G.R. No. 205315, February 05, 2014

THIRD DIVISION [ G.R. No. 205315, February 05, 2014 ] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES V. MARK ANTHONY BORINES Y ESTOLOGA.

The Assistant City Prosecutor of Parañaque charged the accused Mark Anthony Borines y Estologa (Mark) with robbery with homicide before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Parañaque City in Criminal Case 07-0535. John Marvin P. Sallo (John), 14 years old, testified that at about 8:30 p.m. on April 18, 2007 he was at Galaxy computer shop at the Better Living Subdivision in Parañaque City when he saw Roland Anthony F. Lim (Roland) read a text message he just received on his mobile phone, then put the phone down by his side and return to his computer game. John then witnessed accused Mark quickly grab that phone and run out with it. Roland gave chase, however, and caught up with Mark just outside the computer shop. John, who followed Roland out, saw the latter engage Mark in a fistfight. Suddenly, Mark drew out a gun, shot Roland on the head, and then fled on board a motorcycle. Roland later died from the gunshot wound on his head. Kendrick Buenaobra (Kendrick), 15 years old, did not see the actual shooting but testified that he went out when he heard the commotion and the gunshot. He saw Roland lying on the ground and Mark running away with a gun in his hand.[1]

For his defense, accused Mark denied having knowledge of the killing or taking part in it. He claims that he was in Barangay Alayao, Cabibirok, Capalonga, Camarines Norte, when the incident happened. He had been involved in a rumble that took place in an eatery in Pasay City on April 14, 2007 and because of it, he decided to leave for Capalonga with his wife and son. He was surprised when on April 29, 2007 ABS-CBN showed his face on television, describing him as being sought by the police for robbery with homicide. Subsequently, he returned to Parañaque on May 3, 2007 and surrendered to the police in the company of reporter Gus Abelgas who had interviewed him in Bicol on the preceding day.[2]

On March 10, 2009 the RTC found accused Mark guilty of the crime charged and sentenced him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and pay Roland's heirs P1,800,000.00 as actual damages, P50,000.00 as moral damages, and P50,000.00 as civil indemnity.[3] On May 18, 2012 the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-HC 03896 affirmed the RTC's ruling with modification in that it increased the award of moral damages from P50,000.00 to P75,000.00 to conform to recent jurisprudence.[4]Accused Mark claims that John's testimony cannot be believed since the latter said in the course of his testimony that "binaril daw po siya sa ulo" implying that John was merely testifying on what he heard, and since the supposed assailant wore a bull cap that covered his face. But the quotation is made out of context. Actually, John testified on the incident in great details, from the time Roland read his mobile phone message and put down the instrument to the time the accused shot him outside the computer shop. As to the bull cap, the same did not hinder identification since John saw Mark's face at a proper angle and since the cap moved to reveal Mark's face fully during his fight with the victim. It did not help Mark that Kendrick also positively identified him as the man fleeing the scene of the crime with a gun in hand. Absent any compelling reason, the Court cannot substitute its judgment regarding the credibility of the witnesses in place of that of the trial judge who had the advantage of observing their demeanor.

Accused Mark also claims that he cannot be guilty of robbery with homicide since there is no showing that he employed violence and intimidation when he grabbed the mobile phone by Roland's side. But as the Court held in People v. Pacapac,[5] in robbery with homicide, the homicide may occur after the robbery. What is essential is that there is a direct relation or an intimate connection between the robbery and the killing. Here, while violence was not present at the start, Mark nonetheless employed it to completely take possession of Roland's mobile phone. The killing of the victim resulting from or on the occasion of the robbery gave rise to the special complex crime of robbery with homicide.[6]

In order to adapt to recent jurisprudence, the amount of civil indemnity is hereby increased from P50,000.00 to P75,000.00.[7] Moreover, exemplary damages in the amount of P30,000.00 is hereby awarded to the heirs of the victim.[8]

WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS with MODIFICATIONS the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals dated May 18, 2012 in CA-G.R. CR-HC 03896 that found accused-appellant Mark Anthony Borines y Estologa GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged, imposed on him the appropriate penalties, and ordered him to pay damages to the victim's heirs. The amount of civil indemnity shall be INCREASED from P50,000.00 to P75,000.00. Furthermore, the accused is hereby ordered to pay the heirs of the victim the amount of P30,000.00 as exemplary damages.

SO ORDERED.

[1] Based on the CA summary, rollo, pp. 3-4.

[2] Id. at 5.
[3] Records, pp. 344-361.
[4] CA rollo, pp. 173-194.
[5] G.R. No. 90623, September 7, 1995, 248 SCRA 77, 93.
[6] People v. Alcantara, 471 Phil. 690, 702 (2004).
[7] Peoplev. Buyagan, G.R. No. 187733, February 8, 2012, 665 SCRA 571, 578.
[8] People v. Aminola, G.R. No. 178062, September 8, 2010, 630 SCRA 384, 397.

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