People vs Kong Leon - Full Case
[No. 3906-R. January 17, 1950] The People of the Philippines, plaintiff and appellee, vs. Kong Leon alias Kim Huy, defendant and appellant. 1. Criminal Law; Counterfeiting of Foreign Coin; Act Punishable ALTHOUGH THE SAID COIN IS WITHDRAWN FROM CntCULAtion; Art. 163, Revised Penal Code; Reason for the Law. — If under articles 296 and 297 if the Spanish Penal Code of 1870 from which the law punishing the fabrication and uttering of counterfeit coins (article 163, Revised Penal Code) is evidently derived, the fabrication of a local (Spanish) coin withdrawn
from circulation is punishable, it stands to reason that the counterfeiting of foreign coin, even if withdrawn from circulation in the foreign country of its origin, should also be punishable, because the reason for punishing the fabrication of a local coin withdrawn from circulation is not alone the harm caused to the public by the fact that it may go into circulation, but the danger that a counterfeiter produces by his stay in the country, and the possibility that he may later apply his trade to making of coins in actual circulation. (See 4 Viada, pp. 23-26.) 2. Id.; Id.; Evidence; Judicial Notice of Acts of U. S. Congress Relating to Currency. — Since article 163, paragraph 3, of the Revised Penal Code punishes the fabrication or utterance of counterfeited coin, which is "currency of a foreign country", the legal duty of the court to enforce and apply the said penal provision in a case for counterfeiting U. S. gold dollar coins, gives it the corresponding authority and obligation to take judicial notice of the acts of the Congress of the United States and the executive orders and departmental regulations relating to the currency of said country. The principle has already been laid down by our Supreme Court in the case of U. S. vs. Clemente, 24, Phil., 178, with respect to municipal ordinances, and we believe that its application to a foreign law, instead of a municipal ordinance, is the same, for, paraphrasing the decision of our Supreme Couz-t in that case, the law of the United States on its currency became a part of the general law (article 163, paragraph 3, Revised Penal Code), which our courts of justice are bound to apply and enforce. 3. Foreign Laws; U. S. Gold Reserve Act of 1934; Efff,ct of the
Law. — A study of the provisions of the United States Gold Reserve Act of 1934 discloses that their effect is to withdraw United States gold coins from circulation, although there is no intent to outlaw their use and possession under rules and regulations that may be promulgated therefor. (United States Statutes at Large, Vol. 48, Part 1, pp. 337-340; Farber vs. United States, 114, Fed., (2d) 5, 7, 8.) APPEAL from a judgment of the Court of First Instance of Manila. Natividad, J. The facts are stated in the opinion of the court. Leonardo G. Marquez for appellant. Assistant Solicitor General Ruperto Kapiman, Jr. and Solicitor Adolf o BriUantes for appellee. Labrador, The accused-appellant herein is a goldsmith with a shop at No. 622 Bambang Street, City of Manila, established after liberation and long before April 27, 1947. Prior to this date the police had received information from Moro Arais Mansu that appellant was selling illegally fabricated United States gold dollar coins. So on that day the police, headed by Lt. Vicente Verzosa and duly provided with a search warrant, proceeded to search appellant's shop and person. Before the search Lieutenant Verzosa had sent ahead Moro Mansu to pretend buying dollar coins from appellant. In fact, when the police reached appellant's place at about half past four in the afternoon of April 27,
. 666 OFFICIAL GAZETTE VOL. 48, No. 2 , ___ . 1947, Moro Arais Mansu was in the kitchen of appellant's place talking with the latter. The place searched was a veritable goldsmith shop. One work table was in public view, and another was in a small room which had a shingle with the following inscription: "Fitting Room." This room was originally occupied by a Chinese tailor, who had gone to China three months before. After he left, the room was occupied by a Filipino tailor, but who was no longer using the room or the place outside, although there were manikins still outside of said fitting room. As the police searched the shop, they found goldsmith tools on the table inside the fitting room (t. s. n., p. 20) , namely, a balance, a box containing a hammer, file etc., a hand saw, a piece of metal, a small bottle, a small bottle of mercury, an anvil, a hand vise, one set of weights, galvanized iron tubes, a jeweler's anvil, a blower, some
Filipino coins, and a box with pieces of gold with false stones (Exhibits A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, and O). The search was not made of No. 622 Bambang Street alone, but also of No. 566, because the police suspected that it was in this store and through its keepers that the appellant effected the sales of his illegally fabricated coins. Nothing material, however, was found in these premises, and the store owners or keepers, although brought to the police station for investigation, were not indicted. Among the articles found in the table inside the "Fitting Room," aside from the goldsmith implements already set forth above as Exhibits A to O, the police also found a gold foil (Exhibit P), a gold nagget (Exhibit G), 15 onecentavo pieces (Exhibit R), a French gold coin, ten fivedollar American gold coins with pins and one without pin (Exhibit T), one unfinished five-dollar coin (Exhibit U), 2 unfinished ten-dollar U. S. gold coins (Exhibit V). According to Lieutenant Verzosa, he also searched the person of the appellant and found in the latter's pocket eight pieces of twenty-dollar U. S. gold coins wrapped in paper (Exhibit W). All of these articles were seized by the police and brought to the station, with the appellant and the two Chinamen at 566 Bambang. At the police station appellant was subjected to questioning, through Justo Chan Lu Cuy, a Chinese interpreter, a member of the police department of the city. The questions propounded to appellant through said interpreter and his answer thereto were taken down in writing. After the investigation the appellant signed the statement in the presence of the police and the interpreter, both of whom signed as witnesses. This statement was presented at the trial as Exhibit Y, and in it appellant expressly admits having fabricated the eight pieces of finished dollar coins, the unfinished five-dollar and the two unfinished ten-
February, 1952 OFFICIAL GAZETTE 667
dollar pieces (Yaon walong pirasong dollar na yari, dalawang (10 dollar) na hindi pa yari at isang pirasong (5dollar) na hindi pa yari, ay gawa ko). The gold pieces, naggets, and coins were referred to a chemist of the Manila Police Department. He found that most of the gold dollar coins were genuine, but the unfinished coin marked Exhibit U, the two unfinished tendollar gold coins marked Exhibit V, and the eight twentydollar coins wrapped in paper and marked Exhibit W were all counterfeit, not being legitimate coins of the United States as they seem to be. According to the
chemist, genuine gold coins are produced by impression, but the said coins (marked Exhibits U, V, and W, and identified as Exhibits 4, 5, and 2, respectively, in the Chemist's Report) were not so fabricated, but by the use of molds and then filed away, marks of filing at the edges were seen through the use of stereoscope. He also determined their gold content by their specific gravity, and he found that they were only 16 to 17 karats, whereas genuine U. S. gold dollars are 18 karats. Appellant admitted that the goldsmith parapharnelia were his, and that the genuine coins also belonged to him, and that they were taken from the drawers of his table. But he denied ownership of the unfinished gold coins, Exhibits U and V, or of the eight pieces of finished twentydollar U. S. gold coins, or that the latter were found in his person. He claimed that he occupied only a space of one by three meters square in front of the store, and that he never went inside the fitting room. In support of his claim that the eight gold coins were not found in his person, Detective Benito Maloles, one of those who accompanied Lieutenant Verzosa in the search, declared that when the latter searched the person of appellant, he was in front, and that the eight pieces were not then found in appellant's person. Another witness corroborated his testimony in this respect, one Romy Lacorte, the wife of a Chinaman who was living near the appellant's shop. On the basis of the above evidence the Court of First Instance of Manila declared appellant guilty of a violation of article 163, paragraph 3, of the Revised Penal Code, and sentenced him to an indeterminate sentence of not less than two (2) months of arresto mayor, nor more than one (1) year, one (1) month, and eleven (11) days of prision correctional, to the accessory penalties provided by law, to a fine of P500, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to pay the costs. Against this judgment appellant has prosecuted this appeal, assigning the following errors in his brief : "1. The lower court erred in entertaining and admitting in evidence appellant's written admission of guilt, marked as affidavit Y, over and above the objection interposed by counsel for the defense.
"2. The lower court erred in finding that (1) Exhibit W was found in the pocket of appellant and (2) that Exhibits U, V, and other coins were found in the tailor's fitting room at 622 Bambang Street, Manila; which finding was based upon the uncorroborated, intrinsically weak and doubtful testimony of Lieutenant Verzoza. "3. The lower court erred in finding and holding that the five coins in question hereby belonged to appellant; that he manufactured some of them; that said coins were sold by him in a store at 622 Bambang Street, Manila.
"4. The lower court erred in not holding that the disputed coins were not proven to be counterfeit, beyond reasonable doubt. "5. The lower court erred in not holding that appellant can not be held liable and punishable under the legal provision relied upon, paragraph 3, article 163 of the Revised Penal Code; and in not dismissing outright this case. "6. The lower court erred in not acquitting the appellant upon ground of reasonable doubt on the question of facts, and/or in not dismissing this case outright of the question of law." The claim made in appellant's first assignment to the effect that appellant's written statement, Exhibit Y, was improperly admitted because it is hearsay, is without merit. Said statement was made and was signed by appellant himself, in answer to questions propounded to him, and constitutes a confession as defined in section 14 of Rule 123 of the Rules of Court. The interpreter is not the one who made the statements ; it was appellant himself, through interpretation. The case of U. S. vs. Chu Chia, 6 Phil., 260, refers to a supposed confession made to an interpreter, which is testified to by another witness, not the interpreter. It is evident that in this case the testimony is hearsay. Appellant's statement, however, is in writing and is signed by him; it certainly is not hearsay, but his own confession. In appellant's second assignment of error it is claimed that the testimony of Lieutenant Verzosa that he found the eight pieces of ten-dollar gold coins, Exhibit W, should not be believed because it is contradicted by those of the witnesses for the defense, and because it is immoral to admit the same, the transaction relating thereto having been induced by said lieutenant, and that his testimony as to the others, Exhibits U and V, should neither be believed under the principle of falsus in uno falsus in omnibus. It is not true that there is nothing in the record to corroborate Lieutenant Verzosa's testimony that he found the eight pieces of gold coins in appellant's pocket ; in the confession of the appellant, Exhibit Y, he expressly admits that he made them (sui?ra) . On the other hand, the testimony of Detective Maloles is not clear. Thus he said: The Fiscal: Q. And the eight pieces of 10-dollar U. S. gold coins which, you said were found in a box outside the tailor fitting room? — A. There is misunderstanding, because it is not eight pieces that were found in the room but two pieces were found outside at 566 Bambang in the boxes of Kong Leong.
"Q. What were those found in a box outside? — A. In the drawer. "Q. What were those? — A. The eight pieces of gold; two pieces were taken from outside." (T. s. n., pp. 40-41, session of June 15, 1948.) So that Detective Maloles believes that the eight ten-dollar gold coins were taken from appellant's shop. Assuming, therefore, that Lieutenant Verzosa's testimony is incorrect, in so far as the place where the eight ten-dollar pieces were found, that does not mean that they were not found in the possession of appellant, as the latter had admitted and Detective Maloles asserted. The discrepancy is immaterial because appellant had possession and control thereof anyway. The contention that Lieutenant Verzosa's testimony is immoral under the principle contained in People vs. Abella, 46 Phil., 857, does not lie in the case at bar. Lieutenant Verzosa had ordered Moro Arais Mansu to pretend to buy U. S. gold coins from the appellant, not to induce appellant to counterfeit them and then sell them to him. Moro Arais Mansu was supposed to buy legitimate coins, and appellant was expected to bring out his counterfeit coins instead. There was, therefore, no inducement to commit an offense. It was a simple trick to catch the appellant in flagrante. In appellant's third assignment of error it is argued that there was no proof that he owned the fitting room, or that he manufactured the gold coins in question. Lieutenant Verzosa testified that all the goldsmith implements were found on a table in the fitting room (t. s. n., pp. 15, 20). At the time of the investigation appellant admitted the room to be his (Ibid., p. 15). He also admits ownership of the implements found on the table in this room, and they could not have been anybody else's because the tailor was no longer occupying the room, and because the implements were those of a goldsmith and not of a tailor. No one in said premises was a goldsmith but appellant. To our mind the above circumstantial evidence proves beyond peradventure of a doubt that the room was appellant's and the parapharnelia found therein, together with the unfinished coins, Exhibits U and V, also found therein, are his. Neither can the argument that there was no proof that the fake coins were fabricated by appellant be given
any weight whatever. Again, the circumstantial evidence proves the fact beyond any dispute. Appellant was a goldsmith by profession. He had a shop and all the implements and materials used in the trade. The making of coins is something entirely within the scope of his knowledge and ability. The counterfeit coins were found in his working table. He admitted having made them in his statement before the police (Exhibit Y). All these 26571 12
VOL. 48, No. 2
also constitute proof beyond reasonable doubt that he made the counterfeit coins. It is not necessary that somebody testify to having seen appellant fabricating coins. The above circumstances, in the absence of a satisfactory explanation on his part as to how he came into possession of the coins, show beyond doubt that he did fabricate them, in the same manner that the unexplained possession of recently stolen articles proves that thereof. The fifth assignment of error raises the legal contention that gold coins have ceased to be a currency of the United States by the operation of the provisions of the United States Gold Reserve Act of 1934, and that the appellant may not, therefore, be considered guilty of a violation of article 163, paragraph 3, of the Revised Penal Code. The learned judge of the trial court held that the provisions of the said Act of the Congress of the United States, known as the Gold Reserve Act of 1934 (G. R. 6976, Public, No. 87), only withdraw gold coins from circulation temporarily, but did not declare them as illegal or valueless, or no longer currency or legal tender. The Solicitor General, in support of the judgment of conviction, argues that only the circulation of gold coins was suspended, as may be seen from the title of the Act. No evidence was admitted in the course of the trial in the court below as to the United States statute in question, and ordinarily we may not take judicial cognizance thereof. In view of the fact, however, that article 163, paragraph 3, of the Revised Penal Code punishes the fabrication or utterance of counterfeited coin, which is "currency of a foreign country," our legal duty to enforce and apply the said penal
provision gives us the corresponding authority and obligation to take judicial notice of the acts of the Congress of the United States and the executive orders and departmental regulations relating to the currency of said country. The use of the term "foreign currency" in the penal statute, in order to be applied and enforced in this jurisdiction, requires us to know the laws of the foreign country to determine what the currency is. The principle has already been laid down by our Supreme Court in the case of U. S. vs. Clemente, 24 Phil., 178, with respect to municipal ordinances, and we believe that its application to a* foreign law, instead of a municipal ordinance, is the same, for, paraphrasing the decision of our Supreme Court in that case, the law of the United States on its currency became a part of the general law (article 163), paragraph 3, Revised Penal Code) , which our courts of justice are bound to apply and enforce. A study of the provisions of the United States Gold Reserve Act of 1934 discloses that their effect is to withdraw United States gold coins from circulation, although
there is no intent to outlaw their use and possession under rules and regulations that may be promulgated therefor. This may be inferred from the following provisions of the said Act: AN ACT TO PROTECT THE CURRENCY SYSTEM OF THE UNITED STATES, TO PROVIDE FOR THE BETTER USE OF THE MONETARY GOLD STOCK OF THE UNITED STATES, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.