G.R. No. 1165. November 21, 1905

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5 Phil. 333

[ G.R. No. 1165. November 21, 1905 ]




On the 1st of December, 1902, Rufino Felipe was accused by the
provincial fiscal of Isabela with having committed the crime of
perjury, in that the said accused testified under oath, in the presence
of two witnesses on the 10th of June previous, that a little before the
28th of May he visited an American soldier deserter, Maurice Sibley, in
the barrio of Lacap, pueblo of Echague, the soldier living in a camarin
of Bernardo Villamil, who supplied him there with food, making the same
statements also before the person who signed the complaint; but in the
case against Villamil for treason, tried in the Court of First
Instance, he testified on the 25th of November of the same year, under
oath, that he knew nothing of the said facts, which testimony favored
the accused Villamil7mdash;an act committed in violation of the law.

The trial having commenced upon the said complaint, the judge, as a
result of the evidence, rendered judgment on the 16th of December of
said year, and sentenced Rufino Felipe to the penalty of one year and
one day imprisonment (prision correccional) and to pay a fine
of 2,625 pesetas, with the accessories, with an allowance of the time
that he was imprisoned awaiting trial, and to suffer, in case of
insolvency, the corresponding subsidiary imprisonment, not to exceed
the third part of the principal penalty imposed, and to pay the costs
in the case.

Article 319 of the Penal Code says:

“He who, in a criminal case, shall give false testimony in favor of the accused shall be punished with the penalties of arresto mayor in its maximum degree to prision correccional
in its medium degree, and a fine of from three hundred and seventy-five
to three thousand seven hundred and fifty pesetas, if the cause were
for a crime, and with that of arresto mayor if it were for a misdemeanor.”

The case does not present sufficient proof that Felipe, in
testifying that he did not know Villamil, had succored or had given
shelter and food to the deserter Maurice Sibley, contradicting the
previous statement made before the justice of the peace of Echague and
confirmed before the provincial fiscal, had the intention of favoring
Bernardo Villamil in the case against him for treason.

It was proved that the accused Felipe had been arrested and that
before testifying in the justice’s court he had been maltreated and
threatened by a sergeant of Constabulary, Domingo Danoy. The latter,
while present in court, exercised coercion with respect to the witness,
telling Felipe, while testifying, that he must answer the questions as
he had been instructed—that is, against the accused in that proceeding,
Bernardo Villamil. This statement, given against his will, was
confirmed before the provincial fiscal, but in court he contradicted
it, alleging that he had been subjected to maltreatment, threats, and
coercion, which fact was proved by the testimony of witnesses present
at the time.

It is undeniable that the first statements of the accused are
inadmissible and illegal, and that he told the truth when testifying
before the Court of First Instance in the cause for treason, where he
insisted on stating as final in that case, that Villamil was not
guilty. Therefore we are forced to believe that accused, as a witness
in the said cause, told the truth in his final statement before the
judge of the Court of First Instance.

If the accused told the truth in declaring that he knew nothing of
the acts imputed to Villamil, it is not possible to find that he was
guilty of perjury in making that statement, for the reason that he did
not contradict his testimony before the justice of the peace. In order
to convict one for false testimony given to favor the accused it is
necessary that he should have given the testimony intentionally,
swearing to that which is not true.

The qualification of the testimony of a witness depends upon the
terms of his declaration, the purpose and the wrongful intention in
making the false statement, without reference to the importance of his
testimony in favor of the accused. (Decisions of the Supreme Court of
Spain of January 4 and February 14, 1877, relative to the application
of the article of the Penal Code above quoted.)

For the foregoing reasons, and in conformity with the recommendation
of the Solicitor-General, we declare that the sentence appealed from
should be reversed, and the accused acquitted with the costs de oficio.
Let the case be remanded to the court from which it came with a
certified copy of this decision and of the judgment to be entered in
accordance herewith. So ordered.

Arellano, C.J., Mapa, Johnson, Carson, and Willard, JJ., concur.

Date created: April 28, 2014


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