G. R. No. 1423. December 29, 1903

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3 Phil. 116

[ G. R. No. 1423. December 29, 1903 ]




This  is  an  appeal from the  judgment  of the Court  of First Instance of the Province of La Union, acquitting the defendant  on a charge of incendio (arson), alleged to have been committed by him on the night of March 1, 1903,  in San Fernando de  la Union.   The camarin of one Lucino Almeida Chan Tanco, otherwise called  Tana,  was burned on that night.   It was claimed that Eduardo Abaroa Chan-Em, the accused here, had set fire to the building, and he was arrested  and  put upon  trial at San  Fernando de  la Union on June 3, 1903.

After eleven witnesses had been sworn and had testified in behalf of the prosecution, and 47 pages of testimony taken, the  court discharged the accused for the reason that the prosecution had not made out a case against him.

It was proved  satisfactorily  that  the building and  its contents, a stock of goods, valued altogether at about 60,000 pesos, Mexican currency, were destroyed by fire, but the testimony adduced to show that the accused set the building on fire was not direct and positive,  but  rather of a circumstantial and contradictory  nature, and which, apparently, was not strong enough to convince  the learned judge who tried the case of the guilt of the accused.

After carefully reading the evidence and considering its bearing and weight, we have concluded that the judgment of the Court of First Instance should be affirmed.

We do not,  however, approve of the practice adopted of dismissing  the case, on  motion of the  attorney for the accused, when the fiscal announced that he had no more testimony to offer.

Such practice should not be followed for the  reasons (1) if this court should not agree with  the conclusion reached by the  court below it would be authorized to reverse the judgment and enter judgment convicting the accused upon the facts proved by the prosecution, and thus depriving the accused of making a defense below, if he had a defense, and (2) if this  court,  on disapproval of the judgment below, should  order  a new trial the result  would be that the prosecution would be obliged to place the defendant  on trial twice, when all the evidence could have been obtained in one trial; and the defendant would have the benefit of delay and the  possible death or disappearance of witnesses for the prosecution.

We are of opinion, therefore, that the better practice is to require the defendant to make his defense, if he desires to offer evidence in his own behalf, and not to dismiss the case,  on motion, until both parties have presented all their evidence.

The judgment below is affirmed with the costs of both

instances de oficio.

Arellano, C. J., Torres, Cooper, Willard, and Mapa, JJ., concur.

Johnson, J.: I concur in the result.

Date created: April 16, 2014


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