People of the Philippines vs. Eduardo Prieto, G.R. No. L-399, January 29, 1948, 80 Phil. 138

Fact:
The appellant was prosecuted in the People’s Court for treason on 7 counts. 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 of P20,000.

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.

Issues:
1. Whether the crime of Treason was sufficiently proven by the prosecutor?
2. Whether Treason can be complexed with the crime of Murder?

Held:
1. No, This evidence does not testify the two-witness principle. The two witnesses failed to corroborate each other not only on the whole overt act but on any part of it.
2. In the nature of things, 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.

This rule would not, of course, preclude the punishment of murder or physical injuries as such if the government should elect to prosecute the culprit specifically for those crimes instead on relying on them as an element of treason. it is where murder or physical injuries are charged as overt acts of treason that they can not be regarded separately under their general denomination.

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