Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence


Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence > Year 1966 > January 1966 Decisions > G.R. No. L-18997 January 31, 1966 PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. BAUTIL PEDRO, ET AL.:




PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

EN BANC

[G.R. No. L-18997. January 31, 1966.]

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. BAUTIL PEDRO, ET AL., Defendants-Appellants.

R. T. Marijoa for the defendants and appellants.

Solicitor General for the plaintiff and appellee.


SYLLABUS


1. EVIDENCE; ALIBIS SUFFICIENTLY OVERCOME BY UNDISPUTED EVIDENCE TO THE CONTRARY. — The alibis put up by the accused appear not only weak in the face of the surrounding circumstances but sufficiently overcome by undisputed evidence to the contrary. They cannot, therefore, be entertained.

2. ID.; AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCES TO BE CONSIDERED IN APPLYING PENALTY. — The commission of the crime was attended by several aggravating circumstances one of them being that it was committed by a band it appearing that the four accused were all armed with guns. Another circumstance is treachery because of the sudden and unexpected attack made by the accused upon their victims resulting in the death of one and in injuring another. They were fired at when they were riding on a truck on their way to their farm. Another circumstance is that of having the crime been committed in an uninhabited place because it appears that the scene of the crime was four or five kilometers from the national highway and around the place there were merely uninhabited small huts for drying copra during rainy days. The lower court, therefore, did not err in considering the abovementioned aggravating circumstances in applying the appropriate penalty to the accused.

3. ID.; CONSPIRACY, LACK OF AGREEMENT TO COMMIT THE CRIME. — It is true that there is no such agreement or direct conspiracy to commit the crime, but such is not necessary in order that conspiracy may be considered it being sufficient that it may be inferred from the circumstances surrounding the commission of the crime. Here all the appellants went to the scene of the crime and Bautil Pedro fired the shots, his co-defendants, armed with guns, stood at both sides of the truck and demanded and received money from the robbery victim. This concerted action on their part proves conspiracy which makes them equally liable for the same crime.

4. ID.; PENALTY; MINORITY SHOULD BE CONSIDERED IN THE APPLICATION OF PENALTY. — However, the trial court erred in not taking into account the circumstance of minority in favor of accused Panontongan Amua who was only 16 years old at the time of the trial and Pantaran Macatamok who was only 15 years old on the same occasion. And so this mitigating circumstance should be considered in their favor in the application of the penalty to be imposed upon them.


D E C I S I O N


PER CURIAM:



Before the Court of First Instance of Lanao, Bautil Pedro, Dimaaring Dimapinto, Florentino Cababa, Pantaran Macatamok and Panontongan Amua were accused of robbery with homicide and frustrated homicide in a consolidated information to which all of them pleaded not guilty. However, after the prosecution had rested its case, the case was dismissed as to Dimaaring Dimapinto upon his own motion for lack of sufficient evidence. The other four accused, after trial, were convicted, the dispositive part of the decision reading as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Wherefore, all the accused herein BAUTIL PEDRO, FLORENTINO CABABA, PANONTONGAN AMUA and PANTARAN MACATAMOK are declared GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the charge of Robbery with Homicide and Frustrated Homicide penalized under Art. 294, par. 1 of the Revised Penal Code which is reclusion perpetua to death, with four (4) aggravating circumstances present, namely: (a) treachery, (b) evident premeditation, (c) in band, and in an (d) uninhabited place, without any mitigating circumstance attendant thereto. Each of the accused, BAUTIL PEDRO, FLORENTINO CABABA, PANONTONGAN AMUA and PANTARAN MACATAMOK is hereby sentenced to the maximum penalty which is DEATH, and is further sentenced to indemnify the heirs of Emiliano Momo jointly and severally in the amount of P6,000.00, plus P1,940.00 subject of robbery to be paid to Agapito Tan, alias Dina, and to pay each the proportional costs of this suit.

"The weapons used in the commission of the crime are ordered confiscated in favor of the government."cralaw virtua1aw library

The case is now before us for review in view of the penalty imposed upon appellants.

In the morning of February 27, 1956, at about seven o’clock, spouses Francisca de Momo, Emiliano Momo, Agapito Tan, Lolita Montefalcon, with some other persons, left their place at Kauswagan, Lanao, to go to their farm in Tacub in the same municipality. They rode on a cargo truck driven by Pedro Mercado, their purpose being to sell their copra to Agapito Tan, alias Dina, who was a purchasing agent of Kim San & Co.

On their way to the farm they met Bautil Pedro who then and there stopped the truck and boarded it. Before reaching the farm the truck got stuck in the mud. While the driver was placing a chain in the rear wheel to extricate the truck from the mud, Bautil Pedro walked ahead. After the truck was taken from the mud the group proceeded to the farm where the copra was weighed, placed in sacks, and loaded in the truck.

On their way home, Francisca de Momo sat on the left side of driver Pedro Mercado while on his right side sat Agapito Tan, Lolita Montefalcon and Nenita Biligay. And on top of the cargo consisting of 30 sacks of copra sat Emiliano Momo, husband of Francisca Santos Montecillo, Cornelio Dora, Dominador Momo, Cesar Medico, and three laborers.

After negotiating about 250 meters from the farm the group was fired at close range with four successive shots. At the first shot driver Pedro Mercado was hit on the neck and fell down. Bautil Pedro was identified as the one who fired the shots while Florentino Cababa, Panontongan Amua and Pantaran Macatamok, who were armed with guns, stood at both sides of the truck. Lolita Montefalcon attempted to alight from the truck but Florentino Cababa ordered her not to do so or else she would be shot. Moments later, Lolita and her aunt Francisca went down the other side of the truck, crawled and hid themselves among the grass. Upon seeing Emiliano Momo wounded, Lolita and Francisca ran towards the poblacion and reported the incident to the authorities.

In the meantime, Agapito Tan was held up by the robbers. At gun point he gave them his P1,800.00 in cash, his Bulova wrist watch worth P140.00, and his record books and portfolio worth P7.00. Thereafter, the robbers ran away. Then Agapito Tan, with the help of his companions, picked the wounded driver, put him in the truck, and drove to Tacub. Here Tan hired another truck to which he transferred the wounded Emiliano Momo and Pedro Mercado and brought them to the Mindanao Sanitarium Hospital at Iligan City.

In the afternoon of the same day, February 27, 1956, at about one o’clock, upon receipt of a telephone call that there was a dying person in the Mindanao Sanitarium Hospital, Luis Villanueva, a policeman of Iligan City, immediately repaired to said hospital, and immediately upon his arrival he investigated Emiliano Momo who was on the brink of death. When asked who inflicted the injuries he sustained, Emiliano replied that he was shot by Moro Bautil and his companions.

Shortly thereafter, Leo Monsanto, the Chief of Police of Kauswagan, arrived and took over the investigation from Villanueva. The chief of police jotted down in the form of questions and answers the declaration of Emiliano in the presence of Villanueva and the relatives of the victim. Minutes after the last question was asked, the victim expired.

The medical examination issued by the attending physician, Dr. F. T. Geslani, discloses that the wound sustained by the victim is "gunshot wound right upper thigh; scrotum injury." According to Dr. Geslani, the cause of death was shock due to hemorrhage.

The driver Pedro Mercado survived the gunshot wound sustained by him, His attending physician, Dr. Catalino Chai Vizcara, described his wound as "gunshot wound right side of neck and mandible and incomplete fracture of right mandible."cralaw virtua1aw library

Bautil Pedro, in his defense, claims that at the time of the robbery he was in his house near the seashore of Tacub, Kauswagan. After his wife had prepared his food he went to upper Tacub to work on his land. On his way he met Dina who invited him to ride with him in the truck with some laborers. He accepted the invitation and when they were approaching the land of a certain Cadong Peña, the truck got stuck in the mud. He then alighted and told Dina he would just walk to his land about two kilometers ahead. Upon reaching the land he found there his tenants Cesario and Florentino Cababa. He instructed the Cababas to go to the river to get some lunch. After securing some shrimps and cooking them, they called Bautil for lunch at about noon. After lunch they rested, then resumed their work until four o’clock, when all went home.

When they reached the coconut plantation Bautil asked the Cababas tuba and afterwards they resumed walking. After walking about 20 brazas someone called them who turned out to be Barrio Lieutenant Dimalutang who was then accompanied by some soldiers who asked them if they heard shots to which they answered in the negative. After walking about a kilometer with the peace officers the lieutenant told Bautil to send the Cababas home. Then they took Bautil to the place where, according to the soldiers, the robbery took place. After going around the place three times they discovered blood spots on the ground and found two pairs of wooden shoes and a piece of copper 18 inches long. The soldiers noted down their findings and went home. He removed his shirt and went to a certain store but shortly thereafter the soldiers came back with a truck who asked him to accompany them to look for the Cababas for investigation. Bautil told Florentino Cababa that the chief of police wanted to investigate all of them so they were all brought to the municipal building for investigation.

While the Cababas remained downstairs, Bautil was brought upstairs of the municipal building where he was maltreated. Several parts of his body and face were hit. He fell down, and while on the floor, the soldiers stepped on him. He was later brought to jail. The following morning he was investigated by Chief of Police Monsanto and Sgt. Dirija. When Bautil refused to admit his participation in the crime he was slapped several times and was returned to jail. He could not remember having thumbmarked his so-called confession as he allegedly almost lost his senses due to maltreatment.

Florentino Cababas also set up the defense of alibi. He testified that he works in the farm of Bautil Pedro about four kilometers from his house in Tacub. At about 6:30 a. m. of February 27, 1956, he went to the mountain to work on the land of Bautil Pedro. He was then with his father Cesario. While working Bautil who was a "lagalaw" came and told Cesario to get fish from his trap in the river. At noon he went to the hut in the farm to eat lunch with his father and Bautil. After a short rest they resumed work until 4:00 o’clock p.m. Then they went home towards the shore. On nearing a coconut plantation a soldier, who was accompanied by Lieutenant Dimalutang, two policemen of Kauswagan and two PC soldiers, called them. The soldiers asked them if they heard shots to which they answered in the negative. They were asked to go with the peace officers and after walking a kilometer the soldiers brought Bautil with them while Florentino Cababa and his father took another route and went home. Later they received news that somebody was robbed in the mountain. Then about 7:00 p.m., Policeman Gimena came and told them that they were wanted by Chief of Police Monsanto for questioning. Having been asked if they heard shots they answered in the negative and so Chief Monsanto started to slap Florentino and a soldier boxed him on the right of the abdomen because of which he fell to the floor unconscious. After regaining consciousness he was again investigated and brought to Mountain Lapayan to look for the others but in vain. As he could not get the names of the robbers he was again maltreated by Chief of Police Monsanto and Sgt. Dirija and then he was put in jail. The following day Francisca Momo and Lolita Montefalcon were brought to the Office of the Chief of Police who told them to simply indicate Bautil Pedro and Florentino Cababa as the robbers because no other persons would be apprehended. In the evening he was taken out and brought to the second floor of the municipal building where Sgt. Dirija maltreated him. Then on March 2, 1956, he was induced to sign an affidavit which he did not read for he does not know how to read upon the promise that after signing he would be released. He did not notice that the affidavit was dated February 28, 1956.

Panontongan Amua put up also the defense of alibi and claims that on the date of the commission of the crime he was in Dansalan City looking for a land he could work on and stayed in the house of one Lucman Macapondag. He testified that on a certain Thursday he was in Dansalan City upon instruction of Pandoma Macapondag, who told him to take a note to Abulais Macapondag. Abulais was not in his house so he gave the note to his wife who, after reading it, told him to look for the brother of Abulais whose name was Lucman. He went to the latter’s house in Dansalan and gave him the note. He was told to stay in Lucman’s house to wait for Abulais. He stayed there up to Wednesday and Thursday inclusive. When Abulais arrived in the afternoon Panontongan went to see him and in effect he met Abulais who prepared an agreement. In short he stayed seven days in Dansalan for that purpose and after the execution of said agreement he went home on Friday evening. Upon arrival he was informed of the robbery in Tacub when he was still in his house in Nunang. Then the Mayor of Pantaoragat came and asked him if he was with the robbers and he answered that it could not be possible because at that time he was in Dansalan, but the mayor insisted in taking him to Camp Keithley where he was questioned and investigated regarding the robbery in Tacub and because of his refusal to admit his participation he was maltreated by several soldiers. On the third day of his confinement after maltreatment, the soldiers forced him to affix his thumbmark on a document he knew nothing of.

Pantaran Makatamok on his part claims that he was living with his brother in Nunang, Pantaoragat, Lanao. He testified that on February 27, 1956, he started at about 7:00 a.m. for Lapayan to sell rice. On his way he was accosted by one Macasiro, a Moro outlaw, who was accompanied by four men he did not know. He was forced to go with them and fearful of his life he went with them. They proceeded to a coconut plantation arriving there at about eleven o’clock. They stopped there upon orders of Macasiro to wait for a truck. Macasiro left with his men leaving him behind guarded by one of Macasiro’s men. Not long afterwards they heard the noise of the truck, the sound of gun shots and some shouts. After a while Macasiro appeared with his companions but later on he told them to run and escape to the mountains. Afterwards he was turned loose and so he went home. After a month, the mayor of Arayat came to see him and told him that there was a complaint against him. He was brought to Dansalan where he was put in jail. The next morning he was maltreated by the soldiers and after narrating his story he was forced to thumbmark his declaration.

The alibi of Bautil Pedro merits no weight in the face of the overwhelming incriminating evidence against him which was all given credence by the court a quo. In the first place, his alibi is contradicted by his own affidavit wherein he admitted having been with four Moros in robbing the truck of Dina. This affidavit was thumbmarked by him before the Municipal Mayor of Kauswagan, Teodolfo Maslog, who identified the same and testified that every question and answer appearing therein was translated to the affiant before he affixed his thumbmark. The PC soldiers who investigated Bautil also denied having employed force or violence on him in order to force him to confess. The injury apparently sustained by Bautil was evidently self-inflicted for, as testified to by Policemen Melquiades Arellano, Bautil tried to cut his neck with an empty can of sardines and bumped his head against the wall of the jail. He even attempted to hurt himself by jumping from the ceiling of the jail to the floor and made trouble there by boxing the prisoners who were then his companions.

In the second place, he was identified as one of the holduppers who fired at them by Francisca Momo, Lolita Montefalcon and Dominador Momo, a fact which appears corroborated by Policeman Luis Villanueva who, after going to the Mindanao Sanitarium Hospital upon receipt of an information that there was there a dying man, investigated said dying man, who turned out to be Emiliano Momo, who told him before he expired that it was Bautil Pedro who shot him. And it was on this occasion when Chief of Police Monsanto took down in the form of questions and answers the dying declaration of Emiliano which, in a clear and manner, points to this accused as one of those who fired the shot that hit the victim. Such overwhelming evidence completely set at naught the claim of alibi of Bautil Pedro.

A similar situation obtains with regard to the defense of alibi of Francisco Cababa in the face of what he declared in the affidavit subscribed to by him before Justice of the peace Manuel Deaño. Of course, this accused also claims that he was maltreated and merely compelled to sign said affidavit because what appears therein is not true. This claim, however, stands sufficiently refuted by the testimony of the officers of the law who intervened in its preparation and who were found to be trustworthy by the court a quo. Indeed, such alleged maltreatment was denied by Justice of the Peace Deaño who as an officer of the court is presumed to have complied with his duty as he had no motive to prevent the truth. The same disavowal was made by Chief of Police Monsanto and Sgt. Dirija in whose favor also stands the presumption of regularity in the performance of their official duties. And the factor that upholds the proper behavior of these officers is that Lolita Montefalcon as well as Francisca Momo, both companions of the victim, pointed to this, Accused and his companions as the one who fired at them and killed the unfortunate victim.

We find likewise inadmissible the defense of alibi of Panontongan Amua for it stands clearly refuted by substantial evidence of the prosecution. Thus, we have his affidavit wherein he admitted his participation in the commission of the robbery on February 27, 1956 which was attested to by Municipal Judge Demetrio B. Benitez. This judge even said that before said affidavit was thumbmarked by this accused he read its contents and explained it to him and even interpreted the same in the dialect of the accused. Again, this accused was implicated by Lolita Montefalcon as one of those who fired at the truck and by Dominador Momo as one of those who pointed their guns at him and stripped Dina of his earthly possession. The testimony of this accused was not even corroborated by Lucman Macapondag where he claims to have stayed on the date of the robbery, nor by any member of the latter’s family.

And with regard to the accused Pantaran Macatamok, besides having been identified by Lolita Montefalcon and Dominador Momo as one of those who fired at them and demanded and stripped Dina of his money and possession, there exists a written declaration where he admitted his participation in the crime. His claim of maltreatment on the part of some soldiers of the constabulary was belied by officer Santiago Arsenio, Jr., whose credibility was upheld by the court a quo.

In short, the alibis put up by the accused appear not only weak in the face of the surrounding circumstances but sufficiently overcome by undisputed evidence to the contrary. They cannot, therefore, be entertained.

The commission of the crime was attended by several aggravating circumstances one of them being that it was committed by a band it appearing that the four accused were all armed with guns. Another circumstance is treachery because of the sudden and unexpected attack made by the accused upon their victims resulting in the death of one and injuring another. They were fired at when they were riding on a truck on their way to their farm. Another circumstance is that of having the crime been committed in an uninhabited place because it appears that the scene of the crime was four or five kilometers from the national highway and around the place there were merely uninhabited small huts for drying copra during rainy days. The lower court, therefore, did not err in considering the abovementioned aggravating circumstances in applying the appropriate penalty to the accused.

We cannot entertain the defense’ claim that the court a quo erred in finding all appellants guilty of the crime charged there being no evidence of an agreement or conspiracy, but such is not necessary in order that conspiracy may be considered it being sufficient that it may be inferred from the circumstances surrounding the commission of the crime. Here the common purpose or design on the part of the appellants to commit the crime is clearly inferred from the facts proven by the evidence. Thus, they show that all the appellants went to the scene of the crime and while Bautil Pedro fired the shots, his co- defendants, armed with guns, stood at both sides of the truck and demanded and received the money from Dina. This concerted action on their part proves conspiracy which makes them equally liable for the same crime.

We find, however, that the trial court erred in not taking into account the circumstance of minority in favor of accused Panontongan Amua who was only 16 years old at the time of the trial and Pantaran Macatamok who was only 15 years old on the same occasion. And so this mitigating circumstance should be considered in their favor in the application of the penalty to be imposed upon them.

The crime committed is robbery with homicide punishable under Article 294, No. 1, of the Revised Penal Code, in relation to Section 2 of Republic Act No. 12, approved on September 5, 1946. As Article 294 punishes robbery with homicide with reclusion perpetua to death, and Republic Act No. 12 provides that the felony having been committed by a band, in an uninhabited place and by attacking a vehicle, such penalty should be imposed in the maximum period, which is death. Insofar, therefore, as the penalty imposed upon Bautil Pedro and Florentino Cababa is concerned, we find it correct and should be affirmed.

However, as regards appellants Panontongan Amua and Pantaran Macatamok, who are entitled to the mitigating circumstance of minority, which circumstance lowers the penalty by one degree, they should be penalized with reclusion perpetua, which should be imposed in the medium degree. Applying the indeterminate Sentence Law, as amended, the two accused should be sentenced to an indeterminate penalty the minimum of which should be not less than 6 years and 1 day nor more than 12 years of prision mayor and the maximum not less than 17 years, 4 months and 1 day to 20 years of reclusion temporal.

With the modification as above indicated, we hereby affirm the decision of the trial court in all other respects, with costs against appellants.

Bengzon, C.J., Bautista Angelo, Concepcion, Reyes, J.B.L., Barrera, Dizon, Regala, Makalintal, Bengzon, J.P. and Zaldivar, JJ., concur.




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