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

30 May

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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