PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. ROSARIA V. IGNACIO, Accused-Appellant.
D E C I S I O N
Rosaria V. Ignacio was accused of parricide before the Regional Trial Court of Rizal, Branch 76 (Criminal Case No. 1700),1 for fatally hitting her husband, Juan Ignacio, with a wooden club (palo-palo). The deceased was Rosaria's fourth husband. Juan died after having lived with Rosaria for two (2) years and seven (7) months.
On 19 February 1992, the following information was filed against accused Rosaria Ignacio:
"That on or about the 10th day of February 1992 in the Municipality of Rodriguez, Province of Rizal, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused with intent to kill and while armed with the wooden club (palo-palo) did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and hit her lawfully wedded husband Juan Ignacio, whereby inflicting upon the latter serious injuries which directly caused his death.
"Contrary to law."2chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Rosaria pleaded not guilty to the charge.3chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
The prosecution gave the following narration of its version of the incident.
Rosaria Ignacio, then 44 years of age, lived with her husband, Juan Ignacio, 67 years old, in a small two-storey house of sawali and cogon grass in Sampaguita Street, San Jose, Montalban (Rodriguez), Rizal. Residing with them was Rosaria's daughter, Milagros V. Cabanilla, by a previous marriage.
On the night of 09 February 1992, Rosaria and Juan had a heated
Milagros, entreated them to
stop but the couple were in no mood to heed her. The following night (10 February 1992), at dinner, Juan and
Rosaria had another quarrel.
grudgingly went upstairs and tried instead to put her child to sleep.
She could hear, after a brief moment, that
the fight had become somewhat violent (nagrarambulan).
Milagros peeped. She saw by the gas lamp (batutoy), that both were
pulling a piece of lawanit and each tried to take possession of
Juan ultimately released the lawanit
and turned to go for his bolo when Rosaria picked up a palo-palo
and hit Juan on the nape.4chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Rosaria left the straggling (kikisay-kisay) Juan and surrendered to the police at the municipal building. Rolando Ignacio, Juan's son by his former wife, was fishing in the San Jose river when he learned of the unfortunate incident. At the municipal hall in Montalban, Rizal, Rosaria voluntarily disclosed before Rolando and Pat. San Diego that she hit Juan with a wooden club.5 She repeated this statement at the Office of the Prosecutor in Marikina in the presence of Rolando.
Juan died the following day.6 His body underwent postmortem examination at the Francisco Memorial Homes in Montalban, Rizal, by Dr. Emmanuel Aranas of the PNP Crime Laboratory Service.7 Dr. Aranas found a contusion on the left occipital region, a lacerated wound on the right occipital area and an abrasion on the right elbow. The cause of death, per the autopsy report, was attributed to hemorrhage resulting from the traumatic injuries on the head.8 Dr. Aranas opined that the contusion and laceration on Juan's head, which fractured the bones of the skull,9 had badly affected the cranial cavity of the brain.
Testifying in her defense, Rosaria did not deny having inflicted the fatal wounds on her husband. According to her, between seven and eight o'clock in the evening of 10 February 1992, while she was resting on the wooden bed near the kitchen, after having returned home from her laundry work, her husband arrived. He was drunk. Armed with a bolo, he went around the wooden bed and then faced her. Exasperated, she finally stood up, pulled his hair, got hold of a palo-palo and hit him once on the head. The assault sent Juan hovering down the floor seriously wounded. Rosaria went to the municipal hall and surrendered to police officer San Diego.
No other witness was presented by the defense.
On 08 September 1992, the trial court rendered judgment convicting the accused and concluded:
considered, judgment is hereby rendered finding herein accused Rosaria V.
Ignacio guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Parricide as defined and
penalized under Art. 246 of the Revised Penal Code, and sentencing her to
suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, and to indemnify the heirs of
Juan Ignacio in the amount of
Rosaria has interposed this appeal praying that she be acquitted on the basis of self-defense or, in the alternative, that she be held guilty only of homicide rather than of parricide.
An accused who interposes self-defense admits the commission of
the act complained of.
The burden of
proving self-defense would now be on the accused who must show by strong, clear
and convincing evidence that the killing is justified and that, therefore, no
criminal liability has attached.11
The first paragraph of Article 11 of the Revised Penal Code requires, in a plea
of self-defense, (1) an unlawful aggression on the part of the victim, (2) a
reasonable necessity of the means employed by the accused to prevent or repel
it, and (3) the lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person
Unlawful aggression is a condition sine qua non for the justifying circumstance of self-defense. Without it, there can be no self-defense, whether complete or incomplete, that can validly be invoked.13 The importance of this requisite must remain underscored. In De Luna vs. Court of Appeals,14 the Court has explained:
"x x x.
We did repeatedly say before that, whether
complete or incomplete, self-defense, by its very nature and essence, always
would require the attendance of unlawful aggression initiated by the victim
which must clearly be shown. When unlawful aggression on the victim's part is
alone established, incomplete self-defense is so appreciated merely as an
ordinary mitigating circumstance under Article 13, paragraph 1, of the Code.
When such unlawful aggression is coupled with still another element of
self-defense, incomplete self-defense becomes a privileged mitigating
circumstance, referred to in Article 69 of the Revised Penal Code, that
entitles the accused to a reduction of the penalty imposed by law for the
felony by one or two degrees depending on the conditions and circumstances
The presence of the requisite of unlawful aggression is pivotal. In the case at bench, appellant has sought to prove unlawful aggression by her testimony; thus -
"Q. Please tell the court what was that unusual incident?
"A. That night, as I was taking a rest, my husband arrived and he was drunk. When I was on top of our wooden bed, I saw him armed with a bolo going around me, I lost my patience (nagdilim ang aking paningin), I got hold of a palo-palo and hit him on his head, sir.
"Q. And what was your relative position as compared to the position of the victim when you hit him with a palo-palo?
"A. He was facing me and I was on top of the wooden bed and as I was on top of it, I hit him, sir.
"x x x .
"Q. You also testified that prior to that incident, before you hit your husband with a palo-palo, he was armed with a bolo, is that correct?
"A. Yes, sir.
"Q. Where did he get that bolo, if you know?
"A. At the post, near the wooden bed, sir.
"Q. Are you aware as to the whereabouts of that bolo now?
"A. I do not know, sir."16chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
"x x x.
(F)or unlawful aggression to be appreciated,
there must be an actual, sudden, unexpected attack or imminent danger thereof,
and not merely a threatening or intimidating attitude (People v. Pasco,
Jr., supra; People v. Rey, 172 SCRA 149 ) and the accused
must present proof of positively strong act of real aggression (Pacificar v. Court of Appeals, 125 SCRA 716 ; People v. Aquiatan, 123 SCRA 501
; People v. Aquino, 124 SCRA 835 ). Unlawful aggression
must be such as to put in real peril the life or personal safety of the person
defending himself or of a relative sought to be defended and not an imagined
By her own admission, appellant only thought that her husband would strike her. Answering questions from the trial court, she testified:
"Q. Was he really about to strike you?
"A. Yes, sir.
"Q. What made you say that?
"A. Because even before, he was doing that to me, sir.
"Q. But at that very precise moment, were you really certain that he was going to hit you?
"A. I am sure that he will hit me, sir.
"Q. Was it necessary to hit him with this palo-palo?
"A. I hit him because I defended myself,
sir." (Italics supplied.)20chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
In fact, appellant's claim of self-defense was belied by her own daughter, Milagros, who declared that even before the victim could get his bolo, appellant already picked up her palo-palo and hit him.
"Q. You also made mention in your statement, particularly in question No. 6 to which you answered `nakarinig po ako ng kalabugan' what is that noise all about?
"A. Both of them were pulling the lawanit and as they were pulling the lawanit, Juan Ignacio then freed the lawanit and was about to get his bolo but my mother was able to get at once the palo-palo and hit Juan Ignacio, sir.
"x x x .
"Q. Mrs. Witness, you said during the cross-examination that the deceased tried to get a bolo, is that correct?
"A. Yes, sir.
"Q. And do you know where the deceased was keeping his bolo?
"A. Just opposite the place where they were sleeping, sir.
"Q. What was the position of Juan Ignacio when you saw him, as you said, he was getting a bolo?
"A. He stood up to get his bolo but he felt so
weak because he was drunk, sir." (Italics supplied.)21chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Self-defense, being essentially a factual matter furthermore, is best addressed by the trial court.22 Here, the trial court has also observed:
"Accused's claim of self-defense cannot be sustained. The bolo
which was allegedly in victim's possession and with which the victim allegedly
attempted to hit the accused, was never found, as in fact, admittedly, its
whereabouts [was] unknown to the accused (TSN, p. 4, July 29, 1992 hearing) who
naturally would have preserved the same and utilized it in evidence to
corroborate her claim. Under the circumstances, the existence of the bolo
particularly on the occasion alleged, is even doubtful."23chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Appellant contends that, if at all, she should be convicted only of homicide, not parricide, because "there was no clear evidence of marriage" between her and the victim.24 Article 246 of the Revised Penal Code defining and penalizing the crime of parricide provides:
"Any person who shall kill his father, mother, or child, whether legitimate or illegitimate, or any of his ascendants, or descendants, or his spouse, shall be guilty of parricide and shall be punished by the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death."
Indeed, the phrase "whether
legitimate or illegitimate" characterizes the relationship between the
accused and his victim who might be his father, mother, or child, but not the
"spouse" who obviously refers to either the legitimate husband or the
Here, appellant not only declared in court that the victim was
her fourth husband26
but she also swore that they were married before a judge in Montalban, Rizal.27
The victim's son testified that his father and appellant were husband and wife,28
in much the same way that appellant's daughter, Milagros, held the victim to be
her mother's husband.29
Appellant's own admission that she was married to the victim was a confirmation
of the semper praesumitur
matrimonio and the presumption that a man and a woman so
deporting themselves as husband and wife had verily entered into a lawful
contract of marriage.30chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
In People vs. Borromeo,31 the Court has said:
"Persons living together in apparent matrimony are presumed,
in the absence of any counter presumption or evidence special to the case, to
be in fact married. The reason is that such is the common order of society, and
if the parties were not what they thus hold themselves out as being, they would
be living in constant violation of decency and law (Son Cui vs. Guepangco, 22
Phil. 216). The presumption in favor of matrimony is one of the strongest known
in law. The law presumes morality, and not immorality; marriage, and not
concubinage; legitimacy, and not bastardy. There is the presumption that
persons living together as husband and wife are married to each other."32chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
In view of the presence of the mitigating circumstance of
voluntary surrender, the trial court correctly imposed upon appellant the
penalty of reclusion perpetua.33chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
WHEREFORE, the decision of the trial court finding
appellant Rosaria V. Ignacio guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
parricide and imposing upon her the penalty of reclusion perpetua
is AFFIRMED subject to the modification that the indemnity awarded to the heirs
of the victim, Juan Ignacio, is increased to Fifty Thousand Pesos (
Padilla, (Chairman), Bellosillo, Kapunan, and Hermosisima, Jr., JJ., concur.
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