Criminal Law,  Legally Yours

People v. Foncardas

People v. Foncardas

People of the Philippines v. Ranil Duetes (at large), Basilio Quijada @ “Kokoy” (at large), Reyman Foncardas & Ritchie Dequina
G.R. No. 144598 February 6, 2004
Carpio-Morales, J.

FACTS:

Appellant, together with Ranil Duetes, Basilio Quijada alias “Kokoy” and Ritchie Dequiña, was indicted for murder (qualified by treachery and evident premeditation). After having a drinking spree at a videoke Duetes, Quijada, Dequiña, Marco Mariaca (Mariaca) and appellant (the group) walked some 50 meters to the corner of Trading Boulevard, where it stayed for five minutes. Realizing that it had run out of cigarettes, the group proceeded to Carol’s Store, but returned to the corner of Trading Boulevard, to sit, smoke and while the time away. Soon after, the victim who had just purchased a bottle of Coke from Carol’s Store repaired to the corner of Trading Boulevard, where he bought balut from a vendor. About 5 meters away from the group, the victim ate balut and drank the coke. Quijada then approached the victim, and the two started talking while Duetes, Dequiña, Mariaca, and appellant just watched and smoked.

Minutes later, Duetes approached the victim and Quijada and sat down behind the two. Not long after, Quijada was heard shouting something in the Visayan dialect, allegedly angered by the victim’s not acceding to his demands for money. Without any warning, Duetes pulled the victim from behind, causing the latter to fall down on his back. Appellant and Dequiña rushed to join their companions Duetes and Quijada. Apparently, the victim was able to rise. Appellant, Quijada, Duetes, and Dequiña, however, pummeled him with their fists while Mariaca looked on in shock and disbelief. The mauling of the victim continued even as Quijada left the scene momentarily. When Quijada returned bearing a piece of wood about two and a half feet long, appellant and Duetes who were standing behind the victim, held the latter, rendering him helpless, as Quijada struck the victim’s nape with the piece of wood. The victim fell down after being struck. Duetes then told Mariaca, who was merely looking at his companions, to run. Mariaca did as he was told and immediately ran away from the scene.

ISSUE:

Should the circumstance of drinking be appreciated as an aggravating or mitigating circumstance in this case?

HELD:

No. Although Mariaca testified that appellant and his co-accused had been drinking before the mauling of the victim, that does not suffice to aggravate or mitigate appellant’s criminal liability. The trial court could not have appreciated intoxication – appellant’s drinking beer – as an aggravating circumstance, therefore, as the same was not alleged in the information. Even assuming that the aggravating circumstance of intoxication was alleged, appellant’s degree of intoxication was not proven with certainty. Moreover, in the absence of clear and positive proof that appellant’s intoxication was habitual or subsequent to the plan to commit the crime, it is improper to consider the same as an aggravating circumstance.

Neither could appellant’s alleged intoxication be appreciated as a mitigating circumstance. To be mitigating, it is necessary that appellant present proof of having taken a quantity of alcoholic beverage prior to the commission of the crime sufficient to produce the effect of obfuscating reason. At the same time, he must prove that he is not a habitual drinker and that he did not take the alcoholic drink purposely to reinforce his resolve to commit the crime. In the absence then of clear and positive proof as to appellant’s state of intoxication, this Court cannot consider appellant’s drinking beer as a mitigating circumstance.

In fine, appellant is indeed guilty of murder, penalized under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 7569. There being neither mitigating nor aggravating circumstance, the lesser penalty of reclusion perpetua was correctly imposed by the trial court, pursuant to Article 63(2) of the Revised Penal Code.

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