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People v. Murcia (2010) G.R. No.

9 March 2010 PEREZ, J.:
TOPIC IN SYLLABUS: Destructive Arson (Art. 320)
SUMMARY: Murcia got into an argument with Herminio and chased the latter with a bolo he then went inside the
house of Eulogio, where he had a room, after Ricky was able to calm him down. Ricky and Herminio resumed drinking
and after some time saw smoke coming from inside Murcias room. Herminio peeked inside and saw Ricky throwing
cartons of clothes into the fire. Eulogio, who had been cooking upstairs, saw smoke coming from Murcias room.
Felicidad, the adoptive mother of Murcia and one of the sisters of Eulogio, died as a result of third degree burns. 8
houses were razed by fire, including Eulogioss. (Note that during the incident, Alicia, another one of Eulogios sisters,
had been stabbed by Murcia.) Murcia was tried and convicted of Arson and Frustrated Homicide which conviction
was upheld by the CA. The SC denied the petition for review filed by Murcia, finding that his guilt was established
beyond reasonable doubt by circumstantial evidence. The SC clarified that the offense committed was simple arson and
not destructive arson, as what were burned were residential houses.

DOCTRINE: In the prosecution for arson, proof of the crime charged is complete where the evidence establishes: (1) the
corpus delicti, that is, a fire because of criminal agency and (2) the identity of the defendant as the one responsible for
the crime. In arson, the corpus delicti rule is satisfied by proof of the bare fact of the fire and of it having been
intentionally caused. Even the uncorroborated testimony of a single eyewitness, if credible, is enough to prove the
corpus delicti and to warrant conviction.

There are actually two categories of arson: Destructive Arson under Art. 320 of the RPC and Simple Arson under PD
1316. The classification is based on the kind, character and location of the property burned, regardless of the value of
the damage caused.
Art. 320 contemplates the malicious burning of structures, both public and private, hotels, buildings, edifices,
trains, vessels, aircraft, factories and other military, government or commercial establishments by any person
or group of persons.
PD. 1316 covers houses, dwellings, government buildings, farms, mills, plantations, railways, bus stations,
airports, wharves and other industrial establishments.

Eulogio Quilates (EULOGIO) owned a 2-storey house in La Union occupied by his sister, Felicidad Quilates
(FELICIDAD), another sister, Alicia Manlupig (ALICIA), and a nephew, Herminio Manlupig (HERMINIO).
o Jessie Murcia (MURCIA), who was the adopted son of Felicidad, occupied one of the rooms.
3:30p, 24 Mar 2004: Murcia was drinking with his cousin, Herminio, and his two brothers-in-law, Joey Viduya
(JOEY) and Ricky Viduya (RICKY)
o Murcia and Herminio argued about the matter of caring for Felicidad during her confinement in the
hospital Ricky tried to mediate, but to no avail.
o Murcia retrieved a bolo inside the house and, 10 mins later, ran after Herminio who managed to escape
Murcia then went back inside the house.
o Ricky resumed drinking but a few minutes later, he saw smoke coming from Rickys room.
As Ricky was about to enter the house, he met Murcia at the door Murcia unsuccessfully tried
to stab Ricky.
Ricky then witnessed Murcia stab Felicidad and Alicia.
o Meanwhile, Herminio, who had gone back to the drinking table, also saw the smoke.
Peeping through the window, Herminio witnessed Murcia burning some clothes and boxes in
the sala Herminio immediately went inside the house in order to save his belongings.
Upon emerging from the house, Herminio saw Alicia, his mother, bloodied.
o Meanwhile, while sitting in a chair near the toilet, Alicia saw smoke coming out of Murcias room.
Before she could react, Murcia came charging at her stabbing her.
Wounds: upper thigh, arms, below her breast, ear.
She was brought to the hospital by her daughter-in-law.
o Meanwhile, while cooking in the 2nd floor, Eulogio heard a commotion.
He went down and saw smoke coming from Murcias room.
Eulogio also saw Felicidad near the comfort room outside the house, bleeding from her mouth.
He was about to help her, but ran away when he met Murcia who was holding a knife.
o As soon as he saw Herminio, Murcia immediately attacked Herminio with a knife.
Herminio and Ricky were able t pin Murcia down but before they could retaliate, the
barangay captain arrived.
ALL-IN-ALL: 8 houses were razed.
o When Inspector Ferdinand Fornacion (FORNACION) responded, he saw that 4 houses were already
burned he had the fire put out and conducted an ocular investigation, and then invited witnesses to
the police station.
The Chief Inspector Rodolfo Lomboy was told by witnesses that Murcia intentionally set the
boxes on fire inside the house.
o Estimated damages:
Eulogios house: P250k.
Burial expenses of Felicidad: P10k.
Felicidad died.
o Autopsy Felicidad died from cardio-respiratory arrest secondary to third degree burns involving 90%
of body surface to include underlying tissues and organs.
Two Information(s) against Murcia: (1) Arson and (2) Frustrated Homicide
Murcias defense:
o While drinking, he saw Felicidad go inside to get a glass of water he went inside to give her a glass of
water and then saw Felicidad light a gas lamp.
o When we went back outside to resume drinking, he got into an argument with Herminio Herminio
struck him on the head.
He went back inside and got a bolo he went outside to hack Herminio, who proceeded to run
As he was chasing Herminio, he saw Alicia and confronted her about Herminio Alicia cursed
him and he hit her with a knife.
o He then lost consciousness because he was struck by something in the back.
o He denied setting the house on fire.
RTC: Based on circumstantial evidence, found Murcia GUILTY of Arson (Death; indemnify heirs of Felicidad;
indemnify Eulogio for the value of the burned house); and, of Frustrated Homicide (4 yrs. PC as min. to 10 yrs.
of PM as max)
CA: AFFIRMED modified the penalty for Arson to RP.
Hence, this petition for review on certiorari with the SC. (The conviction for Frustrated Homicide is not in
issue, since the accused already admitted to it.)

1. Is there evidence to establish that Murcia committed arson?
2. Was the arson committed destructive arson or simple arson?

1. YES, circumstantial evidence establishes that Murcia committed arson.
SEE: Doctrine (corpus delicti in arson cases)
Case at bar
o Occurrence of the fire: established by the hotographs evidencing the charred remains of the house.
o Identity of Murcia as the culprit: established by circumstantial evidence. (A correctly laid out by the
Murcia returned inside the house after chasing Herminio with a bolo and subsequently being
pacified by Ricky and Joey.
While Ricky and Herminio were again drinking they say thick smoke emanating from the
window of Murcias room in the ground floor of Eulogios house.
Herminio peeped through the window and saw Murcia throwing cartons of clothes into the
While cooking, Eulogio went downstairs and saw the fire coming from Murcias room.
Ricky saw Murcia stabbing Felicidad and Alicia; Eulogio saw Felicidad with blood oozing from
her mouth he was unable to help Felicidad because Murcia brandished a knife at him; Alicia
was seen wounded and unconscious in the canal.
Eulogios house as well as that of his neighbors were razed by fire.

2. Simple Arson
SEE: Doctrine (2 kinds of arson)
Case at bar: the crime committed was simple arson because the burned properties are residential houses.

DISPOSITIVE: WHEREFORE, the deicison of the CA finding JESSIE VILLEGAS MURCIA guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of arson and sentencing him to reclusion perpetua is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS:
1. Appellant is ordered to indemnify the heirs of Felicidad Quilates the amount of P50,000.00 as moral damages
P50,000.00 as death indemnity and P25,000.00 as temperate damages.
2. The award of P10,000.00 as actual damages in favor of the heirs of Felicidad Quilates is deleted.
3. Appellant is ordered to pay Eulogio Quilates the amount of P200,000.00 as temperate damages. The award of
P250,000.00 as actual damages in favor of Eulogio Quilates is deleted.