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HON. LORENZO B. VENERACION, Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court,
National Capital Judicial Region, Branch 47, Manila, HENRY LAGARTO y PETILLA
and ERNESTO CORDERO, respondents.
On August 2, 1994, the lifeless body of a 7 year old girl, Angel Aquiza, was found inside a
sack in the streets of Binondo, Manila. It was evident she had gone through extreme
brutality and violence as seen in her wounds and several lacerations all over her body.
Abundio Lagunday, Henry Logarto, Ernest Cordero, along with several men, were later
charged with the crime of Rape with Homicide. All the accused, except A. Lagunda who was
already dead, pleaded Not Guilty to the charge.
On January 31, 1995, the court rendered a decision finding the defendants Henry Lagarto
and Ernesto Cordero guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Rape with Homicide and
sentenced both accused with the "penalty of reclusion perpetua (life imprisonment).
On February 8, 1995, the prosecutor of manila filed a Motion for Reconsideration, praying
that the Decision be "modified in that the penalty of death be imposed" against respondents
Lagarto and Cordero, in place of the original penalty (reclusion perpetua).
On February 10, 1995, the judge responds by expressing his refusal of the Motion for
Reconsideration on the basis of lack of jurisdiction:
The Court believes that in the above-entitled cases, the accused Lagarto and Cordero
have complied with the legal requirements for the perfection of an appeal. Consequently, for
lack of jurisdiction, this Court cannot take cognizance of the Motion for Reconsideration of
the Public Prosecutor of Manila.
Whether or not respondent Judge Veneracion has the discretion to impose a
lesser penalty than that imposed by law.
NO. The law clearly states, as supported by Section 11 of R.A. 7659, that the punishment for
Rape with Homicide is death, and not reclusion perpetua. In this case, the judge has
misgivings in imposing the proper sanction of the death sentence due to his religious
convictions. The judge is fully aware of the appropriate provisions but still refuses to impose
the right penalty because he disagrees to it. However, it must be recognized that the judge
has a duty to follow the Rule of Law, especially when the laws and sanctions provided are
specific and well-defined, and must always be guided by equity, fairness, and a sense of
justice. He must ought "to protect and enforce it without fear or favor," resist

encroachments by governments, political parties, or even the interference of their own

personal beliefs.

The case is hereby REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court for the imposition of the penalty
of death upon private respondents in consonance with respondent judge's finding that the
private respondents in the instant case had committed the crime of Rape with Homicide
under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code.