Monday, March 12, 2012

People vs. Rodil [November 20, 1981]

Facts: Accused Floro Rodil was charged under an Information that states that on April 24, 1971, with the use of a bladed dagger, attacked and stabbed to death Philippine Constabulary Lieutenant Guillermo Masana in Indang, Cavite. The Information also alleges that Masana was in the performance of his official duties when the accused attacked him. 

April 24, 1971: Masana, the deceased, together with PC soldier Virgilio Fidel, Philippine Coast Guard serviceman Ricardo Ligsa and Patrolman Felix Mojica of Indang, Cavite, was having lunch inside a restaurant in front of the Indang market. 

While inside, they saw accused outside through the glass window of the restaurant. Rodil was blowing his whistle. 

His attention drawn by what Rodil was doing, Masana, dressed in civilian clothes, accompanied by Fidel, went out of the restaurant. He introduced himself as a PC officer, and asked Rodil whether the gun tucked on his waist had a license. Instead of answering the question, Rodil moved a step backward and tried to draw his gun. Fidel immediately grabbed Rodil’s gun and gave it to Masana. 

The three went inside the restaurant. Masana and Rodil occupied a separate table. Masana placed the gun on the table, pulled out a piece of paper and wrote a receipt for the gun and signed it. He asked Rodil to countersign it, but he refused. Rodil even asked Masana to return the gun to him, and of course Masana did not grant his plea. As Masana was about to stand up, Rodil pulled out a double-bladed dagger and stabbed Masana several times, on the chest and the stomach which led to his death. 

Indang Chief of Police Primo Panaligan was also inside the restaurant taking his lunch and helped in wresting the dagger from Rodil. 

Issues: 
(1) Whether or not the specific circumstance of contempt of, or insult to public authority can be appreciated as an aggravating circumstance 

(2) Whether or not the specific circumstance of insult or disregard of rank can be appreciated as an aggravating circumstance 

Held:
(1) YES. In the case at bar, the aggravating circumstance of, or insult to, public authority under paragraph 2, Article 14 of the RPC can be appreciated. Evidence of prosecution clearly established that Indang Chief of Police Primo Panaligan was present in the restaurant as he was having lunch there too when the incident happened, which belies Rodil’s allegations that he went to the municipal police station and reported the incident as self-defense to the Chief. As a matter of fact, the chief of police was the one who embraced or grabbed Rodil from behind, wrested the dagger from him and subsequently brought him to the Indang municipal building. The chief of police should be considered a public authority or a person in authority for he is vested with jurisdiction and authority to maintain peace and order and is specifically duty bound to prosecute and to apprehend violators of the law and municipal ordinances.

(2) YES. The aggravating circumstance of disregard of rank should be appreciated because the victim identified himself as a PC officer to Rodil who was merely a member of the Anti-Smuggling Unit and was therefore inferior both in rank and social status to the victim. The difference in official and social status between a PC lieutenant and a mere member of an anti-smuggling unit is patent. If Rodil was charged with the complex crime of murder with assault against an agent of a person in authority and not merely murder, then the aggravating circumstance of disregard of rank may not be appreciated because that circumstance will be absorbed into the charge of assault against an agent of a person in authority. But in the case at bar, the Information charges Rodil with murder only. Therefore, the aggravating circumstance of disregard of rank may be appreciated in the imposition of penalties. 

EFFECT TO PENALTY IMPOSABLE: With two aggravating circumstances and no mitigating circumstance, the appellant is condemned to suffer the maximum period of reclusión temporal, the penalty prescribed for homicide.

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