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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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