People v. Plana (G.R. No. 128285)

Facts:

Helen Pirote had been missing for 3 days, and when she was found, she was already lifeless and decomposing. A witness (Lagud) came forward and recounted that 3 days before Helen’s body was found, on that same place, he saw 4 persons ganging up on a girl; the girl was being raped and later stabbed. Frightened that the assailants would see him, he ran away. He later learned that the deceased was Helen. In his affidavit and in his testimony in court, Lagud identified the 4 men he saw as the defendant appellants herein Plana, Perayra, Saldevea, and Banday. After due trial, the court found the 4 accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Rape with Homicide and ordered them to pay jointly and severally the heirs of the victim P50,000 as civil liability.

Issue:

Whether or not the amount of the award of civil liability is proper.

Ruling: NO.

However, there is need to modify the damages awarded to the heirs of Helen by the trial court. In addition to the sum of P25,000.00 as actual damages, the trial court awarded to the heirs of Helen the sum of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity. This amount should be increased in consonance with prevailing jurisprudence fixing the civil indemnity in cases of rape with homicide at P100,000.00. The Court, likewise, finds it proper to award the sum of P50,000.00 as moral damages. The award of moral damages may be made to the heirs of the victim in a criminal proceeding without need of proof. The fact that they suffered the trauma of mental or physical and psychological sufferings which constitute the basis for moral damages under the Civil Code are too obvious to still require recital thereof at trial.

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