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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.

DECISION
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.