Case Brief: Union Bank vs. People

G.R. No. 192565, February 28, 2012

UNION BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES and DESI TOMAS, Petitioners,

vs.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

 

Facts:  

Desi Tomas executed and signed the Certification against Forum Shopping. Then, she was charged of deliberately violating Article 183 of the RPC (perjury) “by falsely declaring under oath in the Certificate against Forum Shopping in the second complaint that she did not commence any other action or proceeding involving the same issue in another tribunal or agency”. The Certification was notarized in Makati City but was submitted and used in Pasay City, while the Information against Union Bank and Tomas was filed in Makati.

Tomas filed a Motion to Quash. She argued that the venue was improperly laid since it is the Pasay City Court (where the Certificate against Forum Shopping was submitted and used) and not the MeTC-Makati City (where the Certificate against Forum Shopping was subscribed) that has jurisdiction over the perjury case.

The MeTC-Makati City denied the Motion to Quash, ruling that it has jurisdiction over the case since the Certificate against Forum Shopping was notarized in Makati City. The MeTC-Makati City also ruled that the allegations in the Information sufficiently charged Tomas with perjury.

The petitioners filed a petition for certiorari before the RTC-Makati City to annul and set aside the MeTC-Makati City orders on the ground of grave abuse of discretion. The petitioners anchored their petition on the rulings in United States v. Canet and Ilusorio v. Bildner which ruled that venue and jurisdiction should be in the place where the false document was presented.

Issue:

Whether or not the proper venue of perjury under Article 183 of the RPC should be – Makati City, where the Certificate against Forum Shopping was notarized, or Pasay City, where the Certification was presented to the trial court.

Held: 

The SC denied the petition and held that the MeTC-Makati City is the proper venue and the proper court to take cognizance of the perjury case against the petitioners.

The criminal charged was for the execution by Tomas of an affidavit that contained a falsity. Article 183 of the RPC is indeed the applicable provision; thus, jurisdiction and venue should be determined on the basis of this article which penalizes one who “makes an affidavit, upon any material matter before a competent person authorized to administer an oath in cases in which the law so requires.” The constitutive act of the offense is the making of an affidavit; thus, the criminal act is consummated when the statement containing a falsity is subscribed and sworn before a duly authorized person.

Based on these considerations, SC held that its ruling in Sy Tiong is more in accord with Article 183 of the RPC and Section 15(a), Rule 110 of the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. To reiterate for the guidance of the Bar and the Bench, the crime of perjury committed through the making of a false affidavit under Article 183 of the RPC is committed at the time the affiant subscribes and swears to his or her affidavit since it is at that time that all the elements of the crime of perjury are executed. When the crime is committed through false testimony under oath in a proceeding that is neither criminal nor civil, venue is at the place where the testimony under oath is given. If in lieu of or as supplement to the actual testimony made in a proceeding that is neither criminal nor civil, a written sworn statement is submitted, venue may either be at the place where the sworn statement is submitted or where the oath was taken as the taking of the oath and the submission are both material ingredients of the crime committed. In all cases, determination of venue shall be based on the acts alleged in the Information to be constitutive of the crime committed.

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Case Brief: People vs Pangilinan

People of the Philippines
vs
Alfredo Pangilinan y Trinidad
G.R. No. 171020, March 14, 2007

FACTS:
Pangilinan is the husband of BBB and the father of AAA. On September 9, 1995, AAA felt that appellant approach their bed where she and her two siblings are sleeping. Appellant removed her shorts and lay on top of her. Her hands were pinned down above her head by the appellant. Appellant tried to insert her penis on the vagina of AAA but was not successful. On the following night, again appellant did the same but this time he had forcibly inserted his penis unto the vagina of AAA. During the month of September 1995, appellant repeatedly raped AAA. On the month of January 1995, appellant did the same act towards AAA. On March 1997, BBB the mother of AAA went home from Singapore. AAA kept her silence until the time when BBB is about to leave for Singapore. BBB was confronted by the grandmother of AAA saying that appellant is molesting AAA. BBB confronted AAA and she tearfully confessed. BBB filed the complaint. Prosecution finally offered the evidences in which the trial court finds that those evidences against the accused are strong. Trial court having discovered that the accused has not be arraigned, scheduled his arraignment.

ISSUE:
Whether or not, the case would be dismissed for the ground that the appellant was not properly arraigned.

HELD:
No. Because appellant’s elated arraignment did not prejudice him. This procedural defect was cured when his counsel participated in the trial without raising any objection that his client had yet to be arraigned. His counsel even cross-examined the prosecution witnesses.  His counsel’s active participation in the hearings is a clear indication that he was fully aware of the charges against him; otherwise, his counsel would have objected and informed the court of this blunder. Moreover, no protest was made when appellant was subsequently arraigned. The parties did not question the procedure undertaken by the trial court. It is only now, after being convicted and sentenced to two death sentences, that appellant cries that his constitutional right has been violated. It is already too late to raise this procedural defect. SC did not allow it.

 

Case Brief: People vs Dumlao

People of the Philippines
vs
Hermenegildo Dumlao y Castiliano and Emilio Lao y Gonzales
GR No. 168918 March 2, 2009

Facts:

Before the Sandiganbayan, an information was filed charging Dumlao, La’o and others with violation of Sec. 3 (g) of RA No. 3019 or Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

It was alleged in the said information that the respondents, who were members of the GSIS Board of Trustees, entered into a contract of lease-purchase with respondent La’o, a private person. The said contract provided the concurrence of GSIS to sell La’o a property it had acquired, consisting of land and building known as the Government Counsel Center for P2 million on an installment with annual interest and amortization. La’o was also authorized to sub-lease the ground floor of the said building during the lease period, from which he collected yearly rentals in excess of the yearly amortization, causing huge disadvantage to the government.

Considering the foregoing, Dumlao filed a motion to quash on the ground that the facts alleged did not constitute an offense. He averred that the prosecution’s main thrust against him was the alleged approval by the GSIS Board of the said contract. He contended that it was never approved as the signatures of his fellow respondents did not appear in the minutes of meeting therefor, proving their non-participation therein. Additionally, there was no board quorum during that time to push through with the approval thereof. Hence, since the evidence of the prosecution was insufficient, he should be deemed innocent.

The Sandiganbayan ruled in Dumlao’s favor, based on the said insufficiency of evidence.

Issue:

Whether the insufficiency of evidence is a ground for motion to quash.

Held:

No.

Insufficiency of evidence is not one of the grounds of a Motion to Quash. The grounds, as enumerated in Section 3, Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, are as follows:

(a) That the facts charged do not constitute an offense;

(b) That the court trying the case has no jurisdiction over the offense charged;

(c) That the court trying the case has no jurisdiction over the person of the accused;

(d) That the officer who filed the information had no authority to do so;

(e) That it does not conform substantially to the prescribed form;

(f) That more than one offense is charged except when a single punishment for various offenses is prescribed by law;

(g) That the criminal action or liability has been extinguished;

(h) That it contains averments which, if true, would constitute a legal excuse or justification; and

(i) That the accused has been previously convicted or acquitted of the offense charged, or the case against him was dismissed or otherwise terminated without his express consent.

Insufficiency of evidence is a ground for dismissal of an action only after the prosecution rests its case. Section 23, Rule 119 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure provides:

Sec. 23. Demurrer to evidence. After the prosecution rests its case, the court may dismiss the action on the ground of insufficiency of evidence (1) on its own initiative after giving the prosecution the opportunity to be heard or (2) upon demurrer to evidence filed by the accused with or without leave of court.

In the case under consideration, the Sandiganbayan dismissed the case against respondent for insufficiency of evidence, even without giving the prosecution the opportunity to present its evidence. In so doing, it violated the prosecution’s right to due process. It deprived the prosecution of its opportunity to prosecute its case and to prove the accused’s culpability.

It was therefore erroneous for the Sandiganbayan to dismiss the case under the premises. Not only did it not consider the ground invoked by respondent Dumlao; it even dismissed the case on a ground not raised by him, and not at the appropriate time. The dismissal was thus without basis and untimely.

Case Brief: People vs. Go

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES
vs.
JOSE C. GO, AIDA C. DELA ROSA, and FELECITAS D. NECOMEDES
G.R. No. 191015  August 6, 2014

Facts:

In October 14, 1998, the Monetary Board of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) issued a Resolution ordering the closure of the Orient Commercial Banking Corporation (OCBC) and placing such bank under the receivership of the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC).  PDIC took all the assets and liabilities of OCBC.  PDIC began collecting OCBC’s due loans by sending demand letters from the borrowers.  Among these borrowers are Timmy’s, Inc. and Asia Textile Mills, Inc. which appeared to have loan in the amount of 10 million each. Both Corporation denied the allegation. Because of this, the PDIC conducted an investigation and found out that the loans purportedly for Timmy’s, Inc. and Asia Textile Mills, Inc. were released in the form of manager’s check deposited in the account of the private respondents.

PDIC filed two counts of Estafa thru falsification of Commercial Documents against the private respondents. After finding probable cause, the Office of the City Prosecutor of the City of Manila filed Information against the private respondents. Upon being subjected to arraignment by the RTC in Manila, the private respondents pleaded not guilty to the criminal cases filed against them. A pre-trial was conducted. Thereafter, trial of the cases ensued and the prosecution presented its evidence. After the presentation of all of the prosecution’s evidence, the private respondents filed a Motion for Leave to File Demurrer to Evidence and a Motion for Voluntary Inhibition.

The presiding judge granted the private respondents’ Motion for Voluntary Inhibition and ordered the case to be re-raffled to another branch. The case was subsequently re-raffled to the branch of the respondent RTC judge. Respondent Judge granted the Motion for Leave to File Demurrer of Evidence praying for the dismissal of the criminal cases instituted against them due to the failure of the prosecution to establish their guilt beyond reasonable doubt. An order was promulgated by the respondent judge finding the private respondents’ Demurrer to Evidence to be meritorious, dismissing the Criminal Case. Private prosecutor filed a Motion for Reconsideration but was denied by the RTC Judge. The prosecution through the Office of the Solicitor General filed a certiorari before the Court of Appeals but was also denied.

Issue:

Whether or not the CA erred in affirming the decision of RTC Judge erred in granting the Motion for Leave to File Demurrer of Evidence.

Held:

No.  CA grossly erred in affirming the trial court’s Order granting the respondent’s demurrer, which Order was patently null and void for having been issued with grave abuse of discretion and manifest irregularity, thus causing substantial injury to the banking industry and public interest.

The Court found that the prosecution has presented competent evidence to sustain the indictment for the crime of estafa through falsification of commercial documents, and that respondents appear to be the perpetrators thereof. What the trial and appellate courts disregarded, however, is that the OCBC funds ended up in the personal bank accounts of respondent Go, and were used to fund his personal checks, even as he was not entitled thereto. These, if not rebutted, are indicative of estafa.

Hence, the Petition is GRANTED. Resolution of the Court of Appeals are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The July 2, 2007 and October 19, 2007 Orders of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 49 in Criminal Case Nos. 00-187318 and 00-187319 are declared null and void, and the said cases are ordered REINSTATED for the continuation of proceedings.

Case Brief: People vs Morales

GR No. 172873 March 19, 2010
People of the Philippines, Appellee
vs
Roldan Morales y Midarasa, Appellant

Facts:
Morales was charged in two separate Informations before the RTC for possession and sale of shabu. The testimonies of the police officers were presented by the prosecution. They held a buy-bust operation in which Morales was caught having two sachets of shabu and the marked money. Morales, in his statement, said that the two male persons in civilian clothing, who identified themselves as the police, handcuffed and frisked him. Nothing was found on their way to the station. The police officer produced a sachet of shabu from his pocket and at the station, presented it as evidence against Morales. The trial court found Morales guilty.

Issue:
Whether or not Morales is guilty of possession and sale of illegal drugs.

Held:
No.  Morales claims that his guilt was not proven beyond reasonable doubt. The arresting officers did not place the proper markings on the alleged shabu and paraphernalia.

To be guilty of sale of illegal drugs, there should be proof that the transaction took place and the illegal drug is presented in court as evidence. To be guilty of possession of illegal drugs, it should be established that the person possesses an illegal drug and is freely aware of it.

The person to whom the police officers gave the drugs for delivery of seized items was not present in the court, nor did these police officers testify that they properly marked the drugs after the arrest of Morales. They also did not take photographs and had no representative from the media and the Department of Justice or public official to sign an inventory of the seized items.  Prosecution failed to establish the chain of custody which is fatal to its cause.

Case Brief: People vs. Olivo

G.R. No. 177768               July 27, 2009

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee,

vs.

CHARMEN OLIVO y ALONG, NELSON DANDA y SAMBUTO, and JOEY ZAFRA y REYES, Appellants.

FACTS:

Accused-Appellants were found guilty reasonable doubt for the crime of Robbery with Homicide both by the RTC and Court of Appeals.

Based from the Information dated Nov.29, 2000, the three accused conspired to engaged in robbery done in a hardware store. They were able to take 35,000, but on the process, they assaulted and killed the store owner.

But when the case was appealed before the Supreme Court, it was found out that the accused-appellants was arrested without a warrant during a buy-bust operation for selling illegal drugs and not for robbery with homicide. Further, during the investigation at Camp Karingal, the accused was made to stand in a police line- up and identified by the eyewitness who failed to identify them three times.

ISSUE: 

Whether the accused-appellants can be convicted guilty beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of Robbery with homicide despite the dubious and questionable circumstances of the trial.

HELD: 

The Supreme Court reversed the decision of RTC and CA for two reasons:  One, the accused-appellants were not arrested for the crime of robbery with homicide but were arrested during a buy-bust operation; Second, the material fact that the lone alleged eyewitness, Maricel Permejo, was not able to identify them as the perpetrators of the crime, their guilt has not been proved with the required quantum of evidence.

SC ruled that with respect to the insufficiency of the prosecution evidence to convict appellants beyond reasonable doubt, trial courts are mandated not only to look at the direct examination of witnesses but to the totality of evidence before them. In every case, the court should review, assess and weigh the totality of the evidence presented by the parties. It should not confine itself to oral testimony during the trial. In the absence of clear and convincing evidence that the tribunals ignored, misconstrued or misapplied facts and circumstances of substances such that, if considered, the same will warrant the modification or reversal of the outcome of the case.

The accused-appellants upon appeal were acquitted.  The other accused, Joey Zafra, who was likewise convicted on the same evidence but did not perfect an appeal, was also acquitted because the present rule provides that an appeal taken by one or more several accused shall not affect those who did not appeal, except insofar as the judgment of the appellate court is favorable and applicable to the latter. 

Case Brief: Lim vs. Kou Co Ping

G.R. No. 175256               August 23, 2012
LILY LIM, Petitioner,
vs.
KOU CO PING a.k.a. CHARLIE CO, Respondent.

G.R. No. 179160
KOU CO PING a.k.a. CHARLIE CO, Petitioner,
vs.
LILY LIM, Respondent.

FACTS:

FR Cement Corporation (FRCC) issued several withdrawal authorities for the account of cement dealers and traders, Fil-Cement and Tigerbilt (FCCT).

FCCT then sold the withdrawal authorities covering 50,000 bags of cement to respondent Co for the amount of P3.15 million or P63.00 per bag.

Co then sold the same withdrawal authorities to petitioner Lily Lim for the alleged amount of P3.2 million or P64.00 per bag.

Lim, using the withdrawal authorities, withdrew 2,800 bags of cement from FRCC. He then sold some of the withdrawal authorities covering 10,000 bags back to respondent Co. (Remaining: 37,200 bags)

Sometime within the same year, FRCC no longer allowed Lim to withdraw the remaining 37,200 bags covered by the withdrawal authorities. According to Co and the manager of FCCT, the plant implemented a price increase and would only release the goods once Lim paid for the price difference or agreed to receive a lesser quantity of cement. Lim objected and maintained that the withdrawal authorities were not subject to price fluctuations.

Because of this, Lim filed an information for Estafa through Misappropriation or Conversion before the RTC of Pasig City. The criminal case was dismissed. The civil liability was subsequently dismissed as well after the reception of the evidence.
Lim appealed the dismissal of the civil liability before the CA. While the appeal before the CA was pending, she filed a complaint for specific performance and damages before the RTC of Manila. The complaint asserted two causes of action: breach of contract and abuse of rights.

In his defense, Co maintained that the two causes of action raise the same issue, which was Co’s liability to Lim for her inability to withdraw the bags of cement, and SHOULD BE DISMISSED ON THE GROUNDS OF LIS PENDENS AND FORUM SHOPPING.

ISSUE:

Whether or not Lim committed forum shopping in filing the civil case for specific performance and damages during the pendency of her appeal on the civil aspect of Estafa.

HELD:

Lim did not commit forum shopping in filing the civil case for specific performance and damages during the pendency of her appeal on the civil aspect of Estafa.

A single act or omission that causes damage to an offended party may give rise to two separate civil liabilities on the part of the offender:  (1) civil liability ex delicto, that is, civil liability arising from the criminal offense under Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code,− and (2) independent civil liability, that is, civil liability that may be pursued independently of the criminal proceedings. The independent civil liability may be based on “an obligation not arising from the act or omission complained of as a felony,” as provided in Article 31 of the Civil Code (such as for breach of contract or for tort). It may also be based on an act or omission that may constitute felony but, nevertheless, treated independently from the criminal action by specific provision of Article 33 of the Civil Code (“in cases of defamation, fraud and physical injuries”).

The filing of the collection case after the dismissal of the estafa cases against the offender did not amount to forum-shopping. The essence of forum shopping is the filing of multiple suits involving the same parties for the same cause of action, either simultaneously or successively, to secure a favorable judgment. Although the cases filed by the offended party arose from the same act or omission of the offender, they are, however, based on different causes of action. The criminal cases for estafa are based on culpa criminal while the civil action for collection is anchored on culpa contractual.

Moreover, there can be no forum-shopping in the instant case because the law expressly allows the filing of a separate civil action which can proceed independently of the criminal action.