Criminal Law

People of the Philippines vs Luciano de Guzman

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G.R. Nos. 135779-81 – 416 SCRA 341 – Criminal Law – Book 1 – Aggravating Circumstances – Treachery Absorbs other Selected Circumstances

At around 8pm on March 9, 1992, Luciano de Guzman and two others (Efren Reyes and Bernard Bustamante) entered the house of the Calamnos. The Calamnos (Presente, Bernardo, and Teofilo) were seated together in a sofa facing the wall. Upon entrance, Luciano and his cohorts fired upon the Calamnos using M-16 and M-14 rifles. The incident was however witnessed by several persons. The accused were later convicted for murder.

ISSUE: Whether or not the aggravating circumstances of nighttime and abuse of strength be appreciated.

HELD: No. The aggravating circumstance of nighttime as well as abuse of superior strength (as the accused outnumbered and out armed the victims for they used high powered guns) are absorbed by treachery. The means and ways employed by the accused ensured them impunity as they fired upon the victims while the victims were facing the wall giving the victims no means to defend themselves. Luciano and his cohorts surrounded the unarmed and defenseless victims and fired at them using high-caliber automatic weapons. Because of the weapons used and the victims’ relative positions, i.e., seated together on a sofa against the wall, the victims could not have defended themselves against appellants’ attack. The fact that the killings were frontal did not negate treachery because the carnage was so sudden and unexpected, and the victims unarmed, that they were not in a position to offer any defense at all.

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