March 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are selected March 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:

1.     Revised Penal Code

Aggravating circumstance; band. The Supreme Court held that the court a quo erred in finding the appellants guilty of robbery with homicide committed by a band. The Court declared that this is an erroneous denomination of the crime committed as there is no crime of robbery with homicide committed by a band. If robbery with homicide is committed by a band, the indictable offense would still be denominated as robbery with homicide under Article 294(1) of the Revised Penal Code. The element of band would be appreciated as an ordinary aggravating circumstance. People of the Philippines  v. Ngano Sugan, Nga Ben Latam, Gaga Latam, et al, G.R. No. 192789, March 23, 2011.

Evident Premeditation; requisites. For an aggravating circumstance of evident premeditation to be appreciated, all the following elements must be shown: (a) the time when the offender determined to commit the crime; (b) an act manifestly indicating that the culprit has clung to his determination; and (b) sufficient lapse of time between the determination and execution to allow him to reflect upon the consequences of his act. In this case, evident premeditation was not established.  First, there is no showing, much less an indication, that accused-appellant had taken advantage of a sufficient time to carefully plan the killing of Balano; or that a considerable time has lapsed enough for accused-appellant to reflect upon the consequences of his act but nevertheless clung to his predetermined and well-crafted plan.  The prosecution was only able to establish the fact of accused-appellant’s sudden stabbing of Balano after he hid behind the coconut tree.  This fact only successfully establishes the qualifying circumstance of treachery but not the aggravating circumstance of evident premeditation. In appreciating the aggravating circumstance of evident premeditation, it is indispensable that the fact of planning the crime be established. Particularly, it is indispensable to show how and when the plan to kill was hatched or how much time had elapsed before it was carried out. Accordingly, when there is no evidence showing how and when the accused planned to killing and how much time elapsed before it was carried out, evident premeditation cannot prosper. In this case, the prosecution failed to establish how and when the plan to kill Balano was devised.  As this has not been clearly shown, consequently, evident premeditation cannot be appreciated as an aggravating circumstance. People of the Philippines v. Allan Gabrino, G.R. No. 189981, March 9, 2011.

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