Monday, March 12, 2012

People vs. Sangalang (August 30, 1974)

Facts: Around 6:00 in the morning of June 8, 1968, Ricardo Cortez left his nipa hut to gather tuba from a coconut tree nearby. Flora Sarno, his wife, was left inside the hut. While he was on top of the tree gathering tuba, a group of five men each armed with a long firearm, fired volley of shots on him. He fell to the ground from the treetop. One of the five men was recognized by Cortez’s wife Flora and her brother Ricardo as Laureano Sangalang who was using a Grand Carbine. Sangalang was the only one apprehended. 

CFI convicted Sangalang of the crime of murder, penalty of reclusion perpetua. 

Issues: 
(1) Whether or not Sangalang was guilty of murder 

(2) Whether  or not TREACHERY can be appreciated as a qualifying circumstance to the murder. 

Held: 
(1) Yes. Court gave credence to the consistent and unwavering testimonies of victim’s widow Flora and brother-in-law Ricardo who positively identified Sangalang as one of the killers. 

(2) Yes. The victim was shot while he was gathering tuba on top of a coconut tree. He was unarmed and defenseless, nor was he able to give any provocation. This deliberate surprise attack indicated that Sangalang and his companions employed a mode of execution which insured the killing without any risk to them arising from any defense which the victim could have resorted to. 

Treachery here not considered as an aggravating but as an element that qualified murder. The circumstance of Band was not appreciated since US v Abelinde ruled that band is absorbed by Treachery. No mitigating nor aggravating circumstance, therefore reclusion perpetua. RTC affirmed.

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