G.R. No. 177743, January 25, 2012

Jose Olais was walking along the road when Alfonso Fontanilla suddenly struck him in the head with a piece of wood called bellang. Olais fell facedown to the ground, but Fontanilla hit him again in the head with a piece of stone. He only desisted from hitting Olais a third time because Joel Marquez and Tirso Abunan, the sons-in-law of Olais, shouted at him, causing him to run away. Marquez and Abunan rushed their father-in law to a medical clinic, where Olais was pronounced dead on arrival. Fontanilla was charged with murder, consequently.

At the trial, Fontanilla claimed self-defense and that Olais was drunk. Prosecution presented the physician who conducted the autopsy on the cadaver of Olais. She attested that her post-mortem examination showed that Olais had suffered a fracture on the skull more than once, causing his death.

The RTC rejected Fontanilla’s plea of self-defense by observing that he had “no necessity to employ a big stone, inflicting upon the victim a mortal wound causing his death” due to the victim attacking him only with bare hands. It noted that Fontanilla did not suffer any injury despite his claim that the victim had mauled him; that Fontanilla did not receive any treatment, and no medical certificate attested to any injury he might have suffered, having been immediately released from the hospital.

ISSUE: Whether alleging by the accused of self-defense may be given credence amidst gravity of the injury sustained by the victim.

The answer is in the negative.  In order for self-defense to be appreciated, he had to prove by clear and convincing evidence the following elements: (a) unlawful aggression on the part of the victim; (b) reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel it; and (c) lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending himself. Unlawful aggression is the indispensable element of self-defense, for if no unlawful aggression attributed to the victim is established, self-defense is unavailing, for there is nothing to repel.

The plea of self-defense was thus belied, for the weapons used by Fontanilla and the location and number of wounds he inflicted on Olais revealed his intent to kill, not merely an effort to prevent or repel an attack from Olais. We consider to be significant that the gravity of the wounds manifested the determined effort of the accused to kill his victim, not just to defend himself.

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