This defendant was charged with the crime of estafa, committed with the falsification of a document. The complaint alleged:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"That on and many years before the 7th day of April, 1914, the said Manuel B. Asensi was and had been a trusted employee of the Compania General de Tabacos de Filipinas, a foreign corporation domiciled in the city of Manila and duly authorized to engage in business in the Philippine Islands; that, as such employee of the above-named corporation, it was his duty to find out, at the end of every quarter, the total amount of the sales of the goods and merchandise made during such period by the said corporation, in order to declare and certify with his signature said amount before the Collector of Internal Revenue or his duly authorized agents, making said declaration and certification on the coupons attached with the patents, of which they form an integral part, issued annually by the Collector of Internal Revenue in favor of the said corporation; that said accused, as such employee of the above-named Compania General de Tabacos de Filipinas, was also bound to pay, with the funds of the said corporation supplied him for said purpose, the Internal Revenue taxes which it had to pay on the amount of the sales above referred to; that, as the accused well knew, during the first quarter of the year 1914, the sales of goods and merchandise made in Manila by the said corporation, amounted to the sum of P257,662.87, Philippine currency; that on the 6th day of April, 1914, the said accused asked of, and obtained from, the said corporation a check for the sum of P858.88, Philippine currency, payable to the order of the Collector of Internal Revenue, with which to pay the said Collector of Internal Revenue for the tax corresponding to the sales made during the first quarter of 1914, which tax amounted exactly to P858.88 at the rate of 1/3 of one per cent of the true amount of the sales referred to; that on the 7th day of April, 1914, the said accused went to the office of the Collector of Internal Revenue, in the city of Manila, and there presented coupon No. 1 which is an integral part of the patent to which it was attached, No. 2751, corresponding to the year 1914, issued by the Collector of Internal Revenue to the Compania General de Tabacos de Filipinas, wherein, failing to declare the truth in the statement of the facts, at this same time and place, did, willingly, unlawfully, and criminally state, declare and certify falsely, with his signature, that the amount of the sales made by the Compania General de Tabacos de Filipinas (of which the said accused was a trusted employee), during the first quarter of 1914, was P137,662.78; and that the Internal Revenue tax which the corporation should pay on the said amount at the rate of 1/3 of one per cent, was only P458.88; that the said accused, through the false statement made by him in the above-mentioned coupon No. 1 of patent No. 2751, induced and persuaded the Internal Revenue officers to believe the declarations, statement and certification made by him in the said instrument, and the said officers, acting under such belief, accepted, out of the sum of P858.88 stated in the check drawn to the order of the Collector of Internal Revenue by the Compania General de Tabacos de Filipinas and which the accused delivered to them, only the sum of P458.88 as the tax due on the sales declared, stated and certified to by the accused himself, in the aforesaid form, time and place, at the rate of 1/3 of one per cent, over the said amount of the sales, returning, as they in fact did return, in cash, the difference between said amount and that stated in the check referred to, that is, the sum of P400, Philippine currency; and the said accused in the time and place referred to, namely, on April 7, 1914, in the city of Manila, once he was in possession of the said sum of P400, Philippine currency, willingly, unlawfully, and criminally and with the intent to defraud the said Compania General de Tabacos de Filipinas, did appropriate the same for himself, thus causing damages and injuries to the said corporation amounting to the said sum of P400, Philippine currency, equivalent to 2,000 pesetas.
"An act committed in violation of law."cralaw virtua1aw library
Upon said complaint the defendant was duly arrested, arraigned, tried, found guilty of the crime charged, and was sentenced by the Honorable Richard Campbell, judge, to be imprisoned for a period of ten years and one day of presidio mayor, to pay a fine of P2,500 to suffer the accessory penalties prescribed by law, and to pay the costs.
From that sentence the defendant appealed to this court and made several assignments of error.
From an examination of the record we find that the following facts are clearly proven, in fact, they are not seriously denied:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
First. That the defendant had been an employee of the offended corporation for a long period prior to the 7th of April, 1914, and during said employment had been charged with the responsibility of taking care of various branches or departments or work of said corporation.
Second. That the offended corporation had been engaged for a long period of years in the city of Manila in the sale of merchandise of various classes, on a large scale, and was still so engaged during the year 1914.
Third. That the offended corporation being a merchant, engaged in the sale of merchandise, was obliged, for the purpose of satisfying the requirements of the Internal Revenue Law, to furnish a certified statement to the Collector of Internal Revenue, showing the amount of sales for each and every quarter of each year.
Fourth. That the defendant was charged with the duty, on behalf of the said corporation, of making out said certificate showing the amount of sales of said corporation for each and every quarter, and of obtaining a check therefor from the cashier of said corporation, for the purpose of paying the amount of taxes due upon said sales for a particular quarter.
Fifth. That in compliance with said duty and obligation as such employee of said offended corporation, the defendant did, on or about the 7th of April, 1914, prepare and sign the certificate required by the internal revenue department, in which he certified that the gross business of said offended corporation, subject to internal-revenue tax, ending March 31, 1914, was P137,662.87, and that the amount of money which was necessary to pay said merchant’s tax for said period was P458.88. (See Exhibit B.)
Sixth. That, notwithstanding said certificate showing the gross business subject to internal-revenue tax, done by said offended corporation, the defendant represented to the cashier of said offended corporation, on the back of Exhibit C, that the amount of gross business subject to internal revenue tax was the sum of P257,662.87, and that the amount of money necessary to pay said tax was the sum of P858.88. (See Exhibit C.)
Seventh. That upon the representation made by Exhibit C, the cashier of the offended corporation executed and delivered to the defendant a check, marked Exhibit D, for the sum of P858.88. made payable to the Collector of Internal Revenue, for the purpose of purchasing the stamps or paying the tax which was due, upon the representation made by the defendant in Exhibit C. (See Exhibit C.)
Eighth. That later the defendant, with said certificate Exhibit B, and said check, Exhibit D, went to the office of the Collector of Internal Revenue, and there purchased the number of stamps sufficient to pay the tax upon the gross amount of business, represented by said Exhibit B, by delivering to the Collector of Internal Revenue the check Exhibit D. The certificate (Exhibit B) showed that the amount of taxes due, for which stamps had to be purchased, amounted to P458.88. The Internal revenue Collector delivered to the defendant stamps amounting to P458.88, and paid to him in cash the difference between said amount and the amount of said check, or the sum of P400.
Ninth. That the P400 received by the defendant, as indicated by the preceding paragraph, was received through the false representation made by the defendant to the cashier of the offended corporation and by virtue of his misrepresentation made to the cashierr of said corporation. (Exhibit C.)
Tenth. That the certificate marked Exhibit B, made by the defendant, was false, in that it represented that the gross business of said offended corporation subject to internal-revenue tax for the period ending March 31, 1914, was P137,662.87, and that the defendant well knew that said amount did not represent the amount of the gross business done by said corporation.
Eleventh. That the defendant has neglected and refused to return to the offended corporation the said P400 and has willfully appropriated the same to his own use.
Twelfth. That by reason of the false representations made by the defendant, not only in the certificate marked Exhibit B, but in various others, covering a number of years, the offended corporation was obliged to pay to the Collector of Internal Revenue a great many thousand pesos to cover its unpaid taxes, as well as to pay a fine for its failure to comply strictly with the provisions of the law.
The appellant, under his first assignment of error, attempts to show, and cites many provisions of the different codes in force here in support of his argument, that there was no obligation resting upon the defendant to make the certificate Exhibit B, and he was therefore not liable, even admitting that he had falsified the same. The record shows that the defendant had been designated by the offended corporation as its representative, for the purpose of ascertaining the gross amount of business done by it, and upon which it was required by law to pay taxes for each quarter. The corporation itself, not being able to act for itself, was under the necessity of having an agent or representative to act for it. The defendant accepted the responsibility imposed upon him by the offended corporation. He voluntarily assumed the obligation to perform the duty imposed upon him, and actually undertook to perform said duty, and had, for a number of years, made out the required certificate for and on behalf of the corporation. We do not believe that it is within his mouth now to say that he had not been appointed to perform that particular duty in accordance with the provisions of law. The courts will not now hear him say that he was performing the duty thus voluntarily assumed, without authority of law. Taking into consideration the relation of the offended corporation to the defendant, and the particular duty which the defendant voluntarily assumed, we are of the opinion that the sentence of the lower court should not be modified by reason of the error alleged in the first assignment.
In the second assignment the appellant argues that, inasmuch as the proof fails to show that the offended corporation had demanded a return of the said P400, and it not appearing that the defendant had refused to return the same, he was not guilty of the crime of estafa. The record shows that the defendant obtained possession of the said P400 by means of fraud and false representations. When money or property is received by means of fraud or false representations, a demand for the return of the same is not necessary in order to constitute the crime of estafa. Any person who, to the prejudice of another, shall convert or misappropriate money, goods, or other personal property, received by such person for safe keeping, or on commission, or for administration, or under any other circumstances, giving rise to the obligation to make delivery of or to return the same, etc., shall be guilty of the crime of estafa and shall be punished in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 5 of article 535, in its relation with article 534 of the Penal Code. Considering the fraud practiced by the defendant upon the offended corporation and the fact that he obtained the money in question by means of false representations, we are of the opinion and so hold, that a demand for the return of the same and a refusal by him so to do is not a necessary prerequisite as an element of the crime charged against the defendant. We find nothing in the second assignment of error sufficient to justify a modification of the sentence of the lower court.
With reference to the third assignment of error, the appellant contends that the document falsified (Exhibit B) is not a public document. The Penal Code contains no definition of what constitutes a public document. This Court held in the case of Cacnio v. Baens (5 Phil. Rep., 742) that any instrument authorized by a notary public or a competent public official, with the solemnities required by law, was a public document. We have also held that the blank forms prepared by the Auditor of the Philippines Islands, in accordance with Act No. 90 of the Philippine Commission, are public documents. (U.S. v. Carrington, 5 Phil. Rep., 725.) We have also held that a receipt issued by the department of assessments and collections of the city of Manila, for taxes collected, is a public document, and one who falsifies the same is guilty of the falsification of a public document (U.S. v. Leyson, 5 Phil. Rep., 447.)
In the case of United States v. Mateo (5 Phil. Rep., 462) we held that a burial permit issued by the Board of Public Health of the city of Manila is a public document, within the meaning of that term as used in article 301 of the Penal Code.
In the case of United States v. Vy Guico (12 Phil. Rep., 209) we held that the official receipt prescribed by the Government to be issued upon the receipt of money for public purposes is a public document, as that term is used in articles 300 and 301 of the Penal Code.
In the case of United States v. Weems (7 Phil. Rep., 241) we held that an official cashbook kept by the disbursing officer of the Coast Guard and Transportation Department, was a public or an official document, in the sense in which those words are used in article 300 of the Penal Code.
In the case of United States v. Barrios (10 Phil. Rep., 366) we held that the cashbook of a public moneys received, is also public document, as that term is used in article 300 of the Penal Code.
In the case of United States v. Vy Guico (supra), an official receipt was held to be a public document, for the reason that it was invested with the character of an official document by reason of the fact that it was printed in accordance with the standard forms required by the Government.
In the present case the document in question (Exhibit B) was printed in accordance with Schedule C and furnished to merchants, in accordance with the provisions of the law of 1904. This form was evidently prescribed by the internal revenue department of the Government. When presented to the internal revenue department of the Government, it became a part of the records of that office and in our judgment is fully invested with the character of an official or public document, as those terms are used in articles 300 and 301 of the Penal Code.
From all of the foregoing facts, we are of the opinion that the evidence adduced during the trial of the cause shows that the defendant is guilty of the crime charged in the complaint, and should be sentenced in accordance with the provisions of article 301 of the Penal Code, in its relation with article 89 of the same code. The sentence of the lower court being fully sustained by the evidence and the law, we are of the opinion and so hold that the same should be and is hereby affirmed, with costs. So ordered.
Torres, Trent, and Araullo, JJ.
, dissenting:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
The facts are briefly these: There is an annual tax in the Philippine Islands imposed upon business concerns requiring them to pay to the Government a certain percent of the total volume of business done by them during the year as shown by their statements thereof in writing to the Collector of Internal Revenue. The tax is payable quarterly. For the prompt and efficient enforcement of the law the Collector of Internal Revenue, in order that the business concerns taxable under the law might furnish all the facts necessary for an intelligent and accurate determination of the amount which ought to be recovered as a tax and to the end that such statements might be uniform in size, style and contents caused blank forms of the statements to be prepared and printed and distributed in considerable quantities to each of the business concerns referred to so that they might have them on hand when the time arrived for them to make the statements concerning their business transactional for the quarter then ending. These forms were un-intelligible and meaningless when delivered to the business houses, being mere skeletons without form or substance until the blank spaces in them were filled in and the statement signed by the particular concern executing it. The Compania General de Tabacos de Filipinas was one of the concerns taxable under the law and a quantity of these printed blank forms were delivered to it by the Collector of Internal Revenue on which to make its quarterly statements as occasion should arise. The accused in this case, who was a trusted and very competent employee of the Compania General de Tabacos de Filipinas, was accustomed for years to fill out these blank statements and sign them for and on behalf of the company at the termination of each quarter. On the presentation and filing of the statement showing, as we have said, the gross volume of the company’s business for the quarter just ended, the Collector of Internal Revenue would determine the amount of the tax to be paid, the accused would obtain that amount of the cashier of the company and turn it over to the Collector of Internal Revenue who would issue to him internal revenue stamps which when duly cancelled, would show the payment of the tax assessed for that quarter. On the particular occasion to which this action refers the accused by written representations to the cashier of the company showed that the volume of business of the company during the quarter just ended was P257,662.87, and, upon that representation, which was true and entirely accurate, obtained from him a check payable to the Collector of Internal Revenue for the amount of the tax due, which was $858.88. The accused then filled out and signed in behalf of the company, as he was accustomed to do, one of the printed blanks furnished by the Collector of Internal Revenue for that purpose; but, in this particular case, filled out the blank in such way as to show that the gross volume of the company’s business during the quarter just ended was P137,662.87 instead of the correct amount, P257,662.87, the sum presented by him to the company’s cashier and for the payment of the tax on which he had obtained from him the company’s check for P858.88. He thereupon presented the false statement to the Collector of Internal Revenue and the tax due according to such statement was figured by the Collector at P458.88. He then offered the company’s check of P858.88 in payment of the tax requesting that the balance, P400, be paid him in cash. This was done. The representations as to the gross volume of its business during the quarter just ended to obtain the check of P858.88 were true ad the amount obtained from the company’s cashier to pay the tax was the correct amount. The representations made to the Collector of Internal Revenue on the blank form furnished by him relative to the gross volume of the company’s business during the last quarter were false and were made with the intent and purpose of obtaining the P400 and of converting it to his own use.
The accused was charged by the information of the commission of two crimes: estafa (swindling) and falsification of a public document by a private individual. He was convicted of both and sentenced for the higher crime, falsification of a public document, and sentenced to the maximum penalty provided by law. (Art. 89, Penal Code.)
I agree to the conviction of estafa. I do not agree to the conviction of the falsification of a public document on the ground that, if there was a document falsified, it was not a public document. The articles of the Penal Code under which he was convicted are 300 and 301. Article 301 reads as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"Any private individual who shall commit any of the falsifications enumerated in the next preceding article in any public or official document, letter of exchange, or other commercial document shall suffer the penalty of presidio mayor and be fined in a sum not less than one thousand two hundred and fifty and not more than twelve thousand five hundred pesetas."cralaw virtua1aw library
Article 300 to which 301 refers is as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"The penalty of cadena temporal and a fine in a sum not less than one thousand two hundred and fifty and not more than twelve thousand five hundred pesetas shall be imposed upon any public officer who, by taking advantage of his official position, shall be guilty of falsification:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"1. By counterfeiting or imitating any handwriting, signature, or rubric.
"2. By causing it to appear that persons have participated in any act or proceeding when they did not in fact so participate.
"3. By attributing to persons who have participated in an act or proceeding statements other than those in fact made by them.
"4. By making untruthful statements in a narration of facts.
"5. By altering true dates.
"6. By making any alteration or intercalation in a genuine document which changes its meaning.
"7. By issuing in authenticated form a document purporting to be a copy of an original document when no such original exists, or by including in such a copy a statement contrary to, or different from, that of the genuine original.
"8. By intercalating any instrument in a protocol, registry or official book.
"Any ecclesiastical minister who shall commit any of the offenses enumerated in the preceding paragraphs of this article with respect to any record or document of such a character that its falsification may affect the civil status of persons or produce results affecting interests not merely ecclesiastical shall suffer the penalty designated in paragraph one of this article."cralaw virtua1aw library
The Supreme Court, by a majority, holds that the printed blank form referred to, and each and every one of them, (1) became a public document the instant it was delivered by the printer who printed it to the Collector of Internal Revenue; (2) that the large number of blanks delivered to the various business houses of the Philippine Islands were all public documents at the time they left his hands and forever after remained so; and (3) that, thereupon, when the accused filled in the blank spaces with false figures he falsified a public document. The court also holds, as alternative propositions, that, even though the document was not a public document before it was signed by the accused, it became such the instant it was filled out and signed by him; and that even if this signature did not make it a public document, it certainly became such when it was filed with the Collector of Internal Revenue, i. e., filed in a public office.
Taking up these holdings in order, I may say with regard to the first that I cannot conceive of the possibility of a blank piece of paper being a document of any kind, public or private. It is simply a meaningless nothing creating no rights, interests or obligations and utterly incapable of producing any effect or result whatever as to anybody or anything. It is certainly incapable of being forged, altered, mutilated or falsified. Can a blank piece of paper be falsified, or forged, or altered? Before a falsification can take place there must be something to falsify. To convict any one of the acts specified in article 300 it is essential to have a document already created and in existence, or one whose creation is simultaneous with the act of falsification. One cannot forge, or alter or falsify nothing. The criminal must have something to operate upon. Even in forgery, i. e., placing the name of another to an instrument, where, generally speaking, the criminal composes or creates the instrument himself, it is necessary to have the instrument complete in every essential detail when the forged name is attached thereto; or at least when the instrument is uttered. Otherwise it would not be worth anything and the criminal would have only his work for his pains, as he could not utter an incomplete instrument. So in every case mentioned in article 300. It is impossible that the crime specified in article 300 or 301 be committed on a piece of blank paper. It follows necessarily that the contention of the court that the printed blank form became a public document when it was printed by the Collector of Internal Revenue, or even when it was delivered to the Compania General de Tabacos de Filipinas for it to fill out when the time should arrive to do so, can not be sustained.
I shall discuss together the contentions that, when the accused signed the document, it thereupon became a public document; and that, when the completed instrument was filed with the Collector of Internal Revenue it became a public document.
I cannot believe that the statement in question is a public document. As I understand the law, and it must be so from the very nature of things, a public document is one which is issued, executed, ratified or acknowledged by or before a public official which, in some way, relates to the duties of his office. In other words, before a document can be called a public document a public official must have intervened in some way in its execution. A document executed or signed by a private person having no public office and no connection with the public service cannot possibly be a public document. To claim the contrary would be, it seems to me, to violate language itself. It would seem that nothing can be more certain than that a private person cannot execute a public instrument. That is, he cannot, by any act of his, give it a public character. Even those public documents, like mortgages, which are signed by private persons are still private after they have been signed by the parties; and acquire their public character only when the execution is certified in legal form by a notary public or other public official duly authorized. It is his act, the act of the public official, which gives them the elements by virtue of which they are entitled to be called public documents. This, of course, must be so; otherwise, we would be driven to say that a private person can create, execute, or issue a public document, which should be an absurdity.
The criminal law deals with the following classes of documents with respect of which the crime of falsification may be committed: (1) Public documents; (2) official documents (which are also public documents); (3) private documents; (4) bills of exchange and other mercantile documents; (5) telegraph dispatches: (6) passports; (7) certificates of residence; (8) physician’s certificates issued to enable a person to evade the public service, by stating that he is ill or has been injured; (9) certificates of merit, service, good conduct, or poverty, or any other of similar character. These are the only documents concerning which the crime commonly known as falsification can be committed. All of these documents are dealt with in chapter four (4) of the Penal Code; public documents, official documents, commercial documents, and telegraph dispatches forming the subject matter of section I (arts. 300-303); private documents of section II (arts. 304-305); and passports, certificates of residence and the other certificates named above of section III (arts. 306-311). Some of the documents specifically mentioned in these articles are public documents, such as passports, certificates of residence, etc.; and would have been included naturally in the general term "public document;" but for certain apparent reasons the code makers preferred to mention them specifically. Other documents also specifically mentioned in these sections are private documents and would naturally have fallen in the general class of private documents; but here again certain reasons led the Legislature to mention them by name.
As will be seen from these observations, the document which is the basis of the conviction in this case is not specifically named by the Penal Code and must, accordingly, be among those defined by classes; public, official or private. As we have observed already it is impossible that a document created, executed or issued by a private person be a public document. The same may be said of an official document. This is a document which is issued by a public official by virtue of his office. It falls within the larger class called public documents which, as we have seen, are those which come into existence through the exigencies of the public service, or by the intervention of a public official in their execution. It is clear, then, that, as with public documents, and even more so, an official document cannot be created executed or issued by a private individual, although he may be interested in the instrument, although it may affect his rights, interests, or standing, still he does not in any way intervene in its execution.
That I am correct in what I have said, viz., that, in order to be a public document it must have been created, executed or issued by a public official in response to the exigencies of the public service, or a public official must have intervened in its execution, is, I think, clearly demonstrated by the Spanish codes and by the decisions of the supreme court of Spain. In a decision of the 27th of May, 1882, the supreme court of Spain (26 Crim. Rep., 425) states that the only public documents concerning which the crime of falsification can be committed under section I of Chapter four (4) of the Penal Code are those "enumerated in article 280 of the law of civil procedure of 1855, which is article 596 of the present law;" and declares that official documents are those only which "are issued by public officials in the exercise of the functions of their office." The court said in the case cited:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"It appears that, in one of the articles of instructions given to second lieutenant Victorino Idigoras who was commissioned in the year 1876 to pay the members of the battalion of Sedentarios de Orense their back salaries, he was directed, when he made the payments mentioned, to require each person paid to produce his license or, in case he had no license, the pass which had been issued to him until the license could be obtained, and to sign his name to the appropriate receipt; and, in case he could not write his own name, to have his name signed by another person of known honesty, that payment to the right person be assured.
"It appears also that a criminal prosecution for embezzlement committed in the discharge of his commission was instituted against said second lieutenant in the year 1877 by the military authorities, afterwards continued by the civil authorities, in connection with the case of Juan Perez Conde. There was offered in the case of document dated the 14th day of July, 1876, the date on which Perez was in Castilla, wherein it appears that said Perez received 86 pesetas and 19 cents of his back salary. This document was signed by Idigoras and Jose Rivera. The fact was, however, that Perez had received no pay whatever.
"The criminal branch of the Audiencia of Coruña reversed the decision of the lower court, and rendered a decision wherein, by a majority vote, Idigoras was sentenced to 10 years and 1 day of prisidio mayor and Rivera to 4 years 2 months and 1 day of presidio correccional, to the accessories provided by law, as principals in the commission of the crime of falsification defined in article 315 of the Penal Code, as a means of committing that of estafa.
x x x
"Article 315 of the code penalizes those who falsify a public or official document. A public document embraces only those enumerated in article 280 of the law of civil procedure of 1855, now article 596 of the present law; and the latter class, the official document, only those issued by public officials in the exercise of their official functions. The lower court, in applying article 315 to the act committed by the accused Rivera, which consists simply in affixing his signature to a receipt supposed to have been given by Juan Perez Conde as evidence of payment of his back salary, was in error in that the document in question was a private document and had none of the elements of a public or official document. This is so for the reason that the individual who pretended to execute the same, as well as the person who signed for him, was a private person, and could not give it the character of a public document; nor did it acquire that character by the intervention of Second Lieutenant Idigoras for whose discharge it was issued. Its legal character must be determined solely from the character of the person entitled to receive; the money; and its character as a document is not affected by the position or attributes of the person charged with the payment."cralaw virtua1aw library
This case does three things of importance: First, it gives us a list of the public documents which may be falsified under section I above mentioned. Second, it furnished us with a definition of official documents (the same definition given in article 596 of the law of civil procedure); and third, it provides us with a decision in favor of the accused under an information charging him with falsification based on a document which comes very much closer to being a public document than that which is the basis of the charge in the case at bar. Dealing with the first point, we turn to article 579 of the law of civil procedure in force in the Philippine Islands when the sovereignty changed from Spain to the United States, which is the same as article 596 of the same law which was in force when the decision cited was rendered, we find the following:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"Art. 579. The following are solemn public documents, viz:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"1. Notarial instruments executed as prescribed by law.
"2. Certified copies of entries in the registry books, issued by agents of the Stock Exchange, or by commercial brokers, in the manner and form prescribed by article 64 of the Commercial Code, and by special laws.
"3. Documents issued by public officers in reference to the performance of any of their duties, when authority therefor is vested upon them.
"4. Record books, statutes, ordinances, registers, poll and property statistics, and other documents kept in the public archives, departments of State, provinces or pueblos, and copies made and certified to by the secretaries and keepers thereof, by order of the proper authorities.
"5. The ordinances, by-laws and regulations of companies, corporations or associations, as approved by the public authorities, and copies thereof certified to as prescribed in the preceding subdivision.
"6. Records or certified copies of records of births, marriages and deaths, taken from the books thereof by parish priests or by persons in charge of the civil registers.
"7. Judgments, writs of execution, and judicial proceedings."cralaw virtua1aw library
A glance at the provisions of this article suffices to show conclusively that the document or writing which is the basis of this action cannot possibly be included among those enumerated therein. This being true and the supreme court of Spain having, as we have seen, clearly held that these are the only documents or instruments capable of being falsified under section I of chapter 4 of the Penal Code, it follows of necessity that the writing in the case at bar is not susceptible of falsification under that section. It further follows, of necessity also, that the information in this case does not legally charge and the evidence does not establish the crime of falsification of a public document under any law of the Philippine Islands.
Let us inquire what there is common to the documents or writings enumerated in article 579 above quoted which distinguish them from private documents. The answer is that they are executed, issued or attested by a public official. This answer is so obvious that there would seem to be no necessity for the inquiry. But the answer disposes of the controversy before us. The document or writing under consideration is admittedly one executed and signed by a private individual only, viz., the accused. He signed and executed it as agent of the Compania General de Tabacos de Filipinas. No public official intervened in any way or had the slightest thing to do with its execution. The contention of the Government, sustained by a majority of this court is that this writing is a public document. If it is a public document on which an indictment for falsifying a public document will lie, it must, under the decision of the supreme court of Spain, as we have seen, be one of the documents described in article 579 of the law of civil procedure of Spain. Does it fall within class No. 1 of that article? Clearly not; as it is not a notarial instrument executed as required by law. Does it belong to class No. 2? Clearly not; because it is not a certified copy of anything, much less of any of the acts therein mentioned. Does it bear the description given of class No. 3? Certainly not; as it is not a document issued by a public officer in reference to the performance of any of his duties under authority of law. Is it included in class No. 4? Of course not; because it is not a record book, statute, ordinance, register, poll or property statistics, etc. What about class 5? It does not belong there as it is not an ordinance, by-law, etc., of companies, corporations or associations, etc. Can it be admitted in class No. 6? Obviously not; as it is not a record or certified copy of record of a birth, marriage or death. We have excluded it from every class but the last. Is its place in class No. 7? No; it is not a judgment, writ of execution or judicial proceeding. Being essentially unlike any public document known to any law, how can the writing in question be a public document?
The Civil Code, while not so specific, gives the same definition of a public document as that found in the law of civil procedure. Article 1216 provides:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"Public documents are those authorized by a notary or by a competent public official, with the solemnities required by law."cralaw virtua1aw library
There is no possibility, then, of the statement under discussion being a public document under the Civil Code. While the Penal Code contains no definition of a public document, it aids us nearly as much by giving us a definition of a public officer. Article 401 says:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"For the purpose of applying the provisions of this and of the preceding titles of this book (including arts. 300 and 301), any person who, by direct provision of law, popular election, or appointment by competent authority, shall take part in the performance of duties in the public service shall be deemed a public officer."cralaw virtua1aw library
Note that this article refers to the very provisions which are being applied in the case at bar. Certainly the accused is not included that he is a public officer, as he is charged under article 301 which relates exclusively to the falsification of a public document by a private individual. Now, if public documents can be executed or issued only by public officials, and both the law of civil procedure and the Civil Code clearly and incontrovertibly so declare, and if the accused is not a public official but a private individual only, as everybody admits he is, how can he execute or produce a public document? And how can the writing in controversy be a public document?
As is the law so is reason. It is unthinkable, as a mere matter of language, that a private person may produce a public document. It is a plain contradiction in speech. A private individual cannot perform a public act; and every public document is such by virtue of some public act, i. e., an act of some public official. If a private individual can produce a public document then is the day of miracles here; for then will the progeny bear no kinship to the parent and cause no relation to its effect.
The next contention of the Government in this case is to the effect, and the majority of the court sustains the Government therein, that, inasmuch as the blank form on which the accused made the statement which is the bottom of the controversy here was delivered to the Tabacalera Company by the Collector of Internal Revenue to guide it in making the statement of the volume of its business during the quarter then terminating, such blank form was issued by a public official and for that reason became a public document. Let us begin by asking the question when this blank form became a document of whatever nature. When it was delivered by the Collector to the company, or when it was signed by the accused, or when, having been signed, was delivered by him to the Collector? The Government contends, and the court apparently agrees, that the blank form was always a public document, from the moment it came from the hands of the printer; and especially was it such when the Collector of Internal Revenue delivered it to the company. This claim is, to my mind, untenable. The printed form when delivered to the defendant was nothing but blank paper. The printed words thereon were meaningless. The delivery by the Collector of the printed form had no more significance than the delivery of a piece of paper entirely blank, devoid even of printing. Until the blank spaces were properly filled and the paper signed by some person it meant nothing, was nothing, and produced no effect whatever as to either the Government, the company or the defendant. Such a piece of paper is not a document as that word is understood either in law or in common parlance. A document is one that is made by somebody, signed by somebody, executed by somebody. It creates obligations or states facts of public record. It can be introduced in evidence to prove and establish those obligations or the existence of the facts therein set forth. It is created by an act; has a significance, meaning, and effect all its own. It creates something and produces effects. Now, to what effect or use could the blank form be put before it was signed by the accused? Did it create any obligations on the part of any person or entity? Did it establish an obligation against or a right in favor of the Government? Or against the company? Or against the defendant? Could it have served as the basis of conviction even though it had been mutilated in a thousand ways? Did it state any fact of public record? Could it have been introduced in evidence in any action or proceeding? To all these questions, No. Until filled out and signed by the accused it was nothing. He made it what it became. He signed it. He gave to blank paper the only force and virtue it ever had. Until he acted it was waste paper. Consequently, when it was delivered by the Collector it was not even a document, much less a public document; and, if the defendant created and made it a document by his own acts, it was the creation of a private individual and not that of a public official. It was, therefore, a private document and remains such to this moment.
Suppose that, in filling the blank spaces in the printed form preparatory to signing it, the accused had changed some of the printed words and stricken out others, substituting his own phraseology therefor, thereby materially changing its form and substance; would he have been guilty of the falsification of a public document? Or let us suppose he had discarded the paper altogether and had substituted another printed by himself in its place; would he have been guilty of any offense, or would he have laid himself liable civilly? Assuredly not. Then, was it a public document, or any other kind of document?
We noted as the second matter of importance presented by the decision of the supreme court of Spain above referred to that it gave us a definition of an official document as distinguished from a public document. This was to the effect that an official document is one issued by a public official in the discharge of the duties of his office. The printed form not being a document of any kind when the Collector delivered it to the company but blank paper only, it was not, of course, an instrument issued by a public officer in the discharge of the duties of his office. It could not, therefore, be either a public or official document.