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Article 315, par.

2(a) of the Revised Penal Code penalizes fraud or deceit when


committed as follows:
xxxx
2. by means of any of the following false pretense or fraudulent acts executed prior to
or simultaneously with the commission of fraud:
(a)
by using fictitious name, or actions, falsely pretending to possess power,
influence, qualification, property, credit, agency, business or imaginary transactions, or
by means of other similar deceits.
The elements of the crime of estafa under the foregoing provision are: (1) there must
be a false pretense, fraudulent acts or fraudulent means; (2) such false pretense,
fraudulent act or fraudulent means must be made or executed prior to or simultaneously
with the commission of the fraud; (3) the offended party must have relied on the false
pretense, fraudulent act or fraudulent means and was thus induced to part with his
money or property; and (4) as a result thereof, the offended party suffered damage.[13]
Petitioners presented themselves toLourdesas persons possessing the authority and
capacity to engage in the financing of used vehicles in behalf of Final Access Marketing.
This was a clear misrepresentation considering their previous knowledge not only of
Erlindas complaint but also of several others as regards the failure of Final Access
Marketing to deliver the motor vehicles bought. Lourdesrelied on their
misrepresentations and parted with her money. Almost a week passed by, but
petitioners and Rule did not deliver the said motor vehicle. They also did not fulfill their
subsequent promise to provide a replacement or to refund her payment.
WhenLourdesvisited the office of Final Access Marketing to demand the return of her
money, it was already closed. She could not locate any of them except for Franco who
denied any wrongdoing. Consequently, she suffered damage.
If indeed they were innocent as they claimed to be, Erlindas complaint to petitioners
and the 12 other similar complaints with Hoy Gising regarding undelivered vehicles
should have dissuaded petitioners from further soliciting customers. The fact that they
continued to offer for sale a second-hand car to Lourdes is indicative of deceit and their
complicity in the conspiracy to commit estafa. The manner in which petitioners

transacted business with Erlinda and Lourdes as well as their awareness of 12 other
similar complaints with Hoy Gising were sufficient to establish the existence of
a modus operandi.
Francos attempt to escape culpability by feigning ignorance of the previously failed
transactions on the delivery of vehicles by Final Access Marketing cannot be
countenanced. As gleaned from the testimony of Erlinda, Franco was already with Final
Access Marketing at the time these transactions occurred. She was therefore familiar
with the companys procedure and policy on the sales of second-hand vehicles. She even
accompaniedLourdesto showrooms and introduced her to Besario and Rule.
As an employee of Final Access Marketing, Franco was expected to be familiar with its
daily activities. It would be unworthy of belief that she did not know of the complaints
for the unexplained failure of Final Access Marketing to deliver vehicles to its
customers. Human nature and experience would compel her to make queries on her
own to discover the reasons for the non-delivery of the vehicles. Her continued
insistence in solicitingLourdesas a client by introducing herself as an Assistant
Administrative Coordinator of Final Access Marketing with the ability to provide
financing for a vehicle of her choice is therefore indicative of fraudulent
misrepresentation.
The petitioners also contend that they are not criminally liable since the transaction
withLourdeswas a contract of sale. This contention does not deserve serious
consideration. While the fact that they entered into a contract withLourdescannot be
denied, the transaction transpired due to their deceit. It was their misrepresentation
that inducedLourdesto sign the Sales Proposal agreement and part with her money.
In denying any criminal wrongdoing, petitioners blame their co-accused, Torres, whom
they claim to be the owner of Final Access Marketing. The shifting of blame is common
among conspirators in their attempt to escape liability. It is a desperate strategy to
compensate for their weak defense. We are not readily influenced by such a proposition
since its obvious motive is to distort the truth and frustrate the ends of justice.[14]
The Penalty
Having committed the crime of estafa, the petitioners must suffer the proper penalties
provided by law. The law imposes the penalty of prision correccional in its maximum

period to prision mayor in its minimum period if the amount is over P12,000.00 but
does not exceed P22,000.00. If the amount swindled exceeds P22,000.00, the penalty
shall be imposed in its maximum period, adding one year for each
additional P10,000.00, but the total penalty which may be imposed shall not exceed 20
years.[15] To determine the minimum of the indeterminate penalty, prision
correccional in its maximum period toprision mayor in its minimum period shall be
reduced by one degree, that is, to prision correccional in its minimum and medium
periods. The minimum period of the indeterminate penalty shall be taken from the full
range of the penalty of prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods, which
is six (6) months and one (1) day to four (4) years and two (2) months. With the amount
of the fraud at P80,000.00, there is P58,000.00 in excess of P22,000.00. Five years
must therefore be added to the maximum period of the prescribed penalty ranging from
six (6) years, eight (8) months and twenty-one (21) days to eight (8) years. Thus, the
maximum term of the penalty would range from eleven (11) years, eight (8) months and
twenty-one (21) days to thirteen (13) years. This is in accord with our ruling in People v.
Temparada,[16] viz:
The prescribed penalty for estafa under Article 315, par. 2(d) of the RPC, when the
amount defrauded exceeds P22,000.00, is prision correccional maximum to prision
mayorminimum. The minimum term is taken from the penalty next lower or anywhere
withinprision correccional minimum and medium (i.e. from 6 months and 1 day to 4
years and 2 months). Consequently, the RTC correctly fixed the minimum term for the
five estafacases at 4 years and 2 months of prision correccional since this is within the
range ofprision correccional minimum and medium.
On the other hand, the maximum term is taken from the prescribed penalty
of prisioncorreccional maximum to prision mayor minimum in its maximum period,
adding 1 year of imprisonment for every P10,000.00 in excess of P22,000.00, provided
that the total penalty shall not exceed 20 years. However, the maximum period of the
prescribed penalty of prision correccional maximum to prision mayor minimum is
not prision mayor minimum as apparently assumed by the RTC. To compute the
maximum period of the prescribed penalty, prision correccional maximum
to prision mayor minimum should be divided into three equal portions of time each of
which portion shall be deemed to form one period in accordance with Article 65 of the
RPC. Following this procedure, the maximum period of prision correccional maximum
to prision mayor minimum is from 6 years, 8 months and 21 days to 8 years. The

incremental penalty, when proper, shall thus be added to anywhere from 6 years, 8
months and 21 days to 8 years, at the discretion of the court.
In computing the incremental penalty, the amount defrauded shall be subtracted
byP22,000.00, and the difference shall be divided by P10,000.00. Any fraction of a year
shall be discarded as was done starting with the case of People v. Pabalan in consonance
with the settled rule that penal laws shall be construed liberally in favor of the accused. x
x x.
WHEREFORE, the petitions for review on certiorari are DENIED. The Decision of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 27414 which affirmed with modification the
Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 52, in Criminal Case No. 99-173688
convicting petitioners Lyzah Sy Franco and Steve Besario of the crime of estafa
is AFFIRMED with further modification that the indeterminate prison term
imposed on each of the petitioners is four (4) years and two (2) months of prision
correccional as minimum to thirteen (13) years of reclusion temporal as maximum.