The Regional Trial Court has sentenced a Virac barangay councilor to reclusion perpetua for hacking to death a sleeping farmer in March 2020.
RTC Branch 43 Presiding Judge Lelu P. Contreras also ordered Balite kagawad Archie Tabo Araojo, 34, to pay the heirs of the victim, Donato Gracio Vargas, the total sum of P200,000 as civil indemnity, moral, exemplary and temperate damages, as well as P32,899.05 as actual damages.
It may be recalled that, according to the Virac police authorities, a heated argument erupted between Vargas, then 63, and Araojo th residents of barangay Balite, at 9:15 P.M. of March 24, 2020. Both were then working with the PLDT project and paid P400 per day.
Armed with a bolo, the barangay official hacked Vargas four times on the upper part of his body. The victim was rushed by responding personnel of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Emergency Rescue Unit to the Eastern Bicol Medical Center but he was declared dead by the attending physician due to hypovolemic shock or severe blood loss from hack wounds on the head, lip, ear and forearm.
Araojo was arrested by the police and brought to the same hospital for the mandatory physical examination before he was detained at the police station.
It is claimed that prior to the incident, Araojo had been drinking liquor and slept in a hut near the elementary school. When residents woke him up as it was already night, he got up and, armed with a bolo, went looking for Vargas.
The barangay official allegedly found Vargas sleeping in a hut at a private beach resort several hundred meters away from the barangay proper and immediately hacked the victim.
The victim was reportedly stabbed a few years ago but survived the attack.
In his defense, Araojo claimed that at the start of the curfew in the barangay at 9 P.M., he want out together with another kagawad and tanod and went to an area near the sea frequented by bystanders.
There, he trained the beam of his flashlight, which caught Donato standing hear his garden, holding a sack of feeds.
He approached the farmer and reminded him that it was already curfew hour and that he should go home.
“Porket kagawad ka, huna mo kung sisay ka man, dai ka makialam sakuya maski pulis ka pa o presidente ka pa, dai kang pakialam sako ta alam ko ang batas,” Donato allegedly replied.
When he approached, Archie said Donato kicked him and he fell down.
He alleged that he picked up an object and used it to hit the face of Donato, not knowing that the object was.
During the trial, the accused admitted that Donato was not holding a weapon at the time and that he only realized that what he used to hit the farmer was a bolo after he was informed by the tanod.
Unfortunately, the Court was not convinced by the village councilor’s claims.
It noted that considering Araojo’s admitted distance from the victim, Donato could not have kicked him, and, even if he had, an examination at the EBMC emergency room showed did not indicate any injury to the councilor.
Araojo could not have hit the victim’s head while the kagawad was in a lying position, it said.
As to his claim that he did not know what he used to hit Donato, the Court pointed out that the accused admitted to the barangay captain that he hacked the victim.