Differentiating between homicide and murder

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

SPO1 Adonis Dumpit was charged with murder in court by the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices (Moleo) last Jan. 31, 2006, more than a year after he shot and killed robbery suspect Ronron Allosada Go on Dec. 14, 2004.

After the shooting, Cebu City figured in a series of attacks on persons with criminal records. The incidents were reportedly inspired by then Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña who was concerned about the rising crime rate.

The media dubbed the murders of suspected criminals as “vigilante-style killings” and these were condemned by then Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal.


Dumpit’s case was promulgated yesterday morning nine years, seven months and 22 days after the incident.


Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 6 Judge Ester Veloso convicted the policeman of homicide.

Homicide is the killing of one person by another, while murder is a form of criminal homicide, where the culprit intended to kill the other person, sometimes with a plan to kill, according to an online legal dictionary.

Under the Revised Penal Code (RPC), the aggravating circumstances of murder include “treachery and taking advantage of superior strength, with the aid of armed men, or employing means to weaken the defense or of means or persons to insure or afford impunity.”

Veloso, in her decision, said the prosecution failed to prove that Dumpit shot Go with treachery and superior strength, but the “fact remains that the accused shot and killed the victim.”

“The events leading to the shooting disprove any finding of such aggravating circumstance. The testimonies of both the prosecution and defense witnesses disclosed that the victim Ronron Go was a suspect in a robbery involving Kimberly Corro, then 14... Corro testified that Go robbed her of her necklace and pointed a gun at her inside a jeepney,” she said.

“The incident was reported to the police and also to the accused Dumpit. That fateful afternoon, after receiving the report, the accused searched for Go and in the course thereof, shot and killed him. It cannot be said, however, that abuse of superior strength was employed, just because the accused was armed. As a police officer, he would obviously have a firearm. Moreover, there was a reasonable expectation on the part of the accused that Go would be armed, based on the narration of the robbery victim Corro that Go had pressed a gun to her forehead,” she said.

Not proven

According to jurisprudence, treachery is established when these elements are present: the victim is not in a position to defend himself at the time of the attack and the perpetrator intended to attack the victim.

These elements were not proven when prosecution witness Andres Satorre testified that when Go faced Dumpit, the victim tried to flee, despite Dumpit’s warning not to.

The policeman had also said during trial that he warned Go not to escape, but the latter did not heed him.

Satorre said Dumpit shot Go right away without a warning shot.

Dumpit said he did it in self-defense because he saw the victim pointing a gun at him.

The judge said the shooting was not “sudden and unexpected.”

“Clearly, when the first shot was fired, there was no treachery,” she said. “The victim was sufficiently warned, thereby proving that the accused did not employ means to ensure that the victim could not defend himself. Such a warning would have given the victim a chance to make a conscious choice of what to do next.”

Jurisprudence states that the abuse of superior strength is present whenever there is inequality of forces between the victim and the aggressor. It further says the aggressor with superior strength is at the advantageous position in committing a crime.

The prosecution failed to prove that Dumpit used his superior strength as a police officer during the incident.

“No evidence, whether direct or circumstantial, was presented to establish that there had been inequality of strength between the accused and the victim, or that the former had purposely or consciously taken advantage of superior strength in committing the crime,” Veloso said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 06, 2014.

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