You are on page 1of 12

People v Acosta Appellant states there is not enough circumstantial evidence, the

court disagrees.
Facts 1. Appellant testified he knew where monetescarlos Lived
Nephew of of Mona Aquino called Mona at 4/5 in afternoon to 2. Mona Aquinos uncorroborated testimony stands as there is no ill
alert them that Acosta was carrying a stove and kitchen knife who motice
said it was to burn the house Marigomen 3. Line Videnas testimony stated she did not see appellant at the
Marigomens house is situated in Banahaw street, Mountain locus criminis but saw him inside the yard of the burning house
Heights subdivisions, adjacent to the house of Aquino with a wall DURING not AFTER the fire
fence to divide their property
Aquino returned to her house but heard shouting, and throwing of Found guilty for DESTRUCTIVE ARSON
chairs, and saw appellant inside who poured kerosene on the bed One (1) or more buildings or edifices, consequent to
but the wife of Marigomen put it out 1. one single act of burning, or as a
1am the next day barking dogs alerte Lina Videna to the burning 2. result of simultaneous burnings, or
house where she saw appellant standing inform of the burning 3. committed on several or different occasions
house after peeping through the GI sheet fence
The fire truck arrived at 2am and fire investigator Savare did not SC agreed at that the circumstances taken together point to a logical
find any incendiary devices conclusion because
1. Appellant had motive as shown when Montescarlos tried to burn
their clothes and furniture and it made him angry
2. He tried to set fire to the bed
3. Evidence of a person doing one thing at another time maybe
evidence to prove intent or knowledge of a plant
4. He was seen in the burning yard by Videna
5. 12 noon they went to the kagawad where they saw complainant
who said so what if I burned your house and stared meanly at them
and also threatened Aquino if she would testify against him

In Prosecution for arson Proof of the crime is complete where


evidence establishes
1. Corpus Delicti (substance of te crime)
2. Identity of the Defendants as responsible for the crime

Corpus Delicti in arson


Satisfied by bare occurance of the fire and having been intentionally
caused even if with just 1 uncorroborated testimony
People v Soriano we believe that the applicable provision of law should be Sec. 3, par. 2,
WHAT STARTED OUT AS AN ORDINARY LOVERS' QUARREL turned of PD 1613, 20which imposes a penalty of reclusion
out to be a nightmarish inferno for the residents of Datu Abing Street, temporal to reclusion perpetua for other cases of arson as the properties
Calinan, Davao City. The unmitigated passion and impulses incessantly burned by accused-appellant are specifically described as houses|||
burning in the heat of the moment ignited the series of events that contemplating inhabited houses or dwellings under the aforesaid law. |||
resulted in the conflagration of 18 September 1998 mercilessly
destroying the houses along its path. The age-old forewarning that "he The elements of arson under Sec. 3, par. 2, of PD 1613 are: (a) there is
who plays close to the fire shall ultimately be consumed by its flames" intentional burning; and (b) what is intentionally burned is an inhabited
fits literally and figuratively into this tragic tale of lust, love, betrayal and house or dwelling|||
isolation.|||
The nature of Destructive Arson is distinguished from Simple Arson by
the degree of perversity or viciousness of the criminal offender. |||
Nestor G. Soriano was having an argument with his live-in
partner Honey Rosario Cimagala concerning their son ||| In the present case, the act committed by accused-appellant neither
Honey worked as Guest Relations Officer (GRO) in a Metro appears to be heinous nor represents a greater degree of perversity
Manila beer house and viciousness as distinguished from those acts punishable
Honey's brother, Oscar Cimagala, took their child out without
the consent of accused-appellant who wanted both Honey No qualifying circumstance was established to convert the offense
and Otoy instead to return with him to Manila to Destructive Arson.
n accused-appellant intimated to Honey his desire to have sex
with her,||| The special aggravating circumstance that accused-appellant was
he kicked him as her stern rebuke to his sexual importuning.||| "motivated by spite or hatred towards the owner or occupant of the
property burned" cannot be appreciated in the present case where it
appears that he was acting more on impulse, heat of anger

we find that there exists a mitigating circumstance that should have


estor nastily retorted: "[S]he is now arrogant and proud of her been appreciated by the trial court in determining the penalty to be
brother who now supported (sic) her and her children." 2 He imposed on the accused-appellant: a circumstance similar and
added that since he returned from Manila, the house had analogous to passion and obfuscation
become "unlucky,"|||
In the heated exchanges, Nestor struck Honey in the It has been satisfactorily shown by the court a quo that the lovers'
forehead.||| quarrel between Nestor Soriano and Honey Rosario Cimagala ignited
Nestor then moved away as he muttered: "It is better that I burn the chain of events that led to the conflagration |||
this house We are therefore not adequately convinced that imposing the
took a match from the top of a cabinet, lighted a cigarette and exceptionally severe penalty of reclusion perpetua is proper in the case
set fire to the plastic partition that served as divider of Honey's at bar
room
With her naked body precariously draped in a towel, Honey First. There appears to be no reckless disregard for human lives
instinctively took off her covering and doused off the flame with indicative of a cold, calculating, wicked and perverse intention to burn
it||| the Cimagala home. The action of accused-appellant was the result of
But Nestor did his worst; he went to Honey's room and set on a lovers'
fire her clothes in the cabinet
Honey fled to the ground floor; Nestor followed her. As the tiff Second. Neither was there any reckless disregard for the rights of
conflagration was now engulfing the second story of the house, the neighboring property owners|||
Honey frantically shouted to her uncle|||
Nestor grappled with Honey and choked her as he dragged her After his impulsive act of setting fire to both the plastic partition of the
towards the kitchen. She told him that it would be better for him room and Honey's clothes, he attempted to mend his ways
to kill her immediately by attempting to put out the flames although it was too
Nestor finally laid down his knife and hurriedly went back to the late|||
second floor only to see the entire area in flames. They had no
choice but to leave as the fire spread rapidly to the neighboring
housesAs a result, the house occupied by Honey was totally
burned together with five (5) neighboring houses||| On 3
September 1999, the RTC of Davao City, Branch 17, found
Nestor G. Soriano alias Boyguilty of Destructive Arson
Buebos v People The following are the requisites for circumstantial evidence to be sufficient for
On January 1, 1994 around 3:00 o'clock in the morning, Adelina a conviction:
B. Borbe was in her house at Hacienda San Miguel, Tabaco, (a) there is more than one circumstance;
Albay watching over her sick child||| She got up and looked (b) the facts from which the inferences are derived have been proven; and
through the window and saw the four accused,| (c) the combination of all the circumstances results in a moral certainty that the
When she went out, she saw the roof of her nipa hut already on accused, to the exclusion of all others, is the one who has committed the crime
fire
She shouted for help. Instead of coming to her immediate We find that the circumstantial evidence extant in the records is
succor, the four fled. 5 sufficient to identify petitioners as the authors of the burning of the hut of
At some distance away, Olipiano Berjuela heard Adelina scream private complainant Adelina Borbe:
for help
On April 7, 1998, the RTC found all of the accused guilty beyond 1. Private complainant heard some noise emanating from outside
reasonable doubt of arson. In downgrading the penalty, the CA her house at around 3:00 a.m.;
opined that the accused could only be convicted of simple 2. When she went out to check the disturbance, private
arson,||| complainant saw petitioners, together with their two other co-accused,
standing in front of the house;
3. Moments later, the roof of her house caught fire;
4. Petitioners and their cohorts absconded while private
complainant desperately shouted for help.

In the case at bench, conspiracy was evident from the coordinated movements
of petitioners Dante and Sarmelito Buebos. Both of them stood outside the
house of private complainant Adelina. They were part of the group making
boisterous noise in the vicinity. Petitioners also fled together while the roof of
Adelina's house was ablaze
The legal basis of the trial court in convicting petitioners of arson is
Section 3, paragraph 2 of P.D. No. 1613. The said provision of law reads:
SEC. 3. Other Cases of Arson. The penalty
of reclusion temporal to reclusion perpetuashall be imposed
if the property burned is any of the following:
xxx xxx xxx
2. Any inhabited house or dwelling;
The elements of this form of arson are: (a) there is intentional
burning; and (b) what is intentionally burned is an inhabited house or
dwelling. 23 Admittedly, there is a confluence of the foregoing elements
here. However, the information failed to allege that what was intentionally
burned was an inhabited house
|||
In fine, petitioners can be convicted only of simple arson, under Section 1,
paragraph 1 of P.D. No. 1613, punishable by prision mayor.|||

This is not a case of first impression. This Court has, on a number of occasions,
modified the RTC and CA judgments for having applied the wrong law and
penalty on arson
The nature of Destructive Arson is distinguished from Simple Arson by the
degree of perversity or viciousness of the criminal offender.

Prescinding from the above clarification vis--vis the description of the crime as
stated in the accusatory portion of the Information, it is quite evident that
accused-appellant was charged with the crime of Simple Arson for
having "deliberately set fire upon the two-storey residential house of ROBERTO
SEPARA and family .|||
The elements of arson under Sec. 3, par. 2, of PD 1613 are:

(a) there is intentional burning; and


(b) what is intentionally burned is an inhabited house or dwelling. Incidentally,
these elements concur in the case at bar

People v Baluuntong appellant raises doubt on prosecution witness Felicitas' claim that she
saw appellant fleeing away from the burning house, it being then 10:30
Prosecutons Verison p.m. and, therefore, dark|||

12-year old Jovelyn Santos (Jovelyn) was sleeping in the house He raises doubt too on Jovelyn's claim that she saw appellant, given
of her grandmother ||| her failure to ask him to stop putting dried hay around the house if
indeed her claim were true.
she was awakened by heat emanating from the walls of the
house. She thus roused her cousin Dorecyll and together they There should be no doubt on prosecution witnesses Felicitas' and
went out of the house.||| Jovelyn's positive identification of their neighbor-herein appellant
as the person they saw during the burning of the house, given, among
Jovelyn saw appellant putting dry hay (dayami) around the other things, the illumination generated by the fire.|||
house near the terrace where the fire started
[I]n cases where both burning and death occur, in order to determine
Appellant's neighbor, Felicitas Sarzona (Felicitas), also saw what crime/crimes was/were perpetrated whether arson, murder or
appellant near Celerina's house after it caught fire, following arson and homicide/murder, |||
which, appellant fled on seeing Jovelyn and Dorecyll stepping
out ||| if the main objective is the burning of the building or edifice, but
death results by reason or on the occasion of arson, the crime is
Celerina and Alvin sustained third degree burns which led to simply arson, and the resulting homicide is absorbed;
their death. Joshua sustained second degree burns.||
if, on the other hand, the main objective is to kill a particular person
Upon the other hand, appellant, denying the charge, invoked who may be in a building or edifice, when fire is resorted to as the
alibi, claiming that he, on his mother Rosalinda's request, went means to accomplish such goal the crime committed is murder only;
to Caloocan City on July 15, 1998 lastly,
the trial court found appellant guilty as charged, disposing as if the objective is, likewise, to kill a particular person, and in fact the
follows:||| offender has already done so, but fire is resorted to as a means to cover
up the killing, then there are two separate and distinct crimes
the appellate court brushed aside appellant's claim that the committed homicide/murder and arson. |||
prosecution failed to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
The appellate court, however, modified the trial court's decision he Court finds that there is no showing that appellant's main objective
by reducing the penalty was to kill Celerina and her housemates and that the fire was resorted
to as the means to accomplish the goal.|||

Absent any concrete basis then to hold that the house was set on fire
to kill the occupants, appellant cannot be held liable for double murder
with frustrated murder

even assuming arguendo that appellant wanted to kill her to get even
with her in light of her alleged desire to drive him out of the
neighboring house, |||

Celerina was outside the house at the time it was set on fire. She
merely entered the burning house to save her grandsons

When there is variance between the offense charged in the complaint


or information and that proved, and the offense charged is included or
necessarily includes the offense proved, conviction shall be for the
offense proved which is included in the offense charged, or the offense
charged which is included in the offense proved.

Amora v people The facts show that the crime was committed in a place where bakeries, barber
a fire broke out in the building used by petitioner as residence shops, tailoring shops and other commercial and residential buildings were
situated.|||
and as a bakery. The fire also gutted nearby houses.
It is clear that the place of the commission of the crime was a residential and
commercial building located in an urban and populated area. This qualifying
Petitioner's edifice was constructed on a lot owned by Adelfa circumstance places the offense squarely within the ambit of Section 2 (7)
Maslog Tagaytay (Adelfa). of P.D. 1613, and converts it to "destructive arson," 7 viz.:

Adelfa's father had earlier entered into a contract of lease with Section 2. Destructive Arson. The penalty of Reclusion
petitioner, whereby the latter was to use the lot and erect a Temporal in its maximum period toReclusion Perpetua shall
building thereon for a monthly rental of P50.00, for a period of be imposed if the property burned is any of the
twenty (20) years. || following: TIDHCc
xxx xxx xxx
upon the expiration of the contract on July 10, 1993, ownership
over the building shall be transferred to the lessor. 7. Any building, whether used as a dwelling or not, situated in
a populated or congested area.

On January 4, 1993, Adelfa informed petitioner that she would It was also established that the subject building was insured against fire for an
no longer renew the contract of lease amount substantially more than its market value, a fact that has given rise to
the unrebutted prima facie evidence of arson, as provided in Section 6 of P.D.
January 14, 1993, petitioner secured a fire insurance coverage 1613:
over the subject building from the Malayan Insurance Company
for P150,000.00, then obtained another fire insurance policy Section 6. Prima facie evidence of Arson. Any of the following
from Makati Insurance Company for P300,000.00 circumstances shall constituteprima facie evidence of arson:
xxx xxx xxx
the amounts of insurance coverage were substantially higher
than the building's market value (pegged at P52,590.00 in the 4. If the building or property is insured for
1985 Tax Declaration||| substantially more than its actual value at the
time of the issuance of the policy.
during the actual fire, petitioner was within the premises, heard
|||
shouts from his neighbor, ignored the same at first, and only
later on did he finally stand up to see what was going on.|||
The trial court found that the circumstances enumerated above sufficiently
point to the petitioner as the author of the crime. Indeed, all these
(B)ased on the testimonies of witnesses available and after a
meticulous study of the fire incident, the investigation concludes circumstances, taken together, are consistent with the hypothesis that
that the cause of fire was intentionally done." ISTDAH petitioner is guilty, and at the same time inconsistent with the hypothesis that
he is innocent.|||
the RTC found petitioner guilty as charged
1. Lease would be terminated We find no cogent reason to disturb the findings of the trial court as affirmed
2. Property was insured and worth more than the property by the appellate court
3. Accused was seen during and subsequent to the fire
4. Investigators concluded the fire was intentional

People v Cedenio It is settled that there is no complex crime of arson with homicide.
The silence of the slumbering night was suddenly shattered by wailing
cries for help. A sheet of fire raged, its crimson brightness overwhelming when fire is used with the intent to kill a particular person who may be in a
the velvet darkness enshrouding the sleepy barangay as it enveloped the house and that objective is attained by burning the house, the crime is murder
lair of a mandadaut, 1 the flames only fading away with the first blush of only. When the Penal Code declares that killing committed by means of fire is
dawn. As the smoke thinned and the ashes settled, the debris yielded murder, it intends that fire should be purposely adopted as a means to that
five (5) fatalities among them a 22-day old female infant. Unlike the end.
other victims, she did not sustain any stab or hack wound. She could
have died of suffocation if not of burning||| if the main object of the offender is to kill by means of fire, the offense is
murder. But if the main objective is the burning of the building, the resulting
Palomas recounts that on 26 November 1986, at about ten- homicide may be absorbed by the crime of arson.|||
thirty in the evening, he was roused from his sleep by bangs and
slams The rule is otherwise when arson is itself the end and death is a mere
consequence. The crime in such a case would be arson only, absorbing the
It was Hilario Dorio's house on fire. Peeping through his window, homicide|||
Palomas saw around seven (7) persons, among them appellants
Pedro Cedenio, Jurito Amarga and Felipe Antipolo, emerge from The Information in this case however, although erroneously charging the crime
the house of Dorio that was afire||| of "Arson with Multiple Murder," clearly charges appellants with six (6) distinct
criminal acts
The blaze was so bright he was able to recognize them. They
were wielding unsheathed bolos. Afraid, Palomas remained It accuses of them of "wilfully, unlawfully and criminally attack(ing),
home assault(ing) and stab(bing) Hilario G. Dorio, Nicanora G. Tabanao, Maria T.
Dorio, Dioscora T. Dorio and Flora T. Dorio, inflicting on their persons multiple
The following morning, he narrated to Romeo, son of Hilario mortal wounds . . . (and) set(ting) on fire and burn(ing) the house of the victims.
Dorio, what he witnessed the night before. Then he went with . . ." 13 Since appellants failed to move to quash the information on the ground
the younger Dorio to the rubble and saw the charred bodies of of multiplicity of charges or object thereto at any other time, the defect has
his father, Hilario Dorio, his mother Flora, his sister Maria, his been waived)
niece Dioscora, and his maternal grandmother Nicanora
Tabanao, said to be a family of sorcerers in the village|||
We accord credence to the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses. We see
Policarpio Apostadero was resting at around ten-thirty that no reason to depart from the conclusion of the trial court that it was "morally
fateful evening when he heard dogs barkingThinking that a convinced that the three accused are all guilty.|||
carabao may have gone astray, he went out of his house and
headed for the cornfield. Palomas, Apostadero and Antifuesto are disinterested witnesses and there is
not a shiver of evidence to indicate that they are suborned witnesses
he noticed some thirty (30) meters away that the house of
Hilario Dorio was on fire. From where he stood, he also saw Where the defense failed to show any evil or improper motive on the part of
people running out of the burning house prosecution witnesses, the presumption is that their testimonies are true and
thus entitled to full faith and credence
he recognized three (3) of them as his neighbors Pedro Cedenio,
Jurito Amarga and Felipe Antipolo These circumstances "form an unbroken chain which leads to a fair and
reasonable conclusion pinpointing the accused as the perpetrators of the crime
When they drew nearer, he saw them holding bolos stained with First, appellant Cedenio borrowed the bolo of witness Antifuesto at
blood so he retreated home around seven o'clock in the evening.
Albino Calunod, Sr., Barangay Captain of Gandingan, Second, Cedenio together with appellants Antipolo and Amarga were
Pangantucan, Bukidnon, also narrated that on 27 November positively identified as brandishing their bloodstained bolos while
1986, at around seven o'clock in the morning, he was informed rushing out of the victims' burning house around ten-thirty that same
by Cristituto Gajo that the Dorio residence was gutted by fire evening.
the night before and that five (5) members of the Dorio family Third, Antifuesto's bolo was returned to him at around three o'clock
then occupying the house were burned to death. the following morning after appellants were seen outside the victim's
burning house.
The five (5) bodies retrieved from the site were those of Hilario Fourth, the bolo had bloodstains when it was returned.
Dorio with wounds on the head and chest, Flora Dorio with a Fifth, Cedenio called on Antifuesto at three-thirty that same morning
wound on the leg and head almost severed; Maria Dorio with to appease the latter and assure him not to worry because ". . . if this
wounds in the neck and left nipple; Nicanora Tabanao with a incident reaches the court, I will answer (for) everything." 22
wound in the stomach; and, infant Dioscora Dorio with no Sixth, when retrieved from the burned house, the bodies of the victims
wounds at all but charred to the bone.||| bore stab and hack wounds.." 23

Perfecto Antifuesto implicated Pedro Cedenio to the heinous We disagree with appellants' submission that the testimony of prosecution
crime. Antifuesto said that on 26 November 1986, at around witness Antifuesto is not in accord with human nature. On the contrary, his
seven o'clock in the evening, he was awakened by Cedenio who testimony that the bolo was returned to him with bloodstains is worthy of
borrowed his bolo. At around three o'clock the following belief. Appellants never thought that Antifuesto would testify against them
morning, Pito Panla-an woke him up to return the bolo earlier
borrowed by Cedenio In fine, we believe that when appellants were seen in the vicinity of the burning
house, they were not there to save lives and property but rather to escape from
When Panla-an left, Antifuesto got his bolo and found the locus criminis and avoid being made to answer for the consequences of
bloodstains on its handle. Upon unsheathing it, he discovered their wicked act.|||
fresh blood on its blade. Thirty (30) minutes later, Cedenio
arrived and appeased him, ". . . do not worry, if this incident Conspiracy, as we said, may be inferred from the acts of the accused when such
reaches the court I will answer (for) everything acts point to a joint purpose of design.|||

Although it appears that around nine (9) persons were involved From the evidence adduced, it is evident that after the victims were hacked
in the commission of the felony, 6 only three (3) were convicted and stabbed to death, appellants set the house afire to hide their gruesome
by the trial court act. This is the only logical conclusion for the burning of the house. |||

Appellants now argue that there is no direct and positive If their objective was merely to kill the victims then there would be no reason
evidence showing that they killed the victims and burned their for them to burn the victims' abode. On the other hand, if their objective was
house merely arson, they would not have attacked the victims with their bolos.

Finally, appellants maintain that their denial and alibi should We however cannot consider the qualifying circumstance of treachery.
prevail over the insufficient evidence of the prosecution. In
asserting their innocence, they allege that they were in the area There is no proof of such fact in the instant case; neither is there any testimony
because of their moral obligation to save life and property. on how the attack was actually carried out. Where no particulars are known as
to the manner in which the aggression was made or how the act which resulted
appellant Cedenio claimed that he cut up banana trunks and in the death of the victims began and developed, it can in no way be
hurled them into the fire while appellant Antipolo gathered soil established from mere suppositions that the killing was perpetrated by
and threw it into the blaze. While witnesses might have indeed treachery
seen them (appellants) coming out of the burning house, that
was probably after they (appellants) checked on and tried to Nevertheless, we qualify the killing to murder on account of evident
save the occupants of the house.||| premeditation.

The fact alone that appellants burned the victims' house after inflicting fatal
wounds on them already suggests that they clung to their determination to
commit the crime.

The circumstance that appellant Cedenio borrowed the bolo of witness


Antifuesto and later placated the latter when his bolo was returned to him
already bloodstained strongly indicates that appellants pondered on the
means|||

They cannot be convicted of homicide for the death of the infant who died
presumably of suffocation or incineration but of arson resulting in death, as
defined in Sec. 5 of P.D. No. 1613.