DAEL CHURCHILL T. GERONG – Criminal Law Review (Digested Cases) VILLAREAL vs. PEOPLE FACTS: Seven Freshmen Law students of Ateneo have been initiated by the Aquila Legis Juris Fraternity on Feb. 1991. The initiation rites started when the neophytes were met by some members of the mentioned fraternity at the lobby of the Ateneo Law School. They were consequently brought to a house and briefed on what will be happening during the days when they will be initiated. They were informed that there will be physical beatings and that the neophytes can quit anytime they want. They were brought to another house to commence their initiation. The neophytes were insulted and threatened even before they got off the van. Members of the fraternity delivered blows to the neophytes as they alighted from the van. Several initiation rites were experienced by the neophytes like the Indian run, Bicol express and rounds. They were asked to recite provisions and principles of the fraternity and were hit everytime they made a mistake. Accused fraternity members, Dizon and Villareal, asked the head of the initiation rites to reopen the initiation. Fraternity members subjected neophytes to paddling and additional hours of physical pain. After the last session of beatings, Lenny Villa could not walk. Later that night, he was feeling cold and his condition worsened. He was brought to the hospital but was declared dead on arrival. Criminal cases were filed against 26 fraternity members and subsequently found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of homicide. On January 2002, CA modified the criminal liability of each of the accused according to individual participation. 19 of the accused were acquitted, 4 of the appellants were found guilty of slight physical injuries, and 2 of the accused-ap accused-appell pellants ants (Dizon and Villareal) Villareal) were found guilty beyond reasonable reasonable doubt of the crime crime of homicide. ISSUES: 1. Whether Whether or not the CA committe committed d grave abuse of discreti discretion on when it set aside aside the finding finding of conspiracy conspiracy by the trial court and adjudicated the liability of each accused according to individual participation. 2. Whether Whether or not accused fratern fraternity ity members members are guilty guilty of reckless reckless imprudence imprudence resulting resulting to homicide. homicide. HELD: 1. YES. CA committed grave abuse of discretion when when it set aside the finding finding of conspiracy by the trial court and adjudicated the liability of each accused according to individual participation. According to the the trial court, although hazing was not not (at the time) time) punishable as a crime, crime, the intentional intentional infliction infliction of physical injuries on Villa was nonetheless a felonious act under Articles 263 to 266 of the RPC. Thus, the court a quo found that pursuant to Article 4(1) of the RPC, the accused fraternity members were guilty of homicide, as it was the direct, natural and logical consequence of the physical injuries they had intentionally inflicted. The CA modified the trial court’s finding of criminal liability. It ruled that there could have been no conspiracy since the neophytes, including Lenny Villa, had knowingly consented to the conduct of hazing during their initiation rites. The accused fraternity members, therefore, were liable only for the consequences o f their individual acts. Our Revised Penal Code belongs to the classical school of thought. The classical theory posits that a human person is essentially a moral creature with an absolute free will to choose between good and evil. The identity of mens rea – defined as a guilty guilty mind, a guilty or wrongful purpose or criminal criminal intent – is is the predominant consideration. consideration. Thus, it is not enough to do what the law prohibits. In order for an intentional felony to exist, it is necessary that the act be committed by means of dolo or "malice." The term "dolo" or "malice" is a complex idea involving the elements of freedom, intelligence, and intent. The first element, freedom, refers to an act done with deliberation and with power to choose between two things. The second element, intelligence, concerns the ability to determine the morality of human acts, as well as the capacity to distinguish between a licit and an illicit act. The last element, intent, involves an aim or a determination to do a certain act. The element of intent is described as the state of mind accompanying an act, especially a forbidden act. It refers to the purpose of the mind and the resolve with which a person proceeds. It does not refer to mere will, for the latter pertains to the act, while intent concerns the result of the act. While motive is the "moving power" that impels one to action for a definite result, intent is the "purpose" of using a particular means to produce the result. On the other hand, the term "felonious" means malicious, villainous, and/or proceeding from an evil heart or purpose. With these elements taken together, the requirement of intent in intentional felony must refer to malicious intent, which is a vicious and malevolent state of mind accompanying a forbidden act. Stated otherwise, intentional felony requires the existence of dolus malus – that the act or omission be done "willfully," "maliciously," "with deliberate evil intent," and "with malice aforethought." The maxim is actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea – a crime is not committed if the mind of the person performing the act complained of is innocent. As is required of the other elements of a felony, the existence of malicious intent must be proven beyond reasonable doubt. In turn, the existence of malicious intent is necessary in order for conspiracy to attach. Article 8 of the RPC – which provides that "conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it" – is to be interpreted to refer only to felonies committed by
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DAEL CHURCHILL T. GERONG – Criminal Law Review (Digested Cases) means of dolo or malice. The phrase "coming to an agreement" connotes the existence of a prefaced "intent" to cause injury to another, an element present only in intentional felonies. In culpable felonies or criminal negligence, the injury inflicted on another is unintentional, the wrong done being simply the result of an act performed without malice or criminal design. Here, a person performs an initial lawful deed; however, due to negligence, imprudence, lack of foresight, or lack of skill, the deed results in a wrongful act. Verily, a deliberate intent to do an unlawful act, which is a requisite in conspiracy, is inconsistent with the idea of a felony committed by means of culpa. The presence of an initial malicious intent intent to commit commit a felony felony is thus a vital ingredient ingredient in establish establishing ing the commissi commission on of the intention intentional al felony of homicide. homicide. Being mala in se, the felony of homicide requires the existence of malice or dolo immediately before or simultaneously with the infliction of injuries. Intent to kill – or animus interficendi – cannot and should not be inferred, unless there is proof beyond reasonable doubt of such intent. Furthermore, the victim’s death must not have been the product of accident, natural cause, or suicide. If death resulted from an act executed without malice or criminal intent – but with lack of foresight, carelessness, or negligence – the act must be qualified as reckless or simple negligence or imprudence resulting in homicide. We cannot subscribe to this conclusion. The appellate court relied mainly on the testimony of Marquez to determine the existence of animus interficendi. Witness Marquez’s testimony: Atty. Tadiar: During all these times that the van was being rocked through and through, what were the voices or utterances that you heard? Witness: "Villa akin ka," "Asuncion patay ka," "Recinto patay ka sa amin," etc., sir. Atty. Tadiar: Tadiar: During the time that that this rounds [of [of physical beating] beating] were being inflicted, inflicted, was there any any utterances by anybody? Witness: Yes sir. Some were piercing, some were discouraging, and some were encouraging others who were pounding and beating us, it was just like a fiesta atmosphere, actually some of them enjoyed looking us being pounded, sir. Atty. Tadiar: Tadiar: Were there any utterances utterances that you heard during the conduct of this Bicol Bicol Express? Witness: Yes, sir I heard utterances. Atty. Tadiar: Tadiar: Will you please recall to this Honorable Court what were the the utterances that you remember? Witness: Witness: For example, example, one person particularly particularly Boyet Dizon stepped on my thigh, he would say that and I quote "ito, "ito, yung pamilya nito ay pinapatay yung kapatid ko," so that would in turn sort of justifying him in inflicting more serious pain on me. So instead of just walking, he would jump on my thighs and then after on Lenny Villa. He was saying to the effect that "this guy, his father stole the parking space of my father," sir. So, that’s why he inflicted more pain on Villa and that went on, sir. Atty. Tadiar: Tadiar: And you were referring to which particular accused? Witness: Boyet Dizon, sir. Atty. Tadiar: Tadiar: When Boyet Dizon Dizon at that particular particular time was accusing accusing you of having your family have his brother killed, killed, what was your response? Witness: Of course, I knew sir that it was not true and that he was just making it up sir. So he said that I knew nothing of that incident. However, he just in fact after the Bicol Express, he kept on uttering those words/statements so that it would in turn justify him and to give me harder harder blows, sir. Atty. Tadiar: You mentioned about Dizon in particular mentioning that Lenny Villa’s father stole the parking space allotted for his father, do you recall who were within hearing distance when that utterance was made? Witness: Yes, sir. All of the neophytes heard that utterance, sir.
The testimony of Marquez reveals a glaring mistake of substantial proportion on the part of the CA – it mistook the utterances of Dizon for those of Villareal. Such inaccuracy cannot be tolerated, especially because it was the CA’s primary basis for finding that Villarreal had the intent to kill Lenny Villa, thereby making Villareal guilty of the intentional felony of homicide. To repeat, according to Marquez’s testimony it was Dizon who uttered both "accusations" against Villa and Marquez. Villareal had no participation participation whatsoever in the specific threats referred to by the CA. It was " Dizon who stepped on Marquez’s thigh"; and who told witness Marquez, "Ito, yung pamilya nito ay pinapatay yung kapatid ko." It was also Dizon who jumped on Villa’s thighs while saying, "This guy, his father stole the parking space of my father." With the testimony clarified, we find that the CA had no basis for concluding the existence of intent to kill based solely thereon. As to the existence of animus interficendi on the part of Dizon, we refer to the entire factual milieu and contextual premise of the incident to fully appreciate and understand the testimony of witness Marquez. The neophytes were briefed that they would be subjected to psychological pressure in order to scare them. They knew that they would be mocked, ridiculed, and intimidated. They heard fraternity members shout, "Patay ka, Recinto," "Villa, akin ka," "Asuncion, gulpi ka," "Putang ina mo, Asuncion," "Putang ina nyo, patay kayo sa amin," or some other words to that effect. While beating the neophytes, Dizon accused Marquez of the death of the former’s purported NPA brother, and then blamed Lenny Villa’s father for stealing the parking space of Dizon’s father. According to the Solicitor General, these statements, including those of the accused Dizon, were all part of the psychological initiation employed by the Aquila Fraternity. Thus, to our understanding, accused Dizon’s way of inflicting psychological pressure was through hurling make-believe accusations at the initiates. He concocted the fictitious stories, so that he could "justify" giving the neophytes harder blows, all in the context of fraternity initiation and role playing. Even one of the neophytes admitted that the accusations were untrue and made-up. The infliction of psychological pressure is not unusual in the conduct of hazing. Thus, without proof beyond reasonable doubt, Dizon’s behavior must not be automatically viewed as evidence of a genuine, evil motivation to kill Lenny Villa. Rather, it must be taken within the context of the fraternity’s psychological initiation. We cannot sustain the
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DAEL CHURCHILL T. GERONG – Criminal Law Review (Digested Cases) CA in finding the accused Dizon guilty of homicide on the basis of the existence of intent to kill. Animus interficendi cannot and should not be inferred unless there is proof beyond reasonable doubt of such intent. Instead, we adopt and reinstate the finding of the trial court in part, insofar as it ruled that none of the fraternity members had the specific intent to kill Lenny Villa. The Solicitor General General argues, instead, that there was intent intent to inflict physical injuries injuries on Lenny Villa. Solicitor General then posits that since all of the accused fraternity members conspired to inflict physical injuries on Lenny Villa and death ensued, all of them should be liable for the crime of homicide pursuant to Article 4(1) of the RPC. In order to be found guilty of any of the felonious acts under Articles 262 to 266 of the RPC, the employment of physical injuries must be coupled with dolus malus. As an act that is mala in se, the existence of malicious intent is fundamental, since injury arises from the mental state of the wrongdoer – iniuria ex affectu facientis consistat. If there is no criminal intent, the accused cannot be found guilty of an intentional felony. Thus, in case of physical injuries, there must be a specific malicious intention to do wrong against the physical integrity or well-being of a person, so as to incapacitate and deprive the victim of certain bodily functions. Without proof beyond reasonable doubt of the required animus iniuriandi, the overt act of inflicting physical injuries per se merely satisfies the elements of freedom and intelligence in an intentional felony. The commission of the act does not, in itself, make a man guilty unless his intentions are. Thus, we have ruled that the mere infliction of physical injuries, absent malicious intent, does not make a person automatically liable for an intentional felony. As to the collective acts of the group caused the death of the victim. Since malicious intent was not proven, we reversed the trial court’s finding of liability for murder under Art. 4 of the RPC and instead ruled that the accused should be held criminally liable for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide. Indeed, the threshold question is whether the accused’s initial acts of inflicting physical pain on the neophytes were attended by animus iniuriandi amounting to a felonious act, thereby making it subject to Article 4(1). In Pp vs. Regato, we ruled that malicious intent must be judged by the action, conduct, and external acts of the accused. What persons do is the best index of their intention. The method employed, the kind of weapon used, and the parts of the body on which the injury was inflicted may be determinative of the intent of the perpetrator. Lenny died during Aquila’s fraternity initiation rites. The night before the commencement of the rites, they were briefed on what to expect. Late in the afternoon, they were once again subjected to "traditional" initiation initiation rituals. When the rituals rituals were official officially ly reopened reopened on the insistence insistence of Dizon and Villarea Villareal, l, the neophytes were subjected to another another "traditional" ritual – paddling by the fraternity. During the whole initiation rites, auxiliaries were assigned to the neophytes. The auxiliaries protected the neophytes. It was their regular duty to stop foul or excessive physical blows; to help the neophytes neophytes to "pump" "pump" their their legs in order that their blood would circulate; circulate; to facilitat facilitate e a rest interval interval after after every physical activity or "round"; to serve food and water; to tell jokes; to coach the initiates; and to give them whatever they needed. These These ritua rituals ls were were perfor performed med with with Lenny’ Lenny’s s consen consent. t. A few days days before before the "rites," "rites," he asked asked both both his parent parents s for permission to join the Aquila Fraternity. His father knew that Lenny would go through an initiation process and would be gone for three days. Even after going through Aquila’s grueling traditional rituals during the first day, Lenny continued his participation and finished the second day of initiation. Based on the contextual background, and absent further proof showing clear malicious intent, we are constrained to rule that the specific animus iniuriandi was not present in this case. Even if the specific acts of punching, kicking, and paddling were done voluntarily, freely, and with intelligence, thereby satisfying the elements of freedom and intelligence in the felony of physical injuries, the fundamental ingredient of criminal intent was not proven beyond reasonable doubt. On the contrary, all that was proven was that the acts were done pursuant to tradition. All those who wished to join the fraternity went through the same process of "traditional" initiation; there is no proof that Lenny Villa was specifically targeted or given a different treatment. We stress that Congress itself recognized that hazing is uniquely different from common crimes. The totality of the circumstances must therefore be taken into consideration. The underlying context and motive in which the infliction of physical injuries was rooted may also be determined by Lenny’s continued participation in the initiation and consent to the method used even after the first day. The discussion of the framers of the 1995 Anti-Hazing Law is enlightening. Having in mind the potential conflict between the proposed law and the core principle of mala in se adhered to under the RPC, Congress did not simply enact an amendment thereto. thereto. Instead, Instead, it created created a special special law on hazing, hazing, founded upon the principle principle of mala prohibita. prohibita. This dilemma faced by Congress is further proof of how the nature of hazing – unique as against typical crimes – cast a cloud of doubt on whether society considered the act as an inherently wrong conduct or mala in se at the time. It is safe to presume that Lenny’s parents would not have consented to his participation in Aquila Fraternity’s initiation rites if the practice of hazing were considered by them as mala in se. Prior to the 1995 Anti-Hazing Law, there was a gap in the law; hazing was not clearly considered an intentional felony. And when there is doubt on the interpretation of criminal laws, all must be resolved in favor of the accused. In dubio pro reo. For the foregoing reasons, and as a matter of law, the Court is constrained to rule against the trial court’s finding of malicious intent to inflict physical injuries on Lenny Villa, there being no proof beyond reasonable doubt of the existence
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DAEL CHURCHILL T. GERONG – Criminal Law Review (Digested Cases) of malicious intent intent to inflict physical physical injuries injuries or animus animus iniuriandi iniuriandi as required required in mala in se cases, cases, considerin considering g the contextual background of his death, the unique nature of hazing, and absent a law prohibiting hazing. 2. YES. Accused fraternity fraternity members members are guilty of reckless imprudence imprudence resulting resulting in homicide. homicide. The absence of malicious intent does not automatically mean that the accused fraternity members are ultimately devoid of criminal liability. The RPC also punishes felonies that are committed by means of fault (culpa). According to Article 3 thereof, there is fault when the wrongful act results from imprudence, negligence, lack of foresight, or lack of skill. Reckless Reckless imprudence imprudence or negligence negligence consists consists of a voluntary voluntary act done without malice, malice, from which an immediat immediate e personal harm, injury or material damage results by reason of an inexcusable lack of precaution or a dvertence on the part of the person committing it. In this case, the danger is visible and consciously appreciated by the actor. In contrast, simple imprudence or negligence comprises an act done without grave fault, from which an injury or material damage ensues by reason of a mere lack of foresight or skill. Here, the threatened harm is not immediate, and the danger is not openly visible. The test for determining whether or not a person is negligent in doing an act is as follows: Would a prudent man in the position position of the person person to whom whom negli negligenc gence e is attri attribut buted ed forese foresee e harm harm to the person person injure injured d as a reason reasonabl able e consequence of the course about to be pursued? If so, the law imposes on the doer the duty to take precaution against the mischievous results of the act. Failure to do so constitutes negligence. In Gaid vs. Pp, for a person to avoid being charged with recklessness, the degree of precaution and diligence required varies with the degree of the danger involved. If, on account of a certain line of conduct, the danger of causing harm to another person is great, the individual who chooses to follow that particular course of conduct is bound to be very careful, in order to prevent or avoid damage or injury. In contrast, if the danger is minor, not much care is required. It is thus possible that there are countless degrees of precaution or diligence that may be required of an individual, "from a transitory glance of care to the most vigilant effort." The duty of the person to employ more or less degree of care will depend upon the circumstances of each particular case. The multiple hematomas or bruises found in Villa’s arms and thighs, resulting from repeated blows to those areas, caused the loss of blood from his vital organs and led to his eventual death. These hematomas must be taken in the light of the hazing hazing activitie activities s performed performed on him by the Aquila Fraternity. Fraternity. According According to the testimonies testimonies of the co-neophytes co-neophytes of Lenny, they were punched, kicked, kneed, stamped on; and hit with different objects on their arms, legs, and thighs. They were also "paddled" at the back of their thighs or legs; and slapped on their faces. They were made to play rough basketball. Witness Marquez testified on Lenny, saying: "Tinamaan daw sya sa spine." The NBI medico-legal officer explai explained ned that that the death death of the victim victim was was the cumulati cumulative ve effect effect of the multiple multiple injuri injuries es suffer suffered ed by the latte latter. r. Consequently, the collective acts of the fraternity members were tantamount to recklessness, which made the resulting death of Lenny a culpable felony. It must be remembered that organizations owe to their initiates a duty of care not to cause them injury in the process. With the foregoing facts, we rule that the accused are guilty of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide. Since the NBI medico-legal officer found that the victim’s death was the cumulative effect of the injuries suffered, criminal responsibility redounds to all those who directly participated in and contributed to the infliction of physical injuries.
MANUEL vs. PEOPLE FACTS: On Nov. 7, 2001, a complaint was was filed in the RTC. The following facts facts were presented: a. On Apr. 22, 1996, Eduardo P. Manuel, respondent, contracted a second marriage with Tina GandaleraManuel, complainant. It so appeared in the marriage contract contract that Manuel was “single”. “single”. b. Eduardo P. Manuel was previously legally married to Rubylus Gana without the said marriage having been legally dissolved before the second marriage. c. Tina Gandalera-Manuel did not know the existence of the first marriage of the respondent to Rubylus Gana. d. On July 28, 1975, Eduardo was married to Ruby. e. On January 1996, Eduardo met Tina in in Dagupan City. Afterwards, Eduardo Eduardo went to Baguio to visit her and he proposed assuring her that he was single. f. Starting 1999, Manuel started making himself scarce and went to their house only twice or thrice a year. g. Sometime Sometime in January 2001, Eduardo Eduardo took all his clothes, clothes, left, and did not return. return. He stopped stopped giving financial support. h. Sometime in August 2001, Tina learned that Eduardo had been previously married. i. Eduardo testified that he declared that he was single because he believed in good faith that his marriage was invalid. invalid. He said he did not know he had to go to the court to seek for nullific nullification ation of his first first marriage marriage before marrying Tina. Ruby was jailed and he had not heard from her for for more than 20 years. On July 2, 2002, RTC found Eduardo guilty beyond reasonable doubt of bigamy. Manuel appealed the decision to the CA. He insisted that conformably to Article Article 3 of the RPC, there must be malice for one to be criminally liable liable for a felony. He posited that the RTC should should have taken into account Article Article 390 of the New Civil Code.
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DAEL CHURCHILL T. GERONG – Criminal Law Review (Digested Cases) On June 18, 2004, the CA rendered judgment judgment affirming the decision of the RTC. RTC. It ruled that the prosecution prosecution was able to prove all the elements of bigamy. Contrary to the contention of the appellant, Article Article 41 of the Family Code should apply. ISSUE: 1. Whether or not Eduardo is guilty of Bigamy, a felony by dolo (deceit). HELD: YES. Art. 349. Bigamy. – The penalty of prision mayor shall be imposed upon any person who shall contract a second or subsequent marriage before the former marriage has been legally dissolved, or before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper proceedings. The reason why bigamy is considered a felony is to preserve and ensure the juridical tie of marriage established by law. Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code has made the dissolution of marriage dependent not only upon the personal belief of parties, but upon certain objective facts easily capable of accurate judicial cognizance, namely, a judgment of the presumptive death of the absent spouse. For the accused to be held h eld guilty of bigamy, the prosecution is burdened to prove the felony: (a) he/she has been legally married; and (b) he/she contracts a subsequent marriage without the former marriage having been lawfully dissolved. The felony is consummated on the celebration of the second marriage or subsequent marriage. Article 3, paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal Code provides that there is deceit when the act is performed with deliberate intent. Malice is a mental state or condition prompting the doing of an overt act without legal excuse or justification justification from which another suffers injury. injury. When the act or omission defined by law as a felony felony is proved to have been done or committed by the accused, the law presumes it to have been intentional. For one to be criminally liable for a felony by dolo, there must be a confluence of both an evil act and an evil intent. Actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea. As a general rule, mistake of fact or good faith of the accused is a valid defense in a prosecution for a felony by dolo; such defense negates malice or criminal intent. Exception is ignorance of the law is not an excuse because everyone is presumed to know the law. Ignorantia legis neminem excusat. Burden of the petitioner to prove his defense that when he married Tina he was of the well-grounded belief that his first wife was already dead, as he had not heard from her for more than 20 years since 1975. He failed to discharge his burden since there was no judicial declaration as proof of presumptive death based on Articles 390 and 391 of the Civil Code which states that before the spouse present may contract a subsequent marriage, he or she must institute summary proceedings for the declaration of the presumptive death of the absentee spouse, without prejudice to the effect of the reappearance of the absentee spouse.
PEOPLE vs. FORD GUTIERREZ y DIMAANO FACTS: While walking, one in the group cursed Gutierrez and shouted "tang ina mo!". Since he was the only passerby, Gutierrez stopped and looked at them, but two from the group approached him. He was suddenly boxed by Regis Ado, while Dalit was just beside Ado. When Gutierrez fell on the ground, Ado continuously beat him, then suddenly, a gun fell from Leo Regis. Gutierrez immediately got hold of it, and when Leo Regis was supposed to attack him again, Gutierrez kicked Leo which made him fall down. When Gutierrez stood up and saw Regis standing up, Gutierrez fired a shot at him. He continuously fired the gun, which was directed towards the ground so as to warn the others. RTC convicted Gutierrez of murder, frustrated murder and attempted murder. Hence this appeal. Appellant admits having killed Regis and wounding Dalit, but insists that he did so in self-defense. ISSUE: 1. Whether Whether or not the the act of Guiti Guitierrez errez was in in self-def self-defense. ense. 2. Whether Whether or not appellant appellant is guilty guilty of attempt attempted ed murder, murder, not of frustrat frustrated ed murder. murder. HELD: 1. Self-defense is an affirmative allegation and offers exculpation from liability for crimes only if satisfactorily proved. It requires (a) unlawful aggression on the part of the victim; (b) reasonable necessity of the means employed by the accused to repel it; and (c) lack of sufficient provocation on his part. One who admits killing or fatally injuring another in the name of self-defense bears the burden of proving: (1) unlawful aggression on the part of the victim; (2) reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel it; and
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DAEL CHURCHILL T. GERONG – Criminal Law Review (Digested Cases) (3) lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person claiming self-defense. By invoking self-defense, the burden is placed on the accused to prove its elements clearly and convincingly. While all three elements must concur, self-defense relies first and foremost on proof of unlawful aggression on the part of the victim. If no unlawful aggression is proved, no self-defense may be successfully pleaded. In this case, appellant appellant utterly failed to discharge discharge the burden burden of proving unlawful aggression. aggression. His version version of the events was uncorroborated, and his testimony was found to be less credible by the trial court. On the other hand, the surviving victims were unanimous that appellant suddenly fired at them, without any provocation on their part. The credibility of the prosecution witnesses had been weighed by the trial court, and it found their testimonies to be more convincing. As a rule, the appellate court gives full weight and respect to the determination by the trial court of the credibility of witnesses, since the trial judge has the best opportunity to observe their demeanor. Self-defense cannot be justifiably appreciated when uncorroborated by independent and competent evidence or when it is extremely doubtful by itself. Indeed, in invoking self-defense, the burden of evidence is shifted and the accused claiming self-defense must rely on the strength of his own evidence and not on the weakness of the prosecution. This Court also agrees with the trial court in appreciating treachery as a qualifying circumstance. The essence of treachery is the sudden and unexpected attack by the aggressor on unsuspecting victims, depriving the latter of any real chance to defend themselves, thereby ensuring its commission without risk to the aggressor, and without the slightest provocation on the part of the victims. Here, the attack was sudden, as testified to by the witnesses, and unexpected. Provocation on the part of the victims was not proven, and appellant’s testimony that the victims were about to attack him cannot be given credence. The victims had no inkling that an attack was forthcoming and had no opportunity to mount a defense. Thus, treachery was correctly appreciated as a circumstance to qualify the crime to murder. 2. We also affirm the ruling that appellant is guilty of attempted murder, not of frustrated murder, in Criminal Case No. 03-3640 for the injury sustained by Dalit. No convincing proof was offered to show that the wound inflicted on Dalit was fatal and would have caused his death had medical help not been provided. It is well settled that where the wounds inflicted on the victim are not sufficient to cause his death, the crime is only attempted murder, as the accused had not performed all the acts of execution that would have brought about the victim's death.
INTESTATE ESTATE OF MANOLITA GONZALES VDA. DE CARUNGCONG vs. PEOPLE FACTS: Carungcong, Carungcong, in her capacity as the duly appointed appointed administr administratri atrix x of petitione petitionerr intestate intestate estate of her deceased mother Manolita Gonzales vda. de Carungcong, filed a complaint-affidavit for estafa against her brother-in-law, William Sato, a Japanese national. Sato moved for the quashal of the Information, claiming that under Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code, his relationship to the person allegedly defrauded, the deceased Manolita who was his mother-in-law, was an exempting circumstance. Trial court granted Sato’s motion and ordered the dismissal of the criminal case. The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s order. Hence, this petition. ISSUES: 1. Whether or not the death of William’s wife and Manolita’s daughter, Zenaida, extinguished the relationship by affinity between William and Manolita. 2. Whether or not William should be exempt from criminal liability for reason of h is relationship to Manolita. HELD: 1. No. Relationship by affinity between the surviving spouse and the kindred of the deceased spouse continues even after the death of the deceased spouse, regardless of whether the marriage produced children or not. 2. No. The absolutory cause under Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code only applies to the felonies of theft, swindling and malicious mischief. Under the said provision, the State condones the criminal responsibility of the offender in cases of theft, swindling and malicious mischief. As an act of grace, the State waives its right to prosecute the offender for the said crimes but leaves the private offended party with the option to hold the offender civilly liable. However, the coverage of Article 332 is strictly limited to the felonies mentioned therein. The plain, categorical and unmistakable language of the provision shows that it applies exclusively to the simple crimes of theft, swindling and
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DAEL CHURCHILL T. GERONG – Criminal Law Review (Digested Cases) malicious mischief. It does not apply where any of the crimes mentioned under Article 332 is complexed with another crime, such as theft through falsification or estafa through falsification. Under Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code, the State waives its right to hold the offender criminally liable for the simple crimes of theft, swindling and malicious mischief and considers the violation of the juridical right to property committed by the offender against certain family members as a private matter and therefore subject only to civil liability. The waiver does not apply when the violation of the right to property is achieved through (and therefore inseparably intertwined with) a breach of the public interest in the integrity and presumed authenticity of public documents. For, in the latter instance, what is involved is no longer simply the property right of a family relation but a paramount public interest.
AMANQUITON vs. PEOPLE FACTS: Petitioner Julius Amanquiton was a purok leader. As a purok leader and barangay tanod, he was responsible for the maintenance of cleanliness, peace and order of the community. At 10:45 p.m. on Oct. 30, 2001, petitioner heard an explosion. He, together with two auxiliary tanod, Dominador Amante and a certain Cabisudo, proceeded to Sambong Street where the explosion took place. Thereafter, they saw complainant Bañaga being chased by Gepulane. Upon learning that Bañaga was the one who threw the pillbox that caused the explosion, petitioner and his companions also went after him. On reaching Bañaga’s house, petitioner, Cabisudo and Amante knocked on the door. When no one answered, they decided to hide some distance away. After five minutes, Bañaga came out of the house. At this juncture, petitioner and his companions immediately apprehended him. Bañaga was later brought to the police station. On the way to the police station, Gepulane suddenly appeared from nowhere and boxed Bañaga in the face. This caused petitioner to order Gepulane’s apprehension along with Bañaga. During the investigation, petitioner learned Bañaga had been previously mauled by a group made up of a certain Raul, Boyet and Cris but failed to identify two others. The mauling was the result of gang trouble in a certain residental compound in Taguig City. Thereafter, an Information for the crime of child abuse was filed against petitioner, Amante and Gepulane. RTC found petitioner and Amante guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged. Hence, this petition. ISSUE: Whether or not petitioner is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. HELD: The Constitution itself provides that in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved. An accused is entitled to an acquittal unless his guilt is shown beyond reasonable doubt. It is the primordial duty of the prosecution to present its side with clarity and persuasion, so that conviction becomes the only logical and inevitable conclusion, with moral certainty. Proof beyond reasonable doubt lies in the fact that in a criminal prosecution, the State is arrayed against the subject; it enters the contest with a prior inculpatory finding in its hands; with unlimited means of command; with counsel usually of authority and capacity, who are regarded as public officers, as therefore as speaking semi-judicially, and with an attitude of tranquil majesty often in striking contrast to that of defendant engaged in a perturbed and distracting struggle for liberty if not for life. These inequalities of position, the law strives to meet by the rule that there is to be no conviction where there is reasonable doubt of guilt. However, proof beyond reasonable doubt requires only moral certainty or that degree of proof which produces conviction in an unprejudiced mind. The RTC and CA hinged their finding of petitioner’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of child abuse solely on the supposed positive identification by the complainant and his witness Alimpuyo of petitioner and his coaccused as the perpetrators of the crime. We note Bañaga’s statement that, when he was apprehended by petitioner, there were many people around. Yet, the prosecution presented only Bañaga and Alimpuyo, as witnesses to the mauling incident. Furthermore, Bañaga failed to controvert controvert the validity of the barangay blotter he signed signed regarding regarding the mauling mauling incident which happened prior to his apprehension by petitioner. Neither did he ever deny the allegation that he figured in a prior battery by gang members. All this raises serious doubt on whether Bañaga’s injuries were really inflicted by petitioner to the exclusion of other people. In fact, petitioner testified clearly that Gepulane came out of nowhere and punched Bañaga while the latter was being brought to the police station. Gepulane, not petitioner, could very well have caused Bañaga's injuries.
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DAEL CHURCHILL T. GERONG – Criminal Law Review (Digested Cases) Alimpuyo admitted admitted that she did not see who actually actually caused the bloodied condition condition of Bañaga’s face because she had to first put down the baby she was then carrying when the melee started. More importantly, Alimpuyo stated that she was told by Bañaga that, while he was allegedly being held by the neck by petitioner, others were hitting him. Alimpuyo was obviously testifying not on what she personally saw but on what Bañaga told her. We apply the pro reo principle principle and the equipoise rule rule in this case. Where Where the evidence evidence on an issue of fact is in question or there is doubt on which side the evidence weighs, the doubt should be resolved in favor of the accused. If inculpatory facts and circumstances are capable of two or more explanations, one consistent with the innocence of the accused and the other consistent with his guilt, then the evidence does not fulfill the test of moral certainty and will not justify a conviction. conviction. We emphasize that the great goal of our criminal law and procedure is not to send people to jail but to do justice. The prosecution’s job is to prove that the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Conviction must be based on the strength of the prosecution and not on the weakness of the defense. Thus, when the evidence of the prosecution is not enough to sustain a conviction, it must be rejected and the accused absolved and released at once.
PEOPLE vs. ROLANDO LAYLO FACTS: PO1 Reyes and PO1 Pastor, both wearing civilian clothes, were conducting anti-drug surveillance operations. While While the police officers officers were in front front of a sari-sari sari-sari store at around 5:40 p.m., p.m., Laylo and his live-in partner, partner, Ritwal, approached them and asked, "Gusto mong umiskor ng shabu?" PO1 Reyes replied, "Bakit mayroon ka ba?" Laylo then brought out two plastic bags containing shabu and told the police officers, "Dos (P200.00) ang isa." Upon hearing this, the police officers introduced themselves as cops. PO1 Reyes immediately arrested Laylo. Ritwal, on the other, tried to get away but PO1 Pastor caught up with her. PO1 Pastor then frisked Ritwal and found another sachet of shabu in a SIM card case which Ritwal was carrying. PO1 Reyes and PO1 Pastor marked the three plastic sachets of shabu recovered from Laylo and Ritwal and forwarded them to the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory for forensic testing. Forensic Chemist Police Inspector Manaog conducted the laboratory examination on the specimens submitted and found the recovered items positive for methylamphetamine methylamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, a dangerous drug. The police officers charged Laylo for attempted sale of illegal drugs and used the two plastic sachets containing shabu as basis while Ritwal was charged for possession of illegal drugs using as basis the third sachet containing 0.02 grams of shabu. RTC found Laylo of Attempted Sale of Dangerous Drugs and Ritwal guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegally possessing shabu. CA affirmed. Hence, this appeal. ISSUE: Whether or not Laylo is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. HELD: The appeal lacks merit. The elements necessary for the prosecution of illegal sale of drugs are: (1) the identity of the buyer and seller, the object, and the consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment. Section 26(b), Article II of RA 9165 provides: “Any attempt or conspiracy to commit the following unlawful acts shall be penalized by the same penalty prescribed for the commission of the same as provided under this Act: (b) Sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of any dangerous drug and/or controlled precursor and essential chemical.” Here, appellant intended to sell shabu and commenced by overt acts the commission of the intended crime by showi showing ng the substa substance nce to PO1 PO1 Reyes Reyes and PO1 PO1 Pasto Pastor. r. The The sale sale was aborted aborted when when the police police offic officers ers identi identifie fied d themselves and placed appellant and Ritwal under arrest. From the testimonies of the witnesses, the prosecution was able to establish that there was an attempt to sell shabu. In addition, the plastic sachets were presented in court as evidence of corpus delicti. Thus, the elements of the crime charged were sufficiently established by evidence. Appellant claims that he was a victim of a frame up. However, he failed to substantiate his claim. The witnesses presented by the defense were not able to positively affirm that illegal drugs were planted on appellant by the police officers when they testified that "they saw someone place something inside appellant’s jacket." In Quinicot v. People, we held that allegations of frame-up and extortion by police officers are common and standard defenses in most dangerous drugs cases. They are viewed by the Court with disfavor, for such defenses can easily be concocted and fabricated. Further, appellant did not attribute any ill-motive on the part of the police officers. The presumption of regularity in the performance of the police officers’ official duties should prevail over the self-serving denial of appellant.
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DAEL CHURCHILL T. GERONG – Criminal Law Review (Digested Cases)
FERNAN & TORREVILLAS vs. PEOPLE FACTS: Petitioners are co-conspirators of the other accused, headed by Chief Accountant Mangubat, who were similarly convicted of multiple instances of estafa through falsification of public documents. ISSUE: Whether or not petitioners acted in conspiracy with one another. HELD: Yes, petitioners acted in conspiracy with one another. Petitioners vigorously claim error on the part of the lower court when it made the finding that they were coconspirators with the other parties accused despite the dearth of evidence to a mply demonstrate complicity. We are not convinced by petitioners’ postulation. Indeed, the burden of proving the allegation of conspiracy falls to the shoulders of the prosecution. Considering, however, the difficulty in establishing the existence of conspiracy, settled jurisprudence finds finds no need to prove it by direct evidence. evidence. In Estrada Estrada vs. Sandiganbayan, Sandiganbayan, the Court categorized categorized 2 structures structures of multiple multiple conspiracies conspiracies,, namely: namely: (1) the socalled “wheel” or “circle” conspiracy, in which there is a single person or group (the “hub”) dealing individually with two or more other persons or groups (the spokes”); and (2) the “chain” conspiracy, usually involving the distribution of narcotics or other contraband, in which there is successive communication and cooperation in much the same way as with legitimate business operations between manufacturer and wholesaler, then wholesaler and retailer, and then retailer and consumer. The conspiracy in the instant cases resembles the “wheel” conspiracy. The 36 disparate persons who constituted the massive conspiracy to defraud the gov’t were controlled by a single hub, namely: Mangubat (chief accountant), Preag Preagido ido (accou (accounta ntant) nt),, Sayson Sayson (budge (budgett exami examiner ner)) and Cruz Cruz (clerk (clerk), ), who contro controlle lled d the separa separate te “spoke “spokes” s” of the conspiracy. Petitioners were among the many spokes of the wheel. It is clear that without the fake tally sheets and delivery receipts signed by petitioners, the general voucher cannot be prepared and completed. Without the general voucher, the check for the payment of the supply cannot be made and issued to the supplier. Without the check payment, the defraudation cannot be committed and successfully consummated. Thus, petitioners’ acts in signing the false tally sheets and/or delivery receipts are indispensable to the consummation of the crime of Estafa thru Falsification of Public Documents.
LONEY vs. PEOPLE FACTS: Marcopper Mining Corp. had been storing mine tailings or wastes from its operations in a pit in Mt. Tapian, Marinduque. At the base of the pit ran a drainage tunnel leading to the Boac and Makulapnit rivers. The tailings gushed out of the tunnel and tons of tailings were discharged into the Boac and Makulapnit rivers. Marcopper was charged before the MTC, Boac of the following cases: Violation of the Water Code of the Philippines, PD 1067; Violation of the National Pollution Control Decree of 1976, PD 984; Violation of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, RA 7942; and Article 365, RPC for Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Damage to Property. Marcopper contended that they should be charged with one offense only – Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Damage to Property – because all the charges filed against them proceeded from and are based on a single act or incident of polluting the Boac and Makulapnit rivers, and the charge for Reckless Imprudence absorbs the other charges. ISSUE: Whether or not crimes mala in se are absorbed in crimes mala prohibita. HELD: No. crimes mala in se are not absorbed in crimes mala prohibita. On the petitioner’s claim that the charge for violation of Art. 365, RPC absorbs the charges for violation of PD 1067, PD 984 and RA 7042, suffice it to say that a mala in se felony cannot absorb mala prohibita crimes. What makes the former a felony is criminal intent (dolo) or negligence (culpa); what make the latter crimes are the special laws enacting enacting them. Likewise, Likewise, double jeopardy jeopardy does not lie because because in each of the laws in which which petitioner petitioners s were charged, charged, there is one essential element not required of the others.
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DAEL CHURCHILL T. GERONG – Criminal Law Review (Digested Cases) In the Water Code of the Philippines (PD 1067), the additional element to be established is the dumping of mine tailings into the rivers without prior permit from the authorities concerned. The gravamen of the offense is the absence of the proper permit to dump said mine tailings. In the Anti-Pollution law (PD 984), the additional fact that must be proved is the existence of actual pollution. The gravamen is the pollution itself. In the Philippine Mining Act (RA 7942), the additional fact that must be established is the willful violation and gross neglect on the part of the accused to abide by the terms and conditions of the Environmental Compliance Certificate, particularly that Marcopper ensure the containment of run-off and silt materials from reaching the Mogpog and Boac rivers. If Marcopper could show that they had done everything to ensure containment of the run-off and silt materials, they will not be liable. On the other hand, the additional element that must be established in Article 365 of the RPC is the lack of necessary or adequate precaution, negligence, recklessness and imprudence on the part of the accused to prevent damage to property. This element is not required in the above-stated laws.