Tuesday, January 31, 2012

People vs. Pagal

Facts: Accused-appellants Pagal and Torcellino were charged with the crime of robbery with homicide, with the generic aggravating circumstances of nightime purposely sought to better accomplish their criminal design; evident premeditation; in disregard of the respect due the offended party; and with abuse of confidence, the accused being then employees of the offended party. When the case was called for arraignment, the accused entered a plea of guilty but they were allowed afterwards to prove the mitigating circumstances of sufficient provocation or threat on the part of the offended party immediately preceding the act, and that of having acted upon an impulse so powerful as to produce passion and obfuscation. The RTC, after considering the 4 aggravating circumstances and mitigating circumstance of only plea of guilt, found them guilty of the crime charged, sentencing them with the penalty of death. The case was elevated to the SC by virtue of the mandatory review on account of the penalty of death imposed on the accused.

Issue: Whether or not the RTC erred in not appreciating in favor of the accused the mitigating circumstances of (1) sufficient provocation and (2) passion or obfuscation.

Held: NO, the RTC is correct. As a rule, two or more mitigating circumstances arising from the same act cannot be considered as separate and distinct circumstances but should be treated as one. Thus, in this case, the mitigating circumstance of sufficient provocation cannot be considered because the alleged provocation which caused the obfuscation arose from the same incident, which is the alleged maltreatment and/or ill-treatment caused by the victims towards the accused-appellants.

As to the circumstance of passion and obfuscation, it cannot be treated as mitigating if the crime involved was planned and calmly meditated before its execution, such as in this case of robbery where the appellants are expected to have carefully planned its execution. Thus, in People vs. Daos, a case of robbery with homicide, this Court rejected the claim of the appellants therein that passion and obfuscation should have been estimated in their favor, because the death of the victim therein took place on the occasion of a robbery, which, before its execution, had been planned and calmly meditated by the appellants.

Finally, the maltreatment that appellants claim the victim to have committed against them occurred much earlier than the date of the commission of the crime. Provocation in order to be a mitigating circumstance must be sufficient and immediately proceeding the act. We hold that the trial court did not commit any error in not appreciating the said mitigating circumstances in favor of the appellants.

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