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People vs. Palon, No.

L-33271, February 20, 1984


Topic: Article 14. Aggravating Circumstances. — The following are aggravating circumstances:
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6. That the crime be committed in the nighttime, or in an uninhabited place, or by a band,
whenever such circumstances may facilitate the commission of the offense.
14. That craft, fraud, or disguise be employed.
Facts:
- Romeo Palon and Epifanio Flores (at large) were charged of conspiring, confederating
and mutually helping one another and willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with intent to
kill and by means of violence and intimidation take, rob and carry away with them a
tricycle, that simultaneously and on the occasion of the commission of the said robbery,
the said accused, with intent to kill, pursuant to their conspiracy, did then and there
attack, assault and stab with a balisong knife the said Perfecto Gatmaitan Cruz, hitting
him in the different parts of his body and which directly caused the death Cruz.
- Palon appealed that the court erred in considering conspiracy, abuse of superior
strength, nighttime, and craft (not alleged but proven in this trial) as an aggravating
circumstance and in not acquitting him on the ground that prosecution failed to prove his
guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
Issues:
- WON Palon and Banatlao committed murder with aggravating circumstance of
conspiracy, abuse of superior strength, nighttime, and craft.
Ruling:
- On conspiracy, conspiracy does not aggravate the penalty to be imposed as it is not one
of those mentioned in Article 14 of the Revised Penal Code. It only determines the
criminal responsibility of the perpetrators of the crime, that is, whether it is individual or
collective.
- On the aggravating circumstance of nighttime, even if Palon and Epifanio Flores did not
purposely and specifically seek to commit the felony of robbery with homicide in the
evening of June 1, 1970, nocturnity may still be appreciated as an aggravating
circumstance since the same undeniably facilitated the commission of the preconceived
crime.
- The contention that since “craft” was not included as one of the aggravating
circumstances in the information, the same should not have been considered, is
erroneous. A generic aggravating circumstance like craft or fraud not alleged in the
information may be proven during the trial over the objection of the defense and may be
appreciated in imposing the penalty.
- Robbery with homicide is present where one of two culprits got hold of the operation of
the tricycle from its driver who was then stabbed inside while the tricycle was being thus
driven.
- Court affirmed the decision of the trial court.