Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence


Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence > Year 1922 > March 1922 Decisions > G.R. No. L-17283 March 7, 1922 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. ISLANDS v. SIXTO HERNANDEZ

043 Phil 104:




PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

EN BANC

[G.R. No. L-17288. March 7, 1922. ]

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. SIXTO HERNANDEZ, Defendant-Appellant.

J. E. Blanco for Appellant.

Acting Attorney-General Tuason for Appellee.

SYLLABUS


1. CRIMINAL LAW; TWO OFFENSES RESULTING FROM ONE ACT; APPLICATION OF PENALTY APPROPRIATE TO GRAVER CRIME. — Where a complaint sufficiently charges facts which constitute two distinct offenses resulting from the same act, as where a fatal assault is made upon an agent of authority — constituting both homicide under article 404 of the Penal Code and assault (atentado) under article 249 of the same Code — the penalty appropriate to the graver offense must be imposed in its maximum degree; and where such maximum is divisible due account should be taken of the presence or absence of aggravating or attenuating circumstances in applying the penalty within the proper limits.

2. ID.; ATTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCE; BLIND AND UNCONTROLLABLE FURY. — That the offense was committed under an impulse so powerful as to have produced a state of blind and uncontrollable fury (arrebato y obcecacion) cannot properly be estimated in a case where the impulse under which the accused is supposed to have acted was generated in a spirit of lawlessness and deliberately fomented by him over a considerable period of time.


D E C I S I O N


STREET, J. :


This appeal has been brought to reverse a judgment of the Court of First Instance of the Province of Laguna, finding the accused, Sixto Hernandez, guilty of the offense of homicide, committed on the person of Eugenio Quiatchon, and sentencing him to undergo imprisonment for fourteen years, eight months and one day, reclusion temporal, with the accessories provided by law, to indemnify the heirs of the person slain in the amount of P1,000, and to pay the costs.

It appears that for many years prior to April 9, 1920, the date upon which this homicide was committed, the accused, Sixto Hernandez, had been asserting ownership over a coconut grove located in the barrio of San Diego, municipality of San Pablo, Province of Laguna, during which period he had been fighting a losing battle in the courts with respect thereto. At one time he had been prosecuted for stealing coconuts from the grove, but was acquitted because the title was in dispute. He claims, however, to have recovered his position in that matter by the assistance of another attorney, and through a writ of certiorari from the Supreme Court. In a still later civil proceeding against him and another with respect to the same property, he claims to have fallen a victim to the chicanery of a third lawyer, who on his complaint was suspended in the exercise of his profession for malpractice in connection with that matter. Lastly, he had been impleaded in a civil action by Florencia Amuran, and at her instance an injunction had been issued by the Court of First Instance, restraining him from molesting or obstructing her in the exercise of the rights of ownership and possession over said property. As a result of these events the accused found himself in reduced circumstances, soured of temper, and rebellious against the mandate of the court.

In the first days of April, 1920, one Avelino de Guzman, who had charge of the coconut grove in behalf of Florencia Amuran, made arrangements with a coconut buyer, named Marto Encarnacion, to gather the coconuts then ready to be taken from the grove. The disaffected state of mind of Sixto Hernandez was of course known, and in view of rumors that he would resist attempts on the part of Florencia Amuran, or those claiming under her, to collect the coconuts from this grove, Avelino de Guzman, as a precautionary measure, requested the authorities of San Pablo to allow a policeman to go along with the workers. This request was acceded to, and accordingly on the morning of April 9, 1920, a policeman, Eugenio Quiatchon by name, was detailed for this duty; and at about 9 or 10 a. m., Marto Encarnacion accompanied by the policeman, Eugenio Quiatchon, and four workmen, arrived at the grove. Avelino de Guzman himself had come out in his automobile to be present at the inception of the work, but he was detained on the way and directed Marto Encarnacion to go ahead to the grove and begin work.

When the party, accompanied by Quiatchon, arrived at the grove, no person was at first seen on the ground; but as the six defiled singly into the grove, with Marto Encarnacion in the lead, Sixto Hernandez, with bolo in hand, suddenly sprang from behind a coconut tree which stood a few paces to the left of the line of march and near the bank of a stream which touches upon or runs through the grove. Upon seeing Sixto Hernandez approaching directly in a menacing attitude, Marto Encarnacion paused and receded a step or two, and Quiatchon, continuing to advance, was thus brought into a position where he confronted Sixto Hernandez, who immediately assaulted Quiatchon with his bolo. The latter, being wholly unarmed, was unable to make effective resistance, and was immediately felled to the ground by an oblique stroke which cut into the left side of the skull.

As Quiatchon collapsed at the accused turned towards Marto Encarnacion, but the latter receded; and as the accused is somewhat lame, he saw that he would be unable to come up with Encarnacion. He therefore returned to the spot where Quiatchon was now struggling to get up, and with a second stroke of the bolo cut a deep gash into Quiatchon’s face.

Meanwhile the other members of the party had retreated; and when the accused departed, Quiatchon remained alone on the spot. Both of the wounds received by him were of a mortal nature, especially the second, which, severing arteries of considerable size, caused a profuse flow of blood. Nevertheless, the injured man got up again and with rapidly weakening powers contrived to walk to an adjacent lot of ground about a hundred meters away, where he succumbed, and where his body was found when Avelino de Guzman shortly thereafter arrived on the spot with assistance.

The deceased was a policeman of the type that disdains to go heavily armed in the discharge of ordinary police duty; and upon this occasion he did not take the precaution to arm himself with a revolver because he did not believe that Sixto Hernandez would make forcible resistance. This conjecture was the more readily entertained for the reason that it was known that the coconuts had already been taken from this grove on one occasion by Avelino de Guzman without serious opposition from Hernandez.

The deceased wore upon this occasion the cap and uniform appropriate for a policeman, and he was recognized to be such by the accused at the time he was slain.

In the deed above described the accused incurred criminal responsibility for the complex offense of homicide, under article 404 of the Penal Code, accompanied by assault upon an agent of authority, under article 249 of the same Code. For this offense the penalty for the more serious of these two crimes, which is that of homicide, must be imposed in its maximum degree, as directed in the second paragraph of article 89 of the Penal Code.

It will be noted that the complaint in this case 1 charges all the elements constitutive of both the homicide — which is included in the charge of murder, — and the assault, since, in addition to the facts relative to the homicide, said complaint expressly charges that, at the time the homicide was committed, Eugenio Quiatchon wore the uniform and carried the insignia of a policeman, and was acting in compliance with a duty to protect from aggression the individuals whom he was accompanying.

It is therefore proper in applying the law to the facts of this case, to take into account not only the homicide but the assault, as has been repeatedly done in similar cases by the Supreme Court of these Islands, as well as the Supreme Court of Spain.

In United States v. Abijan (1 Phil., 83), it appeared that the accused had attacked and slain the vice-president of the municipality upon an occasion when the vice-president had ordered the arrest of the accused for infraction of an order relative to the placing of lights. It was held that the accused was guilty of the compound crime to assault upon an agent of the Government, under article 249 of the Penal Code, and homicide under article 404 of the same Code; and the penalty appropriate to the crime of homicide was applied in its maximum degree, in accordance with article 89.

The case of United States v. Montiel (9 Phil., 162), exhibits an application of the same doctrine. It there appeared that the accused had assaulted a justice of the peace at a time when said officer was discharging the functions of his office, and had thereby inflicted upon said officer serious physical injuries (lesiones graves). The assailant was prosecuted upon a complaint charging frustrated murder and attempt against the authorities, upon which complaint for the offense of lesiones graves, inasmuch as the first complaint had sufficiently charged both assault and lesiones graves, and the accused should have been sentenced for the complex offense in the first prosecution. He had already been in jeopardy for the second offense.

Other decisions of this court involving the application of article 89 of the Penal Code to the situation where a single act constitutes two distinct crimes, or one of the offenses is a necessary means for committing the other, are these: For murder and assault upon a provincial governor, United States v. Baluyot (40 Phil., 385, 400); for discharging a firearm against a certain person and lesiones menos graves, United States v. Marasigan (11 Phil., 27); for usurpation of official functions and seduction, United States v. Hernandez (29 Phil., 109); for estafa by means of falsification of a document, United States v. Austero (14 Phil., 377); United States v. Llames (1 Phil., 130); United States v. De Castro and Aragon (18 Phil., 417); for rape and lesiones menos graves, United States v. Anday (34 Phil., 690).

The jurisprudence of the Supreme Court of Spain abounds in precedents to the same effect, of which it will suffice to cite two decisions only, namely: First. A husband in a fit of rage and with intent to kill discharges a pistol at his wife, who is pregnant, thereby producing an abortion and causing her death. He was sentenced to death under article 80 of the Spanish Penal Code — corresponding to 89 of our Penal Code — for the complex offense of murder and producing an abortion. Second. A person, lying in wait behind a door, springs upon and slays a clerk of court engaged in the discharge of his duties. Held, that he incurs responsibility for the two offenses of murder and assault upon an agent of authority and is liable to capital punishment. (Decision of November 20, 1894, No. 191; decision of March 29, 1895.)

The homicide committed in this case was not qualified by any circumstance adequate to raise it to the category of murder; for although the complaint charges that the offense was committed with evident premeditation, and the proof shows that the accused had made threats of resistance sufficient to admonish Avelino de Guzman that the assistance of a policeman was desirable, nevertheless there is no sufficient proof on which to found the conclusion that a cold and deliberate design to take life had been formed by the accused for any appreciable time prior to the commission of the deed. The complaint also charges that the offense was committed with alevosia; but this charge is not sustained, since the accused made practically a frontal attack upon a party several times outnumbering himself. It is true that he appears to have sprung from behind a tree, where he had been unobserved by those approaching, but the homicide was not committed from ambush, and the method of attack adopted by the accused did not contribute to insure the execution of the crime without risk to himself.

The question has been made whether an attenuating circumstance might not be found in the impulse of blind and uncontrollable fury (arrebato y obcecacion) under which the accused is supposed to have acted; and in this connection attention is called to the fact that a sense of resentment and perhaps of injustice was rankling in his heart from his discomfiture in the lawsuits about the land. But this cannot be taken into account as a mitigating circumstance, in view of the fact that whatever passion the accused entertained had been deliberately fomented by him over a considerable period of time. Moreover, the circumstance that he was under an injunction from the Court of First Instance to abstain form interference with Florencia Amuran in the exercise of the right of possession over this property shows that he was actuated more by a spirit of lawlessness and revenge than by any sudden impulse of natural and uncontrollable fury.

It results that no circumstance, either of an aggravating or mitigating nature, can be taken into account in estimating the offense; and the period of reclusion temporal to which the accused must be sentenced, under article 404, in relation with article 89 of the Penal Code, will be found by computing the medium grade of the maximum degree of said penalty, as is usual in such cases (U.S. v. Abijan, 1 Phil., 83; U.S. v. Marasigan, 11 Phil., 27), which gives a result of eighteen years, two months and twenty-one days.

The decision of the trial judge in convicting the accused of the offense of homicide must therefore be affirmed; but inasmuch as his Honor erred in failing to take account of the concurrence in the same act of the offense of assault upon an agent of authority, the penalty imposed must be modified by raising the period of imprisonment from fourteen years, eight months and one day to eighteen years, two months and twenty-one days of reclusion temporal; and as thus modified the sentence is affirmed. So ordered.

Araullo, C.J., Johnson, Avancena, Ostrand and Romualdez, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions


MALCOLM, J., with whom concur VILLAMOR and JOHNS, JJ., dissenting:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

The court, in my opinion, does violence both to law, constitutional and statutory, and to justice, inherent and real, when it convicts an accused person of the two crimes of homicide and assault against an agent of an authority, when the information charges but the one "delito de asesinato" (crime of murder), when the accused on arraignment pleaded to this information, when his defense was outlined to meet the charge of murder and not the charge of assault against an agent of an authority, and when neither the leaned trial judge who began his decision by saying, "El acusado en esta cause lo esta del delito de asesinato," (the defendant herein is charged with the crime of murder) nor the Attorney-General, much less the counsel for the accused, grasped the idea that the accused was standing trial for the crime of assault upon an agent of an authority as well as for the crime of murder. It is a universal rule that the accused is entitled to be apprised of the distinct charge made against him, in order that he may come fully prepared for his defense. (14 R. C. L., 171.) The proposition is so elementary that it is only required to set forth the exact provisions of our constitution and our Code of Criminal Procedure in order to understand it.

Paragraph 2 of section 3 of the Organic Act, in enumerating the rights of persons accused of crime, provides "that in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right . . . to demand the nature and cause of the accusation against him." Section 11 of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides that "A complaint or information must charge but one offense . . ." To my mind the information charges, and in fact could charge, but one offense, that of murder, without being bad for duplicity, and the accused in this case has not been informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him denominated an attempt against an agent of an authority.

In my opinion, the judgment finding the defendant and appellant guilty of the crime of homicide should be affirmed, unless in our discretion, the penalty be raised, conformable to the provisions of the Penal Code, to the maximum of the discretionary limit there provided, namely, seventeen years and four months of cadena temporal.

Endnotes:



1. NOTE BY THE EDITOR. — The complaint in this case is as follows: "The undersigned accuses Sixto Hernandez of the crime of murder committed as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"That on or about the 9th of April, 1920, in the barrio of San Diego, municipality of San Pablo, Province of Laguna, the municipal policeman of San Pablo, Laguna, named Eugenio Quiatchon, then wearing his uniform and insignia as such policeman, having gone in company with Marto Encarnacion and other persons who were to collect coconuts from a coconut grove situated in an uninhibited place of the aforesaid barrio of San Diego, the aforesaid policeman Eugenio Quiatchon having accompanied them in compliance with his duty, to wit, to assist and protect them against possible aggression, upon the entrance of the said policeman, Eugenio Quiatchon, and his companions into said grove, the accused, who was hidden and posted therein, did willfully, feloniously, maliciously, with premeditation and treachery rush upon, and attack, the aforesaid policeman with a bolo then borne by him, striking him twice, thereby inflicting two bolo wounds, one on the left side of the skull, which penetrated the scalp, the parietal and frontal bones, the cortex of the brain and the brain itself; and the other extending from the face to the left lateral suprahyoid region and the superior part of the carotid region and penetrating through the skin, muscles, nerves and vessels of the said regions, as well as the lower edge of the inferior maxillary down to the cervical column — from which wounds said policeman Eugenio Quiatchon died.

"All contrary to law and with the aggravating circumstances of evident premeditation and treachery, and of the act having been committed in an uninhibited place."




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