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FRONDA [222 SCRA 71 (1993)] FACTS: At about 6:00 o'clock in the morning of June 11, 1986, the deceased Eduardo (Edwin) Balaan And Esminio Balaan who are brothers, were taken by seven (7) armed men in fatigue uniform with long firearms, suspected to be NPA members, accompanied by accused Rudy Fronda and Roderick Padua from the house of one Ferminio Balaan, at Barangay Cataratan, Allacapan, Cagayan. The said Rudy Fronda and Roderick Padua are residents of the same place. The armed men tied the hands of the deceased at their back lying down face downward, in front of the house of Ferminio Balaan. The armed men together with Roderick Padua and Rudy Fronda proceeded towards sitio Tulong, Cataratan, Allacapan, Cagayan passing through the ricefields (taking along with them the Balaan brothers). Three years later, the bodies or remains of the Balaan brothers were exhumed. Afterwhich, the remains, were brought to the house of Freddie Arevalo, a reltive of the deceased where they were laid in state for the wake. CONTENTION OF THE ACCUSED: Appellant interposes the exempting circumstance of uncontrollable fear (Art. 12 [6] RPC) claiming that all his acts were performed under the impulse of uncontrollable fear and to save his life. CONTENTION OF THE STATE: The chain of circumstances as narrated above will show that he has rendered the required assistance intentionally and knowingly, which led to the execution of the felony. His external acts more than explain his participation as principal by indispensable cooperation. HELD: Appellant cannot claim the exempting circumstance of uncontrollable fear (Art. 12, par. 6, RPC). Fear in order to be valid should be based on a real, imminent or reasonable fear for one's life or limb (People vs. Abanes, 73 SCRA 44, [1976]). In the case at bar, records indicate that appellant was seen being handed by and receiving from one of the armed men a hunting knife. Also, as aforesaid, appellant was not able to explain his failure to report the incident to the explain his failure to report the incident to the authorities for more than three (3) years. These circumstances, among others, establish the fact that appellant consciously concurred with the acts of the assailants. In order that the circumstance of uncontrollable fear may apply, it is necessary that the compulsion be of such a character as to leave no opportunity to escape or self-defense in equal combat. (People vs. Loreno, 130 SCRA 311, [1984]) Appellant had the opportunity to escape when he was ordered by the armed men to go home after bringing the victims the mountains. He did not. Instead he joined the armed men when required to bring a spade with which he was ordered to dig the grave. Appellant also chose to remain silent for more than three (3) years before reporting the killing to the authorities. Based on these circumstances, we hold that the contemporaneous and subsequent acts of appellant cannot be regarded as having been done under the impulse of uncontrollable fear.

NIGHTTIME PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. RONNIE MACTAL y AZARCON, appellant. FACTS: Appellant and the deceased were married by a Catholic priest in Gapan, Nueva Ecija, on March 23, 1985. However, their union was not a happy one, beset by frequent violent quarrels due to appellants drinking, gambling and womanizing. The couple separated a number of times but deceased Evelyn always came back to her husband inspite of the physical abuse because she loved him. As appellant failed to earn a living for his family, Evelyn ran a small sari-sari store located in front of their house. On the night of the incident, July 14, 1995, at around 7:00 p.m., appellants brother-in-law, Romeo Rivera, whose house was right beside the couples, heard the couple arguing but he did not mind them as he was used to their arguments. At around 8:00 p.m., Liwayway Rillon, the deceaseds good friend, went to the store to buy something but did not stay long as Evelyn seemed to be in a bad mood and was getting ready to close the store. Through the door of the store, Rillon saw appellant inside the store and the couples children sleeping in bed; their living quarters were adjacent to the store. At around midnight, appellant went to Riveras house to check whether his wife Evelyn was there. Rivera did not reply but instead asked if the two had a quarrel. The appellant answered in the negative. Rivera, his wife and appellant conversed in the formers garage for about 30 minutes; with the Rivera couple suggesting places where appellant should look for his wife. Then appellants sister-in-law went to appellants house and peeped inside the unlighted room of the couple but did not find her sister, the deceased. After this, the Rivera couple returned to their house and went to sleep. At around 1:00 a.m., Alfred Young, on board a tricycle, was passing by appellants house. From a distance of 15 meters, he saw Evelyn seated on a wooden chair in front of the window of the house. She appeared lifeless because her head was hanging. Appellant was about an arms length away from Evelyn and, when he saw the tricycle, he disappeared into a unlighted part of the house. At about the same time, Romeo Adayo, who was walking home, saw appellant. The latter was about 20 steps away from him, carrying the body of his wife Evelyn over his right shoulder, face up, with the head at appellants back and the legs in front. Appellant was walking very fast towards a dark street. As Adayo was very tired after his trip from Manila, he did not call appellant and just continued walking. The body of Evelyn was discovered by a neighbor at around 5:00 a.m., 15 meters away from her house.

CONTENTION OF THE STATE: Guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of parricide, as charged, attended by the aggravating circumstances of nighttime and for having taken advantage of his superior strength in the commission of the crime, accused Ronnie Mactal is sentenced to suffer the penalty of death by lethal injection

HELD: The trial court erred in appreciating the aggravating circumstances of nighttime and abuse of superior strength against appellant. As pointed out by the Solicitor General: Nighttime could not be appreciated as an aggravating circumstance where no evidence was presented showing that nocturnity was especially sought by the accused nor taken advantage of by him to facilitate the commission of the crime or to insure his immunity from captive. Likewise, abuse of superior strength requires, at base, a deliberate intent on the part of the malefactor to take advantage thereof. There must be a situation of strength notoriously selected and made use of by the offender in the commission of the crime. Here, there is no evidence showing that appellant purposely sought the cover of darkness to insure the commission of the crime. Neither is there evidence establishing that appellant wielded strength notoriously selected and made use of it in the commission of the crime. Moreover, abuse of superior strength cannot be appreciated in this case because it is inherent in the crime of parricide as it is generally accepted that the husband is physically stronger than the wife.[12] There being no aggravating nor mitigating circumstance, the proper imposable penalty is reclusion perpetua.



PROSECUTIONS CASE:Surviving victim Herminigildo Damuag on Nov 24, 1997, he was driving his motorcycle with Alden Abiabi riding with him at the back. When they reached Pica Lumber, a white car overtook their motorcycle and blocked their path, forcing him to slow down. Another motorcycle, with 2 riders on it, appeared behind the first motorcycle. From a distance of 2-3meters, 1 of the riders of the second motorcycle suddenly fired 2 shots in close succession. Damuag attempted to look at the tires of his motorcycle, thinking that they have exploded. Suddenly, Abiabi pushed him with his body. Abiabi fell from the motorcycle and slumped on the pavement face down. The white car sped away. As Damuag was trying to control his motorcycle, he noticed another motorcycle (third motorcycle) passed by from behind him. His motorcycle zigzagged towards the gutter. Damuag was thrown off and hit the ground. He stood up and realized that he was hit at the right side of his body. He then heard a burst of gunfire from behind. Oco was at the back of the third motorcycle, fired his gun at him but missed. Damuag was able to run. However, the third motorcycle chased him. Upon reaching the vicinity of Five Brothers restaurant, Damuag stopped because he could not pass anymore. From a distance of about 4-5 meters, Oco again fired 2 more shots at Damuag.Damuag was rushed to the Hospital. He survived the attack due to the timely medical attention given to him. Abiabi did not survive the ambush. He sustained 8 gunshot wounds on the different parts of his body. The prosecution theorized that the shooting incident was drug-related. The late Abiabi was a known anti-drug advocate while the Oco was a suspected drug lord.

CONTENTION OF THE ACCUSED: Oco claimed that on Nov 24, 1997, he played mahjong from 3-9 pm. At around 9 pm, he went home and went out to look for his 5- year old son. Not able to find his son, Oco proceeded to Sambagan to meet Boy Misa.. Oco also passed by the Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel and noticed the door opened so he went in to look at the clothes of the Virgin for he intended to change the Virgins clothes for the forthcoming fiesta celebration. Upon entering the chapel, the appellant saw a group of women who informed him that the scheduled meeting was postponed. Oco was seated at the cement floor for a few minutes when he heard an unusual burst. He did not bother to investigate the origin or nature of the unusual burst. He asked some people inside the chapel if they had seen Boy Misa but none of them did. He went out of the chapel, proceeded to a store across the chapel, and inquired from a group of persons milling around the store the whereabouts of Misa. The appellant proceeded home and went to bed. His son and daughter soon arrived and slept with him. A few minutes later, his wife, along with his sister-in-law and some neighbors, awakened him and told him that his kumpadre and good friend, Abiabi, was shot, he was shocked upon learning the information because the victim had no known enemy.The appellant was thus surprised when he learned that he was implicated in the shooting of Alden. He and Abiabi were good neighbors and friends and he had no motive to kill the victim.

ISSUE: The appreciation of VOLUNTARY SURRENDER as a mitigating circumstance.

HELD:The presence of the aggravating circumstance of the use of motor vehicle would have raised the penalty to death if not for the presence of the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender which the trial court failed to appreciate. For voluntary surrender to be appreciated, the following requisites should be present: (1) the offender has not been actually arrested; (2) the offender surrendered himself to a person in authority or the latters agent; and (3) the surrender was voluntary. Further, the surrender must be spontaneous in such a manner that it shows the interest of the accused to surrender unconditionally to the authorities. All these requisites have been complied with in the case at bar. Immediately upon learning the issuance warrant of arrest, and without having been served on him, Oco voluntarily surrendered himself. Ocos testimony as to the circumstances of his voluntary surrender was never rebutted. He Like any other common criminal, the appellant could have opted to go on hiding. But he chose to surrender himself to the authorities and face the allegations leveled against him. True, he did not admit his complicity to the crimes charged against him but he nonetheless spared the government of time and expense. For this, he should be credited with the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender.