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CORPUZ V. PEOPLE (supra)1 in certain crimes.

Thus, the reasoning in increasing the value of civil


GR No. 180016 | April 29, 2014 | Peralta, J. indemnity awarded in some offense cannot be the same reasoning that
would sustain the adoption of the suggested ratio.
SUMMARY - It is apparent from Art. 22062 that the law only imposes a minimum
Petitioner was found guilty of estafa when he was not able to return the jewelry he amount for awards of civil indemnity, which is ₱3,000.00. The law did not
was tasked to sell. The main issue in the case was whether or not the penalty provide for a ceiling.3 It is upon the discretion of the court.
provided in the RPC, specifically its incremental penalty, should still be applied
In our jurisdiction, civil indemnity is awarded to the offended party as a kind of
today given that the values specified in the RPC were based on the values of money
monetary restitution or compensation to the victim for the damage or infraction
and property, and the socio-economic condition in 1932 (the year the RPC was
that was done to the latter by the accused, which in a sense only covers the civil
enacted). The proposal was to change the penalties based on the ratio of 1
aspect.
peso:100 pesos. The Court concluded that such change would amount to judicial
legislation which encroaches upon the powers of the Congress; the duty of the
Art 5, RPC (for reference):
courts is to apply the law. The Court also noted that civil indemnity is not a penalty
ART. 5. Duty of the court in connection with acts which should be repressed but
or fine, and so it can be increased by the Court when appropriate.
which are not covered by the law, and in cases of excessive penalties. - Whenever
a court has knowledge of any act which it may deem proper to repress and which
is not punishable by law, it shall render the proper decision, and shall report to the
DOCTRINES (w/ Respect to measure of damages)
Chief Executive, through the Department of Justice, the reasons which induce the
There seems to be a perceived injustice in the practice of basing today’s penalties on
court to believe that said act should be made the subject of penal legislation.
the value of money from 1932 (when the RPC first took effect).
 SC cannot amend this through a decision, as this would be a violation of In the same way, the court shall submit to the Chief Executive, through the
Separation of Powers. Department of Justice, such statement as may be deemed proper, without
 Amending the RPC is Congress’ job, and such remedy is expressed in Art. 5 suspending the execution of the sentence, when a strict enforcement of the
of the RPC provisions of this Code would result in the imposition of a clearly excessive
penalty, taking into consideration the degree of malice and the injury caused by
ON CIVIL INDEMNITY: the offense.
Civil indemnity is, technically, NOT A PENALTY OR A FINE; hence, it CAN BE
INCREASED BY THE COURT WHEN APPROPRIATE.
FACTS
- In a crime where a person dies, in addition to the penalty of imprisonment, - Private complainant lends money to casino goers
the accused is also ordered to pay the victim a sum of money as o Also owns some jewelries
restitution. Clearly, this award of civil indemnity due to the death of the - Petitioner offered to sell jewelries on a commission basis
victim could not be contemplated as akin to the value of a thing that is o Complainant agreed
unlawfully taken which is the basis in the imposition of the proper penalty

1 (2) If the deceased was obliged to give support according to the provisions of Article 291, the recipient who is not
ORIGINAL DIGEST BY NIEL AGUHOB.
2 an heir called to the decedent's inheritance by the law of testate or intestate succession, may demand support from
Art. 2206. The amount of damages for death caused by a crime or quasi-delict shall be at least three thousand pesos,
the person causing the death, for a period not exceeding five years, the exact duration to be fixed by the court;
even though there may have been mitigating circumstances. In addition:
(3) The spouse, legitimate and illegitimate descendants and ascendants of the deceased may demand moral
(1) The defendant shall be liable for the loss of the earning capacity of the deceased, and the indemnity shall be
damages for mental anguish by reason of the death of the deceased.
paid to the heirs of the latter; such indemnity shall in every case be assessed and awarded by the court, unless the 3 Corollarily, moral damages under Article 222039 of the Civil Code also does not fix the amount of damages that can be
deceased on account of permanent physical disability not caused by the defendant, had no earning capacity at the
awarded.
time of his death;
- Complainant turned over to petitioner the following items: an 18k and 11 days of prision correccional, as minimum, to 15 years of reclusion
diamond ring for men; a woman's bracelet; one (1) men's necklace and temporal as maximum.
another men's bracelet, with an aggregate value of ₱98,000.00, as
evidenced by a receipt of even date Court cannot modify range of penalties as this would amount to judicial
- They both agreed that petitioner shall remit the proceeds of the sale, legislation encroaching upon the powers of the legislature. Duty of the Court is to
and/or, if unsold, to return the same items, within a period of 60 days. The apply the law.
period expired without petitioner remitting the proceeds of the sale or - There is an opinion that the penalties provided for in crimes against
returning the pieces of jewelry. When private complainant was able to property be based on the current inflation rate or at the ratio of ₱1 equal
meet petitioner, the latter promised the former that he will pay the value to ₱100. However, it would be dangerous as this would result in
of the said items entrusted to him, but to no avail. uncertainties, as opposed to the definite imposition of the penalties. Since
- CHARGE: estafa under Art. 315, 1(b)4 the economy is always fluctuating, an adoption of the proposed imposition
- RTC: guilty; punishment: would amount to penalties always changing, thus, making the RPC a self-
o Deprivation of liberty consisting of an imprisonment under the amending law, which the framers did not intend so.
Indeterminate Sentence Law of - It is also improper to presume why the present legislature has not made
 MIN: prision correccional medium; 2 years and 2 months any moves to amend the subject penalties in order to conform with the
 MAX: reclusion temporal minimum; 14 years and 8 present times. They may have intended to retain the same penalties in
months order to deter further commission of the crimes.
o Indemnity of 98000 as actual damages, and to pay costs of suit
- CA: modified penalty of imprisonment HOWEVER, RPC Art. 5, paragraph 27 provides for a remedy when the penalty is
o 4 years and 2 months of prision correccional, as minimum, to 8 deemed by court to be excessive. The remedy is not to suspend the execution of
years of prision mayor, as maximum, plus 1 year for each the sentence but to submit to the Chief Executive the reasons why the court
additional ₱10,000.00, or a total of 7 years. considers the said penalty to be non-commensurate with the act committed. The
court is tasked to inform the Chief Executive of the need for a legislation to provide
the proper penalty.
ISSUES AND RATIO
W/n imposing as basis for penalty the value of the money and property in 1932
(when RPC was enacted) on persons convicted of crimes involving property is still
valid.56 YES
- AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION that the penalty imposed is the
indeterminate penalty of imprisonment ranging from 3 years, 2 months

4 ART. 315. Swindling (estafa). – Any person who shall defraud another by any of the means mentioned hereinbelow. were Dean Jose Manuel Diokno, Dean Sedfrey M. Candelaria, Professor Alfredo F. Tadiar, the Senate President, and the
1. With unfaithfulness or abuse of confidence, namely: Speaker of the House of Representatives.
xxxx 7 ART. 5. Duty of the court in connection with acts which should be repressed but which are not covered by the law, and

(b) By misappropriating or converting, to the prejudice of another, money, goods, or any other personal property in cases of excessive penalties. - Whenever a court has knowledge of any act which it may deem proper to repress and
received by the offender in trust or on commission, or for administration, or under any other obligation involving the which is not punishable by law, it shall render the proper decision, and shall report to the Chief Executive, through the
duty to make delivery of or to return the same, even though such obligation be totally or partially guaranteed by a Department of Justice, the reasons which induce the court to believe that said act should be made the subject of penal
bond; or by denying having received such money, goods, or other property; x x x legislation.
5 Referring to penalty of imprisonment since the RPC bases the penalty on the value of the thing, and the gradation of In the same way, the court shall submit to the Chief Executive, through the Department of Justice, such statement as
the values were still based on 1932 socio-economic standards and not yet amended may be deemed proper, without suspending the execution of the sentence, when a strict enforcement of the provisions
6 Since the members of the division reached no unanimity on this question and since the issues are of first impression, of this Code would result in the imposition of a clearly excessive penalty, taking into consideration the degree of malice
they decided to refer the case to the Court en banc for consideration and resolution. Thus, several amici curiae were and the injury caused by the offense.
invited at the behest of the Court to give their academic opinions on the matter. Among those that graciously complied
Present penalties for estafa8 (and theft9) are NOT EXCESSIVE when compared to the - IPR was devised so that those who commit estafa involving higher amounts
proposed penalties (of 1:100)10 would receive higher penalties; this isn’t achieved anymore someone who
- In theft, if value of thing stolen is 6000 pesos, stole 142k would receive the same punishment as someone who stole
o Penalty based on the provision would be prision correccional in hundreds of millions (violates 2nd requisite)
its minimum and medium periods (6 months and 1 day to 4 years - IPR is limited by the existing conditions (violates 3rd requisite)
and 2 months). - COURT: what then would be the penalties??
o Penalty based on the proposal is imprisonment of arresto mayor o Should refer the matter to Congress
in its medium period to prision correccional minimum period (2
months and 1 day to 2 years and 4 months). Another Diokno argument: Art 315 constitutes cruel and unusual punishment
o Even when ISL is applied in both cases, they would still be similar 11 - Dean cites Solem v. Helm16
- If ratio of 1:100 would be applied in Estafa, the gap between the min and - COURT: said case cannot be applied in present case17
max amounts, which is the basis of determining the proper penalty to be
imposed, would be too wide and the penalty imposable would no longer Sereno argument: Court’s role is not merely to dispense justice, but also to prevent
be commensurate to the act committed and the damage caused 12 injustice. Court has also in the past taken into consideration changes in conditions
- Court also cited how other crimes would be affected, such as - It still really amounts to judicial legislation
Malversation13, Robbery with force upon things and Malicious Mischief14
- Court goes on to provide more examples not only on crimes punished by
the RPC, but also those punished by SPLs

Dean Diokno’s argument: the incremental penalty provided under Article 315 of the
RPC violates the Equal Protection Clause15 and this unconstitutional
- 10k may have been substantial in the past, but it isn’t anymore (violates 1 st
requisite)

8 SEE RPC Art. 315. Swindling (estafa). 14 In robbery, increasing the value of the thing unlawfully taken would make said value the sole basis of the penalty
9 SEE RPC Art. 309. Penalties instead of the element of force employed in entering the premises. In Malicious Mischief, an adjustment would make
10 NOTE: Court said that it is true that the penalty for Qualified Theft is high, but that the rationale for this is that the the penalty excessive and afflictive in nature despite the offense being a light felony according to Art 26 (said article
offender will have gravely abused the confidence reposed by the victim should be amended if ever, and the Court cannot do that)
11 Current: penalty is arresto mayor in its medium period to maximum period (2 months and 1 day to 6 months); 15 Test for valid classification:

Proposed: penalty is arresto menor in its maximum period to arresto mayor in its minimum period (21 days to 2 (1) The classification rests on substantial distinctions;
months) (2) It is germane to the purposes of the law;
12 Article 315, or the penalties for the crime of Estafa, the value would also be modified but the penalties are not (3) It is not limited to existing conditions only; and
changed, as follows: (4) It applies equally to all members of the same class.
1st. ₱12,000.00 to ₱22,000.00, will become ₱1,200,000.00 to ₱2,200,000.00, punishable by prision correccional 16 Dean Diokno avers that the United States Federal Supreme Court has expanded the application of a similar

maximum to prision mayor minimum (4 years, 2 months and 1 day to 8 years). Constitutional provision prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment, to the duration of the penalty, and not just its form.
2nd. ₱6,000.00 to ₱12,000.00 will become ₱600,000.00 to ₱1,200,000.00, punishable by prision correccional The court therein ruled that three things must be done to decide whether a sentence is proportional to a specific crime,
minimum to prision correccional medium (6 months and 1 day to 4 years and 2 months). viz.; (1) Compare the nature and gravity of the offense, and the harshness of the penalty; (2) Compare the sentences
3rd. ₱200.00 to ₱6,000.00 will become ₱20,000.00 to ₱600,000.00, punishable by arresto mayor maximum to imposed on other criminals in the same jurisdiction, i.e., whether more serious crimes are subject to the same penalty
prision correccional minimum (4 months and 1 day to 2 years and 4 months). or to less serious penalties; and (3) Compare the sentences imposed for commission of the same crime in other
4th. ₱200.00 will become ₱20,000.00, punishable by arresto mayor maximum (4 months and 1 day to 6 months). jurisdictions.
13 If the amount malversed is ₱200 (under the existing law), the amount now becomes ₱20,000 and the penalty is 17 In Solem what respondent therein deemed cruel was the penalty imposed by the state court of South Dakota after it

prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods (2y4m1d to 6 years). The penalty may not be commensurate took into account the latter’s recidivist statute and not the original penalty for uttering a "no account" check. Normally,
to the act of embezzlement of ₱20k compared to the acts committed by public officials punishable by a special law, i.e., the maximum punishment for the crime would have been five years imprisonment and a $5,000.00 fine. Nonetheless,
the Anti-Graft Law, wherein the injury caused to the government is not generally defined by any monetary amount, the respondent was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole under South Dakota’s recidivist statute
penalty (6y1m to 15y) under the Anti-Graft Law will now become higher. This should not be the case, because in the because of his six prior felony convictions. Surely, the factual antecedents of Solem are different from the present
crime of malversation, the public official takes advantage of his public position to embezzle the fund or property of the controversy.
government entrusted to him.
ON CIVIL INDEMNITY: 3. W/n CA erred in affirming that the prosecution was able to prove guilt beyond
Civil indemnity is, technically, NOT A PENALTY OR A FINE; hence, it CAN BE reasonable doubt. NO
INCREASED BY THE COURT WHEN APPROPRIATE.
- In a crime where a person dies, in addition to the penalty of Factual findings of the appellate court generally are conclusive, and carry even more weight
imprisonment, the accused is also ordered to pay the victim a sum of when said court affirms the findings of the trial court, absent any showing that the findings
money as restitution. Clearly, this award of civil indemnity due to the are totally devoid of support in the records, or that they are so glaringly erroneous as to
constitute grave abuse of discretion.
death of the victim could not be contemplated as akin to the value of a
thing that is unlawfully taken which is the basis in the imposition of the
proper penalty in certain crimes. Thus, the reasoning in increasing the
SEPARATE OPINIONS
value of civil indemnity awarded in some offense cannot be the same
Sereno
reasoning that would sustain the adoption of the suggested ratio.
 Concur in affirming the conviction but votes to apply the penalty for estafa
- It is apparent from Art. 220618 that the law only imposes a minimum
adjusted to the present value of the thing subject of the offense
amount for awards of civil indemnity, which is ₱3,000.00. The law did o Role of judiciary is not just to dispense justice but also to prevent
not provide for a ceiling.19 It is upon the discretion of the court injustice; court cannot shirk from its role of interpreting the law
 Legislative intent behind the provisions of the RPC is to create prison terms
In our jurisdiction, civil indemnity is awarded to the offended party as a kind of dependent upon the value of the property subject of the crime
monetary restitution or compensation to the victim for the damage or  Apply two doctrines
infraction that was done to the latter by the accused, which in a sense only o Law must be construed in favor of the accused
covers the civil aspect. o Presumed that the lawmaking body intended right and justice to prevail
 Customs, policy, laws, and practice evolve over time - so too does monetary values
 Adjusting the penalty would be no different from court’s adjustment of indemnity
ADDITIONAL ISSUES in crimes against persons
W/n CA erred in affirming TC’s decision. NO  In the past, the court has laid down guidelines and also made policies to determine
1. W/n CA erred in affirming admission of various prosecution evidence. NO the imposition of penalties
- Petitioner never objected to the admissibility, and also failed to raise an
Carpio
objection in his Comment
2. W/n CA erred in affirming that the information was not defective. NO
 Vote to partially grant the petition by declaring unconstitutional Art. 315 par. 1,
RPC mandating the imposition of maximum penalty based on the amount of the
- Information did not fix when jewelry should be returned. NO
fraud exceeding P22,000
- Date of occurrence of crime is different in information and in testimony.
 Imposing the penalty without adjustment amounts to cruel and unusual
NO
punishment
- Information was substantially complete and objections as to the matters o Penalty is disproportionate to the crime
of form and substance of the Information cannot be first made on appeal o Maximum penalty of estafa is unrelated to its purpose
2. W/n CA erred in affirming that demand to return the subject, an element of the
offense, was proven. NO Brion
- No specific type of proof for demand is required  Concur with ponencia

18Art. 2206. The amount of damages for death caused by a crime or quasi-delict shall be at least three thousand pesos, (2) If the deceased was obliged to give support according to the provisions of Article 291, the recipient who is not
even though there may have been mitigating circumstances. In addition: an heir called to the decedent's inheritance by the law of testate or intestate succession, may demand support from
(1) The defendant shall be liable for the loss of the earning capacity of the deceased, and the indemnity shall be the person causing the death, for a period not exceeding five years, the exact duration to be fixed by the court;
paid to the heirs of the latter; such indemnity shall in every case be assessed and awarded by the court, unless the (3) The spouse, legitimate and illegitimate descendants and ascendants of the deceased may demand moral
deceased on account of permanent physical disability not caused by the defendant, had no earning capacity at the damages for mental anguish by reason of the death of the deceased.
time of his death; 19 Corollarily, moral damages under Article 222039 of the Civil Code also does not fix the amount of damages that can

be awarded.
o Court has no jurisdiction to determine the propriety of imposing the
penalties prescribed under the other crimes in the RPC
o Adjusting the penalty would amount to judicial legislation

Abad
 Dissent
o Reviewing the correctness of the penalty imposed is within the power of
the court
o Amounts to cruel and unusual punishment
o Clear intent of the law is to be harmonized to the economic realities of
the present

Leonen
 Concur with conviction; dissent on the penalty
 Court’s duty is to interpret the law, to provide meaning to law’s language and make
laws written in a different historical context
 No reason why court cannot adopt a universally acceptable formula for present
value