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Penalty not composed of 3 periods

G.R. No. 176317 July 23, 2014

MANOLITO GIL Z. ZAFRA, Petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

Facts:

Zafra was the only Revenue Collection Agent of BIR RD 3 in San Fernando, La Union. He received tax
payments were revenue official receipt (ROR) was issued. Original copy of the receipt was given to the
taxpayer while a copy was retained by the revenue officer. Every month, appellant submitted BIR Form
12.31 of the Monthly Report of Collections (MRC) indicating the numbers of the issued RORs, date of
collection, name of taxpayer, the amount collected and the kind of tax paid. An audit team from Head
Office was tasked to audit the cash and non-cash accountabilities of Zafra. Upon reviewing of Certificate
Authorizing Registration (CAR) with PNB’s ROR and MRC with Zafra’s ROR, the MRC has lesser amount
of paid taxes than the CAR. Some RORs in CAR were declared to be paid but when checked to MCR, it
was cancelled. The audit team found 18 RORs as accountability of Zafra, in the amount of
Php614,151.93. Thru a demand letter, Zafra was required to pay the said amount. But the latter ignored
the letter.

BIR then filed 18 cases for malversation of public funds through falsification of public document
against Zafra. Zafra denied the allegations, claiming that he never received tax payments; and that his
subordinates received the payments and issued RORs. Zafra was convicted by RTC of the charges.

1) Criminal Case No. 4634 and sentences him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of 10 years and
1 day of prision mayor as minimum up to 14 years, 8 months and 1 day of reclusion temporal as
maximum; to suffer perpetual special disqualification; and to pay a fine of ₱19,775.00;

2) Criminal Case No. 4635 and sentences him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of 2 years, 4
months and 1 day of prision correccional as minimum up to 6 years and 1 day of prision mayor as
maximum; to suffer perpetual special disqualification; and to pay a fine of ₱4,869.00;

3) Criminal Case No. 4636 and sentences him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of 10 years and
1 day of prision mayor as minimum up to 14 years, 8 months and 1 day of reclusion temporal as
maximum; to suffer perpetual special disqualification; and to pay a fine of ₱13,260.90;

4) Criminal Case No. 4637 and sentences him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of 10 years and
1 day of prision mayor as minimum up to 14 years, 8 months and 1 day of reclusion temporal as
maximum; to suffer perpetual special disqualification; and to pay a fine of ₱17,419.00;

5) Criminal Case No. 4638 and sentences him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of 6 years and
1 day of prision mayor as minimum up to 10 years and 1 day of prision mayor as maximum; to
suffer perpetual special disqualification; and to pay a fine of ₱11,309.20;

6) Criminal Case No. 4639 and sentences him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of 6 years and
1 day of prision mayor as minimum up to 10 years and 1 day of prision mayor as maximum; to
suffer perpetual special disqualification; and to pay a fine of ₱9,736.86;
7) Criminal Case No. 4640 and sentences him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of 10 years and
1 day of prision mayor as minimum up to 17 years, 4 months and 1 day of reclusion temporal as
maximum; to suffer perpetual special disqualification; and to pay a fine of ₱39,050.00;

8) Criminal Case No. 4641 and sentences him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of 10 years and
one 1 day of prision mayor as minimum up to 17 years, 4 months and 1 day of reclusion temporal
as maximum; to suffer perpetual special disqualification; and to pay a fine of ₱38,878.55;

9) Criminal Case No. 4642and sentences him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of 10 years and
one 1 day of prision mayor as minimum up to 17 years, 4 months and 1 day of reclusion temporal
as maximum; to suffer perpetual special disqualification; and to pay a fine of ₱20,286.88;

10) Criminal Case No. 4643 and sentences him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of 10 years
and one 1 day of prision mayor as minimum up to 17 years, 4 months and 1 day of reclusion
temporal as maximum; to suffer perpetual special disqualification; and to pay a fine of
₱42,573.97;

11) Criminal Case No. 4644 and sentences him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of 10 years
and one 1 day of prision mayor as minimum up to 17 years, 4 months and 1 day of reclusion
temporal as maximum; to suffer perpetual special disqualification; and to pay a fine of
₱40,598.40;

12) Criminal Case No. 4645 and sentences him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of 10 years
and one 1 day of prision mayor as minimum up to 17 years, 4 months and 1 day of reclusion
temporal as maximum; to suffer perpetual special disqualification; and to pay a fine of
₱42,140.45;

13) Criminal Case No. 4646 and sentences him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of 10 years
and one 1 day of prision mayor as minimum up to 17 years, 4 months and 1 day of reclusion
temporal as maximum; to suffer perpetual special disqualification; and to pay a fine of
₱47,902.60;

14) Criminal Case No. 4647 and sentences him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of 10 years
and 1 one day of prision mayor as minimum up to 17 years, 4 months and 1 day of reclusion
temporal as maximum; to suffer perpetual special disqualification; and to pay a fine of
₱52,740.66;

15) Criminal Case No. 4648 and sentences him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of 10 years
and one 1 day of prision mayor as minimum up to 17 years, 4 months and 1 day of reclusion
temporal as maximum; to suffer perpetual special disqualification; and to pay a fine ₱75,489.76;

16) Criminal Case No. 4649 and sentences him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of 10 years
and one 1 day of prision mayor as minimum up to 17 years, 4 months and 1 day of reclusion
temporal as maximum; to suffer perpetual special disqualification; and to pay a fine of
₱54,948.47;

17) Criminal Case No. 4650 and sentences him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of 10 years
and one 1 day of prision mayor as minimum up to 17 years, 4 months and 1 day of reclusion
temporal as maximum; to suffer perpetual special disqualification; and to pay fine of ₱45,330.18;

18) Criminal Case No. 4651and sentences him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of 10 years
and one 1 day of prision mayor as minimum up to 17 years, 4 months and 1 day of reclusion
temporal as maximum; to suffer perpetual special disqualification; and to pay a fine of
₱37,842.05;

On appeal, CA affirmed the RTC’s decision. CA held that the audit team’s demand letter to Zafra, which
he failed to rebut, raised a prima facie presumption that he put to his personal use the missing funds.
Moreover, even if it were to subscribe to the petitioner’s insistence that it had been his assistants, not
him, who had collected the taxes and issued the RORs, he was nonetheless liable, because his duty as
an accountable officer had been to strictly supervise his assistants; and that by failing to strictly supervise
them he was responsible for the shortage resulting from the non-remittance of the actual amounts
collected.

Issue:

Whether or not the imposed penalties of RTC is correct.

Held:

No. The Court held that the imposed penalties must be corrected.

To determine the maximum periods of the penalties to be imposed on the petitioner, the rules are: (1) the
penalties provided under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code constitute degrees; and (2) considering
that the penalties provided under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code are not composed of three
periods, the time included in the penalty prescribed should be divided into three equal portions, which
each portion forming one period, pursuant to Article 65 of the Revised Penal Code.

RTC erred in pegging the maximum terms within the minimum periods of the penalties prescribed under
Article 217 of the RPC and by fixing indeterminate sentences on some counts despite the maximum of
the imposable penalties being reclusion perpetua.

The Court held that Indeterminate Sentence Law was applicable, except where the imposable penalty
was reclusion perpetua. Considering that each count was a complex crime without any modifying
circumstances, the maximum term of the penalty for each count is the maximum period, except for the
count dealt with in Criminal Case No. 4635 involving the misappropriated amount of ₱4,869.00, for which
the corresponding penalty for malversation was prision mayor in its minimum and medium periods.
However, because such penalty for malversation was lower than the penalty of prision mayor imposable
on falsification of a public document under Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code, it is the penalty of
prision mayor in its maximum period that was applicable.

Hence, the Court gave the proper penalty to be imposed, as follows:

Amount Indeterminate sentence


misappropriated
Minimum term Maximum term

₱19,775.00 10 years and 1 day of 18 years, 2 months and 21 days


prision mayor of reclusion temporal

₱4,869.00 2 years of prision 10 years and 1 day to 12 years of


correccional prision mayor
29

₱13,260.90 10 years and 1 day prision 18 years, 2 months and 21 days


mayor of reclusion temporal
₱17,419.00 10 years and 1 day prision 18 years, 2 months and 21 days
mayor of reclusion temporal

₱11,390.00 6 years and 1 day of prision 13 years, 1 month and 11 days of


mayor prision mayor

₱9,736.86 6 years and 1 day of prision 13 years, 1 month and 11 days of


mayor prision mayor

₱39,050.00 - Reclusion perpetua

₱38,878.55 - Reclusion perpetua

₱20,286.88 10 years and 1 day prision 18 years, 2 months and 21 days


mayor of reclusion temporal

₱42,573.97 - Reclusion perpetua

₱40,598.40 - Reclusion perpetua

₱42,140.45 - Reclusion perpetua

₱47,902.60 - Reclusion perpetua

₱52,740.66 - Reclusion perpetua

₱75,489.76 - Reclusion perpetua

₱54,984.47 - Reclusion perpetua

₱45,330.18 - Reclusion perpetua

₱37,842.05 - Reclusion perpetua