Extinguished by Death

Death is a subject many people do not want to discuss. For the religious or those who believe in the afterlife, death is a means to attain everlasting life but to those who do not, death is the end of everything. Believer or not, we do know that death is the cessation of our physical or biological life and the end of our legal personality. A dead person is no longer subject to our laws except for his estate. In case of libel, however, a malicious imputation to “blacken the memory of one who is dead” (Section 353, RPC) is punishable. Criminal liability is also totally extinguished by reason of the death of the accused such as in the case of People of the Philippines vs Nelson Bayot, G.R. 200030, April 18, 2012.

Convicted of Rape

The accused Nelson was convicted of the crime of rape by the Regional Trial Court of Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental on 31 July 2000. He appealed the case before the Court of Appeals but his conviction was affirmed with modification increasing the amount of indemnity from 40,000.00 to 50,000.00 and awarding moral damages to the victim. His conviction was due to the straightforward testimony of the victim which was also corroborated by the testimony of the medico-legal officer that indeed there were physical manifestations that she was raped. The CA promulgated its decision on 09 May 2006 but in 29 May of the same year, the CA received a letter from the New Bilibid Prison that the accused already died in 04 December 2004. The Public Attorneys office nevertheless filed an appeal to the Supreme Court. The case was then forwarded to the SC for it to determine the consequence of the death of the accused.

Criminal and Civil Liabilities Extinguished

The sole question in this case is whether criminal and civil liabilities of the accused were all extinguished by the death of the accused. The Supreme Court declared in the positive. “Article 89(1) of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, specifically provides the effect of death of the accused on his criminal, as well as civil, liability. It reads thus: Art. 89. How criminal liability is totally extinguished. Criminal liability is totally extinguished: (1)By death of the convict, as to the personal penalties; and as to pecuniary penalties, liability therefor is extinguished only when the death of the offender occurs before final judgment;…” The Court also said that “it is clear that the death of the accused pending appeal of his conviction extinguishes his criminal liability, as well as the civil liability ex delicto. The rationale, therefore, is that the criminal action is extinguished inasmuch as there is no longer a defendant to stand as the accused, the civil action instituted therein for recovery of civil liability ex delicto is ipso facto extinguished, grounded as it is on the criminal case. Evidently, as this Court has pronounced in People v. Olaco and People v. Paniterce, it is already unnecessary to rule on appellants appeal. Appellants appeal was still pending and no final judgment had been rendered against him at the time of his death. Thus, whether or not appellant was guilty of the crime charged had become irrelevant because even assuming that appellant did incur criminal liability and civil liability ex delicto, these were totally extinguished by his death, following the provisions of Article 89(1) of the Revised Penal Code and this Courts ruling in People v. Bayotas.”


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