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People vs Glenn De los Santos

355 SCRA 415 (2001)

Facts:
In the early morning of October 5, 1995, at the Maitum Highway in Cagayan de Oro
City, a team of PNP members who were undergoing a Special Training Course, wearing
black T-shirts and black short pants, were performing an “Endurance Run” of 35 km
coming from their camp in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon and heading to Regional Training
Headquarters in Camp Alagar, Cagayan de Oro City, running in a column of three with a
distance of two feet or less from one another. The group was jogging on the right side of
the lane.

The accused, Glenn de los Santos, driving an Isuzu Elf, hit and killed members of the
jogging PNP team. As a result, some PNP members were killed on the spot while
another trainee died a few days after the incident. Eleven (11) other trainees were
seriously wounded and some sustained minor injuries. The accused escaped after the
incident, leaving behind the victims helpless.

The trial court convicted Glenn de los Santos of the crime of multiple murder, multiple
frustrated murder, and multiple attempted murder, with use of motor vehicle as the
qualifying circumstance.

Issue:
Whether or not there was an intent to kill or injure the jogging the trainees or was it
reckless imprudence.

Held:
The conclusion of the trial court and the OSG that the accused intentionally rammed
and hit the jogging trainees was premised on the assumption that despite the first
bumping thuds, he continued to accelerate his vehicle instead of applying his brakes, as
shown by the absence of brake marks or skid marks along the traffic scenes.

The defense, meanwhile, attributed the continuous movement of the vehicle to the
reason that the Isuzu Elf truck, a huge vehicle, was moving fast that even if the brakes
were applied, the truck would have still proceeded further on account of its own
momentum, albeit at a reduced speed, and would have stopped only after a certain
distance.

It is a well-entrenched rule that if the inculpatory facts are capable of two or more
explanations – one consistent with the innocence or lesser degree of liability of the
accused, and the other consistent with his guilt or graver responsibility – the Court
should adopt the explanation which is more favorable to the accused.

The Court was convinced that the incident, tragic though it was in light of the number of
persons killed and seriously injured, was an accident and not an intentional felony. It is
significant to note that there is no shred of evidence that Glenn de los Santos had
anything against the police trainees that would drive him into deliberately hitting them
with intent to kill. Although proof of motive is not indispensable to a conviction especially
where the assailant is positively identified, such proof is important in determining which
of two conflicting theories of the incident is more likely to be true.

Considering that the incident was not a product of a malicious intent but rather the result
of a single act of reckless driving, the accused should be guilty of the complex crime of
reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide with serious physical injuries and
less serious physical injuries.