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Second Look on Article 247 of the Revised Penal Code

After finishing law school but before taking the Bar Exam, the author had the opportunity to take a second look on one of the frequently discussed Article in Criminal Law: “Death or physical injuries inflicted under exceptional circumstances.”

The author made a similar write-up on this during freshman days in law school titled “Adultery in Flagrante Delicto” dated 11 February 2013. You may view the post here:

Article 247 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) is reproduced below:

ART. 247. Death or physical injuries inflicted under exceptional circumstances. — Any legally married person who, having surprised his spouse in the act of committing sexual intercourse with another person, shall kill any of them or both of them in the act or immediately thereafter, or shall inflict upon them any serious physical injury, shall suffer the penalty of destierro.
If he shall inflict upon them physical injuries of any other kind, he shall be exempt from punishment.
These rules shall be applicable, under the same circumstances, to parents with respect to their daughters under eighteen years of age, and their seducers, while the daughters are living with their parents.
Any person who shall promote or facilitate prostitution of his wife or daughter, or shall otherwise have consented to the infidelity of the other spouse shall not be entitled to the benefits of this article.

[Requisites before Article 247 of the Revised Penal Code may be applied; Discussion here limited on spouses]

Let us center our attention in the case of spouses although the article may also applicable to family members. The following are the elements:

  • Existence of a valid marriage;
  • One of the spouse (surprising spouse) caught the other (infidel spouse) in the act of sexual intercourse with a third person (paramour);
  • There is killing of, or infliction of serious physical injuries against, the infidel spouse and/or the paramour;
  • The killing or infliction of serious physical injuries happened almost instantaneously or immediately thereafter;
  • There was no facilitation of prostitution or consent to infidelity from the surprising spouse;

As to the parties – surprising spouse, infidel spouse, paramour – there is no issue as to the effects of Art. 247. But if the death or physical injury extends to a fourth, fifth or subsequent persons, the issue is “will the surprising spouse be liable?”

[Consequences of Art. 247 of the RPC: Is the offender criminally liable for his act, causing death or inflicting physical injury to a fourth, fifth, etc. person?]

Article 4 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) provides:

ART 4. Criminal liability. – Criminal liability shall be incurred:

  1. By any person committing a felony (delito) although the wrongful act done be different from that which he intended

  2. By any person performing an act which would be an offense against persons or property, were it not for the inherent impossibility of its accomplishment or an account of the employment of inadequate or ineffectual means.

It can be gleaned from the first paragraph above that if a person is committing a felony, he is liable to all the direct, natural and logical consequences of his act or omission. Otherwise, no criminal liability may prosper.

Hence, the core issue: “Does the act falling under Art. 247 of the RPC constitutes a FELONY?”

The author answers in the AFFIRMATIVE.

Acts or omissions punishable by law are felonies. (Art. 3, RPC) The act or omission must be defined and penalty must be prescribed therefor. Otherwise, nullum crimen nulla poena sine lege. There is no crime where there is no law punishing it.

Going back to the provisions of Art. 247, a felony is established.

ACT/OMISSION:

  • Killing of the infidel spouse and/or the paramour in the act or immediately after sexual intercourse, being caught in flagrante by the surprising spouse;
  • Inflicting serious physical injuries to the infidel spouse and/or the paramour in the act or immediately after sexual intercourse, being caught in flagrante by the surprising spouse;

PENALTY: Destierro.

Is Destierro a penalty? YES.

Under Art. 25 of the RPC, Destierro is classified as a correctional penalty. Art. 27 of the RPC provides for the duration of this penalty which shall be from six months and one day up to six years. Destierro is No. 8 from the most severe penalty (Death) prescribed in Art. 70 for purposes of successive service of sentence, but No. 7 insofar as graduated scales under Art. 71 of the RPC is concerned. Finally, any person sentenced to Destierro shall not be permitted to enter the place or places designated in the sentence, nor within the radius therein specified, which shall be not more than 250 and not less than 25 kilometers from the place designated, as provided by Art. 87 of the RPC.

[The ruling in People v. Abarca appears to be a “stray” decision which cannot be relied on] 

There is a view that Destierro is NOT a penalty. Those who maintain this view heavily relied on the case of People v. Abarca (G.R. No. 74433, 14 September 1987), a Division case penned by Justice Sarmiento. The salient part of the decision reads:

“xxx It must be stressed furthermore that Article 247, supra, does not define an offense. Punishment, consequently, is not inflicted upon the accused. He is banished, but that is intended for his protection. xxx”

This pronouncement apparently was lifted from the 1959 En Banc case of People v. Araquel (G.R. No. L-12629, 09 December 1959):

We, therefore, conclude that Article 247 of the Revised Penal Code does not define and provide for a specific crime, but grants a privilege or benefit to the accused for the killing of another or the infliction of serious physical injuries under the circumstances therein mentioned. xxx”

I submit that the ruling in Abarca is a “stray” decision based on misapprehension of the import of the ruling in Araquel.

[The main issue in Araquel is the jurisdiction of the trial court and the applicability of double jeopardy]

In Araquel, the main issue is whether the accused is placed under double jeopardy considering he already pleaded guilty before the Justice of the Peace Court (now Municipal Trial Courts or MTC) and he is again charged for the same act before the Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court or RTC). In resolving the issue, the Supreme Court ruled that there was no double jeopardy because the Peace Court is without jurisdiction over the case:

“Conformably to the above finding, we hold that defendant was not tried by a court of competent jurisdiction when he was arraigned before the Justice of the Peace Court of Narvacan upon the amended complaint for “homicide under exceptional circumstances” filed against him by the chief of police of the municipality, and consequently, has not legally been placed in jeopardy in the present case.”

The pronouncement that “Article 247 of the Revised Penal Code does not define and provide for a specific crime” doesn’t mean that the act is not felonious. The ruling in Araquel simply instructs us that while the penalty imposable is Destierro, it doesn’t mean that jurisdiction is solely dependent on the penalty imposable. In fact, we can infer from the same ruling that the act is ACTUALLY HOMICIDE. Thus, the doctrinal ruling in Araquel:

“… Consequently, a complaint or information charging homicide under the exceptional circumstances provided in Article 247 must fall under the jurisdiction of the Courts of First Instance, the offense charged being actually that of homicide. The fact that the exceptional circumstances are also pleaded — as was done in the amended complaint filed with the Justice of the Peace Court of Narvacan — would not affect the nature of the crime charged. For they are not integral elements of the crime charged but are matters which the accused has to prove in order to warrant the application of the benefit granted by the law. As unnecessary and immaterial averments to the crime charged, they may be stricken out as surplusage and still leave the offense fully described.”

This is the particular concept that made the ruling in Abarca confusing, if not misleading.

[The main issue in Abarca is the propriety of charge and the applicability of treachery as qualifying circumstance]

Recall the following FACTS:

Khingsley Paul Koh and the wife of accused Francisco Abarca, Jenny, had illicit relationship. The illicit relationship apparently began while the accused was in Manila reviewing for the 1983 Bar examinations. The accused missed his itineraries that day so he decided to go home. Upon reaching home, the accused found his wife, Jenny, and Khingsley Koh in the act of sexual intercourse. When the wife and Koh noticed the accused, the wife pushed her paramour who got his revolver. The accused who was then peeping above the built-in cabinet in their room jumped and ran away. The accused went to look for a firearm at Tacloban City. He went to the house of a PC soldier, got an M-16 rifle, and went back to his house but he was not able to find his wife and Koh there. He proceeded to the “mahjong session” as it was the “hangout” of Kingsley Koh. The accused found Koh playing mahjong. He fired at Kingsley Koh three times with his rifle hitting Koh, as well as Arnold and Lina Amparado who were occupying a room adjacent to the room where Koh was playing mahjong. Kingsley Koh died instantaneously. Arnold Amparado was hospitalized and operated on in the kidney to remove a bullet Arnold’s  wife, Lina Amparado, was also treated in the hospital as she was hit by bullet fragments.

The accused is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the complex crime of murder with double frustrated murder as charged in the amended information, and pursuant to Art. 63 of the Revised Penal Code which does not consider the effect of mitigating or aggravating circumstances when the law prescribes a single indivisible penalty in relation to Art. 48, he is sentenced to death.

In the above Abarca case, the issue is NOT really on the nature of Art. 247 but the alleged errors:

I.

IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED FOR THE CRIME AS CHARGED INSTEAD OF ENTERING A JUDGMENT OF CONVICTION UNDER ARTICLE 247 OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE; 

II.

IN FINDING THAT THE KILLING WAS AMENDED BY THE QUALIFYING CIRCUMSTANCE OF TREACHERY.

The defense believes that a conviction under Article 247 of the Revised Penal Code is proper instead of COMPLEX CRIME OF MURDER WITH DOUBLE FRUSTRATED MURDER. The Court believes so.

“We agree with the Solicitor General that the aforequoted provision applies in the instant case. There is no question that the accused surprised his wife and her paramour, the victim in this case, in the act of illicit copulation, as a result of which, he went out to kill the deceased in a fit of passionate outburst. Article 247 prescribes the following elements: (1) that a legally married person surprises his spouse in the act of committing sexual intercourse with another person; and (2) that he kills any of them or both of them in the act or immediately thereafter. These elements are present in this case. The trial court, in convicting the accused-appellant of murder, therefore erred.”

To support the ruling that the trial court in convicting the accused of murder (as complexed with double frustrated murder), the Supreme Court cited Araquel that Article 247 does not define an offense, that PUNISHMENT IS NOT INFLICTED UPON THE ACCUSED, that the accused is BANISHED, but that is intended for his protection. Recall that the original purpose of this pronouncement in Araquel is to settle the issue of jurisdiction and double jeopardy.  Here in Abarca, the purpose is to establish that THERE IS, AND THERE CAN BE, NO MURDER because THERE IS NO CRIME TO QUALIFY AS MURDER.

“It shall likewise be noted that inflicting death under exceptional circumstances, not being a punishable act, cannot be qualified by either aggravating or mitigating or other qualifying circumstances, We cannot accordingly appreciate treachery in this case.”

There is nothing in this pronouncement that Art. 247 is not felonious. What is meant by the Supreme Court is that Art. 247 is NOT A CRIME separate and distinct from homicide and physical injuries which is necessarily included under the same family of crimes against person. Up to this point of the decision, the Supreme Court is still consistent with its ruling with the En Banc case of Araquel.

In resolving the liability of the accused as to Spouses Amparado, the Supreme Court disagrees with the recommendation of the Solicitor General in finding of DOUBLE FRUSTRATED MURDER against the accused. Instead, there was a finding of NEGLIGENCE on the part of the accused. This is where the CONFUSION starts.

Having relied on the phrases “Article 247 of the Revised Penal Code does not define and provide for a specific crime” and “punishment is not inflicted”, the Supreme Court apparently have inadvertently made another phrase that leads to a very stray concept – “not a punishable act”.

 

[The phrase “not a punishable act” does not mean that the act is not felonious, but should be construed as “not being punished as a separate and distinct crime”]

The author humbly submits that the phrase “not a punishable act” is inaccurate because it could mean as “NOT A FELONY” following the basic rule that there is no felony if the act or omission is not punishable under the RPC. This has great implications when used with Articles 4 and 48 of the RPC. Applying Art. 4 of the RPC, if the person is committing a felony, he shall be criminally liable to the consequences thereof even if the result be different than that intended. Stated otherwise: if one is NOT committing a felony, he cannot be held criminally liable for all the direct, natural and logical consequences of his act or omission. In the case of Art. 48 of the RPC, if the single act constitutes two or more grave or less grave felonies (or when an offense is necessary means for committing the other), there will be no complex crime if there are only two resulting felonies but the other is in fact NOT a felony. Thus, the author respectfully recommends the reading of “not a punishable act” as “not being punished as a separate and distinct crime” to avoid confusion.  

How about this part of the ruling:

 “The next question refers to the liability of the accused-appellant for the physical injuries suffered by Lina Amparado and Arnold Amparado who were caught in the crossfire as the accused-appellant shot the victim. The Solicitor General recommends a finding of double frustrated murder against the accused-appellant, and being the more severe offense, proposes the imposition of reclusion temporal in its maximum period pursuant to Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code. This is where we disagree. The accused-appellant did not have the intent to kill the Amparado couple. Although as a rule, one committing an offense is liable for all the consequences of his act, that rule presupposes that the act done amounts to a felony.
But the case at bar requires distinctions. Here, the accused-appellant was not committing murder when he discharged his rifle upon the deceased. Inflicting death under exceptional circumstances is not murder. We cannot therefore hold the appellant liable for frustrated murder for the injuries suffered by the Amparados.”

It is true that the accused is NOT COMMITTING MURDER, as earlier discussed, because Art. 247 is NOT a separate and distinct felony than that of homicide and physical injuries. Not being a separate and distinct felony (from homicide) but only an extraordinary circumstance, we cannot apply any qualifying circumstance for the act of killing for it to be Murder. This can still be acceptable. However, the Supreme Court went further:

“This does not mean, however, that the accused-appellant is totally free from any responsibility. Granting the fact that he was not performing an illegal act when he fired shots at the victim, he cannot be said to be entirely without fault. While it appears that before firing at the deceased, he uttered warning words (“an waray labot kagawas,”) that is not enough a precaution to absolve him for the injuries sustained by the Amparados. We nonetheless find negligence on his part. xxx”

The author respectfully disagrees. The act of killing the paramour (and/or the infidel spouse) in contemplation of Art. 247 is very much an ILLEGAL ACT (felonious) as any homicide or physical injuries. Otherwise, it should have been placed under Art. 11 on Justifying Circumstances where generally the enumeration are not considered crimes.

In fact, the very ruling of the Supreme Court in Abarca appears to contradict itself.  If the act of killing the paramour is not an illegal act (meaning, not felonious), why would the Supreme Court still consider the killing (punished by Destierro) in the complex crime under Art. 48 of the RPC in imposing the penalty?

“For the separate injuries suffered by the Amparado spouses, we therefore impose upon the accused-appellant arresto mayor (in its medium and maximum periods) in its maximum period, arresto being the graver penalty (than destierro).”

This could only mean that the killing of the paramour is felonious. Otherwise, Art. 48 of the RPC should not be made applicable. Thus, the author submits that the proper charge should be COMPLEX CRIME OF HOMICIDE UNDER ART.247 AND LESS SERIOUS PHYSICAL INJURIES. Since in complex crimes under Art. 48 of the RPC, the penalty for the most serious crime shall be imposed in its maximum period, the penalty of Destierro under Art. 247 of the RPC shall give way to Arresto Mayor in Less Serious Physical Injuries.

The discussion on Art. 365 of the RPC regarding criminal negligence is (almost) totally unnecessary.

So how do we treat Art. 247 of the RPC if it is not a felony, not a lawful act, not a modifying circumstance (justifying, exempting, mitigating, aggravating, alternative), and cannot be a considered as a qualifying circumstance?

It is an absolutory cause.

Article 247 is an absolutory cause that recognizes the commission of a crime but for reasons of public policy and sentiment there is no penalty imposed. (People v. Macal, G.R. No. 211062, 13 January 2016, People v. Oyanib, G.R. Nos. 130634-354, 12 March 2001; People v. Talisic, G.R. No. 97961 05 September 1997) Explaining the rationale for this, the Supreme Court held:

“. . . . The vindication of a man’s honor is justified because of the scandal an unfaithful wife creates; the law is strict on this, authorizing as it does, a man to chastise her, even with death. But killing the errant spouse as a purification is so severe that it can only be justified when the unfaithful spouse is caught in flagrante delicto; and it must be resorted to only with great caution so much so that the law requires that it be inflicted only during the sexual intercourse or immediately thereafter.” (People v. Wagas, G.R. No. 61704, 08 March 1989)

EPILOGUE

To wrap the lengthy discussion, we have to realize that the act of killing or inflicting physical injuries under Art. 247 of the RPC, is FELONIOUS. Thus, criminal liability attaches to the consequences of the act defined in said Article, in relation to Art. 4 of the RPC. Being felonious, if the surprising spouse killed the infidel spouse and paramour, say by shooting them, and the bullets likewise caused deaths and injuries to other persons within the premises, the surprising spouse shall be criminally liable even if there is no criminal intent against for such collateral deaths and injuries.

If in the act of killing (by shooting) the infidel spouse and paramour managed to evade the bullets which caused injury to other persons nearby, will the surprising spouse be criminally liable? The answer is YES, because at that time the surprising spouse is committing a felony, pursuant to the first paragraph of Art. 4 of the RPC.

The benefit of Art. 247 of the RPC, as an absolutory cause, shall apply only to death or injury caused to the infidel spouse and paramour. It shall not extend to fourth, fifth and etc. persons. This discussion may be applied by analogy in case of the surprising parents (in lieu of surprising spouse), their daughters under 18 years of age living with the surprising parents (in lieu of infidel spouse) and the seducer (in lieu of the paramour), mutatis mutandis.

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2017 in Criminal Law

 

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People v. Abarca, G.R. No. 74433, 14 September 1987.

Second Division

[SARMIENTO, J.]

FACTS: Khingsley Paul Koh and the wife of accused Francisco Abarca, Jenny, had illicit relationship. The illicit relationship apparently began while the accused was in Manila reviewing for the 1983 Bar examinations. The accused missed his itineraries that day so he decided to go home. Upon reaching home, the accused found his wife, Jenny, and Khingsley Koh in the act of sexual intercourse. When the wife and Koh noticed the accused, the wife pushed her paramour who got his revolver. The accused who was then peeping above the built-in cabinet in their room jumped and ran away. The accused went to look for a firearm at Tacloban City. He went to the house of a PC soldier, got an M-16 rifle, and went back to his house but he was not able to find his wife and Koh there. He proceeded to the “mahjong session” as it was the “hangout” of Kingsley Koh. The accused found Koh playing mahjong. He fired at Kingsley Koh three times with his rifle hitting Koh, as well as Arnold and Lina Amparado who were occupying a room adjacent to the room where Koh was playing mahjong. Kingsley Koh died instantaneously. Arnold Amparado was hospitalized and operated on in the kidney to remove a bullet Arnold’s  wife, Lina Amparado, was also treated in the hospital as she was hit by bullet fragments.

 

The accused is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the complex crime of murder with double frustrated murder as charged in the amended information, and pursuant to Art. 63 of the Revised Penal Code which does not consider the effect of mitigating or aggravating circumstances when the law prescribes a single indivisible penalty in relation to Art. 48, he is sentenced to death.

On appeal by the accused, the Solicitor General recommends that we apply Article 247 of the Revised Penal Code defining death inflicted under exceptional circumstances, complexed with double frustrated murder.

 

ISSUE: Is the trial court correct in finding Abarca guilty of the COMPLEX CRIME OF MURDER with DOUBLE FRUSTRATED MURDER?

 

HELD: NO.

 

Article 247 reads in full:

ART. 247. Death or physical injuries inflicted under exceptional circumstances. — Any legally married person who, having surprised his spouse in the act of committing sexual intercourse with another person, shall kill any of them or both of them in the act or immediately thereafter, or shall inflict upon them any serious physical injury, shall suffer the penalty of destierro.

If he shall inflict upon them physical injuries of any other kind, he shall be exempt from punishment.

These rules shall be applicable, under the same circumstances, to parents with respect to their daughters under eighteen years of age, and their seducers, while the daughters are living with their parents.

Any person who shall promote or facilitate prostitution of his wife or daughter, or shall otherwise have consented to the infidelity of the other spouse shall not be entitled to the benefits of this article.

We agree with the Solicitor General that the aforequoted provision applies in the instant case. There is no question that the accused surprised his wife and her paramour, the victim in this case, in the act of illicit copulation, as a result of which, he went out to kill the deceased in a fit of passionate outburst. Article 247 prescribes the following elements: (1) that a legally married person surprises his spouse in the act of committing sexual intercourse with another person; and (2) that he kills any of them or both of them in the act or immediately thereafter. These elements are present in this case. The trial court, in convicting the accused-appellant of murder, therefore erred. It must be stressed furthermore that Article 247, supra, does not define an offense. Punishment, consequently, is not inflicted upon the accused. He is banished, but that is intended for his protection. It shall likewise be noted that inflicting death under exceptional circumstances, not being a punishable act, cannot be qualified by either aggravating or mitigating or other qualifying circumstances, We cannot accordingly appreciate treachery in this case.

The next question refers to the liability of the accused-appellant for the physical injuries suffered by Lina Amparado and Arnold Amparado who were caught in the crossfire as the accused-appellant shot the victim. The Solicitor General recommends a finding of double frustrated murder against the accused-appellant, and being the more severe offense, proposes the imposition of reclusion temporal in its maximum period pursuant to Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code. This is where we disagree. The accused-appellant did not have the intent to kill the Amparado couple. Although as a rule, one committing an offense is liable for all the consequences of his act, that rule presupposes that the act done amounts to a felony. But the case at bar requires distinctions. Here, the accused-appellant was not committing murder when he discharged his rifle upon the deceased. Inflicting death under exceptional circumstances is not murder. We cannot therefore hold the appellant liable for frustrated murder for the injuries suffered by the Amparados.

This does not mean, however, that the accused-appellant is totally free from any responsibility. Granting the fact that he was not performing an illegal act when he fired shots at the victim, he cannot be said to be entirely without fault. While it appears that before firing at the deceased, he uttered warning words (“an waray labot kagawas,”) that is not enough a precaution to absolve him for the injuries sustained by the Amparados. We nonetheless find negligence on his part. Accordingly, we hold him liable under the first part, second paragraph, of Article 365, that is, less serious physical injuries through simple imprudence or negligence.

For the separate injuries suffered by the Amparado spouses, we therefore impose upon the accused-appellant arresto mayor (in its medium and maximum periods) in its maximum period, arresto to being the graver penalty (than destierro).

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2017 in Case Digests, Criminal Law

 

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People v. Araquel, G.R. No. L-12629, 09 December 1959.

En Banc

[GUTIERREZ-DAVID, J.]

FACTS: On January 30, 1955, the acting chief of police of Narvacan, Ilocos Sur, filed with the justice of the peace court of that municipality a complaint for homicide against Alfredo Araquel accusing him of having hacked and killed Alberto Pagadian with a bolo. On July 3, 1956, while said complaint was still pending in the justice of the peace court, the chief of police of Narvacan moved for the amendment thereof, alleging that upon reinvestigation of the facts he found that the crime committed by the accused was not homicide as charged in the original complaint but that of homicide under exceptional circumstances as provided for in Article 247 of the Revised Penal Code. Finding the motion to be well taken, the justice of the peace court, on July 16, allowed the filing of the amended complaint which charged the accused with “the crime of HOMICIDE UNDER EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES defined and punished under Article 247 of the Revised Penal Code.” That same day, the accused was arraigned under the amended complaint. And as he entered a plea of “guilty”, the justice of the peace court, also on that same day, sentenced him to suffer the penalty of destierro for a period of one year to any place not within the radius of at least 25 kilometers from the municipal building of Narvacan, Ilocos Sur.

During the service of the sentence by the accused, the acting Provincial Fiscal of Ilocos Sur was informed of the case through the Department of Justice to which the private prosecutor had lodged a complaint. And after conducting an investigation, the said acting provincial fiscal on February 16, 1957, filed with Court of First Instance of the province an information against the accused Alfredo Araquel charging him with homicide as defined and penalized under Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code for the killing Alberto Pagadian. On July 9, 1957, the accused moved to quash the information on the ground of double jeopardy, invoking the previous charge against him for homicide under exceptional circumstances and the subsequent sentence passed upon him by the justice of the Peace Court of Narvacan, Ilocos Sur. The fiscal opposed the motion, but the trial court, in this order of July 18, 1957, sustained the plea of double jeopardy and dismissed the information. Hence, this appeal.

ISSUE: Is the Court of First Instance correct in sustaining the plea of double jeopardy considering the plea of guilty was already made in the charge of HOMICIDE UNDER EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES defined and punished under Article 247 and a subsequent charge of homicide under Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code was made for the same killing of Alberto Pagadian?

HELD: NO. The plea of jeopardy made by the accused was, to our minds, erroneously sustained by the lower court.

In order that a defendant may legally be placed in jeopardy, one of the necessary and indispensable conditions is that he should have been tried before a court of competent jurisdiction. (Sec. 9 Rule 113, Rules of Court.) The court below, in upholding the plea of double jeopardy, held that the Justice of the Peace Court of Narvacan, Ilocos Sur, had jurisdiction to take cognizance of the complaint for “homicide under exceptional circumstances defined and punished under Article 247 of the Revised Penal Code,” on the theory that “the act defined” in that article “is a felony” which is penalized with destierro and, consequently, falls under the jurisdiction of the inferior court, following the ruling laid down in the case of Uy Chin Hua vs. Dinglasan, et al., (86 Phil., 617; 47 Off. Gaz. No. 12, Supp., p. 233) There can of course be no question that, under the rule enunciated in the case of Uy Chin Hua vs. Dinglasan et al., supra, offenses penalized with destierro fall under the jurisdiction of the justice of the peace and municipal courts. (See also De los Angeles vs. People, 103 Phil., 295.) That rule, however, cannot be made to apply to the present case, for it is apparent that Article 247 of the Revised Penal Code does not define a crime distinct and separate from homicide, parricide, or murder, as the case may be, depending, in so far as those crimes are concerned, upon the relationship of the victim to the killer and the manner by which the killing is committed.

We, therefore, conclude that Article 247 of the Revised Penal Code does not define and provide for a specific crime, but grants a privilege or benefit to the accused for the killing of another or the infliction of serious physical injuries under the circumstances therein mentioned. Consequently, a complaint or information charging homicide under the exceptional circumstances provided in Article 247 must fall under the jurisdiction of the Courts of First Instance, the offense charged being actually that of homicide. The fact that the exceptional circumstances are also pleaded — as was done in the amended complaint filed with the Justice of the Peace Court of Narvacan — would not affect the nature of the crime charged. For they are not integral elements of the crime charged but are matters which the accused has to prove in order to warrant the application of the benefit granted by the law. As unnecessary and immaterial averments to the crime charged, they may be stricken out as surplusage and still leave the offense fully described.

Conformably to the above finding, we hold that defendant was not tried by a court of competent jurisdiction when he was arraigned before the Justice of the Peace Court of Narvacan upon the amended complaint for “homicide under exceptional circumstances” filed against him by the chief of police of the municipality, and consequently, has not legally been placed in jeopardy in the present case.

SIDE DISCUSSIONS:

As may readily be seen from its provision and its place in the Code, the above-quoted article, far from defining a felony, merely, provides or grants a privilege or benefit–amounting practically to an exemption from an adequate punishment — to a legally married person or parent who shall surprise his spouse or daughter in the act of committing sexual intercourse with another, and kill any or both of them in the act or immediately thereafter, or shall inflict upon them any serious physical injury. Thus, in case of death or serious physical injuries, considering the enormous provocation and his righteous indignation, the accused — who would otherwise be criminally liable for the crime of homicide, parricide, murder, or serious physical injury, as the case may be — is punished only with destierro. This penalty is mere banishment and, as held in a case, is intended more for the protection of the accused than a punishment. (People vs. Coricor, 79 Phil., 672.)And where physical injuries other than serious are inflicted, the offender is exempted from punishment circumstances mentioned therein, amount to an exempting circumstances, for even where death or serious physical injuries is inflicted, the penalty is so greatly lowered as to result to no punishment at all. A different interpretation, i.e., that it defines and penalizes a distinct crime, would make the exceptional circumstances which practically exempt the accused from criminal liability integral elements of the offense, and thereby compel the prosecuting officer to plead, and, incidentally, admit them, in the information. Such and interpretation would be illogical if not absurd, since a mitigating and much less an exempting circumstance cannot be an integral element of the crime charged. Only “acts or omissions . . . constituting the offense” should be pleaded in a complaint or information, and a circumstance which mitigates criminal liability or exempts the accused therefrom, not being an essential element of the offense charged — but a matter of defense that must be proved to the satisfaction of the court — need not be pleaded. (Sec. 5, Rule 106, Rules of Court; U.S. vs. Campo, 23 Phil., 368.)

That the article in question defines no crime is made more manifest when we consider that its counterpart in the old Penal Code (Article 423) was found under the General Provision (Chapter VIII) of Title VIII covering crimes against persons. There can, we think, hardly be any dispute that as part of the general provisions, it could not have possibly provided for a distinct and separate crime.

We also note that under Republic Act No. 296, the jurisdiction of the justice of the peace and municipal courts, as enlarged, extends only to “assaults where the intent to kill is not charged or evident at the trial.”(Section 87 [c]). A fortiori, where the intent to kill is evident — as in cases of homicide under the exceptional circumstances provided in Article 247 of the Revised Penal Code — the case must necessarily fall beyond the jurisdiction of the inferior courts. An absurd situation would, indeed, be created if the justice of the peace courts could exercise jurisdiction over a case involving an acting killing, when they lack jurisdiction to try even a case of slight physical injury where the intent to kill was evident. Such could not have been the intendment of the law.

It may not be amiss to state here that the killing under exceptional circumstances under both the old (Art. 423)and Revised Penal Code (Art. 247) had invariably been tried before the Courts of First Instance under an information charging the accused with either homicide, parricide, or murder. (See U.S. vs. Vargas, et al., 2 Phil., 194; U.S. vs. Melchor, 2 Phil., 588; U.S. vs. Posoc, et al., 10 Phil., 711; U.S. vs. Alano, 32 Phil., 381; U.S. vs. Verzola, 33 Phil., 285; People vs. Zamora de Cortez, 59 Phil., 568; People vs. Gonzales, 69 Phil., 66; People vs. Dumon, 72 Phil., 41; People vs. Coricor, 79 Phil., 672; People vs. Sabilul, 89 Phil., 283; 49 Off. Gaz., 2743.) In all the above-cited cases, the accused merely invoked the privilege or benefit granted in Article 247 of the Revised Penal Code or Article 423 of the old Penal Code.

 

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2017 in Case Digests, Criminal Law

 

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Juan Ponce Enrile v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 213455, 11 August 2015.

En Banc

[BRION, J.]

The Office of the Ombudsman filed an Information for plunder against Enrile, Jessica Lucila Reyes, Janet Lim Napoles, Ronald John Lim, and John Raymund de Asis before the Sandiganbayan.

The Information reads:

x x x x

In 2004 to 2010 or thereabout, in the Philippines, and within this Honorable Court’s jurisdiction, above-named accused JUAN PONCE ENRILE, then a Philippine Senator, JESSICA LUCILA G. REYES, then Chief of Staff of Senator Enrile’s Office, both public officers, committing the offense in relation to their respective offices, conspiring with one another and with JANET LIM NAPOLES, RONALD JOHN LIM, and JOHN RAYMUND DE ASIS, did then and there willfully, unlawfully, and criminally amass, accumulate, and/or acquire ill-gotten wealth amounting to at least ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY TWO MILLION EIGHT HUNDRED THIRTY FOUR THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED PESOS (Php172,834,500.00) through a combination or series of overt criminal acts, as follows:

  1. by repeatedly receiving from NAPOLES and/or her representatives LIM, DE ASIS, and others, kickbacks or commissions under the following circumstances: before, during and/or after the project identification, NAPOLES gave, and ENRILE and/or REYES received, a percentage of the cost of a project to be funded from ENRILE’S Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), in consideration of ENRILE’S endorsement, directly or through REYES, to the appropriate government agencies, of NAPOLES’ non-government organizations which became the recipients and/or target implementors of ENRILE’S PDAF projects, which duly-funded projects turned out to be ghosts or fictitious, thus enabling NAPOLES to misappropriate the PDAF proceeds for her personal gain;
  2. by taking undue advantage, on several occasions, of their official positions, authority, relationships, connections, and influence to unjustly enrich themselves at the expense and to the damage and prejudice, of the Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

Enrile filed a motion for bill of particulars before the Sandiganbayan. On the same date, he filed a motion for deferment of arraignment since he was to undergo medical examination at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH).

The Court denied Enrile’s motion for bill of particulars.

ISSUE: Is a Motion to Quash the proper remedy if the information is vague or indefinite resulting in the serious violation of Enrile’s constitutional right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him?

HELD: NO. When allegations in an Information are vague or indefinite, the remedy of the accused is not a motion to quash, but a motion for a bill of particulars.

The purpose of a bill of particulars is to supply vague facts or allegations in the complaint or information to enable the accused to properly plead and prepare for trial. It presupposes a valid Information, one that presents all the elements of the crime charged, albeit under vague terms. Notably, the specifications that a bill of particulars may supply are only formal amendments to the complaint or Information. Thus, if the Information is lacking, a court should take a liberal attitude towards its granting and order the government to file a bill of particulars elaborating on the charges. Doubts should be resolved in favor of granting the bill to give full meaning to the accused’s Constitutionally guaranteed rights.

Notably, the government cannot put the accused in the position of disclosing certain overt acts through the Information and withholding others subsequently discovered, all of which it intends to prove at the trial. This is the type of surprise a bill of particulars is designed to avoid. The accused is entitled to the observance of all the rules designated to bring about a fair verdict. This becomes more relevant in the present case where the crime charged carries with it the severe penalty of capital punishment and entails the commission of several predicate criminal acts involving a great number of transactions spread over a considerable period of time. Notably, conviction for plunder carries with it the penalty of capital punishment; for this reason, more process is due, not less. When a person’s life interest – protected by the life, liberty, and property language recognized in the due process clause – is at stake in the proceeding, all measures must be taken to ensure the protection of those fundamental rights.

While both the motion to dismiss the Information and the motion for bill of particulars involved the right of an accused to due process, the enumeration of the details desired in Enrile’s supplemental opposition to issuance of a warrant of arrest and for dismissal of information and in his motion for bill of particulars are different viewed particularly from the prism of their respective objectives. In the former, Enrile took the position that the Information did not state a crime for which he can be convicted; thus, the Information is void; he alleged a defect of substance. In the latter, he already impliedly admits that the Information sufficiently alleged a crime but is unclear and lacking in details that would allow him to properly plead and prepare his defense; he essentially alleged here a defect of form. Note that in the former, the purpose is to dismiss the Information for its failure to state the nature and cause of the accusation against Enrile; while the details desired in the latter (the motion for bill of particulars) are required to be specified in sufficient detail because the allegations in the Information are vague, indefinite, or in the form of conclusions and will not allow Enrile to adequately prepare his defense unless specifications are made.That every element constituting the offense had been alleged in the Information does not preclude the accused from requesting for more specific details of the various acts or omissions he is alleged to have committed. The request for details is precisely the function of a bill of particulars. Hence, while the information may be sufficient for purposes of stating the cause and the crime an accused is charged, the allegations may still be inadequate for purposes of enabling him to properly plead and prepare for trial.

We DIRECT the People of the Philippines to SUBMIT, within a non-extendible period of fifteen (15) days from finality of this Decision, with copy furnished to Enrile, a bill of particulars containing the facts sought that we herein rule to be material and necessary. The bill of particulars shall specifically contain the following:

  1. The particular overt act/s alleged to constitute the “combination or series of overt criminal acts” charged in the Information.
  2. A breakdown of the amounts of the “kickbacks or commissions” allegedly received, stating how the amount of P172,834,500.00 was arrived at.
  3. A brief description of the ‘identified’ projects where kickbacks or commissions were received.
  4. The approximate dates of receipt, “in 2004 to 2010 or thereabout,” of the alleged kickbacks and commissions from the identified projects. At the very least, the prosecution should state the year when the kickbacks and transactions from the identified projects were received.
  5. The name of Napoles’ non-government organizations (NGOs) which were the alleged “recipients and/or target implementors of Enrile’s PDAF projects.”
  6. The government agencies to whom Enrile allegedly endorsed Napoles’ NGOs. The particular person/s in each government agency who facilitated the transactions need not be named as a particular.

All particulars prayed for that are not included in the above are hereby denied.

 

 

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Enrile v. Sandiganbayan and People, G.R. No. 213847, 18 August 2015.

En Banc

[BERSAMIN, J.]

FACTS: The Office of the Ombudsman charged Enrile, 90 years of age, and several others with plunder in the Sandiganbayan on the basis of their purported involvement in the diversion and misuse of appropriations under the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). Upon voluntary surrender, Enrile filed his Motion for Detention at the PNP General Hospital, and his Motion to Fix Bail. Enrile claims that before judgment of conviction, an accused is entitled to bail as matter of right; that it is the duty and burden of the Prosecution to show clearly and conclusively that Enrile comes under the exception and cannot be excluded from enjoying the right to bail; that the Prosecution has failed to establish that Enrile, if convicted of plunder, is punishable by reclusion perpetua considering the presence of two mitigating circumstances – his age and his voluntary surrender; that the Prosecution has not come forward with proof showing that his guilt for the crime of plunder is strong; and that he should not be considered a flight risk taking into account that he is already over the age of 90, his medical condition, and his social standing. In its Comment, the Ombudsman contends that Enrile’s right to bail is discretionary as he is charged with a capital offense; that to be granted bail, it is mandatory that a bail hearing be conducted to determine whether there is strong evidence of his guilt, or the lack of it; and that entitlement to bail considers the imposable penalty, regardless of the attendant circumstances.

ISSUE: Is Enrile entitled to bail? If YES, on what ground(s)?

HELD: YES, Enrile is entitled to bail as a matter of right based on humanitarian grounds.

The decision whether to detain or release an accused before and during trial is ultimately an incident of the judicial power to hear and determine his criminal case. The strength of the Prosecution’s case, albeit a good measure of the accused’s propensity for flight or for causing harm to the public, is subsidiary to the primary objective of bail, which is to ensure that the accused appears at trial.

The Court is guided by the earlier mentioned principal purpose of bail, which is to guarantee the appearance of the accused at the trial, or whenever so required by the court. The Court is further mindful of the Philippines’ responsibility in the international community arising from the national commitment under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to:

x x x uphold the fundamental human rights as well as value the worth and dignity of every person. This commitment is enshrined in Section II, Article II of our Constitution which provides: “The State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights.” The Philippines, therefore, has the responsibility of protecting and promoting the right of every person to liberty and due process, ensuring that those detained or arrested can participate in the proceedings before a court, to enable it to decide without delay on the legality of the detention and order their release if justified. In other words, the Philippine authorities are under obligation to make available to every person under detention such remedies which safeguard their fundamental right to liberty. These remedies include the right to be admitted to bail.

This national commitment to uphold the fundamental human rights as well as value the worth and dignity of every person has authorized the grant of bail not only to those charged in criminal proceedings but also to extraditees upon a clear and convincing showing: (1) that the detainee will not be a flight risk or a danger to the community; and (2 ) that there exist special, humanitarian and compelling circumstances.

In our view, his social and political standing and his having immediately surrendered to the authorities upon his being charged in court indicate that the risk of his flight or escape from this jurisdiction is highly unlikely. His personal disposition from the onset of his indictment for plunder, formal or otherwise, has demonstrated his utter respect for the legal processes of this country. We also do not ignore that at an earlier time many years ago when he had been charged with rebellion with murder and multiple frustrated murder, he already evinced a similar personal disposition of respect for the legal processes, and was granted bail during the pendency of his trial because he was not seen as a flight risk. With his solid reputation in both his public and his private lives, his long years of public service, and history’s judgment of him being at stake, he should be granted bail.

N.B.

Bail for the provisional liberty of the accused, regardless of the crime charged, should be allowed independently of the merits of the charge, provided his continued incarceration is clearly shown to be injurious to his health or to endanger his life. Indeed, denying him bail despite imperiling his health and life would not serve the true objective of preventive incarceration during the trial.

 

 

Leviste v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 189122, 17 March 2010.

Third Division

[CORONA, J.]

FACTS: Charged with the murder of Rafael de las Alas, petitioner Jose Antonio Leviste was convicted by the Regional Trial Court of Makati City for the lesser crime of homicide and sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of six years and one day of prision mayor as minimum to 12 years and one day of reclusion temporal as maximum. He appealed his conviction to the Court of Appeals. Pending appeal, he filed an urgent application for admission to bail pending appeal, citing his advanced age and health condition, and claiming the absence of any risk or possibility of flight on his part. The Court of Appeals denied petitioner’s application for bail. It invoked the bedrock principle in the matter of bail pending appeal, that the discretion to extend bail during the course of appeal should be exercised “with grave caution and only for strong reasons.” Petitioner now questions as grave abuse of discretion the denial of his application for bail, considering that none of the conditions justifying denial of bail under the third paragraph of Section 5, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court was present. Petitioner’s theory is that, where the penalty imposed by the trial court is more than six years but not more than 20 years and the circumstances mentioned in the third paragraph of Section 5 are absent, bail must be granted to an appellant pending appeal.

ISSUE: In an application for bail pending appeal by an appellant sentenced by the trial court to a penalty of imprisonment for more than six years, does the discretionary nature of the grant of bail pending appeal mean that bail should automatically be granted absent any of the circumstances mentioned in the third paragraph of Section 5, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court?

HELD: NO, discretionary nature of bail mentioned in Section 5 of Rule 114 does not mean automatic grant of bail in case of appeal.

After conviction by the trial court, the presumption of innocence terminates and, accordingly, the constitutional right to bail ends. From then on, the grant of bail is subject to judicial discretion. At the risk of being repetitious, such discretion must be exercised with grave caution and only for strong reasons. Considering that the accused was in fact convicted by the trial court, allowance of bail pending appeal should be guided by a stringent-standards approach. This judicial disposition finds strong support in the history and evolution of the rules on bail and the language of Section 5, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court. It is likewise consistent with the trial court’s initial determination that the accused should be in prison. Furthermore, letting the accused out on bail despite his conviction may destroy the deterrent effect of our criminal laws. This is especially germane to bail pending appeal because long delays often separate sentencing in the trial court and appellate review. In addition, at the post-conviction stage, the accused faces a certain prison sentence and thus may be more likely to flee regardless of bail bonds or other release conditions. Finally, permitting bail too freely in spite of conviction invites frivolous and time-wasting appeals which will make a mockery of our criminal justice system and court processes.

 

 

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Okabe v. Judge Gutierrez and Maruyama, G.R. No. 150185, 27 May 2004.

Second Division

[CALLEJO, SR., J.]

FACTS: Maruyama charged Okabe of Estafa. After the preliminary investigation, an Information was filed and a warrant of arrest was issued.  Petitioner posted a personal bail bond in the said amount, duly approved by Judge Demetrio B. Macapagal, the Presiding Judge of Branch 79 of the RTC of Quezon City, who forthwith recalled the said warrant. The approved personal bail bond of the petitioner was transmitted to the RTC of Pasig City on June 21, 2000. Upon her request, the petitioner was furnished with a certified copy of the Information, the resolution and the criminal complaint which formed part of the records of the said case. Petitioner twice left the Philippines but returned. The prosecution moved for the issuance of a hold departure order to hold and prevent any attempt on the part of the petitioner to depart from the Philippines. Petitioner filed a Very Urgent Motion To Lift/Recall Hold Departure Order and/or allow her to regularly travel to Japan. Petitioner filed a motion for the postponement of her arraignment alleging that, in case the trial court ruled adversely thereon, she would refuse to enter a plea and seek relief from the appellate court. The court denied the petitioner’s motions on the ground that when the petitioner posted a personal bail bond for her provisional liberty, she thereby waived her right to question the court’s finding of the existence of probable cause for her arrest and submitted herself to the jurisdiction of the court, more so when she filed the motion for the lifting of the hold departure order the court issued, and the motion to defer the proceedings and her arraignment.

ISSUE: Is the application for or filing of bail bond a waiver of one’s right to assail the warrant issued for his arrest?

 

HELD: NO, there is no waiver in application for or filing of a bail.

It bears stressing that Section 26, Rule 114 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure is a new one, intended to modify previous rulings of this Court that an application for bail or the admission to bail by the accused shall be considered as a waiver of his right to assail the warrant issued for his arrest on the legalities or irregularities thereon. The new rule has reverted to the ruling of this Court in People v. Red. The new rule is curative in nature because precisely, it was designed to supply defects and curb evils in procedural rules. Hence, the rules governing curative statutes are applicable. Curative statutes are by their essence retroactive in application. Besides, procedural rules as a general rule operate retroactively, even without express provisions to that effect, to cases pending at the time of their effectivity, in other words to actions yet undetermined at the time of their effectivity. Before the appellate court rendered its decision on January 31, 2001, the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure was already in effect. It behooved the appellate court to have applied the same in resolving the petitioner’s petition for certiorari and her motion for partial reconsideration.

Moreover, considering the conduct of the petitioner after posting her personal bail bond, it cannot be argued that she waived her right to question the finding of probable cause and to assail the warrant of arrest issued against her by the respondent judge. There must be clear and convincing proof that the petitioner had an actual intention to relinquish her right to question the existence of probable cause. When the only proof of intention rests on what a party does, his act should be so manifestly consistent with, and indicative of, an intent to voluntarily and unequivocally relinquish the particular right that no other explanation of his conduct is possible. In this case, the records show that a warrant was issued by the respondent judge in Pasay City for the arrest of the petitioner, a resident of Guiguinto, Bulacan. When the petitioner learned of the issuance of the said warrant, she posted a personal bail bond to avert her arrest and secure her provisional liberty. Judge Demetrio B. Macapagal of the RTC of Quezon City approved the bond and issued an order recalling the warrant of arrest against the petitioner. Thus, the posting of a personal bail bond was a matter of imperative necessity to avert her incarceration; it should not be deemed as a waiver of her right to assail her arrest.

 

 

 

 

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