Criminal Law

Mariano v. People G.R. No. 224102, July 26, 2017 – J. Leonen, Justifying Circumstances, Defense of a Stranger


On July 22, 2010, at around 9:45 p.m., Yuki Rivera punched Frederick Natividad’s head thinking that Natividad would tell Yuki’s aunt that he was selling marijuana. Natividad went to Yuki’s house to report the punching. At Yuki’s house, Natividad met petitioner Ryan Mariano and his common-law wife, Pamela. Later, Mariano stabbed Natividad twice, once in the buttocks and once on the right side of his body. 

A certain Antonio San Juan heard the noise outside. Upon checking, San Juan saw that Natividad had been stabbed. He asked barangay tanod Benneth Santos to take Natividad to the hospital. San Juan noticed Mariano holding a kitchen knife. Mariano voluntarily surrendered the kitchen knife to San Juan, who then arrested and surrendered him and the kitchen knife to the police authorities.

On the other hand, the defense’s version of the events is as follows:

Mariano went to Pamela’s house, where he saw Natividad and Yuki arguing because Yuki refused to buy marijuana for Natividad. Natividad went berserk, slapped Yuki, and kicked Pamela’s daughter Pia. Mariano went inside to tell his mother-in-law and Pamela that Natividad was hurting Yuki and Pia.

Pamela confronted Natividad, who then punched Pamela on the face and shoulder. Mariano pushed Natividad to the ground. Natividad stood back up and got a piece of wood and kept hitting Mariano. Petitioner Mariano evaded Natividad’s blows because Natividad was drunk and staggering. Mariano picked up a knife and stabbed Natividad on his buttocks. Due to Natividad’s continuous hitting, Mariano stabbed Natividad again, this time on the right side of his body.

Mariano claimed that he acted in self-defense and in defense of a relative.

The trial court held that Mariano failed to establish his defense with clear and convincing evidence and concluded that Natividad was not an unlawful aggressor.

On appeal, the CA affirmed the ruling of the trial court.

The CA found that Mariano did not employ reasonable means to repel Natividad, who was too drunk to pose a real risk.

Thus, petitioner Mariano filed this petition, insisting that the elements of self defense were present.


Whether or not the facts, as alleged by petitioner, were sufficient to comprise unlawful aggression.


This Court grants the petition.

At the very least, petitioner acted in defense of a stranger. Article 11(1) and (3) of the Revised Penal Code provide:

Article 11. Justifying circumstances. – The following do not incur any criminal liability:

1. Anyone who acts in defense of his person or rights, provided that the following circumstances concur:

First. Unlawful aggression;

Second. Reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel it;

Third. Lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending himself.

. . . .

3. Anyone who acts in defense of the person or rights of a stranger, provided that the first and second requisites mentioned in the first circumstance of this article are present and that the person defending be not induced by revenge, resentment, or other evil motive.

To properly invoke the justifying circumstance of defense of a stranger, it must be shown that there was unlawful aggression on the part of the victim, that the means employed to repel the victim were reasonably necessary, and that the accused was not induced by revenge, resentment, or other evil motive.

It is significant that Natividad did not deny attacking Pamela or Pia, as he could not remember these acts.

An attack showing the aggressor’s intention is enough to consider that unlawful aggression was committed. Thus, the attack on Pamela should have been considered as unlawful aggression for purposes of invoking the justifying circumstance of defense of a stranger.

In Jayme v. Repe, this Court explained:

“Reasonable necessity does not mean absolute necessity. It must be assumed that one who is assaulted cannot have sufficient tranquility of mind to think, calculate and make comparisons which can easily be made in the calmness of the home. It is not the indispensable need but the rational necessity which the law requires. In each particular case, it is necessary to judge the relative necessity, whether more or less imperative, in accordance with the rules of rational logic. The defendant may be given the benefit of any reasonable doubt as to whether he employed rational means to repel the aggression.”

“The rule of reasonable necessity is not ironclad in its application; it depends upon the circumstances of the particular case. One who is assaulted does not have the time nor sufficient tranquility of mind to think, calculate and choose the weapon to be used. The reason is obvious, in emergencies of this kind, human nature does not act upon processes of formal reason but in obedience to the instinct of self-preservation; and when it is apparent that a person has reasonably acted upon this instinct, it is the duty of the courts to sanction the act and to hold the actor irresponsible in law for the consequences.”

Here, although the offended party was drunk, and therefore, was not able to land his blows, his attacks were incessant. He had already attacked three (3) other persons—two (2) minors as well as petitioner’s common-law wife—and was still belligerent. While it may be true that Pamela, Pia, and Yuki had already gone inside the house at the time of the stabbing, it then appeared to the petitioner that there was no other reasonable means to protect his family except to commit the acts alleged.

Finally, petitioner was not induced by revenge, resentment, or other evil motive. The victim himself, Natividad, testified that he had no issues with petitioner before the incident. Thus, all the elements to invoke the justifying circumstance of defense of a stranger were present in this case.

Considering that petitioner was justified in stabbing Natividad under Article 11, paragraph 3 of the Revised Penal Code, he should be exonerated of the crime charged.

3 thoughts on “Mariano v. People G.R. No. 224102, July 26, 2017 – J. Leonen, Justifying Circumstances, Defense of a Stranger

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