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Lenido Lumanog v.

People of the Philippines (and other consolidated cases),


G.R. No. 182555, G.R. No. 185123, G.R. No. 187745
September 7, 2010

I. THE FACTS

Appellants were the accused perpetrators of the ambush-slay of former Chief of the
Metropolitan Command Intelligence and Security Group of the Philippine Constabulary
(now the Philippine National Police), Colonel Rolando N. Abadilla.

The principal witness for the prosecution was Freddie Alejo, a security guard
employed assigned at 211 Katipunan Avenue, Blue Ridge, Quezon City, where the ambush-
slay happened. As a purported eyewitness, he testified on what he saw during the fateful
day, including the faces of the accused.

All the accused raised the defense of alibi, highlighted the negative findings of
ballistic and fingerprint examinations, and further alleged torture in the hands of police
officers and denial of constitutional rights during custodial investigation.

The trial court however convicted the accused-appellants. The CA affirmed with
modification the decision of the trial court. The CA upheld the conviction of the accused-
appellants based on the credible eyewitness testimony of Alejo, who vividly recounted
before the trial court their respective positions and participation in the fatal shooting of
Abadilla, having been able to witness closely how they committed the crime.

II. THE ISSUE

1. Whether or not the trial court and CA erred in declaring the appellants guilty as
conspirators in the ambush-slay of Abadilla, the presence of treachery and evident
premeditation qualifying the killing to murder.
2. Whether or not the CA erred in imposing the penalty of reclusion perpetua without
the benefit of parole.

III. THE RULING

1. As regards the presence of treachery as a qualifying circumstance, the evidence


clearly showed that the attack on the unsuspecting victim -- who was inside his car
on a stop position in the middle of early morning traffic when he was suddenly fired
upon by the appellants -- was deliberate, sudden and unexpected. There was simply
no chance for Abadilla to survive the ambush-slay, with successive shots quickly
fired at close range by two (2) armed men on both sides of his car; and much less to
retaliate by using his own gun, as no less than 23 gunshot wounds on his head and
chest caused his instantaneous death. As we have consistently ruled, the essence of
treachery is the sudden and unexpected attack on an unsuspecting victim by the
perpetrator of the crime, depriving the victim of any chance to defend himself or to
repel the aggression, thus insuring its commission without risk to the aggressor and
without any provocation on the part of the victim.

Evident premeditation was likewise properly appreciated by the trial court,


notwithstanding the inadmissibility of Joel de Jesuss extrajudicial confession
disclosing in detail the pre-planned ambush of Abadilla, apparently a contract killing
in which the perpetrators were paid or expected to receive payment for the job. As
correctly pointed out by the CA, Alejo had stressed that as early as 7:30 in the
morning of June 13, 1996, he already noticed something unusual going on upon
seeing the two (2) lookouts (appellants Joel de Jesus and Lorenzo delos Santos)
walking to and fro along Katipunan Avenue infront of the building he was guarding.
True enough, they were expecting somebody to pass that way, who was no other than
Abadilla driving his Honda Accord. After the lapse of more or less one (1) hour, he
already heard successive gunshots, while in his guard post, from the direction of the
middle lane where Abadillas car was surrounded by four (4) men carrying short
firearms. All the foregoing disclosed the execution of a pre-conceived plan to kill
Abadilla. The essence of evident premeditation is that the execution of the criminal
act is preceded by cool thought and reflection upon the resolution to carry out
criminal intent within a span of time sufficient to arrive at a calm judgment.

The trial court and CA were therefore correct in declaring the appellants guilty as
conspirators in the ambush-slay of Abadilla, the presence of treachery and evident
premeditation qualifying the killing to murder under Art. 248 of the Revised Penal
Code, as amended.

2. The CA correctly modified the death penalty imposed by the trial court. At
the time the crime was committed, the penalty for murder was reclusion
perpetua to death.

With the presence of the aggravating circumstance of treachery and there


being no mitigating circumstance, the higher penalty of death should be
imposed.

In view, however, of the passage of Republic Act No. 9346 entitled, An Act
Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in the Philippines, which was
signed into law on June 24, 2006, the imposition of the death penalty has been
prohibited. Pursuant to Section 2 thereof, the penalty to be meted to
appellants shall be reclusion perpetua.

Notwithstanding the reduction of the penalty imposed on appellants, they are


not eligible for parole following Section 3 of said law which provides:
SECTION 3. Persons convicted of offenses punished with reclusion
perpetua, or whose sentences will be reduced to reclusion perpetua, by reason of this
Act, shall not be eligible for parole under Act No. 4103, otherwise known as the
Indeterminate Sentence Law, as amended.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. ROBERT BRODETT,
G.R. No. 170136,
January 18, 2008

Facts:

Herein appellant Robert Brodett was charged for the murder of Dr. April Duque, his live-in
partner, whose body was found burning on the spillway of Laoac Alacala. The sole witness
to the killing was Giobert, their five year old son, who testified in court that he saw his
father hit his mother with a hammer and thereafter stab her. Appellant was found guilty
and the aggravating circumstances of superior strength, dwelling, disrespect on account of
sex, cruelty, and scoffing at the corpse, were considered to have attended the killing of the
victim, thus the court sentenced him to death by lethal injection.

Issue:

Whether the aggravating circumstances of superior strength, dwelling, disrespect on


account of sex, cruelty, and scoffing at the corpse should be considered to have attended
the murder of Dr. April Duque.

Ruling:

The court ruled that the killing of April was attended with treachery, because the injuries
suffered by April clearly show that she did not have any chance to defend herself. The
aggravating circumstance of abuse of superior strength was also appreciated but is already
absorbed in treachery. Furthermore the court appreciated the aggravating circumstance of
outraging or scoffing at the victim’s corpse because it was burned and left on the spillway in
order to conceal the crime. The Court however did not appreciate dwelling and disrespect
on account of sex because appellant and April resided in the same house and appellant did
not deliberately intend to insult or disrespect April’s womanhood.

WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION the 2 August 2005 Decision
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 00776. The Court find appellant Robert Brodett
y Pajaro guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder, qualified by treachery and
with the attendant aggravating circumstance of outraging or scoffing at the victims corpse.
Pursuant to Republic Act No. 9346, prohibiting the imposition of the death penalty,
appellant is sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua without eligibility for
parole. Appellant is further ordered to pay the victims heirs P75,000 as civil indemnity,
P50,000 as moral damages, and P25,000 as exemplary damages.