G.R. No. 1290. January 05, 1905

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4 Phil. 114

[ G.R. No. 1290. January 05, 1905 ]




The defendants were sentenced by the Court of First Instance of Abra
to the penalty of death as principals in the crime of murder committed
upon the person of Pio Benedito, except Antonio Banza, who was
sentenced to cadena perpetua as an accomplice to the
said murder. This latter did not appeal from the judgment against him,
and the same is therefore in force.

On the morning of Sunday, November 16, 1902, the deceased, Pio
Benedito, residing in San Jose, Province of Abra, started on a journey
to the town of Narvacan, Ilocos Sur, accompanied by his wife, the
defendant, Gregoria Miranda, his servant Faustina Bobiles, and one
Romualdo Espiritu. Arriving at a place called Denden, within the
jurisdiction of the town of Pilar, Province of Abra, they made a halt
and Benedito availed himself of this opportunity to take a bath. While
he was bathing, the defendant Regino Ayao arrived at the same place,
pretending to be looking for a dog which had escaped from him, and he
joined the deceased and his companions when the latter continued their
journey, immediately after the said deceased had taken his bath. They
were walking in single file apparently on account of the jungle that
made the way difficult, Romualdo Espiritu going first, Faustina Bobiles
second, Gregoria Miranda third, Pio Benedito fourth, and last, behind
Benedito, was Regino Ayao, who, taking advantage of this circumstance,
at the moment of going up a slope inflicted a blow with his bolo upon
Benedito, wounding him in the right shoulder. Benedito thereupon ran to
his companions, who had gone on ahead of him, and asked them for help,
saying that he had been wounded by Ayao, while the latter ran away in
the opposite direction in order to fetch his codefendant, Saturnino
Bobiles, with whom he reappeared a moment later on the scene of the
crime to renew together the attack upon Pio Benedito, who received new
wounds which caused his instant death; meanwhile, the aggressors
compelled Romualdo Espiritu and Faustina Bobiles to return, threatening
to kill them, and the latter then returned in company of Gregoria
Miranda. Almost at the same time Antonio Banza approached them and
made,himself known to them as a companion of Saturnino Bobiles and
Regino Ayao, compelling Gregoria and her companions, under grave
threats, to stop at a certain place of the road and there wait for
Saturnino Bobiles and Regino Ayao, who joined them shortly afterwards.
Upon the arrival of Regino Ayao he asked Gregoria Miranda and Saturnino
Bobiles what they should do with Faustina Bobiles and Romualdo
Espiritu, to which Gregoria said that they had better let her deal with
them and that she would give them the necessary instructions, after
which she gave 15 pesos to Regino Ayao as a reward for having wounded
her husband, Pio Benedito, and five pesos to Romualdo Espiritu, so that
he would not tell anybody what had happened. After this Regino Ayao and
Antonio Banza left the group and at nightfall on the same day of the
occurrence the rest of the company continued their journey back to the

These facts are fully and uncontestably proven by the testimony of
the eyewitnesses Faustina Bobiles and Romualdo Espiritu,who further
state that Gregoria Miranda did not show the least anxiety nor call for
assistance when she saw that her husband was assaulted, and the first
witness furthermore states that Gregoria slept in the house of Antonio
Banza on the evening of the day on which the crime was committed. The
testimony of these witnesses is supported by the statements made by the
defendants Regino Ayao and Antonio Banza before the Constabulary
inspector, Honorato E. Ballesta. Antonio Banza declared that he was
with Regino Ayao and Saturnino Bobiles when the crime was committed,
although he did not participate directly in. the commission of the
same. The statement of Ayao was that he himself and Saturnino Bobiles
by inducement of Antonio Banza and Gregoria Miranda assaulted and
killed Pio Benedito, his account of the facts being substantially the
same as that given by Faustino Bobiles and Romualdo Espiritu.

The defendants Antonio Banza and Regino Ayao acknowledge having made
said confession, but they say that they were forced to it by the ill
treatment and threats of death made to them by the municipal president
of San Jose, who is a brother of the deceased, and that the state-
ments they made in their confession are false. We can not accept this
exculpation, as the reality of the ill treatment and threats alleged by
the defendants has not been proved. Against that statement stands the
affirmation of Inspector Ballesta that the confession was made freely
and voluntarily, and above all, there is conclusive evidence
corroborating the truth of said confession apart from the fact that
what has been confessed by the defendants agree substantially with the
statements made by the eyewitnesses—there is the detail given by the
aforesaid Ballesta in his testimony that the dead body of the deceased,
the where- abouts of which was unknown until then, was found exactly in
the place indicated by Ayao in his confession.

The defendant Gregoria Miranda testified to the fact that she and
her husband, Pio Benedito, left their house on the morning of Sunday,
November 16, 1902, in company of Romualdo Espiritu and Saturnino
Bobiles, for the purpose of going to the town of Narvacan, but they had
hardly walked three hundred feet when they returned to their house,
giving up the journey on account of their having seen certain things
which they considered a bad omen; her husband, however, started out
alone the next morning for the place called Denden, and nothing had
since been heard of him. Three witnesses have testified as to these
facts being true, but it need only be taken into account that those
witnesses are the defendant Antonio Banza, his wife, and a sister of
the other defendant Regino Ayao, to give little credit to their
testimony because of its interest and partiality. Much more is it to be
doubted when conclusively denied by Romualdo Espiritu and Faustina
Bobiles, whose statements are, moreover, corroborated by Luisa Avella,
servant of the deceased, who states that since November 16, when the
said deceased started on the above-mentioned journey to Narvacan, she
did not see him again, and, as only Gregoria Miranda and Faustina
Bobiles returned to their house on the evening of that day, she asked
the latter for her master, the deceased.

Neither can more credit be given to the evidence introduced by Antonio Banza and Saturnino Bobiles in trying to establish an alibi.
This evidence, consisting almost entirely of the statements of persons
closely related to the said defendants, as their respective wives are,
can not impeach the impartial testimony of Faustina Bobiles and
Romualdo Espiritu, which testimony is corroborated in all its parts by
the confession of the defendants themselves in the manner described

The liability of the appellants is evident. Regino Ayao and
Saturnino Bobiles were the perpetrators of this crime, wounding and
killing Pio Benedito. They are, therefore, principals in the crime with
which they are charged.

Gregoria Miranda is principal by inducement. Whatever be the object
which moved her to do it (the case does not furnish sufficient
information about this), the truth is that she was the person who
conceived the crime, and, feeling undoubtedly incapable of perpetrating
it herself, intrusted the execution thereof to Saturnino Bobiles and
Regino Ayao. The latter stated so to Inspector Ballesta, and his own
actions also prove it in a manner beyond every possible doubt. Not only
did she witness the attack upon and killing of her husband, not only
did she show no surprise nor the least alarm, nor the slightest grief
for it, but immediately after the crime was accomplished and in the
very spot where it was consummated she agreed with her accomplices to
properly instruct the eyewitnesses Faustina Bobiles and Romualdo
Espiritu so that they would not disclose the crime, as in fact she
afterwards did according to the testimony of the eyewitnesses named
above; and furthermore, she at once gave 15 pesos to Ayao as
compensation for the service just rendered her by him in killing her
husband, and 5 pesos to Romualdo Espiritu so that he would not tell
anybody what he had witnessed. And as if all this wore not sufficient
to demonstrate her criminal bargain and understanding with the slayers
of her husband, she is afterwards seen journeying back to her town in
friendly company with one of said slayers, Saturnino Bobiles, and
sleeping that same night in the house of Antonio Banza, who is found,
in a final judgment, to be an accomplice to the same crime.

In the commission of this crime the circumstance of treachery, which
raises it to the degree of murder according to article 403 of the Penal
Code, is to be taken into account inasmuch as the aggression was made
while the deceased was entirely unawares and the aggressor walking
behind him, and when the apparently peaceful attitude of the said
aggressor could not raise in him the least suspicion that he was going
to attempt anything against his person.

The prosecution says that the murder was perpetrated in an
uninhabited place, and with the concurrence of this aggravating
circumstance, asks that the penalty of death be imposed upon the
appellants. We do not agree with this view, although the complaint
establishes that the place called Denden, where the crime was
committed, is uninhabited; the evidence in the case does not prove
sufficiently that it was really so. The only witness who was
interrogated about this matter was Faustina Bobiles, who testified that
at the place in question “there are houses,” although they are at a
distance from the site where the deceased was wounded. This distance
not being clearly specified, there is not a good basis from which to
determine accurately whether the site was inhabited or not, and the
defendants should be given the benefit of the doubt.

There being no circumstances modifying the penalty prescribed by
law, this penalty should be imposed in the medium degree, which is that
of cadena perpetua in the present case, with the exception of Gregoria Miranda, on whom, by reason of her sex, the penalty of reclusion perpetua should be imposed, as provided for in article 95 of the Penal Code.

In strict law the crime should be designated as parricide with
reference to Gregoria Miranda, as the deceased is her husband, in
accordance with article 402 of the Penal Code; but inasmuch as the
complaint charged the crime of murder and the trial was consequently
had for the same crime, it is not possible in law to use that more
serious qualification to the prejudice of said defendant, for she has,
in accordance with the principles governing the criminal procedure now
in force, the unquestionable right not to be sentenced for a crime more
serious than that with which she had been charged in the complaint For
this reason only we designate the crime as murder, inasmuch as it is
cognate with that of parricide and it is comparatively less serious
than the latter, for which reason Gregoria Miranda is really benefited
and not prejudiced, because her condition as wife of the deceased was
not taken into consideration in the complaint, at the trial nor in the
judgment appealed from.

By reason of the foregoing considerations and with reversal of the
judgment appealed from, we sentence the defendants Regino Ayao and
Saturnino Bobiles to cadena perpetua, and Gregoria Miranda to reclusion perpetua,
and all of them to pay five hundred pesos, Philippine currency, as
indemnity to the heirs of the deceased, and the costs of this instance.
So ordered.

Arellano, C, J. Torres, Johnson, and Carson, JJ., concur.

Date created: April 23, 2014


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