People v. Magdaraog : 151251 : May 19, 2004 : J. Panganiban : First
Division : Decision
[G.R. NO. 151251 : May 19, 2004]
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee, v. HOMER MAGDARAOG y
SALONA, MANUEL MAGDARAOG y SALONA,
DAVID MAGDARAOG y SALONA and ARIEL
MAGDARAOG y SALONA, Accused.
HOMER MAGDARAOG y SALONA
and MANUEL MAGDARAOG y SALONA, Appellants.
D E C I S I O N
The bare denial and alibi of the accused cannot prevail over the
positive declarations of an eyewitness who credibly testified that they were
In the present case,
these defenses are not only intrinsically weak, but also lack believable
Homer and Manuel Magdaraog appeal the November 28, 2001 Decision1 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig City (Branch 163) in Criminal Case
No. 118229-H, finding them guilty of murder and sentencing them to reclusion perpetua.
The dispositive part of the Decision is
WHEREFORE, accused Homer Magdaraog and Manuel Magdaraog are hereby
convicted of the crime of murder under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code
and sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua with all the accessory penalties provided by law and to pay the
The accused are further sentenced to pay the legal heirs of the
victim actual damage[s] in the amount of
as civil indemnity and P50,000.00 by way of moral damages with interest
at the rate of 12% per annum from this date until fully paid.2 cralawred
The Amended Information,3 dated July 26, 2000, charged appellants together with their two other brothers,
David and Ariel Magdaraog, as follows:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
On or about May 8, 2000, in Taguig, Metro Manila, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused, conspiring and confederating
together and all of them mutually helping and aiding one another, armed with an
icepick with intent to kill, and by taking advantage of superior strength,
evident premeditation and by means of treachery, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously stab one Angel Martirez Jr. y Agonos, on the vital
parts of his body, thereby inflicting upon the latter multiple stab wounds
which directly caused hi[s] immediate death.4 cralawred
Upon their arraignment on June 13, 2000,5 Homer and Manuel Magdaraog, assisted by their counsel de parte,6 pleaded not guilty.
The two other
accused -- David and Ariel Magdaraog -- were and have remained at large.
Hence, trial in regard only to appellants
proceeded in due course.
the court a quo rendered the assailed
Version of the Prosecution
In its Brief,7 the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) presents the prosecutions version of
the facts as follows:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
On May 8, 2000, on or about 5:00 P.M., Homer, Manuel and David
Magdaraog arrived at the vulcanizing shop of Rogelio Brazal, located at AT[U]
Site, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig, and had a talk with their youngest brother,
Ariel, who worked as a tireman at the shop.
Thereafter, the Magdaraog brothers, together with Rogelio Brazal and a
certain Salvador A[suela], Jr., had a drinking spree at the vulcanizing shop.
Around 9:30 in the evening, they transferred to the videoke
restaurant just beside the vulcanizing shop.
A little past 10:00 P.M., the owner of the restaurant told them that it
was closing time and so Rogelio proceeded back to his vulcanizing shop together
After a few minutes,
Rogelio also saw the Magdaraog brothers leave the restaurant and, passing by
the vulcanizing shop, the brothers told Rogelio that they were leaving.
What happened next was that Rogelio heard a commotion outside his
shop and when he looked out he saw Angel Martirez, another tireman at the
vulcanizing shop, being chased by the Magdaraog brothers.
When Angel stumbled and fell down, he was
mobbed and mauled by the brothers.
Rogelio ran towards Angel and the brothers left.
Rogelio lifted Angel who was already
unconscious and sought the help of the people near the premises.
Angel was brought to the hospital but he did
not reach the hospital alive.
The incident was immediately reported to the police and
investigators arrived at the place.
During the investigation, Rogelio Brazal saw Homer Magdaraog walking
near the place of the incident.
arrested, and brought to the Southern Police District the following day.
Manuel was spotted near the vulcanizing shop
on May 9, 2000 and was invited by the police for questioning and was later
Dr. Rolando C. Victoria conducted the post-mortem examination of
the body of Angel Martirez and found multiple punctured wounds at the left side
and back left side of the anterior abdominal wall.The most fatal wound inflicted was the punctured wound at the
back of the abdomen.
contusions and abrasions, the body of the victim bore fifteen (15) punctured
wounds, ten (10) of which were fatal.8
Version of the
In their Brief,9 appellants submit their own version of the facts as follows:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
HOMER MAGDARAOG averred
that on 8 May 2000, at around 10:30 in the evening, he, together with Rogelio
Brazal, Manuel Magdaraog, Ariel Magdaraog, David Magdaraog, Salvador Asuela and
Eleazar Miday were drinking at the videoke restaurant located at the corner of
At[u] St., Fort Bonifacio besides the vulcanizing [shop] of Rogelio
Eleazar Miday invited him
because it was the [formers birthday].
From the said birthday celebration, he alone went home at around 10:00
oclock in the evening [to his and Ariels] residence in Bayan-[B]ayanan,
He was not able to reach
their home because he was arrested by the military police and was brought to
the South Sector where he was investigated.
He denied any involvement in the killing of Angel Martirez, Jr.
In fact, he does not have any
misunderstanding with the victim.
learned that Angel Martirez was stabbed in a rumble when he was already on his
He further testified that the
rumble started inside the videoke restaurant when somebody hit his face.
He did not recognize the person who hit his
face because after he was hit, he felt dizzy and fell down.
However, because there was already a rumble,
he immediately ran away and went home.
averred that on 8 May 2000 at around 5:00 oclock in the afternoon, he,
together with Homer Magdaraog, Ariel Magdaraog, David Magdaraog, Eleazar
M[i]day, Salvador Asuela and Rogelio Brazal were drinking in the vulcanizing
shop owned by Rogelio Brazal located at At[u], Fort Bonifacio.
They started drinking at 3:00 oclock in the
At around 5:00 oclock in
the afternoon, they went inside the videoke restaurant near the vulcanizing
While they were already drinking
inside, he went to the comfort room to urinate.When he went out of the comfort room, he saw people
Upon seeing Homer, [the
latter] told him that there was a rumble[;] that Ariel stabbed Angel when the
latter boxed the former; and that the fist fight started [in] the restaurant
followed by a chase.
He was the only
one who was able to go home that night in Bicutan because Homer was arrested by
the police near the place of [the] incident.
Upon reaching home, his other brother Ariel arrived and told him that he
[Ariel] stabbed Angel.
Ariel left and went to the house of their auntie[,] also in Bicutan.
At present, he does not know where [Ariel
The following day, when he visited
his brother, Homer, in the South Sector, Fort Bonifacio Jail, Rogelio Brazal
pinpointed him and implicated him in the stabbing of Angel Martirez.
Thereafter, without having [the chance to
talk] to Rogelio, the latter left and he was hailed.10
Ruling of the Trial Court
The court a quo
accorded full faith and credence to the testimony of Prosecution Witness
Rogelio Brazal, who positively identified appellants as the persons who had
chased and ganged up on Angel Martirez Jr. when he fell to the ground.
The trial court added that Brazals failure
to see the weapon used to stab the victim was of no moment.
It pointed out that a combination of all the
pieces of circumstantial evidence, presented not only by the prosecution but
also by the defense, clearly and convincingly established the participation of
all the accused in mauling, stabbing and eventually killing Martirez.
Appellants defense, consisting of denial and alibi was rejected
The accused defense of denial and alibi is undeserving of serious
consideration and credence.
and self-serving assertion of the accused cannot prevail over the positive and
credible testimonies of Rogelio [Brazal] and PO2 Wilfredo Lim[,] to both of
whom no improper motives had been attributed. It is the view of the Court that
the story of the accused is an eleventh hour concoction to evade criminal
The court a quo held
that the killing was qualified by abuse of superior strength.
It further held that there was conspiracy,
as evidenced by the acts of the accused -- simultaneously chasing and ganging
up on the victim, as well as helping one another in mauling him when he fell to
Hence, this appeal.12
In their Brief, appellants raise the following alleged errors for
The court a quogravely erred in giving full faith and
credence to the testimony of prosecution witness Rogelio Brazal.
The court a quo
gravely erred in finding [the] accused-appellants guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of murder.13 cralawred
Essentially, they question the sufficiency of the prosecution
evidence, consisting mainly of the testimony of a single eyewitness.
The Courts Ruling
After a careful scrutiny of the evidence on record, we sustain
the conviction of appellants, but modify the award of civil liabilities.
Sufficiency of Prosecution Evidence
Pertinently, the determination of the main issue hinges on the
credibility of Rogelio Brazal, the lone prosecution eyewitness.
Appellants cast doubt on his presence at the
scene of the alleged crime at the time of its commission.
They submit that he did not really witness
the stabbing of Angel Martirez Jr.
Their claim is based on the statement of Brazal during the cross-examination
that he did not see the weapon used by the perpetrators.
Such lapse allegedly rendered his testimony
patently unbelievable, for to be present at the scene of the crime yet not see
the weapon used by the assailants does not conform to ordinary human experience
They conclude that
when Brazal arrived at the locus criminis,
he merely saw Martirez lying on the ground, but not really who had ganged up on
the victim -- who had mauled, stabbed and killed him.14 cralawred
We are not persuaded.
It is doctrinal that the evaluation by the trial court of the credibility
of testimonies is accorded the highest respect, for it has the untrammeled
opportunity to observe directly the demeanor of the witnesses and thus to
determine whether they are telling the truth.15 In the present case, appellants have not
shown any reason for us to overturn the findings of the RTC.
An overall scrutiny of the records leads us
to no other conclusion than that the trial court was correct in finding that
the accused-appellants were responsible for the killing of the victim.
In plain words, Eyewitness Brazal clearly detailed the sequence
of events that had transpired on the evening of May 8, 2000:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
QWhen Homer, Manuel and
David arrived at your vulcanizing shop, what happened, if any?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AThe brothers talked and
we had a drinking spree.
QWhen you said kami
nag-inuman, to whom are you referring as kami?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AI, Salvador Junior
Asuela and the brothers, Homer, Manuel, David and Ariel.
QWhat else happened, if
any, Mr. Witness?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AAt about 9:30 we
transferred and proceeded to the Videoke Restaurant beside my vulcanizing shop.
QWhat happened, if any?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AWe sung happily,
thereafter, the owner told us that it is already closing time.
QWhat else happened?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
ASalvador and I proceeded
to my vulcanizing shop.
QWhat else happened after
AThen, the group went out
and bade me goodbye, and I told them to take care of themselves.
QWhat else happened after
AI heard a commotion and
when I looked out I saw my tireman, Angel Martirez, being chased by the group
of the brothers, then Angel fell down and that was the time when he was mobbed
and hit by the brothers (dinumog ng magkakapatid at binanatan).
QAnd, what happened after
you saw the group of the accused mauling the victim?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AI ran to the place then
I saw the brothers leaving Martirez behind.
QWhat else did you do?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AI lift [Angel] Martirez
who was then unconscious and I sought the help of the people who are in the
QWhat happened next, if
AHe was boarded on a jeep
and brought to the hospital but I did not go with them anymore.16 cralawred
On cross-examination, he testified thus:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
QMr. Witness, when the
restaurant was about to close shop you were with the same group when you
exit[ed] from that place at the same time?
x x x
AI was ahead and I went
to my vulcanizing shop.
QYou left them for how
long before they came out?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AI cannot remember how
long, but after a few minutes they went out.
QYou really dont know
when they went outside because you went ahead, isnt it?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AIt was past 10:00.
QDid you see them c[o]me
out of the place?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AYes, Sir, because they
told me theyre leaving.
QYou did not see them
c[o]me out of the place but you know they went out because they asked your
permission that they will go out, isnt it?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AI saw them went out
because there was no other way going outside except the way along my
QMr. Witness, you did not
see any weapon when the group was allegedly mauling this Angel Martirez, isnt
QWhat you saw is that
somebody was mauling somebody, isnt it?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
QYou did not even know
who was mauling who, until such time that you went to the place and discovered
that there was someone who mauled someone, isnt it?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AThere was light and I
saw that Angel was mauled.17 cralawred
There is no doubt that Brazal witnessed the assault on the victim
by appellants and their two other brothers, Ariel and David Magdaraog.
Brazal was firm and consistent in his
testimony, thus revealing his certainty about what he saw.
Indeed, the striking consistency and
definiteness of his testimony and of his narrations in his Sworn Statement18 executed on May 9, 2000 -- only a day after the incident -- manifest utter
truthfulness or veracity.
Appellants and their brothers were the only persons Brazal saw
ganging up on and simultaneously mauling Martirez when the victim fell to the
After the brothers ran away,
Brazal immediately went to the unconscious Martirez and sought help in bringing
him to the hospital, but the latter did not make it.The series of events as narrated by the lone eyewitness firmly
point to the accused, and to no other, as the perpetrators of the crime.
Brazal was categorical and positive in identifying appellants as
He likewise remained
unyielding all throughout his testimony.
This Court has consistently held that the testimony of a lone
eyewitness, if found by the trial court to be positive and credible, is
sufficient to support a conviction.
This guiding principle holds, especially when the testimony bears the
earmarks of truth and sincerity; more so when it is delivered spontaneously,
naturally and straightforwardly.19 cralawred
The failure of Brazal to see the weapon used by the assailants
does not detract from his positive identification of them.
Such weapon is not, after all, an element of
either homicide or murder.20 As it has been established that the victim died from multiple puncture wounds,
the failure of Brazal to see the weapon is of no consequence and cannot
diminish his credibility.
It must be pointed out that since puncture wounds are usually
small in diameter, they are not immediately visible.21 Furthermore, such small wounds usually do not spout plainly visible quantities
of blood,22 as the bleeding normally occurs inside.23 cralawred
It is a common experience that the perception of individuals may vary,
depending on their location and the extent of their peripheral vision.24 The failure of Brazal to see the weapon that was used may reasonably be
explained by his position relative to appellants and the other accused, as well
as by the fact that he saw them ganging up on the victim who was lying on the
This Court has long acknowledged the verity that different human
minds react differently when confronted by a sudden and shocking event; and
that there are witnesses who may ignore certain details that might have
appeared to them to be insignificant at the time, but that would seem
noteworthy to other persons under the same circumstances.25 Witnesses are not expected to remember perfectly every single detail of an
Furthermore, what is vital in the testimony of Brazal is not his
knowledge of the weapon used, but the fact that he saw appellants ganging up on
Martirez right before the victim died.
The identification and the presentation of the murder weapon are not
indispensable to the prosecutions cause when the accused has positively been
It has not been shown that Brazal was moved by any ill motive to
testify falsely against Appellants.
Even they admitted, on cross-examination, that they had no personal
grudge against or misunderstanding with him.28 Hence, his positive and categorical declarations on the stand under solemn oath
should be given full faith and credence.29 cralawred
Furthermore, the fact that Brazal is the cousin of the victim,30 far from tainting the formers testimony with bias, even renders it more
It would be unnatural for a
relative, who would normally be interested in bringing the real culprits to
justice, to accuse someone else of having committed the crime.31 cralawred
Denial and Alibi
The presence of appellants at the scene of the crime was not
disputed, although both of them denied any responsibility.
Homer Magdaraog claimed that when he was hit
on the face, he felt dizzy and fell down; but he immediately stood up and left
the restaurant, as there was already a rumble and he did not want to get
On the other hand, Manuel
Magdaraog claimed that he was in the comfort room urinating when the killing
occurred, the truth of which was denied by Brazal on rebuttal.32 Appellants insist that their mere presence at the scene of the incident did not
mean that they participated in the crime.
We are not convinced.
As against the positive identification by Brazal, all that Homer
and Manuel could offer in defense were alibi and denial.
After a careful review of the records, we
agree with the trial court that their version of the incident is far from
As previously stated, such defense is considered inherently weak
and constitutes an unstable sanctuary for felons because of the facility with
which it can be concocted.33 Between the positive and categorical narrations of Brazal and the negative
averment of appellants, the former is entitled to greater evidentiary weight.34 This principle holds true especially in this case, in which the specifics of
the alibi dovetail together too neatly to deserve credence.
Furthermore, the alibi is supported solely
by appellants themselves.
The evidence on record shows conspiracy among appellants and the
Conspiracy is deducible
from their acts before, during and after the commission of the crime -- acts
indicative of a joint purpose, concerted action and concurrence of sentiment.
To establish conspiracy, it is not essential that there be proof
of the existence of a previous agreement to commit a crime.35 It is sufficient that, at the time of commission, the accused had the same
purpose and were united in its execution.
In conspiracy, it matters not who among them actually killed the victim.
The act of one is the act of all; hence, it
is not necessary that all the participants deliver the fatal blow.36 cralawred
Manuels identification of Ariel as the one who stabbed Martirez
does not free the accused from criminal responsibility.
By their acts at the time of the aggression,
they manifested a common intent or desire to kill him, so the act of one became
the act of all.
escape from the crime scene further confirmed the existence of conspiracy.
Abuse of Superior Strength
The trial court correctly appreciated the circumstance of abuse
of superior strength, considering that the malefactors had taken advantage of
their number in ganging up on and mauling the victim as he fell to the ground
-- unarmed, obviously overpowered and helpless.Hence, the trial court did not err in finding appellants guilty of
Despite affirming their conviction, we nonetheless modify the
We affirm the award of
P50,000 as civil indemnity ex delicto for the death of Angel
Martirez, and P50,000 for moral damages arising from the proven mental
suffering of his mother and brother as a result of his untimely death.
The award of
P30,000 for actual damages is improper,
however for only the amount of P20,000 representing funeral expenses was
duly proven by competent documents37 during the trial.
In People v. Andres ,38 the Court said:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
W]e declared in the case of People v. Villanueva that:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
when actual damages proven by receipts during the trial amount
to less than
P25,000, as in this case, the award of temperate damages
for P25,000 is justified in lieu of actual damages of a lesser
Conversely, if the amount of
actual damages proven exceeds P25,000, then temperate damages may no
longer be awarded; actual damages based on the receipts presented during trial
should instead be granted.
The victims heirs should, thus, be awarded temperate damages in
the amount of
In the light of the above ruling, we award the heirs of Martirez
the amount of
P25,000 as temperate damages, in lieu of actual damages.
Lastly, loss of earning capacity cannot be awarded in the absence
of competent proof therefor.
Compensation for lost income is in the nature of damages and requires
due proof of the amount of the damage suffered.For loss of income due to death, there must be unbiased proof of
the average income of the deceased.
Also, the award for lost income refers to his net income; that is, his
total income less his average expenses.40 In this case, Henry Martirez gave only a bare self-serving testimony on the
income of his brother.41 No proof of the latters expenses was adduced.
assailed Decision is AFFIRMED, with
the MODIFICATION that the award of
for actual damages is deleted.
In lieu thereof,
however, the heirs of Angel Martirez Jr. are awarded the amount of P25,000
as temperate damages.
Ynares-Santiago, Carpio andAzcuna, JJ., concur.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), on
1 Rollo, pp. 16-21; records, pp. 116-121. Written by Judge Leili Suarez
2 Assailed Decision, pp. 5-6; rollo, pp. 20-21; records, pp. 120-121.
3 Signed by Prosecutor II Eduardo R. Garcia.
The earlier Information dated April 3, 2000, was amended to include the two
other accused, David Magdaraog y
Salona and Ariel Magdaraog y Salona.
4 Rollo, p. 6; records, p. 40.
5 Order dated June 13, 2000; records, p. 17.
6 Atty. Franciso de Borja; later replaced by counsel de oficio, Atty. Danilo T. Lim.
7 Rollo, pp. 59-74.
Assistant Solicitors General Carlos N. Ortega and Renan E. Ramos and Solicitor
Ma. Lourdes B. Alarcon-Leones.
8 Appellees Brief, pp. 3-5; rollo, pp. 63-65. Citations omitted.
9 Rollo, pp. 33-43.
Attys. Amelia C. Garchitorena and Pastor Archimedes P. Morales of the Public
Attorneys Office (PAO).
10 Appellants Brief, pp. 5-6; rollo, pp. 41-42.
11 Assailed Decision, p. 14; rollo, p. 19; records, p. 119.
12 This case was deemed submitted for decision on September 9, 2003, upon this
Courts receipt of appellants Manifestation that they were no longer filing a
Appellants Brief was
received by the Court on December 26, 2002, and appellees Brief on May 6,
13 Appellants Brief, p. 1; rollo, p. 37. Original in upper case.
16 TSN, July 25, 2000, pp. 5-7.
17 TSN, July 25, 2000, pp. 13-15.
18 Exhibit A; records, p. 67.
19 People v. Hillado, 367 Phil. 29, May
21 Solis, Legal Medicine, 1987, p. 271.
26 People v. Rios, supra.
28 TSN, March 27, 2001, p. 13; TSN, July 31, 2001, p. 13.
29 People v. Caballero, 400 SCRA 424,
April 2, 2003; Ureta v. People,
387 SCRA 359,
August 15, 2002; People v. Baccoy, 388 SCRA 641,
September 14, 2002; People v. De la Cruz, 349 SCRA
124, January 16, 2001; People v. Arellano,
390 Phil. 273, June 30, 2000.
30 See Exhibit A; records, p. 67.
Magdaraog testified that he was inside the comfort room when the alleged
stabbing and rumble took place on May 8, 2001, what can you say to that?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AThat is not true, sir[.]
All of them went out of the video bar.
QThat he has nothing to do with the
rumble, what can you say to that?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
AThat night, he was one of those who
ganged up Angel Martirez. (TSN, November 6, 2001, p. 4.)
33 People v. Visaya, supra.
35 People v. Seduco, supra.
36 People v. Caballero, supra; Ureta v. People, supra.
37 Exhibit D;records, p. 70.
38 GR Nos. 135697-98, August 15, 2003.
39 Id., pp. 18-19, per Corona, J.
40 People v. Esponilla, GR No. 122766, p.
24, June 20, 2003, per Callejo Sr., J.; See
also People v. Lachica, supra; People v. Esponilla, supra; People v. Cuenca,
375 SCRA 119,
January 29, 2002.
41 TSN, August 15, 2000, p. 13.
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