Republic of the Philippines
G.R. No. L-37 | May 25, 1946
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
VICTORINO BORBANO, defendant-appellant.
Cornelio M. Orteza for appellant.
First Assistant Solicitor General Reyes and Solicitor Lacson for appellee.
DE JOYA, J.:
Defendant and appellant Victorino Borbano was accused of homicide in an information filed in the Court of First Instance of Samar, charging that on March 8, 1945, in the municipality of Calbayog, Province of Samar, said accused willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, without just motive and with the express purpose to kill one Leoncio Castillano, assaulted, attacked and stabbed the latter with a knife, inflicting upon him a wound on the left chest which caused his death.
After the trial of the case, the defendant was found guilty of the crime charged and, on July 20, 1945, was sentenced to an indeterminate penalty, ranging from six (6) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as minimum, to fourteen (14) years and eight (8) months of reclusion temporal, as maximum, to the accessory penalties prescribed by law, to indemnify the heirs of the deceased in the sum of P2,000, and to pay the costs, at the same time giving him the benefit of one-half (1/2) of the preventive imprisonment already suffered.
From said decision, the defendant has appealed, alleging (1) that the trial court had erred in admitting the medical certificate, marked as Exhibit A, which was signed by a certain Dr. Fred E. Spangler, who attended the deceased prior to his death, as part of the testimony of Dr. Irineo T. Ortiz; and (2) in finding said defendant guilty of the crime of homicide, notwithstanding the insufficiency of the evidence for the prosecution to establish his guilt, beyond reasonable doubt.
At the trial of the case, the prosecution presented three (3) eyewitnesses, namely, Gavino Layam, Demetrio Layam and Eustaquia Jablon, mother of the deceased, as well as the testimony of two physicians, namely, Dr. Irineo T. Ortiz and Dr. Anatolio Dasmariñas; and the documents marked as Exhibits A and B.
On the other hand, the defendant presented only one witness, namely, Teodosia Balolong, his wife, and his own testimony.
The witnesses for the prosecution have testified to the following facts: That in the afternoon of March 8, 1945, the deceased Leoncio Castillano, Gavino Layam and Demetrio Layam, among others, were in the house of the defendant Victorino Borbano, for the purpose of playing a certain game called “cara-cara” in the locality, and while there they also drank tuba; that defendant and one Fortunato Malaboza played the game, and the latter left, after having won; that defendant, who was drunk at the time, became angry and seized a scythe and asked Leoncio Castillano if he was angry at him, for having killed Leon Samplingan, Leoncio’s cousin; that on account of fear, Leoncio left the house of the accused, and ran to his (Leoncio’s) mother’s house, pursued by the defendant; that on reaching his mother’s house, Leoncio Castillano armed himself with a piece of wood and told the accused that both of them should drop their respective weapons, but the accused refused to do it, and the two grappled for the possession of the scythe, and the deceased succeeded in seizing the scythe; that witness Gavino Layam tried to pacify the two, but instead of calming down, defendant started to go back to his house, evidently to get another weapon, and seeing that Demetrio Layam had a bolo, tried to seize it, but due to the resistance offered by Demetrio, the accused could not take it; that defendant went back to his house and returned with a bolo which the deceased again succeeded in taking away from him; but the accused went back again to his house and got a fan knife, which he carried secretly, and then return to the place where Leoncio Castillano was, and on seeing him put his left armed around the left shoulder of Leoncio, saying — “We have no more quarrel; you may now go home,” or words to that effect. And Leoncio being thus off guard, the accused all of a sudden stabbed him with his fan knife on the left side of the breast, inflicting around him a wound three (3) centimeters deep, involving the left lung and the heart, which produced pneumonia, from which he died on March 15, 1945.
The facts stated above have been substantially established by Gavino Layam, Demetrio Layam, Eustaquia Jablon, mother of the deceased, and Drs. Irineo T. Ortiz, and Anatolio Dasmarinas, who testified for the prosecution.
On the other hand, defendant and his wife testified that about 5 o’clock in the afternoon of the day in question, while defendant was in his house holding a scythe and a receptacle for distilling tuba, Leoncio Castillano came and invited him to play; that defendant refused, saying that they were not adversaries and besides he did not know how to play; that on the count of defendant’s refusal to play, the deceased attempted to snatch away his scythe, and in the struggle for the possession of the scythe, the accused received wounds in the upper part of the abdomen, in the left forearm, and also at the base of the forefinger of the right hand; that not satisfied with this, the deceased insisted in going up the house of the accused to attack him; that the accused tried to prevent him from doing so, pushing him down three (3) times from the stairway of the house, telling him at the same time to stop, as the accused was already wounded; that the deceased persisted in his attempt to go up the house, and to prevent him from doing so, the accused took his fan knife and wounded the deceased, who at the time was armed with a piece of wood with which he had been trying to give the accused a blow, and which the accused prevented with his fan knife; and that, having been wounded, the deceased left the place running, and that when the incident happened, nobody was present as Gavino Layam and Demetrio Layam arrived afterwards. It also appears that defendant and appellant surrendered himself to the authorities immediately after the stabbing.
The facts stated above were testified to by the defendant himself and his wife Teodosia Balolong. No other witness was called to testify for the defense.
A cursory examination of the evidence submitted by the parties will readily show, among other things, (1) that, according to the accused and his wife, the whole incident took place in their house; whereas, according to the witnesses for the prosecution, although the incident began in the house of the accused, the greater part thereof took place in the yard of the house of the mother of the deceased; (2) that, according to the accused and his wife, the deceased had already been wounded, when Demetrio Layam and Gavino Layam arrived; but these two witnesses for the prosecution have flatly contradicted them; and (3) that the defendant himself, in his testimony given at the preliminary investigation, stated positively that Demetrio Layam, Gavino Layam, Teodosia Balolong and Eustaquia Jablon were present at the place when the deceased and himself fought.
After a careful consideration of the positive testimony given by the witnesses for the prosecution, which is in open contradiction with that given by the defendant and his wife, the learned trial judge, before whom all of said witnesses testified, and who had the opportunity to observe their conduct and demeanor on the witness stand, accepted as more reliable and trustworthy the evidence submitted by the prosecution.
Dr. Irineo T. Ortiz, government health officer in Calbayog, positively stated that the deceased died from pneumonia, as a consequence of the stab wound involving the left lung and heart of the deceased, which caused his death on March 9, 1945, as shown by the medical certificate issued by Maj. Fred E. Spangler, Medical Corps, U. S. Army, who treated the deceased before his death, and who had already left the Province of Samar, at the time of the trial of the case.
Gavino Layam and Demetrio Layam, who have fully corroborated the testimony of Eustaquia Jablon, mother of the deceased, appear to be disinterested witnesses, and no reason has been advanced to show why they should have testified falsely against the accused; and their testimony should, therefore, be given full force and effect. The absence of evidence as to an improper motive actuating the principal witnesses for the prosecution strongly tends to sustain the conclusion that no such improper existed, and that their testimony is worthy of full faith and credit. (United States vs. Pajarillo, 19 Phil., 228; People vs. De Otero, 51 Phil., 201.)
After an examination of the evidence, the Court considers more acceptable, coherent and reasonable the evidence adduced by the witnesses for the prosecution than the testimony given by the accused and his wife; specially if we consider the fact that the principal witnesses for the prosecution are disinterested witnesses, whereas those for the defense are biased. In weighing contradictory declarations and statements, greater weight must generally be given to the positive testimony of the witnesses for the prosecution than to the denials of the defendant. (United States vs. Bueno, 41 Phil., 447.) And it has been repeatedly held that the Supreme Court would not disturb the findings of fact made by the trial court as to the credibility of witnesses, in view of their opportunity to observe the conduct and demeanor of the witnesses while testifying, and that their findings will generally be accepted and acted upon. (People vs. De Asis, 61 Phil., 384; People vs. Garcia, 63 Phil., 296; People vs. Masin, 64 Phil., 757.) In the instant case, there is absolutely no cause or reason appearing in the record to warrant a departure from such findings, and they must therefore be fully accepted. (People vs. Istoris, 53 Phil., 91.)
The claim of self-defense made by the accused is too flimsy and fantastic, and does not deserve serious consideration on the part of the Court. In a prosecution for homicide, in order that the defendant may be exempt from criminal responsibility, the degree of proof of the facts constituting the exemption, such as self-defense, must be sufficient, satisfactory and convincing. (United States vs. Mallari, 29 Phil., 14; United States vs. Guendia, 37 Phil., 337.).
The record shows that defendant and appellant surrendered to the authorities immediately after the incident, and it should be considered as a mitigating circumstance in his favor. On the other hand, it has also been sufficiently established that, in stabbing the deceased, defendant and appellant acted with treachery; and although treachery has not been alleged either as a qualifying or aggravating circumstance in the information, inasmuch as it has been satisfactorily established, it may be properly considered as an aggravating circumstance, to compensate the mitigating circumstance above mentioned. (United States vs. Campo, 23 Phil., 368, 369.) In a criminal case, an appeal to the Supreme Court throws the whole case open for review, and it becomes the duty of the Court to correct such errors as may be found in the judgment appealed from, whether they are made the subjects of assignments of error or not. (People vs. Olfindo, 47 Phil., 1.)
The admission of the medical certificate, marked as Exhibit A, issued by Maj. Fred E. Spangler, of the Medical Corps, U. S. Army, is a non-prejudicial error. There is not the least doubt that deceased Leoncio Castillano died from the wound inflicted upon him by defendant and appellant, who must be held responsible for the natural consequences of his unlawful act. (United States vs. Escalana, 12 Phil., 54; United States vs. Baoit, 15 Phil., 338.)
In view of the foregoing, it is evident that the guilt of the defendant and appellant of the crime of homicide, as alleged in the information, has been sufficiently established by the evidence, beyond reasonable doubt; and there having concurred in the commission of the offense one mitigating circumstance and an aggravating circumstance, which compensate one another, the corresponding penalty should be imposed in its medium degree; and, in accordance with the provisions of section 1 of the Indeterminate Sentence Law (Act No. 4103), as amended, in connection with those of article 249 of the Revised Penal Code, defendant and appellant Victorino Borbano is, therefore, sentenced to an indeterminate penalty, ranging from eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as minimum, to fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months and one (1) day of reclusion temporal, as maximum, with the accessory penalties prescribed by law, to indemnify the heirs of the deceased in the sum of P2,000, and to pay the costs. Defendant and appellant shall also be given the benefit of one-half (1/2) of the preventive imprisonment suffered by him. Thus modified, the decision appealed from is hereby affirmed. So ordered.
Ozaeta, Perfecto, Hilado, and Bengzon, JJ., concur.