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G.R. No.

191025

July 31, 2013

RHODORA PRIETO, Petitioner,


vs.
ALPADI DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Respondent.
RESOLUTION
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
In this Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, petitioner Rhodora
Prieto (Prieto) seeks to annul and set aside the Decision 1 dated August 28, 2009 and
Resolution2 dated November 12, 2009 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 91714, which (1)
annulled and set aside, on the ground of grave abuse of discretion, the Orders dated March 8,
20053 and August 8, 20054 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 8, in Criminal Case
No. 97-157752, granting Prieto's Demurrer to Evidence; and (2) reinstated and remanded said
criminal case to the R TC for further trial.
Prieto was employed as an accounting clerk and cashier of the Alpadi Group of Companies,
composed of respondent Alpadi Development Corporation (ADC), Manufacturers Building,
Incorporated (MBI), and Asian Ventures Corporation (AVC). ADC and MBI are both engaged in the
business of leasing office spaces.
Prieto was charged before the RTC with the crime of estafa in an Information5 dated May 13, 1997
that reads:
That in or about and during the year from 1992 up to 1994, inclusive, in the City of Manila,
Philippines, the said accused did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud ALPADI
DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, a business entity duly organized and existing under the laws of
the Republic of the Philippines, and doing business in said City, in the following manner, to wit: the
said accused being then employed as cashier and accounting clerk of the said corporation, collected
and received rental payments from the different tenants of Alpadi Development Corporation in the
total amount of P544,858.64, under the express obligation on the part of said accused to account for
and remit immediately the deposits and rentals due to said corporation, but the said accused, once
in the possession of the said amount, far from complying with her aforesaid obligation, failed and
refused and still fails and refuses to do so, despite repeated demands made upon her to that effect
and instead, with intent to defraud, unfaithfulness and grave abuse of confidence, misappropriated,
misapplied and converted the same to her own personal use and benefit, to the damage and
prejudice of Alpadi Developement Corporation represented by Angeles Manzano, in the aforesaid
sum of P544,858.64, Philippine Currency.
Trial ensued and the prosecution presented its evidence which included, among other things, the
testimonies of Angeles A. Manzano (Manzano), Office Manager of ADC and MBI, and Jaime Clamar,
Jr. (Clamar), Private Investigator; Prietos "kusang-loob na salaysay" executed before Clamar on
January 3, 1995, in which Prieto admitted collecting rental payments from the tenants of ADC and
MBI, making it appear through fraudulent deposit slips that she deposited her collections in the bank
accounts of ADC and MBI, and actually using said collections to pay for her household expenses
and to lend to employees of Tri-Tran Transit; the fraudulent deposit slips; Clamars Investigation
Report dated July 18, 1995 recommending that Prieto be charged in court for estafa and be made to

pay the amount she misappropriated; computation of Prietos unremitted/undeposited rental


collections prepared by Lourdes P. Roque, Supervising Director, and Manzano, Office Manager, with
the conforme of Prieto; and Affidavit dated December 16, 1994 of Harry Chua Ga Haou, a tenant of
MBI, stating that Prieto, personally and by a handwritten note, requested that rental payments be
made in cash rather than checks.
After resting its case, the prosecution filed its Formal Offer of Evidence, which was admitted by the
RTC in an Order dated December 13, 2004. Prieto, represented by the Public Attorneys Office
(PAO), asked for leave of court to file a Demurrer to Evidence. The RTC gave Prieto 20 days from
December 13, 2004 within which to file her Demurrer to Evidence. The 20th day of the period was
January 2, 2005, a Sunday, so Prieto could still file her Demurrer to Evidence on January 3, 2005, a
Monday. Records show that Prieto filed her Demurrer to Evidence only on January 13, 2005.
In her Demurrer to Evidence, Prieto argued that she could not be convicted for estafa because (1) as
an employee, her custody of the rental collections was precarious and for a temporary purpose or
short period only, and the juridical or constructive possession of the said collections remained in her
employer; and (2) there was no showing that demand was made upon Prieto to deliver or return the
rental collections to ADC.
In an Order dated March 8, 2005, the RTC granted Prietos Demurrer to Evidence, reasoning as
follows:
Accused being an employee of the complaining corporation, cannot be convicted of estafa because
when accused received the rental payments from the tenants, she only received the material and
physical possession of the money and the juridical possession remains in the owner. The position of
accused is likened to that of a bank teller receiving money from the depositors.
The Supreme Court ruled in the case GUZMAN vs. CA (G.R. No. L-9572, July31, 1956) that:
"The case cited by the Court of Appeals (People v. Locson, 57 Phil., 325), in support of its theory that
appellant only had the material possession of the merchandise he was selling for his principal, or
their proceeds, is not in point. In said case, the receiving teller of a bank who misappropriated
money received by him for a bank, was held guilty of qualified theft on the theory that the possession
of the teller is the possession of the bank. There is an essential distinction between the possession
by a receiving teller of funds received from third persons paid to the bank, and an agent who
receives the proceeds of sales of merchandise delivered to him in agency by his principal. In the
former case, payment by third persons to the teller is payment to the bank itself; the teller is a mere
custodian or keeper of the funds received, and has no independent right or title to retain or possess
the same as against the bank. An agent, on the other hand, can even assert, as against his own
principal, an independent, autonomous, right to retain the money or goods received in consequence
of the agency; as when the principal fails to reimburse him for advances he has made, and
indemnify him for damages suffered without his fault (Article 1915, new Civil Code; Article 1730,
old)."
Accused in this case is not even an agent of the corporation but a cashier and accounting clerk.
Payment of rentals by the tenants to the accused is also payment to the corporation because
accused is only a cashier whose duties include the receipt of rentals due from the tenants.
WHEREFORE, the Demurrer to Evidence is granted.

On the civil aspect of the case, set for hearing on May 25, 2005 and June 13, 2005 at 8:30 A.M. 6
ADC, as the private complainant in Criminal Case No. 97-157752, filed a Motion for Reconsideration
of the aforementioned RTC Order. The RTC, in an Order dated August 8, 2005, denied the Motion
for Reconsideration, thus:
The Court is constrained to deny the Motion for Reconsideration filed by private complainant
because the prosecution failed to prove all the elements of estafa with abuse of confidence under
paragraph 1(b) of Art. 315 which are the following:
1) That money, goods or other personal property be 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 be misappropriation or conversion of such money or property by the offender,
or denial on his part as 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 to the offender.
In this case, the prosecution failed to prove the first element. The Supreme Court ruled in the case of
Burce vs. CA, supra, to wit:
"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) for administration, 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. In this case, petitioner was a cash custodian who was primarily
responsible for the cash-in-vault. Her possession of the cash belonging to the bank is akin to that of
a bank teller, both being mere bank employees."
To reiterate, when accused received the rental payments from the tenants, she only received the
material and physical possession of the money and the juridical possession remains in the owner.
In view of the foregoing, the Motion for Reconsideration is hereby DENIED.
ADC sought recourse from the Court of Appeals by filing a Petition for Certiorari, docketed as CAG.R. SP No. 91714. ADC averred that the RTC committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to
lack or excess of jurisdiction in issuing the Orders dated March 8, 2005 and August 8, 2005, contrary
to law and jurisprudence, and despite the overwhelming evidence on record proving Prietos liability
for estafa. ADC additionally pointed out that Prietos Demurrer to Evidence was filed beyond the 20day period granted by the RTC.
Prieto, through the PAO, filed her Comment, arguing that: (1) the Petition for Certiorari of ADC was
not anchored on any of the grounds provided under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court and failed to
expressly indicate that there was no appeal, or any plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the
ordinary course of law, available; (2) ADC had no personality to file the Petition because only the
Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) may represent the Republic of the Philippines or the People, in

criminal proceedings, before the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court; and (3) the grant of the
demurrer to evidence dismissed the criminal case and was equivalent to Prietos acquittal, from
which no appeal could be taken, as it would place Prieto in double jeopardy.
The OSG, on behalf of the People, eventually filed, in lieu of a Comment, a Manifestation and Motion
ratifying and adopting the Petition for Certiorari of ADC. According to the OSG, in addition to Prietos
own confession, the prosecution had duly proven the elements of estafa. The cases cited by the
RTC in its assailed Orders were inapplicable to Prietos case. Also, since the grant of the demurrer to
evidence is tantamount to an acquittal, albeit based on erroneous grounds and misinterpretation of
law and jurisprudence, the remedy of appeal was not available to the People. Thus, the Petition for
Certiorari was the proper remedy.
The Court of Appeals rendered its Decision on August 28, 2009 granting the Petition for Certiorari in
CA-G.R. SP No. 91714 and finding that:
Evidence on record strongly supports the Peoples argument that the cases cited by the trial court
are inapplicable in this case. The elements of Estafa have been duly proven by the prosecution.
Records reveal that Prieto had admitted having failed to remit the rentals from 1992 to 1994, or for a
period of two (2) years. While it is a fact that she was instructed to have the rentals collected to be
deposited on the day of the collection or the following day, however, since the misappropriation was
discovered only after two (2) years, it only goes to show that she had the discretion as to when to
have these rentals deposited or not to have them deposited at all. She had control as to the amount
she wished to include as part of her collections, which led her to misappropriating the rental
collections. The said misappropriation would not have been discovered only after 2 years had there
not been a fiduciary relationship between Prieto and her employer. As such, she could not be
considered not having juridical possession of the rentals she had collected. Clearly, the trial court
erred in declaring that Prieto is likened to a bank teller, whose possession of the cash collections is
merely physical. Contrary to such findings, Prieto in this case had physical or material possession
and juridical possession with a duty to make delivery of the collections she received in trust.
Moreover, it is well to note that the case of People vs. Benitez raised by ADC, finds application in the
instant case. In Benitez, the accused was employed as collector of rents of the houses owned by his
employer. For two (2) months, the accused made several collections from his employers tenants
amounting to P540.00. Having failed to turn over said amount, or to account for it, to his employer,
upon demand, the accused offered to work in the formers establishment, in the sum of P100.00, to
be deducted from his salary every month until the whole amount of P540.00 is fully paid. The
agreement was reduced to writing. However, after working for a few days, the accused did not report
for work. His employer sent him a demand letter for the settlement of his account. As the accused
failed to pay the amount of his obligation, a complaint for Estafa was filed against him, and for which
he was convicted. The Supreme Court ratiocinates in this case that the failure to account upon
demand, for funds or property held in trust is circumstantial evidence of misappropriation. 7
Given the findings of the Court of Appeals that the RTC Orders were in contravention of law and
settled jurisprudence and were, therefore, issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction, the appellate court held that its reversal of the grant of Demurrer to Evidence
did not violate Prietos right against double jeopardy, citing People v. Hon. Laguio, Jr.8 and Dayap v.
Sendiong.9

The Court of Appeals lastly ruled, based on People v. Nano,10 that the filing of the Petition for
Certiorari by ADC, instead of by the OSG, was a mere defect in form, which was cured when the
OSG subsequently filed a Manifestation and Motion ratifying and adopting said Petition.
In the end, the Court of Appeals decreed:
WHEREFORE, finding grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, as
prayed for, the assailed Orders, of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 8, dated 08 March
2005 and 08 August 2005, in Criminal Case No. 97-157752, are hereby ANNULLED and SET
ASIDE. Let the instant case be remanded to the RTC and reinstated for the reception of the defense
evidence/further trial.11
The appellate court denied Prietos Motion for Reconsideration in its Resolution dated November 12,
2009.
The PAO, Prietos counsel before the RTC and the Court of Appeals, received a copy of the
Resolution dated November 12, 2009 on November 24, 2009, hence, giving Prieto until December 9,
2009 to appeal the adverse judgment of the Court of Appeals to this Court. Atty. Allan Julius B.
Azcueta (Azcueta), Public Attorney II of the PAO, filed on December 4, 2009 a Motion for Extension
of Time to File Petition for Review on Certiorari before the Court, requesting an extension of 30 days
from December 9, 2009, or until January 8, 2010, within which to file Prietos appeal of the Decision
dated August 28, 2009 and Resolution dated November 12, 2009 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
SP No. 91714. The Motion was docketed as G.R. No. 190282.
However, on January 12, 2010, Atty. Azcueta filed before the Court a Manifestation with Motion,
alleging that:
3. On 06 January 2010, the petitioner, Rhodora Prieto, personally visited the undersigned
counsels office and after a thorough discussion of the case with her, Prieto had a change of
heart and has decided not to further appeal her case anymore, considering that she still has
the chance to present her evidence before the lower court and at the same time the chance
to have the case settled amicably if the lower court allows:
4. After careful deliberation and exhaustive discussion with the undersigned counsel, Prieto
is now voluntarily signifying her desire to withdraw the filing of the Petition for Review on
Certiorari;
5. For this reason, the undersigned humbly and profusely apologizes for the inconvenience
that the non-filing of the petition may have caused to this Honorable Court. The motion for
extension was filed solely for the purpose of protecting and serving the interest of Prieto. 12
Atty. Azcueta then prayed for the Court to note the Manifestation with Motion and to dispense with
the filing of the Petition for Review on Certiorari.
In its Resolution dated February 10, 2010 in G.R. No. 190282, the Court resolved:
(1) to NOTE the manifestation of Public Attorneys Office that Prieto decided not to appeal
her case considering that she still has the chance to present her evidence before the lower
court and at the same time has the chance to have the case amicably settled;

(2) to GRANT the said counsels motion to withdraw the filing of the petition for review on
certiorari; and
(3) to consider this case CLOSED and TERMINATED.13
Entry of Judgment was eventually made in G.R. No. 190282 on April 5, 2010.
Meanwhile, also on February 10, 2010, Prieto, through another counsel, Atty. Xilexferen P. Barroga
(Barroga) of Barroga, Nario & Associates Law Offices, filed the instant Petition for Review on
Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, praying for the reversal of the Decision dated August
28, 2009 and Resolution dated November 12, 2009 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No.
91714 and the reinstatement of the Orders dated March 8, 2005 and August 8, 2005 of the RTC in
Criminal Case No. No. 97-157752. The Petition is docketed as G.R. No. 191025.
To justify the timeliness of the filing of her Petition in G.R. No. 191025 on February 10, 2012, Prieto
alleges that she received a copy of the Resolution dated November 12, 2009 of the Court of
Appeals, denying her Motion for Reconsideration, only on January 26, 2010, mailed to her by the
PAO.
In the present Petition, Prieto insists that she was a mere employee with continuing instruction from
ADC to deposit the rental payments either on the same day or the day after collection, and she could
not have validly retained control of the amounts collected because ownership of the same still
belonged to ADC. Prieto goes on to argue that without juridical possession of the rental payments
she collected, she cannot be convicted of estafa since an essential element of the crime is lacking.
In a Resolution14 dated March 3, 2010 the Court, without necessarily giving due course to the
Petition in G.R. No. 191025, required ADC to file its Comment.
ADC, in its Comment, prays for the outright denial of the Petition on the following grounds: (1) G.R.
Nos. 190282 and 191025 both involve Prietos appeal of the Decision dated August 28, 2009 and
Resolution dated November 12, 2009 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 91714, and in the
Resolution dated February 10, 2010, the Court already granted Prietos motion to withdraw the
Petition in G.R. No. 190282 and considered G.R. No. 190282 closed and terminated; (2) even with
the grant of Prietos previous motion for extension of time, she only had until January 8, 2010 within
which to appeal the adverse judgment of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 91714, so the filing
of the Petition in G.R. No. 191025 on February 10, 2010 was already out of time; and (3) Prietos
arguments in her Petition in G.R. No. 191025 merely rehash or restate those already resolved by the
Court of Appeals.
Prieto claims in her Reply that she was not aware that Atty. Azcueta filed a Motion for Extension of
Time to file a Petition for Review, docketed as G.R. No. 190282 and that she did not authorize Atty.
Azcueta to file a Manifestation with Motion withdrawing her appeal of the adverse judgment of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 91714. According to Prieto, she went to the PAO from time to
time to follow-up on her case, but she felt that her case was not being diligently attended to, so she
decided to hire the services of a private lawyer with money raised by her relatives. When she asked
for a copy of the Court of Appeals Resolution dated November 12, 2009 denying her Motion for
Reconsideration, she was told by the PAO that a copy of the same would be sent to her through
mail. She received a copy of said Resolution only on January 26, 2010, giving her until February 10,

2010 to appeal. Consequently, her Petition in G.R. No. 191025 filed on February 10, 2010 was filed
within the reglementary period.
At the outset, the Court notes that both G.R. Nos. 190282 and 191025 involve Prietos appeal of the
Decision dated August 28, 2009 and Resolution dated November 12, 2009 of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. SP No. 91714. On February 10, 2010, the motion to withdraw the appeal in G.R. No.
190282, filed by the PAO, was granted by the Court; and on the same date, the Petition in G.R. No.
191025 was filed by Prietos new counsel.
The Court hereby outrightly denies Prietos Petition in G.R. No. 191025 for being filed out of time,
without the need of delving into the propriety of the institution of G.R. No. 191025 in light of the
previous withdrawal of G.R. No. 190282.
The reglementary period for filing a Petition for Review on Certiorari is set forth in Rule 45, Section 2
of the Rules of Court, which provides:
SEC. 2. Time for filing; extension. The petition shall be filed within fifteen (15) days from notice of
the judgment or final order or resolution appealed from, or of the denial of the petitioners motion for
new trial or reconsideration filed in due time after notice of judgment. On
motion duly filed and served, with full payment of the docket and other lawful fees and the deposit for
costs before the expiration of the reglementary period, the Supreme Court may for justifiable
reasons grant an extension of thirty (30) days only within which to file the petition.
In this case, Prieto, through her counsel of record, the PAO, received a copy of the Resolution
denying her Motion for Reconsideration of the adverse judgment of the Court of Appeals on
November 24, 2009. The 15-day period to appeal would have ended on December 9, 2009, but with
the 30-day extension period prayed for by the PAO in G.R. No. 190282, the last day for filing the
appeal was moved to January 8, 2010. Clearly, the filing of the Petition in G.R. No. 191025 by
Prietos new counsel was already beyond the reglementary period for appeal.
Time and again the Court has declared that the right to appeal is neither a natural right nor a part of
due process. It is merely a statutory privilege and may be exercised only in the manner and in
accordance with the provisions of law. Thus, one who seeks to avail of the right to appeal must
comply with the requirements of the Rules. Failure to do so often leads to the loss of the right to
appeal.15
Prieto prays for the liberal application of the rules of procedure and posits that the 15-day
reglementary period be counted from January 26, 2010, the day she actually received a copy of the
Resolution denying her Motion for Reconsideration of the adverse judgment of the Court of
Appeals, sent to her through mail by the PAO.
The Court is not persuaded.
In National Power Corporation v. Laohoo,16 the Court pronounced that:
The rules provide that if a party is appearing by counsel, service upon him shall be made upon his
counsel or one of them unless service upon the party himself is ordered by the court. x x x.

The general rule is that a client is bound by the acts, even mistakes, of his counsel in the realm of
procedural technique. The exception to this rule is when the negligence of counsel is so gross,
reckless and inexcusable that the client is deprived of his day in court. The failure of a partys
counsel to notify him on time of the adverse judgment to enable him to appeal therefrom is
negligence, which is not excusable. Notice sent to counsel of record is binding upon the client, and
the neglect or failure of counsel to inform him of an adverse judgment resulting in the loss of his right
to appeal is not a ground for setting aside a judgment valid and regular on its face.
To sustain petitioners self-serving argument that it cannot be bound by its counsels negligence
would set a dangerous precedent, as it would enable every party-litigant to render inoperative any
adverse order or decision of the courts, through the simple expedient of alleging gross negligence on
the part of its counsel. (Citations omitted.)
The Court further elucidated in People v. Kawasa and Salido17 on why it is not easily swayed by
assertions of gross negligence or mistake on the part of the counsel that should not bind the client:
If indeed accused-appellant felt and believed that his counsel was inept, that he should have taken
action, such as discharging him earlier, instead of waiting until an adverse decision was handed, and
thereupon heap all blame and condemnation on his counsel, who cannot now be heard to defend
himself. This cannot be allowed, for to do otherwise would result in a situation where all a defeated
party would have to do to salvage his case is to claim neglect or mistake on the part of his counsel
as a ground for reversing an adverse judgment. There would be no end to litigation if this were
allowed as every shortcoming of counsel could be the subject of challenge by his client through
another counsel who, if he is also found wanting, would likewise be disowned by the same client
through another counsel, and so on ad infinitum. This would render court proceedings indefinite,
tentative, and subject to reopening at any time by the mere subterfuge of replacing counsel. x x x.
Prieto herein not only alleges mistake or negligence on the part of the PAO, but more seriously,
attributes to her former counsel deliberate acts which deprived her of her right to appeal, i.e.,
refusing to give her a copy of the Resolution dated November 12, 2009 of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. SP No. 91714 and misrepresenting to the Court that it was authorized by Prieto to withdraw
her appeal in G.R. No. 190282. However, other than Prietos bare allegations, there is no other
evidence of the purported detrimental acts of the PAO. In addition, Prietos allegations are so
contrary to the past conduct of the PAO, which diligently represented her before the RTC, the Court
of Appeals, and even up to this Court, with the PAO even timely filing the Motion for Extension of
Time to File Petition for Review on Certiorari before this Court, docketed as G.R. No. 190282.
It must be stressed that anyone seeking exemption from the application of the reglementary period
for filing an appeal has the burden of proving the existence of exceptionally meritorious instances
warranting such deviation.18Parties praying for the liberal interpretation of the rules must be able to
hurdle that heavy burden of proving that they deserve an exceptional treatment. It was never the
Courts intent "to forge a bastion for erring litigants to violate the rules with impunity." 19 Unfortunately
for Prieto, she was unable to discharge this burden of proof.
Procedural rules should not be so easily brushed aside with the mere averment of the "higher
interest of justice," as the Court discussed in Building Care Corp./Leopard Security & Investigation
Agency v. Macaraeg20:

It should be emphasized that the resort to a liberal application, or suspension of the application of
procedural rules, must remain as the exception to the well-settled principle that rules must be
complied with for the orderly administration of justice. In Marohomsalic v. Cole, the Court stated:
While procedural rules may be relaxed in the interest of justice, it is well-settled that these are tools
designed to facilitate the adjudication of cases. The relaxation of procedural rules in the interest of
justice was never intended to be a license for erring litigants to violate the rules with impunity.
Liberality in the interpretation and application of the rules can be invoked only in proper cases and
under justifiable causes and circumstances. While litigation is not a game of technicalities, every
case must be prosecuted in accordance with the prescribed procedure to ensure an orderly and
speedy administration of justice.
The later case of Daikoku Electronics Phils., Inc. v. Raza, further explained that:
To be sure, the relaxation of procedural rules cannot be made without any valid reasons proffered for
or underpinning it. To merit liberality, petitioner must show reasonable cause justifying its noncompliance with the rules and must convince the Court that the outright dismissal of the petition
would defeat the administration of substantial justice. x x x. The desired leniency cannot be accorded
absent valid and compelling reasons for such a procedural lapse. x x x.
We must stress that the bare invocation of "the interest of substantial justice" line is not some magic
want that will automatically compel this Court to suspend procedural rules. Procedural rules are not
to be belittled, let alone dismissed simply because their non-observance may have resulted in
prejudice to a partys substantial rights. Utter disregard of the rules cannot be justly rationalized by
harping on the policy of liberal construction. (Emphases and citations omitted.)
Prieto cannot claim that she had been deprived of her day in court when her arguments in support of
her Demurrer to Evidence had been heard by the RTC and the Court of Appeals. Moreover, she
does not lose her liberty at this point for she still has the opportunity to present evidence in her
defense before the RTC in the continuation of the proceedings in Criminal Case No. 97-157752.
With the withdrawal of the appeal in G.R. No. 190282 and the belated filing of the Petition in G.R.
No. 191025, the Decision dated August 28, 2009 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 91714,
reversing the grant by the RTC of Prietos Demurrer to Evidence and reinstating Criminal Case No.
97-157752, had become final and executory, thus, immutable. As the Court declared in Lalican v.
Insular Life Assurance Co. Ltd.21:
A judgment becomes "final and executory" by operation of law. Finality becomes a fact when the
reglementary period to appeal lapses and no appeal is perfected within such period. As a
consequence, no court (not even this Court) can exercise appellate jurisdiction to review a case or
modify a decision that has become final. When a final judgment is executory, it becomes immutable
and unalterable. It may no longer be modified in any respect either by the court, which rendered it or
even by this Court. The doctrine is founded on considerations of public policy and sound practice
that, at the risk of occasional errors, judgments must become final at some definite point in time.
(Citations omitted.)
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED for being filed out of time.
SO ORDERED.

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO


Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:

[G.R. NO. 132422 - March 30, 2004]


FILADAMS PHARMA, INC., Petitioner, v. HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and
ANTONIO FERIA,Respondents.
DECISION
CORONA, J.:
This is a Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking to annul and set aside
the resolution1 dated May 29, 1997 of the Court of Appeals denying petitioner's Petition
for Certiorari and its resolution2 dated January 23, 1998 denying petitioner's motion for
reconsideration.
The antecedent facts follow.
Petitioner Filadams Pharma, Inc. (Filadams) was a corporation engaged in the business of selling
medicines to wholesalers. Private respondent Antonio Feria was its sales representative from
November 3, 1993 until his dismissal on March 9, 1994. In an audit conducted sometime
between March 10 to 26, 1994, respondent Feria was found accountable for P41,733.01
representing unsold but unreturned stocks and samples, unremitted collections and unliquidated
cash advances. Filadams alleged that these shortages and accountabilities were admitted by
respondent through his wife and counsel in a conference held at its office but despite repeated
demands, respondent failed to settle them to its damage and prejudice.3
In his defense, respondent denied the charge. He averred that, although he was an agent of the
corporation, he was not the trustee of its products. The cash advances were spent, as intended, for
promoting the products of the company and it was only the unexpended amount that was
supposed to be returned by way of liquidation. The cash rebates were properly given to the
customers concerned although the same were given in kind, as requested by the customers. In a
spot check conducted in his area in January and February of 1994, the stock overages in his
possession were segregated and returned to the company but he was not given the returned goods
slip (RGS). He also returned various items or medicines on March 14, 1994 amounting
to P19,615.49 but what was reflected in the inventory report was only P8,185.30. He maintained
that he neither misappropriated nor converted the subject sums of money for his personal use or
benefit. If ever, his obligation was purely civil in nature and the company in fact accepted his
partial payment of P3,000 through his wife in a conference held at petitioners office on
September 13, 1994.4
In a reply-affidavit, the internal auditor of Filadams asserted that respondent occupied a position
of trust and confidence. He was not given a new cash advance but merely a replenishment of the

used revolving fund. The cash rebates were never received by the customer as confirmed by the
customer himself. Respondent signed the physical inventory
report so he could not claim that he made returns that were not recorded. Paying back the amount
ofP3,000 to the company was an acknowledgment of his stock shortages and proof of his breach
of trust and confidence resulting in the company's damage and prejudice.5
The Assistant City Prosecutor of Quezon City dismissed the complaint-affidavit for lack of cause
of action:
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A careful examination of the affidavit complaint plus the reply affidavit of complainant failed to
state the ultimate facts constituting the cause of action.
While complainant states that their audit resulted in Feria's misappropriation of the company's
products, unremitted collections, unreturned advances and unsubmitted sales proceeds in the
total amount ofP41,733.01, the specifics of the misappropriation, (i.e., [ineligible].. . when
committed, where committed, how much per act of misappropriation or was the misappropriation
a one-act deal[ineligible]) were all conclusions a general recitals (sic) of the fact of
commission/omission followed by the personal conclusion of guilt by the complainant which are
not sustained by admissible evidence.6
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but this was denied by 1st Assistant City Prosecutor
Gerona who ruled that there was no "manifest error or grave abuse of discretion to justify
reversal, alteration or modification of the challenged resolution."7
Petitioner appealed to the Secretary of Justice under the 1993 Revised Rules on Appeals from
Resolutions in Preliminary Investigations or Reinvestigations.8
But the Department of Justice (DOJ), through the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor,9 also
dismissed the appeal:
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While it is an undisputed fact that respondent incurred some accountabilities with Filadams
during the duration of his employment, as shown by respondent's payment of the amount
of P3,000.00 on September 13, 1994, mere acknowledgment by respondent of these
accountabilities does not of itself establish that estafa under par. 1 (b) was committed. What is
apparent from the evidence adduced is the necessity for the parties to sit down together and make
an accounting of the alleged accountability. Complainant failed to present any evidence of
conversion of the property to the benefit of the respondent or of some other person. Respondent's
failure to return the goods or cash advances in this case is not sufficient proof of conversion. If at
all, respondent's liability to the company is purely civil in nature as the acts complained of do not
constitute the crime of estafa.10
On the ground of grave abuse of discretion, Filadams filed with the Court of Appeals a Petition
forCertiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court seeking to annul the above-quoted decision of
the DOJ dismissing its appeal and affirming the resolution of the Assistant City Prosecutor of
Quezon City. The Court of Appeals denied the petition on two grounds: (1) the proper remedy for

the petitioner was a Petition for Review under Rule 45 and not a Petition for Certiorariinasmuch
as certiorari wasavailable only if there was no appeal or any plain, speedy and adequate remedy
in the ordinary course of law, and (2) assuming that a Petition for Certiorariwas proper, the DOJ
decision was not marked by grave abuse of discretion.11
Hence, the petitioner filed the instant petition seeking to annul the decision of the Court of
Appeals and raising the following issues:
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I
WHETHER OR NOT APPEAL AND NOT CERTIORARI IS THE PROPER REMEDY IN
ASSAILING THE TWO RESOLUTIONS OF THE CHIEF STATE PROSECUTOR FINDING
THE ABSENCE OF PROBABLE CAUSE.
II
WHETHER OR NOT BOTH THE CHIEF STATE PROSECUTOR AND THE COURT OF
APPEALS HAVE COMMITTED A (SIC) GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN
DISREGARDING THE GUIDELINES SET BY THIS HON. SUPREME COURT IN
DETERMINING THE EXISTENCE OF A PROBABLE CAUSE TO WARRANT THE FILING
OF AN INFORMATION IN COURT.12
Before anything else, we need to clarify some ground rules. This case was elevated to the Court
of Appeals by way of a petition on certiorari under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure. The Court of Appeals dismissed the Petition for Certiorarion the ground that the
proper remedy was Petition for Review under Revised Circular No. 1-91, now embodied in 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 to the Court of
Appeals."13 The question is: was the Office of the Prosecutor of Quezon City a quasi-judicial
agency whose resolutions were appealable to the Court of Appeals under Rule 43? In Bautista v.
Court of Appeals,14 we ruled:
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Petitioner submits that a prosecutor conducting a preliminary investigation performs a quasijudicial function, citing Cojuangco v. PCGG, Koh v. Court of Appeals, Andaya v. Provincial
Fiscal of Surigao del Norte and Crespo v. Mogul. 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 quasijudicial 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."

In Luzon Development Bank v. Luzon Development Bank Employees, 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; 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. 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.
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 (Office of the Regional State Prosecutor) has the power to resolve
appeals with finality only where the penalty prescribed for the offense does not exceed prision
correccional, regardless of the imposable fine, the only remedy of petitioner, in the absence of
grave abuse of discretion, is to present her defense in the trial of the case.
With our ruling in Bautista that the Office of the Prosecutor was not covered by the appellate
process under Rule 43 of the Rules of Court, what then was petitioner's remedy from the
resolution of the Assistant Prosecutor dismissing his complaint? Based on the 1993 Revised
Rules on Appeals from Resolutions in Preliminary Investigations or Reinvestigations now the
2000 NPS15 Rule on Appeals the petitioner could appeal to the Secretary of Justice. In this case,
the petitioner did appeal to the Secretary of Justice but his appeal was dismissed. His motion for
reconsideration was also dismissed. Since there was no more appeal or other remedy available in
the ordinary course of law, the petitioner correctly filed a Petition for Certiorariwith the Court of
Appeals on the ground of grave abuse of discretion.
The next question now arises: was the Court of Appeals correct in dismissing the Petition
for Certiorarion the ground that there was no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the DOJ (in
dismissing the petitioner's appeal, thus affirming the resolution of the Assistant City
Prosecutor) ? The Court of Appeals cryptic ruling on this matter read:
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His ruling that "in the crime of estafa under Art. 315 par. 1 (b), it is an essential element that
there be proof of misappropriation or conversion", is not inconsistent with the ruling of the
Supreme Court inIlagan v. Court of Appeals, 239 SCRA 575, on which petitioner relies that the

operative act in the perpetration of estafa under the said article and paragraph is the failure of the
agent to turn over or deliver to his principal the amounts he collected despite the duty to do so.16
To determine whether there was probable cause warranting the filing of the information for
estafa through misappropriation or with abuse of confidence17, the presence of the following
elements assumes critical importance:
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1. that money, goods, or other personal property is 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;
chanrobl esvirtuallawlibrary

2. that there is a misappropriation or conversion of such money or property by the offender or


denial on his part of such receipt;
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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.18
The first, third and fourth elements were duly established by the complaint-affidavits and were
not disputed by the parties. What was disputed was whether the element of misappropriation, the
most important element of the crime charged, was shown by the affidavits to engender a wellfounded belief that a crime was committed and the respondent was probably guilty
thereof.19 Invoking Ilagan v. Court of Appeals,20 petitioner contends that it is the mere failure to
turn over or to deliver to the principal the amounts collected, despite the duty to do so, that
constitutes the operative fact in the crime of estafa through unfaithfulness or abuse of
confidence. In short, the mere failure of respondent Feria to turn over the stock shortages, money
collections, cash advances and unused cash rebates, despite demand and the duty to do so,
constituted prima facie evidence of misappropriation.
The essence of estafa under Article 315 (1) (b) of the Revised Penal Code is the appropriation or
conversion of money or property received, to the prejudice of the owner thereof. It takes place
when a person actually appropriates the property of another for his own benefit, use and
enjoyment. The failure to account, upon demand, for funds or property held in trust is
circumstantial evidence of misappropriation.21 For example, in an agency for the sale of jewelry,
it is the agent's duty to return the jewelry upon demand of the owner and the failure to do so is
evidence of conversion of the property by the agent.22 In other words, the demand for the return
of the thing delivered in trust and the failure of the accused to account for it are circumstantial
evidence of misappropriation. However, this presumption is rebuttable. If the accused is able to
satisfactorily explain his failure to produce the thing delivered in trust, he may not be held liable
for estafa.23
Did private respondent Feria satisfactorily explain his failure to produce the goods delivered to
him in trust as well as turn over his collections upon demand by the petitioner? His own counteraffidavit showed that he did not. He claimed that he returned various items sometime in March,
1994 amounting to P19,615.49. He, however, neither presented any supporting evidence nor
clarified why he failed to account for his collections. His explanations, on the other hand,

regarding his unliquidated cash advances and unused cash rebates were also inadequate
inasmuch they were self-serving and unsubstantiated.24
In its reply-affidavit, petitioner was able to controvert the explanations of respondent. The
unrecorded returns claimed by respondent were belied by the physical inventory report prepared
and signed by both the warehouseman and respondent himself. Respondent admitted that he was
given checks for cash rebates to particular customers. Since the rebates given to customers were
in the form of goods, as admitted by the respondent himself, why did he therefore not return the
checks given to him? With respect to the unliquidated cash advances, petitioner clarified that it
was incorrect for respondent to allege that he had already liquidated his cash advances when he
was given another P1,500 after his first cash advance of P2,500. The truth was that he was given
another P1,500 not because he had already liquidated his first cash advance of P2,500 but
because it was the company's practice to replenish the revolving fund to its original amount.
Therefore, the release of a new cash advance was not proof of liquidation of his previous cash
advances. The inventory clearly showed in fact that he still had not liquidated his cash
advances.25
In the face of petitioners fully documented evidence (inventory reports, receipts, balances of
accountabilities, computations of short/over samples, job description and demand letter
addressed to respondent), all respondent Feria could offer were a lame denial and an
unsubstantiated, off-tangent explanation. He offered absolutely no clarification concerning the
unremitted collections and unreturned, unused check rebates.
The rule that "the failure to account, upon demand, for funds or property held in trust is
circumstantial evidence of misappropriation" applies without doubt in the present case. Since a
preliminary investigation is merely a determination of "whether there is a sufficient ground to
engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed and the respondent is probably
guilty thereof, and should be held for trial,"26 we find the documented allegations in the
complaint-affidavit and reply-affidavit of petitioner Filadams sufficient to generate such wellfounded belief.
While it is this Courts general policy not to interfere in the conduct of preliminary investigations,
leaving the investigating officers sufficient discretion to determine probable cause,27 we have
nonetheless made some exceptions to the general rule, such as:
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1. when necessary to afford adequate protection to the constitutional rights of the accused;

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2. when necessary for the orderly administration of justice or to avoid oppression or multiplicity
of actions;
chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

3. when there is a prejudicial question which is sub judice;

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4. when the acts of the officer are without or in excess of authority;


5. where the prosecution is under an invalid law, ordinance or regulation;

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6. when double jeopardy is clearly apparent;

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7. where the court has no jurisdiction over the offense;

chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

8. where it is a case of persecution rather than prosecution;

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9. where the charges are manifestly false and motivated by the lust for vengeance;

chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

10. when there is clearly no prima facie case against the accused and a motion to quash on that
ground has been denied.28 (emphasis ours)
From the records, it is clear to us that a prima faciecase for estafa exists. The dismissal of
petitioners complaint-affidavit and the DOJ's affirmance thereof on appeal was a patent
error constituting grave abuse of discretion within the ambit of exception no. 4 above.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The resolution of the Court of Appeals
dated May 29, 1997 finding no grave abuse of discretion and its resolution dated January 23,
1998 denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE;
and the resolution of the Department of Justice through the Chief State Prosecutor dated January
8, 1997 dismissing the appeal of the petitioner and affirming the resolution of the Assistant City
Prosecutor of Quezon City dated February 28, 1995 dismissing petitioner's complaint for estafa
against private respondent Antonio Feria is hereby ANNULLED for grave abuse of discretion.
SO ORDERED.
Vitug, J., (Chairman) * on leave Sandoval-Gutierrez,** (Acting Chairman) Corona and Carpio
Morales, JJ. concur
ATT E S TAT I O N
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation before the
case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.
Associate Justice
Acting Chair, Third Division

C E R T I F I C AT I O N
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairmans
Attestation, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts
Division.

Endnotes:

[* On official business leave.


**

Acting Third Division Chair.

Penned by Associate Justice Hector L. Hofilea and


concurred in by Associate Justices Artemon
1

D. Luna and Artemio G. Tuquero of the Twelfth Division;


Rollo, pp. 34-35.
2

Rollo, pp. 44-45.

Annex "A," Resolution of Chief State Prosecutor Zuno;


Rollo, p. 23.
3

Ibid.

Ibid., p. 24.

Records, p. 33.

Ibid., p. 39.

Records, p. 41-47.

Previously, appeals to the Secretary of Justice may be


referred to and resolved by the Chief State Prosecutor. This
practice was changed on October 12, 1998 by Department
Circular No. 69 entitled "Disposition and Resolution of
Petitions for Review / Appeals to the Department and all
Motions for Reconsideration Arising Therefrom" which
provides that "all petitions for review/appeals to the
Department of Justice from the resolutions of the Regional
State Prosecutors, Provincial and City Prosecutors together
with the Motions for Reconsideration arising therefrom shall
9

be referred, resolved and acted upon onlyby [the Secretary


of Justice]."
10

Rollo, pp. 24-25.

11

Ibid., pp. 44-45.

12

Rollo, pp. 14-15.

13

Sec. 1, Rule 43, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.

14

360 SCRA 618 [2001].

15

National Prosecution Service.

16

Rollo, p. 35.

Subdivision No. 1, Par. (b), Article 315, Revised Penal


Code.
17

18

Mangio v. Court of Appeals, 371 SCRA 466, 477 [2001].

Section 1, Rule 112, 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal


Procedure.
19

20

239 SCRA 575 [1994].

Tubb v. People, 101 Phil 114 [1957]; Panlilio v. CA, 115


Phil 168 [1962]; Sullano v. People, 17 SCRA 488 [1966].
21

22

U.S. v. Zamora, 2 Phil 583 [1903].

23

III R. Aquino, The Revised Penal Code 264 [1997].

24

Records, pp. 24-25.

25

Ibid., pp. 27-31.

Section 1, Rule 112, 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal


Procedure; Advincula v. CA, 343 SCRA 583 [2000].
26

Mendoza-Arce v. Ombudsman, 380 SCRA 325 [2002],


citing Sebastian, Sr. v. Garchitorena, 343 SCRA 463
[2000]; Camanag v. Guerrero, 268 SCRA 473
[1997];Fernando v. Sandiganbayan, 212 SCRA 680 [1992].
27

Mendoza-Arce v. Ombudsman, 380 SCRA 325 [2002],


citing Posadas v. Ombudsman, 341 SCRA 388 [2000]; Venus
v. Desierto, 298 SCRA 196 [1998];Brocka v. Enrile, 192 SCRA
183 [1990].
28

REVISED PENAL CODE


Estafa; elements. The offense of estafa committed with abuse of confidence has the following
elements under Article 315, paragraph 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code, as amended: (a) that money,
goods or other personal property is 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; (b) that there be misappropriation or conversion of such money or property by the offender, or
denial on his part of such receipt; (c) that such misappropriation or conversion or denial is to the
prejudice of another; and (d)there is demand by the offended party to the offender. Esla Macandog
Magtira v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 170964, March 7, 2012.
Estafa; elements. The Supreme Court ruled that all the above elements [of estafa] are present in
this case, having been established by the prosecutions evidence and by the petitioners own
admissions. The first element was established by the evidence showing that the petitioner received
various sums of money from the private complainants to be held in trust for them under
the Paluwagan operation. The petitioner admitted that she was under obligation, at a fixed date, to
account for and to deliver thePaluwagan funds to the private complainants in the sequential order
agreed upon among them. The second element was established by the evidence that the petitioner
failed to account for and to deliver the Paluwagan funds to the private complainants on the agreed
time of delivery. The third and fourth elements of the offense were proven by evidence showing that
the petitioner failed to account for and to deliver the Paluwagan funds to the private complainants
despite several demands made upon her by the private complainants. Each of the private
complainants testified as to how they were prejudiced when they failed to receive their
allotted Paluwagan funds. Given the totality of evidence, the Supreme Court upheld the conviction
of the petitioner of the crime charged. Esla Macandog Magtira v. People of the
Philippines, G.R. No. 170964, March 7, 2012.

G.R. No. L-15923

June 30, 1960

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
BENJAMIN BENITEZ, defendant-appellant.
Assistant Solicitor General Jose P. Alejandro and Attorney Rodrigo C. Capulong for appellee.
Jose Galvan for appellant.
GUTIERREZ DAVID, J.:
This is an appeal from a decision of the Court of First Instance of Manila finding Benjamin Benitez
guilty of the crime estafa and sentencing him to an indeterminate penalty of from 2 months and 1
day of arresto mayor to 1 year and 1 day of prision correccional, with the accessory of the law, to
indemnify the offended party in the amount of P540.00 with subsidiary imprisonment in case of
insolvency not to exceed 1/3 of the principal penalty, and to pay the costs.
The facts are not disputed. The accused Benjamin Benitez was employed by Jose Cua as collector
of rents of the houses owned by the latter. In the months of July and August, 1956, the accused
made several collections from his employer's tenants amounting to P540.00. Having failed to turn
over said amount, or to account for it, to his employer, upon demand, the accused offered to work in
the former's establishment, the sum P100.00, to be deducted from his salary every month until the
whole amount of P540.00 is fully paid. The offer and the conditions for his employment were
accepted by Jose Cua and reduced to writing.
The accused, however, after working in Cua's establishment for only a few days, did not report or
show up for work, whereupon Cua wrote to him a letter demanding settlement of his account. The
accused having failed to pay the amount of his obligation, a complaint for estafa was filed against
him. He was convicted and sentenced as stated at the beginning of this opinion. From that sentence,
he appealed to the Court Appeals, contending that the lower court erred in finding him guilty upon his
mere failure to account for and turn over his collections, there being no proof of misappropriation or
conversion, and in not considering that his agreement with his employer converted his criminal
liability, if any, into a mere civil obligation. The questions raised being purely legal, the case was
certified to this Court.
After going over the record, we entertain no doubt that the accused has committed estafa.
In the case of Tubb vs. People and the Court of Appeals (101 Phil., 114; 53 Off. Gaz. [18] 6096), this
Court held that "the failure to account upon demand, for funds or property held in trust is
circumstancial evidence of misappropriation." In another case involving a prosecution for the same
crime as in the present, it was held that "... it is the duty of the agent to return the jewelry upon
demand by the owner and the failure todo so is evidence of the conversion of the property by the
agent. (People vs. Zamora, 2 Phil., 382.)" (People vs. Limbo, CA, 51 Off. Gaz., 228.) In the case at
bar, the accused admits having collected the amount of P540.00 as rentals from the different tenants
of his employer. It is likewise, admitted that he failed to account for and turn over said amount to his
employer, upon demand therefor, without giving any reason or explanation whatsoever. These
circumstances, together with the fact that the accused even obligated himself to make restitution,
clearly show that the amount of P540.00, which he was duty bound to deliver to his employer, was
misappropriated by him.

As to the contention that the liability of the accused is civil only because of the written agreement
between him and his employer, it is well-settled that criminal liability for estafa is not affected by
compromise or novation of contract, for it is a public offense which must be prosecuted and
punished by the Government on its own motion even though complete reparation should have been
made of the damages suffered by the offended party, (U. S. vs. Mendezona, 2 Phil., 353; U. S. vs.
Ontengco, 4 Phil., 144; U. S. vs. Rodriguez, 9 Phil., 153; People vs. Leachon 56 Phil., 739;
Javier vs. People, 70 Phil., 550.) As was said in the case of People vs. Gervacio (102 Phil., 687; 54
Off. Gaz. [9] 2898), "a criminal offense is committed against the People and the offended party may
not waived or extinguish the criminal liability that the law imposes for the commission of the offense."
The fact, therefore, that the accused herein had, with the consent of the offended party, assumed the
obligation of paying the rentals, which he collected, out of his own salary after he had committed the
misappropriation, does not obliterate the criminal liability already incurred.
There being no error in the judgment appealed from, the same is hereby affirmed, with costs against
the accused.
Paras, C.J., Bengzon, Montemayor, Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Concepcion, Reyes, J.B.L., and
Barrera, JJ.,concur.

ANTHONY L. NG,
Petitioner,

G.R. No. 173905


Present:
CORONA, J.,
Chairperson,VELASCO, JR.,
ABAD,*
PEREZ,** and
MENDOZA, JJ.

- versus-

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,


Respondent.

Promulgated:

April 23, 2010


x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
VELASCO, JR.
The Case
This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 seeking to reverse
and set aside the August 29, 2003 Decision[1] and July 25, 2006 Resolution of the

Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 25525, which affirmed the


Decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 95 in Quezon City, in
Criminal Case No. Q-99-85133 for Estafa under Article 315, paragraph 1(b) of the
Revised Penal Code (RPC) in relation to Section 3 of Presidential Decree No. (PD)
115 or the Trust Receipts Law.
The Facts
Sometime in the early part of 1997, petitioner Anthony Ng, then engaged in
the business of building and fabricating telecommunication towers under the trade
name Capitol Blacksmith and Builders, applied for a credit line of PhP 3,000,000
with Asiatrust Development Bank, Inc. (Asiatrust). In support of Asiatrusts credit
investigation, petitioner voluntarily submitted the following documents: (1) the
contracts he had with Islacom, Smart, and Infocom; (2) the list of projects wherein
he was commissioned by the said telecommunication companies to build several
steel towers; and (3) the collectible amounts he has with the said companies.[3]
On
May
30,
1997,
Asiatrust
approved
petitioners
loan
application. Petitioner was then required to sign several documents, among which
are the Credit Line Agreement, Application and Agreement for Irrevocable L/C,
Trust Receipt Agreements,[4] and Promissory Notes. Though the Promissory Notes
matured on September 18, 1997, the two (2) aforementioned Trust Receipt
Agreements did not bear any maturity dates as they were left unfilled or in blank
by Asiatrust.[5]
After petitioner received the goods, consisting of chemicals and metal plates
from his suppliers, he utilized them to fabricate the communication towers ordered
from him by his clients which were installed in three project sites, namely: Isabel,
Leyte; Panabo, Davao; and Tongonan.
As petitioner realized difficulty in collecting from his client Islacom, he
failed to pay his loan to Asiatrust. Asiatrust then conducted a surprise ocular
inspection of petitioners business through Villarva S. Linga, Asiatrusts
representative appraiser. Linga thereafter reported to Asiatrust that he found that
approximately 97% of the subject goods of the Trust Receipts were sold-out and
that only 3 % of the goods pertaining to PN No. 1963 remained. Asiatrust then

endorsed petitioners account to its Account Management Division for the possible
restructuring of his loan. The parties thereafter held a series of conferences to
work out the problem and to determine a way for petitioner to pay his
debts. However, efforts towards a settlement failed to be reached.
On March 16, 1999, Remedial Account Officer Ma. Girlie C. Bernardez filed
a Complaint-Affidavit before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Quezon
City. Consequently, on September 12, 1999, an Information for Estafa, as defined
and penalized under Art. 315, par. 1(b) of the RPC in relation to Sec. 3, PD 115
or the Trust Receipts Law, was filed with the RTC. The said Information reads:
That on or about the 30th day of May 1997, in Quezon City,
Philippines, the above-named petitioner, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully, and feloniously defraud Ma. Girlie C. Bernardez by entering
into a Trust Receipt Agreement with said complainant whereby said
petitioner as entrustee received in trust from the said complainant
various chemicals in the total sum of P4.5 million with the obligation to
hold the said chemicals in trust as property of the entruster with the right
to sell the same for cash and to remit the proceeds thereof to the
entruster, or to return the said chemicals if unsold; but said petitioner
once in possession of the same, contrary to his aforesaid obligation under
the trust receipt agreement with intent to defraud did then and there
misappropriated, misapplied and converted the said amount to his own
personal use and benefit and despite repeated demands made upon him,
said petitioner refused and failed and still refuses and fails to make good
of his obligation, to the damage and prejudice of the said Ma. Girlie C.
Bernardez in the amount of P2,971,650.00, Philippine Currency.
CONTRARY TO LAW.

Upon arraignment, petitioner pleaded not guilty to the charges. Thereafter,


a full-blown trial ensued.
During the pendency of the abovementioned case, conferences between
petitioner and Asiatrusts Remedial Account Officer, Daniel Yap, were
held. Afterward, a Compromise Agreement was drafted by Asiatrust. One of the

requirements of the Compromise Agreement was for petitioner to issue six (6)
postdated checks. Petitioner, in good faith, tried to comply by issuing two or three
checks, which were deposited and made good. The remaining checks, however,
were not deposited as the Compromise Agreement did not push through.
For his defense, petitioner argued that: (1) the loan was granted as his
working capital and that the Trust Receipt Agreements he signed with Asiatrust
were merely preconditions for the grant and approval of his loan; (2) the Trust
Receipt Agreement corresponding to Letter of Credit No. 1963 and the Trust
Receipt Agreement corresponding to Letter of Credit No. 1964 were both contracts
of adhesion, since the stipulations found in the documents were prepared by
Asiatrust in fine print; (3) unfortunately for petitioner, his contract worth PhP
18,000,000 with Islacom was not yet paid since there was a squabble as to the real
ownership of the latters company, but Asiatrust was aware of petitioners
receivables which were more than sufficient to cover the obligation as shown in the
various Project Listings with Islacom, Smart Communications, and Infocom; (4)
prior to the Islacom problem, he had been faithfully paying his obligation to
Asiatrust as shown in Official Receipt Nos. 549001, 549002, 565558, 577198,
577199, and 594986,[6] thus debunking Asiatrusts claim of fraud and bad faith
against him; (5) during the pendency of this case, petitioner even attempted to
settle his obligations as evidenced by the two United Coconut Planters Bank
Checks[7] he issued in favor of Asiatrust; and (6) he had already paid PhP 1.8
million out of the PhP 2.971 million he owed as per Statement of Account dated
January 26, 2000.

Ruling of the Trial Court


After trial on the merits, the RTC, on May 29, 2001, rendered a Decision,
finding petitioner guilty of the crime of Estafa. The fallo of the Decision reads as
follows:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered finding the


petitioner, Anthony L. Ng GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt for the
crime of Estafa defined in and penalized by Article 315, paragraph 1(b)
of the Revised Penal Code in relation to Section 3 of Presidential Decree
115, otherwise known as the Trust Receipts Law, and is hereby
sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of from six (6) years, eight
(8) months, and twenty one (21) days of prision mayor, minimum, as the
minimum penalty, to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal maximum,
as the maximum penalty.
The petitioner is further ordered to return to the Asiatrust
Development Bank Inc. the amount of Two Million, Nine Hundred
Seventy One and Six Hundred Fifty Pesos (P2,971,650.00) with legal
rate of interest computed from the filing of the information on
September 21,1999 until the amount is fully paid.
IT IS SO ORDERED.

In rendering its Decision, the trial court held that petitioner could not simply
argue that the contracts he had entered into with Asiatrust were void as they were
contracts of adhesion. It reasoned that petitioner is presumed to have read and
understood and is, therefore, bound by the provisions of the Letters of Credit and
Trust Receipts. It said that it was clear that Asiatrust had furnished petitioner with
a Statement of Account enumerating therein the precise figures of the outstanding
balance, which he failed to pay along with the computation of other fees and
charges; thus, Asiatrust did not violate Republic Act No. 3765 (Truth in Lending
Act). Finally, the trial court declared that petitioner, being the entrustee stated in
the Trust Receipts issued by Asiatrust, is thus obliged to hold the goods in trust for
the entruster and shall dispose of them strictly in accordance with the terms and
conditions of the trust receipts; otherwise, he is obliged to return the goods in the
event of non-sale or upon demand of the entruster, failing thus, he evidently
violated the Trust Receipts Law.
Ruling of the Appellate Court
Petitioner then elevated the case to the CA by filing a Notice of Appeal on
August 6, 2001. In his Appellants Brief dated March 25, 2002, petitioner argued

that the court a quo erred: (1) in changing the name of the offended party without
the benefit of an amendment of the Information which violates his right to be
informed of the nature and cause of accusation against him; (2) in making a finding
of facts not in accord with that actually proved in the trial and/or by the evidence
provided; (3) in not considering the material facts which if taken into account
would have resulted in his acquittal; (4) in being biased, hostile, and prejudiced
against him; and (5) in considering the prosecutions evidence which did not prove
the guilt of petitioner beyond reasonable doubt.
On August 29, 2003, the CA rendered a Decision affirming that of the RTC,
the fallo of which reads:
WHEREFORE, the foregoing considered, the instant appeal is
DENIED. The decision of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City,
Branch 95 dated May 29, 2001 is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.

The CA held that during the course of the trial, petitioner knew that the
complainant Bernardez and the other co-witnesses are all employees of Asiatrust
and that she is suing in behalf of the bank. Since petitioner transacted with the
same employees for the issuance of the subject Trust Receipts, he cannot feign
ignorance that Asiatrust is not the offended party in the instant case. The CA
further stated that the change in the name of the complainant will not prejudice and
alter the fact that petitioner was being charged with the crime of Estafa in relation
to the Trust Receipts Law, since the information clearly set forth the essential
elements of the crime charged, and the constitutional right of petitioner to be
informed of the nature and cause of his accusations is not violated.[8]
As to the alleged error in the appreciation of facts by the trial court, the CA
stated that it was undisputed that petitioner entered into a trust receipt agreement
with Asiatrust and he failed to pay the bank his obligation when it became
due. According to the CA, the fact that petitioner acted without malice or fraud in
entering into the transactions has no bearing, since the offense is punished
asmalum prohibitum regardless of the existence of intent or malice; the mere

failure to deliver the proceeds of the sale or the goods if not sold constitutes the
criminal offense.
With regard to the failure of the RTC to consider the fact that petitioners
outstanding receivables are sufficient to cover his indebtedness and that no written
demand was made upon him hence his obligation has not yet become due and
demandable, the CA stated that the mere query as to the whereabouts of the goods
and/or money is tantamount to a demand.[9]
Concerning the alleged bias, hostility, and prejudice of the RTC against
petitioner, the CA said that petitioner failed to present any substantial proof to
support the aforementioned allegations against the RTC.
After the receipt of the CA Decision, petitioner moved for its
reconsideration, which was denied by the CA in its Resolution dated July 25,
2006. Thereafter, petitioner filed this Petition for Review on Certiorari. In his
Memorandum, he raised the following issues:
Issues:
1.

The prosecution failed to adduce evidence beyond a reasonable


doubt to satisfy the 2nd essential element that there was
misappropriation or conversion of subject money or property by
petitioner.

2.

The state was unable to prove the 3rd essential element of the
crime that the alleged misappropriation or conversion is to the
prejudice of the real offended property.

3.

The absence of a demand (4th essential element) on petitioner


necessarily results to the dismissal of the criminal case.

The Courts Ruling


We find the petition to be meritorious.

Essentially, the issues raised by petitioner can be summed up into one


whether or not petitioner is liable for Estafa under Art. 315, par. 1(b) of the RPC in
relation to PD 115.
It is a well-recognized principle that factual findings of the trial court are
entitled to great weight and respect by this Court, more so when they are affirmed
by the appellate court. However, the rule is not without exceptions, such as: (1)
when the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculations, surmises, and
conjectures; (2) the inferences made are manifestly mistaken; (3) there is grave
abuse of discretion; and (4) the judgment is based on misapprehension of facts or
premised on the absence of evidence on record.[10] Especially in criminal cases
where the accused stands to lose his liberty by virtue of his conviction, the Court
must be satisfied that the factual findings and conclusions of the lower courts
leading to his conviction must satisfy the standard of proof beyond reasonable
doubt.
In the case at bar, petitioner was charged with Estafa under Art. 315, par.
1(b) of the RPC in relation to PD 115. The RPC defines Estafa as:
ART. 315. Swindling (estafa).Any person who shall defraud
another by any of the means mentioned hereinbelow x x x
1.

With unfaithfulness or abuse of confidence, namely:

a.
xxx
b.
By misappropriating or converting, to the prejudice of
another, money, goods, or any other personal property 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, even though such obligation be totally or partially guaranteed by a
bond; or by denying having received such money, goods, or other
property x x x.[11]

Based on the definition above, the essential elements of Estafa are: (1) that
money, goods or other personal property is received by the offender in trust or on

commission, or for administration, or under any obligation involving the duty to


make delivery of or to return it; (2) that there be 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) there is demand by the offended party to the offender.[12]
Likewise, Estafa can also be committed in what is called a trust receipt
transaction under PD 115, which is defined as:
Section 4. What constitutes a trust receipts transaction.A trust
receipt transaction, within the meaning of this Decree, is any transaction
by and between a person referred to in this Decree as the entruster, and
another person referred to in this Decree as entrustee, whereby the
entruster, who owns or holds absolute title or security interests over
certain specified goods, documents or instruments, releases the same to
the possession of the entrustee upon the latters execution and delivery to
the entruster of a signed document called a trust receipt wherein the
entrustee binds himself to hold the designated goods, documents or
instruments in trust for the entruster and to sell or otherwise dispose of
the goods, documents or instruments with the obligation to turn over to
the entruster the proceeds thereof to the extent of the amount owing to
the entruster or as appears in the trust receipt or the goods, documents or
instruments themselves if they are unsold or not otherwise disposed of,
in accordance with the terms and conditions specified in the trust receipt,
or for other purposes substantially equivalent to any of the following:
1.
In the case of goods or documents: (a) to sell the goods or
procure their sale; or (b) to manufacture or process the goods with the
purpose of ultimate sale: Provided, That, in the case of goods delivered
under trust receipt for the purpose of manufacturing or processing before
its ultimate sale, the entruster shall retain its title over the goods whether
in its original or processed form until the entrustee has complied full
with his obligation under the trust receipt; or (c) to load, unload, ship or
transship or otherwise deal with them in a manner preliminary or
necessary to their sale; or
2.
In the case of instruments: (a) to sell or procure their sale
or exchange; or (b) to deliver them to a principal; or (c) to effect the

consummation of some transactions involving delivery to a depository or


register; or (d) to effect their presentation, collection or renewal.
The sale of good, documents or instruments by a person in the
business of selling goods, documents or instruments for profit who, at
the outset of transaction, has, as against the buyer, general property
rights in such goods, documents or instruments, or who sells the same to
the buyer on credit, retaining title or other interest as security for the
payment of the purchase price, does not constitute a trust receipt
transaction and is outside the purview and coverage of this Decree.

In other words, a trust receipt transaction is one where the entrustee has the
obligation to deliver to the entruster the price of the sale, or if the merchandise is
not sold, to return the merchandise to the entruster. There are, therefore, two
obligations in a trust receipt transaction: the first refers to money received under
the obligation involving the duty to turn it over (entregarla) to the owner of the
merchandise sold, while the second refers to the merchandise received under the
obligation to return it (devolvera) to the owner.[13] A violation of any of these
undertakings constitutes Estafadefined under Art. 315, par. 1(b) of the RPC, as
provided in Sec. 13 of PD 115, viz:
Section 13. Penalty Clause.The failure of an entrustee to turn
over the proceeds of the sale of the goods, documents or instruments
covered by a trust receipt to the extent of the amount owing to the
entruster or as appears in the trust receipt or to return said goods,
documents or instruments if they were not sold or disposed of in
accordance with the terms of the trust receipt shall constitute the
crime of estafa, punishable under the provisions of Article Three hundred
fifteen, paragraph one (b) of Act Numbered Three thousand eight
hundred and fifteen, as amended, otherwise known as the Revised Penal
Code. x x x (Emphasis supplied.)

A thorough examination of the facts obtaining in the instant case, however,


reveals that the transaction between petitioner and Asiatrust is not a trust receipt
transaction but one of simple loan.
PD 115 Does Not Apply

It must be remembered that petitioner was transparent to Asiatrust from the


very beginning that the subject goods were not being held for sale but were to be
used for the fabrication of steel communication towers in accordance with his
contracts with Islacom, Smart, and Infocom. In these contracts, he was
commissioned to build, out of the materials received, steel communication
towers, not to sell them.
The true nature of a trust receipt transaction can be found in the whereas
clause of PD 115 which states that a trust receipt is to be utilized as a convenient
business device to assist importers and merchants solve their financing
problems. Obviously, the State, in enacting the law, sought to find a way to assist
importers and merchants in their financing in order to encourage commerce in
the Philippines.
As stressed in Samo v. People,[14] a trust receipt is considered a security
transaction intended to aid in financing importers and retail dealers who do not
have sufficient funds or resources to finance the importation or purchase of
merchandise, and who may not be able to acquire credit except through utilization,
as collateral, of the merchandise imported or purchased. Similarly, American
Jurisprudence demonstrates that trust receipt transactions always refer to a method
of financing importations or financing sales.[15] The principle is of course not
limited in its application to financing importations, since the principle is equally
applicable to domestic transactions.[16] Regardless of whether the transaction is
foreign or domestic, it is important to note that the transactions discussed in
relation to trust receipts mainly involved sales.

Following the precept of the law, such transactions affect situations wherein
the entruster, who owns or holds absolute title or security interests over specified
goods, documents or instruments, releases the subject goods to the possession of
the entrustee. The release of such goods to the entrustee is conditioned upon his
execution and delivery to the entruster of a trust receipt wherein the former binds
himself to hold the specific goods, documents or instruments in trust for the
entruster and to sell or otherwise dispose of the goods, documents or instruments
with the obligation to turn over to the entruster the proceeds to the extent of the

amount owing to the entruster or the goods, documents or instruments themselves


if they are unsold. Similarly, we held in State Investment House v. CA, et al. that
the entruster is entitled only to the proceeds derived from the sale of goods
released under a trust receipt to the entrustee.[17]
Considering that the goods in this case were never intended for sale but for
use in the fabrication of steel communication towers, the trial court erred in ruling
that the agreement is a trust receipt transaction.
In applying the provisions of PD 115, the trial court relied on the
Memorandum of Asiatrusts appraiser, Linga, who stated that the goods have been
sold by petitioner and that only 3% of the goods remained in the warehouse where
it was previously stored. But for reasons known only to the trial court, the latter did
not give weight to the testimony of Linga when he testified that he merely
presumed that the goods were sold, viz:
COURT (to the witness)
Q
So, in other words, when the goods were not there
anymore. You
presumed that, that is already sold?
A

Yes, your Honor.

Undoubtedly, in his testimony, Linga showed that he had no real personal


knowledge or proof of the fact that the goods were indeed sold. He did not notify
petitioner about the inspection nor did he talk to or inquire with petitioner
regarding the whereabouts of the subject goods. Neither did he confirm with
petitioner if the subject goods were in fact sold. Therefore, the Memorandum of
Linga, which was based only on his presumption and not any actual personal
knowledge, should not have been used by the trial court to prove that the goods
have in fact been sold. At the very least, it could only show that the goods were not
in the warehouse.

Having established the inapplicability of PD 115, this Court finds that


petitioners liability is only limited to the satisfaction of his obligation from the
loan. The real intent of the parties was simply to enter into a simple loan
agreement.
To emphasize, the Trust Receipts Law was created to to aid in financing
importers and retail dealers who do not have sufficient funds or resources to
finance the importation or purchase of merchandise, and who may not be able
to acquire credit except through utilization, as collateral, of the merchandise
imported or purchased. Since Asiatrust knew that petitioner was neither an
importer nor retail dealer, it should have known that the said agreement could not
possibly apply to petitioner.
Moreover, this Court finds that petitioner is not liable for Estafa both under
the RPC and PD 115.
Goods Were Not Received in Trust
The first element of Estafa under Art. 315, par. 1(b) of the RPC requires that
the money, goods or other personal property must be 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 it. But as we already discussed,
the goods received by petitioner were not held in trust. They were also not intended
for sale and neither did petitioner have the duty to return them. They were only
intended for use in the fabrication of steel communication towers.
No Misappropriation of Goods or Proceeds
The second element of Estafa requires that there be misappropriation or
conversion of such money or property by the offender, or denial on his part of such
receipt.
This is the very essence of Estafa under Art. 315, par. 1(b). The words
convert and misappropriated connote an act of using or disposing of anothers
property as if it were ones own, or of devoting it to a purpose or use different from
that agreed upon. To misappropriate for ones own use includes not only

conversion to ones personal advantage, but also every attempt to dispose of the
property of another without a right.[18]
Petitioner argues that there was no misappropriation or conversion on his
part, because his liability for the amount of the goods subject of the trust receipts
arises and becomes due only upon receipt of the proceeds of the sale and not prior
to the receipt of the full price of the goods.
Petitioner is correct. Thus, assuming arguendo that the provisions of PD 115
apply, petitioner is not liable for Estafa because Sec. 13 of PD 115 provides that an
entrustee is only liable for Estafawhen he fails to turn over the proceeds of the
sale of the goods x x x covered by a trust receipt to the extent of the amount owing
to the entruster or as appears in the trust receipt x x x in accordance with the
terms of the trust receipt.

The trust receipt entered into between Asiatrust and petitioner states:
In case of sale I/we agree to hand the proceeds as soon as
received to the BANK to apply against the relative acceptance (as
described above) and for the payment of any other indebtedness of
mine/ours to ASIATRUST DEVELOPMENT BANK. [19] (Emphasis
supplied.)

Clearly, petitioner was only obligated to turn over the proceeds as soon as he
received payment. However, the evidence reveals that petitioner experienced
difficulties in collecting payments from his clients for the communication towers.
Despite this fact, petitioner endeavored to pay his indebtedness to Asiatrust, which
payments during the period from September 1997 to July 1998 total approximately
PhP 1,500,000. Thus, absent proof that the proceeds have been actually and fully
received by petitioner, his obligation to turn over the same to Asiatrust never arose.

What is more, under the Trust Receipt Agreement itself, no date of maturity
was stipulated. The provision left blank by Asiatrust is as follows:
x x x and in consideration thereof, I/we hereby agree to hold said
goods in Trust for the said Bank and as its property with liberty to sell
the same for its account within ________ days from the date of
execution of the Trust Receipt x x x[20]

In fact, Asiatrust purposely left the space designated for the date blank, an
action which in ordinary banking transactions would be noted as highly irregular.
Hence, the only way for the obligation to mature was for Asiatrust to demand from
petitioner to pay the obligation, which it never did.
Again, it also makes the Court wonder as to why Asiatrust decided to leave
the provisions for the maturity dates in the Trust Receipt agreements in blank,
since those dates are elemental part of the loan. But then, as can be gleaned from
the records of this case, Asiatrust also knew that the capacity of petitioner to pay
for his loan also hinges upon the latters receivables from Islacom, Smart, and
Infocom where he had ongoing and future projects for fabrication and installation
of steel communication towers and not from the sale of said goods. Being a bank,
Asiatrust acted inappropriately when it left such a sensitive bank instrument with a
void circumstance on an elementary but vital feature of each and every loan
transaction, that is, the maturity dates. Without stating the maturity dates, it was
impossible for petitioner to determine when the loan will be due.
Moreover, Asiatrust was aware that petitioner was not engaged in selling the
subject goods and that petitioner will use them for the fabrication and installation
of communication towers. Before granting petitioner the credit line, as
aforementioned, Asiatrust conducted an investigation, which showed that petitioner
fabricated and installed communication towers for well-known communication
companies to be installed at designated project sites. In fine, there was no abuse of
confidence to speak of nor was there any intention to convert the subject goods for
another purpose, since petitioner did not withhold the fact that they were to be used
to fabricate steel communication towers to Asiatrust. Hence, no malice or abuse of

confidence and misappropriation occurred in this instance due to Asiatrusts


knowledge of the facts.
Furthermore, Asiatrust was informed at the time of petitioners application
for the loan that the payment for the loan would be derived from the collectibles of
his clients. Petitioner informed Asiatrust that he was having extreme difficulties in
collecting from Islacom the full contracted price of the towers. Thus, the duty of
petitioner to remit the proceeds of the goods has not yet arisen since he has yet to
receive proceeds of the goods. Again, petitioner could not be said to have
misappropriated or converted the proceeds of the transaction since he has not yet
received the proceeds from his client, Islacom.

This Court also takes judicial notice of the fact that petitioner has fully paid
his obligation to Asiatrust, making the claim for damage and prejudice of Asiatrust
baseless and unfounded. Given that the acceptance of payment by Asiatrust
necessarily extinguished petitioners obligation, then there is no longer any
obligation on petitioners part to speak of, thus precluding Asiatrust from claiming
any
damage.
This
is
evidenced
by
Asiatrusts Affidavit
of
[21]
Desistance acknowledging full payment of the loan.
Reasonable Doubt Exists
In the final analysis, the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt
that petitioner was guilty of Estafa under Art. 315, par. 1(b) of the RPC in relation
to the pertinent provision of PD 115 or the Trust Receipts Law; thus, his liability
should only be civil in nature.
While petitioner admits to his civil liability to Asiatrust, he nevertheless does
not have criminal liability. It is a well-established principle that person is
presumed innocent until proved guilty. To overcome the presumption, his guilt
must be shown by proof beyond reasonable doubt. Thus, we held in People v.
Mariano[22] that while the principle does not connote absolute certainty, it means
the degree of proof which produces moral certainty in an unprejudiced mind of the
culpability of the accused. Such proof should convince and satisfy the reason and
conscience of those who are to act upon it that the accused is in fact guilty. The

prosecution, in this instant case, failed to rebut the constitutional innocence of


petitioner and thus the latter should be acquitted.
At this point, the ruling of this Court in Colinares v. Court of Appeals is very
apt, thus:
The practice of banks of making borrowers sign trust receipts to
facilitate collection of loans and place them under the threats of criminal
prosecution should they be unable to pay it may be unjust and
inequitable, if not reprehensible. Such agreements are contracts of
adhesion which borrowers have no option but to sign lest their loan be
disapproved. The resort to this scheme leaves poor and hapless
borrowers at the mercy of banks, and is prone to misinterpretation x x x.
[23]

Such is the situation in this case.


Asiatrusts intention became more evident when, on March 30, 2009, it,
along with petitioner, filed their Joint Motion for Leave to File and Admit Attached
Affidavit of Desistance to qualify the Affidavit of Desistance executed by Felino
H. Esquivas, Jr., attorney-in-fact of the Board of Asiatrust, which acknowledged
the full payment of the obligation of the petitioner and the successful mediation
between the parties.
From the foregoing considerations, we deem it unnecessary to discuss and
rule upon the other issues raised in the appeal.
WHEREFORE, the CA Decision dated August 29, 2003 affirming the RTC
Decision dated May 29, 2001 is SET ASIDE. Petitioner ANTHONY L. NG is
hereby ACQUITTED of the charge of violation of Art. 315, par. 1(b) of the RPC
in relation to the pertinent provision of PD 115.
SO ORDERED.

[G.R. No. 141485. June 30, 2005]

PABLITO MURAO and NELIO HUERTAZUELA, petitioners, vs. PEOPLE


OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.
DECISION
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

In this Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court,
petitioners pray for the reversal of the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR
No. 21134, dated 31 May 1999,[1] affirming with modification the Judgment of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, in Criminal Case No.
11943, dated 05 May 1997, [2] finding petitioners guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
crime of estafa under Article 315(1)(b) of the Revised Penal Code.
Petitioner Pablito Murao is the sole owner of Lorna Murao Industrial Commercial
Enterprises (LMICE), a company engaged in the business of selling and refilling fire
extinguishers, with branches in Palawan, Naga, Legaspi, Mindoro, Aurora, Quezon,
Isabela, and Laguna. Petitioner Nelio Huertazuela is the Branch Manager of LMICE in
Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.[3]
On 01 September 1994, petitioner Murao and private complainant Chito Federico
entered into a Dealership Agreement for the marketing, distribution, and refilling of fire
extinguishers within Puerto Princesa City.[4] According to the Dealership Agreement,
private complainant Federico, as a dealer for LMICE, could obtain fire extinguishers
from LMICE at a 50% discount, provided that he sets up his own sales force, acquires
and issues his own sales invoice, and posts a bond with LMICE as security for the credit
line extended to him by LMICE. Failing to comply with the conditions under the said
Dealership Agreement, private complainant Federico, nonetheless, was still allowed to
act as a part-time sales agent for LMICE entitled to a percentage commission from the
sales of fire extinguishers.[5]
The amount of private complainant Federicos commission as sales agent for
LMICE was under contention. Private complainant Federico claimed that he was entitled
to a commission equivalent to 50% of the gross sales he had made on behalf of LMICE,
[6]
while petitioners maintained that he should receive only 30% of the net sales.
Petitioners even contended that as company policy, part-time sales agents were entitled
to a commission of only 25% of the net sales, but since private complainant Federico
helped in establishing the LMICE branch office in Puerto Princesa City, he was to
receive the same commission as the full-time sales agents of LMICE, which was 30% of
the net sales.[7]
Private complainant Federicos first successful transaction as sales agent of LMICE
involved two fire extinguishers sold to Landbank of the Philippines (Landbank), Puerto
Princesa City Branch, for the price ofP7,200.00. Landbank issued a check, dated 08
November 1993, pay to the order of L.M. Industrial Comml. Enterprises c/o Chito

Federico, for the amount of P5,936.40,[8] after deducting from the original sales price
the 15% discount granted by private complainant Federico to Landbank and the 3%
withholding tax. Private complainant Federico encashed the check at Landbank and
remitted only P2,436.40 to LMICE, while he kept P3,500.00 for himself as his
commission from the sale.[9]
Petitioners alleged that it was contrary to the standard operating procedure of
LMICE that private complainant Federico was named payee of the Landbank check on
behalf of LMICE, and that private complainant Federico was not authorized to encash
the said check. Despite the supposed irregularities committed by private complainant
Federico in the collection of the payment from Landbank and in the premature
withholding of his commission from the said payment, petitioners forgave private
complainant Federico because the latter promised to make-up for his misdeeds in the
next transaction.[10]
Private complainant Federico, on behalf of LMICE, subsequently facilitated a
transaction with the City Government of Puerto Princesa for the refill of 202 fire
extinguishers. Because of the considerable cost, the City Government of Puerto
Princesa requested that the transaction be split into two purchase orders, and the City
Government of Puerto Princesa shall pay for each of the purchase orders separately.
[11]
Pursuant to the two purchase orders, LMICE refilled and delivered all 202 fire
extinguishers to the City Government of Puerto Princesa: 154 units on 06 January 1994,
43 more units on 12 January 1994, and the last five units on 13 January 1994. [12]
The subject of this Petition is limited to the first purchase order, Purchase Order No.
GSO-856, dated 03 January 1994, for the refill of 99 fire extinguishers, with a total cost
of P309,000.00.[13] On 16 June 1994, the City Government of Puerto Princesa issued
Check No. 611437 to LMICE to pay for Purchase Order No. GSO-856, in the amount
of P300,572.73, net of the 3% withholding tax. [14] Within the same day, petitioner
Huertazuela claimed Check No. 611437 from the City Government of Puerto Princesa
and deposited it under the current account of LMICE with PCIBank. [15]
On 17 June 1994, private complainant Federico went to see petitioner Huertazuela
at the LMICE branch office in Puerto Princesa City to demand for the amount
of P154,500.00 as his commission from the payment of Purchase Order No. GSO-856
by the City Government of Puerto Princesa. Petitioner Huertazuela, however, refused
to pay private complainant Federico his commission since the two of them could not
agree on the proper amount thereof. [16]
Also on 17 June 1994, private complainant Federico went to the police station to file
an Affidavit-Complaint for estafa against petitioners. [17] Petitioners submitted their Joint
Counter-Affidavit on 12 July 1994.[18] The City Prosecution Office of Puerto Princesa City
issued a Resolution, dated 15 August 1994, finding that a prima facie case for estafa
existed against the petitioners and recommending the filing of an information for estafa
against both of them.[19]
The Information, docketed as Criminal Case No. 11943 and raffled to the RTC of
Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, Branch 52, reads as follows

I N F O R M AT I O N
The undersigned accuses PABLITO MURAO and NELIO C. HUERTAZUELA of the
crime of ESTAFA, committed as follows:
That on or about the 16th day of June, 1994, at Puerto Princesa City, Philippines, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused, conspiring and
confederating together and mutually helping one another, after having received the
amount of P309,000.00 as payment of the 99 tanks of refilled fire extinguisher (sic)
from the City Government of Puerto Princesa, through deceit, fraud and
misrepresentation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud
one Chito Federico in the following manner, to wit: said accused, well knowing that
Chito Federico agent of LM Industrial Commercial Enterprises is entitled to 50%
commission of the gross sales as per their Dealership Contract or the amount
of P154,500.00 as his commission for his sale of 99 refilled fire extinguishers
worth P309,000.00, and accused once in possession of said amount of P309,000.00
misappropriate, misapply and convert the amount of P154,500.00 for their own
personal use and benefit and despite repeated demands made upon them by
complainant to deliver the amount of P154,500.00, accused failed and refused and still
fails and refuses to do so, to the damage and prejudice of said Chito Federico in the
amount of P154,500.00, Philippine Currency.[20]
After holding trial, the RTC rendered its Judgment on 05 May 1997 finding
petitioners guilty beyond reasonable doubt as co-principals of the crime of estafa
defined and penalized in Article 315(1)(b) of the Revised Penal Code. Estafa, under the
said provision, is committed by

ART. 315. Swindling (estafa). Any person who shall defraud another by any of the
means mentioned hereinbelow . . .
1.

With unfaithfulness or abuse of confidence, namely:

(a)
(b)
By misappropriating or converting, to the prejudice of another, money, goods,
or any other personal property 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, even though such obligation be totally or partially guaranteed
by a bond; or by denying having received such money, goods, or other property; . . .
In the same Judgment, the RTC expounded on its finding of guilt, thus

For the afore-quoted provision of the Revised Penal Code to be committed, the
following requisites must concur:
1. That money, goods or other personal property be 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 be 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 demand made by the offended party to the offender. (Reyes,
Revised Penal Code of the Philippines, p. 716; Manuel Manahan, Jr. vs.
Court of Appeals, Et Al., G.R. No. 111656, March 20, 1996)
All the foregoing elements are present in this case. The aborted testimony of Mrs.
Norma Dacuan, Cashier III of the Treasurers Office of the City of Puerto Princesa
established the fact that indeed, on June 16, 1994, co-accused Nelio Huertazuela took
delivery of Check No. 611437 with face value of P300,572.73, representing payment
for the refill of 99 cylinders of fire extinguishers. Although the relationship between
complaining witness Chito Federico and LMIC is not fiduciary in nature, still the
clause any other obligation involving the duty to make delivery of or to return
personal property is broad enough to include a civil obligation (Manahan vs. C.A.,
Et. Al., Mar. 20, 1996).
The second element cannot be gainsaid. Both Pablito Murao and Nelio Huertazuela
categorically admitted that they did not give to Chito Federico his commission.
Instead, they deposited the full amount of the consideration, with the PCIBank in the
Current Account of LMIC.

The refusal by the accused to give Chito Federico what ever percentage his
commission necessarily caused him prejudice which constitute the third element of
estafa. Demand for payment, although not an essential element of estafa was
nonetheless made by the complainant but was rebuffed by the accused. The
fraudulent intent by the accused is indubitably indicated by their refusal to pay Chito
Federico any percentage of the gross sales as commission. If it were true that what
the dealer/sales Agent is entitled to by way of commission is only 30% of the gross
sales, then by all means the accused should have paid Chito Federico 30%. If he

refused, they could have it deposited in his name. In that way they may not be said to
have misappropriated for themselves what pertained to their Agent by way of
commission.

WHEREFORE, premises considered judgment is hereby rendered finding the accused


PABLITO MURAO and NELIO HUERTAZUELA guilty beyond reasonable doubt as
co-principals, of the crime of estafa defined and penalized in Article 315 par. 1(b) of
the Revised Penal Code, and applying the provisions of the Indeterminate Sentence
Law, both accused are hereby sentenced to an indeterminate penalty ranging from a
minimum of TWO (2) YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of prision
correccional in its medium period, to a maximum of TWENTY (20) YEARS of
reclusion temporal in its maximum period; to pay Chito Federico, jointly and
severally:
a. Sales Commission equivalent to
50% of P309,000.00 or -------------------

P154,500.00

with legal interest thereon from


June 17, 1994 until fully paid;
b. Attorneys fees ----------------------------

P 30,0000.00.[21]

Resolving the appeal filed by the petitioners before it, the Court of Appeals, in its
Decision, dated 31 May 1999, affirmed the aforementioned RTC Judgment, finding
petitioners guilty of estafa, but modifying the sentence imposed on the petitioners. The
dispositive portion of the Decision of the Court of Appeals reads

WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is hereby AFFIRMED with the


MODIFICATION that appellants PABLITO MURAO and NELIO HUERTAZUELA
are hereby each sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of eight (8) years and One (1)
day of prision mayor, as minimum, to Twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal, as
maximum. The award for attorneys fee of P30,000.00 is deleted because the
prosecution of criminal action is the task of the State prosecutors. All other aspects of
the appealed decision are maintained. [22]
When the Court of Appeals, in its Resolution, dated 19 January 2000, [23] denied their
Motion for Reconsideration, petitioners filed the present Petition for Review [24] before
this Court, raising the following errors allegedly committed by the Court of Appeals in its
Decision, dated 31 May 1999
I

WITH DUE RESPECT, THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY


ERRED WHEN IT RULED THAT PETITIONERS ARE LIABLE FOR ESTAFA
UNDER ARTICLE 315 1(B) OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE UNDER THE
FOREGOING SET OF FACTS, WHEN IT IS CLEAR FROM THE SAID
UNDISPUTED FACTS THAT THE LIABILITY IS CIVIL IN NATURE.
II

WITH DUE RESPECT, THE HONORABLE COURT ERRED WHEN IT UPHOLD


(sic) PRIVATE COMPLAINANTS CLAIM THAT HE IS ENTITLED TO A FIFTY
(50%) PERCENT COMMISSION WITHOUT EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT SUCH
CLAIM.
This Court finds the instant Petition impressed with merit. Absent herein are two
essential elements of the crime of estafa by misappropriation or conversion under
Article 315(1)(b) of the Revised Penal Code, namely: (1) That money, goods or other
personal property be 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; and (2) That there be a misappropriation or conversion of such money
or property by the offender.
The findings of the RTC and the Court of Appeals that petitioners committed estafa
rest on the erroneous belief that private complainant Federico, due to his right to
commission, already owned 50% of the amount paid by the City Government of Puerto
Princesa to LMICE by virtue of Check No. 611437, so that the collection and deposit of
the said check by petitioners under the account of LMICE constituted misappropriation
or conversion of private complainant Federicos commission.
However, his right to a commission does not make private complainant
Federico a joint owner of the money paid to LMICE by the City Government of Puerto
Princesa, but merely establishes the relation of agent and principal. [25] It is unequivocal
that an agency existed between LMICE and private complainant Federico. Article 1868
of the Civil Code defines agency as a special contract whereby a person binds himself
to render some service or to do something in representation or on behalf of another,
with the consent or authority of the latter. Although private complainant Federico never
had the opportunity to operate as a dealer for LMICE under the terms of the Dealership
Agreement, he was allowed to act as a sales agent for LMICE. He can negotiate for
and on behalf of LMICE for the refill and delivery of fire extinguishers, which he, in fact,
did on two occasions with Landbank and with the City Government of Puerto
Princesa. Unlike the Dealership Agreement, however, the agreement that private
complainant Federico may act as sales agent of LMICE was based on an oral
agreement.[26]
As a sales agent, private complainant Federico entered into negotiations with
prospective clients for and on behalf of his principal, LMICE. When negotiations for the
sale or refill of fire extinguishers were successful, private complainant Federico
prepared the necessary documentation. Purchase orders, invoices, and receipts were

all in the name of LMICE. It was LMICE who had the primary duty of picking up the
empty fire extinguishers, filling them up, and delivering the refilled tanks to the clients,
even though private complainant Federico personally helped in hauling and carrying the
fire extinguishers during pick-up from and delivery to clients.
All profits made and any advantage gained by an agent in the execution of his
agency should belong to the principal. [27] In the instant case, whether the transactions
negotiated by the sales agent were for the sale of brand new fire extinguishers or for the
refill of empty tanks, evidently, the business belonged to LMICE. Consequently,
payments made by clients for the fire extinguishers pertained to LMICE. When
petitioner Huertazuela, as the Branch Manager of LMICE in Puerto Princesa City, with
the permission of petitioner Murao, the sole proprietor of LMICE, personally picked up
Check No. 611437 from the City Government of Puerto Princesa, and deposited the
same under the Current Account of LMICE with PCIBank, he was merely collecting what
rightfully belonged to LMICE. Indeed, Check No. 611437 named LMICE as the lone
payee. Private complainant Federico may claim commission, allegedly equivalent to
50% of the payment received by LMICE from the City Government of Puerto Princesa,
based on his right to just compensation under his agency contract with LMICE, [28] but
not as the automatic owner of the 50% portion of the said payment.
Since LMICE is the lawful owner of the entire proceeds of the check payment from
the City Government of Puerto Princesa, then the petitioners who collected the payment
on behalf of LMICE did not receive the same or any part thereof 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 to private complainant Federico, thus, the RTC
correctly found that no fiduciary relationship existed between petitioners and private
complainant Federico. A fiduciary relationship between the complainant and the
accused is an essential element of estafa by misappropriation or conversion, without
which the accused could not have committed estafa.[29]
The RTC used the case of Manahan, Jr. v. Court of Appeals [30] to support its position
that even in the absence of a fiduciary relationship, the petitioners still had the civil
obligation to return and deliver to private complainant Federico his commission. The
RTC failed to discern the substantial differences in the factual background of
the Manahan case from the present Petition. The Manahan case involved the lease of
a dump truck. Although a contract of lease may not be fiduciary in character, the lessee
clearly had the civil obligation to return the truck to the lessor at the end of the lease
period; and failure of the lessee to return the truck as provided for in the contract may
constitute estafa. The phrase or any other obligation involving the duty to make
delivery of, or to return the same refers to contracts of bailment, such as, contract of
lease of personal property, contract of deposit, and commodatum, wherein juridical
possession of the thing was transferred to the lessee, depositary or borrower, and
wherein the latter is obligated to return the same thing. [31]
In contrast, the current Petition concerns an agency contract whereby the principal
already received payment from the client but refused to give the sales agent, who
negotiated the sale, his commission. As has been established by this Court in the
foregoing paragraphs, LMICE had a right to the full amount paid by the City

Government of Puerto Princesa. Since LMICE, through petitioners, directly collected


the payment, then it was already in possession of the amount, and no transfer of
juridical possession thereof was involved herein. Given that private complainant
Federico could not claim ownership over the said payment or any portion thereof,
LMICE had nothing at all to deliver and return to him. The obligation of LMICE to pay
private complainant Federico his commission does not arise from any duty to deliver or
return the money to its supposed owner, but rather from the duty of a principal to give
just compensation to its agent for the services rendered by the latter.
Furthermore, the Court of Appeals, in its Decision, dated 31 May 1999, defined the
words convert and misappropriate in the following manner

The High Court in Saddul v. Court of Appeals [192 SCRA 277] enunciated that the
words convert and misappropriate in the crime of estafa punished under Art. 315,
par. 1(b) connote an act of using or disposing of anothers property as if it were ones
own, or if devoting it to a purpose or use different from that agreed upon. To
misappropriate to ones use includes, not only conversion to ones personal advantage,
but also every attempt to dispose of the property of another without right. [32]
Based on the very same definition, this Court finds that petitioners did not convert nor
misappropriate the proceeds from Check No. 611437 because the same belonged to
LMICE, and was not anothers property. Petitioners collected the said check from the
City Government of Puerto Princesa and deposited the same under the Current Account
of LMICE with PCIBank. Since the money was already with its owner, LMICE, it could
not be said that the same had been converted or misappropriated for one could not very
well fraudulently appropriate to himself money that is his own. [33]
Although petitioners refusal to pay private complainant Federico his commission
caused prejudice or damage to the latter, said act does not constitute a crime,
particularly estafa by conversion or misappropriation punishable under Article 315(1)(b)
of the Revised Penal Code. Without the essential elements for the commission thereof,
petitioners cannot be deemed to have committed the crime.
While petitioners may have no criminal liability, petitioners themselves admit their
civil liability to the private complainant Federico for the latters commission from the
sale, whether it be 30% of the net sales or 50% of the gross sales. However, this Court
is precluded from making a determination and an award of the civil liability for the
reason that the said civil liability of petitioners to pay private complainant Federico his
commission arises from a violation of the agency contract and not from a criminal act.
[34]
It would be improper and unwarranted for this Court to impose in a criminal action the
civil liability arising from a civil contract, which should have been the subject of a
separate and independent civil action.[35]
WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No.
21134, dated 31 May 1999, affirming with modification the Judgment of the RTC of
Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, in Criminal Case No. 11943, dated 05 May 1997, finding
petitioners guilty beyond reasonable doubt of estafa by conversion or misappropriation
under Article 315(1)(b) of the Revised Penal Code, and awarding the amount

ofP154,500.00 as sales commission to private complainant Federico, is hereby


REVERSED and SET ASIDE. A new Judgment is hereby entered ACQUITTING
petitioners based on the foregoing findings of this Court that their actions did not
constitute the crime of estafa by conversion or misappropriation under Article 315(1)(b)
of the Revised Penal Code. The cash bonds posted by the petitioners for their
provisional liberty are hereby ordered RELEASED and the amounts thereof
RETURNED to the petitioners, subject to the usual accounting and auditing procedures.
SO ORDERED.
Puno, (Chairman), Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr., and Tinga, JJ., concur.

[1]

Penned by Associate Justice Ruben T. Reyes, with Associate Justices Jainal D. Rasul and Eloy R.
Bello, Jr., concurring; Rollo, pp. 31-48.

[2]

Penned by Judge Filomeno A. Vergara, Ibid., pp. 53-65.

[3]

Ibid., p. 4.

[4]

Records, p. 3.

[5]

TSN, 08 June 1995, pp. 15-17.

[6]

Records, p. 4.

[7]

TSN, 14 September 1995, pp. 8-9; TSN, 19 October 1995, p. 9.

[8]

Records, p. 90.

[9]

TSN, 14 September 1995, pp. 9-13; TSN, 19 October 1995, pp. 5-8.

[10]

TSN, 14 September 1995, pp. 13-15; TSN, 19 October 1995, pp. 8, 10-11.

[11]

TSN, 07 March 1996, pp. 31-32.

[12]

TSN, 19 October 1995, pp. 13-14.

[13]

The Information filed against petitioners only involved the First Purchase Order. During the trial before
the RTC, it was established that the second Purchase Order was likewise paid. Respondent filed
a Motion to Amend the Pleadings to include therein the details of the second Purchase Order
(Records, pp. 127-130), but the RTC, in its Order, dated 23 October 1996 (Records, pp. 150153), denied said Motion since it would already constitute a substantial amendment of the
Information and the intended amended Information would already charge more than one offense.

[14]

Records, pp. 80-81, 91.

[15]

TSN, 14 September 1995, p. 18.

[16]

Supra, note 6.

[17]

Records, pp. 3-5.

[18]

Records, pp. 10-12.

[19]

Records, pp. 6-9.

[20]

Rollo, pp. 51-52.

[21]

Supra, note 2, pp. 60-65.

[22]

Supra, note 1, p. 47.

[23]

Penned by Associate Justice Ruben T. Reyes, with Associate Justices Ramon A. Barcelona and Eloy
R. Bello, Jr. concurring; Rollo, pp. 49-50.

[24]

Rollo, pp. 3-30.

[25]

United States v. Reyes, 36 Phil 791 (1917).

[26]

Art. 1869 of the Civil Code recognizes an agency contracted orally.

[27]

Pederson v. Johnson, 169 Wis. 320, 172 N.W. 723 (1919).

[28]

Article 1875 of the Civil Code provides that Agency is presumed to be for a compensation, unless
there is proof to the contrary.

[29]

Yong Chan Kim v. People, G.R. No. 84719, 25 January 1991, 193 SCRA 344, 353-354; Galvez v.
Court of Appeals, G.R. No. L-22760, 29 November 1971, 42 SCRA 278, 284.

[30]

G.R. No. 111656, 20 March 1996, 255 SCRA 202.

[31]

2 Reyes, The Revised Penal Code 662 (1993 rev. ed.)

[32]

Supra, note 21, p. 41.

[33]

Yam v. Malik, G.R. No. L-50550-52, 31 October 1979, 94 SCRA 30, 35; United States v. Figueroa, 22
Phil 269, 271 (1912).

[34]

People v. Miranda, G.R. No. L-17389, 31 August 1962, 5 SCRA 1067; People v. Pantig, G.R. No. L8325, 25 October 1955, 51 O.G. 5627.

[35]

According to Article 31 of the Civil Code, When a civil action is based on an obligation not arising from
the act or omission complained of as a felony, such civil action may proceed independently of the
criminal proceedings and regardless of the result of the latter.

[G.R. No. 109595. April 27, 2000]

CRISTETA CHUA-BURCE, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS AND


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:
Subject of the present appeal by certiorari is the decision dated November 27, 1992 of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 12037, (a) affirming in toto the trial courts
decision finding petitioner guilty of estafa, and (b) denying her Motion for
Reconsideration in a Resolution dated March 25, 1993. The Regional Trial Court,
Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, Branch 40, rendered a joint decision finding petitioner guilty
of estafa under Article 315, par. 1 (b) of the Revised Penal Code, in Criminal Case No.
C-2313, and likewise found petitioner liable for the amount of P150,000.00 in Civil Case
No. R-3733. Only the criminal case is before us for review. h Y
The uncontroverted facts, as found by the Court of Appeals, are as follows:

On August 16, 1985, Ramon Rocamora, the Manager (of Metropolitan Bank and Trust
Company, Calapan Branch, Oriental Mindoro) requested Fructuoso Peaflor, Assistant
Cashier, to conduct a physical bundle count of the cash inside the vault, which should
total P4,000,000.00, more or less. During this initial cash count, they discovered a
shortage of fifteen bundles of One Hundred Pesos denominated bills totalling
P150,000.00. The One Hundred Peso bills actually counted was P3,850,000.00 as
against the balance of P4,000,000.00 in the Cash in Vault (CIV) Summary Sheet, or a
total shortage of P150,000.00. The next day, to determine if there was actually a
shortage, a re-verification of the records and documents of the transactions in the bank
was conducted. There was still a shortage of P150,000.00.
The bank initiated investigations totalling four (4) in all. The first was by Ramon
Rocamora, the Manager. The second was by the banks internal auditors headed by
Antonio Batungbakal. Then, the banks Department of Internal Affairs conducted an
independent investigation. Thereafter, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) came
in to investigate. All of these investigations concluded that there was a shortage of
P150,000.00, and the person primarily responsible was the banks Cash Custodian,
Cristeta Chua-Burce, the herein accused. Jksm
On November 4, 1985, unable to satisfactorily explain the shortage of P150,000.00, the
accuseds service with the bank was terminated.
To recover the missing amount, Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company (Metrobank)
filed a Civil Case for Sum of Money and Damages with Preliminary Attachment and
Garnishment docketed as Civil Case No. R-3733 against petitioner and her husband,
Antonio Burce. Esm
Prior to the filing of the Answer, the following Information for Estafa was filed against
petitioner:
"That on or about the 16th day of August 1985, and for a period prior and
subsequent thereto, the above-named accused, with unfaithfulness or
abuse of confidence, and with intent to defraud, did then and there wilfully,
unlawfully, and feloniously, in her capacity as Cash Custodian of the
Metrobank, Calapan Branch, take from the Banks Vault the amount of
ONE HUNDRED FIFTY THOUSAND (P150,000.00) PESOS, which is
under her direct custody and/or accountability, misappropriate and convert
to her own personal use and benefit, without the knowledge and consent
of the offended party, despite repeated demands for her to account and/or
return the said amount, she refused and failed, and still fails and refuses
to the damage and prejudice of the Metrobank, Calapan Branch, in the
aforementioned amount of ONE HUNDRED FIFTY THOUSAND
(P150,000.00) PESOS.
Contrary to Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code.

Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, November 27, 1985."

[1]

Both civil and criminal cases were raffled to the same branch of the Regional Trial Court
of Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, Branch 40. Esmsc
Thereafter, petitioner moved for the suspension of the criminal case on the ground of
the existence of a prejudicial question, viz., that the resolution of the civil case was
determinative of her guilt or innocence in the criminal case. The trial court, over the
vehement opposition of the private and public prosecutors, granted the motion and
suspended the trial of the criminal case. On petition for certiorari to the Court of
Appeals, the appellate court ruled that there was no prejudicial question.
[2]

[3]

[4]

Petitioner was arraigned and assisted by counsel de parte, entered a plea of not guilty.
While the trial of the criminal case was suspended, the trial of the civil case continued.
At the time of arraignment, the civil case was already submitted for decision. Hence,
during the pre-trial conference of the criminal case, the parties agreed to adopt their
respective evidence in the civil case as their respective evidence in the criminal case .
The trial court ordered the parties to submit their written agreement pursuant to
Section 4 of Rule 118 of the Rules of Court. Thereafter, petitioner, duly assisted by her
counsel, with the conformeof the public prosecutor, entered into the following pre-trial
agreement:
[5]

[6]

[7]

[8]

"COMES NOW, the accused, assisted by counsel, and unto this


Honorable Court most respectfully submits this Pre-Trial agreement:
1. That the evidence already adduced by the plaintiff in Civil Case No. R3733 will be adopted by the prosecution as its evidence in Criminal Case
No. C-2313;
2. That the evidence to be adduced by the defendant in Civil Case No. R3733 will also be adopted as evidence for the defense in Criminal Case
No. C-2313.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is prayed that the foregoing pretrial agreement be admitted in compliance with the Order of this Court
dated April 19, 1988.
RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED.
Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, August 20, 1990.
CRISTETA CHUA-BURCE (sgd.)
Accused
Assisted By:

RODRIGO C. DIMAYACYAC (sgd.)


Defense Counsel
San Vicente, Calapan
Oriental Mindoro
IBP O.R. No. 292575
May 11, 1990
Quezon City
With Conformity:
EMMANUEL S. PANALIGAN (sgd.)
Prosecuting Fiscal
Pursuant to the pre-trial agreement, the public prosecutor filed a Motion to Adopt
Evidence. Both the pre-trial agreement and said Motion were granted by the trial court.
[9]

[10]

On March 18, 1991, the trial court rendered a consolidated decision finding petitioner
(a) guilty of estafa under Article 315 (1) (b) of the Revised Penal Code in the criminal
case, and (b) liable for the amount of P150,000.00 in the civil case. The dispositive
portion of decision provides [11]

- In Criminal Case No. C-2313 WHEREFORE, the Court hereby finds the accused Cristeta Chua-Burce
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Estafa, punishable under
Art. 315, paragraph 1 (b) of the Revised Penal Code, which imposes a
penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its
minimum period but considering that the amount involved exceeds
P22,000.00, the penalty provided for shall be imposed in its maximum
period, adding one year for each additional P10,000.00, but the total
amount not to exceed twenty years. Esmmis
Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the imposable penalty shall be
one degree lower as minimum of arresto mayor with a penalty range of
One Month and One Day to Six Months, as minimum to prision mayor in
its maximum period, as maximum, or a penalty of Six years to Twelve
Years. Considering the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender, the
court hereby imposes upon the accused to suffer imprisonment from SIX
(6) MONTHS of arresto mayor in its maximum period, as minimum, to

EIGHT (8) YEARS of prision mayor, in its minimum period, as maximum.


The civil liability shall not be imposed in this case due to a separate civil
action. Esmso
- In Civil Case No. R-3733 WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff
Metrobank, ordering defendants Cristeta Chua-Burce and Antonio Burce,
spouses, to pay Metrobank the amount of P150,000.00 representing the
amount misappropriated with the legal rate of six percent (6%) per annum
from August 15, 1985 until fully paid and to pay the costs of suit.
SO ORDERED."
Petitioner seasonably appealed her conviction in the criminal case to the Court of
Appeals. Petitioner filed a separate appeal in the civil case.
In a decision dated November 27, 1992, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial courts
decision in toto. Petitioners Motion for Reconsideration was likewise denied. Hence,
the recourse to this Court. Msesm
[12]

[13]

Petitioner raises the following issues:

[14]

1. IS THE RESULT OF POLYGRAPH EXAMINATION ADMISSIBLE IN


EVIDENCE?
2. CAN THE PRESIDING JUDGE OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT
ADMIT IN EVIDENCE THE EVIDENCE WHICH WAS ALREADY DENIED
ADMISSION IN THE ORDER OF THE FORMER JUDGE OF THE SAME
COURT?
3. DOES PRIMA FACIE PRESUMPTION OF MISAPPROPRIATION OR
CONVERSION EXISTS (sic) AGAINST THE PETITIONER WHEN THERE
WERE OTHER PERSONS WHO HAD DIRECT AND GREATER ACCESS
IN THE CASH-IN-VAULT?
4. IS RULE 111 SECTION 2 (a) OF THE REVISED RULES ON CRIMINAL
PROCEDURE APPLICABLE IN (sic)THE CASE AT BAR?
5. WAS THERE A VALID PROCEEDING WHEN THE FISCAL WAS NOT
ACTUALLY PRESENT AND DID NOT CONTROL AND SUPERVISE THE
PROSECUTION OF THE CASE? Exsm
In gist, (1) petitioner contends that the trial court erred in taking into account the results
of the polygraph examination as circumstantial evidence of guilt considering the
inherent unreliability of such tests, and the fact that the previous trial judge who handled

the case already ruled such evidence as inadmissible; (2) petitioner insists that there
can be no presumption of misappropriation when there were other persons who had
access to the cash in vault; and (3) petitioner questions the validity of the trial of criminal
case considering that the pre-trial agreement dispensed with the intervention of the
public prosecutor in a full-blown trial of the criminal case. Kyle
The Office of the Solicitor General, for the State, contends that the guilt of petitioner has
been proven beyond reasonable doubt by the following facts which were duly
established during trial - first, petitioner was the cash custodian who was directly
responsible and accountable for the cash-in-vault. Second, the other persons who had
access to the vault facilities never used the duplicate keys to open the safety deposit
boxes and the cash safe from where the P100.00 bill denominations were located. In
fact, the duplicate keys were offered in evidence still in their sealed
envelopes. Third, alterations and superimposition on the cash-in-vault summary sheet
were made by petitioner to cover the cash shortage. Lastly, there was a valid joint trial
of the civil and criminal cases.
The crucial issues, in our mind, are (1) whether there was a valid trial of the criminal
case, and (2) whether the elements of the crime of estafa under Article 315 (1) (b) of the
Revised Penal Code were duly proven beyond reasonable doubt. Kycalr
First, petitioner assails the validity of the proceedings in the trial court on the ground that
the public prosecutor did not intervene and present any evidence during the trial of the
criminal case. The records clearly show that the pre-trial agreement was prepared by
petitioner with the conforme of the public prosecutor. Thereafter, petitioner filed
a consolidated memorandum for both civil and criminal cases. Section 5 of Rule
110 requires that all criminal actions shall be prosecuted under the direction and
control of the public prosecutor. The rationale behind the rule is "to prevent malicious or
unfounded prosecutions by private persons." The records show that the public
prosecutor actively participated in the prosecution of the criminal case from its inception.
It was during pre-trial conference when the parties agreed to adopt their respective
evidence in the civil case to the criminal case. This is allowed under Section 2 (e) of
Rule 118 of the Rules of Court which provides that during pre-trial conference, the
parties shall consider "such other matters as will promote a fair and expeditious trial."
The parties, in compliance with Section 4 of Rule 118, reduced to writing such
agreement. Petitioner, her counsel, and the public prosecutor signed the agreement.
Petitioner is bound by the pre-trial agreement, and she cannot now belatedly disavow its
contents.
[15]

[16]

[17]

[18]

[19]

On the second issue. Petitioner was charged with the crime of estafa under Article 315
(1) (b) of the Revised Penal Code. In general, the elements of estafa are: (1) that the
accused defrauded another (a) by abuse of confidence or (b) by means of deceit; and
(2) that damage or prejudice capable of pecuniary estimation is caused to the offended
party or third person. Deceit is not an essential requisite of estafa with abuse of
confidence, since the breach of confidence takes the place of the fraud or deceit, which
is a usual element in the other estafas.
[20]

[21]

[22]

The elements of estafa through conversion or misappropriation under Art. 315 (1) (b) of
the Revised Penal Code are:
[23]

(1) that personal property is received in trust, on commission, for


administration or under any other circumstance involving the duty to make
delivery of or to return the same, even though the obligation is guaranteed
by a bond;
(2) that there is conversion or diversion of such property by the person
who has so received it or a denial on his part that he received it;
(3) that such conversion, diversion or denial is to the injury of another and
(4) that there be demand for the return of the property.
Have the foregoing elements been met in the case at bar? We find the first element
absent. When the money, goods, or any other personal property is received by the
offender from the offended party (1) in trustor (2) on commission or (3)
for administration, 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. In this case, petitioner was a cash custodian who was
primarily responsible for the cash-in-vault. Her possession of the cash belonging to the
bank is akin to that of a bank teller, both being mere bank employees. Calrky
[24]

[25]

In People v. Locson, the receiving teller of a bank misappropriated the money received
by him for the bank. He was found liable for qualified theft on the theory that the
possession of the teller is the possession of the bank. We explained in Locson that [26]

"The money was in the possession of the defendant as receiving teller of


the bank, and the possession of the defendant was the possession of the
bank. When the defendant, with grave abuse of confidence, removed the
money and appropriated it to his own use without the consent of the bank,
there was the taking or apoderamiento contemplated in the definition of
the crime of theft."
[27]

In the subsequent case of Guzman v. Court of Appeals, a travelling sales agent


misappropriated or failed to return to his principal the proceeds of things or goods he
was commissioned or authorized to sell. He was, however, found liable for estafa under
Article 315 (1) (b) of the Revised Penal Code, and not qualified theft. In
the Guzman case, we explained the distinction between possession of a bank teller and
an agent for purposes of determining criminal liability [28]

"The case cited by the Court of Appeals (People vs. Locson, 57 Phil. 325),
in support of its theory that appellant only had the material possession of
the merchandise he was selling for his principal, or their proceeds, is not

in point. In said case, the receiving teller of a bank who misappropriated


money received by him for the bank, was held guilty of qualified theft on
the theory that the possession of the teller is the possession of the bank.
There is an essential distinction between the possession by a receiving
teller of funds received from third persons paid to the bank, and an agent
who receives the proceeds of sales of merchandise delivered to him in
agency by his principal. In the former case, payment by third persons to
the teller is payment to the bank itself; the teller is a mere custodian or
keeper of the funds received, and has no independent right or title to
retain or possess the same as against the bank. An agent, on the other
hand, can even assert, as against his own principal, an independent,
autonomous, right to retain money or goods received in consequence of
the agency; as when the principal fails to reimburse him for advances he
has made, and indemnify him for damages suffered without his fault
(Article 1915, [N]ew Civil Code; Article 1730, old)." Mesm
Petitioner herein being a mere cash custodian had no juridical possession over the
missing funds. Hence, the element of juridical possession being absent, petitioner
cannot be convicted of the crime of estafa under Article 315, No. 1 (b) of the Revised
Penal Code.
[29]

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby granted and petitioner is ACQUITTED of the crime
of estafa under Article 315 (1) (b) of the Revised Penal Code. Petitioner is ordered
RELEASED from custody unless she is being held for some other lawful cause. No
costs. Slx
SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo, (Chairman), Mendoza, Buena, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.

RTC Records, pp. 1-2.


Id. at 52.
[3]
Id. at 74.
[4]
Id. at 179-185.
[5]
Id. at 190.
[6]
Id. at 199.
[7]
Id. at 198.
[8]
Id. at 200.
[9]
Id. at 201.
[10]
Id. at 203.
[11]
Id. at 248-261.
[12]
Rollo, pp. 29-35.
[13]
Id. at 37.
[14]
Id. at 19-21.
[15]
SEC. 5. Who may prosecute criminal actions.All criminal actions either commenced by complaint or by
information shall be prosecuted under the direction and control of the fiscal. ...
[1]
[2]

[16]

U.S. v. Narvas, 14 Phil. 410, 411 (1909).

[17]

SEC. 2. Pre-trial conference; subjects.The pre-trial conference shall consider the following:
xxx

(e) Such other matters as will promote a fair and expeditious trial.
[18]
SEC. 4. Pre-trial agreements must be signed.No agreement or admission made or entered during the pre-trial
conference shall be used in evidence against the accused unless reduced to writing and signed by him and his
counsel.
[19]
Pre-trial in criminal cases is now governed by Republic Act No. 8493, otherwise known as the Speedy Trial Act
of 1998, and Supreme Court Circular No. 38-98.
"Art. 315. Swindling (estafa). - Any person who shall defraud another by any of the means mentioned
hereinbelow shall be punished by:
[20]

1st. The penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its minimum period, if the
amount of the fraud is over 12,000 but does not exceed 22,000 pesos, and if such amount exceeds the latter sum, the
penalty provided in this paragraph shall be imposed in its maximum period, adding one year for each additional
10,000 pesos; but the total penalty which may be imposed shall not exceed twenty years. In such case, and in
connection with the accessory penalties which may be imposed and for the purpose of the other provisions of this
Code, the penalty shall be termed prision mayor or reclusion temporal, as the case may be.
xxx
1. With unfaithfulness or abuse of confidence, namely:
... (b) By misappropriating or converting, to the prejudice of another, money, goods, or any other personal property
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, even though such obligation be totally or partially guaranteed by a
bond; or by denying having received such money, goods, or other property."
[21]
Reyes, L., The Revised Penal Code, Vol. II, 1993 ed., p. 654.
[22]
U.S. v. Sevilla, 43 Phil. 186, 189 (1922).
[23]
Fontanilla vs. People, 258 SCRA 460, 470 (1996); Sy v. People, 172 SCRA 685, 692 (1989).
[24]
See Santos v. People, 181 SCRA 487, 492 (1990).
[25]
See Note 19 at 680-681, citing People v. Marcelino Nicolas, et. al., C.A. 58 O.G. 472; People v. Maglaya, 30
SCRA 606, 610-612 (1969).
[26]
57 Phil. 325 (1932).
[27]
Id. at 334.
[28]
99 Phil. 703, 706-707 (1956).
Could the present Information sustain a conviction for qualified theft under Article 310 of the Revised Penal
Code? A perusal of the Information shows that it did not allege the essential elements of "intent to gain" and
"without the use of violence against or intimidation of persons or force upon things."
[29]

Cf. People v. Sison, G.R. No. 123183, January 19, 2000, where a Branch Operation Officer of a bank was convicted
of qualified theft on the basis of circumstantial evidence.

G.R. No. 191025

July 31, 2013

RHODORA PRIETO, Petitioner,


vs.
ALPADI DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Respondent.
RESOLUTION
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
In this Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, petitioner Rhodora
Prieto (Prieto) seeks to annul and set aside the Decision 1 dated August 28, 2009 and
Resolution2 dated November 12, 2009 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 91714, which (1)
annulled and set aside, on the ground of grave abuse of discretion, the Orders dated March 8,
20053 and August 8, 20054 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 8, in Criminal Case
No. 97-157752, granting Prieto's Demurrer to Evidence; and (2) reinstated and remanded said
criminal case to the R TC for further trial.
Prieto was employed as an accounting clerk and cashier of the Alpadi Group of Companies,
composed of respondent Alpadi Development Corporation (ADC), Manufacturers Building,
Incorporated (MBI), and Asian Ventures Corporation (AVC). ADC and MBI are both engaged in the
business of leasing office spaces.
Prieto was charged before the RTC with the crime of estafa in an Information5 dated May 13, 1997
that reads:
That in or about and during the year from 1992 up to 1994, inclusive, in the City of Manila,
Philippines, the said accused did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud ALPADI
DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, a business entity duly organized and existing under the laws of
the Republic of the Philippines, and doing business in said City, in the following manner, to wit: the
said accused being then employed as cashier and accounting clerk of the said corporation, collected
and received rental payments from the different tenants of Alpadi Development Corporation in the
total amount of P544,858.64, under the express obligation on the part of said accused to account for
and remit immediately the deposits and rentals due to said corporation, but the said accused, once
in the possession of the said amount, far from complying with her aforesaid obligation, failed and
refused and still fails and refuses to do so, despite repeated demands made upon her to that effect
and instead, with intent to defraud, unfaithfulness and grave abuse of confidence, misappropriated,
misapplied and converted the same to her own personal use and benefit, to the damage and
prejudice of Alpadi Developement Corporation represented by Angeles Manzano, in the aforesaid
sum of P544,858.64, Philippine Currency.
Trial ensued and the prosecution presented its evidence which included, among other things, the
testimonies of Angeles A. Manzano (Manzano), Office Manager of ADC and MBI, and Jaime Clamar,
Jr. (Clamar), Private Investigator; Prietos "kusang-loob na salaysay" executed before Clamar on
January 3, 1995, in which Prieto admitted collecting rental payments from the tenants of ADC and
MBI, making it appear through fraudulent deposit slips that she deposited her collections in the bank
accounts of ADC and MBI, and actually using said collections to pay for her household expenses
and to lend to employees of Tri-Tran Transit; the fraudulent deposit slips; Clamars Investigation
Report dated July 18, 1995 recommending that Prieto be charged in court for estafa and be made to
pay the amount she misappropriated; computation of Prietos unremitted/undeposited rental
collections prepared by Lourdes P. Roque, Supervising Director, and Manzano, Office Manager, with
the conforme of Prieto; and Affidavit dated December 16, 1994 of Harry Chua Ga Haou, a tenant of
MBI, stating that Prieto, personally and by a handwritten note, requested that rental payments be
made in cash rather than checks.

After resting its case, the prosecution filed its Formal Offer of Evidence, which was admitted by the
RTC in an Order dated December 13, 2004. Prieto, represented by the Public Attorneys Office
(PAO), asked for leave of court to file a Demurrer to Evidence. The RTC gave Prieto 20 days from
December 13, 2004 within which to file her Demurrer to Evidence. The 20th day of the period was
January 2, 2005, a Sunday, so Prieto could still file her Demurrer to Evidence on January 3, 2005, a
Monday. Records show that Prieto filed her Demurrer to Evidence only on January 13, 2005.
In her Demurrer to Evidence, Prieto argued that she could not be convicted for estafa because (1) as
an employee, her custody of the rental collections was precarious and for a temporary purpose or
short period only, and the juridical or constructive possession of the said collections remained in her
employer; and (2) there was no showing that demand was made upon Prieto to deliver or return the
rental collections to ADC.
In an Order dated March 8, 2005, the RTC granted Prietos Demurrer to Evidence, reasoning as
follows:
Accused being an employee of the complaining corporation, cannot be convicted of estafa because
when accused received the rental payments from the tenants, she only received the material and
physical possession of the money and the juridical possession remains in the owner. The position of
accused is likened to that of a bank teller receiving money from the depositors.
The Supreme Court ruled in the case GUZMAN vs. CA (G.R. No. L-9572, July31, 1956) that:
"The case cited by the Court of Appeals (People v. Locson, 57 Phil., 325), in support of its theory that
appellant only had the material possession of the merchandise he was selling for his principal, or
their proceeds, is not in point. In said case, the receiving teller of a bank who misappropriated
money received by him for a bank, was held guilty of qualified theft on the theory that the possession
of the teller is the possession of the bank. There is an essential distinction between the possession
by a receiving teller of funds received from third persons paid to the bank, and an agent who
receives the proceeds of sales of merchandise delivered to him in agency by his principal. In the
former case, payment by third persons to the teller is payment to the bank itself; the teller is a mere
custodian or keeper of the funds received, and has no independent right or title to retain or possess
the same as against the bank. An agent, on the other hand, can even assert, as against his own
principal, an independent, autonomous, right to retain the money or goods received in consequence
of the agency; as when the principal fails to reimburse him for advances he has made, and
indemnify him for damages suffered without his fault (Article 1915, new Civil Code; Article 1730,
old)."
Accused in this case is not even an agent of the corporation but a cashier and accounting clerk.
Payment of rentals by the tenants to the accused is also payment to the corporation because
accused is only a cashier whose duties include the receipt of rentals due from the tenants.
WHEREFORE, the Demurrer to Evidence is granted.
On the civil aspect of the case, set for hearing on May 25, 2005 and June 13, 2005 at 8:30 A.M. 6
ADC, as the private complainant in Criminal Case No. 97-157752, filed a Motion for Reconsideration
of the aforementioned RTC Order. The RTC, in an Order dated August 8, 2005, denied the Motion
for Reconsideration, thus:

The Court is constrained to deny the Motion for Reconsideration filed by private complainant
because the prosecution failed to prove all the elements of estafa with abuse of confidence under
paragraph 1(b) of Art. 315 which are the following:
1) That money, goods or other personal property be 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 be misappropriation or conversion of such money or property by the offender,
or denial on his part as 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 to the offender.
In this case, the prosecution failed to prove the first element. The Supreme Court ruled in the case of
Burce vs. CA, supra, to wit:
"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) for administration, 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. In this case, petitioner was a cash custodian who was primarily
responsible for the cash-in-vault. Her possession of the cash belonging to the bank is akin to that of
a bank teller, both being mere bank employees."
To reiterate, when accused received the rental payments from the tenants, she only received the
material and physical possession of the money and the juridical possession remains in the owner.
In view of the foregoing, the Motion for Reconsideration is hereby DENIED.
ADC sought recourse from the Court of Appeals by filing a Petition for Certiorari, docketed as CAG.R. SP No. 91714. ADC averred that the RTC committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to
lack or excess of jurisdiction in issuing the Orders dated March 8, 2005 and August 8, 2005, contrary
to law and jurisprudence, and despite the overwhelming evidence on record proving Prietos liability
for estafa. ADC additionally pointed out that Prietos Demurrer to Evidence was filed beyond the 20day period granted by the RTC.
Prieto, through the PAO, filed her Comment, arguing that: (1) the Petition for Certiorari of ADC was
not anchored on any of the grounds provided under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court and failed to
expressly indicate that there was no appeal, or any plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the
ordinary course of law, available; (2) ADC had no personality to file the Petition because only the
Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) may represent the Republic of the Philippines or the People, in
criminal proceedings, before the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court; and (3) the grant of the
demurrer to evidence dismissed the criminal case and was equivalent to Prietos acquittal, from
which no appeal could be taken, as it would place Prieto in double jeopardy.
The OSG, on behalf of the People, eventually filed, in lieu of a Comment, a Manifestation and Motion
ratifying and adopting the Petition for Certiorari of ADC. According to the OSG, in addition to Prietos
own confession, the prosecution had duly proven the elements of estafa. The cases cited by the
RTC in its assailed Orders were inapplicable to Prietos case. Also, since the grant of the demurrer to

evidence is tantamount to an acquittal, albeit based on erroneous grounds and misinterpretation of


law and jurisprudence, the remedy of appeal was not available to the People. Thus, the Petition for
Certiorari was the proper remedy.
The Court of Appeals rendered its Decision on August 28, 2009 granting the Petition for Certiorari in
CA-G.R. SP No. 91714 and finding that:
Evidence on record strongly supports the Peoples argument that the cases cited by the trial court
are inapplicable in this case. The elements of Estafa have been duly proven by the prosecution.
Records reveal that Prieto had admitted having failed to remit the rentals from 1992 to 1994, or for a
period of two (2) years. While it is a fact that she was instructed to have the rentals collected to be
deposited on the day of the collection or the following day, however, since the misappropriation was
discovered only after two (2) years, it only goes to show that she had the discretion as to when to
have these rentals deposited or not to have them deposited at all. She had control as to the amount
she wished to include as part of her collections, which led her to misappropriating the rental
collections. The said misappropriation would not have been discovered only after 2 years had there
not been a fiduciary relationship between Prieto and her employer. As such, she could not be
considered not having juridical possession of the rentals she had collected. Clearly, the trial court
erred in declaring that Prieto is likened to a bank teller, whose possession of the cash collections is
merely physical. Contrary to such findings, Prieto in this case had physical or material possession
and juridical possession with a duty to make delivery of the collections she received in trust.
Moreover, it is well to note that the case of People vs. Benitez raised by ADC, finds application in the
instant case. In Benitez, the accused was employed as collector of rents of the houses owned by his
employer. For two (2) months, the accused made several collections from his employers tenants
amounting to P540.00. Having failed to turn over said amount, or to account for it, to his employer,
upon demand, the accused offered to work in the formers establishment, in the sum of P100.00, to
be deducted from his salary every month until the whole amount of P540.00 is fully paid. The
agreement was reduced to writing. However, after working for a few days, the accused did not report
for work. His employer sent him a demand letter for the settlement of his account. As the accused
failed to pay the amount of his obligation, a complaint for Estafa was filed against him, and for which
he was convicted. The Supreme Court ratiocinates in this case that the failure to account upon
demand, for funds or property held in trust is circumstantial evidence of misappropriation. 7
Given the findings of the Court of Appeals that the RTC Orders were in contravention of law and
settled jurisprudence and were, therefore, issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction, the appellate court held that its reversal of the grant of Demurrer to Evidence
did not violate Prietos right against double jeopardy, citing People v. Hon. Laguio, Jr.8 and Dayap v.
Sendiong.9
The Court of Appeals lastly ruled, based on People v. Nano,10 that the filing of the Petition for
Certiorari by ADC, instead of by the OSG, was a mere defect in form, which was cured when the
OSG subsequently filed a Manifestation and Motion ratifying and adopting said Petition.
In the end, the Court of Appeals decreed:
WHEREFORE, finding grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, as
prayed for, the assailed Orders, of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 8, dated 08 March
2005 and 08 August 2005, in Criminal Case No. 97-157752, are hereby ANNULLED and SET
ASIDE. Let the instant case be remanded to the RTC and reinstated for the reception of the defense
evidence/further trial.11

The appellate court denied Prietos Motion for Reconsideration in its Resolution dated November 12,
2009.
The PAO, Prietos counsel before the RTC and the Court of Appeals, received a copy of the
Resolution dated November 12, 2009 on November 24, 2009, hence, giving Prieto until December 9,
2009 to appeal the adverse judgment of the Court of Appeals to this Court. Atty. Allan Julius B.
Azcueta (Azcueta), Public Attorney II of the PAO, filed on December 4, 2009 a Motion for Extension
of Time to File Petition for Review on Certiorari before the Court, requesting an extension of 30 days
from December 9, 2009, or until January 8, 2010, within which to file Prietos appeal of the Decision
dated August 28, 2009 and Resolution dated November 12, 2009 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
SP No. 91714. The Motion was docketed as G.R. No. 190282.
However, on January 12, 2010, Atty. Azcueta filed before the Court a Manifestation with Motion,
alleging that:
3. On 06 January 2010, the petitioner, Rhodora Prieto, personally visited the undersigned
counsels office and after a thorough discussion of the case with her, Prieto had a change of
heart and has decided not to further appeal her case anymore, considering that she still has
the chance to present her evidence before the lower court and at the same time the chance
to have the case settled amicably if the lower court allows:
4. After careful deliberation and exhaustive discussion with the undersigned counsel, Prieto
is now voluntarily signifying her desire to withdraw the filing of the Petition for Review on
Certiorari;
5. For this reason, the undersigned humbly and profusely apologizes for the inconvenience
that the non-filing of the petition may have caused to this Honorable Court. The motion for
extension was filed solely for the purpose of protecting and serving the interest of Prieto. 12
Atty. Azcueta then prayed for the Court to note the Manifestation with Motion and to dispense with
the filing of the Petition for Review on Certiorari.
In its Resolution dated February 10, 2010 in G.R. No. 190282, the Court resolved:
(1) to NOTE the manifestation of Public Attorneys Office that Prieto decided not to appeal
her case considering that she still has the chance to present her evidence before the lower
court and at the same time has the chance to have the case amicably settled;
(2) to GRANT the said counsels motion to withdraw the filing of the petition for review on
certiorari; and
(3) to consider this case CLOSED and TERMINATED.13
Entry of Judgment was eventually made in G.R. No. 190282 on April 5, 2010.
Meanwhile, also on February 10, 2010, Prieto, through another counsel, Atty. Xilexferen P. Barroga
(Barroga) of Barroga, Nario & Associates Law Offices, filed the instant Petition for Review on
Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, praying for the reversal of the Decision dated August
28, 2009 and Resolution dated November 12, 2009 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No.
91714 and the reinstatement of the Orders dated March 8, 2005 and August 8, 2005 of the RTC in
Criminal Case No. No. 97-157752. The Petition is docketed as G.R. No. 191025.

To justify the timeliness of the filing of her Petition in G.R. No. 191025 on February 10, 2012, Prieto
alleges that she received a copy of the Resolution dated November 12, 2009 of the Court of
Appeals, denying her Motion for Reconsideration, only on January 26, 2010, mailed to her by the
PAO.
In the present Petition, Prieto insists that she was a mere employee with continuing instruction from
ADC to deposit the rental payments either on the same day or the day after collection, and she could
not have validly retained control of the amounts collected because ownership of the same still
belonged to ADC. Prieto goes on to argue that without juridical possession of the rental payments
she collected, she cannot be convicted of estafa since an essential element of the crime is lacking.
In a Resolution14 dated March 3, 2010 the Court, without necessarily giving due course to the
Petition in G.R. No. 191025, required ADC to file its Comment.
ADC, in its Comment, prays for the outright denial of the Petition on the following grounds: (1) G.R.
Nos. 190282 and 191025 both involve Prietos appeal of the Decision dated August 28, 2009 and
Resolution dated November 12, 2009 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 91714, and in the
Resolution dated February 10, 2010, the Court already granted Prietos motion to withdraw the
Petition in G.R. No. 190282 and considered G.R. No. 190282 closed and terminated; (2) even with
the grant of Prietos previous motion for extension of time, she only had until January 8, 2010 within
which to appeal the adverse judgment of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 91714, so the filing
of the Petition in G.R. No. 191025 on February 10, 2010 was already out of time; and (3) Prietos
arguments in her Petition in G.R. No. 191025 merely rehash or restate those already resolved by the
Court of Appeals.
Prieto claims in her Reply that she was not aware that Atty. Azcueta filed a Motion for Extension of
Time to file a Petition for Review, docketed as G.R. No. 190282 and that she did not authorize Atty.
Azcueta to file a Manifestation with Motion withdrawing her appeal of the adverse judgment of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 91714. According to Prieto, she went to the PAO from time to
time to follow-up on her case, but she felt that her case was not being diligently attended to, so she
decided to hire the services of a private lawyer with money raised by her relatives. When she asked
for a copy of the Court of Appeals Resolution dated November 12, 2009 denying her Motion for
Reconsideration, she was told by the PAO that a copy of the same would be sent to her through
mail. She received a copy of said Resolution only on January 26, 2010, giving her until February 10,
2010 to appeal. Consequently, her Petition in G.R. No. 191025 filed on February 10, 2010 was filed
within the reglementary period.
At the outset, the Court notes that both G.R. Nos. 190282 and 191025 involve Prietos appeal of the
Decision dated August 28, 2009 and Resolution dated November 12, 2009 of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. SP No. 91714. On February 10, 2010, the motion to withdraw the appeal in G.R. No.
190282, filed by the PAO, was granted by the Court; and on the same date, the Petition in G.R. No.
191025 was filed by Prietos new counsel.
The Court hereby outrightly denies Prietos Petition in G.R. No. 191025 for being filed out of time,
without the need of delving into the propriety of the institution of G.R. No. 191025 in light of the
previous withdrawal of G.R. No. 190282.
The reglementary period for filing a Petition for Review on Certiorari is set forth in Rule 45, Section 2
of the Rules of Court, which provides:

SEC. 2. Time for filing; extension. The petition shall be filed within fifteen (15) days from notice of
the judgment or final order or resolution appealed from, or of the denial of the petitioners motion for
new trial or reconsideration filed in due time after notice of judgment. On
motion duly filed and served, with full payment of the docket and other lawful fees and the deposit for
costs before the expiration of the reglementary period, the Supreme Court may for justifiable
reasons grant an extension of thirty (30) days only within which to file the petition.
In this case, Prieto, through her counsel of record, the PAO, received a copy of the Resolution
denying her Motion for Reconsideration of the adverse judgment of the Court of Appeals on
November 24, 2009. The 15-day period to appeal would have ended on December 9, 2009, but with
the 30-day extension period prayed for by the PAO in G.R. No. 190282, the last day for filing the
appeal was moved to January 8, 2010. Clearly, the filing of the Petition in G.R. No. 191025 by
Prietos new counsel was already beyond the reglementary period for appeal.
Time and again the Court has declared that the right to appeal is neither a natural right nor a part of
due process. It is merely a statutory privilege and may be exercised only in the manner and in
accordance with the provisions of law. Thus, one who seeks to avail of the right to appeal must
comply with the requirements of the Rules. Failure to do so often leads to the loss of the right to
appeal.15
Prieto prays for the liberal application of the rules of procedure and posits that the 15-day
reglementary period be counted from January 26, 2010, the day she actually received a copy of the
Resolution denying her Motion for Reconsideration of the adverse judgment of the Court of
Appeals, sent to her through mail by the PAO.
The Court is not persuaded.
In National Power Corporation v. Laohoo,16 the Court pronounced that:
The rules provide that if a party is appearing by counsel, service upon him shall be made upon his
counsel or one of them unless service upon the party himself is ordered by the court. x x x.
The general rule is that a client is bound by the acts, even mistakes, of his counsel in the realm of
procedural technique. The exception to this rule is when the negligence of counsel is so gross,
reckless and inexcusable that the client is deprived of his day in court. The failure of a partys
counsel to notify him on time of the adverse judgment to enable him to appeal therefrom is
negligence, which is not excusable. Notice sent to counsel of record is binding upon the client, and
the neglect or failure of counsel to inform him of an adverse judgment resulting in the loss of his right
to appeal is not a ground for setting aside a judgment valid and regular on its face.
To sustain petitioners self-serving argument that it cannot be bound by its counsels negligence
would set a dangerous precedent, as it would enable every party-litigant to render inoperative any
adverse order or decision of the courts, through the simple expedient of alleging gross negligence on
the part of its counsel. (Citations omitted.)
The Court further elucidated in People v. Kawasa and Salido17 on why it is not easily swayed by
assertions of gross negligence or mistake on the part of the counsel that should not bind the client:

If indeed accused-appellant felt and believed that his counsel was inept, that he should have taken
action, such as discharging him earlier, instead of waiting until an adverse decision was handed, and
thereupon heap all blame and condemnation on his counsel, who cannot now be heard to defend
himself. This cannot be allowed, for to do otherwise would result in a situation where all a defeated
party would have to do to salvage his case is to claim neglect or mistake on the part of his counsel
as a ground for reversing an adverse judgment. There would be no end to litigation if this were
allowed as every shortcoming of counsel could be the subject of challenge by his client through
another counsel who, if he is also found wanting, would likewise be disowned by the same client
through another counsel, and so on ad infinitum. This would render court proceedings indefinite,
tentative, and subject to reopening at any time by the mere subterfuge of replacing counsel. x x x.
Prieto herein not only alleges mistake or negligence on the part of the PAO, but more seriously,
attributes to her former counsel deliberate acts which deprived her of her right to appeal, i.e.,
refusing to give her a copy of the Resolution dated November 12, 2009 of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. SP No. 91714 and misrepresenting to the Court that it was authorized by Prieto to withdraw
her appeal in G.R. No. 190282. However, other than Prietos bare allegations, there is no other
evidence of the purported detrimental acts of the PAO. In addition, Prietos allegations are so
contrary to the past conduct of the PAO, which diligently represented her before the RTC, the Court
of Appeals, and even up to this Court, with the PAO even timely filing the Motion for Extension of
Time to File Petition for Review on Certiorari before this Court, docketed as G.R. No. 190282.
It must be stressed that anyone seeking exemption from the application of the reglementary period
for filing an appeal has the burden of proving the existence of exceptionally meritorious instances
warranting such deviation.18Parties praying for the liberal interpretation of the rules must be able to
hurdle that heavy burden of proving that they deserve an exceptional treatment. It was never the
Courts intent "to forge a bastion for erring litigants to violate the rules with impunity." 19 Unfortunately
for Prieto, she was unable to discharge this burden of proof.
Procedural rules should not be so easily brushed aside with the mere averment of the "higher
interest of justice," as the Court discussed in Building Care Corp./Leopard Security & Investigation
Agency v. Macaraeg20:
It should be emphasized that the resort to a liberal application, or suspension of the application of
procedural rules, must remain as the exception to the well-settled principle that rules must be
complied with for the orderly administration of justice. In Marohomsalic v. Cole, the Court stated:
While procedural rules may be relaxed in the interest of justice, it is well-settled that these are tools
designed to facilitate the adjudication of cases. The relaxation of procedural rules in the interest of
justice was never intended to be a license for erring litigants to violate the rules with impunity.
Liberality in the interpretation and application of the rules can be invoked only in proper cases and
under justifiable causes and circumstances. While litigation is not a game of technicalities, every
case must be prosecuted in accordance with the prescribed procedure to ensure an orderly and
speedy administration of justice.
The later case of Daikoku Electronics Phils., Inc. v. Raza, further explained that:
To be sure, the relaxation of procedural rules cannot be made without any valid reasons proffered for
or underpinning it. To merit liberality, petitioner must show reasonable cause justifying its noncompliance with the rules and must convince the Court that the outright dismissal of the petition
would defeat the administration of substantial justice. x x x. The desired leniency cannot be accorded
absent valid and compelling reasons for such a procedural lapse. x x x.

We must stress that the bare invocation of "the interest of substantial justice" line is not some magic
want that will automatically compel this Court to suspend procedural rules. Procedural rules are not
to be belittled, let alone dismissed simply because their non-observance may have resulted in
prejudice to a partys substantial rights. Utter disregard of the rules cannot be justly rationalized by
harping on the policy of liberal construction. (Emphases and citations omitted.)
Prieto cannot claim that she had been deprived of her day in court when her arguments in support of
her Demurrer to Evidence had been heard by the RTC and the Court of Appeals. Moreover, she
does not lose her liberty at this point for she still has the opportunity to present evidence in her
defense before the RTC in the continuation of the proceedings in Criminal Case No. 97-157752.
With the withdrawal of the appeal in G.R. No. 190282 and the belated filing of the Petition in G.R.
No. 191025, the Decision dated August 28, 2009 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 91714,
reversing the grant by the RTC of Prietos Demurrer to Evidence and reinstating Criminal Case No.
97-157752, had become final and executory, thus, immutable. As the Court declared in Lalican v.
Insular Life Assurance Co. Ltd.21:
A judgment becomes "final and executory" by operation of law. Finality becomes a fact when the
reglementary period to appeal lapses and no appeal is perfected within such period. As a
consequence, no court (not even this Court) can exercise appellate jurisdiction to review a case or
modify a decision that has become final. When a final judgment is executory, it becomes immutable
and unalterable. It may no longer be modified in any respect either by the court, which rendered it or
even by this Court. The doctrine is founded on considerations of public policy and sound practice
that, at the risk of occasional errors, judgments must become final at some definite point in time.
(Citations omitted.)
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED for being filed out of time.
SO ORDERED.
TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:
MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO
Chief Justice
Chairperson
LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
Associate Justice

MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.


Associate Justice

BIENVENIDO L. REYES
Associate Justice
C E R TI F I C ATI O N
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the conclusions in the above
Resolution had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the
opinion of the Court's Division.

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO


Chief Justice

Footnotes
Rollo, pp. 20-32; penned by Associate Justice Romeo F. Barza with Associate Justices
Remedios A.Salazar-Fernando and Isaias P. Dicdican, concurring.
1

Id. at 34-35.

I d. at 81-83.

Id. at 84-86.

Id. at 37.

Id. at 82.

Id. at 27-29.

547 Phil. 296, 309-310 (2007).

G.R. No. 177960, January 29, 2009, 577 SCRA 134, 146-147.

10

G.R. No. 94639, January 13, 1992, 205 SCRA 155, 159.

11

Rollo, p. 31.

12

Id. at 114-115.

13

Id. at 117.

14

Id. at 88-89.

15

Basuel v. Fact-Finding and Intelligence Bureau (FFIB), 526 Phil. 608, 613-614 (2006).

16

G.R. No. 151973, July 23, 2009, 593 SCRA 564, 584-585.

17

327 Phil. 928, 935 (1996).

18

Neplum, Inc. v. Orbeso, 433 Phil. 844, 868 (2002).

19

Rivera-Pascual v. Lim, G.R. No. 191837, September 19, 2012, 681 SCRA 429, 436.

20

G.R. No. 198357, December 10, 2012, 687 SCRA 643, 647-648.

21

G.R. No. 183526, August 25, 2009, 597 SCRA 159, 173.