People v. Alcantara : 157669 : April 14, 2004 : J. Ynares-Santiago :
First Division : Decision
[G.R. NO. 157669.
April 14, 2004]
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
Appellee, v. JUAN ALCANTARA and one alias Aying,
D E C I S I O N
This is an appeal from the decision1 dated September 26, 2002, of the Regional Trial Court of Davao City, Branch 15,
convicting appellant Juan Alcantara of the crime of robbery with homicide,
sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, and ordering him to pay the parents
of the victim, Liza Cabaral, P50,000.00 as civil indemnity and P57,000.00 for
hospitalization, funeral and burial expenses.
Appellant, together with another individual known only as alias
Aying, was charged with the crime of robbery with homicide under Article 294
of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659.
The Information alleged:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
That on or about March 7, 1998, in the City of Davao, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this honorable court, the abovementioned
accused Juan Alcantara armed with a bladed weapon, conspiring and confederating
together with his co-accused one Alias Aying, with intent to gain and by means
of force, violence and intimidation, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously took
and carted away the waist bag containing cash of P5,450.00 belonging to one
Liza Cabaral who was then asleep and willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
stabbed the said victim, at which juncture Alias Aying divested Liza Cabaral of
her wristwatch, which injuries consisted of:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
STAB WOUND OF THE CHEST
which caused her death.
CONTRARY TO LAW.2 cralawred
Only the appellant was arrested.
The other suspect, alias Aying, remains at large.
Upon arraignment, appellant pleaded not
During the trial, the
prosecutions lone eyewitness, Leonila Quimada, testified as follows:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
In the early morning of March 7, 1998, Leonila was by her fruit
stand near the Mercury Drug store along Bankerohan market in Davao City when
she heard noise coming from a nearby stand.
From a distance of an arms length, Leonila saw appellant trying to take
the waist bag of the victim Liza Cabaral.
Liza resisted and grappled with appellant for possession of the waist
bag which led appellant to stab Liza on her thigh.Thereafter, appellant again stabbed Liza on the chest, inflicting
the fatal blow.
Leonila shouted for
help when she saw Liza slumped on the pavement.Appellant immediately fled, leaving Lizas waist bag behind.
Appellants companion, alias Aying, suddenly
appeared and took Lizas wristwatch before fleeing.Leonila, with the help of a certain Yoyong, rushed Liza to the
Davao Doctors Hospital where Liza was pronounced dead on arrival.3 cralawred
On cross-examination, Leonila testified that neither she nor her
husband is related to the victim and her family.She had known appellant for about six years since he also worked
at the Bankerohan market, although she was unsure of his exact occupation.
She visited appellant at Camp Domingo when
she learned of his arrest.
whether it was true that she was surprised to see appellant as the person
arrested for the crime, she replied He
was the one.4 She executed a supplemental affidavit5 dated April 17, 1998 wherein she implicated a certain Jun Panal in the
She saw Panal talking to
appellant and alias Aying minutes before the incident happened.
She failed to name him in her previous
affidavit because she was then in a state of shock.6 cralawred
Dr. Samuel Cruz, who conducted the autopsy of the victim on March
11, 1998, testified that Liza had three stab wounds: two stab wounds on the
chest and one stab wound on the left thigh.
He surmised that these wounds were inflicted by a sharp, pointed,
could not categorically determine the position of the victim at the time the
wounds were inflicted.
The victims mother, Diosdada Quimada Cabaral, testified that she
and her family were overcome with sadness on the death of her daughter.
They spent more than P53,000.00 in hospital
and funeral expenses.
She presented a
receipt7 issued by Patalinghug Funeral Homes evidencing the funeral expenses as well as
an Estimate of Expenses8 which included the hospital expenses9 paid for in advance by Norma Quimada.10 cralawred
The defense presented as its first witness PO3 Mindalito Salvar
who testified that he was the officer on duty at the San Pedro Police Station
on the early morning of March 7, 1998.
Having received a report of a stabbing incident, he and two other
policemen on duty proceeded to investigate the incident.
At the Davao Doctors Hospital, they
questioned prosecution witness Leonila Quimada.PO3 Salvar testified that as per record of the incident in the
police blotter, the perpetrator of the crime was stated to be an unidentified
male person aged 20 to 25 years old.11 cralawred
Elmer Isonza, a former barangay captain of Piapi in Davao City,
testified that in March 1998, he held a series of consultation meetings with
friends and prospective supporters to assess his chances should he run for
public office as a city councilor.
6, 1998, he had a meeting with several people, including appellant and his
spouse, which lasted from 7:00 in the evening until 2:00 in the morning of
March 7, 1998.
After said meeting,
Kagawad Antonio Lo invited the group which included the Alcantara spouses to
eat barbeque at Magallanes Street where they stayed until around 3:00 in the
Atty. Dominador Sunga, Sr., counsel of record of appellant,
testified on the circumstances surrounding his meeting with prosecution witness
Leonila and the victims mother Diosdada.
He testified that when he was engaged by appellants mother to handle
the case, he immediately proceeded to investigate and review the records.
During his visit to appellant, who was then
detained at Camp Domingo Leonor in Davao City, the latter informed him that
Leonila and the victims mother Diosdada visited him.Appellant recounted to Atty. Sunga that during said visit Leonila
appeared surprised at the sight of him, stepped back and without saying a word
left the premises.
This prompted Atty.
Sunga to visit Leonila and Diosdada in Matan-ao in Davao del Sur where he was
accompanied by appellants mother Librada, uncle Cenon and aunt Aquilina.
According to Atty. Sunga, when he met
Leonila at the victims familys house, he asked her about her visit to
Leonila purportedly admitted
that her surprise at seeing appellant was due to the fact that he was not the
person she had in mind.
offered to prepare a Supplemental Affidavit13 stating these details and Leonila agreed to sign it before the City Prosecutor
in Davao City.
Atty. Sunga further
added that the atmosphere during the meeting was very cordial and that the
victims family even prepared snacks and made them watch the video of the
However, when the
Supplemental Affidavit was ready, Leonila changed her mind about signing it and
maintained the involvement of appellant in the crime.Leonila then filed cases of grave coercion and grave threats
against Atty. Sunga and his companions to Matan-ao for allegedly forcing her to
sign the affidavit and threatening to send her to prison if she does not do
Atty. Sunga and his companions were
subsequently acquitted by the trial court of the charges.14 cralawred
Cenon Amargo, uncle of appellant, corroborated the testimony of
Atty. Sunga on what transpired when the latter met Leonila and the victims
He testified that he
was present when Leonila confirmed that she was surprised when she went to
visit appellant in jail since he was not the person she had in mind.
He also testified as to the subsequent
refusal of Leonila to sign the Supplemental Affidavit prepared by Atty. Sunga
which excluded appellant.15 cralawred
Appellant likewise testified and interposed the defense of
According to him, on March 6,
1998, he and his wife attended a consultation meeting organized by then
Barangay Captain Elmer Isonza.
attended the meeting since his wifes family were friends of Isonza. The
meeting lasted until about 2:00 in the morning of March 7, 1998.
After the meeting, Kagawad Antonio Lo, who was
also present, invited their group to a barbeque place in Magallanes
Appellant and his wife accepted
the invitation and they were able to go home at around 3:00 the same morning.
Appellant also testified that he was
arrested about a year later and detained at Camp Domingo Leonor.
A few days after his arrest, prosecution
witness Leonila and the victims mother Diosdada, visited him in jail.
Appellant said that Leonila was taken aback
upon seeing him and when he asked her why he was included in the charge,
Leonila allegedly replied why is it that
you are that way, after taking marijuana, you have tripping. Appellant
stated that he knows Leonila by face only as she is a fruit vendor in
Bankerohan though he has heard other people call her Nanay Mila.
testified that his mother related to him the details regarding their trip to
Matan-ao to talk to Leonila and Diosdada.
He stated that according to his mother, Leonila initially agreed to go
to Davao City to sign the affidavit before the prosecutor but later refused
because she was advised by her lawyer that the case against appellants
co-accused will become weak if appellant was released.16 cralawred
On cross-examination, appellant testified that he has worked in
the area of Bankerohan for about eight years as a vendor of vegetables to
However, he did not
know the victim personally and merely heard about the incident from other
Neither did he know Leonila by
name though he stated that he knew her by face and that it is possible that
Leonila also knew him by face.17 cralawred
On September 26, 2002, the Regional Trial Court rendered its
decision, the dispositive portion of which states :chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
Wherefore, the prosecution having proven the guilt of the accused
beyond reasonable doubt, Juan Alcantara is hereby sentenced to
and shall pay Mr. and Mrs. Luminoso and Diosdada Quimada
Cabaral the following sums:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
1.Fifty thousand pesos
(P50,000.00) for the death of Liza Cabaral, the daughter, and
pesos (P57,000.00) for the hospitalization, funeral and burial expenses.
SO ORDERED.18 cralawred
Appellant filed a motion for reconsideration which was denied for
lack of merit.
Hence this appeal raising the following errors:
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN ITS RULING THAT WITNESS
FOR THE PROSECUTION, LEONILA QUIMADA, IS A CREDIBLE WITNESS.
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT GIVING
CREDENCE TO THE TESTIMONY OF ATTY. DOMINADOR G. SUNGA, SR.
The appeal lacks merit.
Appellant questions the credibility and the trial courts reliance
upon the testimony of prosecution witness Leonila Quimada.
Appellant points out that Leonila failed to
identify the person who stabbed the victim and merely described him as being
between 20 to 25 years old.
also questions how Leonila came to name three persons as the perpetrators of
the crime in the two affidavits she executed when initially, she identified no
one during her interview with the police as shown by the entries in the police
More importantly, appellant
reiterates the alleged admission made by Leonila to his counsel Atty. Sunga
that she made a mistake in naming appellant as the person who stabbed the
victim Liza Cabaral.
It is true that Leonila was not able to name appellant when she
was first asked by the police at the hospital regarding the identity of the
This fact alone, however,
does not erode Leonilas credibility considering the circumstances attending
It must be noted that
Leonila was questioned by the police just a few hours after she witnessed the
killing of the victim who is her fellow vendor.Such a shocking experience can verily create confusion especially
in the mind of a fifty-year old woman. We are aware that the workings of the
human mind, under emotional stress, are unpredictable, such that people react
differently to startling situations: some may shout, some may faint, others may
be shocked into insensibility.19 It is not improbable that Leonila was able to reconstruct the entire incident
in her mind only after her initial shock has waned.
Moreover, whatever doubts that surrounded Leonilas credibility
as an eyewitness were purged by her clear and straightforward testimony during
While there might have been
several minor inconsistencies in her testimony, Leonila was nonetheless able to
give a candid narration of the crime which she claimed to have transpired in a
well-lit area and at an arms length distance from where she was.
Her positive identification of appellant in
open court as the person who stabbed the victim was unerring.
A truth-telling witness is not always
expected to give an error-free testimony, considering the lapse of time and
treachery of human memory. Thus, we have followed the rule in accord with human
nature and experience that honest inconsistencies on minor and trivial matters
serve to strengthen, rather than destroy, the credibility of a witness,
especially of witnesses to crimes shocking to conscience and numbing to senses.20 Moreover, we have ruled time and again that where the prosecution eyewitness
was familiar with both victim and accused, and where the locus criminis afforded good visibility, and where no improper
motive can be attributed to the witness for testifying against the accused,
then her version of the story deserves much weight.21 cralawred
Appellant invokes the testimony of Atty. Sunga on the matter of
Leonilas alleged admission that she committed a mistake in pointing to him as
the perpetrator of the crime.
Sunga testified that Leonila acknowledged that she must have given the wrong
name since it was not appellant whom she saw on that fateful night.
However, according to Atty. Sunga, Leonila
reneged on her promise to sign the Supplemental Affidavit prepared by him which
would have exonerated appellant.
We are reluctant to divert from the trial courts findings on
this matter as the matter of assigning values to declarations at the witness
stand is most competently carried out by the trial judge who, unlike appellate
judges, can weigh such testimony in the light of the witnesss behavior and
attitude at the trial, and the conclusions of the trial judge command great
weight and respect.22 More importantly, we are not surprised that the trial court did not give much
weight to the testimony of Atty. Sunga.
It was palpably a self-serving statement, corroborated only by none
other than the testimonies of appellants uncle and appellant himself.
We also find no evidence on record which
would show any reason why an elderly fruit vendor would perjure herself and
scheme to convict an innocent person.
Absent evidence to show any reason or motive why a witness should
testify falsely, the logical conclusion is that no such improper motive exists
and [her] testimony is worthy of full faith and credit.23 cralawred
The defense of alibi, as a rule, is considered with suspicion and
is always received with caution, not only because it is inherently weak and
unreliable but also because it can be easily fabricated.24 Alibi can only prosper by indubitably proving that the accused was somewhere
else when the crime was committed, and that he could not have been physically
present at the locus criminis or its
immediate vicinity at the time of its commission; physical impossibility, in
other words, of being in two places at the same time.25 cralawred
In the case at bar, while it may be plausible that appellant was
indeed at the consultation meeting on the night of March 6, 1998, the
possibility of him leaving the meeting to consummate the crime and returning
thereafter is not remote.
and the defense have stipulated that the distance of the place of the meeting
from the scene of the crime is only about a kilometer and a half, more or less.26 Considering the number of people in attendance at the meeting, the comings and
goings of those present cannot be precisely monitored.
Article 293 of the Revised Penal Code defines robbery to be one
committed by any person who, with intent to gain, shall take any personal
property belonging to another, by means of violence against or intimidation of
any person, or using force upon anything. .. Robbery may thus be committed
two ways: (a) with violence against, or intimidation of persons and (b) by the
use of force upon things.27 This is distinguished from the crime of theft where the taking is accomplished
without the use of violence or intimidation against persons or force upon
The complex crime of robbery with homicide arises when, by reason
of or on the occasion of a robbery, by means of violence against or
intimidation of persons, a person is killed.29 To sustain a conviction for this special complex crime, the original criminal
design of the culprit must be robbery (originally, there must be intent to
gain), and the homicide is perpetrated with a view to the consummation of the
robbery (by reason or on the occasion of the robbery).30 cralawred
In the case at bar, while violence was not present at the
commencement of the felony, it was nonetheless employed by the appellant in
order to completely take possession of the victims waist bag.
The unlawful taking became robbery at such
juncture when violence against the person of the victim was employed.
The killing of the victim resulting from or
on the occasion of such robbery gave rise to the special complex crime of
robbery with homicide.
Hence, we affirm the trial courts finding that appellant was
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of robbery with homicide.
Under Article 294(1) of the Revised Penal
Code, any person guilty of robbery with the use of violence against persons
shall suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death, when by reason or on occasion of the robbery, the crime
of homicide shall have been committed.
Since there was neither mitigating nor aggravating circumstance, the
lesser of the two indivisible penalties shall be imposed.31 Hence, the trial court correctly imposed the penalty of reclusion perpetua.
We likewise affirm the award of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity to
the heirs of Liza Cabaral.
actual damages, the prosecution was able to prove hospital, funeral and burial
expenses, including the hospital charges paid for by Norma Quimada in the
amount of P53,552.0032 which appears to be reasonable.
In addition, the award of P50,000.00 as moral damages is in order
pursuant to Articles 2217 and 2219 paragraph (1) of the Civil Code.
Moral damages which include physical
suffering and mental anguish, may be recovered in criminal offenses resulting
in physical injuries and the victim's death as in this case.33 The mother of the victim testified on these damages.34 Moreover, the award of moral damages is in accordance with our recent ruling.35 cralawred
decision of the Regional Trial Court of Davao City, Branch 15, finding
appellant Juan Alcantara guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Robbery
with Homicide, sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and ordering him to pay the heirs of Liza
Cabaralthe sum of P50,000.00 as
civil indemnity is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS.Appellant is further ordered to pay the heirs of Liza Cabaral the
sum of P53,552.00 as actual damages representing the hospital, funeral and
burial expenses incurred and P50,000.00 as moral damages.
Costs de oficio.
Davide, Jr., C.J.,
(Chairman), Panganiban, Carpio, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.
, p. 22; penned by Judge Jesus
TSN, June 30, 1999, pp. 8-15.
TSN, June 30, 1999, pp. 16-35.
TSN, July 1, 1999, pp. 40-49.
TSN, January 12, 2000, pp. 6-8.
Exhibit 1, 1-H; TSN, August 25, 2000, pp. 78-85.
TSN, September 21, 2000, pp. 87-95.
TSN, March 13, 2002, pp. 173-194.
TSN, September 22, 2000, pp. 119-138.
TSN, November 23, 2000, pp. 139-159.
21 People v. Tolibas, G.R. No. 103506
15 February 2000, citing People v. De la Paz, Jr.
299 SCRA 86, 92 (1998); see also People v. Pablo, G.R. NOS. 113822-23
15 August 2001; People v.
Lovedovial, G.R. No. 139340
17 January 2001.
TSN, September 22, 2000, pp. 113-114.
. People, G.R. No. 46370,
June 2, 1992.
. Mantung, G.R. No. 130372,
July 20, 1999.
. Manalang, G.R. No. 67662,
February 9, 1989.
Revised Penal Code, Art. 63(2).
TSN, January 12, 2000, pp. 6-8.
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