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Jurisprudence Criminal Law

Self-Defense

Self-defense is man’s inborn right. In a physical assault, retaliation becomes unlawful after the attack has ceased, because there would be no further harm to repel.

But that is not the case when it is aimed at a person’s good name.

Once the aspersion is cast its sting clings and the one thus defamed may avail himself of all the necessary means to shake it off.

He may hit back with another libel which, if adequate, will be justified. (PEOPLE vs. HIONG. No. 10413-R. October 20, 1954)

If there is no unlawful aggression, there is nothing to prevent or to repel and the second requisite of self-defense would have no basis.

Even if we allow appellant’s contention that Tuquero was the initial unlawful aggressor, we still cannot sustain his plea of self-defense.

After appellant successfully wrested the knife from Tuquero, the unlawful aggression had ceased.

After the unlawful aggression has ceased, the one making the defense has no more right to kill or even wound the former aggressor.

The presence of large number of wounds on the part of the victim, their nature and location disprove self-defense and instead indicate a determined effort to kill the victim. (PEOPLE vs. SO, G.R. No.104664. August 28, 1995)

Plainly, the accused-appellant could no longer retreat from the continuing assault by the victim who, as inexorably shown by his relentless advance towards the accused-appellant, was poised to kill the latter.
The danger to the accused-appellant’s life was clearly imminent.

It would not then be proper nor reasonable to claim that he should have fled or selected a less deadly weapon, because in the emergency in which, without any reason whatever, he was placed, there was nothing more natural than to use the weapon he had to defend himself.

In the natural order of the things, following the instinct of self-preservation, he was compelled to resort to a proper defense.

It is settled that reasonable necessity of the means employed does not imply material commensurability between the means of attack and defense.

What the law requires is rational equivalence, in the consideration of which will enter the principal factors the emergency, the imminent danger to which the person attacked is exposed, and the instinct more than the reason, that moves or impels the defense, and the proportionateness thereof does not depend upon the harm done, but rests upon the imminent danger of such injury. (PEOPLE vs. GUTUAL. G.R. No. 115233. February 22,1996).

The actuation of deceased Fleischer in angrily ordering the continuance of the fencing would have resulted in the further chiseling of the walls of appellant’s house as well as the closure of the access to and from his house and his rice mill—which were not only imminent but were actually in progress.

There is no question, therefore, that there was aggression on the part of the victims: Fleischer was ordering, and Rubia was actually participating in the fencing.

This was indeed an aggression, not on the person of appellant, but on his property rights.

The reasonableness of the resistance is also a requirement of the justifying circumstance of self-defense or defense of one’s rights under paragraph 1 of Article 11, Revised Penal Code. When the appellant fired his shotgun from his window, killing his two victims, his resistance was disproportionate to the attack.

Appellant who was sleeping when the victims chiselled his house and fenced off his estate and who asked them to stop doing so is not guilty of sufficient provocation when he shot the victims who ignored his plea. (PEOPLE vs. NARVAEZ. Nos. L-33466-67. April 20,1983.)

Unlawful aggression presupposes an actual, sudden, unexpected attack or imminent danger thereof, not merely a threatening or intimidating attitude and the accused must present proof of positively strong act of aggression.

Even if we give credence to accused-appellant’s version of the events, specifically that the deceased hurled invectives at him and moved as if to draw something from his waist, the Court are unable to establish a finding of unlawful aggression on the victim’s part.

Unlawful aggression presupposes an actual, sudden, unexpected attack or imminent danger thereof, not merely a threatening or intimidating attitude and the accused must present proof of positively strong act of real aggression. (PEOPLE vs. ARIZALA, G.R. No. 130708. October 22, 1999)

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