by John Lloyd Macunat

US v. LAZARO JAVIER ET AL., GR No. 12990, 1918-01-21

Facts:

fastened his carabao valued at P150 in his corral

On the following morning when he went to look after the animal, he found the gate to... the corral open and that the carabao had disappeared.

He reported the matter to the Constabulary, and a patrol of the Constabulary under the leadership of sergeant Presa... now deceased... encountered the accused... leading a carabao

When the ladrones saw the Constabulary, they scattered in all directions.

On the following day, the Constabulary found this carabao tied in front of the house of one Pedro Monterola... he carabao was identified by Doroteo Natividad as the one which had been taken from his corral

Th... foregoing statement of the facts and the law disposes of all but one assignment of error, namely, that the lower court erred in admitting Exhibit B of the prosecution as evidence. Exhibit B is the sworn statement of sergeant Presa, now deceased, whose signature was... identified,... Appellant's argument is predicated on the provision of the Philippine Bill of Rights which says, "That in all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the right... to... meet the witnesses face to face,"... hat it "intends to secure the accused in the right to be tried, so far as facts provable by witnesses are... concerned, by only such witnesses as meet him face to face at the trial, who give their testimony in his presence, and give to the accused an opportunity of cross-examination.

Issues:

t is for us now to determine whether the present facts entitle the accused to the protection... of the Bill of Rights or whether the facts fall under some exception thereto

Ruling:

The sworn statement of Presa was not made by question I and answer under circumstances which gave the defense an opportunity to cross-examine the witness. The proviso of the Code of Criminal Procedure as to confrontation is therefore inapplicable.

Presa's statement again is... not the testimony of a witness deceased, given in a former action between the same parties relating to the same matter

Consequently, the exception provided by section 298, No. 8) of the Code of Civil Procedure and relied upon by the prosecution in the lower court is also... inapplicable. Nor is the statement of Presa a dying declaration or a deposition in a former trial or shown to be a part of the preliminary examination.

Although we are faced with the alternative of being unable to utilize the statements of the witness now deceased, yet if there... has been no opportunity for cross-examination and the case is not one coming within " one of the exceptions, the mere... necessity alone of accepting the statement will not suffice. In fine, Exhibit B was improperly received in evidence in the lower court.

With such a resolution of this question, we could, as has been done in other cases, further find this to be reversible error and remand the case for a new trial. We are convinced, however, that this would gain the accused nothing except delay for the testimony of the owner of... the carabao and of the two Constabulary soldiers, rebutted by no reasonable evidence on behalf of the accused, is deemed sufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Principles: