Thursday, February 02, 2012

People vs. Dagatan

Facts: Ceniza and Into were walking home to Carmen when they saw Sergio and Saturnino Dagatan standing by the railing of the Dawis bridge. Sergio suddenly attacked Ceniza with a wooden cane and Saturnino helped his brother in beating up Ceniza with a caborrata. Ceniza fell unconscious and the two brothers left the body in the middle of the road to make it appear that he had been run over by a car. However, Sergio, on second thought, suggested that they throw the body into the water so that the people would believe that Ceniza died by drowning; so they threw the body into the water. When Into saw that Ceniza was being beaten up by the two brothers, he began to run but was held by Julio (now deceased father of Sergio and Saturnino).

 Sergio wanted to kill Into but Julio stopped him saying that Into was a relative and that he did not do anything. Julio told Into that they had to kill Ceniza because he had besmirched the reputation of the Dagatan family for having been instrumental in the elopement of his daughter Lucila with one Eleuterio Yara, Ceniza’s first cousin, who later abandoned Lucila and returned to Leyte. They brought Into to their home, where Sergio again wanted to kill Into, but Julio stopped him once more but warned Into that should he say anything to the authorities, they would kill him. The next morning, Into was allowed to go home by the Dagatans who reiterated their earlier warning. Into, out of fear, did not say anything to his parents when he got home.

Police investigation revealed that the last person with whom the deceased was seen before his death was Leodegario Into. When taken in for questioning, Into told everything he knew about the crime, which led to the prosecution of herein appellants. In the course of his investigation, the chief of police found the "caborrata," the middle portion of which was broken, hanging on a post in the house of the Dagatans.

The Dagatan brothers’ alibis left the courts unconvinced when put side by side by Into’s positive testimony of the beating and killing of Ceniza and the undisputed testimony of the Police Chief of finding the damaged caborrata in the Dagatan home.

(1)  Whether or not the Dagatan brothers were entitled to the mitigating circumstance of acting in the immediate vindication of a grave offense against their sister

(2) Whether or not the Dagatan brothers were entitled to the mitigating circumstance of acting upon an impulse so powerful as naturally to have produced passion or obfuscation

Held:  No in both instances. The Dagatan brothers are found guilty of murder with no mitigating circumstance.

The lower court in sentencing appellants to an indeterminate sentence of from 6 years and 1 day of prision mayor to 17 years, 4 months and 1 day of reclusion temporal, considered in their favor two mitigating circumstances, namely, that of having committed the crime in the immediate vindication of a grave offense to their sister Lucila Dagatan (par. 5, Art. 13, RPC), and that they acted upon an impulse so powerful as naturally to have produced passion or obfuscation (par. 6, Art. 13, RPC). But these two circumstances cannot be considered not only because the elopement of Lucila Dagatan with Eleuterio Yara and her abandonment by the latter took place long before the commission of the crime, but also because the deceased was not the one who eloped with and abandoned her. Furthermore, and as correctly pointed out by the Solicitor-General, these two mitigating circumstances cannot be counted separately and independently (People vs. Yaon, 43 Off. Gaz., 4142). On the other hand, we find duly proven the aggravating circumstances of nighttime, superior strength and treachery which qualify the crime as murder, and following Art. 248, in relation to Art. 64 of the Revised Penal Code, the penalty that should be imposed upon appellants is reclusion perpetua.

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