G.R. No. 192183, November 11, 2013
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. ANDY ZULIETA A.K.A. “BOGARTS,” Accused-Appellant.
D E C I S I O N
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
That on June 13, 2006, at around 10:00 o’clock in the evening, more or less, at Sto. Niño, Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with treachery and with intent to kill, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously stab one Armand Labando, with the use of a Batangas knife, hitting on the chest x x x the latter thereby inflicting mortal wounds which [caused] his immediate death.
Contrary to Art. 248 of the Revised Penal Code, in relation to RA 7659, as amended.
The first witness for the prosecution was SPO1 Apolinario Ubilas who testified that on June 13, 2006, at about 10:00 o’clock in the evening, Police Precinct Commander Police Inspector Ladao directed him to verify and investigate x x x a stabbing incident x x x which took place in Sto. Niño, Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro City. [The victim was no longer at the crime scene] as [he] was reportedly brought to the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) so he made inquiries as to possible witnesses of the incident and learned that Bryan Pascua witnessed the incident. He then proceeded to NMMC and saw the body of the victim, which was declared dead-on-arrival. Per order of their Precinct Commander, [a police team] conducted a pursuit operation and was able to arrest, on the following day, Jonathan Zaporteza and Rey Sabado, companions of the accused Andy Zulieta.
The next witness was Bryan Pascua who testified that on June 13, 2006, at about 10:30 in the evening, he and deceased Armand Labando[,] Jr. were outside their boarding house, seated at the bench just outside the store of Jimmy Saura. While they were eating bananas, Bogarts, Rey and Tantan approached them. Bogarts, who had with him a pitcher, dropped it in front of them so they immediately stood up. He then heard Tantan shout, “birahi na na” (hit him now), then saw Bogarts pull a batangas knife and stab the deceased, hitting him on his chest. He ran towards their boarding house, afraid that he will be attacked next.
The next witness for the prosecution was Dr. Francisco Romulo C. Villaflor, a Medico-Legal Officer of the Philippine National Police, who testified that he conducted an autopsy of the deceased Armand Labando[,] Jr. and found that the stab wound was inflicted on the anterior chest hitting the most vital organ of the body, the right ventricle of the heart. Based on his analysis, the instrument used in inflicting the wound [was] a bladed, pointed instrument, which could be a knife and by the location of the wound, the assailant was in front of the victim.
After the testimony of Dr. Villaflor, the prosecution offered their exhibits: exhibit “A”, the Death Certificate of Armand Labando[, Jr.] and exhibit “B”, the Autopsy Report of Dr. Villaflor, which were admitted by the defense. The prosecution then rested its case.
Accused set up denial and alibi as [his] defense claiming that on June 13, 2006 at 10:00 o’clock in the evening, he was asleep in his house in Gingoog City with his wife and in-laws. Sometime in November, 2006, he was arrested by Police Officer Radam and companions at his house in Gingoog City for being accused of killing the deceased Armand Labando[,] Jr. Accused claimed that he does not know the deceased Armand Labando[,] Jr., Rey Sabando, Jonathan Zaporte[z]a or witness Bryan Pascua. When cross-examined by the Court, accused claimed that his nickname is Andy as his real name is Zandy and he is not known in Sto. Niño as Bogarts. He, however, admitted that he was born in Sto. Niño, Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro City in 1985, lived and stayed with his parents in Sto. Niño, Lapasan, until he got married in x x x 2005. He then transferred residence with his own family [to] Gingoog.
The next witness for the defense was Maryflor Mamba Zulieta, wife of the accused, who testified that she married the accused [o]n August 28, 2005 in Nazareno Parish, Cagayan de Oro City. They resided in Gingoog City from the time they got married until the day that her husband was arrested. Her husband works at the farm of Mr. Lugod, in Cabuyuan, Gingoog City, planting, weeding and harvesting rice, from 7:00 o’clock in the morning until 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon, but goes home at noontime to eat lunch. On July 13, 2006, at around 10:00 o’clock in the evening, they were asleep in their house in Gingoog City. Sometime in October or November, 2006, at around 4:00 o’clock in the morning, while they were still sleeping, they were surprised when some men entered their house, went upstairs and handcuffed [her] husband as [he] is said to be under arrest.6
Accordingly, the Court finds accused Andy Zulieta guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder and he is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, with accessory penalties provided by law. He is also liable to pay the heirs of Armand Labando[, Jr.] civil damages in the amount of Php50,000.00, moral damages of Php50,000.00 and costs of suit.
WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 38 in Cagayan de Oro City finding appellant Andy Zulieta guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Murder, is AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATION, in that appellant is further ORDERED to pay the heirs of Armand Labando, Jr., the amount of P25,000.00 as exemplary damages, in addition to the amount of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity and P50,000.00 as moral damages.
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING HEREIN ACCUSED-APPELLANT DESPITE THE FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION TO PROVE HIS GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.10
The testimony of witness Bryan Pascua is clear, spontaneous and straightforward when he said that accused Andy Zulieta stabbed the deceased. When asked if he can identify the accused, the witness pointed his finger at the accused Andy Zulieta who was in the courtroom. Asked how he knew of such fact, he categorically said that he knew the accused long before the incident, recognized his face that night because the place was lighted and at the time of the stabbing incident, he was one (1) meter away from the assailant and the victim. He further testified that he was surprised when the accused, together with his companions, approached them, dropped the pitcher in front of them and suddenly stabbed the deceased on his chest when in fact there was no prior heated argument or statement made by deceased Armand Labando[,] Jr. which could have caused the ire of accused Andy Zulieta.12
After a careful review and analysis of the evidence for the prosecution and the defense and recalling the mien and manner of testimony by the witnesses, especially the positive testimony and identification by eyewitness Bryan Pascua of the accused, the Court is convinced that it is accused Andy Zulieta a.k.a. “Bogarts” who suddenly stabbed the deceased, resulting in his instantaneous death.15
1 CA rollo, pp. 77-95; penned by Associate Justice Elihu A. Ybañez and concurred in by Associate Justices Rodrigo F. Lim, Jr. and Ruben C. Ayson.
2 Records, pp. 77-83; penned by Judge Maximo G.W. Paderanga.
3 Id. at 3.
4 Id. at 24.
5 Id. at 27.
6 Id. at 79-80.
7 Id. at 83.
8 Id. at 85.
9 CA rollo, p. 72.
10 Id. at 16.
11 Id. at 86.
12 Records, p. 80.
13 Revised Penal Code, Article 14(16).
14 People v. Jalbonian, G.R. No. 181281, July 1, 2013, citing Dela Cruz, G.R. No. 188353, February 16, 2010, 612 SCRA 738, 747.
15 Records, p. 80.
16People v. Jalbonian, supra note 14.
17People v. Dela Rosa, G.R. No. 201723, June 13, 2013. Citations omitted.
18People v. Jalbonian, supra note 14.