G.R. No. 201572, July 09, 2014
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee, v. RAEL DELFIN, Appellant.
D E C I S I O N
That on or about the 27th day of November 2000, in Navotas, Metro Manila, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, armed with a gun, with intent to kill, treachery and evident premeditation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and shoot with the said weapon one EMILIO ENRIQUEZ, hitting the victim on his chest, thereby inflicting upon the victim gunshot wound, which caused his immediate death.
CONTRARY TO LAW.4
- At about 10:45 p.m. of 27 September 2000, Joan was standing outside Emilio’s house at R. Domingo St., Tangos, Navotas City. From there, Joan was able to see Emilio talking over the telephone at a store just across his house. Also at the store during that time was the appellant who was seated on a bench to the left of Emilio.
- Joan then went inside Emilio’s house. Almost immediately after going inside the house, Joan heard the sound of a gunshot. Joan rushed outside of the house and saw Emilio shot in the head and sprawled on the ground. Joan then saw the appellant, now holding a gun, firing another shot at Emilio.
- Joan said that she was not aware of any previous misunderstanding between Emilio and the appellant; neither did she observe any altercation brewing nor hear any word spoken between Emilio and appellant prior to the shooting.
Sec. 6. Sufficiency of complaint or information. – A complaint or information is sufficient if it states the name of the accused; the designation of the offense given by the statute; the acts or omissions complained of as constituting the offense; the name of the offended party; the approximate date of the commission of the offense; and the place where the offense was committed.
When an offense is committed by more than one person, all of them shall be included in the complaint or information.
Sec. 11. Date of commission of the offense. - It is not necessary to state in the complaint or information the precise date the offense was committed except when it is a material ingredient of the offense. The offense may be alleged to have been committed on a date as near as possible to the actual date of its commission. (Emphasis supplied).
The amendment proposed in the present case consists in changing the date of the commission of the crime charged from June 18, 1952 to July, 1947. In not permitting the amendment the learned trial Judge said:“It is a cardinal rule in criminal procedure that the precise time at which an offense was committed need not be alleged in the complaint or information, but it is required that the act be alleged to have been committed at any time as near to the actual date at which the offense was committed as the information or complaint would permit (Rule 106, section 10). The reason for this rule is obvious. It is to apprise the accused of the approximate date when the offense charged was committed in order to enable him to prepare his defense and thus avoid a surprise. In the case at bar, the proof shows that the carabao was lost on July 25, 1947 and not on June 18, 1952 as alleged in the information. The period of almost five years between 1947 and 1952 covers such a long stretch of time that one cannot help but be led to believe that another theft different from that committed by the Defendants in 1952 was also perpetrated by them in 1947. Under this impression the accused, who came to court prepared to face a charge of theft of large cattle allegedly committed by them in 1952, were certainly caught by sudden surprise upon being confronted by evidence tending to prove a similar offense committed in 1947. The variance is certainly unfair to them, for it violates their constitutional right to be informed before the trial of the specific charge against them and deprives them of the opportunity to defend themselves. Moreover, they cannot be convicted of an offense with which they are not charged.His Honor has we think adduced good reasons for considering the amendment as referring to substance and not merely to form. But even supposing it to be the contrary, its allowance, after the Defendants had pleaded, was discretionary with the court and would be proper only if it would not prejudice their rights. We are not prepare to say that the court did not make good use of that discretion in disallowing the amendment, considering that the variance sought to be introduced thereby would appear to be really unfair to the Defendants, for as clearly explained by the court “it violates their constitutional right to be informed before the trial of the specific charge against them and deprives them of the opportunity to defend themselves.”17 (Emphasis supplied).
“It is also a cardinal rule in criminal procedure that after the Defendant has entered his plea, the information or complaint may be amended only as to all matters of form when the same can be done without prejudice to the rights of the Defendant (Rule 196, section 13). An amendment that would change the date of the commission of the offense from 1947 to 1952 is certainly not a matter of form. The difference in date could not be attributed to a clerical error, because the possibility of such an error is ruled out by the fact that the difference is not only in the year, but also in the month and in the last two digits of the year. It is apparent that the proposed amendment concerns with material facts constituting the offense, and consequently it would be prejudicial to the substantial rights of the Defendants.”
Time and again, it has been stressed that the factual findings of the trial court, its calibration of the testimonies of the witnesses, and its assessment of their probative weight is given high respect, if not conclusive effect, unless it is ignored, misconstrued, misunderstood, or misinterpreted cogent facts and circumstances of substance which, if considered, will alter the outcome of the case.22
As correctly found by the trial court, the testimony of prosecution witness, Joan, was clear, candid, straightforward, positive and credible, as against the denial and alibi of the [appellant]. She positively identified the [appellant] as the perpetrator of the crime. x x x.
It should be emphasized that the testimony of a single eye-witness, if positive and credible, is sufficient to support a conviction even in a charge of murder.23 Considering that Joan’s account of how the [appellant] killed [Emilio] was clear, credible, and positive, there is, thus, no compelling reason to disturb the trial court’s reliance on her testimony.
As to the [appellant’s] defense of denial and alibi, the same are unavailing and worthless in the face of the positive identification by the prosecution’s witness x x x.
x x x. Moreover, for the defense of alibi to prosper, it must be proven that the [accused] was at some other place at the time the crime was committed and that it was physically impossible for him to be at the locus criminis at the time [the offense was committed].24 x x x.
At bench, the [appellant] has not shown the impossibility of his committing the crime as even, Rene, the witness who was supposed to corroborate his alibi, admitted that they went back home at 4:00 o’clock in the morning of September 27, 2000 and were already at Navotas City at the time the incident occurred. Thus, it was certainly possible for him to be present at the crime scene despite his allegations to the contrary. Hence, based on all the foregoing evidence, he is, without a doubt, the perpetrator of the crime.
Concededly, the [appellant’s] attack on the unarmed [Emilio] was sudden, unprovoked, unexpected and deliberate. Before the attack was made, [Emilio] was merely conversing with another on the phone. He was undoubtedly in no position and without any means to defend himself. By all indications, [Emilio] was left with no opportunity to evade the gunshots, to defend himself, or to retaliate. For this reason, the [RTC] correctly appreciated treachery as a circumstance to qualify the offense as Murder.25
1 By way of an ordinary appeal pursuant to Section 3(c) of Rule 122 of the Rules of Court.
2 The decision was penned by Associate Justice Normandie B. Pizarro for the Seventh (7th) Division of the Court of Appeals with Associate Justices Amelita G. Tolentino and Rodil V. Zalameda concurring; rollo, pp. 2-14.
3 The case was docketed as Criminal Case No. 24311-MN and was raffled to Branch 170.
4 CA rollo, p. 7.
5 TSN, 5 September 2006.
6 Records, pp. 99-101.
7 TSN dated 21 October 2008.
8 TSN dated 25 November 2008.
9 CA rollo, pp. 124-128. The decision was penned by Judge Hector B. Almeyda.
10Art. 248. Murder. — Any person who, not falling within the provisions of Article 246 shall kill another, shall be guilty of murder and shall be punished by reclusion temporal in its maximum period to death, if committed with any of the following attendant circumstances:
11 CA rollo, p. 194.
- With treachery, taking advantage of superior strength, with the aid of armed men, or employing means to weaken the defense or of means or persons to insure or afford impunity.
- x x x.
12 Rules of Court, Rule 110, Sections 6 and 11.
13Rocaberte v. People, G.R. No. 72994, 23 January 1991, 193 SCRA 152, 156.
14 U.S. v. Cardona, 1 Phil. 381, 383 (1902).
15 Section 14, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court provides:
Section 14. Amendment or substitution. — A complaint or information may be amended, in form or in substance, without leave of court, at any time before the accused enters his plea. After the plea and during the trial, a formal amendment may only be made with leave of court and when it can be done without causing prejudice to the rights of the accused.
However, any amendment before plea, which downgrades the nature of the offense charged in or excludes any accused from the complaint or information, can be made only upon motion by the prosecutor, with notice to the offended party and with leave of court. The court shall state its reasons in resolving the motion and copies of its order shall be furnished all parties, especially the offended party.
If it appears at any time before judgment that a mistake has been made in charging the proper offense, the court shall dismiss the original complaint or information upon the filing of a new one charging the proper offense in accordance with section 19, Rule 119, provided the accused shall not be placed in double jeopardy. The court may require the witnesses to give bail for their appearance at the trial. (Emphasis supplied).
16 98 Phil. 698 (1956). Reiterated in People v. Hon. Reyes, 195 Phil. 94, 100-101 (1981).
17 People v. Opemia, id. at 700-701.
18 Records, p. 5.
19 Id. at 3.
20 See analogous cases in People v. Rivera, 144 Phil. 687, 692 (1970) and U.S. v. Ramos, 23 Phil. 300, 307 (1912).
21Rollo, pp. 9-11.
22 See People v. Quigod, G.R. No. 186419, 23 April 2010, 619 SCRA 407, 416-417.
23 See People v. Zeta, 573 Phil. 125, 145 (2008).
24 See People v. Bucayo, 577 Phil. 355, 361 (2008).
25 Rollo, p. 12.
26People v. Lopez, G.R. No. 184596, 24 March 2014.
27People v. Dadao, G.R. No. 201860, 22 January 2014.