Uninhabited place (despoblado), A14(6) Revised Penal Code

1. Concept

Uninhabited place, as an aggravating circumstance under the Revised Penal Code – refers to the circumstance when offender purposely sought out an isolated or secluded place to commit the crime.

An uninhabited place is one where [there] are no houses at all, a considerable distance from town, or where the houses are scattered at a great distance from each other. (U.S. v. Salgado, En Banc, G.R. No. 4498, August 5, 1908, Per Arellano, C.J., citing Judgment in cassation, January 9, 1884.)

a. Legal basis

Article 14. Aggravating circumstances. – The following are aggravating circumstances:
6. That the crime be committed… in an uninhabited place… whenever such circumstances may facilitate the commission of the offense.

(Revised Penal Code)

2. Uninhabited place (despoblado)

For the aggravating circumstance of uninhabited place, the offender purposely sought out an isolated or secluded place to commit the crime.

a. Isolated, secluded, away from houses

U.S. v. Arciga, En Banc, G.R. No. 1129, April 6, 1903, Per Mapa, J.:

• With respect to the circumstance of the commission of the crime in an uninhabited place, we do not find this circumstance sufficiently proven in the case, in consideration of the fact that a short distance from the place where the crime was committed there was a station, the precise purpose of which was to serve as a shelter for the peace officers of the town. On the other hand, it does not appear that when the offense in the case at bar was committed there were no watchmen at the station; therefore it can not be said, strictly speaking, that the place in question was an uninhabited, solitary place, and that its isolation made it easy to commit the crime with impunity. This is the very element upon which rests the increased responsibility for crimes committed in uninhabited places.

People v. Manzano, G.R. No. L-38449, November 25, 1982, Per Guerrero, J.:

• We affirm the appreciation by the trial court of the aggravating circumstance of uninhabited place. The evidence is clear that the place where the assailant brought the offended party for the fulfillment, of the heinous act was about 40 meters away from the, road. The place was full of stones and under bushes. The [trail] was story all the way from the road and there were also big boulders. As described by Mayor Demetrio Braganza, the way was thick with bushes and trees and you have to climb up for it is hill. According to the offended girl, the distance from her house to the house of the respondent. Balmania was more than a kilometer and the rape took place mid-way between said house of Crespo and the house of her brother where she was the living. In People vs. Mendoza…, despoblado was aggravating in robbery with homicide, the house nearest to that of the victim was 400 meters distance. In People vs. Saquing…, where the killing was done in a secluded place at the foot of the hill, forested and uninhabited, the nearest house being 200 meters away, the crime is attended by the aggravating circumstances of uninhabited place. Since the accused himself states that the nearest house was that the trial court that the place was purposely sought the chosen by the appellant to avoid detection and preclude any interference to his bestial desire.

People v. Arpa, En Banc, G.R. No. L-26789, April 25, 1969, Per Teehankee, J.:

• We hold that the trial court correctly held that the crime committed was attended by the aggravating circumstance of uninhabited place. The accused, in having boarded at Davao City the motor banca, together with other passengers bound for Talicud Island, Davao, and carrying out their criminal design of stealing the said motor banca, once it was in the middle of the sea and when it developed engine trouble, with one of them firing revolver shots in order to forestall any resistance, certainly cannot disclaim that they sought the isolation of the sea to attain their criminal objective without interference. As held by this Court in People vs. Rubia, the aggravating circumstance of the crime of homicide having been committed in an uninhabited place must be considered, where the deed was committed at sea, where it was difficult for the offended party to receive any help, while the assailants could easily have escaped punishment, and the purely accidental circumstance that another banca carrying the eyewitnesses to the crime was also at sea in the vicinity at the time without the assailants’ knowledge is no argument against the appreciation of said circumstance.

People v. Pinca, En Banc, G.R. No. L-16595, February 28, 1962, Per Curiam:

• The aggravating circumstance of uninhabited place (despoblado) does not exist; the aggravating circumstance of dwelling, however, is present. It is held that the aggravating circumstances of dwelling and scaling were present in the commission of the crime of robbery with homicide, “… because the store where it was committed is a dwelling, the deceased Cua Loc having lived therein, and because there is scaling when entrance is effected through an opening not intended for said purpose. … The foregoing circumstances were certainly not inherent in the crime committed, because, the crime being robbery with violence or intimidation against persons, the authors thereof could have committed it without the necessity of violating or scaling the domicile of their victim” … In the case at bar, Montallana and the other victims were killed by the appellants with firearm and bolo, inside the house of the former, after having gained entrance therein, thru an opening not intended for entrance or egress.

People v. Bangug, En Banc, G.R. No. 28832, September 17, 1928, Per Curiam:

• On December 23, 1926, two hunting parties, one from Ilagan Isabela, and the other from Naguilian, Isabela, were encamped in the region called Gulu or Cama, situated in the subprovince of Bontoc. The party from Ilagan was composed of Juan Bangug, Gabriel Bangug, Francisco Bangug, Jose Angoluan, Pascual Tulinao, and Eufrasio Carabanga, and the one from Naguilian was composed of Antonio Mangadap, Juan Gallina, Antonio Talusig and Federico Caoilan. On the day mentioned, two Constabulary soldiers named Nabagtec and Sison accompanied by a cargador, an Igorot named Tulang, arrived near the camps of the hunters. The two soldiers and their cargador were then returning to their station at Natonin, Bontoc, from a trip to Sili to escort Lieutenant Gloria of the Constabulary Medical Corps.

• Once in the camp of the hunters from Ilagan, the Constabulary soldiers examined the licenses of the shotguns, and after taking all the ammunition, returned the guns to their respective owners, Juan Bangug and Gabriel Bangug. The soldiers then told the hunters that they would be taken to Natonin the next morning to answer for a violation of the hunting law in using artificial lights. Later, about sunset, while the two soldiers and the Igorot cargador were cooking their supper, the Ilagan hunters gathered together and agreed to kill the two soldiers and the Igorot. Evidently the soldiers did not notice the secret confab for after eating supper they laid down. The hunters with the Igorot cargador slept inside the shed while the soldiers slept outside. Sometime between midnight and 3 o’clock in the morning while the two soldiers and the Igorot cargador were sleeping soundly the murder was perpetrated. First, Juan Bangug slipped up quietly and possessed himself of the carbines of the Constabularymen. Then the soldiers and the Igorot were attacked by the members of the Ilagan party, the latter being armed with the guns of the soldiers and with bolos and lances. Although the soldiers put up the best fight possible against hopeless odds, and although one of the soldiers succeeded in wounding Francisco Bangug so seriously that sometime later he succumbed to his wounds, within a short time the soldiers and the Igorot cargador were killed. The horse of the Constabulary men was shot, the carbines were hid in the bushes, and the three corpses were dragged a short distance and left.

• Antonio Mangadap of the Naguilian hunting party, who saw most of the tragedy, departed hurriedly on being threatened with death if he should ever disclose the incident to any one. The members of the Ilagan hunting party returned to their homes on December 25th and reported to the authorities the death of Francisco Bangug, stating that he had fallen from his horse and accidentally wounded himself with his lance. So the whereabouts of the missing soldiers and the Igorot cargador remained a mystery until May, 1927, when certain rumors were run down and investigated, with the result that suspicion pointed to the Ilagan and Naguilian hunters. As a result of the investigation, the members of the Ilagan party were identified and arrested. They were taken to the scene of the crime, and there three human skeletons were found, which were shown to be those of the two soldiers and the Igorot cargador.

• The second aggravating circumstance that the crimes were committed in an uninhabited place must also be taken into consideration. The locality where the crime were perpetrated was isolated, far from human habitation and with two sheds used for hunting purposes. The fact that occasionally persons passed there and that on the night the murders took place another hunting party was not a great distance away, does not change the characteristics attending this circumstance. It is the nature of the place which is decisive.

b. Purposely sought

People v. Aguinaldo, En Banc, G.R. No. L-333843, February 11, 1931, Per Villamor, J.:

• The Attorney-General also alleges that the circumstance of uninhabited place cannot properly be accepted, for lack of evidence to show that the appellant sought the solitude of the place where the crime was committed in order the better to attain his purpose. We agree with the Attorney-General. The evidence does not clearly show that the place was about 1 kilometer away form the nearest house.

Garces v. People, G.R. No. 173858, July 17, 2007, Per Ynares-Santiago, J.:

• [B]etween 8:00 and 9:00 o’clock in the evening, AAA was on her way to the chapel when the five accused suddenly appeared and approached her. Rosendo Pacursa covered her mouth with his hands and told her not to shout or she will be killed. He then brought her inside a nearby tobacco barn while his four companions stood guard outside.

• Inside the barn, Pacursa started kissing AAA. Private complainant fought back but to no avail. Thereafter, Pacursa succeeded in having carnal knowledge of her. After a while, they heard people shouting and calling the name of AAA. At this point, petitioner Ernesto Garces entered the barn, covered AAA’s mouth, then dragged her outside. He also threatened to kill her if she reports the incident.

• Upon reaching the house of Florentino Garces, petitioner released AAA. Shortly afterwards, AAA’s relatives found her crying, wearing only one slipper and her hair was disheveled. They brought her home but when asked what happened, AAA could not answer because she was in a state of shock. After a while, she was able to recount the incident.

• The aggravating circumstance of uninhabited place cannot likewise be appreciated in the absence of evidence that the accused actually sought an isolated place to better execute their purpose. The records do not show that solitude was purposely sought or taken advantage of to facilitate the commission of the crime [of rape].

People v. Tarrayo, En Banc, G.R. No. L-26489, April 21, 1969, Per Curiam:

• [T]he circumstance of uninhabited place should not have been appreciated in the case. For while there was testimony that the nearest house to the place where the homicide was committed was about 150 meters away, there was no showing that the isolation of the place was purposely sought by the accused to enable attainment of their objective without interference, or to secure themselves against recognition and punishment. True it is accused Salvador Egang declared that he and Felipe Robles brought the girl to a plantation about a kilometer away to avoid discovery of the rape. But the accused are not being charged here of the specific crime of rape; they are accused of robbery with homicide. In fact, as recited in the information, the rape constituted merely an aggravating circumstance, and should properly be appreciated as such.

People v. Dayug, En Banc, G.R. No. 25782, September 30, 1926, Per Villa-Real, J.:

• The Igorrotes Kalingas and Gumpad were previously accused, convicted, and sentenced to life imprisonment for having killed the family of another Kalinga Igorrote named Suguian. The herein accused are relatives of Suguian and wanted to revenge the death of the family of their relative. Having been informed that Kalinga Daupan, a relative of Abauag and Gumpad, and Kalinga Panabang had gone to the barrio of Laya, and Igorrote woman named Banayan told them to intercept the travellers on the road. On January 5, 1926, the accused started out ahead of them and upon arriving at the barrio of Pakik waited in ambush. At about noon Daupan and Panabang passed by them. The accused followed them at a distance of about 80 yards, trying not to be seen. At Belen they overtook them, Dayug attacking Panabang and bannaisan attacking Daupan, each using his respective bolo. Dayug first wounded Panabang on the right shoulder and later in the back. Panabang started to run away, Dayug pursuing him and when he overtook him, Panabang faced him. Dayug then gave him a third blow with the bolo which penetrated the abdomen. As Panabang again attempted to run away, Dayug gave him the fourth blow which struck his right leg above the knee, causing him to fall face downward on the ground when he again stabbed him in the buttock. Panabang died instantly. After his death Dayug searched his clothes and found P18, consisting of 10 silver pesos, 4 one-peso bills and 2 two-peso bills, in a purse wrapped ina handkerchief. He also found five silver rings on the person Panabang. While Dayug was engaged with Panabang, Bannaisan pursued the Igorrote Daupan, inflicting a wound in her abdomen, another in the right lumbar region, another across the left cheek and another in the right buttock. The accused divided the money and the rings, Bannaisan taking the P10 in silver and three rings and Dayug the rest.

• Briefly, the only aggravating circumstances in regard to the two accused which, in our opinion, can properly be considered are, the uninhabited place and the disregard of sex in respect to the accused Bannaisan, all of which are offset by the special extenuating circumstance provided in article 11 of the Penal Code, as amended by Act No. 2142, more especially in regard to the members of the non-Christian Tribes, to whom, due to their custom and traditions, it is second nature to revenge the death of a relative, which only instruction and education can eradicate.

U.S. v. Gampoña, En Banc, G.R. No. L-12057, August 30, 1917, Per Street, J.:

• It appears from the evidence in this case that on or about April 1, 1915, Leon Raneses was murdered in the municipality of Sinait, in the Province of Ilocos Sur, under the following circumstances: Clemente Gampoña, being moved by the desire to possess the wife and the property of Raneses, induced Valentin Yacas, Liberto Tumbaga, Tomas Mangrubang, and Roman Guillermo to kill him for a reward to be paid in money. In order to accomplish the work with the least possible danger of discovery, it was decided that the intended victim should be lured to a wild, remote, and uninhabited place in the mountains. To this end he was invited to go with these four men to a place called Pittao upon the pretense that they would there find a molave tree from which flowed bulbulong, a mysterious liquid supposed to have the virtue of making the man who possessed it irresistible to women. By prearrangement the party met late in the evening on the date mentioned above at a hut situated in a field of Tomas Mangrubang. To this place the deceased was brought by Liberto Tumbaga; and there these two found their three companions ready for the journey. The party proceeded on its way, but after they had climbed some distance up Mount Camiding they decided to stop for the night. When Raneses had fallen asleep the assassins, who had remained awake, arose and proceeded to their work. Valentin Yacas struck the deceased in the forehead with a hatchet — a blow which necessarily would have been fatal. Roman Guillermo then struck him in the right side and Tomas Mangrubang struck him in the left side with the sharp edge of the same instrument, inflicting other wounds of a serious nature. When the victim was dead the body was buried in the bed of a dry stream nearby, and the murderers returned to their homes.

• There were present in this case the aggravating circumstances of craft, alevosia, evident premeditation, and that the crime was committed in an uninhabited place. (Subsections 2, 7, 8, 15 of section 10.)

c. Shared house, but no one is around

U.S. v. Cabaya, En Banc, G.R. No. 1611, March 13, 1905, Per Arellano, C.J.:

• As to the other aggravating circumstances considered in the judgment, only the one of the crime having been executed in an uninhabited place can be considered, for, although it was in the miners’ house, there was a storehouse near it where Cabaya and his companions slept the night previous. It, however, does not appear that there were any more buildings or houses, and of course at the time of the occurrence Cabaya’s companions were absent from the house, and he was in or near the house with Frank Helm in reality making it an uninhabited place.

3. Other things to note

The following are other things to note.

a. Uninhabited place and nocturnity

[The] circumstances of nocturnity and uninhabited place, when present together, may be considered separate when they appear to be independent of one another. (People v. Fontalba, En Banc, G.R. No. L-43126, July 5, 1935, Per Avanceña, C.J.)

b. Uninhabited pace, nocturnity, and treachery

U.S. v. Salgado, En Banc, G.R. No. 4498, August 5, 1908, Per Arellano, C.J.:

• It is true that the crime was committed at night. In accordance with the judgment in cassation rendered on the 21st of June, 1890 —

The circumstance of nocturnity and an uninhabited place does not absolutely imply treachery, nor is it, as a general rule, inherent in the latter, inasmuch as there are crimes wherein the former circumstance is present and which are not treacherous, so there are many others in which the first circumstance is not present; therefore, they are entirely compatible the one with the other, and should be given the legal value that they respectively possess, except in the case of some particular crime wherein nocturnity constitutes the most salient feature of our means whereby the crime [is] treacherously committed.


Title I – Felonies and Circumstances which Affect Criminal Liability, Book I, Act No. 3815, Revised Penal Code

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