This is a case of a father, together with his two sons, murdered mercilessly another relative. Using a bolo, they hacked repeatedly the victim, until one of the accused shouted:”Tama na Manoy, gadan na!”
On 22 June 2005, at around 10:30 in the evening, the victim, Joseph Nicolas (Joseph), was at a “bingohan” in Zone 3 of Brgy. San Nicolas, Pili, Camarines Sur.
Randy Credo (Randy) arrived at the “bingohan,” approached Joseph and without any warning punched the latter on the chest, causing him to fall down. Randy then immediately ran away towards the direction of their house located at Zone 4. Joseph, on the other hand, stood up, gathered his things consisting of a lemon and an egg, and gave Randy a chase.
When Joseph’s children, Russel, Ramon, Roldan and Rea, heard that their father was in trouble, they decided to look for him in Zone 3. On their way, they met Randy, accompanied by his co-accused: his brother Ronald Credo (Ronald) and their father Rolando Credo (Rolando), who suddenly started throwing stones at them, causing them to run away.
Russel got separated from his siblings but he continued to look for his father. He came across the three accused again in Zone 2 where he saw them hacking somebody with their bolos. That person later turned out to be their father. Russel saw that when the three accused were done hacking their victim, Randy and Rolando went back to where the victim was lying and gave him another blow, saying in the Bicolano dialect, “pang-dulce” (for dessert).
The scene was witnessed by another person, Francis Nicolas Credo (Francis), a resident of Zone 2. According to Francis, at the time of the incident, he was in his bedroom preparing to go to sleep when he heard a commotion outside his house. He heard Roger Credo, the brother of Randy and Ronald, shout: “Tama na Manoy, gadan na!” (Enough brother, he is already dead!) Upon hearing these words, Francis went out of the bedroom, proceeded to their sala and peeped through the jalousies of the sala window. He saw all the accused, all armed with a bolo, repeatedly hacking Joseph to death. He saw the hacking incident very clearly because the place was lighted by a lamppost and the moon was shining brightly. Moreover, the distance between the crime scene and the window from where he was watching is only about 3 to 4 meters.
Joseph died on the same day of the incident.
Rolando and Randy denied any participation in the hacking incident, claiming that it was Ronald alone who killed Joseph. They also claimed that the killing was done in defense of Ronald and Randy’s mother whom Joseph was, at the time of the incident, about to hack. Based on the testimony of the accused, when Ronald heard of what happened between Randy and Joseph, Ronald left the house with a bolo in search of Joseph. When their parents learned that Ronald left to confront Joseph, they followed Ronald to the “bingohan.” Rina Credo Hernandez, sister of Ronald and Randy, testified that while their parents and Ronald were walking back towards their house from the “bingohan,” Joseph suddenly emerged from the back of their house with a bolo. She saw that Joseph was brandishing the bolo and was about to attack their mother so she shouted a warning to their mother. Ronald came to her rescue and attacked Joseph, resulting in the latter’s death.
Ruling of the Regional Trial Court
The trial court found that the three accused conspired in the commission of the crime and that the killing of Joseph was attended by abuse of superior strength. Hence, the trial court rendered its decision finding the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder, sentencing them to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of conviction.
Alleged inconsistencies in the witness’ statements
The accused claim that the respective testimonies of Russel and Francis were marked with several inconsistencies that cast doubt on their veracity, especially considering that they are the son and the nephew, respectively, of the victim. They noted that Francis narrated that after Ronald hacked Joseph, Rolando left with his wife followed by Ronald and Randy. Russel, on the other hand, testified that after the three accused hacked the victim, Randy and Rolando went back to where the victim was lying down and gave him another blow, saying, “pang-dulce.”
Credibility of Francis
The accused also claimed that Francis is not a credible as a witness for the prosecution on the ground that the victim is the brother of Francis’ mother – making Francis the nephew of the victim.
The Supreme Court ruling
The Supreme Court said that the inconsistency in the respective statements of Francis and Russel with respect to who among the three accused actually dealt the final blow on the victim is understandable considering that they witnessed the scene from different vantage points.
“Francis definitely had a clearer view as he was nearer the scene of the crime (3-4 meters) whereas Russel was much farther as evidenced by the fact that from where he was watching, he was unable to recognize the victim as his father. All the same, both were one in saying that at least one of the accused returned to where the victim was prostrate to give him another blow.”
The aforementioned inconsistency is, moreover, a minor detail that does not affect the credibility of Russel and Francis as eyewitnesses. The primordial consideration is that both Russel and Francis were present at the scene of the crime and that they positively identified the three accused as the perpetrators of the crime charged.”
As to the claim of the accused that Francis is not a credible witness- he being the nephew of the victim- the Highest Court said:
“Finally, the attack of the accused on the credibility of Francis as a witness for the prosecution on the ground that the victim is the brother of Francis’ mother – making Francis the nephew of the victim – loses significance when the relationship of Francis with the accused is considered: accused Rolando is his uncle, being the brother of his father, thereby making accused Randy and Ronald his first cousins. As held by the Court of Appeals:
Considering that the three accused are also his close relatives, it is difficult to believe that Francis would point to the three accused as the killers, if such were not true. Moreover, the lack of proof of ill-motive on the part of Francis, indicate that he testified, not to favor any of the parties in this case, but solely for the purpose of telling the truth and narrating what he actually witnessed. His testimony deserves full faith and credit.”
The Court therefore finds Ronald, Randy and Rolando, all surnamed Credo, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of murder.
Read related CASE BRIEF: People of the Philippines vs. Ronald Credo et. al.