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404 SCRA 170
G.R. No. 145993
June 17, 2003

Based on the accusatory portion of the Information filed against Rufino Mallari, he was accused
of hitting and bumping one Joseph Galang with an Isuzu Canter Elf truck on or about July 7,
1996. The evidence for the prosecution showed that the said incident was preceded by an
altercation between Rufino Mallari and Joseph Galang when the latter admonished the former
not to drive fast while passing by the latters house. To end the situation Joseph, together with
his brothers, who were also present at that time, asked for apology from Rufino. However, the
conflict did not end there because when dusk came and while Joseph was watching basketball
game with his wife, Rufino arrived with some companions and attacked Joseph with bladed
weapons. They chased him and when Joseph was able to run away, Rufino pursued him with
the use of the Isuzu Canter Elf truck. When he caught up with him, he bumped him which
resulted in his instant death. The doctor who conducted the medico-legal inspection of the
cadaver testified that Josephs cause of death was crushing injury on the head secondary to
vehicular accident. The trial court found Rufino liable with murder and sentenced with the
penalty of death after considering the qualifying circumstance of use of motor vehicle in
committing the crime. The case was brought to the Supreme Court pursuant to the requirement
of automatic review of cases penalized with death penalty based on Article 47 of the Revised
Penal Code. Rufino argued that the use of a motor vehicle was only incidental, considering that
he resorted to it only to enable him to go after Joseph after he failed to catch up with the latter.
Issue: Whether the qualifying circumstance of use of motor vehicle was correctly appreciated
by the trial court in imposing the death penalty
The evidence shows that Rufino deliberately used his truck in pursuing Joseph. Upon
catching up with him, Rufino hit him with the truck, as a result of which Joseph died instantly. It
is therefore clear that the truck was the means used by Rufino to perpetrate the killing of

The case of People v. Muoz cited by Rufino finds no application to the present case. In
the said case, the police patrol jeep was merely used by the accused therein in looking for the
victim and in carrying the body of the victim to the place where it was dumped. The accused
therein shot the victim, which caused the latters death. In the present case, the truck itself was
used to kill the victim by running over him.
Under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, a person who kills another by means of a
motor vehicle is guilty of murder. Thus, the use of motor vehicle qualifies the killing to murder.
The penalty for murder is reclusion perpetua to death. Since the penalty is composed of two
indivisible penalties, we shall apply Article 63(3) of the Revised Penal Code, which reads:
3. When the commission of the act is attended by some mitigating circumstances and
there is no aggravating circumstance, the lesser penalty shall be applied.
In the present case, the aggravating circumstances of evident premeditation and
treachery, which were alleged in the information, were not proved. What was proved was the
mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender through the testimonies of Rufino and Myrna,
which were not rebutted by the prosecution.
In view of the absence of an aggravating circumstance and the presence of one mitigating
circumstance, reclusion perpetua, not death, should be the penalty to be imposed on Rufino.