G.R. No. 191721 : January 12, 2011
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. ROGELIO DOLORIDO y ESTRADA, Accused-Appellant.
D E C I S I O N
VELASCO, JR., J.:
This is an appeal from the November 27, 2009 Decision1cralaw of the Court of Appeals (CA)
in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 00575-MIN entitled People of the Philippines v. Rogelio Dolorido y Estrada, which affirmed the September
14, 2007 Decision2cralaw in Criminal
Case No. 5027 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 27 in Tandag, Surigao del Sur. The RTC found accused-appellant Rogelio Dolorido y Estrada
guilty of murder.
The charge against Dolorido stemmed from the following Information: chanrob1esvirtwallawlibrary
That on the 9th day of May 2006 at around 8:30 o'clock in the morning, more or less, at Barangay Cagdapao, Municipality of Tago,
Province of Surigao del Sur, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, armed with a bolo with
evident premeditation and treachery and with intent to kill, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously, attack, assault and hack
one, DANIEL ESTOSE, causing his instantaneous death, to the damage and prejudice of the heirs of the deceased as follows: chanrob1esvirtwallawlibrary
P70, 000.00 - as life indemnity
P10, 000.00 - as moral damage
P10, 000.00 - exemplary damages
CONTRARY TO LAW.3cralawredlaw
On November 15, 2006, Dolorido was arraigned, and he pleaded "not guilty" to the crime charged.
During the pre-trial conference on January 18, 2007, Dolorido admitted that he killed the deceased-victim Daniel Estose but invoked self-defense.
Likewise, the prosecution and the defense stipulated that the Joint Affidavit of Aniolito Avila and Adrian Avila (the Avilas) would constitute as
their direct testimony, subject to cross-examination by the defense; and the Counter Affidavit of the Accused and the Affidavit of Mario Jariol
would also constitute as their direct testimony, subject to cross examination by the prosecution.
During the trial, the prosecution offered the testimonies of the Avilas and Loreta Estose. On the other hand, the defense presented, as its sole
witness, accused-appellant Dolorido.
The Prosecution's Version of Facts
The Avilas were hired laborers of the victim, Estose, tasked to harvest the coconuts in the latter's farm in Cagdapao, Tago, Surigao del Sur.4cralawredlaw
On May 9, 2006, while the Avilas were walking towards the coconut plantation at around 8:30 in the morning, they saw Dolorido standing near the
coconut drier of Estose, appearing very angry. After some time, Dolorido proceeded to Rustica Dolorido's coconut drier located a hundred meters
away and hid behind a coconut tree.5cralawredlaw
Moments later, they saw Estose on his way to his own coconut drier. When Estose passed by Rustica Dolorido's coconut drier, they saw Dolorido
suddenly hack Estose twice, resulting in wounds on his arms. When Estose tried to retreat, he fell down and it was then that Dolorido stabbed him
on the left portion of his chest, which caused his death. Dolorido suddenly left the place.
Afraid of Dolorido's wrath, the Avilas did not immediately proceed to the scene of the crime. It was only after 20 or so minutes that they felt it
was safe to approach Estose. When they were near, they saw Estose was already dead.6cralaw They then waited for Estose's
wife and the police.
Version of the Defense
Dolorido's defense, on the other hand, consisted of the story of self-defense: chanrob1esvirtwallawlibrary
On the day of the death of the victim, Dolorido asked Estose why he was gathering Dolorido's harvested coconuts. Estose just replied, "So, what
about it?" and tried to unsheathe his bolo from its scabbard.7cralaw Upon seeing this, Dolorido
drew his own bolo and stabbed Estose. When Estose tried to wrestle for the bolo, he sustained some wounds. Afterwards, while Dolorido was pointing
the bolo at Estose, the latter suddenly lunged at Dolorido, causing Estose to hit the bolo with his own chest which resulted in his death.8cralaw He denied the prosecutor's
claim that he hid behind a coconut tree and waited for Estose to come. Thereafter, Dolorido, accompanied by one Mario Jariol, voluntarily
surrendered to the Tago Police Station.
Rulings of the Trial and Appellate Courts
After trial, the RTC convicted accused Dolorido. The dispositive portion of its September 14, 2007 Decision reads: chanrob1esvirtwallawlibrary
WHEREFORE, finding accused Rogelio Dolorido y Estrada GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of MURDER qualified by treachery, and appreciating in his favor the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender, without
any aggravating circumstance to offset the same, the Court hereby sentences him to suffer the penalty ofReclusion Perpetua, to pay the heirs of deceased-victim Daniel Estose y Langres the sum ofP50, 000.00 as civil indemnity, P50, 000 as moral damages and P25, 000.00 as temperate damages; and to pay the cost.
x x x
On November 27, 2009, the CA affirmed in toto the judgment of the RTC.10cralawredlaw
Accused-appellant assigns the following errors: chanrob1esvirtwallawlibrary
The court a quo gravely erred in not appreciating self-defense interposed by accused.
The court a quo gravely erred in convicting the accused-appellant of murder despite the failure of the prosecution to prove the elements of
The court a quo gravely erred in awarding damages despite failure of the prosecution to present evidence to support their claim.
The Court's Ruling
The appeal has no merit.
Self-defense is absent
In his Brief, accused-appellant argues that the trial court failed to consider the circumstance of unlawful aggression on the part of the
victim. He contends that he only acted in self-defense, and this is the reason why he voluntarily surrendered to the authorities.
We do not agree.
In order for self-defense to be successfully invoked, the following essential elements must be proved: (1) unlawful aggression on the part of the
victim; (2) reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel such aggression; and (3) lack of sufficient provocation on the part of
the person resorting to self-defense.11cralawredlaw
A person who invokes self-defense has the burden of proof of proving all the elements.12cralaw However, the most
important among all the elements is the element of unlawful aggression. Unlawful aggression must be proved first in order for self-defense to be
successfully pleaded, whether complete or incomplete. As this Court said in People v. Catbagan, 13cralaw "There can be no
self-defense, whether complete or incomplete, unless the victim had committed unlawful aggression against the person who resorted to self-defense." chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
In this case, we agree with the trial court that the accused-appellant failed to prove the existence of unlawful aggression. But he maintains that
Estose provoked him when the latter started to unsheathe his bolo from his scabbard. Nevertheless, as aptly found by the trial court, his testimony
is too incredible to be believed, viz: chanrob1esvirtwallawlibrary
Accused's plea failed to impress the Court. To be sure, his story on how the deceased was killed is too incredible to inspire belief. According to
him, it was the deceased who first unsheathed his bolo but did not succeed in his attempt to fully unsheathe it because he (Accused) hacked him.
Thereafter, the deceased tried to wrest Accused's bolo but was injured instead. If the deceased failed to unsheathe his bolo because Accused was
able to hack him, how could the deceased then have attempted to dispossess the Accused of the latter's bolo? The truth, of course, is that the
Accused waylaid the deceased, as testified to by the prosecution witnesses.14cralaw x x x
Unlawful aggression is an actual physical assault, or at least a threat to inflict real imminent injury, upon a person.15cralaw In case of threat, it must
be offensive and strong, positively showing the wrongful intent to cause injury.16cralaw It "presupposes actual,
sudden, unexpected or imminent danger - not merely threatening and intimidating action."17cralaw It is present "only when
the one attacked faces real and immediate threat to one's life."18cralaw Such is absent in the
Moreover, against the positive declarations of the prosecution witnesses who testified that accused-appellant hacked Estose twice and subsequently
stabbed him without any provocation, accused-appellant's self-serving and uncorroborated assertion deserves scant consideration.
Indeed, it is a well-settled rule that "a plea of self-defense cannot be justifiably entertained where it is not only uncorroborated by any
separate competent evidence but is also extremely doubtful in itself."19cralaw Moreover, "[a]bsent any
showing that the prosecution witnesses were moved by improper motive to testify against the appellant, their testimonies are entitled to full faith
Therefore, absent any unlawful aggression from the victim, accused-appellant cannot successfully invoke the defense of self-defense.
Treachery is evident
In addition, accused-appellant argues that the trial court should not have appreciated treachery as a qualifying circumstance. He argues that it
was impossible for the two prosecution witnesses to see the inception and the actual attack of accused-appellant to the victim because both were
busy gathering coconuts. Also, they were 50 meters away from where the actual stabbing occurred, in rolling hills with tall and short shrubs
between the witnesses and the place where the actual stabbing occurred.
Paragraph 16 of Article 14 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) defines treachery as the direct employment of means, methods, or forms in the execution
of the crime against persons which tend directly and specially to insure its execution, without risk to the offender arising from the defense which
the offended party might make. In order for treachery to be properly appreciated, two elements must be present: (1) at the time of the attack, the
victim was not in a position to defend himself; and (2) the accused consciously and deliberately adopted the particular means, methods or forms of
attack employed by him.21cralaw The
"essence of treachery is the sudden and unexpected attack by an aggressor on the unsuspecting victim, depriving the latter of any chance to defend
himself and thereby ensuring its commission without risk of himself."22cralawredlaw
In the case at bar, it was clearly shown that Estose was deprived of any means to ward off the sudden and unexpected attack by accused-appellant.
The evidence showed that accused-appellant hid behind a coconut tree and when Estose passed by the tree, completely unaware of any danger,
accused-appellant immediately hacked him with a bolo. Estose could only attempt to parry the blows with his bare hands and as a result, he got
wounded. Furthermore, when Estose tried to retreat, stumbling in the process, accused-appellant even took advantage of this and stabbed him
resulting in his death. Evidently, the means employed by accused-appellant assured himself of no risk at all arising from the defense which the
deceased might make. What is decisive is that the attack was executed in a manner that the victim was rendered defenseless and unable to retaliate.23cralaw Without a doubt, treachery
attended the killing.
Thus, this Court finds no reason to disturb the findings of the trial court when it gave credence to the testimony of the prosecution witnesses. It
is well-entrenched in our jurisprudence "x x x that the assessment of the credibility of witnesses and their testimonies is a matter best
undertaken by the trial court because of its unique opportunity to observe the witnesses first hand and note their demeanor, conduct and attitude
under grilling examination."24cralaw This rule is even more
binding and conclusive when affirmed by the appellate court.25cralawredlaw
In conclusion, all the elements of the crime of murder, as defined in paragraph 1 of Art. 248 of the RPC, were successfully proved: (1) that a
person was killed; (2) that the accused killed that person; (3) that the killing was attended by treachery; and (4) that the killing is not
infanticide or parricide.26cralawredlaw
Verily, in criminal cases such as the one on hand, the prosecution is not required to show the guilt of the accused with absolute certainty. Only
moral certainty is demanded, or that degree of proof which, to an unprejudiced mind, produces conviction.27cralaw We find that the
prosecution has discharged its burden of proving the guilt of accused-appellant for the crime of murder with moral certainty.
Award of Damages
This Court has held in People v. Beltran, Jr. that "[w]hen death occurs due to a crime, the following damages may be awarded: (1) civil
indemnity ex delicto for the death of the victim; (2) actual or compensatory damages; (3) moral damages; (4) exemplary damages; and (5) temperate
Hence, in line with our ruling in People v. Sanchez, 29cralaw when the imposable penalty
for the crime is reclusion perpetua, the damages to be imposed are: PhP 50, 000 as civil indemnity, PhP 50, 000 as moral damages, and PhP
30, 000 as exemplary damages. These are the amounts proper in this case because of the appreciation of the mitigating circumstance of voluntary
surrender without any aggravating circumstance to offset it.
As to the award of temperate damages in the amount of PhP 25, 000, such is proper "in homicide or murder cases when no evidence of burial and
funeral expenses is presented in the trial court."30cralaw Under Art. 2224 of the
Civil Code, temperate damages may be recovered as it cannot be denied that the heirs of the victims suffered pecuniary loss although the exact
amount was not proved.31cralaw Therefore, we sustain the award of the trial court of PhP 25, 000 for temperate damages.
Finally, interest at the rate of six (6) percent should likewise be added to the damages awarded.32cralawredlaw
WHEREFORE , the appeal is DENIED. The CA Decision in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 00575-MIN finding accused-appellant Rogelio Dolorido y Estrada
guilty of the crime charged is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. In addition to the sum of PhP 50, 000 as civil
indemnity, PhP 50, 000 as moral damages, and PhP 25, 000 as temperate damages, accused-appellant is likewise sentenced to pay the heirs of the victim
the amount of PhP 30, 000 as exemplary damages. Interest at the rate of six percent (6%) per annum on the civil indemnity and moral, temperate, and
exemplary damages from the finality of this decision until fully paid shall likewise be paid by accused-appellant to the heirs of Daniel Estose.
PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.
CORONA, C.J., Chairperson, LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, DEL CASTILLO, and PEREZ, JJ.
1cralaw Rollo , pp. 3-18. Penned by Associate Justice Rodrigo F. Lim, Jr. and concurred in by Associate Justices Ruben C. Ayson and Leoncia R. Dimagiba.
2cralaw CA rollo, pp. 33-40. Penned by Judge Ermelindo G. Andal.
4cralaw TSN, February 22, 2007, p. 5.
11cralaw People v. Silvano , G.R. No. 125923, January 31, 2001, 350 SCRA 650, 657; People v. Plazo, G.R. No. 120547, January 29, 2001, 350 SCRA 433, 442-443.
12cralaw People v. Almazan , G.R. Nos. 138943-44, September 17, 2001, 365 SCRA 373, 382.
13cralaw G.R. Nos. 149430-32, February 23, 2004, 423 SCRA 535, 540.
14cralaw CA rollo, p. 39.
15cralaw People v. Basadre , G.R. No. 131851, February 22, 2001, 352 SCRA 573, 583.
16cralaw People v. Catbagan , supra note 13, at 557.
17cralaw People v. Escarlos , G.R. No. 148912, September 10, 2003, 410 SCRA 463, 478.
19cralaw People v. Aburque , G.R. No. 181085, October 23, 2009, 604 SCRA 384, 394; citing Del Rosario v. People, G.R. No. 141749, April 17, 2001, 356
SCRA 627, 634.
20cralaw People v. Aburque , id.
21cralaw People v. Reyes , G.R. No. 118649, March 9, 1998, 287 SCRA 229, 238.
22cralaw People v. Escote, Jr. , G.R. No. 140756, April 4, 2003, 400 SCRA 603, 632-633.
23cralaw People v. Honor , G.R. No. 175945, April 7, 2009, 584 SCRA 546, 558.
24cralaw People v. Bantiling , G.R. No. 136017, November 15, 2001, 369 SCRA 47, 60. See also People v. Godoy, G.R. Nos. 115908-09, December 6, 1995, 250 SCRA 676.
25cralaw Vidar v. People , G.R. No. 177361, February 1, 2010, 611 SCRA 216, 230.
26cralaw People v. Sameniano , G.R. No. 183703, January 20, 2009, 576 SCRA 840, 850.
27cralaw Rules of Court, Rule 133, Sec. 2.
28cralaw G.R. No. 168051, September 27, 2006, 503 SCRA 715, 740.
29cralaw G.R. No. 131116, August 27, 1999, 313 SCRA 254, 271-272.
30cralaw People v. Dacillo , G.R. No. 149368, April 14, 2004, 427 SCRA 528, 538.
31cralaw People v. Surongon , G.R. No. 173478, July 12, 2007, 527 SCRA 577, 588.
32cralaw See People v. Tabongbanua, G.R. No. 171271, August 31, 2006, 500 SCRA 727.
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