No effect
A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Atty. Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) - January 24, 2020 - 12:00am

This is another case where circumstances that aggravate and mitigate the liability of the accused may increase or decrease the penalty fixed by law. Sometimes, however, both aggravating and mitigating circumstances are present in the commission of an offense and would thus offset each other. Hence the penalty fixed by law would not be increased or decreased. But there are also cases when both mitigating and aggravating circumstance attended the commission of the offense yet the penalty is still increased. This is illustrated in this case.

This is a case of another love triangle that ended in tragedy. Involved here are the unfaithful wife, Raine, and her husband Gary. Raine has a paramour Paul who is the Assistant Barangay Lieutenant in their place. Raine has illicit relations with Paul for some time but her husband Gary does not know about it because he has full confidence in Raine.

Since Raine and Paul would already like to get married, they conspired to kill Gary. Paul prepared a poison and mixed it with the food of Gary who unsuspectingly partook of the poisoned morisqueta tostada.  As a result Gary died. Paul tried to cover up the crime by even reporting the death of Gary upon returning from the fields where he dumped the body.

Raine’s father Manuel and the in-law of the deceased Gary then recovered Gary’s body and informed the municipal officials about the occurrence. The body was examined by the medical officer in the province and confirmed that Gary died of poisoning. On further investigation Raine and Paul later on individually signed confessions prepared in the dialect in the presence of witnesses and sworn to before a notary public. They admitted that the poison had been prepared by Paul and mixed with the morisqueta eaten by Gary. Called before the justice of the peace (JP) of the municipality, Raine and Paul answered “Yes sir we are guilty” in answer to the JP’s query. The confessions and the plea of guilty before the JP were corroborated by reliable witnesses including Raine’s father who could not but tell the truth to the extent of inculpating his own daughter notwithstanding his paternal affection for her.

So the Trial Court convicted Raine of parricide and Paul of murder for using poison in killing Gary. Raine was sentenced to reclusion perpetua because of the presence of the aggravating circumstance that the crime was committed by means of poisoning which however is compensated by the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender and plea of guilty. On the other hand, Paul was sentenced by the trial judge to suffer imprisonment of only 17 years, four months and one day of reclusion temporal.

The Supreme Court affirmed the guilty verdict but modified the sentence of Paul who was also sentenced to cadena perpetua (life imprisonment). According to the SC, even if no circumstance to aggravate and none to mitigate criminal liability was found by the trial court, the penalty in the medium degree could not be properly taken into consideration in this connection in view of the fact that Paul took advantage of his position as the Assistant Barangay Lieutenant in the barrio where he lived. So his sentence should really be cadena perpetua (People vs. Bucsit and Licudine. G.R. 17865, March 16, 1922)

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