G.R. No. 1465. November 17, 1905

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5 Phil. 319

[ G.R. No. 1465. November 17, 1905 ]




The judgment of the trial court in this case rests upon a finding
that a certain document described in the record as Exhibit No, 3 is a
genuine instrument, and that it is what it purports to be—a receipt
executed by one Maximo Madrilejos at Azagara, in the Philippine
Islands, on the 1st day of March, 1875.

After the case had come to this court on appeal and upon motion for
the introduction of newly discovered evidence, the United States
consular representative at Barcelona, Spain, was appointed a
commissioner to take evidence touching the date of manufacture of the
paper upon which the alleged receipt is written. In pursuance of this
authority the commissioner examined one Joaquin Samurac, manager of the
paper factory known as “La Hispana Americana,” whose sworn answers to
the interrogatories propounded by the plaintiff and defendant are a
part of the record in this case.

It appears from the evidence of this witness that the paper in
question was not manufactured until long after the 1st day of March,
1875, the date on which it is alleged the receipt was executed. The
water marks of the paper on which it is written, which may be seen by
holding the document to the light, consist of a crown, together with
the words “Papel Catalan” and the letters “F. D. E.,” and
these marks were and are used exclusively by the paper factory of which
the witness is manager. This factory did not begin to manufacture
Catalan paper of any kind for some time after the year 1875 and did not
use the above-described mark until the year 1880, and its first
shipment of this class of paper to the Philippines was made to Tuason
& Co., of Manila, on the 28th day of May, 1881.

At the trial of the case there was evidence introduced which tended
to prove that the paper on which the alleged receipt is written had
been treated with chemicals to give it an appearance of age; that the
signature of Maximo Madrilejos thereto attached is a skillful forgery;
and that the alleged transfer of property evidenced by the alleged
receipt never had any existence in fact; and this evidence, together
with the newly discovered evidence introduced on appeal, establishes
the fraudulent character of the instrument in question, beyond a
reasonable doubt.

The learned judge of the court below did not have before him the
evidence as to the date of the manufacture of the paper and found that
the document in question was a genuine instrument; but that he did so
reluctantly and that he was forcibly impressed with the weight of the
evidence and argument of counsel to the contrary is clear from his
remarks in denying a motion for a new trial, from which we quote as

“The paper, although it was presented under
suspicious circumstances, was testified to by one of the subscribing
witnesses as a genuine paper. He testified to his having signed it at
about the time of its date, and his seeing the other parties sign it.
All the other circumstances about the signing of it were drawn out on
cross-examination, the place and time, etc., and those that were
present, and the witness Silvestre was not particularly shaken by cross
examination. Anacleta herself also testified to the execution of the
paper, so that there was the testimony of two witnesses to its
execution, and there was testimony introduced which tended to show that
the signature of Maximo upon the paper was a genuine signature, and
made by his hand. The paper had substantially the same appearance that
it now has, maybe a little more worn at the present time. The
defendant, Anacleta, testified that it had been kept by her in her
trunk so that it had been removed from the light all the years since it
had been executed.”

“Now, finding the paper to be a forgery
involved finding all that testimony to be false. If the paper was a
forgery, Silvestre testified to a deliberate falsehood, and one that
was made up for him by some one. If the paper was a forgery Anacleta
testified also falsely, and was guilty no doubt as a participant in the
making up of the paper itself. Finding that the paper was false and a
forgery would involve’ finding quite necessarily that the testimony
that referred to the handwriting of Maximo upon the paper must have
been false, or very greatly mistaken, if the signature was riot his
genuine signature. The inconsistencies that were pointed out in the
argument if the paper was genuine I can not tell so much about because
I do not know so well the habits and the business characteristics of
the people here. The conduct of Anacleta subsequent to the time she
said she paid this money to Maximo was absolutely inconsistent to
educated people, but I can not tell, and no one can tell, how
inconsistent it would be with people of their class and the people of
their understanding. The claims that she made at the time of the
commencement of this suit, when she filed this paper that was said to
be a demurrer, she could not be so much responsible for as her lawyer
or legal adviser, and how full an explanation of her case she gave to
him or how full a one he required could not appear, and my experience
has been that very frequently the best lawyers who speak Spanish are
entirely misled by what their clients tell them and make a claim that
is inconsistent with the claim that really their clients wanted to put
before the court. I could reconcile the evidence that was given by
these witnesses upon the basis that these inconsistencies took place,
because all these inconsistent things that were pointed out in the
argument might still have taken place and it have been true that that
paper was made in 1875, when it purported to have been made. On the
contrary, finding the other way would have involved the forgery and
combination that I have mentioned. I felt the force of the
circumstances that Mr. Ney has spoken of in his argument, and
considered them. I considered also the rule that is usual in the
construction of testimony, that it is the duty of the court to
reconcile it upon the theory that men are innocent of crime, if it can
be consistently done, and think in this case it could reasonably be
done, and while I was not completely satisfied that my finding was not
wrong, I thought upon all the testimony, with that rule of
construction, that it was my duty to find as I did. In my meditation
about the circumstances the very impressions that Mr. Ney has spoken
of, about the effect of a false paper of that kind being successful in
court, were taken into consideration, and on the contrary it was
considered how it would be if the paper supported by the evidence of
all the witnesses who saw it made was rejected upon some claim of
inconsistency. This had to be taken into consideration. I attempted to
balance all the things and did balance them, according to my best
judgment and capacity. It resulted in finding that the paper was
genuine, and the paper being genuine Mr. Ney does not now contend that
the main finding was not right. Now I am extremely conscious that I am
liable to be mistaken. I am entirely willing that my judgment should be
reviewed, and be reviewed by an authority that stands above me
altogether, and I think that under the matter as it now rests the
motion will have to be overruled.”

The right of the defendants to the possession and control of the
property mentioned in the complaint can not be sustained and the
plaintiff administrator is clearly entitled to an order putting him in
possession thereof and to the further relief prayed for in his

The judgment appealed from should be reversed and the cause sent
back to the trial court, wherein judgment will be rendered in
accordance herewith, and such necessary orders entered as may be proper
to secure an accounting and distribution of the property under
administration, as prayed in the complaint, together with such other
relief as may be just and proper.

After twenty days judgment will be entered in accordance herewith,
with the costs of both instances against the defendants, and the cause
remanded to the court wherein it originated. So ordered.

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

Date created: April 28, 2014


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