Criminal Law,  Legally Yours

Sabay v. People

Criminal Law. Self-defense as justifying circumstance.
Federico Sabay v. People of the Philippines
G.R. No. 192150, October 1, 2014
Brion, J.:

FACTS:
The petitioner Federico Sabay was charged with two counts of Slight Physical Injuries. The RTC affirmed the MTC’s ruling convicting the petitioner of the crime. The CA likewise affirmed RTC’s decision.

Records show that petitioner and his daughter, Erlinda, were laying woods and water pipes in the yard of Godofredo Lopez. When the latter confronted the petitioner about his intrusion, a verbal altercation ensued between them. In the course of the verbal exchange, Erlinda hit Godofredo on the head with a hard object. The petitioner joined in by throwing a stone at Godofredo’s face. The petitioner and Erlinda then shouted at Godofredo and threatened to kill him. Immediately thereafter, Jervie Lopez came and pacified the three. But in the course of his efforts, he was hit in the hand with a bolo.

Petitioner denies the charge and claims that he only acted in self-defense alleging that Godofredo suddenly hit him with an iron bar in his right hand, causing him injuries and that Godofredo’s son fired a .38 caliber gun at him.

ISSUE:
Is the claim of self-defense valid in this case?

HELD:
NO, the claim of self-defense cannot prosper because the petitioner did not substantiate it with clear and convincing proof. Self-defense as a justifying circumstance under Article 11 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, implies the admission by the accused that he committed the acts that would have been criminal in character had it not been for the presence of circumstances whose legal consequences negate the commission of a crime. The plea of self-defense in order to exculpate the accused must be duly proven. The most basic rule is that no self-defense can be recognized until unlawful aggression is established.

In this case, the petitioner admitted the acts attributed to him and only pleads that he acted in self-defense. His case essentially rests on the existence of unlawful aggression – that Godofredo hit him with an iron bar on his right hand. The petitioner, however, failed to substantiate his claimed self-defense because he did not even present any medical certificate as supporting evidence, notwithstanding his claim that he consulted a doctor. Nor did he ever present the doctor he allegedly consulted. His contention, too, that he was attacked by Godofredo and was shot with a .38 caliber gun by Jessie was refuted by the prosecution eyewitnesses – Rodolfo and Dina – who both testified that it was the petitioner who had attacked Godofredo.

Hence, the petitioner has not successfully proved self-defense as a justifying circumstance thus his criminal liability remains.

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