Self-defense; G.R. No. 176061

G.R. No. 176061

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Well-settled is the rule in criminal cases that the prosecution has the burden of proof to establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.[14] However, once the accused admits the commission of the offense charged but raises a justifying circumstance as a defense, the burden of proof is shifted to him. He cannot rely on the weakness of the evidence for the prosecution for even if it is weak, it cannot be doubted especially after he himself has admitted the killing.[15] This is because a judicial confession constitutes evidence of a high order.

Danny categorically admits that he stabbed Romeo. However, he boldly claims that he did it in self defense. He avers that on that fateful night of August 19, 2001, he and Bingky were attacked along the way home by four unknown persons for no apparent reason. He observed that one of the men was pulling an object from his waistband which he thought was a bladed weapon so he drew his own knife and thrust it at the man rushing at him, hitting the latter on the right side of his body. His reaction, he asserts, was defensive arising from a prior act of aggression and provocation by the victim and his companions.

The essential elements of the justifying circumstance of self-defense, which the accused must prove by clear and convincing evidence are: (a) unlawful aggression on the part of the victim; (b) reasonable necessity of the means employed by the accused to prevent or repel the unlawful aggression; and (c) lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the accused defending himself.[16] The first element of unlawful aggression is a condition sine qua non. There can be no self-defense unless there was unlawful aggression from the person injured or killed by the accused; for otherwise, there is nothing to prevent or repel.

In the present case, Danny’s claim of self-defense is belied by his own testimony:

Q Now after they attacked Bingky Campos what did they do?

A They were not able to hit again Bingky because Bingky ran away.

Q How about you? What did they do to you?

A I was held by the other person when he approached me because Bingky was no longer there.

Q And who was that person who held you?

A I do not know him.

Q How about now, do you know his name?

A What I know only was Jaime and Iko.

Q Who [between] the two, Jaime and Iko [took] hold of you?

A Jaime and Iko were not able to hold me.

Q Was there an attempt by Jaime and Iko to maul you also?

A Yes.

Q What did they do?

A They kicked my left butt and the other person held me.

Q Then what did you do?

A I pulled a knife from my waist.

Q Who [between] the two kicked you at your butt and who was the person who took hold of you?

A It was Iko who kicked my buttocks but the other person who held me, I do not know his name.

Q Now what happened when you drew you[r] knife?

A The two persons who attempted to attack me, when I pulled a knife, I thrust the knife to the person who rushed at me.

Q Did you hit that person?

A Yes, he was hit.

Q Where was he hit?

A At the side.

Court Interpreter:

The witness is touching his lower right side.

Atty. Vailoces:

Q And what were the other companions doing at that time?


A After thrusting the knife to the person, I ran away and the three (3) ran after me.[17]

As can be gleaned from the foregoing narration, there is no mention at all that Romeo was among the four persons who allegedly attacked Danny and Bingky. Likewise, there is nothing in the narration which evinces unlawful aggression from Romeo. Danny’s testimony shows that there was only an attempt, not by Romeo but by Jaime and Iko, to attack him. Following his version, Danny then became the aggressor and not the victim. Even if the version of Danny is given a semblance of truth, that there was an attempt to hurt him, though intimidating, the same cannot be said to pose danger to his life and limb. This conclusion was drawn from the fact that no bladed weapon was found at the alleged scene of the crime and nobody testified about it. For unlawful aggression to be appreciated, there must be an “actual, sudden and unexpected attack, or imminent danger thereof, not merely a threatening or intimidating attitude”[18] and the accused must present proof of positively strong act of real aggression. For this reason, Danny’s observation that one of the men was pulling an object from his waist is not a convincing proof of unlawful aggression. “[A] threat, even if made with a weapon or the belief that a person was about to be attacked, is not sufficient.”[19] An intimidating or threatening attitude is by no means enough. In this case, other than the self-serving allegation of Danny, there is no evidence sufficiently clear and convincing that the victim indeed attacked him. The prosecution’s rebuttal witnesses Jaime Maquiling and Francisco Austero[20] who admittedly were among those whom Danny and Bingky had an encounter with on the night of August 19, 2001, never said in their testimonies that Romeo attacked Danny and a bladed weapon was used. These witnesses were categorical that Romeo was not with them during the incident. This testimonial evidence was not refuted by the defense. Even Bingky who claimed to be a friend of Romeo[21] was not able to identify the latter as one of those present at the time. Candid enough, Bingky declared that it was only a certain Ago and Jaime who confronted Danny.[22] Resultantly, Danny failed to discharge his burden of proving unlawful aggression, the most indispensable element of self-defense. Where “no unlawful aggression is proved, no self-defense may be successfully pleaded.”[23]

Moreover, as testified to by the attending physician Dr. Yee, Romeo sustained a stab wound causing injuries on his liver, gall bladder, duodenum and the pancreas which resulted to massive blood loss.[24] He eventually died of multiple vital organ failure. Clearly the wound inflicted by Danny on Romeo indicate a determined effort to kill and not merely to defend.[25] As has been repeatedly ruled, the nature, number and location of the wounds sustained by the victim disprove a plea of self-defense.[26]

Furthermore, Danny’s actuation in not reporting the incident immediately to the authorities cannot take out his case within the ambit of the Court’s jurisprudential doctrine that the flight of an accused discloses a guilty conscience. The justifying circumstance of self-defense may not survive in the face of appellant’s flight from the scene of the crime coupled with his failure to promptly inform the authorities about the incident.[27]

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