Wednesday, December 2, 2015

On "putang ina mo", grave threat, and defamation - - G.R. No. L-21528 & L-21529

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The third and fourth issues are related and will be discussed together. Petitioner avers that the appellate court erred in affirming the decision of the trial court erred in affirming him of grave threats and of grave oral defamation when he could legally be convicted of only one offense, and in convicting him of grave threats at all when the evidence adduced and considered by the court indicates the commission of light threats only.

The demonstration led by petitioner Agustin Hallare in front of the main gate of the naval station; the fact that placards with threatening statements were carried by the demonstrators; their persistence in trailing Hallare in a motorcade up to his residence; and the demonstration conducted in front thereof, culminating in repeated threats flung by petitioner in a loud voice, give rise to only one conclusion: that the threats were made "with the deliberate purpose of creating in the mind of the person threatened the belief that the threat would be carried into effect." 2 Indeed, Hallare became so apprehensive of his safety that he sought the protection of Col. Monzon, who had to escort him home, wherein he stayed while the demonstration was going on. It cannot be denied that the threats were made deliberately and not merely in a temporary fit of anger, motivated as they were by the dismissal of petitioner one month before the incident. We, therefore, hold that the appellate court was correct in upholding petitioner's conviction for the offense of grave threats.

The charge of oral defamation stemmed from the utterance of the words, "Agustin, putang ina mo". This is a common enough expression in the dialect that is often employed, not really to slander but rather to express anger or displeasure. It is seldom, if ever, taken in its literal sense by the hearer, that is, as a reflection on the virtues of a mother. In the instant case, it should be viewed as part of the threats voiced by appellant against Agustin Hallare, evidently to make the same more emphatic. In the case of Yebra, G.R. No. L-14348, Sept. 30, 1960, this Court said:

The letter containing the allegedly libelous remarks is more threatening than libelous and the intent to threaten is the principal aim and object to the letter. The libelous remarks contained in the letter, if so they be considered, are merely preparatory remarks culminating in the final threat. In other words, the libelous remarks express the beat of passion which engulfs the writer of the letter, which heat of passion in the latter part of the letter culminates into a threat. This is the more important and serious offense committed by the accused. Under the circumstances the Court believes, after the study of the whole letter, that the offense committed therein is clearly and principally that of threats and that the statements therein derogatory to the person named do not constitute an independent crime of libel, for which the writer maybe prosecuted separately from the threats and which should be considered as part of the more important offense of threats.

The foregoing ruling applies with equal force to the facts of the present case.

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby reversed and petitioner is acquitted, with costs de oficio, insofar as Criminal Case No. 2595 of the Court a quo (for oral defamation) is concerned; and affirmed with respect to Criminal Case No. 2594, for grave threats, with costs against petitioner.

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See - 

G.R. Nos. L-21528 and L-21529 
March 28, 1969
ROSAURO REYES, petitioner,