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Case Digest - Civil Law

People us Veneracion 249 SCRA 247
GR No – 119987-88 Oct. 12, 1995
FACTS:
On August 2, 1994, the lifeless body of Angel Alquiza, 7 years old, was found floating along Del Pan St., near the corner of Lavesares st., Binondo Manila. Abundio Lagunday a.k.a. Jr. Jeofrey of no fixed address and Lagarto of Tondo Manila were later charged with the crime of Rape with Homicide. Subsequently, Cordero, Manlangit, Baltazar and Yaon were accused of the same crime of Rape with Homicide.
On January 31, 1995 finding the defendants Henry Lagarto and Ernesto Cordero guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Rape with Homicide and sentenced with “reclusion perpetua with all the accessories provided by law”. The City Prosecutor of Manila filed a motion for Reconsideration on February 8, 1995 praying that the decision be “modified in that the penalty of death be imposed” against the respondents Lagarto and Cordero. On February 10, 1995, the judge issued an order denying the same for lack of jurisdiction.
ISSUE:
Whether or not the respondent judge acted with grave abuse of discretion and in excess of jurisdiction when he failed and/or refused to impose the mandatory penalty of death under RA # 7659, after finding the accused guilty of the crime Rape with Homicide.
RULING:
Obedience to the rule of law forms the bedrock of the justice system. If judges under the guise of religious or political beliefs were allowed to roam unrestricted beyond boundaries within which they are required by law to exercise the duties of their office, then law becomes meaningless. A government of laws, not of men, excludes the exercise of broad discretionary powers by those acting under its authority.
In the case of bench, since the law in force at the time of the commission of the crime for which respondent judge found the accused guilty, of he was bound by its provisions. After an adjudication of guilt, the judge should impose “the proper penalty and civil liability provided for the law on the accused. This is a case in which a judge, fully aware of the appropriate provisions of the law refuses to impose a penalty to which he disagrees”.
The instant petition is Granted. The case is hereby Remanded to the RTC for the imposition of the penalty of death upon private respondents in consonance with respondent judge’s findings that the private respondents had committed the crime of Rape with Homicide under Art 335 of the RPC, as amended by section 11 of RA # 7659, subject to automatic review by this court of the decision imposing the death penalty

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