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MALANA v.

PEOPLE  After escaping several meters from his house, Vicente heard an explosion and saw
March 26, 2008| Tinga, J. | Equipoise Doctrine the fire engulf his entire house.
Digester: Yee, Jenine  Meanwhile, Suzette, who was awakened by her parents’ panicked reaction to the
kitchen fire, cradled Jenny and saw the three men enter their house when her
SUMMARY: Vicente, Betty, Suzette, and the latter’s infant were asleep in their single- mother opened the main door. Dominador and Rodel were standing behind the
storey structure when they were awakened by a fire in the kitchen door. Betty tried to third man. She testified that the third man carried a round one-gallon
call for help but when she opened the main door she saw the three accused carrying a container with a wick of three to four inches in length. Rodel lit the wick
container with a wick. The wick was lit and the container thrown into the house. The with a match, and the third man threw the container into Suzette’s
house exploded. After that, the three men simultaneously ran away. This incident left bedroom. After that, the three men simultaneously ran away. Suzette saw the
Betty dead and Suzette and the baby injured. Vicente and Suzette testified before the container burst into flames and explode.
trial court. Vicente testified that the accused threatened to kill him before the incident  The explosion killed Betty instantly, blowing apart her legs and one of her arms.
due to their belief that he was in the practice of witchcraft which killed the parent’s of Her body, from the waist down, was burned. The explosion also shattered and
one of the accused. Suzette positively identified the two accused but was not able to exposed the bone of Suzette’s left leg and knocked her front teeth out. The
identify Elenito. The co-accused set up the defenses of denial and alibi. The RTC found doctors could not save Suzette’s shattered left leg so the same was amputated from
Dominador and Rodel guilty but acquitted Elenito since he was not positively identified. below the knee. Had it not been for the prompt medical attention she received,
The CA and SC affirmed. Suzette would have died from the injuries she had sustained from the explosion.
DOCTRINE: The equipoise rule provides that where the evidence of the parties in a Jenny survived the blast with barely any injury.
criminal case is evenly balanced, the constitutional presumption of innocence should tilt  Vicente also testified that appellants had been threatening to liquidate him and his
the scales in favor of the accused. There is, therefore, no equipoise if the evidence is not family, due to their belief that he was in the practice of witchcraft by which he
evenly balanced. The equipoise rule cannot be invoked where the evidence of the had caused the deaths of Rodel’s parents-in-law.
prosecution is overwhelming.
 Appellants proffered the defenses of denial and alibi.
o Dominador testified that on the date and time of the crime, he was
FACTS: working as a construction worker in Parian, Calamba, Laguna and
 The petitioners Dominador Malana (Dominador) and Rodel Tiaga (Rodel), that he had been in Laguna since 11 May 2000 until the end of the
together with their acquitted co-accused Elenito Malana (Elenito), were charged month. He claimed that he was implicated
with the crime of murder and multiple frustrated. The charges stemmed from an o Rodel testified that he was recuperating from illness in Binahaan,
incident on 28 May 2000 that left Betty Capsa-Roxas (Betty) dead, and her Pagbilao, Quezon when the incident took place. He claimed that he
daughter and granddaughter injured. was implicated because he helped Dominador in engaging the
 The prosecution presented the two adult survivors of the ghastly crime, Vicente services of a counsel.
Roxas Jr., (Vicente) and his daughter Suzette Roxas (Suzette), as its main o Elenito similarly gave the alibi that he was engaged as a construction
witnesses. worker together with Dominador in Laguna when the crime
 They testified as follows: One evening, Vicente, his wife, Betty, Suzette, and the occurred.
latter’s infant daughter, Jenny Rose de la Cruz (Jenny), were asleep inside their  RTC: Dominador and Rodel guilty of two (2) separate crimes of murder and
house in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan. Their house is a single-storey structure with frustrated murder, and acquitted Elenito on the ground of reasonable doubt. The
spaces apportioned for the living room, the kitchen, and one bedroom. Vicente trial court acquitted Elenito as he was not positively identified by Suzette as the
and Betty slept at the living room, while Suzette and Jenny occupied the bedroom. third man and his physical appearance does not fit the description of the tall fat
 Vicente testified that at around 11:30 p.m., he was awakened by the sound of dogs man seen by Suzette.
barking. He saw the kitchen door of their house on fire. He tried to douse the  CA: AFFIRMED the guilt of appellants but modified their sentences such that
flames with water, but the fire fuming of the smell of gasoline, spread out instead. each of them is liable for the complex crime of murder with frustrated murder and
Vicente woke Betty and told her to fetch help. As Betty opened the main door of attempted murder; hence, it sentenced each of the appellants to suffer the penalty
their house, Dominador, Rodel, and a third man whom he identified as Ronnie prescribed for the most serious crime which is death.
Malana, suddenly appeared and entered the house. Since these individuals had
previously threatened to kill Vicente and his entire family, Vicente, upon seeing RULING: Except as to the penalty of death, now commuted to reclusion perpetua
them, ran through the burning kitchen door and out of the house to seek help pursuant to Republic Act No. 9346,19 we affirm appellants’ conviction.
from his brother-in-law, Roberto Oredero, whose house was merely 30 meters
away.

248(3) of the Revised Penal Code. no equipoise if the appellants’ will evidence is not evenly balanced. the constitutional presumption of innocence should tilt of murder were complete but she nevertheless survived due to causes independent of the scales in favor of the accused. This they failed to prove. there could have been no other overriding reason for Suzette’s damning testimony against the accused-appellants save for the purpose of making sure that justice was done and the culprits of the crime be held accountable and meted their proper punishment for their dastardly deed. The age-old rule is that the task of assigning values to the testimonies with frustrated murder and attempted murder under Article 48 of the Revised Penal of witnesses in the stand and weighing their credibility is best left to the trial court Code. Suzette could never have just pinpointed to anyone to the crime. The previous life threats made by the accused-appellants on Vicente and his family. There is no cogent reason to disturb the finding of guilt made by the trial court the exploding of the Roxas residence following Vicente’s escape from his house. positive and convincing evidence for the prosecution.20 for the prompt medical attention she received. Appellants question the credibility of the testimony of Vicente and NOTES: Suzette and the weight given by the trial court to the testimony of the bomb • The appellate court correctly found appellants guilty of the complex crime of murder specialist. It is also below the knee and she would have died from the injuries she sustained had it not been axiomatic that positive testimony prevails over negative testimony. she would not have lightly accused the herein accused- appellants if they were not the true malefactors of the crime committed. With respect to Suzette. Indeed. who had to bear the sight of her eight-month old baby injured by burns. There is. surely. time.  Under her circumstances. the Betty by means of an explosive device qualifies the crime to murder under Article rule is not applicable. therefore. The killing of Whether the accused should be acquitted under the equipoise rule – NO. while Vicente did not actually see the accused-appellants perpetrate the crime.  On the part of Suzette. Vicente’s testimony lends credence to the fact that the accused-appellants were present in the place. appellants could only offer denials and uncorroborated alibi. as mother. who lost her left leg to the crime. and that it was physically impossible for them to have been at the scene of the crime at the time it was committed. weighing of evidence already passed upon by the trial court and the appellate court. It is incumbent upon appellants to prove that they were at another place when the felony was committed. appellants are guilty of  This rule provides that where the evidence of the parties in a criminal case frustrated murder inasmuch as all the acts necessary that would consummate the crime is evenly balanced. who witnessed her own mother burn to death. The equipoise rule cannot be invoked where the evidence of the prosecution is overwhelming. and . AppellantsÊ intent to kill is apparent when they threw the explosive device towards the direction of the victims. consistent and untainted by any ill motive on the part of the eyewitness testifying on the matter. The issues raised by appellants involve served to corroborate and shed light to Suzette’s account of the crime. Whether the testimony of Vicente and Suzette should be given credence – YES. and as a daughter.while SuzetteÊs left leg was amputated from which forms its first-hand impressions as a witness testifies before it. The explosion killed Betty instantly. as a direct victim. It is elementary that alibi and denial are outweighed by positive identification that is categorical. The prosecution witnesses positively identified appellants as two of the perpetrators of the crime. o Against the direct.  On the part of Vicente. and date of the crime. and affirmed by the appellate court. o Said rule is not applicable in the case before us because the evidence here presented is not equally weighty.