The most natural tendency for every living creature is to sustain and preserve itself. Even plants have developed mechanisms to allow it to live longer and thrive. These may not always be successful but the strategies employed are impressive. Some plants are known to emit pungent chemicals or even thorns to discourage any animal to feast on it. Animals have the same defensive traits ranging from the awesome to the downright bizarre. One species of desert lizard can shoot a stream of blood from a corner of its eye towards predators to confuse them. A sub-species of octopus can change its color and shape to camouflage itself. In other words, self preservation is the fundamental law for all living creatures and our Penal Code recognizes this. It has provided that a person does not incur criminal liability if he or she kills the attacker in order to defend or deflect any harm. If self defense is invoked, the accused will have to admit to the act and prove that it is justified and not the usual process in criminal prosecution wherein the state must prove the guilt of the accused.
Masipequina vs. C.A and People
The circumstances surrounding this case are quite simple. Mesepequina and Alampayan were members of the Integrated National Police (INP) who were called to respond or take into custody an insane and violent person, Potante. The latter has chased with a bolo several persons including members of his family and threatening to kill them. Because of his tendency to be violent, his family left him alone in their house and lived in a building of a public school. The Barangay Captain and the father of Potante requested the Masipequina and Alampayan to apprehend Potante in order to bring him to the proper institution. Before proceeding to the house where Potante was residing, the Masipequina and Alampayan the family of Potante executed an affidavit stating that they are authorizing the two to undertake the necessary steps to take hold of Potante. The affidavit stated that if during the arrest Potante is killed, the family will not pursue any criminal case against the officers. Potante turned violent and attacked the officers who were trying to arrest him and in the process he was shot and killed. The Regional Trial Court convicted the officers for killing Potante. On appeal, the Solicitor General even asked the Court of Appeals to acquit the officers but the conviction was nevertheless upheld. (G.R. No. L-51206 August 25, 1989)
The Supreme Court said that the officers are entitled to an acquittal because they acted in self defense. Potante attacked the officers with a bolo nearly hacking them and in order to prevent him from inflicting fatal wounds to the apprehending officers, the latter discharged their fire-arms inflicting fatal wounds and eventually killing Potante. It was shown that (1) there was unlawful aggression on the part of Potante; (2) there was reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel the attack; (3) there was lack of provocation on the part of the officers. The evidences presented in during the trial corroborated the testimony of the officers that Potante attacked them and there was no other way to stop him but to shoot him with their firearms. Another reason for the acquittal of the officers is the fact that they were in the performance of their lawful duties as police officers. The lower courts based their conviction on suspicious circumstances that were not supported by clear proof. Here, the SC reviewed the facts and evidences and found that they point to the innocence of the officers.