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People vs. Recto
G.R. No.129069, October 17, 2001
On April 18, 1994, early afternoon, while SPO4 Rafol and SPO1 Male were leaving the premises, the group of appellant Julio Recto arrived. Barangay Captain Orbe advised them not to create trouble, but Dante Regis pulled a piece of wood and threw it towards them. Thereafter, appellant Recto, while holding a balisong or fan knife, approached Barangay Captain Orbe. The latter responded by telling the former to surrender the balisong. Appellant stepped backward, opened his jacket and pulled out a gun. Upon seeing the gun, Barangay Captain Orbe retreated, while Barangay Kagawad Antonio Macalipay stepped forward with both arms raised and uttered the words: 'Do not do it. We'll just settle this.' Julio Recto, however, immediately pulled the trigger, hitting Barangay Kagawad Macalipay, causing him to fall down on the ground. Then Cornelio Regis, Jr. approached the fallen Macalipay and flipped his bolo at the latter who rolled and fell into the rice paddy. Melchor Recto saw the shooting from his hiding place behind a concrete pillar. He then ran inside the old dilapidated bathroom of the bodega. Barangay Captain Orbe also followed. Inside the bathroom, Melchor Recto peeped through the window and saw appellant Recto fire his gun at Emilio Santos. Santos also fired his revolver at appellant and later, turned around and crawled. While crawling, Santos fired another shot towards Regis, Jr., but the latter was able to reach and hack the former with a bolo. When Melchor could no longer see Julio Recto, he jumped out of the bathroom window and ran. While running, Julio Recto shot him hitting the latter's thigh. Barangay Captain Orbe also got out of the bathroom through the top and landed onto the ricefield. Before he could take a step, he was also shot by appellant Julio Recto at his right elbow, but was still able to continue running and cross the southern portion of the ricefield. He caught up with the wounded Melchor Recto and both went their separate ways. On the other hand, both Barangay Kagawad Antonio Macalipay and Emiliano 'Renato' Santos died due to multiple wounds inflicted on them by herein appellant.
Whether or not the lower court erred in finding the accused-appellant guilty of direct assault in Criminal Case Nos. 1970 and 1972 which accordingly resulted in his being convicted of complex crimes in those cases
Yes. First, in Criminal Case No. 1970. Direct assault, a crime against public order, may be committed in two ways. One of which is by any person or persons who, without a public uprising, "shall attack, employ force, or seriously intimidate or resist any person in authority or any of his agents, while engaged in the performance of official duties, or on occasion of such performance.” One way to aggravate this mode is when the offender lays a hand upon a person in authority. In this case, Melchor Recto was clearly an agent of a person in authority. Unquestionably, he was a barangay chief tanod; however, at the crime scene he was a mere bystander. Apparently, he was not acting and had no occasion to act in the performance of his official duties that afternoon. Thus, the attack on him did not amount to direct assault. Thus, appellant's liability amounted only to attempted, not frustrated, homicide. Appellant shall be convicted of attempted homicide. Second, in Criminal Case No. 1972. The court erred in finding the presence of the qualifying circumstance of treachery. Evidently, the victim had all the opportunity to escape or defend himself from the aggression that was to ensue, yet chose not to grab the opportunity and instead placed himself in a position more open to attack. Equally important, his vulnerable position had not been deliberately sought by appellant. It was thrust on the latter by the former himself. In short, appellant did not deliberately choose the mode of attack to kill the victim with impunity and without risk to himself. Absent treachery, the killing is homicide, not murder. Appellant shall be convicted of qualified direct assault with homicide aggravated by the use of a weapon.
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