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Date of promulgation: September 5, 1975 Ponente: Justice Martin Nature of case: APPEAL from the orders of the Court of First Instance of Manila Facts: Trial court found Abelardo Subido guilty of libel. o Sentence: 3 months of arresto mayor with the accessory penalties of the law Pay fine of P500.00 Indemnify offended party, Mayor Arsenio Lacson, P10,000.00 Subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency Pay the costs Court of Appeals modified the judgment. o No arresto mayor o Indemnity reduced to 5,000.00 o NO MENTION of subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency o Remanded case to trial court for execution of judgment September 27, 1958: Subido filed a motion with the trial court o Prayed that: The court enter of record that the CA’s judgment has been promulgated His appeal bond be cancelled o Argument: although he could not pay the fine + indemnity prescribed in the CA’s judgment, he could NOT be required to serve the amount of fine + indemnity in the form of subsidiary imprisonment because said judgment did NOT expressly and specifically provide that he should serve the fine + indemnity in the form of subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency December 20, 1958: lower court issued a writ of execution of its judgment BUT it was returned unsatisfied February 25, 1959: the Sheriff of the City of Manila, armed with an alias writ of execution, attached “whatever rights, interests, or participation, if any, defendant Abelardo Subi do may have” in a 2-storey building situated at No. 2313 Suter, Sta. Ana, Manila, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 54170 of the Register of Deeds of Manila. o HOWEVER, it turned out that the property levied upon by the sheriff was registered in the name of Agapito Subido Upon learning of the levy, Agapito… Filed a 3rd party claim with the sheriff’s office Instituted an action in the lower court to enjoin the sheriff from proceeding with the sale of his property Lower court issued a writ of preliminary injunction enjoining the sale of the property December 10, 1959: the offended party… o Registered its opposition to Abelardo’s motion for cancellation of appeal bond o Asked lower court to require Abelardo to pay the fine of P500.00 + indemnity of P5,000.00 with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency December 19, 1959: lower court… o Issued an order denying Abelardo’s motion o Declared that in accordance with the terms of the CA’s judgment, Abelardo has to suffer subsidiary imprisonment in case he could not pay the fine + indemnity prescribed in the decision December 26, 1959: Abelardo’s motion for reconsideration was denied Abelardo appealed, pressing that the lower court erred… o In holding that under the terms of the CA’s decision, he is liable to (sic) subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency o In not holding that his civil liability has been satisfied with the attachment secured by the offended party
00) pesos. .000. to indemnify the offended party. 39 of the Revised Penal Code.” Use of comma = “with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency” refers to BOTH non-payment of fine AND non-payment of indemnity If no comma = “with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency” would refer to non-payment of indemnity only No plausible reason why the lower court would want Abelardo to suffer subsidiary imprisonment in case of non-payment of indemnity only.WON Abelardo can be required to serve the fine + indemnity prescribed in the judgment of the Court of Appeals in the form subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency Ruling: EXCEPT with the modification that Abelardo may no longer be required to suffer subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency to pay the indemnity provided for in the judgment below. shall be punished by prision correccional in its minimum and medium period OR a fine ranging from 200 to 6. printing. reproduced in full: “From the facts above stated the Court finds the accused guilty of libel and he is thereby sentenced to three (3) months of arresto mayor with the accessory penalties of the law.000. theatrical exhibition. 22 of the Revised Penal Code: “Penal laws shall have a retroactive effect in so far as they favor the person guilty of a felony.00 + Indemnity of P5. to pay a fine of five hundred (P500. engraving. with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. wherein he was supposed to have an interest.” Supreme Court: The alluded modifications could mean no less than the elimination of arresto mayor and reduction of indemnity to offended party.00 Concluding portion of decision: “WHEREUPON. Had the CA wanted to do away with the subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. In the interpretation of a penal statute.” o The court is given discretion to impose the penalty of imprisonment OR fine OR both for the crime of libel.000 pesos OR both. as amended by R. BUT Abelardo is favored by the retroactive force of Art.” o Abelardo CANNOT be required to serve his civil liability to the offended party in the form of subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency because this is no longer required. here’s the dispositive portion of the trial court’s decision. Reasoning: Under Art. o Lower court: 3 months of arresto mayor + fine of P500. All the rest of the punishment remains.000. “a libel committed by means of writing. o Penal statutes are to be strictly construed against the government and liberally in favor of the accused. paintings. in addition to the civil action which may be brought by the offended party. it’s time for a GRAMMAR LESSON c/o the Supreme Court! First.00 + subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency + payment of costs o CA: Fine of P500.00) pesos. Mayor Arsenio Lacson. the tendency is to give it careful scrutiny.A. 355 of the Revised Penal Code.000.00) pesos. lithography. No. Until the final determinations of the civil case Agapito filed to enjoin the Sheriff of Manila from proceeding with the sale of his property. the appealed judgment is hereby affirmed at appellant’s costs. “he is thereby sentenced…in the sum of ten thousand (P10. And now. 5465. Abelardo contended that he could not be made to suffer subsidiary imprisonment because his civil liability had been satisfied with the attachment secured by the offended party on Agapito’s property. which exempts an accused person from subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency to pay his civil liability.00 + indemnity of P10. Art. it would have so expressly provided. Abelardo’s liability for subsidiary imprisonment cannot at tach as the determination of WON he is solvent is a prejudicial question which must first be determined before subsidiary imprisonment may be imposed. who is not a habitual criminal…although at the time of the publication of such laws a final sentence has been pronounced and the convict is serving sentence. and to construe it with such strictness as to safeguard the rights of the defendant. radio. including the subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. in the sum of ten thousand (P10. cinematographic exhibition or any similar means. the Orders of the lower court denying his motion for cancellation of appeal bond and sentencing him to suffer subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency to pay the fine imposed by said judgment are hereby affirmed. phonograph. and to pay the costs. with the modifications above indicated.” o The clause “with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency” is SEPARATED BY A COMMA from the preceding clause.
there must be prior determination of the question of solvency of the accused. . There is nothing in the law that before subsidiary imprisonment may attach. Subsidiary imprisonment applies when the offended is insolvent. that means he is insolvent and he must serve the same in form of subsidiary imprisonment. The moment he cannot pay the fine. So Agapito has to choose: pay the fine OR serve in jail. Abelardo must suffer subsidiary imprisonment in case of non-payment thereof.o Supreme Court: attachment does NOT operate as a satisfaction of the judgment of civil liability.