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PEOPLE vs.

ADRIANO

DOCTRINE:

In order for treachery to be properly appreciated, two elements must be present: (1) at the time of the attack, the victim
was not in a position to defend himself; and (2) the accused consciously and deliberately adopted the particular means,
methods or forms of attack employed by him. In ambush, the crime is carried out to ensure that the victim is killed and
at the same time, to eliminate any risk from any possible defenses or retaliation from the victim—ambush exemplifies
the nature of treachery. Treachery absorbs the aggravating circumstance of abuse of superior strength and use of
firearms. Treachery may be appreciated in aberratio ictus (mistake in the blow).

FACTS: At around 8:00 a.m., POI Garabiles and PO2 Santos in civilian clothes, were on their way to Camp Olivas,
Pampanga, riding a motorcycle. While they were at Barangay Malapit San Isidro, Nueva Ecija, a speeding blue Toyota
Corolla heading towards the same direction, overtook them and the car in front of them. When the Corolla reached
alongside the CRV, the passenger on the front seat of the Corolla shot the CRV and caused the CRV to swerve and
fall in the canal.

Four armed men alighted the Corolla and started shooting at Cabiedes, the driver of the CRV. During the shooting, a
bystander, Bulanan, was hit by a stray bullet. The 4 armed men immediately left the crime scene. Later, both Cabiedes
and Bulanan died from fatal gunshot wounds: Cabiedes died due to 3 gunshot wounds on the left side of his chest while
Bulanan died after being shot in the head.

During the investigation, the police learned that the Corolla was registered under the name of Antonio Rivera. Upon
inquiry, Rivera admitted that he is the owner but clarified that he leased the Corolla to Adriano. Later that day, Adriano
arrived at Rivera's shop with the Corolla, where he was identified by PO2 Santos and PO1 Garabiles as one of the four
assailants. He was immediately arrested.

RTC and CA: Guilty of murder for the death of Cabiedes and of homicide for the death of Bulanan. Adriano's claim that
he was in Dolores, Pampanga at the time of the incident does not convince because it was not impossible for Adriano
to be physically present at the crime scene, in San Isidro, Nueva Ecija, which can be reached by car in less than an
hour.

ISSUE: Is treachery present in both killings and may treachery be appreciated in aberratio ictus?

RULING: Yes.

In the case at bar, the prosecution has established the concurrence of the elements of murder: (1) the fact of death of
Cabiedes and Bulanan; (2) the positive identification of Adriano as one of perpetrators of the crime; and (3) the
attendance of treachery as a qualifying aggravating circumstance and use of firearms and abuse of superior strength
as generic aggravating circumstances.

The present case is a case of murder by ambush. In ambush, the crime is carried out to ensure that the victim is killed
and at the same time, to eliminate any risk from any possible defenses or retaliation from the victim—ambush
exemplifies the nature of treachery.

Paragraph 16 of Article 14 of the (RPC) defines treachery as the direct employment of means, methods, or forms in
the execution of the crime against persons which tend directly and specially to insure its execution, without risk to the
offender arising from the defense which the offended party might make. In order for treachery to be properly
appreciated, two elements must be present: (1) at the time of the attack, the victim was not in a position to defend
himself; and (2) the accused consciously and deliberately adopted the particular means, methods or forms of attack
employed by him. The "essence of treachery is the sudden and unexpected attack by an aggressor on the unsuspecting
victim, depriving the latter of any chance to defend himself and thereby ensuring its commission without risk of himself."

Clearly, treachery is present in the case at bar as the victims were indeed defenseless at the time of the attack. Adriano,
together with the other accused, ambushed Cabiedes by following the unsuspecting victim along the national highway
and by surprise, fired multiple shots at Cabiedes and then immediately fled the crime scene, causing Cabiedes to die
of multiple gunshot wounds. When the Corolla swerved into the CRV's lane, Cabiedes was forced to swiftly turn to the
right and on to the road embankment, finally falling into the canal where his CRY was trapped, precluding all possible
means of defense. There is no other logical conclusion, but that the orchestrated ambush committed by Adriano,
together with his co-accused, who are still on the loose, was in conspiracy with each other to ensure the death of
Cabiedes and their safety. The means of execution employed was deliberately and consciously adopted by Adriano so
as to give Cabiedes no opportunity to defend himself or to retaliate.

All these circumstances indicate that the orchestrated crime was committed with the presence of the aggravating
circumstances of treachery, which absorbs the aggravating circumstance of abuse of superior strength, and use of
firearms. Indeed, Cabiedes had no way of escaping or defending himself.

Bulanan, who was merely a bystander, was killed by a stray bullet. He was at the wrong place at the wrong time. At the
outset, Adriano had no intention to kill Bulanan, much less, employ any particular means of attack. Logically, Bulanan's
death was random and unintentional and the method used to kill her, as she was killed by a stray a bullet, was, by no
means, deliberate. Nonetheless, Adriano is guilty of the death of Bulanan under Article 4 of the Revised Penal
Code, pursuant to the doctrine of aberratio ictus.

As borne by the records, the Nueva Ecija Provincial Crime Lab recovered cartridges of bullets from a .45 caliber firearm.
This does not indicate discharge by a single burst. Rather, separate shots are evidenced. One or more of which, though
fired to kill Cabiedes, killed Bulanan instead. There is thus no complex crime. The felonious acts resulted in two separate
and distinct crimes.

Although Bulanan's death was by no means deliberate, we shall adhere to the prevailing jurisprudence pronounced in
People v. Flora, where the Court ruled that treachery may be appreciated in aberratio ictus. In Flora, the accused was
convicted of two separate counts of murder: for the killing of two victims, Emerita, the intended victim, and Ireneo, the
victim killed by a stray bullet. The Court, due to the presence of the aggravating circumstance of treachery, qualified
both killings to murder. The material facts in Flora are similar in the case at bar. Thus, we follow the Flora doctrine.

In the case at bar, as the circumstance of abuse of superior strength concurs with treachery, the former is absorbed in
the latter. There being no aggravating or mitigating circumstance present, the lower penalty should be imposed, which
is reclusion perpetua. Thus, Adriano is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of MURDER for the killing of
BULANAN and CABIEDES.