[G.R. No. 179476, February 09 : 2011]
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. RUEL TUY , ACCUSED-APPELLANT.
R E S O L U T I O N
Together with Ramon Salcedo, Jr. and Raul Salcedo, who have remained at large, appellant Ruel Tuy was charged with murder in the Regional Trial Court in Calabanga, Camarines Sur (RTC) for the killing of Orlando Barrameda in the afternoon of October 11, 2001 in Brgy.Bani, Tinambac, Camarines Sur, under the following information:
That on or about 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon of October 11, 2001 at Bani, Tinambac, Camarines Sur, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court, the said accused with intent to kill and while armed with firearms and a bolo and with conspiracy between and among themselves, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and harm one Orlando Barrameda thereby inflicting mortal wounds on the different part of his body which caused his instantaneous death, to the damage of his heirs in such amount as maybe duly proven in court.
Attendant during the commission of the crime is treachery because the accused took advantage of their superior strength, with arms and employed means, methods or forms in the execution thereof which tend directly and specially to insure its execution, without risk to himself arising from the defense which the offended party might make.
Further, the offended party was at the time of the crime the incumbent barangay captain of the place where the incident happened.
ACTS CONTRARY TO LAW.
Upon arraignment, the accused-appellant pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder. Thereafter, trial on the merits ensued.
For the Prosecution, Severino Barrameda (Severino), the son of the victim, declared that he had witnessed the Salcedos shooting and Tuy hacking his father. The medico-legal evidence presented through Dr. Salvador Betito, Jr. (Betito), who had conducted the autopsy, established that the victim had sustained five hack wounds and two gunshot wounds. Betito concluded that the cause of death was rapid external and internal hemorrhage secondary to multiple gunshot wounds and hack wounds.
In his defense, Tuy denied his participation in the crime and claimed that he was processing copra at the time of the killing in Sitio Olango, Brgy. Bani Tinambac, Camarines Sur. His brother Ramil Tuy corroborated him.
On February 22, 2006, the RTC rendered its decision convicting Tuy of murder, and archiving the case as against the Salcedos. The RTC based its judgment on the eyewitness testimony of Severino and on the testimony of Dr. Betito. The dispositive portion reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the prosecution having proven the guilt of the accused Ruel Tuy beyond reasonable doubt, he is hereby found guilty of the crime of Murder as charged. He is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA and to pay the heirs of Orlando Barrameda the amount of P50,000 as civil indemnity; P50,000 as moral damages; P38,000 as actual damages and to pay the costs. He is likewise meted the accessory penalty as provided for under the Revised Penal Code.
SO ORDERED. 
On appeal, the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the conviction,
rejecting Tuy's defenses of denial and alibi
. It ruled that it was still physically possible for him to come from Brgy. Olango and be at the seashore of Brgy. Bani, Tinambac, Camarines Sur where the killing happened. The decretal portion of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 63, Calabanga, Camarines Sur in Criminal Case No. 02-697 dated 22 February 2006 is AFFIRMED.
Tuy now insists to us that the CA committed reversible error in affirming his conviction.
We affirm the decision of the CA.
Firstly, the findings of the RTC are accorded the highest degree of respect, especially if adopted and confirmed by the CA, because of the first-hand opportunity of the trial judge to observe the demeanor of the witnesses when they testified at trial; such findings are final and conclusive and may not be reviewed on appeal unless there is clear misapprehension of facts. Here, there was no showing that the RTC and the CA erred in appreciating the worth of Severino's eyewitness testimony.
Secondly, the CA and the RTC rejected the alibi of Tuy. We agree with their rejection. To begin with, his absence from the scene of the murder was not firmly established considering that he admitted that he could navigate the distance between Brgy. Olango (where he was supposed to be) and Brgy. Bani (where the crime was committed) in an hour by paddle boat and in less than that time by motorized banca. Also, eyewitness Severino positively identified him as having hacked his father. The failure of Tuy to prove the physical impossibility of his presence at the crime scene negated his alibi.
And, thirdly, the medico-legal evidence indicating that the victim sustained several hack wounds entirely corroborated Severino's recollection on the hacking.
On the civil liability, we increase the civil indemnity and the moral damages from P50,000.00 to P75,000.00, and add exemplary damages of P30,000.00 in order to accord with current jurisprudence to the effect that damages in such amounts are granted whenever the accused is adjudged guilty of a crime covered by Republic Act No. 7659 like murder.
WHEREFORE, the Court affirms the decision promulgated on April 25, 2007 finding RUEL TUY guilty beyond reasonable doubt of murder, subject to the modification that the civil indemnity is P75,000.00; the moral damages is P75,000.00; and the exemplary damages is P30,000.00.
Carpio Morales, (Chairperson), Brion, Peralta,* and Villarama, Jr., JJ., concur.
* In lieu of Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno who is on leave per Office Order No. 944 dated February 9, 2011.
 Records, p. 1.
 CA Rollo, pp. 65-66.
 Rollo, pp. 2-12; penned by Associate Justice Romeo F. Barza, with Associate Justice Mariano C. Del Castillo (now a Member of the Court) and Associate Justice Arcangelita M. Romilla-Lontok (retired) concurring.
 Id., pp. 11-12.
 Garong v. People, G.R. No. 148971, November 29, 2006, 508 SCRA 446, 455; Lubos v. Galupo, G.R. No. 139136, January 16, 2002, 373 SCRA 618, 622; Montecillo v. Reynes, G.R. No. 138018, July 26, 2002, 385 SCRA 244, 255.
 People v. Malones, G.R. No. 124388-90, March 11, 2004, 425 SCRA 318, 338.
 People v. Bracamonte, G.R. No. 95939, June 17, 1996, 257 SCRA 380, 384.
 People v. Arbalate, G.R. No. 183457, September 17, 2009, 600 SCRA 239, 255.
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