people vs. corpuz

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  • EN BANC[G.R. No. L-36234. February 10, 1981.]

    THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plainti-appellee, vs. ROMEOCORPUZ, HERNANIE SOTO, DANILO CHICO, PABLITO ABASULA,ROGELIO CORPUZ, REYNALDO GODOY, RICARDO MABALOT,VICTOR BANGAYAN, FELIPE ALCERA, and MIGUEL CORO ,defendants-appellants.

    Melanio T. Singson for defendants-appellants.Acting Solicitor General Conrado T. Limcaoco, Assistant Solicitor General

    Guillermo C. Nakar, Jr. and Solicitor Celia Lipana-Reyes for plaintiff-appellee.

    SYNOPSIS

    Appellant prisoners at the New Bilibid Prison, were charged with murder andfrustrated murder for the killing of two prisoners and the physical injuries inictedon three other as a consequence of a stabbing incident between the two rivalgroups. One of the death victims suered three stab wound while the othersustained two. All the accused pleaded not guilty and later repudiated theirextrajudicial confessions for having allegedly been extracted under duress. In thecourse of the trial, however, four accused changed their pleas to that of guilty andassumed sole responsibility for the stabbings. The trial court gave weight to theextrajudicial confessions and upon a nding of conspiracy found all the accusedguilty as charged and sentenced them to the maximum penalty of death as quasi-recidivists for the crime of murder, and to indeterminate sentences for thefrustrated murders.On automatic review, the Supreme Court ruled out the presence of conspiracy theextrajudicial confession on which it could solely be inferred showed indications ofnot being spontaneous; and held, that the crimes committed were murder and twoless serious and one slight physical injuries for which the four accused who pleadedguilty were held liable, but sentenced them only to reclusion perpetua for themurder for lack of evidence to show quasi-recidivism. three other accused werefound guilty only of slight injuries while the three others were acquitted.Judgment modified.

    SYLLABUS

    1. constitutional law; bill of rights; RIGHT OF ACCUSED TO BE INFORMED OFTHE NATURE OF CHARGES AGAINST THEM; CLAIM OF DENIAL THEREOF NEGATEDBY CIRCUMSTANCES IN INSTANT CASE. The submission of the defendants that

  • they were sentenced to death without having been previously informed of thenature of the charges against them and of the qualifying and aggravatingcircumstances recited in the information merit. They charged their plea to guiltyonly after the prosecution had rested its case. They were, therefore, fully apprisednot only of the allegations in the information but of the entire evidence of theprosecution. Moreover, it appears of record that the trial court called of thedefendants to the gravity of the charges. The defendants changed their plea of notguilty assisted by counsel and fully aware of the consequences.2. REMEDIAL LAW; EVIDENCE; FIVE WOUNDS SUSTAINED BY TWO MURDERVICTIMS COULD NOT HAVE BEEN INFLICTED BY TEN PERSONS. It is clear thatonly the four (4) defendants who pleaded guilty can be convicted of the fatalstabbing of Rodolfo Legaspi and Antonio Silva. The National Bureau of Investigationphysician testied that Rodolfo Legaspi sustained three (3) stab wounds; that saidwounds could not have been inicted by more than three (3) persons; and thatAntonio Silva sustained two (2) wounds which could not have been inicted bymore than two (2) persons. Said doctor also declared that the stab woundssustained by Rodolfo Legaspi could have been inflicted by one person and that it wasvery dicult, if not impossible that the ve (5) wounds sustained by Legaspi andSilva were inflicted by ten (10) persons.3. ID.; ID.; PROOF OF CONSPIRACY; NOT SUFFICIENT IN CASE AT BAR. Theprosecution has failed to prove the existence of conspiracy in the case at bar. Thereis no competent evidence of record to show that all the defendants previouslyagreed to kill Rodolfo Legaspi and Antonio Silva. Conspiracy can only be deducedfrom the alleged confessions of the six (6) defendants. These alleged confessions,however, are not sucient to establish conspiracy, it appearing that the same havebeen repudiated and there are several indications that said confession were givenunder duress.4. ID.; ID.; EXTRAJUDICIAL CONFESSIONS; INDICATIONS SHOWING NON-SPONTANEITY; CASE AT BAR. There are indications to show that the confession inthe case at bar are not spontaneous. the following circumstances show that theextrajudicial confessions were obtained through force and intimidation: (a) Theconfessions are short and bereft of details. The omission of important details of thealleged plan to stab the rival gang members militates against voluntariness andcasts doubt in the nding of the trial court that the confession were made freely. (b)The defendants, Romeo Corpuz, Rogelio Corpuz, Reynaldo Godoy, Ricardo Mabalot,Pablito Abasula and Miguel Coro, all admitted that each one of them stabbedRodolfo Legaspi. However, Dr. Ricardo Ibarrola of the National Bureau ofInvestigation testied that Rodolfo Legaspi sustained only three (3) stab wounds. Itis clear that the admissions of the six (6) defendants that each of them stabbedRodolfo Legaspi is not true. (c) The prosecution witness, Abraham de las Alas, aprison of the New Bilibid prisons, failed to investigate the defendants Miguel Coro,Reynaldo Godoy and Hermanie Soto at 9:00 o'clock in the morning when they werebrought to the Investigation Section. The prison authorities investigated them onlyat 10:50 o'clock in the evening of the same date. There is reason to believe thatbetween 9:00 o'clock in the morning to 10:50 o'clock in the evening, said

  • defendants were maltreated and intimidated.5. ID.; ID.; ADMISSION MAY BE TAKEN IN FAVOR OF CO-DEFENDANTS. Theadmission of four defendants that they were the only ones who stabbed rodolfoLegaspi and Antonio Silva and wounding, Fajartin and Fuentes and Arciaga shouldnot have been rejected by the trial court as evidence in favor of their co-defendants.Mere comradeship and gang loyalty could not have been induced the fourdefendants for a crime that may result in their being sentenced to death. Theadmission of said defendants of responsibility are highly contrary to their interest.Hence, there is no reason to doubt the veracity thereof. The said admissions shouldat least crate a serious doubt on the guilt of their co-accused that he alonecommitted the crime is a circumstance that may be taken to engender doubt as tothe alleged guilt of the other accused.6. CRIMINAL LAW; MURDER; MAXIMUM PENALTY OF DEATH UNDER ARTICLE160 OF REVISED PENAL CODE NOT IMPOSABLE IN ABSENCE OF PROOF TO SHOWPRESENCE OF QUASI-RECIDIVISM. The trial court cannot apply Article 160 of theRevised Penal code and impose the maximum penalty of death upon the defendantswho were found guilty of murder where the decisions of the court convicting theaccused which have been allegedly become nal were not presented as evidence;where no commitment papers showing that the said defendants have beencommitted to the National Penitentiary by virtue of the court's nal decision werepresented as proof; and where there is a showing that some of the defendants havepending appeals7. ID.; DEATH IN A TUMULTUOUS AFFRAY; NOT A CASE OF WHERE QUARREL ISBETWEEN TWO WELL-KNOWN GROUPS. There is no crime of death in atumultuous aray if there was no confusion and the quarrel between two well-known groups.8. ID.; SLIGHT PHYSICAL INJURIES; ELEMENTS THEREOF PRESENT AT BAR. The defendants who inicted the injuries on Fajartin can only be liable for slightphysical injuries because the wounds inicted healed within a period of nine (9)days; the intent to kill was not proven; and there is no evidence that the victimwould have died if there was no timely medical attendance.9. REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; PROOF BEYOND REASONABLEDOUBT; LACK THEREOF MERITS ACQUITTAL; CASE AT BAR. Where there is nocompetent evidence that the three (3) of the ten (10) accused participated in thestabbing of the victims, and where the presence of conspiracy has not beensuciently shown, these three accused should be acquitted of the crimes charged inthe information.MAKASIAR, J., dissenting opinion 1. CRIMINAL LAW; COMPLEX CRIME OF DOUBLE MURDER AND FRUSTRATEDMURDER; NOT A CASE OF UNDER CIRCUMSTANCES IN CASE AT BAR. Theappellants should be convicted, not of the complex crime of double murder andfrustrated murder, but of two separate murders and of three separate crimes of

  • attempted homicide, because they killed the two victims separate and withseparate weapons, and inicted wounds on the three victims of attempted homicideseparately and with dierent lethal weapons, although their injuries were not fatal.In the case of the three attempted homicide, the intent to kill is patent from thedeadly weapons they used.2. ID.; ID.; ID.; SINGLE PURPOSE OR SINGLE MOTIVATION DOES NOT QUALIFYFIRST HALF OF ARTICLE 48. Single purpose or single motivation does not qualifythe rst half of Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code (People vs. Pineda. L-2622, 20SCRA 754, July 21, 1967). Justice Makasiar reiterates his dissent in People vs.Pingcale, et al., (L-38753) thus: "Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code states that'when a single act (not a single purpose) constitute two or more grave felonies . . .,the penalty for the most serious crimes shall be imposed, the same to be applied inits maximum period' (italic supplied). The basis for the legal conclusion in themajority opinion is the single motivation or single purpose, which is not justied bythe phraseology of the laws as aforequoted. Terrorists have one single purpose. toterrorize. If the terrorists kill several persons separately with dierent rearms orsharp instruments, under the majority opinion, the terrorists can only be guilty ofthe complex crime of multiple murder. Or if the members of an arson syndicate, bypre-arranged signals, set re to several buildings at the same time and killing all theinmates therein,