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EN BANC

G.R. No. L-16806 December 22, 1961


SERGIO DEL ROSARIO, Petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

CONCEPCION, J.:

Accused of counterfeiting Philippine treasury notes, Sergio del Rosario, Alfonso Araneta and Benedicto del Pilar were convicted by the Court of First
Instance of Davao of illegal possession of said forged treasury notes and sentenced to an indeterminate penalty ranging from 8 years and 1 day to 10
years and 1 day of prision mayor, and pay a fine of P5,000, without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, as well as a proportionate part of
the costs. On appeal, the judgment was affirmed by the Court of Appeals, except insofar as the maximum of said indeterminate penalty which was
increased to 10 years, 8 months and 1 day of prision mayor. The case is before us on appeal by certiorari taken by Sergio del
Rosario.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library

It appears that, after showing to complainant Apolinario del Rosario the Philippine one-peso bills Exhibits C, E and G and the Philippine two-peso bill
Exhibit H, and inducing him to believe that the same were counterfeit paper money manufactured by them, although in fact they were genuine
treasury notes of the Philippine Government one of the digits of each of which had been altered and changed, the aforementioned defendants had
succeeded in obtaining P1,700.00 from said complainant, in the City of Davao, on June 23, 1955, for the avowed purpose of financing the
manufacture of more counterfeit treasury notes of the Philippines. The only question raised in this appeal is whether the possession of said Exhibits
C, E, G and H constitutes a violation of Article 168 of the Revised Penal Code. Appellant maintains that, being genuine treasury notes of our
government, the possession thereof cannot be illegal. We find no merit in this pretense.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library

It is not disputed that a portion of the last digit 9 of Serial No. F-79692619 of Exhibit C, had been erased and changed so as to read 0 and that similar
erasures and changes had been made in the penultimate digit 9 in Serial No. F-79692691 of Exhibit E, in the last digit in Serial No. D-716326 of
Exhibit G, and in the last digit 9 of Serial No.
D-716329 of Exhibit H.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library

Articles 160 and 169 of the Revised Penal Code read:

ART. 168. Illegal possession and use of false treasury or bank notes and other instruments of credit. - Unless the act be one of those coming under
the provisions of any of the preceding articles, any person who shall knowingly use or have in his possession, with intent to use any of the false or
falsified instruments referred to in this section, shall suffer the penalty next lower in degree than that prescribed in said
articles.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library

ART. 169. How forgery is committed. - The forgery referred to in this section may be committed by any of the following means;chanrobles virtual law
library

1. By giving to a treasury or bank note or any instrument payable to bearer or to order mentioned therein, the appearance of a true and
genuine document.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library

2. By erasing, substituting, counterfeiting or altering by any means the figures, letters, words or signs contained therein.

It is clear from these provisions that the possession of genuine treasury notes of the Philippines any of "the figures, letters, words or signs
contained" in which had been erased and or altered, with knowledge of such notes, as they were used by petitioner herein and his co-defendants in
the manner adverted to above, is punishable under said Article 168, in relation to Article 166, subdivision (1), of the Revised Penal Code (U.S. vs.
Gardner, 3 Phil., 398; U.S. vs. Solito, 36 Phil., 785).chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library

Being in accordance with the facts and the law, the decision appealed from is, accordingly, affirmed, with costs against petitioner Sergio del Rosario.
It is so ordered.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library

Bengzon, C.J., Padilla, Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Reyes, J.B.L., Barrera, Dizon and De Leon, JJ., concur.
Paredes, J., took no part.
FIRST DIVISION
[G.R. No. 1468. March 14, 1904. ]
THE UNITED STATES, Complainant-Appellee, v. ALONSO P. GARDNER, Defendant-Appellant.

DECISION

TORRES, J. :

On February 20, 1903, the prosecuting attorney of the city of Manila filed an information in the Court of First Instance of that city charging the three
defendants with the crime of the falsification of notes or documents equivalent to current money payable to bearer, in that on or about the 16th
day of January, 1903, the said defendants, Gardner, Jameson, and Kilp, in the city of Manila, Philippine Islands, willfully, feloniously, ands with intent
to gain, forged two notes or documents which passed as current money under the laws of these islands, with the intent of circulating them, and
forged and attempted to make an imitation of two United States silver certificates of the value of $10 each, money of the United States, altering and
changing the numbers, seals, letters, and inscriptions on two $1 United States silver certificates which pass a current money in the Philippine Islands,
in order that they might appear on the face as of the value of $10 each; this contrary to the statute in the case made and provided.

After the complaint was filed and before the trial commenced, at the request of the prosecuting attorney the case was dismissed with respect to the
defendants Jameson and Kilp under the provisions of section 34 of the General Orders, No. 58, and they were accordingly discharged, the
prosecution being continued solely against Alonso P. Gardner.

From the testimony taken at the trial, it appears that on January 16, 1903, while the accused, Gardner and James Jameson, were in the "Soldiers
Institute" situated in Santa Cruz, this city, Gardner ordered Jameson to go to a bookstore in front of the post-office to buy a bottle of mucilage and a
blue pencil, and for that purpose gave him half a dollar. This was about half past 3 in the afternoon. Jameson got the mucilage and the pencil,
Gardner not having told him for what he wanted them. As a witness Jameson identified one of the blue pencils which was shown him at the trial.
Jameson’s testimony is corroborated by S. A. Presby, the owner of the Manila Stationary Company, who identified the witness Jameson, as also the
pencil and a bottle of mucilage, which were exhibited to him as those which he had sold to Jameson between 1 o’clock and 2:30 that afternoon.
Between 6 and 7 o’clock that night the witness Jameson, at the invitation of the accused, went by tram car to the Malate barracks, where they
found a soldier, named William, with whom the accused had some conversation. They then left the barracks, and while passing by a tailor shop
Gardner handed Jameson a bill asking him to change it for silver and promised to give him half its value. Jameson drew Gardner’s attention to the
fact that the bill was not good, to which Gardner replied that he knew that, and that he had made it with mucilage, saying to Jameson, "Go along,
get it changed, and I will give you half." Jameson cashed the bill and received 25 pesos for it and the went up to the Soldiers’ Institute, where he
found Gardner. This witness described the bill which was so exchanged by him, together with the alteration which had been made in it, and
identified the bill which was exhibited to him at the trial as the one which had given to the Chinese tailor, numbered 54226499, and testified that
this bill had been given him by the defendant Gardner, in whose possession he had also seen some Confederate bills. The silver certificate identified
by this witness appears on page 91 of the record.

Jameson also testified that when he delivered to Gardner the money obtained by changing the note the latter gave him $7 and $8, and that Gardner
at that time had another bill on which he had pasted a number "10" very similar to the bill which he had given the witness, and that this bill
remained in Gardner’s possession; that afterwards the witness Jameson and defendant Gardner went together to the town of Calamba, where the
witness saw that Gardner had nine Confederate $10 bills which he tried to pass in a Filipino drug store; at the time he tried to pass these bills there
were three persons unknown to the witness in the store, one them an American and the other two Filipinos. The Chinaman Ah Fun, resident of No.
32 Calle Nueva, Malate, testified that he had given 25 pesos in exchange for an American bill upon which th number 10 had been pasted; that he did
not observe this defect in the bill at first, as it was dark, but observed it very shortly afterwards and immediately went to the police station to
complain. This witness identified the bill numbered 54226499 as the one which had been delivered to him by James Jameson, and testified that the
latter told him it was a ten-dollar bill.

The witness William P. Kilp testified that he was with Gardner one Saturday night, the date of which he does not remember, in a house of
prostitution in Sampaloc and that while in this house the witness attempted to pass a bill which he had received from the accused while they were
together in the Soldiers’ Institute a short time before; that he handed this bill to the owner of the house N0. 106, that the woman shortly after
returned it to him saying she could not change it because it was bad. This witness identified the bill on folio 91 of the record, numbered 36579681;
he testified that after the woman returned the bill to him he handed it back to the accused who told him at the time that it was not a good bill and
that he had got it from a man called Bennet; this witness also testified that he had seen some other Confederate bills in the possession of the
defendant.

George W. Marshall, a detective, testified that he was in the Sampaloc station when the witness Kilp was taken there under arrest in connection
with the attempt to pass a one-dollar bill raised to a ten, and identified the bill in question as that 36579681, now on page 91 of the record. Jerome
Patterson, a policeman, testified that he saw William F. Kilp in the house of the prostitution No. 106 and that Kilp while there handed a $10 note to
the mistress of the house, who offered him 20 pesos for it; that upon this the witness asked Kilp why he accepted 20 pesos for it when a Chinaman
would give him 25 for it, to which Kilp replied that the Chinaman only had 6 or 8 pesos; that shortly after the woman received the bill she came back
with it and refused to keep it, and that then Kilp approached the light for the purpose of examining it as did some others who were and also the
witness; that when the witness asked Kilp where he got that bill the latter told him he got it at No. 47 Balicbalic in a Chinese house; that just as this
time a stranger who was lying on a bench tree said that he was present when the bill was given to Kilp; that this man was about the same size as the
accused and that after Kilp was taken to the police station the witness returned and looked for the man who had been lying on the bench but could
not find him.

Maria Sanchez, the keeper of the house of prostitution identified the defendant as having been in her house with the defendant Kilp, who tried to
cash a $10 American bill and said she was about to give him the change but observed on approaching the light that the number was stuck on to the
bill; that she then returned it and said she would not change it because it was bad; that when Kilp was taken to the police station by Patterson, the
police officer, it was found that the bill was bad; that while this was going on the defendant Gardner was sitting on a bench; this witness identified
the bill numbered 36579681 as the same which had been handed her by Kilp.

Article 289 of the Penal Code provides that those who falsify bank notes or other instruments or documents payable to bearer, or coupons thereof,
the issue of which has been authorized by law, or those who introduced such in the Philippine Islands, shall be punished by cadena temporal in its
medium degree to cadena perpetua and a fine of from 6,250 to 6,250 pesetas.

The silver certificates in the record are documents payable to bearer or documents of credit duly issued by virtue of the Federal laws in force in the
United States, and are included in this article of the code as documents payable to bearer.
Each one of these certificates may be considered as paper money, the purpose of which is to take the place of cash by a representative value, the
same as any other document of credit, but they can not be considered to be money as they are not a commodity having an intrinsic value as has
coined money.

The falsification of bank notes and of documents of credit payable to bearer and issued by the State, to which class the two certificates in question
belong, is an act severely punished by the law as tending to bring such documents into discredit and because such offenses produce a lack of
confidence on the part of the holders of said documents to the prejudice of the interests of society and of the State, and for this reason the law
punishes this crime more severely than it does not the counterfeiting of money, in consideration of the fact that it is easier to counterfeit such
certificates, notes, and documents of credit payable to bearer than to make counterfeit coin, and that the profit which is derived therefrom by the
forger of such documents is greater and the incentive for the commission of such a crime more powerful.

The falsification of these silver certificates was affected by pasting little pieces of paper, on each one of which the figure "10" appears, over the
figure "1," which showed the true value of the certificate, and by obliterating with a pencil the number "1" wherever it appeared on the corners or
sides of the certificates for the purpose of making it appear that each one of them was worth $10 instead of $1, and by this means the sum of 25
Mexican pesos was fraudulently obtained in exchange for one of the said bills or certificates.

The accused, Alonso P. Gardner, pleaded not guilty. In his sworn testimony he stated that on the night of the 16th of January, 1903, while at supper
in the Soldier’s Institute, Jameson approached him and sat down beside him; that shortly afterwards Kilp arrived, who asked Jameson if he had any
money and the latter replied affirmatively, placing a bill on the table and told him to take what money he wanted; that thereupon the witness
picked up the bill, without noticing what it was and handed it to Kilp; that one afternoon Jameson put on a pair of trousers belonging to a man called
Studemeyer and shortly after found in the pocket of these trousers three Confederate notes, and when Jameson handed the witness one of these
notes in Sampaloc, asking him if it was good, the witness looked at it and said, "No; it is not good;" that Jameson had more than two notes of this
kind, from which the witness removed the numbers which had been pasted on to them; that when he went and looked for Jameson to whom he had
delivered a watch for sale on the night of the 16th of that month, he found him in a Chinaman’s store charging forged notes; that Kilp also passed a
forged note that night; that the witness did not know by whom these notes were forged; that on the night of the 17th the witness and Kilp were in
house No. 106 in Sampaloc, where he stretched out on a bench; that shortly after a woman aroused him asking him if a bill which she had was good;
that Kilp then told her that he knew to whom it belonged and the witness replied that it belonged to one Bennet; that he knew that Kilp passed the
false note in Sampaloc in exchange for silver and that Jameson did the same thing; he denied that received any part of the money which Jameson
obtained for the false note; that on the 16th of January, Jameson asked him for a peso with which to buy a bottle of mucilage, and the witness
handed Jameson 30 cents, which was all the money he had; that nothing was said about buying a blue pencil; that while he was in Bilibid he
endeavored to induced the said Kilp and Jameson to tell the truth and that they agreed to do so, but that only Kilp testified, and Jameson refused to
do so fearing that he would be charged with perjury if he changed his testimony.

These excuses given by the defendant, Gardner, do not overcome the result of the evidence for the prosecution. This proof of the defendant’s guilt
is shown beyond a reasonable doubt; that Alonso P. Gardner altered two silver certificates of the value of $1 each, for the purpose of gain,
circulating and passing them as of the apparent value of $10, and that he succeeded in cashing one of them and that with respect to the other his
criminal purpose was frustrated because the fact that the bill was forged was observed at the time.

The testimony of the witnesses called by the defense do not show that Gardner had nothing to do with the alterations made in these two
certificates. The evidence is that the defendant bought a bottle of mucilage with which the figure "10" was stuck on a $1 note over the figure "1"
and provided himself with a blue pencil with which the other figures on the certificate were obliterated; that while he was in prison he endeavored
to induce the witnesses Jameson and Kilp, of whose services he availed himself for the purpose of circulating the forged notes, to testify in his favor.
This circumstance corroborates the testimony for the prosecution and gives greater weight and credibility to the witnesses against Gardner, who it
thus appears is the sole principal by direct participation in the crime of falsification herein prosecuted.

No circumstances of mitigation or aggravation were present in the commission of the crime and consequently the proper penalty should be imposed
in its medium grade.

With respect to the points made in the brief for the defense, it is sufficient to show that Jameson and Kilp testified under oath at the trial as
witnesses and not as accomplices in the crime, and that the conviction of the defendant rests not only on their testimony but also on other evidence
for the prosecution and upon evidence in the record considered as a whole.

For these reasons we are of the opinion that the judgment of the trial court should be reversed and Alonso P. Gardner should be condemned to the
penalty of seventeen years four months and one day of cadena temporal, with the accessories of the civil interdiction of the defendant during the
period of the penalty, that of absolute perpetual disqualification and subjection to the vigilance of the authorities during his lifetime, to the payment
of 25 Mexican pesos to the Chinaman Ah Fun, and to the payment of the costs.

Judgment will be entered accordingly, and the case will be remanded to the court below with a certified copy of this decision for execution. So
ordered.

Arellano, C.J., Willard and Mapa, JJ., concur.


SECOND DIVISION
[G.R. No. L-9007. May 29, 1957.]
GREGORIO FURIA, Petitioner, v. COURT OF APPEALS, Respondent.

DECISION

PADILLA, J.:

This is an appeal by certiorari under Rule 46 to review a judgment of the Court of Appeals.

The petitioner was charged in the Court of First Instance of Manila with estafa thru falsification of a public, official and commercial document in an
information filed by the Office of the City Fiscal (criminal case No. 19102). After trial the Court found him guilty of the crime defined and punished
under article 166, in connection with article 315, of the Revised Penal Code, and sentenced —

. . . him to suffer an indeterminate penalty of from SIX (6) YEARS of prision correccional to EIGHT (8) YEARS and FOUR MONTHS of prision mayor, to
pay a fine of P2,000, to indemnify the offended party in the amount of P384.96, without further subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and
to pay one-fourth of the costs. (Annex A.)

On appeal, the Court of Appeals convicted him of estafa through falsification of an official and commercial document, as penalized in article 315,
paragraph 3, subsection 2, in connection with articles 172 and 48, as amended, of the Revised Penal Code, and sentenced him to suffer —

. . . from two (2) years and four (4) months to five (5) years, two (2) months and eight (8) days of prision correccional, to pay a fine in the sum of
P2,000, to indemnify the offended party in the amount of P384.96, or to suffer the corresponding subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency of
both fine and indemnity, to the accessories of the law and to pay in the first instance 1/4 of the costs. (Annex B.)

The petitioner contends that the Court of Appeals committed the following errors:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

1. The respondent erred in ignoring entirely the first error assigned by the appellant in his brief to the effect that the trial court erred in allowing the
prosecution to present evidence in (at) variance with the allegations in the information over the objection of the defense;
2. The respondent erred in declaring that the amount of the check in question was paid to the supposed payee;
3. The respondent erred in holding the appellant criminally and civilly liable for an alleged misrepresentation to the witnesses, Severino Aznar and
Simeon Monzon;
4. The respondent erred in finding the appellant guilty as charged;
5. The respondent erred in not imposing the minimum of the minimum of the indeterminate penalty; and
6. The respondent erred in not granting the motion for reconsideration filed by the Appellant.

The information filed against the petitioner and his co- defendants is as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

That on or about the 20th of June, 1949, in the city of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, conspiring and confederating together and helping each
other, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud one Ines B. Bentoso and/or the Bureau of Posts, a government entity under the
Department of Public Works and Communications of the Republic of the Philippines in the following manner, to wit: the said accused Severino Aznar
and Juana Doe, the latter with identity and whereabouts still unknown, having somehow obtained or come into possession of a United States
Depository check No. 917,109 dated May 11, 1949 in the amount of P384.96 payable to said Ines B. Bentoso, which is a public, official and
commercial document in that the same is a written act of the sovereign authority of the United States, a foreign country and recognized as a
negotiable instrument by the Mercantile Law, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously write, print, imitate and forge or cause to be
written, printed, imitated and forged the signature of said Ines B. Bentoso at the back of said check and the said accused Gregorio Furia and Simeon
Monzon, the latter an employee in the Manila Post Office who taking advantage of his position thereat he being known to his co-employees in said
office who in one way or another has something to do with the cashing of said check, signed their signatures at the back of said check as identifiers
thereof, thus causing it to appear that the said Ines B. Bentoso duly signed said U. S. Depository check No. 917,109 and that she (Ines B. Bentoso)
took part in the transaction, although they knew she did not, thereby making untruthful statements in the narration of facts; that as soon as said U.
S. Depository check No. 917,109 had been falsified in the manner just described, the said accused, with intent to profit thereby and in furtherance of
their conspiracy introduced the said accused Juana Doe as the real Ines B. Bentoso to the teller of the Postal Savings Bank who wanted her check to
be cashed, as in fact the said check was cashed for the amount of P384.96, they (all of them) knowing fully well that the said check had not been
signed by the payee thereof, Ines B. Bentoso, neither has she authorized anyone of them to act for her, and it is only a forgery; and the said accused,
once in possession of said cash amount of P384.96, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously misappropriate, misapply and convert the
said amount to their own personal use and benefit, to the damage and prejudice of said Ines B. Bentoso and/or the Bureau of Posts in the
aforementioned sum of P384.96, Philippine currency. (See Annex A.)

Both the trial and appellate courts found that —

Sometime on June 21, 1949, Gregorio Furia, an employee of the Investigation Section of the Manila Health Department, City Hall, Manila,
approached his co-employee Severino Aznar and introduced him to a woman whom he referred to as Ines Bentoso, allegedly a townmate of his.
Furia also told Aznar that this woman was the payee of check No. 917107 (Exhs. A & A-1) and that he wanted him Aznar) to help said woman in
cashing said check. Knowing somebody in the Bureau of Posts, Aznar accompanied Furia and the alleged Ines Bentoso to that bureau and there he
sought Simeon Monzon, an employee of the Bureau of Posts, and introduced Furia as his officemate and the woman who went with them as Ines
Bentoso, the payee of the check. In order to convince Aznar and Monzon of the true identity of Ines Bentoso, they presented a residence certificate
wherein the name "Ines Bentoso," of Agusan province, appeared. Forthwith Monzon asked Aznar to sign the back of the check and afterwards he
himself signed it also and then accompanied the group to the window of the paying teller. There the full amount of the check, P384.96, was paid to
the woman (Exhs. A & A-1).

It also appears that Ines B. Bentoso, 38 years of age, widow, teacher and a resident of Mambalili, Agusan, was a war damage claimant with card No.
100386 of the U.S. -Phil. War Damage Commission and that the check in question was intended by said Commission to satisfy her claim (Exh. B.) .
However, she did not receive the check and neither did she affix her signature thereon or authorized anyone to do so for her, and she is positive that
she does not know Severino Aznar nor Simeon Monzon.

Because of these facts Severino Aznar, Gregorio Furia, Simeon Monzon and Juana Doe were accused of estafa through falsification of a public and
commercial document before the Court of First Instance of Manila, but upon motion of the Fiscal, Severino Aznar and Simeon Monzon were
discharged from the information to be utilized as witnesses for the State. And as Juana Doe was never arrested nor identified, the case proceeded
only as against Gregorio Furia who, after proper proceedings, was found guilty of the crime charged in the information and sentenced to suffer the
indeterminate penalty of from 6 years of prision correccional to 8 years and 4 months of prision mayor, to pay a fine of P2,000, to indemnify the
offended party in the amount of P384.96, without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to pay 1/4 of the costs.

Not satisfied with this decision Gregorio Furia brought the matter up to Us on appeal and in this instance his counsel assigns numerous errors as
committed by the trial court, all of which having to do either with the appreciation of the evidence against appellant or in finding him guilty and
sentencing him to the penalty aforementioned instead of acquitting him at least on reasonable doubt.

There is no dispute that the check for P384.96 (Exhs. A & A-1) was intended for Mrs. Ines B. Bentoso in payment of her aforementioned war damage
claim, and there is no question either that she has not signed, nor authorized anybody to sign said check and collect for her the amount represented
therein, nor in any way intervened in the cashing of said check. The only facts subject of controversy are appellant’s denial of having accompanied
the woman posing herself as Ines Bentoso to the Manila Post Office in cashing the check, and of having assured Severino Aznar and Simeon Monzon
that the woman with him, whose signature appears at the back of check No. 917107, was Ines Bentoso. He contends that on June 20, 1949, a
townmate of his, by the name of Venancio Sianteng, approached him in his office together with a woman who was introduced to him as Ines
Bentoso; that Sianteng requested him to help them so that his woman companion would cash her check; that he, in turn, accompanied them to
Severino Aznar, an officemate of appellant, and asked the former to extend to Sianteng and the woman a helping hand; that Aznar promised him
that he would try his best, after which the trio left for the Bureau of Posts.

After due consideration of the evidence produced, We find that the version of the case, as narrated by appellant, is utterly untenable. It appears on
record that before contacting Aznar appellant had already accompanied the supposed payee to the Bureau of Posts but was not able to cash the
check in question because he did not know anybody in said office, and appellant’s bare statement cannot prevail over the testimony of Simeon
Monzon and Severino Aznar who declared that appellant was present in the Bureau of Posts when the check in question was cashed. If appellant’s
contention about the intervention of Sianteng were true, it would be strange that he would not have presented this men as a witness in his behalf,
or made him to be called by the authorities, and We entertain no doubt that appellant was the mastermind who engineered the whole scheme to
defraud either Ines B. Bentoso or the Government. Consequently, We cannot declare that the lower court committed any error in finding appellant
guilty of the crime he is charged with in the information.

True, contrary to what is alleged in the information, the trial and the appellate courts found that the petitioner did not sign on the back of the check
in question to identify the signature of the fictitious woman as payee, but that he approached his co-employee Severino Aznar, introduced to him
the fictitious woman as the payee of the check, and enlisted Aznar’s help to cash the check, who introduced her to Simeon Monzon, an employee of
the Bureau of Posts, who in turn accompanied her to the window of the paying teller. It was Monzon and Aznar who signed the check to identify the
signature of the payee upon the petitioner’s assurance that the fictitious woman was the payee and that the signature written on the check was
hers. Nevertheless, although the evidence for the prosecution is at variance with the fact alleged in the information that the petitioner together with
Simeon Monzon signed on the back of the check to identify the signature of the fictitious payee, yet as the information charges conspiracy between
the defendants to commit the crime, the evidence for the prosecution to show and prove such conspiracy could not be objected to and the
overruling of the objection is not a reversible error. Had it not been for the introduction by the petitioner of the fictitious woman to his officemate
Severino Aznar who was assured by the petitioner that the fictitious woman was Ines B. Bentoso and the payee of the check, neither Aznar nor
Monzon would have signed on the back of the check to identify the signature of the fictitious woman as payee. The identification of the latter and of
her signature made possible the cashing of the check and the misappropriation of the amount by the petitioner and the fictitious woman other than
the real payee.

The crime committed is the complex crime of estafa by means of falsification of an official and commercial document defined and penalized in
articles 315 and 172 of the Revised Penal Code. The penalty provided for the more serious crime is prision correccional in its medium and maximum
periods which must be imposed in its maximum period pursuant to article 48 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, or from 4 years, 9 months and
11 days to 6 years of prision correccional; and applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law the petitioner is sentenced to suffer a minimum of 4
months and 1 day of arresto mayor and a maximum of 6 years of prision correccional. Modified as to penalty only the rest of the judgment appealed
from is affirmed, with costs against the petitioner.

Bengzon, Montemayor, Reyes, A., Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Concepcion, Reyes, J.B.L. and Endencia, JJ., concur.
EN BANC
[G.R. No. L-22032. March 4, 1966.]
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. CAMOLO DIGORO alias PANONDIONGAN, Defendant-Appellant.

DECISION

BENGZON, J.:

An information charging counterfeiting of Treasury and Bank notes under Article 166 of the Revised Penal Code was filed in the Court of First
Instance of Lanao on June 3, 1959 against Camolo Digoro alias Panondiongan, Hadji Solaiman Digoro and Macasasab Dalomangcob. Amended
informations charging the same offense were filed on June 5, 1959 and August 13, 1959. On August 14, 1959, upon arraignment, all the accused
pleaded not guilty.

Subsequently, on March 20, 1961, the case was provisionally dismissed, upon the Provincial Fiscal’s motion, in regard to the accused Hadji Solaiman
Digoro and Macasasab Dalomangcob. On that date, however, an amended information was filed against Camolo Digoro alias Panondiongan. It was
captioned "For Illegal Possession of Counterfeit Treasury and Bank Notes."

As follows is the body of said amended information:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"The undersigned Provincial Fiscal accuses CAMOLO DIGORO alias PANONDIONGAN of the crime of ILLEGAL POSSESSION OF COUNTERFEIT
TREASURY AND BANK NOTES, committed as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"That on or about the 2nd day of June, 1959 and for sometime prior thereto, in the Municipal District of Taraka, Province of Lanao del Sur,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously with intent
to possess have in his possession, custody and control, 100-peso bill, 20 peso bill, 10-peso bill, 5-peso bill, 2- peso bill and 1-peso bill denominations
in resemblance or similitude to a genuine treasury or bank notes issued by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, to wit:chanrob1es
virtual 1aw library

1. 26 pieces 20-peso bill with serial No. AC 665154


2. 3 1-peso bill half face
3. 5 2-peso bill half face
4. 6 5-peso bill one half face
5. 5 10-peso bill one half face
6. 24 20-peso bill one half face
7. 4 100-peso bill one half face
8. 1 1-peso bill with serial No. DU176494
9. 2 100-peso bill with serial No. F00933623
10. 2 100-peso bill reverse bill with VICTORY printed
11. 1 20-peso bill with serial AD 838751
12. 1 20-peso bill with serial No. 66 SN FO2555823
13. 6 20-peso bill with serial No. SN AC 665154
14. 5 1-peso bill one half face
15. 1 20-peso bill with serial No. FO2555823
16. 1 20-peso bill one half face
17. 8 20-peso bill with serial No. SN BA 910645
18. 1 10-peso bill
19. 68 20-peso bill
20. 83 20-peso bill with serial No. AC 665154
21. 1 20-peso bill with serial No. V 177393

"Contrary to and in violation of Article 168 of the Revised Penal Code."cralaw virtua1aw library

A plea of guilty was entered thereto by the accused, with the assistance of counsel, on the same day. A decision was thereupon rendered sentencing
the accused to suffer imprisonment of not more than ten (10) years and one (1) day and not less than six (6) years and one (1) day, and to pay the
costs.

From said judgment the accused appealed to the Court of Appeals, on the ground that the amended information, to which he pleaded guilty, does
not charge an offense. Said appeal was thereafter certified to this Court, by resolution of the Court of Appeals dated September 11, 1963, as
involving questions purely of law.

Possession of false treasury or bank notes alone, without anything more, is not a criminal offense. For it to constitute an offense under Article 168 of
the Revised Penal Code the possession must be with intent to use said false treasury or bank notes. From the provision of the law the foregoing is
clear:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"ART. 168. Illegal possession and use of false treasury or bank notes and other instruments of credit. — Unless the act be one of those coming under
the provisions of any of the preceding articles, any person who shall knowingly use or have in his possession, with intent to use any of the false or
falsified instruments referred to in this section, shall suffer the penalty next lower in degree than that prescribed in said articles."cralaw virtua1aw
library

It follows that an information, as in this case, alleging possession of false treasury and bank notes without alleging intent to use the same but only
"intent to possess" them, charges no offense. A plea of guilty to such an information, therefore, does not warrant conviction of the accused. It is well
recognized that a plea of guilty is an admission only of the material allegations of the information but not that the facts thus alleged constitute an
offense (People v. Fortuno, 73 Phil. 407).

From the allegations in the information to which the accused pleaded guilty, intent to use cannot be clearly inferred. It is true it was stated that the
accused possessed the false treasury and bank notes "unlawfully and feloniously . . . . Contrary to and in violation of Article 168 of the Revised Penal
Code." Such statements, however, are not allegations of facts but mere conclusions that the facts alleged constitute the offense sought to be
charged. Furthermore, the information alleged "intent to possess" instead of intent to use. Such allegation precludes clear inference of intent to use,
in the absence of express allegation of the latter, since intent to use entails intent to part with the possession.
Wherefore, the judgment appealed is hereby set aside and the case is remanded for new prosecution under an appropriate and valid information.
Costs de oficio. So ordered.

Bengzon, C.J., Bautista Angelo, Concepcion, Reyes, J.B.L., Barrera, Dizon, Regala, Makalintal, Zaldivar and Sanchez, JJ., concur.
[ CA-No. 50, April 13, 1946 ]
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF AND APPELLEE, VS. NICASIO BARRAQUIA, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.

DECISION
PERFECTO, J.:

Appellant is accused of illegal possession and use of a false bank note of ten-peso denomination. The lower court found him guilty and, appreciating
in his favor the mitigating circumstance of lack of instruction, he being illiterate, sentenced him to suffer one year of prision correccional, to pay a
fine of P50, with the corresponding subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, to suffer the accessory penalties of the law, and to pay the costs.
On March 21, 1941, at about 3:50 p.m. appellant went to the post office of Calamba, Laguna, for the purpose of changing a ten-peso bank note,
Exhibit A. The postmaster told the accused that the note was false and placed it near the window, and thereupon sent for a policeman to arrest the
accused. The accused waited for the policeman to arrive at the post office. He admitted to the policeman that the note was his, and the policeman
took him to the municipal building where he was investigated by the chief of police. At the investigation, accused explained that the bank note was
passed to him in a game of cara y cruz in the barrio of Mamatid, Cabuyao, Laguna, the night previous.

Three witnesses testified for the prosecution.

1. Vicente C. Reventar, cashier of the provincial treasury of Laguna, testified that : he had experience in handling bank notes of ten-peso
denomination; he can distinguish a counterfeit from a genuine one; in his opinion, Exhibit A is a counterfeit because the printing is somewhat
blurred and the paper is very oily. (T.s.n., pp. 1, 2.)

2. Maximo Pascasio testified that: he is the postmaster of Calamba; on March 21, 1941, accused went to his office to change a bank note of ten-peso
denomination; he did not change it because he saw that it was not genuine; he ordered that a policeman be called; accused admitted to the
policeman that he is the owner of the bank note, and the policeman brought him for investigation to the municipal building; the policeman arrived
after seven minutes; when he told accused that the bank note was a counterfeit, the accused kept silent; accused had occasion to go away before
the arrival of the policeman, but he preferred to remain; accused followed the policeman to the municipal building without offering any resistance.
(T.s.n., pp. 3 to 5.)

3. Jose M. Elefaño testified that: he is the chief of police of Calamba; he investigated the accused who told him that he received the bank note in a
game of cara y cruz in the barrio of Mamatid, Cabuyao, the night before; accused could not identify the persons with whom he played the game,
many persons took part in the game, but the witness did not make any investigation because it took place in Mamatid, within the municipal
jurisdiction of Cabuyao. (T.s.n., pp. 6 to 8.)

Upon his own testimony accused appears to be an illiterate laborer, who does not know how to read or write. He testified that he happened to
know that the bill in question was a counterfeit only when the postmaster of Calamba informed him so, but for himself he cannot distinguish a
counterfeit note from a genuine one; and that if he had known that Exhibit A was a counterfeit, he would not have gone to the post office of
Calamba to have it changed.

Upon the evidence in this case, we cannot find enough ground to declare appellant guilty of the crime charged in the information. The only evidence
presented by the prosecution to the effect that the bank note in question was a counterfeit is the testimony of cashier Vicente C. Reventar of the
provincial treasury of Laguna who stated that the printing of the bill is somewhat blurred and the paper is very oily. We do not believe that these
two circumstances may be considered as enough basis for declaring the bill in question as falsified. The fact that the printing is somewhat blurred
may be attributed to the overuse of an old printed matter. That the bank bill is oily is not an evidence of counterfeit bill, because any bank note may
become oily by impregnation with an oily liquid. According to the decision of the lower court, the bill Exhibit A bears No. D462691D. No evidence
has been presented that this number does not check with the genuine one issued with the same number. There is no evidence as to the kind of bank
note Exhibit A was, and we are not in a position to determine what it was or to determine that the two circumstances mentioned by witness
Reventar may really be considered evidence of falsification, because Exhibit A has disappeared and could not be submitted to us for our
examination.

The facts brought out in this case do not prove conclusively either that the lost Exhibit A is a counterfeited bank note or that, if it really is, appellant
had knowledge of the fact before the postmaster of Calamba called a policeman to put him under custody.

For all the foregoing, the appellant is acquitted of the crime charged in the information, with costs de oficio.

Ozaeta, De Joya, Hilado, and Bengzon, JJ., concur.


EN BANC
[G.R. No. 1934. April 29, 1905. ]
THE UNITED STATES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. JUAN DE LEON, ET AL., Defendants-Appellants.

DECISION

CARSON, J. :

Juan de Leon and Albino de Leon, the accused in this case, were found guilty in the Court of First Instance of Tarlac of the crime of uttering a
counterfeit bank note, as defined and penalized in article 292 of the Penal Code, and sentenced to two years and five months of presidio
correccional and a fine of 625 pesetas and the payment of the costs of the proceedings.

The case comes, to this court upon the appeal of Albino de Leon, no appeal having been entered on behalf of his coaccused, Juan de Leon. It appears
that the accused were brothers, and that Juan de Leon having paid a debt with a counterfeit 50-peso note of the Spanish-Filipino Bank, and the
creditor having expressed some doubt as to the genuineness of the note, the said Albino de Leon assured him that the said note was good, and
promised that if it should prove to be counterfeit he himself would make good the loss. It was further shown that the note was in fact counterfeit
and that the said Albino de Leon refused to make good the amount as he had promised.

The crime with which the appellant was charged is defined and penalized in article 292 of the Penal Code, and in order that it may exist must be
shown affirmatively that the note in question was uttered knowing it to be counterfeit.

It was not proven that Albino de Leon was aware that the note in question was counterfeit when he aided his brother in uttering it, and guilty
knowledge of this fact being an essential element of the crime with which he was charged, he should not have been convicted either as principal or
accomplice.

The sentence appealed from should therefore be reversed in so far as it affects the said Albino de Leon, with the costs of this appeal and one-half
the costs of the proceedings in the trial court de oficio. So ordered.

Arellano, C.J., Torres, Mapa and Johnson, JJ., concur.


IN BANC
GR No. L-38329 October 10, 1933
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, Plaintiff-Appellee , vs. CO PAO ( aka JOSE R. MATEO, aka JOSE CO TINGPO, aka NGO BUN), Defendant-
Appellant .

VICKERS, J .:

This is an appeal from the following decision of Judge Francisco Santamaria of the Court of First Instance of Manila:

As after and on the same date the store owner needed money to change, he sent one of his dependents so that P10 paper currency delivered
another store and the employee came back with the information that the paper was faked. Then the owner of the store accused the defendant and
gave him a ticket saying that it was counterfeit and the defendant promised that the next day he would return the first bill sent to him by the
defendant, the Exhibit A, which had it kept, was also falsified, said store owner was angry and reported the incident to the police, handing out the
paper money Exhibit A, which turns out to be a counterfeit paper money, according to the statement of Adrians Rodenas, auxiliary cashier of the
Insular Treasury. Denounced by the owner of the Cheng Dy store, the policeman Maneja, at the suggestion of Cheng Dy,chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
chanrobles virtual law library

In which defense the defendant in this case denied having gone to the Cheng Dy store and paid for the purchases he made in that store with the
Exhibit A paper money, and to somehow enervate the statements of the Chinese, the first witnesses of the accusation in this case, the defendant
said that on August 1 this year, he was eating at the Cheng Dy store and then police officers arrived to arrest two Chinese people in the store,
accused of serving the public without being dressed in accordance with the ordinance, and then the defendant told the shop that they should not
wait to be arrested, but they should have appeared in the Municipal Court, and on this occasion the shop was angry telling him that the defendant
had not get into what he did not care. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

Although denied by the defendant, it is true for the Court that the witnesses of the accusation Cheng Dy and Kao Tay Tee testified, and these facts
declared by the aforementioned witnesses constitute an infraction of Article 168 of the Criminal Code Revised, and of this infraction the Judge
declares guilty to the defendant in this case, whom he condemns to two years (2), four months (4) and one day (1) of correctional prison , to pay a
fine of P1,000, with the corresponding subsidiary prison, in insolvency case, to compensate the Chinese Cheng Dy in the sum of P19.20, suffering
also the corresponding subsidiary prison, in case of insolvency, and the payment of the costs. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law
library

The forfeiture of counterfeit paper money of P10, Exhibit A, and the sumade P7.05, Exhibit B, confiscated by the police in the possession of the
accused, is to be applied to the compensation granted to the Chinese Cheng Dy, when this judgment acquires character. firm.

Appellant's attorney of trade makes the following assignments of error:

I. The lower court erred in finding that the accused-appellant passed Exhibit A, a supposed counterfeit P10 Bank of Philippine Islands note, to the
complaining witness, Cheng Dy (Cheng Li). chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

II. The lower court in which the evidence for the prosecution is utterly insufficient to sustain such a conviction and is honeycombed with material
contradictions and glaring inconsistencies. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

III. The lower court erred in which the prosecution failed to prove that the accused-appellant knowingly used or had in his possession, with intent to
use, the alleged false bank note Exhibit A. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

IV. The lower court erred in giving preponderance to the evidence for the prosecution over that of the defense. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
chanrobles virtual law library

V. Finally, the lower court erred in declaring the accused-appellant guilty of crime in the information and in sentencing him to suffer two years, four
months and one day of correctional prison and to pay a fine of P1,000, to indemnify Cheng Dy for the sum of P19.20, and costs.

We find no merit in the errors assigned. A careful examination of record convinces us of the guilt of the accused. The assumptions of the appellant's
attorney as to the facts are not supported by the evidence, and his conclusions are naturally erroneous. The evidence fully sustains the findings of
the trial judge. We shall discuss only one question, which is whether or not the accused knew that the bank was in question was a counterfeit when
he made use of it. As the Solicitor-General points out, two days after the defendant used the counterfeit ten-peso note in question to pay the
amount of 30 cents and got as change Q9.70, I have delivered another counterfeit bill of the same denomination to the offended party in payment
of an account of 50 cents and received the difference of P9.50 in lawful money.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

When patrolman Medina tried to investigate the defendant, I refused to make any explanation of his possession of the counterfeit, but stated that
he would know what to say in court. If the accused had been unaware that Exhibit A was false, he would undoubtedly have immediately explained
to the policeman the circumstances under which it came into his possession. The burden was on the defendant in the trial to explain satisfactorily
his possession of the counterfeit note. This I failed to do. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

The evidence shows that the defendant had no occupation except that of acting as agent for Chinese accused in the municipal court of Manila to
secure lawyers for them. It is not probable that a person depends on such uncertainty of livelihood would proffer to ten-peso bank note every time
he had occasion to pay the petty sum of 50 cents of less. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

The trial judge sentenced the defendant to suffer two years, four months, and one day of correctional imprisonment , or the minimum of
correctional prison in its medium period. The Solicitor-General recommends the penalty of major prison in its medium period (from eight years and
one day to ten years) in accordance with article 168, in relation to subparagraph 2 of article 166, of the Revised Penal Code.
chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

The appellant is guilty of a violation of Article 168 of the Revised Penal Code, which provides that a penalty will be punished by the penalty next
lower in degree than that prescribed in article 166 and 167 (will be punished with the penalty immediately below the one indicated in said articles).
Article 167 is not applicable to the case at bar. For forgoing treasury or bank notes or other documents payable to bearer, importing and uttering
such false or forged notes and documents, article 166 provides the following penalties:

1. By temporary seclusion in its minimum period and a fine not to exceed P10,000, if the document has been falsified, counterfeited, or altered is an
obligation or security of the United States of the Philippine Islands; chanrobles virtual law library
2. By prision mayor in its maximum period and a fine not to exceed P5,000, if the falsified or altered document is a circulating note issued by any
banking association duly authorized by law to issue the same; chanrobles virtual law library

3. By major prison in its medium period and a fine not to exceed P5,000, if the falsified or counterfeited document was issued by a foreign
government; chanrobles virtual law library

4. By major prison in its minimum period and a fine not to exceed P2,000, when the forged or altered document is a circulating note or bill issued by
a foreign bank duly authorized therefor.

The penalty applicable in the present case is that lower than that provided in case 2 of article 166. Is it major prison in its medium period, as
recommended by the Solicitor-General, or correctional prison in its maximum period, as stated in one of the leading commentaries on the Revised
Penal Code, in Accordance With the decision of esta court in the case of the United States vs . Sources (4 Phil., 404)? In the present case the proper
penalty is major prison in its medium period. The rules for graduating criminals are found in article 61 of the Revised Penal Code.
chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

Rule 4 provides that when prescribed for the crime of several periods, corresponding to different divisible penalties, the penalty next lower in
degree shall be of the period immediately following the minimum prescribed and of the next next, which shall be taken from the prescribed penalty,
if possible; otherwise, in the above mentioned scale. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

If, for example, the penalty is greater prison in its medium period to temporary reclusion in its minimum period, the penalty next lower in degree
will be correctional prison in its medium and maximum periods to prison major in its minimum period. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual
law library

Rule 5 provides that when the law prescribes a penalty for a crime in some manner not specially provided for in the four preceding rules, the courts,
proceeding by analogy. shall impose corresponding penalties upon those guilty as principals of the frustrated felony, or of attempt to commit the
same, and upon accomplices and accessories. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

If the penalty in prison greater in its medium and maximum periods, the penalty next lower in degree will be correctional prison in its maximum
period to prison major in its minimum period. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

Reasoning by analogy, we hold that the penalty immediately lower to prison greater in its maximum period is greater prison in its medium period.
There appears to be no justification for jumping over the two penalties between major prison in its maximum period and correctional prison in its
maximum period. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

On the other hand, the decision of this court in the case of sources, mentioned above, based on the decisions of the Supreme Court of Spain, is not
applicable. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

In all those decisions the crime was robbery in an uninhabited house, committed without arms, the value of the property being less than 1,250
pesetas (500 pesetas in Spain), with the further circumstance that in one of these cases the robbery was frustrated and in the others the accused
was less than eighteen and over fifteen years of age. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

According to article 508 of the Penal Code (521 Penal Code of Spain) the penalty provided for robbery in an inhabited house, committed without
arms, when the value of the property taken is less than 1,250 pesetas (500 pesetas in Spain), or when committed with arms and the value of the
property taken is less than 1,250 pesetas (500 pesetas in Spain), it is presidio correccional in its medium degree to presidio mayor in its minimum
degree, said penalty to be imposed in the minimum degree if the robbery is committed without arms and the value of the property taken is less than
1,250 pesetas. According to article 65 of the same Code (Article 66 of the Code of Spain), if the robbery is frustrated or if the accused is less than
eighteen and over fifteen years of age, according to Article 85 (Article 86 of the Code of Spain), the next lower penalty should be imposed. So this
penalty of correctional incarceration in its medium degree to major prison in its minimum degree had to be modified for two reasons, because the
next lower penalty should be imposed on the ground that the robbery was frustrated, or that the author was less than eighteen and over fifteen
years of age, and because it should be imposed in its minimum degree for the reason that the robbery was committed without arms and the value of
the property taken was less than 1,250 pesetas. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

What penalty should then be imposed under such circumstances? In the case of Sources this court said: "There is some conflict in the decisions of
the Supreme Court of Spain, as to what that penalty is, but it is now settled by the more recent decisions that the penalty immediately lower to the
medium grade of correctional prison is the medium grade of major arrest . " A review, however, of the decisions of the Supreme Court of Spain
referred to in the decision of this in the Sources case does not justify said pronouncement. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

In the first decision rendered on the subject (June 13, 1872) of the Supreme Court of Spain it was held:

1st. That pursuant to the provisions of art. 521 of the Penal Code in force, robbery in an inhabited place, committed without arms, when the value of
the property taken does not exceed 500 pesetas , is with the medium degree of correctional presidio ; and that when this offense is frustrated, the
next penalty is the next lower in degree, in accordance with article 66 of said Code; and chanrobles virtual law library

2nd. That if the facts stated in the decision and established by the evidence show that the accused is the author of a frustrated robbery involving
less than 500 pesetas , committed without arms and without any aggravating or mitigating circumstances, the trial court in imposing the penalty of
14 of correctional presidio , acts in accordance with the provision of said Code; because, inasmuch as it prescribes as a penalty for the consummated
crime only the medium degree of said correctional presidio , and the penalty for frustrated robbery being the next lower in degree this penalty must
be the minimum degree of correctional presidio, and not the penalty of the next lower penalty, because this combination must be taken when the
penalty is set for the offense of various degrees as provided in the article 76, Rule 4, of said Code , and not only of one degree as in the present case.

However, in the subsequent decision of December 20, 1872 (as well as in the decisions of July 5, 1872, September 26, 1872, and October 15, 1872) it
was held:

1st. That article 521 of the Penal Code in force punish consumated robbery, committed with arms, when the amount involved is less than 500
pesetas , with greater in its minimum degree; chanrobles virtual law library
2nd. That the penalty next lower in degree to that imposed by law for consumated crime is prescribed, under article 66, when the crime is
frustrated, which in the present case is greater arrest in its medium degree to correctional presidio in its minimum degree; chanrobles virtual law
library

3rd. That inasmuch as the accused carries no arms for the perpetration of said frustrated robbery, and the value of the property taken does not
exceed 500 pesetas , his penalty should be limited to the minimum degree resulting from the graduation of the penalty, because otherwise a
difference would arise, to the prejudice of the author of the frustrated crime, should the law adopt it for consummated offense in the latter part of
said article 521; and chanrobles virtual law library

4th. That the trial court, in applying this rule and in imposing upon the accused four months of arrest for such crime, committed no error or violation
of law to justify a reversal.

As may be seen, the difference between the decision of June 13, 1872, and those rendered thereafter consists in that in the former the penalty was
first reduced to its minimum degree, and then the penalty immediately lower to it was imposed, whereas in the other decisions the penalty
immediately lower in degree was determined and then imposed in its minimum degree. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

Pursuant to the foregoing, the Supreme Court of Spain in imposing, in its decisions subsequent to June 13, 1872, the penalty of major arrest in its
medium degree, did so because it was the next lower than correctional presidio in its medium degree , but because that is the minimum degree of
the penalty of major arrest in its medium degree to correctional presidio in its minimum degree, which is the next lower penalty than correctional
presidio in its medium degree to presidio mayor in its minimum degree. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

The penalty of major prison in its medium period must be divided into three equal parts, and the medium thereof is from eight years, eight months
and one day to nine years and four months. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

For the foregoing reasons, the defendant and appellant is sentenced to suffer eight months and one day of major prison , to pay a fine of P10 and to
indemnify the offended party in the sum of P10, without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to pay the costs of both instances.
chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

As modified, the decision appealed from is affirmed. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library

Avanceña, CJ, Street, Abad Santos, and Butte, JJ. , concur.


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. L-33254 & G.R. No. L-33253 January 20, 1978
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
LICERIO P. SENDAYDIEGO, JUAN SAMSON and ANASTACIO QUIRIMIT, defendants. JUAN SAMSON and defendant-appellant.

AQUINO, J.:

In these three cases of malversation through falsification, the prosecution's theory is that in 1969 Licerio P. Sendaydiego, the provincial treasurer of
Pangasinan, in conspiracy with Juan Samson y Galvan, an employee of a lumber and hardware store in Dagupan City, and with Anastacio Quirimit,
the provincial auditor, as an accomplice, used six (6) forged provincial vouchers in order to embezzle from the road and bridge fund the total sum of
P57,048.23.

The provincial voucher in these cases has several parts. In the upper part with the legend "ARTICLE OR SERVICE" the nature of the obligation
incurred is indicated. That part is supposed to be signed by two officials of the provincial engineer's office and by the governor's representative.

The middle part of the voucher contains five numbered printed paragraphs. Paragraph 1 is a certificate to be signed by the creditor. It is stated
therein that the creditor vouches that the expenses "were actually and necessarily incurred". In the instant cases paragraph 1 was not signed
presumably because it is not relevant to the purchase of materials for public works projects.

Paragraph 2 is a certification that the expenses are correct and have been lawfully incurred. It is signed by the provincial engineer.

Paragraph 3 contains these words: "Approved for pre-audit and payment, appropriations and funds being available therefore." This is signed by the
provincial treasurer.

Paragraph 4 is a certification which, as filed up in Exhibit K, Voucher No. 10724 dated February 28, 1969, reads:

I certify that this voucher has been pre-audited and same may be paid in the amount of sixteen thought seven hundred twenty-seven and 52/100
(P16,727.52) in cash or in check, provided there is sufficient fund cover the payment.

This is signed by the auditor.

Paragraph 5 is a certification signed by the provincial treasurer that the account mentioned in the provincial engineer's certification "was paid in the
amount and on the date shown below and is chargeable as shown in the summary hereof. ... ." It may be noted that the provincial treasurer signs
two part of the voucher.

Following paragraph 5, and as referred to therein, is the receipt of the signed by the creditor. As accomplished in Exhibit K, the receipt reads (it was
signed according to the prosecution by Juan Samson, a point which is disputed by him):

Received this 31st day of March, 1969, from L P. Sendaydiego, Province of Pangasinan the sum of seven hundred twenty-seven pesos & 52/100
(16,727.52) in full payment of the above stated account, which I hereby certify to be correct. Paid by Check No. .................................

CARRIED CONSTR. SUPPLY CO. By: (Sgd.) JUAN SAMSON

According to the prosecution, Samson also signed on the left margin of the six vouchers below the stamped words: "Presented to Prov. Treasurer. By
Juan Samson."

Voucher No. 10724 (Exh. K). — This Provincial voucher, dated February 28, 1969, evidences the payment of PI 6,727.52 to the Carried Construction
Supply Co. of Dagupan City for lumber and hardware materials supposedly used in the repair of the bridge in Barrio Libertad at the Umingan-Tayug
road in Pangasinan along the Nueva Ecija boundary (Exh. K). The voucher makes reference to invoice No. 3327 and other supporting papers.

The falsity of that provincial voucher is proven by the following intances:

(a) That there was no project for the repair of the bridge at Barrio Libertad (P. 1; Exh. Z).

(b) That the amount of P16,727.52 was never received by the Carried Construction Supply Co The alleged official receipt No. 3025 of the company
dated March, 1969 (Exh. K-6) is forged.

(c) That the lumber and materials mentioned in Exhibit K were never delivered by the company to the provincial government

(d) That in the provincial voucher, Exhibit K, and in the supporting requisition and issue voucher (RIV) No. 2206 dated January 29, 1969 (Exh. A),
covering the same lumber and hardware ma the signatures of the following office were forged: Salvador F. Oropilla senior civil engineer; Rodolfo P.
Mencias, supervising civil engineer Victoriano M. Sevilleja, acting provincial engineer, and Ricardo B. Probincias, chief of equipment of the governor's
office. These four office denied that their signatures in the two vouchers, Exhibits A and B, are their genuine signatures.

(e) That the imprint of the rubber stamp on Exhibits A and B, containing the words "Approved: For and By Authority of the Governor (signed) Ricardo
B. Primicias, Chief of Equipment", is not the imprint of the genuine rubber stamp used in Primicias office.

(f) That charge invoice No. 3327 of the Carried Construction Supply Co. dated February 18, 1969, containing a description and the prices of the
lumber and hardware material (Exh. B), is fake because, according to Ambrosio Jabanes, the company's assistant manager, the company's invoice
No. 3327 was issued to the Mountain Agricultural College (Exh. II-1). Oropilla denied that his alleged signature on Exhibit B is his signature.

(g) That three other documents, supporting the provincial voucher (Exh. K), were also forged. Those documents are the taxpayer's cate dated
February 10, 1969 (Exh. C) stating that no tax is due on the goods sold in the fake invoice No. 3327 and the two certificates as to the samples of
lumber allegedly purchased from the Carried Construction Supply Co., (Exh. D and E). Narciso P. Martinez, a district forester, denied that his
signatures in Exhibits D and E are his signatures.
(h) That Angelo C. Manuel the checker of the provincial auditor's office, denied that his signature on the left margin is his signature (Exh. A-10).

The forged character of provincial voucher No. 10724 (Exh. K) is incontrovertible.

Other five forged voucher. — Five other provincial vouchers evidencing supposed payments of certain amounts to the Carried Construction Supply
Co. for lumber and hardware materials supposingly used in the repair of other bridges were also falsified. These five vouchers are the following:

(1) Voucher No. 11995 dated April 29, 1969 evidencing the payment of P14,571.81 for number and hardware materials allegedly used in the
repair of Bayaoas bridge at the Urbiztondo-Pasibi Road (Exh. O).

(2) Voucher No. 11869 dated April 15, 1969 evidencing the payment of P5,187.28 'or lumber and hardware materials allegedly used in the
repair of the Panganiban bridge at the UminganTayug Road (Exh. P)

(3) Voucher No. 11870 dated April 28, 1969 evidencing the payment of P6,290.60 for lumber and hardware materials allegedly used in the
repair of the Cabatuan bridge at the Umingan-Guimba Road (Exh. Q).

(4) Voucher No. 11871 dated April 15, 1969 evidencing the payment of P9,769.64 for lumber and hardware materials allegedly used in the
repair of the Casabar bridge at the Binalonan-San Manuel Road (Exh. R).

(5) Voucher No. 11872 dated April 15, 1969 evidencing the Payment of P4,501.38 for lumber and hardware materials allegedly used in the
repair of the Baracbac bridge at the Umingan-Guimba Road (Exh. S).

As in the case of voucher No. 10724 (Exh. K), Oropilla, Mencias, and Primicias declared that their signatures in the said five vouchers are not their
genuine signatures. Samson, who hand-carried the said vouchers for processing, did not turn over to the provincial auditor's office the papers
supporting the said vouchers after the vouchers had been pre-audited. Hence, those supporting papers could not be presented in evidence.

Jabanes, the aforementioned assistant manager of the Carried Construction Supply Co., testified that the lumber and hardware materials mentioned
in the five vouchers were never delivered by his company to the provincial government. The charge invoices mentioned in the said vouchers were
cancelled invoices issued to the Mountain Agricultural College. The projected repairs of the bridges were fictitious.

The company's cashier testified that the company never received the payments for the lumber and hardware materials. The receipts evidencing
payments (Exh. K-6, KK to KK-4 are fake official receipts. The cashier produced in court the genuine official receipts (Exh. LL to LL-7) bearing the serial
numbers of the fake receipts. The genuine receipts do not refer to transactions with the provincial government.

Samson played a stellar role in the processing of the six vouchers. He used to be an employee of the pro treasurer's office. He resigned and worked
with several firms doing business with the provincial government. In 1969 he was the collector of the Carried Construction Supply Co. He
represented that firm in its dealings with the offices of the governor, provincial auditor, provincial engineer and provincial treasurer. He was
personally known to those provincial officials and the employees of their offices (21-22 Sendaydiego's brief).

The six (6) forged provincial vouchers, with their respective supporting papers, were hand-carried by Samson. He delivered the papers to Carmencita
Castillo, the ledger clerk in the provincial engineer's office, for recording and for her signature (Ekh. DD).

Thereafter, Samson brought the papers to the provincial treasurer's office. Marcelo Crusade, a laborer in that office who performed the chore of
recording the vouchers and payrolls, recorded Vouchers Nos. 11869, 11871 and 11872 (Exh. P, R and S). Crusadas initials appear on the upper
lefthand corner of the said vouchers with the date 4/17/69.

Samson signed on the left margin of the vouchers to indicate that he presented them to the provincial t r's office. Crusade said that after Samson
had presented the said papers to him, Samson brought them to Ricardo Baraan, the book-keeper of the provincial treasurer's office for processing
and for the latter's signature (Exh. WW).

From Baraan's office, Samson hand-carried the vouchers to the provincial auditor's office. He asked Virginia Cruz, a clerk to record the same (Exh.
CC).

Afterwards, Samson asked Donato Rosete the assistant provincial treasurer, to initialled the voucher After Rosete had initialled the vouchers,
Samson went to the provincial treasurer's office where the amounts covered by the voucher were paid by Sendaydiego to him in cash (instead of by
check) as representative of the Carried Construction Supply Co. (Exh. EE). He received the payments on March 31 and April 29 and 28 (four
payments on that date) as shown on the face of the vouchers.

The signature of Sendaydiego and Quirimit, the auditor, on the said six vouchers are admittedly authentic. Sendaydiego signed the vouchers ahead
of Rosete, his assistant. Sendaydiego's defense is that he signed the vouchers in the honest belief that the signatures therein of the provincial office
concerned were genuine because the voucher had been pre-audited and approved by the auditor.

Samson denied the authenticity of his two signatures on each of the six vouchers showing that he received from Sendaydiego the amounts covered
thereby as representative of the lumber and hardware firm (Exh. OO to TT) and that he presented the vouchers to the provincial s treasurer 's office
(Exh. 6-12 — Samson). Sendaydiego testified that Samson's signatures are genuine.

In connection with the six vouchers, Sendaydiego, Samson and Quirimit were charged with malversation through falsification in three docketed as
follows:

1. Criminal Case No. 23349 involving provincial voucher No. 10724 dated February 28, 1969 in the sum of P16,7Z7.52 (Exh. X), L-33252.

2. Criminal Case No. 23350 involving provincial vouchers Nos. 11869, 11870, 11871 dated April 15 (two dates) 28 and 15, 1969 for the
respective amounts of P5,187.28, P6,290.60, P9,769-64 and P4,501.38 (four vouchers, Exh. P, Q, R and S), now L-33253.

3. Criminal Case No. 23351 involving provincial voucher No. 11955 dated April 29, 1969 in the sum of P14,571.81 (Exh. O), now L-33254.

After trial the lower court acquitted the auditor, Quirimit and found Sendaydiego and Samnson guilty of malversation through falsification of public
or official documents imposing each of the following penalties:
(1) In Criminal Case No. 23349, an indeterminate sentence of twelve years, ten months and twenty-one-days, as minimum, to eighteen years,
two months and twenty-one days of reclusion temporal, as maximum, and a fine of P16,727.52 and to indemnify solidarity the provincial
government of Pangasinan in the same amount;

(2) In Criminal Case No. 23350, the penalty of reclusion perpetua and a fine of P29,748.90 and to indemnify solidarily the provincial
government of Pangasinan in the same amount; and

(3) In Criminal Case No. 23351, an indeterminate sentence of twelve years, ten months and twenty-one days, as minimum, to eighteen year
two months and twenty-one days of reclusion temporal as maximum , and a fine of P14,571.81 and to indemnify solidarity the provincial
government of Pangasinan in the same amount.

Sendaydiego and Samson appealed to this Court.

Sendaydiego died on October 5, 1976. His appeal as to his criminal liability was dismissed. Death extinguished his criminal liability remained. The
resolution of July 8, 1977 dismissing Sendaydiego's appeal read s follows:

The death of appellant Sendaydiego during the pendency of his appeal or before the judgment of conviction rendered against him by the lower
court became final and executory extinguished his criminal liability meaning his obligation to serve the personal or imprisonment penalties and his
liability to pay the fines or pecuniary penalties (Art. 89[1], Revised Penal Code; 1 Viada, Codigo Penal, 4th Ed., 565).

The claim of complainant Province of Pangasinan for the civil liability survived Sendaydiego because his death occurred after final judgment was
rendered by the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan, which convicted him of three complex crimes of malversation through falsification and
ordered him to indemnify the Province in the total sum of P61,048.23 (should be P57,048.23).

The civil action for the civil liability is deemed impliedly instituted with the criminal action in the absence of express waiver or its reservation in a
separate action (Sec. 1, Rule 111 of the Rules of court). The civil action for the civil liability is separate and distinct from the criminal action (People
and Manuel vs. Coloma, 105 Phil. 1287; Roa vs. De la Cruz, 107 Phil. 8).

When the action is for the recovery of money and the defendant dies before final judgment in the Court of First Instance, it shall be dismissed to be
prosecuted in the manner especially provided' in Rule 87 of the Rules of Court (Sec. 21, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court).

The implication is that, if the defendant dies after a money judgment had been rendered against him by the Court of First Instance, the action
survives him. It may be continued on appeal (Torrijos vs. Court of Appeals, L-40336, October 24, 1975; 67 SCRA 394).

The accountable public officer may still be civilly liable for the funds improperly disbursed although he has no criminal liability (U S. vs. Elvina, 24
Phil. 230; Philippine National Bank vs. Tugab, 66 Phil. 583).

In view of the foregoing, notwithstanding the dismissal of the appeal of the deceased Sendaydiego insofar as his criminal liability is concerned, the
Court Resolved to continue exercising appellate jurisdiction over his possible civil liability for the money claims of the Province of Pangasinan arising
from the alleged criminal acts complained of, as if no criminal case had been instituted against him, thus making applicable, in determining his civil
liability, Article 30 of the Civil Code (Note: The lower court had issued an order of attachment against him on January 13, 1970 for the sum of
P36,487 and in the brief for said appellant, there is no specific assignment of error affecting the civil liability fixed by the trial court.) and, for that
purpose, his counsel is directed to inform this Court within ten (10) days of the names and addresses of the decedent's heirs or whether or not his
estate is under administration and has a duly appointed judicial administrator. Said heirs or administrator will be substituted for the deceased
insofar as the civil action for the civil liability is concerned (Secs. 16 and 17, Rule 3, Rules of Court). According to Sendaydiego's brief, he had a wife
and ten children named Arturo, Licerio, Jr., Prospero, Regulo, Eduardo, Cesar, Nola, Aida, Wilfredo and Manolo (deceased).

The title of this case should be amended to show its civil aspect by adding thereto the following. Province of Pangasinan vs. Heirs of Licerio P.
Sendaydiego.

Sendaydiego's appeal will be resolved only for the purpose of showing his criminal liability which is the basis of the civil liability for which his estate
would be liable for which his estate would be liable.

Sendaydiedo's appeal; civil liability of his estate. — In view of Sendaydiego's death, it is not necessary to resolve his first two assignments of error,
wherein he assails the imposition of reclusion perpetua as a cruel and unusual penalty and wherein it is argued that there is no complex crime of
malversation through falsification committed by negligence.

In the third assignment of error, it is contended that the trial court erred in allowing private prosecutors Millora and Urbiztondo to prosecute the
case thereby allegledly subjecting the accused to proceedings marked by undue publicity, pre-judgment, bias and political self-interest.

Atty. Vicente D. Millora, a senior member of the provincial board actually handled the prosecution of the case from the preliminary investigation,
which started on June 5, 1969, up to the termination of the trial on July 29, 1970.

At the commencement of the preliminary investigation, the counsel for the accused auditor inquired whether Atty. Millora was authorized by the
provincial board to act as private prosecutor in representation of the province of Pangasinan, the offended party. Atty. Millora replied that there
was a board resolution designating him as a private prosecutor.

The acting provincial commander, who filed the complaints manifested to the trial court that he had authorized Atty. Millora to act as private
prosecutor (4-8 tsn June 5, 1969).

Another defense counsel filed a written motion to inhibit Millora and the others as private prosecutors. The lower court denied the motion in its
order of June 18, 1969 (p. 40, Record of Criminal Case No. 23350).

After the termination of the p investigation conducted by the lower court, the provincial fiscal of Pangasinan and the city final of Dagupan City filed
three informations against the accused all dated November 4, 1969.
At the commencement of the trial on February 23, 1970 the city fiscal, an assistant provincial fiscal and Atty. Millora, the private prosecutor,
appeared for the prosecution. The city fiscal moved "that the private prosecutor (Millora) be authorized to conduct the examination subject to our
(the fiscal's) control and supervision". The trial court granted the motion (7 tsn).

At the hearing on April 23, 1970 the same city fiscal moved that Atty. Urbiztondo be authorized to examine the prosecution witnesses under his
supervision and control The trial court granted the motion (155 tsn).

The record shows that at every hearing the provincial fiscal, the city fiscal or an assistant fiscal were present together with the private prosecutor.

Under the foregoing circumstances, we believe that there was substantial compliance with the rule that the criminal action should be "prosecuted
under the direction and control of the fiscal" and that "the provincial fiscal shall represent the province" in any court (Sec.4, Rule 110, Rules of Court;
sec. 1683, Revised Administrative Code).

The observation of Sendaydiego's counsel, that the imposition of reclusion perpetua "could have been the result of the undue publicity,
prejudgment, bias and political interest which attended the proceedings ", is not well-founded. The trial court's decision dispels any doubt as to its
impartiality. The evidence in the three cases is mainly documentary. The unassailable probative value of the documents involved rather than bias
and prejudice, was the decisive factor on which the trial court anchored the judgment of conviction.

Moreover, as already adverted to, Sendaydiego's death had rendered moot the issue as to the propriety of the imposition of reclusion perpetua.
And, as will be shown later, reclusion perpetua cannot be imposed in these cases because the crimes committed were not complex.

The other seven assigmments of error made by Sendaydiego's counsel refer to the trial court's conclusion that Sendaydiego and Samson are guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of malversation through falsification or, specifically, that the provincial treasurer, in signing the six vouchers, evinced
"malice or fraud and that there must have been connivance between" the two.

Several lances indicate that Sendaydiego conspired with Samson. Donato N. Rosete, the assistant provincial treasurer, testified that, contrary to the
usual procedure, he affixed his initial to paragraph 3 of the vouchers after Sendaydiego had signed it. Rosete adhered to that unusual procedure
because the interested party, Samson who hand-carried the vouchers, approached Rosete after he (Samson) had conferred with the provincial
treasurer and Samson told Rosete to initial the voucher because it was areglado na (already settled) since the treasurer had already signed the
voucher (54 tsn July 3, 1969).

Rosete's testimony and affidavit confute appellant Sendaydiego's contention that the trial court erred in finding that he signed the questioned
vouchers before Rosete had placed his initial in them. After the treasurer had signed the voucher, Rosete's duty to initial it was only ministerial (75
tsn July 3, 1969).

The bookkeeper in the treasurer's office testified that he indicated in the vouchers that the amounts covered thereby should be paid in cash. That
indication was made by means of the symbol "A-1-1" placed at the bottom of the vouchers under the column "Account Number". The bookkeeper
was in. instructed by Samson to place that symbol Samson told him that he (Samson) had an understanding with Treausrer Sendaydiego that the
payment should be made in cas. There were instances when the treasurer insisted on payment by check to creditors other than Juan Samson.

The cash payments were made to Samson in the inner office of the provincial treasurer where the cashier was summoned to make the cash
payments (11-12 ton July 9, 1969; p. 11, Exh. EE). As noted by the trial court, it was unusual that the payments should be made in the treasurer's
office when that was a ministerial chore of the cashier.

The cash payments were made to Samson even if Samson had no power of attorney from the Carried Construction Supply Co. authorizing him to
receive the payments. The space in the vouchers for the signature of the witness, who should be present when the payments were received, was
blank. The treasurer did not bother to have a witness to attest to the payments or to require the exhibition of Samson's residence certificate.

Another apt observation of the trial court is that the forged character of the six vouchers would have been unmasked by the supposed creditor,
Carried Construction Supply Co., if the payments had been made by means of checks. The company on receiving the checks would have returned
them to the treasurer because it knew that there was no reason to make any payments at all. The trial court said that the cash payments prove
Sendaydiego's collusion with Samson.

Sendaydiego's counsel assails the lower court's finding that there was a conspiracy between the provincial and Samson as shown by the fact that the
amounts covered by the vouchers were paid to Samson by the cashier in the treasurer's inner office. That point was testified to by Rosete, the
assistant provincial treasurer.

The cashier, Napoleon Ulanday, would have been the beet witness on how and where the payments were made. However, Ulanday died before the
preliminary investigation was started. On May 27, 1969, after the anomalies were unearthed, he wrote a letter to the provincial , stating that he
paid to Samson the amounts covered by five vouchers in the of Salazar K. Misal and Josefina E. Pulido (Exh. 13).

Rosete was in a position to state that the cash payments were made to Samson in the treasurers inner office because his table was near the main
door of the treasurers office or was about fifteen meters away (18 tsn). Rosete always knew when the cashier went to the treasurers office because
the cashier was oned by means of a buzzer (long buzz), and when the cashier came out of the treasurer's office, he would be holding the voucher
(12-13 tsn).

Sendaydiego's counsel that no gross negligence can be imputed to the treasurer (malversation is a crime which can be committed by means of dolo
or culpa and the penalty in either case is the same). This argument does not deserve serious consideration because the facts proven by the
prosecution show that he had a tieup with Samson and that he acted maliciously in signing the six questioned vouchers.

The last contention put forward for Sendaydiego is that, because the trial court acquitted the auditor, then the treasurer's exoneration follows as a
matter of course. We see no merit in that contention because the evidence for the prosecution against Sendaydiego is not the same as its evidence
against the auditor. For that reason the auditor was charged only as an accomplice, whereas, the treasurer was charged as a principal. The auditor
based his defense on the undeniable fact that the treasurer had approved the six vouchers "for pre-audit and payment" before they were passed
upon by the auditor. In short, the auditor was misled by the treasurer's certification which the auditor apparently assumed to have been made in
good faith when in truth it was made in bad faith.
We are convinced after a minutiose examination of the documentary and oral evidence and an unprejudiced consideration of the arguments of
Sendaydiego's counsel that his criminal liability was established beyond reasonable doubt and, therefore, the civil liability fo his estate for the
amounts malversed was duly substantial.

Samson's appeal. — Samson's brief has no statement of facts. He contends that the trial court erred in disregarding the expert testimony that his
signatures on the vouchers are not his signature; in finding that he forged the vouchers and received the proceeds thereof, and in relying on
circumstantial evidence as proof of conspiracy.

As a preliminary issue, Samson argues that Judge Eloy B. Bello should have inhibited himself "in fairness to the accused, in the interest of justice, and
as a gesture of delivadeza" because he had conducted the preliminary investigation.

Our searching study of the recrod fails to sustain Samson's insinuation that he was prejudiced by the fact that Judge, who conducted the preliminary
investigation, was the one who tried the case and convicted him. Judge Bello tried the case fairly. His conduct of the trial does not show that he had
already prejudged their guilt.

Section 13, Rule 112 of the Rules of court, in allowing a Court of First Instance to conduct a preliminary investigation, does not disqualify it from
trying the case after it had found probable cause and after the fiscal, as directed by the Court, had filed the corresponding information. The rule
assumes that the Judge, who conducted the preliminary investigation, could impartially try the case on the merits.

We cannot assume that judges as a rule are opinionated and narrow-minded insomuch that they would invariably be iron-bound by their findings at
the preliminary investigation.

The case of a Judge of the Court of First Instance, who conducts a preliminary investigation and then tries the case on the merits, is similar to a
situation where an inferior court conducts a preliminary investigation of a grave or less grave offense falling within the concurrent jurisdiction of the
Court of First Instance and tghe inferior court. In such a case, the inferior court after terminating the preliminary investigation is not obligated (por
delivadeza) to remand the case to the Court of First Instance for trial. The inferior court has the option to try the case on the merits (People vs.
Palmon, 86 Phil. 350; Natividad vs. Robles, 87 Phil. 834; People vsw. Colicio, 88 Phil. 196). The assumption is that the inferior court can try the case
without any ingrained bias or undue prejudice.

Samson sought to prove, through Lieutenant Colonel Jose G. Fernandez, retired chief of the Constabulary crime laboratory, a handwriting expert,
that his signatures on the vouchers are not his signatures.

Fernandez found that the questioned signatures and the alleged genuine signatures (exemplars) of Samson have fundamental differences. The
expert concluded that the questioned signatures and the exemplar signatures of Samson were not written by one and the same person (Exh. 20).

After examining the questioned and genuine signatures and analysing the evidence and contentions of the parties, we find that the expert is correct
in declaring that (as admitted by the trial court) there are radical differences between the questioned and authentic signatures.

But the expert is in error in concluding that Samson did not forge the questioned signatures or in implying that Samson had no hand in the writing
thereof.

The truth is that Samson used two forms of signature. His supposed genuine signatures found in his residence certificates, income tax returns and
the genuine office receipt of the Carried Construction Supply Co. are "in an arcade form or rounded form of writing". The surname Samson is
encircled.

On the other hand, the questioned signatures used in Samson's transactions with the provincial government are in angular form; his surname is not
encircled, and the questioned signatures terminate in angular and horizontal strokes.

Samson was consistent in his fakeries. Knowing that the six vouchers evidenced fictitious transactions, he used therein his fake signature, or the
signature which is different from his signature in genuine documents. He used his forged signatures in the six fake official receipts of the Carried
Construction Supply Co., stating that the amounts covered by the six vouchers were received by him (Exh. K-6, KK to KK-4). the expert admitted that
a person may have two forms of signature (186 tsn July 16, 1970).

Signatures may be deliberately disguised with the dishonest intention of denying the same as and when necessary (Mehta, Identification of
Handwriting and Cross Examination of Experts, pp. 4th Ed., 1970, p. 224; Harrison, Suspect Documents 418-419).

Sendaydiego himself testified that the questioned signatures of Samson in the six vouchers were Samson's signatures (94-99 tsn July 31, 1969).

Fernandez, the handwriting expert, declared that the questioned signatures of Samson in the vouchers were written by only one person (264-265
tsn July 16, 1970).

The evidence conclusively proves that Samson, as the representative or collector of the supposed creditor, Carried Construction Supply Co., hand-
carried the vouchers in question to the offices of the provincial engineer, treasurer and auditor and then back to the treasurer's office for payment.
He actually received the cash payments. Under those circumstances, Samson is presumed to be the forger of the vouchers.

The rule is that if a person had in his possession a falsified document and be made use of it (uttered it), taking advantage of it and profiting thereby,
the presumption is that he is the material author of the falsification. This is especially true if the use or uttering of the forged documents was so
closely connected in time with the forgery that the user or possessor may be proven to have the capacity of committing the forgery, or to have close
connection with the forgers, and therefore, had complicity in the forgery. (U.S. vs. Castillo, 6 Phil., 453; People vs. De Lara, 45 Phil. 754; People vs.
Domingo, 49 Phil. 28; People vs. Astudillo, 60 Phil. 338 People vs. Manansala, 105 Phil. 1253).

In the absence of a satisfactory explanation, one who is found in possession of a forged document and who used or uttered it is presumed to be the
forger (Alarcon vs. Court of Appeals, L-21846, March 31, 1967, 19 SCRA 688; People vs.Caragao, L-28258, December 27, 1969, 30 SCRA 993).

Samson's use of one form of signature for his crooked transactions with the provincial government and another form of signatures of his valid
transactions or papers shows the deviousness of the falsifications perpetrated in these cases. (Note that Sendaydiego signed the certification in the
first voucher, Exhibit K, stating that proceeds thereof were paid to

Samson but Sendaydiego did not sign the same certification in the other five forged vouchers, Exhibits O, P, Q, R and S).
As to the question of conspiracy, the statement of Samson's on page 19 of his brief, that "the trial court made absolutely no finding of any supposed
conspiracy' between Samson and Sendaydiego, is not correct.

We have already noted that the trial court explicitly stated that the circumstance that Sendaydiego signed the six vouchers ahead of his assistant
shows that there was "malice or fraud" on the part of Sendaydiego and that there was conivance between Samson and Sendaydiego when the
proceeds of the vouchers were paid to Samson in Sendaydiego's inner office, instead of in the cashier's office (p. 23, 26, Decision, Appendix to
Samson's brief). The trial court said that the fact that Sendaydiego allowed payment in cash shows "his collission with Samson (Ibid, p. 26).

Samson's contention that the trial court merely conjectured that he had received the proceeds of the vouchers is not well taken. The trial court's
finding on that point is based on very strong circumstantial evidence (assuming that it was not proven that Samson signed the vouchers).

Samson vehemently argues that there is no evidence that the total sum of P57,048. 23 paid under the six vouchers "was really misappropriated". He
asserts that the six vouchers are genuine (although he contends that his signatures thereon are forgeries) and that there is no proof that the
amounts covered thereby were not paid for the construction materials shown in the six vouchers were never delivered by the company (Exh. HH).

These contentions appear to be untenable in thelight of the declaration of Jabanes, the assistant manager of Carried Construction Supply Co., the
alleged supplier, that the materials shown in the six vouchers were never delivered by the company (Exh. HH).

And Leticia Sevilleja (wife of the provincial engineer), who was employed as cashier of the carried Construction Supply Co., denied that Samson
turned over to the company the proceeds of the six vouchers which he was supposed to have collected for the company from Sendaydiego. The six
vouchers appear to be fake principally because they evidence fictitious sales of construction materials.

Under the said circumstances, it cannot be contended that there was no malversation after Sendaydiego admtte that Samson acknowledged in the
six vouchers that he received from Treasurer Sendaydiego the total sum of P57,048.23.

The assertion of Samson's counsel on pgae 29 of his brief, that the finding as to his guilt is based on a shaky foundation or is predicated on
circumstances which wre not proven, is not correct.

Recapitulations. — In resume, it appears that the provincial treasurer wants to base his exculpation on his belief that in the six vouchers the
signatures of Samson and the officials in the provincial engineer's office appeared to be genuine and on the fact that the auditor had approved the
vouchers. The tresurer claimed that he acted in good faith in approving the payments of the proceeds of the vouchers to Samson as the
representative of the supplier, Carried Construction Co.

On the other hand, Samson, by impugning his signatures in the vouchers, denied that he received the said amounts from the cashier of the
treasurer's office.

These conflicting versions of the treasurer and Samson have to be resolved in the light of the inexpugnable fact that Samson had hand-carried the
voucehrs and followed up their processing in the offices of the provicial government the construction materials described in the six vouchers and
denied having received from Samson the prices of the alleged sales.

The result is the Samson's denial of his signatures in the six vouchers and in the six receipts (Exh. K-6 and KK to KK-4) and the provicial treasurer's
pretension of having acted in good faith or having committed an honest mistake have to be disbelieved.

The unavoidable conclusion is that Sendaydiego and Samson were in cahoots to defraud the provincial government and to camouflage the
defraudation by means of the six vouchers which have some genuine features and which appear to be extrinsically authentic but which were
intrinsically fake.

Penalties. — The trial court and the assumed that three complex crimes of malversation through falsification of public documents were committed
in this case. That assumption is wrong.

The crimes committed in these three cases are not complex. Separate crimes of falsification and malversation were committed. These are not cases
where the execution of a single act constitutes two grave or less grave felonies or where the falsification was used as a means to commit
malversation.

In the six vouchers the falsification was used to conceal the malversation. It is settled that if the falsification was resorted to for the purpose of
hiding the malversation, the falsification and malversation are separate offenses (People vs. Cid, 66 Phil 354; People vs. Villanueva, 58 Phil. 671;
People vs. Geralde 52 Phil. 1000; People vs. Regis, 67 Phil. 43).

In the Regis case, supra where the modus operandi is similar to the instant cases, the municipal treasurer made it appear in two official payrolls
dated April .30 and May 2, 1931 that some persons worked as laborers in a certain street project at Pinamungahan, Cebu. In that way, the two
amounts covered by the payrolls, P473.70 and P271.60, were appropriated and taken from the municipal funds. As a matter of fact, no such work
was done in the said street project and the persons mentioned in both payrolls had not performed any labor.

It was held in the Regis case, that the falsification and malversation did not constitute a complex crime because the falsifications were not necessary
means for the co on of the malversations. Each falsification and each malversation constituted independent offenses which must be punished
separately.

The municipal treasurer was convicted of two falsifications and two malversations. Four distinct penalties were imposed.

In the instant cases, the provincial , as the custodian than of the money forming part of the road and bridge could have malversed or
misappropriated it without falsifiying any voucher. The falsification was used as a device to prevent detection of the malversation.

The falsifications cannot be regarded as constituting one continuing offense impelled by a single criminal impulse.

Each falsification of a voucher constitutes one crime. The falsification of six vouchers constitutes six separate or distinct offenses (People vs.
Madrigal-Gonzales, 117 Phil. 956).
And each misappropriation as evidenced by a provincial voucher constitutes a separate crimes of malversation were committed. Appellant Samson
is a co-principal in each of the said twelve offenses.

As already stated, he is presumed to be the author of the falsification because he was in possession of the forged vouchers and he used them in
order to receive public monies from the provincial treasurer.

He is a co-principal in the six crimes of malversation because he conspired with the provincial treasurer in committing those offenses. The trial court
correctly ruled that a private person conspiring with an accountable public officer in committing malversation is also guilty of malversation (People
vs. Rodis, 105 Phil. 1294; U.S. vs. Ponte, 20 Phil. 379; U.S. vs. Dato and Lustre, 37 Phil. 359; U.S. vs. Dowdell, 11 Phil. 4; People vs. Caluag, 94 Phil.
457).

Note that a different rule prevails with respect to a stranger taking part in the commission of parricide or qualified theft. In such cases, the stranger
is not guilty of parricide or qualfied theft but only of murder or homicide, as the case may be, and simple theft, by reason of paragraph 3, article 62
of the Revised Penal Code (People vs. Patricio, 46 Phil. 245).

Falsification of a public document committed by a private person is punished in article 172(1) of the Revised Penal Code by prision correccional in its
medium and maximum periods and a fine of not more than P5,000.

For the malversation of the sum of P5,187.28 and P4,501.38, respectively covered by vouchers Nos. 11869 and 11872 (Exh. P and S), the penalty
provided in paragraph 2 of article of the Revised Penal Code is prision mayor minimum and medium.

For the malversation of the sums of P6,290.60 andP9,769.64, respectively covered by vouchers Nos. 1187 and11871 (Exh. Q and R) the penalty
provided in paragraph 3 of article 217 is prision mayor maximum to reclusion temporal minimum.

For the malversation of the sums of P16,727.52 and 10995 (Exh. K and O), the penalty provided in paragraph 4 of article 217 is reclusion temporal
medium and maximum.

In each of the malversation cases, a fine equal to the amount malversed should be added to the imprisonment penalty.

In the twelve cases the penalty should be imposed in the medium peiod since there are no modifying circumstances (Arts. 64[1] and 685, Revised
Penal Code). Samson is entitled to an indeterminate sentence.

WHEREFORE, Samson is convicted of six crimes of falsification of a public document and six crimes of malversation.

In lieu of the penalties imposed by the trial court, he is sentenced to the following penalties:

For each of the six falsification of the vouchers (Exh. K, O, P, Q, R and S), Samson is sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of two (2) years of prison
correccional minimum, as minimum, to four (4) years of prision correccional medium, as maximum, and to pay a fine of three thousand pesos.

For the malversation of the sum of P16,727.52 covered by voucher No. 10724 (Exh. K), Samson is sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of twelve
(12) years of prision mayor maximum, as minimum, to seventeen (17) years of reclusion temporal medium, as maximum; to pay a fine in the amount
of P16,727.52, and to indemnify the province of Pangasinan in the same amount (Criminal Case NO. 23349, L-33252).

For the malversation of the sum of P14,571.81 covered by voucher No. 11995 (Exh. O), Samson is sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of twelve
(12) years of prision mayor maximum, as minimum, to seventeen (17) years of reclusion temporal medium, as maximum; to pay a fine in the sum of
P14,571.81, and to indemnify the province of Pangasinan in the same amount (Criminal Case No. 23351, L-33254).

For the malversation of the sum of P6,290.60 covered by voucher No. 11870 (Exh. Q), Samson is sentenced to an indertiminate penalty of nine (9)
years of prision mayor medium, as minimum, to thirteen (13) years of reclusion temporal minimum, as maximum; to pay a fine of P6,290.60, and to
indemnify the province of Pangasinan in the same amount (Criminal Case No. 23350, L-33253).

For the malversation of the sum of P9,769.64 covered by voucher No. 11871 (Exh. R), Samson is sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of nine (9)
years of prision mayor medium, as minimum, to thirteen (13) years of reclusion temporal minimum, as maximum; to pay a fine of P9,769.64, and to
indemnify the province of Pangasinan in the same amount (Criminal Case No. 23350, L-33253).

For the malversation of the sum of P5,187.28, covered by voucher No. 11869 (Exh. P), Samson is sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of five (5)
years of prision correccional maximum, as minimum, to eight (8) of prision mayor minimum, as maximum; to pay a fine of P5,187.28, and to
indemnify the province of Pangasinan in the same amount (Criminal Case No. 23350, L-33253).

For the malversation of the sum of P4,501.38 covered by voucher no. 11872 (Exh. S), Samson is sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of five (5)
years of prision correccional maximum, as minimum, to eight (8) years of prision mayor minimum, as maximum; to pay a fine of P4,501.38, and to
indemnify the province of Pangasinan in the same amount (Criminal Case No. 23350, L-33253).

In the service of the twelve penalties meted to Samson, the threefold limit provided for in article 70 of the Revised Penal Code should be observed
(People vs. Escares, 102 Phil. 677), meaning that the maximum penalty that he should serve is three times the indeterminate sentence of twelve (12)
years to seventeen (17) years, the severest penalty imposed on him, or thirty-six (36) years to fifty-one (51) years (see People vs. Peñas, 68 Phil.
533).

The maximum duration of his sentences should not exceed forty (40) years (Penultimate par. of art. 70; People vs. Alisub, 69 Phil. 362; People vs.
Concepcion, 59 Phil. 518, 68 Phil. 530 and 69 Phil. 58).

The estate of the late Licerio P. Sendaydiego is ordered to indemnify the province of Pangasinan in the sum of P57,048.23.

Samson and the said estate are sojidarily liable for the said indemnity (Art. 110, Revised Penal Code). Samson should pay one-half of the costs.

SO ORDERED.
Antonio, Concepcion, Jr., and Santos, JJ., concur.

Fernando, J., took no part.


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 194367 June 15, 2011
MARK CLEMENTE y MARTINEZ @ EMMANUEL DINO, Petitioner,
vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

DECISION

VILLARAMA, JR., J.:

Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, seeking to reverse the March 29,
2010 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) which denied petitioner's appeal and affirmed the November 3, 2008 Judgment2 of the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 7, convicting petitioner of illegal possession and use of false bank notes under Article 1683 of the Revised Penal Code
(RPC), as amended. Also assailed is the CA Resolution dated October 14, 20104 denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration.

Petitioner was charged before the RTC with violation of Article 168 of the RPC under an Information5 which reads:

That on or about August 5, 2007, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, with intent to use, did then and there willfully, unlawfully,
feloniously and knowingly have in his possession and under his custody and control twenty[-]four (24) pcs. [of] P500.00 bill with Markings ["] IIB-1"
to "IIB-24", respectively and specifically enumerated, to wit:

SERIAL NO. PCS. AMOUNT SERIAL NO. PCS. AMOUNT


PX626388 1 P500.00 CC077337 1 ₱500.00
CC077337 1 500.00 CC077337 1 500.00
CC077337 1 500.00 CC077337 1 500.00
BR666774 1 500.00 CC077337 1 500.00
CC077337 1 500.00 BR666774 1 500.00
BB020523 1 500.00 BR666774 1 500.00
PX626388 1 500.00 CC077337 1 500.00
BR666774 1 500.00 WW164152 1 500.00
PX626388 1 500.00 WW164152 1 500.00
BR666774 1 500.00 BR666774 1 500.00
UU710062 1 500.00 PX626388 1 500.00
CC077337 1 500.00 PX626388 1 500.00
Which are false and falsified.

Contrary to law.

Upon arraignment, petitioner entered a plea of not guilty. Trial thereafter ensued.

The version of the prosecution and the defense, as summarized by the CA, are as follows:6

The prosecution presented three (3) witnesses, namely: Jail Officer 1 (JO1) Michael Michelle Passilan, the Investigator of the Manila City Jail; JO1
Domingo David, Jr.; and Loida Marcega Cruz, the Assistant Manager of the Cash Department of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

[Their testimonies established the following:]

Appellant is a detainee at the Manila City Jail. On August 7, 2007, at around 3:30 pm, an informant in the person of inmate Francis dela Cruz
approached JO1s Domingo David, Jr. and Michael Passilan. The informant narrated that he received a counterfeit P500.00 bill from appellant with
orders to buy a bottle of soft drink from the Manila City Jail Bakery. The bakery employee, however, recognized the bill as a fake and refused to
accept the same. Consequently, JO1s David and Passilan, along with the informant, proceeded to appellant's cell for a surprise inspection. Pursuant
to their agreement, the informant entered the cubicle first and found appellant therein, lying in bed. The informant returned to appellant the
latter's P500.00 bill. The jail guards then entered the cell and announced a surprise inspection. JO1 Passilan frisked appellant and recovered a black
wallet from his back pocket. Inside the wallet were twenty-three (23) pieces of P500.00, all of which were suspected to be counterfeit. They
confiscated the same and marked them sequentially with "IIB-2" to "II-B24". They likewise marked the P500.00 bill that was returned by informant
to appellant with "IIB-1". Appellant was consequently arrested and brought out of his cell into the office of the Intelligence and Investigation Branch
(IIB) of the Manila City jail for interrogation.

Meanwhile, the twenty-four (24) P500.00 bills confiscated from appellant were turned over to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas for analysis. Pursuant
to a Certification dated August 7, 2007, Acting Assistant Manager Loida Marcega Cruz of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas examined and found the
following bills as counterfeit, viz: one (1) P500.00 bill with Serial Number BB020523; six (6) P500.00 bills with Serial Number BR666774; nine (9)
P500.00 bills with Serial Number CC077337; five (5) P500.00 bills with Serial Number PX626388; one (1) P500.00 bill with Serial Number UU710062;
and two (2) P500.00 bills with Serial Number WW164152.

For the defense, appellant was the lone witness presented on the stand.

Appellant simply raised the defense of frame-up. He testified that in the afternoon of August 5, 2007, he was inside his room located at Dorm 1 of
the Manila City Jail. At around 3:00 pm, JO1 Michael Passilan entered appellant's room while JO1 Domingo David, Jr. posted himself outside.
Without any warning, JO1 Passilan frisked appellant and confiscated his wallet containing one (1) P1,000.00 bill. JO1s David and Passilan left
immediately thereafter. Appellant was left with no other choice but to follow them in order to get back his wallet. Appellant followed the jail officers
to the Intelligence Office of the Manila City Jail where he saw JO1 Passilan place the P500.00 bills inside the confiscated black wallet. Appellant was
then told that the P500.00 bills were counterfeit and that he was being charged with illegal possession and use thereof. Appellant also added that
JO1 Passilan bore a grudge against him. This was because appellant refused to extend a loan [to] JO1 Passilan because the latter cannot offer any
collateral therefor. Since then, JO1 Passilan treated him severely, threatening him and, at times, putting him in isolation.
After trial, the RTC found petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged. The RTC gave credence to the prosecution's witnesses in
finding that the counterfeit money were discovered in petitioner's possession during a surprise inspection, and that the possibility that the
counterfeit money were planted to incriminate petitioner was almost nil considering the number of pieces involved.7 The RTC also did not find that
the jail officers were motivated by improper motive in arresting petitioner,8 and applied in their favor the presumption of regularity in the
performance of official duties considering the absence of contrary evidence. As to petitioner’s defense of frame-up, the RTC held that the purported
frame-up allegedly staged by JO1 Passilan would not affect the prosecution's evidence since the testimony of JO1 David could stand by itself. The
RTC likewise found that it was strange that petitioner did not remonstrate despite the fact that he was allegedly being framed.9

As to the elements of the crime, the RTC held that the fact that the ₱500.00 bills found in petitioner’s possession were forgeries was confirmed by
the certification issued by the Cash Department of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, which was testified into by Acting Assistant Manager Loida A.
Cruz.10 The RTC also ruled that petitioner knew the bills were counterfeit as shown by his conduct during the surprise search and his possession of
the bills. As to the element of intention to use the false bank notes, the RTC ruled that the fact that petitioner intended to use the bills was
confirmed by the information received by the jail officers from another inmate.11

Aggrieved, petitioner sought reconsideration of the judgment. Petitioner argued that the evidence used against him was obtained in violation of his
constitutional right against unreasonable searches and seizures. Petitioner also argued that the prosecution failed to prove his guilt beyond
reasonable doubt because of the non-presentation of the informant-inmate, Francis dela Cruz, who could have corroborated the testimonies of the
jail officers.

Unconvinced, the RTC denied petitioner’s motion for reconsideration. The RTC, however, only ruled that there was no violation of petitioner’s
constitutional right against unreasonable searches and seizures because the seizure was done pursuant to a valid arrest for violation of Article 168 of
the RPC. The trial court pointed out that prior to the search, a crime was committed and the criminal responsibility pointed to petitioner.12

On appeal before the CA, petitioner argued that the RTC erred in finding him guilty beyond reasonable doubt for violating Article 168 of the RPC.
Petitioner contended that one of the elements of the crime which is intent to use the counterfeit bills was not established because the informant
Francis dela Cruz did not take the witness stand.13

The CA, however, found the appeal unmeritorious and denied petitioner’s appeal.14 The appellate court found that the fact the petitioner was
caught in possession of twenty-four (24) pieces of fake ₱500.00 bills already casts doubt on his allegation that he was merely framed by the jail
guards. The CA agreed with the RTC that even without the testimony of JO1 Passilan, the testimony of JO1 David was already sufficient to establish
petitioner’s guilt since petitioner did not impute any ill motive on the latter except to point out that JO1 David was JO1 Passilan’s friend.151avvphi1

Regarding the element of intent to use, the CA found that there are several circumstances which, if taken together, lead to the logical conclusion
that petitioner intended to use the counterfeit bills in his possession. The CA pointed out that jail officers were informed by inmate Francis dela Cruz
that he received a fake ₱500.00 bill from petitioner who told him to buy soft drinks from the Manila City jail bakery. After Francis dela Cruz identified
petitioner as the person who gave him the fake money, the jail officers conducted a surprise inspection. Said inspection yielded twenty-three (23)
pieces of counterfeit ₱500.00 bills inside petitioner's black wallet, which was taken from his back pocket. The CA further held that the non-
presentation of Francis dela Cruz would not affect the prosecution's case because even without his testimony, petitioner’s intent to use the
counterfeit bills was established. The CA added that the matter of which witnesses to present is a matter best left to the discretion of the
prosecution.16

Petitioner sought reconsideration of the above ruling, but the CA denied petitioner’s motion for reconsideration in the assailed Resolution dated
October 14, 2010.17 Hence, the present appeal.

Petitioner raises the following assignment of errors, to wit:

I.

THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, CONVICTING PETITIONER OF THE CRIME CHARGED,
DESPITE THE FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION TO PROVE AN ELEMENT OF THE OFFENSE.

II.

THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT EXCLUDING THE COUNTERFEIT BILLS SINCE THEY WERE DERIVED FROM UNREASONABLE SEARCH AND
SEIZURE.18

The petition is meritorious.

Generally, the trial court’s findings are accorded finality, unless there appears in the record some fact or circumstance of weight which the lower
court has overlooked, misunderstood or misappreciated, and which, if properly considered, would alter the result of the case. The exception applies
when it is established that the trial court has ignored, overlooked, misconstrued or misinterpreted cogent facts and circumstances which, if
considered, will change the outcome of the case.19

Here, the Court finds that the RTC and the CA had overlooked certain substantial facts of value to warrant a reversal of its factual assessments.
While petitioner's denial is an intrinsically weak defense which must be buttressed by strong evidence of non-culpability to merit credence, said
defense must be given credence in this case as the prosecution failed to meet its burden of proof.

Article 168 of the RPC, under which petitioner was charged, provides:

ART. 168. Illegal possession and use of false treasury or bank notes and other instruments of credit. — Unless the act be one of those coming under
the provisions of any of the preceding articles, any person who shall knowingly use or have in his possession, with intent to use any of the false or
falsified instruments referred to in this section, shall suffer the penalty next lower in degree than that prescribed in said articles. [Emphasis
supplied.]

The elements of the crime charged for violation of said law are: (1) that any treasury or bank note or certificate or other obligation and security
payable to bearer, or any instrument payable to order or other document of credit not payable to bearer is forged or falsified by another person; (2)
that the offender knows that any of the said instruments is forged or falsified; and (3) that he either used or possessed with intent to use any of such
forged or falsified instruments.20 As held in People v. Digoro, 21 possession of false treasury or bank notes alone, without anything more, is not a
criminal offense. For it to constitute an offense under Article 168 of the RPC, the possession must be with intent to use said false treasury or bank
notes.221avvphi1

In this case, the prosecution failed to show that petitioner used the counterfeit money or that he intended to use the counterfeit bills. Francis dela
Cruz, to whom petitioner supposedly gave the fake ₱500.00 bill to buy soft drinks, was not presented in court. According to the jail officers, they
were only informed by Francis dela Cruz that petitioner asked the latter to buy soft drinks at the Manila City jail bakery using a fake ₱500.00 bill. In
short, the jail officers did not have personal knowledge that petitioner asked Francis dela Cruz use the ₱500.00 bill.23 Their account, however, is
hearsay and not based on the personal knowledge.24

This Court, of course, is not unaware of its rulings that the matter of presentation of prosecution witnesses is not for the accused or, except in a
limited sense, for the trial court to dictate. Discretion belongs to the city or provincial prosecutor as to how the prosecution should present its
case.25 However, in this case, the non-presentation of the informant as witness weakens the prosecution's evidence since he was the only one who
had knowledge of the act which manifested petitioner's intent to use a counterfeit bill. The prosecution had every opportunity to present Francis
dela Cruz as its witness, if in fact such person existed, but it did not present him. Hence, the trial court did not have before it evidence of an essential
element of the crime. The twenty-three (23) pieces of counterfeit bills allegedly seized on petitioner is not sufficient to show intent, which is a state
of mind, for there must be an overt act to manifest such intent.

WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is GRANTED. The Decision dated March 29, 2010 and Resolution dated October 14, 2010 of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 32365 are REVERSED and SET-ASIDE. Petitioner Mark Clemente y Martinez alias Emmanuel Dino is hereby
ACQUITTED of the crime of Illegal possession and use of false bank notes defined and penalized under Article 168 of the Revised Penal Code, as
amended.

With costs de oficio.


EN BANC
[G.R. No. 12546. August 25, 1917. 1 ]
THE UNITED STATES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. MARIANO SOLITO, Defendant-Appellant.

DECISION

JOHNSON, J. :

The important question presented by this appeal is whether or not the defendant is guilty of forging, uttering and passing an altered obligation of
the Government of the Philippine Islands with intent to defraud, in violation of the provisions of Act No. 1754. The complaint alleged that the said
Mariano Solito, on or about the 15th day May, 1915, in the Municipality of Dumaguete, in the Province of Oriental Negros, with intent to defraud,
did falsely forge, utter and pass an obligation of the Government of the Philippine Islands, to wit, Treasury Warrant No. 428426, drawn by the Insular
Auditor on the Insular Treasury in favor of Alvah D. Riley in the sum of P687.53, and by said forgery did secure the payment to himself of the said
sum of P687.53; said acts committed within the jurisdiction of this court, to the prejudice of the Government of the Philippine Islands in the sum of
P687.53, and contrary to the statute in such case made and provided.

Upon said complaint the defendant was duly arrested, arraigned, tried, found guilty of the crime charged in the complaint, and sentenced by the
Honorable Carter D. Johnston, judge, to be imprisoned for a period of one year and one day, to pay a fine of P687.53, to pay the costs, and to suffer
subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency in accordance with the provisions of the law. From that sentence the defendant appealed to this
court.

From an examination of the record the following facts are proved beyond a reasonable doubt:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

That the defendant Mariano Solito was, at the time mentioned in the complaint, correspondence clerk and acting chief clerk in the office of the
division superintendent of schools in the municipality of Dumaguete; that, as such clerk, he was intrusted with the care of the correspondence of
said office, and was authorized to open letters of an official character addressed to the office; that it was the custom of the Director of Education to
forward to the division superintendents of schools checks for the reimbursement for travel expenses and for the payment of the salary of
employees; that on the 19th day of April, 1915, said Treasury Warrant No. 428426 was issued to the said Alvah D. Riley for the sum of P687.53 by
the Auditor of the Philippine Islands directed to the Treasurer of the Philippine Islands for payment; that on the same day (April 19th, 1915) said
warrant was sent to the Director of Education; that said warrant was sent to Alvah D. Riley, through the division superintendent of schools, by the
Acting Director of Education on April 29, 1915; that the defendant herein presented said warrant to the municipal treasurer for payment, bearing
the indorsement of Alvah D. Riley, early in the month of May, 1915, and received the amount of money called for (P687.53) from said municipal
treasurer; that Alvah D. Riley never had in his possession said warrant, nor had ever seen the same, until after the defendant had presented it for
payment to the said municipal treasurer; that he did not indorse the same by writing his name on the back thereof; that his signature which appears
upon the back of said warrant was not his signature; that he did not write his name thereon; that the said division superintendent of schools did not
receive said warrant and had never seen it until after the defendant herein had received the money thereon; that there is no proof in the record
showing that any person or persons had in his possession said warrant after it left the hands of the Acting Director of Education until it was
presented by the defendant to the said treasurer indorsed as above indicated; that, at the time the defendant presented said warrant to the
municipal treasurer for payment, he also presented a note purported to have been written and signed by Riley, in which the latter requested the
said treasurer to cash the warrant. Riley denies absolutely that he gave to the defendant said note. The note was in our opinion, a forgery. Riley
never signed it nor authorized it.

While the record does not contain positive proof that the defendant did, in fact, write the name of Alvah D. Riley upon the back of said warrant, in
view of all the facts and circumstances the conclusion is irresistible that he did. The record further shows beyond a reasonable doubt that the
defendant did pass and utter said warrant after the same had been altered by said indorsement; and did, at the time mentioned in the complaint,
without the authority of its owner, collect the amount due thereon with intent to defraud.

The questions are: Do these acts of the defendant fall under any of the provisions of Act No. 1754? Is the defendant punishable under any of said
provisions?

Said warrant was a check issued by the Government of the Philippine Islands and, therefore, an obligation of the Government of the Philippine
Islands as defined by section 1 of Act No. 1754. It was originally made payable to Alvah D. Riley, or to his order. When it was indorsed as above
indicated, it became a check or warrant payable to bearer. The indorsement made a material alteration in said warrant. The indorsement changed
said check from one payable to Alvah D. Riley, or to one to whom he ordered it paid, to one payable to bearer. The indorsement by the defendant
had the effect of erasing the phrase "or order" upon the face of the warrant.

Whenever the holder of a check, without the consent of the maker, changes its terms so as to make it payable to bearer by erasing or changing the
words "or order" after the payee’s name, he thereby makes a material change in said document. (McCauley v. Gordon, 64 ga., 222; 37 Am. Rep., 68;
2 C. J., 1206; Needles v. Shaffer, 60 Iowa, 65.) Changing the phrase "or order" to "bearer" is a material alteration. While the instrument was payable
to Alvah D. Riley, or order, it was negotiable by the indorsement of Alvah D. Riley only. The change made it payable to "bearer" and it was thereafter
negotiable and transferable by delivery simply. In constructing the effect of the indorsement we must not only look to said indorsement, but to the
face of the document also, for the purpose of ascertaining whether or not the indorsement operated to alter the terms or conditions of the original
contract. (Johnston v. May, 76 Ind., 293; Farmers’ Bank of Kentucky v. Ewing, 78 Ky., 264; Morris v. Cain, 39 La. Ann., 712.)

The defendant having passed and uttered an altered obligation of the Government of the Philippine Islands with intent to defraud, he is punishable
under article 4 of Act No. 1754.

Therefore, the sentence of the lower court is hereby affirmed, with costs. So ordered.

Arellano, C.J., Carson, Araullo, Street and Malcolm., JJ., concur.


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. Nos. L-55683 & 55903-04 February 22, 1982
PILAR S. LUAGUE, petitioner,
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

ABAD SANTOS, J.:

Certiorari to review a decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. Nos. 22414-16 CR which affirmed the decision of The Court of First Instance of
Samar, Branch X, convicting the petitioner of three counts of falsification of commercial documents in Criminal Cases Nos. 599, 600 and 601.

The facts are stated in the poorly written decision of the Court of Appeals thus:

Iluminado Luague, a teacher clerk in the district office of Laoang II, Northern Samar, died at the G.B. Tan Memorial Hospital at around 7:00 o'clock in
the evening of January 24, 1972 after he was confined in said hospital since January 3, 1972.

Thereafter, the then Bureau of Public Schools sent the deceased's salary warrants [Exhibits A (599), A (600) and A (601)] to the Superintendent of
schools at Catarman Northern Samar who in turn forwarded them to the District Supervisor, Florencio Guillermo. A payroll-warrant register
accompanied the checks.

The paychecks delivered, Florencio Guillermo signed the payroll-warrant registers certifying that on his official oath, each employee whose name
appeared on the rolls had received the salary warrant indicated opposite his name on February 7, 1972, February 17, 1972 and February 25, 1972,
respectively, and returned the same to Jose Figueroa, the District Administrative Officer of Northern Samar.

Exhibit A (599) was personally received by Pilar S. Luague, while Exhibit A (600) was received by Glen S. Luague. Exhibit A (601) was received by
Edmundo Echano, a relative of Iliuminado Luague and who claimed to be employed in the Office of the District Supervisor.

Florencio Guillermo claimed that upon discovering his mistake, he asked appellant to return the treasury warrants issued in the name of her
husband Iluminado Luague, further claiming that appellant promised to do so, but actually did not. Upon the receipt of the xerox copies from the
IBM Section of the Bureau of Public Schools, Guillermo discovered that the treasury warrants in question had been encashed by appellant and Glen
Luague with different local stores at Laoang. Exhibit A (599) was cleared on February 22, 1972, while Exhibit A (600) was deposited to the account of
a certain Lee and/or Nicol Chu, Jr. at Philippine Bank of Communications; and Exhibit A (601) was deposited to the account of Colgate-Palmolive
Philippines, Inc. Appellant admitted having endorsed the treasury warrants by means of which she was able to encash the same.

For signing the name of her husband Iluminado Luague as payee on three treasury warrants for purposes of endorsement, appellant stands charged
with the crime of Estafa thru Falsification of Commercial Document. [Note: The appellant was charged with three counts of estafa thru falsification
of commercial document but was convicted of falsification only.]

It is the petitioner's contention before Us as well as in the Court of Appeals that she acted in good faith or had no criminal intent when she cashed
her deceased husband's paychecks. As stated in the decision of the Court of Appeals:

Appellant puts up the defense of good faith in signing theme of her deceased husband in the treasury warrants in question.

Her version: The late Iluminado Luague was on leave from January 3 to February 9, 1972, as evidenced by his approved application for sick leave. On
January 23, 1972, the Principal, Jose Infante, while visiting Iluminado Luague in the hospital, handed to Luague a check representing his differentials.
Luague in turn handed over the check to his wife, the herein appellant, who was then present. Before Infante left, he informed the Luague spouses
that Luague's pay check for the second half of January 1972 had arrived and advised Mrs. Luague to get the same from Florencio Guillermo so that
she could use it to pay for medicine and hospital expenses of her husband.

Iluminado Luague instructed her [his (sic)] wife to get the check from Florencio Guillermo. Appellant went to the house of Guillermo in the
afternoon of January 23, 1972. Guillermo asked her to sign the name of her husband on the payroll warrant register and counter-sign with her
initials. Guillermo then handed her the treasury warrant [Exhibit A (599)].

Iluminado Luague died on January 24, 1972. From the proceeds of the warrants they received were paid the amount the Luague family owed the
drugstores owned by Amor Carandang, Purisima Saba and Luz Tan. A treasury warrant was also paid to Edward Kam from whom they bought
construction materials for the tomb of the deceased and to Ong Kiat store for the payment of materials used for the coffin of the late Iluminado
Luague which were purchased on credit.

Upon the instruction of Amor Carandang and on her belief and upon suggestion of Florencio Guillermo himself that the warrants could be used to
settle their financial obligations incurred by the hospitalization and death of her late husband, appellant indorsed the said treasury warrants by
signing the name of Iluminado Luague.

Heirs of deceased government employees are entitled to whatever unpaid salaries the deceased employee failed to receive. Appellant claims that it
was upon this honest belief that she endorsed the treasury warrants of her late husband to defray for the necessary expenses incurred due to the
latter's hospitalization, funeral and burial.

The Court of Appeals did not reject the petitioner's version, except in respect of the date when the first paycheck was delivered. In affirming the
decision of the trial court, the Court of Appeals followed the simplistic procedure of applying literally the letter of the law, namely: there was
falsification because the petitioner "signed her husband's name in indorsing the treasury warrants in question." The Court of Appeals failed to take
into account the following facts: That the petitioner signed her husband's name to the checks because they were delivered to her by no less than her
husband's district supervisor long after the husband's death which was known to the supervisor; that she used the proceeds of the checks to pay for
the expenses of her husband's last illness and his burial; and that she believed that she was entitled to the money as an advance payment for her
husband's vacation and sick leave credits the money value of which exceeded the value of the checks. In the fight of these circumstances, We cannot
ascribe criminal intent to the petitioner. We sustain her claim that she acted in good faith.
During the hearing, it was brought out that the government did not sustain any financial loss due to the encashment of the checks because the
petitioner's husband had accumulated vacation and sick leaves the money value of which exceeded the value of the three paychecks and the value
of the checks was simply deducted from the money value of the leaves. This explains why the petitioner was not convicted of estafa but of
falsification only. While we do not mean to imply that if there is no damage there can be no falsification, We do say that the absence of damage is
an element to be considered to determine whether or not there is criminal intent.

We notice here the lack of compassion on the part of the prosecuting fiscal, the trial judge, and the Court of Appeals. Even the Solicitor General who
is alert in seeking to correct improper convictions by trial courts has somehow misappreciated the evidence in this case.

The accused is a poor widow who was obviously in a state of bewilderment due to the recent death of her husband when she cashed the paychecks.
She was also in dire need of money to settle the expenses for her husband's last illness and his burial. A compassionate attitude repeatedly urged by
the First Lady, Mrs. Imelda R. Marcos, would have been highly in order under the circumstances.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby granted; the decision of the Court of Appeals is reversed; the petitioner is acquitted of the charges against her.
No costs.

SO ORDERED.

Barredo (Chairman), Aquino, Concepcion, Jr., De Castro and Ericta, JJ., concur.

Escolin J., took no part.


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 82197 March 13, 1989
MANUEL L. SIQUIAN petitioner,
vs.
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, and THE COURT OF APPEALS, respondents.

CORTES, J.:

The information charging petitioner Manuel L. Siquian, the then municipal mayor of Angadanan, Isabela, of the crime of falsification of public
document under Art. 171, p. 4 of the Revised Penal Code filed by Second Assistant Provincial Fiscal before Branch XX of the Regional Trial Court of
Cauayan, Isabela reads as follows:

That on or about the lst day of July, 1975, in the Municipality of Angadanan, Province of Isabela, and within the preliminary jurisdiction of this
Honorable court, the accused Manuel L. Siquian, being then the Municipal Mayor of Angadanan, Isabela, taking advantage of his position as such
Municipal Mayor did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously prepare and, sign a false document, knowing it to be false, to wit. An official
communication to the Civil Service Commissioner, dated July 1, 1975, which is required by law in order to support the appointment of a certain
Jesusa B. Carreon to the position of clerk in the Office of the Municipal Secretary which (sic) he appointed as such by stating and making it appear in
said document that there was such a position existing and that funds therefore were available. When in truth and in fact, as said accused well-know
(sic), there was no such position or item and no funds were available for said position in the Fiscal Budget of Angadanan for 1975-76, nor was there
any special ordinance creating said position and appropriating the necessary funds therefor.

x x x

[Rollo, pp. 23-24.]

Upon arraignment, petitioner pleaded not guilty to the offense charged and the trial of the case ensued. The facts as found by the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) are as follows:

It appears from the evidence that sometime in June 1975, Jesusa Carreon, 20 years old, single and a resident of Ilagan, Isabela, went to the accused
Manuel L. Siquian, Mayor of the Municipality of Angadanan, Province of Isabela, to apply for employment in the office of the Mayor. Earlier, she and
her friends went to the Municipal Hall of Angadanan to ask information if there was any vacancy. When she was informed that there was, she went
to see the accused in his house.

The accused must have agreed to appoint her because he accompanied her to the office of the Municipal Secretary, Emilio Valenzuela. The latter,
however, was not there. Even so, the accused told Jesusa Carreon to report for work the following day and that she should be included in the
budget. The accused then accompanied her to the Office of the Municipal Treasurer, Calo Battung the treasurer agreed that she could report for
work.

One week after, Jesusa Carreon went alone to the Office of the Municipal Secretary. He was there. When she went to the accused, she was told to
go back to the Municipal Secretary to work for her appointment papers.

She was appointed clerk to the Municipal Secretary in the Office of the Municipal Secretary, on July 1, 1975 by the accused.

x x x

Accompanying her appointment is the certification, among others, of the availability of funds CS Form No. 203) dated July 1, 1975, issued by the
accused Manuel L. Siquian, pursuant to the requirements of Memorandum Circular No. 5, Series of 1975, addressed to the Commissioner of Civil
Service, Manila (Exh. "C").

x x x

Jesusa Carreon took her oath of Office (Exh. "A-l") on July 1, 1975, and promptly began to work on the same day. Her monthly salary was P 120.00.
She rendered services for the months of July, August, September, October, November and December 1975 (Exhibits "B", "B-l" to "B-5"). She was not,
however, paid. As early as October 1975, she went to the Municipal Treasurer to receive her salary, but she was told that there was no money yet.
In November 1975, she went to see the accused, but the latter told her to see the treasurer. She went to the treasurer who told her that there was
no money. because of this, she went to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan at the Provincial Capitol in Ilagan, Isabela, to ask (sic) information regarding
her unpaid salaries. She was interviewed by Atty. Efren Ambrosia Provincial Administrator. Atty. Ambrosio asked her if she had complete
appointment papers. hereafter, she filed her verified complaint dated April 20, 1976, against the accused. Her complaint is addressed to Governor
Faustino N. Dy (Exhibit "G" and "G-1").

It also appears from the evidence that the Municipal council of Angadanan, Isabela, failed to enact the annual budget for the municipality for the
Fiscal Year 1975-1976 (Exhs. "H", "H-l", and "H-2"). Accordingly, and pursuant to PD No. 477, the annual budget for the previous Fiscal Year 1974-
1975, was deemed re-enacted (Exh. "H- l"). Thus, the Municipal Plantilla of Personnel for the Fiscal Year 1975-1976 is the same as the Plantilla of
Personnel for the Fiscal Year 1975-1976. No supplemental budget was enacted by the municipal council of Angadanan.

In the Plantilla of Personnel for 1974-1975, which was deemed re-enacted for the Fiscal Year 1975-1976, there was no new item or appropriation for
the position of clerk in the Office of the Municipal Secretary of Angadanan, Isabela. The new position of clerk in the office of the Municipal Council
appearing in the Municipal Plantilla for Personnel (Exhibit "H-2") for 1974- 1975, was filled up as early as October 16, 1974 by the accused when he
appointed Clarita G. Ramirez to that position (Exhibits "J" and "J-2"). With respect to the new position of a Clerk to the office of the Municipal Mayor
in the Plantilla for 1974-1975, it was already filled-up by the appointment of Miss Marivic A. Tallod on June 16, 1975, by the accused (Exhibits "K"
and "K-4"). As early as June 28, 1974, the same position was held by Miss Felicidad Visitacion who was appointed by the accused, but she resigned
(Exhs. "K" and "K-l").

x x x

[Rollo, pp. 26, 28, 29-30.]


After trial, the Court found the petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged and decreed:

WHEREFORE, finding the accused Manuel L. Siquian guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of falsification of public document as charged in
the information, the Court hereby sentences said accused to suffer an indeterminate penalty of from FIVE (5) YEARS, EIGHT (8) MONTHS and ONE
(1) DAY of prision correctional (sic) as minimum to SEVEN YEARS of prision mayor as maximum and to pay a fine of THREE THOUSAND (P 3,000.00)
PESOS.

SO ORDERED. [Rollo, p. 35.]

On appeal, the respondent Court of Appeals ruled as follows:

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is in accordance with law and the evidence and is hereby therefore affirmed. Costs against the accused-
appellant.

SO ORDERED. [Rollo, p. 42.]

Hence, this petition for review seeking reversal of the CA decision and the acquittal of petitioner Manuel L. Siquian. Petitioner contends that the
respondent court has decided a question of substance not in accord with law and jurisprudence when it affirmed the decision of the trial court
convicting him of the crime of falsification despite the following

A. The evidence on record which consists of the testimony of the prosecution's principal witness, shows the absence of criminal intent on the
part of the accused.

B. There is no evidence that the accused took advantage of his position as Municipal Mayor when he made the allegedly falsified certification.

C. The statement that "Funds for the position are available" is not a narration of facts but a conclusion of law.

D. The petitioner was deprived of his right to due process of law when the trial court proceeded with the trial in his absence despite a
pending petition for change of venue with the Supreme Court. [Rollo, p. 13.]

Petitioner's arguments, however, are bereft of any merit.

The offense of falsification by a public officer under Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code is committed by "any public officer, employee or notary
who, taking advantage of his official position, shall falsify a document by committing any of the following acts: . . . 4. Making untruthful statements
in a narration of fact; . . .' It is settled that in this fourth kind of falsification, the following requisites must concur:

(a) That the offender makes in a document untruthful statements in a narration of facts;

(b) hat he has a legal obligation to disclose the truth of the facts narrated by him; and

(c) That the facts narrated by the offender are absolutely false Cabigas v. People, G.R. No. 67472, July 3, 1987, 152 SCRA 18.

All these requisites had been fully met in the case at bar. Petitioner, a public officer, being then the mayor of the municipality of Angadanan, Isabela,
made an untruthful statement in the narration of facts contained in the certification which he issued in connection with the appointment of
complainant Jesusa Carreon. The certification, having been issued by a public official in the exercise of the function of his office is a public document
[U.S. v. Asensi, 34 Phil. 765 (1915)]. It is immaterial whether or not the Civil Service Commissioner to whom the certification was addressed received
the document issued by petitioner. Since the certification was prepared by petitioner in accordance with the standard forms prescribed by the
government (specifically the Civil Service Commission) pursuant to law, the certification was invested with the character of a public document
[People v. Asensi, supra citing U.S. v. Vy Guico, 12 Phil. 209 (1908)] falsification of which is punishable under Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code.
Here, falsification of such document was committed when the petitioner stated that funds were available for the position to which Jesusa Carreon
was appointed when he knew that, in reality, the position itself did not even exist and no funds had been appropriated therefor.

Petitioner's stance that the certification which he issued contained no narration of facts but rather a conclusion of law is not meritorious. The
respondent court, upholding the Solicitor General's arguments, correctly ruled as follows:

Conclusion of law" is defined as a proposition not arrived at by any process of natural reasoning from a fact or combination of facts stated but by the
application of the artificial rules of law to the facts pleaded [Levins v. Rovegno, 71 Cal. 273, 12 p. 161; Black's Law Dict., p. 362].

From the above-cited definition, it can be deduced that the certification by the appellant that 'funds for the position are available' does not require
the application of the artificial rules of law. To certify that funds are available for the position what one should do was (sic) to refer to the budget
and plantilla of personnel of the applicable fiscal year and ascertain if such item exists and funds are allocated therefor.

In the present case, despite the presence of the records which shows that there is no position and funds therefor referred to in the certification, the
appellant, fully aware of the data provided by the records, certified falsely that "funds for the position are available" [Rollo, p. 41).

It is undisputed that the Municipal Council of Angadanan failed to enact the annual budget of the municipality for the Fiscal Year 1975-1976 and
therefore, the annual budget for the last fiscal year, 1974-1975, was deemed re-enacted under P.D. No. 477. In the Municipal Plantilla of Personnel
(Exh. "B-2") accompanying the Annual Budget for the Municipality of Angadanan, Isabela for the Fiscal Year 1974-1975, there is no such position as
Clerk to the Municipal Secretary in the Office of the Municipal Secretary, the position to which Jesusa Carreon was appointed. Accordingly, there is
no appropriation made in the Annual Budget for the Fiscal Year 1974-1975 for such position, thus rendering petitioner's statement in his
certification utterly false. The requisite of absolute falsity of the statement made in the document is met when there exists not even an iota of
colorable truth in what is declared in the narration of facts [U.S. v. Bayot, 10 Phil. 518 (1908)], as in this case. From the foregoing, it can be seen that
the first and third requirements laid down in the Cabigas case, supra, are fully satisfied.

The second element of the offense is likewise present. Under the civil service rules and regulations, specifically the Guidelines in the Preparation of
Appointment for Original Appointment (Exhs. "D" and "D-3"), a certification of the availability of funds for the position to be filled up is required to
be signed by the head of office or any officer who has been delegated the authority to sign. As an officer authorized by law to issue this certification
which is designated as Civil Service Form No. 203, as revised, the petitioner has a legal obligation to disclose the truth of the facts narrated by him in
said certification which includes information as to the availability of the funds for the position being filled up.

Contrary to petitioner's claim, the existence of a wrongful intent to injure a third person is not necessary when the falsified document is a public
document. This has already been authoritatively decreed in the 1955 case of People v. Po Giok To [96 Phil. 913 (1955)]. The Court in the
aforementioned case explicitly stated that wrongful intent on the part of the accused to injure a third person is not an essential element of the
crime of falsification of public document. The rationale for this principal distinction between falsification of public and private documents has been
stated by the Court in this wise: "In the falsification of public or official documents, whether by public officials or 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 truth as therein solemnly proclaimed" [People v. Po Giok To, supra
at 918, citing People v. Pacana, 47 Phil. 48 (1924)]. In falsification of public documents therefore, the controlling consideration is the public character
of a document and the existence of any prejudice caused to third persons or, at least, the intent to cause such damage becomes immaterial [People
v. Pacana, supra].

Petitioner's plea for acquittal on the ground that the evidence for the prosecution shows the absence of criminal intent on his part must be denied.
While this Court has declared good faith as a valid defense to falsification of public documents by making untruthful statements in a narration of
facts [U.S. v. San Jose, 7 Phil. 604 (1907)], such defense cannot serve to exonerate the petitioner since the element of good faith has not clearly been
shown to exist in the case at bar.

Under the applicable law at the time, petitioner, as municipal mayor of Angadanan, Isabela presides at all meetings of the municipal council [Section
2621 (d), Revised Administrative Code] and signs all ordinances and resolutions passed by the municipal council [Section 2624 (c), Revised
Administrative Code]. He was thus aware that (1) for failure to enact a budget for the Fiscal Year 1975-1976, Ordinance No. V of the Municipal
Council of Angadanan, Isabela which was the Municipal Annual Budget of Angadanan, Isabela for Fiscal Year 1974-1975 was re-enacted and (2) that
under the Municipal Plantilla of Personnel for that fiscal year, there were no funds appropriated for the position of clerk to the municipal secretary.
His knowledge of these facts is shown by the fact that he even affixed his signature in attestation to the correctness of these documents; i.e.
Ordinance No. V and Municipal Plantilla of Personnel. [See Exhs. "H-1" and "H-2", Folder of Exhibits, pp. 27-32]. He cannot claim good faith in issuing
a certification of the availability of funds for the questioned position since at the time he issued such certification on July 1, 1975, the fiscal year
1975- 1976 had already commenced and no new ordinance creating the new position to which he appointed Jesusa Carreon had been enacted by
the municipal council.

In view of the foregoing considerations, petitioner must be held criminally liable for his act of issuing the absolutely false certification as to the
availability of funds for the subject position. The law considers his act criminal since it amounts to an untruthful statement in a narration of facts in a
public document [Article 171 (4), Revised Penal Code]. Criminal intent and the will to commit a crime are presumed to exist on the part of the
person who executes an act which the law punishes, unless the contrary shall appear [United States v. Apostol, 14 Phil. 92 (1909)]. In this case, the
presumption that petitioner committed the act with criminal intention, which arose from proof of his commission of the unlawful act, stands
unrebutted.

Petitioner's claim that there was no showing that he took advantage of his official position in falsifying the document should likewise be rejected.
This essential element of falsification of a public document by public officer requires that the offender "abuse his office or use the influences
prestige or ascendancy which his office gives him, in committing the crime" [U.S. v. Rodriguez, 19 Phil. 150 (1911)]. Abuse of public office is
considered present when the offender falsifies a document in connection with the duties of his office which consist of either making or preparing or
otherwise intervening in the preparation of a document [U.S. v. Inosanto 20 Phil. 376 (1911); People v. Santiago Uy, 101 Phil. 159 (1957)], as in the
case of petitioner who was charged with the duty of issuing the certification necessary for the appointment of Jesusa Carreon.

Finally, the alleged denial of due process of law committed by the trial court when it proceeded with the trial of the case in the absence of the
petitioner despite a pending petition for change of venue with the Supreme Court is totally unfounded. A careful and thorough review of the record
reveals that petitioner had been afforded due process when the trial court, in view of the absence of petitioner, granted continuances to enable the
defense to present its evidence although the prosecution had rested its case as early as December 7, 1978. [See Original Records, p. 253, et seq.]

It is a basic postulate in law that what is repugnant to due process is not lack of previous notice but absolute lack of opportunity to be heard
[Tajonera v. Lamaroza, G.R. Nos. L-48097 & 49035, December 19, 1981, 110 SCRA 438]. Hence, this Court laid down this criterion to determine
whether an accused in a criminal case has been properly accorded due process of law:

. . . (I)f an accused has been heard in a court of competent jurisdiction and proceeded against under the orderly processes of law, and only punished
after inquiry and investigation, upon notice to him, with an opportunity to be heard, and a judgment awarded within the authority of a
constitutional law, then he has had due process of law. . . . [People v. Muit G.R. No. L-48875, October 21, 1982, 117 SCRA 696 citing People v.
Castillo, 776 Phil. 73 (1946); Emphasis supplied.]

Thus, there is no denial of due process when an accused is afforded the chance to present evidence on his behalf but due to his repeated,
unjustifiable failure to appear at the hearings, the trial court ordered the case to be deemed submitted upon the evidence presented by the
prosecution. For under such circumstances, he will be deemed to have waived his right to be present during the trial [Section 1 (c), Rule 115 of the
Revised Rules of Court] and his right to adduce evidence on his behalf [People v. Angco, 103 Phil. 33 (1958).]

It is true that he filed a petition for change of venue with the Supreme Court. However, on the date set for the hearing of the petitioner's urgent
motion to suspend the proceedings in the trial court due to the pendency of the petition for change of venue, he also failed to appear [See Order
dated January 18, 1985, Original Records, p. 428]. In fact, Atty. Romeo Calixto, one of the counsel for the petitioner, manifested before the trial
court that he was - withdrawing as counsel for his client for the reason that he has lost contact with the latter who already went abroad [See
Original Records, p. 435]. Hence, the trial court cannot be faulted for rendering its decision on the basis solely of the evidence presented by the
prosecution.

WHEREFORE, the appealed decision being in conformity with law and settled jurisprudence, the same is AFFIRMED and the instant petition is hereby
DENIED.

SO ORDERED.

Fernan, C.J., Feliciano and Bidin, JJ., concur.


SECOND DIVISION
[G.R. No. 43659 : December 21, 1990.]
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, vs. HON. FELICIDAD CARANDANG VILLALON and FEDERICO DE GUZMAN, Respondents.

DECISION

REGALADO, J.:

Assailed in this special civil action for Certiorari is the order rendered by Judge Manuel Castañeda on January 28, 1976 dismissing Criminal Case No.
D-868 of the former Court of First Instance of Pangasinan, and the order rendered in the same case on March 22, 1976 by his successor, the herein
public respondent, denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration of the aforesaid order of dismissal.

Culled from the records, 1 it appears that complainant Mariano Carrera and his brother, Severo Carrera, are co-owners of a parcel of land located at
Barrio Buenlag, Binmaley, Pangasinan, registered in their names under Transfer Certificate of Title No. 47682.

On February 5, 1964, complainant allegedly executed a special power of attorney before Notary Public Jaime B. Arzadon, Jr., naming private
respondent Federico de Guzman as his lawful attorney-in-fact. On February 13, 1964, private respondent mortgaged the parcel of land with the
People's Bank and Trust Company in Dagupan City using the said special power of attorney, and was able to obtain the amount of P8,500.00 as a
loan from the mortgagee bank. Both the special power of attorney and the mortgage contract were duly registered in the Registry of Deeds of
Pangasinan on February 13, 1964.:- nad

After the expiration of the term of the mortgage, and the mortgage account not having been paid, the mortgagee bank foreclosed said mortgage
and the land was sold to one Ramon Serafica and Vileta Quinto who were issued Transfer Certificate of Title No. 85181 for said property. In January,
1972, complainant allegedly discovered that their property was already registered in the name of said Ramon Serafica when the latter filed on said
date an action for the ejectment of the former from the premises.

On March 29, 1974, Criminal Case No. D-868 for estafa thru falsification of a public document was filed against private respondent in the then Court
of First Instance of Pangasinan, the information reading as follows:

"That on or about the 15th day of February, 1964, in the City of Dagupan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Court, the abovenamed
accused FEDERICO DE GUZMAN, being then a private individual, after having in his possession Transfer Certificate of Title No. 47682, did then and
there, wilfully, unlawfully and criminally falsify and forge the signature of one MARIANO F. CARRERA, in a Power of Attorney, causing and making it
appear that the said MARIANO F. CARRERA, signed and affixed his signature in the said Power of Attorney, which is a public document, when as a
matter of fact and in truth, said MARIANO F. CARRERA, did not in anyway (sic) participate in any acts thereof, nor gave his permission, and in order
to make good the acts of falsification, with intent of gain and by means of fraud and other deceits, the said accused FEDERICO DE GUZMAN, thru the
said falsified public document (Power of Attorney) did succeed in securing the loan from the People's Bank and Trust Company in the amount of
EIGHT THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED PESOS (P8,500.00) Philippine currency, without the knowledge and consent of said MARIANO F. CARRERA, to the
damage and prejudice of the latter in the amount of P4,250.00, and other consequential damages." 2

After arraignment where private respondent pleaded not guilty, the case proceeded to trial and the prosecution presented complainant Mariano F.
Carrera and one Melanio Esguig from the Office of the Register of Deeds for the Province of Pangasinan. Another witness, Col. Jose G. Fernandez, a
handwriting expert, gave his partial testimony but the same was not continued as counsel for private respondent moved for and was granted leave
to file a motion to dismiss.

On December 16, 1975, the motion to dismiss 3 was filed, wherein it was alleged that the crime charged would not lie due to the partial testimony
of complainant allegedly to the effect that he authorized private respondent to mortgage the said one-half portion of the land owned by him and his
brother. Said partial testimony of complainant was quoted, with the emphasized portions, as follows:

"Q Mr. Carrera, do you know what happened to the title of your property at present?
A Yes, sir, I know.
Q Could you tell us what happened to your title?
A It was foreclosed by the Bank, sir.
Q Now, you said that it was foreclosed by the Bank. Do you know the reason why it was foreclosed by the Bank?
A Yes, sir.
Q Could you tell this Honorable Court how it was foreclosed by the Bank?
A Yes, sir. On February 10, 1964, my brother Severo Carrera went to Manila and he asked me to sign a document as a witness and I asked him he
interpreted that this is an authorization to Federico de Guzman to get a loan from the Bank on the half portion of the land which belongs to me, my
brother said.
Q So sometime in 1964, your older brother Severo Carrera went to you in Manila and asked you to sign a power of attorney authorizing de Guzman
to mortgage the one-half portion of that land owned by you and your brother. Do you have any document to show that?

xxx

ATTY. DIAZ:
Q Can you recognize that document which you signed in 1964 if shown to you?
A Yes, sir.
Q Now I am asking . . . I am showing here a document which is, your Honor, for the purpose of identification, and may we request that it be marked
as Exhibit B for the prosecution. This document consist (sic) of two pages, your Honor, and the first page be marked as Exhibit B and the second page
be marked as Exhibit B-1, page two. Will you tell this Honorable Court what is this?
A This is the document brought by my brother to Manila for me to sign, sir.

xxx

(Hearing of June 18, 1974, pp. 8-10; Emphasis supplied)" 4

Based on the aforequoted testimony, private respondent contends that there is no sufficient basis for the charge and this fact warrants the dismissal
of the case.
Private respondent also claims that the crime has prescribed since more than ten (10) years had elapsed from the time the crime was committed.
Since the information charges the complex crime of estafa thru falsification of a public document, then the penalty shall be that for the more serious
crime which shall be applied in its maximum period, as provided for by Article 48 of the Penal Code. The more serious crime in the present case is
the falsification of the public document which is punishable with prision correccional in its medium and maximum period and a fine not exceeding
P5,000.00. Prision correccional being a correctional penalty, the same prescribes in ten (10) years.

It was noted in said motion to dismiss that the information filed in the case merely alleged the date of the commission of the crime which was
February 5, 1964 and the information was filed only on March 29, 1974. This being the case, private respondent claims that more than ten (10) years
has passed from the commission of the crime to the filing of the information. No other allegation having been made as to the discovery of the
alleged crime, private respondent claimed that the period of prescription commenced on the day on which the crime was committed. He asserts
that, from the date appearing in the transfer certificate of title covering the land mortgaged with the bank, the mortgage documents were duly
registered with the Registry of Deeds of Dagupan City on February 13, 1984, hence the alleged crime became public knowledge on the same date. To
support his theory, private respondent made the following citation:

"The period of prescription commences to run from the date of the commission of the crime if it is known at the time of its commission.:-cralaw

"Thus, if there is nothing that was concealed or needed to be discovered, because the entire series of transactions was by public instruments, duly
recorded, the crime of estafa committed in connection with said transaction was known to the offended party when it was committed and the
period of prescription commenced to run from the date of its commission. People v. Dinsay, C.A. 40 O.G. 12th Supp. 50 (The Revised Penal Code by
Justice Luis B. Reyes, Revised Edition 1967, Vol. I, pp. 711-712)." 5

The prosecution countered that the testimony of Mariano Carrera shows that what was intended was an authority to mortgage only the one-half
portion pertaining to his brother and he was only quoting what his brother told him when he said that ". . . this is an authority to Federico de
Guzman to get a loan from the bank on the half portion of the land which belongs to me, my brother said." 6

It further submitted that the information was not filed out of time since the date to be considered should not be the date of registration of the
alleged power of attorney on February 13, 1964. It argued that the crime was actually discovered only in January, 1972 when Ramon S. Serafica filed
an action to eject complainant from the premises, which fact was not alleged in the information because it was considered by the prosecution as a
mere evidentiary matter which would not be in accord with the legal truism that an "information must allege only ultimate facts and not evidentiary
matters." 7

With regard to the case of People vs. Dinsay cited by private respondent, petitioner submits that "(t)he same has only a persuasive effect and not to
be considered as an interpretation of Article 91 of the Revised Penal Code as the same is the sole prerogative of the Supreme Court." 8

As earlier noted, then Presiding Judge Manuel Castañeda of the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan, Branch III, dismissed the case on January 28,
1976 on the ground that the crime had prescribed. The People's motion for reconsideration was denied by the succeeding Presiding Judge Felicidad
Carandang Villalon.

On March 25, 1976, the prosecution filed a notice of appeal from both orders of the trial court. In a resolution dated May 13, 1976, this Court
required the prosecution to file a petition for review on Certiorari in accordance with Republic Act No. 5440. 9 Thereafter, said petition for review
and the corresponding comment and reply of the parties having been filed, on February 21, 1977 the Court resolved to treat said petition as a
special civil action and required petitioner and private respondent to submit their respective memoranda. 10

From the memoranda submitted, the Court is tasked with the resolution of the following issues:

1. Whether the People could appeal from the order of dismissal because the private respondent would thereby be placed in double jeopardy;

2. Whether the charge of estafa thru falsification of a public document filed against the private respondent has sufficient ground to exist in law and
in fact; and,

3. Whether the offense charged in the aforementioned criminal case is already extinguished by prescription. 11

The bar of double jeopardy is not involved in the present recourse. As enunciated in People vs. City Court of Manila, etc., et al.:

"As a general rule, the dismissal or termination of the case after arraignment and plea of the defendant to a valid information shall be a bar to
another prosecution for the offense charged, or for any attempt to commit the same or frustration thereof, or for any offense which necessarily
includes or is necessarily included in the complaint or information (Section 9, Rule 113). However, an appeal by the prosecution from the order of
dismissal (of the criminal case) by the trial court shall not constitute double jeopardy if (1) the dismissal is made upon motion, or with the express
consent, of the defendant, and (2) the dismissal is not an acquittal or based upon consideration of the evidence or of the merits of the case; and (3)
the question to be passed upon by the appellate court is purely legal so that should the dismissal be found incorrect, the case would have to be
remanded to the court of origin for further proceedings, to determine the guilt or innocence of the defendant." 12

On the issue of whether the charge of estafa thru falsification of a public document has sufficient basis to exist in fact and in law, we hold in the
affirmative. The falsification of a public document may be a means of committing estafa because before the falsified document is actually utilized to
defraud another, the crime of falsification has already been consummated, damage or intent to cause damage not being an element of the crime of
falsification of public, official or commercial documents. The damage to another is caused by the commission of estafa, not by the falsification of the
document, hence, the falsification of the public, official or commercial document is only a necessary means to commit the estafa. 13

Petitioner posits that the offense charged is supported by the fact that what was intended to be mortgaged was the one-half portion pertaining to
Severo Carrera, not the portion pertaining to complainant, otherwise complainant would not have quoted his brother's words. The theory of
petitioner and the findings of public respondent are substantially the same. We agree that the offense charged does exist in fact and in law, as
explained in the findings of the court below:

"In the light of the circumstances revealed by the partial testimony of complainant Mariano Carrera and of the record, as regards the first ground,
the court finds that the contention of the defense that the authorization given to him to mortgage the whole property is not sustained by the
evidence because a cursory study of the answer made by the witness complainant clearly shows that what was intended to be mortgaged was the
one-half (1/2) portion pertaining only to Severo Carrera, excluding that portion pertaining to said complainant. (T.S.N.. pp. 8-10, hearing on June 18,
1974). In other words, the alleged authorization given to Federico de Guzman to get a loan from the Bank on the half portion of the land referred to
the share of Severo Carrera only. This finding is based on the following quoted answer:
'A . . . and when I asked him he interpreted that this is an authorization to Federico de Guzman to get a loan from the bank on the half portion of the
land which belongs to me, my brother said.'

Mariano Carrera on June 18, 1974, gave the above-quoted testimony. He merely quoted his brother Severo Carrera to whom the half portion of the
land belongs. Severo Carrera, as quoted by Mariano Carrera, did not use the phrase `which belongs to you.'" 14

Notwithstanding the foregoing disquisition on the sufficiency of the charge of estafa thru falsification of a public document, the resolution of the
issue on prescription is, however, determinative of the validity of the impugned orders of public respondent.: nad

Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code provides that the penalty for a complex crime is that for the most serious component offense, the same to be
applied in its maximum period. In the crime of estafa thru falsification of a public document, the more serious crime is the falsification which carries
with it the correctional penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods and a fine not more than P5,000.00 imposed by Article
172 of the Code. Crimes punishable by correctional penalties prescribe in ten (10) years pursuant to Article 90 of the Code, and Article 91 thereof
states that the prescriptive period commences to run "from the day on which the crime is discovered by the offended party, the authorities, or their
agents . . ."

The document which was allegedly falsified was a notarized special power of attorney registered in the Registry of Deeds of Dagupan City on
February 13, 1964 authorizing private respondent to mortgage a parcel of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 47682 in order to secure a
loan of P8,500.00 from the People's Bank and Trust Company. The information for estafa thru falsification of a public document was filed only on
March 29, 1974. We reject petitioner's claim that the ten-year period commenced when complainant supposedly discovered the crime in January,
1972 by reason of the ejectment suit against him.

People vs. Reyes 15 cites authorities on the well established rule that registration in a public registry is a notice to the whole world. The record is
constructive notice of its contents as well as all interests, legal and equitable, included therein. All persons are charged with knowledge of what it
contains. On these considerations, it holds that the prior ruling in Cabral vs. Puno, etc., et al., 16 to the effect that in the crime of falsification of a
public document the prescriptive period commences from the time the offended party had constructive notice of the alleged forgery after the
document was registered with the Register of Deeds is not without legal basis.

It was also noted that in Armentia vs. Patriarca, et al., 17 in interpreting the phrase "from the discovery" found in Article 1391 of the Civil Code
which authorizes annulment, in case of mistake or fraud, within four years from the time of the discovery of the same, the Court also held that the
discovery must be reckoned to have taken place from the time the document was registered in the Register of Deeds, for the familiar rule is that
registration is a notice to the whole world and this should apply to both criminal and civil cases.: nad

We are further in accord with the conclusion in Reyes that the application of said rule on constructive notice in the interpretation of Article 91 of the
Revised Penal Code would most certainly be favorable to private respondent herein, since the prescriptive period of the crime shall have to be
reckoned with earlier, that is, from the time the questioned documents were recorded in the Registry of Deeds.

In the instant case, the special power of attorney involved was registered on February 13, 1964. The criminal information against private respondent
having been filed only on March 29, 1974, or more than ten (10) years thereafter, the crime with which private respondent was charged has
indubitably prescribed.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit and the challenged orders of public respondent are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

Melencio-Herrera, Paras, Padilla and Sarmiento, JJ., concur.


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
A.M. No. P-08-2549 June 18, 2010
ANONYMOUS, Complainant,
vs.
EMMA BALDONADO CURAMEN, Court Interpreter I, Municipal Trial Court, Rizal, Nueva Ecija, Respondent.

RESOLUTION

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

This is an administrative case against Emma Baldonado Curamen, Court Interpreter I in the Municipal Trial Court of Rizal in Nueva Ecija, for
dishonesty and falsification of a public document.

The Facts

On 6 March 2007, the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) received an anonymous complaint1 charging respondent with falsification of a public
document and simulation of birth. The complaint alleged that respondent registered the birth of a child supposedly named Rica Mae Baldonado
Curamen in the local civil registry of Rizal, Nueva Ecija. Complainant submitted the child’s purported birth certificate2 to show respondent
misrepresented that she was the child’s biological mother and her husband, Ricardo Curamen, was the biological father. Complainant claimed
respondent was, in fact, the child’s maternal grandmother. Complainant submitted the child’s original birth certificate3 to show that the child’s real
name was Rinea Mae Curamen Aquino and that her parents were spouses Olga Mae Baldonado Curamen Aquino and Jun Aquino. According to
complainant, respondent included the child as additional dependent in her income tax declaration.

In his Report,4 Executive Judge Rodrigo S. Caspillo of the Regional Trial Court (Branch 24) of Cabanatuan City verified that Rinea Mae Curamen
Aquino and Rica Mae Baldonado Curamen were the same child. Judge Caspillo confirmed that the child was, in fact, respondent’s granddaughter.
The child’s real mother, Olga, was one of respondent’s children. On 27 November 2005, Olga gave birth to a child named Rinea Mae Curamen
Aquino. The fact of birth was registered in the Civil Registry of Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija under Registry No. 2005-15495. The birth certificate
indicated that the child’s parents were Olga Mae Baldonado Curamen and Jun Aquino.

Judge Caspillo verified that on 31 March 2006, respondent executed an affidavit for delayed registration of the alleged birth of her child. Respondent
claimed that her supposed child, Rica Mae Baldonado Curamen, was born on 30 November 2005. Respondent’s application was given due course
and the supposed birth of Rica Mae Baldonado Curamen was registered in the Civil Registry of Rizal, Nueva Ecija under Registry No. 2006-507. This
second birth certificate of the child indicated that the child’s parents were respondent and her husband.

In her Comment,5 respondent admitted that the real parents of the child were spouses Olga Mae Baldonado Curamen and Jun Aquino. Respondent
claimed that the child’s parents, being unemployed, were unable to support themselves let alone their child. She asserted that the child’s parents
actually depended on her and her husband for support. According to respondent, it was the child’s parents themselves who proposed to register the
birth of the child anew. Respondent insisted she had no intention to conceal the true identity of the child. Respondent justified her act as an
example of a common practice among Filipinos to extend help to family members. As to the alleged falsification of her income tax return,
respondent denied listing the child as additional dependent.

The OCA’s Report and Recommendation

As to the alleged falsification of the child’s birth certificate, the OCA, in its Report and Recommendation,6 found respondent guilty of conduct
prejudicial to the best interest of the service. According to the OCA, respondent’s act created a negative impression in the minds of the public that
court officials could violate the law with impunity. As for the alleged falsification of respondent’s income tax return, the OCA found no evidence that
respondent claimed the child as additional dependent. The OCA recommended that respondent be suspended from the service for six months and
one day, thus:

Respectfully submitted for the consideration of this Honorable Court are our recommendations that:

1. this administrative complaint be RE-DOCKETED as a regular administrative matter;

2. respondent Emma Baldonado Curamen, Court Interpreter I, Municipal Trial Court, Rizal, Nueva Ecija, be found GUILTY of Conduct Prejudicial to
the Best Interest of the Service and be SUSPENDED FROM THE SERVICE for a period of six (6) months and one (1) day, the same to take effect
immediately upon receipt by the respondent of the Court’s decision;

3. Ms. Carmelita N. Ericta, Administrator and Civil Registrar General, National Census Statistics Office, be FURNISHED a copy of the Court’s decision,
the Certificate of Live Birth of Rica Mae Baldonado Curamen, and the Affidavit for Delayed Registration of Birth executed by the respondent so that
appropriate amendments relative to the true circumstances of the birth of one "Rinea Mae Curamen Aquino" can be effected; and

4. the Provincial Prosecutor of Nueva Ecija be FURNISHED with a copy of the Court’s decision on this administrative matter for appropriate action.7

The Court’s Ruling

As to the alleged falsification of respondent’s income tax return, we find no evidence on record showing that respondent listed the child as
additional dependent. Respondent presented a certification8 issued by the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office of Rizal, Nueva Ecija as
well as her income tax returns for taxable years 2005 and 2006 to prove that the only dependent she claimed was her 90-year old father, Rafael
Baldonado. Against this, complainant has nothing but bare allegations. Whoever alleges a fact must prove that fact by convincing evidence.9
Complainant failed on this score.

With respect to the alleged falsification of the child’s birth certificate, we find respondent guilty of dishonesty and falsification of a public document.
A birth certificate, being a public document, serves as prima facie evidence of filiation.10 The making of a false statement therein constitutes
dishonesty and falsification of a public document.
Respondent cannot escape liability by claiming that she did not have any intention to conceal the identity of the child nor cause the loss of any trace
as to the child’s true filiation to the child’s prejudice. When public documents are falsified, the intent to injure a third person need not be present
because the principal thing punished is the violation of the public faith and the destruction of the truth the document proclaims.11

Respondent’s justification for her act – that the true parents of the child are unable to support the child as they are fully dependent on respondent
for their own support – is an affront to common sense. It taxes one’s imagination how concealment of the child’s true parents, through falsification
of the child’s birth certificate, will make it easier for respondent to support the child. Respondent can very well continue supporting the child as her
own, as is the practice in Filipino families, without having to tamper with the child’s birth certificate.

Dishonesty is defined as intentionally making a false statement on any material fact in securing one’s examination, appointment, or registration.12
Dishonesty is a serious offense which reflects a person’s character and exposes the moral decay which virtually destroys honor, virtue, and
integrity.13 It is a malevolent act that has no place in the judiciary, as no other office in the government service exacts a greater demand for moral
righteousness from an employee than a position in the judiciary.141avvphi1

No doubt, court officials occupy an exalted position in society. They enjoy authoritative influence, which leaves the innocent public unlikely to raise
any objection. Unfortunately, this is also the reason why they have more opportunities to commit dishonest acts. But dishonesty has no place in the
judiciary and the Court will not hesitate to remove from among its ranks those found to be dishonest.

Under Section 52, Rule XIV of the Omnibus Rules Implementing Book V of Executive Order No. 292 and Other Pertinent Civil Service Laws,
dishonesty and falsification of a public document are considered grave offenses punishable by dismissal for the first offense.

Dishonesty, in order to warrant dismissal, need not be committed in the course of the performance of official duties.15 If a government officer is
dishonest, even if the conduct is not connected with the official function, it affects the discipline and morale of the service.16 The government
cannot tolerate in its service a dishonest employee, even if official duties are performed well. Respondent cannot separate her private life as a
registrant of the child’s false birth certificate from her public life as a court official. She is subject to discipline the moment she commits a dishonest
act, whether in her private life or in her public life.

However, the extreme penalty of dismissal is not automatically imposed, especially where mitigating circumstances exist. Although under the
schedule of penalties adopted by the Civil Service, dishonesty and falsification of a public document are classified as grave offenses punishable by
dismissal, the fact that this is respondent’s first offense may be considered a mitigating circumstance in her favor. The law requires that the
mitigating circumstance must first be pleaded by the proper party.17 But in the interest of substantial justice, we may appreciate the mitigating
circumstance in the imposition of penalty, even if not raised by respondent.18

We thus impose on respondent the penalty next lower in degree, which is suspension for six months and one day without pay with a stern warning
that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future shall be dealt with more severely.

WHEREFORE, respondent Emma Baldonado Curamen, Court Interpreter I in the Municipal Trial Court of Rizal in Nueva Ecija, is found GUILTY of
dishonesty and falsification of a public document and SUSPENDED for six (6) months and one (1) day without pay with a STERN WARNING that a
repetition of the same or similar acts in the future shall be dealt with more severely.

Let copies of this Resolution be furnished the Provincial Prosecutor of Nueva Ecija for appropriate action, including the possible filing of a special
proceeding for the cancellation of the Certificate of Live Birth of Rica Mae Baldonado Curamen as well as the Affidavit for Delayed Registration of
Birth executed by respondent.

SO ORDERED.