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Eduardo was charged, along with Erasmo, Apolonio and Bonifacio, with Theft of coconut trees in

Candelaria, Quezon. According to the prosedution, at around 11:00 oclock in the morning February 1,
2002, Ernesto, the overseer of the land belonging to Engr. Menandro Avanzado, saw Eduardo and seven
others cutting down coconut trees on the property. He did not stop the men, instead he reported the

Evidence: incident
Not 3,By
to Menandro.
They reported the incident
on February
2002 toItself,
the police station. Accompanied
SPOI Florentino
Manalo, they proceeded
to the property, only
to discover
that 33 coconut trees had
Render A byWitness'
been felled.
In his defense, Eduardo presented his brother-in-law, Atanacio and other witnesses to prove
Of Evidentiary
his innocence. According to Atanacio, he authorised his brothers-in-law Eduardo and Erasmo to cut the
trees in his property, which was adjacent to the property owned by Mendandro. He admitted not having
set foot on the property for 20 years. Bgy. Capt Arguelles testified that Eduardo and Erasmo came to his
office to seek permission to cut the trees planted on the land of Atanacio. On the other hand, the
accused denied the charges against them. They claimed that only the trees belonging to the lad of
Atanacio were cut by them. Bonifacio claimed being a coco lumber trader who did not participate in the
felling of the trees. The RTC, however, convicted them for simple theft, in view of the positive
identification by Ernesto. It did not believe the testimony of Atanacio, who it branded as a biased witness
in view of his relationship to Eduardo and Erasmo. On appeal to the CA, the latter affirmed the RTC
ruling. The mere fact that accuse cut the trees from the land of Menandro and turned them into coco
lumber showed intent to gain. Thus, Eduardo elevated his case to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court:
The petition is impressed with merit.
It is a time-honored rule that the assessment of the trial court with regard to the credibility of witnesses
deserves the utmost respect, if not finality, for the reason that the trial judge has the prerogative, denied
to appellate judges, of observing the demeanor of the declarants in the course of their testimonies.
Though it is true that the trial courts evaluation of the credibility of witnesses and their testimonies is
entitled to great respect and will not be disturbed on appeal, this rule, however, is not a hard and fast
one. The exception is observed if there is a showing that the trial judge overlooked, misunderstood, or
misapplied some fact or circumstance of weight and substance that would have cast doubt on the guilt
of the accused.[1] The said exception apparently exists in the case at bench.
It is the statutory definition that generally furnishes the elements of each crime under the RPC, while the
elements in turn unravel the particular requisite acts of execution and accompanying criminal intent. In
the case at bench, petitioner Magsumbol and his co-accused were convicted by the CA of the crime of
theft of damaged property under paragraph (2) of Article 308 of the RPC which provides:
Art. 308. Who are liable for theft.: xxxx
Theft is likewise committed by:
1. xxxxx;
2. Any person who, after having maliciously damaged the property of another, shall remove or make use
of the fruits or object of the damage caused by him; and xxx.
[Emphasis Supplied]
To warrant a conviction under the aforecited provision for theft of damaged property, the prosecution