Wednesday, February 29, 2012

People vs. Doquena [68 Phil. 580 (1939)]

Facts: Between 1-2 pm of Nov. 19, 1938, Juan Ragojos and Epifanio Rarang were playing volleyball in the yard of their school in Sual, Pangasinan. Valentin Doquena, the accused, intercepted the ball, and threw it a Ragojos, who was hit in the stomach. Miffed, Ragojos chased Doquena, and upon catching him, slapped Doquena on the nape, and punched him in the face. After doing this, Ragojos went back to Rarang to resume playing volleyball. Insulted, Doquena looked for something to throw at Ragojos, finding none, he got his cousin's (Romualdo Cocal) knife, and confronted Ragojos. Ragojo's denied Doquena's request for a fight and resumed playing. Doquena stabbed the unaware Ragojos in the chest, thereby killing the latter. The court held that in committing the act, the accused acted with discernment and was conscious of the nature and consequences of his acts, therefore his defense that he was a minor was untenable (given that the Doquena was a 7th grade pupil, one of the brightest in his class, and was an officer in the CAT program), and thus convicted him of the crime of homicide. The court ordered him to be sent to the Training School for Boys until he reaches the age of majority. Thus, the appeal by the accused, stating that to determine whether or not there was discernment on the part of the minor, the following must be taken into consideration: 

a) The facts and circumstances which gave rise to the act committed. 

b) The state of mind at the time the crime was committed 

c) The time he had at his disposal 

d) The degree of reasoning of the minor 

Issue: Whether or not the accused acted with discernment 

Held: Decision affirmed. Yes, the accused acted with discernment. Accused mistakes the discernment for premeditation, or at least for lack of intention, as a mitigating circumstance. However, the DISCERNMENT that constitutes an exception to the exemption from criminal liability of a minor under 15 years but over nine, who commits an act prohibited by law, is his MENTAL CAPACITY to understand the difference between right and wrong, and such capacity may be known and should be determined by taking into consideration all the facts and circumstances afforded by the records in each case, the very appearance, the very attitude, the very comportment and behavior of said minor, not only before and during the commission of the act, but also after and even during the trial.

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