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People VS Veneracion, 12 October 1995, 249 SCRA 247 People of the Philippines vs Lorenzo Veneracion

249 SCRA 244 – Civil Law – Preliminary Title – Application of Laws – Duty of
On August 2, 1994, the lifeless body of Angel Alquiza, 7 years old, was found
floating along Del Pan St., near the corner of Lavesares st.,Binondo Manila. a Judge to Impose Prescribed Penalty
Abundio Lagunday a.k.a. Jr. Jeofrey of no fixed address and Lagarto of Tondo
Manila were later charged with the crime of Rape with Homicide. In August 1994, four accused were found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
Subsequently, Cordero, Manlangit, Baltazar and Yaon were accused of the rape with homicide committed against a seven year old girl. The Presiding
same crime of Rape with Homicide.On January 31, 1995 finding the
defendants Henry Lagarto and ErnestoCordero guilty beyond reasonable judge was Lorenzo Veneracion.
doubt of the crime of Rape with Homicide and sentenced with “reclusion
perpetua with all thea ccessories provided by law”. The City Prosecutor of Under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code which treats of the crime of Rape
Manila filed a motion for Reconsideration on February 8, 1995 praying that the with Homicide, the penalty imposable shall be death. However, Judge
decision be “modified in that the penalty of death be imposed” against the
respondents Lagarto and Cordero. On February 10, 1995, the judge issued an Veneracion refused to impose the death penalty but instead he sentenced the
order denying the same for lack of jurisdiction. four accused to reclusion perpetua. The city prosecutor filed a motion for
reconsideration praying that the penalty of death be imposed upon the four
Whether or not the respondent judge acted with grave abuse of discretion and accused but the judge refused to act.
in excess of jurisdiction when he failed and/or refused to impose the
mandatory penalty of death under RA # 7659, after finding the accused guilty ISSUE: Whether or not Judge Veneracion has the discretion to impose a
of the crime Rape with Homicide. lesser penalty than that imposed by law.
RULING: HELD: No. The Supreme Court ruled that the law mandates that after an
Obedience to the rule of law forms the bedrock of the justice system.
If judges under the guise of religious or political beliefs were allowed toroam adjudication of guilt, the judge should impose the proper penalty provided for
unrestricted beyond boundaries within which they are required by law to by the law on the accused regardless of his own religious or moral beliefs. In
exercise the duties of their office, then law becomes meaningless. A
government of laws, not of men, excludes the exercise of broad discretionary this case, the judge must impose the death penalty. This is consistent in the
powers by those acting under its authority. In the case of bench, since the law rule laid down in the Civil Code (Article 9 thereof) which provides that no judge
in force at the time of the commission of the crime for which respondent judge
or court shall decline to render judgment by reason of the silence, obscurity, or
found the accused guilty, of he was bound by its provisions. After an
adjudication of guilt, the judge should impose “the proper penalty and civil insufficiency of the laws.
liability provided for the law on the accused. This is a case in which a judge,
fully aware of the appropriate provisions of the law refuses to impose a penalty
to which he disagrees”.

The instant petition is Granted. The case is hereby Remanded to the RTC for
the imposition of the penalty of death upon private respondents in consonance
with respondent judge’s findings that the private respondents had committed
the crime of Rape with Homicide under Art 335 of the RPC, as amended by
section 11 of RA # 7659,subject to automatic review by this court of the
decision imposing the death penalty.