G.R. No. L-6312. September 09, 1954

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95 Phil. 770

[ G.R. No. L-6312. September 09, 1954 ]



REYES, J.B.L., J.:

Francisco Deriada, Antonio Giron, Jose Parreno and William Chapman
were convicted by the Court of First Instance of Samar of the crime of
libel. Deriada was sentenced to pay a fine of P500; and his co-accused,
including appellant Chapman, were fined P200 each. All four were
ordered to suffer subsidiary imprisonment in ease of insolvency and to
pay the costs proportionately.

The appeal of Chapman was originally docketed in the Court of
Appeals; but as the only error assigned was the trial Court’s refusal
to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction, the Court of Appeals
certified the case to this court.

1 The facts are as follows: The four accused were officers and
directors of the Leyte Rifle and Pistol Association Inc., a Philippine non-stock corporation domiciled in Tacloban, Leyte. Deriada was the
president; Parreno being the Secretary, Giron the Acting Treasurer, and
Chapman the Range Officer. The offended party, Gregorio A. Conde, was
the Vice-President; and he and Deriada had been formerly associated in
the business of selling firearms. On October 21, 1948, Conde separated
from Deriada in order to serve as branch Manager of the Philippine
Trading Co., a competing firm, and relations between the two gradually
became strained. On November 20, 1948, a special meeting of the Board
of Directors of the Leyte Rifle & Pistol Association Inc., was
held, attended by the four accused, and the following resolution was

“On motion presented by Director W. D. Chapman and
seconded by Director-Treasurer Antonio Giron, the following resolution
was unanimously approved;


‘Whereas, this governing- body of the Leyte Rifle
& Pistol ASSOCIATION, Inc., now assembled found sufficient
documentary proofs against Mr. Gregorio A. Conde for having used the
name of the association without proper authority to collect monies from
the members which up to the moment of this assembly said Mr. Gregorio
A. Conde intentionally fail to account for the collections as claimed
by members in writing;

Whereas, the good name and integrity
of the Leyte Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc., is at stake and will
be ruined and exposed to mockery and contempt by all members and the

‘Be It Resolved, therefore, as we hereby resolve that
the President of the Association be given our sanction to take up the
matter with the Provincial Fiscal for proper action, and that said Mr.
Gregorio A. Conde be temporarily suspended as Vice-President and
Manager pending the result of any action taken by the Provincial
Fiscal; Be It Resolved Further that copies of this resolution be sent
to the Chief, Philippine Constabulary, Camp Crame Quezon City, to the
Provincial Commander, PC, at Tacloban, Leyte and to the press for

‘Unanimously approved’.

I hereby
certify that the foregoing is true and correct, and the above quoted
resolution has been duly acted upon and approved unanimously by the
members of the Board of Directors, who were present.

Acting Secretary

Attested By:

          (Sgd.) FRANCISCO B. DERIADA

Concurrently Confirmed By:

          (Sgd.) ANTONIO G. GIRON
                        Acting Treasurer

          (Sgd.) W. D. CHAPMAN
                        Range Officer

(Pages 4-5, Annex “A”, Appelants’ brief).

Mimeographed copies of the resolution were sent to all the members
of the Association residing in Leyte; to one Pedro Mancebo, residing in
Catbalogan, Samar, also a member; to the Philippine Constabulary
authorities in Tacloban and Quezon City; and to the Philippine Trading
Co., (the principal of complainant Gregorio A. Conde) in Manila. No
copies were released to the press.

Based on the foregoing events, this case for libel was filed and
prosecuted in the Court of First Instance of Catbalogan, Samar, with
appellant Chapman being accorded trial separately from his co-accused.
In its decision, the trial court stated:

* * * * * * *

But can the publication made of Exhibit ‘A’ be
considered a private communication made by any person to another in the
performance of any legal, moral or social duty? The publication of
Exhibit ‘A’ by furnishing the members with the mimeograph copies
thereof falls under this exemption of the law as it should be
considered done in the performance of a legal duty. (A communication
made in good faith upon any subject matter in which the party making
the communication has an interest or concerning which he has a duty is
privileged if made to a person having a corresponding interest or duty,
although it contains incriminatory or derogatory matter which without
the privilege would be libelous and actionable (U. S. vs. Canete, 38
Phil., 253). The communication to Pedro Mancebo of Gatbalogan, Samar
should fall under the same qualified privilege, inasmuch as Mancebo is
a member of the Leyte Rifle and Pistol Association, Inc.

the publication by sending copies of Exhibit ‘A’ to the Headquarters of
the Philippine Constabulary at Manila, the Provincial Commander of the
Constabulary at Tacloban, the Manager of the Philippine Trading Co., at
Manila in performance of legal, moral or social duty that it may be
considered a qualified privilege? Our answer is in the negative. The
defense did not prove that it was any legal, moral or social duty on
the part of the accused.”

Consequently, the Court convicted the accused as aforesaid,
declaring the resolution to be libelous and without justifiable
motives; wherefore the accused Chapman interposed the present appeal.

The issue now before us is whether the Court of First Instance of
Samar had jurisdiction to convict appellant Chapman of the crime of
libel, considering the facts shown in evidence and appearing in the
decision appealed from. The question must be answered in the negative.

In People vs. Borja, 43 Phil., 618, this Court ruled that a criminal
prosecution for libel may be instituted in any jurisdiction where the
libelous article was published or circulated, irrespective of where it
was written or printed. Since there is no question that the libelous
resolution was adopted and copies thereof mimeographed in Leyte, and
not in Samar; and since the only copy sent to Pedro Mancebo in Samar
was expressly found and declared by the appealed decision to be
privileged, because Mancebo was a member of the Rifle and Pistol
Association, Inc. and was interested in its affairs; and there being no
finding of any other publication in the Province of Samar, the
resolution, allegedly libelous, was neither published nor circulated in
said province and the Court of First Instance there had no jurisdiction
to take cognizance of the crime alleged in the information. In effect,
as pointed out by the appellant and concurred in by the Solicitor
General, the decision appealed from has convicted the appellant for a
crime of libel committed either in the City of Manila or in the
municipality of Tacloban, Leyte. That the Court of Samar had no
jurisdiction to take cognizance of a crime committed in other
jurisdictions, but not in its own, needs no stressing.

The decision appealed from is reversed and the case ordered dismissed, because of the lack of jurisdiction. Costs de oficio.

Paras, C.J., Pablo, Bengzon, Padilla, Montemayor, Reyes, A., Jugo, Bautista Angelo and Concepcion JJ., concur.

Date created: July 26, 2017


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