G.R. No. 199098, February 05, 2014


The Public Prosecutor charged the accused-appellants Paterno Cayetano (Paterno) and his brother Saturnino Cayetano (Saturnino) together with one Jaime Tagaloy, Jr. (Jaime) of murder before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Masbate City in Criminal Case 12101.

The evidence for the prosecution shows that at around 10:00 p.m. on February 9, 2005 Paquito Rico (Paquito) and his wife Maria arrived at their house in Sitio Bongliw, Barangay Tagpu, Mandaon in Masbate and found accused Saturnino waiting for them. Suddenly, accused Paterno appeared from behind the couple, grabbed Paquito's hands, and twisted them which caused him to fall on his knees. A third assailant, accused Jaime, stabbed Paquito on the back, using a double bladed knife. When Jaime raised his hand to deliver another blow, Maria tried to block it, thus wounding her hand.

Meantime, Saturnino, who succeeded in holding Paquito's head down, told his co-accused to finish Maria off but the latter managed to run and get away. Police Officer Pancho Batahoy happened to hear Maria's cries for help and ran after her as she went towards the seashore. When she saw the officer, she told him of what happened. After advising Maria to go to the next town, officer Batahoy went to the reported crime scene and there saw Paquito lying dead on the ground.

Paquito's son, Junel, testified that he was tending a carabao with his younger sisters who held a lamp for him when his parents arrived at their house. Junel heard Saturnino shout at his parents and saw him attack his father. Saturnino held Paquito's head while someone stabbed him from behind. Junel also saw accused Jaime run after his mother. When Paquito was already slumped on the ground, Paterno told his co-accused that they should already leave.According to the autopsy report, although Paquito sustained two stab wounds, the wound that caused his death was the one on the thoracic area.[1] The police arrested Saturnino and Paterno at dawn of the following day. Jaime fled and remained at-large.

Accused Paterno testified that he lived 250 meters away from Paquito's house. He arrived home at around 7:10 p.m. on the day in question. When he and his wife were preparing to go to bed at around 9:20 p.m., they heard a woman shouting from a distance but did not mind her. On the following morning, Paterno bought a cigarette from accused Jaime who said that he had killed his second cousin Paquito. Later, the police invited Paterno for questioning and subsequently implicated him in the killing because of a cattle-rustling related dispute that he had with the deceased. Paterno's wife corroborated her husband's story but she later admitted on cross-examination that she was in Manila on the night Paquito died.

For his part, accused Saturnino who lived 100 meters away from Paquito's house, denied any participation in the latter's murder. Saturnino claimed that on the night in question he met accused Jaime while on his way to the store. Jaime, for his part, proceeded towards the seashore. Not long after, Saturnino heard noises coming from the nearby coconut trees. It was Paquito and Jaime arguing about stolen coconuts. Saturnino saw Paquito kick Jaime on the left thigh then leave to get a weapon. Saturnino left to report the altercation to Jaime's parents but he rested in a shed for a while before moving on. But, before he could say anything to Jaime's parents, Jaime arrived and told them that he had stabbed Paquito. On the next day, Police Officer Batahoy invited Saturnino to the police station for questioning.

Finally, accused Jaime's father testified that his son came to see him and admitted having stabbed Paquito. And, when Jaime turned to leave, his father followed him outside and there he saw Saturnino by the shed near their house.

On February 4, 2009, the RTC found the accused Paterno and Saturnino guilty as charged, sentenced them to the penalty of reclusion perpetua, and ordered them to pay in solidum Paquito's heirs P50,000.00 as civil indemnity.

On appeal, the accused neither denied killing Paquito nor questioned the trial court's appreciation of the qualifying circumstance of evident premeditation. Their appeal hinged on the trial court's finding that treachery attended the killing.

On March 31, 2011 the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the trial court's decision with modification in that it further ordered the accused Paterno and Saturnino to pay the victim's heirs moral damages of P50,000.00, exemplary damages of P25,000.00, and temperate damages of P25,000.00.[2] The CA did not, however, award actual damages for lack of evidence.

Both accused claim that treachery did not attend the killing of Paquito. There is treachery when the offender employs means, methods, or forms in the execution of the offense that tend directly and especially to insure its execution, without risk to himself arising from the defense which the offended party might make.[3] As the CA sufficiently explained, the manner by which the accused in this case killed the deceased was so sudden that they deprived him of any chance of repelling or warding off the attack.

Besides, the categorical statements of the eyewitnesses pointing to the accused as among Paquito's killers, the consistency between their testimonies and the wounds that the deceased sustained, the trial court's observation of the lack of sincerity of the defense witnesses when they testified, the weakness of the accused's defenses of alibi and denial, and the incredibility of their claim that the charge against them were ill-motivated are more than enough to establish the guilt of the accused of the crime of murder beyond reasonable doubt.

WHEREFORE, this Court AFFIRMS the Court of Appeals Decision in CA-G.R. CR-HC 04034 dated March 31, 2011 that found accused-appellants Paterno Cayetano and Saturnino Cayetano GUILTY of murder with MODIFICATION in that the amounts of damages are INCREASED as follows: P75,000.00 for moral damages, P75,000.00 for exemplary damages, and P30,000.00 for temperate damages to conform to current jurisprudence.


[1] The Necropsy Report of Dr. Irene Grace Calucin showed that the victim sustained a stab wound at the lateral area of the left scapula and an incised wound on his right midscapular area, records, p. 6.

[2] People v. Molina, G.R. No. 184173, March 13, 2009, 581 SCRA 519, 542-543.
[3] REVISED PENAL CODE, Article 14, No. 16.