Heinous crimes
A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Atty. Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) - June 5, 2020 - 12:00am

The crimes committed in these cases happened when death as a capital punishment was not yet abolished. The perversity of the crimes here is clearly shown by the circumstances under which they were committed. Hence, despite the guilty plea of the accused and his defense of mental incapacity, he was still sentenced to death. Also explained in this case is the aggravating circumstance of evident premeditation. How is evident premeditation proven beyond reasonable doubt?

This case happened in a remote barrio of a town in an island province, it involves a man named Gani, who has a 14-year-old unmarried daughter Layla. One time, about midnight, Gani, was able to have carnal knowledge of Layla through force and intimidation. Thereafter, Gani repeated his misdeeds several times resulting in the pregnancy of Layla about two years from their first sexual intercourse. So Layla gave birth to a live baby girl inside their house with the help of Gani. About an hour later Gani took the baby from Layla, brought her out of the house and buried her alive. To cover the place where he buried the baby, Gani built a fire over it.

The crimes were subsequently discovered the following day when an uncle of Layla reported the missing baby to the Police Station Commander who arrested and charged Gani with the crime of rape and infanticide.

Gani pleaded guilty to both charges upon arraignment but the trial court set aside said pleas and ordered the trial of the case by taking his testimony because he gave conflicting statements on whether or not the baby was still alive when he buried her. At the trial, Gani admitted the commission of the charges as alleged in the Information as well as the contents of his extrajudicial confession. So the trial court rendered judgment finding Gani guilty of rape beyond reasonable doubt and sentenced him to reclusion perpetua. Gani was also found guilty of Infanticide and sentenced to death because it was committed with evident premeditation, use of superior strength and nocturnity, and only one mitigating circumstance of plea of guilty. So the case was elevated to the Supreme Court (SC) for automatic review where the counsel de oficio of Gani contended that the Lower Court erred in imposing the death penalty. He said that the baby was not killed by burying her alive because the baby was already dead when buried, and for not appreciating Gani’s unstable mind.

The SC however affirmed the decision of the lower court. The SC said that the baby was still alive when Gani buried her as he himself admitted in his extrajudicial confession given two days after the incident and in his testimony given in the lower court. The Station Commander also testified that Gani admitted burying his child while still alive. The medico legal officer likewise declared in her report that based on the condition and color of the lungs, respiration has been established which prove that the baby was still alive when she was buried. Even Layla his daughter disclosed that the baby girl was “buhay po at mabilog at malakas ang uha na malusog.”

The lower court also correctly ruled that the aggravating circumstance of abuse of superior strength and nighttime, although not alleged in the information, have been proven during the trial. He took the infant from her mother, buried her alive after birth at night. Nighttime is a circumstance that facilitated the commission of the crime.

Evident premeditation however has not been sufficiently established said the SC, because there is no evidence of notorious outward acts evincing determination to commit the crime such as the sufficient lapse of time between the determination and execution to allow him to reflect on the result of his act. In this case the baby was born at 7 p.m. and was buried at 8 p.m. that same night. Where the accused only had about an hour for meditation and reflection, there is no evident premeditation.

The accused is not mentally incapacitated or insane. His act in refusing to call a hilot to help the daughter deliver and his insistence to act as such himself betrays a conscious and deliberate intent to hide the fact of birth. Building a fire over the baby’s grave in order to camouflage betrays his protestations that he suffered mental blackout at the time. On the contrary, they show deliberateness and full possession of his mental faculties to prevent discovery of a dastardly crime (People vs. Morales, G.R. 44096, April 28, 1993)

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Email: js0711192@gmail.com

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