People v. Quimzon : 133541 : April 14, 2004 : J. Austria-Martinez :
Second Division : Decision
[G.R. NO. 133541.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee, v.
RICKY QUIMZON, Appellant.
D E C I S I O N
Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorariunder Rule
45 of the Rules of Court assailing the decision1 dated December 17, 1997 of the Regional Trial Court of Tacloban City, Branch
16, in Criminal Case No. Bn-92-7-2924, finding appellant Ricky Quimzon2 guilty of murder and imposing upon him the penalty of reclusion perpetua.
In an Information dated July 28, 1992, appellant and three other
persons, namely Salvacion Lacsarom, Canoto Cabero3 and Edgardo Detona4 were charged with the crime of murder allegedly committed as follows:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
That on or about the 7thday of March, 1992, in the
Municipality of Burauen, Province of Leyte, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring,
confederating and helping one another with treachery and abuse of superior
strength, with intent to kill, did, then and there willfully, unlawfully, and
feloniously attack, assault, strike, stab and wound one Marlo Casiong with
short bolos locally known as pisao which accused provided themselves for the
purpose, thereby hitting and inflicting upon the said Marlo Casiong with fatal
wounds on the different parts of his body
which caused his death shortly thereafter.
Contrary to law.5 cralawred
Appellant surrendered to the police authorities on August 18,
19946 while his other co-accused remain at-large.
When arraigned on September 28, 1994, appellant, with the assistance of
counsel, entered a plea of not guilty to the crime charged.7 Thereafter, trial ensued.
The evidence for the prosecution established the following facts:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
On the night of March 7, 1992, victim Marlo Casiong, his sister
Emolyn Casiong, and one Rommel Redoa were at the social hall of Burauen, Leyte
attending a benefit dance.
of the same evening, while dancing with one Salvacion Lacsarom, Marlo
accidentally bumped his cousin, herein appellant Ricky Quimzon.
Emolyn and Rommel, who were then dancing
with each other and were about one meter away from Marlo and Salvacion,
witnessed the incident.
while the dance continued, Salvacion held Marlos hand and invited him to go
outside the dance hall as she had something important to tell him.
Thereupon, Marlo asked Emolyn to stay put
because he was coming back.
apprehensions about it, Emolyn and Rommel followed Salvacion and Marlo as they
went out of the dance hall.
noticed that Canoto Cabero, Edgardo Detona and appellant Ricky also went out of
the hall in a hurried manner thereby overtaking them (Emolyn and Rommel). Outside the social hall, Emolyn heard
Salvacion say ito na then saw her push Marlo towards the group of Canoto,
Edgardo and Ricky.
Canoto then grabbed
Marlo by the wrist and repeatedly stabbed him with a short bolo locally known
Edgardo followed suit
by stabbing Marlo twice at the back.
Despite being wounded, Marlo was able to get away from Canoto and
Edgardo and walked fast towards the nearby health center.
Marlo was about to reach the gate of the
health center when Ricky, who was behind Marlo, held the latters hands.
Marlo tried to free himself from the
clutches of Ricky but in the course of his struggle he fell down. Thereupon,
Ricky rode on the back of Marlo and repeatedly stabbed him on his back.
Emolyn and Rommel shouted for help prompting
an unidentified person to throw stones and utter, that is enough.
Thereafter, Canoto, Edgardo and Ricky fled.
With the help of some persons, Emolyn
brought Marlo to the Burauen General Hospital but Marlo died before reaching
the hospital.8 cralawred
In denying criminal liability, appellant interposed the defense
of alibi. He claims that he does not know Salvacion Lacsarom, Canoto Cabero and
He denies that he
stabbed Marlo Casiong.
testified, as follows:
He could not
have been at the scene of the crime when the incident happened as he was in
Barangay Patag attending another benefit dance. He arrived at Barangay Patag around 7 oclock in the evening of
March 7, 1992 and stayed there until 7 oclock of the following morning.
Barangay Patag is 18 kilometers away from
the poblacion of Burauen where Marlo was killed and can only be reached by
riding a horse or a carabao or by hiking for five hours.
He only came to know of the death of Marlo
when he went to the poblacion of Burauen.
He was included as one of the accused because he refused to testify in
favor of the prosecution.9 cralawred
Alfredo Rellesiva, then Barangay Chairman of Barangay Patag,
Burauen, Leyte; and Mauro Lobriquinto, then second Barangay Councilor of
Barangay Candag-on, corroborated appellants alibi.10 cralawred
After trial, the court a quo rendered the assailed decision, the
dispositive portion of which reads as follows:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the evidence of the prosecution
having proven the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt, the Court
hereby renders the conviction of the accused Ricky Quimzon of the crime of
Murder punished under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code. The crime
currently is punishable by RA 7659 classifying Murder as heinous crime to which
the death penalty is to be imposed.
However, the crime was committed on March 7, 1992 and the
effectivity of RA 7659 is January 1994. This act therefore cannot apply in the
case at bench.
Two qualifying circumstances are alleged in the Information;
namely, treachery and abuse of superior strength. However, the latter
circumstance is absorbed by the former.
There is no other aggravating nor mitigating circumstance. The
penalty therefore to be applied is reclusion perpetua being the medium of the
penalty from minimum which is the maximum of reclusion temporal to death.
The accused is therefore sentenced to suffer an imprisonment of
On the civil aspect, the defense admitted the expenses incurred for
the wake and burial of the victim and neither did he controvert the moral
damages suffered by the mother of the victim. The accused is ordered to pay the
sum of P53,000. 00 as actual expenses for the wake and burial, and P75,000. 00 as
moral damages payable to the mother of the victim Erlinda Casiong.
The Philippine National Police and the NBI are urged to exert
efforts to bring the at large co-accused to justice for their complicity in the
crime. Furnish them a copy. Meanwhile, until they are placed under the custody
of the law, archived the case.
SO ORDERED.11 cralawred
Hence, the present petition with the following Assignment of
IT IS SUBMITTED BY THE APPELLANT THAT THE
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF BURAUEN, LEYTE ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED GUILTY OF
THE CRIME OF MURDER WITHOUT A CORPUS DELICTI.
IT IS SUBMITTED BY THE APPELLANT THAT THE
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF BURAUEN, LEYTE ERRED IN GIVING CREDENCE TO THE
TESTIMONY OF EMOLYN CASIONG THE LONE PROSECUTION EYE WITNESS, LEADING TO THE
CONVICTION OF APPELLANT ON THE CRIME CHARGED IN THE ABOVE ENTITLED CASE.12 cralawred
In support of his first assigned error, appellant contends that the
testimony of prosecution witness Dr. Adelaida Asperin on the report of the
autopsy conducted on the body of the victim Marlo Casiong was designed to prove
the corpus delicti.
however, claims that Dr. Asperin is incompetent to testify, as she was not the
one who personally examined the body.
Instead, it was a certain Dr. Amparo Villanueva who conducted the
autopsy on the body of Marlo Casiong.
Appellant asserts that the trial court should have regarded the
testimony of Dr. Asperin as inadmissible for being hearsay; and, in the absence
of such testimony, the prosecution would not have been able to prove the corpus
A review of the oral and documentary evidence presented before
the trial court reveals that it was indeed Dr. Amparo Villanueva, not Dr.
Adelaida Asperin, who conducted the autopsy taken on the body of Marlo Casiong.
As the attending physician, Dr. Villanueva
was the one who signed the autopsy report.13 In fact, Dr. Asperin herself admitted in her testimony that she never saw the
victim, Marlo Casiong, and that it was Dr. Villanueva who conducted the autopsy
and was the one who prepared the autopsy report.14 However, Dr. Villanueva died before the prosecution was able to present her as
Nonetheless, even if Dr. Asperin is an incompetent witness as to
the autopsy report and her testimony could not have probative value for being
hearsay, we still find that the prosecution was able to sufficiently establish
by competent evidence the corpus delictiin the instant case.
Corpus delictiis defined as the body, foundation or
substance upon which a crime has been committed, e. g. the corpse of a murdered
man.15 It refers to the fact that a crime has been actually committed.16 Corpus delictidoes not refer to the autopsy report evidencing the
nature of the wounds sustained by the victim nor the testimony of the physician
who conducted the autopsy or medical examination.17 It is made up of two elements: (a) that a certain result has been proved, for
example, a man has died and (b) that some person is criminally responsible for
the act.18 cralawred
Proof of corpus delicti is indispensable in prosecutions
for felonies and offenses.19 While the autopsy report of a medico legal expert in cases of murder or
homicide is preferably accepted to show the extent of the injuries suffered by
the victim, it is not the only competent evidence to prove the injuries and the
fact of death.20 It may be proved by the testimonies of credible witnesses.
Even a single witness uncorroborated
testimony, if credible, may suffice to prove it and warrant a conviction
Based on the foregoing jurisprudence, it is clear that the
testimony of Dr. Asperin is not indispensable in proving the corpus delicti.
Even without her testimony, the prosecution
was still be able to prove the corpus delictiby establishing the fact
that the victim died and that such death occurred after he was stabbed by
appellant and his co-accused.
facts were established by the testimony of prosecution witness Emolyn Casiong.22 cralawred
The question that remains, therefore, is whether the trial court
erred in giving credence to Emolyns testimony over and above the testimonies
of the defense witnesses.
In his second assigned error, appellant questions Emolyns
credibility as a witness by pointing out that Emolyn did not execute an
affidavit regarding the events that she allegedly witnessed on March 7, 1992;
that she did not present herself as a witness during the preliminary
investigation conducted by the Municipal Trial Court of Burauen, and that she only
appeared as a witness when the case was already being tried before the trial
Appellant posits that Emolyns
delay, which consisted in her failure to execute an affidavit and her belated
appearance as a witness, puts the trustworthiness of her testimony in serious
We are not persuaded by appellants arguments.
When the credibility of witnesses is in issue, appellatte courts
generally defer to the findings of the trial court, considering that the latter
is in a better position to decide the question, having heard the witnesses
themselves and observed their deportment and manner of testifying during the
It is doctrinally settled that the assessment of the credibility
of a witness is a function that is best discharged by the trial judge whose
conclusion thereon is accorded much weight and respect that will not be
disturbed on appeal unless a material or substantial fact has been overlooked
or misappreciated which if properly taken into account could alter the outcome
of the case.24 cralawred
After going over the records of the case, we find no compelling
reason to disturb the findings of the trial court with respect to the
credibility of Emolyn.
appellants assertion, we find that she took no delay in relating the killing
of her brother to the police authorities.
Emolyn testified that shortly after the killing of her brother, she
submitted herself for investigation before the police authorities of Burauen,
However, the chief of police
informed her that she could not execute an affidavit because she is a sister of
the victim, but if the court would need her, then she can execute an affidavit.
Unschooled on the rules on evidence, it is
but natural for Emolyn to have readily accepted the explanation of the chief of
In her direct examination, she
QNow, shortly after the
killing of your brother were you investigated by the police in connection with
the killing of your brother?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AWe were investigated by
the Chief of Police of Burauen, Leyte.
QWhen you said we, to
whom are you referring?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AMe and Rommel Redoa
because we were the companions of my brother Marlo Casiong.
QIt is clear now that only
you and Rommel Redoa were the companions of Marlo Casiong on that fateful
QIn the course of your
investigation by the Chief of Police of Burauen relative to the killing of your
brother, was that investigation conducted on your person reduced into writing?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AThe Chief of Police told
me that when needed I might be investigated by the Court, I was not asked to
execute an affidavit, it was only Rommel Redoa who executed an affidavit.
QSo no affidavit was made
by the police when you were investigated?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
ANone because the Chief
of Police informed me that Rommel Redoa would only be the one to execute an
affidavit but if the Court would need me then I will execute an affidavit
because I am a sister of the victim and I may not be allowed.25 cralawred
And on her cross-examination, to wit:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
QBeing the witness will
you tell us were you the one who reported this incident to the police?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
QBeing an alleged eye
witness did you submit yourself for investigation by the police?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AMy affidavit was not
prepared because according to the chief of police of Burauen, Leyte I cannot
have my affidavit because I am the sister of the victim and only Rommel Redoa
QSister of whom?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
QWho is the police who
said because you are the sister of the victim you cannot have an affidavit?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AThe Chief of Police Nuevarez,
the one who prepared the affidavit of Rommel was sir Juanico.
QWill you still insist
that Nuevarez refused to take your affidavit because you are a sister of the
QEven if we present
Nuevarez in the witness stand you will still insist?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
QIs it not a fact that
your affidavit could not be taken because you were still in Manila?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AI was in Burauen, Leyte
when that incident occurred.
QBut one thing is you have
been in Manila?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AI went to Manila in 1994
already I went after Rommel Redoa.
QThe deceased Marlo
Casiong was a very close, aside from being your brother you were very closely
associated with him?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
QAnd you want to do
anything for him?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AI will do everything
because I was there when the incident took place.26 cralawred
As to her apparent delay in testifying, Emolyn explained that she
would not have appeared as a witness if Rommel Redoa testified.
However, she clarified that she only
appeared as a witness when the case was being tried by the trial court because
she was left with no choice but to testify in place of Rommel Redoa who told
her that he no longer wanted to be a witness because he was being threatened by
appellant, to wit:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
QWhat was your purpose in
going after Rommel Redoa in Manila?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
ABecause a subpoena
reached us informing us that the one who killed my brother had already been
apprehended and because he was one of the eye witness I have to fetch him in
Manila and I even went there twice and my mother went there third time, only
QDo you know the reason
why he went to Manila despite the fact that he is one of the witnesses in this
AWhen I went to Manila I
met him and he told me Molin I really cannot testify because I have been
threatened by Ricky and company.
RE-CROSS BY ATTY. SAY:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
QNow since Rommel Redoa
refused to testify you have to testify despite the fact that you were told by
the chief of police Nuevarez that you cannot testify in this case being a
sister of the victim?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AThe chief of police
there Nuevarez told me that if ever I will be needed by this Court I could
testify but only, my affidavit cannot be prepared then because I was the
QThen how did you know
that the court needed your testimony?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
QWere you subpoenaed by
QSo it was not the court
actually required your testimony because you did not receive subpoena?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AI did not receive any
subpoena but Rommel Redoa whom I met many times was firm that he cannot
testify because he would be killed by the accused and because it was only the
three of us, Rommel, myself and the victim who went to the dance.
QIt is only reason why you
testified in this case because Rommel Redoa has manifested that he will not
QSo if Rommel Redoa would
have testified in Court you do not need to testify?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AI will not anymore
because I have no affidavit.
QIt was your lawyer Atty.
Adaza who adviced you to testify in this case?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AHe did not, because we
could not find any other witness I have to testify.
QYour lawyer did not
advice you to testify?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
ANo, Your Honor.
QYour lawyer did not say
that you are not qualified to testify in this case because you are a sister?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
ANo, Your Honor.
QSo you are testifying to
substitute only the testimony of Rommel Redoa?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AYes, your Honor, because
Rommel Redoa did not want to testify anymore and we could not find any other
witness and since I was with them when the incident occurred, I testified here.27 cralawred
Moreover, we agree with the observation of the Office of the
Solicitor General (OSG) that the apparent delay in Emolyns appearance as a
witness is explained by the fact that while a complaint against appellant and
his co-accused was filed as early as May 7, 1992, the case was archived because
all the accused remained at-large.28 It was only on August 18, 1994 that appellant was arrested, which sufficiently
explains why Emolyn was only able to appear as a witness on February 21, 1995.
Appellant further attacks the veracity of Emolyns testimony by
calling our attention to some purported inconsistencies and improbabilities in
her account of the events that took place prior to and during the stabbing of
Appellant contends: It could not
have been possible for Emolyn to overhear the conversation that took place
between Salvacion and Marlo while they were dancing because the music was loud,
the beat was fast and furious, and Emolyn was engrossed in her dancing.
It was impossible for Emolyn to hear Edgardo
Detona, Canoto Cabero and appellant ask permission from their respective
dancing partners before going out of the dance hall because Emolyn went out of
the dance hall ahead of them.
failed to accurately recall the sequence of events that led to the stabbing of
She could not have witnessed
Marlos stabbing as she admitted that it was dark where the incident took
We are not convinced by appellants contentions.
First, it is not improbable for Emolyn to overhear the
conversation between Salvacion and Marlo while they were dancing because she
(Emolyn) testified that she was just one meter away from Salvacion and Marlo at
The fact that they were
dancing, that the music is loud and that there is another couple between them
and her does not discount the possibility that she could have heard them talking.
Given the above circumstances, it is
expected of Salvacion and Marlo to have raised their voices in order to hear
each other, which then enabled Emolyn to hear their conversation.
Second, while Emolyn admitted that she and Rommel started to go
out of the dance hall ahead of Edgardo, Canoto and appellant, she sufficiently
explained that she was able to hear the three men talk to their respective
partners because she was still near them when they asked permission from their
Emolyn explained thus:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
QHow about Canuto Cavero
when he went out together with Ricky Quimson, Edgardo Detuna, did Canuto Cavero
also leave his partner?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AHe told his partner to
wait for a while because he will be going out.
QHow about Edgardo Detuna
he also left his partner when he went out?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AHe also told his partner
to wait for a while because he will be going out.
QAnd likewise, Ricky
Quimson also told his partner to wait for a while because he will be going out?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
QSo, in other words the three
gentlemen Canuto Cavero, Edgardo Detuna and Ricky Quimson left their partners
because they will be going out for a while?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
QYou are sure of that, you
cannot be mistaken?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AI will not be mistaken.
QYou are very sure because
you heard each one of them, Canuto Cavero, Edgardo Detuna, and Ricky Quimson
left their respective partners and told them, Wait because I am going out for
a while, you cannot be mistaken.
AYes because we were
close to each other.29 cralawred
As to who went ahead of whom, Emolyn satisfactorily explained as
QIn other words it is very
clear that after Salvacion Lacsarom and your brother left you immediately
followed because you were were deeply alarmed leaving inside the hall Edgardo
Detuna, Canuto Cavero and Ricky Quimson?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AEdgardo Detuna and
Canuto Cavero were already outside ahead of us.
QDo you mean to tell us
that Edgardo Detuna and Canuto Cavero left the hall ahead of Salvacion Lacsarom
and Marlo Casiong?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AThe two, Canuto Cavero
and Edgardo Detuna were able to reach outside ahead of Marlo Casiong and
Salvacion Lacsarom because they walked fast.
QBut the fact is,
Salvacion Lacsarom and Marlo Casiong left the dancing hall ahead of everybody?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AThey went out ahead but
they were overtaken by Canuto Cavero and Edgardo Detuna.
QSo it is not correct to
say that you were the one who immediately followed Salvacion Lacsarom and Marlo
Casiong because according to you Edgardo Detuna and Canuto Cavero followed
Salvacion Lacsarom and Marlo Casiong, you were not the one who immediately
followed the pair but Edgardo Detuna and Canuto Cavero, is that correct?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
ANo because Edgardo
Detuna and Canuto Cavero were faster and they went out the shorter way while I
followed Marlo Casiong and Salvacion Lacsarom who took a little slower in going
QHow about Ricky Quimson,
was he still dancing when you immediately followed Salvacion Lacsarom and Marlo
AHe was already outside
the dancing hall because he followed Canuto Cavero and Edgardo Detuna.
QBut he was behind Edgardo
Detuna and Canuto Cavero?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
Third, we find that the alleged probabilities and inaccuracies
committed by Emolyn in recounting the events that took place prior to and
during the stabbing of Marlo refers to trivial matters that do not refer to
material points and do not detract from Emolyns clear and positive testimony
that she saw appellant and the other accused stab and kill her brother.
Settled is the rule that inconsistencies in the testimony of
prosecution witnesses with respect to minor details and collateral matters do
not affect either the substance of their declaration, their veracity, or the
weight of their testimony.31 In fact, such minor flaws may even enhance the worth of a testimony, for they
guard against memorized falsities.32 cralawred
Fourth, while Emolyn testified that it was dark inside the dance
hall, it is also clear from her testimony that the stabbing took place outside
the hall and there were fluorescent bulbs near the places where Marlo was
stabbed by Canoto, Edgardo and appellant.
When cross-examined, she testified as follows:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
QHow many times did you
meet the accused in dances?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
ASeveral times because we
meet at dances whenever there is one.
QThis incident happened
outside the dancing hall, is that correct?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
QBut the alleged bumping
of Ricky Quimson by Marlo Casiong happened inside the dancing hall?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
QAnd it happened while the
dance was going on?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AThe dance was in
progress but the four of them went out.33 cralawred
Emolyn testified further:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
QWhat kind of light was illuminating
the dancing hall?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
QHow many fluorescent
lamps were there?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AThere were two outside
and one was at the gate of the health center and one at the gate of the dancing
QHow far was the nearest
fluorescent lamp where the first stabbing of the victim was made?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AWitness points to a
distance which indicated 4 meters when measured.
QHow high was the
fluorescent lamp from the ground?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AAbout 2 meters and 35
cms. high from the floor.
QAt the health center
where Marlo Casiong was attacked by Ricky Quimson, how far was the fluorescent
AWitness points to a
distance which indicated 4 meters when measured.
QHow about the lamp from
the ground, how high?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AThe same height, about 2
meters and 35 cms. from the ground.34 cralawred
We have held that kerosene lamp, flashlight, even moonlight or
starlight may, in proper situations, be considered sufficient illumination.35 In the instant case, the fluorescent bulbs situated near the places where
appellant and his companions attacked Marlo enabled Emolyn to witness the
killing of her brother.
Thus, we reiterate the well-entrenched rule that in assessing the
credibility of witnesses, the factual findings of the trial court should be
The judge a quowas
in a better position to pass judgment on the credibility of witnesses, having
personally heard them when they testified and observed their deportment and
manner of testifying.36 cralawred
Appellant interposes the defense of alibi.
However, alibi, like denial, is an
inherently weak defense as it is easy to concoct and difficult to prove.37 While appellants testimony is corroborated by defense witness Rellesiva and
Lobriquito, the trial court correctly gave more probative weight to the lone
testimony of prosecution witness Emolyn who positively identified appellant as
one of the perpetrators of the crime.
Appellants defense of alibi fails in the face of Emolyns
positive identification of him as one of her brothers killers.
Positive identification destroys the defense
of alibi and renders it impotent, especially where such identification is
credible and categorical.38 The defense of denial is unavailing when placed astride the undisputed fact
that there is positive identification of the felon.39 cralawred
We affirm the trial courts finding that there was treachery in
the killing of Marlo.
treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against the 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.40 The essence of treachery is the sudden and unexpected attack by an aggressor on
an unsuspecting victim, depriving the latter of any real chance to defend
himself and thereby ensuring its commission with no risk to the aggressor.41 In the present case, Marlo accepted Salvacions invitation for them to go
outside the dance hall on the impression that the latter has something
important to tell him.
He has no
inkling of any impending danger on his life as he even told his sister, Emolyn,
to wait for him because he will be coming back.42 Outside the dance hall, as soon as Salvacion pushed Marlo towards them, Canoto
and Edgardo immediately attacked him without warning, inflicting wounds on the
front and back portions of his body with the use of bolos.
Although this initial assault on Marlo was
frontal it may still be considered treacherous because the attack was sudden
There is no evidence
showing that the attack was preceded by any exchange of words or any untoward
incident between the assailants and Marlo, sufficient to warn Marlo of the
impending attack on him.
The mode of
execution was in such a manner that Marlo was left with no opportunity to repel
the attack or avoid it.
was unarmed while all three assailants were carrying deadly weapons.
The treachery continued when appellant held
the hands of Marlo as the latter was running away from the initial stabbings of
Canoto and Edgardo, rode on Marlos back when the latter fell down and
repeatedly stabbed Marlo who had already been rendered weak by the multiple
stab wounds inflicted by Edgardo and Canoto.
Appellant attacked Marlo from behind and repeatedly stabbed Marlo when
he was already in a defenseless position.
In any criminal prosecution, the only requisite is that the
prosecution proves the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.
Proof beyond reasonable doubt does not mean
such a degree of proof that, excluding the possibility of error, produces
only is required, or that degree of proof which produces conviction in an
unprejudiced mind.43 cralawred
Hence, we uphold the trial courts judgment declaring appellant
guilty of murder beyond reasonable doubt.
The attendant circumstance of treachery qualified the killing to murder
as defined under paragraph 1, Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code.
Since treachery attended the killing, abuse
of superior strength alleged in the Information is absorbed by said
Aside from abuse of superior strength, no other aggravating
circumstance was alleged and proved by the prosecution.
In a criminal case, an appeal throws open the entire case wide
open for review, and the appellate court can correct errors, though unassigned,
that may be found in the appealed judgment.45 cralawred
It appears in the Commitment Order, dated August 14, 1994, issued
by the Municipal Trial Judge of the Municipal Trial Court of Burauen, Leyte,
that appellant voluntarily surrendered to SPO1 Josefino Agustin of PNP
Burauen, Leyte on August 18, 1994.46 An examination of the records reveals that it can not be considered as a
mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender to be appreciated, the accused
must satisfactorily comply with three requisites:(1) he has not been actually arrested; (2) he surrendered himself
to a person in authority or the latters agent; and (3) the surrender is
There must be a showing of
spontaneity and an intent to surrender unconditionally to the authorities,
either because the accused acknowledges his guilt or he wishes to spare them
the trouble and expense concomitant to his capture.47 cralawred
The surrender of appellant was far from being spontaneous and
The warrant of arrest is
dated June 17, 1992 and all the accused, including appellant, remained
at-large, which prompted the Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of
Palo, Leyte to archive the case.48 It took appellant two years before he
finally surrendered to the police.
between said period, appellant, through counsel, filed a Motion to Fix Bail
Bond49 without surrendering his person to the jurisdiction of the trial court.
Records do not reveal that the motion had
been acted upon by the trial court.
This act of appellant may be considered as a condition set by him before
he surrenders to proper authorities, thus preventing his subsequent act of
surrendering from being considered as a mitigating circumstance.
Moreover, we noted in the Motion to Fix Bail Bond, filed on July
9, 1992, that counsel for appellant alleged that appellant is barely 15 years
When appellant was called to
the witness stand on August 2, 1996, or four years thereafter, appellant
asserted that he was 21 years old.
stabbing incident took place on March 7, 1992, thus placing appellant to be 17
years old, a minor, when he committed the crime. The records do not show that the prosecution refuted appellants
minority; and absent any evidence to the contrary, the trial court should have
applied in favor of appellant the benefits under Article 68 of the Revised
Penal Code, to wit:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
Penalty to be
imposed upon a person under eighteen years of age.
Upon a person over
fifteen and under eighteen years of age the penalty next lower than that prescribed
by law shall be imposed, but always in the proper period.
Under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, the perpetrator of
the crime of Murder shall be punished by reclusion perpetuato death.
express provision of the aforequoted Article 68 and pursuant to Article 61,
paragraph 2, of the same Code, to wit:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
graduating penalties. -. ..
1. When the penalty
prescribed for the felony is single and indivisible, the penalty next lower in
degree shall be that immediately following that indivisible penalty in the
respective graduated scale prescribed in Article 71 of this Code.
the imposable penalty is reclusion temporalor 12 years and 1 day
to 20 years.
Considering the actual penalty to be imposed upon appellant, as
prescribed by law, is not reclusion perpetuaor death, appellant is
entitled to the application of the Indeterminate Sentence Law.50 Thus, from the penalty of reclusion temporal, one degree lower is prision
mayoror 6 years and 1 day to 12 years from which will be drawn the MINIMUM
period of the indeterminate sentence; while pursuant to paragraph 2, Article 64
of the Revised Penal Code, in the absence of any modifying circumstance, the
penalty prescribed by law should be imposed in its medium period, or anywhere
between 14 years, 8 months and 1 day to 17 years and 4 months, as the MAXIMUM
period of the indeterminate sentence.
We now come to the civil liability of appellant.
As to actual damages, we find that the evidence presented by the
prosecution do not adequately provide a concrete basis for the amount of
awarded by the trial court to the victims mother, Erlinda Casiong.
She testified that her family incurred
expenses amounting to P50,206. 00, during the wake and burial of her son.
As proof, she presented seven official
receipts amounting to P4,490. 00 only.51 Other evidence consisting of small pieces of paper which were properly
identified by Erlinda as having been signed by the persons from whom she bought
the merchandise that were used or consumed during Marlos wake and burial,
amounting to P4,020. 0052 may be considered competent evidence and admitted under Section 22, Rule 132 of
the Rules of Court.53 Thus, the prosecution was able to prove only a total of P8,510. 00.
The other receipts presented were not
properly identified and therefore inadmissible under the Rules of Court.
Nonetheless, in our recent rulings, we have held that in cases
where the heirs of the victim failed to prove their claim for actual damages,
but have shown that they have suffered pecuniary loss by reason of the death of
the victim, an award of
P25,000. 00 by way of temperate damages is
justified in lieu of an award of actual or compensatory damages.54 In People v. Villanueva ,55 we held that in cases where actual damages was proven by receipts during the
trial but said damages amounted to less than P25,000. 00, as in the
present case, the award of temperate damages in the amount of P25,000. 00
is justified in lieu of said actual damages.
The rationale for such an award of temperate damages is that it would be
anomalous and unfair for the heirs of the victim, who by presenting receipts,
tried and succeeded in proving actual damages but in an amount less than P25,000. 00,
to be placed in a worse situation than those who might not have presented any
receipts at all but would be entitled to P25,000. 00 for temperate
Erlinda Casiong testified that her son was single when he died;57 that she felt sad when her son was killed.58 We find her testimony sufficient to sustain the trial courts award of moral
damages but we reduce the amount of
P75,000. 00 to P50,000. 00 in
line with current jurisprudence.59 cralawred
Erlinda Casiong further testified that her son was working as a
helper in a passenger bus.60 The indemnification for loss of earning
capacity partakes of the nature of actual damages which must be duly proved.61 In the absence of competent evidence to prove how much the victim was earning,
the heirs of the victim are not entitled thereto.
The trial court did not award civil indemnity.
In consonance with prevailing jurisprudence,
we award the amount of
P50,000. 00 to the heirs of Marlo Casiong as civil
indemnity for his death.
The amount is
awarded without need of proof other than appellants commission of the crime
which resulted in the death of the victim.62 cralawred
decision of the Regional Trial Court of Tacloban City (Branch 15) is AFFIRMED
Quimzon is found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of MURDER and
after applying The Indeterminate Sentence Law, and there being no modifying
circumstance, he is sentenced to suffer imprisonment, from eight (8) years and
one (1) day of prision mayoras MINIMUM up to fourteen (14) years and
ten (10) months of reclusion temporalas MAXIMUM.
He is ordered to pay Erlinda Casiong, the
mother of the deceased Marlo Casiong, the amounts of
P50,000. 00 as civil
indemnity for the victims death; P25,000. 00 as temperate damages; and P50,000. 00
as moral damages.
Costs de oficio.
Puno, (Chairman), Quisumbing, Callejo, Sr., and TINGA, JJ., concur.
Penned by Judge Leocadio H. Ramos, Jr.
Quimson in other portions of the Rollo
, Records and TSNs.
In appellants letters addressed to this
court, he alternately signed his family name as Quimson and Quimzon (Rollo
pp. 176, 180 and 183).
Spelled as Canuto Cavero in other portions of the Rollo
His family name is spelled as Detuna in other portions of the Rollo
Original Records, p. 1.
Commitment Order, OR, p. 24.
Certificate of Arraignment, OR, p. 32.
TSN, Testimony of Emolyn Casiong, February 21, 1995, pp. 4-42.
TSN, Testimony of Ricky Quimzon, August 2, 1996, pp. 3-12.
TSN, April 12, 1996, pp. 4-21; TNS, April 19, 1996, pp. 3-16.
Exhibit A, Records, pp. 7-8.
TSN, August 2, 1995, pp. 14-15.
TSN, February 21, 1995, pp. 4-42; TSN, June 16, 1995, pp. 3-7.
TSN, February 21, 1995, pp. 20-21.
TSN, June 16, 1995, pp. 3-5.
TSN, June 16, 1995, pp. 5-7.
TSN, February 21, 1995, pp. 29-30.
TSN, February 21, 1995, pp. 22-23 (emphasis ours
Art. 14, par. 16 (2),
Revised Penal Code.
TSN, February 21, 1995, p. 31.
Moises, No. L-32495, Aug. 13, 1975, 66 SCRA 151, 164; People v.
Cempron, G. R. No. 66324, July 6, 1990, 187 SCRA 248, 256.
Exhibits B, B-10, B-17, B-21, B-26, B-31, B-33, OR, p. 154-A
Exhibits B-1 to B-9, B-11 to B-16, B-18 to B-20, B-22 to B-25,
B-27 to B-30, B-32, OR, p. 154-A series.
How genuineness of handwriting proved
. The handwriting of a
person may be proved by any witness who believes it to be the handwriting of
such person because he has seen the person write, or has been writing
purporting to be his upon which the witness has acted or been charged, and has
thus acquired knowledge of the handwriting of such person.
Evidence respecting the handwriting may also
be given by a comparison, made by the witness or the court, with writings
admitted or treated as genuine by the party against whom the evidence is
offered, or proved to be genuine to the satisfaction of the judge.
G. R. No. 139177, August 11, 2003.
TSN, March 19, 1997, p. 4; Exhibit D, Records, p. 296.
TSN, October 12, 1995; p. 7.
De Vera, 312 SCRA 640 (1990).
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