FACT CHECK: Nuezca NOT convicted of "life in jail"

In a Facebook post, Erwin Tulfo said that ex-cop Jonel Nuezca has been "sentenced to double life imprisonment." On the other hand, Philippine Star reported that Nuezca was convicted of "double murder and sentenced to reclusion perpetua."[5][6]

In this article, let us explore the legal accuracy of the reports mentioned above.

First of all, let us review what happened in the case of Nuezca. He shot dead Sonya Gregorio and Frank Gregorio over an argument with Frank. The video went viral and was used as evidence in court.[1]  Recently, Philippine Star reports that ex-cop Nuezca was convicted of "double murder." In the language of the law, the technical term is "two (2) counts of murder" or "murder with two (2) counts." 

Although "double murder" is often used in jurisprudence, news, or even mugshots, it must be remembered that the law punishes an act and each act is "counted." This is why it is more accurate to say two counts of murder.

Moreover, when an accused is sentenced for two (2) counts of murder and is punished with two (2) sentences of reclusion perpetua, s/he will serve it successively. Article 70 of the Revised Penal Code provides:

Art. 70.  Successive service of sentence. —  When the culprit has to serve two or more penalties, he shall serve them simultaneously if the nature of the penalties will so permit otherwise, the following rules shall be observed: 

In the imposition of the penalties, the order of their respective severity shall be followed so that they may be executed successively or as nearly as may be possible, should a pardon have been granted as to the penalty or penalties first imposed, or should they have been served out. 

For the purpose of applying the provisions of the next preceding paragraph the respective severity of the penalties shall be determined in accordance with the following scale:

1. Death, 

2. Reclusion perpetua, 

3. Reclusion temporal, 

4. Prision mayor, 

5. Prision correccional,

6. Arresto mayor, 

7. Arresto menor, 

8. Destierro,

9. Perpetual absolute disqualification,

10 Temporal absolute disqualification.

11. Suspension from public office, the right to vote and be voted for, the right to follow a profession or calling, and

12. Public censure.

Now, we proceed to the allegation made by Tulfo that Nuezca was sentenced to "double life imprisonment." Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code states that the penalty for murder is reclusion perpetua not life imprisonment, to wit:

“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.

2. In consideration of a price, reward or promise.

3. By means of inundation, fire, poison, explosion, shipwreck, stranding of a vessel, derailment or assault upon a railroad, fall of an airship, or by means of motor vehicles, or with the use of any other means involving great waste and ruin.

4. On occasion of any of the calamities enumerated in the preceding paragraph, or of an earthquake, eruption of a volcano, destructive cyclone, epidemic or other public calamity.

5. With evident premeditation.

6. With cruelty, by deliberately and inhumanly augmenting the suffering of the victim, or outraging or scoffing at his person or corpse.”

In addition, these penalties are also different from each other. The difference between the two is that reclusion perpetua entails imprisonment of at least 20 years and a day up to a maximum of 40 years while life imprisonment is an indefinite duration, has no specific details on pardon, and does not come with compulsary accessory penalties.[2][3][4]

[1] https://www.projectjurisprudence.com/2020/12/killing-out-of-anger-during-pandemic-whats-penalty-murder-homicide.html.

[2] https://www.projectjurisprudence.com/2017/10/reclusion-perpetua-life-imprisonment.html.

[3] https://www.projectjurisprudence.com/2017/10/life-imprisonment-does-not-appear-to.html.

[4] https://www.projectjurisprudence.com/2017/09/reclusion-perpetua-divisible-or.html.

[5] Please see photo below:

[6] Please see photo below: