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G.R. No. 177751 - People of the Philippines v. Florencio Agacer, et al.

G.R. No. 177751 - People of the Philippines v. Florencio Agacer, et al.

PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

SPECIAL FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 177751 : January 7, 2013

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v.FLORENCIO AGACER,* EDDIE AGACER, ELYNOR AGACER, FRANKLIN AGACER and ERIC*** AGACER, Accused-Appellants.

R E S O L U T I O N

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

For resolution is appellants' Motion for Reconsideration1 of our December 14, 2011 Decision2 affirming their conviction for the murder of Cesario Agacer, the dispositive portion of which reads as follows:cralawlibrary

WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the November 17, 2006 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 01543 which affirmed the August 7, 2001 Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 8, Aparri, Cagayan, finding appellants Florencio, Franklin, Elynor, Eddie and Eric, all surnamed Agacer. guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder, with the following modifications:cralawlibrary

(1) actual damages is DELETED;

(2) the appellants are ORDERED to pay the heirs of Cesario Agacer P25,000.0 as temperate damages; and

(3) the appellants are ORDERED to pay the heirs of Cesario Agacer h interest at the legal rate of six percent (6%) per annum on all the amounts of damages awarded, commencing from the date of finality of this Decision until fully paid.ςηαñrοblεš νιr†υαl lαω lιbrαrÿ

Costs against appellants.

SO ORDERED.3ςrνl1

Appellants assert that their mere presence at the scene of the crime is not evidence of conspiracy;4 that there was no treachery since a heated argument preceded the killing of the victim;5 and that even assuming that their guilt was duly established, the privileged mitigating circumstance of minority should have been appreciated in favor of appellant Franklin Agacer (Franklin) who was only 16 years and 106 days old at the time of the incident, having been born on December 21, 1981.6ςrνl1

In our February 13, 2012 Resolution,7 we required the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to comment on the Motion for Reconsideration particularly on the issue of Franklins minority.

Meanwhile, in a letter8 dated June 8, 2012, the Officer-in-Charge of the New Bilibid Prison, informed us that appellant Florencio Agacer (Florencio) died on February 17, 2007, as evidenced by the attached Certificate of Death indicating cardio pulmonary arrest secondary to status asthmaticus as the cause of death.9ςrνl1

The OSG, in its Comment,10 asserts that there exists no cogent reason to disturb our findings and conclusions as to the guilt of the appellants since the facts and evidence clearly established conspiracy and treachery. However, it did not oppose and even agreed with appellants argument that minority should have been appreciated as a privileged mitigating circumstance in favor of Franklin, the same being duly supported by a copy of Franklins Certificate of Live Birth secured from the National Statistics Office (NSO) Document Management Division.11ςrνl1

Issues

Hence, the following issues for our resolution:cralawlibrary

1. Was the evidence sufficient to establish the existence of conspiracy and treachery in the commission of the crime charged?

2. Should the mitigating circumstance of minority be appreciated in favor of appellant Franklin?

3. Does the death of appellant Florencio extinguish his criminal and civil liabilities?

Our Ruling

There is partial merit in appellants Motion for Reconsideration.

Reiterated Arguments in a Motion for Reconsideration Do Not Need a New Judicial Determination.

Appellants contention that the prosecutions evidence is insufficient to prove conspiracy and treachery is a mere rehash of their argument set forth in their brief, "which we already considered, weighed and resolved before we rendered the Decision sought to be reconsidered."12 It is not a new issue that needs further judicial determination.13 There is therefore no necessity to discuss and rule again on this ground since "this would be a useless formality of ritual invariably involving merely a reiteration of the reasons already set forth in the judgment or final order for rejecting the arguments advanced by the movant."14ςrνl1

As a Minor, Franklin is Entitled to the Privileged Mitigating Circumstance of Minority.

Nevertheless, we agree with appellants that Franklin is entitled to the privileged mitigating circumstance of minority. Franklins Certificate of Live Birth shows that he was born on December 20, 1981, hence, was merely 16 years old at the time of the commission of the crime on April 2, 1998. He is therefore entitled to the privileged mitigating circumstance of minority embodied in Article 68(2) of the Revised Penal Code. It provides that when the offender is a minor over 15 and under 18 years, the penalty next lower than that prescribed by law shall be imposed on the accused but always in the proper period. The rationale of the law in extending such leniency and compassion is that because of his age, the accused is presumed to have acted with less discernment.15 This is regardless of the fact that his minority was not proved during the trial and that his birth certificate was belatedly presented for our consideration, since to rule accordingly will not adversely affect the rights of the state, the victim and his heirs.

Penalty to be Imposed Upon Franklin.

Pursuant to the above discussion, the penalty imposed upon Franklin must be accordingly modified. The penalty for murder is reclusion perpetua to death. A degree lower is reclusion temporal.16 There being no aggravating and ordinary mitigating circumstance, the penalty to be imposed on Franklin should be reclusion temporal in its medium period, as maximum, which ranges from fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months and one (1) day to seventeen (17) years and four (4) months.17 Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the penalty next lower in degree is prision mayor, the medium period of which ranges from eight (8) years and one (1) day to ten (10) years. Due to the seriousness of the crime and the manner it was committed, the penalty must be imposed at its most severe range.

The Death of Florencio Prior to Our Final Judgment Extinguishes His Criminal Liability and Civil Liability Ex Delicto.

On the effect of the death of appellant Florencio on his criminal liability, Article 89(1) of the Revised Penal Code provides that:cralawlibrary

Art. 89. How criminal liability is totally extinguished. Criminal liability is totally extinguished.

1. By the death of the convict, as to the personal penalties; and as to pecuniary penalties, liability therefor is extinguished only when the death of the offender occurs before final judgment;

x x x

It is also settled that "upon the death of the accused pending appeal of his conviction, the criminal action is extinguished inasmuch as there is no longer a defendant to stand as the accused; the civil action instituted therein for recovery of civil liability ex delicto is ipso facto extinguished, grounded as it is on the criminal."18ςrνl1

While Florencio died way back on February 7, 2007, the said information was not timely relayed to the Court, such that we were unaware of the same when we rendered our December 14, 2011 Decision. It was only later that we were informed of Florencios death through the June 8, 2012 letter of the Officer-in- Charge of the New Bilibid Prison. Due to this development, it therefore becomes necessary for us to declare Florencio 's criminal liability as well as his civil liability ex delicto to have been extinguished by his death prior to final judgment. The judgment or conviction is thus set aside insofar as Florencio is concerned.

WHEREFORE, appellants' Motion for Reconsideration is PARTIALLY GRANTED. Our Decision dated December 14, 2011 is MODIFIED as follows: (a) appellant Franklin Agacer is sentenced to suffer the penalty often (10) years of prision mayor in its medium period, as minimum, to seventeen (17) years and four ( 4) months of reclusion temporal in its medium period, as maximum, and (b) the criminal liability and civil liability ex delicto of appellant Florencio Agacer are declared EXTINGUISHED by his death prior to final judgment. The judgment or conviction against him is therefore SET ASIDE.

SO ORDERED.


Endnotes:


* Deceased as of February 17, 2007. Rollo, p. 100.

** Per raffle dated November 14, 2012.

*** Also spelled as Erick in some parts of the records.

1 Rollo. pp. 88-93.

2 Id. at 67-82.

3 Id. at 81.

4 Id. at 89.

5 Id. at 89-90.

6 Id. at 90-91.

7 Id. at 94.

8 Id. at 99.

9 Id. at 100.

10 Id. at 111-122.

11 Id. at 121.

12 People v. Larrañaga, 502 Phil. 231, 240 (2005).

13 Id.

14 Id. at 239-240, citing Ortigas and Co. Ltd. Partnership v. Judge Velasco, 324 Phil. 483, 491 (1996).

15 People v. Larrañaga, 516 Phil. 524, 525 (2006).

16 Id. at 529.

17 Id.

18 De Guzman v. People, 459 Phil. 576, 580 (2003), citing People V. Bayotas, G.R. No. 102007, September 2, 1994, 236 SCRA 239, 255.

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