[G.R. NO. 140385. April 14, 2004]PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee, v. MARIO MARCELO y DELA CRUZ,appellant.
[G.R. NO. 140385.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee, v.
MARIO MARCELO y DELA CRUZ, Appellant.
D E C I S I O N
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
Before us is an appeal from the Decision1 of
the Regional Trial Court of Macabebe, Pampanga, Branch 55, in Criminal Case No.
98-2107-M, finding appellant Mario Marcelo guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
murder under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, sentencing him to suffer
the penalty of reclusion perpetuaand
ordering him to indemnify the heirs of the victim Rodelio Manalang, the amount
P50,000 and to pay P80,000 as actual damages and the costs of
On August 11, 1998, an Information charging Mario Marcelo with
murder was filed with the Regional Trial Court. The accusatory portion of the Information reads:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
That on or about the 11thday of June 1998, in Barangay
Sua, Municipality of Masantol, Province of Pampanga, Philippines and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, MARIO MARCELO Y
DELA CRUZ, with intent to kill, armed with a bladed weapon, with treachery and
evident premeditation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
assault, attack and stab Rodel (sic)
Manalang, thereby inflicting upon the latter stab wounds on the different parts
of his body which were the direct and immediate cause of his death shortly
Contrary to law.3 cralawred
On his arraignment, Mario Marcelo, assisted by counsel, entered a
plea of not guilty.
The Case for the
At about 6:00 p. m. on June 11, 1998, Christopher Sunga and his
friends Rodel Bautista, Rodelio Manalang, Arsenio Madrigo, and Ednor Cabrera
were in the house of Dominador Sunga, Christophers father, located at Barrio
Sua, Masantol, Pampanga.
having a drinking spree in celebration of Christophers birthday.
At about 8:00 to 9:00 p. m.,
arrived with the appellant.
joined Christopher and his friends in their drinking and merrymaking.
After sometime, a commotion ensued when the
appellant created trouble and challenged Ednor Cabrera to a duel.
Christophers mother tried to calm the
When she failed,
Dominador intervened and succeeded in bringing the appellant home.
At about 11:00 p. m.,
Christopher and his friends agreed to call
it a night. Christopher told his parents that he, along with Madrigo and
Bautista would accompany Manalang to their house. As they were passing by the house of the appellant, the latter
sneaked from behind Manalang and stabbed him at the back.
Bautista tried to restrain the appellant,
but the latter stabbed him on the right arm.
Afraid for his life, Bautista ran to their house and passed out.
When he regained consciousness, Bautista was
already at the Jose B. Lingad Hospital in San Fernando, Pampanga, being treated
for his wounds.
Meanwhile, the appellant continued stabbing Manalang.
Christopher and Madrigo ran to the Bantay
Bayan Office for help.
When they met
Dominador on the way, they informed him of the stabbing incident.
Dominador, together with some barangay
tanods, proceeded to the place of the incident to conduct an investigation.
On their way, Dominador saw Bautista who was
then fleeing to their house and noticed the wound on the latters right
Bautista told Dominador that he
and Manalang were stabbed by the appellant.
Dominador then rushed to the house of the appellant, and saw the
bloodied body of Manalang lying by the roadside.5 cralawred
The appellant was nearby, armed with a. 22 air rifle.
Dominador ordered the barangay tanods to
bring Manalang to the hospital.
talked to the appellant, but the latter threatened to shoot him if he came
Dominador managed to calm the
appellant and bring him to his house.
While he was on his way home, Dominador saw SPO2 Nicolas Yabut
and SPO3 Francisco V. Cortez, police officers of Masantol, Pampanga, who were
on their way to arrest the appellant.
Dominador accompanied them to the appellants house.6 SPO1
Renato Layug and SPO2 Nicolas Yabut brought the appellant to the police
Dr. Eduardo T. Vargas, Medico-Legal Officer of the National
Bureau of Investigation, performed an autopsy on the cadaver of Manalang and
signed his Autopsy Report No. CNO-98-5-118 which
contained the following findings:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
Pallor, integument and conjunctivae.
Abrasions, 6. 0 x 1. 5 cms.,
wall, left side; 4. 0 x 1. 5 cms. dorsal aspect, right hand.
Incised stab wound, 2. 0 cms.,
chest wall, left side.
Stab wounds, all edges clean cut, with one sharp and the other
(1) 2. 0 cms.,
located on the chest wall
along mid-axillary line, left side, 24. 5 cms. from the anterior median line,
directed forward, upward, medially, involving the skin and underlying soft
tissues into the left thoracic cavity, penetrating lower lobe of the left lung
with an approximate depth of 7. 0 cms.
(2) 3. 0 cms.,
located on the chest wall
along posterior axillary line, left side, 24. 5 cms. from the posterior median
line, directed forward, the left thoracic cavity, penetrating upper lobe of
left lung with an approximate depth of 8. 0 cms.
(3) 3. 0 cms.,
located on the posterior
abdominal wall, left side 18. 0 cms. from the posterior medial line, directed
backward, upward, upward medially, involving the skin and underlying soft
tissues, communicating with another wound, 2. 5 cms. in length, located on the
posterior abdominal wall, left side, 7. 5 cms. from the posterior median line.
(4) 3. 0 cms. located on the anterior
aspect, left leg, 29. 0 cms. above the left heel, directed backward, upward,
laterally, involving the skin and underlying soft tissues, communicating with
another wound 2. 0 cms. in length, located on the posterolateral aspect, left
32. 0 cms. above the left heel.9 cralawred
Bautista and Christopher executed their Sinumpaang
Salaysay10 on June 16, 1998 and June 13, 1998, respectively, in which they identified the
appellant as the assailant of Manalang.
During the trial, the prosecution adduced receipts evidencing the
expenses of the heirs during the wake and the funeral services for the victim.11
The Case for the
The appellant invoked self-defense. He testified that he was engaged in the sale of puto kutsintawhich he himself
He was also a barangay tanod.13 At about 8:00 p. m. on June 11, 1998, he was fetched from his house by chief
barangay tanod Dominador Sunga and barangay tanod Romeo Usi.
He was told that they were to settle a
dispute in the barrio.
the dispute, Usi went home.
invited the appellant to his house where his son, Christopher, was celebrating
When they reached
Dominadors house, the appellant saw that Christopher and his friends were
having a drinking spree.
offered him a drink which he took.
After finishing it, he bid Christopher and his friends good bye and went
At about 11:00 p. m.,
he and his wife were cooking puto kutsinta in their house.
Their four children were already
Manalang, Christopher and two
others whose identity he did not know but whom he later learned were Bautista
and Madrigo, suddenly barged inside his house and took turns in mauling him.15 Bautista held back his hands while Madrigo and Christopher punched and kicked
him. Manalang hit him with a bamboo club.
He fought back and struggled to free himself from Bautistas hold.
As he was struggling to extricate himself,
Christopher and his cohorts continued to maul him. The appellant managed to get out of his house, and Christopher
and his cohorts followed him.
continued mauling him, causing him to fall to the ground.
Manalang continued to beat him using a
bamboo club and even threatened to kill him and the members of his family.16 Because of fist blows from Christopher and his cohorts, the appellants eyes
were swollen and he could hardly see.
Although weakened from the beatings, he managed to stand up, pulled out
his knife, and stabbed Manalang.
also stabbed Bautista on the right arm.
He was so dizzy that he lost consciousness.17 cralawred
When he came to his senses, Christopher and his cohorts were
nowhere to be found.
Teresita, was wiping his bloodied and bruised face with a cloth.18 He asked his wife to fetch the parents of Manalang and when they arrived, he
told them what happened. Manalangs parents apologized to him and even inquired
where Manalang was.19 He
replied that he did not know.
Because of the incident, the appellants house was in
The puto kutsintahe and his wife prepared were scattered.
Momentarily, barangay tanod Romeo Usi
arrived with some police officers.20 The
tanods and the policemen told him that Manalang was already dead.21 He explained to the police officers that Manalang and three others forcibly
entered his house, mauled him and threatened to kill him and his family.
Thereafter, he voluntarily surrendered to
the police officers, and went with them to the police station.
He executed a Sinumpaang Kontra Salaysay.22 His
wife, Teresita Marcelo also executed a Salaysay.23 Both alleged that at 11:00 a. m. on June 11, 1998, while they were cooking puto kutsinta, Manalang, Bautista,
Christopher and Madrigo arrived at their house and mauled the appellant without
any provocation on his part.
himself and his family, the appellant fought back and stabbed Bautista and
He adduced in evidence a
Medico-Legal Certificate showing that he sustained the following injuries, to
-Lacerated wound mucosa cheek appr. 0. 5 cm. (L)
-Subconjunctival hemorrhage cu
-Contusion hematoma lower lip
-Contusion frontal area (R)
-Abrasion confluent deltoid area (R)
-Linear abrasion appr. 5 cms. (R)24 cralawred
The appellant was also subjected to a chest x-ray.
His injuries required medical attention for
a period of less than nine days.25 cralawred
The appellant filed a complaint26 for
frustrated murder against Bautista, Madrigo and Christopher Sunga with the
Office of the Public Prosecutor, docketed as I. S. No. 98-F-1569.
The complaint was dismissed by the
Provincial Prosecutor on September 15, 1998.27 Bautista also filed a criminal complaint against the appellant for attempted
On July 27, 1999, the appellant filed a Motion to Re-Open the
defenses case on account of Ednor Cabreras willingness to testify for him.28 The court denied his motion.
On August 2, 1999,29 the
trial court rendered judgment convicting the appellant of the crime charged,
the decretal portion of which reads:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
WHEREFORE, the Court finds the accused guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of murder defined under Art. 248 of the Revised Penal Code
and as a consequence of which Mario Marcelo y Dela Cruz is hereby sentenced to
suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua.
He is likewise ordered to indemnify the family of the victim the amount
P50,000. 00 plus P80,000. 00 actual damages and to pay the cost
of the proceedings.30 cralawred
On August 16, 1999, the appellant filed a Motion for New Trial31 alleging that Ednor Cabrera, the witness sought to be presented, was discovered
sometime in July 1999, after the trial.
He alleged that Cabrera had been in hiding for fear of his life, and
nearly died at the hands of Dominador Sunga because of his refusal to testify
against the appellant before the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Macabebe,
Pampanga for attempted homicide, filed by Rodel Bautista.32 cralawred
On August 30, 1999, the court issued an Order denying the motion
of the appellant.33 He
filed a motion for reconsideration34 but
the same was also denied in an Order dated September 10, 1999.35 cralawred
The appellant now assails the decision of the trial court,
THE COURT A-QUOGRAVELY ERRED IN
FINDING THAT THE GUILT OF THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT FOR THE CRIME CHARGED HAS BEEN
PROVEN BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.
THE COURT A-QUOGRAVELY ERRED IN
NOT GIVING WEIGHT AND CREDENCE TO ACCUSED-APPELLANTS PLEA OF SELF-DEFENSE.
THE COURT A-QUOGRAVELY ERRED IN
FINDING THAT TREACHERY AND EVIDENT PREMEDITATION ATTENDED THE COMMISSION OF THE
CRIME CHARGED.36 cralawred
The appellant asserts that the trial court erred in not giving credence
and probative weight to his testimony which was corroborated by the physical
evidence, i. e.,
that he acted in complete self-defense when he stabbed
He posits that Manalang,
Christopher Sunga, Madrigo and Bautista, suddenly barged in his house and
mauled him while he was cooking puto
Manalang threatened to
kill him and his family.
life and those of his family were in real peril, he stabbed Bautista and
The latter died because of
his stab wounds.
The appellant contends that assuming without admitting that he
was guilty, he could only be held liable for simple homicide and not for murder
as the prosecution failed to establish the qualifying circumstance of treachery
or evident premeditation.
For its part, the Office of the Solicitor General asserts that
the appellants self-defense theory is unbelievable and unsubstantiated.
The appellant is guilty of murder, the
prosecution having proved the qualifying circumstance of treachery.
The Courts Ruling
The appellants plea of self-defense is without merit.
The question of whether or not the appellant acted in
self-defense is one of fact.37 The
trial court ruled, after calibrating the evidence on record, that the
appellants plea of self-defense had no factual basis, and that, in fact, he
was the unlawful aggressor.
rule is that the trial courts findings are accorded finality, unless there
appears on the record some fact or circumstance of weight which the lower court
may have overlooked, misunderstood or misappreciated, and which if properly
considered, would alter the result of the case.38 This
is because of the unique advantage of the trial court of observing at close
range the conduct, demeanor, and deportment of the witnesses as they regale the
trial court with their testimonies.
trial court gave credence and probative weight to the collective testimonies of
the prosecution witnesses.
carefully reviewed the records and find no justification to deviate from the
findings of the trial court.
This Court consistently held that like alibi, self-defense is
inherently weak.39 When the accused invokes self-defense as an affirmative defense, the burden of
evidence is shifted on him to prove his defense with clear and convincing
By interposing self-defense,
the accused thereby admits having deliberately killed or inflicted injuries on
The accused must rely on
the strength of his own evidence and not on the weakness of the evidence of the
prosecution.40 If he fails to prove his defense, the evidence of the prosecution can no longer
be disbelieved and the accused can no longer be exonerated of the crime
To sustain his affirmative defense of self-defense, the appellant
was burdened to prove the confluence of the following essential elements, viz:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
(1) there must be
unlawful aggression by the victim;chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
(2) that the means
employed to prevent or repel such aggression were reasonable; andcralawlibrary
(3) that there was
lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending himself.42 cralawred
There can be no self-defense, complete or incomplete, unless the
accused proves unlawful aggression on the part of the victim.43 Unlawful aggression is a sudden and
unexpected attack or an imminent danger thereof, and not merely a threatening
or an intimidating attitude.44 cralawred
The appellant failed to discharge his burden.
failed to surrender himself to the police officers who arrived at his house to
arrest him, as well as the knife he used in stabbing Manalang and Bautista and
the piece of bamboo Manalang allegedly used to hit him.
Although Teresita Marcelo testified that she
gave the bamboo pole to SPO3 Francisco V. Cortez, the latter denied having seen
the bamboo pole.
Teresita did not
identify the name of the policeman with whom she left the knife at the police
The appellant did not allege
in his counter-affidavit45 that
his wife surrendered the knife and the bamboo pole to the policemen at the
Neither did Teresita
allege the matter in her affidavit.46 One who
acted in self-defense is expected to surrender, not only himself, but also the
weapon he used to kill or inflict physical injuries on the victim, as well as
the weapon used by the victim.47 cralawred
claim that because of the fist blows from his attackers, namely, Manalang,
Madrigo, Bautista and Sunga, his eyes became swollen and closed, such that he
could hardly see.
He felt so dizzy and
so weak that he could barely stand up.
However, the medical certificate48 he
adduced in evidence belies this claim.
There is no showing therein that the appellant suffered any injury on
his eyes despite the fist blows from his said attackers.
The appellant sustained only two contusions,
one on the lip and the other on the frontal area, a lacerated wound on the
cheek and two abrasions, which injuries would heal in nine days.
despite his weak physical condition having been completely overpowered by his
attackers, and with his eyes almost completely closed, the appellant was still
able to stab the victim no less than four (4) times: twice on the chest; once
on the abdomen and on the left leg, aside from stabbing Bautista on the right
The location, number and nature of
the injuries sustained by the victim belie the appellants claim of
Fourth. The criminal complaint of the appellant against Bautista,
Manalang and Sunga for frustrated murder in I. S. No. 98-7-1569 was dismissed by
the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Pampanga on September 15, 1998 for
lack of factual basis.50 The
appellant, likewise, failed to appeal the resolution to the Department of
The Crime Committed by the Appellant
The trial court correctly convicted the appellant of murder,
qualified by treachery under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code.
There is treachery in the commission of the
crime when (a) at the time of the attack, the victim was not in a position to
defend himself; (b) the offender consciously and deliberately adopted the
particular means, method and form of attack employed by him.51 cralawred
In the present case, after a drinking spree, the victim and his
friends were walking towards home when suddenly, the appellant came out from
nowhere, armed with a knife.
any warning, the appellant stabbed the victim on the vital parts of his body,
ensuring the latters immediate death.
Thus, the appellant killed the victim in a treacherous manner.
We note that the offense was committed at nighttime.
However, in order for the aggravating
circumstance of nighttime to be appreciated, it must be shown that it
facilitated the commission of the crime, or was especially sought or taken
advantage of by the accused for the purpose of impunity.52 However, it was not shown that the same was specifically employed to facilitate
the commission of the crime.
The appellant, likewise, alleged that he voluntarily surrendered
to the police authorities.
voluntary surrender to be appreciated, the following requisites should be
present: (1) the offender has not been actually arrested; (2) the offender surrendered
himself to a person in authority or the latters agent; and (3) the surrender
The surrender must be
spontaneous, made in such a manner that it shows the interest of the accused to
surrender unconditionally to the authorities, either because he acknowledged
his guilt or he wishes to save them the trouble and expenses that would
necessarily be incurred in the search and capture.53 In the case at bar, SPO4 Cortez testified that the appellant did not
voluntarily surrender but was brought by the police officers to the police
Under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by
Republic Act 7659, murder is punishable by reclusion perpetuato death.
generic or special aggravating circumstances, the penalty imposable on the
appellant, should be the lower penalty, which is reclusion perpetua.
Civil Liabilities of the Appellant
Conformably to recent jurisprudence, the award of indemnity to
the heirs of the victim in the amount of
P50,000 is sustained, it being
awarded without need of proof other than the fact that a crime was committed
resulting in the death of the victim and that the accused was responsible
therefor.54 In view of the attendance of treachery, qualifying the killing to murder, an
award of exemplary damages in the amount of P25,000 is in order.55 cralawred
We reduce the award of actual damages in the amount of
to P18,50056 which is the amount duly supported by receipts.
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE
FOREGOING, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Macabebe, Pampanga,
Branch 55, in Criminal Case No. 98-2107-M, finding appellant Mario Marcelo y
dela Cruz guilty beyond reasonable doubt of murder and sentencing him to suffer
the penalty of reclusion perpetuais AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATIONS.
Considering that the prosecution was able to
prove actual damages only in the amount of
P18,500, the heirs are
awarded P25,000 as temperate damages in lieu of actual damages
conformably to current jurisprudence.57 In
addition, the said appellant is ORDEREDto pay to said heirs P25,000 as
exemplary damages.58 cralawred
Puno, (Chairman), Quisumbing, Austria-Martinez andTINGA, JJ.,concur.
Penned by Judge Reynaldo V. Roura.
The prosecution presented the following witnesses: SPO3 Francisco V. Cortez,
Rolando J. Manalang, Dominador Sunga, Arsenio Madrigo and Rodel Bautista.
TSN, 19 October 1998, pp. 8-9.
Exhibit G, Record, p. 111.
Exhibit 8, Records, p. 154.
Records, pp. 105-106; 6-7.
Exhibit K to K-2; Id
. at 118-120.
Mario Marcelo testified for and in his behalf; the following were also
presented by the appellant: Teresita Marcelo and Dr. Eduardo T. Vargas.
TSN, 21 April 1999, p. 4.
Exhibit 1, Records, pp. 149-150, executed on June 25, 1998.
Exhibit 2, Id
. at 151-152.
Exhibit 4, Id
. at 153.
See Exhibit I, Records, p. 113.
44 People v. Dala
Exhibit K, official receipt from Funeraria Angeles for
Exhibit K-1 receipt from Punzalan Memorial Homes and Chapel for
58 People v. Duban
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