[ G. R. No. 45129, July 27, 1937 ]
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF AND APPELLEE, VS. ANACLETO FOLLANTES AND EUGENIO JACINTO, DEFENDANTS. ANACLETO FOLLANTES, APPELLANT.
D E C I S I O N
By reason of his appeal, the appellant assigns four alleged errors claimed by him to have been committed by the court a quo in its judgment in question, which errors may be reduced to the sole proposition that the facts proven during the trial do not Establish his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
The prosecution attempted to prove that in the morning of October 16, 1935, Julian Manauis and his son Victor went to a forest in the sitio named Dalena-Tugtug, municipality of Echague, Isabela, within the lumber concession of the Echague Lumber Co., to cut timber. While father and son were felling a tree called cariwat, they were surprised by Anacleto Follantes and Eugenio Jacinto who were accompanied by the boy Julian Pinto. Follantes told them1 to stop cutting the tree because the land on which it stood formed part of the lumber concession of the Echague Lumber Co. of which he was the encargado. Julian Manauis begged Follantes to allow him and his son to continue cutting the tree so that their labor would not be in vain and they kept cutting it. In view of such attitude, Follantes told Julian Manauis and his son that if they did not heed his warning they wouldsome day pay for it, leaving immediately with his companions. Julian Manauis and his son Victor succeeded in cutting and felling the tree but did not finish cleaning it and they decided to return on the following day, October 17, 1935. As the tree was big they could not finish their work and in the afternoon of said date Julian Manauis told his son Victor that he would return alone to the forest on the following day to finish cutting the tree to pieces. Early the following morning, October 18,1935, and before Julian Manauis left for the forest, he told his son Victor to attend the novena, of his deceased grandfather Agustin Escano, and that he himself would try to return before the prayers began or after dinner. As Julian failed to return by noon, Victor became uneasy but he waited until the afternoon to see whether his father would arrive. After having waited in vain, Victor went to the place where they had felled the tree, arriving there at about 9 o'clock in the evening. By means of a lantern he began to search for his father and found his lifeless body lying on the ground near the tree felled by them, with the head completely severed from the body and a few paces away. He noticed several wounds on the body and the axe, which had been used in cutting the tree, lying nearby. He also saw his father's shirt, hat and bolo hanging from the branch of a tree. Without touching anything, Victor hurriedly returned to the barrio and notified the barrio liutenantof what he had seen. Said barrio, lieutenant, in turn, advised the justice of the peace thereof. Early in the morning of October 19, 1935, Lieutenant Benjamin Molina of the Constabulary, upon being advised by a policeman that the body of a dead person had been found in the sitio of Datena-Tugtug, he called upon the justice of the peace and the chief of police and, accompanied by constabulary soldiers and two policemen, they immediately went to said place and found the body of Julian Manauis as it had been discovered by his son Victor in the morning of October 18th of said year. About three meters from the body they found the basket Exhibit B, containing tobacco and lime; the shirt of the deceased hanging from a branch of the fallen tree, and the axe lying on the ground near the log. After the body had been removed and brought to the municipal building by order of the justice of the peace, it was examined by Dr. Guillermo Blanco, who found the following wounds (Exhibit A):
"(a) An incised mortal wound 14 inches long and 1 inch wide on the right cheek, extending from the comissure of the mouth, along the inferior maxillary bone upwards to the right temporal bone, cutting the principal vessels of the region in addition to the above-stated bones, with a depth reaching to the cavity of the mouth; (b) an incised mortal wound 4 inches long, 2 inches deep and 1 inch wide in the left precordial region under the nipple, extending transversally, cutting the left 4th rib in two and piercing the principal vessels of said region; (c) an incised mortal wound extending longitudinally from above the navel to the sternum on the same level as the xiphoid process, causing the opening of the abdominal and part of the thoracic cavity and freely exposing the visceral organs of which the small and large intestines were cut; (d) an incised mortal wound 12 inches long, 2 inches wide and 3 inches deep in the lumbar region, extending transversely and cutting the vertebral column.
"It is likewise stated that at the time of the autopsy of the body, the head was found to be completely severed from the body, the neck being the point of severance. It was also found that the right hand was completely severed from the corresponding arm, the wrist being the point of severance."
In the meantime, the constabulary conducted a search for the persons who might have been the authors of the hideous crime and to that effect it organized two patrols, one led by Lieutenant Molina and the other by Sergeant Villanueva, the latter bringing with him the basket Exhibit B. Said sergeant arrested Eugenio Jacinto in the hut of the latter who told him that the basket in question belonged to Anacleto Follantes. Questioned about the crime, Eugenio Jacinto denied participation in the commission thereof and pointed to one Agonos who, according to him, lived in the town of Santiago. The sergeant took Eugenio Jacinto to said town in search of Agonos but they failed to find him. Jacinto admitted later that Agonos was a fictitious person and that he was the only one responsible for the death of Julian Manauis. He was then taken to the Constabulary barracks in Echague where he was questioned by Lieutenant Molina. Lieutenant Molina later took Jacinto to the justice of the peace who, in turn, investigated him and put in writing his statement reiterating, among other things, that he was the only one who had killed Julian Manauis. In view of this confession, a complaint was filed against Eugenio Jacinto in the justice of the peace court, charging him with the crime of murder. Subsequently, while he was still in confinement and upon being questioned further by Lieutenant Piccio, who had relieved Lieutenant Molina as such in said province, the accused Eugenio Jacinto partly repudiated his former confession and implicated Anacleto Follantes. A new complaint was then filed before the justice of the peace charging Eugenio Jacinto, Anacleto Follantes and Julian Pinto with the crime of murder. The accused waived their right to a preliminary investigation and the case was forwarded to the Court of First Instance. The provincial fiscal filed the corresponding information charging Eugenio Jacinto and Anacleto Follantes with the crime of murder and asked for the dismissal of the case against Julian Pinto for lack of evidence. Upon arraignment, the accused Eugenio Jacinto pleaded guilty and was sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of from six years and one day of prision mayor to twelve years and one day of reclusion temporal, with the accessory penalties of the law, to indemnify the heirs of the deceased in the sum of P1,000, and to pay one-third of the costs of the trial. The accused Anacleto Follantes pleaded not guilty and the court proceeded with the trial of the case against him.
In view of the plea of guilty entered by the accused Eugenio Jacinto and hi& former statement implicating Anacleto Follantes, the provincial fiscal used him as a witness for the prosecution. Eugenio Jacinto testified that sometime before and up to the date of the crime, he was in the employ of Anacleto Follantes as lumberman and carrier and lived in a hut belonging to said Follanites; that in the morning of Wednesday, October 16, 1935, he, Anacleto Follantes and Julian Pinto went to the sitio of Dalena-Tugtug to visit the timber within the lumber concession of the Echague Lumber Co. of which the appellant was the caretaker (encargado); that there they found Julian Manauis and his son Victor cutting a tree called cariwat; that upon seeing them, Follantes said: "You cannot continue cutting timber because this is within the concession of the Echague Lumber Co. of which I am the caretaker (encargado)"; that Julian Manauis answered saying: "Compadre, please allow us to cut it because it would be a pity to waste all our work"; that Follantes replied: "If you continue to do so, you will later suffer for ft"; that after this dialogue, and as it was already 9 o'clock in the morning of said day, Anacleto Follantes and his companions left and the deceased and his son continued to work until nightfallwhen they succeeded in felling the tree which they were cutting; that on the following day, Thursday, October 17, 1935, Anacleto Follantes and Eugenio Jacinto went together to deliver lumber to the Echague Lumber Co.; that on the succeeding day, Friday, October 18, 1935, Follantes and Jacinto returned to Dalena-Tugtug and on the way Follantes told Jacinto that he intended to kill Julian Manauis; that upon arriving at Dalena-Tugtug they found Julian Manauis alone cleaning the tree which he and his son Victor had cut and felled on October 16, 1935; that upon seeing him, Follantes went to him and said to him: "I told you to stop and you did not stop"; that Julian Manauis answered: "We have continued, compadre, because it would be a pity to waste all our work"; that Follantes replied: "That can not be and, leaving Jacinto who was by his side and in front of Manauis, he went behind Manauis, stealthily unsheathed his bolo which hung from his belt, and said: "I told you to stop that work and you have not stopped"; that upon hearing this, the deceased stopped cleaning the tree and, facing Follantes, said: "Please, compadre, we are' just going to finish it, it would be a pity to waste all our work"; that at this juncture Follantes inflicted the first blow with his bolo on the back of Manauis who fell to the ground in a sitting position; that while Manauis was in this position with his hands raised to ward off another blow, Follantes struck him with his bolo for the second time, hitting him on the wrist of the right hand, severing it completely; that Follantes then pushed Manauis, who fell to the ground, and said to his companion: "Help me"; that upon hearing this, Jacinto struck Manauis with his bolo, Exhibit E, which he carried in his left hand, inflicting a diagonal wound in the sternum of the deceased; that Follantes immediately struck Manauis on the neck, completely severing his head which rolled to the ground, and causing his death; that Follantes later picked up the head, placed it, at first, with the face towards the right but, on second thought, he made it face towards the opposite side and gave it the last blow on the right cheek, cutting it from the ear to the mouth; that Jacinto and Follantes later went to the river to wash their bolos, leaving, in their haste, the basket Exhibit B, with its contents Exhibits C and D, consisting of tobacco and lime, all belonging to the appellant; that the appellant hid his bolo in a toolbox in his hut; that the reason why he (Jacinto) had testified that he was the only one responsible for the death of Julian Manauis was because Follantes told him not to reveal what had happened to anybody and that if he alone assumed all the responsibility without implicating Follantes, the latter would provide him with an attorney to defend him and give him P50 besides.
Anacleto Follantes denied everything that the witnesses for the prosecution had testified against him and attempted to prove that from the morning of October 16, 1935, until the afternoon of the following day, he was in Echague where he had gone to deliver, as in fact he delivered, lumber to the Echague Lumber Co.; that at about 11 o'clock in the morning of said date, October 16, 1935, he had a business transaction with the public school supervisor, Vicente Mesa, concerning the delivery of the lumber specified in the requisition voucher Exhibit 1; that on the following day Follantes also had a transaction with Silvestre Pintang to supply lumber to the Echague Lumber Co.; that in the afternoon of October 17, 1935, he returned to his house in Garit; that early in the morning of the following day, October 18, 1935, the appellant, accompanied by his wife and child left for the town of Santiago for the purpose of visiting some relatives; that they crossed the river in their own banca at the ford at Suyong, Echague; that from said place they took a bus of the Rural Transit for Santiago; that upon arriving at the barrio of Calao, they went to the house of a niece of his whom they found quarreling with her husband; that as they could not reconcile the spouses, he (Follantes), his niece and her father went to the office of the chief of police of Santiago to ask for his intervention; that as they were told that said officer was in his house they went there, but said chief of police told them to see him again at his office in the afternoon which they did; that on that same day he and his family went to the house of his mother-in-law; that while in Santiago, he met Sergeant Villanueva, accompanied by a soldier and Eugenio Jacinto, looking for one Agonos; that he was then informed that a man had been killed in Dalena-Tugtug; that he left Santiago on October 21, 1935; that on October 22, 1935, while he was in his hut in Dalena-Tugtug, Sergeant Villanueva arrived telling him that he was under arrest because Eugenio Jacinto had implicated him in the commission of the crime; that he informed Sergeant Villanueva that he had nothing to do with the death of Julian Manauis, and that he reiterated his statement when he was investigated at the Constabulary barracks in Echague.
In rebuttal, the prosecution attempted to prove that on October 20 or 21, 1935, Lieutenant Benjamin Molina investigated at the barracks Jose Walat, who was the boatman at the ford, and the latter said that he did not remember having seen Follantes in the vicinity of the ford;
that while Follantes was detained at the Constabulary barracks, one Feliciano Castro went to see Attorney Macario Guevara to inform him that Follantes needed his services ; that said attorney went to the barracks and conferred with Follantes who told him that he needed his
services for himself and for Eugenio Jacinto; that Follantes asked him how much he would charge for his services and Guevara answered that he had to pay him P400, to which Follantes agreed; that when Guevara told Eugenio Jacinto that Follantes had contracted his services for
them both, Jacinto told him that he had no objection; that Guevara then filed his appearance as well as his clients' waiver of their right to a preliminary investigation; that Eugenio Gaffud, who knew Follantes because he was Gaffud's subagent in the cutting and sale of logs in
the latter's lumber concession, testified that Follantes used to carry a basket similar to Exhibit B; that at about 12.30 o'clock in the afternoon of October 18, 1935, while Gaffud was on his way home from the office of the municipal secretary of Echague, he saw Follantes
accompanied by Eugenio Jacinto and Julian Pinto near the fence of the Constabulary barracks; that Follantes and his companions were on their way to the poblacion from the Echague Lumber Co.; that upon seeing them, Gaffud greeted them saying: "So you are here,
pare"; that Follantes did not go to Santiago in the morning of October 18, 1935, inasmuch as he and Jacinto went to the forest at about 7 o'clock in the morning of said day; that Eugenio Jacinto was not in the habit of chewing tobacco and that the basket Exhibit B did
not belong to him but to Follantes; that when Follantes and his family boarded a truck for Santiago in front of the municipal building, he told Jacinto not to say anything of what had happened; that Eugenio Jacinto had not been reprimanded by Follantes and that he did not know
what e ukulele was nor how to play it or any other instrument; that it was not true that Jacinto and Follantes made deliveries of lumber to the Echague Lumber Co. in the morning of October 16, 1935, because they went to the forest; that the transaction which Follantes had with
Vicente Mesa took place at about 5.40 o'clock in the afternoon of said day.
There are, therefore, two series of evidence, one for the prosecution and another for the defense, each contradicting the other. The evidence for the prosecution consists principally in the testimony of Eugenio Jacinto, confessed coparticipant in the commission of the crime and, as such, his testimony should be considered with the greatest caution and care. At the beginning Eugenio Jacinto admitted being the only one responsible for the death of Julian Manauis, but later on, while he was confined in the Constabulary barracks, upon being urged by the constabulary soldiers therein to tell the truth, he implicated the appellant Follantes, for which reason the latter was included in the information as his co-accused. During the trial, Eugenio Jacinto, testifying as a witness for the prosecution, stated that at first he assumed full responsibility for the killing of Julian Manauis because Follantes had cautioned him not to reveal to anybody what had happened between the appellant and the deceased and that if Jacinto did not implicate him he would furnish him with an attorney to defend him and would give him 1N50 besides. This testimony of Eugenio Jacinto is partly corroborated by said Attorney Macario Guevara, who had been contracted by Follantes to defend him and Jacinto. Eugenio Jaciuto's testimony relative to his going to the forest together with Anacleto Follantes and Julian Pinto in the morning of October 16, 1935, and the warning given by Follantes to the deceased that if he continued to cut the tree he would have to suffer for it, is likewise corroborated by that of Victor Manauis, son of the deceased. Therefore, the fact (that Eugenio Jacinto is a coparticipant in the commission of the crime does not render his testimony incredible nor inadmissible inasmuch as he has been corroborated in material points thereof. Furthermore, when Jacinto testified as & witness for the prosecution, he had already been convicted of the crime with which he had been charged and of which he had pleaded guilty. Consequently, he could no longer expect to be discharged nor be treated with leniency. It does not appear that he has been made any promise in the sense of shortening his term of imprisonment and of rendering it less arduous so that, stifling the voice of his conscience, he would implicate an innocent person. It has been insinuated that the spirit of vengeance was their motive that had induced Jacinto to testify against his former employer in whose house he was living, the motive of suchvengeance being made to consist in the alleged fact that he had been severely reprimanded by Follantes for selling lumber and bartering it for guitars, and that he was not provided with an attorney to defend him after Attorney Guevara's withdrawal from the case. In addition of having been categorically denied by Eugenio Jacinto, such facts are not in themselves sufficient for a witness to implicate his former employer in so serious a crime with so grave consequences, if the latter were really innocent.
The defense of alibi presented by Anacleto Follantes loses its force and value if it were taken into consideration that his alleged going to Echague in the morning of October 16, 1935, to make delivery of lumber to the Echague Lumber Co. is rebutted by the testimony of Eugenio Jacinto and Victor Manauis to the effect that in the morning in question said Follantes went with Eugenio Jacinto and Julian Pinto to the sitio of Dalena-Tugtug where the deceased and his son Victor were cutting a tree called cariwat, and by that of the superintendent of public schools, Vicente Mesa, that his conversation with Follantes took place at 5.40 o'clock in the afternoon and not at 11 o'clock in the morning of October 16, 1935, as stated by the appellant. The defense of alibi to the effect that early in the morning of October 18, 1935, Anacleto Follantes left for Santiago with his wife and child, crossing the river in his own banca, is likewise disproved by the testimony of Eugenio Jacinto that in that morning he and Follantes were in the sitio of Dalena-Tugtug where the crime was committed. But even if it were true that Anacleto Follantes went to Santiago with his family on said day, having been seen in said town at about noon, his presence there is not incompatible with his presence in Dalena-Tugtug in the morning of the same day, inasmuch as he could have left for Santiago with his family after he and Jacinto had washed their bolos in the river and returned to his hut in Garit.
As to the motive of the crime, it is not venturesome to believe that the insistent, though entreating, refusal of the deceased to heed the warning given him by Follantes that if he continued to cut the tree something would happen to him, offended the latter's dignity as caretaker (encargado) of that part of the lumber concession and he was exasperated when, in the morning of the crime, he saw that Julian Manauis had carried out his disobedience as a challenge to his authority.
Taking into account all the facts of the case, this court is convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the accusedappellant Anacleto Follantes was one of the principal authors, if not the principal author, of the murder of Julian Manauis.
Wherefore, with the sole modification that the penalty of imprisonment imposed upon the accused-appellant be denominated reclusion perpetua instead of cadena perpetua, the appealed judgment is affirmed in all other respects, with the costs to the appellant. So ordered.
Avancena, C. J., Abad Santos, Imperial, Diaz, Laurel, and Concepcion, JJ., concur.
RESOLUTION ON MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL
September 24, 1937
This k a motion filed by the accused-appellant Anacleto Follantes, praying for a new trial of his case on the ground of newly discovered evidence material and essential to his defense, which, in spite of due diligence, had not been discovered by him prior to the trial of said case in the lower court, the newly discovered evidence in question consisting in the recantation of Eugenio Jacinto, his co-accused therein, who testified at the trial as a witness for the prosecution.
Eugenio Jacinto's recantation made on October 19, 1936, that is, seven and a half months from the date the judgment of conviction against the accused-appellant Anacleto Follantes was rendered, consists in a sworn statement in the Ilocano dialect and translated into English (Exhibits A and B), made in the City of Manila before notary public Modesto R. Ramolete, which briefly states as follows:
"In the morning of October 18, 1935, while I was alone in the sitio of Dalena-Tugtug, Echague, Isabela, gathering buri shoots for our food, I found the deceased Julian Manama cutting a log. Upon seeing him, 1 told him to stop cutting the log. He answered me saying: 'Get out of here, you have nothing to do with this.' I then told him that I had something to do with the log he was cutting, but as he did not heed me, I told him: 'You do not heed me because I am only a boy.' He then answered: 'Get out of here, "Uki ni inam", you have nothing to do with this,' and forthwith threw a piece of wood at me, which I was able to evade. Faced with such situation, I unsheathed my bolo and wanted to fight with him, but seeing that I was no match for him because he was bigger, I ran away. As I had a grudge against the deceased by reason of said incident, I returned to where he was and, approaching him stealthily from behind without his seeing me, I struck him on his right side with my bolo. He fell to the ground in a sitting position and tried to defend himself with his hands. Then, with my bolo I again struck his hand, his stomach, his neck and, lastly, his face. At noon on the following Sunday, Sergeant Villanueva of the Constabulary and two soldiers arrested me in Garit and took me to Santiago to see Anacleto Follantes. They later brought me to their barracks in Echague where I confessed that I was the author of the death of Julian Manauis. I was later investigated by the justice of the peace of Echague to whom I likewise stated that I had killed Julian Manauis. There afterwards transferred me to the Constabulary barracks in Ilagan where the sergeant who investigated me told me to implicate Anacleto Follantes in the crime. When I refused, they struck me with the butt of a gun, boxed me in the face, slapped and kicked me, and inserted a fine wire into the canal of my genital organ four times. As I could not endure so much torture, I acceded to their desire and upon being brought before the court in Ilagan, I testified that it was Anacleto Follantes and I who killed' Julian Manauis and that Follantes was the principal author. They likewise forced me to testify that the basket found at the scene of the crime belonged to Follantes and, although it was mine, I had to say that it belonged to Follantes because the constabulary soldiers told me that it would be worse for me if I did not so state. Eugenio Gaffud nether met Follantes, Pinto and me in front of the Constabulary barracks at noon on October 18th, after the commission of the crime, nor spoke to us on that occasion, as he testified. We met him only the day before, October 17th, at said place when we were on our way to a restaurant in the poblarion of Echague, coming from Garit. At noon on October 18, 1935, I was in our barrio and Follantes went to Santiago with his wife and Pinto. Victor Manauis did not see Follantes, Pinto and me in the morning of October 16, 1935, because on that day we went to deliver lumber to the Echague Lumber Co. The log which the deceased was hewing had been cut and felled by Pinto and me in the month of August last. I did not complain later of the maltreatment I had received from the constabulary soldiers because the latter threatened to shoot me and they promised me my freedom if I testified as witness for the prosecution. They also gave me leather shoes, two military shirts, two undershirts and money first in the sum of P5 and later P3, all of which were deposited in the storeroom of the Bilibid Prisons where they may be seen for verification. The warden of the provincial jail at Ilagan also threatened me saying that if I did not incriminate Follantes he would poison me while in jail. I make this recantation to relieve my conscience of a burden for having falsely implicated Follantes."
In the first sworn statement (Exhibits 3 and 3-A) made on October 21, 1935, before the justice of the peace of Echague, Isabela, Eugenio Jacinto briefly stated that after he had taken his breakfast on Friday, October 18, 1935, he left his house and went to the forest; that upon his arrival there he heard somebody hewing timber; that upon reaching the place where the noise came from, he saw a person who was unknown to him and asked him: "Why are you hewing timber?"; that said person, who turned out to be the deceased Julian Manauis, answered him saying: "Who are you to trouble and bother me?"; that Jacinto then said to him: "Why did you not ask permission from the owner of the timber? Are you the owner of this timber?"; that said unknown person again answered him saying: "You better go home, uki ni inam, and do not come to bother me" and later picked up a piece of wood with which he attempted to strike Jacinto but the latter was able to parry it with his hand; that Jacinto thereupon unsheathed his bolo and they fought but Jacinto had to run away because he was afraid he would lose in the fight, his opponent being bigger than he; that said person continued to hew the timber; that Jacinto was hurt by what had happened to him and he decided to take revenge; that he, in fact, returned to where Julian Manauis was working and, approaching him stealthily from behind with his bolo in his right hand, he struck Manauis on the back, felling him to the ground in a sitting position; that he later gave him other two blows, one landing on the right hand and cutting it, and the other severing the left hand; that while the deceased sat helpless, Jacinto cut off his head; that Jacinto later struck him on the stomach and on the waist and afterwards slashed him twice on the face; that the log which the deceased was hewing had been cut by Jacinto and Follantes, the herein appellant; that the constabulary soldiers spoke kindly to him and nether maltreated him nor made him any promise so that he might declare what he had just declared; that the basket, Exhibit B, and the contents thereof, Exhibits G and D, were his.
Eugenio Jacinto's testimony given at the trial by him as a witness for the prosecution, during the direct examination as well as during the rebuttal, which he now recants, is briefly as follows; That he was working as lumberman in the employ of the appellant Anacleto Follantes; that in the morning of Wednesday, October 16, 1935, he, the appellant Anacleto Follantes and one Julian Pinto went to the sitio of Dalena-Tugtug to visit the timber within the concession of the Echague Lumber Co. of which said appellant was the encargado (caretaker); that there they found; the deceased Julian Manauis and his son Victor, who were cutting a tree called cariwat; that upon seeing them, Follantes told them: "You cannot continue cutting timber because this is within the concession of the Etehague Lumber Co. of which I am the encargado (caretaker)"; that the deceased then pleaded to him saying: "Compadre, please allow us to cut it because it would be a pity to waste all our work"; that Follantes replied: "If you continue to do so, you will later suffer for it"; that at about 9 o'clock in the morning of said day, Follantes and his companions left the place and the deceased and his son continued their work until nightfall when they finally succeeded in felling the tree which they were cutting; that on the following day, Thursday, October 17, 1935, he and Follantes went to the Echague Lumber Co. to deliver lumber; that in the following morning, Friday, October 18, 1935, he and Follantes returned to Dalena-Tugtug and on the way Follantes told Jacinto that he intended to kill Julian Manauis; that upon arriving at said place they found Julian Manauis alone hewing the trunk of the tree which he and his son Victor were felling on the 16th, and Follantes approached the deceased saying: "I told you to stop and you did not stop"; that Julian Manauis answered him saying: "We have continued, compadre, because it would be a pity to waste all our work"; that the appellant replied saying: "That cannot be," and leaving Jacinto who was by his side and facing the deceased, he went behind the latter, stealthily unsheathed his bolo which hung from his belt and said: "I told you to stop that work and you have not stopped"; that upon hearing this, the deceased stopped hewing the trunk and, facing Follantes, said: "Please, compadre, we are just going to finish it, it would be a pity to waste all our work," and again turned his back towards the appellant to resume his work; that at that instant the appellant inflicted the first blow with his bolo on Manauis' back, felling him to the ground in a sitting position; that while Manauis was1 in this position with both hands raised to ward off another blow, the appellant gave him another blow with his bolo, hitting him on the wrist of the right hand, severing it completely; that the deceased then fell to the ground, pushed by the appellant, who said to his companion Jacinto: "Help me"; that upon hearing this, Jacinto struck Manauis with his bolo, Exhibit E, which he carried in his left hand, inflicting a diagonal wound in the sternum of the deceased; that Follantes forthwith struck Manauis on the neck, completely severing his head which rolled to the ground, and causing his death; that the appellant then picked up the head, placed it, at first, with the face towards the right but, on second thought he made it face towards the opposite side and afterwards gave it the last blow on the right cheek, cutting it from the ear to the mouth; that Jacinto and Follantes later went to the river to wash their bolos; that on the way Follantes warned Jacinto not to tell anybody what had happened; that in their haste they forgot the basket Exhibit B, with its contents Exhibits C and D, all belonging to the appellant; that the appellant hid his bolo in a toolbox in his hut; that Jacinto was arrested by three constabulary soldiers and brought to a private house in the poblacionof Santiago to look for one Agonos who, according to him, was the one responsible for the crime, but who turned out to be a fictitious person; that he was later taken to the .barracks at Echague where he was confined for three days; that from there he was brought before the justice of the peace of Echague to whom he confessed that he was the only one responsible for the crime; that he made this confession because Follantes had told him at the barracks in Echague not tp reveal what had happened to anybody and that if he assumed all responsibility Follantes would provide him with an attorney to defend him and give him T50 besides; that his said statement (Exhibit 3), however, was not true; that Jacinto was later taken to jail in Echague where he was confined for three days; that Jacinto furthermore stated that it was not true that he had a grudge against the appellant because the latter had reprimanded him upon catching him selling lumber or bartering it for guitars, as he never sold lumber nor bartered it for guitars; that he struck the deceased with his bolo because Follantes ha4 threatened to kill him if he did not do so; that he did not ask the appellant to provide him with an attorney, nor did said appellant reprimand him telling him to suffer the consequences; that the deceased did not insult him when he caught the former cutting timber.
In rebuttal, Eugenio Jacinto testified that on October 18, 1935, Follantes told him to return with him to the forest to see whether the deceased and his son kept cutting the tree; that the appellant then carried his bolo and the basket Exhibit B; that after committing the crime in question he and the appellant returned to the tatter's house in Garit and from there they left at about noon for Echague together with the appellant's wife and Julian Pinto, riding in a banco, belonging to Follantes; that they disembarked in front of the Echague Lumber Co. because Follantes' wife had to ask for money of the company; that from there they went to the provincial road; that on their way to Echague, they left Follantes' wife in the house of one Argonza, the three proceeding to the poblacion; that while they were in front of the constabulary barracks, they met Eugenio Gaffud; that later, they went in search of an autobus which the appellant boarded to pick up his wife from Argonza's house, which was on the route of the autobus to Santiago, and both spouses continued their journey to said town; that Jacinto returned to Garit alone on foot, ahead of Pinto, who, together with one Mateo Castro, returned in the banca used by them, arriving at Garit at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon; that before they separated Follantes said to Jacinto: "Do not say anything;" that Follantes returned to Garit with his wife by truck on the following Monday; that all that Follantes testified about him was untrue; that he does not chew buyo, and that the basket Exhibit B was seen by him in the possession of the appellant since he went to live with the latter.
The witness Victor Manauis, son of the deceased Julian Manauis, testifying as witness for the prosecution, briefly stated as follows: That on October 16, 1935, he and his father Julian Manauis went to the sitio of Dalena-Tugtug, within the concession of the Echague Lumber Co., to cut timber; that they did not know that they were within the concession of the company in question and they began to cut a tree; that thereupon Anacleto Follantes, Eugenio Jacinto and Julian Pinto arrived and Follantes said to them: "You cannot continue cutting timber because this is within the concession of the Echague Lumber Co. of. which I am the encargado (caretaker)"; that Julian Manauis answered saying: "Compadre, please allow us to cut it because it would be a pity to waste all our work"; that Follantes replied: "If you continue to do so, you will later suffer for it"; that Follantes and his companions left after said conversation; that Julian Manauis and his son continued their' work until they succeeded in felling the tree; that in the morning of October 18, 1935, the deceased Julian Manauis told the members of his family to go ahead to the house of a deceased relative to attend the funeral novena because he was first going to the forest in the sitio of Dalena-Tugtug to hew the tree felled by him and his son Victor two days before, that is, on the 16th, and that he would follow them and be with them before the prayers began or before dinner time; that as Julian failed to show up at the novena, his son Victor went that same afternoon to the forest where his father had gone and, upon arriving at the place where they had cut the tree, at about 9 o'clock at night, he saw with the aid of a lantern his father's dismembered body with the head severed and about two meters away, a hand completely cut off and separated, and several mortal wounds in the body; that his shirt, hat and sheathed bob were hanging from the branch of a tree, and the ax with which he was hewing the log lay beside the latter. Without touching anything, Victor Manauis ran to the barrio and informed the barrio lieutenant Andres Palayog of his discovery. Andres Palayog advised the justice of the peace thereof and the authorities later went to the scene of the crime.
In rebuttal, Eugenio Gaffud testified as follows: That as he was the grantee of the forest concession at Adaoam, Jones, Isabela, he had appointed the appellant as his subagent to cut lumber therein; that on said occasion he used to see the appellant in said concession with a basket similar to Exhibit B, which is usually carried by lumbermen for their matches, buyo and tobacco; that on October 18, 1935, Gaffud, who was the municipal secretary of Echague, on his way home from his office at about 12.30 o'clock in the afternoon, saw the appellant with Jacinto and Pinto near the gate of the fence of the constabulary barracks, on their way to the poblacion from the Echague Lumber Co. which is about 500 meters away from said barracks; that upon seeing them, Gaffud greeted them saying: "So you are here, pare"; that he remembers said date well because on the following day a party was to be held on the occasion of his nephew's marriage.
Attorney Macario Guevara also testified in rebuttal that in the month of October, 1935, while he was in the municipality of Santiago to attend to a case of his, he was informed by one Feliciano Castro that the appellant was under arrest and needed him; that in the constabulary barracks in Echague, the appellant told him that he wished to contract his professional services for himself and for Eugenio Jacinto; that they agreed that he would be paid f*400 as fees; that Guevara later saw Jacinto to inform him of said agreement and Jacinto told him that he had no objection and was glad to be represented by Guevara; that in view thereof, Guevara entered his appearance (Exhibit F) in the justice of the peace court; that with the consent of the accused, he filed a pleading waiving the preliminary investigation (Exhibit G); that subsequently, however, about February 10, 1936, the appellant told him that he had no money and became indifferent to him, whereupon Guevara withdrew his appearance and thereafter ceased to be the appellant's attorney; that be received nothing on account of his fees.
Regarding the value of a recantation by a witness who has testified at the trial of a criminal case, American Jurisprudence has established the following rule, which is stated in 16 Corpus Juris, 1188, section 2715 (g):
"* * * But recantation by witnesses called on behalf of the prosecution does not necessarily entitle defendant to a new trial. The question whether a new trial shall be granted on this ground depends on all the circumstances of the case, including the testimony of the witnesses submitted on the motion for the new trial. Moreover, recanting testimony is exceedingly unreliable, and it is the duty of the court to deny a new trial where it is not satisfied that such testimony is true. Especially is this true where the recantation involves a confession of perjury. And a fortiori, under the rule that a new trial will not be granted on account of newly discovered evidence which tends merely to impeach the witnesses for the prosecution, the falsity of testimony given on the trial cannot, as a rule, be established by proof of statements, made by the witness out of court, at variance with his testimony on the trial, whether such statements were made prior to the trial or thereafter. * * *"
It appears that Eugenio Jacinto made three statements under oath on three different dates: the first, in the form of an affidavit,' when he was arrested a few days after the discovery of the crime, confessing that he was the only author of the death of Julian Manauis; the second, during the trial, implicating Anacleto Follantes as the principal author of the crime, and alleging that his only participation therein was that of having helped the appellant, by order of the latter, as workman under him; and the third, also in the form of an affidavit and is the ground of the present motion for a new trial, made seven and a half months after the judgment of conviction against Anacleto Follantes had been rendered, wherein he repudiates his testimony given during the trial and reaffirms his statement in his first affidavit to the effect that he alone was the author of the death of Julian Manauis. In the affidavit attached to the motion for a new trial Eugenio Jacinto states that his testimony given during the trial of the case, accusing Anacleto Follantes of having been the principal author of the crime, was due to the fact that while he was confined in the constabulary barracks in Ilagan, Isabela, after he had already confessed that he was the only author of said crime, the sergeant who investigated him told him to implicate Anacleto Follantes and, as he refused to do so at first, said sergeant hit him with the butt of his gun, boxed him on the face, slapped him, kicked him and inserted a fine wire in his urethra four times, thereby compelling him, by reason of the unbearable torture, to accede to his desire, after which he was brought before the justice of the peace of Ilagan in whose presence he stated that it was Anacleto Follantes and he who killed Julian Manauis, the former being the principal author of the crime; that they likewise forced him to declare that the basket found at the scene of the crime belonged to Follantes. This witness, upon making his first statement under oath before the justice of the peace of Echague, Isabela, and upon being asked by said judicial officer whether he had been maltreated or he had been given any promise in order to make him confess that he was the author of the crime, or whether he had any complaint to make against Lieutenant Molina or any of his soldiers, answered in the negative and said that they spoke kindly to him and that he had no complaint against the constabulary soldiers. It should be noted that Eugenio Jacinto did not confess his guilt upon being arrested. At the beginning he imputed the commission of the crime to one Agonos, who turned out to be a fictitious., person, and it was only after he had been confined for three days in the constabulary barracks in Echague that he voluntarily confessed that he alone was responsible for the crime. If the constabulary soldiers did not employ ether force or torture to obtain from Eugenio Jacinto his own confession of guilt, it is unbelievable that they had to resort to said means to compel him to impute the commission of the crime to his employer and to testify against him, it not having been proven that said constabulary soldiers had any motive to implicate Anacleto Follantes. It was after Eiugenio Jacinto had pleaded guilty and when he was already under the jurisdiction of the court, shielded from all maltreatment or vexation which he might receive from the constabulary soldiers, that he testified against Anacleto Follantes. He no longer had anything to fear froam the alleged threats of torture and poisoning. His conscience, which reproached and compelled him to confess his crime, could not have permitted him to commit an injustice by implicating an innocent person and making him a coparticipant in the commission of a crime which he repented, had not Follantes really been his coparticipant. Repentance for having committed a crime and calumny are two psychic acts so repugnant to one another that they cannot dwell together in the heart. Repentance is moral compunction felt for an act reproved by the conscience and calumny is a challenge to it. If an individual ever appears to approve on one hand what he reproves on the other hand, he does so not because he is dictated thus by his conscience but because a moral force, which subjugates his said conscience, compels him to do so. By his recantation Eugenio Jacinto would have us believe that his conscience was subjugated and overwhelmed from the time the constabulary soldiers tortured him in order to compel, him to implicate Anacleto Follantes and did not regain his freedom and independence until seven and a half months after the judgment of conviction had been rendered against the appellant, notwithstanding the fact that he was beyond the influence of his alleged tormentors from the time the action was brought against him and Anacleto Follantes, which is psychologically absurd.
Eugenio Jacinto would also make us believe that one of the means of torture employed by the constabulary soldiers to compel him to implicate Follantes was the introduction of a fine wire four times into his urethra. The simple mention of this means of torture proves its falsity because had a fine wire been introduced four times into Jacinto's urinary tract, it would have produced some lesion which would have been infected upon the passage of the urine, thereby causing inflammation.
Aside from the intrinsic and psychological falsity of Eugenio Jacinto's recantation, there is the testimony of Victor Manauis, son of Julian Manauis, who was with the deceased on the morning of October 16, 1935, in the sitio of Dalena-Tugtug, felling a tree when Anacleto Follantes and Eugenio Jacinto arrived, Follantes telling them to desist from cutting the tree otherwise something bad would happen to them, thereby corroborating the testimony given by Etugenio Jacinto himself on this point during the trial. There is also the testimony of Attorney Macario Guevara corroborating that of Eugenio Jacinto to the effect that while Jacinto and Follantes were on their way to the river to wash their bolos after killing Julian Manauis, Follantes told Jacinto not to say anything to anybody and that if Jacinto pleaded guilty, Follantes would provide him with an attorney and furthermore give him P50, it being true that Follantes had sent for said attorney and told him that he desired to contract his professional services for him and Eugenio Jacinto. There is likewise the testimony of Eugenio Gaffud in rebuttal corroborating that of Eugenio Jacinto during the trial that the basket found at the scene of the crime was similar to the1 one usually carried by Anacleto Follantes when the latter used to meet him as his subagent to cut trees in Adaoam. Inasmuch as some material parts of Eugenio Jacinto's testimony are corroborated, such as his going to Dalena-Tugtug together with Anacleto Follantes, the threat made by Follantes to Julian Manauis that something serious would happen to him if he did not desist from cutting the tree on October 16, 1935, the appellant's warning to Eugenio Jacinto not to tell anything to anybody and his promise to provide Eugenio Jacinto with his defense, there is no reason to disbelieve the rest of his testimony that it was Anacleto Follantes who had hacked Julian Manauis to death with his bolo, and his mere extrajudicial recantation is insufficient to discredit his testimony given in open court. Furthermore, the manner in which Eugenio Jacinto, according to his. recantation, fought with the deceased is improbable on the ground that if he was afraid to fight with said deceased because the latter was stronger than he, he would have sought the help of his employer Anacleto Follantes. On the other hand, if Julian Manauis was disposed to fight with him and was the first to attack him, he (Julian Manauis) would have been on. the alert and would not have permitted said Eugenio Jacinto to approach him stealthily from behind in order to attack him treacherously as he so did.
In view of the foregoing considerations, this court is of the opinion and so holds that Eugenio Jacinto's recantation is insufficient to destroy his testimony, which is corroborated on material points and given in open court, and therefore the motion for new trial filed by the accusedappellant Anacleto Follantes is denied. So ordered.
Abad Santos, Imperial, Diaz, Laurel, and Concepcion, JJ., concur.
AVENCENA, C. J.,
I vote for the granting of the motion for new trial.
The only evidence presented in this case on the guilt of the appellant is the testimony of the witness Eugenio Jacinfco. The latter, prior to the trial, declared in an affidavit that he alone killed the deceased. However, when he was presented as a witness at the trial, he testified that it was he and the appellant who caused the death of the deceased. Now this same witness recants his testimony given during the trial and claims that he alone killed the deceased. He alleges that he testified as he did during the trial because he had been compelled to do so by means of cruel punishment and promise of leniency.
The fact that, according to Victor Manauis, the appellant prevented the deceased from cutting the tree two days before, which act later motivated the aggression upon said deceased, and the other fact that the appellant had been with the witness Eugenio Jacinto a few hours before the crime, but in a different place, do not constitute corroborations sufficient to neutralize the doubt produced by the recantation of said witness. If it is not shown by means of a new trial of the case on what occasion Eugenio Jacinto did not tell the truth, there is the possibility that it is precisely upon the false testimony of said witness that this court convicted the appellant. At least it will appear that this court convicted the appellant to the penalty of reclusion perpetua only upon the testimony of said witness who is not only a perjurer but also an accomplice in the crime anvd a co-accused in the case who has not been discharged before being presented as a witness (Act No. 2709). I am of the opinion that under the circumstances of the case every means of investigation regarding the veracity of this only witness should be exhausted before finally basing so serious a conviction upon his testimony.