1. REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; TRIAL; DISCHARGE OF ONE OF SEVERAL DEFENDANTS TO BE WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION. — Under Section 9 of Rule 119 of the Rules of Court, a state witness is one of two or more persons jointly charged with the commission of a crime but who is discharged with his consent as such accused so that he may be a witness for the State. He shall only be discharged after the court has required the prosecution to present evidence and his sworn statement at a hearing in support of the discharge and the court is satisfied that the requirements of Section 9 are present.
2. ID.; EVIDENCE; WITNESS; TESTIMONY; CREDIBILITY; NOT AFFECTED BY IRREGULARITIES IN HIS DISCHARGE AS STATE WITNESS. — Agner was originally included as an accused in the information, but before the start of the hearing, he was discharged as an accused upon the motion of the prosecution in order that he could testify for the state. While the procedure undertaken in discharging him may be questioned because the trial court ordered his discharge even before the prosecution had started presenting evidence, it is safe to assume that said court, in the exercise of its sound discretion, considered as basis for his discharge the sworn statement Agner executed before the police. Moreover, his discharge was effected upon the motion of the trial fiscal who, being in possession of evidence ahead of the court and even the defense, was best qualified to determine who among the accused should be discharged to be a state witness. Be that as it may, any legal deficiency attending Agner’s discharge from the information may not affect the admissibility and credibility of his testimony in the absence of proof to the contrary.
3. ID.; ID.; ID.; CREDIBILITY; FINDINGS OF TRIAL COURT, RESPECTED. — In the absence of any clear showing that it overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied some facts or circumstances of weight or substance which could have affected the result of the case, the trial court’s findings on the credibility of witnesses are entitled to the highest degree of respect and will not be disturbed on appeal.
4. ID.; ID.; ID.; WHEN TESTIMONY OF A SINGLE WITNESS SUFFICIENT TO CONVICT. — The testimony of a single witness, if positive and credible, is sufficient to sustain a conviction even in the absence of corroboration unless such corroboration is expressly required by law. Truth is established not by the number of witnesses but by the quality of their testimonies.
5. ID.; ID.; ID.; CREDIBILITY; NOT AFFECTED BY INCONSISTENCIES BETWEEN HIS AFFIDAVIT AND TESTIMONY. — Discrepancies between sworn statements or affidavits and testimonies made at the witness stand do not necessarily discredit the witnesses, since ex-parte affidavits are generally incomplete. As a general rule, an inconsistency between two statements of a witness should be determined, not by resort to individual words or phrases, but by the whole impression or effect of what has been said or done.
6. ID.; ID.; ALIBI; CANNOT PREVAIL OVER POSITIVE IDENTIFICATION. — In view of the positive identification of appellants as the perpetrators of the crime, their alibi crumbled. Besides, they had not strictly complied with the requirements of time and place in said defense. It should have been established that appellants were somewhere else when the crime happened and that it was physically impossible for them to be at the crime scene at the crucial time.
7. CRIMINAL LAW; MURDER; QUALIFYING CIRCUMSTANCES; TREACHERY, PRESENT. — The trial court correctly held that treachery qualified the killing of Agtang and that appellants shall be held responsible for murder under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code. There is treachery because Agtang was tied and therefore in a helpless condition before he was killed.
8. ID.; AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCES; CRUELTY; WHEN APPRECIATED. — Cruelty is present when the wrong done in the commission of the crime is "deliberately augmented by causing other wrong not necessary for its commission." The test in appreciating cruelty as an aggravating circumstance is "whether the accused deliberately and sadistically augmented the wrong by causing another wrong not necessary for its commission or inhumanly increased the victim’s suffering or outraged or scoffed at his person or corpse."cralaw virtua1aw library
9. ID.; MURDER; PROPER PENALTY TO ALL IN CONSPIRACY. — The penalty for the crime of murder under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code is reclusion temporal in its maximum period to death. In the absence of any aggravating or mitigating circumstances, the imposible penalty is the medium period of said penalty or reclusion perpetua. The appellants must all bear this penalty in view of the duly proven conspiracy among the perpetrators of the crime. Their cooperative acts toward the common criminal objective of taking the life of Agtang proved that they were parties to a conspiracy.
In resolving this case, this Court finds occasion to differentiate between a state witness and a prosecution witness. It also reiterates some well-settled doctrines in appreciating the generic aggravating circumstances of nocturnity and cruelty.
This is an appeal from the Decision 1 dated May 15, 1991 of the Regional Trial Court of Roxas, Isabela, Branch 23, finding appellants Camilo Ferrer and Romeo Reyes guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder for the fatal assault upon Florante Agtang and imposing on each of them the penalty of reclusion perpetua
and the joint and several payment to the heirs of the victim of the amount of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, plus costs.
Originally charged in the Information filed before the then Court of First Instance of Isabela on February 18, 1977 were Tomas Agnir or Agner and appellants Ferrer alias Milo and Reyes alias Romy. The Information alleged as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"That on or about the 27th day of April, 1976, in the municipality of Quirino, province of Isabel, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the herein accused, together with Juan Galasi, who is already dead, and four (4) John Does, whose real identities are still unknown, armed with three (3) firearms, boloes and pointed knives, conspiring and confederating together and all helping one another, with evident premeditation and treachery, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with intent to kill, suddenly and unexpectedly and without giving him chance to defend himself, assault, attack and stab with sharppointed knives one Florante Agtang, inflicting upon the latter multiple stab wounds on the different parts of his body which directly caused him instantaneous death due to acute hemorrhage.
CONTRARY TO LAW." 2
Arraigned on July 22, 1977 in the Ilocano dialect which they speak and understand, the three accused pleaded not guilty to the crime charged. 3
The facts of the case as summarized 4 by the trial court are as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"The prosecution presented four (4) witnesses, including one of the accused Tomas Agner who was subsequently discharged as a state witness (p-160, record).
The defense presented the two accused, Camilo Ferrer and Romeo Reyes, Merlita Cajalne, wife of accused Romeo Reyes, and the parents of Camilo Ferrer, Pedro Ferrer and Quintina Francisco.
From the combined testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, it appears that in the evening of April 27, 1976, Florante Agtang, Apolonio Villanueva and Oscar Viernes, three young men from Dolores Quirino, Isabela, went together to barangay Vintar of the same municipality and a neighboring barrio, to visit ladies of their court — Florante Agtang to the house of one Ester Galasi and Oscar Viernes to the house of one Leticia Gambalan. Apolonio Villanueva preferred to go with Oscar Viernes and stayed in the house of Leticia after they conducted Agtang to the house of Ester.
At about 10:00 o’clock that same evening, Florante Agtang dropped by the house of Leticia where his companions were and bade the duo for all of them to go home. They all went together homebound when upon reaching the outskirts of barangay Vintar, after they had just passed an Independent Church not far from the house of Leticia, they heard a whistle and two men emerged from nowhere and warned them no to run away. The trio stopped and identified themselves. The two unidentified persons approached and frisked them for hidden weapons with one of the two pointing a long firearm at the. Apolonio and Oscar were found to be carrying knives while Florante was divested of a homemade-gun known as "paltik." Proceeding further as they were ordered to follow, they came upon a place near a cornfield where four (4) more persons emerged, one of whom was identified as the accused Tomas Agner. Apolonio was able to flee as he was frightened by their captors that they would use the knife confiscated from his possession to kill them. Running as fast as he could, he was shot at but they missed him. Infuriated because of Apolonio’s escape, they started beating Florante and Oscar before they reached a river bank. They were ferried across the river and upon reaching the Magsaysay-Quirino boundary near the proposed railroad, the two were again ordered to remove their clothes which they used to tie them. After they were tied a certain Doming hit Florante with a butt of the gun felling him to the ground as a result. Florante lying fallen, Camilo Ferrer and Romeo Reyes took turns in stabbing their hapless victim. They waylaid Florante and the group left him where he was slain, including Oscar Viernes who was released but was forewarned not to reveal what happened to anyone.
The following morning, the incident was reported by Oscar Viernes despite the warning to the barangay captain of Dolores who in turn reported the same to the police authorities of Quirino, Isabela. Acting on said report and police found the dead body at the place pointed to by Oscar where they were maltreated. The body bore multiple stab wounds. Brought to their house the body of Florante was autopsied by Dr. Luis R. Tamayo, Municipal Health Officer of Roxas, Isabela. The findings of Dr. Tamayo confirmed the presence of several stab wounds and the cause of death was attributed to acute hemorrhage resulting from said injuries."cralaw virtua1aw library
The star witness for the prosecution was Tomas Agnir (or Agner) who, upon motion of the fiscal, was discharged from the Information by the trial court in order that he could be a state witness. He testified thus:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
Agner was the brother-in-law of Juan Galasi, the latter’s sister being the former’s wife. He and Galasi co-owned a boat which Agner himself used in ferrying people across the river. 5 In the evening of April 27, 1976, Galasi, Romeo Reyes, Camilo Ferrer and a certain Domingo or Ding went to his house and asked him to take them across the river. They warned him that should he refuse to obey them, they would kill him. 6
Acceding to the group’s demand, Agner went westward with them to the river. Along the way, they met Oscar Viernes, Florante Agtang (Agtang or Florendo Agtang 7) and Apolonio Villanueva. Reyes, Domingo and Ferrer searched the bodies of the three. They got two knives from each of Villanueva and Viernes and a paltic firearm from Agtang. Near the banana plants, as all of them resumed walking to the river, three other persons who were strangers to Agner, joined them. Suddenly, Villanueva ran away. Domingo shot at but missed Villanueva. Consequently, Domingo, Ferrer and Reyes tied Agtang and Viernes with what looked like a plastic rope. All of them went to the river where Agner ferried them across.
They went northward to the proposed railroad. There, Agner was segregated from the group at a distance of around four (4) meters. From that distance, Agner watched as Domingo struck Agtang’s mouth with a gun butt, causing him to fall to the ground while Ferrer and Reyes stabbed the victim several times as he lay helpless. All these happened in the presence of Galasi. Domingo then ordered Viernes to go home. Agner himself was told by the three unidentified persons to go home with instructions not to reveal to anyone what had happened otherwise, he too would be killed.
According to Agner, Agtang was assaulted by the group because Galasi, whose daughter was to be married to Agtang, did not want the marriage to take place as he preferred someone from Magsaysay to be his daughter’s groom. Domingo was from Aga, Magsaysay, Isabela. 8 Villanueva, who was 21 years old when the incident happened, corroborated Agner’s story. He testified that, it around 7:00 o’clock in the evening of April 27, 1976, he together with Viernes and Agtang, left their place in Dolores, Quirino, Isabela for Vintar (Bintar), another barrio in Quirino, Negotiating the distance between the two barrios on foot, he and his companions arrived in Vintar at around 9:00 o’clock that night. They proceeded to the Galasi residence where Agtang visited Ester Galasi. Then Villanueva accompanied Viernes while the latter visited Leticia Gambalan. After around two hours, Agtang fetched them and the three of them proceeded home.
Along the way, someone whistled at them. When they came to a halt, two persons approached and told them not to run. The three young men were told to follow them northward. When they reached a banana plantation, the two persons, who turned out to be Reyes and Ferrer, whistled and four other persons came out from hiding. These four men asked the three young men to follow them to the fields. Of these four men, Villanueva recognized only Agner whom he used to see in Vintar.
When they reached the fields, one of them, whom Villanueva identified later as Ferrer, approached him and asked for his small bolo (imuco), saying that they would use the bolo in killing him. Frightened, Villanueva fled into the tobacco field and hid there the whole night. In the morning, he went home and checked on his companions. He found Viernes but learned that Agtang’s dead body had been found on the other side of the Mailig River. 9
Twenty-one-year-old Agtang sustained seven (7) stab wounds on the left chest, right chest, epigastrium and abdomen. These wounds injured the lungs, heart and stomach and produced massive hemorrhage. He had four (4) puncture wounds on the right iliac region and two (2) other stab wounds on the right and left axilla which injured the lungs and also produced extensive hemorrhage. 10
Based on the sworn statements executed by Villanueva and Viernes on May 4, 1976, 11 Sgt. Doroteo Villegas filed a complaint for murder against Agner and five (5) John Does before the Municipal Court of Quirino. 12 It was from Agner, who executed a sworn statement on June 19, 1976, 13 that Sgt. Villegas learned the identities of Reyes and Ferrer. 14 Accordingly, Sgt. Villegas filed an amended complaint naming therein the accused, aside from Agner and Galasi, "Romy Reyes, Milo Perel (sic), Domingo Doe, John Doe (sic), Peter Doe and Bernard Doe." 15 On August 6, 1976, The Municipal Court of Quirino 16 ordered the issuance of warrants for the arrest of all the accused but dismissed the case as regards Galasi who had died. 17 After due investigation, the aforequoted Information was filed.
The Defense: Denial and Alibi
In their defense, appellants interposed denial and alibi, swearing that they were both at home when the crime was committed. Merlita Cajalne, the wife of Reyes, testified that April 27, 1976 was their wedding anniversary, having been married on April 27, 1971. After taking their supper with their five children at 6:00 o’clock that night, they went to bed. She woke up at 6:00 o’clock the following morning and found her husband still asleep. She was sure that her husband did not leave home during the night because she got up six (6) times that night to answer the call of nature. 18
Appellant Reyes testified that he did not even go out of his home in Aga, Delfin Albano, Isabela that fateful day, much less that evening. He denied having been to Vintar. He was able to go to Quirino only when he was arrested. The police of Quirino took him from the municipal jail of Delfin Albano. They rode a jeep from Delfin Albano up to Santiago from where they walked to Quirino. According to Reyes, Agner implicated him in the murder case because he had not paid Agner for services rendered in planting and harvesting his (Reyes’) palay. 19
For his part, appellant Ferrer, who used to farm the land of Antonio Gambalan in Aga, Magsaysay (now Delfin Albano), testified that he could not have gone to Vintar on April 27, 1976 because his sister, Margarita, was lying in state at their home. She had died at dusk of April 26, 1976 after she failed to deliver the child she was carrying. 20
Pedro Ferrer, appellant’s father, testified that he and his son Camilo, had gone to bed at the same time in the evening of "a certain day in April, 1976" when they served coffee to some visitors who attended the wake of his dead daughter, Margarita. On cross-examination, however, Pedro Ferrer declared that on that day, they were celebrating the death anniversary of their grandmother. 21
Appellant Ferrer’s 70-year-old mother. Quintina Francisco, could not remember the date of the death of her daughter Margarita. However, she insisted that on April 27, 1976, her son Camilo was in their house. On cross-examination, she declared that her daughter Margarita died in the early evening of April 27, 1976. 22
As stated above, the trial court held appellants guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder. It found that of the two qualifying circumstances alleged in the information, namely, evident premeditation and treachery, on the latter was duly proven. Evident premeditation had no factual basis whereas treachery was sufficiently established by the fact that Agtang was struck with the butt of a gun and stabbed repeatedly, that he sustained twelve (12) wounds (should be thirteen  wounds) while he was tied and therefore in a defenseless position.
Appellant’s notice of appeal was filed by their counsel of record, Atty. Edwin C. Uy. 23 On September 2, 1992, the Court required him to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against him for his failure to file appellants’ brief within the required period of time. 24 He did file a four-page brief 25 but failed to explain its late filing. Thus, on November 11, 1992, the Court imposed upon Atty. Uy a fine of P500 or a 5-day imprisonment for his failure to explain why he did not file the brief within the prescribed 10-day period. The Court also dismissed him as counsel for the appellants and appointed the Public Attorney’s Office of the Department of Justice as counsel de oficio. 26
The Solicitor General filed the appellee’s brief 27 upon receipt of the brief filed by Atty. Uy for the appellants. Since the Public Attorney’s Office filed its own appellant’s brief on May 6, 1993, the Solicitor General filed a second appellee’s brief to traverse the contentions of the appellants. 28
In this appeal, appellants allege through the Public Attorney’s Office that the trial court erred in convicting them of the crime charged notwithstanding the prosecution’s failure to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Appellants assert that they should not have been convicted on the testimony of their co-accused which was not materially corroborated and therefore insufficient, coming as it did from someone who had his own interest to protect.
In so contending, appellants quote 29 the portion of Agner’s testimony wherein he described the participation of each of the perpetrators of the crime as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"Q. After you were segregated and brought to a distance of more or less 4 meters what happened, if any?
A. Camilo Ferrer and Romeo Reyes stabbed Florante Agtang.
Q. About Din/Doming, did he do any from the person of Florante Agtang? (sic)
A. Ding struck with the firearm the mouth of Florante Agtang, sir.
Q. Where was Juan Galasi when Agtang was body harmed (sic) by the persons you mentioned?
A. Juan Galasi was with the group of Romeo Reyes, Camilo Ferrer or a certain Doming, sir." 30
Citing Barretto v. Sandiganbayan 31 wherein the Court held that the testimony of a state witness which is not materially corroborated is not sufficient for conviction, appellants state that." . . . although state witness Apolonio Villanueva testified that he recognized the Accused-Appellants on the night of April 27, 1976, his testimony is however ineffective and incredible considering that when he was confronted with his sworn statement (Exh.’C’) taken by Cpl. Doroteo Villegas and subscribed before the Municipal Mayor of Quirino, he could hardly explain the inconsistency between his testimony and his sworn statement." 32 They then quote that portion of Apolonio Villanueva’s testimony wherein he was confronted with his sworn statement.
Apolonio Villanueva was a prosecution witness but not a state witness. Under Section 9 of Rule 119 of the Rules of Court, a state witness is one of two or more persons jointly charged with the commission of a crime but who is discharged with his consent as such accused so that he may be a witness for the State. He shall only be discharged after the court has required the prosecution to present evidence and his sworn statement at a hearing in support of the discharge and the court is satisfied that the requirements of Section 9 are present. 33
In this case, Apolonio Villanueva was not an accused. Having been in the company of Agtang when he was killed, Villanueva was presented by the prosecution as a witness. It was Tomas Agner who was originally included as an accused in the information, but before the start of the hearing, he was discharged as an accused upon the motion of the prosecution in order that he could testify for the state. While the procedure undertaken in discharging him may be questioned because the trial court ordered his discharge even before the prosecution had started presenting evidence, it is safe to assume that said court, in the exercise of its sound discretion, 34 considered as basis for his discharge the sworn statement Agner executed before the police. Moreover, his discharge was effected upon the motion of the trial fiscal who, being in possession of evidence ahead of the court and even the defense, was best qualified to determine who among the accused should be discharged to be a state witness. 35
Be that as it may, any legal deficiency attending Agner’s discharge from the information may not affect the admissibility and credibility of his testimony in the absence of proof to the contrary. 36 The trial court, upon which is vested the task of assigning probative value to the testimony of a witness, affixed the stamp of credibility upon the testimony of Agner while treating it with "extreme caution." 37 In the absence of any clear showing that it overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied some facts or circumstances of weight or substance which could have affected the result of the case, the trial court’s findings on the credibility of witnesses are entitled to the highest degree of respect and will not be disturbed on appeal. 38
Although it is true that Apolonio Villanueva failed to witness the actual assault upon Agtang as he fled before it transpired, Agner’s sole testimony on that fact stands unaffected. The testimony of a single witness, if positive and credible, is sufficient to sustain a conviction even in the absence of a corroboration 39 unless such corroboration is expressly required by law. 40 Truth is established not by the number of witnesses but by the quality of their testimonies. 41 Agner’s testimony is in fact materially corroborated by the wounds sustained by Agtang as reflected in the certification 42 executed by Dr. Luis R. Tamayo who autopsied the corpse, as well as by the testimony of Dr. Tamayo.
The defense attempted to taint Agner’s testimony by imputing to him a motive for testifying against the appellants. Through appellant Reyes, the defense hinted that Agner had an axe to grind against Reyes because the latter failed to pay Agner for manual work performed in Reyes’ farm. Like the trial court, 43 we find such alleged motive altogether too insignificant to impel any person to implicate an accused in so grave a crime as murder. For appellant Ferrer’s part, he himself admitted that while Agner was an acquaintance, their relationship did not extend beyond that. 44 This clearly implies that Agner had no reason to testify against appellants other than to tell the truth. The trial court’s assessment of Agner is illuminative:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
". . . While his testimony should be treated with extreme caution because he was originally indicted, the same must be analyzed carefully for its probative worth. It is well-settled in our jurisprudence that where the testimony of one of the accused is credible and corroborated by other witness, the same cannot be totally discarded by the mere fact that said accused was discharged to be utilized as a government witness (People v. Cutura, L-12702, 4 SCRA 663). The narration made by Agner in his affidavit and his testimony in court is corroborated by witness Apolonio Villanueva. The latter identified Tomas Agner as one of the group of his tormentors and this must have led to the solution of the crime because Tomas Agner when investigated made a clean breast of what happened (Exhibit "A", prosecution, p-17, records), to the extent that he named his co-defendants in the commission of the crime charged. He pointed to the accused Camilo Ferrer and Romeo Reyes who stabbed Florante Agtang. His identification of the two could not be said to be tainted with doubt because without hesitation and with spontaneity he fingered the two accused who stabbed mercilessly the deceased victim. It could not even be pointed out why Agner had to implicate them (sic) this gory crime. In short, he had known motive to drag them into this case. The claim of accused Ferrer that he did not pay the wages of Agner during the latter’s brief stint in the ricefield of Ferrer as a farm helper must have motivated him to point him, is too shallow a pretense, if not puerile, to be given even the most scant consideration. Absent (sic) of any motive on the part of Agner to include accused Reyes is also worthy of note. No person worth his salt would conscience point to a person without any known motive as in the case of other accused, Romeo Reyes." 45
With respect to the alleged inconsistencies between the testimony and the sworn statement of Apolonio Villanueva or between his testimony and the sworn statement of Viernes which, appellants assert, rendered Villanueva’s credibility doubtful, the Court has time and again held that discrepancies between sworn statements or affidavits and testimonies made at the witness stand do not necessarily discredit the witnesses, since ex-parte affidavits are generally incomplete. 46 As a general rule, an inconsistency between two statements of a witness should be determined, not by resort to individual words or phrases, but by the whole impression or effect of what has been said or done. 47
Appellants point out that while Villanueva admitted in his sworn statement that he did not recognize — "not even one" of — the companions of Agner, on the witness stand, he claimed that he did not recognize appellants although he did not know their names. The Solicitor General correctly points out that the alleged discrepancy was clarified during the re-direct examination of Villanueva when he testified that he recognized appellants as the ones who first whistled at his group but that he could not recognize the companions of Agner who emerged from the banana plantation. 48
In view of the positive identification of appellants as the perpetrators of the crime, their alibi crumbled. 49 Besides, they had not strictly complied with the requirements of time and place in said defense. It should have been established that appellants were somewhere else when the crime happened and that it was physically impossible for them to be at the crime scene at the crucial time. 50 Worth noting is the fact that the distance between appellants’ respective residences in Aga, Magsaysay (Delfin Albano), Isabela and Vintar, Quirino, Isabela was established by the defense only through the manifestation in court of their counsel, Atty. Melanio T. Singson, that there is no road connecting the two places which he estimated to be 70 to 80 kilometers apart "in a straight line." 51
The trial court correctly held that the treachery qualified the killing of Agtang and that appellants shall be held responsible for murder under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code. There is treachery because Agtang was tied and therefore in a helpless condition before he was killed. 52
Aggravating Circumstances: Nocturnity, Cruelty
However, the trial court improperly considered nocturnity as a separate aggravating circumstance. While it correctly stated that nighttime must be deliberately sought in the perpetration of the crime, a close examination of the records shows no factual support that the appellants indeed deliberately considered the cover of darkness as an indispensable factor in assaulting Agtang. The prosecution established no more than the simple fact that the crime was committed at night.
Neither may cruelty be appreciated against the appellants. This aggravating circumstance is present when the wrong done in the commission of the crime is "deliberately augmented by causing other wrong not necessary for its commission." 53 The test in appreciating cruelty as an aggravating circumstance is "whether the accused deliberately and sadistically augmented the wrong by causing another wrong not necessary for its commission or inhumanly increased the victim’ suffering or outraged or scoffed at his person or corpse." 54 In People v. Dayug and Bannaisan, 55 the Court said:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
". . . There is cruelty when the culprit enjoys and delights him unnecessary moral and physical pain in the consummation of the criminal act which he intends to commit. The mere fact of inflicting various successive wounds upon a person in order to cause his death, no appreciable time intervening between the infliction of one wound and that of another to show that he had wanted to prolong the suffering of his victim, is not sufficient for taking this aggravating circumstance into consideration."cralaw virtua1aw library
Thus, where the victim suffered twenty-one (21) wounds or injuries, eight (8) of which were fatal, the Court did not appreciate cruelty as a generic aggravating circumstance in the absence of positive proof that the wounds were inflicted while the victim was still alive to prolong unnecessarily his physical suffering. 56 In another case, where the victim sustained thirteen (13) wounds, only one of which was mortal, this Court similarly did not take into account cruelty as an aggravating circumstance as there was no showing that appellant deliberately and inhumanly increased the suffering of the deceased. 57
In the case at bench, the prosecution failed to prove that the appellants inflicted the thirteen (13) wounds upon the victim in such a way that he was made to agonize before they rendered any of the blows which snuffed out his life. By Agner’s account, the appellants and Domingo dealt the victim successive blows 58 so that he must have died instantaneously, considering that nine (9) of his wounds were fatal. 59 As a matter of fact, the trial court appreciated cruelty only because it considered the number of wounds on the victim to be "not necessary to consummate the crime of murder." 60
The penalty for the crime of murder under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code is reclusion perpetua
in its maximum period to death. In the absence of any aggravating circumstances, the imposable penalty is the medium period of said penalty or reclusion perpetua
. 61 The appellants must all bear this penalty in view of the duly proven conspiracy among the perpetrators of the crime. Their cooperative acts towards the common criminal objective of taking the life of Agtang proved that they were parties to a conspiracy. 62
WHEREFORE, the herein appealed Decision convicting appellants Camilo Ferrer and Romeo Reyes of the crime of murder and imposing on each of them the penalty of reclusion perpetua
and the solidary payment to the heirs of Florante Agtang of civil indemnity in the amount of P50,000.00, is hereby AFFIRMED. No costs.
, Davide Jr., Melo and Francisco, JJ.
1. Penned by Judge Teodulo E. Mirasol.
2. Record, p. 41.
3. Ibid., pp. 101-102.
4. Decision, pp. 1-3; rollo, pp. 22-24.
5. TSN, December 5, 1978, p. 13.
6. Ibid., p. 3.
7. Exh. B; TSN, January 18, 1984, p. 7.
8. Ibid., pp. 4-8, and 16.
9. TSN, March 6, 1984, pp. 2-12.
10. Exh. B.
11. Exhs. C & D; TSN, July 13, 1984, p. 4.
12. Record, p. 1.
13. Exh. A.
14. TSN, July 13, 1984, pp. 3-4.
15. Record, p. 20.
16. Presided by Judge Julian B. de la Rosa.
17. Record, p. 22.
18. TSN, April 30, 1985, pp. 2-9.
19. TSN, October 8, 1987, pp. 3-12.
20. TSN, November 5, 1985, pp. 3-6, 10-11.
21. TSN, April 30, 1985, pp. 14-21.
22. TSN, July 2, 1985, pp. 3-10.
23. Atty. Uy took over from Atty. Melanio T. Singson as defense counsel when their last witness, appellant Reyes, testified.
24. Rollo, p. 39.
25. Ibid., pp. 40-43.
26. Ibid., p. 45. Atty. Uy filed a motion for reconsideration of the Resolution of November 11, 1992 stating that he had enclosed a manifestation showing why he failed to file brief on time, in the envelope containing the appellant’s brief, and apologizing for his failure to file a timely brief (Ibid., p. 72). On January 23, 1993, the Court denied the motion for reconsideration and required Atty. Uy to pay the fine or suffer imprisonment and the Public Attorney’s Office to submit the appellant’s brief (Ibid., p. 72). On March 5, 1993, Atty. Uy sent the Court through postal money order, the amount of P500.00 as his fine (Ibid., p. 77).
27. Ibid., p. 57.
28. Ibid., p. 116.
29. Appellant’s Brief, p. 7; Rollo, p. 93.
30. TSN, December 5, 1978, p. 7.
31. 144 SCRA 176, (September 16, 1986).
32. Appellant’s Brief, pp. 7-8; Rollo, pp. 93-94.
33. These requirements are:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"(a) There is absolute necessity for the testimony of the accused whose discharge is requested;
(b) There is no other direct evidence available for the proper prosecution of the offense committed, except the testimony of said accused;
(c) The testimony of said accused can be substantially corroborated in its material points;
(d) Said accused does not appear to be the most guilty;
(e) Said accused has not at any time been convicted of any offense involving moral turpitude."cralaw virtua1aw library
34. People v. Armada, Jr., G.R. No. 100592, August 26, 1993, 225 SCRA 644.
35 People v. Ocimar, 212 SCRA 646, 655, (August 17, 1992).
36. Ibid., at p. 654.
37. Decision, p. 3.
38. People v. Pacapac, G.R. No. 90623 (September 7, 1995).
39. People v. Torres, 232 SCRA 32, (April 28, 1994).
40. People v. Amaguin, 229 SCRA 166 (January 10, 1994).
41. People v. Manalo, 229 SCRA (January 24, 1994).
42. Exh. B.
43. Decision, p. 3.
44. TSN, November 5, 1985, pp. 15-16.
45. Decision, p. 3; Rollo, p. 24.
46. People v. Sarellana, 233 SCRA 31 (June 8, 1994); People v. Quiming 222 SCRA 371 (May 21, 1993).
47. People v. Gabas, 233 SCRA 77 (June 13, 1994).
48. Appellee’s Brief, pp. 6-10; Rollo, 123-127.
49. People v. Pija, 245 SCRA 80 (June 16, 1995).
50. People v. Amania, G.R. No. 108598, September 21, 1995.
51. TSN, July 2, 1985, p. 6.
52. People v. Miranday, 242 SCRA 620 (March 23, 1995).
53. Art. 14 (21), Revised Penal Code.
54. People v. Lacao, 60 SCRA 89, 97 (September 30, 1074).
55. 49 Phil. 423, 427 (1926).
56. People v. Pacris, 194 SCRA 654, 663 (March 5, 1991).
57. People v. Jumauan, 98 Phil. 1, 4 (1955).
58. TSN, December 5, 1978, pp. 18-19.
59. TSN, January 18, 1984, pp. 5-6.
60. Decision, p. 6.
61. Art. 64 (1), Revised Penal Code.
62. People v. Mallari, 241 SCRA 113 (February 6, 1995).