The man who battered his wife and youngest child to death using a stick last November 2020 has pleaded guilty to all charges and will spend most of his remaining, crippled life behind bars.
Brought in on a stretcher by jail guards, Joevinal delos Santos managed to answer “iyo” (yes) when asked by Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 42 Presiding Judge Genie G. Gapas-Agbada whether he understood the penalty meted to him.
With his unmoving legs already shriveled, delos Santos has not been able to sit up due to a spinal injury sustained when the bullet fired by a policeman hit his stomach and continued to his spine.
Pleading guilty to each of the separate charges of homicide, parricide and frustrated parricide after reaching an agreement with the prosecution, he was sentenced to imprisonment of eight years and one day as minimum to 14 years, eight months and one day as maximum for each charge.
He was also ordered to pay a total of P300,000 in actual, exemplary and moral damages to the heirs of his deceased live-in partner, Marisol Vargas, another P300,000 in similar damages for the death of their youngest child, and P150,000 to the second child who survived the senseless attack.
The police originally filed charges of murder, parricide, frustrated parricide and assault upon an agent in authority against delos Santos shortly after the incident but the prosecution later withdrew the information for the last charge.
A native of Bagamanoc who married a lass from Sta. Cruz, Virac and settled in a small house on a lot owned by his wife’s family at Francia, he was a former barangay tanod who had no permanent job and worked odd jobs by helping in the farm or assisting construction workers, Barangay Chairman Melchor Manlangit told the Tribune last year.
With five children in the family, he and partner Marisol Vargas depended on the Conditional Cash Transfers of the government under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) for their daily sustenance.
It is claimed that months prior to the bloody incident, Joevinal apparently came under severe mental stress when he changed one number on the usual six numbers he betted on at the local lotto outlet.
When the original numbers were all picked during the draw, he suffered sleepless nights and lost his desire to converse until one day, he allegedly ran into a nearby compound and banged his head on the concrete wall.
Concerned citizens brought the bloodied de los Santos to the hospital and he came back later apparently normal.
But the illness reportedly returned and he went home to his parents in Bagamanoc about six months before the incident until he was brought back to Virac by his parents, who assured his wife that he was already okay.
After supertyphoon Rolly struck the capital town, he was working at a nearby house when he was scolded by the owner over an undisclosed matter.
Joevinal took the scolding badly and did not sleep for a day.
Hours later, neighbors heard him quarreling with his wife, prompting a resident to call the police for assistance at 6:30 P.M.
Virac police chief Maj. Antonio Perez said the nearest mobile patrol vehicle immediately went to the scene and was met by residents who said, “Sir, tinaraga na su pamilya!”
At the small compound where the family lived, the law enforcers saw the three bloodied victims lying on the ground, with the suspect hiding in a dark portion.
The responding lawmen introduced themselves and called on him to surrender and lie on the ground but delos Santos instead rushed at the officers, prompting one of them to shoot the suspect once. He and his wife were brought to the Eastern Bicol Medical Center (EBMC) where the woman was declared dead on arrival while the minor victims were rushed by responding Philippine Red Cross and Virac MDRRMO personnel to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Hospital.
Of the five children, the one-year old was in the mother’s arms when the rampage began while the other child victim was out buying something when she heard her mother shout and ran in to help, only to be struck by her father.
All three victims were hit in the head by delos Santos using a slender “bahi” stick later found in the premises.
Both of the wounded children were in critical condition at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Hospital but the youngest succumbed to her wounds.