ChanRobles™ Virtual Law Library | chanrobles.com™  
Main Index Law Library Philippine Laws, Statutes & Codes Latest Legal Updates Philippine Legal Resources Significant Philippine Legal Resources Worldwide Legal Resources Philippine Supreme Court Decisions United States Jurisprudence
Prof. Joselito Guianan Chan's The Labor Code of the Philippines, Annotated Labor Standards & Social Legislation Volume I of a 3-Volume Series 2019 Edition (3rd Revised Edition)
 

 
Chan Robles Virtual Law Library
 









 

 
UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE
 

 
PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE
 

   
July-1997 Jurisprudence                 

  • G.R. No. 96649-50 July 1, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. LYNDON V. MACOY

  • G.R. No. 109660 July 1, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ROMEO NELL

  • G.R. No. 124914 July 2, 1997 - JESUS UGADDAN v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 123074 July 4, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. FERNANDO M. FERNANDEZ

  • Adm. Matter No. MTJ-94-1017 July 7, 1997 - OSCAR B. LAMBINO v. AMADO A. DE VERA

  • Adm. Matter No. P-97-1245 July 7, 1997 - BENIGNO G. GAVIOLA v. NOEL NAVARETTE

  • G.R. No. 105760 July 7, 1997 - PNB v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 107193 July 7, 1997 - EUGENIO TENEBRO v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 112006 July 7, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ROBERTO S. DE VERA

  • G.R. No. 114275 July 7, 1997 - IÑIGO F. CARLET v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 116962 July 7, 1997 - MARIA SOCORRO CACA v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 118940-41 & 119407 July 7, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. GREGORIO MEJIA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 119872 July 7, 1997 - REMEDIOS NAVOA RAMOS v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 122206 July 7, 1997 - RAFAEL ARCEGA, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 105284 July 8, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. IGNACIO ZUMIL

  • G.R. No. 106099 July 8, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. AGUSTIN SOTTO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 109814 July 8, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. FERNANDO MAALAT

  • G.R. No. 112797 July 8, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. NIDA ALEGRO

  • G.R. No. 114265 July 8, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. GREGORIO MAGALLANES

  • G.R. No. 115307 July 8, 1997 - MANUEL LAO v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 115703 July 8, 1997 - EPIFANIO L. CASOLITA, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 117501 July 8, 1997 - SOLID HOMES, INC. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 122308 July 8, 1997 - PURITA S. MAPA, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. SC-96-1 July 10, 1997 - DAMASO S. FLORES v. BERNARDO P. ABESAMIS

  • Adm. Matter No. P-97-1236 July 11, 1997 - MADONNA MACALUA v. DOMINGO TIU, JR.

  • Adm. Matter No. P-97-1249 July 11, 1997 - PACITA SY TORRES v. FROILAN S. CABLING

  • G.R. No. 104865 July 11, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. VICTORIANO PONTILAR, JR.

  • G.R. Nos. 113511-12 July 11, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. DANILO SINOC

  • G.R. No. 115033 July 11, 1997 - PONCIANO T. MATANGUIHAN, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 123204 July 11, 1997 - NATIONWIDE SECURITY AND ALLIED SERVICES, INC. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. P-95-1158 July 14, 1997 - EUFEMIA BERCASIO v. HERBERTO BENITO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 106153 July 14, 1997 - FLORENCIO G. BERNARDO v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 108838 July 14, 1997 - PAGCOR v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 116528-31 July 14, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. MARIETO ADORA

  • G.R. No. 108492 July 15, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. NOEL BANIEL, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 118078 July 15, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. OSCAR VILLANUEVA

  • G.R. No. 123379 July 15, 1997 - BAROTAC SUGAR MILLS, INC. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 115439-41 July 16, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. SANDIGANBAYAN, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 120437-41 July 16, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ARMANDO ALVARIO

  • Adm. Matter No. RTJ-97-1382 July 17, 1997 - REXEL M. PACURIBOT v. RODRIGO F. LIM, JR.

  • G.R. No. 105002 July 17, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. DIARANGAN DANSAL

  • G.R. No. 108634 July 17, 1997 - ANTONIO P. TAN v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 111165 July 17, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ROGELIO MERCADO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 113257 July 17, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. JOHNNY LASCOTA

  • G.R. No. 114742 July 17, 1997 - CARLITOS E. SILVA v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 118860 July 17, 1997 - ROLINDA B. PONO v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 120262 July 17, 1997 - PAL, INC. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 125195 July 17, 1997 - SAMAHAN NG MGA MANGGAGAWA SA BANDOLINO, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. RTJ-96-1362 July 18, 1997 - DSWD, ET AL. v. ANTONIO M. BELEN, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. RTJ-95-1283 July 21, 1997 - DAVID C. NAVAL, ET AL. v. JOSE R. PANDAY, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 108488 July 21, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. RODENCIO NARCA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 111002 July 21, 1997 - PACIFIC MARITIME SERVICES, INC., ET AL. v. NICANOR RANAY, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 117402 July 21, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ROLLIE L. ALVARADO

  • G.R. No. 119184 July 21, 1997 - HEIRS OF FELICIDAD CANQUE v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 121768 July 21, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. DOMINGO CASTILLO, JR.

  • G.R. Nos. 122250 & 122258 July 21, 1997 - EDGARDO C. NOLASCO v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 124347 July 21, 1997 - CMS STOCK BROKERAGE, INC. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 125510 July 21, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. RENATO LISING

  • G.R. No. 111933 July 23, 1997 - PLDT v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 112429-30 July 23, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. RODOLFO P. CAYETANO

  • G.R. Nos. 118736-37 July 23, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. TANG WAI LAN

  • Adm. Matter No. P-96-1205 July 24, 1997 - OSCAR P. DE LOS REYES v. ESTEBAN H. ERISPE, JR.

  • Adm. Matter No. RTJ-97-1383 July 24, 1997 - JOSE LAGATIC v. JOSE PEÑAS, JR., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 104663 July 24, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. DAVID SALVATIERRA

  • G.R. No. 105004 July 24, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. DIONISIO MAROLLANO

  • G.R. No. 107723 July 24, 1997 - EMS MANPOWER & PLACEMENT SERVICES v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 111211 July 24, 1997 - ABS-CBN EMPLOYEES UNION, ET AL., v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 113235 July 24, 1997 - VICTORINA MEDINA, ET AL. v. CITY SHERIFF, MANILA, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 113366-68 July 24, 1997 - GREGORIO ISABELO, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 116635 July 24, 1997 - CONCHITA NOOL, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 116736 July 24, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. BENJAMIN ORTEGA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 118458 July 24, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. RICKY DELA CRUZ

  • G.R. No. 120276 July 24, 1997 - SINGA SHIP MANAGEMENT PHILS., INC. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 121075 July 24, 1997 - DELTA MOTORS CORP. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 121867 July 24, 1997 - SMITH KLINE & FRENCH LAB., LTD. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 127262 July 24, 1997 - HUBERT WEBB, ET AL. v. PEOPLE OF THE PHIL., ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter Nos. 95-6-55-MTC & P-96-1173 July 28, 1997 - REPORT ON AUDIT IN THE MTC OF PEÑARANDA, NUEVA ECIJA

  • G.R. No. 102858 July 28, 1997 - DIRECTOR OF LANDS v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 103209 July 28, 1997 - APOLONIO BONDOC, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 110823 July 28, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ROCHEL TRAVERO

  • G.R. No. 112323 July 28, 1997 - HELPMATE, INC. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 113344 July 28, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ATANACIO LUTO

  • G.R. No. 116668 July 28, 1997 - ERLINDA A. AGAPAY v. CARLINA V. PALANG, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 116726 July 28, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. LEONARDO P. DE LA CRUZ

  • G.R. No. 118822 July 28, 1997 - G.O.A.L., INC. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 119000 July 28, 1997 - ROSA UY v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 119649 July 28, 1997 - RICKY GALICIA, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 119868 July 28, 1997 - PAL, INC. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 120072 July 28, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. FLORENTINO I. MESA

  • G.R. No. 123361 July 28, 1997 - TEOFILO CACHO v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 126556 July 28, 1997 - NELSON C. DAVID v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 117742 July 29, 1997 - GEORGE M. TABERRAH v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • SBC Case No. 519 July 31, 1997 - PATRICIA FIGUEROA v. SIMEON BARRANCO, JR.

  • G.R. No. 97369 July 31, 1997 - P.I. MANPOWER PLACEMENTS, INC. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 99030 July 31, 1997 - PLDT v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 106582 July 31, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. RUPERTO BALDERAS

  • G.R. No. 107802 July 31, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. JASON NAREDO

  • G.R. No. 108399 July 31, 1997 - RAFAEL M. ALUNAN III, ET AL. v. ROBERT MIRASOL, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 108619 July 31, 1997 - EPIFANIO LALICAN v. FILOMENO A. VERGARA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 113689 July 31, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. FELIPE SANGIL, SR.

  • G.R. No. 113958 July 31, 1997 - BANANA GROWERS COLLECTIVE, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 116060 July 31, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. CLEMENTE DE LA PEÑA

  • G.R. No. 116292 July 31, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. JIMMY PEÑERO

  • G.R. No. 119068 July 31, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. DANTE CASTRO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 121027 July 31, 1997 - CORAZON DEZOLLER TISON, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 121157 July 31, 1997 - HEIRS OF SEGUNDA MANINGDING, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 123561 July 31, 1997 - DELIA R. NERVES v. CSC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 124678 July 31, 1997 - DELIA BANGALISAN, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  •  





     
     

    G.R. No. 120072   July 28, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. FLORENTINO I. MESA

     
    PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

    FIRST DIVISION

    [G.R. No. 120072. July 28, 1997.]

    PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. FLORENTINO MESA y IGNACIO, Accused-Appellant.

    The Solicitor for Plaintiff-Appellee.

    Ma. Filomena Singh-Paulite for Accused-Appellant.

    SYNOPSIS


    On December 1991, Manuel Cambronero, a crew member of F/B Canel, drowned at sea somewhere off the coast San Andres, Quezon Province. Two (2) eyewitnesses, Jojit Almoneda and Floro Tercio, positively identified the assailant, as herein accused-appellant Florentino Mesa. On April 14, 1992, an information was filed by the City Prosecutor of Lucena charging herein appellant of the crime of Murder. Upon arraignment, appellant pleaded not guilty and underwent trial. Tried and convicted of murder by the Regional Trial Court of Lucena City, Florentino Mesa has appealed to the Supreme Court contending that he did not stab Cambronero but accidentally fell overboard from the boat and drowned in a tempestuous sea. In addition thereto, appellant contended that the lower court erred in giving credence to the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses and in finding that the victim’s death was attended with treachery.

    The Supreme Court affirmed the conviction of the appellant. The Court ruled that the testimonies of the two prosecution witnesses were not inherently improbable and not outright incredible, as argued by Accused-Appellant. The evidence has established that both witnesses were not far from the scene of the crime. On the contrary, appellant has not presented evidence that might suggest or prove any improper or ulterior motive on the part of Tercio and Almoneda to implicate him in the death of Cambronero. Anent the other issue, the Court held that the lower court’s finding that treachery exist was correct. In view thereof, the Court affirmed the decision of the court a quo.


    SYLLABUS


    1. REMEDIAL LAW; EVIDENCE; WITNESSES CREDIBILITY; UPHELD IN CASE AT BAR. — The Court rules to affirm the conviction of herein Accused-Appellant. The testimonies of the two (2) prosecution eyewitnesses were not "inherently improbable and not outright incredible." The evidence has established that both witnesses were not far from the scene of the crime. And although the waves were rough, the weather was clear that night. The bright fishing lights from both the Canel and the Emma illuminated the area. As the Emma rested alongside the Canel, the rest of the crew of both boats were presumed to be doing their assigned tasks. Against this factual backdrop, it cannot be argued that it was inherently improbable for any crew member of the Canel or the Emma to have witnessed the incident. These vessels are not luxury liners but ordinary fishing boats. Hence, it is not incredible that a stabbing incident would catch the attention of any crew member working in the same area. Accused-appellant has not presented evidence that might suggest any improper motive on the part of the prosecution witnesses to implicate him in the death of Cambronero. He maintains that there was "perfect dovetailing" in the testimonies of the two (2) eyewitnesses, yet it was accused-appellant himself who had woven a tale riddled with inconsistencies and improbabilities.

    2. CRIMINAL LAW; MURDER; QUALIFYING CIRCUMSTANCES; TREACHERY; PRESENT. — There is treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against a person, employing means, methods or forms in the execution thereof which tend directly and specially to insure its execution, without risk to himself arising from the defense which the offended party might make. An attack from behind which is sudden and unexpected establishes a prima facie presumption that the killing was attended by treachery. Jurisprudence, however has required that alevosia must be proved clearly as the elements of the crime or crimes it is alleged to qualify. Thus, there must be conclusive evidence that the person attacked had absolutely no opportunity to defend himself much less retaliate and that the means of execution was deliberately and consciously adopted by the accused. In the case at bar, witnesses clearly saw accused-appellant with his fan knife already drawn when he approached Cambronero from behind. Accused appellant stabbed Cambronero twice at the back, an attack which was sudden, deliberate and cunning. Under these circumstances, Cambronero never had the chance to defend himself. The blows were presumably fatal, as Cambronero fell and disappeared quickly into the sea. Cold-blooded murder, by any other name, cannot betray its inherent mark of treachery.


    D E C I S I O N


    PADILLA, J.:


    On 16 December 1991, Manuel Cambronero, a crew member of the F/B Canel, drowned at sea somewhere off the coast of San Andres, Quezon Province. The prosecution claimed he was murdered. The defense maintained it was an accident. Two (2) eyewitnesses, Jojit Almoneda and Floro Tercio, positively identified the assailant as herein accused-appellant, Florentino Mesa. Tried and later convicted of murder by the Regional Trial Court of Lucena City, 1 Florentino Mesa has appealed to this Court with the same disavowal — he did not stab Cambronero on the night of 16 December 1991; instead, Cambronero accidentally fell overboard from the F/B Canel and drowned in a tempestuous sea.

    The information filed by city prosecutor Romeo A. Dato reads:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "The undersigned, City Prosecutor of the City of Lucena, accuses Florentino Mesa of the crime of Murder, defined and punished under Article 248(,) of the Revised Penal Code, committed as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    That on or about the 16th day of December, 1991, in the City of Lucena, Province of Quezon, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused, armed with a knife locally known as (29), with intent to kill, with evident premeditation and treachery, did then and there wil(l)fully, unlawfully and feloniously stab one Manuel Cambronero with said weapon, thereby inflicting upon the latter stab wound(s) which caused his death.

    Contrary to law.

    Lucena City, April 14, 1992." 2

    Upon arraignment, Accused-appellant pleaded not guilty and underwent trial. The prosecution presented four (4) witnesses. The defense rested on the sole testimony of Accused-Appellant. On 18 July 1994, the court a quo rendered judgment, the dispositive part of which reads as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, this Court finds the accused Florentino Mesa guilty as principal beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder, qualified (by) treachery, and there being no modifying circumstance attendant, hereby sentences him to suffer the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA, and to indemnify the heirs of the deceased, Manuel Cambronero, the amount of Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) as death indemnity, and the sum of Forty Two Thousand Pesos (P42,000.00) for loss of earning capacity for the remaining years of life of the deceased, without [however,] subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency." 3

    The facts of the case are as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    Accused-appellant, Manuel Cambronero, Jojit Almoneda and Floro Tercio were all employees of Llamas Fishing Corporation (Llamas) which owned a fleet of fishing vessels in Quezon province. Cambronero and Almoneda were detailed as overseers or encargado of a supply boat named F/B Canel (Canel) which was piloted by Tercio. Accused-appellant, in turn, was a mechanic assigned to a fishing vessel named F/B Emma 8 (Emma).

    On 16 December 1991, at around 5 p.m., Almoneda, Cambronero and Tercio, together with five other employees of Llamas, loaded crude oil and ice into the Canel at Barangay Dalahican in Lucena City and set sail to meet the Emma at sea. At around 9:45 p.m. the Canel reached the Emma which was then anchored somewhere off the coast of San Andres, Quezon. Tercio steered the Canel’s prow alongside the stern of the Emma. Thereafter, the Canel’s crew unloaded its cargo of banyeras and ice to the Emma while Cambronero supervised the transfer of fuel from the Canel into the empty fuel drums aboard the Emma.

    Prosecution witness Jojit Almoneda testified that while he was pumping out the fuel from the Canel to the Emma, Cambronero went to untangle some ropes on the Canel’s deck. While Cambronero was stooping down, Accused-appellant suddenly appeared from nowhere, and without any warning, approached Cambronero from behind, grabbed him at the back, and stabbed him twice with a veinte nueve. Cambronero lost his balance and fell overboard. Almoneda saw him clung to a lifeboat but soon lost grip as he struggled against the waves. Accused-appellant, still holding his fan knife, stood guard at the Canel’s prow as Cambronero slowly disappeared into the water. Accused-appellant then walked away and went inside the bridge of the Canel then later transferred to the Emma. 4

    From the vantage point of the Canel’s bridge, Tercio witnessed the same incident narrated by Jojit Almoneda. 5 Like Almoneda, he was too shocked and frightened to react as accused-appellant stood guard on the Canel’s prow, brandishing the veinte nueve he had used to stab Cambronero. Tercio recounted that accused-appellant later went inside the F/B Canel’s bridge and said, "huwag kayong matakot, isa lang ang kailangan ko," 6 then hurriedly left the Canel and returned to the Emma.

    There were no fishing nets aboard the Canel at that time. When the Emma’s crew heard what had happened to Cambronero, they lighted the area where Cambronero fell and cast their nets, hoping that Cambronero might still be alive. The Canel then disengaged from the Emma to supply fuel to two (2) other Llamas’ fishing boats while the Emma lifted anchor and continued searching for Cambronero’s body. The Emma reported the incident by radio to Llamas which immediately dispatched an order to its other fishing boats in the area to join the Emma in the search for Cambronero. Llamas’ fishing boats combed the sea for nine days 7 but failed to recover any trace of Cambronero’s body.

    The defense denied any foul play in the disappearance of Cambronero. According to accused-appellant, Cambronero accidentally slipped, fell overboard the Canel, and was drowned by the big waves. His version was as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    He (accused-appellant) was in charge of receiving the fuel to be delivered by the Canel to the Emma. Earlier that evening, he received radio instructions from Llamas to expect five (5) drums of fuel oil. However, the fuel delivered by the Canel amounted only to four and a half (4-1/2) drums, short of half a drum. Cambronero then asked him to sign a receipt for five (5) drums but he refused. Cambronero was insistent but he stood his ground. His obstinate refusal angered Cambronero who suddenly grabbed a shovel and swung it at him. Cambronero missed. As he retreated he was able to grab a shovel to defend himself. For some unexplained reason, Cambronero retreated backwards and in the process, Cambronero accidentally slipped and lost his balance. 8 Cambronero fell overboard and accused-appellant reacted in the following manner: 9

    "Q What happened to Manuel Cambronero when he fell to the sea?

    A I did not know anymore, sir.

    Q Now, when Manuel Cambronero fell to the sea and you were still aboard your boat, what did you do?

    A Nothing, sir.

    Q What do you mean by your answer nothing?

    A I did not see them approach[ed] him, sir.

    Q The crew of the Canel did not make any search immediately after Cambronero fell to the sea?

    A The Canel went away from F/B Emma, sir.

    Q And what did the crew of the F/B Emma do after Manuel Cambronero fell to the sea?

    A We lifted the anchor and looked for him, sir.

    Q So the crew of the F/B Emma looked for Manuel Cambronero after you lifted the anchor?

    ATTY. ABCEDE:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    No, it was not he who searched, it was the others your honor.

    ATTY. AMBAS:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    Q And the crew of the F/B Emma immediately rather did not find Manuel Cambronero?

    A I do not know, sir." (Emphasis supplied)

    Accused-appellant maintained that Jaime Malubay, a crew member of the Canel, also witnessed Cambronero’s accidental fall into the sea but both he and Malubay were helpless in rescuing Cambronero who had already drifted far away from the Canel because of strong winds and rough waves. Accused-appellant reported the incident to the captain of the Emma and resumed work in the Emma’s engine room while the other crew members searched for Cambronero. 10

    Accused-appellant further claimed that he continued to work aboard the Emma up to 24 December 1991 after which he left Lucena and went to General Santos City, South Cotabato to visit his ailing mother. He told his wife to inform Llamas about his trip. He stayed in South Cotabato for about six months and came back to Manila on 22 July 1992. On 16 August 1992, he was served a warrant of arrest by policemen from Mauban, Quezon in his house in Mandaluyong and brought to Mauban. 11

    The trial court rejected accused-appellant’s testimony and called it "an afterthought, a pure concoction," viz:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "On the other hand, the lone testimony of the accused as his own defense suffers from inherent improbability and appears to be an afterthought, a pure concoction. Besides, his theory of what happened between him and the victim Cambronero, is too hackneyed and trivial, a cause to have resulted to a violent quarrel that nobody appears got hurt, yet it ended in horrifying loss of life for a man who is used to the sea caused by a minor slip overboard which the accused did nothing to try to help in his rescue. Then, what adds to the improbability of his lone and lonely claim is the bitter fact no one came at his side to corroborate and attest to the truth of what he declared, and even his own wife did not come forward to testify on matters he has insisted to have happened after he went ashore for his long and suspicious Christmas vacation on the pretext of visiting his ailing mother, somewhere out in the far south of the Philippines archipelago — at General Santos, Cotabato, fittingly to be considered, and aptly so, a criminal flight to avoid arrest and prosecution for what he had committed." 12cralawnad

    x       x       x


    It is hard to believe that the accused by just holding a shovel, Manuel Cambronero would step backward and feel scared, for which reason he fell down into the water below the prow of the boat. Ordinary human experience and promptings would not stir to anger a man just for refusal of another to sign a simple receipt for receiving such amount of fuel; unless of course there is running feud and bad blood between them, which none exists in this case. If it were true as he pretended the incident to have occurred, the other crew of both F/B Emma 8 and F/B Canel could have intervened in the dispute to calm them down, could have heard loud any verbal exchange of words and could have reported the cause to the manager or owner of the fishing corporation for this shortage of delivery of fuel if not checked could seriously affect the business of the employer. There was no fact on that direction that has been brought out to the court, at least to corroborate the accused, on how the incident arose and went on aboard on December 16, 1991. The Court, therefore, is not prepared to accept this kind of pretension advanced by the accused, for this assertion reveals, it is a pure fabrication and cannot stand against the positive testimonies of prosecution witnesses, Jojit Almoneda and Floro Tercio whose declarations are trustworthy and believable, there being no reason shown they would lie and tell untruth to get rid of the person of the accused Florentino Mesa who admitted Almoneda and Tercio are still his friends." 13

    Otherwise stated, the trial court held that accused-appellant’s uncorroborated denial failed to discredit the testimonies of Almoneda and Tercio which positively identified him as Cambronero’s assailant.

    In his brief, Accused-appellant assigns two (2) errors on the part of the trial court:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    I.


    THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GIVING CREDENCE TO THE TESTIMONIES OF THE WITNESSES FOR THE PROSECUTION AND (IN) ULTIMATELY FINDING THAT A CRIME WAS COMMITTED.

    II.


    ASSUMING THAT A CRIME WAS COMMITTED, THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE VICTIM’S DEATH WAS ATTENDED WITH TREACHERY.

    Accused-appellant argues that the testimonies of Almoneda and Tercio should be rejected for being "incredible" and "exactly identical down to the smallest details" ; 14 that they were not eyewitnesses to the stabbing of Cambronero but merely coached and rehearsed by the prosecution to support its theory that Cambronero was a victim of foul play.

    ". . . The two (Almoneda and Tercio) witnessed the incident at the exact time that appellant came from behind Cambronero and stabbed the latter. It is too much of a coincidence for them to have seen the alleged stabbing at exactly the same point in time. Said testimonies are all too conveniently stress the fact that Cambronero was stooping down and untying a rope when appellant allegedly came from behind him, in an attempt to create a scenario of treachery. If indeed Tercio and Almoneda both saw the alleged stabbing at the same exact point in time, the both must have been staring at Cambronero all the time while the latter was allegedly stooping down and untying a rope. If that were so, then both must have been just sitting idle and doing nothing while, of course, is hard to believe. Being crew members, Almoneda and Tercio would have been busy performing their assigned tasks, especially Tercio, who, being the pilot, could have been attending to his duties inside the pilot house. Besides, if both really witnessed the stabbing which did not either one utter or shout a word of warning to Cambronero. Their testimonies are improbable and go against ordinary human experience." 15

    Accused-appellant further asserts the following inconsistencies and contradictions that it was impossible for Tercio to have witnesses the alleged stabbing incident because Tercio was inside the Canel’s bridge; that Almoneda did not categorically state whether he was on board the Emma or the Canel which cast a doubt whether he was really an eyewitness; the finding that Llamas did not require any receipt for the fuel delivered by its supply boats was contrary to common business practice; that incredibly, neither Almoneda nor Tercio nor the rest of the crew of the Canel and Emma even attempted to rescue Cambronero in the water just after he was allegedly stabbed by accused-appellant and fell into the sea.

    Accused-appellant, therefore, prays for his acquittal. He maintains that his testimony was "more credible as it was sincere and truthful; one that cannot be easily fabricated." The truth, according to accused-appellants, is that he and Cambronero had a minor altercation because he refused to sign a receipt to cover up Cambronero’s short-delivery of fuel to the Emma. Cambronero’s fall was accidental. The sea was rough that night which caused the boats to be unstable. That explains why Cambronero slipped and fell overboard. Nature is unpredictable and even experienced seamen can drown at sea.

    In refutation, the Solicitor-General argues that the issue of credibility of witnesses has been resolved by the trial court in favor of the prosecution. This means that the trial court, in the exercise of its jurisdiction, had painstakingly applied the relevant rules of evidence, logic, and plain common sense to determine whether or not accused-appellant’s guilt had been proven beyond reasonable doubt.

    After a careful study of the records of the case, the Court rules to affirm the conviction of herein Accused-Appellant.

    The testimonies of the two (2) prosecution eyewitnesses, Tercio and Almoneda, were not "inherently improbable and not outright incredible," as argued by Accused-Appellant. The evidence has established that both witnesses were not far from the scene of the crime. Almoneda was pumping fuel to the Emma while Tercio was inside the Canel’s bridge just a few meters away. Although the waves were rough, the weather was clear that night. The bright fishing lights from both the Canel and the Emma illuminated the area. As the Emma rested alongside the Canel, the rest of the crew of both boats were presumed to be doing their assigned tasks.

    Against this factual backdrop, it cannot be argued that it was inherently improbable for any crew member of the Canel or the Emma to have witnessed the incident. These vessels are not luxury liners but ordinary fishing boats. Hence, it is not incredible that a stabbing incident, like the one perpetrated by accused-appellant, would catch the attention of any crew member working in the same area.

    Accused-appellant has not presented evidence that might suggest or prove any improper or ulterior motive on the part of Tercio and Almoneda to implicate him in the death of Cambronero. Yet, he maintains that there was "perfect dovetailing" in the testimonies of the two (2) eyewitnesses. The Solicitor General has ably refuted this argument which we quote below:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    ". . . A careful scrutiny of the record reveals that neither Almoneda nor Tercio presented a flawless corroboration or point by point reiteration of the other’s testimony as to cast doubt on their integrity and credibility. For instance, while both Almoneda and Tercio admitted being in shock with what they witnessed, only Almoneda testified having taken some steps to rescue Cambronero. Thus, Tercio’s testimony does not reflect the fact that Almoneda shouted for help and reported the crime to the ship captain. On the other hand, while Almoneda and Tercio both recounted seeing the appellant go inside the steering room, only Tercio testified about the appellant’s declaration that ‘he needs only one’ (tsn, March 11, 1993, p. 16).

    It is interesting to note how the appellant could assert that the eyewitnesses exactly parroted each other’s testimony and at the next breath allege material inconsistencies therein which detract from their credibility. In any case, the record would attest to the non-existence of any serious inconsistencies between the testimony of Almoneda and Tercio, and even within their own testimony. What the appellant pointed out to be so, such as the eyewitnesses’ statements on whether the appellant participated in the fuel delivery, are on minor matters which do not affect the substance, veracity, or weight of the testimony. Such inconsistencies even serve to strengthen the credibility of the prosecution witnesses because they erase any suspicion of rehearsed testimony." 16

    It was accused-appellant himself who had woven a tale riddled with inconsistencies and improbabilities. He could have presented testimony from Llamas Corporation to prove that he was under strict orders to issue a delivery receipt to Cambronero. In the same vein, he could have presented Jaime Malubay to corroborate his defense that Cambronero accidentally fell overboard. Moreover, not even his wife or anyone from Llamas came to his defense to corroborate his testimony that he went to South Cotabato because of an ailing mother.

    Cambronero fell overboard and accused-appellant, by his own admission, was the closest person who could have rendered immediate aid to a person whose life may have been in danger. Incredibly, Accused-appellant neither lifted a finger nor even shouted for help to call the attention of his fellow crew members. All he did, according to him, was to report the "incident" to the captain, and resumed his work in the Emma’s engine room.

    A man untying a rope was approached by another man from behind and was stabbed twice at the back, the thrust of which caused him to fall overboard and drown at sea. The defense insists there was no treachery in the case at bar because "Almoneda and Tercio, assuming their testimonies to be true, only saw the incident at the point that appellant stabbed Cambronero. There was no testimony whatsoever as to the events immediately prior to the stabbing, that is, at that point where the alleged aggression started. It is quite possible that Cambronero was stooping down but only by accident and as a probable result of their altercation." 17

    These arguments do not persuade.

    There is treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against a person, employing means, methods or forms in the execution thereof which tend directly and specially to insure its execution, without risk to himself arising from the defense which the offended party might make. 18

    An attack from behind which is sudden and unexpected establishes a prima facie presumption that the killing was attended by treachery. Jurisprudence, however, has required that alevosia must be proved clearly as the elements of the crime or crimes it is alleged to qualify. 19 Thus, there must be conclusive evidence that the person attacked had absolutely no opportunity to defend himself much less retaliate and that the means of execution was deliberately and consciously adopted by the accused. 20chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

    In the case at bar, Tercio and Almoneda clearly saw accused-appellant with his fan knife already drawn when he approached Cambronero from behind. Accused-appellant stabbed Cambronero twice at the back, an attack which was sudden, deliberate and cunning. Under these circumstances, Cambronero never had the chance to defend himself. 21 The blows were presumably fatal, as Cambronero fell and disappeared quickly into the sea. Cold-blooded murder, by any other name, cannot betray its inherent mark of treachery.

    WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Lucena City, Branch 35, in Criminal Case No. 92-266 sentencing herein accused-appellant to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua and to indemnify the heirs of Manuel Cambronero the amount of P50,000.00, as death indemnity and P42,000.00 for loss of earning capacity without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency is hereby AFFIRMED.

    SO ORDERED.

    Bellosillo and Vitug, JJ., concur.

    Kapunan and Hermosisima, Jr., JJ., are on leave.

    Endnotes:



    1. Presided by Judge Florenio E. Tierra.

    2. Rollo, p. 3.

    3. Rollo, p. 36.

    4. TSN, 11 November 1992, pp. 7-24.

    5. TSN, 11 March 1993, pp. 10-15.

    6. TSN, 11 March 1993, pp. 15-16.

    7. From 16-25 December 1991.

    8. TSN, 14 September 1993, pp. 16-23.

    9. TSN, 21 October 1993, p. 12.

    10. TSN, 21 October 1993, pp. 20-25.

    11. TSN, 14 September 1993, pp. 26-33.

    12. RTC Decision, p. 16; Rollo, p. 31.

    13. RTC Decision, pp. 18-19; Rollo, pp. 33-34.

    14. Rollo, p. 20.

    15. Rollo, pp. 73-74.

    16. Rollo, pp. 129-131.

    17. Rollo, pp. 80-81.

    18. Art. 14[16], Revised Penal Code.

    19. People v. Barros, 245 SCRA 312; People v. Esquilona, 248 SCRA 139.

    20. People v. Ledesma, 246 SCRA 769.

    21. See Serrano v. CA, 247 SCRA 203.

    G.R. No. 120072   July 28, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. FLORENTINO I. MESA


    Back to Home | Back to Main

     

    QUICK SEARCH

    cralaw

       

    cralaw



     
      Copyright © ChanRobles Publishing Company Disclaimer | E-mail Restrictions
    ChanRobles™ Virtual Law Library | chanrobles.com™
     
    RED