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111. PEOPLE v.

PINCA
G.R. Nos. 129256 | November 17, 1999 | En Banc | Automatic Review of Death Sentence
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee
JOEL PINCA y HUARDE, accused-appellant.
Panganiban, J.
Digest by Bryan John Maga

Short Version: Pinac hit the victim Angcahan at the back of his head leading to his death. When the
witness Abenir led a police officer to Pinac’s house, the latter denied any participation. Later, when the
police returned back to his house, he was no longer there. His defense was he was in Tagbilaran City to
fetch his wife. When he learned that the police were looking for him even there, he finally went to the
police station "to clear his name." Per the Supreme Court, such acts do not show any intent to surrender
unconditionally to the authorities. Pinac denied any involvement and even tried to distance himself from
the place of the incident. When we learned that he had become a suspect and that the police were
looking for him even in Tagbilaran, he finally went to the police station but only "to clear his name."

Facts:
- One afternoon, witness Gerry Abenir, upon entering a bake shop, saw Joel Pinca made a remark
that somebody splashed him with liquor and if it were not for the presence of the shop owner, he
would have injured the said person.
- At 7:00pm, Abenir and Pinac rode a habal-habal on their way home. Near Abenir’s place, they
saw the victim Conrado Angcahan walking on the road in an unsteady manner. Pinac told Abenir
that Angcahan was the responsible person. He then got a piece of wood, waited for the victim and
without warning, struck the victim on the head and rendered him unconscious. Abenir then ran
away towards his house.
- At 5:00am of the following day, Abenir dressed up to report the matter to the police. Just then, a
police officer arrived to his house for inquiry. They then proceeded to the house of Pinac who
denied any participation. Abenir went home but moments later 2 police officers arrived and they
proceeded again to the house of the accused but the latter was no longer around.
- Pinac’s version: They were drinking when Angcahan approached and asked for cigarettes. Abenir
refused. On their way home, they saw Angcahan on the road. Abenir and Angcahan then boxed
each other. Angcahan fell to the ground despite defending himself. While on the ground, Abenir
struck him on the head. Abenir told him not to talk. On the next day, when the two police officers
arrived at his house, he did not give any information. After the investigation, he went to Tagbilaran
City to fetch his wife. While there, he received an information that police were looking for him. He
then voluntarily surrendered.
- The RTC ruled that Pinac committed murder and sentenced him with death penalty.

Issue: WON Pinca voluntarily surrendered? No.

Dispositive:
Judgment appealed from modified. Pinca sentenced with reclusion perpetua, not death, and to pay
damages.

Reasoning:
- For voluntary surrender to be appreciated as a mitigating circumstance, the following requisites
must concur: (1) the offender has not been actually arrested, (2) the offender surrendered to a
person in authority, and (3) the surrender was voluntary. But if the only reason for the supposed
surrender is to ensure the safety of the accused whose arrest is inevitable, the surrender is not
spontaneous and hence not voluntary.
- According to Pinac, when the police came to his house after the incident, he denied any
knowledge of the murder incident. He learned that he was a suspect when he was in Tagbilaran
City to fetch his wife, who told him that the police had come looking for him. It was only when he
got back to Balilihan, Bohol that he proceeded to the police station "to clear his name."
- However, such actions by PInac are not marks of voluntary surrender. Denying to the police any
personal knowledge of the crime, he even tried to distance himself from the place of the incident
by going to Tagbilaran City. It was only when he learned that he had become a suspect and that
the police were looking for him even in Tagbilaran that he finally went to the police station, but
only "to clear his name." Such acts do not show any intent to surrender unconditionally to the
authorities.

On other matters of the case:


- In view of the fact that there were only two eyewitnesses (Abenir and the accused Pinac) who
accused each other as the culprit, the Court carefully evaluated in detail their testimonies and
found no reason to modify the trial court’s findings on the credibility of Abenir. Pinac, on the other
hand, failed to answer satisfactorily, among others, why he disembarked together with Abenir,
when his destination was still a kilometer away. He neither protested, nor even remarked that he
had earlier contracted with the habal-habal driver to bring him farther than where Abenir
disembarked.
- The Autopsy Report corroborated the testimony of Abenir. No contusions were found on the other
parts of the victim's body, particularly his arms, which would otherwise support Pinac’s testimony.
On the other hand, as testified by Abenir, the victim was hit at the back of his head, causing the
latter to fall face down immediately.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, Quisumbing, Purisima, Pardo,
Buena, Gonzaga-Reyes, Ynares-Santiago and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.