Unjustifiable defense

A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) - November 27, 2020 - 12:00am

As the Supreme Court (SC) said in this case involving husband and wife, “the promise of forever is not an authority for the other to own one’s spouse. If anything, it is an obligation to love and cherish despite his or her imperfections. To be driven to anger, rage or murder due to jealousy is not a manifestation of this sacred understanding.” This is because marriage is an inviolable social institution which is the foundation of the family as the family is the foundation of the nation.

This is the case of Bruno, married to Elisa with four children: Annie, Abby, Ferdie and Connie. Bruno used to work in a Mideast country as a mason, a steel man and a pipe fitter. But after about six years, he came back here upon learning that Elisa had a paramour. Upon his return, he was able to find work in a development company while his family lived in a nearby suburban city. After nine years, he transferred his family to a southern province where Elisa’s family could take care of them, considering that he was often at work. Their house was a one-story building with an open sala, a kitchen and one bedroom where Bruno would occasionally visit them.

In one of his visits, while preparing to return to work, with Ferdie already asleep in the bedroom and Annie still eating with her back to Bruno, his wife Elisa seated on the floor near the toilet watching TV with her daughters Abby and Connie, Annie would occasionally glance at her father and noticed that he seemed restless. Suddenly Annie saw Bruno hit Elisa on the head with a mallet. A second blow hit the cement wall. Annie yelled “Tay” as she tried to pacify her father, asking why he did it. Bruno said he saw a man in the bathroom with Elisa. Annie looked into the bathroom but saw no one. Ferdie was awakened and came out of the bedroom where he saw his father Bruno still holding the mallet while his sisters Annie and Abby were attending to their mother Elisa who was on the floor with blood on her head. Ferdie held on to his father as Elisa was rushed to the hospital by their neighbors. Bruno was brought to the police station; Annie lost consciousness but awoke when neighbors massaged her head. The next day, Tessie their neighbor informed the siblings that Elisa had died.

After the police investigation and the examination of Elisa’s corpse by Dr. Paterno, the PNP medico-legal officer at Camp Crame as to the cause of death, Bruno was charged with the crime of parricide.

At the trial, the prosecution presented Annie who narrated in a direct and forthright manner how she saw her father hit her mother with a mallet on the head and her testimony is supported by the physical evidence of the injury sustained by her mother as reported and testified to by Dr. Paterno. Abby and Ferdie also testified that they saw their father holding the murder weapon and their mother fallen on the floor with a bloodied head.

For his defense Bruno claimed that Elisa was having an affair with another man. He testified further that on the night of the incident, as he was preparing to go back to work, Elisa went outside as if waiting for somebody. The she returned, took a bath, and fixed her face. When he asked Elisa where she was going she said it was none of his business. The he went to the bathroom for his personal effects and heard people talking outside. On looking out, he said that he saw Elisa kissing a man and telling him, “huwag muna ngayon nandiyan pa siya” as the man embraced her, and groped her breast and private parts. So Bruno said he went outside and approached them with mallet in hand and attacked the man, who used Elisa as a shield and pushed her towards him, causing them to stumble. Elisa went inside while he pursued the man but failed. When he returned, he saw Ferdie carrying Elisa whose head was bleeding. He instructed his children to bring their mother to the hospital and informed Annie that he would surrender. At the police station he claimed that he planned to attack the man but accidentally hit Elisa instead.

The trial court however found Bruno guilty of parricide beyond reasonable doubt and sentenced him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua plus civil indemnity and moral damages. This decision was appealed to the Court of Appeals (CA) and the Supreme Court (SC).

According to the SC, Annie clearly testified that she suddenly saw her father hit the head of her mother with a small mallet. Her straightforward and candid narration of the incident is positive and credible evidence, sufficient to convict her father Bruno. It is unnatural for an accused’s own child, who is interested in vindicating the commission of the crime, to accuse somebody else other than the real culprit. Furthermore, her testimony is supported by the physical evidence of the injury sustained by the victim as found by Dr. Paterno. The alleged inconsistency in the testimonies of Annie and Abby does not affect the credibility of either witness. They refer only to minor details and not on the principal occurrence and the identity of the accused. While Abby and Ferdie did not actually see their father in the act of hitting their mother, nevertheless saw their father holding the murder weapon and their mother fallen on the floor with a bloodied head immediately after the crime was committed. The alleged ill motive of Annie is hardly worthy of consideration and belief. Assuming that Bruno had previously disapproved of Annie’s early marriage, such would not have been sufficient motive for her to wrongly accuse her father of a heinous crime.

Parricide is punishable by the indivisible penalties of reclusion perpetua to death. With one mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender and no aggravating circumstance, the lesser penalty of reclusion perpetua and not the penalty of death is thus proper. This is the ruling in the case of People vs. Brusola, G.R. 210615, July 26, 2017)

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