People vs. Soria, – G.R. No. 179031, February 24, 2014

Facts:
On November 14, 2012, this Court rendered its Decision in this case finding accused-appellant Benjamin Soria y Gomez guilty beyond reasonable doubt of rape and sentenced him to suffer the penalty of twelve (12) years of prision mayor, as minimum, to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal, as maximum. He is also ordered to pay “AAA” the amounts of ₱30,000.00 as civil indemnity, ₱30,000.00 as moral damages, and ₱30,000.00 as exemplary damages. “AAA” is entitled to an interest on all damages awarded at the legal rate of 6% per annum from the date of finality of this judgment until fully paid.

The said Decision supposedly became final and executory on December 20, 2012. Subsequently, however, the Court received a letter from the Bureau of Corrections informing us of the death of accused-appellant on August 16, 2012. In compliance with our directive, the Director of the Bureau of Corrections submitted on November 11, 2013, a certified true copy of the death certificate of accused-appellant.

Clearly, accused-appellant’s demise on August 16, 2012 transpired before the promulgation of this Court’s Decision on November 14, 2012 or before its finality on December 20, 2012. Therefore, when accused-appellant died, his appeal before this Court was still pending resolution.

Issue:
Whether the demised accused is still liable to pay the judgment civil indemnities and damages.

Held:
No, ART. 89. How criminal liability is totally extinguished. – Criminal liability is totally extinguished by the death of the convict, as to the personal penalties; and as to pecuniary penalties, liability therefor is extinguished only when the death of the offender occurs before final judgment. Given the foregoing, it is clear that the death of the accused pending appeal of his conviction extinguishes his criminal liability, as well as his civil liability ex delicto. Since the criminal action is extinguished in as much as there is no longer a defendant to stand as the accused, the civil action instituted therein for recovery of civil liability ex delicto is ipso facto extinguished, grounded as it is on the criminal case.

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