Falsification of Public Documents

1 G.R. NO. 168437 (LAURINIO GOMA AND
NATALIO UMALE VS. C.A., PEOPLE OF THE
PHIL., MANUEL TORRALBA) JANUARY 8,
2009
Black defines a public document as "a document of public interest issued or published by a
political body or otherwise connected with public business."10 The term is also described as a
document in the execution of which a person in authority or notary public takes part.11
Art. 171(2) of the RPC provides as follows:
ART. 171. Falsification by public officer, employee; or notary or ecclesiastical minister.—The
penalty of prision mayor and a fine not to exceed 5,000 pesos shall be imposed upon any public
officer, employee, or notary who, taking advantage of his official position, shall falsify a
document by committing any of the following acts:
xxxx
(2) Causing it to appear that persons have participated in any act or proceeding when they did
not in fact so participate.
The elements of the crime of falsification of public documents, as above defined and penalized,
are:
1. That the offender is a public officer, employee, or notary public.
2. That he takes advantage of his official position.
3. That he falsifies a document by causing it to appear that persons have participated in any
act or proceeding.
4. That such person or persons did not in fact so participate in the proceeding. 18

Falsification of a public document is consummated upon the execution of the false document.
And criminal intent is presumed upon the execution of the criminal act. Erring public officers’
failure to attain their objectives, if that really be the case, is not determinative of their guilt or
innocence. The simulation of a public document, done in a manner so as to give it the
appearance of a true and genuine instrument, thus, leading others to errors as to its authenticity,
constitutes the crime of falsification.21
In fine, the element of gain or benefit on the part of the offender or prejudice to a third party as a
result of the falsification, or tarnishing of a document’s integrity, is not essential to maintain a
charge for falsification of public documents.22 What is punished in falsification of public

therefore. Lastrilla v. . official or commercial document. Nos. 33-34. In this particular crime. PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. G. In Domingo v. Bermejo v. February 27. who did not take advantage of his official position. February 16. In other words. 2005.) JUNE 26. 486 SCRA 545.M. the crime of falsification has already been consummated. (2) that he committed any of the acts of falsification enumerated in Article 171 of the RPC.R. 101. 481 SCRA 324. 345.document is principally the undermining of the public faith and the destruction of truth as solemnly proclaimed therein.R. 31 SCRA 764. 11 18 2 L. No. 02-8-23-0. Barrios. 133472.23 10 Black’s Law Dictionary 520 (8th ed. When the offender commits on a public. The Revised Penal Code (15th ed. damage or intent to cause damage not being an element of the crime of falsification of public. cited in 6 Herrera. 2006. official. at least.R. L-23614-15. official or commercial document. the two crimes form a complex crime. citing Lumancas v. (3) that the falsification was committed in a public. 23 2 G. or commercial document may be a means of committing estafa. 1982. NO.R. Under Article 48 of the RPC. No. 146217. 21 22 Bustillo v. Article 172 in relation to Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) refers to falsification by a private individual or a public officer or employee. 2006.R. theft or malversation. because before the falsified document is actually utilized to defraud another. private or commercial document. there are two classes of a complex crime. official or commercial document any of the acts of falsification enumerated in Article 171 as a necessary means to commit another crime like estafa. No.B. Reyes. February 22. 179448 (CARLOS TANENGGE VS.. Article 172 of the RPC are: (1) that the offender is a private individual or a public officer or employee who did not take advantage of his official position. Sandiganbayan. Intas. No. Remedial Law 256 (1999). No. G. 2001).R. December 5. 75242. People. 55683. Court of Appeals. G. of public. April 7. Granda. and the existence of any prejudice caused to third persons or. A. 347 SCRA 22. No. the intent to cause such damage becomes immaterial. 551. Baens. January 31. the controlling consideration lies in the public character of a document. 1970. 2000. 5 Phil. 2013 Falsification of documents under paragraph 1.). 160257. Cacnio v. The elements of falsification of documents under paragraph 1. 112 SCRA 97. and Luague v.36 we held: The falsification of a public. Re: Fake Decision Allegedly in G. 742 (1906).33 and. A complex crime may refer to a single act which constitutes two or more grave or less grave felonies or to an offense as a necessary means for committing another. 386. 451 SCRA 357. G.

the crime of falsification has already existed. official or commercial document to defraud another is estafa. Falsification by public officer. Falsification by public officer. or notary or ecclesiastical minister. signature. Accused-appellant was charged with having committed the crime (malversation) through the falsification of a public document punishable under paragraph 2 of Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code. 3. But the damage is caused by the commission of estafa. (c) the funds or property involved are public funds or property for which he is accountable. employee. 3 G.R. the taking by another person of. — The penalty ofprision mayor and a fine not to exceed 5.R. G. employee. 2009. 4.) DECEMBER 7. 186101. 6. Making untruthful statements in a narration of facts. 1994 The essential elements common to all acts of malversation under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code are the following: (a) the offender is a public officer.000 pesos shall be imposed . taking advantage of his official position. Attributing to persons who have participated in an act or proceeding statements other than those in fact made by them. or notary who.000 pesos shall be imposed upon any public officer. Making any alteration or intercalation in a genuine document which changes its meaning. NO. official or commercial document is only a necessary means to commit estafa. SANDIGANBAYAN AND PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. October 12. shall falsify a document by committing any of the following acts: 1. Causing it to appear that persons have participated in any act or proceeding when they did not in fact so participate. 33 ART. 5. the falsification of the public. or through abandonment or negligence permitted.The pertinent provisions read: Art. (b) he has the custody or control of funds or property by reason of the duties of his office. employee or notary or ecclesiastic minister. People. 603 SCRA 488. 171. 505-506. 36 Domingo v. or rubric. No. – The penalty of prision mayor and a fine not to exceed 5. Altering true dates. taken or misappropriated. Actually utilizing that falsified public. Therefore. 107383 (FELIX NIZURTADO VS. not by the falsification of the document. 2. such funds or property. 171. Counterfeiting or imitating any handwriting. or has consented to. and (d) he has appropriated.

11 Under Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code. if the amount involved is more than 12. taking advantage of his official position. which reads: Art. Corral. the signatures appearing thereon need not necessarily be forged. 158694-96 (PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. is accountable for public funds or property. is the essence of falsification. The penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium and maximum periods. the document need not be an authentic official paper since its simulation. vs. shall permit any other person to take such public funds or property. the offender shall be sentenced to suffer perpetual special disqualification and to pay a fine equal to the amount malversed (Art. the penalty shall be reclusion temporalin its maximum period to reclusion perpetua. Revised Penal Code).S. is then the applicable prescribed penalty to be imposed in its maximum period. the penalty for the most serious crime shall be imposed. by reason of the duties of his office. or shall. The penalty of prision mayor and a fine of five thousand pesos is prescribed for the crime of falsification under Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code. So. TEOFILO PANTALEON. – Any public officer who. or shall take or misappropriate or shall consent. Malversation of public funds or property – Presumption of malversation. or notary who. employee. wholly or partially.000 pesos. Causing it to appear that persons have participated in any act or proceeding when they did not in fact so participate. . otherwise. or when an offense is a necessary means for committing the other. also. or through abandonment or negligence. in addition. being more severe than the latter (that imposed for the falsification). 2009 Malversation is defined and penalized under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code. JR. The former (that imposed for the malversation). 383. The penalty prescribed for the offense of malversation of public funds. In falsification under the above-quoted paragraph. shall appropriate the same.R. in fact. If the amount exceeds the latter. is prision mayor in its maximum period to reclusion temporal in its minimum period. when a single act constitutes two or more grave or less grave felonies. when the amount involved exceeds six thousand pesos but does not exceed twelve thousand pesos. AND JAIME VALLEJOS) MARCH 13. Sandiganbayan 151 SCRA 425.upon any public officer. 4 G. 217[3]. shall falsify a document by committing any of the following acts: xxx xxx xxx 2. VS. NOS. 217. be guilty of the misappropriation or malversation of such funds or property. 11 Castillo vs. citing U. 15 Phil. shall suffer: xxxx 4.000 pesos but is less than 22. the same (the penalty) to be applied in the maximum period.

and 3) that he falsifies a document by committing any of the ways it is done. Falsification was a necessary means to commit the crime of malversation Article 171. taking advantage of his official position. 2011 What is punished in falsification of a public document is the violation of the public faith and the destruction of the truth as solemnly proclaimed in it. provides: ART. employee or notary or ecclesiastic minister. persons guilty of malversation shall also suffer the penalty of perpetual special disqualification and a fine equal to the amount of the funds malversed or equal to the total value of the property embezzled. xxx 5.R.In all cases. employee. Altering true dates. upon demand by any duly authorized officer. employee. 19 . GUILLERGAN VS. 16 Generally. Causing it to appear that persons have participated in any act or proceeding when they did not in fact so participate. the elements of falsification of documents under paragraph 1. shall falsify a document by committing any of the following acts: 2. 2) he takes advantage of his official position. 18 and 3) the falsification was committed in a public or official or commercial document. NO. or notary who. 17 On the other hand. xxx Falsification under paragraph 2 is committed when (a) the offender causes it to appear in a document that a person or persons participated in an act or a proceeding.000 pesos shall be imposed upon any public officer. the elements of Article 171 are: 1) the offender is a public officer. or notary public. 171. 5 G. Article 172 are: 1) the offender is a private individual or a public officer or employee who did not take advantage of his official position. The failure of a public officer to have duly forthcoming any public funds or property with which he is chargeable. – The penalty of prision mayor and a fine not to exceed 5. PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. 185493 (ROBERTO K. shall be prima facie evidence that he has put such missing funds or property to personal uses. Falsification by public officer.) FEBRUARY 2. and (b) that such person or persons did not in fact so participate in the act or proceeding. 2) the offender committed any of the acts of falsification enumerated in Article 171. paragraphs (2) and (5) of the Revised Penal Code.

The same penalty shall be imposed upon any ecclesiastical minister who shall commit any of the offenses enumerated in the preceding paragraphs of this article. Attributing to persons who have participated in an act or proceeding statements other than those in fact made by them. — The penalty of prision mayor and a fine not to exceed P5. with respect to any record or document of such character that its falsification may affect the civil status of persons. 160257. Po Giok To. G. registry.R. 785. Granda. or 8. v. employee or notary or ecclesiastic minister. Art. 96 Phil. or different from. 913. Making any alteration or intercalation in a genuine document which changes its meaning. G. 6 G. 2005 The crime of malversation of public funds is defined and penalized as follows: ART.R. or including in such a copy a statement contrary to. 345. by reason .— Presumption of malversation – Any public officer who. citing Lumancas v. 6. ENFERMO) NOVEMBER 30. 918 (1955). signature or rubric. Counterfeiting or imitating any handwriting. January 31. 400 Phil. 7. Issuing in an authenticated form a document purporting to be a copy of an original document when no such original exists. 2. Malversation of public funds or property. 5. 481 SCRA 324. Nos. 148682-85 (PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. 171. People. 579 SCRA 244. Intercalating any instrument or note relative to the issuance thereof in a protocol. Altering true dates. taking advantage of his official position. VS.R. further citing People v. 2006. or official book. or notary who. 3. Making untruthful statements in a narration of facts. 166086-92. February 13. ANGEL A. shall falsify a document by committing any of the following acts: 18 1. 798 (2000). 263. 2009. No. Jr. Causing it to appear that persons have participated in any act or proceeding when they did not in fact so participate. 217. 4. Intas. NO. employee. that of the genuine original.000 pesos shall be imposed upon any public officer. Falsification by public officer.Lastrilla v. 16 17 Regidor.

(b) he has the custody or control of funds or property by reason of the duties of his office. No. 234 SCRA 175.. the taking by another person of. (Estrada v. 202 SCRA 762.368. (c) the funds or property involved are public funds or property for which he is accountable. shall permit any other person to take such public funds or property wholly or partially. or shall otherwise be guilty of the misappropriation or malversation of such funds or property…. taken or misappropriated. one found in possession of and who used a forged document is the forger and therefore guilty of falsification. it goes . the prosecution has only to prove that the accused received public funds or property and that he could not account for them or did not have them in his possession and could not give a reasonable excuse for the disappearance of the same. November 29. Sandiganbayan. G. 125160. 2000. The failure of a public officer to have duly forthcoming any public funds or property with which he is chargeable. Grospe.) It has been held that in the absence of a satisfactory explanation. No. 734. 211 SCRA 285. upon demand by any duly authorized officer. (Maliwat v. People. Sandiganbayan. (Navallo v.of the duties of his office is accountable for public funds or property. or through abandonment or negligence. such funds or property. and (d) he has appropriated. or through abandonment or negligence permitted. See also Felicilda v. CA.. 129064. whether by direct evidence or by the production of facts from which conversion necessarily follows. Jr. June 20. Sandiganbayan. Sandiganbayan. citing People v.R. under the above penal provision are that: (a) the offender is a public officer. or has consented to. . or shall take or misappropriate or shall consent.) Anent the last element. v. (Bugayong v. Villanueva v. shall appropriate the same. essential for the conviction of an accused. (Rueda. The elements of malversation. 2000.R.) An accountable public officer may be convicted of malversation even if there is no direct evidence of misappropriation and the only evidence is that there is a shortage in his accounts which he has not been able to explain satisfactorily. 267 SCRA 358. 256 SCRA 718. G. 185.) Such conversion of public funds must be affirmatively proved. 200 SCRA 722. shall be prima facie evidence that he has put such missing funds or property to personal uses. Pepito. our Supreme Court has ruled that to justify conviction for malversation of public funds.) Since it is obvious that the purported signatures of the payees in the questioned checks were not genuine signatures on the basis of visual comparison alone.

) DECEMBER 8." 8 G. PO GIOK TO) APRIL 30. In Maliwat vs. Making untruthful statements in a narration of facts. provides as follows: ART. employee. REVELO AND CORAZON VILLAMAR VS. PEOPLE OF THE PHIL.000 pesos shall be imposed upon any public officer. 7 G. the conclusion is inevitable that no other person other than appellant could have falsified the payees’ signature. taking advantage of his official position shall falsify a document by committing any of the following acts: xxx xxx xxx 4. 171. NO. appellant was the one in charge of preparation. paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code.R. appellant has committed falsification of public document defined and penalized under Art. Court of Appeals. 1. Falsification by the public officer. the clear presumption is that he is the material author of the falsification. VS. par.without saying that the person who encashed the same and received payment thereof is presumed to be the forger of said signatures. 1955 the law is clear that wrongful intent on the part of the accused to injure a third person is not an essential element of the crime of falsification of public document. employee or notary or ecclesiastic minister. and (iii) that the falsification was committed in a public or official or commercial document. 2010 The elements of the crime of falsification under paragraph 1 of Article 172 are: (i) that the offender is a private individual. (ii) that he committed any of the acts of falsification enumerated in Art. Taken together with the circumstances that as disbursing officer. . Article 172. 171. par.R. 171. taking advantage of it and profiting thereby. "If a person had in his possession a falsified document and he made use of it. or notary who. in connection with Art. under which provision the accused is charged. Being a public officer who had taken advantage of his official posisiton and falsified the signature of the payees of the questioned checks. NO. — The penalty ofprision mayor and a fine not to exceed 5. of the Revised Penal Code. one found in possession of and who used a forged document is the forger and therefore guilty of falsification. L-7236 (PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. 178652 (SPS. encashment and delivery of checks issued by the NRCP. the Supreme Court held that in the absence of satisfactory explanation. 171. encashed the questioned checks and misappropriated the proceeds thereof. 4.

it is unnecessary that there be present the idea of gain or the intent to injure a third person. 172. the principal thing punished is the violation of the public faith and the destruction of the truth as therein solemnly proclaimed. 1885. Vol. Revised Penal Code. II. on the Revised Penal Code. .e. Guevara. Albert. and secondly of private documents. the first is committed by the mere performance of any of the acts of falsification enumerated in Art. 1948 Ed. but it must likewise be shown that such act of falsification was committed to the damage of a third party or with intent to cause such damage. IV Ed. while the second is committed not only by the performance of any of the acts of falsification enumerated in Art. that in the falsification of public or official documents. 171. (Francisco. Any person who. Comm. Pacana. to the damage of a third party. par 2. Revised Penal Code. first. provides: 2. shall in any private document commit any of the acts of falsification enumerated in the next preceeding article. cited by this Court in the case of People vs. whether by public officials or by private persons. Our own commentators on the Revised Penal Code are also agreed on this distinction. Falsification by private individuals and use of falsified documents. Any private individual who shall commit any of the falsifications enumerated in the next preceding article in any other kind of commercial document. 301.000 pesos shall be imposed upon: xxx xxx xxx 1.. p. Art. defining the crime falsification of private document. for the reason that. p. On the other hand.ART. 172. in contradiction to private documents. 171. 48. is clear. ed. of public documents.. i. 398).. or with intent to cause such damage. 172. P..) Sec. — The penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods and a fine of not more than 5. The distinction made by the law between falsification by private persons. Part 1. The reason for the distinction is given in a decision of the Supreme Court of Spain dated December 23. 47 Phil.

. the same offense of malversation is involved and conviction thereof is proper. Even if the mode charged differs from the mode proved. 27 9 Records.) OCTOBER 6. but a distinct crime in our Penal Code.R. instead ofmalversation thru falsification of a public document. 1995 The trial court ruled that the crime committed was estafa thru falsification of public document. et al. it may however be . malversation." 9 The courts below correctly convicted petitioner of estafa thru falsification of public documents instead ofmalversation thru falsification of public documents. That no such prejudice was occasioned on petitioner nor was he beleaguered in his defense is apparent from the records of this case. 13 SCRA 366. NO. Estafa is included as a less serious offense than. p. AND PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. designated as a quasi offense in our Penal Code.R. 27 Delfin v. A possible exception would be when the mode of commission alleged in the particulars of the indictment is so far removed from the ultimate categorization of the crime that it may be said due process was denied by deluding the accused into an erroneous comprehension of the charge against him. No. In Samson vs. as we held in Quizon vs. July 28. 1955. C. the crime for which he was charged in the information. 37. NO.R. and cognate to. thus: While a criminal negligent act is not a simple modality of a willfull crime.) MAY 14. 1991 Malversation is committed either intentionally or by negligence.A. 93885 (FELIX H.9 G. CABELLO VS.Justice of the Peace of Bacolor. 76490 (ISAGANI SABINIANO VS. 15 we held that an accused charged with willful or intentional falsification can validly be convicted of falsification through negligence. because "misappropriation of funds for which a public official is not accountable constitutes estafa rather than malversation. Court of Appeals. Court of Appeals. 369 10 G. SANDUGANBAYAN AND PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. The dolo or the culpa present in the offense is only a modality in the perpetration of the felony. L-6641. G.

Rule 116. it being sufficient that some of said essential elements or ingredients thereof be established to constitute the crime proved. 16 that the aforestated rationale and arguments also apply to the felony of malversation. 15 103 Phil. Appellant was charged with willful falsification but from the evidence submitted by the parties. it would be incongruous to allege at the same time that it was committed with imprudence for a charge of criminal intent is incompatible with the concept of negligence. 16 122 Phil. can be validly convicted of the same offense of malversation through negligence where the evidence sustains the latter mode of perpetrating the offense. This is a case covered by the rule when there is a variance between the allegation and proof. and is similar to some of the cases decided by tills Tribunal. The fact that the information does not allege that the falsification was committed with imprudence is of no moment for here this deficiency appears supplied by the evidence submitted by appellant himself and the result has proven beneficial to Mm. having alleged that the falsification has been willful. . upon the theory that the greater includes the lesser offense. Subsequently. that is. we ruled in People vs. in an information containing allegations similar to those involved in the present case. et al. This is the situation that obtains in the present case. Certainly. 277 (1958). appellant did not act with criminal intent but merely failed to take proper and adequate means to assure himself of the identity of the real claimants as an ordinary prudent man would do. that an accused charged with willful malversation.said that a conviction for the former can be had under an information exclusively charging the commission of a willful offense. the Court of Appeals found that in effecting the falsification which made possible the cashing of the checks in question. the information alleges acts which charge willful falsification but which turned out to be not willful but negligent. . In other words. Consigna. 293 (1965). xxx xxx xxx Moreover. of the Rules of Court does not require that all the essential elements of the offense charged in the information be proved. Section 5. .