November 1929 - Philippine Supreme Court Decisions/Resolutions
054 Phil 41:
[G.R. No. 31105. November 23, 1929.]
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. JOSE C. CASTRO and JOHN DOE, Defendants. JOSE C. CASTRO, Appellant.
M. H. de Joya and Claudio R. Sandoval, for Appellant.
Attorney-General Jaranilla, for Appellee.
In the Court of First Instance of Manila the defendants were charged with the falsification of public documents, alleged to have been committed as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"That in or about the months of March and April, 1927, in the City of Manila, Philippine Islands, the said accused Jose C. Castro, one of the candidates to the Bar Examinations held in said City of Manila in August and September, 1926, who, according to the official list published by the Supreme Court of the Philippine Islands, obtained 78% in Civil Law; 50% in Mercantile Law; 77% in Penal Law; 72% in Political Law; 61% in International Law; 65% in Procedural Law; and 65% in Legal Ethics, and a general average of 66.9%, and his coaccused John Doe, one of the employees of said Supreme Court and custodian of the compositions and other papers and documents connected with said examinations, which were then kept in the archives of the aforesaid court, confederating together, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously took from the said archives certain public and official documents kept therein, to wit: the compositions in Mercantile Law, Procedural Law and Legal Ethics, written, prepared and submitted by said accused Jose C. Castro during the said examinations, and once in the possession thereof, they willfully, unlawfully and feloniously concealed and destroyed the same to the great injury of public interest, and for the purpose of enabling the accused Jose C. Castro to be admitted to practice law in these Islands, the aforesaid accused wrote and prepared other compositions in substitution of those that were taken away and concealed, and on the covers of the new compositions, they willfully, unlawfully and feloniously falsified the writing and signatures of the correctors Fulgencio Vega, Rafael Amparo, Alfonso Felix, Marciano Guevara, Jeronimo Samson, and Zoilo Castrillo, who examined the original compositions in Mercantile Law, Procedural Law and Legal Ethics submitted by the accused Jose C. Castro in the said examinations, and they placed the aforesaid new compositions in the archives of said Court; that after said substitution and falsification, the said accused Jose C. Castro appeared to have obtained 78% in Civil Law; 89% in Mercantile Law; 77% in Penal Law; 72% in Political Law; 61% in International Law; 82% in Procedural Law and 78% in Legal Ethics, and a general average of 76.7%, the accused aforesaid, John Doe and Jose C. Castro, thereby succeeding in changing the relative merit of the compositions of the latter in Mercantile Law, Procedural Law and Legal Ethics."cralaw virtua1aw library
The defendant Castro was arraigned, plead not guilty, tried, convicted and sentenced to four years, two months and one day of prision correccional, with the accessory penalty to pay a fine of 1,000 pesetas or suffer subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and one-half of the costs, and on appeal assigns the following errors:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"1. That the trial court erred in holding that the compositions Exhibits A-1, A-2 and A-3, in Legal Ethics, Mercantile Law, and Remedial Law, respectively, were not the ones that had been submitted by the appellant Jose C. Castro and afterwards examined and graded by the correctors in said subjects in the course of the 1926 bar examinations and in not finding that the real grades obtained by said appellant in the examination on those subjects are those subjects are those appearing on the front covers thereof.
"2. That the trial court erred in finding said appellant guilty of falsification of public documents beyond reasonable doubt and in imposing upon him the penalty heretofore described."
Five employees of this court prepared the tabulated list, known in the record as Exhibit X, which contained the names and official numbers, the ratings received in each subject, and the general average of each candidate. Juan Villaflor picked up the compositions from the floor in their numerical order. Mrs. Stevens, Miss Romualdez, and Miss Catalina Pons in turn real aloud the partial ratings that appeared on the front cover of the compositions as made by the correctors, while one of them inserted the respective grades in the tabulated list Exhibit X, under the proper column opposite the corresponding official numbers. Samson with an adding machine, took the partial grades which were thus read and computed the general averages, which were also inserted in the last column of Exhibit X. After this work was completed, the sealed envelopes, identifying the candidates by their respective names, were opened and inserted in Exhibit X opposite the corresponding official numbers. The defendant Castro took the Bar Examinations in that year, and his official number was 142 in the tabulated list Exhibit X thus prepared, and he obtained 50 per cent in Mercantile Law, 65 per cent in Remedial Law and 65 per cent in Legal Ethics. After the preparation of this list, known as Exhibit X, a typewritten list, containing the names of the candidates whose admission to the Bar was recommended by the committee, was submitted to this court, and this recommendation of the committee was not approved. As a result, the committee prepared another list, known in the record as Exhibit C-5, which contained the names only of such candidates as had obtained a general average of 75 per cent or more and without a grade of less then 60 per cent in any one subject, which list was ordered published by this court as the official list of those who passed the examination. In this list, which was made from the list Exhibit X, the name of the defendant did not appear, for the simple reason that he obtained a general average of less than 75 per cent, and because he received less than 60 percent in Mercantile Law. About a week later, a second tabulated list, Exhibit z, was prepared, and in this tabulated list, Exhibit Z, the defendant appeared to have obtained the same grades a shown in Exhibit X, to wit: 50 per cent in Mercantile Law, 65 per cent in Remedial Law and 65 per cent in Legal Ethics. The following March, the defendant personally went over his papers and claimed that an error had been made in the addition of his grades, to which he called the attention of Samson, and on May 9, 1927, two months after the final results of the examination had been announced, the defendant filed a motion for reconsideration, which this court denied on July 21, 1927, and order an investigation of the matter by the clerk of this court, in which it was disclosed that according to the compositions exhibited during the trial, the defendant obtained the following ratings:
Exhibit A-1 (Legal Ethics) 78
Exhibit A-2 (Mercantile Law) 89
Exhibit A-3 (Remedial Law) 82
instead of the ratings of 50 per cent in Mercantile Law, 65 per cent in Remedial Law and 65 per cent in Legal Ethics, as shown in Exhibits X and Z.
The prosecution contends that Exhibits A-1, A-2 and A-3 were not the true and genuine compositions submitted by the defendant in Legal Ethics, Mercantile Law and Procedural Law.
Several weeks before the trial of this case, Samson an Mañalac, the original correctors in Legal Ethics, and who made the corrections shown in Exhibit X, graded Exhibit A-1 by the same tests as were used in Exhibit X, and each gave the defendant the grade of 93 per cent. It also contends that Exhibit A-2 is forged.
Vega and Amparo, who were the original correctors in Mercantile Law, each denied having written the word "Eight-nine" and the figures "89," and the initials "F. Vega" as they now appear on the firs t page of Exhibit A-2, and it was shown that these words and figures had been traced from the genuine grades of candidate Joaquin Ramidez de Arellano, as they appeared on Exhibit B-1, and this contention was verified by the handwriting expert Anton Simkus. The same thing is true as to Exhibit A-3, which shows that the composition of the defendant in Remedial Law, of which Felix was the corrector, showed an average of 82 per cent, from all of which it is very apparent that there was a substitution and falsification of the original compositions of the defendant, and that what is known in the record as Exhibit A-1, A-2 and A-3 are not true and genuine. That fact must be conceded.
The question as to who committed the falsification, when it was done and why it was done is thus squarely presented. There is no claim or pretense that any one saw the defendant commit the crime alleged, yet it was committed in his original compositions and for his sole use and benefit.
It is the theory of the prosecution that there were at least two parties to the crime, and that one of them was a trusted employee of this court, who had access to its records and files, and is named John Doe in the information. It is hard to conceive how the falsification and substitution could have been made without the actual aid and assistance of an employee of this court as during all of this time, but before, during and after the corrections, all examination papers were kept in the room of Justice Romualdez, to which nobody had access, except some trusted employee of the court. An examination of Exhibits A-4, A-5, A-6 and A-7, which are admittedly the original compositions of the defendant in Political Law, Penal Law, International Law and Civil Law, and of Exhibits A-1, A-2 and A-3, which the defendant claimed to be his, are conclusive evidence that all of them are in his own handwriting.
In his motion of May 9, 1927, the defendant stated that:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"He went to review his examinations papers and found certain mistakes in the grades," in which motion he referred to, and claimed, Exhibits A-1, A-2 and A-3 as his own, and the records show that he was the one who personally prepared those exhibits, and that they are false, from which the conclusion is irresistible that he made the falsification and substitution.
The appellant had the use and benefit of able counsel and a well written brief, but the actual facts are conclusive of his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Attorney-General points out that the crime committed is punished by article 301 of the Penal Code, as amended by Act No. 2712, as it related to article 300 of the Code, the penalty for which is prision correccional in its maximum degree and a fine ranging from 250 to 12,500 pesetas, and that in the absence of a mitigating or aggravating circumstance, the medium degree of the penalty of imprisonment should be imposed, or from four years, nine months, and eleven days to five years, four months, and twenty days. For such reasons, the judgment of the lower court is modified and the penalty is increased, and the defendant is sentenced to five years of prision correccional, and in all other respects, the judgment of the lower court is affirmed, with costs. So ordered.
Avanceña, C.J., Johnson, Street, Malcolm, Ostrand and Romualdez, JJ., concur.