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. 7540, Sep 23, 1912 ]



23 Phil. 194

[ G. R. No. 7540, September 23, 1912 ]




Appeal by the defendant from  a judgment of conviction rendered  in this case by  the Honorable  Julio Llorente, judge.

About 8 o'clock in the evening of August 1, 1910, Bernabe Mangunay, mounted on a carabao, approached the house of Mateo del Rosario,  situated in the barrio of Apulid, of the pueblo of Paniqui, Tarlac,  to ask for something to eat.  As he was then carrying  a papaya firebrand and got too close to the house,  the eaves  thereof caught fire  and its nipa roof immediately started to burn, a large part of it being consumed.  Thereupon Silveria Marcoleta, wife of the owner of the house, Rosario,  who  was not in at the time but at a neighbor's, called out for help and immediately left the house to escape from the fire, taking her two children and little brother with her.  Owing to the prompt arrival of the  husband and several neighbors, the fire was put out before it had burned the whole house.

On the following day the owner of the house, Mateo del Rosario, reported the occurrence to  Vicente  Mendoza, the lieutenant of  the aforesaid barrio,  and accused Bernabe Mangunay of starting the fire.  Mendoza thereupon ordered the junior  lieutenant, Candido  Yabut,  to  summon the accused.  But when the latter appeared, said Mendoza took no action whatever, nor did he even report the facts to the proper higher authority, but, on the contrary, permitted the incendiary to return home.

For the foregoing reasons, and in view of the preliminary investigations made by the justice  of the peace of Paniqui, the provincial fiscal, on September 5, 1910, filed an information in the Court of  First Instance of  Tarlac, charging Vicente Mendoza as  accessory after  the fact in the crime of arson.  After due trial, judgment  was. rendered on May 22, 1911, whereby the defendant was sentenced to the penalty  of two years four  months and one  day  of presidio correccional, to the accessories, with allowance of one-half of the  time of his detention,  and to payment of the costs; from which judgment he appealed.

Had the accused barrio-lieutenant incurred  responsibility by his  conduct, he should have been charged with the crime of "prevaricacion"  under article 355 of  the  Penal  Code, for neglect of the duties of his office by maliciously failing to move the prosecution and punishment of the delinquent.

However, the present case was instituted through an information  for  concealment of crime, and  as it has  been proved  that the alleged incendiary,  Bernabe  Mangunay, was acquitted for lack of  evidence, by judgment rendered in Case No. 544 prosecuted against him in  the same court of  Tarlac, so it remains  to be determined whether, notwithstanding the  acquittal of the  principal actor in the crime, said complaint for  concealment can  be maintained, and the alleged accessory after the fact convicted.

The responsibility of the accessory after  the fact is subordinate to that of the principal in a crime, because the accessory's participation therein is  subsequent to its  commission, and his guilt is very directly  related to the prin- cipal  delinquent in the punishable act; for if the facts alleged are not proven in the prosecution instituted, or do not constitute a crime, no legal grounds exist for convicting a defendant as an  accessory after  the  fact  of a crime not perpetrated or of  parties not guilty.  (U. S. vs. Abison, 3 Phil.  Rep., 191.)

In the case at bar there  are indications that the  fire was accidental and, if so, the acquittal of the accused in the other case was  perhaps due to the lack of proof of his  guilt as an  incendiary and to the fact that  the  acts  charged do not constitute a crime.   Therefore, upon  this hypothesis, and because the alleged incendiary was acquitted, it is neither proper nor possible to convict the  defendant, Mendoza, as accessory after the fact, of Bernabe Mangunay, who was acquitted of the said crime of arson.

For the foregoing reasons, with reversal of the judgment appealed  from, it  is  proper to acquit, as  we  do hereby, Vicente Mendoza, the lieutenant of the barrio of Apulid, Paniqui, with the costs of both instances de  oficio.

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