Case Brief: Dela Rosa vs. Carlos

G.R. No. 147549             October 23, 2003

JESUS DELA ROSA and LUCILA DELA ROSA, petitioners,
vs.
SANTIAGO CARLOS and TEOFILA PACHECO, respondents.

 

Facts:

Dela Rosa filed a complaint for forcible entry, alleging that they are the owners of a house and lot in Bulacan by virtue of a Deed of Absolute Sale executed between Dela Rosa and Carlos. They also asserted that they renovated the house and occupied it from 1996 to present, and that they built a fence to separate the property from the road.

Subsequently however, Carlos built a house of strong materials on a vacant lot of the property through stealth and without their knowledge and consent. On the other hand, respondents averred that they had been occupying the lot in the concept of a co- owner since birth.

 

Issue:

Whether or not Dela Rosa were in possession of property notwithstanding their absence from the same.

 

Held.

Yes, Dela Rosa were in possession of property. In a forcible entry case, the principal issue for resolution is mere physical or material possession (possession de facto) and not juridical possession (possession de jure) nor ownership of the property involved.

In the case at bar, Dela Rosa continued visiting the property even if they resided in Manila, and that constitutes maintenance of possession. Improving the house were also acts of dominion indicating possession

Case Brief: Gonzales v. Hernandez

G.R. No. L-15482. May 30, 1961.

GUILLERMO GONZALES, Petitioner-Appellant,

v.

THE HON. JAIME HERNANDEZ, as Secretary of Finance and JOVENCIO FOJAS, Respondents-Appellants.

 

Facts:

Petitioner Gonzales was appointed attorney-agent of Investigation and Secret Service Division, Department of Finance. But in an administrative case instituted against him, he was found guilty of disreputable conduct prior to entering the service, and called upon to resign or be separated for cause as per decision of the Commissioner of Civil Service. In view of this, Gonzales filed a letter of resignation, which was then accepted by the Undersecretary of Finance. Subsequently, his wife was appointed for the position, and then it was transferred over to respondent Fojas; on the otherhand, Gonzales worked for GSIS.

Eventually, the Civil Service Board of Appeals modified the decision of Commissioner of Civil Service, and imposed upon Gonzales a suspension of two months without pay. When he went to Department of Finance to report for duty, the Department of Finance could not reinstate him, alleging that there was an abandonment of work.

Lower court: Undersecretary of Finance had no right to treat petitioner’s conditional resignation as an absolute one, and that the Undersecretary’s unconditional acceptance of petitioner’s conditional resignation is equivalent to a rejection of said resignation and petitioner’s position did not become vacant thereby; that petitioner’s acceptance of an emergency position in the Government Service Insurance System is not an abandonment of the position in question, as it is not incompatible with his claim for reinstatement; that the appointment of respondent Fojas to the position of the petitioner is only temporary in nature.

 

Issue:

Was there a valid resignation? Did he abandon his position by accepting another position in GSIS?

 

Held:

  1. PUBLIC OFFICERS; RESIGNATION; WHEN NOT DEEMED COMPLETE AND OPERATIVE. — Where an an employee’s resignation from his position in the government service was made expressly “subject to the result of my appeal to the Civil Service Board of Appeals, there is no resignation to speak of, because to constitute a complete and operative act of resignation, the officer or employee must show a clear intention to relinquish or surrender his position.
  2. ID.; ID.; ACCEPTANCE OF EMERGENCY POSITION AFTER CONDITIONAL RESIGNATION; WHY NOT AN ABANDONMENT OF OLD POSITION. — The acceptance, by an employee who resigned conditionally from his position pending the termination of his case in the Civil Service Board of Appeals, of another position as emergency laborer in a government corporation, does not constitute an abandonment of his old position, because his temporary employment is not incompatible with his old position, and he could resign from the same any time, as soon as his case had been definitely decided in his favor.
  3. ID.; ID.; WHY OBJECTION TO REINSTATEMENT AFTER WIFE’S APPOINTMENT TO SAME OFFICE NOT TENABLE. — Where an employee’s wife was appointed in the same office where the husband was employed before his conditional resignation therefrom, no objection can be made on this account to husband’s reinstatement, since he was already employed before his wife was appointed. If any objection is to be made at all, it should be against the wife’s appointment, not his own.
  4. ID.; ID.; ID.; PAYMENT OF BACK SALARIES NOT PROPER IF EMPLOYEE WAS NOT COMPLETELY EXONERATED. — Back salaries may be ordered paid to an officer or employee only if he is exonerated of the charge against him and his suspension or dismissal is found and declared to be illegal. They should not be ordered paid where the employee was not completely exonerated, as where, although the decision of the Commissioner of Civil Service was modified and the employee was allowed to be reinstated, the decision ordered him to forfeit two months pay and not to be given back salaries.

Case Brief: Drilon vs. Gaurana

G.R. No. L-35482 April 30, 1987

MANUEL DRILON, petitioner,

vs.

LUIS GAURANA and Honorable VALERIO ROVIRA, as Judge of the Court of First Instance of Iloilo, Branch IV, respondents.

 

Facts:

A parcel of agricultural land in Iloilo is covered by Free Patent No. 455943 in the name of Manuel Drilon, who was then issued Original Certificate of Title by the Register of Deeds.

In 1970, respondent Gaurana filed a case for annulment of free patent involving the same land, alleging that he purchased the land from Evangeline Gaurana, wife of the respondent. Gaurana filed another case for “Forcible Entry” in the same land, alleging that Drilon “by means of stealth, force, and strategy,” took possession of the south-east portion of the same land.

Drilon’s motion focused on two grounds: lack of jurisdiction, since the cause of action of respondent Luis Gaumna was one for recovery of ownership and possession of real property and not merely one of “forcible entry;” and (b) pendency of another action for the same cause. Both motions were dismissed, as “plaintiff did not split his cause of action and the alleged act of dispossession occurred subsequent to the filing of the complaint, and therefore, the only issue before him was the question of de facto possession.” Drilon was then declared in default by the court, and was ejected from the property.

Drilon then filed a motion, praying that the court had no jurisdiction to try the case of forcible entry), which was denied as well. Hence, the appeal.

 

Issues:

Whether or not the lower court erred in holding that there was no splitting of a single cause of action.

Whether or not the lower court was correct in dismissing the motions due to the pendency of another action between the same parties.

 

Held:

It is true that a party may not institute more than one suit for a single cause of action (Rule 2, Sec. 3, Revised Rules of Court) and if two or more complaints are brought for different parts of a single cause of action, the firing of the first may be pleaded in abatement of the other (Rule 2, Sec. 4. Revised Rules of Court). However, a forcible entry or unlawful detainer action has an entirely different subject from that of an action for reconveyance of title. What is involved in a forcible entry case is merely the issue of material possession or possession de facto; whereas in an action for reconveyance, ownership is the issue. So much so that the pendency of an action for reconveyance of title over the same property does not divest the city or municipal court of its jurisdiction to try the forcible entry or unlawful detainer case, nor preclude or bar execution of judgment in the ejectment case where the only issue involved is material possession or possession de facto.

It must be stated that the purpose of an action of forcible entry and detainer is that, regardless of the actual condition of the title to the property, the party in peaceable quiet possession shall not be turned out by strong hand, violence or terror. In affording this remedy of restitution the object of the statute is to prevent breaches of the peace and criminal disorder which would ensue from the withdrawal of the remedy, and the reasonable hope such withdrawal would create that some advantage must accrue to those persons who, believing themselves entitled to the possession of property, resort to force to gain possession rather than to some appropriate action in the courts to assert their claims. This is the philosophy at the foundation of all these actions of forcible entry and detainer which are designed to compel the party out of possession to respect and resort to the law alone to obtain what he claims is his.

With respect to the second assignment of error, while there may be Identity of parties and subject matter in the forcible entry case and Civil Case No. 8323, for annulment of free patent and/or reconveyance, the rights asserted and the relief prayed for in the said cases are not the same. In the former case, the legal right claimed is possession, while in the latter case, the legal right asserted is ownership. SC cannot assent to the proposition that the motion to dismiss the forcible entry case in view of the pendency of an action for quieting of title and recovery of possession of the same parcel of land since the causes of action in the two cases are distinct from each other.

Case Brief: Distilleria Washington vs. La Tondeña Distillers

G.R. No. 120961. October 2, 1997

DISTILLERIA WASHINGTON, INC. or WASHINGTON DISTILLERY, INC., petitioner

vs

LA TONDEÑA DISTILLERS, INC. and THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, respondents.

 

Facts:

La Tondeña Distillers, Inc. filed before the Regional Trial Court for the recovery, under its claim of ownership, of possession or replevin against Distilleria Washington, Inc. or Washington Distillery, Inc. of 18,157 empty “350 c.c. white flint bottles” bearing the blown-in marks of “La Tondeña Inc.” and “Ginebra San Miguel,” averring that Distilleria Washington was using the bottles for its own “Gin Seven” products without the consent of Distilleria Washington in violation of Republic Act 623.

In the original decision, the court acknowledged that there was a valid transfer of the bottles to Distilleria Washington, except that its possession of the bottles without the written consent of La Tondeña gives rise to a prima facie presumption of illegal use under R.A. 623.

In seeking reconsideration of the decision, petitioner raises the issue that if petitioner became the owner over the bottles seized from it by replevin, then it has the right to their possession and use as attributes of ownership.

The instant case is one for replevin (manual delivery) where the claimant must be able to show convincingly that he is either the owner or clearly entitled to the possession of the object sought to be recovered. Replevin is a possessory action. The gist of which focuses on the right of possession that in turn, is dependent on a legal basis that, not infrequently, looks to the ownership of the object sought to be replevied.

 

Issue:

Since replevin as a possessory action is dependent upon ownership, it is relevant to ask: Whether or not there was a transfer ownership of La Tondeña Distillers’ marked bottles or containers when it sold its products in the market? Were the marked bottles or containers part of the products sold to the public?

 

Held:

 The manufacturer sells the product in marked containers, through dealers, to the public in supermarkets, grocery shops, retail stores and other sales outlets. The buyer takes the item; he is neither required to return the bottle nor required to make a deposit to assure its return to the seller. He could return the bottle and get a refund. A number of bottles at times find their way to commercial users. It cannot be gainsaid that ownership of the containers does pass on the consumer albeit subject to the statutory limitations on the use of the registered containers and to the trademark rights of the registrant.

In plain terms, therefore, La Tondeña not only sold its gin products but also the marked bottles or containers, as well. And when these products were transferred by way of sale, then ownership over the bottles and all its attributes (jus utendi, jus abutendi, just fruendi, jus disponendi) passed to the buyer. It necessarily follows that the transferee has the right to possession of the bottles unless he uses them in violation of the original owner’s registered or incorporeal rights.

Furthermore, Sec. 5 of R.A. 623 states that when the bottles have been “transferred by way of sale,” there should not be any need of institution of any action included in the same act (where there is a need of the written consent of the manufacturer, bottler, or seller). Since the Court has found that the bottles have been transferred by way of sale then, La Tondeña has relinquished all its proprietary rights over the bottles in favor of Distilleria Washington who has obtained them in due course. Now as owner, it can exercise all attributes of ownership over the bottles.

The general rule on ownership, therefore, must apply and petitioner be allowed to enjoy all the rights of an owner in regard the bottles in question, to wit: the jus utendi or the right to receive from the thing what it produces; the jus abutendi or the right to consume the thing by its use; the jus disponendi or the power of the owner to alienate, encumber, transform and even destroy the thing owned; and the jus vindicandi or the right to exclude from the possession of the thing owned any other person to whom the owner has not transmitted such thing. What is proscribed is the use of the bottles in infringement of another’s trademark or incorporeal rights.

Case Brief: Flores vs IAC

G.R. No. 74287 October 27, 1989

SPOUSES AGUSTIN FLORES and PURITA M. FLORES, petitioners,

vs.

THE HONORABLE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and SALVADOR, MILAGROS and CONRADA, all SURNAMED NICO, respondents.

 

Facts:

Private respondent Nico owns Assessors Lot No. 71, located at Miag-ao, Iloilo. They claim that the area of their lot is 689 square meters as shown by Tax Declarations and the sketch plans duly certified by the Office of the Provincial Assessor; and that they have been in possession of that property since 1936.

On the other hand, petitioner Flores owns the adjoining Assessors Lot No. 72. Their allegation is that this lot has an area of 3,173 square meters pursuant to the Deed of Sale in their favor dated 11 January 1967 and as shown by Tax Declarations. A sketch plan however, also indicates that the area is 3,083 square meters. Both lots are unregistered properties.

Sometime in 1975, petitioners constructed a bamboo fence, and in 1978, a hollow-block fence to separate the two adjoining properties, over the strong protest of Nico who alleged that the construction encroached upon a portion of their property. As they refused to heed the protest, Nico filed an action for “Recovery of Real Property with Damages”.

Lower courts ruled that the disputed area of 199 square meters (Lot A of 55 square meters being claimed by Flores, Lot B of 144 square meters by Nico) belong to Nico and that Flores should demolish the fence.

 

Issue:

Whether or not the ownership of disputed area belongs to Flores or to Nico.

 

Held:

SC deemed it best to divide the disputed area between the parties equally, or 99.5 square meters for each of them. Neither party has proven its entitlement to the entire disputed portion, much less has either party convincingly shown the dividing line between their two properties. All contrary to the basic rule that in an action to recover, the person who claims that he has a better right to the property must prove both ownership and identity.

While Nico may have been in possession of their lot since 1936 in the concept of owners and planted trees thereon, these are insufficient to delineate boundaries. The bamboo fences respectively built by the parties do not conclusively appear either as clear dividing lines. Also, Flores will necessarily have to demolish their concrete fence and move it towards the resulting boundary, but they have only themselves to blame since they proceeded with its construction despite the verbal and written protests of Nico.

Essay: Logical Fallacies in SC Decisions

The following are examples of logical fallacy as used in SC decisions:

1. Legal and Judicial Ethics – Nonsequitur

As Rosa’s prayer for relief suggests, what she wants is for this Court to annul her marriage on the bases of its findings in A.C. No. 5333. Obviously, she is of the impression that since her charges in A.C. No. 5333 were found to be true, justifying the suspension of Justo from the practice of law, the same charges are also sufficient to prove his psychological incapacity to comply with the essential marital obligations.
Her premise is of course non-sequitur.
xxx
Accordingly, one’s unfitness as a lawyer does not automatically mean one’s unfitness as a husband or vice versa. The yardsticks for such roles are simply different. This is why the disposition in a disbarment case cannot be conclusive on an action for declaration of nullity of marriage. While Rosa’s charges sufficiently proved Justo’s unfitness as a lawyer, however, they may not establish that he is psychologically incapacitated to perform his duties as a husband. (Paras v Paras, GR No. 147824, August 2, 2007).

2. Labor Law – Hasty Generalization

We find appellant, despite her denial, to have been engaged in the practice of illegal recruitment in large scale and thus violated the provisions of Article 38 (a) and (b) in relation to Article 39 (a) and Article 13 (b) and (c) of the Labor Code.]
Appellant’s argument is less than convincing. In the face of direct and positive evidence presented by four complainants against her, the appellant could interpose only the defense of denial. She would want the trial court to make her denial prevail over the testimonies and documents presented by the prosecution. However, nothing on record would show any ill-motive or bias whatsoever that would taint the prosecution’s evidence. It thus becomes impossible for an objective judge to overturn, without legal basis, precedents which maintain that denial is a self-serving negative evidence that cannot be given greater weight than the declaration of credible witnesses who testified on affirmative matters. Between categorical statements of prosecution witnesses, on the one hand, and bare denials of the accused, on the other hand, the former must perforce prevail. All of the witnesses testified to having personally met the accused; they averred that she asked from them a sum of money in exchange for the promised employment overseas. Moreover, exhibits were presented in the form of receipts issued by and copies of the documentary requirements submitted to appellant. For appellant to say that she was merely chosen as a scapegoat for appellees’ misfortune, having failed to bring the alleged real recruiter to justice, does not appear well founded. It is but a hasty generalization of no probative significance. Without credible evidence proferred by the defense, bad faith or ulterior motive could not be imputed on the part of the appellees in pointing to the accused as the illegal recruiter who victimized them. When there is no showing that the principal witnesses for the prosecution were actuated by improper motive, the presumption is that the witnesses were not so actuated and their testimonies are thus entitled to full faith and credit. (Alert Security and Investigation Agency Inc v. Pasawilan, GR No. 182397, September 14, 2011).

3. Civil Law – Circular Argument

Appellees argue that what Article 16 of the Civil Code of the Philippines pointed out as the national law is the internal law of California. But as above explained the laws of California have prescribed two sets of laws for its citizens, one for residents therein and another for those domiciled in other jurisdictions. Reason demands that We should enforce the California internal law prescribed for its citizens residing therein, and enforce the conflict of laws rules for the citizens domiciled abroad. If we must enforce the law of California as in comity we are bound to go, as so declared in Article 16 of our Civil Code, then we must enforce the law of California in accordance with the express mandate thereof and as above explained, i.e., apply the internal law for residents therein, and its conflict-of-laws rule for those domiciled abroad.
It is argued on appellees’ behalf that the clause “if there is no law to the contrary in the place where the property is situated” in Sec. 946 of the California Civil Code refers to Article 16 of the Civil Code of the Philippines and that the law to the contrary in the Philippines is the provision in said Article 16 that the national law of the deceased should govern. This contention can not be sustained. As explained in the various authorities cited above the national law mentioned in Article 16 of our Civil Code is the law on conflict of laws in the California Civil Code, i.e., Article 946, which authorizes the reference or return of the question to the law of the testator’s domicile. The conflict of laws rule in California, Article 946, Civil Code, precisely refers back the case, when a decedent is not domiciled in California, to the law of his domicile, the Philippines in the case at bar. The court of the domicile can not and should not refer the case back to California; such action would leave the issue incapable of determination because the case will then be like a football, tossed back and forth between the two states, between the country of which the decedent was a citizen and the country of his domicile. The Philippine court must apply its own law as directed in the conflict of laws rule of the state of the decedent, if the question has to be decided, especially as the application of the internal law of California provides no legitime for children while the Philippine law, Arts. 887(4) and 894, Civil Code of the Philippines, makes natural children legally acknowledged forced heirs of the parent recognizing them. (In the Matter of the Testate Estate of Edward Christensen v. Helen Christensen Garcia, GR No. 16749, January 31, 1963).

4. Remedial Law – Fallacy of Composition

The petitioners further theorize that Section 1 (3) of PD 1866 is invalid because it gives the public prosecutor an option not to file a case for rebellion and instead file as many crimes for murder, frustrated murder, etc. as might have been perpetrated in furtherance of, or incident to, or in connection with rebellion, insurrection or subversion. The argument is not tenable. The fact is that the Revised Penal Code treats rebellion or insurrection as a crime distinct from murder, homicide, arson, or other felonies that might conceivably be committed in the course of a rebellion. It is the Code, therefore, in relation to the evidence in the hands of the public prosecutor, and not the latter’s whim or caprice, which gives the choice. The Code allows, for example, separate prosecutions for eithermurder or rebellion, although not for both where the indictment alleges that the former has been committed in furtherance of or in connection with the latter. Surely, whether people are killed or injured in connection with a rebellion, or not, the deaths or injuries of the victims are no less real, and the grief of the victims’ families no less poignant.
Moreover, it certainly is within the power of the legislature to determine what acts or omissions other than those set out in the Revised Penal Code or other existing statutes are to be condemned as separate, individual crimes and what penalties should be attached thereto. The power is not diluted or improperly wielded simply because at some prior time the act or omission was but an element or ingredient of another offense, or might usually have been connected with another crime. (Baylosis v. Chavez, GR No. 95136, October 3, 1991)

5. Criminal Law – Overzealous Application of General Rule

It may be argued that one who enters the dwelling house of another is not liable unless he has been forbidden — i.e., the phrase “against the will of the owner” means that there must have been an express prohibition to enter. In other words, if one enters the dwelling house of another without the knowledge of the owner he has not entered against his will. This construction is certainly not tenable, because entrance is forbidden generally under the spirit of the law unless permission to enter is expressly given. To allow this construction would destroy the very spirit of the law. Under the law no one has the right to enter the home of another without the other’s express consent. Therefore, to say that one’s home is open for the entrance of all who are not expressly forbidden. This is not the rule. The statute must not be given that construction. No one can enter the dwelling house of another, in there Islands, without rendering himself liable under the law, unless he has the express consent of the owner and unless the one seeking entrance comes within some of the exceptions dictated by the law or by a sound public policy. (US v. Arceo, GR No. 1491, March 5, 1904).

6. Political Law – Ad Hominem

Applying these precepts to this case, Executive Order No. 1 should be struck down as violative of the equal protection clause. The clear mandate of the envisioned truth commission is to investigate and find out the truth “concerning the reported cases of graft and corruption during the previous administration” only. The intent to single out the previous administration is plain, patent and manifest.
xxx
The reports of widespread corruption in the Arroyo administration cannot be taken as basis for distinguishing said administration from earlier administrations which were also blemished by similar widespread reports of impropriety. They are not inherent in, and do not inure solely to, the Arroyo administration. As Justice Isagani Cruz put it, “Superficial differences do not make for a valid classification.”
xxx
The insinuations that the members of the majority are impelled by improper motives, being countermajoritarian and allowing graft and corruption to proliferate with impunity are utterly baseless. Not only are these sort of ad hominem attacks and populist appeals to emotion fallacious, they are essentially non-legal arguments that have no place in a debate regarding constitutionality. At the end of the day, Justices of this Court must vote according to their conscience and their honest belief of what the law is in a particular case. That is what gives us courage to stand by our actions even in the face of the harshest criticism. Those who read our opinions, if they are truly discerning, will be able to determine if we voted on points of law and if any one of us was merely pandering to the appointing power. (Biraogo v. The Philippine Truth Commission of 2010, GR No. 192935, December 7, 2010).

8. Taxation Law – Ambiguity and Ignorance

The appellant’s brief says:
The lower court held that the plaintiff was not subject to the tax on consignments abroad, because it was not a merchant according to the definition of same given in section 1459 of the Revised Administrative Code. It is true that the plaintiff is not and never has been engaged in the sale, barter, or exchange of personal property of any character in the Philippine Islands (paragraph IV of Agreed Statement of Facts). It should be taken into consideration, however, that the plaintiff is a manufacturing corporation, licensed to transact business in this country and is engaged in the manufacture and sale of coconut and other oils in the United States (paragraph I of Agreed Statements of Facts). Inasmuch as plaintiff manufactures and sells oil, it comes within the definition of a merchant given in section 1459 above mentioned, which includes manufacturers who sell articles of their own production.”
The last statement is not tenable. The record shows that the plaintiff never did manufacture or sell oil in the Philippine Islands. That it only manufactures and sells oil in the United States. It is further contended that the plaintiff is the consignor of the copra and, as such, is liable of the payment of the tax. The contention is in direct conflict with clause two of the “Agreed Statement of Facts,” above quoted. (El Dorado Oil Works v. The Collector of Internal Revenue, GR No. 20101, July 12, 1923).

9. Commercial Law – Hasty Generalization

It is argued, however, that as the check had been made payable to “cash” and had not been endorsed by Ang Tek Lian, the defendant is not guilty of the offense charged. Based on the proposition that “by uniform practice of all banks in the Philippines a check so drawn is invariably dishonored,” the following line of reasoning is advanced in support of the argument:
. . . When, therefore, he (the offended party ) accepted the check (Exhibit A) from the appellant, he did so with full knowledge that it would be dishonored upon presentment. In that sense, the appellant could not be said to have acted fraudulently because the complainant, in so accepting the check as it was drawn, must be considered, by every rational consideration, to have done so fully aware of the risk he was running thereby.” (Brief for the appellant, p. 11.)
We are not aware of the uniformity of such practice. Instances have undoubtedly occurred wherein the Bank required the indorsement of the drawer before honoring a check payable to “cash.” But cases there are too, where no such requirement had been made . It depends upon the circumstances of each transaction.
Of course, if the bank is not sure of the bearer’s identity or financial solvency, it has the right to demand identification and /or assurance against possible complications, — for instance, (a) forgery of drawer’s signature, (b) loss of the check by the rightful owner, (c) raising of the amount payable, etc. The bank may therefore require, for its protection, that the indorsement of the drawer — or of some other person known to it — be obtained. But where the Bank is satisfied of the identity and /or the economic standing of the bearer who tenders the check for collection, it will pay the instrument without further question; and it would incur no liability to the drawer in thus acting. (Lian v. Court of Appeals, GR No. 2516, September 25, 1950).

Case Brief: Dela Cruz vs. People

G.R. No. 150439,     July 29, 2005
AMELITA DELA CRUZ, petitioner,
vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.

Facts:
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.

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

Held:
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.