Thursday, February 23, 2012

People vs. Abagon [11 SCRA 255 (1988)]

Facts: On April 17, 1981, while Cells Lupango and his companions were celebrating the birthday of Isabelo Radaza Jr., Abner Ongonion and Mateo Abagon arrived. Ongonion, with a six-inched double-bladed knife stabbed Cells Lupango 3 or 4 times. Abagon also stabbed Lupango several times with a seven-inch knife. While Lupango was carried out, Ongonion, who was waiting outside, drew his firearm and fired two shots at Lupango and his companions to scare them off. When they ran away, Ongonion, Abagon and their companions approached and took turns in stabbing the body of Celis Lupango with bolos and knives. 

Issues: 
(1) Whether or not Ongonion and Abagon are guilty of murder 

(2) Whether or not conspiracy can be established 

Held: 
(1) Yes. Having admitted the killing, Ongonion must clearly establish that he acted in self-defense. However, the number and nature of the stab wounds inflicted by more than one person belie his theory. According to testimonies, the attack by the assailants was unprovoked. It was also indicated that the stabbing was intentional. It is also negated by the physical evidence and other circumstances, such as his failure to present the knife upon surrender, his failure to tell the police authorities that he killed the deceased in self-defense, and the absence of any injury on the body of Ongonion. Not one of the elements of self-defense is present. Appellant Ongonion's theory of self-defense is therefore untenable. Minor inconsistencies in the testimony of prosecution witnesses do not affect their credibility. 

Appellant Abagon's defense was likewise untenable, since it can be proved that it was not physically impossible for him to be at the scene of the crime 

(2) Yes. Appellants fully concurred in their actions. They came to the victim one after the other and attacked him with undiverted purpose. They also left together. That the assailants acted in concerted efforts with community of criminal purpose to ensure the death of the victim is indicative of conspiracy between them. Even if conspiracy had not been established, the liability of the two appellants would not change for each inflicted on his own, multiple stabbing blows on the victim resulting in mortal injuries. They acted as principals by direct participation. Treachery was likewise proven by evidence since the attack was immediate, sudden and unexpected.

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