Can David Lim invoke self-defense?
During my interview with Atty. Orlando Salatandre, lawyer of David Lim Jr., in my radio program “Straight to the Point” over dyHP RMN Cebu, he admitted that he has not finalized yet his theory to defend his client. He, however, said his initial theory is self-defense.
Atty. Salatandre is one of the good trial lawyers in the country. He was able to show his caliber when he defended PBMA Supreme Master Ruben Ecleo Jr. So with all due respect to him, let me just discuss or review for purposes of academic discussion as to when the justifying circumstance of self-defense can be invoked.
Article 11 of the Revised Penal Code provides the requisites that must concur for self-defense to be invoked, to wit:
1. There must be an unlawful aggression against the person defending himself;
2. Reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel it;
3. Lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending himself.
It is expected that Lim has his own version of the story contrary to the account narrated by the victim, Ephraim Nuñal. So for those of us who were not present during the incident, we cannot tell whose version is more believable. Hence, it is incumbent upon us to evaluate which version is substantiated by evidence.
For now, based on the available evidence coupled with the testimony of the person who took the video and uploaded the same, it is very hard for Lim to insist on his theory.
The video footage that became viral shows that Lim stopped his vehicle on a narrow road. He came out from his vehicle and went to the rear portion of it and moved forward, approaching Nuñal who was outside his own vehicle which was next to Lim’s. So who was the aggressor or the attacker? Can Lim meet the first element of self-defense?
What about the second element? Based on the video, the victim was unarmed. But Lim was holding a gun and fired it towards the victim, hitting the latter twice in his feet. So was the means of using a gun against an unarmed man reasonable?
What about the third element? Was there lack of provocation on Lim’s part? Based on the available evidence, it seems that none of the elements will be met by Lim. His claim for now is off-tangent and preposterous.
For this reason, Atty. Salatandre is making a theory that there must be an incident prior which was not covered by the video that was being uploaded in social media. This is Lim’s headache because if he invokes self-defense, the burden of proof rests upon him. In a long line of cases, the Supreme Court said the one who invokes self-defense must rely on the strength of his own evidence and not on the weakness of the prosecution.
That is why Lim’s family is offering P300,000 to anyone who can produce the entire video footage, if there is any, to help them prove their claim. Lim has to establish self-defense by clear and convincing evidence; otherwise, conviction will follow from his admission, as can be gleaned in the litany of cases decided by the Supreme Court.
So it seems that Lim’s willingness to spend P300,000 for anyone who can produce the entire video is not really because he wants the whole truth to come out but to see to it if it will support his theory of self-defense, as the obligation to prove the same rests upon him. If the whole video will be produced and it will support the theory of self-defense, then Lim has to use it in court, but if it will run counter to his claim, then he has to navigate from self-defense theory to another theory. It is a pain in his neck.
I can understand Atty. Salatandre when he said he has not finalized his theory yet because insisting on self-defense is very crucial. The good lawyer’s statement is well calculated so that he can still make changes if his evidence will fall short of his initial theory.
In fairness to Lim, as shown in the video, he did not fire his gun on the critical parts of the victim’s body, only on the feet. It may be said that he did not have the intention to kill.
Now, can David Lim Jr., nephew of Peter Lim whom President Rodrigo Duterte accused of being a top drug lord in Central Visayas, invoke self-defense? When the full-blown trial of this case starts, we will just wait and respect the court on how it will appreciate the evidence and decide on it.
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