Criminal Law

Lolito Nacnac vs People of the Philippines

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G.R. No. 191913 – 685 Phil. 223 – 668 SCRA 846 – Criminal Law – Justifying Circumstances – Self-Defense – Unlawful Aggression; When Victim is a Trained Police Officer

One evening in February 2003, Police Officer Lolito Nacnac had an argument with Police Officer Doddie Espejo within the premises of the Dingras Police Station in Dingras, Ilocos Norte. Espejo, who had a history of workplace violence, was then drunk and was armed with a calibre .45 tucked in his holster on his right side. Nacnac was armed with a M-16 armalite. At the heat of the argument, Espejo acted as if to draw his gun. This prompted Nacnac to fire a warning shot. Undaunted, Espejo still drew his gun and Nacnac shot Espejo on the head which resulted in Espejo’s death. Nacnac was charged with the death of Espejo. Nacnac invoked self-defense. He was convicted by the trial court as the latter was not convinced that there was unlawful aggression on the part of Espejo to justify self-defense on the part of Nacnac.

ISSUE: Whether or not there is unlawful aggression on the part of Espejo.

HELD: Yes. Ordinarily, the cocking of a rifle (gun) without aiming the firearm at any particular target is not sufficient to conclude that one’s life was in imminent danger. Hence, a threat, even if made with a weapon, or the belief that a person was about to be attacked, is not sufficient. It is necessary that the intent be ostensibly revealed by an act of aggression or by some external acts showing the commencement of actual and material unlawful aggression.

But this case is different because Espejo was a trained police officer. Espejo was inebriated and had disobeyed a lawful order from Nacnac who was his superior. A warning shot fired by Nacnac was left unheeded as Espejo reached for his own firearm and pointed it at Nacnac. Nacnac was, therefore, justified in defending himself from an inebriated and disobedient colleague. A police officer is trained to shoot quickly and accurately. A police officer cannot earn his badge unless he can prove to his trainors that he can shoot out of the holster quickly and accurately. Given this factual backdrop, there is reasonable basis to presume that the appellant indeed felt his life was actually threatened. Facing an armed police officer like himself, who at that time, was standing a mere five meters from Nacnac, Nacnac knew that he has to be quick on the draw. It is worth emphasizing that Espejo, being a policeman himself, is presumed to be quick in firing.

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