Add TAGS to your cases to easily locate them or to build your SYLLABUS.
Please SIGN IN to use this feature.
Highlight text as FACTS, ISSUES, RULING, PRINCIPLES to generate case DIGESTS and REVIEWERS.
Please LOGIN use this feature.
Show printable version with highlights

[ GR No. 6354, Mar 28, 1911 ]



19 Phil. 233

[ G.R. No. 6354, March 28, 1911 ]




The defendants were convicted in the  Court of First Instance of the Province of  Tarlac, Hon. Julio  Llorente  presiding, of the crime of calumny, and each sentenced to five months' arresto mayor, to pay a fine of 625 pesetas, with the corresponding subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency and to each pay one-half of the costs.  They appealed, and now insist that the trial court erred:
  1. In permitting the trial to proceed upon the complaint of the provincial fiscal;

  2. In finding that the proof s presented established the guilt of the defendants of the crime of calumny beyond a reasonable doubt; and,

  3. In applying the provisions of paragraph 1, article 454, of the Penal  Code.
From the record it appears that Trinidad 6. Cruz, single, 22 years of age, and the defendants, who are husband and wife, were, during  the months of May and June, 1909, traveling merchants or peddlers.  The defendants desiring to go to the town  of San Juan de Guimba for the purpose of selling their goods it was agreed that Trinidad stay over night at their house to take care  of the children and to look after certain effects which deposited in said house.  In pursuance of this agreement, the defendants left on May 29, leaving Trinidad in charge of their house,  where  she remained until  early the following morning when she left for Manila before the defendants' return.  The  defendants, on examining their trunk some two days later, found that a certain diamond ring was missing.  On making this  discovery they called on Emilia Lumutan, cousin of the offended party, and said that Trinidad had taken the ring.  Emilia caused her cousin,  who was still in Manila, to be notified of this charge.  Trinidad returned  home and the two  defendants on June 22 went to the house where she  was living and accused her, in the presence of three witnesses, of having taken the said ring.  She protested against this accusation, declaring that she  was innocent of such a charge, and went before the justice of the peace on the 24th of that month and filed a criminal complaint  against her  accusers,  charging them with the crime of injurias.  An investigation followed and the defendants were held to answer to  this charge in the Court of First Instance.   A new complaint was filed in the Court  of First Instance by the provincial  fiscal, charging' the defendants with the crime  of calumny.   This new complaint was not signed by the offended party.  The fiscal conducted the prosecution the same as in other cases.

Counsel for the defendants insists that calumny being a private crime can only be prosecuted  on the complaint of the offended party, except  in those cases wherein  special provision is otherwise made, and in support of this proposition cites paragraph 2, article 467 of the Penal Code, which reads as follows:
"No one shall be punished for calumny or contumely unless on complaint of the offended party, except when the offense is directed against the  public authority, corporations, or determined classes in the State, and in the cases prescribed in Chapter V of Title III of this book."
Under the Penal Code this contention of counsel  appears to be well founded, as the case under consideration does not come within the  exceptions.

The first section of Act No. 1773, passed October 11, 1907, provides:
"Hereafter the crimes of adulterio, estupro,  rapto, violacion, calumnia, and injuria, as  defined by the Penal Code of the Philippine Islands, shall be deemed to be public crimes and shall be prosecuted in the same manner as are all other crimes defined  by said Penal Code or by the Acts of the Philippine Commission: Provided,  however,  That no prosecution for the  crimes of adulterio, estupro,  or injuria committed  against persons other  than  public  officials or employees shall be instituted except upon the complaint of the  aggrieved person  or of the prents, grandparents, or guardian of such person."
The crimes mentioned in the foregoing section are now public offenses and are prosecuted in  the same manner as are all other public offenses,  except  prosecutions for the crimes of adulterio and estupro; and for the crime of injuria, when this, latter crime is not committed against public officials or employees, can only be instituted upon the complaint of the aggrieved person,  or the parents, grandparents, or guardian of such person.  No such provision was made with reference to rapto, violacion, and, calumnia. These were made public offenses  without any restrictions  as to the manner in which they should be instituted.  Calumny is now a public crime and can be prosecuted upon the complaint of the provincial fiscal, while injuria can only be prosecuted upon the complaint of the offended party, when such offended party is not a public official or employee.  It was the  intention  of  the legislative body that  these two  crimes be treated  in this manner and the will of the Legislature, as clearly expressed in the above section, is now the law of the land.

The next question to be determined is whether or not the crime which the defendants accused the  offended party of having committed is "grave" or "less grave."

Articles 6, 25, 452,  and 454 of the Penal Code are as follows:
"Art.  6. Crimes are considered  'grave' which  the  law punishes by  penalties  which in any  of  their degrees are corporal.

"Crimes  are considered 'less grave' which the law represses  by  penalties which  in  their maximum degree are correccional."

"Art. 25. The penalties which may be imposed according to this code, and their  different classes, are those included in the following general scale:

"Corporal penalties. - Death; cadena perpetua; reclusion perpetua; relegacion perpetua; perpetual  expulsion; cadena temporal; reclusion  temporal; relegacton temporal; temporary explusion; presidio mayor; prision mayor; confinamiento;  *  *   *

"Correctional penalties. - Presidio correccional;  prision correccional;  *  *  *  arresto mayor."

"Art. 452. Calumny is the false imputation of a crime of those subject to prosecution at the instance of the Government (de oficio)."

"Art.  454. When the calumny is not made public and put into writing it shall be punished:

"1. With the penalties of arresto mayor in its maximum degree and a fine of from 625 to 6,250 pesetas if a grave crime be charged.

"2. With that  of arresto mayor in its  minimum degree and a fine of from 325 to 3,250 pesetas if a less grave crime be charged."
It is alleged in the complaint that the defendants did maliciously and falsely, with a view to dishonoring or holding up to contempt, Trinidad B. Cruz, charge her with the crime of robbery.  According to articles 6 and 25, above quoted, robbery,  as alleged  in the complaint, is a "grave" crime.

While  it is alleged in the complaint that the accused charged the offended party with the crime of robbery, the proofs do not support  this allegation.   According to the testimony of the offended party  herself, the  defendants charged  her  with having taken the ring.  They did not charge her with having taken the ring by employing force. The defendants in their testimony state that on examining their trunk they found that  the ring was missing.   This testimony is  uncontradicted and shows that no force was used in obtaining possession of the ring.   From the  whole history of the case it clearly  appears that the defendants did knowingly and  maliciously charge the  offended  party with having stolen the ring, and not with  having obtained it  by force.  So  the  real crime  imputed  to the offended party was that of larceny and not robbery.  The value of the ring  is not known, but under the provisions of articles 517 and  518  of the Penal Code the highest penalty  which can be imposed for the crime of larceny is correccional. The crime  imputed to the offended party  being less grave, under the provisions of the Code above quoted, the penalty set out in paragraph 2 of said article 454 must be applied.

The judgment appealed from  is, therefore, reversed and each of the defendants is hereby sentenced to one month and one day arresto mayor, to pay a fine of 325 pesetas, to suffer the corresponding subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to each pay  one-half  of the costs.  So ordered.

Arellano, C. J., Mapa, Carson, and Moreland, JJ., concur.