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Category Archives: Criminal Law

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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Nogales v. Capitol Medical Center, et al., G.R. No. 142625, 19 December 2006.

[CARPIO, J.]

FACTS:

Pregnant with her fourth child, Corazon Nogales (“Corazon”), who was then 37 years old, was under the exclusive prenatal care of Dr. Oscar Estrada (“Dr. Estrada”) beginning on her fourth month of pregnancy or as early as December 1975. While Corazon was on her last trimester of pregnancy, Dr. Estrada noted an increase in her blood pressure and development of leg edema indicating preeclampsia, which is a dangerous complication of pregnancy. Around midnight of 25 May 1976, Corazon started to experience mild labor pains prompting Corazon and Rogelio Nogales (“Spouses Nogales”) to see Dr. Estrada at his home. After examining Corazon, Dr. Estrada advised her immediate admission to the Capitol Medical Center (“CMC”). The following day, Corazon was admitted at 2:30 a.m. at the CMC after the staff nurse noted the written admission request of Dr. Estrada. Upon Corazon’s admission at the CMC, Rogelio Nogales (“Rogelio”) executed and signed the “Consent on Admission and Agreement” and “Admission Agreement.” Corazon was then brought to the labor room of the CMC. Corazon died at 9:15 a.m. The cause of death was “hemorrhage, post partum.”

Petitioners filed a complaint for damages with the Regional Trial Court of Manila against CMC, Dr. Estrada, and the rest of CMC medical staff for the death of Corazon. In their defense, CMC pointed out that Dr. Estrada was a consultant to be considered as an independent-contractor, and that no employer-employee relationship existed between the former and the latter.

After more than 11 years of trial, the trial court rendered judgment on 22 November 1993 finding Dr. Estrada solely liable for damages. Petitioners appealed the trial court’s decision. Petitioners claimed that aside from Dr. Estrada, the remaining respondents should be held equally liable for negligence. Petitioners pointed out the extent of each respondent’s alleged liability.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s ruling and applied the “borrowed servant doctrine” to release the liability of other medical staff. This doctrine provides that once the surgeon enters the operating room and takes charge of the proceedings, the acts or omissions of operating room personnel, and any negligence associated with such acts or omissions, are imputable to the surgeon. While the assisting physicians and nurses may be employed by the hospital, or engaged by the patient, they normally become the temporary servants or agents of the surgeon in charge while the operation is in progress, and liability may be imposed upon the surgeon for their negligent acts under the doctrine of respondeat superior.

ISSUE: Whether CMC is vicariously liable for the negligence of Dr. Estrada as its attending independent-contractor physician considering that facts of the instant case.

 

HELD: YES.

In general, a hospital is not liable for the negligence of an independent contractor-physician. There is, however, an exception to this principle. The hospital may be liable if the physician is the “ostensible” agent of the hospital. This exception is also known as the “doctrine of apparent authority.”xxx The doctrine of apparent authority essentially involves two factors to determine the liability of an independent-contractor physician. The first factor focuses on the hospital’s manifestations and is sometimes described as an inquiry whether the hospital acted in a manner which would lead a reasonable person to conclude that the individual who was alleged to be negligent was an employee or agent of the hospital. In this regard, the hospital need not make express representations to the patient that the treating physician is an employee of the hospital; rather a representation may be general and implied. xxx The second factor focuses on the patient’s reliance. It is sometimes characterized as an inquiry on whether the plaintiff acted in reliance upon the conduct of the hospital or its agent, consistent with ordinary care and prudence.

xxx

In the instant case, CMC impliedly held out Dr. Estrada as a member of its medical staff. Through CMC’s acts, CMC clothed Dr. Estrada with apparent authority thereby leading the Spouses Nogales to believe that Dr. Estrada was an employee or agent of CMC. CMC cannot now repudiate such authority. The records show that the Spouses Nogales relied upon a perceived employment relationship with CMC in accepting Dr. Estrada’s services. Rogelio testified that he and his wife specifically chose Dr. Estrada to handle Corazon’s delivery not only because of their friend’s recommendation, but more importantly because of Dr. Estrada’s “connection with a reputable hospital, the [CMC].” In other words, Dr. Estrada’s relationship with CMC played a significant role in the Spouses Nogales’ decision in accepting Dr. Estrada’s services as the obstetrician-gynecologist for Corazon’s delivery. Moreover, as earlier stated, there is no showing that before and during Corazon’s confinement at CMC, the Spouses Nogales knew or should have known that Dr. Estrada was not an employee of CMC. xxx CMC’s defense that all it did was “to extend to [Corazon] its facilities” is untenable. The Court cannot close its eyes to the reality that hospitals, such as CMC, are in the business of treatment.

xxx

The Court finds respondent Capitol Medical Center vicariously liable for the negligence of Dr. Oscar Estrada. The amounts of P105,000 as actual damages and P700,000 as moral damages should each earn legal interest at the rate of six percent (6%) per annum computed from the date of the judgment of the trial court. The Court affirms the rest of the Decision dated 6 February 1998 and Resolution dated 21 March 2000 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 45641.

 

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Bongalon v. People, G.R. No. 169533, 20 March 2013.

[BERSAMIN, J.]

FACTS:

Jayson Dela Cruz (Jayson) and Roldan, his older brother, both minors, joined the evening procession for the Santo Niño at Oro Site in Legazpi City; that when the procession passed in front of the petitioner’s house, the latter’s daughter Mary Ann Rose, also a minor, threw stones at Jayson and called him “sissy”; that the petitioner confronted Jayson and Roldan and called them names like “strangers” and “animals”; that the petitioner struck Jayson at the back with his hand, and slapped Jayson on the face; that the petitioner then went to the brothers’ house and challenged Rolando dela Cruz, their father, to a fight, but Rolando did not come out of the house to take on the petitioner; that Rolando later brought Jayson to the Legazpi City Police Station and reported the incident; that Jayson also underwent medical treatment at the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital; that the doctors who examined Jayson issued two medical certificates attesting that Jayson suffered the following contusions, to wit: (1) contusion .5 x 2.5 scapular area, left; and (2) +1×1 cm. contusion left zygomatic area and contusion .5 x 2.33 cm. scapular area, left. The petitioner denied having physically abused or maltreated Jayson. He explained that he only talked with Jayson and Roldan after Mary Ann Rose and Cherrylyn, his minor daughters, had told him about Jayson and Roldan’s throwing stones at them and about Jayson’s burning Cherrylyn’s hair. He denied shouting invectives at and challenging Rolando to a fight, insisting that he only told Rolando to restrain his sons from harming his daughters.

 

ISSUE:

Is the accused guilty of Child Abuse under R.A. No. 7610 or Physical Injuries under the Revised Penal Code?

 

HELD:

The accused is guilty of Physical Injuries under the Revised Penal Code.

Not every instance of the laying of hands on a child constitutes the crime of child abuse under Section 10 (a) of Republic Act No. 7610. Only when the laying of hands is shown beyond reasonable doubt to be intended by the accused to debase, degrade or demean the intrinsic worth and dignity of the child as a human being should it be punished as child abuse. Otherwise, it is punished under the Revised Penal Code.

Although we affirm the factual findings of fact by the RTC and the CA to the effect that the petitioner struck Jayson at the back with his hand and slapped Jayson on the face, we disagree with their holding that his acts constituted child abuse within the purview of the above-quoted provisions. The records did not establish beyond reasonable doubt that his laying of hands on Jayson had been intended to debase the “intrinsic worth and dignity” of Jayson as a human being, or that he had thereby intended to humiliate or embarrass Jayson. The records showed the laying of hands on Jayson to have been done at the spur of the moment and in anger, indicative of his being then overwhelmed by his fatherly concern for the personal safety of his own minor daughters who had just suffered harm at the hands of Jayson and Roldan. With the loss of his self-control, he lacked that specific intent to debase, degrade or demean the intrinsic worth and dignity of a child as a human being that was so essential in the crime of child abuse.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2016 in Case Digests, Criminal Law, Legal Medicine

 

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Dr. Encarnacion Lumantas v. Hanz Calapiz, G.R. No. 163753, 15 January 2014.

[BERSAMIN, J.]

FACTS:

In 1995, Spouses Hilario Calapiz, Jr. and Herlita Calapiz brought their 8-year-old son, Hanz Calapiz (Hanz), to the Misamis Occidental Provincial Hospital, Oroquieta City, for an emergency appendectomy. Hanz was attended to by the petitioner, who suggested to the parents that Hanz also undergo circumcision at no added cost to spare him the pain. With the parents’ consent, the petitioner performed the coronal type of circumcision on Hanz after his appendectomy. On the following day, Hanz complained of pain in his penis, which exhibited blisters. His testicles were swollen. The parents noticed that the child urinated abnormally after the petitioner forcibly removed the catheter, but the petitioner dismissed the abnormality as normal. Hanz was discharged from the hospital over his parents’ protestations, and was directed to continue taking antibiotics. After a few days,  Hanz was confined in a hospital because of the abscess formation between the base and the shaft of his penis. Presuming that the ulceration was brought about by Hanz’s appendicitis, the petitioner referred him to Dr. Henry Go, an urologist, who diagnosed the boy to have a damaged urethra. Thus, Hanz underwent cystostomy, and thereafter was operated on three times to repair his damaged urethra.

When his damaged urethra could not be fully repaired and reconstructed, Hanz’s parents brought a criminal charge against the petitioner for reckless imprudence resulting to serious physical injuries. In his defense, the petitioner denied the charge. He contended that at the time of his examination of Hanz, he had found an accumulation of pus at the vicinity of the appendix two to three inches from the penis that had required immediate surgical operation; that after performing the appendectomy, he had circumcised Hanz with his parents’ consent by using a congo instrument, thereby debunking the parents’ claim that their child had been cauterized; that he had then cleared Hanz once his fever had subsided; that he had found no complications when Hanz returned for his follow up check-up; and that the abscess formation between the base and the shaft of the penis had been brought about by Hanz’s burst appendicitis.

The RTC acquitted the petitioner of the crime charged for insufficiency of the evidence. It held that the Prosecution’s evidence did not show the required standard of care to be observed by other members of the medical profession under similar circumstances. Nonetheless, the RTC ruled that the petitioner was liable for moral damages because there was a preponderance of evidence showing that Hanz had received the injurious trauma from his circumcision by the petitioner. The Petitioner appealed his case to the CA contending that he could not be held civilly liable because there was no proof of his negligence. The CA affirmed the RTC, sustaining the award of moral damages.

ISSUE:

Whether the CA erred in affirming the petitioner’s civil liability despite his acquittal of the crime of reckless imprudence resulting in serious physical injuries.

HELD:

NO.

It is axiomatic that every person criminally liable for a felony is also civilly liable. xxx Our law recognizes two kinds of acquittal, with different effects on the civil liability of the accused. First is an acquittal on the ground that the accused is not the author of the act or omission complained of. This instance closes the door to civil liability, for a person who has been found to be not the perpetrator of any act or omission cannot and can never be held liable for such act or omission. There being no delict, civil liability ex delicto is out of the question, and the civil action, if any, which may be instituted must be based on grounds other than the delict complained of. This is the situation contemplated in Rule 111 of the Rules of Court. The second instance is an acquittal based on reasonable doubt on the guilt of the accused. In this case, even if the guilt of the accused has not been satisfactorily established, he is not exempt from civil liability which may be proved by preponderance of evidence only.

The petitioner’s contention that he could not be held civilly liable because there was no proof of his negligence deserves scant consideration. The failure of the Prosecution to prove his criminal negligence with moral certainty did not forbid a finding against him that there was preponderant evidence of his negligence to hold him civilly liable. With the RTC and the CA both finding that Hanz had sustained the injurious trauma from the hands of the petitioner on the occasion of or incidental to the circumcision, and that the trauma could have been avoided, the Court must concur with their uniform findings. In that regard, the Court need not analyze and weigh again the evidence considered in the proceedings a quo. The Court, by virtue of its not being a trier of facts, should now accord the highest respect to the factual findings of the trial court as affirmed by the CA in the absence of a clear showing by the petitioner that such findings were tainted with arbitrariness, capriciousness or palpable error.

Every person is entitled to the physical integrity of his body. Although we have long advocated the view that any physical injury, like the loss or diminution of the use of any part of one’s body, is not equatable to a pecuniary loss, and is not susceptible of exact monetary estimation, civil damages should be assessed once that integrity has been violated. The assessment is but an imperfect estimation of the true value of one’s body. The usual practice is to award moral damages for the physical injuries sustained. In Hanz’s case, the undesirable outcome of the circumcision performed by the petitioner forced the young child to endure several other procedures on his penis in order to repair his damaged urethra. Surely, his physical and moral sufferings properly warranted the amount of P50,000.00 awarded as moral damages.

Many years have gone by since Hanz suffered the injury. Interest of 6% per annum should then be imposed on the award as a sincere means of adjusting the value of the award to a level that is not only reasonable but just and commensurate. Unless we make the adjustment in the permissible manner by prescribing legal interest on the award, his sufferings would be unduly compounded. For that purpose, the reckoning of interest should be from the filing of the criminal information on April 17, 1997, the making of the judicial demand for the liability of the petitioner.

 

 

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Ang Tek Lian v. Court of Appeals [G.R. No. L-2516. September 25, 1950]

FACTS

Petitioner drew a check payable to the order of “cash” knowing that he had no funds. He delivered it in exchange of money. Petitioner was found guilty of estafa, but petitioner argued that the check had not been indorsed by him, hence, he should not be held guilty thereof.

ISSUE

Whether or not indorsement is necessary to negotiate a check payable to the order of “cash”.

RULING

NO. Indorsement is no longer necessary. Under the Negotiable Instruments Law (Sec. 9 [d]), a check drawn payable to the order of “cash” is a check payable to bearer, and the bank may pay it to the person presenting it for payment without the drawer’s indorsement. Being a bearer instrument, negotiation may be done by mere delivery of the instrument.

 

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