G.R. No. 196753, April 21, 2014
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff–Appellee, v. ERWIN LALOG, ROOSEVELT CONCEPCION, EDWIN RAMIREZ, AND RICKY LITADA, Accused–Appellants.
R E S O L U T I O N
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
On September 29, 1999 at around 8:00 o'clock in the evening, Ryan Gain [Gain], Roswel Mercado [Mercado], Rex Rey [Rey] and Jayson Manzo [Manzo] were strolling at the Municipal Park of Poblacion, Municipality of Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro, when they were blocked by four (4) persons, namely Erwin Lalog [Lalog], Roosevelt Concepcion [Concepcion], Edwin Ramirez [Ramirez] and Ricky Litada [Litada]. x x x Lalog angrily talked to x x x Gain, but x x x Mercado intervened and apologized to the group of x x x Lalog x x x.
Later, x x x Gain and x x x Mercado went down the stairs of the park locally known as the “RAINBOW[.]” x x x Mercado [was] walking ahead of x x x Gain by six (6) arms length[;] when he looked back, he saw x x x Gain being ganged upon by the group of the accused–appellants x x x [held] both the hands of x x x Gain, while x x x Lalog stabbed x x x Gain. x x x [Fearing for his life,] Roswel x x x immediately fled the scene.
Sensing that the assailants had left the scene, x x x Mercado approached x x x Gain and brought him to the hospital x x x but it was already too late for he was declared x x x [d]ead on [a]rrival x x x.
On the other hand, x x x Lalog admitted stabbing x x x Gain in self–defense, while the other three appellants, x x x Concepcion, x x x Ramirez, and x x x Litada denied their participation in the stabbing incident, claiming that the three of them were in a drinking session, in the house of [Ramirez’s aunt] in Quezon Street, Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro.1
ACCORDINGLY, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused Erwin Lalog, Roosevelt Concepcion, Edwin Ramirez and Ricky Litada guilty beyond reasonable doubt as principal[s] of the crime of MURDER for having conspired in killing Ryan Gain, qualified by treachery, which is defined and penalized under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code by RECLUSION PERPETUA to DEATH. Considering that there is neither a mitigating nor aggravating circumstance in the commission of the crime, all accused are hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA with all the accessory penalties and to jointly and severally pay the heirs of Ryan Gain the sum of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, the sum of P29,510 as expenses incurred during the wake of deceased Ryan Gain including the funeral expenses, the sum of P50,000.00 as moral damages and to pay costs of suit.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appealed Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro, in Criminal Case No. P–6043 convicting the accused–appellants of the crime of Murder and sentencing them to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua, with all the accessory penalties, and to jointly and severally pay the heirs of Ryan Gain the sum of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, the sum of P29,510.00 as expenses incurred during the wake of deceased Ryan Gain including the funeral expenses, the sum of P50,000.00 as moral damages and to pay costs of suit, is hereby AFFIRMED.
To avail of self–defense as a justifying circumstance so as not to incur any criminal liability, it must be proved with certainty by satisfactory and convincing evidence which excludes any vestige of criminal aggression on the part of the person invoking it. It cannot be entertained where it is not only uncorroborated by any separate competent evidence but is also doubtful. If the accused fails to discharge the burden of proof, his conviction, shall of necessity follow on the basis of his admission of the killing (People v. Suyum et. al. G.R. No. 137518, March 6, 2002).
The claim of x x x Lalog that he stabbed x x x Gain at the back portion of the latter’s body (Lumbar area) while the former was lying down is not only uncorroborated by any other evidence but it is improbable and contrary to the physical evidence because how could x x x Lalog [stab] x x x Gain’s back when the former was lying on the ground while the latter was on top and at the same time choking him. The testimony of prosecution witness x x x Mercado that x x x Gain was stabbed at his back by x x x Lalog while x x x [both his hands were being held by the other appellants] is more logical, believable and [in] consonance with the physical evidence. x x x Gain could not have been easily stabbed at his back if his x x x hands were not being held x x x considering that x x x Gain is much taller and bigger in built than the accused particularly x x x Lalog unless x x x Gain just simply let his back (lumbar area) [be] stabbed without any resistance or struggle on his part which is impossible under any state of circumstances. Furthermore, the number of wounds [sustained by Gain] (Exh. “A”) [is] indicative of x x x Lalog’s desire to kill the former and not really defend himself because not a single moment of the incident was his life and limb being endangered which is the essence of self–defense. The fact that the deceased x x x Gain was not armed all the more negates self–defense.9
1 CA rollo, pp. 155–156.
2 Records, p. 1.
3 Id. at 34.
5 Id. at 78–88; penned by Judge Recto A. Calabocal.
6 Id. at 87–88.
7 CA rollo, pp. 152–168; penned by Associate Justice Ruben C. Ayson and concurred in by Associate Justices Amelita G. Tolentino and Normandie B. Pizarro.
8 Id. at 167.
9 Records, pp. 82–83.
10 Section 3 of Republic Act No. 9346 (An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in the Philippines) provides: “Person 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. 4180, otherwise known as the Indeterminate Sentence Law, as amended.
11People v. Jalbonian, G.R. No. 180281, July 1, 2013, citing People v. Dela Cruz, G.R. No. 188353, February 16, 2010, 612 SCRA 738, 747.