Case Brief: Tetangco vs. Ombudsman

G.R. No. 156427             January 20, 2006




Sometime on March 8, 2002, Amadeo Tetangco filed his Complaint before the Ombudsman alleging that on January 26, 2001, private respondent Mayor Atienza gave P3,000 cash financial assistance to the chairman and P1,000 to each tanod of Barangay 105, Zone 8, District I. Allegedly, on March 5, 2001, Mayor Atienza refunded P20,000 or the total amount of the financial assistance from the City of Manila when such disbursement was not justified as a lawful expense. In his Counter-Affidavit, Mayor Atienza denied the allegations and sought the dismissal of the Complaint for lack of jurisdiction and for forum-shopping. He asserted that it was the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), not the Ombudsman that has jurisdiction over the case and the same case had previously been filed before the COMELEC. Furthermore, the Complaint had no verification and certificate of non-forum shopping. The mayor maintained that the expenses were legal and justified, the same being supported by disbursement vouchers, and these had passed prior audit and accounting. The Investigating Officer recommended the dismissal of the Complaint for lack of evidence and merit. The Ombudsman adopted his recommendation. The Office of the Ombudsman, through its Over-all Deputy Ombudsman, likewise denied petitioner’s motion for reconsideration. Hence, a petition before the Supreme Court.



Whether or not the Ombudsman commits grave abuse of discretion in dismissing the Complaint?



The Ombudsman found no evidence to prove probable cause. Probable cause signifies a reasonable ground of suspicion supported by circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to warrant a cautious man’s belief that the person accused is guilty of the offense with which he is charged.

The Complaint charges Mayor Atienza with illegal use of public funds. On this matter, Art. 220 of the Revised Penal Code provides: “Art. 220. Illegal use of public funds or property. – Any public officer who shall apply any public fund or property under his administration to any public use other than that for which such fund or property were appropriated by law or ordinance shall suffer the penalty of prision correccional in its minimum period or a fine ranging from one-half to the total of the sum misapplied, if by reason of such misapplication, any damages or embarrassment shall have resulted to the public service. In either case, the offender shall also suffer the penalty of temporary special disqualification.

“The elements of the offense, also known as technical malversation, are: (1) the offender is an accountable public officer; (2) he applies public funds or property under his administration to some public use; and (3) the public use for which the public funds or property were applied is different from the purpose for which they were originally appropriated by law or ordinance.” It is clear that for technical malversation to exist, it is necessary that public funds or properties had been diverted to any public use other than that provided for by law or ordinance. To constitute the crime, there must be a diversion of the funds from the purpose for which they had been originally appropriated by law or ordinance. Patently, the third element is not present in this case.

In this case, the action taken by the Ombudsman cannot be characterized as arbitrary, capricious, whimsical or despotic.  Here, the Complaint merely alleged that the disbursement for financial assistance was neither authorized by law nor justified as a lawful expense. Complainant did not cite any law or ordinance that provided for an original appropriation of the amount used for the financial assistance cited and that it was diverted from the appropriation it was intended for.

Case Brief: Tabuena vs. Sandiganbayan

G.R. Nos. 103501-03 February 17, 1997

LUIS A. TABUENA, petitioner,

G.R. No. 103507 February 17, 1997

ADOLFO M. PERALTA, petitioner,



Then President Marcos instructed Luis Tabuena over the phone to pay directly to the president’s office and in cash what the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) owes the Philippine National Construction Corporation (PNCC), pursuant to the 7 January 1985 memorandum of then Minister Trade and Industry Roberto Ongpin. Tabuena agreed. About a week later, Tabuena received from Mrs. Fe Roa-Gimenez, then private secretary of Marcos, a Presidential Memorandum dated 8 January 1986 reiterating in black and white such verbal instruction. In obedience to President Marcos’ verbal instruction and memorandum, Tabuena, with the help of Gerardo G. Dabao and Adolfo Peralta, caused the release of P55 Million of MIAA funds by means of three (3) withdrawals. On 10 January 1986, the first withdrawal was made for P25 Million, following a letter of even date signed by Tabuena and Dabao requesting the PNB extension office at the MIAA the depository branch of MIAA funds, to issue a manager’s check for said amount payable to Tabuena. The check was encashed, however, at the PNB Villamor Branch. Dabao and the cashier of the PNB Villamor branch counted the money after which, Tabuena took delivery thereof. The P25 Million in cash was delivered on the same day to the office of Mrs. Gimenez. Mrs. Gimenez did not issue any receipt for the money received. Similar circumstances surrounded the second withdrawal/encashment and delivery of another P25 Million, made on 16 January 1986. The third and last withdrawal was made on 31 January 1986 for P5 Million. Peralta was Tabuena’s co-signatory to the letter- request for a manager’s check for this amount. Peralta accompanied Tabuena to the PNB Villamor branch as Tabuena requested him to do the counting of the P5 Million. After the counting, the money was loaded in the trunk of Tabuena’s car. Peralta did not go with Tabuena to deliver the money to Mrs. Gimenez’ office. It was only upon delivery of the P5 Million that Mrs. Gimenez issued a receipt for all the amounts she received from Tabuena. The receipt was dated January 30,1986. Tabuena and Peralta were charged for malversation of funds, while Dabao remained at large. One of the justices of the Sandiganbayan actively took part in the questioning of a defense witness and of the accused themselves; the volume of the questions asked were more the combined questions of the counsels. On 12 October 1990, they were found guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Tabuena and Peralta filed separate petitions for review, appealing the Sandiganbayan decision dated 12 October 19990 and the Resolution of 20 December 1991.



Whether or not petitioners are guilty of the crime of malversation.



Luis Tabuena and Adolfo Peralta are acquitted of the crime of malversation. Tabuena acted in strict compliance with the MARCOS Memorandum. The order emanated from the Office of the President and bears the signature of the President himself, the highest official of the land. It carries with it the presumption that it was regularly issued. And on its face, the memorandum is patently lawful for no law makes the payment of an obligation illegal. This fact, coupled with the urgent tenor for its execution constrains one to act swiftly without question. Records show that the Sandiganbayan actively took part in the questioning of a defense witness and of the accused themselves. The questions of the court were in the nature of cross examinations characteristic of confrontation, probing and insinuation. Tabuena and Peralta may not have raised the issue as an error, there is nevertheless no impediment for the court to consider such matter as additional basis for a reversal since the settled doctrine is that an appeal throws the whole case open to review, and it becomes the duty of the appellate court to correct such errors as may be found in the judgment appealed from whether they are made the subject of assignments of error or not.

Case Brief: Cañal vs. People

G.R. No. 163181     October 19, 2005

BONIFACIO L. CAÑAL, SR., Petitioner,


Emelinda, Daylinda’s witness, declared that while she was outside the courthouse she saw Bonifacio and clearly overheard him say in Filipino: “Why should you be afraid of Daylinda’s witnesses, they are all  nincompoops. Daylinda is a thief!  She has been long eking out a living as a thief.” A number of persons outside the courthouse also heard the utterances of Bonifacio.

The MCTC found the accused guilty of the crime grave oral defamation.

On appeal, the RTC rendered judgment affirming the decision of the MCTC.

The case was elevated to the CA via petition for review, and the appellate court affirmed in toto the RTC’s decision. Hence, this petition to the SC.



Whether or not the CA gravely erred in sustaining his conviction of the crime of grave oral defamation.



The petition is denied for lack of merit. However, the Court finds that the penalty imposed on the petitioner is erroneous.  The penalty imposed by Article 358 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, for grave oral defamation is arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period which has a duration of from four (4) months and one (1) day to two (2) years and four (4) months.

It must be remembered that every defamatory imputation is presumed to be malicious, even if it be true, if no good intention and justifiable motive for making it is shown.  And malice may be inferred from the style and tone of publication subject to certain exceptions which are not present. Indeed, calling Daylinda a thief is defamation against her character and reputation sufficient to cause her embarrassment and social humiliation. Daylinda testified to the feelings of shame and humiliation she suffered as a result of the incident complained of.

WHEREFORE, the Decision of the CA is AFFIRMED WITH the MODIFICATION on his SENTENCE terms.

Case Brief: Dela Cruz vs. People

G.R. No. 150439,     July 29, 2005
AMELITA DELA CRUZ, petitioner,

An information was filed against petitioner Dela Cruz for defrauding the Great Mandarin Villa Seafoods Village Inc and Hock Wan Restaurant Corporation. The corporations alleged that Dela Cruz was working as a payroll clerk of said corporation. She received from the said corporation a total sum of P471,166.11 representing the excess amount paid to the employees of said corporations as salaries, and failed to turn over the said excess; that, after possessing such amount, she went into hiding, and refused to return the same. It was the duty of the accused to compute the payroll based on the time card, request the treasurer for the issuance and encashment of the corresponding checks, placed the money on the pay slip and afterwards distribute the same to the employees.
Petitioner, on the other hand, pleaded not guilty of the crime charged. She contested that the amount she has always received was the exact amount for the salary of the employees every 15th and 30th of the month, which she computed beforehand and submitted to the treasurer thereafter. The treasurer has always given the exact amount to her, but she does not know the amount actually withdrawn by the former. She also alleged that there was no excess money in the first place, and that there were no complaints of short payments or reports of overpayment; and that the reason why she failed to report to work afterwards was because her brother-in-law died and she became ill.
The lower courts held that, applying the provisions of Article 315, paragraph 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, particularly, that with the trust given to her, she really defrauded her employer by over-computing the payroll and converting or misappropriating the excess (amount) to her own personal use to the prejudice and damage of the private complainants; that she alone was entrusted with the money for the payroll and had complete access to it; that she had to erase the data in the computer to destroy the evidence against her; that she conveniently disappeared from the scene at the time of the discovery of the anomaly, and; she maintained a lifestyle beyond her financial means.
Petitioner claimed that the lower courts erred in their decisions on the grounds that the evidence presented is not sufficient to convict her beyond reasonable doubt.

Whether or not petitioner Dela Cruz committed the crime of estafa.

No, petitioner Dela Cruz did not commit the crime.
Accused-petitioner was charged with the crime of estafa through misappropriation or conversion as defined in and penalized under Article 315, paragraph 1(b), of the Revised Penal Code. The elements of the said crime are: 1) that money, goods or other personal property is received by the offender in trust, or on commission or for administration, or under any other obligation involving the duty to make delivery of, or to return, the same; 2) that there be misappropriation or conversion of such money or property by the offender or denial on his part of such receipt; 3) that such misappropriation or conversion or denial is to the prejudice of another; and 4) that there is a demand made by the offended party on the offender.
The lower courts relied heavily on circumstantial evidence to convict the accused-petitioner. Under the Rules of Court, the requirements for circumstantial facts to be able to withstand the tribulation of a conviction of guilt beyond reasonable doubt, are: (1) there is more than one circumstance; (2) the facts from which the inferences are derived are proven; and (3) the combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt.
After thoroughly reviewing the records of this case and weighing the testimonial evidence on the scale of creditworthiness and materiality, however, SC found that circumstantial evidence present in the case at bar are grossly insufficient to sustain a conviction. Petitioner had no hand in the actual issuance of the checks, and, more importantly, with the withdrawal of the money from the bank. Her only participation revolved around the computation of the payroll and the actual distribution of the salaries to the employees of the restaurants. While it was the accused-petitioner who computed the payroll of the employees, nevertheless, she was not the only person who had access to the money; that she was not the only computer-literate in their office as her general manager usually verifies the diskettes containing the payroll information; that if indeed she was culpable, she should have left long rather than reporting back to work for two more payroll periods after the alleged fraud,
In totality, only the checks and acknowledged payroll slips were presented to show the culpability of the accused-petitioner, and, sadly, said documentary evidence were the only basis for the theory that there was an over-computation of the payrolls.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision of the Court of Appeals is RECONSIDERED and SET ASIDE. The questioned decision is hereby REVERSED. Accused-petitioner Amelita dela Cruz is ACQUITTED of the crime of estafa defined under Article 315, paragraph 1(b), of the Revised Penal Code on the ground of reasonable doubt.

Case Brief: Gonzaludo vs. People

G.R. No. 150910 February 6, 2006

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.

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

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.

Case Brief: Recuerdo vs. People

G.R. No. 168217 June 27, 2006

Petitioner Recuerdo, a dentist, was charged with the crime of Estafa under Art. 315 of Revised Penal Code for, with intent to gain and by means of deceit, false pretenses and fraudulent manifestations, and pretending to have sufficient funds with the Unitrust Makati Commercial Center Branch, PCI Bank Makati-De La Rosa Branch, and Prudential Bank Legaspi Village Branch, did willfully, unlawfully and feloniously prepare, draw, make and issue checks amounting to P132,000, P78,000, and P600,000, to complaining witness Yolanda G. Floro, who is engaged in the business of buying and selling of jewelry, as payment for jewelry she obtained from the said complainant, knowing fully well at the time the checks were issued that her representations were false for she had no sufficient funds in the said bank, so much that upon presentment of the said checks with the said bank for encashment, the same were dishonored and refused payment for having been drawn against an “Account Closed”, and in spite of repeated demands to deposit with the said bank, the said accused failed and refused to do so.
Recuerdo argued that her act of issuing the dishonored checks does not constitute the offense of Estafa considering that the subject checks were not issued and delivered to Floro simultaneous to the purchase of the pieces of jewelry, but only several days thereafter, when she had already thoroughly examined the jewelry and is fully satisfied of its fine quality; that out of the 17 subject checks, nine were honored by the drawee banks; that she made partial payments of the amounts of the subject checks while the case was pending in the CA, contrary to the findings of the courts that she acted with deceit when she drew and delivered the checks.

Whether or not petitioner Recuerdo committed the crime of estafa.

Yes, Recuerdo committed the crime of estafa.
Estafa through false pretense or fraudulent act under Paragraph 2(d) of Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 4885, is committed as follows:
By postdating a check, or issuing a check in payment of an obligation when the offender had no funds in the bank, or his funds deposited therein were not sufficient to cover the amount of the check. The failure of the drawer of the check to deposit the amount necessary to cover his check within three (3) days from receipt of notice from the bank and/or the payee or holder that said check has been dishonored for lack or insufficiency of funds shall be prima facie evidence of deceit constituting false pretense or fraudulent act.
The essential elements of the felony are: (1) a check is postdated or issued in payment of an obligation contracted at the time it is issued; (2) lack or insufficiency of funds to cover the check; and (3) damage to the payee thereof. It is criminal fraud or deceit in the issuance of a check which is made punishable under the Revised Penal Code, and not the non-payment of a debt. Deceit is the false representation of a matter of fact whether by words or conduct by false or misleading allegations or by concealment of that which should have been disclosed which deceives or is intended to deceive another so that he shall act upon it to his legal injury. Concealment which the law denotes as fraudulent implies a purpose or design to hide facts which the other party ought to have. The postdating or issuing of a check in payment of an obligation when the offender had no funds in the bank or his funds deposited therein are not sufficient to cover the amount of the check is a false pretense or a fraudulent act.
Petitioner’s defense of good faith is even belied by the evidence of the prosecution and her own evidence. When the postdated checks issued by petitioner were dishonored by the drawee banks and the private complainant made demands for her to pay the amounts of the checks, she intransigently refused to pay; she insisted that she issued and delivered the postdated checks to the private complainant after the subject pieces of jewelry had been delivered to her. Petitioner never offered to pay the amounts of the checks after she was informed by the private complainant that they had been dishonored by the drawee banks. It was after the CA promulgated its decision affirming the decision of the trial court, that petitioner made several payments to the private complainant; however, there is no showing as to which checks they were made in payment for. In fine, it was the spectre of a long prison term which jolted petitioner into making remittances to the private complainant, after the CA affirmed the decision of the trial court and increased the penalty meted on her, and not because she had acted in good faith in her transactions with the private complainant. To reiterate, petitioner rejected the demands of the private complainant to pay the amounts of the dishonored checks.
While it is true that nine of the 17 postdated checks petitioner issued and delivered to the private complainant were honored by the drawee banks, such a circumstance is not a justification for her acquittal of the charges relative to the dishonored checks. The reimbursement or restitution to the offended party of the sums swindled by the petitioner does not extinguish the criminal liability of the latter. Estafa is a public offense which must be prosecuted and punished by the State on its own motion even though complete reparation had been made for the loss or damage suffered by the offended party. The consent of the private complainant to petitioner’s payment of her civil liability pendente lite does not entitle the latter to an acquittal. Subsequent payments does not obliterate the criminal liability already incurred. Criminal liability for estafa is not affected by a compromise between petitioner and the private complainant on the former’s civil liability.

IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is DENIED. The Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals are AFFIRMED. No costs.

Case Brief: Magestrado vs. People

G.R. No. 148072 July 10, 2007





Private respondent Elena M. Librojo filed a criminal complaint for perjury against petitioner with the Office of the City Prosecutor of Quezon City, which was docketed as I.S. No. 98-3900.
After the filing of petitioners counter-affidavit and the appended pleadings, the Office of the City Prosecutor recommended the filing of an information for perjury against petitioner. Thus, Assistant City Prosecutor Josephine Z. Fernandez filed an information for perjury against petitioner with the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of Quezon City. Pertinent portions of the information are hereby quoted as follows:

That on or about the 27th day of December, 1997, in Quezon City, Philippines, the said accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously and knowingly make an untruthful statement under oath upon a material matter before a competent officer authorized to receive and administer oath and which the law so require, the said accused knowing fully well that the allegations in the said affidavit and petition are false, the truth of the matter being that the property subject of Transfer Certificate of Title No. N-173163 was mortgaged to complainant Elena M. Librojo as collateral for a loan in the amount of P 758,134.42 and as a consequence of which said title to the property was surrendered by him to the said complainant by virtue of said loan, thus, making untruthful and deliberate assertions of falsehoods, to the damage and prejudice of the said Elena M. Librojo.

On 30 June 1999, petitioner filed a motion for suspension of proceedings based on a prejudicial question. Petitioner alleged that Civil Case No. Q-98-34349, a case for recovery of a sum of money pending before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 84, and Civil Case No. Q-98- 34308, a case for Cancellation of Mortgage, Delivery of Title and Damages, pending before the RTC of Quezon City, Branch 77, must be resolved first before Criminal Case No. 90721 may proceed since the issues in the said civil cases are similar or intimately related to the issues raised in the criminal action.

Whether Judge Estrella T. Estrada of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 83, Quezon City, had committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of her jurisdiction in denying the Petition for Certiorari and petitioners subsequent motion for reconsideration on the ground of a prejudicial question pursuant to the Rules on Criminal Procedure and the prevailing jurisprudence.

A perusal of the allegations in the complaints show that Civil Case No. Q-98-34308 pending before RTC-Branch 77, and Civil Case No. Q-98-34349, pending before RTC-Branch 84, are principally for the determination of whether a loan was obtained by petitioner from private respondent and whether petitioner executed a real estate mortgage involving the property covered by TCT No. N-173163. On the other hand, Criminal Case No. 90721 before MeTC-Branch 43, involves the determination of whether petitioner committed perjury in executing an affidavit of loss to support his request for issuance of a new owners duplicate copy of TCT No. N-173163.
It is evident that the civil cases and the criminal case can proceed independently of each other. Regardless of the outcome of the two civil cases, it will not establish the innocence or guilt of the petitioner in the criminal case for perjury. The purchase by petitioner of the land or his execution of a real estate mortgage will have no bearing whatsoever on whether petitioner knowingly and fraudulently executed a false affidavit of loss of TCT No. N-173163.
MeTC-Branch 43, therefore, did not err in ruling that the pendency of Civil Case No. Q-98-34308 for cancellation of mortgage before the RTC-Branch 77; and Civil Case No. Q-98-34349 for collection of a sum of money before RTC-Branch 84, do not pose a prejudicial question in the determination of whether petitioner is guilty of perjury in Criminal Case No. 90721. RTC-Branch 83, likewise, did not err in ruling that MeTC-Branch 43 did not commit grave abuse of discretion in denying petitioners motion for suspension of proceedings in Criminal Case No. 90721.