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Luis Marcos Laurel v Hon.

Zeus Abrogar
Posted on June 29, 2013
Luis Marcos Laurel vs Hon. Zeus Abrogar
GR No. 155076
January 13, 2009

FACTS
Laurel was charged with Theft under Art. 308 of the RPC for allegedly taking,
stealing, and using PLDT's international long distance calls by conducting
International Simple Resale (ISR) a method of outing and completing international
long-distance calls using lines, cables, antennae, and/or air wave frequency which
connect directly to the local/domestic exchange facilities of the country where the call
is destined. PLDT alleged that this service was stolen from them using their own
equipment and caused damage to them amounting to P20,370,651.92.
PLDT alleges that the international calls and business of providing telecommunication
or telephone service are personal properties capable of appropriation and can be
objects of theft.
ISSUE
WON Laurel's act constitutes Theft
HELD
Art.308, RPC: Theft is committed by any person who, with intent to gain but without
violence against, or intimidation of persons nor force upon things, shall take personal
property of another without the latters consent.
Elements of Theft under Art.308, RPC:
1. There be taking of Personal Property;
2. Said Personal Property belongs to another;
3. Taking be done with Intent to Gain;
4. Taking be done without the owners consent;
5. No violence against, or intimidation of, persons or force upon things
Personal Property anything susceptible of appropriation and not included in Real
Property
Thus, the term personal property as used in Art.308, RPC should be interpreted in
the context of the Civil Code's definition of real and personal property.
Consequently,any personal property, tangible or intangible, corporeal or
incorporeal, capable of appropriation may be the subject of theft (*US v Carlos; US v
Tambunting; US v Genato*), so long as the same is not included in the enumeration of
Real Properties under the Civil Code.
The only requirement for personal property to capable of theft, is that it be subject to
appropriation.
Art. 416 (3) of the Civil Code deems Forces of Nature which are brought under
the control of science, as Personal Property.
The appropriation of forces of nature which are brought under control by science can
be achieved by tampering with any apparatus used for generating or measuring such
forces of nature, wrongfully redirecting such forces of nature from such apparatus, or
using any device to fraudulently obtain such forces of nature.
In the instant case, the act of conducting ISR operations by illegally connecting
various equipment or apparatus to PLDTs telephone system, through which petitioner
is able to resell or re-route international long distance calls using PLDTs facilities
constitute Subtraction.
Moreover, interest in business should be classified as personal property since it is
capable of appropriation, and not included in the enumeration of real properties.
Therefore, the business of providing telecommunication or telephone service are
personal property which can be the object of theft under Art. 308 of the RPC. The act
of engaging in ISR is an act of subtraction penalized under the said article.
While international long-distance calls take the form of electrical energy and may be
considered as personal property, the said long-distance calls do not belong to PLDT
since it could not have acquired ownership over such calls. PLDT merely encodes,
augments, enhances, decodes and transmits said calls using its complex
communications infrastructure and facilities.
Since PLDT does not own the said telephone calls, then it could not validly claim that
such telephone calls were taken without its consent.
What constitutes Theft is the use of the PLDT's communications facilities without
PLDT's consent. The theft lies in the unlawful taking of the telephone services &
businesses.
The Amended Information should be amended to show that the property subject of the
theft were services and business of the offended party.

















LUIS MARCOS P. LAUREL VS. HON, ZEUS C. ABROGAR etc, et al.
G.R. NO. 155076, JANUARY 13, 2009

THEFT

Facts:
Petitioner Luis P. Laurel is charged with the crime of theft under Article 308 of the RPC. Under the
facts, petitioner, with intent to gain and without consent from Philippine Long Distance
Telephone(PLDT), stole and use the international long distance calls belonging to PLDT by
conducting International Simple Resale (ISR), which is a method of routing and completing
international long distance calls using lines, cables, antennae, and/or air wave frequency which
connect directly to the local or domestic exchange facilities of the country where the call is destined,
effectively stealing this business from PLDT. Petitioner filed a motion to quash, on the ground that
the factual allegations in the Amended
Information do not constitute the felony of theft. The trial court denied the motion. Petitioners special
civil action for certiorari was dismissed by the Court of Appeals. Thus, petitioner filed the instant
petition for review with this Court.

Issue:

Is petitioners act constitute theft of respondent PLDTs business and service?

Ruling:

Yes.
Under Article 308 of RPC, Theft is committed by any person who, with intent to gain but without
violence against, or intimidation of persons nor force upon things, shall take personal property
of another without the latters consent.
Since the passage of the Revised Penal Code on December 8, 1930, the term "personal property" has
had a generally accepted definition in civil law. In Article 335 of the Civil Code of Spain, "personal
property" is defined as "anything susceptible of appropriation and not included in the foregoing
chapter (not real property)." To appropriate means to deprive the lawful owner of the thing. The word
"take" in the Revised Penal Code includes any act intended to transfer possession which, as held in the
assailed Decision, may be committed through the use of the of
fenders own hands, as well as any mechanical
device, such as an access device or card as in the instant case.

In the instant case, the act of conducting ISR operations by illegally connecting various equipment or
apparatus to private respondent PLDTs telephone system, through which petitioner is able to resell
or re-route international long distance calls using respondent PLDTs facilities constitutes all three acts
of subtraction. The acts of "subtraction" include: (a) tampering with any wire, meter, or other
apparatus installed or used for generating, containing, conducting, or measuring electricity, telegraph
or telephone service; (b) tapping or otherwise wrongfully deflecting or taking any electric current
from such wire, meter, or other apparatus; and (c) using or enjoying the benefits of any device by
means of which one may fraudulently obtain any current of electricity or any telegraph or telephone
service. The business of providing telecommunication or telephone service is likewise personal
property which can be the object of theft under Article 308 of the Revised Penal Code. Business may
be appropriated under Section 2 of Act No. 3952 (Bulk Sales Law), hence, could be object of theft:
Therefore, the business of providing telecommunication and the telephone service are personal
property under Article 308 of the Revised Penal Code, and the act of engaging in ISR is an act
of "subtraction" penalized under said article. However, the Amended Information describes the thing
taken as, "international long distance calls," and only later mentions "stealing the business from
PLDT" as the manner by which the gain was derived by the accused. In order to correct this
inaccuracy of description , this case must be remanded to the trial court and the prosecution directed
to amend the Amended Information, to clearly state that the property subject of the theft are the
services and business of respondent PLDT. Parenthetically, this amendment is not necessitated by a
mistake in charging the

proper offense, which would have called for the dismissal of the information under Rule 110, Section
14and Rule 119, Section 19 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure. To be sure, the crime is
properly designated as one of theft. The purpose of the amendment is simply to ensure that the
accused is fully and sufficiently appraised of the nature and cause of the charge against him, and thus
guaranteed of his rights under the Constitution.
























LUIS WONG vs. CA
Posted on November 24, 2012
G.R. No. 117857
February 2, 2001
FACTS:
Wong was an agent of Limtong Press Inc. (LPI), a manufacturer of calendars. However,
petitioner had a history of unremitted collections. Hence, petitioners customers were
required to issue postdated checks before LPI would accept their purchase orders.
In early December 1985, Wong issued 6 postdated checks totaling P18,025, all dated
December 30, 1985 and drawn payable to the order of LPI. The checks were drawn against
Allied Banking Corporation.
The checks were initially intended to guarantee the calendar orders of customers who failed
to issue post-dated checks. However, following company policy, LPI refused to accept the
checks as guarantees. Instead, the parties agreed to apply the checks to the payment of
petitioners unremitted collections for 1984 amounting to P18,077.07. LPI waived the
P52.07 difference.
Before the maturity of the checks, petitioner prevailed upon LPI not to deposit the checks
and promised to replace them within 30 days. However, petitioner reneged on his promise.
Hence, on June 5, 1986, LPI deposited the checks with Rizal Commercial Banking
Corporation (RCBC). The checks were returned for the reason account closed.
On June 20, 1986, complainant notified the petitioner of the dishonor. However, petitioner
failed to make arrangements for payment within 5 banking days.
On November 6, 1987, petitioner was charged with 3 counts of violation of B.P. Blg. 22
under 3 separate Informations for the 3 checks amounting to P5,500.00, P3,375.00, and
P6,410.00.
Petitioner was similarly charged in Criminal Case No. 12057 for ABC Check No. 660143463 in
the amount of P3,375.00, and in Criminal Case No. 12058 for ABC Check No. 660143464 for
P6,410.00. Both cases were raffled to the same trial court.
The version of the defense is that petitioner issued the 6 checks to guarantee the 1985
calendar bookings of his customers, not as payment for any obligation. In fact, the face
value of the 6 postdated checks tallied with the total amount of the calendar orders of the 6
customers of the accused. Although these customers had already paid their respective
orders, petitioner claimed LPI did not return the said checks to him.
On August 30, 1990, the trial court found petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt with 3
counts of Violations of Sec.1 of B.P. Blg. 22.
Petitioner appealed his conviction to the CA. However, it affirmed the trial courts decision
in toto on October 28, 1994.
ISSUES:
1. Whether the checks were issued merely as guarantee or for payment of petitioners
unremitted collections.
2. WON the prosecution was able to establish beyond reasonable doubt all the elements of
the offense penalized under B.P. Blg. 22.
3. WON petitioners penalty may be modified to only payment of fine.
HELD:
1.This is a factual issue involving as it does the credibility of witnesses. Said factual issue has
been settled by the trial court and CA. Its findings of fact are generally conclusive, and there
is no cogent reason to depart from such. In cases elevated from the CA, the SCs review is
confined to alleged errors of law. Absent any showing that the findings by the respondent
court are entirely devoid of any substantiation on record, the same must stand. The lack of
accounting between the parties is not the issue in this case. As repeatedly held, the SC is not
a trier of facts.
2. There are 2 ways of violating B.P. Blg. 22:
(a) by making or drawing and issuing a check to apply on account or for value knowing at the
time of issue that the check is not sufficiently funded; and
(b) by having sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank at the time of issue but
failing to keep sufficient funds therein, or credit with, said bank to cover the full amount of
the check when presented to the drawee bank within a period of 90 days.
The elements of B.P. Blg. 22 under the 1st situation, pertinent to the present case, are:
(a) The making, drawing & issuance of any check to apply for account or for value;
(b) The knowledge of the maker, drawer, or issuer that at the time of issue he does not have
sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the payment of such check in full upon
its presentment; and
(c) The subsequent dishonor of the check by the drawee bank for insufficiency of funds or
credit or dishonor for the same reason had not the drawer, without any valid cause, ordered
the bank to stop payment.
As to the 1st element, the RTC & CA have both ruled that the checks were in payment for
unremitted collections, and not as guarantee. What B.P. Blg. 22 punishes is the issuance of a
bouncing check, and not the purpose for which it was issued nor the terms and conditions
relating to its issuance.
As to the 2nd element, B.P. Blg. 22 creates a presumption juris tantum that the 2nd element
prima facie exists when the 1st & 3rd elements of the offense are present. Thus, the makers
knowledge is presumed from the dishonor of the check for insufficiency of funds.
An essential element of the offense is knowledge on the part of the maker/drawer of the
check of the insufficiency of his funds in, or credit with, the bank to cover the check upon its
presentment. Since this involves a state of mind difficult to establish, the statute itself
creates a prima facie presumption of such knowledge where payment of the check is
refused by the drawee because of insufficient funds in, or credit with, such bank when
presented within 90 days from the date of the check. The statute provides that such
presumption shall not arise if within 5 banking days from receipt of the notice of dishonor,
the maker/drawer makes arrangements for payment of the check by the bank or pays the
holder the amount of the check.
Nowhere in the said provision does the law require a maker to maintain funds in his bank
account for only 90 days. Rather, the clear import of the law is to establish a prima facie
presumption of knowledge of such insufficiency of funds under the following conditions: (1)
presentment within 90 days from date of the check, and (2) the dishonor of the check &
failure of the maker to make arrangements for payment in full within 5 banking days after
notice thereof. That the check must be deposited within 90 days is simply one of the
conditions for the prima facie presumption of knowledge of lack of funds to arise. It is not
an element of the offense. Neither does it discharge petitioner from his duty to maintain
sufficient funds in the account within a reasonable time thereof. Under Sec. 186 of the
Negotiable Instruments Law, a check must be presented for payment within a reasonable
time after its issue or the drawer will be discharged from liability thereon to the extent of
the loss caused by the delay. By current banking practice, a check becomes stale after more
than 6 months (180 days).
Private respondent herein deposited the checks 157 days after the date of the check. Hence
said checks cannot be considered stale. Only the presumption of knowledge of insufficiency
of funds was lost, but such knowledge could still be proven by direct or circumstantial
evidence. As found by the RTC, private respondent did not deposit the checks because of
the reassurance of petitioner that he would issue new checks. Upon his failure to do so, LPI
was constrained to deposit the said checks. After the checks were dishonored, petitioner
was duly notified of such fact but failed to make arrangements for full payment within 5
banking days thereof. There is, on record, sufficient evidence that petitioner had knowledge
of the insufficiency of his funds in or credit with the drawee bank at the time of issuance of
the checks. And despite petitioners insistent plea of innocence, the respondent court is not
in error for affirming his conviction by the trial court for violations of the Bouncing Checks
Law.
3. Pursuant to the policy guidelines in Administrative Circular No. 12-2000, which took effect
on November 21, 2000, the penalty imposed on petitioner should now be modified to a fine
of not less than but not more than double the amount of the checks that were dishonored.
The penalty imposed on him is modified so that the sentence of imprisonment is deleted.


































SECOND DIVISION
[G.R. No. 143375. July 6, 2001]
RUTH D. BAUTISTA, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, OFFICE OF
THE REGIONAL STATE PROSECUTOR, REGION IV, and
SUSAN ALOA, respondents.
D E C I S I O N
BELLOSILLO, J .:
This petition for certiorari presents a new dimension in the ever controversial
Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 or The Bouncing Checks Law. The question posed is
whether the drawer of a check which is dishonored due to lack of sufficient funds
can be prosecuted under BP 22 even if the check is presented for payment after
ninety (90) days from its due date. The burgeoning jurisprudence on the matter
appears silent on this point.
Sometime in April 1998 petitioner Ruth D. Bautista issued to private
respondent Susan Aloa Metrobank Check No. 005014037 dated 8 May 1998
forP1,500,000.00 drawn on Metrobank Cavite City Branch. According to private
respondent, petitioner assured her that the check would be sufficiently funded on
the maturity date.
On 20 October 1998 private respondent presented the check for payment. The
drawee bank dishonored the check because it was drawn against insufficient funds
(DAIF).
On 16 March 1999 private respondent filed a complaint-affidavit with the City
Prosecutor of Cavite City.
[1]
In addition to the details of the issuance and the
dishonor of the check, she also alleged that she made repeated demands on
petitioner to make arrangements for the payment of the check within five (5)
working days after receipt of notice of dishonor from the bank, but that petitioner
failed to do so.
Petitioner then submitted her own counter-affidavit asserting in her defense
that presentment of the check within ninety (90) days from due date thereof was an
essential element of the offense of violation of BP 22. Since the check was
presented for payment 166 days after its due date, it was no longer punishable
under BP 22 and therefore the complaint should be dismissed for lack of
merit. She also claimed that she already assigned private respondent her
condominium unit at Antel Seaview Condominium, Roxas Boulevard, as full
payment for the bounced checks thus extinguishing her criminal liability.
On 22 April 1999, the investigating prosecutor issued a resolution
recommending the filing of an Information against petitioner for violation of BP
22, which was approved by the City Prosecutor.
On 13 May 1999 petitioner filed with the Office of the Regional State
Prosecutor (ORSP) for Region IV a petition for review of the 22 April 1999
resolution. The ORSP denied the petition in a one (1)-page resolution dated 25
June 1999. On 5 July 1999 petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, which the
ORSP also denied on 31 August 1999. According to the ORSP, only resolutions of
prosecutors dismissing a criminal complaint were cognizable for review by that
office, citing Department Order No. 223.
On 1 October 1999 petitioner filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for
review of the resolution of the ORSP, Region IV, dated 22 April 1999 as well as
the order dated 31 August 1999 denying reconsideration. The appellate court
issued the assailed Resolution dated 26 October 1999 denying due course outright
and dismissing the petition.
[2]
According to respondent appellate court -
A petition for review is appropriate under Rule 42 (1997 Rules of Civil Procedure)
from a decision of the Regional Trial Court rendered in the exercise of its
appellate jurisdiction, filed in the Court of Appeals. Rule 43 x x x provides for
appeal, via a petition for review x x x from judgment or final orders of the Court of
Tax Appeals and Quasi-Judicial Agencies to the Court of Appeals. Petitioner's
"Petition for Review" of the ORSP resolution does not fall under any of the
agencies mentioned in Rule 43 x x x x It is worth to note that petitioner in her three
(3) assigned errors charged the ORSP of "serious error of law and grave abuse of
discretion." The grounds relied upon by petitioner are proper in a petition for
certiorari x x x x Even if We treat the "Petition for Review" as a petition for
certiorari, petitioner failed to allege the essential requirements of a special civil
action. Besides, the remedy of petitioner is in the Regional Trial Court, following
the doctrine of hierarchy of courts x x x x (italics supplied)
First, some ground rules. This case went to the Court of Appeals by way of
petition for review under Rule 43 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 43
applies to "appeals from judgments or final orders of the Court of Tax Appeals and
from awards, judgments, final orders or resolutions of or authorized by any quasi-
judicial agency in the exercise of quasi-judicial functions."
[3]

Petitioner submits that a prosecutor conducting a preliminary investigation
performs a quasi-judicial function, citing Cojuangco v. PCGG,
[4]
Koh v. Court of
Appeals,
[5]
Andaya v. Provincial Fiscal of Surigao del Norte
[6]
and Crespo v.
Mogul.
[7]
In these cases this Court held that the power to conduct preliminary
investigation is quasi-judicial in nature. But this statement holds true only in the
sense that, like quasi-judicial bodies, the prosecutor is an office in the executive
department exercising powers akin to those of a court. Here is where the similarity
ends.
A closer scrutiny will show that preliminary investigation is very different
from other quasi-judicial proceedings. A quasi-judicial body has been defined as
"an organ of government other than a court and other than a legislature which
affects the rights of private parties through either adjudication or rule-making."
[8]

In Luzon Development Bank v. Luzon Development Bank Employees,
[9]
we held
that a voluntary arbitrator, whether acting solely or in a panel, enjoys in law the
status of a quasi-judicial agency, hence his decisions and awards are appealable to
the Court of Appeals. This is so because the awards of voluntary arbitrators
become final and executory upon the lapse of the period to appeal;
[10]
and since
their awards determine the rights of parties, their decisions have the same effect as
judgments of a court. Therefore, the proper remedy from an award of a voluntary
arbitrator is a petition for review to the Court of Appeals, following Revised
Administrative Circular No. 1-95, which provided for a uniform procedure for
appellate review of all adjudications of quasi-judicial entities, which is now
embodied in Rule 43 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.
On the other hand, the prosecutor in a preliminary investigation does not
determine the guilt or innocence of the accused. He does not exercise adjudication
nor rule-making functions. Preliminary investigation is merely inquisitorial, and is
often the only means of discovering the persons who may be reasonably charged
with a crime and to enable the fiscal to prepare his complaint or information. It is
not a trial of the case on the merits and has no purpose except that of determining
whether a crime has been committed and whether there is probable cause to believe
that the accused is guilty thereof.
[11]
While the fiscal makes that determination, he
cannot be said to be acting as a quasi-court, for it is the courts, ultimately, that pass
judgment on the accused, not the fiscal.
[12]

Hence, the Office of the Prosecutor is not a quasi-judicial body; necessarily, its
decisions approving the filing of a criminal complaint are not appealable to the
Court of Appeals under Rule 43. Since the ORSP has the power to resolve appeals
with finality only where the penalty prescribed for the offense does not
exceedprision correccional, regardless of the imposable fine,
[13]
the only remedy of
petitioner, in the absence of grave abuse of discretion, is to present her defense in
the trial of the case.
Besides, it is well-settled that the courts cannot interfere with the discretion of
the fiscal to determine the specificity and adequacy of the offense charged. He
may dismiss the complaint forthwith if he finds it to be insufficient in form or
substance or if he finds no ground to continue with the inquiry; or, he may
otherwise proceed with the investigation if the complaint is, in his view, in due and
proper form.
[14]

In the present recourse, notwithstanding the procedural lapses, we give due
course to the petition, in view of the novel legal question involved, to prevent
further delay of the prosecution of the criminal case below, and more importantly,
to dispel any notion that procedural technicalities are being used to defeat the
substantive rights of petitioner.
Petitioner is accused of violation of BP 22 the substantive portion of which
reads -
Section 1. Checks without sufficient funds. - Any person who makes or draws and
issues any check to apply on account or for value, knowing at the time of issue that
he does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the payment
of such in full upon presentment, which check is subsequently dishonored by the
drawee bank for insufficiency of funds or credit or would have been dishonored for
the same reason had not the drawer, without any valid reason, ordered the bank to
stop payment, shall be punished by imprisonment of not less than thirty (30) days
but not more than one (1) year or by a fine of not less than but not more than
double the amount of the check which fine shall in no case exceed Two Hundred
Thousand Pesos, or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court.
The same penalty shall be imposed upon any person who, having sufficient funds in
or credit with the drawee bank when he makes or draws and issues a check, shall
fail to keep sufficient funds or to maintain a credit to cover the full amount of the
check if presented within a period of ninety (90) days from the date appearing
thereon, for which reason it is dishonored by the drawee bank x x x x (italics
supplied).
An analysis of Sec. 1 shows that The Bouncing Checks Law penalizes two (2)
distinct acts: First, making or drawing and issuing any check to apply on account
or for value, knowing at the time of issue that the drawer does not have sufficient
funds in or credit with the drawee bank; and, second, having sufficient funds in or
credit with the drawee bank shall fail to keep sufficient funds or to maintain a
credit to cover the full amount of the check if presented within a period of ninety
(90) days from the date appearing thereon, for which reason it is dishonored by the
drawee bank.
[15]

In the first paragraph, the drawer knows that he does not have sufficient funds
to cover the check at the time of its issuance, while in the second paragraph, the
drawer has sufficient funds at the time of issuance but fails to keep sufficient funds
or maintain credit within ninety (90) days from the date appearing on the check. In
both instances, the offense is consummated by the dishonor of the check for
insufficiency of funds or credit.
The check involved in the first offense is worthless at the time of issuance
since the drawer had neither sufficient funds in nor credit with the drawee bank at
the time, while that involved in the second offense is good when issued as drawer
had sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank when issued.
[16]
Under the
first offense, the ninety (90)-day presentment period is not expressly provided,
while such period is an express element of the second offense.
[17]

From the allegations of the complaint, it is clear that petitioner is being
prosecuted for violation of the first paragraph of the offense.
Petitioner asserts that she could not be prosecuted for violation of BP 22 on the
simple ground that the subject check was presented 166 days after the date stated
thereon. She cites Sec. 2 of BP 22 which reads -
Sec. 2. Evidence of knowledge of insufficient funds. - The making, drawing and
issuance of a check payment which is refused by the drawee because of insufficient
funds in or credit with such bank, when presented within ninety (90) days from the
date of the check, shall be prima facie evidence of knowledge of such insufficiency
of funds or credit unless such maker or drawer pays the holder thereof the amount
due thereon, or makes arrangements for payment in full by the drawee of such
check within five (5) banking days after receiving notice that such check has not
been paid by the drawee (italics supplied).
Petitioner interprets this provision to mean that the ninety (90)-day
presentment period is an element of the offenses punished in BP 22. She
asseverates that "for a maker or issuer of a check to be covered by B.P. 22, the
check issued by him/her is one that is dishonored when presented for payment
within ninety (90) days from date of the check. If the dishonor occurred after
presentment for payment beyond the ninety (90)-day period, no criminal liability
attaches; only a civil case for collection of sum of money may be filed, if
warranted." To bolster this argument, she relies on the view espoused by Judge
David G. Nitafan in his treatise -
[18]

Although evidentiary in nature, section 2 of the law must be taken as furnishing an
additional element of the offense defined in the first paragraph of section 1
because it provides for the evidentiary fact of "knowledge of insufficiency of funds
or credit" which is an element of the offense defined in said paragraph; otherwise
said provision of section 2 would be rendered without meaning and nugatory. The
rule of statutory construction is that the parts of a statute must be read together in
such a manner as to give effect to all of them and that such parts shall not be
construed as contradicting each other. The same section cannot be deemed to
supply an additional element for the offense under the second paragraph of section
1 because the 90-day presentment period is already a built-in element in the
definition of said offense (italics supplied).
We are not convinced. It is fundamental that every element of the offense
must be alleged in the complaint or information, and must be proved beyond
reasonable doubt by the prosecution. What facts and circumstances are necessary
to be stated must be determined by reference to the definitions and the essentials of
the specific crimes.
[19]

The elements of the offense under BP 22 are (a) the making, drawing and
issuance of any check to apply to account or for value; (b) the maker, drawer or
issuer knows at the time of issue that he does not have sufficient funds in or credit
with the drawee bank for the payment of such check in full upon its presentment;
and, (c) the check is subsequently dishonored by the drawee bank for insufficiency
of funds or credit or would have been dishonored for the same reason had not the
drawer, without any valid reason, ordered the bank to stop payment.
[20]

The ninety (90)-day period is not among these elements. Section 2 of BP 22 is
clear that a dishonored check presented within the ninety (90)-day period creates
a prima facie presumption of knowledge of insufficiency of funds, which is an
essential element of the offense. Since knowledge involves a state of mind
difficult to establish, the statute itself creates a prima facie presumption of the
existence of this element from the fact of drawing, issuing or making a check, the
payment of which was subsequently refused for insufficiency of funds.
[21]
The
term prima facie evidence denotes evidence which, if unexplained or
uncontradicted, is sufficient to sustain the proposition it supports or to establish the
facts, or to counterbalance the presumption of innocence to warrant a conviction.
[22]

The presumption in Sec. 2 is not a conclusive presumption that forecloses or
precludes the presentation of evidence to the contrary.
[23]
Neither does the
termprima facie evidence preclude the presentation of other evidence that may
sufficiently prove the existence or knowledge of insufficiency of funds or lack of
credit.
Surely, the law is not so circumscribed as to limit proof of knowledge
exclusively to the dishonor of the subject check when presented within the
prescribed ninety (90) day period. The deliberations on the passage of BP 22 (then
known as Cabinet Bill No. 9) between the author, former Solicitor General Estelito
P. Mendoza, and Bataan Assemblyman Pablo Roman prove insightful -
MR. ROMAN: x x x x Under Section 1, who is the person who may be liable under this
Section? Would it be the maker or the drawer? How about the endorser, Mr. Speaker?
MR. MENDOZA: Liable.
MR. ROMAN: The endorser, therefore, under Section 1 is charged with the duty of knowing at
the time he endorses and delivers a check . . . .
MR. MENDOZA: If the endorser is charged for violation of the Act then the fact of knowledge
must be proven by positive evidence because the presumption of knowledge arises only
against the maker or the drawer. It does not arise as against endorser under the following
section (italics supplied).
MR. ROMAN: But under Section 1, it says here: "Any person who shall make or draw or utter or
deliver any check." The preposition is disjunctive, so that any person who delivers any check
knowing at the time of such making or such delivery that the maker or drawer has no
sufficient funds would be liable under Section 1.
MR. MENDOZA: That is correct Mr. Speaker. But, as I said, while there is liability even as
against endorser, for example, the presumption of knowledge of insufficient funds arises only
against the maker or drawer under Section 2.
MR. ROMAN: Yes, Mr. Speaker. It is true; however, under Section 1, endorsers of checks or bills
of exchange would find it necessary since they may be charged with the knowledge at the
time they negotiate bills of exchange they have no sufficient funds in the bank or depository.
MR. MENDOZA: In order that an endorser may be held liable, there must be evidence showing
that at the time he endorsed the check he was aware that the drawer would not have sufficient
funds to cover the check upon presentation. That evidence must be presented by the
prosecution. However, if the one changed is the drawer, then that evidence need not be
presented by the prosecution because that fact would be established by presumption under
Section 2 (italics supplied).
[24]

An endorser who passes a bad check may be held liable under BP 22, even
though the presumption of knowledge does not apply to him, if there is evidence
that at the time of endorsement, he was aware of the insufficiency of funds. It is
evident from the foregoing deliberations that the presumption in Sec. 2 was
intended to facilitate proof of knowledge and not to foreclose admissibility of other
evidence that may also prove such knowledge. Thus, the only consequence of the
failure to present the check for payment within ninety (90) days from the date
stated is that there arises no prima facie presumption of knowledge of insufficiency
of funds. But the prosecution may still prove such knowledge through other
evidence. Whether such evidence is sufficient to sustain probable cause to file the
information is addressed to the sound discretion of the City Prosecutor and is a
matter not controllable by certiorari. Certainly, petitioner is not left in a lurch as
the prosecution must prove knowledge without the benefit of the presumption, and
she may present whatever defenses are available to her in the course of the trial.
The distinction between the elements of the offense and the evidence of these
elements is analogous or akin to the difference between ultimate
facts andevidentiary facts in civil cases. Ultimate facts are the essential and
substantial facts which either form the basis of the primary right and duty or which
directly make up the wrongful acts or omissions of the defendant, while
evidentiary facts are those which tend to prove or establish said ultimate
facts.
[25]
Applying this analogy to the case at bar, knowledge of insufficiency of
funds is the ultimate fact, or element of the offense that needs to be proved, while
dishonor of the check presented within ninety (90) days is merely the evidentiary
fact of such knowledge.
It is worth reiterating that courts will not normally interfere with the
prosecutor's discretion to file a criminal case when there is probable cause to do
so. Probable cause has been defined as the existence of such facts and
circumstances as would excite the belief in a reasonable mind, acting on the facts
within the knowledge of the prosecutor, that the person charged was guilty of the
crime for which he was prosecuted.
[26]
The prosecutor has ruled that there
is probable causein this case, and we see no reason to disturb the finding.
WHEREFORE, the assailed Resolution of the Court of Appeals dated 26
October 1999 which dismissed the petition for review questioning the resolution of
the Office of the Regional State Prosecutor, Region IV, dated 22 April 1999, and
its order dated 31 August 1999 denying reconsideration is AFFIRMED. Costs
against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.















































ROBERT CRISANTO D. LEE, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and ATOZ
TRADINGCORPORATION, respondents.[G.R. No. 157781. April 11, 2005]

FACTS:
Lee is Atoz Trading Corporations sales manager. Having personally found Ocean Feed Mills, Lee
handled said account. Whenever the Ocean Feed Mills remit their payment, it goes to Lees account at UCPB
and then Lee would withdraw that money from UCPB, sometimes in cash and sometimes in the form of
managers check payable to Atoz Trading. However, during the trial, Atoz Trading Corporations
cashier testified that she did not receive any payment from Ocean Feed Mills. When Lee
ceased reporting for work, Atoz audited some of the accounts handled by him. It was then that Atoz
discovered Ocean Feed Mills unpaid account. At oz thus notified Ocean Feed Mills that Lee was
no longer connected with the corporation, and advised it to verify its accounts. However, Ocean Feed
Mills informed Atoz that they have already fully settled their accounts and even made over
payments. The President of At oz claimed that he went to Paraaque, accompanied by
his counsel and some policemen, and tried to locate Lee and that upon finding him they
asked him to remit the payments made by Ocean Feed Mills to At oz Trading Corporation.
The trial court rendered judgment finding Lee guilty beyond reasonable doubt of nine (9)counts of the crime of
Estafa, defined and penalized under Art. 315, par. 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code. The petitioner appealed the
decision which the CA dismissed, hence this petition for review.

ISSUE:
Whether or not petitioner can be convicted for the crime of estafa thru conversion (art. 315,
par. 1-[b] of the revised penal code), lacking the element of formal demand before the filing
of the cases against him.

RULING:
The petition was denied for lack of merit. Contrary to petitioners proposition, prior demand
need not be made formally. Demand is not an element of the felony or a condition
precedent to the filing of a criminal complaint for estafa. Indeed, the accused may be
convicted of the felony under Article315, paragraph 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code if the prosecution
proved misappropriation or conversion by the accused of the money or property subject of the Information. In
a prosecution for estafa, demand is not necessary where there is evidence of

misappropriation or conversion. However, failure to account upon demand, for funds or
property held in trust, is circumstantial evidence of misappropriation. Demand need not be
formal. It may be verbal. In Barrameda v. Court of Appeals,

the Court ruled that even a query as to the whereabouts of the money is tantamount to
a demand. In the present case, the prosecution adduced proof upon cross-examination of
the petitioner Lee that he failed to return the funds held in trust before the complaint for
estafa was filed against him. Further, the cashier of Atoz Trading Corporation stated that the
accused did not remit the payments of Ocean. It is evident that the accused assumed the
right to dispose of the remittances as if it were his own, thus, committing conversion with unfaithfulness
and a clear breach of trust.
Republic of the Philippines
Supreme Court
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

ANDRE L. D AIGLE, G.R. No. 174181
Petitioner,
Present:

CARPIO,


LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,


-versus- Acting Chairperson,
DEL CASTILLO,
VILLARAMA, JR., and
PERLAS-BERNABE,

JJ.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Promulgated:
Respondent. June 27, 2012
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - x

D E C I S I O N

DEL CASTILLO, J .:

The failure to account upon demand, for funds or property held in trust, is
circumstantial evidence of misappropriation.
[1]


Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the
Rules of Court seeking a reversal of the Decision
[2]
dated March 31, 2006 of the Court
of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 25830 which affirmed with modification the
Decision
[3]
dated January 15, 2001 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 93, San
Pedro, Laguna in Criminal Case No. 0434-SPL convicting petitioner Andre L.
DAigle of the crime of Estafa. Likewise assailed is the CA Resolution
[4]
dated
August 17, 2006 denying the Motion for Reconsideration
[5]
thereto.

Factual Antecedents

On June 5, 1997, petitioner was charged with Estafa before the RTC under the
following Information:

That in, about and sometime prior to December 1996, in
the Municipality of San Pedro, Province of Laguna, Philippines, within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused being then the
Managing Director of Samfit Phils. received from said Samfit, Phils. for
management, care and custody the following company properties:

a) Electric transformer worth P16,500.00

b) Two (2) units of electronic boxes and two (2) units of
computer boxes worth P490,000.00

c) Machine spare parts consisting of
- set of rack and pinion
- pair of bevel and gears MB-20-30
- pair of meter gears 42 teeth
- set of gears 32 teeth
- gear bith bearing inserted
- 3 SL 20 bearings V plate
- one-way clutch
- one-way bearing CSK 20HC5
- 8 of LJ 34 bearings V type
- roller bearing 1 x 0
- 8 pieces of 6200 ZZE bearing with a total value
of P12,765.35

d) [Equipment] and raw materials valued at P162,400.00

with a total value of SIX HUNDRED EIGHTY ONE
THOUSAND, SIX HUNDRED SIXTY FIVE PESOS & 35/100
(P681,665.35)

under the express obligation to use the same for a particular purpose[,] that
is, exclusively for the machinery of Samfit Phils. but accused far from
complying with his obligation with grave abuse of confidence reposed
upon him by his employer, did then and there willfully, unlawfully, and
feloniously misapply, misappropriate and convert the aforesaid corporate
properties to his own personal use and benefit and despite several demands
made upon him, accused refused and failed and still refuses and fails to
return or account for the same to the damage and prejudice of Samfit,
Phils., represented by its President, Mr. Arturo Parducho, in the aforesaid
sum of P681,665.35.

CONTRARY TO LAW.
[6]



Petitioner pleaded not guilty upon arraignment and the case was set for pre-trial
and trial on the merits.

During trial, the prosecution presented as its principal witness Arturo Parducho
(Parducho), Director and President of Samfit Philippines, Inc. (SPI), a corporation
primarily engaged in the manufacture of underwires for brassieres. According to him,
petitioner was the former managing director of SPI tasked with the management of the
company as well as the management, care and custody of SPIs personal
properties. At the time that he was holding said position, petitioner was likewise a
majority stockholder of TAC Manufacturing Corporation (TAC), an entity engaged in
the fabrication of wire bending machine similar to that being used by SPI.
[7]


Sometime in November 1996, petitioner was divested of his duties and
responsibilities as SPIs managing director
[8]
due to alleged conflict of business
interest. Because of this, Parducho conducted an audit and inventory of SPIs
properties and reviewed its financial statements, vouchers, books of account and other
pertinent records. He also interviewed some of SPIs employees.
[9]
These revealed
that several properties of SPI such as wire materials, electronic transformer, electronic
and computer boxes, machine spare parts, while still under the management, care and
custody of petitioner, went missing and were left unaccounted for.
[10]
Further
investigation revealed that some of SPIs wire bending machines, computer and
electronic boxes were inside the premises of TAC. This was confirmed by Daniel
Gutierrez, a former employee of TAC, who likewise admitted that TAC copied the
wire bending machines of SPI.
[11]


In a letter dated January 14, 1997,
[12]
SPIs counsel formally demanded upon
petitioner to turn over to SPI all its equipment under his care and custody. Ignoring the
demand, petitioner was thus indicted with the present case. SPI also filed a replevin
case against him for the recovery of the electronic and computer boxes. Subsequently,
and by virtue of the Writ of Replevin,
[13]
an electronic box found inside TACs
premises was recovered from petitioner while a computer box was later on
surrendered to the Sheriff.

In his defense, petitioner alleged that his engineering firm TAC fabricated
spare parts for SPI on a daily basis. Aside from this, it also did the repair and
maintenance of SPIs machines. He also claimed that he had an understanding with
SPI that TAC would support SPIs operation until its business standing
improves. And since petitioner only had a 10% share in SPI, TAC would fabricate for
it two additional machines valued at $60,000.00 each so that he could get additional
40% share therein. Under this set-up, Samfit UK would provide the micro stepping
motors and motor drives as well as the control panels. However, petitioner was not
able to finish fabricating the bending machines as he was dismissed by SPI. As a
consequence, he filed a labor case against it before the Department of Labor and
Employment.

Petitioner further claimed that SPI owes him about a million pesos for the
repairs of its machines. While he admitted that SPIs electronic transformer, computer
boxes and motor drives were recovered while in his possession thru a writ of replevin,
he reasoned out that he did not return them to SPI after his dismissal because he
intended to exercise his right of lien over them since he has properties which were still
in the possession of SPI, collectibles amounting to P900,000.00, and unpaid one-
month salary of P80,000.00. Finally, he denied having appropriated the computer
boxes for his own benefit.
[14]


Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

After trial, the RTC found that the prosecution had established the guilt of
petitioner for the crime of Estafa under paragraph 1(b), Article 315
[15]
of the Revised
Penal Code (RPC). It ratiocinated that the unjustified failure of petitioner to account
for and deliver to SPI, upon demand, the properties entrusted to his care, custody and
management is sufficient evidence of actual conversion thereof to his personal
use. The dispositive portion of the RTC Decision
[16]
rendered on January 15, 2001
reads:

WHEREFORE, the Court hereby sentences accused ANDRE D
AIGLE to suffer an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of one (1) year,
eight (8) months and twenty (20) days of prision correccional as minimum
to twenty (20) years of reclusio[n] temporal as maximum; to indemnify
private complainant in the amount of P191,665.35 and to pay costs.

SO ORDERED.
[17]



Aggrieved, petitioner seasonably appealed to the appellate court.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

In a Decision
[18]
dated March 31, 2006, the CA denied petitioners appeal and
affirmed with modification the trial courts Decision, viz:
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of San
Pedro, Laguna

(Branch 93), dated January 15, 2001, in Criminal Case No.
0434-SPL, is MODIFIED to the effect that appellant is sentenced to an
indeterminate sentence of six (6) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as
minimum, to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal, as maximum. The
decision is AFFIRMED in all other respects.

SO ORDERED.
[19]



Petitioners Motion for Reconsideration
[20]
was likewise denied in a
Resolution
[21]
dated August 17, 2006.

Hence, this petition with the following assignment of errors:

I
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN DENYING PETITIONER-
ACCUSED[S] MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION FOR LACK OF
VALID REASONS/JUSTIFICATION.

II
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION
OF THE LOWER COURT, (RTC-BRANCH 93, SAN PEDRO,
LAGUNA), AND AT THE SAME TIME MODIFYING THE EXTENT
OF THE PENALTY [IMPOSED] FOR THE CRIME ALLEGEDLY
COMMITTED.
[22]



Our Ruling


After a circumspect consideration of the arguments earnestly pressed by the
petitioner vis--vis that of the respondent People of the Philippines (respondent), and
in the light of the practically parallel finding of facts and conclusions of the courts
below, this Court finds the instant petition partly meritorious.

Concerning the first assigned error, the Court finds no cogent reason to sustain
petitioners claim that the appellate court erred in denying his Motion for
Reconsideration without valid reason or justification. The reason for the appellate
courts denial of petitioners Motion for Reconsideration is clear and simple, that is,
after it made a thorough evaluation of the issues and arguments proffered in the said
motion, the CA found that same were already passed upon and duly considered in its
assailed Decision. This is very plain from the contents of the August 17, 2006
Resolution of the CA denying petitioners Motion for Reconsideration. Undoubtedly,
petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied due to a valid reason and justifiable
cause.

Petitioner also bemoans the fact that the dispositive portion of the trial courts
Decision did not expressly mention that he was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt
of the crime charged. Suffice it to say, however, that a judgment is not rendered
defective just because of the absence of a declaration of guilt beyond reasonable doubt
in the dispositive portion. The ratio decidendi of the RTC Decision extensively
discussed the guilt of the petitioner and no scintilla of doubt against the same was
entertained by the courts below. Indeed, petitioners guilt was duly proven by
evidence of the prosecution. In any event, a judgment of conviction, pursuant to
Section 2, Rule 120 of the Rules of Court, is sufficient if it states: 1) the legal
qualification of the offense constituted by the acts committed by the accused and the
aggravating or mitigating circumstances which attended its commission; 2) the
participation of the accused in the offense, whether as principal, accomplice or
accessory; 3) the penalty imposed upon the accused; and 4) the civil liability or
damages caused by his wrongful act or omission to be recovered from the accused by
the offended party, if there is any, unless the enforcement of the civil liability by a
separate civil action has been reserved or waived. We find that all of these are
sufficiently stated in the trial courts Decision.

Anent the second assigned error, petitioner posits that the CA erred in affirming
the said RTC Decision and in modifying the penalty imposed upon him since the
prosecution failed to establish beyond reasonable doubt all the elements of estafa. He
argues that Article 315, paragraph 1(b) of the RPC requires that the person charged
was given juridical possession of the thing misappropriated. Here, he did not acquire
juridical possession of the things allegedly misappropriated because his relation to
SPIs properties was only by virtue of his official functions as a corporate officer. It is
actually SPI, on whose behalf he has acted, that has the juridical possession of the said
properties.

Respondent, through the Office of the Solicitor General, on the other hand
counters that the prosecutions evidence has fully established all the elements of the
crime charged. Based on SPIs records, petitioner received from it various equipment
of SPI on several occasions for the sole purpose of manufacturing underwires for
brassieres. However after the conduct of an audit in December 1996, petitioner failed
to properly account therefor.

Petitioners arguments fail to persuade.

Entrenched in jurisprudence are the following essential elements of Estafa
under Article 315, paragraph 1(b) of the RPC:

1. That money, goods or other personal properties are received by the
offender in trust or on commission, or for administration, or under any
other obligation involving the duty to make delivery of or to return, the
same;

2. That there is a misappropriation or conversion of such money or
property by the offender or denial on his part of such receipt;

3. That such misappropriation or conversion or denial is to the prejudice
of another; and

4. That there is a demand made by the offended party on the offender.
[23]



All these elements have been sufficiently established by the prosecution.

Petitioner asserts that as majority stockholder of TAC, he entered into a
business transaction with SPI wherein it would fabricate bending machines and spare
parts for the latter. Under their agreement, SPI would provide the necessary
components to be used in the fabrication as well as the electronic devices while work
would be done at petitioners premises. Pursuant to this, petitioner admitted to having
received from SPI an electronic transformer, electronic box and a computer
box.
[24]
When petitioner, however, was not able to finish the work allegedly due to his
dismissal from SPI, the latter demanded for the return of its properties. However,
petitioner did not heed the demand and simply kept the properties as lien for his
claims against SPI.
[25]


From petitioners own assertions, the existence of the first and fourth of the
aforementioned elements is very clear. SPIs properties were received by the
petitioner in trust. He received them for a particular purpose, that is, for the
fabrication of bending machines and spare parts for SPI. And when SPI made a
demand for their return after petitioners alleged dismissal therefrom, petitioner
deliberately ignored the same.

The Court cannot agree with petitioners postulation that he did not acquire
juridical possession of SPIs properties since his relation with the same was only by
virtue of his official function as SPIs corporate officer. As borne out by the records,
the equipment subject matter of this case were received in trust by petitioner from SPI
to be utilized in the fabrication of bending machines. Petitioner was given absolute
option on how to use them without any participation on the part of SPI. Thus,
petitioner acquired not only physical possession but also juridical possession over the
equipment. As the Court held in Chua-Burce v. Court of Appeals:
[26]


When the money, goods or any other personal property is received by the
offender from the offended party (1) in trust or (2) on commission or (3)
foradministration, the offender acquires both material or physical
possession and juridical possession of the thing received. Juridical
possession means a possession which gives the transferee a right over the
thing which the transferee may set up even against the owner. x x x


With regard to the element of misappropriation or conversion, the prosecution
was able to prove this through circumstantial evidence. Misappropriation or
conversion may be proved by the prosecution by direct evidence or by circumstantial
evidence.
[27]
The failure to account upon demand, for funds or property held in
trust, is circumstantial evidence of misappropriation.
[28]
As mentioned, petitioner
failed to account for, upon demand, the properties of SPI which were received by him
in trust. This already constitutes circumstantial evidence of misappropriation or
conversion of said properties to petitioners own personal use. Even if petitioner
merely retained the properties for the purpose of preserving his right of lien over them,
same is immaterial because, to reiterate, failure to return upon demand the properties
which one has the duty to return is tantamount to appropriating the same for his own
personal use. As correctly noted by the CA:

We are not impressed by appellants excuse. We note that SPIs
demand for the return of the properties subject of this case was made on
January 14, 1997. At that time, appellant was no longer the managing
director of SPI, he having been terminated from his position on November
19, 1996. This observation, coupled with SPIs demand for the return of
its equipment and materials, show that appellant had lost his right to retain
the said properties and the fact that he failed to return or at least account
for them raises the presumption of misappropriation and conversion. x x
x
[29]



Lastly, it is obvious that petitioners failure to return SPIs properties valued
at P191,665.35 caused damage and prejudice to the latter.

In a last ditch effort to evade liability, petitioner claims that the controversy
between him and SPI is an intra-corporate controversy considering that he was a
stockholder of the latter. Such being the case, he avers that his conviction for estafa
has no basis.
Contrary, however to petitioners stance, by no stretch of imagination can the
Court consider the controversy between him and SPI as an intra-corporate
controversy. As correctly pointed out by the CA:

Finally, we find no cogent basis, in law and in fact, which would
support appellants allegation that the acts complained of in this case were
corporate acts. His allegation without more that he had an agreement with
Mr. Bernie Kelly of SPI to the effect that his (appellants) share in SPI
would be increased to 40% in exchange for two bending machines does not
give his act of retaining the properties a semblance of a corporate act. There
is also no evidence that he acted on behalf of TAC Manufacturing
Corporation, much less of SPI. Premises considered, we do not agree that
appellants actuation should be considered as a corporate act, for which he
claims he could not be held personally liable. x x x
[30]



Regarding the credibility of prosecution witnesses, the RTC found said
witnesses to be credible and therefore their testimonies deserve full faith and
credence. The CA for its part, did not disturb the trial courts appreciation of the
same. It is a well-entrenched doctrine that factual findings of the trial court,
especially when affirmed by the appellate court, are accorded the highest degree of
respect and are considered conclusive between the parties.
[31]
Though jurisprudence
recognizes highly meritorious exceptions, none of them obtain herein which would
warrant a reversal of the challenged Decision. Thus, the Court accords deference to
the trial courts appreciation of said testimonies. Accordingly, the RTCs finding of
petitioners guilt, as affirmed by the CA, is sustained.

The proper imposable penalty

The penalty in estafa cases as provided under paragraph 1, Article 315 of the
RPC is prision correccional in its maximum period toprision mayor in its minimum
period if the amount of the fraud is over P12,000.00 but does not
exceed P22,000.00. If the amount involved exceeds the latter sum, the same
paragraph provides the imposition of the penalty in its maximum period with an
incremental penalty of one year imprisonment for every P10,000.00 but in no case
shall the total penalty exceed twenty (20) years imprisonment.

In the present case, petitioner poses no serious challenge to the amount
involved which is P191,665.35. Since said amount is in excess of P22,000.00, the
penalty imposable should be within the maximum term of six (6) years, eight (8)
months and twenty-one (21) days to eight (8) years of prision mayor.
[32]
[A] period
of one (1) year shall be added to the penalty for every additional P10,000.00
defrauded in excess of P22,000.00, but in no case shall the total penalty which may be
imposed exceed twenty (20) years.
[33]
Hence, sixteen (16) years must be added to the
maximum term of the penalty of prision mayor. And since same exceeds twenty (20)
years, the maximum term should be pegged at twenty (20) years of reclusion
temporal. Applying now the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the penalty next lower
than that prescribed by law which is prision correccional in its maximum to prision
mayor in its minimum is prision correccional in its minimum to medium
periods. Thus, the minimum term of the indeterminate sentence should be anywhere
from six (6) months and one (1) day to four (4) years and two (2) months x x x.
[34]


Prescinding from the foregoing discussion, the Court finds that the CA
correctly pegged the penalty in its maximum term of twenty (20) years
of reclusion temporal but erred in imposing the minimum term of six (6) years and
one (1) day of prision mayor as same is beyond the lawful range. Thus, the Court sets
the minimum term of the indeterminate penalty at four (4) years and two (2) months
of prision correccional. Accordingly, petitioner is hereby sentenced to suffer the
indeterminate penalty of four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional as
minimum to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal as maximum.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision and Resolution of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 25830 dated March 31, 2006 and August
17, 2006, respectively, are hereby AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that
petitioner is sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of four (4)
years and two (2) months of prision correccional as minimum to twenty (20) years
ofreclusion temporal as maximum.

SO ORDERED.


















Republic of the Philippines
Supreme Court
Manila


THIRD DIVISION

ROBERT TAGUINOD,
Petitioner,



-versus-




PEOPLE OF THEPHILIPPINES,
Respondent.
G.R. No. 185833

Present:

VELASCO, JR., J., Chairperson,
PERALTA,
ABAD,
MENDOZA, and
PERLAS-BERNABE, JJ.

Promulgated:

October 12, 2011
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x


D E C I S I O N


PERALTA, J.:

For this Court's consideration is the petition for review
[1]
dated February
5, 2009 of petitioner Robert Taguinod seeking to reverse the Decision
[2]
of the
Court of Appeals (CA) dated September 8, 2008 and its Resolution
[3]
dated
December 19, 2008 affirming the Decisions of the Regional Trial Court of
Makati City (RTC)
[4]
and the Metropolitan Trial Court of Makati City
(MeTC)
[5]
dated September 6, 2007 and November 8, 2006, respectively.

The following are the antecedent facts:

This case started with a single incident on May 26, 2002 at the parking
area of the Rockwell Powerplant Mall. Pedro Ang (private complainant) was
driving his Honda CRV (CRV) from the 3
rd
basement parking, while Robert
Taguinod (petitioner) was driving his Suzuki Vitara (Vitara) from the
2
nd
basement parking. When they were about to queue at the corner to pay
the parking fees, the respective vehicles were edging each other. The CRV was
ahead of the queue, but the Vitara tried to overtake, which resulted the
touching of their side view mirrors. The side view mirror of the Vitara was
pushed backward and naturally, the side view mirror of the CRV was pushed
forward. This prompted the private complainant's wife and daughter, namely,
Susan and Mary Ann, respectively, to alight from the CRV and confront the
petitioner. Petitioner appeared to be hostile, hence, the private complainant
instructed his wife and daughter to go back to the CRV. While they were
returning to the car, petitioner accelerated the Vitara and moved backward as
if to hit them. The CRV, having been overtaken by the Vitara, took another
lane. Private complainant was able to pay the parking fee at the booth ahead
of petitioner. When the CRV was at the upward ramp leading to the exit, the
Vitara bumped the CRV's rear portion and pushed the CRV until it hit the
stainless steel railing located at the exit portion of the ramp.

As a result of the collision, the CRV sustained damage at the back bumper
spare tires and the front bumper, the repair of which amounted
to P57,464.66. The insurance company shouldered the said amount, but the
private complainant paid P18,191.66 as his participation. On the other hand,
the Vitara sustained damage on the right side of its bumper.

Thereafter, an Information
[6]
was filed in the MeTC of Makati City against
petitioner for the crime of Malicious Mischief as defined in and penalized
under Article 327
[7]
of the Revised Penal Code (RPC). The Information reads as
follows:

That on or about the 26
th
day of May, 2002, in the City
of Makati, Philippines, a place within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with deliberate intent
to cause damage, and motivated by hate and revenge and other evil
motives, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
bump the rear portion of a Honda CRV car bearing Plate No. APS-
222 driven by Pedro N. Ang, thus, causing damage thereon in the
amount of P200.00.

CONTRARY TO LAW.


Petitioner pleaded Not Guilty during the arraignment on March 10,
2003. Consequently, the trial on the merits ensued. The prosecution
presented the testimony of private complainant. The defense, on the other
hand, presented the testimonies of Mary Susan Lim Taguinod, the wife of
petitioner, Jojet N. San Miguel, Jason H. Lazo and Engr. Jules Ronquillo.

Afterwards, the MeTC, in its Decision dated November 8, 2006, found
petitioner guilty of the crime charged in the Information, the dispositive
portion of which, reads:


WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby
rendered finding the accused ROBERT TAGUINOD y AYSON GUILTY
of Malicious Mischief penalized under Article 329 of the Revised
Penal Code, and sentencing accused to FOUR (4) MONTHS
imprisonment.

Accused Robert Taguinod y Ayson is likewise ordered
to pay complainant Pedro Ang the amount of P18,191.66,
representing complainant's participation in the insurance liability on
the Honda CRV, the amount of P50,000.00 as moral damages, and
the amount ofP25,000.00 as attorney's fees; and to pay the costs.

SO ORDERED.
[8]



The case was appealed to the RTC of Makati City, which rendered
its Decision dated September 6, 2007, affirming the decision of the MeTC,
disposing the appealed case as follows:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision
dated 8 November 2006 is AFFIRMED in all respects.

SO ORDERED.
[9]



Undaunted, petitioner filed a petition for review with the CA,
praying for the reversal of the decision of the RTC. The CA partly granted the
petition in its Decision dated September 8, 2008, ruling that:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing premises, the
petition for review filed in this case is hereby PARTLY
GRANTED. The assailed decision dated September 6, 2007 of
Branch 143 of the Regional Trial Court in Makati City in Criminal
Case No. 07-657 is hereby MODIFIED as follows:

1. The petitioner is penalized to suffer the penalty of
30 days imprisonment;
2. The award of moral damages is reduced
to P20,000.00; and
3. The award of attorney's fee is reduced
to P10,000.00.

SO ORDERED.
[10]



Petitioner filed with this Court a petition for review
on certiorari dated February 5, 2009. On March 16, 2009, this Court
denied
[11]
the said petition. However, after petitioner filed a motion for
reconsideration
[12]
dated May 14, 2009, this Court reinstated
[13]
the present
petition and required the Office of the Solicitor General to file its Comment.
[14]


The grounds relied upon are the following:

A. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE
REVERSIBLE ERROR IN UPHOLDING PETITIONER'S CONVICTION.

B. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE
REVERSIBLE ERROR IN AWARDING MORAL DAMAGES AND
ATTORNEY'S FEES TO PRIVATE COMPLAINANT.
[15]


This Court finds the petition partly meritorious.
The first argument of the petitioner centers on the issue of credibility of
the witnesses and the weight of the evidence presented. Petitioner insists
that between the witness presented by the prosecution and the witnesses
presented by the defense, the latter should have been appreciated, because
the lone testimony of the witness for the prosecution was self-serving. He
also puts into query the admissibility and authenticity of some of the pieces of
evidence presented by the prosecution.

Obviously, the first issue raised by petitioner is purely factual in nature. It
is well entrenched in this jurisdiction that factual findings of the trial court on
the credibility of witnesses and their testimonies are entitled to the highest
respect and will not be disturbed on appeal in the absence of any clear
showing that it overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied some facts or
circumstances of weight and substance that would have affected the result of
the case.
[16]
This doctrine is premised on the undisputed fact that, since the
trial court had the best opportunity to observe the demeanor of the witnesses
while on the stand, it was in a position to discern whether or not they were
telling the truth.
[17]


Moreover, the testimony of a witness must be considered
and calibrated in its entirety and not by truncated portions thereof or isolated
passages therein.
[18]



It is apparent in this present case that both the RTC and the CA accorded
respect to the findings of the MeTC; hence, this Court finds no reason to
oppose the other two courts in the absence of any clear and valid circumstance
that would merit a review of the MeTC's assessment as to the credibility of the
witnesses and their testimonies. Petitioner harps on his contention that the
MeTC was wrong in not finding the testimony of his own witness, Mary Susan
Lim Taguinod, to be credible enough. However, this Court finds the
inconsistencies of said petitioner's witness to be more than minor or trivial;
thus, it does not, in any way, cast reasonable doubt. As correctly pointed out
by the MeTC:

Defense witness Mary Susan Lim Taguinod is wanting
in credibility. Her recollection of the past events is hazy as shown
by her testimony on cross-examination. While she stated in her
affidavit that the Honda CRV's left side view mirror hit our right
side view mirror, causing our side view mirror to fold (par. 4,
Exhibit 3), she testified on cross-examination that the right side
view mirror of the Vitara did not fold and there was only a slight
dent or scratch. She initially testified that she does not recall having
submitted her written version of the incident but ultimately
admitted having executed an affidavit. Also, while the Affidavit
stated that Mary Susan Lim Taguinod personally appeared before
the Notary Public, on cross-examination, she admitted that she did
not, and what she only did was to sign the Affidavit in Quezon
City and give it to her husband. Thus, her inaccurate recollection of
the past incident, as shown by her testimony on cross-examination,
is in direct contrast with her Affidavit which appears to be precise in
its narration of the incident and its details. Such Affidavit,
therefore, deserves scant consideration as it was apparently
prepared and narrated by another.

Thus, the Court finds that the prosecution has proven
its case against the accused by proof beyond reasonable doubt.
[19]



What really governs this particular case is that the prosecution was able
to prove the guilt of petitioner beyond reasonable doubt. The elements of the
crime of malicious mischief under Article 327 of the Revised Penal Code are:

(1) That the offender deliberately caused damage to the
property of another;
(2) That such act does not constitute arson or other crimes
involving destruction;
(3) That the act of damaging another's property be committed
merely for the sake of damaging it.
[20]



In finding that all the above elements are present, the MeTC rightly
ruled that:

The following were not disputed: that there was a
collision between the side view mirrors of the two (2) vehicles; that
immediately thereafter, the wife and the daughter of the
complainant alighted from the CRV and confronted the accused;
and, the complainant, in view of the hostile attitude of the accused,
summoned his wife and daughter to enter the CRV and while they
were in the process of doing so, the accused moved and accelerated
his Vitara backward as if to hit them.
The incident involving the collision of the two side
view mirrors is proof enough to establish the existence of the
element of hate, revenge and other evil motive. Here, the
accused entertained hate, revenge and other evil motive because
to his mind, he was wronged by the complainant when the CRV
overtook his Vitara while proceeding toward the booth to pay
their parking fee, as a consequence of which, their side
view mirrors collided. On the same occasion, the hood of his
Vitara was also pounded, and he was badmouthed by the
complainant's wife and daughter when they alighted from the CRV
to confront him for the collision of the side view mirrors. These
circumstances motivated the accused to push upward the ramp
complainant's CRV until it reached the steel railing of the exit
ramp. The pushing of the CRV by the Vitara is corroborated by the
Incident Report dated May 26, 2002 prepared by SO Robert
Cambre, Shift-In-Charge of the Power Plant Mall, as well as the
Police Report. x x x
[21]



The CA also accurately observed that the elements of the crime of
malicious mischief are not wanting in this case, thus:

Contrary to the contention of the petitioner, the
evidence for the prosecution had proven beyond reasonable doubt
the existence of the foregoing elements. First, the hitting of the
back portion of the CRV by the petitioner was clearly deliberate as
indicated by the evidence on record. The version of the private
complainant that the petitioner chased him and that the Vitara
pushed the CRV until it reached the stairway railing was more
believable than the petitioner's version that it was private
complainant's CRV which moved backward and deliberately hit the
Vitara considering the steepness or angle of the elevation of the P2
exit ramp. It would be too risky and dangerous for the private
complainant and his family to move the CRV backward when it
would be hard for him to see his direction as well as to control his
speed in view of the gravitational pull. Second, the act of damaging
the rear bumper of the CRV does not constitute arson or other
crimes involving destruction. Lastly, when the Vitara bumped the
CRV, the petitioner was just giving vent to his anger and hate as a
result of a heated encounter between him and the private
complainant.
In sum, this Court finds that the evidence on record
shows that the prosecution had proven the guilt of the petitioner
beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of malicious mischief. This
adjudication is but an affirmation of the finding of guilt of the
petitioner by both the lower courts, the MeTC and the RTC.
[22]




Petitioner likewise raises the issue that the CA was wrong in awarding
moral damages and attorney's fees to the private complainant claiming that
during the trial, the latter's entitlement to the said monetary reliefs was not
substantiated. This Court finds petitioner's claim, with regard to the award of
moral damages, unmeritorious.

In Manuel v. People,
[23]
this Court tackled in substance the concept of the
award of moral damages, thus:

Moral damages include physical suffering, mental
anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded
feelings, moral shock, social humiliation, and similar injury. Though
incapable of pecuniary computation, moral damages may be
recovered if they are the proximate result of the defendant's
wrongful act or omission. An award for moral damages requires
the confluence of the following conditions: first, there must be an
injury, whether physical, mental or psychological, clearly sustained
by the claimant; second, there must be culpable act or omission
factually established; third, the wrongful act or omission of the
defendant is the proximate cause of the injury sustained by the
claimant; and fourth, the award of damages is predicated on any
of the cases stated in Article 2219 or Article 2220 of the Civil
Code.
[24]



It is true that the private complainant is entitled to the award of moral
damages under Article 2220
[25]
of the New Civil Code because the injury
contemplated by the law which merits the said award was clearly
established. Private complainant testified that he felt bad
[26]
and lost
sleep.
[27]
The said testimony is substantial to prove the moral injury suffered
by the private complainant for it is only him who can personally approximate
the emotional suffering he experienced. For the court to arrive upon a
judicious approximation of emotional or moral injury, competent and
substantial proof of the suffering experienced must be laid before it.
[28]
The
same also applies with private complainant's claim that his wife felt dizzy after
the incident and had to be taken to the hospital.
[29]



However, anent the award of attorney's fees, the same was not
established. In German Marine Agencies, Inc. v. NLRC,
[30]
this Court held that
there must always be a factual basis for the award of attorneys fees. This
present case does not contain any valid and factual reason for such award.

WHEREFORE, the petition for review dated February 5, 2009 of petitioner
Robert Taguinod is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals
dated September 8, 2008 and its Resolution dated December 19, 2008 are
hereby AFFIRMED with theMODIFICATION that the attorneys fees
are OMITTED.
SO ORDERED.