SC: If victim killed while carrying a child, murder; treachery

Murder is defined and penalized under Article 248 of the RPC, as amended by Republic Act No. (RA) 7659, as follows:
Art. 248. Murder. — Any person who, not falling within the provisions of Article 246, shall kill another, shall be guilty of murder and shall be punished by reclusion perpetua to death if committed with any of the following attendant circumstances:

1. With treachery, taking advantage of superior strength, with the aid of armed men, or employing means to weaken the defense, or of means or persons to insure or afford impunity. xxx
Treachery is a well-established concept in criminal law. There is treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against a person, employing means, methods or forms in the execution thereof which tend directly and specially to insure its execution, without risk to himself arising from the defense which the offended party might make.There are two (2) conditions therefore that must be met for treachery to be appreciated: (a) the employment of means of execution that gives the person attacked no opportunity to defend himself or to retaliate; and (b) the means of execution was deliberately or consciously adopted.

The essence of treachery is that the attack comes without warning in a swift, deliberate, and unexpected manner, granting the victim no chance to resist or escape. The attack must be sudden and unexpected rendering the victim unable and unprepared to put up a defense.

In the case of People v. Palanas (G.R. No. 214453. June 17, 2015), the Supreme Court agreed with the findings of the RTC and the CA that Palanas killed SPO2 Borre, and that the qualifying circumstance of treachery attended the same. The records show that SPO2 Borre was outside carrying his grandson when two (2) assailants shot him. During the attack, SPO2 Borre had no opportunity to raise any meaningful defense against his assailants; and consequently, he suffered multiple gunshot wounds on his head and trunk, causing his death.

[2] Revised Penal Code punishes murder by reclusion perpetua to death.
[3] People v. Umawid, G.R. No. 208719, June 9, 2014.
[4] People v. Lacaden, 620 Phil. 807, 824 (2009).
[5] People v. Warriner, G.R. No. 208678, June 16, 2014.

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