People v. Delmindo : 146810 : May 27, 2004 : J. Quisumbing : Second
Division : Decision
[G.R. NO. 146810 : May 27, 2004]
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee, v. ANTONIO
D E C I S I O N
On appeal is the decision1 dated October 2, 2000, in Criminal Case No. C-4129, of Regional Trial Court of
Roxas City, Branch 14, finding appellant Antonio Delmindo guilty of murder and
sentencing him to reclusion perpetua. Before us, appellant now prays
for acquittal on the ground of self-defense.
The case stemmed from the information which reads:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
That at or about 2:00 oclock in the afternoon on or about May 21,
1993, in Sitio Caningag,2 Brgy.
Jolongajog,3 Municipality of Pontevedra, Province of Capiz, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, armed with a
12-gauge shotgun, with evident premeditation and treachery and with intent to
kill, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously shot with the
shotgun he was armed with one FELIX ALBALADEJO whom he roused from sleep
moments before he shot him, thereby inflicting upon the said Felix Albaladejo
mortal gunshot wounds on the body which injuries caused his death immediately
That due to the untimely death of Felix Albaladejo, his heirs are
entitled to death indemnity in the amount of
P50,000.00 plus other
damages in consonance with the provisions of the Civil Code.
ACTS CONTRARY TO LAW with the qualifying and generic aggravating
circumstances of evident premeditation and treachery.4 cralawred
On arraignment, appellant with assistance of counsel de oficio, pleaded not guilty to the
On October 5, 1998, during pre-trial conference, the parties
stipulated that (1) the trial court had jurisdiction to hear and try the case;
(2) the incident happened at around 2:00 p.m. of May 21, 1993 in Sitio Caningag,
Brgy. Jolongajog, Pontevedra, Capiz; (3) prosecution witnesses Amelou
Albaladejo, Armando Jolampong, and Benny Barcelona were investigated by the
police 3 days after the incident; (4) a postmortem examination of the victim
was conducted by Dr. Vivien B. Relano, rural health physician of Roxas City on
May 26, 1993; (5) a death certificate was issued; and (6) the victims widow
suffered damages, the extent of which would have to be proven at trial.6 The prosecution also marked its exhibits with reservation to present and mark
additional documentary evidence during the course of the trial.7 cralawred
Trial then ensued.
following facts were established by the prosecution at the trial:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
At the time of the incident, appellant was one of the overseers
of the fishponds of Atty. Eduardo Azarraga in Sitio Caningag, Barangay
Jolongajog, Pontevedra, Capiz.8 The victim, Felix Albaladejo, was the administrator of said fishponds.9 Both appellant and the victim had their respective quarters at the site, some
300 meters apart.10 cralawred
In the morning of May 15, 1993, Atty. Azarraga invited his
fishpond workers to his house in Pontevedra to attend the town fiesta.11 In the afternoon of that day, the victim lent his banca to appellant and his companions to enable them to attend the
fiesta.12 Before they departed, the victim instructed the group to return immediately
that same day to avoid the high tide, which might damage the bangus (milkfish) fingerlings that they
had just released into the ponds.13 cralawred
Appellant and his friends failed to return as the victim had
instructed. The following day, the victim called the group to a meeting and
scolded them for their failure to follow his instructions.14 During the meeting, appellant was heard to grumble, May adlaw ka gid sa akon. (Youll have a day of reckoning with
At around 2:00 p.m. of May 21, 1993, according to prosecution
witness Armando Jolampong, he was with his fellow workers, Ramon Baril and
Edgar Borce inside their quarters at the fishpond when appellant arrived. Once
inside the room, appellant took a 12-gauge shotgun from Borce, telling them,
My problem is none of your business.16 Jolampong then saw appellant put the shotgun on his shoulder and walk towards
the victims house.17 Shortly afterwards, gunshots were heard coming from the house of Felix
Albaladejo. Jolampong and his companions ran towards the victims house. They
were about to reach the house, when they saw appellant with the shotgun run
from the victims house and cross the bridge to Barangay Binantucan,
Pontevedra.18 They heard the victims wife, Amelou Albaladejo, shouting for help.19 cralawred
According to Amelous testimony, at around 2:00 p.m. of May 21,
1993, she was nursing her two children to sleep inside the bedroom of their
nipa hut. Her husband, Felix, was asleep in the sala.20 Suddenly, she heard a mans voice
calling her husbands name. She then heard her brother, Henry Barcelona, who
was in the balcony, answer:
is that for? Felix is sleeping.21 Appellant did not answer.
appellant barged into their sala and shot her husband, who had just risen from
his nap. On impulse, she ran to her husband. Appellant still carrying the
shotgun, then dashed off towards Binantucan, Pontevedra.22 cralawred
The last witness for the prosecution, Dr. Vivien Relano,
testified that as the municipal health officer of Pontevedra, Capiz, she was
requested by the towns police chief to conduct a post-mortem examination of
Felix Albaladejos cadaver. She found the cause of his death to be cardiac
arrest secondary to gunshot wound.23 cralawred
For the defense, appellant Antonio Delmindo himself took the
He readily admitted
shooting the victim but claimed the killing was in self-defense.
On the day of the incident, according to
appellant, he reported to Felix Albaladejo, the fishponds administrator,24 who had summoned him.
Appellant said he
saw Henry Totong Barcelona at the balcony of Felixs house.
He inquired regarding Felixs whereabouts
from Henry. Then, he heard Felix call out, Tong, who is that?25 Appellant gave his name before entering the house. He had barely entered it
when Felix confronted him for allegedly spreading stories about Felixs being a
thief.26 Appellant denied the accusation. This only enraged Felix. An altercation broke
out between them. Suddenly, according to appellant, Felix stood up and grabbed
the shotgun by his side, cocked it and shouted, If I lose my job, I would
rather kill you.27 Appellant then yelled back, What is this, Felix? and grabbed the barrel of
the shotgun. While they were grappling for possession of the firearm, appellant
somehow squeezed the trigger and the gun went off, hitting Felix.28 Appellant then left Felixs house and went to his own sisters place in Brgy.
Esperanza, Pontevedra, where he stayed for four days. On hearing reports that
Atty. Azarraga wanted him killed, appellant and his wife left for Mindanao.29 cralawred
To corroborate the defenses version of the incident, appellant
presented Praxedes Porro, Jr., as its next witness.Porro declared that on the afternoon of May 21, 1993, he went to
appellants house at Sitio Caningag, Brgy. Jolongajog, Pontevedra, Capiz to
collect a debt from appellant.
Appellants spouse, Anna Delmindo, told him that appellant was at the
house of Felix Albaladejo. He asked her to accompany him there. They were about
five meters away from the Albaladejo house when they saw through the window
appellant and another man grappling for possession of an object with a length
of around 55 inches.30 Shortly thereafter, they heard gunshots coming from within the Albaladejo residence.31 Then he saw appellant jump out of the window.32 Porro declared that out of fear, he immediately left the vicinity, leaving Anna
Delmindo to go to the victims house, alone.
Anna Delmindo, appellants wife, also took the stand for the
defense. She testified that at the time of the incident she accompanied Porro
to the house of Felix Albaladejos. They were about five meters away from his
residence, when she saw her husband struggling with Felix for the possession of
what appeared to be a firearm.33 Shortly afterwards, she heard a shot.
Then, she saw her husband suddenly leave the house.34 She went up the victims house, to ask what happened, but she was met by an
irate Amelou Albaladejo who pointed a gun at her, saying, I-unong ko ikaw sa asawa ko (Ill make you follow my husband.)35 She glanced around and saw the victim lying dead in the sala. Anna then left
the Albaladejo residence.
days, she joined her husband at his sisters place in Esperanza, Pontevedra,
where he told her what happened. They then fled to Mindanao upon hearing that
Atty. Azarraga wanted them killed.36 cralawred
The trial court disbelieved the defense but found the
prosecutions version credible.
October 2, 2000, it rendered its decision, decreeing as follows:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
WHEREFORE, foregoing established facts considered, the Court finds
the accused GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Murder as charged.
Accordingly, he is sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to
indemnify the heirs of the victim the amount of Seventy Five Thousand Pesos (
for the death of Felix Albaladejo, Fifty Two Thousand Pesos ( P52,000.00)
as actual damages, One Hundred Thousand Pesos ( P100,000.00) as moral
damages and to pay the costs.
Furnish copies of this Decision the accused, Atty. Noede Villareal
and the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor.
SO ORDERED.37 cralawred
Hence, this appeal before us, with appellant assigning only one
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT APPRECIATING
THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT (sic) DEFENSE OF COMPLETE SELF-DEFENSE, A
JUSTIFYING CIRCUMSTANCE UNDER THE REVISED PENAL CODE, DESPITE THE STRONG AND
COMPELLING EVIDENCE PROVING THE INNOCENCE OF THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT.38 cralawred
Appellant argues that all the elements of self-defense were present.
According to appellant, the evidence for the defense clearly shows that the
victim, Felix Albaladejo insulted, berated, and threatened him, then grabbed a
shotgun with intent to kill him. Appellant points out that it was reasonable
for him to defend his life by grappling for possession of the shotgun. When the
victim tried to get the firearm back, appellant had no choice but to shoot him
to avoid losing the gun and then being shot by the victim.
Appellant insists that there was absolutely
no provocation on his part. The provocation came from the victim when he got
hold of a shotgun and, with intent to kill, pointed it at appellant. Appellant
faults the prosecution for failing to present Henry Barcelona, the
brother-in-law of the victim.
latters sworn statement before the police investigators declared that there
was a struggle between appellant and the victim prior to the shooting.
Appellant points out that Barcelonas affidavit contradicts the testimony of
his sister, Amelou Albaladejo, who testified that appellant shot the victim
without any struggle.
For the Appellee, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG)
counters that appellants version of events was belied by prosecution
witnesses, Armando Jolampong and Amelou Albaladejo, whom the trial court found
to be credible witnesses. Jolampong testified that appellant got a shotgun from
his fellow worker, Edgar Borce.
he proceeded to the hut of the Albaladejos. Amelou Albaladejo testified that
appellant suddenly entered their house and without any provocation, shot her
husband, who was just rising from his nap. Jolampong, added he then saw
appellant flee from the scene of the crime. The OSG stresses that the
testimonies of these credible witnesses totally negated appellants theory of
Well established is the rule that once the justifying
circumstance of self-defense is invoked, the onus probandi of proving its elements shifts to him who invokes it.39 Thus, even if the prosecution evidence is weak, the charge cannot be readily dismissed,
considering that the accused had openly admitted authorship of the killing.
Having admitted killing the victim, in this case, appellant must prove by clear
and convincing evidence that he acted in self-defense by establishing: (a)
unlawful aggression on the part of the victim; (b) reasonable necessity of the
means employed to prevent or repel it; and (c) lack of sufficient provocation
on the part of the person defending himself.40 cralawred
The element of unlawful aggression is indispensable, a condition sine qua non, to the successful plea of
Otherwise stated, there
can be no self-defense, unless the victim committed unlawful aggression against
the person defending himself.41 Was there unlawful aggression on the victims part?That, in brief, is the crucial question upon which turns the
issue of appellants guilt or innocence.
There is unlawful aggression on the part of the victim when he
puts in actual or imminent peril the life, limb, or right of the person
There must be
actual physical force or actual use of a weapon by the victim himself.42 cralawred
But in the present case, witness Amelou Albaladejo testified that
the victim was getting up from the rattan sofa where he napped, when appellant
shot him.43 Her testimony finds support in the autopsy findings of Dr. Vivien Relano, who
testified that the victim was shot at close range while he was in a standing
but slanting or stooping position.44 Common experience tells us that a person who has just been roused from his
sleep and has not yet even fully stood up is not quite prepared to act
This is true, in our
view, given appellants insistence that he and the victim were on good terms
before the incident.45 It strains the credulity of this Court that a person who has yet to shake off
from his mind and body the last vestiges of sleep, would suddenly berate and
point a deadly weapon at another with whom he has no pre-existing grudge or
The defense, however, insists that two witnesses, Anna Delmindo
and Praxedes Porro, Jr., saw appellant grappling with the victim for possession
of the shotgun in the balcony of the latters house. Appellant contends that
this circumstance establishes unlawful aggression on the victims part.
Appellants argument is, to put it kindly, far from persuasive.
There is adverse testimony on this score.
The victims widow, Amelou, testified that
after her husband was first hit by a gunshot, he embraced appellant who was
about to shoot him again. Appellant then dragged the dying victim towards the
balcony.46 In this light, we are inclined to agree that the struggle in the balcony seen
from a distance by the defense witnesses was actually the appellant trying to
fend off the desperate embrace of the victim after he was hit by appellants
The victim was trying to hold
off appellant so that appellant could not shoot him again. This cannot, by any
stretch of imagination, be construed as an unlawful aggression on the part of
the victim. It was rather an act that was more instinctive on the victims part
to fend off further attack by an armed intruder.Appellants interpretation of this vignette to show unlawful
aggression on the victims part is neither clear nor convincing, for the scene
could in fact be turned around against appellant as a part of his continuing
attack on the victim.
We likewise find no adequate physical evidence to support
appellants claim of self-defense. Dr. Relano testified that the single shot
fired at the victim by appellant was fatal. Four (4) vital organs, the heart,
lungs, stomach, and pancreas were struck by shotgun pellets.47 The nature and location of the victims gunshot injuries are eloquent physical
evidence to show a determined effort on appellants part to kill the victim, and not just to defend his own self.
sum, appellants uncorroborated plea of self-defense cannot be entertained,
especially when it is, in itself, extremely doubtful.48 cralawred
Appellant next assails the credibility of prosecution eyewitness,
Amelou Albaladejo, the victims widow.
He contends that Amelou lied on the witness stand when she claimed that
she witnessed the shooting. He stresses that in her sworn declaration to the
police investigators, she only stated that she heard a gunshot. Appellant
likewise points out that from her description of her position relative to the
victim, it was humanly impossible for her to have witnessed the fatal shooting.
However, we are not unduly impressed by appellants reliance on
Amelous affidavit before the police to discredit her testimony in court.
As a rule, affidavits taken ex parte are considered to be incomplete
and often inaccurate, sometimes from partial suggestions, or even lack of
suggestions and inquiries, without the aid of which the witnesses may be unable
to recall the connected circumstances necessary for their accurate
recollection.49 Hence, affidavits are generally subordinated in importance to declarations in
Furthermore, we also note that when asked to confirm the contents
of her affidavit in open court, Amelou made the following clarification:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY ATTY. VILLAREAL
Q: This sworn statement of
yours marked as Exhs. F, F-1, F-2 and F-3, do you affirm and confirm
again before this Honorable Court that all the contents here are true and
A: I saw one error, sir.
Q: What particular error
A: They forgot to place
here that I have seen with my two (2) eyes the slaying of my husband.50 cralawred
As for appellants insistence that Amelou could not have seen him
shoot the victim as at the time she was putting her two children to sleep, we
find appellants assertion based on mere conjecture. Amelou declared in open
court that the door to their bedroom opened to the sala of the house and that,
though she was lying in bed with her children, she was facing the sala.51 From her position, she could see the victim asleep on their sofa52 some three (3) meters away.53 Hence, we do not doubt that she had a vantage position to witness the fatal
shooting of her husband.
The records show that Amelou unequivocally identified appellant as
She described in detail
how he shot her husband.54 That Amelou is the victims widow does not detract from the worth and weight of
Mere relationship of a
witness to the victim does not automatically impair the credibility of said
witness, where no improper motive can be ascribed to the latter for so
testifying.55 Here, we find the records bare of any motive or reason why Amelou should
falsely testify against appellant. Amelous testimony, in our view, deserves
Finally, appellants flight from the scene of the crime and his
sojourn in Bukidnon for five (5) years indicate his guilt. As the trial court
The alleged rumor that Atty. Eduardo Azarraga would have them
killed was not proven during the trial. On the contrary, Atty. Azarraga
vehemently denied it. Atty. Azarraga testified that what he did after having
been informed over the radio about the death of Felix Albaladejo was to ask for
police assistance for the apprehension of the suspect (now accused). The
proverb the wicked fleeth while the righteous is as bold as a lion seems to
find meaning and application in the instant case. An accuseds flight from the
scene of the crime and his act of hiding himself until he was arrested are
circumstances highly indicative of guilt.56 cralawred
But was appellant properly convicted of murder? The information
against appellant alleged both treachery and evident premeditation. The lower
courts decision, however, is silent as to the circumstances that qualified the
Thus, it behooves us to make
the needed determination concerning these alleged circumstances.
The essence of treachery is the sudden and unexpected attack by
the aggressor against the unsuspecting victim without the slightest provocation
on the latters part, thus depriving the latter of any real chance of defending
himself.57 Otherwise stated, there is treachery when the following conditions concur: (a)
the employment of means of execution that gives the person attacked no
opportunity to defend himself or retaliate, and (b) the means of execution was
deliberately or consciously adopted.58 cralawred
In our view, treachery has been adequately proved in the present
The records show that appellant
obtained a firearm from his co-workers, proceeded to the victims house, roused
him from his sleep by calling out his name, and without hesitation, barged into
the sala of the newly awakened victim and shot him without warning or
That the victim and his
assailant come face to face at the time of the shooting would not negate
treachery, in our view, where it appears that the attack was not preceded by a
dispute and the offended party was unable to prepare for his defense.59 cralawred
As to evident premeditation, however, we find that the evidence
on record fails to bear out the following elements: (1) the time when the
offender determined or conceived to commit the crime; (2) an act manifestly
indicating that the offender had clung to his determination; and (3) a
sufficient lapse of time between the determination and the execution, to allow
the accused time to reflect upon the consequences of his act.60 Stated differently, the prosecution failed to establish clearly that the
victims killing was a preconceived plan. Hence, evident premeditation should
be ruled out in the present case.
While the trial court considered dwelling as aggravating
circumstance, the information is silent, however, on this matter.
Under the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure,61 the qualifying as well as aggravating circumstances must be expressly and specifically
alleged in the complaint or information, otherwise the same will not be
considered by the court even if proved during trial.62 Since the procedural rule is favorable to appellant, it must apply to this
Dwelling ought not be considered
to aggravate his offense.
In sum, we hold that appellant is liable for murder, qualified
only by treachery. Murder is punishable by reclusion perpetuato death. There being neither mitigating nor aggravating
circumstances, the penalty imposed by the trial court, i.e., reclusion perpetua,63 should
Concerning the award of damages, however, modification is in
order. The amount of
P52,000.00 awarded by the trial court as actual
damages must be reduced to P31,300.00, that being the amount
substantiated by receipts.64 For where actual damages may be recovered, the amount of loss must not only be
capable of proof but must actually be proven with reasonable degree of
certainty, premised upon competent proof or best evidence obtainable of the
actual amount thereof. There must be a receipt or other document to support the
claim for actual damages.65 The civil indemnity awarded in the amount of P75,000.00 must be reduced
to P50,000.00 to bring it in line with prevailing case law.66 As to the award of moral damages,
current jurisprudence fixes such award at P50,000.0067 and thus, the amount of P100,000.00 awarded by the trial court must be
decision of the Regional Trial Court of Roxas City, Branch 14, in Criminal Case
No. C-4129, finding appellant Antonio Delmindo GUILTY of murder and sentencing
him to reclusion perpetua is hereby
AFFIRMED, with the MODIFICATION that appellant is hereby ORDEREDto pay the heirs of the victim
Felix Albaladejo the amount of
P31,300.00 as actual damages, P50,000.00
as civil indemnity, and
as moral damages, together with the costs of suit.
Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr., and
TINGA, JJ., concur.
Puno, J., (Chairman), on
2 Sometimes Caninag in the records.
3 Also spelled Jolongahog in some parts of the records.
8 TSN, 17 December 1998, p. 7.
9 TSN, 15 February 1999, p. 3.
16 TSN, 17 December 1998, pp. 11-12.
20 TSN, 15 February 1999, p. 7.
23 TSN, 16 November 1998, p. 18.
24 TSN, 16 August 1999, p. 7.
30 TSN, 10 May 1999, pp. 9-10.
33 TSN, 16 June 1999, p. 8.
43 TSN, 15 February 1999, p. 9.
44 TSN, 16 November 1998, pp. 16, 23-24.
46 TSN, 10 March 1999, pp. 25-26.
47 TSN, 16 November 1998, p. 20.
50 TSN, 10 March 1999, p. 12.
51 TSN, 15 February 1999, pp. 6-7.
54 Ibid. See also TSN, 10 March 1999,
61 Rule 110, Sec. 8. Designation of the
offense. The complaint or information shall state the designation of the
offense given by the statute, aver the acts or omissions constituting the
offense, and specify its qualifying and aggravating circumstances. If there is
no designation of the offense, reference shall be made to the section or
subsection of the statute punishing it.
63 Revised Penal Code, Art. 64. Rules for the application of penalties which
contain three periods. In cases in which the penalties prescribed by law
contain three periods, whether it be a single divisible penalty or composed of
three different penalties, each one of which forms a period in accordance with
the provisions of articles 76 and 77, the courts shall observe for the
application of the penalty the following rules, according to whether there are
or are no mitigating or aggravating circumstances:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
there are neither aggravating nor mitigating circumstances, they shall impose
the penalty prescribed by law in its medium period.
64 Exh. H and sub-markings, Records, p. 183.
Back to Home | Back to Main