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G.R. No/ 116736, July 24, 1997
FACTS: On 15 Oct 1992 at about 5:30 PM, accused-appellant Benjamin Ortega, Jr. and Manuel
Garcia, who were both drunk, joined witness Diosdado Quitlong, the victim Andre Masangkay,
Ariel Ceranto, Romeo Ortega and Roberto San Andes on their drinking spree in a compound near
the house of accused Benjamin, Jr.. The victim went to the back portion of the house to answer
the call of nature who was then followed by the former. Moments later they heard the victim
shouted asking for help. The witness and Ceranto ran towards the back portion of the house and
saw accused Ortega on top of Masangkay, who was lying down, and stabbing the latter with a
long bladed weapon. Ceranto ran and fetched the father of Benjamin, Jr. while the witness went
to Romeo asking him to pacify his brother. In an attempt to conceal the crime, Romeo, Benjamin,
Jr., and Garcia lifted the victim's body and dropped the latter inside a well. Romeo warned the
Quitlong not to tell anybody of the incident. Bothered by his conscience, the witness told the
authorities of the incident. The court convicted Benjamin, Jr. and Garcia of the crime of murder.
ISSUE: WON there is a conspiracy between appellants and WON the crime was homicide
HELD: The Court held that based from the testimonies of the witness, it can't be determined
whether Benjamin, Jr. abused his superior strength against the victim since they were already
grappling when the witness saw them. Thus, the accused is liable for homicide, not murder. As to
the appellant Garcia's involvement, the latter may be deemed as principal to the crime and be
convicted of homicide although he had no original intent to kill pursuant to Art. 4 par. 1 of the
RPC. This was due to his actions to help conceal the crime, not knowing the victim was still alive
when they dropped him inside a well that led to the victim's death due to drowning. The fact that
homicide through drowning and not murder by stabbing was not alleged in the information of the
accusation against Garcia will be a violation of his rights under Sec.14 (2) of the Bill of Rights. He
is also covered by affinity of the accused that entitled him to the exempting provision of Art. 20 of
the RPC. The Court PARTLY GRANTED the appeal, convicting appellant Benjamin, Jr. of
homicide and acquitting appellant Garcia.