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123 Phil. 1111

[ No. L-15631, May 27, 2014 ]



Appellant Hermoso Sina-on .appeals from the decision of the Court of First Instance of Iloilo (in Crim. Case No. 7077) convicting him of the crime of robbery with homicide and physical injuries, and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to indemnify the heirs of the deceased Rogelio Gregory in the sum of P6.000.00 and Marcos Isogan in the sum of P130.90, without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to pay the costs.

The evidence for the prosecution discloses that on the night of July 18, 1958, at around 7 o'clock, four malefactors (three of them armed with a carbine and locally-made revolvers) broke into the house of Manuel Isogan at barrio Tacas, Jaro, Iloilo. The three armed men passed through" the balcony, while the fourth one entered through the kitchen. After entering the house, they immediately ordered its occupants (Manuel Isogan, the latter's sons and daughter, Juan, Marcos, and Felisa Isogan, Rogelio Gregory, Bonifacio Galas, and Severino Robles) not to move and to lie down on the floor in one corner of the house. The one who was armed with a carbine (Exh. E), who turned out to be Jose Solatorio, then approached Manuel and, pointing his carbine at the latter, asked for money. Manuel told him he had no money, for which reason, Solatorio kicked him. Realizing his dangerous situation, Manuel told Solatorio to wait and thereupon drew his money (a total of P33.00) from his short pants' pocket. Solatorio demanded for more, but Manuel told him it was all he had. While Manuel was handing the money to Solatorio, appellant herein entered through the kitchen and immediately snatched the money and put it in his pocket. Appellant then took hold of Felisa and dragged her to the balcony. With the help of his two companions, appellant removed Felisa's pedal-pusher (Exh. F)[1] despite her resistance and touched her private parts. When they tried to abuse her, Felisa did her utmost to escape and when she succeeded in doing so, she ran to her father and told him she could no longer endure the abuses of the intruders. Upon hearing Felisa's complaint, her father (Manuel Isogan) immediately told his sons Juan and Marcos to get up and fight them. Thereupon, Juan and Marcos, who until then were lying on the floor, stood up and started to fight the intruders. While fighting with Solatorio, Marcos was shot and wounded in the left arm (Exh. C) by Solatorio with his carbine (Exh. E). With three more discharges from his carbine, Solatorio was able to hit and wound Rogelio Gregory in the stomach (Exh. A). Bonifacio Galas was also hit and wounded in the left cheek and left shoulder (Exh. D). Despite being wounded, Marcos Isogan succeeded in disarming Solatorio. Moments later, while Marcos was being strangled by Solatorio, he called his brother Juan and, when the latter came to his succor, Solatorio started to run away and jumped down from the house. His three companions, including herein appellant, also escaped and fled with him. Marcos then handed the carbine (Exh. E) he grabbed from Solatorio to Juan, and the latter immediately went down and ran after the robbers. Solatorio, who ran against a wire line (for drying clothes), fell down and was overtaken by Juan. As Solatorio tried to make use of a locally-made revolver (Exh. G), Juan hit him with the butt (Exh. E-l) of the carbine, which got broken due to the impact. Upon seeing that Solatorio had also a bolo, Juan took it away from him and stabbed him with it, killing him (Solatorio).

Juan then went back for his brother Marcos, placed him on the back of a carabao, and took him to the Pepsi-Cola office, a short distance from his father's house. Rogelio Gregory and Bonifacio Galas were also taken to the same office. Juan then reported the incident to the police. Upon receipt of the information, policemen were sent to the Pepsi-Cola office and with them also went Fiscal Cesar J. Orleans. Marcos Isogan, Rogelio Gregory, and Bonifacio Galas were then brought to the Mission Hospital. The police found the dead body of Solatorio under the balcony of Manuel Isogan's house, with a revolver (Exh. G) nearby, as well as a pistol (Exh. H) on the floor of the house. They also found the butt (Exh. E-l) of the carbine (Exh. E), the magazine (Exh. E-2), and the bullets (Exhs- E-3 to E-13). Inside the house, they found Felisa's pedal-pusher (Exh. F). The buttless carbine (Exh. E) was delivered by Juan Isogan to the policemen while they were at the Pepsi Cola office.

Dr. Roberto Damicop performed an emergency operation on Rogelio Gregory who, nevertheless, died two days later (on July 20, 1958). The cause of death was attributed to shock and loss of blood, resulting from the gunshot wounds. The doctor testified that Rogelio suffered a punctured wound (1 cm. in diameter) near the umbilical area penetrating the abdomen through and through, a wound (1-½ cm. in diameter) at the left lumbar side with omentum coming out, and a punctured wound through and through along the left elbow joint with swelling, a hematoma and a wide rent of the omentum inside the abdomen, a wound inside the abdomen, and a lacerated wound at the serosa of the greater curvature of the stomach. There was a massive amount of fresh and clotted blood in the peritorial cavity (See Exh. A). The punctured wound near the umbilical cord area was produced by a bullet fired from a gun.

Dr. Teodoro Centeno, medical officer at the lloilo City Health Department, who treated Marcos Isogan found a gunshot wound with a point of entrance on the right arm and a point of exit near the spinal column. The wound was possibly caused by a carbine according to him. Marcos was treated at the Mission Hospital for about 15 days. After his discharge therefrom, he had to return to the hospital for dressing of his wounds. He spent about P130.90 as medical expenses.

Dr. Cresencio Dominado, City Health Officer of lloilo City examined Bonifacio Galas on July 28, 1958 and found a newly healed lacerated wound at the left side of the chin with stitches removed, healed multiple abrasions at the left side of the face, and a newly-lacerated wound at the left shoulder with stitches removed. According to him, the injuries could have been caused by a blunt instrument with a rough surface.

Just a few days after the occurrence of the crime, tha police received information to the effect that herein appellant was one of the four malefactors who raided the house of Manuel Isogan on that night of July 18, 1958. Appellant was arrested on July 25, 1959 in his grandmother's house in Zarraga, lloilo. When brought on a jeep to barrio Pavia, Jaro, lloilo where Manuel Isogan had moved his residence due to the aforesaid incident, he (appellant) was immediately identified from among five persons in the jeep by Juan and Felisa Isogan as one of the four malefactors who broke into their house at barrio Tacas, Jaro, Iloilo on the night of July 18, 1958, and the one who passed through the kitchen, grabbed the amount of P33.00 from the hands of Manuel Isogan while the latter was handing it to Solatorio, and who dragged Felisa to the balcony and tried to abuse her after removing her pedal-pusher.

Appellant's defense is alibi. He declared that on the afternoon of July 18, 1958 at around 5:30 o'clock, he went to the store of Ramon Supersticioso to deliver tuba at Zar-raga, Iloilo, about 13 kilometers away from barrio Tacas, Jaro, Iloilo (scene of the crime). As Ramon's wife was away, he stayed to help him (Ramon) sell tuba until 8:00 p.m. He left the store thereafter with Roman Silvela and Emilio Pinela and went to the house of his grandmother (Marciana Sinaon) at Zarraga, Upon arriving thereat, he took his supper and then slept at around 8:30 p.m. His mother (Rosita Subere de Sinaon), grandmother, and younger brothers and sisters also slept in the house. At around 5:40 a.m., on July 19, 1958, he was awakened by his mother to look for a lost carabao. He never left barrio Zarraga from July 18 to 25, 1958.

To corroborate his alibi, appellant presented Ramon Su-persticioso, Roman Silvela, and Rosita Subere de Sinaon (his mother) as witnesses:

Ramon Superstieioso testified that appellant was at his store at 5:30 p.m. on July 18, 1958 and delivered tuba for sale thereat; that appellant had been supplying him with tuba since May 1, 1958; that appellant stayed in his store until 8:00 p.m.; and that he requested appellant to stay with him up to said time so he could help him sell tuba, as his sister-in-law did not arrive.

Roman Silvela stated he went to Ramon Supersticioso's store at Zarraga at around 6:00 p.m. on July 18, 1958 and saw appellant thereat helping him (Ramon) sell tuba; that he went home with appellant at past 8 :00 p.m. on said date; and that he used to drink tuba at Ramon's store every afternoon.

Rosita Subere de Sinaon (mother of herein appellant) declared that on July 18, 1958 in the afternoon, appellant went to barrio Cunaynay and got tuba and delivered the same to Ramon Supersticioso at Zarraga that afternoon; that appellant had been supplying Ramon tuba since May 1, 1958; that she was in the house of her mother (Marciana Sinaon) at Zarraga on said date; that appellant arrived from Ramon's store at around 8:00 p.m. on July 18, 1958; that upon arrival, appellant took his supper and slept at around 8:30 p.m.; that when she woke up at around 4:00 a.m. on July 19, 1958, appellant was still sleeping; that she woke appellant up and told him to graze the carabao; that after grazing the carabao, appellant took his breakfast; and that thereafter, appellant plowed the land they had leased from somebody.

Appellant's alibi is weak and unconvincing. We fully agree with and adopt the trial court's finding on this point, to wit: 

"Aunque tal defensa ha sido corroborada por los testigos que deelararon a su favor, a saber: Ramon Supersticioso, Ramon Si 1 vela y Rosita Sinaon, la misma no puede prevalecer sob re el testimcnio de Juan Iscgan, Marcos Isogan y Felisa Isogan que pudieron presenciar al suceso de autos y tuvieron oportunidad de ver y fijarse de los malhechoros o de algunas de ellos. 

"Aun admitiendo que el acusado se fue a la tienda de Ramon Supersticioso en la tarde del 18 de julio de 1958, el Juzgado no puede convereerse que aquel tuvo que quedarse en dicha t'ienda para, ayudar a Ramon Supersticioso en atenderla no habiendo pruebas en los autos do que la tienda era tan grande que requiria la ayuda de un extraiio para majejarla. 

"La testigo Rosita Sinaon, por ser madre del acusado, es natural-mente parcial a favor de su hijo. 

"Ademas, Juan Iscgan, Marcos Isogan y Felisa Isogan apuntaron e identificaron al acusado, como uno de los malclioheros que su-bieron a la casa dc su padre en la noche del 18 de julio de 11158; fue el mismo que entro en la casa, pasando nor la cocina; fue el que arrebato de manos de Manuel Isogan la suma de P33.00 que estaba entregando, contra su voluntad, a Jose Solatorio; fue el mismo que arrastro a FeHsa Isogan al balcon con la ayuda de dos los malhcchores; y fue el mismo que trato (to abusar de Felisa Isogan despues de quitarle su pantalon puesto (Exh. F) iisi como su camisa y calzonciilo. 

"Indudablamente, Felisa Isogan tuvo oportunidad de estar en condiciones de ver y fijarse del acusado que estuvo bastante tiempo con ella, quit'andole su pantalon (Exh. F), camisa y cilzoncillo. Ella tenia motivo para podcr identificar al que babia tratado de abusar de eila. Y tanto ella como sus hermanos, al ver al acusado en compania de algnnos secretas cerca de la casa de su padre en un barrio dB I'avia, Iloilo, domle traslado su residencia como resultado del incidento de la noche del 18 de Julio de 1958, inmediatamente le a'puntaron como uno de los cuatro mat-hechores que subieron a la casa de su padre en al noche de autos. 

"Segun propia admision del acusado, el y Jose Solatorio, uno de los cuatro malhechores, no solamente eran conocidos sino que eran amigos. 

'Aunque el acusado estitvo en la ticiula de Ramon Superstictoso en la poblarion de Zarraga, Iloilo, en la tarde del 18 de julio 1958, esto no quiere necesariaviente decvr que el no puso haben*. estadfy en la, casa de Manuel Isogan en el barrio de Tacas, Jaro, Iloikt, en la noohe de aquel dia no ha-biendo mas que unn dis-^ tancia d0 13 kilometros entre Jivro y Zarraga, ambos de Iloilo, y hay muciios vehiculos de miotor que hacen viajes de Jaro a Zarraga, y vice versa. 

"Se admite que, al ser investigados despues de la noche de utos y antes del arrcsto del acusado, los hermanos Isogan (Juan, Marcos y Felisa), incluyendo su padre Manuel, no pudieron nien-cionar los nombres de los cuat'ro malhechores, incluyendo el acusado, pero no debe de vista que, como custion de hecho, los hermanos Isogan (Juan, Marcos y Felisa), incluyendo su padre, no conocian, ni han visto al acusado antes de la noche de autos. Naturalmente mal podian haberle apuntado a identi-ficado antes de su avresto. 

'Hay un detaHe importantisimo que decididamente ha echado abajo la defensa de coartada del acusado—el testimonio de Manuel Isogan que inesperadamente fue presentado como testigo de la defensa. Este testigo claramente dijo, contestando las preguntas del Juzgado, que el acusado es el que entto en su casa en la noche de autos, pasando por la cocina. Al arrebatar el dinero de el, este testigo pudo fijarst; del acusado. 1 malhecbor que paso por la cocina fue el mismo que arrastro a Fclisa Iso-pan al balcon con el proposito de a-busar de ella." (Decision, pp. 6-9); italics supplied.)

The appeal, therefore, raises no issues of law, but involves merely the credibility of the various witnesses. Time and again, we have held that as a rule where the issue is one of credibility of witnesses, appellate courts will not generally disturb the findings of the trial court, considering that it is in a better position to decide the question, having seen and heard the witnesses themselves and observed their deportment and manner of testifying during the trial, unless there is a showing that it has overlooked certain facts of substance and value that, if considered, might affect the result of the case.[2] The trial court, in the case at bar, has made a complete analysis of the testimonies of the prosecution and defense witnesses, which we find amply supported by the evidence on record.

In the circumstances, we find appellant guilty of the crime of robbery with homicide and physical injuries aggravated by the circumstances of nocturnity (the crime having been committed at 7:00 p.m. and it is obvious that the malefactors which include herein appellant chose this time to take advantage of the darkness to facilitate its execution) and dwelling[3] and superior strength, without any mitigating circumstance to offset them. Consequently, the penalty for the crime of robbery with homicide should be imposed in the maximum period, namely, death. However, due to lack of the required number of votes, the penalty next lower in degree is imposed on appellant, which is reclusion perpetua.

Wherefore, the judgment of the trial court is hereby affirmed, with costs against the appellant. So ordered.

Bengzon, C. J., Conception, Reyes, J. B. L., Dizov, Regala, MakaUntal, Bengzon, J. P., Zaldivar and Sanchez, JJ., concur.

Judgment affirmed.

[1] Pedal pusher is another term for a lady's long pants or torero jeans. 

[2] See People vs. Alban, G. R. No. L-15203, March 29, 1961, citing People vs. Berganio, et al., 110 Phil., 322; People vs. Binsol, et al., G. R. No. 1^-8349, January 22, 1957.

[3] U.S. vs. Turla, 38 Phil., 346; U.S. vs. Baluyot, 40 Phil. 89; People vs. Sebastion, 47 Off. Gaz., 4151.

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