CASE BrieF 2019-0132

CASE: Juvy Desmoparan @ “Masyador” vs. People of the Philippines [G.R. No. 233598, March 27, 2019]

PONENTE: Peralta, J.:

SUBJECT:

  1. Criminal Law:
    i. Complex Crime (Article 48 RPC);
    ii. Falsification of Commercial Documents (Article 172 RPC)
    iii. Estafa
    iv. Indeterminate Sentence Law

“In the absence of a satisfactory explanation, as in this case, one
who is found in possession of a forged document and who used or uttered it is presumed to be the forger.”


FACTS:   Desmoparan misrepresented himself to be an employee of the City Engineer’s Office, by using the name “Rodulfo M. Cordura,” to apply a salary loan from CFI. Desmoparan presented an ID with his picture on it, but bearing the name “Rodulfo M. Cordura” to support his application for loan.

Because of Desmoparan’s misrepresentation, CFI released to him the cash advances amounting to P40,000.00.

Soon thereafter CFI found out the irregularities when the real Rodulfo Cordura went to CFI to verify the information that somebody had fraudulently applied for a salary loan using his name and qualifications.

Desmoparan was eventually apprehended. He was charged and convicted for estafa through falsification of commercial documents by RTC.

When Desmoparan filed a petition for review on certiorari with the Supreme Court, he prayed for his acquittal arguing that the prosecution witnesses admitted that they never saw him fill up the loan documents.

ISSUES:
A. Whether the element of falsification of commercial documents under Article 172 (1), in relation to Article 171, of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, were sufficiently established.

B. Is there a need for the prosecution to present direct proof that Desmoparan was the author of the falsification?

C. Whether the elements of the crime of estafa are present in this case.

D. Whether Desmoparan is guilty of the complex crime of estafa through falsification of commercial documents.

RULING:

A) The elements of the crime of falsification of commercial documents under Article 172 (1), in relation to Article 171, of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. (RA) 10951, are: “(1) that the offender is a private individual x x x; (2) that the offender committed any of the acts of falsification enumerated in Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code; and, (3) that the act of falsification is committed in a x x x commercial document.”

In the instant case, all the above-mentioned elements were sufficiently established. 

First, Desmoparan is a private individual; second, the acts of falsification consisted in Desmoparan’s act of causing it to appear that Cordura had participated in the act of applying for a loan when, in fact, he did not do so; and third, the falsification was committed in a loan application, a deed of assignment, and a promissory note, which are all commercial documents.

B) It cannot be said that just because none of the prosecution witnesses actually saw Desmoparan do the act of falsifying, the latter cannot be held liable for falsification. Considering that Desmoparan had in his possession the falsified loan documents and had actually took advantage of and profited from them, the presumption is that he is the material author of the falsification.

The absence of a direct proof that Desmoparan was the author of the falsification is of no moment for the rule remains that whenever someone has in his possession falsified documents and uttered or used the same for his advantage and benefit, the presumption that he authored it arises.

In the absence of a satisfactory explanation, as in this case, one who is found in possession of a forged document and who used or uttered it is presumed to be the forger.

C) In general, the elements of estafa are: (1) that the accused defrauded another (a) by abuse of confidence or (b) by means of deceit; and (2) that damage or prejudice capable of pecuniary estimation is caused to the offended party or third person.

In the instant case, Desmoparan used the falsified documents bearing the name and qualifications of Cordura in fraudulently applying for a salary loan, which resulted in the eventual release and withdrawing of the cash advance amounting to a total of P40,000.00 from CFI. Clearly, Desmoparan employed deceit by falsifying loan documents in order to take hold of the money and, thereafter, convert it to his own personal use and benefit, resulting in the damage and prejudice of CFI and Cordura.

D) Desmoparan is guilty of the complex crime of estafa through falsification of commercial documents since the crime of falsification was established to be a necessary means to commit estafa.

When the offender commits on a public, official, or commercial document any of the acts of falsification enumerated in Article 171of the Revised Penal Code as a necessary means to commit another crime like estafa, the two crimes form a complex crime. Under Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code,there are two classes of a complex crime. A complex crime may refer to a single act which constitutes two or more grave or less grave felonies or to an offense as a necessary means for committing another.

In this case, Desmoparan could not have succeeded in getting hold of the money without falsifying the loan documents bearing the name and qualifications of Cordura, and make it appear that he is actually the real Cordura. The falsification was, therefore, a necessary means to commit estafa, and falsification was already consummated even before the falsified documents were used to defraud CFI.
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>>Important Note: Please read below how the Supreme Court modified the indeterminate sentence imposable upon Desmoparan. As to the proper penalty, the Court ruled:

With the passage of RA 10951, the penalties of some crimes which are dependent on the value of the subject matter of the crimes have been greatly affected, and one of these is estafa. The law being more favorable to the Desmoparan, the same is given a retroactive effect.

Below is the comparison of the penalty for Estafa under the old provisions of the Revised Penal Code and RA 10951.

Revised Penal Code RA 10951
Art. 315. Swindling (estafa). — xxx

1st.
 The penalty of prision correccional
in its maximum period to prision mayor in its minimum period, if the amount of the fraud is over 12,000 pesos but does not exceed 22,000 pesos, and if such amount exceeds the latter sum, the penalty provided in this paragraph shall be imposed in its maximum period, adding one year for each additional 10,000 pesos; xxx
ART. 315. Swindling (estafa). — xxx

4th. By arresto mayor in its medium and maximum periods, if such amount does not exceed Forty thousand  pesos (P40,000)

On the other hand, hereunder is the comparison of the penalties of falsification of commercial documents under the old provisions of the Revised Penal Code and RA 10951:

Revised Penal Code RA 10951
Art. 172. Falsification by private individual and use of falsified documents. — The penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods and a fine of not more than P5,000 pesos shall be imposed xxx ART. 172. Falsification by private individual and use of falsified documents. – The penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods and a fine of not more than One million pesos (P1,000,000) shall be imposed xxx


From the given comparisons, both under the Revised Penal Code and RA 10951, the imposable penalty for estafa is based on the amount of damage. In this case, the amount defrauded is Forty Thousand Pesos (P40,000.00), representing the total amount of money actually released and received by Desmoparan from CFI. As such, the prescribed penalty as provided under paragraph 4, Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by RA 10951, is arresto mayor in its medium and maximum periods, since the amount does not exceed Forty Thousand Pesos (P40,000.00). Meanwhile, under the old provisions of the Revised Penal Code, the imposable penalty is prision correccional, in its maximum period, to prision mayor, in its minimum period, if the amount of the fraud is over Twelve Thousand Pesos (P12,000.00), but does not exceed Twenty-Two Thousand Pesos (P22,000.00); and, if such amount exceeds the latter sum, the penalty provided in this paragraph shall be imposed in its maximum period, adding one year for each additional Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00). Thus, the penalty for estafa under the new law should be given retroactive effect, being more favorable to the petitioner.


In contrast, for falsification of a commercial document, the penalty of imprisonment is the same for both Article 172 (1), in relation to Article 171 (2), of the Revised Penal Code and RA 10951 which is prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods, albeit, the imposable fine is different. Under the Revised Penal Code, the imposable fine is not more than Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00); while under RA 10951, the imposable fine is not more than One Million Pesos (P1,000,000.00).

Thus, the penalty of imprisonment in the crime of estafa under RA 10951 is now lighter than the penalty of imprisonment for falsification of commercial documents. Applying then the provisions of Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code for the complex crime of estafa through falsification of commercial documents, the penalty for the graver offense should be imposed in the maximum period. Thus, the penalty for falsification of commercial documents should be imposed in the maximum period, being the more serious crime than estafa. However, the penalty of fine of not more than Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) under the old law should be imposed because this is more favorable to the petitioner than the penalty of fine of not more than One Million Pesos (P1,000,000.00) under the present law.

We, thus, modify the indeterminate sentence imposable on Desmoparan so that the minimum term should, come from the penalty next lower in degree which is arresto mayor, maximum, to prision correccional, minimum (4 months and 1 day to 2 years and 4 months), and the maximum term should come from prision correccional, medium, to prision correccional, maximum, in its maximum period (4 years, 9 months and 11 days to 6 years).”

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THINGS DECIDED:

A)       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.

B)       In general, the elements of estafa are: (1) that the accused defrauded another (a) by abuse of confidence or (b) by means of deceit; and (2) that damage or prejudice capable of pecuniary estimation is caused to the offended party or third person.

C)      Under Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code,there are two classes of a complex crime. A complex crime may refer to a single act which constitutes two or more grave or less grave felonies or to an offense as a necessary means for committing another.

D)      When the offender commits on a public, official, or commercial document any of the acts of falsification enumerated in Article 171of the Revised Penal Code as a necessary means to commit another crime like estafa, the two crimes form a complex crime.

 ‘Stand by things decided’ ~ Stare Decisis


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