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SECOND DIVISION

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 169060


Appellee, [Formerly G.R. No. 154915]
Present:
- versus
- QUISUMBING, J.,
Chairperson,
CARPIO,
CARPIO MORALES,
JOEY CONCEPCION y PEREZ, TINGA, and
Appellant. VELASCO, JR., JJ.
Promulgated:
February 6, 2007
x----------------------------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
TINGA, J.:
For review is the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals affirming with modification the Judgment[2] dated 24
June 2002 of the Regional Trial Court[3] (RTC) Branch 12 of Malolos, Bulacan, finding appellant Joey
Concepcion y Perez guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder, and sentencing him to suffer
the penalty of reclusion perpetua.
In an Amended Information[4] filed by Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Salvador R. Santos, Jr. on 1
December 1998, appellant was charged with murder, thus:
Criminal Case No. 423-M-98
That on or about the 26th day of December 1997, in the municipality of Bustos, province of Bulacan,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, armed with a
knife, with intent to kill one Rolando F. Nicolas, with treachery, did then and there wilfully (sic), unlawfully
and feloniously attack, assault and stab with the said knife said [sic] Rolando F. Nicolas, hitting him on his
abdomen, thereby inflicting upon him serious physical injuries which directly caused the death of the said
Rolando F. Nicolas.
Contrary to law.
On 19 March 1998, appellant was originally charged with homicide in an Information [5] filed before the RTC,
Branch 77 of Malolos, Bulacan. However, following the execution of her Karagdagang Sinumpaang
Salaysay,[6] eyewitness Carmencita Balia (Balia),[7]common-law wife of victim Rolando F. Nicolas (Nicolas),
filed a motion for reinvestigation[8] before the RTC, Branch 77. This motion was granted[9] and after the
completion of reinvestigation, the Amended Information for murder was filed. The case was thus re-raffled
and assigned to RTC, Branch 12.
When arraigned, appellant pleaded not guilty to the charge.[10] Subsequently, the defense manifested at
pre-trial that while appellant indeed stabbed Nicolas in the stomach once, he did so however in selfdefense. For this reason, the trial court, upon agreement of the parties, ordered the conduct of reverse
proceedings with the defense first to present its evidence on the alleged self-defense. [11]
The pre-trial order[12] issued by Judge Crisanto C. Concepcion embodied the stipulations agreed upon by the
parties as follows: (1) the identities of the accused and the victim; (2) the date, time and place of the
commission of the charged offense, that is, 26 December 1997, 12:10 in the morning, in Barangay
Tanawan, Bustos, Bulacan; (3) that the cause of death of the victim was the single stab wound to the
stomach; and (4) that prosecution witnesses Balia, Jeffrey Lopez (Lopez) and Precy Baldazo (Baldazo) gave
their respective statements to the police authorities, and this being so, the testimonies of the police officer
who took the statements and the medico-legal officer may already be dispensed with. [13]
Trial promptly ensued thereafter. To substantiate his theory, the defense presented as witnesses the
appellant, appellants father, appellants mother, and SPO4 Eduardo Cuison, the arresting officer. The
defenses version of the incident runs, thus:
At about 11 oclock in the evening of 25th of December 1997, appellant and his friend Lopez joined Nicolas,
Balia, and their companions Gilbert de Guzman and Lenin Baldazo at the drinking session and holiday
festivities then going on in the house of appellants aunt Precy Baldoza. [14]
The trouble that night allegedly began when appellant attempted to flirt with Balia by touching her hand
when she passed the videoke microphone to him. According to appellant, what he did angered the victim,
causing the latter to utter in a loud voice, Putang ina mo, multo ka.[15] Immediately thereafter, Balia
purportedly asked appellant to leave to avoid further problems. Thus, appellant claims to have gone, but

that he was prompted to return to retrieve his mother, who had been left there in the course of their
heated argument.[16]
As he returned to fetch his mother, while situated about two (2) meters from his aunts house, so appellant
narrates, Nicolas suddenly appeared and pulled out a knife. Appellant approached Nicolas and asked, Ano
ba ang problema? In the course of their argument, appellant allegedly attempted to wrestle the knife away
from the victim. Consequently, in their struggle to gain possession of the knife, appellant and Nicolas fell
on the ground, with the latter landing on top of appellant. According to appellant, he was surprised to see
that the knife had pierced the stomach of Nicolas. Confused, as he was himself bloodied, appellant
explains, he ran away and left the victim without helping him. [17]
Appellant went straight to his home where he told his wife and father about what had transpired. His father
then went to the police station and came back with two (2) police officers. [18]
To counter the defenses account of the incident, the prosecution presented Balia who claimed to have
witnessed the killing of the victim. Her testimony attested to the following facts:
In the evening of 25 December 1997, appellant and Lopez joined a get-together at the house of Baldazo
where, among others, Nicolas and Balia were present. Throughout the night, the group drank beer and
sang in celebration of the holidays. Sometime during the drinking spree, however, Balia noticed that
appellant had surreptitiously left in a hurry without explanation and thereafter disappeared for a
considerable amount of time. Balia believes that at that point, appellant went home to get the murder
weapon as his mother appeared at the venue of the festivities thereafter and inquired whether her son had
a fight with anyone.[19]
At around 11:45 that evening, the festivities ended uneventfully. Appellant, who was first to leave the
group, seated himself in the veranda outside the house. He was followed by his mother, Nicolas, Balia and
the rest. As Balia and Nicolas were going out of the house and into the veranda, the latter paused and
stooped slightly to light a cigarette.[20]
Balia saw appellant suddenly stand up, rush toward Nicolas and stab him. Thereafter, appellant fled.
Nicolas was stunned, managing to utter only the words, Why, Joey? before collapsing. He was rushed to a
nearby hospital where he expired.[21]
The Autopsy Report[22] on the victim shows that the cause of his death was the stab wound in his abdomen.
It describes the stab wound as follows:
xxxx
STAB WOUND
gaping, 2.5 cms. located on the abdomen, along the anterior median line, 102 cms. from the right heel,
one end is sharp, the other is contused, directed backwards and upwards involving the skin and underlying
soft tissues, severing the omentum and intestines and hitting the liver with a depth of 8-9 cms.
xxxx
The prosecution asserts that appellant harbored ill-feelings toward Nicolas as a result of a disagreement
some three (3) years back. Nicolas had purportedly reprimanded appellant for extorting money from those
engaged in quarrying operations in their area. The victim had then allegedly poked a gun at appellant in
one of their encounters.[23]
To prove actual damages, Balia presented receipts in the amount of P50,000.00 representing the expenses
incurred during the wake and the service for the victims funeral. [24]
Finding the prosecutions version to be more credible than appellants allegation of self-defense, the trial
court found appellant guilty of murder and sentenced him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, to
indemnify the heirs of the victim in the amount ofP75,000.00, in addition to P50,000.00 for funeral
expenses as actual damages, and P50,000.00 as moral damages.[25]
Conformably with this Courts decision in People v. Mateo,[26] appellants appeal was remanded to the Court
of Appeals. On 9 May 2005, the appellate court rendered its decision affirming the appellants conviction,
with modification as to appellants civil indemnity. The dispositive portion of the decision states:
WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan (Branch 12), dated June
24, 2002, in Criminal Case No. 423-M-98, finding appellant Joey Concepcion y Perez guilty of murder and
sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and awarding actual and moral damages in
favor of the legal heirs of the victim Rolando F. Nicolas is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION that the civil
indemnity awarded by the trial court also in favor of the said heirs is reduced to Fifty Thousand Pesos
(P50,000.00). No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.[27]
Appellant maintains that the court a quo gravely erred: (1) in giving full faith and credence to the
testimony of Balia instead of the self-defense interposed by appellant; (2) in appreciating the qualifying

circumstance of treachery; and (3) in finding appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
murder.[28]
Appellant argues that all the essential elements of self-defense were sufficiently established to exculpate
him from liability. He contends that no evidence on record shows that he intended to kill the victim; if at all,
the death of the victim was purely accidental and only triggered by the provocation committed by the
victim when he attacked appellant with a knife.[29]
We are convinced of the appellants guilt beyond reasonable doubt, however, the downgrading of the
offense involved and the reduction of the penalty are in order.
Case law has established that in invoking self-defense, whether complete or incomplete, the onus
probandi is shifted to the accused to prove by clear and convincing evidence all the elements of justifying
circumstance, namely: (a) unlawful aggression on the part of the victim; (b) the reasonable necessity of the
means employed to prevent or repel it; and (c) lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person
defending himself.[30]
We find that appellant has miserably failed to demonstrate that the death of Nicolas had occurred on the
occasion of a legitimate self-defense on his part. The accused, in cases of self-defense, must rely on the
strength of his own evidence and not on the weakness of the prosecutions evidence since he admits the
commission of the alleged criminal act.[31] One who admits the infliction of injuries which caused the death
of another has the burden of proving self-defense with sufficient and convincing evidence, for even if the
evidence of the prosecution were weak, it could not be disbelieved after the accused himself had admitted
the killing.[32] Self-defense, like alibi, is a defense which can easily be concocted. If the accuseds evidence
is of doubtful veracity, and it is not clear and convincing, the defense must necessarily fail. [33]
Accordingly, there can be no self-defense unless there was unlawful aggression on the accused. It thus
follows that the accused has the burden of proof to show that he was the victim of an unlawful aggression
in order to be entitled to his claim of self-defense.[34] This is so, because it is a fundamental principle that
one who exculpates himself with an allegation of justification has the burden of fully showing the
concurrence of all the elements constituting the defense invoked. [35]
Unlawful aggression presupposes not merely a threatening or an intimidating attitude, but an actual,
sudden and unexpected attack or an imminent danger thereof, which imperils ones life or limb. [36] It is the
first and primordial element of self-defense. Without it, the justifying circumstance cannot be invoked. [37]
Hence, it is crucial to determine whether or not the victim Nicolas was indeed the unlawful aggressor. He
was not. Aggression to be unlawful must be actual and imminent, such that there is a real threat of bodily
harm to the person resorting to self-defense or to others whom that person is seeking to defend. As
adequately established by the prosecution, there was no incident to speak of which would amount to
aggression, much less unlawful aggression, on the part of the victim. Correspondingly, appellant failed to
present any corroborative evidence to buttress his bare allegations, despite the presence of many persons
during the incident who could have been called to testify. His lone testimony in support of his claim of selfdefense under the circumstances is simply not enough to establish his defense.
Appellant is not even sure of his real defense. He asserts that his acts were made in self-defense, but he
suggests at the same time that the victims death was accidental. The incongruent claims make his overall
theory implausible.
While appellants slaying of Nicolas is a proven fact, the prosecution however failed to prove the presence
of treachery to qualify the killing to murder.
There is treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against the person, employing means,
methods, or forms in the execution thereof which tend directly and specially to insure its execution,
without risk to himself arising from the defense which the offended party might make. [38]
In the case at bar, the Courts below should not have appreciated the presence of treachery to qualify the
killing to murder. The only prosecution evidence on the matter is the bare testimony of Balia, the victims
common-law wife, that his head was bent while lighting a cigarette when appellant launched his
attack. Balia made the claim for the first time in her Karagdagang Sinumpaang Salaysay,[39] as she failed to
mention it in her first Sinumpaang Salaysay.[40] The amendment appears to be a mere afterthought made
precisely to upgrade the charge to murder.
Significantly, two of the companions of Nicolas during the festivities gave statements to the police
authorities.[41] However, the prosecution did not present them as witnesses. Hence, their statements
cannot be considered as evidence.[42]
In the absence of conclusive proof on the manner in which the aggression against Nicolas was
commenced, treachery cannot be appreciated as a modifying circumstance. [43] It bears stressing that
treachery cannot be presumed. It must be proved with the same quantum of evidence as the crime itself.
[44]

The barefaced fact that the victim might have been unaware or helpless when he was stabbed does not
constitute proof of treachery.[45] The prosecution has the burden to prove that at the time of the attack, the

victim was not in a position to defend himself, and that the offender consciously and deliberately adopted
the particular means, method and forms of attack employed by him. [46] When the prosecution fails to prove
treachery, as in this case, the accused may be held liable only for homicide not murder. [47]
As a final matter, we address the issue of appellants claimed mitigating circumstance of voluntary
surrender. For voluntary surrenderto be considered, the following requisites must concur: (a)
the offender was not actually arrested; (b) he surrendered to a person in authority or to an agent of a
person in authority; and (c) his surrender was voluntary. [48] There must be showing of spontaneity and an
intent to surrender unconditionally to the authorities, either because the accused acknowledges his guilt or
he wishes to spare them the trouble and expense concomitant to his capture. [49] The records show that
appellant did not surrender but was arrested in his residence by SPO4 Cuison. This arresting officer even
had to go twice to appellants home to effect the arrest, because during the first attempt, appellant would
not come out of his house and his mother refused to turn him over to the arresting officer. [50]

Based on the foregoing, we modify the finding of guilt and the consequent penalty imposed as pronounced
by the Court of Appeals. Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), as amended, prescribes the penalty
of reclusion temporal for the crime of homicide. There being neither mitigating nor aggravating
circumstances in the commission of the deed in the instant case, the penalty ofreclusion temporal in its
medium period is imposed, in accordance with Article 64, paragraph 1 of the RPC. Further, applying
Section 1 of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the Court imposes the penalty of imprisonment ranging from
ten (10) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as minimum, to seventeen (17) years and four (4) months
of reclusion temporal, as maximum.
We affirm, however, the award of damages. Consequently, the court finds appellant liable to the heirs of
Rolando F. Nicolas in the amount of P50,000.00 as actual damages for funeral expenses, P50,000.00 as
moral damages and P50,000.00 as civil indemnity.[51]
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 00519, is AFFIRMED WITH
MODIFICATION. As modified, appellant JOEY CONCEPCION y PEREZ is convicted of the crime of homicide
and sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment ranging from ten (10) years and one (1)
day of prision mayor, as minimum, to seventeen (17) years and four (4) months of reclusion temporal, as
maximum. Appellant is further ordered to pay the heirs of Rolando F. Nicolas the amounts ofP50,000.00 as
actual damages, P50,000.00 as moral damages and P50,000.00 as civil indemnity. No pronouncement as
to costs.
SO ORDERED.
DANTE O. TINGA Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:
LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
Associate Justice
Chairperson
ANTONIO T. CARPIO CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
Associate Justice Associate Justice
PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.
Associate Justice
ATTESTATION
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was
assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.
LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Second Division
CERTIFICATION
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairpersons Attestation, it is
hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the
case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.
REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

[1]

Rollo, pp. 3-23; CA rollo, pp. 103-104. Penned by Associate Justice Aurora Santiago-Lagman and
concurred in by Associate Justices Conrado M. Vasquez, Jr. and Rebecca De Guia-Salvador.

[2]

CA rollo, pp. 20-24 and 63-67.

[3]

Presided by Judge Crisanto C. Concepcion.

[4]

Records, Vol. 1, pp. 60-61; Vol. II, pp. 1-2, 3-4 and 5-6.
Id.
[6]
Id. at p. 33-34.
[5]

[7]

Also referred to as Carmencita Balena and Carmencita Balea in the case records.

[8]

Records, Vol. 1, pp. 31-32.


Id. at 62-63. Resolution dated 15 October 1998.
[10]
Id. at 90; Order dated 27 February 2001.
[9]

[11]

Id. at 92; Order dated 9 March 2001.

[12]

Id.

[13]

Id.; TSN, 9 March 2001, pp. 2-9.

[14]

TSN, 19 June 2001, pp. 8-9.


Id. at 10-11; TSN, 17 July 2001, pp. 2-3.
[16]
TSN, 17 July 2001, pp. 3-4; 2 August 2001, p. 2.
[17]
TSN, 2 August 2001, pp. 2-5.
[18]
Id. at pp. 5-6.
[19]
Records, Vol. 1, p. 39.
[20]
TSN, 22 January 2002, pp. 5-6; Records, p. 4.
[21]
TSN, 22 January 2002, pp. 6-7, 11.
[22]
Id. at 155.
[23]
Supra note 5; TSN, 22 January 2002, supra at pp. 9-10.
[24]
TSN, 22 January 2002, pp. 15 and 16.
[25]
CA rollo, pp. 23-24 and 66-67.
[26]
G.R. Nos. 147678-87, 7 July 2004, 433 SCRA 640.
[27]
Rollo, p. 22; CA rollo, p. 123.
[28]
CA rollo, p. 51.
[29]
Id. at 59-61.
[30]
Roca v. Court of Appeals, 403 Phil. 326, 335 (2001) citing People v. Gadin, Jr., G.R. No. 130658, 4 May
2000, p. 6, citing People v. De la Cruz, 313 SCRA 189 (1999); People v. Bitoon, 309 SCRA 209 (1999),
and People v. Villamor, 292 SCRA 384 (1998).
[31]
Id. citing People v. Caverte and Caverte, G.R. No. 123112, 30 March 2000, p. 19, citing People v.
Obzunar, 265 SCRA 547 (1996).
[32]
Cabuslay v. People, G.R. No. 129875, 30 September 2005, 471 SCRA 241, 256, citing People v. Belbes,
389 Phil. 500, 507; 334 SCRA 161, 167-168 (2000).
[33]
People v. Artiaga, G.R. No. 115689, 30 June 1997, 274 SCRA 685, 693, citing Cantos v. Court of Appeals,
234 SCRA 375 (1994).
[34]
FRANCISCO, EVIDENCE (1996, 3rd ed.) 397 citing People v. Barrieta, 45 O.G. 3945.
[35]
Id. citing People v. Bona, 37 O.G. 657.
[36]
People v. Cabuslay, supra note 32 at 257 citing People v. Sabdani, 389 Phil. 840, 847; 334 SCRA 498,
505 (2000); People v. Janairo, 370 Phil. 59, 72; 311 SCRA 58, 71 (1999).
[15]

[37]

R. KAPUNAN and D. FAYLONA, CRIMINAL LAW (1993 ed.) 58; People v. Cabuslay, supra note 32 at 257
citing People v. Cawaling, 355 Phil. 1, 37; 293 SCRA 267 (1998);People v. Tan, 373 Phil. 990, 1009, 315
sCRA 375, 392 (1999); People v. Aglipa,391 Phil. 879, 888; 337 SCRA 181, 189 (2000); Salcedo v.
People, G.R. No. 137143, 8 December 2000, 347 SCRA 499, 507; People v. Asuela, 426 Phil. 428, 443-444;
376 sCRA 51, 64 (2002); People v. Magnabe, Jr., 435 Phil. 374, 390; 386 SCRA 351, 364 (2002) .
[38]

REVISED PENAL CODE, Art. 14, No. 16, par. 2.

[39]

Records, Vol. 1, pp. 33-34.

[40]

Id. at 4-5.

[41]

Rollo, p. 7.

[42]

Peoples Bank and Trust Company v. Leonidas, G. R. No. 47815, 11 March 1992, 207 SCRA 165, 166
citing People v. Brioso, L-28482, 37 SCRA 336 (1971).
[43]

People v. Santiago, 446 Phil. 323, 340 (2003); citing People v. Macaliag, 337 SCRA 502 (2000).

[44]

People v. Santiago, supra.

[45]

Id.

[46]

People v. Ramos, G.R. No. 125898, 14 April 2004, 427 SCRA 207, 214; citing People v.
Castillano, Sr., G.R. No. 139412, 2 April 2003, 400 SCRA 401.
[47]

People v. SPO2 Magnabe, Jr., 435 Phil. 374 (2002).

[48]

People v. Suyum, 428 Phil. 465, 481 (2002); People v. Ignacio, 382 Phil. 257, 267 (2000); People v.
Deopante, 331 Phil. 998 (1996).
[49]

Roca v. Court of Appeals, 403 Phil. 326, 338 (2001) citing People v. Salas, G.R. No. 115192, 7 March
2000, p. 10.
[50]

TSN, 4 October 2001, p. 8.

[51]

People v. Manalo, G.R. No. 173054, 5 December 2006.

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Manila
F I RST DI VI SIO N
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
Plaintiff-Appellee,
- versus -

ROLANDO DAGANI y REYES

G.R. No. 153875


Present:
PANGANIBAN, C.J.,
(Chairperson)
YNARES-SANTIAGO,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CALLEJO, SR. and
CHICO-NAZARIO, JJ.

and OTELLO SANTIANO Y


LEONIDA,
Promulgated:
Accused-Appellants.
August 16, 2006
x--------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
For review before the Court is the Decision dated June 20, 2002[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) which
affirmed the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of the City of Manila, Branch 12 (RTC), dated February 18,
1993, in Criminal Case No. 89-77467, finding the accused-appellants Otello Santiano y Leonida (Santiano)
and Rolando Dagani y Reyes (Dagani) guilty of the crime of Murder.
The accusatory portion of the Information reads:
That on or about September 11, 1989, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused conspiring and
confederating together and mutually helping each other did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously, with intent to kill, evident premeditation and treachery, attack, assault and use of personal
violence upon one ERNESTO JAVIER Y FELIX by then and there shooting him with a .38 caliber revolver,
thereby inflicting upon the said ERNESTO JAVIER Y FELIX mortal gunshot wounds which were the direct and
immediate cause of his death thereafter.
CONTRARY TO LAW.[2]
Upon arraignment, the appellants pleaded not guilty. Trial ensued where the prosecution adduced
evidence to establish the following:
At about 4:45 in the afternoon of September 11, 1989, a group composed of Ernesto Javier (Javier), Lincoln
Miran (Miran), and two other individuals had been drinking at the canteen located inside the compound of
the Philippine National Railways (PNR) along C.M. Recto Avenue, Tondo, Manila. All of a sudden, appellants,
who were security officers of the PNR and covered by the Civil Service Rules and Regulations, entered the
canteen and approached the group. Appellant Dagani shoved Miran, causing the latter to fall from his
chair. Dagani then held Javier while Santiano shot Javier twice at his left side, killing the latter.
The defense proceeded to prove their version of the facts:
Appellants testified that they were ordered by their desk officer to investigate a commotion at the
canteen. Upon reaching the place, Santiano ordered his co-accused, Dagani, to enter, while the former
waited outside.
Dagani approached Javier who had been striking a bottle of beer on the table. Javier then pulled out a .22
caliber revolver and attempted to fire at Dagani, but the gun failed to go off. Then suddenly, while outside
the canteen, Santiano heard gunfire and, from his vantage point, he saw Javier and Dagani grappling for a .
22 caliber gun which belonged to Javier. During the course of the struggle, the gun went off, forcing
Santiano to fire a warning shot. He heard Javiers gun fire again, so he decided to rush into the
canteen. Santiano then shot Javier from a distance of less than four meters.
Appellants invoked the justifying circumstances of self-defense and lawful performance of official duty as
PNR security officers. They also argued that the prosecution failed to establish treachery and conspiracy.
The RTC rendered its Decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, finding both accused Otello Santiano y Leonida and Rolando Dagani y Reyes guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of Murder defined and punished under Art. 248, RPC, with the presence of
the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender and granting them the benefit of [the] Indeterminate

Sentence Law, both accused are hereby sentenced to each suffer an Indeterminate prison term of TEN (10)
YEARS and ONE (1) DAY of prision mayor as minimum, to EIGHTEEN (18) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY
of reclusion temporal x x x.
Both accused are hereby ordered to indemnify the heirs of the victim the sum of P50,000.00 as death
indemnity, the sum of P31,845.00 as funeral and burial expenses, the sum of
P30,000.00 as and for [sic] attorneys fees and the further sum of P1,000.00 per appearance of counsel.
Both accused shall be credited with the full extent of their preventive imprisonment. Both accused are
hereby committed to the Director, National Penitentiary, Muntinlupa, Metro Manila for service of Sentence.
SO ORDERED.[3]
In brief, the RTC held that appellants failed to prove that Javier attempted to squeeze the trigger of the .22
caliber gun when he pointed it at Dagani; that during the course of the struggle for the possession of the .
22 caliber gun, the danger to the life of the accused ceased to be imminent; that in grappling for the
weapon, Dagani controlled the hands of Javier and pushed them away from his body; that the appellants
failed to produce the two empty shells as physical evidence of the gunfire allegedly caused by Javier; that
no points of entry or bullet markings on the walls of the canteen were shown; that, in light of these
findings, no unlawful aggression was present on the part of the victim; that the appellants failed to prove
that they were on official duty at the time of the incidence; that, since it was not established that Javier
actually fired his gun, the injury inflicted upon him cannot be regarded as a necessary consequence of the
due performance of an official duty; that the appellants were acting in conspiracy; that the qualifying
circumstance of treachery attended the killing, considering that Javier had been shot while his hands were
being held by Dagani and as his body was out of balance and about to fall; and that the mitigating
circumstance of voluntary surrender should be appreciated in favor of the appellants.
The appellants appealed to the CA and assigned the following errors:
I
THE LOWER COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT APPRECIATING SELF DEFENSE ON THE PART OF THE ACCUSED.
II
THE LOWER COURT ERRED WHEN IT FAILED TO CONSIDER THE FACT THAT THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS
WERE IN LAWFUL PERFORMANCE OF AN OFFICIAL DUTY.
III
THE LOWER COURT GRAVELY AND SERIOUSLY ERRED IN RULING THAT THERE WAS CONSPIRACY.
IV
THE LOWER COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE PROSECUTION WAS ABLE TO ESTABLISH
BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT THAT THE ACCUSED ARE GUILTY OF MURDER.[4]
The CA rendered its Decision, the dispositive portion of which states:
WHEREFORE, the appealed judgment of conviction is MODIFIED. Appellants are hereby sentenced
to reclusion perpetua. The award for attorneys fees and appearance fees for counsel are hereby deleted. In
all the other aspects, the appealed decision is maintained.
Let the entire records of the case be elevated to the Supreme Court for the mandated review.
SO ORDERED.[5]
The CA affirmed the findings of fact as well as the salient portions of the RTC Decision, but deleted the
award of attorneys fees and the per appearance fees of counsel since, the
CA reasoned, the instant case is criminal in nature which is under the control of the public prosecutor, and,
additionally, the RTC failed to justify this award in the body of its Decision. And last, the CA found that the
RTC erroneously applied the Indeterminate Sentence Law since the penalty for Murder, at the time of the
incident, was reclusion perpetua which is an indivisible penalty to be imposed in its entirety, regardless of
the attending mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender.
A ppe l l ants a re now be fore thi s C ourt su bmi tti n g for re sol uti on t he sa me ma tte rs arg ue d
be fo re the C A. Throu gh t hei r Ma ni fe st ati on d ate d Fe bru ary 1 1, 20 03 , [ 6 ] a ppe l l ants pr aye d
to di s pe nse wi th t he fi l i ng of addi ti o nal bri e fs.
As of date , the re cords show that de spi te the e ff orts exe rte d b y the sure t y and the
re s ponsi ble l aw offi ce rs to l ocate the appe l l ants, t he l atte r coul d not be fou nd a nd h ave
j um pe d bai l . [ 7 ]
The ap pe al is par tl y me ri tori ous.
A ppe l l ants argue th at the courts a quo mi sap pre ci ate d the facts an d e rre d i n fi n di ng that
the re w as no unl aw ful a gg re ssi on on the p art of t he vi cti m. The y i nsi st th at the vi cti m,
J avie r, ha d bee n arme d w i th a re vol ve r at t he ti me he w as str ug gl i ng w i th a ppe l l ant
Da gani ; tha t the forme r coul d have easi l y kil l e d the l atte r; th at, gi ve n the fact t hat J avie r
ha d be e n dri nki n g, i t i s qui te p ro babl e for J avie r to act harshl y a nd a gg re ssi vel y tow ards
pe ace offi ce rs such as the accuse d; [ 8 ] and that Javi e r actual l y fi re d thre e shot s fro m hi s .
2 2 cal i be r gu n. [ 9 ]

We are not co nvi nce d.


W he n se l f-de fe nse i s i nvo ke d, the burde n of e vi de nce shi ft s to the accuse d to show that
the ki ll i n g w as le gal l y j usti fi e d. Havi ng ow ne d t he ki ll i n g of the vi cti m, the accuse d
sho ul d be abl e to p rove to the sati sfac ti on of the C ourt the el e me nt s of se l f- de fe nse i n
orde r to avai l of thi s exte nuati ng ci rc ums tance . He m ust di sch arge thi s b urde n by cle ar
an d convi nci ng evi de nce . W he n succe ssful , an ot he rw i se fe l oni ous dee d w oul d be
excuse d, mai nl y pre di cate d on t he l ack of cri mi nal i nte nt of the accuse d. Se l f- de fe nse
re qui re s t hat t he re be (1 ) an unl aw f ul ag gre ssi on by the pe rson i nj u re d or ki l le d by the
off e nde r, (2 ) re aso na ble ne ce ssi ty of the me ans e mpl oye d to p re ve nt or re pel th at
u nl aw ful ag gre ssi o n, and (3 ) l ack of suffi ci e nt p ro vocati o n on the par t of the pe rson
de fe ndi ng hi mse l f. Al l t he se con di ti ons m ust conc ur. [ 1 0 ]
Unl aw f ul agg re ssi on, a pri mordi al e le me nt of se l f- de fe nse , w oul d p re su ppose an act ual ,
su dde n a nd u nexpe cte d att ack or i mmi ne nt d an ge r on the li fe and l i mb of a pe rson no t a
me re th re ate ni n g or i nti mi d ati n g atti t ude [ 1 1 ] b ut mos t i mpor tantl y, at the ti me the
de fe nsi ve acti on w as take n agai ns t the agg re sso r. [ 1 2 ] To i nvo ke se l f- de fe nse succe ssf ul l y,
the re must have be e n an
u nl aw ful an d un provoke d attack th at e nda nge re d the li fe of the accuse d, w ho w as the n
fo rce d to i nfl i ct se ve re w ounds upo n the assai l ant by e mpl oyi n g re aso na ble me ans to
re si st the at tack. [ 1 3 ]
I n the i nsta nt case , t he asse rti ons that i t w as q ui te p ro ba ble th at J avie r, duri n g the
cour se of t he str ug gle for the fi re arm, coul d have easi l y kil l e d the appe l l ants are
u nce rtai n an d spe cul ati ve . The re i s a gg re ssi on i n con te mpl ati o n of the l aw onl y w he n t he
one att acke d face s re al an d i mme di ate th re at to o ne s l i fe. The pe ri l so ugh t to be avoi de d
m ust be i mmi ne nt and actual , not j ust spe cul ati ve . [ 1 4 ]
To su m up the matte r, we quo te t he fi n di ngs of the C A:
The de fe nse w as u nabl e to p rove tha t the re w as unl aw f ul agg re ssi on o n the part of
J avie r. The y w e re una ble to p re se nt e vi de nce th at the vi cti m act ual l y fi re d hi s g un. N o
spe n t she ll s f rom t he . 22 cal i be r pi stol we re fou nd and no bul l e ts we re re cove re d from
the sce ne of the i nci de n t. J avi e r al so te ste d ne gati ve for gu npow de r re si due . More ove r,
the tri al court foun d ap pe ll a nt Dag ani s accou nt of t he i nci de nt to be i ncre di bl e and se l fse rvi ng. I n su m, the de fe nse p re se nte d a ba re cl ai m of se l f- de fe nse w i tho ut any proof of
the exi ste nce of i ts re qui si te s. [ 1 5 ]
Eve n i f i t we re e stabl i she d t hat J avie r fi re d hi s gu n as the ap pel l an ts so i nsi st, the
i mmi ne nce of the da nge r to t hei r l i ve s ha d al re a dy ce ase d the mome nt Da gani he l d dow n
the vi cti m an d gr ap ple d for the gun wi th the l atte r. Afte r the vi cti m ha d be e n th row n off b al ance , t he re w as no l onge r any unl aw ful ag gre ssi on
th at w oul d have ne ce ssi tate d the act of ki ll i n g. [ 1 6 ] W he n an u nl aw ful ag gre ssi on that has
be g un no l onge r exi sts, t he one w ho re sor ts to sel f-de fe nse has no ri g ht to ki l l or e ve n to
w ou nd the forme r agg re ssor. [ 1 7 ] W he n J avie r ha d be e n cau ght i n t he str ug gle for the
po sse ssi on of the gu n wi t h ap pel l an t Daga ni , t he gr ave pe ri l e nvi sage d b y ap pel l ant
S anti a no, w hi ch i mpe l le d hi m to fi re at the vi cti m, ha d the n ce ase d to a re aso nabl e
exte nt, [ 1 8 ] an d u ndo ubte dl y, S anti a no w e nt be yond the call of se l f-p re se rvati on w he n he
p roce e de d to i nfl i ct the exce ssi ve an d fatal i nj uri e s on J avie r, eve n w he n the al le ge d
u nl aw ful ag gre ssi o n had al re ady ce ase d. [ 1 9 ]
The se cond e le me nt of se l f- de fe nse de ma nds that t he me an s e mpl oye d to ne utr al i ze t he
u nl aw ful ag gre ssi o n are re aso na ble an d ne ce ssar y. I t i s se ttl e d t hat re a sona bl e ne ce ssi ty
of t he me ans e mpl oye d doe s not i mpl y mate ri al comme ns ura bi li ty be twe e n the me ans of
at tack an d de fe nse. W hat the l aw re q ui re s i s rati onal e qui v ale nce . [ 2 0 ] The ci rcum stance s i n
the i r e nti re ty w hi ch surrou nd t he gr ap pl i ng of t he fi re arm by Daga ni and Javi e r, suc h as
the na tu re and num be r of gu nshot w ound s sustai ne d by the vi cti m [ 2 1 ] w hi ch a mou nte d to
tw o fat al w ounds, [ 2 2 ] that Daga ni w as abl e to re st rai n the ha nds of J avie r an d pus hthe m
aw ay f ro m hi s bod y, [ 2 3 ] that Daga ni w as l arge r than Javi e r and had fi ni s he d Spe ci al
We apo ns an d Tacti cs (S WAT) han d-t o ha nd comba t trai ni n g, [ 2 4 ] an d J avie r, as ad mi tte d by the appe l l ants, w as i ne bri ate d at the
ti me of the i nci de nt, [ 2 5 ] do not j usti fy ap pel l ant San ti anos act of fatal l y sho oti ng the
vi cti m tw i ce. [ 2 6 ]
Al l thi n gs consi de re d, the ap pel l ant s pl e a of se l f- de fe nse i s not corro borate d by
com pe te nt e vi de nce . The pl e a of se l f- de fe nse ca nnot be j usti fi a bl y e nte rtai ne d w he re i t i s
no t onl y unc orrob orate d b y any se par ate compe te nt e vi de nce b ut i s i n i tse l f extre me l y
do ub tful . [ 2 7 ] W he the r the accuse d acte d i n se l f- de fe nse i s a que sti on of fact. L i ke al i bi ,
the affi rm ati ve de fe nse of sel f-de fe nse i s i nhe re n tl y we ak be cause , as expe ri e nce has
de mo nstra te d, i t i s e asy to fabri ca te a nd di ffi cul t to di sprove . [ 2 8 ] Thi s C ourt, the re fore ,
fi n ds no re ve rsi bl e e rror on the part of the co urts a q uo i n re j e cti ng t he cl ai m of se l fde fe nse .

A ppe l l ants se t up the de fe nse tha t the y w e re i n the l aw ful pe rformance of the i r offi ci al
d uti e s. The y spe ci fi call y ave r tha t the y ha d bee n orde re d by the i r de sk offi ce r to procee d
to t he ca ntee n i n re s ponse to a te le p hone cal l stati n g tha t the re w as a grou p cre ati ng
t rou bl e; th at the y w e re i n t he cal l of du ty an d exe rci si n g the i r func ti ons a nd
re s ponsi bi li ti e s as me mbe rs of t he
PN R Ci vi l Se curi ty Offi ce to p re se rve pe ace an d orde r and prote ct the li ve s an d prope rty
i n the PN R C ompo und; [ 2 9 ] and that, i nvoki n g j uri spr ude nce , as se curi t y offi ce rs i n the
pe rforma nce of d uty, l i ke the pol i ce , t he y m ust sta nd the i r g ro un d an d ove rco me t he
op po ne nt, and the force tha t may be exe rte d must di ff e r from th at w hi ch ordi nari l y may
be off e re d i n sel f-de fe nse . [ 3 0 ]
Ar ti cle 11 of the Re vi se d Pe nal C ode p rovi de s t hat a pe rso n w ho acts i n the ful fi l l me nt of
a d uty or i n the l aw ful exe rci se of a ri g ht or offi ce doe s not i ncur any cri mi nal
l i abi l i ty. Tw o re q ui si te s m ust conc ur be fo re thi s de fe nse can prospe r: 1) the acc use d must
ha ve acte d i n the pe rfo rma nce of a duty or i n the l aw ful exe rci se of a ri g ht or offi ce; an d
2 ) the i nj ur y cause d or t he off e nse commi tte d shoul d have bee n t he ne ce ssary
conse q ue nce of such l aw ful exe rci se. [ 3 1 ] The se re qui si te s a re a bse nt i n the i nsta nt case .
As foun d by t he C A:
The de fe nse fai l e d to p rove th at the se curi ty offi ce rs w e re i n fact on d uty at the ti me
the y w e re at the cante e n. The tri al cou rt gave w ei g ht to the fact that the a ppe l l ants w e re
u nabl e to su bmi t the i r dai l y ti me re cords to show th at the y w e re on du ty at the
ti me . Ap pel l an ts asse rti on th at the y w e re orde re d to go on 24 -hour duty w as bel i e d by
PN R Se curi ty I nve sti gato r Rol a nd o Mari nay s te sti mony that PN R se curi t y offi ce rs w ork i n
tw o 1 2-h our shi fts, fro m 7 :0 0 a. m. to 7 :0 0 p. m. and fro m 7 :0 0 p. m. to 7 :0 0 a. m.
Mo re ove r, si nce i t w as not e stabl i she d t hat J avi e r fi re d hi s gu n, the i nj ury i nfl i cte d up on
hi m canno t be re garde d as a ne ce ssary conse q ue nce of a ppe l l ants d ue pe rforma nce of an
offi ci al dut y. [ 3 2 ]
As state d, consi de ri n g that the i mmi ne nt or act ual da nge r to the l i fe of the ap pel l an ts
ha d be e n ne utral i ze d w he n Da gani gr ap ple d wi th Javi e r and re s trai ne d hi s h and s; t hat
J avie r ha d be e n th row n off - bal ance ; that Dagani h ad be e n spe ci al l y trai ne d for the se
p urpo se s; an d tha t J avie r ha d bee n d ri nki ng i mme di ate l y pri or to the scuffl e, thi s C our t
hol ds tha t the fatal i nj uri e s that appe l l ant Santi a no i nfl i cte d on the vi cti m canno t be
de e me d to be ne ce ssary conse que nce s of the pe rformance of hi s d uty as a PN R se curi ty
offi ce r. [ 3 3 ] W hi l e i t i s re cog ni ze d th at pol i ce offi ce rs i f i n dee d the ap pe ll a nts can be
l i ke ne d to the m m ust sta nd t hei r g ro un d and ove rw he l m the i r op pone nts, i n Pe opl e v.
Ul e p, [ 3 4 ] thi s C ourt cou nsel e d:
The ri gh t to kil l an off e nde r i s not ab sol ute , and may be use d onl y as a l ast re sort, an d
u nde r ci rcu msta nce s i ndi cati n g tha t the off e n de r canno t othe rw i se be take n w i tho ut
bl oo dshe d. The l aw doe s not cl othe pol i ce offi ce rs wi th auth ori ty to ar bi trari l y j ud ge t he
ne ce ssi ty to kil l . It may be tr ue t hat p ol i ce offi ce rs some ti me s fi nd the mse l ve s i n a
di l e mma w he n p re ssu re d b y a si tuati o n w he re an i mme di ate an d de ci si ve , bu t le gal ,
acti o n i s ne e de d. Howe ve r, i t m ust be st re sse d that the j udg me nt an d di scre ti o n of pol i ce
offi ce rs i n t he pe rfo rma nce of t hei r d uti e s m ust be exe rci se d nei t he r ca pri ci ousl y nor
op pre ssi ve l y, but wi thi n re aso nabl e li mi ts. I n the abse nce of a cle ar an d l e gal provi si on
to t he con trary, the y m ust act i n co nformi ty wi t h the di ctate s of a sou nd di scre ti on, an d
w i thi n t he spi ri t a nd p urp ose of t he l aw. We canno t coun te nance tri g ge r-ha pp y l aw
e nfo rce me nt offi ce rs w ho i ndi scri mi nate l y e mpl oy fo rce and vi ole nce upo n the pe rsons
the y a re app re he n di ng. The y m ust al w ays be ar i n mi n d tha t al tho ug h the y are de al i ng
w i th cri mi nal e le me nts agai ns t w hom soci e ty mus t be prote cte d, the se cri mi nal s a re al so
h uma n be i ngs w i th h uma n ri gh ts. [ 3 5 ]
B ut thi s C ourt can not a gre e wi th the fi n di n gs of the courts a quo that the appe l l ants
w e re i n conspi rac y.
The RTC si mpl y he l d:
The I nform ati on ci te d cons pi racy of the acc use d. Si nce i t ca n al so be commi tte d thru
si mul t ane ous/ co nce rte d acti on an d consi de ri n g tha t J avie r w as shot b y Sa nti ano w hil e
be i ng hel d by Dag ani , un de r j uri sp rude nce , cons pi racy i s pre se nt. [ 3 6 ]
The te nor of the fact ual fi ndi ngs of the C A i s e qual l y un sati sfac tory:
Mo re ove r, t he fac ts show tha t J avie r w as shot b y ap pel l an t San ti ano as he w as be i ng
su bd ue d by a ppe l l ant Da gani . The tri al court he l d t hat t he ma nne r of the att ack w as
i ndi c a ti ve of a j oi nt pur pose and de si g n by t he a ppe l l ants. [ 3 7 ]

C our ts mus t j udge the g ui l t or i nnoce nce of the acc use d base d on facts a nd no t on me re
conj e ctu re s, pre s ump ti ons, or sus pi ci ons. [ 3 8 ] O the r tha n the pl ai n fac t tha t the vi cti m had
be e n shot by one of the accuse d w hi l e be i ng hel d by a c o -accuse d, t he re is no othe r
e vi de nce t hat the ap pe ll a nts w e re ani mate d by the same pur pose or we re mo ve d by a
p re vi ous co mmo n accord. I t fol l ow s tha t the li abi l i ty of t he acc use d mus t be de te rmi ne d
on an i ndi vi d ual basi s. W hi l e no formal a gre e me nt i s ne ce ssar y to e stabl i sh cons pi racy
be cau se cons pi racy m ay be i nfe rre d f ro m the ci rcu msta nce s at te ndi n g the commi ssi o n of
the cri me , ye t, cons pi racy mus t be esta bl i she d by cl e ar and convi nci n g e vi de nce . [ 3 9 ]
Thi s C our t ha s he l d th at e ve n i f al l the mal e factors j oi ne d i n the
ki ll i n g, such ci rcu msta nce al o ne doe s not sati s fy
the re qui re me nt of conspi r acy be cau se the rul e i s that
ne i the r j oi nt nor si mul t ane ous acti on i s pe r se suffi ci e nt p roo f of conspi r acy. C onspi rac y
m ust be show n to exi st as cl e arl y and convi nci n gl y as the commi ssi o n of the off e nse
i tse l f. [ 4 0 ] Th us, eve n assu mi n g that Javi e r w as si m ul tane ou sl y attac ke d, thi s doe s not
p rove cons pi racy. N o e vi de nce w as pre se n te d to show th at the ap pel l an ts pl an ne d to ki ll
J avie r or th at Dag ani s ove rt acts faci l i tate d that all e ge d pl an. The p rose cuti o n di d not
e stabl i sh that the act of Daga ni i n tryi ng to w re stle the gu n f rom J avi e r a nd i n the
p roce ss, he l d the l atte rs han ds, w as for the pur pose of e nabl i ng San ti ano to shoot at
J avie r. The prose cuti on h ad the b urde n to show Daga ni s i nte nti on al parti ci pa ti on to t he
fur the rance of a com mon
de si g n and pur pose [ 4 1 ] or that hi s acti on w as al l part of a sche me to ki l l J avie r. Th at
Da gani di d not expe ct Sa nti an o to shoo t the vi cti m i s e sta bl i she d w he n San ti ano te sti fi e d
th at Dag ani see m[e d] to be shoc ke d, he w as sta ndi n g an d l ooki ng at the vi cti m as J avie r
gr ad ual l y fe l l to the grou nd. [ 4 2 ] A nd si nce Daga ni s convi cti on can onl y be sust ai ne d i f the
cri me had bee n carri e d o ut th ro ug h a conspi r acy dul y prove n, i n vi e w of the fai l u re of the
p rose cu ti on to di sc harge th at b urde n, thi s C ourt i s constrai ne d to acq ui t hi m.
A nd t hi s C ourt can not say that tre ache ry at te nde d the att ack. The RTC de cl a re d:
[T]he C ourt bel i e ve s tha t J avie r w as shot w hi l e hi s b ody w as ou t-bal a nce d an d abo ut to
fal l to the ri gh t si de a nd w hi le hi s ha nds we re be i ng he l d by Daga ni . J avi e r, the re fo re,
w as sho t at w he n he has no me an s to de fe nd hi mse l f, he nce, the ki ll i ng w as atte nde d b y
the q ual i fyi n g ci rcu msta nce of tre ache r y. [ 4 3 ]
w hi ch t he C A affi rme d as fol l ow s:
The fi ndi ngs of the co urt a q uo cl e arl y showe d that Javi e r w as be i n g he l d dow n a nd coul d
no t eff e cti ve l y use hi s we apo n. As suc h, the tri al court he l d th at J avie r coul d not be
consi de re d to be an arme d ma n as he w as bei n g he l d dow n and w as vi rt ual l y hel pl e ss.
I t has be e n he l d tha t w he n an assa ul t i s m ade wi t h a de adl y w e apon upo n an u narme d
an d u nsus pe cti ng vi cti m w ho [w as] gi ve n no i mme di ate provoca ti on for t he at tack an d
u nde r con di ti ons w hi ch ma de i t i m possi bl e for hi m to e vade the attack, fl ee or ma ke [a]
de fe nse , t he act is p ro pe rl y q ual i fi e d as tre ac he ry, a nd t he ho mi ci de re sul ti n g the re f rom
i s cl assi fi e d as murde r. [ 4 4 ] x x x
Tre ache ry un de r pa r. 16 of Arti cl e 14 of the Re vi se d Pe nal C ode i s de fi ne d as the
de l i be rate e mpl oyme nt of me a ns, me thod s or forms i n the exe cuti on of a cri me ag ai nst
pe rso ns w hi ch te nd di re ctl y an d spe ci all y to i ns ure i ts exe cuti o n, wi th out ri sk to the
off e nde r ari si ng fro m the de fe nse w hi ch t he i nte n de d vi cti m mi g ht rai se. Tre ache ry i s
p re se nt w he n tw o condi ti o ns conc ur, name l y: (1 ) that the me a ns, me thods and forms of
exe cuti on e mpl oye d gave the pe rson att acke d no oppor tu ni ty to de fe nd hi msel f or to
re t al i ate; an d (2 ) th at suc h me ans, me tho ds an d forms of exe cuti o n we re de l i be rate l y and
consci o usl y ado pte d b y the accuse d w i tho ut da nge r to hi s pe rson. [ 4 5 ]
Thi s C our t has he l d th at the su dde nne ss of t he at tack, the i nfl i cti on of the w oun d from
be hi n d the vi cti m, the vul ne rabl e posi ti on of the vi cti m at the ti me the attack w as ma de,
or the fact that the vi cti m w as u narme d, do no tby the msel ve s re n de r the at tack as
t re ache rous. [ 4 6 ] Thi s i s of par ti cul ar si gni fi ca nce i n a case of an i nstant ane ous attack
ma de by the accuse d w he re by he gai ne d an adva nta ge ous posi ti o n ove r the vi c ti m w he n
the l atte r acci de ntal l y fe l l an d w as re n de re d de fe nse le ss. [ 4 7 ] The me ans e mpl oye d for the
com mi ssi on of t he cri me or the mode of att ack must be sh ow n to ha ve be e n consci ou sl y
or de li be rate l y a dopte d by the accuse d to i nsure t he con sum mati o n of the cri me a nd at
the same ti me el i mi nate or re duce the ri sk of re t al i ati on f rom the i nte n de d vi cti m. [ 4 8 ] For
the rul e s on t re ache ry to ap pl y, the sud de n attack m ust h ave be e n p re conce i ve d by the
accu se d, unexpe cte d by the vi cti m, a nd w i tho ut p rovoc ati on o n the part of the l atte r.
[49]
Tre ache ry i s ne ve r p re sume d. Li ke the rul e s on conspi rac y, i t i s re q ui re d that t he
ma nne r of att ack mus t be show n to ha ve be e n atte n de d by t re ache ry as concl u si ve l y as
the cri me i tse l f. [ 5 0 ]
The p rose cuti o n fai le d to convi nci n gl y prove tha t the assaul t by the ap pel l an ts ha d bee n
de l i be rate l y adop te d as a mo de of at tack i nte nde d to i nsu re the ki l li n g of J avie r an d
w i tho ut the l atte r havi n g the op port uni ty to de fe n d hi mse l f. O the r tha n the ba re fact th at
S anti a no shot Javi e r w hil e the l atte r h ad be e n stru ggl i n g wi t h Daga ni ove r t he p osse ssi on
of t he . 22 cal i be r gun, no othe r fact ha d be e n ad duce d to sh ow that the a ppe l l ants

consci o usl y pl an ne d or p re de te rmi ne d the me tho ds to i ns ure the


com mi ssi on of the cri me , nor ha d the ri sk of the vi cti m to re tal i ate be e n el i mi nate d
d uri ng the course of the strug gl e ove r the w e apon, as the l atte r, th ou gh str ug gl i ng, ha d
no t be e n com ple te l y
su bd ue d. As al re ady state d, thi s C ourt must e mphasi ze that the me re sud de nne ss of the
at tack, or the vul ne rabl e posi ti on of the vi cti m at the ti me of the at tack, or ye t eve n the
fact that the vi cti m w as u narme d, do not by the mse l ve s make the attack t re ache rous.
[51]
I t must be sh ow n be yon d re aso na ble do ubt that the me a nsce mpl oye d gave the vi cti m
no oppo rtu ni ty to de fe nd hi msel f or re t al i ate, an d th at such me ans ha d be e n del i be rate l y
or consci o usl y ado pte d w i tho ut da nge r to t he l i fe of the accuse d. [ 5 2 ]
For the se re ason s, the C our t i s i ncl i ne d to look u pon the he l pl e ss posi ti on of Javi e r as
me rel y i nci de nt al to the attack, an d tha t the de ci si on to shoot Javi e r w as made i n an
i nst ant. [ 5 3 ]
C onsi de ri n g the rul e t hat t re ache ry can not be i nfe rre d but must be p ro ve d as ful l y an d
con vi nci ngl y as the cri me i tsel f, any dou bt as to i ts exi ste nce m ust be re sol ve d i n favo r
of S anti a no. Acc ordi n gl y, for fai l ure of the p ro se cuti on to p ro ve t re ache ry to q ual i fy the
ki ll i n g to Murde r, appe l l ant S anti a no ma y onl y be convi cte d of Ho mi ci de. [ 5 4 ] The pe nal ty,
the re fore , un de r Arti cle 2 49 of the Re vi se d Pe nal C ode , as ame nde d, i s re cl usi on
te mp oral .
The O ffi ce of the Sol i ci tor Ge ne ral is corre ct i n tha t the courts a quo fai le d to consi de r
the ag grav ati n g ci rcu msta nce of taki ng a dva nta ge of offi ci al posi ti on unde r Arti cl e 14 (1 )
of t he Re vi se d Pe nal C ode , si nce the accu se d, a PN Rse curi ty offi ce r cove re d by t he C i vi l
Se rvi ce , com mi tte d the cri me wi th the ai d
of a g un he had bee n aut hori ze d to carr y as such. [ 5 5 ] C onsi de ri n g tha t the mi ti ga ti ng
ci rc ums tance of vol un tary su rre n de r, as dul y ap pre ci a te d by the cour ts a q uo, sh al l be
off se t agai nst the ag grav ati ng ci rcu msta nce of taki ng a dvan tage of offi ci al posi ti on, the
pe nal t y shoul d be i mpose d i n i ts me di u m pe ri od, purs ua nt to Arti cl e 64 (4 ) of the
afo re sai d C ode.
A ppl yi n g the I nde te rmi nate Se nte nce L aw , the se nte nce of appe l l ant San ti ano w i ll consi st
of a mi ni mum that is an yw he re wi thi n the ful l range of pri si o n mayor , an d a ma xi mu m
w hi ch i s anyw he re wi thi n re cl usi on te m pora l i n i ts me di u m pe ri od. Thi s C our t he re by fi xe s
i t to be from e i ght (8 ) ye ars and one (1 ) day of pri si on ma yor as mi ni mum, to fourte e n
(14 ) ye ars, ei gh t (8 ) mo nth s, and o ne (1 ) day of re cl usi on te m poral , as m axi mu m.
As to the aw ard of d ama ge s, p re vai l i ng j uri spru de nce e nti tl e s the he i rs of the de ce ase d
to t he a mou nt of P 50 ,0 00 . 00 as ci vi l i n de mni ty for t he de at h of the vi cti m w i thou t nee d of
an y e vi de nce or proof of dam age s. [ 5 6 ]
The C A e rre d i n de l e ti ng the att orne ys fee s an d pe r ap pe arance fee s for l ack of factu al
b asi s. Al tho ug h the C A i s corre ct i n noti ng th at the RTC fai le d to j usti fy t he se aw ards i n
the bo dy of i ts De ci si on, t hi s appe al ope ns the e nti re case for re vi e w a nd, accordi ngl y,
the re co rds show th at the fo re goi n g
am oun ts ha d bee n sti pul ate d by the par tie s, [ 5 7 ] the re by di s pe nsi ng w i th t he ne e d to p rove
the same . [ 5 8 ]
As to moral da ma ge s, how e ve r, the w i dow of the vi cti m, Erli n da J avie r, i s not e nti tl e d to
the same . S he di d not te sti fy on any me n tal an gui sh or e moti o nal di stre ss w hi ch she
suff e re d as a re sul t of he r h usba nds de ath. N o othe r he i rs of Javi e r te sti fi e d i n the same
ma nne r. [ 5 9 ]
I nasm uch as the aggr avati n g ci rc umst ance of taki n g adva nta ge of offi ci al posi ti o n
at te nde d the ki ll i ng, t he C our t aw ards exe mpl ar y da mage s i n the amo unt of P 2 5, 00 0 .0 0
i n ac corda nce w i th Arti cl e s 22 30 an d 22 34 of the Ci vi l C ode and pre vai l i ng j uri spru de nce.
[60]

W HE REFO R E, the De ci si on of the C ourt of Appe al s i n C A- G. R. C R N o. 1 53 04 date d J une 2 0,


2 00 2 i sMO DI FI ED. Ap pel l an t O te l l o San ti ano y Le oni da i s fo und GUI LTY be yo nd re as ona bl e
do ub t of Homi ci de an d i s se n te nce d to suff e r the pe n al ty of an i nde te rmi nate se nte nce
f rom ei gh t (8 ) ye ars an d one (1 ) day of pri si o n mayor as mi ni m um to fo urtee n (1 4 ) ye ars,
e i ght (8 ) mon ths, an d one (1 ) da y of re cl usi on te mp oral as m axi mu m. Ap pe ll a nt Sa nti an o
i s furt he r orde re d to pay t he he i rs of the vi cti m the amo unts of P 5 0, 00 0 .0 0 as de ath
i nde m ni ty, P 31 ,8 45 . 00 as fu ne ral and b uri al expe nse s, P 2 5, 00 0 .0 0 as exe mpl ar y
d ama ge s, P 3 0, 00 0 .0 0 as attorne ys fe e s and P 1 ,0 00 . 00
pe r ap pe arance of cou nse l. A ppe l l ant S anti a no shal l be cre di te d w i th t he ful l exte nt of hi s
p re ve nti ve i mpri son me nt.
A ppe l l ant Rol an do Da gani y Re ye s i s he re by AC Q UI TTED.
SO O RDE RED.
MA. ALI C I A AU STRI A-M ARTI N EZ
Ass oci ate Justi ce

W E C O NC U R:
A RT EMI O V. PAN GAN IB AN
C hi e f J usti ce
C hai r pe rson
CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO ROMEO J. CALLEJO, SR.
Associate Justice Associate Justice
MI NI TA V. C HI C O - N AZ A RI O
Ass oci ate Justi ce
C E RTI FI C ATI O N
Pursu ant to Se cti on 13 , Arti cle VI II of the C onsti tu ti on, i t i s he re by ce rti fi e d t hat the
concl usi ons i n the ab ove De ci si on we re re ac he d i n consul t ati on be fore the case w as
assi g ne d to the w ri te r of t he o pi ni on of t he C our ts Di vi si on.
A RT EMI O V. PAN GAN IB AN
C hi e f J usti ce
[1]

Pe nne d by Associ a te J usti ce Jua n Q. Enri que z, J r. , wi th As soci ate J usti ce s Eu ge ni o S.


L abi to ri a and Mari ano C. De l C asti l l o, conc urri n g, C A rol l o , pp. 2 03 -2 10 .
[2]
Re cords, p. 1.
[3]
C A rol l o , pp. 8 8 -89 .
[4]
I d. at 1 21 .
[5]
I d. at 2 09 .
[6]
Rol l o , pp. 6 -7.
[7]
I d. at 3 -87 .
[8]
C A rol l o , pp. 1 21 -1 22 .
[9]
I d. at 1 23 -12 4.
[10]
Pe opl e v. De l a Cru z , 40 0 P hi l. 8 72 , 8 78 (2 0 00 ); C abusl a y v. Pe opl e , G. R.
N o. 1 29 87 5 , Se pte mbe r 3 0, 20 05 , 47 1 SC RA 2 41 , 2 53 .
[11]
Pe opl e v. De l a Cru z , supr a note 10 ; Tol e do v. Pe opl e , G. R. N o. 1 58 05 7, Se p te mbe r 24 ,
2 00 4, 4 39 SC RA 94 , 1 09 ; Pe opl e v. Escarl os , 45 7 P hi l. 5 80 , 5 96 (2 0 03 ).
[12]
Pe opl e v. De l a Cru z , supr a note 10 .
[13]
Pe opl e v. Escarl os , su pra no te 1 1, at 5 95 ; Pe opl e v. Sar mie nt o , G. R. N o. 1 26 14 5, A pri l
3 0, 20 01 , 35 7 SC RA 4 47 , 4 57 .
[14]
Pe opl e v. Escarl os , su pra no te 1 1, at 5 96 ; Pe opl e v. Dami ta n , 42 3 P hi l. 1 13 , 1 23
(20 0 1 ).
[15]
C A rol l o , p. 2 06 .
[16]
Pe opl e v. Escarl os , su pra no te 1 1, at 5 97 ; Pe opl e v. C al abroso , 3 94 Phi l . 65 8, 67 0
(20 0 0 ); Pe opl e v. Ma al at , 34 1 P hi l. 2 00 , 2 06 (1 9 97 ).
[17]
Pe opl e v. Escarl os , su pra no te 1 1, at 5 97 ; Pe opl e v. Ra banal , 4 02 Phi l . 70 9, 71 5
(20 0 1 ).
[18]
Pe opl e v. Escarl os , su pra no te 1 1, at 5 97 ; Pe opl e v. Ge ne bl azo , 4 14 Phi l . 10 3, 11 0
(20 0 1 ).
[19]
Pe opl e v. Escarl os , i d.
[20]
C ab usl ay v. Pe opl e , su pra no te 1 0, at 2 62 .
[21]
Se e Se noj a v. Pe o ple , G. R. N o. 1 60 34 1, O ctobe r 1 9, 20 04 , 44 0 SC RA 6 95 , 7 08 ; Pe opl e
v. Escarl os , supr a note 11 , at 59 7; Pe opl e v. Ub al do , 4 19 Phi l . 71 8, 73 0 (20 0 1 ); Pe opl e v.
B asad re , G. R. N o. 13 18 51 , Fe br uary 2 2, 2 00 1, 35 2 SC RA 5 73 , 58 5; Pe opl e v. More , 3 78
P hi l. 1 15 3, 11 61 (19 99 ); Pe opl e v. Re al , 3 67 Phi l . 52 4, 53 5 -53 6 (19 99 ).
[22]
C A rol l o , p. 51 .
[23]
I d. at 75 .
[24]
I d.
[25]
I d. at 12 0.
[26]
Se e Pe opl e v. Escarl os , supr a note 11 ; Pe opl e v. De l a C ru z, supr a note 10 , at
8 79 ; Pe opl e v. B abor , 33 0 P hi l. 9 23 , 9 30 -9 31 (1 99 6 ).
[27]
Tole d o v. Pe opl e , su pra no te 1 1, at 1 10 .
[28]
Se noj a v. Pe opl e , su pra no te 2 1, at 7 03 ; Pe opl e v. N oay , 35 7 P hi l. 2 95 , 3 08 (1 9 98 ).
[29]
C A rol l o , p. 1 24 .
[30]
I d. at 12 5, ci ti ng , e . g. , Pe opl e v. Moj i ca , 4 2 Phi l . 78 4.
[31]
Pe opl e v. C at bag an , G. R. N os. 14 94 30 -3 2, Fe bru ary 2 3, 20 04 , 42 3 SC RA 53 5,
5 53 ; Pe opl e v . Pe ral ta , 4 03 Phi l . 72 , 8 9 (20 01 ); Pe opl e v. Ul e p , 39 5 P hi l. 7 8, 87
(20 0 0 ); Pe opl e v. B el be s , 38 9 P hi l. 5 00 , 5 09 (2 0 00 ).
[32]
C A rol l o , p. 2 07 .
[33]
Se e Pe opl e v. C atba ga n , supr a note 31 , at 55 4.
[34]
S upr a note 31 .
[35]
I d. at 92 .
[36]
C A rol l o , p. 8 8.
[37]
I d. at 20 7-2 08 .
[38]
Se e Pe opl e v. Le gas pi , 38 7 P hi l. 1 08 (2 00 0 ).
[39]
C ri sosto mo v. San di ga nba yan , G. R. N o. 15 23 98 , Apri l 1 4, 20 05 , 45 6 SC RA 45 ,
7 3; Pe opl e v. Ag da , 19 7 P hi l. 3 06 , 3 14 (1 9 82 ).
[40]
C ri sosto mo v. San di ga nba yan , su pra no te 3 9, at 7 3 -74 ; Pe opl e v. Dori co , 1 53 Phi l .
4 58 , 47 5 (19 73 ).

[41]

C ri sosto mo v. San di ga nba yan , su pra no te 3 9, at 7 4.


TSN, Hearing of June 18, 1990, p. 10.
[43]
C A rol l o , p p. 87 -8 8.
[44]
I d. at 20 8.
[45]
Pe opl e v. C arat ao , 45 1 P hi l. 5 88 , 6 06 -6 07 (2 00 3 ); Pe opl e v. Gon zal e z, J r. , 4 11 Phi l .
8 93 , 91 5 (20 01 ); Pe opl e v. C ab odoc , 3 31 Phi l . 49 1, 51 0 (19 9 6 ); Pe opl e v. Mal a ba go , 33 3
P hi l. 2 0, 34 (1 99 6 ).
[46]
Pe opl e v. Go nz ale z , J r. , supr a.
[47]
I d. ; Pe opl e v. C ada g , 11 2 P hi l. 3 14 , 3 19 (1 9 61 ); Pe opl e v. Ardi sa , 1 54 Phi l . 22 9, 24 3
(19 7 4 ); Pe opl e v. Ge ni al , G. R. N o. 1 05 69 2, De ce m be r 7, 19 93 , 2 28 SC RA 28 3, 2 91 .
[48]
Pe opl e v. Go nz ale z, J r ., su pra note 4 5, at 9 15 -91 6; Pe opl e v. C arat ao , supr a note 45 ,
at 60 7; L uce s v. Pe opl e , 4 43 Phi l . 63 6, 64 6 (20 0 3 ).
[49]
Pe opl e v. Go nz ale z, J r ., su pra note 4 5, at 9 16 ; Si son v. Pe opl e , 3 20 Phi l . 11 2, 13 5
(19 9 5 ); Pe opl e v. A bap o , G. R. N os. 9 36 32 -3 3, De ce mbe r 2 8, 19 94 , 23 9 SC RA 46 9, 4 79 .
[50]
Pe opl e v. Go nz ale z, J r. , supr a note 45 , at 91 7; Pe opl e v. Ma nal o , G. R. N o. L5 51 77 , Fe br uary 27 , 1 98 7, 1 48 SC RA 9 8, 1 08 .
[51]
Pe opl e v. Go nz ale z, J r. , supr a note 45 .
[52]
Pe opl e v. C arat ao , supr a note 45 , at 60 7; Pe opl e v. Go nz ale z, J r. , supr a note
4 5; Pe opl e v. C ab odoc , su pra no te 4 5, at 5 10 -5 11 ; Pe opl e v. Mal ab ago , su pra no te 4 5.
[53]
Se e Pe opl e v. Ule p , su pra no te 3 1, at 8 8.
[54]
Pe opl e v. C arat ao , supr a note 45 , at 60 8; Pe opl e v. F ern ande z , 4 34 Phi l . 22 4, 23 9
(20 0 2 ).
[55]
Se e Pe opl e v. Ta bi on , G. R. N o. L-3 26 29 , O ctobe r 23 , 1 97 9 , 9 3 SC RA 5 66 , 5 72 ; Pe opl e
v. Ma dri d , 8 8 Phi l . 1, 1 5 (19 51 ); AN TO NI O L. GR EGO RI O , FUN DAM EN TAL S OF C RI MI N AL
L AW REVI EW 11 4 (19 9 7 ).
[56]
Pe opl e v. Mal i na o , G. R. N o. 1 28 14 8, Fe bru ary 1 6, 20 04 , 42 3 SC RA 34 , 53 ; Pe opl e v.
Sol a mi l l o, 45 2 P hi l. 2 61 , 2 81 (2 0 03 ).
[57]
TSN , A pri l 20 , 1 99 0, p p. 1-2 ; TSN , A pri l 30 , 1 99 0, p p. 1-2 ; Exhi bi t X; RTC De ci si on,
C A rol l o , p. 5 9; Formal O ff e r of Evi de nce of the Prose cuti o n date d Apri l 2 6, 19 90 , p. 6.
[58]
Mo re ove r, u nde r Arti cl e 22 08 of the Ci vi l C ode, att orne ys fee s ma y be re cove re d w he n
exe mpl ary d ama ge s have bee n aw arde d. Se e , e . g. , N ue va Esp aa v . Pe opl e , G. R. N o.
1 63 35 1 , J une 2 1, 2 00 5, 46 0 SC RA 5 47 , 56 0.
[59]
Pe opl e v. I bae z , 4 55 Phi l . 13 3, 16 6 -16 7 (20 03 ).
[60]
N ue va Esp aa v. Pe ople , supr a note 58 , at 55 8; Pe opl e v. Mal i na o , supr a note 56 , at 55 .
[42]

FIRST DIVISION
PEOPLE OF THEPHILIPPINES,
Plaintiff-Appellee,

G.R. No. 168051


Present:

- versus -

PANGANIBAN, C.J.
Chairperson,
YNARES-SANTIAGO,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CALLEJO, SR., and
CHICO-NAZARIO, JJ.

HONORATO C. BELTRAN, JR.,


Accused-Appellant.

Promulgated:

September 27, 2006


x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
DECISION
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
Murder is one of the instances when man descends to a level lower than that of the beast, for it is noninstinctive killing, a deliberate destruction of a member of the same species for reasons other than
survival.[1]
This is an appeal from the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 00755, dated 31 March 2005,
[2]
affirming with modifications the Decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pallocan, Batangas City,
Branch 4, in Criminal Case No. 10525, dated 9 October 2001, [3] convicting the accusedappellant Honorato C. Beltran, Jr., alias Jun-Jun and Junior, of the crime of murder, sentencing him to suffer
the penalty of reclusion perpetua, and ordering him to pay the heirs of deceased Norman H. Concepcion,
the amount of P75,000.00 as moral damages, P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, and P18,252.00 as actual
damages.
On 3 November 1999, appellant was indicted in an Information [4] for Murder allegedly committed as
follows:

That on or about October 25, 1999 at around 10:00 oclock in the evening at Velasquez Road, Brgy. Sta.
Rita, Batangas City, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused, while armed with a bolo, a deadly weapon, with intent to kill and with the qualifying circumstance
of treachery, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and hack with the said
bolo, suddenly and without warning one Norman Concepcion y Habla while the latter was unarmed and
completely defenseless, thereby hitting him on the different parts of his body, which directly caused the
victims death.
When arraigned on 9 November 1999, appellant pleaded Not Guilty to the charge therein. [5] Thereafter,
trial on the merits ensued.
The prosecution established its case through the testimonies of its witnesses, namely: Ever D. Sales,
Rolando G. Dalisay, Dr. Dinah R. Lucero, SPO1 Julian M. de Castro and Normita H. Concepcion. Their
testimonies are summarized as follows:
Ever D. Sales (Ever) was a resident of Velasquez Subdivision, Barangay Sta. Rita, Batangas City. He worked
as a gasoline boy in Caltex Gasoline Station at San Pascual, Batangas City.
Ever testified that on 25 October 1999, at about 10:00 in the evening, he left his workplace and proceeded
home using his bicycle. While traversing the Velasquez Road, he saw appellant holding a bolo and standing
in front of his house situated at the side of Velasquez Road. On the opposite side of the same road, he saw
Norman H. Concepcion (Norman) standing in front of an automobile repair shop. Exhausted by the travel,
Ever decided to stop by and rest momentarily at a nipa hut near the same road. Minutes later, he saw
appellant, from a distance of six meters, stalking Norman who was then walking near the automobile
shop.Appellant approached Norman, and, without a warning, hacked him with a bolo. Norman tried to
avoid the blow by moving backwards and shielding his face with his left arm. However, Normans left hand
was hit and wounded by the bolo. When Norman turned around and ran, appellant hacked him at the back
causing him to fall down on a grassy area. Appellant repeatedly hacked Norman with a bolo.
Fearing for his own safety, Ever immediately left the nipa hut and sought help in a nearby sari-sari
store. Later, he went to the crime scene and found no trace of appellant. He also discovered the bloodied
and lifeless body of Norman sprawled on the ground.Afterwards, he proceeded home and narrated to a
relative named Renato Sales (Renato) what he just witnessed. Later, Renatoinformed a
certain Carmina Baliwag of the incident, who in turn, relayed the same to Normita Concepcion (Normita),
the sister ofNorman. Ever also declared that he did not know of any reason why appellant
hacked Norman to death.[6]
Rolando G. Dalisay (Rolando) is a resident of Velasquez Subdivision, Barangay Sta. Rita, Batangas City,
where he is engaged in a carpentry business.
Rolando supported the testimony of Ever by stating that on 25 October 1999, at around 10:00 in the
evening, he was walking along Velasquez Road to buy some medicines when, at a distance of about 15
meters, he saw appellant hacking Norman with a bolo.He noticed that when Norman fell on the ground,
appellant continued his onslaught by relentlessly hacking the former. Afraid that he might be seen by the
appellant, he immediately went home and informed his wife about the incident. When
the barangay tanod and policemen arrived at the crime scene, he proceeded thereto and told them what
he had witnessed. Further, he stated that he personally knows appellant as the latter was a former
employee in his carpentry business. He also personally knew Norman since the latter was a relative of his
wife. Lastly, he testified that appellant and Norman had a previous quarrel which, however, was
subsequently settled in their barangay office.[7]
SP01 Julian D. Mendoza was the investigating officer of the instant case. On 26 October 1999, at
about 12:00 midnight, his station received an information regarding the hacking incident. He and a certain
SPO3 Mario Panaligan rushed to the crime scene.Upon arriving thereat, he inquired from the people
present the identity of the dead person and of the killer. Rolando approached him and narrated that the
dead person was Norman and the killer was appellant. Normita also arrived at the crime scene and told
him relevant information. With this lead, they proceeded to appellants house but the latter was not there.
On 27 October 1999, a certain Tomas Dimacuha surrendered the appellant. Later, the brother of appellant,
Sherman Beltran, brought before him the bolo, about three palms in length, used by appellant in
hacking Norman to death.[8]
Dr. Dinah R. Lucero, Medical Officer IV of the Batangas City Health Office, testified that she conducted the
post mortem examination on the cadaver of Norman on 26 October 1999 at the Eternal Memorial
Chapel. She declared that, aside from the fact that Normans body was almost decapitated, the latter
suffered seven stab wounds and his cause of death was massive blood loss secondary to multiple hacking
wound.[9] The death certificate issued by Lucero shows that Norman was twenty-two (22) years of age at
the time of his demise.[10]
Lastly, Normita, sister of Norman, testified that on the evening of 25 October 1999, Carmina Baliwag called
her on the telephone and instructed her to proceed to Velasquez Road. Upon arriving thereat, she was
shocked to discover the dead body ofNorman lying on the ground. She claimed that appellant had a motive
to kill Norman since an altercation occurred between the two on22 October 1999, which, however, was

settled later on 25 October 1999. In establishing her claim for damages, she stated that she spent an
amount of P61,000.00 in connection with Normans death, and that the latter worked as an assistant to the
electrician at First Gas Company with a monthly income of P6,000.00. She also claimed that she was
shocked at the sudden and gruesome death ofNorman, and that she felt pity for him. [11]
On the other hand, the defense argued its case by presenting the testimony of the appellant himself and a
certain Dr. LuisitoBriones.
Appellant admitted that he hacked Norman with a bolo but insisted that he did the same in selfdefense. He narrated that on 25 October 1999, at about 10:00 in the evening, he and his mother were
resting inside their house when suddenly, he heard Norman shouting and insulting him outside their house
and challenging him to a fight. When he came out of the house, he noticed that Norman was accompanied
by several unidentified persons. Thereafter, he tried to pacify Norman but the latter slapped the back of his
head and pulled out an ice pick from his pocket. He retreated and looked for something to defend
himself. He found a bolo near a tamarind tree in front of their house and took the same. When Norman was
about to enter appellants house, the latter hacked him with the bolo. Norman tried to avoid the blow but
the same hit his left arm. Appellant lost grip of the bolo and the same fell on the ground. While appellant
was reaching for the bolo, Norman grabbed his head and tried to stab him with the ice-pick. Appellant,
however, eluded the counter-attack but he sustained a minor wound on the forehead. Upon gaining control
of the scuffle, appellant took the bolo and hacked Norman four consecutive times, most of them landed on
the head. When appellant noticed that Norman was no longer moving, he fled therein and went to his
brother, Sherman Beltran, in Bauan, Batangas, where he stayed that same night and hid therein the bolo.
The next day, he went to his sisters house in Lipa City. Later that day, he went to the Granja Hospital, also
in LipaCity, for treatment of his wound on the forehead.
Appellant also claimed that on 22 October 1999, he was mauled by Norman near a sari-sari store; that
Norman is taller than him since he is only 54 in height; that he was forced to kill Norman because the latter
insulted him and his mother; and that he was on his way to Bauan City to surrender to police when he was
apprehended by the barangay officers in Lipa City.[12] Appellant was twenty-nine years (29) of age at the
time of his arrest.[13]
Dr. Luisito D. Briones testified that he treated appellant on the morning of 26 October
1999 at Granja Hospital in Lipa City for a lacerated wound on the forehead. He also claimed that the
wound was possibly caused by a knife and that it was already on the healing stage. He also issued a
medical certificate attesting to the same.[14]
On 9 October 2001, the RTC rendered its Decision[15] finding appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
the crime of murder. It reasoned that appellants claim of self-defense cannot be sustained in view of the
positive and credible testimonies of the prosecution witnesses. In closing, the trial court ruled:
In the light of all the foregoing consideration and upon the evidence, accused Honorato Beltran, Jr.
y Casia alias Jun-Jun is hereby found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Murder charged in
the information. Consequently, the accused is hereby sentenced to Reclusionperpetua together with all the
accessory penalties inherent therewith and to pay the costs. He is further directed to indemnify the heirs of
NormanConcepcion in the sum of P61,000.00 as actual damages and the sum of P75,000.00 as moral
damages.[16]
Aggrieved, appellant filed a notice of appeal therein on 22 October 2001.[17] Subsequently, on 3 January
2003, appellant filed his Appellants Brief with this Court assailing the Decision of the RTC dated 9 October
2001.[18] Pursuant to our ruling in the case ofPeople v. Mateo,[19] we issued a Resolution dated 8 November
2004, transferring the instant case to the Court of Appeals for disposition. [20] On 31 March 2005, the Court
of Appeals promulgated its Decision affirming with modifications the assailed RTC Decision. Aside from
reducing the amount of actual damages awarded by the RTC, it also ordered appellant to pay the heirs
ofNorman an amount of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity. The dispositive portion thereof reads:
WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Aside from moral damages in the
amount of P75,000.00, appellant is ordered to pay the heirs of the deceased, Norman Concepcion, the
following amounts: (a) Fifty Thousand (P50,000.00) as civil indemnity; and (b) Eighteen Thousand Five
Hundred Twenty-Five (P18,525.00) as actual damages.[21]
Dismayed, appellant appealed the afore-quoted Decision before this Court by adopting and invoking the
same arguments stated in his Appellants Brief dated 3 January 2003, to wit:
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN GIVING CREDENCE TO THE TESTIMONY OF EVER SALES DESPITE OF
ITS BEING UNBELIEVABLE AND BIASED, INSTEAD OF THE SELF-DEFENSE INTERPOSED BY THE APPELLANT.
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONSIDERING THE QUALIFYING CIRCUMSTANCE OF TREACHERY
DESPITE THE PROSECUTIONS FAILURE TO ESTABLISH THE SAME BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.
ASSUMING THAT ACCUSED-APPELLANT IS NOT ENTITLED TO THE JUSTIFYING CIRCUMSTANCE OF SELFDEFENSE, THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT CONSIDERING IN HIS FAVOR THE MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCES
OF SUFFICIENT PROVOCATION ON THE PART OF THE OFFENDED PARTY WHICH IMMEDIATELY PRECEDED THE
ACT AND VOLUNTARY SURRENDER.

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN AWARDING EXCESSIVE ACTUAL DAMAGES. [22]
Anent the first issue, appellant argued that the testimony of prosecution witness, Ever, is biased,
unbelievable and confusing; that the trial court should not have considered them; that his acquittal is
proper on the ground of self-defense; and that the elements of self-defense are present in the instant case.
The contention is without merit.
Prosecution eyewitness, Ever, testified that on 25 October 1999, at about 10:00 in the evening, he left his
workplace and proceeded home using his bicycle. While traversing Velasquez Road, he saw appellant
holding a bolo and standing in front of his house situated at the side of Velasquez Road. On the opposite
side of the same road, he saw Norman standing in front of an automobile repair shop. Exhausted by the
travel, he decided to stop by and rest momentarily at a nipa hut near the same road.Minutes later, he saw
appellant, from a distance of six meters, stalking Norman who was walking then near the automobile repair
shop. Appellant approached Norman, and without a warning, repeatedly hacked him with a bolo. Although
it occurred late in the evening, the light coming from the moon and the electric post therein provided him
with good visibility to identify appellant and Norman, and to witness how the heinous act was executed.
[23]
This testimony was corroborated by another prosecution eyewitness, Rolando. Thus, the positive
identification and categorical declarations of Ever on the witness stand under solemn oath deserves full
faith and credence.
Appellant, however, posited that there were inconsistencies between the testimony of Ever in open court
and his sworn statements before the investigators. According to appellant, Ever testified during his direct
examination that he was at a distance of about six meters, more or less, from appellant and Norman when
the hacking occurred; that the place where the killing occurred was lighted by the moon; and that during
his cross-examination, he stated that there was no other person within the area when he witnessed the
hacking. On the other hand, appellant claimed that Ever declared in his sworn statements before the
investigators that he was more or less 20 meters from the place where the hacking took place; that there
was light coming from the electric post and the moon; and that during his cross-examination, he also
stated that the mother of appellant was outside the house when the hacking took place. [24]
This Court had consistently ruled that the alleged inconsistencies between the testimony of a witness in
open court and his sworn statement before the investigators are not fatal defects to justify a reversal of
judgment of conviction. Such discrepancies do not necessarily discredit the witness since exparte affidavits are almost always incomplete. It bears emphasis that a sworn statement or an affidavit
does not purport to contain a complete compendium of the details of the event narrated by the
affiant. Sworn statements taken ex-parte are generally considered to be inferior to the testimony given in
open court.[25]
Moreover, as aptly stated by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), when Ever testified in court that
there was light coming from the moon, sir he was not denying what he stated in his sworn statement that
there was a light from the lamp (electric) post and the moon. [26] The appellant also testified that the place
where the hacking incident occurred was lighted by an electric post. As the foregoing circumstances
clearly established that the place where the hacking occurred was lighted by the moon and an electric
post, the testimony of Ever as to the identity of the killer and the victim, and how the killing was executed,
must stand.
Further, the alleged inconsistencies with respect to the presence of appellants mother in the place where
the hacking took place, and the distance between the nipa hut where Ever rested and the area where the
hacking took place, are minor inconsistencies and trivial matters that serve to strengthen rather than
weaken the credibility of Ever for they erase the suspicion of rehearsed testimony. Also, they are not
material in the instant case since none of them is an essential element of murder. [27]
More importantly, the RTC had observed that Ever was candid, straightforward and credible in giving his
testimony on the witness stand. It found Ever to be unbiased since he was neither a friend nor an enemy of
appellant and Norman but just a mere neighbor. It also found that there was no ulterior motive for him to
testify against appellant.[28]
It is a well-settled doctrine in our jurisprudence that when the credibility of a witness is in issue, the
findings of fact of the trial court, its calibration of the testimonies of the witnesses and its assessment of
the probative weight thereof, as well as its conclusions anchored on said findings are accorded high
respect if not conclusive effect.[29] This is because the trial court has the unique opportunity to observe the
demeanor of a witness and is in the best position to discern whether they are telling the truth. [30] It is worth
stressing at this point that the Court of Appeals affirmed such findings of the RTC. In this regard, it is
settled that when the trial courts findings have been affirmed by the appellate court, said findings are
generally conclusive and binding upon this Court.[31] We find no compelling reason to deviate from such
findings of the RTC and the Court of Appeals.
On another point, appellant contended that he merely acted in self-defense when he hacked Norman to
death.
We disagree.

Article 11, paragraph (1), of the Revised Penal Code provides for the elements and/or requisites in order
that a plea of self-defense may be validly considered in absolving a person from criminal liability, viz:
ART. 11. Justifying circumstances. The following do not incur any criminal liability:
Anyone who acts in defense of his person or rights, provided that the following circumstances concur;
First. Unlawful aggression;
Second. Reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel it;
Third. Lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending himself.
As an element of self-defense, unlawful aggression refers to an assault or attack, or a threat thereof in an
imminent and immediate manner, which places the defendants life in actual peril. [32] It is an act positively
strong showing the intent of the aggressor and not merely a threatening or intimidating attitude. [33] It is
also described as a sudden and unprovoked attack of immediate and imminent kind to the life, safety or
rights of the person attacked.[34]
There is an unlawful aggression on the part of the victim when he puts in actual or imminent peril the life,
limb, or right of the person invoking self-defense. There must be actual physical force or actual use of
weapon.[35] In order to constitute unlawful aggression, the person attacked must be confronted by a real
threat on his life and limb; and the peril sought to be avoided is imminent and actual, not merely
imaginary.[36]
In the instant case, there was no unlawful aggression on the part of Norman that justified the act of
appellant in hacking him to death. There was no actual or imminent danger on the life of appellant when
he came face to face with Norman. As narrated by Ever,Norman was just walking on the road and was not
provoking appellant into a fight. It was the appellant who approached and suddenly
hacked Norman repeatedly even when the latter was already fallen on the ground. In short, appellant was
the unlawful aggressor.
Even if this Court were to adopt the version of facts of appellant, the result or conclusion would be the
same.
Appellant alleged that he was resting inside his house when he heard Norman shouting invectives against
him and challenging him to a fight. When he went outside the house to pacify Norman, the latter slapped
the back of his head and brought out an ice-pick.Appellant retreated and when Norman tried to follow him
inside the house, he took a bolo and repeatedly hacked Norman. The foregoing circumstances does not
justify the act of appellant in hacking Norman. Obviously, mere shouting of invectives and challenging one
to a fight does not put ones life in actual or imminent danger. In the same vein, mere slapping of ones
head does not place a persons life in serious danger such that it compels him to use a bolo and hack the
offender.
As regards the brandishing of an ice-pick, appellant had several less harmful means of avoiding the same
as he was not cornered or trapped. He could have run inside his house and locked the door, or, called the
neighbors or authorities for help.Unfortunately, appellant did not avail himself of any of those options and
instead chose to hack Norman. Quite conspicuously, no convincing evidence was presented to show
that Norman was, indeed, armed with an ice-pick at the time of the incident. In fact, no ice-pick was found
in the crime scene nor in the body of Norman. There was also no proof adduced showing
that Norman attempted to stab appellant or tried to barge into the latters house.[37]
The fact that appellant sustained an injury on his head, allegedly caused by Normans ice-pick, does not
signify that he was a victim of unlawful aggression or that he acted in self-defense. [38] The physician who
treated appellant testified that the latter was diagnosed on 26 October 1999, the day after the hacking
incident; that appellant was discharged on the same day he was treated in the hospital since he was only
an out-patient; and that at the time he examined the head injury of appellant, it was already on its healing
stage.[39] It is clear from the foregoing that appellants head injury was not serious or severe. The cause of
the same is likewise doubtful. Thus, the superficiality of the injury sustained by appellant is no indication
that his life and limb were in actual peril.[40]
In stark contrast, Norman was almost decapitated and sustained fatal injuries on the head and neck. All in
all, Normansustained seven fatal wounds, most of them located at the head and neck. Based on the
foregoing, it is difficult to believe thatNorman was the unlawful aggressor. The gravity, location, and
number of wounds sustained by Norman are eloquent physical evidence showing a determined effort on
the part of appellant to kill Norman, and not just to defend himself.[41]
Time and again, we held that unlawful aggression is a sine qua non for upholding the justifying
circumstance of self-defense.[42] It is an essential and indispensable requisite, for without unlawful
aggression on the part of the victim, there can be, in a juralsense, no complete or incomplete self-defense.
[43]
Without unlawful aggression, self-defense will not have a leg to stand on and this justifying
circumstance cannot and will not be appreciated even if the other elements are present. [44] To our mind,
unlawful aggression is clearly absent in the case at bar.
The second element of self-defense requires that the means employed by the person defending himself
must be reasonably necessary to prevent or repel the unlawful aggression of the victim. The
reasonableness of the means employed may take into account the weapons, the physical condition of the
parties and other circumstances showing that there is a rational equivalence between the means of attack
and the defense.[45]

The act of appellant in repeatedly hacking Norman on his head and neck was not a reasonable and
necessary means of repelling the aggression allegedly initiated by the latter. As stated earlier, no
convincing evidence was presented to show that Normanwas armed with an ice-pick at the time of the
incident. In fact, no ice-pick was found in the crime scene or in the body of the victim.There was also no
proof showing that Norman attempted to stab appellant or tried to barge into the latters
house. Granting arguendothat Norman was armed with an ice-pick, the repeated hackings were not
necessary since he can overpower or disable Norman by a single blow on non-vital portion/s of his body.
Again, as correctly observed by the OSG, had the appellant merely wanted to protect himself from what he
perceived as an unlawful aggression of Norman, he could have just disabled Norman.[46] When Norman fell
on the ground, appellant should have ceased hacking the former since the alleged aggression or danger no
longer exists. By appellants own testimony, however, he hackedNorman with his bolo even when the latter
was already lying on the ground. It appears, therefore, that the means used by appellant, which were
simultaneous and repeated hackings, were adopted by him not only to repel the aggression of Norman but
to ensure the latters death. In sum, such act failed to pass the test of reasonableness of the means
employed in preventing or repelling an unlawful aggression.
Like an alibi, self-defense is inherently weak for it is easy to fabricate. [47] Thus, this Court had consistently
ruled that where an accused admits killing the victim but invokes self-defense, it is incumbent upon the
accused to prove by clear and convincing evidence that he acted in self-defense. [48] As the burden of
evidence is shifted on the accused to prove all the elements of self-defense, he must rely on the strength
of his own evidence and not on the weakness of the prosecution. [49] In the instant case, appellant failed to
discharge such burden with clear and convincing evidence. Therefore, his plea of lawful self-defense must
fall.
With regard to the second issue, appellant contended that there was no treachery that qualified his act to
murder in the absence of direct evidence showing that his attack on Norman was sudden;
that Norman was not deprived of an opportunity to defend himself; and that appellant did not employ
treachery to insure the execution of the crime.
Appellants contention is bereft of merit.
Treachery is a sudden and unexpected attack under circumstances that render the victim unable and
unprepared to defend himself by reason of the suddenness and severity of the attack. [50] It is as an
aggravating circumstance that qualifies the killing of a person to murder. Article 14, paragraph (16) of the
Revised Penal Code states the concept and essential elements of treachery as an aggravating
circumstance, thus:
ART. 14. Aggravating circumstances. - The following are aggravating circumstances:
xxxx
16. That the act be committed with treachery (alevosia).
There is treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against the person employing means,
methods, or forms in the execution thereof which tend directly and specially to insure its execution,
without risk to himself arising from the defense which the offended party might make.
As can be gleaned from the foregoing, two essential elements/conditions are required in order that
treachery may be appreciated: (1) The employment of means, methods or manner of execution that would
insure the offenders safety from any retaliatory act on the part of the offended party, who has, thus no
opportunity for self-defense or retaliation; and (2) deliberate or conscious choice of such means, methods
or manner of execution. Further, it must always be alleged in the information and proved in trial in order
that it may be validly considered.[51]
In the case at bar, treachery was alleged in the Information against appellant. Moreover, all the essential
elements/conditions of treachery were established and proven during the trial.
Appellant, while holding a bolo, had waited for the dark to set in before making his move so that nobody,
especially Norman, would notice his impending attack. When he saw Norman, alone and unarmed, casually
walking near an auto repair shop, he followed him surreptitiously. Later, appellant came out and
approached the unsuspecting Norman, who, in turn, faced the former. Appellant took advantage of the
stunned and hapless Norman by swiftly hacking him with a bolo. As the assault was sudden and
unexpected,Norman was forced to move backwards and raise his left arm to shield his face but it was too
late. Normans left arm was immediately hit by the bolo. When Norman turned his back on appellant and
tried desperately to run, appellant hacked him again at the back causing him to fall on the ground. As the
bloodied and moaning Norman was lying on the ground, appellant unleashed his full wrath by repeatedly
hacking him on the neck and head. Upon noticing that Norman was no longer moving and was, in fact,
almost decapitated, he stopped the hacking and fled the scene.
As viewed from the foregoing, the suddenness and unexpectedness of the appellants attack
rendered Norman defenseless, vulnerable and without means of escape. Appellants use of nighttime and a
deadly bolo, as well as the sudden attack and repeated hackings on the vital portions of Normans body,
were especially adopted by him to immediately cripple Norman and prevent him from retaliating or
escaping. Appellant deliberately adopted them in order to overpower the much younger, taller, and
larger Norman. Considering that Norman was alone and unarmed, there was absolutely no way for him to

defend himself or escape. Further, the fact that Norman sustained several fatal wounds while appellant
allegedly sustained a single superficial wound on his forehead shows thatNorman was not able to retaliate
or defend himself. Given the foregoing, there is no doubt in our minds that appellant intended and was
determined to kill Norman.
Appellant, however, asseverated that there was no treachery since the attack was frontal or face to face,
such that Norman had been forewarned of the attack and, thus, placed him in a position where he can
defend himself. Appellant also claimed that there was a quarrel between him and Norman prior to the
hacking incident which, in effect, negate treachery since it disproved the fact that the attack was sudden
and unexpected. We are not persuaded.
There is no dispute that Norman was facing appellant at the time of the first blow. Subsequently,
however, Norman turned his back and tried to run but he was hacked at the back, and when he fell on the
ground, he was hacked again repeatedly. It is settled that treachery is to be appreciated when the victim
was initially attacked frontally, but was attacked again after being rendered helpless and had no means to
defend himself or to retaliate.[52] As long as the attack was sudden and unexpected, and the unarmed
victim was not in a position to repel the attack, there is treachery. [53]
The quarrel between Norman and appellant prior to the hacking incident does not negate treachery. It is
true that there is no treachery if the killing was preceded by an altercation or dispute. The same, however,
does not apply in the instant case. The misunderstanding between the two occurred on 22 October
1999. This was settled before their barangay officials on the morning of25 October 1999. Cooler heads
then had already set in. In fact, the two shook hands before the same barangay officials. Thus, there was
no reason for Norman to suspect that appellant still held a grudge against him and to prepare or anticipate
appellants retaliation. It must also be noted that no conversation or struggle occurred between them
shortly before the hacking incident.
Appellant argued that if his plea of self-defense cannot be considered, he is still entitled to the mitigating
circumstances of sufficient provocation on the part of the offended party and voluntary surrender under
Article 13 paragraphs (4) and (7) of the Revised Penal Code, respectively.
We reject these contentions.
Article 13 paragraph (4) of the Revised Penal Code provides that a persons criminal liability may be
mitigated if there was a sufficient provocation or threat on the part of the offended party which
immediately preceded the crime. Before the same can be appreciated, the following elements must
concur: (1) That the provocation or threat must be sufficient or proportionate to the crime committed and
adequate to arouse one to its commission; (2) That the provocation or threat must originate from the
offended party; and (3) That the provocation must be immediate to the commission of the crime by the
person provoked.
Norman did not in any way provoke appellant into a fight on that fateful night. There was no argument or
physical struggle that ensued between them shortly before appellant hacked Norman with a
bolo. Norman was innocently walking along the road when, all of a sudden, appellant surfaced and hacked
him in rapid succession. The alleged altercation between the two occurred much earlier (22 October 1999)
as to reasonably and sufficiently incite the appellant to act the way he did. In the absence of sufficient
provocation on the part of the offended party, appellants assertion of mitigating circumstance cannot be
sustained. Moreover, and more importantly, this ordinary mitigating circumstance cannot offset the
qualifying aggravating circumstance of treachery which is present in the instant case.
Likewise, appellant is not entitled to the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender. Article 13,
paragraph (7) of the Revised Penal Code states that the offenders criminal liability may be mitigated if he
voluntarily surrendered to a person in authority or his agents. Accordingly, the essential elements of
voluntary surrender are: (1) that the offender had not been actually arrested or apprehended; (2) that the
surrender was voluntary and spontaneous; and (3) that the offender surrendered himself to a person in
authority or his agent.
Appellant was already apprehended for the hacking incident by the barangay officials of Lipa City just
before he was turned over to the police by a certain Tomas Dimacuha.[54] Assuming that appellant had
indeed surrendered to the authorities, the same was not made spontaneously. [55] Immediately after the
hacking incident, appellant, instead of proceeding to the barangay or police, went to his brother, Sherman
Beltran, in Bauan, Batangas, and the next day, to his sister in Lipa City. It took him three long days to
surrender to the police authorities.[56] Moreover, the flight of appellant and his act of hiding until he was
apprehended by thebarangay officials are circumstances highly inconsistent with the spontaneity that
characterizes the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender. [57]
As to the last issue, appellant insisted that the trial court has awarded excessive damages in favor
of Normans heirs. He argued that there was no proof or justification for the same.
When death occurs due to a crime, the following damages may be awarded: (1) a civil
indemnity ex delicto for the death of the victim; (2) actual or compensatory damages; (3) moral damages;
(4) exemplary damages; and (5) temperate damages.[58] Thus, we agree with the Court of Appeals that the
award of P50,000.00 for civil indemnity ex delicto to Normans heirs is proper without need of proof other
than appellants commission of murder that resulted in Normans death.[59] Likewise, we agree with the

Court of Appeals that moral damages should be awarded since Normita testified during the trial that she
suffered moral shock and wounded feelings because of the brutal and sudden death of Norman. However,
we deem it necessary to reduce the amount of the same fromP75,0000.00 to P50,000.00.
Normita claimed that she spent a total amount of P61,080 for the burial and funeral expenses
of Norman. However, the receipts on record shows that only an amount of P18,420.82 was spent therein.
[60]
Normitas claim of expenses for the food, drinks, flowers, chairs and tables during the funeral and burial
of Norman, as well as the traditional 40 days prayer thereafter, were not supported by any receipts. These
expenses are merely written, listed, and signed by Normita in one sheet of yellow paper, and submitted as
evidence in the trial court. Thus, as general rule, Normita is entitled only to an amount of P18,420.82 since
actual damages may be awarded only if there are receipts to support the same. However, in the case
of People v. Dela Cruz,[61] this Court declared that when actual damages proven by receipts during the trial
amount to less than P25,000.00, such as in the present case, the award of temperate damages
for P25,000.00, is justified in lieu of actual damages for a lesser amount. This Court ratiocinated therein
that it was anomalous and unfair that the heirs of the victim who tried but succeeded in proving actual
damages to less P25,000.00 only would be in a worse situation than those who might have presented no
receipts at all but would be entitled to P25,000.00 temperate damages. Thus, instead of P18,420.82, an
amount of P25,000.00 as temperate damages should be awarded to the heirs of Norman.Actual damages
for loss of earning capacity cannot be awarded in this case since there was no documentary evidence to
substantiate the same.[62] Although there are exceptions to this rule, none is availing in the present case. [63]
Moreover, exemplary damages in the amount of P25,000.00 should be awarded in this case since the
qualifying circumstance of treachery was firmly established. [64]
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 31 March 2005 is
hereby AFFIRMED withMODIFICATIONS: We award Normans heirs civil indemnity of P50,000.00 for Normans
death; moral damages, in the amount ofP50,000.00; temperate damages, in lieu of actual damages, in the
amount of P25,000.00; and lastly, exemplary damages in the amount of P25,000.00.
SO ORDERED.
MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:
ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN
Chief Justice
Chairperson

CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ


Associate Justice Associate Justice

ROMEO J. CALLEJO, SR.


Associate Justice
CERTIFICATION
Pursuant to Article VIII, Section 13 of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the
above Decision were reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of
the Courts Division.

ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN
Chief Justice
[1]

People v. Tuson, G.R. Nos. 106345-46, 16 September 1996, 261 SCRA 711, 713.
Rollo, pp. 3-15; penned by Associate Justice Magdangal M. de Leon with Associate Justices Salvador J.
Valdez, Jr., and Mariano C. Del Castillo, concurring.
[3]
CA rollo, pp. 16-22.
[4]
Records, pp. 1-2.
[5]
Id. at 14.
[6]
Id. at 7-8.
[7]
Id. at 4-5.
[8]
Id. at 6.
[9]
Id. at 86-88.
[10]
Id.
[2]

[11]

Id. at 3.
TSN, 1 December 2000.
[13]
Records, p. 10.
[14]
TSN, 6 June 2001.
[15]
CA rollo, pp. 16-22.
[16]
Id. at 22.
[17]
Records, p. 149.
[18]
CA rollo, pp. 59-75.
[19]
G.R. Nos. 147678-87, 7 July 2004, 433 SCRA 640.
[20]
Id. at 158.
[21]
Rollo, p. 14.
[22]
Rollo, pp. 7-8.
[23]
Records, pp. 7-8.
[24]
CA rollo, pp. 59-75.
[25]
People v. Lazaro, 319 Phil. 352, 361 (1995); People v. Layno, 332 Phil. 612, 625 (1996); People
v. Foncardas, G.R. No. 144598, 6 February 2004, 422 SCRA 356, 370.
[26]
CA rollo, p. 130.
[27]
People v. Monieva, 388 Phil. 915, 924 (2000).
[28]
Records, p. 10.
[29]
People v. Abolidor, G.R No. 147231, 18 February 2004, 423 SCRA 260, 265.
[30]
People v. Matito, G.R. No. 144405, 24 February 2004, 423 SCRA 617, 625.
[31]
People v. Castillo, G.R. No. 118912, 28 May 2004, 430 SCRA 40, 50.
[32]
People v. Alconga and Bracamonte, 78 Phil. 366, 374 (1947).
[33]
People v. Arizala, 375 Phil. 666, 674 (1999).
[34]
People v. Bausing, G.R No. 64965, 18 July 1991, 199 SCRA 355, 361.
[35]
People v. Crisostomo, 195 Phil. 162, 172 (1981).
[36]
Senoja v. People, G.R. No. 160341, 19 October 2004, 440 SCRA 695, 704.
[37]
CA rollo, p. 21.
[38]
Roca v. Court of Appeals, G.R No. 114917, 29 January 2001, 350 SCRA 414, 423.
[39]
Records, p. 132.
[40]
Senoja v. People, supra note 36.
[41]
People v. Delmindo, G.R No. 146810, 27 May 2004, 429 SCRA 546, 557.
[42]
People v. Cario, 351 Phil. 644, 659 (1998).
[43]
People v. Gallego, 453 Phil. 825, 839 (2003).
[44]
People v. Caratao, 451 Phil. 588, 602 (2003).
[45]
People v. Encomienda, 150-B Phil. 419, 433 (1972).
[46]
CA rollo, p. 124.
[47]
People v. Carujao, G.R. No. 122767, 20 January 2004, 420 SCRA 207, 213.
[48]
Rendon v. People, G.R. No. 127089, 19 November 2004, 443 SCRA 142, 146.
[49]
People v. Castillano, Sr., 448 Phil. 482, 499 (2003).
[50]
People v. Santos, G.R. No. 127492, 16 January 2004, 420 SCRA 37, 49.
[51]
Rule 110, Sections 8 and 9, of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure.
[52]
People v. Riglos, 394 Phil. 54, 72 (2000).
[53]
People v. Agsalog, G.R. No. 141087, 31 March 2004, 426 SCRA 624, 639.
[54]
CA rollo, pp. 19-21.
[55]
People v. Mallari, 452 Phil. 210, 223 (2003).
[56]
Id.
[57]
People v. Fallorina, G.R. No. 137347, 4 March 2004, 424 SCRA 655, 675.
[58]
Nueva Espaa v. People, G.R. No. 163351, 21 June 2005, 460 SCRA 547, 555.
[59]
Id.
[60]
Records, pp. 90-97.
[61]
459 Phil. 130, 138-139 (2003).
[62]
Id.
[63]
Id.
[64]
People v. Manambay, G.R. No. 130684, 5 February 2004, 422 SCRA 73, 90.
[12]

EN BANC

[G.R. No. 148912. September 10, 2003]


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. TIMOTEO ESCARLOS, alias Tomy, appellant.
DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:
By interposing self-defense, herein appellant admits authorship of the killing. Thus, shifted to him is the
burden of proof showing that the killing was justified. Despite his failure to prove self-defense, he may be
convicted only of homicide, not murder, because of the inability of the prosecution to establish any
qualifying circumstance. Here, treachery is negated by the victims awareness of the impending attack.
The Case
For automatic review before the Court is the May 29, 2001 Decision[1] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Urdaneta, Pangasinan (Branch 46) in Criminal Case No. U-10792, finding appellant guilty of murder beyond
reasonable doubt and sentencing him to death. The dispositive portion of the Decision reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, JUDGMENT is hereby rendered CONVICTING beyond reasonable doubt accused Timoteo
Escarlos of the crime of Murder and the Court sentences him to suffer the penalty of DEATH; he is likewise
ordered to indemnify the heirs of Antonio Balisacan the sum of P28,650.00 as actual damages, the sum
of P50,000.00 as moral damages and the further sum of P50,000.00 as exemplary damages.
The Clerk of Court is hereby ordered to prepare the mittimus.
The Jail Warden, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) Urdaneta District Jail, Urdaneta City, is
hereby ordered to deliver the living body of Timoteo Escarlos to the National Bilibid Prisons, Muntinlupa
City, immediately upon receipt of this Decision.[2]
The Information[3] dated August 29, 2000, charged appellant as follows:
That on or about July 1, 2000, in the evening, at Barangay Dumanpot, Asingan, Pangasinan and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, armed with a sharp pointed bladed
weapon, with deliberate intent to kill, treachery and evident premeditation, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault, hold and stab from behind Brgy. Kgd. Antonio Balisacan,
inflicting upon him the following injuries:
External Findings:
(1) Stab wound located below right clavicle measuring 3 inches length and 8 inches depth.
(2) Stab wound located at left armpit measuring 4 [inches] length and 6 inches depth.
(3) Stab wound located at mid lumbar area measuring 3 inches length and 4 inches depth
(4) Stab wound located between right first and second finger measuring 3 inches length.
Internal Findings:
(1) Cutting of the upper and lower lobe of the right lung.
(2) Cutting of the lower lobe of the left lung.
which injuries directly caused the death of said Brgy. Kgd. Antonio Balisacan, to the damage and prejudice
of his heirs.
Contrary to Art. 248, Revised Penal Code in relation to Republic Act No. 7659. [4]
During his arraignment on November 8, 2000, appellant, with the assistance of his counsel, [5] pleaded not
guilty to the charge.[6] After trial in due course, he was found guilty by the lower court.
The Facts
Version of the Prosecution
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) narrates the factual version of the prosecution as follows:
Around 9 oclock in the evening of July 1, 2000, Antonio Balisacan went to the residence of Jaime Ulep in
Domampot, Asingan, Pangasinan to attend a benefit dance which was near the place. In the benefit dance
was his son Crisanto Balisacan, who attended the dance with his friends. Crisanto stood beside the emcee,
Ceasario Escarlos, appellants brother. While Ceasario was calling the victim, Antonio Balisacan, to come to
the the stage as he was a kagawad, Crisanto heard the people at his back shout Ay!. Five (5) to six (6)
meters at his back, with the place [illuminated] by a 50 to 100 watts bulb, he saw appellant stab his father,
Antonio, several times. Crisanto was momentarily shocked that he was not able to react. When appellant
fled, Crisanto came to his senses and ran to Antonio. Antonio was still alive so he brought him to Urdaneta
Sacred Heart Hospital where he expired a few minutes after arrival.
Jesus Dismaya was also beside Ceasario when Antonio Balisacans name was called. When he heard people
shout, he turned around and saw from a distance of four (4) meters appellant stabbing Antonio four (4)
times with a ten (10) inch-long knife. He then called Antonios brother, [Marcelo] Balisacan.
Within the vicinity was Antonios brother, Marcelo Balisacan. He was in the Asingan-Urdaneta road, which
was about fifteen (15) meters outside Uleps yard when he heard people shout and run from the benefit
dance. Wanting to know what was happening, he went to the benefit dance and saw that Antonio was
stabbed. He went near Antonio, hugged him, and asked who stabbed him. He replied, Tomy Escarlos.
Meanwhile around 9:30 of the same evening of July 1, 2000. SPO1 Patricio Badua was on duty. He received
a phone call about a stabbing incident in a benefit dance in Domampot, Asingan, Pangasinan. When he
went to the scene of the crime, the victim, Antonio Balisacan was already in the hospital and appellant had
already fled. He later learn[ed] that Antonio died.
Dr. Noemi Taganas conducted an autopsy on Antonios body and found:
External Findings:
(1) Stab wound located below the right clavicle measuring 3 inches length (in) and 8 inches (in) depth.
(2) Stab wound located at left armpit measuring 4 inches length and 6 inches depth.
(3) Stab wound located at mid lumbar area measuring 3 inches length and 4 inches depth
(4) Stab wound located between right first and second finger measuring 3 inches length.
Internal Findings:
(1) Cutting of the upper and lower lobe of the right lung.
(2) Cutting of the lower lobe of the left lung.

She later issued a death certificate. She stated in court that out of the four (4) stab wounds, Antonios
second stab wound was fatal because the lungs were penetrated.
Dr. Ronald Bandonil, an NBI medico-legal officer confirmed Taganas autopsy report. He also conducted an
autopsy on the exhumed body of Antonio. In his autopsy he found that Antonios first and second wounds
were fatal as these caused his death due to hypovalmic shock or massive blood loss. [7] (Citations omitted)
Version of the Defense
Appellant, on the other hand, relates his version of the facts in this manner:
On the night of July 1, 2000, accused TIMOTEO ESCARLOS together with Rexie Yabes, Fredo Ramos, Erwin
Ramos, Rowena Alamigo and others were at the yard of Jaime Ulep, in Purok Inanama, Domanpot Asingan,
Pangasinan watching a benefit dance sponsored by Mr. & Mrs. Organization. He was invited to buy lechon
during the benefit dance.
While thereat, Kgd. Antonio Balisacan who was then drunk, passed in front of accused and told him, You
are here again to create trouble. Accused was offended so he answered back saying Why do you say that
to me when I am not doing any trouble here. Antonio Balisacan told him, OKINNAM KETDI (vulva of your
Mother) and without warning boxed him. Timoteo was hit on the forehead, which left a scar on his forehead
about an inch above the right eyebrow. He intended to box back but he noticed that the victim was pulling
out a kitchen knife, so for fear of his life, he grabbed the weapon from Antonio Balisacan and used the
knife in stabbing the latter who was hit at the side below the left armpit. He stabbed him twice and when
the victim was about to fall down, he was able to hit him for the third time.
The weapon that Timoteo was able to get from Antonio was a kitchen knife about 10 to 12 inches. Antonio
drew the knife from his left side. Timoteo was able to get hold of the handle of the knife when he grappled
for the same from the victim, by taking hold of the knife with his right hand and stabbed Antonio who was
intending to stab him. Antonio was one (1) inch taller than accused.
Timoteos testimony was corroborated by an eyewitness, CESARIO ESCARLOS, the brother of Timoteo and
president of the Mr. & Mrs. Association which sponsored the benefit dance on July 1, 2000.
On the night of July 1, 2000, Cesario Escarlos was at the yard of Jaime Ulep. At about 9:00 oclock in the
evening of the said date, he saw his brother Timoteo Escarlos together with Dexie Yabis standing in a
corner watching the dance. Several minutes later Kgd. Antonio Balisacan arrived and later on, while
Cesario was on his way to urinate. He heard Antonio uttered to Timoteo ADDA CAYO MANEN NGA
AGARAMED TI NILOLOCON. While relieving himself, he heard both Timoteo and Antonio arguing and before
he could get near and pacify them, he saw them wrestling with each other. Many people were around but
nobody pacified them. Next minute he saw Antonio bloodied and lying on the ground. There were at least
100 people then and might have seen the incident. He noticed that Jesus Dismaya was there but the latter
did not do anything. Cesario, after the incident only stayed there for 3 minutes because he was looking for
his three year-old daughter. In the meantime, nobody touched the body of the victim.[8]
The Ruling of the Trial Court
The trial court believed that the prosecutions evidence was sufficient to convict appellant of murder
qualified by treachery. It rejected his plea of self-defense, because there had been no unlawful aggression
on the part of the victim.
x x x. The established facts revealed that the victim was one of the persons who filed a case of malicious
mischief against [appellant]. Said case was filed five (5) months before the instant case happened. To the
mind of the Court, the accused only found a way of avenging what he felt towards the victim. He took
advantage of that x x x particular time and place to let out his feelings in the presence of his barangay
mates. Such hidden grudge by the accused against the victim, established the motive of the former.
xxxxxxxxx
The second element of self-defense is also lacking. The nature, location and the number of wounds
inflicted on the victim belie and negate the accused[s] claim of self-defense. The post mortem findings of
the autopsy report showed that the victim sustained four stab wounds.
If there is any truth to the accused[s] claim of self-defense, he would not have stabbed him several
times. [Worse,] the location of the wounds suggested that the accused was at the back of the victim when
the wounds were inflicted. It is therefore evident from the conduct of the accused that he was determined
to kill the victim and did not just act to defend himself. In view of the foregoing, it is no longer necessary to
discuss the third element.[9]
Hence, this automatic review.[10]
The Issues
Appellant assigns the following alleged errors for our consideration:
1. The honorable trial court erred in appreciating treachery as a qualifying circumstance despite failure of
the prosecution to prove its attendance.
2. The honorable trial court erred in not finding that the testimony of the supposed eyewitnesses for the
prosecution as to the attendance of treachery is flawed and unworthy of belief.
3. The honorable trial court erred in not giving exculpatory weight to the theory of self-defense
interpose[d] by the accused-appellant.
4. The honorable trial court committed a grave and serious error in not finding that the victim [was] the
first to assault accused.
5. The honorable trial court erred in considering motive to establish the guilt of the accused.
6. The honorable court erred in convicting the accused-appellant of murder instead of acquitting him or at
most convicting him of homicide.[11]
These issues boil down to four: (1) sufficiency of the prosecutions evidence, (2) viability of self-defense, (3)
appreciation of treachery as a qualifying circumstance, and (4) propriety of the penalty and the damages
imposed by the trial court.
The Courts Ruling
The appeal is partly meritorious.
First Issue:
Sufficiency of the Prosecutions Evidence

Although appellant did not directly raise the sufficiency of the prosecutions evidence as an issue, this Court
nonetheless deliberated on itmotu proprio, because an automatic appeal in a criminal action opens the
whole case for review. Indeed, the strength of the prosecutions evidence must be passed upon, especially
in cases in which the death penalty has been imposed by the trial court.[12] We have carefully examined the
evidence for the prosecution and found that the fact of killing and the identity of the killer were duly
established beyond reasonable doubt.
Prosecution Witness Crisanto Balisacan, son of the victim, testified on the stabbing incident, which had
occurred during a benefit dance on that fateful night of July 1, 2000. The witness testimony is as follows:
COURT:
You go to the main point.
ATTY. VELASCO:
While there, did you observe or did you see if there was any unusual incident that took place?
A: Yes, your Honor.
Q: What was that unusual incident you have seen and observed?
A: Stabbing incident, your Honor.
COURT:
Who was stabbed?
ATTY. VELASCO:
Who was the victim of that stabbing?
A: My father.
Q: Who stabbed him?
A: Mr. Timoteo Tomy Escarlos, the accused in this case, your Honor.
Q: Will you please focus your eyes within this Honorable Court and tell us whether the person you said who
stabbed your father by the name of Timoteo Escarlos is in the premises of this Honorable Court?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Will you please stand up and point to him?
A: The first one, your Honor (Witness is pointing unto a person seated on the bench inside the courtroom,
who, when his name was asked, he answered Timoteo Escarlos).
Q: How long have you been acquainted with the accused Timoteo Escarlos?
A: About ten years, your Honor.
Q: He is also from Domampot?
A: Yes, your Honor.
Q: Considering that it is already about 9:20-9:30 oclock in the evening when this stabbing incident took
place, how can you be sure that it was Timoteo Escarlos who stabbed your father?
A: There was x x x light, your Honor.
Q: What kind of light are you trying to say?
A: 50100 watts bulb.
xxxxxxxxx
ATTY. VELASCO:
Did you see the spot where your father was actually stabbed?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: How far is this place where your father was stabbed in relation to the entrance of the dance arena.
A: About 5 to 6 meters at my back, your Honor.
Q: And at that distance, what happened next while you were watching?
A: I heard shouting.
Q: These shouting that you heard, where did they come from?
A: From my back.
xxxxxxxxx
COURT:
What is that shouting about?
ATTY. VELASCO:
You heard shoutin[g], according to you, what did you hear, if you know?
A: About the incident.
COURT:
Tell [us] exactly what you heard[.]
A: I heard shouting, Ay!
Q: How many people shouted, Ay?
A: Many, your Honor, because that was a benefit dance.
ATTY. VELASCO:
When you heard shoutin[g], what did you do, if any?
A: I turned my head to my back.
Q: When you focused your attention and sight at your back, what happened next?
A: I saw stabbing. I saw my father stabbed by Timoteo Escarlos, your Honor. [13] (Italics supplied)
Undoubtedly, the factual premises with regard to the killing and its commission by appellant are clear and
undisputed. He did not at all deny the allegations against him and openly admitted that he had killed the
victim. However, he interposes self-defense to seek his exoneration from criminal liability.
Second Issue:
Plea of Self-Defense
In pleading self-defense, appellant asserts that it was the victim who initially approached and assaulted
him. Allegedly, the former had no choice but to defend himself under the circumstances. In his testimony
before the trial court, he described the confrontation that had led to the fatal killing as follows:
Q: And while you were there at the yard of Jaime Ulep on that night of July 1, 2000 do you remember
having seen the person of one Kgd. Antonio Balisacan?
A: Yes, sir.

Q: And did he see you also?


A: Yes, sir.
Q: And did you happen to see him?
A: When he passed in front of me he uttered in a loud voice you are here again to create trouble (ADDA KA
MANEN DITOY NGA AGARAMID TI NILILOKO).
Q: To whom did Antonio Balisacan utter these words?
A: I, sir.
Q: And you said it was uttered in a loud manner, how far were you when he uttered these words?
A: More or less 3 to 4 meters, sir.
Q: What did you say?
A: I was offended, sir.
Q: And do you know the physical appearance of Antonio Balisacan when he mentioned those words to you?
A: As if he was drunk, sir.
Q: What made you say that as if he was drunk?
A: I smell his breath, sir.
Q: How did you react later when Antonio Balisacan uttered those words to you?
A: I said: Why do you say that to me when I am not doing any trouble here.
Q: By the way, when Antonio Balisacan said those words to you, were you doing anything that time?
A: None, sir.
Q: What happened later on when you answered Brgy. Kgd. Antonio Balisacan?
A: He said: OKINNAM KETDI (vulva of your mother) and then he boxed me, sir.
Q: Were you hit?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: What part of your body was hit?
A: This one on my forehead, sir. (Witness is pointing on his forehead).
Q: Were you injured?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: What injury did you suffer?
A: My forehead was injured (Witness is pointing a [to] a scar on his forehead about an inch at the right
above the right eyecrow).
Q: And what did you do after you were boxed by Antonio Balisacan?
A: When I intend to box him I noticed that he withdrew a balisong and I tried to grab and used the balisong
in stabbing, sir.
xxxxxxxxx
COURT:
How many times did you stab him?
A: Two times but when he was about to fall down I was able to hit him once for the third time, sir.
Q: You said that he drew a knife, where did he draw the knife?
A: At his left side, sir.
Q: What kind of weapon did he draw?
A: I sized it to be a kitchen knife, sir.
Q: Could you tell the Honorable Court the length of that knife to include the handle?
A: 10 to 12 inches, sir.
Q: And how did you grapple for the possession of that knife?
A: I was able to hold the handle of the kitchen knife, sir.
xxxxxxxxx
Q: What prompted you to stab him considering that you already got hold [of] the knife from him?
A: Yes, sir, because he intend[ed] to stab me, so, when I had possession of the knife I stabbed him, sir.
[14]
(Italics supplied)
We stress that when the accused invokes self-defense, the burden of proof is shifted from the prosecution
to the defense. Thus, the latter assumes the responsibility of establishing this plea by clear and convincing
evidence.[15] Upon its shoulders rests the duty of proving, to the satisfaction of the trial court, the justifying
circumstance of self-defense.[16]
The implications of pleading self-defense insofar as the burden of proof is concerned was explained by the
Court in Macalino v. People,[17]from which we quote:
In pleading self-defense, petitioner in effect admitted that he stabbed the victim. It was then incumbent
upon him to prove that justifying circumstance to the satisfaction of the court, relying on the strength of
his evidence and not on the weakness of the prosecution. The reason is that even if the prosecution
evidence were weak, such could not be disbelieved after petitioner admitted the fact of stabbing the
victim.[18]
The accused who avers that the killing arose from an impulse of self-defense has the onus probandi of
proving the elements thereof.[19] The essential requisites of self-defense are the following: (1) unlawful
aggression on the part of the victim; (2) reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel
such aggression; and (3) lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person resorting to self-defense.
[20]
Verily, to invoke self-defense successfully, there must have been an unlawful and unprovoked attack
that endangered the life of the accused, who was then forced to inflict severe wounds upon the assailant
by employing reasonable means to resist the attack.[21]
Unlawful Aggression
on the Part of the Victim
In the present case, appellant claims that there was unlawful aggression on the part of the victim when the
latter unceremoniously boxed him on the forehead in the heat of their argument. Appellant adds that he
had initially thought of hitting back when he noticed that the victim was pulling out a kitchen knife. Hence,
to save his life, the former grabbed the weapon and used it to stab the latter. Appellant insists that under
the circumstances, he was legally justified in using the knife to ward off the unlawful aggression. For him to

wait for the knife to be raised and to fall on him before acting to defend himself would be asking too much,
he argues.
The contentions of appellant are untenable. While the victim may be said to have initiated the
confrontation, we do not subscribe to the view that the former was subjected to an unlawful
aggression within the legal meaning of the phrase.
The alleged assault did not come as a surprise, as it was preceded by a heated exchange of words
between the two parties who had a history of animosity. Moreover, the alleged drawing of a knife by the
victim could not have placed the life of appellant in imminent danger. The former might have done it only
to threaten or intimidate the latter.
Unlawful aggression presupposes actual, sudden, unexpected or imminent danger -- not merely
threatening and intimidating action.[22]Uncertain, premature and speculative was the assertion of appellant
that the victim was about to stab him, when the latter had merely drawn out his knife. There is aggression,
only when the one attacked faces real and immediate threat to ones life. The peril sought to be avoided
must be imminent and actual, not just speculative.[23]
Even assuming arguendo that there was an altercation before the stabbing incident and that some danger
did in fact exist, the imminence of that danger had already ceased the moment appellant disarmed the
victim by wresting the knife from the latter. After the former had successfully seized it, there was no longer
any unlawful aggression to speak of that would have necessitated the need to kill the latter. Hence,
appellant became the unlawful aggressor when he stabbed the victim. [24]
When an unlawful aggression that has begun no longer exists, the one who resorts to self-defense has no
right to kill or even to wound the former aggressor.[25] To be sure, when the present victim no longer
persisted in his purpose or action to the extent that the object of his attack was no longer in peril, there
was no more unlawful aggression that would warrant legal self-defense on the part of appellant.
[26]
Undoubtedly, the latter went beyond the call of self-preservation when he proceeded to inflict
excessive, atrocious and fatal injuries on the latter, even when the allegedly unlawful aggression had
already ceased.
Reasonable Necessity of the
Means Employed to Prevent
or Repel the Attack
Appellant argues that in the heat of the encounter, he was not in a position to calculate or determine the
effects of his blows, and that it was nevertheless necessary for him to inflict them in order to save his own
life.
As correctly held by the trial court, the nature, the number and the location of the wounds inflicted upon
the victim were important indiciadisproving self-defense.[27] The claim of appellant that only two of the four
stab wounds were fatal is of no moment, inasmuch as the means he employed was glaringly
disproportionate to the perceived unlawful aggression. He admitted in his testimony that he had stabbed
the victim for the third time, even when the latter was about to fall.
The means employed by a person invoking self-defense must be reasonably commensurate to the nature
and the extent of the attack sought to be averted, as held by the Court in People v. Obordo:[28]
Even assuming arguendo that there was unlawful aggression on the part of the victim, accused-appellant
likewise failed to prove that the means he employed to repel Homers punch was reasonable. The means
employed by the person invoking self-defense contemplates a rational equivalence between the means of
attack and the defense. Accused-appellant claimed that the victim punched him and was trying to get
something from his waist, so he (accused-appellant) stabbed the victim with his hunting knife. His act of
immediately stabbing Homer and inflicting a wound on a vital part of the victims body was unreasonable
and unnecessary considering that, as alleged by accused-appellant himself, the victim used his bare fist in
throwing a punch at him.[29]
Indeed, the means employed by a person resorting to self-defense must be rationally necessary to prevent
or repel an unlawful aggression.[30]
Unlawful aggression is a conditio sine qua non for upholding the justifying circumstance of self-defense.
[31]
Unless the victim has committed unlawful aggression against the other, there can be no selfdefense, complete or incomplete, on the part of the latter. If there is nothing to prevent or repel, the other
two requisites of self-defense will have no basis.[32]
Third Issue:
Appreciation of Qualifying Circumstances
The essence of treachery is the sudden and unexpected attack by an aggressor without the slightest
provocation on the part of the victim, thus depriving the latter of any real chance to put up a defense, and
thereby ensuring the commission of the attack without risk to the aggressor. [33] Treachery requires the
concurrence of two conditions: (1) the employment of a means of execution that gives the person attacked
no opportunity for self-defense or retaliation; and (2) the deliberate and conscious adoption of the means
of execution.[34]
There is no treachery when the assault is preceded by a heated exchange of words between the accused
and the victim; or when the victim is aware of the hostility of the assailant towards the former. [35]
In the instant case, the verbal and physical squabble prior to the attack proves that there was no
treachery, and that the victim was aware of the imminent danger to his life. [36] Moreover, the prosecution
failed to establish that appellant had deliberately adopted a treacherous mode of attack for the purpose of
depriving the victim of a chance to fight or retreat.[37]
Certainly, the victim knew that his scuffle with appellant could eventually turn into a violent physical
clash. The existence of a struggle before the fatal blows were inflicted on the victim clearly shows that he
was forewarned of the impending attack, and that he was afforded the opportunity to put up a defense.
[38]
Indeed, a killing done at the spur of the moment is not treacherous. Moreover, any doubt as to the
existence of treachery must be resolved in favor of the accused. [39]

In People v. Cario,[40] we modified the trial courts decision and ruled that the crime committed was only
homicide, because the qualifying circumstance of treachery had not been clearly established. Thus, the
Court declared:
However, we agree with the OSGs recommendation that appellant be held liable only for homicide, not
murder. In this case, the qualifying circumstance of treachery was not conclusively established. For
treachery to exist, the following requisites must be met: (1) that at the time of the attack, the victim was
not in a position to defend himself; and (2) that the offender consciously adopted the particular means,
method or form of attack employed by him. The facts show that Edmundo was placed on guard concerning
a possible assault by Pedro. First, there was a heated argument between them at the place of the
wake. Second, Edmundo was not unaware that he and Rolando were followed outside by appellant, who
did not adopt any means to conceal himself or hide his intention of confronting Edmundo.Third, the
abrasions and contusions on Edmundos face show that Edmundo was able to put up a fight before he was
fatally stabbed. These circumstances negate the existence of treachery in the commission of the offense.
[41]

As in People v. Cario, the Office of the Solicitor General recommended in this case that appellant be
convicted of homicide only, inasmuch as the qualifying circumstance of treachery had not been sufficiently
established.[42]
The trial court correctly ruled that the qualifying circumstance of evident premeditation was not present in
the killing. Essentially, there is evident premeditation when the execution of a criminal act is preceded by
cool thought and reflection upon the resolution to carry out a criminal intent within a space of time
sufficient to arrive at a calm judgment.[43] Obviously, the acts of appellant in the present case can hardly
be described as a product of reflective thought or deliberate planning towards a decisive resolve to kill the
victim. On the contrary, the confrontation that escalated to a violent brawl was quite spontaneous, casual
and incidental. Verily, the brutal killing was not the result of a previous plot or sinister design to end the life
of the victim.
The elements of evident premeditation are as follows: (a) the time when the accused decided to commit
the crime; (b) an overt act manifestly indicating that the accused clung to the determination to commit the
crime; and (c) the lapse of a period of time, between the determination and the subsequent execution of
the crime, sufficient to allow the accused an opportunity to reflect upon the consequences of the act. [44] As
found by the trial court, the prosecution failed to present sufficient evidence to establish any of the
foregoing requisites. To be sure, when there is no showing how and when the plan to kill was decided or
how much time had elapsed before the crime was carried out, there is no evident premeditation. [45]
In a criminal prosecution -- especially in cases involving the extreme penalty of death -- nothing but proof
beyond reasonable doubt of every fact necessary to constitute the crime with which the accused is
charged must be established.[46]
Fourth Issue:
Proper Penalty and Award of Damages
Under Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code, the penalty for homicide is reclusion temporal. There being
neither mitigating nor aggravating circumstance, the appropriate penalty should be reclusion temporal in
its medium period. Appellant is likewise entitled to the benefits of the Indeterminate Sentence Law.
The trial court awarded moral damages in the amount of P50,000, but failed to award P50,000 as civil
indemnity for the death of the victim.Moral damages cannot be granted in the absence of proof therefor.
[47]
Unlike in rape cases, this type of award is not automatically given in murder or homicide. The
prosecution was, however, able to prove actual damages in the sum of P28,650. The award of exemplary
damages should be omitted considering that no aggravating circumstance was duly proven. [48]
WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision is MODIFIED. Appellant is held guilty of homicide and sentenced to
eight (8) years and one (1) day ofprison mayor medium, as minimum; to fourteen (14) years, eight (8)
months and (1) day of reclusion temporal medium, as maximum. He shall also pay the heirs of the victim
the amounts of P50,000 as civil indemnity and P28,650 as actual damages, consistent with prevailing
jurisprudence.[49] The grant of moral and exemplary damages is DELETED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Vitug, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, AustriaMartinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales,and Callejo, Sr., JJ., concur.
Puno, and Azcuna, JJ., on official business.
[1]

Rollo, pp.18-30. Penned by Judge Alicia B. Gonzalez-Decano.


Assailed Decision, pp. 12-13; rollo, pp. 29-30.
[3]
Rollo, pp. 6-7; signed by 2nd Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Restituto A. Dumlao Jr.
[4]
Ibid.
[5]
Atty. Joselino Viray.
[6]
Records, Vol. I, p. 51.
[7]
Appellees Brief, pp. 5-8; rollo, pp. 133-136. Signed by acting Solicitor General Carlos N. Ortega and
Associate Solicitor Ma. Almira M. Tomampos.
[8]
Appellants Brief, pp. 9-11; rollo, pp. 50-52. Signed by Atty. Joselino A. Viray.
[9]
Assailed Decision, pp. 10-11; rollo, pp. 27-28.
[10]
This case was deemed submitted for decision on September 13, 2002, upon receipt by this Court of the
Manifestation of appellant that he was no longer filing a Reply Brief. His Brief was filed earlier on February
20, 2002, while appellees Brief was filed on June 11, 2002.
[11]
Appellants Brief, p. 2; rollo, p. 43. Original in upper case.
[12]
People v. De la Cruz, GR No. 137405, September 27, 2002.
[13]
TSN, January 24, 2001, pp. 8-11.
[14]
TSN, March 27, 2001, pp. 4-7.
[15]
People v. Peralta, 350 SCRA 198, January 24, 2001.
[16]
People v. Rabanal, 349 SCRA 655, January 19, 2001.
[2]

[17]

340 SCRA 11, September 7, 2000.


Id., pp. 22-23, per De Leon Jr., J.
[19]
People v. Almazan, 417 Phil. 697, September 17, 2001.
[20]
People v. Silvano, 350 SCRA650, January 31, 2001; People v. Plazo, 350 SCRA 433, January 29,
2001; Roca v. Court of Appeals, 350 SCRA 414, January 29, 2001.
[21]
People v. Sarmiento, 357 SCRA 447, April 30, 2001.
[22]
People v. Rabanal, supra.
[23]
People v. Damitan, 371 SCRA 629, December 7, 2001.
[24]
People v. Calabroso, 340 SCRA 332, September 14, 2000; People v. Maalat, 314 Phil. 200, July 8, 1997.
[25]
People v. Rabanal, supra.
[26]
People v. Geneblazo, 361, 414 Phil. 103, July 20, 2001.
[27]
People v. Ubaldo, 367 SCRA 432, October 17, 2001; People v. Basadre, 352 SCRA 573, February 22,
2001; People v. Silvano, supra.
[28]
GR No. 139528, May 9, 2002.
[29]
Id., p. 20, per Kapunan, J.
[30]
People v. Saul, 372 SCRA 636, December 19, 2001.
[31]
People v. Camacho, 411 Phil. 715, June 20, 2001.
[32]
People v. Flores, 356 SCRA 332, April 4, 2001; People v. Court of Appeals, 352 SCRA 599, February 23,
2001; Calim v. Court of Appeals, 351 SCRA 559, February 13, 2001.
[33]
People v. Medios, 371 SCRA 120, November 29, 2001.
[34]
People v. Figuracion, 415 Phil. 12, August 10, 2001; People v. Enriquez, 357 SCRA 269, April 20,
2001; People v. Galvez, 355 SCRA 246, March 26, 2001.
[35]
People v. Reyes, 368 SCRA 287, October 25, 2001.
[36]
People v. Mantes, 368 SCRA 661, November 14, 2001.
[37]
People v. Amba, 365 SCRA 518, September 20, 2001.
[38]
People v. Pajotal, 368 SCRA 674, November 14, 2001.
[39]
People v. Doctolero Sr., 415 Phil. 632, August 20, 2001.
[40]
416 Phil. 276, August 28, 2001.
[41]
Id., p. 287, per Quisumbing, J.
[42]
Appellees Brief, p. 32; rollo, p. 160.
[43]
People v. Uganap, 358 SCRA 674, June 19, 2001.
[44]
People v. Acojedo, 369 SCRA 376, November 19, 2001.
[45]
People v. Feliciano, 365 SCRA 613, September 24, 2001.
[46]
People v. Francisco, 350 SCRA 55, January 22, 2001.
[47]
People v. Villanueva, GR No. 139177, August 11, 2003; People v. Ibaez, GR Nos. 133923-24, July 30,
2003.
[48]
People v. Panabang, GR Nos. 137514-15, January 16, 2002; People v. Catubig, 416 Phil. 102, August 23,
2001.
[49]
People v. Panabang, supra; People v. Costales, GR Nos. 141154-56, January 15, 2002.
[18]

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 158057
September 24, 2004

NOE TOLEDO y TAMBOONG, petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.
DECISION
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
This is a petition for review of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 23742 affirming
on appeal, the Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Odiongan, Romblon, Branch 82, in Criminal
Case No. OD-861, convicting the petitioner of homicide.
In an Information filed in the RTC of Romblon, the petitioner was charged with homicide allegedly
committed as follows:
That on or about the 16th day of September 1995, at around 9:30 oclock in the evening, in Barangay
Libertad, municipality of Odiongan, province of Romblon, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the said accused, with intent to kill, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously attack, assault and stab with a bolo, one RICKY F. GUARTE, which causes (sic) his untimely
death.
Contrary to law.3
In due course, the prosecution adduced evidence against the petitioner which was synthesized by the
appellate court as follows:
On September 16, 1995, appellant went to a black-smith who made the design of his bolo. When he went
home to Tuburan, Odiongan, Romblon late in the afternoon (TSN, September 4, 1998, p. 2), appellant saw
the group of Lani Famero, Michael Fosana, Rex Cortez and Ricky Guarte drinking gin at the house of the
Spouses Manuel and Eliza Guarte, Rickys parents. Appellants house is about five (5) meters away from
the house of Spouses Guarte. Appellant requested the group of Ricky to refrain from making any noise.
Thereupon, appellant proceeded inside his house and went to sleep (ibid., p. 3). Around 9:00 p.m., Gerardo
Faminia, Eliza Guartes brother arrived at the Guarte house and asked for any left-over food (TSN, August
5, 1998, p. 3). Eliza prepared dinner for him and after Gerardo finished eating, he went home accompanied
by Ricky (TSN, April 26, 1996, p. 5). Gerardos home is about twelve (12) meters away from the Guarte
home (TSN, February 17, 1997, p. 11). Minutes later, Ricky came back and together with Lani, Rex and
Michael, went to sleep at the Guarte house. They had not laid down for long when they heard stones being
hurled at the roof of the house. The stoning was made three (3) times (TSN, August 5, 1998, pp. 2-3). Ricky
rose from bed and peeped through a window. He saw appellant stoning their house. Ricky went out of the
house and proceeded to appellants house. Ricky asked appellant, his uncle, why he was stoning their
house. Appellant did not answer but met Ricky at the doorstep of his (appellants) house (TSN, April 26,
1996, p. 6; August 5, 1998, pp. 4-5) and, without any warning, stabbed Ricky on the abdomen with a bolo
(TSN, August 5, 1998, p. 8). Eliza had followed his son Ricky and upon seeing that Ricky was stabbed,
shouted for help (TSN, February 17, 1997, p. 13). Lani heard Elizas cry for help and immediately rushed
outside the house. Lani saw Ricky leaning on the ground and supporting his body with his hands. Lani
helped Ricky stand up and brought him to the main road. Lani asked Ricky who stabbed him and Ricky
replied that it was appellant who stabbed him. Then Docloy Cortez arrived at the scene on board his
tricycle. Accordingly, Ricky was put on the tricycle and taken to the Romblon Provincial Hospital (TSN,
January 19, 1998, pp. 4-6).
At the Romblon Provincial Hospital, Dr. Noralie Fetalvero operated on Ricky that very night. Ricky had
sustained one (1) stab wound but due to massive blood loss, he died while being operated on (TSN,
November 24, 1997, pp. 2, 6-7). Dr. Fetalvero issued a Medico-Legal Certificate showing the injuries
sustained by Ricky, thus:
Stab wound, left chest with gastric & transverse colon evisceration measuring 6 cms. long, irregular-edged
at 8th ICS, left penetrating (operative findings):
(1) abdominal cavity perforating the stomach (thru & thru) and the left lobe of the liver
(2) thoracic cavity thru the left dome of the diaphragm perforating the lower lobe of the left lung.

(Exhibit C)
The Certificate of Death issued by Dr. Fetalvero stated the cause of Rickys death as:
CAUSES OF DEATH:
Immediate cause :

a. Cardiorespiratory Arrest

Antecedent cause :

b. Hypovolemic shock

Underlying cause :

c. Multiple thoraco-abdominal

injury 2 to stab wound


(Exhibit B)4
The Evidence of the Petitioner
The petitioner adduced evidence that at around 5:00 p.m. on September 16, 1995, he was on his way
home at Tuburan, Odiongan, Romblon. He saw his nephew, Ricky Guarte, and the latters friends, Michael
Fosana, Rex Cortez, and Lani Famero, about five meters away from his house, having a drinking spree. He
ordered them not to make loud noises, and they obliged. He then went to his house, locked the door with a
nail, and went to sleep. However, he was awakened at around 9:30 p.m. by loud noises coming from Ricky
and his three companions. He peeped through the window grills of his house and admonished them not to

make any loud noises. Ricky, who was then already inebriated, was incensed; he pulled out a balisong,
pushed the door, and threatened to stab the petitioner. The petitioner pushed their sala set against the
door to block the entry of Ricky, but the latter continued to push the door open with his hands and body.
The petitioner ran to the upper portion of their house and got his bolo. 5 He returned to the door and
pushed it with all his might using his left hand. He then pointed his bolo, which was in his right hand,
towards Ricky. The bolo accidentally hit Ricky on the stomach, and the latter lost his balance and fell to the
floor. The petitioner, thereafter, surrendered to the barangay captain at 11:00 a.m. on September 17,
1995.
After trial, the court rendered judgment finding the petitioner guilty as charged. The fallo of the decision
reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, NOE TOLEDO is hereby found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of
homicide with the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender and is meted the indeterminate penalty
of from six (6) years and one (1) day of prision mayor minimum, as minimum, to twelve (12) years and one
(1) day of reclusion temporal minimum, as maximum.
Accused is condemned to pay the amount of P50,000.00 as civil liability to the heirs of the victim. 6
The trial court did not give credence and probative weight to the testimony of the petitioner that his bolo
accidentally hit the victim on the stomach.
On appeal in the CA, the petitioner raised the following issue in his brief as appellant:
WHETHER OR NOT ACCUSED-APPELLANT CAN BE CRIMINALLY HELD LIABLE FOR THE ACCIDENTAL DEATH
OF RICKY GUARTE7
Invoking Article 12, paragraph 4 of the Revised Penal Code, the petitioner claimed that he stabbed the
victim by accident; hence, he is exempt from criminal liability for the death of the victim.
The CA rendered judgment affirming the assailed decision with modifications. The CA also denied the
petitioners motion for reconsideration thereof. The appellate court ruled that the petitioner failed to prove
that he acted in self-defense.
Aggrieved, the petitioner filed the instant petition for review, contending that the CA erred in not finding
that he acted in self-defense when he stabbed the victim by accident and prays that he be acquitted of the
crime charged.
The sole issue in this case is whether or not the petitioner is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of homicide
based on the evidence on record.
The petitioner contends that the CA committed a reversible error when it affirmed the decision of the RTC
convicting him of homicide, on its finding that he failed to prove that he acted in complete self-defense
when the victim was hit by his bolo. The petitioner insists that he acted in complete self-defense when his
bolo accidentallyhit the victim on the stomach.
For its part, the Office of the Solicitor General asserts that the petitioner failed to prove self-defense with
clear and convincing evidence. Hence, the decision of the CA affirming, on appeal, the decision of the RTC
is correct.
The contention of the petitioner has no merit.
The petitioner testified that his bolo hit the victim accidentally. He asserted in the RTC and in the CA that
he is exempt from criminal liability for the death of the victim under Article 12, paragraph 4 of the Revised
Penal Code which reads:
4. Any person who, while performing a lawful act with due care, causes an injury by mere accident without
fault or intention of causing it.
In his brief in the CA, the petitioner argued that:
In the case at bar, with all due respect, contrary to the findings of the lower court, it is our humble
submission that the death of Ricky Guarte was merely a sad and unwanted result of an accident without
fault or intention of causing it on the part of accused-appellant. We submit, there were clear and
indubitable factual indicators overlooked by the lower court, bolstering the theory of the defense on
accidental death.8
However, the petitioner changed gear, so to speak, and now alleges that he acted in self-defense when he
stabbed the victim. As such, he contends, he is not criminally liable under Article 11, paragraph 1 of the
Revised Penal Code which reads:
Art. 11. Justifying circumstances. The following do not incur any criminal liability:
1. Anyone who acts in defense of his person or rights, provided that the following circumstances concur:
First. Unlawful aggression;
Second. Reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel it:
Third. Lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending himself.
The petitioner avers that he was able to prove the essential elements of complete self-defense, thus:
A close scrutiny of the records of the case would show that the petitioner acted in self-defense.
The essential requisites of self-defense are: (1) unlawful aggression on the part of the victim; (2)
reasonable scrutiny of the means employed to prevent or repel it; and (3) lack of sufficient provocation on
the part of the person defending himself (People vs. Silvano, 350 SCRA 650) 9
However, the petitioner also claims that his bolo accidentally hit the stomach of the victim.
It is a matter of law that when a party adopts a particular theory and the case is tried and decided upon
that theory in the court below, he will not be permitted to change his theory on appeal. The case will be
reviewed and decided on that theory and not approached and resolved from a different point of view. To
permit a party to change his theory on appeal will be unfair to the adverse party. 10
The petitioner is proscribed from changing in this Court, his theory of defense which he adopted in the trial
court and foisted in the CA by claiming that he stabbed and killed the victim in complete self-defense.
The petitioner relied on Article 12, paragraph 4 of the Revised Penal Code in the trial and appellate courts,
but adopted in this Court two divergent theories (1) that he killed the victim to defend himself against his
unlawful aggression; hence, is justified under Article 11, paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code; (2) that
his bolo accidentally hit the victim and is, thus, exempt from criminal liability under Article 12, paragraph 4
of the Revised Penal Code.

It is an aberration for the petitioner to invoke the two defenses at the same time because the said
defenses are intrinsically antithetical.11 There is no such defense as accidental self-defense in the realm of
criminal law.
Self-defense under Article 11, paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code necessarily implies a deliberate and
positive overt act of the accused to prevent or repel an unlawful aggression of another with the use of
reasonable means. The accused has freedom of action. He is aware of the consequences of his deliberate
acts. The defense is based on necessity which is the supreme and irresistible master of men of all human
affairs, and of the law. From necessity, and limited by it, proceeds the right of self-defense. The right
begins when necessity does, and ends where it ends.12 Although the accused, in fact, injures or kills the
victim, however, his act is in accordance with law so much so that the accused is deemed not to have
transgressed the law and is free from both criminal and civil liabilities. 13 On the other hand, the basis of
exempting circumstances under Article 12 of the Revised Penal Code is the complete absence of
intelligence, freedom of action, or intent, or the absence of negligence on the part of the accused. 14 The
basis of the exemption in Article 12, paragraph 4 of the Revised Penal Code is lack of negligence and
intent. The accused does not commit either an intentional or culpable felony. The accused commits a crime
but there is no criminal liability because of the complete absence of any of the conditions which constitute
free will or voluntariness of the act.15 An accident is a fortuitous circumstance, event or happening; an
event happening wholly or partly through human agency, an event which under the circumstances is
unusual or unexpected by the person to whom it happens.16
Self-defense, under Article 11, paragraph 1, and accident, under Article 12, paragraph 4 of the Revised
Penal Code, are affirmative defenses which the accused is burdened to prove, with clear and convincing
evidence. Such affirmative defenses involve questions of facts adduced to the trial and appellate courts for
resolution. By admitting killing the victim in self-defense or by accident without fault or without intention of
causing it, the burden is shifted to the accused to prove such affirmative defenses. He should rely on the
strength of his own evidence and not on the weakness of that of the prosecution. If the accused fails to
prove his affirmative defense, he can no longer be acquitted.
The petitioner failed to prove that the victim was killed by accident, without fault or intention on his part to
cause it. The petitioner was burdened to prove with clear and convincing evidence, the essential requisites
for the exempting circumstance under Article 12, paragraph 4, viz:
1. A person is performing a lawful act;
2. With due care;
3. He causes an injury to another by mere accident;
4. Without fault or intention of causing it.
To prove his affirmative defense, the petitioner relied solely on his testimony, thus:
Q What happened next when Ricky Guarte was able to push through the door and you ran away?
A When Ricky Guarte was able to push the door, that is the time I go (sic) downstairs and got my bolo and
at that time the body of Ricky Guarte was at the entrance of the door and accidentally the bolo reached
him.
Q Where did you get the bolo?
A I got the bolo in the post or wall of our house.
Q Was Ricky Guarte hit the first time you boloed him?
A Not hacking but accidentally.
Q What do you mean by accidentally?
A Because when Ricky Guarte pushed the door and unbalance himself (sic) the bolo which I was carrying
hit him accidentally.
Q Where was he hit by the bolo you were carrying?
A In the stomach.17

Q And since you were at the left side of the door, your right hand was at the center part of the door,
correct?
A No, Sir.
Q Where was your right hand?
A Holding a bolo.
Q Where, in what part of the door?
A Right side.
Q When Ricky Guarte was pushing the door, the door was not opened?
A It was opened.
Q It was opened because you opened the door, correct?
A No, Sir.
Q Now, why was it opened?
A Because he was pushing it.
Q With his left hand?
A With his both hands and body.
Q Now, when he fell down because, according to you, he losses (sic) his balance, the left side of the body
was the first to fell (sic) down, correct?
A Yes, Sir.
Q You are sure of your answer now Mr. Toledo?
A Yes, Sir.
Q Now, and while holding that bolo, you are doing that in [an] upward position, correct?
A No, Sir, pointing the door.
Q Yes, you are pointing the tip of your bolo to the door upward, correct?
A No, Sir, steady pointing to the door.
Q Now, when the door was opened, your bolo did not hit any part of that door, correct?
A "Ginaiwas ko ang sunrang," meaning I was able to get away from hitting any part of the door.

Q The question Mr. Toledo is simple, while the door was opened and while you were pointing directly your
bolo at the door, not any part of the door hit the bolo (sic), correct?
ATTY. FORMILLEZA:
It was a valid answer, it did not hit any part of the door.
COURT:
Answer.
A No, Sir.
PROS. FRADEJAS continuing:
Q You were only about five inches away from your door while pushing it, correct?
A Yes, Sir.
Q Now, when the door was pushed already by Ricky Guarte, not any part of your body hit the door,
correct?
A No, Sir.18
The petitioner also testified that the victim was armed with a balisong and threatened to kill him as the
said victim pushed, with his body and hands, the fragile door of his house:
Q Where were you when you saw Ricky went out?
A I was at the door.
Q Did Ricky proceed to the door where you were?
A Yes, Sir.
Q What did he do, if any?
A He drew his fan knife or balisong and asked me what do you like, I will stab you?
Q What did you do?
A I told him I have not done you anything wrong, I am only scolding you or telling you not to make noise.
Q What, if any, did Ricky Guarte do to you?
A He pushed the door.
Q Whose door did he push?
A My own door.
Q Where were you when he pushed the door?
A Inside our house.19
We find the testimony of the petitioner incredible and barren of probative weight.
First. If the testimony of the petitioner is to be believed, the force of the struggle between him and the
victim would have caused the door to fall on the petitioner. However, the petitioner failed to adduce real
evidence that the door of his house was destroyed and that he sustained any physical
injuries,20 considering that he was only five inches away from the door.
Second. If the door fell to the sala of the house of the petitioner, the victim must have fallen on top of the
door. It is incredible that the bolo of the petitioner could have hit the stomach of the victim. The claim of
the petitioner that he managed to step aside and avoid being crushed by the door belies his claim that the
bolo accidentally hit the victim on the stomach.
Third. When he surrendered to the barangay captain and to the policemen, he failed to relate to them that
his bolo accidentally hit the stomach of the victim:
Q Now, that very night when you said Ricky Guarte was accidentally hit by your bolo, you did not surrender
to the police, correct?
A I surrendered to the barangay captain at one oclock in Panique, in the afternoon.
Q Now, you only surrendered to the police when a certain person advised you to surrender, correct?
A On my own volition, I surrendered to the barangay captain.
Q You did not narrate the incident to the barangay captain whom you have surrendered, correct?
A No, Sir.
Q When you were brought to the municipal jail, you did not also narrate to the police what happened,
correct?
A No, Sir.
Q You just remained silent thinking of an excuse that happened that evening of September 16, 1995,
correct?
A No, Sir.21
Fourth. There is no evidence that the petitioner surrendered either the bolo that accidentally hit the victim
or the balisong held by the deceased to the barangay captain or the police authorities. Such failure of the
petitioner negates his claim that his bolo accidentally hit the stomach of the victim and that he acted in
self-defense.22
Fifth. To prove self-defense, the petitioner was burdened to prove the essential elements thereof, namely:
(1) unlawful aggression on the part of the victim; (2) lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the
petitioner; (3) employment by him of reasonable means to prevent or repel the aggression. Unlawful
aggression is a condition sine qua non for the justifying circumstances of self-defense, whether complete
or incomplete.23 Unlawful aggression presupposes an actual, sudden, and unexpected attack, or imminent
danger thereof, and not merely a threatening or intimidating attitude. 24 We agree with the ruling of the CA
that the petitioner failed to prove self-defense, whether complete or incomplete:
The evidence on record revealed that there is no unlawful aggression on the part of Ricky. While it was
established that Ricky was stabbed at the doorstep of appellants house which would give a semblance of
verity to appellants version of the incident, such view, however, is belied by the fact that Ricky arrived at
appellants house unarmed and had only one purpose in mind, that is, to ask appellant why he threw
stones at his (Rickys) house. With no weapon to attack appellant, or defend himself, no sign of hostility
may be deduced from Rickys arrival at appellants doorstep. Ricky was not threatening to attack nor in
any manner did he manifest any aggressive act that may have imperiled appellants well-being. Rickys
want of any weapon when he arrived at appellants doorstep is supported by the fact that only one weapon
was presented in court, and that weapon was the bolo belonging to appellant which he used in stabbing

Ricky. Thus, appellants version of the events does not support a finding of unlawful aggression. In People
vs. Pletado, the Supreme Court held:
"xxx (F) or aggression to be appreciated, there must be an actual, sudden, [un]expected attack or
imminent danger thereof, and not merely a threatening or intimidating attitude (People vs. Pasco, Jr.,
supra, People vs. Rey, 172 SCRA 149 [1989]) and the accused must present proof of positively strong act of
real aggression (Pacificar vs. Court of Appeals, 125 SCRA 716 [1983]). Unlawful aggression must be such
as to put in real peril the life or personal safety of the person defending himself or of a relative sought to
be defended and not an imagined threat."
Appellant was not justified in stabbing Ricky. There was no imminent threat to appellants life necessitating
his assault on Ricky. Unlawful aggression is a condition sine qua non for the justifying circumstance of selfdefense. For unlawful aggression to be appreciated, there must be an actual, sudden, unexpected attack or
imminent danger thereof, not merely a threatening or intimidating attitude. In the absence of such
element, appellants claim of self-defense must fail.
Further, appellants plea of self-defense is not corroborated by competent evidence. The plea of selfdefense cannot be justifiably entertained where it is not only uncorroborated by any separate competent
evidence but is in itself extremely doubtful.25
Sixth. With the failure of the petitioner to prove self-defense, the inescapable conclusion is that he is guilty
of homicide as found by the trial court and the CA. He cannot even invoke Article 12, paragraph 4 of the
Revised Penal Code.26
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is DENIED. The assailed decision of the Court of Appeals
isAFFIRMED. Costs against the petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Puno, Austria-Martinez, Tinga, and Chico-Nazario*, JJ., concur.
Footnotes
*
On leave.
1
Penned by Associate Justice Bernardo P. Abesamis (retired), with Associate Justices Juan Q. Enriquez, Jr.
and Edgardo F. Sundiam, concurring.
2
Penned by Judge Francisco F. Fanlo, Jr.
3
CA Rollo, p. 39.
4
Id. at 93-96.
5
Exhibit "A."
6
CA Rollo, p. 47.
7
Id. at 31.
8
Rollo, p. 39.
9
Id. at 15.
10
See Chua v. Court of Appeals, 401 SCRA 54 (2003); Roxas v. Court of Appeals, 391 SCRA 351
(2002);Bacaling v. Muya, 380 SCRA 714 (2002).
11
People v. Javier, 377 SCRA 300 (2002).
12
Bishop, A Treatise on Criminal Law, Vol. 1, 9th ed., pp. 559-560.
13
Reyes, The Revised Penal Code, Vol. 1, 1970 ed., p. 149.
14
Id. at 213.
15
Id. at 214.
16
Jarco Marketing Corporation v. Court of Appeals, 321 SCRA 375 (1999).
17
TSN, 4 September 1998, p. 6.
18
TSN, 21 October 1998, pp. 9-10.
19
TSN, 4 September 1998, p. 5.
20
TSN, 21 October 1998, p. 15.
21
Id. at 13-14.
22
People v. Camacho, 359 SCRA 200 (2001).
23
Ibid.
24
People v. Cario, 288 SCRA 404 (1998).
25
Rollo, pp. 62-63.
26
People v. Cario, supra.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 161007
December 6, 2006

CELERINO SANCHEZ, petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.
DECISION
TINGA, J.:
Celerino Sanchez (Sanchez) assails the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals dated May 7, 2003 which affirmed
his conviction of the crime of Homicide but modified the penalty imposed by the trial court, and its
Resolution2 dated October 21, 2003 which denied reconsideration for lack of merit.
The case stems from an Information3 dated March 24, 1994, docketed as Criminal Case No. 94-10-430,
indicting Sanchez for the death of Felix Jamero (Jamero). The Information reads:
That on September 4, 1993, at 7:00 o'clock in the morning, more or less, in Barangay San Jose,
Municipality of Mahayag, Province of Zamboanga del Sur, Republic of the Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with intent to kill and armed with a long
sharp bolo, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, assault[,] attack, hack and stab one
FELIX JAMERO, inflicting upon the victim multiple stab wounds in the different parts of his body which
cause his instant death.
CONTRARY TO LAW.4
Sanchez pleaded not guilty upon arraignment. Trial proceeded after which the Regional Trial Court, Branch
23, Molave, Zamboanga del Sur rendered a Decision, 5 the dispositive portion of which states:
WHEREFORE, on the basis of the evidences admitted at the trial, this Court finds the accused guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of homicide, and hereby imposes the indeterminate penalty of eight years
and one day of prision mayor as minimum, to fifteen years, of reclusion temporal as maximum, of
imprisonment, and to pay the heirs of the deceased victim the sum of P165,000.00, itemized as follows:
Moral damages
------------------

P 50,000.
00

Exemplary damages
--------------

50,000.00

Funeral Expenses
----------------

65,000.00

Total
------------------------------

P165,000.
00

SO ORDERED.6
On appeal, Sanchez averred that the trial court erred in not ruling that he acted in self-defense and in
failing to appreciate the mitigating circumstances of voluntary surrender and passion and obfuscation.
Finding that unlawful aggression as an element of self-defense was not present, the Court of Appeals
affirmed Sanchez's conviction. However, it decreased the penalty imposed in view of the mitigating
circumstance of voluntary surrender. The dispositive portion of the Decision of the Court of Appeals
provides:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered partly granting the instant appeal. The
decision of the trial court is MODIFIED in so far as the penalty is concerned which should be SIX (6) YEARS
and ONE (1) day of Prision Mayor as Minimum to TWELVE (12) YEARS and ONE (1) day of Reclusion
Temporal as maximum. All other aspects of the decision are AFFIRMED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.7
Sanchez's account of the facts shows that he and Jamero were tenants of adjacent lots located in San Jose,
Mahayag, Zamboanga del Sur.8 At about 7:00 o'clock in the morning of September 4, 1993, Sanchez saw
Jamero destroying the dike which served as the boundary between the two lots. Sanchez confronted
Jamero and told the latter that he was encroaching on his land. Jamero struck him with a shovel. The
shovel got stuck in the mud so Jamero resorted to throwing mud at Sanchez. Fighting back, Sanchez
hacked Jamero with a bolo, resulting in the latter's death. 9 Sanchez then proceeded to the municipal
building to surrender upon the advice of his son-in-law. 10
Based on these facts, Sanchez insists in his Petition11 dated November 17, 2003, that he acted in selfdefense. According to him, Jamero was the unlawful aggressor having struck him with a shovel. Had he not
fought back by hacking Jamero with a bolo, he would have been the one killed.
In its Comment12 dated September 16, 2004, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) maintains that the
plea of self-defense, whether complete or incomplete, should fail because there was no longer any
unlawful aggression on the part of Jamero when Sanchez hacked him.
According to the OSG, Jamero's attack on Sanchez was unsuccessful because the latter was able to evade
it and Jamero's shovel got stuck in the mud. Jamero fled toward the ricefield when Sanchez unsheathed his
bolo. Sanchez pursued him and struck his head with a bolo. Jamero fell down but was able to stand up
again. He ran away but after a short distance, fell down again. Sanchez approached him and stabbed him
several times. Not satisfied, Sanchez pushed Jamero's face down into the knee-deep mud. After Jamero's
aggression ceased when he fled and left his shovel stuck in the mud, there was no longer any justification
for Sanchez to go after him and hack him to death.

Sanchez filed a Reply to Respondent's People of the Philippines Comment 13 dated November 11, 2004,
reiterating that he acted in self-defense.
We sustain the Decision of the Court of Appeals.
Self-defense is an affirmative allegation and offers exculpation from liability for crimes only if satisfactorily
shown. Self-defense requires: (a) unlawful aggression on the part of the victim; (b) reasonable necessity of
the means employed by the accused to repel it; and (c) lack of sufficient provocation on his part. 14
Having admitted that he killed Jamero, the burden of evidence that one acted in self-defense shifted to
Sanchez. It is textbook doctrine that when self-defense is invoked, the burden of evidence shifts to the
appellant to show that the killing was justified and that he incurred no criminal liability therefor. He must
rely on the strength of his own evidence and not on the weakness of the prosecution's evidence, for, even
if the latter were weak, it could not be disbelieved after his open admission of responsibility for the killing.
Hence, he must prove the essential requisites of self-defense aforementioned. 15
In this case, Sanchez failed to prove the element of unlawful aggression. The positive and categorical eyewitness account of Saturnino Umambac (Umambac) that Jamero ran away from Sanchez but that the latter
pursued Jamero, caught up with him and hacked him to death negates Sanchez's plea of self-defense.
Umambac testified:
Atty. Pedro S. Jamero
Q: While the three (3) of you were working at that time on that date and time, could you recall if there was
an unusual incident that happened?
A: There was.
Q: Please tell the Court.
A: There was a person who arrived.
Court
Q: How many person who [sic] arrived?
A: Only one (1).
Q: Do you know the name of the person who arrived?
A: Yes[,] Sir.
Atty. Pedro S. Jamero
Q: Who [sic] is the name of that person?
A: Celerino Sanche[z].
Court
Q: Was he bringing anything at that time?
A: Yes[,] Sir, a bolo was tucked at his waist.
Atty. Pedro S. Jamero
Q: What happened when Celerino Sanche[z] arrived at the place where the three (3) of you were working?
A: Celerino Sanches said: "Lex, do not cut grasses on my land, look at our boundary."
Q: And then?
A: Felix Jamero continued shovelling dirt and grumbling at the same time as if angry.
Q: And what transpired next?
A: He then acted as if to strike. ([W]itness demonstrated raising his hand holding a shovel.) [A]t the same
time Celerino S. Sanche[z] pulled out his bolo.
Court
Q: Who raised up the shovel?
A: It was Felix Jamero.
Q: And how far was the accused to Felix Jamero at that time?
A: Two (2) to three (3) meters.
Q: Felix Jamero was on the act of striking the accused with the shovel?
A: Yes[,] Sir.
Court:
Proceed
Q: Now, you said that at that instance Celerino Sanche[z] pulled his bolo, what did he do after he pulled it?
A: He hacked Felix Jamero.
Q: Was Felix Jamero hit?
A: No[,] Sir.
Q: Now, since Felix Jamero was not hit, what happened next?
A: He ran away.
Q: Who ran away?
A: Felix Jamero.
Q: To what direction did Felix Jamero run away?
A: In [sic] his rice land.
Court
Q: Towards the direction of Celerino Sanche[z]?
A: No[,] Sir, going away.
Q: Was he following the cement of the rice field or did he run across the rice field?
A: He was running right inside the rice field.
Q: And the rice field then at that time[,] was [it] full of water or was it dry?
A: With water, Sir.
Court:
Proceed
Atty. Pedro S. Jamero
Q: Now, while Felix Jamero was running on the rice field, what did Celerino Sanche[z] do if anything?
A: He chased him, Sir.
Q: What happened when Celerino Sanche[z] chased Felix Jamero?
A: He was able to catch up with Felix Jamero.

Q: And what happened when Celerino Sanche[z] was able to catch up with Felix Jamero?
A: He hacked him.
Q: Who hacked who?
A: It was Celerino Sanche[z] who hacked Felix Jamero.
Court:
Q: Was Felix Jamero facing Celerino Sanche[z] at the time he was hacked by Celerino Sanche[z]?
A: Yes, Sir, they were facing each other. ([W]itness demonstrated)
Q: And Felix Jamero was still bringing the shovel [when] he was about to strike Celerino Sanche[z]?
A: Not any more, Sir.
Q: What was then being brought by Felix Jamero?
A: Mud.
Court:
Proceed.
Atty. Pedro S. Jamero
Q: Now, you said, at the time Celerino Sanche[z] hacked Felix Jamero, was Felix Jamero hit?
A: Yes[,] Sir.
Court
Q: What part of the body was he hit?
A: At the head. ([W]itness pointing at the head.)
Q: And what happened to Felix Jamero?
A: He was able to stand up and ran away but a distance away he fell down.
Q: And what did Celerino Sanche[z] do?
A: He approached him and hacked him and stabbed him.
Q: How many times did he hack Felix Jamero?
A: I was not able to count, Sir, but many times.
Q: How many times did Celerino Sanche[z] stab Felix Jamero?
A: I was not able to count also, Sir.
Court:
Proceed
Atty. Pedro S. Jamero
Q: On those occasions when you said Celerino Sanche[z] hacked and stabbed Felix Jamero, the number of
which you could no longer count, what was the exact position of Felix Jamero relative to Celerino
Sanche[z]?
A: He fell down on the mud.
Court
Q: The rice field was then very muddy at that time?
A: Yes[,] Sir.
Q: What did you do then at that time?
A: We were afraid to go near. So, we only watched them. We were only hired help, Sir.
Court:
Proceed
Atty. Pedro S. Jamero
Q: What transpired after that?
A: He then rode on top of Felix Jamero and pushed him to the mud, Sir.
Court
Q: And then after that?
A: Greg, the son-in-law of Celerino Sanche[z] arrived.
Q: And then?
A: His bolo was taken away.
Q: Who took the bolo of whom?
A: Greg, [sic] took the bolo of Celerino Sanche[z].
Q: And what did he do with the bolo of Celerino Sanche[z]?
A: I did not notice what he did with the bolo, only that it was he who get the bolo.
Atty. Pedro S. Jamero
Q: After Greg took the bolo of Celerino Sanche[z], do you know where did Celerino Sanche[z] go?
A: He ran away but I do not know where he ran away.
Court
Q: Who ran away?
A: It was Celerino Sanche[z].
Atty. Pedro S. Jamero
Q: What about Felix Jamero, what happened to him?
A: He was left on the mud where he was hacked and we and his wife carried him. 16 [Emphasis supplied]
While Jamero was inceptually the unlawful aggressor by his act of raising his shovel to strike Sanchez, the
unlawful aggression ceased to exist when Jamero turned and ran towards the rice field. Sanchez himself
admits that he was not hit by Jamero's shovel because he was able to step back and the shovel got stuck
in the mud. He testified:
Atty. Pedro Jamero
Q: It is not a fact[,] Mr. Witness, that when you were first allegedly hit by Felix Jamero with his shovel you
were not hit, is that correct?
A: Yes[,] Sir, because I was able to step back.
Q: And the shovel that was used by Felix Jamero in hacking you stuck to [sic] the mud and he was not able
to recover it, is that correct?
A: No[,] Sir, he was not able to pull the shovel back because it was stuck hard in the mud.
Q: And that was the time that Felix Jamero threw mud on your face, is that correct?

A: Yes[,] Sir.
Q: And after Felix Jamero threw mud at your face that was the time that you hacked him several times
which you said you could not remember anymore because you lost consciousness or you went black out?
A: Yes[,] Sir.
Court
Q: How did the spade get at [sic] the mud?
A: The shovel got stuck at the mud. (Witness demonstrating that the face of the shovel was the one that
got stuck in the mud, sideways).
Q: That point of the shovel was directed at you but you were able to evade [it]?
A: Yes[,] Sir.
Q: And because of the force, the spade got buried at [sic] the mud?
A: Yes[,] Sir, because of the force the shovel got stuck to [sic] the mud and he was not able to pull it
anymore, so he threw mud at me.
Court:
Proceed.
Atty. Pedro Jamero
Q: When the shovel of Felix Jamero got stuck to [sic] the mud and he was not able to pull it, that moment
did it not occur to your mind to go away from him to avoid further trouble?
A: After he threw the mud at me[,] Sir, he pulled the shovel but the shovel was buried at the mud [and] he
was not able to entirely pull it, so I hacked him. 17
There can be no self-defense, complete or incomplete, unless the accused proves the first essential
requisiteunlawful aggression on the part of the victim. Unlawful aggression presupposes an actual,
sudden and unexpected or imminent danger on the life and limb of a person a mere threatening or
intimidating attitude is not sufficient. There must be actual physical force or a threat to inflict physical
injury. In case of a threat, it must be offensive and positively strong so as to display a real, not imagined,
intent to cause injury. Aggression, if not continuous, does not constitute aggression warranting selfdefense.18
In this case, the twin circumstances of Jamero's shovel getting stuck in the mud and his running away from
Sanchez convincingly indicate that there was no longer any danger to the latter's life and limb which could
have justified his pursuit of Jamero and subsequent hacking and killing of the latter.
Sanchez's failure to prove unlawful aggression by Jamero and the prosecution's evidence conclusively
showing that it was Sanchez who was the unlawful aggressor completely discounts Sanchez's claim of selfdefense. Even incomplete self-defense by its very nature and essence would always require the
attendance of unlawful aggression initiated by the victim which must clearly be shown. 19
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated May 7, 2003 is
hereby AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
Quisumbing, J., Chairperson, Carpio, Carpio Morales, and Velasco, Jr., JJ., concur.
Footnotes
1
Rollo, pp. 18-23; Penned by Associate Justice Jose L. Sabio, Jr. and concurred in by Associate Justices B.A.
Adefuin-dela Cruz and Hakim S. Abdulwahid.
2
Id. at 25.
3
Records, p. 1.
4
Rollo, p. 19.
5
Id. at 317-319.
6
Id. at 319.
7
Rollo, p. 22.
8
TSN, June 21, 2000, p. 2.
9
TSN, April 12, 2000, pp. 2-3.
10
Id. at 4.
11
Rollo, pp. 7-16.
12
Id. at 64-74.
13
Id. at 80-82.
14
People v. Varona, 331 Phil. 3348, 354 (1996).
15
People v. Deopante, 331 Phil. 998, 1012 (1996).
16
TSN, July 10, 1998, pp. 5-12.
17
TSN, June 21, 2000, pp. 3-4.
18
Garcia v. People, G.R. No. 144699, March 10, 2004, 425 SCRA 221.
19
People v. Deopante, 331 Phil. 998 (1996).

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 156567
November 27, 2003

JOSE RIMANO, petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.
DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing the December 16,
2002 decision1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 17838 which modified the penalty imposed on
petitioner Jose Rimano for the crime of homicide in Criminal Case No. 3597 and frustrated homicide in
Criminal Case No. 3595.2
Petitioner was originally charged in three separate informations for the crimes of homicide and two counts
of frustrated homicide. Upon arraignment on September 7, 1992, he pleaded not guilty 3 to all the charges
against him. After trial, the court a quo found him guilty beyond reasonable doubt of homicide in Criminal
Case No. 3597 and of two counts of frustrated homicide in Criminal Case Nos. 3578 and 3595. On appeal
to the Court of Appeals, the latter acquitted petitioner in Criminal Case No. 3578 for frustrated homicide
and affirmed with modification his convictions in Criminal Case No. 3597 for homicide and in Criminal Case
No. 3595 for frustrated homicide. Hence, the instant petition refers to his conviction insofar as Criminal
Case No. 3597 and Criminal Case No. 3595 are concerned.
The information in Criminal Case No. 3597 for homicide, reads:
That on or about the 16th day of October 1991, in the evening, in Poblacion, Municipality of Malinao,
Province of Aklan, Republic of the Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above-named accused, while armed with a deadly weapon, consisting of a knife, without justifiable cause
and with intent to kill, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and stab one
NESTOR IMPORTADO, thereby inflicting upon the latter physical injuries, to wit:
Stabbed Wounds:
(a) Right chest with moderate hemathorax at two (02) points
(b) Right upper quadrant, left wrist two (02) points, right back at one (01) point, neck
Cause of Death:
Massive Hemorrhage due to multiple wound with penetration at the liver, gall bladder, small intestine at
many points, diaphragm right.
as per Post Operative Findings issued by Dr. Reynaldo P. Sucgang, Jr. M.D., Medical Specialist 1, of Dr.
Rafael S. Tumbokon Memorial Hospital, Kalibo, Aklan, attached hereto as annex "A" and made an integral
part of this information which injuries caused the death of said NESTOR IMPORTADO.
That as a consequence of the criminal acts of the accused, the heirs of the deceased NESTOR IMPORTADO
suffered actual and compensatory damages in the amount of FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (P50,000.00).
CONTRARY TO LAW.4
Criminal Case No. 3595 (frustrated homicide)
That on or about the 16th day of October 1991, in the evening, in Poblacion, Municipality of Malinao,
Province of Aklan, Republic of the Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above-named accused, while armed with a knife, with intent to kill, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully
and feloniously attack, assault and stab one ISAIAS IBARDOLASA, 5 JR., thereby inflicting upon the latter
physical injury, to wit:
Stabbed wound left back with massive hemathorax left.
as per Medico-Legal Report on Physical Injuries issued by Dr. Reynaldo P. Sucgang, Medical Specialist I of
the Dr. Rafael S. Tumbokon Memorial Hospital, Kalibo, Aklan, hereto attached and an integral part hereof,
the accused having thus performed all the acts of execution which would have produced the crime of
Homicide as a consequence, but which, nevertheless, did not produce it by reason of causes independent
of the will of the accused, that is, the timely and able medical assistance rendered to said ISAIAS
IBARDOLASA, JR., which prevented his death.
That by reason of the criminal acts of the accused, ISAIAS IBARDOLASA, JR., suffered actual and
compensatory damages in the amount of P20,000.00.
CONTRARY TO LAW.6
The facts as found by the Court of Appeals are as follows:
At around 8:30 in the evening of October 16, 1991, Nelson Importado, suddenly attacked petitioner with a
knife in front of a billiard hall at the corner of Sto. Rosario Street and Roxas Avenue, Malinao, Aklan. The
area was well illuminated by a fluorescent lamp. In the process of grappling for the possession of the knife,
petitioner was able to get hold thereof and stabbed Nelson twice. The latter retreated to the billiard hall, 8
meters away from petitioner.7Thereafter, Nestor Importado, brother of Nelson, rushed towards the
petitioner and boxed him, who retaliated by delivering successive stabbing blows which landed at the
frontal portion of Nestors body.8 At this point, Isaias Ibardalosa, Jr., tried to separate the two. When Nestor
turned his back, petitioner stabbed him. The former was able to flee while Isaias and the petitioner
wrestled. Shortly thereafter, they fell on the ground with Isaias on top of the petitioner. Petitioner was
facing up and pinned by Isaias on the shoulders. But since petitioners hands were free, he was able to
stab Isaias at the back. Then, petitioner scampered away towards Malinao Elementary School. 9 The
stabbing of Nestor and Isaias was witnessed by Froilan Sucro from the window of his house, 5 meters away
from the victims.10
Dr. Victor Sta. Maria, who interpreted the Post Operative Findings on the deceased Nestor Importado,
testified that the latter sustained six wounds,11 thus

(a) right chest with moderate hemathorax at two (2) points;


(b) right upper quadrant, left wrist two (02) points, right back at one (01) point, neck. 12
On the other hand, the Medico Legal Report states that Isaias Ibardalosa, Jr. sustained a single "stabbed
wound left back."13
Invoking self-defense, petitioner testified that at around 8:30 p.m. of October 16, 1991, he and some of his
students went to the police station of Malinao, Aklan, to report an assault on one of his baseball
players.14 On their way back to their sleeping quarters at Malinao Elementary School, they passed by a
group having a drinking spree in front of a billiard hall. Petitioners students were walking about 8 meters
ahead of him.15 He proceeded and saw a man standing in the middle of the road, whom he later learned
was the deceased Nestor Importado. Petitioner greeted Nestor, "Good evening, let us go to sleep
now."16 The latter did not answer. He noticed a knife in Nestors right hand. The latter suddenly rushed
towards him and tried to stab him. Petitioner, using both his hands, grabbed Nestors right hand and
placed Nestors arms on his shoulder with his back facing him. 17 While they were wrestling for the
possession of the knife, Nelson Importado,18 brother of Nestor, came and boxed petitioner in the
face.19 Nelson delivered another fist blow but he was accidentally stabbed by the knife which was still in
the hands of Nestor. Nelson fell but was able to stagger towards the billiard hall. 20 As petitioner and Nestor
struggled for the possession of the knife, Isaias Ibardalosa, Nestors compadre,21 boxed petitioner on the
right eye. At this instant, petitioner got hold of the knife and swung it 2 or 3 times hitting Nestor who was
behind him and pulled his collar.22 However, the knife was thrown away from his hand by Isaias. Petitioner
kicked Isaias but somebody hit him causing him to fall to the ground face up. 23 Isaias immediately pinned
him down,24 holding his two arms.25 While they were in that position, Nelson26 came back and delivered 2
stabbing blows. The first thrust hit Isaias who was on top of petitioner and the other one hit the ground.
Petitioner was able to free himself and he ran towards the Malinao Elementary School. 27 The next day, he
presented himself to the authorities at Camp Pastor Martelino in Kalibo, Aklan. 28
After trial on the merits, the trial court rendered a decision on November 23, 1994, the dispositive portion
thereof, reads:
WHEREFORE, the accused Jose Rimano is hereby sentenced in Criminal Case No. 3597 to suffer the penalty
of imprisonment for eight (8) YEARS and ONE day of prision mayor as minimum, to FOURTEEN (14) YEARS,
EIGHT (8) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of reclusion temporal as maximum, and to indemnify the heirs of the
victim Nestor Importado FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (P50,000.00), and to pay the costs.
The accused Jose Rimano is hereby sentenced in Criminal Case No. 3595 to suffer the penalty of
imprisonment for TWO (2) YEARS, FOUR MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional as minimum, to
EIGHT (8) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY of prision mayor as maximum, and to pay the victim Isaias Ibardalosa,
Jr., actual damage[s] in the amount of TWENTY-TWO THOUSAND, EIGHTY-EIGHT PESOS & TWENTY-EIGHT
CENTAVOS (P22, 088.28), and to pay the costs.
The accused Jose Rimano is hereby sentenced in Criminal Case No. 3578 to suffer the penalty of
imprisonment for TWO (2) YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional as minimum,
to EIGHT (8) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY of prision mayor as maximum, and to pay the costs.
SO ORDERED.29
On appeal, the Court of Appeals acquitted petitioner of frustrated homicide in Criminal No. 3578, after
finding that he acted in legitimate self-defense when he stabbed Nelson Importado. His convictions in
Criminal Case No. 3597 for homicide and in Criminal Case No. 3595 for frustrated homicide were, however,
affirmed with modification. The decretal portion thereof states:
WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered and pursuant to applicable laws and jurisprudence on the
matter and evidence on hand, the instant appeal is hereby partly granted. The assailed judgment is hereby
modified as follows:
In Criminal No. 3578, accused-appellant is hereby acquitted of the crime charged.
In Criminal Case No. 3595, accused-appellant Jose Rimanos prison term is reduced to six (6) MONTHS
of arresto mayor as minimum to TWO (2) years, FOUR (4) months and ONE (1) DAY of prision
correccional as maximum.
In Criminal Case No. 3597, appellants prison term is reduced to TWO (2) years, FOUR (4) MONTHS and
ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional as minimum to EIGHT (8) years and ONE (1) day of prision mayor as
maximum.
All other aspects of the decision are AFFIRMED. No Costs.
SO ORDERED.30
Hence, the instant petition based on the following assignment of errors:
A.
FOR CRIMINAL CASE NO. 3597, THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED A PALPABLE ERROR AND GRAVE
MISAPPREHENSION OF FACTS IN NOT LIKEWISE ACQUITTING PETITIONER OF THE CHARGE OF HOMICIDE
BECAUSE CONTRARY TO ITS FINDING, PETITIONER EMPLOYED REASONABLE MEANS TO REPEL THE
UNPROVOKED ATTACK AND UNLAWFUL AGGRESSION OF NESTOR IMPORTADO WHO WAS ARMED WITH A
BLADED WEAPON.
B.
FOR CRIMINAL CASE NO. 3595, THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED A PALPABLE ERROR AND GRAVE
MISAPPREHENSION OF FACTS IN NOT LIKEWISE ACQUITTING PETITIONER OF THE CHARGE OF FRUSTRATED
HOMICIDE BECAUSE CONTRARY TO ITS FINDING, PETITIONER EMPLOYED REASONABLE MEANS TO REPEL
THE UNPROVOKED ATTACK OF ISAIAS IBARDALOZA, JR. WHO JOINED THE UNRELENTING AND VICIOUS
ATTACK INITIATED BY THE IMPORTADO BROTHERS.
C.
ONLY ASSUMING ARGUENDO THAT PETITIONER MAY BE CREDITED WITH THE PRIVILEGED MITIGATING
CIRCUMSTANCE OF INCOMPLETE SELF-DEFENSE FOR CRIMINAL CASE NO. 3597, THE COURT OF APPEALS
COMMITTED A PALPABLE ERROR IN NOT REDUCING AND/OR LOWERING THE PENALTY BY TWO DEGREES
PURSUANT TO THE HONORABLE COURTS RULING IN TORRES VS. SANDIGANBAYAN, 143 SCRA 139, 145
[1986] WHICH IS APPLICABLE TO PETITIONER.

D.
ONLY ASSUMING ARGUENDO THAT PETITIONER MAY BE CREDITED WITH THE PRIVILEGED MITIGATING
CIRCUMSTANCE OF INCOMPLETE SELF-DEFENSE FOR CRIMINAL CASE NO. 3595, THE COURT OF APPEALS
COMMITTED A PALPABLE ERROR IN NOT REDUCING AND/OR LOWERING THE PENALTY BY TWO DEGREES
PURSUANT TO THE HONORABLE COURTS RULING IN TORRES VS. SANDIGANBAYAN, 143 SCRA 139, 145
[1986] WHICH IS APPLICABLE TO PETITIONER.31
When an accused pleads self-defense, he thereby admits authorship of the crime. Consequently, the
burden of proving his guilt, which lies upon the prosecution, is shifted to him. He must prove by clear and
convincing evidence the elements of self-defense, to wit: (1) unlawful aggression; (2) reasonable necessity
of the means employed to prevent or repel the unlawful aggression; and (3) lack of sufficient provocation
on the part of the person defending himself.32 Unlawful aggression is a condition sine qua non for
upholding the justifying circumstance of self-defense. Unless the victim has committed unlawful aggression
against the other, there can be no self-defense, complete or incomplete, on the part of the latter. If there is
nothing to prevent or repel, the other two requisites of self-defense will have no basis. 33
In the case at bar, we find no error in the findings of the Court of Appeals that unlawful aggression existed
and that the same came from the Importado brothers and Isaias Ibardalosa, Jr. Evidence shows that Nelson
Importado was the first to attack petitioner with a knife and that the latter was able to get hold of said
weapon which he used to repel the unlawful aggression of Nelson, Nestor and Isaias, who attacked him one
after the other. The assaults were not simultaneous, but successive, enabling petitioner to separately and
effectively repel the aggression of his unarmed attackers. The question, therefore, lies in the presence or
absence of the second and third requisites of self defense, i.e., the reasonable necessity of the means
employed by petitioner to protect his life and whether there was sufficient provocation on his part.
In Criminal Case No. 3597, for homicide, while the aggression came from Nestor Importado, the second
attacker, there was no necessity for petitioner to stab him 6 times, especially considering that the latter
was unarmed. Moreover, the stab wound at the back of the deceased which was delivered by petitioner
after the former already sustained wounds on his chest and abdomen cannot certainly be considered as
reasonably necessary. When Nestor turned his back, there was no more need to stab him because the
danger he posed had ceased.
As to the third requisite that the provocation must be sufficient, it should be proportionate to the
aggression and adequate to stir the aggressor to its commission. 34 To be entitled to self-defense, however,
the one defending himself must not have given cause for the aggression by his unjust conduct or by
inciting or provoking the aggressor.35
In the instant case, petitioners act of stabbing Nelson cannot be considered as sufficient provocation for
Nestor to avenge his brothers injuries. We note that in Criminal Case No. 3578, for frustrated homicide,
petitioner was acquitted by the Court of Appeals for stabbing Nelson because he was found to have acted
in legitimate self-defense. Under the contemplation of law, while petitioners act may indeed stir Nestor to
commit violence, the former should still be credited with the benefit of the third requisite because the
cause he gave arose from a just act to protect his life.
In Criminal Case No. 3595, for frustrated homicide, we sustain the finding of the court below that it was
petitioner and not Nelson Importado, as claimed by the defense, who stabbed Isaias Ibardalosa, Jr. This is
supported by the testimony of Froilan Sucro, whose declaration is entitled to full faith and credit inasmuch
as he was not shown to have been impelled by ill motive to perjure himself. 36 It cannot be denied, however,
that the unlawful aggression came from Isaias who, after intervening between Nestor and petitioner,
wrestled with the latter. As previously stated, Isaias pinned petitioner to the ground face up while holding
petitioners shoulders. While in this position, petitioner was able to free himself by delivering a single
stabbing blow at the back of Isaias. Under the circumstances, it is reasonable to conclude that petitioner
did not use unnecessary means to repel an ongoing attack. It would not be proper and reasonable to
require petitioner to flee or use a less deadly weapon or defense, because in the situation in which he was
placed, it was natural for him to use the weapon he was holding to defend himself. In the natural order of
things, following the instinct of self preservation, he was compelled to resort to the available defense. 37 In
emergencies of this kind, human nature does not act upon processes of formal reason but in obedience to
the instinct of self-preservation; and when it is apparent that a person has reasonably acted upon this
instinct, it is the duty of the courts to sanction that act or to mitigate his liability. 38
Anent the third requisite, we find that petitioner gave sufficient provocation for Isaias Ibardalosa, Jr. to
assault him. Contradistinguished to his act of stabbing Nelson Importado, which was justified and hence
cannot be considered as sufficient provocation insofar as his brother, Nestor, is concerned, petitioners act
of stabbing Nestor 6 times can no longer be considered justified or a legitimate self-defense because of the
unreasonable necessity of the means he employed. Inflicting 5 stab wounds at the frontal portion of
Nestors body and another one at the back before the latter fled can be considered as sufficient
provocation to cause Nestors friend, Isaias Ibardalosa, Jr., to intervene and thereafter wrestle with
petitioner. Hence, self-defense cannot successfully be raised to justify petitioners act of stabbing Isaias
Ibardalosa, Jr., because he gave the latter sufficient provocation to assault him. At the most, he could be
credited with the privileged mitigating circumstance of incomplete self-defense.1wphi1
Under Article 6939 of the Revised Penal Code, in order to avail of the privileged mitigating circumstance of
incomplete self-defense which at the discretion of the court, reduces the penalty by one or two degrees,
than that prescribed by law, appellant must prove the existence of a majority of the requisites for selfdefense.
In the case at bar, a majority of the requisites of the justifying circumstance of self-defense, including the
indispensable requisite of unlawful aggression on the part of the victims, are present in Criminal Cases
Nos. 3597 and 3595. Petitioner, a public elementary school teacher, was unsuspectingly walking along with
his students without the slightest inkling of an impending harm that would radically change the rest of his
life. While it is true that he may have over-reacted to the assault and in the process provoked another
attack, the fact remains that it was the unlawful aggression of the victims which set into motion the series
of events which brought upon themselves the injuries complained of. Under the circumstances, we deem it

proper to modify the penalties imposed by the Court of Appeals by lowering them by two degrees than that
prescribed by law.40
Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code provides that the penalty for homicide is reclusion temporal.
Considering that the requisites of unlawful aggression and lack of sufficient provocation on the part of
petitioner are present in Criminal Case No. 3597, he is entitled to a penalty two degrees lower
than reclusion temporal, that is, prision correccional. There being no modifying circumstances attendant in
the present case, the proper impossible penalty is prision correccional in its medium period.41 Applying the
indeterminate sentence law, petitioner is entitled to an indeterminate penalty the minimum of which shall
be within the range of arresto mayor, and the maximum of which shall be within the range of prision
correccional medium.
Pursuant to Article 5042 of the Revised Penal Code, the penalty for a frustrated crime is one degree lower
than that prescribed by law for the consummated felony; thus, frustrated homicide is punishable by prision
mayor. Since a majority of the requisites of self defense unlawful aggression and reasonable necessity of
the means employed are attendant in Criminal Case No. 3595 for frustrated homicide, petitioner is also
entitled to a penalty two degrees lower. 43 The imposable penalty on petitioner would therefore be arresto
mayor. The same shall be imposed in its medium period as there are no attendant modifying
circumstances.44 Since the maximum term of imprisonment does not exceed one year, the Indeterminate
Sentence Law does not apply.45
As regards his civil liability in Criminal Case No. 3597 for homicide, petitioner, in addition to the civil
indemnity of P50,000.00, should be further ordered to pay the heirs of the deceased Nestor Importado,
moral damages in the amount of P50,000.00 and temperate damages of P25,000.00 in lieu of actual
damages. As testified by Merly Importado, the widow of the deceased, she was shocked and mentally
tortured by the death of her husband.46Hence, the award of moral damages, which current jurisprudence
set at P50,000.00, is proper.47 To justify an award of actual damages, on the other hand, there must be
competent proof of the actual amount of loss. Credence can only be given to those that are supported by
receipts and appear to have been genuinely incurred in connection with the death, wake and burial of the
victim.48 Considering that the receipts presented by the prosecution do not show that the expenses stated
therein were really incurred in connection with the death and burial of the victim, the claim for actual
damages cannot be allowed. However, since it cannot be denied that the victims heirs suffered pecuniary
loss but the amount of which cannot be proved with certainty, temperate damages in the amount of
P25,000.00 may be awarded.49
In Criminal Case No. 3595, for frustrated homicide the award of P22,888.28 as actual damages is affirmed
considering that it was supported by receipts.
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the December 16, 2002 decision of the Court of Appeals in CAG.R. CR No. 17838 finding petitioner Jose Rimano guilty beyond reasonable doubt of homicide in Criminal
Case No. 3597, and of frustrated homicide in Criminal Case No. 3595, is AFFIRMED with the following
MODIFICATIONS: In Criminal Case No. 3597, petitioner is sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of
two (2) months and one (1) day of arresto mayor, as minimum, to two (2) years, four (4) months and one
(1) day of prision correccional, as maximum. In addition to the civil indemnity of P50,000.00, petitioner is
further ordered to pay the heirs of the deceased Nestor Importado, the amount of P50,000.00 as moral
damages and P25,000.00 as temperate damages. In Criminal Case No. 3595, petitioner is sentenced to
suffer the penalty of 4 months of arresto mayorand to pay the victim, Isaias Ibardalosa, Jr., the amount of
P22,888.28 as actual damages.
Costs de oficio.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Panganiban, Carpio and Azcuna, JJ., concur.
Footnotes
1
Rollo, p. 10; penned by Associate Justice Jose L. Sabio, Jr. and concurred in by Associate Justices Portia
Alino-Hormachuelos and Amelita G. Tolentino.
2
Decision dated 23 November 1994; penned by Judge Maria Carillo Zaldivar.
3
Criminal Case No. 3597, Records, p. 18; Criminal Case No. 3595, Records, p. 20; Criminal Case No. 3578,
Records, p. 26.
4
Criminal Case No. 3597, Records, p. 1.
5
Sometimes spelled as "Ibardaloza" in the records.
6
Criminal Case No. 3595, Records, p. 1.
7
TSN, 13 November 1992, p. 4.
8
Id., pp. 3-4.
9
TSN, 13 November 1992, pp. 5-6; 4 January 1994, pp. 5-8; 23 July 1993, pp. 11-13.
10
TSN, 4 January 1994, p. 5.
11
TSN, 21 June 1993, pp. 4-6.
12
Exhibit "G", Post Operative Findings.
13
Exhibit "F".
14
Id., pp. 140-141; 144-145.
15
Id., pp. 146-147.
16
Id., p. 148.
17
Id., pp. 148-151.
18
TSN, 30 August 1994, p. 28.
19
TSN, 29 August 1994, p. 153.
20
Id., pp. 153-154.
21
TSN, 23 July 1993, p. 4.
22
TSN, 29 August 1994, pp. 154-157.
23
TSN, 30 August 1994, pp. 2-3.
24
Id., p. 29.
25
Id., p. 4.

26

Id., p. 29.
Id., pp. 4-6.
28
Id., pp. 30-31.
29
Rollo, p. 93.
30
Rollo, pp. 69-70.
31
Rollo, pp. 38-40.
32
People v. Hugo, G.R. No. 134604, 28 August 2003.
33
People v. Escarlos, G.R. No. 148912, 10 September 2003, citing People v. Camacho, 411 Phil. 715
(2001); People v. Flores, G.R. No. 138841, 4 April 2001, 356 SCRA 332; People v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No.
103613, 23 February 2001, 352 SCRA 599; Calim v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 140065, 13 February 2001,
351 SCRA 599.
34
People v. Alconga, 78 Phil. 366 (1947), cited in Reyes, The Revised Penal Code, Vol. I, 1998 Edition, p.
180.
35
Reyes, The Revised Penal Code, Vol. I, 1998 Edition, p. 179.
36
People v. Garillo, G.R. No. 146189, 24 February 2003.
37
People v. Paras, 9 Phil. 367, 369-370 (1907).
38
People v. Viernes, 331 Phil. 146, 162 (1996), citing People of the Philippines v. Encomienda, G.R. No. L26750, 18 August 1972, 26 SCRA 522, 534; People v. Lara, 48 Phil. 153 (1925).
39
Art. 69. Penalty to be imposed when the crime committed is not wholly excusable. A penalty lower by
one or two degrees than that prescribed by law shall be imposed if the deed is not wholly excusable by
reason of the lack of some of the conditions required to justify the same or to exempt from criminal liability
in the several cases mentioned in Article 11 and 12, provided that the majority of such conditions be present.
27

The courts shall impose the penalty in the period which may be deemed proper, in view of the number and nature of
the conditions of exemption present or lacking.
40
People v. Bergao, 52 Phil. 313 (1928).
41
Article 64 (1), Revised Penal Code.
42

Art. 50. Penalty to be imposed upon principals of a frustrated crime. The penalty next lower in degree than that prescribed by
law for the consummated felony shall be imposed upon the principal in a frustrated felony.
43
Article 69, Revised Penal Code.
44
Article 64 (1), Revised Penal Code.
45
Act No. 4103, Sec. 2, as amended.
46
TSN, November 29, 1993, p. 23.
47
People v. Escarlos, G.R. No. 148912, 10 September 2003, citing People v. Villanueva, G.R. No. 139177, 11 August 2003; People v.
Ibaez, G.R. Nos. 133923-24, 30 July 2003.
48
People v. Reyes, G.R. No. 142467, 10 June 2003.
49
People v. Abrazaldo, G.R. No. 124392, 7 February 2003.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 135981
January 15, 2004
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee,
vs.
MARIVIC GENOSA, appellant.
DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:
Admitting she killed her husband, appellant anchors her prayer for acquittal on a novel theory -- the
"battered woman syndrome" (BWS), which allegedly constitutes self-defense. Under the proven facts,
however, she is not entitled to complete exoneration because there was no unlawful aggression -- no
immediate and unexpected attack on her by her batterer-husband at the time she shot him.
Absent unlawful aggression, there can be no self-defense, complete or incomplete.
But all is not lost. The severe beatings repeatedly inflicted on appellant constituted a form of cumulative
provocation that broke down her psychological resistance and self-control. This "psychological paralysis"
she suffered diminished her will power, thereby entitling her to the mitigating factor under paragraphs 9
and 10 of Article 13 of the Revised Penal Code.
In addition, appellant should also be credited with the extenuating circumstance of having acted upon an
impulse so powerful as to have naturally produced passion and obfuscation. The acute battering she
suffered that fatal night in the hands of her batterer-spouse, in spite of the fact that she was eight months
pregnant with their child, overwhelmed her and put her in the aforesaid emotional and mental state, which
overcame her reason and impelled her to vindicate her life and her unborn child's.
Considering the presence of these two mitigating circumstances arising from BWS, as well as the benefits
of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, she may now apply for and be released from custody on parole,
because she has already served the minimum period of her penalty while under detention during the
pendency of this case.
The Case
For automatic review before this Court is the September 25, 1998 Decision 1 of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Ormoc City (Branch 35) in Criminal Case No. 5016-0, finding Marivic Genosa guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of parricide. The decretal portion of the Decision reads:
"WHEREFORE, after all the foregoing being duly considered, the Court finds the accused, Marivic Genosa y
Isidro, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Parricide as provided under Article 246 of the
Revised Penal Code as restored by Sec. 5, RA No. 7659, and after finding treachery as a generic

aggravating circumstance and none of mitigating circumstance, hereby sentences the accused with the
penalty of DEATH.
"The Court likewise penalizes the accused to pay the heirs of the deceased the sum of fifty thousand pesos
(P50,000.00), Philippine currency as indemnity and another sum of fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00),
Philippine currency as moral damages."2
The Information3 charged appellant with parricide as follows:
"That on or about the 15th day of November 1995, at Barangay Bilwang, Municipality of Isabel, Province of
Leyte, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with
intent to kill, with treachery and evident premeditation, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and
feloniously attack, assault, hit and wound one BEN GENOSA, her legitimate husband, with the use of a hard
deadly weapon, which the accused had provided herself for the purpose, [causing] the following wounds,
to wit:
'Cadaveric spasm.
'Body on the 2nd stage of decomposition.
'Face, black, blownup & swollen w/ evident post-mortem lividity. Eyes protruding from its sockets and
tongue slightly protrudes out of the mouth.
'Fracture, open, depressed, circular located at the occipital bone of the head, resulting [in] laceration of the
brain, spontaneous rupture of the blood vessels on the posterior surface of the brain, laceration of the dura
and meningeal vessels producing severe intracranial hemorrhage.
'Blisters at both extrem[i]ties, anterior chest, posterior chest, trunk w/ shedding of the epidermis.
'Abdomen distended w/ gas. Trunk bloated.'
which caused his death."4
With the assistance of her counsel,5 appellant pleaded not guilty during her arraignment on March 3,
1997.6 In due course, she was tried for and convicted of parricide.
The Facts
Version of the Prosecution
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) summarizes the prosecution's version of the facts in this wise:
"Appellant and Ben Genosa were united in marriage on November 19, 1983 in Ormoc City. Thereafter, they
lived with the parents of Ben in their house at Isabel, Leyte. For a time, Ben's younger brother, Alex, and
his wife lived with them too. Sometime in 1995, however, appellant and Ben rented from Steban Matiga a
house at Barangay Bilwang, Isabel, Leyte where they lived with their two children, namely: John Marben
and Earl Pierre.
"On November 15, 1995, Ben and Arturo Basobas went to a cockfight after receiving their salary. They
each had two (2) bottles of beer before heading home. Arturo would pass Ben's house before reaching his.
When they arrived at the house of Ben, he found out that appellant had gone to Isabel, Leyte to look for
him. Ben went inside his house, while Arturo went to a store across it, waiting until 9:00 in the evening for
the masiaorunner to place a bet. Arturo did not see appellant arrive but on his way home passing the side
of the Genosas' rented house, he heard her say 'I won't hesitate to kill you' to which Ben replied 'Why kill
me when I am innocent?' That was the last time Arturo saw Ben alive. Arturo also noticed that since then,
the Genosas' rented house appeared uninhabited and was always closed.
"On November 16, 1995, appellant asked Erlinda Paderog, her close friend and neighbor living about fifty
(50) meters from her house, to look after her pig because she was going to Cebu for a pregnancy checkup. Appellant likewise asked Erlinda to sell her motorcycle to their neighbor Ronnie Dayandayan who
unfortunately had no money to buy it.
"That same day, about 12:15 in the afternoon, Joseph Valida was waiting for a bus going to Ormoc when he
saw appellant going out of their house with her two kids in tow, each one carrying a bag, locking the gate
and taking her children to the waiting area where he was. Joseph lived about fifty (50) meters behind the
Genosas' rented house. Joseph, appellant and her children rode the same bus to Ormoc. They had no
conversation as Joseph noticed that appellant did not want to talk to him.
"On November 18, 1995, the neighbors of Steban Matiga told him about the foul odor emanating from his
house being rented by Ben and appellant. Steban went there to find out the cause of the stench but the
house was locked from the inside. Since he did not have a duplicate key with him, Steban destroyed the
gate padlock with a borrowed steel saw. He was able to get inside through the kitchen door but only after
destroying a window to reach a hook that locked it. Alone, Steban went inside the unlocked bedroom where
the offensive smell was coming from. There, he saw the lifeless body of Ben lying on his side on the bed
covered with a blanket. He was only in his briefs with injuries at the back of his head. Seeing this, Steban
went out of the house and sent word to the mother of Ben about his son's misfortune. Later that day,
Iluminada Genosa, the mother of Ben, identified the dead body as that of [her] son.
"Meanwhile, in the morning of the same day, SPO3 Leo Acodesin, then assigned at the police station at
Isabel, Leyte, received a report regarding the foul smell at the Genosas' rented house. Together with SPO1
Millares, SPO1 Colon, and Dr. Refelina Cerillo, SPO3 Acodesin proceeded to the house and went inside the
bedroom where they found the dead body of Ben lying on his side wrapped with a bedsheet. There was
blood at the nape of Ben who only had his briefs on. SPO3 Acodesin found in one corner at the side of
anaparador a metal pipe about two (2) meters from where Ben was, leaning against a wall. The metal pipe
measured three (3) feet and six (6) inches long with a diameter of one and half (1 1/2) inches. It had an
open end without a stop valve with a red stain at one end. The bedroom was not in disarray.
"About 10:00 that same morning, the cadaver of Ben, because of its stench, had to be taken outside at the
back of the house before the postmortem examination was conducted by Dr. Cerillo in the presence of the
police. A municipal health officer at Isabel, Leyte responsible for medico-legal cases, Dr. Cerillo found that
Ben had been dead for two to three days and his body was already decomposing. The postmortem
examination of Dr. Cerillo yielded the findings quoted in the Information for parricide later filed against
appellant. She concluded that the cause of Ben's death was 'cardiopulmonary arrest secondary to severe
intracranial hemorrhage due to a depressed fracture of the occipital [bone].'

"Appellant admitted killing Ben. She testified that going home after work on November 15, 1995, she got
worried that her husband who was not home yet might have gone gambling since it was a payday. With
her cousin Ecel Arao, appellant went to look for Ben at the marketplace and taverns at Isabel, Leyte but
did not find him there. They found Ben drunk upon their return at the Genosas' house. Ecel went home
despite appellant's request for her to sleep in their house.
"Then, Ben purportedly nagged appellant for following him, even challenging her to a fight. She allegedly
ignored him and instead attended to their children who were doing their homework. Apparently
disappointed with her reaction, Ben switched off the light and, with the use of a chopping knife, cut the
television antenna or wire to keep her from watching television. According to appellant, Ben was about to
attack her so she ran to the bedroom, but he got hold of her hands and whirled her around. She fell on the
side of the bed and screamed for help. Ben left. At this point, appellant packed his clothes because she
wanted him to leave. Seeing his packed clothes upon his return home, Ben allegedly flew into a rage,
dragged appellant outside of the bedroom towards a drawer holding her by the neck, and told her 'You
might as well be killed so nobody would nag me.' Appellant testified that she was aware that there was a
gun inside the drawer but since Ben did not have the key to it, he got a three-inch long blade cutter from
his wallet. She however, 'smashed' the arm of Ben with a pipe, causing him to drop the blade and his
wallet. Appellant then 'smashed' Ben at his nape with the pipe as he was about to pick up the blade and
his wallet. She thereafter ran inside the bedroom.
"Appellant, however, insisted that she ended the life of her husband by shooting him. She supposedly
'distorted' the drawer where the gun was and shot Ben. He did not die on the spot, though, but in the
bedroom."7 (Citations omitted)
Version of the Defense
Appellant relates her version of the facts in this manner:
"1. Marivic and Ben Genosa were allegedly married on November 19, 1983. Prior to her marriage, Marivic
had graduated from San Carlos, Cebu City, obtaining a degree of Bachelor of Science in Business
Administration, and was working, at the time of her husband's death, as a Secretary to the Port Managers
in Ormoc City. The couple had three (3) children: John Marben, Earl Pierre and Marie Bianca.
"2. Marivic and Ben had known each other since elementary school; they were neighbors in Bilwang; they
were classmates; and they were third degree cousins. Both sets of parents were against their relationship,
but Ben was persistent and tried to stop other suitors from courting her. Their closeness developed as he
was her constant partner at fiestas.
"3. After their marriage, they lived first in the home of Ben's parents, together with Ben's brother, Alex, in
Isabel, Leyte. In the first year of marriage, Marivic and Ben 'lived happily'. But apparently, soon thereafter,
the couple would quarrel often and their fights would become violent.
"4. Ben's brother, Alex, testified for the prosecution that he could not remember when Ben and Marivic
married. He said that when Ben and Marivic quarreled, generally when Ben would come home drunk,
Marivic would inflict injuries on him. He said that in one incident in 1993 he saw Marivic holding a kitchen
knife after Ben had shouted for help as his left hand was covered with blood. Marivic left the house but
after a week, she returned apparently having asked for Ben's forgiveness. In another incident in May 22,
1994, early morning, Alex and his father apparently rushed to Ben's aid again and saw blood from Ben's
forehead and Marivic holding an empty bottle. Ben and Marivic reconciled after Marivic had apparently
again asked for Ben's forgiveness.
"Mrs. Iluminada Genosa, Marivic's mother-in-law, testified too, saying that Ben and Marivic married in
'1986 or 1985 more or less here in Fatima, Ormoc City.' She said as the marriage went along, Marivic
became 'already very demanding. Mrs. Iluminada Genosa said that after the birth of Marivic's two sons,
there were 'three (3) misunderstandings.' The first was when Marivic stabbed Ben with a table knife
through his left arm; the second incident was on November 15, 1994, when Marivic struck Ben on the
forehead 'using a sharp instrument until the eye was also affected. It was wounded and also the ear' and
her husband went to Ben to help; and the third incident was in 1995 when the couple had already
transferred to the house in Bilwang and she saw that Ben's hand was plastered as 'the bone cracked.'
"Both mother and son claimed they brought Ben to a Pasar clinic for medical intervention.
"5. Arturo Basobas, a co-worker of Ben, testified that on November 15, 1995 'After we collected our salary,
we went to the cock-fighting place of ISCO.' They stayed there for three (3) hours, after which they went to
'Uniloks' and drank beer allegedly only two (2) bottles each. After drinking they bought barbeque and
went to the Genosa residence. Marivic was not there. He stayed a while talking with Ben, after which he
went across the road to wait 'for the runner and the usher of the masiao game because during that time,
the hearing on masiao numbers was rampant. I was waiting for the ushers and runners so that I can place
my bet.' On his way home at about 9:00 in the evening, he heard the Genosas arguing. They were
quarreling loudly. Outside their house was one 'Fredo' who is used by Ben to feed his fighting cocks.
Basobas' testimony on the root of the quarrel, conveniently overheard by him was Marivic saying 'I will
never hesitate to kill you', whilst Ben replied 'Why kill me when I am innocent.' Basobas thought they were
joking.
"He did not hear them quarreling while he was across the road from the Genosa residence. Basobas
admitted that he and Ben were always at the cockpits every Saturday and Sunday. He claims that he once
told Ben 'before when he was stricken with a bottle by Marivic Genosa' that he should leave her and that
Ben would always take her back after she would leave him 'so many times'.
"Basobas could not remember when Marivic had hit Ben, but it was a long time that they had been
quarreling. He said Ben 'even had a wound' on the right forehead. He had known the couple for only one
(1) year.
"6. Marivic testified that after the first year of marriage, Ben became cruel to her and was a habitual
drinker. She said he provoked her, he would slap her, sometimes he would pin her down on the bed, and
sometimes beat her.
"These incidents happened several times and she would often run home to her parents, but Ben would
follow her and seek her out, promising to change and would ask for her forgiveness. She said after she

would be beaten, she would seek medical help from Dr. Dino Caing, Dr. Lucero and Dra. Cerillo. These
doctors would enter the injuries inflicted upon her by Ben into their reports. Marivic said Ben would beat
her or quarrel with her every time he was drunk, at least three times a week.
"7. In her defense, witnesses who were not so closely related to Marivic, testified as to the abuse and
violence she received at the hands of Ben.
'7.1. Mr. Joe Barrientos, a fisherman, who was a [neighbor] of the Genosas, testified that on November 15,
1995, he overheard a quarrel between Ben and Marivic. Marivic was shouting for help and through the
open jalousies, he saw the spouses 'grappling with each other'. Ben had Marivic in a choke hold. He did not
do anything, but had come voluntarily to testify. (Please note this was the same night as that testified to
by Arturo Busabos.8)
'7.2. Mr. Junnie Barrientos, also a fisherman, and the brother of Mr. Joe Barrientos, testified that he heard
his neighbor Marivic shouting on the night of November 15, 1995. He peeped through the window of his
hut which is located beside the Genosa house and saw 'the spouses grappling with each other then Ben
Genosa was holding with his both hands the neck of the accused, Marivic Genosa'. He said after a while,
Marivic was able to extricate he[r]self and enter the room of the children. After that, he went back to work
as he was to go fishing that evening. He returned at 8:00 the next morning. (Again, please note that this
was the same night as that testified to by Arturo Basobas).
'7.3. Mr. Teodoro Sarabia was a former neighbor of the Genosas while they were living in Isabel, Leyte. His
house was located about fifty (50) meters from theirs. Marivic is his niece and he knew them to be living
together for 13 or 14 years. He said the couple was always quarreling. Marivic confided in him that Ben
would pawn items and then would use the money to gamble. One time, he went to their house and they
were quarreling. Ben was so angry, but would be pacified 'if somebody would come.' He testified that while
Ben was alive 'he used to gamble and when he became drunk, he would go to our house and he will say,
'Teody' because that was what he used to call me, 'mokimas ta,' which means 'let's go and look for a
whore.' Mr. Sarabia further testified that Ben 'would box his wife and I would see bruises and one time she
ran to me, I noticed a wound (the witness pointed to his right breast) as according to her a knife was
stricken to her.' Mr. Sarabia also said that once he saw Ben had been injured too. He said he voluntarily
testified only that morning.
'7.4. Miss Ecel Arano, an 18-year old student, who is a cousin of Marivic, testified that in the afternoon of
November 15, 1995, Marivic went to her house and asked her help to look for Ben. They searched in the
market place, several taverns and some other places, but could not find him. She accompanied Marivic
home. Marivic wanted her to sleep with her in the Genosa house 'because she might be battered by her
husband.' When they got to the Genosa house at about 7:00 in the evening, Miss Arano said that 'her
husband was already there and was drunk.' Miss Arano knew he was drunk 'because of his staggering
walking and I can also detect his face.' Marivic entered the house and she heard them quarrel noisily.
(Again, please note that this is the same night as that testified to by Arturo Basobas) Miss Arano testified
that this was not the first time Marivic had asked her to sleep in the house as Marivic would be afraid every
time her husband would come home drunk. At one time when she did sleep over, she was awakened at
10:00 in the evening when Ben arrived because the couple 'were very noisy in the sala and I had heard
something was broken like a vase.' She said Marivic ran into her room and they locked the door. When Ben
couldn't get in he got a chair and a knife and 'showed us the knife through the window grill and he scared
us.' She said that Marivic shouted for help, but no one came. On cross-examination, she said that when she
left Marivic's house on November 15, 1995, the couple were still quarreling.
'7.5. Dr. Dino Caing, a physician testified that he and Marivic were co-employees at PHILPHOS, Isabel,
Leyte. Marivic was his patient 'many times' and had also received treatment from other doctors. Dr. Caing
testified that from July 6, 1989 until November 9, 1995, there were six (6) episodes of physical injuries
inflicted upon Marivic. These injuries were reported in his Out-Patient Chart at the PHILPHOS Hospital. The
prosecution admitted the qualifications of Dr. Caing and considered him an expert witness.'
xxx
xxx
xxx
'Dr. Caing's clinical history of the tension headache and hypertention of Marivic on twenty-three (23)
separate occasions was marked at Exhibits '2' and '2-B.' The OPD Chart of Marivic at the Philphos Clinic
which reflected all the consultations made by Marivic and the six (6) incidents of physical injuries
reportedwas marked as Exhibit '3.'
"On cross-examination, Dr. Caing said that he is not a psychiatrist, he could not say whether the injuries
were directly related to the crime committed. He said it is only a psychiatrist who is qualified to examine
the psychological make-up of the patient, 'whether she is capable of committing a crime or not.'
'7.6 Mr. Panfilo Tero, the barangay captain in the place where the Genosas resided, testified that about two
(2) months before Ben died, Marivic went to his office past 8:00 in the evening. She sought his help to
settle or confront the Genosa couple who were experiencing 'family troubles'. He told Marivic to return in
the morning, but he did not hear from her again and assumed 'that they might have settled with each
other or they might have forgiven with each other.'
xxx
xxx
xxx
"Marivic said she did not provoke her husband when she got home that night it was her husband who
began the provocation. Marivic said she was frightened that her husband would hurt her and she wanted
to make sure she would deliver her baby safely. In fact, Marivic had to be admitted later at the Rizal
Medical Centre as she was suffering from eclampsia and hypertension, and the baby was born prematurely
on December 1, 1995.
"Marivic testified that during her marriage she had tried to leave her husband at least five (5) times, but
that Ben would always follow her and they would reconcile. Marivic said that the reason why Ben was
violent and abusive towards her that night was because 'he was crazy about his recent girlfriend, Lulu x x x
Rubillos.'
"On cross-examination, Marivic insisted she shot Ben with a gun; she said that he died in the bedroom;
that their quarrels could be heard by anyone passing their house; that Basobas lied in his testimony; that
she left for Manila the next day, November 16, 1995; that she did not bother anyone in Manila, rented

herself a room, and got herself a job as a field researcher under the alias 'Marvelous Isidro'; she did not tell
anyone that she was leaving Leyte, she just wanted to have a safe delivery of her baby; and that she was
arrested in San Pablo, Laguna.
'Answering questions from the Court, Marivic said that she threw the gun away; that she did not know what
happened to the pipe she used to 'smash him once'; that she was wounded by Ben on her wrist with the
bolo; and that two (2) hours after she was 'whirled' by Ben, he kicked her 'ass' and dragged her towards
the drawer when he saw that she had packed his things.'
"9. The body of Ben Genosa was found on November 18, 1995 after an investigation was made of the foul
odor emitting from the Genosa residence. This fact was testified to by all the prosecution witnesses and
some defense witnesses during the trial.
"10. Dra. Refelina Y. Cerillo, a physician, was the Municipal Health Officer of Isabel, Leyte at the time of the
incident, and among her responsibilities as such was to take charge of all medico-legal cases, such as the
examination of cadavers and the autopsy of cadavers. Dra. Cerillo is not a forensic pathologist. She merely
took the medical board exams and passed in 1986. She was called by the police to go to the Genosa
residence and when she got there, she saw 'some police officer and neighbor around.' She saw Ben
Genosa, covered by a blanket, lying in a semi-prone position with his back to the door. He was wearing
only a brief.
xxxxxxxxx
"Dra. Cerillo said that 'there is only one injury and that is the injury involving the skeletal area of the head'
which she described as a 'fracture'. And that based on her examination, Ben had been dead 2 or 3 days.
Dra. Cerillo did not testify as to what caused his death.
"Dra. Cerillo was not cross-examined by defense counsel.
"11. The Information, dated November 14, 1996, filed against Marivic Genosa charged her with the crime
of PARRICIDE committed 'with intent to kill, with treachery and evidence premeditation, x x x wilfully,
unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault, hit and wound x x x her legitimate husband, with the use of a
hard deadly weapon x x x which caused his death.'
"12. Trial took place on 7 and 14 April 1997, 14 May 1997, 21 July 1997, 17, 22 and 23 September 1997, 12
November 1997, 15 and 16 December 1997, 22 May 1998, and 5 and 6 August 1998.
"13. On 23 September 1998, or only fifty (50) days from the day of the last trial date, the Hon. Fortunito L.
Madrona, Presiding Judge, RTC-Branch 35, Ormoc City, rendered a JUDGMENT finding Marivic guilty 'beyond
reasonable doubt' of the crime of parricide, and further found treachery as an aggravating circumstance,
thus sentencing her to the ultimate penalty of DEATH.
"14. The case was elevated to this Honorable Court upon automatic review and, under date of 24 January
2000, Marivic's trial lawyer, Atty. Gil Marvel P. Tabucanon, filed a Motion to Withdraw as counsel, attaching
thereto, as a precautionary measure, two (2) drafts of Appellant's Briefs he had prepared for Marivic which,
for reasons of her own, were not conformed to by her.
"The Honorable Court allowed the withdrawal of Atty. Tabucanon and permitted the entry of appearance of
undersigned counsel.
"15. Without the knowledge of counsel, Marivic Genosa wrote a letter dated 20 January 2000, to the Chief
Justice, coursing the same through Atty. Teresita G. Dimaisip, Deputy Clerk of Court of Chief Judicial
Records Office, wherein she submitted her 'Brief without counsels' to the Court.
"This letter was stamp-received by the Honorable Court on 4 February 2000.
"16. In the meantime, under date of 17 February 2000, and stamp-received by the Honorable Court on 19
February 2000, undersigned counsel filed an URGENT OMNIBUS MOTION praying that the Honorable Court
allow the exhumation of Ben Genosa and the re-examination of the cause of his death; allow the
examination of Marivic Genosa by qualified psychologists and psychiatrists to determine her state of mind
at the time she killed her husband; and finally, to allow a partial re-opening of the case a quo to take the
testimony of said psychologists and psychiatrists.
"Attached to the URGENT OMNIBUS MOTION was a letter of Dr. Raquel Fortun, then the only qualified
forensic pathologist in the country, who opined that the description of the death wound (as culled from the
post-mortem findings, Exhibit 'A') is more akin to a gunshot wound than a beating with a lead pipe.
"17. In a RESOLUTION dated 29 September 2000, the Honorable Court partly granted Marivic's URGENT
OMNIBUS MOTION and remanded the case 'to the trial court for the reception of expert psychological
and/or psychiatric opinion on the 'battered woman syndrome' plea, within ninety (90) days from notice,
and, thereafter to forthwith report to this Court the proceedings taken, together with the copies of the TSN
and relevant documentary evidence, if any, submitted.'
"18. On 15 January 2001, Dra. Natividad A. Dayan appeared and testified before the Hon. Fortunito L.
Madrona, RTC-Branch 35, Ormoc City.
"Immediately before Dra. Dayan was sworn, the Court a quo asked if she had interviewed Marivic Genosa.
Dra. Dayan informed the Court that interviews were done at the Penal Institution in 1999, but that the
clinical interviews and psychological assessment were done at her clinic.
"Dra. Dayan testified that she has been a clinical psychologist for twenty (20) years with her own private
clinic and connected presently to the De La Salle University as a professor. Before this, she was the Head
of the Psychology Department of the Assumption College; a member of the faculty of Psychology at the
Ateneo de Manila University and St. Joseph's College; and was the counseling psychologist of the National
Defense College. She has an AB in Psychology from the University of the Philippines, a Master of Arts in
Clinical [Counseling], Psychology from the Ateneo, and a PhD from the U.P. She was the past president of
the Psychological Association of the Philippines and is a member of the American Psychological
Association. She is the secretary of the International Council of Psychologists from about 68 countries; a
member of the Forensic Psychology Association; and a member of the ASEAN [Counseling] Association. She
is actively involved with the Philippine Judicial Academy, recently lecturing on the socio-demographic and
psychological profile of families involved in domestic violence and nullity cases. She was with the Davide
Commission doing research about Military Psychology. She has written a book entitled 'Energy Global

Psychology' (together with Drs. Allan Tan and Allan Bernardo). The Genosa case is the first time she has
testified as an expert on battered women as this is the first case of that nature.
"Dra. Dayan testified that for the research she conducted, on the socio-demographic and psychological
profile of families involved in domestic violence, and nullity cases, she looked at about 500 cases over a
period of ten (10) years and discovered that 'there are lots of variables that cause all of this marital
conflicts, from domestic violence to infidelity, to psychiatric disorder.'
"Dra. Dayan described domestic violence to comprise of 'a lot of incidents of psychological abuse, verbal
abuse, and emotional abuse to physical abuse and also sexual abuse.'
xxx
xxx
xxx
"Dra. Dayan testified that in her studies, 'the battered woman usually has a very low opinion of herself. She
has a self-defeating and self-sacrificing characteristics. x x x they usually think very lowly of themselves
and so when the violence would happen, they usually think that they provoke it, that they were the one
who precipitated the violence, they provoke their spouse to be physically, verbally and even sexually
abusive to them.' Dra. Dayan said that usually a battered x x x comes from a dysfunctional family or from
'broken homes.'
"Dra. Dayan said that the batterer, just like the battered woman, 'also has a very low opinion of himself.
But then emerges to have superiority complex and it comes out as being very arrogant, very hostile, very
aggressive and very angry. They also had (sic) a very low tolerance for frustrations. A lot of times they are
involved in vices like gambling, drinking and drugs. And they become violent.' The batterer also usually
comes from a dysfunctional family which over-pampers them and makes them feel entitled to do anything.
Also, they see often how their parents abused each other so 'there is a lot of modeling of aggression in the
family.'
"Dra. Dayan testified that there are a lot of reasons why a battered woman does not leave her husband:
poverty, self-blame and guilt that she provoked the violence, the cycle itself which makes her hope her
husband will change, the belief in her obligations to keep the family intact at all costs for the sake of the
children.
xxx
xxx
xxx
"Dra. Dayan said that abused wives react differently to the violence: some leave the house, or lock
themselves in another room, or sometimes try to fight back triggering 'physical violence on both of them.'
She said that in a 'normal marital relationship,' abuses also happen, but these are 'not consistent, not
chronic, are not happening day in [and] day out.' In an 'abnormal marital relationship,' the abuse occurs
day in and day out, is long lasting and 'even would cause hospitalization on the victim and even death on
the victim.'
xxx
xxx
xxx
"Dra. Dayan said that as a result of the battery of psychological tests she administered, it was her opinion
that Marivic fits the profile of a battered woman because 'inspite of her feeling of self-confidence which we
can see at times there are really feeling (sic) of loss, such feelings of humiliation which she sees herself as
damaged and as a broken person. And at the same time she still has the imprint of all the abuses that she
had experienced in the past.'
xxx
xxx
xxx
"Dra. Dayan said Marivic thought of herself as a loving wife and did not even consider filing for nullity or
legal separation inspite of the abuses. It was at the time of the tragedy that Marivic then thought of herself
as a victim.
xxx
xxx
xxx
"19. On 9 February 2001, Dr. Alfredo Pajarillo, a physician, who has since passed away, appeared and
testified before RTC-Branch 35, Ormoc City.
"Dr. Pajarillo was a Diplomate of the Philippine Board of Psychiatry; a Fellow of the Philippine Board of
Psychiatry and a Fellow of the Philippine Psychiatry Association. He was in the practice of psychiatry for
thirty-eight (38) years. Prior to being in private practice, he was connected with the Veterans Memorial
Medical Centre where he gained his training on psychiatry and neurology. After that, he was called to
active duty in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, assigned to the V. Luna Medical Center for twenty six
(26) years. Prior to his retirement from government service, he obtained the rank of Brigadier General. He
obtained his medical degree from the University of Santo Tomas. He was also a member of the World
Association of Military Surgeons; the Quezon City Medical Society; the Cagayan Medical Society; and the
Philippine Association of Military Surgeons.
"He authored 'The Comparative Analysis of Nervous Breakdown in the Philippine Military Academy from the
Period 1954 1978' which was presented twice in international congresses. He also authored 'The Mental
Health of the Armed Forces of the Philippines 2000', which was likewise published internationally and
locally. He had a medical textbook published on the use of Prasepam on a Parke-Davis grant; was the first
to use Enanthate (siquiline), on an E.R. Squibb grant; and he published the use of the drug Zopiclom in
1985-86.
"Dr. Pajarillo explained that psychiatry deals with the functional disorder of the mind and neurology deals
with the ailment of the brain and spinal cord enlarged. Psychology, on the other hand, is a bachelor degree
and a doctorate degree; while one has to finish medicine to become a specialist in psychiatry.
"Even only in his 7th year as a resident in V. Luna Medical Centre, Dr. Pajarillo had already encountered a
suit involving violent family relations, and testified in a case in 1964. In the Armed Forces of the
Philippines, violent family disputes abound, and he has seen probably ten to twenty thousand cases. In
those days, the primordial intention of therapy was reconciliation. As a result of his experience with
domestic violence cases, he became a consultant of the Battered Woman Office in Quezon City under Atty.
Nenita Deproza.
"As such consultant, he had seen around forty (40) cases of severe domestic violence, where there is
physical abuse: such as slapping, pushing, verbal abuse, battering and boxing a woman even to an
unconscious state such that the woman is sometimes confined. The affliction of Post-Traumatic Stress
Disorder 'depends on the vulnerability of the victim.' Dr. Pajarillo said that if the victim is not very healthy,

perhaps one episode of violence may induce the disorder; if the psychological stamina and physiologic
constitutional stamina of the victim is stronger, 'it will take more repetitive trauma to precipitate the posttraumatic stress disorder and this x x x is very dangerous.'
"In psychiatry, the post-traumatic stress disorder is incorporated under the 'anxiety neurosis or neurologic
anxcietism.' It is produced by 'overwhelming brutality, trauma.'
xxx
xxx
xxx
"Dr. Pajarillo explained that with 'neurotic anxiety', the victim relives the beating or trauma as if it were
real, although she is not actually being beaten at that time. She thinks 'of nothing but the suffering.'
xxx
xxx
xxx
"A woman who suffers battery has a tendency to become neurotic, her emotional tone is unstable, and she
is irritable and restless. She tends to become hard-headed and persistent. She has higher sensitivity and
her 'self-world' is damaged.
"Dr. Pajarillo said that an abnormal family background relates to an individual's illness, such as the
deprivation of the continuous care and love of the parents. As to the batterer, he normally 'internalizes
what is around him within the environment.' And it becomes his own personality. He is very competitive; he
is aiming high all the time; he is so macho; he shows his strong faade 'but in it there are doubts in himself
and prone to act without thinking.'
xxx
xxx
xxx
"Dr. Pajarillo emphasized that 'even though without the presence of the precipator (sic) or the one who
administered the battering, that re-experiencing of the trauma occurred (sic) because the individual cannot
control it. It will just come up in her mind or in his mind.'
xxx
xxx
xxx
"Dr. Pajarillo said that a woman suffering post traumatic stress disorder try to defend themselves, and
'primarily with knives. Usually pointed weapons or any weapon that is available in the immediate
surrounding or in a hospital x x x because that abound in the household.' He said a victim resorts to
weapons when she has 'reached the lowest rock bottom of her life and there is no other recourse left on
her but to act decisively.'
xxx
xxx
xxx
"Dr. Pajarillo testified that he met Marivic Genosa in his office in an interview he conducted for two (2)
hours and seventeen (17) minutes. He used the psychological evaluation and social case studies as a help
in forming his diagnosis. He came out with a Psychiatric Report, dated 22 January 2001.
xxx
xxx
xxx
"On cross-examination by the private prosecutor, Dr. Pajarillo said that at the time she killed her husband
Marivic'c mental condition was that she was 're-experiencing the trauma.' He said 'that we are trying to
explain scientifically that the re-experiencing of the trauma is not controlled by Marivic. It will just come in
flashes and probably at that point in time that things happened when the re-experiencing of the trauma
flashed in her mind.' At the time he interviewed Marivic 'she was more subdued, she was not super alert
anymore x x x she is mentally stress (sic) because of the predicament she is involved.'
xxx
xxx
xxx
"20. No rebuttal evidence or testimony was presented by either the private or the public prosecutor. Thus,
in accord with the Resolution of this Honorable Court, the records of the partially re-opened trial
a quo were elevated."9
Ruling of the Trial Court
Finding the proffered theory of self-defense untenable, the RTC gave credence to the prosecution evidence
that appellant had killed the deceased while he was in bed sleeping. Further, the trial court appreciated
the generic aggravating circumstance of treachery, because Ben Genosa was supposedly defenseless
when he was killed -- lying in bed asleep when Marivic smashed him with a pipe at the back of his head.
The capital penalty having been imposed, the case was elevated to this Court for automatic review.
Supervening Circumstances
On February 19, 2000, appellant filed an Urgent Omnibus Motion praying that this Court allow (1) the
exhumation of Ben Genosa and the reexamination of the cause of his death; (2) the examination of
appellant by qualified psychologists and psychiatrists to determine her state of mind at the time she had
killed her spouse; and (3) the inclusion of the said experts' reports in the records of the case for purposes
of the automatic review or, in the alternative, a partial reopening of the case for the lower court to admit
the experts' testimonies.
On September 29, 2000, this Court issued a Resolution granting in part appellant's Motion, remanding the
case to the trial court for the reception of expert psychological and/or psychiatric opinion on the "battered
woman syndrome" plea; and requiring the lower court to report thereafter to this Court the proceedings
taken as well as to submit copies of the TSN and additional evidence, if any.
Acting on the Court's Resolution, the trial judge authorized the examination of Marivic by two clinical
psychologists, Drs. Natividad Dayan10 and Alfredo Pajarillo,11 supposedly experts on domestic violence.
Their testimonies, along with their documentary evidence, were then presented to and admitted by the
lower court before finally being submitted to this Court to form part of the records of the case. 12
The Issues
Appellant assigns the following alleged errors of the trial court for this Court's consideration:
"1. The trial court gravely erred in promulgating an obviously hasty decision without reflecting on the
evidence adduced as to self-defense.
"2. The trial court gravely erred in finding as a fact that Ben and Marivic Genosa were legally married and
that she was therefore liable for parricide.
"3. The trial court gravely erred finding the cause of death to be by beating with a pipe.
"4. The trial court gravely erred in ignoring and disregarding evidence adduced from impartial and
unbiased witnesses that Ben Genosa was a drunk, a gambler, a womanizer and wife-beater; and further
gravely erred in concluding that Ben Genosa was a battered husband.
"5. The trial court gravely erred in not requiring testimony from the children of Marivic Genosa.

"6. The trial court gravely erred in concluding that Marivic's flight to Manila and her subsequent apologies
were indicia of guilt, instead of a clear attempt to save the life of her unborn child.
"7. The trial court gravely erred in concluding that there was an aggravating circumstance of treachery.
"8. The trial court gravely erred in refusing to re-evaluate the traditional elements in determining the
existence of self-defense and defense of foetus in this case, thereby erroneously convicting Marivic Genosa
of the crime of parricide and condemning her to the ultimate penalty of death." 13
In the main, the following are the essential legal issues: (1) whether appellant acted in self-defense and in
defense of her fetus; and (2) whether treachery attended the killing of Ben Genosa.
The Court's Ruling
The appeal is partly meritorious.
Collateral Factual Issues
The first six assigned errors raised by appellant are factual in nature, if not collateral to the resolution of
the principal issues. As consistently held by this Court, the findings of the trial court on the credibility of
witnesses and their testimonies are entitled to a high degree of respect and will not be disturbed on appeal
in the absence of any showing that the trial judge gravely abused his discretion or overlooked,
misunderstood or misapplied material facts or circumstances of weight and substance that could affect the
outcome of the case.14
In appellant's first six assigned items, we find no grave abuse of discretion, reversible error or
misappreciation of material facts that would reverse or modify the trial court's disposition of the case. In
any event, we will now briefly dispose of these alleged errors of the trial court.
First, we do not agree that the lower court promulgated "an obviously hasty decision without reflecting on
the evidence adduced as to self-defense." We note that in his 17-page Decision, Judge Fortunito L. Madrona
summarized the testimonies of both the prosecution and the defense witnesses and -- on the basis of
those and of the documentary evidence on record -- made his evaluation, findings and conclusions. He
wrote a 3-page discourse assessing the testimony and the self-defense theory of the accused. While she,
or even this Court, may not agree with the trial judge's conclusions, we cannot peremptorily conclude,
absent substantial evidence, that he failed to reflect on the evidence presented.
Neither do we find the appealed Decision to have been made in an "obviously hasty" manner. The
Information had been filed with the lower court on November 14, 1996. Thereafter, trial began and at least
13 hearings were held for over a year. It took the trial judge about two months from the conclusion of trial
to promulgate his judgment. That he conducted the trial and resolved the case with dispatch should not be
taken against him, much less used to condemn him for being unduly hasty. If at all, the dispatch with which
he handled the case should be lauded. In any case, we find his actions in substantial compliance with his
constitutional obligation.15
Second, the lower court did not err in finding as a fact that Ben Genosa and appellant had been legally
married, despite the non-presentation of their marriage contract. In People v. Malabago,16 this Court held:
"The key element in parricide is the relationship of the offender with the victim. In the case of parricide of a
spouse, the best proof of the relationship between the accused and the deceased is the marriage
certificate. In the absence of a marriage certificate, however, oral evidence of the fact of marriage may be
considered by the trial court if such proof is not objected to."
Two of the prosecution witnesses -- namely, the mother and the brother of appellant's deceased spouse -attested in court that Ben had been married to Marivic.17 The defense raised no objection to these
testimonies. Moreover, during her direct examination, appellant herself made a judicial admission of her
marriage to Ben.18Axiomatic is the rule that a judicial admission is conclusive upon the party making it,
except only when there is a showing that (1) the admission was made through a palpable mistake, or (2)
no admission was in fact made.19Other than merely attacking the non-presentation of the marriage
contract, the defense offered no proof that the admission made by appellant in court as to the fact of her
marriage to the deceased was made through a palpable mistake.
Third, under the circumstances of this case, the specific or direct cause of Ben's death -- whether by a
gunshot or by beating with a pipe -- has no legal consequence. As the Court elucidated in its September
29, 2000 Resolution, "[c]onsidering that the appellant has admitted the fact of killing her husband and the
acts of hitting his nape with a metal pipe and of shooting him at the back of his head, the Court believes
that exhumation is unnecessary, if not immaterial, to determine which of said acts actually caused the
victim's death." Determining which of these admitted acts caused the death is not dispositive of the guilt
or defense of appellant.
Fourth, we cannot fault the trial court for not fully appreciating evidence that Ben was a drunk, gambler,
womanizer and wife-beater. Until this case came to us for automatic review, appellant had not raised the
novel defense of "battered woman syndrome," for which such evidence may have been relevant. Her
theory of self-defense was then the crucial issue before the trial court. As will be discussed shortly, the
legal requisites of self-defense under prevailing jurisprudence ostensibly appear inconsistent with the
surrounding facts that led to the death of the victim. Hence, his personal character, especially his past
behavior, did not constitute vital evidence at the time.
Fifth, the trial court surely committed no error in not requiring testimony from appellant's children. As
correctly elucidated by the solicitor general, all criminal actions are prosecuted under the direction and
control of the public prosecutor, in whom lies the discretion to determine which witnesses and evidence
are necessary to present.20 As the former further points out, neither the trial court nor the prosecution
prevented appellant from presenting her children as witnesses. Thus, she cannot now fault the lower court
for not requiring them to testify.
Finally, merely collateral or corroborative is the matter of whether the flight of Marivic to Manila and her
subsequent apologies to her brother-in-law are indicia of her guilt or are attempts to save the life of her
unborn child. Any reversible error as to the trial court's appreciation of these circumstances has little
bearing on the final resolution of the case.
First Legal Issue:
Self-Defense and Defense of a Fetus

Appellant admits killing Ben Genosa but, to avoid criminal liability, invokes self-defense and/or defense of
her unborn child. When the accused admits killing the victim, it is incumbent upon her to prove any
claimed justifying circumstance by clear and convincing evidence. 21 Well-settled is the rule that in criminal
cases, self-defense (and similarly, defense of a stranger or third person) shifts the burden of proof from the
prosecution to the defense.22
The Battered Woman Syndrome
In claiming self-defense, appellant raises the novel theory of the battered woman syndrome. While new in
Philippine jurisprudence, the concept has been recognized in foreign jurisdictions as a form of self-defense
or, at the least, incomplete self-defense.23 By appreciating evidence that a victim or defendant is afflicted
with the syndrome, foreign courts convey their "understanding of the justifiably fearful state of mind of a
person who has been cyclically abused and controlled over a period of time." 24
A battered woman has been defined as a woman "who is repeatedly subjected to any forceful physical or
psychological behavior by a man in order to coerce her to do something he wants her to do without
concern for her rights. Battered women include wives or women in any form of intimate relationship with
men. Furthermore, in order to be classified as a battered woman, the couple must go through the battering
cycle at least twice. Any woman may find herself in an abusive relationship with a man once. If it occurs a
second time, and she remains in the situation, she is defined as a battered woman." 25
Battered women exhibit common personality traits, such as low self-esteem, traditional beliefs about the
home, the family and the female sex role; emotional dependence upon the dominant male; the tendency
to accept responsibility for the batterer's actions; and false hopes that the relationship will improve. 26
More graphically, the battered woman syndrome is characterized by the so-called "cycle of
violence,"27 which has three phases: (1) the tension-building phase; (2) the acute battering incident; and
(3) the tranquil, loving (or, at least, nonviolent) phase.28
During the tension-building phase, minor battering occurs -- it could be verbal or slight physical abuse or
another form of hostile behavior. The woman usually tries to pacify the batterer through a show of kind,
nurturing behavior; or by simply staying out of his way. What actually happens is that she allows herself to
be abused in ways that, to her, are comparatively minor. All she wants is to prevent the escalation of the
violence exhibited by the batterer. This wish, however, proves to be double-edged, because her "placatory"
and passive behavior legitimizes his belief that he has the right to abuse her in the first place.
However, the techniques adopted by the woman in her effort to placate him are not usually successful, and
the verbal and/or physical abuse worsens. Each partner senses the imminent loss of control and the
growing tension and despair. Exhausted from the persistent stress, the battered woman soon withdraws
emotionally. But the more she becomes emotionally unavailable, the more the batterer becomes angry,
oppressive and abusive. Often, at some unpredictable point, the violence "spirals out of control" and leads
to an acute battering incident.29
The acute battering incident is said to be characterized by brutality, destructiveness and, sometimes,
death. The battered woman deems this incident as unpredictable, yet also inevitable. During this phase,
she has no control; only the batterer may put an end to the violence. Its nature can be as unpredictable as
the time of its explosion, and so are his reasons for ending it. The battered woman usually realizes that she
cannot reason with him, and that resistance would only exacerbate her condition.
At this stage, she has a sense of detachment from the attack and the terrible pain, although she may later
clearly remember every detail. Her apparent passivity in the face of acute violence may be rationalized
thus: the batterer is almost always much stronger physically, and she knows from her past painful
experience that it is futile to fight back. Acute battering incidents are often very savage and out of control,
such that innocent bystanders or intervenors are likely to get hurt. 30
The final phase of the cycle of violence begins when the acute battering incident ends. During this tranquil
period, the couple experience profound relief. On the one hand, the batterer may show a tender and
nurturing behavior towards his partner. He knows that he has been viciously cruel and tries to make up for
it, begging for her forgiveness and promising never to beat her again. On the other hand, the battered
woman also tries to convince herself that the battery will never happen again; that her partner will change
for the better; and that this "good, gentle and caring man" is the real person whom she loves.
A battered woman usually believes that she is the sole anchor of the emotional stability of the batterer.
Sensing his isolation and despair, she feels responsible for his well-being. The truth, though, is that the
chances of his reforming, or seeking or receiving professional help, are very slim, especially if she remains
with him. Generally, only after she leaves him does he seek professional help as a way of getting her back.
Yet, it is in this phase of remorseful reconciliation that she is most thoroughly tormented psychologically.
The illusion of absolute interdependency is well-entrenched in a battered woman's psyche. In this phase,
she and her batterer are indeed emotionally dependent on each other -- she for his nurturant behavior, he
for her forgiveness. Underneath this miserable cycle of "tension, violence and forgiveness," each partner
may believe that it is better to die than to be separated. Neither one may really feel independent, capable
of functioning without the other.31
History of Abuse
in the Present Case
To show the history of violence inflicted upon appellant, the defense presented several witnesses. She
herself described her heart-rending experience as follows:
"ATTY. TABUCANON
Q How did you describe your marriage with Ben Genosa?
A In the first year, I lived with him happily but in the subsequent year he was cruel to me and a behavior of
habitual drinker.
Q You said that in the subsequent year of your marriage, your husband was abusive to you and cruel. In
what way was this abusive and cruelty manifested to you?
A He always provoke me in everything, he always slap me and sometimes he pinned me down on the bed
and sometimes beat me.
Q How many times did this happen?

A Several times already.


Q What did you do when these things happen to you?
A I went away to my mother and I ran to my father and we separate each other.
Q What was the action of Ben Genosa towards you leaving home?
A He is following me, after that he sought after me.
Q What will happen when he follow you?
A He said he changed, he asked for forgiveness and I was convinced and after that I go to him and he said
'sorry'.
Q During those times that you were the recipient of such cruelty and abusive behavior by your husband,
were you able to see a doctor?
A Yes, sir.
Q Who are these doctors?
A The company physician, Dr. Dino Caing, Dr. Lucero and Dra. Cerillo.
xxx
xxx
xxx
Q You said that you saw a doctor in relation to your injuries?
A Yes, sir.
Q Who inflicted these injuries?
A Of course my husband.
Q You mean Ben Genosa?
A Yes, sir.
xxx
xxx
xxx
[Court] /to the witness
Q How frequent was the alleged cruelty that you said?
A Everytime he got drunk.
Q No, from the time that you said the cruelty or the infliction of injury inflicted on your occurred, after your
marriage, from that time on, how frequent was the occurrence?
A Everytime he got drunk.
Q Is it daily, weekly, monthly or how many times in a month or in a week?
A Three times a week.
Q Do you mean three times a week he would beat you?
A Not necessarily that he would beat me but sometimes he will just quarrel me." 32
Referring to his "Out-Patient Chart"33 on Marivic Genosa at the Philphos Hospital, Dr. Dino D. Caing
bolstered her foregoing testimony on chronic battery in this manner:
"Q So, do you have a summary of those six (6) incidents which are found in the chart of your clinic?
A Yes, sir.
Q Who prepared the list of six (6) incidents, Doctor?
A I did.
Q Will you please read the physical findings together with the dates for the record.
A 1. May 12, 1990 - physical findings are as follows: Hematoma (R) lower eyelid and redness of eye.
Attending physician: Dr. Lucero;
2. March 10, 1992 - Contusion-Hematoma (L) lower arbital area, pain and contusion (R) breast. Attending
physician: Dr. Canora;
3. March 26, 1993 - Abrasion, Furuncle (L) Axilla;
4. August 1, 1994 - Pain, mastitis (L) breast, 2o to trauma. Attending physician: Dr. Caing;
5. April 17, 1995 - Trauma, tenderness (R) Shoulder. Attending physician: Dr. Canora; and
6. June 5, 1995 - Swelling Abrasion (L) leg, multiple contusion Pregnancy. Attending physician: Dr. Canora.
Q Among the findings, there were two (2) incidents wherein you were the attending physician, is that
correct?
A Yes, sir.
Q Did you actually physical examine the accused?
A Yes, sir.
Q Now, going to your finding no. 3 where you were the one who attended the patient. What do you mean
by abrasion furuncle left axilla?
A Abrasion is a skin wound usually when it comes in contact with something rough substance if force is
applied.
Q What is meant by furuncle axilla?
A It is secondary of the light infection over the abrasion.
Q What is meant by pain mastitis secondary to trauma?
A So, in this 4th episode of physical injuries there is an inflammation of left breast. So, [pain] meaning
there is tenderness. When your breast is traumatized, there is tenderness pain.
Q So, these are objective physical injuries. Doctor?
xxx
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xxx
Q Were you able to talk with the patient?
A Yes, sir.
Q What did she tell you?
A As a doctor-patient relationship, we need to know the cause of these injuries. And she told me that it was
done to her by her husband.
Q You mean, Ben Genosa?
A Yes, sir.
xxx
xxx
xxx
ATTY. TABUCANON:
Q By the way Doctor, were you able to physical examine the accused sometime in the month of November,
1995 when this incident happened?
A As per record, yes.

Q What was the date?


A It was on November 6, 1995.
Q So, did you actually see the accused physically?
A Yes, sir.
Q On November 6, 1995, will you please tell this Honorable Court, was the patient pregnant?
A Yes, sir.
Q Being a doctor, can you more engage at what stage of pregnancy was she?
A Eight (8) months pregnant.
Q So in other words, it was an advance stage of pregnancy?
A Yes, sir.
Q What was your November 6, 1995 examination, was it an examination about her pregnancy or for some
other findings?
A No, she was admitted for hypertension headache which complicates her pregnancy.
Q When you said admitted, meaning she was confined?
A Yes, sir.
Q For how many days?
A One day.
Q Where?
A At PHILPHOS Hospital.
xxx
xxx
xxx
Q Lets go back to the clinical history of Marivic Genosa. You said that you were able to examine her
personally on November 6, 1995 and she was 8 months pregnant.
What is this all about?
A Because she has this problem of tension headache secondary to hypertension and I think I have a record
here, also the same period from 1989 to 1995, she had a consultation for twenty-three (23) times.
Q For what?
A Tension headache.
Q Can we say that specially during the latter consultation, that the patient had hypertension?
A The patient definitely had hypertension. It was refractory to our treatment. She does not response when
the medication was given to her, because tension headache is more or less stress related and emotional in
nature.
Q What did you deduce of tension headache when you said is emotional in nature?
A From what I deduced as part of our physical examination of the patient is the family history in line of
giving the root cause of what is causing this disease. So, from the moment you ask to the patient all comes
from the domestic problem.
Q You mean problem in her household?
A Probably.
Q Can family trouble cause elevation of blood pressure, Doctor?
A Yes, if it is emotionally related and stressful it can cause increases in hypertension which is unfortunately
does not response to the medication.
Q In November 6, 1995, the date of the incident, did you take the blood pressure of the accused?
A On November 6, 1995 consultation, the blood pressure was 180/120.
Q Is this considered hypertension?
A Yes, sir, severe.
Q Considering that she was 8 months pregnant, you mean this is dangerous level of blood pressure?
A It was dangerous to the child or to the fetus." 34
Another defense witness, Teodoro Sarabia, a former neighbor of the Genosas in Isabel, Leyte, testified that
he had seen the couple quarreling several times; and that on some occasions Marivic would run to him
with bruises, confiding that the injuries were inflicted upon her by Ben. 35
Ecel Arano also testified36 that for a number of times she had been asked by Marivic to sleep at the Genosa
house, because the latter feared that Ben would come home drunk and hurt her. On one occasion that Ecel
did sleep over, she was awakened about ten o'clock at night, because the couple "were very noisy and I
heard something was broken like a vase." Then Marivic came running into Ecel's room and locked the door.
Ben showed up by the window grill atop a chair, scaring them with a knife.
On the afternoon of November 15, 1995, Marivic again asked her help -- this time to find Ben -- but they
were unable to. They returned to the Genosa home, where they found him already drunk. Again afraid that
he might hurt her, Marivic asked her to sleep at their house. Seeing his state of drunkenness, Ecel
hesitated; and when she heard the couple start arguing, she decided to leave.
On that same night that culminated in the death of Ben Genosa, at least three other witnesses saw or
heard the couple quarreling.37 Marivic relates in detail the following backdrop of the fateful night when life
was snuffed out of him, showing in the process a vivid picture of his cruelty towards her:
"ATTY. TABUCANON:
Q Please tell this Court, can you recall the incident in November 15, 1995 in the evening?
A Whole morning and in the afternoon, I was in the office working then after office hours, I boarded the
service bus and went to Bilwang. When I reached Bilwang, I immediately asked my son, where was his
father, then my second child said, 'he was not home yet'. I was worried because that was payday, I was
anticipating that he was gambling. So while waiting for him, my eldest son arrived from school, I prepared
dinner for my children.
Q This is evening of November 15, 1995?
A Yes, sir.
Q What time did Ben Genosa arrive?
A When he arrived, I was not there, I was in Isabel looking for him.
Q So when he arrived you were in Isabel looking for him?
A Yes, sir.

Q Did you come back to your house?


A Yes, sir.
Q By the way, where was your conjugal residence situated this time?
A Bilwang.
Q Is this your house or you are renting?
A Renting.
Q What time were you able to come back in your residence at Bilwang?
A I went back around almost 8:00 o'clock.
Q What happened when you arrived in your residence?
A When I arrived home with my cousin Ecel whom I requested to sleep with me at that time because I had
fears that he was again drunk and I was worried that he would again beat me so I requested my cousin to
sleep with me, but she resisted because she had fears that the same thing will happen again last year.
Q Who was this cousin of yours who you requested to sleep with you?
A Ecel Arao, the one who testified.
Q Did Ecel sleep with you in your house on that evening?
A No, because she expressed fears, she said her father would not allow her because of Ben.
Q During this period November 15, 1995, were you pregnant?
A Yes, 8 months.
Q How advance was your pregnancy?
A Eight (8) months.
Q Was the baby subsequently born?
A Yes, sir.
Q What's the name of the baby you were carrying at that time?
A Marie Bianca.
Q What time were you able to meet personally your husband?
A Yes, sir.
Q What time?
A When I arrived home, he was there already in his usual behavior.
Q Will you tell this Court what was his disposition?
A He was drunk again, he was yelling in his usual unruly behavior.
Q What was he yelling all about?
A His usual attitude when he got drunk.
Q You said that when you arrived, he was drunk and yelling at you? What else did he do if any?
A He is nagging at me for following him and he dared me to quarrel him.
Q What was the cause of his nagging or quarreling at you if you know?
A He was angry at me because I was following x x x him, looking for him. I was just worried he might be
overly drunk and he would beat me again.
Q You said that he was yelling at you, what else, did he do to you if any?
A He was nagging at me at that time and I just ignore him because I want to avoid trouble for fear that he
will beat me again. Perhaps he was disappointed because I just ignore him of his provocation and he switch
off the light and I said to him, 'why did you switch off the light when the children were there.' At that time I
was also attending to my children who were doing their assignments. He was angry with me for not
answering his challenge, so he went to the kitchen and [got] a bolo and cut the antenna wire to stop me
from watching television.
Q What did he do with the bolo?
A He cut the antenna wire to keep me from watching T.V.
Q What else happened after he cut the wire?
A He switch off the light and the children were shouting because they were scared and he was already
holding the bolo.
Q How do you described this bolo?
A 1 1/2 feet.
Q What was the bolo used for usually?
A For chopping meat.
Q You said the children were scared, what else happened as Ben was carrying that bolo?
A He was about to attack me so I run to the room.
Q What do you mean that he was about to attack you?
A When I attempt to run he held my hands and he whirled me and I fell to the bedside.
Q So when he whirled you, what happened to you?
A I screamed for help and then he left.
Q You said earlier that he whirled you and you fell on the bedside?
A Yes, sir.
Q You screamed for help and he left, do you know where he was going?
A Outside perhaps to drink more.
Q When he left what did you do in that particular time?
A I packed all his clothes.
Q What was your reason in packing his clothes?
A I wanted him to leave us.
Q During this time, where were your children, what were their reactions?
A After a couple of hours, he went back again and he got angry with me for packing his clothes, then he
dragged me again of the bedroom holding my neck.
Q You said that when Ben came back to your house, he dragged you? How did he drag you?
COURT INTERPRETER:
The witness demonstrated to the Court by using her right hand flexed forcibly in her front neck)
A And he dragged me towards the door backward.

ATTY. TABUCANON:
Q Where did he bring you?
A Outside the bedroom and he wanted to get something and then he kept on shouting at me that 'you
might as well be killed so there will be nobody to nag me.'
Q So you said that he dragged you towards the drawer?
A Yes, sir.
Q What is there in the drawer?
A I was aware that it was a gun.
COURT INTERPRETER:
(At this juncture the witness started crying).
ATTY. TABUCANON:
Q Were you actually brought to the drawer?
A Yes, sir.
Q What happened when you were brought to that drawer?
A He dragged me towards the drawer and he was about to open the drawer but he could not open it
because he did not have the key then he pulled his wallet which contained a blade about 3 inches long and
I was aware that he was going to kill me and I smashed his arm and then the wallet and the blade fell. The
one he used to open the drawer I saw, it was a pipe about that long, and when he was about to pick-up the
wallet and the blade, I smashed him then I ran to the other room, and on that very moment everything on
my mind was to pity on myself, then the feeling I had on that very moment was the same when I was
admitted in PHILPHOS Clinic, I was about to vomit.
COURT INTERPRETER:
(The witness at this juncture is crying intensely).
xxx
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xxx
ATTY. TABUCANON:
Q Talking of drawer, is this drawer outside your room?
A Outside.
Q In what part of the house?
A Dining.
Q Where were the children during that time?
A My children were already asleep.
Q You mean they were inside the room?
A Yes, sir.
Q You said that he dropped the blade, for the record will you please describe this blade about 3 inches
long, how does it look like?
A Three (3) inches long and 1/2 inch wide.
Q Is it a flexible blade?
A It's a cutter.
Q How do you describe the blade, is it sharp both edges?
A Yes, because he once used it to me.
Q How did he do it?
A He wanted to cut my throat.
Q With the same blade?
A Yes, sir, that was the object used when he intimidate me." 38
In addition, Dra. Natividad Dayan was called by the RTC to testify as an expert witness to assist it in
understanding the psyche of a battered person. She had met with Marivic Genosa for five sessions totaling
about seventeen hours. Based on their talks, the former briefly related the latter's ordeal to the court a
quo as follows:
"Q: What can you say, that you found Marivic as a battered wife? Could you in layman's term describe to
this Court what her life was like as said to you?
A: What I remember happened then was it was more than ten years, that she was suffering emotional
anguish. There were a lot of instances of abuses, to emotional abuse, to verbal abuse and to physical
abuse. The husband had a very meager income, she was the one who was practically the bread earner of
the family. The husband was involved in a lot of vices, going out with barkadas, drinking, even womanizing
being involved in cockfight and going home very angry and which will trigger a lot of physical abuse. She
also had the experience a lot of taunting from the husband for the reason that the husband even accused
her of infidelity, the husband was saying that the child she was carrying was not his own. So she was very
angry, she was at the same time very depressed because she was also aware, almost like living in
purgatory or even hell when it was happening day in and day out." 39
In cross-examining Dra. Dayan, the public prosecutor not merely elicited, but wittingly or unwittingly put
forward, additional supporting evidence as shown below:
"Q In your first encounter with the appellant in this case in 1999, where you talked to her about three
hours, what was the most relevant information did you gather?
A The most relevant information was the tragedy that happened. The most important information were
escalating abuses that she had experienced during her marital life.
Q Before you met her in 1999 for three hours, we presume that you already knew of the facts of the case
or at least you have substantial knowledge of the facts of the case?
A I believe I had an idea of the case, but I do not know whether I can consider them as substantial.
xxx
xxx
xxx
Q Did you gather an information from Marivic that on the side of her husband they were fond of battering
their wives?
A I also heard that from her?
Q You heard that from her?
A Yes, sir.

Q Did you ask for a complete example who are the relatives of her husband that were fond of battering
their wives?
A What I remember that there were brothers of her husband who are also battering their wives.
Q Did she not inform you that there was an instance that she stayed in a hotel in Ormoc where her
husband followed her and battered [her] several times in that room?
A She told me about that.
Q Did she inform you in what hotel in Ormoc?
A Sir, I could not remember but I was told that she was battered in that room.
Q Several times in that room?
A Yes, sir. What I remember was that there is no problem about being battered, it really happened.
Q Being an expert witness, our jurisprudence is not complete on saying this matter. I think that is the first
time that we have this in the Philippines, what is your opinion?
A Sir, my opinion is, she is really a battered wife and in this kind happened, it was really a self-defense. I
also believe that there had been provocation and I also believe that she became a disordered person. She
had to suffer anxiety reaction because of all the battering that happened and so she became an abnormal
person who had lost she's not during the time and that is why it happened because of all the physical
battering, emotional battering, all the psychological abuses that she had experienced from her husband.
Q I do believe that she is a battered wife. Was she extremely battered?
A Sir, it is an extreme form of battering. Yes.40
Parenthetically, the credibility of appellant was demonstrated as follows:
"Q And you also said that you administered [the] objective personality test, what x x x [is this] all about?
A The objective personality test is the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory. The purpose of that test is to find
out about the lying prone[ne]ss of the person.
Q What do you mean by that?
A Meaning, am I dealing with a client who is telling me the truth, or is she someone who can exaggerate or
x x x [will] tell a lie[?]
Q And what did you discover on the basis of this objective personality test?
A She was a person who passed the honesty test. Meaning she is a person that I can trust. That the data
that I'm gathering from her are the truth."41
The other expert witness presented by the defense, Dr. Alfredo Pajarillo, testified on his Psychiatric
Report,42which was based on his interview and examination of Marivic Genosa. The Report said that during
the first three years of her marriage to Ben, everything looked good -- the atmosphere was fine, normal
and happy -- until "Ben started to be attracted to other girls and was also enticed in[to] gambling[,]
especially cockfighting. x x x. At the same time Ben was often joining his barkada in drinking sprees."
The drinking sprees of Ben greatly changed the attitude he showed toward his family, particularly to his
wife. The Report continued: "At first, it was verbal and emotional abuses but as time passed, he became
physically abusive. Marivic claimed that the viciousness of her husband was progressive every time he got
drunk. It was a painful ordeal Marivic had to anticipate whenever she suspected that her husband went for
a drinking [spree]. They had been married for twelve years[;] and practically more than eight years, she
was battered and maltreated relentlessly and mercilessly by her husband whenever he was drunk."
Marivic sought the help of her mother-in-law, but her efforts were in vain. Further quoting from the Report,
"[s]he also sought the advice and help of close relatives and well-meaning friends in spite of her feeling
ashamed of what was happening to her. But incessant battering became more and more frequent and
more severe. x x x."43
From the totality of evidence presented, there is indeed no doubt in the Court's mind that Appellant Marivic
Genosa was a severely abused person.
Effect of Battery on Appellant
Because of the recurring cycles of violence experienced by the abused woman, her state of mind
metamorphoses. In determining her state of mind, we cannot rely merely on the judgment of an ordinary,
reasonable person who is evaluating the events immediately surrounding the incident. A Canadian court
has aptly pointed out that expert evidence on the psychological effect of battering on wives and common
law partners are both relevant and necessary. "How can the mental state of the appellant be appreciated
without it? The average member of the public may ask: Why would a woman put up with this kind of
treatment? Why should she continue to live with such a man? How could she love a partner who beat her
to the point of requiring hospitalization? We would expect the woman to pack her bags and go. Where is
her self-respect? Why does she not cut loose and make a new life for herself? Such is the reaction of the
average person confronted with the so-called 'battered wife syndrome.'" 44
To understand the syndrome properly, however, one's viewpoint should not be drawn from that of an
ordinary, reasonable person. What goes on in the mind of a person who has been subjected to repeated,
severe beatings may not be consistent with -- nay, comprehensible to -- those who have not been through
a similar experience. Expert opinion is essential to clarify and refute common myths and misconceptions
about battered women.45
The theory of BWS formulated by Lenore Walker, as well as her research on domestic violence, has had a
significant impact in the United States and the United Kingdom on the treatment and prosecution of cases,
in which a battered woman is charged with the killing of her violent partner. The psychologist explains that
the cyclical nature of the violence inflicted upon the battered woman immobilizes the latter's "ability to act
decisively in her own interests, making her feel trapped in the relationship with no means of escape." 46 In
her years of research, Dr. Walker found that "the abuse often escalates at the point of separation and
battered women are in greater danger of dying then."47
Corroborating these research findings, Dra. Dayan said that "the battered woman usually has a very low
opinion of herself. She has x x x self-defeating and self-sacrificing characteristics. x x x [W]hen the violence
would happen, they usually think that they provoke[d] it, that they were the one[s] who precipitated the
violence[; that] they provoke[d] their spouse to be physically, verbally and even sexually abusive to
them."48

According to Dra. Dayan, there are a lot of reasons why a battered woman does not readily leave an
abusive partner -- poverty, self-blame and guilt arising from the latter's belief that she provoked the
violence, that she has an obligation to keep the family intact at all cost for the sake of their children, and
that she is the only hope for her spouse to change.49
The testimony of another expert witness, Dr. Pajarillo, is also helpful. He had previously testified in suits
involving violent family relations, having evaluated "probably ten to twenty thousand" violent family
disputes within the Armed Forces of the Philippines, wherein such cases abounded. As a result of his
experience with domestic violence cases, he became a consultant of the Battered Woman Office in Quezon
City. As such, he got involved in about forty (40) cases of severe domestic violence, in which the physical
abuse on the woman would sometimes even lead to her loss of consciousness. 50
Dr. Pajarillo explained that "overwhelming brutality, trauma" could result in posttraumatic stress disorder, a
form of "anxiety neurosis or neurologic anxietism."51 After being repeatedly and severely abused, battered
persons "may believe that they are essentially helpless, lacking power to change their situation. x x x
[A]cute battering incidents can have the effect of stimulating the development of coping responses to the
trauma at the expense of the victim's ability to muster an active response to try to escape further trauma.
Furthermore, x x x the victim ceases to believe that anything she can do will have a predictable positive
effect."52
A study53 conducted by Martin Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, found that "even
if a person has control over a situation, but believes that she does not, she will be more likely to respond to
that situation with coping responses rather than trying to escape." He said that it was the cognitive aspect
-- the individual's thoughts -- that proved all-important. He referred to this phenomenon as "learned
helplessness." "[T]he truth or facts of a situation turn out to be less important than the individual's set of
beliefs or perceptions concerning the situation. Battered women don't attempt to leave the battering
situation, even when it may seem to outsiders that escape is possible, because they cannot predict their
own safety; they believe that nothing they or anyone else does will alter their terrible circumstances." 54
Thus, just as the battered woman believes that she is somehow responsible for the violent behavior of her
partner, she also believes that he is capable of killing her, and that there is no escape. 55 Battered women
feel unsafe, suffer from pervasive anxiety, and usually fail to leave the relationship. 56 Unless a shelter is
available, she stays with her husband, not only because she typically lacks a means of self-support, but
also because she fears that if she leaves she would be found and hurt even more. 57
In the instant case, we meticulously scoured the records for specific evidence establishing that appellant,
due to the repeated abuse she had suffered from her spouse over a long period of time, became afflicted
with the battered woman syndrome. We, however, failed to find sufficient evidence that would support
such a conclusion. More specifically, we failed to find ample evidence that would confirm the presence of
the essential characteristics of BWS.
The defense fell short of proving all three phases of the "cycle of violence" supposedly characterizing the
relationship of Ben and Marivic Genosa. No doubt there were acute battering incidents. In relating to the
court a quo how the fatal incident that led to the death of Ben started, Marivic perfectly described the
tension-building phase of the cycle. She was able to explain in adequate detail the typical characteristics
of this stage. However, that single incident does not prove the existence of the syndrome. In other words,
she failed to prove that in at least another battering episode in the past, she had gone through a similar
pattern.
How did the tension between the partners usually arise or build up prior to acute battering? How did
Marivic normally respond to Ben's relatively minor abuses? What means did she employ to try to prevent
the situation from developing into the next (more violent) stage?
Neither did appellant proffer sufficient evidence in regard to the third phase of the cycle. She simply
mentioned that she would usually run away to her mother's or father's house; 58 that Ben would seek her
out, ask for her forgiveness and promise to change; and that believing his words, she would return to their
common abode.
Did she ever feel that she provoked the violent incidents between her and her spouse? Did she believe that
she was the only hope for Ben to reform? And that she was the sole support of his emotional stability and
well-being? Conversely, how dependent was she on him? Did she feel helpless and trapped in their
relationship? Did both of them regard death as preferable to separation?
In sum, the defense failed to elicit from appellant herself her factual experiences and thoughts that would
clearly and fully demonstrate the essential characteristics of the syndrome.
The Court appreciates the ratiocinations given by the expert witnesses for the defense. Indeed, they were
able to explain fully, albeit merely theoretically and scientifically, how the personality of the battered
woman usually evolved or deteriorated as a result of repeated and severe beatings inflicted upon her by
her partner or spouse. They corroborated each other's testimonies, which were culled from their numerous
studies of hundreds of actual cases. However, they failed to present in court the factual experiences and
thoughts that appellant had related to them -- if at all -- based on which they concluded that she had BWS.
We emphasize that in criminal cases, all the elements of a modifying circumstance must be proven in order
to be appreciated. To repeat, the records lack supporting evidence that would establish all the essentials of
the battered woman syndrome as manifested specifically in the case of the Genosas.
BWS as Self-Defense
In any event, the existence of the syndrome in a relationship does not in itself establish the legal right of
the woman to kill her abusive partner. Evidence must still be considered in the context of self-defense. 59
From the expert opinions discussed earlier, the Court reckons further that crucial to the BWS defense is the
state of mind of the battered woman at the time of the offense 60 -- she must have actually feared imminent
harm from her batterer and honestly believed in the need to kill him in order to save her life.
Settled in our jurisprudence, however, is the rule that the one who resorts to self-defense must face a real
threaton one's life; and the peril sought to be avoided must be imminent and actual, not merely
imaginary.61 Thus, the Revised Penal Code provides the following requisites and effect of self-defense: 62
"Art. 11. Justifying circumstances. -- The following do not incur any criminal liability:

"1. Anyone who acts in defense of his person or rights, provided that the following circumstances concur;
First. Unlawful aggression;
Second. Reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel it;
Third. Lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending himself."
Unlawful aggression is the most essential element of self-defense. 63 It presupposes actual, sudden and
unexpected attack -- or an imminent danger thereof -- on the life or safety of a person. 64 In the present
case, however, according to the testimony of Marivic herself, there was a sufficient time interval between
the unlawful aggression of Ben and her fatal attack upon him. She had already been able to withdraw from
his violent behavior and escape to their children's bedroom. During that time, he apparently ceased his
attack and went to bed. The reality or even the imminence of the danger he posed had ended altogether.
He was no longer in a position that presented an actual threat on her life or safety.
Had Ben still been awaiting Marivic when she came out of their children's bedroom -- and based on past
violent incidents, there was a great probability that he would still have pursued her and inflicted graver
harm -- then, the imminence of the real threat upon her life would not have ceased yet. Where the
brutalized person is already suffering from BWS, further evidence of actual physical assault at the time of
the killing is not required. Incidents of domestic battery usually have a predictable pattern. To require the
battered person to await an obvious, deadly attack before she can defend her life "would amount to
sentencing her to 'murder by installment.'"65 Still, impending danger (based on the conduct of the victim in
previous battering episodes) prior to the defendant's use of deadly force must be shown. Threatening
behavior or communication can satisfy the required imminence of danger. 66 Considering such
circumstances and the existence of BWS, self-defense may be appreciated.
We reiterate the principle that aggression, if not continuous, does not warrant self-defense. 67 In the
absence of such aggression, there can be no self-defense -- complete or incomplete -- on the part of the
victim.68 Thus, Marivic's killing of Ben was not completely justified under the circumstances.
Mitigating Circumstances Present
In any event, all is not lost for appellant. While she did not raise any other modifying circumstances that
would alter her penalty, we deem it proper to evaluate and appreciate in her favor circumstances that
mitigate her criminal liability. It is a hornbook doctrine that an appeal in a criminal case opens it wholly for
review on any issue, including that which has not been raised by the parties. 69
From several psychological tests she had administered to Marivic, Dra. Dayan, in her Psychological
Evaluation Report dated November 29, 2000, opined as follows:
"This is a classic case of a Battered Woman Syndrome. The repeated battering Marivic experienced with
her husband constitutes a form of [cumulative] provocation which broke down her psychological resistance
and natural self-control. It is very clear that she developed heightened sensitivity to sight of impending
danger her husband posed continuously. Marivic truly experienced at the hands of her abuser husband a
state of psychological paralysis which can only be ended by an act of violence on her part." 70
Dr. Pajarillo corroborates the findings of Dra. Dayan. He explained that the effect of "repetitious pain
taking, repetitious battering, [and] repetitious maltreatment" as well as the severity and the prolonged
administration of the battering is posttraumatic stress disorder. 71 Expounding thereon, he said:
"Q What causes the trauma, Mr. Witness?
A What causes the trauma is probably the repetitious battering. Second, the severity of the battering.
Third, the prolonged administration of battering or the prolonged commission of the battering and the
psychological and constitutional stamina of the victim and another one is the public and social support
available to the victim. If nobody is interceding, the more she will go to that disorder....
xxx
xxx
xxx
Q You referred a while ago to severity. What are the qualifications in terms of severity of the postraumatic
stress disorder, Dr. Pajarillo?
A The severity is the most severe continuously to trig[g]er this post[t]raumatic stress disorder is injury to
the head, banging of the head like that. It is usually the very very severe stimulus that precipitate this
post[t]raumatic stress disorder. Others are suffocating the victim like holding a pillow on the face,
strangulating the individual, suffocating the individual, and boxing the individual. In this situation
therefore, the victim is heightened to painful stimulus, like for example she is pregnant, she is very
susceptible because the woman will not only protect herself, she is also to protect the fetus. So the anxiety
is heightened to the end [sic] degree.
Q But in terms of the gravity of the disorder, Mr. Witness, how do you classify?
A We classify the disorder as [acute], or chronic or delayed or [a]typical.
Q Can you please describe this pre[-]classification you called delayed or [atypical]?
A The acute is the one that usually require only one battering and the individual will manifest now a severe
emotional instability, higher irritability remorse, restlessness, and fear and probably in most [acute] cases
the first thing will be happened to the individual will be thinking of suicide.
Q And in chronic cases, Mr. Witness?
A The chronic cases is this repetitious battering, repetitious maltreatment, any prolonged, it is longer than
six (6) months. The [acute] is only the first day to six (6) months. After this six (6) months you become
chronic. It is stated in the book specifically that after six (6) months is chronic. The [a]typical one is the
repetitious battering but the individual who is abnormal and then become normal. This is how you get
neurosis from neurotic personality of these cases of post[t]raumatic stress disorder." 72
Answering the questions propounded by the trial judge, the expert witness clarified further:
"Q But just the same[,] neurosis especially on battered woman syndrome x x x affects x x x his or her
mental capacity?
A Yes, your Honor.
Q As you were saying[,] it x x x obfuscated her rationality?
A Of course obfuscated."73

In sum, the cyclical nature and the severity of the violence inflicted upon appellant resulted in "cumulative
provocation which broke down her psychological resistance and natural self-control," "psychological
paralysis," and "difficulty in concentrating or impairment of memory."
Based on the explanations of the expert witnesses, such manifestations were analogous to an illness that
diminished the exercise by appellant of her will power without, however, depriving her of consciousness of
her acts.There was, thus, a resulting diminution of her freedom of action, intelligence or intent. Pursuant to
paragraphs 974and 1075 of Article 13 of the Revised Penal Code, this circumstance should be taken in her
favor and considered as a mitigating factor. 76
In addition, we also find in favor of appellant the extenuating circumstance of having acted upon an
impulse so powerful as to have naturally produced passion and obfuscation. It has been held that this state
of mind is present when a crime is committed as a result of an uncontrollable burst of passion provoked by
prior unjust or improper acts or by a legitimate stimulus so powerful as to overcome reason. 77 To
appreciate this circumstance, the following requisites should concur: (1) there is an act, both unlawful and
sufficient to produce such a condition of mind; and (2) this act is not far removed from the commission of
the crime by a considerable length of time, during which the accused might recover her normal
equanimity.78
Here, an acute battering incident, wherein Ben Genosa was the unlawful aggressor, preceded his being
killed by Marivic. He had further threatened to kill her while dragging her by the neck towards a cabinet in
which he had kept a gun. It should also be recalled that she was eight months pregnant at the time. The
attempt on her life was likewise on that of her fetus. 79 His abusive and violent acts, an aggression which
was directed at the lives of both Marivic and her unborn child, naturally produced passion and obfuscation
overcoming her reason. Even though she was able to retreat to a separate room, her emotional and mental
state continued. According to her, she felt her blood pressure rise; she was filled with feelings of self-pity
and of fear that she and her baby were about to die. In a fit of indignation, she pried open the cabinet
drawer where Ben kept a gun, then she took the weapon and used it to shoot him.
The confluence of these events brings us to the conclusion that there was no considerable period of time
within which Marivic could have recovered her normal equanimity. Helpful is Dr. Pajarillo's testimony 80 that
with "neurotic anxiety" -- a psychological effect on a victim of "overwhelming brutality [or] trauma" -- the
victim relives the beating or trauma as if it were real, although she is not actually being beaten at the time.
She cannot control "re-experiencing the whole thing, the most vicious and the trauma that she suffered."
She thinks "of nothing but the suffering." Such reliving which is beyond the control of a person under
similar circumstances, must have been what Marivic experienced during the brief time interval and
prevented her from recovering her normal equanimity. Accordingly, she should further be credited with the
mitigating circumstance of passion and obfuscation.
It should be clarified that these two circumstances -- psychological paralysis as well as passion and
obfuscation -- did not arise from the same set of facts.
On the one hand, the first circumstance arose from the cyclical nature and the severity of the battery
inflicted by the batterer-spouse upon appellant. That is, the repeated beatings over a period of time
resulted in her psychological paralysis, which was analogous to an illness diminishing the exercise of her
will power without depriving her of consciousness of her acts.
The second circumstance, on the other hand, resulted from the violent aggression he had inflicted on her
prior to the killing. That the incident occurred when she was eight months pregnant with their child was
deemed by her as an attempt not only on her life, but likewise on that of their unborn child. Such
perception naturally produced passion and obfuscation on her part.
Second Legal Issue:
Treachery
There is treachery when one commits any of the crimes against persons by employing means, methods or
forms in the execution thereof without risk to oneself arising from the defense that the offended party
might make.81 In order to qualify an act as treacherous, the circumstances invoked must be proven as
indubitably as the killing itself; they cannot be deduced from mere inferences, or conjectures, which have
no place in the appreciation of evidence.82 Because of the gravity of the resulting offense, treachery must
be proved as conclusively as the killing itself.83
Ruling that treachery was present in the instant case, the trial court imposed the penalty of death upon
appellant. It inferred this qualifying circumstances merely from the fact that the lifeless body of Ben had
been found lying in bed with an "open, depressed, circular" fracture located at the back of his head. As to
exactly how and when he had been fatally attacked, however, the prosecution failed to establish
indubitably. Only the following testimony of appellant leads us to the events surrounding his death:
"Q You said that when Ben came back to your house, he dragged you? How did he drag you?
COURT:
The witness demonstrated to the Court by using her right hand flexed forcibly in her front neck)
A And he dragged me towards the door backward.
ATTY. TABUCANON:
Q Where did he bring you?
A Outside the bedroom and he wanted to get something and then he kept on shouting at me that 'you
might as well be killed so there will be nobody to nag me'
Q So you said that he dragged you towards the drawer?
A Yes, sir.
Q What is there in the drawer?
A I was aware that it was a gun.
COURT INTERPRETER
(At this juncture the witness started crying)
ATTY. TABUCANON:
Q Were you actually brought to the drawer?
A Yes, sir.

Q What happened when you were brought to that drawer?


A He dragged me towards the drawer and he was about to open the drawer but he could not open it
because he did not have the key then he pulled his wallet which contained a blade about 3 inches long and
I was aware that he was going to kill me and I smashed his arm and then the wallet and the blade fell. The
one he used to open the drawer I saw, it was a pipe about that long, and when he was about to pick-up the
wallet and the blade, I smashed him then I ran to the other room, and on that very moment everything on
my mind was to pity on myself, then the feeling I had on that very moment was the same when I was
admitted in PHILPHOS Clinic, I was about to vomit.
COURT INTERPRETER
(The witness at this juncture is crying intensely).
xxx
xxx
xxx
Q You said that he dropped the blade, for the record will you please describe this blade about 3 inches
long, how does it look like?
A Three (3) inches long and inch wide.
Q It is a flexible blade?
A It's a cutter.
Q How do you describe the blade, is it sharp both edges?
A Yes, because he once used it to me.
Q How did he do it?
A He wanted to cut my throat.
Q With the same blade?
A Yes, sir, that was the object used when he intimidate me.
xxx
xxx
xxx
ATTY. TABUCANON:
Q You said that this blade fell from his grip, is it correct?
A Yes, because I smashed him.
Q What happened?
A Ben tried to pick-up the wallet and the blade, I pick-up the pipe and I smashed him and I ran to the other
room.
Q What else happened?
A When I was in the other room, I felt the same thing like what happened before when I was admitted in
PHILPHOS Clinic, I was about to vomit. I know my blood pressure was raised. I was frightened I was about
to die because of my blood pressure.
COURT INTERPRETER:
(Upon the answer of the witness getting the pipe and smashed him, the witness at the same time pointed
at the back of her neck or the nape).
ATTY. TABUCANON:
Q You said you went to the room, what else happened?
A Considering all the physical sufferings that I've been through with him, I took pity on myself and I felt I
was about to die also because of my blood pressure and the baby, so I got that gun and I shot him.
COURT
/to Atty. Tabucanon
Q You shot him?
A Yes, I distorted the drawer."84
The above testimony is insufficient to establish the presence of treachery. There is no showing of the
victim's position relative to appellant's at the time of the shooting. Besides, equally axiomatic is the rule
that when a killing is preceded by an argument or a quarrel, treachery cannot be appreciated as a
qualifying circumstance, because the deceased may be said to have been forewarned and to have
anticipated aggression from the assailant.85
Moreover, in order to appreciate alevosia, the method of assault adopted by the aggressor must have been
consciously and deliberately chosen for the specific purpose of accomplishing the unlawful act without risk
from any defense that might be put up by the party attacked.86 There is no showing, though, that the
present appellant intentionally chose a specific means of successfully attacking her husband without any
risk to herself from any retaliatory act that he might make. To the contrary, it appears that the thought of
using the gun occurred to her only at about the same moment when she decided to kill her battererspouse. In the absence of any convincing proof that she consciously and deliberately employed the
method by which she committed the crime in order to ensure its execution, this Court resolves the doubt in
her favor.87
Proper Penalty
The penalty for parricide imposed by Article 246 of the Revised Penal Code is reclusion perpetua to death.
Since two mitigating circumstances and no aggravating circumstance have been found to have attended
the commission of the offense, the penalty shall be lowered by one (1) degree, pursuant to Article 64 of
paragraph 588 of the same Code.89 The penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium period is imposable,
considering that two mitigating circumstances are to be taken into account in reducing the penalty by one
degree, and no other modifying circumstances were shown to have attended the commission of the
offense.90 Under the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the minimum of the penalty shall be within the range of
that which is next lower in degree -- prision mayor -- and the maximum shall be within the range of the
medium period of reclusion temporal.
Considering all the circumstances of the instant case, we deem it just and proper to impose the penalty
of prision mayor in its minimum period, or six (6) years and one (1) day in prison as minimum; to reclusion
temporal in its medium period, or 14 years 8 months and 1 day as maximum. Noting that appellant has
already served the minimum period, she may now apply for and be released from detention on parole. 91
Epilogue

Being a novel concept in our jurisprudence, the battered woman syndrome was neither easy nor simple to
analyze and recognize vis--vis the given set of facts in the present case. The Court agonized on how to
apply the theory as a modern-day reality. It took great effort beyond the normal manner in which decisions
are made -- on the basis of existing law and jurisprudence applicable to the proven facts. To give a just and
proper resolution of the case, it endeavored to take a good look at studies conducted here and abroad in
order to understand the intricacies of the syndrome and the distinct personality of the chronically abused
person. Certainly, the Court has learned much. And definitely, the solicitor general and appellant's counsel,
Atty. Katrina Legarda, have helped it in such learning process.
While our hearts empathize with recurrently battered persons, we can only work within the limits of law,
jurisprudence and given facts. We cannot make or invent them. Neither can we amend the Revised Penal
Code. Only Congress, in its wisdom, may do so.
The Court, however, is not discounting the possibility of self-defense arising from the battered woman
syndrome. We now sum up our main points. First, each of the phases of the cycle of violence must be
proven to have characterized at least two battering episodes between the appellant and her intimate
partner. Second, the final acute battering episode preceding the killing of the batterer must have produced
in the battered person's mind an actual fear of an imminent harm from her batterer and an honest belief
that she needed to use force in order to save her life. Third, at the time of the killing, the batterer must
have posed probable -- not necessarily immediate and actual -- grave harm to the accused, based on the
history of violence perpetrated by the former against the latter. Taken altogether, these circumstances
could satisfy the requisites of self-defense. Under the existing facts of the present case, however, not all of
these elements were duly established.
WHEREFORE, the conviction of Appellant Marivic Genosa for parricide is hereby AFFIRMED. However, there
being two (2) mitigating circumstances and no aggravating circumstance attending her commission of the
offense, her penalty is REDUCED to six (6) years and one (1) day of prision mayor as minimum; to 14
years, 8 months and 1 day of reclusion temporal as maximum.
Inasmuch as appellant has been detained for more than the minimum penalty hereby imposed upon her,
the director of the Bureau of Corrections may immediately RELEASE her from custody upon due
determination that she is eligible for parole, unless she is being held for some other lawful cause. Costs de
oficio.
SO ORDERED.
Puno, Carpio, Corona, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna and Tinga, JJ., concur.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Sandoval-Gutierrez, and Austria-Martinez, JJ., join Justice Santiago in her dissent.
Vitug and Quisumbing JJ., in the result.
Ynares-Santiago J., see dissenting opinion.
DISSENTING OPINION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
In convicting Marivic Genosa of the crime of parricide, our esteemed colleague Mr. Justice Artemio V.
Panganiban found that there was no factual basis to conclude that Marivic was suffering from "Battered
Woman Syndrome" (BWS) at the time she took the life of her husband. With due respect, I register my
dissent.
The novel theory of "Battered Woman Syndrome" is recognized in foreign jurisprudence as a form of selfdefense. It operates upon the premise that a woman who has been cyclically abused and controlled over a
period of time develops a fearful state of mind. Living in constant danger of harm or death, she knows that
future beatings are almost certain to occur and will escalate over time. Her intimate knowledge of the
violent nature of her batterer makes her alert to when a particular attack is forthcoming, and when it will
seriously threaten her survival. Trapped in a cycle of violence and constant fear, it is not unlikely that she
would succumb to her helplessness and fail to perceive possible solutions to the problem other than to
injure or kill her batterer. She is seized by fear of an existing or impending lethal aggression and thus
would have no opportunity beforehand to deliberate on her acts and to choose a less fatal means of
eliminating her sufferings.1
As exhaustively discussed in the ponencia, the "Battered Woman Syndrome" has three phases, to wit: (1)
the tension-building phase, where minor batterings in the form of verbal or slight physical abuse occurs.
Here, the woman tries to pacify the batterer through a show of kind, nurturing behavior; or by simply
staying out of his way; (2) the acute battering incident phase which is characterized by brutality,
destructiveness and sometimes, death. The battered woman usually realizes that she cannot reason with
him and that resistance would only exacerbate her condition; and (3) the tranquil period, where the couple
experience a compound relief and the batterer may show a tender and nurturing behavior towards his
partner.
Contrary to the findings in the ponencia, the defense was able to establish the occurrence on more than
one occasion of the "tension-building phase" of the cycle. The various testimonies of appellant's witnesses
clearly reveal that she knew exactly when she would once again be subjected to acute battery. Her cousin,
Ecel Arano, testified that she often asked the latter to sleep in her house as she was afraid every time her
husband came home drunk. Clearly, whenever appellant requested for Arano's company, she was
experiencing a tension-building phase. The barangay captain, Panfilo Tero, also testified that appellant
sought his help two months before she killed her husband, again demonstrating that she was in the
tension-building phase and was attempting to prevent another incident of acute battery. Appellant
presented evidence to prove that the tension-building phase would occur whenever her husband would go
out looking for other women, would lose at cockfights or would come home drunk. She often tried to ignore
her husband's attitude or, as testified to by some witnesses for the prosecution, even shouted back, fought
off or even injured her husband during the tension-building phase, if only to prevent the onset of acute
battery.
Appellant was able to perfectly describe the tension-building phase of the cycle immediately prior to the
death of her husband, i.e., when she knew or felt that she was going to be killed by the deceased. She

could not possibly have testified with clarity as to prior tension-building phases in the cycle as she had
never tried to kill her husband before this time.
It was shown by the testimonies of appellant and even witnesses for the prosecution that appellant would
seek shelter in her mother's or her father's house after an acute battering incident, after which would
begin the process of begging for forgiveness, promises of change in behavior and return to the conjugal
home, only for the same cycle to begin all over again.
To require appellant to prove the state of mind of the deceased, as seems to be required in
the ponencia, would mean that no person would ever be able to prove self-defense in a battered woman
case. Appellant could not possibly prove whether the deceased felt provoked into battering by any act or
omission of appellant. She cannot possibly prove that she felt herself to be the sole support of the
deceased's emotional stability and well-being. Nevertheless, appellant felt trapped and helpless in the
relationship as, in the end, she resorted to killing her husband as no one could or did help her, whether out
of fear or insensitivity, during the violent marriage she endured.
The "acute battering incident stage" was well demonstrated by the severe beatings suffered by Marivic in
the hands of the deceased as well as the threats to kill her using a bolo or a cutter. 2 The physical abuses
occurred at least 3 times a week in the 11 miserable years of their marriage, 3 six incidents of which were
documented by the 1990-1995 medical records of Marivic. They included, among others, hematoma,
contusion, and pain on the breasts; multiple contusions and trauma on the different parts of her body even
during her pregnancy in 1995.4The tranquil period underwent by Marivic was shown by the repeated "kiss
and make-up" episodes of their relationship. On more than 5 occasions, Marivic ran to her parents' house
after violent fights with the deceased only to forgive the latter every time he would fetch her and promise
to change.5
All these recurring phases of cycle of violence, repentance and forgiveness developed a trauma in the
mind of Marivic making her believe that a forthcoming attack from the deceased would cause her death.
This state of mind of Marivic was revealed in her testimony given way back in 1998, before she was
examined by experts on BWS. Unaware of the significance of her declarations, she candidly narrated how
she felt immediately before she killed the deceased, thus ATTY. TABUCANON
Q So you said that he dragged you towards the drawer?
A Yes, sir.
Q What is there in the drawer?
A I was aware that it was a gun.
xxx
xxx
xxx
Q What happened when you were brought to the drawer?
A He dragged me towards the drawer and he was about to open the drawer but he could not open it
because he did not have the key. [T]hen he pulled his wallet which contained a blade about 3 inches long
and I was aware that he was going to kill me and I smashed his arm and then the wallet and the blade fell.
The one he used to open the drawer I saw, it was a pipe about that long, and when he was about to pickup the wallet and the blade, I smashed him then I ran to the room, and on that very moment everything on
my mind was pity on myself, then the feeling I had on that very moment was the same when I was
admitted in PHILPHOS Clinic, I was about to vomit.
xxx
xxx
xxx6
Q What else happened?
A When I was in the room, I felt the same thing like what happened before I was admitted in PHILPHOS
Clinic, I was about to vomit. I know my blood pressure has raised. I was frightened I was about to die
because of my blood pressure.
xxx
xxx
xxx
A Considering all the physical sufferings that I've been through him, I took pity on myself and I felt I was
about to die also because of my blood pressure and the baby, so I got the gun and shot him. 7
It must be stressed that the defense of "Battered Woman Syndrome" was not raised by Marivic before the
lower court but only here on automatic review. This makes the foregoing testimony more worthy of great
weight and credence considering that the same could not have been cunningly given to suit or conform to
the profile of a battered woman.
Moreover, there was indeed basis for Marivic to fear death because of her medical history. Dr. Dino Caing
testified that he treated Marivic for hypertension due to domestically related emotional stress on 23
separate occasions. The latest one was on November 6, 1995 when she suffered from severe hypertension
and had a blood pressure of 180/120 on the 8th month of her pregnancy.8
Furthermore, Dr. Natividad A. Dayan, a clinical psychologist and an expert on BWS who examined Marivic,
assessed the effects of the repeated violence on the latter as follows:
A What I remember ... was it was more than ten years that she was suffering from emotional anguish.
There were a lot of instance of abuses, ... emotional abuse...verbal abuse and... physical abuse. The
husband had very meager income, she was the one who was practically the bread earner of the family. The
husband was involved in a lot of vices, going out with barkadas, drinking, even womanizing, being involved
in cockfighting and in going home very angry which... triggered a lot of physical abuse. She also had the
experience of taunting from the husband for the reason that the husband even accused her of infidelity,
the husband was saying that the child she was carrying was not his own. So she was very angry, she was
at the same time very depressed because she .. .[felt] almost like living in purgatory or even in hell when it
was happening day in and day out.
xxx
xxx
xxx
Q And what was it that triggered ... that tragedy in your opinion?
A I think for several weeks, she was already having all those tensions, all those anxieties, they were not
enough, that the husband was even going to cockfighting x x x
A She was angry with him, he was angry with her and I think he dragged her and even spun her around.
She tried to fight him so there was a lot of fight and when she was able to escape, she went to another

room and she locked herself with the children. And when the husband was for a while very angry he calms
down then and then (sic). But I remember before that the husband was looking for the gun and I think he
was not able to open the cabinet because she had the key. So during that time, I remember, that she was
very much afraid of him, so when the husband calmed down and he was asleep, all she was concerned was
to end up her misery, to save her child which she was carrying and to save her two children. I believe that
somehow she's not rational.9
xxx
xxx
xxx
PROS. TRUYA
Q Mrs. Witness, being an expert witness, giving more the facts and circumstances on this case that the
books you studied in the expertise in line and in the 77 hour contact with appellant Mrs. Genosa, could you
say that this is not ordinary self-defense but a survival on her part?
A Yes, sir.
Q To what she did to her husband (sic)?
A Yes, sir this is not an ordinary self-defense, but this [is] a need to survive, a need to survive with her two
sons and [the] child she's bringing.
Q Had she not able to kill her husband, would she still be in the very short moment with the victim (sic)?
A If she did not do that she believes that she will be the one who would be killed. 10
There is no doubt therefore that Marivic was afflicted with the "Battered Woman Syndrome" and that it was
an apprehension of death and the instinct to defend her and her unborn child's life that drove her to kill her
husband.
The ponente further refused to sustain the self-defense proffered by Marivic because there was allegedly
no aggression or danger posed on her life by the victim at the time she attacked the latter. Again, I beg to
disagree.
Traditionally, in order that self-defense may be appreciated, the unlawful aggression or the attack must be
imminent and actually in existence. This interpretation must, however, be re-evaluated vis-a-vis the
recognized inherent characteristic of the psyche of a person afflicted with the "Battered Woman
Syndrome." As previously discussed, women afflicted by this syndrome live in constant fear for their life
and thus respond in self-defense. Once BWS and an impending danger based on the conduct of the
deceased in previous battering episodes are established, actual occurrence of an assault is no longer a
condition sine qua non before self defense may be upheld. Threatening behavior or communication can
satisfy the required imminence of danger. As stated in theponencia, to require the battered person to await
an obvious deadly attack before she can defend her life would amount to sentencing her to murder by
installment.
In the case at bar, the cycle of violence perpetrated by the deceased, which culminated in the physical
assaults and an attempt to shoot Marivic when she was 8 months pregnant, took the place of unlawful
aggression, thus entitling her to a complete self defense even if there was no actual employment of
violence by the deceased at the time of the killing. Marivic had every reason to believe that the deceased
would kill her that night not only because the latter was verbally threatening to kill her while attempting to
get a gun from the drawer, but more importantly because the deceased wounded her on the wrist with a
bolo, and because of the deceased's previous conduct of threatening to cut her throat with a cutter which
he kept in his wallet. Quoted hereunder are the relevant testimonies of Marivic A When I arrived home, he was already in his usual behavior.
xxx
xxx
xxx
A He was drunk again, he was yelling in his usual unruly behavior.
xxx
xxx
xxx
A He was nagging ... me at that time and I just ignore[d] him because I want to avoid trouble for fear that
he will beat me again. Perhaps he was disappointed because I just ignore[d] hi[s] provocation and he
switch off the light and I said to him, "why did you switch off the light when the children were there." At
that time I was also attending to my children who were doing their assignments. He was angry with me for
not answering his challenge, so he went to the kitchen and g[o]t a bolo and cut the antenna wire to stop
me from watching television.
xxx
xxx
xxx
A He switch[ed] off the light and the children were shouting because they were scared and he was already
holding a bolo.
Q How do you describe this bolo?
A 1 1/2 feet.
xxx
xxx
xxx
Q You said the children were scared, what else happened as Ben was carrying that bolo?
A He was about to attack me so I ran to the room.
Q What do you mean that he was about to attack you?
A When I attempted] to run he held my hands and he whirled me and I fell [on] the bedside. 11
xxx
xxx
xxx
COURT
To the witness
xxx
xxx
xxx
Q The bolo that you said which Ben was holding at that time, [was] it a bolo or a knife?
A Bolo.
Q Were you wounded or were there inflictions on your body when he was holding and trying to frighten you
[with] that bolo?
A No, only here.
COURT INTERPRETER
(The witness pointed to her wrist).
COURT
To the witness

Q You were demonstrating a motion, whirling, did your husband really whirl you?
A Yes, your Honor.
Q How did he whirl you?
A Whirled around.
Q Just like spinning.
xxx
xxx
xxx
Q Where did he whirl you, was it inside the bedroom or outside?
A In our bedroom.
Q Then after the whirling what happened?
A He kicked my ass and then I screamed.12
xxx
xxx
xxx
Q You screamed for help and he left, do you know where he was going?
A Outside perhaps to drink more.
Q When he left what did you do...?
A I packed all his clothes.
Q What was your reason in packing his clothes?
A I wanted him to leave us.13
A I was frightened that my husband would hurt me, so I packed all his things then on the following day I
will leave, I was afraid and I want to make sure I would deliver my baby safely. 14
xxx
xxx
xxx
A After a couple of hours, he went back again and got angry with me for packing his clothes, then he
dragged me again outside of the bedroom holding my neck.
ATTY. TABUCANON
Q You said that when Ben came back to your house, he dragged you? How did he drag... you?
COURT INTERPRETER
(The witness demonstrated to the Court by using her right hand flexed forcibly in her front neck)
A And he dragged me towards the door backwards.
ATTY. TABUCANON
Q Where did he bring you?
A Outside the bedroom and he wanted to get something and then he kept shouting at me that "you might
as well be killed so there will be nobody to nag me.
Q So you said that he dragged you towards the drawer?
A Yes, sir.
Q What is there in the drawer?
A I was aware that it was a gun.
xxx
xxx
xxx
Q What happened when you were brought to the drawer?
A He dragged me towards the drawer and he was about to open the drawer but he could not open it
because he did not have the key. [T]hen he pulled his wallet which contained a blade about 3 inches long
and I was aware that he was going to kill me and I smashed his arm and then the wallet and the blade fell.
The one he used to open the drawer I saw, it was a pipe about that long, and when he was about to pickup the wallet and the blade, I smashed him then I ran to the room, and on that very moment everything on
my mind was pity on myself, then the feeling I had on that very moment was the same when I was
admitted in PHILPHOS Clinic, I was about to vomit.
xxx
xxx
xxx
Q You said that he dropped the blade, for the record will you please
describe this blade about 3 inches long, how does it look like?
A Three (3) inches long and 1/2 inch wide.
Q Is it a flexible blade?
A It's a cutter.
Q How do you describe the blade, is it sharp both edges?
A Yes, because he once used it to me.
Q How did he do it?
A He wanted to cut my throat.
Q With the same blade?
A Yes sir, that was the object used when he intimidate me. 15
RE-DIRECT BY ATTY. TABUCANON
Q In other words, there were two (2) incidents, the first incident and then he left and then two (2) hours
after he came back?
A Yes, sir.
Q And the whirling happened in the first incident?
A Yes, sir.
Q And the dragging with arms flexed in her neck and on that blade
happened on the second incident (sic)?
A Ye, sir.
xxx
xxx
xxx
COURT
To the witness
Q Why, what is that blade about?
A A cutter about 3 inches long.
Q Who used that?
A Ben.
Q He used that on you?
A He scared me on that (sic).

xxx
xxx
xxx
Q But he did not hit you with that?
A Yes, because I managed to run every time he scared (sic). 16
There are many things which cannot be proved by direct evidence. One of this is state of mind. In the case
at bar, there is more than sufficient physical evidence presented by the appellant from which her mental
state can be inferred. The prosecution did not object to the presentation of these physical and testimonial
pieces of evidence, namely, the medical records of 23 instances of domestic violence-related injuries and
the testimonies of neighbors, cousins and even the barangay captain. Indeed, no person would endure 23
reported instances of beatings if she were planning to kill her spouse in the first place. The majority need
not worry that women around the country will mastermind the killings of their husbands and then use this
Decision to bolster their attempts to employ the BWS defense.
Moreover, as found in the ponencia, appellant should be allowed the mitigating circumstance of passion
and obfuscation. This, at the very least, supports a finding that the acts of violence and battery committed
by the deceased were illegal and unlawful and were committed immediately before appellant could
recover her natural equanimity. But what is the natural equanimity of a battered woman? Appellant was
not a normal married woman. She can never be in a state of natural equanimity as she was in a constant
state of alertness and hypersensitivity to the next phase of acute battery. The esteemed ponente also
correctly found that the appellant acted with diminished will-power. However, he failed to go further. In the
case of People v. Javier,17 it was held:
Since accused-appellant has already admitted to the killing, it is incumbent upon him to prove the claimed
mitigating circumstance of illness. In this case, however, aside from the testimony of the accused that his
mind went blank when he killed his wife due to loss of sleep, no medical finding was presented regarding
his mental condition at the time of the killing. This Court can hardly rely on the bare allegations of
accused-appellant, nor on mere presumptions and conjectures. No clear and convincing evidence was
shown that accused-appellant was suffering an illness which diminished his exercise of will-power at the
time of the killing.18
In the case at bar, appellant was allowed and did in fact present clear and convincing evidence that she
was a battered woman for 13-14 years and that she suffered from the "Battered Woman Syndrome".
Expert testimony was presented and admitted to this effect, such that the ponente ably discussed the
causes and effects of the syndrome. To ignore the testimony and the evidence thus presented is to make
impossible the proof of mental state. Evidence as to the mental state need not be also "beyond reasonable
doubt."
Verily, the requirement of threatening behavioral pattern of the batterer in previous violent episodes was
sufficiently satisfied in the present case. This, juxtaposed to Marivic's affliction with BWS justified the killing
of the deceased. The danger posed or created in her mind by the latter's threats using bladed weapons,
bred a state of fear, where under the circumstances, the natural response of the battered woman would be
to defend herself even at the cost of taking the life of the batterer.
The ponencia's acknowledgement of "Battered Woman Syndrome" as a valid form of self-defense, is a
noble recognition of the plight of, and a triumph for battered women who are trapped in a culture of
silence, shame, and fear. This would however be an empty victory if we deliberately close our eyes to the
antecedents of this case. The facts are simple. Marivic was suffering from the "Battered Woman Syndrome"
and was defending herself when she killed her husband. Her acquittal of the charge of parricide is
therefore in order.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, I vote to ACQUIT Marivic Genosa.
Footnotes
1
Penned by Judge Fortunito L. Madrona.
2
Assailed Decision, p. 17; rollo, p. 43.
3
Signed by Provincial Prosecutor I Rosario D. Beleta.
4
Rollo, p. 9.
5
Atty. Joventino Isidro. The accused was also represented later by Atty. Gil Marvel P. Tabucanon.
6
Records, p. 65.
7
Appellee's Brief, pp. 5-13; rollo, pp. 435-443. Signed by Solicitor General Alfredo L. Benipayo, Assistant
Solicitor General Karl B. Miranda, and Solicitor Ma. Ana C. Rivera.
8
Spelled as "Basobas" in some parts of the record.
9
Appellant's Brief, pp. 10-71; rollo, pp. 284-345; signed by Atty. Katrina Legarda. Citations omitted.
10
Qualifying her expertise, Dra. Dayan stated that she had been a practising clinical psychologist for over
twenty (20) years. Currently, she is a professor at the De La Salle University. Prior thereto, she was the
head of the Psychology Department of the Assumption College; a member of the faculty of Psychology of
the Ateneo de Manila University and St. Joseph's College; and the counseling psychologist of the National
Defense College. She obtained her bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of the Philippines
(UP), her Master of Arts in Clinical Counseling from Ateneo, and her Ph.D. also from UP. She is the secretary
of the International Council of Psychologists, comprised of members from about 68 countries; and was the
past president of the Psychological Association of the Philippines. She is a member of the Forensic
Psychology Association, the American Psychological Association, and the ASEAN Counseling Association.
She authored the book entitled Energy Global Psychology (together with Drs. Allen Tan and Allan
Bernardo). Dra. Dayan also lectures at the Philippine Judicial Academy, recently on the socio-demographic
and psychological profiles of families involved in domestic violence cases. On the subject, she had
conducted, for over a period of ten years, research on the profiles of about 500 families involved in
domestic violence.
11
Dr. Pajarillo obtained his medical degree from the University of Santo Tomas and has been in the practice
of psychiatry for thirty-eight years. He honed his practice in psychiatry and neurology during his stint with
the Veterans Memorial Medical Centre. Thereafter, he was called to active duty in the Armed Forces of the

Philippines and was assigned at the V. Luna Medical Center for twenty-six years. He was a diplomate of the
Philippine Board of Psychiatry; and a fellow of the Philippine Board of Psychiatry and the Philippine
Psychiatry Association. He was also a member of the World Association of Military Surgeons; the Quezon
City Medical Society; the Cagayan Medical Society; and the Philippine Association of Military Surgeons. He
authored The Comparative Analysis of Nervous Breakdown in the Philippine Military Academy from the
Period 1954-1978, which was presented twice in international congresses. He also authored "The Mental
Health of the Armed Forces of the Philippines 2000," which was likewise published internationally and
locally. On a Parke-Davis grant, he published a medical textbook on the use of Prasepam; on an ER Squibb
grant, he was the first to use Enanthate (siquiline); and he published the use of the drug Zopiclom in 198586. Prior to his retirement from government service, he obtained the rank of Brigadier General. (TSN,
February 9, 2001, pp. 6-9; Exhibits "F"-"F-9"-Appellant (Bio-Data of Dr. Pajarillo).
12
This case was deemed submitted for resolution on April 4, 2003, upon receipt by this Court of appellee's
Brief. Appellant's Brief was filed on December 2, 2002.
13
Appellant's Brief, rollo, pp. 346-347. Original in upper case.
14
Caca v. Court of Appeals and People, 341 Phil. 114, July 7, 1997; People v. Paragua, 326 Phil. 923, May
24, 1996; People v. Tanoy, 387 Phil. 750, May 12, 2000; People v. Magaro, 353 Phil. 862, July 2, 1998.
15
15 of Art. VIII of the Constitution provides:
"Sec. 15. (1) All cases or matters filed after the effectivity of this Constitution must be decided or resolved
within x x x three months for all other lower courts.
"(2) A case or matter shall be deemed submitted for decision or resolution upon the filing of the last
pleading, brief, or memorandum required by the Rules of Court or by the court itself."
16
333 Phil. 20, December 2, 1996, per Puno, J.
17
TSN, September 23, 1997, pp. 11-12 & 14; TSN, November 12, 1997, pp. 29 & 33.
18
TSN, August 6, 1998, pp. 7-8.
19
People v. Sarabia, 376 Phil. 32, October 29, 1999.
20
Appellee's Brief, p. 26, citing People v. De los Reyes, 229 SCRA 439, January 21, 1994. See also 5 of
Rule 110 of the New Rules of Criminal Procedure and People v. Vergara, 221 SCRA 560, April 28, 1993.
21
People v. Rabanal, 349 SCRA 655, January 19, 2001; People v. Cario, 351 Phil. 644, March 31, 1998;
People v. Baniel, 341 Phil. 471, July 15, 1997.
22
People v. Peralta, 350 SCRA 198, January 24, 2001.
23
See Ibn-Tamas v. US, 477 A.2d 626, 1979 DC App. LEXIS 457; McLuckie v. Abbott, 337 F.3d 1193; 2003
US App. LEXIS 15240; DePetris v. Kuykendall, 239 F.3d 1057; 2001 US App. LEXIS 1062; State v. Kelley, 478
A.2d 364 (1984); McMaugh v. State, 612 A.2d 725 (RI 1992); State v. Frost, 577 A.2d 1282 (NJ Super. Ct.
App. Div. 1990); State v. Gallegos, 719 P.2d 1268 (NM Ct. App. 1986); R. v. Lavallee (1990) 1 SCR; Reilly v.
The Queen, (1984) 2 SCR 396.
24
Symposium on Domestic Violence. Article: "Providing Legal Protection for Battered Women: An Analysis
of State Statutes and Case Law," LEXSEE 21 Hofstra L. Rev. 801 (Summer 1993), 1161.
25
McMaugh v. State, 612 A.2d 725, 731, quoting L. Walker, The Battered Woman, at XV (1979).
26
People v. Torres, 128 Misc2d, 129, 488 NYS2d 358; McMaugh v. State, 612 A.2d 725.
27
Walker, Lenore, The Battered Woman Syndrome (1984), pp. 95-96. Dr. Walker, a clinical psychologist, is
an acknowledged expert on BWS in the United States. She is a pioneer researcher in the field. In this book,
she reports the results of her study involving 400 battered women. Her research was designed to test
empirically the theories expounded in her earlier book, The Battered Woman (1979). In 1989, she also
wrote Terrifying Love: Why Battered Women Kill and How Society Responds.
28
Walker, Terrifying Love: Why Battered Women Kill and How Society Responds (Harper Perennial, 1989),
p. 42.
29
Ibid. See also R. v. Lavallee, supra; Ibn-Tamas v. US, supra.
30
Ibid.
31
Ibid.
32
TSN, August 6, 1998, pp. 12-19.
33
Exhibits 1 & 1-A; records, p. 44.
34
TSN, August 5, 1998, pp. 14-23, 27-31.
35
TSN, December 16, 1997, pp. 15-17 & 20-21.
36
TSN, May 22, 1998, pp. 2-20.
37
TSN (Arturo Basobas), July 21, 1997, pp. 13, 15 & 21; TSN (Jose Barrientos), December 15, 1997, pp. 1720; TSN (Junnie Barrientos), December 15, 1997, pp. 35-37; TSN (Ecel Arano), May 22, 1998, pp. 10 & 20.
38
TSN, August 6, 1998, pp. 19-32.
39
TSN, January 15, 2001, pp. 37-38.
40
Id., pp. 51-53.
41
Id., p. 36.
42
Exhibits "G"-"G-3" - Appellant.
43
Ibid.
44
In R. v. Lavallee, supra.
45
Ibid.
46
Fiona E. Raitt and M. Suzanne Zeedyk, The Implicit Relation of Psychology and Law: Women and
Syndrome Evidence, pp. 66-67 (Exh. D).
47
Walker, Terrifying Love, p. 47.
48
TSN, January 15, 2001, p. 18.
49
Id., p. 20.
50
TSN, February 9, 2001, pp. 11-13.
51
Id., p. 14.
52
Walker, Terrifying Love, p. 48.
53
Id., pp. 49-50.
54
Ibid.

55

Dr. Lenore Walker's testimony before the court in Ibn-Tamas, supra.


Psychologist Nancy Kaser-Boyd testifying as an expert on the battered woman syndrome in Depetris,
supra.
57
Dr. Lenore Walker's testimony before the court in Ibn-Tamas, supra.
58
Her biological parents lived separately.
59
State v. Kelly, 655 P.2d 1202, 1203 (1982).
60
"The case would rise or fall on whether . . . [appellant] acted in actual fear of imminent harm from her
husband when she shot [or injured] him . . . ." Depetris v. Kuykendall, supra. See also People v. Torres, 128
Misc2d 129, 488 NYS.2d 358.
61
People v. PO3 Langres, 375 Phil. 240, 258, October 13, 1999.
62
See also People v. Plazo, 350 SCRA 433, January 29, 2001; People v. Cario, 351 Phil. 644, March 31,
1998; People v. Timblor, 348 Phil. 847, January 27, 1998.
63
People v. Saul, 372 SCRA 636, December 19, 2001.
64
People v. Galapin, 355 Phil. 212, July 31, 1998; People v. Panes, 343 Phil. 878, August 29, 1997.
65
State v. Gallegos, 104 NM 247, 719 P.2d 1268, citing Eber, The Battered Wife's Dilemma: To Kill or To Be
Killed, 32 Hasting LJ 895, 928 (1981).
66
Id., citing State v. Walker, 40 Wash.App. 658, 700 P.2d 1168 (1985).
67
People v. Saul, supra.
68
People v. Bato, 348 SCRA 253, December 15, 2000.
69
People v. Maquiling, 368 Phil. 169, June 21, 1999; People v. Discalsota, GR No. 136892, April 11, 2002.
70
Exhibits "B" et seq. - Appellant, p. 10.
71
TSN, February 9, 2001, p. 19.
72
Id., pp. 15-17.
73
Id., p. 54.
74
"Art. 13. Mitigating Circumstances. The following are mitigating circumstances:
xxx
xxx
xxx
"9. Such illness of the offender as would diminish the exercise of the will-power of the offender without
however depriving him of the consciousness of his acts."
75
"10. And, finally, any other circumstances of a similar nature and analogous to those above mentioned."
76
See People v. Javier, 370 Phil. 596, July 28, 1999; People v. Amit, 82 Phil. 820, February 15, 1949;
People v. Francisco, 78 Phil. 694, July 16, 1947; People v. Balneg, 79 Phil. 805, January 9, 1948.
77
People v. Lobino, 375 Phil. 1065, October 28, 1999; People v. Valles, 334 Phil. 763, January 28, 1997.
78
I Reyes, The Revised Penal Code, p. 272 (1998).
79
According to Dr. Lenore Walker, batterers commonly "escalate their abusiveness" when their wives are
pregnant.
80
Id., pp. 17-18.
81
People v. Cabande, 381 Phil. 889, February 8, 2000.
82
People v. Llanes, 381 Phil. 733, February 4, 2000.
83
People v. Albao, 383 Phil. 873, March 2, 2000; People v. Aguilar, 354 Phil. 360, July 10, 1998.
84
TSN, August 6, 1998, pp. 26-32.
85
People v. Buluran, 382 Phil. 364, February 15, 2000; People v. Ereo, 383 Phil. 30, February 22, 2000.
86
People v. Caete, 44 Phil. 478, February 5, 1923; People v. Narvaez, 206 Phil. 314, April 20, 1983.
87
People v. Aguilar, supra.
88
"Art. 64. Rules for the application of penalties which contain three periods.
xxx
xxx
xxx
"5. When there are two or more mitigating circumstances and no aggravating circumstances are present,
the court shall impose the penalty next lower to that prescribed by law, in the period that it may deem
applicable, according to the number and nature of such circumstances."
xxx
xxx
xxx
89
People v. Narvaez, 206 Phil. 314, April 20, 1983; Guevarra v. Court of Appeals, 187 SCRA 484, July 16,
1990.
90
Basan v. People, 61 SCRA 275, November 29, 1974.
91
5, Indeterminate Sentence Law (Act 4103, as amended).
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
1
People v. Genosa, G.R. No. 135981, 29 September 2000, 341 SCRA 493, 498.
2
TSN, August 6, 1998, pp. 22-30; 47-49; 50-51.
3
Id., pp. 8-13, 18.
4
Exhibit 1, Compilation of Exhibits, p. 44.
5
TSN, August 6, 1998, pp. 12-13; 36-37.
6
Id., pp. 27-28.
7
Id., pp. 31-32.
8
TSN, August 5, 1998, pp. 21-31.
9
TSN, January 15, 2001, pp. 38-40.
10
Id., pp. 74-75.
11
TSN, August 6, 1998, pp. 22-25.
12
Id., pp. 47-49.
13
Id., pp. 25-26.
14
Id., p. 34.
15
Id., pp. 26-30.
16
Id., pp. 50-51.
17
G.R. No. 130654, 28 July 1999.
18
Supra, at 581-582.
56

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 149275
September 27, 2004

VICKY C. TY, petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.
DECISION
TINGA, J.:
Petitioner Vicky C. Ty ("Ty") filed the instant Petition for Review under Rule 45, seeking to set aside the Decision1of the
Court of Appeals Eighth Division in CA-G.R. CR No. 20995, promulgated on 31 July 2001. The Decisionaffirmed with
modification the judgment of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 19, dated 21 April 1997, finding her guilty of
seven (7) counts of violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 222 (B.P. 22), otherwise known as the Bouncing Checks Law.
This case stemmed from the filing of seven (7) Informations for violation of B.P. 22 against Ty before the RTC of Manila.
The Informations were docketed as Criminal Cases No. 93-130459 to No. 93-130465. The accusatory portion of
the Information in Criminal Case No. 93-130465 reads as follows:
That on or about May 30, 1993, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused did then and there willfully, unlawfully
and feloniously make or draw and issue to Manila Doctors Hospital to apply on account or for value to Editha L. Vecino
Check No. Metrobank 487712 dated May 30, 1993 payable to Manila Doctors Hospital in the amount of P30,000.00, said
accused well knowing that at the time of issue she did not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for
payment of such check in full upon its presentment, which check when presented for payment within ninety (90) days from
the date hereof, was subsequently dishonored by the drawee bank for "Account Closed" and despite receipt of notice of
such dishonor, said accused failed to pay said Manila Doctors Hospital the amount of the check or to make arrangement
for full payment of the same within five (5) banking days after receiving said notice.
Contrary to law.3
The other Informations are similarly worded except for the number of the checks and dates of issue. The data are
hereunder itemized as follows:
Criminal Case No.

Check No.

Postdated

Amount

93-130459

487710

30 March 1993

P30,000.00

93-130460

487711

30 April 1993

P30,000.00

93-130461

487709

01 March 1993

P30,000.00

93-130462

487707

30 December 1992

P30,000.00

93-130463

487706

30 November 1992

P30,000.00

93-130464

487708

30 January 1993

P30,000.00

93-130465

487712

30 May 1993

P30,000.004

The cases were consolidated and jointly tried. At her arraignment, Ty pleaded not guilty.5
The evidence for the prosecution shows that Tys mother Chua Lao So Un was confined at the Manila Doctors Hospital
(hospital) from 30 October 1990 until 4 June 1992. Being the patients daughter, Ty signed the "Acknowledgment of
Responsibility for Payment" in the Contract of Admission dated 30 October 1990. 6 As of 4 June 1992, the Statement of
Account7 shows the total liability of the mother in the amount of P657,182.40. Tys sister, Judy Chua, was also confined at
the hospital from 13 May 1991 until 2 May 1992, incurring hospital bills in the amount of P418,410.55.8 The total hospital
bills of the two patients amounted to P1,075,592.95. On 5 June 1992, Ty executed a promissory note wherein she
assumed payment of the obligation in installments. 9 To assure payment of the obligation, she drew several postdated
checks against Metrobank payable to the hospital. The seven (7) checks, each covering the amount of P30,000.00, were
all deposited on their due dates. But they were all dishonored by the drawee bank and returned unpaid to the hospital due
to insufficiency of funds, with the "Account Closed" advice. Soon thereafter, the complainant hospital sent demand letters
to Ty by registered mail. As the demand letters were not heeded, complainant filed the seven (7) Informations subject of
the instant case.10
For her defense, Ty claimed that she issued the checks because of "an uncontrollable fear of a greater injury." She
averred that she was forced to issue the checks to obtain release for her mother whom the hospital inhumanely and
harshly treated and would not discharge unless the hospital bills are paid. She alleged that her mother was deprived of
room facilities, such as the air-condition unit, refrigerator and television set, and subject to inconveniences such as the
cutting off of the telephone line, late delivery of her mothers food and refusal to change the latters gown and bedsheets.
She also bewailed the hospitals suspending medical treatment of her mother. The "debasing treatment," she pointed out,
so affected her mothers mental, psychological and physical health that the latter contemplated suicide if she would not be
discharged from the hospital. Fearing the worst for her mother, and to comply with the demands of the hospital, Ty was
compelled to sign a promissory note, open an account with Metrobank and issue the checks to effect her mothers
immediate discharge.11
Giving full faith and credence to the evidence offered by the prosecution, the trial court found that Ty issued the checks
subject of the case in payment of the hospital bills of her mother and rejected the theory of the defense. 12Thus, on 21 April
1997, the trial court rendered a Decision finding Ty guilty of seven (7) counts of violation of B.P. 22 and sentencing her to
a prison term. The dispositive part of the Decision reads:
CONSEQUENTLY, the accused Vicky C. Ty, for her acts of issuing seven (7) checks in payment of a valid obligation,
which turned unfounded on their respective dates of maturity, is found guilty of seven (7) counts of violations of Batas
Pambansa Blg. 22, and is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of imprisonment of SIX MONTHS per count or a total of
forty-two (42) months.
SO ORDERED.13

Ty interposed an appeal from the Decision of the trial court. Before the Court of Appeals, Ty reiterated her defense that
she issued the checks "under the impulse of an uncontrollable fear of a greater injury or in avoidance of a greater evil or
injury." She also argued that the trial court erred in finding her guilty when evidence showed there was absence of
valuable consideration for the issuance of the checks and the payee had knowledge of the insufficiency of funds in the
account. She protested that the trial court should not have applied the law mechanically, without due regard to the
principles of justice and equity.14
In its Decision dated 31 July 2001, the appellate court affirmed the judgment of the trial court with modification. It set aside
the penalty of imprisonment and instead sentenced Ty "to pay a fine of sixty thousand pesos (P60,000.00) equivalent to
double the amount of the check, in each case." 15
In its assailed Decision, the Court of Appeals rejected Tys defenses of involuntariness in the issuance of the checks and
the hospitals knowledge of her checking accounts lack of funds. It held that B.P. 22 makes the mere act of issuing a
worthless check punishable as a special offense, it being a malum prohibitum. What the law punishes is the issuance of a
bouncing check and not the purpose for which it was issued nor the terms and conditions relating to its issuance. 16
Neither was the Court of Appeals convinced that there was no valuable consideration for the issuance of the checks as
they were issued in payment of the hospital bills of Tys mother.17
In sentencing Ty to pay a fine instead of a prison term, the appellate court applied the case of Vaca v. Court of
Appeals18 wherein this Court declared that in determining the penalty imposed for violation of B.P. 22, the philosophy
underlying the Indeterminate Sentence Law should be observed, i.e., redeeming valuable human material and preventing
unnecessary deprivation of personal liberty and economic usefulness, with due regard to the protection of the social
order.19
Petitioner now comes to this Court basically alleging the same issues raised before the Court of Appeals. More
specifically, she ascribed errors to the appellate court based on the following grounds:
A. THERE IS CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE THAT PETITIONER WAS FORCED TO OR COMPELLED IN THE
OPENING OF THE ACCOUNT AND THE ISSUANCE OF THE SUBJECT CHECKS.
B. THE CHECKS WERE ISSUED UNDER THE IMPULSE OF AN UNCONTROLLABLE FEAR OF A GREATER INJURY
OR IN AVOIDANCE OF A GREATER EVIL OR INJURY.
C. THE EVIDENCE ON RECORD PATENTLY SHOW[S] ABSENCE OF VALUABLE CONSIDERATION IN THE
ISSUANCE OF THE SUBJECT CHECKS.
D. IT IS AN UNDISPUTED FACT THAT THE PAYEE OF THE CHECKS WAS FULLY AWARE OF THE LACK OF
FUNDS IN THE ACCOUNT.
E. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, AS WELL AS THE HONORABLE TRIAL COURT [,] SHOULD NOT HAVE
APPLIED CRIMINAL LAW MECHANICALLY, WITHOUT DUE REGARD TO THE PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE AND
EQUITY.
In its Memorandum,20 the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), citing jurisprudence, contends that a check issued as an
evidence of debt, though not intended to be presented for payment, has the same effect as an ordinary check; hence, it
falls within the ambit of B.P. 22. And when a check is presented for payment, the drawee bank will generally accept the
same, regardless of whether it was issued in payment of an obligation or merely to guarantee said obligation. What the
law punishes is the issuance of a bouncing check, not the purpose for which it was issued nor the terms and conditions
relating to its issuance. The mere act of issuing a worthless check is malum prohibitum.21
We find the petition to be without merit and accordingly sustain Tys conviction.
Well-settled is the rule that the factual findings and conclusions of the trial court and the Court of Appeals are entitled to
great weight and respect, and will not be disturbed on appeal in the absence of any clear showing that the trial court
overlooked certain facts or circumstances which would substantially affect the disposition of the case. 22 Jurisdiction of this
Court over cases elevated from the Court of Appeals is limited to reviewing or revising errors of law ascribed to the Court
of Appeals whose factual findings are conclusive, and carry even more weight when said court affirms the findings of the
trial court, absent any showing that the findings are totally devoid of support in the record or that they are so glaringly
erroneous as to constitute serious abuse of discretion.23
In the instant case, the Court discerns no compelling reason to reverse the factual findings arrived at by the trial court and
affirmed by the Court of Appeals.
Ty does not deny having issued the seven (7) checks subject of this case. She, however, claims that the issuance of the
checks was under the impulse of an uncontrollable fear of a greater injury or in avoidance of a greater evil or injury. She
would also have the Court believe that there was no valuable consideration in the issuance of the checks.
However, except for the defenses claim of uncontrollable fear of a greater injury or avoidance of a greater evil or injury, all
the grounds raised involve factual issues which are best determined by the trial court. And, as previously intimated, the
trial court had in fact discarded the theory of the defense and rendered judgment accordingly.
Moreover, these arguments are a mere rehash of arguments unsuccessfully raised before the trial court and the Court of
Appeals. They likewise put to issue factual questions already passed upon twice below, rather than questions of law
appropriate for review under a Rule 45 petition.
The only question of law raised--whether the defense of uncontrollable fear is tenable to warrant her exemption from
criminal liability--has to be resolved in the negative. For this exempting circumstance to be invoked successfully, the
following requisites must concur: (1) existence of an uncontrollable fear; (2) the fear must be real and imminent; and (3)
the fear of an injury is greater than or at least equal to that committed. 24
It must appear that the threat that caused the uncontrollable fear is of such gravity and imminence that the ordinary man
would have succumbed to it.25 It should be based on a real, imminent or reasonable fear for ones life or limb. 26 A mere
threat of a future injury is not enough. It should not be speculative, fanciful, or remote. 27 A person invoking uncontrollable
fear must show therefore that the compulsion was such that it reduced him to a mere instrument acting not only without
will but against his will as well.28 It must be of such character as to leave no opportunity to the accused for escape. 29
In this case, far from it, the fear, if any, harbored by Ty was not real and imminent. Ty claims that she was compelled to
issue the checks--a condition the hospital allegedly demanded of her before her mother could be discharged--for fear that
her mothers health might deteriorate further due to the inhumane treatment of the hospital or worse, her mother might
commit suicide. This is speculative fear; it is not the uncontrollable fear contemplated by law.
To begin with, there was no showing that the mothers illness was so life-threatening such that her continued stay in the
hospital suffering all its alleged unethical treatment would induce a well-grounded apprehension of her death. Secondly, it
is not the laws intent to say that any fear exempts one from criminal liability much less petitioners flimsy fear that her

mother might commit suicide. In other words, the fear she invokes was not impending or insuperable as to deprive her of
all volition and to make her a mere instrument without will, moved exclusively by the hospitals threats or demands.
Ty has also failed to convince the Court that she was left with no choice but to commit a crime. She did not take
advantage of the many opportunities available to her to avoid committing one. By her very own words, she admitted that
the collateral or security the hospital required prior to the discharge of her mother may be in the form of postdated checks
or jewelry.30 And if indeed she was coerced to open an account with the bank and issue the checks, she had all the
opportunity to leave the scene to avoid involvement.
Moreover, petitioner had sufficient knowledge that the issuance of checks without funds may result in a violation of B.P.
22. She even testified that her counsel advised her not to open a current account nor issue postdated checks "because
the moment I will not have funds it will be a big problem." 31 Besides, apart from petitioners bare assertion, the record is
bereft of any evidence to corroborate and bolster her claim that she was compelled or coerced to cooperate with and give
in to the hospitals demands.
Ty likewise suggests in the prefatory statement of her Petition and Memorandum that the justifying circumstance of state
of necessity under par. 4, Art. 11 of the Revised Penal Code may find application in this case.
We do not agree. The law prescribes the presence of three requisites to exempt the actor from liability under this
paragraph: (1) that the evil sought to be avoided actually exists; (2) that the injury feared be greater than the one done to
avoid it; (3) that there be no other practical and less harmful means of preventing it. 32
In the instant case, the evil sought to be avoided is merely expected or anticipated. If the evil sought to be avoided is
merely expected or anticipated or may happen in the future, this defense is not applicable. 33 Ty could have taken
advantage of an available option to avoid committing a crime. By her own admission, she had the choice to give jewelry or
other forms of security instead of postdated checks to secure her obligation.
Moreover, for the defense of state of necessity to be availing, the greater injury feared should not have been brought
about by the negligence or imprudence, more so, the willful inaction of the actor.34 In this case, the issuance of the
bounced checks was brought about by Tys own failure to pay her mothers hospital bills.
The Court also thinks it rather odd that Ty has chosen the exempting circumstance of uncontrollable fear and the justifying
circumstance of state of necessity to absolve her of liability. It would not have been half as bizarre had Ty been able to
prove that the issuance of the bounced checks was done without her full volition. Under the circumstances, however, it is
quite clear that neither uncontrollable fear nor avoidance of a greater evil or injury prompted the issuance of the bounced
checks.
Parenthetically, the findings of fact in the Decision of the trial court in the Civil Case35 for damages filed by Tys mother
against the hospital is wholly irrelevant for purposes of disposing the case at bench. While the findings therein may
establish a claim for damages which, we may add, need only be supported by a preponderance of evidence, it does not
necessarily engender reasonable doubt as to free Ty from liability.
As to the issue of consideration, it is presumed, upon issuance of the checks, in the absence of evidence to the contrary,
that the same was issued for valuable consideration. 36 Section 2437 of the Negotiable Instruments Law creates a
presumption that every party to an instrument acquired the same for a consideration 38 or for value.39 In alleging otherwise,
Ty has the onus to prove that the checks were issued without consideration. She must present convincing evidence to
overthrow the presumption.
A scrutiny of the records reveals that petitioner failed to discharge her burden of proof. "Valuable consideration may in
general terms, be said to consist either in some right, interest, profit, or benefit accruing to the party who makes the
contract, or some forbearance, detriment, loss or some responsibility, to act, or labor, or service given, suffered or
undertaken by the other aide. Simply defined, valuable consideration means an obligation to give, to do, or not to do in
favor of the party who makes the contract, such as the maker or indorser." 40
In this case, Tys mother and sister availed of the services and the facilities of the hospital. For the care given to her kin,
Ty had a legitimate obligation to pay the hospital by virtue of her relationship with them and by force of her signature on
her mothers Contract of Admission acknowledging responsibility for payment, and on the promissory note she executed
in favor of the hospital.
Anent Tys claim that the obligation to pay the hospital bills was not her personal obligation because she was not the
patient, and therefore there was no consideration for the checks, the case of Bridges v. Vann, et al.41 tells us that "it is no
defense to an action on a promissory note for the maker to say that there was no consideration which was beneficial to
him personally; it is sufficient if the consideration was a benefit conferred upon a third person, or a detriment suffered by
the promisee, at the instance of the promissor. It is enough if the obligee foregoes some right or privilege or suffers some
detriment and the release and extinguishment of the original obligation of George Vann, Sr., for that of appellants meets
the requirement. Appellee accepted one debtor in place of another and gave up a valid, subsisting obligation for the note
executed by the appellants. This, of itself, is sufficient consideration for the new notes."
At any rate, the law punishes the mere act of issuing a bouncing check, not the purpose for which it was issued nor the
terms and conditions relating to its issuance.42 B.P. 22 does not make any distinction as to whether the checks within its
contemplation are issued in payment of an obligation or to merely guarantee the obligation. 43The thrust of the law is to
prohibit the making of worthless checks and putting them into circulation. 44 As this Court held in Lim v. People of the
Philippines,45 "what is primordial is that such issued checks were worthless and the fact of its worthlessness is known to
the appellant at the time of their issuance, a required element under B.P. Blg. 22."
The law itself creates a prima facie presumption of knowledge of insufficiency of funds. Section 2 of B.P. 22 provides:
Section 2. Evidence of knowledge of insufficient funds. - The making, drawing and issuance of a check payment of which
is refused by the drawee bank because of insufficient funds in or credit with such bank, when presented within ninety (90)
days from the date of the check, shall be prima facie evidence of knowledge of such insufficiency of funds or credit unless
such maker or drawer pays the holder thereof the amount due thereon, or makes arrangements for payment in full by the
drawee of such check within five (5) banking days after receiving notice that such check has not been paid by the drawee.
Such knowledge is legally presumed from the dishonor of the checks for insufficiency of funds. 46 If not rebutted, it suffices
to sustain a conviction.47
Petitioner likewise opines that the payee was aware of the fact that she did not have sufficient funds with the drawee bank
and such knowledge necessarily exonerates her liability.
The knowledge of the payee of the insufficiency or lack of funds of the drawer with the drawee bank is immaterial as
deceit is not an essential element of an offense penalized by B.P. 22. The gravamen of the offense is the issuance of a
bad check, hence, malice and intent in the issuance thereof is inconsequential. 48

In addition, Ty invokes our ruling in Magno v. Court of Appeals49 wherein this Court inquired into the true nature of
transaction between the drawer and the payee and finally acquitted the accused, to persuade the Court that the
circumstances surrounding her case deserve special attention and do not warrant a strict and mechanical application of
the law.
Petitioners reliance on the case is misplaced. The material operative facts therein obtaining are different from those
established in the instant petition. In the 1992 case, the bounced checks were issued to cover a "warranty deposit" in a
lease contract, where the lessor-supplier was also the financier of the deposit. It was a modus operandi whereby the
supplier was able to sell or lease the goods while privately financing those in desperate need so they may be
accommodated. The maker of the check thus became an unwilling victim of a lease agreement under the guise of a leasepurchase agreement. The maker did not benefit at all from the deposit, since the checks were used as collateral for an
accommodation and not to cover the receipt of an actual account or credit for value.
In the case at bar, the checks were issued to cover the receipt of an actual "account or for value." Substantial evidence, as
found by the trial court and Court of Appeals, has established that the checks were issued in payment of the hospital bills
of Tys mother.
Finally, we agree with the Court of Appeals in deleting the penalty of imprisonment, absent any proof that petitioner was
not a first-time offender nor that she acted in bad faith. Administrative Circular 12-2000, 50 adopting the rulings in Vaca v.
Court of Appeals51 and Lim v. People,52 authorizes the non-imposition of the penalty of imprisonment in B.P. 22 cases
subject to certain conditions. However, the Court resolves to modify the penalty in view of Administrative Circular 13200153 which clarified Administrative 12-2000. It is stated therein:
The clear tenor and intention of Administrative Circular No. 12-2000 is not to remove imprisonment as an alternative
penalty, but to lay down a rule of preference in the application of the penalties provided for in B.P. Blg. 22.
Thus, Administrative Circular 12-2000 establishes a rule of preference in the application of the penal provisions of B.P.
Blg. 22 such that where the circumstances of both the offense and the offender clearly indicate good faith or a clear
mistake of fact without taint of negligence, the imposition of a fine alone should be considered as the more appropriate
penalty. Needless to say, the determination of whether circumstances warrant the imposition of a fine alone rests solely
upon the Judge. Should the judge decide that imprisonment is the more appropriate penalty, Administrative Circular No.
12-2000 ought not be deemed a hindrance.
It is therefore understood that: (1) Administrative Circular 12-2000 does not remove imprisonment as an alternative
penalty for violations of B.P. 22; (2) the judges concerned may, in the exercise of sound discretion, and taking into
consideration the peculiar circumstances of each case, determine whether the imposition of a fine alone would best serve
the interests of justice, or whether forbearing to impose imprisonment would depreciate the seriousness of the offense,
work violence on the social order, or otherwise be contrary to the imperatives of justice; (3) should only a fine be imposed
and the accused unable to pay the fine, there is no legal obstacle to the application of the Revised Penal Code provisions
on subsidiary imprisonment.54
WHEREFORE, the instant Petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals, dated 31 July 2001,
finding petitioner Vicky C. Ty GUILTY of violating Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 is AFFIRMED withMODIFICATIONS.
Petitioner Vicky C. Ty is ORDERED to pay a FINE equivalent to double the amount of each dishonored check subject of
the seven cases at bar with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency in accordance with Article 39 of the Revised
Penal Code. She is also ordered to pay private complainant, Manila Doctors Hospital, the amount of Two Hundred Ten
Thousand Pesos (P210,000.00) representing the total amount of the dishonored checks. Costs against the petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Puno, Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr., and Chico-Nazario*, JJ., concur.
Footnotes
1
Penned by Justice Perlita J. Tria Tirona, concurred in by Justices Eugenio S. Labitoria and Eloy R. Bello, Jr.
2
Entitled "An Act Penalizing the Making or Drawing and Issuance of a Check Without Sufficient Funds or Credit and for
Other Purposes."
3
Rollo, p. 44; See also Rollo, pp. 92 and 109.
4
Ibid; See also Rollo, pp. 62 and 93.
5
Id. at 44, 62, 93.
6
Id. at 46; Exhibits C and C-1.
7
Ibid.; Exhibits D, D-1 to D-3.
8
Exhibit D-4.
9
Supra, note 3 at 61, citing Exhibits E and E-1.
10
Id. at 46-47; See also Respondents Comment, Rollo, pp. 60-61 and Respondents Memorandum, Rollo, pp. 90-91.
11
Id. at 47 and 49.
12
Id. at 48.
13
Id. at 44-45; Written by Honorable Zenaida R. Daguna, Presiding Judge.
14
Id. at 51.
15
Id. at 53.
16
Id. at 51-52; Citations omitted.
17
Id. at 51.
18
G.R. No. 131714, 16 November 1998, 298 SCRA 656, 659.
19
Supra, note 3 at 53.
20
Id. at 90-102; Dated 11 September 2002.
21
Id. at 95-96; Citations omitted.
22
Spouses Villarico v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 105912, 28 June 1999, 309 SCRA 193; Lim v. People, G.R. No. 143231,
26 October 2001, 368 SCRA 436.
23
Alipoon v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 127523, 22 March 1999, 305 SCRA 118; Perez v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No.
107737, 1 October 1999, 316 SCRA 43; Baguio v. Republic of the Philippines, G.R. No. 119682, 21 January 1999, 301
SCRA 450; Lim v. People, G.R. No. 143231, 26 October 2001, 368 SCRA 436.
24
People v. Petenia, No. L-51256, 12 August 1986, 143 SCRA 361, 369.
25
U.S. v. Elicanal, No. 11439, 35 Phil 209, 212, 213 (1916).
26
People v. Abanes, No. L-30609, 28 September 1976, 73 SCRA 44, 47; People v. Loreno, No. L-54414, 9 July 1984, 130
SCRA 311, 321, 322; People v. Serrano, No. L-45382, 13 May 1985, 136 SCRA 399, 405.

27

People v. Jesus, No. L-2313, 88 Phil. 53, 56 (1951); People v. Palencia, No. L-38957, 30 April 1976, 71 SCRA 679,
690; See also Aquino, The Revised Penal Code, 1997 Edition, Vol. 1, p. 234 and Gregorio, Fundamentals of Criminal Law
Review, 1997 Edition, p. 79.
28
People v. Tami, G.R. Nos. 101801-03, 2 May 1995, 244 SCRA 1, 23.
29
People v. Villanueva, No. L-9529, 104 Phil. 450, 464 (1958), Citation omitted; People v. De Los Reyes, G.R. No. 44112,
22 October 1992, 215 SCRA 63, 70; See also People v. Nuez, G.R. Nos. 112429-30, 341 Phil 817, 828 (1997).
30
Supra, note 3 at 15 and 112; See also TSN dated September 19, 1994, p. 24.
31
TSN dated September 19, 1994, p. 25.
32
Par. 4, Art. 11, Revised Penal Code.
33
Reyes, The Revised Penal Code, 1998 Edition, Book 1, p. 191.
34
Id. at 192.
35
Entitled "So Un Chua v. Manila Doctors Hospital," Civil Case No. 63958, Regional Trial Court of Pasig, Branch 159.
36
Lim v. People, G.R. No. 143231, 26 October 2001, 368 SCRA 436; Sec. 24, The Negotiable Instruments Law.
37
SEC. 24. Presumption of consideration.- Every negotiable instrument is deemed prima facie to have been issued for
valuable consideration; and every person whose signature appears thereon to have become a party thereto, for value.
38
SEC. 25. Value; What constitutes.- Value is any consideration sufficient to support a simple contract. An antecedent or
pre-existing debt constitutes value, and is deemed such whether the instrument is payable on demand or at a future date.
39
SEC. 191. Definitions and meaning of terms.- In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires:
xxx
"Value" means valuable consideration.
40
Agbayani, Aguedo, Commentaries and Jurisprudence on the Commercial Laws of the Philippines, 1992 Edition, p. 235;
Citations omitted.
41
88 Kan 98, 127 Pacific Reporter 604, 9 November 1912; Citations omitted.
42
Llamado v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 99032, 26 March 1997, 270 SCRA 423; Aguirre v. People, G.R. No. 144142, 23
August 2001, 363 SCRA 672; Abarquez v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 148557, 7 August 2003, 408 SCRA 500; Lazaro v.
Court of Appeals. G.R. No. 105461, 11 November 1993, 227 SCRA 723.
43
Llamado v. Court of Appeals, supra.
44
Caram Resources Corp. v. Contreras, Adm. Matter No. MJT-93-849, 26 October 1994, 237 SCRA 724; Cruz v. Court of
Appeals, G.R. No. 108738, 17 June 1994, 233 SCRA 301.
45
G.R. No. 143231, 26 October 2001, 368 SCRA 436.
46
Meriz v. People, G.R. No. 134498, 13 November 2001, 368 SCRA 524.
47
Rosa Lim v. People. G.R. No. 130038, 18 September 2000, 340 SCRA 497.
48
Cruz v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 108738, 17 June 1994, 233 SCRA 301.
49
G.R. No. 96132, 26 June 1992, 210 SCRA 471.
50
Issued on 21 November 2000.
51
Supra note 14.
52
Supra note 27.
53
Issued on 14 February 2001.
54
Abarquez v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 148557, 7 August 2003, 408 SCRA 500.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 150647

September 29, 2004

ROWENO POMOY, petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.
DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:
Well-established is the principle that the factual findings of the trial court, when affirmed by the
Court of Appeals, are binding on the highest court of the land. However, when facts are
misinterpreted and the innocence of the accused depends on a proper appreciation of the factual
conclusions, the Supreme Court may conduct a review thereof. In the present case, a careful
reexamination convinces this Court that an "accident" caused the victims death. At the very
least, the testimonies of the credible witnesses create a reasonable doubt on appellants guilt.
Hence, the Court must uphold the constitutional presumption of innocence.
The Case
Before us is a Petition for Review1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeking to set aside the
February 28, 2001 Decision2 and the October 30, 2001 Resolution3 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in
CAGR CR No. 18759. The CA affirmed, with modifications, the March 8, 1995 judgment 4 of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC)5 of Iloilo City (Branch 25) in Criminal Case No. 36921, finding Roweno
Pomoy guilty of the crime of homicide. The assailed CA Decision disposed as follows:
"WHEREFORE, premises considered, MODIFIED as to penalty in the sense that the [Petitioner]
ROWENO POMOY is sentenced to suffer an indeterminate prison term of six (6) years, four (4)
months and ten (10) days of prision mayor minimum, as minimum, to fourteen (14) years eight
(8) months and twenty (20) days of reclusion temporal medium, as maximum, the decision
appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED in all other respects." 6
The challenged CA Resolution denied petitioners Motion for Reconsideration.
Petitioner was charged in an Information worded thus:
"That on or about the 4th day of January 1990, in the Municipality of Sara, Province of Iloilo,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, armed
with his .45 service pistol, with deliberate intent and decided purpose to kill, and without any
justifiable cause or motive, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously assault, attack
and shoot one TOMAS BALBOA with the service pistol he was then provided, inflicting upon the
latter gunshot wounds on the vital parts of his body, which directly caused the death of said
victim thereafter."7
The Facts
Version of the Prosecution
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) presented respondents version of the facts as follows:
"Tomas Balboa was a master teacher of the Concepcion College of Science and Fisheries in
Concepcion, Iloilo.
"On January 4, 1990, about 7:30 in the morning, some policemen arrived at the Concepcion
College to arrest Balboa, allegedly in connection with a robbery which took place in the
municipality in December 1989. With the arrest effected, Balboa and the policemen passed by
the Concepcion Elementary School where his wife, Jessica, was in a get-together party with other
School Administrators. When his wife asked him, Why will you be arrested? [H]e answered
[Even I] do not know why I am arrested. That is why I am even going there in order to find out
the reason for my arrest.
"Balboa was taken to the Headquarters of the already defunct 321st Philippine Constabulary
Company at Camp Jalandoni, Sara, Iloilo. He was detained in the jail thereat, along with Edgar
Samudio, another suspect in the robbery case.
"Later that day, about a little past 2 oclock in the afternoon, petitioner, who is a police sergeant,
went near the door of the jail where Balboa was detained and directed the latter to come out,
purportedly for tactical interrogation at the investigation room, as he told Balboa: Lets go to the
investigation room. The investigation room is at the main building of the compound where the
jail is located. The jail guard on duty, Nicostrado Estepar, opened the jail door and walked
towards the investigation room.

"At that time, petitioner had a gun, a .45 caliber pistol, tucked in a holster which was hanging by
the side of his belt. The gun was fully embedded in its holster, with only the handle of the gun
protruding from the holster.
"When petitioner and Balboa reached the main building and were near the investigation room,
two (2) gunshots were heard. When the source of the shots was verified, petitioner was seen still
holding a .45 caliber pistol, facing Balboa, who was lying in a pool of blood, about two (2) feet
away. When the Commanding Officer of the Headquarters arrived, he disarmed petitioner and
directed that Balboa be brought to the hospital. Dr. Palma (first name not provided) happened to
be at the crime scene as he was visiting his brother in the Philippine Constabulary. When Dr.
Palma examined Balboa, he (Dr. Palma) said that it was unnecessary to bring Balboa to the
hospital for he was dead.
"Upon the request of Mrs. Jessica Balboa, the wife of the deceased, Dr. Ricardo Jabonete, the
medico-legal officer of the National Bureau of Investigation, Region VI, Iloilo City, conducted an
autopsy on the remains of Tomas Balboa. The following were his findings:
Pallor, integumens and nailbeds.
Wound, gunshot: (1) ENTRANCE, downwards and medially, edges, modified by sutures,
surrounded by abrasion collar, 0.6 cm. In its chest, left side, 10.0 cms. from anterior midline,
121.0 cms. From left heel, directed medially backwards from left to right, penetrating chest wall
thru 5th intercostals space into thoracic cavity, perforating thru and thru, upper lobe, left lung,
lacerating left ventricular wall causing punched out fracture, 8th thoracic vertebra and make an
EXIT, stallate in shape, 1.0 x 0.8 cm. Edges, modified by sutures, back, right side, 8.0 cms. From
posterior midline, 117.0 cms. From right heel (2) ENTRANCE, ovaloid, oriented medially
downwards, edges sutured, 0.7 cm. on its widest portion, at infero-medial border, hypochondriac
region, left side, 4.0 cms. From anterior midline, 105.0 cms. From left heel, directed backwards,
laterally wall into penetrating abdominal cavity, perforating thru and thru, stomach, head of the
pancreas and mesentery, make an exit, ovalid, 1.0 x 0.8 cm., oriented medially upwards, edges,
sutured, back, left side, level of 9th intercostal space, 4.5 cms. From posterior midline, 110.0
cms. From left heel. x x x.
CAUSE OF DEATH: Hemorrhage, massive secondary to gunshot wounds on chest and abdomen.
REMARKS: Body previously embalmed and autopsied.
"Dr. Jaboneta testified that the two (2) wounds he found on x x x Balboas body were gunshot
wounds. The entrance of [W]ound No. 1 was to the left side of the chest about the left nipple and
exited to the right side of the back. Its trajectory was backwards then downwards from left to
right. As to the possible position of the assailant, Dr. Jaboneta opined that the nozzle of the gun
was probably in front of the victim and was more to the left side, and the gun must have been a
little bit higher than the entrance wound. Wound No. 2 was located immediately below the arch
of the ribs, left side. Its direction was backwards and laterally upwards. Dr. Jaboneta estimated
that when it was inflicted, the assailant must have pointed the guns nozzle to the right side front
of the victim. The distance between the entrance points of wounds No. 1 and No. 2 was found to
be about 16.0 centimeters."8
Version of the Defense
The Petition adopted the narration of facts in the assailed CA Decision, which in turn culled them
from the trial court. The RTC summarized the testimonies of Defense Witnesses Erna Basa, the
lone eyewitness to the incident; Eden Legaspi; Dr. Salvador Mallo Jr.; and petitioner himself, as
follows:
"Erna Basa:
"x x x [O]n January 4, 1990, she was working in their office in the camp up to the afternoon; at
about past 2 oclock that afternoon while working on the backlogs, she heard some noise and
exchange of words which were not clear, but it seemed there was growing trouble; she opened
the door to verify and saw Roweno Pomoy and Tomas Balboa grappling for the possession of the
gun; she was inside the room and one meter away from the door; Pomoy and Balboa while
grappling were two to three meters away from the door; the grappling happened so fast and the
gun of Pomoy was suddenly pulled out from its holster and then there was explosion; she was not
certain who pulled the gun. x x x.
"Eden Legaspi:
"x x x [A]s early as 1:30 oclock in the afternoon of January 4, 1990 she was inside the
investigation room of the PC at Camp Jalandoni, Sara, Iloilo; at about 2 oclock that same
afternoon while there inside, she heard a commotion outside and she remained seated on the
bench; when the commotion started they were seated on the bench and after the commotion
that woman soldier (referring to Erna Basa) stood up and opened the door and she saw two
persons grappling for the possession of a gun and immediately two successive shots rang out;
she did not leave the place where she was seated but she just stood up; after the shots, one of
the two men fall down x x x.
"Accused-petitioner Roweno Pomoy:
"He is 30 years old and a PNP member of the Iloilo Provincial Mobile Force Company then
attached to the defunct 321st PC Company; he was one of the investigators of their outfit; about
2 oclock or past that time of January 4, 1990 he got Tomas Balboa from their stockade for

tactical interrogation; as he was already holding the door knob of their investigation room and
about to open and enter it, all of a sudden he saw Tomas Balboa approach him and take hold or
grab the handle of his gun; Tomas Balboa was a suspect in a robbery case who was apprehended
by the police of Concepcion and then turned over to them (PC) and placed in their stockade; he
asked the sergeant of the guard to let Balboa out of the stockade for interrogation; from the
stockade with Balboa walking with him, he had his .45 caliber pistol placed in his holster
attached to his belt on his waist; then as he was holding the doorknob with his right hand to
open the door, the victim, who was two meters away from him, suddenly approached him and
grabbed his gun, but all of a sudden he held the handle of his gun with his left hand; he released
his right hand from the doorknob and, with that right hand, he held the handle of his gun; Tomas
Balboa was not able to take actual hold of the gun because of his efforts in preventing him
(Balboa) from holding the handle of his gun; he used his left hand to parry the move of Balboa;
after he held the handle of his gun with his right hand, in a matter of seconds, he felt somebody
was holding his right hand; he and Balboa grappled and in two or three seconds the gun was
drawn from its holster as both of them held the gun; more grappling followed and five seconds
after the gun was taken from its holster it fired, the victim was to his right side when the attempt
to grab his gun began and was still to his right when the gun was drawn from its holster until it
fired, as they were still grappling or wrestling; his gun was already loaded in its chamber and
cocked when he left his house, and it was locked when it fired; during the grappling he used his
left hand to prevent Balboa from holding his gun, while the victim used his right hand in trying to
reach the gun; after the gun fired, they were separated from each other and Balboa fell; he is
taller than Balboa though the latter was bigger in build; he cannot say nor determine who of
them was stronger; after Balboa fell, Sgt. Alag shouted saying stop that and he saw Sgt. Alag
approaching; sometime after, Capt. Rolando Maclang, their commanding officer, came, got his
gun, and said that the case be investigated as to what really happened. He said that when his
gun was put in its holster only its handle protrudes or comes out from it.
"Upon cross-examination, he said that Balboa was a suspect in a robbery case that happened
during the first week of December, 1989; he was the one who filed that case in the town of San
Dionisio and that case involves other persons who were also detained; before January 4, 1990 he
had also the chance to invite and interrogate Balboa but who denied any robbery case; x x x [I]t
was after he took his lunch that day when Capt. Maclang called him to conduct the interrogation;
when he took Balboa from the stockade he did not tell him that he (Balboa) was to be
investigated in the investigation room which was housed in the main building which is fifty
meters, more or less, from the stockade, likewise houses the administrative office, the office of
the commanding officer, officer of the operations division and that of the signal division; his gun
was in its holster when the victim tried to grab it (gun); from the time he sensed that the victim
tried to grab his gun, he locked the victim; the hand of the victim was on top of his hand and he
felt the victim was attempting to get his gun; that the entire handle of his gun was exposed when
placed inside its holster; he cannot tell whether the victim, while struggling with him, was able to
hold any portion of his gun from the tip of its barrel to the point where its hammer is located;
during the incident his gun was fully loaded and cocked; Sgt. Alag did not approach, but just
viewed them and probably reported the incident to their commanding officer; he was not able to
talk to Sgt. Alag as he (Pomoy) was not in his right sense; when his commanding officer came
some five to ten minutes later and took away his gun he did not tell him anything.
"Dr. Salvador Mallo Jr.
"He is the Rural Health Physician of Sara who conducted the autopsy on the cadaver of Tomas
Balboa that afternoon of January 4, 1990; in his autopsy findings respecting which he made an
autopsy report he said he found two entrance wounds on the victim, the first on the left chest
with trajectory medially downward, while the second one is on the left side of the stomach with
trajectory somewhat going upward; at the same time of his examination he saw this victim to be
wearing a light-colored T-shirt and a jacket; other than the T-shirt worn by the victim, he did not
see or find any powder burns and marks and that those dotted marks in the T-shirt were believed
by him to be powder burns as they look like one; he also found a deformed slug in the pocket of
the jacket of the victim."9
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
The CA anchored its Decision on the following factual findings: 1) the victim was not successful in
his attempts to grab the gun, since petitioner had been in control of the weapon when the shots
were fired; 2) the gun had been locked prior to the alleged grabbing incident and immediately
before it went off; it was petitioner who released the safety lock before he deliberately fired the
fatal shots; and 3) the location of the wounds found on the body of the deceased did not support
the assertion of petitioner that there had been a grappling for the gun.
To the appellate court, all the foregoing facts discredited the claim of petitioner that the death of
Balboa resulted from an accident. Citing People v. Reyes, 10 the CA maintained that "a revolver is
not prone to accidental firing if it were simply handed over to the deceased as appellant claims
because of the nature of its mechanism, unless it was already first cocked and pressure was
exerted on the trigger in the process of allegedly handing it over. If it were uncocked, then
considerable pressure had to be applied on the trigger to fire the revolver. Either way, the

shooting of the deceased must have been intentional because pressure on the trigger was
necessary to make the gun fire."11
Moreover, the appellate court obviously concurred with this observation of the OSG:
"[Petitioners] theory of accident would have been easier to believe had the victim been shot
only once. In this case, however, [petitioner] shot the victim not only once but twice, thereby
establishing [petitioners] determined effort to kill the victim. By any stretch of the imagination,
even assuming without admitting that the first shot was accidental, then it should not have been
followed by another shot on another vital part of the body. The fact that [petitioner] shot the
victim two (2) times and was hit on two different and distant parts of the body, inflicted from two
different locations or angles, means that there was an intent to cause the victims death,
contrary to [petitioners] pretensions of the alleged accidental firing. It is an oft-repeated
principle that the location, number and gravity of the wounds inflicted on the victim have a more
revealing tale of what actually happened during the incident. x x x. 12
Furthermore, the CA debunked the alternative plea of self-defense. It held that petitioner had
miserably failed to prove the attendance of unlawful aggression, an indispensable element of this
justifying circumstance.
While substantially affirming the factual findings of the RTC, the CA disagreed with the conclusion
of the trial court that the aggravating circumstance of abuse of public position had attended the
commission of the crime. Accordingly, the penalty imposed by the RTC was modified by the
appellate court in this manner:
"x x x [F]or public position to be appreciated as an aggravating circumstance, the public official
must use his influence, prestige and ascendancy which his office gives him in realizing his
purpose. If the accused could have perpetrated the crime without occupying his position, then
there is no abuse of public position. (People vs. Joyno, 304 SCRA 655, 670). In the instant case,
there is no showing that the [petitioner] had a premeditated plan to kill the victim when the
former fetched the latter from the stockade, thus, it cannot be concluded that the public position
of the [petitioner] facilitated the commission of the crime. Therefore, the trial courts finding that
the said aggravating circumstance that [petitioner] took advantage of his public position to
commit the crime cannot be sustained. Hence, there being no aggravating and no mitigating
circumstance proved, the maximum of the penalty shall be taken from the medium period of
reclusion temporal, a penalty imposable for the crime of homicide. x x x." 13
Hence, this Petition.14
Issues
In his Memorandum, petitioner submitted the following issues for the Courts consideration:
"I. The Court of Appeals committed serious and reversible error in affirming petitioners
conviction despite the insufficiency of the prosecutions evidence to convict the petitioner, in
contrast to petitioners overwhelming evidence to support his theory/defense of accident.
"II. The Court of Appeals committed grave and reversible error in affirming the conviction of the
petitioner on a manifestly mistaken inference that when the gun fired, the petitioner was in full
control of the handle of the gun, because what the testimonies of disinterested witnesses and
the petitioner reveal was that the gun fired while petitioner and Balboa were both holding the
gun in forceful efforts to wrest the gun from each other.
"III. The Court of Appeals gravely erred in affirming the solicitor generals observation that the
fact that petitioner shot the victim twice establishes petitioners determined effort to kill the
victim.
"IV. The appellate court committed serious misapprehension of the evidence presented when it
ruled that the trajectory of the wounds was front-to-back belying the allegation of petitioner that
he and the victim were side-by-side each other when the grappling ensued.
"V. The Court of Appeals failed to discern the real import of petitioners reaction to the incident
when it stated that the dumbfounded reaction of petitioner after the incident strongly argues
against his claim of accidental shooting.
"VI. The appellate court committed grave error when it disregarded motive or lack of it in
determining the existence of voluntariness and intent on the part of petitioner to shoot at the
victim when the same was put in serious doubt by the evidence presented.
"VII. The Court of Appeals was mistaken in ruling that the defense of accident and self-defense
are inconsistent.
"VIII. The Court of Appeals obviously erred in the imposition of the penalties and damages." 15
In sum, the foregoing issues can be narrowed down to two: First, whether the shooting of Tomas
Balboa was the result of an accident; and second, whether petitioner was able to prove selfdefense.
The Courts Ruling
The Petition is meritorious.
First Issue:
Accidental Shooting
Timeless is the legal adage that the factual findings of the trial court, when affirmed by the
appellate court, are conclusive.16 Both courts possess time-honored expertise in the field of fact
finding. But where some facts are misinterpreted or some details overlooked, the Supreme Court

may overturn the erroneous conclusions drawn by the courts a quo. Where, as in this case, the
facts in dispute are crucial to the question of innocence or guilt of the accused, a careful factual
reexamination is imperative.
Accident is an exempting circumstance under Article 12 of the Revised Penal Code:
"Article 12. Circumstances which exempt from criminal liability. The following are exempt from
criminal liability:
xxx
xxx
xxx
4. Any person who, while performing a lawful act with due care, causes an injury by mere
accident without fault or intent of causing it."
Exemption from criminal liability proceeds from a finding that the harm to the victim was not due
to the fault or negligence of the accused, but to circumstances that could not have been
foreseen or controlled.17 Thus, in determining whether an "accident" attended the incident, courts
must take into account the dual standards of lack of intent to kill and absence of fault or
negligence. This determination inevitably brings to the fore the main question in the present
case: was petitioner in control of the .45 caliber pistol at the very moment the shots were fired?
Petitioner Not in Control
of the Gun When It Fired
The records show that, other than petitioner himself, it was Erna Basa who witnessed the
incident firsthand. Her account, narrated during cross-examination, detailed the events of that
fateful afternoon of January 4, 1990 as follows:
"ATTY. TEODOSIO:
Q. You said that while you were inside the investigation room you heard a commotion. That
commotion which you heard, did you hear any shouting as part of that commotion which you
heard?
A. Moderately there was shouting and their dialogue was not clear. It could not be understood.
Q. Did you hear any voices as part of that commotion?
A. No, sir.
Q. From the time you entered the investigation room you did not hear any voice while you were
inside the investigation room as part of that commotion?
A. There was no loud voice and their conversation could not be clarified. They were talking
somewhat like murmuring or in a low voice but there was a sort of trouble in their talks.
COURT:
Q. Was there a sort of an exchange of words in their conversation?
A. Yes, sir.
xxx
xxx
xxx
Q. When you opened the door, you saw Sgt. Pomoy and Mr. Balboa the deceased in this case?
Am I correct?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And when you saw Sgt. Pomoy was he holding a gun?
A. Not yet, the gun was still here. (Witness illustrating by pointing to her side) and I saw both of
them grappling for that gun.
Q. Where was the gun at that time?
A. The gun was in its holster. (Witness illustrating by pointing to [her] side.)
Q. When you demonstrated you were according to you saw the hands holding the gun. It was
Sgt. Pomoy who was holding the gun with his right hand?
A. I saw two hands on the handle of the gun in its holster, the hand of Sir Balboa and Sgt. Pomoy.
COURT:
Q. At that precise moment the gun was still in its holster?
A. When I took a look the gun was still in its holster with both hands grappling for the possession
of the gun.
Q. How many hands did you see?
A. Two.
Q. One hand of Sgt. Pomoy and one hand is that of the victim?
A. Yes, sir.
COURT:
Proceed.
ATTY TEODOSIO:
Q. Which hand of Sgt. Pomoy did you see holding the gun?
A. Right hand of Sgt. Pomoy.
Q. And when you see that right hand of Sgt. Pomoy, was it holding the gun?
A. The right hand of Sgt. Pomoy was here on the gun and Sir Balboas hand was also there. Both
of them were holding the gun.
Q. Which part of the gun was the right hand of Sgt. Pomoy holding?
A. The handle.
Q. And was he facing Tomas Balboa when he was holding the gun with his right hand?
A. At first they were not directly facing each other.
Q. So later, they were facing each other?

A. They were not directly facing each other. Their position did not remain steady as they were
grappling for the possession of the gun force against force.
COURT:
Q. What was the position of the victim when the shots were fired?
A. When I saw them they were already facing each other.
Q. What was the distance?
A. Very close to each other.
Q. How close?
A. Very near each other.
Q. Could it be a distance of within one (1) foot?
A. Not exactly. They were close to each other in such a manner that their bodies would touch
each other.
Q. So the distance is less than one (1) foot when the gun fired?
A. One (1) foot or less when the explosions were heard.
Q. And they were directly facing each other?
A. Yes, sir.
COURT:
Proceed.
Q. Were you able to see how the gun was taken out from its holster?
A. While they were grappling for the possession of the gun, gradually the gun was released from
its holster and then there was an explosion.
Q. And when the gun fired the gun was on Tomas Balboa?
A. I could not see towards whom the nozzle of the gun was when it fired because they were
grappling for the possession of the gun.
Q. Did you see when the gun fired when they were grappling for its possession?
A. Yes sir, I actually saw the explosion. It came from that very gun.
Q. Did you see the gun fired when it fired for two times?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Did you see the barrel of the gun when the gun fired?
A. I could not really conclude towards whom the barrel of the gun was pointed to because the
gun was turning.
xxx
xxx
xxx
Q. Could you tell the court who was holding the gun when the gun fired?
A. When the gun exploded, the gun was already in the possession of Sgt. Pomoy. He was the one
holding the gun.
Q. After the gun went off, you saw the gun was already in the hand of Sgt. Pomoy?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. How soon after the gun went off when you saw the gun in the hand of Sgt. Pomoy?
A. After Balboa had fallen and after they had separated themselves with each other, it was then
that I saw Sgt. Pomoy holding the gun.
COURT:
Proceed.
ATTY. TEODOSIO:
Q. When the gun was taken out from its holster, Sgt. Pomoy was the one holding the handle of
the gun? Am I correct?
A. Both of them were holding the handle of the gun.
Q. So when the gun was still in its holster, two of them were holding the gun?
A. Yes sir, they were actually holding the gun, Sgt. Pomoy and Sir Balboa.
Q. It was the right hand of Sgt. Pomoy who was holding the handle of the gun as you testified?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Which hand of Balboa was holding the handle of the gun?
A. Left hand.
Q. At the time Balboa was holding the handle of the gun with his left hand, was he in front of Sgt.
Pomoy?
A. They had a sort of having their sides towards each other. Pomoys right and Balboas left sides
[were] towards each other. They were side by side at a closer distance towards each other.
xxx
xxx
xxx
Q. It was actually Sgt. Pomoy who was holding the handle of the gun during that time?
A. When I looked out it was when they were grappling for the possession of the gun and the right
hand of Sgt. Pomoy was holding the handle of the gun.
Q. When you saw them did you see what position of the handle of the gun was being held by
Tomas Balboa? The rear portion of the handle of the gun or the portion near the trigger?
A. When I looked at them it was the hand of Sgt. Pomoy holding the handle of the gun with his
right hand with the hand of Sir Balboa over the hand of Pomoy, the same hand holding the gun.
Q. It was in that position when the gun was removed from its holster?
A. When the gun pulled out from its holster, I was not able to notice clearly anymore whose hand
was holding the gun when I saw both their hands were holding the gun.

Q. When you said this in [the] vernacular, Daw duha na sila nagakapot, what you really mean?
A. Both of them were holding the gun.
Q. But Sgt. Pomoy still holding the handle of the gun?
A. Still both of them were holding the handle of the gun.
Q. With the hand of Balboa still on the top of the hand of Sgt. Pomoy as what you have previously
said when the gun was in the holster of Sgt. Pomoy?
A. When the gun was pulled from its holster, I saw that Sgt. Pomoys right hand was still on the
handle of the gun with the left hand of Sir Balboa over his right hand of Sgt. Pomoy, like
this(witness illustrating by showing his right hand with her left hand over her right hand as if
holding something. The thumb of the left hand is somewhat over the index finger of the right
hand.)
COURT:
Which hand of the victim was used by him when the gun was already pulled out form its holster
and while the accused was holding the handle of the gun?
A. Left hand.
Q. So, he was still using the same left hand in holding a portion of the handle of the gun up to the
time when the gun was pulled out from its holster?
A. Yes sir, the same left hand and that of Pomoy his right hand because the left hand of Pomoy
was used by him in parrying the right hand of Sir Balboa which is about to grab the handle of the
gun.
COURT:
Q. So in the process of grappling he was using his left hand in pushing the victim away from him?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. What about the right hand of the victim, what was he doing with his right hand?
A. The victim was trying to reach the gun with his right hand and Pomoy was using his left hand
to protect the victim from reaching the gun with his right hand.
COURT:
Proceed.
ATTY. TEODOSIO:
Q. Did you say a while ago that Mr. Balboa was able to hold the barrel of the gun of Sgt. Pomoy?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And that was at the time before the shots were fired?
A. Yes, he was able to hold the tip of the barrel of the gun using his right hand.
COURT:
Q. That was before the gun fired?
A. Yes, sir."18
The foregoing account demonstrates that petitioner did not have control of the gun during the
scuffle. The deceased persistently attempted to wrest the weapon from him, while he resolutely
tried to thwart those attempts. That the hands of both petitioner and the victim were all over the
weapon was categorically asserted by the eyewitness. In the course of grappling for the gun,
both hands of petitioner were fully engaged -- his right hand was trying to maintain possession of
the weapon, while his left was warding off the victim. It would be difficult to imagine how, under
such circumstances, petitioner would coolly and effectively be able to release the safety lock of
the gun and deliberately aim and fire it at the victim.
It would therefore appear that there was no firm factual basis for the following declaration of the
appellate court: "[Petitioner] admitted that his right hand was holding the handle of the gun
while the left hand of the victim was over his right hand when the gun was fired. This declaration
would safely lead us to the conclusion that when the gun went off herein [petitioner] was in full
control of the gun."19
Release of the Guns Safety Lock and
Firing of the Gun Both Accidental
Petitioner testified that the .45 caliber service pistol was equipped with a safety lock that, unless
released, would prevent the firing of the gun. Despite this safety feature, however, the evidence
showed that the weapon fired and hit the victim -- not just once, but twice. To the appellate
court, this fact could only mean that petitioner had deliberately unlocked the gun and shot at the
victim. This conclusion appears to be non sequitur.
It is undisputed that both petitioner and the victim grappled for possession of the gun. This
frenzied grappling for the weapon -- though brief, having been finished in a matter of seconds -was fierce and vicious. The eyewitness account amply illustrated the logical conclusion that could
not be dismissed: that in the course of the scuffle, the safety lock could have been accidentally
released and the shots accidentally fired.
That there was not just one but two shots fired does not necessarily and conclusively negate the
claim that the shooting was accidental, as the same circumstance can easily be attributed to the
mechanism of the .45 caliber service gun. Petitioner, in his technical description of the weapon in
question, explained how the disputed second shot may have been brought about:
"x x x Petitioner also testified on cross-examination that a caliber .45 semi-automatic pistol,
when fired, immediately slides backward throwing away the empty shell and returns immediately

carrying again a live bullet in its chamber. Thus, the gun can, as it did, fire in succession. Verily,
the location of, and distance between the wounds and the trajectories of the bullets jibe perfectly
with the claim of the petitioner: the trajectory of the first shot going downward from left to right
thus pushing Balboas upper body, tilting it to the left while Balboa was still clutching petitioners
hand over the gun; the second shot hitting him in the stomach with the bullet going upward of
Balboas body as he was falling down and releasing his hold on petitioners hand x x x." 20
Thus, the appellate courts reliance on People v. Reyes 41 was misplaced. In that case, the Court
disbelieved the accused who described how his gun had exploded while he was simply handing it
over to the victim. Here, no similar claim is being made; petitioner has consistently maintained
that the gun accidentally fired in the course of his struggle with the victim. More significantly, the
present case involves a semi-automatic pistol, the mechanism of which is very different from that
of a revolver, the gun used in Reyes.22 Unlike a revolver, a semi-automatic pistol, as sufficiently
described by petitioner, is prone to accidental firing when possession thereof becomes the object
of a struggle.
Alleged Grappling Not Negated
by Frontal Location of Wounds
On the basis of the findings of Dr. Jaboneta showing that the wounds of the deceased were all
frontal, the appellate court rejected petitioners claim that a grappling for the weapon ever
occurred. It held that "if there was indeed a grappling between the two, and that they had been
side [by] side x x x each other, the wounds thus inflicted could not have had a front-to-back
trajectory which would lead to an inference that the victim was shot frontally, as observed by Dr.
Jaboneta."23
Ordinarily, the location of gunshot wounds is indicative of the positions of the parties at the
precise moment when the gun was fired. Their positions would in turn be relevant to a
determination of the existence of variables such as treachery, aggression and so on.
In the factual context of the present case, however, the location of the wounds becomes
inconsequential. Where, as in this case, both the victim and the accused were grappling for
possession of a gun, the direction of its nozzle may continuously change in the process, such that
the trajectory of the bullet when the weapon fires becomes unpredictable and erratic. In this
case, the eyewitness account of that aspect of the tragic scuffle shows that the parties positions
were unsteady, and that the nozzle of the gun was neither definitely aimed nor pointed at any
particular target. We quote the eyewitness testimony as follows:
"Q. And when the gun fired the gun was on Tomas Balboa?
A. I could not see towards whom the nozzle of the gun was when it fired because they were
grappling for the possession of the gun.
xxx
xxx
xxx
Q. Did you see the barrel of the gun when the gun fired?
A. I could not really conclude towards whom the barrel of the gun was pointed to because the
gun was turning."24
xxx
xxx
xxx
"Q And was he facing Tomas Balboa when he was holding the gun with his right hand?
A At first, they were not directly facing each other.
Q So later, they were facing each other?
A They were not directly facing each other. Their position did not remain steady as they were
grappling for the possession of the gun force against force."25
In his Petition, this explanation is given by petitioner:
"x x x. The Court of Appeals erred in concluding that Balboa was shot frontally. First, because the
position of the gun does not necessarily indicate the position of the person or persons holding
the gun when it fired. This is especially true when two persons were grappling for the possession
of the gun when it fired, as what exactly transpired in this case. x x x.
"[The] testimony clearly demonstrates that the petitioner was on the left side of the victim
during the grappling when the gun fired. The second wound was thus inflicted this wise: when
the first shot hit Balboa, his upper body was pushed downward owing to the knocking power of
the caliber .45 pistol. But he did not let go of his grip of the hand of petitioner and the gun,
Balboa pulling the gun down as he was going down. When the gun went off the second time
hitting Balboa, the trajectory of the bullet in Balboas body was going upward because his upper
body was pushed downward twisting to the left. It was then that Balboa let go of his grip. On
cross-examination, petitioner testified, what I noticed was that after successive shots we
separated from each other. This sequence of events is logical because the protagonists were
grappling over the gun and were moving very fast. x x x." 26
Presence of All the
Elements of Accident
The elements of accident are as follows: 1) the accused was at the time performing a lawful act
with due care; 2) the resulting injury was caused by mere accident; and 3) on the part of the
accused, there was no fault or no intent to cause the injury. 27 From the facts, it is clear that all
these elements were present. At the time of the incident, petitioner was a member -- specifically,
one of the investigators -- of the Philippine National Police (PNP) stationed at the Iloilo Provincial

Mobile Force Company. Thus, it was in the lawful performance of his duties as investigating
officer that, under the instructions of his superior, he fetched the victim from the latters cell for
a routine interrogation.
Again, it was in the lawful performance of his duty as a law enforcer that petitioner tried to
defend his possession of the weapon when the victim suddenly tried to remove it from his
holster. As an enforcer of the law, petitioner was duty-bound to prevent the snatching of his
service weapon by anyone, especially by a detained person in his custody. Such weapon was
likely to be used to facilitate escape and to kill or maim persons in the vicinity, including
petitioner himself.
Petitioner cannot be faulted for negligence. He exercised all the necessary precautions to prevent
his service weapon from causing accidental harm to others. As he so assiduously maintained, he
had kept his service gun locked when he left his house; he kept it inside its holster at all times,
especially within the premises of his working area.
At no instance during his testimony did the accused admit to any intent to cause injury to the
deceased, much less kill him. Furthermore, Nicostrato Estepar, the guard in charge of the
detention of Balboa, did not testify to any behavior on the part of petitioner that would indicate
the intent to harm the victim while being fetched from the detention cell.
The participation of petitioner, if any, in the victims death was limited only to acts committed in
the course of the lawful performance of his duties as an enforcer of the law. The removal of the
gun from its holster, the release of the safety lock, and the firing of the two successive shots -- all
of which led to the death of the victim -- were sufficiently demonstrated to have been
consequences of circumstances beyond the control of petitioner. At the very least, these factual
circumstances create serious doubt on the latters culpability.
Petitioners Subsequent Conduct
Not Conclusive of Guilt
To both the trial and the appellate courts, the conduct of petitioner immediately after the
incident was indicative of remorse. Allegedly, his guilt was evident from the fact that he was
"dumbfounded," according to the CA; was "mum, pale and trembling," according to the trial
court. These behavioral reactions supposedly point to his guilt. Not necessarily so. His behavior
was understandable. After all, a minute earlier he had been calmly escorting a person from the
detention cell to the investigating room; and, in the next breath, he was looking at his
companions bloodied body. His reaction was to be expected of one in a state of shock at events
that had transpired so swiftly and ended so regrettably.
Second Issue:
Self-Defense
Petitioner advanced self-defense as an alternative. Granting arguendo that he intentionally shot
Balboa, he claims he did so to protect his life and limb from real and immediate danger.
Self-defense is inconsistent with the exempting circumstance of accident, in which there is no
intent to kill. On the other hand, self-defense necessarily contemplates a premeditated intent to
kill in order to defend oneself from imminent danger. 28 Apparently, the fatal shots in the instant
case did not occur out of any conscious or premeditated effort to overpower, maim or kill the
victim for the purpose of self-defense against any aggression; rather, they appeared to be the
spontaneous and accidental result of both parties attempts to possess the firearm.
Since the death of the victim was the result of an accidental firing of the service gun of petitioner
-- an exempting circumstance as defined in Article 12 of the Revised Penal Code -- a further
discussion of whether the assailed acts of the latter constituted lawful self-defense is
unnecessary.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED and the assailed Decision REVERSED. Petitioner
is ACQUITTED.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Sandoval-Gutierrez, Corona, and Carpio Morales, JJ., concur.
Footnotes
1
Rollo, pp. 9-47.
2
Id., pp. 49-68. Sixteenth Division. Penned by Justice B. A. Adefuin-de la Cruz (Division chair) and
concurred in by Justices Andres B. Reyes Jr. and Rebecca de Guia-Salvador (members).
3
Id., p. 70.
4
CA rollo, pp. 9-20.
5
Written by Judge Bartolome M. Fanual.
6
CA rollo, p. 8.
7
Dated October 28, 1991; CA rollo, p. 8.
8
Comment, pp. 2-7; rollo, pp. 77-82. Citations omitted.
9
Petition, pp. 5-11; rollo, pp. 13-19. Citations omitted.
10
69 SCRA 474, 479, February 27, 1976.
11
CA Decision, p. 16; rollo, p. 64.
12
Id., pp. 17 and 65. Italics supplied.
13
CA Decision, p. 19; rollo, p. 67.

14

This case was deemed submitted for decision on January 13, 2003, upon this Courts receipt of
respondents Memorandum, signed by Assistant Solicitor General Josefina C. Castillo and
Associate Solicitor Josephine D. Arias. Petitioners Memorandum, signed by Atty. Ferdinand M.
Negre and Atty. Karen O. Amurao-Dalangin, was filed on October 1, 2002.
15
Petitioners Memorandum, pp. 15-16; rollo, pp. 126-127. Original in upper case.
16
Borromeo v. Sun, 375 Phil. 595, October 22, 1999.
17
People v. Cariquez, 373 Phil. 877, September 27, 1999. To determine accident, the following
three elements must concur: 1) the accused is performing a lawful act with due care; 2) the
resulting injury is caused by mere accident; and 3) on the part of the accused, there is no fault or
intent to cause the injury.
18
TSN, July 29, 1994, pp. 22-40. (Emphasis supplied)
19
CA Decision, pp. 16-17; rollo, pp. 64-65.
20
Petition, pp. 25-26; rollo, pp. 33-34.
21
Supra. See 161 Phil. 611, 617, February 27, 1976, per curiam.
22
Supra.
23
CA Decision, p. 18; rollo, p. 66.
24
TSN, supra, pp. 30-31.
25
Id., p. 28. Underscoring and boldface supplied.
26
Petition, pp. 27-28; rollo, pp. 35-36. Boldface in the original.
27
People v. Cariquez, supra.
28
In the assailed Decision, the appellate court -- while acknowledging the innate differences
between "accident" and "self-defense," the former presupposing the lack of intention to inflict
harm and the latter assuming voluntariness induced by necessity -- nevertheless submits that
the standards to be used in determining whether the elements of one or the other are extant are
one and the same.
The Court disagrees. It is apparent from their varying definitions under the Revised Penal Code
that "accident" and "self-defense" are two different circumstances. Accident, as an exempting
circumstance, presupposes that while a crime may have been committed, no criminal is to be
held liable. Section 4 of Article 12 describes "accident" as an exempting circumstance as follows:
"Article 12. Circumstances which are exempt from criminal liability: -- The following are exempt
from criminal liability:
xxx
xxx
xxx
(4) Any person who, while performing a lawful act with due care, causes an injury by mere
accident without fault or intent of causing it."
xxx
xxx
xxx
On the other hand, the justifying circumstance of self-defense presupposes that no crime has
been committed for which a criminal can be held liable. It is apparent, from a reading of Section
3 of Article 11, that the law treats the justifying circumstance of "self-defense" as a totally
different circumstance with another set of elements, as follows:
"Article 11. Justifying circumstances. The following do not incur any criminal liability:
1. Anyone who acts in defense of his person or rights provided that the following circumstances
concur:
First. Unlawful aggression;
Second. Reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel it;
Third. Lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending himself."
xxx
xxx
xxx
With their differing elements, one cannot, as the appellate court erroneously did, utilize the
standards used in proving "self-defense" to prove whether or not under the same facts,
"accident" is extant.