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THIRDDIVISION

CYNTHIALUCES,
G.R.No.150900
Petitioner,

Present:

YNARESSANTIAGO,J.,
versus
Chairperson,

AUSTRIAMARTINEZ,

CHICONAZARIO,

CHERRYDAMOLE,HON.RAMONG. NACHURA,and
REYES,JJ.
CODILLA,JR.,PresidingJudge,

RegionalTrialCourt,Branch19,Cebu
CityandCOURTOFAPPEALS,FIFTH Promulgated:

DIVISION,METROMANILA,
March14,2008
Respondents.

xx

DECISION

NACHURA,J.:

ThisisapetitionforreviewoncertiorariunderRule45oftheRulesofCourtofthe
[1]
[2]
Decision oftheCourtofAppeals(CA)datedAugust30,2001anditsResolution dated
November20,2001,inCAG.R.CRNo.23412.

In July 1993, petitioner Cynthia Luces approached private complainant Cherry


DamoleatthelattersplaceofworkattheRobinsonsDepartmentStore,locatedalongFuente
Osmea, Cebu City, and asked for Purchase Order (PO) Cards to be sold by her on
[3]
commissionbasis.Theyagreed thatpetitionerwouldsellthePOcardstohercustomers
[4]
and that she would get her commission therefrom in the form of marked up prices.
Petitioner further agreed that she would hold the PO cards as trustee of the private
complainant with the obligation to remit the proceeds of the sale thereof less the
[5]
commission,andbeforesuchremittance,toholdthesameintrustforthelatter. Lastly,
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[6]
petitionerundertooktoreturntheunsoldPOcards.

As of September, 1993, petitioner received from the private complainant 870 PO


cards with a total face value of P412,305.00. Initially, petitioner complied with her
obligations,butlatershedefaultedinremittingtheproceeds.Hence, the demand made by
theprivatecomplainant,throughherlawyer,onthepetitioner,butthesamewasunheeded.

Privatecomplainantthereafterinstitutedacivilcaseforcollectionofsumofmoney.
[7]
She, likewise, filed a separate criminal complaint. Petitioner was thus charged with
EstafainanInformationdatedMarch3,1995,theaccusatoryportionofwhichreads:

ThatsometimeinthemonthofJuly,1993,andforsometimesubsequentthereto,in
theCityofCebu,Philippines,andwithinthejurisdictionofthisHonorableCourt,thesaid
accused, having received Purchase Order (PO) slips worth P412,305.00 from Cherry
Damole,withtheagreementthatsheshouldselloutthesaidPOslipsforandinbehalfof
CherryDamole,withtheobligationonherparttoimmediatelyaccountforandturnoverthe
proceedsofthesale,ifsaidPOslipsaresold,ortoreturnthesametoCherryDamole,ifshe
wouldnotbeabletodisposeanyorallofthemwithintheagreeddate,thesaidaccused,once
inpossessionofsaidPOslips,farfromcomplyingwithherobligation,withdeliberateintent,
with intent of gain, with unfaithfulness and grave abuse of confidence and of defrauding
Cherry Damole, did then and there misappropriate, misapply and convert into her own
personal use and benefit the said PO slips, or the amount of P412,305.00, which is the
equivalentvaluethereof,andinspiteofrepeateddemandsmadeuponherbyCherryDamole
tolethercomplywithherobligation,shehasfailedandrefusedanduptothepresenttime
stillfailsandrefusestodoso,tothedamageandprejudiceofCherryDamoleintheamount
ofP412,305.00,PhilippineCurrency.

[8]
CONTRARYTOLAW.

TheInformationwasfiledwiththeRegionalTrialCourt(RTC)andwasraffledtoBranch
19,CebuCity.ItwasdocketedasCriminalCaseNo.CBU38420.

On April 27, 1995, petitioner moved for the dismissal of the criminal case and/or
suspensionoftheproceedingsinviewofthependencyofthecivilcaseforcollectionfiled
[9]
earlierbytheprivatecomplainant. Shecontendedthattheresolutionofthecivilcaseis
determinative of her culpability in the criminal case. The RTC initially suspended the

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[10]
case
but on motion for reconsideration, the court reversed itself and held that the
[11]
outcomeofthecivilcasewouldnot,inanyway,affectthecriminalaction.
The court,
thus,setthecaseforarraignmentwherethepetitionerpleadednotguilty.

Duringtrial,theprosecutionestablishedtheexistenceofthetrustreceiptagreements
the receipt by petitioner of the subject PO cards and her failure to comply with her
obligation to remit the proceeds of the sale and to return the unsold cards to the private
complainant.TheprosecutionlikewiseprovedthatpetitionerconvertedthePOcardstoher
personalusebyusingsuchcardsherselfandbylettingthemembersofherfamilyusethem,
[12]
contrarytotheiragreement.
Byreasonofsuchconversionandmisappropriation,private
complainantsuffereddamage.

Indefense,petitionerclaimedthatherliabilitytoprivatecomplainantispurelycivil,
consideringthatthetrustreceiptagreementswereinfactcontractsofsalewhichtransferred
to petitioner the ownership of the questioned PO cards, and that, therefore, there was no
misappropriation to speak of. Petitioner, likewise, testified that she was authorized to sell
thePOcardsoninstallmentwhichshedidbysellingthemtoacertainEvelynTamarawho,
however, failed to pay. Petitioner further claimed that no damage was ever caused to the
privatecomplainantasshecontinuouslypaidmonthlyamortizations.Shealsoinsistedthat
thecivilcasefiledagainstherbythesamecomplainantisaprejudicialquestionhence,the
[13]
criminalcaseshouldhavebeendismissed.

OnAugust25,1997,theRTCrenderedaDecisionconvictingpetitionerofthecrime
[14]
ofestafa.
On appeal, the CA affirmed petitioners conviction, but modified the penalty
imposedbythelowercourt.Theappellatecourtfoundthatalltheelementsofestafa,with
abuseofconfidencethroughmisappropriation,wereestablished,andstressedthatthecivil
caseforcollectionofsumofmoneywouldnot,inanyway,bedeterminativeoftheguiltor
[15]
innocence of petitioner.
The CA, however, imposed the indeterminate penalty of four
(4)yearsandtwo(2)monthsofprisioncorreccional,asminimum,totwenty(20)yearsof
[16]
reclusiontemporal,asmaximum,insteadofthatimposedbytheRTC.
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Hence,theinstantpetitionraisingthefollowingissues:

I.

RESPONDENTCOURTOFAPPEALSDECIDEDAQUESTIONOFSUBSTANCENOT
HERETOFORE DETERMINED BY THIS HONORABLE SUPREME COURT, OR HAS
DECIDEDITINAWAYPROBABLYNOTINACCORDWITHLAWORWITHTHE
APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF THIS HONORABLE SUPREME COURT AND THE
CONCLUSIONS ARE FOUNDED ON MERE SPECULATION, SURMISE AND
CONJECTURE.

II.

RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN AFFIRMING WITH


MODIFICATIONTHEDECISIONOFTHEHONORABLEREGIONALTRIALCOURT
AND DENYING DUE COURSE THE PETITIONERS MOTION FOR
RECONSIDERATIONOFTHEJUDGMENT.

III.

RESPONDENTCOURTOFAPPEALSGRAVELYERREDINNOTGIVINGWEIGHT
THEISSUEOFPREJUDICIALQUESTIONRAISEDBYPETITIONER.

IV.

RESPONDENTCOURTOFAPPEALSGRAVELYERREDINNOTGIVINGWEIGHT
THEPOSITIVEASSERTIONOFTHEPETITIONERTHATSHEISNOTCRIMINALLY
[17]
LIABLEBUTONLYCIVIL.

Thepetitionlacksmerit.
Also known as swindling, estafa is committed by any person who shall defraud
[18]
another by any of the means mentioned in the Revised Penal Code (RPC).
Petitioner
wastriedandconvictedforviolationofArticle315(1)(b)whichstatesthat,amongothers,
fraud may be committed with unfaithfulness or abuse of confidence in the following
manner:

(b)Bymisappropriatingorconverting,totheprejudiceofanother,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
returnthesame,eventhoughsuchobligationbetotallyorpartiallyguaranteedbyabondor
[19]
bydenyinghavingreceivedsuchmoney,goods,orotherproperty.

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Specifically,theelementsofestafathroughmisappropriationorconversionare:1)thatthe
money, goods or other personal property is received by the offender in trust, or on
commission, or for administration, or under any other obligation involving the duty to
deliverorreturnthesame2)thattherebemisappropriationorconversionofsuchmoneyor
propertybytheoffenderordenialonhispartofsuchreceipt3)thatsuchmisappropriation
orconversionordenialistotheprejudiceofanotherand4)thatthereisademandmadeby
[20]
theoffendedpartyontheoffender.
Intheinstantcase,itwasestablishedthatpetitionerreceivedfromtheprivatecomplainant
thesubjectPOcardstobesoldbytheformeroncommission,asevidencedbytheirTrust
[21]
ReceiptAgreements(TRAs).
TheAgreementscontainidenticaltermsandconditionsas
follows:

2. That the TRUSTEE intends to give P.O. to different cardholders and received (sic)
commission in a form of markup price but TRUSTEE assumes the responsibility of
payingtheamountdueincludingpenalty,ifany,onduedates

3.ThattheTRUSTEEholdsP.O.instorageasthepropertyofTRUSTOR,withtherightto
sellthesameforeachforTRUSTORSaccountandtohandtheproceedsthereoftothe
trustorlessthecommissionmentionedabove

4.ThatTRUSTEEagreesthatbeforeremittancetoTRUSTOR,she/heshallholdthesumin
trustfortheTRUSTOR

5. That the TRUSTEE is aware that her failure to remit the proceeds or return the P.O.
when demanded by the TRUSTOR give rise to CRIMINAL LIABILITY and CIVIL
[22]
LIABILITY.

Bysuchtermsandconditions,petitioneragreedtoholdintrustthefollowing:thePOcards,
forthepurposeofsellingthemtodifferentcardholdersandreturningtoprivatecomplainant
the cards unsold and the proceeds of the sale, if any, for remittance to the private
complainant.
Andso,weaskthequestions:WerethePOcardsdisposedofinaccordancewiththeir
agreements?Ifso,didpetitionerremittheproceedstotheprivatecomplainant?

The evidence shows that petitioner sold most of the PO cards to Ms. Tamara. The
transaction was testified to by petitioner confirmed by Ms. Tamara and was, in fact,
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[23]
admitted by the private complainant during crossexamination.
Private complainant
clearlystatedinopencourtthatshewasawareofthesaleofthePOcardstoMs.Tamara,
[24]
andthatshepersonallyreceivedpaymentmadebythelatterthroughthepetitioner.

To repeat, the PO cards were entrusted to petitioner for the purpose of selling them to
cardholders.Petitionerwasatlibertytosellthemeitherincashoroninstallment.Infact,the
privatecomplainantagreedthattheproceedsofthesalemaybeturnedovertoherinfour
installments. When she sold the cards to Ms. Tamara, petitioner did so pursuant to their
TRA. It appears, however, that the proceeds of that sale could not be turned over to the
privatecomplainant,becauseMs.TamarafailedtopaythepurchasepriceofthesubjectPO
cards. Technically, then, there was no conversion since the PO cards sold to Ms. Tamara
werenotdevotedtoapurposeorusedifferentfromthatagreedupon.

This notwithstanding, petitioner is not free from criminal liability. As to the PO cards
covered by Trust Receipt No. 4103 with a face value of P33,600.00, the prosecution
sufficiently established that they were used by petitioner herself and her relatives as
[25]
evidenced by the copies of the PO cards they actually used bearing their names.
Althoughtherewasnoprohibitionforpetitionertouseorforherrelativestopurchasethe
PO cards, they should have paid the corresponding price, and petitioner should have
remittedtheproceedstotheprivatecomplainant.Therebeingnoadequateexplanationwhy
shepersonallyusedandallowedherrelativestousethecards,thereisamplecircumstantial
evidenceofestafa.UsingthePOcardsasownerisconversion.Accordingly,weagreewith
theCAsratiocinationinthiswise:

Thus, using or disposing by LUCES for her and her relatives own personal purpose and
benefit of the said P.O. cards, constitutes breach of trust, unfaithfulness and abuse of
confidence. The failure of LUCES to account for them establishes the felony of estafa
[26]
throughabuseofconfidencebymisappropriationorconversion.

The essence of estafa under Article 315, par. 1(b) is the appropriation or conversion of
money or property received, to the prejudice of the owner. The words convert and
misappropriateconnoteanactofusingordisposingofanotherspropertyasifitwereones
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own, or of devoting it to a purpose or use different from that agreed upon. To


misappropriateforonesownuseincludesnotonlyconversiontoonespersonaladvantage,
[27]
butalsoeveryattempttodisposeofthepropertyofanotherwithoutaright.

Theprosecutionfurthershowedthatthemisappropriationorconversionbypetitionercaused
prejudice to private complainant. Damage as an element of estafa may consist in 1) the
offendedpartybeingdeprivedofhismoneyorpropertyasaresultofthedefraudation2)
[28]
disturbanceinpropertyrightor3)temporaryprejudice.
Underthegivencircumstances,
itisbeyondcavilthatprivatecomplainantwasdeprivedofherrighttoenjoytheproceedsof
thesaleasaresultofpetitionersunauthorizeduseofthePOcards.

Asregardstheappropriatepenalty,theRPCprovides:

Art. 315. Swindling (Estafa). Any person who shall defraud another by any of the means
mentionedhereinbelowshallbepunishedby:

1st. The penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its
minimumperiod,iftheamountofthefraudisover12,000pesosbutdoesnotexceed22,000
pesos and if such amount exceeds the latter sum, the penalty provided in this paragraph
shallbeimposedinitsmaximumperiod,addingoneyearforeachadditional10,000pesos
butthetotalpenaltywhichmaybeimposedshallnotexceedtwentyyears.Insuchcases,and
inconnectionwiththeaccessorypenaltieswhichmaybeimposedandforthepurposeofthe
other provisions of this Code, the penalty shall be termed prision mayor or reclusion
temporal,asthecasemaybe.

[29]
UndertheIndeterminateSentenceLaw,
themaximumtermofthepenaltyshallbethat
whichinviewoftheattendingcircumstances,couldbeproperlyimposedundertheRPCand
theminimumshallbewithintherangeofthepenaltynextlowertothatprescribedforthe
[30]
offense.

TherangeofthepenaltyprovidedforinArticle315iscomposedofonlytwoperiodsthus,
togetthemaximumperiodoftheindeterminatesentence,thetotalnumberofyearsincluded
inthetwoperiodsshouldbedividedintothree.Article65oftheRPCrequiresthedivision
ofthetimeincludedintheprescribedpenaltyintothreeequalperiodsoftime,formingone
periodforeachofthethreeportions.Theminimum,mediumandmaximumperiodsofthe
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prescribedpenaltyaretherefore:

Minimumperiod4years,2monthsand1dayto5years,5monthsand10days

Mediumperiod5years,5monthsand11daysto6years,8monthsand20days

[31]
Maximumperiod6years,8monthsand21daysto8years.

The amount defrauded is in excess of P22,000.00 the penalty imposable should be the
maximum period of six (6) years, eight (8) months and twentyone (21) days to eight (8)
yearsofprisionmayor.However,Article315alsoprovidesthatanadditionaloneyearshall
be imposed for each additional P10,000.00. Here, the total amount of the fraud is
P33,600.00(P33,600.00P22,000.00=P11,600.00).Thus,whilewearedisposedtoimpose
six(6)years,eight(8)monthsandtwentyone(21)daysofthemaximumperiodprovided
bytheRPC,anadditionalpenaltyofoneyearshouldlikewisebeimposed.Accordingly,we
holdthatthemaximumtermoftheindeterminatesentenceshallbeseven(7)years,eight(8)
monthsandtwentyone(21)daysofprisionmayor.

Theminimumperiodoftheindeterminatesentence,ontheotherhand,shouldbewithinthe
rangeofthepenaltynextlowertothatprescribedbytheRPCforthecrimecommitted.The
penalty next lower than prision correccional maximum to prision mayor minimum is
prisioncorreccionalinitsminimumandmediumperiods.Thus,theminimumtermofthe
indeterminatesentenceshallbetwo(2)years,eleven(11)monthsandeleven(11)days.
Lastly,astowhetherthecivilcasefiledbytheprivatecomplainantisaprejudicialquestion,
wenotewithapprovaltheappellatecourtsconclusion,thus:

ItisclearfromthequestionedcivilcasethatthecivilliabilityofLUCEStoDAMOLEwas
foundedontheformersfailureorrefusaltoremittothelattertheproceedsarisingfromthe
sales of P.O. cards.In contrast, in the instant criminal case, the court aquo was tasked to
determinewhetherornotthenonremittanceoftheproceedsofthesaleofP.O.cardsorthe
returnthereofbyLUCEStoDAMOLE,wasduetomisappropriationorconversion.Stated
simply,theissueinthecivil(MAN2031)isDAMOLEsrighttorecoverfromLUCESthe
amountrepresentingthevalueoftheP.O.cardsallegedlyembezzledbythelatter.Whilethe
issueinthecriminalcaseiswhetherLUCESfailuretoaccountfortheproceedsofthesaleof
P.O. cards and/or to return the unsold P.O. cards as DAMOLEs trustee constitutes estafa
under Article 315 par. 1 (b) of the Revised Penal Code.A finding in the civil case for or
against the appellant is not juris et de jure determinative of her innocence or guilt in the
[32]
estafacase.

WHEREFORE,premisesconsidered,thepetitionisherebyDENIED.TheDecision
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of the Court of Appeals, dated August 30, 2001, and its Resolution dated November 20,
2001, in CAG.R. CR No. 23412, are AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Petitioner
CynthiaLucesissentencedtosuffertheindeterminatepenaltyoftwo(2)years,eleven(11)
monthsandeleven(11)daysofprisioncorreccional,asminimum,toseven(7)years,eight
(8)monthsandtwentyone(21)daysofprisionmayor,asmaximum.

SOORDERED.

WECONCUR:

ANTONIOEDUARDOB.NACHURA
AssociateJustice

CONSUELOYNARESSANTIAGO
AssociateJustice
Chairperson

MA.ALICIAAUSTRIAMARTINEZ
MINITAV.CHICONAZARIO
AssociateJustice
AssociateJustice

RUBENT.REYES
AssociateJustice

ATTESTATION

IattestthattheconclusionsintheaboveDecisionwerereachedinconsultationbeforethe
casewasassignedtothewriteroftheopinionoftheCourtsDivision.

CONSUELOYNARESSANTIAGO
AssociateJustice
Chairperson,ThirdDivision

CERTIFICATION

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Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division Chairperson's
Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in
consultationbeforethecasewasassignedtothewriteroftheopinionoftheCourtsDivision.

REYNATOS.PUNO
ChiefJustice
[1]
Penned by Associate Justice Bienvenido L. Reyes, with Associate Justices Eubulo G. Verzola and Marina L. Buzon,
concurringrollo,pp.4860.
[2]
Id.at6263.
[3]
PetitionersandprivatecomplainantsagreementswereembodiedinaninstrumentdenominatedasTrustReceiptAgreement
records,pp.1117.
[4]
Rollo,p.50.
[5]
Records,pp.1117.
[6]
Rollo,p.50.
[7]
ThecasewasdocketedasCivilCaseNo.MAN2031records,pp.302305.
[8]
Records,pp.12.
[9]
Id.at7072.
[10]
EmbodiedinanOrderdatedApril28,1995id.at80.
[11]
Records,p.118.

[12]
TSN,September5,1996,pp.59.
[13]
Rollo,p.51.
[14]
ThedispositiveportionoftheRTCdecisionreads:
WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, the court finds the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
crime of estafa as defined and penalized under Article 515, paragraph 1, and hereby sentences the accused to suffer an
imprisonmentof5years,4monthsand21daysofprisioncorreccional,maximum,asminimum,to12yearsofprisionmayor,as
maximum,applyingtheIndeterminateSentenceLaw.Withalltheaccessorypenaltiesprovidedbylaw.
SOORDERED.(Records,p.280.)
[15]
Rollo,p.58.
[16]
Id.at59.
[17]
Id.at15.
[18]
Tanv.People,G.R.No.153460,January29,2007,513SCRA194,202.
[19]
REVISEDPENALCODE,Art.315(1)(b).
[20]
Asejov.People,G.R.No.157433,July24,2007,528SCRA114,120121Isipv.People,G.R.No.170298,June26,2007,
525SCRA735,757758Tanv.People,supranote18,at202203Seronav.CourtofAppeals,440Phil.508,517(2002).
[21]
Exhs.A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,J,K,L,M,N,records,pp.1120.
[22]
TRANos.4111,4103,4131,4128,4161,4144,4180,4177,4188,4182,4956,4952,4963and4969id.at1126.
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[23]
TSN,July22,1996,pp.35.
[24]
Thetestimonyoftheprivatecomplainantreads:
ATTY.NODADO
Andbecauseofherfailuretoremitsomeamountthatshecollectedfromhercustomer,youfiledacaseforcollectionofsumof
moneybeforethecourtinMandaueCity,Branch28,amIcorrect?
WITNESS
Yes,sir.
ATTY.NODADO
Andinthatcasethedefendantalsofailed(sic)athirdpartycomplaintagainstacertainEvelynTabara(sic),areyouawareof
that?
WITNESS
Yes,Iamawareofthat.
ATTY.NODADO
AndinfactaftershefiledacaseforcollectionofsumofmoneyfromthirdpartydefendantTabara(sic)inthesumofP1,600.00
onJuly1993,amIright?
WITNESS
Yes,IwasabletocollectfromTamarabutthroughCynthiaLuces.(TSN,July22,1996,pp.35.)
[25]
Specifically,thePOcardsborethenamesofpetitionerCynthiaLuces,GeraldineRosel,andCristitutoRosel.

[26]
Rollo,p.56.
[27]
Tanv.People,supranote18,at204Leev.People,G.R.No.157781,April11,2005,455SCRA256,267Seronav.Court
ofAppeals,supranote20,at42.
[28]
Tanv.People,supranote18,at205.
[29]
ActNo.4103asamendedbyActNo.4225.
[30]
Pucayv.People,G.R.No.167084,October31,2006,506SCRA411,424Bonifaciov.People,G.R.No.153198,July11,
2006,494SCRA527,532533.
[31]
Pucayv.People,id.at424425Bonifaciov.People,id.at533.
[32]
Rollo,p.58.

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