Don Sergio Osmeña and the Chinaman

CEBUPEDIA - Clarence Paul Oaminal - The Freeman

Don Sergio Osmeña became governor of Cebu in 1904 succeeding Don Juan Climaco (the first elected Cebuano governor of Cebu). The governor at that time aside being the chief executive of the province also acted the sheriff of the Province.

On September 7, 1906, Uy Piaoco, a Chinaman filed a complaint against Don Sergio Suico Osmeña, the Sheriff of the Court of First Instance of Cebu. The issue of the complaint was that on August 24, 1906 the Judge of the Court of First Instance of the Province of Cebu issued a writ of preliminary attachment upon request of Martina Rodriguez against the property of Chinamen Dy-Siongco and Chiam-Liong.

Don Sergio then levied an attachment on the property belonging to Uy Piaoco, who owned a store situated in Calle del Commercio (now M.C. Briones Avenue), close to that of Norte America (now D. Jakosalem Street). However, the subject of the preliminary attachment (Dy-Siongco and Chiam-Liong) had no interest on the business owned by Uy Piaoco. Don Sergio closed the store of Uy Piaoco, and placed under custody the goods contained therein.

Uy Piaoco demanded that the goods be delivered to him since he was no part of the suit filed by Martina Rodriguez. The store of Uy Piaoco contained a large assortment of goods valued at P15,000. Uy Piaoco stated that his store sells goods amounting to P10,000 per month with a profit of P1,500.

Don Sergio aside from taking custody of the store and its goods in the Municipality of Cebu, he also attached about three hundred bales of tobacco owned by Uy Piaoco stored in Naga, Cebu valued at P1,700.

Don Sergio in answer to the complaint filed against him defended himself by arguing that Uy Piaoco was not the owner of the store and its goods but was owned by the other two Chinese.

During the trial of the case, it was proved that on January 17, 1906 that Chinamen Dy-Siongco, Uy Chiam-Liong and Serafin Uy Piaoco appeared before the American lawyer, Martin M. Levering, a notary public and produced a document of sale, selling all the goods including the furniture owned by Dy and Uy in favor of Serafin Uy Piaoco.

The amount of indebtedness of the two Chinamen in favor of Uy Piaoco was almost P40,000 and some of the goods were deposited in the house of Joaquin Castro y Sia.

To support the claim of good faith and ownership of the goods of Uy Piaoco seized by Don Sergio, was the fact that on the day the deed of sale was ratified by notary public, Uy was able to secure a new license for the store from the Municipal Treasurer of Cebu. A few days later Mr. Jansen, agent of the firm of Behn, Meyer & Co. importers was informed that Uy Piaoco was the new owner store and had taken over the goods formerly owned by the two Chinamen.

Thus when the writ issued by the Court of First Instance on the store and goods it was already eight months since it no longer belonged to Dy and Uy. The case when decided by the Supreme Court on December 4, 1907 (at that time, Don Sergio was already elected as Member of the National Assembly in the first election for congress, in that assembly, Don Sergio was elected as the First Speaker of the Philippine National Assembly, upon vacating the position of Governor of Cebu to run as congressman, he was replaced by Don Dionisio Jakosalem) said that the action of Don Sergio was wrong.

The Supreme Court sentenced Don Sergio to pay Uy Piaoco as indemnity the sum of P900 with interest thereon at the rate of 6 percent per annum from the 24th day of November1906. The goods after the expiration of seventy five days after it was issued were returned to Uy Piaoco. However, the tobacco seized in Naga was not proven to be owned by Uy Piaoco.

Don Sergio Suico Osmeña was represented by Don Domingo Franco who became a lawyer on September 29, 1902 (he also represented Don Martin Llorente in an election protest, the latter was the brother of Governor Julio Llorente). The legal counsel of Uy Piaoco, Martin M. Levering, the American lawyer, business and civic leader of Cebu officially became a member of the Philippine Bar on December 22, 1899.

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