Case Brief: Gonzaludo vs. People

G.R. No. 150910 February 6, 2006
BIENVENIDO GONZALUDO, Petitioner,
vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

Facts:
Before his death in 1992, one Ulysses Villaflor married Anita Manlangit. Eventually, the two had to live separately due to the nature of their jobs. Ulysses was re-assigned to Bacolod City. And in December 1978, he was able to buy a small house located in Bacolod City.
Then, in 1985, Ulysses took one Rosemarie Gelogo as his mistress and brought her into the house. In time, improvements were made on the house. What used to be a small house, which Ulysses bought for only P1,500.00, was thus transformed into a 2-storey structure partially made of concrete hollow blocks and with galvanized iron roofing which thereby enhanced its value to P200,000.00.
After Ulysses’s demise, his mistress Rosemarie Gelogo offered to sell the 2-storey house forP80,000.00 to herein petitioner Bienvenido Gonzaludo. He did not buy the house, but he convinced the spouses Gregg Canlas and Melba Canlas, to whom he is related by affinity, to buy the same.
Rosemarie Gelogo and Gregg Canlas executed a Deed of Sale, witnessed by petitioner. In that deed, Rosemarie Gelogo signed as Rosemarie G. Villaflor and represented herself to be the lawful owner of the 2-storey house.
Later, Ulysses’s widow Anita Manlangit filed an information charging Rosemarie Gelogo, alias Rosemarie Villaflor, the spouses Gregg Canlas and Melba Canlas and petitioner with the crime of Estafa thru Falsification of Public Document. While Gelogo remained at large and spouses Canlas were acquitted, petitioner Gonzaludo was convicted of such crime.
Petitioner alleged that he should not be convicted of the crime of Estafa thru Falsification of Public Document because not all elements of the crime are present.

Issue:
Whether petitioner Gonzaludo committed the crime of Estafa thru Falsification of Public Document.

Held:
Gonzaldo did not commit the crime of estafa, but he did commit the crime of falsification of public document.
To secure conviction for estafa under Article 315, paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code, the following requisites must concur: (1) that the accused made false pretenses or fraudulent representations as to his power, influence, qualifications, property, credit, agency, business or imaginary transactions; (2) that such false pretenses or fraudulent representations were made prior to or simultaneous with the commission of the fraud; (3) that such false pretenses or fraudulent representations constitute the very cause which induced the offended party to part with his money or property; and (4) that as a result thereof, the offended party suffered damage.
There is no question that the first, second and fourth elements are present. It is petitioner’s thesis, however, that there is here an absence of the third element, i.e., “that such false pretenses or fraudulent representations constitute the very cause which induced the offended party to part with his money or property,” contending that private complainant Anita Manlangit, who was the offended party in this case, was never induced to part with any money or property by means of fraud, committed simultaneously with the false pretense or fraudulent representation by Rosemarie.
While it may be said that there was fraud or deceit committed by Rosemarie in this case, when she used the surname “Villaflor” to give her semblance of authority to sell the subject 2-storey house, such fraud or deceit was employed upon the Canlas spouses who were the ones who parted with their money when they bought the house. However, the Information charging Rosemarie of estafa in the present case, alleged damage or injury not upon the Canlas spouses, but upon private complainant, Anita Manlangit. Since the deceit or fraud was not the efficient cause and did not induce Anita Manlangit to part with her property in this case, Rosemarie cannot be held liable for estafa. With all the more reason must this be for herein petitioner Gonzaludo.
The lack of criminal liability for estafa, however, will not necessarily absolve petitioner from criminal liability arising from the charge of falsification of public document
As correctly found by the trial court, petitioner conspired with Rosemarie to falsify, by declaring Rosemarie to be the owner of the house subject of such sale and signing as “Rosemarie Villaflor” instead of her real name, Rosemarie Gelogo, in order to sell the same to the Canlas spouses. It is established by evidence beyond reasonable doubt that Rosemarie committed the crime of falsification of public document. Likewise, proof beyond reasonable doubt has been duly adduced to establish conspiracy between Rosemarie and petitioner Gonzalugo.

WHEREFORE, the assailed decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals are hereby MODIFIED. Petitioner is hereby ACQUITTED of the complex crime of Estafa through Falsification of Public Document, but found GUILTY of the crime of Falsification of Public Document.

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