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People v Feloteo | 1998 | Puno, J.

Facts: Wilfredo Feloteo was found guilty by the trial court of murder under Article 248 of the RPC and Illegal Possession of Firearm, a violation of Section 1 of PD 1866 and sentenced to reclusion perpetua and 20 years respectively. In the evening of May 6, 1993, the victim, Sonny Sotto, and his two friends were walking along the highway after a few drinks earlier that day and were on their way home, having a lively mood. At one point, the accused appeared at the opposite side of the road and walked past the victims two friends. The two recognized accused under the bright moon as he was a barriomate. The three friends did not pay much attention to accused as they were playing habulan and without a uttering a word, the accused aimed the armalite at Sotto and pulled the trigger. Sotto, was hit above the chest and fell to the ground, face down. The two friends scampered away to find help while the accused fled. Sotto was later found dead. The armalite belong to SPO2 Roman Adion said accused stole the gun from him. Accused obviously denied, saying his purpose for carrying the gun was to bring it to SPO2 Adion as the latter went somewhere (to check his borrowed tricycle whose engine broke down) after leaving the gun at the house where accused was. Accused then walked past the victims group at around 7PM. The group zigzagged as they walked. In jest, accused said to victim, Boots, dont get near me, Ill shoot you. He pointed the gun and pulled the trigger, allegedly unaware that it was loaded. It fired and hit Sotto. The accused was apprehended the next day by SPO2 Adion. On appeal, accused denies that the qualifying circumstance of treachery for murder was present. Issue: 1. Was there treachery? Yes. 2. Should accused suffer the two penalties? No. Ratio: 1. There was treachery: a. Par. 16, Article 14 of RPC, the qualifying circumstance of treachery is present when the offender employs means, methods, or

forms of execution which tend directly and especially to insure its execution without risk to himself arising from any defensive or retaliatory act which the victim might take. b. Accused said that the attack was frontal so Sotto knew it was impending; Also, Sotto was warned, albeit jokingly that he would be shot. c. SC rejects this saying that the settled rule is that treachery can exist even if the attack is frontal if it is sudden and unexpected, giving the victim no opportunity to repel or defend himself. 2. Illegal possession of firearms should only be an aggravating circumstance in light of the amendments to PD 1866 by RA 8294: a. In the old Section 1 of PD 1866, if homicide or murder is committed with an unlicensed firearm, the penalty of death shall be imposed; b. RA 8294 amended this, deleting the penalty of death and considered the carrying of unlicensed firearm only as an aggravating circumstance; c. It was approved in 1997 but is retroactively applied since it favours the accused; court cites People v Molina; d. Intent of Congress: two cases from Supreme Court were presented in a senate session People v Barros (1996) and People v Evangelista (1996);

i. Former case ruled that illegal possession

of firearm (when killing of another person is committed) should only be an aggravating circumstance; while in the latter case, it is possible to file two separate informations one for murder and one for illegal possession of firearms; ii. So the senate chose between integrating the crimes (taking illegal possession in its aggravated form) and treating the two as separate crimes; Senate chose the former;

e. However, the penalty of reclusion perpetua of appellant is not affected since RA 7659 or the Death Penalty Law was enacted only on December 31, 1993, after the crime was committed in May 1993;

Ken Molave D 2015

JUDGMENT: Affirmed with Modification. Reclusion perpetua and accused ordered to indemnify heirs with P50k.

Ken Molave D 2015