People vs. Apduhan [Block B]
People vs. Apduhan [Block B]...
Crim 2; Crimes Against Property; Robbery in band People v. Apduhan, Jr. 24 SCRA 798 August 30, 1968 Automatic Review from CFI judgment Castro, J. Facts: Accused Apduhan together with his co-accused pled guilty to a second amended information charging them with robbery and homicide, aggravated by dwelling, nighttime, and the use of superior strength. Second amended information: Apduhan, his two co-accused, and 5 other persons, armed with different unlicensed firearms, daggers, and other deadly weapons, entered the dwelling of the Miano family, attacking, hacking, and shooting Geronimo Miano and a Norberto Aton, as a result of which, the two died. The group also took cash amounting to P322. The attorney of Apduhan’s co-accused (Atty. Tirol) informed the trial court that he was appearing as counsel de oficio for Apduhan, and was appointed by the TC as the same. Atty. Tirol manifested that Apduhan wished to change his plea to guilty. The trial judge repeatedly informed Apduhan as to the severity and consequences of pleading guilty (among others, the imposition of the capital penalty upon conviction) yet Apduhan persisted, only requesting that the death penalty not be imposed. Apduhan eventually desisted, but again insisted on pleading guilty. After a 5-minute recess, Atty. Tirol informed the TC that Apduhan insisted on entering a plea of guilty. When the TC reviewed the proceedings, it found that Apduhan’s plea was ambiguous, and reopened the case. Apduhan categorically pleaded guilty. TC rendered judgment finding Apduhan guilty of the complex crime of robbery with homicide under Art. 294 of the RPC, in relation to Art. 296; Apduhan was sentenced to the death penalty. Issue(s): Whether… 1) the use of unlicensed firearm as a circumstance modifying criminal liability should be appreciated; and if so, what kind of circumstance would it be? 2) the three mitigating circumstances offered by the defense (plea of guilty and intoxication) should be considered, against the three aggravating circumstances offered by the prosecution. 3) Apduhan’s penalty should be commuted by the President. Decision: MODIFIED – Reclusion perpetua was imposed due to a failure to secure the required number of votes for the imposition of the death penalty. Ratio Decidendi: 1) Whether the use of unlicensed firearm as a circumstance modifying criminal liability should be appreciated; and if so, what kind of circumstance would it be?
Trial Court Concurs with the Provincial Fiscal that in robbery with homicide committed by a band, the use of unlicensed firearm is a special aggravating circumstance pursuant to RPC 296 Solicitor General agrees, adding that the penalty for robbery under the circumstances mentioned in Par. 1, RPC 294, and RPC 296 is the maximum of reclusion perpetua to death, or death, and that this is mandatory.
Accused Supreme Court If ever appreciated, it is merely a Both accused and TC’s contentions are untenable. generic aggravating factor RPC 296 is only applicable to RPC 295’s provision on robbery in band. which may be offset by mitigating RPC 295 is explicitly limited in scope to subdivisions 3, 4, and 5, of circumstances, such that the Art. 294. Therefore, even though the use of unlicensed firearm is a penalty imposed should be special aggravating circumstance under RPC 296, it cannot be reclusion perpetua. appreciated as such in relation to robbery with homicide, which is described and penalized under Par. 1, RPC 294 RPC 295 provides that if any of the classes of robbery described in subdivisions 3, 4, and 5, of RPC 294 is committed by a band, the offender shall be punished by the maximum period of the proper penalty. RPC 296 defines the term “band,” and, among others, states that the used of unlicensed firearms in the commission of the offense, the penalty imposed upon all the malefactors is the maximum of the corresponding penalty provided by law. “The offense” = robbery committed by a band; “all the malefactors = members of the band; “the corresponding penalty provided by law” relates to the offenses of robbery described by RPC 294, subdivisions 3, 4, and 5. RPC 296 amplifies and modifies the provision (RPC 295 in relation to RPC 294, subdivisions 3, 4, and 5) on robbery in band. In order for the special aggravating circumstance of use of unlicensed firearm to be appreciated in justifying the imposition of the proper penalty, the offense charged should be robbery committed by a band as contemplated by RPC 295.
The history of RA 12, which modified Arts. 295 and 296 of the RPC showed that the use of unlicensed firearm was to be a special aggravating circumstance only in cases of robbery in band, said in passing in the case of People v. Bersamin. However, RA 373 excluded subdivisions 1 and 2 of Art. 294 from the coverage of RPC 295. Because RPC 296 is corollary to RPC 295, the diminution of 295’s scope correspondingly reduces 296’s extent of applicability.
2) Whether the mitigating circumstances offered by the defense (plea of guilty and intoxication) should be considered, against the three aggravating circumstances offered by the prosecution: NO.
Accused: YES. Apduhan pled guilty and was intoxicated.
SC: NO. The appreciation of the plea of guilt, under RPC 13(7), is “beyond controversion.” There is no evidence on record to support the Defense’s claim that it should be mitigating. Apparently, the Defense mistakenly thought that the Defense no longer had the burden to establish the state of intoxication as the prosecution already admitted that it was mitigating due to the lack of strong evidence to overthrow accused’s claim of being a non-habitual drinker. Under the environmental circumstances, the Defense was not relieved of the burden of proving the defendant’s actual state of intoxication. Doing so would open the avenue for collusion between defense and prosecution to unduly and unjustly minimize the penalty imposable. For intoxication to be mitigating, it must be proven that it is not habitual or intentional (not subsequent to the plan to commit the crime.) Once satisfactorily established, in the absence of proof to the contrary, it is presumed to be neither habitual nor intentional. Even though an unqualified plea of guilty is mitigating, it constitutes the admission of all the material facts alleged in the information, including all aggravating circumstances recited therein. There are three aggravating circumstances in the instant case: band, dwelling, and nighttime. The fourth, abuse of superior strength, was withdrawn by the prosecution on the ground that it was absorbed by the element of cuadrilla. The withdrawal was ill-advised as band and abuse of superior strength are different: Band Abuse of Superior Strength Elements: Elements: 1) At least 4 malefactors; 1) Collective strength; 2) All the malefactors are 2) Use of said strength to armed. overpower relatively weaker victims. What are taken into account are the relative physical strengths. Even if the withdrawal were valid, there are still three aggravating circumstances which do not need to be proved because the accused has supplied the requisite proof by virtue of his plea of guilt. Dwelling: aggravating in robbery with violence or intimidation of persons (like the offense at bar). Robbery could be committed without the need to transgress the sanctity of a home. Nighttime: aggravating when it is purposely and deliberately sought to facilitate the commission of the crime, or to prevent recognition, or to insure unmolested escape. Apduhan et al. waited until it was dark before they came out of their hiding place to consummate their designs.
3) Whether Apduhan’s penalty should be commuted by the President: NO.
TC/Solicitor General: YES. The guilty plea was spontaneous and insistent.
The use of firearm could be to counteract the resistance of the deceased.
SC: NO. The plea was far from spontaneous and insistent. His initial plea was “not guilty” yet changed it but persistently asking for life imprisonment instead of death. He finally decided to “just” plead guilty only after much equivocation. His plea was seen by the TC as ambiguous which was why it reopened the case. Even if his plea was “spontaneous” and “insistent,” the attendant aggravating circumstances patently reveal his criminal perversity. This is mere conjecture, according to the TC judge himself. Employing a firearm to subdue the lawful resistance of an innocent person is a criminal act by any standard.
Jose Aniceto David Dealino