June 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are select June 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:

1. REVISED PENAL CODE

Estafa; elements. Entrenched in jurisprudence are the following essential elements of Estafa under Article 315, paragraph 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code: (a) that money, goods or other personal properties are 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 is a 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. In this case, all these elements have been sufficiently established by the prosecution in this case. Andre L. D’Aigle v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 174181, June 27, 2012.

Estafa; misappropriation;Trust Receipts Law. In order that the respondents may be validly prosecuted for estafa under Article 315, paragraph 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code, in relation with Section 13 of the Trust Receipts Law, the following elements must be established: (a) they received the subject goods in trust or under the obligation to sell the same and to remit the proceeds thereof to [the trustor], or to return the goods if not sold; (b) they misappropriated or converted the goods and/or the proceeds of the sale; (c) they performed such acts with abuse of confidence to the damage and prejudice of the entrustor; and (d) demand was made on them by [the trustor] for the remittance of the proceeds or the return of the unsold goods. Land Bank of the Philippines v. Lamberto C. Perez, et al., G.R. No. 166884, June 13, 2012.

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January 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are selected January 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:

1.         REVISED PENAL CODE

Estafa; probable cause. East Asia acted as dealer of commercial papers and custodian of the same on Zamora’s behalf.  This is clear from the terms of its sale invoice and custodian receipt.  East Asia acquired the commercial papers in trust and was obliged to deliver them and their proceeds to Zamora, failing which, its responsible officers could be prosecuted for estafa.  However, there was no probable cause to charge the respondents with estafa.  Zamora failed to identify the particular officers of East Asia who were responsible for the misappropriation or conversion of her funds. She simply assumed that since she had been communicating with them in connection with her investments, they all had a part in misappropriating her money or converting them to their use.  Many of them were evidently mere employees doing work for East Asia.  She did not submit proof of their specific criminal role in the transactions she assailed.  It is settled that only corporate officers who actually had part in the crime may be held liable for it. Virginia A. Zamora v. Jose Armado L. Eduque, et al, G.R. No. 174005, January 25, 2012.

Estafa through falsification; presumption of authorship. Metrobank urges the application of the presumption of authorship against Tobias based on his having offered the duplicate copy of the spurious title to secure the loan, and posits that there is no requirement that the presumption shall apply only when there is absence of a valid explanation from the person found to have possessed, used and benefited from the forged document. Metrobank’s theory was not sustained here. First, a presumption affects the burden of proof that is normally lodged in the State. The effect is to create the need of presenting evidence to overcome the prima facie case that shall prevail in the absence of proof to the contrary. As such, a presumption of law is material during the actual trial of the criminal case where in the establishment thereof the party against whom the inference is made should adduce evidence to rebut the presumption and demolish the prima facie case. This is not so in a preliminary investigation, where the investigating prosecutor only determines the existence of a prima facie case that warrants the prosecution of a criminal case in court. Second, the presumption of authorship, being disputable, may be accepted and acted upon where no evidence upholds the contention for which it stands. It is not correct to say, consequently, that the investigating prosecutor will try to determine the existence of the presumption during preliminary investigation, and then to disregard the evidence offered by the respondent. Moreover, the presumption that whoever possesses or uses a spurious document is its forger applies only in the absence of a satisfactory explanation.  Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. (Metrobank), represented by Rosella A. Santiago v. Antonio O. Tobias III, G.R. No. 177780, January 25, 2012.

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January 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are selected January 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:

CRIMINAL LAW

Revised Penal Code

Aggravating circumstance; abuse of superior strength. To take advantage of superior strength is to purposely use excessive force, out of proportion to the means of defense available to the person attacked. As testified by Santiago Arasula, the lone eyewitness, the two accused were stabbing his brother, who was unarmed and intoxicated.  It is clear, therefore, that Armando was in no position to defend himself from two armed assailants, who, as Santiago testified, were armed with small bolos.  While it is true that superiority in number does not per se mean superiority in strength, accused-appellants in this case did not only enjoy superiority in number, but were armed with weapons, while the victim had no means with which to defend himself. Accused-appellants took advantage of their number and weapons, as well as the condition of the victim, to commit the crime. People of the Philippines vs. Hemiano De Jesus and Rodelo Morales, G.R. No. 186528, January 26, 2011.

Criminal liability; principal by inducement. Accused Rohmat is criminally responsible under the second paragraph of Article 17 of the Revised Penal Code, specifically, the provision on “principal by inducement.” The instructions and training he had given Asali on how to make bombs – coupled with their careful planning and persistent attempts to bomb different areas in Metro Manila and Rohmat’s confirmation that Trinidad would be getting TNT from Asali as part of their mission – prove the finding that Rohmat’s co-inducement was the determining cause of the commission of the crime. Such “command or advice [was] of such nature that, without it, the crime would not have materialized.” Further, the inducement was “so influential in producing the criminal act that without it, the act would not have been performed.” People of the Philippines vs. Khaddafy Janjalani, et al, G.R. No. 188314, January 10, 2011.

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July 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are selected July 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:

CRIMINAL LAW

1.     Revised Penal Code

Aggravating circumstance; treachery. In the killing of victims in this case, the trial court was correct in appreciating the aggravating circumstance of treachery. There is treachery when the attack is so sudden and unexpected that the victim had no opportunity either to avert the attack or to defend himself. Indeed, nothing can be more sudden and unexpected than when a father stabs to death his two young daughters while they were sound asleep and totally defenseless. People of the Philippines vs. Calonge y Verana, G.R. No. 182793, July 5, 2010.

Aggravating circumstance; treachery. The Court held that treachery can still be appreciated even though the victim was forewarned of the danger to his life because what is decisive is that the attack was executed in a manner that the victim was rendered defenseless and unable to retaliate. Although the victim knew that the accused held a grudge against him, he never had any inkling that he would actually be attacked that night. The way it was executed made it impossible for the victim to respond or defend himself. He just had no opportunity to repel the sudden attack, rendering him completely helpless. Accused, moreover, used a firearm to easily neutralize the victim, which was undeniably a swift and effective way to achieve his purpose. Lastly, but significantly, the accused aimed for the face of the victim ensuring that the bullet would penetrate it and damage his brain. These acts are distinctly indicative of the treacherous means employed by the accused to guarantee the consummation of his criminal plan. Thus, as treachery attended the killing of Loreto Cruz, such circumstance qualified the killing as murder, punishable under paragraph 1 of Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code. People of the Philippines vs. Pedro Ortiz, Jr. y Lopez, G.R. No. 188704, July 7, 2010.

Attempted homicide; civil liability; temperate damages. The Supreme Court modified the decision of the Court of Appeals with respect to the petitioner’s civil liability for being erroneous and contrary to prevailing jurisprudence. The Court of Appeals ordered actual damages to be paid in the amount of P3,858.50. In People v. Andres, the Supreme Court held that if the actual damages, proven by receipts during the trial, amount to less than P25,000.00, the victim shall be entitled to temperate damages in the amount of P25,000.00 in lieu of actual damages. The award of temperate damages is based on Article 2224 of the New Civil Code which states that temperate or moderate damages may be recovered when the court finds that some pecuniary loss was suffered but its amount cannot be proven with certainty. In this case, the victim is entitled to the award of P25,000.00 as temperate damages considering that the amount of actual damages is only P3,858.50. Actual damages should no longer be awarded. Giovani Serrano y Cervantes vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 175023, July 5, 2010.

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Remedies for non-payment of loan secured by mortgage and checks

According to the Supreme Court, a creditor has three (3) alternative remedies if the debtor fails (or unjustly refuses) to pay his debt when it falls due and the debt is secured by a mortgage and by a check:

. . . the creditor has three options against the debtor and the exercise of one will bar the exercise of the others. He may pursue either of the three but not all or a combination of them.

First, the creditor may file a collection suit against the debtor. This will open up all the properties of the debtor to attachment and execution, even the mortgaged property itself. Second, the creditor may opt to foreclose on the mortgaged property. In case the debt is not fully satisfied, he may sue the debtor for deficiency judgment (not a collection case for the whole indebtedness), in which case, all the properties of the debtor, other than the mortgaged property, are again opened up for the satisfaction of the deficiency. Lastly, the creditor may opt to sue the debtor for violation of BP 22 if the checks securing the obligation bounce. Circular 57-97 and Section 1(b), Rule 111 of the Rules of Court both provide that the criminal action for violation of BP 22 shall be deemed to necessarily include the corresponding civil action, i.e., a collection suit. No reservation to file such civil action separately shall be allowed or recognized.

Given the special circumstances of the case, the Supreme Court did not apply the above rule in Spouses Simon Yap and Milagros Guevarra vs. First e-Bank, Inc., G.R. No. 169889, September 29, 2009. Here, Sammy Yap obtained a loan from PDCP. As security, his parents executed a third party mortgage covering their land and the warehouse standing on it. In addition, Yap delivered six post dated checks to PDCP.

The checks bounced and PDCP filed a complaint for violation of the Bouncing Checks Law (BP 22). PDCP subsequently filed an application for the extrajudicial foreclosure of mortgage.

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July 2009 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Legal/Judicial Ethics

Here are selected July 2009 Philippine Supreme Court decisions on criminal law and legal/judicial ethics.

Criminal Law

Accomplice. To hold a person liable as an accomplice, two elements must concur: (1) community of design, which means that the accomplice knows of, and concurs with, the criminal design of the principal by direct participation; and (2) the performance by the accomplice of previous or simultaneous acts that are not indispensable to the commission of the crime. In this case, Maliao facilitated the commission of the crime by providing his own house as the venue thereof. His presence throughout the commission of the heinous offense, without him doing anything to prevent the malefactors or help the victim, indubitably show community of design and cooperation, although he had no direct participation in the execution thereof. People of the Philippines vs. Jessie Maliao y Masakit, Norberto Chiong y Discotido and Luciano Bohol y Gamana, Jessie Maliao y Masakit(Accused-Appellant), G.R. No. 178058,  July 31, 2009.

Alibi.   The defense of alibi must fail, especially in light of the fact that two of the prosecution witnesses, BBB and DDD, positively identified accused-appellant as one of the malefactors of the crime. Positive identification, where categorical and consistent and without any showing of ill motive on the part of the eyewitnesses testifying on the matter, prevails over alibi and denial. These defenses, if not substantiated by clear and convincing evidence, are negative and self-serving evidence undeserving of weight in law.  People of the Philippines vs. Teodulo Villanueva, Jr., G.R. No. 187152.  July 22, 2009

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