Munoz vs Barrio

FELICIDAD P. MUÑOZ vs. JOSE DEL BARRIO. We couldn’t find this case on the Internet, so I decided to post it here. This is for all the law students who also have to work, and are forced to do most of their research on the Internet instead of in the library (not to mention during office hours, after class, or midnight onwards). Buti nga may Internet na. As a law student, I am eternally grateful to the law firms and schools who have made their libraries available online.

No. 12506-R. April 15, 1955

FELICIDAD P. MUÑOZ, petitioner and appellant, vs. JOSE DEL BARRIO, respondent and appellee

APPEAL from a judgment of the Court of First Instance of Bulacan. Ysip, J.

Manuel Y. Macias for petitioner and appellant.
Jose del Barrio in his own behalf as respondent and appellee.

FELIX, J.:

Felicidad P. Muñoz and Jose del Barrio were married civilly before Judge Natividad Almeda Lopez of the Municipal Court of Manila on September 24, 1942 and again canonically on October 24 of that year before the Catholic Minister Fr. Antonio Albrecht. Since their marriage the couple lived together as husband and wife for the ensuing six months in the house of the husband’s father at Rizal Avenue, Manila, and then moved their residence to the municipality of Maycawayan, Bulacan. Out of this union were born Felix Luis del Barrio and Maria Teresa del Barrio who must be actually 11 and 9 years old, respectively.
It seems that during their married life this couple had frequent quarrels, on which occasions the husband maltreated his wife by deed, and because the latter was unable to bear such punishment, in 1947 they unceremoniously separated, the wife staying in Meycawayan and the husband in the house of his father at 2110 Rizal Avenue, Manila. Notwithstanding this separation of dwellings they met each other in the City of Manila, and the wife claims that in December, 1950, or January, 1951, and in September of the latter year she was again maltreated by her husband. This moved her to institute the present action alleging in the petition filed on October 26, 1951, in the Court of First Instance of Bulacan, among other things, that the system of conjugal partnership of gains governs her marriage to the respondent; that no property has been acquired during the marriage of the petitioner and respondent except a portion of a residential land located in Meycawayan, Bulacan, from which no rentals are derived; that respondent has made several attempts on the life of the herein petitioner which compelled her to live separately and apart from the respondent since 1947; and that respondent has not provided support for petitioner and their children. Hence she prays the court:

(a) that a decree be entered for the legal separation of petitioner from respondent;
(b) that petitioner be awarded the custody of their minor children Felix del Barrio and Maria Teresa del Barrio by herein respondent;
(c) that respondent be directed to contribute to the support of said children;
(d) that petitioner be allowed costs, plus attorney’s fees in the sum of P200 in this instance, to be charged against the conjugal partnership property referred to in paragraph 4 above, pursuant to Article 293 of the Civil Code of the Philippines;
(e) that whatever shall remain of said conjugal partnership property after deduction of the expenses mentioned in the next preceding paragraph, be divided and adjudicated in equal parts to herein petitioner and respondent and the conjugal partnership dissolved and liquidated; and
(f) that petitioner be granted such further and complete relief as may be just and equitable in the premises.

On November 12, 1951, respondent filed his answer to the petition denying the averments made in his wife’s pleading and prayed the court that the petition be denied and dismissed for lack of merit, it being contrary to moral and good customs and not authorized or sanctioned by statute, praying further for such other relief as provided by law, with costs de oficio.
After the issues were joined, the court, in compliance with the provisions of Article 98 of the new Civil Code, took every feasible step towards the reconciliation of the spouses, but His Honor failed in his purpose by reason of the determined refusal of the wife to yield to the efforts of the Judge to that end. Hence the case proceeded with the intervention of the office of the Provincial Fiscal of Bulacan. After hearing the Court rendered decision the dispositive part of which, translated into English, is as follows:

“IN VIEW OF THESE CONSIDERATIONS, the Court is of the opinion and so holds that the present complaint must be, as it is hereby, dismissed for lack of merits; without costs.”

Not satisfied with the outcome of her petition, Felicidad P. Muñoz appealed from said judgment, and in this instance her counsel maintains that the lower court erred:

1. In not finding that respondent-appellee had made attempts on the life of petitioner-appellant;
2. In not decreeing legal separation and in dismissing petitioner-appellant’s action without costs; and
3. In not awarding attorney’s fees to petitioner-appellant.

The new Civil Code prescribes the following:

“Art. 97. A petition for legal separation may be filed:
(1) For adultery on the part of the wife and for concubinage on the part of the husband, as defined in the Penal Code; or
(2) An attempt by one spouse against the life of the other.”

In the case at bar the alleged maltreatments to the wife by the husband occurred before their separation a mensa et thoro in 1947 must not have amounted to said husband’s attempts on the life of his wife, since the latter did not institute any action for the legal separation from him upon the effectivity of the Civil Code on August 30, 1950, and this case was only brought to court on October 26, 1951, after the alleged maltreatment of September 1951 had taken place. Therefore, in this appeal we only have to determine whether the maltreatments that appellant suffered at the hands of the respondent after their separation of dwelling, which allegedly occurred in December, 1950, or January, 1951, and September of the latter year, furnish ground for the legal separation applied for under paragraph 2 of Article 97 of the Civil Code.

In appellant’s brief mention is made of the testimonies of Jovita Faustino, a tenant of apartment No. 2068 Ipil St., Manila, owned by appellant’s father, Felix Muñoz, of Meycawayan, Bulacan, and referring to the quarrel that the spouses had in March of 1950; of Faustino Mallari, patrolman in the Manila Police Department, referring to the spouses’ encounter in December, 1950, or January, 1951; of appellant’s counsel, Attorney Manuel M. Macias, relative to the occasion in which the spouses met at his office on or about September 30, 1951; and of appellant herself. The maltreatment referred to by Jovita Faustino consisted merely in appelle’s giving a fist blow on the face of appellant. Patrolman Mallari did not witness the maltreatment on which he testified, for he was called by appellant to intervene in the quarrel between the spouses when it was already over, and the only thing he noticed was that she was crying and that there were certain scratches on her brow and cheeks and on certain points of the neck which were blackened (ecchymosis). About the quarrel spoken of by Attorney Macias, the latter declared that appelle boxed his wife on the abdomen, pulled her hair and had also twisted her neck when said attorney, Leoncio Santos and Jose Enriquez separated petitioner and respondent.

An attempt on the life of a person implies that the actor in the attempt is moved by an intention to kill the person against whom the attempt is made, and after a careful examination of the evidence produced by appellant we cannot make up our mind to declare that the alleged maltreatments of respondent to his wife were moved by such intent to kill. On the contrary, we share the opinion of the trial judge who declared that said maltreatments cannot constitute attempts on the life of appellant as provided in Article 97, No.2, of the Civil Code of the Philippines.

From the second edition of the Revised Penal Code by Dean Vicente J. Francisco – Book II, part 1, pp. 671-672 – we copy the following:

“In the prosecutions for frustrated or attempted homicide, the intention to take life must be proved with the same degree of certainty as is required with respect to other elements of the crime, and the inference of such intent should not be drawn in the absence of circumstances sufficient to prove such intention beyond reasonable doubt (People vs. Villanueva, 51 Phil., 448). It is absolutely necessary that the homicidal intent be evidenced by adequate acts which at the time of their execution were unmistakably calculated to produce the death of the victim, since the crime of frustrated or attempted homicide is one in which, more than in any other case, the penal law is based upon the material results produced by the criminal act. It is not proper or just to attribute to the delinquent a specific intent to commit the higher crime in the absence of proof to justify such a conclusion (U.S. vs. Taguibao, 1 Phil., 16). Conformably to this rule, therefore, an accused who, upon seeing a man plowing the land which was the subject matter of a dispute, immediately attacks the latter, inflicting blows upon his neck with the back of the bolo, must be convicted of physical injuries, and not of frustrated homicide, because the mere fact that the assault was committed with the back instead of the cutting edge of the bolo negatives the idea of homicidal intent and precludes the crime from constituting frustrated homicide.” (U.S. vs. Taguibao, 1 Phil., 16).

“Nothing is more difficult to discover than intention, this being a mental act; we are only able to deduce it from the external acts performed by the agent, and when these acts have naturally given a definite result, courts should not without clear and conclusive proof, hold that some other result was intended (U.S. vs. Mendoza, 38 Phil., 691, 693)> It is always to be remembered that ‘the first and simplest presumption which, as stated above, the law draws with respect to human conduct, in connection with acts of violence, is that the actor intended the natural consequence of his acts; and this presumption should be implied in a fair and rational way, with proper regard to all the details of the act, and without the suppression of any of its elements’. *** Likewise, where the accused inflicted a scalp wound with a hatchet and struck at his victim a second time, it should not be inferred, from the mere fact that a hatchet in the hands of an infuriated man is a deadly weapon, that the accused really intended to kill (People vs. Villanueva, 51 Phil., 488). When criminal liability is made to consist in the intention to perform an act which was not realized, the facts from which it is claimed that intention sprang must be such as to exclude all contrary supposition. When this intention is not necessarily disclosed by the acts performed by the defendant, greater importance should not be given to such acts than that which they in themselves import, nor should the defendants’ liability be extended beyond that which is actually involved in the material results of the act.” (U.S. vs Mendoza, 38 Phil., 691).

In the case of U.S. vs. Reyes et al., 30 Phil., 551, the Highest Tribunal of the land said the following:

“Homicide; Criminal intent. – When the case affords no good reason for holding that the assailants positively intended to kill the injured party in spite of the persistent and repeated beatings they gave him, however much they plainly demonstrated their intention of doing him injury, by striking him in an inhuman manner on various parts of his body, it is improper to classify the crime as either frustrated or attempted homicide. A personal assault must be punished according to its consequences and the harm done to the victim, for the penal law in this class of crimes is only concerned with the material results produced by the transgression, unless the perverse intention of taking the victim’s life be clearly manifested.”

In the maltreatments complained of in this case, the respondent only used at most his bare fists or hands and desisted from giving further chastisement after the first blows were given at the spur of the impulse. It is argued, however, that this is a civil case and that appellant is only bound to prove her right of action by preponderance of evidence and not by evidence beyond reasonable doubt upon which a conviction for attempted paricide would rest, and though we may, to a certain extent, agree with counsel for appellant on this point, yet we cannot help but declare that in so far as the intent to kill is concerned, it must be established with clear and convincing evidence, and that in the case at bar said intent has not been proved by such evidence. Petitioner-appellant herself should not have been so sure of her evidence when instead of the present action she dared not cause the prosecution of her husband for attempted parricide as a means of establishing her right to secure the legal separation she applies for in this case.

Wherefore, the decision appealed from, being in conformity with the law and the evidence of record, is hereby affirmed without pronouncement as to costs.

It is so ordered.

Peña and Makalintal, JJ., concur.

Judgment affirmed.

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2 Responses

  1. Thank you. Big help to! =))

  2. thank you. 🙂

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