Monday, August 18, 2014

case digests

G.R. No. 16234.  
April 26, 1961



On December 28, 1999 at around 6 pm., in Bauang, La Union, two armed men entered the house of Jessie Barnachea. The 12 year old boy, Jessie was able to hide under a bed. The two armed men then shot Carmelita Barnachea (mother of Jessie), Felix Barnachea (brother of Jessie), Rubenson Abance (cousin of Jessie), and Victorino Lolarga (uncle of Jessie). After being shot, Victorino’s penis was also cut by the malefactors.

Witnesses say that after the commotion inside the house, the two armed men boarded a get away jeep which was earlier guarded by masked lookouts. The neighbors immediately radioed the police and the get away jeep was later apprehended. On board the said jeep were the two armed men (Dominador Cachola and Ernesto Amay) and six other identified men namely: Nestor Marquez, Benjamin Laegen, Rodolfo Sagun, Rodemir Guerzo, Mellke Ignacio, and Nelson Echabaria.

Two hours after the incident, Jessie identified Cachola and Amay as the shooters. He said he recognized them because the two were unmasked when they entered the house. The next day, Jessie again identified Cachola and Amay in a police line-up. And on another day, Jessie again identified Cachola and Amay through photographs.

Eventually, Cachola and Amay were convicted for murder. The other 6 were convicted as accomplices to the crime. The court, in convicting the accused for murder, reasoned that treachery is present and that on the killing of Victorino, ignominy is present because his penis was cut off.

  1. Whether or not ignominy was properly appreciated by the trial court as an aggravating circumstance.

  1. Whether or not the 6 other co-accused are accomplices.

1. No. The fact that Victorino’s penis was cut off does not immediately give rise to the aggravating circumstance of ignominy. In the first placed, it must be so alleged in the Information (this was not so in this case). Secondly, for ignominy to be appreciated, it is required that the offense be committed in a manner that tends to make its effect more humiliating, thus adding to the victim’s moral suffering. Where the victim was already dead when his body or a part thereof was dismembered, ignominy cannot be taken against the accused. Here, Victorino’s penis was cut off after he was already dead.

2. No. The 6 other accused are not proven to be accomplices to the crime. To hold a person liable as an accomplice, two elements must concur:

(1)    community of design, which means that the accomplice knows of, and concurs with, the criminal design of the principal by direct participation; and

(2)     the performance by the accomplice of previous or simultaneous acts that are not indispensable to the commission of the crime.

In the present case, neither element was proven. The mere presence of the six appellants in the company of appellants Cachola and Amay on board a jeep is not evidence of their knowledge of, or assent to, the criminal design to perpetuate the massacre. That they were found to be with appellants Cachola and Amay almost two hours after the commission of the crime does not constitute previous or simultaneous act.

Note that witnesses testified that the men guarding the get away  jeep were masked. There is no solid proof that the 6 other accused found to be with Cachola and Amay were the same masked men at the time of the incident. No one identified them in court hence there is reasonable doubt in their favor.

G.R. No. 134056.  
July 6, 2000

ROBERT FIGUEROA, accused-appellant.

Accused was convicted of violating Sec 14-A of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 972 – Unauthorized manufacture of regulated drugs.  He contends that since his alleged co-conspirator was acquitted due to insufficiency of evidence to prove that she conspired with him, he should likewise be acquitted.
Whether or not the act of one is the act of all still governed despite the failure to prove conspiracy?

Once a conspiracy is established, the act of one is the act of all, and each of the conspirators is liable for the crimes committed by the other conspirators.  It follows then that if the prosecution fails to prove conspiracy, the alleged conspirators should be held individually responsible for their own respective acts.  Accordingly, appellant’s criminal liability in this case must be judged on the basis of his own acts as established by the quantum of proof required in criminal cases.

G.R. No. 119772-73.  
February 7, 1997

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
NIGEL RICHARD GATWARD, accused-appellant.

The trial court handed down its verdict on March 3, 1995 finding both accused guilty as charged, thus:
In Criminal Case No. 94-6268, accused Nigel Ric
hard Gatward is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of transporting, without legal authority therefor, 5,237.70 grams of heroin, a prohibited drug, in violation of Section 4 of Republic Act No. 6425, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659; and there being no aggravating or mitigating circumstance shown to have attended the commission of the crime, he is sentenced to suffer the penalty of imprisonment for thirty-five (35) years of reclusion perpetua and to pay a fine of Five Million Pesos (P5,000,000.00).
In Criminal Case No. 94-6269, accused U Aung Win is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of importing or bringing into the Philippines 5,579.80 grams of heroin, a prohibited drug, without being authorized by law to do so, contrary to Section 3 of Republic Act No. 6425, the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659; and in view of the presence of one (1) mitigating circumstance of voluntary plea of guilty, without any aggravating circumstance to offset it, he is sentenced to suffer the penalty of imprisonment for twenty-five (25) years of reclusion perpetua and to pay a fine of One Million Pesos (P1,000,000.00).
Whether or not the decision and penalty imposed by the trial court violated the accused constitutional or legal right?

Finally, no constitutional or legal right of this accused is violated by the imposition upon him of the corrected duration, inherent in the essence and concept, of the penalty. Otherwise, he would be serving a void sentence with an illegitimate penalty born out of a figurative liaison between judicial legislation and unequal protection of the law. He would thus be the victim of an inadvertence which could result in the nullification, not only of the judgment and the penalty meted therein, but also of the sentence he may actually have served. Far from violating any right of U Aung Win, therefore, the remedial and corrective measures interposed by this opinion protect him against the risk of another trial and review aimed at determining the correct period of imprisonment.
The judgment of the court a quo, specifically with regard to the penalty imposed on accused-appellant Nigel Richard Gatward in Criminal Case No. 94-6268 and that of accused U Aung Win in Criminal Case No. 94-6269, is  MODIFIED in the sense that both accused are sentenced to serve the penalty of reclusion perpetua in its entire duration and full extent

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