515 Phil. 824
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
That on or about the 3rd day of May 1998, in the Municipality of Dasmariñas, Province of Cavite, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another, with intent to kill, with treachery and evident premeditation, did then and there, wilfully, unlawfully, and feloniously attack, assault and hit with a piece of hollow block, one RUBEN RODIL who thereby sustained a non-mortal injury on his head and on the different parts of his body, the accused thus commenced the commission of the felony directly by overt acts, but failed to perform all the acts of execution which would produce the crime of Murder by reason of some causes other than their own spontaneous desistance, that is, the said Ruben Rodil was able to ran (sic) away and the timely response of the policemen, to his damage and prejudice.Ruben Rodil testified that he used to work as a taxi driver. He stopped driving in April 1998 after a would-be rapist threatened his life. He was even given a citation as a Bayaning Pilipino by the television network ABS-CBN for saving the would-be victim. His wife eked out a living as a manicurist. They and their three children resided in Barangay San Isidro Labrador II, Dasmariñas, Cavite, near the house of Esmeraldo Rivera and his brothers Ismael and Edgardo.CONTRARY TO LAW.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, all the accused are found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt and are sentenced to an imprisonment of six (6) years and one (1) day to eight (8) years of prision mayor as the prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt the culpability of the accused. Likewise, the accused are to pay, jointly and severally, civil indemnity to the private complainant in the amount of P30,000.00.The trial court gave no credence to the collective testimonies of the accused and their witnesses. The accused appealed to the CA, which rendered judgment on June 8, 2004 affirming, with modification, the appealed decision. The dispositive portion of the CA decision reads:SO ORDERED.
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Imus, Cavite, Branch 90, is MODIFIED in that the appellants are convicted of ATTEMPTED MURDER and sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of 2 years of prision correccional as minimum to 6 years and 1 day of prision mayor as maximum. In all other respects, the decision appealed from is AFFIRMED.The accused, now petitioners, filed the instant petition for review on certiorari, alleging that the CA erred in affirming the RTC decision. They insist that the prosecution failed to prove that they had the intention to kill Ruben when they mauled and hit him with a hollow block. Petitioners aver that, based on the testimony of Dr. Cagingin, Ruben sustained only a superficial wound in the parietal area; hence, they should be held criminally liable for physical injuries only. Even if petitioners had the intent to kill Ruben, the prosecution failed to prove treachery; hence, they should be held guilty only of attempted homicide.
On the first assigned error, intent to kill may be deduced from the nature of the wound inflicted and the kind of weapon used. Intent to kill was established by victim Ruben Rodil in his testimony as follows:The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), for its part, asserts that the decision of the CA is correct, thus:
Q: And while you were being boxed by Esmeraldo and Bong, what happened next? A: When I was already lying [down] xxx, Dagol Rivera showed up with a piece of hollow block xxx and hit me thrice on the head, Sir. Q: And what about the two (2), what were they doing when you were hit with a hollow block by Dagol? A: I was already lying on the ground and they kept on boxing me while Dagol was hitting, Sir.
As earlier stated by Dr. Cagingin, appellants could have killed the victim had the hollow block directly hit his head, and had the police not promptly intervened so that the brothers scampered away. When a wound is not sufficient to cause death, but intent to kill is evident, the crime is attempted. Intent to kill was shown by the fact that the (3) brothers helped each other maul the defenseless victim, and even after he had already fallen to the ground; that one of them even picked up a cement hollow block and proceeded to hit the victim on the head with it three times; and that it was only the arrival of the policemen that made the appellants desist from their concerted act of trying to kill Ruben Rodil.
The evidence and testimonies of the prosecution witnesses defeat the presumption of innocence raised by petitioners. The crime has been clearly established with petitioners as the perpetrators. Their intent to kill is very evident and was established beyond reasonable doubt.The petition is denied for lack of merit.
Eyewitnesses to the crime, Alicia Vera Cruz and Lucita Villejo clearly and categorically declared that the victim Ruben Rodil was walking along St. Peter Avenue when he was suddenly boxed by Esmeraldo "Baby" Rivera. They further narrated that, soon thereafter, his two brothers Ismael and Edgardo "Dagul" Rivera, coming from St. Peter II, ganged up on the victim. Both Alicia Vera Cruz and Lucita Villejo recounted that they saw Edgardo "Dagul" Rivera pick up a hollow block and hit Ruben Rodil with it three (3) times. A careful review of their testimonies revealed the suddenness and unexpectedness of the attack of petitioners. In this case, the victim did not even have the slightest warning of the danger that lay ahead as he was carrying his three-year old daughter. He was caught off-guard by the assault of Esmeraldo "Baby" Rivera and the simultaneous attack of the two other petitioners. It was also established that the victim was hit by Edgardo "Dagul" Rivera, while he was lying on the ground and being mauled by the other petitioners. Petitioners could have killed the victim had he not managed to escape and had the police not promptly intervened.
Petitioners also draw attention to the fact that the injury sustained by the victim was superficial and, thus, not life threatening. The nature of the injury does not negate the intent to kill. The Court of Appeals held:As earlier stated by Dr. Cagingin, appellants could have killed the victim had the hollow block directly hit his head, and had the police not promptly intervened so that the brothers scampered away. When a wound is not sufficient to cause death, but intent to kill is evident, the crime is attempted. Intent to kill was shown by the fact that the three (3) brothers helped each other maul the defenseless victim, and even after he had already fallen to the ground; that one of them picked up a cement hollow block and proceeded to hit the victim on the head with it three times; and that it was only the arrival of the policemen that made the appellants desist from their concerted act of trying to kill Ruben Rodil.
There is an attempt when the offender commences the commission of a felony directly by overt acts, and does not perform all the acts of execution which should produce the felony by reason of some cause or accident other than his own spontaneous desistance.The essential elements of an attempted felony are as follows:
The first requisite of an attempted felony consists of two elements, namely:
- The offender commences the commission of the felony directly by overt acts;
- He does not perform all the acts of execution which should produce the felony;
- The offender's act be not stopped by his own spontaneous desistance;
- The non-performance of all acts of execution was due to cause or accident other than his spontaneous desistance.
(1) That there be external acts;The Court in People v. Lizada elaborated on the concept of an overt or external act, thus:
(2) Such external acts have direct connection with the crime intended to be committed.
An overt or external act is defined as some physical activity or deed, indicating the intention to commit a particular crime, more than a mere planning or preparation, which if carried out to its complete termination following its natural course, without being frustrated by external obstacles nor by the spontaneous desistance of the perpetrator, will logically and necessarily ripen into a concrete offense. The raison d'etre for the law requiring a direct overt act is that, in a majority of cases, the conduct of the accused consisting merely of acts of preparation has never ceased to be equivocal; and this is necessarily so, irrespective of his declared intent. It is that quality of being equivocal that must be lacking before the act becomes one which may be said to be a commencement of the commission of the crime, or an overt act or before any fragment of the crime itself has been committed, and this is so for the reason that so long as the equivocal quality remains, no one can say with certainty what the intent of the accused is. It is necessary that the overt act should have been the ultimate step towards the consummation of the design. It is sufficient if it was the "first or some subsequent step in a direct movement towards the commission of the offense after the preparations are made." The act done need not constitute the last proximate one for completion. It is necessary, however, that the attempt must have a causal relation to the intended crime. In the words of Viada, the overt acts must have an immediate and necessary relation to the offense.In the case at bar, petitioners, who acted in concert, commenced the felony of murder by mauling the victim and hitting him three times with a hollow block; they narrowly missed hitting the middle portion of his head. If Edgardo had done so, Ruben would surely have died.