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ALFREDO DE GUZMAN, JR., Petitioner, vs.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,


Respondent.
G.R. No. 178512 November 26, 2014

the second wound was fatal and could have caused Alexanders death without timely
medical intervention. (Tsn, July 8, 1998, p.8).

DOCTRINE: Frustrated homicide requires intent to kill on the part of the offender.
Without proof of such intent, the felony may only be serious physical injuries. Intent to
kill may be established through the overt and external acts and conduct of the offender
before, during and after the assault, or by the nature, location and number of the
wounds inflicted on the victim.

On the other hand, Alfredo denied having stabbed Alexander. According to him, on
December 25,1997 at around midnight, he passed by Alexander who was, then, fixing a
motorcycle. At that point, he accidentally hit Alexanders back, causing the latter to throw
invective words against him. He felt insulted, thus, a fistfight ensued between them.
They even rolled on the ground. Alfredo hit Alexander on the cheek causing blood to
ooze from the latters face.

FACTS:

The RTC convicted the petitioner, decreeing thusly:

Alexander Flojo (hereafter "Alexander") was fetching water below his rented house when
suddenly Alfredo De Guzman (hereafter "Alfredo"), the brother of his land lady, Lucila
Bautista (hereafter "Lucila"), hit him on the nape. Alexander informed Lucila about what
Alfredo did to him. Lucila apologized to Alexander by saying, "Pasensya ka na Mang
Alex" and told the latter to just go up. Alexander obliged and went upstairs. He took a
rest for about two hours. Thereafter, at around 12:00 to 12:15 A.M., Alexander went
down and continued to fetch water. While pouring water into a container, Alfredo
suddenly appeared in front of Alexander and stabbed him on his left face and chest.

PRESCINDING (sic) FROM THE FOREGOING

Cirilino Bantaya, a son-in-law of Alexander, saw the latter bleeding on the left portion of
his body and begging for help. Alexander then told Cirilino that Alfredo stabbed him.
Cirilino immediately loaded Alexander into his motorcycle (backride) and brought him to
the Mandaluyong City Medical Center. Upon arrival at the hospital, the doctors
immediately rendered medical assistance to Alexander. Alexander stayed in the
emergency room of said hospital for about 30 to 40 minutes. Then, he was brought to
the second floor of the said hospital where he was confined for two days. Thereafter,
Alexander was transferred to the Polymedic General Hospital where he was subjected
for (sic) further medical examination.
Alexander sustained two stabbed (sic) wounds. (sic) One of which was on the zygoma,
left side, and aboutone (1) cm. long. The other is on his upper left chest which
penetrated the fourth intercostal space at the proximal clavicular line measuring about
two (2) cm. The second stabbed (sic) wound penetrated the thoracic wall and left lung of
the victim which resulted to blood air (sic) in the thoracic cavity thus necessitating the
insertion of a thoracostomy tube toremove the blood. According to Dr. Francisco
Obmerga, the physician who treated the victim at the Mandaluyong City Medical Center,

CONSIDERATIONS, the court finds accused Alfredo De Guzman y Agkis a.k.a.,


"JUNIOR," guilty beyond reasonable doubt for (sic) the crime of FRUSTRATED
HOMICIDE defined and penalized in Article 250 of the Revised Penal Code and in the
absence of any modifying circumstance, he is hereby sentenced to suffer the
indeterminate penalty of Six (6) Months and One (1) day of PRISION
CORR[R]ECCIONAL as MINIMUM to Six (6) Years and One (1) day of PRISION
MAYOR as MAXIMUM.
The accused is further ordered topay the private complainant compensatory damages in
the amount of P14,170.35 representing the actual pecuniary loss suffered by him as he
has duly proven.
SO ORDERED.4
On appeal, the petitioner contended that his guilt had not been proved beyond
reasonable doubt; that intent to kill, the critical element of the crime charged, was not
established; that the injuries sustained by Alexander were mere scuffmarks inflicted in
the heatof anger during the fist fight between them; that he did not inflict the
stabwounds, insisting that another person could have inflicted such wounds; and that he
had caused only slight physical injuries on Alexander, for which he should be
accordingly found guilty.
Nonetheless, the CA affirmedthe petitioners conviction, viz:

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WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is DISMISSED. The September


10, 2003 Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Mandaluyong City, Branch 213, is
hereby AFFIRMED in toto.
SO ORDERED.5
The CA denied the petitioners motion for reconsideration on May 2, 2007.6
Issue
Was the petitioner properly found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of frustrated
homicide?
Ruling

which is presumed from the commission of a felony by dolo.8 Intent to kill, being a state
of mind, is discerned by the courts only through external manifestations, i.e., the acts
and conduct of the accused at the time of the assault and immediately thereafter. In
Rivera v. People,9 we considered the following factors to determine the presence of
intent to kill, namely: (1) the means used by the malefactors; (2) the nature, location,
and number of wounds sustained by the victim; (3) the conduct of the malefactors
before, during, or immediately after the killing of the victim; and (4) the circumstances
under which the crime was committed and the motives of the accused. We have also
considered as determinative factors the motive of the offender and the words he uttered
at the time of inflicting the injuries on the victim.10
Here, both the trial and the appellate court agreed that intent to kill was present. We
concur with them. Contrary to the petitioners submission, the wounds sustained by
Alexander were not mere scuffmarks inflicted in the heat of anger or as the result ofa
fistfight between them. The petitioner

The appeal lacks merit.


The elements of frustrated homicide are: (1) the accused intended to kill his victim, as
manifested by his use of a deadly weapon in his assault; (2) the victim sustained fatal or
mortal wound but did not die because of timely medical assistance; and (3) noneof the
qualifying circumstances for murder under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as
amended, is present.7 Inasmuch as the trial and appellate courts found none of the
qualifying circumstances in murder under Article 248 to be present, we immediately
proceed to ascertain the presence of the two other elements.
The petitioner adamantly denies that intent to kill was present during the fistfight
between him and Alexander.1wphi1 He claims that the heightened emotions during the
fistfight naturally emboldened both of them, but he maintains that he only inflicted minor
abrasions on Alexander, not the stab wounds that he appeared to have sustained.
Hence, he should be held liable only for serious physical injuries because the intent to
kill, the necessary element to characterize the crime as homicide, was not sufficiently
established. He avers that such intentto kill is the main element that distinguishes the
crime of physical injuries from the crime of homicide; and that the crime is homicide only
if the intent to kill is competently shown.
The essential element in frustrated or attempted homicide is the intent of the offender to
kill the victim immediately before or simultaneously with the infliction of injuries. Intent to
kill is a specific intent that the State must allege in the information, and then prove by
either direct or circumstantial evidence, as differentiated from a general criminal intent,

wielded and used a knife in his assault on Alexander. The medical records indicate,
indeed, that Alexander sustained two stab wounds, specifically, one on his upper left
chest and the other on the left side of his face. The petitioners attack was unprovoked
with the knife used therein causing such wounds, thereby belying his submission, and
firmly proving the presence of intent to kill. There is also to beno doubt about the wound
on Alexanders chest being sufficient to result into his death were it not for the timely
medical intervention.
With the State having thereby shown that the petitioner already performed all the acts of
execution that should produce the felony of homicide as a consequence, but did not
produce it by reason of causes independent of his will, i.e., the timely medical attention
accorded to Alexander, he was properly found guilty of frustrated homicide.
We have no cogent reason to deviate from or to disregard the findings of the trial and
appellate courts on the credibility of Alexanders testimony. It is not disputed that the
testimony of a single but credible and trustworthy witness sufficed to support the
conviction of the petitioner. This guideline finds more compelling application when the
lone witness is the victim himself whose direct and positive identification of his assailant
is almost always regarded with indubitable credibility, owing to the natural tendency of
the victim to seek justice for himself, and thus strive to remember the face of his
assailant and to recall the manner in which the latter committed the crime.11 Moreover,
it is significant that the petitioners mere denial of the deadly manner of his attack was

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contradicted by the credible physical evidence corroborating Alexanders statements.


Under the circumstances, we can only affirm the petitioners conviction for frustrated
homicide. The affirmance of the conviction notwithstanding, we find the indeterminate
penalty of "Six (6) Months and One (1) day of PRISION CORR[R]ECCIONAL as
MINIMUM to Six (6) Years and One (1) day of PRISION MAYOR as MAXIMUM"12 fixed
by the RTC erroneous despite the CA concurring with the trial court thereon. Under
Section 1 of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, an indeterminate sentence is imposed on
the offender consisting of a maximum term and a minimum term.13 The maximum term
is the penaltyproperly imposed under the Revised Penal
Code after considering any attending modifying circumstances; while the minimum term
is within the range of the penalty next lower than that prescribed by the Revised Penal
Codefor the offense committed. Conformably with Article 50 of the Revised Penal
Code,14 frustrated homicide is punished by prision mayor, which is next lower to
reclusion temporal, the penalty for homicide under Article 249 of the Revised Penal
Code. There being no aggravating or mitigating circumstances present, however, prision
mayorin its medium period from eight years and one day to 10 years is proper. As
can be seen, the maximum of six years and one day of prision mayor as fixed by the
RTC and affirmed by the CA was not within the medium period of prision mayor.
Accordingly, the correct indeterminate sentence is four years of prision correccional, as
the minimum, to eight years and one day of prision mayor, as the maximum.
The RTC and the CA also agreed on limiting the civil liability to the sum of P14,170.35
as compensatory damages "representing the actual pecuniary loss suffered by
[Alexander] as he has duly proven."15 We need to revise such civil liability in order to
conform to the law, the Rules of Court and relevant jurisprudence. In Bacolod v.
People,16 we emphatically declared to be "imperative that the courts prescribe the
proper penalties when convicting the accused, and determine the civil liability to be
imposed on the accused, unless there has been a reservation of the action to recover
civil liability or a waiver of its recovery." We explained why in the following manner:
It is not amiss to stress that both the RTC and the CA disregarded their express
mandate under Section 2, Rule 120 of the Rules of Courtto have the judgment, if it was
of conviction, state: "(1) the legal qualification of the offense constituted by the acts
committed by the accused and the aggravating or mitigating circumstances which
attended its commission; (2) the participation of the accused in the offense, whether as
principal, accomplice, or accessory after the fact; (3) the penalty imposed upon the
accused; and (4) the civil liability or damages caused by his wrongful act or omission to

be recovered from the accused by the offended party, if there is any, unless the
enforcement of the civil liability by a separate civil action has been reserved or waived."
Their disregard compels us to actas we now do lest the Court be unreasonably seen as
tolerant of their omission. That the Spouses Cogtas did not themselves seek the
correction of the omission by an appeal is no hindrance to this action because the
Court, as the final reviewing tribunal, has not only the authority but also the duty to
correct at any time a matter of law and justice.
We also pointedly remind all trial and appellate courts to avoid omitting reliefs that the
parties are properly entitled to by law or in equity under the established facts. Their
judgments will not be worthy of the name unless they thereby fully determine the rights
and obligations of the litigants. It cannot be otherwise, for only by a full determination of
such rights and obligations would they be true to the judicial office of administering
justice and equity for all. Courts should then be alert and cautious in their rendition of
judgments of conviction in criminal cases. They should prescribe the legal penalties,
which is what the Constitution and the law require and expect them to do. Their
prescription of the wrong penalties will be invalid and ineffectual for being done without
jurisdiction or in manifest grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction.
They should also determine and set the civil liability ex delicto of the accused, in order to
do justice to the complaining victims who are always entitled to them. The Rules of
Court mandates them to do so unless the enforcement of the civil liability by separate
actions has been reserved or waived.17
Alexander as the victim in frustrated homicide suffered moral injuries because the
offender committed violence that nearly took away the victims life. "Moral damages
include physical suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched
reputation, wounded feelings, moral shock, social humiliation, and similar injury. Though
incapable of pecuniary computation, moral damages may be recovered if they are the
proximate result of the defendant's wrongful act for omission."18 Indeed, Article 2219,
(1), of the Civil Code expressly recognizes the right of the victim in crimes resulting in
physical injuries.19 Towards that end, the Court, upon its appreciation of the records,
decrees that P30,000.00 is a reasonable award of moral damages.20 In addition, AAA
was entitled to recover civil indemnity of P30,000.00.21 Both of these awards did not
require allegation and proof.
In addition, the amounts awarded ascivil liability of the petitioner shall earn interest of
6% per annumreckoned from the finality of this decision until full payment by the
accused. WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the decision promulgated on September

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27, 2006 finding petitioner Alfredo De Guzman, Jr. GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of
FRUSTRATED HOMICIDE, and SENTENCES him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of
four years of prision correccional, as the minimum, to eight years and one day of prision
mayor, as the maximum; ORDERS the petitioner to pay to Alexander Flojo civil
indemnity of P30,000.00; moral damages of P30,000.00; and compensatory damages
of Pl4,170.35, plus interest of 6% per annum on all such awards from the finality of this
decision until full payment; and DIRECTS the petitioner to pay the costs of suit.

G.R. No. 166326

CONTRARY TO LAW.3
Ruben Rodil testified that he used to work as a taxi driver. He stopped driving in April
1998 after a would-be rapist threatened his life. He was even given a citation as a
Bayaning Pilipino by the television network ABS-CBN for saving the would-be victim. His
wife eked out a living as a manicurist. They and their three children resided in Barangay
San Isidro Labrador II, Dasmarias, Cavite, near the house of Esmeraldo Rivera and his
brothers Ismael and Edgardo.

January 25, 2006

ESMERALDO RIVERA, ISMAEL RIVERA, EDGARDO RIVERA, Petitioners,


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

vs.

DECISION
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
This is a petition for review of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR
No. 27215 affirming, with modification, the Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
of Cavite, Branch 90, in Criminal Case No. 6962-99, entitled People of the Philippines. v.
Esmeraldo Rivera, et al.
On April 12, 1999, an Information was filed in the RTC of Imus, Cavite, charging
Esmeraldo, Ismael and Edgardo, all surnamed Rivera, of attempted murder. The
accusatory portion of the Information reads:
That on or about the 3rd day of May 1998, in the Municipality of Dasmarias, Province
of Cavite, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the abovenamed accused, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another, with intent
to kill, with treachery and evident premeditation, did then and there, wilfully, unlawfully,
and feloniously attack, assault and hit with a piece of hollow block, one RUBEN RODIL
who thereby sustained a non-mortal injury on his head and on the different parts of his
body, the accused thus commenced the commission of the felony directly by overt acts,
but failed to perform all the acts of execution which would produce the crime of Murder
by reason of some causes other than their own spontaneous desistance, that is, the
said Ruben Rodil was able to ran (sic) away and the timely response of the policemen,
to his damage and prejudice.

At noon of May 2, 1998, Ruben went to a nearby store to buy food. Edgardo mocked
him for being jobless and dependent on his wife for support. Ruben resented the rebuke
and hurled invectives at Edgardo. A heated exchange of words ensued.
At about 7:30 p.m. the next day, a Sunday, Ruben went to the store to buy food and to
look for his wife. His three-year-old daughter was with him. Momentarily, Esmeraldo and
his two brothers, Ismael and Edgardo, emerged from their house and ganged up on
Ruben. Esmeraldo and Ismael mauled Ruben with fist blows and he fell to the ground.
In that helpless position, Edgardo hit Ruben three times with a hollow block on the
parietal area. Esmeraldo and Ismael continued mauling Ruben. People who saw the
incident shouted: "Awatin sila! Awatin sila!" Ruben felt dizzy but managed to stand up.
Ismael threw a stone at him, hitting him at the back. When policemen on board a mobile
car arrived, Esmeraldo, Ismael and Edgardo fled to their house.
Ruben was brought to the hospital. His attending physician, Dr. Lamberto Cagingin, Jr.,
signed a medical certificate in which he declared that Ruben sustained lacerated
wounds on the parietal area, cerebral concussion or contusion, hematoma on the left
upper buttocks, multiple abrasions on the left shoulder and hematoma periorbital left.4
The doctor declared that the lacerated wound in the parietal area was slight and
superficial and would heal from one to seven days.5 The doctor prescribed medicine for
Rubens back pain, which he had to take for one month.6
Esmeraldo testified that at around 1:00 p.m. on May 3, 1998, Ruben arrived at his house
and banged the gate. Ruben challenged him and his brothers to come out and fight.
When he went out of the house and talked to Ruben, the latter punched him. They
wrestled with each other. He fell to the ground. Edgardo arrived and pushed Ruben
aside. His wife arrived, and he was pulled away and brought to their house.

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For his part, Ismael testified that he tried to pacify Ruben and his brother Esmeraldo, but
Ruben grabbed him by the hair. He managed to free himself from Ruben and the latter
fled. He went home afterwards. He did not see his brother Edgardo at the scene.
Edgardo declared that at about 1:00 p.m. on May 3, 1998, he was throwing garbage in
front of their house. Ruben arrived and he went inside the house to avoid a
confrontation. Ruben banged the gate and ordered him to get out of their house and
even threatened to shoot him. His brother Esmeraldo went out of their house and asked
Ruben what the problem was. A fist fight ensued. Edgardo rushed out of the house and
pushed Ruben aside. Ruben fell to the ground. When he stood up, he pulled at
Edgardos shirt and hair, and, in the process, Rubens head hit the lamp post.7

The accused, now petitioners, filed the instant petition for review on certiorari, alleging
that the CA erred in affirming the RTC decision. They insist that the prosecution failed to
prove that they had the intention to kill Ruben when they mauled and hit him with a
hollow block. Petitioners aver that, based on the testimony of Dr. Cagingin, Ruben
sustained only a superficial wound in the parietal area; hence, they should be held
criminally liable for physical injuries only. Even if petitioners had the intent to kill Ruben,
the prosecution failed to prove treachery; hence, they should be held guilty only of
attempted homicide.
On the other hand, the CA held that the prosecution was able to prove petitioners intent
to kill Ruben:

On August 30, 2002, the trial court rendered judgment finding all the accused guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of frustrated murder. The dispositive portion of the decision
reads:

On the first assigned error, intent to kill may be deduced from the nature of the wound
inflicted and the kind of weapon used. Intent to kill was established by victim Ruben
Rodil in his testimony as follows:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, all the accused are found GUILTY beyond
reasonable doubt and are sentenced to an imprisonment of six (6) years and one (1)
day to eight (8) years of prision mayor as the prosecution has proved beyond
reasonable doubt the culpability of the accused. Likewise, the accused are to pay, jointly
and severally, civil indemnity to the private complainant in the amount of P30,000.00.

Q: And while you were being boxed by Esmeraldo and Bong, what happened next?

SO ORDERED.8
The trial court gave no credence to the collective testimonies of the accused and their
witnesses. The accused appealed to the CA, which rendered judgment on June 8, 2004
affirming, with modification, the appealed decision. The dispositive portion of the CA
decision reads:
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Imus, Cavite, Branch 90, is
MODIFIED in that the appellants are convicted of ATTEMPTED MURDER and
sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of 2 years of prision correccional as minimum to
6 years and 1 day of prision mayor as maximum. In all other respects, the decision
appealed from is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.9

A: When I was already lying [down] xxx, Dagol Rivera showed up with a piece of hollow
block xxx and hit me thrice on the head, Sir.
Q: And what about the two (2), what were they doing when you were hit with a hollow
block by Dagol?
A: I was already lying on the ground and they kept on boxing me while Dagol was
hitting, Sir.
As earlier stated by Dr. Cagingin, appellants could have killed the victim had the hollow
block directly hit his head, and had the police not promptly intervened so that the
brothers scampered away. When a wound is not sufficient to cause death, but intent to
kill is evident, the crime is attempted. Intent to kill was shown by the fact that the (3)
brothers helped each other maul the defenseless victim, and even after he had already
fallen to the ground; that one of them even picked up a cement hollow block and
proceeded to hit the victim on the head with it three times; and that it was only the arrival
of the policemen that made the appellants desist from their concerted act of trying to kill
Ruben Rodil.10

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The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), for its part, asserts that the decision of the CA
is correct, thus:
The evidence and testimonies of the prosecution witnesses defeat the presumption of
innocence raised by petitioners. The crime has been clearly established with petitioners
as the perpetrators. Their intent to kill is very evident and was established beyond
reasonable doubt.
Eyewitnesses to the crime, Alicia Vera Cruz and Lucita Villejo clearly and categorically
declared that the victim Ruben Rodil was walking along St. Peter Avenue when he was
suddenly boxed by Esmeraldo "Baby" Rivera. They further narrated that, soon
thereafter, his two brothers Ismael and Edgardo "Dagul" Rivera, coming from St. Peter
II, ganged up on the victim. Both Alicia Vera Cruz and Lucita Villejo recounted that they
saw Edgardo "Dagul" Rivera pick up a hollow block and hit Ruben Rodil with it three (3)
times. A careful review of their testimonies revealed the suddenness and
unexpectedness of the attack of petitioners. In this case, the victim did not even have
the slightest warning of the danger that lay ahead as he was carrying his three-year old
daughter. He was caught off-guard by the assault of Esmeraldo "Baby" Rivera and the
simultaneous attack of the two other petitioners. It was also established that the victim
was hit by Edgardo "Dagul" Rivera, while he was lying on the ground and being mauled
by the other petitioners. Petitioners could have killed the victim had he not managed to
escape and had the police not promptly intervened.
Petitioners also draw attention to the fact that the injury sustained by the victim was
superficial and, thus, not life threatening. The nature of the injury does not negate the
intent to kill. The Court of Appeals held:
As earlier stated by Dr. Cagingin, appellants could have killed the victim had the hollow
block directly hit his head, and had the police not promptly intervened so that the
brothers scampered away. When a wound is not sufficient to cause death, but intent to
kill is evident, the crime is attempted. Intent to kill was shown by the fact that the three
(3) brothers helped each other maul the defenseless victim, and even after he had
already fallen to the ground; that one of them picked up a cement hollow block and
proceeded to hit the victim on the head with it three times; and that it was only the arrival
of the policemen that made the appellants desist from their concerted act of trying to kill
Ruben Rodil.11

An essential element of murder and homicide, whether in their consummated, frustrated


or attempted stage, is intent of the offenders to kill the victim immediately before or
simultaneously with the infliction of injuries. Intent to kill is a specific intent which the
prosecution must prove by direct or circumstantial evidence, while general criminal
intent is presumed from the commission of a felony by dolo.
In People v. Delim,12 the Court declared that evidence to prove intent to kill in crimes
against persons may consist, inter alia, in the means used by the malefactors, the
nature, location and number of wounds sustained by the victim, the conduct of the
malefactors before, at the time, or immediately after the killing of the victim, the
circumstances under which the crime was committed and the motives of the accused. If
the victim dies as a result of a deliberate act of the malefactors, intent to kill is
presumed.
In the present case, the prosecution mustered the requisite quantum of evidence to
prove the intent of petitioners to kill Ruben. Esmeraldo and Ismael pummeled the victim
with fist blows. Even as Ruben fell to the ground, unable to defend himself against the
sudden and sustained assault of petitioners, Edgardo hit him three times with a hollow
block. Edgardo tried to hit Ruben on the head, missed, but still managed to hit the victim
only in the parietal area, resulting in a lacerated wound and cerebral contusions.
That the head wounds sustained by the victim were merely superficial and could not
have produced his death does not negate petitioners criminal liability for attempted
murder. Even if Edgardo did not hit the victim squarely on the head, petitioners are still
criminally liable for attempted murder.
The last paragraph of Article 6 of the Revised Penal Code defines an attempt to commit
a felony, thus:
There is an attempt when the offender commences the commission of a felony directly
by overt acts, and does not perform all the acts of execution which should produce the
felony by reason of some cause or accident other than his own spontaneous desistance.
The essential elements of an attempted felony are as follows:
1. The offender commences the commission of the felony directly by overt acts;

The petition is denied for lack of merit.

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2. He does not perform all the acts of execution which should produce the felony;

they narrowly missed hitting the middle portion of his head. If Edgardo had
done so, Ruben would surely have died.

3. The offenders act be not stopped by his own spontaneous desistance;


4. The non-performance of all acts of execution was due to cause or accident other than
his spontaneous desistance.13
The first requisite of an attempted felony consists of two elements, namely:
(1) That there be external acts;
(2) Such external acts have direct connection with the crime intended to be
committed.14
The Court in People v. Lizada15 elaborated on the concept of an overt or external act,
thus:
An overt or external act is defined as some physical activity or deed, indicating the
intention to commit a particular crime, more than a mere planning or preparation, which
if carried out to its complete termination following its natural course, without being
frustrated by external obstacles nor by the spontaneous desistance of the perpetrator,
will logically and necessarily ripen into a concrete offense. The raison detre for the law
requiring a direct overt act is that, in a majority of cases, the conduct of the accused
consisting merely of acts of preparation has never ceased to be equivocal; and this is
necessarily so, irrespective of his declared intent. It is that quality of being equivocal that
must be lacking before the act becomes one which may be said to be a commencement
of the commission of the crime, or an overt act or before any fragment of the crime itself
has been committed, and this is so for the reason that so long as the equivocal quality
remains, no one can say with certainty what the intent of the accused is. It is necessary
that the overt act should have been the ultimate step towards the consummation of the
design. It is sufficient if it was the "first or some subsequent step in a direct movement
towards the commission of the offense after the preparations are made." The act done
need not constitute the last proximate one for completion. It is necessary, however, that
the attempt must have a causal relation to the intended crime. In the words of Viada, the
overt acts must have an immediate and necessary relation to the offense.16
In the case at bar, petitioners, who acted in concert, commenced the felony of
murder by mauling the victim and hitting him three times with a hollow block;

We reject petitioners contention that the prosecution failed to prove treachery in the
commission of the felony. Petitioners attacked the victim in a sudden and unexpected
manner as Ruben was walking with his three-year-old daughter, impervious of the
imminent peril to his life. He had no chance to defend himself and retaliate. He was
overwhelmed by the synchronized assault of the three siblings. The essence of
treachery is the sudden and unexpected attack on the victim.17 Even if the attack is
frontal but is sudden and unexpected, giving no opportunity for the victim to repel it or
defend himself, there would be treachery.18 Obviously, petitioners assaulted the victim
because of the altercation between him and petitioner Edgardo Rivera a day before.
There being conspiracy by and among petitioners, treachery is considered against all of
them.19
The appellate court sentenced petitioners to suffer an indeterminate penalty of two (2)
years of prision correccional in its minimum period, as minimum, to six years and one
day of prision mayor in its maximum period, as maximum. This is erroneous. Under
Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659, the
penalty for murder is reclusion perpetua to death. Since petitioners are guilty only of
attempted murder, the penalty should be reduced by two degrees, conformably to Article
51 of the Revised Penal Code. Under paragraph 2 of Article 61, in relation to Article 71
of the Revised Penal Code, such a penalty is prision mayor. In the absence of any
modifying circumstance in the commission of the felony (other than the qualifying
circumstance of treachery), the maximum of the indeterminate penalty shall be taken
from the medium period of prision mayor which has a range of from eight (8) years and
one (1) day to ten (10) years. To determine the minimum of the indeterminate penalty,
the penalty of prision mayor should be reduced by one degree, prision correccional,
which has a range of six (6) months and one (1) day to six (6) years.
Hence, petitioners should be sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of from two
(2) years of prision correccional in its minimum period, as minimum, to nine (9) years
and four (4) months of prision mayor in its medium period, as maximum.
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The
Decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED WITH THE MODIFICATION that
petitioners are sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of from two (2) years of

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prision correccional in its minimum period, as minimum, to nine (9) years and four (4)
months of prision mayor in its medium period, as maximum. No costs.

Before the Court are the consolidated cases docketed as G.R. No. 151258 (Villareal v.
People), G.R. No. 154954 (People v. Court of Appeals), G.R. No. 155101 (Dizon v.
People), and G.R. Nos. 178057 and 178080 (Villa v. Escalona).

SO ORDERED.
Facts

G.R. No. 151258

February 1, 2012

ARTEMIO VILLAREAL, Petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.


The public outrage over the death of Leonardo "Lenny" Villa the victim in this case
on 10 February 1991 led to a very strong clamor to put an end to hazing.1 Due in large
part to the brave efforts of his mother, petitioner Gerarda Villa, groups were organized,
condemning his senseless and tragic death. This widespread condemnation prompted
Congress to enact a special law, which became effective in 1995, that would criminalize
hazing.2 The intent of the law was to discourage members from making hazing a
requirement for joining their sorority, fraternity, organization, or association.3 Moreover,
the law was meant to counteract the exculpatory implications of "consent" and "initial
innocent act" in the conduct of initiation rites by making the mere act of hazing
punishable or mala prohibita.4
Sadly, the Lenny Villa tragedy did not discourage hazing activities in the country.5 Within
a year of his death, six more cases of hazing-related deaths emerged those of
Frederick Cahiyang of the University of Visayas in Cebu; Raul Camaligan of San Beda
College; Felipe Narne of Pamantasan ng Araullo in Cabanatuan City; Dennis Cenedoza
of the Cavite Naval Training Center; Joselito Mangga of the Philippine Merchant Marine
Institute; and Joselito Hernandez of the University of the Philippines in Baguio City.6
Although courts must not remain indifferent to public sentiments, in this case the general
condemnation of a hazing-related death, they are still bound to observe a fundamental
principle in our criminal justice system "[N]o act constitutes a crime unless it is made
so by law."7 Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine lege. Even if an act is viewed by a large
section of the populace as immoral or injurious, it cannot be considered a crime, absent
any law prohibiting its commission. As interpreters of the law, judges are called upon to
set aside emotion, to resist being swayed by strong public sentiments, and to rule strictly
based on the elements of the offense and the facts allowed in evidence.

The pertinent facts, as determined by the Court of Appeals (CA)8 and the trial court,9
are as follows:
In February 1991, seven freshmen law students
School of Law signified their intention to join the
Fraternity). They were Caesar "Bogs" Asuncion,
"Bien" Marquez III, Roberto Francis "Bert" Navera,
Jr., and Leonardo "Lenny" Villa (neophytes).

of the Ateneo de Manila University


Aquila Legis Juris Fraternity (Aquila
Samuel "Sam" Belleza, Bienvenido
Geronimo "Randy" Recinto, Felix Sy,

On the night of 8 February 1991, the neophytes were met by some members of the
Aquila Fraternity (Aquilans) at the lobby of the Ateneo Law School. They all proceeded
to Rufos Restaurant to have dinner. Afterwards, they went to the house of Michael
Musngi, also an Aquilan, who briefed the neophytes on what to expect during the
initiation rites. The latter were informed that there would be physical beatings, and that
they could quit at any time. Their initiation rites were scheduled to last for three days.
After their "briefing," they were brought to the Almeda Compound in Caloocan City for
the commencement of their initiation.
Even before the neophytes got off the van, they had already received threats and insults
from the Aquilans. As soon as the neophytes alighted from the van and walked towards
the pelota court of the Almeda compound, some of the Aquilans delivered physical
blows to them. The neophytes were then subjected to traditional forms of Aquilan
"initiation rites." These rites included the "Indian Run," which required the neophytes to
run a gauntlet of two parallel rows of Aquilans, each row delivering blows to the
neophytes; the "Bicol Express," which obliged the neophytes to sit on the floor with their
backs against the wall and their legs outstretched while the Aquilans walked, jumped, or
ran over their legs; the "Rounds," in which the neophytes were held at the back of their
pants by the "auxiliaries" (the Aquilans charged with the duty of lending assistance to
neophytes during initiation rites), while the latter were being hit with fist blows on their
arms or with knee blows on their thighs by two Aquilans; and the "Auxies Privilege
Round," in which the auxiliaries were given the opportunity to inflict physical pain on the

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neophytes. During this time, the neophytes were also indoctrinated with the fraternity
principles. They survived their first day of initiation.
On the morning of their second day 9 February 1991 the neophytes were made to
present comic plays and to play rough basketball. They were also required to memorize
and recite the Aquila Fraternitys principles. Whenever they would give a wrong answer,
they would be hit on their arms or legs. Late in the afternoon, the Aquilans revived the
initiation rites proper and proceeded to torment them physically and psychologically. The
neophytes were subjected to the same manner of hazing that they endured on the first
day of initiation. After a few hours, the initiation for the day officially ended.
After a while, accused non-resident or alumni fraternity members10 Fidelito Dizon
(Dizon) and Artemio Villareal (Villareal) demanded that the rites be reopened. The head
of initiation rites, Nelson Victorino (Victorino), initially refused. Upon the insistence of
Dizon and Villareal, however, he reopened the initiation rites. The fraternity members,
including Dizon and Villareal, then subjected the neophytes to "paddling" and to
additional rounds of physical pain. Lenny received several paddle blows, one of which
was so strong it sent him sprawling to the ground. The neophytes heard him
complaining of intense pain and difficulty in breathing. After their last session of physical
beatings, Lenny could no longer walk. He had to be carried by the auxiliaries to the
carport. Again, the initiation for the day was officially ended, and the neophytes started
eating dinner. They then slept at the carport.
After an hour of sleep, the neophytes were suddenly roused by Lennys shivering and
incoherent mumblings. Initially, Villareal and Dizon dismissed these rumblings, as they
thought he was just overacting. When they realized, though, that Lenny was really
feeling cold, some of the Aquilans started helping him. They removed his clothes and
helped him through a sleeping bag to keep him warm. When his condition worsened, the
Aquilans rushed him to the hospital. Lenny was pronounced dead on arrival.

On 8 November 1993, the trial court rendered judgment in Criminal Case No. C38340(91), holding the 26 accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
homicide, penalized with reclusion temporal under Article 249 of the Revised Penal
Code.13 A few weeks after the trial court rendered its judgment, or on 29 November
1993, Criminal Case No. C-38340 against the remaining nine accused commenced
anew.14
On 10 January 2002, the CA in (CA-G.R. No. 15520)15 set aside the finding of
conspiracy by the trial court in Criminal Case No. C-38340(91) and modified the criminal
liability of each of the accused according to individual participation. Accused De Leon
had by then passed away, so the following Decision applied only to the remaining 25
accused, viz:
1. Nineteen of the accused-appellants Victorino, Sabban, Lledo, Guerrero, Musngi,
Perez, De Guzman, Santos, General, Flores, Lim, Montecillo, Ranada, Mendoza,
Verdadero, Purisima, Fernandez, Abas, and Brigola (Victorino et al.) were acquitted,
as their individual guilt was not established by proof beyond reasonable doubt.
2. Four of the accused-appellants Vincent Tecson, Junel Anthony Ama, Antonio
Mariano Almeda, and Renato Bantug, Jr. (Tecson et al.) were found guilty of the crime
of slight physical injuries and sentenced to 20 days of arresto menor. They were also
ordered to jointly pay the heirs of the victim the sum of P 30,000 as indemnity.
3. Two of the accused-appellants Fidelito Dizon and Artemio Villareal were found
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of homicide under Article 249 of the
Revised Penal Code. Having found no mitigating or aggravating circumstance, the CA
sentenced them to an indeterminate sentence of 10 years of prision mayor to 17 years
of reclusion temporal. They were also ordered to indemnify, jointly and severally, the
heirs of Lenny Villa in the sum of P 50,000 and to pay the additional amount of P
1,000,000 by way of moral damages.

Consequently, a criminal case for homicide was filed against the following 35 Aquilans.
Twenty-six of the accused Aquilans in Criminal Case No. C-38340(91) were jointly
tried.11 On the other hand, the trial against the remaining nine accused in Criminal
Case No. C-38340 was held in abeyance due to certain matters that had to be resolved
first.12

On 5 August 2002, the trial court in Criminal Case No. 38340 dismissed the charge
against accused Concepcion on the ground of violation of his right to speedy trial.16
Meanwhile, on different dates between the years 2003 and 2005, the trial court denied
the respective Motions to Dismiss of accused Escalona, Ramos, Saruca, and
Adriano.17 On 25 October 2006, the CA in CA-G.R. SP Nos. 89060 & 9015318
reversed the trial courts Orders and dismissed the criminal case against Escalona,
Ramos, Saruca, and Adriano on the basis of violation of their right to speedy trial.19

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From the aforementioned Decisions, the five (5) consolidated Petitions were individually
brought before this Court.
G.R. No. 151258 Villareal v. People
The instant case refers to accused Villareals Petition for Review on Certiorari under
Rule 45. The Petition raises two reversible errors allegedly committed by the CA in its
Decision dated 10 January 2002 in CA-G.R. No. 15520 first, denial of due process;
and, second, conviction absent proof beyond reasonable doubt.20
While the Petition was pending before this Court, counsel for petitioner Villareal filed a
Notice of Death of Party on 10 August 2011. According to the Notice, petitioner Villareal
died on 13 March 2011. Counsel thus asserts that the subject matter of the Petition
previously filed by petitioner does not survive the death of the accused.

neophytes admitted that the chairperson of the initiation rites "decided that [Lenny] was
fit enough to undergo the initiation so Mr. Villareal proceeded to do the paddling."24
Further, petitioner echoes the argument of the Solicitor General that "the individual
blows inflicted by Dizon and Villareal could not have resulted in Lennys death."25 The
Solicitor General purportedly averred that, "on the contrary, Dr. Arizala testified that the
injuries suffered by Lenny could not be considered fatal if taken individually, but if taken
collectively, the result is the violent death of the victim."26
Petitioner then counters the finding of the CA that he was motivated by ill will. He claims
that Lennys father could not have stolen the parking space of Dizons father, since the
latter did not have a car, and their fathers did not work in the same place or office.
Revenge for the loss of the parking space was the alleged ill motive of Dizon. According
to petitioner, his utterances regarding a stolen parking space were only part of the
"psychological initiation." He then cites the testimony of Lennys co-neophyte witness
Marquez who admitted knowing "it was not true and that he was just making it
up."27

G.R. No. 155101 Dizon v. People


Accused Dizon filed a Rule 45 Petition for Review on Certiorari, questioning the CAs
Decision dated 10 January 2002 and Resolution dated 30 August 2002 in CA-G.R. No.
15520.21 Petitioner sets forth two main issues first, that he was denied due process
when the CA sustained the trial courts forfeiture of his right to present evidence; and,
second, that he was deprived of due process when the CA did not apply to him the
same "ratio decidendi that served as basis of acquittal of the other accused."22
As regards the first issue, the trial court made a ruling, which forfeited Dizons right to
present evidence during trial. The trial court expected Dizon to present evidence on an
earlier date since a co-accused, Antonio General, no longer presented separate
evidence during trial. According to Dizon, his right should not have been considered as
waived because he was justified in asking for a postponement. He argues that he did
not ask for a resetting of any of the hearing dates and in fact insisted that he was ready
to present evidence on the original pre-assigned schedule, and not on an earlier hearing
date.
Regarding the second issue, petitioner contends that he should have likewise been
acquitted, like the other accused, since his acts were also part of the traditional initiation
rites and were not tainted by evil motives.23 He claims that the additional paddling
session was part of the official activity of the fraternity. He also points out that one of the

Further, petitioner argues that his alleged motivation of ill will was negated by his show
of concern for Villa after the initiation rites. Dizon alludes to the testimony of one of the
neophytes, who mentioned that the former had kicked the leg of the neophyte and told
him to switch places with Lenny to prevent the latters chills. When the chills did not
stop, Dizon, together with Victorino, helped Lenny through a sleeping bag and made him
sit on a chair. According to petitioner, his alleged ill motivation is contradicted by his
manifestation of compassion and concern for the victims well-being.
G.R. No. 154954 People v. Court of Appeals
This Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 seeks the reversal of the CAs Decision dated
10 January 2002 and Resolution dated 30 August 2002 in CA-G.R. No. 15520, insofar
as it acquitted 19 (Victorino et al.) and convicted 4 (Tecson et al.) of the accused
Aquilans of the lesser crime of slight physical injuries.28 According to the Solicitor
General, the CA erred in holding that there could have been no conspiracy to commit
hazing, as hazing or fraternity initiation had not yet been criminalized at the time Lenny
died.
In the alternative, petitioner claims that the ruling of the trial court should have been
upheld, inasmuch as it found that there was conspiracy to inflict physical injuries on
Lenny. Since the injuries led to the victims death, petitioner posits that the accused

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Aquilans are criminally liable for the resulting crime of homicide, pursuant to Article 4 of
the Revised Penal Code.29 The said article provides: "Criminal liability shall be
incurred [b]y any person committing a felony (delito) although the wrongful act done
be different from that which he intended."
Petitioner also argues that the rule on double jeopardy is inapplicable. According to the
Solicitor General, the CA acted with grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction, in setting aside the trial courts finding of conspiracy and in ruling
that the criminal liability of all the accused must be based on their individual participation
in the commission of the crime.

1. Whether the forfeiture of petitioner Dizons right to present evidence constitutes denial
of due process;
2. Whether the CA committed grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction when it dismissed the case against Escalona, Ramos, Saruca, and Adriano
for violation of the right of the accused to speedy trial;
3. Whether the CA committed grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction, when it set aside the finding of conspiracy by the trial court and adjudicated
the liability of each accused according to individual participation;

G.R. Nos. 178057 and 178080 Villa v. Escalona

4. Whether accused Dizon is guilty of homicide; and

Petitioner Villa filed the instant Petition for Review on Certiorari, praying for the reversal
of the CAs Decision dated 25 October 2006 and Resolution dated 17 May 2007 in CAG.R. S.P. Nos. 89060 and 90153.30 The Petition involves the dismissal of the criminal
charge filed against Escalona, Ramos, Saruca, and Adriano.

5. Whether the CA committed grave abuse of discretion when it pronounced Tecson,


Ama, Almeda, and Bantug guilty only of slight physical injuries.

Due to "several pending incidents," the trial court ordered a separate trial for accused
Escalona, Saruca, Adriano, Ramos, Ampil, Concepcion, De Vera, S. Fernandez, and
Cabangon (Criminal Case No. C-38340) to commence after proceedings against the 26
other accused in Criminal Case No. C-38340(91) shall have terminated. On 8 November
1993, the trial court found the 26 accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt. As a result,
the proceedings in Criminal Case No. C-38340 involving the nine other co-accused
recommenced on 29 November 1993. For "various reasons," the initial trial of the case
did not commence until 28 March 2005, or almost 12 years after the arraignment of the
nine accused.

Resolution on Preliminary Matters

Petitioner Villa assails the CAs dismissal of the criminal case involving 4 of the 9
accused, namely, Escalona, Ramos, Saruca, and Adriano. She argues that the accused
failed to assert their right to speedy trial within a reasonable period of time. She also
points out that the prosecution cannot be faulted for the delay, as the original records
and the required evidence were not at its disposal, but were still in the appellate court.
We resolve herein the various issues that we group into five.
Issues

Discussion

G.R. No. 151258 Villareal v. People


In a Notice dated 26 September 2011 and while the Petition was pending resolution, this
Court took note of counsel for petitioners Notice of Death of Party.
According to Article 89(1) of the Revised Penal Code, criminal liability for personal
penalties is totally extinguished by the death of the convict. In contrast, criminal liability
for pecuniary penalties is extinguished if the offender dies prior to final judgment. The
term "personal penalties" refers to the service of personal or imprisonment penalties,31
while the term "pecuniary penalties" (las pecuniarias) refers to fines and costs,32
including civil liability predicated on the criminal offense complained of (i.e., civil liability
ex delicto).33 However, civil liability based on a source of obligation other than the delict
survives the death of the accused and is recoverable through a separate civil action.34
Thus, we hold that the death of petitioner Villareal extinguished his criminal liability for
both personal and pecuniary penalties, including his civil liability directly arising from the
delict complained of. Consequently, his Petition is hereby dismissed, and the criminal
case against him deemed closed and terminated.

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G.R. No. 155101 (Dizon v. People)


In an Order dated 28 July 1993, the trial court set the dates for the reception of evidence
for accused-petitioner Dizon on the 8th, 15th, and 22nd of September; and the 5th and
12 of October 1993.35 The Order likewise stated that "it will not entertain any
postponement and that all the accused who have not yet presented their respective
evidence should be ready at all times down the line, with their evidence on all said
dates. Failure on their part to present evidence when required shall therefore be
construed as waiver to present evidence."36
However, on 19 August 1993, counsel for another accused manifested in open court that
his client Antonio General would no longer present separate evidence. Instead, the
counsel would adopt the testimonial evidence of the other accused who had already
testified.37 Because of this development and pursuant to the trial courts Order that the
parties "should be ready at all times down the line," the trial court expected Dizon to
present evidence on the next trial date 25 August 1993 instead of his originally
assigned dates. The original dates were supposed to start two weeks later, or on 8
September 1993.38 Counsel for accused Dizon was not able to present evidence on the
accelerated date. To address the situation, counsel filed a Constancia on 25 August
1993, alleging that he had to appear in a previously scheduled case, and that he would
be ready to present evidence on the dates originally assigned to his clients.39 The trial
court denied the Manifestation on the same date and treated the Constancia as a
motion for postponement, in violation of the three-day-notice rule under the Rules of
Court.40 Consequently, the trial court ruled that the failure of Dizon to present evidence
amounted to a waiver of that right.41
Accused-petitioner Dizon thus argues that he was deprived of due process of law when
the trial court forfeited his right to present evidence. According to him, the postponement
of the 25 August 1993 hearing should have been considered justified, since his original
pre-assigned trial dates were not supposed to start until 8 September 1993, when he
was scheduled to present evidence. He posits that he was ready to present evidence on
the dates assigned to him. He also points out that he did not ask for a resetting of any of
the said hearing dates; that he in fact insisted on being allowed to present evidence on
the dates fixed by the trial court. Thus, he contends that the trial court erred in
accelerating the schedule of presentation of evidence, thereby invalidating the finding of
his guilt.

The right of the accused to present evidence is guaranteed by no less than the
Constitution itself.42 Article III, Section 14(2) thereof, provides that "in all criminal
prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel"
This constitutional right includes the right to present evidence in ones defense,43 as
well as the right to be present and defend oneself in person at every stage of the
proceedings.44
In Crisostomo v. Sandiganbayan,45 the Sandiganbayan set the hearing of the defenses
presentation of evidence for 21, 22 and 23 June 1995. The 21 June 1995 hearing was
cancelled due to "lack of quorum in the regular membership" of the Sandiganbayans
Second Division and upon the agreement of the parties. The hearing was reset for the
next day, 22 June 1995, but Crisostomo and his counsel failed to attend. The
Sandiganbayan, on the very same day, issued an Order directing the issuance of a
warrant for the arrest of Crisostomo and the confiscation of his surety bond. The Order
further declared that he had waived his right to present evidence because of his
nonappearance at "yesterdays and todays scheduled hearings." In ruling against the
Order, we held thus:
Under Section 2(c), Rule 114 and Section 1(c), Rule 115 of the Rules of Court,
Crisostomos non-appearance during the 22 June 1995 trial was merely a waiver of his
right to be present for trial on such date only and not for the succeeding trial dates
xxx

xxx

xxx

Moreover, Crisostomos absence on the 22 June 1995 hearing should not have been
deemed as a waiver of his right to present evidence. While constitutional rights may be
waived, such waiver must be clear and must be coupled with an actual intention to
relinquish the right. Crisostomo did not voluntarily waive in person or even through his
counsel the right to present evidence. The Sandiganbayan imposed the waiver due to
the agreement of the prosecution, Calingayan, and Calingayan's counsel.
In criminal cases where the imposable penalty may be death, as in the present case, the
court is called upon to see to it that the accused is personally made aware of the
consequences of a waiver of the right to present evidence. In fact, it is not enough that
the accused is simply warned of the consequences of another failure to attend the
succeeding hearings. The court must first explain to the accused personally in clear
terms the exact nature and consequences of a waiver. Crisostomo was not even
forewarned. The Sandiganbayan simply went ahead to deprive Crisostomo of his right to

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present evidence without even allowing Crisostomo to explain his absence on the 22
June 1995 hearing.

even argues that "Dizon did not request for the extension and he participated only after
the activity was sanctioned."50

Clearly, the waiver of the right to present evidence in a criminal case involving a grave
penalty is not assumed and taken lightly. The presence of the accused and his counsel
is indispensable so that the court could personally conduct a searching inquiry into the
waiver x x x.46 (Emphasis supplied)

For one reason or another, the case has been passed or turned over from one judge or
justice to another at the trial court, at the CA, and even at the Supreme Court.
Remanding the case for the reception of the evidence of petitioner Dizon would only
inflict further injustice on the parties. This case has been going on for almost two
decades. Its resolution is long overdue. Since the key facts necessary to decide the
case have already been determined, we shall proceed to decide it.

The trial court should not have deemed the failure of petitioner to present evidence on
25 August 1993 as a waiver of his right to present evidence. On the contrary, it should
have considered the excuse of counsel justified, especially since counsel for another
accused General had made a last-minute adoption of testimonial evidence that freed
up the succeeding trial dates; and since Dizon was not scheduled to testify until two
weeks later. At any rate, the trial court pre-assigned five hearing dates for the reception
of evidence. If it really wanted to impose its Order strictly, the most it could have done
was to forfeit one out of the five days set for Dizons testimonial evidence. Stripping the
accused of all his pre-assigned trial dates constitutes a patent denial of the
constitutionally guaranteed right to due process.
Nevertheless, as in the case of an improvident guilty plea, an invalid waiver of the right
to present evidence and be heard does not per se work to vacate a finding of guilt in the
criminal case or to enforce an automatic remand of the case to the trial court.47 In
People v. Bodoso, we ruled that where facts have adequately been represented in a
criminal case, and no procedural unfairness or irregularity has prejudiced either the
prosecution or the defense as a result of the invalid waiver, the rule is that a guilty
verdict may nevertheless be upheld if the judgment is supported beyond reasonable
doubt by the evidence on record.48
We do not see any material inadequacy in the relevant facts on record to resolve the
case at bar. Neither can we see any "procedural unfairness or irregularity" that would
substantially prejudice either the prosecution or the defense as a result of the invalid
waiver. In fact, the arguments set forth by accused Dizon in his Petition corroborate the
material facts relevant to decide the matter. Instead, what he is really contesting in his
Petition is the application of the law to the facts by the trial court and the CA. Petitioner
Dizon admits direct participation in the hazing of Lenny Villa by alleging in his Petition
that "all actions of the petitioner were part of the traditional rites," and that "the alleged
extension of the initiation rites was not outside the official activity of the fraternity."49 He

G.R. Nos. 178057 and 178080 (Villa v. Escalona)


Petitioner Villa argues that the case against Escalona, Ramos, Saruca, and Adriano
should not have been dismissed, since they failed to assert their right to speedy trial
within a reasonable period of time. She points out that the accused failed to raise a
protest during the dormancy of the criminal case against them, and that they asserted
their right only after the trial court had dismissed the case against their co-accused
Concepcion. Petitioner also emphasizes that the trial court denied the respective
Motions to Dismiss filed by Saruca, Escalona, Ramos, and Adriano, because it found
that "the prosecution could not be faulted for the delay in the movement of this case
when the original records and the evidence it may require were not at its disposal as
these were in the Court of Appeals."51
The right of the accused to a speedy trial has been enshrined in Sections 14(2) and 16,
Article III of the 1987 Constitution.52 This right requires that there be a trial free from
vexatious, capricious or oppressive delays.53 The right is deemed violated when the
proceeding is attended with unjustified postponements of trial, or when a long period of
time is allowed to elapse without the case being tried and for no cause or justifiable
motive.54 In determining the right of the accused to speedy trial, courts should do more
than a mathematical computation of the number of postponements of the scheduled
hearings of the case.55 The conduct of both the prosecution and the defense must be
weighed.56 Also to be considered are factors such as the length of delay, the assertion
or non-assertion of the right, and the prejudice wrought upon the defendant.57
We have consistently ruled in a long line of cases that a dismissal of the case pursuant
to the right of the accused to speedy trial is tantamount to acquittal.58 As a
consequence, an appeal or a reconsideration of the dismissal would amount to a
violation of the principle of double jeopardy.59 As we have previously discussed,

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however, where the dismissal of the case is capricious, certiorari lies.60 The rule on
double jeopardy is not triggered when a petition challenges the validity of the order of
dismissal instead of the correctness thereof.61 Rather, grave abuse of discretion
amounts to lack of jurisdiction, and lack of jurisdiction prevents double jeopardy from
attaching.62
We do not see grave abuse of discretion in the CAs dismissal of the case against
accused Escalona, Ramos, Saruca, and Adriano on the basis of the violation of their
right to speedy trial. The court held thus:
An examination of the procedural history of this case would reveal that the following
factors contributed to the slow progress of the proceedings in the case below:
xxx

xxx

xxx

5) The fact that the records of the case were elevated to the Court of Appeals and the
prosecutions failure to comply with the order of the court a quo requiring them to secure
certified true copies of the same.
xxx

xxx

xxx

While we are prepared to concede that some of the foregoing factors that contributed to
the delay of the trial of the petitioners are justifiable, We nonetheless hold that their right
to speedy trial has been utterly violated in this case x x x.
xxx

xxx

xxx

[T]he absence of the records in the trial court [was] due to the fact that the records of the
case were elevated to the Court of Appeals, and the prosecutions failure to comply with
the order of the court a quo requiring it to secure certified true copies of the same. What
is glaring from the records is the fact that as early as September 21, 1995, the court a
quo already issued an Order requiring the prosecution, through the Department of
Justice, to secure the complete records of the case from the Court of Appeals. The
prosecution did not comply with the said Order as in fact, the same directive was
repeated by the court a quo in an Order dated December 27, 1995. Still, there was no
compliance on the part of the prosecution. It is not stated when such order was
complied with. It appears, however, that even until August 5, 2002, the said records

were still not at the disposal of the trial court because the lack of it was made the basis
of the said court in granting the motion to dismiss filed by co-accused Concepcion x x x.
xxx

xxx

xxx

It is likewise noticeable that from December 27, 1995, until August 5, 2002, or for a
period of almost seven years, there was no action at all on the part of the court a quo.
Except for the pleadings filed by both the prosecution and the petitioners, the latest of
which was on January 29, 1996, followed by petitioner Sarucas motion to set case for
trial on August 17, 1998 which the court did not act upon, the case remained dormant
for a considerable length of time. This prolonged inactivity whatsoever is precisely the
kind of delay that the constitution frowns upon x x x.63 (Emphasis supplied)
This Court points out that on 10 January 1992, the final amended Information was filed
against Escalona, Ramos, Saruca, Ampil, S. Fernandez, Adriano, Cabangon,
Concepcion, and De Vera.64 On 29 November 1993, they were all arraigned.65
Unfortunately, the initial trial of the case did not commence until 28 March 2005 or
almost 12 years after arraignment.66
As illustrated in our ruling in Abardo v. Sandiganbayan, the unexplained interval or
inactivity of the Sandiganbayan for close to five years since the arraignment of the
accused amounts to an unreasonable delay in the disposition of cases a clear
violation of the right of the accused to a speedy disposition of cases.67 Thus, we held:
The delay in this case measures up to the unreasonableness of the delay in the
disposition of cases in Angchangco, Jr. vs. Ombudsman, where the Court found the
delay of six years by the Ombudsman in resolving the criminal complaints to be violative
of the constitutionally guaranteed right to a speedy disposition of cases; similarly, in
Roque vs. Office of the Ombudsman, where the Court held that the delay of almost six
years disregarded the Ombudsman's duty to act promptly on complaints before him; and
in Cervantes vs. Sandiganbayan, where the Court held that the Sandiganbayan gravely
abused its discretion in not quashing the information which was filed six years after the
initiatory complaint was filed and thereby depriving petitioner of his right to a speedy
disposition of the case. So it must be in the instant case, where the reinvestigation by
the Ombudsman has dragged on for a decade already.68 (Emphasis supplied)
From the foregoing principles, we affirm the ruling of the CA in CA-G.R. SP No. 89060
that accused Escalona et al.s right to speedy trial was violated. Since there is nothing in

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the records that would show that the subject of this Petition includes accused Ampil, S.
Fernandez, Cabangon, and De Vera, the effects of this ruling shall be limited to accused
Escalona, Ramos, Saruca, and Adriano.
G.R. No. 154954 (People v. Court of Appeals)
The rule on double jeopardy is one of the pillars of our criminal justice system. It dictates
that when a person is charged with an offense, and the case is terminated either by
acquittal or conviction or in any other manner without the consent of the accused the
accused cannot again be charged with the same or an identical offense.69 This
principle is founded upon the law of reason, justice and conscience.70 It is embodied in
the civil law maxim non bis in idem found in the common law of England and
undoubtedly in every system of jurisprudence.71 It found expression in the Spanish Law,
in the Constitution of the United States, and in our own Constitution as one of the
fundamental rights of the citizen,72 viz:
Article III Bill of Rights
Section 21. No person shall be twice put in jeopardy of punishment for the same
offense. If an act is punished by a law and an ordinance, conviction or acquittal under
either shall constitute a bar to another prosecution for the same act.
Rule 117, Section 7 of the Rules of Court, which implements this particular
constitutional right, provides as follows:73
SEC. 7. Former conviction or acquittal; double jeopardy. When an accused has been
convicted or acquitted, or the case against him dismissed or otherwise terminated
without his express consent by a court of competent jurisdiction, upon a valid complaint
or information or other formal charge sufficient in form and substance to sustain a
conviction and after the accused had pleaded to the charge, the conviction or acquittal
of the accused or the dismissal of the case shall be a bar to another prosecution for the
offense charged, or for any attempt to commit the same or frustration thereof, or for any
offense which necessarily includes or is necessarily included in the offense charged in
the former complaint or information.
The rule on double jeopardy thus prohibits the state from appealing the judgment in
order to reverse the acquittal or to increase the penalty imposed either through a regular
appeal under Rule 41 of the Rules of Court or through an appeal by certiorari on pure

questions of law under Rule 45 of the same Rules.74 The requisites for invoking double
jeopardy are the following: (a) there is a valid complaint or information; (b) it is filed
before a competent court; (c) the defendant pleaded to the charge; and (d) the
defendant was acquitted or convicted, or the case against him or her was dismissed or
otherwise terminated without the defendants express consent.75
As we have reiterated in People v. Court of Appeals and Galicia, "[a] verdict of acquittal
is immediately final and a reexamination of the merits of such acquittal, even in the
appellate courts, will put the accused in jeopardy for the same offense. The finality-ofacquittal doctrine has several avowed purposes. Primarily, it prevents the State from
using its criminal processes as an instrument of harassment to wear out the accused by
a multitude of cases with accumulated trials. It also serves the additional purpose of
precluding the State, following an acquittal, from successively retrying the defendant in
the hope of securing a conviction. And finally, it prevents the State, following conviction,
from retrying the defendant again in the hope of securing a greater penalty."76 We
further stressed that "an acquitted defendant is entitled to the right of repose as a direct
consequence of the finality of his acquittal."77
This prohibition, however, is not absolute. The state may challenge the lower courts
acquittal of the accused or the imposition of a lower penalty on the latter in the following
recognized exceptions: (1) where the prosecution is deprived of a fair opportunity to
prosecute and prove its case, tantamount to a deprivation of due process;78 (2) where
there is a finding of mistrial;79 or (3) where there has been a grave abuse of
discretion.80
The third instance refers to this Courts judicial power under Rule 65 to determine
whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess
of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the government.81 Here,
the party asking for the review must show the presence of a whimsical or capricious
exercise of judgment equivalent to lack of jurisdiction; a patent and gross abuse of
discretion amounting to an evasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform a
duty imposed by law or to act in contemplation of law; an exercise of power in an
arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion and hostility;82 or a blatant abuse
of authority to a point so grave and so severe as to deprive the court of its very power to
dispense justice.83 In such an event, the accused cannot be considered to be at risk of
double jeopardy.84

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The Solicitor General filed a Rule 65 Petition for Certiorari, which seeks the reversal of
(1) the acquittal of Victorino et al. and (2) the conviction of Tecson et al. for the lesser
crime of slight physical injuries, both on the basis of a misappreciation of facts and
evidence. According to the Petition, "the decision of the Court of Appeals is not in
accordance with law because private complainant and petitioner were denied due
process of law when the public respondent completely ignored the a) Position Paper x x
x b) the Motion for Partial Reconsideration x x x and c) the petitioners Comment x x
x."85 Allegedly, the CA ignored evidence when it adopted the theory of individual
responsibility; set aside the finding of conspiracy by the trial court; and failed to apply
Article 4 of the Revised Penal Code.86 The Solicitor General also assails the finding
that the physical blows were inflicted only by Dizon and Villareal, as well as the
appreciation of Lenny Villas consent to hazing.87
In our view, what the Petition seeks is that we reexamine, reassess, and reweigh the
probative value of the evidence presented by the parties.88 In People v. Maquiling, we
held that grave abuse of discretion cannot be attributed to a court simply because it
allegedly misappreciated the facts and the evidence.89 Mere errors of judgment are
correctible by an appeal or a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, and
not by an application for a writ of certiorari.90 Therefore, pursuant to the rule on double
jeopardy, we are constrained to deny the Petition contra Victorino et al. the 19
acquitted fraternity members.
We, however, modify the assailed judgment as regards Tecson, Ama, Almeda, and
Bantug the four fraternity members convicted of slight physical injuries.
Indeed, we have ruled in a line of cases that the rule on double jeopardy similarly
applies when the state seeks the imposition of a higher penalty against the accused.91
We have also recognized, however, that certiorari may be used to correct an abusive
judgment upon a clear demonstration that the lower court blatantly abused its authority
to a point so grave as to deprive it of its very power to dispense justice.92 The present
case is one of those instances of grave abuse of discretion.
In imposing the penalty of slight physical injuries on Tecson, Ama, Almeda, and Bantug,
the CA reasoned thus:
Based on the medical findings, it would appear that with the exclusion of the fatal
wounds inflicted by the accused Dizon and Villareal, the injuries sustained by the victim
as a result of the physical punishment heaped on him were serious in nature. However,

by reason of the death of the victim, there can be no precise means to determine the
duration of the incapacity or the medical attendance required. To do so, at this stage
would be merely speculative. In a prosecution for this crime where the category of the
offense and the severity of the penalty depend on the period of illness or incapacity for
labor, the length of this period must likewise be proved beyond reasonable doubt in
much the same manner as the same act charged [People v. Codilla, CA-G.R. No. 4079R, June 26, 1950]. And when proof of the said period is absent, the crime committed
should be deemed only as slight physical injuries [People v. De los Santos, CA, 59 O.G.
4393, citing People v. Penesa, 81 Phil. 398]. As such, this Court is constrained to rule
that the injuries inflicted by the appellants, Tecson, Ama, Almeda and Bantug, Jr., are
only slight and not serious, in nature.93 (Emphasis supplied and citations included)
The appellate court relied on our ruling in People v. Penesa94 in finding that the four
accused should be held guilty only of slight physical injuries. According to the CA,
because of "the death of the victim, there can be no precise means to determine the
duration of the incapacity or medical attendance required."95 The reliance on Penesa
was utterly misplaced. A review of that case would reveal that the accused therein was
guilty merely of slight physical injuries, because the victims injuries neither caused
incapacity for labor nor required medical attendance.96 Furthermore, he did not die.97
His injuries were not even serious.98 Since Penesa involved a case in which the victim
allegedly suffered physical injuries and not death, the ruling cited by the CA was patently
inapplicable.
On the contrary, the CAs ultimate conclusion that Tecson, Ama, Almeda, and Bantug
were liable merely for slight physical injuries grossly contradicts its own findings of fact.
According to the court, the four accused "were found to have inflicted more than the
usual punishment undertaken during such initiation rites on the person of Villa."99 It
then adopted the NBI medico-legal officers findings that the antecedent cause of Lenny
Villas death was the "multiple traumatic injuries" he suffered from the initiation rites.100
Considering that the CA found that the "physical punishment heaped on [Lenny Villa
was] serious in nature,"101 it was patently erroneous for the court to limit the criminal
liability to slight physical injuries, which is a light felony.
Article 4(1) of the Revised Penal Code dictates that the perpetrator shall be liable for the
consequences of an act, even if its result is different from that intended. Thus, once a
person is found to have committed an initial felonious act, such as the unlawful infliction
of physical injuries that results in the death of the victim, courts are required to

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automatically apply the legal framework governing the destruction of life. This rule is
mandatory, and not subject to discretion.
The CAs application of the legal framework governing physical injuries punished
under Articles 262 to 266 for intentional felonies and Article 365 for culpable felonies
is therefore tantamount to a whimsical, capricious, and abusive exercise of judgment
amounting to lack of jurisdiction. According to the Revised Penal Code, the mandatory
and legally imposable penalty in case the victim dies should be based on the framework
governing the destruction of the life of a person, punished under Articles 246 to 261 for
intentional felonies and Article 365 for culpable felonies, and not under the
aforementioned provisions. We emphasize that these two types of felonies are distinct
from and legally inconsistent with each other, in that the accused cannot be held
criminally liable for physical injuries when actual death occurs.102
Attributing criminal liability solely to Villareal and Dizon as if only their acts, in and of
themselves, caused the death of Lenny Villa is contrary to the CAs own findings.
From proof that the death of the victim was the cumulative effect of the multiple injuries
he suffered,103 the only logical conclusion is that criminal responsibility should redound
to all those who have been proven to have directly participated in the infliction of
physical injuries on Lenny. The accumulation of bruising on his body caused him to
suffer cardiac arrest. Accordingly, we find that the CA committed grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in finding Tecson, Ama, Almeda,
and Bantug criminally liable for slight physical injuries. As an allowable exception to the
rule on double jeopardy, we therefore give due course to the Petition in G.R. No.
154954.
Resolution on Ultimate Findings
According to the trial court, although hazing was not (at the time) punishable as a crime,
the intentional infliction of physical injuries on Villa was nonetheless a felonious act
under Articles 263 to 266 of the Revised Penal Code. Thus, in ruling against the
accused, the court a quo found that pursuant to Article 4(1) of the Revised Penal Code,
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.104
The CA modified the trial courts 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 of their individual acts.
Accordingly, 19 of the accused Victorino et al. were acquitted; 4 of them Tecson et
al. were found guilty of slight physical injuries; and the remaining 2 Dizon and
Villareal were found guilty of homicide.
The issue at hand does not concern a typical criminal case wherein the perpetrator
clearly commits a felony in order to take revenge upon, to gain advantage over, to harm
maliciously, or to get even with, the victim. Rather, the case involves an ex ante situation
in which a man driven by his own desire to join a society of men pledged to go
through physically and psychologically strenuous admission rituals, just so he could
enter the fraternity. Thus, in order to understand how our criminal laws apply to such
situation absent the Anti-Hazing Law, we deem it necessary to make a brief exposition
on the underlying concepts shaping intentional felonies, as well as on the nature of
physical and psychological initiations widely known as hazing.
Intentional Felony and Conspiracy
Our Revised Penal Code belongs to the classical school of thought.105 The classical
theory posits that a human person is essentially a moral creature with an absolute free
will to choose between good and evil.106 It asserts that one should only be adjudged or
held accountable for wrongful acts so long as free will appears unimpaired.107 The
basic postulate of the classical penal system is that humans are rational and calculating
beings who guide their actions with reference to the principles of pleasure and pain.108
They refrain from criminal acts if threatened with punishment sufficient to cancel the
hope of possible gain or advantage in committing the crime.109 Here, criminal liability is
thus based on the free will and moral blame of the actor.110 The identity of mens rea
defined as a guilty mind, a guilty or wrongful purpose or criminal intent is the
predominant consideration.111 Thus, it is not enough to do what the law prohibits.112 In
order for an intentional felony to exist, it is necessary that the act be committed by
means of dolo or "malice."113
The term "dolo" or "malice" is a complex idea involving the elements of freedom,
intelligence, and intent.114 The first element, freedom, refers to an act done with
deliberation and with power to choose between two things.115 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.116 The last element, intent,
involves an aim or a determination to do a certain act.117

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The element of intent on which this Court shall focus is described as the state of
mind accompanying an act, especially a forbidden act.118 It refers to the purpose of the
mind and the resolve with which a person proceeds.119 It does not refer to mere will, for
the latter pertains to the act, while intent concerns the result of the act.120 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.121 On the other hand, the
term "felonious" means, inter alia, malicious, villainous, and/or proceeding from an evil
heart or purpose.122 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."123 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.124 As is required of the other elements of
a felony, the existence of malicious intent must be proven beyond reasonable doubt.125
In turn, the existence of malicious intent is necessary in order for conspiracy to attach.
Article 8 of the Revised Penal Code 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 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.126 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.127 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.128
The presence of an initial malicious intent to commit a felony is thus a vital ingredient in
establishing the commission of the intentional felony of homicide.129 Being mala in se,
the felony of homicide requires the existence of malice or dolo130 immediately before or
simultaneously with the infliction of injuries.131 Intent to kill or animus interficendi
cannot and should not be inferred, unless there is proof beyond reasonable doubt of
such intent.132 Furthermore, the victims death must not have been the product of
accident, natural cause, or suicide.133 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.134
Hazing and other forms of initiation rites
The notion of hazing is not a recent development in our society.135 It is said that,
throughout history, hazing in some form or another has been associated with
organizations ranging from military groups to indigenous tribes.136 Some say that
elements of hazing can be traced back to the Middle Ages, during which new students
who enrolled in European universities worked as servants for upperclassmen.137 It is
believed that the concept of hazing is rooted in ancient Greece,138 where young men
recruited into the military were tested with pain or challenged to demonstrate the limits of
their loyalty and to prepare the recruits for battle.139 Modern fraternities and sororities
espouse some connection to these values of ancient Greek civilization.140 According to
a scholar, this concept lends historical legitimacy to a "tradition" or "ritual" whereby
prospective members are asked to prove their worthiness and loyalty to the organization
in which they seek to attain membership through hazing.141
Thus, it is said that in the Greek fraternity system, custom requires a student wishing to
join an organization to receive an invitation in order to be a neophyte for a particular
chapter.142 The neophyte period is usually one to two semesters long.143 During the
"program," neophytes are required to interview and to get to know the active members
of the chapter; to learn chapter history; to understand the principles of the organization;
to maintain a specified grade point average; to participate in the organizations activities;
and to show dignity and respect for their fellow neophytes, the organization, and its
active and alumni members.144 Some chapters require the initiation activities for a
recruit to involve hazing acts during the entire neophyte stage.145
Hazing, as commonly understood, involves an initiation rite or ritual that serves as
prerequisite for admission to an organization.146 In hazing, the "recruit," "pledge,"
"neophyte," "initiate," "applicant" or any other term by which the organization may refer
to such a person is generally placed in embarrassing or humiliating situations, like
being forced to do menial, silly, foolish, or other similar tasks or activities.147 It
encompasses different forms of conduct that humiliate, degrade, abuse, or physically
endanger those who desire membership in the organization.148 These acts usually
involve physical or psychological suffering or injury.149

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The concept of initiation rites in the country is nothing new. In fact, more than a century
ago, our national hero Andres Bonifacio organized a secret society named
Kataastaasan Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (The Highest and
Most Venerable Association of the Sons and Daughters of the Nation).150 The
Katipunan, or KKK, started as a small confraternity believed to be inspired by European
Freemasonry, as well as by confraternities or sodalities approved by the Catholic
Church.151 The Katipunans ideology was brought home to each member through the
societys initiation ritual.152 It is said that initiates were brought to a dark room, lit by a
single point of illumination, and were asked a series of questions to determine their
fitness, loyalty, courage, and resolve.153 They were made to go through vigorous trials
such as "pagsuot sa isang lungga" or "[pagtalon] sa balon."154 It would seem that they
were also made to withstand the blow of "pangherong bakal sa pisngi" and to endure a
"matalas na punyal."155 As a final step in the ritual, the neophyte Katipunero was made
to sign membership papers with the his own blood.156
It is believed that the Greek fraternity system was transported by the Americans to the
Philippines in the late 19th century. As can be seen in the following instances, the
manner of hazing in the United States was jarringly similar to that inflicted by the Aquila
Fraternity on Lenny Villa.
Early in 1865, upperclassmen at West Point Academy forced the fourth classmen to do
exhausting physical exercises that sometimes resulted in permanent physical damage;
to eat or drink unpalatable foods; and in various ways to humiliate themselves.157 In
1901, General Douglas MacArthur got involved in a congressional investigation of
hazing at the academy during his second year at West Point.158
In Easler v. Hejaz Temple of Greenville, decided in 1985, the candidate-victim was
injured during the shriners hazing event, which was part of the initiation ceremonies for
Hejaz membership.159 The ritual involved what was known as the "mattress-rotating
barrel trick."160 It required each candidate to slide down an eight to nine-foot-high metal
board onto connected mattresses leading to a barrel, over which the candidate was
required to climb.161 Members of Hejaz would stand on each side of the mattresses
and barrel and fun-paddle candidates en route to the barrel.162
In a video footage taken in 1991, U.S. Marine paratroopers in Camp Lejeune, North
Carolina, were seen performing a ceremony in which they pinned paratrooper jump
wings directly onto the neophyte paratroopers chests.163 The victims were shown

writhing and crying out in pain as others pounded the spiked medals through the shirts
and into the chests of the victims.164
In State v. Allen, decided in 1995, the Southeast Missouri State University chapter of
Kappa Alpha Psi invited male students to enter into a pledgeship program.165 The
fraternity members subjected the pledges to repeated physical abuse including
repeated, open-hand strikes at the nape, the chest, and the back; caning of the bare
soles of the feet and buttocks; blows to the back with the use of a heavy book and a
cookie sheet while the pledges were on their hands and knees; various kicks and
punches to the body; and "body slamming," an activity in which active members of the
fraternity lifted pledges up in the air and dropped them to the ground.166 The fraternity
members then put the pledges through a seven-station circle of physical abuse.167
In Ex Parte Barran, decided in 1998, the pledge-victim went through hazing by fraternity
members of the Kappa Alpha Order at the Auburn University in Alabama.168 The
hazing included the following: (1) having to dig a ditch and jump into it after it had been
filled with water, urine, feces, dinner leftovers, and vomit; (2) receiving paddlings on the
buttocks; (3) being pushed and kicked, often onto walls or into pits and trash cans; (4)
eating foods like peppers, hot sauce, butter, and "yerks" (a mixture of hot sauce,
mayonnaise, butter, beans, and other items); (5) doing chores for the fraternity and its
members, such as cleaning the fraternity house and yard, being designated as driver,
and running errands; (6) appearing regularly at 2 a.m. "meetings," during which the
pledges would be hazed for a couple of hours; and (7) "running the gauntlet," during
which the pledges were pushed, kicked, and hit as they ran down a hallway and
descended down a flight of stairs.169
In Lloyd v. Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, decided in 1999, the victim Sylvester Lloyd
was accepted to pledge at the Cornell University chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha
Fraternity.170 He participated in initiation activities, which included various forms of
physical beatings and torture, psychological coercion and embarrassment.171
In Kenner v. Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, decided in 2002, the initiate-victim suffered
injuries from hazing activities during the fraternitys initiation rites.172 Kenner and the
other initiates went through psychological and physical hazing, including being paddled
on the buttocks for more than 200 times.173
In Morton v. State, Marcus Jones a university student in Florida sought initiation into
the campus chapter of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity during the 2005-06 academic

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year.174 The pledges efforts to join the fraternity culminated in a series of initiation
rituals conducted in four nights. Jones, together with other candidates, was blindfolded,
verbally harassed, and caned on his face and buttocks.175 In these rituals described as
"preliminaries," which lasted for two evenings, he received approximately 60 canings on
his buttocks.176 During the last two days of the hazing, the rituals intensified.177 The
pledges sustained roughly 210 cane strikes during the four-night initiation.178 Jones
and several other candidates passed out.179
The purported raison dtre behind hazing practices is the proverbial "birth by fire,"
through which the pledge who has successfully withstood the hazing proves his or her
worth.180 Some organizations even believe that hazing is the path to enlightenment. It
is said that this process enables the organization to establish unity among the pledges
and, hence, reinforces and ensures the future of the organization.181 Alleged benefits
of joining include leadership opportunities; improved academic performance; higher selfesteem; professional networking opportunities; and the esprit dcorp associated with
close, almost filial, friendship and common cause.182
Anti-Hazing laws in the U.S.
The first hazing statute in the U.S. appeared in 1874 in response to hazing in the
military.183 The hazing of recruits and plebes in the armed services was so prevalent
that Congress prohibited all forms of military hazing, harmful or not.184 It was not until
1901 that Illinois passed the first state anti-hazing law, criminalizing conduct "whereby
any one sustains an injury to his [or her] person therefrom."185
However, it was not until the 1980s and 1990s, due in large part to the efforts of the
Committee to Halt Useless College Killings and other similar organizations, that states
increasingly began to enact legislation prohibiting and/or criminalizing hazing.186 As of
2008, all but six states had enacted criminal or civil statutes proscribing hazing.187 Most
anti-hazing laws in the U.S. treat hazing as a misdemeanor and carry relatively light
consequences for even the most severe situations.188 Only a few states with antihazing laws consider hazing as a felony in case death or great bodily harm occurs.189
Under the laws of Illinois, hazing is a Class A misdemeanor, except hazing that results in
death or great bodily harm, which is a Class 4 felony.190 In a Class 4 felony, a sentence
of imprisonment shall be for a term of not less than one year and not more than three
years.191 Indiana criminal law provides that a person who recklessly, knowingly, or

intentionally performs hazing that results in serious bodily injury to a person commits
criminal recklessness, a Class D felony.192
The offense becomes a Class C felony if committed by means of a deadly weapon.193
As an element of a Class C felony criminal recklessness resulting in serious bodily
injury, death falls under the category of "serious bodily injury."194 A person who
commits a Class C felony is imprisoned for a fixed term of between two (2) and eight (8)
years, with the advisory sentence being four (4) years.195 Pursuant to Missouri law,
hazing is a Class A misdemeanor, unless the act creates a substantial risk to the life of
the student or prospective member, in which case it becomes a Class C felony.196 A
Class C felony provides for an imprisonment term not to exceed seven years.197
In Texas, hazing that causes the death of another is a state jail felony.198 An individual
adjudged guilty of a state jail felony is punished by confinement in a state jail for any
term of not more than two years or not less than 180 days.199 Under Utah law, if hazing
results in serious bodily injury, the hazer is guilty of a third-degree felony.200 A person
who has been convicted of a third-degree felony may be sentenced to imprisonment for
a term not to exceed five years.201 West Virginia law provides that if the act of hazing
would otherwise be deemed a felony, the hazer may be found guilty thereof and subject
to penalties provided therefor.202 In Wisconsin, a person is guilty of a Class G felony if
hazing results in the death of another.203 A Class G felony carries a fine not to exceed
$25,000 or imprisonment not to exceed 10 years, or both.204
In certain states in the U.S., victims of hazing were left with limited remedies, as there
was no hazing statute.205 This situation was exemplified in Ballou v. Sigma Nu General
Fraternity, wherein Barry Ballous family resorted to a civil action for wrongful death,
since there was no anti-hazing statute in South Carolina until 1994.206
The existence of animus interficendi or intent to kill not proven beyond reasonable doubt
The presence of an ex ante situation in this case, fraternity initiation rites does not
automatically amount to the absence of malicious intent or dolus malus. If it is proven
beyond reasonable doubt that the perpetrators were equipped with a guilty mind
whether or not there is a contextual background or factual premise they are still
criminally liable for intentional felony.
The trial court, the CA, and the Solicitor General are all in agreement that with the
exception of Villareal and Dizon accused Tecson, Ama, Almeda, and Bantug did not

20 of 90

have the animus interficendi or intent to kill Lenny Villa or the other neophytes. We shall
no longer disturb this finding.
As regards Villareal and Dizon, the CA modified the Decision of the trial court and found
that the two accused had the animus interficendi or intent to kill Lenny Villa, not merely
to inflict physical injuries on him. It justified its finding of homicide against Dizon by
holding that he had apparently been motivated by ill will while beating up Villa. Dizon
kept repeating that his fathers parking space had been stolen by the victims father.207
As to Villareal, the court said that the accused suspected the family of Bienvenido
Marquez, one of the neophytes, to have had a hand in the death of Villareals
brother.208 The CA then ruled as follows:
The two had their own axes to grind against Villa and Marquez. It was very clear that
they acted with evil and criminal intent. The evidence on this matter is unrebutted and so
for the death of Villa, appellants Dizon and Villareal must and should face the
consequence of their acts, that is, to be held liable for the crime of homicide.209
(Emphasis supplied)
We cannot subscribe to this conclusion.

Witness Upon arrival, we were instructed to bow our head down and to link our arms
and then the driver of the van and other members of the Aquilans who were inside left
us inside the van, sir.
xxx

xxx

xxx

Witness We heard voices shouted outside the van to the effect, "Villa akin ka,"
"Asuncion Patay ka" and the people outside pound the van, rock the van, sir.
Atty. Tadiar Will you please recall in what tone of voice and how strong a voice these
remarks uttered upon your arrival?
Witness Some were almost shouting, you could feel the sense of excitement in their
voices, sir.
xxx

xxx

xxx

Atty. Tadiar During all these times that the van was being rocked through and through,
what were the voices or utterances that you heard?

The appellate court relied mainly on the testimony of Bienvenido Marquez to determine
the existence of animus interficendi. For a full appreciation of the context in which the
supposed utterances were made, the Court deems it necessary to reproduce the
relevant portions of witness Marquezs testimony:

Witness "Villa akin ka," "Asuncion patay ka," "Recinto patay ka sa amin," etc., sir.

Witness We were brought up into [Michael Musngis] room and we were briefed as to
what to expect during the next three days and we were told the members of the fraternity
and their batch and we were also told about the fraternity song, sir.

xxx

xxx

xxx

xxx

xxx

Witness We were escorted out of [Michael Musngis] house and we were made to ride a
van and we were brought to another place in Kalookan City which I later found to be the
place of Mariano Almeda, sir.
xxx

xxx

xxx

Atty. Tadiar And those utterances and threats, how long did they continue during the
rocking of the van which lasted for 5 minutes?
xxx

xxx

Witness Even after they rocked the van, we still kept on hearing voices, sir.
xxx

xxx

Atty. Tadiar During the time that this rounds [of physical beating] were being inflicted,
was there 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.

21 of 90

Atty. Tadiar Do you recall what were those voices that you heard?
Witness One particular utterance always said was, they asked us whether "matigas pa
yan, kayang-kaya pa niyan."
Atty. Tadiar Do you know who in particular uttered those particular words that you
quote?

Express, he kept on uttering those words/statements so that it would in turn justify him
and to give me harder blows, sir.
xxx

xxx

xxx

Atty. Tadiar You mentioned about Dizon in particular mentioning that Lenny Villas father
stole the parking space allotted for his father, do you recall who were within hearing
distance when that utterance was made?

Witness I cannot particularly point to because there were utterances simultaneously, I


could not really pin point who uttered those words, sir.

Witness Yes, sir. All of the neophytes heard that utterance, sir.

xxx

xxx

xxx

xxx

xxx

xxx

Atty. Tadiar Were there any utterances that you heard during the conduct of this Bicol
Express?

Witness There were different times made this accusation so there were different people
who heard from time to time, sir.

Witness Yes, sir I heard utterances.

xxx

Atty. Tadiar Will you please recall to this Honorable Court what were the utterances that
you remember?

Atty. Tadiar Can you tell the Honorable Court when was the next accusation against
Lenny Villas father was made?

Witness For example, one person particularly Boyet Dizon stepped on my thigh, he
would say that and I quote "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 was Lenny Villa. He was
saying to the effect that "this guy, his father stole the parking space of my father," sir. So,
thats why he inflicted more pain on Villa and that went on, sir.

Witness When we were line up against the wall, Boyet Dizon came near to us and when
Lenny Villas turn, I heard him uttered those statements, sir.

Atty. Tadiar And you were referring to which particular accused?

Atty. Tadiar How were those blows inflicted?

Witness Boyet Dizon, sir.

Witness There were slaps and he knelt on Lenny Villas thighs and sometime he stand
up and he kicked his thighs and sometimes jumped at it, sir.

xxx

xxx

Atty. Tadiar What happened after he made this accusation to Lenny Villas father?
Witness He continued to inflict blows on Lenny Villa.

Atty. Tadiar When Boyet Dizon at that particular time was accusing you of having your
family have his brother killed, what was your response?

xxx

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

Atty. Tadiar We would go on to the second day but not right now. You mentioned also
that accusations made by Dizon "you or your family had his brother killed," can you

xxx

xxx

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inform this Honorable Court what exactly were the accusations that were charged
against you while inflicting blows upon you in particular?
Witness While he was inflicting blows upon me, he told me in particular if I knew that his
family who had his brother killed, and he said that his brother was an NPA, sir so I knew
that it was just a story that he made up and I said that I knew nothing about it and he
continued inflicting blows on me, sir. And another incident was when a talk was being
given, Dizon was on another part of the pelota court and I was sort of looking and we
saw that he was drinking beer, and he said and I quote: "Marquez, Marquez, ano ang
tinitingin-tingin mo diyan, ikaw yung pamilya mo ang nagpapatay sa aking kapatid, yari
ka sa akin," sir.
Atty. Tadiar What else?
Witness Thats all, sir.
Atty. Tadiar And on that first night of February 8, 1991, did ever a doctor or a physician
came around as promised to you earlier?

Judge Purisima So, you expected to be mocked at, ridiculed, humiliated etc., and the
likes?
Witness Yes, sir.
Judge Purisima You were also told beforehand that there would be physical contact?
Witness Yes, sir at the briefing.
xxx

xxx

xxx

Witness Yes, sir, because they informed that we could immediately go back to school.
All the bruises would be limited to our arms and legs, sir. So, if we wear the regular
school uniforms like long sleeves, it would be covered actually so we have no thinking
that our face would be slapped, sir.
Judge Purisima So, you mean to say that beforehand that you would have bruises on
your body but that will be covered?

Witness No, sir.210 (Emphasis supplied)


Witness Yes, sir.
On cross-examination, witness Bienvenido Marquez testified thus:
Judge Purisima When you testified on direct examination Mr. Marquez, have you stated
that there was a briefing that was conducted immediately before your initiation as
regards to what to expect during the initiation, did I hear you right?

JudgePurisima So, what kind of physical contact or implements that you expect that
would create bruises to your body?
Witness At that point I am already sure that there would be hitting by a paddling or
paddle, sir.

Witness Yes, sir.


xxx

xxx

xxx

Judge Purisima Who did the briefing?


Witness Mr. Michael Musngi, sir and Nelson Victorino.
Judge Purisima Will you kindly tell the Honorable Court what they told you to expect
during the initiation?

Judge Purisima Now, will you admit Mr. Marquez that much of the initiation procedures
is psychological in nature?
Witness Combination, sir.211 (Emphasis supplied)
xxx

xxx

xxx

Witness They told us at the time we would be brought to a particular place, we would be
mocked at, sir.

23 of 90

Atty. Jimenez The initiation that was conducted did not consist only of physical initiation,
meaning body contact, is that correct?
Witness Yes, sir.
Atty. Jimenez Part of the initiation was the so-called psychological initiation, correct?
Witness Yes, sir.
Atty. Jimenez And this consisted of making you believe of things calculated to terrify you,
scare you, correct?
Witness Yes, sir.
Atty. Jimenez In other words, the initiating masters made belief situation intended to, I
repeat, terrify you, frighten you, scare you into perhaps quitting the initiation, is this
correct?
Witness Sometimes sir, yes.
Atty. Jimenez You said on direct that while Mr. Dizon was initiating you, he said or he
was supposed to have said according to you that your family were responsible for the
killing of his brother who was an NPA, do you remember saying that?
Witness Yes, sir.
Atty. Jimenez You also said in connection with that statement said to you by Dizon that
you did not believe him because that is not true, correct?
Witness Yes, sir.
Atty. Jimenez In other words, he was only psychologizing you perhaps, the purpose as I
have mentioned before, terrifying you, scaring you or frightening you into quitting the
initiation, this is correct?
Witness No, sir, perhaps it is one but the main reason, I think, why he was saying those
things was because he wanted to inflict injury.

SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 151258

February 1, 2012

ARTEMIO VILLAREAL, Petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

The public outrage over the death of Leonardo "Lenny" Villa the victim in this case
on 10 February 1991 led to a very strong clamor to put an end to hazing.1 Due in large
part to the brave efforts of his mother, petitioner Gerarda Villa, groups were organized,
condemning his senseless and tragic death. This widespread condemnation prompted
Congress to enact a special law, which became effective in 1995, that would criminalize
hazing.2 The intent of the law was to discourage members from making hazing a
requirement for joining their sorority, fraternity, organization, or association.3 Moreover,
the law was meant to counteract the exculpatory implications of "consent" and "initial
innocent act" in the conduct of initiation rites by making the mere act of hazing
punishable or mala prohibita.4
Sadly, the Lenny Villa tragedy did not discourage hazing activities in the country.5 Within
a year of his death, six more cases of hazing-related deaths emerged those of
Frederick Cahiyang of the University of Visayas in Cebu; Raul Camaligan of San Beda
College; Felipe Narne of Pamantasan ng Araullo in Cabanatuan City; Dennis Cenedoza
of the Cavite Naval Training Center; Joselito Mangga of the Philippine Merchant Marine
Institute; and Joselito Hernandez of the University of the Philippines in Baguio City.6
Although courts must not remain indifferent to public sentiments, in this case the general
condemnation of a hazing-related death, they are still bound to observe a fundamental
principle in our criminal justice system "[N]o act constitutes a crime unless it is made
so by law."7 Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine lege. Even if an act is viewed by a large
section of the populace as immoral or injurious, it cannot be considered a crime, absent
any law prohibiting its commission. As interpreters of the law, judges are called upon to
set aside emotion, to resist being swayed by strong public sentiments, and to rule strictly
based on the elements of the offense and the facts allowed in evidence.

24 of 90

Before the Court are the consolidated cases docketed as G.R. No. 151258 (Villareal v.
People), G.R. No. 154954 (People v. Court of Appeals), G.R. No. 155101 (Dizon v.
People), and G.R. Nos. 178057 and 178080 (Villa v. Escalona).
Facts
The pertinent facts, as determined by the Court of Appeals (CA)8 and the trial court,9
are as follows:
In February 1991, seven freshmen law students
School of Law signified their intention to join the
Fraternity). They were Caesar "Bogs" Asuncion,
"Bien" Marquez III, Roberto Francis "Bert" Navera,
Jr., and Leonardo "Lenny" Villa (neophytes).

of the Ateneo de Manila University


Aquila Legis Juris Fraternity (Aquila
Samuel "Sam" Belleza, Bienvenido
Geronimo "Randy" Recinto, Felix Sy,

On the night of 8 February 1991, the neophytes were met by some members of the
Aquila Fraternity (Aquilans) at the lobby of the Ateneo Law School. They all proceeded
to Rufos Restaurant to have dinner. Afterwards, they went to the house of Michael
Musngi, also an Aquilan, who briefed the neophytes on what to expect during the
initiation rites. The latter were informed that there would be physical beatings, and that
they could quit at any time. Their initiation rites were scheduled to last for three days.
After their "briefing," they were brought to the Almeda Compound in Caloocan City for
the commencement of their initiation.
Even before the neophytes got off the van, they had already received threats and insults
from the Aquilans. As soon as the neophytes alighted from the van and walked towards
the pelota court of the Almeda compound, some of the Aquilans delivered physical
blows to them. The neophytes were then subjected to traditional forms of Aquilan
"initiation rites." These rites included the "Indian Run," which required the neophytes to
run a gauntlet of two parallel rows of Aquilans, each row delivering blows to the
neophytes; the "Bicol Express," which obliged the neophytes to sit on the floor with their
backs against the wall and their legs outstretched while the Aquilans walked, jumped, or
ran over their legs; the "Rounds," in which the neophytes were held at the back of their
pants by the "auxiliaries" (the Aquilans charged with the duty of lending assistance to
neophytes during initiation rites), while the latter were being hit with fist blows on their
arms or with knee blows on their thighs by two Aquilans; and the "Auxies Privilege
Round," in which the auxiliaries were given the opportunity to inflict physical pain on the

neophytes. During this time, the neophytes were also indoctrinated with the fraternity
principles. They survived their first day of initiation.
On the morning of their second day 9 February 1991 the neophytes were made to
present comic plays and to play rough basketball. They were also required to memorize
and recite the Aquila Fraternitys principles. Whenever they would give a wrong answer,
they would be hit on their arms or legs. Late in the afternoon, the Aquilans revived the
initiation rites proper and proceeded to torment them physically and psychologically. The
neophytes were subjected to the same manner of hazing that they endured on the first
day of initiation. After a few hours, the initiation for the day officially ended.
After a while, accused non-resident or alumni fraternity members10 Fidelito Dizon
(Dizon) and Artemio Villareal (Villareal) demanded that the rites be reopened. The head
of initiation rites, Nelson Victorino (Victorino), initially refused. Upon the insistence of
Dizon and Villareal, however, he reopened the initiation rites. The fraternity members,
including Dizon and Villareal, then subjected the neophytes to "paddling" and to
additional rounds of physical pain. Lenny received several paddle blows, one of which
was so strong it sent him sprawling to the ground. The neophytes heard him
complaining of intense pain and difficulty in breathing. After their last session of physical
beatings, Lenny could no longer walk. He had to be carried by the auxiliaries to the
carport. Again, the initiation for the day was officially ended, and the neophytes started
eating dinner. They then slept at the carport.
After an hour of sleep, the neophytes were suddenly roused by Lennys shivering and
incoherent mumblings. Initially, Villareal and Dizon dismissed these rumblings, as they
thought he was just overacting. When they realized, though, that Lenny was really
feeling cold, some of the Aquilans started helping him. They removed his clothes and
helped him through a sleeping bag to keep him warm. When his condition worsened, the
Aquilans rushed him to the hospital. Lenny was pronounced dead on arrival.
Consequently, a criminal case for homicide was filed against the following 35 Aquilans:
Twenty-six of the accused Aquilans in Criminal Case No. C-38340(91) were jointly
tried.11 On the other hand, the trial against the remaining nine accused in Criminal
Case No. C-38340 was held in abeyance due to certain matters that had to be resolved
first.12

25 of 90

On 8 November 1993, the trial court rendered judgment in Criminal Case No. C38340(91), holding the 26 accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
homicide, penalized with reclusion temporal under Article 249 of the Revised Penal
Code.13 A few weeks after the trial court rendered its judgment, or on 29 November
1993, Criminal Case No. C-38340 against the remaining nine accused commenced
anew.14
On 10 January 2002, the CA in (CA-G.R. No. 15520)15 set aside the finding of
conspiracy by the trial court in Criminal Case No. C-38340(91) and modified the criminal
liability of each of the accused according to individual participation. Accused De Leon
had by then passed away, so the following Decision applied only to the remaining 25
accused, viz:
1. Nineteen of the accused-appellants Victorino, Sabban, Lledo, Guerrero, Musngi,
Perez, De Guzman, Santos, General, Flores, Lim, Montecillo, Ranada, Mendoza,
Verdadero, Purisima, Fernandez, Abas, and Brigola (Victorino et al.) were acquitted,
as their individual guilt was not established by proof beyond reasonable doubt.
2. Four of the accused-appellants Vincent Tecson, Junel Anthony Ama, Antonio
Mariano Almeda, and Renato Bantug, Jr. (Tecson et al.) were found guilty of the crime
of slight physical injuries and sentenced to 20 days of arresto menor. They were also
ordered to jointly pay the heirs of the victim the sum of P 30,000 as indemnity.
3. Two of the accused-appellants Fidelito Dizon and Artemio Villareal were found
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of homicide under Article 249 of the
Revised Penal Code. Having found no mitigating or aggravating circumstance, the CA
sentenced them to an indeterminate sentence of 10 years of prision mayor to 17 years
of reclusion temporal. They were also ordered to indemnify, jointly and severally, the
heirs of Lenny Villa in the sum of P 50,000 and to pay the additional amount of P
1,000,000 by way of moral damages.
On 5 August 2002, the trial court in Criminal Case No. 38340 dismissed the charge
against accused Concepcion on the ground of violation of his right to speedy trial.16
Meanwhile, on different dates between the years 2003 and 2005, the trial court denied
the respective Motions to Dismiss of accused Escalona, Ramos, Saruca, and
Adriano.17 On 25 October 2006, the CA in CA-G.R. SP Nos. 89060 & 9015318
reversed the trial courts Orders and dismissed the criminal case against Escalona,
Ramos, Saruca, and Adriano on the basis of violation of their right to speedy trial.19

From the aforementioned Decisions, the five (5) consolidated Petitions were individually
brought before this Court.
G.R. No. 151258 Villareal v. People
The instant case refers to accused Villareals Petition for Review on Certiorari under
Rule 45. The Petition raises two reversible errors allegedly committed by the CA in its
Decision dated 10 January 2002 in CA-G.R. No. 15520 first, denial of due process;
and, second, conviction absent proof beyond reasonable doubt.20
While the Petition was pending before this Court, counsel for petitioner Villareal filed a
Notice of Death of Party on 10 August 2011. According to the Notice, petitioner Villareal
died on 13 March 2011. Counsel thus asserts that the subject matter of the Petition
previously filed by petitioner does not survive the death of the accused.
G.R. No. 155101 Dizon v. People
Accused Dizon filed a Rule 45 Petition for Review on Certiorari, questioning the CAs
Decision dated 10 January 2002 and Resolution dated 30 August 2002 in CA-G.R. No.
15520.21 Petitioner sets forth two main issues first, that he was denied due process
when the CA sustained the trial courts forfeiture of his right to present evidence; and,
second, that he was deprived of due process when the CA did not apply to him the
same "ratio decidendi that served as basis of acquittal of the other accused."22
As regards the first issue, the trial court made a ruling, which forfeited Dizons right to
present evidence during trial. The trial court expected Dizon to present evidence on an
earlier date since a co-accused, Antonio General, no longer presented separate
evidence during trial. According to Dizon, his right should not have been considered as
waived because he was justified in asking for a postponement. He argues that he did
not ask for a resetting of any of the hearing dates and in fact insisted that he was ready
to present evidence on the original pre-assigned schedule, and not on an earlier hearing
date.
Regarding the second issue, petitioner contends that he should have likewise been
acquitted, like the other accused, since his acts were also part of the traditional initiation
rites and were not tainted by evil motives.23 He claims that the additional paddling
session was part of the official activity of the fraternity. He also points out that one of the

26 of 90

neophytes admitted that the chairperson of the initiation rites "decided that [Lenny] was
fit enough to undergo the initiation so Mr. Villareal proceeded to do the paddling."24
Further, petitioner echoes the argument of the Solicitor General that "the individual
blows inflicted by Dizon and Villareal could not have resulted in Lennys death."25 The
Solicitor General purportedly averred that, "on the contrary, Dr. Arizala testified that the
injuries suffered by Lenny could not be considered fatal if taken individually, but if taken
collectively, the result is the violent death of the victim."26
Petitioner then counters the finding of the CA that he was motivated by ill will. He claims
that Lennys father could not have stolen the parking space of Dizons father, since the
latter did not have a car, and their fathers did not work in the same place or office.
Revenge for the loss of the parking space was the alleged ill motive of Dizon. According
to petitioner, his utterances regarding a stolen parking space were only part of the
"psychological initiation." He then cites the testimony of Lennys co-neophyte witness
Marquez who admitted knowing "it was not true and that he was just making it
up."27
Further, petitioner argues that his alleged motivation of ill will was negated by his show
of concern for Villa after the initiation rites. Dizon alludes to the testimony of one of the
neophytes, who mentioned that the former had kicked the leg of the neophyte and told
him to switch places with Lenny to prevent the latters chills. When the chills did not
stop, Dizon, together with Victorino, helped Lenny through a sleeping bag and made him
sit on a chair. According to petitioner, his alleged ill motivation is contradicted by his
manifestation of compassion and concern for the victims well-being.
G.R. No. 154954 People v. Court of Appeals
This Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 seeks the reversal of the CAs Decision dated
10 January 2002 and Resolution dated 30 August 2002 in CA-G.R. No. 15520, insofar
as it acquitted 19 (Victorino et al.) and convicted 4 (Tecson et al.) of the accused
Aquilans of the lesser crime of slight physical injuries.28 According to the Solicitor
General, the CA erred in holding that there could have been no conspiracy to commit
hazing, as hazing or fraternity initiation had not yet been criminalized at the time Lenny
died.

Aquilans are criminally liable for the resulting crime of homicide, pursuant to Article 4 of
the Revised Penal Code.29 The said article provides: "Criminal liability shall be
incurred [b]y any person committing a felony (delito) although the wrongful act done
be different from that which he intended."
Petitioner also argues that the rule on double jeopardy is inapplicable. According to the
Solicitor General, the CA acted with grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction, in setting aside the trial courts finding of conspiracy and in ruling
that the criminal liability of all the accused must be based on their individual participation
in the commission of the crime.
G.R. Nos. 178057 and 178080 Villa v. Escalona
Petitioner Villa filed the instant Petition for Review on Certiorari, praying for the reversal
of the CAs Decision dated 25 October 2006 and Resolution dated 17 May 2007 in CAG.R. S.P. Nos. 89060 and 90153.30 The Petition involves the dismissal of the criminal
charge filed against Escalona, Ramos, Saruca, and Adriano.
Due to "several pending incidents," the trial court ordered a separate trial for accused
Escalona, Saruca, Adriano, Ramos, Ampil, Concepcion, De Vera, S. Fernandez, and
Cabangon (Criminal Case No. C-38340) to commence after proceedings against the 26
other accused in Criminal Case No. C-38340(91) shall have terminated. On 8 November
1993, the trial court found the 26 accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt. As a result,
the proceedings in Criminal Case No. C-38340 involving the nine other co-accused
recommenced on 29 November 1993. For "various reasons," the initial trial of the case
did not commence until 28 March 2005, or almost 12 years after the arraignment of the
nine accused.
Petitioner Villa assails the CAs dismissal of the criminal case involving 4 of the 9
accused, namely, Escalona, Ramos, Saruca, and Adriano. She argues that the accused
failed to assert their right to speedy trial within a reasonable period of time. She also
points out that the prosecution cannot be faulted for the delay, as the original records
and the required evidence were not at its disposal, but were still in the appellate court.
We resolve herein the various issues that we group into five.

In the alternative, petitioner claims that the ruling of the trial court should have been
upheld, inasmuch as it found that there was conspiracy to inflict physical injuries on
Lenny. Since the injuries led to the victims death, petitioner posits that the accused

Issues

27 of 90

1. Whether the forfeiture of petitioner Dizons right to present evidence constitutes denial
of due process;
2. Whether the CA committed grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction when it dismissed the case against Escalona, Ramos, Saruca, and Adriano
for violation of the right of the accused to speedy trial;
3. Whether the CA committed grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction, when it set aside the finding of conspiracy by the trial court and adjudicated
the liability of each accused according to individual participation;
4. Whether accused Dizon is guilty of homicide; and
5. Whether the CA committed grave abuse of discretion when it pronounced Tecson,
Ama, Almeda, and Bantug guilty only of slight physical injuries.
Discussion
Resolution on Preliminary Matters
G.R. No. 151258 Villareal v. People
In a Notice dated 26 September 2011 and while the Petition was pending resolution, this
Court took note of counsel for petitioners Notice of Death of Party.
According to Article 89(1) of the Revised Penal Code, criminal liability for personal
penalties is totally extinguished by the death of the convict. In contrast, criminal liability
for pecuniary penalties is extinguished if the offender dies prior to final judgment. The
term "personal penalties" refers to the service of personal or imprisonment penalties,31
while the term "pecuniary penalties" (las pecuniarias) refers to fines and costs,32
including civil liability predicated on the criminal offense complained of (i.e., civil liability
ex delicto).33 However, civil liability based on a source of obligation other than the delict
survives the death of the accused and is recoverable through a separate civil action.34
Thus, we hold that the death of petitioner Villareal extinguished his criminal liability for
both personal and pecuniary penalties, including his civil liability directly arising from the
delict complained of. Consequently, his Petition is hereby dismissed, and the criminal
case against him deemed closed and terminated.

G.R. No. 155101 (Dizon v. People)


In an Order dated 28 July 1993, the trial court set the dates for the reception of evidence
for accused-petitioner Dizon on the 8th, 15th, and 22nd of September; and the 5th and
12 of October 1993.35 The Order likewise stated that "it will not entertain any
postponement and that all the accused who have not yet presented their respective
evidence should be ready at all times down the line, with their evidence on all said
dates. Failure on their part to present evidence when required shall therefore be
construed as waiver to present evidence."36
However, on 19 August 1993, counsel for another accused manifested in open court that
his client Antonio General would no longer present separate evidence. Instead, the
counsel would adopt the testimonial evidence of the other accused who had already
testified.37 Because of this development and pursuant to the trial courts Order that the
parties "should be ready at all times down the line," the trial court expected Dizon to
present evidence on the next trial date 25 August 1993 instead of his originally
assigned dates. The original dates were supposed to start two weeks later, or on 8
September 1993.38 Counsel for accused Dizon was not able to present evidence on the
accelerated date. To address the situation, counsel filed a Constancia on 25 August
1993, alleging that he had to appear in a previously scheduled case, and that he would
be ready to present evidence on the dates originally assigned to his clients.39 The trial
court denied the Manifestation on the same date and treated the Constancia as a
motion for postponement, in violation of the three-day-notice rule under the Rules of
Court.40 Consequently, the trial court ruled that the failure of Dizon to present evidence
amounted to a waiver of that right.41
Accused-petitioner Dizon thus argues that he was deprived of due process of law when
the trial court forfeited his right to present evidence. According to him, the postponement
of the 25 August 1993 hearing should have been considered justified, since his original
pre-assigned trial dates were not supposed to start until 8 September 1993, when he
was scheduled to present evidence. He posits that he was ready to present evidence on
the dates assigned to him. He also points out that he did not ask for a resetting of any of
the said hearing dates; that he in fact insisted on being allowed to present evidence on
the dates fixed by the trial court. Thus, he contends that the trial court erred in
accelerating the schedule of presentation of evidence, thereby invalidating the finding of
his guilt.

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The right of the accused to present evidence is guaranteed by no less than the
Constitution itself.42 Article III, Section 14(2) thereof, provides that "in all criminal
prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel"
This constitutional right includes the right to present evidence in ones defense,43 as
well as the right to be present and defend oneself in person at every stage of the
proceedings.44
In Crisostomo v. Sandiganbayan,45 the Sandiganbayan set the hearing of the defenses
presentation of evidence for 21, 22 and 23 June 1995. The 21 June 1995 hearing was
cancelled due to "lack of quorum in the regular membership" of the Sandiganbayans
Second Division and upon the agreement of the parties. The hearing was reset for the
next day, 22 June 1995, but Crisostomo and his counsel failed to attend. The
Sandiganbayan, on the very same day, issued an Order directing the issuance of a
warrant for the arrest of Crisostomo and the confiscation of his surety bond. The Order
further declared that he had waived his right to present evidence because of his
nonappearance at "yesterdays and todays scheduled hearings." In ruling against the
Order, we held thus:
Under Section 2(c), Rule 114 and Section 1(c), Rule 115 of the Rules of Court,
Crisostomos non-appearance during the 22 June 1995 trial was merely a waiver of his
right to be present for trial on such date only and not for the succeeding trial dates
xxx

xxx

xxx

Moreover, Crisostomos absence on the 22 June 1995 hearing should not have been
deemed as a waiver of his right to present evidence. While constitutional rights may be
waived, such waiver must be clear and must be coupled with an actual intention to
relinquish the right. Crisostomo did not voluntarily waive in person or even through his
counsel the right to present evidence. The Sandiganbayan imposed the waiver due to
the agreement of the prosecution, Calingayan, and Calingayan's counsel.
In criminal cases where the imposable penalty may be death, as in the present case, the
court is called upon to see to it that the accused is personally made aware of the
consequences of a waiver of the right to present evidence. In fact, it is not enough that
the accused is simply warned of the consequences of another failure to attend the
succeeding hearings. The court must first explain to the accused personally in clear
terms the exact nature and consequences of a waiver. Crisostomo was not even
forewarned. The Sandiganbayan simply went ahead to deprive Crisostomo of his right to

present evidence without even allowing Crisostomo to explain his absence on the 22
June 1995 hearing.
Clearly, the waiver of the right to present evidence in a criminal case involving a grave
penalty is not assumed and taken lightly. The presence of the accused and his counsel
is indispensable so that the court could personally conduct a searching inquiry into the
waiver x x x.46 (Emphasis supplied)
The trial court should not have deemed the failure of petitioner to present evidence on
25 August 1993 as a waiver of his right to present evidence. On the contrary, it should
have considered the excuse of counsel justified, especially since counsel for another
accused General had made a last-minute adoption of testimonial evidence that freed
up the succeeding trial dates; and since Dizon was not scheduled to testify until two
weeks later. At any rate, the trial court pre-assigned five hearing dates for the reception
of evidence. If it really wanted to impose its Order strictly, the most it could have done
was to forfeit one out of the five days set for Dizons testimonial evidence. Stripping the
accused of all his pre-assigned trial dates constitutes a patent denial of the
constitutionally guaranteed right to due process.
Nevertheless, as in the case of an improvident guilty plea, an invalid waiver of the right
to present evidence and be heard does not per se work to vacate a finding of guilt in the
criminal case or to enforce an automatic remand of the case to the trial court.47 In
People v. Bodoso, we ruled that where facts have adequately been represented in a
criminal case, and no procedural unfairness or irregularity has prejudiced either the
prosecution or the defense as a result of the invalid waiver, the rule is that a guilty
verdict may nevertheless be upheld if the judgment is supported beyond reasonable
doubt by the evidence on record.48
We do not see any material inadequacy in the relevant facts on record to resolve the
case at bar. Neither can we see any "procedural unfairness or irregularity" that would
substantially prejudice either the prosecution or the defense as a result of the invalid
waiver. In fact, the arguments set forth by accused Dizon in his Petition corroborate the
material facts relevant to decide the matter. Instead, what he is really contesting in his
Petition is the application of the law to the facts by the trial court and the CA. Petitioner
Dizon admits direct participation in the hazing of Lenny Villa by alleging in his Petition
that "all actions of the petitioner were part of the traditional rites," and that "the alleged
extension of the initiation rites was not outside the official activity of the fraternity."49 He

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even argues that "Dizon did not request for the extension and he participated only after
the activity was sanctioned."50
For one reason or another, the case has been passed or turned over from one judge or
justice to another at the trial court, at the CA, and even at the Supreme Court.
Remanding the case for the reception of the evidence of petitioner Dizon would only
inflict further injustice on the parties. This case has been going on for almost two
decades. Its resolution is long overdue. Since the key facts necessary to decide the
case have already been determined, we shall proceed to decide it.
G.R. Nos. 178057 and 178080 (Villa v. Escalona)
Petitioner Villa argues that the case against Escalona, Ramos, Saruca, and Adriano
should not have been dismissed, since they failed to assert their right to speedy trial
within a reasonable period of time. She points out that the accused failed to raise a
protest during the dormancy of the criminal case against them, and that they asserted
their right only after the trial court had dismissed the case against their co-accused
Concepcion. Petitioner also emphasizes that the trial court denied the respective
Motions to Dismiss filed by Saruca, Escalona, Ramos, and Adriano, because it found
that "the prosecution could not be faulted for the delay in the movement of this case
when the original records and the evidence it may require were not at its disposal as
these were in the Court of Appeals."51
The right of the accused to a speedy trial has been enshrined in Sections 14(2) and 16,
Article III of the 1987 Constitution.52 This right requires that there be a trial free from
vexatious, capricious or oppressive delays.53 The right is deemed violated when the
proceeding is attended with unjustified postponements of trial, or when a long period of
time is allowed to elapse without the case being tried and for no cause or justifiable
motive.54 In determining the right of the accused to speedy trial, courts should do more
than a mathematical computation of the number of postponements of the scheduled
hearings of the case.55 The conduct of both the prosecution and the defense must be
weighed.56 Also to be considered are factors such as the length of delay, the assertion
or non-assertion of the right, and the prejudice wrought upon the defendant.57
We have consistently ruled in a long line of cases that a dismissal of the case pursuant
to the right of the accused to speedy trial is tantamount to acquittal.58 As a
consequence, an appeal or a reconsideration of the dismissal would amount to a
violation of the principle of double jeopardy.59 As we have previously discussed,

however, where the dismissal of the case is capricious, certiorari lies.60 The rule on
double jeopardy is not triggered when a petition challenges the validity of the order of
dismissal instead of the correctness thereof.61 Rather, grave abuse of discretion
amounts to lack of jurisdiction, and lack of jurisdiction prevents double jeopardy from
attaching.62
We do not see grave abuse of discretion in the CAs dismissal of the case against
accused Escalona, Ramos, Saruca, and Adriano on the basis of the violation of their
right to speedy trial. The court held thus:
An examination of the procedural history of this case would reveal that the following
factors contributed to the slow progress of the proceedings in the case below:
xxx

xxx

xxx

5) The fact that the records of the case were elevated to the Court of Appeals and the
prosecutions failure to comply with the order of the court a quo requiring them to secure
certified true copies of the same.
xxx

xxx

xxx

While we are prepared to concede that some of the foregoing factors that contributed to
the delay of the trial of the petitioners are justifiable, We nonetheless hold that their right
to speedy trial has been utterly violated in this case x x x.
xxx

xxx

xxx

[T]he absence of the records in the trial court [was] due to the fact that the records of the
case were elevated to the Court of Appeals, and the prosecutions failure to comply with
the order of the court a quo requiring it to secure certified true copies of the same. What
is glaring from the records is the fact that as early as September 21, 1995, the court a
quo already issued an Order requiring the prosecution, through the Department of
Justice, to secure the complete records of the case from the Court of Appeals. The
prosecution did not comply with the said Order as in fact, the same directive was
repeated by the court a quo in an Order dated December 27, 1995. Still, there was no
compliance on the part of the prosecution. It is not stated when such order was
complied with. It appears, however, that even until August 5, 2002, the said records

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were still not at the disposal of the trial court because the lack of it was made the basis
of the said court in granting the motion to dismiss filed by co-accused Concepcion x x x.
xxx

xxx

the records that would show that the subject of this Petition includes accused Ampil, S.
Fernandez, Cabangon, and De Vera, the effects of this ruling shall be limited to accused
Escalona, Ramos, Saruca, and Adriano.

xxx
G.R. No. 154954 (People v. Court of Appeals)

It is likewise noticeable that from December 27, 1995, until August 5, 2002, or for a
period of almost seven years, there was no action at all on the part of the court a quo.
Except for the pleadings filed by both the prosecution and the petitioners, the latest of
which was on January 29, 1996, followed by petitioner Sarucas motion to set case for
trial on August 17, 1998 which the court did not act upon, the case remained dormant
for a considerable length of time. This prolonged inactivity whatsoever is precisely the
kind of delay that the constitution frowns upon x x x.63 (Emphasis supplied)
This Court points out that on 10 January 1992, the final amended Information was filed
against Escalona, Ramos, Saruca, Ampil, S. Fernandez, Adriano, Cabangon,
Concepcion, and De Vera.64 On 29 November 1993, they were all arraigned.65
Unfortunately, the initial trial of the case did not commence until 28 March 2005 or
almost 12 years after arraignment.66
As illustrated in our ruling in Abardo v. Sandiganbayan, the unexplained interval or
inactivity of the Sandiganbayan for close to five years since the arraignment of the
accused amounts to an unreasonable delay in the disposition of cases a clear
violation of the right of the accused to a speedy disposition of cases.67 Thus, we held:
The delay in this case measures up to the unreasonableness of the delay in the
disposition of cases in Angchangco, Jr. vs. Ombudsman, where the Court found the
delay of six years by the Ombudsman in resolving the criminal complaints to be violative
of the constitutionally guaranteed right to a speedy disposition of cases; similarly, in
Roque vs. Office of the Ombudsman, where the Court held that the delay of almost six
years disregarded the Ombudsman's duty to act promptly on complaints before him; and
in Cervantes vs. Sandiganbayan, where the Court held that the Sandiganbayan gravely
abused its discretion in not quashing the information which was filed six years after the
initiatory complaint was filed and thereby depriving petitioner of his right to a speedy
disposition of the case. So it must be in the instant case, where the reinvestigation by
the Ombudsman has dragged on for a decade already.68 (Emphasis supplied)
From the foregoing principles, we affirm the ruling of the CA in CA-G.R. SP No. 89060
that accused Escalona et al.s right to speedy trial was violated. Since there is nothing in

The rule on double jeopardy is one of the pillars of our criminal justice system. It dictates
that when a person is charged with an offense, and the case is terminated either by
acquittal or conviction or in any other manner without the consent of the accused the
accused cannot again be charged with the same or an identical offense.69 This
principle is founded upon the law of reason, justice and conscience.70 It is embodied in
the civil law maxim non bis in idem found in the common law of England and
undoubtedly in every system of jurisprudence.71 It found expression in the Spanish Law,
in the Constitution of the United States, and in our own Constitution as one of the
fundamental rights of the citizen,72 viz:
Article III Bill of Rights
Section 21. No person shall be twice put in jeopardy of punishment for the same
offense. If an act is punished by a law and an ordinance, conviction or acquittal under
either shall constitute a bar to another prosecution for the same act.
Rule 117, Section 7 of the Rules of Court, which implements this particular
constitutional right, provides as follows:73
SEC. 7. Former conviction or acquittal; double jeopardy. When an accused has been
convicted or acquitted, or the case against him dismissed or otherwise terminated
without his express consent by a court of competent jurisdiction, upon a valid complaint
or information or other formal charge sufficient in form and substance to sustain a
conviction and after the accused had pleaded to the charge, the conviction or acquittal
of the accused or the dismissal of the case shall be a bar to another prosecution for the
offense charged, or for any attempt to commit the same or frustration thereof, or for any
offense which necessarily includes or is necessarily included in the offense charged in
the former complaint or information.
The rule on double jeopardy thus prohibits the state from appealing the judgment in
order to reverse the acquittal or to increase the penalty imposed either through a regular
appeal under Rule 41 of the Rules of Court or through an appeal by certiorari on pure

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questions of law under Rule 45 of the same Rules.74 The requisites for invoking double
jeopardy are the following: (a) there is a valid complaint or information; (b) it is filed
before a competent court; (c) the defendant pleaded to the charge; and (d) the
defendant was acquitted or convicted, or the case against him or her was dismissed or
otherwise terminated without the defendants express consent.75
As we have reiterated in People v. Court of Appeals and Galicia, "[a] verdict of acquittal
is immediately final and a reexamination of the merits of such acquittal, even in the
appellate courts, will put the accused in jeopardy for the same offense. The finality-ofacquittal doctrine has several avowed purposes. Primarily, it prevents the State from
using its criminal processes as an instrument of harassment to wear out the accused by
a multitude of cases with accumulated trials. It also serves the additional purpose of
precluding the State, following an acquittal, from successively retrying the defendant in
the hope of securing a conviction. And finally, it prevents the State, following conviction,
from retrying the defendant again in the hope of securing a greater penalty."76 We
further stressed that "an acquitted defendant is entitled to the right of repose as a direct
consequence of the finality of his acquittal."77
This prohibition, however, is not absolute. The state may challenge the lower courts
acquittal of the accused or the imposition of a lower penalty on the latter in the following
recognized exceptions: (1) where the prosecution is deprived of a fair opportunity to
prosecute and prove its case, tantamount to a deprivation of due process;78 (2) where
there is a finding of mistrial;79 or (3) where there has been a grave abuse of
discretion.80
The third instance refers to this Courts judicial power under Rule 65 to determine
whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess
of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the government.81 Here,
the party asking for the review must show the presence of a whimsical or capricious
exercise of judgment equivalent to lack of jurisdiction; a patent and gross abuse of
discretion amounting to an evasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform a
duty imposed by law or to act in contemplation of law; an exercise of power in an
arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion and hostility;82 or a blatant abuse
of authority to a point so grave and so severe as to deprive the court of its very power to
dispense justice.83 In such an event, the accused cannot be considered to be at risk of
double jeopardy.84

The Solicitor General filed a Rule 65 Petition for Certiorari, which seeks the reversal of
(1) the acquittal of Victorino et al. and (2) the conviction of Tecson et al. for the lesser
crime of slight physical injuries, both on the basis of a misappreciation of facts and
evidence. According to the Petition, "the decision of the Court of Appeals is not in
accordance with law because private complainant and petitioner were denied due
process of law when the public respondent completely ignored the a) Position Paper x x
x b) the Motion for Partial Reconsideration x x x and c) the petitioners Comment x x
x."85 Allegedly, the CA ignored evidence when it adopted the theory of individual
responsibility; set aside the finding of conspiracy by the trial court; and failed to apply
Article 4 of the Revised Penal Code.86 The Solicitor General also assails the finding
that the physical blows were inflicted only by Dizon and Villareal, as well as the
appreciation of Lenny Villas consent to hazing.87
In our view, what the Petition seeks is that we reexamine, reassess, and reweigh the
probative value of the evidence presented by the parties.88 In People v. Maquiling, we
held that grave abuse of discretion cannot be attributed to a court simply because it
allegedly misappreciated the facts and the evidence.89 Mere errors of judgment are
correctible by an appeal or a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, and
not by an application for a writ of certiorari.90 Therefore, pursuant to the rule on double
jeopardy, we are constrained to deny the Petition contra Victorino et al. the 19
acquitted fraternity members.
We, however, modify the assailed judgment as regards Tecson, Ama, Almeda, and
Bantug the four fraternity members convicted of slight physical injuries.
Indeed, we have ruled in a line of cases that the rule on double jeopardy similarly
applies when the state seeks the imposition of a higher penalty against the accused.91
We have also recognized, however, that certiorari may be used to correct an abusive
judgment upon a clear demonstration that the lower court blatantly abused its authority
to a point so grave as to deprive it of its very power to dispense justice.92 The present
case is one of those instances of grave abuse of discretion.
In imposing the penalty of slight physical injuries on Tecson, Ama, Almeda, and Bantug,
the CA reasoned thus:
Based on the medical findings, it would appear that with the exclusion of the fatal
wounds inflicted by the accused Dizon and Villareal, the injuries sustained by the victim
as a result of the physical punishment heaped on him were serious in nature. However,

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by reason of the death of the victim, there can be no precise means to determine the
duration of the incapacity or the medical attendance required. To do so, at this stage
would be merely speculative. In a prosecution for this crime where the category of the
offense and the severity of the penalty depend on the period of illness or incapacity for
labor, the length of this period must likewise be proved beyond reasonable doubt in
much the same manner as the same act charged [People v. Codilla, CA-G.R. No. 4079R, June 26, 1950]. And when proof of the said period is absent, the crime committed
should be deemed only as slight physical injuries [People v. De los Santos, CA, 59 O.G.
4393, citing People v. Penesa, 81 Phil. 398]. As such, this Court is constrained to rule
that the injuries inflicted by the appellants, Tecson, Ama, Almeda and Bantug, Jr., are
only slight and not serious, in nature.93 (Emphasis supplied and citations included)
The appellate court relied on our ruling in People v. Penesa94 in finding that the four
accused should be held guilty only of slight physical injuries. According to the CA,
because of "the death of the victim, there can be no precise means to determine the
duration of the incapacity or medical attendance required."95 The reliance on Penesa
was utterly misplaced. A review of that case would reveal that the accused therein was
guilty merely of slight physical injuries, because the victims injuries neither caused
incapacity for labor nor required medical attendance.96 Furthermore, he did not die.97
His injuries were not even serious.98 Since Penesa involved a case in which the victim
allegedly suffered physical injuries and not death, the ruling cited by the CA was patently
inapplicable.
On the contrary, the CAs ultimate conclusion that Tecson, Ama, Almeda, and Bantug
were liable merely for slight physical injuries grossly contradicts its own findings of fact.
According to the court, the four accused "were found to have inflicted more than the
usual punishment undertaken during such initiation rites on the person of Villa."99 It
then adopted the NBI medico-legal officers findings that the antecedent cause of Lenny
Villas death was the "multiple traumatic injuries" he suffered from the initiation rites.100
Considering that the CA found that the "physical punishment heaped on [Lenny Villa
was] serious in nature,"101 it was patently erroneous for the court to limit the criminal
liability to slight physical injuries, which is a light felony.
Article 4(1) of the Revised Penal Code dictates that the perpetrator shall be liable for the
consequences of an act, even if its result is different from that intended. Thus, once a
person is found to have committed an initial felonious act, such as the unlawful infliction
of physical injuries that results in the death of the victim, courts are required to

automatically apply the legal framework governing the destruction of life. This rule is
mandatory, and not subject to discretion.
The CAs application of the legal framework governing physical injuries punished
under Articles 262 to 266 for intentional felonies and Article 365 for culpable felonies
is therefore tantamount to a whimsical, capricious, and abusive exercise of judgment
amounting to lack of jurisdiction. According to the Revised Penal Code, the mandatory
and legally imposable penalty in case the victim dies should be based on the framework
governing the destruction of the life of a person, punished under Articles 246 to 261 for
intentional felonies and Article 365 for culpable felonies, and not under the
aforementioned provisions. We emphasize that these two types of felonies are distinct
from and legally inconsistent with each other, in that the accused cannot be held
criminally liable for physical injuries when actual death occurs.102
Attributing criminal liability solely to Villareal and Dizon as if only their acts, in and of
themselves, caused the death of Lenny Villa is contrary to the CAs own findings.
From proof that the death of the victim was the cumulative effect of the multiple injuries
he suffered,103 the only logical conclusion is that criminal responsibility should redound
to all those who have been proven to have directly participated in the infliction of
physical injuries on Lenny. The accumulation of bruising on his body caused him to
suffer cardiac arrest. Accordingly, we find that the CA committed grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in finding Tecson, Ama, Almeda,
and Bantug criminally liable for slight physical injuries. As an allowable exception to the
rule on double jeopardy, we therefore give due course to the Petition in G.R. No.
154954.
Resolution on Ultimate Findings
According to the trial court, although hazing was not (at the time) punishable as a crime,
the intentional infliction of physical injuries on Villa was nonetheless a felonious act
under Articles 263 to 266 of the Revised Penal Code. Thus, in ruling against the
accused, the court a quo found that pursuant to Article 4(1) of the Revised Penal Code,
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.104
The CA modified the trial courts 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

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members, therefore, were liable only for the consequences of their individual acts.
Accordingly, 19 of the accused Victorino et al. were acquitted; 4 of them Tecson et
al. were found guilty of slight physical injuries; and the remaining 2 Dizon and
Villareal were found guilty of homicide.
The issue at hand does not concern a typical criminal case wherein the perpetrator
clearly commits a felony in order to take revenge upon, to gain advantage over, to harm
maliciously, or to get even with, the victim. Rather, the case involves an ex ante situation
in which a man driven by his own desire to join a society of men pledged to go
through physically and psychologically strenuous admission rituals, just so he could
enter the fraternity. Thus, in order to understand how our criminal laws apply to such
situation absent the Anti-Hazing Law, we deem it necessary to make a brief exposition
on the underlying concepts shaping intentional felonies, as well as on the nature of
physical and psychological initiations widely known as hazing.

The element of intent on which this Court shall focus is described as the state of
mind accompanying an act, especially a forbidden act.118 It refers to the purpose of the
mind and the resolve with which a person proceeds.119 It does not refer to mere will, for
the latter pertains to the act, while intent concerns the result of the act.120 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.121 On the other hand, the
term "felonious" means, inter alia, malicious, villainous, and/or proceeding from an evil
heart or purpose.122 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."123 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.124 As is required of the other elements of
a felony, the existence of malicious intent must be proven beyond reasonable doubt.125

Intentional Felony and Conspiracy


Our Revised Penal Code belongs to the classical school of thought.105 The classical
theory posits that a human person is essentially a moral creature with an absolute free
will to choose between good and evil.106 It asserts that one should only be adjudged or
held accountable for wrongful acts so long as free will appears unimpaired.107 The
basic postulate of the classical penal system is that humans are rational and calculating
beings who guide their actions with reference to the principles of pleasure and pain.108
They refrain from criminal acts if threatened with punishment sufficient to cancel the
hope of possible gain or advantage in committing the crime.109 Here, criminal liability is
thus based on the free will and moral blame of the actor.110 The identity of mens rea
defined as a guilty mind, a guilty or wrongful purpose or criminal intent is the
predominant consideration.111 Thus, it is not enough to do what the law prohibits.112 In
order for an intentional felony to exist, it is necessary that the act be committed by
means of dolo or "malice."113
The term "dolo" or "malice" is a complex idea involving the elements of freedom,
intelligence, and intent.114 The first element, freedom, refers to an act done with
deliberation and with power to choose between two things.115 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.116 The last element, intent,
involves an aim or a determination to do a certain act.117

In turn, the existence of malicious intent is necessary in order for conspiracy to attach.
Article 8 of the Revised Penal Code 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 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.126 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.127 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.128
The presence of an initial malicious intent to commit a felony is thus a vital ingredient in
establishing the commission of the intentional felony of homicide.129 Being mala in se,
the felony of homicide requires the existence of malice or dolo130 immediately before or
simultaneously with the infliction of injuries.131 Intent to kill or animus interficendi
cannot and should not be inferred, unless there is proof beyond reasonable doubt of
such intent.132 Furthermore, the victims death must not have been the product of
accident, natural cause, or suicide.133 If death resulted from an act executed without
malice or criminal intent but with lack of foresight, carelessness, or negligence the

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act must be qualified as reckless or simple negligence or imprudence resulting in


homicide.134
Hazing and other forms of initiation rites
The notion of hazing is not a recent development in our society.135 It is said that,
throughout history, hazing in some form or another has been associated with
organizations ranging from military groups to indigenous tribes.136 Some say that
elements of hazing can be traced back to the Middle Ages, during which new students
who enrolled in European universities worked as servants for upperclassmen.137 It is
believed that the concept of hazing is rooted in ancient Greece,138 where young men
recruited into the military were tested with pain or challenged to demonstrate the limits of
their loyalty and to prepare the recruits for battle.139 Modern fraternities and sororities
espouse some connection to these values of ancient Greek civilization.140 According to
a scholar, this concept lends historical legitimacy to a "tradition" or "ritual" whereby
prospective members are asked to prove their worthiness and loyalty to the organization
in which they seek to attain membership through hazing.141
Thus, it is said that in the Greek fraternity system, custom requires a student wishing to
join an organization to receive an invitation in order to be a neophyte for a particular
chapter.142 The neophyte period is usually one to two semesters long.143 During the
"program," neophytes are required to interview and to get to know the active members
of the chapter; to learn chapter history; to understand the principles of the organization;
to maintain a specified grade point average; to participate in the organizations activities;
and to show dignity and respect for their fellow neophytes, the organization, and its
active and alumni members.144 Some chapters require the initiation activities for a
recruit to involve hazing acts during the entire neophyte stage.145
Hazing, as commonly understood, involves an initiation rite or ritual that serves as
prerequisite for admission to an organization.146 In hazing, the "recruit," "pledge,"
"neophyte," "initiate," "applicant" or any other term by which the organization may refer
to such a person is generally placed in embarrassing or humiliating situations, like
being forced to do menial, silly, foolish, or other similar tasks or activities.147 It
encompasses different forms of conduct that humiliate, degrade, abuse, or physically
endanger those who desire membership in the organization.148 These acts usually
involve physical or psychological suffering or injury.149

The concept of initiation rites in the country is nothing new. In fact, more than a century
ago, our national hero Andres Bonifacio organized a secret society named
Kataastaasan Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (The Highest and
Most Venerable Association of the Sons and Daughters of the Nation).150 The
Katipunan, or KKK, started as a small confraternity believed to be inspired by European
Freemasonry, as well as by confraternities or sodalities approved by the Catholic
Church.151 The Katipunans ideology was brought home to each member through the
societys initiation ritual.152 It is said that initiates were brought to a dark room, lit by a
single point of illumination, and were asked a series of questions to determine their
fitness, loyalty, courage, and resolve.153 They were made to go through vigorous trials
such as "pagsuot sa isang lungga" or "[pagtalon] sa balon."154 It would seem that they
were also made to withstand the blow of "pangherong bakal sa pisngi" and to endure a
"matalas na punyal."155 As a final step in the ritual, the neophyte Katipunero was made
to sign membership papers with the his own blood.156
It is believed that the Greek fraternity system was transported by the Americans to the
Philippines in the late 19th century. As can be seen in the following instances, the
manner of hazing in the United States was jarringly similar to that inflicted by the Aquila
Fraternity on Lenny Villa.
Early in 1865, upperclassmen at West Point Academy forced the fourth classmen to do
exhausting physical exercises that sometimes resulted in permanent physical damage;
to eat or drink unpalatable foods; and in various ways to humiliate themselves.157 In
1901, General Douglas MacArthur got involved in a congressional investigation of
hazing at the academy during his second year at West Point.158
In Easler v. Hejaz Temple of Greenville, decided in 1985, the candidate-victim was
injured during the shriners hazing event, which was part of the initiation ceremonies for
Hejaz membership.159 The ritual involved what was known as the "mattress-rotating
barrel trick."160 It required each candidate to slide down an eight to nine-foot-high metal
board onto connected mattresses leading to a barrel, over which the candidate was
required to climb.161 Members of Hejaz would stand on each side of the mattresses
and barrel and fun-paddle candidates en route to the barrel.162
In a video footage taken in 1991, U.S. Marine paratroopers in Camp Lejeune, North
Carolina, were seen performing a ceremony in which they pinned paratrooper jump
wings directly onto the neophyte paratroopers chests.163 The victims were shown

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writhing and crying out in pain as others pounded the spiked medals through the shirts
and into the chests of the victims.164
In State v. Allen, decided in 1995, the Southeast Missouri State University chapter of
Kappa Alpha Psi invited male students to enter into a pledgeship program.165 The
fraternity members subjected the pledges to repeated physical abuse including
repeated, open-hand strikes at the nape, the chest, and the back; caning of the bare
soles of the feet and buttocks; blows to the back with the use of a heavy book and a
cookie sheet while the pledges were on their hands and knees; various kicks and
punches to the body; and "body slamming," an activity in which active members of the
fraternity lifted pledges up in the air and dropped them to the ground.166 The fraternity
members then put the pledges through a seven-station circle of physical abuse.167
In Ex Parte Barran, decided in 1998, the pledge-victim went through hazing by fraternity
members of the Kappa Alpha Order at the Auburn University in Alabama.168 The
hazing included the following: (1) having to dig a ditch and jump into it after it had been
filled with water, urine, feces, dinner leftovers, and vomit; (2) receiving paddlings on the
buttocks; (3) being pushed and kicked, often onto walls or into pits and trash cans; (4)
eating foods like peppers, hot sauce, butter, and "yerks" (a mixture of hot sauce,
mayonnaise, butter, beans, and other items); (5) doing chores for the fraternity and its
members, such as cleaning the fraternity house and yard, being designated as driver,
and running errands; (6) appearing regularly at 2 a.m. "meetings," during which the
pledges would be hazed for a couple of hours; and (7) "running the gauntlet," during
which the pledges were pushed, kicked, and hit as they ran down a hallway and
descended down a flight of stairs.169
In Lloyd v. Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, decided in 1999, the victim Sylvester Lloyd
was accepted to pledge at the Cornell University chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha
Fraternity.170 He participated in initiation activities, which included various forms of
physical beatings and torture, psychological coercion and embarrassment.171
In Kenner v. Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, decided in 2002, the initiate-victim suffered
injuries from hazing activities during the fraternitys initiation rites.172 Kenner and the
other initiates went through psychological and physical hazing, including being paddled
on the buttocks for more than 200 times.173
In Morton v. State, Marcus Jones a university student in Florida sought initiation into
the campus chapter of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity during the 2005-06 academic

year.174 The pledges efforts to join the fraternity culminated in a series of initiation
rituals conducted in four nights. Jones, together with other candidates, was blindfolded,
verbally harassed, and caned on his face and buttocks.175 In these rituals described as
"preliminaries," which lasted for two evenings, he received approximately 60 canings on
his buttocks.176 During the last two days of the hazing, the rituals intensified.177 The
pledges sustained roughly 210 cane strikes during the four-night initiation.178 Jones
and several other candidates passed out.179
The purported raison dtre behind hazing practices is the proverbial "birth by fire,"
through which the pledge who has successfully withstood the hazing proves his or her
worth.180 Some organizations even believe that hazing is the path to enlightenment. It
is said that this process enables the organization to establish unity among the pledges
and, hence, reinforces and ensures the future of the organization.181 Alleged benefits
of joining include leadership opportunities; improved academic performance; higher selfesteem; professional networking opportunities; and the esprit dcorp associated with
close, almost filial, friendship and common cause.182
Anti-Hazing laws in the U.S.
The first hazing statute in the U.S. appeared in 1874 in response to hazing in the
military.183 The hazing of recruits and plebes in the armed services was so prevalent
that Congress prohibited all forms of military hazing, harmful or not.184 It was not until
1901 that Illinois passed the first state anti-hazing law, criminalizing conduct "whereby
any one sustains an injury to his [or her] person therefrom."185
However, it was not until the 1980s and 1990s, due in large part to the efforts of the
Committee to Halt Useless College Killings and other similar organizations, that states
increasingly began to enact legislation prohibiting and/or criminalizing hazing.186 As of
2008, all but six states had enacted criminal or civil statutes proscribing hazing.187 Most
anti-hazing laws in the U.S. treat hazing as a misdemeanor and carry relatively light
consequences for even the most severe situations.188 Only a few states with antihazing laws consider hazing as a felony in case death or great bodily harm occurs.189
Under the laws of Illinois, hazing is a Class A misdemeanor, except hazing that results in
death or great bodily harm, which is a Class 4 felony.190 In a Class 4 felony, a sentence
of imprisonment shall be for a term of not less than one year and not more than three
years.191 Indiana criminal law provides that a person who recklessly, knowingly, or

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intentionally performs hazing that results in serious bodily injury to a person commits
criminal recklessness, a Class D felony.192

have the animus interficendi or intent to kill Lenny Villa or the other neophytes. We shall
no longer disturb this finding.

The offense becomes a Class C felony if committed by means of a deadly weapon.193


As an element of a Class C felony criminal recklessness resulting in serious bodily
injury, death falls under the category of "serious bodily injury."194 A person who
commits a Class C felony is imprisoned for a fixed term of between two (2) and eight (8)
years, with the advisory sentence being four (4) years.195 Pursuant to Missouri law,
hazing is a Class A misdemeanor, unless the act creates a substantial risk to the life of
the student or prospective member, in which case it becomes a Class C felony.196 A
Class C felony provides for an imprisonment term not to exceed seven years.197

As regards Villareal and Dizon, the CA modified the Decision of the trial court and found
that the two accused had the animus interficendi or intent to kill Lenny Villa, not merely
to inflict physical injuries on him. It justified its finding of homicide against Dizon by
holding that he had apparently been motivated by ill will while beating up Villa. Dizon
kept repeating that his fathers parking space had been stolen by the victims father.207
As to Villareal, the court said that the accused suspected the family of Bienvenido
Marquez, one of the neophytes, to have had a hand in the death of Villareals
brother.208 The CA then ruled as follows:

In Texas, hazing that causes the death of another is a state jail felony.198 An individual
adjudged guilty of a state jail felony is punished by confinement in a state jail for any
term of not more than two years or not less than 180 days.199 Under Utah law, if hazing
results in serious bodily injury, the hazer is guilty of a third-degree felony.200 A person
who has been convicted of a third-degree felony may be sentenced to imprisonment for
a term not to exceed five years.201 West Virginia law provides that if the act of hazing
would otherwise be deemed a felony, the hazer may be found guilty thereof and subject
to penalties provided therefor.202 In Wisconsin, a person is guilty of a Class G felony if
hazing results in the death of another.203 A Class G felony carries a fine not to exceed
$25,000 or imprisonment not to exceed 10 years, or both.204

The two had their own axes to grind against Villa and Marquez. It was very clear that
they acted with evil and criminal intent. The evidence on this matter is unrebutted and so
for the death of Villa, appellants Dizon and Villareal must and should face the
consequence of their acts, that is, to be held liable for the crime of homicide.209
(Emphasis supplied)

In certain states in the U.S., victims of hazing were left with limited remedies, as there
was no hazing statute.205 This situation was exemplified in Ballou v. Sigma Nu General
Fraternity, wherein Barry Ballous family resorted to a civil action for wrongful death,
since there was no anti-hazing statute in South Carolina until 1994.206

We cannot subscribe to this conclusion.


The appellate court relied mainly on the testimony of Bienvenido Marquez to determine
the existence of animus interficendi. For a full appreciation of the context in which the
supposed utterances were made, the Court deems it necessary to reproduce the
relevant portions of witness Marquezs testimony:
Witness We were brought up into [Michael Musngis] room and we were briefed as to
what to expect during the next three days and we were told the members of the fraternity
and their batch and we were also told about the fraternity song, sir.

The existence of animus interficendi or intent to kill not proven beyond reasonable doubt
xxx
The presence of an ex ante situation in this case, fraternity initiation rites does not
automatically amount to the absence of malicious intent or dolus malus. If it is proven
beyond reasonable doubt that the perpetrators were equipped with a guilty mind
whether or not there is a contextual background or factual premise they are still
criminally liable for intentional felony.

xxx

xxx

Witness We were escorted out of [Michael Musngis] house and we were made to ride a
van and we were brought to another place in Kalookan City which I later found to be the
place of Mariano Almeda, sir.
xxx

xxx

xxx

The trial court, the CA, and the Solicitor General are all in agreement that with the
exception of Villareal and Dizon accused Tecson, Ama, Almeda, and Bantug did not

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Witness Upon arrival, we were instructed to bow our head down and to link our arms
and then the driver of the van and other members of the Aquilans who were inside left
us inside the van, sir.
xxx

xxx

Atty. Tadiar Do you recall what were those voices that you heard?
Witness One particular utterance always said was, they asked us whether "matigas pa
yan, kayang-kaya pa niyan."

xxx

Witness We heard voices shouted outside the van to the effect, "Villa akin ka,"
"Asuncion Patay ka" and the people outside pound the van, rock the van, sir.
Atty. Tadiar Will you please recall in what tone of voice and how strong a voice these
remarks uttered upon your arrival?

Atty. Tadiar Do you know who in particular uttered those particular words that you
quote?
Witness I cannot particularly point to because there were utterances simultaneously, I
could not really pin point who uttered those words, sir.
xxx

Witness Some were almost shouting, you could feel the sense of excitement in their
voices, sir.
xxx

xxx

xxx

xxx

Atty. Tadiar Were there any utterances that you heard during the conduct of this Bicol
Express?

xxx
Witness Yes, sir I heard utterances.

Atty. Tadiar During all these times that the van was being rocked through and through,
what were the voices or utterances that you heard?

Atty. Tadiar Will you please recall to this Honorable Court what were the utterances that
you remember?

Witness "Villa akin ka," "Asuncion patay ka," "Recinto patay ka sa amin," etc., sir.
Atty. Tadiar And those utterances and threats, how long did they continue during the
rocking of the van which lasted for 5 minutes?
xxx

xxx

xxx

Witness For example, one person particularly Boyet Dizon stepped on my thigh, he
would say that and I quote "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 was Lenny Villa. He was
saying to the effect that "this guy, his father stole the parking space of my father," sir. So,
thats why he inflicted more pain on Villa and that went on, sir.

Witness Even after they rocked the van, we still kept on hearing voices, sir.
Atty. Tadiar And you were referring to which particular accused?
xxx

xxx

xxx
Witness Boyet Dizon, sir.

Atty. Tadiar During the time that this rounds [of physical beating] were being inflicted,
was there 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 When Boyet Dizon at that particular time was accusing you of having your
family have his brother 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

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Express, he kept on uttering those words/statements so that it would in turn justify him
and to give me harder blows, sir.

inform this Honorable Court what exactly were the accusations that were charged
against you while inflicting blows upon you in particular?

xxx

Witness While he was inflicting blows upon me, he told me in particular if I knew that his
family who had his brother killed, and he said that his brother was an NPA, sir so I knew
that it was just a story that he made up and I said that I knew nothing about it and he
continued inflicting blows on me, sir. And another incident was when a talk was being
given, Dizon was on another part of the pelota court and I was sort of looking and we
saw that he was drinking beer, and he said and I quote: "Marquez, Marquez, ano ang
tinitingin-tingin mo diyan, ikaw yung pamilya mo ang nagpapatay sa aking kapatid, yari
ka sa akin," sir.

xxx

xxx

Atty. Tadiar You mentioned about Dizon in particular mentioning that Lenny Villas 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.
xxx

xxx

xxx
Atty. Tadiar What else?

Witness There were different times made this accusation so there were different people
who heard from time to time, sir.
xxx

xxx

xxx

Atty. Tadiar Can you tell the Honorable Court when was the next accusation against
Lenny Villas father was made?
Witness When we were line up against the wall, Boyet Dizon came near to us and when
Lenny Villas turn, I heard him uttered those statements, sir.
Atty. Tadiar What happened after he made this accusation to Lenny Villas father?

Witness Thats all, sir.


Atty. Tadiar And on that first night of February 8, 1991, did ever a doctor or a physician
came around as promised to you earlier?
Witness No, sir.210 (Emphasis supplied)
On cross-examination, witness Bienvenido Marquez testified thus:
Judge Purisima When you testified on direct examination Mr. Marquez, have you stated
that there was a briefing that was conducted immediately before your initiation as
regards to what to expect during the initiation, did I hear you right?

Witness He continued to inflict blows on Lenny Villa.


Witness Yes, sir.
Atty. Tadiar How were those blows inflicted?
Judge Purisima Who did the briefing?
Witness There were slaps and he knelt on Lenny Villas thighs and sometime he stand
up and he kicked his thighs and sometimes jumped at it, sir.
xxx

xxx

xxx

Atty. Tadiar We would go on to the second day but not right now. You mentioned also
that accusations made by Dizon "you or your family had his brother killed," can you

Witness Mr. Michael Musngi, sir and Nelson Victorino.


Judge Purisima Will you kindly tell the Honorable Court what they told you to expect
during the initiation?
Witness They told us at the time we would be brought to a particular place, we would be
mocked at, sir.

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Judge Purisima So, you expected to be mocked at, ridiculed, humiliated etc., and the
likes?

Atty. Jimenez The initiation that was conducted did not consist only of physical initiation,
meaning body contact, is that correct?
Witness Yes, sir.

Witness Yes, sir.


Atty. Jimenez Part of the initiation was the so-called psychological initiation, correct?
Judge Purisima You were also told beforehand that there would be physical contact?
Witness Yes, sir.
Witness Yes, sir at the briefing.
xxx

xxx

xxx

Witness Yes, sir, because they informed that we could immediately go back to school.
All the bruises would be limited to our arms and legs, sir. So, if we wear the regular
school uniforms like long sleeves, it would be covered actually so we have no thinking
that our face would be slapped, sir.
Judge Purisima So, you mean to say that beforehand that you would have bruises on
your body but that will be covered?
Witness Yes, sir.
JudgePurisima So, what kind of physical contact or implements that you expect that
would create bruises to your body?

Atty. Jimenez And this consisted of making you believe of things calculated to terrify you,
scare you, correct?
Witness Yes, sir.
Atty. Jimenez In other words, the initiating masters made belief situation intended to, I
repeat, terrify you, frighten you, scare you into perhaps quitting the initiation, is this
correct?
Witness Sometimes sir, yes.
Atty. Jimenez You said on direct that while Mr. Dizon was initiating you, he said or he
was supposed to have said according to you that your family were responsible for the
killing of his brother who was an NPA, do you remember saying that?
Witness Yes, sir.

Witness At that point I am already sure that there would be hitting by a paddling or
paddle, sir.
xxx

xxx

Atty. Jimenez You also said in connection with that statement said to you by Dizon that
you did not believe him because that is not true, correct?

xxx
Witness Yes, sir.

Judge Purisima Now, will you admit Mr. Marquez that much of the initiation procedures
is psychological in nature?
Witness Combination, sir.211 (Emphasis supplied)
xxx

xxx

xxx

Atty. Jimenez In other words, he was only psychologizing you perhaps, the purpose as I
have mentioned before, terrifying you, scaring you or frightening you into quitting the
initiation, this is correct?
Witness No, sir, perhaps it is one but the main reason, I think, why he was saying those
things was because he wanted to inflict injury.

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Atty. Jimenez He did not tell that to you. That is your only perception, correct?

We agree with the Solicitor General.

Witness No, sir, because at one point, while he was telling this to Villareal, he was
hitting me.

The foregoing testimony of witness 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 CAs
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 Bienvenido
Marquezs testimony, as reproduced above, it was Dizon who uttered both "accusations"
against Villa and Marquez; Villareal had no participation whatsoever in the specific
threats referred to by the CA. It was "Boyet Dizon [who] stepped on [Marquezs] thigh";
and who told witness Marquez, "[I]to, yung pamilya nito ay pinapatay yung kapatid ko." It
was also Dizon who jumped on Villas thighs while saying, "[T]his 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.

Atty. Jimenez But did you not say earlier that you [were] subjected to the same forms of
initiation by all the initiating masters? You said that earlier, right?
Witness Yes, sir.
Atty. Jimenez Are you saying also that the others who jumped on you or kicked you said
something similar as was told to you by Mr. Dizon?
Witness No, sir.
Atty. Jimenez But the fact remains that in the Bicol Express for instance, the masters
would run on your thighs, right?
Witness Yes, sir.
Atty. Jimenez This was the regular procedure that was followed by the initiating masters
not only on you but also on the other neophytes?
Witness Yes, sir.
Atty. Jimenez In other words, it is fair to say that whatever forms of initiation was
administered by one master, was also administered by one master on a neophyte, was
also administered by another master on the other neophyte, this is correct?
Witness Yes, sir.212 (Emphasis supplied)
According to the Solicitor General himself, the ill motives attributed by the CA to Dizon
and Villareal were "baseless,"213 since the statements of the accused were "just part of
the psychological initiation calculated to instill fear on the part of the neophytes"; that
"[t]here is no element of truth in it as testified by Bienvenido Marquez"; and that the
"harsh words uttered by Petitioner and Villareal are part of tradition concurred and
accepted by all the fraternity members during their initiation rites."214

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. At the outset, 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," "Yari 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.215 While beating the neophytes, Dizon accused Marquez of the death of the
formers purported NPA brother, and then blamed Lenny Villas father for stealing the
parking space of Dizons 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.216
Thus, to our understanding, accused Dizons 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. In fact,
during the Senate deliberations on the then proposed Anti-Hazing Law, former Senator
Lina spoke as follows:

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Senator Lina. -- so as to capture the intent that we conveyed during the period of
interpellations on why we included the phrase "or psychological pain and suffering."

The existence of animus iniuriandi or malicious intent to injure not proven beyond
reasonable doubt

xxx

The Solicitor General argues, instead, that there was an intent to inflict physical injuries
on Lenny Villa. Echoing the Decision of the trial court, the 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 Revised Penal Code.

xxx

xxx

So that if no direct physical harm is inflicted upon the neophyte or the recruit but the
recruit or neophyte is made to undergo certain acts which I already described yesterday,
like playing the Russian roulette extensively to test the readiness and the willingness of
the neophyte or recruit to continue his desire to be a member of the fraternity, sorority or
similar organization or playing and putting a noose on the neck of the neophyte or
recruit, making the recruit or neophyte stand on the ledge of the fourth floor of the
building facing outside, asking him to jump outside after making him turn around several
times but the reality is that he will be made to jump towards the inside portion of the
building these are the mental or psychological tests that are resorted to by these
organizations, sororities or fraternities. The doctors who appeared during the public
hearing testified that such acts can result in some mental aberration, that they can even
lead to psychosis, neurosis or insanity. This is what we want to prevent.217 (Emphasis
supplied)
Thus, without proof beyond reasonable doubt, Dizons 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 fraternitys psychological initiation. This Court
points out that it was not even established whether the fathers of Dizon and Villa really
had any familiarity with each other as would lend credence to the veracity of Dizons
threats. The testimony of Lennys co-neophyte, Marquez, only confirmed this view.
According to Marquez, he "knew it was not true and that [Dizon] was just making it
up."218 Even the trial court did not give weight to the utterances of Dizon as
constituting intent to kill: "[T]he cumulative acts of all the accused were not directed
toward killing Villa, but merely to inflict physical harm as part of the fraternity initiation
rites x x x."219 The Solicitor General shares the same view.
Verily, we cannot sustain the CA in finding the accused Dizon guilty of homicide under
Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code 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.220 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.221

In order to be found guilty of any of the felonious acts under Articles 262 to 266 of the
Revised Penal Code,222 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 under the Revised Penal
Code, there must be a specific animus iniuriandi or 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.223
Thus, we have ruled in a number of instances224 that the mere infliction of physical
injuries, absent malicious intent, does not make a person automatically liable for an
intentional felony. In Bagajo v. People,225 the accused teacher, using a bamboo stick,
whipped one of her students behind her legs and thighs as a form of discipline. The
student suffered lesions and bruises from the corporal punishment. In reversing the trial
courts finding of criminal liability for slight physical injuries, this Court stated thus:
"Independently of any civil or administrative responsibility [w]e are persuaded that
she did not do what she had done with criminal intent the means she actually used
was moderate and that she was not motivated by ill-will, hatred or any malevolent
intent." Considering the applicable laws, we then ruled that "as a matter of law, petitioner
did not incur any criminal liability for her act of whipping her pupil." In People v.
Carmen,226 the accused members of the religious group known as the Missionaries of
Our Lady of Fatima under the guise of a "ritual or treatment" plunged the head of the
victim into a barrel of water, banged his head against a bench, pounded his chest with
fists, and stabbed him on the side with a kitchen knife, in order to cure him of "nervous
breakdown" by expelling through those means the bad spirits possessing him. The

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collective acts of the group caused the death of the victim. Since malicious intent was
not proven, we reversed the trial courts finding of liability for murder under Article 4 of
the Revised Penal Code and instead ruled that the accused should be held criminally
liable for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide under Article 365 thereof.

These rituals were performed with Lennys consent.231 A few days before the "rites," he
asked both his parents for permission to join the Aquila Fraternity.232 His father knew
that Lenny would go through an initiation process and would be gone for three days.233
The CA found as follows:

Indeed, the threshold question is whether the accuseds initial acts of inflicting physical
pain on the neophytes were attended by animus iniuriandi amounting to a felonious act
punishable under the Revised Penal Code, thereby making it subject to Article 4(1)
thereof. In People v. Regato, we ruled that malicious intent must be judged by the
action, conduct, and external acts of the accused.227 What persons do is the best index
of their intention.228 We have also ruled that 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.229 The Court shall thus examine the whole contextual
background surrounding the death of Lenny Villa.

It is worth pointing out that the neophytes willingly and voluntarily consented to undergo
physical initiation and hazing. As can be gleaned from the narration of facts, they
voluntarily agreed to join the initiation rites to become members of the Aquila Legis
Fraternity. Prior to the initiation, they were given briefings on what to expect. It is of
common knowledge that before admission in a fraternity, the neophytes will undergo a
rite of passage. Thus, they were made aware that traditional methods such as mocking,
psychological tests and physical punishment would take place. They knew that the
initiation would involve beatings and other forms of hazing. They were also told of their
right and opportunity to quit at any time they wanted to. In fact, prosecution witness
Navera testified that accused Tecson told him that "after a week, you can already play
basketball." Prosecution witness Marquez for his part, admitted that he knew that the
initiates would be hit "in the arms and legs," that a wooden paddle would be used to hit
them and that he expected bruises on his arms and legs. Indeed, there can be no
fraternity initiation without consenting neophytes.234 (Emphasis supplied)

Lenny died during Aquilas fraternity initiation rites. The night before the commencement
of the rites, they were briefed on what to expect. They were told that there would be
physical beatings, that the whole event would last for three days, and that they could quit
anytime. On their first night, they were subjected to "traditional" initiation rites, including
the "Indian Run," "Bicol Express," "Rounds," and the "Auxies Privilege Round." The
beatings were predominantly directed at the neophytes arms and legs.
In the morning of their second day of initiation, they were made to present comic plays
and to play rough basketball. They were also required to memorize and recite the Aquila
Fraternitys principles. Late in the afternoon, they were once again subjected to
"traditional" initiation rituals. When the rituals were officially reopened on the insistence
of Dizon and Villareal, the neophytes were subjected to another "traditional" ritual
paddling by the fraternity.
During the whole initiation rites, auxiliaries were assigned to the neophytes. The
auxiliaries protected the neophytes by functioning as human barriers and shielding them
from those who were designated to inflict physical and psychological pain on the
initiates.230 It was their regular duty to stop foul or excessive physical blows; to help the
neophytes to "pump" their legs in order that their blood would circulate; to facilitate a rest
interval 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.

Even after going through Aquilas grueling traditional rituals during the first day, Lenny
continued his participation and finished the second day of initiation.
Based on the foregoing 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, paddling, and other
modes of inflicting physical pain 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. Although the additional "rounds" on the second night were held upon the
insistence of Villareal and Dizon, the initiations were officially reopened with the consent
of the head of the initiation rites; and the accused fraternity members still participated in
the rituals, including the paddling, which were performed pursuant to tradition. Other
than the paddle, no other "weapon" was used to inflict injuries on Lenny. The targeted
body parts were predominantly the legs and the arms. The designation of roles,
including the role of auxiliaries, which were assigned for the specific purpose of lending
assistance to and taking care of the neophytes during the initiation rites, further belied

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the presence of malicious intent. 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.235 The totality of the
circumstances must therefore be taken into consideration.

That is the main rationale. We want to send a strong signal across the land that no
group or association can require the act of physical initiation before a person can
become a member without being held criminally liable.

The underlying context and motive in which the infliction of physical injuries was rooted
may also be determined by Lennys continued participation in the initiation and consent
to the method used even after the first day. The following discussion of the framers of
the 1995 Anti-Hazing Law is enlightening:

Senator Guingona. Yes, but what would be the rationale for that imposition? Because
the distinguished Sponsor has said that he is not punishing a mere organization, he is
not seeking the punishment of an initiation into a club or organization, he is seeking the
punishment of certain acts that resulted in death, et cetera as a result of hazing which
are already covered crimes.

Senator Guingona. Most of these acts, if not all, are already punished under the Revised
Penal Code.
Senator Lina. That is correct, Mr. President.
Senator Guingona. If hazing is done at present and it results in death, the charge would
be murder or homicide.

xxx

xxx

xxx

The penalty is increased in one, because we would like to discourage hazing, abusive
hazing, but it may be a legitimate defense for invoking two or more charges or offenses,
because these very same acts are already punishable under the Revised Penal Code.
That is my difficulty, Mr. President.
Senator Lina. x x x

Senator Lina. That is correct, Mr. President.


Senator Guingona. If it does not result in death, it may be frustrated homicide or serious
physical injuries.
Senator Lina. That is correct, Mr. President.
Senator Guingona. Or, if the person who commits sexual abuse does so it can be
penalized under rape or acts of lasciviousness.
Senator Lina. That is correct, Mr. President.
Senator Guingona. So, what is the rationale for making a new offense under this
definition of the crime of hazing?
Senator Lina. To discourage persons or group of persons either composing a sorority,
fraternity or any association from making this requirement of initiation that has already
resulted in these specific acts or results, Mr. President.

Another point, Mr. President, is this, and this is a very telling difference: When a person
or group of persons resort to hazing as a requirement for gaining entry into an
organization, the intent to commit a wrong is not visible or is not present, Mr. President.
Whereas, in these specific crimes, Mr. President, let us say there is death or there is
homicide, mutilation, if one files a case, then the intention to commit a wrong has to be
proven. But if the crime of hazing is the basis, what is important is the result from the act
of hazing.
To me, that is the basic difference and that is what will prevent or deter the sororities or
fraternities; that they should really shun this activity called "hazing." Because, initially,
these fraternities or sororities do not even consider having a neophyte killed or maimed
or that acts of lasciviousness are even committed initially, Mr. President.
So, what we want to discourage is the so-called initial innocent act. That is why there is
need to institute this kind of hazing. Ganiyan po ang nangyari. Ang fraternity o ang
sorority ay magre-recruit. Wala talaga silang intensiyong makamatay. Hindi ko na
babanggitin at buhay pa iyong kaso. Pero dito sa anim o pito na namatay nitong
nakaraang taon, walang intensiyong patayin talaga iyong neophyte. So, kung

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maghihintay pa tayo, na saka lamang natin isasakdal ng murder kung namatay na, ay
after the fact ho iyon. Pero, kung sasabihin natin sa mga kabataan na: "Huwag ninyong
gagawin iyong hazing. Iyan ay kasalanan at kung mamatay diyan, mataas ang penalty
sa inyo."
xxx

xxx

xxx

xxx

xxx

Senator Guingona. Mr. President, assuming there was a group that initiated and a
person died. The charge is murder. My question is: Under this bill if it becomes a law,
would the prosecution have to prove conspiracy or not anymore?

xxx
Senator Lina. Mr. President, if the person is present during hazing x x x

Senator Guingona. I join the lofty motives, Mr. President, of the distinguished Sponsor.
But I am again disturbed by his statement that the prosecution does not have to prove
the intent that resulted in the death, that resulted in the serious physical injuries, that
resulted in the acts of lasciviousness or deranged mind. We do not have to prove the
willful intent of the accused in proving or establishing the crime of hazing. This seems, to
me, a novel situation where we create the special crime without having to go into the
intent, which is one of the basic elements of any crime.

Senator Guingona. The persons are present. First, would the prosecution have to prove
conspiracy? Second, would the prosecution have to prove intent to kill or not?
Senator Lina. No more. As to the second question, Mr. President, if that occurs, there is
no need to prove intent to kill.
Senator Guingona. But the charge is murder.

If there is no intent, there is no crime. If the intent were merely to initiate, then there is no
offense. And even the distinguished Sponsor admits that the organization, the intent to
initiate, the intent to have a new society or a new club is, per se, not punishable at all.
What are punishable are the acts that lead to the result. But if these results are not
going to be proven by intent, but just because there was hazing, I am afraid that it will
disturb the basic concepts of the Revised Penal Code, Mr. President.
Senator Lina. Mr. President, the act of hazing, precisely, is being criminalized because
in the context of what is happening in the sororities and fraternities, when they conduct
hazing, no one will admit that their intention is to maim or to kill. So, we are already
criminalizing the fact of inflicting physical pain. Mr. President, it is a criminal act and we
want it stopped, deterred, discouraged.
If that occurs, under this law, there is no necessity to prove that the masters intended to
kill or the masters intended to maim. What is important is the result of the act of hazing.
Otherwise, the masters or those who inflict the physical pain can easily escape
responsibility and say, "We did not have the intention to kill. This is part of our initiation
rites. This is normal. We do not have any intention to kill or maim."
This is the lusot, Mr. President. They might as well have been charged therefore with the
ordinary crime of homicide, mutilation, et cetera, where the prosecution will have a
difficulty proving the elements if they are separate offenses.

Senator Lina. That is why I said that it should not be murder. It should be hazing, Mr.
President. 236 (Emphasis supplied)
During a discussion between Senator Biazon and Senator Lina on the issue of whether
to include sodomy as a punishable act under the Anti-Hazing Law, Senator Lina further
clarified thus:
Senator Biazon. Mr. President, this Representation has no objection to the inclusion of
sodomy as one of the conditions resulting from hazing as necessary to be punished.
However, the act of sodomy can be committed by two persons with or without consent.
To make it clearer, what is being punished here is the commission of sodomy forced into
another individual by another individual. I move, Mr. President, that sodomy be modified
by the phrase "without consent" for purposes of this section.
Senator Lina. I am afraid, Mr. President, that if we qualify sodomy with the concept that
it is only going to aggravate the crime of hazing if it is done without consent will change
a lot of concepts here. Because the results from hazing aggravate the offense with or
without consent. In fact, when a person joins a fraternity, sorority, or any association for
that matter, it can be with or without the consent of the intended victim. The fact that a
person joins a sorority or fraternity with his consent does not negate the crime of hazing.

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This is a proposed law intended to protect the citizens from the malpractices that attend
initiation which may have been announced with or without physical infliction of pain or
injury, Mr. President. Regardless of whether there is announcement that there will be
physical hazing or whether there is none, and therefore, the neophyte is duped into
joining a fraternity is of no moment. What is important is that there is an infliction of
physical pain.
The bottom line of this law is that a citizen even has to be protected from himself if he
joins a fraternity, so that at a certain point in time, the State, the individual, or the
parents of the victim can run after the perpetrators of the crime, regardless of whether or
not there was consent on the part of the victim.
xxx

xxx

xxx

Senator Lina. Mr. President, I understand the position taken by the distinguished
Gentleman from Cavite and Metro Manila. It is correct that society sometimes adopts
new mores, traditions, and practices.

But precisely, Mr. President that is one thing that we would want to prohibit. That the
defense of consent will not apply because the very act of inflicting physical pain or
psychological suffering is, by itself, a punishable act. The result of the act of hazing, like
death or physical injuries merely aggravates the act with higher penalties. But the
defense of consent is not going to nullify the criminal nature of the act.
So, if we accept the amendment that sodomy can only aggravate the offense if it is
committed without consent of the victim, then the whole foundation of this proposed law
will collapse.
Senator Biazon. Thank you, Mr. President.
Senator Lina. Thank you very much.
The President. Is there any objection to the committee amendment? (Silence.) The
Chair hears none; the same is approved.237
(Emphasis supplied)

In this bill, we are not going to encroach into the private proclivities of some individuals
when they do their acts in private as we do not take a peek into the private rooms of
couples. They can do their thing if they want to make love in ways that are not
considered acceptable by the mainstream of society. That is not something that the
State should prohibit.
But sodomy in this case is connected with hazing, Mr. President. Such that the act may
even be entered into with consent. It is not only sodomy. The infliction of pain may be
done with the consent of the neophyte. If the law is passed, that does not make the act
of hazing not punishable because the neophyte accepted the infliction of pain upon
himself.
If the victim suffers from serious physical injuries, but the initiator said, "Well, he allowed
it upon himself. He consented to it." So, if we allow that reasoning that sodomy was
done with the consent of the victim, then we would not have passed any law at all. There
will be no significance if we pass this bill, because it will always be a defense that the
victim allowed the infliction of pain or suffering. He accepted it as part of the initiation
rites.

Realizing the implication of removing the states burden to prove intent, Senator Lina,
the principal author of the Senate Bill, said:
I am very happy that the distinguished Minority Leader brought out the idea of intent or
whether there it is mala in se or mala prohibita. There can be a radical amendment if
that is the point that he wants to go to.
If we agree on the concept, then, maybe, we can just make this a special law on hazing.
We will not include this anymore under the Revised Penal Code. That is a possibility. I
will not foreclose that suggestion, Mr. President.238(Emphasis supplied)
Thus, having in mind the potential conflict between the proposed law and the core
principle of mala in se adhered to under the Revised Penal Code, Congress did not
simply enact an amendment thereto. Instead, it created a special law on hazing,
founded upon the principle of mala 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 Lennys parents would not have consented239

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to his participation in Aquila Fraternitys initiation rites if the practice of hazing were
considered by them as mala in se.
Furthermore, in Vedaa v. Valencia (1998), we noted through Associate Justice (now
retired Chief Justice) Hilario Davide that "in our nations very recent history, the people
have spoken, through Congress, to deem conduct constitutive of hazing, [an] act[]
previously considered harmless by custom, as criminal."240 Although it may be
regarded as a simple obiter dictum, the statement nonetheless shows recognition that
hazing or the conduct of initiation rites through physical and/or psychological suffering
has not been traditionally criminalized. Prior to the 1995 Anti-Hazing Law, there was to
some extent a lacuna 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 courts finding of malicious intent to inflict physical injuries on Lenny
Villa, there being no proof beyond reasonable doubt of the existence of malicious intent
to inflict physical injuries or animus iniuriandi as required in mala in se cases,
considering the contextual background of his death, the unique nature of hazing, and
absent a law prohibiting hazing.
The accused fraternity members guilty of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide
The absence of malicious intent does not automatically mean, however, that the
accused fraternity members are ultimately devoid of criminal liability. The Revised Penal
Code 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 imprudence or negligence consists of a voluntary act done without malice,
from which an immediate personal harm, injury or material damage results by reason of
an inexcusable lack of precaution or advertence on the part of the person committing
it.241 In this case, the danger is visible and consciously appreciated by the actor.242 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.243 Here, the threatened harm is not immediate, and the danger is not openly
visible. 244

The test245 for determining whether or not a person is negligent in doing an act is as
follows: Would a prudent man in the position of the person to whom negligence is
attributed foresee harm to the person injured as a reasonable 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.246
As we held in Gaid v. People, for a person to avoid being charged with recklessness, the
degree of precaution and diligence required varies with the degree of the danger
involved.247 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.248 In
contrast, if the danger is minor, not much care is required.249 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."250 The duty of
the person to employ more or less degree of care will depend upon the circumstances of
each particular case.251
There was patent recklessness in the hazing of Lenny Villa.
According to the NBI medico-legal officer, Lenny died of cardiac failure secondary to
multiple traumatic injuries.252 The officer explained that cardiac failure refers to the
failure of the heart to work as a pump and as part of the circulatory system due to the
lack of blood.253 In the present case, the victims heart could no longer work as a
pumping organ, because it was deprived of its requisite blood and oxygen.254 The
deprivation was due to the "channeling" of the blood supply from the entire circulatory
system including the heart, arteries, veins, venules, and capillaries to the thigh, leg,
and arm areas of Lenny, thus causing the formation of multiple hematomas or blood
clots.255 The multiple hematomas were wide, thick, and deep,256 indicating that these
could have resulted mainly from injuries sustained by the victim from fist blows, knee
blows, paddles, or the like.257 Repeated blows to those areas caused the blood to
gradually ooze out of the capillaries until the circulating blood became so markedly
diminished as to produce death. 258 The officer also found that the brain, liver, kidney,
pancreas, intestines, and all other organs seen in the abdominals, as well as the
thoracic organ in the lungs, were pale due to the lack of blood, which was redirected to
the thighs and forearms.259 It was concluded that there was nothing in the heart that
would indicate that the victim suffered from a previous cardiac arrest or disease.260

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The multiple hematomas or bruises found in Lenny Villas 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
activities performed on him by the Aquila Fraternity. According to the testimonies of the
co-neophytes of Lenny, they were punched, kicked, elbowed, kneed, stamped on; and
hit with different objects on their arms, legs, and thighs.261 They were also "paddled" at
the back of their thighs or legs;262 and slapped on their faces.263 They were made to
play rough basketball.264 Witness Marquez testified on Lenny, saying: "[T]inamaan daw
sya sa spine."265 The NBI medico-legal officer explained that the death of the victim
was the cumulative effect of the multiple injuries suffered by the latter.266 The relevant
portion of the testimony is as follows:
Atty. Tadiar Doctor, there was, rather, it was your testimony on various cross
examinations of defense counsels that the injuries that you have enumerated on the
body of the deceased Lenny Villa previously marked as Exhibit "G-1" to "G-14"
individually by themselves would not cause the death of the victim. The question I am
going to propound to you is what is the cumulative effect of all of these injuries marked
from Exhibit "G-1" to "G-14"?
Witness All together nothing in concert to cause to the demise of the victim. So, it is not
fair for us to isolate such injuries here because we are talking of the whole body. At the
same manner that as a car would not run minus one (1) wheel. No, the more humane in
human approach is to interpret all those injuries in whole and not in part.267
There is also evidence to show that some of the accused fraternity members were
drinking during the initiation rites.268
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.269 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 victims 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.
It appears from the aforementioned facts that the incident may have been prevented, or
at least mitigated, had the alumni of Aquila Fraternity accused Dizon and Villareal

restrained themselves from insisting on reopening the initiation rites. Although this point
did not matter in the end, as records would show that the other fraternity members
participated in the reopened initiation rites having in mind the concept of "seniority" in
fraternities the implication of the presence of alumni should be seen as a point of
review in future legislation. We further note that some of the fraternity members were
intoxicated during Lennys initiation rites. In this light, the Court submits to Congress, for
legislative consideration, the amendment of the Anti-Hazing Law to include the fact of
intoxication and the presence of non-resident or alumni fraternity members during
hazing as aggravating circumstances that would increase the applicable penalties.
It is truly astonishing how men would wittingly or unwittingly impose the misery of
hazing and employ appalling rituals in the name of brotherhood. There must be a better
way to establish "kinship." A neophyte admitted that he joined the fraternity to have more
friends and to avail himself of the benefits it offered, such as tips during bar
examinations.270 Another initiate did not give up, because he feared being looked down
upon as a quitter, and because he felt he did not have a choice.271 Thus, for Lenny Villa
and the other neophytes, joining the Aquila Fraternity entailed a leap in the dark. By
giving consent under the circumstances, they left their fates in the hands of the fraternity
members. Unfortunately, the hands to which lives were entrusted were barbaric as they
were reckless.
Our finding of criminal liability for the felony of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide
shall cover only accused Tecson, Ama, Almeda, Bantug, and Dizon. Had the AntiHazing Law been in effect then, these five accused fraternity members would have all
been convicted of the crime of hazing punishable by reclusion perpetua (life
imprisonment).272 Since there was no law prohibiting the act of hazing when Lenny
died, we are constrained to rule according to existing laws at the time of his death. The
CA found that the prosecution failed to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, Victorino et
al.s individual participation in the infliction of physical injuries upon Lenny Villa.273 As
to accused Villareal, his criminal liability was totally extinguished by the fact of his death,
pursuant to Article 89 of the Revised Penal Code.
Furthermore, our ruling herein shall be interpreted without prejudice to the applicability
of the Anti-Hazing Law to subsequent cases. Furthermore, the modification of criminal
liability from slight physical injuries to reckless imprudence resulting in homicide shall
apply only with respect to accused Almeda, Ama, Bantug, and Tecson.
The accused liable to pay damages

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The CA awarded damages in favor of the heirs of Lenny Villa in the amounts of P
50,000 as civil indemnity ex delicto and P 1,000,000 as moral damages, to be jointly and
severally paid by accused Dizon and Villareal. It also awarded the amount of P 30,000
as indemnity to be jointly and severally paid by accused Almeda, Ama, Bantug, and
Tecson.1wphi1
Civil indemnity ex delicto is automatically awarded for the sole fact of death of the
victim.274 In accordance with prevailing jurisprudence,275 we sustain the CAs award of
indemnity in the amount of P 50,000.
The heirs of the victim are entitled to actual or compensatory damages, including
expenses incurred in connection with the death of the victim, so long as the claim is
supported by tangible documents.276 Though we are prepared to award actual
damages, the Court is prevented from granting them, since the records are bereft of any
evidence to show that actual expenses were incurred or proven during trial.
Furthermore, in the appeal, the Solicitor General does not interpose any claim for actual
damages.277
The heirs of the deceased may recover moral damages for the grief suffered on account
of the victims death.278 This penalty is pursuant to Article 2206(3) of the Civil Code,
which provides that the "spouse, legitimate and illegitimate descendants and the
ascendants of the deceased may demand moral damages for mental anguish by reason
of the death of the deceased."279 Thus, we hereby we affirm the CAs award of moral
damages in the amount of P 1,000,000.

in the amount of P 1,000,000, plus legal interest on all damages awarded at the rate of
12% from the date of the finality of this Decision until satisfaction.280 Costs de oficio.
The appealed Judgment in G.R. No. 154954, acquitting Victorino et al., is hereby
affirmed. The appealed Judgments in G.R. Nos. 178057 & 178080, dismissing the
criminal case filed against Escalona, Ramos, Saruca, and Adriano, are likewise
affirmed. Finally, pursuant to Article 89(1) of the Revised Penal Code, the Petition in
G.R. No. 151258 is hereby dismissed, and the criminal case against Artemio Villareal
deemed closed and TERMINATED.
Let copies of this Decision be furnished to the Senate President and the Speaker of the
House of Representatives for possible consideration of the amendment of the AntiHazing Law to include the fact of intoxication and the presence of non-resident or alumni
fraternity members during hazing as aggravating circumstances that would increase the
applicable penalties.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 152644

February 10, 2006

JOHN ERIC LONEY, STEVEN PAUL REID and PEDRO B. HERNANDEZ, Petitioners,
vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.
The Case

WHEREFORE, the appealed Judgment in G.R. No. 155101 finding petitioner Fidelito
Dizon guilty of homicide is hereby MODIFIED and set aside IN PART. The appealed
Judgment in G.R. No. 154954 finding Antonio Mariano Almeda, Junel Anthony Ama,
Renato Bantug, Jr., and Vincent Tecson guilty of the crime of slight physical injuries is
also MODIFIED and set aside in part. Instead, Fidelito Dizon, Antonio Mariano Almeda,
Junel Anthony Ama, Renato Bantug, Jr., and Vincent Tecson are found guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide defined and penalized
under Article 365 in relation to Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code. They are hereby
sentenced to suffer an indeterminate prison term of four (4) months and one (1) day of
arresto mayor, as minimum, to four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional,
as maximum. In addition, accused are ORDERED jointly and severally to pay the heirs
of Lenny Villa civil indemnity ex delicto in the amount of P 50,000, and moral damages

This is a petition for review1 of the Decision2 dated 5 November 2001 and the
Resolution dated 14 March 2002 of the Court of Appeals. The 5 November 2001
Decision affirmed the ruling of the Regional Trial Court, Boac, Marinduque, Branch 94,
in a suit to quash Informations filed against petitioners John Eric Loney, Steven Paul
Reid, and Pedro B. Hernandez ("petitioners"). The 14 March 2002 Resolution denied
petitioners motion for reconsideration.
The Facts
Petitioners John Eric Loney, Steven Paul Reid, and Pedro B. Hernandez are the
President and Chief Executive Officer, Senior Manager, and Resident Manager for

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Mining Operations, respectively, of Marcopper Mining Corporation ("Marcopper"), a


corporation engaged in mining in the province of Marinduque.

the very term and condition required to be undertaken under the Environmental
Compliance Certificate issued on April 1, 1990.

Marcopper had been storing tailings3 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
Makalupnit rivers. It appears that Marcopper had placed a concrete plug at the tunnels
end. On 24 March 1994, tailings gushed out of or near the tunnels end. In a few days,
the Mt. Tapian pit had discharged millions of tons of tailings into the Boac and
Makalupnit rivers.

The allegations in the informations point to same set [sic] of evidence required to prove
the single fact of pollution constituting violation of the Water Code and the Pollution Law
which are the same set of evidence necessary to prove the same single fact of pollution,
in proving the elements constituting violation of the conditions of ECC, issued pursuant
to the Philippine Mining Act. In both instances, the terms and conditions of the
Environmental Compliance Certificate were allegedly violated. In other words, the same
set of evidence is required in proving violations of the three (3) special laws.

In August 1996, the Department of Justice separately charged petitioners in the


Municipal Trial Court of Boac, Marinduque ("MTC") with violation of Article 91(B),4 subparagraphs 5 and 6 of Presidential Decree No. 1067 or the Water Code of the
Philippines ("PD 1067"),5 Section 86 of Presidential Decree No. 984 or the National
Pollution Control Decree of 1976 ("PD 984"),7 Section 1088 of Republic Act No. 7942 or
the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 ("RA 7942"),9 and Article 36510 of the Revised Penal
Code ("RPC") for Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Damage to Property.11
Petitioners moved to quash the Informations on the following grounds: (1) the
Informations were "duplicitous" as the Department of Justice charged more than one
offense for a single act; (2) petitioners John Eric Loney and Steven Paul Reid were not
yet officers of Marcopper when the incident subject of the Informations took place; and
(3) the Informations contain allegations which constitute legal excuse or justification.
The Ruling of the MTC
In its Joint Order of 16 January 1997 ("Joint Order"), the MTC12 initially deferred ruling
on petitioners motion for lack of "indubitable ground for the quashing of the
[I]nformations x x x." The MTC scheduled petitioners arraignment in February 1997.
However, on petitioners motion, the MTC issued a Consolidated Order on 28 April 1997
("Consolidated Order"), granting partial reconsideration to its Joint Order and quashing
the Informations for violation of PD 1067 and PD 984. The MTC maintained the
Informations for violation of RA 7942 and Article 365 of the RPC. The MTC held:
[T]he 12 Informations have common allegations of pollutants pointing to "mine tailings"
which were precipitately discharged into the Makulapnit and Boac Rivers due to breach
caused on the Tapian drainage/tunnel due to negligence or failure to institute adequate
measures to prevent pollution and siltation of the Makulapnit and Boac River systems,

After carefully analyzing and weighing the contending arguments of the parties and after
taking into consideration the applicable laws and jurisprudence, the Court is convinced
that as far as the three (3) aforesaid laws are concerned, only the Information for
[v]iolation of Philippine Mining Act should be maintained. In other words, the
Informations for [v]iolation of Anti-Pollution Law (PD 984) and the Water Code (PD
1067) should be dismissed/quashed because the elements constituting the aforesaid
violations are absorbed by the same elements which constitute violation of the
Philippine Mining Act (RA 7942).
Therefore, x x x Criminal Case[] Nos. 96-44, 96-45 and 96-46 for [v]iolation of the Water
Code; and Criminal Case[] Nos. 96-47, 96-48 and 96-49 for [v]iolation of the AntiPollution Law x x x are hereby DISMISSED or QUASHED and Criminal Case[] Nos. 9650, 96-51 and 96-52 for [v]iolation of the Philippine Mining Act are hereby retained to be
tried on the merits.
The Information for [v]iolation of Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code should also be
maintained and heard in a full blown trial because the common accusation therein is
reckless imprudence resulting to [sic] damage to property. It is the damage to property
which the law punishes not the negligent act of polluting the water system. The
prosecution for the [v]iolation of Philippine Mining Act is not a bar to the prosecution for
reckless imprudence resulting to [sic] damage to property.13
The MTC re-scheduled petitioners arraignment on the remaining charges on 28 and 29
May 1997. In the hearing of 28 May 1997, petitioners manifested that they were willing
to be arraigned on the charge for violation of Article 365 of the RPC but not on the
charge for violation of RA 7942 as they intended to appeal the Consolidated Order in so
far as it maintained the Informations for that offense. After making of record petitioners

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manifestation, the MTC proceeded with the arraignment and ordered the entry of "not
guilty" pleas on the charges for violation of RA 7942 and Article 365 of the RPC.
Petitioners subsequently filed a petition for certiorari with the Regional Trial Court, Boac,
Marinduque, assailing that portion of the Consolidated Order maintaining the
Informations for violation of RA 7942. Petitioners petition was raffled to Branch 94. For
its part, public respondent filed an ordinary appeal with the same court assailing that
portion of the Consolidated Order quashing the Informations for violation of PD 1067
and PD 984. Public respondents appeal was raffled to Branch 38. On public
respondents motion, Branch 38 ordered public respondents appeal consolidated with
petitioners petition in Branch 94.

Petitioners filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals alleging that Branch 94
acted with grave abuse of discretion because (1) the Informations for violation of PD
1067, PD 984, RA 7942 and the Article 365 of the RPC "proceed from and are based on
a single act or incident of polluting the Boac and Makalupnit rivers thru dumping of mine
tailings" and (2) the duplicitous nature of the Informations contravenes the ruling in
People v. Relova.16 Petitioners further contended that since the acts complained of in
the charges for violation of PD 1067, PD 984, and RA 7942 are "the very same acts
complained of" in the charge for violation of Article 365 of the RPC, the latter absorbs
the former. Hence, petitioners should only be prosecuted for violation of Article 365 of
the RPC.17

The Ruling of Branch 94

The Ruling of the Court of Appeals

In its Resolution14 of 20 March 1998, Branch 94 granted public respondents appeal but
denied petitioners petition. Branch 94 set aside the Consolidated Order in so far as it
quashed the Informations for violation of PD 1067 and PD 984 and ordered those
charges reinstated. Branch 94 affirmed the Consolidated Order in all other respects.
Branch 94 held:

In its Decision of 5 November 2001, the Court of Appeals affirmed Branch 94s ruling.
The appellate court held:

After a careful perusal of the laws concerned, this court is of the opinion that there can
be no absorption by one offense of the three other offenses, as [the] acts penalized by
these laws are separate and distinct from each other. The elements of proving each
violation are not the same with each other. Concededly, the single act of dumping mine
tailings which resulted in the pollution of the Makulapnit and Boac rivers was the basis
for the information[s] filed against the accused each charging a distinct offense. But it is
also a well-established rule in this jurisdiction that
"A single act may offend against two or more entirely distinct and unrelated provisions of
law, and if one provision requires proof of an additional fact or element which the other
does not, an acquittal or conviction or a dismissal of the information under one does not
bar prosecution under the other. x x x."
xxxx
[T]he different laws involve cannot absorb one another as the elements of each crime
are different from one another. Each of these laws require [sic] proof of an additional fact
or element which the other does not although they stemmed from a single act.15

The records of the case disclose that petitioners filed a motion to quash the
aforementioned Informations for being duplicitous in nature. Section 3 of Rule 117 of the
Revised Rules of Court specifically provides the grounds upon which an information
may be quashed. x x x
xxxx
[D]uplicity of Informations is not among those included in x x x [Section 3, Rule 117].
xxxx
We now go to petitioners claim that the resolution of the public respondent contravened
the doctrine laid down in People vs. Relova for being violative of their right against
multiple prosecutions.
In the said case, the Supreme Court found the Peoples argument with respect to the
variances in the mens rea of the two offenses being charged to be correct. The Court,
however, decided the case in the context of the second sentence of Article IV (22) of the
1973 Constitution (now under Section 21 of Article III of the 1987 Constitution), rather
than the first sentence of the same section. x x x

51 of 90

xxxx
[T]he doctrine laid down in the Relova case does not squarely apply to the case at
Bench since the Informations filed against the petitioners are for violation of four
separate and distinct laws which are national in character.
xxxx
This Court firmly agrees in the public respondents understanding that the laws by which
the petitioners have been [charged] could not possibly absorb one another as the
elements of each crime are different. Each of these laws require [sic] proof of an
additional fact or element which the other does not, although they stemmed from a
single act. x x x
xxxx
[T]his Court finds that there is not even the slightest indicia of evidence that would give
rise to any suspicion that public respondent acted with grave abuse of discretion
amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction in reversing the Municipal Trial Courts
quashal of the Informations against the petitioners for violation of P.D. 1067 and P.D.
984. This Court equally finds no error in the trial courts denial of the petitioners motion
to quash R.A. 7942 and Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code.18
Petitioners sought reconsideration but the Court of Appeals denied their motion in its
Resolution of 14 March 2002.
Petitioners raise the following alleged errors of the Court of Appeals:
I. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED A R[E]VERSIBLE ERROR IN
MAINTAINING THE CHARGES FOR VIOLATION OF THE PHILIPPINE MINING ACT
(R.A. 7942) AND REINSTATING THE CHARGES FOR VIOLATION OF THE WATER
CODE (P.D. 1067) AND POLLUTION CONTROL LAW (P.D. 984), CONSIDERING
THAT:

BASED ON A SINGLE ACT OR INCIDENT OF POLLUTING THE BOAC AND


MAKULAPNIT RIVERS THRU DUMPING OF MINE TAILINGS.
B. THE PROSECUTION OF PETITIONERS FOR DUPLICITOUS AND MULTIPLE
CHARGES CONTRAVENES THE DOCTRINE LAID DOWN IN PEOPLE VS. RELOVA,
148 SCRA 292 [1986 THAT "AN ACCUSED SHOULD NOT BE HARASSED BY
MULTIPLE PROSECUTIONS FOR OFFENSES WHICH THOUGH DIFFERENT FROM
ONE ANOTHER ARE NONETHELESS EACH CONSTITUTED BY A COMMON SET
OR OVERLAPPING SETS OF TECHNICAL ELEMENTS."
II. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED A REVERSIBLE ERROR IN RULING
THAT THE ELEMENT OF LACK OF NECESSARY OR ADEQUATE PRECAUTION,
NEGLIGENCE, RECKLESSNESS AND IMPRUDENCE UNDER ARTICLE 356 [sic] OF
THE REVISED PENAL CODE DOES NOT FALL WITHIN THE AMBIT OF ANY OF THE
ELEMENTS OF THE PERTINENT PROVISIONS OF THE WATER CODE, POLLUTION
CONTROL LAW AND PHILIPPINE MINING ACT CHARGED AGAINST
PETITIONERS[.]19
The Issues
The petition raises these issues:
(1) Whether all the charges filed against petitioners except one should be quashed for
duplicity of charges and only the charge for Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Damage
to Property should stand; and
(2) Whether Branch 94s ruling, as affirmed by the Court of Appeals, contravenes
People v. Relova.
The Ruling of the Court
The petition has no merit.
No Duplicity of Charges in the Present Case

A. THE INFORMATIONS FOR VIOLATION OF THE WATER CODE (P.D. 1067), THE
POLLUTION CONTROL LAW (P.D. 984), THE PHILIPPINE MINING ACT (R.A. 7942)
AND ARTICLE 365 OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE PROCEED FROM AND ARE

Duplicity of charges simply means a single complaint or information charges more than
one offense, as Section 13 of Rule 11020 of the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure
clearly states:

52 of 90

Duplicity of offense. A complaint or information must charge but one offense, except
only in those cases in which existing laws prescribe a single punishment for various
offenses.
In short, there is duplicity (or multiplicity) of charges when a single Information charges
more than one offense.21
Under Section 3(e), Rule 11722 of the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure, duplicity of
offenses in a single information is a ground to quash the Information. The Rules prohibit
the filing of such Information to avoid confusing the accused in preparing his defense.23
Here, however, the prosecution charged each petitioner with four offenses, with each
Information charging only one offense. Thus, petitioners erroneously invoke duplicity of
charges as a ground to quash the Informations. On this score alone, the petition
deserves outright denial.
The Filing of Several Charges is Proper
Petitioners contend that they should be charged with one offense only Reckless
Imprudence Resulting in Damage to Property because (1) all the charges filed
against them "proceed from and are based on a single act or incident of polluting the
Boac and Makalupnit rivers thru dumping of mine tailings" and (2) the charge for
violation of Article 365 of the RPC "absorbs" the other charges since the element of
"lack of necessary or adequate protection, negligence, recklessness and imprudence" is
common among them.
The contention has no merit.
As early as the start of the last century, this Court had ruled that a single act or incident
might offend against two or more entirely distinct and unrelated provisions of law thus
justifying the prosecution of the accused for more than one offense.24 The only limit to
this rule is the Constitutional prohibition that no person shall be twice put in jeopardy of
punishment for "the same offense."25 In People v. Doriquez,26 we held that two (or
more) offenses arising from the same act are not "the same"
x x x if one provision [of law] requires proof of an additional fact or element which the
other does not, x x x. Phrased elsewise, where two different laws (or articles of the
same code) define two crimes, prior jeopardy as to one of them is no obstacle to a

prosecution of the other, although both offenses arise from the same facts, if each crime
involves some important act which is not an essential element of the other.27 (Emphasis
supplied)
Here, double jeopardy is not at issue because not all of its elements are present.28
However, for the limited purpose of controverting petitioners claim that they should be
charged with one offense only, we quote with approval Branch 94s comparative analysis
of PD 1067, PD 984, RA 7942, and Article 365 of the RPC showing that in each of these
laws on which petitioners were charged, there is one essential element not required of
the others, thus:
In P.D. 1067 (Philippines Water Code), the additional element to be established is the
dumping of mine tailings into the Makulapnit River and the entire Boac River System
without prior permit from the authorities concerned. The gravamen of the offense here is
the absence of the proper permit to dump said mine tailings. This element is not
indispensable in the prosecution for violation of PD 984 (Anti-Pollution Law), [RA] 7942
(Philippine Mining Act) and Art. 365 of the Revised Penal Code. One can be validly
prosecuted for violating the Water Code even in the absence of actual pollution, or even
[if] it has complied with the terms of its Environmental Compliance Certificate, or further,
even [if] it did take the necessary precautions to prevent damage to property.
In P.D. 984 (Anti-Pollution Law), the additional fact that must be proved is the existence
of actual pollution. The gravamen is the pollution itself. In the absence of any pollution,
the accused must be exonerated under this law although there was unauthorized
dumping of mine tailings or lack of precaution on its part to prevent damage to property.
In R.A. 7942 (Philippine Mining Act), 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 the Marcopper
should ensure the containment of run-off and silt materials from reaching the Mogpog
and Boac Rivers. If there was no violation or neglect, and that the accused satisfactorily
proved [sic] that Marcopper had done everything to ensure containment of the run-off
and silt materials, they will not be liable. It does not follow, however, that they cannot be
prosecuted under the Water Code, Anti-Pollution Law and the Revised Penal Code
because violation of the Environmental Compliance Certificate is not an essential
element of these laws.

53 of 90

On the other hand, the additional element that must be established in Art. 365 of the
Revised Penal Code 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 under the previous laws. Unquestionably, it is different from
dumping of mine tailings without permit, or causing pollution to the Boac river system,
much more from violation or neglect to abide by the terms of the Environmental
Compliance Certificate. Moreover, the offenses punished by special law are mal[a]
prohibita in contrast with those punished by the Revised Penal Code which are mala in
se.29

under the second sentence in Section 22, Article IV of the 1973 Constitution, now
Section 21, Article III of the 1987 Constitution. We held:

Consequently, the filing of the multiple charges against petitioners, although based on
the same incident, is consistent with settled doctrine.

The above argument[ ] made by the petitioner [is] of course correct. This is clear both
from the express terms of the constitutional provision involved which reads as follows:

On petitioners claim that the charge for violation of Article 365 of the RPC "absorbs" the
charges for violation of PD 1067, PD 984, and RA 7942, suffice it to say that a mala in
se felony (such as Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Damage to Property) cannot
absorb mala prohibita crimes (such as those violating PD 1067, PD 984, and RA 7942).
What makes the former a felony is criminal intent (dolo) or negligence (culpa); what
makes the latter crimes are the special laws enacting them.

"No person shall be twice put in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense. If an act
is punished by a law and an ordinance, conviction or acquittal under either shall
constitute a bar to another prosecution for the same act." x x x

People v. Relova not in Point


Petitioners reiterate their contention in the Court of Appeals that their prosecution
contravenes this Courts ruling in People v. Relova. In particular, petitioners cite the
Courts statement in Relova that the law seeks to prevent harassment of the accused by
"multiple prosecutions for offenses which though different from one another are
nonetheless each constituted by a common set or overlapping sets of technical
elements."

The petitioner concludes that:


"The unauthorized installation punished by the ordinance [of Batangas City] is not the
same as theft of electricity [under the Revised Penal Code]; that the second offense is
not an attempt to commit the first or a frustration thereof and that the second offense is
not necessarily included in the offense charged in the first information."

and from our case law on this point. The basic difficulty with the petitioners position is
that it must be examined, not under the terms of the first sentence of Article IV (22) of
the 1973 Constitution, but rather under the second sentence of the same section. The
first sentence of Article IV (22) sets forth the general rule: the constitutional protection
against double jeopardy is not available where the second prosecution is for an offense
that is different from the offense charged in the first or prior prosecution, although both
the first and second offenses may be based upon the same act or set of acts. The
second sentence of Article IV (22) embodies an exception to the general proposition: the
constitutional protection, against double jeopardy is available although the prior offense
charged under an ordinance be different from the offense charged subsequently under a
national statute such as the Revised Penal Code, provided that both offenses spring
from the same act or set of acts. x x x30 (Italicization in the original; boldfacing supplied)

This contention is also without merit.1avvphil.net


The issue in Relova is whether the act of the Batangas Acting City Fiscal in charging
one Manuel Opulencia ("Opulencia") with theft of electric power under the RPC, after
the latter had been acquitted of violating a City Ordinance penalizing the unauthorized
installation of electrical wiring, violated Opulencias right against double jeopardy. We
held that it did, not because the offenses punished by those two laws were the same but
because the act giving rise to the charges was punished by an ordinance and a national
statute, thus falling within the proscription against multiple prosecutions for the same act

Thus, Relova is no authority for petitioners claim against multiple prosecutions based
on a single act not only because the question of double jeopardy is not at issue here,
but also because, as the Court of Appeals held, petitioners are being prosecuted for an
act or incident punished by four national statutes and not by an ordinance and a national
statute. In short, petitioners, if ever, fall under the first sentence of Section 21, Article III
which prohibits multiple prosecution for the same offense, and not, as in Relova, for
offenses arising from the same incident.

54 of 90

WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. We AFFIRM the Decision dated 5 November


2001 and the Resolution dated 14 March 2002 of the Court of Appeals.

THE UNITED STATES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. AH CHONG, defendant-appellant.

CARSON, J.:
The evidence as to many of the essential and vital facts in this case is limited to the
testimony of the accused himself, because from the very nature of these facts and from
the circumstances surrounding the incident upon which these proceedings rest, no other
evidence as to these facts was available either to the prosecution or to the defense. We
think, however, that, giving the accused the benefit of the doubt as to the weight of the
evidence touching those details of the incident as to which there can be said to be any
doubt, the following statement of the material facts disclose by the record may be taken
to be substantially correct:
The defendant, Ah Chong, was employed as a cook at "Officers' quarters, No. 27," Fort
Mc Kinley, Rizal Province, and at the same place Pascual Gualberto, deceased, was
employed as a house boy or muchacho. "Officers' quarters No. 27" as a detached
house situates some 40 meters from the nearest building, and in August, 19087, was
occupied solely as an officers' mess or club. No one slept in the house except the two
servants, who jointly occupied a small room toward the rear of the building, the door of
which opened upon a narrow porch running along the side of the building, by which
communication was had with the other part of the house. This porch was covered by a
heavy growth of vines for its entire length and height. The door of the room was not
furnished with a permanent bolt or lock, and occupants, as a measure of security, had
attached a small hook or catch on the inside of the door, and were in the habit of
reinforcing this somewhat insecure means of fastening the door by placing against it a
chair. In the room there was but one small window, which, like the door, opened on the
porch. Aside from the door and window, there were no other openings of any kind in the
room.
On the night of August 14, 1908, at about 10 o'clock, the defendant, who had received
for the night, was suddenly awakened by some trying to force open the door of the
room. He sat up in bed and called out twice, "Who is there?" He heard no answer and

was convinced by the noise at the door that it was being pushed open by someone bent
upon forcing his way into the room. Due to the heavy growth of vines along the front of
the porch, the room was very dark, and the defendant, fearing that the intruder was a
robber or a thief, leaped to his feet and called out. "If you enter the room, I will kill you."
At that moment he was struck just above the knee by the edge of the chair which had
been placed against the door. In the darkness and confusion the defendant thought that
the blow had been inflicted by the person who had forced the door open, whom he
supposed to be a burglar, though in the light of after events, it is probable that the chair
was merely thrown back into the room by the sudden opening of the door against which
it rested. Seizing a common kitchen knife which he kept under his pillow, the defendant
struck out wildly at the intruder who, it afterwards turned out, was his roommate,
Pascual. Pascual ran out upon the porch and fell down on the steps in a desperately
wounded condition, followed by the defendant, who immediately recognized him in the
moonlight. Seeing that Pascual was wounded, he called to his employers who slept in
the next house, No. 28, and ran back to his room to secure bandages to bind up
Pascual's wounds.
There had been several robberies in Fort McKinley not long prior to the date of the
incident just described, one of which took place in a house in which the defendant was
employed as cook; and as defendant alleges, it was because of these repeated
robberies he kept a knife under his pillow for his personal protection.
The deceased and the accused, who roomed together and who appear to have on
friendly and amicable terms prior to the fatal incident, had an understanding that when
either returned at night, he should knock at the door and acquiant his companion with
his identity. Pascual had left the house early in the evening and gone for a walk with his
friends, Celestino Quiambao and Mariano Ibaez, servants employed at officers'
quarters No. 28, the nearest house to the mess hall. The three returned from their walk
at about 10 o'clock, and Celestino and Mariano stopped at their room at No. 28, Pascual
going on to his room at No. 27. A few moments after the party separated, Celestino and
Mariano heard cries for assistance and upon returning to No. 27 found Pascual sitting
on the back steps fatally wounded in the stomach, whereupon one of them ran back to
No. 28 and called Liuetenants Jacobs and Healy, who immediately went to the aid of the
wounded man.
The defendant then and there admitted that he had stabbed his roommate, but said that
he did it under the impression that Pascual was "a ladron" because he forced open the
door of their sleeping room, despite defendant's warnings.

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No reasonable explanation of the remarkable conduct on the part of Pascuals suggests


itself, unless it be that the boy in a spirit of mischief was playing a trick on his Chinese
roommate, and sought to frightened him by forcing his way into the room, refusing to
give his name or say who he was, in order to make Ah Chong believe that he was being
attacked by a robber.
Defendant was placed under arrest forthwith, and Pascual was conveyed to the military
hospital, where he died from the effects of the wound on the following day.
The defendant was charged with the crime of assassination, tried, and found guilty by
the trial court of simple homicide, with extenuating circumstances, and sentenced to six
years and one day presidio mayor, the minimum penalty prescribed by law.
At the trial in the court below the defendant admitted that he killed his roommate,
Pascual Gualberto, but insisted that he struck the fatal blow without any intent to do a
wrongful act, in the exercise of his lawful right of self-defense.
Article 8 of the Penal Code provides that
The following are not delinquent and are therefore exempt from criminal liability:
xxx

xxx

xxx

4 He who acts in defense of his person or rights, provided there are the following
attendant circumstances:
(1) Illegal aggression.
(2) Reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel it.
(3) Lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending himself.
Under these provisions we think that there can be no doubt that defendant would be
entitle to complete exception from criminal liability for the death of the victim of his fatal
blow, if the intruder who forced open the door of his room had been in fact a dangerous
thief or "ladron," as the defendant believed him to be. No one, under such
circumstances, would doubt the right of the defendant to resist and repel such an

intrusion, and the thief having forced open the door notwithstanding defendant's thricerepeated warning to desist, and his threat that he would kill the intruder if he persisted in
his attempt, it will not be questioned that in the darkness of the night, in a small room,
with no means of escape, with the thief advancing upon him despite his warnings
defendant would have been wholly justified in using any available weapon to defend
himself from such an assault, and in striking promptly, without waiting for the thief to
discover his whereabouts and deliver the first blow.
But the evidence clearly discloses that the intruder was not a thief or a "ladron." That
neither the defendant nor his property nor any of the property under his charge was in
real danger at the time when he struck the fatal blow. That there was no such "unlawful
aggression" on the part of a thief or "ladron" as defendant believed he was repelling and
resisting, and that there was no real "necessity" for the use of the knife to defend his
person or his property or the property under his charge.
The question then squarely presents it self, whether in this jurisdiction one can be held
criminally responsible who, by reason of a mistake as to the facts, does an act for which
he would be exempt from criminal liability if the facts were as he supposed them to be,
but which would constitute the crime of homicide or assassination if the actor had known
the true state of the facts at the time when he committed the act. To this question we
think there can be but one answer, and we hold that under such circumstances there is
no criminal liability, provided always that the alleged ignorance or mistake or fact was
not due to negligence or bad faith.
In broader terms, ignorance or mistake of fact, if such ignorance or mistake of fact is
sufficient to negative a particular intent which under the law is a necessary ingredient of
the offense charged (e.g., in larcerny, animus furendi; in murder, malice; in crimes intent)
"cancels the presumption of intent," and works an acquittal; except in those cases where
the circumstances demand a conviction under the penal provisions touching criminal
negligence; and in cases where, under the provisions of article 1 of the Penal Code one
voluntarily committing a crime or misdeamor incurs criminal liability for any wrongful act
committed by him, even though it be different from that which he intended to commit.
(Wharton's Criminal Law, sec. 87 and cases cited; McClain's Crim. Law, sec. 133 and
cases cited; Pettit vs. S., 28 Tex. Ap., 240; Commonwealth vs. Power, 7 Met., 596; Yates
vs. People, 32 N.Y., 509; Isham vs. State, 38 Ala., 213; Commonwealth vs. Rogers, 7
Met., 500.)

56 of 90

The general proposition thus stated hardly admits of discussion, and the only question
worthy of consideration is whether malice or criminal intent is an essential element or
ingredient of the crimes of homicide and assassination as defined and penalized in the
Penal Code. It has been said that since the definitions there given of these as well as
most other crimes and offense therein defined, do not specifically and expressly declare
that the acts constituting the crime or offense must be committed with malice or with
criminal intent in order that the actor may be held criminally liable, the commission of the
acts set out in the various definitions subjects the actor to the penalties described
therein, unless it appears that he is exempted from liability under one or other of the
express provisions of article 8 of the code, which treats of exemption. But while it is true
that contrary to the general rule of legislative enactment in the United States, the
definitions of crimes and offenses as set out in the Penal Code rarely contain provisions
expressly declaring that malice or criminal intent is an essential ingredient of the crime,
nevertheless, the general provisions of article 1 of the code clearly indicate that malice,
or criminal intent in some form, is an essential requisite of all crimes and offense therein
defined, in the absence of express provisions modifying the general rule, such as are
those touching liability resulting from acts negligently or imprudently committed, and
acts done by one voluntarily committing a crime or misdemeanor, where the act
committed is different from that which he intended to commit. And it is to be observed
that even these exceptions are more apparent than real, for "There is little distinction,
except in degree, between a will to do a wrongful thing and indifference whether it is
done or not. Therefore carelessness is criminal, and within limits supplies the place of
the affirmative criminal intent" (Bishop's New Criminal Law, vol. 1, s. 313); and, again,
"There is so little difference between a disposition to do a great harm and a disposition
to do harm that one of them may very well be looked upon as the measure of the other.
Since, therefore, the guilt of a crime consists in the disposition to do harm, which the
criminal shows by committing it, and since this disposition is greater or less in proportion
to the harm which is done by the crime, the consequence is that the guilt of the crime
follows the same proportion; it is greater or less according as the crime in its own nature
does greater or less harm" (Ruth. Ints. C. 18, p. 11); or, as it has been otherwise stated,
the thing done, having proceeded from a corrupt mid, is to be viewed the same whether
the corruption was of one particular form or another.
Article 1 of the Penal Code is as follows:
Crimes or misdemeanors are voluntary acts and ommissions punished by law.

Acts and omissions punished by law are always presumed to be voluntarily unless the
contrary shall appear.
An person voluntarily committing a crime or misdemeanor shall incur criminal liability,
even though the wrongful act committed be different from that which he had intended to
commit.
The celebrated Spanish jurist Pacheco, discussing the meaning of the word "voluntary"
as used in this article, say that a voluntary act is a free, intelligent, and intentional act,
and roundly asserts that without intention (intention to do wrong or criminal intention)
there can be no crime; and that the word "voluntary" implies and includes the words
"con malicia," which were expressly set out in the definition of the word "crime" in the
code of 1822, but omitted from the code of 1870, because, as Pacheco insists, their use
in the former code was redundant, being implied and included in the word "voluntary."
(Pacheco, Codigo Penal, vol. 1, p. 74.)
Viada, while insisting that the absence of intention to commit the crime can only be said
to exempt from criminal responsibility when the act which was actually intended to be
done was in itself a lawful one, and in the absence of negligence or imprudence,
nevertheless admits and recognizes in his discussion of the provisions of this article of
the code that in general without intention there can be no crime. (Viada, vol. 1, p. 16.)
And, as we have shown above, the exceptions insisted upon by Viada are more
apparent than real.
Silvela, in discussing the doctrine herein laid down, says:
In fact, it is sufficient to remember the first article, which declared that where there is no
intention there is no crime . . . in order to affirm, without fear of mistake, that under our
code there can be no crime if there is no act, an act which must fall within the sphere of
ethics if there is no moral injury. (Vol. 2, the Criminal Law, folio 169.)
And to the same effect are various decisions of the supreme court of Spain, as, for
example in its sentence of May 31, 1882, in which it made use of the following
language:
It is necessary that this act, in order to constitute a crime, involve all the malice which is
supposed from the operation of the will and an intent to cause the injury which may be
the object of the crime.

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And again in its sentence of March 16, 1892, wherein it held that "considering that,
whatever may be the civil effects of the inscription of his three sons, made by the
appellant in the civil registry and in the parochial church, there can be no crime because
of the lack of the necessary element or criminal intention, which characterizes every
action or ommission punished by law; nor is he guilty of criminal negligence."
And to the same effect in its sentence of December 30, 1896, it made use of the
following language:
. . . Considering that the moral element of the crime, that is, intent or malice or their
absence in the commission of an act defined and punished by law as criminal, is not a
necessary question of fact submitted to the exclusive judgment and decision of the trial
court.
That the author of the Penal Code deemed criminal intent or malice to be an essential
element of the various crimes and misdemeanors therein defined becomes clear also
from an examination of the provisions of article 568, which are as follows:
He who shall execute through reckless negligence an act that, if done with malice,
would constitute a grave crime, shall be punished with the penalty of arresto mayor in its
maximum degree, to prision correccional in its minimum degrees if it shall constitute a
less grave crime.
He who in violation of the regulations shall commit a crime through simple imprudence
or negligence shall incur the penalty of arresto mayor in its medium and maximum
degrees.
In the application of these penalties the courts shall proceed according to their
discretion, without being subject to the rules prescribed in article 81.
The provisions of this article shall not be applicable if the penalty prescribed for the
crime is equal to or less than those contained in the first paragraph thereof, in which
case the courts shall apply the next one thereto in the degree which they may consider
proper.
The word "malice" in this article is manifestly substantially equivalent to the words
"criminal intent," and the direct inference from its provisions is that the commission of

the acts contemplated therein, in the absence of malice (criminal intent), negligence,
and imprudence, does not impose any criminal liability on the actor.
The word "voluntary" as used in article 1 of the Penal Code would seem to approximate
in meaning the word "willful" as used in English and American statute to designate a
form of criminal intent. It has been said that while the word "willful" sometimes means
little more than intentionally or designedly, yet it is more frequently understood to extent
a little further and approximate the idea of the milder kind of legal malice; that is, it
signifies an evil intent without justifiable excuse. In one case it was said to mean, as
employed in a statute in contemplation, "wantonly" or "causelessly;" in another, "without
reasonable grounds to believe the thing lawful." And Shaw, C. J., once said that
ordinarily in a statute it means "not merely `voluntarily' but with a bad purpose; in other
words, corruptly." In English and the American statutes defining crimes "malice,"
"malicious," "maliciously," and "malice aforethought" are words indicating intent, more
purely technical than "willful" or willfully," but "the difference between them is not great;"
the word "malice" not often being understood to require general malevolence toward a
particular individual, and signifying rather the intent from our legal justification. (Bishop's
New Criminal Law, vol. 1, secs. 428 and 429, and cases cited.)
But even in the absence of express words in a statute, setting out a condition in the
definition of a crime that it be committed "voluntarily," willfully," "maliciously" "with malice
aforethought," or in one of the various modes generally construed to imply a criminal
intent, we think that reasoning from general principles it will always be found that with
the rare exceptions hereinafter mentioned, to constitute a crime evil intent must combine
with an act. Mr. Bishop, who supports his position with numerous citations from the
decided cases, thus forcely present this doctrine:
In no one thing does criminal jurisprudence differ more from civil than in the rule as to
the intent. In controversies between private parties the quo animo with which a thing
was done is sometimes important, not always; but crime proceeds only from a criminal
mind. So that
There can be no crime, large or small, without an evil mind. In other words, punishment
is the sentence of wickedness, without which it can not be. And neither in philosophical
speculation nor in religious or mortal sentiment would any people in any age allow that a
man should be deemed guilty unless his mind was so. It is therefore a principle of our
legal system, as probably it is of every other, that the essence of an offense is the
wrongful intent, without which it can not exists. We find this doctrine confirmed by

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Legal maxims. The ancient wisdom of the law, equally with the modern, is distinct on
this subject. It consequently has supplied to us such maxims as Actus non facit reum
nisi mens sit rea, "the act itself does not make man guilty unless his intention were so;"
Actus me incito factus non est meus actus, "an act done by me against my will is not my
act;" and others of the like sort. In this, as just said, criminal jurisprudence differs from
civil. So also
Moral science and moral sentiment teach the same thing. "By reference to the intention,
we inculpate or exculpate others or ourselves without any respect to the happiness or
misery actually produced. Let the result of an action be what it may, we hold a man
guilty simply on the ground of intention; or, on the dame ground, we hold him innocent."
The calm judgment of mankind keeps this doctrine among its jewels. In times of
excitement, when vengeance takes the place of justice, every guard around the innocent
is cast down. But with the return of reason comes the public voice that where the mind is
pure, he who differs in act from his neighbors does not offend. And
In the spontaneous judgment which springs from the nature given by God to man, no
one deems another to deserve punishment for what he did from an upright mind,
destitute of every form of evil. And whenever a person is made to suffer a punishment
which the community deems not his due, so far from its placing an evil mark upon him, it
elevates him to the seat of the martyr. Even infancy itself spontaneously pleads the want
of bad intent in justification of what has the appearance of wrong, with the utmost
confidence that the plea, if its truth is credited, will be accepted as good. Now these
facts are only the voice of nature uttering one of her immutable truths. It is, then, the
doctrine of the law, superior to all other doctrines, because first in nature from which the
law itself proceeds, that no man is to be punished as a criminal unless his intent is
wrong. (Bishop's New Criminal Law, vol. 1, secs. 286 to 290.)
Compelled by necessity, "the great master of all things," an apparent departure from this
doctrine of abstract justice result from the adoption of the arbitrary rule that Ignorantia
juris non excusat ("Ignorance of the law excuses no man"), without which justice could
not be administered in our tribunals; and compelled also by the same doctrine of
necessity, the courts have recognized the power of the legislature to forbid, in a limited
class of cases, the doing of certain acts, and to make their commission criminal without
regard to the intent of the doer. Without discussing these exceptional cases at length, it
is sufficient here to say that the courts have always held that unless the intention of the
lawmaker to make the commission of certain acts criminal without regard to the intent of

the doer is clear and beyond question the statute will not be so construed (cases cited in
Cyc., vol. 12, p. 158, notes 76 and 77); and the rule that ignorance of the law excuses
no man has been said not to be a real departure from the law's fundamental principle
that crime exists only where the mind is at fault, because "the evil purpose need not be
to break the law, and if suffices if it is simply to do the thing which the law in fact forbids."
(Bishop's New Criminal Law, sec. 300, and cases cited.)
But, however this may be, there is no technical rule, and no pressing necessity
therefore, requiring mistake in fact to be dealt with otherwise that in strict accord with the
principles of abstract justice. On the contrary, the maxim here is Ignorantia facti excusat
("Ignorance or mistake in point of fact is, in all cases of supposed offense, a sufficient
excuse"). (Brown's Leg. Max., 2d ed., 190.)
Since evil intent is in general an inseparable element in every crime, any such mistake
of fact as shows the act committed to have proceeded from no sort of evil in the mind
necessarily relieves the actor from criminal liability provided always there is no fault or
negligence on his part; and as laid down by Baron Parke, "The guilt of the accused must
depend on the circumstances as they appear to him." (Reg. vs. Thurborn, 1 Den. C.,
387; P. vs. Anderson, 44 Cal.., 65; P. vs. Lamb, 54 Barb., 342; Yates vs. P., 32 N. Y.,
509; Patterson vs. P., 46 Barb., 625; Reg. vs. Cohen, 8 Cox C. C., 41; P. vs. Miles, 55
Cal., 207, 209; Nalley vs. S., 28 Tex. Ap., 387.) That is to say, the question as to
whether he honestly, in good faith, and without fault or negligence fell into the mistake is
to be determined by the circumstances as they appeared to him at the time when the
mistake was made, and the effect which the surrounding circumstances might
reasonably be expected to have on his mind, in forming the intent, criminal or other
wise, upon which he acted.
If, in language not uncommon in the cases, one has reasonable cause to believe the
existence of facts which will justify a killing or, in terms more nicely in accord with the
principles on which the rule is founded, if without fault or carelessness he does believe
them he is legally guiltless of the homicide; though he mistook the facts, and so the
life of an innocent person is unfortunately extinguished. In other words, and with
reference to the right of self-defense and the not quite harmonious authorities, it is the
doctrine of reason and sufficiently sustained in adjudication, that notwithstanding some
decisions apparently adverse, whenever a man undertakes self-defense, he is justified
in acting on the facts as they appear to him. If, without fault or carelessness, he is
misled concerning them, and defends himself correctly according to what he thus
supposes the facts to be the law will not punish him though they are in truth otherwise,

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and he was really no occassion for the extreme measures. (Bishop's New Criminal Law,
sec. 305, and large array of cases there cited.)
The common illustration in the American and English textbooks of the application of this
rule is the case where a man, masked and disguised as a footpad, at night and on a
lonely road, "holds up" his friends in a spirit of mischief, and with leveled pistol demands
his money or his life, but is killed by his friend under the mistaken belief that the attack is
a real one, that the pistol leveled at his head is loaded, and that his life and property are
in imminent danger at the hands of the aggressor. No one will doubt that if the facts
were such as the slayer believed them to be he would be innocent of the commission of
any crime and wholly exempt from criminal liability, although if he knew the real state of
the facts when he took the life of his friend he would undoubtedly be guilty of the crime
of homicide or assassination. Under such circumstances, proof of his innocent mistake
of the facts overcomes the presumption of malice or criminal intent, and (since malice or
criminal intent is a necessary ingredient of the "act punished by law" in cases of
homicide or assassination) overcomes at the same time the presumption established in
article 1 of the code, that the "act punished by law" was committed "voluntarily."
Parson, C.J., in the Massachusetts court, once said:
If the party killing had reasonable grounds for believing that the person slain had a
felonious design against him, and under that supposition killed him, although it should
afterwards appear that there was no such design, it will not be murder, but it will be
either manslaughter or excusable homicide, according to the degree of caution used
and the probable grounds of such belief. (Charge to the grand jury in Selfridge's case,
Whart, Hom., 417, 418, Lloyd's report of the case, p.7.)
In this case, Parker, J., charging the petit jury, enforced the doctrine as follows:
A, in the peaceable pursuit of his affairs, sees B rushing rapidly toward him, with an
outstretched arms and a pistol in his hand, and using violent menaces against his life as
he advances. Having approached near enough in the same attitude, A, who has a club
in his hand, strikes B over the head before or at the instant the pistol is discharged; and
of the wound B dies. It turns out the pistol was loaded with powder only, and that the
real design of B was only to terrify A. Will any reasonable man say that A is more
criminal that he would have been if there had been a bullet in the pistol? Those who
hold such doctrine must require that a man so attacked must, before he strikes the
assailant, stop and ascertain how the pistol is loaded a doctrine which would entirely

take away the essential right of self-defense. And when it is considered that the jury who
try the cause, and not the party killing, are to judge of the reasonable grounds of his
apprehension, no danger can be supposed to flow from this principle. (Lloyd's Rep., p.
160.)
To the same effect are various decisions of the supreme court of Spain, cited by Viada,
a few of which are here set out in full because the facts are somewhat analogous to
those in the case at bar.
QUESTION III. When it is shown that the accused was sitting at his hearth, at night, in
company only of his wife, without other light than reflected from the fire, and that the
man with his back to the door was attending to the fire, there suddenly entered a person
whom he did not see or know, who struck him one or two blows, producing a contusion
on the shoulder, because of which he turned, seized the person and took from his the
stick with which he had undoubtedly been struck, and gave the unknown person a blow,
knocking him to the floor, and afterwards striking him another blow on the head, leaving
the unknown lying on the floor, and left the house. It turned out the unknown person was
his father-in-law, to whom he rendered assistance as soon as he learned his identity,
and who died in about six days in consequence of cerebral congestion resulting from the
blow. The accused, who confessed the facts, had always sustained pleasant relations
with his father-in-law, whom he visited during his sickness, demonstrating great grief
over the occurrence. Shall he be considered free from criminal responsibility, as having
acted in self-defense, with all the circumstances related in paragraph 4, article 8, of the
Penal Code? The criminal branch of the Audiencia of Valladolid found that he was an
illegal aggressor, without sufficient provocation, and that there did not exists rational
necessity for the employment of the force used, and in accordance with articles 419 and
87 of the Penal Code condemned him to twenty months of imprisonment, with
accessory penalty and costs. Upon appeal by the accused, he was acquitted by the
supreme court, under the following sentence: "Considering, from the facts found by the
sentence to have been proven, that the accused was surprised from behind, at night, in
his house beside his wife who was nursing her child, was attacked, struck, and beaten,
without being able to distinguish with which they might have executed their criminal
intent, because of the there was no other than fire light in the room, and considering that
in such a situation and when the acts executed demonstrated that they might endanger
his existence, and possibly that of his wife and child, more especially because his
assailant was unknown, he should have defended himself, and in doing so with the
same stick with which he was attacked, he did not exceed the limits of self-defense, nor
did he use means which were not rationally necessary, particularly because the

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instrument with which he killed was the one which he took from his assailant, and was
capable of producing death, and in the darkness of the house and the consteration
which naturally resulted from such strong aggression, it was not given him to known or
distinguish whether there was one or more assailants, nor the arms which they might
bear, not that which they might accomplish, and considering that the lower court did not
find from the accepted facts that there existed rational necessity for the means
employed, and that it did not apply paragraph 4 of article 8 of the Penal Code, it erred,
etc." (Sentence of supreme court of Spain, February 28, 1876.) (Viada, Vol. I, p. 266.) .

criminal branch of the Audiencia of Zaragoza finds that there existed in favor of the
accused a majority of the requisites to exempt him from criminal responsibility, but not
that of reasonable necessity for the means, employed, and condemned the accused to
twelve months of prision correctional for the homicide committed. Upon appeal, the
supreme court acquitted the condemned, finding that the accused, in firing at the
malefactors, who attack his mill at night in a remote spot by threatening robbery and
incendiarism, was acting in just self-defense of his person, property, and family.
(Sentence of May 23, 1877). (I Viada, p. 128.)

QUESTION XIX. A person returning, at night, to his house, which was situated in a
retired part of the city, upon arriving at a point where there was no light, heard the voice
of a man, at a distance of some 8 paces, saying: "Face down, hand over you money!"
because of which, and almost at the same money, he fired two shots from his pistol,
distinguishing immediately the voice of one of his friends (who had before simulated a
different voice) saying, "Oh! they have killed me," and hastening to his assistance,
finding the body lying upon the ground, he cried, "Miguel, Miguel, speak, for God's sake,
or I am ruined," realizing that he had been the victim of a joke, and not receiving a reply,
and observing that his friend was a corpse, he retired from the place. Shall he be
declared exempt in toto from responsibility as the author of this homicide, as having
acted in just self-defense under the circumstances defined in paragraph 4, article 8,
Penal Code? The criminal branch of the Audiencia of Malaga did not so find, but only
found in favor of the accused two of the requisites of said article, but not that of the
reasonableness of the means employed to repel the attack, and, therefore, condemned
the accused to eight years and one day of prison mayor, etc. The supreme court
acquitted the accused on his appeal from this sentence, holding that the accused was
acting under a justifiable and excusable mistake of fact as to the identity of the person
calling to him, and that under the circumstances, the darkness and remoteness, etc., the
means employed were rational and the shooting justifiable. (Sentence supreme court,
March 17, 1885.) (Viada, Vol. I, p. 136.)

A careful examination of the facts as disclosed in the case at bar convinces us that the
defendant Chinaman struck the fatal blow alleged in the information in the firm belief
that the intruder who forced open the door of his sleeping room was a thief, from whose
assault he was in imminent peril, both of his life and of his property and of the property
committed to his charge; that in view of all the circumstances, as they must have
presented themselves to the defendant at the time, he acted in good faith, without
malice, or criminal intent, in the belief that he was doing no more than exercising his
legitimate right of self-defense; that had the facts been as he believed them to be he
would have been wholly exempt from criminal liability on account of his act; and that he
can not be said to have been guilty of negligence or recklessness or even carelessness
in falling into his mistake as to the facts, or in the means adopted by him to defend
himself from the imminent danger which he believe threatened his person and his
property and the property under his charge.

QUESTION VI. The owner of a mill, situated in a remote spot, is awakened, at night, by
a large stone thrown against his window at this, he puts his head out of the window
and inquires what is wanted, and is answered "the delivery of all of his money, otherwise
his house would be burned" because of which, and observing in an alley adjacent to
the mill four individuals, one of whom addressed him with blasphemy, he fired his pistol
at one the men, who, on the next morning was found dead on the same spot. Shall this
man be declared exempt from criminal responsibility as having acted in just self-defense
with all of the requisites of law? The criminal branch of the requisites of law? The

The judgment of conviction and the sentence imposed by the trial court should be
reversed, and the defendant acquitted of the crime with which he is charged and his bail
bond exonerated, with the costs of both instance de oficio. So ordered.

AMADO ALVARADO GARCIA,


Petitioner, - versus - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
Respondent.
G.R. No. 171951
Promulgated:
August 28, 2009
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

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DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:
For review on certiorari is the Decision[1] dated December 20, 2005 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R.-CR No. 27544 affirming the Decision[2] dated July 2, 2003 of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 9, Aparri, Cagayan, which found petitioner Amado
Garcia guilty beyond reasonable doubt of homicide. Contested as well is the appellate
courts Resolution[3] dated March 13, 2006 denying petitioners Motion for
Reconsideration.[4]
On February 10, 2000, petitioner was charged with murder in an Information that alleges
as follows:
The undersigned, Provincial Prosecutor accuses AMADO GARCIA @ Manding of the
crime of Murder, defined and penalized under Article [248] of the Revised Penal Code,
as amended by Republic Act No. 7659, committed as follows:
That on or about September 29, 1999, in the municipality of Aparri, province of
Cagayan, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused,
armed with a bottle, with intent to kill, with evident premeditation and with treachery, did
then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously assault, attack, box, club and maul one
Manuel K. Chy, inflicting upon the latter fatal injuries which caused his death.
CONTRARY TO LAW.[5]
Upon arraignment, petitioner entered a not guilty plea. Thereafter, trial on the merits
ensued.
The factual antecedents are as follows:
At approximately 11:00 a.m. on September 26, 1999, petitioner, Fidel Foz, Jr. and
Armando Foz had a drinking spree at the apartment unit of Bogie Tacuboy, which was
adjacent to the house of Manuel K. Chy. At around 7:00 p.m., Chy appealed for the
group to quiet down as the noise from the videoke machine was blaring. It was not until
Chy requested a second time that the group acceded. Unknown to Chy, this left
petitioner irate and petitioner was heard to have said in the Ilocano vernacular, Dayta a
Manny napangas makaala caniac dayta. (This Manny is arrogant, I will lay a hand on
him.)[6]
On September 28, 1999, the group met again to celebrate the marriage of Ador Tacuboy
not far from Chys apartment. Maya Mabbun advised the group to stop singing lest they
be told off again. This further infuriated petitioner who remarked, Talaga a napangas ni
Manny saan ko a pagbayagen daytoy, meaning, This Manny is really arrogant, I will not
let him live long.[7]
Yet again, at around 12:00 p.m. on September 29, 1999, the group convened at the
house of Foz and Garcia. There, petitioner, Foz, Jr. and Fred Rillon mused over the
drinking session on the 26th and 28th of September and the confrontation with Chy.

Enraged at the memory, petitioner blurted out Talaga a napangas dayta a day[t]oy a
Manny ikabbut ko ita. (This Manny is really arrogant, I will finish him off today.)[8] Later
that afternoon, the group headed to the store of Adela dela Cruz where they drank until
petitioner proposed that they move to Punta. On their way to Punta, the group passed by
the store of Aurelia Esquibel, Chys sister, and there, decided to have some drinks.
At this juncture, petitioner ordered Esquibel to call on Chy who, incidentally, was coming
out of his house at the time. Upon being summoned, the latter approached petitioner
who suddenly punched him in the face. Chy cried out, Bakit mo ako sinuntok hindi ka
naman [inaano]? (Why did you box me[?] Im not doing anything to you.)[9] But petitioner
kept on assaulting him. Foz attempted to pacify petitioner but was himself hit on the
nose while Chy continued to parry the blows. Petitioner reached for a bottle of beer, and
with it, struck the lower back portion of Chys head. Then, Foz shoved Chy causing the
latter to fall.
When Chy found an opportunity to escape, he ran towards his house and phoned his
wife Josefina to call the police. Chy told Josefina about the mauling and complained of
difficulty in breathing. Upon reaching Chys house, the policemen knocked five times but
nobody answered. Josefina arrived minutes later, unlocked the door and found Chy lying
unconscious on the kitchen floor, salivating. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the
hospital. The autopsy confirmed that Chy died of myocardial infarction.
After trial in due course, the RTC of Aparri, Cagayan (Branch 9) found petitioner guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of homicide. The dispositive portion of the RTC decision
reads:
WHEREFORE, the Court renders judgment:
1) Finding AMADO GARCIA guilty beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of HOMICIDE
defined and penalized by Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code and after applying in
his favor the provisions of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, hereby sentences him to
suffer an indeterminate prison term of TEN (10) YEARS OF PRISION MAYOR, as
minimum, to FOURTEEN (14) YEARS and EIGHT (8) MONTHS of RECLUSION
TEMPORAL as maximum;
2) Ordering him to pay the heirs of Manuel Chy the amount of FIFTY THOUSAND
(P50,000.00) PESOS, as death indemnity; TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND
(P200,000.00) PESOS, representing expenses for the wake and burial; THREE
HUNDRED THOUSAND (P300,000.00) PESOS, as moral damages; and THREE
HUNDRED THIRTY[-]TWO THOUSAND (P332,000.00] PESOS, as loss of earning,
plus the cost of this suit.
SO ORDERED.[10]
On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction in a Decision dated December
20, 2005, thus:

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WHEREFORE, premises considered, appeal is hereby [DENIED] and the July 2, 2003
Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Aparri, Cagayan, Branch [9], in Criminal Case
No. 08-1185, is hereby AFFIRMED IN TOTO.
SO ORDERED.[11]
Petitioner moved for reconsideration but his motion was denied in a Resolution dated
March 13, 2006.
Hence, the instant appeal of petitioner on the following grounds:
I.
THE APPELLATE COURT ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE RULING OF THE TRIAL
COURT THAT PETITIONER IS THE ONE RESPONSIBLE FOR INFLICTING THE
SLIGHT PHYSICAL INJURIES SUSTAINED BY THE DECEASED MANUEL CHY.
II.
THE APPELLATE COURT ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE RULING OF THE TRIAL
COURT FINDING PETITIONER LIABLE FOR THE DEATH OF MANUEL CHY
DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE CAUSE OF DEATH IS MYOCARDIAL INFARCTION, A
NON-VIOLENT RELATED CAUSE OF DEATH.
III.
THE APPELLATE COURT ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE RULING OF THE TRIAL
COURT WHICH CONCLUDED THAT THE HEART FAILURE OF MANUEL CHY WAS
DUE TO FRIGHT OR SHOCK CAUSED BY THE MALTREATMENT.
IV.
BOTH THE APPELLATE TRIBUNAL AND THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT
ACQUITTING THE PETITIONER ON THE GROUND OF REASONABLE DOUBT.[12]
In essence, the issue is whether or not petitioner is liable for the death of Manuel Chy.
In his undated Memorandum,[13] petitioner insists on a review of the factual findings of
the trial court because the judge who penned the decision was not the same judge who
heard the prosecution evidence. He adds that the Court of Appeals had wrongly inferred
from, misread and overlooked certain relevant and undisputed facts, which, if properly
considered, would justify a different conclusion.[14]
At the onset, petitioner denies laying a hand on Manuel Chy. Instead, he implicates
Armando Foz as the author of the victims injuries. Corollarily, he challenges the
credibility of Armandos brother, Fidel, who testified concerning his sole culpability.
Basically, petitioner disowns responsibility for Chys demise since the latter was found to
have died of myocardial infarction. In support, he amplifies the testimony of Dr. Cleofas
C. Antonio[15] that Chys medical condition could have resulted in his death anytime.
Petitioner asserts that, at most, he could be held liable for slight physical injuries
because none of the blows he inflicted on Chy was fatal.

The Office of the Solicitor General reiterates the trial courts assessment of the
witnesses and its conclusion that the beating of Chy was the proximate cause of his
death.
Upon careful consideration of the evidence presented by the prosecution as well as the
defense in this case, we are unable to consider the petitioners appeal with favor.
The present petition was brought under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, yet, petitioner
raises questions of fact. Indeed, it is opportune to reiterate that this Court is not the
proper forum from which to secure a re-evaluation of factual issues, save where the
factual findings of the trial court do not find support in the evidence on record or where
the judgment appealed from was based on a misapprehension of facts.[16] Neither
exception applies in the instant case as would justify a departure from the established
rule.
Further, petitioner invokes a recognized exception to the rule on non-interference with
the determination of the credibility of witnesses. He points out that the judge who
penned the decision is not the judge who received the evidence and heard the
witnesses. But while the situation obtains in this case, the exception does not. The
records reveal that Judge Conrado F. Manauis inhibited from the proceedings upon
motion of no less than the petitioner himself. Consequently, petitioner cannot seek
protection from the alleged adverse consequence his own doing might have caused. For
us to allow petitioner relief based on this argument would be to sanction a travesty of the
Rules which was designed to further, rather than subdue, the ends of justice.
We reiterate, the efficacy of a decision is not necessarily impaired by the fact that the
ponente only took over from a colleague who had earlier presided over the trial. It does
not follow that the judge who was not present during the trial, or a fraction thereof,
cannot render a valid and just decision.[17] Here, Judge Andres Q. Cipriano took over
the case after Judge Manauis recused himself from the proceedings. Even so, Judge
Cipriano not only heard the evidence for the defense, he also had an opportunity to
observe Dr. Cleofas Antonio who was recalled to clarify certain points in his testimony.
Worth mentioning, too, is the fact that Judge Cipriano presided during the taking of the
testimonies of Fidel Foz, Jr. and Alvin Pascua on rebuttal.
In any case, it is not unusual for a judge who did not try a case in its entirety to decide it
on the basis of the records on hand.[18] He can rely on the transcripts of stenographic
notes and calibrate the testimonies of witnesses in accordance with their conformity to
common experience, knowledge and observation of ordinary men. Such reliance does
not violate substantive and procedural due process of law.[19]
The Autopsy Report on the body of Manuel Chy disclosed the following injuries:
POSTMORTEM FINDINGS
Body embalmed, well preserved.

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Cyanotic lips and nailbeds.


Contusions, dark bluish red: 4.5 x 3.0 cms., lower portion of the left ear; 4.0 x 2.8 cms.,
left inferior mastoid region; 2.5 x 1.1 cms., upper lip; 2.7 x 1.0 cms., lower lip; 5.8 x 5.5
cms., dorsum of left hand.
Lacerated wound, 0.8 cm., involving mucosal surface of the upper lip on the right side.
No fractures noted.
Brain with tortuous vessels. Cut sections show congestion. No hemorrhage noted.
Heart, with abundant fat adherent on its epicardial surface. Cut sections show a reddish
brown myocardium with an area of hyperemia on the whole posterior wall, the lower
portion of the anterior wall and the inferior portion of the septum. Coronary arteries,
gritty, with the caliber of the lumen reduced by approximately thirty (30%) percent.
Histopathological findings show mild fibrosis of the myocardium.
Lungs, pleural surfaces, shiny; with color ranging from dark red to dark purple. Cut
sections show a gray periphery with reddish brown central portion with fluid oozing on
pressure with some reddish frothy materials noted. Histopathological examinations show
pulmonary edema and hemorrhages.
Kidneys, purplish with glistening capsule. Cut sections show congestion.
Histopathological examinations show mild lymphocytic infiltration.
Stomach, one-half (1/2) full with brownish and whitish materials and other partially
digested food particles.
CAUSE OF DEATH: - Myocardial Infarction. (Emphasis supplied.)[20]
At first, petitioner denied employing violence against Chy. In his undated Memorandum,
however, he admitted inflicting injuries on the deceased, albeit, limited his liability to
slight physical injuries. He argues that the superficial wounds sustained by Chy did not
cause his death.[21] Quite the opposite, however, a conscientious analysis of the
records would acquaint us with the causal connection between the death of the victim
and the mauling that preceded it. In open court, Dr. Antonio identified the immediate
cause of Chys myocardial infarction:
ATTY. TUMARU:
Q: You diagnose[d] the cause of death to be myocardial infarction that is because there
was an occlusion in the artery that prevented the flowing of blood into the heart?
A: That was not exactly seen at the autopsy table but it changes, the hyperemic
changes [in] the heart muscle were the one[s] that made us [think] or gave strong
conclusion that it was myocardial infarction, and most likely the cause is occlusion of the
blood vessels itself. (Emphasis supplied.)[22]
By definition, coronary occlusion[23] is the complete obstruction of an artery of the
heart, usually from progressive arteriosclerosis[24] or the thickening and loss of

elasticity of the arterial walls. This can result from sudden emotion in a person with an
existing arteriosclerosis; otherwise, a heart attack will not occur.[25] Dr. Jessica Romero
testified on direct examination relative to this point:
ATTY. CALASAN:
Q: Could an excitement trigger a myocardial infarction?
A: Excitement, I cannot say that if the patient is normal[;] that is[,] considering that the
patient [does] not have any previous [illness] of hypertension, no previous history of
myocardial [ischemia], no previous [arteriosis] or hardening of the arteries, then
excitement [cannot] cause myocardial infarction. (Emphasis supplied.)[26]
The Autopsy Report bears out that Chy has a mild fibrosis of the myocardium[27]
caused by a previous heart attack. Said fibrosis[28] or formation of fibrous tissue or scar
tissue rendered the middle and thickest layer of the victims heart less elastic and
vulnerable to coronary occlusion from sudden emotion. This causation is elucidated by
the testimony of Dr. Antonio:
ATTY. CALASAN:
Q: You said that the physical injuries will cause no crisis on the part of the victim,
Doctor?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: And [these] physical injuries [were] caused by the [boxing] on the mouth and[/]or
hitting on the nape by a bottle?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: On the part of the deceased, that [was] caused definitely by emotional crisis, Doctor?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: And because of this emotional crisis the heart palpitated so fast, so much so, that
there was less oxygen being pumped by the heart?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: And definitely that caused his death, Doctor?
A: Yes, sir, it could be.[29]
In concurrence, Dr. Antonio A. Paguirigan also testified as follows:
ATTY. CALASAN:
Q: I will repeat the question Dr. Antonio testified that the deceased died because of the
blow that was inflicted, it triggered the death of the deceased, do you agree with his
findings, Doctor?
A: Not probably the blow but the reaction sir.
Q: So you agree with him, Doctor?
A: It could be, sir.
Q: You agree with him on that point, Doctor?
A: Yes, sir.[30]

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It can be reasonably inferred from the foregoing statements that the emotional strain
from the beating aggravated Chys delicate constitution and led to his death. The
inevitable conclusion then surfaces that the myocardial infarction suffered by the victim
was the direct, natural and logical consequence of the felony that petitioner had
intended to commit.
Article 4(1) of the Revised Penal Code states that criminal liability shall be incurred by
any person committing a felony (delito) although the wrongful act done be different from
that which he intended. The essential requisites for the application of this provision are:
(a) the intended act is felonious; (b) the resulting act is likewise a felony; and (c) the
unintended albeit graver wrong was primarily caused by the actors wrongful acts.[31]
In this case, petitioner was committing a felony when he boxed the victim and hit him
with a bottle. Hence, the fact that Chy was previously afflicted with a heart ailment does
not alter petitioners liability for his death. Ingrained in our jurisprudence is the doctrine
laid down in the case of United States v. Brobst[32] that:
x x x where death results as a direct consequence of the use of illegal violence, the
mere fact that the diseased or weakened condition of the injured person contributed to
his death, does not relieve the illegal aggressor of criminal responsibility.[33]
In the same vein, United States v. Rodriguez[34] enunciates that:
x x x although the assaulted party was previously affected by some internal malady, if,
because of a blow given with the hand or the foot, his death was hastened, beyond
peradventure he is responsible therefor who produced the cause for such acceleration
as the result of a voluntary and unlawfully inflicted injury. (Emphasis supplied.)[35]
In this jurisdiction, a person committing a felony is responsible for all the natural and
logical consequences resulting from it although the unlawful act performed is different
from the one he intended;[36] el que es causa de la causa es causa del mal causado
(he who is the cause of the cause is the cause of the evil caused).[37] Thus, the
circumstance that petitioner did not intend so grave an evil as the death of the victim
does not exempt him from criminal liability. Since he deliberately committed an act
prohibited by law, said condition simply mitigates his guilt in accordance with Article
13(3)[38] of the Revised Penal Code.[39] Nevertheless, we must appreciate as
mitigating circumstance in favor of petitioner the fact that the physical injuries he inflicted
on the victim, could not have resulted naturally and logically, in the actual death of the
victim, if the latters heart was in good condition.
Considering that the petitioner has in his favor the mitigating circumstance of lack of
intention to commit so grave a wrong as that committed without any aggravating
circumstance to offset it, the imposable penalty should be in the minimum period, that is,
reclusion temporal in its minimum period,[40]or anywhere from twelve (12) years and
one (1) day to fourteen years (14) years and eight (8) months. Applying the

Indeterminate Sentence Law,[41] the trial court properly imposed upon petitioner an
indeterminate penalty of ten (10) years of prisin mayor, as minimum, to fourteen (14)
years and eight (8) months of reclusion temporal as maximum.
We shall, however, modify the award of damages to the heirs of Manuel Chy for his loss
of earning capacity in the amount of P332,000. In fixing the indemnity, the victims actual
income at the time of death and probable life expectancy are taken into account. For this
purpose, the Court adopts the formula used in People v. Malinao:[42]
Net earning capacity = 2/3 x (80-age of x a reasonable portion of the
the victim at the annual net income which time of this death) would have been received
by the heirs for support.[43]
Branch 9 of the Aparri, Cagayan RTC took judicial notice of the salary which Manuel
Chy was receiving as a sheriff of the court. At the time of his death, Chy was 51 years
old and was earning a gross monthly income of P10,600 or a gross annual income of
P127,200. But, in view of the victims delicate condition, the trial court reduced his life
expectancy to 10 years. It also deducted P7,000 from Chys salary as reasonable living
expense. However, the records are bereft of showing that the heirs of Chy submitted
evidence to substantiate actual living expenses. And in the absence of proof of living
expenses, jurisprudence[44] approximates net income to be 50% of the gross income.
Accordingly, by reason of his death, the heirs of Manuel Chy should be awarded
P1,229,600 as loss of earning capacity, computed as follows:
Net earning capacity = 2/3 x (80-51) x [P127,200 - (P127,200)]
= 2/3 x (29) x P63,600
= 19 1/3 x P63,600
= P1,229,600
We sustain the trial courts grant of funerary expense of P200,000 as stipulated by the
parties[45] and civil indemnity of P50,000.[46] Anent moral damages, the same is
mandatory in cases of murder and homicide, without need of allegation and proof other
than the death of the victim.[47] However, in obedience to the controlling case law, the
amount of moral damages should be reduced to P50,000.
WHEREFORE, the Decision dated December 20, 2005 and the Resolution dated March
13, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.-CR No. 27544 are AFFIRMED with
MODIFICATION in that the award of moral damages is reduced to P50,000. Petitioner is
further ordered to indemnify the heirs of Manuel K. Chy P50,000 as civil indemnity;
P200,000, representing expenses for the wake and burial; and P1,229,600 as loss of
earning capacity.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.

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G.R. No. 72964


January 7, 1988
FILOMENO URBANO, petitioner,
vs.
HON. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT AND PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
respondents.

barrio councilman Felipe Solis instead. Upon the advice of Solis, the Erfes together with
Javier went to the police station of San Fabian to report the incident. As suggested by
Corporal Torio, Javier was brought to a physician. The group went to Dr. Guillermo
Padilla, rural health physician of San Fabian, who did not attend to Javier but instead
suggested that they go to Dr. Mario Meneses because Padilla had no available
medicine.
After Javier was treated by Dr. Meneses, he and his companions returned to Dr.
Guillermo Padilla who conducted a medico-legal examination. Dr. Padilla issued a
medico-legal certificate (Exhibit "C" dated September 28, 1981) which reads:

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

This is a petition to review the decision of the then Intermediate Appellate Court which
affirmed the decision of the then Circuit Criminal Court of Dagupan City finding
petitioner Filomeno Urban guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of homicide.

This is to certify that I have examined the wound of Marcelo Javier, 20 years of age,
married, residing at Barangay Anonang, San Fabian, Pangasinan on October 23, 1980
and found the following:

The records disclose the following facts of the case.

1
-Incised wound 2 inches in length at the upper portion of the lesser palmar prominence,
right.

At about 8:00 o'clock in the morning of October 23, 1980, petitioner Filomeno Urbano
went to his ricefield at Barangay Anonang, San Fabian, Pangasinan located at about
100 meters from the tobacco seedbed of Marcelo Javier. He found the place where he
stored his palay flooded with water coming from the irrigation canal nearby which had
overflowed. Urbano went to the elevated portion of the canal to see what happened and
there he saw Marcelo Javier and Emilio Erfe cutting grass. He asked them who was
responsible for the opening of the irrigation canal and Javier admitted that he was the
one. Urbano then got angry and demanded that Javier pay for his soaked palay. A
quarrel between them ensued. Urbano unsheathed his bolo (about 2 feet long, including
the handle, by 2 inches wide) and hacked Javier hitting him on the right palm of his
hand, which was used in parrying the bolo hack. Javier who was then unarmed ran
away from Urbano but was overtaken by Urbano who hacked him again hitting Javier on
the left leg with the back portion of said bolo, causing a swelling on said leg. When
Urbano tried to hack and inflict further injury, his daughter embraced and prevented him
from hacking Javier.
Immediately thereafter, Antonio Erfe, Emilio Erfe, and Felipe Erfe brought Javier to his
house about 50 meters away from where the incident happened. Emilio then went to the
house of Barangay Captain Menardo Soliven but not finding him there, Emilio looked for

As to my observation the incapacitation is from (7-9) days period. This wound was
presented to me only for medico-legal examination, as it was already treated by the
other doctor. (p. 88, Original Records)
Upon the intercession of Councilman Solis, Urbano and Javier agreed to settle their
differences. Urbano promised to pay P700.00 for the medical expenses of Javier.
Hence, on October 27, 1980, the two accompanied by Solis appeared before the San
Fabian Police to formalize their amicable settlement. Patrolman Torio recorded the event
in the police blotter (Exhibit A), to wit:
xxx
xxx
xxx
Entry Nr 599/27 Oct '80/103OH/ Re entry Nr 592 on page 257 both parties appeared
before this Station accompanied by brgy. councilman Felipe Solis and settled their case
amicably, for they are neighbors and close relatives to each other. Marcelo Javier

66 of 90

accepted and granted forgiveness to Filomeno Urbano who shoulder (sic) all the
expenses in his medical treatment, and promising to him and to this Office that this will
never be repeated anymore and not to harbour any grudge against each other. (p. 87,
Original Records.)
Urbano advanced P400.00 to Javier at the police station. On November 3, 1980, the
additional P300.00 was given to Javier at Urbano's house in the presence of barangay
captain Soliven.
At about 1:30 a.m. on November 14, 1980, Javier was rushed to the Nazareth General
Hospital in a very serious condition. When admitted to the hospital, Javier had lockjaw
and was having convulsions. Dr. Edmundo Exconde who personally attended to Javier
found that the latter's serious condition was caused by tetanus toxin. He noticed the
presence of a healing wound in Javier's palm which could have been infected by
tetanus.
On November 15, 1980 at exactly 4:18 p.m., Javier died in the hospital. The medical
findings of Dr. Exconde are as follows:
Date Diagnosis
11-14-80 ADMITTED due to trismus
adm. at DX TETANUS
1:30 AM Still having frequent muscle spasm. With diffi#35, 421 culty opening his mouth. Restless at times. Febrile
11-15-80 Referred. Novaldin 1 amp. inj. IM. Sudden cessation of respiration and HR after muscular spasm.
02 inhalation administered. Ambo bag resuscitation and cardiac massage done but to no avail.

PMC done and cadaver brought home by relatives. (p. 100, Original Records)
In an information dated April 10, 1981, Filomeno Urbano was charged with the crime of
homicide before the then Circuit Criminal Court of Dagupan City, Third Judicial District.
Upon arraignment, Urbano pleaded "not guilty." After trial, the trial court found Urbano
guilty as charged. He was sentenced to suffer an indeterminate prison term of from
TWELVE (12) YEARS of prision mayor, as minimum to SEVENTEEN (17) years, FOUR
(4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of reclusion temporal, as maximum, together with the
accessories of the law, to indemnify the heirs of the victim, Marcelo Javier, in the amount
of P12,000.00 without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to pay the
costs. He was ordered confined at the New Bilibid Prison, in Muntinlupa, Rizal upon
finality of the decision, in view of the nature of his penalty.
The then Intermediate Appellate Court affirmed the conviction of Urbano on appeal but
raised the award of indemnity to the heirs of the deceased to P30,000.00 with costs
against the appellant.
The appellant filed a motion for reconsideration and/or new trial. The motion for new trial
was based on an affidavit of Barangay Captain Menardo Soliven (Annex "A") which
states:
That in 1980, I was the barrio captain of Barrio Anonang, San Fabian, Pangasinan, and
up to the present having been re-elected to such position in the last barangay elections
on May 17, 1982;
That sometime in the first week of November, 1980, there was a typhoon that swept
Pangasinan and other places of Central Luzon including San Fabian, a town of said
province;
That during the typhoon, the sluice or control gates of the Bued irrigation dam which
irrigates the ricefields of San Fabian were closed and/or controlled so much so that
water and its flow to the canals and ditches were regulated and reduced;

Pronounced dead by Dra. Cabugao at 4:18 P.M.

67 of 90

That due to the locking of the sluice or control gates of the dam leading to the canals
and ditches which will bring water to the ricefields, the water in said canals and ditches
became shallow which was suitable for catching mudfishes;
That after the storm, I conducted a personal survey in the area affected, with my
secretary Perfecto Jaravata;
That on November 5, 1980, while I was conducting survey, I saw the late Marcelo Javier
catching fish in the shallow irrigation canals with some companions;
That few days there after,or on November l5, l980, I came to know that said Marcelo
Javier died of tetanus. (p. 33, Rollo)
The motion was denied. Hence, this petition.
In a resolution dated July 16, 1986, we gave due course to the petition.

by the appellant. Said wound which was in the process of healing got infected with
tetanus which ultimately caused his death.
Dr. Edmundo Exconde of the Nazareth General Hospital testified that the victim suffered
lockjaw because of the infection of the wound with tetanus. And there is no other way by
which he could be infected with tetanus except through the wound in his palm (tsn., p.
78, Oct. 5, 1981). Consequently, the proximate cause of the victim's death was the
wound which got infected with tetanus. And the settled rule in this jurisdiction is that an
accused is liable for all the consequences of his unlawful act. (Article 4, par. 1, R.P.C.
People v. Red, CA 43 O.G. 5072; People v. Cornel 78 Phil. 418).
Appellant's allegation that the proximate cause of the victim's death was due to his own
negligence in going back to work without his wound being properly healed, and lately,
that he went to catch fish in dirty irrigation canals in the first week of November, 1980, is
an afterthought, and a desperate attempt by appellant to wiggle out of the predicament
he found himself in. If the wound had not yet healed, it is impossible to conceive that the
deceased would be reckless enough to work with a disabled hand. (pp. 20-21, Rollo)

The case involves the application of Article 4 of the Revised Penal Code which provides
that "Criminal liability shall be incurred: (1) By any person committing a felony (delito)
although the wrongful act done be different from that which he intended ..." Pursuant to
this provision "an accused is criminally responsible for acts committed by him in violation
of law and for all the natural and logical consequences resulting therefrom." (People v.
Cardenas, 56 SCRA 631).

The petitioner reiterates his position that the proximate cause of the death of Marcelo
Javier was due to his own negligence, that Dr. Mario Meneses found no tetanus in the
injury, and that Javier got infected with tetanus when after two weeks he returned to his
farm and tended his tobacco plants with his bare hands exposing the wound to harmful
elements like tetanus germs.

The record is clear that Marcelo Javier was hacked by the petitioner who used a bolo as
a result of which Javier suffered a 2-inch incised wound on his right palm; that on
November 14, 1981 which was the 22nd day after the incident, Javier was rushed to the
hospital in a very serious condition and that on the following day, November 15, 1981,
he died from tetanus.

The evidence on record does not clearly show that the wound inflicted by Urbano was
infected with tetanus at the time of the infliction of the wound. The evidence merely
confirms that the wound, which was already healing at the time Javier suffered the
symptoms of the fatal ailment, somehow got infected with tetanus However, as to when
the wound was infected is not clear from the record.

Under these circumstances, the lower courts ruled that Javier's death was the natural
and logical consequence of Urbano's unlawful act. Hence, he was declared responsible
for Javier's death. Thus, the appellate court said:

In Vda. de Bataclan, et al. v. Medina (102 Phil. 1181), we adopted the following
definition of proximate cause:

The claim of appellant that there was an efficient cause which supervened from the time
the deceased was wounded to the time of his death, which covers a period of 23 days
does not deserve serious consideration. True, that the deceased did not die right away
from his wound, but the cause of his death was due to said wound which was inflicted

xxx
xxx
xxx

68 of 90

... A satisfactory definition of proximate cause is found in Volume 38, pages 695-696 of
American Jurisprudence, cited by plaintiffs-appellants in their brief. It is as follows:
... "that cause, which, in natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by any efficient
intervening cause, produces the injury, and without which the result would not have
occurred."And more comprehensively, "the proximate legal cause is that acting first and
producing the injury, either immediately or by setting other events in motion, all
constituting a natural and continuous chain of events, each having a close causal
connection with its immediate predecessor, the final event in the chain immediately
effecting the injury as a natural and probable result of the cause which first acted, under
such circumstances that the person responsible for the first event should, as an
ordinarily prudent and intelligent person, have reasonable ground to expect at the
moment of his act or default that an injury to some person might probably result
therefrom." (at pp. 185-186)
The issue, therefore, hinges on whether or not there was an efficient intervening cause
from the time Javier was wounded until his death which would exculpate Urbano from
any liability for Javier's death.
We look into the nature of tetanusThe incubation period of tetanus, i.e., the time between injury and the appearance of
unmistakable symptoms, ranges from 2 to 56 days. However, over 80 percent of patients
become symptomatic within 14 days. A short incubation period indicates severe
disease, and when symptoms occur within 2 or 3 days of injury the mortality rate
approaches 100 percent.
Non-specific premonitory symptoms such as restlessness, irritability, and headache are
encountered occasionally, but the commonest presenting complaints are pain and
stiffness in the jaw, abdomen, or back and difficulty swallowing. As the progresses,
stiffness gives way to rigidity, and patients often complain of difficulty opening their
mouths. In fact, trismus in the commonest manifestation of tetanus and is responsible
for the familiar descriptive name of lockjaw. As more muscles are involved, rigidity
becomes generalized, and sustained contractions called risus sardonicus. The intensity
and sequence of muscle involvement is quite variable. In a small proportion of patients,
only local signs and symptoms develop in the region of the injury. In the vast majority,
however, most muscles are involved to some degree, and the signs and symptoms
encountered depend upon the major muscle groups affected.

Reflex spasm usually occur within 24 to 72 hours of the first symptom, an interval
referred to as the onset time. As in the case of the incubation period, a short onset time
is associated with a poor prognosis. Spasms are caused by sudden intensification of
afferent stimuli arising in the periphery, which increases rigidity and causes
simultaneous and excessive contraction of muscles and their antagonists. Spasms may
be both painful and dangerous. As the disease progresses, minimal or inapparent
stimuli produce more intense and longer lasting spasms with increasing frequency.
Respiration may be impaired by laryngospasm or tonic contraction of respiratory
muscles which prevent adequate ventilation. Hypoxia may then lead to irreversible
central nervous system damage and death.
Mild tetanus is characterized by an incubation period of at least 14 days and an onset
time of more than 6 days. Trismus is usually present, but dysphagia is absent and
generalized spasms are brief and mild. Moderately severe tetanus has a somewhat
shorter incubation period and onset time; trismus is marked, dysphagia and generalized
rigidity are present, but ventilation remains adequate even during spasms. The criteria
for severe tetanus include a short incubation time, and an onset time of 72 hrs., or less,
severe trismus, dysphagia and rigidity and frequent prolonged, generalized convulsive
spasms. (Harrison's Principle of Internal Medicine, 1983 Edition, pp. 1004-1005;
Emphasis supplied)
Therefore, medically speaking, the reaction to tetanus found inside a man's body
depends on the incubation period of the disease.
In the case at bar, Javier suffered a 2-inch incised wound on his right palm when he
parried the bolo which Urbano used in hacking him. This incident took place on October
23, 1980. After 22 days, or on November 14, 1980, he suffered the symptoms of
tetanus, like lockjaw and muscle spasms. The following day, November 15, 1980, he
died.
If, therefore, the wound of Javier inflicted by the appellant was already infected by
tetanus germs at the time, it is more medically probable that Javier should have been
infected with only a mild cause of tetanus because the symptoms of tetanus appeared
on the 22nd day after the hacking incident or more than 14 days after the infliction of the
wound. Therefore, the onset time should have been more than six days. Javier, however,
died on the second day from the onset time. The more credible conclusion is that at the
time Javier's wound was inflicted by the appellant, the severe form of tetanus that killed

69 of 90

him was not yet present. Consequently, Javier's wound could have been infected with
tetanus after the hacking incident. Considering the circumstance surrounding Javier's
death, his wound could have been infected by tetanus 2 or 3 or a few but not 20 to 22
days before he died.
The rule is that the death of the victim must be the direct, natural, and logical
consequence of the wounds inflicted upon him by the accused. (People v. Cardenas,
supra) And since we are dealing with a criminal conviction, the proof that the accused
caused the victim's death must convince a rational mind beyond reasonable doubt. The
medical findings, however, lead us to a distinct possibility that the infection of the wound
by tetanus was an efficient intervening cause later or between the time Javier was
wounded to the time of his death. The infection was, therefore, distinct and foreign to the
crime. (People v. Rellin, 77 Phil. 1038).
Doubts are present. There is a likelihood that the wound was but the remote cause and
its subsequent infection, for failure to take necessary precautions, with tetanus may
have been the proximate cause of Javier's death with which the petitioner had nothing to
do. As we ruled in Manila Electric Co. v. Remoquillo, et al. (99 Phil. 118).
"A prior and remote cause cannot be made the be of an action if such remote cause did
nothing more than furnish the condition or give rise to the occasion by which the injury
was made possible, if there intervened between such prior or remote cause and the
injury a distinct, successive, unrelated, and efficient cause of the injury, even though
such injury would not have happened but for such condition or occasion. If no danger
existed in the condition except because of the independent cause, such condition was
not the proximate cause. And if an independent negligent act or defective condition sets
into operation the instances which result in injury because of the prior defective
condition, such subsequent act or condition is the proximate cause." (45 C.J. pp. 931932). (at p. 125)
It strains the judicial mind to allow a clear aggressor to go scot free of criminal liability. At
the very least, the records show he is guilty of inflicting slight physical injuries. However,
the petitioner's criminal liability in this respect was wiped out by the victim's own act.
After the hacking incident, Urbano and Javier used the facilities of barangay mediators
to effect a compromise agreement where Javier forgave Urbano while Urbano defrayed
the medical expenses of Javier. This settlement of minor offenses is allowed under the
express provisions of Presidential Decree G.R. No. 1508, Section 2(3). (See also
People v. Caruncho, 127 SCRA 16).

We must stress, however, that our discussion of proximate cause and remote cause is
limited to the criminal aspects of this rather unusual case. It does not necessarily follow
that the petitioner is also free of civil liability. The well-settled doctrine is that a person,
while not criminally liable, may still be civilly liable. Thus, in the recent case of People v.
Rogelio Ligon y Tria, et al. (G.R. No. 74041, July 29, 1987), we said:
xxx
xxx
xxx
... While the guilt of the accused in a criminal prosecution must be established beyond
reasonable doubt, only a preponderance of evidence is required in a civil action for
damages. (Article 29, Civil Code). The judgment of acquittal extinguishes the civil
liability of the accused only when it includes a declaration that the facts from which the
civil liability might arise did not exist. (Padilla v. Court of Appeals, 129 SCRA 559).
The reason for the provisions of article 29 of the Civil Code, which provides that the
acquittal of the accused on the ground that his guilt has not been proved beyond
reasonable doubt does not necessarily exempt him from civil liability for the same act or
omission, has been explained by the Code Commission as follows:
The old rule that the acquittal of the accused in a criminal case also releases him from
civil liability is one of the most serious flaws in the Philippine legal system. It has given
use to numberless instances of miscarriage of justice, where the acquittal was due to a
reasonable doubt in the mind of the court as to the guilt of the accused. The reasoning
followed is that inasmuch as the civil responsibility is derived from the criminal offense,
when the latter is not proved, civil liability cannot be demanded.
This is one of those causes where confused thinking leads to unfortunate and
deplorable consequences. Such reasoning fails to draw a clear line of demarcation
between criminal liability and civil responsibility, and to determine the logical result of the
distinction. The two liabilities are separate and distinct from each other. One affects the
social order and the other, private rights. One is for the punishment or correction of the
offender while the other is for reparation of damages suffered by the aggrieved party.
The two responsibilities are so different from each other that article 1813 of the present
(Spanish) Civil Code reads thus: "There may be a compromise upon the civil action
arising from a crime; but the public action for the imposition of the legal penalty shall not

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thereby be extinguished." It is just and proper that, for the purposes of the imprisonment
of or fine upon the accused, the offense should be proved beyond reasonable doubt. But
for the purpose of indemnity the complaining party, why should the offense also be
proved beyond reasonable doubt? Is not the invasion or violation of every private right to
be proved only by a preponderance of evidence? Is the right of the aggrieved person
any less private because the wrongful act is also punishable by the criminal law?

DECISION

"For these reasons, the Commission recommends the adoption of the reform under
discussion. It will correct a serious defect in our law. It will close up an inexhaustible
source of injustice-a cause for disillusionment on the part of the innumerable persons
injured or wronged."

On appeal is the Decision[1] dated July 30, 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
CR.-H.C. No. 02550, which affirmed the Decision[2] dated September 22, 2006 of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 170, of Malabon, in Criminal Case No. 27039-MN,
finding accused-appellant Orlito Villacorta (Villacorta) guilty of murder, and sentencing
him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay the heirs of Danilo Cruz (Cruz)
the sum of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, plus the costs of suit.

The respondent court increased the P12,000.00 indemnification imposed by the trial
court to P30,000.00. However, since the indemnification was based solely on the finding
of guilt beyond reasonable doubt in the homicide case, the civil liability of the petitioner
was not thoroughly examined. This aspect of the case calls for fuller development if the
heirs of the victim are so minded.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. The questioned decision of the
then Intermediate Appellate Court, now Court of Appeals, is REVERSED and SET
ASIDE. The petitioner is ACQUITTED of the crime of homicide. Costs de oficio.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,


Plaintiff-Appellee, - versus - ORLITO VILLACORTA,
Accused-Appellant.
G.R. No. 186412
Promulgated:

September 7, 2011
x--------------------------------------------------x

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:

On June 21, 2002, an Information[3] was filed against Villacorta charging him with the
crime of murder, as follows:
That on or about 23rd day of January 2002, in Navotas, Metro Manila, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, armed with a sharpened
bamboo stick, with intent to kill, treachery and evident premeditation, did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and stab with the said weapon one
DANILO SALVADOR CRUZ, thereby inflicting upon the victim serious wounds which
caused his immediate death.

When arraigned on September 9, 2002, Villacorta pleaded not guilty.[4]


During trial, the prosecution presented as witnesses Cristina Mendeja (Mendeja) and Dr.
Domingo Belandres, Jr. (Dr. Belandres).
Mendeja narrated that on January 23, 2002, she was tending her sari-sari store located
at C-4 Road, Bagumbayan, Navotas. Both Cruz and Villacorta were regular customers
at Mendejas store. At around two oclock in the morning, while Cruz was ordering bread
at Mendejas store, Villacorta suddenly appeared and, without uttering a word, stabbed
Cruz on the left side of Cruzs body using a sharpened bamboo stick. The bamboo stick
broke and was left in Cruzs body. Immediately after the stabbing incident, Villacorta fled.
Mendeja gave chase but failed to catch Villacorta. When Mendeja returned to her store,
she saw her neighbor Aron removing the broken bamboo stick from Cruzs body.[5]
Mendeja and Aron then brought Cruz to Tondo Medical Center.[6]

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Dr. Belandres was Head of the Tetanus Department at the San Lazaro Hospital. When
Cruz sustained the stab wound on January 23, 2002, he was taken to the Tondo
Medical Center, where he was treated as an out-patient. Cruz was only brought to the
San Lazaro Hospital on February 14, 2002, where he died the following day, on
February 15, 2002. While admitting that he did not personally treat Cruz, Dr. Belandres
was able to determine, using Cruzs medical chart and diagnosis, that Cruz died of
tetanus infection secondary to stab wound.[7] Dr. Belandres specifically described the
cause of Cruzs death in the following manner:
The wound was exposed x x spurs concerted, the patient developed difficulty of opening
the mouth, spastivity of the body and abdominal pain and the cause of death is hypoxic
encephalopathy neuro transmitted due to upper G.I. bleeding x x x. Diagnosed of
Tetanus, Stage III.[8]

The prosecution also intended to present Dr. Deverni Matias (Dr. Matias), who attended
to Cruz at the San Lazaro Hospital, but the prosecution and defense agreed to dispense
with Dr. Matias testimony based on the stipulation that it would only corroborate Dr.
Belandres testimony on Cruz dying of tetanus.

Villacorta, through his counsel from the Public Attorneys Office (PAO), filed a notice of
appeal to assail his conviction by the RTC.[11] The Court of Appeals directed the PAO to
file Villacortas brief, within thirty days from receipt of notice.
Villacorta filed his Appellants Brief[12] on May 30, 2007; while the People, through the
Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), filed its Appellee's Brief[13] on October 2, 2007.
On July 30, 2008, the Court of Appeals promulgated its Decision affirming in toto the
RTC judgment of conviction against Villacorta.
Hence, Villacorta comes before this Court via the instant appeal.
Villacorta manifested that he would no longer file a supplemental brief, as he was
adopting the Appellant's Brief he filed before the Court of Appeals.[14] The OSG,
likewise, manifested that it was no longer filing a supplemental brief. [15]
In his Appellants Brief, Villacorta raised the following assignment of errors:

For its part, the defense presented Villacorta himself, who denied stabbing Cruz.
Villacorta recounted that he was on his way home from work at around two oclock in the
morning of January 21, 2002. Upon arriving home, Villacorta drank coffee then went
outside to buy cigarettes at a nearby store. When Villacorta was about to leave the
store, Cruz put his arm around Villacortas shoulder. This prompted Villacorta to box
Cruz, after which, Villacorta went home. Villacorta did not notice that Cruz got hurt.
Villacorta only found out about Cruzs death upon his arrest on July 31, 2002.[9]

On September 22, 2006, the RTC rendered a Decision finding Villacorta guilty of
murder, qualified by treachery. The dispositive portion of said Decision reads:

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN APPRECIATING THE QUALIFYING


CIRCUMSTANCE OF TREACHERY.

WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, the Court finds accused Orlito Villacorta
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Murder and is hereby sentenced to suffer
the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay the heirs of Danilo Cruz the sum of
P50,000.00 as civil indemnity for the death of said victim plus the costs of suit.[10]

III

THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT


GUILTY OF THE CRIME CHARGED DESPITE THE FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION
TO PROVE HIS GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.
II

ASSUMING ARGUENDO THAT THE ACCUSED COMMITTED A CRIME, HE COULD


ONLY BE HELD LIABLE FOR SLIGHT PHYSICAL INJURIES.[16]

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Villacorta assails the credibility of Mendeja, an eyewitness to the stabbing incident. It


was Mendeja who positively identified Villacorta as the one who stabbed Cruz in the
early morning of January 23, 2002. Villacorta asserts that Mendejas account of the
stabbing incident is replete with inconsistencies and incredulities, and is contrary to
normal human experience, such as: (1) instead of shouting or calling for help when
Villacorta allegedly stabbed Cruz, Mendeja attempted to run after and catch Villacorta;
(2) while, by Mendejas own account, there were other people who witnessed the
stabbing and could have chased after Villacorta, yet, oddly, only Mendeja did; (3) if Cruz
was stabbed so swiftly and suddenly as Mendeja described, then it would have been
physically improbable for Mendeja to have vividly recognized the perpetrator, who
immediately ran away after the stabbing; (4) after the stabbing, both Villacorta and Cruz
ran in opposite directions; and (5) Mendeja had said that the bamboo stick, the alleged
murder weapon, was left at her store, although she had also stated that the said
bamboo stick was left embedded in Cruzs body. Villacorta maintains that the
aforementioned inconsistencies are neither trivial nor inconsequential, and should
engender some doubt as to his guilt.
We are not persuaded.
To begin with, it is fundamental that the determination by the trial court of the credibility
of witnesses, when affirmed by the appellate court, is accorded full weight and credit as
well as great respect, if not conclusive effect. Such determination made by the trial court
proceeds from its first-hand opportunity to observe the demeanor of the witnesses, their
conduct and attitude under grilling examination, thereby placing the trial court in the
unique position to assess the witnesses' credibility and to appreciate their truthfulness,
honesty and candor.[17]
In this case, both the RTC and the Court of Appeals gave full faith and credence to the
testimony of prosecution witness Mendeja. The Court of Appeals rejected Villacortas
attempts to impugn Mendejas testimony, thus:
Appellants reason for concluding that witness Mendejas testimony is incredible because
she did not shout or call for help and instead run after the appellant, fails to impress the
Court because persons who witness crimes react in different ways.

x x x the makings of a human mind are unpredictable; people react differently and there
is no standard form of behavior when one is confronted by a shocking incident.
Equally lacking in merit is appellants second reason which is, other persons could have
run after the appellant after the stabbing incident. As explained by witness Mendeja, the
other person whom she identified as Aron was left to assist the appellant who was
wounded. Further, the stabbing occurred at 2:00 oclock in the morning, a time when
persons are expected to be asleep in their house, not roaming the streets.
His [Villacortas] other argument that the swiftness of the stabbing incident rendered
impossible or incredible the identification of the assailant cannot likewise prosper in view
of his admission that he was in the store of witness Mendeja on January 23, 2002 at
2:00 oclock in the morning and that he assaulted the victim by boxing him.
Even if his admission is disregarded still the evidence of record cannot support
appellants argument. Appellant and the victim were known to witness Mendeja, both
being her friends and regular customers. There was light in front of the store. An
opening in the store measuring 1 and meters enables the person inside to see persons
outside, particularly those buying articles from the store. The victim was in front of the
store buying bread when attacked. Further, immediately after the stabbing, witness
Mendeja ran after the appellant giving her additional opportunity to identify the
malefactor. Thus, authorship of the attack can be credibly ascertained.[18]

Moreover, Villacorta was unable to present any reason or motivation for Mendeja to
fabricate such a lie and falsely accuse Villacorta of stabbing Cruz on January 23, 2002.
We have ruled time and again that where the prosecution eyewitness was familiar with
both the victim and accused, and where the locus criminis afforded good visibility, and
where no improper motive can be attributed to the witness for testifying against the
accused, then her version of the story deserves much weight.[19]
The purported inconsistencies in Mendejas testimony pointed out by Villacorta are on
matters that have no bearing on the fundamental fact which Mendeja testified on: that
Villacorta stabbed Cruz in the early morning of January 23, 2002, right in front of
Mendejas store.
In the face of Mendejas positive identification of Villacorta as Cruzs stabber, Villacorta
could only muster an uncorroborated denial. Denial, like alibi, as an exonerating

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justification, is inherently weak and if uncorroborated, regresses to blatant impotence.


Like alibi, it also constitutes self-serving negative evidence which cannot be accorded
greater evidentiary weight than the declaration of credible witnesses who testify on
affirmative matters.[20]
Hence, we do not deviate from the foregoing factual findings of the RTC, as affirmed by
the Court of Appeals.
Nevertheless, there is merit in the argument proffered by Villacorta that in the event he
is found to have indeed stabbed Cruz, he should only be held liable for slight physical
injuries for the stab wound he inflicted upon Cruz. The proximate cause of Cruzs death
is the tetanus infection, and not the stab wound.
Proximate cause has been defined as that cause, which, in natural and continuous
sequence, unbroken by any efficient intervening cause, produces the injury, and without
which the result would not have occurred.[21]
In this case, immediately after he was stabbed by Villacorta in the early morning of
January 23, 2002, Cruz was rushed to and treated as an out-patient at the Tondo
Medical Center. On February 14, 2002, Cruz was admitted to the San Lazaro Hospital
for symptoms of severe tetanus infection, where he died the following day, on February
15, 2002. The prosecution did not present evidence of the emergency medical treatment
Cruz received at the Tondo Medical Center, subsequent visits by Cruz to Tondo Medical
Center or any other hospital for follow-up medical treatment of his stab wound, or Cruzs
activities between January 23 to February 14, 2002.
In Urbano v. Intermediate Appellate Court,[22] the Court was confronted with a case of
very similar factual background as the one at bar. During an altercation on October 23,
1980, Urbano hacked Javier with a bolo, inflicting an incised wound on Javiers hand.
Javier was treated by Dr. Meneses. On November 14, 1980, Javier was rushed to the
hospital with lockjaw and convulsions. Dr. Exconde, who attended to Javier, found that
Javiers serious condition was caused by tetanus infection. The next day, on November
15, 1980, Javier died. An Information was filed against Urbano for homicide. Both the
Circuit Criminal Court and the Intermediate Appellate Court found Urbano guilty of
homicide, because Javier's death was the natural and logical consequence of Urbano's
unlawful act. Urbano appealed before this Court, arguing that Javiers own negligence
was the proximate cause of his death. Urbano alleged that when Dr. Meneses examined

Javiers wound, he did not find any tetanus infection and that Javier could have acquired
the tetanus germs when he returned to work on his farm only two (2) weeks after
sustaining his injury. The Court granted Urbanos appeal.
We quote extensively from the ratiocination of the Court in Urbano:
The issue, therefore, hinges on whether or not there was an efficient intervening cause
from the time Javier was wounded until his death which would exculpate Urbano from
any liability for Javier's death.
We look into the nature of tetanusThe incubation period of tetanus, i.e., the time between injury and the appearance of
unmistakable symptoms, ranges from 2 to 56 days. However, over 80 percent of patients
become symptomatic within 14 days. A short incubation period indicates severe
disease, and when symptoms occur within 2 or 3 days of injury the mortality rate
approaches 100 percent.
Non-specific premonitory symptoms such as restlessness, irritability, and headache are
encountered occasionally, but the commonest presenting complaints are pain and
stiffness in the jaw, abdomen, or back and difficulty swallowing. As the disease
progresses, stiffness gives way to rigidity, and patients often complain of difficulty
opening their mouths. In fact, trismus is the commonest manifestation of tetanus and is
responsible for the familiar descriptive name of lockjaw. As more muscles are involved,
rigidity becomes generalized, and sustained contractions called risus sardonicus. The
intensity and sequence of muscle involvement is quite variable. In a small proportion of
patients, only local signs and symptoms develop in the region of the injury. In the vast
majority, however, most muscles are involved to some degree, and the signs and
symptoms encountered depend upon the major muscle groups affected.
Reflex spasm usually occur within 24 to 72 hours of the first symptoms, an interval
referred to as the onset time. As in the case of the incubation period, a short onset time
is associated with a poor prognosis. Spasms are caused by sudden intensification of
afferent stimuli arising in the periphery, which increases rigidity and causes
simultaneous and excessive contraction of muscles and their antagonists. Spasms may
be both painful and dangerous. As the disease progresses, minimal or inapparent
stimuli produce more intense and longer lasting spasms with increasing frequency.
Respiration may be impaired by laryngospasm or tonic contraction of respiratory

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muscles which prevent adequate ventilation. Hypoxia may then lead to irreversible
central nervous system damage and death.

the Court that Javier acquired the severe tetanus infection from the hacking incident. We
explained in Urbano that:

Mild tetanus is characterized by an incubation period of at least 14 days and an onset


time of more than 6 days. Trismus is usually present, but dysphagia is absent and
generalized spasms are brief and mild. Moderately severe tetanus has a somewhat
shorter incubation period and onset time; trismus is marked, dysphagia and generalized
rigidity are present, but ventilation remains adequate even during spasms. The criteria
for severe tetanus include a short incubation time, and an onset time of 72 hrs., or less,
severe trismus, dysphagia and rigidity and frequent prolonged, generalized convulsive
spasms. (Harrison's Principle of Internal Medicine, 1983 Edition, pp. 1004-1005;
Emphasis supplied)

The rule is that the death of the victim must be the direct, natural, and logical
consequence of the wounds inflicted upon him by the accused. (People v. Cardenas,
supra) And since we are dealing with a criminal conviction, the proof that the accused
caused the victim's death must convince a rational mind beyond reasonable doubt. The
medical findings, however, lead us to a distinct possibility that the infection of the wound
by tetanus was an efficient intervening cause later or between the time Javier was
wounded to the time of his death. The infection was, therefore, distinct and foreign to the
crime. (People v. Rellin, 77 Phil. 1038).

Therefore, medically speaking, the reaction to tetanus found inside a man's body
depends on the incubation period of the disease.
In the case at bar, Javier suffered a 2-inch incised wound on his right palm when he
parried the bolo which Urbano used in hacking him. This incident took place on October
23, 1980. After 22 days, or on November 14, 1980, he suffered the symptoms of
tetanus, like lockjaw and muscle spasms. The following day, November 15, 1980, he
died.
If, therefore, the wound of Javier inflicted by the appellant was already infected by
tetanus germs at the time, it is more medically probable that Javier should have been
infected with only a mild case of tetanus because the symptoms of tetanus appeared on
the 22nd day after the hacking incident or more than 14 days after the infliction of the
wound. Therefore, the onset time should have been more than six days. Javier, however,
died on the second day from the onset time. The more credible conclusion is that at the
time Javier's wound was inflicted by the appellant, the severe form of tetanus that killed
him was not yet present. Consequently, Javier's wound could have been infected with
tetanus after the hacking incident. Considering the circumstance surrounding Javier's
death, his wound could have been infected by tetanus 2 or 3 or a few but not 20 to 22
days before he died.[23]

The incubation period for tetanus infection and the length of time between the hacking
incident and the manifestation of severe tetanus infection created doubts in the mind of

Doubts are present. There is a likelihood that the wound was but the remote cause and
its subsequent infection, for failure to take necessary precautions, with tetanus may
have been the proximate cause of Javier's death with which the petitioner had nothing to
do. As we ruled in Manila Electric Co. v. Remoquillo, et al. (99 Phil. 118).
"A prior and remote cause cannot be made the basis of an action if such remote cause
did nothing more than furnish the condition or give rise to the occasion by which the
injury was made possible, if there intervened between such prior or remote cause and
the injury a distinct, successive, unrelated, and efficient cause of the injury, even though
such injury would not have happened but for such condition or occasion. If no danger
existed in the condition except because of the independent cause, such condition was
not the proximate cause. And if an independent negligent act or defective condition sets
into operation the instances, which result in injury because of the prior defective
condition, such subsequent act or condition is the proximate cause." (45 C.J. pp. 931932). (at p. 125)[24]

We face the very same doubts in the instant case that compel us to set aside the
conviction of Villacorta for murder. There had been an interval of 22 days between the
date of the stabbing and the date when Cruz was rushed to San Lazaro Hospital,
exhibiting symptoms of severe tetanus infection. If Cruz acquired severe tetanus
infection from the stabbing, then the symptoms would have appeared a lot sooner than
22 days later. As the Court noted in Urbano, severe tetanus infection has a short
incubation period, less than 14 days; and those that exhibit symptoms with two to three
days from the injury, have one hundred percent (100%) mortality. Ultimately, we can only

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deduce that Cruzs stab wound was merely the remote cause, and its subsequent
infection with tetanus might have been the proximate cause of Cruz's death. The
infection of Cruzs stab wound by tetanus was an efficient intervening cause later or
between the time Cruz was stabbed to the time of his death.
However, Villacorta is not totally without criminal liability. Villacorta is guilty of slight
physical injuries under Article 266(1) of the Revised Penal Code for the stab wound he
inflicted upon Cruz. Although the charge in the instant case is for murder, a finding of
guilt for the lesser offense of slight physical injuries may be made considering that the
latter offense is necessarily included in the former since the essential ingredients of
slight physical injuries constitute and form part of those constituting the offense of
murder.[25]
We cannot hold Villacorta criminally liable for attempted or frustrated murder because
the prosecution was not able to establish Villacortas intent to kill. In fact, the Court of
Appeals expressly observed the lack of evidence to prove such an intent beyond
reasonable doubt, to wit:
Appellant stabbed the victim only once using a sharpened bamboo stick, hitting him on
the left side of the body and then immediately fled. The instrument used is not as lethal
as those made of metallic material. The part of the body hit is not delicate in the sense
that instant death can ensue by reason of a single stab wound. The assault was done
only once. Thus, there is doubt as to whether appellant had an intent to kill the victim,
which should be resolved in favor of the appellant. x x x.[26]

The intent must be proved in a clear and evident manner to exclude every possible
doubt as to the homicidal (or murderous) intent of the aggressor. The onus probandi lies
not on accused-appellant but on the prosecution. The inference that the intent to kill
existed should not be drawn in the absence of circumstances sufficient to prove this fact
beyond reasonable doubt. When such intent is lacking but wounds were inflicted, the
crime is not frustrated murder but physical injuries only.[27]
Evidence on record shows that Cruz was brought to Tondo Medical Center for medical
treatment immediately after the stabbing incident. Right after receiving medical
treatment, Cruz was then released by the Tondo Medical Center as an out-patient.
There was no other evidence to establish that Cruz was incapacitated for labor and/or

required medical attendance for more than nine days. Without such evidence, the
offense is only slight physical injuries.[28]
We still appreciate treachery as an aggravating circumstance, it being sufficiently
alleged in the Information and proved during trial.
The Information specified that accused, armed with a sharpened bamboo stick, with
intent to kill, treachery and evident premeditation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully
and feloniously attack, assault and stab with the said weapon one DANILO SALVADOR
CRUZ x x x.
Treachery exists when an offender commits any of the crimes against persons,
employing means, methods or forms which tend directly or especially to ensure its
execution, without risk to the offender, arising from the defense that the offended party
might make. This definition sets out what must be shown by evidence to conclude that
treachery existed, namely: (1) the employment of such means of execution as would
give the person attacked no opportunity for self-defense or retaliation; and (2) the
deliberate and conscious adoption of the means of execution. To reiterate, the essence
of qualifying circumstance is the suddenness, surprise and the lack of expectation that
the attack will take place, thus, depriving the victim of any real opportunity for selfdefense while ensuring the commission of the crime without risk to the aggressor.[29]
Likewise, even when the victim was forewarned of the danger to his person, treachery
may still be appreciated since what is decisive is that the execution of the attack made it
impossible for the victim to defend himself or to retaliate.[30]
Both the RTC and the Court of Appeals found that treachery was duly proven in this
case, and we sustain such finding. Cruz, the victim, was attacked so suddenly,
unexpectedly, and without provocation. It was two oclock in the morning of January 23,
2002, and Cruz, who was out buying bread at Mendejas store, was unarmed. Cruz had
his guard down and was totally unprepared for an attack on his person. Villacorta
suddenly appeared from nowhere, armed with a sharpened bamboo stick, and without
uttering a word, stabbed Cruz at the left side of his body, then swiftly ran away.
Villacortas treacherous mode of attack left Cruz with no opportunity at all to defend
himself or retaliate.
Article 266(1) of the Revised Penal Code provides:

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ART. 266. Slight physical injuries and maltreatment. The crime of slight physical injuries
shall be punished:
1. By arresto menor when the offender has inflicted physical injuries which shall
incapacitate the offended party from labor from one to nine days, or shall require
medical attendance during the same period.

The penalty of arresto menor spans from one (1) day to thirty (30) days.[31] The
Indeterminate Sentence Law does not apply since said law excludes from its coverage
cases where the penalty imposed does not exceed one (1) year.[32] With the
aggravating circumstance of treachery, we can sentence Villacorta with imprisonment
anywhere within arresto menor in the maximum period, i.e., twenty-one (21) to thirty (30)
days. Consequently, we impose upon Villacorta a straight sentence of thirty (30) days of
arresto menor; but given that Villacorta has been in jail since July 31, 2002 until present
time, already way beyond his imposed sentence, we order his immediate release.
Under paragraph (1), Article 2219 of the Civil Code, moral damages may be recovered
in a criminal offense resulting in physical injuries. Moral damages compensate for the
mental anguish, serious anxiety, and moral shock suffered by the victim and his family
as being a proximate result of the wrongful act. An award requires no proof of pecuniary
loss. Pursuant to previous jurisprudence, an award of Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00)
moral damages is appropriate for less serious, as well as slight physical injuries.[33]
WHEREFORE, the Decision dated July 30, 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
CR.-H.C. No. 02550, affirming the Decision dated September 22, 2006 of the Regional
Trial Court, Branch 170, of Malabon, in Criminal Case No. 27039-MN, is REVERSED
and SET ASIDE. A new judgment is entered finding Villacorta GUILTY beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of slight physical injuries, as defined and punished by
Article 266 of the Revised Penal Code, and sentenced to suffer the penalty of thirty (30)
days arresto menor. Considering that Villacorta has been incarcerated well beyond the
period of the penalty herein imposed, the Director of the Bureau of Prisons is ordered to
cause Villacortas immediate release, unless Villacorta is being lawfully held for another
cause, and to inform this Court, within five (5) days from receipt of this Decision, of the
compliance with such order. Villacorta is ordered to pay the heirs of the late Danilo Cruz
moral damages in the sum of Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00).

SO ORDERED.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee,


vs.
NOEL T. SALES, Appellant.
DECISION
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
A father ought to discipline his children for committing a misdeed. However, he may not
employ sadistic beatings and inflict fatal injuries under the guise of disciplining them.
This appeal seeks the reversal of the December 4, 2006 Decision1 of the Court of
Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 01627 that affirmed the August 3, 2005 Joint
Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 63 of Calabanga, Camarines Sur in
Criminal Case Nos. RTC03-782 and RTC03-789, convicting appellant Noel T. Sales
(appellant) of the crimes of parricide and slight physical injuries, respectively. The
Information3 for parricide contained the following allegations:
That on or about the 20th day of September, 2002, at around or past 8:00 oclock in the
evening at Brgy. San Vicente, Tinambac, Camarines Sur, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused with evident
premeditation and [in] a fit of anger, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously hit [several] times, the different parts of the body of his legitimate eldest son,
Noemar Sales, a 9-year old minor, with a [piece of] wood, measuring more or less one
meter in length and one [and] a half inches in diameter, [thereby] inflicting upon the latter
mortal wounds, which cause[d] the death of the said victim, to the damage and
prejudice of the latters heirs in such amount as may be proven in court.
ACTS CONTRARY TO LAW.4
On the other hand, the Information5 in Criminal Case No. RTC03-789 alleges that
appellant inflicted slight physical injuries in the following manner:

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That on or about the 20th day of September, 2002, at around or past 8:00 oclock in the
evening, at Brgy. San Vicente, Tinambac, Camarines Sur, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named [accused] assault[ed] and hit with
a piece of wood, one Noel Sales, Jr., an 8-year old minor, his second legitimate son,
thereby inflicting upon him physical injuries which have required medical attendance for
a period of five (5) days to the damage and prejudice of the victims heirs in such
amount as may be proven in court.
ACTS CONTRARY TO LAW.6
When arraigned on April 11, 2003 and July 1, 2003, appellant pleaded not guilty for the
charges of parricide7 and slight physical injuries8 respectively. The cases were then
consolidated upon manifestation of the prosecution which was not objected to by the
defense.9 During the pre-trial conference, the parties agreed to stipulate that appellant
is the father of the victims, Noemar Sales (Noemar) and Noel Sales, Jr. (Junior); that at
the time of the incident, appellants family was living in the conjugal home located in
Barangay San Vicente, Tinambac, Camarines Sur; and, that appellant voluntarily
surrendered to the police.10
Thereafter, trial ensued.

noticed a crack in Noemars head and injuries in his legs. She also saw injuries in the
right portion of the head, the left cheek, and legs of Junior. Shortly thereafter, Noemar
collapsed and lost consciousness. Maria tried to revive him and when Noemar remained
motionless despite her efforts, she told appellant that their son was already dead.
However, appellant refused to believe her. Maria then told appellant to call a quack
doctor. He left and returned with one, who told them that they have to bring Noemar to a
hospital. Appellant thus proceeded to take the unconscious Noemar to the junction and
waited for a vehicle to take them to a hospital. As there was no vehicle and because
another quack doctor they met at the junction told them that Noemar is already dead,
appellant brought his son back to their house.
Noemars wake lasted only for a night and he was immediately buried the following day.
His body was never examined by a doctor.
The Version of the Defense
Prior to the incident, Noemar and Junior had already left their residence on three
separate occasions without the permission of their parents. Each time, appellant merely
scolded them and told them not to repeat the misdeed since something untoward might
happen to them. During those times, Noemar and Junior were never physically harmed
by their father.

The Version of the Prosecution


On September 19, 2002, brothers Noemar and Junior, then nine and eight years old,
respectively, left their home to attend the fluvial procession of Our Lady of Peafrancia
without the permission of their parents. They did not return home that night. When their
mother, Maria Litan Sales (Maria), looked for them the next day, she found them in the
nearby Barangay of Magsaysay. Afraid of their fathers rage, Noemar and Junior initially
refused to return home but their mother prevailed upon them. When the two kids
reached home at around 8 oclock in the evening of September 20, 2002, a furious
appellant confronted them. Appellant then whipped them with a stick which was later
broken so that he brought his kids outside their house. With Noemars and Juniors
hands and feet tied to a coconut tree, appellant continued beating them with a thick
piece of wood. During the beating Maria stayed inside the house and did not do anything
as she feared for her life.
When the beating finally stopped, the three walked back to the house with appellant
assisting Noemar as the latter was staggering, while Junior fearfully followed. Maria

However, Noemar and Junior again left their home without their parents permission on
September 16, 2002 and failed to return for several days. Worse, appellant received
information that his sons stole a pedicab. As they are broke, appellant had to borrow
money so that his wife could search for Noemar and Junior. When his sons finally
arrived home at 8 oclock in the evening of September 20, 2002, appellant scolded and
hit them with a piece of wood as thick as his index finger. He hit Noemar and Junior
simultaneously since they were side by side. After whipping his sons in their buttocks
three times, he noticed that Noemar was chilling and frothing. When Noemar lost
consciousness, appellant decided to bring him to a hospital in Naga City by waiting for a
vehicle at the crossroad which was seven kilometers away from their house.
Appellant held Noemar while on their way to the crossroad and observed his difficulty in
breathing. The pupils of Noemars eyes were also moving up and down. Appellant heard
him say that he wanted to sleep and saw him pointing to his chest in pain. However, they
waited in vain since a vehicle never came. It was then that Noemar died. Appellant thus
decided to just bring Noemar back to their house.

78 of 90

Appellant denied that his son died from his beating since no parent could kill his or her
child. He claimed that Noemar died as a result of difficulty in breathing. In fact, he never
complained of the whipping done to him. Besides, appellant recalled that Noemar was
brought to a hospital more than a year before September 2002 and diagnosed with
having a weak heart.

Accused Noel Sales is likewise meted the accessory penalties as provided under the
Revised Penal Code. Considering that herein accused has undergone preventive
imprisonment, he shall be credited in the service of his sentence with the time he has
undergone preventive imprisonment in accordance with and subject to the conditions
provided for in Article 29 of the Revised Penal Code.
SO ORDERED.14

On the other hand, Maria testified that Noemar suffered from epilepsy. Whenever he
suffers from epileptic seizures, Noemar froths and passes out. But he would regain
consciousness after 15 minutes. His seizures normally occur whenever he gets hungry
or when scolded.

Appellant filed a Notice of Appeal15 which was given due course in an Order16 dated
September 21, 2005.
Ruling of the Court of Appeals

The death of Noemar was reported to the police by the barangay captain.11 Thereafter,
appellant surrendered voluntarily.12

However, the appellate court denied the appeal and affirmed the ruling of the trial court.
The dispositive portion of its Decision17 reads as follows:

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court


In a Joint Decision,13 the trial court held that the evidence presented by the prosecution
was sufficient to prove that appellant was guilty of committing the crimes of parricide and
slight physical injuries in the manner described in the Informations. In the crime of
parricide, the trial court did not consider the aggravating circumstance of evident
premeditation against appellant since there is no proof that he planned to kill Noemar.
But the trial court appreciated in his favor the mitigating circumstances of voluntary
surrender and lack of intent to commit so grave a wrong. The dispositive portion of said
Joint Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the prosecution having proven the guilt of Noel
Sales, beyond reasonable doubt, he is found guilty of parricide in Crim. Case No.
RTC03-782 and sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. He is likewise
ordered to pay the heirs of Noemar Sales, the amount of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity;
P50,000.00 as moral damages; P25,000,00 as exemplary damages and to pay the
costs.
Furthermore, accused Noel Sales is also found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
crime of slight physical injuries in Crim. Case No. RTC03-789 and sentenced to suffer
the penalty of twenty (20) days of Arresto Menor in its medium period.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is DENIED. The assailed decision


dated August 3, 2005 in Criminal Case Nos. RTC03-782 and RTC03-789 for Parricide
and Slight Physical Injuries, respectively, is AFFIRMED.
Pursuant to Section 13(c), Rule 124 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure,
appellant may appeal this case to the Supreme Court via a Notice of Appeal filed before
this Court.
SO ORDERED.18
Issues
Hence, appellant is now before this Court with the following two-fold issues:
I
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT
GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE CRIMES CHARGED.
II

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THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT GIVING WEIGHT TO THE


TESTIMONIES OF THE DEFENSE WITNESSES.19

attempt to seek medical attention for Noemar as an act of repentance was nevertheless
too late to save the childs life. It bears stressing that a decent and responsible parent
would never subject a minor child to sadistic punishment in the guise of discipline.

Our Ruling
The appeal is without merit.

Appellant attempts to evade criminal culpability by arguing that he merely intended to


discipline Noemar and not to kill him. However, the relevant portion of Article 4 of the
Revised Penal Code states:

The Charge of Parricide


Art. 4. Criminal liability. Criminal liability shall be incurred:
Appellant admits beating his sons on September 20, 2002 as a disciplinary measure,
but denies battering Noemar to death. He believes that no father could kill his own son.
According to him, Noemar had a weak heart that resulted in attacks consisting of loss of
consciousness and froth in his mouth. He claims that Noemar was conscious as they
traveled to the junction where they would take a vehicle in going to a hospital. However,
Noemar had difficulty in breathing and complained of chest pain. He contends that it
was at this moment that Noemar died, not during his whipping. To substantiate his
claim, appellant presented his wife, Maria, who testified that Noemar indeed suffered
seizures, but this was due to epilepsy.
The contentions of appellant fail to persuade. The imposition of parental discipline on
children of tender years must always be with the view of correcting their erroneous
behavior. A parent or guardian must exercise restraint and caution in administering the
proper punishment. They must not exceed the parameters of their parental duty to
discipline their minor children. It is incumbent upon them to remain rational and refrain
from being motivated by anger in enforcing the intended punishment. A deviation will
undoubtedly result in sadism.
Prior to whipping his sons, appellant was already furious with them because they left the
family dwelling without permission and that was already preceded by three other similar
incidents. This was further aggravated by a report that his sons stole a pedicab thereby
putting him in disgrace. Moreover, they have no money so much so that he still had to
borrow so that his wife could look for the children and bring them home. From these, it is
therefore clear that appellant was motivated not by an honest desire to discipline the
children for their misdeeds but by an evil intent of venting his anger. This can reasonably
be concluded from the injuries of Noemar in his head, face and legs. It was only when
Noemars body slipped from the coconut tree to which he was tied and lost
consciousness that appellant stopped the beating. Had not Noemar lost consciousness,
appellant would most likely not have ceased from his sadistic act. His subsequent

1. By any person committing a felony (delito) although the wrongful act done be different
from that which he intended.
xxxx
In order that a person may be criminally liable for a felony different from that which he
intended to commit, it is indispensible (a) that a felony was committed and (b) that the
wrong done to the aggrieved person be the direct consequence of the crime committed
by the perpetrator.20 Here, there is no doubt appellant in beating his son Noemar and
inflicting upon him physical injuries, committed a felony. As a direct consequence of the
beating suffered by the child, he expired. Appellants criminal liability for the death of his
son, Noemar, is thus clear.
Appellants claim that it was Noemars heart ailment that caused his death deserves no
merit. This declaration is self-serving and uncorroborated since it is not substantiated by
evidence. While Dr. Salvador Betito, a Municipal Health Officer of Tinambac, Camarines
Sur issued a death certificate indicating that Noemar died due to cardio-pulmonary
arrest, the same is not sufficient to prove that his death was due mainly to his poor
health. It is worth emphasizing that Noemars cadaver was never examined. Also, even
if appellant presented his wife, Maria, to lend credence to his contention, the latters
testimony did not help as same was even in conflict with his testimony. Appellant
testified that Noemar suffered from a weak heart which resulted in his death while Maria
declared that Noemar was suffering from epilepsy. Interestingly, Marias testimony was
also unsubstantiated by evidence.
Moreover, as will be discussed below, all the elements of the crime of parricide are
present in this case.

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All the Elements of Parricide are present in the case at bench.


We find no error in the ruling of the trial court, as affirmed by the appellate court, that
appellant committed the crime of parricide.

under oath.24 Maria also testified that Noemar and Junior are her sons with appellant,
her husband. These testimonies are sufficient to establish the relationship between
appellant and Noemar.
Clearly, all the elements of the crime of parricide are obtaining in this case.

Article 246 of the Revised Penal Code defines parricide as follows:


Art. 246. Parricide. Any person who shall kill his father, mother, or child, whether
legitimate or illegitimate, or any of his ascendants, or descendants, or his spouse, shall
be guilty of parricide and shall be punished by the penalty of reclusion perpetua to
death.
"Parricide is committed when: (1) a person is killed; (2) the deceased is killed by the
accused; (3) the deceased is the father, mother, or child, whether legitimate or
illegitimate, or a legitimate other ascendant or other descendant, or the legitimate
spouse of accused."21
In the case at bench, there is overwhelming evidence to prove the first element, that is,
a person was killed. Maria testified that her son Noemar did not regain consciousness
after the severe beating he suffered from the hands of his father. Thereafter, a quack
doctor declared Noemar dead. Afterwards, as testified to by Maria, they held a wake for
Noemar the next day and then buried him the day after. Noemars Death Certificate22
was also presented in evidence.
There is likewise no doubt as to the existence of the second element that the appellant
killed the deceased. Same is sufficiently established by the positive testimonies of Maria
and Junior. Maria testified that on September 20, 2002, Noemar and his younger
brother, Junior, were whipped by appellant, their father, inside their house. The whipping
continued even outside the house but this time, the brothers were tied side by side to a
coconut tree while appellant delivered the lashes indiscriminately. For his part, Junior
testified that Noemar, while tied to a tree, was beaten by their father in the head.
Because the savagery of the attack was too much for Noemars frail body to endure, he
lost consciousness and died from his injuries immediately after the incident.
As to the third element, appellant himself admitted that the deceased is his child. While
Noemars birth certificate was not presented, oral evidence of filial relationship may be
considered.23 As earlier stated, appellant stipulated to the fact that he is the father of
Noemar during the pre-trial conference and likewise made the same declaration while

There is Mitigating Circumstance of Voluntary Surrender but not Lack of Intention to


Commit so Grave a Wrong
The trial court correctly appreciated the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender
in favor of appellant since the evidence shows that he went to the police station a day
after the barangay captain reported the death of Noemar. The presentation by appellant
of himself to the police officer on duty in a spontaneous manner is a manifestation of his
intent "to save the authorities the trouble and expense that may be incurred for his
search and capture"25 which is the essence of voluntary surrender.
However, there was error in appreciating the mitigating circumstance of lack of intention
to commit so grave a wrong. Appellant adopted means to ensure the success of the
savage battering of his sons. He tied their wrists to a coconut tree to prevent their
escape while they were battered with a stick to inflict as much pain as possible. Noemar
suffered injuries in his face, head and legs that immediately caused his death. "The
mitigating circumstance of lack of intent to commit so grave a wrong as that actually
perpetrated cannot be appreciated where the acts employed by the accused were
reasonably sufficient to produce and did actually produce the death of the victim."26
The Award of Damages and Penalty for Parricide
We find proper the trial courts award to the heirs of Noemar of the sums of P50,000.00
as civil indemnity, and P50,000.00 as moral damages. However, the award of exemplary
damages of P25,000.00 should be increased to P30,000.00 in accordance with
prevailing jurisprudence.27 "In addition, and in conformity with current policy, we also
impose on all the monetary awards for damages an interest at the legal rate of 6% from
the date of finality of this Decision until fully paid."28
As regards the penalty, parricide is punishable by reclusion perpetua to death. The trial
court imposed the penalty of reclusion perpetua when it considered the presence of the
mitigating circumstances of voluntary surrender and lack of intent to commit so grave a
wrong. However, even if we earlier ruled that the trial court erred in considering the

81 of 90

mitigating circumstance of lack of intent to commit so grave a wrong, we maintain the


penalty imposed. This is because the exclusion of said mitigating circumstance does not
result to a different penalty since the presence of only one mitigating circumstance,
which is, voluntary surrender, with no aggravating circumstance, is sufficient for the
imposition of reclusion perpetua as the proper prison term. Article 63 of the Revised
Penal Code provides in part as follows:
Art. 63. Rules for the application of indivisible penalties. - x x x
In all cases in which the law prescribes a penalty composed of two indivisible penalties,
the following rules shall be observed in the application thereof:
xxxx
3. When the commission of the act is attended by some mitigating circumstance and
there is no aggravating circumstance, the lesser penalty shall be applied.
xxxx

hands were tied. When asked how long does he think the injuries would heal, Dr.
Primavera answered one to two weeks.32 But if applied with medication, the injuries
would heal in a week.33
We give full faith and credence to the categorical and positive testimony of Junior that he
was beaten by his father and that by reason thereof he sustained injuries. His testimony
deserves credence especially since the same is corroborated by the testimony of his
mother, Maria, and supported by medical examination. We thus find that the RTC
correctly held appellant guilty of the crime of slight physical injuries.1awphil
Penalty for Slight Physical Injuries
We likewise affirm the penalty imposed by the RTC. Dr. Primavera testified that the
injuries sustained by Junior should heal in one week upon medication. Hence, the trial
court correctly meted upon appellant the penalty under paragraph 1, Article 266 of the
Revised Penal Code which provides:
ART. 266. Slight Physical Injuries and maltreatment. The crime of slight physical
injuries shall be punished:

The crime of parricide is punishable by the indivisible penalties of reclusion perpetua to


death. With one mitigating circumstance, which is voluntary surrender, and no
aggravating circumstance, the imposition of the lesser penalty of reclusion perpetua and
not the penalty of death on appellant was thus proper.29

1. By arresto menor when the offender has inflicted physical injuries which shall
incapacitate the offended party for labor from one to nine days or shall require medical
attendance during the same period.

The Charge of Slight Physical Injuries

xxxx

The victim himself, Junior testified that he, together with his brother Noemar, were
beaten by their father, herein appellant, while they were tied to a coconut tree. He
recalled to have been hit on his right eye and right leg and to have been examined by a
physician thereafter.30 Maria corroborated her sons testimony.31

There being no mitigating or aggravating circumstance present in the commission of the


crime, the penalty shall be in its medium period. The RTC was thus correct in imposing
upon appellant the penalty of twenty (20) days of arresto menor in its medium period.

Juniors testimony was likewise supported by Dr. Ursolino Primavera, Jr. (Dr. Primavera)
of Tinambac Community Hospital who examined him for physical injuries. He issued a
Medical Certificate for his findings and testified on the same. His findings were (1)
muscular contusions with hematoma on the right side of Juniors face just below the eye
and on both legs, which could have been caused by hitting said area with a hard object
such as a wooden stick and, (2) abrasions of brownish color circling both wrist with crust
formation which could have been sustained by the patient due to struggling while his

WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
CR-H.C. No. 01627 that affirmed the Joint Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch
63 of Calabanga, Camarines Sur in Criminal Case Nos. RTC03-782 and RTC03-789,
convicting Noel T. Sales of the crimes of parricide and slight physical injuries is
AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS that the award of exemplary damages is increased to
P30,000.00. In addition, an interest of 6% is imposed on all monetary awards from date
of finality of this Decision until fully paid.

82 of 90

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 103119


October 21, 1992
SULPICIO INTOD, petitioner,
vs.
HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
respondents.

Petitioner and his companions were positively identified by witnesses. One witness
testified that before the five men left the premises, they shouted: "We will kill you (the
witness) and especially Bernardina Palangpangan and we will come back if (sic) you
were not injured". 2
After trial, the Regional Trial Court convicted Intod of attempted murder. The court
(RTC), as affirmed by the Court of Appeals, holding that Petitioner was guilty of
attempted murder. Petitioner seeks from this Court a modification of the judgment by
holding him liable only for an impossible crime, citing Article 4(2) of the Revised Penal
Code which provides:
Art. 4(2).
CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY. Criminal Responsibility shall be incurred:

CAMPOS, JR., J.:


Petitioner, Sulpicio Intod, filed this petition for review of the decision of the Court of
Appeals 1 affirming in toto the judgment of the Regional Trial Court, Branch XIV,
Oroquieta City, finding him guilty of the crime of attempted murder.
From the records, we gathered the following facts.

xxx xxx xxx


2.
By any person performing an act which would be an offense against persons or
property, were it not for the inherent impossibility of its accomplishment or on account of
the employment of inadequate or ineffectual means.

In the morning of February 4, 1979, Sulpicio Intod, Jorge Pangasian, Santos Tubio and
Avelino Daligdig went to Salvador Mandaya's house in Katugasan, Lopez Jaena,
Misamis Occidental and asked him to go with them to the house of Bernardina
Palangpangan. Thereafter, Mandaya and Intod, Pangasian, Tubio and Daligdig had a
meeting with Aniceto Dumalagan. He told Mandaya that he wanted Palangpangan to be
killed because of a land dispute between them and that Mandaya should accompany the
four (4) men, otherwise, he would also be killed.

Petitioner contends that, Palangpangan's absence from her room on the night he and
his companions riddled it with bullets made the crime inherently impossible.

At about 10:00 o'clock in the evening of the same day, Petitioner, Mandaya, Pangasian,
Tubio and Daligdig, all armed with firearms, arrived at Palangpangan's house in
Katugasan, Lopez Jaena, Misamis Occidental. At the instance of his companions,
Mandaya pointed the location of Palangpangan's bedroom. Thereafter, Petitioner,
Pangasian, Tubio and Daligdig fired at said room. It turned out, however, that
Palangpangan was in another City and her home was then occupied by her son-in-law
and his family. No one was in the room when the accused fired the shots. No one was
hit by the gun fire.

. . . The crime of murder was not consummated, not because of the inherent
impossibility of its accomplishment (Art. 4(2), Revised Penal Code), but due to a cause
or accident other than petitioner's and his accused's own spontaneous desistance (Art.
3., Ibid.) Palangpangan did not sleep at her house at that time. Had it not been for this
fact, the crime is possible, not impossible. 3

On the other hand, Respondent People of the Philippines argues that the crime was not
impossible. Instead, the facts were sufficient to constitute an attempt and to convict
Intod for attempted murder. Respondent alleged that there was intent. Further, in its
Comment to the Petition, respondent pointed out that:

Article 4, paragraph 2 is an innovation 4 of the Revised Penal Code. This seeks to


remedy the void in the Old Penal Code where:

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. . . it was necessary that the execution of the act has been commenced, that the person
conceiving the idea should have set about doing the deed, employing appropriate
means in order that his intent might become a reality, and finally, that the result or end
contemplated shall have been physically possible. So long as these conditions were not
present, the law and the courts did not hold him criminally liable. 5
This legal doctrine left social interests entirely unprotected. 6 The Revised Penal Code,
inspired by the Positivist School, recognizes in the offender his formidability, 7 and now
penalizes an act which were it not aimed at something quite impossible or carried out
with means which prove inadequate, would constitute a felony against person or against
property. 8 The rationale of Article 4(2) is to punish such criminal tendencies. 9
Under this article, the act performed by the offender cannot produce an offense against
person or property because: (1) the commission of the offense is inherently impossible
of accomplishment: or (2) the means employed is either (a) inadequate or (b)
ineffectual. 10
That the offense cannot be produced because the commission of the offense is
inherently impossible of accomplishment is the focus of this petition. To be impossible
under this clause, the act intended by the offender must be by its nature one impossible
of accomplishment. 11 There must be either impossibility of accomplishing the intended
act 12 in order to qualify the act an impossible crime.
Legal impossibility occurs where the intended acts, even if completed, would not amount
to a crime. 13 Thus:
Legal impossibility would apply to those circumstances where (1) the motive, desire and
expectation is to perform an act in violation of the law; (2) there is intention to perform
the physical act; (3) there is a performance of the intended physical act; and (4) the
consequence resulting from the intended act does not amount to a crime. 14
The impossibility of killing a person already dead 15 falls in this category.
On the other hand, factual impossibility occurs when extraneous circumstances
unknown to the actor or beyond his control prevent the consummation of the intended
crime. 16 One example is the man who puts his hand in the coat pocket of another with
the intention to steal the latter's wallet and finds the pocket empty. 17

The case at bar belongs to this category. Petitioner shoots the place where he thought
his victim would be, although in reality, the victim was not present in said place and thus,
the petitioner failed to accomplish his end.
One American case had facts almost exactly the same as this one. In People vs. Lee
Kong, 18 the accused, with intent to kill, aimed and fired at the spot where he thought
the police officer would be. It turned out, however, that the latter was in a different place.
The accused failed to hit him and to achieve his intent. The Court convicted the accused
of an attempt to kill. It held that:
The fact that the officer was not at the spot where the attacking party imagined where he
was, and where the bullet pierced the roof, renders it no less an attempt to kill. It is well
settled principle of criminal law in this country that where the criminal result of an
attempt is not accomplished simply because of an obstruction in the way of the thing to
be operated upon, and these facts are unknown to the aggressor at the time, the
criminal attempt is committed.
In the case of Strokes vs. State, 19 where the accused failed to accomplish his intent to
kill the victim because the latter did not pass by the place where he was lying-in wait, the
court held him liable for attempted murder. The court explained that:
It was no fault of Strokes that the crime was not committed. . . . It only became
impossible by reason of the extraneous circumstance that Lane did not go that way; and
further, that he was arrested and prevented from committing the murder. This rule of the
law has application only where it is inherently impossible to commit the crime. It has no
application to a case where it becomes impossible for the crime to be committed, either
by outside interference or because of miscalculation as to a supposed opportunity to
commit the crime which fails to materialize; in short it has no application to the case
when the impossibility grows out of extraneous acts not within the control of the party.
In the case of Clark vs. State, 20 the court held defendant liable for attempted robbery
even if there was nothing to rob. In disposing of the case, the court quoted Mr. Justice
Bishop, to wit:
It being an accepted truth that defendant deserves punishment by reason of his criminal
intent, no one can seriously doubt that the protection of the public requires the
punishment to be administered, equally whether in the unseen depths of the pocket,

84 of 90

etc., what was supposed to exist was really present or not. The community suffers from
the mere alarm of crime. Again: Where the thing intended (attempted) as a crime and
what is done is a sort to create alarm, in other words, excite apprehension that the evil;
intention will be carried out, the incipient act which the law of attempt takes cognizance
of is in reason committed.

by the Model Penal Code and the proposed federal legislation, is consistent with the
overwhelming modern view". In disposing of this contention, the Court held that the
federal statutes did not contain such provision, and thus, following the principle of
legality, no person could be criminally liable for an act which was not made criminal by
law. Further, it said:

In State vs. Mitchell, 21 defendant, with intent to kill, fired at the window of victim's room
thinking that the latter was inside. However, at that moment, the victim was in another
part of the house. The court convicted the accused of attempted murder.

Congress has not yet enacted a law that provides that intent plus act plus conduct
constitutes the offense of attempt irrespective of legal impossibility until such time as
such legislative changes in the law take place, this court will not fashion a new nonstatutory law of criminal attempt.

The aforecited cases are the same cases which have been relied upon by Respondent
to make this Court sustain the judgment of attempted murder against Petitioner.
However, we cannot rely upon these decisions to resolve the issue at hand. There is a
difference between the Philippine and the American laws regarding the concept and
appreciation of impossible crimes.
In the Philippines, the Revised Penal Code, in Article 4(2), expressly provided for
impossible crimes and made the punishable. Whereas, in the United States, the Code of
Crimes and Criminal Procedure is silent regarding this matter. What it provided for were
attempts of the crimes enumerated in the said Code. Furthermore, in said jurisdiction,
the impossibility of committing the offense is merely a defense to an attempt charge. In
this regard, commentators and the cases generally divide the impossibility defense into
two categories: legal versus factual impossibility. 22 In U.S. vs. Wilson 23 the Court held
that:
. . . factual impossibility of the commission of the crime is not a defense. If the crime
could have been committed had the circumstances been as the defendant believed
them to be, it is no defense that in reality the crime was impossible of commission.
Legal impossibility, on the other hand, is a defense which can be invoked to avoid
criminal liability for an attempt. In U.S. vs. Berrigan, 24 the accused was indicated for
attempting to smuggle letters into and out of prison. The law governing the matter made
the act criminal if done without knowledge and consent of the warden. In this case, the
offender intended to send a letter without the latter's knowledge and consent and the act
was performed. However, unknown to him, the transmittal was achieved with the
warden's knowledge and consent. The lower court held the accused liable for attempt
but the appellate court reversed. It held unacceptable the contention of the state that
"elimination of impossibility as a defense to a charge of criminal attempt, as suggested

To restate, in the United States, where the offense sought to be committed is factually
impossible or accomplishment, the offender cannot escape criminal liability. He can be
convicted of an attempt to commit the substantive crime where the elements of attempt
are satisfied. It appears, therefore, that the act is penalized, not as an impossible crime,
but as an attempt to commit a crime. On the other hand, where the offense is legally
impossible of accomplishment, the actor cannot be held liable for any crime neither
for an attempt not for an impossible crime. The only reason for this is that in American
law, there is no such thing as an impossible crime. Instead, it only recognizes
impossibility as a defense to a crime charge that is, attempt.
This is not true in the Philippines. In our jurisdiction, impossible crimes are recognized.
The impossibility of accomplishing the criminal intent is not merely a defense, but an act
penalized by itself. Furthermore, the phrase "inherent impossibility" that is found in
Article 4(2) of the Revised Penal Code makes no distinction between factual or physical
impossibility and legal impossibility. Ubi lex non distinguit nec nos distinguere debemos.
The factual situation in the case at bar present a physical impossibility which rendered
the intended crime impossible of accomplishment. And under Article 4, paragraph 2 of
the Revised Penal Code, such is sufficient to make the act an impossible crime.
To uphold the contention of respondent that the offense was Attempted Murder because
the absence of Palangpangan was a supervening cause independent of the actor's will,
will render useless the provision in Article 4, which makes a person criminally liable for
an act "which would be an offense against persons or property, were it not for the
inherent impossibility of its accomplishment . . ." In that case all circumstances which
prevented the consummation of the offense will be treated as an accident independent
of the actor's will which is an element of attempted and frustrated felonies.

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WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED. the petition is hereby GRANTED, the


decision of respondent Court of Appeals holding Petitioner guilty of Attempted Murder is
hereby MODIFIED. We hereby hold Petitioner guilty of an impossible crime as defined
and penalized in Articles 4, paragraph 2, and 59 of the Revised Penal Code,
respectively. Having in mind the social danger and degree of criminality shown by
Petitioner, this Court sentences him to suffer the penalty of six (6) months of arresto
mayor, together with the accessory penalties provided by the law, and to pay the costs.
SO ORDERED.

GEMMA T. JACINTO, Petitioner, - versus - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,


Promulgated:
Respondent.
July 13, 2009
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

PERALTA, J.:
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari filed by petitioner Gemma T. Jacinto
seeking the reversal of the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No.
23761 dated December 16, 2003, affirming petitioner's conviction of the crime of
Qualified Theft, and its Resolution[2] dated March 5, 2004 denying petitioner's motion
for reconsideration.
Petitioner, along with two other women, namely, Anita Busog de Valencia y Rivera and
Jacqueline Capitle, was charged before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Caloocan City,
Branch 131, with the crime of Qualified Theft, allegedly committed as follows:

That on or about and sometime in the month of July 1997, in Kalookan City, Metro
Manila, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused,
conspiring together and mutually helping one another, being then all employees of
MEGA FOAM INTERNATIONAL INC., herein represented by JOSEPH DYHENGCO Y
CO, and as such had free access inside the aforesaid establishment, with grave abuse
of trust and confidence reposed upon them with intent to gain and without the
knowledge and consent of the owner thereof, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously take, steal and deposited in their own account, Banco De Oro Check No.
0132649 dated July 14, 1997 in the sum of P10,000.00, representing payment made by
customer Baby Aquino to the Mega Foam Int'l. Inc. to the damage and prejudice of the
latter in the aforesaid stated amount of P10,000.00.
CONTRARY TO LAW.[3]

The prosecution's evidence, which both the RTC and the CA found to be more credible,
reveals the events that transpired to be as follows.
In the month of June 1997, Isabelita Aquino Milabo, also known as Baby Aquino,
handed petitioner Banco De Oro (BDO) Check Number 0132649 postdated July 14,
1997 in the amount of P10,000.00. The check was payment for Baby Aquino's
purchases from Mega Foam Int'l., Inc., and petitioner was then the collector of Mega
Foam. Somehow, the check was deposited in the Land Bank account of Generoso
Capitle, the husband of Jacqueline Capitle; the latter is the sister of petitioner and the
former pricing, merchandising and inventory clerk of Mega Foam.
Meanwhile, Rowena Ricablanca, another employee of Mega Foam, received a phone
call sometime in the middle of July from one of their customers, Jennifer Sanalila. The
customer wanted to know if she could issue checks payable to the account of Mega
Foam, instead of issuing the checks payable to CASH. Said customer had apparently
been instructed by Jacqueline Capitle to make check payments to Mega Foam payable
to CASH. Around that time, Ricablanca also received a phone call from an employee of
Land Bank, Valenzuela Branch, who was looking for Generoso Capitle. The reason for
the call was to inform Capitle that the subject BDO check deposited in his account had
been dishonored.

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Ricablanca then phoned accused Anita Valencia, a former employee/collector of Mega


Foam, asking the latter to inform Jacqueline Capitle about the phone call from Land
Bank regarding the bounced check. Ricablanca explained that she had to call and relay
the message through Valencia, because the Capitles did not have a phone; but they
could be reached through Valencia, a neighbor and former co-employee of Jacqueline
Capitle at Mega Foam.
Valencia then told Ricablanca that the check came from Baby Aquino, and instructed
Ricablanca to ask Baby Aquino to replace the check with cash. Valencia also told
Ricablanca of a plan to take the cash and divide it equally into four: for herself,
Ricablanca, petitioner Jacinto and Jacqueline Capitle. Ricablanca, upon the advise of
Mega Foam's accountant, reported the matter to the owner of Mega Foam, Joseph
Dyhengco.
Thereafter, Joseph Dyhengco talked to Baby Aquino and was able to confirm that the
latter indeed handed petitioner a BDO check for P10,000.00 sometime in June 1997 as
payment for her purchases from Mega Foam.[4] Baby Aquino further testified that,
sometime in July 1997, petitioner also called her on the phone to tell her that the BDO
check bounced.[5] Verification from company records showed that petitioner never
remitted the subject check to Mega Foam. However, Baby Aquino said that she had
already paid Mega Foam P10,000.00 cash in August 1997 as replacement for the
dishonored check.[6]
Generoso Capitle, presented as a hostile witness, admitted depositing the subject BDO
check in his bank account, but explained that the check came into his possession when
some unknown woman arrived at his house around the first week of July 1997 to have
the check rediscounted. He parted with his cash in exchange for the check without even
bothering to inquire into the identity of the woman or her address. When he was
informed by the bank that the check bounced, he merely disregarded it as he didnt know
where to find the woman who rediscounted the check.
Meanwhile, Dyhengco filed a Complaint with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)
and worked out an entrapment operation with its agents. Ten pieces of P1,000.00 bills
provided by Dyhengco were marked and dusted with fluorescent powder by the NBI.
Thereafter, the bills were given to Ricablanca, who was tasked to pretend that she was
going along with Valencia's plan.
On August 15, 2007, Ricablanca and petitioner met at the latter's house. Petitioner, who
was then holding the bounced BDO check, handed over said check to Ricablanca. They
originally intended to proceed to Baby Aquino's place to have the check replaced with
cash, but the plan did not push through. However, they agreed to meet again on August
21, 2007.

On the agreed date, Ricablanca again went to petitioners house, where she met
petitioner and Jacqueline Capitle. Petitioner, her husband, and Ricablanca went to the
house of Anita Valencia; Jacqueline Capitle decided not to go with the group because
she decided to go shopping. It was only petitioner, her husband, Ricablanca and
Valencia who then boarded petitioner's jeep and went on to Baby Aquino's factory. Only
Ricablanca alighted from the jeep and entered the premises of Baby Aquino, pretending
that she was getting cash from Baby Aquino. However, the cash she actually brought
out from the premises was the P10,000.00 marked money previously given to her by
Dyhengco. Ricablanca divided the money and upon returning to the jeep, gave
P5,000.00 each to Valencia and petitioner. Thereafter, petitioner and Valencia were
arrested by NBI agents, who had been watching the whole time.
Petitioner and Valencia were brought to the NBI office where the Forensic Chemist
found fluorescent powder on the palmar and dorsal aspects of both of their hands. This
showed that petitioner and Valencia handled the marked money. The NBI filed a criminal
case for qualified theft against the two and one Jane Doe who was later identified as
Jacqueline Capitle, the wife of Generoso Capitle.
The defense, on the other hand, denied having taken the subject check and presented
the following scenario.
Petitioner admitted that she was a collector for Mega Foam until she resigned on June
30, 1997, but claimed that she had stopped collecting payments from Baby Aquino for
quite some time before her resignation from the company. She further testified that, on
the day of the arrest, Ricablanca came to her mothers house, where she was staying at
that time, and asked that she accompany her (Ricablanca) to Baby Aquino's house.
Since petitioner was going for a pre-natal check-up at the Chinese General Hospital,
Ricablanca decided to hitch a ride with the former and her husband in their jeep going to
Baby Aquino's place in Caloocan City. She allegedly had no idea why Ricablanca asked
them to wait in their jeep, which they parked outside the house of Baby Aquino, and was
very surprised when Ricablanca placed the money on her lap and the NBI agents
arrested them.
Anita Valencia also admitted that she was the cashier of Mega Foam until she resigned
on June 30, 1997. It was never part of her job to collect payments from customers.
According to her, on the morning of August 21, 1997, Ricablanca called her up on the
phone, asking if she (Valencia) could accompany her (Ricablanca) to the house of Baby
Aquino. Valencia claims that she agreed to do so, despite her admission during crossexamination that she did not know where Baby Aquino resided, as she had never been
to said house. They then met at the house of petitioner's mother, rode the jeep of

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petitioner and her husband, and proceeded to Baby Aquino's place. When they arrived
at said place, Ricablanca alighted, but requested them to wait for her in the jeep. After
ten minutes, Ricablanca came out and, to her surprise, Ricablanca gave her money and
so she even asked, What is this? Then, the NBI agents arrested them.

1.
Whether or not petitioner can be convicted of a crime not charged in the
information;

The trial of the three accused went its usual course and, on October 4, 1999, the RTC
rendered its Decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:

3. Whether or not the prosecution has proved petitioner's guilt beyond


reasonable doubt.[8]
The petition deserves considerable thought.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court finds accused Gemma Tubale De
Jacinto y Latosa, Anita Busog De Valencia y Rivera and Jacqueline Capitle GUILTY
beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of QUALIFIED THEFT and each of them is
hereby sentenced to suffer imprisonment of FIVE (5) YEARS, FIVE (5) MONTHS AND
ELEVEN (11) DAYS, as minimum, to SIX (6) YEARS, EIGHT (8) MONTHS AND
TWENTY (20) DAYS, as maximum.
SO ORDERED.[7]
The three appealed to the CA and, on December 16, 2003, a Decision was
promulgated, the dispositive portion of which reads, thus:
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the decision of the trial court is MODIFIED, in that:
(a) the sentence against accused Gemma Jacinto stands;
(b) the sentence against accused Anita Valencia is reduced to 4 months arresto mayor
medium.
(c) The accused Jacqueline Capitle is acquitted.
SO ORDERED.
A Partial Motion for Reconsideration of the foregoing CA Decision was filed only for
petitioner Gemma Tubale Jacinto, but the same was denied per Resolution dated March
5, 2004.

2.

Whether or not a worthless check can be the object of theft; and

The prosecution tried to establish the following pieces of evidence to constitute the
elements of the crime of qualified theft defined under Article 308, in relation to Article
310, both of the Revised Penal Code: (1) the taking of personal property - as shown by
the fact that petitioner, as collector for Mega Foam, did not remit the customer's check
payment to her employer and, instead, appropriated it for herself; (2) said property
belonged to another the check belonged to Baby Aquino, as it was her payment for
purchases she made; (3) the taking was done with intent to gain this is presumed from
the act of unlawful taking and further shown by the fact that the check was deposited to
the bank account of petitioner's brother-in-law; (4) it was done without the owners
consent petitioner hid the fact that she had received the check payment from her
employer's customer by not remitting the check to the company; (5) it was accomplished
without the use of violence or intimidation against persons, nor of force upon things the
check was voluntarily handed to petitioner by the customer, as she was known to be a
collector for the company; and (6) it was done with grave abuse of confidence petitioner
is admittedly entrusted with the collection of payments from customers.
However, as may be gleaned from the aforementioned Articles of the Revised Penal
Code, the personal property subject of the theft must have some value, as the intention
of the accused is to gain from the thing stolen. This is further bolstered by Article 309,
where the law provides that the penalty to be imposed on the accused is dependent on
the value of the thing stolen.
In this case, petitioner unlawfully took the postdated check belonging to Mega Foam, but
the same was apparently without value, as it was subsequently dishonored. Thus, the
question arises on whether the crime of qualified theft was actually produced.
The Court must resolve the issue in the negative.

Hence, the present Petition for Review on Certiorari filed by petitioner alone, assailing
the Decision and Resolution of the CA. The issues raised in the petition are as follows:

Intod v. Court of Appeals[9] is highly instructive and applicable to the present case. In
Intod, the accused, intending to kill a person, peppered the latters bedroom with bullets,

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but since the intended victim was not home at the time, no harm came to him. The trial
court and the CA held Intod guilty of attempted murder. But upon review by this Court,
he was adjudged guilty only of an impossible crime as defined and penalized in
paragraph 2, Article 4, in relation to Article 59, both of the Revised Penal Code, because
of the factual impossibility of producing the crime. Pertinent portions of said provisions
read as follows:
Article 4(2). Criminal Responsibility. - Criminal responsibility shall be incurred:
xxxx
2.
By any person performing an act which would be an offense against
persons or property, were it not for the inherent impossibility of its accomplishment or on
account of the employment of inadequate to ineffectual means. (emphasis supplied)
Article 59. Penalty to be imposed in case of failure to commit the crime because the
means employed or the aims sought are impossible. - When the person intending to
commit an offense has already performed the acts for the execution of the same but
nevertheless the crime was not produced by reason of the fact that the act intended was
by its nature one of impossible accomplishment or because the means employed by
such person are essentially inadequate to produce the result desired by him, the court,
having in mind the social danger and the degree of criminality shown by the offender,
shall impose upon him the penalty of arresto mayor or a fine ranging from 200 to 500
pesos.
Thus, the requisites of an impossible crime are: (1) that the act performed would be an
offense against persons or property; (2) that the act was done with evil intent; and (3)
that its accomplishment was inherently impossible, or the means employed was either
inadequate or ineffectual. The aspect of the inherent impossibility of accomplishing the
intended crime under Article 4(2) of the Revised Penal Code was further explained by
the Court in Intod[10] in this wise:
Under this article, the act performed by the offender cannot produce an offense against
persons or property because: (1) the commission of the offense is inherently impossible
of accomplishment; or (2) the means employed is either (a) inadequate or (b)
ineffectual.
That the offense cannot be produced because the commission of the offense is
inherently impossible of accomplishment is the focus of this petition. To be impossible
under this clause, the act intended by the offender must be by its nature one impossible
of accomplishment. There must be either (1) legal impossibility, or (2) physical

impossibility of accomplishing the intended act in order to qualify the act as an


impossible crime.
Legal impossibility occurs where the intended acts, even if completed, would not amount
to a crime.
xxxx
The impossibility of killing a person already dead falls in this category.
On the other hand, factual impossibility occurs when extraneous circumstances
unknown to the actor or beyond his control prevent the consummation of the intended
crime. x x x [11]
In Intod, the Court went on to give an example of an offense that involved factual
impossibility, i.e., a man puts his hand in the coat pocket of another with the intention to
steal the latter's wallet, but gets nothing since the pocket is empty.
Herein petitioner's case is closely akin to the above example of factual impossibility
given in Intod. In this case, petitioner performed all the acts to consummate the crime of
qualified theft, which is a crime against property. Petitioner's evil intent cannot be
denied, as the mere act of unlawfully taking the check meant for Mega Foam showed
her intent to gain or be unjustly enriched. Were it not for the fact that the check bounced,
she would have received the face value thereof, which was not rightfully hers. Therefore,
it was only due to the extraneous circumstance of the check being unfunded, a fact
unknown to petitioner at the time, that prevented the crime from being produced. The
thing unlawfully taken by petitioner turned out to be absolutely worthless, because the
check was eventually dishonored, and Mega Foam had received the cash to replace the
value of said dishonored check.
The fact that petitioner was later entrapped receiving the P5,000.00 marked money,
which she thought was the cash replacement for the dishonored check, is of no
moment. The Court held in Valenzuela v. People[12] that under the definition of theft in
Article 308 of the Revised Penal Code, there is only one operative act of execution by
the actor involved in theft the taking of personal property of another. Elucidating
further, the Court held, thus:
x x x Parsing through the statutory definition of theft under Article 308, there is one
apparent answer provided in the language of the law that theft is already produced upon
the tak[ing of] personal property of another without the latters consent.

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xxxx
x x x when is the crime of theft produced? There would be all but certain unanimity in
the position that theft is produced when there is deprivation of personal property due to
its taking by one with intent to gain. Viewed from that perspective, it is immaterial to the
product of the felony that the offender, once having committed all the acts of execution
for theft, is able or unable to freely dispose of the property stolen since the deprivation
from the owner alone has already ensued from such acts of execution. x x x
xxxx
x x x we have, after all, held that unlawful taking, or apoderamiento, is deemed complete
from the moment the offender gains possession of the thing, even if he has no
opportunity to dispose of the same. x x x
x x x Unlawful taking, which is the deprivation of ones personal property, is the element
which produces the felony in its consummated stage. x x x [13]
From the above discussion, there can be no question that as of the time that petitioner
took possession of the check meant for Mega Foam, she had performed all the acts to

consummate the crime of theft, had it not been impossible of accomplishment in this
case. The circumstance of petitioner receiving the P5,000.00 cash as supposed
replacement for the dishonored check was no longer necessary for the consummation
of the crime of qualified theft. Obviously, the plan to convince Baby Aquino to give cash
as replacement for the check was hatched only after the check had been dishonored by
the drawee bank. Since the crime of theft is not a continuing offense, petitioner's act of
receiving the cash replacement should not be considered as a continuation of the theft.
At most, the fact that petitioner was caught receiving the marked money was merely
corroborating evidence to strengthen proof of her intent to gain.
Moreover, the fact that petitioner further planned to have the dishonored check replaced
with cash by its issuer is a different and separate fraudulent scheme. Unfortunately,
since said scheme was not included or covered by the allegations in the Information, the
Court cannot pronounce judgment on the accused; otherwise, it would violate the due
process clause of the Constitution. If at all, that fraudulent scheme could have been
another possible source of criminal liability.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of
Appeals, dated December 16, 2003, and its Resolution dated March 5, 2004, are
MODIFIED. Petitioner Gemma T. Jacinto is found GUILTY of an IMPOSSIBLE CRIME
as defined and penalized in Articles 4, paragraph 2, and 59 of the Revised Penal Code,
respectively. Petitioner is sentenced to suffer the penalty of six (6) months of arrresto
mayor, and to pay the costs.

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