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UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE
 

 
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December-1997 Jurisprudence                 

  • G.R. Nos. 124360 & 127867 December 3, 1997 - FRANCISCO S. TATAD v. SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. 95-9-98-MCTC December 4, 1997 - REQUEST OF JUDGE EDUARDO F. CARTAGENA

  • G.R. No. 116354 December 4, 1997 - HEIRS OF REYNALDO ANIBAN v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 117624 December 4, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. EFREN L. HERNANDEZ, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 121508 December 4, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. JOEL CABEL

  • G.R. No. 121628 December 4, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. REX TURINGAN, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 126560 December 4, 1997 - ALFONSO PAA v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. 97-1-08-MTC December 5, 1997 - REPORT ON THE JUDICIAL AUDIT CONDUCTED IN MTC, SIBULAN, NEGROS ORIENTAL

  • G.R. No. 108505 December 5, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ARIEL OLIVA

  • G.R. No. 117196 December 5, 1997 - LADISLAO P. VERGARA v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 119078-79 December 5, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. DELVIN ARELLANO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 120318 December 5, 1997 - RICARDO CANICOSA v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 121878 December 5, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. HECTOR ESTARES

  • G.R. No. 124456 December 5, 1997 - PAL, INC. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 108722 December 9, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ERLINDA CARREON

  • G.R. No. 124554 December 9, 1997 - ETERNAL GARDENS MEMORIAL PARK CORP. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter SB-95-6-P December 10, 1997 - PEPITO GUILLEN v. LUIS CONSTANTINO

  • G.R. No. 108731 December 10, 1997 - DEL MAR DOMESTIC ENTERPRISES, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 121241 December 10, 1997 - FURUSAWA RUBBER PHIL., INC. v. SECRETARY OF LABOR, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 109169 December 12, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ROLANDO ABRERA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 110715 December 12, 1997 - ELBERT TAN v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 111953 December 12, 1997 - RENATO C. CORONA, ET AL. v. UNITED HARBOR PILOTS ASSN. OF THE PHILS., ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 112287 & 112350 December 12, 1997 - NATIONAL STEEL CORP. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 114905 December 12, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. DONNIE PERALTA

  • G.R. Nos. 117483-84 December 12, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. NORLITO CARA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 122487 December 12, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. REYNALDO BERROYA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 122653 December 12, 1997 - PURE FOODS CORP. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 122743 & 127215 December 12, 1997 - TELEFUNKEN SEMICONDUCTORS EMPLOYEES UNION v. SECRETARY OF LABOR, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 123595 December 12, 1997 - SAMMY MALACAT v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 126623 December 12, 1997 - ERNESTO MORALES v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 129938 December 12, 1997 - ALFREDO B. ENOJAS, JR. v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 109714 December 15, 1997 - BETTER BUILDINGS, INC., ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 110163 December 15, 1997 - EDUARDO A. ZANORIA v. COURT OF APPEALS

  • G.R. No. 111244 December 15, 1997 - ARTURO ALANO v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 113466 December 15, 1997 - NATIONAL FEDERATION OF LABOR, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 116487 December 15, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. MICHAEL CABAL, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 118086 December 15, 1997 - SUSAN G. CARUNGCONG v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 118463 December 15, 1997 - PAL, INC. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 122655 December 15, 1997 - REYNALDO B. ALFANTE v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 123648 December 15, 1997 - ABDULLAH A. JAMIL v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 130148 December 15, 1997 - JOSE BORDADOR, ET AL. v. BRIGIDA D. LUZ, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. P-94-1088 December 17, 1997 - OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR v. ADMER L. FERRER

  • Adm. Matter No. RTJ-97-1394 December 17, 1997 - ROMEO STA. ANA v. GRACIANO H. ARINDAY, JR.

  • G.R. No. 121736 December 17, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. SAPAL MIDTOMOD

  • Adm. Case No. 4349 December 22, 1997 - LOURDES R. BUSINOS v. FRANCISCO RICAFORT

  • Adm. Matter No. RTJ-97-1395 December 22, 1997 - PEDRO A. SAN JUAN v. LORE V. BAGALASCA

  • G.R. No. 110097 December 22, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ARNULFO ASTORGA

  • G.R. No. 117873 December 22, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. MERCY SANTOS

  • G.R. No. 118917 December 22, 1997 - PHILIPPINE DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORP. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 120435 & 120974 December 22, 1997 - ESTATE OF THE LATE MERCEDES JACOB, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 124724 December 22, 1997 - RENE UY GOLANGCO v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 125752 December 22, 1997 - IRENEO A. MANAHAN v. ARTURO M. BERNARDO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 128369 December 22, 1997 - RODOLFO CAOILI v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 129783 December 22, 1997 - MARCELINO C. LIBANAN v. HRET, ET AL.

  •  





     
     

    G.R. No. 116487   December 15, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. MICHAEL CABAL, ET AL.

     
    PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

    SECOND DIVISION

    [G.R. No. 116487. December 15, 1997.]

    PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. GUILLERMO ARINGUE y AMOGUIS, alias "Along," MICHAEL CABAL y DUMADAG, alias "Gonggong", and PERCIVERANDO PITAO y GUMAPAC, alias "Bebot," accused, MICHAEL CABAL y DUMADAG and PERCIVERANDO PITAO y GUMAPAC, Accused-Appellants.


    D E C I S I O N


    PUNO, J.:


    On August 22, 1989, an information was filed before the Regional Trial Court, 10th Judicial Region, Branch 1, Butuan City, charging Guillermo Aringue y Amoguis alias "Along", Michael Cabal y Dumadag alias "Gonggong" and Perciverando Pitao y Gumapac alias "Bebot" of murder committed as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "That on or about the 5th day of August, 1989, at about 8:45 o’clock in the evening more or less, in the City of Butuan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, in consideration of a prize, reward or promise by accused Guillermo A. Aringue, conniving and confederating together and mutually helping one another, with the use of unlicensed firearms, with deliberate intent to kill, taking advantage of superior strength, with treachery and evident premeditation, Accused Perciverando C. Pitao alias Bebot and Michael Cabal alias "Gonggong", did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and shot one NICOMEDES SALAS hitting the latter on the chest (left side) and head (left side) and inflicting upon him the following physical injuries to wit:chanrobles virtual lawlibrary

    "Internal hemorrhage due to gunshot wounds" and as a consequence of said injuries, Nicomedes A. Salas died almost instantaneously." 1

    The three (3) pleaded not guilty when arraigned on November 21, 1989. 2 The prosecution established that: On August 5, 1989, the victim Nicomedes A. Salas, together with his wife Leticia and daughter Lotlot attended a school party at St. Joseph Institute of Technology (SJIT) of which he was President. At 8:45 in the evening, they left SJIT and proceeded to their jeep, a stainless, open (doorless) type, parked in front of the school’s main gate. The place was illuminated by two (2) fluorescent lights at the gate of the building and four (4) mercury lights in the center island of Montilla Boulevard. 3

    Outside SJIT, Mr. Salas called his driver Rogelio Amora. Amora took the driver’s seat and started the engine. Lotlot sat at the rear seat. Mrs. Salas was about to board the jeep when she heard a gunshot coming from her left side. She turned her head towards that direction and saw her husband fall on the ground face down. At the same time, she noticed a man running away. The man was 2 to 2 meters away from her. In a split second, another man, 1 meters away, pointed his gun at her. Startled, she pointed her finger at him and shouted, "Hoy, hoy!." The man did not shoot her, but fired at Mr. Salas, hitting him on the chest. Amora also saw the shooting. The man fled towards La Viva, Montilla Boulevard. Mrs. Salas and Amora identified the man as Perciverando Pitao. 4 Amora alighted from the jeep and ran towards the victim. They brought Mr. Salas to Santos Clinic where he died at 9:30 p.m.

    On August 6, 1989, Dr. Reinerio Durano, the City Health Officer of Butuan City, autopsied the victim’s body. He found the cause of death as severe internal hemorrhage due to two (2) gunshot wounds. One of the bullets hit the left side of the chest, two inches below the mid-clavicular line and passed through the chest and abdomen. It wounded the lungs, stomach, spleen and intestines and pierced the left lateral abdominal wall. The other bullet hit his head between the mastoid bone and the occipital prominence and wounded the left hemisphere of the brain. Both wounds were fatal. 5

    On August 8, 1989, at about six o’clock in the evening, Sgt. Leonardo Amora of the Philippine Constabulary’s 103rd Criminal Investigation Service (CIS) Field Office, received information that the suspects in the killing of Nicomedes Salas were in Barangay Sumilihon. Sgt. Amora, along with some members of the Butuan City Police proceeded to Sumilihon where they found accused Pitao and Cabal playing basketball. Upon request of Sgt. Amora, Accused Pitao and Cabal voluntarily went to the Butuan City police station. 6

    At about 11 o’clock in the evening of the same day, Cpl. Cipriano Cabaitan investigated accused Cabal. Atty. Roldan Torralba (IBP — Agusan del Norte and Butuan City Chapter) was asked by the police to assist in the investigation. 7 The investigation was conducted in the Visayan dialect but was typewritten in English. After the investigation, Cpl. Cabaitan read and translated in Visayan what he had typed to accused Cabal. Atty. Torralba, Capt. Arturo Pojas, and the Station Commander were present as the statement was read to accused Cabal. In his statement, Cabal admitted he killed Salas for P5,000.00. He implicated accused Pitao as the other assailant and accused Aringue as the mastermind. Accused Cabal affixed his signature to the statement after Atty. Torralba had signed it. 8

    With accused Cabal’s revelation, Accused Aringue was invited for questioning. Cpl. Cabaitan asked accused Aringue whether he was willing to accept Atty. Torralba as counsel. When accused Aringue acceded, Cpl. Cabaitan took his statement. The investigation was conducted in Visayan but typewritten in English. After the investigation, the statement was read to accused Aringue. 9 Accused Aringue declared he planned the assassination of his half brother Nicomedes Salas. Allegedly, Salas refused to deliver his share in the profits of San Jose Institute of Technology (SJIT), notwithstanding that it was established with his money. He admitted providing the firearms used in the killing. 10

    On August 9, 1989, between 6:00 to 7:00 in the morning, radio reporter Vicente "Boy" Montederamos went to the Butuan City Police Station when he learned that the suspects in the Salas’ killing had been arrested. The Chief of Police gave him permission to interview the suspects. In the tape recorded interview, the three accused admitted they killed Nicomedes Salas. Montederamos made a transcription 11 of the taped interview and submitted it before the court; 12

    At 9:00 a.m. of the same day, Accused Pitao and Cabal, and some members of the Butuan City Police went to Barangay Sumilihon to recover the firearms used in the shooting. Dionetela Pitao, sister of accused Pitao turned over two .38 cal. Smith and Wesson revolvers and ten (10) live ammunitions. Capt. Ernesto Muescan of the Philippine Constabulary (PC) Crime Laboratory, Camp Evangelista, Cagayan de Oro City found that the bullet recovered from the body of Nicomedes Salas, marked NS-1, and three (3) test bullets marked TD-1 to TD-3 (Exhs. R, R-1, R-2) turned over by Dionetela, were fired from the same firearm. He likewise found that the bullet marked as NS-2 also recovered from the body of the victim, and three (3) test bullets marked T-63-1, T-63-2 and T-63-4 (Exhs. R-3, R-4 and R-5) also among the bullets turned over by Dionetela, were fired from the same firearm. 13

    In the evening of August 9, 1989, Mrs. Salas arrived at the police station. Escorted by a police officer to the room where accused Pitao and Cabal were detained, she identified accused Pitao as the second man who fired at her husband. 14

    On August 21, 1989, Judge Jose C. Adao issued a Warrant of Arrest against accused Aringue, Cabal and Pitao. 15 They were apprehended and detained at the Butuan City Jail. 16 On May 17, 1990, Accused Cabal and Pitao escaped. Pitao was re-arrested on June 26, 1990, while Cabal surrendered on July 5, 1990.

    To avoid conviction, the three accused offered alibi and repudiated their extrajudicial confessions during the trial.

    In his defense accused CABAL testified he was in his house the whole day and night of August 5, 1989. On August 8, 1989, he was playing basketball when several armed men approached him. One of them, Sgt. Amora, held his hands while another poked a firearm at his back. Sgt. Amora removed the six bullets from his revolver, inserted one bullet into the drum, turned it, and asked him whether he killed Nicomedes Salas. When he denied the killing, Sgt. Amora pointed his gun at him and played with the trigger. The police officers kept on asking him to confess. He became frightened and gave a confession. He was brought at the police station and placed inside a dark room. Sgt. Amora then ordered him to point at Aringue as the mastermind because the latter had a serious disagreement with Nicomedes Salas. When Mrs. Salas arrived at the station, she was told by Sgt. Amora that the killer already confessed. 17

    On the other hand, Accused PITAO maintains he was not present at the scene of the crime for he was working at their farm in Sumilihon. 18 He denied leaving Sumilihon, except when he attended a bible seminar in Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte. His diploma showed the seminar ended on June 12, 1988. 19

    On August 8, 1989, at about 5:00 p.m., he was playing basketball in Sumilihon, when Sgt. Amora, together with armed men in military uniform, took him and Cabal to the Butuan Central Police Station on a Tamaraw jeep. Inside the jeep, Sgt. Amora asked him whether he participated in killing Nicomedes Salas. He denied it. At the police station Sgt. Amora slapped him, held his chin up and poured 7-up softdrink on his face. When he could no longer breathe, he admitted killing Nicomedes Salas. When Leticia Salas arrived, Sgt. Amora told her the killer had been arrested. Mrs. Salas slapped him. 20

    On August 9, 1989, between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m., Vicente ‘Boy" Montederamos, a radio reporter, interviewed him in the presence of police officers. Sgt. Amora instructed him to give the same answers to Montederamos as he had given to the police at the station. He was handcuffed to a chair during the interview. When it was over, Sgt. Amora told him to go outside and point to the alleged getaway car. He was made to hold a gun while his picture was being taken. At 10:00 a.m., he was brought to the Office of the Fiscal. He told the fiscal that his statement was untrue. He did not sign it. Back at the police station, Corporal Cabaitan tore the statement to pieces and told Mrs. Salas to just identify Pitao. 21 He escaped while detained at the City Jail as somebody told him he would be liquidated. 22

    Accused ARINGUE testified that on August 8, 1989, at about 8 o’clock in the evening, policemen came at his house and brought him to the police station. After his fingerprints were taken, he was made to sit on a chair while handcuffed to an old folding bed. A policeman with armalite guarded him. Later, Pfc. Ferdinand Dacillo entered the room and asked another policeman to start the interrogation. The policeman approached him and pointed the armalite at his temple. The policeman asked him to confess. He said that accused Cabal and Pitao had already confessed. Then, they threatened to shoot him. Frightened, he admitted the crime. Then the policemen led him to the second floor. He asked for Atty. Wilfred Asis and Corporal Cabaitan assured him that Atty. Asis would be contacted. However, he was interrogated at 12:00 midnight despite the absence of Atty. Asis. The investigation lasted for two (2) hours. Then, he was brought to the office of Col. Polientes where he found Cpl. Cabaitan, Pfc. Dacillo, Sgt. Amora and Atty. Torralba inside. Atty. Torralba asked him why he confessed. He told him he was afraid of the policemen. 23

    On August 9, 1989, the police brought him to the office of Fiscal Ernesto Brocoy. The fiscal read the statement to him in Visayan dialect and asked him whether he understood its contents. He said yes and he was asked to sign it. 24

    The trial court rendered a decision dated December 10, 1993 convicting accused Pitao and Cabal of murder and acquitting accused Aringue. The dispositive portion of the decision reads:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, this Court finds accused Michael Cabal and Perciverando Pitao guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder and hereby sentences them to suffer imprisonment of reclusion perpetua; to indemnify, jointly and severally, the heirs of the victim Nicomedes A. Salas in the sum of P536,113.00 as actual damages, P2,000,000.00 as moral damages, and to pay the costs.

    "Accused Guillermo Aringue is hereby acquitted on reasonable doubt. The immediate release of Guillermo Aringue is hereby ordered only as it affects this case and for as long as there is no order requiring his continued detention.

    "SO ORDERED."25cralaw:red

    On December 22, 1993, Accused Pitao and Cabal filed their Notice of Appeal. In their Brief, they contended that:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    "I


    "THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS INSPITE (sic) THEIR INADMISSIBLE CONFESSION.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary:red

    "II


    "THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS BASED ON FACTS WHICH ARE CONTRARY TO THE TESTIMONY OF THE WITNESSES, BOTH BY THE PROSECUTION AND BY THE DEFENSE." 26

    The appeal has no merit.

    It is incorrect for appellants to make it appear that they were convicted solely on the basis of their extrajudicial confessions. In truth, the trial court disregarded their confessions after finding that they were extracted without the assistance of a competent and independent counsel. 27 But, even without their confessions, the trial court found enough evidence to convict them.

    Appellant Pitao was positively identified by Leticia Salas and Rogelio Amora, the wife and the driver of the victim, respectively. The trial court noted that Mrs. Salas was face to face with Pitao when the latter pointed his gun at her:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "ATTY. ROSALES (Private Prosecutor):jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "Q: what else did you observe after seeing Mr. Salas fallen down with face up (sic), if there was any?

    "MRS. LETICIA SALAS:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "A: I saw one man running away and I saw another man pointing his gun at me.

    "Q: What was your reaction when you saw that man pointing his gun at you?

    "A: I shouted at him.

    "Q: What did you shout?

    "A: I shouted ‘hoy, hoy?’ with my forefinger (sic).

    "Q: What did you do with your forefinger?

    "A: I pointed at him, I said ‘Hoy, hoy!’.

    "Q: And what did this man do after you pointed your finger to him calling him ‘Hoy, hoy!’.

    "A: He triggered (sic) his gun and shot my husband here who was lying down (witness pointing at her left chest indicating the location of the gunshot wound.)

    x       x       x


    "Q: Mrs. Salas, how far was that person from you when you saw him pointing his gun?

    "A: Very near.

    "Q: Very near and how far is very near?

    "A: He must have been there at this distance (interpreter estimating. . .).

    INTERPRETER

    A distance of 1 meters, more or less.

    "x       x       x." 28

    Appellant Pitao questions the accuracy of Mrs. Salas’ identification. He contends that it was at the police station where Mrs. Salas saw him for the first time and it was the police who suggested to her that he was the killer. We are unpersuaded. On the contrary, Mrs. Salas testified she saw Pitao clearly at the scene of the crime:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "Q: Will you please describe the lighting facilities in the vicinity where your husband was shot?

    "A: There were two (2) lights at the gate and there were four (4) big lights in the island without water.

    x       x       x


    "Q: How many?

    "A: There were four (4) big lamps and they were lighted at that time.

    "x       x       x.

    "Q: How about the lighting at the gate of SJIT, what kind of lights were they?

    "A: There were two (2) big flourescent lamps at the gate and there was one big light of the computer at the third floor which can light down which is about 40 watts and there were lights in the building and in the high school building about five of them. (sic)

    "Q: were you able to look at the face of the person whom you said pointed a gun at you?

    "x       x       x.

    COURT:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    That person pointing a gun at a distance of 1 meters, did you see him?

    "A: Yes, sir.

    x       x       x


    "Q: Kindly go and point to him? (Witness descending from the witness stand and pointed to a person who upon being asked answered with the name PERCIVERANDO PITAO." 29

    And on cross-examination, Mrs. Salas belied Pitao’s claim that she pointed to him on police behest:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "Q: So, you went to the police in order to pinpoint to (sic) the man. Is that correct?

    "A: Nobody ordered me, Attorney.

    "Q: But, who told you to go to the police station?

    "A: They asked me if I could identify.

    "Q: That’s it?

    "A: So, they did not order me that is the one. No, I was the one who said that is the man." 30

    To corroborate Mrs. Salas’ testimony, Amora testified it was Pitao whom he saw shoot Nicomedes Salas:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "ATTY. ROSALES (Private Prosecutor):jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "Q: Upon arriving at the jeep and you were already seated down, what did this three (3) persons or anyone of them do, Mr. Salas, Mrs. Salas, Lotlot Salas, if any?

    "AMORA:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "A: Lotlot Salas got inside the jeep first.

    "Q: And who followed her next?

    "A: Followed by Mrs. Salas but before she could get inside the jeep, I heard a shout.

    "Q: Who was that person shouting?

    "A: Mrs. Salas.

    "Q: What words did she utter when she shouted?

    "A: Hoy! Hoy!

    "Q: And what happened then after you heard those two words "Hoy! Hoy?"

    "A: I turned my head towards the voice and I saw a person who fired upon Mr. Salas.

    "x       x       x.

    "Q: Were you able to see that person? If you can see that person again will you be able to recognize him, that person who fired the shot?

    "A: Yes, sir

    "Q: Now look around this courtroom and tell us whether that person whom you said you saw fire that shot inside the courtroom?

    "A: That fellow wearing an orange T-shirt.chanrobles.com : virtual law library

    "Interpreter:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "Q: What is your name?

    "A: Perciverando Pitao. 31

    On the other hand, ample circumstantial evidence proves beyond reasonable doubt that Cabal is one of Nicomedes Salas’ two assailants. First, Leticia Salas testified she saw two (2) men fire at her husband, although she was unable to recognize the first one who was already running when she caught sight of him. 32

    Secondly, prosecution witness Armando Bernal testified that a few minutes after the shooting, Pitao and Cabal requested him to transport them from Butuan City to Sumilihon. 33

    Thirdly, while detained at the Butuan City Jail, Cabal freely admitted his complicity to radio reporter, Vicente "Boy" Montederamos:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "BOY MONTEDERAMOS:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "Q: Who ordered you to kill Nicomedes Salas?

    "MICHAEL CABAL:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "A: Guillermo Aringue.

    "Q: What was your agreement?

    "A: According to him, he would give us five thousand then he will have us land a job and afterwards we would receive an award.

    "Q: After you killed Nick Salas, where you given something in fulfillment of your agreement?

    "A: None.

    "Q: Who gave you the firearm which you used in shooting Salas?

    "A: Guillermo Aringue." 34

    His confession to Montederamos, a private person, is admissible against him, not having been extracted under custodial investigation. 35

    And last, Cabal escaped while detained at the Butuan City Jail. Escape is evidence of guilt. 36

    Appellants’ alibi is unconvincing. Both alleged they were in Sumilihon when Nicomedes Salas was killed in Butuan City. However, not a single person corroborated their alibi. 37 On the contrary, Pitao was positively identified 38 while Cabal was seen by witness Bernal in Butuan City on that fatal night:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "ATTY. ROSALES (Private Prosecutor):jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "Q: In what place did this two persons request you to take them away from the City Proper (sic)?

    "A: They were inside the house of my boss.

    "Q: And where is that house of your boss located?

    "A: At Guingona, 1st Street, Butuan City.

    "Q: At what time when they went to see you on August 5, 1989 to request you to take them out of Butuan City?

    "A: I could not exactly state the exact time when they requested me to conduct them outside of Butuan City but maybe it was around 9:00 o’clock because at that time we were busy because there was a birthday celebration. 39

    Reviewing the award of indemnity to the heirs of the victim, we note that the trial judge lumped together the awards of moral damages, attorney’s fees and lost earnings of the victim for a total sum of two million pesos (P2,000,000.00). This is an error, for the aforementioned awards are different in nature, and hence require separate determination.

    Leticia Salas testified that the victim was 49 years old at the time he died. 40 He was serving the first year of his three-year term, as member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, for which he received a monthly salary of P14,185.00. 41 His gross income for the next three years would be P553,215.00. 42 Allowing a deduction of 50% 43 from his gross income as his reasonable and necessary living expense, his lost earnings as councilor for three

    years would be P276,607.50. As president and founder of San Jose Institute of Technology (SJIT), the victim received an income of P5,000.00 a month. 44 His gross annual income would amount to P65,000. Applying the formula 45 : net earning capacity = life expectancy 46 x [gross annual income - reasonable and necessary living expenses (50%)], we determine his lost earnings to be P671,666.64. In its totality, the lost earnings of the victim amount to P948,274.14. 47

    We set aside the award of P536,113.00 as actual damages for lack of basis. During the trial, private complainant Leticia Salas testified that the following amounts were spent as a consequence of her husband’s untimely death: P33,000.00 for food during the eleven (11) days of prayer; P70,000.00 for the funeral parlor; P30,000.00 for food during the burial; P500,00 for fees to the church; P5,000.00 for mourning clothes; P20,000.00 for food during the 40th day service; P5,000.00 for tomb construction; P1,000.00 for gasoline; P495.00 for the hospitalization of Nicomedes Salas; and P200.00 for telegrams. These expenses totalled P165,195.00.

    We find the award of P2,000,000.00 as moral damages to be excessive. Although no proof of pecuniary loss is required in the assessment of moral damages, the award is essentially by way of indemnity or reparation. 48 Moral damages are not awarded to punish the defendant but to compensate the victim. 49 The award is not meant to enrich the victim at the expense of the defendant. 50 We find that an award of P50,000.00 is commensurate to the emotional suffering of the victim’s heirs. Additionally, we award P50,000.00 as indemnity by reason of the death of the victim in accord with Article 2206 of the Civil Code and prevailing jurisprudence. 51 The award of attorney’s fees is set at P25,000.00 which is reasonable considering that the proceedings at the lower court lasted four years. 52

    IN VIEW WHEREOF, the decision of the Regional Trial Court is AFFIRMED with the modification that the monetary award shall be in the following sums: P50,000.00 as indemnity for the death of Nicomedes Salas; P948,274.14 as lost earnings of the victim; P165,195.00 as actual damages; P50,000.00 as moral damages; and P25,000.00 as attorney’s fees. Costs against appellants.

    SO ORDERED.

    Regalado, Mendoza and Martinez, JJ., concur.

    Endnotes:



    1. Original Record, p. 1.

    2. Ibid, p. 120.

    3. Exh. "G", Original Record, p. 302.

    4. TSN, Leticia Sales, November 21, 1989, pp. 62-63, 67; November 22, 1989, pp. 6-7; Leonardo Amora, April 17, 1990, pp. 13-20, 35-36.

    5. Necropsy Report, Exhibit "K", Original Record, p. 10; TSN, Dr. Reinerio Durano, December 4, 1989, pp. 25-26.

    6. TSN, Leonardo Amora, November 29, 1989, p. 7.

    7. TSN, Atty. Roldan Torralba, January 9, 1990, p. 8.

    8. Id.

    9. TSN, Guillermo Aringue, September 18, 1991, p. 25.

    10. Exh. "I", Original Record, p. 33.

    11. Exhibits "L", "M", "N", Original Record, pp. 196-217.

    12. TSN, Vicente "Boy" Montederamos, February 14, 1990, pp. 4-5, 19-20, 24-25.

    13. TSN, Capt. Ernesto Muescan, April 17, 1990, p. 23; Ballistics Report No. 8-019-89, Exh. "E", Original Record, p. 300.

    14. TSN, Leticia Sales, November 21, 1989, pp. 79, 85.

    15. Original Record, p. 14.

    16. Returned Order of Arrest, Original Record, p. 13; Order of Detention, Original Record, p. 15.

    17. TSN, Michael Cabal, July 16, 1991, p. 34.

    18. TSN, Perciverando Pitao, May 14, 1991, p. 5.

    19. Decision, p. 37; Rollo, p. 85.

    20. TSN, Perciverando Pitao, May 14, 1991, p. 4-15.

    21. Ibid, pp. 19, 48.

    22. TSN, Perciverando Pitao, May 16, 1991, pp. 25 40.

    23. TSN, Guillermo Aringue, September 18, 1991, pp. 25-27, 37.

    24. TSN, Cpl. Cipriano Cabaitan, November 22, 1989, pp. 42-49.

    25. Decision, p. 51; Rollo, p. 99.

    26. Appellants’ Brief, p. 4; Rollo, p. 115.

    27. Decision, pp. 47-49; Rollo, p. 95-97.

    28. Supra note 4, pp. 62-64.

    29. Ibid, pp. 65-66.

    30. TSN, Leticia Salas, November 21, 1989, p. 78.

    31. Id, pp. 14-18.

    32. Supra note 4.

    33. TSN, Armando Bernal, April 16, 1990, p. 7.

    34. Transcription of the interview conducted by Vicente Montederamos, Exhibit N-5, Original Record, p. 214.

    35. People v. Andan, G.R. No. 116437, March 3, 1997, p. 17; People v. Tawat, 129 SCRA 431 (1984).

    36. People v. Casingal, 243 SCRA 37 (1995); People v. Asoy, 251 SCRA 682 (1995).

    37. People v. Panganiban, 241 SCRA 91 (1995).

    38. People v. Guamos, 241 SCRA 528 (1995); People v. Villanueva, 242 SCRA 47 (1995).

    39. Supra note 33.

    40. TSN, Leticia Salas, July 11, 1990, p. 8.

    41. Exh. DD, Original Record, p. 330.

    42. Annual Income = P14,185.00/mo. x 13 months

    = P184,405.00

    Income for three (3) years = P184,405.00 x 3 years

    = P553,215.00

    43. Negros Navigation Co., Inc. v. The Court of Appeals, Ramon Miranda, Sps. Ricardo and Virginia De La Victoria, G.R. No. 110398, November 7, 1997.

    44. TSN, Leticia Salas, July 11, 1990, p. 653.

    45. Supra note 43 at 16.

    46. Life expectancy = 2/3 x (80 - age of the victim of the time of death)

    = 2/3 x (80-49)

    = 2/3 x 31

    = 20.66

    47. Total lost earnings = P276,607.50 + P671,666.64

    = P948,274.14

    48. Dela Serna v. Court of Appeals, 233 SCRA 325 (1994); Development Bank of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals, 231 SCRA 370 (1994).

    49. Bautista v. Mangaldan Rural Bank, Inc. 230 SCRA 16 (1994).

    50. Korean Airlines Co., Ltd. v. Court of Appeals, 234 SCRA 717 (1994).

    51. People v. Teehankee, Jr., 249 SCRA 110-114 (1995); Sulpicio Lines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 246 SCRA 376 (1995).

    52. Del Rosario v. Court of Appeals, 237 SCRA 39 (1994).

    G.R. No. 116487   December 15, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. MICHAEL CABAL, ET AL.


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