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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)
 

 
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UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE
 

 
PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE
 

   
June-2003 Jurisprudence                 

  • G.R. No. 125297 June 6, 2003 - ELVIRA YU OH v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 143675 June 9, 2003 - SPS. ROMEO and EMILY GUDA v. ALAN A. LEYNES, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 145338 June 9, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ZALDY P. LABIANO

  • A.C. No. 4738 June 10, 2003 - VIOLETA FLORES ALITAGTAG v. VIRGILIO R. GARCIA

  • Bar Matter No. 1036 June 10, 2003 - DONNA MARIE S. AGUIRRE v. EDWIN L. RANA

  • A.M. No. 99-6-81-MTCC June 10, 2003 - REPORT ON THE JUDICIAL AUDIT CONDUCTED IN THE MTCC OF PALAYAN CITY

  • A.M. No. MTJ-99-1203 June 10, 2003 - NELIA A. ZIGA v. RAMON A. AREJOLA

  • A.M. No. P-96-1214 June 10, 2003 - BERNARDINO M. FABIAN, ET AL. v. LEILA (LAILA) M. GALO

  • A.M. No. RTJ-03-1751 June 10, 2003 - ANDREA D. DOMINGO v. ERNESTO P. PAGAYATAN

  • G.R. No. 111159 June 10, 2003 - NORDIC ASIA LIMITED, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 116463 June 10, 2003 - REPUBLIC OF THE PHIL. thru the DPWH v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 119293 June 10, 2003 - SAN MIGUEL CORP. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 123054 June 10, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. FAUSTO B. OBEDO

  • G.R. No. 125778 June 10, 2003 - INTER-ASIA INVESTMENTS INDUSTRIES, INC. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 125838 June 10, 2003 - DEVELOPMENT BANK OF THE PHIL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 126281 June 10, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. SERGIO A. CARATAO

  • G.R. No. 131842 June 10, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. DIONISIO JACKSON

  • G.R. No. 139561 June 10, 2003 - SPS. FEDERICO & SARAH ATUEL, ET AL. v. SPS. BERNABE & CONCHITA VALDEZ

  • G.R. No. 141115 June 10, 2003 - POSADAS-MOYA and ASSOC. CONST. CO. v. GREENFIELD DEV’T. CORP.

  • G.R. No. 142467 June 10, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ABELARDO DE CASTRO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 143076 June 10, 2003 - PHILIPPINE RURAL ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES ASSOCIATION, ET AL. v. SECRETARY, DILG, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 143125 June 10, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL .vs. DIOSDADO R. CORIAL

  • G.R. No. 144157 June 10, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. LOWELL SALUDES

  • G.R. Nos. 144523-26 June 10, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. FLORENTINO QUIJANO SR.

  • G.R. Nos. 145452-53 June 10, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. LARRY CARITATIVO

  • G.R. Nos. 146749 & 147938 June 10, 2003 - CHINA BANKING CORP. v. COURT OF APPEALS

  • G.R. No. 149154 June 10, 2003 - RODOLFO S. DE JESUS, ET AL. v. COMMISSION ON AUDIT

  • G.R. No. 150611 June 10, 2003 - JACINTO SAGUID v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 153660 June 10, 2003 - PRUDENCIO BANTOLINO, ET AL. v. COCA-COLA BOTTLERS PHILS.

  • A.M. No. RTJ-02-1724 June 12, 2003 - RODOLFO O. MACACHOR v. ROLINDO D. BELDIA JR.

  • G.R. No. 138541 June 12, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. JOSE LARRY COLONIA

  • G.R. No. 148327 June 12, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ROMEO P. DESALISA

  • A.M. No. P-03-1679 June 16, 2003 - OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR v. BEL EDUARDO F. NITAFAN, ET AL.

  • A.M. No. SCC-03-08 June 16, 2003 - ERMELYN A. LIMBONA v. CASAN ALI LIMBONA

  • G.R. No. 95901 June 16, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ANTONIO B. SIBONGA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 138692 June 16, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. OSCAR AREO

  • G.R. Nos. 141280-81 June 16, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. RICKY L. SODSOD, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 144589 June 16, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. JUANITO PACUANCUAN

  • G.R. No. 149683 June 16, 2003 - ILOILO TRADERS FINANCE INC. v. HEIRS OF OSCAR SORIANO JR., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 149750 June 16, 2003 - AURORA ALCANTARA-DAUS v. SPS. HERMOSO & SOCORRO DE LEON

  • A.M. No. MTJ-96-1106 June 17, 2003 - CELESTINA B. CORPUZ v. ORLANDO ANA F. SIAPNO

  • A.M. No. RTJ-02-1710 June 17, 2003 - EVANGELINA C. SAMSON v. JULES A. MEDIA

  • A.M. No. RTJ-03-1784 June 17, 2003 - MANUEL M. ROSALES v. ROMULO S.G. VILLANUEVA

  • G.R. No. 123146 June 17, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ALONA BULI-E, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 128225 June 17, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. DANTE A. NARRA

  • G.R. No. 137042 June 17, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. FELIPE MUSA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 144225 June 17, 2003 - SPS. GODOFREDO and CARMEN ALFREDO v. SPS. ARMANDO and ADELIA BORRAS

  • G.R. No. 145993 June 17, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. RUFINO I. MALLARI

  • G.R. No. 148668 June 17, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. TONY L. PEDRONAN

  • G.R. No. 151440 June 17, 2003 - HEIRS OF SIMPLICIO SANTIAGO v. HEIRS OF MARIANO E. SANTIAGO

  • A.M. No. MTJ-03-1493 June 18, 2003 - RENE BOY GOMEZ v. MANUEL D. PATALINGHUG, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 123161 June 18, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. LIBERATO SOLAMILLO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 125305 June 18, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. BERNABE MONTEMAYOR

  • G.R. Nos. 127756-58 June 18, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. BENJAMIN P. MEDINA SR.

  • G.R. Nos. 131926 & 138991 June 18, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. MICHAEL U. PAGALASAN, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 134981 June 18, 2003 - FREDELITO P. VITTO v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 135857 June 18, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ADRIANO ARCA

  • G.R. Nos. 140439-40 June 18, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. FELIX HERMOSA

  • G.R. No. 144975 June 18, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. AMADOR SAPIGAO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 149147 June 18, 2003 - FELIX BAROT v. COMELEC CITY BOARD OF CANVASSERS OF TANJAY CITY, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 150327 June 18, 2003 - REPUBLIC OF THE PHIL. v. MARILYN A. PERALTA, ET AL.

  • A.M. No. 01-6-314-RTC June 19, 2003 - RE: REQUEST OF JUDGE ROBERTO S. JAVELLANA, RTC-BR. 59, SAN CARLOS CITY

  • A.M. No. MTJ-92-710 June 19, 2003 - PEDRITA M. HARAYO v. JUDGE MAMERTO Y. COLIFLORES

  • G.R. No. 154411 June 19, 2003 - NATIONAL HOUSING AUTHORITY v. HEIRS OF ISIDRO GUIVELONDO, ET AL.

  • A.M. No. P-03-1701 June 20, 2003 - BALTAZAR LL. FIRMALO v. MELINDA C. QUIERREZ

  • A.M. No. RTJ-00-1594 June 20, 2003 - PASTOR SALUD v. FLORENTINO M. ALUMBRES

  • G.R. No. 122766 June 20, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. FELIPE ESPONILLA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 127275 June 20, 2003 - PHILIPPINE COMMERCIAL INTERNATIONAL BANK v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 130759 June 20, 2003 - ASIATRUST DEVELOPMENT BANK v. CONCEPTS TRADING CORP.

  • G.R. No. 139332 June 20, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL v. NOLI A. NOVIO

  • G.R. No. 140698 June 20, 2003 - ROGELIO ENGADA v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 142503 June 20, 2003 - ROMUALDO C. PEREZ v. APOLONIO CRUZ

  • G.R. No. 142820 June 20, 2003 - WOLFGANG O. ROEHR v. MARIA CARMEN D. RODRIGUEZ, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 143604 June 20, 2003 - PRISCO LANZADERAS, ET AL. v. AMETHYST SECURITY AND GENERAL SERVICES, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 146595 June 20, 2003 - CARLO A. TAN v. KAAKBAY FINANCE CORP., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 152436 June 20, 2003 - NPC v. SPS. IGMEDIO CHIONG, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 152766 June 20, 2003 - LILIA SANCHEZ v. COURT OF APPEALS

  • G.R. No. 140872 June 23, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. PABLITO T. INGGO

  • G.R. Nos. 142683-84 June 23, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. SERGIO JOROLAN

  • G.R. Nos. 143760-63 June 23, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ROMEO B. MANLUCTAO

  • G.R. No. 144018 June 23, 2003 - FAR EAST BANK AND TRUST CO. v. TOMAS TOH, SR., ET AL.

  • A.C. No. 3849 June 25, 2003 - FELICIDAD VDA. DE BERNARDO v. JOSE R. RESTAURO

  • G.R. Nos. 105416-17, 111863 & 143715 June 25, 2003 - PHILIPP BROTHERS OCEANIC, INC. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 122109 June 25, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. JESUS TORIO

  • G.R. No. 123896 June 25, 2003 - ROSALINDA SERRANO v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 126113 June 25, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ANTONIO B. GUIHAMA

  • G.R. No. 135323 June 25, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. EDELMA LAGATA

  • G.R. No. 136773 June 25, 2003 - MILAGROS MANONGSONG v. FELOMENA JUMAQUIO ESTIMO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 146018 June 25, 2003 - EDGAR COKALIONG SHIPPING LINES v. UCPB GENERAL INSURANCE COMPANY

  • G.R. Nos. 147589 & 147613 June 25, 2003 - ANG BAGONG BAYANI-OFW LABOR PARTY v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • A.M. No. P-01-1472 June 26, 2003 - ADRIANO V. ALBIOR v. DONATO A. AUGUIS

  • A.M. No. P-02-1544 June 26, 2003 - ERNESTO LUMANTA v. WILFREDO M. TUPAS

  • A.M. No. RTJ-02-1670 June 26, 2003 - SPS. CAROLINA AND VILLAMOR GRAGERA v. PABLO B. FRANCISCO

  • A.M. No. RTJ-02-1736 June 26, 2003 - SPS. ARTURO and JOSEFINA DE GUZMAN v. FERNANDO VIL PAMINTUAN

  • A.M. No. RTJ-99-1519 June 26, 2003 - GREGORIO LIMPOT LUMAPAS v. CAMILO E. TAMIN

  • G.R. No. 137296 June 26, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. DIONISIO Q. VICENTE

  • G.R. No. 140967 June 26, 2003 - EMERITA ACOSTA v. EMILIO ENRIQUEZ

  • G.R. No. 141863 June 26, 2003 - BASILIO RIVERA, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 144090 June 26, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. MICHAEL S. MAGUING

  • G.R. No. 145305 June 26, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. REDANTE C. SANTOS

  • G.R. No. 145731 June 26, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. GREGORIO GERAL, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 148730 June 26, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. JOSE D. DELA CRUZ, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 154705 June 26, 2003 - REPUBLIC OF INDONESIA, ET AL. v. JAMES VINZON

  • G.R. No. 121828 June 27, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. RENE GAYOT PILOLA

  • G.R. Nos. 124830-31 June 27, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. GERARDO P. EVINA

  • G.R. No. 138993 June 27, 2003 - PHILIPPINE VETERANS BANK v. SANTIAGO G. ESTRELLA, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 139217–24 June 27, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. NELSON ESPERANZA

  • G.R. No. 143643 June 27, 2003 - NATIONAL POWER CORPORATION v. SPS. JOSE & MA. CLARA CAMPOS

  •  





     
     

    G.R. No. 144589   June 16, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. JUANITO PACUANCUAN

     
    PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

    THIRD DIVISION

    [G.R. No. 144589. June 16, 2003.]

    PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee, v. JUANITO PACUANCUAN, Appellant.

    D E C I S I O N


    PANGANIBAN, J.:


    The credibility of witnesses is best determined by the trial judge, who has the direct opportunity to observe and evaluate their demeanor on the witness stand. The trial court’s findings of fact will not be disturbed on appeal, unless there is a clear showing that it plainly overlooked matters of substance which, if considered, might affect the results of the review.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

    The Case


    Juanito Pacuancuan appeals the May 19, 2001 Decision 1 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Roxas City (Branch 23) in Criminal Case No. 23-882, finding him guilty of murder as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "WHEREFORE, the prosecution having convincingly and satisfactorily proven the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt for the offense charged, without any mitigating and aggravating circumstance to consider, the court hereby sentences the accused to RECLUSION PERPETUA, with all the accessory penalties provided for by law; to indemnify the heirs of the deceased victim the sum of P100,000.00 as actual and compensatory damages and the additional sum of P500,000.00 by way of moral and exemplary damages, and to pay the costs." 2

    The Information 3 dated December 2, 1998, charged appellant in these words:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "That on or about the 15th day of October, 1998, in the [M]unicipality of Aurora, [P]rovince of Isabela, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused, with intent to kill and with evident premeditation and treachery, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously assault, attack and stab with a pointed/bladed instrument one Jonathan Perdido, inflicting upon him a stab wound 1 inch wide, 3–4 inches deep, 1 centimeter above the nipple, which directly caused his death." 4

    Upon his arraignment on February 3, 1999, 5 appellant, assisted by his counsel, 6 pleaded not guilty. After trial in due course, the court a quo rendered the assailed Decision.

    The Facts


    Version of the Prosecution

    In its Brief, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) presents the prosecution’s version of the facts in the following manner:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "About 9:00 P.M. of October 15, 1998, Ferdinand Evangelista and Jonathan Perdido were at Abresias’ Lomi House, located at San Pedro-San Pablo, Aurora, Isabela, seated at a table and drinking beer. Also inside the eatery were two persons identified by Evangelista in court as Juanito Pacuancuan and a companion named Domingo Saring. While inside the eatery, an [altercation] ensued between Pacuancuan’s group and [Perdido’s] over the use of the eatery’s videoke microphone. At about 10:30 P.M., Perdido and Evangelista went out of the eatery. Evangelista left Perdido at the ‘lomi haus’ and proceeded to a nearby burger stand located a few meters south of the lomi haus for a snack.

    "About 10:40 p.m. of October 15, 1998, Roman Tumayao was on the second floor of his house, which was located along the highway about twenty (20) meters away from the ‘lomi haus.’ Thereat, Tumayao saw two persons standing along the highway near his house. Tumayao heard one of them say ‘We go back he is only a tricycle driver,’ whom Tumayao pointed to in court as Juanito Pacuancuan. Tumayao then heard the other person, who was embracing Pacuancuan, reply ‘No more, we just go home because it is bright,’ referring to the light in front of Tumayao’s house. But Pacuancuan refused and said [they will put off the light]. After the light was turned off, Pacuancuan extricated himself from the hold of his companion and immediately proceeded to the ‘lomi haus.’ Evangelista, who was about seven (7) meters away and unaware that Pacuancuan was armed thought that Pacuancuan merely boxed Perdido in front of the ‘lomi haus’ without any warning or provocation.

    "Tumayao heard a commotion from the ‘lomi haus’ and subsequently saw Pacuancuan return to where his companion was and told him ‘Let us go home it is already finished.’ Both of them ran towards Roxas.

    "Evangelista saw Perdido running away towards the Cagayan Valley Sanitarium Hospital where he died. The parties agreed that the cause of death was hemorrhage due to a stab wound as shown in the Death Certificate." 7 (Citations omitted)

    Version of the Defense

    Appellant interposes the defenses of denial and alibi. His version of the facts is as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "He testified that on the date of the stabbing he was in their house at San Pedro, San Pablo, Isabela, where he was staying with his sister. He claims that he could have been mistaken as the assailant because he probably resembled the latter." 8 (Citations omitted)

    Ruling of the Trial Court

    After evaluating the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, the trial court ruled that appellant was the perpetrator of the crime, and that treachery qualified the killing to murder. He was found to have swiftly and suddenly stabbed the unsuspecting victim on the chest without any warning, thereby depriving the latter of any opportunity to defend himself.

    Hence, this appeal. 9

    Issues


    In his Brief, appellant raises the following issues for our consideration:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    "I


    The court a quo erred in giving credence to the testimonies of prosecution witnesses and in disregarding the testimony of the Accused-Appellant.

    "II


    The lower court erred in finding the accused-appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of murder. 10

    Simply put, the issue is whether the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses are sufficiently credible to convict appellant of murder.

    The Court’s Ruling


    The appeal has no merit.

    Sole Issue:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    Credibility of the Prosecution Witnesses

    Appellant contends that a review of the prosecution witnesses’ testimonies shows that they are too inconsistent, absurd and unreliable to sustain a conviction. He maintains that the RTC should not have disregarded the testimonies given by him and his brother-in-law.

    Appellant argues that the testimony of Evangelista is riddled with inconsistencies. The latter testified on direct examination that no conversation between appellant and the victim preceded the stabbing. On cross-examination, however, this witness stated that a heated argument did transpire between the two and their respective groups.

    On the other hand, Tumayao testified that, from inside his house, he saw appellant on that fateful night despite a brownout. On the other hand, the latter contends that the former could not have identified the assailant, since there could not have been any light from an electric bulb that could have illuminated the front of the house where the stabbing occurred.

    Appellant asks why, as Tumayao narrated, the police patrol car that was then roaming the vicinity did not even chase or apprehend the former when he ran away. Appellant described as similarly absurd the prosecution testimony that the victim, after being stabbed, kept on running until he reached the hospital, without seeking help from Evangelista who was the latter’s companion.

    Appellant claims that the prosecution did not even inquire — either from the victim’s family or from the hospital where the victim died — about any weapon that might have been recovered from the crime scene. Moreover, he argues that he was not subjected to any forensic examination. Thus, he concluded, there was no trace of any independent, real and verifiable evidence establishing that he was the assailant.

    Assuming arguendo that he was the culprit, he further contends that the qualifying circumstance of treachery or evident premeditation cannot be established, because an argument immediately preceded the stabbing.

    We reject appellant’s arguments. The assigned errors are essentially factual, the resolution of which are anchored on the credibility of witnesses.

    A thorough review of the records shows that there is no inconsistency in their testimonies. When asked on direct examination whether he had heard any exchange of words between appellant and the victim immediately prior to the stabbing outside Lomi Haus, Evangelista replied in the negative. 11 On the other hand, the argument that he referred to on cross-examination had supposedly occurred inside the said establishment 12 — before, but not immediately prior to, the stabbing.

    Verily, the alleged inconsistencies in the testimony of the witness refer to what he saw and heard on two separate incidents — one occurring outside, and the other inside, Lomi Haus; one immediately prior to, while the other relatively long before, the stabbing.chanrobles virtua| |aw |ibrary

    It may seem strange that the victim, after being stabbed, kept on running without seeking help from his companion, Evangelista. This point, however, does not negate the fact that the latter witnessed the stabbing. The testimonies yielded no explanation as to why the victim kept on running, simply because no inquiry regarding this circumstance was propounded during trial. That the police did not interview his relatives or recover any bladed weapon from the crime scene is of no moment.

    These alleged lapses are not vital to establishing the guilt of appellant. They do not show his innocence. The lower court, in its judicious exercise of discretion, may fairly avail itself of the testimonial evidence presented in court, which in this case suffices to establish his culpability.

    Though the testimonies reveal nothing about the recovery of any weapon, it does not necessarily follow that none was used. Furthermore, members of the victim’s family were not the proper persons from whom to inquire about a weapon; and the hospital was not the proper place in which to search for it. Common sense dictates that under the circumstances, the inquiry should have fallen upon the investigating policemen or the witnesses to the crime.

    The non-presentation of a weapon in court was not essential to the prosecution’s case, since the stabbing had been amply established by the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses. Moreover, the positive identification of appellant as the assailant rendered superfluous any evidence of forensic examination on the deceased. Thus, neither the fact of the stabbing or appellant’s guilt is weakened by appellant’s arguments.

    Furthermore, the defense already admitted during trial that a stab wound had indeed caused the victim’s death. 13 Moreover, the Certificate of Death 14 indicates that the immediate and the underlying causes of death were cardio-respiratory arrest and a stab wound, respectively.

    On the other hand, although Tumayao testified that there was a brownout in Isabela at the time of the incident, he nonetheless categorically stated that a light powered by a generator illuminated the front of his house. 15 Thus, he was able to recognize appellant and Domingo Saring as the same persons who had earlier been illuminated by the lights of a police patrol car. 16

    To clarify, the lights of a police car that was roaming the vicinity illuminated appellant and his companion before, not after, the stabbing — not while the latter was running away. This fact explains why the police car did not chase appellant. It patrolled the vicinity sometime before the crime took place, not during or immediately after.

    In view of the foregoing, we find no cogent reason to disturb the trial court’s finding on the witnesses’ credibility.

    It is a well-settled rule that the evaluation of the credibility of witnesses and their testimonies is best undertaken by trial judges, who have the unique opportunity to observe the witnesses firsthand and to note their demeanor and conduct on the witness stand. For this reason, their findings on such matters, absent any arbitrariness or oversight of facts or circumstances of weight and substance, are final and conclusive upon this Court and will not be disturbed on appeal. 17

    Civil Liability

    However, we find that appellant’s civil liability needs modification. The amount of P100,000 awarded by the trial court as actual and compensatory damages should be reduced to P50,000, the amount of burial and wake expenses admitted by the defense. 18 In addition, the amount of P50,000 as civil indemnity for the victim’s death is hereby awarded.

    Moreover, the award of P500,000 as moral damages is excessive and must be modified. Such grant is not intended to enrich the victim’s heirs, but to compensate them for injured feelings. 19 For this reason, current jurisprudence has set at P50,000 20 the amount of moral damages in a murder case, absent any specific proof to the contrary. Finally, the attendance of the qualifying circumstance of treachery warrants an award of exemplary damages in the amount of P25,000.

    WHEREFORE, the appeal is hereby .DENIED. The decision of the trial court convicting Juanito Pacuancuan of murder is AFFIRMED with the modification that he is ordered to pay the heirs of the victim P50,000 as actual damages, P50,000 as civil indemnity, P50,000 as moral damages and P25,000 as exemplary damages. Costs against appellant.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

    SO ORDERED.

    Puno, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Corona and Carpio Morales, JJ., concur.

    Endnotes:



    1. Written by Judge Teodulo E. Mirasol.

    2. RTC Decision, p. 3; rollo, p. 16; records, p. 151.

    3. Signed by Provincial Prosecutor Anthony A. Foz.

    4. Rollo, p. 6; records, p. 74.

    5. See Order dated February 3, 1999; records, p. 79. See also Certificate of Arraignment; records, p. 80.

    6. Atty. Ferdinand E. Dalpig.

    7. Appellee’s Brief, pp. 2–5; rollo, pp. 62–65; signed by Assistant Solicitors General Carlos N. Ortega and Karl B. Miranda and Solicitor Mauro A. Elinzano.

    8. Appellant’s Brief, pp. 3–4; id., pp. 37–38; signed by Attorneys Bartolome P. Reus, Amelia C. Garchitorena and Tyrone L. Pedreña of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO).

    9. This case was deemed submitted for decision on February 22, 2002, upon receipt by this Court of appellee’s Brief. Appellant’s Brief was received by this Court on July 3, 2001. No reply brief was filed.

    10. Appellant’s Brief, p. 1; rollo, p. 35. Original in upper case.

    11. TSN, July 19, 1999, pp. 6–7.

    12. Id., p. 10.

    13. TSN, August 25, 1999, pp. 13–14.

    14. Records, p. 11.

    15. TSN, August 25, 1999, pp. 6 & 10.

    16. TSN, August 25, 1999, p. 6.

    17. People v. Magnabe Jr., GR No. 143071, August 6, 2002; People v. Obordo, GR No. 139528, May 9, 2002; People v. Bertulfo, GR No. 143790, May 7, 2002; People v. Pacantara, GR No. 140896, May 7, 2002.

    18. TSN, August 26, 1999, pp. 3–4.

    19. People v. Verde, 302 SCRA 690, February 10, 1999.

    20. People v. Ortiz, 361 SCRA 274, July 17, 2001; citing People v. Uldarico Panalo Et. Al., 348 SCRA 679, December 26, 2000.

    G.R. No. 144589   June 16, 2003 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. JUANITO PACUANCUAN


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