People v. Espinoza (1993) – Puno, J.

Petitioner: People of the Philippines
Respondents: Rogelio Espinoza y Ali, Victor Espinoza
y Ali and Julian Magbaril y Ombrador
Concept: Object Evidence
Brief Facts: Three accused were convicted of murder.
The conviction was based on the testimonies of
eyewitnesses attesting to seeing them hack the victim
to death together with the dying declaration of the
victim identifying the three accused as his assailants.
On appeal to the SC, they invoked several defenses
including the failure of the prosecution to present the
“bolos” used in the crime which allegedly weakened
the evidence against them. The SC affirmed their
conviction.
DOCTRINE: There was no showing that the "bolos"
were recovered from the scene of the crime. It is likely
that these "bolos" were disposed by the assailants to
conceal the instruments of the crime. But even without
the "bolos" as evidence, there can be no doubt that the
victim died due to hacking by means of "bolos" based
on the testimony of Lucresio. It cannot also be doubted
that the numerous wounds suffered by the victim were
due to hacking by means of sharp bladed instruments.

4.

5.

6.

(implied)
The failure to present the weapons used by the
accused in committing the crime does not suffice to
weaken the case of the prosecution. The crime can still
be proved by other means such as testimonies of
eyewitnesses and declarations of the victim on his
dying moment identifying his assailants.
FACTS:
1. Rogelio Espinoza, Victor Espinoza, and Julian
Magbaril were charged with and convicted of
MURDER by the RTC of Malaybalay, Bukidnon for
hacking to death a certain Renato Salvar.
2. According to witness LUCRECIO CRODA:

On August 30, 1988, at around 7:00 o'clock in
the evening, he was in the living room of his
house in Bukidnon, when he heard cries for
help.

As he went down the stairs, he saw the Rogelio
Espinoza, Victor Espinoza and Julian Magbaril
drag the victim away from the road towards his
house.

At a distance of approximately three fathoms
(units of six feet) from his house, he positively
recognized the victim as Renato Salvar.

He also witnessed Rogelio and Victor Espinoza
hack the victim several times with their long
bolos while Magbaril held back the victim who
was lying on his back.

Overcome with fear, he rushed back to his
house. He then assisted his wife who was in
near-faint after witnessing the incident.
3. According to witness CHARLITO GUEVARRA:

On the night of the incident, he was watching
the coronation ceremonies of the fiesta queen
at the barrio hall when he received information
from his brother, about a hacking incident.

He immediately went to the place and there
saw the victim Renato Salvar, seriously

7.
8.

wounded and lying on his back. He was able to
talk to the victim who was then still conscious
and coherent in speech.

When he asked the victim who was responsible
for hid condition, the victim answered “They
betrayed me”.

The victim identified the three accused as his
assailants
According to witness SIMPLICIO SALVAR:

He was able to talk to the victim in his dying
moment and the victim identified the three
accused as his assailants who allegedly
waylaid him.
Simplicio Salvar (brother of victim) together with
his father and other companions boarded Renato
Salvar in a truck to seek medical assistance in Don
Carlos. Two hours later, while they were on their
way to the hospital, the victim died. Upon noticing
this, they did not proceed to Don Carlos. Instead,
they returned to their house to bury the victim.
The three accused interposed the defense of alibi.

Victor and his brother Rogelio alleged that they
were in the house of Julian Magbaril earlier in
the evening where they took their supper at
approximately 7:30 in the evening. They left
Magbaril’s house around 8:30 pm to return to
their houses.

Julian Magbaril testified that he was in his
house on the night of the incident. He testified
that at around 7:30 pm. The other two accused
and another Basilio Deconlay were in his house
in connection with the payment of the fighting
cocks that the brother bought from Deconlay.
At around 8:30 pm, the two brothers left while
Deconloy stayed overnight.
The Appellate Court imposed the penalty of
Reclusion Perpetua.
The accused-appellants appealed, raising the
following errors:
a. The Trial Court and the CA erred in giving
credence to the testimony of the lone alleged
eyewitness (Croda)
b. The Trial Court and the CA erred in not acquitting
all the appellnts based on the ground that the
prosecution failed to prove their guilt beyond
reasonable doubt.

ISSUE:
WON the conviction of the three accused is proper
(YES)
RATIO:
There is no cogent reason to reverse the ruling
of the appellate court.
- Eyewitness Lucresio Croda, positively identified the
three accused as the assailants. His house is at
least three (3) fathoms away from the scene of the
crime.
Moreover, during the hacking incident, the place
was illuminated by the moon.
- In People vs. Jacolo, the court held that: Where
conditions of visibility are favorable, and the
witness does not appear to be biased, his assertion
as to the identity of the malefactor should normally
be accepted.” This is particularly true, in this case,

taking advantage of their superior strength. It is likely that these "bolos" were disposed by the assailants to conceal the instruments of the crime. The SC gives full credit to the factual findings of the trial court considering that it is in the best position to weigh conflicting declarations of witnesses as it was able to observe their demeanor and conduct while giving their testimonies. The proper indemnity should be P50. and giving it a legal significance. Part of the Res Gestae—Statements made by a person while a startling occurrence is taking place or immediately prior or subsequent thereto with respect to the circusmtances thereof. 1 Sec 42. Rule 130. if not the danger. As between the positive declarations of the prosecution witness and the negative statements of the appellants. Lucresio rushed back to his house for fear of his life and opted to attend to his wife who had just given birth. [RELEVANT] Defense: The prosecution failed to present the "bolos" which were used in the commission of the crime. there can be no doubt that the victim died due to hacking by means of "bolos" based on the testimony of Lucresio. Their defense consists of alibi which cannot prevail over the positive identification by an eyewitness who had no improper motive to falsify testify. deserves credence for it indicates sincerity and truthfulness in the narration of events. SC: Relationship of the witnesses to the victim per se does not affect their credibility. Rogelio Espinoza himself admitted that the witnesses are his friends and that he could not think of any reason why they testified against him. Utterances made immediately after a startling occurrence and before the declarant had an opportunity to fabricate a false statement can be considered as part of the res gestae pursuant to Sec 42 of the Revised Rules of Evidence 1. he disclosed to the witnesses the name of his assailants. the former deserve more credence and weight. SC: There was no showing that the "bolos" were recovered from the scene of the crime. may be given in evidence as part of res gestae. The probability that he committed a mistake as to the identity of the appellants whom he had known for 6 years is nil. Lucresio's initial hesitation to report the crime due to the shocking experience should not be counted against his credibility. In the absence of any mitigating or aggravating circumstance. The trial court correctly gave great weight to the testimony of Croda. may be received as art of the res gestae. the defense assert that: Lucresio did not volunteer as a witness immediately after the crime was discovered SC: After witnessing the incident. In an attempt to discredit Croda as witness. It is the quality and not the quantity of the witnesses that counts in assessing their credence. also. the proper penalty is reclusion perpetua. mentioning the details of an incident that could not easily be concocted.000. So. DISPOSITIVE: Three accused are guilty beyond reasonable doubt The penalty for Murder is reclusion temporal in its maximum period to death. - - Defense: The testimonies of the witnesses are not credible because they are relatives of the victim. Lucresio also testified in detail how the accused. The testimony of a witness. The fight for truth is not necessarily won by the party with the more numerous witnesses. Their participation in the merciless killing is further buttressed by the fact that before the victim died.- - - - - - - where the defense failed to impute any improper motive on the part of Croda for testifying against the appellants. hacked to death the victim using a long bolo. The credible testimony of a lone witness can provide a rational basis for conviction.00. But even without the "bolos" as evidence. This weakened the evidence against them. It cannot also be doubted that the numerous wounds suffered by the victim were due to hacking by means of sharp bladed instruments. statements accompanying an equivocal act material to the issue. Digest maker: Kat . We take judicial notice of the fact that people usually shy away from any involvement in criminal cases due to its inconvenience.