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RAMIE VALENZUELA, Petitioner,
G.R. No. 149988
CARPIO-MORALES, J., Acting Chairperson,
- versus -
CARPIO, CHICO-NAZARIO, LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, and
PEOPLE OF THEPHILIPPINES, Promulgated: Respondent.
August 14, 2009 x ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
depth Stap wound 1 cm flank area left. CR No. to reverse the Court of Appeals (CA) decision and resolution dated June 18.R. 2001. confederating and mutually helping one another. 3 cm. that affirmed with modification the decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC). bladed instrument. Lingayen. in the evening. in Barangay Maniboc. taking advantage of their superior strength. assault and stab Gregorio P. the timely medical assistance afforded to Gregorio P. the above-named accused. and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court. We summarized below the facts based on the records before us. in CA-G. armed with a sharp pointed. with intent to kill. municipality of Lingayen. dated November 21. Hermie Valenzuela (Hermie). that is. province of Pangasinan. depth the accused having thus performed all the acts of execution which would have produced the crime of murder as a consequence but nevertheless did not produce it by reason of causes independent of the will of the accused. Philippines. unlawfully and feloniously attack. convicting the petitioner with the crime of attempted murder. . Pangasinan. J.: Petitioner Ramie Valenzuela (petitioner) seeks. conspiring. Cruz which prevented his death. were charged with the crime of frustrated murder. 3 cm. did then and there willfully. allegedly committed as follows: That on or about the 20th day of February 1996.BRION. 2001 and September 10. Branch 38. Cruz. Petitioner and his brother. 1996. 20533. respectively. inflicting upon him the following: Stab wound 1 cm flank area left. to his damage and prejudice. in this petition for review on certiorari.
charging the two accused with frustrated murder. Rogelio and Pepito drank liquor (Fundador). Gregorio suffered the following wounds: Stab wound 1 cm flank area left. Finding probable cause. Gregorio was brought to the clinic of one Dr. Pangasinan. On May 16. He was transferred the following day to the Pangasinan Provincial Hospital (now Gov. Gregorio P. an Information was filed before the RTC of Lingayen. 1996. Rivera). both lived in Barangay Maniboc. While they were walking along the barangay road and were near the Valenzuelas’ residence/sari-sari store. Pangasinan. the latter's husband. Rogelio Bernal (Rogelio). While at the dela Cruz home. Casipit who administered emergency treatment on the stab wounds. the petitioner and his brother Hermie suddenly appeared from behind them. In the early evening of February 20. Gregorio. Per the medical findings of Dr. at around 10:00 o’clock of that same evening. Based on the prosecution’s account of the events. Pangasinan a criminal complaint forfrustrated murder against the petitioner and Hermie. Immediately thereafter. the court issued a warrant for their arrest and forwarded the records of the case to the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Pangasinan for the filing of the appropriate Information. 3 cm depth. Lingayen. Cruz (Gregorio). went to the house of Barangay Captain Aurora dela Cruz to talk with Pepito. After the stabbing. Stab wound 1 cm flank area left. Gregorio was discharged after one week of confinement. Teofilo Sison Memorial Hospital) for further treatment. Gregorio and Rogelio left the dela Cruz residence and headed for home after their “drinking spree” with Pepito dela Cruz. Melchor of the Lingayen Police Station filed before the Municipal Trial Court of Lingayen. Antonio Rivera (Dr. Hermie ran to the direction of the Valenzuelas’ house some 10 meters away.Petitioner and the victim. 1996. The petitioner held the shoulders of Gregorio while Hermie stabbed Gregorio twice at the left side of his back. The wounds were found not to be fatal. 1996. as no vital organ was affected. . 3 cm depth. SPO II Jimmy B. On March 13. attending physician and Medical Officer III of the said hospital. Gregorio and his companion.
and then to the clinic of a certain Dr. and still is. prevented him from going out of the house for fear that he might get into trouble. Earlier that night. his sister. Casipit for emergency treatment. then watched television. 1996. he accompanied Gregorio to the house of their Barangay Captain to talk to the latter's husband. presented his defenses of denial and alibi. and Rogelio took Gregorio initially to the house of Barangay Captain dela Cruz. they drank as they talked with Pepito. the two assailants ran towards their house. He claimed that on the night of February 20. Rogelio was able to positively identify the petitioner and Hermie as Gregorio's assailants. however. Rivera of the Pangasinan Provincial Hospital who explained his medical findings on the injuries Gregorio sustained.” Rogelio claimed that Hermie used an 8-inch long knife. He said that the 2 one-centimeter long wounds. He declared that he was the Chief Barangay Tanod of their place and that he knew the two accused because they were residents of his barangay. Hermie. ate dinner with his family and guests. he took Gregorio to the Pangasinan Provincial Hospital in Dagupan City because the wounds appeared to be “serious. he claimed that he read the Bible. as the scene of the crime was well-lighted. at large. his sister’s friend. The prosecution likewise presented Rogelio who declared that on the night of February 20. Thereafter. As they headed for home while passing by the Valenzuelas’ house/sari-sari store. After the stabbing. and his parents. his parents. after pleading not guilty to the charge. while Hermie stabbed the victim. The petitioner. both three-centimeter deep. he was at home together with his uncle. At around 10:00 o’clock that evening. the petitioner suddenly appeared from behind and held Gregorio.Trial of the case proceeded solely with respect to the petitioner as his brother and co-accused. The prosecution presented Dr. Gregorio. illuminated by a streetlight from a nearby electric post. Pepito dela Cruz. The rest of his testimony was similar to Rogelio’s. were not fatal as no vital organ was affected. 1996. . The victim. was then. they heard somebody shouting from the outside. likewise testified for the prosecution.
They learned from their inquiry that Hermie had stabbed Gregorio. she witnessed Gregorio hit Hermie on the left side of the face. while she and Annie were manning the Valenzuelas’ store. Since he arrived after dark. She declared under oath that she is a friend of Annie Valenzuela. is his common-law partner. He further surmised that Gregorio could have mistaken him for his brother. Gregorio. both appeared drunk as they were walking aimlessly. Nestor testified that he is a businessman and a resident of Dagupan City. Hermie was among those in the group. as the petitioner’s maternal aunt. Willy Valenzuela arrived and joined the group singing and playing the guitar in front of the store.The petitioner claimed he was being implicated in the stabbing incident because he had a previous altercation with the victim. Witnesses Nestor Cerezo (Nestor) and Rhodora Manzano (Rhodora) supported the petitioner’s defense of alibi. Thereafter. with whom he shares physical similarities and who. the younger sister of the accused. He claimed that the petitioner is his nephew. the parents of the accused prevailed on him to dine and spend the night with them. she noticed Gregorio and Rogelio walking past the store. ahead of the other members of the household who were then in conversation with another visitor. when the latter apprehended his other brother. Rogelio tried to pacify him. Josefina Campos. At about 9:45 pm. At around 10:00 pm. 1996. was one of the assailants in the stabbing incident. She then heard Gregorio shout “vulva of your mother. the two momentarily stopped and stared at the group in front of the Valenzuelas’ store before proceeding to another sari-sari store nearby. she saw Hermie approach Gregorio to confront him. At about 10:00 o’clock that night. Rommel Valenzuela. In a blur. Valenzuela” three times. the petitioner was inside the house because his father had prevented him from going out. On February 20. he went to the Valenzuelas’ house to collect payment on a debt owed him by the parents of the accused. he claimed. As they walked. At this point. He stated that on February 20. Rhodora also testified for the defense. They had dinner at about 6:30 pm. Nestor claimed that all this time. they heard a commotion outside the house. while he was talking with the petitioner and the latter's father (Rosauro). Annie invited her to sleep in their house. Hermie retreated to his house but came back and stabbed Gregorio at the left side of his back. whom she later learned to be Nestor. Willy. She noticed that Willy then held the arms of Gregorio in an attempt to mollify the latter. Gregorio responded by hitting Willy on the head. He and Rosauro went out and saw several persons talking. 1996. she heard Willy .
She categorically declared that the petitioner had no participation in the incident. although not annulling it. who dodged the blow and stabbed Gregorio a second time. there is abuse of superior strength in the case where four persons attacked an unarmed victim (People v. while Gregorio and Rogelio proceeded to the house of Barangay Captain Dela Cruz. Willy and Hermie. Garcia. were at the scene of the crime. bladed instrument twice on the left side of the back. Thus. Gonzales). Ramie Valenzuela. instead of heeding the advice. in the light of all the foregoing considerations. taking into account the provision[s] of Article 250 of the Revised Penal Code and the Indeterminate Sentence Law in his favor. The dispositive portion of the lower court's decision reads: WHEREFORE. 1996. Right after the stabbing. considering the momentary positions of both parties and the employment of means weakening the defense of the victim. she saw Hermie run to the direction of the Valenzuelas’ house. convicting the petitioner of frustrated murder. Rogelio. 94 SCRA 14) or where six persons inflicted injuries on the victim (People v. x x x In appreciating the qualifying circumstance of abuse of superior strength. pursuant to law. the trial court rendered its decision of November 21. guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Frustrated Murder as charged in the information filed against him. . Abuse of superior strength is determined by the excess of the aggressors natural strength over that of the victim's.advise Gregorio to go away to avoid further trouble. The trial court found that the petitioner’s defense of alibi had insufficient evidentiary support and must yield to the positive identification by the prosecution witness. After trial on the merits. hereby sentences said accused to suffer the indeterminate penalty of four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional as minimum to eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor as maximum and to pay the costs of the suit. the court finds and holds the accused. Gregorio threw a fist blow at Hermie. as only the petitioner's brothers. the trial court explained: The information filed against the accused alleges that the two accused took advantage of their superior strength in attacking and assaulting the offended party with sharp pointed.
We find the petition meritorious. as minimum. notwithstanding. in his Reply. even if proven. thus. This conclusion. finds the appreciation of abuse of superior strength to be erroneous. thus paving the way for the present petition for review on certiorari on the sole issue of — WHETHER THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN CONVICTING THE PETITIONER FOR ATTEMPTED MURDER. Thus framed. it was either attempted or frustrated murder. the sole issue before us is whether the crime the petitioner committed should properly be attempted murder based on the qualifying circumstance of abuse of superior strength. while the CA decided that it was attempted because the victim’s wounds were not fatal. (Emphasis supplied. as the Information charging him with the crime of frustrated murder did not allege this circumstance with particularity as a qualifying circumstance. In its decision of June 18.The petitioner appealed to the CA. The fallo of the CA decision reads: WHEREFORE. must be considered a generic aggravating circumstance. in particular.” “aggravating.” We find this reasoning erroneous.” “qualifying. it held that the crime committed was attempted murder since the wounds inflicted were not fatal. They differ in the appreciation of the stage of execution of the crime as the RTC considered the crime frustrated. we hold that the conviction of the accused of the crime of either attempted or frustrated murder is substantively flawed. 2001. the appealed decision is hereby AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATION. In lieu thereof.” or “aggravated by” need not be expressly stated. We see no merit in the petitioner's contention in light of our ruling in People v. . Aquino which we intended to guide the bench and the bar on how to allege or specify qualifying or aggravating circumstances in the Information. so long as the particular attendant circumstances are specified in the Information. In both rulings. The petitioner therefore posits that this circumstance. We held in this case that the words “aggravating/qualifying.” The trial court. premises considered. the RTC and the CA characterized the act to be qualified by abuse of superior strength. Our own examination of the evidence tells us that no conclusive proof exists showing the presence of this circumstance in the commission of the felony. as both the RTC and the CA erroneously appreciated the presence of abuse of superior strength as a qualifying circumstance. The petitioner. as maximum x x x. another one is entered CONVICTING the accused of the crime ofATTEMPTED MURDER and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of imprisonment of four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional.” “qualified by. The RTC and the CA commonly found an intent to kill.) The appellate court denied the petitioner's motion for reconsideration that followed. the appellate court affirmed with modification the trial court’s decision. held that “there is no doubt that accused took advantage of their combined strength when one held the victim by the shoulder and armpit and the other inflicted two stab wounds on the left side of his back. Both the trial and appellate courts concluded that abuse of superior strength was present because the petitioner “held the arms of the victim to facilitate the stabbing by his brother (Hermie) and to limit the degree of resistance that the victim may put up. to eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor.
20533 is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. to three (3) years of prision correccional in its medium period. size and strength of the parties. while the assailants were simply singing and engaged in merrymaking. The victim and his companions were simply passing by after a night of conversation with drinks. Petitioner Ramie Valenzuela is found guilty of attempted homicide under Article 249 in relation with Article 6 of the Revised Penal Code. we are compelled to rule out the attendance of abuse of superior strength as a qualifying circumstance. strength. In terms of numbers. and no conscious effort on the part of the accused appeared to have been made to use or take advantage of any superior strength that they then enjoyed. or that they had the deliberate intent to use this advantage. is not per se indicative of abuse of superior strength. one of them armed with a knife. as shown by the two stab wounds and their location. except for the showing that two assailants. The evidence on this point is simply too sketchy and too confused for a definitive conclusion. thus a parity in numbers existed. Gregorio. on the whole. Considering further that the victim sustained wounds that were not fatal and absent a showing that such wounds would have certainly caused his death were it not for timely medical assistance. Mere superiority in numbers does not indicate the presence of this circumstance. Even if the accused did not directly wield the knife. to us. we do not find it certain nor clearly established that the accused. purposely resorted to holding the victim by the arms so that the knife-wielder would be free to stab him at the back.Abuse of superior strength is present whenever there is a notorious inequality of forces between the victim and the aggressor/s that is plainly and obviously advantageous to the aggressor/s and purposely selected or taken advantage of to facilitate the commission of the crime. Evidence must show that the assailants consciously sought the advantage.R. he is as guilty as the knifewielder for the unity of purpose he has shown in participating in the attack against the victim. 2001 in CA-G. In light of all these. the victim was with a companion while only two of the Valenzuela brothers participated in the attack. CR No. is certain is the intent to kill. In the present case. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated June 18. In fact. what the evidence shows in this case is a victim who is taller than the assailants and who was even able to deliver retaliatory fist blows against the knife-wielder. WHEREFORE. In the absence of any modifying circumstance attendant to the commission of the crime. Nor can the circumstance be inferred solely from the victim’s possibly wea ker physical constitution. attacked the victim. The testimonies of the witnesses. size. they were back wounds that could have been fatal or near fatal had greater force been used or the dynamics of the parties’ movements at the time of the stabbing been different. The events leading to the stabbing further belie any finding of deliberate intent on the part of the assailants to abuse their superior strength over that of the victim. as maximum. the prosecution failed to present evidence to show a relative disparity in age. one of them armed with a knife. or force. . taking advantage of their number. Nor is it certain that the victim was simply overwhelmed by the act of the accused of holding the victim by the shoulders while his brother stabbed him at the back. we declare the petitioner’s guilt to be limited to the crime of attempted homicide. What. the petition is GRANTED. To take advantage of superior strength means to purposely use force excessively out of proportion to the means of defense available to the person attacked. The presence of two assailants. The appreciation of this aggravating circumstance depends on the age. we hereby sentence him to suffer an indeterminate penalty of four (4) months of arresto mayor in its medium period. as minimum. Specifically. show that the encounter between the victim and his assailants was unplanned and unpremeditated.
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