G.R. No. L-50884 March 30, 1988 –CASE OF COMPLEX CRIME
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs.FILOMENO SALUFRANIA, defendant-appellant.
FACTS: On 7 May 1976, Filomeno Salufrania y Aleman was charged before the CFI of Camarines Norte,with the complex crime of parricide with intentional abortion. It was alleged that on the 3rd day of December, 1974, the accused Filomeno Salufrania y Aleman did then and there, willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously attack, assault and use personal violence on his wife, MARCIANA ABUYO-SALUFRANIA by then and there boxing and stranging her, causing upon her injuries which resulted in her instantaneous death; and by the same criminal act committed on the person of the wife of the accused, who was at the time 8 months pregnant, the accused caused the death of the unborn child,committing both crimes of PARRICIDE and INTENTIONAL ABORTION as defined and punished under Art. 246 and Art. 256, paragraph I, of the Revised Penal Code.
At the trial court, Dr. Juan L. Dyquiangco Jr., Pedro Salufrania testified that,he was called upon by the Municipal Judge of Talisay to examine the corpse of Marciana Abuyo-Salufrania that was exhumed from its grave in which the cause of death was cardiac arrest.
Dr. Dyquiangco testified that after conducting the post mortem examination, he issued a certification thereof (Exhibit "A"); that he issued a death certificate (Exhibit "B") for the deceased Marciano Abuyo-Salufrania, bearing the date of 5 December 1974, made on the basis of the information relayed by a certain Leonila Loma to his nurse before the burial, without mentioning the cause of death; that the cause of death, as cardiac arrest, was indicated on said death certificate only after the post mortem examination on 11 December 1974. The lower court allowed the son of the accused, Pedro Salufrania, The lower court stated that, by reason of interest and relationship, before Pedro Salufrania was allowed to testify against his father-accused Filomeno Salufrania, after careful examination by the prosecuting officer and the defense counsel under the careful supervision of the court a quo, to determine whether, at his age of 13 years old, he was already capable of receiving correct impressions of facts and of relating them truly and, also, whether he was compelled and/or threatened by anybody to testify against his father-accused.He stated that his father Filomeno Salufrania and his mother Marciana Abuyo quarrelled at about 6:00 o'clock in the evening of 3 December 1974, he saw his father box his pregnant mother on the stomach and, once fallen on the floor, his father strangled her to death; that he saw blood ooze from the eyes and nose of his mother and that she died right on the spot where she fell. His brother,Eduardo Abuyo and had refused and still refused to live with his father-accused, because the latter has threatened to kill him and his other brothers and sister should he reveal the true cause of his mother's death.The brother in law and sister of the deceased victim,Narciso Abuyo also declared that after the burial of Marciana Abuyo, the three (3) children of his deceased sisterrefused to go home with their father Filomeno Salufrania; that when asked why, his nephew Alex Salufraña told him that the real cause of death of their mother was not stomach ailment and headache, rather, she was boxed on the stomach and strangled to death by their father; that immediately after learning of the true cause of death of his sister, he brought the matter to the attention of the police authorities .
The CFI found him guilty beyond reasonable doubt, of the complex crime of Parricide with Intentional Abortion, he is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of DEATH, to indemnify the heirs of the deceased Marciano Abuyo in the sum of P12,000.00 and to pay the costs. "For unselfish, valuable and exemplary service rendered by counsel de oficio, Atty. Marciano C. Dating, Jr., a compensation of P500.00 is hereby recommended for him subject to the availability of fund. Since the accused was sentenced to death, this becomes an automatic review before the Supreme Court.
The defense had for witnesses Geronimo Villan, Juanito Bragais, Angeles Liling Balce and the accused Filomeno Salufrania.Geronimo Villan testified that he was a neighbor of Filomeno Sulfrania whio tried to help him administer a native treatment around 6am in the morning of December 4, 1974, but she died around 7am. Witness Juanita Bragais testified that he was fetched by Felipe Salufrania, another son of Filomeno Salufrania Marciana Abuyo was already dead so he just helped Filomeno Salufrania in transferring the body of his wife to the house of the latter's brother-in—law.Angeles Liling Balce, who claimed to be a former resident she arrived in the house of Filomeno Salufrania at about 6:00 o'clock in the morning Marciana still in a coma lying on the lap of her husband who informed her that Marciana was suffering from an old stomach ailment. The accused admitted that he was that lawful husband of the deceased Marciana Abuyo; that he sent r Juanito Bragais but the latter was not able to cure his wife, that there was no quarrel between him and his wife that preceded the latter's death, and that during the lifetime of the deceased, they loved each other; that after her burial, his son Pedro Salufrania was taken by his brother-in-law Narciso Abuyo and since then, he was not able to talk to his son until during the trial; and that at the time of death of his wife, aside from the members of his family, Geronimo Villan Francisco Repuya and Liling Angeles Balce were also present.Appellant alleges that the trial court failed to determine the competence of Pedro Salufrania before he was allowed to testify. He also questions the competence of Dr. Dyquiangco as an expert witness, and alleges that the findings of Dr. Dyquiangco and the testimony of Pedro Salufrania do not tally. But this contention is without merit. The Court notes, first of all, that appellant did not even bother to discuss his defense in order to refute the massive evidence against him. This is tantamount to an admission that he could not adequately support his version of Marciana Abuyo's death.Lastly, appellant alleges that, assuming he indeed killed his wife, there is no evidence to show that he had the intention to cause an abortion. In this contention, appellant is correct. He should not be held guilty of the complex crime of Parricide with Intentional Abortion but of the complex crime of Parricide with Unintentional Abortion. The elements of Unintentional Abortion are as follows:
1. That there is a pregnant woman. 2. That violence is used upon such pregnant woman without intending an abortion. 3. That the violence is intentionally exerted. 4. That as a result of the violence the foetus dies, either in the womb or after having been expelled therefrom.
ISSUE: Whether or not the trial court erred in its ruling of complex crime with parricide and intentional abortion?
HELD: According to the Supreme Court,
“Trial judges are in the best position to ascertain the truth and detect falsehoods in the testimony of witnesses. This Court will normally not disturb the findings of the trial court on the credibility of witnesses, in view of its advantage in observing first hand their demeanor in giving their testimony. Such rule applies in the present case.
The Solicitor General's brief makes it appear that appellant intended to cause an abortion because he boxed his pregnant wife on the stomach which caused her to fall and then strangled her. We find that appellant's intent to cause an abortion has not been sufficiently established. Mere boxing on the stomach, taken together with the immediate strangling of the victim in a fight, is not sufficient proof to show an intent to cause an abortion. In fact, appellant must have merely intended to kill the victim but not necessarily to cause an abortion. The evidence on record, therefore, establishes beyond reasonable doubt that accused Filomeno Salufrania committed and should be held liable for the complex crime of parricide with unintentional abortion. The abortion, in this case, was caused by the same violence that caused the death of Marciana Abuyo, such violence being voluntarily exerted by the herein accused upon his victim. It has also been clearly established (a) that Marciana Abuyo was seven (7) to eight (8) months pregnant when she was killed; (b) that violence was voluntarily exerted upon her by her husband accused; and (c) that, as a result of said violence, Marciana Abuyo died together with the foetus in her womb. In this afternoon, Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code states that the accused should be punished with the penalty corresponding to the more serious came of parricide, to be imposed in its maximum period which is death. However, by reason of the 1987 Constitution which has abolished the death penalty, appellant should be sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. “
In the present case, the Supreme Court modified, the judgment appealed from was AFFIRMED. Accused-appellant was sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. The indemnity of P12,000. 00 awarded to the heirs of the deceased Marciana Abuyo is increased to P30,000.00 in line with the recent decisions of the Court. With costs.