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NIEVES A.

SAGUIGUIT,
Petitioner,






- versus -





PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
Respondent.
G.R. No. 144054

Present:

PUNO, J., Chairperson,
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
CORONA,
AZCUNA, and
GARCIA, JJ.



Promulgated:


June 30, 2006

x------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

D E C I S I O N


GARCIA, J.:

Assailed and sought to be set aside in this petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of
Court is the Decision
[1]
dated June 28, 2000 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No.
22180, affirming the decision rendered by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Angeles City
convicting herein petitioner Nieves Saguiguit of violation (eight [8] counts) of Batas Pambansa
(B.P.) Blg. 22, otherwise known as the Bouncing Checks Law.

The facts:

In eight (8) separate informations filed with the RTC of Angeles City, thereat docketed as
Criminal Case Nos. 94-03-226 to 94-03-233, petitioner was charged with violations of the
Bouncing Checks Law. All containing identical allegations as to the elements of the offense
charged and differing only as regards the respective amounts and due dates of the check involved
in each case, the eight (8) informations uniformly alleged:

That on or about the 1st week of April, 1991, in the City of Angeles, Philippines, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously draw and issue to the complainant MR. ELMER
EVANGELISTA a Traders Royal Bank Check No._________________, in the amount of
_________________, dated _________________, 1991, well knowing and without
informing the complainant that she has no sufficient funds with the drawee bank, which
check when deposited for payment was dishonored for reason "ACCOUNT CLOSED" and
demand notwithstanding for more than five (5) days from notice of dishonor, the accused
failed and refused and still fails and refuses to redeem the said check to the damage and
prejudice of the complainant ELMER EVANGELISTA in the afore-mentioned amount of
________________, Philippine Currency.


After trial, the RTC, in a decision dated March 16, 1998, adjudged petitioner guilty as
charged in each information and accordingly sentenced her to suffer imprisonment and pay fine
and to indemnify private complainant, thus:

1. In Crim. Case No. 94-03-226, one (1) year imprisonment and to pay a fine of
P26,500.00 with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, to indemnify the
complainant the amount of P26,500.00 and to pay the cost;

2. In Crim. Case No. 94-03-227, one (1) year imprisonment and to pay a fine of
P28,000.00 with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, to indemnify the
complainant the amount of P28,000.00 and to pay the cost;

3. In Crim. Case No. 94-03-228, one (1) year imprisonment and to pay a fine of
P21,500.00 with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, to indemnify the
complainant the amount of P21,500.00 and to pay the cost;

4. In Crim. Case No. 94-03-229, one (1) year imprisonment and to pay a fine of
P20,000.00 with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, to indemnify the
complainant the amount of P20,000.00 and to pay the cost;

5. In Crim. Case No. 94-03-230, one (1) year imprisonment and to pay a fine of
P21,500.00 with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, to indemnify the
complainant the amount of P21,500.00 and to pay the cost;

6. In Crim. Case No. 94-03-231, one (1) year imprisonment and to pay a fine of
P21,500.00 with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, to indemnify the
complainant the amount of P21,500.00 and to pay the cost;

7. In Crim. Case No. 94-03-232, one (1) year imprisonment and to pay a fine of
P21,500.00 with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, to indemnify the
complainant the amount of P21,500.00 and to pay the cost; and

8. In Crim. Case No. 94-03-233, one (1) year imprisonment and to pay a fine of
P22,500.00 with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, to indemnify the
complainant the amount of P22,500.00 and to pay the cost.
[2]


Unable to accept the verdict of guilt, petitioner went on appeal to the CA whereat her
appellate recourse was docketed as CA-G.R. CR NO. 22180. In the herein assailed Decision
dated June 28, 2000, the appellate court affirmed that of the trial court:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision dated March 16, 1998 rendered by
the court a quo is hereby AFFIRMED with costs against the appellant (herein petitioner).

SO ORDERED.
[3]



Undaunted, petitioner interposed the instant recourse urging the Court not only to review
the factual determinations of the CA, but also to reexamine extant jurisprudence on the Bouncing
Checks Law. As the petitioner would put it:

The instant case calls for a reexamination and modification, if not abandonment, of
rulings to the effect that the mere issuance of a check which is subsequently dishonored
makes the issuer liable for violation of BP Blg. 22 regardless of the intent of the parties .
Petitioner respectfully submits that it was not the intention of the lawmaking body, to
make the issuance of a bum check ipso facto a criminal offense already; there must be an
intent to commit the prohibited act, and subject check should be issued to apply on account or
for value.

This case also calls for a review of the findings of the facts of the CA, as and by way
of exception to the rule that only questions of law may be raised in a petition for review under
Rule 45 . Petitioner humbly submits that the CA's findings of fact are not supported by
evidence and differ from those of the [RTC]. xxx
[4]
(Underscoring in the original; citation
omitted.)

The petition is devoid of merit.
At its most basic, what the petitioner asks is for the Court to delve into the policy behind or
wisdom of a statute, i.e., B.P. Blg. 22, which, under the doctrine of separation of powers, it
cannot do, matters of legislative wisdom being within the domain of Congress.
[5]
Even with the
best of motives, the Court can only interpret and apply the law and cannot, despite doubts about
its wisdom, amend or repeal it. Courts of justice have no right to encroach on the prerogatives of
lawmakers, as long as it has not been shown that they have acted with grave abuse of discretion.
And while the judiciary may interpret laws and evaluate them for constitutional soundness and to
strike them down if they are proven to be infirm, this solemn power and duty do not include the
discretion to correct by reading into the law what is not written therein.
[6]

Here, petitioner makes no attempt to challenge the constitutionality of the Bouncing Checks
Law. At bottom, then, petitioner's last and only remaining remedy is to seek an amendment of the
law in question, a matter which should be addressed to Congress no less. For at the end of the
day, the legislature is the primary judge of the necessity, adequacy, wisdom, reasonableness and
expediency of any law.
[7]

xxx Under our system of government where powers are allocated to the three (3)
great branches, only the Legislature can remedy such deficiency [in the law], if any, by
proper amendment.
[8]
(Words in bracket added).
Petitioner likewise calls for modification, if not abandonment of the rulings that hold
issuers of bad checks liable under the Bouncing Checks Law regardless of intent.
[9]

The call must fall.
Judicial decisions applying or interpreting laws shall form a part of the legal system of
the Philippines.
[10]
Stare decisis et non quieta movere. Let the decision stand and disturb not
what is already settled. The doctrine of stare decisis is a salutary and necessary rule. When the
Court lays down a principle of law applicable to a certain set of facts, it must adhere to such
principle and apply it to all future cases where the facts in issue are substantially the
same.
[11]
Else, the ideal of a stable jurisprudential system can never be achieved.

Specifically, the principle underlying the concept of mala prohibita is the stare
decisis governing a long history of cases involving violations of the Bouncing Checks Law.

xxx [T]he gravamen of the offense is the act of making and issuing a worthless
check or any check that is dishonored upon its presentment for payment and putting them in
circulation. . The law was designed to prohibit and altogether eliminate the deleterious and
pernicious practice of issuing checks with insufficient or no credit or funds therefor. Such
practice is deemed a public nuisance, a crime against public order to be abated. The mere act
of issuing a worthless check, is covered by B.P. 22. It is a crime classified as malum
prohibitum. xxx.

The effects of the issuance of a worthless check transcends the private interests of the
parties . The mischief it creates is not only a wrong to the payee or holder, but also an
injury to the public. The harmful practice of putting valueless commercial papers in
circulation, multiplied a thousandfold, can very well pollute the channels of trade and
commerce, injure the banking system and eventually hurt the welfare of society and the
public interest. xxx.

xxx xxx xxx

It bears stressing that, whether a person is an accommodation party is a question of
intent. When the intent of the parties does not appear on the face of the check, it must be
ascertained in the light of the surrounding facts and circumstances. Invariably, the tests
applied are the purpose test and the proceeds test. xxx. What the law punishes is the
issuance itself of a bouncingcheck and not the purpose for which it was issued or of the terms
and conditions relating to its issuance. The mere act of issuing a worthless check, whether
merely as an accommodation, is covered by B.P. 22. Hence, the agreement surrounding the
issuance of a check is irrelevant to the prosecution and conviction of the petitioner. xxx.
[12]

Neither can the Court grant petitioner's call for review of the findings of the facts of the
CA.
[13]
We need not belabor the basic rule that the Court is not a trier of facts.

Moreover, granting arguendo that petitioner's version of the facts is true that her
transaction was only with a certain Bernadette Montes and not with private complainant Elmer
Evangelista the hard fact remains that she issued eight (8) bouncing checks that went into
circulation. In net effect, what she did was to borrow from Ruiz, to pollute the channels of trade
and commerce, injuring the banking system, and eventually hurting the welfare of society and the
public interest.

Finally, while we affirm petitioner's conviction, we deem it proper to modify the penalty
imposed by the trial court and effectively sustained by the CA, pursuant to the policy established
under Supreme Court (SC) Administrative Circular No. 12-2000 dated November 21, 2000, on the
subject: PENALTY FOR VIOLATION OF [BP] Blg. 22, as clarified in SC Administrative Circular No.
13-2001 dated February 14, 2001, pertinently reading as follows:

SC Administrative Circular No. 12-2000

Section 1 of B.P. Blg. 22 imposes the penalty of imprisonment of not less than
thirty (30) days but not more than one (1) year OR a fine of not less than but not more than
double the amount of the check, which fine shall in no case exceed P200,000, OR both such
fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court.

In its decision in Eduardo Vaca v. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 131714, 16 November
1998, 298 SCRA 656, 664) the Supreme Court modified the sentence imposed for
violation of B.P. Blg. 22 by deleting the penalty of imprisonment and imposing only the
penalty of fine in an amount double the amount of the check. In justification thereof, the
Court said:

Petitioner are first-time offenders. They are Filipino entrepreneurs
who presumably contribute to the national economy. Apparently, they
brought this appeal, believing in all good faith, although mistakenly that they
had not committed a violation of B.P. Blg. 22. Otherwise they could simply
have accepted the judgment of the trial court and applied for probation to
evade a prison term. It would best serve the ends of criminal justice if in
fixing the penalty within the range of discretion allowed by 1, par. 1, the
same philosophy underlying the Indeterminate Sentence Law is observed,
namely, that of redeeming valuable human material and preventing
unnecessary deprivation of personal liberty and economic usefulness with due
regard to the protection of the social order. In this case we believe that a fine
in an amount equal to double the amount of the check involved is an
appropriate penalty to impose on each of the petitioners.

In the recent case of Rosa Lim v. People of the Philippines the Supreme Court En
Banc, applying Vaca also deleted the penalty of imprisonment and sentenced the drawer of
the bounced check to the maximum of the fine allowed by B.P. Blg. 22, xxx..
[14]



SC Administrative Circular No. 13-2001

The clear tenor and intention of Administrative Circular No. 12-2000 is not to remove
imprisonment as an alternative penalty, but to lay down a rule of preference in the application
of the penalties provided for in B.P. Blg. 22.

The pursuit of this purpose clearly does not foreclose the possibility of imprisonment
for violations of B.P. Blg. 22. Neither does it defeat the legislative intent behind the law.

Thus, Administrative Circular No. 12-2000 establishes a rule of preference in the
application of the penal provisions of B.P. Blg. 22 such that where the circumstances of both
the offense and the offender clearly indicate good faith or a clear mistake of fact without taint
of negligence, the imposition of a fine alone should be considered as the more appropriate
penalty. Needless to say, the determination of whether the circumstances warrant the
imposition of a fine alone rests solely upon the Judge.
[15]
Should the Judge decide that
imprisonment is the more appropriate penalty, Administrative Circular No. 12-2000 ought
not be deemed a hindrance.

[16]

It is, therefore, understood that:

1. Administrative Circular 12-2000 does not remove imprisonment as an alternative
penalty for violations of B.P. Blg. 22;

2. The Judges concerned may, in the exercise of sound discretion, and taking into
consideration the peculiar circumstances of each case, determine whether the
imposition of a fine alone would best serve the interests of justice or whether
forbearing to impose imprisonment would depreciate the seriousness of the offense,
work violence on the social order, or otherwise be contrary to the imperatives of
justice;

[17]

3. Should only a fine be imposed and the accused be unable to pay the fine, there is no
legal obstacle to the application of the Revised Penal Code provisions on subsidiary
imprisonment.

While the decisions of the trial court and that of the CA dated March 16, 1998 and June 28,
2000, respectively, were promulgated before SC Administrative Circular No. 12-2000 and its
subsequent clarificatory circular took effect, there is no legal impediment to their application under
the premises, favorable as they are to the accused. What is more, the pleadings before us
contain no indication that petitioner was a habitual delinquent or recidivist, a circumstance
strongly arguing for the application, as we did in Young v. Court of Appeals,
[18]
of the latest stare
decisis towards modifying the penalties imposable herein. In an earlier case likewise on all fours
with this case, the Court held:

However, in view of [SC] Administrative Circular No. 12-2000, as clarified by
Administrative Circular No. 13-2001, establishing a rule of preference in the application of
the penalties provided for in B.P. Blg. 22; and the recommendation of the Solicitor General in
its Comment that the policy laid down in Vaca vs. Court of Appeals,
[19]
and Lim vs.
People,
[20]
of redeeming valuable human material and preventing unnecessary deprivation of
personal liberty and economic usefulness, be considered in favor of petitioner who is not
shown to be a habitual delinquent or a recidivist, we find that the penalty imposed by the
Court of Appeals should be modified by deleting the penalty of imprisonment and imposing
only a fine of xxx.
[21]



WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION that
petitioner Nieves Saguiguit is hereby

1) Sentenced to pay a FINE equivalent to double the amount of the check involved
in each of Criminal Cases Nos. 94-03-226 to 94-03-233 with subsidiary
imprisonment not to exceed six (6) months in each of said cases in the event of
insolvency, pursuant to paragraph 2, Article 39 of the Revised Penal Code; and

2) Indemnify the private complainant with the total amount of the subject checks plus
six percent (6
%
) interest from date of filing of the informations until finality of this
Decision, the amount of which, inclusive the interest, is subject to twelve percent
(12
%
) interest per annum until fully paid.






EN BANC
[G.R. No. 130038. September 18, 2000]
ROSA LIM, petitioner, vs., PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.
D E C I S I O N
PARDO, J .:
The case is an appeal from the decision
[1]
of the Court of Appeals affirming in toto that of the
Regional Trial Court, Cebu City.
[2]
Both courts found petitioner Rosa Lim guilty of twice violating
Batas Pambansa Bilang 22
[3]
and imposing on her two one-year imprisonment for each of the two
violations and ordered her to pay two fines, each amounting to two hundred thousand pesos
(P200,000.00). The trial court also ordered petitioner to return to Maria Antonia Seguan, the
jewelry received or its value with interest, to pay moral damages, attorney's fees and costs.
[4]

We state the relevant facts.
[5]

On August 25, 1990, petitioner called Maria Antonia Seguan by phone. Petitioner thereafter
went to Seguan's store. She bought various kinds of jewelry -- Singaporean necklaces, bracelets
and rings worth P300,000.00. She wrote out a check dated August 25, 1990, payable to "cash"
drawn on Metrobank in the amount of P300,000.00
[6]
and gave the check to Seguan.
On August 26, 1990, petitioner again went to Seguan's store and purchased jewelry valued
at P241,668.00. Petitioner issued another check payable to "cash" dated August 16, 1990 drawn
on Metrobank in the amount of P241,668.00
[7]
and sent the check to Seguan through a certain
Aurelia Nadera.
Seguan deposited the two checks with her bank. The checks were returned with a notice of
dishonor. Petitioner's account in the bank from which the checks were drawn was closed.
Upon demand, petitioner promised to pay Seguan the amounts of the two dishonored
checks. She never did.
On June 5, 1991,
[8]
an Assistant City Prosecutor of Cebu filed with the Regional Trial Court,
Cebu City, Branch 23 two informations against petitioner. Both informations were similarly
worded. The difference is that in Criminal Case No. 22128, the bouncing checks is Metro Bank
Check No. CLN 094244392 dated August 26, 1990 in the amount of P241,668.00. The
informations read:
[9]

Criminal Case No. 22127-
"The undersigned Prosecutor I of the City of Cebu, accuses ROSA LIM for VIOLATION OF
BATAS PAMBANSA BILANG 22 committed as follows:
"That on or about the 20th day of August, 1990, and for sometime subsequent thereto, in the
City of Cebu Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused,
knowing at the time of issue of the check she does not have sufficient funds in the drawee bank
for the payment of such check in full upon its presentment, with deliberate intent, with intent of
gain and of causing damage, did then and there issue, make or draw Metro Bank Check NO. 1
CLN 094244391 dated August 25, 1990 in the amount of P300,000.00 payable to Maria Antonia
Seguan which check was issued in payment of an obligation of said accused, but when the said
check was presented with the bank the same was dishonored for reason "Account Closed" and
despite notice and demands made to redeem or make good said check, said accused failed and
refused, and up to the present time still fails and refuses to do so, to the damage and prejudice of
said Maria Antonia Seguan in the amount of P300,000.00, Philippine Currency.
"CONTRARY TO LAW."
Criminal Case No. 22128-
"The undersigned Prosecutor I of the City of Cebu, accuses ROSA LIM for VIOLATION OF
BATAS PAMBANSA BILANG 22, COMMITTED AS FOLLOWS:
"That on or about the 20th day of August, 1990, and for sometime subsequent thereto, in this
City of Cebu, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused,
knowing at the time of issue of the check she does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the
drawee bank for the payment of such check in full upon its presentment, with deliberate intent,
with intent of gain and of causing damage, did then and there issue, make or draw Metro Bank
Check No. CLN-094244392 dated August 26, 1990 in the amount of P241,668.00 payable to
Maria Antonia Seguan which check was issued in payment of an obligation of said accused, but
when the said check was presented with the bank, the same was dishonored for reason "Account
Closed" and despite notice and demands made to redeem or make good said check, said accused
failed and refused, and up to the present time still fails and refuses to do so, to the damage and
prejudice of said Maria Antonia Seguan in the amount of P241,668.00, Philippine Currency.
"CONTRARY TO LAW.
"Cebu City, Philippines, 30 May 1991."
[10]

Upon arraignment, petitioner pleaded "not guilty" in both cases.
After due trial, on December 29, 1992, the trial court rendered a decision in the two cases
convicting petitioner, to wit:
[11]

"WHEREFORE, prosecution having established the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable
doubt, judgment is hereby rendered convicting the accused, Rosa Lim and sentencing her in
Criminal Case No. CBU-22127, to suffer the penalty of imprisonment for a period of ONE (1)
YEAR and a fine of TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND (P200,000.00) PESOS and in Criminal
Case No. CBO-22128, the same penalty of imprisonment for ONE YEAR and fine of TWO
HUNDRED THOUSAND (P200,000.00) is likewise imposed.
"The accused is hereby ordered to pay private complainant Maria Antonia Seguan, the sum
of P541,668.00 which is the value of the jewelries bought by the accused from the latter with
interest based on the legal rate to be counted from June 5, 1991, the date of the filing of the
informations, or return the subject jewelries; and further to pay private complainant:
"(a) The sum of P50,000.00 as moral damages in compensation for the latter's worries with the
freezing of her business capital involved in these litigated transactions;
"(b) The sum of P10,000.00 for attorney's fees, plus costs.
"SO ORDERED."
[12]

In due time, petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals.
[13]

On October 15, 1996, the Court of Appeals rendered a decision, dismissing the appeal in this
wise:
"WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is DISMISSED. The decision appealed from is
AFFIRMED in toto.
"SO ORDERED."
[14]

Hence, this appeal.
[15]

In this appeal, petitioner argues that she never knew Seguan and much more, had any
"transaction" with her. According to petitioner, she issued the two checks and gave them to Aurelia
Nadera, not to Seguan. She gave the two checks to Aurelia Nadera from whom she got two sets
of jewelry, as a "security arrangement" or "guarantee" that she would return the jewelry received if
she would not be able to sell them.
[16]

The appeal has no merit.
The elements of B.P. Blg. 22 are:
[17]

"(1) The making, drawing and issuance of any check to apply for account or for value;
"(2) The knowledge of the maker, drawer, or issuer that at the time of issue he does not have
sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the payment of such check in full upon its
presentment; and
"(3) The subsequent dishonor of the check by the drawee bank for insufficiency of funds or
credit or dishonor for the same reason had not the drawer, without any valid cause, ordered the
bank to stop payment."
Petitioner never denied issuing the two checks. She argued that the checks were not issued to
Seguan and that they had no pre-existing transaction. The checks were issued to Aurelia Nadera
as mere guarantee and as a security arrangement to cover the value of jewelry she was to sell on
consignment basis.
[18]
These defenses cannot save the day for her. The first and last elements of
the offense are admittedly present. To escape liability, she must prove that the second element
was absent, that is, at the time of issue of the checks, she did not know that her funds in the bank
account were insufficient. She did not prove this.
B.P. No. 22, Section 2 creates a presumption juris tantum that the second element prima
facie exists when the first and third elements of the offense are present.
[19]
If not rebutted, it suffices
to sustain a conviction.
[20]

The gravamen of B.P. No. 22 is the act of making and issuing a worthless check or one that is
dishonored upon its presentment for payment. And the accused failed to satisfy the amount of the
check or make arrangement for its payment within five (5) banking days from notice of
dishonor.
[21]
The act is malum prohibitum, pernicious and inimical to public welfare.
[22]
Laws are
created to achieve a goal intended and to guide and prevent against an evil or mischief.
[23]
Why
and to whom the check was issued is irrelevant in determining culpability. The terms and
conditions surrounding the issuance of the checks are also irrelevant.
[24]

Unlike in estafa,
[25]
under B. P. No. 22, one need not prove that the check was issued in
payment of an obligation, or that there was damage. The damage done is to the banking system.
[26]

In United States v. Go Chico, we ruled that in acts mala prohibita, the only inquiry is, "has the
law been violated?" When dealing with acts mala prohibita
[27]
--
" it is not necessary that the appellant should have acted with criminal intent. In many crimes,
made such by statutory enactment, the intention of the person who commits the crime is entirely
immaterial.This is necessarily so. If it were not, the statute as a deterrent influence would be
substantially worthless. It would be impossible of execution. In many cases, the act complained
of is itself that which produces the pernicious effect the statute seeks to avoid. In those cases the
pernicious effect is produced with precisely the same force and result whether the intention of
the person performing the act is good or bad."
This case is a perfect example of an act mala prohibita. Petitioner issued two checks. They
were dishonored upon presentment for payment due to the fact that the account was
closed.Petitioner failed to rebut the presumption that she knew her funds were insufficient at the
time of issue of the checks. And she failed to pay the amount of the checks or make arrangement
for its payment within five (5) banking days from receipt of notice of dishonor. B.P. No. 22 was
clearly violated. Hoc quidem per quam durum est sed ita lex scripta est. The law may be
exceedingly hard but so the law is written.
However, we resolve to modify the penalty imposed on petitioner. B.P. No. 22 provides a
penalty of "imprisonment of not less than thirty days but not more than one year or a fine of not
less than, but not more than double, the amount of the check which fine shall in no case exceed
two hundred thousand pesos, or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the Court."
[28]

In Vaca v. Court of Appeals,
[29]
we held that in determining the penalty to be imposed for
violation of B.P. No. 22, the philosophy underlying the Indeterminate Sentence Law applies.The
philosophy is to redeem valuable human material, and to prevent unnecessary deprivation of
personal liberty and economic usefulness with due regard to the protection of the social
order. There, we deleted the prison sentence imposed on petitioners. We imposed on them only a
fine double the amount of the check issued. We considered the fact that petitioners brought the
appeal, believing in good faith, that no violation of B.P. No. 22 was committed, "otherwise, they
would have simply accepted the judgment of the trial court and applied for probation to evade
prison term."
[30]
We do the same here. We believe such would best serve the ends of criminal
justice.
Consequently, we delete the prison sentences imposed on petitioner. The two fines imposed
for each violation, each amounting to P200,000.00 are appropriate and sufficient.
The award of moral damages and order to pay attorney's fees are deleted for lack of sufficient
basis.
WHEREFORE, we AFFIRM with modification the decision of the Court of Appeals.
[31]
We find
petitioner Rosa Lim guilty beyond reasonable doubt of two counts of violation of Batas Pambansa
Bilang 22. We SET ASIDE the sentence of imprisonment and hereby sentence her only to pay a
fine of P200,000.00 in each case, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency or non-
payment not to exceed six (6) months.
[32]
We DELETE the award of moral damages and attorney's
fees. The rest of the judgment of the trial court as affirmed by the Court of Appeals shall
stand. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, Pangniban,
Purisima, Buena, Gonzaga-Reyes, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.
Quisumbing, J., In the result.
Ynares-Santiago, J., On leave.




[G.R. No. 102784. February 28, 1996]
ROSA LIM, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, respondents.
SYLLABUS
1. CIVIL LAW; OBLIGATIONS AND CONTRACTS; CONTRACTS ARE OBLIGATORY IN
WHATEVER FORM ENTERED; PLACE OF SIGNATURE IMMATERIAL; PARTY BOUND
THEREON THE MOMENT SHE AFFIXED HER SIGNATURE. - Rosa Lims signature indeed
appears on the upper portion of the receipt immediately below the description of the items
taken. We find that this fact does not have the effect of altering the terms of the transaction
from a contract of agency to sell on commission basis to a contract of sale. Neither does it
indicate absence or vitiation of consent thereto on the part of Rosa Lim which would make the
contract void or voidable. The moment she affixed her signature thereon, petitioner became
bound by all the terms stipulated in the receipt. She, thus, opened herself to all the legal
obligations that may arise from their breach. This is clear from Article 1356 of the New Civil
Code which provides: Contracts shall be obligatory in whatever form they may have been
entered into, provided all the essential requisites for their validity are present. In the case
before us, the parties did not execute a notarial will but a simple contract of agency to sell on
commission basis, thus making the position of petitioners signature thereto immaterial.
2. ID.; ID.; CONTRACT OF AGENCY; NO FORMALITIES REQUIRED. - There are some
provisions of the law which require certain formalities for particular contracts. The first is when
the form is required for the validity of the contract; the second is when it is required to make
the contract effective as against the third parties such as those mentioned in Articles 1357 and
1358; and the third is when the form is required for the purppose of proving the existence of
the contract, such as those provided in the Statute of Frauds in Article 1403. A contract of
agency to sell on commission basis does not belong to any of these three categories, hence, it
is valid and enforceable in whatever form it may be entered into.
3. REMEDIAL LAW; EVIDENCE; WEIGHT THEREOF NOT DETERMINED BY SUPERIORITY
IN NUMBERS OF WITNESSES. - Weight of evidence is not determined mathematically by the
numerical superiority of the witnesses testifying to a given fact. It depends upon its practical
effect in inducing belief on the part of the judge trying the case.
4. ID.; ID.; CREDIBILITY; FINDINGS OF THE TRIAL AND APPELLATE COURTS
GENERALLY NOT INTERFERED WITH ON APPEAL. - In the case at bench, both the trial
court and the Court of Appeals gave weight to the testimony of Vicky Suarez that she did not
authorize Rosa Lim to return the pieces of jewelry to Nadera. We shall not disturb this finding
of the respondent court. It is well settled that we should not interfere with the judgment of the
trial court in determining the credibility of witnesses, unless there appears in the record some
fact or circumstances of weight and influence which has been overlooked or the significance of
which has been misinterpreted. The reason is that the trial court is in a better position to
determine questions involving credibility having heard the witnesses and having observed their
deportment and manner of testifying during the trial.
5. CRIMINAL LAW; ESTAFA WITH ABUSE OF CONFIDENCE; ELEMENTS. - The elements of
estafa with abuse of confidence under this subdivision are as follows: (1) That money, goods,
or other personal property be 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 to the offender (Note: The 4th element is not necessary when there is
evidence of misappropriation of the goods by the defendant).
6. ID.; ID.; ID.; PRESENT IN CASE AT BAR. All the elements of estafa under Article 315,
Paragraph 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code, are present in the case at bench. First, the receipt
marked as Exhibit A proves that petitioner Rosa Lim received the pieces of jewelry in trust
from Vicky Suarez to be sold on commission basis. Second, petitioner misappropriated or
converted the jewelry to her own use; and, third, such misappropriation obviously caused
damaged and prejudice to the private respondent.
APPEARANCES OF COUNSEL
Zosa & Quijano Law Offices for petitioner.
The Solicitor General for respondents.
D E C I S I O N
HERMOSISIMA, JR., J .:
This is a petition to review the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 10290,
entitled People v. Rosa Lim, promulgated on August 30, 1991.
On January 26, 1989, an Information for Estafa was filed against petitioner Rosa Lim before
Branch 92 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City.
[1]
The Information reads:
That on or about the 8th day of October 1987, in Quezon City, Philippines and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused with intent to gain, with unfaithfulness
and/or abuse of confidence, did, then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud one
VICTORIA SUAREZ, in the following manner, to wit: on the date and place aforementioned
said accused got and received in trust from said complainant one (1) ring 3.35 solo worth
P169,000.00, Philippine Currency, with the obligation to sell the same on commission basis and
to turn over the proceeds of the sale to said complainant or to return said jewelry if unsold, but
the said accused once in possession thereof and far from complying with her obligation despite
repeated demands therefor, misapplied, misappropriated and converted the same to her own
personal use and benefit, to the damage and prejudice of the said offended party in the amount
aforementioned and in such other amount as may be awarded under the provisions of the Civil
Code.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
[2]

After arraignment and trial on the merits, the trial court rendered judgment, the dispositive
portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered:
1. Finding accused Rosa Lim GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the offense of estafa as
defined and penalized under Article 315, paragraph 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code;
2. Sentencing her to suffer the Indeterminate penalty of FOUR (4) YEARS and TWO (2)
MONTHS of prision correccional as minimum, to TEN (10) YEARS of prision mayor as
maximum;
3. Ordering her to return to the offended party Mrs. Victoria Suarez the ring or its value in
the amount of P169,000 without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency; and
4. To pay costs.
[3]

On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the Judgment of conviction with the modification that
the penalty imposed shall be six (6) years, eight (8) months and twenty- one (21) days to twenty
(20) years in accordance with Article 315, paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code.
[4]

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration before the appellate court on September 20, 1991,
but the motion was denied in a Resolution dated November 11, 1991.
In her final bid to exonerate herself, petitioner filed the instant petition for review alleging the
following grounds:
I
THE RESPONDENT COURT VIOLATED THE CONSTITUTION, THE RULES OF COURT
AND THE DECISION OF THIS HONORABLE COURT IN NOT PASSING UPON THE
FIRST AND THIRD ASSIGNED ERRORS IN PETITIONERS BRIEF;
II
THE RESPONDENT COURT FAILED TO APPLY THE PRINCIPLE THAT THE PAROL
EVIDENCE RULE WAS WAIVED WHEN THE PRIVATE PROSECUTOR CROSS-
EXAMINED THE PETITIONER AND AURELIA NADERA AND WHEN COMPLAINANT
WAS CROSS-EXAMINED BY THE COUNSEL FOR THE PETITIONER AS TO THE TRUE
NATURE OF THE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE PARTIES WHEREIN IT WAS
DISCLOSED THAT THE TRUE AGREEMENT OF THE PARTIES WAS A SALE OF
JEWELRIES AND NOT WHAT WAS EMBODIED IN THE RECEIPT MARKED AS
EXHIBIT A WHICH WAS RELIED UPON BY THE RESPONDENT COURT IN
AFFIRMING THE JUDGMENT OF CONVICTION AGAINST HEREIN PETITIONER; and
III
THE RESPONDENT COURT FAILED TO APPLY IN THIS CASE THE PRINCIPLE
ENUNCIATED BY THIS HONORABLE COURT TO THE EFFECT THAT ACCUSATION
IS NOT, ACCORDING TO THE FUNDAMENTAL LAW, SYNONYMOUS WITH
GUILT: THE PROSECUTION MUST OVERTHROW THE PRESUMPTION OF
INNOCENCE WITH PROOF OF GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT. TO MEET
THIS STANDARD, THERE IS NEED FOR THE MOST CAREFUL SCRUTINY OF THE
TESTIMONY OF THE STATE, BOTH ORAL AND DOCUMENTARY, INDEPENDENTLY
OF WHATEVER DEFENSE IS OFFERED BY THE ACCUSED. ONLY IF THE JUDGE
BELOW AND THE APPELLATE TRIBUNAL COULD ARRIVE AT A CONCLUSION
THAT THE CRIME HAD BEEN COMMITTED PRECISELY BY THE PERSON ON TRIAL
UNDER SUCH AN EXACTING TEST SHOULD SENTENCE THUS REQUIRED THAT
EVERY INNOCENCE BE DULY TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT. THE PROOF AGAINST HIM
MUST SURVIVE THE TEST OF REASON, THE STRONGEST SUSPICION MUST NOT BE
PERMITTED TO SWAY JUDGMENT. (People v. Austria, 195 SCRA 700)
[5]

Herein the pertinent facts as alleged by the prosecution.
On or about October 8, 1987, petitioner Rosa Lim who had come from Cebu received from
private respondent Victoria Suarez the following two pieces of jewelry: one (1) 3.35 carat diamond
ring worth P169,000.00 and one (1) bracelet worth P170,000.00, to be sold on commission
basis. The agreement was reflected in a receipt marked as Exhibit A
[6]
for the prosecution. The
transaction took place at the Sir Williams Apartelle in Timog Avenue, Quezon City, where Rosa
Lim was temporarily billeted.
On December 15, 1987, petitioner returned the bracelet to Vicky Suarez, but failed to return
the diamond ring or to turn over the proceeds thereof if sold. As a result, private complainant,
aside from making verbal demands, wrote a demand letter
[7]
to petitioner asking for the return of
said ring or the proceeds of the sale thereof. In response, petitioner, thru counsel, wrote a
letter
[8]
to private respondents counsel alleging that Rosa Lim had returned both ring and bracelet
to Vicky Suarez sometime in September, 1987, for which reason, petitioner had no longer any
liability to Mrs. Suarez insofar as the pieces of jewelry were concerned. Irked, Vicky Suarez filed a
complaint for estafa under Article 315, par. 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code for which the
petitioner herein stands convicted.
Petitioner has a different version.
Rosa Lim admitted in court that she arrived in Manila from Cebu sometime in October 1987,
together with one Aurelia Nadera, who introduced petitioner to private respondent, and that they
were lodged at the Williams Apartelle in Timog, Quezon City. Petitioner denied that the
transaction was for her to sell the two pieces of jewelry on commission basis. She told Mrs.
Suarez that she would consider buying the pieces of jewelry for her own use and that she would
inform the private complainant of such decision before she goes back to Cebu. Thereafter, the
petitioner took the pieces of jewelry and told Mrs. Suarez to prepare the necessary paper for me
to sign because I was not yet prepare(d) to buy it.
[9]
After the document was prepared, petitioner
signed it. To prove that she did not agree to the terms of the receipt regarding the sale on
commission basis, petitioner insists that she signed the aforesaid document on the upper portion
thereof and not at the bottom where a space is provided for the signature of the person(s)
receiving the jewelry.
[10]

On October 12, 1987 before departing for Cebu, petitioner called up Mrs. Suarez by telephone
in order to inform her that she was no longer interested in the ring and bracelet. Mrs. Suarez
replied that she was busy at the time and so, she instructed the petitioner to give the pieces of
jewelry to Aurelia Nadera who would in turn give them back to the private complainant. The
petitioner did as she was told and gave the two pieces of jewelry to Nadera as evidenced by a
handwritten receipt, dated October 12, 1987.
[11]

Two issues need to be resolved: First, what was the real transaction between Rosa Lim and
Vicky Suarez - a contract of agency to sell on commission basis as set out in the receipt or a sale
on credit; and, second, was the subject diamond ring returned to Mrs. Suarez through Aurelia
Nadera?
Petitioner maintains that she cannot be liable for estafa since she never received the jewelries
in trust or on commission basis from Vicky Suarez. The real agreement between her and the
private respondent was a sale on credit with Mrs. Suarez as the owner-seller and petitioner as the
buyer, as indicated by the fact that petitioner did not sign on the blank space provided for the
signature of the person receiving the jewelry but at the upper portion thereof immediately below
the description of the items taken.
[12]

The contention is far from meritorious.
The receipt marked as Exhibit A which establishes a contract of agency to sell on
commission basis between Vicky Suarez and Rosa Lim is herein reproduced in order to come to a
proper perspective:
THIS IS TO CERTIFY, that I received from Vicky Suarez PINATUTUNAYAN KO na aking
tinanggap kay _______________ the following jewelries:
ang mga alahas na sumusunod:
Description Price
Mga Uri Halaga
1 ring 3.35 dolo P 169,000.00
1 bracelet 170.000.00
total Kabuuan P 339.000.00
in good condition, to be sold in CASH ONLY within . . .days from date of signing this receipt
na nasa mabuting kalagayan upang ipagbili ng KALIWAAN (ALCONTADO) lamang sa loob
ng. . . araw mula ng ating pagkalagdaan:
if I could not sell, I shall return all the jewelry within the period mentioned above; if I would be
able to sell, I shall immediately deliver and account the whole proceeds of sale thereof to the
owner of the jewelries at his/her residence; my compensation or commission shall be the over-
price on the value of each jewelry quoted above. I am prohibited to sell any jewelry on credit or
by installment; deposit, give for safekeeping; lend, pledge or give as security or guaranty under
any circumstance or manner, any jewelry to other person or persons.
kung hindi ko maipagbili ay isasauli ko ang lahat ng alahas sa loob ng taning na panahong
nakatala sa itaas; kung maipagbili ko naman ay dagli kong isusulit at ibibigay ang buong
pinagbilhan sa may-ari ng mga alahas sa kanyang bahay tahanan; ang aking gantimpala ay ang
mapapahigit na halaga sa nakatakdang halaga sa itaas ng bawat alahas HIND I ko
ipinahihintulutang ipa-u-u-tang o ibibigay na hulugan ang alin mang alahas, ilalagak,
ipagkakatiwala; ipahihiram; isasangla o ipananagot kahit sa anong paraan ang alin mang alahas
sa ibang mga tao o tao.
I sign my name this . . . day of. . . 19 . . . at Manila, NILALAGDAAN ko ang kasunduang ito
ngayong ika____ ng dito sa Maynila.
Signature of Persons who
received jewelries (Lagda
ng Tumanggap ng mga
Alahas)
Address: . . . . . . . . . . .
Rosa Lims signature indeed appears on the upper portion of the receipt immediately below
the description of the items taken. We find that this fact does not have the effect of altering the
terms of the transaction from a contract of agency to sell on commission basis to a contract of
sale. Neither does it indicate absence or vitiation of consent thereto on the part of Rosa Lim which
would make the contract void or voidable. The moment she affixed her signature thereon,
petitioner became bound by all the terms stipulated in the receipt. She, thus, opened herself to all
the legal obligations that may arise from their breach. This is clear from Article 1356 of the New
Civil Code which provides:
Contracts shall be obligatory in whatever form they may have been entered into, provided all
the essential requisites for their validity are present. x x x.
However, there are some provisions of the law which require certain formalities for particular
contracts. The first is when the form is required for the validity of the contract; the second is when
it is required to make the contract effective as against third parties such as those mentioned in
Articles 1357 and 1358; and the third is when the form is required for the purpose of proving the
existence of the contract, such as those provided in the Statute of Frauds in Article 1403.
[13]
A
contract of agency to sell on commission basis does not belong to any of these three categories,
hence it is valid and enforceable in whatever form it may be entered into.
Furthermore, there is only one type of legal instrument where the law strictly prescribes the
location of the signature of the parties thereto. This is in the case of notarial wills found in Article
805 of the Civil Code, to wit:
Every will, other than a holographic will, must be subscribed at the end thereof by the testator
himself x x x.
The testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the instrumental witnesses of
the will, shall also sign, as aforesaid, each and every page thereof, except the last, on the left
margin x x x.
In the case before us, the parties did not execute a notarial will but a simple contract of agency
to sell on commission basis, thus making the position of petitioners signature thereto immaterial.
Petitioner insists, however, that the diamond ring had been returned to Vicky Suarez through
Aurelia Nadera, thus relieving her of any liability. Rosa Lim testified to this effect on direct
examination by her counsel:
Q: And when she left the jewelries with you, what did you do thereafter?
A: On October 12, I was bound for Cebu. So I called up Vicky through telephone and informed
her that I am no longer interested in the bracelet and ring and that 1 will just return it.
Q: And what was the reply of Vicky Suarez?
A: She told me that she could not come to the apartelle since she was very busy. So, she asked
me if Aurelia was there and when I informed her that Aurelia was there, she instructed me to
give the pieces of jewelry to Aurelia who in turn will give it back to Vicky.
Q: And you gave the two (2) pieces of jewelry to Aurelia Nadera?
A: Yes, Your Honor.
[14]

This was supported by Aurelia Nadera in her direct examination by petitioners counsel:
Q: Do you know if Rosa Lim in fact returned the jewelries ?
A: She gave the jewelries to me.
Q: Why did Rosa Lim give the jewelries to you?
A: Rosa Lim called up Vicky Suarez the following morning and told Vicky Suarez that she was
going home to Cebu and asked if she could give the jewelries to me.
Q: And when did Rosa Lim give to you the jewelries?
A: Before she left for Cebu.
[15]

On rebuttal, these testimonies were belied by Vicky Suarez herself:
Q: It has been testified to here also by both Aurelia Nadera and Rosa Lim that you gave
authorization to Rosa Lim to turn over the two (2) pieces of jewelries mentioned in Exhibit A
to Aurelia Nadera, what can you say about that?
A:. That is not true sir, because at that time Aurelia Nadera is highly indebted to me in the
amount of P 140,000.00, so if I gave it to Nadera, I will be exposing myself to a high risk.
[16]

The issue as to the return of the ring boils down to one of credibility. Weight of evidence is not
determined mathematically by the numerical superiority of the witnesses testifying to a given fact.
It depends upon its practical effect in inducing belief on the part of the judge trying the case.
[17]
In
the case at bench, both the trial court and the Court of Appeals gave weight to the testimony of
Vicky Suarez that she did not authorize Rosa Lim to return the pieces of jewelry to Nadera. The
respondent court, in affirming the trial court, said:
x x x This claim (that the ring had been returned to Suarez thru Nadera) is disconcerting. It
contravenes the very terms of Exhibit A. The instruction by the complaining witness to
appellant to deliver the ring to Aurelia Nadera is vehemently denied by the complaining witness,
who declared that she did not authorize and/or instruct appellant to do so. And thus, by
delivering the ring to Aurelia without the express authority and consent of the complaining
witness, appellant assumed the right to dispose of the jewelry as if it were hers, thereby
committing conversion, a clear breach of trust, punishable under Article 315, par. 1(b), Revised
Penal Code.
We shall not disturb this finding of the respondent court. It is well settled that we should not
interfere with the judgment of the trial court in determining the credibility of witnesses, unless there
appears in the record some fact or circumstance of weight and influence which has been
overlooked or the significance of which has been misinterpreted. The reason is that the trial court
is in a better position to determine questions involving credibility having heard the witnesses and
having observed their deportment and manner of testifying during the trial.
[18]

Article 315, par. 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code provides:
ART. 315. Swindling (estafa). - Any person who shall defraud another by any of the means
mentioned hereinbelow shall be punished by:
xxx xxx xxx
(b) By misappropriating or converting, to the prejudice of another, money, goods, or any other
personal property 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, even
though such obligation be totally or partially guaranteed by a bond; or by denying having
received such money, goods, or other property.
xxx xxx xxx
The elements of estafa with abuse of confidence under this subdivision are as follows: (1) That
money, goods, or other personal property be 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 to
the offender (Note: The 4th element is not necessary when there is evidence of misappropriation
of the goods by the defendant).
[19]

All the elements of estafa under Article 315, Paragraph 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code, are
present in the case at bench. First, the receipt marked as Exhibit A proves that petitioner Rosa
Lim received the pieces of jewelry in trust from Vicky Suarez to be sold on commission
basis. Second, petitioner misappropriated or converted the jewelry to her own use; and, third,
such misappropriation obviously caused damage and prejudice to the private respondent.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the Decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby
AFFIRMED.
Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Padilla (Chairman), Bellosillo, and Kapunan, JJ., concur.
Vitug, J., In the results.


G.R. No. L-5930, People v. Aragon, 94
Phil. 357, 50 Off. Gaz. [No. 10] 4863
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
February 17, 1954
G.R. No. L-5930
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
ABELO ARAGON, defendant-appellant.
Amadeo D. Seno for appellant.
Assistant Solicitor General Francisco Carreon and Solicitor Ramon L. Avancea for appellee.
LABRADOR, J .:
The defendant in the above-entitled case is charged in the Court of First Instance of Cebu with
the crime of bigamy, for having contracted a second marriage with one Efigenia C. Palomer on
September 21, 1947, while his previous valid marriage with Martina Godinez was still
subsisting and had not been dissolved. The information is dated May 22, 1951. On October 11,
1951, while the case was pending trial, Efigenia C. Palomer filed a civil action in the same
Court of First Instance of Cebu against the defendant -appellant, alleging that the latter "by
means of force, threats and intimidation of bodily harm, forced plaintiff to marry him", and
praying that their marriage on September 21, 1947 be annulled (Annex A). Thereupon and on
April 30, 1952, defendant-appellant filed a motion in the criminal case for bigamy, praying that
the criminal charge be provisionally dismissed, on the ground that the civil action for annulment
of the second marriage is a prejudicial question. The court denied this motion on the ground that
the validity of the second marriage may be determined in the very criminal action for bigamy.
Against this order this appeal has been presented to this court.
It is contended that as the marriage between the defendant-appellant and Efigenia C. Palomer is
merely a voidable marriage, and not an absolutely valid marriage, it can not be attacked in the
criminal action and, therefore, it may not be considered therein; consequently, that the civil
action to annul the second marriage should first be decided and the criminal action, dismissed. It
is not necessary to pass upon this question because we believe that the order of denial must be
sustained on another ground.
Prejudicial question has been defined to be that which arises in a case, the resolution of which
(question) is a logical antecedent of the issue involved in said case, and the cognizance of which
pertains to another tribunal (Cuestion prejudicial, es la que surge en un pleito o causa, cuya
resolucion sea antecedente logico de la cuestion objeto del pleito o causa y cuyo conocimiento
corresponda a los Tribunales de otro orden o jurisdiccion X Enciclopedia Juridica Espaola,
p. 228). The prejudicial question must be determinative of the case before the court; this is first
element. Jurisdiction to try said question must be lodged in another tribunal; this is the second
element. In an action for bigamy, for example, if the accused claims that the first marriage is
null and void and the right to decide such validity is vested in another tribunal, the civil action
for nullity must first be decided before the action for bigamy can proceed; hence, the validity of
the first marriage is a prejudicial question.
There is no question that if the allegations of the complaint on time the marriage contracted by
defendant-appellant with Efigenia C. Palomer is illegal and void (Sec. 29,Act 3613 otherwise
known as the Marriage Law). Its nullity, however, is no defense to the criminal action for
bigamy filed against him. The supposed use of force and intimidation against the woman,
Palomer, even if it were true, is not a bar or defense to said action. Palomer, were she the one
charged with bigamy, could perhaps raise said force or intimidation as a defense, because she
may not be considered as having freely and voluntarily committed the act if she was forced to
the marriage by intimidation. But not the other party, who used the force or intimidation. The
latter may not use his own malfeasance to defeat the action based on his criminal act.
It follows that the pendency of the civil action for the annulment of the marriage filed by
Efigenia C. Palomer, is absolutely immaterial to the criminal action filed against defendant-
appellant. This civil action does not decide that defendant-appellant did not enter the marriage
against his will and consent, because the complaint does not allege that he was the victim of
force and intimidation in the second marriage; it does not determine the existence of any of the
elements of the charge of bigamy. A decision thereon is not essential to the determination of the
criminal charge. It is, therefore, not a prejudicial question.
There is another reason for dismissing the appeal. The order appealed from is one denying a
motion to dismiss and is not a final judgment. It is, therefore, not appealable (Rule 118, secs. 1
and 2).
The order appealed from is hereby affirmed, with costs against defendant-appellant. So ordered.
Paras, C.J., Pablo, Bengzon, Padilla, Montemayor, Reyes, Jugo, and Bautista Angelo, JJ.,
concur.