Remedial Law

BELBIS v. PEOPLE G.R. No. 181052 November 14, 2012 Dying Declaration, Res Gestae

FACTS:

On December 9, 1997 at around 10:00 p.m.,  Veronica Dacir, Jose Bahillo’s live-in partner, heard him shouting and calling her name. She went to where Jose was and saw blood at his back and shorts. It was there that Jose told Veronica that he was held by Boboy while petitioner Rodolfo Belbis, Jr. stabbed him.

Jose died on January 8, 1998.

Thus, petitioners were charged with the crime of homicide.

Petitioners claimed self-defense.

The RTC convicted the petitioners of the crime charged against them, but appreciated the mitigating circumstance of incomplete self-defense.

On appeal, the CA affirmed the RTC decision with modification that there was no mitigating circumstance of incomplete self-defense. Petitioners’ motion for reconsideration was denied. Hence, the present petition.

Petitioners argue that the CA erred in ruling that the statements made by the victim in the presence of witnesses Veronica Dacir right after being stabbed, and SPO1 Lerma Bataller before he died, are dying declarations as the victim still lived for one month after the said dying declaration was made.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the court of appeals erred in finding that the statements made by the victim to Veronica Dacir, one month prior to the victim’s death, constitutes a dying declaration within the contemplation of Section 37, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court.

RULING:  

The petition lacks merit.

A dying declaration is a statement made by the victim of homicide, referring to the material facts which concern the cause and circumstances of the killing and which is uttered under a fixed belief that death is impending and is certain to follow immediately, or in a very short time, without an opportunity of retraction and in the absence of all hopes of recovery.

In other words, it is a statement made by a person after a mortal wound has been inflicted, under a belief that death is certain, stating the facts concerning the cause and circumstances surrounding his/her death.

As an exception to the hearsay rule, the requisites for its admissibility are as follows: (1) the declaration is made by the deceased under the consciousness of his impending death; (2) the deceased was at the time competent as a witness; (3) the declaration concerns the cause and surrounding circumstances of the declarant’s death; and (4) the declaration is offered in a criminal case wherein the declarant’s death is the subject of inquiry.

It is the belief in impending death and not the rapid succession of death in point of fact that renders the dying declaration admissible.

As such, the CA incorrectly ruled that there were dying declarations.

The CA should have admitted the statement made by the victim to Veronica Dacir right after he was stabbed as part of the res gestae and not a dying declaration. Section 42 of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court, reads as follows:

Sec. 42. Part of the res gestae. – Statements made by a person while a startling occurrence is taking place or immediately prior or subsequent thereto with respect to the circumstances thereof, may be given in evidence as part of the res gestae. So also, statements accompanying an equivocal act material to the issue, and giving it a legal significance, may be received as part of the res gestae.

All that is required for the admissibility of a given statement as part of the res gestae, is that it be made under the influence of a startling event witnessed by the person who made the declaration before he had time to think and make up a story, or to concoct or contrive a falsehood, or to fabricate an account, and without any undue influence in obtaining it, aside from referring to the event in question or its immediate attending circumstances.

Clearly, the statement made by the victim identifying his assailants was made immediately after a startling occurrence which is his being stabbed, precluding any chance to concoct a lie.

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