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PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. L-39942. April 26, 1982.]

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. ARTURO MANZURES, Defendant-Appellant.

Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza, Assistant Solicitor General Hugo E. Gutierrez, Jr. and Solicitor Cecilio F. Baligot for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Mirabueno, Gelino and Nadioromente, for Defendant-Appellant.

SYNOPSIS


Arturo Manzures and Gerardo Malfarta were charged with the crime of murder in the Court of First Instance of South Cotabato for inflicting stab wounds upon Cesar Valenzuela who subsequently died. At the trial, Manrures admitted having stabbed the victim, but claimed that he acted in self-defense. Milagros Eliseo, the victim’s sweetheart and prosecution’s eyewitness, testified as to the commission of the offense which testimony became the basis of the judgment of conviction. Sentenced to reclusion perpetua, the two assailants appealed but Malfarta thereafter withdrew his appeal.

Upon review, the Supreme Court held that the testimony of the eyewitness was credible; that several circumstances existed belying the appellant’s theory of self-defense; that his identity as the person who inflicted the mortal wound was proven beyond reasonable doubt; and that no unlawful aggression was perpetuated against him by the victim. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment finding appellants guilty of murder qualified by treachery which absorbs nocturnity and abuse of superiority with the modification that appellant’s liability for the payment of the indemnity of P24,000 is solidary with that of his co-accused.

Judgment affirmed with modification.


SYLLABUS


1. REMEDIAL LAW; EVIDENCE; TESTIMONY OF WITNESSES; STATEMENTS AND INJURY OF ACCUSED BELIE CLAIM OF SELF-DEFENSE. — Several circumstances show that the accused did not act in self-defense. He testified that the victim kicked him, then boxed him on the right cheek, rendering him unconscious, and then rode on him and squeezed his neck. He allegedly used the victim’s knife in wounding the latter to repel his supposed unlawful aggression. The fact that the only injury suffered by the accused was a contusion in the right thigh shows the fabricated character of his plea of self-defense. As shown by the Solicitor General, the testimonies of Trinidad Banon and Antonio Aliparo in support of the theory of self-defense are not truthful.

2. ID.; ID.; ID.; IDENTITY OF ACCUSED AS ASSAILANT PROVEN BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT. — The other points raised in appellant’s brief, namely, the conjectural nature of the doctor’s opinion that the wounds were caused by different weapon, the failure of the prosecution to prove the motive for the assault, the nonproduction of the weapon allegedly used by Manzures and the failure to present the barrio captain as a witness, do not generate any doubt as to appellant’s guilt. His identity as the person who inflicted the mortal abdominal wound was proven beyond reasonable doubt.

3. CRIMINAL LAW; MURDER; PENALTY IMPOSABLE IN CASE AT BAR. — The crime committed the two assailants is murder qualified by treachery which absorbs nocturnity and abuse of superiority. Evident premeditation was not proven. There being no modifying circumstances, the trial court did not err in imposing the penalty of reclusion perpetua.

4. ID.; ID.; ID.; JUDGMENT OF CONVICTION AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATION. — The trial court’s judgment is affirmed with the slight modification that liability for the payment of the indemnity of P24,000 is solidary with that of his co-accused.


D E C I S I O N


AQUINO, J.:


Arturo Manzures and Gerardo Malfarta appealed from the decision of the Court of First Instance of South Cotabato, finding them guilty of murder, sentencing them to reclusion perpetua and ordering them to pay P24,000 as indemnity to the heirs of Cesar Valenzuela (Criminal Case No. 316). Malfarta withdrew his appeal. The withdrawal was allowed in the resolution of July 15, 1981 (p. 145, Rollo).cralawnad

According to the prosecution, in the evening of November 15, 1969, while Cesar Valenzuela, 25, with his sweetheart, Milagros Eliseo, was at the dance hall in Barrio Lamsogod, Surallah, South Cotabato, Gerardo Malfarta, 20, who was at his back, suddenly stabbed him on the right arm. Then, Arturo Manzures, 21, a cousin of Malfarta, grappled with Valenzuela and stabbed him in the abdomen.

Valenzuela fell on a desk, holding his abdominal wound. In that position, he was able to kick Manzures in the thigh. Milagros shouted for help. The two assailants fled to the house of their uncle at Barrio Lambontong.

Valenzuela was brought to the hospital. He died there a few minutes after his arrival (Exh. A). The autopsy disclosed that the abdominal wound affected Valenzuela’s stomach and liver. When he was wounded in the arm, his medial and fourth ribs were also hit. The brachial artery and vein were completely cut (Exh. B). Doctor Velasquez testified that the wounds were caused by two different bladed weapons.

Malfarta and Manzures were arrested in the afternoon of the following day while trying to flee from their uncle’s house. During the investigation, Manzures admitted having stabbed Valenzuela (3-13 tsn, Feb. 22, 1972).

At the trial, Manzures claimed that he acted in self-defense and in his brief he assails the credibility of Milagros Eliseo, the prosecution eyewitness, whose testimony was the basis of the judgment of conviction.

We have read carefully her testimony which is a substantial reproduction of her statement to the chief of police (Exh. C). We find it to be credible. It belies Manzures’ claim of self-defense. The trial court meticulously scrutinized Manzures’ testimony and cited several circumstances to show that he did not act in self-defense.

He testified that Valenzuela kicked him, then boxed him on the right cheek, rendering him unconscious, and then rode on him and squeezed his neck. Manzures allegedly used Valenzuela’s knife in wounding the latter to repel his supposed unlawful aggression.

The fact that the only injury suffered by Manzures was a contusion in the right thigh (Exh. 2) shows the fabricated character of his plea of self-defense. As shown by the Solicitor General, the testimonies of Trinidad Bañon and Antonio Aliparo in support of the theory of self-defense are not truthful.

The other points raised in appellant’s brief, namely, the conjectural nature of the doctor’s opinion that the wounds were caused by different weapons, the failure of the prosecution to prove the motive for the assault, the nonproduction of the weapon allegedly used by Manzures and the failure to present the barrio captain as a witness, do not generate any doubt as to appellant’s guilt. His identity as the person who inflicted the mortal abdominal wound was proven beyond reasonable doubt. Valenzuela did not perpetrate any unlawful aggression against Manzures.chanrobles virtual lawlibrary

The crime committed by the two assailants is murder qualified by treachery which absorbs nocturnity and abuse of superiority. Evident premeditation was not proven. There being no modifying circumstances, the trial court did not err in imposing the penalty of reclusion perpetua.

The trial court’s judgment is affirmed with the slight modification that Arturo Manzures’ liability for the payment of the indemnity of P24,000 is solidary with that of his co-accused, Gerardo Malfarta. Costs de oficio.

SO ORDERED.

Barredo (Chairman), De Castro, Ericta and Escolin, JJ., concur.

Concepcion Jr. and Abad Santos, JJ., are on leave.

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