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G.R.No.L38095

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RepublicofthePhilippines
SUPREMECOURT
Manila
ENBANC
G.R.No.L38095August10,1981
THEPEOPLEOFTHEPHILIPPINES,plaintiffappellee
vs.
CARLOSMELENDRES,ANTONIOGERODIASandSOFRONIOGONZALES,defendantsappellants.

ABADSANTOS,J.:
Automatic review of the decision of the Circuit Criminal Court, Pasig, Rizal, in CCCVII1226 RIZAL, convicting
CARLOSMELENDRES,ANTONIOGERODIASandSOFRONIOGONZALESofmurderandfrustratedmurder,for
thedeathofAngelMonteroandtheseriouswoundingofAnianoCatipay,andimposingonthemthedeathpenalty
forthemurder.
Atabout4.00o'clockintheafternoonofSeptember28,1971,astabbingtookplaceatBrigade2AoftheNew
Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa, Rizal. Aniano Catipay and Angel Montero were assaulted inside Cell No. I by their
fellow inmates who belonged to the OXOKKK gang. Angel Montero died near the door. The necropsy report
showsthathesustained9stabwounds,4ofwhich'herefatal.Dr.ErnestoBrion,NBImedicolegalexpert,testified
that the stab wounds could have been inflicted with any one of the improvised bladed weapons on exhibit
(Exhibits"B","F",and"G")orallofthemusedsimultaneously.AnianoCatipaysurviveddespite11stabwounds,
thewoundonhisabdomenbeingalmostfatalasitcausedmultipleperforationsinthesmallintestine.Wereitnot
fortheimmediateexploratorysurgeryperformedonhimbyDr.RicardodeVera(oftheNBPHospital),hewould
havediedofperitonitisandhemorrhage.
IntheinvestigationconductedbyNBPguardinvestigator,PrimitiveArias,immediatelyaftertheincident,Nimrod
Egonia,anotherinmate,disclosedthathewitnessedthestabbingofCatipayandMontero.HepointedatCarlos
Melendres alias "Jr. Blackie", Rodolfo Molina alias "Bilat," Antonio Gerodias alias "Demonyo," and Sofronio
Gonzales alias "Ponyong", as the assailants. Later, he executed an affidavit (Exhibit "K") affirming what he had
said to Primitive Arias. The four were then in the prison hospital, having been injured when they resisted the
prison guards who subdued them after the incident. However, according to Arias he was able to interview
SofronioGonzaleswhoadmittedverballyhisparticipationinthestabbing.OnNovember22,1971,PrimitiveArias
investigatedthesefoursuspectswhoexecutedtheirrespectiveaffidavits(Exhibit"G"forRodolfoMolina,Exhibit
"F"forCarlosMelendres,Exhibit"H"forAntonioGerodias,andExhibit"I"forSofronioGonzales).
Whereupon,thefollowinginformationwasfiled:
TheundersignedSpecialProsecutor,byauthorityofAdministrativeOrderNo.22,seriesof1971,of
theSecretaryofJustice,herebyaccusesCARLOSMELENDRES,No.52492PRODOLFOMOLINA,
No. 49198P ANTONIO GERODIAS, No. 56618P and SOFRONIO GONZALES, No. 40631P, all
prisoners confined at the New Bilibid Prisons, Muntinlupa, Rizal, of having committed the crime of
MURDER,inviolationofArticle248oftheRevisedPenalCode,committedasfollows:
ThatonoraboutSeptember28,1971,intheNewBilibidPrison,Muntinlupa,Rizal,Philippines,and
withinthejurisdictionofthisHonorableCourt,thesaidaccused,whilethenservingsentencesinthe
saidinstitution,conspiring,confederating,actingtogetherandmutuallyhelpingeachother,withintent
to kill and with treachery and evident premeditation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniouslyattack,assaultandstabAngelMontero,No.54319PandAnianoCatipay,No.61469P,
allconvictedprisonersconfinedinthesaidinstitution,therebyinflictinguponAngelMontero,multiple
stab wounds in the different parts of his body, which wounds directly produced his death, and
simultaneouslyinflictinguponAnianoCatipay,stabwounds,thusperformingalltheactsofexecution
whichwouldhaveproducedthecrimeofMurderasaconsequencethereofbutnevertheless,didnot
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produce it by reason of causes independent of their will, that is by the timely medical assistance
extendedbytheNewBilibidPrisonHospital.
Arraigned on October 21, 1972, the accused pleaded not guilty. Rodolfo Molina alias "Bilat" died on March
12,1973,inthecourseofthetrial.
After trial, the Circuit Criminal Court rendered the decision of January 18, 1974, with the following dispositive
portion:
WHEREFORE, finding the accused, Carlos Melendres, Antonio Gerodias and Sofronio Gonzales,
GUILTY, beyond reasonable doubt, of the crime of Murder, as defined under Article 248 of the
RevisedPenalCode,aschargedintheinformation,theCourtherebysentencesthemtosufferthe
penalty of DEATH to indemnify the heirs of the victim the amount of P10,000.00, jointly and
severallytopaymoraldamagesintheamountofP5,000.00andanotherP5,000.00,asexemplary
damages,jointlyandseverallyandtopaytheirproportionatesharesofthecosts.
Likewise,findingtheaccused,SofronioGonzales,CarlosMelendres,andAntonioGerodias,GUILTY,
beyond reasonable doubt, of the crime of Frustrated Murder, as defined under Article 250 of the
Revised Penal Code, in relation to article 248 thereto, as charged in the information, the Court
herebysentenceseachoneofthemtosufferthepenaltyofTEN(10)YEARSandONE(1)DAYof
prision mayor, as minimum to SEVENTEEN (17) YEARS and FOUR MONTHS of prision mayor, as
maximum to indemnify the heirs of the offended party the amount of P5,000.00 to pay moral
damages in the amount of P3,000.00, and another P3,000.00 as exemplary damages, jointly and
severally,andtopaytheirproportionatesharesofthecosts.
For this review, Melendres, Gerodias and Gonzales through counsel de oficio, point as errors, the trial court's
findingthattheykilledMonteroandseriouslywoundedCatipay,orwhatamountstothesamething,thattheguilt
of the accused had been proved beyond reasonable doubt. And, arguing on the assumption that the crime
charged had been committed, it is asserted that the death penalty should not have been imposed. However, a
scrupulousscrutinyoftherecordsdisclosesnocircumstanceorfactofsubstancewhichcouldjustifyareversalof
the trial court's finding. On the contrary, such finding is amply supported by clear, convincing and conclusive
evidence which allows no reasonable doubt as to the participation of the accusedappellants in the crimes
imputedtothem.
During the trial, Carlos Melendres admitted having stabbed Aniano Catipay, but denied having stabbed Angel
Montero.HeaffirmedtheexecutionofhisaffidavitdatedNovember22,1971,Exhibit"F",whereinheadmittedthe
stabbing of Catipay and Montero, but claimed that he admitted the stabbing of Montero because he was afraid
that if he did not he would be harmed by the prison guards. Antonio Gerodias and Sofronio Gonzales, also
affirmedtheexecutionoftheirrespectiveaffidavitsbothdatedNovember22,1971,(Exhibits"H"and"I")wherein
theydisownedanypartinthestabbingincident.
Aniano Catipay positively recognized and Identified those who attacked him and Montero. He named them as
"Rodias"(AntonioGerodias),"Ponyong"(SofronioGonzales),"Bilat"(thedeceasedRodolfoMolina)and"Blackie"
(CarlosMelendres).Referringto"Rodiasand"Ponyong"hepointedattwopersonswhoansweredbythenames
of Antonio Gerodias and Sofronio Gonzales. Though he did not know Carlos Melendres by his real name, it
turnedoutthat"Blackie"wasnootherthanCarlosMelendres.
AnianoCatipaycouldnothavefailedtorecognizetheaccused,becausehewashimselfaVictimoftheassault.A
truismfoundedontheordinarycourseofthingsisthatvictimsofcriminalviolenceoftenstrivehardtorecognize
andIdentifytheirassailants.And,soitwaswithAnianoCatipay.
Thus,hetestified:
DIRECTEXAMINATIONBY
FISCALSANTOS
QWherewereyouonSeptember28,1971,atabout4:00P.M.?

AIwasinourbrigade,2a,sir.
QYouareaprisonerintheNBP?
AYessir.
Q When you were there on that date and time, was there anything unusual that
happened?
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AIwasstabbed.
QBywhom?
AByRodias,Ponyong,BilatandBlackie.
QIfthesepersonsyoumentionedarehere,willyoupointtothem?
AOnlytwoarehere.Oneisalreadydeadandtheotheroneisnothere.(Witnessgoing
down and tapping the shoulders of two persons who when asked answered by the
namesofAntonioGerodiasandSofronioGonzales.)
QTheaccusedwhowasalreadydead,whoisthat?
AHeisknownbythenameBilatbutIdonotknowtherealname.
QHowmanystabsdidyoureceive?
A11.
QFromthesetwo?
ANo.theywerefour.Oneisalreadydead.
QYouarereferringtoCarlosMelendresandAntonioGerodias?
AYessir.
QAndSofronioGonzales?
ANo,theotheronecalledBlackie,thebiggerone.
QWhathappenedthereinthebrigade?
AIwasstabbedandalsoMontero.
QWhathappenedtoMonterowhenhewasstabbed?
AHerantothepasilio.
QDoyouknowifheisalreadydeadbecauseofthatstabbing?
AIknowthatheisalreadydead.
QWhenyouwerestabbed,wherewereyoubrought?
ATothehospital,Iwastreated.
QWereyouoperatedon?
A Yes, I was operated on for a big scar reaching about 4 inches (surgical). It was
explorotomysurgery.Iwasalsotreatedofascarattherightsideofmybodyandatthe
back.(Witnessshowinghisscars.)Ireceivedthreestabwoundsattheback,twoatthe
rightsideandtwoinfrontoneattheupperrightchestoneatthestomachandtwoat
theupperrightarmoneattheforearmandoneattheknee.
QWhatwasyourpositionatthetimeyoureceivedthesestabsattheback?
AIwasleaningbythewindow.
QWithwhatwereyoustabbed?
AAsharpinstrument.
QHowmanypersonstabbedyou?
A At first I was stabbed by one and when I ran towards the wide pasilio, 3 persons
blockedmyway.
QWhowasthatfirstpersonwhostabbedyou?
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ABilat,theonewhodiedalready,orRodolfoMolina.
QAndthepersonswhoblockedyourway?
ARodias,BlackieandPonyong.
QIsthisBlackieyoumentionedinCourtnow?
ANosir.
QWhoweretheotherswhoblockedyourway?
ARemitoandVillamorwhowerealreadyreleased.
QWhatdidAntonioGerodiasdotoyou?
AHestabbedme,onmyrightside.
QWherewasGerodiasinrelationtoyouatthetimehestabbedyouonyourrightside?
AHewasinfrontofme.
QHowmanytimesdidGerodiasstabyou?
ATwotimeswhenhewasabletoenterthebrigade.Iwaslyingfacedownward.
QHowaboutSofronioGonzales,howmanytimesdidhestabyou?
AThreeofthemstabbedmeatthesametimeandSofroniowasoneofthem.
QWithwhatdidSofronioGonzalesstabyou?
ABurikiorleadpipe,sharpenedatthetip.
Q I am showing you several weapons, will you show to the Court this buriki which
accordingtoyouwasusedbyGonzalesinstabbingyou?
AThatbigone.(Witnesspointingtoasplittedleadpipewithsharptipcoveredwithan
orangecoloredclothwhichservesasahandle.)
Q We would like to request that this weapon Identified by the witness be marked as
Exhibit"A"fortheprosecution.
COURT:
Markit."
(TSN,December11,1973,pp.24).
That the accused stabbed to death Angel Montero is established by the testimony of Aniano Catipay. And he
shouldhaveknownbecauseAngelMonterowaswithhimincellNo.1,andtheywerestabbedtogether.
FISCALSANTOS
QWhenyouwerestabbed,doyouknowwhereAngelMonterowasatthattime?
AHewaswithme,insideDormitory2a.
QWhostabbedMontero?
AThegroupofGerodias,butIonlyknowtheirnicknames,asBlackie,Saging,Ponyong,
BilatandRoger.
QIsBlackieincourtnow?
ANo,onlytwoarehere,RodiasandPonyong.
QIsCarlosMelendreshere?
AIdonotknowCarlosMelendres.
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QWhenMonterowasstabbed,whatwashedoing?
ANone,hejustcamefromhisworkandhehadjustentered.
QDoyouknowwhatcelltheseaccusedbelong.?
ACell1.
QWheredidthisstabbingoccur?
AIntheircellbecausetheytalkedtome.
QDoyouknowwhetherMonterowasarmedwhenhewasstabbed?Anddidyouhear
himsayanythingwhenhewasstabbed?
ANo,becausehesuddenlylookedup.
QWherewashefacing?
AWeweretalkingwithBlackie.
COURT
QWhenyouwerestabbed,whatdidyousay?
AIwasnotabletosayanything.Iwasjusttryingtoevadethem.
QWhy,wastheattacksudden?
A Yes, sir, we were attacked suddenly at the same time. Myself and Montero." (TSN,
December11,1973,pp.56).
On crossexamination, Aniano Catipay declared that he and Rodolfo Montero were called and brought by the
accused to cell No. 1. He stood beside Montero, and rested his hand on a post. Montero was then looking
upward."Blackie"toldhimthat"somethinghappened"tothem(theaccused)atcellNo.7,towhichheanswered
thathehadnothingtodowithit.Justthen,"Rodias"stabbedMontero.HesawBlackieblinkhiseyesand"Bilat"
stabbed him. Montero ran to the door but collapsed. "Ponyong" stabbed Montero again. He ran past Montero,
intending to reach the corridor, but "Rodias," "Blackie," and Ponyong blocked his way. And they ganged up on
him.Hereceived11stabwounds.
Hestatedthathewasstabbedbecauseherefusedtohavehis"BCJ"(BatangCityJail)tatoo,erased.But,hedid
notknowwhyMonterowasstabbed.
HesaidthathewenttocellNo.1confidentlyandunsuspectingly,sincetheaccusedwerealsofromtheVisayas,
andtheyallbelongedtoOXOgang.Theaccused,however,had"OXOKKK"tatoo,whilehewasmarked"OXO
BCJ32".Itwasthis"BCJ"thattheaccusedwantedtoerase.
Nimrod Egonia was another eyewitness. Corroborating Aniano Catipay, he stated that he saw Rodolfo Molina
("Bilat") and Carlos Melendres ("Blackie") stab Catipay, and Antonio Gerodias ("Rodias" or "Demonyo") and
SofronioGonzales("Ponyong")stabAngelMontero.
As aforesaid, Egonia disclosed the Identity of the assailants to Primitive Arias, the prison guardinvestigator,
immediatelyaftertheincident.Hisstatementmaywellbedeemedpartofresgestae.Itwasgivenspontaneously
andimmediatelysubsequenttothestabbingincidentwhentherewasyetnoopportunityforfabrication.
Some two hours later, Egonia executed a sworn statement (Exhibit "K") before Primitive Arias, reciting what he
hadpreviouslytoldArias.HeaffirmedthevoluntaryexecutionofExhibit"K"incourt.
ThatAngelMonterowasstabbedbyseveralassailants,findssupportinthetestimonyofDr.ErnestoBrion(NBI
medico legal expert). Testifying that Montero died of multiple stab wounds, Dr. Brion stated that such wounds
weresimultaneouslyinflictedinrapidsuccessionbyseveralassailants.And,describingtherelativepositionofthe
victimandtheassailants,hesaidthat"oneassailantmusthavebeeninfrontattherightofthevictim,whilethe
othermustbeatthebacktotheleftofthevictim."
Ontheotherhand,theaccusedAntonioGerodias("Rodias"or"Demonyo")andSofronioGonzales("Ponyong")
denied any participation in the incident. According to Gerodias, he was near the door of Brigade 2A when the
incidentoccuredandhewantatoncetohiscellinbrigade2A.AccordingtoGonzales,hewasbetweencellNos.
1and2,andhealsorantohiscell,cellNo.1.
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Suchdenialcannot,however,prevailoverthepositiveandconclusiveIdentificationmadebyAnianoCatipayand
Nimrod Egonia. It should also be recalled that immediately after the stabbing incident, Sofronio Gonzales
confessed,though,orally,hisguilttoPrimitiveArias.Besides,GonzalesandGerodiasonlybetrayedthemselves
whentheysaidthattheyrepairedtotheircells.ItshouldbenotedthatCatipayandMonterowereassaultedinside
cellNo.1atBrigade2A.TheuncontradictedtestimonyofAnianoCatipayisthattheaccusedwherecellmatesin
cellNo.1.ItwasthesamecelltowhichGonzalesandGerodiasallegedlyran.Gonzales,himself,said,heranto
cellNo.1.And,Gerodiassaidherantohis"cellin[Brigade]2A."Inotherwords,whiletheyweresayingthatthey
hadnothingtodowiththecriminalassaultonCatipayandMontero,theywerealsosayingthatatthetimeofthe
assault,theyrantotheveryplaceoftheassault.
Forhispart,CarlosMelendres"Blackie",admittedhavingattackedAnianoCatipay.He,however,deniedhaving
assaulted Angel Montero, pointing to Rodolfo Molina ("Bilat") as the assailant. He said, he attacked Catipay,
becausethelatterwasblockingMolinawhowasabouttostabMontero.And,hewantedMonterotodiebecause
he was a squealer" (inmates' term for a gang turncoat). Thus, he repuditated his affidavit (Exhibit "F", dated
November 22, 1971), wherein he stated that he stabbed Aniano Catipay and Angel Montero several times. He
statedthathewasonlyforcedtoadmitthestabbingofMonterobecausehewas"afraidtogethurt."He,however,
admittedthathevoluntarilyexecutedtheswornstatementbeforePrimitiveAriaswhodidnotintimidatenorcoerce
himintosigninghisstatement.Sufficeittosaythattheswornstatementtakentogetherwiththeotherevidenceof
theprosecutionclearlyestablishtheculpabilityofCarlosMelendres.
We,therefore,seenocompellingreasontoreversethefindingofthecourtaquothat Angel Montero died and
AnianoCatipaywasseriouslywoundedintheconcertedassaultmadebytheaccusedappellants,(includingthe
deceased Rodolfo Molina). It also correctly found that the concerted assault was qualified by treachery. The
attackwassosudden,andatatimewhenitwasleastexpected,asthevictimsweretalkingfacetofacewiththe
accused. Catipay and Montero were caught offguard, a situation which, for the accused, insured the
consummation of the assault without risk to themselves. It did not appear that anyone of the accused was
wounded.
Theaccusedappellantsarequasirecidivists.Jusstrictum,deathpenaltyasthemaximumpenaltyforthemurder
ofAngelMonteroshouldbeimposedonthem.
But,justiceisnotblindtocompassion.ThewretchedconditionsintheNationalBilibidPrison,i.e.,congestedcells,
meager allowance for meals, and sheer boredom of routinary activities, are matters of judicial notice. Such
miserableconditionsfarfromrehabilitatingtheinmates,onlydrivethebestialinthem.
AsinPeoplevs.Garcia,etal.,(G.R.L40106,March15,1980,96SCRA497)citingPeoplevs.deLosSantos,(L
190678,July30,1965,45SCRA702),thedeathpenaltyshouldbecommutedtoreclusionperpetua.
WHEREFORE, the judgment of the court a quo is modified in that instead of the death penalty each of the
appellantsisherebysentencedtosufferreclusionperpetuaforthemurderbutaffirmedinallotherrespects.No
specialpronouncementastocosts.
SOORDERED.
Teehankee,ActingCJ,Barredo,Aquino,ConcepcionJr.,Fernandez,Guerrero,DeCastroandMelencioHerrera,
JJ.,concur.
Fernando,CJ,isonleave.
Makasiar,J.,votefortotalaffirmanceofthejudgmentofthetrialcourt.
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