[ G.R. No. 242263, November 18, 2020 ]




This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, assailing the Decision2 dated December 11, 2017 and the Resolution3 dated August 16, 2018 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CEB-CR No. 02066, which affirmed with modification the Decision4 dated January 5, 2012 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Roxas City, Branch 17, convicting Aron Anisco (Aron) of the crime of Homicide.

The Antecedent Facts

Aron and his brother Franklin Anisco (Franklin) were charged with the crime of Homicide for the death of Rolly D. Apinan (Rolly), in an Information dated March 8, 2002, the accusatory portion of which reads:

That on or about the 1st day of January 2002, in the City of Roxas, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above­named accused, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping each other, without any justifiable motive and with intent to kill, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and shot one Rolly D. Apinan, thereby inflicting upon the latter the following wounds, to wit:


1. 2 cm. wound with powder burns surrounding area, right nipple line, midclavicular area about 2 cm away from right nipple;

2. Wounds at the left chest:

a. 1 cm in width at the 4th intercostal space, anterior axillary line;

b. 1 cm in width 3rd intercostal space, [posterior] axillary line.

c. 0.5 cm in width at 2nd intercostal space, midclavicular line.

3. Wounds at left arm:

a. 0.5 cm wound at left deltoid, area;

b. 2 cm hematoma, anterior axillary line about 6 cm below axilla, with palpable hard irregular object underneath the skin.

c. Palpable hard object underneath the skin at the posterior deltoid area, about 11 cm below the axilla.

d. Palpable hard object beneath the skin posterior deltoid about 8 cm below the [axilla].

4. Head:

a. Abrasion, 2 cm x 2 cm, left frontal area, about 1 cm below the hairline.

b. 1.5 cm below a. or first abrasion, abrasion measuring 2 cm x 1 cm.

c. 2 cm x 0.5 cm abrasion about 1 cm above the left eyebrow.

which wounds caused the death of Rolly D. Apinan, and as a consequence of the crime committed by the said accused, the heirs of the victim suffered compensatory, moral and other damages that may be awarded by this Honorable Court pursuant to the pertinent provisions of the Civil Code of the Philippines, all of which will be proven during trial.


When arraigned, both accused individually entered a plea of NOT GUILTY.6

Thereafter, trial on the merits ensued.

The prosecution presented the following as witnesses: (1) Merla Apinan (Merla), Rolly's wife; (2) Roldan Apinan (Roldan), Rolly's brother; (3) Dr. Ma. Esperanza Gepillano (Dr. Gepillano); (4) Senior Police Officer IV (SPO4) Crispin Azarcon (Azarcon); and (5) SPO1 Cornelio Acielo.7

The prosecution's witnesses testified that on January 1, 2002, Rolly, Merla, and Roldan attended the New Year festivities in Sitio Luyo, Barangay Culasi, Roxas City. At about 2:00 in the morning, Rolly danced on the stage while Merla watched below. Roldan, on the other hand, sat on the right side of the stage. Moments later, Aron came up the stage and greeted Rolly. At about the same time, Franklin also went up the stage and pointed a gun at Rolly.8 He stepped back for about one (1) meter then fired his gun, hitting Rolly on the right chest.9 Merla and Roldan then came up the stage to help Rolly who fell down after the shooting incident. Aron and Franklin immediately fled the scene, carrying with them the gun that was used by Franklin to shoot Rolly.10

Roldan went to the nearby Philippine Ports Authority and asked for help. The guard on duty reported the incident to the Roxas Police Station. Thereafter, a team of police officers arrived and conducted an investigation. Not long after the investigation was conducted, Aron voluntarily surrendered himself to SPO4 Azarcon, a member of the Maritime Police who was stationed in Culasi, Roxas City. Aron was turned over to the investigating police officers, to whom the former allegedly admitted involvement in the shooting incident.11

Unfortunately, Rolly died and his body was brought to De Jesus Funeral Parlor. Dr. Gepillano, the City Health Officer who performed the autopsy on Rolly's body, declared the gunshot wound to be fatal. In her Post Mortem Examination Report,12 Dr. Gepillano stated that Rolly died due to "shock secondary to massive blood loss secondary to gunshot wound to the right chest r/o cardiac tamponade or pneumoperitoneum."13

On the other hand, Aron and Franklin testified and invoked the justifying circumstance of self-defense. The defense presented Rolando dela Cruz and Rechel Villagracia to corroborate their statements. Aron narrated that on the date and time of the shooting incident, he and his brother Franklin were at Sitio Luyo, Barangay Culasi, Roxas City looking for Aron's children. They passed by the plaza where a New Year celebration was being held. Aron saw his son, Arjohn, at the back stage and he proceeded to approach him. While Aron was on the stage, he saw Rolly and greeted him, "Happy New Year." However, Rolly pulled out a gun and pointed it at Aron. Instinctively, Aron parried the gun and they (Aron and Rolly) grappled for its possession. While they were grappling, the gun accidentally fired and Rolly fell down. Aron was left standing with the gun in his hands.14

In a Decision15 dated January 5, 2012, the RTC acquitted Franklin due to lack of evidence against him and found the other accused, Aron, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Homicide under Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) and sentenced him accordingly, thus:

Wherefore, premises considered, finding accused Aron Anisco guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Homicide, he is sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of SIX (6) years and ONE (1) day of prision mayor, as minimum, to TWELVE (12) years and ONE (1) day of Reclusion Temporal, as maximum, and he is ordered to pay the heirs of Rolly Apinan [₱]8,060.00 as actual damages, [₱]50,000.00 as moral damages, [₱]50,000.00 as exemplary damages and [P]75,000.00 as death indemnity.

Franklin Anisco is acquitted for lack of evidence against him.


The RTC gave more weight and credit to the prosecution witnesses pointing to Aron as the person who shot Rolly. Furthermore, it rejected Aron's contention that he had simply acted in self-defense which resulted in Rolly's death. The RTC ruled that Aron failed to adduce sufficient evidence to prove that he acted in self-defense, which is by presenting that all the elements of self-defense are present. Particularly, Aron failed to prove that he adopted reasonable means to repel Rolly's alleged aggression.17

Thereafter, Aron filed a motion for reconsideration which the trial court denied in its Order18 dated March 26, 2012.

Unable to accept the judgment of conviction, Aron appealed to the CA. In a Decision19 dated December 11, 2017, the CA affirmed with modification the Decision of the RTC in that the appellate court directed Aron to pay the heirs of Rolly: (a) ₱8,060.00 as actual damages; (b) ₱75,000.00 as civil indemnity ex delicto; (c) ₱50,000.00 as moral damages; (d) ₱50,000.00 as exemplary damages; and (e) interest at the rate of 6% per annum on all the damages awarded from the date of finality of the Decision until fully paid. The CA found no merit in Aron's argument as the latter failed to clearly and convincingly prove the presence of the elements of self-­defense. Accordingly, the CA found that the prosecution was able to sufficiently establish Aron's guilt beyond reasonable doubt as all the elements specified under Article 249 of the RPC are present.20

The CA further held that the findings of fact of the RTC, its calibration of the testimonies of witnesses and its assessment of their probative weight, as well as its conclusions based on its findings, are accorded by the appellate court with high respect, if not conclusive effect. Absent the showing of a fact or circumstance of weight and influence that was overlooked and, if considered, could affect the outcome of the case, the factual findings and assessment on the credibility of witnesses or other evidence made by the trial court remain binding on the appellate tribunal.21 The dispositive portion of the Decision reads:

Accordingly, the appeal is DENIED. The 5 January 2012 Decision of the Regional Trial Court, 6th Judicial Region, Branch 17, Roxas City, in Criminal Case No. C-055-03-2002, is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION in that all monetary awards for damages shall earn interest at the legal rate of 6% per annum from the finality of this Decision until fully paid.


Unperturbed, Aron filed a Motion for Reconsideration23 dated February 2, 2018 but such was denied in a Resolution24 dated August 16, 2018. The fallo of the Resolution reads as follows:

There being no new or substantial matters raised which would warrant the modification, much less, reversal of Our earlier ruling, accused-appellant's Motion for Reconsideration is DENIED for lack of merit.


With his motion for reconsideration having been denied, Aron seeks redress before this Court via this Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, claiming that:



We deny.

This Court emphasized in Trinidad v. People:27

At the outset, it must be stressed that in criminal cases, an appeal throws the entire case wide open for review and the reviewing tribunal can correct errors, though unassigned in the appealed judgment, or even reverse the trial court's decision based on grounds other than those that the parties raised as errors. The appeal confers upon the Appellate Court full jurisdiction over the case and renders such court competent to examine records, revise the judgment appealed from, increase the penalty, and cite the proper provision of the penal law.28

Proceeding from the foregoing, this Court finds no reason to deviate from the CA's ruling in denying Aron's appeal. Hence, We affirm his conviction for the crime of Homicide.

The crime of Homicide is defined and penalized under Article 249 of the RPC, which reads:

Art. 249. Homicide. - Any person who, not falling within the provisions of Article 246, shall kill another without the attendance of any of the circumstances enumerated in the next preceding article, shall be deemed guilty of homicide and be punished by reclusion temporal.

The elements of Homicide are the following: (a) a person was killed; (b) the accused killed him/her without any justifying circumstance; (c) the accused had the intention to kill, which is presumed; and (d) the killing was not attended by any of the qualifying circumstances of murder, or by that of parricide or infanticide.29

As correctly pointed out by the CA, the prosecution has established all the elements specified above, to wit:

First, that a person was killed was supported by the fact that Rolly's death was duly established by the Death Certificate and the Post Mortem Examination Report prepared by Dr. Gepillano.

Second, Aron invoked self-defense, however, he has not clearly and convincingly proved all the elements of said justifying circumstance. Hence, this Court agrees that the justifying circumstance of self-defense is not applicable.

Third, intent to kill is evident from the use of a deadly weapon which in this case is a gun. In Etino v. People,30 this Court considered the following factors to determine the presence of intent to kill, namely: (1) the means used by the malefactors; (2) the nature, location, and number of wounds sustained by the victim; (3) the conduct of the malefactors before, at the time, or immediately after the killing of the victim; and (4) the circumstances under which the crime was committed; and (5) the motives of the accused.31

Fourth, when Aron shot Rolly, it was not attended by any of the qualifying circumstances of murder, parricide or infanticide.

Aron insists on his acquittal by asserting that the CA committed serious and reversible error in affirming Aron's conviction despite the testimonies of the witnesses for the prosecution that it was allegedly Franklin who shot the victim.

This Court is not convinced. Timeless is the legal adage that the factual findings of the trial court, when affirmed by the appellate court, are conclusive.32

The Court, however, has recognized several exceptions to this rule in Equitable Insurance Corporation v. Transmodal International, Inc.,33 to wit:

(1) when the findings are grounded entirely on speculation, surmises or conjectures; (2) when the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; (3) when there is grave abuse of discretion; (4) when the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts; (5) when the findings of facts are conflicting; (6) when in making its findings the CA went beyond the issues of the case, or its findings are contrary to the admissions of both the appellant and the appellee; (7) when the findings are contrary to the trial court; (8) when the findings are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based; (9) when the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioner's main and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondent; (10) when the findings of fact are premised on the supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record; and (11) when the CA manifestly overlooked certain relevant facts not disputed by the parties, which, if properly considered, would justify a different conclusion.34

After a careful review of the records, none of the exceptions provided above are present in the case. Hence, Aron cannot simply rely on the testimonies of the witnesses for the prosecution that it was Franklin who shot Rolly as gospel truth. As established by the RTC in its Decision, the prosecution's witnesses identified Aron as the person who shot Rolly to death.35 Besides, Aron has pleaded self-defense which presupposes an admission that he shot Rolly.

Aron's invocation of "accidental firing" to support his allegation of self-defense and his reliance on the ruling of this Court in Pomoy v. People36 is utterly misplaced.

In Pomoy, this Court held:

The elements of accident are as follows: 1) the accused was at the time performing a lawful act with due care; 2) the resulting injury was caused by mere accident; and 3) on the part of the accused, there was no fault or no intent to cause the injury. From the facts, it is clear that all these elements were present. At the time of the incident, petitioner was a member - specifically, one of the investigators - of the Philippine National Police (PNP) stationed at the Iloilo Provincial Mobile Force Company. Thus, it was in the lawful performance of his duties as investigating officer that, under the instructions of his superior, he fetched the victim from the latter's cell for a routine interrogation.

Again, it was in the lawful performance of his duty as a law enforcer that petitioner tried to defend his possession of the weapon when the victim suddenly tried to remove it from his holster. As an enforcer of the law, petitioner was duty-bound to prevent the snatching of his service weapon by anyone, especially by a detained person in his custody. Such weapon was likely to be used to facilitate escape and to kill or maim persons in the vicinity, including petitioner himself.37

Clearly, what transpired in Pomoy is different from the present case. Here, Aron is not a member of the Philippine National Police.ℒαwρhi৷ Simply put, the transgression of accidentally firing the gun did not occur because Aron is in lawful performance of his duty. Thus, We do not agree that the CA committed serious error in its assailed Decision.

As regards the penalty imposed, Article 249 of the RPC provides that the crime of Homicide is penalized with reclusion temporal, the range of which is from twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years. However, records show that Aron voluntarily surrendered to the Maritime Police, thus, Article 64 (2) of the RPC will apply. Article 64 (2) of the RPC provides:

ART. 64. Rules for the Application of Penalties which Contain in Three Periods. - In cases in which the penalties by law contain three periods, whether it be a single divisible penalty or composed of three different penalties, each one of which forms a period in accordance with the provisions of Articles 76 and 77, the court shall observe for the application of the penalty the following rules, according to whether there are or are not mitigating or aggravating circumstances:

x x x x

2. When only a mitigating circumstance is present in the commission of the act, they shall impose the penalty in its minimum period.

Verily, following Article 64 (2) of the RPC, the minimum period of reclusion temporal shall be imposed. In Chua v. People,38 this Court had the occasion to rule in such wise:

[A]lthough Article 64 of the Revised Penal Code, which has the set the rules "for the application of penalties which contain three periods," requires under its first rule that the courts should impose the penalty prescribed by law in the medium period should there be neither aggravating nor mitigating circumstances, its seventh rule expressly demands that "[w]ithin the limits of each period, the courts shall determine the extent of the penalty according to the number and nature of the aggravating and mitigating circumstances and the greater or lesser extent of the evil produced by the crime." By not specifying the justification for imposing the ceiling of the period of the imposable penalty, the fixing of the indeterminate sentence became arbitrary, or whimsical, or capricious.39

Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law,40 the minimum period of the sentence shall be taken from the penalty next lower in degree, which in this case is prision mayor, as the minimum term, to reclusion temporal in its minimum period as the maximum term. Thus, the RTC correctly imposed the penalty of six (6) years and (1) day of prision mayor, as minimum, to twelve (12) years and one (1) day of reclusion temporal as maximum.

Likewise, the award of actual damages in the amount of ₱8,060.00 is deemed proper to compensate for Rolly's burial as supported by receipts.

Conformably, the Court enunciated in People v. Jugueta,41 that "when the circumstances surrounding the crime call for the imposition of reclusion perpetua only, there being no ordinary aggravating circumstance, x x x the proper amounts should be ₱75,000.00 as civil indemnity, ₱75,000.00 as moral damages and ₱75,000.00 exemplary damages, regardless of the number of qualifying aggravating circumstances present."42 Accordingly, We affirm the trial court's award of P75,000.00 as civil indemnity ex delicto, and increase the award of moral and exemplary damages from ₱50,000.00 to ₱75,000.00 each.

Civil indemnity proceeds from Article 100 of the RPC, which states that "every person criminally liable is also civilly liable." Its award is mandatory upon a finding that homicide has taken place. Moral damages are awarded to "compensate one for manifold injuries such as physical suffering, mental anguish, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings and social humiliation. These damages must be understood to be in the concept of grants, not punitive or corrective in nature, calculated to compensate the claimant for the injury suffered."43 Finally, exemplary damages may be awarded against a person to punish him for his outrageous conduct. It serves to deter the wrongdoer and others like him from similar conduct in the future.44 The award of this kind of damages in criminal cases stems from Articles 222945 and 223046 of the Civil Code.

Likewise, in conformity with current policy, this Court agrees with the CA in imposing on all the monetary awards for damages, interest at the legal rate of 6% per annum from the date of finality of this Decision until fully paid.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision dated December 11, 2017 and the Resolution dated August 16, 2018 of the Court of Appeals, Cebu City in CA-G.R. CEB-CR No. 02066 are hereby AFFIRMED with further MODIFICATIONS in that petitioner Aron Anisco is ordered to pay the heirs of the victim, Rolly D. Apinan, the amount of ₱75,000.00 as civil indenmity ex delicto, and the increased amounts of ₱75,000.00 as moral damages and ₱75,000.00 exemplary damages. All damages awarded shall earn interest at the rate of six percent (6%) per annum from the date of finality of this Decision until fully paid. With costs against petitioner.


Leonen, (Chairperson), Hernando, Inting, and Rosario, JJ., concur.


1 Rollo, pp. 4-27.

2 Penned by Associate Justice Louis P. Acosta, with Associate Justices Pamela Ann Abella Maxino and Germano Francisco D. Legaspi, concurring; id. at 29-40.

3 Penned by Associate Justice Louis P. Acosta, with Associate Justices Gabriel T. Ingles and Pamela Ann Abella Maxino, concurring; id. at 42-43.

4 Penned by Presiding Judge Edward B. Contreras; id. at 111-118.

5 Id. at 30-31, 111-112.

6 Id. at 31.

7 Id.

8 Id. at 32.

9 Id. at 52.

10 Id. at 32.

11 Id.

12 CA records, pp. 282-283.

13 Rollo, p. 32.

14 Id. at 32-33, 114-116.

15 Id. at 111-118.

16 Id. at 117-118.

17 Id. at 116-117.

18 CA records, p. 484.

19 Id. at 29-40.

20 Id. at 34-38.

21 Id. at 38.

22 Id. at 39-40.

23 Id. at 119-133.

24 Id. at 42-43.

25 Id. at 43.

26 Id. at 11.

27 G.R. No. 239957, February 18, 2019.

28 Id., citing People v. Comboy, 782 Phil. 187, 196 (2016) and Manansala v. People, 775 Phil. 514, 520 (2015).

29 Ambagan, Jr. v. People, 771 Phil. 245, 270 (2015), citing Villanueva v. Caparas, 702 Phil. 609 (2013).

30 826 Phil. 32 (2018).

31 Id. at 44, citing Rivera v. People, 515 Phil. 824, 832 (2006).

32 Pomoy v. People, 482 Phil. 665 (2004).

33 815 Phil. 681 (2017).

34 Id. at 688-689.

35 Rollo, p. 33, 116.

36 482 Phil. 665 (2004).

37 Id. at 689-690.

38 818 Phil. 1 (2017).

39 Id. at 24-25, citing Ladines v. People, 776 Phil. 75, 85-86 (2016).

40 Act No. 4103.

41 783 Phil. 806 (2016).

42 Id. at 840.

43 Id. at 827, citing Del Mundo v. Court of Appeals, 310 Phil. 367, 376 (1995).

44 People v. Ronquillo, 818 Phil. 641, 653 (2017).

45 Article 2229. Exemplary or corrective damages are imposed, by way of example or correction for the public good, in addition to the moral, temperate, liquidated or compensatory damages.

46 Article 2230. In criminal offenses, exemplary damages as a part of the civil liability may be imposed when the crime was committed with one or more aggravating circumstances. Such damages are separate and distinct from fines and shall be paid to the offended party.

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