750 Phil. 120
That on or about June 27, 1993, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused conspiring and confederating together and helping one another, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with intent to kill and with treachery and taking advantage of superior strength, commence the commission of the crime of murder directly by overt acts, to wit: by then and there hitting the head of Elpidio Malicse, Sr. y de Leon with a piece of rattan, axe, pipe and a piece of wood and mauling him, but the said accused did not perform all the acts of execution which should have produced the crime of murder, as a consequence, by reason of causes other than their own spontaneous desistance, that is, the injuries inflicted upon Elpidio Malicse, Sr. y de Leon are not necessarily mortal.They all pleaded “not guilty.” The defense, during trial, presented the following version of the events that transpired:
WHEREFORE, the foregoing premises considered, the Court finds Gary Fantastico and Rolando Villanueva GUILTY of the crime of attempted murder and sentences them to an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of eight (8) years and one (1) day as minimum, to ten (10) years as maximum. They are also ordered to pay the actual damages of P17,300.00 and moral damages of P10,000.00.After their motion for reconsideration was denied, petitioners appealed the case to the CA, but the latter court affirmed the decision of the RTC and disposed the case as follows:
Accused Titus Iguiron, Saligan Iguiron and Tommy Ballesteros ACQUITTED.
WHEREFORE, finding no reversible error in the decision appealed from, we hereby AFFIRM the same and DISMISS the instant appeal.A motion for reconsideration was filed, but it was denied by the same court.
THE CONCLUSIONS DRAWN BY THE COURT OF APPEALS AND THE TRIAL COURT FROM THE FACTS OF THE CASE ARE INCORRECT.At the outset, it bears stressing that under the Rules of Court, an appeal by certiorari to this Court should only raise questions of law distinctly set forth in the petition.
THE INFORMATION ITSELF IN THIS CASE DOES NOT ALLEGE ALL THE ELEMENTS AND THE NECESSARY INGREDIENTS OF THE SPECIFIC CRIME OF ATTEMPTED MURDER.
NOT ALL OF THE ELEMENTS OF ATTEMPTED MURDER ARE PRESENT IN THIS CASE.
THERE IS NO TREACHERY OR ANY OTHER QUALIFYING CIRCUMSTANCE TO SPEAK OF IN THIS CASE.
THE LOWER COURT AND THE COURT OF APPEALS FAILED TO CONSIDER THE PRESENCE OF MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCES.
THERE ARE MANIFEST MISTAKES IN THE FINDINGS OF FACTS BY THE COURT OF APPEALS AND THE TRIAL COURT.
THE CONVICTION OF THE PETITIONERS WAS BASED ON THE WEAKNESS OF THE DEFENSE EVIDENCE, NOT ON THE STRENGTH OF THE PROSECUTION EVIDENCE.
THE TESTIMONY OF THE RESPONDENT THAT IT WAS THE PETITIONERS WHO ATTACKED HIM IS INDEED UNCORROBORATED AND THUS SELF-SERVING.
CLEARLY, THERE ARE SO MUCH REVERSIBLE ERRORS IN THE DECISION OF THE COURT OF APPEALS AND THE LOWER COURT THAT INJURIOUSLY AFFECTED THE SUBSTANTIAL RIGHTS OF THE PETITIONERS AND THESE SHOULD BE CORRECTED BY THIS HONORABLE COURT.
x x x but the said accused did not perform all the acts of the execution which should have produced the crime of murder, as a consequence, by reason of causes other than their own spontaneous desistance, that is, the injuries inflicted upon Elpidio Malicse, Sr. y de Leon are not necessarily mortal.From the above-quoted portion of the Information, it is clear that all the elements of the crime of attempted murder has been included.
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 first requisite of an attempted felony consists of two (2) elements, namely:
The essential elements of an attempted felony are as follows:
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.Petitioners question the inclusion of the phrase “not necessarily mortal” in the allegations in the Information. According to them, the inclusion of that phrase means that there is an absence of an intent to kill on their part. Intent to kill is a state of mind that the courts can discern only through external manifestations, i.e., acts and conduct of the accused at the time of the assault and immediately thereafter. In Rivera v. People, this Court considered the following factors to determine the presence of an intent to kill: (1) the means used by the malefactors; (2) the nature, location, and number of wounds sustained by the victim; (3) the conduct of the malefactors before, at the time, or immediately after the killing of the victim; and (4) the circumstances under which the crime was committed and the motives of the accused. This Court also considers motive and the words uttered by the offender at the time he inflicted injuries on the victim as additional determinative factors. All of these, were proven during the trial. Needless to say, with or without the phrase, what is important is that all the elements of attempted murder are still alleged in the Information. Section 6, Rule 110 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure states:
Sec. 6. Sufficiency of complaint or information. – A complaint or information is sufficient if it states the name of the accused; the designation of the offense by the statute; the acts or omissions complained of as constituting the offense; the name of the offended party; the approximate time of the commission of the offense; and the place wherein the offense was committed.In any case, it is now too late for petitioners to assail the sufficiency of the Information on the ground that the elements of the crime of attempted murder are lacking. Section 9, Rule 117 of the Rules of Court provides:
SEC. 9. Failure to move to quash or to allege any ground therefor.- The failure of the accused to assert any ground of a motion to quash before he pleads to the complaint or information, either because he did not file a motion to quash or failed to allege the same in said motion, shall be deemed a waiver of any objections except those based on the grounds provided for in paragraphs (a), (b), (g), and (i) of section 3 of this Rule.Anent the probative value and weight given to the testimony of Elpidio by the CA and the RTC, the same is not ridden with any error. In People v. Alvarado, we held that greater weight is given to the positive identification of the accused by the prosecution witness than the accused's denial and explanation concerning the commission of the crime. This is so inasmuch as mere denials are self-serving evidence that cannot obtain evidentiary weight greater than the declaration of credible witnesses who testified on affirmative matters.
Q. Then what happened next Mr. Witness?In connection therewith, one must not forget the well entrenched rule that findings of facts of the trial court, its calibration of the testimonial evidence of the parties as well as its conclusion on its findings, are accorded high respect if not conclusive effect. This is because of the unique advantage of the trial court to observe, at close range, the conduct, demeanor and deportment of the witness as they testify. The rule finds an even more stringent application where the said findings are sustained by the Court of Appeals.
A. When I was able to free myself from Salvador Iguiron, I got out of the door of the house, then, I saw Gary was hiding in the kitchen door holding an axe. Tonahawk with blade of ax was dull and had a handle of one foot, with the diameter of one inch.
Q. Why did you know that the ax blade of the tom was dull? (sic)
A. I also used that.
Q. Where do you usually keep that in the house of Iguiron?
A. In the kitchen.
Q. How far is that kitchen from where Gary emerged from?
A. He is right in the kitchen.
Q. Then what happened?
A. When I was able to free myself from Salvador, Gary Iguiron was hiding in the kitchen door and holding a tomhack (sic) whose edge is dull and he hit me on my right side and my head and I got injury (sic) and blood profusely oozing, I want to get hold of the tomhawk (sic).
Q. Were you able to get of the tomhawk (sic) from Gary?
A. No sir.
x x x x
Q. You said while on that street somebody hit you from behind, who was that?
A. Rolly Villanueva.
Q. Why do you say that it was Rolly Villanueva, considering that it was hit from behind?
A. Because they were about 5 of them at the main gate of the compound.
Q. Who are they?
A. Rolando Villanueva, Nestor Ballesteros, Tommy Ballesteros, Eugene Surigao, Saligan Iguiron.
Q. You said you were hit by Rolando from behind, do you have occasion to see first before you were hit?
A. When I was hit I fell down and I was able to see who hit (sic0, I saw him.
Q. When you fell down, you were able to realize it was Rolando Villanueva who hit you, you mean you realized what he used in hitting you from behind?
A. It was a pipe. 1/2 inch thick, 24 inches in length.
Q. You said you fell down because of the blow of Rolando Villanueva and you saw him holding that pipe, how was he holding the pipe when you saw him?
A. When I fell down he was about trying to hit me again.
Q. And as head of that office, Mr. Witness, why are you here today?Petitioners also claim that the prosecution was not able to prove the presence of treachery or any other qualifying circumstance.
A. Actually, I was called upon by the complainant to rectify regarding, the findings supposedly seen when he was admitted and when I saw him in one of the sessions of our Out Patient Department.
Q. When was this follow-up session at your department did you see this complainant?
A. Based on the chart, I think it was four (4) months post injury when I first saw the patient.
Q. Why does he has (sic) to make a follow up in your department?
A. Based on this chart, he sustained bilateral leg fractures which necessitated casting. Normally, casting would take around three (3) months only but since the nature of his fracture was relatively unstable, I think it necessitated prolong immobilization in a case.
Q. Did you personally attend on his needs on that date when you saw him?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. And what could have been the cause of these injuries he sustained?
A. I think one of his leg has close fracture, meaning, probably it was caused by a blunt injury rather than a hacking injury, one on the left side, with an open wound which was very much compatible with a hack at the leg area.
In the case at bar, the prosecution was able to establish that Salvador Iguiron hit Elpidio Malicsi, Sr. twice on the head as he was entered (sic) the house of the former. Gary Fantastico hit the victim on the right side of the head with an axe or tomahawk. The evidence also show that Rolando “Rolly” Villanueva hit the victim on the head with a lead pipe. And outside while the victim was lying down, Gary hit the legs of the victim with the tomahawk. lvador also hit the victim with the rattan stick on the thighs, legs and knees. And Titus Iguiron hit the victim's private organ with a piece of wood. The Provisional Medical Slip (Exh. “D”), Medico Legal Certificate and Leg Sketch (Exh. “D-2”) and the fracture sheet (Exh. “D-4”) all prove that the victim suffered injuries to both legs and multiple lacerations on his head. The injury on one leg which was a close fracture was caused by a blunt instrument like a piece of wood. This injury was caused by Salvador Iguiron. The other leg suffered an open fracture caused by a sharp object like a large knife or axe. This was caused by Gary Fantastico who used the tomahawk or axe on the victim. The multiple lacerations on the head were caused by Gary, Rolly and Salvador as it was proven that they hit Elpidio on the head. There is no sufficient evidence that the other, accused, namely Saligan Iguiron Y Malicsi, Tommy Ballesteros, Nestor Ballesteros and Eugene Surigao harmed or injured the victim. Titus having sprayed Elpidio with the tear gas is not sufficiently proven. Neither was the alleged blow by Titus, using a piece of wood, on the victim's private organ sufficiently established as the medical certificate did not show any injury on that part of the body of the victim.Abuse of superior strength is present whenever there is a notorious inequality of forces between the victim and the aggressor, assuming a situation of superiority of strength notoriously advantageous for the aggressor selected or taken advantage of by him in the commission of the crime." "The fact that there were two persons who attacked the victim does not per se establish that the crime was committed with abuse of superior strength, there being no proof of the relative strength of the aggressors and the victim." The evidence must establish that the assailants purposely sought the advantage, or that they had the deliberate intent to use this advantage. "To take advantage of superior strength means to purposely use excessive force out of proportion to the means of defense available to the person attacked." The appreciation of this aggravating circumstance depends on the age, size, and strength of the parties.
The said injuries inflicted on the complainant after he went back to his sister Isabelita's house. When he kicked the door, the melee began. And the sequence of the injuries is proven by victim's testimony. But it was a lopsided attack as the victim was unarmed, while his attackers were all armed (rattan stick, tomahawk and lead pipe). And the victim was also drunk. This establishes the element of abuse of superior strength. The suddenness of the blow inflicted by Salvador on Elpidio when he entered the premises show that the former was ready to hit the victim and was waiting for him to enter. It afforded Elpidio no means to defend himself. And Salvador consciously adopted the said actuation. He hit Elpidio twice on the head. Treachery is present in this case and must be considered an aggravating circumstance against Salvador Iguiron. Rolly Villanueva, Gary Fantastico and Salvador Iguiron were all armed while Elpidio, inebriated, had nothing to defend himself with. There is clearly present here the circumstance of abuse of superior strength. (Emphasis supplied)