G.R. No. 197813, September 25, 2013
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. EDWIN IBAÑEZ Y ALBANTE AND ALFREDO (FREDDIE) NULLA Y IBAÑEZ, Accused-Appellants.
D E C I S I O N
The undersigned Asst. Provincial Prosecutor accuses Jesus Montisillo y Taniares @ Dodong, Edwin Ibañez y Albante and Alfredo (Freddie) Nulla y Ibañez of the crime of murder, penalized under the provisions of Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, committed as follows:During arraignment, Edwin and Alfredo pleaded not guilty. Jesus, on the other hand, remained at large; the case against him was archived. Thereafter, trial ensued.
That on or about the 29th day of August, 2004, in the municipality of Bocaue, province of Bulacan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, armed with a soil digger (bareta) and with intent to kill one Wilfredo Atendido y Dohenog, conspiring, confederating and helping one another did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with evident premeditation, abuse of superior strength and treachery, attack, assault and hit with the said soil digger (bareta) the said Wilfredo Atendido y Dohenog, hitting the latter on his head, thereby inflicting upon him serious physical injuries which directly caused his death.4
As previously adverted to, the trial court convicted Edwin and Alfredo of Murder. It disposed of the case, to wit:chanrobles virtua1aw 1ibrary
(1) She sold doormats for a living which she peddled on the road; (2) On 29 August 2004, Rachel helped her in selling the doormats; (3) On that day, they finished at around 6:00 p.m. and headed to their respective residences along the railroad track; (4) Upon arriving at their vicinity, Aniceta witnessed the immediate aftermath of the purported fight between Jesus and Wilfredo; (5) At that juncture, Jesus was being embraced by his sister, Marilou, and the two were two meters away from the body of Wilfredo; (6) Marilou recounted to Aniceta that Jesus had hit Wilfredo with an iron bar, a preemptive move because Wilfredo was about to stab Jesus; (7) While Aniceta and Marilou discussed the incident, Rachel stood and listened to them; (8) At that time, only the four of them, Jesus, Marilou, Aniceta and Rachel, were at the place of the incident; (9) After learning the entirety of what had transpired, Aniceta, who was afraid to get involved, and Rachel, ran to their respective houses; (10) For the duration of the day, Aniceta did not step out of her house, neither did she volunteer information to the police when the case was investigated in the following days; and (11) Aniceta only came forward to testify at the request of Adela Ibañez, wife of Edwin.
WHEREFORE, accused Edwin Ibañez y Albante and Alfredo (Freddie) Nulla y Ibañez are hereby found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder and are hereby sentenced to suffer imprisonment of reclusion perpetua and to indemnify the heirs of Wilfredo D. Atendido in the amount of:On appeal, Edwin and Alfredo found no reprieve. The Court of Appeals did not deviate from the RTC’s ruling and affirmed in toto its finding of guilt.
a) Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) as civil indemnity; b) Twenty-Five Thousand Pesos (P25,000.00) as temperate damages; c) Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) as moral damages; d) Twenty-Five Thousand Pesos (P25,000.00) as exemplary damages; and e) One Million Nine Hundred Forty-Six Thousand and One Hundred Eighty Pesos (P1,946,180.00) for the unearned income of Wilfredo Atendido.4
In sum, the issue is whether the accused are guilty of murder.
THE [LOWER COURTS] GRAVELY ERRED IN GIVING FULL WEIGHT AND CREDENCE TO THE TESTIMONY OF THE ALLEGED PROSECUTION EYEWITNESS.
THE [LOWER COURTS] GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT GIVING WEIGHT AND CREDENCE TO THE DEFENSE[‘S] EVIDENCE.
THE [LOWER COURTS] GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS WHEN THEIR GUILT WAS NOT PROVEN BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.5
This Court finds the testimony of Rachel clear and convincing. The testimony flows from a person who was present in the place where the killing occurred. They are replete with details sufficient to shift the burden of evidence to appellants. We have no reason to doubt Rachel’s credibility. Her candid account of the incident, standing alone, clearly established the components of the crime of murder. Appellants’ defense of denial, not sufficiently proven, cannot overcome the conclusions drawn from said evidence. We find no cogent reason to deviate from the findings and conclusions of the trial court. Rachel’s testimony was delivered in a firm, candid, and straightforward manner. There is no showing that Rachel wavered from the basic facts of her testimony, even when she was subjected to a rigorous examination.We find no error in the lower courts’ disposal of the issue.
Rachel was only ten (10) years old when she witnessed the murder of the victim. She testified in open court two (2) years later. Thus, she cannot be expected to give an error-free narration of the events that happened two years earlier. The alleged inconsistencies between her sworn statement and testimony referred to by appellants do not affect her credibility. What is important is that in all her narrations she consistently and clearly identified appellants as the perpetrators of the crime. Inconsistencies between the sworn statement and the testimony in court do not militate against witness’ credibility since sworn statements are generally considered inferior to the testimony in open court.6
As the lower courts have done, we accord full faith and credence to Rachel’s testimony. She was young and unschooled, but her narration of the incident was categorical, without wavering. It has no markings of a concocted story, impressed upon her by other people.
PROS. LAGROSA: Your Honor please, may we invoke the right of the child the provisions (sic) under the child witness wherein we can ask leading questions and in Tagalog. COURT: Anyway, the questions can be interpreted. PROS. LAGROSA: Only the leading questions, your Honor. Q: You said that your father came from sleeping in your house, did you know what time of the day your father [went] to sleep? A: I do not know because I do not know how to read time. x x x x Q: But do you know whether or when your father went to sleep[?] It was morning, noon or afternoon or nighttime or daytime? A: “Hapon po.” (In the afternoon.) Q: Early afternoon, late afternoon or mid-afternoon? A: Late in the afternoon, Your Honor. (“bandang hapon-hapon po.”) Q: Was it already dark? A: Not yet, your Honor. PROS. LAGROSA: Q: According to you[,] your father went to sleep, where were you when your father went to sleep? A: I was in the house, ma’am. x x x x Q: And when your father woke up, were you still in the house? A: Yes, ma’am. Q: Also inside the house? A: Yes, ma’am. Q: When your father woke up, what did he do? A: All of us ate rice, ma’am. (“Kumain po kaming lahat ng kanin.”) Q: Can you tell us if that is already dark or still daytime? A: It was still daytime, ma’am. x x x x Q: After eating rice, will you tell us what happened, if you still remember? A: My father was called by his compadre, ma’am. Q: And who was that compadre who called your father? A: Freddie, ma’am. Q: Do you know the full name of this Freddie? A: Freddie Nulla, ma’am. Q: Why do you know Freddie Nulla? A: He is a compadre of my father, ma’am. Q: Did you often see him in your place? A: Yes, ma’am. Q: Is Freddie Nulla now here in court? A: Yes, ma’am. Q: Will you look around and point to him? INTERPRETER: Witness pointed to a detention prisoner (sic) when asked to identify himself answered FREDDIE NULLA. Q: Now, you said that Freddie Nulla, the compadre, called your father, do you still remember how he was called? A: Yes, ma’am. Q: How? A: “Pare. Pare.” Q: And when your father was called, what did your father do? A: My father followed Freddie at the back of the house of Kuya Edwin. Q: At the time your father followed Freddie at the back of the house of your Kuya Edwin, where were you? A: I was under the house of Kuya Unyo, ma’am. Q: Now, you mentioned that your father followed Freddie at the back of the house of Kuya Edwin, who is this Kuya Edwin? INTERPRETER: Witness pointing to a detention prisoner who identified himself as EDWIN IBAÑEZ. PROS. LAGROSA: Q: You said that at that time you were under the house of Kuya Unyo, what is the full name of this Kuya Unyo, if you know? A: I do not know, ma’am. Q: What were you doing under the house of Kuya Unyo? A: I was throwing stones, ma’am. Q: And this house of Kuya Unyo, is that near or far from your house? A: Just near our house, ma’am. Q: Can you point a place here where you are now sitted (sic) up to this courtroom to show the distance between your house and the house of Kuya Unyo? PROS. LAGROSA The witness pointed up to the wall. ATTY. MALLILLIN[:] Can we estimate, your Honor. A: Just near, ma’am, 3 to 4 meters.9 x x x x Q: Rachel, last time you testified that your father followed Freddie Nulla at the back of the house of Kuya Unyo and at that time you were under the house of Kuya Unyo, do you remember having stated that last time? A: Yes, ma’am. Q: While you were at the house of Kuya Unyo, do you remember anything unusual that happened at that time? A: When my father was being killed, ma’am. Q: You said that your father was being killed or “pinapatay na po si papa ko[,]” who killed your father? A: Kuya Edwin, Kuya Freddie and Kuya Dodong, ma’am. Q: You said that Kuya Freddie, Kuya Edwin and Kuya Dodong were killing your father, how did Kuya Edwin[,] how was he killing your father as you said? A: “Pinuluputan po sa mukha ng damit ni Kuya Edwin.” (Kuya Edwin put around a piece of cloth)[.] Q: You said that Kuya Edwin put around a piece of cloth on your papa, in what part of your father’s body (sic) that cloth being put around by Kuya Edwin? A: He put it around all over the face and the head, ma’am. PROS. LAGROSA: The witness was demonstrating by making a circling movement or motion of her hand all over the head and the face. Q: And then what happened when Kuya Edwin put around that piece of cloth all over the head and face of your papa? A: “Itinumba po siya.” Q: You said “itinumba po siya[,]” who caused your father to tumble down? A: After Kuya Edwin had put around the piece of cloth on my father[,] he tumbled him down. Q: And when your father tumbled down, what else happened? A: Kuya Freddie boxed him, ma’am. Q: Did you see in what part of your father’s body was he boxed by Kuya Freddie? A: Yes, ma’am. Q: What part of his body was boxed? A: On the left portion of the shoulder blade, ma’am. Q: And how about Kuya Dodong when Kuya Edwin put around a piece of cloth and when Kuya Freddie boxed your father, where was Kuya Dodong at that time? A: He was also there, ma’am. Q: And what was he doing[,] if he was doing anything at that time? A: “Binareta na po ‘yong papa ko sa ulo.” COURT: Q: What did he use noong “binareta”? A: It is a long iron bar used in digging soil? PROS. LAGROSA: Q: Now, what happened after Kuya Dodong “binareta” (sic) your father on the head? A: “Nandoon pa po ako sa silong nila Kuya Unyo nakita ko nalang po nandoon na po ang nanay ko pati po mga kapatid ko tsaka na po ako lumabas.”10
SEC. 36. Testimony generally confined to personal knowledge; hearsay excluded. – A witness can testify only to those facts which he knows of his personal knowledge; that is, which are derived from his own perception, except as otherwise provided in these rules.We detect a clever, albeit transparent ploy, to pin Jesus who had already fled and is temporarily out of reach of the law. Thus, with Jesus temporarily shielded from punishment, accused-appellants freely accuse and point to him as the sole perpetrator of the crime. This cannot trump the solid testimony of Rachel on accused-appellants’ direct participation in killing Wilfredo.
[T]he essence of treachery is the sudden and unexpected attack by an aggressor without the slightest provocation on the part of the victim, depriving the latter of any real chance to defend himself, thereby ensuring its commission without risk to the aggressor. Treachery attended the killing of the victim because he was unarmed and the attack on him was swift and sudden. He had not means and there was no time for him to defend himself. Indeed, nothing can be more sudden and unexpected than when [petitioners] Edwin and Alfredo attacked the victim. The latter did not have the slightest idea that he was going to be attacked because he was urinating and his back was turned from his assailants. The prosecution was able to establish that [petitioners’] attack on the victim was without any slightest provocation on the latter’s part and that it was sudden and unexpected. This is a clear case of treachery.14Finally, we affirm the lower court’s award of damages consistent with jurisprudence:15 (1) P50,000.00 as civil indemnity; (2) P25,000.00 as temperate damages; and (3) P50,000.00 as moral damages. Consistent with current jurisprudence, we increase the award of exemplary damages from P25,000.00 to P30,000.00.16 However, we delete the award of P1,946,180.00 representing the unearned income of Wilfredo.
* Per Special Order No. 1560 dated 24 September 2013.cralawnad
1 Penned by Associate Justice Magdangal M. De Leon with Associate Justices Mario V. Lopez and Rodil V. Zalameda, concurring. Rollo. pp. 2-16
2 Presided by Presiding Judge Victoria C. Fernandez-Bernardo. Records, pp. 271-290.cralawnad
3 Used interchangeably with Montisillo as per CA Rollo and RTC records.cralawnad
4 Id. at 2.cralawnad
5 CA Rollo, p. 42.cralawnad
6Rollo, p. 12.cralawnad
7People v. Cawaling, G.R. No. 157147, 17 April 2009, 586 SCRA 1, 23-24.cralawnad
9 TSN, 26 April 2006, pp. 4-9.cralawnad
10 TSN, 10 May 2006, pp. 2-4.cralawnad
11 Rules of Court, Rule 130, Secs. 20 and 21.cralawnad
12People v. Hermosa, 417 Phil. 132, 144-145 (2001).cralawnad
13 See People v. Silvano, 431 Phil. 351, 363 (2002).cralawnad
14Rollo, p. 14.cralawnad
15People v. Molina, G.R. No. 184173, 13 March 2009, 581 SCRA 519, 542-543.cralawnad
16People v. Barde G.R. No. 183094, 22 September 2010, 631 SCRA 187, 220.cralawnad
17People v. Ereño, 383 Phil. 30, 46 (2000).cralawnad
19 448 Phil. 78, 97 (2003).cralawnad
20 See Wage Order No. 17, effective on 11 October 2012:chanrobles virtua1aw 1ibraryhttp://www.nwpc.dole.gov.ph/pages/statistics/stat_current_regional.html; last visited 9 September 2013.
SUMMARY OF CURRENT REGIONAL DAILY MINIMUM WAGE RATES
As of August 2013
NON- AGRICULTURE AGRICULTURE Plantation Non-Plantation 285.00 - 336.00 270.00 - 306.00 258.00 - 290.00
Article 2206. The amount of damages for death caused by a crime or quasi-delict shall be at least three thousand pesos, even though there may have been mitigating circumstances. In addition:chanrobles virtua1aw 1ibraryAs a general rule, this Court holds that "documentary evidence should be presented to substantiate a claim for loss of earning capacity [but] by way of exception, [this] may be awarded despite the absence of documentary evidence when (1) the deceased is self-employed and earning less than the minimum wage under current labor laws, in which case, judicial notice may be taken of the fact that in the deceased’s line of work, no documentary evidence is available; or (2) the deceased is employed as a daily wage worker earning less than the minimum wage under current labor laws.”1cralaw virtualaw library(1) The defendant shall be liable for the loss of the earning capacity of the deceased, and the indemnity shall be paid to the heirs of the latter; such indemnity shall in every case be assessed and awarded by the court, unless the deceased on account of permanent physical disability not caused by the defendant, had no earning capacity at the time of his death[.]
1See Tan v. OMC Carriers Inc., G.R. No. 190521, January 12, 2011, 639 SCRA 471, 483 citing Philippine Hawk Corporation v. Lee, G.R. No. 166869, February 16, 2010, 612 SCRA 576 and Licyayo v. People, G.R. No. 169425, March 4, 2008, 547 SCRA 598. See also Victory Liner Inc. v. Gammad, 486 Phil. 574, 590 (2004) citing People v. Oco, G.R. Nos. 137370-71, September 29, 2003, 412 SCRA 190, 222.cralawnad
2Victory Liner Inc. v. Gammad, 486 Phil. 574 (2004).cralawnad
3 Id. at 591.cralawnad
4People v. Oco, 458 Phil. 815 (2003).cralawnad
5 Id. at 855.cralawnad
6People v. Caraig, 448 Phil. 78 (2003).cralawnad
7 Id. at 98.cralawnad
8See Republic Act No. 8424, as amended, Sec. 24 (A)(2).cralawnad
9See Wage Order No. 17. This Order was effective October 11, 2012. Available at:
10 383 Phil. 30 (2000).cralawnad
11People v. Ereño, 383 Phil. 30, 45-46 (2000).cralawnad
12Tan v. OMC Carriers, Inc., supra note 1.cralawnad
13 Id. at 483-484.cralawnad
14See Wage Order No. NCR-18. This Order was effective October 4, 2013. Available at: .cralawnad
15See Jara v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 172896, April 19, 2010, 618 SCRA 406, 408.
“x x x factual findings of the trial court are generally accorded great weight and respect on appeal, especially when such findings are supported by substantial evidence on record.”
16Tan v. OMC Carriers, Inc., supra note 1, at 484.cralawnad
17 412 Phil. 842, 859 (2001).cralawnad
18Victory Liner Inc. v. Gammad, 486 Phil. 574, 591 (2004).cralawnad
19Tan v. OMC Carriers, Inc., supra note 1, at 484-485.