G.R. No. 2208. May 05, 1905

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4 Phil. 549

[ G.R. No. 2208. May 05, 1905 ]

THE UNITED STATES, PLAINTIFF AND APPELLEE, VS. GERMAN RAMIREZ, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.

D E C I S I O N



WILLARD, J.:

The complaint charges the defendant with the robbery of twenty head of cattle, the property of Teodorica Endencia.

That the defendant at the time in question, to wit, November, 1900,
in the Island of Mindoro, took twenty head of cattle from the corral of
the above-mentioned owner, is admitted by him. The only question is
whether that taking was with violence or intimidation.

Sixto Embate was the only eyewitness who testified for the
Government. In his first declaration he said that the defendant and a
large number of other persons came to the corral during the forenoon of
one of the first days of October, 1900; that among them was one Ramon
Perez, who appeared to be the purchaser of the stock; that some time
was spent in selecting stock, and during the first day fifteen head of
cattle were picked out, tied to trees in the corral and left there
until the next day; on the next day the people returned, selected five
more and the twenty were taken by them out of the corral to a distance
of about 600 yards, where they were kept some time. He testifies that
the defendant and the people with him were armed with guns, machetes,
and arrows, and that they intimidated him and compelled him to assist
them with the work. He testifies also that about two o’clock of the
first day he went to the pueblo and notified Eulalio Elumir of the
occurrence. The owner of the property was in Manila at this time and
had left Eulalio Elumir in charge of it. Elumir, however, took no
action until the next day, when he went to the corral, did not find the
cattle there, and discovered them at the spot where they had been
placed about 600 yards from the corral. Elumir says that he asked the
people in charge of them what they were doing with them and that they
threatened to kill him if he interfered. This is all the testimony
there is in the case relating to the subject of violence or
intimidation.

These two witnesses gave their testimony as above stated on the 7th
of October, 1903. The case was continued from time to time and upon the
29th day of March, 1904, Sixto Embate was presented a second time as a
witness for the defendant. He then stated that his first testimony in
regard to the use of violence and intimidation when the cattle were
taken away, was false; that no violence or intimidation was in fact
used, and that he voluntarily assisted in the delivery of the stock. He
stated that he had been instructed by the lawyer for the private
prosecutor, the owner of the property, to testify as he did when he
first appeared as a witness.

On the same day Eulalio Elumir was again presented as a witness for
the defendant and stated that his testimony given in the first part of
the trial was false; that no violence or intimidation was used, and
that he had been instructed to testify as he did by the lawyer for the
private prosecutor. It is shown that after this second appearance of
these witnesses the judge committed them to jail for perjury. On the
30th of March the fiscal stated in court that he had a conversation
with these witnesses while they were in confinement, and that they
wished to testify a third time. Thereupon they were produced in court
and declared that the statements made by them when they appeared the
second time were false and that the statements made by them on their
first appearance were true. After they had thus testified and on the
same day, the judge made an order liberating them from confinement,

Even if there were no other evidence in the case in favor of the
defendant, we would not convict him upon the testimony of these two
witnesses. It would be impossible to know when they told the truth.
There is, however, other evidence which satisfies us that their
testimony given upon their second appearance was a true statement of
what occurred.

Eight witnesses who were present at the time testified that no
force, violence, or intimidation was used. It appears, moreover, that
when the defendant and Ramon Perez went to the corral upon the first
day in question they were accompanied by nearly all the officials of
the pueblo within which the corral was situated. There were present at
the time of the taking: Mateo Malocon, president of the pueblo;
Cornelio Patricio, delegado de justicia; Nazario Nagar, delegado de rentas,
and Pioquinto Dimailig, a clerk in the office of the president. And
according to all the witnesses of the defendant and one witness of the
Government, Mamerto Cabrera, administrador de la hacienda,
was also present. Mindoro was at the time in question under the control
of the revolutionists, and these men were all officials of that
government.

If the defendant is guilty of this robbery, then all these officials
are equally guilty, as well as the other people who accompanied the
defendant. It is difficult to believe that practically all the officers
of the Government would, in the daytime, publicly, assist in taking
away these cattle unless they did it under some claim of right. We hold
that the evidence is insufficient to show the commission of any robbery.

The claim of the defendant is that he bought the property from
Mamerto Cabrera, who was authorized by the owner to sell it; that he
made a contract with Cabrera in the office of the municipal president
for the purchase of the cattle, which contract was reduced to writing
by one of the witnesses who testified at the trial and was signed by
Cabrera and the defendant. Pioquinto, the man who wrote it, testified
that he saw Mamerto Cabrera sign it Joaquin Padino testified that he
signed the document as delegado de justicia’ interino and
that he saw Mamerto sign it. Several other eyewitnesses present
testified to the same thing. This document was introduced in evidence.
Witnesses for the defendant also testified that another document was
signed at the corral evidencing the transfer of the property from
Mamerto Cabrera to the defendant. This document was also introduced in
evidence. It purports to be signed by the local president Mateo Malocon
by the administrador de la hacienda, Mamerto Cabrera, and by the delegado de rentas,
Nazario Nagar. Nazario Nagar was a witness at the trial, for the
Government, and testified that he was present the time the cattle were
taken away. His attention was not called to his signature upon this
document and no attempt was .made by the prosecution to show that he
did not sign it. The president, Mateo Malocon, was a witness for the
Government. He does not know how to read or write. His testimony as to
whether the document was signed by him at that time, as was testified
by some of the witnesses for the defendant, is rather evasive.

Upon this branch of the case the contention of the Government is
that Mamerto Cabrera was not in the Island of Mindoro at this time, but
was in Batangas, and that his signature to both of these documents was
forged. Two witnesses were produced by the Government who testified
that they saw him in Batangas at this time, but their evidence as to
dates is too vague and uncertain to warrant any conclusion to that
effect. They were testifying to something that occurred four years ago
and stated that they left Mindoro about the end of September. The event
in question took place October 5.

A great deal of time was spent in taking testimony upon the question
of these signatures. Other signatures, claimed to be the genuine
signatures of Mamerto Cabrera, were. produced by the Government, but
there is not in the case any signature of his which is admitted by both
parties to be genuine.

If we were to determine this question by the number of witnesses who
testify as to the different signatures we should have to decide that
the signatures to these two documents presented by the defendant were
genuine and the signatures presented by the Government were forged, if,
as was testified to by one expert for the Government, these various
signatures were not made by the same person.

The only evidence as to the genuineness of the documents, at folios
147 and 148, produced by the Government, is that of the grandson of
Mamerto Cabrera, who testified that the signatures were his
grandfather’s. He did not see him make them. Two other witnesses who
did not see the signature made also testified that the signature to the
document on folio 147 was the genuine signature of Cabrera. As to the
letters marked 1, 2, 3, and 4, at folios 192 to 196, only one witness
testified, who said that they were letters which he had received from
Cabrera. As to the document at folio 271, one witness testified that he
saw Cabrera sign it. As to the document at folio 273, this same witness
testifies that that is Cabrera’s signature. On the other hand, five
witnesses, including the defendant, testify that they saw Cabrera sign
the contract of sale introduced in evidence by the defendant, and
several witnesses testify that they saw him sign the paper evidencing
the transfer made at the corral.

But whatever the fact may be as to the genuineness of these
signatures, we do not think that it is at all controlling, for, as we
have said above, there was no evidence in the case to show that the
property was taken by force or intimidation and consequently no
evidence that a robbery was committed. The owner testified that she did
not know Mamerto Cabrera. The defendant, however, produced a letter
proved to have been signed by her, written to Mamerto Cabrera in May of
this same year 1900, which indicates that he had been acting for her in
connection with her property in Mindoro during this year. Whether or
not he was authorized to make any sale of the property as claimed by
the defendant and whether or not any sale was actually made, are
questions which should be ventilated in a civil suit.

There is no evidence in the case sufficient to support a criminal
prosecution for robbery, and the judgment of the court below is
reversed and the defendant acquitted with the costs of both instances de oficio.

Arellano, C, J., Torres, Johnson, and Carson, JJ., concur.






Date created: April 24, 2014




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