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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 177743

January 25, 2012

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
ALFONSO FONTANILLA y OBALDO, Accused-Appellant.
DECISION
BERSAMIN, J.:
An indispensable requisite of self-defense is that the victim must have mounted an unlawful aggression
against the accused. Without such unlawful aggression, the accused cannot invoke self-defense as a
justifying circumstance.
The accused prays for the review and reversal of the decision promulgated on June 29, 2006, 1 whereby
the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed his conviction for murder handed down by the Regional Trial Court
(RTC), Branch 34, in Balaoan, La Union.
Antecedents
At around 9:30 p.m. on October 29, 1996, Jose Olais was walking along the provincial road in Butubut
Oeste, Balaoan, La Union when Alfonso Fontanilla suddenly struck him in the head with a piece of wood
called bellang.2Olais fell facedown to the ground, but Fontanilla hit him again in the head with a piece
of stone. Fontanilla desisted from hitting Olais a third time only because Joel Marquez and Tirso
Abunan, the sons-in-law of Olais, shouted at him, causing him to run away. Marquez and Abunan
rushed their father-in-law to a medical clinic, where Olais was pronounced dead on arrival. 3
On April 25, 1997, the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of La Union filed an information for murder
against Fontanilla in the RTC, viz:
That on or about the 29th day of October 1996, along the Provincial Road at Barangay Butubut Oeste,
Municipality of Balaoan, Province of La Union, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, with intent to kill and with evident premeditation and treachery, did
then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and strike with a long coconut night
stick and thereafter hit with a stone the head of Jose Olais, thereby inflicting on the latter head wounds
which caused the death of the latter, to the damage and prejudice of the heirs of said victim.
CONTRARY TO LAW.4
The accused pleaded not guilty.
The State presented Marquez and Abunan as its witnesses. They claimed that they were only several
meters away from Olais when Fontanilla struck him; that they shouted at Fontanilla, who fled because
of them; and that they were able to see and to identify Fontanilla as the attacker of their father-in-law
because the area was then well-lighted.5
Dr. Felicidad Leda, the physician who conducted the autopsy on the cadaver of Olais, attested that her
post-mortem examination showed that Olais had suffered a fracture on the left temporal area of the
skull, causing his death. She opined that a hard object or a severe force had hit the skull of the victim

more than once, considering that the skull had been already fragmented and the fractures on the skull
had been radiating.6
SPO1 Abraham Valdez, who investigated the slaying and apprehended Fontanilla, declared that he had
gone looking for Fontanilla in his house along with other policemen; that Fontanillas father had denied
that he was around; that their search of the house had led to the arrest of Fontanilla inside; and that
they had then brought him to the police station.7 Valdez further declared that Fontanilla asserted that
he would only speak in court.8
At the trial, Fontanilla claimed self-defense. He said that on the night of the incident, he had been
standing on the road near his house when Olais, wielding a nightstick and appearing to be drunk, had
boxed him in the stomach; that although he had then talked to Olais nicely, the latter had continued
hitting him with his fists, striking him with straight blows; that Olais, a karate expert, had also kicked
him with both his legs; that he had thus been forced to defend himself by picking up a stone with
which he had hit the right side of the victims head, causing the latter to fall face down to the ground;
and that he had then left the scene for his house upon seeing that Olais was no longer moving. 9
Fontanillas daughter Marilou corroborated her fathers version. 10
On June 21, 2001, the RTC declared Fontanilla guilty as charged, and disposed thusly:
WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, the Court hereby renders judgment declaring he accused
ALFONSO FONTANILLA Y OBALDO @ Carlos guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of MURDER
as defined and penalized in Art. 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659,
Sec. 6, and thereby sentences him to suffer the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA TO DEATH and to
indemnify the heirs of the victim in the amount of Fifty Thousand Pesos ( P50,000.00).
SO ORDERED.11
The RTC rejected Fontanillas plea of self-defense by observing that he had "no necessity to employ a
big stone, inflicting upon the victim a mortal wound causing his death" 12 due to the victim attacking
him only with bare hands. It noted that Fontanilla did not suffer any injury despite his claim that the
victim had mauled him; that Fontanilla did not receive any treatment, and no medical certificate
attested to any injury he might have suffered, having been immediately released from the
hospital;13 that Fontanillas failure to give any statement at the time he surrendered to the police was
inconsistent with his plea of self-defense; 14 and that the manner of attack against Olais established the
attendance of treachery.15
On appeal, the CA affirmed the RTC, holding that Fontanilla did not establish the indispensable element
of unlawful aggression; that his failure to report the incident to the police at the earliest opportunity, or
even after he was taken into custody, negated the plea of self-defense; and that the nature of the
victims injury was a significant physical proof to show a determined effort on the part of Fontanilla to
kill him, and not just to defend himself.16
The CA ruled that treachery was attendant, because Olais had no inkling that a fatal blow was looming
upon him, and because Fontanilla was inconspicuously hidden from view when he struck Olais from
behind, rendering Olais unable to retaliate.17
Nonetheless, the CA rectified the penalty from reclusion perpetua to death to only reclusion perpetua
upon noting the absence of any aggravating or mitigating circumstance, and disposed as follows:
IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the appealed decision of the Regional Trial Court of Balaoan, La
Union, Branch 34, in Criminal Case No. 2561 is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION that appellant
Fontanilla is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. No cost.
SO ORDERED.18

The accused is now appealing, insisting that the CA erred because:


I.
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN IGNORING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS CLAIM OF SELFDEFENSE.

II.
EVEN GRANTING THAT ACCUSED-APPELLANT KILLED THE VICTIM, THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY
ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF THE CRIME OF MURDER WHEN THE
QUALIFYING CIRCUMSTANCE OF TREACHERY WAS NOT PROVEN BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.
III.
FURTHERMORE, THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT APPRECIATING THE SPECIAL
PRIVILEGE[D] MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCE OF INCOMPLETE SELF-DEFENSE AND THE
MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCE OF VOLUNTARY SURRENDER.
Ruling
We affirm the conviction.
Fontanilla pleaded self-defense. In order for self-defense to be appreciated, he had to prove by clear
and convincing evidence the following elements: (a) unlawful aggression on the part of the victim; (b)
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. 19 Unlawful aggression is the indispensable
element of self-defense, for if no unlawful aggression attributed to the victim is established, selfdefense is unavailing, for there is nothing to repel.20 The character of the element of unlawful
aggression is aptly explained as follows:
Unlawful aggression on the part of the victim is the primordial element of the justifying circumstance of
self-defense. Without unlawful aggression, there can be no justified killing in defense of oneself. The
test for the presence of unlawful aggression under the circumstances is whether the aggression from
the victim put in real peril the life or personal safety of the person defending himself; the peril must
not be an imagined or imaginary threat. Accordingly, the accused must establish the concurrence of
three elements of unlawful aggression, namely: (a) there must be a physical or material attack or
assault; (b) the attack or assault must be actual, or, at least, imminent; and (c) the attack or assault
must be unlawful.
Unlawful aggression is of two kinds: (a) actual or material unlawful aggression; and (b) imminent
unlawful aggression. Actual or material unlawful aggression means an attack with physical force or
with a weapon, an offensive act that positively determines the intent of the aggressor to cause the
injury. Imminent unlawful aggression means an attack that is impending or at the point of happening; it
must not consist in a mere threatening attitude, nor must it be merely imaginary, but must be
offensive and positively strong (like aiming a revolver at another with intent to shoot or opening a knife
and making a motion as if to attack). Imminent unlawful aggression must not be a mere threatening
attitude of the victim, such as pressing his right hand to his hip where a revolver was holstered,
accompanied by an angry countenance, or like aiming to throw a pot. 21
By invoking self-defense, however, Fontanilla admitted inflicting the fatal injuries that caused the
death of Olais. It is basic that once an accused in a prosecution for murder or homicide admitted his
infliction of the fatal injuries on the deceased, he assumed the burden to prove by clear, satisfactory
and convincing evidence the justifying circumstance that would avoid his criminal liability. 22 Having
thus admitted being the author of the death of the victim, Fontanilla came to bear the burden of

proving the justifying circumstance to the satisfaction of the court, 23and he would be held criminally
liable unless he established self-defense by sufficient and satisfactory proof. 24 He should discharge the
burden by relying on the strength of his own evidence, because the Prosecutions evidence, even if
weak, would not be disbelieved in view of his admission of the killing. 25 Nonetheless, the burden to
prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt remained with the State until the end of the proceedings.
Fontanilla did not discharge his burden. A review of the records reveals that, one, Olais did not commit
unlawful aggression against Fontanilla, and, two, Fontanillas act of hitting the victims head with a
stone, causing the mortal injury, was not proportional to, and constituted an unreasonable response to
the victims fistic attack and kicks.
Indeed, had Olais really attacked Fontanilla, the latter would have sustained some injury from the
aggression. It remains, however, that no injury of any kind or gravity was found on the person of
Fontanilla when he presented himself to the hospital; hence, the attending physician of the hospital did
not issue any medical certificate to him. Nor was any medication applied to him. 26 In contrast, the
physician who examined the cadaver of Olais testified that Olais had been hit on the head more than
once. The plea of self-defense was thus belied, for the weapons used by Fontanilla and the location and
number of wounds he inflicted on Olais revealed his intent to kill, not merely an effort to prevent or
repel an attack from Olais. We consider to be significant that the gravity of the wounds manifested the
determined effort of the accused to kill his victim, not just to defend himself. 27
The CA and the RTC found that treachery was attendant. We concur. Fontanilla had appeared out of
nowhere to strike Olais on the head, first with the wooden stick, and then with a big stone, causing
Olais to fall to the ground facedown. The suddenness and unexpectedness of the attack effectively
denied to Olais the ability to defend himself or to retaliate against Fontanilla.
The imposition of reclusion perpetua by the CA was warranted under Article 248 of the Revised Penal
Code,28which prescribes reclusion perpetua to death as the penalty for murder. Under the rules on the
application of indivisible penalties in Article 63 of the Revised Penal Code, 29 the lesser penalty of
reclusion perpetua is imposed if there are neither mitigating nor aggravating circumstances. Yet, the
Court points out that the RTC erroneously imposed "RECLUSION PERPETUA TO DEATH" as the penalty.
Such imposition was bereft of legal justification, for reclusion perpetua and death, being indivisible,
should not be imposed as a compound, alternative or successive penalty for a single felony. In short,
the imposition of one precluded the imposition of the other.
The Court also modifies the limiting of civil damages by the CA and the RTC to only the death
indemnity ofP50,000.00. When death occurs due to a crime, the damages to be awarded may include:
(a) civil indemnity ex delicto for the death of the victim; (b) actual or compensatory damages; (c)
moral damages; (d) exemplary damages; and (e) temperate damages. 30
Accordingly, the CA and the RTC should also have granted moral damages in addition to the death
indemnity, which were of different kinds.31 The death indemnity compensated the loss of life due to
crime, but appropriate and reasonable moral damages would justly assuage the mental anguish and
emotional sufferings of the surviving family of Olais. 32 Although mental anguish and emotional
sufferings of the surviving family were not quantifiable with mathematical precision, the Court must
nonetheless strive to set an amount that would restore the heirs of the deceased to their moral status
quo ante. Given the circumstances, P50,000.00 should be reasonable as moral damages, which,
pursuant to prevailing jurisprudence, 33 we are bound to award despite the absence of any allegation
and proof of the heirs mental anguish and emotional suffering. The rationale for doing so rested on
human nature and experience having shown that:
xxx a violent death invariably and necessarily brings about emotional pain and anguish on the part of
the victims family. It is inherently human to suffer sorrow, torment, pain and anger when a loved one
becomes the victim of a violent or brutal killing. Such violent death or brutal killing not only steals from
the family of the deceased his precious life, deprives them forever of his love, affection and support,
but often leaves them with the gnawing feeling that an injustice has been done to them. 341wphi1

Another omission of the CA and the RTC was their non-recognition of the right of the heirs of the victim
to temperate damages. The victims wife testified about her familys incurring funeral expenses
of P36,000.00, but only P18,000.00 was backed by receipts. It is already settled that when actual
damages substantiated by receipts sum up to lower than P25,000.00, temperate damages of at
least P25,000.00 become justified, in lieu of actual damages in the lesser amount actually proved by
receipts. It would obviously be unfair to the heirs of the victim to deny them compensation by way of
actual damages despite their honest attempt to prove their actual expenses by receipts (but
succeeding only in showing expenses lower than P25,000.00 in amount).35 Indeed, the heirs should not
be left in a worse situation than the heirs of another victim who might be nonetheless allowed
temperate damages of P25,000.00 despite not having presented any receipts at all. With the victims
wife having provedP18,000.00 worth of expenses, granting his heirs temperate damages
of P25,000.00, not only P18,000.00, is just and proper. Not to do so would foster a travesty of basic
fairness.
The Civil Code provides that exemplary damages may be imposed in criminal cases as part of the civil
liability "when the crime was committed with one or more aggravating circumstances." 36 The Civil Code
permits such damages to be awarded "by way of example or correction for the public good, in addition
to the moral, temperate, liquidated or compensatory damages."37 In light of such legal provisions, the
CA and the RTC should have recognized the entitlement of the heirs of the victim to exemplary
damages on account of the attendance of treachery. It was of no moment that treachery was an
attendant circumstance in murder, and, as such, inseparable and absorbed in murder. As well
explained in People v. Catubig:38
The term "aggravating circumstances" used by the Civil Code, the law not having specified otherwise,
is to be understood in its broad or generic sense. The commission of an offense has a two-pronged
effect, one on the public as it breaches the social order and the other upon the private victim as it
causes personal sufferings, each of which is addressed by, respectively, the prescription of heavier
punishment for the accused and by an award of additional damages to the victim. The increase of the
penalty or a shift to a graver felony underscores the exacerbation of the offense by the attendance of
aggravating circumstances, whether ordinary or qualifying, in its commission. Unlike the criminal
liability which is basically a State concern, the award of damages, however, is likewise, if not primarily,
intended for the offended party who suffers thereby. It would make little sense for an award of
exemplary damages to be due the private offended party when the aggravating circumstance is
ordinary but to be withheld when it is qualifying. Withal, the ordinary or qualifying nature of an
aggravating circumstance is a distinction that should only be of consequence to the criminal, rather
than to the civil, liability of the offender. In fine, relative to the civil aspect of the case, an aggravating
circumstance, whether ordinary or qualifying, should entitle the offended party to an award of
exemplary damages within the unbridled meaning of Article 2230 of the Civil Code.
For the purpose, P30,000.00 is reasonable and proper as exemplary damages, 39 for a lesser amount
would not serve result in genuine exemplarity.
WHEREFORE, we AFFIRM the decision promulgated on June 29, 2006 by the Court of Appeals, subject
to the MODIFICATION of the civil damages, by ordering accused Alfonso Fontanilla y Obaldo to pay to
the heirs of Jose Olais P25,000.00 as temperate damages and P30,000.00 as exemplary damages in
addition to the P50,000.00 as death indemnity and the P50,000.00 as moral damages, plus interest of
6% per annum on such amounts from the finality of the judgment.
The accused shall pay the costs of suit.
SO ORDERED.
LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice
Chairperson
TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
Associate Justice

MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.


Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice
CERTIFICATION
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify 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.
RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice

Footnotes
Vice Associate Justice Mariano C. Del Castillo, who took part in the proceedings in the Court of
Appeals, per raffle of January 18, 2012.
*

CA rollo, pp. 98-108; penned by Associate Justice Conrado M. Vasquez, Jr. (later Presiding
Justice, now retired), with Associate Justice Mariano C. Del Castillo (now a Member of the Court)
and Associate Justice Vicente S.E. Veloso concurring.
1

Bellang is a blunt instrument made of coconut wood used by barangay tanod in their patrols
(per TSN November 12, 1998, p. 6).
2

Records, pp. 167-168.

Id., p. 1.

Id., pp. 167-168.

Id., p. 170.

CA rollo, p.101.

Records, p.170.

Id., p. 168.

10

CA rollo, p. 101

11

Records, p. 172

12

Id., p. 169.

13

Id., p. 170.

14

Id.

15

Id., p. 172.

16

CA rollo, pp. 104-105.

17

Id., pp.105-106.

18

Id., pp. 107-108.

19

Article 11 (1), Revised Penal Code.

20

Calim v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 140065, February 13, 2001, 351 SCRA 559, 571.

21

People v. Nugas, G.R. No. 172606, November 23, 2011.

22

Cabuslay v. People, G.R. No. 129875, September 30, 2005, 471 SCRA 241, 256-257.

People v. Capisonda, 1 Phil. 575 (1902); People v. Baguio, 43 Phil. 683 (1922); People v.
Gutierrez, 53 Phil. 609 (1929); People v. Silang Cruz, 53 Phil. 625 (1929); People v. Embalido,
58 Phil. 152 (1933); People v. Dorico, No. L-31568, November 29, 1973, 54 SCRA 172, 183;
People v. Boholst-Caballero, G.R. No. L-23249, November 25, 1974, 61 SCRA 180, 186; People
v. Quio, G.R. No. 105580, May 17, 1994, 232 SCRA 400, 403; People v. Camacho, G.R. No.
138629, June 20, 2001, 359 SCRA 200, 207; People v. Galvez, G.R. No. 130397, January 17,
2002, 374 SCRA 10, 16; People v. Mayingque, G.R. No. 179709, July 6, 2010, 624 SCRA 123.
23

People v. Gelera, G. R. No. 121377, August 15, 1997, 277 SCRA 450, 461; Cabuslay v. People,
G.R. No. 129875, September 30, 2005, 471 SCRA 241, 256-257.
24

People v. Molina, G.R. No. 59436, August 28, 1992, 213 SCRA 52, 65; People v. Alapide, G.R.
No. 104276, September 20, 1994, 236 SCRA 555, 560; People v. Albarico, G.R. Nos. 108596-97,
November 17, 1994, 238 SCRA 203, 211; People v. Camahalan, G.R. No. 114032, February 22,
1995, 241 SCRA 558, 569.
25

26

TSN, May 23, 2000, p. 12.

People v. Nagum, G.R. No. 134003, January 19, 2000, 322 SCRA 474, 479, People v. Baniel,
G.R. No. 108492, July 15, 1995, 275 SCRA 472,482.
27

Article 248. Murder. Any person who, not falling within the provisions of Article 246 shall
kill another, shall be guilty of murder and shall be punished by reclusion perpetua to death, if
committed with any of the following attendant circumstances:
28

1. With treachery, taking advantage of superior strength, with the aid of armed men, or
employing means to weaken the defense or of means or persons to insure or afford
impunity.
2. In consideration of a price, reward, or promise.
3. By means of inundation, fire, poison, explosion, shipwreck, stranding of a vessel,
derailment or assault upon a railroad, fall of an airship, or by means of motor vehicles,
or with the use of any other means involving great waste and ruin.

4. On occasion of any of the calamities enumerated in the preceding paragraph, or of


an earthquake, eruption of a volcano, destructive cyclone, epidemic or other public
calamity.
5. With evident premeditation.
6. With cruelty, by deliberately and inhumanly augmenting the suffering of the victim,
or outraging or scoffing at his person or corpse.
Article 63. Rules for the application of indivisible penalties. In all cases in which the law
prescribes a single indivisible penalty, it shall be applied by the courts regardless of any
mitigating or aggravating circumstances that may have attended the commission of the deed.
29

In all cases in which the law prescribes a penalty composed of two indivisible penalties,
the following rules shall be observed in the application thereof:
1. When in the commission of the deed there is present only one aggravating
circumstance, the greater penalty shall be applied.
2. When there are neither mitigating nor aggravating circumstances in the commission
of the deed, the lesser penalty shall be applied.
3. When the commission of the act is attended by some mitigating circumstances and
there is no aggravating circumstance, the lesser penalty shall be applied.
4. When both mitigating and aggravating circumstances attended the commission of
the act, the courts shall reasonably allow them to offset one another in consideration
of their number and importance, for the purpose of applying the penalty in accordance
with the preceding rules, according to the result of such compensation.
30

People v. Domingo, G.R. No. 184343, March 2, 2009, 580 SCRA 436, 456.

31

Heirs of Castro v. Raymundo Bustos, L-25913, February 28, 1969, 27 SCRA 327.

Article 2206, (3), in relation to Article 2217 and Article 2219, Civil Code, and Article 107,
Revised Penal Code.
32

; People v. Salva, G.R. No. 132351, January 10, 2002, 373 SCRA 55, 69; People v. Osianas,
G.R. No. 182548, September 30, 2008, 567 SCRA 319, 340; People v. Buduhan, G.R. No.
178196, August 6, 2008, 561 SCRA 337, 367-368; People v. Domingo, G.R. No. 184343, March
2, 2009, 580 SCRA 436, 456-457; People v. Berondo, G.R. No. 177827, March 30, 2009, 582
SCRA 547.
33

34

People v. Panado, G.R. No. 133439, December 26, 2000, 348 SCRA 679, 690-691.

35

People v. Lacaden, G.R. No. 187682, November 25, 2009, 605 SCRA 784, 804-805.

36

Article 2230, Civil Code.

37

Article 2229, Civil Code.

38

G.R. No. 137842, August 23, 2001, 363 SCRA 621, 635.

See People v. Dela Cruz, G.R. No. 188353, February 16, 2010, 612 SCRA 738, People
v. Del Rosario, G.R. No. 189580, February 9, 2011, 642 SCRA 625.
39

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 160341

October 19, 2004

EXEQUIEL SENOJA, petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.

DECISION

CALLEJO, SR., J.:

Before us is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision 1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in People v.
Exequiel Senoja, docketed as CA-G.R. CR No. 26564, affirming with modification the Decision 2 of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Baler, Aurora, Branch 96, in Criminal Case No. 2259, for homicide.

The Case For the People

As culled by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) in its comment on the petition, the case stemmed
from the following:

1. On April 16, 1997, petitioner Exequiel Senoja, Fidel Senoja, Jose Calica, and Miguel Lumasac
were drinking gin in the hut of Crisanto Reguyal in Barangay Zarah, San Luis, Aurora. An angry
Leon Lumasac suddenly arrived at the said place, holding a bolo in his right hand and looking
for his brother Miguel. Petitioner and Jose tried to pacify Leon. But when petitioner approached
Leon, the latter tried to hack him so he embraced Leon and Jose took Leons bolo. Then, Leon
and petitioner talked things out and later reconciled (pp. 2-4, TSN, November 16, 1998; pp. 24, TSN, August 30, 2002; p. 2, TSN, April 21, 1998; p. 5, TSN, March 14, 2001; p. 2, CA
Decision).

2. Subsequently, Leon walked out of Crisantos hut followed by petitioner. Suddenly, about ten
meters from the hut, petitioner stabbed Leon at the back. When Leon turned around, petitioner
continued stabbing him until he fell to the ground. Then, petitioner ran towards the barangay
road and threw away the "kolonial" knife he used in stabbing Leon. The latter died on the spot
(pp. 2-6, TSN, November 22, 2000; p. 5, TSN, August 30, 2002; p. 3, CA Decision).

3. Dr. Pura Deveza Valenzuela-Uy, San Luis Municipal Health Officer, examined the cadaver of
Leon and found multiple lesions on his body and five fatal wounds on his chest. Dr. Uy issued a
medico-legal report and death certificate (Exhibits A and B, pp. 13-14, Records; pp. 3-5, TSN,
November 20, 1997).3

On August 13, 1997, an Information was filed charging petitioner Exequiel Senoja with homicide, the
accusatory portion of which reads:

That on April 16, 1997 at around 11 oclock in the morning in Barangay Zarah, San Luis,
Aurora, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused, did
then and there, willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously, with intent to kill, attack, assault, and use
personal violence upon the person of one Leon Lumasac by then and there stabbing him with a
bladed weapon locally known as "kolonyal" at the different parts of his body thereby inflicting

upon the latter mortal stab wounds which were the direct and immediate cause of his death
thereafter.

CONTRARY TO LAW.4

The petitioner admitted killing the victim but invoked the affirmative defense of self-defense. His
version of the fatal incident is set forth in his petition at bar:

1. On April 16, 1997 at about 11 oclock in the morning, Crisanto Reguyal, Fidel Senoja, Jose
Calica, Miguel Lumasac, and Exequiel Senoja were in the hut of Crisanto Reguyal in Barangay
Zarah, San Luis, Aurora, drinking gin;

2. Leon Lumasac suddenly arrived holding a bolo and hacked the doorpost of Crisantos hut,
angrily demanding for his brother, Miguel Lumasac, whom he suspected of drying up the
ricefield he was plowing;

3. At this time, Miguel Lumasac was no longer inside the hut but fetching water;

4. To prevent Leon Lumasac from entering the hut, Exequiel Senoja (appellant) and Jose Calica
stood by the door while simultaneously trying to pacify Leon Lumasac;

5. Exequiel Senoja with a knife then went outside and tried to pacify Leon Lumasac but the
latter angered by the gestures of the former tried to hack Exequiel Senoja;

6. To avoid any injury, Exequiel Senoja embraced Leon which gave an opportunity to disarm
the duo. Jose Calica got the bolo of Leon and threw it away while Fidel Senoja took the
"colonial" knife of Exequiel;

7. Jose Calica and Fidel Senoja were able to pacify Leon Lumasac so they invited him to get
inside the hut. Inside the hut, Leon Lumasac tried to box Fidel Senoja for siding with his
brother, Miguel, but was prevented by Exequiel Senoja who held Leons hands;

8. After a while, Leon Lumasac left but returned and angrily demanded for his bolo. Jose Calica
gave his own bolo with a sabbard to replace the bolo of Leon which he threw away;

9. With Jose Calicas bolo in him, Leon Lumasac left but only after leaving a threat that
something will happen to Exequiel Senoja for siding with his brother;

10. After walking for about 10 meters away from the hut, Leon Lumasac turned around and
saw Exequiel Senoja on his way home following him;

11. Leon Lumasac walked back to meet Exequiel Senoja and upon reaching him, the former
suddenly and treacherously hacked the latter at the left side of his head and right thigh;

12. Unable to evade the treacherous attack by Leon Lumasac who persisted in his criminal
design, Exequiel Senoja drew his "colonial" knife and stabbed Leon Lumasac in self-defense,
inflicting upon him multiple wounds which caused his death. 5

On June 7, 2002, the trial court rendered judgment against the petitioner, finding him guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime charged. The fallo of the decision reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court finds accused Exequiel Senoja GUILTY beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of Homicide for the death of victim Leon Lumasac and hereby
sentences him, applying Article 64, paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code and Section 1 of the
Indeterminate Sentence Law, (a) to suffer the penalty of twelve (12) years of prision mayor as
minimum to seventeen (17) years and four (4) months of reclusion temporal as maximum; (b)
to pay the heirs of the victim the amount of Fifteen (sic) Thousand Pesos (Php 50,000.00) by
way of civil indemnity; and (c) to pay the costs.

SO ORDERED.6

In due course, the petitioner appealed the decision to the CA which rendered judgment affirming, with
modification, the decision of the RTC. The petitioner now seeks relief from this Court, contending that:

The Honorable Court of Appeals failed to appreciate vital facts which, if considered, would
probably alter the result of this case on appeal finding appellants plea of self-defense
credible.7

The petitioner faults the CA for its analysis of his testimony, as follows:

The injuries suffered by the petitioner at the left side of his head and right thigh was confirmed
by Dr. Rodolfo Eligio in open court. The relative positions of the wounds clearly show that the
drunken Leon Lumasac brandished and executed several hacking blows against Exequiel
Senoja before he was stabbed, neutralized and finished by the latter. It would be physically and
highly improbable for the victim if he was treacherously hit at the left buttock and as he turned
around to face the petitioner, the latter stabbed him successively and without let-up hitting
him 9 times resulting in 9 fatal wounds. This did not give a chance to the victim to retaliate
and inflict those wounds upon the aggressor. The victim used Mr. Jose Calicas bolo which was
secured by its scabbard. Unless earlier drawn, it would be impossible for the victim to use it in
defending himself from the surprise attack and stabbing at a lightning fashion inflicting nine
(9) fatal wounds. Time element was the essence of this encounter which, as narrated by the
Honorable Court, after the assailant poked the victim at the left side of the buttock with the
use of the "colonial" knife he stabbed him successively until he fell down dead. Under these
circumstances, how could Exequiel Senoja suffered (sic) those hacking (sic) wounds inflicted by
the victim using Calicas bolo? In all indications, it was Leon Lumasac who attacked his
adversary first but lost in the duel considering that he was older than Exequiel Senoja and
drunk. Clearly, therefore, it was Leon Lumasac who was the aggressor both in the first and
second phases of the incident and Exequiel Senoja was compelled to defend himself.

A closer scrutiny of the attending circumstances which resulted in this stabbing incident shows
that Exequiel Senoja has no compelling reasons to kill his godfather. On that same occasion,
Mr. Exequiel Senoja was with the brother of the victim, Miguel Lumasac, which only shows that
there was no pre-existing grudge between these families. And still, what titillates our
imagination is the fact that Miguel Lumasac, who was then with the group drinking gin at the
hut of Crisanto Reguyal did not clearly impute this crime to petitioner. On the contrary, when
he was presented to the witness stand, he was very evasive in answering the questions
profounded by the prosecutors if he wanted the petitioner to be imprisoned. Miguel Lumasac
could have told the real truth that Senoja murdered his brother. 8

The CA declared that, based on the evidence on record:

As seen from appellants testimony, Leon Lumasacs actions can be divided into two (2)
phases: the first phase, when Leon entered Crisanto Reguyals hut, up to the time he and the
appellant reconciled. The second phase was when Leon left to go home. In phase one where
Leon entered Reguyals hut, Leon was the aggressor but his aggression was mostly directed to
his brother Miguel who was not inside the hut anymore, although it was also partly directed at
the appellant and even at Fidel Soneja (sic). But Leons aggression against the appellant and
Fidel Senoja ceased since, as appellant testified, when Leon tried to box Fidel Senoja and he
(appellant) told Leon "Huwag po, Huwag po," Leon was pacified.

In the second phase, when Leon left the hut to go home, his aggression had already ceased.

It is uncontroverted that the appellant followed the victim when the latter went out of the hut
to go home. Appellants testimony is that when he was two meters outside the hut, Leon
turned around to face him saying "if youre not only my godson" in a threatening way, then
approached and hacked him (with Calicas bolo) inflicting wounds on the left side of his head
and his right thigh, thus, he (appellant) attacked the victim with the kolonial knife he was
holding. That appellant suffered such injuries was corroborated by the testimony of Dr. Rodolfo
Eligio.9

The petition is denied.

Paragraph 1, Article 11, of the Revised Penal Code provides:

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 affirmative defense of self-defense may be complete or incomplete. It is complete


when all the three essential requisites are present; it is incomplete if only unlawful
aggression on the part of the victim and any of the two essential requisites were
present. In fine, unlawful aggression on the part of the victim is a condition sine qua
non to self-defense, complete or incomplete. Whether or not the accused acted in selfdefense is a question of fact. Like alibi, the affirmative defense of self-defense is
inherently weak because, as experience has demonstrated, it is easy to fabricate and
difficult to disprove.10

The right of self-defense proceeds from necessity and limited by it. The right begins where necessity
does, and ends where it ends. 11 There is, however, a perceptible difference between necessity and selfdefense, which is that, self-defense excuses the repulse of a wrong; necessity justifies the invasion of a
right. Hence, it is essential to self-defense that it should be a defense against a present unlawful
attack.12

Life can be taken under the plea of necessity, when necessary for the preservation of the life on the
party setting up the plea. Self-defense is an act to save life; hence, it is right and not a crime. 13 There is
a need for one, indeed, for it is a natural right for one to defend oneself when confronted by an
unlawful aggression by another. It is a settled rule that to constitute 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. Absent such an actual or imminent peril to ones life or limb, there is
nothing to repel; there is no necessity to take the life or inflict injuries on another. 14

But then what is the standard to use to determine whether the person defending himself is confronted
by a real and imminent peril to his life or limb? We rule that the test should be: does the person
invoking the defense believe, in due exercise of his reason, his life or limb is in danger? After all, the
rule of law founded on justice and reason: Actus no facit remin, nisi mens sit rea. Hence, the guilt of
the accused must depend upon the circumstances as they reasonably appear to him. 15

Unlawful aggression presupposes an actual, sudden, unexpected attack or imminent danger thereof,
not merely a threatening or intimidating attitude.16 Hence, when an inceptual/unlawful aggression
ceases to exist, the one making a defense has no right to kill or injure the former aggressor. 17 After the

danger has passed, one is not justified in following up his adversary to take his life. The conflict for
blood should be avoided if possible. 18 An assault on his person, he cannot punish when the danger or
peril is over. When the danger is over, the right of self-defense ceases. His right is defense, not
retribution.19

When the accused offers the affirmative defense of self-defense, he thereby admits killing the victim or
inflicting injuries on him. The burden of evidence is shifted on the accused to prove, with clear and
convincing evidence, that he killed the victim or inflicted injuries on him to defend himself. The
accused must rely on the strength of his own evidence and not on the weakness of that of the
prosecution because if the evidence of the prosecution were weak, the accused can no longer be
acquitted.20

We agree with the CA that, as gleaned, even from the testimony of the petitioner, there were two
separate but interrelated incidents that culminated in the petitioners stabbing and killing of the victim
Leon Lumasac. The first was the arrival of the victim, who was armed with a bolo, in the hut of Crisanto
Reguyal, looking for his brother Miguel Lumasac, whom he was angry at. The victim hacked the wall of
the house in anger. The petitioner, who was armed with a knife, tried to pacify the victim. The victim
attempted to hack the petitioner; nevertheless, the latter embraced and managed to pacify the victim.
Forthwith, Jose Calica took the bolo of the victim and threw it away. For his part, Fidel Senoja took the
petitioners knife. As it was, the victim was already pacified. He and the petitioner were already
reconciled.21 Fidel even gave back the knife to the petitioner.

The second incident took place when the victim demanded that Calica return his bolo as he wanted to
go home already. Because he had thrown away the victims bolo, Calica was, thus, impelled to give his
own. The victim then warned the petitioner three times, "May mangyayari sa iyo, kung hindi ngayon,
bukas," and left the hut. When the victim had already gone about ten meters from the hut, the
petitioner followed the victim. The victim turned around and told the petitioner, "Kung hindi lang kita
inaanak." The victim then hacked the petitioner, hitting the latter on the left side of his head and thigh.
Believing that the victim would attack him anew, the petitioner stabbed the victim frontally several
times.22 He also stabbed the victim on the left buttock. The petitioner could not recall how many times
he stabbed the victim and what parts of the latters body had been hit.

The first episode inside the hut had been completed with the protagonist, the victim, and the petitioner
reconciled. The second episode commenced inside the hut and continued outside, and ended with the
petitioner stabbing the victim several times.

The trial and the appellate courts gave no credence and probative weight to the testimony of the
petitioner. So do we.

First. The findings of fact of the trial court and its conclusions based on the said findings are accorded
by this Court high respect, if not conclusive effect, especially when affirmed by the CA. This is because
of the unique advantage of the trial court of having been able to observe, at close range, the
demeanor and behavior of the witnesses as they testify. This rule, however, is inapplicable if the trial
court ignored, overlooked, or misinterpreted cogent facts and circumstances which, if considered, will
alter or reverse the outcome of the case. We have reviewed the records and found no justification for a
reversal of the findings of the trial court and its conclusions based thereon.

Second. The victim sustained six hack wounds and one lacerated wound. This is gleaned from the
Necropsy Report of Dr. Pura Uy, to wit:

FINDINGS: The victim lies in supine position, stocky in built; his clothing completely soaked
with fresh blood.

CHEST:

(+) stab wound 2 inches below the L nipple 4 inches deep running medially to the
anterior median line.

(+) stab wound 2 inches to the L of the anterior median line at the level of the L nipple
5 inches deep running posteriorly.

(+) stab wound 1 inch above the L nipple 4 inches deep running inferomedially.

(+) stab wound 2 inches to the left of the anterior median line 4 inches deep running
inferoposteriorly.

(+) stab wound 1 inch to the right of the anterior median line at the level of the second
right intercostal space 0.5 inch in depth.

(+) stab wound inch to the right of the anterior median line at the level of the
xyphoid process 3 inches deep running superiorly.

(+) stab wound at the level of the L nipple L anterior axillary line 4 inches in depth
running superiorly to the left armpit.

(+) hack wound at the left armpit 3 inches long injuring the muscles and the blood
vessels.

(+) lacerated wound on the left palm almost cutting off the proximal phalanx of the left
thumb.23

Five of the wounds of the victim on his chest were fatal. 24 The victim also sustained a stab wound on
the left buttock. According to the doctor, it was unlikely for the victim to have survived even with
medical attention.25 After the doctor made her initial autopsy and submitted her report, she noted that
the victim sustained a stab wound of about two inches deep at the left buttock, thus:

Q In this medico-legal report, you indicated that the cause of death of the victim is
"Hypovolemic shock 2 to multiple stab wounds, chest." Will you please explain this?

A "Ito pong nakalagay o dahilan ng pagkamatay ng biktima sa sobrang natapon na dugo gawa
ng maraming saksak na tinamo ng biktima sa kanyang dibdib ang nagbigay ng daan sa
kanyang kamatayan."

Q Will you please tell us, Dr. Uy, if there is one amont (sic) these lesions that is located at the
back of the victim?

A I forgot to tell you that a day after I submitted the report, the funeral parlor which attended
the victim has called my attention because of the wound at the back of the victim and I
attended immediately to see these lesions at the home of the victim. I reviewed for (sic) these
lesions and I saw one lesion located at the left buttock of the victim.

Q What is the nature of the injury?

A Stab wound, about two inches deep.

Q By the nature of the lesion, is it not fatal?

A It is not that fatal.

Q In your expert opinion, by the nature of the wound sustained by the victim, what could have
been the relative position of the victim in relation to his assailant?

A Based on my examination, I think the victim and the assailant were facing each other.
"Masyadong malapit."

Q How many fatal wounds have (sic) the victim sustained in his chest?

A Five fatal stab wounds on the chest.26

Considering the number, nature and location of the wounds sustained by the victim, the petitioners
plea of self-defense is incredible.27 It bears stressing that the petitioner resolutely denied stabbing the
victim at the buttock and insisted that he stabbed the victim frontally:

Q As a matter of fact, he sustained an injury at the back of his buttock (pigi) and when he
faced you, you stabbed him again several times?

A That is not true, Sir.

Q But you are admitting that you stabbed him several times frontally?

A Yes, Sir, because I am (sic) defending myself.

Q You also stabbed him in his left armpit?

A I dont know, Sir.

Q But you knew that you stabbed him in his buttock?

A No, Sir.

Q After stabbing him several times and felt that he was already dead, you already left the
place?

A Yes, Sir.28

The testimony of the petitioner is belied by the physical evidence on record. The settled rule is that
physical evidence is evidence of the highest order; it speaks more eloquently than a hundred
witnesses.29

Third. The petitioner threw away his knife and failed to surrender it to the policemen; neither did he
inform the policemen that he killed the victim in self-defense. The petitioners claim that the victim
was armed with a bolo is hard to believe because he even failed to surrender the bolo. 30

Fourth. The petitioners version of the events that transpired immediately before he stabbed the victim
does not inspire belief. He claims that when he saw the victim emerged from the hut, the victim walked
towards the petitioner saying, "Kung hindi lang kita inaanak," but hit and hacked the latter on the left
buttock.31 As gleaned from his statement, the victim was not disposed, much less determined to
assault the petitioner. And yet, the petitioner insists that without much ado, the victim, nevertheless,
hit him on the head and on the thigh with his bolo.

Fifth. According to the petitioner, the victim warned him three times before leaving the hut, "May
mangyayari sa iyo, kung hindi ngayon, bukas." The petitioner testified that shortly before the victim
uttered these words, the latter even touched the blade of the bolo to see if it was sharp. 32 The
petitioner was, thus, aware of the peril to his life if he followed the victim. The petitioner, nevertheless,
followed the victim and left the hut after the victim had gone barely ten meters. He should have waited
until after the victim had already gone far from the hut before going home to avoid any untoward
incident.

Sixth. The petitioner presented his brother-in-law Ruben Dulay to corroborate his testimony that the
victim stabbed the petitioner and that this impelled the latter to stab the former. But the testimony of
Dulay contradicted the testimony of the petitioner:

Q When Exequiel Senoja stabbed Leon Lumasac several times, he immediately fell to the
ground and was fatal[ly] wounded, immediately died because of several stabs and lay (sic)
down?

A I did not see that scene because Exequiel Senoja stabbed Leon Lumasac, I turn (sic) back
upon seeing Leon Lumasac hack Exequiel Senoja, I turn (sic) back because I was afraid then.
When I turn (sic) back I saw them embracing each other, Sir.

Q And that is the time when Exequiel Senoja stabbed Leon Lumasac?

A I did not see the stabbing. What I only saw was that they were embracing each other, Sir.

Q So you are now changing your answer, you actually saw Exequiel Senoja stabbing Leon
Lumasac several times, after he was hack[ed] by Leon Lumasac?

A I did not see that Exequiel Senoja stab Leon Lumasac, Sir. 33

Seventh. The bare fact that the petitioner sustained a five-centimeter wound at the left temporal
region and an eight-centimeter hack wound on the anterior portion of his right thigh does not preclude
the fact that he was the unlawful aggressor; nor buttress his plea that he acted in self-defense. The
petitioner failed to inform the doctor that he sustained the wounds to defend himself. Moreover, the
doctor testified that the wounds the petitioner sustained were slight:

Pros. Ronquillo:

Q Does (sic) the wound at the right anterior thigh vertical, diagonal or what?

A I did not place it, Sir.

Q So, you dont know?

A It is vertical, Sir, but I did not place it on the record. And the hack wound on the temporal
region is oblique.

Q Were the injuries only slight?

A Yes, Sir.

Q So, it is (sic) possible that these injuries were self-inflicted?

A Probably, Sir, but I cannot comment on that.

Q You said that the patient was under the influence of alcohol? Would you say that the patient
was then so drunk at that time?

A When I saw him at that time, he was moderately drunk. 34

The doctor gave the petitioner due medications for 30 minutes and the petitioner then went home:

Q How did it happen that you were able to kill the victim in this case Mr. Leon Lumasac?

A Because when I went out, he hacked me, Sir.

Q Were you hit by the hack made by the victim in this case?

A Yes, Sir.

Q Where?

A Here, Sir.

And Witness is pointing to his left head.

Q Where else?

A (His) right thigh.

Q In what place did this incident happen?

A In the hut of Tata Santos, Sir.

Q What is his real name?

A Crisanto Reguyal, Sir.35

If, as claimed by the petitioner, the victim stabbed him frontally, it is incredible that the victim was
able to hack the anterior part of his right thigh.

Eighth. The testimony of the petitioner that the victim stabbed him outside the hut on the left side of
his head and the anterior portion of his right thigh is belied by his testimony on direct examination that
the victim stabbed him while still inside the hut of Reguyal:

Q How did it happen that you were able to kill the victim in this case Mr. Leon Lumasac?

A Because when I went out, he hacked me, Sir.

Q Were you hit by the hack made by the victim in this case?

A Yes, Sir.

Q Where?

A Here, Sir.

And Witness is pointing to his left head.

Q Where else?

A (His) right thigh.

Q In what place did this incident happen?

A In the hut of Tata Santos, Sir.

Q What is his real name?

A Crisanto Reguyal, Sir.36

But then, after the said incident, the petitioner and the victim had reconciled. We agree with the
following findings of the appellate court:

The question that must be resolved is whether or not the victim was the unlawful aggressor as
the appellants testimony pictures him to be. The Court rules in the negative. The victim had
already left the hut and was ten (10) meters away from it. There is no showing that the victim,
who was drunk, was aware that appellant was following him, or that the appellant called out to
him so that he (the victim) had to turn around and notice him. It is clear that at that point in
time, the victim was simply walking toward his home; he had stopped being an aggressor. It
was the appellant who, smarting from the earlier incident in the hut where Leon told him "hindi
ka tatagal, sa loob ng tatlong araw mayroong mangyayari sa iyo, kung hindi ngayon, bukas"
repeated three times, wanted a confrontation. Appellant stabbed or poked the victim in the left
buttock resulting in the non-fatal wound, and when the latter turned around, successively
stabbed and hacked the victim in the armpit and chest until he fell. In all, the victim suffered
nine (9) wounds.

It is the well-considered finding of this Court that while Leon Lumasac had ceased being the
aggressor after he left the hut to go home, accused Exequiel Senoja was now the unlawful
aggressor in this second phase of their confrontation. It bears mentioning that appellant
contradicted himself with respect for (sic) the reason why he left the hut. First, it was to pacify
Leon and the second reason was that he was going home.

As for appellants injuries, it is clear that they were sustained in the course of the victims
attempt to defend himself as shown by the lacerated wound on the victims left palm, a
defensive wound.37

IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision of the Court of
Appeals is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

Puno, Austria-Martinez, Tinga, and Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur.

Footnotes

Penned by Associate Justice Portia Alio-Hormachuelos, with Associate Justices Perlita J. Tria-

Tirona and Rosalinda Asuncion Vicente, concurring.

Penned by Acting Presiding Judge Armando A. Yanga.

Rollo, pp. 52-53.

Records, p. 1.

Rollo, pp. 11-12.

Id. at 22-23.

Id. at 13.

Id at 16-17.

Id. at 32-33.

10

People v. Noay, 296 SCRA 292 (1998).

11

Bishop, A Treatise on Criminal Law, 9th ed., Vol. I, pp. 599-600.

12

Id. at 180.

13

Wharton, Criminal Law, 12th ed., Vol. I, pp. 176-177.

14

People v. Langres, 316 SCRA 769 (1999).

15

Id. at 845-846.

16

People v. Arizala, 317 SCRA 244 (1999).

17

People v. Bitoon, Sr., 309 SCRA 209 (1999).

18

Bishop, supra, p. 617.

19

Wharton Criminal Law, 12th ed., Vol. I, p. 186.

20

People v. Arizala, 317 SCRA 244 (1999); People v. Real, 308 SCRA 244 (1999).

21

TSN, 7 September 2001, pp. 6-7.

22

Id. at 8-9.

23

Exhibit "A," Records, p. 13.

24

TSN, 20 November 1997, p. 8.

25

Id. at 7.

26

Id. at 8.

27

People v. More, 321 SCRA 538 (1999); People v. Real, 308 SCRA 244 (1999).

28

TSN, 7 September 2001, p. 9.

29

People v. Sunpongco, 163 SCRA 222 (1988).

30

People v. Piamonte, 303 SCRA 577 (1999).

31

TSN, 7 September 2001, p. 8.

32

Id. at 7.

33

TSN, 29 January 2002, p. 13.

34

TSN, 12 February 2002, pp. 3-4.

35

TSN, 14 March 2001, pp. 3-4.

36

Ibid.

37

Rollo, p. 33.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. NO. 158053

June 21, 2007

EDWIN RAZON y LUCEA, Petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.
DECISION
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari seeking the reversal of the Court of Appeals' (CA)
Resolution dated January 31, 20011 in CA-G.R. CR No. 22211 entitled "People of the Philippines v. Edwin
Razon y Lucea" and the CA Resolution dated April 14, 20032 which denied petitioner's motion for
reconsideration.
The facts as found by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) are summarized as follows:
PO1 Francisco Chopchopen (Chopchopen) was walking towards Upper Pinget Baguio City, at around
midnight of August 1, 1993, when a taxicab driven by Edwin Razon y Lucea (Razon) stopped beside
him. Razon told Chopchopen that he was held up by three men at Dreamland Subdivision. Chopchopen
then asked Razon to go with him to the place of the incident to check if the persons who held him up
were still there. Razon was hesitant at first but eventually went with Chopchopen to said area about
100 meters up the road. While walking about eight meters off the road, Chopchopen noticed a person
lying on the ground and partially hidden by a big stone. Upon closer look, Chopchopen saw that the
person's shirt was soaked in blood and that he was hardly breathing. Lying beside the man was a
wooden cane. Chopchopen asked Razon to help him bring the person to the hospital. On the way,
Chopchopen asked Razon if he was the one who stabbed the victim. Razon answered no. Soon they
met a police mobile patrol driven by SPO2 Samuel Bumangil (Bumangil) who followed them to Baguio
General Hospital. The victim, who was later identified as Benedict Kent Gonzalo (Gonzalo), was
pronounced dead on arrival.3 He was 23 years old and a polio victim.4
Upon questioning, Razon told Bumangil that he was held up by three men, which included Gonzalo
whom he stabbed in self-defense. Razon brought out a fan knife and told Bumangil that it was the knife
he used to stab Gonzalo. A later search of the cab however yielded another weapon, a colonial knife
with bloodstains which was found under a newspaper near the steering wheel. At the police station,
Razon admitted having stabbed Gonzalo but insisted that he did so in self-defense. 5
An autopsy conducted on the body of the victim showed that he sustained three stab wounds, to wit: a
stab wound measuring 2.5 cm. found
in the front and lower quadrant of the abdomen, directed inward towards the mid-line and slightly
upward entering the abdominal wall and perforating the small intestines, pancreas and the abdominal
aorta, having an approximate depth of 12 cm.; a stab wound on the left arm measuring 5 cm. with one
end blunt and the other end sharp having an approximate depth of about 1 cm.; and a stab wound on
the right buttock 1.3 cm. long with a depth of about 4 cm. The stab wound on the abdomen killed
Gonzalo, as it penetrated the small intestines, pancreas and the abdominal aorta, causing massive
hemorrhage and loss of blood. Abrasions and contusions were also found on the body of Gonzalo,
located on the left ear lobe, on the chest, on the left anterolateral side, on the mid-posterior aspect
and on the lumbar region of the back.6
Razon for his part asserted that he acted in self-defense. He claimed that around 11:30 p.m. on August
1, 1993, three men boarded his cab from the Philippine Rabbit bus station along Magsaysay Avenue in
Baguio who asked to be brought to Dreamland Subdivision in Pinget for the total sum of P90.00. Upon
reaching their destination and while Razon was turning the cab around, Gonzalo, who was seated
behind the driver's seat, declared a hold-up and poked a Batangas knife (veinte nueve) at the right
side of the base of Razon's neck. The two other passengers were shocked but Gonzalo told them to get
their knives, stab Razon and grab his right hand. Razon however was able to grab the knife and release
his right hand from Gonzalo's two companions. Gonzalo's companions then went out of the cab and
picked up stones. Gonzalo followed and Razon ran after them. Gonzalo was swinging his cane and it hit

Razon on his right leg. Razon then thought of his knife inside the cab and he went to get it and
confronted the
three by swinging his knife from left to right. Gonzalo's companions ran away and Razon went back to
his cab and left.7
Not finding credence in Razon's claim of self-defense, RTC Branch 60 of Baguio City convicted him of
homicide as follows:
WHEREFORE, this Court finds the accused, Edwin Razon y Lucea, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of
the crime of HOMICIDE. There being no mitigating or aggravating circumstance, he is hereby
sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of 6 years and 1 day of prision mayor as minimum, to 14 years
8 months and 1 day of reclusion temporal as maximum.
He is further ordered to pay the heirs of Benedict Kent Gonzalo, Jr. the amount of P12,770.00 by way of
actual damages; P50,000.00 by way of moral damages; and P10,000.00 by way of attorney's fees.
SO ORDERED.8
Razon filed a notice of appeal,9 and the CA required him, through his counsel Atty. Rigoberto D.
Gallardo (Atty. Gallardo) to file an appellant's brief.10 Two motions for extension of time were filed by
Atty. Gallardo.11 Instead of filing the brief, however, Atty. Gallardo filed a Motion to Withdraw as Counsel
for the Accused-Appellant on January 7, 1999, claiming that Razon had consistently shown his
disinterest in the case by not attending much needed conferences. 12 The CA ordered Atty. Gallardo to
file another motion to withdraw with Razon's conformity; thus Atty. Gallardo filed a motion dated
February 1, 1999, with a signature, purportedly that of Razon's. 13 Later, the CA received a
Manifestation dated February 17, 1999, stating that Atty. Gallardo's firm could not secure Razon's
signature to signify his conformity to Atty. Gallardo's withdrawal as his counsel, Atty. Gallardo thus
requested that he be relieved of his responsibilities as counsel
even without Razon's conformity.14
Due to the inconsistency of the manifestations of Atty. Gallardo in his motions dated February 1, 1999
and February 17, 1999, the CA issued a Resolution directing Razon to manifest the authenticity of his
signature appearing on the February 1, 1999 motion to withdraw as counsel filed by Atty. Gallardo. The
CA also required Razon to cause the entry of appearance of a new counsel within 5 days from notice. 15
On August 27, 1999, the CA granted Atty. Gallardo's motion to withdraw as counsel and directed Razon
anew to cause the entry of appearance of his new counsel or manifest whether he wanted the CA to
appoint a counsel de oficio to defend him, within five days from notice with warning that failure to
comply with said Resolution shall cause the dismissal of his appeal. 16
On February 22, 2000, the CA again issued a Resolution which noted the Judicial Records Division (JRD)
report that no compliance had been filed by Razon with the resolution dated August 27, 1999;
considered the right of the accused to be represented by counsel as waived; and directed the JRD, in
the interest of justice, to resend the notice to file brief to Razon. 17 On February 28, 2000, the CA issued
another notice to file brief, this time addressed to and received by Razon himself. 18 On July 12, 2000,
the CA issued a Resolution requiring Razon to show cause why his appeal should not be dismissed for
failure to file the required brief despite notice thereof.19
With the failure of Razon to comply with the said directives, the CA on January 31, 2001, issued the
herein assailed Resolution dismissing his appeal as follows:
WHEREFORE, the appeal is deemed ABANDONED and DISMISSED on authority of Section 8, Rule 124 of
the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure.20

On July 25, 2001, the CA received a Motion for Reconsideration filed by Razon stating that he could not
read and understand English and that Atty. Gallardo was negligent of his duties to him, as said lawyer
filed his withdrawal of appearance even without his (Razon's) knowledge and conformity. 21

The CA denied Razon's motion for reconsideration through its Resolution dated April 14, 2003, thus: 22
1. Indeed the instant motion for reconsideration was filed out of time in violation of Section 16, Rule
124 of the same Rules for the appellant admitted that on March 6, 2001 he received this Court's
Resolution dated January 31, 2001 dismissing his appeal but the record shows that he filed the subject
motion four months later or only on July 19, 2001 to be exact.
2. Our dismissal is warranted by Section 8 of Rule 124 and circumstances showing that it was not only
his previous counsel that was lax and negligent but the appellant as well...
xxx
3. The appellant had ignored Our directives and the option given him to have the services of a
counsel de oficio.23
Petitioner now comes before this Court claiming that the CA erred in declaring his appeal as
abandoned and dismissed.24 He claims that he is not bound by the actions of Atty. Gallardo who was
negligent of his duties to him; Atty. Gallardo failed to file the required appeal brief before the CA
despite the many extensions given him; worse, Atty. Gallardo filed a motion to withdraw his
appearance as petitioner's counsel without petitioner's knowledge; it was only when he received the
CA Resolution dated January 31, 2001 that he learned of the withdrawal of Atty. Gallardo as his
counsel, and it was only then that Atty. Gallardo advised him to get another lawyer; petitioner received
the records of the case from Atty. Gallardo, only on March 9, 2001; petitioner failed to comply with the
CA resolutions because he could not understand the same due to his educational deficiency; and given
the chance to ventilate his appeal, petitioner would be absolved of the charge against him as he truly
acted in self defense.25
For the State, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) contended that petitioner himself is guilty of
negligence; the CA gave him ample opportunity to secure the services of counsel or manifest his desire
to have a counsel de oficio appointed by the court, but petitioner ignored said directives; petitioner's
motion for reconsideration of the CA's Resolution dated January 31, 2001 was also filed out of time;
and Sec. 8, Rule 124 of the Rules of Court provides that the appellate court may dismiss an appeal if
the appellant fails to file his brief within the time prescribed by the said Rule. 26
Petitioner filed a Reply and both parties filed their memoranda reiterating their respective arguments. 27
Sifting the arguments raised, it is clear that only two questions need to be answered: (1) whether the
CA erred in dismissing petitioner's appeal for failure to file appellant's brief; and (2) whether petitioner
acted in self-defense in killing Gonzalo.
The Court answers both questions in the negative.
The first issue. Whether the CA erred in dismissing petitioner's appeal for failure to file appellant's
brief.
While appeal is an essential part of our judicial system, a party must strictly comply with the requisites
laid down by the Rules of Court on appeals, mindful of the fact that an appeal is purely a statutory
right. Procedural rules are designed to facilitate the adjudication of cases. Both courts and litigants are
therefore enjoined to abide strictly by the rules. While there are instances when the Court allows a
relaxation in the application of the rules, such liberality is not intended to forge a bastion for erring

litigants to violate the rules with impunity. Liberality in the interpretation and application of the rules
applies only in proper cases and under justifiable causes and circumstances. 28
Indeed, the CA may dismiss an appeal for failure to file appellant's brief on time. It is given the
discretion which must be exercised in accordance with the tenets of justice and fair play, having in
mind the circumstances obtaining in each case.29
In this case, the CA gave petitioner sufficient opportunity to file his appellant's brief. Instead of
complying, however, petitioner chose to ignore the many directives of the CA and now puts the blame
on his former counsel Atty. Gallardo, who was allegedly guilty of gross negligence.
Even if the Court were to admit that Atty. Gallardo was negligent, the rule is that negligence of counsel
binds the client. The only exception is when the negligence of said counsel is so gross, reckless and
inexcusable that the client is deprived of his day in court. 30 No such excepting circumstance can be
said to be present in this case because as properly observed by the appellate court, petitioner himself
was guilty of negligence.31
As borne by the records, the CA issued a Resolution on April 15, 1999 requiring petitioner to manifest
within five days from receipt thereof the authenticity of his signature appearing in the motion to
withdraw as counsel filed by Atty. Gallardo dated February 1, 1999, and to inform the CA of his new
counsel.32 On August 27, 1999, the CA granted Atty. Gallardo's motion to withdraw as counsel and
required petitioner anew to cause the entry of appearance of his new counsel or manifest whether he
desires the CA to appoint a counsel de oficio to defend him, with a warning that failure to comply with
the said resolution shall cause the dismissal of his appeal. On February 28, 2000, the CA issued
another notice to file brief, this time addressed to Razon himself. 33 In a Resolution dated July 12, 2000,
the CA required Razon to show cause why his appeal should not be dismissed for failure to file the
required brief.34 On January 31, 2001, or almost three years after the notice of appeal was filed, the CA
finally issued a resolution
dismissing petitioner's appeal.35
Despite the many notices given him, Razon still failed to comply with the CA's directives. He also took
a long time to file his motion for reconsideration of the CA's January 31, 2001 Resolution because while
he admittedly received a copy of the said resolution on March 6, 2001, he only filed his motion for
reconsideration on July 19, 2001 or more than four months later.
It is thus clear that petitioner was guilty of neglect. He was aware of his conviction and of the
requirement of filing an appellant's brief.36 Yet he had no urgency in filing the same, even with the CA's
explicit orders. His excuse that his educational deficiency prevented him from complying with the CA's
resolutions deserves scant consideration. He was able to secure the services of counsel to file for him a
petition before this Court. Had he exerted earlier the kind of effort he put in getting a new counsel, or
had he simply notified the court of his desire to have a counsel de oficio assigned to him, then he
would not have to contend with the predicament he is presently in. For the resolution of the CA
dismissing his appeal on the ground of abandonment, petitioner has no one else to blame but himself.
The second issue. Whether petitioner acted in self-defense.
While the CA did not rule on the merits of the case, it is best not to remand the case to the CA. All the
records and evidence necessary for the determination of the innocence or guilt of the petitioner are
before this Court. Thus, for a complete and full disposition of the case and to avert further delay in the
disposition of the same, the Court shall hereby resolve the case on the merits. 37
It is settled that when an accused admits killing the victim but invokes self-defense to escape criminal
liability, the accused assumes the burden to establish his plea by credible, clear and convincing
evidence; otherwise, conviction would follow from his admission that he killed the victim. 38 Self-defense
cannot be justifiably appreciated when uncorroborated by independent and competent evidence or
when it is extremely doubtful by itself.39 Indeed, in invoking self-defense, the burden of evidence is

shifted and the accused claiming self-defense must rely on the strength of his own evidence and not
on the weakness of the prosecution.40
Here, petitioner admitted having inflicted the wound which killed Gonzalo. 41 The burden is therefore on
him to show that he did so in self-defense. As correctly found by the RTC, however, petitioner failed to
prove the elements of self-defense.
To escape liability, the person claiming self-defense must show by sufficient, satisfactory and
convincing evidence that: (1) the victim committed unlawful aggression amounting to actual or
imminent threat to the life and limb of the person claiming self-defense; (2) there was reasonable
necessity in the means employed to prevent or repel the unlawful aggression; and (3) there was lack of
sufficient provocation on the part of the person claiming self-defense or at least any provocation
executed by the person claiming self-defense was not the proximate and immediate cause of the
victim's aggression.42
The condition sine qua non for the justifying circumstance of self-defense is the element of unlawful
aggression.43There can be no self-defense unless the victim committed unlawful aggression against the
person who resorted to self-defense.44 Unlawful aggression presupposes an actual, sudden and
unexpected attack or imminent danger thereof and not just a threatening or intimidating attitude. 45 In
case of threat, it must be offensive, strong and positively showing the wrongful intent to cause
injury.46 For a person to be considered the unlawful aggressor, he must be shown to have exhibited
external acts clearly showing his intent to cause and commit harm to the other. 47
Petitioner claims that Gonzalo, who was seated behind him in the taxicab, declared a hold-up and
poked a knife at the base of his neck. Granting that this is true, what transpired next, changed the
nature of the roles played by petitioner and Gonzalo.
As correctly found by the trial court:
Without scrutinizing Razon's assertion that he was held up, and assuming the same to be true, there
was, indeed unlawful aggression when Gonzalo poked a knife on Razon's neck. But, when Razon, in a
Herculean feat, was able to grab the knife from Gonzalo and freed his right hand from the hold of
Gonzalo's two companions, the aggression no longer existed. In fact, Gonzalo's two companions, went
out of the taxicab and Gonzalo himself went out also towards the canal of the road. At this point, Razon
could have started his taxicab and left the place because he was left alone in the taxicab. But he did
not. He went after Gonzalo and his two companions and started swinging the knife he grabbed from
Gonzalo. He even had time to go back to the taxicab and get his own knife and then went back to the
three men. He then was holding two knives. There was no proof that Gonzalo's companions were able
to throw stones at him or the taxicab to indicate perhaps, that his three passengers who intended to
hold him up continued their unlawful aggression...
When Gonzalo and his two companions went out of the taxicab, and Razon followed them outside,
Razon became the aggressor. The wounds sustained by Gonzalo would clearly show that he was
attacked by Razon.48
Such findings are well supported by the records. During his direct testimony, Razon admitted that he
followed the three men, including Gonzalo, after they got out of the cab. Then he went back to his cab
to get his knife.49 On cross-examination, Razon admitted the same thing, and added the following:
Q. And you said that you swung the knife from left to right, is that correct?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And you were able to hit Benedict Kent Gonzalo, Jr.?
A. Yes, sir.

xxx
Q. So you admitted that the injuries sustained by Benedict Kent Gonzalo in front of his
abdomen was due to your act of swinging the knife from left to right in front of him?
A. Yes, sir.
xxx
Q. And tell the Court if this is the one that you used, this colonial knife, previously marked as Exh. "A."
A. This is the one, sir.
Q. Yes, you testified the last time that you have to go back to your taxi cab and get this knife marked
as Exh. "A"?
A. Yes, sir.50 (Emphasis supplied)
On re-cross, Razon further admitted that:
Q. And you went near the canal where Benedict Kent Gonzalo, Jr. was?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And the two others were already running away?
A. They were still there at that time.
Q. Do you know that Benedict Kent Gonzalo, Jr. was a victim of polio?
A. No, sir.
Q. But he did not run unlike the other two?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. He was in the canal which is lower than the road, is that correct?
A. Yes, sir.
ATTY. GALLARDO:
Witness is demonstrating the height of the canal about one foot, Your Honor.
ATTY. MOLINTAS:
You have to go near him and go down the canal also, is that correct?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. That's where you swung your knife left and right towards Benedict Kent Gonzalo, Jr.?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. And Benedict Kent Gonzalo, Jr. did not try to run away from you?
A. When I went up to get my taxi, that was the time he run away, sir. 51 (Emphasis supplied)
Petitioner unequivocally admitted that after the three men went out of his taxicab, he ran after them
and later went back to his cab to get his colonial knife; then he went down the canal to swing his knife
at the victim, wounding and killing him in the process. Such can no longer be deemed as self-defense.
It is settled that the moment the first aggressor runs away, unlawful aggression on the part of the first
aggressor ceases to exist; and when unlawful aggression ceases, the defender no longer has any right
to kill or wound the former aggressor; otherwise, retaliation and not self-defense is
committed.52 Retaliation is not the same as self-defense. In retaliation, the aggression that was begun
by the injured party already ceased when the accused attacked him, while in self-defense the
aggression was still existing when the aggressor was injured by the accused. 53
Even assuming that some danger did in fact exist, the imminence of that danger had already ceased
the moment petitioner was able to disarm the victim by wresting the knife from the latter. After the
former had successfully seized the weapon, and he as well as his companions went out of the cab,
there was no longer any unlawful aggression to speak of that would have necessitated the need to kill
the victim.54
The defense employed by petitioner also cannot be said to be reasonable. The means employed by a
person claiming self-defense must be commensurate to the nature and the extent of the attack sought
to be averted, and must be rationally necessary to prevent or repel an unlawful aggression. 55 The
nature or quality of the weapon; the physical condition, the character, the size and other
circumstances of the aggressor as well as those of the person who invokes self-defense; and the place
and the occasion of the assault also define the reasonableness of the means used in self-defense. 56
In this case, the deceased was a polio victim, which explains the presence of the wooden cane at the
scene of the crime.57 Petitioner also admitted that when he went after Gonzalo, he had in his
possession two knives, the Batangas knife he wrested from the hold-uppers and the colonial knife
which he took from his cab.58
Other circumstances also render petitioner's claim of self-defense as dubious and unworthy of belief.
The nature and location of the victim's wounds manifest petitioner's resolve to end the life of the
victim.59 Here, the wound that killed Gonzalo was 12 cm. deep which was directed inward and
slightly upward, entering the abdominal cavity, perforating the small intestines and penetrating the
pancreas and the abdominal aorta.60 Petitioner also did not inform the authorities at the earliest
opportunity that he wounded Gonzalo in self-defense; 61 neither did he surrender right away the colonial
knife which he used in stabbing the victim. He only invoked self-defense when he could no longer
conceal his deed. As testified to by Chopchopen, Razon was hesitant at first to go to the place where
he was allegedly held up.62 Then when Chopchopen discovered the body of Gonzalo and while they
were bringing him to the hospital, he asked Razon if he was the one who stabbed Gonzalo, to which
Razon answered in the negative.63 He only admitted to having stabbed the victim at the police station
after he was investigated by police officers.64
Petitioner's claim that he also suffered injuries brought by the attack on him by the victim is belied by
the testimonies of police officers Chopchopen and Bumangil who said that they did not see any injury
on Razon on the night in question.65
With petitioner's failure to prove self-defense, the inescapable conclusion is that he is guilty of
homicide as correctly found by the RTC.
As to the damages awarded by the RTC, however, the Court finds that certain modifications need to be
made. While not assigned as errors, it is the duty of the Court to correct such errors as may be found in
the judgment appealed from, since an appeal in a criminal case throws the whole case wide open for
review.66

The Court notes that the RTC failed to award the heirs of Gonzalo, P50,000.00 as civil indemnity for his
death.67Civil indemnity is automatically imposed upon the accused without need of proof other than
the fact of commission of murder or homicide.68
Anent actual damages, the Court resolves to delete the same and in lieu thereof imposes temperate
damages in the amount of P25,000.00. This is consistent with the ruling of the Court in People v.
Werba,69 citing People v. Villanueva70 which held that in instances where actual expenses amounting to
less than P25,000.00 are proved during the trial, the award of temperate damages of P25,000.00 is
justified in lieu of the actual damages of a lesser amount. 71 In this case, Gonzalo's heirs were only able
to present receipts amounting to P4,925.00.72
As to moral damages, the RTC correctly awarded the amount of P50,000.00, as the prosecution was
able to show that the father of the victim, Benedicto Gonzalo, Sr., suffered mental and emotional
anguish due to the untimely death of his son. Gonzalo Sr., who was 74 years old at the time of his
testimony, said that he had special affection for his son, not only because he was the youngest among
all his children, but also because he was a polio victim. He said that he could not eat and sleep
thinking that his son could not have put up a fight due to his physical disability. 73 Indeed, moral
damages may be awarded in favor of the heirs of a victim upon sufficient proof of mental anguish,
serious anxiety, wounded feelings and similar
injury.74
The RTC also did not err in awarding P10,000.00 as attorney's fees to the heirs of the victim. As
provided for in Art. 2208 (11)75 of the Civil Code, attorney's fees may be awarded where the court
deems it just and equitable that attorney's fees and expenses of litigation should be recovered. In this
case the award of attorney's fees is proper as it is borne by the records that the family of the victim
hired the services of a private lawyer to prosecute the case. 76
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 60, Baguio City, in Criminal Case No.
12245-R, entitled "People of the Philippines v. Edwin Razon y Lucea"
is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION to the effect that petitioner is ordered to pay the heirs of Benedict
Kent Gonzalo, Jr. the amount of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity andP25,000.00 as temperate damages in
addition to P50,000.00 as moral damages and P10,000.00 as attorney's fees.
SO ORDERED.
MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ
Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:
CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice
Chairperson
MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
Associate Justice

ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA


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.

CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Third 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

Footnotes
Through Associate Justice Roberto A. Barrios and concurred in by Associate Justices Ramon
Mabutas, Jr. and Bienvenido L. Reyes.; rollo, p. 30.
1

Id. at 32-35.

Records, p. 416 (RTC Decision, p. 1).

Records, p. 418 (RTC Decision, p. 3).

Records, p. 416 (RTC Decision, p. 1).

Records, p. 417 (RTC Decision pp. 2). See also Records, p. 76 (Autopsy Report, Exh. "D").

Records, p. 419 (RTC Decision, p. 4).

Records, p. 422. (RTC Decision p. 7).

CA rollo, pp. 16-17.

10

Id. at 19.

11

Id. at 20-27.

12

Id. at 30-31.

13

Id. at 35-36.

14

Id. at 38-39.

15

Resolution dated April 5, 1999, addressed to Razon with return card; id. at 41.

16

Id. at 42.

17

Id. at 44.

18

Id. at 45.

19

Id. at 47.

20

Id. at 49; Sec. 8 of Rule 124 reads:

"Dismissal of appeal for abandonment or failure to prosecute. --- The Court of Appeals may,
upon motion of the appellee or motu propio and with notice to the appellant in either case,
dismiss the appeal if the appellant fails to file his brief within the time prescribed by this Rule,
except where the appellant is represented by counsel de oficio.
The Court of Appeals may also, upon motion of the appellee or motu propio, dismiss the appeal
if the appellant escapes from prison or confinement, jumps bail or flees to a foreign country
during the pendency of the appeal.
21

Id. at 53-54.

22

Id. at 79.

23

Id. at 78-79.

24

Rollo, p. 21.

25

Id. at 22-26.

26

Id. at 51-56.

27

Id. at 72-77; 82-96; 99-113.

Sajot v. Court of Appeals, 364 Phil. 182, 186 (1999) citing Garbo v. Court of Appeals, 327 Phil.
780, 784 (1996).
28

Natonton v. Magaway, G.R. No. 147011, March 31, 2006, 486 SCRA 199, 204; Aguam v. Court
of Appeals, 388 Phil. 587, 593 (2000).
29

30

Sapad v. Court of Appeals, 401 Phil. 478, 483 (2000).

31

Rollo, p. 12. (CA Resolution dated April 14, 2003).

32

CA rollo, p. 41, with return card.

33

Id. at 45, with return card.

34

Id. at 46, with return card.

35

Id. at 49.

36

Sajot v. Court of Appeals, supra note 28, at 187.

See People v. Abuyen, G.R. No. 77285, September 4, 1992, 213 SCRA 569, 579; People v.
Lizada, G.R. Nos. 143468-71, January 24, 2003, 396 SCRA 62, 78; Ongson v. People, G.R. No.
156169, August 12, 2005, 466 SCRA 656, 668.
37

38

People v. Tagana, G.R. No. 133027, March 4, 2004, 424 SCRA 620, 634.

39

Marzonia v. People, G.R No. 153794, June 26, 2006, 492 SCRA 627, 634.

40

People v. Tagana, supra at 634.

41

TSN, Edwin Razon, December 12, 1994, p. 6.

People v. Tagana, supra at 634-635. See also Toledo v. People, G.R. No. 158057, September
24, 2004, 439 SCRA 94, 109; People v. Vicente, 452 Phil. 986, 998 (2003).
42

43

Toledo v. People, supra at 109.

44

People v. Catbagan, G.R. Nos. 149430-32, February 23, 2004, 423 SCRA 535, 540.

Toledo v. People, supra note 41, at 109; People v. Tagana, supra note 37, at 635; People v.
Vicente, supra note 41, at 998.
45

46

People v. Catbagan, supra at 557.

47

People v. Vicente, supra at 998.

48

Records, p. 420 (RTC Decision, p. 5).

49

TSN, December 1, 1994, pp. 13-16.

50

TSN, December 12, 1994, pp. 5-7.

51

TSN, December 12, 1994, pp. 20-21.

52

People v. Tagana, supra note 37, at 635; People v. Vicente, supra note 41, at 998.

53

People v. Vicente, supra at 998.

54

See People v. Escarlos, 457 Phil. 580, 597 (2003).

55

People v. Escarlos, supra at 598.

56

People v. Catbagan, supra note 43 at 557-558.

57

Records, p. 418 (RTC Decision, p. 3).

58

TSN, Edwin Razon, December 12, 1994, pp. 7, 17.

59

See People v. Vicente, supra note 41, at 1002.

60

Records, p. 76. (Autopsy Report, Exh. "D").

61

See People v. Vicente, supra note 41, at 1002

62

TSN, Francisco Chopchopen, March 16, 1994, p. 5.

63

Id. at 7.

64

Id. at 8.

65

Id. at 30; Samuel Bumangil, May 18, 1994, p. 8.

66

Ferrer v. People, G.R. No. 143487, February 22, 2006, 483 SCRA 31, 54.

67

See People v. Escarlos, supra note 53, at 602.

68

People v. Abatayo, G.R. No. 139456, July 7, 2004, 433 SCRA 562, 582.

69

G.R. No. 144599, June 9, 2004, 431 SCRA 482, 499.

70

456 Phil. 14 (2003).

71

People v. Werba, supra at 499-500.

This amount is comprised of P4,700.00 which was issued by the Baguio Memorial Chapels,
Exh. "N", records, p. 259; P20.00 for transfer permit, Exh. "O", records, p. 241; P5.00 for burial
permit, Exh. "M-2", records, p. 238; P200.00 for permit to construct tomb, Exh. "M", records, p.
235.
72

TSN, Benedicto Gonzalo, Sr., October 19, 1994, pp. 8,11. See also records p. 418, RTC
Decision p. 3.
73

74

People v. Abatayo, supra note 67, at 582. See also Art. 2217 of the New Civil Code.

Art. 2208. In the absence of stipulation, attorney's fees and expenses of litigation, other than
judicial costs, cannot be recovered, except:
75

xxx
(11) In any other case where the court deems it just and equitable that attorney's fees and
expenses of litigation should be recovered.
76

See Ungsod v. People, G.R. No. 158904, December 16, 2005, 478 SCRA 282, 297.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. Nos. 146646-49. March 11, 2005
ROGELIO M. ESTEBAN, Petitioners,
vs.
THE SANDIGANBAYAN and THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents.
DECISION
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:
Before us is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended,
assailing the Resolution1 dated December 18, 2000 of the Sandiganbayan (1st Division) and
Order2 dated January 11, 2000 in Criminal Cases Nos. 24703-04.
The instant petition stemmed from the sworn complaint3 of Ana May V. Simbajon against Judge Rogelio
M. Esteban, filed with the Office of the City Prosecutor, Cabanatuan City on September 8, 1997,
docketed as I.S. Nos. 9-97-8239.

In her complaint, Ana May alleged that she was a casual employee of the City Government of
Cabanatuan City. Sometime in February 1997, she was detailed with the Municipal Trial Court in Cities
(MTCC), Branch 1, Cabanatuan City, upon incessant request of Presiding Judge Rogelio Esteban, herein
petitioner.
After her detail with Branch 1, the item of bookbinder became vacant. Thus, she applied for the
position but petitioner did not take any action on her application. On July 25, 1997, when she
approached petitioner in his chambers to follow up her application, he told her, "Ano naman ang
magiging kapalit ng pagpirma ko rito? Mula ngayon, girlfriend na kita. Araw-araw papasok ka dito sa
opisina ko, at araw-araw, isang halik." ("What can you offer me in exchange for my signature? From
now on, you are my girlfriend. You will enter this office everyday and everyday, I get one kiss.") 4 Ana
May refused to accede to his proposal as she considered him like her own father.
Petitioner nonetheless recommended her for appointment. Thereafter, he suddenly kissed her on her
left cheek. She was shocked and left the chambers, swearing never to return or talk to petitioner.
On August 5, 1997, at around 9:30 in the morning, Virginia S. Medina, court interpreter, informed Ana
May that petitioner wanted to see her in his chambers regarding the payroll. As a subordinate, she
complied. Once inside, petitioner asked her if she has been receiving her salary as a bookbinder. When
she answered in the affirmative, he said, "Matagal na pala eh, bakit hindi ka pumapasok dito sa
kuwarto ko? Di ba sabi ko say iyo, girlfriend na kita?" ("So youve been getting the salary for sometime
already. Why didnt you report here in my office? Didnt I tell you, youre my girlfriend.") 5
Again, Ana May protested to his proposal, saying he is like a father to her and that he is a married man
with two sons.
Petitioner suddenly rose from his seat, grabbed her and said, "Hindi pwede yan, mahal kita." ("I cant
allow that for I love you.") He embraced her, kissing her all over her face and touching her right breast.
Ana May freed herself and dashed out of the chambers crying. She threw the payroll on the table of
her co-employee, Elizabeth Q. Manubay. The latter sensed something was wrong and accompanied
Ana May to the restroom. There she told Elizabeth what happened.
On March 9 and July 1, 1998, two Informations for violation of R.A. 7877 (the Anti-Sexual Harassment
Law of 1995) were filed against petitioner with the Sandiganbayan, docketed therein as Criminal Cases
Nos. 24490 and 24702.
Also on July 1, 1998, two Informations for acts of lasciviousness were filed with the same court,
docketed as Criminal Cases. 24703-04.
On September 18, 1998, petitioner filed a motion to quash the Informations in Criminal Cases Nos.
24703-04 for acts of lasciviousness on the ground that he has been placed four (4) times in jeopardy
for the same offense.
The Sandiganbayan denied the motion to quash but directed the prosecution to determine if the
offenses charged in Criminal Cases Nos. 24703-04 were committed in relation to petitioners functions
as a judge.
On September 3, 1999, the prosecution filed Amended Informations in Criminal Cases Nos. 24703 and
24704 quoted as follows:
Criminal Case No. 24703:
That on or about the 5th day of August 1997 in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija, Philippines and within
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, JUDGE ROGELIO M. ESTEBAN, a
public officer, being then the Presiding Judge of Branch 1 of the Municipal Trial Court in Cabanatuan
City, who after having been rejected by the private complainant, Ana May V. Simbajon, of his sexual

demands or solicitations to be his girlfriend and to enter his room daily for a kiss as a condition for the
signing of complainants permanent appointment as a bookbinder in his Court, thus in relation to his
office or position as such, with lewd design and malicious desire, did then and there willfully, unlawfully
and feloniously planted a kiss on her left cheek against her will and consent, to her damage and
detriment.
CONTRARY TO LAW.6
Criminal Case No. 24704
That on or about the 25th day of June 1997 in in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija, Philippines and within
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, JUDGE ROGELIO M. ESTEBAN, a
public officer, being then the Presiding Judge of Branch 1 of the Municipal Trial Court in Cabanatuan
City, who after having been rejected by the private complainant, Ana May V. Simbajon, of his sexual
demands or solicitations to be his girlfriend and to enter his room daily for a kiss as a condition for the
signing of complainants permanent appointment as a bookbinder in his Court, thus in relation to his
office or position as such, with lewd design and malicious desire, did then and there willfully, unlawfully
and feloniously planted a kiss on her left cheek against her will and consent, to her damage and
detriment.
CONTRARY TO LAW.7
On September 29, 1999, petitioner filed a motion to quash the Amended Informations on the ground
that the Sandiganbayan has no jurisdiction over the crimes charged considering that they were not
committed in relation to his office as a judge.
On November 22, 1999, before the Sandiganbayan could resolve the motion to quash, the prosecution
filed the following Re-Amended Information in Criminal Case No. 24703:
"That on or about the 5th day of August 1997 in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija, Philippines and within
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, JUDGE ROGELIO M. ESTEBAN, a
public officer, being then the Presiding Judge of Branch 1 of the Municipal Trial Court in Cabanatuan
City, who after having been rejected by the private complainant, Ana May V. Simbajon, of his sexual
demands or solicitations to be his girlfriend and to enter his room daily for a kiss as a condition for the
signing of complainants permanent appointment as a bookbinder in his Court, thus in relation to his
office or position as such, with lewd design and malicious desire, did then and there willfully, unlawfully
and feloniously grab private complainant, kiss her all over her face and touch her right breast against
her will and consent, to her damage and detriment.
CONTRARY TO LAW."8
which was admitted by the Sandiganbayan.
On December 18, 2000, the Sandiganbayan denied petitioners motion to quash the Amended
Informations, holding that "the act of approving or indorsing the permanent appointment of
complaining witness was certainly a function of the office of the accused so that his acts are, therefore,
committed in relation to his office."9
Petitioner then moved for a reconsideration, but was denied by the Sandiganbayan in its Order dated
January 11, 2001.
Hence, the instant petition for certiorari.
The sole issue for our resolution is whether the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over Criminal Cases
Nos. 24703-04 for acts of lasciviousness filed against petitioner.

Petitioner contends that the alleged acts of lasciviousness were not committed in relation to his office
as a judge; and the fact that he is a public official is not an essential element of the crimes charged.
The Ombudsman, represented by the Office of the Special Prosecutor, maintains that the allegations in
the two (2) Amended Informations in Criminal Cases Nos. 24703-04 indicate a close relationship
between petitioners official functions as a judge and the commission of acts of lasciviousness.
The petition is bereft of merit.
Section 4 of Presidential Decree No. 1606, as amended by Republic Act No. 8249, 10 reads in part:
SEC. 4. Jurisdiction. The Sandiganbayan shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction in all cases
involving:
xxx
b. Other offenses or felonies whether simple or complexed with other crime committed by the public
officials and employees mentioned in subsection a of this section in relation to their office.
In People v. Montejo,11 we ruled that an offense is said to have been committed in relation to
the office if the offense is "intimately connected" with the office of the offender and
perpetrated while he was in the performance of his official functions. This intimate relation between
the offense charged and the discharge of official duties must be alleged in the Information. 12 This is in
accordance with the rule that the factor that characterizes the charge is the actual recital of the facts
in the complaint or information.13 Hence, where the information is wanting in specific factual
averments to show the intimate relationship/connection between the offense charged and the
discharge of official functions, the Sandiganbayan has no jurisdiction over the case. 14
Under Supreme Court Circular No. 7 dated April 27, 1987, 15 petitioner, as presiding judge of MTCC,
Branch 1, Cabanatuan City, is vested with the power to recommend the appointment of Ana May
Simbajon as bookbinder. As alleged in the Amended Informations in Criminal Cases Nos. 24703-04, she
was constrained to approach petitioner on June 25, 1997 as she needed his recommendation. But he
imposed a condition before extending such recommendation - she should be his girlfriend and must
report daily to his office for a kiss. There can be no doubt, therefore, that petitioner used his official
position in committing the acts complained of. While it is true, as petitioner argues, that public office is
not an element of the crime of acts of lasciviousness, defined and penalized under Article 336 of the
Revised Penal Code, nonetheless, he could not have committed the crimes charged were it not for the
fact that as the Presiding Judge of the MTCC, Branch I, Cabanatuan City, he has the authority to
recommend the appointment of Ana May as bookbinder. In other words, the crimes allegedly
committed are intimately connected with his office.
The jurisdiction of a court is determined by the allegations in the complaint or information. 16 The
Amended Informations in Criminal Cases Nos. 24703-04 contain allegations showing that the acts of
lasciviousness were committed by petitioner in relation to his official function.
Accordingly, we rule that the Sandiganbayan did not gravely abuse its discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction in admitting the Amended Informations for acts of lasciviousness in Criminal
Cases Nos. 24703-04.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. The assailed Resolution and Order of the Sandiganbayan
dated December 18, 2000 and January 11, 2001, in Criminal Cases Nos. 24703-04 are AFFIRMED. Costs
against the petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Panganiban, (Chairman), Corona, and Garcia, JJ., concur.

Carpio-Morales, J., on leave.

Footnotes
Rollo, pp. 24-28. Per then Presiding Justice Francis E. Garchitorena (deceased), and concurred
in by Associate Justice Catalino R. Castaeda (retired) and Associate Justice Gregory S. Ong.
1

Id. at 29-30.

Id. at 32-34.

Id. at 32.

Id. at 33.

Id. at 48-49.

Id. at 51-52.

Id. at 26.

Id. at 27.

The statute is entitled "An Act Further Defining The Jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan,
Amending For the Purpose, Presidential Decree No. 1605, As Amended, Providing Funds
Therefore, And For Other Purposes."
10

11

108 Phil. 613 (1960).

People v. Magallanes, G.R. Nos. 118013-14, October 11, 1995, 249 SCRA 212; Republic v.
Asuncion, G.R. No. 108208, March 11, 1994, 231 SCRA 211
12

People v. Mendoza, G.R. No. 67610, July 31, 1989, 175 SCRA 743; People v. Cosare, 95 Phil.
657 (1954).
13

14

Lacson v. Executive Secretary, G.R. No. 128095, January 20, 1999, 301 SCRA 298.

15

The Circular is entitled "Appointments to Vacant Positions In The Judiciary."

16

People v. Magallanes, supra; Republic v. Asuncion, supra.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-43588

November 7, 1935

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
NATIVIDAD LUAGUE and WENCESLAO ALCANSARE, defendants-appellants.

Vicente E. Calanog for appellants.


Office of the Solicitor-General Hilado for appellee.

RECTO, J.:

The spouses Wenceslao Alcansare and Natividad Luague having been charged with homicide in the
Court of First Instance of Occidental Negros and sentenced, the former to the penalty of from eight
years and one day of prision mayor, as the minimum, to fourteen years, eight months and one day
of reclusion temporal, as the maximum, with the accessories of the law, and the latter to that of from
six years and one day of prision mayor, as the minimum, to twelve years and one day of reclusion
temporal, as the maximum, with the accessory penalties of the law, both to indemnify jointly and
severally the heirs of Paulino Disuasido in the sum of one thousand pesos, with costs, appealed to this
court for a review of the judgment rendered against them, praying that the same reversed and that
they be acquitted.

Upon examination of the appeal, it appears: that in the morning of February 18, 1935, while the
accused Natividad Luague was in her house situated in Lupuhan, barrio of Agpagi, municipality of
Calatrava, Occidental Negros, with only her three children of tender age for company, her husband and
co-accused Wenceslao Alcansare having gone to grind corn in Juan Garing's house several kilometers
away, Paulino Disuasido came and began to make love to her; that as Natividad could not dissuade

him from his purpose, she started for the kitchen where Paulino followed her, notwithstanding her
instance that she could by no means accede to his wishes, for Paulino, bent on satisfying them at all
costs, drew and opened a knife and, threatening her with death, began to embrace her and to touch
her breasts; that in preparing to lie with her, Paulino had to leave the knife on the floor and the
accused, taking advantage of the situation, picked up the weapon and stabbed him in the abdomen;
and that Paulino, feeling himself wounded, ran away jumping through the window and falling on some
stones, while the accused set forth immediately for the poblacion to surrender herself to the
authorities and report the incident.

Natividad Luague's act in mortally wounding Paulino Disuasido, unaided her husband and co-accused
Wenceslao Alcansare, and in the circumstances above set out, constitutes the exempting circumstance
defined in article 11, subsection 1, of the Revised Penal Code, because, as stated by a commentator of
note, "aside from the right to life on which rest the legitimate defense of our person, we have the right
to party acquired by us, and the right to honor which is not the least prized of man's patrimony." (1
Viada, 172, 173, 5th edition.) "Will the attempt to rape a woman constitute an aggression sufficient to
put her in a state of legitimate defense?" asks the same commentator. "We think so," he answer,
"inasmuch as a woman's honor cannot but be esteemed as a right as precious, if not more, cannot her
very existence; this offense, unlike ordinary slander by word or deed susceptible of judicial redress, in
an outrage which impresses an indelible blot on the victim, for, as the Roman Law says: quum
virginitas, vel castitas, corupta restitui non protest (because virginity or chastity, once defiled, cannot
be restored). It is evident that a woman who, imperiled, wounds, nay kills the offender, should be
afforded exemption from criminal liability provided by this article and subsection since such killing
cannot be considered a crime from the moment it became the only means left for her to protect her
honor from so great an outrage." (1 Viada, 301, 5th edition.)

Similar to the present question was the one determined the Supreme Court of Spain in a decision of
February 21, 1911: "This court in due homage to the principles of morality and in strict observance of
the provision of law justly interpreted, has always held that one of the rights referred to in article 8,
subsection 4, of the Penal Code, is that which assists a woman in defense of her honor when an
attempt is made to repel the aggression or to avoid in time the imminent danger of its consummation;
and in view of this, it must be conceded upon the findings of the trial court, that the accused Maria
Sanchez Caistro acted in legitimate self-defense, because the conduct of Diego Cardenas, who made

love to her, in blowing in at midnight, knocking at the door and demanding admittance and against
Maria's refusal, insisting in his purpose and threatening to break open the door, in the light of prior
events and the circumstances of the case, implies the imminence of an affront against honor, involving
an actual and certain danger to the person so threatened, while at the same time the fact that she was
alone that no help was forthcoming; her founded fear that the door might give way and the dreaded
evil wrought, her consequent helplessness on the advent of that crisis, and her natural desire to attest
openly her conjugal fidelity by foiling all suspicious aspersions, show the reasonableness of the
defensive measures availed of by her and warrant her complete exemption from liability, inasmuch as,
aside from all these, it does not appear from the decision that said accused had previously committed
any act deserving of censure or marring the just motive which obviously induced her to repel, as she
did, a violence unprovoked by her. Thus viewed, all the requisites of the exempting circumstance
above mentioned are present and should be taken into consideration, etc." (1 Viada, 304, 5th edition.)

The theory the prosecution, which we consider a trifle unsubstantial is as follows: The accused
Wenceslao Alcansare, thinking that Paulino importuned his wife with unchaste advances, out of
jealousy, decided to get rid of him. His chance to bring about his plan can when, in the morning of the
crime, Paulino happened to pass in front of the house of the spouses with his friend Olimpio Libosada.
The accused wife invited Paulino to drop in, which the letter and his friend did. The spouses met them
at the threshold. The accused wife asked Paulino whether he had a knife and as the latter answered in
the affirmative, she asked him to lend it to lend it to her because she wanted to cut her nails, to which
Paulino willingly acceded, while the accused wife was cutting her nails, she asked Paulino where he
came from and the latter answered, turning his head around, that he came from the house of one
Inting, whereupon the accused wife slashed him in the abdomen. Paulino tried to return the blow but
the accused husband picked up a stone and struck him in the forehead. Wounded in the abdomen and
in the forehead, Paulino fled therefrom.

The government presented three witnesses to establish this theory. Pablo Alvarez, barrio lieutenant of
Cabugahan, testified that on his way to "communal" the day before the crime, he met the accused
wife who told him that she had wanted to see him and ask his help because her husband, who was
jealous of Paulino, was maltreating her and he was furthermore resolved to assault Paulino at sight. On
the following day, Alvarez, in his way to Bacacay, dropped in the house of the accused spouses to
inquire whether they had tobacco seeds and, as they answered him in the negative, he went his way.

He had hardly left the place when Paulino and Olimpio arrived, the accused wife inviting the former to
drop in. Paulino and Olimpio went to the threshold of the house and the accused spouses, in turn, went
down, and the four engaged in a conversation which, to Alvarez, seemed a friendly one. The witness
left and when he returned to the place sometime later, he was informed that Paulino had been
stabbed.

The accused were from the barrio of Agpagi and not from Cabugahan where the witness was the
barrio lieutenant. Had the accused wife gone to complain against the alleged conduct of her husband,
she would have sought the lieutenant of Agpagi, her barrio. The accused wife, by reporting the
incident directly to the municipal authorities without seeking the intervention of any barrio lieutenant,
showed that she knew where to go in a difficulty.

Were it true that the accused husband, prompted by jealousy, designed to do away with Paulino, it
would have been because he observed that his wife somehow returned Paulino's attentions, for
otherwise he would not have indulge in tragic cogitations. From any point of view, however, it is quite
incomprehensible why the wife would take upon herself and the husband would charge her with, the
execution of the plan. The observation is no less true if the spouses plotted in common for it would
have been patently disgraceful and cowardly of the husband to thrust its execution upon the wife at
the hazard of her life, and liberty to shield his own, in the event of prosecution; and there is the
husband was thus minded. Under the theory of the prosecution, whether the accused husband
doubted his wife's fidelity or was sure of it, in connection with Paulino's attentions, the natural thing in
either case would be for him, unaided by his wife, to avenge the affront or punish the offender. In the
case at bar, we must assume that, if the motive attributed to him by the prosecution were true, the
accused would have acted, as would the great majority of men in identical circumstances.

The witness Alvarez, himself testified that he was informed the day before by the wife of the accused
husband that the latter would get even with Paulino at the first opportunity. The witness saw them
together in the morning of the crime and he should have surmised that the announced tragedy might
take place. Rather than foil it, as an agent of the law, if for no other reason, he went his way
unconcerned, as if nothing serious was impending.

We find his conduct, or that which he claims to have followed, so extremely strange to be considered
true. When the truth is beyond our reach, as is often the case, we have to be contented with the
probable. This is the basis of the so-called presumptions of fact. The acts which this witness claims to
have done are so out of ordinary conduct of men as to be devoid of probability. Occasionally, indeed,
there are those who behave strangely, but this is the exception and not the rule.

In addition to this, the theory of the prosecution that the accused husband and his wife had conspired
to kill Paulino is overcome by the very facts which the prosecution itself has attempted to prove. If
such conspiracy had really existed, the accused spouses would have been fully prepared to carry it into
execution, because rational beings differ from those who are not in that when they embark on
anything, they make the s equal to its realization. However, these amused, on the on, had neither a
rusty bolo nor an outworn club to cope with Paulino. The weapon with which Paulino was first wounded
was his own knife which, according to the prosecution, the accused wife had to borrow from him on the
pretext that she wanted to cut her nails, and later a stone which the accused husband casually picked
up from the ground. Yarns of this kind make good material for fables.

Angel Emia, the other government witness who testified at the trial that he saw the crime attributed to
the two accused by the prosecution, made a previous statement wherein he disclaimed knowledge of
who had stabbed Paulino. Required to explain the contradiction, he bungled in his attempt. The trial
judge erred in giving him credit. Olimpio Libosada, another government witness, likewise affirmed that
he had seen all that bad transpired, claiming that he then accompanied Paulino, It seem strange,
however, that in the two statements made by Paulino before his death he did not state that he was
accompanied by Libosada or by any other person in the morning of the crime. It likewise happens that
the conduct of this witness, according to his own testimony, appears to be inconsistent because he did
nothing to defend and help Paulino, his friend and companion, in that most critical moment, and did
not report the crime to the authorities, disappearing from the scene all of a sudden with a very
frivolous excuse that "he was afraid to be implicated". Furthermore, after discarding the testimony of
Angel Emia, there is nothing to corroborate that of Olimpio Libosada which, by its inherent weakness,
cannot be alone and unsubstantiated by other reliable incriminatory circumstances, support a
judgment of conviction.lawphil.net

As to the two statements, Exhibit C and D, styled, ante mortem by the Solicitor-General, the trial court
properly disregarded because them there is no evidence of record that Paulino had made them under a
sense of impending death and with no hope of recovery.

The trial judge gave unusual importance to the testimony of the two policemen who testified that they
made an ocular inspection of the scene of the crime and found no bloodstain in the kitchen of the
house of the accused spouses. This, according to the trial judge, destroys the theory of the defense
that Paulino was stabbed in said kitchen by the accused wife when he tried to lie with her through
intimidation and violence. We are of the opinion that the trial judge erred on this point as he did on
others. It appears that the said policemen did not also find any bloodstain on the threshold of the
house of the accused spouses where, according to the prosecution, the aggression took place.
Therefore, said testimony contradicts the defense no less than it does the prosecution.

In resume, we are of the opinion that we should, as we do hereby hold that the accused Natividad
Luague in wounding Paulino Disuasido to death, acted in legitimate self-defense, and that the other
accused Wenceslao Alcansare had no participation in said act; wherefore, reversing the appealed
judgment, we hereby acquit both accused, and order their immediate release, if in confinement, with
costs de oficio.

Avancea, C.J., Abad Santos, Hull, and Vickers, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC
C.A. No. 384

February 21, 1946

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
NICOLAS JAURIGUE and AVELINA JAURIGUE, defendants.
AVELINA JAURIGUE, appellant.
Jose Ma. Recto for appellant.
Assistant Solicitor General Enriquez and Solicitor Palma for appellee..
DE JOYA, J.:
Nicolas Jaurigue and Avelina Jaurigue were prosecuted in the Court of First Instance of Tayabas, for the
crime of murder, of which Nicolas Jaurigue was acquitted, but defendant Avelina Jaurigue was found
guilty of homicide and sentenced to an indeterminate penalty ranging from seven years, four months
and one day of prision mayor to thirteen years, nine months and eleven days of reclusion
temporal, with the accessory penalties provided by law, to indemnify the heirs of the deceased,
Amando Capina, in the sum of P2,000, and to pay one-half of the costs. She was also credited with
one-half of the period of preventive imprisonment suffered by her.
From said judgment of conviction, defendant Avelina Jaurigue appealed to the Court of Appeals for
Southern Luzon, and in her brief filed therein on June 10, 1944, claimed
(1) That the lower court erred in not holding that said appellant had acted in the legitimate
defense of her honor and that she should be completely absolved of all criminal responsibility;
(2) That the lower court erred in not finding in her favor the additional mitigating
circumstances that (a) she did not have the intention to commit so grave a wrong as that
actually committed, and that (b) she voluntarily surrendered to the agents of the authorities;
and
(3) That the trial court erred in holding that the commission of the alleged offense was
attended by the aggravating circumstance of having been committed in a sacred place.
The evidence adduced by the parties, at the trial in the court below, has sufficiently established the
following facts:
That both the defendant and appellant Avelina Jaurigue and the deceased Amado Capina lived in the
barrio of Sta. Isabel, City of San Pablo, Province of Laguna; that for sometime prior to the stabbing of
the deceased by defendant and appellant, in the evening of September 20, 1942, the former had been
courting the latter in vain, and that on one occasion, about one month before that fatal night, Amado
Capina snatched a handkerchief belonging to her, bearing her nickname "Aveling," while it was being
washed by her cousin, Josefa Tapay.
On September 13, 1942, while Avelina was feeding a dog under her house, Amado approached her and
spoke to her of his love, which she flatly refused, and he thereupon suddenly embraced and kissed her
and touched her breasts, on account of which Avelina, resolute and quick-tempered girl, slapped
Amado, gave him fist blows and kicked him. She kept the matter to herself, until the following morning
when she informed her mother about it. Since then, she armed herself with a long fan knife, whenever
she went out, evidently for self-protection.
On September 15, 1942, about midnight, Amado climbed up the house of defendant and appellant,
and surreptitiously entered the room where she was sleeping. He felt her forehead, evidently with the
intention of abusing her. She immediately screamed for help, which awakened her parents and brought
them to her side. Amado came out from where he had hidden under a bed in Avelina's room and kissed

the hand of Nicolas Jaurigue, her father, asking for forgiveness; and when Avelina's mother made an
attempt to beat Amado, her husband prevented her from doing so, stating that Amado probably did
not realize what he was doing. Nicolas Jaurigue sent for the barrio lieutenant, Casimiro Lozada, and for
Amado's parents, the following morning. Amado's parents came to the house of Nicolas Jaurigue and
apologized for the misconduct of their son; and as Nicolas Jaurigue was then angry, he told them to
end the conversation, as he might not be able to control himself.
In the morning of September 20, 1942, Avelina received information that Amado had been falsely
boasting in the neighborhood of having taken liberties with her person and that she had even asked
him to elope with her and that if he should not marry her, she would take poison; and that Avelina
again received information of Amado's bragging at about 5 o'clock in the afternoon of that same day.
At about 8 o'clock in the evening of the same day, September 20, 1942, Nicolas Jaurigue went to the
chapel of the Seventh Day Adventists of which he was the treasurer, in their barrio, just across the
provincial road from his house, to attend religious services, and sat on the front bench facing the altar
with the other officials of the organization and the barrio lieutenant, Casimiro Lozada. Inside the chapel
it was quite bright as there were electric lights.
Defendant and appellant Avelina Jaurigue entered the chapel shortly after the arrival of her father, also
for the purpose of attending religious services, and sat on the bench next to the last one nearest the
door. Amado Capina was seated on the other side of the chapel. Upon observing the presence of
Avelina Jaurigue, Amado Capina went to the bench on which Avelina was sitting and sat by her right
side, and, without saying a word, Amado, with the greatest of impudence, placed his hand on the
upper part of her right thigh. On observing this highly improper and offensive conduct of Amado
Capina, Avelina Jaurigue, conscious of her personal dignity and honor, pulled out with her right hand
the fan knife marked Exhibit B, which she had in a pocket of her dress, with the intention of punishing
Amado's offending hand. Amado seized Avelina's right hand, but she quickly grabbed the knife with
her left hand and stabbed Amado once at the base of the left side of the neck, inflicting upon him a
wound about 4 1/2 inches deep, which was necessarily mortal. Nicolas Jaurigue, who was seated on
one of the front benches, saw Amado bleeding and staggering towards the altar, and upon seeing his
daughter still holding the bloody knife, he approached her and asked: "Why did you do that," and
answering him Avelina said: "Father, I could not endure anymore." Amado Capina died from the wound
a few minutes later. Barrio lieutenant Casimiro Lozada, who was also in the same chapel, approached
Avelina and asked her why she did that, and Avelina surrendered herself, saying: "Kayo na po ang
bahala sa aquin," meaning: "I hope you will take care of me," or more correctly, "I place myself at your
disposal." Fearing that Amado's relatives might retaliate, barrio lieutenant Lozada advised Nicolas
Jaurigue and herein defendant and appellant to go home immediately, to close their doors and
windows and not to admit anybody into the house, unless accompanied by him. That father and
daughter went home and locked themselves up, following instructions of the barrio lieutenant, and
waited for the arrival of the municipal authorities; and when three policemen arrived in their house, at
about 10 o'clock that night, and questioned them about the incident, defendant and appellant
immediately surrendered the knife marked as Exhibit B, and informed said policemen briefly of what
had actually happened in the chapel and of the previous acts and conduct of the deceased, as already
stated above, and went with said policemen to the police headquarters, where her written statements
were taken, and which were presented as a part of the evidence for the prosecution.
The high conception of womanhood that our people possess, however humble they may be, is
universal. It has been entertained and has existed in all civilized communities.
A beautiful woman is said to be a jewel; a good woman, a treasure; and that a virtuous woman
represents the only true nobility. And they are the future wives and mothers of the land. Such are the
reasons why, in the defense of their honor, when brutally attacked, women are permitted to make use
of all reasonable means available within their reach, under the circumstances. Criminologists and
courts of justice have entertained and upheld this view.
On the other hand, it is the duty of every man to protect and show loyalty to womanhood, as in the
days of chivalry. There is a country where women freely go out unescorted and, like the beautiful roses
in their public gardens, they always receive the protection of all. That country is Switzerland.

In the language of Viada, aside from the right to life on which rests the legitimate defense of our own
person, we have the right to property acquired by us, and the right to honor which is not the least
prized of our patrimony (1 Viada, Codigo Penal, 5th ed., pp. 172, 173).
The attempt to rape a woman constitutes an unlawful aggression sufficient to put her in a state of
legitimate defense, inasmuch as a woman's honor cannot but be esteemed as a right as precious, if
not more, than her very existence; and it is evident that a woman who, thus imperiled, wounds, nay
kills the offender, should be afforded exemption from criminal liability, since such killing cannot be
considered a crime from the moment it became the only means left for her to protect her honor from
so great an outrage (1 Viada, Codigo Penal, 5th ed., p. 301; People vs. Luague and Alcansare, 62 Phil.,
504). .
As long as there is actual danger of being raped, a woman is justified in killing her aggressor, in the
defense of her honor. Thus, where the deceased grabbed the defendant in a dark night at about 9
o'clock, in an isolated barrio trail, holding her firmly from behind, without warning and without
revealing his identity, and, in the struggle that followed, touched her private parts, and that she was
unable to free herself by means of her strength alone, she was considered justified in making use of a
pocket knife in repelling what she believed to be an attack upon her honor, and which ended in his
death, since she had no other means of defending herself, and consequently exempt from all criminal
liability (People vs. De la Cruz, 16 Phil., 344).
And a woman, in defense of her honor, was perfectly justified in inflicting wounds on her assailant with
a bolo which she happened to be carrying at the time, even though her cry for assistance might have
been heard by people nearby, when the deceased tried to assault her in a dark and isolated place,
while she was going from her house to a certain tienda, for the purpose of making purchases (United
States vs. Santa Ana and Ramos, 22 Phil., 249).
In the case, however, in which a sleeping woman was awakened at night by someone touching her
arm, and, believing that some person was attempting to abuse her, she asked who the intruder was
and receiving no reply, attacked and killed the said person with a pocket knife, it was held that,
notwithstanding the woman's belief in the supposed attempt, it was not sufficient provocation or
aggression to justify her completely in using deadly weapon. Although she actually believed it to be
the beginning of an attempt against her, she was not completely warranted in making such a deadly
assault, as the injured person, who turned out to be her own brother-in-law returning home with his
wife, did not do any other act which could be considered as an attempt against her honor (United
States vs. Apego, 23 Phil., 391)..
In the instant case, if defendant and appellant had killed Amado Capina, when the latter climbed up
her house late at night on September 15, 1942, and surreptitiously entered her bedroom, undoubtedly
for the purpose of raping her, as indicated by his previous acts and conduct, instead of merely
shouting for help, she could have been perfectly justified in killing him, as shown by the authorities
cited above..
According to the facts established by the evidence and found by the learned trial court in this case,
when the deceased sat by the side of defendant and appellant on the same bench, near the door of
the barrio chapel and placed his hand on the upper portion of her right thigh, without her consent, the
said chapel was lighted with electric lights, and there were already several people, about ten of them,
inside the chapel, including her own father and the barrio lieutenant and other dignitaries of the
organization; and under the circumstances, there was and there could be no possibility of her being
raped. And when she gave Amado Capina a thrust at the base of the left side of his neck, inflicting
upon him a mortal wound 4 1/2 inches deep, causing his death a few moments later, the means
employed by her in the defense of her honor was evidently excessive; and under the facts and
circumstances of the case, she cannot be legally declared completely exempt from criminal liability..
But the fact that defendant and appellant immediately and voluntarily and unconditionally surrendered
to the barrio lieutenant in said chapel, admitting having stabbed the deceased, immediately after the
incident, and agreed to go to her house shortly thereafter and to remain there subject to the order of
the said barrio lieutenant, an agent of the authorities (United States vs. Fortaleza, 12 Phil., 472); and
the further fact that she had acted in the immediate vindication of a grave offense committed against

her a few moments before, and upon such provocation as to produce passion and obfuscation, or
temporary loss of reason and self-control, should be considered as mitigating circumstances in her
favor (People vs. Parana, 64 Phil., 331; People vs. Sakam, 61 Phil., 27; United States vs. Arribas, 1 Phil.,
86).
Defendant and appellant further claims that she had not intended to kill the deceased but merely
wanted to punish his offending hand with her knife, as shown by the fact that she inflicted upon him
only one single wound. And this is another mitigating circumstance which should be considered in her
favor (United States vs. Brobst, 14 Phil., 310; United States vs. Diaz, 15 Phil., 123).
The claim of the prosecution, sustained by the learned trial court, that the offense was committed by
the defendant and appellant, with the aggravating circumstance that the killing was done in a place
dedicated to religious worship, cannot be legally sustained; as there is no evidence to show that the
defendant and appellant had murder in her heart when she entered the chapel that fatal night. Avelina
is not a criminal by nature. She happened to kill under the greatest provocation. She is a God-fearing
young woman, typical of our country girls, who still possess the consolation of religious hope in a world
where so many others have hopelessly lost the faith of their elders and now drifting away they know
not where.
The questions raised in the second and third assignments of error appear, therefore, to be well taken;
and so is the first assignment of error to a certain degree.
In the mind of the court, there is not the least doubt that, in stabbing to death the deceased Amado
Capina, in the manner and form and under the circumstances above indicated, the defendant and
appellant committed the crime of homicide, with no aggravating circumstance whatsoever, but with at
least three mitigating circumstances of a qualified character to be considered in her favor; and, in
accordance with the provisions of article 69 of the Revised Penal Code, she is entitled to a reduction by
one or two degrees in the penalty to be imposed upon her. And considering the circumstances of the
instant case, the defendant and appellant should be accorded the most liberal consideration possible
under the law (United States vs. Apego, 23 Phil., 391; United States vs. Rivera, 41 Phil., 472; People vs.
Mercado, 43 Phil., 950)..
The law prescribes the penalty of reclusion temporal for the crime of homicide; and if it should be
reduced by two degrees, the penalty to be imposed in the instant case is that of prision correccional;
and pursuant to the provisions of section 1 of Act No. 4103 of the Philippine Legislature, known as the
Indeterminate Sentence Law, herein defendant and appellant should be sentenced to an indeterminate
penalty ranging from arresto mayor in its medium degree, to prision correccional in its medium
degree. Consequently, with the modification of judgment appealed from, defendant and appellant
Avelina Jaurigue is hereby sentenced to an indeterminate penalty ranging from two months and one
day of arresto mayor, as minimum, to two years, four months, and one day ofprision correccional, as
maximum, with the accessory penalties prescribed by law, to indemnify the heirs of the deceased
Amado Capina, in the sum of P2,000, and to suffer the corresponding subsidiary imprisonment, not to
exceed 1/3 of the principal penalty, in case of insolvency, and to pay the costs. Defendant and
appellant should also be given the benefit of 1/2 of her preventive imprisonment, and the knife marked
Exhibit B ordered confiscated. So ordered..
Ozaeta, Perfecto, and Bengzon, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions
HILADO, J., concurring:
In past dissenting and concurring opinions my view regarding the validity or nullity of judicial
proceedings in the Japanese-sponsored courts which functioned in the Philippines during the Japanese
occupation has been consistent. I am not abandoning it. But in deference to the majority who sustain

the opposite view, and because no party litigant herein has raised the question, I have taken part in
the consideration of this case on the merits. And, voting on the merits, I concur in the foregoing
decision penned by Justice De Joya.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 155094

January 30, 2007

MANUEL O. ORIENTE, Petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.
DECISION
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
For review before the Court are the Decision1 dated February 14, 2002 of the Court of Appeals (CA)
which affirmed the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 103 (RTC), dated
November 15, 1999, in Criminal Case No. 96-65313, finding Manuel Oriente (petitioner) guilty of the
crime of Homicide; and the CA Resolution 2dated September 9, 2002 which denied petitioners Motion
for Reconsideration.
An Information dated March 18, 1996 was filed with the RTC charging the petitioner with the crime of
Murder, committed as follows:
That on or about the 16th day of March 1996, in Quezon City, Philippines, the said accused conspiring,
confederating with three other persons whose true names and whereabouts have not as yet been
ascertained and mutually helping one another, with intent to kill, qualified by evident premeditation
and treachery, taking advantage of superior strength, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously attack, assault and employ personal violence upon the person of one ROMULO CARIO Y
VALLO by then and there hitting him with a lead pipe on the different parts of his body thereby
inflicting upon him serious and mortal wounds which were the direct and immediate cause of his
death, to the damage and prejudice of the heirs of the victim.
CONTRARY TO LAW.3
Upon arraignment, petitioner pleaded not guilty to the crime charged. Thereafter, trial on the merits
ensued.

The evidence presented by the parties, as summarized by the CA, are as follows:
The prosecutions version of the case is as follows:
On 16 March 1996, at around 10:00 oclock in the evening, Arnel Tanael was on his way to the house of
Romulo Cario y Vallo at No. 40 Lukban Street, Area 9, Luzon Avenue, Brgy. Pasong Tamo, Tandang
Sora, Quezon City. He passed in front of the house of [petitioner] Manuel Oriente and saw the latter
and his companions having a drinking spree at the terrace of the [petitioners] house. He arrived at
Romulos house where the latter was drinking beer alone. Thereafter, Romulo went out of the house to
buy cigarette. While watching television in the house of Romulo, Arnel Tanael heard two gunshots.
Hence, he rushed outside the house to check on what the gunshots were all about.
Peeping through potted plants (about 3 feet high) perched on top of a neighbors fence (about 2 feet
high), and at a distance of more or less eight (8) meters, he saw Romulo Cario, [petitioner] Manuel
Oriente, the latters daughter Marilou Lopez and the latters husband, Paul Lopez and one Rogelio
Gascon arguing along the alley beside the concrete fence in front of Manuel Orientes house where
there was a lighted fluorescent light. He heard Paul Lopez telling Romulo Cario, "Ikaw Cario, and liitliit mo, and yabang mo!" Then Arnel Tanael saw Marilou coming out from their house with a lead pipe
and handed it over to Paul. Paul then hit Romulo with a lead pipe at his right arm. Accused-appellant
got the lead pipe from Paul and hit Romulo on his left eyebrow. Romulo reeled and fell down. Upon
seeing Romulo fall down, Arnel got confused, hence, he went back inside the house and switched off
the light and turned the television off. He went outside again and saw Romulo moaning. At this point,
Paul Lopez was already poking a gun at Romulo, then pulled the trigger twice but the gun did not fire.
Arnel then shouted, "Putang ina ninyo, bakit niyo ginagawa iyan sa bayaw ko, bakit ninyo ginaganito
siya, ano ba ang kasalanan niya sa inyo." Oriente and his company did not say anything. Arnel carried
Romulo and brought the latter inside the house. He called up Mario at the Panabuilt Transport office to
get a cab. When the cab arrived, Romulo Cario was brought by Arnel to the East Avenue Medical
Center where Romulo, two hours after, passed away.
Dr. Roberto Garcia, the NBI Medico-Legal Officer who conducted the post-mortem examination on the
victims cadaver declared that the cause of death of Romulo Cario was traumatic head injury. He
opined that even with immediate and adequate medical attendance, the victim would not have
survived due to the extensive nature of hemorrhage suffered by Romulo.
In an attempt to exculpate [the petitioner], the defense gave the following version:
On the night of the commission of the crime, [petitioner] Manuel Oriente was fetched by Tanod
members in their area to attend a wake. It was already the Tanods off-duty. While he was on his way
out of the house, he saw spouses Paul and Malou and his granddaughter inside the car going out of the
garage. The three went to visit Malous in-laws.
At the gate of his house, while having a conversation with the Tanod members who fetched him, they
heard two gunshots coming from downhill. They noticed that the person who fired the shots was
walking towards them. They waited for him to pass by. This person was Romulo Cario. When the latter
reached a store, which is a fence away from Orientes house, the latter asked Romulo what was his
problem. Suddenly, Cario extended his arms and poked [his] gun to Oriente and his companions.
Romulo told them not to get near him or he will shoot and kill all of them. Surprised by the victims
response and for fear of being shot, [petitioner] Oriente stepped back towards his yard and was able to
take hold of a piece of wood and hit Romulo. [Petitioner] Oriente mentioned that he does not know if
he hit Carios hands, eyebrow and other parts of his body with that single blow but he saw Romulo
Cario lose his balance, fall and hit his head on the ground. The victim was still holding the gun. After
five seconds, Romulo Cario stood up and ran (pasuray-suray) towards the direction of his house.
Fearing that Cario will shoot them if they would go after him, [petitioner] Oriente told the Tanods that
they will just attend to him the following day. [Petitioner] Oriente further testified that he had no
intention of killing Cario and that his purpose was only to disarm him. 4
The RTC rendered a Decision dated November 4, 1999 convicting the petitioner of the crime of
Homicide. The dispositive portion of the Decision states:

ACCORDINGLY, the court renders judgment finding the accused MANUEL ORIENTE Y ORILLO GUILTY
beyond reasonable doubt as Principal of the crime of HOMICIDE as defined and penalized by the
Revised Penal Code with two (2) mitigating circumstances of lack of intent to commit so grave a wrong
and sufficient provocation and so he is hereby sentenced to suffer a jail term of Six (6) Months
of Arresto Mayor as minimum and Four Years and One (1) Day of Prision Correctional as maximum.
On the civil aspect, the accused Manuel Oriente y Orillo is ordered to pay the lawful heirs of the victim
Romulo Carino y Orillo the sum of P41,500.00 as actual damages and P50,000.00 as indemnification
damages.
Costs against the accused.
SO ORDERED.5
However, on November 12, 1999, before the foregoing judgment became final and executory, the RTC
issued an Order motu proprio setting aside the said judgment because of a mistake in the "judgment
proper" and requiring both petitioner and his counsel to appear before the court on November 17,
1999.6
On the latter date, the RTC promulgated its second Decision dated November 15, 1999, the dispositive
portion of which states:
ACCORDINGLY, the court renders judgment finding the accused MANUEL ORIENTE y Orillo GUILTY
beyond reasonable doubt as Principal of the crime of HOMICIDE as defined and penalized by the
Revised Penal Code with two (2) mitigating circumstances of lack of intent to commit so grave a wrong
and sufficient provocation and so, applying Article 64, paragraph 5, of the Revised Penal Code and also
the Indeterminate Sentence Law, [the] accused is hereby sentenced to suffer an indeterminate jail
term of Four (4) Years, Two (2) Months and One (1) Day of Prision Correccional as minimum and Eight
(8) Years and One (1) Day of Prision Mayor as maximum.
On the civil aspect, the accused Manuel Oriente y Orillo is ordered to pay the lawful heirs of the victim
Romulo Cario y Vallo the sum of P41,500.00 as actual damages and P50,000.00 as indemnification
damages.
Costs against the accused.
SO ORDERED.7 (Emphasis supplied)
The RTC found that the testimonies of the defense witnesses, including the petitioner, are incredible;
that the victim suffered extensive head injuries; that the defense failed to show any imminent threat or
danger to the life of the accused; that the accused has in his favor the mitigating circumstance of lack
of intent to commit so grave a wrong under Article 4 of the Revised Penal Code; that there was
sufficient provocation on the part of the victim since the incident was preceded by an intense
argument, and, therefore, the provocation qualifies as another mitigating circumstance in favor of the
petitioner; that treachery is not present since there was an altercation immediately preceding the
incident; that the prosecution failed to prove the elements of evident premeditation; that there is no
clear showing that the accused took advantage of superior strength; and, finally, that the prosecution
duly proved actual damages amounting to P38,500.00 for the funeral services and P3,000.00 for the
cemetery lot and religious services, while the other expenses were not supported by evidence.
The petitioner appealed to the CA. On February 14, 2002, the CA rendered its Decision, the dispositive
portion of which states:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the decision dated 4 November 1999 rendered by the trial court
is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION that the penalty imposed is an indeterminate prison term
of 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, and to indemnify the heirs of the deceased Romulo
Cario y Vallo in the amount of Fifty Thousand (P50,000.00) Pesos.
SO ORDERED.8 (Emphasis supplied)
The CA held that there is no cogent reason to depart from the findings of the RTC convicting the
petitioner; that, at most, the inconsistencies of prosecution witness Arnel Tanael refer to minor details
only, which tend to strengthen, rather than weaken, his credibility, and, moreover, prove that his
testimony was unrehearsed; that, all in all, the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses are highly
credible; that the evaluation of the testimonies of the eyewitnesses by the RTC should be accorded
great weight and respect; that the testimony of Tanael on the injuries inflicted on the victim is
supported by the findings of the NBI medico-legal officer as stated in the post mortem report; that the
detailed testimony of a witness in homicide cases acquires greater weight and credibility if it
corresponds with the autopsy report; that the mere fact that the judge who penned the decision was
not the same judge who heard the testimonies of the witnesses does not ipso facto render the decision
erroneous, more so when the judgment appears to be fully supported by the evidence on record; that
the alleged act of the victim poking the gun at the petitioner and his companions does not constitute
unlawful aggression, an essential requirement for self-defense, since the mere aiming of the gun and
threat to kill merely constitute a threat or intimidating attitude which does not amount to an actual and
unexpected attack or imminent danger thereof; and that the accused did not resist but went peacefully
with the police authorities when the latter invited the petitioner to the station does not amount to
voluntary surrender.
Finding that the RTC erred in finding that two mitigating circumstances were present, namely, lack of
intent to commit so grave a wrong and sufficient provocation or threat on the part of the offended
party immediately preceding the act, the CA modified the penalty imposed by the RTC. According to
the CA, the extensive nature of the injuries as stated in the post-mortem findings negates the
contention of the petitioner that he had no intention of killing the victim because his purpose was only
to disarm him; and the provocation, if any, done by the victim was not immediate to the act of
petitioners beating the victim, since a certain Paul Lopez had already previously assaulted the victim,
and, moreover, there was a sufficient interval of time between the provocation of the offended party
and the commission of the crime by the petitioner.
Hence, herein petition for review raising the following assignment of errors:
A.
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE LOWER COURT
THAT THE ACCUSED IS GUILTY OF HOMICIDE ALTHOUGH IT WAS OBVIOUS THAT THE LOWER COURT
FOUND OUT THAT THERE WAS NO INTENT ON THE PART OF THE PETITIONER TO COMMIT SAID CRIME
AND THERE WAS NO PROVOCATION AT ALL ON HIS PART;
B.
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS AND THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT BELOW ERRED IN NOT APPRECIATING
THAT THERE WAS AN UNLAWFUL AGGRESSION ON THE PART OF THE VICTIM, AND THE MEANS
EMPLOYED BY PETITIONER TO PREVENT THE SAME WAS REASONABLE AND FALLS UNDER THE
JUSTIFYING CIRCUMSTANCES OR SELF-DEFENSE;
C.
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS AND THE LOWER COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN GIVING CREDENCE TO THE
TESTIMONY OF THE LONE ALLEGED EYE WITNESS, WHEN SAID TESTIMONY HAS FULL OF
INCONSISTENCIES; AND
D.

THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS HAS COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION TANTAMOUNT TO LACK
OF JURISDICTION WHEN IT MODIFIED THE DECISION OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, INCREASING THE
PENALTY THEREOF WITHOUT ANY DISCUSSION OR EXPLANATION IN THE DECISION ITSELF WHY SAID
MODIFICATION OF PENALTY IS NECESSARY AND IN ACCORDANCE WITH LAW.
The Court affirms the conviction of the petitioner except as to damages and the penalty imposed.
The petitioner emphasizes that the victim, allegedly a troublemaker in the vicinity, was drunk, fired his
gun twice, and then proceeded towards the petitioner and his companions. Petitioner argues that the
victims act of poking the gun at him constitutes unlawful aggression sufficient to warrant his claim of
self-defense.
The Court is not convinced.
When self-defense is invoked, the burden of evidence shifts to the accused to show that the killing was
legally justified. Having owned the killing of the victim, the accused should be able to prove to the
satisfaction of the Court the elements of self-defense in order to avail of this extenuating circumstance.
He must discharge this burden by clear and convincing evidence. When successful, an otherwise
felonious deed would be excused, mainly predicated on the lack of criminal intent of the accused.
Self-defense requires that there be (1) an unlawful aggression by the person injured or killed by the
offender, (2) reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel that unlawful
aggression, and (3) lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending himself. All these
conditions must concur.9 There can be no self-defense, whether complete or incomplete, unless the
victim had committed unlawful aggression against the person who resorted to self-defense. 10
Unlawful aggression, a primordial element of self-defense, would presuppose an actual, sudden and
unexpected attack or imminent danger on the life and limb of a person not a mere threatening or
intimidating attitude but most importantly, at the time the defensive action was taken against the
aggressor.11 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. 12
The petitioners plea of self-defense contradicts common knowledge and experience. No better test
has yet been found to measure the value of a witness testimony than its conformity to the knowledge
of mankind.13
The Court agrees with the findings of the RTC which are supported by the evidence on record:
The testimonies of the defense witnesses, including the accused, that Cario threatened the persons
gathered in front of Orientes house with a gun is quite difficult to believe in view of the admissions of
the same defense witnesses, including the accused, that Cario was able to get up from the ground
after being hit and ran away with gun in hand. A person who was already threatening to kill with a gun
and who was then hit with a piece of wood in a serious manner, can be reasonably expected to make
use thereof. Here, the defense makes a rather unusual claim that Cario simply ran away and did not
use the gun he was holding while running.
The testimony of Arnel Tanael that Cario did not run away but he got him at the place where he fell in
the alley beside Orientes house appears more credible and reasonable than that of the defense.
Moreover, considering the extensive injuries suffered by Cario several contusions on the face and
head fractures it is doubtful that a person in that condition, aggravated by what the defense claimed
to be Carios state of stupor (drunk and "pasuray-suray"), could still run, much less hold a handgun
while running.
In his testimony, the accused stated that Cario walked towards him and his companions saying:
"Dont come near me. I will shoot all of you. I will kill all of you." In the first place, why will Cario utter

such statements when there was no evidence by the defense that the accused and/or any of his
companions at that time 10:00 in the evening of March 16, 1996 and place in front of the house of
the accused at Brgy. Pasong Tamo, Q.C. were in the act of arresting Cario. In the second place, the
alleged statement of Cario: "Dont come near me," shows that there were then persons in the act of
going near him. In the third place, if indeed as claimed, Cario was poking his gun with both arms
extended at Oriente and his Tanod-companions, it is quite difficult to appreciate how he could not have
seen the person in the act of hitting him right across his face and, as he allegedly threatened, how he
could not have shot that person too[,] instinctive self-defense[,] instead of running away with gun in
hand.14
Not that the RTC is alone. The CA, too, aptly observed:
x x x We find the testimony of [defense] witnesses highly incredible. Their version is that Cario, after
he was hit with the lead pipe, fell on the ground still holding a gun. Thereafter, he just stood up and ran
away. It is surprising, however, why these Tanod members including accused-appellant did not wrestle
for the gun when they had all the opportunities to do so when Cario fell down, if there was indeed a
threat to their life and limb. And letting an armed man go would not be the normal reaction of persons
in charge of peace and order in the community, especially if the armed man had previously threatened
to shoot them. The only logical conclusion is that Cario was not a threat to them and to their
community, for as accused-appellant testified, "they will just deal with him the following day." 15
Noteworthy is the testimony of NBI Medico-Legal Officer, Dr. Roberto Garcia, on his findings from his
post-mortem examination of the cadaver of the victim that the cause of death was traumatic head
injury, viz:
1. abrasion, right forearm;
2. contused-abrasion, left temple;
3. lacerated wounds above the left eyebrow; over the left eyebrow;
4. hematomas orbital, left. Scalp frontal region, left side;
5. fractures, skull
6. hemorrhages: extensive
7. visceral organs, congested.16
On cross-examination, Dr. Garcia opined that even with immediate and adequate medical attendance,
the victim would not have survived considering the extensive nature of the hemorrhages found. 17 As
the RTC held:
[C]onsidering the extensive injuries suffered by the victim several contusions on the face and head
fractures it is doubtful that a person in that condition, aggravated by what the defense claimed to be
Carios state of stupor (drunk and "pasuray-suray"), could still run, much less hold a handgun while
running.18
Thus, the defense failed to establish the existence of the gun being pointed at petitioner to constitute
unlawful aggression on the part of the victim.
While petitioner avers that the testimony of Arnel Tanael is burdened with improbabilities and
inconsistencies, after having owned the crime, however, the burden of proof is reversed and, therefore,
he cannot simply protest that the evidence of the prosecution is weak. It then becomes incumbent
upon petitioner to rely on the strength of his own evidence and not on the weakness of the evidence of
the prosecution, for even if the latter were weak, it could not be disbelieved after he had admitted the

killing. Hence, if the accused fails to discharge the burden of proof, his conviction must ensue as a
matter of consequence.19
The petitioner insists that the CA erred in modifying the RTCs decision by increasing the penalty
imposed upon him. It is settled that in a criminal case, an appeal throws the whole case
open for review, and it becomes the duty of the appellate court to correct such errors as may be found
in the judgment appealed from, whether they are made the subject of assignment of errors or
not,20 including the propriety of the imposable penalty.21
There is also no point in considering petitioners argument that the RTC promulgated two decisions
and, by doing so, he was placed in double jeopardy.
Courts have the inherent power to amend their decisions to make them conformable to law and justice.
This prerogative, however, is not absolute. The rules do not contemplate amendments that are
substantial in nature.22They merely cover formal changes or such that will not affect the crux of the
decision, like the correction of typographical or clerical errors. Courts will violate due process if they
make substantial amendments in their decisions without affording the other party the right to contest
the new evidence presented in a motion for reconsideration. 23 The Court finds that the change in the
penalty by the RTC in the instant case did not involve the consideration of any new evidence but a
mere "correction" of the penalty imposed to conform with the Revised Penal Code and The
Indeterminate Sentence Law.
And as the Solicitor General correctly noted, the trial court modified the penalty in its Decision dated
November 15, 1999 before the petitioner could perfect his appeal from the first Decision dated
November 4, 1999 which was promulgated on November 10, 1999. Noteworthy is that it was the RTCs
second Decision dated November 15, 1999 which the petitioner elevated on appeal to the CA. It is well
settled that when an accused appeals from the sentence of the trial court, he waives the constitutional
safeguard against double jeopardy, and, as discussed above, throws the whole case open to the review
of the appellate court, which is then called to render judgment as the law and justice dictate, whether
favorable or unfavorable, and whether they are made the subject of assigned errors or not. This
precept should be borne in mind by every lawyer of an accused who unwittingly takes the risk involved
when he decides to appeal his sentence.24
As to the mitigating circumstances, the CA is correct in finding that the RTC erred in appreciating in
favor of the petitioner the mitigating circumstances of lack of intent to commit so grave a wrong and
sufficient provocation on the part of the victim, Romulo Cario.
On the first circumstance, the RTC held:
According to the accused, he did not intend to kill Cario. In turn, Cario did not die immediately from
his wounds as he still lived for around two (2) hours after his body was taken to the hospital. This fact
and the fact that Cario was hit by a hard, blunt object, convince [sic] this court that the intent of the
accused to kill Cario appears to be reasonably doubtful. . . . 25
However, the CA correctly took into consideration the post-mortem findings of the NBI medico-legal
expert and his testimony that even with immediate and adequate medical attendance, the victim
would not have survived due to the extensive nature of the hemorrhage suffered by the victim. The
brute force employed by the petitioner contradicts the claim that he had no intention to kill the victim.
The mitigating circumstance of lack of intent to commit so grave a wrong as that actually perpetrated
cannot be appreciated where the acts employed by the accused were reasonably sufficient to produce
and did actually produce the death of the victim.26
On the second circumstance, the RTC pointed to the fact that the incident was preceded by an intense
argument between the victim and the accused so as to qualify the situation as a mitigating
circumstance of sufficient provocation or threat on the part of the offended party which immediately
preceded the act.27

Provocation is defined to be any unjust or improper conduct or act of the offended party, capable of
exciting, inciting, or irritating anyone. In order to be mitigating, provocation must be sufficient and
should immediately precede the act. Provocation is sufficient if it is adequate to excite a person to
commit the wrong, which must accordingly be proportionate in gravity. That the provocation must
immediately precede the act means that there should not be any interval of time between the
provocation by the offended party and the commission of the crime by the person provoked. 28
The fact that a heated or intense argument preceded the incident is not by itself the sufficient
provocation on the part of the offended party as contemplated by law. Moreover, petitioner failed to
establish by competent evidence that the victim had a gun and used it to threaten petitioner.
With respect to the other aggravating circumstances of treachery, evident premeditation, and grave
abuse of superior strength, the Court likewise agrees with the findings of the RTC, as affirmed by the
CA, that none of these circumstances are present for lack of evidence.
Thus, the CA is partly correct in modifying the penalty imposed by the RTC. The RTC imposed an
indeterminate prison term of four (4) years, two (2) months and one (1) day of prision correccional as
minimum to eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor as maximum, while the CA adjusted the
sentence upwards since no mitigating circumstances attended the crime, and imposed an
indeterminate prison term of 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. Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code
provides that any person found guilty of homicide shall be punished by reclusion temporal, i.e., twelve
(12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years. Applying Section 1 of the Indeterminate Sentence
Law, the minimum term of the sentence shall be within the range of the penalty next lower, which is
prision mayor, i.e., anywhere between six (6) years and one (1) day to eight (8) years. The CA
appropriately exercised its discretion when it imposed six (6) years and one (1) day of prision mayor as
the minimum term.
However, the CA erred in imposing twelve (12) years and one (1) day of reclusion temporal as the
maximum term of the indeterminate sentence. In the computation of the maximum term, the law
prescribes that the attending circumstances should be considered. There being no aggravating or
mitigating circumstance in this case, the penalty that should be imposed is the medium period of the
penalty prescribed by law,29 that is, reclusion tempora lin its medium period, or, anywhere between
fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months and one (1) day to seventeen (17) years and four (4) months.
And last, the CA, without reason, omitted a portion of the award of damages by the RTC in the civil
aspect of the case, namely, the amount of actual damages which comprised the expenses for the
cemetery lot and religious services. In particular, the RTC held that the prosecution was able to prove
actual damages amounting toP41,500.00 based on supporting evidence,30 in addition to the death
indemnity of P50,000.00 as required by current jurisprudence.31 On the other hand, the dispositive
portion of the CA judgment merely ordered petitioner to indemnify the heirs of the deceased victim in
the amount of P50,000.00.
The Court restores the full amount of actual damages originally awarded by the RTC.
Moral damages are not awarded for lack of basis in fact and law. 32 No witnesses testified to prove the
existence of the factual basis therefor.
Pursuant to Article 2230 of the Civil Code, in criminal offenses, exemplary damages may be imposed
when the crime is committed with one or more aggravating circumstances. Considering that no
aggravating circumstance is present in this case, the lower courts are correct in not awarding
exemplary damages.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals are
AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. The petitioner is found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of
Homicide and is sentenced to suffer the penalty of an indeterminate sentence of six (6) years and one
(1) day of prision mayor as minimum to fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months, and one (1) day, as

maximum. The petitioner is further ordered to pay the heirs of the victim the amounts of P50,000.00
as death indemnity and P41,500.00 as actual damages.
SO ORDERED.
MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ
Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:
CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice
Chairperson
ROMEO J. CALLEJO, SR.
Associate Justice

MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
Asscociate Justice
ATTESTATION

I attest 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.
CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Third 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 were reached in consultation before the
case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.
REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

Footnotes
Penned by Associate Justice Perlita J. Tria Tirona, with Associate Justices Eubulo G. Verzola and
Bernardo P. Abesamis, concurring.
1

Rollo, p. 9.

Records, Vol. I, p. 1.

CA Rollo, pp. 207-208.

Records, Vol. II, p. 394.

Id. at 395.

Id. at 407.

Rollo, p. 20.

People v. Dagani, G.R. No. 153875, August 16, 2006.

10

People v. Catbagan, G.R. Nos. 149430-32, February 23, 2004, 423 SCRA 535, 556.

11

People v. Dagani, supra; People v. Dela Cruz, 400 Phil. 872, 878 (2000).

12

People v. Dagani, supra note 9; People v. Escarlos, 457 Phil. 580, 596 (2003).

13

People v. Venerable, 352 Phil. 623, 632 (1998).

14

Rollo, p. 72.

15

Id. at 18.

16

Id. at 66-67.

17

Id. at 67.

18

Id. at 72.

19

People v. Paulino, G.R. No. 148810, November 18, 2003, 416 SCRA 122, 127.

20

People v. Flores, Jr., 442 Phil. 561, 569 (2002).

21

See Cadua v. Court of Appeals, 371 Phil. 627, 648 (1999).

Cansino v. Court of Appeals, 456 Phil. 686, 692 (2003); Unidad v. Court of Appeals, 447 Phil.
96, 109 (2003).
22

23

Cansino v. Court of Appeals, id. at 692.

24

People v. Rondero, 378 Phil. 123, 143 (1999).

25

Rollo, p. 72.

People v. Isleta, 332 Phil. 410, 427-428 (1996). See People v. Francisco, 388 Phil. 94, 126
(2000); People v. Gonzales, Jr., 411 Phil. 893, 925 (2001).
26

27

Revised Penal Code, Art. 13, par. 14.

28

Navarro v. Court of Appeals, 372 Phil. 21, 36 (1999).

29

Revised Penal Code, Art. 64, par. 1.

30

Exhibits "L," "M-1" and "M-2"; Records, Vol. I, pp. 94, 109-110.

31

See People v. Dagani, supra note 9.

32

See Civil Code, Arts. 2217-2220, 2229-2235.