G.R. No. 214876, December 02, 2015


For this court's review is the Court of Appeals Decision[1] dated January 24, 2014 docketed as CA-G.R. CR HC No. 05815, entitled The People of the Philippines v. Mark Joseph Cruz y Borata @ Mac Mac. The Court of Appeals affirmed with modification the Decision dated July 12, 2012 of Branch 21 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, which found accused-appellant Mark Joseph Cruz y Borata, also known as "Mac Mac," guilty of murder.[2]

The main prosecution witness, Joel Salcedo (Salcedo), testified that on April 5, 2010, at around 3:30 a.m., Jonathan Malano (Malano) and Salcedo were having a drinking spree when accused-appellant and a certain Richard Behino (Behino) appeared from nowhere.[3] Accused-appellant fired an improvised gun called a sumpak at Malano's abdomen, while Behino stabbed Malano's chest.[4]

Another prosecution witness, Rizaldy Alon (Alon), testified that the area was well-lit because of light from a lamppost, which made it easy to recognize accused-appellant as the assailant.[5] Alon did not see accused-appellant shooting Malano, but he heard the gunshot and saw accused-appellant holding the sumpak.[6]

Alon's group brought Malano to the hospital,[7] but Malano died in the hospital.[8] Dr. Romeo Salen (Dr. Salen) conducted a post-mortem examination and found that Malano sustained multiple abrasions on his right chest, a lacerated wound on his forehead, and one gunshot wound on his abdomen.[9] Dr. Salen testified that the gunshot wound caused Malano's death. [10]

Malano's sister Jennifer also testified that her family incurred P29,486.00 in expenses for the wake and funeral of Malano.[11] However, Jennifer was only able to present receipts to the amount of P12,462.40.[12]

Accused-appellant denied the allegations against him. He admitted being part of the drinking spree; however, he claimed that it was Behino who shot Malano with a sumpak.[13]Accused-appellant was charged with murder through an Information dated April 8, 2010,[14] and was arraigned on May 19, 2010, where he pleaded "not guilty."[15] In the Decision[16] dated July 12, 2012, the Regional Trial Court found accused-appellant guilty of murder qualified by treachery and evident premeditation. The dispositive portion of the Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court finds accused MARK JOSEPH CRUZ y BORATA @ MAC-MAC, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged and is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua and to indemnify the heirs of Jonathan Malano y Alon the amount of PI59,486.00 as civil indemnity, actual, moral and exemplary as exemplary [sic] damages, without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency and to pay the costs.

It appearing that the accused is detained, the period of his detention shall be credited in the service of his sentence.

SO ORDERED.[17] (Emphasis in the original)
The Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction.[18] It found the witnesses credible in identifying accused-appellant as the individual responsible for causing Malano's fatal wound.[19] The Court of Appeals even dissected the inconsistencies in accused-appellant's testimony.[20]

However, the Court of Appeals found that the only qualifying circumstance attending the crime was treachery and not evident premeditation.[21] The Court of Appeals also awarded temperate damages in lieu of actual damages, due to the lack of sufficient proof of the expenses incurred during Malano's funeral.[22] It increased the civil indemnity and award of moral damages and included the interest of 6% per year on all the amounts of damages awarded until they are fully paid. The dispositive portion of the Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is hereby DENIED. The July 12, 2012 Decision of the Manila Regional Trial Court, Branch 21 in Criminal Case No. 10-275316 finding accused-appellant MARK JOSEPH CRUZ y BORATA @ MAC MAC guilty beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of Murder and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua is hereby AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATION by (1) declaring that accused-appellant is ineligible for parole; (2) deleting the award of actual damages and ordering accused-appellant to instead pay the heirs of the victim temperate damages in the amount of P25,000.00; (3) increasing the award of civil indemnity from P50,000.00 to P75,000.00; (4) increasing the award of moral damages from P50,000.00 to P75,000.00; and (5) pay interest at the legal rate of six percent (6%) on all amounts of damages awarded, commencing from the date of finality of this Decision until fully paid.All other aspect [sic] of the decretal portion of the assailed Decision, stand.

.[23] (Emphasis in the original)
After reviewing the records of the case, we affirm the findings of fact and conclusions of law of the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals correctly imposed the penalty of reclusion perpetua, considering that no other aggravating or mitigating circumstance is present. However, in line with jurisprudence, exemplary damages is awarded in addition to the awards already made by the Court of Appeals.[24]

WHEREFORE, this court adopts the findings of fact and conclusions of law of the Court of Appeals and AFFIRM its January 24, 2014 Decision in CA-G.R. CR HC No. 05815 finding accused-appellant Mark Joseph Cruz y Borata alias "Mac Mac" GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. The monetary awards is MODIFIED in that in addition to the award of temperate damages (P25,000.00), civil indemnity (P75,000.00), and moral damages (P75,000.00), accused-appellant shall pay exemplary damages in the amount of P30,000.00. All amounts are subject to a 6% per annum interest commencing from finality of this Resolution until fully paid.


(Carpio, J., on official leave; Del Castillo, J., designated Acting Chairperson per S.O. No. 2281 and Velasco, Jr., J., designated Acting Member per S.O. No. 2282, both dated November 13, 2015; Brion, J., on official leave; Perez, J., designated acting member per S.O. No. 2301 dated December 1, 2015.)

[1] Rollo, pp. 2-11. The Decision was penned by Associate Justice Franchito N. Diamante and concurred in by Associate Justices Celia C. Librea-Leagogo and Zenaida T. Galapate-Laguilles of the Fourteenth Division, Court of Appeals Manila.

[2]  Id. at 10-11.

[3] CA rollo, p. 40, RTC Decision dated July 12,2012.

[4] Id.

[5] Id. at 41.

[6] Id.

[7] Id. at 40,41.

[8] Id. at 40.

[9] Id. at 40.

[10] Id.

[11] Rollo, p. 3, Court of Appeals Decision dated January 24, 2014.

[12] Id. at 10.

[13] CA rollo, p. 41, RTC Decision dated July 12,2012.

[14] Id. at 27, as cited in the Brief for the Accused-Appellant.

[15] Id. at 39, RTC Decision dated July 12, 2012.

[16] Id. at 39-44. The Decision was penned by Judge Amor A. Reyes.

[17] Id. at 43.

[18] Rollo, pp. 2-11.

[19] Id. at 5, Court of Appeals Decision dated January 24,2014.

[20] Id. at 7-8.

[21] Id. at 8-9.

[22] Id. at 10.

[23] Id. at 10-11.

[24] See People v. Dearo, G.R. No. 190862, October 9, 2013, 707 SCRA 253 [Per C.J. Sereno, First Division]; People v. Dela Rosa, G.R. No. 201723, June 13, 2013, 698 SCRA 548 [Per J. Reyes, First Division]; and People v. Punzalan, Jr., GR. No. 199862, December 10, 2012, 687 SCRA 687 [Per J. Leonardo-De Castro, First Division].

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