G.R. No. 1436. January 30, 1904

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3 Phil. 270

[ G.R. No. 1436. January 30, 1904 ]




On September 4, 1902, Juan Cantos filed a written information charging Joaquin Trillanes with the offense of estafa,
alleging that in April, 1901, he delivered to the defendant in the
barrio of Mahanadiong, of the town of Taisan, Province of Batangas, for
safe-keeping, a white horse of the approximate value of 200 pesos, and
that the defendant subsequently sold the said horse to one Pedro
Castila without the knowledge or the consent of the complainant.

The complaining witness testified under oath that he was in the
barrio of Mahanadiong one day in said month of April, when the accused,
with whom he was on very good terms, accosted him and begged him to
deliver the horse to him; that he took the horse to the town of Ibaan,
delivered it to the defendant as a bailment; that he delivered the
horse because at that time the witness was wandering about the country
as an insurgent, although on the 15th of March of the next year, 1902,
he surrendered to the American authorities; that on account of illness
he was unable to go for the horse; that in May, 1902, he saw Trillanes
passing by his house, whereupon he called to him, asking him to return
the horse, and suggested to him that one of his servants might go with
him to bring back the animal; that Trillanes answered him that an
American lieutenant by the name of Mannes had borrowed the horse from
him, and that as soon as he returned it he would turn it over to Cantos;
that a few days afterwards he saw Pedro Castila go by the house riding
the horse, and then he wrote to Trillanes asking him how the horse had
been taken from his possession, and to tell him in case it had been
seized who had seized it, in order that he might claim it; that
Trillanes did not make any reply until after four letters had been sent
to him, and then he stated that he had sold the horse for the purpose
of reimbursing himself for the expenses incurred for its keep at the
rate of 2 reales per diem; that he was ready to have paid Trillanes
this amount, and the defendant nevertheless had disposed of his horse;
that a merchant of Lipa had offered him 200 Mexican pesos for it, and
that he had not wished to sell it; that in October, 1901, when he made
demand upon the defendant, by means of a letter, for the return of the
horse, the latter answered him that if he returned it and the officer
commanding the Scouts of the detachment at Ibaan should know of it, he
would fare badly, and perhaps the matter might cost him his life, and
for this reason the defendant requested the complainant not to claim
back his horse for the time being, for all of which reasons he
consented that the horse should be left in Trillanes’s possession on
account of the fact that he, the complaining witness, was really an
insurgent officer at that time, although in March, 1902, he surrendered
with his men and arms to the Americans.

Subsequently he discovered that the defendant had sold his horse,
and after repeated letters the defendant answered that lie had done so
because he had spent a lot of money in maintaining the animal and
taking care of it, for which reason he had been compelled to sell it,
and that he might as well give up all hope of ever recovering it; that
Trillanes claimed that he had given the witness his bay horse in
exchange for the latter’s white horse; that this was not true because
said horse was delivered to him by the defendant in exchange for
another horse which Trillanes had lost. A letter (record, folio 25) was
exhibited by the complainant, who said that the horse had been sold to
Marcelo Liana for $200, as per document of conveyance which was
exhibited in the record; that he had no evidence to prove the deposit,
except the letter exhibited,
and witnesses to the facts complained of.

The witnesses presented by the complaining witness having been
examined, Pedro Garcia testified that about eight months ago, more or
less, Joaquin Trillanes had sold him a white horse for 200 pesos,
Mexican currency; that he did not know whether this horse belonged to
the defendant or the complaining; witness, Juan Cantos. Sebastian Evora
and Crisanto Batjan testified that they were present when the
complaining witness, Cantos, being then in the barrio of Mahanadiong
about two years ago, had delivered the white horse in question to
Joaquin Trillanes for safe keeping. Lupo Castillo testified that one
morning in May, 1902, he was in the house of Juan Cantos and met
Joaquin Trillanes there; that he heard a conversation in the course of
which Cantos proposed to Trillanes to send a man with him to get the
white horse which the defendant had in deposit, and that Trillanes told
him that there was no need of it because he would send Cantos the
horse. Antonio Tiangco testified that the horse belonged to Cantos, he
having acquired it from Antero Gutierrez, and that he afterwards saw
the horse in the possession of the defendant, but that he did not know
how it had come into his hands. Florencio Caedo testified that in
August or September, 1901, while he was in the house of Angel Perez in
the town of Ibaan, the defendant Trillanes was also there, and that he
asked him whether he was willing to sell him the white horse, because
he had been informed that it was a handsome animal, and that Trillanes,
the defendant, replied that the horse was not his but belonged to one
Juan Cantos, and that he did not have it in his possession.

The defendant, Joaquin Trillanes, pleaded not guilty, and testifying
on his own behalf, stated that one day, the exact date he did not
remember, at the time the American Army was between Santo Tomas and
Tauauan in Batangas, the complaining witness, Juan Cantos, appeared in
his house in Ibaan, with three soldiers, remaining there until the
afternoon of the following day; that the American forces approaching,
Cantos was forced to leave, and for that purpose borrowed a bay horse
which he never returned; that over a year afterwards Cantos wrote to,
him telling him to see the white horse which he had in Taisan, and that
if he liked it he should keep it in exchange for the bay horse which he
had taken from him; that a few days afterwards both the defendant and
the complaining witness met at Taisan at the house of Ricardo Tiangco,
and later, fleeing from the Americans, they had rested in a hut out in
the fields in the barrio of Panhayaan, where
they met Mateo and Isidro Ilustre and other unknown persons, and then
and there Cantos made delivery to him of the white horse in exchange
for the bay horse; that the persons who were there assembled, as well
as the owner of the hut, Moises Sara, had witnessed the exchange, and
that afterwards each one went his way; that some months later, and
although he had spent a great deal of money in feeding and training the
horse, being afraid to lose it on account of the orders for the
reconcentration, he sold it to Pedro Castila for the sum of 200 pesos,
but after Cantos surrendered the latter asked him for the white horse
and whether he still had it, and then he told him that he had sold it
to Castila; that it is a fact that he had received letters from Cantos
in which the latter demanded of him the return of the horse, to which
he replied that he should not take the horse from him because the
exchange of the two horses, the bay for the white, had already taken
place. The defendant acknowledged as his the letter signed by him
(folio 25), and he stated besides that he remembered the horse had been
delivered to him on March 20, 1901. He likewise testified that it was
true that the complaining witness’ brown horse was lost while in his
possession, but that he had exchanged this horse with the complaining
witness for a chestnut horse; that it was true he had stated to
Florencio Caedo when the latter inquired about the white horse that the
horse belonged to him, that he had obtained it from Juan Cantos.

The witnesses for the defense, Moises Sara, Mateo Ilustre, and
Isidro Ilustre, on being examined, testified that from the morning
until the afternoon of March 20, 1901, they were in the company of the
complaining witness.and the defendant and other people, at the house of
the first named, Moises Sara, in the barrio of Panhayaan, and that at
that time Juan Cantos proposed to Trillanes the exchange of his bay
horse for the white horse, to which Trillanes agreed, and said exchange
was agreed upon, so that when Trillanes went away he took with him the
white horse and Cantos took the bay horse. Pedro Medrano testified that
Trillanes had ordered him to train his bay horse, and that one Sunday
afternoon when lie was going to ride it the defendant Trillanes told
him that he would no longer have to continue training the horse because
his friend Cantos was going to get it. That a year afterwards Trillanes
requested him to train the white horse, which according to Trillanes
had been given to him in exchange for the bay horse. Damaso Masilang
testified that one day while searching for the white horse, which his
Emiliano used to take care of and which had disappeared from the house,
Juan Cantos told him that he had already given the horse to Joaquin
Trillanes, the defendant.

Considering the merits of the case according to the rules of sound
discretion, the conviction is acquired that in this cause there is not
enough evidence to prove the existence of the offense of estafa of which the accused is charged, and consequently that the defendant should be acquitted.

An attempt has been made by the prosecution to show that the white
horse was delivered to the accused as a bailment, and by the defense
that this horse had been received in exchange for another horse of bay
color which belonged to the defendant, and which was already in the
possession of the complaining witness. In spite of this evidence and of
the contents of the letter addressed to the latter by the accused, it
is not possible to conclude that the horse in question was really
delivered to the defendant for safe-keeping. The oral testimony is
conflicting. The writer of the letter, far from acknowledging the proof
of deposit, alleges in the letter reasons which tend to show that the
delivery of the horse to him was not a bailment.

Therefore there does not exist a preponderance of evidence to
determine the existence of the offense and the guilt of the accused,
Trillanes, neither is it possible to find beyond a reasonable doubt in
view of such evidence that the offense of estafa, as defined
in article 535, paragraph 5 of the Penal Code, has been committed.
Whatever may be the rights which the parties respectively may believe
they possess as to the horses in question and as to the reimbursement
of the expenses for the feeding and care of the same, they are free to
enforce them by civil action.

From what has been stated it is therefore our opinion that the
decision appealed from be reversed and the defendant, Trillanes,
acquitted with the costs de oficio. So ordered.

Arellano, C. J., Cooper, Willard, Mapa, McDonough, and Johnson, JJ., concur.

Date created: January 11, 2019


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