Essential Elements of Self-Defense

In order for self-defense to be successfully invoked, the following essential elements must be proved: (1) unlawful aggression on the part of the victim; (2) reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel such aggression; and (3) lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person resorting to self-defense.[11]

A person who invokes self-defense has the burden of proof of proving all the elements.[12] However, the most important among all the elements is the element of unlawful aggression. Unlawful aggression must be proved first in order for self-defense to be successfully pleaded, whether complete or incomplete. As this Court said in People v. Catbagan,[13] “There can be no self-defense, whether complete or incomplete, unless the victim had committed unlawful aggression against the person who resorted to self-defense.”

In this case, we agree with the trial court that the accused-appellant failed to prove the existence of unlawful aggression. But he maintains that Estose provoked him when the latter started to unsheathe his bolo from his scabbard. Nevertheless, as aptly found by the trial court, his testimony is too incredible to be believed, viz:

Accused’s plea failed to impress the Court. To be sure, his story on how the deceased was killed is too incredible to inspire belief. According to him, it was the deceased who first unsheathed his bolo but did not succeed in his attempt to fully unsheathe it because he (Accused) hacked him. Thereafter, the deceased tried to wrest Accused’s bolo but was injured instead. If the deceased failed to unsheathe his bolo because Accused was able to hack him, how could the deceased then have attempted to dispossess the Accused of the latter’s bolo? The truth, of course, is that the Accused waylaid the deceased, as testified to by the prosecution witnesses.[14] x x x

Unlawful aggression is an actual physical assault, or at least a threat to inflict real imminent injury, upon a person.[15] In case of threat, it must be offensive and strong, positively showing the wrongful intent to cause injury.[16] It “presupposes actual, sudden, unexpected or imminent danger – not merely threatening and intimidating action.”[17] It is present “only when the one attacked faces real and immediate threat to one’s life.”[18] Such is absent in the instant case.

Moreover, against the positive declarations of the prosecution witnesses who testified that accused-appellant hacked Estose twice and subsequently stabbed him without any provocation, accused-appellant’s self-serving and uncorroborated assertion deserves scant consideration.

Indeed, it is a well-settled rule that “a plea of self-defense cannot be justifiably entertained where it is not only uncorroborated by any separate competent evidence but is also extremely doubtful in itself.”[19] Moreover, “[a]bsent any showing that the prosecution witnesses were moved by improper motive to testify against the appellant, their testimonies are entitled to full faith and credit.”[20]

          Therefore, absent any unlawful aggression from the victim, accused-appellant cannot successfully invoke the defense of self-defense.

About Erineus

Born on December 28, 1965, Surallah, South Cotabato, Southern Mindanao, Philippines.
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