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PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 9699. August 26, 1915. ]

THE UNITED STATES, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. JUAN HERNANDEZ ET AL., Defendants-Appellees.

Attorney-General Avanceña for Appellant.

Buencamino & Lontok for Appellees.

SYLLABUS


1. EVIDENCE; JUDICIAL NOTICE; MUNICIPAL ORDINANCES. — The law organizing the judiciary (Act No. 136) confers upon the Courts of First Instance appellate jurisdiction over all cases arising in justices’ and other inferior courts in their respective provinces; and in the exercise of their jurisdiction, and as a means of exercising it, must be included the authority to take judicial notice of the existence of the municipal ordinances in force in their respective districts.

2. ID.; ID.; ID. — There is no provision of law that prohibits the Courts of First Instance from taking judicial notice of the ordinances enacted in the municipalities of their district, or that provides that they cannot exercise such authority whenever it may be necessary to decide the questions submitted to them. On the other hand, the principle has been laid down in decisions on some courts of the sovereign country that in cases analogous to the present one judicial notice must be taken of ordinances in question. (See the cases cited herein.)

3. ID.; ID.; ID.; CERTIFIED COPY OF ORDINANCE. — Under section 313, No. 5, of the Code of Civil Procedure the proceedings of any municipal corporation of the Philippine Islands can be proven by a copy certified by the legal keeper thereof or by a printed book published by the authority of such corporation; hence, a certified copy of a municipal ordinance can be presented as evidence in court.

4. MUNICIPALITIES; LICENSES; FISHING PRIVILEGES. — The right to engage in fishing is a common and general one, but it can be regulated by a municipal corporation under a provision of law or authority granted by the Legislature, being in this case a delegation of the state’s authority to the municipality. By virtue of such authority a municipality may also grant to the inhabitants thereof the exclusive right to fish in the sea within its municipal boundaries.

Per CARSON, J., concurring:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

5. EVIDENCE; JUDICIAL NOTICE; MUNICIPAL ORDINANCES. — While the doctrine touching proof of the enactment and the contents of municipal ordinances is properly applicable to the case at bar and analogous cases, the general doctrine would appear to be that set forth in the citation from textbook authority copied into the concurring opinion.


D E C I S I O N


ARAULLO, J.:


The defendants named above were sentenced in the justice of the peace court of Batangas, of the province of the same name, for infraction of a municipal ordinance regulating fishing privileges. They appealed from the judgment and the cases against them were carried to the Court of First Instance of said province, wherein the provincial fiscal filed complaints against the said defendants, one on October 1, 1913, against Juan Hernandez, Lorenzo Claus, Donato Dimasacat, Crisanto Como, Pedro Hermedilla, Rosalio Antenor, Fausto Godoy, Gabriel Bartolome, Eulalio Driz, and Manuel Godoy to form case No. 2371, and three against Cornelio Arellano on August 6 of the same year, 1913, which were the bases of cases Nos. 2372, 2383, and 2409.

The first of said complaints is couched in the following terms:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"The undersigned provincial fiscal in the above-entitled cause, brought into this Court of First Instance on appeal, charges Juan Hernandez, Lorenzo Claus, Donato Dimasacat, Crisanto Como, Pedro Hermedilla, Rosalio Antenor, Fausto Godoy, Gabriel Bartolome, Eulalio Driz and Manuel Godoy with infraction of a municipal ordinance, committed as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"In the night of March 2 of the current year, 1913, in the barrio of Pinamucan, municipality of Batangas, Batangas, in the jurisdiction of this Court of First Instance, the said defendants fished by torch light with small hand-nets in a portion of the sea marked off as No. 106, intended for a, fish weir and leased for that purpose to Lino Mendoza who at that time had no weir installed in that portion of the sea, without the knowledge or consent of said lessee; and in this way they caught fish as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

Juan Hernandez, to the value of P2.00

Lorenzo Claus, 2.00

Donato Dimasacat, 2.00

Crisanto Como, 2.00

Pedro Hermedilla, 0.40

Rosalio Antenor, 0.40

Fausto Godoy, 0.40

Gabriel Bartolome, 0.40

Manuel Godoy, 0.40

Eulalio Driz, 0.40

"An act performed in violation of article 10, in connection with article 15, of municipal ordinance No. 4, regulating fishing privileges, of the municipality of Batangas."cralaw virtua1aw library

One of the complaints filed against Cornelio Arellano is to the following effect:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"The undersigned provincial fiscal, in the above-entitled cause, brought into this Court of First Instance on appeal, charges Cornelio Arellano with ’infraction of a municipal ordinance,’ committed as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"On or about April 27 of the current year, 1913, in the barrio of Pinamucan of the municipality of Batangas, Batangas, in the jurisdiction of this Court of First Instance, the defendant, although provided with a license for fishing on the surface of the water in accordance with section 14 of municipal ordinance No. 4 of Batangas regulating fishing privileges, did maliciously fish with a small drag-net, called a bayacus, in the portion of the sea set apart for fish weirs, marked off as No. 111, without the knowledge or consent of Lino Mendoza who is the lawful grantee of said portion of the sea, even though he had not then placed any fish weir there; the defendant having caught fish to the value of P14, which constitutes an infraction of section 10 of said ordinance, penalized by section 15 thereof."cralaw virtua1aw library

The other two complaints filed against the same Arellano are identical with the foregoing and refer to the same offense, although they state that the defendant made use of a contrivance for fishing called alangang munti, and that said fishing was carried on in weirs Nos. 112 and 113 in one instance and in weirs Nos. 111 and 112 in the other.

Counsel for the defendants filed a demurrer in case No. 2371 on the ground that the fasts alleged therein did not constitute a crime or infraction, because the ordinance in question was unconstitutional, illegal and inapplicable and that the acts alleged in the complaint were not penalized by said ordinance, and therefore he prayed for dismissal of the ease, with costs de officio. An identical prayer for dismissal had also been previously made on the same grounds by the defendant Arellano in each of the three cases instituted against him. After a hearing in the four cases had been granted to the fiscal who opposed the foregoing motion, the Court of First Instance of Batangas on January 20, 1914, issued in No. 2371 a single order for each and all of the said eases, dismissing the four complaints and assessing the costs de officio, cancelling the bond filed by the defendants for their release and directing that a copy of the same order be annexed to the other eases instituted against Arellano. Said dismissal was based on the finding that section 10 of the ordinance in question was an illegal provision and consequently null and void and of no force or effect, and that even though the validity and legality of said section should be admitted, the infraction thereof was not included in the penal sanction prescribed in section 16 of the same ordinance.

The judgment set forth was appealed from by the prosecution and said cases have been brought up to this Supreme Court by virtue of that appeal. In a single brief filed by the Attorney-General in support of said appeal in the four cases mentioned, it is maintained that the trial court erred: (1) In taking judicial notice in its order of January 20, 1914, of the existence of ordinance No. 4 of the municipality of Batangas; (2) in discussing in said order the validity and legality of the provisions of said ordinance; (3) in declaring section 10 of ordinance No. 4 of the municipality of Batangas illegal and null and void; and (4) in finally dismissing the complaints filed in cases Nos. 2371, 2372. -2383, and 2409.

Section 10 of the municipal ordinance cited in the complaint as violated reads thus: "Any person provided with a license for a fish weir, even though he does not install it, may utilize for his exclusive fishing by means of a net the space of 50 meters set apart for his weir, and no other fisherman shall disturb him in this privilege or make use of said area without his knowledge and consent."cralaw virtua1aw library

Section 15 of the same ordinance, also cited in the said complaints, likewise reads: "Any person who makes use of the concession for fishing on the surface of the water without the corresponding license shall upon conviction be punished by a fine not exceeding two hundred pesos (P200) Conant or by imprisonment for not more than six (6) months in the discretion of the court according to the seriousness of the offense."cralaw virtua1aw library

The Attorney-General says in connection with the first assignment of error in his brief that while Act No. 183, known as the Manila Charter, as amended in section 42 by Act No. 612, provides that the municipal court of Manila, as well as the Court of First Instance of Manila, shall take judicial notice of the existence of all the municipal ordinances enacted by the municipal board of the city of Manila, yet in Act No. 82, called the Municipal Code, that is, the law organizing the municipalities of the Philippine Islands, with the exception of the city of Manila, there is no provision similar to the one above cited, and this silence in said Act demonstrates that the Courts of First Instance in the provinces cannot and must not take judicial notice of the existence of municipal ordinances, even when it takes cognizance of an infraction thereof on appeal from a judgment by the justice of the peace.

It is true that there does not appear in Act No. 82, to wit, the so-called Municipal Code, any provision analogous to that contained in Act No. 183, known as the Manila Charter, with reference to the point mentioned, but this silence cannot be taken to mean that it was the intention of the legislator to deprive the Courts of First Instance in the provinces of these Islands of the authority conferred, not by Act No. 136, to wit, the law organizing the judiciary of the Philippine Islands, but by the organic act of the city of Manila, for the reason that, according to the said law organizing the judiciary (section 57), both the Courts of First Instance of the provinces and of Manila have appellate jurisdiction over all cases arising in justices’ and other inferior courts of their respective provinces; and there is no reason for making between the various courts distinctions that said Organic Act does not make for the exercise of their jurisdiction and the means of exercising it, among which must be included the authority to take judicial notice of the existence of the municipal ordinances in force in their respective districts. And we do not think that the fact that no provision even tacitly so providing is found among the provisions o
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