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Hence, this petition for review.

[12]
[G.R. No. 113006. November 23, 2000]
ONG CHIU KWAN, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, and the PEOPLE OF THE The Court notes that in the decision of the Regional Trial Court which the Court of Appeals
PHILIPPINES, respondents affirmed peremptorily without noticing its nullity, the Regional Trial Court merely quoted the
decision of the Municipal Trial Court in full and added two paragraphs, thus:
DECISION
PARDO, J.:
This Court, in accordance with the rules, required the parties to submit their corresponding
What is before the Court for consideration is the decision of the Court of Appeals affirming memorandum or brief. The prosecution filed its memorandum, and also with the defense.
the conviction of accused Ong Chiu Kwan, for unjust vexation. [1]
After a careful perusal of the record of the case and evaluating the evidence thereto and exhibits
On January 31, 1991, Assistant City Prosecutor Andres M. Bayona of Bacolod filed with the thereof, this Court finds no ground to modify, reverse or alter the above-stated decision and
Municipal Trial Court, Bacolod City an information charging petitioner with unjust vexation for hereby affirms the decision of the lower court in toto.[13]
cutting the electric wires, water pipes and telephone lines of Crazy Feet, a business establishment
owned and operated by Mildred Ong.[2]
The Constitution requires that [N]o decision shall be rendered by any court without
On April 24, 1990, at around 10:00 in the morning, Ong Chiu Kwan ordered Wilfredo Infante expressing therein clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based. [14] The 1985
to relocate the telephone, electric and water lines of Crazy Feet, because said lines posed as a Rules of Criminal Procedure, as amended, provides that [T]he judgment must be written in the
disturbance.[3] However, Ong Chiu Kwan failed to present a permit from appropriate authorities official language, personally and directly prepared by the judge and signed by him and shall
allowing him to cut the electric wires, water pipe and telephone lines of the business contain clearly and distinctly a statement of the facts proved or admitted by the accused and the
establishment.[4] law upon which the judgment is based.[15]

After due trial, on September 1, 1992, the Municipal Trial Court found Ong Chiu Kwan guilty Although a memorandum decision is permitted under certain conditions, it cannot merely
of unjust vexation,[5] and sentenced him to imprisonment for twenty days.[6] The court also ordered refer to the findings of fact and the conclusions of law of the lower court. The court must make a
him to pay moral damages, finding that the wrongful act of abruptly cutting off the electric, water full findings of fact and conclusions of law of its own.[16]
pipe and telephone lines of Crazy Feet caused the interruption of its business operations during
peak hours, to the detriment of its owner, Mildred Ong. The trial court also awarded exemplary Consequently, the decision of the regional trial court is a nullity. Very recently, speaking of
damages to complainant as a deterrent to the accused not to follow similar act in the future and a similarly worded decision of a regional trial court, we said:
to pay attorneys fees.[7] The trial court disposed of the case as follows:
[I]t is starkly hallow, otiosely written, vacuous in its content and trite in its form. It achieved
IN VIEW THEREOF, this Court finds the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the offense nothing and attempted at nothing, not even at a simple summation of facts which could easily be
of unjust vexation provided under Article 287 par. 2 of the Revised Penal Code and sentences done. Its inadequacy speaks for itself.[17]
him to suffer a penalty of imprisonment of twenty (20) days and to pay private complainant the
following: Judges similarly disposed to pay lip service to their work must rethink their place in the
judiciary or seriously take refresher courses on decision writing. We warn them of stiff sanctions
P10,000.00 - moral damages for such lackadaisical performance.

Consequently, the case may be remanded to the lower court for compliance with the
P 5,000.00 - exemplary damages constitutional requirement of contents of a decision. However, considering that this case has been
pending for sometime, the ends of justice will be fully served if we review the evidence and decide
the case.
P 5,000.00 - attorneys fees and to pay the cost of this suit.
Petitioner admitted having ordered the cutting of the electric, water and telephone lines of
SO ORDERED. complainants business establishment because these lines crossed his property line. He failed,
however, to show evidence that he had the necessary permit or authorization to relocate the
lines. Also, he timed the interruption of electric, water and telephone services during peak hours
Bacolod City, Philippines, September 1, 1992. of the operation of business of the complainant. Thus, petitioners act unjustly annoyed or vexed
the complainant. Consequently, petitioner Ong Chiu Kwan is liable for unjust vexation.
(SGD.)RAFAEL O. PENUELA
Judge[8] Regarding damages, we find the award of moral and exemplary damages and attorneys
fees to be without basis. Moral damages may be recovered if they were the proximate result of
On appeal to the Regional Trial Court, Bacolod City, the latter court in a decision dated defendants wrongful act or omission.[18] An award of exemplary damages is justified if the crime
December 8, 1992, simplistically adopted the decision of the lower court in toto, without stating was committed with one or more aggravating circumstances.[19] There is no evidence to support
the reasons for doing so.[9] such award. Hence, we delete the award of moral damages, exemplary damages, and attorneys
fees.
On April 22, 1993, by petition for review, Ong Chiu Kwan elevated the case to the Court of
Appeals.[10] On August 16, 1993, the Court of Appeals promulgated its decision dismissing the WHEREFORE, the decisions of the lower courts are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. In lieu
appeal,[11] agreeing with the lower courts finding that petitioner was guilty beyond reasonable thereof, accused Ong Chiu Kwan is hereby sentenced to pay a fine of P200.00, and the costs.The
doubt of unjust vexation. award of moral and exemplary damages and attorneys fees is hereby deleted. SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 138033 February 22, 2006 Early morning of the following day, MALOU was awakened by the smell of chemical
on a piece of cloth pressed on her face. She struggled but could not move.
RENATO BALEROS, JR., Petitioner, Somebody was pinning her down on the bed, holding her tightly. She wanted to
vs. scream for help but the hands covering her mouth with cloth wet with chemicals were
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. very tight (TSN, July 5, 1993, p. 33). Still, MALOU continued fighting off her attacker
by kicking him until at last her right hand got free. With this the opportunity
presented itself when she was able to grab hold of his sex organ which she then
DECISION squeezed.

GARCIA, J.: The man let her go and MALOU went straight to the bedroom door and roused
Marvilou. xxx. Over the intercom, MALOU told S/G Ferolin that: "may pumasok sa
In this petition for review on certiorari, petitioner Renato Baleros, Jr. assails and kuarto ko pinagtangkaan ako" (Ibid., p. 8). Who it was she did not, however, know.
seeks the reversal of the January 13, 1999 decision 1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in The only thing she had made out during their struggle was the feel of her attackers
CA-G.R. CR No. 17271 as reiterated in its March 31, 1999 resolution2 denying clothes and weight. His upper garment was of cotton material while that at the lower
petitioners motion for reconsideration. portion felt smooth and satin-like (Ibid, p. 17). He was wearing a t-shirt and shorts
Original Records, p. 355).
The assailed decision affirmed an earlier decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Manila, Branch 2, in Criminal Case No. 91-101642 finding petitioner Renato Baleros, To Room 310 of the Building where her classmates Christian Alcala, Bernard
Jr. y David (CHITO) guilty of attempted rape.3 Baptista, Lutgardo Acosta and Rommel Montes were staying, MALOU then
proceeded to seek help. xxx.
The accusatory portion of the information4 dated December 17, 1991 charging
petitioner with attempted rape reads as follow: It was then when MALOU saw her bed topsy-turvy. Her nightdress was stained
with blue (TSN, July 5, 1993, pp. 13-14). Aside from the window with grills which
That about 1:50 in the morning or sometime thereafter of 13 December 1991 in she had originally left opened, another window inside her bedroom was now open.
Manila and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, Her attacker had fled from her room going through the left bedroom window (Ibid,
by forcefully covering the face of Martina Lourdes T. Albano with a piece of cloth Answers to Question number 5; Id), the one without iron grills which leads to Room
soaked in chemical with dizzying effects, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and 306 of the Building (TSN, July 5, 1993, p.6).
feloniously commenced the commission of rape by lying on top of her with the
intention to have carnal knowledge with her but was unable to perform all the acts of xxx xxx xxx
execution by reason of some cause or accident other than his own spontaneous
desistance, said acts being committed against her will and consent to her damage Further, MALOU testified that her relation with CHITO, who was her classmate ,
and prejudice. was friendly until a week prior to the attack. CHITO confided his feelings for her,
telling her: "Gusto kita, mahal kita" (TSN, July 5, 1993, p. 22) and she rejected him.
Upon arraignment on February 5, 1992, petitioner, assisted by counsel, pleaded "Not . (TSN, July 5, 1993, p. 22).
Guilty."5 Thereafter, trial on the merits ensued.
Meanwhile, according to S/G Ferolin, while he was on duty, CHITO arrived at the
To prove its case, the prosecution presented thirteen (13) witnesses. Among them Building at 1:30 in the early morning of December 13, 1991, wearing a white t-shirt
were private complainant Martina Lourdes Albano (Malou), and her classmates, with a marking on the front of the T-shirt T M and a Greek letter (sic) and
Joseph Bernard Africa, Rommel Montes, Renato Alagadan and Christian Alcala. below the quoted letters the word 1946 UST Medicine and Surgery (TSN, October
Their testimonies, as narrated in some detail in the decision of the CA, established 9, 1992, p. 9) and black shorts with the brand name Adidas (TSN, October 16, 1992,
the following facts: p.7) and requested permission to go up to Room 306. This Unit was being leased by
Ansbert Co and at that time when CHITO was asking permission to enter, only
Like most of the tenants of the Celestial Marie Building (hereafter "Building", ) along Joseph Bernard Africa was in the room.
A.H. Lacson Street, Sampaloc, Manila, MALOU, occupying Room 307 with her maid,
Marvilou Bebania (Marvilou), was a medical student of the University of Sto. Tomas He asked CHITO to produce the required written authorization and when CHITO
[UST] in 1991. could not, S/G Ferolin initially refused [but later, relented] . S/G Ferolin made the
following entry in the security guards logbook :
In the evening of December 12, inside Unit 307, MALOU retired at around 10:30.
Outside, right in front of her bedroom door, her maid, Marvilou, slept on a folding bed.
"0130H Baleros Renato Jr. is a visitor of Ansbert Co who has not have (sic) a another roommate of his, went inside to search the Unit. Loyloy found (TSN, January
Request letter from our tenant of Unit #-306 Ansbert, but still I let him inter (sic) for the 12, 1993, p. 6) a gray "Khumbella" bag cloth type (Ibid, pp. 44-45) from inside their
reason that he will be our tenant this coming summer break as he said so I let him unit which they did not know was there and surrender the same to the investigators.
sign it here When he saw the gray bag, Christian knew right away that it belonged to CHITO (Ibid,
p. 55) as he had seen the latter usually bringing it to school inside the classroom
(Sgd.) Baleros Renato Jr." (Ibid, p. 45).

(Exhibit "A-2") In their presence, the CIS opened the bag and pulled out its contents, among others,
a white t-shirt with a Taunu (sic) Sigma Phi sign (Ibid, p. 7), a Black Adidas short
pants, a handkerchief , three (3) white T-shirts, an underwear, and socks (Ibid).
That CHITO arrived at Room 306 at 1:30 A.M. of December 13, 1991 was
corroborated by Joseph Bernard Africa (Joseph), .
Christian recognized the t-shirt (Exhibit "D-4"), the Adidas short pants (Exhibit "D-5"),
and the handkerchief (Exhibit "D-3) to be CHITOs because CHITO had lent the very
xxx xxx xxx same one to him . The t-shirt with CHITOs fraternity symbol, CHITO used to wear
on weekends, and the handkerchief he saw CHITO used at least once in December.
Joseph was already inside Room 306 at 9 oclock in the evening of December 12,
1991. xxx by the time CHITOs knocking on the door woke him up, . He was able to That CHITO left his bag inside Room 310 in the morning of December 13, 1991, was
fix the time of CHITOs arrival at 1:30 A.M. because he glanced at the alarm clock what consisted mainly of Renato R. Alagadans testimony.
beside the bed when he was awakened by the knock at the door .
xxx xxx xxx.
Joseph noticed that CHITO was wearing dark-colored shorts and white T-shirt (Ibid.,
p. 23) when he let the latter in. . It was at around 3 oclock in the morning of
December 13, 1991 when he woke up again later to the sound of knocking at the The colored gray bag had a handle and a strap, was elongated to about 11/4 feet and
door, this time, by Bernard Baptista (Bernard), . appeared to be full but was closed with a zipper when Renato saw it then (Ibid, pp.
19-20). At that time Christian, Gary, Bernard, and Renato went back to Room 310 at
around 3 to 4 oclock that afternoon along with some CIS agents, they saw the bag at
xxx. With Bernard, Joseph then went to MALOUs room and thereat was shown by the same place inside the bedroom where Renato had seen CHITO leave it. Not until
Bernard the open window through which the intruder supposedly passed. later that night at past 9 oclock in Camp Crame, however, did Renato know what the
contents of the bag were.
xxx xxx xxx
xxx xxx xxx.
Later, at about 6 to 6:30 in the morning of December 13, 1991, Joseph was finally
able to talk to CHITO . He mentioned to the latter that something had happened The forensic Chemist, Leslie Chambers, of the Philippine National Police Crime
and that they were not being allowed to get out of the building. Joseph also told Laboratory in Camp Crame, having acted in response to the written request of PNP
CHITO to follow him to Room 310. Superintendent Lucas M. Managuelod dated December 13, 1991, (Exhibit "C";
Original Records, p. 109.) conducted laboratory examination on the specimen
CHITO did just that. He followed after Joseph to Unit 310, carrying his gray bag. xxx. collated and submitted. Her Chemistry Report No. C-487-91 (Exhibit "E"; Ibid., p.
None was in Room 310 so Joseph went to their yet another classmate, Renato 112) reads in part, thus:
Alagadan at Room 401 to see if the others were there. xxx.
"SPECIMEN SUBMITTED:
People from the CIS came by before 8 oclock that same morning . They likewise
invited CHITO and Joseph to go with them to Camp Crame where the two (2) were xxx xxx xxx:
questioned .
1) One (1) small white plastic bag marked UNIMART with the following:
An occupant of Room 310 Christian Alcala (Christian) recalled in Court that in the
afternoon of December 13, 1991, after their 3:30 class, he and his roommates,
Bernard Baptista and Lutgardo Acosta (Gary) were called to the Building and were xxx xxx xxx
asked by the CIS people to look for anything not belonging to them in their Unit. While
they were outside Room 310 talking with the authorities, Rommel Montes (Loyloy), Exh C One (1) night dress colored salmon pink.
2) One (1) small white pl astic bag marked JONAS with the following: xxx CHITO had anticipated his turn and was thus wearing his t-shirt and long pants
when he was dunked. Perla Duran, , offered each dry clothes to change into and
Exh. D One (1) printed handkerchief. CHITO put on the white t-shirt with the Fraternitys symbol and a pair of black shorts
with stripes. xxx .
Exh. E One (1) white T-shirt marked TMZI.
Again riding on Albertos car and wearing "barong tagalog over a white t-shirt with the
symbol TAU Sigma Phi, black short pants with stripe, socks and shoes" (TSN, April
Exh. F One (1) black short (sic) marked ADIDAS. 25, 1994, p. 15), CHITO left the party with Robert Chan and Alberto at more or less
past 1 A.M. of December 13, 1991 and proceeded to the Building which they reached
PURPOSE OF LABORATORY EXAMINATION: at about 1:30 A.M. (Ibid., p. 19). He had left his gray traveling bag containing "white t-
shirt, sando, underwear, socks, and toothbrush (Ibid., pp. 17-18) at room 306 in the
To determine the presence of volatime (sic), non-volatile and/or metallic poison on the afternoon of the previous day .
above stated specimens.
At the gate of the Building, CHITO knocked and , S/G Ferolin, looking at his watch,
FINDINGS: approached. Because of this, CHITO also looked at his own watch and saw that the
time was 1:30 (Ibid., p. 26). S/G Ferolin initially refused CHITO entry . xxx.

Toxicological examination conducted on the above stated specimens gave the


following results: S/G Ferolin called Unit 306 . xxx. When S/G Ferolin finally let him in, already about
ten (10) minutes had lapsed since CHITO first arrived (Ibid., p. 25).

Exhs. C and D POSITIVE to the test for chloroform, a volatile poison.


CHITO went up the floor, found the key left for him by Joseph behind the opened
jalousie window and for five (5) minutes vainly tried to open the door until Rommel
Exhs. A, B, E and F are insufficient for further analysis. Montes, approached him and even commented: "Okey ang suot mo ha, di mo
mabuksan ang pinto (Ibid., pp. 26-29). Rommel tried to open the door of Unit 306
CONCLUSION: but was likewise unsuccessful. CHITO then decided to just call out to Joseph while
knocking at the door.
Exhs. C and D contain chloroform, a volatile poison." 6 (Words in bracket added)
It took another (5) minutes of calling out and knocking before Joseph, , at last
answered the door. Telling him, "Ikaw na ang bahala diyan" Joseph immediately
For its part, the defense presented, as its main witness, the petitioner himself. He
turned his back on CHITO and went inside the bedroom. CHITO , changed to a
denied committing the crime imputed to him or making at any time amorous advances
thinner shirt and went to bed. He still had on the same short pants given by Perla
on Malou. Unfolding a different version of the incident, the defense sought to
Duran from the fraternity party (TSN, June 16, 1994, p. 20).
establish the following, as culled from the same decision of the appellate court:

At 6 oclock in the morning of December 13, 1991, CHITO woke up . He was


In December of 1991, CHITO was a medical student of (UST). With Robert Chan
already in his school uniform when, around 6:30 A.M, Joseph came to the room not
and Alberto Leonardo, he was likewise a member of the Tau Sigma Phi Fraternity .
yet dressed up. He asked the latter why this was so and, without elaborating on it,
MALOU, , was known to him being also a medical student at the UST at the time.
Joseph told him that something had happened and to just go to Room 310 which
CHITO did.
From Room 306 of the Celestial Marie Building , CHITO, wearing the prescribed
barong tagalog over dark pants and leather shoes, arrived at their Fraternity house
At Room 310, CHITO was told by Rommel Montes that somebody, whom MALOU
located at Dos Castillas, Sampaloc, Manila at about 7 oclock in the evening of
was not able to identify, went to the room of MALOU and tried to rape her (TSN, April
December 12, 1991. He was included in the entourage of some fifty (50) fraternity
25, 1994, p. 36). xxx.
members scheduled for a Christmas gathering at the house of their senior fraternity
brother, Dr. Jose Duran, at No. 3 John Street, North Greenhills, San Juan. xxx.
Joseph told him that the security guard was not letting anybody out of the Building .
When two (2) CIS men came to the unit asking for Renato Baleros, CHITO presented
The party was conducted at the garden beside [the] swimming pool . Soon after,
himself. Congressman Rodolfo B. Albano, father of MALOU, then asked him for the
the four (4) presidential nominees of the Fraternity, CHITO included, were being
key to Room 306.
dunked one by one into the pool. xxx.

xxx xxx xxx


The CIS men looked inside the bedroom and on the windows. Joseph was told to On the other hand, Perla Duran confirmed lending the petitioner the pair of short
dress up and the two (2) of them, CHITO and Joseph, were brought to Camp Crame. pants with stripes after the dunking party held in her fathers house. 8 Presented as
defense expert witness was Carmelita Vargas, a forensic chemistry instructor whose
When they arrived at Camp Crame , Col. Managuelod asked Joseph inside his actual demonstration in open court showed that chloroform, being volatile, evaporates
room and talked to him for 30 minutes. xxx. No one interviewed CHITO to ask his in thirty (30) seconds without tearing nor staining the cloth on which it is applied. 9
side.
On December 14, 1994, the trial court rendered its decision 10 convicting petitioner of
xxx xxx xxx attempted rape and accordingly sentencing him, thus:

Both CHITO and Joseph were taken to Prosecutor Abesamis who later instructed WHEREFORE, under cool reflection and prescinding from the foregoing, the Court
them to undergo physical examination at the Camp Crame Hospital .. At the finds the accused Renato D. Baleros, Jr., alias "Chito", guilty beyond reasonable
hospital, CHITO and Joseph were physically examined by a certain Dr. de doubt of the crime of attempted rape as principal and as charged in the information
Guzman who told them to strip . and hereby sentences him to suffer an imprisonment ranging from FOUR (4) YEARS,
TWO (2) MONTHS AND ONE (1) DAY of Prision Correctional, as Minimum to TEN
(10) YEARS of Prision Mayor as Maximum, with all the accessory penalties provided
xxx xxx xxx by law, and for the accused to pay the offended party Martina Lourdes T. Albano, the
sum of P50,000.00 by way of Moral and exemplary damages, plus reasonable
CHITO had left his gray bag containing, among others, the black striped short pants Attorneys fees of P30,000.00, without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency,
lent to him by Perla Duran (Exhibit "8-A", Original Records, p. 345), inside Room 310 and to pay the costs.
at more/less 6:30 to 7 oclock in the morning of December 13, 1991. The next time
that he saw it was between 8 to 9 P.M. when he and Joseph were brought before SO ORDERED.
Fiscal Abesamis for inquest. One of the CIS agents had taken it there and it was not
opened up in his presence but the contents of the bag were already laid out on the
table of Fiscal Abesamis who, however, made no effort to ask CHITO if the items Aggrieved, petitioner went to the CA whereat his appellate recourse was docketed as
thereat were his. CA-G.R. CR No. 17271.

The black Adidas short pants purportedly found in the bag, CHITO denied putting in As stated at the threshold hereof, the CA, in its assailed Decision dated January 13,
his gray bag which he had left at Room 306 in the early evening of December 12, 1999, affirmed the trial courts judgment of conviction, to wit:
1991 before going to the fraternity house. He likewise disavowed placing said black
Adidas short pants in his gray bag when he returned to the apartment at past 1:00 WHEREFORE, finding no basis in fact and in law to deviate from the findings of the
oclock in the early morning of December 13, 1991 (TSN, June 16, 1994, p. 24), nor court a quo, the decision appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED in toto. Costs against
when he dressed up at about 6 oclock in the morning to go to school and brought his appellant.
gray bag to Room 310 (Ibid. 25). In fact, at any time on December 13, 1991, he was
not aware that his gray bag ever contained any black short Adidas pants (Ibid). He SO ORDERED.11
only found out for the first time that the black Adidas short pants was alluded to be
among the items inside his gray bag late in the afternoon, when he was in Camp
Crame. Petitioner moved for reconsideration, but his motion was denied by the CA in its
equally assailed resolution of March 31, 1999. 12
Also taking the witness stand for the defense were petitioners fraternity brothers,
Alberto Leonardo and Robert Chan, who both testified being with CHITO in the Petitioner is now with this Court, on the contention that the CA erred -
December 12, 1991 party held in Dr. Durans place at Greenhills, riding on the same
car going to and coming from the party and dropping the petitioner off the Celestial 1. In not finding that it is improbable for petitioner to have committed the
Marie building after the party. Both were one in saying that CHITO was wearing a attempted rape imputed to him, absent sufficient, competent and convincing
barong tagalog, with t-shirt inside, with short pants and leather shoes at the time they evidence to prove the offense charged.
parted after the party.7 Rommel Montes, a tenant of Room 310 of the said building,
also testified seeing CHITO between the hours of 1:30 and 2:00 A.M. of December 2. In convicting petitioner of attempted rape on the basis merely of
13, 1991 trying to open the door of Room 306 while clad in dark short pants and white circumstantial evidence since the prosecution failed to satisfy all the
barong tagalog. requisites for conviction based thereon.
3. In not finding that the circumstances it relied on to convict the petitioner c) The combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce a
are unreliable, inconclusive and contradictory. conviction beyond reasonable doubt.

4. In not finding that proof of motive is miserably wanting in his case. In the present case, the positive identification of the petitioner forms part of
circumstantial evidence, which, when taken together with the other pieces of evidence
5. In awarding damages in favor of the complainant despite the fact that the constituting an unbroken chain, leads to only fair and reasonable conclusion, which is
award was improper and unjustified absent any evidence to prove the same. that petitioner was the intruder in question.

6. In failing to appreciate in his favor the constitutional presumption of We quote with approval the CAs finding of the circumstantial evidence that led to the
innocence and that moral certainty has not been met, hence, he should be identity of the petitioner as such intruder:
acquitted on the ground that the offense charged against him has not been
proved beyond reasonable doubt. Chito was in the Building when the attack on MALOU took place. He had access to
the room of MALOU as Room 307 where he slept the night over had a window which
Otherwise stated, the basic issue in this case turns on the question on whether or not allowed ingress and egress to Room 306 where MALOU stayed. Not only the Building
the CA erred in affirming the ruling of the RTC finding petitioner guilty beyond security guard, S/G Ferolin, but Joseph Bernard Africa as well confirmed that CHITO
reasonable doubt of the crime of attempted rape. was wearing a black "Adidas" shorts and fraternity T-shirt when he arrived at the
Building/Unit 307 at 1:30 in the morning of December 13, 1991. Though it was dark
during their struggle, MALOU had made out the feel of her intruders apparel to be
After a careful review of the facts and evidence on record in the light of applicable something made of cotton material on top and shorts that felt satin-smooth on the
jurisprudence, the Court is disposed to rule for petitioners acquittal, but not bottom.
necessarily because there is no direct evidence pointing to him as the intruder holding
a chemical-soaked cloth who pinned Malou down on the bed in the early morning of
December 13, 1991. From CHITOs bag which was found inside Room 310 at the very spot where witness
Renato Alagadan saw CHITO leave it, were discovered the most incriminating
evidence: the handkerchief stained with blue and wet with some kind of chemicals; a
Positive identification pertains essentially to proof of identity and not per se to that of black "Adidas" satin short pants; and a white fraternity T-shirt, also stained with blue.
being an eyewitness to the very act of commission of the crime. There are two types A different witness, this time, Christian Alcala, identified these garments as belonging
of positive identification. A witness may identify a suspect or accused as the offender to CHITO. As it turned out, laboratory examination on these items and on the
as an eyewitness to the very act of the commission of the crime. This constitutes beddings and clothes worn by MALOU during the incident revealed that the
direct evidence. There may, however, be instances where, although a witness may handkerchief and MALOUs night dress both contained chloroform, a volatile poison
not have actually witnessed the very act of commission of a crime, he may still be which causes first degree burn exactly like what MALOU sustained on that part of her
able to positively identify a suspect or accused as the perpetrator of a crime as when, face where the chemical-soaked cloth had been pressed.
for instance, the latter is the person or one of the persons last seen with the victim
immediately before and right after the commission of the crime. This is the second
type of positive identification, which forms part of circumstantial evidence. 13 In the This brings the Court to the issue on whether the evidence adduced by the
absence of direct evidence, the prosecution may resort to adducing circumstantial prosecution has established beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of the petitioner for
evidence to discharge its burden. Crimes are usually committed in secret and under the crime of attempted rape.
condition where concealment is highly probable. If direct evidence is insisted under all
circumstances, the prosecution of vicious felons who committed heinous crimes in The Solicitor General maintained that petitioner, by pressing on Malous face the
secret or secluded places will be hard, if not well-nigh impossible, to prove.14 piece of cloth soaked in chemical while holding her body tightly under the weight of
his own, had commenced the performance of an act indicative of an intent or attempt
Section 4 of Rule 133 of the Rules of Court provides the conditions when to rape the victim. It is argued that petitioners actuation thus described is an overt act
circumstantial evidence may be sufficient for conviction. The provision reads: contemplated under the law, for there can not be any other logical conclusion other
than that the petitioner intended to ravish Malou after he attempted to put her to an
induced sleep. The Solicitor General, echoing what the CA said, adds that if
Sec. 4. Circumstantial evidence, when sufficient Circumstantial evidence is petitioners intention was otherwise, he would not have lain on top of the victim.15
sufficient for conviction if
Under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, rape is committed by a man who has
a) There is more than one circumstance; carnal knowledge or intercourse with a woman under any of the following
circumstances: (1) By using force or intimidation; (2) When the woman is deprived of
b) The facts from which the inferences are derived are proven; and reason or otherwise unconscious; and (3) When the woman is under twelve years of
age or is demented. Under Article 6, in relation to the aforementioned article of the cannot substitute for proof required to establish the guilt of an accused beyond
same code, rape is attempted when the offender commences the commission of rape reasonable doubt.21
directly by overt acts and does not perform all the acts of execution which should
produce the crime of rape by reason of some cause or accident other than his own In Perez vs. Court of Appeals,22 the Court acquitted therein petitioner of the crime of
spontaneous desistance.16 attempted rape, pointing out that:

Expounding on the nature of an attempted felony, the Court, speaking thru Justice xxx. In the crime of rape, penetration is an essential act of execution to produce the
Claro M. Recto in People vs. Lamahang,17 stated that "the attempt which the Penal felony. Thus, for there to be an attempted rape, the accused must have commenced
Code punishes is that which has a logical connection to a particular, concrete offense; the act of penetrating his sexual organ to the vagina of the victim but for some cause
that which is the beginning of the execution of the offense by overt acts of the or accident other than his own spontaneous desistance, the penetration, however,
perpetrator, leading directly to its realization and consummation." Absent the slight, is not completed.
unavoidable connection, like the logical and natural relation of the cause and its
effect, as where the purpose of the offender in performing an act is not certain,
meaning the nature of the act in relation to its objective is ambiguous, then what xxx xxx xxx
obtains is an attempt to commit an indeterminate offense, which is not a juridical fact
from the standpoint of the Penal Code.18 Petitioners act of lying on top of the complainant, embracing and kissing her,
mashing her breasts, inserting his hand inside her panty and touching her sexual
There is absolutely no dispute about the absence of sexual intercourse or carnal organ, while admittedly obscene and detestable acts, do not constitute attempted
knowledge in the present case. The next question that thus comes to the fore is rape absent any showing that petitioner actually commenced to force his penis into
whether or not the act of the petitioner, i.e., the pressing of a chemical-soaked cloth the complainants sexual organ. xxx.
while on top of Malou, constitutes an overt act of rape.1avvphil.net
Likewise in People vs. Pancho,23 the Court held:
Overt or external act has been defined as some physical activity or deed, indicating
the intention to commit a particular crime, more than a mere planning or preparation, xxx, appellant was merely holding complainants feet when his Tito Onio arrived at the
which if carried out to its complete termination following its natural course, without alleged locus criminis. Thus, it would be stretching to the extreme our credulity if we
being frustrated by external obstacles nor by the voluntary desistance of the were to conclude that mere holding of the feet is attempted rape.
perpetrator, will logically and necessarily ripen into a concrete offense.19
Lest it be misunderstood, the Court is not saying that petitioner is innocent, under the
Harmonizing the above definition to the facts of this case, it would be too strained to premises, of any wrongdoing whatsoever. The information filed against petitioner
construe petitioner's act of pressing a chemical-soaked cloth in the mouth of Malou contained an allegation that he forcefully covered the face of Malou with a piece of
which would induce her to sleep as an overt act that will logically and necessarily cloth soaked in chemical. And during the trial, Malou testified about the pressing
ripen into rape. As it were, petitioner did not commence at all the performance of any against her face of the chemical-soaked cloth and having struggled after petitioner
act indicative of an intent or attempt to rape Malou. It cannot be overemphasized that held her tightly and pinned her down. Verily, while the series of acts committed by the
petitioner was fully clothed and that there was no attempt on his part to undress petitioner do not determine attempted rape, as earlier discussed, they constitute
Malou, let alone touch her private part. For what reason petitioner wanted the unjust vexation punishable as light coercion under the second paragraph of Article
complainant unconscious, if that was really his immediate intention, is anybodys 287 of the Revised Penal Code. In the context of the constitutional provision assuring
guess. The CA maintained that if the petitioner had no intention to rape, he would not an accused of a crime the right to be informed of the nature and cause of the
have lain on top of the complainant. Plodding on, the appellate court even anticipated accusation,24 it cannot be said that petitioner was kept in the dark of the inculpatory
the next step that the petitioner would have taken if the victim had been rendered acts for which he was proceeded against. To be sure, the information against
unconscious. Wrote the CA: petitioner contains sufficient details to enable him to make his defense. As aptly
observed by then Justice Ramon C. Aquino, there is no need to allege malice,
The shedding of the clothes, both of the attacker and his victim, will have to come restraint or compulsion in an information for unjust vexation. As it were, unjust
later. His sexual organ is not yet exposed because his intended victim is still vexation exists even without the element of restraint or compulsion for the reason that
struggling. Where the intended victim is an educated woman already mature in age, it this term is broad enough to include any human conduct which, although not
is very unlikely that a rapist would be in his naked glory before even starting his attack productive of some physical or material harm, would unjustly annoy or irritate an
on her. He has to make her lose her guard first, or as in this case, her innocent person.25 The paramount question is whether the offenders act causes
unconsciousness.20 annoyance, irritation, torment, distress or disturbance to the mind of the person to
whom it is directed.26 That Malou, after the incident in question, cried while relating to
her classmates what she perceived to be a sexual attack and the fact that she filed a
At bottom then, the appellate court indulges in plain speculation, a practice disfavored
under the rule on evidence in criminal cases. For, mere speculations and probabilities
case for attempted rape proved beyond cavil that she was disturbed, if not distressed
by the acts of petitioner.

The penalty for coercion falling under the second paragraph of Article 287 of the
Revised Penal Code is arresto menor or a fine ranging from P5.00 to P200.00 or
both.

WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals affirming that of the
Regional Trial Court of Manila, is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE and a new one
entered ACQUITTING petitioner Renato D. Baleros, Jr. of the charge for attempted
rape. Petitioner, however, is adjudged GUILTY of light coercion and is accordingly
sentenced to 30 days of arresto menor and to pay a fine of P200.00, with the
accessory penalties thereof and to pay the costs.

SO ORDERED.
SECOND DIVISION
as disbursement for a seminar for the two officials. The indicting information, docketed
LAURINIO GOMA and NATALIO UMALE, G.R. No. 168437
as Crim. Case No. SC-6712 and raffled to Branch 26 of the Sta. Cruz RTC, alleged as
Petitioners,
Present: follows:
- versus -
QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson, CARPIO
MORALES, That on or about September 24, 1995 in Barangay
THE COURT OF APPEALS, PEOPLE OF TINGA, Cabanban [sic], Pagsanjan, Laguna, Philippines and within the
THE PHILIPPINES, and SANGGUNIAN MEMBER VELASCO, JR., and jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused
MANUEL G. TORRALBA, BRION, JJ. LAURINIO GOMA and NATALIO A. UMALI, both public officials,
Respondents. being the Barangay Chairman and Barangay Secretary, respectively,
Promulgated: taking advantage of their official positions and committing the offense
in relation to their office, in connivance and conspiracy with each
January 8, 2009 other, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously falsify a
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x Resolution dated September 24, 1995, an official document, by
indicating therein that aforesaid Resolution was passed on motion of
Kagawad Renato Dizon, seconded by Kagawad Recaredo C. Dela
DECISION Cruz and unanimously approved by those present in the meeting
VELASCO, JR., J.: held on September 24, 1995 at 2:00 P.M., when in truth and in fact
no meeting was held as no quorum was mustered, to the damage
The Case and prejudice of public interest.

CONTRARY TO LAW.[4]
Appealed, via this Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45, is the

Decision[1] dated June 6, 2005 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 27963,
When arraigned, both Laurinio and Natalio, assisted by counsel, pleaded not
affirming the July 28, 2003 Decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 26 in
guilty to the above charge. Pre-trial and trial then ensued.
Santa Cruz, Laguna in Criminal Case No. SC-6712. The RTC convicted petitioners of
The prosecution presented the three complaining witnesses, [5] who testified
the crime of falsification of public document under Article 171 of the Revised Penal
that, for lack of quorum, no actual session of the sanggunian of Brgy. Cabanbanan took
Code (RPC).
place on September 24, 1995, the day the disputed resolution was allegedly

The Facts passed. On that day, according to the three, they went to the barangay health center

to attend a pre-scheduled session which, however, did not push through as, apart from

On the basis of the affidavit-complaint of Manuel Torralba and two other them, only one other member, i.e., Laurinio, came. But they later got wind of the

members of the Sangguniang Barangay of Brgy. Cabanbanan, Pagsanjan, Laguna, the existence of subject Resolution No. T-95 (Res. T-95) dated September 24, 1995, in

Office of the Ombudsman for Luzon filed with the RTC in Sta. Cruz, Laguna an which it was made to appear that all the sanggunian members attended the session of

Information for falsification of public document under Art. 171(2) of the RPC against September 24, 1995 and unanimously approved, upon motion of kagawad Renato

petitioners Laurinio Goma and Natalio Umale.[3] Specifically, the complaint alleged that Dizon, duly seconded by kagawad Ricaredo dela Cruz, the allocation of PhP 18,000 to

Laurinio and Natalio, as barangay chairperson and secretary, respectively, falsified defray the expenses of two officials who would attend a seminar in Zamboanga. On the

a barangay resolution dated September 24, 1995, allocating the amount of PhP 18,000 face of the resolution appears the signature of Natalio and Laurinio, in their respective
capacities as barangaysecretary and chairperson. It also bore the official seal of
The Ruling of the CA
the barangay.

From the RTC decision, Laurinio and Natalio appealed to the CA, their
On October 15, 1995, the sanggunian held a special session during which it
recourse docketed as CA-G.R. CR No. 27963, raising three issues, to wit: (a) whether
passed a resolution therein stating that no session was held on September 24, 1995.[6]
Res. T-95 is a public document; (b) whether they violated Art. 171(2) of the RPC; and

(c) whether the penalty imposed is proper. Answering all three issues in the affirmative,
In their defense, Natalio and Laurinio, while admitting having affixed their
the CA, by its Decision dated June 6, 2005, affirmed that of the trial court, disposing as
signatures on the adverted falsified resolution, alleged that said resolution was nothing
follows:
more than a mere proposal or a draft which Natalio, as was the practice, prepared and

signed a week before the scheduled September 24, 1995. They also alleged that the WHEREFORE, the 28 July 2003 Decision of Branch 26,
Regional Trial Court of Santa Cruz, Laguna finding accused-
same resolution was not the enabling instrument for the release of the seminar funds. appellants Laurinio Goma and Natalio A. Umali guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of falsification of public document
under Article 171(2) of the Revised Penal Code and sentencing them
The Ruling of the RTC to suffer the penalty of four (4) years and two (2) months of prision
correctional [sic], as minimum, to eight (8) years, and two (2) months
of prision mayor, as maximum, is AFFIRMED. Costs against
appellants.
After trial, the RTC rendered on July 28, 2003 judgment, finding both Laurinio
SO ORDERED.[9]
and Natalio guilty as charged and, accordingly, sentenced them, thus:

WHEREFORE, this Court finds both accused Laurinio


Goma and Natalio A. Umali guilty beyond reasonable doubt as Petitioners are now before this Court raising the very same issues they earlier
principals in the felony of falsification of public document punishable
under Section [sic] 171 of the Revised Penal Code and there being invoked before the CA, the first two of which may be reduced into the following
neither aggravating nor mitigating circumstance, hereby imposes
proposition:Whether Res. T-95 may be characterized as a public document to bring the
upon each of said accused the penalty of four (4) years and two (2)
months of prision correccional, as minimum, to eight (8) years, and case, and render petitioners liable on the basis of the evidence adduced, under Art.
two (2) months of prision mayor, as maximum.
171(2) of the RPC.
Costs against both accused.

SO ORDERED.[7] The Courts Ruling

The RTC found Res. T-95 to have all the appearance of a complete and true The petition is bereft of merit.
and genuine document, sealed and signed by the Sanggunian secretary.[8] And for

reasons set out in its decision, the trial court dismissed, as incredulous, the defenses As a preliminary consideration, petitioners, in this recourse, merely highlight
theory, and the arguments propping it, about the subject resolution being just a mere and discuss their defense that the subject resolution is a mere draft or proposed
proposal. resolution not acted upon by the sanggunian for lack of quorum on September 24,
1995, and that they never had any criminal intent when they signed such proposed At the outset, it must be emphasized that the Court usually defers to factual
resolution. They deny having affixed the barangay official seal on the subject findings of the trial court, more so when such findings receive a confirmatory nod from

resolution. the appellate court. We explained in one case:

The rule is that the findings of fact of the trial court, its
Subject Resolution a Public Document
calibration of the testimonies of the witnesses and its assessment of
the probative weight thereof, as well as its conclusions anchored on
said findings, are accorded high respect if not conclusive effect. This
Under Sec. 19(a) of Rule 132, Revised Rules on Evidence, public documents is more true if such findings were affirmed by the appellate
court. When the trial courts findings have been affirmed by the
include [t]he written official acts, or records of the official acts of the sovereign authority, appellate court, said findings are generally binding upon this
Court.[13]
official bodies and tribunals, and public officers, whether of the Philippines, or of a
foreign country. Verily, resolutions and ordinances of sanggunians, be they of
And this factual determination, as a matter of long and sound appellate
the sanggunian panlalawigan, panlungsod, bayan, or barangay, come within the pale
practice, deserves great weight and shall not be disturbed on appeal, except only for
of the above provision, such issuances being their written official acts in the exercise
the most convincing reasons,[14] such as when that determination is clearly without
of their legislative authority. As a matter of common practice, an action appropriating evidentiary support on record[15] or when the judgment is based on misapprehension
money for some public purpose or creating liability takes the form of an ordinance or of facts or overlooked certain relevant facts which, if properly considered, would justify
resolution. a different conclusion.[16] This is as it should be since it is not the function of the
Court under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court to evaluate and weigh all over again the
evidence presented or the premises supportive of the factual holdings of lower
Black defines a public document as a document of public interest issued or
courts.[17]
published by a political body or otherwise connected with public business. [10] The term The case disposition of the CA and the factual and logical premises holding it
is also described as a document in the execution of which a person in authority or together commend themselves for concurrence. Its inculpatory findings on the guilt of
notary public takes part.[11] There can be no denying that the public money-disbursing petitioners for falsification under Art. 171(2) of the RPC, confirmatory of those of the
trial court, are amply supported by the evidence on record, consisting mainly of the
and seemingly genuine Res. T-95, in the preparation of which petitioners, in their official
testimony of the complaining witnesses and a copy of the subject resolution.
capacity, had a hand, is, in context, a public document in a criminal prosecution for

falsification of public document. And it bears to stress that in falsification under Art.
Art. 171(2) of the RPC provides as follows:
171(2) of the RPC, it is not necessary that there be a genuine document; it is enough

that the document fabricated or simulated has the appearance of a true and genuine ART. 171. Falsification by public officer, employee; or
notary or ecclesiastical minister.The penalty of prision mayor and a
document or of apparent legal efficacy.[12] fine not to exceed 5,000 pesos shall be imposed upon any public
officer, employee, or notary who, taking advantage of his official
position, shall falsify a document by committing any of the following
Petitioners Guilty of Falsification acts:

xxxx
(2) Causing it to appear that persons have participated in
any act or proceeding when they did not in fact so participate. b) the opening paragraph unequivocally states that the
contents thereof were copied from the minutes of the ordinary
session of Sanggunian held on September 24, 1995 meeting,
at 2:00 oclock pm;
The elements of the crime of falsification of public documents, as above c) it announces all the names of the members of the
Sanggunian who attended the session during which said resolution
defined and penalized, are:
[was] passed;
d) it bears the resolution number, not the proposed
1. That the offender is a public officer, employee, or notary resolution number;
public. e) the title clearly states that the Sanggunian had already
approved the allocation of P18,000.00 for two (2) barangay officials
2. That he takes advantage of his official position. x x x;
f) it made mention that Kagawad Renato M. Dizon made the
3. That he falsifies a document by causing it to appear that motion, duly seconded by Kagawad [Ricaredo] C. de la Cruz, for the
persons have participated in any act or proceeding. passing of said resolution; and
g) accused Natalio A. Umali, in his official capacity as
4. That such person or persons did not in fact so participate Barangay Kalihim, certified said resolution as true and correct, and
in the proceeding.[18] accused Laurinio A. Goma, Punong Barangay, attested to the
truthfulness of said resolution.[20]

The first two elements clearly obtain, petitioners, during the period material,
Indeed, the contents and appearance of Res. T- 95 argue against the very
being local government elected officials who, by reason of their position, certified, as
idea of its being merely a proposal or a draft barangay enactment. Res ipsa loquitur. A
Natalio did, as to the holding of a barangay session and falsely attested, as Laurinio
draft resolution would not be numbered or be carrying certificatory and
did, as to the veracity of a resolution supposedly taken up therein. The other two
attestative signatures, let alone impressed with the dry seal of the barangay. It would
elements are likewise present. As correctly observed by the CA:
not also include such particulars as the attendance of all members of
x x x [Petitioners] made it appear in the Barangay resolution
the sanggunian and the identity of the moving and seconding kagawads relative to the
dated 24 September 1995 that all members of the Sangguniang
Barangay deliberated upon and unanimously approved the passage of the resolution, for such details are not certain; unless they have been
questioned resolution, when in fact no such deliberation and
approval occurred. The non-participation of the members of the rehearsed or planned beforehand. But the notion that a plan had been arranged by
Sangguniang Barangay in the passage of the resolution was
established by the 15 October 1995 resolution issued by 7 of the 8 the sanggunian as a body would be negated by subsequent development which saw
members of the Sangguniang Barangay denying that the challenged
the approval of a resolution dated October 15, 1995 duly signed by
resolution was passed upon and approved by the council.[19]
seven kagawads virtually trashing Res. T-95 as a falsity. The sequence of events

would readily show that petitioners falsified the subject resolution, but only to be
Petitioners bid to pass off the resolution in question as a mere proposal or a
exposed by private complainants.
draft cannot be accorded merit in the light of the manner they worded and made it
appear.Consider the following apt observations of the trial court:
Petitioners allegation that kagawad Torralba was the one who affixed the seal
Barangay Resolution No. T-95 does not appear to be a
proposed resolution in all aspects x x x or that he harbored ill-feelings towards them strikes this Court as a mere afterthought,

absent convincing evidence to support the imputation.


xxxx
Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the penalty imposable would be

Finally, petitioners urge their acquittal on the theory that they did not benefit that of a degree lower than the medium period of prision mayor as minimum, and the

from, or that the public was not prejudiced by, the resolution in question, it not having maximum is any period included in the medium period of prision mayor. The degree

been used to obtain the PhP 18,000 seminar funds. The argument holds no water. lower than the medium period of prision mayor is the medium period of prision

Falsification of a public document is consummated upon the execution of the false correccional which ranges from two (2) years, four (4) months, and one (1) day to four

document. And criminal intent is presumed upon the execution of the criminal (4) years and two (2) months.

act. Erring public officers failure to attain their objectives, if that really be the case, is The penalty of four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional, as

not determinative of their guilt or innocence. The simulation of a public document, done minimum, to eight (8) years and two (2) months of prision mayor, as maximum, thus

in a manner so as to give it the appearance of a true and genuine instrument, thus, imposed on petitioners is well within the authorized imposable range, and is, therefore,

leading others to errors as to its authenticity, constitutes the crime of falsification. [21] proper.

In fine, the element of gain or benefit on the part of the offender or prejudice
WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is DENIED for lack of merit. Accordingly,
to a third party as a result of the falsification, or tarnishing of a documents integrity, is
the appealed CA Decision dated June 6, 2005 in CA-G.R. CR No. 27963 is
not essential to maintain a charge for falsification of public documents.[22] What is
herebyAFFIRMED IN TOTO.
punished in falsification of public document is principally the undermining of the public

faith and the destruction of truth as solemnly proclaimed therein. In this particular crime, No pronouncement as to costs.

therefore, the controlling consideration lies in the public character of a document; and

the existence of any prejudice caused to third persons or, at least, the intent to cause SO ORDERED.

such damage becomes immaterial.[23]

Third Issue: Imposed Penalty Proper

Finally, the penalty imposed by the RTC, as affirmed by the CA, is proper. Art.
171 of the RPC provides for a single divisible penalty of prision mayor to public officers

or employees who, taking advantage of their official positions, shall cause it to appear

that persons have participated in any act or proceeding when they did not in fact

participate. And where neither aggravating nor mitigating circumstance attended the
execution of the offense, as here, the imposable penalty is, according to Art. 64 of the
RPC, that of the medium period provided. The medium period for prision mayor is from

eight (8) years and one (1) day to ten (10) years.
[G.R. No. 133472. December 5, 2000] position did not require her to be a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Commerce, she
did not bother to check whether she graduated from the course.
CONSOLACION A. LUMANCAS and YOLANDO O. URIARTE, petitioners,
vs. VIRGINIA B. INTAS, respondent. Lumancas also claimed that her Special Order was authentic considering that
even the copy attached to the complaint[9] was supposedly checked and verified
DECISION against the original and was in fact certified by Severina O. Villarin, Chief, Higher
Education Division, Region XI, Commission on Higher Education (CHED). Lumancas
admitted that there were mistakes in the entries made in her 1989 and 1993 PDS but
BELLOSILLO, J .: denied making any mistake in 1991. She averred that there was no malice nor intent
on her part to falsify the entries in her PDS and that she was just in a hurry to fill these
up.[10]
CONSOLACION A. LUMANCAS and YOLANDO O. URIARTE seek in this
petition for review the reversal of the Amended Resolution of the Office of the As regards petitioner Yolando O. Uriarte, the Office of the Ombudsman found that
Ombudsman dated 16 August 1996 finding them administratively liable for falsification, he and a certain Mario L. Julve[11] also acquired falsified Transcripts of Records and
dishonesty and grave misconduct, and consequently ordering their dismissal from the Special Orders from the IHU as the Bureau of Higher Education of DECS in Manila
service, as well as its Order dated 12 February 1998 denying their Motions for through Director III Diosdada C. Boiser denied that her Office issued Special Orders to
Reconsideration. them.[12] Petitioners Lumancas and Uriarte, together with Mario L. Julve, had since
been promoted one (1) rank higher on the bases of the questioned documents
Petitioners were regular employees of the Philippine Postal Corporation in presented as part of their credentials.[13]
Tandag, Surigao del Sur. They were charged by their co-employee Virginia B. Intas,
respondent herein, for making false entries in their respective Personal Data Sheets On her part, Yolando O. Uriarte asserted that he finished his Bachelor of Science
(PDS, [CSC Form 212]) regarding their educational attainment, resulting in their in Commerce, Major in Management, at the IHU in 1968 [14] and that his Transcript of
promotion to higher positions to the prejudice of other postal employees who had been Records and Special Order were issued on the basis of his completion of the academic
in the service for a longer period. requirements for the course. He also claimed that his Transcript of Records and Special
Order No. (B) 5-0035 were authentic as these were checked and verified by the same
As found by the Office of the Ombudsman,[1] Consolacion A. Lumancas' original Severina O. Villarin of CHED. He also insisted that his promotion was based on his
appointment as mail sorter with the Bureau of Posts showed that her highest qualifications considering that he was with the postal service since 1975 without any
educational attainment was Fourth Year Pharmacy.[2] Her official Transcript of Records derogatory record and was even cited several times for his outstanding performance.[15]
from the International Harvardian University (IHU), Davao City, showed that she took
up Bachelor of Science in Commerce (BSC), Major in Management, from 1974 to 1978 On 31 July 1995, in reply to a query from the Office of the Ombudsman dated 11
when she graduated and was issued Special Order No. 5-276 dated 6 November July 1995, Severina O. Villarin informed the Office[16] that she had conducted an
1978. Lumancas' answers however in her three (3) PDS accomplished in 1989, 1991 investigation and discovered that the clerk who prepared Uriartes certifications relied
and 1993 were inconsistent. In her PDS accomplished in 1989[3] Lumancas stated that only on photocopies of the Special Orders purportedly issued to the IHU by the Bureau
she finished Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy[4] from 1970 to 1975 at the Centro of Higher Education, Manila, in favor of Uriarte. However, the Bureau denied having
Escolar University. In her PDS accomplished in 1991[5] she stated that she obtained issued the Special Orders, thus she herself had ordered the cancellation of the
her BS Pharmacy at the Centro Escolar University in 1974 and had her post graduate certifications for being spurious.[17]
studies at the IHU in 1978.[6] In her PDS accomplished in 1993[7] Lumancas stated that As regards the case of Lumancas, the IHU was requested to submit her academic
she graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Science in Commerce, Major in records; consequently, several records were submitted but the original of the Special
Management, at the IHU from 1970-1974 inclusive.[8] In filling up her PDS for 1989 Order was not among them. Villarin further declared that Lumancas name could not be
however she stated that she studied at the Centro Escolar University from 1970 to found in the IHU enrollment list filed with their office from school years 1974-75 to 1978-
1975. When requested to submit the academic records of herein petitioner Consolacion 79, meaning, that she had not enrolled during those terms. [18]
A. Lumancas, the IHU submitted several records but the original of her Special Order
was not among them. According to Severina O. Villarin, Chief, Higher Education Petitioners Lumancas and Uriarte moved for a formal hearing but the Office of the
Division, Region XI, Lumancas' name could not be found in the IHU enrollment list filed Ombudsman denied their motion on the ground that it was apparently intended merely
with her office (Higher Education Division), Region XI, from school years 1974-75 to to delay the proceedings.[19] It noted that the motion praying for a formal hearing was
1978-79, meaning, that she had not enrolled with the school during those terms. filed only on 3 July 1996, or more than nine (9) months after the parties failed to appear
for the preliminary conference on 18 September 1995, [20] and after they failed to submit
When directed to answer, Lumancas denied the allegations. She averred that their memorandum despite an order[21] dated 6 October 1995 from the Office of the
while it was true that in her 3 February 1989 appointment she indicated that her highest Ombudsman granting their motion for extension of time to submit their
educational attainment was Fourth Year Pharmacy, despite her allegedly having memorandum.[22]
finished Bachelor of Science in Commerce in 1978 at the IHU, this was because at that
time she had not yet received her Transcript of Records and Special Order from the After evaluating the evidence, the Office of the Ombudsman issued the Amended
IHU, so that she was not sure whether she had passed all her subjects. Since her Resolution of 16 August 1996,[23] released 17 January 1997, finding Lumancas and
Uriarte guilty as charged and dismissed them from the service without prejudice to their original paper or the DECS microfilm wherein Uriartes name was allegedly missing, nor
right to appeal as provided under Sec. 27, RA 6770.[24] presented evidence that such request had been favorably acted upon by the DECS.
On 6 February 1997 and 7 February 1997 respondents Lumancas and Uriarte, It may also be noted that on 20 November 1981 [31] Geronilla issued another
now herein petitioners, filed their respective motions for reconsideration insisting on a certification in favor of Uriarte certifying that he had "completed all the requirements for
formal hearing, which the Office of the Ombudsman finally granted. Thereafter, the degree of Bachelor of Science in Commerce (BSC), Major in Management, as of
hearings were held on 14-17 April 1997[25] after which the Office of the Ombudsman March 1979. This is to certify further that his application for graduation has been
conclusively held that despite the burning of the records of the DECS Regional Office forwarded to the DECS Regional Office for the issuance of his Special
XI in 1991, other records at the DECS-CHED did not show that Lumancas and Uriarte Order."[32] However, Uriartes Special Order which was allegedly issued by the DECS is
had been enrolled at the IHU during the years they allegedly took their respective dated 8 January 1969. If Uriarte had actually graduated in 1968, what was the purpose
courses as stated in their respective PDS.[26] of this 1981 certification? On the other hand, if Uriarte actually completed all the
requirements for graduation only in March 1979, then why was he issued a Special
On 12 February 1998 Lumancas and Uriartes Motions for Reconsideration were Order which antedated the day when he became qualified to be a graduate of the
denied by the Office of the Ombudsman; hence, this petition for review. school?
Section 27 of RA 6770[27] provides in part that "(f)indings of fact by the Office of Quite obviously, neither Lumancas nor Uriarte is a graduate of a four (4)-year
the Ombudsman when supported by substantial evidence are conclusive." According course and thus is not qualified to be promoted to a higher position. The use of false
to the Office of the Ombudsman-Mindanao, the evidence sustains the conclusion that documents attesting that they are college graduates when in truth and in fact they are
Lumancas and Uriarte are not college graduates, and that their contention that the not, makes them administratively liable for dishonesty through the use of falsified
Special Orders issued in their favor are authentic, banking on the certification issued documents.
by Severina O. Villarin, Chief, BHE, Regional Office XI, is without merit. In fact, upon
verification by the same office from the Bureau of Higher Education, Manila, the same The elements of "use of falsified documents," which is a crime under Art. 172 of
BHE Regional Office XI, through Villarin herself, cancelled the certification it previously the Revised Penal Code, are: (a) That the offender knew that a document was falsified
issued and notified this Office that the Special Orders issued in favor of Uriarte and by another person; (b) That the false document is embraced in Art. 171 or in any of
Julve were spurious.[28] subdivisions 1 or 2 of Art. 172; (c) That he used such document (not in judicial
proceedings); and, (d) That the use of the false document caused damage to another
An examination of the records of the DECS, as verified by CHED officers during or at least it was used with intent to cause such damage. The fact that they used the
the hearings, particularly Form 19,[29] failed to disclose that petitioners names were false certifications in support of this promotion resulted in prejudice to other applicants
among the list of students enrolled in the IHU during their alleged period of study. In genuinely qualified for the position. In this connection, we refer to the Courts
the case of Uriarte, although his Transcript of Records reflects that he was enrolled in observation in Diaz v. People[33]
the second semester of 1964-65 and the summer thereafter, and received grades for
subjects taken during those terms, his name was not included in the list of students
submitted by the IHU to DECS. The same is true with Lumancas, whose name could As correctly observed by the trial court, 'It is also quite significant to note in this score
not be found among the DECS records for the first and second semesters of that the accused in his defense failed to present any corroborating piece of evidence
schoolyears 1976-78 although her Transcript of Records shows that she was enrolled which will show that he was indeed enrolled in the Philippine Harvardian Colleges x x
for that period and in fact received grades for subjects taken during those semesters. x x If he had enrolled as a student during this period of time and he was positive that
the transcript of records issued to him and in his possession is genuine and valid, it
Laura Geronilla, Assistant Registrar of the IHU, claimed that the omissions were could have been easy for him to introduce corroborating evidence, i.e., the testimony
unavoidable in the preparation of Form 19 by hand. But this testimony alone cannot of any of his classmates or teachers in the different subjects that he took to support
overturn the fact that there exists no records at the DECS of Lumancas' or Uriartes his claim that he studied and passed these collegiate courses at the said school. But
enrollment at the IHU. Strangely, the omission did not happen just once, but repeated this he failed to do despite all the opportunities open to him and in the face of
many times over involving several semesters and to students enrolled in different damning evidence all showing that he had not really enrolled in this school x x x x'[34]
school years. Hence, there can only be one conclusion - that petitioners were never
reported to DECS as students of the IHU because indeed they were never enrolled Finally, petitioners act of falsifying their Personal Data Sheets (PDS) to reflect that
thereat. they are graduates of BSC, Major in Management, from the IHU when in truth and in
In her certification dated 14 September 1994[30] Laura Geronilla stated that fact they are not, is a ground for disciplinary action. Lumancas made different and
according to available academic records, Yolando O. Uriarte was indeed a graduate of inconsistent entries in her 1989, 1991 and 1993 PDS. Likewise, Uriarte made
the IHU the school year 1967-68 with the degree of Bachelor of Science in Commerce conflicting entries in his PDS of February 1987 [35] and March 1990.[36] As responsible
(BSC), Major in Management, and that his Form 19 "had already been resubmitted to public servants who are due for promotion, petitioners are expected to be noble
DECSRO XI for the issuance of a corrective Special Order due to the accidental exemplars and should be models of good morals. Their repeated acts of dishonesty
omission/exclusion of his name in the DECS microfilm files despite its vivid inclusion in are repugnant to the established code of conduct and ethical standards required of
the original paper copy submitted." Petitioners however failed to submit a copy of such public officials and employees.[37]
As regular members of the career service, they are bound by the Civil Service
Law and Rules. Chapter 7, Sec. 46, Book V, of EO 292[38] provides "x x x x b) The
following shall be grounds for disciplinary action: (1) Dishonesty x x x
x (2) Misconduct x x x x (13) Falsification of official document x x x x" It should be
emphasized that this is an administrative case, not a criminal case; thus, petitioners
argument that they were not charged with the proper offense under the Revised Penal
Code is unimportant. Any of the above charges may be cited as grounds to subject
them to disciplinary action.
All the elements of falsification through the making of untruthful statements in a
narration of facts are present: (a) That the offender makes in a document statements
in a narration of facts; (b) That he has a legal obligation to disclose the truth of the facts
narrated by him; (c) That the facts narrated by the offender are absolutely false; and,
(d) That the perversion of truth in the narration of facts was made with the wrongful
intent of injuring a third person. In People v. Po Giok To[39] the Court held that "in the
falsification of public or official documents, whether by public officials or by private
persons, it is unnecessary that there be present the idea of gain or the intent to injure
a third person, for the reason that, in contradistinction to private documents, the
principal thing punished is the violation of the public faith and the destruction of the
truth as therein solemnly proclaimed." Hence, the last requisite need not be
present.Also, petitioners themselves have affirmed in their petition that their Personal
Data Sheets were not sworn to before any administering officer [40] thereby taking their
case away from the confines of perjury. Nonetheless, they argue that they have no
legal obligation to disclose the truth in their PDS since these are not official
documents. We disagree. In Inting v. Tanodbayan[41] the Court held that "the
accomplishment of the Personal Data Sheet being a requirement under the Civil
Service Rules and Regulations in connection with employment in the government, the
making of an untruthful statement therein was, therefore, intimately connected with
such employment x x x x"[42] The filing of a Personal Data Sheet is required in
connection with the promotion to a higher position and contenders for promotion have
the legal obligation to disclose the truth. Otherwise, enhancing their qualifications by
means of false statements will prejudice other qualified aspirants to the same position.
The Court notes that it is not uncommon for employees to do everything in their
power to better their lot in order to survive the nations worsening economic
crisis. However, let this case serve as a stern warning to all who may be tempted to do
the same that dishonesty and disrespect for the law, however motivated, will never be
countenanced by this Court.
WHEREFORE, the petition is dismissed for lack of merit and the Amended
Resolution of the Office of the Ombudsman dated 16 August 1996 dismissing
petitioners Consolation A. Lumancas and Yolando O. Uriarte from the service, as well
as its Order dated 12 February 1998 denying reconsideration, is AFFIRMED. Costs
against petitioners.
SO ORDERED.
Mendoza, Quisumbing, Buena and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.
[G.R. No. 141931. December 4, 2000] XIV and Series of 1979 of the Registry of Notary Public Dominador S. Reyes, when in truth and
ANICETO RECEBIDO, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent. in fact accused well knew, that Caridad Dorol did not execute said document, to the damage and
prejudice of the latter.

RESOLUTION
Contrary to law.[2]

KAPUNAN, J.: Upon arraignment, petitioner pleaded not guilty.

This is a petition for review on certiorari assailing the Decision of the Court of Appeals in As narrated by the Court of Appeals, the petitioner contends that the land in question was
C.A.-G.R. CR No. 21347 entitled People of the Philippines versus Aniceto Recebido, dated mortgaged to him by Juan Dorol, the father of Caridad, on February 25, 1977 and was
September 9, 1999 which found petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Falsification of Public subsequently sold to him on August 13, 1983 although it was made to appear that the deed of
Document; and its Resolution dated February 15, 2000 denying petitioners motion for sale was executed on August 13, 1979. It was also on the said date that Recebido gave Caridad
reconsideration. the amount of P1,000.00 in addition to the P2,600.00 mortgage price given to Juan Dorol which
culminated into the execution of the Deed of Sale signed by Caridad.[3]
The antecedent facts are the following, to wit:
After trial on the merits, the trial court rendered the decision on December 2, 1996,
convicting petitioner of the crime charged and sentencing him as follows:
On September 9, 1990, private complainant Caridad Dorol went to the house of her cousin,
petitioner Aniceto Recebido, at San Isidro, Bacon, Sorsogon to redeem her property, an
agricultural land with an area of 3,520 square meters located at San Isidro, Bacon, Sorsogon, ACCORDINGLY, accused ANECITO RECEBIDO is sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of
which Caridad Dorol mortgaged to petitioner sometime in April of 1985. Petitioner and Caridad one (1) year to three (3) years and six (6) months of prision correccional as maximum and to pay
Dorol did not execute a document on the mortgage but Caridad Dorol instead gave petitioner a a fine of Three Thousand (P3,000.00) Pesos, with subsidiary imprisonment.
copy of the Deed of Sale dated June 16, 1973 (Exhibit A) executed in her favor by her father,
Juan Dorol. Accused is ordered to pay P5,000.00 damages and to vacate the land in question owned by the
offended party.
In said confrontation, petitioner refused to allow Caridad Dorol to redeem her property on his
claim that she had sold her property to him in 1979. Caridad Dorol maintained and insisted that SO ORDERED.[4]
the transaction between them involving her property was a mortgage.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed with modification the decision of the trial court, the
Caridad Dorol verified from the Office of the Assessor in Sorsogon that there exists on its file a dispositive portion of which reads:
Deed of Sale dated August 13, 1979 (Exhibit J), allegedly executed by Caridad Dorol in favor of
petitioner and that the property was registered in the latters name. After comparison of the
specimen signatures of Caridad Dorol in other documents (Exhibits K to K-10) with that of the WHEREFORE, with the modification that the award for damages is DELETED, the assailed
signature of Caridad Dorol on the questioned Deed of Sale, NBI Document Examiner Antonio judgment is AFFIRMED in all other respects.
Magbojas, found that the latter signature was falsified (Exhibits L-1 to L-2).
SO ORDERED.[5]
Thereafter, Caridad Dorol filed her complaint against petitioner Aniceto Recebido with
the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Legaspi City and its Questioned Documents Division The petitioner raises his case before this Court seeking the reversal of the assailed decision
conducted an examination in the original copy of the Deed of Sale in question allegedly signed and resolution of the Court of Appeals. Based on his petition, the following issues are before this
by Caridad, particularly her signature affixed thereon. Court:

Mr. Magbojas report was approved by the Chief of the Questioned Documents Division, Arcadio 1. Whether or not the crime charged had already prescribed at the time the information
Ramos, and the Deputy Director of Technical Services, Manuel Roura, both of the NBI. [1] was filed?

2. Whether or not the Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion in


Thus, the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Sorsogon filed the information indicting petitioner sustaining the conviction of the petitioner?
for Falsification of Public Document with the Regional Trial Court, 5th Judicial Region, Branch 51,
Sorsogon, Sorsogon, reading as follows: 3. Whether or not the Court of Appeals committed grievous error in affirming the
decision of the trial court for the petitioner to vacate the land in question owned
by the offended party?
That on or about the 13th day of August, 1979, in the Municipality of Sorsogon, Province of
Sorsogon, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named We rule in the negative on the three issues.
accused, being a private individual, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with
intent to defraud, falsify and/or imitate the signature of one Caridad Dorol and/or cause it to On the first issue: While the defense of prescription of the crime was raised only during the
appear that said Caridad Dorol has signed her name on a Deed of Absolute Sale of Real motion for reconsideration of the decision of the Court of Appeals, there was no waiver of the
Property in favor of the herein accused and Notarized as Doc. No. 680; page No. 54; Boon No. defense. Under the Rules of Court, the failure of the accused to assert the ground of extinction of
the offense, inter alia, in a motion to quash shall not be deemed a waiver of such ground. [6]The On the third issue: Petitioner submits that the trial court is without jurisdiction to order
reason is that by prescription, the State or the People loses the right to prosecute the crime or to petitioner to vacate the land in question considering that the crime for which he is charged is
demand the service of the penalty imposed.[7] Accordingly, prescription, although not invoked in falsification.[16] The petitioner insists that the civil aspect involved in the criminal case at bar refer
the trial, may, as in this case, be invoked on appeal.[8] Hence, the failure to raise this defense in to the civil damages recoverable ex delito or arising from the causative act or omission.[17]In
the motion to quash the information does not give rise to the waiver of the petitioner-accused to addition, petitioner argues that he is entitled to possession as mortgagee since the private
raise the same anytime thereafter including during appeal. complainant has not properly redeemed the property in question.

Nonetheless, we hold that the crime charged has not prescribed. The petitioner is correct in These are specious arguments. The petitioner based his claim of possession alternatively
stating that whether or not the offense charged has already prescribed when the information was by virtue of two alternative titles: one, based on the forged deed of sale and, two, as mortgagee
filed would depend on the penalty imposable therefor, which in this case is prision correccional in of the land. As already discussed, the deed of sale was forged and, hence, could not be a valid
its medium and maximum periods and a fine of not more than 5,000.00 pesos. [9]Under the Revised basis of possession. Neither could his status as mortgagee be the basis of possession since it is
Penal Code,[10] said penalty is a correctional penalty in the same way that the fine imposed is the mortgagor in a contract of mortgage who is entitled to the possession of the property. We have
categorized as correctional. Both the penalty and fine being correctional, the offense shall taken note of the practice in the provinces that in giving a realty for a collateral, possession usually
prescribe in ten years.[11] The issue that the petitioner has missed, however, is the reckoning point goes with it.[18] Besides, even assuming that petitioner had a right to possess the subject land, his
of the prescriptive period. The petitioner is of the impression that the ten-year prescriptive period possession became unlawful when the private complainant offered to redeem the property and
necessarily started at the time the crime was committed. This is inaccurate. Under Article 91 of petitioner unjustly refused. Petitioner cannot profit from the effects of his crime. The trial court,
the Revised Penal Code, the period of prescription shall commence to run from the day on which therefore, did not commit any error in ordering petitioner to vacate the subject property.
the crime is discovered by the offended party, the authorities, or their agents, x x x. In People v.
Reyes,[12] this Court has declared that registration in public registry is a notice to the whole In view of the foregoing, this Court finds that the Court of Appeals did not commit any
world. The record is constructive notice of its contents as well as all interests, legal and equitable, reversible error in its Decision dated September 9, 1999 and its Resolution dated February 15,
included therein. All persons are charged with knowledge of what it contains. 2000.

The prosecution has established that private complainant Dorol did not sell the subject land ACCORDINGLY, the instant petition is DENIED for lack of merit.
to the petitioner-accused at anytime and that sometime in 1983 the private complainant mortgaged
SO ORDERED.
the agricultural land to petitioner Recebido. It was only on September 9, 1990, when she went to
petitioner to redeem the land that she came to know of the falsification committed by the Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Puno, Pardo, and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.
petitioner. On the other hand, petitioner contends that the land in question was mortgaged to him
by Juan Dorol, the father of private complainant, and was subsequently sold to him on August 13,
1983. This Court notes that the private offended party had no actual knowledge of the falsification
prior to September 9, 1990. Meanwhile, assuming arguendothat the version of the petitioner is
believable, the alleged sale could not have been registered before 1983, the year the alleged deed
of sale was executed by the private complainant.Considering the foregoing, it is logical and in
consonance with human experience to infer that the crime committed was not discovered, nor
could have been discovered, by the offended party before 1983. Neither could constructive notice
by registration of the forged deed of sale, which is favorable to the petitioner since the running of
the prescriptive period of the crime shall have to be reckoned earlier, have been done before 1983
as it is impossible for the petitioner to have registered the deed of sale prior thereto. Even
granting arguendo that the deed of sale was executed by the private complainant, delivered to the
petitioner-accused in August 13, 1983 and registered on the same day, the ten-year prescriptive
period of the crime had not yet elapsed at the time the information was filed in 1991. The inevitable
conclusion, therefore, is that the crime had not prescribed at the time of the filing of the information.

On the second issue: We hold that the Court of Appeals did not commit any grave abuse of
discretion when it affirmed petitioners conviction by the trial court. The petitioner admits that the
deed of sale that was in his possession is a forged document as found by the trial and appellate
court.[13] Petitioner, nonetheless, argues that notwithstanding this admission, the fact remains that
there is no proof that the petitioner authored such falsification or that the forgery was done under
his direction. This argument is without merit. Under the circumstance, there was no need of any
direct proof that the petitioner was the author of the forgery. As keenly observed by the Solicitor
General, the questioned document was submitted by petitioner himself when the same was
requested by the NBI for examination. Clearly in possession of the falsified deed of sale was
petitioner and not Caridad Dorol who merely verified the questioned sale with the Provincial
Assessors Office of Sorsogon.[14] In other words, the petitioner was in possession of the forged
deed of sale which purports to sell the subject land from the private complainant to him. Given this
factual backdrop, the petitioner is presumed to be the author of the forged deed of sale, despite
the absence of any direct evidence of his authorship of the forgery. Since the petitioner is the only
person who stood to benefit by the falsification of the document found in his possession, it is
presumed that he is the material author of the falsification.[15] As it stands, therefore, we are unable
to discern any grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Court of Appeals.
[G.R. No. 142011. March 14, 2003] Name Date of Birth Place of Birth Residence

ALFONSO C. CHOA, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and LENI ALBRYAN July 19, 1981 Bacolod City 46 Malaspina St.,
CHOA, respondents.
ONG CHOA Bacolod City
DECISION
CHERYL May 5, 1983 Bacolod City 46 Malaspina St.,
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:
LYNNE ONG Bacolod City
Alfonso Chan Choa, petitioner, is a Chinese national. On April 25, 1989, he filed
with the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 41, Bacolod City, a verified petition for CHOA
naturalization,[1]docketed as Special Proceeding No. 5395.
xxxxxxxxx
During the initial hearing of the case on August 27, 1990, petitioner testified on
direct examination but he was not able to finish the same. On August 29, 1990, he filed
a motion to withdraw his petition for naturalization.[2] The trial court granted the motion 10) I am of good moral character, I believe in the principles underlying the Philippine
in its Resolution dated September 28, 1990,[3] which partly reads: Constitution. I have conducted myself in a proper and irreproachable manner during
the entire period of my residence in the Philippines in my relations with the constituted
government as well as with the community in which I am living.
The petitioner, Alfonso Chan Choa, has not yet finished testifying on direct-
examination. Although the petitioner has not stated in his said Motion To Withdraw
Petition the reason why he is withdrawing his petition at this stage of the proceedings, xxxxxxxxx
the petitioner can not be compelled to continue with his petition for naturalization.
when in truth and in fact, said accused knew that his wife Leni Ong Choa and their
In view thereof, the petitioner, Alfonso Chan Choa, is allowed to withdraw his petition two (2) children were not then residing at said address at # 46 Malaspina Street,
for naturalization. Villamonte, Bacolod City, having left the aforesaid residence in 1984, or about five (5)
years earlier and were then residing at Hervias Subdivision, Bacolod City; that
contrary to his aforesaid allegation in his verified Petition for Naturalization, accused,
SO ORDERED. while residing at 211 106 Street, Greenplains Subdivision, Bacolod City, has been
carrying on an immoral and illicit relationship with one Stella Flores Saludar, a woman
Meanwhile, on August 5, 1992, State Prosecutor Pedro D. Delfin on detail at not his wife since 1984, and begetting two (2) children with her as a consequence, as
Bacolod City, acting upon the complaint of petitioners wife, Leni, filed an he and his wife, the private offended party herein, have long been separated from bed
Information[4] with the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC), Branch 3, Bacolod City, and board since 1984; which falsehoods and/or immoral and improper conduct are
charging petitioner with perjury under Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code, docketed grounds for disqualification to become a citizen of the Philippines.
as Criminal Case No. 50322. The Information reads:
Act contrary to law.
That on or about 30th day of March, 1989, in the City of Bacolod, Philippines, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the herein accused did then and there, Upon arraignment, petitioner entered a plea of not guilty. Trial ensued thereafter.
willfully, unlawfully, feloniously and knowingly made untruthful statements or
falsehoods upon material matters required by the Revised Naturalization Law (C.A. After trial, the MTCC rendered a Decision[6] dated February 21, 1995 finding
No. 473) in his verified Petition for Naturalization dated April 13, 1989 petitioner guilty of perjury, as charged, thus:
(sic),[5]subscribed and sworn to before Notary Public Felomino B. Tan, Jr., who is
authorized to administer oath, which petition bears Doc. No. 140, Page No. 29, Book FOR ALL THE FOREGOING, this Court finds the accused guilty beyond reasonable
No. XXIII, series of 1989, in the Notarial Register of said Notary Public, by stating doubt of the offense which he is presently charged, and there being no aggravating or
therein the following, to wit: mitigating circumstances that may be considered, the accused is sentenced to suffer
the penalty of six (6) months and one (1) day of prision correccional and to pay the
5.) I am married to a Filipino. My wifes name is Leni Ong Choa and now resides at 46 costs.
Malaspina Street, Bacolod City. I have two (2) children whose names, dates and
places of birth, and residence are as follows:
Petitioner filed a motion for a reconsideration, [7] contending, among others, that That the accused made a willful and deliberate assertion of falsehood could be
there is no basis to convict him of perjury because almost two years prior to the filing gleaned from the discrepancies in his given addresses. In his petition for
of the Information, his motion to withdraw the petition for naturalization containing the naturalization he gave No. 46 Malaspina Street, Villamonte, Bacolod City as his and
alleged false statements was granted by the MTCC, hence, the alleged false his wifes residence, while in the birth certificates and the affidavit of admission of
statements were no longer existing or hadbecome functus officio. paternity of both Fonsella Kae Saludar and Steve Albert Saludar, he gave No. 211,
106 Street, Greenplains Subdivision, Bacolod City as his address besides from the
The MTCC, in its Order[8] dated March 31, 1995, denied petitioners motion for fact that while may have been residing in the above-stated addresses, his wife and
reconsideration. children have been staying at Hervias Subdivision, Bacolod City since the latter part
On appeal, the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 54, Bacolod City, in a Decision of 1984. Furthermore, cohabiting openly with another woman not his wife and siring
dated September 12, 1996, affirmed the MTCC judgment. [9] (2) children with the same, in open defiance with the norm of morality of the
community where monogamy is the accepted practice, is very inconsistent with his
Petitioner then filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for review, docketed as allegations of a moral life, proper and irreproachable, considering that the accused,
CA-G.R. CR No. 19968. In his comment, the Solicitor General recommended the by his own admission is a graduate of the University of St. La Salle, a school known
acquittal of petitioner, contending that the withdrawal of his petition for naturalization for its high academic and moral standards. These assertions are not only willful and
rendered the same functus officio, thus making the questioned false statements deliberate but a perversion of truth which the law is mandated to punish.
inexistent.
Section 7 of C.A. 473 provides:
The Court of Appeals, in its Decision dated June 8, 1999, [10] affirmed the RTC
Decision with modification, thus:
Any person desiring to acquire Philippine citizenship shall file with the competent
WHEREFORE, finding the appealed decision of the Regional Trial Court to be in Court, a petition in triplicate, accompanied by two (2) photographs of the petitioner,
accordance with law and evidence, we AFFIRM the same with the modification that setting forth his name and surname; his present and former residence, his
petitioner-accused-appellant Alfonso Choa is sentenced to suffer imprisonment, after occupation; the place and date of his birth, whether single or married, the name, age,
applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law without any aggravating or mitigating birthplace and residence of the wife and each of the childrenx x x. (underscoring
supplied)
circumstance, for a period of three (3) months of arresto mayor, to one (1) year and
eight (8) months of prision correccional.
The above-cited provisions are the pertinent law which specifically requires any
SO ORDERED. person desiring to acquire Philippine citizenship to accomplish, thus complying with
the fourth element of the crime of perjury. (pp. 119-120, Original Records, Vol. II)[11]

In convicting petitioner, the Appellate Court adopted as its own the RTCs findings
as follows: Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but it was denied by the Court of
Appeals in a Resolution dated February 22, 2000.[12]

Evidence presented clearly proved that all the above-enumerated elements (of Hence, the present petition for review on certiorari.[13]
perjury) have been duly executed by the accused. His allegations in his petition
regarding his, his wifes and childrens residences and his positive averment of the fact Both the petitioner and the Solicitor General in their respective pleadings contend
that he is of good moral character and had conducted himself in an irreproachable that the challenged Decision of the Court of Appeals should be reversed because: (a)
manner during his stay in the Philippines are material matters in connection with his not all the elements of the crime of perjury are present; and (b) the withdrawal of the
petition for naturalization as they are essential facts required by Sec. 7 of C.A. No. petition for naturalization which contains the alleged untruthful
473 for one to fulfill for the acquisition of Philippine citizenship. They are the very statements bars the prosecution of petitioner forperjury.
facts which would be the subject of inquiry by the court hearing the Thus, the issue here is whether petitioner may be convicted of perjury based on
petition and the same would be the basis of the courts ruling whether one is the alleged false statements he stated in his petition for naturalization withdrawn almost
qualified and granted Philippine citizenship. two years prior to the filing of the Information for perjury.

Paragraph 2 of Art. 183 of the Revised Penal Code provides that the statement or The petition is unmeritorious.
affidavit is to be made before a competent officer, authorized to receive and Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code under which petitioner has been charged
administer oath. The information shows that the statement was duly subscribed and and convicted, provides:
sworn to before Notary Public Felomino B. Tan, Jr., a person competent and
authorized by law to receive and administer oath and the same was entered in his
notary register as Doc. No. 140, Page No. 29, Book No. XXIII, Series of 1989. Art. 183. False testimony in other cases and perjury in solemn affirmation. The
penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum
period shall be imposed upon any person who, knowingly making untruthful SEC. 7. Petition for citizenship. Any person desiring to acquire Philippine
statements and not being included in the provisions of the next preceding articles, citizenship shall file with the competent court, a petition in triplicate, accompanied by
shall testify under oath, or make an affidavit, upon any material matter before a two photographs of the petitioner, setting forth his name and surname; his present
competent person authorized to administer an oath in cases in which the law so and former places of residence; his occupation; the place and date of his birth;
requires. whether single or married and if the father of children, the name, age, birthplace
andresidence of the wife and of the children; x x x; a declaration that he has the
Any person who, in case of a solemn affirmation made in lieu of an oath, shall commit qualifications required by this Act, specifying the same, and that he is not
any of the falsehoods mentioned in this and the three preceding articles of this disqualified for naturalization under the provisions of this Act; x x x. (Emphasis
section, shall suffer the respective penalties provided therein. supplied)

The elements of perjury are: The necessity of declaring a truthful and specific information on the "residence"
and "moral character" in the petition for naturalization has been underscored by this
1. The accused made a statement under oath or executed an affidavit upon a Court in Chua Kian Lai vs. Republic,[16] thus:
material matter;
2. The statement or affidavit was made before a competent officer authorized to One qualification for Philippine citizenship is that the petitioner must be of good moral
receive and administer oath; character. That circumstance should be specifically alleged in the petition.

3. In that statement or affidavit, the accused made a willful and deliberate xxxxxxxxx
assertion of a falsehood; and
4. The sworn statement or affidavit containing the falsity is required by law or The law explicitly requires that the applicant should indicate in his petition his
made for a legal purpose.[14] present and former places of residence (Sec. 7, Com. Act No. 473). That
requirement is designed to facilitate the verification of petitioners
All these elements are present in the instant case. Petitioner willfully and activities which have a bearing on his petition for naturalization, especially so as
deliberately alleged false statements concerning his "residence" and "moral character" to his qualifications and moral character, either by private individuals or by
in his petition for naturalization. This was sufficiently proven by the prosecution, as investigative agencies of the government, by pointing to them the localities or places
succinctly noted by the Court of Appeals in its assailed Decision. wherein appropriate inquiries may be made (Keng Giok vs. Republic, 112 Phil.
896). Moreover, the suppression of that information might constitute falsehood
The petition for naturalization was duly subscribed and sworn to by petitioner
which signifies that the applicant lacks good moral character and is not,
before Notary Public Filomino B. Tan, Jr., a person competent and authorized by law
therefore, qualified to be admitted as a citizen of the Philippines. (Emphasis
to receive and administer oath. Also, petitioner started testifying under oath on his false
supplied)
allegations before the trial court.
The allegations in the petition regarding "residence" and "moral character" are Fully cognizant of the truth surrounding his moral character and residence,
material matters because they are among the very facts in issue or the main facts which petitioner instead declared falsely in his verified petition for naturalization that "he has
are the subject of inquiry[15] and are the bases for the determination of petitioner's all the qualifications and none of the disqualification under C.A. No. 473." [17] Clearly, he
qualifications and fitness as a naturalized Filipino citizen. Thus, C.A. No. 473 provides: willfully asserted falsehood under oath on material matters required by law.
We cannot go along with the submission of the petitioner and the Solicitor General
SEC. 2. Qualifications. Subject to section four of this Act, any person having the
that petitioner could no longer be prosecuted for perjury in view of the withdrawal of the
following qualifications may become a citizen of the Philippines by naturalization:
petition for naturalization containing his false material statements. In this jurisdiction, it
is not necessary that the proceeding in which the perjury is alleged to have been
xxxxxxxxx committed be first terminated before a prosecution for the said crime is
commenced.[18] At the time he filed his petition for naturalization, he had committed
"Third. He must be of good moral character and believes in the principles perjury. As discussed earlier, all the elements of the crime were already present
underlying the Philippine Constitution, and must have conducted himself in a then. He knew all along that he wilfully stated material falsities in his verified
proper and irreproachable manner during the entire period of his residence in petition. Surprisingly, he withdrew his petition without even stating any reason
the Philippines in his relation with the constituted government as well as with therefor.[19]But such withdrawal only terminated the proceedings for
the community in which he is living; naturalization. It did not extinguish his culpability for perjury he already
committed. Indeed, the fact of withdrawal alone cannot bar the State from prosecuting
petitioner, an alien, who made a mockery not only of the Philippine naturalization law
xxxxxxxxx
but the judicial proceedings as well. And the petition for naturalization tainted with
material falsities can be used as evidence of his unlawful act.
Petitioner then claims that since the petition for naturalization is a pleading, the
allegations therein are absolutely privileged and cannot be used for any criminal
prosecution against him, citing Sison vs. David,[20] People vs. Aquino[21] and Flordelis
vs. Himalaloan.[22]
The argument is unavailing. Sison and Aquino both
involve libel cases. In Sison, this Court categorically stressed that the term "absolute
privilege" (or "qualified privilege") has an "established technical meaning, in
connection with civil actions for libel and slander." The purpose of the privilege is to
ensure that "members of the legislature, judges of courts, jurors, lawyers, and
witnesses may speak their minds freely and exercise their respective functions without
incurring the risk of a criminal prosecution or an action for the recovery of damages. It
is granted in aid and for the advantage of the administration of
justice."[23] Certainly, in the present case, petitioner cannot seek refuge under the
absolutely privileged communication rule since the false statements he made in his
petition for naturalization has instead made a mockery of the administration of justice.
The Flordelis case is likewise not in point. There, Flordelis was charged with
perjury for having alleged false statements in his verified answer. This Court held that
no perjury could be committed by Flordelis because "an answer to a complaint in an
ordinary civil action need not be under oath," thus, "it is at once apparent that one
element of the crime of perjury is absent x x x, namely, that the sworn statement
complained of must be required by law."[24]
Anent the alleged violation of petitioner's constitutional right to equal protection,
suffice it to state that such right cannot be invoked to protect his criminal act.
In People vs. Cainglet,[25] this Court emphatically stressed that "every interest of
public policy demands that perjury be not shielded by artificial
refinements and narrow technicalities. For perjury strikes at the administration of
the laws. It is the policy of the law that judicial proceedings and judgments be fair
and free from fraud, and that litigants and parties be encouraged to tell the truth,
and that they be punished if they do not."
WHEREFORE, the instant petition for review on certiorari is hereby DENIED. The
appealed Decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
Puno, (Chairman), Panganiban, Corona, and Carpio-Morales, JJ., concur.
A.M. No. P-94-1081 October 25, 1995 Nito pong nakaraang linggo May 26 at 28, 1994 nagbantay na
naman po ang anak sa harapan ng office ng asawa ko. Hindi po
VIRGINIA E. BURGOS, complainant, tumigil. Alam po ito ng buong compound ng kapitolyo. Kilalang-
vs. kilala po siya sa gawain nga immoral. Hindi po ako
JOSEFINA R. AQUINO, Court Stenographer, RTC, Branch 19, Malolos, nagsisinungaling. Totoong lahat ito. Siguro po ay nauunawaan
Bulacan, respondent. ninyo ako, dahil may ina rin po kayo na katulad ko na napakasakit
kapag niloko. Dapat na pong masugpo itong gawain ng ganitong
mga babae, kung hindi po natin papansinin ay marami pang
pamilya na masisira. Masyado na po akong nasasaktan.

PUNO, J.: Kalakip po rito ang mga papeles na siya ay may anak.

This administrative matter refers to the charge of immorality brought by complainant We asked the respondent to file her Comment. In her Comment, she admitted that
against respondent, for maintaining illicit relations with complainant's husband which she had an illicit relation with complainant's husband. The illicit relation allegedly
eventually begot them a child, a daughter named Jocelyn A. Burgos. happened prior to her employment in the judiciary. She claimed that the affair
occurred in 1979 and their love child, Jocelyn, was born on March 19, 1980. 2 She
The letter-complaint of complainant states: joined the judiciary only on July 9, 1981 as Court Clerk Interpreter I at the Municipal
Trial Court of Guiguinto, Bulacan and was promoted to Stenographic Reporter. She
Sir: later transferred to the Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 19, in 1983.
She now avers that she had severed her relation with Atty. Burgos arising from their
disagreement over support.
Ito po ay may kinalaman sa isang empleyado ninyo sa Branch 19,
Malolos, Bulacan na si Josefina R. Aquino, court stenographer.
In her Reply, complainant maintained that her husband and respondent are still "on."
She had also demanded the respondent to disallow her daughter from using the
Nais ko pong paimbistigahan siya sa pagkaimmoral dahil siya po ay family name Burgos.
may-anak sa aking asawa.
We referred the letter-complaint to Executive Judge Natividad C. Dizon, Regional
Nito nga pong mga nagdaan panahon ay hindi ko na pinapansin Trial Court, Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 19, for investigation. In her report and
pero grabe na po ang mga gawain. Nuon pong isang taon, April recommendation, dated March 17, 1995, Judge Dizon found the following:
1993, napagalaman ko na nagbababad sa office ng asawa ko,
kasama ang kanyang anak. Nakikialam sa mga gawain sa office at
nagpapanggap pang Mrs. siya ng asawa ko. Maluag siyang xxx xxx xxx
nakaaalis sa office niya nuong panahon na iyon na walang
pumupuna. Sa katunayan po ay kalakip nito ang papeles na The parties, through counsel, agreed that they will just submit their
nilalakad niya kahit office hour. Hindi siya mapigil sa pagpunta sa respective position papers relative to their respective contentions.
office ng asawa ko, sa dahilan mag-iiskandalo raw siya. Tumagal No testimonial evidence was presented but only documentary.
po iyon ng mahabang panahon sapagkat hindi ko po ugali ang
pumunta sa office ng asawa ko. xxx xxx xxx

Napagalaman ko lang po ito nang umuwi ang anak ko na sumama It appears from the Personal Data Sheet submitted by the
sa office ng asawa ko. Hindi po tumigil ng kapupunta ruon kahit na respondent to the Supreme Court, under Column No. 20 that: in
nanduon ang anak ko. Hindi naman po kilala ng anak ko. Hindi na 1974 to September 30, 1979, she was employed as Clerk
po matiis ng mga tao sa office kaya sinabi sa anak ko. Isinumbong Stenographer in the Fiscal's Office which is a clear indication that
sa akin ng anak ko. when she got pregnant with her child she was in the government
service. Also in Item No. 27 of said Personal Data Sheet, under
Kinabukasan po ay isinumbong ko sa judge ng Branch 19. references, it can be noted that she named Atty. Francisco Burgos
Pinagsabihan siya. Nangako na hihiwalay na raw siya. Hindi na raw as one of her references.
kami guguluhin. Hindi po tumupad. Ang pagpunta lang po sa office
ang sinunod pero patuloy pa rin po ang paghahabol sa asawa ko. It is a given fact, as the records clearly show, that when respondent
Ayaw pong tumigil. Matalas po at walang kahihiyan. had an affair with the husband of the complainant which resulted in
the birth of the love child, respondent was in the government however, in one of her personal data sheets dated October 26,
service. The admission in the Answer (Exh. "B") of the respondent 1982, respondent did not declare her child. Moreover, it is worthy to
that she was a victim of amorous advances of complainant's note that in her Statement of Assets and Liabilities dated July 11,
husband sometime in 1979 and out of that relationship a child was 1984, April 30, 1990, May 14, 1992, April 5, 1993, and April 13,
born confirmed the fact that respondent, while in the government 1994, her only child, though declared, already carries the name
service committed a disgraceful and immoral act for which Jocelyn A. Burgos. The reason for the change in her child's
respondent may be subjected to disciplinary action. Now, whether surname was not explained.
the relationship with the husband of the complainant is still
subsisting, complainant submitted documents typed by the It is to be emphasized that the offense of disgraceful and immoral
respondent at the office of complainant's husband showing that in conduct is punishable by DISMISSAL from the service. Whether or
the said pleadings typewritten below are the initials "fcb\jo" and also not the immoral relationship still subsist is no longer material.
complainant claims that respondent brags about her being a Documents submitted by a government employee to form part of
mistress and introduces herself as the legal wife and goes to the his/her personal file are official documents. Any alteration or
office of her paramour almost everyday during office hours (Letter material changes in the content thereof without a valid justification
to the undersigned attached as Annex "4"). Complainant also is tantamount to falsification which is likewise penalized by
claims that her husband supports respondent and the child. DISMISSAL from the service. It could be added that in these official
However, she did not present evidence to prove such. Therefore, documents, the employee declares under the penalty of perjury that
except for the fact that there was admission on the part of the all statements given in the document are true and correct to the
respondent that complainant's husband is the father of best of his knowledge and belief. It appears from these documents
respondent's child and the relationship was during the time she was and in the record of the case that no doubt, herein respondent is
an employee of the Fiscal's Office, no sufficient evidence was guilty of immorality and committed an act of falsifying her own
presented that the relationship is subsisting while respondent was records and therefore, guilty of perjury, which merit a severe
in the judiciary. 3 punishment. 4

Judge Dizon recommended respondent's suspension from service. We agree with the findings of the Office of the Court Administrator.

We then referred the report to the Office of the Court Administrator for evaluation. In Respondent has admitted her illicit relationship with Atty. Francisco C. Burgos,
its Memorandum, dated June 19, 1995, it held: complainant's husband in 1979 which gave life to their love child, Jocelyn, in 1980.
She, however, denies the charge of complainant that she continues to carry on her
This Office finds merit on the conclusion of the investigating Judge dalliance with Atty. Burgos.
that indeed the respondent committed an immoral act while in the
government service, regardless of whether or not it was committed The evidence proves the charge of complainant. Complainant submitted pleadings in
when employed in the Judiciary. At the time she gave birth to her various courts filed by her husband, Atty. Burgos and typed by respondent. These
child, the respondent may not be in the government service. pleadings are: (1) Motion for Extension to File Brief filed in the Court of Appeals in
However, the child was conceived when she was still in the Fiscal's CA-G.R. No. 13785, dated April 1, 1993; 5 (2) Motion to Reset, dated April 12, 1993,
Office where the complainant's husband likewise worked. It could and filed in Civil Case No. 423 in the Municipal Trial Court of Pulilan, Bulacan; 6 and
be presumed undisputably that the reason for her resignation is (3) Position Paper, dated May 12, 1993, filed also in the Municipal Trial Court of
because of her conception and eventually giving birth to her child. Pulilan, Bulacan in Civil Case No. 423. 7 All these pleadings bear the initials "fcb/jo"
and which were typed by the respondent in the office of Atty. Burgos. As the
This Office went deeper in its evaluation inquiring further on the legitimate wife of Atty. Burgos, it is not difficult for complainant to obtain copies of
personal record of herein respondent. Her personal record reveals these pleadings. It is not also far fetched for respondent to type them for she is a
that respondent was employed as Clerk-Typist in the Office of the court stenographer. Given these circumstances, it behooved the respondent to
Governor of Malolos, Bulacan from August 1, 1974 to April 22, disprove the charge that her relationship with complainant's husband has not ceased.
1976, and from April 23, 1976 to September 30, 1979 as Clerk She did nothing to meet this burden. We hold that the evidence on record is
Stenographer in the Fiscal's Office on the same province. She substantial enough to conclude that respondent did not stop her illicit relationship with
resigned from the Fiscal's Office and subsequently got herself complainant's husband. Proceedings in administrative investigation are not strictly
employed as Court Interpreter in MTC, Guiguinto, Bulacan on July governed by the technical rules of evidence. They are summary in nature.
9, 1981. While it is true that in all her personal record from the time
she assumed office in the Judiciary, she declares her status as The Code of Judicial Ethics mandates that the conduct of court personnel must be
single with a child named Jocelyn Aquino born on March 19, 1980, free from any whiff of impropriety, not only with respect to his duties in the judicial
branch but also to his behavior outside the court as a private individual. 8 There is no
dichotomy of morality; a court employee is also judged by his private morals. 9 The
exacting standards of morality and decency have been strictly adhered to and laid
down by the Court to those in the service of the judiciary. 10 Respondent, as a court
stenographer, did not live up to her commitment to lead a moral life. Her act of
maintaining relation with Atty. Burgos speaks for itself.

Likewise, the records reveal that when respondent applied in the judiciary she filled
up the prescribed personal information sheet, Civil Service Form 212, dated October
26, 1982 and did not disclose the existence of her daughter. The form itself gives this
warning: "I declare under penalties of perjury that the answers given above are true
and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief." Despite the warning, she
professed that her statements were true. 11 Under Article 183 of the Revised Penal
Code, perjury is the deliberate making of untruthful statements upon any material
matter before a competent person authorized to administer an oath in cases in which
the law so requires. The required Civil Service Form 212 submitted by respondent to
form part of her personal file is an official document. Her deliberate omission to
disclose her child without a valid justification makes her liable for perjury. 12

IN VIEW HEREOF, respondent Josefina R. Aquino is meted the penalty of


suspension from office for six (6) months for immorality and perjury. Let a copy of this
decision be entered in respondent's personal record.

SO ORDERED.

Narvasa, C.J., Regalado, Mendoza and Francisco, JJ., concur.


G.R. No. 93173 September 15, 1993 jurisdiction over the twin issues of ownership and automatic rescission, they being
intracorporate disputes. 6 Accordingly, proceedings in Civil Case No. 55247 were
HONORIO SAAVEDRA, JR., petitioner, suspended.
vs.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF PASIG, BRANCH 67 On 7 December 1987, during the pendency of SEC Case No. 3257, private
and GREGORIO M. RAMOS,respondents. respondent filed a criminal case for perjury against petitioner with the Provincial
Prosecutor's Office in Pasig alleging that petitioner perjured himself when he declared
Andres B. Soriano for petitioner. in the verification of the complaint in Civil Case No. 55247 that he was the President
of PPI. 7 In his answer-affidavit, petitioner contended that since the issues of
ownership and automatic rescission were still pending and unresolved in the SEC,
The Solicitor General for public respondent. there was no basis to the charge that he asserted a falsehood by claiming to be the
President of the company especially when he was such per records extant with the
SEC. 8

BELLOSILLO, J.: By Resolution dated 25 July 1988, the Provincial Prosecutor found a prima facie case
for perjury against petitioner and on 26 October 1988 filed the corresponding
This is a petition for certiorari and prohibition seeking the nullification of Department Information with the Regional Trial Court of Pasig, docketed as Crim. Case No.
of Justice (DOJ) Resolution dated 6 November 1989 1 which dismissed petitioner's 74919. 9 The evidence supporting the charge was the Secretary's Certificate dated 5
Petition for Review of the Provincial Prosecutor's Resolution dated 25 July December 1987 reflecting private respondent's election as President of PPI by the
1988 2 finding probable cause for perjury against petitioner, and DOJ Resolution former owners thereof when they convened following the automatic revocation of the
dated 7 March 1990 3 denying reconsideration. "Memorandum of Agreement" and "Deed of Assignment."

On 2 July 1987, the owners of Pine Philippines, Inc. (PPI for brevity), including private Petitioner sought a review of the foregoing Resolution with public respondent DOJ but
respondent Gregorio M. Ramos, sold their shares of stock to petitioner Honorio the latter subsequently came up with the Resolution now under consideration,
upholding the finding of probable cause for perjury, ruling as follows: 10
Saavedra, Jr., for P1.2 million payable in installments. A "Memorandum of
Agreement," and a "Deed of Assignment" were executed to evidence the transaction.
The former document contained an automatic rescission clause in case any There is probable cause against you for prosecution as evidenced
installment was not paid on its due date. by the Secretary's Certificate dated December 5, 1987 extant on
record. This evidence is a mute but eloquent witness affirming the
Payments were made in the total amount of P936,380.00, leaving a balance of claim of Ramos that he is the rightful President of PPI. Indeed, the
P263,620.00 payable on 15 September 1987. On said date, however, petitioner Secretary's Certificate alluded to readily shows that the original
withheld payment for the reason that the sellers failed to comply with their warranties. membership of the Board was reconvened and reassembled,
Nevertheless, the balance was deposited in escrow subject to release once the proving the fact that the presidency of PPI is lodged with Ramos.
warranties were complied with.
Moreover, in view of the of the rescission of the memorandum of
On 5 November 1987, petitioner filed in behalf of PPI a verified civil complaint for agreement, deed of assignment and contract of lease, you lost your
damages 4 against private respondent, alleging that he (petitioner) was the President rights and interest over the shares of stock previously delivered to
and principal stockholder of the company. By way of answer, respondent Ramos you by virtue of the subject agreement. Consequently, you likewise
questioned petitioner's capacity to sue in behalf of PPI, claiming that petitioner lost your right to assume management over the corporation PPI.
ceased to be its president when the sale of the PPI, shares of stock to him was When you thus stated in your complaint that you were President of
automatically rescinded on 15 September 1987. PPI, such assertion constituted a lawful (sic)and deliberate
assertion of falsehood (emphasis supplied).

After executing a document entitled "Recission of Memorandum of Agreement,"


Ramos and his group filed a case5 on 20 November 1987 with the Securities and A Motion for Reconsideration having proved unsuccessful, petitioner took the instant
Exchange Commission (SRC) praying that the rescission be declared valid and legal. recourse.
Petitioner filed a motion to dismiss alleging lack of jurisdiction on the part of the SEC
but the same was denied on 11 December 1987. Petitioner went to the Supreme Petitioner contends that respondent DOJ gravely abused its discretion when it
Court which, on 21 March 1988, upheld the jurisdiction of the SEC and ruled that affirmed the findings of the Provincial Prosecutor that he made a "deliberate assertion
under Sec. 5, par. (b), of P.D. No. 902-A, the SEC has "primary and exclusive" of falsehood" on the basis of the conclusion that automatic rescission had set in. For,
the jurisdiction to rule on that question of automatic rescisssion is lodged with the probable cause for perjury, should have withheld filing any information against the
Securities and Exchange Commission. Since the issue has not yet been resolved, the accused.
DOJ should have deferred the proceedings.
Public respondent DOJ in attempting to justify the action of the Provincial Prosecutor
There is merit in the petition. In Saavedra, Jr. v. SEC, we categorically pronounced avers that the latter is empowered to make a preliminary ruling on the matter for the
that: purpose of finding probable cause against petitioner, and that petitioner may raise the
pendency of the issue before the SEC as his defense at the trial proper.
. . . the dispute at bar is an intracorporate dispute that has arisen
between and among the principal stockholders of the corporation We are not persuaded. The duty of a prosecutor during preliminary investigation is
due to the refusal of the defendants (now petitioners) to fully not only to find evidence to warrant continuation of the criminal process against an
comply with what has been covenanted by the parties. Such accused. Of equal importance, and it has been repeated often enough, is his duty to
dispute involves a controversy "between and among stockholders," protect the innocent from hasty, expensive and useless trials. 16 This duty, in addition
specifically as to plaintiffs' right, as stockholders, over unpaid to the "primary and exclusive" jurisdiction of the SEC, demands the outright
assignment of shares and the validity of defendants' acquisition of termination of the criminal prosecution of petitioner which, at the very outset, was
the same. In other words, the present case involves an already bereft of factual and legal bases. Indeed, the prosecution of petitioner cannot
intracorporate dispute as to who has the right to remain and act as be based on a mere Secretary's Certificate which cannot attest to the validity of the
owners-stockholders of the corporation. automatic rescission, hence, cannot likewise settle the question as to who between
petitioner and private respondent is the lawful President of PPI.
Pursuant to PD No. 902-A, as amended, particularly Section 5(b)
thereof, the primary and exclusive jurisdiction over the present case Besides, the Secretary's Certificate is dated 5 December 1987, while the alleged false
properly belongs to the SEC . . . (emphasis supplied). 11 statement was made on 5 November 1987, or one month before when the verified
complaint for damages was filed. Quite obviously, the truthfulness of a statement, or
Under the doctrine of primary jurisdiction, courts cannot and will not determine a lack of it, cannot be made to depend on a certificate that was not existing yet when
controversy involving a question which is within the jurisdiction of an administrative the statement in question was made. Even assuming the validity of Ramos' election
tribunal 12 having been so placed within its special competence under a regulatory as President of PPI as reflected in the Secretary's Certificate, it does not prove that
scheme. In such instances the judicial process is suspended pending referral to the petitioner was not President on 5 November 1987 when the civil action was instituted.
administrative body for its view on the matter in
dispute. 13 Be that as it may, the outcome of SEC Case No. 3257 is not determinative of whether
or not the charge for perjury against petitioner can prosper. Even if private respondent
Consequently, if the courts cannot resolve a question which is within the legal Ramos succeeds in proving the validity of the automatic rescission of the sale before
competence of an administrative body prior to the resolution of that question by the the SEC, it does not necessarily mean that the criminal prosecution has basis. There
administrative tribunal, especially where the question demands the exercise of sound are four (4) elements of the crime of perjury to be taken into account in determining
administrative discretion requiring the special knowledge, experience and services of whether there is a prima facie case, to wit: (a) that the accused made a statement
the administrative agency to ascertain technical and intricate matters of fact, and a under oath or executed an affidavit upon a material matter; (b) that the statement or
uniformity of ruling is essential to comply with the purposes of the regulatory statute affidavit was made before a competent officer, authorized to receive and administer
administered, 14 much less can the Provincial Prosecutor arrogate to himself the oath; (c) that in that statement or affidavit, the accused made a willful and deliberate
jurisdiction vested solely with the SEC. assertion of a falsehood; and, (d) that the sworn statement or affidavit containing the
falsity is required by law or made for a legal purpose. 17

In the case at bar, the applicable regulatory statute is P.D. No. 902-A conferring upon
the SEC the legal competence to rule on intracorporate disputes, which competence Clearly, mere assertion of a falsehood is not enough to amount to perjury. The
had already been upheld by us in a number of cases. 15 Considering that it was assertion must be deliberate and willful. While there may have been a falsehood
definitely settled in Saavedra, Jr. v. SEC that the issues of ownership and automatic asserted, which we are not prepared to accept, no evidence exists to show that the
rescission are intracorporate in nature, then the Provincial Prosecutor, clearly, has no same was done deliberately and wilfully. On the contrary, the records tend to show
authority whatsoever to rule on the same. In fact, if we were to uphold the validity of that the assertion was done in good faith, in the belief that the non-payment of the last
the DOJ Resolutions brought before us, as respondents suggest, we would be installment price was justified by the sellers' non-compliance with their warranties.
sanctioning a flagrant usurpation or preemption of that primary and exclusive Besides, petitioner alleges that he has deposited the balance in escrow, which is not
jurisdiction which SEC already enjoys. Obviously, it cannot be done. Thus, the disputed. Consequently, a finding of probable cause does not follow as a matter of
Provincial Prosecutor upon being confronted with the issue of whether the sale of course even if SEC decides adversely against petitioner, for an essential element of
stocks to petitioner was automatically cancelled while in the course of determining the crime appears to be wanting in the case before us, i.e., that the falsehood is willful
and deliberate.
Moreover, as a rule, pleadings need not be verified unless otherwise required by the
Rules of Court, and no rule requires complaints for damages, as in the case before
us, to be under oath. Since the complaint filed by petitioner against private
respondent is not required to be verified, another essential element of the crime of
perjury is absent, i.e., that the sworn statement containing the falsity is required by
law. Consequently, petitioner cannot be prosecuted on the basis of an alleged
falsehood made in a verified pleading which is not mandated by law to be verified. 18

Verily, there is grave abuse of discretion in the issuance of the Resolution of 25 July
1988 finding a prima faciecase for perjury against petitioner. A fortiori, the assailed
DOJ Resolutions must be struck down as having been issued without sufficient
factual and legal bases. Correspondingly, the Information filed with the Pasig Trial
Court pursuant thereto must likewise be dismissed.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The questioned Resolutions dated 6


November 1989 and 7 March 1990 of respondent Department of Justice sustaining
the Provincial Prosecutor in finding probable cause for perjury against petitioner
are NULLIFIED and SET ASIDE.

Conformably herewith, the Regional Trial Court of Pasig, Branch 67, or whichever
branch of the same court Crim. Case No. 74919 entitled "People v. Honorio
Saavedra, Jr.," may be assigned, is directed to DISMISS the case. The bail bond
posted for the provisional liberty of the accused, if any, is cancelled and released.

SO ORDERED.

Cruz, Davide, Jr. and Quiason, JJ., concur.

Grio-Aquino, J., is on leave.