Marital rage

A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison - The Philippine Star

The “the promise of forever” in marriage is an obligation to love and cherish despite the spouses’ imperfections. How is this manifested?

This is the case of Berto, married to Lucy with four children: Lisa, Baby, Fred and Carrie. Berto 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 upon learning that Lucy 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 Lucy’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 Berto would occasionally visit them.

In one of his visits, while preparing to return to work, Fred was already asleep in the bedroom and Lisa was still eating with her back turned to Berto. His wife Lucy was seated on the floor near the toilet, watching TV with her daughters Baby and Carrie. Lisa would occasionally glance at her father and noticed that he seemed restless.

Suddenly Lisa saw Berto hit Lucy on the head with a mallet. A second blow hit the cement wall. Lisa yelled “Tay” as she tried to pacify her father, asking why he did it. Berto said he saw a man in the bathroom with Lucy. Lisa looked into the bathroom but saw no one. Fred was awakened and came out of the bedroom where he saw his father Berto still holding the mallet while his sisters Lisa and Baby were attending to their mother Lucy, who was on the floor with blood on her head. Fred held on to his father as Lucy was rushed to the hospital by their neighbors. Berto was then brought to the police station. Lisa lost consciousness but awoke when neighbors massaged her head. The next day, Nita their neighbor informed the siblings that Lucy had died.

After the police investigation and the examination of Lucy’s corpse by the PNP medico-legal officer Dr. Ponce at Camp Crame, Berto was charged with the crime of parricide.

At the trial, the prosecution presented Lisa, who narrated in a direct and forthright manner how she saw her father hit her mother with a mallet on the head. Her testimony is supported by the physical evidence of the injury sustained by her mother as reported and testified to by Dr. Ponce. Baby and Fred 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 Berto claimed that Lucy 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, Lucy went outside as if waiting for somebody. Then she returned, took a bath and fixed her face. When he asked Lucy where she was going, she said it was none of his business. Thus, he went to the bathroom for his personal effects and heard people talking outside. On looking out, he said that he saw Lucy 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 Berto said he went outside and approached them with mallet in hand and attacked the man, who used Lucy as a shield and pushed her towards him, causing them to stumble. Lucy went inside while Berto pursued the man but failed. When he returned, he saw Fred carrying Lucy whose head was bleeding. He instructed his children to bring their mother to the hospital and informed Carrie that he would surrender. At the police station he claimed that he planned to attack the man but accidentally hit Lucy instead.

The trial court, however, found Berto 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, Lisa 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 Berto. 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. Ponce.

The alleged inconsistency in the testimonies of Lisa and Baby 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 Baby and Fred did not actually see their father in the act of hitting their mother, they 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 Lisa is hardly worthy of consideration and belief 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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