Monday, March 12, 2012

People vs. Padilla [June 10, 1994]

Facts: On May 5, 1981, Pfc. Edino Ontuca, Officer-in Charge of the Talalora Police Sub-Station was ganged up and held, allegedly for being drunk, by three policemen. One of which was Sgt. Felix Padilla, a member of the Philippine Air Force assigned to U-2, the intelligence unit of General Headquarters AFP. The three men was apprehending him purportedly to take him to the hospital for a liquor test. Ontuca managed to escape from Padilla’s grasp, and upon reaching a fruit stand, grabbed a certain Lilia. He used her as a human shield as Padilla was already pointing his pistol at him. During the struggle, Ontuca and Lilia fell to ground, giving Lilia a chance to escape. As he was laying on the ground, he reached out for a piece of plywood which he used to shield his head. He begged for his life but Padilla mercilessly shot him on his head with a .45 cal. automatic pistol. Padilla was apprehended and was charged with murder in the RTC. RTC convicted Padilla of murder qualified by TREACHERY with an aggravating circumstance of TAKING ADVANTAGE OF PUBLIC POSITION offset by the mitigating circumstance of SUFFICIENT PROVOCATION by the victim. TC did not appreciate ABUSE OF SUPERIOR STRENGTH. 

(1) Whether or not Padilla was guilty of murder 

(2) Whether or nor the aggravating circumstance of treachery was properly appreciated. 

(3) Whether or not there was abuse of superior strength and may be appreciated as an aggravating circumstance. 

(1) Yes. The testimonial evidence of the prosecution was candid and logical, plus they matched the medical findings. 

(2) No. Padilla did not consciously adopt a particular method or manner of killing the victim that would eliminate any risk to himself, since it was not until victim Ontuca hostaged Lilia and fell to the ground that accused was accorded the instant opportunity of killing him with his gun. In addition, the assault was not done in a sudden manner. Ontuca knew of the plan to kill him, there was a chance to defend himself as he was in fact able to run away from them. 

(3) YES. The killing was qualified by the aggravating circumstance of abuse of superior strength which was alleged in the information. Court held that abuse of superior strength not only exists when there is (1) NUMERICAL SUPERIORITY of the offenders, or (2) there is a notorious INEQUALITY OF FORCES, but also (3) when the offender uses a powerful weapon which is OUT OF PROPORTION to the defense available to the offended party. Here the accused was armed with a powerful pistol which gave him advantage over the victim who only had a piece of plywood to defend himself. 

However, there was no mitigating nor aggravating circumstance since the abuse of superior strength was treated by the court as a qualification for the crime of murder. (An aggravating circumstance that is inherent to the crime of murder may not be taken into account to increase the penalty, Art. 62 par. 2, RPC). 

PADILLA guilty of murder. Since penalty for murder is rec. temporal to death and there are no mitigating or aggra vating circumstances, medium period will be imposed: reclusion perpetua. 

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