G.R. No. L-399: January 29 1948: 80 Phil. 138
Offense Involved: Treason
FACTS: On March, 1945, the accused Eduardo Prieto with other Filipino undercovers and Japanese soldiers caught an American aviator and had the witness carry the American to town on a sled pulled by a carabao; that on the way, the accused walked behind the sled and asked the prisoner if the sled was faster than the airplane; that the American was taken to the Kempetai headquarters, after which he did not know what happened to the flier. The other witness, testified that one day in March, 1945, he saw the accused following an American whose hands were tied; that the accused struck the flier with a piece of rope; that with the American and the accused were Japanese and other Filipinos. Two witnesses gave evidence on count 4 but their statements do not coincide on any single detail. These witnesses evidently referred to two different occasions. The trial court then prosecuted accused-appellant for seven counts of Treason. After pleading not guilty he entered a plea of guilty to counts 1, 2, 3 and 7, and maintained the original plea to counts 4, 5, and 6. The special prosecutor introduced evidence only on count 4, stating with reference to counts 5 and 6 that he did not have sufficient evidence to sustain them. The defendant was found guilty on count 4 as well as counts 1, 2, 3, and 7 and was sentenced to death and to pay the fine. Aggrived, accused-appellant filed this case.
- Whether or not the trial court erred in convicting accused-appellant for Treason?
- Yes. The trial court erred in convicting accused-appellant for Treason. Eduardo Prieto is not guilty of count 4 and guilty of treason as charged in counts 1, 2, 3 and 7. The court held that the evidence of the prosecution does not satisfy the required two-witness rule. The two witnesses failed to corroborate each other not only on the whole overt act but on any part of it. It added that the giving of aid and comfort can only be accomplished by some kind of action. Its very nature partakes of a deed or physical activity as opposed to a mental operation. This deed or physical activity may be, and often is, in itself a criminal offense under another penal statute or provision. Even so, when the deed is charged as an element of treason it becomes identified with the latter crime and can not be the subject of a separate punishment, or used in combination with treason to increase the penalty as article 48 of the Revised Penal Code provides.