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[ GR No. L-6587, Jan 27, 1956 ]



98 Phil. 238

[ G.R. No. L-6587, January 27, 1956 ]



REYES, J.B.L., J.:

On November 5,1951, Gaudencio de Joya, Nicanor Reyes, Julian  Sumaway, Cesar  Manipola, and Ricardo Hornales were charged in the Court of First Instance of Manila with the crime of theft (Criminal Case  No. 17088) under  the following information:
"That on or about the 5th of October, 1951, at night time purposedly  sought to better  accomplish their ends,  the said accused conspiring and  confederating  together and  mutually helping one another did then and there willfully, unlawfully, and feloneously, with intent of gain and without the knowledge and  consent of the owner thereof, take, i steal and  carry away a  mooring rope approximately 160 meters, 3 inches in  diameter, valued at P4,000, belonging to the United  States Lines, to the damage and prejudice of the said owner  in the aforesaid  amount of P4,000,  Philippine  currency" (Appellant's Brief, pp. 1-2)
Upon, arraignment, each of the accused at first pleaded not guilty to charge.   On  the date of  the  trial,  however, all five defendants, with the assistance of  counsel, moved to withdraw their respective pleas of "not guilty" in order to substitute the same with that of  "guilty," which motion the Court granted. The accused were then  rearraigned, and  after  having been informed of the nature and consequences of a plea of guilt,  all pleaded guilty to the charge. Thereupon,  the trial  Court rendered judgment sentencing the accused  as follows:
"IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING  CONSIDERATIONS the Court finds each and everyone of the above-mentioned defendants. guilty beyond reasonable doubt  of the crime of theft,  with the aggravating  circumstance of nocturnity but  which was offset by the  plea  of guilty and,  therefore, sentences each  and everyone  of them to  suffer an indeterminate  penalty ranging from four (4) months of arresto mayor as minimum to one (1)  year, eight (8) months and twenty-one (21) days of prision correctional as maximum, with the accessory penalties prescribed by- the law, and  to pay  the  costs.  No indemnity was awarded to the complainant, The United States Lines, in view of the manifestation of the prosecution made in open court, that  the property stolen was  recovered."  {Appellant's Brief,  Appendix, pp.  9-10) .
From this Judgment, one of the defendants, Ricardo Hornales, appealed to this Court, questioning the correctness of the minimum, period of his penalty.

Appellant admits that the maximum, term of his, sentence is correct.   He  likewise admits that  its minimum term (4 months of arresto mayor) is within the range prescribed by the Indeterminate Sentence Law in this case, which is arresto mayor in its minimum and medium periods, or from 2 months and 1 day to 4 months.   His only argument in support of the appeal is that (1) the  properties stolen having been recovered, (2)  this being his first offense, and (3) he having pleaded guilty to the charge,  which shows repentance for his act and lack of perversity in defying the law,  the lower Court should have imposed upon him as the minimum of his indeterminate sentence, the lowest range of arresto mayor, which is 2 months and 1 day.

We see no reason to disturb the judgment of the Court below with respect to the minimum of appellant's penalty. The determination of the minimum term of the indeterminate sentence within the range provided by law is left entirely within the discretion of the trial court, and this discretion should  not be interfered with except in  case of abuse.  Appellant's arguments fail to show any such abuse.  The fact that the properties stolen were recovered merely exempts appellant from  civil liability, but has no bearing oh the determination of his penalty; while his plea of guilt is required to be considered (by way of mitigation) only in the imposition of the maximum term of his sentence, and in this case, it had already been taken into account  as offsetting  the  aggravating  circumstance  of nocturnity, so that appellant was given  only the medium period of the proper penalty as the maximum term of his sentence.   As to the fact that the present  offense is the first committed by this appellant, suffice it to say that the penalty fixed by the Code is usually for the first offense; for otherwise, the aggravating circumstances of recidivism or of reiteracion (Article 14, Nos. 9 and 10, RPC) would Come into play and operate to increase the penalty.

The minimum  penalty  of appellant's sentence being within the range fixed by law, the same should be, as it is hereby, affirmed.

Wherefore, the judgment appealed from is affirmed, with costs  against appellant  Ricardo Hornales.   So ordered.

ParĂ¡s, C.  J., Montemayor, Reyes,  A., Bautista, Angelo, Labrador,  Concepcion, and Endencia, JJ., concur.