Two persons were convicted of homicide over a veterinarian’s death during a road rage altercation in Tagaytay City in 2019.
In a 10-page decision promulgated on Thursday, Tagaytay Regional Trial Court Branch 133 Judge Gian Enrico Navarro found Gilbert Gatpandan and Laurence Arroyo guilty of homicide in connection with the death of Teddy Senen Tanchanco on 01 May 2019.
Gatpandan was sentenced to serve four to eight years in prison, while Arroyo was meted with a prison sentence of six to 10 years. They were also directed to jointly pay a penalty of P50,000 as civil indemnity; P50,000 as moral damages; and P503,469.76 as actual damages.
The case stemmed from the road altercation incident that resulted in the death of Tanchanco, who received multiple blows on different parts of his body.
Several variations of the incident were presented during the trial.
One prosecution witness testified that Gatpandan was the first to throw a punch, with Arroyo later kicking and punching the already fallen Tanchanco.
In his judicial affidavit, Gatpandan claimed that he was in the car driven by Arroyo when the vehicle driven by the victim overtook them and clipped their vehicle.
A chase ensued, which resulted in them rear-ending the victim’s vehicle after it suddenly stopped. He admitted throwing the first punch but said he did so to stop the victim from hitting them first.
Gatpandan said Arroyo started kicking and punching Tanchanco after he fell down.
Arroyo, however, claimed it was Gatpandan who continued attacking the victim after he fell down. What he did, he said, was to restrain his friend and urged them to leave the scene.
Despite the variations in the story, Navarro said that the incident was a “classic case of road rage gone too far.”
“Consistent with the evidence, the testimonies of both accused established that they both went down from their vehicle, and they both sought confrontation with the victim. Clearly, despite their denial, they ganged up on the victim, and their attack ultimately caused the victim’s death,” read the ruling.
The court said no evidence was presented to justify the attack, saying it cannot consider “bare claims” that the first punch was made in self-defense.
“From the testimonies of both accused themselves, they were involved in the chasing of the Innova because supposedly, the Innova clipped accused Arroyo’s car. That fact is not supported by any evidence and the Court does not find the self-serving claims of the accused believable. Instead, what is clear from their testimony was that they chased the Innova because of the victim’s disrespect towards them, and eventually, rear-ended the same,” the judge wrote.
“Both accused then claim that after the collision, the victim reached for something before he got struck by accused Gatpandan. However, there is no evidence about this supposed firearm or any metal object at all that the accused Gatpandan supposedly saw. Their self-serving claim in this regard cannot overcome the burden to establish self-defense,” he added.
The judge also did not believe Arroyo’s claim that he was not involved in the attack, noting that he was both positively identified by a prosecution witness and his co-accused.
“To counter the said statements, accused Arroyo claimed he was too scared at the time of the incident. The Court finds his fear contrary to his admission of chasing the Innova,” read the ruling.
Navarro recognized that there was no intention to the victim. But the incident, he said, still makes the accused liable for the crime of homicide.
In handing out the penalty, the judge cited several mitigating circumstances, including the victim’s supposed role that led to the encounter.
“There is a semblance of truth in the accused’s statements about how the victim disrespected and annoyed them leading to the encounter. Though insufficient to justify the accused’s acts against him, the victim’s action may be taken as a provocation on his part,” the judge said.
He also noted Gatpandan’s decision to voluntarily surrender to the police, which resulted in his shorter sentence.
“For accused Arroyo, it appears to be a mere afterthought, and as he failed to actually realize his supposed intent, he cannot benefit from such a mitigating circumstance,” read the decision, referring to Arroyo’s claim that he tried to report the incident to the police.
Both accused, who can still appeal their conviction, were granted provisional liberty upon posting an additional cash bond of P65,000 each.
Read more Daily Tribune stories at: https://tribune.net.ph/
Follow us on social media