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Art.

315: Estafa

Ong vs. People (G.R. No. 165275)

Facts: Petitioner had for years been buying jewelry from Gold Asia which is owned and
operated by the family of private complainant Rosa Cabuso. While she normally bought jewelry
on cash basis, she was allowed to issue postdated checks to cover the jewelry she bought in
December 1994 up to February 1995, upon her assurance that the checks would be funded on
their due dates. When, on maturity, the checks were deposited, they were returned with the stamp
"Account Closed."

Hence, petitioner was indicted for Estafa. She was likewise indicted for 10 counts of violation of
B.P. 22 before the RTC of Manila. RTC convicted petitioner of Estafa under Article 315,
paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code. The Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction. Motion
for reconsideration was denied. Hence, the petition.

Issue: Whether she could be convicted of Estafa under Article 315, paragraph 2(a) of the
Revised Penal Code when she was, in the Information, charged of Estafa under Article 315,
paragraph 2(d) of the same Code?

Held: The appeal is impressed with merit.

Section 14(2) of Article III of the Constitution grants the accused the right to be informed of the
nature and cause of the accusation. This is to enable the accused to adequately prepare for his
defense. An accused cannot thus be convicted of an offense unless it is clearly charged in the
complaint or information.

From the allegations in an information, the real nature of the crime charged is determined. In the
case at bar, the Information alleged that petitioner issued the questioned checks knowing that she
had no funds in the bank and failing to fund them despite notice that they were dishonored.
These allegations clearly constitute a charge, not under paragraph 2(a) as the lower courts found
but, under paragraph 2(d) of Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code.

Although the earlier quoted paragraph 2(a) and the immediately quoted paragraph 2(d) of Article
315 have a common element – false pretenses or fraudulent acts – the law treats Estafa under
paragraph 2(d) by postdating a check or issuing a bouncing check differently. Thus, under
paragraph 2(d), failure to fund the check despite notice of dishonor creates a prima facie
presumption of deceit constituting false pretense or fraudulent act, which is not an element of a
violation of paragraph 2(a).

Under paragraph 2(d), if there is no proof of notice of dishonor, knowledge of insufficiency of


funds cannot be presumed, and unless there is a priori intent, which is hard to determine and may
not be inferred from mere failure to comply with a promise, no Estafa can be deemed to
exist.Notice of dishonor being then an element of a charge under Article 2(d) under which
petitioner was clearly charged, failure to prove it is a ground for acquittal thereunder.
In the case at bar, as priorly stated, petitioner was charged under paragraph 2(d), but there is no
evidence that petitioner received notice of dishonor of all, except one (Allied Bank Check No.
7600042 for P76,654), of the questioned checks. Hence, with respect to all but one of the checks,
the prima facie presumption of knowledge of insufficiency of funds did not arise. This leaves it
unnecessary to pass on the evidence for the defense. Suffice it to state that petitioner’s defenses
of good faith and lack of criminal intent, defenses to a malum in se like Estafa, are not difficult
to credit. For, on notice of the lack of sufficient funds in her bank account, to cover the Allied
Bank check, petitioner offered to pay in installment, to which the private complainant agreed, the
amount covered by the said check, as well as the others. As reflected above, the prosecution
stipulated that petitioner had made a total payment of P338,250, which amount is almost one-
third of the total amount of the ten checks or more than the amount covered by the P76,654
Allied Bank check.

In fine, the prosecution having failed to establish all the elements of Estafa under Article 315,
paragraph 2(d) under which petitioner was clearly charged, her acquittal is in order. The
judgment bearing on her civil liability stands, however.

Chua vs. People (G.R. Nos. 150926 and 30)

Facts: Private complainant Araceli Estigoy was engaged in the buy and sell of imported goods
from 1982 to 1984 when she met appellant (Anita Chua) who transacted twice with her. n
November 25, 1982, appellant issued to complainant in payment of imported (PX) items
postdated checks drawn against Pacific Bank, Tarlac branch. On December 4, 1982, appellant
again went to complainant’s house, purchased some imported items and issued another set of
postdated checks drawn against the same bank in Tarlac. On their due dates, complainant
deposited the checks in the bank but they were dishonored, as evidenced by the check return
slips with annotations as follows: "drawn against insufficient funds" and/or "account closed".
Complainant notified appellant of the dishonor and demanded payment of the checks. Appellant
failed to redeem or pay the amounts of the checks despite several demands. Appellant admitted
issuing the checks but interposed the defense that she issued the checks as collateral and by way
of accommodation of the complainant who requested for the checks. The Regional Trial Court
found appellant guilty of violation of Article 315 (2)(d) of the Revised Penal Code (RPC). The
Court of Appeals upheld the judgment of conviction rendered by the court a quo, with a slight
modification as to the penalty imposed. Hence, the petition.

Issue: Whether or not Anita Chua is guilty of Estafa under Article 315 (2)(d) of the RPC?

Decision: Article 315 (2)(d) of the RPC penalizes any person who defrauds another by
postdating a check or issuing a check in payment of an obligation when the offender has no
funds in the bank or his funds deposited therein are not sufficient to cover the amount of the
check.

The elements of estafa under Article 315, paragraph 2(d) of the RPC, as amended by RA 4885,
are:
(1) That the offender postdated or issued a check in payment of an obligation contracted at the
time of the postdating or issuance;

(2) That the at the time of the issuance of the check, the offender had no funds in the bank or the
funds deposited were insufficient to cover the amount of the check; and,

(3) That the payee has been defrauded.

All the elements of the crime of estafa under par. 2(d) of Art. 315, RPC are present in this case.
The evidence showed and petitioner Chua admitted issuing the questioned checks in favor of
private respondent in exchange for the imported goods she obtained from the latter. It is likewise
not disputed that the checks she issued bounced or were dishonored due to insufficiency of funds
and/or because her bank account had already been closed by the bank due to lack of funds. As a
result, private respondent suffered damage. She had to close down her business because she
could not recoup her losses due to the huge amount petitioner owed her.

Petitioner’s defense that she issued the unfunded checks as collateral or security for the goods
she got from private respondent was not worthy of credence. the amounts of the checks issued by
petitioner clearly showed that they were intended as payments for the items she obtained from
private respondent. Private respondent would not have parted with her goods in exchange for
bum checks. It was likewise contrary to ordinary human experience and to sound business
practice for petitioner to issue so many unfunded checks as "collateral" or "by way of
accommodation." As an experienced businesswoman, petitioner could not have been so naïve as
not to know that she could be held criminally liable for issuing unfunded checks.

Ergo, the petition is denied for lack of merit.

Gonzaludo vs. People (G.R. No. 150910)

Facts: Before his death in 1992, one Ulysses Villaflor was a member of the Bacolod City Police
Office. On January 11, 1978, Ulysses married Anita Manlangit in Bacolod City. Thereafter, the
couple stayed with Ulysses’s mother at the latter’s house at Bacolod City. Later, Ulysses was
assigned to Pagadian City. Meanwhile, his wife Anita secured a teaching job in Catubig, Samar
prompting her to leave Bacolod City and live in Samar.

After less than a year in Pagadian City, Ulysses was re-assigned to Bacolod City. And, in
December of 1978, he was able to buy for P1,500.00 a small house located near that of his
mother at Purok 5, Mansungay, 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 and the house was transformed into a 2-storey structure. After Ulysses’s demise in January
of 1992, his mistress Rosemarie Gelogo offered to sell the 2-storey house for P80,000.00 to
herein petitioner Bienvenido Gonzaludo, a.k.a. Ben Gonzaludo, who lives just nearby. Since the
house was being sold for a cheap price, petitioner convinced the spouses Gregg Canlas and
Melba Canlas, to whom he is related by affinity, to buy the same. Herein, petitioner introduced
the Canlases to Rosemarie Gelogo. In the Deed of Sale, Rosemarie Gelogo signed as Rosemarie
G. Villaflor and represented herself to be the lawful owner of the 2-storey house. By virtue of the
same deed, vendee Gregg Canlas acquired all of Rosemarie’s rights and interest on the subject
house.

Later, upon complaint of Ulysses’s widow Anita Manlangit, an Information dated May 31, 1994
was filed with the Regional Trial Court of Bacolod City 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. The trial court acquitted the Canlas spouses but
convicted petitioner of the crime charged. The appellate affirmed the trial court’s judgment of
conviction.

Issue: Whether or not Rosemarie Villaflor is guilty of the crime of Estafa thru Falsification of
Public Document as defined and punished under Paragraph 2(a), Article 315, Revised Penal
Code considering that the third element of the crime of Estafa is not present?

Decision: The petition is partly impressed with merit.

For an accused to be convicted of the complex crime of estafa through falsification of public
document, all the elements of the two crimes of estafa and falsification of public document must
exist.

There is no question that the first, second and fourth elements are present: there was false or
fraudulent misrepresentation by Rosemarie Gelogo when she used the fictitious surname
"Villaflor"; the misrepresentation or false pretense was made prior to or simultaneous with the
commission of the fraud; and private complainant Anita Manlangit’s right to the subject 2-storey
house was lost or at the very least prejudiced when Rosemarie sold it to the Canlases.

It is petitioner’s thesis, however, that there is here an absence of the third element 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. The Court find merit in petitioner’s
submission.

The Court finds no cogent reason to depart from the settled principle that the deceit, which must
be prior to or simultaneously committed with the act of defraudation, must be the efficient cause
or primary consideration which induced the offended party to part with his money or property
and rule differently in the present case.

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.
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 under the same
Information charging the complex crime of estafa through falsification of public document.

It is settled doctrine that the conviction of an accused on one of the offenses included in a
complex crime charged, when properly established, despite the failure of evidence to hold the
accused of the other charge is legally feasible. As correctly found by the trial court, petitioner
conspired with Rosemarie to falsify, that is, by making untruthful statement in the narration of
facts in the deed of sale, 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 who is the brother-in-law of Melba Canlas, one of the buyers of the house in this case.

Petitioner is acquitted of the complex crime of Estafa through Falsification of Public Document,
but found guilty of the crime of Falsification of Public Document.