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Aggravating Circumstances: Taking advantage of public office

People v Capalac
GR No. L38297

Date of Promulgation: Oct 23, 1982
Ponente: Fernando, CJ.
Petition: Appeal from a decision of CFI of Iligan
Petitioners: People of the Philippines
Respondents: Mario Capalac

Facts:
Moises Capalac, the brother of accused Mario Capalac (a police officer), was stabbed by
Jimmy Magaso. Following this incident, in the cockpit of Iligan, Jimmy was trying to escape
when he was confronted by the Moises brothers (Mario and Jesus
1
) and 2 other companions
2
.
The attempt of Jimmy to board a jeep was unsuccessful; he having alighted after two shots were
fired in succession. Knowing that he was completely at the mercy of the two brothers, he raised
his hands as a sign of surrender, but they were not appeased. He was pistol-whipped by
Mario, and after having fallen in the ground, was stabbed on the chest 3-4 times by Jesus.
He died on the way to the hospital.

Mario was convicted of murder, as qualified by evident premeditation and treachery. The
lower Court also found that he took advantage of his position as a police officer. He was
sentenced to death.

Mario appealed, thus this review.

Issues/Held:
1. WON there is an aggravating circumstance of taking advantage of public
office/position NO
2. WON there was
a. Conspiracy - YES
b. Treachery YES
c. Evident premeditation NO
d. Mitigating circumstance of immediate vindication YES

Ratio:
1. The mere fact that appellant Mario is a member of the police force did not by itself justify
the aggravating circumstance of taking advantage of public office/position. He acted
like a brother (of Moises), instinctively reacting to what was undoubtedly a vicious
assault on his kin. He pistol-whipped the deceased because he had a pistol with him.
It came in handy and he acted accordingly. That he was a policeman is of no
relevance in assessing his criminal responsibility.

2. a. There was conspiracy since the two brothers, as well as their 2 companions,
apparently had one purpose in mind, to avenge the stabbing of Moises. They all acted
in concert.

b. There was treachery since the crime was committed to insure that Jimmy would die.
His situation was hopeless. Any defense he could have put up would be futile and
unavailing. There was also no risk to the aggressors since two other companions
assisted them.

c.There is no evident premeditation. The brothers were prompted by their desire to
avenge Moises. They went after Jimmy, assaulted him, and relied on the weapons

1
Jesus has already died and so he was not included as an accused in the information filed.
2
The two companions were not named and were not included in the information.
that they carried. There was no evidence that they deliberately employed means to
add ignominy to the natural effects of the act.

d. There is mitigating circumstance of immediate vindication since the purpose of the
crime was to vindicate the stabbing of Moises by Jimmy.


Decision:
Decision modified. In lieu of mitigating circumstance of immeadiate vindication, penalty of death
is lowered to 10 years and 1 day of prision mayor min to 17 years, 4 mos, and 1 day of reclusion
temporal max. Decision affirmed in all other aspects.

Opinions:
Concur:
Concepcion, Guerrero, Abad Santos, Melencio-Herrera, Plana, Escolin, Relova