CASE BRIEF 2006-0267

CASE: Anicia Ramos-Andan vs.People of the Philippines [G.R. No. 136388 March 14, 2006]

PONENTE: Sandoval-Gutierrez, J.:

SUBJECT:

1.       Criminal Law – Article 315, paragraph 2(d) of the RPC

FACTS:     Anicia Ramos-Andan and Potenciana Nieto approached Elizabeth E. Calderon and offered to buy the latter’s 18-carat heart-shaped diamond ring. Elizabeth agreed to sell her ring. In turn, Potenciana tendered her three (3) postdated checks. To evidence the transaction, the parties prepared a receipt evidencing the sale. Anicia signed the same.When Elizabeth deposited the checks upon maturity with the drawee bank, they bounced for the reason “Account Closed.” She then sent Potenciana a demand letter to pay, but she refused.

Elizabeth filed a Complaint for Estafa against Anicia and Potenciana. Finding a probable cause for Estafa against them, the Prosecutor filed the corresponding Information for Estafa with the Regional Trial Court. Subsequently, Anicia was arrested but Potenciana has remained at large.

During the hearing, Andan denied buying a diamond ring from Elizabeth, maintaining that she signed the receipt and the checks merely as a witness to the transaction between Elizabeth and Potenciana. Thus, she could not be held liable for the bounced checks she did not issue.

ISSUE:

Whether Anicia cannot be held criminally liable considering that she is not the drawer of the checks.

RULING:

While it was Potenciana who draws the checks, however, it was Anicia who directly and personally negotiated the same. It was she who signed the receipt evidencing the sale. It was she who handed the checks to Elizabeth and endorsed them as payment for the ring. It is thus clear that Anicia and Potenciana acted in concert for the purpose of inducing and defrauding Elizabeth to part with her jewelry.

The elements of the offense as defined and penalized by Article 315, paragraph 2(d) of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, are:
(1) postdating or issuance of a check in payment of an obligation contracted at the time the check was issued;
(2) lack of or insufficiency of funds to cover the check; and
(3) the payee was not informed by the offender and the payee did not know that the offender had no funds or insufficient funds.

All these elements are present in this case. The prosecution proved that the checks were issued in payment of a simultaneous obligation, i.e., the checks were issued in payment for the ring. The checks bounced when Elizabeth deposited them for the reason “Account Closed.” There is no showing whatsoever that before Anicia handed and endorsed the checks to Elizabeth, she took steps to ascertain that Potenciana has sufficient funds in her account. Upon being informed that the checks bounced, she failed to give an adequate explanation why Potenciana’s account was closed. In Echaus v. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. L-57343 July 23, 1990), we ruled that “the fact that the postdated checks…were not covered by sufficient funds, when they fell due, in the absence of any explanation or justification by petitioner, satisfied the element of deceit in the crime of estafa, as defined in paragraph 2 of Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code.”

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THINGS DECIDED:

A)       The elements of the offense as defined and penalized by Article 315, paragraph 2(d) of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, are:

(1) postdating or issuance of a check in payment of an obligation contracted at the time the check was issued;
(2) lack of or insufficiency of funds to cover the check; and
(3) the payee was not informed by the offender and the payee did not know that the offender had no funds or insufficient funds.

B)       The fact that the postdated checks were not covered by sufficient funds, when they fell due, in the absence of any explanation or justification by petitioner, satisfied the element of deceit in the crime of estafa, as defined in paragraph 2 of Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code.”  [Echaus v. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. L-57343 July 23, 1990)]

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