MANILA -- The Court of Appeals (CA) upheld the decision of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) which sentenced Jason Ivler to life imprisonment for murder in connection with the road rage shooting of the son of a former Malacañang official in 2009.
In a 32-page decision dated Nov. 28, 2017 but was released to media on Monday, the CA 14th Division dismissed the petition filed by Ivler seeking to overturn the guilty verdict of Judge Luisito G. Cortez of Branch 84, Quezon RTC last Nov. 24. 2015 for the crime of murder for killing Renato Ebarle Jr., son of former Malacanang Undersecretary Renato Ebarle Sr..
“We uphold the accused-appellant's conviction. Contrary to Ivler's contention, the prosecution has proven all of the elements of murder,” said the ruling penned by Associate Justice Ramon Cruz and was concurred by Associate Justices Ricardo Rosario and Pablito Perez.
CA also ruled that treachery was present in the case which would aggravate the crime to murder.
"Renato Ebarle Jr. was totally unaware that he would treacherously shot in the comfort of his own car while waiting for the stoplight before him to turn green. He was unarmed and was not given any opportunity to defend himself or to escape from the deadly assault. The deadly successive shots of the accused-appellant deprived the helpless victim of any opportunity to put up a decent defense. The attack was executed by the accused appellant so viciously that a defense was virtually impossible," it states.
"Clearly the supposed altercation between the victim and the accused-appellant immediately before the shooting did not necessarily negate the presence of treachery."
The CA also modified the damages set by the lower court by increasing the amount of actual damages representing burial expenses from PHP143,890 to PHP616,590; the award of moral damages is increased from PHP75,000 to P100,000; the award of exemplary damages is increased from PHP30,000 to PHP100,000; and civil indemnity was ordered amounting to PHP100,000.
The appellate court also directed all awards for damages to earn an interest of 6 percent per year from the time of finality of the decision until fully paid.
The CA rejected Ivler’s argument that Senior Police Officer 3 Edgar Tiodin and bystander Archie Castillo failed to positively identify him as the one who shot Ebarle Jr.
According to the CA, the trial court noted that the testimonies of the eyewitnesses established that they were only three to five meters away from where the shooting happened and that the place was well-lit making it “entirely possible” for the witnesses to identify Ivler as the gunman.
The justices said Ivler “could only muster alibi” in support of his claim that he did not commit murder.
“Alibi should be rejected when the identity of the accused is sufficiently and clearly established by the prosecution. It cannot prevail over and is worthless in the face of the positive identification by a credible witness that an accused perpetrated the crime," the CA stressed.
Ivler, nephew of singer Freddie Aguilar, shot Ebarle Jr. dead over a traffic altercation in Quezon City on November 18, 2009.
Ivler was arrested on January 18, 2010 following a shootout with agents of the National Bureau of Investigation at the residence of his mother, Marlene Aguilar, in Quezon City.
The trial court sentenced Ivler with reclusion perpetua or a maximum jail term of 40 years and was ordered to pay the Ebarle family a total of PHP9.373 million for civil damages.
Ivler is currently detained at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City. (PNA)