G.R. No. 178512, November 26, 2014
ALFREDO DE GUZMAN, JR., Petitioner, v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
x x x [O]n December 24, 1997, at about ten o’clock in the evening, Alexander Flojo (hereafter “Alexander”) was fetching water below his rented house at 443 Aglipay Street, Old Zaniga St., Mandaluyong City when suddenly Alfredo De Guzman (hereafter “Alfredo”), the brother of his land lady, Lucila Bautista (hereafter “Lucila”), hit him on the nape. Alexander informed Lucila about what Alfredo did to him. Lucila apologized to Alexander by saying, “Pasensya ka na Mang Alex” and told the latter to just go up. Alexander obliged and went upstairs. He took a rest for about two hours. Thereafter, at around 12:00 to 12:15 A.M., Alexander went down and continued to fetch water. While pouring water into a container, Alfredo suddenly appeared in front of Alexander and stabbed him on his left face and chest.The RTC convicted the petitioner, decreeing thusly:
Cirilino Bantaya, a son-in-law of Alexander, saw the latter bleeding on the left portion of his body and begging for help. Alexander then told Cirilino that Alfredo stabbed him. Cirilino immediately loaded Alexander into his motorcycle (backride) and brought him to the Mandaluyong City Medical Center. Upon arrival at the hospital, the doctors immediately rendered medical assistance to Alexander. Alexander stayed in the emergency room of said hospital for about 30 to 40 minutes. Then, he was brought to the second floor of the said hospital where he was confined for two days. Thereafter, Alexander was transferred to the Polymedic General Hospital where he was subjected for (sic) further medical examination.
Alexander sustained two stabbed (sic) wounds. (sic) One of which was on the zygoma, left side, and about one (1) cm. long. The other is on his upper left chest which penetrated the fourth intercostal space at the proximal clavicular line measuring about two (2) cm. The second stabbed (sic) wound penetrated the thoracic wall and left lung of the victim which resulted to blood air (sic) in the thoracic cavity thus necessitating the insertion of a thoracostomy tube to remove the blood. According to Dr. Francisco Obmerga, the physician who treated the victim at the Mandaluyong City Medical Center, the second wound was fatal and could have caused Alexander’s death without timely medical intervention. (Tsn, July 8, 1998, p.8).
On the other hand, Alfredo denied having stabbed Alexander. According to him, on December 25, 1997 at around midnight, he passed by Alexander who was, then, fixing a motorcycle. At that point, he accidentally hit Alexander’s back, causing the latter to throw invective words against him. He felt insulted, thus, a fistfight ensued between them. They even rolled on the ground. Alfredo hit Alexander on the cheek causing blood to ooze from the latter’s face.3
PRESCINDING (sic) FROM THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, the court finds accused Alfredo De Guzman y Agkis a.k.a., “JUNIOR,” guilty beyond reasonable doubt for (sic) the crime of FRUSTRATED HOMICIDE defined and penalized in Article 250 of the Revised Penal Code and in the absence of any modifying circumstance, he is hereby sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of Six (6) Months and One (1) day of PRISION CORR[R]ECCIONAL as MINIMUM to Six (6) Years and One (1) day of PRISION MAYOR as MAXIMUM.On appeal, the petitioner contended that his guilt had not been proved beyond reasonable doubt; that intent to kill, the critical element of the crime charged, was not established; that the injuries sustained by Alexander were mere scuffmarks inflicted in the heat of anger during the fistfight between them; that he did not inflict the stab wounds, insisting that another person could have inflicted such wounds; and that he had caused only slight physical injuries on Alexander, for which he should be accordingly found guilty.
The accused is further ordered to pay the private complainant compensatory damages in the amount of P14,170.35 representing the actual pecuniary loss suffered by him as he has duly proven.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is DISMISSED. The September 10, 2003 Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Mandaluyong City, Branch 213, is hereby AFFIRMED in toto.The CA denied the petitioner’s motion for reconsideration on May 2, 2007.6
It is not amiss to stress that both the RTC and the CA disregarded their express mandate under Section 2, Rule 120 of the Rules of Court to have the judgment, if it was of conviction, state: “(1) the legal qualification of the offense constituted by the acts committed by the accused and the aggravating or mitigating circumstances which attended its commission; (2) the participation of the accused in the offense, whether as principal, accomplice, or accessory after the fact; (3) the penalty imposed upon the accused; and (4) the civil liability or damages caused by his wrongful act or omission to be recovered from the accused by the offended party, if there is any, unless the enforcement of the civil liability by a separate civil action has been reserved or waived.” Their disregard compels us to act as we now do lest the Court be unreasonably seen as tolerant of their omission. That the Spouses Cogtas did not themselves seek the correction of the omission by an appeal is no hindrance to this action because the Court, as the final reviewing tribunal, has not only the authority but also the duty to correct at any time a matter of law and justice.Alexander as the victim in frustrated homicide suffered moral injuries because the offender committed violence that nearly took away the victim’s life. “Moral damages include physical suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, moral shock, social humiliation, and similar injury. Though incapable of pecuniary computation, moral damages may be recovered if they are the proximate result of the defendant's wrongful act for omission.”18 Indeed, Article 2219, (1), of the Civil Code expressly recognizes the right of the victim in crimes resulting in physical injuries.19 Towards that end, the Court, upon its appreciation of the records, decrees that P30,000.00 is a reasonable award of moral damages.20 In addition, AAA was entitled to recover civil indemnity of P30,000.00.21 Both of these awards did not require allegation and proof.
We also pointedly remind all trial and appellate courts to avoid omitting reliefs that the parties are properly entitled to by law or in equity under the established facts. Their judgments will not be worthy of the name unless they thereby fully determine the rights and obligations of the litigants. It cannot be otherwise, for only by a full determination of such rights and obligations would they be true to the judicial office of administering justice and equity for all. Courts should then be alert and cautious in their rendition of judgments of conviction in criminal cases. They should prescribe the legal penalties, which is what the Constitution and the law require and expect them to do. Their prescription of the wrong penalties will be invalid and ineffectual for being done without jurisdiction or in manifest grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. They should also determine and set the civil liability ex delicto of the accused, in order to do justice to the complaining victims who are always entitled to them. The Rules of Court mandates them to do so unless the enforcement of the civil liability by separate actions has been reserved or waived.17
* Vice Associate Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe per Special Order No. 1885 dated November 24, 2014.
1Rollo, pp 74-79; penned by Associate Justice Elvi John S. Asuncion, with the concurrence of Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza (now a Member of this Court) and Associate Justice Sesinando E. Villon.
2 Id. at 29-35; penned by Presiding Judge Amalia F. Dy.
3 Id. at 75-76.
4 Id. at 35.
5 Id. at 79.
6 Id. at 90.
7 Serrano v. People, G.R. No. 175023, July 5, 2010, 623 SCRA 322, 339.
8Mahawan v. People, G.R. No. 176609, December 18, 2008, 574 SCRA 737; Rivera v. People, G.R. No. 166326, January 25, 2006, 480 SCRA 188, 196.
9Rivera v. People, supra at 197, citing People v. Delim, G.R. No. 142773, January 28, 2003, 396 SCRA 386, 400.
10Serrano v. People, supra note 7, at 335-336.
11Cabildo v. People, G.R. No. 189971, August 23, 2010, 628 SCRA 602, 609.
12 Supra note 3.
13 Section 1. Hereafter, in imposing a prison sentence for an offense punished by the Revised Penal Code, or its amendments, the court shall sentence the accused to an indeterminate sentence the maximum term of which shall be that which, in view of the attending circumstances, could be properly imposed under the rules of the said Code, and the minimum which shall be within the range of the penalty next lower to that prescribed by the Code for the offense; and if the offense is punished by any other law, the court shall sentence the accused to an indeterminate sentence, the maximum term of which shall not exceed the maximum fixed by said law and the minimum shall not be less than the minimum term prescribed by the same.
14 Article 50. Penalty to be imposed upon principals of a frustrated crime. — The penalty next lower in degree than that prescribed by law for the consummated felony shall be imposed upon the principal in a frustrated felony.
15 Supra note 3.
16 G.R. No. 206236, July 15, 2013, 701 SCRA 229.
17 Id. at 239-240 (the bold underscoring is part of the original text).
18 Article 2217, Civil Code.
19 Article 2219. Moral damages may be recovered in the following and analogous cases:
x x x x
(1) A criminal offense resulting in physical injuries;
x x x x
20Nacario v. People, G.R. No. 173106, September 30, 2008, 567 SCRA 262, 268; Angeles v. People, G.R. No. 172744, September 29, 2008, G.R. No. 172744, 567 SCRA 20, 30; Adame v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 139830, November 21, 2002, 392 SCRA 305, 316.
21Flores v. People, G.R. No. 181625, October 2, 2009, 602 SCRA 611, 626.