Republic of the Philippines
G.R. No. L-38 | April 6, 1946
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
SAMUEL TANCHOCO y MARCELO, defendant-appellant.
Jose M. Santos for appellant.
Office of the First Assistant Solicitor General Reyes and Solicitor Lacson for appellee.
DE JOYA, J.:
Defendant and appellant Samuel Tanchoco y Marcelo was accused, in the Court of First Instance of the City of Manila, of having stolen, in conspiracy with an American negro soldier, on or about April 7, 1945, United States Army goods, consisting of twenty-four (24) bales of Army fatigue suits, woolen blankets, towels, and caps, among others, of the approximate value of P5,346.
The American negro soldier could not be arrested, as his whereabouts could not be located, and the case was tried only with reference to the defendant and appellant in this case, at the end of which trial, he was found guilty as accessory before the fact (accomplice) and sentenced to three (3) months of arresto mayor and to pay the costs. Said defendant was not sentenced to pay any amount, as indemnity, as the said Army goods were totally recovered.
The defendant has appealed from the judgment of the lower court, finding him guilty of the crime charged, as accessory before the fact, and assigns several errors, all of which may be reduced to the general proposition that the evidence adduced by the prosecution at the trial of the case in the lower court, was altogether insufficient to establish his guilt of the said offense, as such accessory before the fact, beyond reasonable doubt, and that he is, therefore, entitled to judgment of acquittal.
At the trial, the following facts where satisfactorily and sufficiently established:
That on April 6, 1945, herein defendant and appellant contacted witness Deogracias Gutierrez, at the latter’s house in the district of Caloocan, City of Manila, and made arrangements with him to deposit in his house certain goods and merchandise for compensation; that the following day, April 7, 1945, at about 7:30 in the evening, defendant and appellant came with a child in a United Army truck, driven by an American negro soldier, which was loaded with the twenty-four (24) bales of United States Army goods, consisting of Army fatigue suits and woolen blankets, among others, of the approximate value of P5,346, and started to unload them, with the help of laborers called by herein defendant and appellant, in front of the house of said witness Deogracias Gutierrez; that while said American negro soldier and herein defendant and appellant were supervising the unloading of the twenty-four (24) bales of United States Army goods, an American soldier arrived riding on a motorcycle, near the place were the said United States Army goods were being unloaded, and the negro soldier and herein defendant and appellant with the child, started to run and left the place; that as the American soldier, riding on a motorcycle, came to that place apparently for the purpose of visiting some friends, the American negro soldier returned alone and continued the unloading of said United States Army goods and left them on the ground floor of said house of witness Deogracias Gutierrez; that Deogracias Gutierrez notified a neighbor named Kosca, a guerrilla captain, suspecting that said Army goods were stolen property, and Captain Kosca, in turn, reported the matter to the police in Caloocan, and at about 10:30 that same night, Lieutenant Santos of the Caloocan police, came and seized the said Army goods and turned the over to the Provost Marshal; that patrolman Nibungco went to the house of the accused to place him under arrest, but not finding him at home, said police took a sister of herein defendant and appellant to the police station, for investigation, and herein appellant presented himself afterwards.
The American negro soldier could not be arrested as he had left the place, when the police arrived.
Herein defendant and appellant, when questioned about the said Army goods, stated that he happened to be in said truck, driven by the American negro soldier, and loaded with certain Army goods, as he had been asked by said negro soldier to look for a place where said goods could be deposited, promising to pay him some compensation; that he did not know that the said goods were stolen property; that the house of Gutierrez was only about 400 meters from the Caloocan Police Station; that it was near the house of patrolman Bustamante of the Manila Police; that he had not run away; and that he suspected the illegitimate source of the Army goods in question only after they had been seized by the police. The explanation of herein defendant and appellant is too flimsy to constitute a valid or legal defense..
All the said Army goods were ordered returned to the United States Army, in the decision rendered by the trial court.
Unexplained possession of recently stolen property is prima facie evidence of guilt of the crime of theft (United States vs. Catimbang, 35 Phil., 367; United States vs. Mohamad Ungal, 37 Phil., 835); and this would be the case of the American negro soldier, if he had been arrested; as he had access to the goods in question. Herein the defendant and appellant had no such access; and there is no evidence that he had induced anyone to steal said Army goods.
A person who receives any property from another, knowing that the same had been stolen, is guilty of the crime of theft, as an accessory the fact (encubridor). (Sentencia del Tribunal Supremo de España, de fecha 27 de junio de 1882, 2 Viada, 5.a ed. , pag. 466; sentencia del Tribunal Supremo de España, de fecha 27 de diciembre de 1887, idem., pag 467; sentencia de Tribunal Supremo de España, de fecha 14 de noviembre de 1888; idem., pags. 468, 469; United States vs. Montano, 3 Phil., 110.)
A person who receives any property from another, which he knows to have been stolen, for the purpose of selling the same and to share in the proceeds of the sale, is guilty of the crime of theft, as an accessory after the fact. (United States vs. Galanco, 11 Phil., 575.) In the same manner that a person who receives a stolen property, for the purpose of concealing the same, is likewise guilty of the crime of theft, as an accessory after the fact. (United States vs. Villaluz, 32 Phil., 376.).
No direct evidence has been presented in this case to show that the Army goods mentioned above had been stolen by herein defendant and appellant and by said American negro soldier, or by the latter alone.
With reference to herein defendant and appellant, the evidence presented by the prosecution, is purely circumstantial evidence.
In order to convict a person to accused of a crime, on the strength of circumstantial evidence alone, it is incumbent upon the prosecution to present the circumstantial evidence, which will and must necessarily lead to the conclusion that the accused is guilty of the crime charged, beyond reasonable doubt, excluding all and each and every hypothesis consistent with his innocence. (United States vs. Cajayon, 2 Phil., 570; United States vs. Tan Chian, 17 Phil., 209; United States vs. Levente, 18 Phil., 349.)
Tested by the rule stated above, considering the large amount of the Army goods in question and the conduct of the American negro soldier and herein defendant and appellant, when the American soldier, riding on a motorcycle, arrived at the place where said goods were being unloaded, the two having started to run and left the place, abandoning said Army goods as well as the truck, and their failure to claim the goods afterwards, it is evident that the goods in question were stolen property, and that said American negro soldier and herein defendant and appellant knew that said goods were really stolen property.
It has been truly said, since long ago that “the wicked fleeth, even when no man pursueth, whereas the righteous are as brave as lion.” (United States vs. Sarikala, 37 Phil., 486.) And its has been held that flight is evidence of guilt and of a guilty conscience. (United States vs. Alegado, 25 Phil., 510.)
The contention of the prosecution that herein defendant and appellant should be found guilty of the crime of theft, as accessory before the fact (accomplice) is untenable.
Considering that the evidence adduced at the trial of this case in the court below has fully established the guilt of herein the defendant and appellant Samuel Tanchoco y Marcelo of the crime of theft, as accessory after the fact, beyond reasonable doubt; the judgment appealed from is modified, and, in accordance with the provisions of the article 309, paragraph 3, of the Revised Penal Code, in connection with article 53 thereof, defendant and appellant is hereby sentenced to one (1) month and one (1) day of arresto mayor, to the accessory penalties prescribed by law, and to pay the costs. Defendant and appellant shall be given the benefit of one-half (1/2) of the preventive imprisonment, if any, suffered by him. With this modification, the decision appealed from is hereby affirmed with costs. So ordered..
Ozaeta, Hilado, and Bengzon, JJ., concur.