G.R. No. 185209 June 28, 2010
People of the Philippines
RENE BARON et. al.
At about 9 o’clock in the evening of June 28, 1995 at Hda. Sta. Ana, Brgy. Burgos, Cadiz City, Negros Occidental, Philippines, the accused Rene Baron, Rey Villatima, and alias “Dedong” bargo, conspiring, confederating and helping one another with evident premeditation and treachery and with intent to kill, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously assault, attack and stab to death one Juanito Berallo in order to rob, steal and take away the latter’s sidecar and motorcycle, wallet, and wristwatch; and inflicted multiple stabbed wounds which directly caused the victim’s death.
Appellant, Rene Baron, denied any participation in the crime. He claimed that on June 28, 1995, at around 7 o’clock in the evening, he bought rice and other necessities for his family and proceeded to the public transport terminal to get a ride home where he chanced upon the deceased and his two passengers who insisted that he came along for the trip. During said trip, the two passengers announced a hold-up and thereafter tied the driver’s hands and dragged him towards the sugarcane fields while Baron stayed in the tricycle. Baron was then accompanied by the two passengers back to his house where he and his wife were threatened at gunpoint not to report the incident to the authorities.
On February 12, 2002, the trial court rendered a Decision finding the appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the complex crime of robbery with homicide.
Before the appellate court, appellant alleged that the trial court erred in finding him guilty as charged and in not appreciating in his favor the exempting circumstance of irresistible force and/or uncontrollable fear of an equal or greater injury. However, the same was disregarded by the CA holding that all the requisites for said circumstances were lacking.
Is the appellant entitled to the exempting circumstances of irresistible force and/or uncontrollable fear of an equal or greater injury?
No. The appellant’s attempt to evade criminal liability by insisting that he acted under the impulse of an uncontrollable fear of an equal or greater injury fails to impress. To avail of this exempting circumstance, the evidence must establish: (1) the existence of an uncontrollable fear; (2) that the fear must be real and imminent; and (3) the fear of an injury is greater than or at least equal to that committed. A threat of future injury is insufficient. The compulsion must be of such a character as to leave no opportunity for the accused to escape.
The Court found nothing in the records to substantiate appellant’s insistence that he was under duress from his co-accused in participating in the crime. In fact, the evidence was to the contrary. Villatima and Bargo dragged the victim towards the sugarcane field and left the appellant inside the tricycle that was parked by the roadside. While all alone, he had every opportunity to escape since he was no longer subjected to a real, imminent or reasonable fear. Surprisingly, he opted to wait for his co-accused to return and even rode with them to Kabankalan, Negros Occidental to hide the victim’s motorcycle in the house of Villatima’s aunt.
The appellant had other opportunities to escape since he traveled with his co-accused for more than 10 hours and passed several transportation terminals. However, he never tried to escape or at least request for assistance from the people around him. From the series of proven circumstantial evidence, the inescapable and natural conclusion was the three accused were in conspiracy with one another to kill the victim and cart away the motorcycle.