent to testify as
witnesses in the case and does not necessarily discredit their testimony, because, as
already stated, it has been corroborated in every detail not only by the other evidence
for the prosecution but also by the very testimony of the accused-appellants. Complicity
is no cause for discrediting the testimony of a supposed accomplice or coauthor of the
crime when, as in the present case, it is corroborated in all respects, particularly when
there is no evidence to show that it was prompted by some improper or, questionable
motive (People vs. Bautista, 49 Phil., 389; People vs. Resabal, 50 Phil, 780).
On the other hand, the lower court substantially gave credit to said witnesses and no
sufficient reason exists to reverse or modify its conclusions with respect to "the facts on
which they testified, all the witnesses in the case having appeared, as they did appear,
before it, and consequently its opportunity to examine them, observe their manner and
scrutinize their demeanor during the trial, for the purpose of ascertaining the truth, was
better and more ample (People vs. De Asis, 61 Phil., 384; People vs. Garcia, 63 Phil., 296).
By reason of the foregoing considerations, this court is convinced of the guilt of the
accused, but what is the nature of their responsibility?
In the case of United States vs. Balaba (37 Phil., 260), this court said that when an
information charges more than one offense and no objection is entered against tlie
continuation of the trial upon said information, the accused should be declared guilty of
each and every one of the offenses proven and imputed to him therein. The same
doctrine should be followed in this case because, it being alleged in the information that
three crimes were committed not simultaneously indeed but successively, inasmuch as
there was, at least, solution of continuity between each other, the accused should be
held responsible for said three crimes. This court holds that the crimes are murder: one
committed on the person of Santiago Vite; another on that of Isabel Taal, and another
on that of the girl Bonifacia Vite. The first two crimes are characterized by the qualifying
circumstance of evident premeditation and by the generic aggravating circumstances
of nighttime, dwelling and in band, with no mitigating circumstance except that of lack
of instruction, which may naturally be inferred from the fact that the accused believed
in witchery. The last crime is, in turn, characterized by the qualifying circumstance of fire,
and by the generic aggravating circumstances of treachery, in band, nighttime and
cruelty, with no mitigating circumstance to offset them except lack of instruction. In view
of all these circumstances and of the so frequently reiterated doctrine that once
conspiracy is proven each and every one of the conspirators must answer for the acts of
the others, provided said acts are the result of the common plan or purpose
(People vs.Dayug and Bannaisan, 49 Phil., 423: People vs. Chan Lin Wat, 50 Phil, 182;
People vs. Daos, 60 Phil., 143; People vs. Cu Unjieng, 61 Phil., 236, 906, and the authorities
therein cited), it would seem evident that the penalty that should be imposed upon each
of the appellants for each of their three crimes should be the same, and this is the death
penalty, because, much as one may wish, the mitigating circumstance of lack of
instruction would compensate only one of the aggravating circumstances proven (arts.
248 and 64, rule 4, Revised Penal Code). However, as there has been no unanimity
among the members of the court in the imposition of the death penalty, it is inevitable to
follow the provisions of section 138 of the Revised Administrative Code, as amended by
section 2 of Commonwealth Act No. 3, that is: to impose upon the appellants the penalty
next lower in degree, or reclusion perpetua.
Wherefore, the appealed judgment is modified by sentencing the appellants: (a) for the
murder of Bonifacia Vite, to the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to indemnify jointly
and severally the heirs thereof in the sum of P1,000, and (b) for the murder of Santiago
Vite, to suffer the penalty of ten years, which is one-third of the duration of reclusion
perpetua computed on the basis of thirty years, according to the provisions of article 70
of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Commonwealth Act No. 217, refraining from
imposing two-thirds of said penalty because in so doing, the limit of the duration of the
penalties that may be imposed upon them for their said three crimes would be
exceeded, which duration should in no case exceed forty years (second to the last
paragraph of the above-cited article); and this court refrains from imposing the penalty
deserved by them for the murder of Isabel Taal, for the same reasons just stated.
Each and every one of the appellants is further sentenced to indemnify the heirs of the
deceased Santiago Vite in the sum of P1,000, and those of the deceased Isabel Taal in
the same amount, jointly and severally in each case, and to pay proportionately the
costs of the proceedings. So ordered.
Avancena, C. J., Villa-Real, Abad Santos, Imperial, Laurel, and Concepcion, JJ., concur.