[G.R. No. 143249.June 18, 2001]
DAOASEN, et al. vs. PEOPLE, et al.
hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this Court dated JUN 18 2001.
G.R. No. 143249(Rodrigo
Daoasen (Dao-asen), et al. vs. People, et al.)
This is a petition for
review of the decision of the Court of Appeals affirming in toto the joint decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC),
Branch 35, Bontoc, Mountain Province in Criminal Cases Nos. 930 and 931, finding
petitioners guilty beyond reasonable doubt for violation of P.D. No. 533, known
as the Anti-Cattle Rustling Law, on two (2) counts.
On the basis of the
eyewitness account of Botsing Gao-ay, petitioners Rodrigo Daoasen (Dao-asen),
Tawaken Ligligen (Tawaka Leglegen) and Yamat Ligligen (Leglegen) were convicted
for hacking the femal cow of his uncle, Carlos Tingbawen. The cow was then
dragged and dumped in the kaingin of one Federico Ligligen (Leglegen), the
father of the two accused. Botsing Gao-ay's own cow was, likewise, shot and
left on the same spot. The next morning, Gao-ay found his cow agonizing in pain
due to the bullet wound so he decided to let his cow be butchered.
Petitioners assail the
decisions of the two courts below on two (2) principal grounds: (1) that there
was no positive identification of the culprits; and, (2) that the elements of
"taking" and "intent to gain" are not present in the case at bar.
Well-entrenched is the
rule that factual findings of the trial court especially when affirmed by the
Court of Appeals, are accorded great respect and are binding on the Supreme
Court, unless substantial facts and circumstances were overlooked which, if
considered, would materially affect the result of the case.
Petitioners contend that
it was error for the respondent court to have merely relied on the testimony of
Gao-ay and rule that there was positive identification of the perpetrators of
the crime. To this contention, we agree with the Office of the Solicitor
General (OSG) as it explained, to wit:
As aptly found by the
Court of Appeals, the identification of petitioners was duly established by the
prosecution. However, a distinction must be made anent the nature of the
evidence presented, pinpointing to petitioners as the author of the crime charged,
with respect to the cow that was fatally shot (owned by Gao-ay) viz-a-viz the cow that was hacked to
death (owned by Tingbawen).
In Criminal Case No. 931,
the subject matter of which is Gao-ay's cow, in affirming the Decision of the
trial court, the Court of Appeals ruled in this wise:
Although Botsing did not
actually see the shooting of his cow, the fact that he saw the three appellants
passed by his house and then he heard gunshots and subsequently, he found his
cow with gunshot wounds and the slug was found in the cow's stomach more than
prove that appellants did it. That falls under circumstantial evidence xxx"
(Decision, p. 11)
It is settled that
circumstantial evidence is sufficient for conviction if: (a) there is more than
one circumstance; (b) the facts from which the inference are derived are
proven; and (c) the combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce
a conviction beyond reasonable doubt. All elements are present and duly proven
in this case.
With respect to Carlos
Tingbawen's cow, the subject matter in Criminal Case No. 930, Gao-ay positively
identified petitioners as the ones who hacked the cow several times, dragged it
towards the kaingin owned by one Federico Leglegen (sic), and dumped it there.
If Gao-ay was not truly present at the time of the incident, he could not have
possibly known such specific details and circumstances attending the commission
of the crime. Tingbawen corroborated the testimony of Gao-ay. Tingbawen
testified that his cow sustained several hack wounds. His cow was hacked at the
upper portion of the land, and subsequently was pulled down to the kaingin
owned by Federico Leglegen (sic). They saw traces of blood and scratches of
skin on the stone walls as the cow was pulled down near the mango tree (T.S.N.,
June 21, 1994, pp. 17-18).1 Rollo,
Petitioners, on the other
hand, had only alibis for their defense. However, both the trial court and the
respondent court found them to be weak and unsubstantiated. As against the
positive identification by a credible witness that the accused committed the
crime, the defense of alibi must fail.
Anent the second issue,
petitioners alleged that there was actually no taking of the cows as they were
left in the place where they were found. The cows were merely killed and were
not taken away. In fact, Gao-ay's cow was still alive, although writhing in
pain, when it was found the next morning.
We find no merit in this
contention. The respondent court correctly ruled that:
x x x Cattle
rustling is the taking away by any means, methods or scheme, without
the consent of the owner/raiser, of any large cattle, like cow, carabao,
horse and the like, whether or not for profit or gain, or whether
committed with or without violence against, or intimidation of any
person or force upon things. It includes the killing of large cattle, or
taking its meat or hide without the consent of the owner/raiser.
Not only did appellants
hack to death CARLOS' cow but they also dragged and dumped it at Federico
Leglegen's (sic) hut and later took its meat. It was likewise proven that
BOTSING's cow was shot and fatally wounded. These acts of appellants, done
without the consent of both owners, fall within the definition of cattle
rustling.2 Id., at
Finding no reversible
error with the decision of the respondent court as they are in accord with the
law and evidence on record, the Court Resolved to DENY the petition for lack of merit.
Very truly yours,
(Sgd.) VIRGINIA ANCHETA-SORIANO
Clerk of Court