G.R. No. 218205, July 05, 2017
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. MARCIAL D. PULGO, Accused-Appellant.
D E C I S I O N
This is an appeal from the Decision1 dated October 28, 2014 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 01494, which affirmed accused-appellant Marcial D. Pulgo's conviction for Murder as rendered by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cebu City, Branch 18, in its Judgment2 dated February 20, 2012 in Criminal Case No. CBU-82443.
That on or about the 21st day of July 2007 at about 5:00 in the afternoon, at Barangay Lorega, San Miguel, Cebu City, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with deliberate intent to kill, with treachery and evident premeditation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack and stab one ROMEO S. LAMBO, with the use of a bladed weapon, hitting the latter on his abdomen, which caused his death thereafter.3When arraigned, accused-appellant entered a plea of not guilty. After the pre-trial conference, trial on the merits ensued.
WHEREFORE, on the basis of all the foregoing consideration, judgment is rendered finding accused Marcial Pulgo GUILTY of the crime of Murder by treachery penalized under Article 2488 of the Revised Penal Code and hereby sentences him to reclusion perpetua with all its accessory penalties.Dissatisfied with the RTC's Judgment, accused-appellant elevated the case to the CA.
He is likewise directed to pay the heirs of the victim Romeo Lambo the amount of Seventy Five Thousand Pesos (P75,000.00) as civil indemnity, Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) as moral damages and Thirty Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00) as exemplary damages.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the appeal is hereby DENIED. The Decision dated February 20, 2012, of the Regional Trial Court, 7th Judicial Region, Branch 18, Cebu City, in Criminal Case No. CBU-82443, finding accused-appellant Marcial D. Pulgo guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Murder is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION in that the heirs of Romeo Lambo are entitled to the award of Php75,000.00 as civil indemnity, moral damages increased to Php75,000.00, Php30,000.00 as exemplary damages and Php25,000.00 as temperate damages.
All damages shall be subject to interest at the legal rate of 6% per annum from the date of finality of this Decision until fully paid.
Direct examinationAccused-appellant, however, argues that Aurelio's testimony cannot be given credence because it allegedly suffers from a glaring inconsistency. Accused-appellant asserts that while Aurelio initially testified that he saw accused-appellant stab the right side of the victim's body, he later demonstrated, while under cross-examination, that it was the left side of the victim's body that was stabbed by accused-appellant.17
x x x x
Q: Mr. Witness, on July 21, 2007 at around 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon, do you still recall where were you? [sic]
A: I was standing at Lorega, San Miguel, Cebu City.
Q: While standing at said place, what happened next?
A: I was approached by my cousin.
Q: What is the name of your cousin?
A: Romeo Lambo.
Q: Why did he approach you?
A: He requested me to accompany him to a certain place.
Q: What place Mr. Witness?
A: He did not mention the place, sir but he just invited me to go with him to a certain place.
Q: While with your cousin Romeo Lambo, what happened next?
A: We met Marcial Pulgo, sir.
Q: Then what happened next?
A: Marcial Pulgo pulled something and immediately stabbed.
Q: Who was the person that was stabbed by Marcial Pulgo?
A: It was Romeo Lambo.
Q: What instrument did he use in stabbing the victim?
A: Somewhat Rambo knife, sir.
Q: How did he stab the victim?
A: He just suddenly stabbed the victim, sir.
Q: Was the victim hit?
Q: Which part of the body?
A: On his side, sir.
Q: Then after Marcial Pulgo stabbed the victim what happened next?
A: I did nothing, sir because the incident was so sudden.
Q: What happened to the victim?
A: After Marcial Pulgo stabbed the victim, the victim runway [sic] and then Marcial Pulgo chased the victim and then myself chased Marcial Pulgo and throw an empty bottle and then Marcial Pulgo turned left.
Q: Why did you throw Marcial Pulgo with the bottle? [sic]
A: That was my immediate reaction in order that my cousin would not be stabbed again.
Q: Were you able to hit Marcial Pulgo?
A: He was not hit, sir.
A: He was not hit because he was able to turn left.
x x x x
Q: You mentioned that Marcial Pulgo stabbed the victim herein, if you will be able to see Marcial Pulgo will you be able to identify him?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Kindly look around and please tell the Honorable Court if he is present in the courtroom now?
A: He is around.
Q: Can you pinpoint to this person?
Q: Kindly step down from that witness stand and kindly point to him?
The Witness step [sic] down from the witness stand and approach [sic] the accused row and pointed to a person who stood up and identified himself as Marcial Pulgo.16 (Emphasis ours)
It may be noted that while Danilo Julia and Loreto Palad testified that Romen Castro had been stabbed on the right side of his back, the autopsy report stated that the stab wound was located at the left lumbar area of the victim. This single lapse on a minor detail cannot, however, undermine the credibility of these prosecution witnesses. Inconsistencies in the testimonies of prosecution witnesses are not an uncommon event, and acquittals have resulted in cases where the inconsistencies and selfcontradictions dealt with material points as to altogether erode the witnesses' credibility. But when such inconsistencies are minor in character, not only do they not detract from the credibility of the witnesses but they in fact enhance it for they erase any suggestion of a rehearsed testimony.Furthermore, there is no evidence to show any dubious or improper motive on Aurelio's part to falsely testify against accused-appellant.24 It is settled that where there is nothing to indicate that a witness for the prosecution was actuated by improper motive, the presumption is that he was not so actuated and his testimony is entitled to full faith and credit.25
x x x Their mistake concerning the location of the stab wound does not mean that they did not actually see the stabbing incident. Such mistake may be attributed more to the fickleness of human memory than to any attempt of the prosecution witnesses to perjure themselves.23
Treachery attended the stabbing of Rain because he was unarmed and the attack on him was swift and sudden. He had no means and there was no time for him to defend himself. The prosecution was able to establish that appellant[']s 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. There being treachery, appellant[']s conviction for murder is in order.Clearly, therefore, all the elements for a conviction for murder have been shown to exist.
The 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. In this case, treachery was already present when appellant and Insigne, armed each with a bolo, approached the victim and suddenly stabbed him. Rain did not have the faintest idea that he was vulnerable to an attack, considering that he was boarding his bicycle, oblivious of the sinister intent of appellant and Insigne. The fact that the victim was facing his malefactors at the time of the latter[']s attack did not erase its treacherous nature. Even if the assault were frontal, there was treachery if it was so sudden and unexpected that the victim had no time to prepare for his defense. Even more, the fact that appellant and Insigne chased the victim to inflict more stabbing blows after the latter had already been gravely wounded clearly exhibits the treacherous nature of the killing of the victim.32
Appellant failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence that it was physically impossible for him to be at San Jose Del Monte City, Bulacan when Jesus was murdered. His own testimony revealed that the distance between the locus delicti and Dasmariñas City, Cavite is only a four to five hour regular commute. Thus, it would not be physically impossible for him to make the round trip between those two points from dusk till dawn of September 5-6, 2002 and still have more than enough time to participate in the events surrounding the murder of Jesus.40In the face of Aurelio's positive identification of accused-appellant as Romeo's attacker, untainted by any ill or improper motive, accused-appellant's defense of alibi cannot prosper. Such positive identification also prevails over accused-appellant's unsubstantiated denial.41
* Designated additional Member per Raffle dated March 15, 2017 vice Associate Justice Francis H. Jardeleza.
1 Penned by Associate Justice Renato C. Francisco, concurred in by Associate Justices Gabriel T. Ingles and Pamela Ann Abella Maxino; rollo, pp. 4-13.
2 Penned by Presiding Judge Gilbert P. Moises; CA rollo, pp. 33-38.
3Rollo, p. 5.
4 Id. at 5, 7-9; CA rollo, pp. 33-34.
5 Id. at 6; id. at 34-35.
6 CA rollo, p. 35.
7 Id. at 33-38.
8 Art. 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 perpetua, to death if committed with any of the following attendant circumstances:
1. 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.
2. In consideration of a price, reward or promise.
3. By means of inundation, fire, poison, explosion, shipwreck, stranding of a vessel, derailment or assault upon a railroad, fall of an airship, or by means of motor vehicles, or with the use of any other means involving great waste and ruin.
4. On occasion of any of the calamities enumerated in the preceding paragraph, or of an earthquake, eruption of a volcano, destructive cyclone, epidemic or other public calamity.
5. With evident premeditation.
6. With cruelty, by deliberately and inhumanly augmenting the suffering of the victim, or outraging or scoffing at his person or corpse.
9 CA rollo, p. 38.
11 Id. at 12-13.
12People of the Philippines v. Roque Dayaday, G.R. 213224, January 16, 2017; People v. Angelio, G.R. No. 197540, February 27, 2012.
13People v. Dayaday, supra note 12; People v. Diu, et al., G.R. No. 201449, April 3, 2013, citing People v. Maxion, G.R. No. 135145, July 19, 2001.
14People v. Diu, et al., supra note 13, citing People v. Maxion, supra note 13.
15People v. Dayaday, supra note 12.
16Rollo, pp. 7-9.
17 Id. at 9; CA rollo, pp. 28-29.
18See People v. Aguila, G.R. No. 171017, December 6, 2006.
19People v. Alfon, G.R. No. 126028, March 14, 2003.
21See People v. Dumayan, G.R. No. 116280, May 21, 2001; People v. Alfon, supra note 19 and People v. Aguila, supra note 18.
22 G.R. No. 136790, March 26, 2001.
24 CA rollo, p. 36.
25People v. Aquino, G.R. No. 201092, January 15, 2014; People v. Dadao, et al., G.R. No. 201860, January 22, 2014.
26People v. Aquino, supra note 25.
27People v. Angelio, supra note 12; People v. Casela, G.R. No. 173243, March 23, 2007.
28People v. Casela, supra note 27.
29People v. Alfon, supra note 19.
30People v. Pidoy, G.R. No. 146696, July 3, 2003.
31 Supra note 27.
33People v. Aquino, supra note 25; People v. Dadao, supra note 25.
34People v. Aquino, supra note 25; People v. Baroquillo, et al., G.R. No. 184960, August 24, 2011.
35People v. Nelmida, et al., G.R. No. 184500, September 11, 2012.
37People v. Aquino, supra note 25.
38 CA rollo, p. 37.
39 Supra note 25.
41People v. Calara, G.R. No. 197039, June 5, 2013.
43People v. Calara, supra note 41; People v. Alfon, supra note 19.
44People v. Gunda, G.R. No. 195525, February 5, 2014.
45People v. Jugueta, G.R. No. 202124, April 5, 2016.