G.R. No. 1537. April 08, 1905

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4 Phil. 391

[ G.R. No. 1537. April 08, 1905 ]




In the principal document, with the falsification of which the
defendants were charged, it was recited that the defendant Geronimo
Milla stated that he was owner of the lands therein described and it
was further recited that the complaining witness, Victoriano Barcena,
and the four other complaining witnesses, ceded to the defendant
Geronimo Milla an undivided half of the said lands. That these
complaining witnesses actually signed this document is undisputed. They
so testified themselves. By such signatures they gave their consent to
the contract and to the terms thereof, as stated in the said instrument.

It is claimed by them, however, that their consent to the contract
was obtained by intimidation on the part of the defendant Juan Cardona,
in which the defendant Geronimo Milla participated, and of which the
other defendants Agustin Ramos and Manuel Navarro had knowledge at the
time. The defendant Agustin Ramos was at the time the municipal
president and Manuel Navarro the municipal secretary of the pueblo of
Gerona, in the Province of Tarlac, and they signed the contract in
their official capacity, the said Ramos claiming to exercise the
functions of a notary public. The complaint charges all the defendants
with the falsification of a public document, in the particular that
they made in the contract in question a false statement of the facts
(Art. 300, par. 4, Penal Code). But in view of the fact that the
parties to the contract gave their consent to the document, we do not
see how there could have been any false statement of the facts
contained therein, at least such a false statement as would subject the
parties to the contract to the penalties contained in article 300 of
the Penal Code. It is claimed by the Government that, because their
consent to this contract was obtained by intimidation, the effect is
the same as if no consent had ever been given and the entire document
had been simulated. We can not agree with this contention. The document
was not a simulated or a false document, but was a genuine one, bearing
the genuine signatures of the parties to it.The fact that one’s consent
to a contract may be obtained by mistake, violence, intimidation, or
fraud does not make the contract a false contract. The rights of a
party whose consent has thus been obtained are denned in articles 1265,
1300 et seq., of the Civil Code. Whatever other crime these defendants,
and especially Cardona, may have been guilty of, they were not, we
think, guilty of the crime of falsification, either of a public or
private document. The other documents with the falsification of which
the defendants are charged but state the result of the principal
document, and if the latter is not falsified the former can not be. The
defendant Cardona having died pending the appeal, the cause is
dismissed as to him. As to the other defendants, the judgment of the
court below is reversed and they are acquitted, with the costs of this
instance de ofcio.

Arellano, C. J,, Mapa, and Johnson, JJ., concur.
Carson, J., reserves his opinion.



From the evidence adduced in the case the following facts appear
perfectly proven: That some days previous to March 6, 1901, the
individuals Victoriano Barcena, Domingo Celestino, Tiburcio Taberna,
Simeon Manuel, and Bonifacio Tabago, all residents of the barrio of
Sulipa, town of Gerona, were summoned by the police pursuant to an
order written and issued by Agustin Eamos, municipal president of
Gerona, to appear at the municipal building with the titles to their
property held by them, respectively, in that town. That on doing so on
March 6 they were held in the president’s office until the afternoon of
that day, when they were told to come back the next day, the 7th, and
were allowed to leave the municipal building. That on returning the
next day they found there, among others, these four defendants, and
having exhibited their titles of property mentioned, Juan Cardona, who
was then provincial secretary, took the documents exhibited (to be seen
on pages 5 to 29 of the record) under the pretext that they had to be
registered in the new registry for the reason that the old registry had
been burned and also for the reason of the change of sovereignty of
these Islands, and caused the secretary, Manuel Navarro, to write a
note at the bottom of each of the aforesaid titles (to be seen on the
reverse of pages 7, 10, 16, 22, and 29). In these notes it is stated
that each one of the aforesaid, Barcena, Celestino, Taberna, Manuel,
and Tabago, transferred a part of the land to which the documents
related to the defendant Geronimo Milla, there appearing underneath the
note the names of Agustin Ramos and Manuel Navarro and sealed with the
municipal seal. On the same day, March 7, 1901, the document to be seen
at page 38 of the record, marked Exhibit 2, was likewise issued, in
which document, among other things, it appears that the aforesaid
Domingo Celestino, Victoriano Barcena, Bonifacio Tabago, Tiburcio
Taberna, and Simeon Manuel, for the reasons therein stated, offered to
the party of the first part, Geronimo Milla, one-half of the land which
they respectively held, setting forth the dimensions of each part
ceded. In document No. 2 the seal of the municipality is to be seen and
the names of Agustin Ramos, Geronimo Milla, Manuel Navarro, and of
three of the injured parties themselves, except Barcena and Manuel, who
did not know how to sign, and Ariston Flores and Marcos Valeti signed
for them; under their names appears the name of Flores, but the name of
Marcos Valeti does not appear; that of Marcos Facun does.

In the document to be seen at page 41, Exhibit 3, it appears that at
10 o’clock on the morning of March 8,1901, the municipal president,
Ramos, with his secretary, Navarro, and the provincial secretary, Juan
Cardona, together with several deputies, some neighbors, the interested
party, Milla, and the five injured parties met at Asaan, barrio of
Sulipa, Gerona, and there, after having staked off the parcels of lands
which the injured parties, Barcena, Celestino, Taberna, Manuel, and
Tabago, owned and one-half of which they ceded in favor of Geronimo
Milla, it being the southern portion, the cession was recorded and for
this reason the document on which appears the seal of the president,
together with the signatures of Agustin Ramos, Geronimo Milla, Juan
Cardona, Manuel Navarro, and the witnesses present, ‘was extended;
alongside of the entry of this document there appears a note (which
note appears at page 43 of the record) wherein it is stated that
Geronimo Milla ceded to Cristina Tubay, the concubine of Cardona, part
of the land in question, stating the location, area, and limits of the
same, and also bearing the seal of the municipality and the signatures
of Agustin Ramos, Geronimo Milla, and Manuel Navarro.

The injured parties affirm to have signed these documents without
knowing the contents thereof, and without their having been interpreted
to them and that they did so because of the threats and intimidation
employed by Juan Cardona, of whom they were afraid, because, as it
appears proven, the latter had been in the habit of torturing and
maltreating many people by, among other means, the water cure. The
injured parties complained afterwards to the governor of the province
of the criminal and iniquitous deprivation done them, for which reason
said functionary, to help them, ordered that the possession of the
lands taken from them be restored to them. All this appears proven at
the trial.

Record was made of the cession on each one of the documents or title
of property of the injured parties. In document Exhibit 3 in which the
cession is made by the injured parties in favor of Geronimo Milla of a
part of their lands, by virtue of an agreement which is alleged to have
been made between the latter and the former which was made in the legal
form, the crime of falsification of public documents was committed
through the successive acts. This crime is provided for in article 301
of the Penal Code, together with article 300 of the same Code. It was a
fraud, since the truth was not stated in the notes when they were
extended and in said document of transfer and in the minutes of the act
of transfer and in the narration of the facts. Indeed, five deeds of
transfer of the property and possession of a certain part of certain
lands were simulated with the appearance of having been made freely and
voluntarily by the owners thereof in favor of Geronimo Milla, with
whom, as it is stated, the grantors had agreed, all of which was false,
and the injured parties, as soon as they were able, resorted to the
governor of the province, protesting and asking help against the
iniquitous act of which they were the victims, riot going before the
judge of the Court of First Instance, because at that time no Court of
First Instance had been established in Tarlac.

It is true that the owners of the land signed the deed of transfer
and the minutes of the delivery of possession aforesaid and their
signatures might imply their consent to the same, but it is none the
less true that they signed those documents through the intimidation
exercised on them by Juan Cardona, the provincial secretary, who had at
that time all through the provinces the reputation of being a cruel
man, given to the abuse of his position of former gobernadorcillo,
and of his influence and official position of provincial secretary
which he held, as appears fully proven in the case. It is, then, an
agreement by which the principals therein sought to simulate a contract
of transfer, not only null and void in itself, but a document which has
never had any legal existence for the reason that a false object and a
false consent, extorted by means of intimidation were had. In law it
can not be contended that such a simulation or pretended contract could
have any legal existence; it would endanger property, society, order,
and government, and the law has expressly provided that such criminal
acts shall fall within its criminal provisions. It is, however,
necessary not to confuse a fictitious contract which may be annulled,
with one which is feigned or pretended and in which an agreement is
alleged to have been made, without there having existed therein the
free and voluntary consent necessary to make the contract. (Arts. 1261,
1265, 1268, and 1300 of the Civil Code.)

In the present case there was no agreement of cession; on the
contrary, it was feigned in order to transfer part of the land
belonging to the five injured parties in favor of Geronimo Milla, and
to this end false documents were made wherein the truth was
misrepresented as regards the narration of the facts, since such
contract of cession never existed and, in fact, without any reason or
motive present to explain this act, it can not be conceived how five
individuals who were in peaceful possession of their lands, with legal
titles registered in the registry of property, should cede a part of
them gratuitously to a third party who has not shown any right to the
property; and such third party, for the purpose of giving the
appearance of legality to this iniquitous deprivation realized, obliged
the injured parties through intimidation to sign the document of false
transfer, as well as the minutes of the possession granted to the donee
of the land, which constitutes the proof of the falsity committed,
stamping in the documents drawn the seals of the municipality and
affixing the signatures of the presi- dent and secretary of the same to
give them legal form and in such manner as to readily invite faith in
the authenticity of the aforesaid documents.

He who misrepresents the truth in one of the ways stated in article
300 of the Penal Code commits the crime of falsification. (Judgments of
the Supreme Court of Spain, rendered February 8, 1879, June 9, 1880,
and June 10, 1884.) The liability of the defendants Geronimo Milla,
Agustin Ramos, and Manuel Navarro is manifest and undeniable. At the
instance of the first named and for his benefit the false documents
were extended, as well as the notes which falsely expressed the
cession, which for the purpose of giving the appearance of legality,
the latter two, Agustin Ramos and Manuel Navarro, executed in the
capacity of municipal president and secretary, and affixing the seal of
the municipality of Gerona. It is true that these officials have no
notarial capacity, but it is none the less true that even as private
individuals they drew up the simulated documents in such form that by
their appearance they led one to believe, and especially the ignorant
common people, at first sight that they were authentic and legal
documents of a public character, purporting to be a transfer of

There is no mitigating or aggravating circumstance existing in the
commission of the crime and the defendants have incurred the minimum
degree of the penalty of presidio mayor and a fine as
provided for in article 301 of the Penal Code. It must be stated that
Juan Cardona, one of the defendants, died in prison during the pendency
of this case.

For the reasons above stated, I am of the opinion that the judgment
appealed from should be affirmed, it being understood that Geronimo
Milla, Manuel Navarro and Agustin Ramos are sentenced to the penalty of
eight years and one day of presidio mayor, to pay a fine of
5,000 pesetas each, to the accessories provided for in article 57 of
the Code, and each to pay one-third of the costs in both instances.

As regards Juan Cardona, the case is dismissed with the balance of the costs de oficio.

Date created: April 24, 2014


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