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People v Subido

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  People v Abelardo SUBIDO No. L-21734, 5 September 1975, Martin, J.   Facts ã  Abelardo Subido was found guilty of libel by the RTC (see dispositive portion below colored yellow) ã  CA affirmed RTC ruling with modification: However, in the application of the penalty provided for the violation of the libel law, the courts are given discretion of whether or not both fine and imprisonment are to be imposed upon the offender. In the instant case, we believe, considering the attendant circumstances of the case that the imposition of the corresponding penalty should be tempered with judicial discretion. For this reason, we impose upon accused-appellant a fine of P500.00. Similarly, the amount of the indemnity to be paid by appellant to the offended party is reduced to P5,000.00. WHEREFORE, with the modifications above indicated, the appealed judgment is hereby affirmed at appellant's costs. ã   Remanded back to Trial Court for execution of the judgment   ã   27 Setp 1958-Appellant filed motion with the trial-he could not pay the fine-he could not be required to seve the amount of fine and indemnity in the form of subsidiary imprisonment because said judgment did not expressly and specifically provide that he should serve the fine and indemnity in form of subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency   ã   20 Dec 1958-Court issued writ of execution of judgment. Returned unsatisfied   ã   25 Feb 1959-Sheriff of Manila, armed with alias writ of execution, Sta Ana property, but property levied was registered to Agapito Subido, immediately filed a Third party claim with the sheriff’s office and instituted an action in the lower court   ã   10 Dec 1959-offended party registered its opposition to appellant’s motion for cancellation of appeal bond and asked lower court to require appellant to pay the fine   ã   19 Dec 1959-denied appellant, has to suffer subsidiary imprisonment in case he cannot pay the fine and indemnity.   ã    Appellant moved for reconsideration, denied, hence this appeal   ISSUES 1. WoN the accused-appellant can be required to serve the fine and indemnity prescribed in the  judgment of the CA in form of subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency?  YES, but not anymore because of Art. 39 of the RPC as amended by RA No. 5465. RATIO  Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code a libel committed by means of writing, printing, litography, engraving, radio, phonograph, paintings, theatrical exhibition, cinematographic exhibition or any similar means, shall be punished by  prision correccional   in its minimum and medium period or a fine ranging from 200 to 6000 pesos or both, in addition to the civil action which may be brought by the offended party . It is evident from the foregoing provision that the court is given the discretion to impose the penalty of imprisonment or fine or both for the crime of libel . It will be noted that the lower court chose to impose upon the accused: three months of arresto mayor; a fine of P500.00; indemnification of the offended party in the sum of P10,000.00; subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency; and the  payment of the costs. On the other hand, the Court of Appeals in the exercise of its discretion decided to eliminate the penalty of three (3) months arresto mayor   and to reduce the indemnity of P10,000.00 to P5,000.00. To Us it is clear that when the Court of Appeals provided in the concluding portion of its decision: “WHEREUPON, with the modifications above indicated, the appealed judgment is hereby affirmed at appellant's costs the alluded modifications could mean no less than the elimination of the three months of arresto   mayor   and the reduction of the indemnity to the offended party, Mayor Arsenio Lacson, from P10,000.00 to P5,000.00. All the rest of the punishment remains including the subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency . Had the Court wanted to do away with the subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency of accused-appellant to pay the fine and the indemnity it would have so expressly provided.   RTC Ruling: From the facts above stated the Court finds the accused guilty of libel and he is hereby sentenced to three (3) months of arresto mayor with the accessory penalties of the law, to pay a fine of five hundred (P500.00) pesos, to indemnify the offended party, Mayor  Arsenio Lacson in the sum of ten thousand (P10,000.00) pesos, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to pay the costs.  A careful scrutiny of the decision of the trial court reveals that the clause with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency is separated by a comma (,) from the preceding clause is hereby sentenced to three months of arresto mayor with the accessory penalties of the law, to pay a fine of five hundred (P500.00) pesos, to indemnify the offended party, Mayor Arsenio Lacson, in the sum of Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) pesos. The use of a comma (,) in the part of the sentence is to make the subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency refer not only to non-payment of the indemnity, but also to non-payment of the fine. Fortunately, however, accused-appellant is favored by the retroactive force of Article 39 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 5465 which exempts an accused person from subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency to pay his civil liability.  Considering that Article 39 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, is favorable to the accused-appellant, the same should be made applicable to him. It is so provided in Article 22 of the Revised Penal Code that: Penal laws shall have a retroactive effect in so far as they favor the person guilty of a felony, who is not a habitual criminal, as this term is defined in Rule 5 of Article 62 of this Code, although at the time of the publication of such laws a final sentence has been pronounced and the convict is serving sentence. Thus applying Article 39 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, to the accused-appellant, he cannot also be required to serve his civil liability to the offended party in form of subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency because this is no longer required by the aforesaid article.  Accused-appellant contends that he cannot be made to suffer subsidiary imprisonment because his civil liabilit has been satisfied with the attachment secured b the offended art on the roert of   Agapito Subido. He argues that until the final determinations of Civil Case No., his liability for subsidiary imprisonment cannot attach as the determination of whether the accused is solvent or not is a prejudicial question which must first be determined before subsidiary imprisonment may be imposed. Court does not agree. Attachment does not operate as a satisfaction of the judgment on civil liability and the accused must suffer subsidiary imprisonment in case of non-payment thereof. The moment he cannot pay the fine, that means he is insolvent and he must serve the same in form of subsidiary imprisonment. So accused-appellant has to choose to pay the fine or serve in jail. DECISION IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING except with the modification that accused-appellant may no longer be required to suffer subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency to pay the indemnity provided for in the judgment below, the Orders of the lower court dated December 19 and 26, 1959 denying defendant-appellant's motion for cancellation of appeal bond and sentencing him to suffer the subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency to pay the fine imposed by said judgment, are hereby affirmed.
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