COLINARES vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES
The accused Arnel Colinares (Arnel) was charged with frustrated homicide before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of San Jose, Camarines Sur. On June 25, 2000, Rufino on their way to the store together with his wife, Arnel sneaked behind and struck Rufino twice on the head with a huge stone and suffered two lacerated wounds on the forehead, along the hairline area. The doctor testified that these injuries were serious and potentially fatal but Rufino chose to go home after initial treatment. The RTC rendered judgment, finding Arnel guilty beyond reasonable doubt of frustrated homicide and sentenced him to suffer imprisonment from two years and four months of prision correccional, as minimum, to six years and one day of prision mayor, as maximum. Since the maximum probationable imprisonment under the law was only up to six years, Arnel did not qualify for probation. Arnel appealed to the Court of Appeals (CA), invoking self-defense and, alternatively, seeking conviction for the lesser crime of attempted homicide with the consequent reduction of the penalty imposed on him. The CA entirely affirmed the RTC decision.
Whether or not, Arnel is entitled to conviction for a lower offense and a reduced probationable penalty and may still apply for probation on remand of the case to the trial court.
Yes, the Supreme Court finds Arnel guilty only of the lesser crime of attempted homicide.With this new penalty, it would be but fair to allow him the right to apply for probation upon remand of the case to the RTC. Here, however, Arnel did not appeal from a judgment that would have allowed him to apply for probation. He did not have a choice between appeal and probation. He was not in a position to say, "By taking this appeal, I choose not to apply for probation." The stiff penalty that the trial court imposed on him denied him that choice. Thus, a ruling that would allow Arnel to now seek probation under this Court’s greatly diminished penalty will not dilute the sound ruling in Francisco. It remains that those who will appeal from judgments of conviction, when they have the option to try for probation, forfeit their right to apply for that privilege. Besides, in appealing his case, Arnel raised the issue of correctness of the penalty imposed on him. He claimed that the evidence at best warranted his conviction only for attempted, not frustrated, homicide, which crime called for a probationable penalty. In a way, therefore, Arnel sought from the beginning to bring down the penalty to the level where the law would allow him to apply for probation. In a real sense, the Court’s finding that Arnel was guilty, not of frustrated homicide, but only of attempted homicide, is an original conviction that for the first time imposes on him a probationable penalty. Had the RTC done him right from the start, it would have found him guilty of the correct offense and imposed on him the right penalty of two years and four months maximum. This would have afforded Arnel the right to apply for probation.