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CORPUZ vs.

PEOPLE Commented [RM1]: Provides how to compute the


G.R. No. 180016 / APRIL 29, 2014 / PERALTA J. / ESTAFA / AABPAYAD penalty for estafa BEFORE
NATURE Petition for review on certiorari
PETITIONER Lito Corpuz Cosme vs people
RESPONDENT People of the Philippines Celestial vs people compute penalty for theft

FACTS.
 Danilo Tangcoy, private complainant, and Lito Corpuz, petitioner, met at the Admiral Royale Casino in Olongapo City sometime in 1990.
 Tangcoy was then engaged in the business of lending money to casino players and, upon hearing that Tangcoy had some pieces of jewelry for sale, Corpuz
approached him on May 2, 1991 at the same casino and offered to sell the said pieces of jewelry on commission basis.
 Tangcoy agreed, and as a consequence, he turned over to petitioner the following items: an 18k diamond ring for men; a woman's bracelet; one (1) men's necklace
and another men's bracelet, with an aggregate value of P98,000.00, as evidenced by a receipt of even date.
 They both agreed that petitioner shall remit the proceeds of the sale, and/or, if unsold, to return the same items, within a period of 60 days. The period expired Commented [RM2]: He failed to do everything he
without petitioner remitting the proceeds of the sale or returning the pieces of jewelry. When Tongcoy was able to meet petitioner, the latter promised the former promised and he denied na nakipagtransact sya kay tangcoy
that he will pay the value of the said items entrusted to him, but to no avail.
 A criminal complaint for estafa was filed against Corpuz.
 On the prosecution, it was established that Tongcoy and Corpuz were collecting agents of Antonio Balajadia, who is engaged in the financing business of extending
loans to Base employees. For every collection made, they earn a commission. Petitioner denied having transacted any business with Tongcoy.
 However, he admitted obtaining a loan from Balajadia sometime in 1989 for which he was made to sign a blank receipt. He claimed that the same receipt was
then dated May 2, 1991 and used as evidence against him for the supposed agreement to sell the subject pieces of jewelry, which he did not even see.
 RTC and CA – accused is guilty of estafa.

ISSUE & RATIO.


1. WON the demand to return the subject the subject jewelry, if unsold, or remit the proceeds, if sold, is a valid demand under one of the elements of
Estafa under Art. 315 (1) (b) of the RPC? – YES.
Demand need not even be formal; it may be verbal. The specific word "demand" need not even be used to show that it has indeed been made upon the person
charged, since even a mere query as to the whereabouts of the money [in this case, property], would be tantamount to a demand. As expounded in Asejo v.
People:

With regard to the necessity of demand, we agree with the CA that demand under this kind of estafa need not be formal or writt en. The appellate court observed
that the law is silent with regard to the form of demand in estafa under Art. 315 1(b), thus:

When the law does not qualify, We should not qualify. Should a written demand be necessary, the law would have stated so. Otherwise, the word "demand" should
be interpreted in its general meaning as to include both written and oral demand. Thus, the failure of the prosecution to present a written demand as evidence is Commented [RM3]: Since the law is silent
not fatal.

In Tubb v. People, where the complainant merely verbally inquired about the money entrusted to the accused, we held that the query was tantamount to a demand,
thus:
x x x [T]he law does not require a demand as a condition precedent to the existence of the crime of embezzlement. It so happens only that failure to account, upon
demand for funds or property held in trust, is circumstantial evidence of misappropriation. The same way, however, be established by other proof, such as that
introduced in the case at bar.

In view of the foregoing and based on the records, the prosecution was able to prove the existence of all the elements of the crime. Private complainant gave
petitioner the pieces of jewelry in trust, or on commission basis, as shown in the receipt dated May 2, 1991 with an obligation to sell or return the same within sixty
(60) days, if unsold. There was misappropriation when petitioner failed to remit the proceeds of those pieces of jewelry sold, or if no sale took place, failed to return
the same pieces of jewelry within or after the agreed period despite demand from the private complainant, to the prejudice of the latter.
Caveat: There’s a discussion about the penalty for estafa, like need na daw sya i-amend. But the SC didn’t impose the same kasi duty daw yun ng Congress.
Basta, it’s long kasi kaya I didn’t include it here. Check nyo nalang powz.

DECISION.
Petition denied.

LITO CORPUZ vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES G.R. No. 180016, April 29, 2014 PERALTA, J.:
JULY 8, 2014 / ARDYESGUERRA

FACTS:
 Accused Corpuz received from complainant Tangcoy pieces of jewelry with an obligation to sell the same and remit the proceeds of the sale or to return
the same if not sold, after the expiration of 30 days.
 The period expired without Corpuz remitting anything to Tangcoy.
 When Corpuz and Tangcoy met, Corpuz promised that he will pay, but to no avail.
 Tangcoy filed a case for estafa with abuse of confidence against Corpuz.
 Corpuz argued as follows:
a. The proof submitted by Tangcoy (receipt) is inadmissible for being a mere photocopy.

b. The information was defective because the date when the jewelry should be returned and the date when crime occurred is different from the one testified to by
Tangcoy.

c. Fourth element of estafa or demand is not proved.

d. Sole testimony of Tangcoy is not sufficient for conviction

ISSUES and RULING


Can the court admit as evidence a photocopy of document without violating the best evidence rule (only original documents, as a general rule, is
admissible as evidence)?
Yes. The established doctrine is that when a party failed to interpose a timely objection to evidence at the time they were offered in evidence, such objection shall
be considered as waived.

Here, Corpuz never objected to the admissibility of the said evidence at the time it was identified, marked and testified upon in court by Tangcoy. Corpuz also
failed to raise an objection in his Comment to the prosecution’s formal offer of evidence and even admitted having signed the said receipt.

Is the date of occurrence of time material in estafa cases with abuse of confidence? Commented [RM4]: Wrong date does not make it fatally
No. It is true that the gravamen of the crime of estafa with abuse of confidence under Article 315, paragraph 1, subparagraph (b) of the RPC is the appropriation defective kasi hindi material ang time sa crime
or conversion of money or property received to the prejudice of the owner and that the time of occurrence is not a material ingredient of the crime. Hence, the
exclusion of the period and the wrong date of the occurrence of the crime, as reflected in the Information, do not make the latter fatally defective.
Further, the following satisfies the sufficiency of information:

1. The designation of the offense by the statute;

2. The acts or omissions complained of as constituting the offense;

3. The name of the offended party; and

4. The approximate time of the commission of the offense, and the place wherein the offense was committed.

The 4th element is satisfied. Even though the information indicates that the time of offense was committed “on or about the 5 th of July 1991,” such is not fatal to the
prosecution’s cause considering that Section 11 of the same Rule requires a statement of the precise time only when the same is a material ingredient of the
offense.
What is the form of demand required in estafa with abuse of confidence?
Note first that the elements of estafa with abuse of confidence are as follows:

(a) that money, goods or other personal property is received by the offender in trust, or on commission, or for administration, or under any other obligation
involving the duty to make delivery of, or to return the same;

(b) that there be misappropriation or conversion of such money or property by the offender or denial on his part of such receipt;

(c) that such misappropriation or conversion or denial is to the prejudice of another; and

(d) that there is a demand made by the offended party on the offender. Commented [RM5]: Elements of estafa w/ abuse of
confidence

No specific type of proof is required to show that there was demand. Demand need not even be formal; it may be verbal. The specific word “demand” need not
even be used to show that it has indeed been made upon the person charged, since even a mere query as to the whereabouts of t he money [in this case,
property], would be tantamount to a demand.

In Tubb v. People, where the complainant merely verbally inquired about the money entrusted to the accused, the query was tantamount to a demand.

May a sole witness be considered credible?


Yes. Note first that settled is the rule that in assessing the credibility of witnesses, SC gives great respect to the evaluation of the trial court for it had the unique
opportunity to observe the demeanor of witnesses and their deportment on the witness stand, an opportunity denied the appellate courts, which merely rely on the
records of the case.
The assessment by the trial court is even conclusive and binding if not tainted with arbitrariness or oversight of some fact or circumstance of weight and influence,
especially when such finding is affirmed by the CA. Truth is established not by the number of witnesses, but by the quality of their testimonies, for in determining
the value and credibility of evidence, the witnesses are to be weighed not numbered.

Why the Supreme Court [should] NOT do the math?

IS THE legality of a legal provision subject to the passage of time? In Corpuz v. People (G.R. No. 180016, April 29, 2014), the Supreme Court delved into the
constitutionality of Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), which pertains to the definition of the crime of estafa and the penalty associated to it.
The obsolete legal provision was challenged vis-à-vis the equal protection clause and the prohibition against cruel and excessive punishment, both guaranteed
under the Constitution. The Court affirmed the decision of the lower courts to convict Lito Corpuz of the crime of estafa and sentenced him to imprisonment for a
period of 4 years and 2 months of prision correccional as minimum to 8 years of prision mayor as maximum, plus 1 year additional for every PhP 10,000 for a total
of 18 years of imprisonment.
The case
The complainant, Tangcoy, entrusted certain jewelries amounting to PhP 98,000 to Corpuz for the purpose of selling them. Tangcoy waited for Corpuz to remit the
sale proceeds or return of the jewelry but Corpuz failed to do so. The trial court convicted Corpuz, which was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. On appeal to the
Supreme Court, Corpuz contended that the penalty imposed upon him by the court a quo violates the equal protection clause and the prohibition against oppressive
and cruel punishment. Thus, he asked the Court to suspend the execution of the sentence or amend the same to accord respect to his constitutional rights.
Incremental penalty
The last sentence of Article 315 states that “if such amount exceeds the latter sum, the penalty provided in this paragraph shall be imposed in its maximum period,
adding one year for each additional PhP 10,000, but the total penalty which may be imposed shall not exceed twenty years.”The last sentence is called an incremental
Commented [RM6]: Incremental penalty
penalty, where the punishment to be meted out to a convict increases as the amount involved in estafa gets higher. In the case at bar, given that the value of the
property taken amounted to a total of PhP 98,000, Corpuz was convicted to serve imprisonment to a total of 18 years, in addition to the fines imposed.
Beyond the numbers
In ruling for the constitutionality of the assailed RPC provision, the Court explained that it has no authority to modify the range of penalties, as such would constitute
judicial legislation. What the legislature’s perceived failure in amending the penalties provided for in the said crimes cannot be remedied through the Court’s decision.

The question of constitutionality raised by the petitioner is one of first impression. Hence, the case was referred to the court en banc for resolution. Amici curiae were
invited to give comments on the said question.
Dean Jose Manuel Diokno of the De La Salle College of Law shared that the provision imposing an incremental penalty for the crime of estafa is unconstitutional for
violating the equal protection clause. He provided a table outlining the rate of inflation from the 1932, the year the RPC was enacted, up to the present time. Diokno
interposed that at the current rate of inflation, the fair rate for the incremental penalty would be at 1:100—meaning that the fair rate for an additional year of
imprisonment at the current time should be pegged at PhP 100,000.
Meanwhile, Dean Sedfrey Candelaria of the Ateneo Law School stated that the assailed provision is partially constitutional, citing the case involving some Citibank
employees, wherein the Supreme Court decided to void a provision in a law which would lead to oppression towards the workers.

It must be noted that estafa is categorized as a crime against property. This implies that the gravity of the crime is determined by the value of the object or money
swindled. At the time when the RPC was enacted in 1932, the value of the peso was considerably higher compared to its present value, wherein devaluations may
have been caused by inflation. Thus during that period, an additional year of imprisonment for every PhP 10,000 that exceeded the price of PhP 22,000 could be
considered as fair punishment for the crime of estafa.

Transposing this to the prevailing currency levels, Corpuz would then serve a sentence similar to a person who swindles several millions of pesos. The provision for
an incremental penalty for every Php10,000 creates absurdity. Further, the aggregate length of Corpuz’ sentence, which is 18 years, is almost equal to the penalty
imposed for the crime of homicide. This leads to a somewhat unreasonable situations wherein a crime against property is on equal footing with penalties for crim es
against persons.

It is undeniable that the law should be dynamic and reflective of the societal context it operates in. The question raised by Corpuz is not only novel, but one that has
a wide range of implications. For instance, Article 311 of the RPC, which deals with theft, also provides the same rates for incremental penalties when deciding a
convict’s period of imprisonment. Hence the same arguments may arise.
Ultimately, these provisions do not need to be voided or declared unconstitutional, as people who transgress the law must be meted out with penalities. However,
the issues raised in Corpuz reveal the necessity to revise the RPC in order for the penal code to truly reflect the current conditions and avoid penalties shocking to
conscience. While our justices may be great mathematicians and social scientists, it is not for the Court to quantify the wisdom of our laws, lest this result to judicial
activism.
G.R. No. 180016
April 29, 2014

Lito Corpuz, petitioner


Vs.
People of the Philippines, respondent
ISSUE

Whether or not there is a perceived injustice brought about by the range of penalties (excessive fines) that the courts continue to impose against property
committed today – specially in estafa.

RULING

Petition to review on Certiorati petitioned by Lito Corpuz is DENIED.

The Court affirmed with modification the decision of RTC and Court of Appeals finding the petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Estafa under
Article 315, paragraph 1, sub-paragraph (b) of the RPC. The Court affirmed with Modification that the penalty imposed is the indeterminate penalty of
imprisonment ranging from 3 years, 2 months and 11 days of prison correccional, as minimum, and 15 years of reclusion temporal as maximum.

FACTS

 Facts according to private complainant:


o According to private complainant Danilo Tongcoy, he and the petitioner (Corpuz) met at the Admiral Royale Casino is Olongapo City sometime in
1990.
o Private complainant (Tongcoy) was then engaged in a business of lending money to casino players and petitioner (Corpuz) heared that Tongcoy
had some jewelries for sale.
o Corpuz approached Tongcoy on May 2, 1991 and offered to sell the said jewelries on a commission basis.
o Tongcoy agreed and turned over to the petitioner the following items with a total value of 98,000 pesos:
 18k diamond ring for men (45,000 pesos)
 woman’s bracelet (12,000 pesos)
 1 men’s necklace (*price not indicated in case but it’s 16,000 pesos)
 men’s bracelet (25,000 pesos)
o According to Tongcoy, Corpuz signed a receipt. And they both agreed that the petitioner shall remit the proceed of the sale and/or, if unsold to
return the same items, within a period of 60 days.
o The period expired without the petitioner remitting the proceeds of sale or returning the unsold jewelries.
o Private complainant was able to meet the petitioner, and the latter promised that he will pay for the value of items entrusted to him. (But to no
avail)
o Private complainant then filed against petitioner the crime of estafa.
 Petitioner Corpuz entered a plea of not guilty. Trial in the merits ensued.
 Defense presented the lone testimony of the petitioner.
o Petitioner and private complainant were collecting agents of Antonio Balajadia, who is engaged in loaning business
o Petitioner denied having transacted any business with private complainant.
o Petitioner admitted of obtaining a loan from Balajadia for which he signed a black receipt.
o Petitioner claimed that the same receipt then dated May 2, 1991 was used as evidence against him for the supposed agreement to sell the
jewelries, which he never saw.
 RTC found petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the Estafa under Article 315, paragraph 1, subparagraph b of the RPC. (ruling: 4 years and 2
months of prision correccional in it’s medium period as minimum to 14 years and 8 months of reclkusion temporal in its minimum period as the maximum.
To indemnify the amount of 98,000 as actual damage and to pay for the cost of suit.)
 Case was elevated to the court of appeals. Petition was also denied. CA affirmed with modification (indeterminate penalty of 4 years 2 months of prison
correccional, as minimum, to 8 years of prison mayor, as maximum, plus 1 year for each additional 10,000 pesos or a total of 7 years)
o According to the petitioner, CA erred in affirming the rules of trial court, admitting the evidence of receipt, although it was merely a photocopy, thus
violating the rule of evidence.
 Records show that the petitioner never objected the admissibility of the said evidence at the time it was identified.
 Established doctrine is when a party failed to interpose a timely objection to evidence at the time they were offered in evidence, such
objection is considered waived.
o Another procedural issue raised by the petitioner that there was a formally defective information filed against him. The information does not
contain the period when the jewelries were to be returned and that the date of the crime was different from the one testified by the private
complainant (Tongcoy)
 According to CA, objections as to the matter of form and substance in information cannot be made for the first time on appeal.
 Estafa under Article 315, paragraph 1, subparagraph (b) of the RPC is the appropriation or conversion of money or property received to
the prejudice of the owner (time of the occurrence is not a material ingredient of the crime.)
 Exclusion of the period and wrong date of occurrence of the crime do not make the information fatally defective.
o Moreoever, according to the petitioner the last element of estafa, which is, that there is a demand by the offended party on the offender, was not
proven.
 Court disagrees.
 No specific type of proof is required to show there was demand.
 Demand need not be formal; it maybe verbal. (should a written demand be necessary, the law should have stated so)
o k

 The prosecution was able to prove the existence of all the elements of the crime.
 The credibility of prosecution’s sole witness was also questioned by the petitioner.
o SC gived great respected to the evaluation of the RTC for it has a unique opportunity to observe the witness (specially when affirmed by the CA),
an opportunity denied by the appellate court

 QUESTION OF THE CONTINUED VALIDITY OF IMPOSING ON PERSONS CONVICTED OF CRIMED INVOLVING PROPERTIES CAME UP.
 Members of the division reached no unanimity on the question above, they referred the case to the Court en banc for consideration and resolution. Thus,
several amici curiae (an impartial adviser to a court of law in a particular case) were invited. (Senate president and speaker of the house was invited)
 Legislature pegged these penalties to the value of money and property in 1932 when the RPC was enacted.
 There seems to be a perceived injustice brought about by the range of penalties that the court continues to impose on crime against property committed
today, based on the amount of damage measured by the value of money 80 years ago in 1932.
 The court however cannot modify the range of penalties because that would constitute juridical legislation.7
 However, this does not render the whole situation without remedy. The framers of the RPC anticipated this matter by including Art. 5
o “Art. 5 – duty of the court in connection with acts which should be repressed but which are not covered by the law, and in cases of excessive
penalties”
o If not punishable by law – court shall render the proper decision and shall report to Chief Executive thru DOJ and the reasons why the act should
be made subject of penal legislation
o In case of excessive penalties – where the act is already punishable by law, the only remedy is not to suspend the execution of the sentence but
to submit to the Chief Executive thru DOJ the reasons why the court considers the said penalty to be non-commensurate with the act. (why the
penalty is excessive) Commented [RM7]: Court’s resolution in excessive
 Some of the justices feels that the penalties imposed in the RPC is excessive, based on my understanding. However, they could not change these penalties
penalties since it is the Legislation’s job to do so.
 An argument raised by Dean Jose Manula Diokno, one the esteemed amici curiae, that the incremental penalty (IPR – incremental penalty rule) provided
under Art 315 (Estafa) of the RPC violated the Equal Protection Clause and is a cruel and unusal punishement. The equal protection clause require
equality among equals, which is tested by 4 requisites:
o Classification rest on substantial distinctions
 IPR does not rest on substantial distinctions as 10k may be substancial in the past, but not today. (violates first requisite)
o Germane to the purpose of law
 IPR was devised so that those who commit estafa involving higher amounts would receive heavier penalties, however this is no longer
achieved cause a person who steals 142k would receive the same penalty as someone who steals 100M. (violates second requisite)
o Not limited to existing conditions only
 The IPR is limited to existing conditions at the time the law was promulgated, conditions that no longer exist today. (violated 3rd req.)
o Applies equally to all members of the same class (not violated )
 Assuming the court submits the argument of Dean Diokno and declares the incremental penalty in Art 315 unconstitutional for violating the equal
protection clause, then this proposition poses more questions than answers. According to the court, the only remedy it to refer these matters to Congress
for them to exercise their inherent power to legislate laws.
 Dean Diokno’s was of the opinion that if the Court declares the IPR unconstitutional, the remedy if to go to Congress
 Changing the penalty through court decision may not be legal and constitutionally feasible. The duty of the Court is merely to apply the laws in such a way
that it shall not usurp legislative power by judicial legislation. The Court should shy away from encroaching the primary function of the Legislative Body;
otherwise this would lead to an inexcusable breach of the doctrine of separation of powers.
 Justice Antonio Caprio’s opinion also states that the incremental penalty provisions should be declared unconstitutional. He also suggested that until the
law is amended by the Congress, all crimes of Estafa will no longer be punished by the appropriate penalties. HOWEVER, drastic twist in the application of
law has no legal basis and directly counter to what the law provides.
 According to case, death penalty was reintroduced, however the court did not impede the imposition of the death penalty on the grounds that it is a “cruel
punishment”. So even if the imposed penalty amounts to cruel punishment, the court cannot declare the provisions of the law where the penalty emanates
to be unconstitutional. The fact that the punishment authorized by the statute is severe does not make it cruel and unusual.
 Even if they find the penalties imposed cruel, it is for the Congress to amend the law and adapt it in our modern time.

OPINIONS
 Chief Justice, Sereno
o Concur with the ponencia in affirming the conviction of petitioner but votes to apply the penalty for estafa adjusted to the present value of the thing
subject of the offense. The current penalty imposed has remained untouched for 83 years.
o The punishment imposed on petitioner is within range of the penalty imposable on the petitioner under this Code IF he “killed the private
complainant in a anfry confrontation” or IF the petitioner ‘kidnapped the private petitioner and kept him detained for three years.
o Crimes resulting in the deprivation of life and liberty (like the sample of homicide and kidnapping) are unquestionably more serious than crimes
resulting in the deprivation of property. By imposing a level of punishment for estafa EQUAL to more serious crimes such as homicide and
kidnapping, ART. 315’s system of calibrating the maximum penalty based on the amount of fraud is plainly arbitrary and disproportionate to the
severity of the crime punished.
 Justice Brion
o Concur with the conclusion that Lito Corpuz is guilty of estafa beyond reasonable doubt.
o Modifying the penalties (as proposed by some justices) is not judicial interpretation but it is judicial legislation that is unconstitutional and illegal
breach of the doctrine of separate powers.
o Does not agree with the expressed opinion that the incremental penalty imposed on estafa is unconstitutional for being a cruel and unusual
punishment.

** THERE ARE SOME WHO STILL THINKS THAT THE PENALTIES IMPOSED IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL. However, based on what I read, it is still up to the
congress to amend the penalties in the RPC. If the court modifies the penalties, it would be considered a judicial legislation not judicial interpretation.