Criminal Law

People of the Philippines vs Nicanor Salome

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G.R No. 169077 – 500 SCRA 659 (532 Phil. 368) – Criminal Law – Book 1 – Aggravating Circumstances – Dwelling

Civil Law – Torts and Damages – Exemplary Damages; When awarded in criminal cases

In July 1997, Nicanor Salome entered the house where 13-year old Sally Idanan was sleeping. He poked a knife against her neck and then after raped her. He threatened Idanan so that Idanan may not report the incident to authorities. But when she found that she’s pregnant she reported the incident. In court, Salome raised the defense of alibi claiming that he went fishing at the time of the incident. Salome was convicted for rape aggravated by the use of bladed weapon and dwelling. He was sentenced to death and was ordered to pay civil indemnity as well as to provide support to the child.

On automatic review, Salome argued, among others, that dwelling should not be appreciated because the prosecution must first prove that Idanan did not unlawfully provoke Salome.

ISSUE: Whether or not dwelling should be appreciated against Salome in the instant case.

HELD: Yes. Salome entered the house of Idanan and in the same place he raped Idanan. The testimony of Idanan that she was sleeping when Salome entered the house is sufficient proof that there was no unlawful provocation on her part.

The use of bladed weapon as an aggravating circumstance was likewise appreciated against Salome. His sentence was supposed to be death, however, pursuant to Republic Act No. 9346 which prohibited the death penalty, his penalty was reduced to reclusion perpetua with no chance for parole.

As to damages, exemplary damages should be awarded too due to the presence of at least one aggravating circumstance.

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NOTE: Art. 2230 of the Civil Code provides: 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.

Also worth reading in relation to exemplary damages: People vs Orilla (G.R. Nos. 148939-40, 13 February 2004)

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