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[ GR No. 6061, Mar 18, 1911 ]



19 Phil. 111

[ G. R. No. 6061, March 18, 1911 ]




This case is before us en consulta from a death sentence rendered March 4,  1910, by the  Hon.  Albert E. McCabe, judge of the Tenth Judicial District, against  Mateo Pado (alias Bangit)  and Fausto Garfin, for the crime of murder.

The defendant, Mateo Pado (alias Bangit), pleaded guilty and on the  trial of  his codefendant,  Fausto Garfin,  gave a detailed account of the crime charged in the information and the circumstances that led up to  the commission of the deed, incriminating  himself, his son-in-law, Laurencio Indo (who  was  subsequently  shot  by the Constabulary  while attempting  to escape arrest), and his codefendant, Fausto Garfin, as joint perpetrators of the crime.

The defendant Fausto  Garfin pleaded not guilty.  As  a witness in his own behalf he admitted that he was present at the house of his brother-in-law, Julian Masuelas, on the evening of  December  24, 1909,  when  the  latter and his mother, Lucia Copertino,  were murdered, and that he then carried a bolo, but  claims that instead of having caused Bangit and  Laurencio to come there to murder his brother-in-law and family, he himself was one of the victims of the assault, but  had the good  fortune to escape from the  house uninjured.

The night before the double murder  was committed, about the hour for evening prayers, Fausto Garfin presented himself at the house of the defendant Bangit in  the barrio of Alimudias for the purpose of securing the latter's aid in killing his elder sister and her husband, assigning as a reason for the proposition that the proposed victims were witches. Bangit's only opposition to engaging in this enterprise was that he did not know where the barro in which the proposed victims resided was located.   This objection was overcome by Fausto who assured him  that he would accompany him and  point out the place.  Starting immediately from  the barrio of Alimudias, accompanied  by Laurencio Indo,  the three men, after walking all night, arrived early the next morning in the barrio of Cadolonan where Fausto and  the proposed  victims lived.  The next day, Friday, December 24, 1909,  they spent at Fausto's house. They dined at  his house  and sharpened  their bolos for the evening's work. Bangit's account of the subsequent occurrences is as follows:

"My conscience would not allow me to  do this wrongful act, and I told him, 'Fausto, I  am going to leave.  I am going away,' and Fausto stated, 'No, don't be afraid because there will be three of us; you will follow and when I get to  the house I will strike the first blow and then you two will strike also;' and we left Fausto's house, Fausto walking ahead and I following behind, came upstairs into Julian's house;  his older sister was sitting on  the bench.  Then Fausto and I sat at her side and Laurencio, my son-in-law, sat  by me, and we did not kill his older sister yet because Julian was not there  at the house but  was in the street, and then  his sister,  Fausto's sister, asked  him, 'What do you come here for?' and I answered, 'We came to buy some tobacco  for chewing purposes/ and Julian had not arrived yet, and shortly afterwards Julian came and he entered the house and stood near his wife and  Fausto was yet sitting on the bench.  He attracted my attention by touching my foot.   In other words meaning to rush and strike.  I stood up then. My son-in-law also stood up and went to the other  side as if trying to circle around both of those persons, and I went to  where  Julian was  standing and stood  beside him.   As I did this, Fausto stood up and immediately struck his sister while I at the same time struck Julian and my son-in-law struck the  old. woman, and after we had delivered these blows, Fausto immediately jumped out of the house, passing through one of the side rooms, and then my son-in-law and myself searched around the house to see if there were any persons therein living yet.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *
"Q. Who killed Julian and Lucia? - A. My son-in-law and myself killed Julian and Lucia, but Fausto struck Julian once before he died."
Fernanda Garfin, Julian's wife and Fausto's sister, corroborates Bangit as to the absence of her husband when the two strangers accompanied by Fausto arrived at their house on the evening of the murder, and as to the pretense Bangit made  of coming there to buy some  chewing tobacco.  Fernanda testifies that after her husband returned to the house he held a short conversation  with the two strangers, and then, instead of sitting down to eat supper with her and the children, began  walking the floor.   While she was  eating and he was  walking the floor to and fro Bangit "struck him with the bolo, and Fausto also struck him in the back of his ear and then I  tamed around and  I said, 'What is this, Fausto?  Have you conspired to kill my husband?' And Fausto then jumped out from the house, leaving through the kitchen."  Fernanda also describes  the struggle she made to rescue her husband  from  the blows of Bangit, in  which she seems to have been successful  until the third man, Bangit's son-in-law, came to the old man's rescue and with his bolo cut  loose both her hands from her grasp on Bangit, and inflicted other grave and serious wounds upon her body. Fernanda then fell  to the floor almost unconscious and remained in this state until Bangit and his son-in-law left the house.

Seeing the brave fight  put up by Fernanda  to save her husband Julian,  the latter's  mother, Lucia Copertino, one of the deceased  named in the information, came  to Fernanda's assistance, and  at the same time crying for help. At that moment Laurencio Indo, Bangit's son-in-law, made a lunge at her with his weapon, stabbing her in the stomach. As a direct result of this  wound Lucia died immediately. Bang-it and his son-in-law then proceeded to  make away with the two little boys, sons of Julian and Fernanda.  These boys, aged nine and ten years, received  grave wounds  in different parts of their bodies, and  no doubt were  left for dead.  The boys, however, will probably  recover, although one of them at the time of the trial was yet in a serious condition.

The testimony of Bangit and Fernanda, as to Fausto inflicting a blow on the  head of Julian with his bolo before he made his escape, is  corroborated by  the testimony  of Miguel Masuelas, one of the little boys, who swore positively that he saw this blow struck by Fausto.

According to the testimony of Fausto Garfin he went to his sister's  house  about eight o'clock on the night  of December 24th to pay a visit.  When he arrived Julian, his brother-in-law, had gone out to look for  his (Julian's) little boy.   On entering the house he took a seat and began talking with his sister.  After a short time he laid down upon the floor on account of having been drinking  a great deal of tuba and then being in an intoxicated state.  While he was lying on the floor  Julian came in and abused him for being drunk.  He then got up arid on leaving the premises he fell against a  fence  knocking it down and  destroying some of Julian's plants.  On account of the  destruction  of these plants Julian became very angry with him.  He then went away, but feeling that  he should apologize for these acts he returned to the house  (Julian's)  for this purpose, and while  in said house Bangit and Laurencio  entered, giving as  their excuse for so doing that they  wanted  to purchase some chewing tobacco.  They entered into a conversation with Julian and his wife and shortly thereafter, without any  reason, they began attacking the family, including himself, and that fortunately he had the good luck to escape uninjured.   This testimony of Fausto is entirely uncorroborated.  According to his own testimony he made no effort to assist this family against this unlawful attack. He did not return to the house to see what had happened, neither did he notify any of the local officials, or anyone else,  of what was taking place in the house of his sister. On the other hand, the account of the crime as given by Bangit is frank and consistent and is fully corroborated by the surrounding circumstances and by the direct and positive testimony  of Fernanda Garfin  and her little  son Miguel Masuelas.  The gutft, by direct participation, of the two defendants of the crime charged in the complaint has been established beyond peradventure of a doubt.

There was present in the  commission of this crime the qualifying circumstance of known premejditation  inasmuch as it  has been shown that the defendants formed a design to kill the two deceased at least twenty-four hours before the acts were committed.  During this period of time they discussed in detail the manner in which this, plan was to be executed.  They spent the whole day at Fausto's house sharpening  their bolos and perfecting their plans.  This circumstance raises the crime to that of murder.  The fact that the crime was committed in the house of the offended parties, and at nighttime, must be considered as aggravating circumstances.  There must also be considered the aggravating circumstances  set forth in Nos. 1 and 3 of article 10 of the Penal Code, the first as to Fausto Garfin  and the second as to Bangit.  None of the extenuating circumstances set forth in article 9 were present.

The trial court properly found that the defendants were guilty as principals of the crime of assassination, marked by the qualifying circumstance of known premeditation and with  the generic aggravating circumstances as above set forth, without, as we have said, any of the extenuating circumstance set out  in article 9 of the Penal Code.  Upon these  findings of fact there can be no doubt that the capital penalty was properly imposed, unless in the exercise of the discretion vested in the courts the extenuating circumstance of race should be  taken  into consideration in favor of the defendants, under  the provisions of article 11 of said Code. We ,have concluded  to give the defendants  the benefit of the provisions of this article.  In so doing we are largely influenced by the fact that the principal motive which moved these defendants to  commit this  terrible crime was that they believed that Julian Masuelas, his wife, and mother were witches.  This fact is established by the testimony of Fernanda Garfin herself. She could give no other reason why her brother desired to destroy herself and family.  She stated that her brother contended and thought that she had killed and  eaten their father.  It  is true that Bangit was promised ten  cavanes of palay for his participation in the commission of this crime, but he  testified that  he desired to rid the  community of these witches; that he had been informed, and believed, that the old  woman,  Lucia was accustomed to  eating children  whenever she could  find any alone.   This  superstition was so imbedded in the minds of these defendants that they thought they were rendering their community a service when they  massacred these people. The defendants have spent their lives in a remote, mountainous  barrio of the province where they have had no opportunity to  come  in contact with  the  more enlightened people and learn the error of their ways.
"In the  application of the provisions  of  article 11  the courts may use it in their discretion to offset any number of generic  aggravating circumstances."   (U, S. vs. Bundal, 3 Phil. Rep., 89; U.  S.  vs.  Montecillo,  11 Phil.  Rep.,  109.)
The judgment appealed from is,  therefore,  affirmed: Provided, however, That the penalty imposed  be that of cadena perpetua (life imprisonment) instead of death.  The costs will be taxed against the appellants.  So ordered.

Arellano, C. J., Mapa, Carson,  and Moreland, JJ., concur.