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PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

EN BANC

[G.R. No. 10676. August 25, 1915. ]

THE UNITED STATES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. JOSE VILLARTA, Defendant-Appellant.

Lucero, Cecilio & Guzman for Appellant.

Attorney-General Avanceña for Appellee.

SYLLABUS


1. ESTAFA; FAILURE TO ACCOUNT FOR COLLECTIONS. — The defendant, as president of the municipality of Victoria, and as a member of a committee duly appointed for the purpose of making collections for the construction of a public school building, after having made such collections for said purpose, failed and refused to deliver the amount collected to the proper authorities and later denied that he had received said sum for said purpose, or for any other purpose. Held: That he was guilty of the crime of estafa.


D E C I S I O N


JOHNSON, J.:


This defendant was charged with the crime of estafa. The complaint alleged:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"That on October 11, 1913, the accused, abusing the office which he then held of president of the municipality of Victoria, Province of Tarlac, received from the Chinaman Tiu Loco the sum of P4 under the obligation to deliver it to the municipal treasurer as a voluntary contribution from the said Chinaman for the construction of the public school of the said municipality; but the accused, instead of so doing, did appropriate to himself the said sum to the pre judice of the municipality of Victoria and, furthermore, did, on October 22, 1914, deny ever having received the said sum from the Chinaman aforementioned."cralaw virtua1aw library

Upon said complaint the defendant was duly arrested, arraigned, tried, found guilty of the crime of estafa, and sentenced to be imprisoned for a period of two months and one day of arresto mayor, in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 5 of article 535, and paragraph 1 of article 534 of the Penal Code. He was further sentenced to suffer the accessory penalties of article 61, and to pay the costs. From that sentence the defendant appealed to the Supreme Court.

In this court the appellant presents a very interesting brief, in which he attempts to show that, considering the proof adduced during the trial of the cause, and the law applicable thereto, he is not guilty of the crime charged.

The Attorney-General, in a very well-reasoned brief, ill which he makes a careful analysis of the proof, reaches the conclusion that the defendant is guilty of the crime charged and should suffer not only the period of imprisonment imposed by the lower court, but also the temporary special disqualification provided for under article 399 of the Penal Code.

After a careful examination of the evidence, we find that the following facts are proved, beyond a reasonable doubt:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

1. That on the 11th day of October, 1913, and for some time prior thereto, the defendant was the president of the municipality of Victoria, Province of Tarlac.

2. That some time prior to the said 11th day of October in accordance with the law, the municipal council of the municipality of Victoria authorized the collection of money from the citizens of the said municipality for the purpose of constructing a public school building; that said resolution had been properly affirmed by the proper authorities.

3. That a committee was duly appointed for the purpose of making said collections from the people of said municipality; that the defendant, as municipal president, was one of the members of said committee.

4. That on the 11th day of October, 1913, the defendant went to the store or tienda of one Tiu Loco and solicited from him a contribution to be used in the construction of the said public school; that the said Tiu Loco paid to the defendant the sum of P4 to be used for said purpose.

5. That the defendant, as president of the municipality of Victoria, and as a member of the committee duly appointed for the purpose of making said collections for the purpose above indicated, after having received the said sum of P4 from Tiu Loco, to be used in the construction of a public school, failed and refused to deliver the same to the proper authorities, and later denied that he had ever received said sum for said purpose, or for any other.

6. That while the fact is not important for the decision of the present case, the record shows that a number of the other members of the committee, including the vice-president of said municipality, had made similar collections and had appropriated various sums to their own use, and had been arrested, tried, and convicted of the crime of estafa.

It seems to us to be clear, when the foregoing facts are taken into consideration with paragraph 5 of article 535 of the Penal Code, in its relation with paragraph 1 of article 534, that the defendant is guilty of the crime of estafa. (U. S. v. Dacuycuy, 9 Phil. Rep., 84; U. S. v. Dacuycuy, 9 Phil. Rep., 747; U. S. v. Gallego, 10 Phil. Rep., 222.)

The Attorney-General recommends that the sentence of the lower court be modified and that the defendant be punished with the penalty of temporary special disqualification, in accordance with the provisions of article 399 of the Penal Code. No authority is cited in support of said recommendation. The Attorney-General, however, supports his recommendation with the following argument:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Before beginning to collect the voluntary contributions for the construction of the school, the municipal council, after obtaining permission from the Governor-General, passed a resolution whereby it authorized several persons, among whom was included the municipal president of Victoria, by reason of his office, to take up these contributions; and it cannot be doubted that when the Chinaman Tiu Loco delivered the sum of P4 to the accused, he did so in consideration of the latter’s office which permitted the said accused to ask contributions from private parties for the said school. We are convinced that if the accused, Jose Villarta, had not been municipal president, an office that entitled him to the respect and consideration of his townsmen, he would not have obtained from Tiu Loco that sum of P4, as shown by the said Chinaman’s attitude before the court in always employing the words ’municipal president’ when referring to the accused, Villarta. It is likewise no less certain that, in consideration of the office held by the accused, the Chinaman Tiu Loco did not require of him a receipt for the said sum of P4. The lower court, therefore, should have sentenced the accused, in addition to the penalty it imposed upon him, to that between temporary special disqualification in its maximum degree and perpetual special disqualification."cralaw virtua1aw library

With that argument of the Attorney-General we are inclined to agree. The collection of the funds referred to above was authorized by the Governor-General. The defendant, as president of the municipality, without doubt by virtue of the fact that he was president, was authorized to make collections. The municipal council, when by special resolution it authorized the defendant as municipal president to make collections, did so under the belief that as president, he would be able to render more assistance in the collection of the necessary funds than persons who were not occupying official positions. He accepted the appointment, he collected the funds, representing to the persons from whom he collected them that they were to be used in the construction of a public school. After collecting the same, he not only refused to deliver or turn over said funds to the proper authorities, but denied that he had received the same. It seems clear to us that the defendant, while acting as a public official, took advantage of his position as president of the municipality of Victoria, and should therefore be punished, in addition to the punishment imposed by the lower court, with temporary special disqualification for a period of eleven years and one day.

Therefore, the sentence of the lower court is hereby modified, and the defendant is hereby sentenced to be imprisoned for a period of two months and one day of arresto mayor, in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 5 of article 535. in its relation with paragraph 1 of article 534 of the Penal Code, and to suffer eleven years and one day of temporary special disqualification, in accordance with article 399 of the Penal Code, and to return to the offended person, Tiu Loco, or to the municipal treasurer, the sum of P4 and to pay the costs. and in case of insolvency to suffer subsidiary imprisonment, in accordance with the provisions of the law. So ordered.

Arellano, C.J., Torres, Carson and Araullo, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions


TRENT, J., dissenting:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

I am of the opinion that the judgment should be affirmed without any modification.

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