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For petitioner to be convicted of the complex crime of estafa through falsification of public document committed in the manner described

in the Information, all the elements of the two crimes of estafa and falsification of public document must exist. Gonzaludo v. People, G.R. No. 150910, February 6, 2006, 481 SCRA 569, 577. To secure a conviction for estafa under Article 315, paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), the following requisites must concur: (1) The accused made false pretenses or fraudulent representations as to his power, influence, qualifications, property, credit, agency, business or imaginary transactions; (2) The false pretenses or fraudulent representations were made prior to or simultaneous with the commission of the fraud; (3) The false pretenses or fraudulent representations constitute the very cause which induced the offended party to part with his money or property; (4) That as a result thereof, the offended party suffered damage.10 It is undisputed that petitioner committed estafa. He and his wife falsely represented to Ramirez that they had the influence and capability to cause the subdivision of the lot. In view of said false representation, Ramirez was induced to part with the owners copy of her TCT on the condition that the same would be returned after a month as evidenced by the Acknowledgment Receipt. However, petitioner and his wife never complied with their obligations. It is also on record that Ramirez made a formal demand for the return of the TCT but petitioner and his wife failed to comply. Their failure to return the said title despite demand is evidence of deceit that resulted in damages to Ramirez. It was also established that the property covered by TCT No. 188686 was eventually mortgaged for P300,000.00 to a third person without the knowledge and consent of Ramirez. The following testimony of Ramirez clearly established that petitioner falsely represented that he has the capacity to cause the subdivision of the property; that false pretenses induced her (Ramirez) to entrust her TCT to petitioner; and that as a result thereof, Ramirez suffered damage to the extent of P300,000.00, thus: Q Tell us when did you come to meet both Rosalinda and Danilo Ansaldo? A In 1993. Petitioner did not deny his signature on the Acknowledgement Receipt.12 On the contrary he claimed that he merely affixed his signature without reading the contents thereof13 and that he did not bother to inquire from his wife the contents of the Acknowledgement Receipt,14 which we find not worthy of credence. However, he admitted that his wife was engaged in facilitating the registration of documents involving real property.15 On the other hand, we find that we cannot convict petitioner of the crime of falsification of a public document penalized under Article 172 of the RPC. The following requisites must concur, to wit: (1) That the offender is a private individual or a public officer or employee who took advantage of his official position;

(2) That he committed any of the acts of falsification enumerated in article 171 of the Revised Penal Code (which in this case involves forging a signature); (3) That the falsification was committed in a public or official or commercial document. Luis B. Reyes, The Revised Penal Code, Book II, 17th Edition (2008), p. 232. There is no doubt that petitioner is a private individual,17 being a businessman. It is likewise not disputed that the Deed of Mortgage is a public document, having been notarized by a notary public with the solemnities required by law. However, we find no evidence on record showing that the petitioner and his wife falsified the subject Deed of Mortgage. There is simply no evidence showing that petitioner had any participation in the execution of the mortgage document. There is no proof at all that he was the one who signed the Deed of Mortgage. The testimony of Ramirez consisted only of the following: Q How did you come to know that the property was mortgaged? A A woman came to me named Lina Santos and showed me the document, a mortgage document. Q And when was that?

In Criminal Case Nos. 3625, 3626, and 3453, Batulanon's act38 of falsification falls under paragraph 2 of Article 171, i.e., causing it to appear that persons have participated in any act or proceeding when they did not in fact so participate. This is because by signing the name of Omadlao, Oracion, and Arroyo in Cash Voucher Nos. 30A, 237A, and 267A, respectively, as payee of the amounts appearing in the corresponding cash vouchers, Batulanon made it appear that they obtained a loan and received its proceeds when they did not in fact secure said loan nor receive the amounts reflected in the cash vouchers. The prosecution established that Batulanon caused the preparation of the Cash Vouchers in the name of Omadlao and Oracion knowing that they are not PCCI members and not qualified for a loan from the cooperative. In the case of Arroyo, Batulanon was aware that while the former is a member, she did not apply for a loan with the cooperative. Medallo categorically declared that she saw Batulanon forge the signatures of Oracion and Arroyo in the vouchers and made it appear that the amounts stated therein were actually received by these persons. As to the signature of Arroyo, Medallo's credible testimony and her familiarity with the handwriting of Batulanon proved that it was indeed the latter who signed the name of Arroyo. Contrary to Batulanon's contention, the prosecution is not duty-bound to present the persons whose signatures were forged as Medallo's eyewitness account of the incident was sufficient. Moreover, under Section 22, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court, the handwriting of a person may be proved by any witness who believes it to be the handwriting of such person because he has seen the person write,

or has seen writing purporting to be his upon which the witness has acted or been charged, and has thus acquired knowledge of the handwriting of such person. Her insistence that Medallo is a biased witness is without basis. There is no evidence showing that Medallo was prompted by any ill motive.

To secure conviction for estafa under Article 315, paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code, the Court has time and again ruled that 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 damageFernandez vs. People, 341 SCRA 277 (2000). (Emphasis supplied).

As early as in the 1903 case of U.S. vs. Mendezona, 2 Phil. 353 (1903). we held that therein accused may be convicted for estafa only when the deceit or false pretenses, committed simultaneously with the fraud, were the efficient cause or primary consideration which induced the offended party to part with his money or property. Thirty (30) years thereafter, the rule remains the same. In the 1933 case of People vs. Lilius, 59 Phil. 339 (1933). the Court, through then Chief Justice Ramon Avancea, acquitted the accused of estafa because the deceit did not precede the defraudation, which means that the deceit was not the cause which could have induced the damage or prejudice to or loss of property suffered by the injured party.
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In the cases of People vs. Quesada, 60 Phil. 515 (1934).People vs. Fortuno, 73 Phil. 407 (1941).and People vs. Sabio, 86 SCRA 568 (1978).which span more than another forty-five (45) years after Lilius, the Court continued to apply the same principle in determining criminal liability for estafa, i.e., that the deceit must have been committed prior to or simultaneous with the fraudulent act because this was the only way that said deceit could become the efficient cause or primary consideration which could have induced the offended party to part with his money or property. The doctrine remains the same a hundred (100) years after the 1903 case of Mendezona. Thus, in the 2003 case of Alcantara vs. Court of Appeals, 416 SCRA 418 (2003).this Court acquitted the therein accused of the crime of estafa explaining, through Justice Romeo J. Callejo, Sr., that the false pretense or fraudulent act must be committed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud, thus:

xxx fraud in its general sense is deemed to comprise anything calculated to deceive, including all acts, omissions, and concealment involving a breach of legal or equitable duty, trust, or confidence justly reposed, resulting in damage to another, or by which an undue and unconscientious advantage is taken of another. It is a generic term embracing all multifarious means which human ingenuity can device, and which are resorted to by one individual to secure an advantage over another by false suggestions or by suppression of truth and includes all surprise, trick, cunning, dissembling and. any unfair way by which another is cheated. And 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. The false pretense or fraudulent act must be committed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud.

We find no cogent reason to depart from this 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.

Art. 315. Swindling (estafa). Any person who shall defraud another by any of the means mentioned hereinbelow shall be punished by: xxx xxx xxx

2. By means of any of the following false pretenses or fraudulent acts executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud: (a) By using a fictitious name, or falsely pretending to possess power, influence, qualifications, property, credit, agency, business or imaginary transactions; or by means of other similar deceits. xxx xxx xxx

It was proven during trial that Milla misrepresented himself to have the authority to sell the subject property, and it was precisely this misrepresentation that prompted MPI to purchase it. Because of its reliance on his authority and on the falsified Deed of Absolute Sale and TCT No. 218777, MPI parted with its money in the amount of P2 million, which has not been returned until now despite Millas allegation of novation. Clearly, he is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of estafa through falsification of public documents
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