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[G.R. No. 33614. November 4, 1930. ]

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. BENEDICTO CORTES ET AL., Defendants-Appellants.

Jose Zurbito for Appellants.

Attorney-General Jaranilla for Appellee.


1. HOMICIDE; PRINCIPAL; ACCOMPLICE. — Where the three accused attacked a third person, one of them inflicting, with a club, a fatal blow in the forehead of the person assaulted, while the other two, immediately thereafter, inflicted minor injuries with blows from similar weapons, a conviction of the first assailant in the character of principal in the homicide, and of his two companions in the character of accomplices, was affirmed.

2. CRIMINAL LAW, AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCE; ADVANTAGE TAKEN OF SUPERIOR STRENGTH. — In the assault above referred to it was held erroneous to estimate, against the three accused, the aggravating circumstance that advantage was taken of superior strength such circumstance being inconsistent with the finding that only one of the three had participated in the offense in the character of principal.

3. ID.; INDEMNITY; LIABILITY OF PRINCIPAL AND ACCOMPLICES. — Where three persons cooperated in the commission of a homicide, one as principal and the others as accomplices, the trial court should have determined the amount of indemnity for which the principal and accomplices should be respectively liable. In such case the individuals in either class (where there are more than one) are liable in solidium for the indemnity imposed upon those of the particular class, and they are subsidiary liable for the indemnity imposed upon the other class.



This case has been brought to the Supreme Court upon appeal, for the purpose of reversing a judgment of the Court of First Instance of the Province of Masbate, finding the appellants, Benedicto Cortes, Santiago Cortes, and Honestorio Bellocillo, guilty of the offense of homicide, the first in the character of principal, and the other two in the character of accomplices, and sentencing the principal, in view of the aggravating circumstance that advantage was taken of superior strength, to undergo imprisonment for seventeen years, four months and one day, reclusion temporal, with the accessories prescribed by law, and sentencing the accomplices, in view of the same aggravating circumstance, to undergo imprisonment for ten years and one day, prision mayor, with the accessories prescribed by law, and requiring all the accused to indemnify, jointly and severally, the heirs of the deceased in the amount of P1,000, without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and requiring each to pay one-third part of the costs.

It appears that on the afternoon of February 16, 1930, there occurred in the cockpit of Punta Buri, barrio of Guion, municipality of Milagros, Province of Masbate, a contest between two cocks, one of which belonged to Raymundo Cortes, a brother of the appellant Santiago Cortes. The causes of the two feathered champions were respectively sustained by individuals of the barrio of Guiom, on one part, and of the neighboring barrio of Cawayan, on the other. Both of the birds were wounded in the first onset, and a discussion ensued between the partisans of the respective birds as to which of the two had gained victory, a contention of chief interest to those who had laid their wagers on the one or the other. As no judge was functioning with authority to decide the matter, Candido Malapitan, the owner of the cockpit, declared the fight a draw. Apparently this decision was not satisfactory to all of the persons interested, and after a futile attempt to stage an additional fight between two other cocks, the sport was abandoned.

The two factions chiefly concerned in this matter consisted in Benedicto Cortes and others, of the barrio of Guiom, and a number of individuals, including one Simeon Kilantang, pertaining to the barrio for Cawayan. After the sport had been concluded, and the ring in the cockpit was being cleared, one Anacleto Aballe stepped into the enclosure and asked Candido Malapitan, who had been serving as stockholder, to return P1 which Anacleto, as one of the Cawayan crowd, had wagered upon one of the birds. Malapitan handed Anacleto the money, and the latter started out. As he turned towards the door, he met the appellant Santiago Cortes to whom he addressed the question why the cockpit had not been proceeded with. Santiago answered, "What business is that of yours?" (
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