“This is an appeal from a judgment of conviction for treason by the People’s Court sentencing the accused to life imprisonment, Php 10,000 fine, and the costs.”
That between January and April, 1945 or thereabout, during the occupation of the Philippines by the Japanese Imperial Forces, in the Province of Nueva Ecija and in the mountains in the Island of Luzon, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Court, the above-named accused, Apolinario Adriano, who is not a foreigner, but a Filipino citizen owing allegiance to the United States and the Commonwealth of the Philippines, in violation of said allegiance, did then and there willfully, criminally and treasonably adhere to the Military Forces of Japan in the Philippines, against which the Philippines and the United States were then at war, giving the said enemy aid and comfort as a member of the Makapili, a military organization established and designed to assist and aid militarily the Japanese Imperial forces in the Philippines in the said enemy’s war efforts and operations against the United States and the Philippines.
The court below, however, said these acts had not been established by the testimony of two witnesses, and so regarded them merely as evidence of adherence to the enemy.
But the court did find established under the two-witness rule, so we infer, “that the accused and other Makapilis had their headquarters in the enemy garrison at Gapan, Nueva Ecija; that the accused was in Makapili military uniform; that he was armed with rifle; and that he drilled with other Makapilis under a Japanese instructor; . . . that during the same period, the accused in Makapili military uniform and with a rifle, performed duties as sentry at the Japanese garrison and Makapili headquarters in Gapan, Nueva Ecija;” “that upon the liberation of Gapan, Nueva Ecija, by the American forces, the accused and other Makapilis retreated to the mountains with the enemy;” and that “the accused, rifle in hand, later surrendered to the Americans.”
Whether or not the two-witness rule is required in establishing the guilt of the accused in the crime of treason.
The Philippine law on treason is of Anglo-American origin and so we have to look for guidance from American sources on its meaning and scope – judicial interpretation has been placed on the two-witness principle by American courts.
The two-witness rule required for conviction for treason is that no person shall be convicted thereof unless on the testimony of two-witnesses to the same overt act. If the overt act is separate, two (2) witnesses must also testify to each part of overt act for conviction.
In the case at bar, the findings of the court are not borne out by the proof of two witnesses. No two of the prosecution witnesses testified to a single one of the various acts of treason imputed by them to the appellant. Those who gave evidence that the accused took part in raids and seizure of personal property, and performed sentry duties and military drills, referred to acts allegedly committed on different dates without any two witnesses coinciding in any one specified deed. There is only one item on which the witnesses agree: it is that the defendant was a Makapili and was seen by them in Makapili uniform carrying arms. Yet, again, on this point it cannot be said that one witness is corroborated by another if corroboration means that two witnesses have seen the accused doing at least one particular thing, it a routine military chore, or just walking or eating.
By extension, the lawmakers who introduced that provision into the Philippine statute books must be understood to have intended that the law should operate with the same inflexibility and rigidity as the American forefathers meant.The judgment is reversed and the appellant acquitted with costs charged de oficio.