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[G.R. Nos. 134566-67.

January 22, 2001]


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiffappellee, vs. GONYETO FRANCISCO y
CAPELLAN, accused-appellant.
DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
For automatic review is the June 1, 1998
Decision[1] of the Regional Trial Court of Cavite
City, Branch 16, imposing the supreme penalty of
death on accused-appellant Gonyeto Francisco y
Capellan, in Criminal Case Nos. 248-96 and 24996, for two counts of rape committed against his
own daughter and stepdaughter, aged thirteen
(13) and sixteen (16) years, respectively.
The informations indicting accused-appellant
state:
In Criminal Case No. 248-96:
That on or about the 23rd day of July, 1996, at
Barangay Wawa III, Municipality of Rosario,
Province of Cavite, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the abovenamed accused, with lewd designs, taking
advantage of superior strength and moral
ascendancy over her person being his own
stepdaughter who is only 17 (sic) years of age,
and by means of force, violence and intimidation,
did then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and
feloniously have sexual intercourse with her
(Wennie C. Merioles) against her will and
consent.
CONTRARY TO LAW.[2]
In Criminal Case No. 249-96:
That on or about the 19th day of July, 1996, at
Barangay Wawa III, Municipality of Rosario,
Province of Cavite, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the abovenamed accused, with lewd designs, taking
advantage of superior strength and moral
ascendancy over her person being his own
daughter who is only 13 years of age, and by
means of force, violence and intimidation, did
then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously
have sexual intercourse with her (Rachelle
Francisco y Calitis) against her will and consent.

On the other hand, accused-appellant and Julius


Roquin, administrative assistant of Cities
Construction, testified for the defense.
The prosecutions version of the facts are
synthesized by the Solicitor General in the
Appellees Brief, thus Facts Common to Criminal Case Nos. 248-96
and 249-96
Private complainants Wennie Merioles (Criminal
Case No. 248-96) and Rachelle Francisco
(Criminal Case No. 249-96) are stepsisters. Their
mother, Nicomedes Francisco, is married to
appellant Gonyeto Francisco (p. 12, tsn,
September 18, 1997) who is the father of
Rachelle. They live in a two-storey house situated
in Wawa II (sic), Little Baguio, Rosario, Cavite.
Appellant was employed as driver with the Cities
Corporation at the Export Processing Zone,
Rosario, Cavite.
Criminal Case No. 248-96
On July 23, 1996, Wennie Merioles did not attend
school because of flood (p. 16, tsn, October 20,
1996). Wennie was then 16 years old and in high
school. Appellant, Wennies stepfather, also
stayed home because he was suffering from
rheumatism (p.18, tsn, ibid.) Nicomedes
Francisco, who alternatively worked as a laundry
woman if not engaged in selling fish, had gone
out of their house by 8:00 A.M. (pp. 13-14, tsn,
ibid)
At around 9:00 A.M., appellant summoned
Wennie to the room downstairs (pp. 17-20, tsn,
ibid.). When she got there, appellant told her that
he wanted to have sex with her (p. 22, tsn, ibid.)
At first, Wennie refused but when appellant
threatened to kill her and warned her, sige, pag
hindi ka pumayag, makakatikim ka sa akin, she
acceded to his request. Appellant then proceeded
to ravish her. (pp. 4-5, 27-28, tsn, ibid.)
What happened on July 23, 1996 was but the last
of the countless sexual molestations endured by
Wennie. The first occurred when she was only 11
years old. (p. 34., tsn, ibid.)

CONTRARY TO LAW.[3]

Criminal Case No. 249-96

Upon arraignment on September 11, 1996, with


the assistance of counsel de officio, accusedappellant pleaded not guilty to both charges.[4]
Thereafter, the cases were consolidated and tried
jointly, with the prosecution presenting Dra. Ida P.
Daniel, Dr. Ronaldo B. Mendez, and private
complainants Winnie C. Merioles and Rachelle C.
Francisco as witnesses.

On July 19, 1996, Rachelle Francisco, thirteen


(13) years old, was instructed by her mother to
stay home to attend to her younger brother and
sister aged 3 1/2 and 5 years old (p.9, tsn,
November 27, 1996). Sometime in the afternoon
(p.11, tsn, ibid), when Rachelles mother was no
longer around, appellant told her younger brother
and sister to get out of the house. Thereafter, he

summoned Rachelle upstairs and ordered her to


undress. When Rachelle refused, he told her,
maghuhubad ka o hindi. Still, Rachelle chose not
to undress. Appellant reacted by saying,
hanggang mamaya tatamaan ka sa akin.
Rachelle succumbed to the intimidation and
acceded by removing her clothes (upper).
Thereafter, appellant started to kiss her and
fondle her breast. Appellant caused her to lie
down. Rachelle removed her skirt and panty.
When she was naked, appellant undressed
himself and inserted his penis into her vagina but
only penetrated her a little as she told him,
nasasaktan ako. Rachelle bore the ordeal for five
(5) minutes. (pp. 39-40, tsn, ibid.)
Just like her stepsister Wennie, Rachelle was
regularly abused sexually by appellant. She could
not remember the first time appellant molested
her. (p.37, tsn, ibid.).[5]
On July 29, 1996, private complainants mustered
enough courage to reveal their traumatic
experience to their mother[6] who lost no time in
accompanying them to the National Bureau of
Investigation for medical examination. The
medico-legal findings of Dr. Rolando B. Mendez
on private complainant Wennie C. Merioles
yielded the following results:
GENITAL EXAMINATION:
Pubic hair, fully grown moderate. Labia majora
and Labia minora, gaping. Fourchette, lax.
Vestibule pinkish, smooth. Hymen original
annular, moderately tall, moderately thick, with
old healed, superficial lacerations at 7 and 8
oclock positions corresponding to the face of a
watch, edges of which are rounded and non
coaptable. Hymenal orifice, admits a tube 2.5 cm
in diameter. Vaginal walls, light, Rugosities (sic),
prominent.

resistance. Vaginal walls, lax. Rugosities,


shallow.
CONCLUSIONS:
1. No evident sign of extragenital physical injuries
noted on the body of the subject at the time of
examination.
2. Hymen, intact, distensible and its orifice wide
(2.5 cms in diameter) to allow complete
penetration by an average sized adult Filipino
male organ in full erection without producing
genital injury.[8]
Accused-appellant on the other hand, testified
that he is married to Nicomedes C. Francisco,
mother of private complainants. Asked if he
contracted any other marriage prior to that with
Nicomedes, he said that he had a first wife by the
name of Pacita, who is now living in the province.
[9]
Insisting on his innocence, accused-appellant
interposed the defense of denial and alibi. He
posited that on July 19 and 23, 1996, when the
rape complained of were allegedly committed, he
was at work. He testified that as a driver of
Construction Cities, he worked continuously from
7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and then from 5:30 p.m.
to 8:00 p.m., while waiting for the evening shift.
[10] To bolster his claim, accused-appellant
presented Julius Roquin, administrative assistant
of Cities Construction who declared that per the
daily time record, accused-appellant worked in
the company from July 12 to July 29, 1996; and
that on July 23, 1996, he reported for work from
7:00 am to 5:00 p.m.[11]
On June 1, 1998, after finding the version of the
prosecution credible, the trial court rendered the
judgment of conviction under review. The
dispositive portion thereof reads:

CONCLUSIONS:
1. No evident sign of extragenital physical injuries
noted on the body of the subject at the time of
examination.
2. Old healed superficial hymenal lacerations,
present.[7]
As to private complainant Rachelle C. Francisco,
the result of the examination by Dra. Ida P. Daniel
indicates that:

WHEREFORE, finding the accused Gonyeto


Francisco y Capellan GUILTY beyond reasonable
doubt as principal, the Court hereby imposes
upon him:
1. For the crime of rape, in Criminal Case No.
248-96, committed by him against his
stepdaughter Wennie Merioles, which
relationship he never disclaimed, the absolute
penalty of DEATH by lethal injection, and to
indemnify her the sums of P50,000.00 and
P20,000.00, as moral and exemplary damages;

GENITAL EXAMINATION:
Pubic hair, fine, short, scanty. Labia majora,
coaptated. Labia minora, gaping. Fourchette, lax.
Vestibular mucosa, pinkish. Hymen, admits a
tube 2.5 cms., in diameter with moderate

2. For the crime of rape, in Criminal Case No.


249-96, committed by him against his daughter,
Rachelle Francisco, the absolute penalty of
DEATH by lethal injection, and to indemnify her

the sums of P50,000.00 and P20,000.00, as


moral and exemplary damages.
Costs against the accused.
SO ORDERED.[12]
In his Brief, accused-appellant, through the
Public Attorneys Office, contends that:

memories of which, provoked by direct and often


provocative questioning, they excised to brevity
in an attempt to obscure it from their young
minds. Their narrations of their respective
harrowing experience were too rich and vivid in
details, that they could not be easily set aside
and branded as mere fabrications.

II

It has not also escaped the Courts attention that


when both complainants were asked to identify
the person of the accused, both boldly confronted
the accused and pointed to him as their defiler. In
the case of Wennie, she looked directly at
accused, pointed to him and resonantly said, siya
ho, as if daring him to deny her claim as he
bowed his head in silence. While Rachelle may
not have been as emphatic, she was equally firm
and forthright in identifying him.

THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN CONVICTING


THE ACCUSED NOTWITHSTANDING THE
FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION TO PROVE
HIS GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.

The manner by which Wennie and Rachelle have


given evidence against the accused has left the
Court with no reason to doubt the truth and
candor of their testimonies.[15]

III

Verily, the trial court is in a better position to


determine if the victim is telling the truth or
merely narrating a concocted tale, and to weigh
conflicting testimonies because the trial court,
heard the witnesses themselves, observed their
deportment and manner of testifying, and had full
access to vital aids: e.g., the furtive glance, the
blush of conscious shame, the hesitation, the
sincere or flippant or sneering tone, the heat, the
calmness, the yawn, the sigh, the candor or lack
of it, the scant or full realization of the solemnity
of the oath, the carriage and mien.[16]

I
THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN
DISREGARDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS
ALIBI NOTWITHSTANDING THE EVIDENCE IN
SUPPORT THEREOF.

THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN METING OUT


THE DEATH PENALTY NOTWITHSTANDING
THE FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION TO
ESTABLISH THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN
THE PRIVATE COMPLAINANT AND THE
ACCUSED.[13]
In an appeal from a judgment of conviction in
rape cases, the issue boils down, almost
invariably, to the credibility of the victim and, just
as often, the Court is constrained to rely on the
observations given by the trial court, with its
vantage, not equally enjoyed by the appellate
court, during the reception of testimony. It has
thus since become doctrinal that the evaluation of
testimonial evidence by the trial court is accorded
great respect precisely for its chance to observe
first hand the demeanor on the stand of the
witness, a matter which is important in
determining whether what has been said should
be taken to be the truth or falsehood[14]
In the case at bar, the trial court gave full faith
and credit to the testimony of private
complainants, thus x x x During their respective testimonies both of
them were terse and direct in the answers, even
on cross-examination and clarificatory
questioning, which would not be the case if their
testimonies were conjured or rehearsed, for then
such would be adorned by flowery details. The
Court takes the conciseness of their answer and
the straightforward manner in which they were
given as mirrors of the gruesome experience they
have suffered in the hands of accused, the

Moreover, a thorough and careful review of the


transcript of stenographic notes discloses that the
testimonies of private complainants could indeed
come only from those who truly suffered the
ordeal. It is simply improbable that private
complainants who are of tender ages, innocent
and guileless, would brazenly impute a crime so
serious as rape to a man, they consider their
father/stepfather, if it were not true.[17] Their
disclosure that they had been raped, coupled
with their voluntary submission to medical
examination, and willingness to undergo public
trial where they could be compelled to give out
the details of the assault against their dignity,
cannot be easily dismissed as mere concoction.
[18]
In a desperate attempt to free himself from
liability, accused-appellant contends that the
accusations hurled against him were all
fabricated by private complainants mother,
Nicomedes C. Francisco. According to him, he
sired a son by another woman and this allegedly
angered Nicomedes, prompting her to retaliate by

instigating the private complainants to file a rape


case against him.[19]
The contentions are without merit. They are
simply too improbable to merit any consideration.
It is hard to believe that Nicomedes would
expose her own daughters to ridicule. Indeed, no
mother would sacrifice her own daughters,
children of tender years, and subject them to the
rigors and humiliation of a public trial for rape, if
she were not motivated by an honest desire to
have her daughters transgressor punished
accordingly.[20]
So also, we find no merit in the claim of accusedappellant that the sexual intercourse between
him and the private complainants, assuming it
indeed took place, was consensual and voluntary
on the part of the latter. The records reveal that
private complainant Wennie C. Merioles refused
to accede to accused-appellants sexual
advances, and it was only when accusedappellant threatened to kill her and warned her,
sige, pag hindi ka pumayag, makakatikim ka sa
akin, that she was finally cowed into submission.
In the same manner, accused-appellant
threatened private complainant Rachelle C.
Francisco that, hanggang mamaya tatamaan ka
sa akin, before she was forced to give in to the
despicable acts of accused-appellant.
Furthermore, and more importantly, actual force
or intimidation need not even be employed for
rape to be committed, as in the present case,
where the over powering influence of accusedappellant who is private complainants father and
stepfather, suffices.[21] Undoubtedly, private
complainants tender age and accused-appellants
custodial control and domination over them
rendered the former so meek and subservient to
the lecherous advances of the latter.

inherently weak and cannot prevail over a


positive identification.[23] It is elementary that for
alibi to prosper, the accused must not only prove
his presence at another place at the time of the
commission of the offense, but he must also
demonstrate that it would be physically
impossible for him to be at the locus criminis at
the time of the commission of the crime.[24]
In the case at bar, pertinent records show that it
was not physically impossible for accusedappellant to be at the scene of the crime, which is
merely an hours walk from his place of work.
Using a tricycle, which is the common mode of
transportation in the locality of Rosario, the three
(3) kilometer distance from the house of accusedappellant and his place of work could be
traversed in less than an hour.
In the same vein, the daily time record of
accused-appellant, indicating that he was at work
on those days that the crime was committed,
cannot exculpate him from liability. These daily
time records were not even certified by accusedappellant as true and correct; neither were they
approved by the time keeper. The testimony of
Julius Roquin, who keeps the daily time record of
the employees in the company where accusedappellant used to work, would likewise be of no
help to him. As admitted by Julius Roquin, he did
not see if accused-appellant actually reported for
work on the dates material to this case.
Clearly, the trial court did not err in disregarding
the defenses put up by accused appellant. Not
only did accused-appellant fail to discharge the
burden of proving the impossibility of his
presence at the scene of the crime at the time of
the commission thereof, he was also positively
identified by the private complainants as the
person who raped them.

Settled is the rule that in a rape committed by a


father/stepfather against his own
daughter/stepdaughter, the formers moral
ascendancy and influence over the latter
substitutes for violence and intimidation. That
ascendancy or influence necessarily flows from
the father/stepfathers parental authority, which
the Constitution and the laws recognize, support
and enhance, as well as from the childrens duty
to obey and observe reverence and respect
towards their parents. Such reverence and
respect are deeply ingrained in the minds of
Filipino children and are recognized by law.
Abuse of both by a father/stepfather can
subjugate his daughter/stepdaughters will,
thereby forcing her to do whatever he wants.[22]

In meting out the supreme penalty of death, the


trial court applied Article 335, of the Revised
Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No.
7659. Pertinent portion thereof states that

Then too, there is no ground to give credence to


the defense of denial and alibi interposed by
accused-appellant. These defenses are

x x x x x x x x x.

xxxxxxxxx
The death penalty shall also be imposed if the
crime of rape is committed with any of the
following attendant circumstances:
1. When the victim is under eighteen (18) years
of age and the offender is a parent, ascendant,
step-parent, guardian, relative by consanguinity
or affinity within the third civil degree, or the
common-law spouse of the parent of the victim;

As consistently held by this Court, the seven


circumstances (including minority and
relationship) added by R.A. 7659 to Article 335 of
the Revised Penal Code, are special qualifying
circumstances, the presence of any of which
takes the case out of the purview of simple rape
and effectively qualifies the crime to one
punishable by death.[25] Corollary thereto, the
Court, in People v. Javier,[26] stressed that in a
criminal prosecution especially of cases involving
the extreme penalty of death, nothing but proof
beyond reasonable doubt of every fact necessary
to constitute the crime with which the accused is
charged must be established by the prosecution
in order for said penalty to be upheld. Therefore,
to warrant the imposition of the supreme penalty
of death in the instant case, the qualifying
circumstances of minority and relationship must
be proved with equal certainty and clearness as
the crime itself.

established beyond any scintilla of doubt. The


testimony of accused-appellant that he is married
to Nicomedes Francisco, mother of Wennie is not
sufficient, considering that accused-appellant
also testified that before Nicomedes, he had a
first wife by the name of Pacita, who now lives in
the province. The doubt could have been easily
resolved by the presentation of a marriage
certificate. However, the prosecution failed to so
present a marriage certificate to prove the fact of
marriage between accused-appellant and
Nicomedes Francisco. Hence, the relationship of
accused-appellant to private complainant Wennie
Merioles as her step-father, which presupposes a
valid marriage[28] between accused-appellant
and private complainants mother, was not proven
beyond reasonable doubt by the prosecution.
Accordingly, the qualifying circumstance of
relationship in Criminal Case No. 248-96 could
likewise not raise the penalty of rape to death.

Applying the foregoing provision and legal


precepts in point, the Court is left with no choice
but to reduce the penalty of accused-appellant to
reclusion perpetua. While it is true that the age of
private complainants were specifically alleged in
the information in Criminal Case Nos. 248-96 and
249-96, no birth certificate was presented by the
prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt
the age of private complainants.

In light of the foregoing, accused-appellant could


only be held liable for simple rape, in both cases,
and sentenced to the penalty of reclusion
perpetua for each count.

Thus, in People v. Bawang,[27] the Court said


x x x However, while the offended party averred
that she was fourteen years old at the time, she
presented no birth certificate to substantiate the
averment. It has been held At all events, it is the burden of the prosecution to
prove with certainty the fact that the victim was
below 18 when the rape was committed in order
to justify the imposition of the death penalty. The
record of the case is bereft of any independent
evidence, such as the victims duly certified
Certificate of Live Birth, accurately showing
private complainants age. The fact that accusedappellant Manuel has not denied the allegation in
the complaint that Maricel was 16 years old when
the crime was committed cannot make up for the
failure of the prosecution to discharge its burden
in this regard. Because of this lapse, as well as
the corresponding failure of the trial court to
make a categorical finding as to the minority of
the victim, we hold that the qualifying
circumstance of minority under Republic Act No.
7659 cannot be appreciated in this case, and
accordingly the death penalty cannot be
imposed.
Finally, the qualifying circumstance of relationship
as to private complainant, Wennie Merioles in
Criminal Case No. 248-96, was similarly not

Pursuant to Article 100[29] of the Revised Penal


Code, and in line with prevailing jurisprudence,
[30] accused-appellant should be held liable to
pay the amount of P50,000.00 as indemnity ex
delicto in addition to the P50,000.00 as moral
damages and P20,000.00 as exemplary
damages awarded by the court a quo.
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Regional Trial
Court of Cavite City, Branch 16, in Criminal Case
Nos. 248-96 and 249-96, finding accusedappellant Gonyeto Francisco y Capellan guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape on
two counts is AFFIRMED, with the
MODIFICATION that accused-appellant is
sentenced to suffer the penalty of RECLUSION
PERPETUA in Criminal Case Nos. 248-96 and
249-96; and to pay private complainants Wennie
C. Merioles and Rachelle C. Francisco the sum
of P50,000.00, or a total of P100,000.00, by way
of civil indemnity; P50,000.00, or a total of
P100,000.00, as moral damages; and
P20,000.00, or a total of P40,000.00, as
exemplary damages. Costs against accusedappellant.
SO ORDERED.

[G.R. No. 126968. April 9, 2003]

Ricardo Balunueco, petitioner, vs. Court of


Appeals and the People of the Philippines,
respondents.
DECISION
BELLOSILLO, J.:
On appeal by certiorari is the Decision[1] of the
Court of Appeals affirming with modifications the
decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig
City, Branch 68, convicting accused RICARDO
BALUNUECO of homicide for the death of
Senando Iguico and frustrated homicide for
injuries inflicted upon his wife Amelia Iguico.
Of the five (5) original accused,[3] only petitioner
Ricardo, accused Reynaldo, Juanito, all
surnamed Balunueco, and Armando Flores were
indicted in two (2) Informations, the first for
homicide[4] and the second for frustrated
homicide.[5] Again, of the four (4) indictees, only
Ricardo and Reynaldo were brought to the
jurisdiction of the court a quo, while Juanito and
Armando have remained at large. Accused
Reynaldo died on 17 November 1986.
Accordingly, as against him, the criminal cases
were dismissed. Thus, only the criminal cases
against petitioner Ricardo Balunueco are subject
of this appeal.
As principal witness for the prosecution, Amelia
Iguico narrated that on 2 May 1982 at around
6:00 oclock in the evening she was coddling her
youngest child in front of her house at Bagong
Tanyag, Taguig, when she saw accused
Reynaldo, his father Juanito and brothers
Ricardo and Ramon, all surnamed Balunueco,
and one Armando Flores chasing her brother-inlaw Servando Iguico. With the five (5) individuals
in hot pursuit, Servando scampered into the
safety of Amelias house.
Meanwhile, according to private complainant
Amelia, her husband Senando, who was then
cooking supper, went out of the house fully
unaware of the commotion going on outside.
Upon seeing Senando, Reynaldo turned his
attention on him and gave chase. Senando
instinctively fled towards the fields but he was
met by Armando who hit him with a stone,
causing Senando to feel dizzy. Reynaldo,
Ricardo, and Armando cornered their quarry near
a canal and ganged up on him. Armando placed
a can on top of Senandos head and Ricardo
repeatedly struck Senando with an ax on the
head, shoulder, and hand. At one point, Ricardo
lost his hold on the ax, but somebody tossed him
a bolo and then he continued hacking the victim
who fell on his knees. To shield him from further
violence, Amelia put her arms around her
husband but it was not enough to detract Ricardo
from his murderous frenzy. Amelia was also hit
on the leg.[6]

Dr. Maximo Reyes, NBI Senior Medico-legal


officer, declared that on 3 May 1982 he
conducted a post mortem examination on the
body of the deceased Senando Iguico and issued
an Autopsy Report, which contained the following
findings:[7] (a) two (2) stab wounds and nine (9)
gaping hack wounds; and, (b) cause of death
was hemorrhage, acute, profuse, secondary to
multiple stab and hack wounds.
In his defense, accused Ricardo narrated a
different version of the incident. He testified that
at that time he was fetching water when he heard
somebody shouting: Saya, saya, tinataga,
referring to his brother Reynaldo. When he
hurried to the place, he saw his brother Ramon
embracing Senando who was continuously
hacking Reynaldo. Thereafter, Senando shoved
Ramon to the ground and as if further enraged by
the intrusion, he turned his bolo on the fallen
Ramon. Ricardo screamed, tama na yan, mga
kapatid ko yan. But the assailant would not be
pacified as he hacked Ramon on the chest. At
this point, Servando,[8] the brother of Senando,
threw an axe at him but Reynaldo picked it up
and smashed Senando with it.
Manuel Flores, another witness for the defense,
gave a substantially similar version of the story.
He testified that on the fateful day of the incident,
while doing some carpentry work in front of his
mothers house, he saw Senando Iguico,[9] a.k.a.
Bulldog, with a bolo on hand trailing brothers
Reynaldo alias Sayas and Ramon while walking
towards Bagong Bantay. Suddenly, Senando
confronted the two (2) brothers and started
hacking Reynaldo, hitting him on the head, arm
and stomach. Seeing that his brother was
absorbing fatal blows, Ramon embraced
Senando but the latter shoved him (Ramon) and
directed his fury at him instead. Ricardo went to
the rescue of his brothers but he too was hacked
by Senando.
The trial court disbelieved the version of accused
Ricardo, thus he was found guilty of homicide in
Crim. Case No. 49576 and frustrated homicide in
Crim. Case No. 49577. It reasoned that the
testimony of Amelia Iguico was clear, positive,
straightforward, truthful and convincing. On the
other hand, according to the trial court, the denial
of Ricardo was self-serving and calculated to
extricate himself from the predicament he was in.
Further, the trial court added that the wounds
allegedly received by Ricardo in the hands of the
victim, Senando Iguico, if at all there were any,
did not prove that Senando was the aggressor for
the wounds were inflicted while Senando was in
the act of defending himself from the aggression
of Ricardo and his co-conspirators.[10]

The Court of Appeals sustained the conviction of


accused Ricardo, giving full faith to the direct and
positive testimony of Amelia Iguico who pointed
to him as the one who initially axed her husband
Senando on the head, shoulder and hand.[11]
While the appellate court upheld the conviction of
Ricardo of homicide for the death of Senando
Iguico, it however ruled that his conviction for the
wounding of Amelia Iguico, although likewise
upheld, should be for attempted homicide only.
On the wounding of Amelia, the appellate court
had this to say - [12]

aggression was actually committed, it is


necessary that an attack or material aggression,
an offensive act positively determining the intent
of the aggressor to cause an injury shall have
been made; a mere threatening or intimidating
attitude is not sufficient to justify the commission
of an act which is punishable per se, and allow a
claim of exemption from liability on the ground
that it was committed in self-defense or defense
of a relative. It has always been so recognized in
the decisions of the courts, in accordance with
the provisions of the Penal Code.[13]

For while intent to kill was proven, Amelias hack


wound in her left leg was not proven to be fatal or
that it could have produced her death had there
been no timely medical attention provided her,
hence, the stage of execution of the felony
committed would only be attempted.

Having admitted the killing of the victim, petitioner


has the burden of proving these elements by
clear and convincing evidence. He must rely on
the strength of his own evidence and not on the
weakness of that of the prosecution, for even if
the prosecution evidence is weak it cannot be
disbelieved if the accused has admitted the
killing.[14]

Petitioner now imputes errors to the Court of


Appeals: (a) in not taking into consideration the
fact that petitioner, if indeed he participated, had
acted in defense of relatives; (b) in giving due
credence to the self-serving and baseless
testimony of Amelia Iguico, the lone and biased
witness for the prosecution; and, (c) in failing to
consider the several serious physical injuries
sustained by petitioner and his brother Reynaldo
Balunueco.
In a reprise of his stance at the trial, petitioner
argues that assuming he participated in the killing
of Senando, he acted in defense of his full-blood
relatives: Reynaldo whom he personally
witnessed being boloed by the deceased in the
arms, head and stomach; and Ramon who also
became a victim of the deceaseds fury after he
was pushed by the deceased and had fallen to
the ground. Under such circumstances, the act of
Senando in hacking him after he tried to rescue
his brothers, gave rise to a reasonable necessity
for him to use a means to prevent or repel the
unlawful aggression. Considering further that
there was lack of sufficient provocation on his
part, his acts were therefore justified under Art.
11, par. (2), of The Revised Penal Code.
In effect, petitioner invokes the justifying
circumstance of defense of relatives under Art.
11, par. (2), of The Revised Penal Code. The
essential elements of this justifying circumstance
are the following: (a) unlawful aggression; (b)
reasonable necessity of the means employed to
prevent or repel it; and, (c) in case the
provocation was given by the person attacked,
the one making the defense had no part therein.
Of the three (3) requisites of defense of relatives,
unlawful aggression is a condition sine qua non,
for without it any defense is not possible or
justified. In order to consider that an unlawful

In the case at bar, petitioner Ricardo utterly failed


to adduce sufficient proof of the existence of a
positively strong act of real aggression on the
part of the deceased Senando. With the
exception of his self-serving allegations, there is
nothing on record that would justify his killing of
Senando.
First, Ricardos theory that when he reached the
crime scene he found Senando repeatedly
hacking his brother Reynaldo who thereafter
retaliated by smashing an axe on the victims
head is implausible in light of the seriousness of
the wounds sustained by the deceased as
compared to the minor injuries inflicted upon
petitioner and his two (2) brothers. The fact that
three (3) of the assailants suffered non-fatal
injuries bolsters the fact that Senando tried vainly
to ward off the assaults of his assailants.
Second, Ricardo failed to present himself to the
authorities. He may have accompanied the
injured Reynaldo to the hospital after the
encounter but still he failed to present himself to
the authorities and report the matter to them. The
natural impulse of any person who has killed
someone in defense of his person or relative is to
bring himself to the authorities and try to dispel
any suspicion of guilt that the authorities might
have against him. This fact assumes a more
special significance considering that his coaccused, Juanito and Armando, have remained
at large.
Third, petitioner had a rather erratic recollection
of people and events. He vividly remembered
how Reynaldo was injured by Senando but
conveniently failed to recall the events leading to
the fatal wounding of the deceased. At another
point, he testified that Reynaldo axed Senando

but later retracted his statement by declaring that


it was in fact Senando who hacked Reynaldo.[15]
We observe that the killing occurred within or
near the premises of the deceased. This proves
per adventure the falsity of petitioners claim that
it was Senando, rather than he and his kin, who
had initiated the unlawful aggression.
On the other hand, private complainant pointed to
petitioner as one of the principal actors in the
slaying of her husband Senando and the court a
quo found her testimony worthy of belief. The
unbending jurisprudence is that findings of trial
courts on the matter of credibility of witnesses are
entitled to the highest degree of respect and will
not be disturbed on appeal.[16] The lower court
also declared, and we agree, that private
complainants relationship with the deceased
does not disqualify her from testifying in the
criminal case involving her relative or
automatically sully her testimony with the stain of
bias.
On the injuries sustained by Amelia, we are of the
opinion that, contrary to the finding of the lower
court as affirmed by the appellate court,
petitioners homicidal intent has not been
indubitably established. As held in People v.
Villanueva,[17] the intent to kill being an essential
element of the offense of frustrated or attempted
homicide, said element must be proved by clear
and convincing evidence, and with the same
degree of certainty as required of the other
elements of the crime. The inference of intent to
kill should not be drawn in the absence of
circumstances sufficient to prove such intent
beyond reasonable doubt.
The facts as borne out by the records do not
warrant a finding that petitioner intended to kill
Amelia. Contrarily, the circumstances of the
instant case indicate the opposite: (a) that while
petitioner was repeatedly assaulting the
deceased, Amelia embraced her husband in an
attempt to avert further infliction of pain upon him;
and, (b) when he hit Amelia once on the left leg, a
wound of slight nature, he did not do anything
more to pursue his homicidal urge[18] but instead
allowed her to scurry away. This set of details
reinforces this Courts belief that petitioner had no
intention of killing Amelia but nonetheless
wounded her either because she unwittingly
exposed herself in the so-called line-of-fire when
she embraced her husband, or that it was
intended more to deter her from further
interfering. Had killing Amelia actually crossed
petitioners mind, he would have opted to hit his
quarry on the vital portions of her body or strike
her several times more to attain his objective. But
these he never did.

Considering that the injuries suffered by Amelia


were not necessarily fatal and required a medical
attendance of four (4) days,[19] we hold that the
offense committed by petitioner is only that of
slight physical injuries. Under Art. 266, par. (1), of
The Revised Penal Code, this is punishable by
arresto menor the duration of which is from one
(1) to thirty (30) days.[20]
WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision of the
Court of Appeals in Crim. Case No. 49576 finding
petitioner Ricardo Balunueco guilty of Homicide
is AFFIRMED, and there being no mitigating nor
aggravating circumstance, petitioner is sentenced
to an indeterminate penalty of six (6) years, two
(2) months and ten (10) days of prision mayor
minimum, as minimum, to fourteen (14) years,
eight (8) months and twenty (20) days of
reclusion temporal medium, as maximum.
Consistent with prevailing jurisprudence, his civil
liability to the heirs of Senando Iguico is fixed at
P50,000.00. The assailed Decision in Crim. Case
No. 49577 for Attempted Homicide, on the other
hand, is MODIFIED. Petitioner Ricardo
Balunueco is found guilty only of Slight Physical
Injuries for the wounding of Amelia Iguico, and is
accordingly sentenced to suffer a straight prison
term of ten (10) days of arresto menor, and to
pay the costs.
SO ORDERED.
[G.R. No. 135981. September 29, 2000]
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs.
MARIVIC GENOSA, appellant.
RESOLUTION
PANGANIBAN, J.:
It is a hornbook rule that an appeal in criminal
cases opens the entire records to review. The
Court may pass upon all relevant issues,
including those factual in nature and those that
may not have been brought before the trial court.
This is true especially in cases involving the
imposition of the death penalty, in which the
accused must be allowed to avail themselves of
all possible avenues for their defense. Even
novel theories such as the "battered woman
syndrome," which is alleged to be equivalent to
self-defense, should be heard, given due
consideration and ruled upon on the merits, not
rejected merely on technical or procedural
grounds. Criminal conviction must rest on proof
of guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
The Case
For resolution by the Court is an Urgent Omnibus
Motion filed by Appellant Marivic Genosa y Isidro
in connection with the automatic review of the
September 25, 1998 "Judgment"[1] of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Ormoc City[2] in

Criminal Case No. 5016-0. The RTC found her


guilty of parricide aggravated by treachery and
sentenced her to death.
In an Information[3] dated November 14, 1996,
Provincial Prosecutor I Rosario D. Beleta
charged appellant-movant with parricide allegedly
committed as follows:
"That on or about the 15th day of November
1995, at Barangay Bilwang, Municipality of
Isabel, Province of Leyte, Philippines and within
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above-named accused, with intent to kill, with
treachery and evident premeditation, did then
and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously
attack, assault, hit and wound one BEN
GENOSA, her legitimate husband, with the use of
a hard deadly weapon, which the accused had
provided herself for the purpose, [causing] the
following wounds, to wit:
'Cadaveric spasm.
'Body on the 2nd stage of decomposition.
'Face, black, blown[ ]up & swollen w/ evident
post- mortem lividity. Eyes protruding from its
sockets and tongue slightly protrudes out of the
mouth.

The Court likewise penalizes the accused to pay


the heirs of the deceased the sum of fifty
thousand pesos (P50,000.00), Philippine
currency as indemnity and another sum of fifty
thousand pesos (P50,000.00), Philippine
currency as moral damages."
The Antecedents
Prior to the filing of her Appeal Brief, appellant
submitted an Urgent Omnibus Motion,[4] to bring
"to the attention of the x x x Court certain facts
and circumstances which, if found valid, could
warrant the setting aside of [her] conviction and
the imposition of the death penalty."
Appellant alleges that the trial court grievously
erred in concluding that she had lied about the
means she employed in killing her husband. On
the contrary, she had consistently claimed that
she had shot her husband. Yet the trial judge
simply ruled that the cause of his death was
"cardiopulmonary arrest secondary to severe
intracranial hemorrhage due to a depressed
fracture of the occipital bone," which resulted
from her admitted act of "smashing" him with a
pipe. Such conclusion was allegedly unsupported
by the evidence on record, which bore no
forensic autopsy report on the body of the victim.

'Blisters at both extrem[i]ties, anterior chest,


posterior chest, trunk w/ shedding of the
epidermis.

Appellant further alleges that despite the


evidence on record of repeated and severe
beatings she had suffered at the hands of her
husband, the trial court failed to appreciate her
self-defense theory. She claims that under the
surrounding circumstances, her act of killing her
husband was equivalent to self-defense.
Furthermore, she argues that if she "did not lie
about how she killed her husband, then she did
not lie about the abuse she suffered at his
hands."

'Abdomen distended w/ gas. Trunk bloated.'

She thus prays for the following reliefs:[5]

which caused his death."

"1. The Honorable Court allow an exhumation of


the body of the victim, Ben M. Genosa, and a reexamination of the cause of death.

'Fracture, open, depressed, circular located at the


occipital bone of the head, resulting [in] laceration
of the brain, spontaneous rupture of the blood
vessels on the posterior surface of the brain,
laceration of the dura and meningeal vessels
producing severe intracranial hemorrhage.

After arraignment and trial, the court a quo


promulgated its Judgment, the dispositive portion
of which reads:
"WHEREFORE, after all the foregoing being duly
considered, the Court finds the accused, Marivic
Genosa y Isidro, GUILTY beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of parricide as provided under
Article 246 of the Revised Penal Code as
restored by Sec. 5, RA No. 7659, and after
finding treachery as a generic aggravating
circumstance and none of mitigating
circumstance, hereby sentences the accused
with the penalty of DEATH.

2. The Honorable Court submit accusedappellant for examination by qualified


psychologists and psychiatrists of the Court to
determine her state of mind at the time of the
killing of her spouse, Ben M. Genosa.
3. Thereafter, the Honorable Court allow the
reports of the psychologists and psychiatrists to
form part of the records of the case for purposes
of the automatic review or, in the alternative, to
allow a partial re-opening of the case before a
lower court in Metro Manila to admit the
testimony of said psychologists and
psychiatrists."

On August 22, 2000, the solicitor general, on


behalf of the State, filed his Comment,[6] which
substantially objected to the Motion on the
ground that appellant had not been "deprived of
her right to due process, substantial or
procedural."
The Issues
In brief, the issues for our resolution are (1)
whether the body of the victim should be
exhumed and reexamined in order to ascertain
the cause of his death, and (2) whether the
appellant should be examined by qualified
psychologists or psychiatrists in order to
determine her state of mind at the time of the
killing.
The Court's Ruling
The Court grants in part the Motion of appellant.
We remand the case to the RTC for the reception
of evidence from qualified psychologists or
psychiatrists whom the parties may present to
establish her state of mind at the time of the
killing.
First Issue: No Need for a Reexamination of
Cause of Death
Accused-appellant seeks the exhumation of the
victim's body to be able to determine his exact
cause of death, assailing the court a quo's
conclusion that he was "smashed or beaten at
the back of his head" rather than shot, as claimed
by appellant.
Considering that the appellant has admitted the
fact of killing her husband and the acts of hitting
his nape with a metal pipe and of shooting him at
the back of his head, the Court believes that
exhumation is unnecessary, if not immaterial, to
determine which of said acts actually caused the
victim's death. There is no need to exhume the
body at this time and conduct an autopsy thereon
for the purpose.
Moreover, the matter of proving the cause of
death should have been made before the trial
court. Time and again, we have said that this
Court is not a trier of facts. Neither will it
authorize the firsthand reception of evidence,
where the opportunity to offer the same was
available to the party during the trial stage.
Consistent with this principle alone, the prayer
sought by appellant for the exhumation of the
victim's body cannot be granted.
Second Issue: The Need to Determine
Appellant's State of Mind at the Time of the Killing

In seeking to be "examined and evaluated by


psychologists and psychiatrists to bring into
evidence the abuse inflicted upon her; [and] to
determine whether such abuse will support the
'battered woman syndrome'," the appellant brings
to the fore a novel defense theory. Through
Counsel Katrina Legarda, she asks the Court to
"re-evaluate the traditional elements" used in
determining self-defense and to consider the
"battered woman syndrome" as a viable plea
within the concept of self-defense.
Allegedly, there are four characteristics of the
syndrome: (1) the woman believes that the
violence was her fault; (2) she has an inability to
place the responsibility for the violence
elsewhere; (3) she fears for her life and/or her
children's lives; and (4) she has an irrational
belief that the abuser is omnipresent and
omniscient.[7] Living in constant danger of harm
or death, she knows that future beatings are
almost certain to occur and will escalate over
time. Her intimate knowledge of the violent nature
of her batterer makes her alert to when a
particular attack is forthcoming, and when it will
seriously threaten her survival. Trapped in a cycle
of violence and constant fear, it is not unlikely
that she would succumb to her helplessness and
fail to perceive possible solutions to the problem
other than to injure or kill her batterer. She is
seized by fear of an existing or impending lethal
aggression and thus would have no opportunity
beforehand to deliberate on her acts and to
choose a less fatal means of eliminating her
sufferings.
Appellant further alleges that the syndrome is
already a recognized form of self-defense in the
United States and in Europe. In the US
particularly, it is classified as a post-traumatic
stress disorder, rather than a form of mental
illness.[8] It has been held admissible in order to
assess a defendant's perception of the danger
posed by the abuser.[9]
In view of the foregoing, Appellant Genosa
pleads that she be allowed to present evidence to
prove that her relationship with her spouse-victim
had afflicted her with the syndrome. Allegedly, an
expert can explain how her experiences as a
battered woman had affected her perception of
danger and her honest belief in its imminence,
and why she had resorted to force against her
batterer.
The records of the case already bear some
evidence on domestic violence between
appellant and her deceased husband. A defense
witness, Dr. Dino Caing, testified that she had
consulted him at least six (6) times due to injuries
related to domestic violence and twenty-three
(23) times for severe hypertension due to

10

emotional stress.[10] Even the victim's brother


and mother attested to the spouses' quarrels
every now and then. The court a quo, however,
simplistically ruled that since violence had not
immediately preceded the killing, self-defense
could not be appreciated.
Indeed, there is legal and jurisprudential lacuna
with respect to the so-called "battered woman
syndrome" as a possible modifying circumstance
that could affect the criminal liability or penalty of
the accused. The discourse of appellant on the
subject in her Omnibus Motion has convinced the
Court that the syndrome deserves serious
consideration, especially in the light of its
possible effect on her very life. It could be that
very thin line between death and life or even
acquittal. The Court cannot, for mere technical or
procedural objections, deny appellant the
opportunity to offer this defense, for any criminal
conviction must be based on proof of guilt
beyond reasonable doubt. Accused persons
facing the possibility of the death penalty must be
given fair opportunities to proffer all defenses
possible that could save them from capital
punishment.
In People v. Parazo,[11] after final conviction of
appellant therein, this Court granted his Urgent
Omnibus Motion and allowed him to undergo
mental, neurologic and otolaryngologic
examination and evaluation to determine whether
he was a deaf-mute. Based on findings that he
really was deaf and mute, yet unaided during the
trial by an expert witness who could
professionally understand and interpret his
actions and mutterings, the Court granted him rearraignment and retrial. It justified its action on
the principle that "only upon proof of guilt beyond
reasonable doubt may [the accused] be
consigned to the lethal injection chamber."
More recently in People v. Estrada,[12] we
likewise nullified the trial proceedings and
remanded the case "to the court a quo for a
conduct of a proper mental examination on
accused-appellant, a determination of his
competency to stand trial, and for further
proceedings." In that case, the defense counsel
had moved to suspend the arraignment of the
accused, who could not properly and intelligently
enter a plea because of his mental defect, and to
confine him instead in a psychiatric ward. But the
trial court denied the Motion, after simply
propounding questions to the accused and
determining for itself that he could understand
and answer them "intelligently." After trial, he was
convicted of murder aggravated by cruelty and
thus sentenced to death.
In nullifying the trial proceedings, this Court
noted:[13]

"The trial court took it solely upon itself to


determine the sanity of accused-appellant. The
trial judge is not a psychiatrist or psychologist or
some other expert equipped with the specialized
knowledge of determining the state of a person's
mental health. To determine the accusedappellant's competency to stand trial, the court, in
the instant case, should have at least ordered the
examination of accused-appellant, especially in
the light of the latter's history of mental illness."
It was held that in denying appellant an
examination by a competent medical expert, the
trial court practically denied him a fair trial prior to
conviction, in violation of his constitutional rights.
Moreover, proof of insanity could have exempted
appellant from criminal liability. If the accused
had not performed the act voluntarily, then he
could not have been criminally liable. The Court,
through Mr. Justice Reynato S. Puno,
emphasized:
"The basic principle in our criminal law is that a
person is criminally liable for a felony committed
by him. Under the classical theory on which our
penal code is mainly based, the basis of criminal
liability is human free will. Man is essentially a
moral creature with an absolutely free will to
choose between good and evil. When he
commits a felonious or criminal act (delito
doloso), the act is presumed to have been done
voluntarily, i.e., with freedom, intelligence and
intent. Man, therefore, should be adjudged or
held accountable for wrongful acts so long as
free will appears unimpaired."[14]
In the instant case, it is equally important to
determine whether Appellant Genosa had acted
freely, intelligently and voluntarily when she killed
her spouse. The Court, however, cannot properly
evaluate her battered-woman-syndrome defense,
absent expert testimony on her mental and
emotional state at the time of the killing and the
possible psychological cause and effect of her
fatal act. Unlike in Parazo, we cannot simply refer
her for proper psychological or psychiatric
examination and thereafter admit the findings and
evaluation as part of the records of the cases for
purposes of automatic review. The prosecution
has likewise the right to a fair trial, which includes
the opportunity to cross-examine the defense
witnesses and to refute the expert opinion given.
Thus, consistent with the principle of due
process, a partial reopening of the case is
apropos, so as to allow the defense the
opportunity to present expert evidence consistent
with our foregoing disquisition, as well as the
prosecution the opportunity to cross examine and
refute the same.

11

WHEREFORE, the Urgent Omnibus Motion of


Appellant Marivic Genosa is PARTLY GRANTED.
The case is hereby REMANDED to the trial court
for the reception of expert psychological and/or
psychiatric opinion on the "battered woman
syndrome" plea, within ninety (90) days from
notice, and, thereafter to forthwith report to this
Court the proceedings taken, together with the
copies of the TSN and relevant documentary
evidence, if any, submitted.
SO ORDERED.
[G.R. No. 135981. January 15, 2004]
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs.
MARIVIC GENOSA, appellant.
DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:
Admitting she killed her husband, appellant
anchors her prayer for acquittal on a novel theory
-- the battered woman syndrome (BWS), which
allegedly constitutes self-defense. Under the
proven facts, however, she is not entitled to
complete exoneration because there was no
unlawful aggression -- no immediate and
unexpected attack on her by her battererhusband at the time she shot him.
Absent unlawful aggression, there can be no selfdefense, complete or incomplete.
But all is not lost. The severe beatings repeatedly
inflicted on appellant constituted a form of
cumulative provocation that broke down her
psychological resistance and self-control. This
psychological paralysis she suffered diminished
her will power, thereby entitling her to the
mitigating factor under paragraphs 9 and 10 of
Article 13 of the Revised Penal Code.
In addition, appellant should also be credited with
the extenuating circumstance of having acted
upon an impulse so powerful as to have naturally
produced passion and obfuscation. The acute
battering she suffered that fatal night in the hands
of her batterer-spouse, in spite of the fact that
she was eight months pregnant with their child,
overwhelmed her and put her in the aforesaid
emotional and mental state, which overcame her
reason and impelled her to vindicate her life and
her unborn childs.
Considering the presence of these two mitigating
circumstances arising from BWS, as well as the
benefits of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, she
may now apply for and be released from custody
on parole, because she has already served the
minimum period of her penalty while under
detention during the pendency of this case.
The Case

For automatic review before this Court is the


September 25, 1998 Decision[1] of the Regional
Trial Court (RTC) of Ormoc City (Branch 35) in
Criminal Case No. 5016-0, finding Marivic
Genosa guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
parricide. The decretal portion of the Decision
reads:
WHEREFORE, after all the foregoing being duly
considered, the Court finds the accused, Marivic
Genosa y Isidro, GUILTY beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of Parricide as provided under
Article 246 of the Revised Penal Code as
restored by Sec. 5, RA No. 7659, and after
finding treachery as a generic aggravating
circumstance and none of mitigating
circumstance, hereby sentences the accused
with the penalty of DEATH.
The Court likewise penalizes the accused to pay
the heirs of the deceased the sum of fifty
thousand pesos (P50,000.00), Philippine
currency as indemnity and another sum of fifty
thousand pesos (P50,000.00), Philippine
currency as moral damages.[2]
The Information[3] charged appellant with
parricide as follows:
That on or about the 15th day of November 1995,
at Barangay Bilwang, Municipality of Isabel,
Province of Leyte, Philippines and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the abovenamed accused, with intent to kill, with treachery
and evident premeditation, did then and there
wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault,
hit and wound one BEN GENOSA, her legitimate
husband, with the use of a hard deadly weapon,
which the accused had provided herself for the
purpose, [causing] the following wounds, to wit:
Cadaveric spasm.
Body on the 2nd stage of decomposition.
Face, black, blownup & swollen w/ evident postmortem lividity. Eyes protruding from its sockets
and tongue slightly protrudes out of the mouth.
Fracture, open, depressed, circular located at the
occipital bone of the head, resulting [in] laceration
of the brain, spontaneous rupture of the blood
vessels on the posterior surface of the brain,
laceration of the dura and meningeal vessels
producing severe intracranial hemorrhage.
Blisters at both extrem[i]ties, anterior chest,
posterior chest, trunk w/ shedding of the
epidermis.
Abdomen distended w/ gas. Trunk bloated.

12

which caused his death.[4]


With the assistance of her counsel,[5] appellant
pleaded not guilty during her arraignment on
March 3, 1997.[6] In due course, she was tried
for and convicted of parricide.
The Facts
Version of the Prosecution
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG)
summarizes the prosecutions version of the facts
in this wise:
Appellant and Ben Genosa were united in
marriage on November 19, 1983 in Ormoc City.
Thereafter, they lived with the parents of Ben in
their house at Isabel, Leyte. For a time, Bens
younger brother, Alex, and his wife lived with
them too. Sometime in 1995, however, appellant
and Ben rented from Steban Matiga a house at
Barangay Bilwang, Isabel, Leyte where they lived
with their two children, namely: John Marben and
Earl Pierre.
On November 15, 1995, Ben and Arturo Basobas
went to a cockfight after receiving their salary.
They each had two (2) bottles of beer before
heading home. Arturo would pass Bens house
before reaching his. When they arrived at the
house of Ben, he found out that appellant had
gone to Isabel, Leyte to look for him. Ben went
inside his house, while Arturo went to a store
across it, waiting until 9:00 in the evening for the
masiao runner to place a bet. Arturo did not see
appellant arrive but on his way home passing the
side of the Genosas rented house, he heard her
say I wont hesitate to kill you to which Ben
replied Why kill me when I am innocent? That
was the last time Arturo saw Ben alive. Arturo
also noticed that since then, the Genosas rented
house appeared uninhabited and was always
closed.
On November 16, 1995, appellant asked Erlinda
Paderog, her close friend and neighbor living
about fifty (50) meters from her house, to look
after her pig because she was going to Cebu for
a pregnancy check-up. Appellant likewise asked
Erlinda to sell her motorcycle to their neighbor
Ronnie Dayandayan who unfortunately had no
money to buy it.
That same day, about 12:15 in the afternoon,
Joseph Valida was waiting for a bus going to
Ormoc when he saw appellant going out of their
house with her two kids in tow, each one carrying
a bag, locking the gate and taking her children to
the waiting area where he was. Joseph lived
about fifty (50) meters behind the Genosas

rented house. Joseph, appellant and her children


rode the same bus to Ormoc. They had no
conversation as Joseph noticed that appellant did
not want to talk to him.
On November 18, 1995, the neighbors of Steban
Matiga told him about the foul odor emanating
from his house being rented by Ben and
appellant. Steban went there to find out the
cause of the stench but the house was locked
from the inside. Since he did not have a duplicate
key with him, Steban destroyed the gate padlock
with a borrowed steel saw. He was able to get
inside through the kitchen door but only after
destroying a window to reach a hook that locked
it. Alone, Steban went inside the unlocked
bedroom where the offensive smell was coming
from. There, he saw the lifeless body of Ben lying
on his side on the bed covered with a blanket. He
was only in his briefs with injuries at the back of
his head. Seeing this, Steban went out of the
house and sent word to the mother of Ben about
his sons misfortune. Later that day, Iluminada
Genosa, the mother of Ben, identified the dead
body as that of [her] son.
Meanwhile, in the morning of the same day,
SPO3 Leo Acodesin, then assigned at the police
station at Isabel, Leyte, received a report
regarding the foul smell at the Genosas rented
house. Together with SPO1 Millares, SPO1
Colon, and Dr. Refelina Cerillo, SPO3 Acodesin
proceeded to the house and went inside the
bedroom where they found the dead body of Ben
lying on his side wrapped with a bedsheet. There
was blood at the nape of Ben who only had his
briefs on. SPO3 Acodesin found in one corner at
the side of an aparador a metal pipe about two
(2) meters from where Ben was, leaning against
a wall. The metal pipe measured three (3) feet
and six (6) inches long with a diameter of one
and half (1 1/2) inches. It had an open end
without a stop valve with a red stain at one end.
The bedroom was not in disarray.
About 10:00 that same morning, the cadaver of
Ben, because of its stench, had to be taken
outside at the back of the house before the
postmortem examination was conducted by Dr.
Cerillo in the presence of the police. A municipal
health officer at Isabel, Leyte responsible for
medico-legal cases, Dr. Cerillo found that Ben
had been dead for two to three days and his body
was already decomposing. The postmortem
examination of Dr. Cerillo yielded the findings
quoted in the Information for parricide later filed
against appellant. She concluded that the cause
of Bens death was cardiopulmonary arrest
secondary to severe intracranial hemorrhage due
to a depressed fracture of the occipital [bone].

13

Appellant admitted killing Ben. She testified that


going home after work on November 15, 1995,
she got worried that her husband who was not
home yet might have gone gambling since it was
a payday. With her cousin Ecel Arao, appellant
went to look for Ben at the marketplace and
taverns at Isabel, Leyte but did not find him there.
They found Ben drunk upon their return at the
Genosas house. Ecel went home despite
appellants request for her to sleep in their house.
Then, Ben purportedly nagged appellant for
following him, even challenging her to a fight.
She allegedly ignored him and instead attended
to their children who were doing their homework.
Apparently disappointed with her reaction, Ben
switched off the light and, with the use of a
chopping knife, cut the television antenna or wire
to keep her from watching television. According
to appellant, Ben was about to attack her so she
ran to the bedroom, but he got hold of her hands
and whirled her around. She fell on the side of
the bed and screamed for help. Ben left. At this
point, appellant packed his clothes because she
wanted him to leave. Seeing his packed clothes
upon his return home, Ben allegedly flew into a
rage, dragged appellant outside of the bedroom
towards a drawer holding her by the neck, and
told her You might as well be killed so nobody
would nag me. Appellant testified that she was
aware that there was a gun inside the drawer but
since Ben did not have the key to it, he got a
three-inch long blade cutter from his wallet. She
however, smashed the arm of Ben with a pipe,
causing him to drop the blade and his wallet.
Appellant then smashed Ben at his nape with the
pipe as he was about to pick up the blade and his
wallet. She thereafter ran inside the bedroom.
Appellant, however, insisted that she ended the
life of her husband by shooting him. She
supposedly distorted the drawer where the gun
was and shot Ben. He did not die on the spot,
though, but in the bedroom.[7] (Citations omitted)
Version of the Defense
Appellant relates her version of the facts in this
manner:
1. Marivic and Ben Genosa were allegedly
married on November 19, 1983. Prior to her
marriage, Marivic had graduated from San
Carlos, Cebu City, obtaining a degree of Bachelor
of Science in Business Administration, and was
working, at the time of her husbands death, as a
Secretary to the Port Managers in Ormoc City.
The couple had three (3) children: John Marben,
Earl Pierre and Marie Bianca.
2. Marivic and Ben had known each other since
elementary school; they were neighbors in

Bilwang; they were classmates; and they were


third degree cousins. Both sets of parents were
against their relationship, but Ben was persistent
and tried to stop other suitors from courting her.
Their closeness developed as he was her
constant partner at fiestas.
3. After their marriage, they lived first in the home
of Bens parents, together with Bens brother, Alex,
in Isabel, Leyte. In the first year of marriage,
Marivic and Ben lived happily. But apparently,
soon thereafter, the couple would quarrel often
and their fights would become violent.
4. Bens brother, Alex, testified for the prosecution
that he could not remember when Ben and
Marivic married. He said that when Ben and
Marivic quarreled, generally when Ben would
come home drunk, Marivic would inflict injuries
on him. He said that in one incident in 1993 he
saw Marivic holding a kitchen knife after Ben had
shouted for help as his left hand was covered
with blood. Marivic left the house but after a
week, she returned apparently having asked for
Bens forgiveness. In another incident in May 22,
1994, early morning, Alex and his father
apparently rushed to Bens aid again and saw
blood from Bens forehead and Marivic holding an
empty bottle. Ben and Marivic reconciled after
Marivic had apparently again asked for Bens
forgiveness.
Mrs. Iluminada Genosa, Marivics mother-in-law,
testified too, saying that Ben and Marivic married
in 1986 or 1985 more or less here in Fatima,
Ormoc City. She said as the marriage went
along, Marivic became already very demanding.
Mrs. Iluminada Genosa said that after the birth of
Marivics two sons, there were three (3)
misunderstandings. The first was when Marivic
stabbed Ben with a table knife through his left
arm; the second incident was on November 15,
1994, when Marivic struck Ben on the forehead
using a sharp instrument until the eye was also
affected. It was wounded and also the ear and
her husband went to Ben to help; and the third
incident was in 1995 when the couple had
already transferred to the house in Bilwang and
she saw that Bens hand was plastered as the
bone cracked.
Both mother and son claimed they brought Ben
to a Pasar clinic for medical intervention.
5. Arturo Basobas, a co-worker of Ben, testified
that on November 15, 1995 After we collected our
salary, we went to the cock-fighting place of
ISCO. They stayed there for three (3) hours, after
which they went to Uniloks and drank beer
allegedly only two (2) bottles each. After drinking
they bought barbeque and went to the Genosa
residence. Marivic was not there. He stayed a

14

while talking with Ben, after which he went across


the road to wait for the runner and the usher of
the masiao game because during that time, the
hearing on masiao numbers was rampant. I was
waiting for the ushers and runners so that I can
place my bet. On his way home at about 9:00 in
the evening, he heard the Genosas arguing.
They were quarreling loudly. Outside their house
was one Fredo who is used by Ben to feed his
fighting cocks. Basobas testimony on the root of
the quarrel, conveniently overheard by him was
Marivic saying I will never hesitate to kill you,
whilst Ben replied Why kill me when I am
innocent. Basobas thought they were joking.
He did not hear them quarreling while he was
across the road from the Genosa residence.
Basobas admitted that he and Ben were always
at the cockpits every Saturday and Sunday. He
claims that he once told Ben before when he was
stricken with a bottle by Marivic Genosa that he
should leave her and that Ben would always take
her back after she would leave him so many
times.
Basobas could not remember when Marivic had
hit Ben, but it was a long time that they had been
quarreling. He said Ben even had a wound on the
right forehead. He had known the couple for only
one (1) year.
6. Marivic testified that after the first year of
marriage, Ben became cruel to her and was a
habitual drinker. She said he provoked her, he
would slap her, sometimes he would pin her
down on the bed, and sometimes beat her.
These incidents happened several times and she
would often run home to her parents, but Ben
would follow her and seek her out, promising to
change and would ask for her forgiveness. She
said after she would be beaten, she would seek
medical help from Dr. Dino Caing, Dr. Lucero and
Dra. Cerillo. These doctors would enter the
injuries inflicted upon her by Ben into their
reports. Marivic said Ben would beat her or
quarrel with her every time he was drunk, at least
three times a week.
7. In her defense, witnesses who were not so
closely related to Marivic, testified as to the
abuse and violence she received at the hands of
Ben.
7.1. Mr. Joe Barrientos, a fisherman, who was a
[neighbor] of the Genosas, testified that on
November 15, 1995, he overheard a quarrel
between Ben and Marivic. Marivic was shouting
for help and through the open jalousies, he saw
the spouses grappling with each other. Ben had
Marivic in a choke hold. He did not do anything,
but had come voluntarily to testify. (Please note

this was the same night as that testified to by


Arturo Busabos.[8])
7.2. Mr. Junnie Barrientos, also a fisherman, and
the brother of Mr. Joe Barrientos, testified that he
heard his neighbor Marivic shouting on the night
of November 15, 1995. He peeped through the
window of his hut which is located beside the
Genosa house and saw the spouses grappling
with each other then Ben Genosa was holding
with his both hands the neck of the accused,
Marivic Genosa. He said after a while, Marivic
was able to extricate he[r]self and enter the room
of the children. After that, he went back to work
as he was to go fishing that evening. He returned
at 8:00 the next morning. (Again, please note that
this was the same night as that testified to by
Arturo Basobas).
7.3. Mr. Teodoro Sarabia was a former neighbor
of the Genosas while they were living in Isabel,
Leyte. His house was located about fifty (50)
meters from theirs. Marivic is his niece and he
knew them to be living together for 13 or 14
years. He said the couple was always quarreling.
Marivic confided in him that Ben would pawn
items and then would use the money to gamble.
One time, he went to their house and they were
quarreling. Ben was so angry, but would be
pacified if somebody would come. He testified
that while Ben was alive he used to gamble and
when he became drunk, he would go to our
house and he will say, Teody because that was
what he used to call me, mokimas ta, which
means lets go and look for a whore. Mr. Sarabia
further testified that Ben would box his wife and I
would see bruises and one time she ran to me, I
noticed a wound (the witness pointed to his right
breast) as according to her a knife was stricken
to her. Mr. Sarabia also said that once he saw
Ben had been injured too. He said he voluntarily
testified only that morning.
7.4. Miss Ecel Arano, an 18-year old student,
who is a cousin of Marivic, testified that in the
afternoon of November 15, 1995, Marivic went to
her house and asked her help to look for Ben.
They searched in the market place, several
taverns and some other places, but could not find
him. She accompanied Marivic home. Marivic
wanted her to sleep with her in the Genosa
house because she might be battered by her
husband. When they got to the Genosa house at
about 7:00 in the evening, Miss Arano said that
her husband was already there and was drunk.
Miss Arano knew he was drunk because of his
staggering walking and I can also detect his face.
Marivic entered the house and she heard them
quarrel noisily. (Again, please note that this is the
same night as that testified to by Arturo Basobas)
Miss Arano testified that this was not the first time
Marivic had asked her to sleep in the house as

15

Marivic would be afraid every time her husband


would come home drunk. At one time when she
did sleep over, she was awakened at 10:00 in the
evening when Ben arrived because the couple
were very noisy in the sala and I had heard
something was broken like a vase. She said
Marivic ran into her room and they locked the
door. When Ben couldnt get in he got a chair and
a knife and showed us the knife through the
window grill and he scared us. She said that
Marivic shouted for help, but no one came. On
cross-examination, she said that when she left
Marivics house on November 15, 1995, the
couple were still quarreling.
7.5. Dr. Dino Caing, a physician testified that he
and Marivic were co-employees at PHILPHOS,
Isabel, Leyte. Marivic was his patient many times
and had also received treatment from other
doctors. Dr. Caing testified that from July 6, 1989
until November 9, 1995, there were six (6)
episodes of physical injuries inflicted upon
Marivic. These injuries were reported in his OutPatient Chart at the PHILPHOS Hospital. The
prosecution admitted the qualifications of Dr.
Caing and considered him an expert witness.

frightened that her husband would hurt her and


she wanted to make sure she would deliver her
baby safely. In fact, Marivic had to be admitted
later at the Rizal Medical Centre as she was
suffering from eclampsia and hypertension, and
the baby was born prematurely on December 1,
1995.
Marivic testified that during her marriage she had
tried to leave her husband at least five (5) times,
but that Ben would always follow her and they
would reconcile. Marivic said that the reason why
Ben was violent and abusive towards her that
night was because he was crazy about his recent
girlfriend, Lulu x x x Rubillos.

xxxxxxxxx

On cross-examination, Marivic insisted she shot


Ben with a gun; she said that he died in the
bedroom; that their quarrels could be heard by
anyone passing their house; that Basobas lied in
his testimony; that she left for Manila the next
day, November 16, 1995; that she did not bother
anyone in Manila, rented herself a room, and got
herself a job as a field researcher under the alias
Marvelous Isidro; she did not tell anyone that she
was leaving Leyte, she just wanted to have a
safe delivery of her baby; and that she was
arrested in San Pablo, Laguna.

Dr. Caings clinical history of the tension


headache and hypertention of Marivic on twentythree (23) separate occasions was marked at
Exhibits 2 and 2-B. The OPD Chart of Marivic at
the Philphos Clinic which reflected all the
consultations made by Marivic and the six (6)
incidents of physical injuries reported was
marked as Exhibit 3.

Answering questions from the Court, Marivic said


that she threw the gun away; that she did not
know what happened to the pipe she used to
smash him once; that she was wounded by Ben
on her wrist with the bolo; and that two (2) hours
after she was whirled by Ben, he kicked her ass
and dragged her towards the drawer when he
saw that she had packed his things.

On cross-examination, Dr. Caing said that he is


not a psychiatrist, he could not say whether the
injuries were directly related to the crime
committed. He said it is only a psychiatrist who is
qualified to examine the psychological make-up
of the patient, whether she is capable of
committing a crime or not.

9. The body of Ben Genosa was found on


November 18, 1995 after an investigation was
made of the foul odor emitting from the Genosa
residence. This fact was testified to by all the
prosecution witnesses and some defense
witnesses during the trial.

7.6 Mr. Panfilo Tero, the barangay captain in the


place where the Genosas resided, testified that
about two (2) months before Ben died, Marivic
went to his office past 8:00 in the evening. She
sought his help to settle or confront the Genosa
couple who were experiencing family troubles.
He told Marivic to return in the morning, but he
did not hear from her again and assumed that
they might have settled with each other or they
might have forgiven with each other.
xxxxxxxxx
Marivic said she did not provoke her husband
when she got home that night it was her husband
who began the provocation. Marivic said she was

10. Dra. Refelina Y. Cerillo, a physician, was the


Municipal Health Officer of Isabel, Leyte at the
time of the incident, and among her
responsibilities as such was to take charge of all
medico-legal cases, such as the examination of
cadavers and the autopsy of cadavers. Dra.
Cerillo is not a forensic pathologist. She merely
took the medical board exams and passed in
1986. She was called by the police to go to the
Genosa residence and when she got there, she
saw some police officer and neighbor around.
She saw Ben Genosa, covered by a blanket,
lying in a semi-prone position with his back to the
door. He was wearing only a brief.
xxxxxxxxx

16

Dra. Cerillo said that there is only one injury and


that is the injury involving the skeletal area of the
head which she described as a fracture. And that
based on her examination, Ben had been dead 2
or 3 days. Dra. Cerillo did not testify as to what
caused his death.
Dra. Cerillo was not cross-examined by defense
counsel.
11. The Information, dated November 14, 1996,
filed against Marivic Genosa charged her with the
crime of PARRICIDE committed with intent to kill,
with treachery and evidence premeditation, x x x
wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault,
hit and wound x x x her legitimate husband, with
the use of a hard deadly weapon x x x which
caused his death.
12. Trial took place on 7 and 14 April 1997, 14
May 1997, 21 July 1997, 17, 22 and 23
September 1997, 12 November 1997, 15 and 16
December 1997, 22 May 1998, and 5 and 6
August 1998.
13. On 23 September 1998, or only fifty (50) days
from the day of the last trial date, the Hon.
Fortunito L. Madrona, Presiding Judge, RTCBranch 35, Ormoc City, rendered a JUDGMENT
finding Marivic guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
the crime of parricide, and further found treachery
as an aggravating circumstance, thus sentencing
her to the ultimate penalty of DEATH.
14. The case was elevated to this Honorable
Court upon automatic review and, under date of
24 January 2000, Marivics trial lawyer, Atty. Gil
Marvel P. Tabucanon, filed a Motion to Withdraw
as counsel, attaching thereto, as a precautionary
measure, two (2) drafts of Appellants Briefs he
had prepared for Marivic which, for reasons of
her own, were not conformed to by her.
The Honorable Court allowed the withdrawal of
Atty. Tabucanon and permitted the entry of
appearance of undersigned counsel.
15. Without the knowledge of counsel, Marivic
Genosa wrote a letter dated 20 January 2000, to
the Chief Justice, coursing the same through Atty.
Teresita G. Dimaisip, Deputy Clerk of Court of
Chief Judicial Records Office, wherein she
submitted her Brief without counsels to the Court.
This letter was stamp-received by the Honorable
Court on 4 February 2000.
16. In the meantime, under date of 17 February
2000, and stamp-received by the Honorable
Court on 19 February 2000, undersigned counsel
filed an URGENT OMNIBUS MOTION praying
that the Honorable Court allow the exhumation of

Ben Genosa and the re-examination of the cause


of his death; allow the examination of Marivic
Genosa by qualified psychologists and
psychiatrists to determine her state of mind at the
time she killed her husband; and finally, to allow a
partial re-opening of the case a quo to take the
testimony of said psychologists and psychiatrists.
Attached to the URGENT OMNIBUS MOTION
was a letter of Dr. Raquel Fortun, then the only
qualified forensic pathologist in the country, who
opined that the description of the death wound
(as culled from the post-mortem findings, Exhibit
A) is more akin to a gunshot wound than a
beating with a lead pipe.
17. In a RESOLUTION dated 29 September
2000, the Honorable Court partly granted
Marivics URGENT OMNIBUS MOTION and
remanded the case to the trial court for the
reception of expert psychological and/or
psychiatric opinion on the battered woman
syndrome plea, within ninety (90) days from
notice, and, thereafter to forthwith report to this
Court the proceedings taken, together with the
copies of the TSN and relevant documentary
evidence, if any, submitted.
18. On 15 January 2001, Dra. Natividad A. Dayan
appeared and testified before the Hon. Fortunito
L. Madrona, RTC-Branch 35, Ormoc City.
Immediately before Dra. Dayan was sworn, the
Court a quo asked if she had interviewed Marivic
Genosa. Dra. Dayan informed the Court that
interviews were done at the Penal Institution in
1999, but that the clinical interviews and
psychological assessment were done at her
clinic.
Dra. Dayan testified that she has been a clinical
psychologist for twenty (20) years with her own
private clinic and connected presently to the De
La Salle University as a professor. Before this,
she was the Head of the Psychology Department
of the Assumption College; a member of the
faculty of Psychology at the Ateneo de Manila
University and St. Josephs College; and was the
counseling psychologist of the National Defense
College. She has an AB in Psychology from the
University of the Philippines, a Master of Arts in
Clinical [Counseling], Psychology from the
Ateneo, and a PhD from the U.P. She was the
past president of the Psychological Association of
the Philippines and is a member of the American
Psychological Association. She is the secretary of
the International Council of Psychologists from
about 68 countries; a member of the Forensic
Psychology Association; and a member of the
ASEAN [Counseling] Association. She is actively
involved with the Philippine Judicial Academy,
recently lecturing on the socio-demographic and

17

psychological profile of families involved in


domestic violence and nullity cases. She was
with the Davide Commission doing research
about Military Psychology. She has written a book
entitled Energy Global Psychology (together with
Drs. Allan Tan and Allan Bernardo). The Genosa
case is the first time she has testified as an
expert on battered women as this is the first case
of that nature.
Dra. Dayan testified that for the research she
conducted, on the socio-demographic and
psychological profile of families involved in
domestic violence, and nullity cases, she looked
at about 500 cases over a period of ten (10)
years and discovered that there are lots of
variables that cause all of this marital conflicts,
from domestic violence to infidelity, to psychiatric
disorder.
Dra. Dayan described domestic violence to
comprise of a lot of incidents of psychological
abuse, verbal abuse, and emotional abuse to
physical abuse and also sexual abuse.
xxxxxxxxx
Dra. Dayan testified that in her studies, the
battered woman usually has a very low opinion of
herself. She has a self-defeating and selfsacrificing characteristics. x x x they usually think
very lowly of themselves and so when the
violence would happen, they usually think that
they provoke it, that they were the one who
precipitated the violence, they provoke their
spouse to be physically, verbally and even
sexually abusive to them. Dra. Dayan said that
usually a battered x x x comes from a
dysfunctional family or from broken homes.
Dra. Dayan said that the batterer, just like the
battered woman, also has a very low opinion of
himself. But then emerges to have superiority
complex and it comes out as being very arrogant,
very hostile, very aggressive and very angry.
They also had (sic) a very low tolerance for
frustrations. A lot of times they are involved in
vices like gambling, drinking and drugs. And they
become violent. The batterer also usually comes
from a dysfunctional family which over-pampers
them and makes them feel entitled to do
anything. Also, they see often how their parents
abused each other so there is a lot of modeling of
aggression in the family.
Dra. Dayan testified that there are a lot of
reasons why a battered woman does not leave
her husband: poverty, self-blame and guilt that
she provoked the violence, the cycle itself which
makes her hope her husband will change, the
belief in her obligations to keep the family intact
at all costs for the sake of the children.

xxxxxxxxx
Dra. Dayan said that abused wives react
differently to the violence: some leave the house,
or lock themselves in another room, or
sometimes try to fight back triggering physical
violence on both of them. She said that in a
normal marital relationship, abuses also happen,
but these are not consistent, not chronic, are not
happening day in [and] day out. In an abnormal
marital relationship, the abuse occurs day in and
day out, is long lasting and even would cause
hospitalization on the victim and even death on
the victim.
xxxxxxxxx
Dra. Dayan said that as a result of the battery of
psychological tests she administered, it was her
opinion that Marivic fits the profile of a battered
woman because inspite of her feeling of selfconfidence which we can see at times there are
really feeling (sic) of loss, such feelings of
humiliation which she sees herself as damaged
and as a broken person. And at the same time
she still has the imprint of all the abuses that she
had experienced in the past.
xxxxxxxxx
Dra. Dayan said Marivic thought of herself as a
loving wife and did not even consider filing for
nullity or legal separation inspite of the abuses. It
was at the time of the tragedy that Marivic then
thought of herself as a victim.
xxxxxxxxx
19. On 9 February 2001, Dr. Alfredo Pajarillo, a
physician, who has since passed away, appeared
and testified before RTC-Branch 35, Ormoc City.
Dr. Pajarillo was a Diplomate of the Philippine
Board of Psychiatry; a Fellow of the Philippine
Board of Psychiatry and a Fellow of the
Philippine Psychiatry Association. He was in the
practice of psychiatry for thirty-eight (38) years.
Prior to being in private practice, he was
connected with the Veterans Memorial Medical
Centre where he gained his training on psychiatry
and neurology. After that, he was called to active
duty in the Armed Forces of the Philippines,
assigned to the V. Luna Medical Center for
twenty six (26) years. Prior to his retirement from
government service, he obtained the rank of
Brigadier General. He obtained his medical
degree from the University of Santo Tomas. He
was also a member of the World Association of
Military Surgeons; the Quezon City Medical
Society; the Cagayan Medical Society; and the
Philippine Association of Military Surgeons.

18

He authored The Comparative Analysis of


Nervous Breakdown in the Philippine Military
Academy from the Period 1954 1978 which was
presented twice in international congresses. He
also authored The Mental Health of the Armed
Forces of the Philippines 2000, which was
likewise published internationally and locally. He
had a medical textbook published on the use of
Prasepam on a Parke-Davis grant; was the first
to use Enanthate (siquiline), on an E.R. Squibb
grant; and he published the use of the drug
Zopiclom in 1985-86.
Dr. Pajarillo explained that psychiatry deals with
the functional disorder of the mind and neurology
deals with the ailment of the brain and spinal cord
enlarged. Psychology, on the other hand, is a
bachelor degree and a doctorate degree; while
one has to finish medicine to become a specialist
in psychiatry.
Even only in his 7th year as a resident in V. Luna
Medical Centre, Dr. Pajarillo had already
encountered a suit involving violent family
relations, and testified in a case in 1964. In the
Armed Forces of the Philippines, violent family
disputes abound, and he has seen probably ten
to twenty thousand cases. In those days, the
primordial intention of therapy was reconciliation.
As a result of his experience with domestic
violence cases, he became a consultant of the
Battered Woman Office in Quezon City under
Atty. Nenita Deproza.
As such consultant, he had seen around forty
(40) cases of severe domestic violence, where
there is physical abuse: such as slapping,
pushing, verbal abuse, battering and boxing a
woman even to an unconscious state such that
the woman is sometimes confined. The affliction
of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder depends on
the vulnerability of the victim. Dr. Pajarillo said
that if the victim is not very healthy, perhaps one
episode of violence may induce the disorder; if
the psychological stamina and physiologic
constitutional stamina of the victim is stronger, it
will take more repetitive trauma to precipitate the
post-traumatic stress disorder and this x x x is
very dangerous.
In psychiatry, the post-traumatic stress disorder is
incorporated under the anxiety neurosis or
neurologic anxcietism. It is produced by
overwhelming brutality, trauma.
xxxxxxxxx
Dr. Pajarillo explained that with neurotic anxiety,
the victim relives the beating or trauma as if it
were real, although she is not actually being

beaten at that time. She thinks of nothing but the


suffering.
xxxxxxxxx
A woman who suffers battery has a tendency to
become neurotic, her emotional tone is unstable,
and she is irritable and restless. She tends to
become hard-headed and persistent. She has
higher sensitivity and her self-world is damaged.
Dr. Pajarillo said that an abnormal family
background relates to an individuals illness, such
as the deprivation of the continuous care and
love of the parents. As to the batterer, he
normally internalizes what is around him within
the environment. And it becomes his own
personality. He is very competitive; he is aiming
high all the time; he is so macho; he shows his
strong faade but in it there are doubts in himself
and prone to act without thinking.
xxxxxxxxx
Dr. Pajarillo emphasized that even though without
the presence of the precipator (sic) or the one
who administered the battering, that reexperiencing of the trauma occurred (sic)
because the individual cannot control it. It will just
come up in her mind or in his mind.
xxxxxxxxx
Dr. Pajarillo said that a woman suffering post
traumatic stress disorder try to defend
themselves, and primarily with knives. Usually
pointed weapons or any weapon that is available
in the immediate surrounding or in a hospital x x
x because that abound in the household. He said
a victim resorts to weapons when she has
reached the lowest rock bottom of her life and
there is no other recourse left on her but to act
decisively.
xxxxxxxxx
Dr. Pajarillo testified that he met Marivic Genosa
in his office in an interview he conducted for two
(2) hours and seventeen (17) minutes. He used
the psychological evaluation and social case
studies as a help in forming his diagnosis. He
came out with a Psychiatric Report, dated 22
January 2001.
xxxxxxxxx
On cross-examination by the private prosecutor,
Dr. Pajarillo said that at the time she killed her
husband Marivicc mental condition was that she
was re-experiencing the trauma. He said that we
are trying to explain scientifically that the reexperiencing of the trauma is not controlled by

19

Marivic. It will just come in flashes and probably


at that point in time that things happened when
the re-experiencing of the trauma flashed in her
mind. At the time he interviewed Marivic she was
more subdued, she was not super alert anymore
x x x she is mentally stress (sic) because of the
predicament she is involved.
xxxxxxxxx
20. No rebuttal evidence or testimony was
presented by either the private or the public
prosecutor. Thus, in accord with the Resolution of
this Honorable Court, the records of the partially
re-opened trial a quo were elevated.[9]
Ruling of the Trial Court
Finding the proffered theory of self-defense
untenable, the RTC gave credence to the
prosecution evidence that appellant had killed the
deceased while he was in bed sleeping. Further,
the trial court appreciated the generic
aggravating circumstance of treachery, because
Ben Genosa was supposedly defenseless when
he was killed -- lying in bed asleep when Marivic
smashed him with a pipe at the back of his head.
The capital penalty having been imposed, the
case was elevated to this Court for automatic
review.
Supervening Circumstances
On February 19, 2000, appellant filed an Urgent
Omnibus Motion praying that this Court allow (1)
the exhumation of Ben Genosa and the
reexamination of the cause of his death; (2) the
examination of appellant by qualified
psychologists and psychiatrists to determine her
state of mind at the time she had killed her
spouse; and (3) the inclusion of the said experts
reports in the records of the case for purposes of
the automatic review or, in the alternative, a
partial reopening of the case for the lower court
to admit the experts testimonies.
On September 29, 2000, this Court issued a
Resolution granting in part appellants Motion,
remanding the case to the trial court for the
reception of expert psychological and/or
psychiatric opinion on the battered woman
syndrome plea; and requiring the lower court to
report thereafter to this Court the proceedings
taken as well as to submit copies of the TSN and
additional evidence, if any.
Acting on the Courts Resolution, the trial judge
authorized the examination of Marivic by two
clinical psychologists, Drs. Natividad Dayan[10]
and Alfredo Pajarillo,[11] supposedly experts on
domestic violence. Their testimonies, along with

their documentary evidence, were then presented


to and admitted by the lower court before finally
being submitted to this Court to form part of the
records of the case.[12]
The Issues
Appellant assigns the following alleged errors of
the trial court for this Courts consideration:
1. The trial court gravely erred in promulgating an
obviously hasty decision without reflecting on the
evidence adduced as to self-defense.
2. The trial court gravely erred in finding as a fact
that Ben and Marivic Genosa were legally
married and that she was therefore liable for
parricide.
3. The trial court gravely erred finding the cause
of death to be by beating with a pipe.
4. The trial court gravely erred in ignoring and
disregarding evidence adduced from impartial
and unbiased witnesses that Ben Genosa was a
drunk, a gambler, a womanizer and wife-beater;
and further gravely erred in concluding that Ben
Genosa was a battered husband.
5. The trial court gravely erred in not requiring
testimony from the children of Marivic Genosa.
6. The trial court gravely erred in concluding that
Marivics flight to Manila and her subsequent
apologies were indicia of guilt, instead of a clear
attempt to save the life of her unborn child.
7. The trial court gravely erred in concluding that
there was an aggravating circumstance of
treachery.
8. The trial court gravely erred in refusing to reevaluate the traditional elements in determining
the existence of self-defense and defense of
foetus in this case, thereby erroneously
convicting Marivic Genosa of the crime of
parricide and condemning her to the ultimate
penalty of death.[13]
In the main, the following are the essential legal
issues: (1) whether appellant acted in selfdefense and in defense of her fetus; and (2)
whether treachery attended the killing of Ben
Genosa.
The Courts Ruling
The appeal is partly meritorious.
Collateral Factual Issues

20

The first six assigned errors raised by appellant


are factual in nature, if not collateral to the
resolution of the principal issues. As consistently
held by this Court, the findings of the trial court
on the credibility of witnesses and their
testimonies are entitled to a high degree of
respect and will not be disturbed on appeal in the
absence of any showing that the trial judge
gravely abused his discretion or overlooked,
misunderstood or misapplied material facts or
circumstances of weight and substance that
could affect the outcome of the case.[14]
In appellants first six assigned items, we find no
grave abuse of discretion, reversible error or
misappreciation of material facts that would
reverse or modify the trial courts disposition of
the case. In any event, we will now briefly
dispose of these alleged errors of the trial court.
First, we do not agree that the lower court
promulgated an obviously hasty decision without
reflecting on the evidence adduced as to selfdefense. We note that in his 17-page Decision,
Judge Fortunito L. Madrona summarized the
testimonies of both the prosecution and the
defense witnesses and -- on the basis of those
and of the documentary evidence on record -made his evaluation, findings and conclusions.
He wrote a 3-page discourse assessing the
testimony and the self-defense theory of the
accused. While she, or even this Court, may not
agree with the trial judges conclusions, we
cannot peremptorily conclude, absent substantial
evidence, that he failed to reflect on the evidence
presented.
Neither do we find the appealed Decision to have
been made in an obviously hasty manner. The
Information had been filed with the lower court on
November 14, 1996. Thereafter, trial began and
at least 13 hearings were held for over a year. It
took the trial judge about two months from the
conclusion of trial to promulgate his judgment.
That he conducted the trial and resolved the case
with dispatch should not be taken against him,
much less used to condemn him for being unduly
hasty. If at all, the dispatch with which he handled
the case should be lauded. In any case, we find
his actions in substantial compliance with his
constitutional obligation.[15]
Second, the lower court did not err in finding as a
fact that Ben Genosa and appellant had been
legally married, despite the non-presentation of
their marriage contract. In People v. Malabago,
[16] this Court held:
The key element in parricide is the relationship of
the offender with the victim. In the case of
parricide of a spouse, the best proof of the
relationship between the accused and the

deceased is the marriage certificate. In the


absence of a marriage certificate, however, oral
evidence of the fact of marriage may be
considered by the trial court if such proof is not
objected to.
Two of the prosecution witnesses -- namely, the
mother and the brother of appellants deceased
spouse -- attested in court that Ben had been
married to Marivic.[17] The defense raised no
objection to these testimonies. Moreover, during
her direct examination, appellant herself made a
judicial admission of her marriage to Ben.[18]
Axiomatic is the rule that a judicial admission is
conclusive upon the party making it, except only
when there is a showing that (1) the admission
was made through a palpable mistake, or (2) no
admission was in fact made.[19] Other than
merely attacking the non-presentation of the
marriage contract, the defense offered no proof
that the admission made by appellant in court as
to the fact of her marriage to the deceased was
made through a palpable mistake.
Third, under the circumstances of this case, the
specific or direct cause of Bens death -- whether
by a gunshot or by beating with a pipe -- has no
legal consequence. As the Court elucidated in its
September 29, 2000 Resolution, [c]onsidering
that the appellant has admitted the fact of killing
her husband and the acts of hitting his nape with
a metal pipe and of shooting him at the back of
his head, the Court believes that exhumation is
unnecessary, if not immaterial, to determine
which of said acts actually caused the victims
death. Determining which of these admitted acts
caused the death is not dispositive of the guilt or
defense of appellant.
Fourth, we cannot fault the trial court for not fully
appreciating evidence that Ben was a drunk,
gambler, womanizer and wife-beater. Until this
case came to us for automatic review, appellant
had not raised the novel defense of battered
woman syndrome, for which such evidence may
have been relevant. Her theory of self-defense
was then the crucial issue before the trial court.
As will be discussed shortly, the legal requisites
of self-defense under prevailing jurisprudence
ostensibly appear inconsistent with the
surrounding facts that led to the death of the
victim. Hence, his personal character, especially
his past behavior, did not constitute vital evidence
at the time.
Fifth, the trial court surely committed no error in
not requiring testimony from appellants children.
As correctly elucidated by the solicitor general, all
criminal actions are prosecuted under the
direction and control of the public prosecutor, in
whom lies the discretion to determine which
witnesses and evidence are necessary to

21

present.[20] As the former further points out,


neither the trial court nor the prosecution
prevented appellant from presenting her children
as witnesses. Thus, she cannot now fault the
lower court for not requiring them to testify.
Finally, merely collateral or corroborative is the
matter of whether the flight of Marivic to Manila
and her subsequent apologies to her brother-inlaw are indicia of her guilt or are attempts to save
the life of her unborn child. Any reversible error
as to the trial courts appreciation of these
circumstances has little bearing on the final
resolution of the case.
First Legal Issue:
Self-Defense and Defense of a Fetus
Appellant admits killing Ben Genosa but, to avoid
criminal liability, invokes self-defense and/or
defense of her unborn child. When the accused
admits killing the victim, it is incumbent upon her
to prove any claimed justifying circumstance by
clear and convincing evidence.[21] Well-settled is
the rule that in criminal cases, self-defense (and
similarly, defense of a stranger or third person)
shifts the burden of proof from the prosecution to
the defense.[22]
The Battered Woman Syndrome
In claiming self-defense, appellant raises the
novel theory of the battered woman syndrome.
While new in Philippine jurisprudence, the
concept has been recognized in foreign
jurisdictions as a form of self-defense or, at the
least, incomplete self-defense.[23] By
appreciating evidence that a victim or defendant
is afflicted with the syndrome, foreign courts
convey their understanding of the justifiably
fearful state of mind of a person who has been
cyclically abused and controlled over a period of
time.[24]
A battered woman has been defined as a woman
who is repeatedly subjected to any forceful
physical or psychological behavior by a man in
order to coerce her to do something he wants her
to do without concern for her rights. Battered
women include wives or women in any form of
intimate relationship with men. Furthermore, in
order to be classified as a battered woman, the
couple must go through the battering cycle at
least twice. Any woman may find herself in an
abusive relationship with a man once. If it occurs
a second time, and she remains in the situation,
she is defined as a battered woman.[25]
Battered women exhibit common personality
traits, such as low self-esteem, traditional beliefs
about the home, the family and the female sex
role; emotional dependence upon the dominant

male; the tendency to accept responsibility for the


batterers actions; and false hopes that the
relationship will improve.[26]
More graphically, the battered woman syndrome
is characterized by the so-called cycle of
violence,[27] which has three phases: (1) the
tension-building phase; (2) the acute battering
incident; and (3) the tranquil, loving (or, at least,
nonviolent) phase.[28]
During the tension-building phase, minor
battering occurs -- it could be verbal or slight
physical abuse or another form of hostile
behavior. The woman usually tries to pacify the
batterer through a show of kind, nurturing
behavior; or by simply staying out of his way.
What actually happens is that she allows herself
to be abused in ways that, to her, are
comparatively minor. All she wants is to prevent
the escalation of the violence exhibited by the
batterer. This wish, however, proves to be
double-edged, because her placatory and
passive behavior legitimizes his belief that he has
the right to abuse her in the first place.
However, the techniques adopted by the woman
in her effort to placate him are not usually
successful, and the verbal and/or physical abuse
worsens. Each partner senses the imminent loss
of control and the growing tension and despair.
Exhausted from the persistent stress, the
battered woman soon withdraws emotionally. But
the more she becomes emotionally unavailable,
the more the batterer becomes angry, oppressive
and abusive. Often, at some unpredictable point,
the violence spirals out of control and leads to an
acute battering incident.[29]
The acute battering incident is said to be
characterized by brutality, destructiveness and,
sometimes, death. The battered woman deems
this incident as unpredictable, yet also inevitable.
During this phase, she has no control; only the
batterer may put an end to the violence. Its
nature can be as unpredictable as the time of its
explosion, and so are his reasons for ending it.
The battered woman usually realizes that she
cannot reason with him, and that resistance
would only exacerbate her condition.
At this stage, she has a sense of detachment
from the attack and the terrible pain, although
she may later clearly remember every detail. Her
apparent passivity in the face of acute violence
may be rationalized thus: the batterer is almost
always much stronger physically, and she knows
from her past painful experience that it is futile to
fight back. Acute battering incidents are often
very savage and out of control, such that
innocent bystanders or intervenors are likely to
get hurt.[30]

22

The final phase of the cycle of violence begins


when the acute battering incident ends. During
this tranquil period, the couple experience
profound relief. On the one hand, the batterer
may show a tender and nurturing behavior
towards his partner. He knows that he has been
viciously cruel and tries to make up for it, begging
for her forgiveness and promising never to beat
her again. On the other hand, the battered
woman also tries to convince herself that the
battery will never happen again; that her partner
will change for the better; and that this good,
gentle and caring man is the real person whom
she loves.
A battered woman usually believes that she is the
sole anchor of the emotional stability of the
batterer. Sensing his isolation and despair, she
feels responsible for his well-being. The truth,
though, is that the chances of his reforming, or
seeking or receiving professional help, are very
slim, especially if she remains with him.
Generally, only after she leaves him does he
seek professional help as a way of getting her
back. Yet, it is in this phase of remorseful
reconciliation that she is most thoroughly
tormented psychologically.
The illusion of absolute interdependency is wellentrenched in a battered womans psyche. In this
phase, she and her batterer are indeed
emotionally dependent on each other -- she for
his nurturant behavior, he for her forgiveness.
Underneath this miserable cycle of tension,
violence and forgiveness, each partner may
believe that it is better to die than to be
separated. Neither one may really feel
independent, capable of functioning without the
other.[31]
The other expert witness presented by the
defense, Dr. Alfredo Pajarillo, testified on his
Psychiatric Report,[42] which was based on his
interview and examination of Marivic Genosa.
The Report said that during the first three years
of her marriage to Ben, everything looked good -the atmosphere was fine, normal and happy -until Ben started to be attracted to other girls and
was also enticed in[to] gambling[,] especially
cockfighting. x x x. At the same time Ben was
often joining his barkada in drinking sprees.
The drinking sprees of Ben greatly changed the
attitude he showed toward his family, particularly
to his wife. The Report continued: At first, it was
verbal and emotional abuses but as time passed,
he became physically abusive. Marivic claimed
that the viciousness of her husband was
progressive every time he got drunk. It was a
painful ordeal Marivic had to anticipate whenever
she suspected that her husband went for a

drinking [spree]. They had been married for


twelve years[;] and practically more than eight
years, she was battered and maltreated
relentlessly and mercilessly by her husband
whenever he was drunk.
Marivic sought the help of her mother-in-law, but
her efforts were in vain. Further quoting from the
Report, [s]he also sought the advice and help of
close relatives and well-meaning friends in spite
of her feeling ashamed of what was happening to
her. But incessant battering became more and
more frequent and more severe. x x x.[43]
From the totality of evidence presented, there is
indeed no doubt in the Courts mind that Appellant
Marivic Genosa was a severely abused person.
Effect of Battery on Appellant
Because of the recurring cycles of violence
experienced by the abused woman, her state of
mind metamorphoses. In determining her state of
mind, we cannot rely merely on the judgment of
an ordinary, reasonable person who is evaluating
the events immediately surrounding the incident.
A Canadian court has aptly pointed out that
expert evidence on the psychological effect of
battering on wives and common law partners are
both relevant and necessary. How can the mental
state of the appellant be appreciated without it?
The average member of the public may ask: Why
would a woman put up with this kind of
treatment? Why should she continue to live with
such a man? How could she love a partner who
beat her to the point of requiring hospitalization?
We would expect the woman to pack her bags
and go. Where is her self-respect? Why does she
not cut loose and make a new life for herself?
Such is the reaction of the average person
confronted with the so-called battered wife
syndrome.[44]
To understand the syndrome properly, however,
ones viewpoint should not be drawn from that of
an ordinary, reasonable person. What goes on in
the mind of a person who has been subjected to
repeated, severe beatings may not be consistent
with -- nay, comprehensible to -- those who have
not been through a similar experience. Expert
opinion is essential to clarify and refute common
myths and misconceptions about battered
women.[45]
The theory of BWS formulated by Lenore Walker,
as well as her research on domestic violence,
has had a significant impact in the United States
and the United Kingdom on the treatment and
prosecution of cases, in which a battered woman
is charged with the killing of her violent partner.
The psychologist explains that the cyclical nature
of the violence inflicted upon the battered woman

23

immobilizes the latters ability to act decisively in


her own interests, making her feel trapped in the
relationship with no means of escape.[46] In her
years of research, Dr. Walker found that the
abuse often escalates at the point of separation
and battered women are in greater danger of
dying then.[47]
Corroborating these research findings, Dra.
Dayan said that the battered woman usually has
a very low opinion of herself. She has x x x selfdefeating and self-sacrificing characteristics. x x x
[W]hen the violence would happen, they usually
think that they provoke[d] it, that they were the
one[s] who precipitated the violence[; that] they
provoke[d] their spouse to be physically, verbally
and even sexually abusive to them.[48]
According to Dra. Dayan, there are a lot of
reasons why a battered woman does not readily
leave an abusive partner -- poverty, self-blame
and guilt arising from the latters belief that she
provoked the violence, that she has an obligation
to keep the family intact at all cost for the sake of
their children, and that she is the only hope for
her spouse to change.[49]
The testimony of another expert witness, Dr.
Pajarillo, is also helpful. He had previously
testified in suits involving violent family relations,
having evaluated probably ten to twenty
thousand violent family disputes within the Armed
Forces of the Philippines, wherein such cases
abounded. As a result of his experience with
domestic violence cases, he became a
consultant of the Battered Woman Office in
Quezon City. As such, he got involved in about
forty (40) cases of severe domestic violence, in
which the physical abuse on the woman would
sometimes even lead to her loss of
consciousness.[50]
Dr. Pajarillo explained that overwhelming
brutality, trauma could result in posttraumatic
stress disorder, a form of anxiety neurosis or
neurologic anxietism.[51] After being repeatedly
and severely abused, battered persons may
believe that they are essentially helpless, lacking
power to change their situation. x x x [A]cute
battering incidents can have the effect of
stimulating the development of coping responses
to the trauma at the expense of the victims ability
to muster an active response to try to escape
further trauma. Furthermore, x x x the victim
ceases to believe that anything she can do will
have a predictable positive effect.[52]
A study[53] conducted by Martin Seligman, a
psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania,
found that even if a person has control over a
situation, but believes that she does not, she will
be more likely to respond to that situation with

coping responses rather than trying to escape.


He said that it was the cognitive aspect -- the
individuals thoughts -- that proved all-important.
He referred to this phenomenon as learned
helplessness. [T]he truth or facts of a situation
turn out to be less important than the individuals
set of beliefs or perceptions concerning the
situation. Battered women dont attempt to leave
the battering situation, even when it may seem to
outsiders that escape is possible, because they
cannot predict their own safety; they believe that
nothing they or anyone else does will alter their
terrible circumstances.[54]
Thus, just as the battered woman believes that
she is somehow responsible for the violent
behavior of her partner, she also believes that he
is capable of killing her, and that there is no
escape.[55] Battered women feel unsafe, suffer
from pervasive anxiety, and usually fail to leave
the relationship.[56] Unless a shelter is available,
she stays with her husband, not only because
she typically lacks a means of self-support, but
also because she fears that if she leaves she
would be found and hurt even more.[57]
In the instant case, we meticulously scoured the
records for specific evidence establishing that
appellant, due to the repeated abuse she had
suffered from her spouse over a long period of
time, became afflicted with the battered woman
syndrome. We, however, failed to find sufficient
evidence that would support such a conclusion.
More specifically, we failed to find ample
evidence that would confirm the presence of the
essential characteristics of BWS.
The defense fell short of proving all three phases
of the cycle of violence supposedly characterizing
the relationship of Ben and Marivic Genosa. No
doubt there were acute battering incidents. In
relating to the court a quo how the fatal incident
that led to the death of Ben started, Marivic
perfectly described the tension-building phase of
the cycle. She was able to explain in adequate
detail the typical characteristics of this stage.
However, that single incident does not prove the
existence of the syndrome. In other words, she
failed to prove that in at least another battering
episode in the past, she had gone through a
similar pattern.
How did the tension between the partners usually
arise or build up prior to acute battering? How did
Marivic normally respond to Bens relatively minor
abuses? What means did she employ to try to
prevent the situation from developing into the
next (more violent) stage?
Neither did appellant proffer sufficient evidence in
regard to the third phase of the cycle. She simply
mentioned that she would usually run away to her

24

mothers or fathers house;[58] that Ben would


seek her out, ask for her forgiveness and promise
to change; and that believing his words, she
would return to their common abode.

sought to be avoided must be imminent and


actual, not merely imaginary.[61] Thus, the
Revised Penal Code provides the following
requisites and effect of self-defense:[62]

Did she ever feel that she provoked the violent


incidents between her and her spouse? Did she
believe that she was the only hope for Ben to
reform? And that she was the sole support of his
emotional stability and well-being? Conversely,
how dependent was she on him? Did she feel
helpless and trapped in their relationship? Did
both of them regard death as preferable to
separation?

Art. 11. Justifying circumstances. -- The following


do not incur any criminal liability:

In sum, the defense failed to elicit from appellant


herself her factual experiences and thoughts that
would clearly and fully demonstrate the essential
characteristics of the syndrome.
The Court appreciates the ratiocinations given by
the expert witnesses for the defense. Indeed,
they were able to explain fully, albeit merely
theoretically and scientifically, how the personality
of the battered woman usually evolved or
deteriorated as a result of repeated and severe
beatings inflicted upon her by her partner or
spouse. They corroborated each others
testimonies, which were culled from their
numerous studies of hundreds of actual cases.
However, they failed to present in court the
factual experiences and thoughts that appellant
had related to them -- if at all -- based on which
they concluded that she had BWS.
We emphasize that in criminal cases, all the
elements of a modifying circumstance must be
proven in order to be appreciated. To repeat, the
records lack supporting evidence that would
establish all the essentials of the battered woman
syndrome as manifested specifically in the case
of the Genosas.
BWS as Self-Defense
In any event, the existence of the syndrome in a
relationship does not in itself establish the legal
right of the woman to kill her abusive partner.
Evidence must still be considered in the context
of self-defense.[59]
From the expert opinions discussed earlier, the
Court reckons further that crucial to the BWS
defense is the state of mind of the battered
woman at the time of the offense[60] -- she must
have actually feared imminent harm from her
batterer and honestly believed in the need to kill
him in order to save her life.
Settled in our jurisprudence, however, is the rule
that the one who resorts to self-defense must
face a real threat on ones life; and the peril

1. Anyone who acts in defense of his person or


rights, provided that the following circumstances
concur;
First. Unlawful aggression;
Second. Reasonable necessity of the means
employed to prevent or repel it;
Third. Lack of sufficient provocation on the part of
the person defending himself.
Unlawful aggression is the most essential
element of self-defense.[63] It presupposes
actual, sudden and unexpected attack -- or an
imminent danger thereof -- on the life or safety of
a person.[64] In the present case, however,
according to the testimony of Marivic herself,
there was a sufficient time interval between the
unlawful aggression of Ben and her fatal attack
upon him. She had already been able to withdraw
from his violent behavior and escape to their
childrens bedroom. During that time, he
apparently ceased his attack and went to bed.
The reality or even the imminence of the danger
he posed had ended altogether. He was no
longer in a position that presented an actual
threat on her life or safety.
Had Ben still been awaiting Marivic when she
came out of their childrens bedroom -- and based
on past violent incidents, there was a great
probability that he would still have pursued her
and inflicted graver harm -- then, the imminence
of the real threat upon her life would not have
ceased yet. Where the brutalized person is
already suffering from BWS, further evidence of
actual physical assault at the time of the killing is
not required. Incidents of domestic battery
usually have a predictable pattern. To require the
battered person to await an obvious, deadly
attack before she can defend her life would
amount to sentencing her to murder by
installment.[65] Still, impending danger (based on
the conduct of the victim in previous battering
episodes) prior to the defendants use of deadly
force must be shown. Threatening behavior or
communication can satisfy the required
imminence of danger.[66] Considering such
circumstances and the existence of BWS, selfdefense may be appreciated.
We reiterate the principle that aggression, if not
continuous, does not warrant self-defense.[67] In
the absence of such aggression, there can be no
self-defense -- complete or incomplete -- on the

25

part of the victim.[68] Thus, Marivics killing of Ben


was not completely justified under the
circumstances.
Mitigating Circumstances Present
In any event, all is not lost for appellant. While
she did not raise any other modifying
circumstances that would alter her penalty, we
deem it proper to evaluate and appreciate in her
favor circumstances that mitigate her criminal
liability. It is a hornbook doctrine that an appeal in
a criminal case opens it wholly for review on any
issue, including that which has not been raised
by the parties.[69]
From several psychological tests she had
administered to Marivic, Dra. Dayan, in her
Psychological Evaluation Report dated
November 29, 2000, opined as follows:
This is a classic case of a Battered Woman
Syndrome. The repeated battering Marivic
experienced with her husband constitutes a form
of [cumulative] provocation which broke down her
psychological resistance and natural self-control.
It is very clear that she developed heightened
sensitivity to sight of impending danger her
husband posed continuously. Marivic truly
experienced at the hands of her abuser husband
a state of psychological paralysis which can only
be ended by an act of violence on her part. [70]
Dr. Pajarillo corroborates the findings of Dra.
Dayan. He explained that the effect of repetitious
pain taking, repetitious battering, [and] repetitious
maltreatment as well as the severity and the
prolonged administration of the battering is
posttraumatic stress disorder.[71] Expounding
thereon, he said:
Q What causes the trauma, Mr. Witness?
A What causes the trauma is probably the
repetitious battering. Second, the severity of the
battering. Third, the prolonged administration of
battering or the prolonged commission of the
battering and the psychological and constitutional
stamina of the victim and another one is the
public and social support available to the victim. If
nobody is interceding, the more she will go to that
disorder....
xxxxxxxxx
Q You referred a while ago to severity. What are
the qualifications in terms of severity of the
postraumatic stress disorder, Dr. Pajarillo?
A The severity is the most severe continuously to
trig[g]er this post[t]raumatic stress disorder is
injury to the head, banging of the head like that. It

is usually the very very severe stimulus that


precipitate this post[t]raumatic stress disorder.
Others are suffocating the victim like holding a
pillow on the face, strangulating the individual,
suffocating the individual, and boxing the
individual. In this situation therefore, the victim is
heightened to painful stimulus, like for example
she is pregnant, she is very susceptible because
the woman will not only protect herself, she is
also to protect the fetus. So the anxiety is
heightened to the end [sic] degree.
Q But in terms of the gravity of the disorder, Mr.
Witness, how do you classify?
A We classify the disorder as [acute], or chronic
or delayed or [a]typical.
Q Can you please describe this
pre[-]classification you called delayed or
[atypical]?
A The acute is the one that usually require only
one battering and the individual will manifest now
a severe emotional instability, higher irritability
remorse, restlessness, and fear and probably in
most [acute] cases the first thing will be
happened to the individual will be thinking of
suicide.
Q And in chronic cases, Mr. Witness?
A The chronic cases is this repetitious battering,
repetitious maltreatment, any prolonged, it is
longer than six (6) months. The [acute] is only the
first day to six (6) months. After this six (6)
months you become chronic. It is stated in the
book specifically that after six (6) months is
chronic. The [a]typical one is the repetitious
battering but the individual who is abnormal and
then become normal. This is how you get
neurosis from neurotic personality of these cases
of post[t]raumatic stress disorder. [72]
Answering the questions propounded by the trial
judge, the expert witness clarified further:
Q But just the same[,] neurosis especially on
battered woman syndrome x x x affects x x x his
or her mental capacity?
A Yes, your Honor.
Q As you were saying[,] it x x x obfuscated her
rationality?
A Of course obfuscated.[73]
In sum, the cyclical nature and the severity of the
violence inflicted upon appellant resulted in
cumulative provocation which broke down her
psychological resistance and natural self-control,

26

psychological paralysis, and difficulty in


concentrating or impairment of memory.
Based on the explanations of the expert
witnesses, such manifestations were analogous
to an illness that diminished the exercise by
appellant of her will power without, however,
depriving her of consciousness of her acts. There
was, thus, a resulting diminution of her freedom
of action, intelligence or intent. Pursuant to
paragraphs 9[74] and 10[75] of Article 13 of the
Revised Penal Code, this circumstance should
be taken in her favor and considered as a
mitigating factor. [76]
In addition, we also find in favor of appellant the
extenuating circumstance of having acted upon
an impulse so powerful as to have naturally
produced passion and obfuscation. It has been
held that this state of mind is present when a
crime is committed as a result of an
uncontrollable burst of passion provoked by prior
unjust or improper acts or by a legitimate
stimulus so powerful as to overcome reason.[77]
To appreciate this circumstance, the following
requisites should concur: (1) there is an act, both
unlawful and sufficient to produce such a
condition of mind; and (2) this act is not far
removed from the commission of the crime by a
considerable length of time, during which the
accused might recover her normal equanimity.
[78]
Here, an acute battering incident, wherein Ben
Genosa was the unlawful aggressor, preceded
his being killed by Marivic. He had further
threatened to kill her while dragging her by the
neck towards a cabinet in which he had kept a
gun. It should also be recalled that she was eight
months pregnant at the time. The attempt on her
life was likewise on that of her fetus.[79] His
abusive and violent acts, an aggression which
was directed at the lives of both Marivic and her
unborn child, naturally produced passion and
obfuscation overcoming her reason. Even though
she was able to retreat to a separate room, her
emotional and mental state continued. According
to her, she felt her blood pressure rise; she was
filled with feelings of self-pity and of fear that she
and her baby were about to die. In a fit of
indignation, she pried open the cabinet drawer
where Ben kept a gun, then she took the weapon
and used it to shoot him.
The confluence of these events brings us to the
conclusion that there was no considerable period
of time within which Marivic could have recovered
her normal equanimity. Helpful is Dr. Pajarillos
testimony[80] that with neurotic anxiety -- a
psychological effect on a victim of overwhelming
brutality [or] trauma -- the victim relives the
beating or trauma as if it were real, although she

is not actually being beaten at the time. She


cannot control re-experiencing the whole thing,
the most vicious and the trauma that she
suffered. She thinks of nothing but the suffering.
Such reliving which is beyond the control of a
person under similar circumstances, must have
been what Marivic experienced during the brief
time interval and prevented her from recovering
her normal equanimity. Accordingly, she should
further be credited with the mitigating
circumstance of passion and obfuscation.
It should be clarified that these two
circumstances -- psychological paralysis as well
as passion and obfuscation -- did not arise from
the same set of facts.
On the one hand, the first circumstance arose
from the cyclical nature and the severity of the
battery inflicted by the batterer-spouse upon
appellant. That is, the repeated beatings over a
period of time resulted in her psychological
paralysis, which was analogous to an illness
diminishing the exercise of her will power without
depriving her of consciousness of her acts.
The second circumstance, on the other hand,
resulted from the violent aggression he had
inflicted on her prior to the killing. That the
incident occurred when she was eight months
pregnant with their child was deemed by her as
an attempt not only on her life, but likewise on
that of their unborn child. Such perception
naturally produced passion and obfuscation on
her part.
The above testimony is insufficient to establish
the presence of treachery. There is no showing of
the victims position relative to appellants at the
time of the shooting. Besides, equally axiomatic
is the rule that when a killing is preceded by an
argument or a quarrel, treachery cannot be
appreciated as a qualifying circumstance,
because the deceased may be said to have been
forewarned and to have anticipated aggression
from the assailant.[85]
Moreover, in order to appreciate alevosia, the
method of assault adopted by the aggressor must
have been consciously and deliberately chosen
for the specific purpose of accomplishing the
unlawful act without risk from any defense that
might be put up by the party attacked.[86] There
is no showing, though, that the present appellant
intentionally chose a specific means of
successfully attacking her husband without any
risk to herself from any retaliatory act that he
might make. To the contrary, it appears that the
thought of using the gun occurred to her only at
about the same moment when she decided to kill
her batterer-spouse. In the absence of any
convincing proof that she consciously and

27

deliberately employed the method by which she


committed the crime in order to ensure its
execution, this Court resolves the doubt in her
favor.[87]
Proper Penalty
The penalty for parricide imposed by Article 246
of the Revised Penal Code is reclusion perpetua
to death. Since two mitigating circumstances and
no aggravating circumstance have been found to
have attended the commission of the offense, the
penalty shall be lowered by one (1) degree,
pursuant to Article 64 of paragraph 5[88] of the
same Code.[89] The penalty of reclusion
temporal in its medium period is imposable,
considering that two mitigating circumstances are
to be taken into account in reducing the penalty
by one degree, and no other modifying
circumstances were shown to have attended the
commission of the offense.[90] Under the
Indeterminate Sentence Law, the minimum of the
penalty shall be within the range of that which is
next lower in degree -- prision mayor -- and the
maximum shall be within the range of the
medium period of reclusion temporal.
Considering all the circumstances of the instant
case, we deem it just and proper to impose the
penalty of prision mayor in its minimum period, or
six (6) years and one (1) day in prison as
minimum; to reclusion temporal in its medium
period, or 14 years 8 months and 1 day as
maximum. Noting that appellant has already
served the minimum period, she may now apply
for and be released from detention on parole.[91]
Epilogue
Being a novel concept in our jurisprudence, the
battered woman syndrome was neither easy nor
simple to analyze and recognize vis--vis the
given set of facts in the present case. The Court
agonized on how to apply the theory as a
modern-day reality. It took great effort beyond the
normal manner in which decisions are made -- on
the basis of existing law and jurisprudence
applicable to the proven facts. To give a just and
proper resolution of the case, it endeavored to
take a good look at studies conducted here and
abroad in order to understand the intricacies of
the syndrome and the distinct personality of the
chronically abused person. Certainly, the Court
has learned much. And definitely, the solicitor
general and appellants counsel, Atty. Katrina
Legarda, have helped it in such learning process.
While our hearts empathize with recurrently
battered persons, we can only work within the
limits of law, jurisprudence and given facts. We
cannot make or invent them. Neither can we

amend the Revised Penal Code. Only Congress,


in its wisdom, may do so.
The Court, however, is not discounting the
possibility of self-defense arising from the
battered woman syndrome. We now sum up our
main points. First, each of the phases of the cycle
of violence must be proven to have characterized
at least two battering episodes between the
appellant and her intimate partner. Second, the
final acute battering episode preceding the killing
of the batterer must have produced in the
battered persons mind an actual fear of an
imminent harm from her batterer and an honest
belief that she needed to use force in order to
save her life. Third, at the time of the killing, the
batterer must have posed probable -- not
necessarily immediate and actual -- grave harm
to the accused, based on the history of violence
perpetrated by the former against the latter.
Taken altogether, these circumstances could
satisfy the requisites of self-defense. Under the
existing facts of the present case, however, not
all of these elements were duly established.
WHEREFORE, the conviction of Appellant
Marivic Genosa for parricide is hereby
AFFIRMED. However, there being two (2)
mitigating circumstances and no aggravating
circumstance attending her commission of the
offense, her penalty is REDUCED to six (6) years
and one (1) day of prision mayor as minimum; to
14 years, 8 months and 1 day of reclusion
temporal as maximum.
Inasmuch as appellant has been detained for
more than the minimum penalty hereby imposed
upon her, the director of the Bureau of
Corrections may immediately RELEASE her from
custody upon due determination that she is
eligible for parole, unless she is being held for
some other lawful cause. Costs de oficio.
SO ORDERED.
[G.R. No. 139412. April 2, 2003]
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee,
vs. JAIME CASTILLANO, SR. alias Talino,
RONALD CASTILLANO alias Nono and JAIME
CASTILLANO, JR. alias Junjun, accused,
RONALD CASTILLANO alias Nono and JAIME
CASTILLANO, JR. alias Junjun, appellants.
DECISION
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
This is an appeal from the Decision[1] of the
Regional Trial Court of Pili, Camarines Sur,
Branch 31, in Criminal Case No. P-2542,
convicting appellants Ronald Castillano alias
Nono and Jaime Castillano, Jr. of murder, meting
on each of them the penalty of reclusion perpetua

28

and ordering them to pay, jointly and severally,


damages to the heirs of the victim Diosdado
Volante.
The Evidence or the Prosecution
Diosdado Volante, who eked out a living as a
farmer, his wife Luz,[2] and their four children
lived in their farmland located in the outskirt of
Sitio Danawan, Barangay Sagrada, Bula,
Camarines Sur.
About 200 meters away from Diosdados farmland
was the farmhouse of Jaime Castillano, Sr.[3] He
tasked his son, Jaime Castillano, Jr., to take care
of the farmhouse and allowed him to reside there.
[4] Jaime, Sr., his wife Concepcion, their son
Ronald (Nono) Castillano and other children lived
at their family residence in Sagrada, Bula,
Camarines Sur, approximately three kilometers
away from their farmhouse in Sitio Danawan.[5]
Sometime in the early part of June 1996,[6]
Jaime, Sr. fired his gun indiscriminately. Afraid
that a stray bullet might hit any member of his
family, Diosdado accosted Jaime, Sr. and asked
him to desist from firing his gun indiscriminately.
Jaime, Sr. resented the intrusion. He
remonstrated that neighbors did not even
complain about him firing his gun. A heated
altercation ensued. Jaime, Sr. then fired his gun
towards the house of Diosdado. The incident
germinated deep animosity between the two and
their respective families.[7] Jaime, Sr. always
carried a bolo whenever he passed by the house
of Diosdado.
On July 8, 1996, between 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.,
Levy Avila, a teacher, was in his house doing
some repairs. He noticed Jaime, Jr. and Ronald
talking by the roadside near the gate of his
(Levys) house. Levy overheard the two planning
to go to Diosdados house. Jaime, Jr. and Ronald
even told Levy: Ayaw namin kasing inaasar.
Suspecting that the two were intending to harm
Diosdado, Levy urged them to amicably settle
their differences with Diosdado.
At around 8:00 p.m., Luz and Diosdado were
about to retire for the night. Their children were
already fast asleep. Diosdado was tired after a
days work of spraying chemicals at the rice field.
He reclined on a bamboo bench near the main
door of their house. A kerosene lamp lighted the
house. Suddenly, Luz heard voices near their
house. She saw Jaime, Sr. holding a flashlight
and his two sons, Jaime Jr. and Ronald, on their
way to the house. Luz immediately alerted her
husband and told him that the Castillanos were in
their yard. However, Diosdado was nonchalant
and simply told Luz not to mind them. All of a
sudden, Jaime, Sr. fired his gun at Diosdados

house. Terrified, Luz hastily carried her baby


daughter Mary Jane, sought cover and hid near
the rear door. She was about five meters away
from her husband when the Castillanos barged
inside their house and ganged up on Diosdado.
Jaime, Jr. and Ronald, armed with bladed
weapons, took turns in stabbing Diosdado.
Ronald stabbed Diosdado on the right side of his
breast, right thigh and on the back. He also
struck him with a one-meter long pipe. Not
satisfied, Jaime, Sr. fired his gun hitting the right
thigh of Diosdado. Luz was so shocked by the
sudden turn of events. To silence her one year
old baby, she breastfed her. As soon as she
could, Luz fled to the rice paddies where she hid
for a time. The Castillanos fled on board a jeep
parked in the NIA road about 200 meters from the
house of Diosdado. When Luz returned to their
house, she saw her husband sprawled on the
ground in a pool of his own blood. Diosdado, at
the point of death, asked her for help. Not
knowing what to do, Luz lost no time and ran to
the house of their neighbor Celedonio Espiritu for
help. Celedonio rushed to the Bula Police Station
and reported the incident.
A team composed of SPO4 Jaime Javier, SPO3
Jaime Bellano and SPO3 Nilo Fornillos,[8] the
duty investigator,[9] went to the crime scene[10]
to conduct an on-the-spot investigation.
Photographs were taken of the cadaver.[11]
SPO3 Fornillo drew rough sketch[12] of the
scene. The policemen saw a bolo at the place
where Diosdado was sprawled near the door of
their house. A scabbard of a bolo was found a
meter away from the house of Diosdado.[13] The
policemen also found a bullet hole on the wall of
the house.[14] Thereafter, the cadaver was
placed on a hamak [hammock] brought to the
police station. The police investigators turned
over the scabbard and bolo to the desk officer of
the police station.[15]
From the police station, SPO4 Javier, SPO3
Bellano and Sgt. Rogelio Palacio boarded their
mobile police car and set out a manhunt for the
malefactors. They proceeded towards the
boundary in Sto. Domingo where they put up a
checkpoint. The police officers inspected every
vehicle that passed by. At around 12:45 a.m.,
SPO4 Javier halted a passenger jeepney. On
board were Jaime, Sr. and his two sons, Jaime
Jr. and Ronald, each of whom carried a bag
containing their clothes. The policemen brought
the Castillanos to the police station.[16] The bags
of Jaime, Jr. and Ronald were turned over to the
police investigators. The three were placed under
arrest for the killing of Diosdado. The policemen
submitted their investigation report.[17]
In the meantime, at 7:00 a.m., Dr. Evangeline
Consolacion, the Municipal Health Officer of Bula,

29

conducted an autopsy on the cadaver of


Diosdado. Her autopsy report revealed the
following findings:
External Findings
1. Incise Wound 3 cm Superior pinna R ear
2. Incise woud (sic) 10 cm. from nasal bridge
extending to mandible R
3. Stab wound 2 cm.x 5 cm. Epigastrium R

Sr. and Jaime, Jr. were found negative for


gunpowder residue.
The MTC issued a subpoena requiring the
accused to submit their counter-affidavits from
notice thereof. However, the accused failed to
submit any counter-affidavit.[26]
On August 2, 1996, an Information for murder
was filed against Jaime, Sr., Ronald and Jaime
Jr. with the Regional Trial Court of Pili,
Camarines Sur, Branch 31. The accusatory
portion of the Information reads:

4. Stab wound 2 cm.x 4 cm. Epigastrium L


5. Stab wound 2.5 cm. Middle third Arm R
6. Stab wound 2cm x 5 cm. posterior Back.
7. Amputating middle third finger L
8. Hacked wound posterior ankle L
9. Gunshot wound POE 2 x 2cm. with contusion
collar medial aspect middle third R thigh
No point of exit noted
Internal Findings:
Fracture femur with Foreign body bullet lodge in
middle third femur with hematoma about about
100 cc R thigh
Cause of Death; Hypovolemia secondary to
Multiple Stab Wound[18]
The doctor recovered a slug from the right thigh
of Diosdado. She later signed the victims postmortem certificate of death.[19] Senior Inspector
Edgardo B. Sambo, Chief of Police of Bula Police
Station, filed with the Municipal Trial Court of
Bula, Camarines Sur, a criminal complaint[20] for
murder against the Castillano brothers.[21] Judge
Francisco O. Tolentino conducted the preliminary
examination and thereafter issued an order of
arrest against the Castillanos.[22] No bail was
recommended for their provisional release. On
July 9, 1996, Luz gave a sworn statement to the
police investigators.[23]
On July 10, 1996, the accused were transferred
to the Tinangis Penal Farm. Senior Inspector
Sambo requested the PNP-CLRU5 Provincial
Unit to conduct a paraffin test on the Castillanos.
[24]
On July 12, 1997, Major Lorlie Arroyo, the Head
Forensic Chemist of PNP-Region 5, conducted
the paraffin test on the Castillanos. Ronald was
found positive for gunpowder residue.[25] Jaime,

That on or about the 8th day of July 1996 at


about 8:00 oclock in the evening at Barangay
Sagrada, Municipality of Bula, Province of
Camarines Sur, 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 armed
with a handgun, bladed weapon and piece of
wood did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and
feloniously attack, assault and shot and stab one
DIOSDADO VOLANTE y LOZANO inflicting upon
the latter several mortal wounds on the different
parts of his body which caused his instantaneous
death, to the damage and prejudice of the heirs
of said Diosdado Volante the amount of which to
be proven in Court.
ACTS CONTRARY TO LAW.[27]
Upon their arraignment[28] on August 29, 1996,
accused Jaime Sr., Jaime, Jr and Ronald, duly
assisted by counsel de parte, Atty. Avelino Sales
Jr., pleaded not guilty to the offense charged.
Thereafter, trial on the merits ensued.
Luz testified that when Diosdado was still alive,
he had an annual income of over P65,000. She
spent P18,000 for the funeral services,[29] P300
for religious services,[30] P9,111 for food and
other expenses[31] during her husbands wake
and funeral. She suffered sleepless nights and
mental anguish for his sudden death.
The Defenses and Evidence of the Accused
Ronald admitted when he testified that he killed
Diosdado but insisted that he did so in selfdefense and in defense of his brother Jaime, Jr.
He asserted that his father Jaime, Sr. and brother
Jaime, Jr. had nothing to do with Diosdados
death. Ronald alleged that on September 8,
1996, at about 7:30 p.m., he was driving a
passenger jeepney on his way to the poblacion of
Bula. Jaime, Jr. flagged down the jeepney. He
boarded the jeepney and told Ronald that he was
instructed by their mother to go to the house of
Jose del Socorro to ask the latter to accompany

30

them to their farmhouse in order to fetch Gilda


Albes. Ronald was armed with a .38 paltik gun,
while Jaime, Jr. was armed with a bolo sheathed
in a scabbard. They fetched Jose and then
Ronald parked the jeepney at the NIA road.
Jaime, Jr., who was holding a flashlight, walked
along the footpath on top of a pilapil (a narrow
earthen barrier between two rice fields). Ronald
and Jose walked behind Jaime, Jr. As they
passed by the house of Diosdado, a man
suddenly shouted: you shit, I have await (sic) for
you for a while, why just now. Surprised, Jaime,
Jr. forthwith focused his flashlight towards the
man who shouted. He was aghast when he saw
Diosdado armed with a bolo running towards
them and about to attack them with his bolo.
Ronald shoved Jaime, Jr. who fell on the muddy
rice paddies below the pilapil. Ronald forthwith
shot Diosdado. Diosdado took a step but fell on a
kneeling position. Diosdado brandished his bolo.
Ronald shot Diosdado once more but his gun
misfired. To defend himself, Ronald took Jaime,
Jr.s bolo and hacked Diosdado to death.[32]
Ronald then fled from the scene and ran to the
jeepney at the NIA road. Jaime, Jr. and Jose
boarded the jeep and left the scene. Ronald
threw the bolo along the way. He threw his gun
into a rice farm in Danawan.

same to be entered in the police blotter.[35]


Thereafter, she went home and told her sons
Jaime, Jr. and Ronald to immediately fetch Gilda.
She, likewise, instructed her sons to first drop by
the house of Jose so that the latter could
accompany them to the farmhouse.

Jaime, Jr. corroborated the testimony of his


brother. He, however, testified that he did not see
his brother hack and kill Diosdado. He claimed
that when Ronald got hold of his bolo, he ran
away and proceeded to their jeepney which was
then parked at the roadside. Minutes later,
Ronald followed. They then hastily went home to
Sagrada and told their father Jaime, Sr. of the
incident.[33]

Gilda Abes, the last witness for the defense,


affirmed that she was the girlfriend of Jaime, Jr.
She told the trial court that on July 8, 1996 she
was at the farmhouse of the Castillanos. She
corroborated the testimony of Jose that Diosdado
was combative and drunk. According to Gilda,
Jaime, Jr. left the farmhouse before sundown to
go to his parents place at Sagrada. Jaime, Jr.
never returned to the farmhouse that night. Gilda
learned of the incident the next morning when
she went home.[39]

Jose Del Socorro corroborated the testimony of


Ronald. He testified that on July 8, 1996, at about
5:00 p.m. he was on his way home when he met
Diosdado whom he noticed to be inebriated and
unruly Diosdado was throwing dried mud at the
farmhouse of the Castillanos and challenging the
occupants of the farmhouse to a fight. He
advised Diosdado to stop what he was doing and
warned him that he was only inviting trouble.
Diosdado told him to mind his own business and
not to intervene. Jose thereafter left Diosdado
and went, home.[34] When Jose arrived home,
Dominador Bria was waiting for him. He and
Dominador talked business for a while and
subsequently had dinner. After some time, Jaime,
Jr. and Ronald arrived at Joses house.
Concepcion Castillano testified that on July 8,
1996 at around 5:00 a.m., her son Jaime, Jr.
arrived home and told her that Diosdado threw
stones at their farmhouse and challenged
everybody to a fight. She felt nervous and
reported the incident to the police and caused the

Jaime, Sr. vehemently denied any participation in


the killing of Diosdado. He claimed that at the
time of the alleged incident, he was at their house
in Sagrada, bedridden due to his debilitating
diabetes. He narrated to the trial court his
medical history and his confinement at the
Mandaluyong Medical Center sometime in 1994.
[36] He presented documents and receipts
showing that he had been and is still under
medication.[37] He declared that upon learning
from his son Ronald that the latter killed
Diosdado, he advised his sons to look for a
lawyer for legal representation. He told the trial
court that at around 11:30 p.m., he and his two
sons had decided to go to Andangnan in order to
meet a cousin of his who knew of a lawyer
named Atty. Rotor. As they traversed the road to
Andangan, they were stopped by some
policemen at a checkpoint and were invited to the
police station where they were investigated and
eventually incarcerated.[38]

The Verdict of the Trial Court


On December 22, 1998, the trial court rendered a
decision convicting Jaime, Jr. and Ronald of
murder qualified by evident premeditation and
treachery. The trial court exonerated Jaime, Sr. of
the crime on reasonable doubt. The trial court
gave no credence to Ronalds claim that he acted
in self-defense. The decretal portion of the
decision reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing,
judgment is hereby rendered, finding the two (2)
accused RONALD CASTILLANO and JAIME
CASTILLANO, JR. guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of the offense of MURDER and they are
hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of
imprisonment of RECLUSION PERPETUA with
all the accessory penalties imposed thereby.
Further, as civil liability, the said two (2) accused
are hereby ordered to pay the legal heirs of the

31

late Diosdado L. Volante, through his widow Luz


R. Volante, the total sum of ONE HUNDRED
SEVENTY-SEVEN THOUSAND FOUR
HUNDRED TWENTY ONE PESOS
(P177,421.00) Philippine Currency as actual and
moral damages including death indemnity, with
costs against both accused.

surrendering the same to the police authorities.


Appellant Ronald admitted that he had no license
for the gun.

The accused Jaime Castillano, Sr. is hereby


acquitted on the ground of reasonable doubt.

Third. Appellant Ronald failed to report the


incident to the police authorities even when they
arrested him. Curiously, he failed to inform the
police officers who arrested him that he acted in
self-defense when he shot and stabbed the victim
The resounding silence of the appellant is
another indicium of the incredibility of his
defense.[47] Moreover, the records show that the
municipal trial court issued a subpoena on July 9,
1996 requiring appellant Ronald to submit his
counter-affidavit but he refused and/or failed to
submit the same despite service on him of the
subpoena. It was only during the trial that
appellant Ronald, for the first time, invoked selfdefense and defense of a relative.

SO ORDERED.[40]
The accused, now appellants, interposed their
appeal from the decision of the trial court
contending that it committed reversible errors:
(a) in rejecting appellant Ronalds plea of selfdefense; and (b) in not acquitting appellant
Jaime, Jr. of the crime charged for failure of the
prosecution to prove his guilt beyond reasonable
doubt.
Anent the first issue, appellant Ronald posits that
he adduced proof that he acted in self-defense
when he stabbed the victim.
The Court disagrees with appellant Ronald. The
Court has consistently held that like alibi, selfdefense is inherently weak because it is easy to
fabricate.[41] In a case where self-defense and
defense of relatives is invoked by the accused,
the burden of evidence is shifted to him to prove
with clear and convincing evidence the essential
requisites of self-defense, namely (a) unlawful
aggression on the part of the victim; (b)
reasonable necessity of the means employed to
repel or prevent it; and (c) lack of sufficient
provocation on the part of the person defending
himself. There can be no complete or incomplete
self-defense or defense of relatives unless the
accused proves unlawful aggression on the part
of the victim.[42] The accused must rely on the
strength of his evidence and not on the weakness
of the evidence of the prosecution for by pleading
self-defense, the accused thereby admits having
killed the victim and he can no longer be
exonerated of the crime charged if he fails to
prove the confluence of the essential requisites
for self-defense and defense of a relative.[43]

The failure of appellant Ronald to surrender the


bolo and his gun to the police authorities belies
his claim of self-defense.

Fourth. The cadaver of the victim was found


inside his house when the police investigators
arrived.[48] This belies appellant Ronalds claim
that he shot the victim in the rice paddies, near
his house and that he (appellant Ronald) took the
bolo of appellant Jaime, Jr. and used it to stab
the victim. Appellant Ronald failed to prove his
claim that when the police investigators arrived in
the victims house, they carried his (the victims)
body from the rice paddies to the house. The only
evidence adduced by appellant Ronald was his
testimony which is hearsay, and besides being
hearsay, it is speculative and mere conjecture.
Fifth. Appellant Ronald hacked the victim no less
than five times. Two of the stab wounds
sustained by the victim were at his back and
posterior portion of his left ankle. The number
and nature of the wounds of the victim negate the
appellants claim that he shot the victim in selfdefense. On the contrary, they prove that
appellant Ronald was determined to kill the
victim.[49]

First. After shooting and stabbing Diosdado,


appellant Ronald fled from the situs criminis.
Flight from the situs of the crime is a veritable
badge of guilt and negates his plea of selfdefense.[44]

Appellant Jaime, Jr. avers that the prosecution


failed to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt
of the crime charged. He asserts that the
testimony of Luz Volante, the widow of Diosdado,
was inconsistent with her testimony during the
preliminary examination in the municipal trial
court and her sworn statement before the police
investigators as well as the testimonies of SPO1
Fornillos and SPO4 Jaime Favier, and the
physical evidence on record.

Second. Appellant Ronald threw away his paltik .


38 gun and the bolo he used in hacking Diosdado
as he fled from the scene of the crime instead of

On the other hand, the Office of the Solicitor


General asserts that the credibility of the
testimony of Luz, the prosecutions principal

Appellant Ronald failed to discharge his burden.

32

witness, cannot be impeached via her testimony


during the preliminary examination before the
municipal trial court nor by her sworn statement
given to the police investigators for the reason
that the transcripts and sworn statement were
neither marked and offered in evidence by the
appellants nor admitted in evidence by the trial
court. Moreover, the appellants did not confront
Luz with her testimony during the preliminary
examination and her sworn statement to the
police investigators. Luz was not, therefore,
accorded a chance to explain the purported
inconsistencies, as mandated by Section 13,
Rule 132 of the Revised Rules of Evidence which
reads:
How witness is impeached by evidence of
inconsistent statement. - Before a witness can be
impeached by evidence that he has made at
other times statements inconsistent with his
present testimony, the statements must be
related to him, with the circumstances of the
times and places and the persons present, and
he must be asked whether he made such
statements, and if so, allowed to explain them. If
the statements be in writing they must be shown
to the witness before any question is put to him
concerning them.
The Court agrees with the Office of the Solicitor
General. Before the credibility of a witness and
the truthfulness of his testimony can be
impeached by evidence consisting of his prior
statements which are inconsistent with his
present testimony, the cross-examiner must lay
the predicate or the foundation for impeachment
and thereby prevent an injustice to the witness
being cross-examined. The witness must be
given a chance to recollect and to explain the
apparent inconsistency between his two
statements and state the circumstances under
which they were made.[51] This Court held in
People v. Escosura[52] that the statements of a
witness prior to her present testimony cannot
serve as basis for impeaching her credibility
unless her attention was directed to the
inconsistencies or discrepancies and she was
given an opportunity to explain said
inconsistencies. In a case where the crossexaminer tries to impeach the credibility and
truthfulness of a witness via her testimony during
a preliminary examination, this Court outlined the
procedure in United States vs. Baluyot,[53] thus:
...For instance, if the attorney for the accused
had information that a certain witness, say Pedro
Gonzales, had made and signed a sworn
statement before the fiscal materially different
from that given in his testimony before the court,
it was incumbent upon the attorney when crossexamining said witness to direct his attention to
the discrepancy and to ask him if he did not make

such and such statement before the fiscal or if he


did not there make a statement different from that
delivered in court. If the witness admits the
making of such contradictory statement, the
accused has the benefit of the admission, while
the witness has the opportunity to explain the
discrepancy, if he can. On the other hand, if the
witness denies making any such contradictory
statement, the accused has the right to prove that
the witness did make such statement; and if the
fiscal should refuse upon due notice to produce
the document, secondary evidence of the
contents thereof would be admissible. This
process of cross-examining a witness upon the
point of prior contradictory statements is called in
the practice of the American courts laying a
predicate for the introduction of contradictory
statements. It is almost universally accepted that
unless a ground is thus laid upon crossexamination, evidence of contradictory
statements are not admissible to impeach a
witness; though undoubtedly the matter is to a
large extent in the discretion of the court.
In this case, the appellants never confronted Luz
with her testimony during the preliminary
examination and her sworn statement. She was
not afforded any chance to explain any
discrepancies between her present testimony
and her testimony during the preliminary
examination and her sworn statement. The
appellants did not even mark and offer in
evidence the said transcript and sworn statement
for the specific purpose of impeaching her
credibility and her present testimony. Unless so
marked and offered in evidence and accepted by
the trial court, said transcript and sworn
statement cannot be considered by the court.[54]
On the purported inconsistencies or
discrepancies catalogued by the appellants
relating to the testimony of Luz during the
preliminary examination and her sworn
statement, the Office of the Solicitor General
posits that:
Sixth, Volante indeed testified that when she
returned to their house from the ricefield, after the
three accused had left the premises, her husband
was still alive (TSN, February 17, 1997, p. 19) as
he was still able to ask for her assistance (Ibid, p.
20). But it is not inconsistent with the expert
opinion of Dr. Consolacion that by the nature of
the wounds sustained by the victim, the latter
could have died thereof instantaneously (TSN,
February 3, 1997, p. 35). It is clear that the said
physician was merely stating a possibility and not
what happened in the instant case because in the
first place, she was not present at the scene right
after the incident.

33

Seventh, Volante was insistent in her testimony


that at the time of the commission of the subject
crime, it was bright inside their house because
they had a kerosene lamp and a bottle lamp both
lighted up, one placed on the wall and the other
on the ceiling (Ibid, pp. 33, 52-53). While it may
appear contradictory to SPO1 Pornillos testimony
that there was only a kerosene lamp at the time,
he could not have been expected to notice all the
things found inside the house, including the bottle
lamp, because he might not have been familiar
with its interiors. Or, he could have focused his
attention primarily on the body of the fallen victim
and the objects that may be used later as
evidence against the perpetrators of the crime.
Eight, it is admitted that the testimonies of
Volante and SPO1 Pornillos as to who took
pictures of the crime scene including the lifeless
body of the victim are contradictory. But again,
such contradiction, being only minor and
irrelevant, does not affect the credibility of their
testimonies.
And ninth, the apparently inconsistent statements
of the prosecution witnesses (SPO1 Pornillos and
SPO4 Javier) as to the exact time the subject
incident was reported to the police authorities are
similarly irrelevant to the matters in issue. Of
consequence here is the fact that on the night the
crime was committed, it was reported to the
authorities who later effected the arrest of the
perpetrators thereof.[55]
The Court fully agrees with the foregoing
ruminations of the Office of the Solicitor General.
The inconsistencies adverted to by the appellants
pertained only to minor and collateral matters and
not to the elements of the crime charged; hence,
they do not dilute the probative weight of the
testimony. It bears stressing that even the most
truthful witness can make mistakes but such
innocent lapses do not necessarily affect his
credibility. The testimonies of witnesses must be
considered and calibrated in their entirety and not
by their truncated portions or isolated passages.
[56] And then again, minor contradictions among
several witnesses of a particular incident and
aspect thereof which do not relate to the
gravamen of the crime charged are to be
expected in view of their differences in
impressions, memory, vantage points and other
related factors.[57]
Contrary to appellant Jaime, Jr.s claim, the
prosecution adduced proof that he and appellant
Ronald conspired to kill and did kill Diosdado by
their simultaneous acts of stabbing the victim.
The mere denial appellant Jaime, Jr. of the crime
charged is but a negative self-serving which
cannot prevail over the positive and

straightforward testimony of Luz and the physical


evidence on record.[60]
The Crime Committed by Appellants
The trial court correctly convicted the appellants
of murder, qualified by treachery, under Article
248 of the Revised Penal Code. The Court,
however, does not agree with the trial courts
finding that evident premeditation attended the
commission of the crime.
Case law has it that the prosecution has the
burden to prove beyond reasonable doubt
qualifying circumstances in the commission of the
crime. For evident premeditation to qualify a
crime, the prosecution must prove the confluence
of the essential requites thereof: (a) the time
when the offender has determined to commit the
crime; (b) an act manifestly indicating that the
offender has clung to his determination; (c) an
interval of time between the determination and
the execution of the crime enough to allow him to
reflect upon the consequences of his act.[61]
There must be proof beyond cavil when and how
the offender planned to kill the victim and that
sufficient time had elapsed between the time he
had decided to kill the victim and the actual killing
of the victim, and that in the interim, the offender
performed overt acts positively and conclusively
showing his determination to commit the said
crime.[62] In this case, the only evidence
adduced by the prosecution to prove evident
premeditation is the testimony of Levy Avila that
between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on July 8, 1996,
he heard the appellants planning to go to the
house of Diosdado and that he heard them say:
Ayaw namin kasing inaasar, and that at 8:00
p.m., the appellants arrived in the house of the
victim and stabbed him to death. There is no
evidence of any overt acts of the appellants when
they decided to kill Diosdado and how they would
consummate the crime. There is no evidence of
any overt acts perpetrated by the appellants
between 5:00 and 8:00 p.m. that they clung to
their determination to kill Diosdado.
There is treachery in the commission of a crime
when (a) at the time of attack, the victim was not
in a position to defend himself; (b) the offender
consciously and deliberately adopted the
particular means, methods and forms of attack
employed by him.[63] Even a frontal attack may
be treacherous when unexpected on an unarmed
victim who would not be in a position to repel the
attack or avoid it.[64] In this case, the victim was
unarmed and was supinely resting before
sleeping after a hard days work. Although Luz
warned the victim that the appellants were
already approaching their house, however, the
victim remained unperturbed when the appellants
barged into the victims house. They stabbed him

34

repeatedly with diverse deadly weapons. The


victim had nary a chance to defend himself and
avoid the fatal thrusts of the appellants.
The crime was committed in the house of the
victim. There was no provocation on the part of
the victim. Dwelling thus aggravated the crime.
However, dwelling was not alleged in the
information, as mandated by Section 8, Rule 110
of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure:
Sec. 8. Designation of the offense. - The
complaint or information shall state the
designation of the offense given by the statute,
aver the acts or omissions constituting the
offense, and specify its qualifying and
aggravating circumstances. If there is no
designation of the offense, reference shall be
made to the section or subsection of the statute
punishing it.
The use by appellant Ronald of an unlicensed
firearm to shoot Diosdado on the thigh is not an
aggravating circumstance because (1) there is no
allegation in the information that said appellant
had no license to possess the firearm. That
appellant lacked the license to possess the
firearm is an essential element of the crime and
must be alleged in the information.[65] Although
the crime was committed before the new rule
took effect on December 1, 2002, the rule should,
however, be applied retroactively as it is
favorable to the appellants.[66]
The appellants are not entitled to the mitigating
circumstance of voluntary surrender. The
evidence shows that the appellants were arrested
when the police officers manning the checkpoint
stopped the passenger jeepney driven by
appellant Ronald and arrested the appellants.
The fact that the appellants did not resist but
went peacefully with the peace officers does not
mean that they surrendered voluntarily.[67]
There being no mitigating and aggravating
circumstances in the commission of the crime,
the appellants should be meted the penalty of
reclusion perpetua conformably with Article 63 of
the Revised Penal Code.
The Civil Liabilities of the Appellants
The trial court awarded the total amount of
P177,421 as civil indemnity, actual and moral
damages in favor of the heirs of the victim
Diosdado. The Court has to modify the awards.
Appellants Ronald and Jaime, Jr. are obliged to
pay jointly and severally the amount of P50,000
as civil indemnity; P50,000 as moral damages;
P25,000 as exemplary damages in view of the
aggravating circumstance of dwelling;[68] and the

amount of P18,300 for funeral and religious


services. The heirs of the victim failed to adduce
in evidence any receipts or documentary
evidence to prove their claim for food and other
expenses during the wake. However, they are
entitled to temperate damages in the amount of
P5,000, conformably with the ruling of the Court
in People v. dela Tongga.[69] His wife Luzs
testimony that the victim had an annual income of
more than P65,000 is not sufficient as basis for
an award for unearned income for being selfserving. There was no proof of the average
expense of the victim and his family and his net
income. In People v. Ereo,[70] this Court held
that:
It bears stress that compensation for lost income
is in the nature of damages and as such requires
due proof of the damage suffered; there must be
unbiased proof of the deceaseds average
income. In the instant case, the victims mother,
Lita Honrubia, gave only a self-serving hence
unreliable statement of her deceased daughters
income. Moreover, the award for lost income
refers to the net income of the deceased, that is,
her total income less her average expenses. No
proof of the victims average expenses was
presented. Hence, there can be no reliable
estimate of the deceaseds lost income.
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the
Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Camarines
Sur, Branch 31 in Criminal Case No. P-2542 is
AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Appellants
Ronald Castillano alias Nono and Jaime
Castillano, Jr. alias Junjun are found guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of murder, qualified by
treachery, punishable by reclusion perpetua to
death, under Article 248 of the Revised Penal
Code. There being no modifying circumstances in
the commission of the crime, the appellants are
sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion
perpetua, conformably with Article 63 of the
Revised Penal Code. They are, likewise, ordered
to pay jointly and severally to the heirs of the
victim, Diosdado Volante, the amounts of
P50,000 as civil indemnity; P50,000 as moral
damages; P18,300 as actual damages; P25,000
as exemplary damages; and P5,000 as
temperate damages. Costs against the
appellants.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 97227 October 20, 1992


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiffappellee,
vs.
CECILIO BINONDO, accused-appellant.
CAMPOS, JR., J.:

35

On May 25, 1990, the Honorable Godardo A.


Jacinto, Presiding Judge of Branch 16, Regional
Trial Court, Cebu City rendered a decision in
Criminal Case No. CBU-9795, entitled" People of
the Philippines vs. Cecilio Binondo, Rosendo
Binondo, Valentina Binondo, Nicolasa Binondo,
Severino Binondo, and Damian Soriano". finding
Cecilio Binondo guilty of murder and acquitting
the rest of his co-accused as follows:
IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING
CONSIDERATIONS, the Court finds the accused
Cecilio Binondo guilty beyond reasonable doubt
of the crime of murder, for which he is hereby
sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion
perpetua, and to further indemnify the Heirs of
Domiciano Dinopol in the sum of P30,000.
On the ground of reasonable doubt, a verdict of
acquittal is hereby entered for the accused
Rosendo Binondo, Valentina Binondo, Nicolasa
Binondo, Damian Soriano, and Severino Dinopol,
and their bail bonds are therefore cancelled.
Costs against Cecilio Binondo.
SO ORDERED. 1
On appeal, the accused-appellant raised the
following errors:

On that same evening, accused-appellant


brought the head of the decapitated victim to the
police station at the municipal building. This was
received by Pat. Esmeraldo dela Pea who was
at the station during that time although his tour of
duty would yet start at 8:00 o'clock in the morning
of the following day. He asked preliminary
questions to the accused-appellant. When the
Station Commander arrived, the latter took over
the investigation. After a brief interview with the
accused-appellant, he sent Pat. Franklin Anion
and CHDF Boy Padilla to retrieve the body of the
victim from the house of the accused-appellant.
The Station Commander ordered Rosendo and
Valentina, companions of the accused-appellant
to bring the air rifle (escopita) and bolo used by
accused-appellant to the Municipal building.
Dr. Ferraren, Municipal Health Officer of
Ginatilan, Cebu, conducted the autopsy
examination and issued the Medical Certificate
which reads as follows:
This certificates that at about 1:45 o'clock p.m. of
February 24, 1986, a human head, severed from
its body, identified by Pfc. Rotillo Sieres of the
Simboan Police Force as that of Pat. Domiciano
Dinopol of same force, had been examined by
the undersigned at the Municipal building,
Simboan, Cebu, and findings were as follows:
a)

eyes half closed:

I
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DISREGARDING
THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT'S PLEA OF SELFDEFENSE AND FINDING HIM GUILTY BEYOND
REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE CRIME OF
MURDER.
II
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT
APPRECIATING THE MITIGATING
CIRCUMSTANCES IN FAVOR OF THE
ACCUSED APPELLANT.
The facts as may be gathered from the records of
the case are as follows:
At about 10:00 or 11:00 o'clock in the evening of
February 23, 1986, prosecution witnesses
Maximo Dinopol and his wife Pablita, who were
neighbors of the accused-appellant Cecilio, saw
accused-appellant with seven other persons
carrying a naked body of a dead person into his
(Cecilio) yard. The aforesaid witnesses alleged
having heard accused-appellant tell his
companions that they should have nothing to
worry about because he will take sole
responsibility for the death of the victim.

b)
wound incised, about 4 inches long,
lower jaw, with underlying bone cracked;
c)
wound, lacerated about 1/2 inch
parietal, left;
d)
wound, lacerated about 1/2 inch
parietal, right.
On the same day, at about 2:20 in the afternoon,
a beheaded human body had also been
examined at the residence of the parents of Pat.
Domiciano Dinopol in Samboan and the
significant findings are as follows:
a)
Wound, incised, 4 1/2" x 1" anterior,
thorax, right;
b)
wound, incised about 4" x 1" at the level
of the Xphoid, right;
c)
wound, incised about 4 1/2" x 1/2", left
lateral side of the body;
d)
left;

wound, incised about 4" x 1/2" deltoid,

e)
wound, incised about 4 inches
supraeliac, left;

36

f)
wound, incised about 6 inches,
abdomen, some intestines exposed and some
portions severed.
Sgd. TRIFANA M. FERRAREN, M. D.
March 6, 1986. 2
The accused-appellant Cecilio Binondo declared
that he killed Pat. Domiciano Dinopol in selfdefense and presented his version of what
transpired, as follows:
At about 8:00 o'clock in the evening of February
23, 1986, he, together with his wife, Valentina
Binondo, his son, Rosendo, and Brgy.
Councilman Severino Dinopol went to the house
of the spouses Bilanghilot to drink tuba thereat.
They left the house at about 11:00 o'clock in the
evening. When they were near the Barangay
Health Center of Basak, the victim, carrying a
gun with the left hand and a bolo in his right
hand, suddenly emerged from under the mango
tree and approached him in an angry mood at the
same time brandishing his bolo as if in an act of
charging him, saying: "Why are you looking for
me? What is your purpose? 3 Valentina
interceded and tried to pacify Domiciano. To
avoid getting into trouble with the enraged victim,
he opted to walk away from him and proceeded
home with his son Rosendo. Severino also went
home ahead of Valentina.
About five minutes after he and Rosendo arrived
at their house, Valentina came gasping for breath
telling him to close all windows and doors
because Domiciano was following her and he
said he would kill Cecilio and Rosendo. Right
away he secured the front door, shut off all the
lights and got his air gun and bolo to defend
himself and his companions should Domiciano
carry out his threat. He also asked Rosendo to go
upstairs to take care of his (Rosendo) wife and
children on the second storey.
Pat. Domiciano Dinopol finally arrived and he
tried to force open the main door but failed. He
asked Cecilio to come out: shouting "Cilio, come
out I will break your head. 4 Domiciano went
towards the kitchen door, awaiting the attack by
Domiciano.
Domiciano forced open the kitchen door. When
he was about to enter with his head protruding
inside the kitchen, Cecilio aimed his rifle at the
head of Domiciano. From a distance of about one
and one half (1-1/2) feet, he fired the rifle. When
this happened, Domiciano was still holding his
firearm and his bolo.
After a single shot from the air gun, Domiciano
turned his head towards him and aimed his gun

at him. Before Domiciano could fire his gun,


Cecilio attacked him with his bolo, his purpose to
let the latter loosen his hold on his weapons. This
was followed by five or six more strokes on the
neck and body to be sure that Domiciano would
drop his weapons. Domiciano finally dropped his
weapons and fell to the floor. Except on the skin
of the nape, the head was almost severed from
the body. Knowing of Domiciano having an
amulet which could revive him if his body is
doused with water, he finally decided to cut off his
head completely. Immediately thereafter, he
carried the victim's body to the municipal building
and surrendered to the police authorities.
The trial court refused to give credit to his plea of
self-defense and convicted him of murder on the
basis of his admission of killing Domiciano
Dinopol.
We find this appeal to be without merit and find
the defendant's plea of self-defense as
completely incredible.
Well entrenched in this jurisdiction is the doctrine
that when the accused admits having killed the
victim, but invokes self-defense, the burden of
proving the elements of that defense by clear and
convincing evidence lies with the accused. To do
that, he must rely on the strength of his evidence
and not on the weakness of the prosecution were
weak, it may not be disbelieved after the accused
admitted responsibility for the killing. 5
Whether or not appellant acted in self-defense is
essentially a question of fact. Being so and in the
abscence of any showing that the court a quo
failed to appreciate facts and circumstances of
weight and substance that would have altered its
conclusion, the court below, having seen and
heard the witness during the trial, was in a better
position to evaluate their testimonies. No
compelling reason, therefore, existed for this
court to disturb the trial's court findings that
appellant did not act in self-defense. 6
The accused-appellant did not present clear and
convincing evidence for the court to sustain the
claim of self-defense. The trial court refused to
give credence to accused-appellant's story that
the deceased went to his house purposely to kill
him. There were no findings that the victim was
guilty of unlawful aggression or unjust
provocation.
Even assuming that his story were true, the oral
threat made by Domiciano to kill him
unaccompanied by any other unequivocal act
clearly showing his intent to carry out his threat
does not constitute unlawful aggression. Mere
shouting threats and poundings on the door of
the accused-appellant's house were not held by

37

this Court to constitute unlawful aggression. 7


Furthermore, as the accused-appellant himself
testified that he extinguished all sources of light
inside the house, there could not have possibly
been any form of attack which may be said to be
immediate and imminent from the victim upon the
person of the accused-appellant. Putting out the
lights inside the house threw the house in total
darkness that the victim could not be in a position
to locate him physically.
Not only was there an abscence of unlawful
aggression in the case at bar, but the claim of
self-defense is likewise negated by the physical
evidence. The accused-appellant suffered no
harm or injury physically. The number and nature
of the wounds inflicted on the victim proved that if
at all, the attack came from the accusedappellant. The victim had no chance to defend
himself even if armed. The medico-legal
certificate issued by the municipal health officer
attests to a total of severe wounds all of which
were located on the vital parts of the body. The
means employed becomes unreasonable and
unnecessary when after the aggression head
ceased and the victim no longer posed any threat
of further attack, the accused-appellant continued
inflicting injuries on the victim who fell to the
ground helpless. From his testimony it was
evident that when he delivered the blows with his
bolo, he was aiming at his victim's body and not
simply on the victim's had hand which he claimed
was aiming the gun at him. 8 It was also clear
that he was aware that his blows were hitting the
victim; 9 that his victim was profusely bleeding;
10 and that even before his victim fell to his
kitchen floor, the victim's weapons had already
dropped and he was
defenseless. 11 What absolutely negated the
existence of a "reasonable necessity of the
means employed in repelling the attack" was the
fact that the appellant decapitated the victim. The
claim that the victim possessed an amulet which
could revive him did not justify that last and final
act of cutting off the victim's head. A dead man
could not have possibly posed any further
resistance or launch an attack, be it imminent or
remote.
Having found the absence of self-defense, what
is incumbent upon us is to determine whether or
not there was any attending circumstance which
will qualify the killing to murder.
We hold that the crime committed was murder.
The presence of the qualifying circumstance of
treachery was evidence from the testimony of the
accused-appellant himself. According to him, his
wife arrived ahead of the victim of he was
apprised of the fact that the victim was on his
way to their house and was threatening to kill him

and his son. He had enough time to prepare


himself, his weapons and surroundings in a way
that he would have the advantage of position and
could deliver the first blow without risk to himself
from his unwary victim. This he accomplished by
putting off all the lights inside the house and by
positioning himself near the kitchen door where
he could not be seen at once. The accusedappellant employed means, methods or forms in
the execution of the offense which tend directly
and specially to insure its execution, without risk
to himself arising from the defense which the
offended party might make. These facts
established by evidence on record clearly
constitute treachery, which raised the crime to
murder.
Furthermore, when the killing was done with
cruelty, by deliberately or inhumanly augmenting
the suffering of the victim or outraging or scoffing
at his person or corpse, 12 it was likewise
qualified to murder. (Emphasis supplied). No
greater outrage, insult or abuse can a person
commit upon a corpse than to server the head
therefrom. The head represents the dignity of the
person and any violence directed towards it
cannot be interpreted in any other manner than
an outrage to his corpse.
As regards the mitigating circumstances claimed
by the accused-appellant, We hold that the trial
court erred in not appreciating voluntary
surrender in favor of the accused. This may be
off-set by the aggravating circumstances of
treachery under Article 14 of the Revised Penal
Code. The accused-appellant could, not however,
claim incomplete self-defense as there was no
unlawful aggression on the part of the victim.
However, the killing was accompanied by the
qualifying circumstance of outraging at the
corpse of the victim, thus constituting the crime
into murder. Treachery may be considered as a
mere aggravating circumstance which may be set
off by the mitigating circumstance of voluntary
surrender.
For reasons indicated, and in the light of the
applicable law and jurisprudence on the matter,
We hold that the evidence was sufficient to
sustain the verdict finding the defendant guilty of
the crime of murder as charged. The judgment of
conviction is affirmed subject to the modification
that the defendant is ordered to indemnify the
heirs of the victim the amount of P50,000.00, with
costs against the accused-appellant.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 140278
June 3, 2004
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee,

38

vs.
SONNY BAUTISTA y LACANILAO, appellant.
DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:
In rape, the "sweetheart" defense must be proven
by compelling evidence: first, that the accused
and the victim were lovers; and, second, that she
consented to the alleged sexual relations. The
second is as important as the first, because this
Court has held often enough that love is not a
license for lust.
The Case
Sonny Bautista y Lacanilao appeals the
September 13, 1999 Decision1 of the Regional
Trial Court (RTC) of Manila (Branch 26) in
Criminal Case No. 96-148248, finding him guilty
of rape. The dispositive part of the Decision
reads as follows:
"WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, this
Court finds accused SONNY BAUTISTA y
LACANILAO GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt
[of] the crime of Rape under Article 335 of the
Revised [P]enal Code of the Philippines, as
charged in the information. He is hereby
sentenced to suffer the penalty of Reclusion
Perpetua with all the accessory penalties
provided by law; to indemnify the private
complainant Mischel Amparo the sum of Fifty
Thousand (P50,000.00) Pesos by way of moral
damages; and to pay the costs of this suit."2
The Information3 dated March 14, 1996, charged
appellant in these words:
"That on or about March 8, 1996, in the City of
Manila, Philippines, the said accused, with lewd
designs, did then and there willfully, unlawfully
and feloniously by means of force, violence and
intimidation, to wit: by then and there forcibly
carrying her and lying her in bed, placing himself
on top of her and kissing and embracing her
tightly, and when said complainant is resisting
and pushing him away from her, said accused
punched her thighs, remov[ed] her clothes and
panty and succeeded in having carnal knowledge
of her against her will and consent."4
Upon his arraignment on April 16, 1996,5
appellant, assisted by his counsel de oficio,6
pleaded not guilty. After trial in due course, the
court a quo rendered the assailed Decision.
The Facts

In its Brief, the Office of the Solicitor General


(OSG) presents the prosecutions version of the
facts in the following manner:
"On March 8, 1996, appellant Sonny Bautista
went to the house of Mischel Amparo at Bagong
Silang, Quezon City. Mischel, who was fifteen
[15] years old and in her third year in high school,
knew appellant very well. He is the godchild by
marriage of her parents and had previously
rented a room in their house for a year.
Appellants wife Analisa Sagot and Mischels
mother, Crispina Amparo, were the best of friends
and both worked as janitresses at Paz Manpower
Agency. Thus, Crispina had readily agreed to
Analisas request for the newly-wed couple to
stay at their house.
"The bond between the two (2) women had
drawn appellant and the Amparo family closer.
Appellant, who worked as a taxi driver, was like a
son to them. Mischel and her siblings addressed
him as Kuya Sonny.
"Appellant pleaded [with] Mischel to skip her
classes and to go with him and his wife to a
supposed field trip in Cavite. Having complete
trust [i]n him as a family friend and remembering
the couples acts of kindness such as giving food
to her family, Mischel agreed to go with him
although she still had a class at 12:00 noon.
"Appellant told Mischel that they would fetch his
wife in Sta. Mesa before going to Cavite. They
boarded a bus going to Cubao. From Cubao,
they took a jeep bound for Sta. Mesa. When they
arrived in Sta. Mesa, Mischel asked appellant
regarding her Ate Ana. Appellant replied that
since she had yet to arrive with her coemployees, they should just pass time at the SM
Centerpoint. When they arrived at the mall at
2:00 p.m., appellant invited her to see a movie.
Without thinking that he just might be deceiving
her, Mischel went along.
"While watching the film, appellant muttered to
Mischel that his wife was domineering. She
would get quarrelsome over small matters and
would be very angry if he could not give her
seven hundred pesos (P700.00) a week. He
likewise told her that his sister had been
behaving strangely. She once took a bath while
exposed to appellant and had once taken off her
clothes in front of him. Appellant then remarked
that Mischel should do the same. Mischel
advised him to understand his wife and then
inquired if they could go to Ate Ana. He replied
that his wife would arrive at 4:30 p.m.

Version of the Prosecution


"Before the film was finished, appellant and
Mischel went out of the mall. She asked him
again if they could go to her Ate Ana. Appellant

39

answered that they were going to fetch her. He


hailed a taxi and invited her to board it. Thinking
that they were indeed going to meet appellants
wife, Mischel boarded the taxi although she had
no specific idea where they were heading.
"When the taxi had reached Town and Country
Motel, appellant told the young girl that they were
going to wait for her Ate Ana in a room in the
motel. She had no idea that the place they were
in was a motel.
"Inside the room, appellant told Mischel that he
had to take a bath since Cavite was quite far.
Mischel believed him. However, she was
surprised when appellant told her that she should
take a bath as well. She refused. Whereupon,
appellant threatened to leave her. He then urged
Mischel to take a bath since there was no water
in the place they were going.
"A male attendant went to the room and handed
two (2) shampoo sachets to appellant. He took a
bath. Not knowing what to do, Mischel meanwhile
sat on a chair.
"Appellant went out of the bathroom and again
told Mischel to take a bath. Again, she refused.
This enraged appellant. His display of wrath
unnerved Mischel. He held her hand and pushed
her inside the bathroom, forcing her into taking a
short bath.
"A few minutes later, she emerged from the
bathroom. Appellant suddenly carried her to the
bed and poured kisses on her neck. He removed
the towel covering his waist, leaving him
completely naked.
"Mischel resisted appellant fiercely. She slapped
him on the face four (4) times. But appellant, who
is bigger and taller, returned each slap with fist
blows on the young girls left thigh. She felt her
strength drain away.
"Although she tried to push appellant away and
free herself, appellant nevertheless proceeded to
undress Mischel methodically. First, he took off
her T-shirt and her skirt. Next, he stripped of[f]
her bra and then finally removed her panty.

with her remaining strength so that appellant


failed to penetrate her sexually.
"Appellant decided to change Mischels position.
By kicking the young girl, he let her know that he
wanted her to assume a prone position
(pinatuwad) in the bed. In that position,
appellant parted Mischels legs and then plunged
his penis into her vagina. This time, the
penetration was successful. The pain felt by
Mischel weakened her further. Fear gripped her
as her genitals bled.
"After abusing Mischel in such position for fifteen
minutes, appellant stood up and took a piece of
cloth. He tied up her hands and legs. Mischel sat
on the bed. Appellant then told her that he would
kill her and her family. In sheer terror, Mischel
pleaded to him, huwag mo akong papatayin,
hindi ako magsusumbong kahit kanino.
"Appellant untied Mischel. He told her that they
were going home. Appellant left the room and
paid the bill. Mischel put back her clothes and
went out of the room after thirty (30) minutes.
She saw appellant waiting at the gate of the
motel. They boarded a jeep going to Cubao.
Upon arrival, appellant left her. She went home.
"When Mischel arrived at their home around
11:30 p.m., Crispina noticed her tears. She asked
her what happened. Unable to contain herself,
she blurted out that she was raped by appellant.
Crispina cried and looked at the panty of her
daughter. She saw blood. Mother and daughter
went to the barangay hall for assistance. With the
help of the Quezon City Police, appellant was
apprehended in his house in Sta. Ana on the
same night.
"Mischel was examined by Dr. Maximo Reyes, a
medical-legal officer of the NBI, on March 9,
1996. He found a kiss mark on the neck of the
victim and contusions on her left thigh. He opined
that the bruises could be caused by a bare hand
which forcefully hit the victim. He also concluded
that the laceration on the hymen of Mischel was
caused by a fully-erect penis. The medical report
he issued reads:
March 11, 1996

"The young girl was now lying naked with her


back on the bed. Appellant, equally bare, knelt on
the bed. He forced Mischel to part her legs.
Appellant went away quickly to wet his fingers.
When he returned, he drove his wet finger into
Mischels vagina. She felt pain.
"After a while, appellant mounted Mischel. He
spread her legs open and tried to insert his penis
into her vagina. Mischel continued to struggle

PRELIMINARY REPORT
To Whom It May Concern:
This is to certify that Dr. Maximo L. Reyes, NBI
Medico-Legal Officer, conducted a medico-genital
examination on Mischel Amparo y Amparado, 15
yrs. old, single, of Gen. De Dios Ext., Purok 4
Bgy. Bagong Silang, Q.C. on March 9, 1996 with
the hereunder findings:

40

1. Extragenital physical injuries present


2. Healing complete hymenal laceration,
present."7
Version of the Defense
Appellant does not deny that he had sexual
intercourse with the victim who, he claims, had
consented to it; hence, no rape was committed.
His version of the incident is as follows:
"x x x [T]he accused fetched the victim from her
house on March 8, 1996 at around 11:00 or 12:00
[noon] in order to watch a movie. The victims
parent[s] disapproved but [she still] went with
him. They went to the SM Centerpoint in Sta.
Mesa, Manila and they arrived thereat at around
2:00 p.m. Inside the movie house, the accused
placed his arm around the shoulder of the victim,
and he kissed her twice on the lips and cheeks.
She got mad, since she was concentrating in
watching the movie and he was disturbing her.
The accused kept quiet and also focused his
attention on the movie. They left the movie house
at around 4:00 or 4:30 P.M. They boarded a taxi
and proceeded to Anito Lounge, but they were
not admitted since the victim looked very young,
hence, they proceeded to Town and Country
located at V. Mapa. Upon arriving thereat, they
paid the fare and the accused called the room
boy. [T]he accused went up first and the victim
followed. They entered Room No. 48. The
ac[c]used took a bath while the victim watched
T.V. After taking a bath, he asked the victim, if
she wanted to take a bath and the latter replied
yes. Since there was no shampoo, he requested
for one and the roomboy gave him the shampoo
which he in turn gave to the victim. The victim
took a bath. Afterwards, she went out of the
bathroom wearing only a T-shirt and towel
wrapped around her waist. She sat beside the
accused. The accused started kissing the victim
and the latter did not get angry. He removed her
T-shirt and started kissing her breast, and she did
not get angry. He continued kissing her on the
lips and she felt tickled. He removed her panty
and she did not object, but said that the mother
might know about it and get angry, but he told her
that if she really love[d] him, they alone [would]
be responsible. He placed himself on top of her
and she felt pain after which he removed himself
from her. The victim told him that her mother
might learn about it and the latter might kill her.
He in turn replied that she should not worry, since
he will take the responsibility. The victim
embraced him and he kissed her on the
forehead. They dressed up and the accused paid
at the counter. They walked towards the corner of
Sta. Mesa and boarded a jeepney going to

Cubao. Upon reaching the said place, he gave


the victim P50.00 for her transportation and his
telephone number. He even accompanied her in
boarding a bus bound for Fairview. The accused
went home to Sta. Ana where he ate and slept. At
around 3:00 A.M., someone knocked at the door.
There were policemen who pointed a .45 caliber
gun at him and handcuffed him. He was taken to
police precinct No. 6 in Quezon City. His wife
visited him and informed him that the victims
parents came to know about it and mauled the
victim to admit where she came from and who
her companion [was]. The accused denied that
he forced the victim as she actually agreed."8
Ruling of the Trial Court
The trial court ruled that appellant had employed
deception as well as force and intimidation upon
the victim, in order to consummate his libidinous
desire. It was convinced that appellant -- on the
pretext that he had been sent by his wife to fetch
the victim for an excursion -- inveigled the girl to
a motel, where he forced himself upon her. The
lower court was impressed by the
straightforward, positive and convincing
testimony of the victim.
The court a quo likewise ruled that her credibility
was enhanced by 1) the fact that she had
immediately reported the incident to her mother;
2) there was no showing of any motive on the
part of the girl to testify falsely against the
accused; and 3) the medicolegal report indicated
contusions on her body and the laceration of her
hymen.
On the other hand, it discarded the sweetheart
defense of appellant for its intrinsic weakness
and lack of corroboration.
Hence, this appeal.9
Issues
In his Brief, appellant raises the following issues
for our consideration:
"I.
The court a quo gravely erred in finding the
accused-appellant guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of rape.
"II.
The court a quo gravely erred in not giving weight
and credence to the evidence for the defense."10
The issues boil down to whether the prosecution
evidence was sufficient to convict appellant of

41

rape, and whether his so-called sweetheart


defense was credible.

circumstances of weight and influence13 that


these matters are re-opened for independent
examination and review by appellate courts.

The Courts Ruling


The appeal has no merit.
First Issue:
Sufficiency of Evidence
Appellant faults the trial court for relying heavily
on the testimony of the victim that she was
deceived and later forced to have sexual
intercourse with him. He maintains that, on the
contrary, her testimony revealed that she had
been forewarned of danger; and that she had
reasonable time and opportunity to escape if she
had wanted to.
In particular, he argues that it is highly
inconceivable for the victim -- a 15-year-old, thirdyear high school student -- not to have sensed
danger. She herself testified that 1) in the movie
house, he had suggested that she should take
her clothes off in front of him, as his sister had
done; and 2) the taxi took them to a motel instead
of Cavite, where they were supposed to meet his
wife.
Moreover, he pointed out that the victim had
several opportunities to ask for help or to escape,
but she chose not to do so. In the motel, she did
not ask for help either from the attendant who
had met and accompanied them up to their room,
or from the other one who had given them two
shampoo sachets. Appellant added that she also
had the chance to flee while he was taking a
bath, but she just sat on a chair. And, supposedly,
during the thirty long minutes he was at the
counter paying their bill, she failed to call for help
or to break away from him.
He further contends that her testimony was
marred by serious inconsistencies that weakened
her credibility. Notably, he said that she gave
conflicting accounts as to when he had tied her
hands and feet. He likewise alleges that she lied
when she first told the court that she was not able
to talk to the room attendant, who had
immediately gone down after fixing the room. It
was supposedly clear from her testimony that the
attendant had accompanied them to their room to
provide water.
The factual matters now raised by appellant have
been passed upon by the RTC. As a rule, its
findings deserve weight and respect.11 The same
is true as regards the evaluation of the credibility
of witnesses, because it is the trial judge who
hears them and observes their demeanor while
testifying.12 It is only when the trial court has
overlooked or misapprehended some facts or

We have meticulously scrutinized the records of


this case, while following these basic principles in
reviewing rape cases: (1) although an accusation
of rape can easily be made, it is difficult to prove;
and it is even more difficult for the person
accused -- though innocent -- to disprove; (2)
since only two persons are usually involved, the
testimony of the complainant should be
scrutinized with great caution; and (3) the
prosecutions evidence must stand or fall on its
own merit and should not be allowed to draw
strength from the weakness of the evidence for
the defense.14 In the present case, nothing in the
records indicates that the prosecution evidence
was wanting; or that the victim had any ill motive
to fabricate a false accusation; or that the trial
judge mistakenly believed her testimony.
Like the trial court, we believe her narration of the
incident that appellant had carnal knowledge of
her by force and without her consent. Her
account of the harrowing experience was replete
with explicit and sordid details that could not have
been conjured by the imagination of an
inexperienced 15-year-old girl.
To appellant, it seems strange that the victim did
not sense danger when he suggested early on
inside the movie house that she undress before
him, and when he thereafter took her to a motel.
Capitalizing on her supposedly unusual reaction
and behavior, he insists that what took place was
consensual -- though illicit -- sexual intercourse
between lovers.
We are not persuaded. It must be remembered
that at the time of the incident -- when appellant
and his wife were renting a room in the house of
the family of the victim17 -- the girl considered
him as a close family friend, a kinakapatid,18 and
a virtual family member who gave them food.19
Finding no reason to disbelieve him, the victim
went with him to meet his wife for the purported
field trip, only to realize too late what his real
intentions were. Such naivete is not unheard of,
especially in this case in which the girl knew and
trusted him.
Moreover, it must be stressed that the human
mind works unpredictably, and no standard form
of behavior can be expected of people under
stressful situations.20 According to the victim,
she just sat on a chair while appellant was taking
a bath, because she did not suspect foul play
until then. Besides, she testified that he had
closely monitored her while he was taking a bath
and even after he had paid the bill for the motel
room.

42

The gravamen of the crime of rape is carnal


knowledge of a woman against her will or without
her consent.23 Both carnal knowledge and force,
indicating absence of consent, were adequately
established in the present case. The fact that
appellant boxed the victim on her thighs when
she resisted and struggled against him
sufficiently indicated force. The force required in
rape cases need not be overpowering or
irresistible. Failure to offer tenacious resistance
does not make the submission by the
complainant to the criminal acts of the accused
voluntary.24 What is necessary is that the force
employed against her be sufficient to
consummate the purpose which he has in
mind.25
In the present case, the medical findings
corroborated the declarations of the victim that
appellant had boxed her thighs a number of times
when she resisted his advances. Aside from the
contusions found on her left thigh, Dr. Maximo
Reyes26 likewise reported a complete hymenal
laceration, a physical evidence of forcible
defloration.
The attempt of appellant to malign the testimony
of the victim for alleged inconsistencies on some
points must also fail for being minor. They serve
to strengthen rather than weaken the
prosecutions cause, as they signify that she was
neither coached nor prevaricating on the witness
stand.30 Whether she had time to talk with the
room attendant and whether she was bound by
appellant before or after sexually abusing her are
minor details that do not detract from her
testimony that she was raped.
It would be unfair to expect a flawless recollection
from one who is forced to relive the gruesome
details of a painful and humiliating experience
such as rape.31 No woman in her right mind
would openly acknowledge the violation of her
person and allow the examination of her private
parts if she has not been raped. The Court has
ruled that when the testimony of a rape victim
meets the test of credibility, she is deemed to
have said all that it necessary to show that she
has been violated.32

Second Issue:
"Sweetheart" Defense
Contending that he and the victim were lovers,
appellant claims that what transpired was
consensual, though illicit, sexual intercourse.
His sweetheart defense must be rejected for lack
of corroboration. As an affirmative defense, it
must be established with convincing evidence35
-- by some documentary and/or other evidence
like mementos, love letters, notes, pictures and
the like.36 In this case, the only thing he
proffered to prove that he and the victim were
lovers was his self-serving statement, which she
and her mother categorically denied.37
Besides, even if he and the victim were really
sweethearts, such a fact would not necessarily
establish consent.38 It has been consistently
ruled that "a love affair does not justify rape, for
the beloved cannot be sexually violated against
her will."39 The fact that a woman voluntarily
goes out on a date with her lover does not give
him unbridled license to have sex with her
against her will. This truism was reiterated in
People v. Dreu, from which we quote:
"A sweetheart cannot be forced to have sex
against her will. Definitely, a man cannot demand
sexual gratification from a fiancee and, worse,
employ violence upon her on the pretext of love.
Love is not a license for lust."40
Also noteworthy is the fact that it was the wife of
appellant who (1) accompanied the victim and
her mother to police authorities to report the
incident and (2) informed them of his
whereabouts.41 Such reaction was obviously
inconsistent with that of a wife whose trust was
betrayed by her husband -- as the situation would
have been, if he and the victim were indeed
lovers.

Further, we find in this case that no ill motive to


testify falsely against the accused has been
attributed to the rape victim.33 Thus, it is much
more likely that she came out in the open for no
other reason than to obtain justice.

For the foregoing reasons, the conviction of


appellant is inevitable. But in addition to moral
damages, civil indemnity must also be awarded
to the rape victim, in conformity with prevailing
jurisprudence. This indemnity -- which is
automatically given upon proof of the commission
of the crime and the offenders responsibility for
it42 -- is presently fixed at P50,000 when the
penalty of reclusion perpetua is imposed, as in
this case.

Finally, the fact that she promptly reported her


ravishment to her parents and the authorities
supports the finding that she had indeed been
defiled by appellant. Such conduct further
bolstered her credibility.34

WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED. The


Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Manila
(Branch 26) in Criminal Case No. 96-148248 is
AFFIRMED, with the modification that appellant
is hereby ordered to pay the victim P50,000 as

43

civil indemnity, in addition to the P50,000 in moral


damages granted by the trial court. Costs against
appellant.
SO ORDERED.
[G.R. No. 127489. July 11, 2003]
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee,
vs. ALFREDO GALLEGO, SAMUEL DELLONA,
LEOBERT GAJETO, ERWIN VILLAROS,
ROBERTO APINAN, TINGTING GAJETO,
ERNESTO AROLLADO, JOHN DOE @ JUN
and RICHARD DOE @ DIMAS, accused.
ALFREDO GALLEGO, SAMUEL DELLONA,
LEOBERT GAJETO and ERWIN VILLAROS,
appellants.
DECISION
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
Certified to this Court for review by the Court of
Appeals, pursuant to Section 13, Rule 124 of the
Rules of Court, is the Decision[1] of the Regional
Trial Court of Masbate, Branch 48, finding the
appellants guilty of homicide. In its Decision[2] in
CA-G.R. CR. No. 16723, the CA ruled that the
appellants are guilty of murder as charged, and
sentenced each of them to suffer the penalty of
reclusion perpetua.
On March 12, 1993, appellants Alfredo Gallego,
Samuel Dellona, Leobert Gajeto and Erwin
Villaros, together with Roberto Apinan, Tingting
Gajeto, Ernesto Arollado, a certain John Doe
alyas Jun, and another Richard Doe alyas Dimas,
were charged with murder before the Regional
Trial Court of Masbate, in an Information[3] which
reads:
That on December 2, 1992, in the evening
thereof while on board the fishing boat F/B EVER
IV and anchored at Panguiranan River, Balud,
Masbate, Philippines, within the preliminary
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the abovenamed accused, taking advantage of nighttime,
with intent to kill, evident premeditation, treachery
and abuse of superior strength, did then and
there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously
conspiring and helping one another and armed
with pieces of wood and knives, struck and
stabbed one Alexander Adrias with pieces of
wood and deadly weapons, hitting the latter and
thereby inflicting fatal wounds that caused his
instantaneous death.
CONTRARY TO LAW.[4]
On their arraignment on April 28, 1993, the four
appellants pleaded not guilty to the charge.[5]
The other accused remained at large. Thereafter,
trial ensued.

The Evidence of the Prosecution[6]


On December 2, 1992, at about 5:00 p.m., the
fishing boat F/B Ever IV dropped anchor at the
Panguiranan River, Panguiranan, Balud,
Masbate. On board were Ernesto Arollado, the
captain and radio operator; Roberto Apinan, the
second captain; and the members of the crew,
including herein appellants. Alexander Adrias
boarded the vessel to buy fish from the crew
members, but was told that the fish cold storage
would be opened later at 9:00 p.m. Thereafter,
Alexander invited all the nine crew members to
his house at Barangay Salvacion, Balud,
Masbate, just across the Panguiranan River, for a
drinking spree. The crew members agreed. The
group went ashore on board Alexanders banca.
Alexander had also earlier invited Elpidio Suarez
to go back to the fishing boat with him later that
night to buy fish. Elpidio agreed. At 8:00 p.m.,
Alexander and his visitors had consumed eight
bottles of Tanduay Rhum ESQ. The group went
back to the fishing boat on board Alexanders
banca. Elpidio followed them in his own banca.
When Elpidio was by the outrigger on his way to
the deck of the boat, he was shocked when he
saw Alexander on the deck, about three arms
length away, being stabbed by the accused and
the appellants. The boat was lit by trouble lights
located at its rear and center. Leobert stabbed
the victim at the back; Samuel on the right jaw;
Erwin on the body; Alfredo on the chest; and
Roberto on the body below the right breast.
Tingting and Ernesto each hit the victim with a
piece of wood at the back of the head. Elpidio
could not recall how many times the victim was
stabbed. Shocked by what he saw, Elpidio
forthwith paddled back to shore and rushed to the
house of Tomas Codera, the victims stepfather to
inform the latter of the gruesome incident.
At about 9:15 p.m., the F/B Sweetie Pie dropped
anchor at Barangay Salvacion across the
Panguiranan River. Tomas, the boat captain, saw
the F/B Ever IV, at a distance of about fifteen
meters from his boat, lift anchor on its way out of
the river going towards the direction of Barangay
Calumpang. He saw Alexanders banca being
untied from the F/B Ever IV. Tomas retrieved the
banca and brought it to shore. When Tomas
arrived home, he inquired from his wife where
Alexander was. He was told that Alexander had
gone to the F/B Ever IV on board his banca with
the crew, and that the group had a drinking spree
earlier in the afternoon. Shortly thereafter, Elpidio
arrived and informed Tomas that Alexander had
been stabbed on the deck of the F/B Ever IV.
Elpidio, however, did not reveal the identity of the
assailants. Tomas forthwith returned to the F/B
Sweetie Pie and cruised along the river looking
for the F/B Ever IV, but failed to locate it. The
next day, at 7:00 a.m., Tomas informed Rosita of

44

her husbands death. Tomas, via cb radio, heard


that the cadaver of Alexander had already been
turned over to the police authorities at Barangay
Calumpang, Balud. Tomas rushed to the police
station in the said barangay and was able to
recover Alexanders body from the police
authorities and brought it back to Barangay
Salvacion.
Dr. Oscar B. Acuesta, Medical Officer V of the
Balud Municipal Hospital, performed an autopsy
on the body of the victim and submitted a report
on his findings, thus:
PHYSICAL FINDINGS :
1. Cadaver was embalmed
2.Stabbed [sic] [w]ound at the level of fourth
intercostal space
Right chest penetrating the chest cavity hitting
the Right Lung, wound two inches in length
3.Stabbed Wound three inches in length at the
level of fifth intercostal space Right chest
penetrating the Right lung
4.Stabbed Wound multiple (4 points) at the level
of Right scapular area penetrating the chest
cavity hitting the Right Lung.

Contused abrasions, 1.0 x 2.0 cm. right side of


face; 1.0 x 2.0 cm. upper outer quadrant, left
chest; 1.0 x 6.0 cm. posterior aspect, upper third,
right forearm; 1.0 x 6.0 cm. left arm.
Hematoma, interstitial, scalp from both parietal
area extending into the vertex.
Lacerated wound, 2.0 cm. left temporal area.
STAB WOUNDS :
1. Elliptical, gaping, 3.5 cm. with clean cut edges
and with one extremity sharp, other is contused,
located over the right side of chest, 3.0 cm. from
anterior median line, level of 3rd intercostal
space, directed backward, laterally and
downward, entering the chest, severing the upper
lobe of right lung with an approximate depth of
10.5 cm.
2. Elliptical, gaping, 4.0 cm. with clean cut edges
and one extremity sharp, other is contused,
located over the sternal area along midline, level
of 2nd costal cartilage, directed backward,
downward and to the left, entering the chest
severing the descending aorta with an
approximate depth of 11.0 cm.

7.Lacerated Wound .5 inch in length at the left


temporal area

3. Four (4) in number, all with clean cut edges


and with one extremity sharp, other is contused,
with sizes of biggest is 2.0 cm. and smallest of
1.0 cm. all located over the interscapular area of
right side, covering an area of 7.0 x 10.0 cm. all
directed forward, downward and medially, only
the upper two entered the posterior chest wall,
severing the middle and upper lobe of right lung,
the lower two is non-penetrating.

CAUSE OF DEATH :

All other internal organs are pale.

HEMORRHAGE, SEVERE SECONDARY TO


MULTIPLE STABBED WOUND [7]

Stomach, filled with undigested food materials.

5.Stabbed Wound about 4 inches in length at the


upper arm
6.Stabbed Wound about 2 inches in length at the
upper arm

...
On December 7, 1992, another autopsy was
conducted at the Veronica Memorial Chapel by
Dr. Maximo L. Reyes, Medico-Legal Officer of the
National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), who
submitted a more detailed description of the
injuries inflicted on the victim as incorporated in
his Medico-Legal Report No. N-92-3370, to wit :
POSTMORTEM FINDINGS
Body, previously embalmed.
Hemothorax, 1,000 cc. right; 1,200 left, consisting
of fluid and clotted blood.
Hemorrhage, meningeal: subdural and
subarachnoidal, extensive.

CAUSE OF DEATH: - STAB WOUNDS OF


BODY; INTRACRANIAL HEMORRHAGE,
TRAUMATIC, CONTRIBUTORY. [8]
In the meantime, Alfredo surrendered to the
police officers and admitted stabbing the victim.
He claimed, however, that he did so in selfdefense. He was forthwith detained. SPO1
Samuel S. Capasilan and PO3 Elmerando V.
Santiago, Jr. prepared and signed a Police
Report dated December 3, 1992 stating that
Alfredo was the suspect in the killing of the
victim. In the meantime, Samuel, Leobert, and
Erwin were also detained in the municipal jail. On
December 5, 1992, Elpidio arrived in the police
station and was brought to the detention cell

45

where he saw Leobert, Alfredo, Samuel and


Erwin. He identified the four as Alexanders
assailants. He then gave a sworn statement to
SPO3 Vicente Aragona of the Balud Police
Station alleging inter alia that Alfredo, Samuel,
Leobert and Erwin stabbed the victim.[9] On
December 6, 1992, a criminal complaint was filed
with the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Balud,
Masbate charging Alfredo, Samuel, Leobert and
Erwin with murder for the killing of Alexander.
Elpidio testified during the preliminary
investigation.

informed them that he had just killed Alexander.


They saw Alexander prostrate on the deck, and
immediately started the engine, pulled anchor
and left Panguiranan River. Alfredo suggested
that they leave for Barangay Calumpang. At
about 11:15 p.m., the boat arrived at Barangay
Calumpang, Balud, Masbate, where Alfredo
surrendered to police officers SPO1 Samuel S.
Capasilan and PO3 Elmerando V. Santiago. Jr. of
the PNP Detachment. He admitted to the police
officers that he killed Alexander and surrendered
the knife he used in stabbing the victim.

On January 27, 1993, Elpidio Suarez executed a


supplemental affidavit alleging inter alia that the
other persons who ganged up on and helped in
killing the victim were Ernesto Arollado, Roberto
Apinan, Tingting Gajeto, a certain Dimas and one
named Jun whose surname he did not know.[10]

On December 4, 1992, appellants Dellona,


Gajeto and Villaros, arrived at the police station
to visit appellant Alfredo and give him clothes and
some money. At 5:00 a.m., Elpidio and Rosita
arrived at the station. Elpidio asked the names of
the appellants. Later at 8:00 p.m., appellants
Dellona, Gajeto and Villaros were told to stay in
the police station and were detained. A criminal
complaint for murder against them was filed on
December 6, 1992 with the MCTC. Elpidio
executed an affidavit and identified the appellants
as the assailants of Alexander.[12]

The Evidence of the Appellants[11]


Appellant Alfredo Gallego admitted stabbing and
killing the victim but claimed that he acted in selfdefense. The other appellants denied
involvement in the killing. The appellants
adduced evidence that the crew members and
Alexander, had a drinking spree in the latters
house. They consumed eight bottles of Tanduay
ESQ and feasted on cooked fish. Shortly after
their drinking spree, the group went back to F/B
Ever IV. Exhausted and intoxicated, the
appellants, except Alfredo, went to sleep. As
soon as they arrived at the motor boat at about
8:00 p.m., Alexander ordered food from Alfredo,
the cook of the boat. Alfredo only gave rice to
Alexander, and told the latter that he was not able
to cook any viand. Alexander was incensed and
told the appellant that he was a useless cook and
it would be better for him to resign from his
employment. The appellant ignored Alexanders
diatribes and went to the kitchen to tidy things up.
Meanwhile, Alexander went to the kitchen and
took the knife from the tray near the door. With
the knife in his hand, Alexander went near the
appellant. The appellant moved backward
towards the front part of the boat but Alexander
pursued the appellant. When he was cornered,
Alfredo was forced to grapple with Alexander for
the possession of the knife. With his left hand,
Alfredo held the victims right forearm, and with
his left hand, twisted the victims right hand
towards the chest. Alexander placed his left hand
on Alfredos shoulder. Alfredo was able to wrest
possession of the knife, and stabbed the victim
on the chest. Alexander placed his right hand on
Alfredos other shoulder, as he was stabbed on
the chest, on the abdomen and on the back.
Alexander fell, his head hitting the edge of the
deck. Alfredo could no longer remember the
number of times he stabbed the victim. He
forthwith awakened the other appellants and

On May 6, 1994, the trial court rendered


judgment finding the appellants guilty of
homicide, the decretal portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, the Court finds the accused
Alfredo Gallego, Samuel Dellona, Leobert Gajeto
and Erwin Villaros GUILTY beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of Homicide and hereby
sentences each one of said accused to suffer
imprisonment of TEN (10) YEARS and ONE (1)
DAY of Prision Mayor as Minimum to
SEVENTEEN (17) YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS
and ONE (1) DAY of Reclusion Temporal as
Maximum and to pay the heirs of the victim,
Alexander Adrias, the amount of Fifty Thousand
(P50,000.00) Pesos and to pay Eight Thousand
(P8,000.00) Pesos for vigil and burial expenses
without subsidiary imprisonment in case of
insolvency and to pay the costs.
SO ORDERED.[13]
On appeal to the Court of Appeals, the appellants
contend that:
I
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FINDING
ACCUSED SAMUEL DELLONA, LEOBERT
GAJETO AND ERWIN VILLAROS GUILTY OF
THE CRIME OF HOMICIDE.
II
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT
CONSIDERING THE MITIGATING

46

CIRCUMSTANCE OF VOLUNTARY
SURRENDER AND PLEA OF GUILT, AND THE
EXEMPTING CIRCUMSTANCE OF SELFDEFENSE AGAINST ACCUSED ALFREDO
GALLEGO.
III
THE TRIAL COURT FAILED TO EXERCISE
COLD NEUTRALITY IN FINDING THE
ACCUSED GUILTY OF THE CRIME OF
HOMICIDE AMOUNTING TO GRAVE ABUSE OF
DISCRETION.[14]
In its Decision, the Court of Appeals ruled that all
the appellants are criminally liable as principals
by direct participation for the killing of Alexander
and that the crime was qualified by abuse of
superior strength; hence, the appellants are guilty
of murder, and sentenced the appellants, except
Alfredo to reclusion perpetua.
Consequently, the Court of Appeals certified the
case to this Court in view of the penalty imposed
on some of the appellants.
While awaiting resolution of the instant appeal,
appellant Samuel Dellona y Bebing filed on
February 2, 1999, an Urgent Motion to Withdraw
Appeal from the trial courts May 6, 1994
judgment. The Court, in a Resolution dated June
9, 1999,[15] dismissed the appeal insofar as
appellant Samuel B. Dellona was concerned. The
Resolution became final on July 21, 1999.
Hence, the present appeal involves only the
remaining three other appellants: Alfredo
Gallego, Leobert Gajeto and Erwin Villaros. The
May 6, 1994 Decision of Branch 48 of the
Regional Trial Court of Masbate, Masbate in
Criminal Case No. 6955 has now become final
and executory as to appellant Samuel Dellona.
The appellants did not file an additional Brief with
this Court; hence, this case will be resolved by
the Court on the basis of the Briefs of the parties
in the Court of Appeals.
The issues posed in this case may be
synthesized, thus: (a) whether appellant Alfredo
acted in self-defense; and (b) whether the three
appellants are guilty of murder.
Appellant Alfredo Gallegos
plea of self-defense is barren
of merit.
Like alibi, self-defense in criminal prosecutions is
a weak defense because it is easy to fabricate
and difficult to disprove.[16] Whether or not an
accused acted in self-defense, complete or
incomplete, is a factual issue to be determined by
the trial court based on the evidence on record.

Where the accused interposes self-defense as a


justifying circumstance, he thereby admits having
killed the victim; the burden of evidence shifts
from the prosecution to the accused to prove with
clear and convincing evidence the confluence of
the following essential requisites: (a) unlawful
aggression on the part of the victim; (b)
reasonable necessity of the means employed to
prevent or repel it; and (c) lack of sufficient
provocation on the part of the person defending
himself.[17] Unlawful aggression is an essential
and indispensable requisite, for without unlawful
aggression on the part of the victim, there can be,
in a jural sense, no complete or incomplete selfdefense. The accused must rely on the strength
of his own evidence and not on the weakness of
that of the prosecution because even if the
evidence of the prosecution were weak, the same
can no longer be disbelieved after the accused
has admitted killing the victim; hence, the
conviction of the accused must ensue as a matter
of consequence.[18] An act of aggression when
its author does not persist in his purpose, or
when he discontinues his aggression such that
the object of his attack is no longer in peril, is not
unlawful aggression.[19] Self-defense must be
distinguished from retaliation; in that in retaliation,
the inceptual unlawful aggression had already
ceased when the accused attacked him. In selfdefense, the unlawful aggression was still
existing when the aggressor was injured or
disabled by the person making the defense.[20]
In this case, the trial court and the Court of
Appeals debunked appellant Alfredos defense
and gave credence with full probative weight to
the testimony of Elpidio Suarez. We agree with
the trial court and the Court of Appeals. Indeed,
the evidence on record belies his plea of selfdefense.
First. The victim sustained no less than six (6)
stab wounds; two of the stab wounds were
elliptical, on the right side of the chest, severing
the upper lobe of the right lung and the
descending aorta, while the other four (4) stab
wounds were located at the right side of the
interscapular area. The number, locations and
depth of the wounds sustained by the victim belie
appellant Alfredos pretension that he killed the
victim in self-defense; the same are proof that
Alfredo intended to kill the victim and not merely
to defend himself.
Dr. Maximo Reyes testified that the multiplicity
and nature of the injuries inflicted on the victim
clearly indicate that there was more than one
attacker. He also confirmed that stab wounds
nos. 1 and 2 in his autopsy report, even if
attended medically, were bound to cause the
victims instantaneous death due to severe blood
loss since the said wounds cut the blood vessels

47

going to the heart and lungs, and severed


circulation from the aorta to the heart.[21] This
was corroborated by Dr. Acuesta who, in addition,
testified that the wounds on the arms of the victim
showed that it was the victim who tried to defend
himself from his assailants.[22] It certainly defies
reason why Alfredo had to inflict such injuries on
the victim if he was only defending himself. The
findings of the trial court belie appellant Alfredos
claim that he also stabbed the victim with his
knife:
Moreover, the Court has carefully examined and
measured the fatal knife. It was six (6) inches
long with the blade of the knife about two and a
half (2) inches long and the handle is three and
one half (3) inches long. The blade of the knife
was one (1) centimeter wide at its widest part. It
was sharp on one side of the blade but not the
back part. Yet, some of the stab wounds were six
(6) or ten (10) inches deep.
We have held that physical evidence is evidence
of the highest order. It speaks more eloquently
than a hundred witnesses.[23]
Second. Appellant Alfredo managed to wrest
possession of the knife from the victim. While the
appellant was grappling for the possession of the
knife, the victim placed his left hand on the
appellants right shoulder. Even after appellant
had wrested possession of the knife, he stabbed
the victim while the latter placed his right hand on
the appellants other shoulder. The inceptual
aggression of the victim had already ceased after
the appellant had wrested possession of the
knife. Nevertheless, the appellant stabbed the
hapless victim six more times. Two of the stab
wounds were at the back of the victim.
It is incredible that while the appellant used both
his hands to wrest possession of the knife, the
victim merely placed his left hand on the
appellants shoulder instead of using it to pull
away the hands of the appellant holding his right
hand. Even after the appellant had wrested
possession of the knife and had stabbed the
victim once on the chest, the latter merely placed
his right hand on the other shoulder of the
appellant, thus allowing the appellant to stab him
six more times without let up on the chest and at
the back. The human instinct for survival and
self-preservation would impel one who is about to
be stabbed with a lethal weapon to try his utmost
to wrest possession of the weapon from the
attacker. However, the appellant would have us
believe that the victim merely placed his hand on
the appellants shoulder, thus enabling him to stab
the victim several times. The appellants
testimony is altogether unconvincing, contrary to
human nature and the natural course of things.

Third. Appellant Dellona admitted on crossexamination that Alfredos claim of self-defense


was an afterthought in a last ditch attempt to
cover up for the other appellants, hoping that the
trial court would find merit in Alfredos plea.
The prosecution proved the
guilt of Appellants Gajeto and
Villaros for Murder beyond
reasonable doubt.
The appellants assert that the trial court erred in
giving credence and full probative weight to
Elpidios testimony. They contend that: (a) Elpidio
was a professional witness; (b) his testimony
before the trial court that the victim was stabbed
by eight members of the crew of the F/B Ever IV
and was assaulted by another member of the
crew armed with a piece of wood, is inconsistent
with the affidavit he executed during the
preliminary investigation that he saw only the four
appellants stab the victim. This is also
inconsistent with his supplemental affidavit to the
NBI, that he saw the four appellants and the five
other accused or nine members of the crew
assaulting the victim; (c) he never informed
Rosita, the victims widow, and the barangay
officials in Barangay Panguiranan and Barangay
Calumpang, Balud, Masbate, or the police
authorities for that matter, that he witnessed the
crime; and (d) his testimony is incredible as it is
belied by the physical evidence on record as to
the number of stab wounds the victim sustained.
They also assert that Rosita herself testified that
only Alfredo stabbed Alexander. The other
appellants were implicated only because they
happened to be at the police station to deliver
Alfredos clothes and some money. When Elpidio
arrived, he pointed to them as the victims
assailants. Consequently, they were detained
without any warrants of arrest. The fact that the
appellants returned to the police station barely
three days from the killing is evidence that their
conscience was clear and that they were
innocent of the crime charged. The prosecution
failed to prove beyond cavil that the appellants
conspired with Alfredo in killing the victim.
The assertions of the appellants do not persuade.
At the outset, we note that the trial court and the
Court of Appeals gave credence and full
probative weight to the testimony of Elpidio, the
lone eyewitness. The trial court found his
testimony clear and positive. The Court of
Appeals concurred with the observations of the
trial court and even declared that the credibility of
Elpidio was even bolstered on cross-examination,
during which Elpidio graphically and vividly
described with specificity the manner in which
each of the appellants stabbed the victim:

48

Indeed, we do not doubt the truthfulness of


Elpidio Suarezs testimony. No proof of ulterior
motive for him to implicate all the accused has
been offered. Where there is no evidence, and
nothing to indicate that a witness for the
prosecution was actuated by improper motive,
the presumption is that he was not so actuated
and his testimony is entitled to full faith and
credit.
He in fact stood his ground and stuck to his story
under intense cross examination. Worse, the
cross examination instead bolstered his story as
the cross examiner made the mistake of asking
him to describe in detail the manner in which
each of the accused inflicted the wounds on the
victim.[26]
Case law has it that findings of facts of the trial
court, especially if affirmed by the appellate court,
are given great respect if not conclusive effect by
this Court unless the trial court ignored,
misunderstood or misinterpreted facts and
circumstances of substance which, if considered,
would alter the outcome of the case. Having had
the unique advantage of observing and
monitoring at close range the demeanor and
conduct of witnesses as they testify, the trial court
is in a better position to pass judgment on the
credibility of witnesses and the probative weight
of their testimony.[31] We have no reason to
deviate from the findings of the trial court and the
appellate court.
In construing the testimony of a witness, such
testimony must be considered as a whole, and
not in its truncated parts, and the meaning of any
answer to isolated questions is to be ascertained
by due consideration of all the questions
propounded on the witness and his answers
thereon throughout his testimony. Facts
imperfectly stated in answer to a question may be
supplied or clarified by his answer to another or
other questions.[32]
In this case, Elpidio stated in his sworn statement
to SPO3 Vicente Aragona on December 5, 1992
that the four appellants stabbed the victim and
identified all of them as the culprits. However,
when he testified, Elpidio declared that each of
the five accused stabbed the victim, while
accused Ernesto Arollado hit the victim at the
back of the head. Elpidio made a similar claim in
his supplemental statement[33] in which he
stated that nine of the crew members helped in
killing the victim.
The records show that when apprised on
December 5, 1992 that the three appellants,
aside from Alfredo who had earlier surrendered,
were already in the custody of the police
authorities and detained thereat, Elpidio arrived

in the municipal police station and gave his sworn


statement, identifying the four appellants as the
assailants of the victim. The other members of
the crew were still at large and could not thus be
pinpointed by Elpidio.
There is no substantial incongruency between
the physical evidence on record and Elpidios
testimony. We agree with the ruminations of the
Office of the Solicitor General in its Brief for the
appellee, thus:
The argument that the testimony of Suarez that
nine (9) crew members of the F/B Ever IV took
turns in stabbing and hitting the victim is
unbelievable because it is contrary to the autopsy
report showing that the victim suffered only six (6)
wounds, does not inspire concurrence.
Contrary to appellants contention, the autopsy
report of the NBI (Exh. 6) showed that the victim
did not only suffer stab wounds but likewise
different physical injuries in the form of contused
abrasions located over the right side of the face,
left side of the chest, right forearm and left arm.
The report also states the presence of hematoma
over the scalp of the victim and the presence of
hemorrhage in the coverings of the brain. (pp. 7B, TSN, July 26, 1993).
Accordingly, from the above findings of the NBI, it
is evident that nine (9) persons collaborated in
killing the victim, some of whom stabbed him
while the others used their fist or blunt
instruments thereby inflicting those physical
injuries mentioned above.
In short, the fact that the victim suffered six (6)
stab wounds plus several physical injuries all
over his body is consistent with the testimony of
Suarez that the nine (9) crew members of F/B
Ever IV collaborated in killing the victim.[35]
Although Dr. Maximo Reyes of the NBI MedicoLegal Office mentioned only six (6) wounds
sustained by the victim, Dr. Oscar Acuesta
testified that the victim sustained eight stab
wounds.
Dr. Reyes did not consider the wounds sustained
by the victim on the upper arm and temporal
area, claiming that the wounds could have been
caused by a blunt instrument. Dr. Acuesta
considered the same as stab wounds. But the
credibility of Elpidio is not impaired by the
testimony of either of the doctors. Elpidio testified
that the victim was ganged up by eight crew
members who were armed with knives. While
Elpidio was certain that appellants Gajeto,
Dellona, Gallego and Villaros did stab the victim
on different parts of his body, he did not see what
parts of the victims body were hit when Jun and

49

Dimas stabbed the victim. For his part, appellant


Arollado hit the victim on the back of his head
and his nape. Neither Dr. Acuesta nor Dr. Reyes
discounted the possibility that two or more knives
were used to stab the victim.
We agree with the trial courts keen analysis of
the physical evidence borne by the medical
certificates issued by Dr. Acuesta and Dr. Reyes
vis-a-vis the fatal weapon, that the victim could
have been stabbed by two or more persons:
Moreover, the Court has carefully examined and
measured the fatal knife. It was six (6) inches
long with the blade of the knife about two and a
half (2-1/2) inches long and the handle is three
and one half (3-1/2) inches long. The blade of the
knife was one (1) centimeter wide at its widest
part. It was sharp on one side of the blade but not
the back part. Yet, some of the stab wounds were
six (6) or ten (10) inches deep.[39]
That Elpidio did not report the killing of the victim
to the police authorities or identify the culprits to
Tomas Codera, the barangay officials and police
authorities immediately after the crime was
committed by the appellants does not impair the
credibility of Elpidio. The evidence shows that
after witnessing the heinous crime committed by
the appellants, he proceeded posthaste to the
house of Tomas Codera, the victims stepfather
and reported the crime.
In People vs. Galido,[41] we ruled that fear of
reprisal and the natural reluctance of witnesses
to get involved in criminal cases are sufficient
explanations for a witness delay in reporting a
crime to the authorities. Besides, Elpidio, in the
company of Rosita and Tomas, went to the police
authorities and identified the appellants on
December 5, 1992, or barely three days after the
commission of the crime.
The well-entrenched rule is that different people
react differently when confronted with a startling
and frightening occurrence. There is no standard
form of human behavioral response to crimes
and other strange occurrences. Experience
dictates that precisely because of the startling
acts of violence committed right before their
eyes, eyewitnesses can recall with a high degree
of reliability the identities of the criminals and how
at any given time the crime has been committed
by them.[42]
Admittedly, Rosita, the victims wife, testified on
cross-examination that in her affidavit on
December 7, 1992, she stated that her husband
was killed by appellant Alfredo. However, as
gleaned from the said affidavit, she had no
personal knowledge of who killed her husband.
She was merely informed by Tomas Codera that

her husband was killed by appellant Alfredo.


Significantly, she also stated in the said affidavit
that she would elaborate further when the case is
called for trial.
Even if it were true that the appellants went to the
police station ostensibly to give clothes and
money to Alfredo who had earlier surrendered to
the police authorities, this does not in any way
bolster their claims of innocence. Their presence
at the station is not sufficient to overcome the
prosecutions overwhelming evidence against
them. It bears stressing that the appellants were
not aware that Elpidio had witnessed the crime;
hence, they did not expect that someone would
point to them as the culprits. The appellants
plaint on their arrest and detention does not hold
water since they failed to raise the same before
their arraignment.[43]
The Crime Committed by the Appellants
The trial court convicted the appellants with
homicide with the attendance of abuse of
superior strength in the commission of the crime.
The Court of Appeals concurred with the trial
court that indeed, the appellants abused their
superior strength, but ruled that the appellants
are guilty of murder under Article 248 of the
Revised Penal Code. We agree with the Court of
Appeals. Nine assailants, including the
appellants, ganged up on the victim and inflicted
no less than six mortal wounds on the unarmed
victim. The appellants took advantage of
superiority in number and superior power to
overwhelm and kill the hapless victim.
Proper Penalty on the Appellants
The crime was committed before the effectivity of
Republic Act No. 7659 on January 1, 1994. The
penalty for the crime under Article 248 of the
Revised Penal Code was reclusion temporal in its
maximum period to death. In the absence of any
aggravating or mitigating circumstances in the
commission of the crime, the imposable penalty
on the appellants is reclusion perpetua, medium
period of the penalty, pursuant to Article 64 of the
Revised Penal Code.
Civil Liabilities of the Appellants
The trial court condemned the appellants to pay
to the heirs of the victim Alexander Adrias the
amount of P50,000 and P8,000 for vigil and burial
expenses but did not award any moral and
temperate damages. The decision of the trial
court shall thus accordingly be modified.
Conformably to current jurisprudence, the heirs
are entitled to civil indemnity ex delicto in the
amount of P50,000 and moral damages in the
amount of P50,000.[44]

50

Rosita Adrias testified that she spent the total


amount of P81,000 for the vigil and burial
expenses and for the cemetery lot where the
victim was interred. However, she failed to
adduce a single document to prove her claim.
Hence, she is not entitled to actual damages for
the said amount.[45] She is, however, entitled to
temperate damages in the amount of P25,000
conformably to current jurisprudence.[46]

assault and stab with the said weapon one


Domingo Opalsa, thereby inflicting upon the latter
wounds on the different parts of his body which
directly caused his death.
That the accused attacked and stabbed said
Domingo Opalsa suddenly and unexpectedly
without giving the latter any opportunity to defend
himself or to escape.
Contrary to law.[1]

IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the


Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Masbate,
Branch 48 is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION.
Appellants Alfredo Gallego, Leoberto Gajeto and
Erwin Villaros are found guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of murder under Article 248 of the Revised
Penal Code, qualified by abuse of superior
strength and there being neither aggravating nor
mitigating circumstances attendant in the
commission of the crime, said appellants are
hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of
reclusion perpetua. They are hereby directed to
pay jointly and severally to the heirs of the victim
Alexander Adrias, P50,000 as civil indemnity,
P50,000 as moral damages and P25,000 as
temperate damages.
Appellant Dellosa is no longer liable for moral
damages and temperate damages considering
that he withdrew his appeal.[47]
With costs against appellants.
SO ORDERED.
[G.R. No. 133580. July 20, 2001]
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES plaintiff and
appellee, vs. MAXIMO GENEBLAZO, accusedappellant.
DECISION
BUENA, J.:
Accused-appellant Maximino Geneblazo appeals
the decision of the Regional Trial Court at
Calauag, Quezon, Branch 63 in Criminal Case
No. 2151-C, entitled The People of the
Philippines versus Maximino Geneblazo,
convicting him of murder and sentencing him to
reclusion perpetua.
On October 16, 1992, an information was filed
against Maximino Geneblazo charging him of
murder committed as follows:
That on or about the 15th day of January 1988, at
Barangay Pinagtalyeran, Municipality of Calauag,
Province of Quezon, Philippines and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the abovenamed accused, armed with a bladed weapon,
with intent to kill, and with treachery, did then and
there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack,

Upon arraignment on December 3, 1992,


accused Maximino Geneblazo, assisted by
counsel, pleaded not guilty to the crime charged.
The Regional Trial Court thereafter proceeded
with the trial.
Culled from the records are the following:
Alex Obien, the first witness for the prosecution,
testified that on January 15, 1988, at around
12:00 midnight he and Domingo Opalsa were
walking along Quezon Street, Calauag, Quezon,
bound for home when Maximino Geneblazo and
around six unknown companions stoned them.
Obien and Opalsa retaliated by also throwing
stones at Geneblazo and company. However,
upon seeing that Geneblazo was about to draw
his knife, they ran away.
Maximino Geneblazo caught up with Domingo
Opalsa and stabbed the latter twice the first stab
landed on the left side of the body in the area of
the armpit, while the second landed on the left
side of the face.
SPO1 Emmanuel Quiogue of the Philippine
National Police, at Calauag, Quezon was at
home on the night in question. He heard a
commotion outside. Peeping out the window he
saw some men throwing stones at each other. He
got his gun and went outside. Noticing the chase
which ensued, he went after the men.
At the scene of the incident, SPO1 Quiogue saw
two men almost locked in an embrace. He fired
his gun but the two did not draw apart so he
stood between them so as to separate them. One
of the men fell to the ground while the person
who was left standing stabbed him. Only his
finger was hit. He recognized the person who
stabbed him as Maximino Geneblazo.
Thereafter SPO1 Quiogue, Obien and Barangay
Captain Torres of Pinagtalyeran brought Opalsa
to St. Peters Hospital where the latter was
pronounced dead on arrival.
Maximino Geneblazo, who was the lone witness
for the defense, testified that he was standing in
front of the market at about 12:00 midnight on

51

January 15, 1988, when two men who were


drunk passed by. They challenged him to a fight.
He recognized these two men as Adie Obien and
Momoy (Domingo Opalsa). When he refused to
fight them, the latter threw stones and flowerpots
at him. Thereafter, Geneblazo chased them for
he wanted to know why he was being stoned and
because he wanted to get even.
Geneblazo caught up with Momoy. When he was
about to box the latter, Momoy drew out a knife.
Momoy struck the bridge of the nose and finger
of Geneblazo with the knife. When Geneblazo fell
down he heard a gunshot. Momoy was about to
stab Geneblazo again but when he heard the
shot he was startled so the latter was able to
wrest the weapon from Momoy.
Geneblazo then stabbed Momoy in the abdomen.
He was about to stab Momoy again when SPO1
Quiogue arrived on the scene. While SPO1
Quiogue was pacifying them, Geneblazo hit
Momoy in the neck. As he did not recognize
SPO1 Quiogue he accidentally hit the latters left
hand with the knife but when recognition dawned
on him who SPO1 Quiogue was, he ran away
and hid until his surrender to a police officer
Baloloy.
Salvacion Opalsa y Conohan, the mother of the
victim, testified for the prosecution declaring that
her family incurred expenses in the total amount
of P45,000.00 for the burial and wake of the
victim. The P45,000.00 is broken down as
follows: P5,000.00 for funeral expense,
P16,000.00 was spent during the wake,
P6,000.00 was expenses for the cemetery,
P8,000.00 was spent to look for the accused, an
additional P5,000.00 for funeral services and
P5,000.00 spent during the nine-day prayers for
the deceased after the interment. A certification
from the Sutarez Funeral Homes stating that it
rendered funeral services to the late Domingo
Opalsa in the amount of P5,000.00[2] and a
handwritten list of the expenses[3] were
presented as evidence.
On February 2, 1998, the trial court rendered a
decision convicting the accused the decretal
position of which reads:
WHEREFORE, finding the accused guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of Murder, the
Court hereby sentences the said accused to
suffer the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA
and to pay P50,000.00 as moral damages and an
additional P45,000.00 as actual damages to the
heirs of Domingo Opalsa and to pay the costs.
SO ORDERED.[4]

Hence, this appeal where accused-appellant


assigns the following errors allegedly committed
by the trial court:
I
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING
THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT FOR THE CRIME
OF MURDER, HAVING APPRECIATED THE
QUALIFYING CIRCUMSTANCE OF
TREACHERY.
II
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT
CONSIDERING THE JUSTIFYING
CIRCUMSTANCE OF SELF-DEFENSE
INTERPOSED BY THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT.
The appeal is meritorious in the sense that the
penalty should be lowered.
Accused-appellant Maximino Geneblazo alleges
that he killed the victim Domingo Opalsa in selfdefense.
Well-settled is the rule that in interposing selfdefense, the offender admits authorship of the
killing. The onus probandi is thus shifted to him to
prove the elements of self-defense and that the
killing was justified; otherwise, having admitted
the killing, conviction is inescapable.
Concomitantly, he must rely on the strength of his
own evidence and not on the weakness of the
prosecutions evidence. For self-defense to
prosper, it must be established that: (1) there was
unlawful aggression by the victim; (2) that the
means employed to prevent or repel such
aggression was reasonable; and (3) that there
was lack of sufficient provocation on the part of
the person defending himself.[5]
It was sufficiently established by the prosecution
that the victim Domingo Opalsa and his
companion Alex Obien were merely walking on
the road when they were pelted with stones by
Maximino Geneblazo and his companions; that
Opalsa and Obien retaliated; that they ran away
when they saw that Geneblazo was about to
draw his knife; that Geneblazo pursued them;
that Geneblazo stabbed Opalsa when he caught
up with the latter.
It is quite apparent that it was not the victim who
committed the unlawful aggression but the
accused-appellant himself.
Unlawful aggression contemplates an actual,
sudden and unexpected attack, or imminent
danger thereof, and not merely a threatening or
intimidating attitude -- there has to exist a real

52

danger to the life or personal safety of the person


claiming self-defense.[6]
Assuming arguendo that the accused-appellants
version of the events of the night in question is
the truth and that the unlawful aggression
emanated from the victim and his companion
who were drunk at the time, the aggression
ceased to exist when the victim and his
companion ran away. There was no longer any
real danger to the life or personal safety of the
accused. An act of aggression, when its author
does not persist in his purpose, or when he
discontinues his attitude to the extent that the
object of his attack is no longer in peril, is not
unlawful aggression warranting self-defense.[7]
When accused-appellant Geneblazo pursued the
two men, it was then that he became the
aggressor.
Finally, belying accused-appellants claim of selfdefense is his testimony that as soon as he
grabbed the knife from the victim he stabbed the
latter in the abdomen. Still he didnt stop there. He
again stabbed the victim in the neck even in the
presence of SPO1 Quiogue who arrived to pacify
them.
Having divested the victim of his knife, the
accused-appellant was placed at an advantage
as he already had control of the bladed weapon.
The victim was therefore left unarmed and
accused-appellant Geneblazo did not testify nor
is there anything on record to show that the
vicitm tried to grapple with him for possession of
the knife. A third person (a police officer, at that)
was present to pacify them. There was really no
need for the accused-appellant to stab the victim.
And his doing so revealed his murderous intent.
However, the matter of whether or not the
deceased was the aggressor is factual. It is a
settled rule that the trial court is in a better
position to ascertain the facts under the
circumstances. In the absence of any justifiable
reason, this Court is bound to uphold the findings
of the trial court.
The accused-appellant admitted that he
recognized SPO1 Quiogue after he had stabbed
the victim for the second time. His taking flight
and going into hiding instead of surrendering to
SPO1 Quiogue on the spot was highly
evidentiary of guilt, and incompatible with his
claim of self-defense. Flight negates self-defense
and indicates guilt.[8]
The prosecution failed to prove that the qualifying
circumstance of treachery was present in this
case. Treachery must be proven as clearly and
as cogently as the crime itself.[9]

The essence of treachery is the sudden and


unexpected attack by an aggressor on an
unsuspecting victim, depriving the latter of any
real chance to defend himself and thereby
ensuring its commission without risk to himself.
[10]
When Opalsa and Obien were pelted with stones,
they had the option of retaliating or running away.
They did both. First they threw stones at their
attackers, and when they saw that the accusedappellant was about to draw his knife they ran
away. While the stoning incident was sudden, the
attack upon the victim was not. The victim, aware
that the accused-appellant was armed with a
weapon, knew that the latter was of a mind to use
the weapon and that the only thing he could do to
avoid being wounded was to outrun the accusedappellant. Unfortunately the accused-appellant
caught up with Opalsa and inflicted a fatal stab
on him which led to his demise. We do not agree
with the trial court that the killing was attended by
treachery that would make the accused-appellant
guilty of the crime of murder. We find the
accused-appellant guilty of homicide only.
The trial court ordered the accused-appellant to
pay P50,000.00 as moral damages and an
additional P45,000.00 as actual damages to the
heirs of Domingo Opalsa and to pay the costs.
The award of actual damages amounting to
P45,000.00 to the heirs of the victim cannot be
sustained. Said amount was allegedly incurred in
the interment of the deceased. Except for the
amount of P5,000.00 that was supported by a
certification/receipt, the sum of P40,000.00 was
not substantiated by competent evidence. The
award of actual damages cannot rest on the bare
allegation of the heirs of the offended party.[11]
In accordance with prevailing jurisprudence, civil
indemnity in the amount of P50,000.00 should be
awarded to the heirs of the victim.
Based on our findings that homicide, not murder,
was committed, the penalty imposed upon
accused-appellant should correspondingly be
lowered to reclusion temporal. There being no
aggravating nor mitigating circumstance, the
proper imposable penalty should be reclusion
temporal in its medium period. Applying the
Indeterminate Sentence Law, the minimum term
is anywhere within the range of prision mayor, or
from 6 years and 1 day to 12 years, and the
maximum within the range of reclusion temporal
in its medium period, or from 14 years, 8 months
and 1 day to 17 years and 4 months.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the decision of the
Regional Trial Court at Calauag, Quezon Br. 63,

53

finding accused-appellant guilty of the crime of


murder, is MODIFIED. Instead, this Court finds
accused-appellant Maximino Geneblazo guilty of
the crime of Homicide, and sentenced to suffer
the indeterminate penalty of eight (8) years and
one (1) day of prision mayor medium, as
minimum, to fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months
and one (1) day of reclusion temporal medium,

as maximum. The accused is ORDERED to pay


the heirs of the victim civil indemnity in the
amount of P50,000.00, actual damages of
P5,000.00, moral damages in the sum of
P50,000.00, and to pay the costs.
SO ORDERED.

54