Catalina Security Agency v. Gonzalez-Decano : 149039 : MAy 27, 2004 : J.
Quisumbing : En Banc : Decision
[G.R. NO. 149039 : May 27, 2004]
CATALINA SECURITY AGENCY, represented herein by the
Proprietor PLACIDO O. URBANES, JR., Petitioner, v. HON. ALICIA B. GONZALEZ-DECANOPresiding
Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 46, Urdaneta City, and THE PEOPLE OF
THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents.
[G.R. NO. 149362 : May 27, 2004]
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee, v. ROGELIO
NEGRILLO y NASTOR ALIAS ILYO, Appellant.
D E C I S I O N
In G.R. No. 149362, this Court is tasked to review the decision1 in Criminal Case No. U-10870, entitled People of the Philippines v. Rogelio Negrillo y Nastor @ Ilyo, bythe Regional
Trial Court of
Branch 46, which found appellant Rogelio Negrillo guilty of murder and imposed
on him the penalty of death.He was also
ordered to pay civil indemnity, moral damages, and costs of the suit to the
heirs of the victim, Mario G. Mercado.
In said criminal case, the trial court also ordered the
confiscation of the firearm used in the commission of the offense in favor of
the government.On September 5, 2001,
Catalina Security Agency, the licensee of the confiscated firearm, filed a Petition for Review on Certiorari docketed as G.R. No. 149039, entitled Catalina
Security Agency, represented herein by its proprietor Placido O. Urbanes, Jr. v. Hon. Alicia B. Gonzalez-Decano, Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 46, Urdaneta City, and the People of the Philippines.Catalina Security Agency (Catalina) comes
before us, questioning the confiscation of the firearm in favor of the
government.Per its resolution2 dated April 1, 2003, this
Court ordered that G.R. NO. 149039 be consolidated
with G.R. No. 149362, as both arise from the same incident, the killing of one
Mario G. Mercado, on October 7, 2000.
The facts in this case are as follows.
On November 9, 2000,
appellant Rogelio Negrillo was charged with murder in an
Information that read:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
The undersigned accuses ROGELIO NEGRILLO Y NASTOR alias ILYO of
the crime of MURDER committed as follows:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
That on or about October 7, 2000 at Brgy. Sto. Domingo, San Manuel,
Pangasinan and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused, a security guard armed with and using illegally his service firearm,
with intent to kill and treachery, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously shoot Mario G. Mercado, accused [sic] co-security guard inflicting
upon him fatal gunshot wounds in the chest which cause his instantaneous death
to the damage and prejudice of his heirs.
CONTRARY to Art. 248, Revised Penal Code
as amended by R.A. No. 7659 in relation to Sec. 5 of R.A. 8294.
November 9, 2000.3 cralawred
Upon arraignment, appellant pleaded not guilty to the charge and
trial thereafter ensued.Presented as
first witness for the prosecution, SPO3 Vivencio Vinluan testified that he was
the evidence custodian of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in San Manuel,
Pangasinan. He said that on October 7, 2000, PO3 Avelino Sandi,
Jr. turned over to his custody a .38-caliber revolver with empty shells, one
live and one dud.
Next witness, PO3 Avelino Sandi, Jr., testified that on October 7, 2000, he received a report
of a shooting incident, which he duly entered in the police blotter.He thus went to the Sacred
where one Mario Mercado, the shooting victim, was brought for treatment but
found him already dead.With police
companions, he proceeded to the National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) building,
where he learned that the suspected killer was no longer there.Later, according to this witness, he and his
companions arrested the suspect who turned out to be Rogelio Negrillo - in
his home in San Juan, San Manuel, Pangasinan.On
cross-examination, witness Sandi corroborated witness Vinluans testimony, that
Vinluan received the gun with ammunition from Sandi.Further, Sandi testified that it was from
foreman Fernando Azur, officer-in-charge of the security guards of NAPOCOR,
that he got said gun and ammunition.
Francisca Mercado, mother of the victim, testified that her son
earned one hundred eighty (
P180) pesos a day.At the time of his death he was 25 years
old.She said she spent sixty thousand ( P60,000) pesos for the funeral of her son.4 She later presented to the court the receipts for the expenses she incurred
during her sons wake and funeral.
Fernando Azur, OIC of NAPOCOR substations security guards,
testified that at about 7:45 a.m. on October 7, 2000, he was at his
post.He was then cleaning his firearm
under a duhat tree, about eight to ten meters away from the
guardhouse.He said he saw the victim,
Mercado, sitting on a monobloc chair facing the gate and holding his cellular
phone.At that moment he saw appellant
Negrillo come out of the guardhouse adjacent to the gate.Suddenly, according to Azur, Negrillo pulled
out a .38-caliber revolver from his waist and fired thrice at Mercado.The first hit the chair.The second hit Mercado on the chest.As Mercado was attempting to run, Negrillo
again fired and hit Mercado at the back.The victim fell with his face to the ground.At this juncture, Azur said, he ran towards
Negrillo and disarmed him.Azur added
that, along with his companions, he brought the victim to the hospital.5 cralawred
On cross-examination, Azur testified that about five minutes
before the shooting begun, appellant Negrillo approached him and reported that
Mercado had a grudge against him.Azur
advised Negrillo to resolve with Mercado their problem on their own.Although immediately before the shooting he
did not hear any heated exchange of words between the two, Azur said he
recalled hearing Negrillo utter,Agpayso, which meant, It is
true.6 Azur also testified that the victim Mercado was issued a shotgun when the
victim reported for duty, but at the time of the shooting the shotgun was being
cleaned to be deposited inside the guardhouse.7 cralawred
Another security guard, Manolo Velasco, testified that in the
morning of the incident, he was biking towards the guardhouse.He intended to change the battery pack of his
ICOM radio and was already in front of the guardhouse, about four to five
meters away from Negrillo, when he saw Negrillo shoot Mercado.Mercado was hit on the chest, said
Velasco.According to him, after being
hit, Mercado stood up and had his back to Negrillo, when Negrillo fired his gun
a second time, hitting Mercado on the left side of the back.When Mercado fell to the ground, said the witness,
appellant approached Mercado, pointed the gun at Mercados head, and again
pulled the trigger.But according to
witness Velasco, for some reason the gun jammed and failed to fire.He then saw Azur disarm appellant
Negrillo.Velasco said he himself
approached the victim, lifted him unto a tricycle, and brought him to a
SPO2 Leonardo S. Marilag, an officer of the Records of Firearms
and Explosives Division of the PNP in Camp
Crame, testified that appellant
Negrillo was not a licensed/registered firearm holder.He added, however, that an employer or a
security agency could get a license for a gun for use by its security guards.9 cralawred
For the defense, appellant Rogelio Negrillo was the sole
self-defense.According to appellant, he
had known Mario Mercado since January 1999, and they treated each other like
brothers.But on October 7, 2000, early in the morning, Mercado
and he had an argument.He explained
that Mercado wanted to bring home an electric line extension, but he objected
to it since the line belonged to NAPOCOR. Mercado resented his refusal and
began to rattle off the favors that the victim had previously given appellant,
including coffee and sugar.Thereafter,
appellant went to OIC Azur and reported his problem.He returned to the rear of the guard post and
busied himself.After a call from an
engineer of NAPOCOR, according to appellant, the heated exchange of words
between Mercado and him resumed.The
victim was about five meters away from him.At one point, appellant said he told Mercado that he would report the
matter to the manager.It was then that
the victims taunting words became insulting.Appellant Negrillo pertinently testified on their exchange of words thus:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
Q: What was the reaction of
A: You report it if you have
the nerve to do it, he said.
Q: So what did you do then?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
A: I said, True?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
Q: What happened next after
A: Negrillo, I do
not have mats to roll.I did not leave
my balls in La Union, Mercado said.
Q: What happened next after
that statement of Mario Mercado that he had no mats to roll and he did not
leave his balls in La Union?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
A: He said, If you say it,
Q: What did you do upon
hearing these words of Mario Mercado?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
A: After telling the words,
If you say it, do it, he said, as if you are not a man.
Q: What was your reaction to
A: I was trembling with
Q: Why were you trembling
A: Because of the way he
uttered the words.
Q: By the way what was the
appearance of Mario Mercado when he was uttering those words?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
A: He was mad, sir.
Q: What happened next?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
A: When he said, as if you
are not a man, he got his firearm that was placed on a board with a writing, register here.
Q: Can you recall if that is
a short firearm or a long firearm?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
A: It is a 12-gauge shotgun,
Q: Is that considered a
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Whose service firearm was
A: That is issued to the
security guard but owned by the Catalina Security Agency.
Q: Who is the security guard
in particular [to whom] it was issued?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
A: Mario Mercado, sir.
Q: You said that Mario
Mercado got hold of the shotgun, what happened next
A: He loaded it and pointed
it to me.
Q: How far were you when
Mario Mercado pointed the gun at you?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
A: Near the wall where I
was seated which is estimated to be 4 to 5 meters in distance.
Q: What was your reaction
when you saw Mario Mercado loa[d]ed the shotgun and
pointed the same to you?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
A: Because I was
frightened, I was able to draw my gun and shot him.
Q: What happened next, Mr.
A: Because I was nervous, I
do not know how many times I squeezed the trigger of my gun.10
Appellant claims that he only shot Mercado in self-defense
because he felt his life was in danger.He also said that at the time of the shooting, Mercado and he were each
armed with the firearms issued to them.11 cralawred
During cross-examination, appellant reiterated that after their
heated argument, Mercado pointed the 12-gauge shotgun at him while he was near
the back of the guardhouse.He had a
.38-caliber pistol tucked in his waist, appellant said.He added he had no opportunity to evade
Mercados aim because he still had to go around a table that blocked his
way.Also, according to appellant, the
gate where he could make an escape was closed.12 Mercado was not able to fire the shotgun, according to appellant, since he beat
Mercado to the draw.Appellant said he
fired three successive shots at Mercado.When asked if he was insulted by Mercados utterances, appellant
answered, A little bit insulted, Maam.13 Towards the end of his testimony, appellant claimed he shot Mercado
accidentally.14 His counsel later disputed the fact that appellant said accidental, and asked
that the word accidental be stricken from the records.Finally, when asked in re-direct if he shot
the victim in self-defense, appellant replied, Yes, sir, because I did not
have the intention to kill him.15 cralawred
In its decision, the trial court found Negrillo guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of murder.It ordered the firearm used in the commission of the offense confiscated
in favor of the government.The decretal
portion of the decision reads:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered finding the accused guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of Murder with the use of unlicensed firearm and the
court imposes upon him the penalty of DEATH and to pay the heirs of the victim
the following without the benefit of subsidiary imprisonment:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
P50,000 by way of civil indemnity;chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
P50,000 as moral damages;chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
P22,660 as actual expenses with receipts;chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
P30,000 in the discretion of the Court for expenses of the
P40,000 in the discretion of the Court for the hospital bills; andcralawlibrary
P1,234,240 the amount of death indemnity for the forced heirs;chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
The firearm used in the commission of the offense is hereby
confiscated in favor of the government.Let the weapon be forwarded to the Firearms and Explosive[s] Unit, Camp
City, through the Provincial Command, PNP, Lingayen,
Pangasinan duly receipted.
SO ORDERED.16 cralawred
In his Brief, appellant Negrillo assigns the following errors:
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT CONSIDERING IN
FAVOR OF THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT THE JUSTIFYING CIRCUMSTANCE OF SELF-DEFENSE.
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONSIDERING THE
ALLEGED USE OF UNLICENSED FIREARM AS AN AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCE DESPITE WANT
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE
ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF THE CRIME CHARGED NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT THAT HIS GUILT
WAS NOT PROVEN BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.
GRANTING FOR THE SAKE OF ARGUMENT THAT THE
ACCUSED-APPELLANT IS GUILTY, NONETHELESS, THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING
HIM OF MURDER INSTEAD OF HOMICIDE.17 cralawred
Four issues in our view must be resolved.First, is there adequate proof of
self-defense by appellant?Second, absent
such proof of self-defense, is there sufficient proof of appellants guilt
beyond reasonable doubt for the victims death?Third, is the offense murder or homicide?Fourth, was the penalty of death properly
imposed?We shall discuss these issues successively.
To prove self-defense, appellant must establish three concurring
requisites, namely, (a) unlawful aggression on the part of the victim; (b)
reasonable necessity of the means employed to repel the aggression; and (c)
lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the accused.18 cralawred
As counsel for appellant, the Public Attorneys Office contends
that appellant shot Mario Mercado in self-defense.The PAO avers that the aggression initially
came from Mercado, who relentlessly insulted, taunted and provoked
appellant.According to the PAO, Mercado
had a reputation for being quarrelsome, that he wanted appellant to be an
accessory to theft, and that he relentlessly insulted appellants sense of
manhood (machismo) .The PAO insists that
Mercado had his 12-gauge firearm pointed at appellant, and that was why
appellant fired at the victim.In brief,
PAO contends, there was unlawful aggression on Mercados part, and not on the
part of the accused who did not provoke the victim at
The PAO attaches no significance to the fact that appellant shot
the victim thrice.According to the PAO,
appellant could not be expected to think clearly and reflect coolly, because he
was blinded by fear and fury.The PAO
concluded that appellant was justified in killing Mercado because appellant was
exposed to an imminent danger, and it was merely his instinct for
self-preservation that made him shoot Mercado.
While we find credible the testimony of defense witness Azur that
appellant reported Mercados grudge against appellant and that appellant and
Mercado were shouting angrily at each other, we cannot accept the assertion
that a grudge and heated exchange of words are sufficient reasons to justify
appellants shooting of the victim three times.We have ruled before that neither an imagined impending attack nor an
intimidating or threatening attitude is sufficient to constitute unlawful
aggression.19 The records of this case reveal that when the victim was shot first, he was
sitting on a chair, fiddling with his cellular phone.Witness Azur categorically testified that
when he saw appellant shoot Mercado the first time, Mercado was indeed seated
on a chair tinkering with his cellular phone.According to Azur, appellant shot the victim thrice.The first hit the chair; the second, the
victims chest; the third, his back.Moreover, in his sworn statement, Azur stated it was appellant who dared
the victim, Paltogan kan
to pay20 (You want me to shoot you?) and uttered, Agpayso21 (Thats true) .Unlawful aggression presupposes
an actual, sudden, and unexpected attack, or imminent danger.22 In our view, the evidence on record debunks appellants assertion that there
was unlawful aggression on the part of the victim.
Another impartial witness, Manolo Velasco, corroborated Azurs
testimony that appellant shot Mercado in the chest and at the back.More significantly, Velasco testified he saw
appellant aim a fourth time at Mercados head, but for some reason the gun did
These two testimonies by the eyewitnesses to the incident are
corroborated by physical evidence.The
victim, according to the autopsy report, suffered gunshot wounds at the post
axillary line about one cm. in diameter penetrating at the right chest just 1
inches above the right nipple about one cm. in diameter, at the anterior
axillary line at the level of 6th and 7th inter costal
space about 2 cm. x 1 cm. in length, and at the left anterior axillary line
at the level of the 5th and 6th inter costal space about
2 cm. x 1 cm. in length.23 He also had internal injuries, lacerated wounds in the middle lobe of the
right lung, at the right ventricle of the heart, and on the upper lobe of the
left lung.24 The locations of the gunshot wounds on the body of the deceased eloquently
refute appellants plea of self-defense.
Further, if there is no unlawful aggression or if the unlawful
aggression had ceased to exist, there is no necessity to take a defensive
course of action for there is nothing at all to prevent or repel.In the instant case, impartial witnesses
declare that when they saw appellant shoot, the victim was sitting on a
chair.Even if the taunting words by the
victim earlier could be considered some form of verbal aggression, the sequence
of events shows that the supposed aggression had ceased already.The victim already sat down, without signs
that he anticipated appellants armed assault.At that time, there appears no necessity for appellant to ward off any
danger by shooting thrice the victim.
Well established is the doctrine that in the absence of unlawful
aggression, there can be no self-defense, complete or incomplete.25 Unlawful aggression is an essential and primary element of self-defense,
without it, there can be no self-defense.26 Appellants claim thereto is utterly baseless in fact and in law.
Moreover, where self-defense is pleaded, reasonableness of the
necessity for taking action and reasonableness of the means employed to prevent
or repel the unlawful aggression must be taken into account.27 Here, it is significant that, according to unrebutted testimony for the
prosecution, after appellant fired thrice at his victim, he still aimed his gun
at the fallen victims head, although for some reason it jammed.
The PAO argues that appellants use of a gun should not negate
the claim of self-defense inasmuch as the victim was also armed with a shotgun, and the danger to appellants life was imminent.Unfortunately for appellant, this claim is
refuted by eyewitness Azur who testified that the victim was unarmed.The 12-gauge shotgun referred to by the
appellant was, at that time, not in the possession of the victim.It was inside the guardhouse being cleaned.28 Azurs testimony is not refuted by the defense.Given this circumstance, appellants version of self-defense appears as
a mere concoction.
Coming now to the second and third issues,
which we shall discuss together.Once the accused invokes self-defense, the burden of evidence shifts to
the accused to show that the killing was justified and that he incurred no
criminal liability.29 In this case, appellant clearly failed to discharge his burden.His uncorroborated, self-serving declaration
of self-defense pales in the light of the testimonies of two impartial
eyewitnesses as well as the medical evidence presented by the prosecution.As observed by the Solicitor General, when
the appellant claimed self-defense, he must prove that the killing was
justified clearly and convincingly on the strength of his own evidence.30 Appellant can not rely on the weakness of the prosecutions evidence.31 To say that the prosecution should have rebutted appellants claim of
self-defense, when appellant failed in his task of proving it, would be a
However, counsel for appellant submits that even granting arguendo
that he is guilty of a crime, the crime he committed was only homicide and not
murder.He calls attention to People v. Alba, 32 and the more recent case of People v. Manlansing, 33 which opined that:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
the information should state not only the designation of the
offense and the acts and omissions constituting it but shall also specify its
qualifying and aggravating circumstances.Guided by the established rule that when a penal statute, whether
substantive or remedial and procedural, is favorable to the accused, the courts
shall give it a retroactive application.Thus, we held that since the information in this case failed to specify
treachery as a circumstance qualifying the killing to murder, under the present
Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, treachery has to be considered a generic
aggravating circumstance only.
But the Solicitor General replies that the PAO erred in relying
in the aforementioned cases, for they were already overtaken by People v. Aquino,
34 a per curiam resolution, which held that
qualifying circumstances need not be preceded by descriptive words
such as qualifying or qualified by to properly qualify an offense.The Court has repeatedly qualified cases of
rape where the twin circumstances of minority and relationship have been
specifically alleged in the Information even without the use of
descriptive words qualifying or qualified by.
Section 9, Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure
states that the
qualifying and aggravating circumstances
must be stated in ordinary and concise language and not necessarily in the
language used in the statute but in terms sufficient to enable a person of
common understanding to know(the) qualifying and aggravating circumstances.
Thus, even the attendant circumstance itself,
which is the essential element that raises the crime to a higher category, need
not be stated in the language of the law.With more reason, the words aggravating/qualifying circumstances as
used in the law need not appear in the Information, especially since these
words are merely descriptive of the attendant circumstances and do not
constitute an essential element of the crime.These words are also not necessary in informing the accused that he is
charged of a qualified crime.What
properly informs the accused of the nature of the crime charged is the specific
allegation of the circumstances mentioned in the law that raise the crime to a
Section 8 of Rule 110 requires that the 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.. . .Section 8
merely requires the Information to specify the circumstances.Section 8 does not require the use of the
words qualifying or qualified by to refer to the circumstances which raise
the category of an offense.It is not
the use of the words qualifying or qualified by that raises a crime to a
higher category, but the specific allegation of an attendant circumstance which
adds the essential element raising the crime to a higher category.
We therefore reiterate that Sections 8 and 9 of Rule 110 merely
require that the Information allege, specify or enumerate the
attendant circumstances mentioned in the law to qualify the offense.These circumstances need not be preceded by
the words aggravating/qualifying, qualifying, or qualified by to be
considered as qualifying circumstances.It is sufficient that these circumstances be specified in the
Information to apprise the accused of the charges
against him to enable him to prepare fully for his defense, thus precluding
surprises during the trial.When the
prosecution specifically alleges in the Information the circumstances mentioned
in the law as qualifying the crime, and succeeds in proving them beyond
reasonable doubt, the Court is constrained to impose the higher penalty
mandated by law.This includes the death
penalty in proper cases.
To guide the bench and the bar, this Resolution clarifies and
resolves the issue of how to allege or specify qualifying or aggravating
circumstances in the Information.The
words aggravating/qualifying, qualifying, qualified by, aggravating, or
aggravated by need not be expressly stated as long as the particular
attendant circumstances are specified in the Information.35 cralawred
In the present case, the Information alleged that the
circumstance of treachery attended the commission of the crime which would
qualify the killing to murder.The
essence of treachery is the unexpected and sudden attack on the victim which
renders the latter unable and unprepared to defend himself by reason of the
suddenness and severity of the attack.36 Here, it is undisputed that an altercation or heated exchange of words between
appellant and the victim preceded the shooting.The verbal tussle had degenerated into a reciprocal challenge concerning
the parties machismo.Threats
were openly aired between them.Witness
Azur testified that appellant officially reported a grudge between him and the
victim.The working place reeked of
mutual menace.We cannot conclude in
these circumstances that the attack on the victim, Mario Mercado, was sudden or
unexpected and the victim had no means within reach to defend himself.Where the manner of attack was not
convincingly proven, the accused should be given the benefit of the doubt and
the crime should be considered homicide only.37 On this point, we are not persuaded that treachery attended Mercados
killing.Absent this qualifying
circumstance, the proper offense for which the appellant is liable is only
homicide not murder.
But was the homicide aggravated by the case of an unlicensed
firearm?Appellants counsel contends
that the trial court erred in considering the gun used in the killing as
unlicensed.The firearm, according to
the PAO, was duly licensed to the security agency that employed appellant.Hence, it is not correct to say the gun used
by appellant is unlicensed.
To this contention, the Solicitor General replies that Section 1,
par. 3 of Republic Act No. 8294, An Act Amending the Provisions of Presidential
Decree No. 1866, as Amended Entitled Codifying the Laws on
Illegal/Unlawful Possession, Manufacture, Dealing In, Acquisition or
Disposition of Firearms, Ammunition or Explosives or Instruments Used in
the Manufacture of Firearms, Ammunition or Explosives, and Imposing Stiffer
Penalties for Certain Violations Thereof, and for Relevant Purposes,specifically
states that if homicide or murder is committed with the use of an unlicensed firearm,
such use of an unlicensed firearm shall be considered an aggravating
circumstance.38 Furthermore, Section 5 (2) of the same Act enumerates, unauthorized use of
licensed firearm in the commission of the crime as covered by the term
unlicensed firearm.39 cralawred
The applicable law on this matter is found in Section 1, par. 3
and Section 5 (2) of Rep. Act No. 8294.Pursuant to Section 1 in relation to Section 5, the firearm used in an
unauthorized manner shall be considered an aggravating circumstance.We are in agreement that even if the firearm
used was properly licensed to the security agency, its unauthorized use by the
appellant aggravated his offense.
Unlike treachery which was not proved by adequate evidence, the
unauthorized use of a firearm by appellant was properly proved.Thus, we hold that the offense committed is
homicide, aggravated by the use of an unlicensed firearm.
The imposable penalty for homicide under Article 249 of the
Revised Penal Code40 is reclusion temporal.Since
appellants crime homicide is aggravated, without any mitigating circumstance
to offset it, the imposable penalty for the offense is reclusion temporalin
its maximum period.Applying the
Indeterminate Sentence Law, the penalty that could be properly imposed as maximum
is reclusion temporalin its maximum period, or 17 years, 4 months and 1
day to 20 years.Whereas, the minimum of
the sentence shall be within the range of the penalty next lower to that
prescribed by the Code, which is prision mayor, or from 6 years and 1
day to 12 years.Hence, the penalty
imposed on appellant should be modified by reducing it to an indeterminate
sentence of eight years and one day of prision mayor as minimum to
seventeen years, four months and one day of reclusion temporalas maximum.
Now, as to the award of damages.On review, the entire case must be
scrutinized, and it becomes the duty of this Court to correct an error that may
be found in the judgment below, regardless of whether the error is assigned or
In the present case, regarding actual damages, receipts presented
and attached to the records amount to only
P25,820.50.That should be the amount awarded, since
actual damages must be proven by competent evidence, such as receipts.42 cralawred
The trial court awarded
by way of civil indemnity for the victims death, and another P50,000 as
moral damages.Since these amounts
accord with prevailing case law,43 they should be sustained.
The award of
P30,000 for expenses
of the wake and P40,000 for
hospital bills have not been adequately proved in the absence of corresponding
receipts.Both ought to be deleted.
Considering the evidence at hand, an amount representing loss of
the victims earning capacity should be awarded to the victims heirs.The victims mother testified that her son
was 25 years old and earning
P180 a day, at the time of his premature
death.The formula consistently used by
the Court in determining life expectancy is, 2/3 x [80 - age of the victim at
the time of death] x [reasonable portion of the victims annual income].44 The net earning is also ordinarily pegged at half of the gross earnings,45 which in this case is P90 or half of P180 a day.Thus the annual net earning is P90 x
365 days = P32,850 as reasonable portion of the
victimsannual income.Applying the formula, 2/3 (80 - 25) x P32,850 = P1,204,499.80, which is the amount
representing damages due the heirs for victims loss of earning capacity.
Finally, we shall now look into the consolidated petition, G.R.
No. 149039, Catalina Security Agency v. Hon. Alicia B. Gonzalez-Decano.
It is undisputed that the firearm used by appellant in killing of
Mario Mercado, subject of Crim. Case No. U-10870, People of the Philippines v. Rogelio Negrillo, on October 7,
2000, was a caliber .38 revolver with
serial number 1092903, duly licensed to and owned by Catalina Security Agency
(hereafter Catalina, for brevity) .During trial of Crim. Case No. U-10870, said firearm was
offered as evidence before the court below.In its decision convicting herein appellant, the trial court ordered the
confiscation of the firearm in favor of the government.46 Dissatisfied with the order, herein petitioner Catalina filed a motion for
reconsideration seeking reversal of the order of confiscation.
When asked to comment on the motion, Asst. Provincial Prosecutor
Restituto A. Dumlao, Jr. interposed no objection to the motion.Nonetheless, the court a quo denied the
motion, stated that the case was still subject to automatic review.
In G.R. No. 149039, the sole issue for our resolution is whether
or not the RTC committed a reversible error of law when it ordered the
confiscation in favor ofthe government
of the firearm used in Criminal Case No. U-10870.
Petitioner Catalina contends that the confiscation was contrary
to law, specifically Article 45 of the Revised Penal Code.47 According to petitioner, although the firearm was illegally used, the firearm
was not illegal per se, or better said, ownership and possession thereof
by petitioner Catalina is not unlawful.It was duly licensed to Catalina Security Agency for use in a legitimate
business of providing security services to its clients.Petitioner stresses that the agency had no
knowledge nor participation in appellants shooting of the victim, Mario
Mercado.It would be grossly unfair to
Catalina if its firearm would be confiscated, considering that the purpose for
which it was kept in the custody of the police and then the court, had already
been served.Petitioner concludes that
to deprive the agency of the firearms use amounts to deprivation of property
without due process.This had already
resulted to irreparable business loss to Catalina, says the petitioner.More significantly, Catalina fears that the
continued lack of maintenance of the firearm might render the firearm beyond
repair, hence useless and worthless later.
The Office of the Solicitor General, for the State, shares the
petitioners contention.According to
the OSG, the confiscation of the firearm is not only contrary to Article 45 of
the Revised Penal Code, it also runs afoul the constitutional guaranty of due
process since petitioner was never indicted nor even made a party in the
case.The OSG cites People v. Delgado48 where we ruled that the trial court cannot order the forfeiture of goods, the
owner of which is not indicted.Likewise, he cites Ang Ping v. Court of Appeals, 49 that before a person can be deprived of his property, he should first be
informed of the claim against him and the reason upon which such claim is
premised.The OSG concludes that there
are no grounds, legal or logical, to justify the decision of the respondent
judge directing the confiscation of petitioners firearm after the completion
of appellants trial and his conviction.
In the light of the clear and unequivocal provision of law in
Article 45, R.P.C., and our ruling in Ang Ping, we are constrained to
rule that the order of the respondent trial judge to confiscate in favor of the
government the firearm belonging to Catalina Security Agency has no sufficient
legal basis.We are, therefore, obliged
to restore its possession to petitioner.
A.In G.R. No. 149362,
People of the Philippines v. Rogelio Negrillo y Nastor @ Ilyo, the Decision dated May 30, 2001, of the Regional Trial
Court in Criminal Case No. U-10870, is AFFIRMED WITH
NEGRILLO Y NASTOR @ ILYO, is GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
HOMICIDEaggravated by the use of unlicensed firearm.Pursuant to the Indeterminate Sentence Law,
he is hereby sentenced to an indeterminate sentence of eight years (8) years
and one (1) day of prision mayor as minimumto seventeen (17)
years, four (4) months and one (1) day of reclusion temporalas maximum,
with all applicable accessory penalties.Appellant is also ordered to PAY the heirs of Mario G. Mercado,
P50,000.00 as civil indemnity and another P50,000.00 for
moral damages.The award of P22,660.00 for actual damages is INCREASEDto P25,820.50
as actual damages duly substantiated by receipts, to be paid to the heirs of
Mario G. Mercado.The award of P1,234,240 as death indemnity is DELETED,but appellant is ordered to PAY the heirs of
Mario G. Mercado P1,204,499.80 for loss of his earning capacity.
B.In G.R. No. 149039, Catalina
Security Agency, et al. v. Hon. Alicia B. Gonzalez-Decano, et al., as
prayed for by Petitioners, and without opposition by the Office of the
Solicitor General, the order of the trial court in its decision dated May 30,
2001, concerning the confiscation of the firearm used in the commission of the
offense in favor of the government and forwarding said weapon to the Firearms
and Explosives Unit in Camp Crame, Quezon City through the Provincial Command
PNP, Lingayen, is VACATEDandSET ASIDE.The custodian of the subject firearm is
hereby ordered to release said firearm to petitioner Catalina Security Agency
within 15 days from receipt of this decision, unless it is being kept by the
custodian for some other lawful reason.Cost de oficio.
Vitug, (Acting Chief Justice),
Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, Callejo,
Sr., Azcuna, and TINGA, JJ., concur.
Davide, Jr., C.J., andPuno,J., on
4 TSN, 14 February 2001, p. 3
5 TSN, 20 February 2001, pp. 6-10
8 TSN, 21 February 2001, pp. 4-6
9 TSN, 12 March 2001, pp. 3-4 (SPO2
Leonardo S. Marilag).
10 TSN, 21 March 2001, pp. 11-13
17 Rollo (G.R. No. 149362),
18 Revised Penal Code,
Article 11, No. 1.
28 TSN, 20 February 2001, p. 24
32 G.R. No. 130523, 29 January 2002,
375 SCRA 69, 79.
33 G.R. NOS. 131736-37, 11 March 2002,
378 SCRA 685, 699-700.
34 G.R. NOS. 144340-42, 6 August 2002,
386 SCRA 391.
37 People v. Agcaoili, 206 SCRA 606 (1992).
38 Section 1.Section 1 of Presidential Decree No. 1866, as amended, is hereby further
amended to read as follows:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
SECTION. 1. Unlawful Manufacture, Sale,
Acquisition, Disposition or Possession of Firearms or Ammunition or Instruments
Used or Intended to be Used in the Manufacture ofFirearms and Ammunition.. ..
homicide or murder is committed with the use of an unlicensed firearm, such use
of an unlicensed firearm shall be considered as an aggravating circumstance.
39 Section 5. Coverage of the Term Unlicensed
Firearm.The term unlicensed firearm shall include:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
firearms with expired licenses; or
unauthorized use of licensed firearm in the commission
of the crime.
40 ART. 249. Homicide. Any person, who not falling within the provisions
of Article 246, shall kill another without the attendance of any of the
circumstances enumerated in the next preceding article, shall be deemed guilty
of homicide and be punished by reclusion temporal.
45 People v. San Pascual, supra, note 42 at 65.
47 Art. 45. Confiscation and forfeiture of the proceeds or instruments of the
crime.Every penalty imposed for the commission of a felony shall carry
with it the forfeiture of the proceeds of the crime and instruments or tools
with which it was committed.
proceeds or instruments or tools shall be confiscated and forfeited in favor of
the Government, unless they be the property of a third person not liable for
the offense, but those articles which are not subject of lawful commerce shall
48 No. 05510-CR, 28 June 1966,
64 O.G. 785.
49 G.R. No. 126947, 15 July 1999,
310 SCRA 343, 352.
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