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CASES ON ARSON

By: Vilpa P. Villabas

Main Objective: To differentiate between Destructive


(RPC) and Simple Arson (P.D. 1613)
Specific Objectives:
To answer the following questions:
What is the nature of the crime of arson (in particular: destructive arson under RPC and simple
arson under P.D. 1613)?
Is there any difference between simple arson and the other cases of arson any inhabited
house or dwelling?
What are the effects of aggravating and mitigating circumstances in the commission of the
crime?
What is the significance of circumstantial evidence in the crime of arson?
What is the relevance of the phrase by means of fire as applied in the crimes of arson and
murder?

People vs. Soriano,

G.R. No. 142565. July 29, 2003


He who plays close to the fire shall ultimately be consumed by its flames
fits literally and figuratively into this tragic tale of lust, love, betrayal and
isolation.

People vs. Soriano,

G.R. No. 142565. July 29, 2003


Article 320 ofthe RPC
-

Destructive Arson

PD 1613 (repealed Arts. 321 to 326-B ofthe RPC)


-

Simple Arson

contemplates the malicious burning of structures, both


public and private, hotels, buildings, edifices, trains,
vessels, aircraft, factoriesand other military, government
or commercial establishments by any person or group of
persons

contemplates the malicious burning of public and private


structures, regardless of size, not included in Art. 320, as
amended by RA 7659, and classified asother cases of
arson. Include: houses, dwellings, government buildings,
farms, mills, plantations, railways, bus stations, airports,
wharves and other industrial establishments

Penalty: reclusion perpetuato death

Prision Mayor, for other cases of arson: Reclusion


Temporal to Reclusion Perpetua, also: please take note of
Sections 4 and 5 of P.D. 1613

The reason for the law: to effectively discourage and


deter the commission of this dastardly crime, to prevent
the destruction of properties and protect the lives of
innocent people.
Acts committed are characterized asheinouscrimes.
(with the repeal of the Death Penalty Law onJune 24,
2006, arson is no longer a capital offense)

Reason: the need to lessen the severity of punishment


commensurate to the act or acts committed, depending
on the particular facts and circumstances of each case
PD 1613 tempers the penalty to be meted to offenders

People vs. Soriano,

G.R. No. 142565. July 29, 2003


Trial Court

Accused Soriano was convicted


ofDestructive Arsonpenalized under Art. 320
of the Revised Penal Code,as amended by
RA 7659, and sentenced toreclusion
perpetua.

where the burning affects one (1) or more


buildings or edifices, consequent to one
single act of burning, or as a result of
simultaneous burnings, or committed on
several or different occasions.

Supreme Court

Applicable law: Sec. 3, par. 2, of P.D.


1613,forother cases of arsonas the
properties burned by accused-appellant are
specifically described ashouses,
contemplatinginhabited housesor
dwellingsunder the aforesaid law.

The descriptions as alleged in the


secondAmended Informationrefer to the
structures ashousesrather than as
buildings or edifices. Penalty is reclusion
temporaltoreclusion perpetua.

People vs. Soriano,

G.R. No. 142565. July 29, 2003

ELEMENTS:
(a) there is
intentional burning;
and (b) what is
intentionally burned
is an inhabited
house or dwelling.

There exists a
mitigating
circumstance
similar and
analogous to
passion and
obfuscation

Soriano is guilty
of other cases
of arson under
Sec. 3, par. 2, of
P.D. 1613

Section 4: (3)
Offender is
motivated by spite
or hatred towards
the owner or
occupant of the
property burned

People vs. Soriano,

G.R. No. 142565. July 29, 2003


Mr. Justice Adam C. Carson, in his concurring
opinion inUnited States v. Butardo, gives his
view on the graduation of penalties for the
crime ofArsonunder the Spanish Penal Code
(old law on whichThe Revised Penal Codeis
based)

First. The extreme danger to which


human lives may be exposed by the
malicious burning of dwelling houses and
the like;

The exceptional severity standard


Second. The danger to property resulting
from widespread conflagrations;

The authors of the Penal


Code
appear
to
have
endeavored to graduate
these
penalties
in
accordance
with
the
degree of danger to life
and
property,
resulting
from the commission of the
crime.

Third. The fact that it is extremely


difficult to adopt precautions against the
commission of the crime, and to discover
the perpetrators after its commission.

People vs. Soriano,

G.R. No. 142565. July 29, 2003

In a concurring opinion, this time inU.S. v. Burns, Mr. Justice Ignacio


Villamor explains:
In the classification of the crime
attention must be given to the
intention of the author. When fire is
used with the intent to kill a determined
person who may be in a shelter, and
that object is secured, the crime
committed is not that defined herein,
but that of murder, penalized in article
418 (Art. 403 of the Penal Code of the
Philippines), with the penalty of cadena
temporal in its maximum degree to
death (Groizard, Vol. 8, p. 45).

Buebos vs. People,

G.R. No. 163938. March 28, 2008


The law on arson has always been a constant source of confusion not only among
members of the bar, but also among those of the bench.The bewilderment often centers on
what law to apply and what penalty to impose.

Buebos vs. People,

G.R. No. 163938. March 28, 2008

On complaint of Adelina, petitioners Dante and Sarmelito Buebos,


together with Rolando Buela and Antonio Cornel, Jr., were indicted for
arson in an Information bearing the following accusations:
That on or about the 1st day of January, 1994 at 3:00 oclock in
theBarangayHacienda, Island of San Miguel, Municipality of Tabaco,
Province of Albay, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this
honorable court, the above-named accused, conspiring,
confederating and helping one another, with intent to cause damage,
did then and there wilfully, unlawfully, feloniously and maliciously set
on fire the nipa roof of the house of Adelina b. Borbe, to the
latters damage and prejudice.

Buebos vs. People,

G.R. No. 163938. March 28, 2008


According to the Court of Appeals the information failed to allege with
specificity the actual crime committed.Hence, the accused should be
found liable only for arson in its simple form.

Simple Arson

Other cases of Arson


(i.e. Burning of an
Inhabited House)

Buebos vs. People,

G.R. No. 163938. March 28, 2008

Issues

CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE
CONSPIRACY
CRIME COMMITTED AND THE
PENALTY

CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE
1.Private complainant heard some
noise emanating from outside her
house at around3:00 a.m.;

2.When she went out to check the


disturbance, private 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.

evidence that indirectly


proves a fact in issue
through an inference
which the fact-finder
draws from the evidence
established

essential when the lack


of direct testimony
would result in setting a
felon free

there is more than one


circumstance

the facts from which the


inferences are derived have
been proven

the combination of all the


circumstances results in a
moral certainty that the
accused is guilty

CONSPIRACY
The accused stood
outside the house of
Adelina.

They were part of the


group making
boisterous noise in
the vicinity.

They fled together


while the roof of
Adelinas house was
ablaze.

These acts clearly


show their joint
purpose and design,
and community of
interest.

The manner by which


they behaved after
the private
complainant shouted
for help

Buebos vs. People,

G.R. No. 163938. March 28, 2008

CRIME COMMITTED AND THE PENALTY

RTC:

Other
cases
of
Arson

SC:
Simpl
e
Arson

CA:

Simpl
e
Arson

Buebos vs. People,

G.R. No. 163938. March 28, 2008

The information failed to allege that what was intentionally burned was an
inhabited house or dwelling.That is fatal.

Sections 8 and 9 of the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure - the information or


complaint must state the designation of the offense given by the statute and
specify its qualifying and generic aggravating circumstances.Otherwise
stated, the accused will not be convicted of the offense proved during the
trial if it was not properly alleged in the information

Petitioners can be convicted only of simple arson, under Section 1, paragraph


1 of P.D. No. 1613, punishable byprision mayor. No aggravating or mitigating
circumstance attended the commission of the offense, the penalty should be
imposed in its medium period.