by Tristan

RODEL URBANO v. PEOPLE, GR No. 182750, 2009-01-20

Facts:

On September 28, 1993,... the victim Brigido Tomelden and petitioner were at the compound of the Lingayen Water District

While inside the compound, the two had a heated altercation in the course of which Tomelden hurled insulting remarks at petitioner. Reacting, petitioner asked why Tomelden, when drunk, has the penchant of insulting petitioner.

The exchange of words led to an exchange of blows.

Then petitioner delivered a "lucky punch," as described by... eyewitness Orje Salazar, on Tomelden's face, which made Tomelden topple down. Tomelden was on the verge of hitting his head on the ground had their companions not caught him and prevented the fall. The blow, however, caused Tomelden's nose to bleed and rendered him... unconscious.

Upon arriving home... omelden informed his wife, Rosario,... of the fight the previous night and of his having been rendered unconscious. He complained of pain in his nape, head, and ear which impelled Rosario to immediately bring him to the Lingayen Community Hospital

On October 8, 1993, Rosario brought Tomelden to the Sison Memorial

Provincial Hospital... where the attending physician, Dr. Ramon Ramos, diagnosed Tomelden suffering from "brain injury, secondary to mauling to consider cerebral hemorrhage.

Tomelden died at 9:00 p.m. of that day due, per Dr. Arellano, to "cardio-respiratory arrest secondary to cerebral concussion with resultant cerebral hemorrhage due to mauling incident.

On April 30, 2001, the RTC rendered judgment finding petitioner guilty as charged.

Issues:

petitioner now urges the Court to set aside the appealed decision, or at least modify it, maintaining that the appellate court:... erred in not appreciating the mitigating circumstances of sufficient provocation on the part of the victim and lack of intent to commit so grave a wrong in favor of the petitioner.

Ruling:

It was through the direct accounts of the prosecution witnesses of the events that transpired during the fisticuff incident... more specifically the landing of the "lucky punch" on the face of [Tomelden], taken together with the result of the medical examinations... and autopsy report which described the death of the victim as "cardio-respiratory arrest secondary to cerebral concussion with resultant cerebral hemorrhage due to mauling incident" that we are convinced that the "lucky punch" was the proximate cause of [Tomelden's] death. The... prosecution had satisfactorily proven that it was only after the incident that transpired on September 28, 1993 that the victim was hospitalized on several occasions until he expired, twelve days later

It is moreover of no consequence whether the victim was able to report... for work during the intervening days

When the law speaks of provocation either as a mitigating circumstance or as an essential element of self-defense, the reference is to an unjust or improper conduct of the offended party capable of exciting, inciting, or irritating anyone;[12]... it is not... enough that the provocative act be unreasonable or annoying;[13]... the provocation must be sufficient to excite one to commit the wrongful act[14]... and should immediately precede the act.[15]

This third requisite of... self-defense is present: (1) when no provocation at all was given to the aggressor; (2) when, even if provocation was given, it was not sufficient; (3) when even if the provocation was sufficient, it was not given by the person defending himself; or (4) when even if a... provocation was given by the person defending himself, it was not proximate and immediate to the act of aggression.[16]

In the instant case, Tomelden's insulting remarks directed at petitioner and uttered immediately before the fist fight constituted sufficient provocation. This is not to mention other irritating statements made by the deceased while they were having beer in Bugallon. Petitioner... was the one provoked and challenged to a fist fight.

WHEREFORE, the CA Decision... hereby MODIFIED by decreasing the term of imprisonment.

The rest of the judgment is hereby AFFIRMED.

Principles:

In People v. Macaso,[20] a case where the accused police officer shot and killed a motorist for repeatedly taunting him with defiant words, the Court appreciated the mitigating circumstance of sufficient... provocation or threat on the part of the offended party immediately preceding the shooting. The Court had the same attitude in Navarro v. Court of Appeals,[21] a case also involving a policeman who killed a man after the latter challenged him to a... fight. Hence, there is no rhyme or reason why the same mitigating circumstance should not be considered in favor of petitioner.

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