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CASE DIGEST ON PEOPLE v. RABANILLO [307 SCRA 613 (1999)]

November 10, 2010


Facts: Rabanillo & the deceased Morales were drinking w/ their friends. One friend started a water fight game & Rabanillo joined the fun, accidentally dousing Morales w/ water. Morales reprimanded him because water got into his ear & they argued which led into a fistfight. They were pacified & ushered to their respective houses. The prosecution’s version of the events was given credit by the court which claimed that after 30 minutes after, while Morales & some friends were having a conversation in the terrace of the house of Morales, Rabanillo went out his house w/ a 1-meter samurai & hacked Morales who died that same day. Rabanillo offered his testimony to prove the mitigating circumstances of passion & obfuscation, drunkenness, & voluntary surrender thereby admitting having killed Morales.

Held: For passion & obfuscation to be mitigating, the same must originate from lawful feelings. From the version of the facts by the prosecution, clearly the assault was made in a fit of anger. The turmoil & unreason that would naturally result from a quarrel or fight should not be confused with the sentiment or excitement in the mind of a person injured or offended to such a degree as to deprive him of his sanity and self-control. The excitement w/c is inherent in all persons who quarrel & come to blows doesn’t constitute obfuscation.

Moreover, the act producing obfuscation must not be far removed from the commission of the crime by a considerable length of time, during which the accused might have regained his normal equanimity. In this case, 30 minutes intervened between the fight and the killing. Having been actuated more by the spirit of revenge or anger than of a sudden impulse of natural or uncontrollable fury, passion and obfuscation cannot be appreciated.

To be mitigating, the accused’s state of intoxication should be proved or established by sufficient evidence. It should be such an intoxication that would diminish or impair the exercise of his willpower or the capacity to know the injustice of his act. The accused must then show that (1) at the time of the commission of the criminal act, he has taken such quantity of alcoholic drinks as to blur his reason and deprive him of a certain degree of self-control; and (2) such intoxication is not habitual or subsequent to the plan to commit the felony. The accused merely testified that he joined his friends de Guzman and Soriano in a drinking session, but only for a short time. The fact that he was able to resume his routine work thereafter, belie his claim that he was heavily drunk at the time he attacked the victim. The regularity of Rabanillo’s alcohol intake could even have increased his tolerance for alcohol to such an extent that he could not easily get drunk.

For voluntary surrender to be considered, the following requisites must concur:

1.         the offender was not actually arrested;

2.         he surrendered to a person in authority or to an agent of a person in authority; and

3.         his surrender was voluntary

A surrender to be voluntary must be spontaneous, showing the intent of the accused to submit himself unconditionally to the authorities either because (a) he acknowledges his guilt or (b) he wishes to save them the trouble and expense necessarily incurred in his search and capture.

In the case, the baranggay captain had to go to the house of Rabanillo to take the latter to the police station. The latter did not present himself voluntarily to the former, who is a person in authority pursuant to Art. 152 of the RPC, as amended; neither did he ask the former to fetch him at his house so he could surrender. The fact alone that he did not resist but went peacefully with the baranggay captain does not mean that he voluntarily surrendered. Besides, voluntary surrender presupposes repentance.

Judgment: There being no mitigating nor aggravating circumstance the penalty is the medium period of that prescribed by law for that offense. Accused is found guilty of homicide, and not murder, and applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, he is hereby sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty rangin from 10 yrs of prision mayor as minimum to 17 yrs and 4 mos of reclusion temporal as maximum with all accessories thereof, and to indemnify the heirs.

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