G.R. No. 1276. July 26, 1905

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4 Phil. 597

[ G.R. No. 1276. July 26, 1905 ]




In a written complaint filed on the 7th day of March, 1902, the
defendants in this case, Candelaria de los Angeles, Norberto Cajucom,
Cecilio Marquez, et al., were charged by the provincial fiscal of the
Province of Nueva Ecija with the crime of falsification of a will, in
that on or about the 4th day of March, 1901, in the town of Cabanatuan,
Nueva Ecija, they drew up an open will purporting to have been executed
by one Petra Mariano and signed by Norberto Cajucom at her request and
by Mariano de Castro, Isaac Cunanan, Esteban Hilario, Pablo Mauricio,
and Francisco de Guzman, as attesting witnesses. This will was
presented to the Court of First Instauce of the province, and, after
all legal formalities had been complied with, it was admitted to
probate. In order to obtain this the witnesses falsely swore that the
said will was authentic and that the testatrix had died three days
after its execution—that is to say, in the month of March, 1901—when,
as a matter of fact, she died on the 28th of July, 1900; all contrary
to the statute in such cases made and provided. The trial having been
begun against the defendants, with the exception of Francisco de
Guzman, as to whom a separate trial was had, the court after hearing
the evidence adduced during the trial entered judgment convicting
defendants Candelaria de los Angeles, Norberto Cajucom, Mariano Castro,
Isaac Cunanan, Esteban Hilario, and Pablo Mauricio of the crime of
falsifying a will to the prejudice of a third party, and sentenced each
of them to one year’s imprisonment at hard labor, and further convicted
the other defendant, Cecilio Marquez, of having knowingly presented a
false will in a judicial proceeding, although he did not take part in
the falsification thereof, and sentenced him to six months’
imprisonment at hard labor. From this judgment and sentence the
defendants Candelaria de los Angeles, Norberto Cajucom, and Cecilio
Marquez appealed to this court, the provincial fiscal having withdrawn
the appeal taken by him from the said judgment.

It appears from the evidence in this case that on the 27th of July,
1900, Petra Mariano, a resident of Cabanatuan, while ill in her house,
executed a written will in Tagalog in the presence of Norberto Cajucom,
Mariano Castro, Francisco de Guzman, Pablo Mauricio, Esteban Hilario,
Estanislao Ferrer, Agustin Garcia, Bernabe de Guzman, and Domingo
Cuevas, and being herself unable to sign, requested Carlos Fernandez to
do so for her. It appears that the testatrix died on the 28th day of
the same month and was buried on the following day.

On the 25th of May, 1901, Cecilio Marquez y Castro, a resident of
the town of Cabanatuan, in behalf of his wife, Candelaria de los
Angeles, presented to the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija a will
claimed to have been executed by Petra Mariano on the 4th day of March,
1901, in the Tagalog dialect (the original of which appears on page 27
of the record and the translation thereof on page 29) for registration,
and it was allowed by the court on the 4th day of November following
(record, page 31), in view of the sworn statements of the witnesses who
signed the will in question. In the petition presented to the court it
was stated that the testatrix had died three days after the execution
of the will, to wit, on the 7th day of March, 1901.

Of the seven defendants who were convicted and sentenced in the
court below, Mariano Castro, Isaac Cunanan, Esteban Hilario, and Pablo
Mauricio did not appeal. This decision, therefore, assuming that the
crime was actually committed, will only deal with the question as to
whether or not the appellants Candelaria de los Angeles, Norberto
Cajucom, and Cecilio Marquez are guilty.

There is no doubt that the document now registered in the office of the clerk of the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, ex officio
notary public, and which purports to be the will of Petra Mariano, is
absolutely false, it appearing therein that it was executed on the 4th
day of March, 1901, when as a matter of fact the alleged testatrix had
died some seven months before and had been buried in the cemetery of
Cabanatuan on the 29th of July, 1900.

Mariano Castro, Esteban Hilario, Pablo Mauricio, Francisco de
Guzman, and Isaac Cunanan, the alleged attesting witnesses to the said
will, testified that they were present at the house of the testatrix on
the 4th day of March and witnessed the execution of said will, which
required a whole day, Norberto Cajucom having signed at the request of
the testatrix. These witnesses identified the will shown to them at the
time of the trial as well as the signatures appearing therein.

It is a fact, however, that on the 4th day of March, 1901, the
alleged testatrix, Petra Mariano had been dead for more than seven
months. It is evident therefore, that in this fictitious will the
defendants made it appear that the person who for more than seven
months had been dead and buried, had taken part therein, thereby
reciting in the said instrument facts which had never occurred and
which were absolutely false. (Articles 300 and 301, Penal Code.)

Norberto Cajucom, who appears as a witness in the alleged will, and
who signed it at the request of the testatrix, pleaded “not guilty,”
and although he was not examined in the proceedings for the
registration of the will, yet his participation in the crime in
question is manifest, for the reason that he personally took part
therein, thus assisting in giving this false will the appearance of
authenticity. (Article 301 of the Penal Code.) The five attesting
witnesses who testified in these proceedings unanimously stated that
Cajucom signed at the bottom of the alleged will, with a note to the
effect that he did so at the request of the testatrix and in the
presence of the other witnesses, and as the deceased Petra Mariano
could not have made any such request for the reason that she had been
dead for several months prior thereto, it is clear that the defendant
Cajucom is guilty of having made a false statement. In its judgment of
the 7th of February, 1887, the supreme court of Spain, in applying
certain articles of the Penal Code to the crime of falsification, held
upon appeal that the fact that a judge of the Court of First Instance
had duly authorized the execution of a will alleged to have been left
by the deceased was the execution of a public instrument, in which said
execution the parties who appeared before him cooperated either as
witnesses or as instigators or as accomplices, and in thus
participating in the execution of such public instrument they
misrepresented the facts by claiming that the deceased had taken part
in an act as to which they certified, when, as a matter of fact, the
deceased never did, and they further perverted the truth in the
narration of the facts. This would bring their case within the
provisions of article 315 of the Penal Code (article 301, Philippine
Code) and not within article 318, which corresponds with article 304 of
the Philippine Code, as claimed by the appellant, for the reason that
had they not intervened this public instrument would never have
existed. In another judgment of the 18th of June, of the same year,
also applicable to the case at bar, it was held that witnesses who make
false statements in order to have same recorded in a public instrument,
a verbal will, or a will evidenced by a private document, before a
competent authority, are guilty of the crime defined in article 315 in
connection with article 314 of the Spanish Penal Code, which
corresponds with articles 300 and 301 of the Penal Code of the
Philippine Islands.

Without the material assistance of the defendant, Norberto Cajucom,
who pretended to have signed the alleged will, this document never
would have been converted into a public document as a result of its
registration, under and by virtue of a judicial order.

There is no evidence in this case to show that the defendant Cecilio
Marquez took part in the commission of the crime as a principal; he did
not take any active part in the preparation of the will, nor did he
cooperate therein nor induce the other defendants to do so, but merely
presented this fictitious will to the Court of First Instance in behalf
of one Candelaria de los Angeles, but had no more interest in the
registration of the document than his wife did. He is therefore guilty
as an accessory after the fact under article 302 of the Penal Code, he
having presented the said will to the Court of First Instance for
registration with the intention of gain and knowing that the document
presented by him was a fictitious one. He knew the date on which the
alleged testatrix died, and he should have known that it was impossible
for her to have executed the same on the 4th of March, 1901, for the
reason that she had been dead for more than seven months previous to
that date.

As to Candelaria de los Angeles, although she appears to be the only
heir in the two wills marked Exhibits “A” and “B,” there is not
satisfactory evidence to sustain the conviction as to her; there being
reasonable doubt as to her guilt, she has a presumption of innocence in
her favor and is therefore entitled to acquittal since it has been
shown that she took no part in the execution of the crime nor that she
had induced other defendants to commit the same. The mere fact that the
defendant was the only one who had a greater interest in the estate of
her deceased aunt is not sufficient to convict her, and it does not
appear from the record that she participated in any way in the
commission of this crime.

The defendant Candelaria de los Angeles is an ignorant woman of very
limited education; she had in her possession a will which could have
been probated under the law; she sought, in good faith, the assistance
of others whom she believed competent to take the necessary steps and
protect her rights under the law.

If the persons whose assistance she secured were ignorant people, or
committed a crime in attempting to have the said will (marked Exhibit
“A”) prepared and registered, she can not be held personally for the
crime committed by friends without her knowledge or consent. The only
person injured on account of the falsification in question was the said
Candelaria de los Angeles, and we can hardly understand how, there
being in existence an authentic will, which could be properly probated,
they should draw up another of the same tenor with a different date,
thus committing a crime to her prejudice.

If, under the first authentic will, as well as under the fictitious
will, this defendant appears to be the only heir, the testatrix having
explained in the first will why she did not appoint her brother Juan,
the complaining witness in this case, as her heir, but merely left a
legacy to him, it is difficult to understand why they did not present
the first will for probate, but prepared instead a fictitious one,
which, by the way, was,not any more favorable to her.

The explanation for this may perhaps be found in the petitions
presented by the appellants, but the facts therein stated have not been
investigated and there is no proof of their correctness.

There should be taken into consideration two extenuating
circumstances, without any aggravating circumstance. The defendants
Norberto Cajucom and Cecilio Marquez, being natives of little
education, ignorant of the laws of procedure and judicial proceedings,
these facts should be considered in their favor under the provisions of
article 11 of the Penal Code.

As to the other extenuating circumstance, it will be noticed that
these defendants having been informed of the contents of the first will
of the deceased, Petra Mariano, and of the appointment of the sole heir
and the four legatees, the defendant Cajucom signed the second will
under the impression that it was merely a copy of the original will and
that no one would be prejudiced thereby. The defendant, Marquez,
presented the will to the court and asked that it be admitted to
probate, acting under the same impression without being fully aware of
the nature and consequences of his acts.

The false impression that induced these defendants, Cajucom to
subscribe, and Marquez to present the literal copy of the original
will, notwithstanding the difference in the dates of execution, could
be considered as one of the general extenuating circumstances,
authorized by the Penal Code as being of the same nature as that
provided for in paragraph 3, article 9 of the Penal Code. These two
circumstances should be taken into consideration in order to apply the
penalty immediately inferior to that provided for the crime in article
81, paragraph 5 of the Penal Code.

For the reasons heretofore stated, we are of the opinion that the
defendant Norberto Cajucom should be sentenced to six months and one
day presidio correccional, and pay a fine of 500 pesetas, and
in case of insolvency, subsidiary imprisonment in accordance with law;
and that the defendant Cecilio Marquez be sentenced to pay a fine of
1,000 pesetas, and in case of insolvency, to suffer the corresponding
subsidiary imprisonment, which shall not exceed one month, with
one-seventh part of the costs of first instance and one third of the
costs of this appeal; and the defendant Candelaria de los Angeles is
hereby acquitted, with her share of the costs de oficio.

Thus modified, the judgment of the court below is affirmed with regard to the three appellants.

Let the cause be returned to the court below with a certified copy
of this decision and of the judgment to be entered in accordance
herewith for its execution. So ordered.

Arellano, C. J., Mapa, Johnson, and Carson, JJ., concur.
Willard, J., did not sit in this case.

Date created: April 25, 2014


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