Thursday, March 08, 2012

People vs. Fronda (May 14, 1993)

Facts: Brothers, Edwin & Esminio Balaan were taken by 7 armed men in fatigue uniforms with long firearms, suspected to be NPA members, accompanied by the accused Rudy Fronda and Roderick Padua from the house of Ferminio Balaan. The armed men tied the hands of the deceased at their back lying down face downward, in front of the house of Ferminio. They all proceeded towards Sitio Tulong passing through the rice fields. Three years later, the bodies or remains of the Balaan brothers were exhumed. Afterwhich, the remains, were brought to the house of Freddie Arevalo, a reltive of the deceased where they were laid in state for the wake. The RTC declared Fronda guilty as a principal by indispensable cooperation. The appellant says he was only taken by the armed men as a pointer & interposes the exempting circumstance under RPC A12(6) claiming that all his acts were performed under the impulse of uncontrollable fear and to save his life. 

Issue: Whether or not Fronda can claim the exempting circumstance of uncontrollable fear. 

Held: No. Fear in order to be valid should be based on a real, imminent or reasonable fear for one’s life or limb. (People vs. Abanes) In the case at bar, the records indicate that appellant was seen being handed by and receiving from one of the armed men a hunting knife. Also, as aforesaid, appellant was not able to explain his failure to report the incident to the authorities for more than three years. These circumstances, among others, establish the fact that the appellant consciously concurred with the acts of the assailants. In order that the circumstance of uncontrollable fear may apply, it is necessary that the compulsion be of such a character as to leave no opportunity to escape or self-defense in equal combat. (People v. Loreno) Appellant had the opportunity to escape when he was ordered by the armed men to go home after bringing the victims to the mountains. He did not. Instead he joined the armed men when required to bring a spade with which he was ordered to dig the grave. Appellant also chose to remain silent for more than three years before reporting the killing to the authorities. Based on these circumstances, We hold that the contemporaneous and subsequent acts of appellant cannot be regarded as having been done under the impulse of uncontrollable fear.

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