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PEOPLE v.

FELIX MANANSALA +

[ GR No. L-13142, Jan 30, 1959]

DOCTRINE

xxx "the only person who could have made the erasures and the super impositions
mentioned is the one who will be benefited by the alterations thus made" and that "he
alone could have the motive for making such alterations."

It is an established rule that when a person has in his possession a falsified document
and makes use of the same, the presumption or inference is justified that such person
is the forger. (See U. S. vs. Viloria, 1 Phil. 682; People The circumstances, therefore,
that accused made use of and benefited from the falsified TVR is a strong evidence
that he either himself falsified it or caused the same to be falsified (U. S. vs. Castillo,
6 Phil. 449), he being criminally responsible in either case.

xxx Appellant's exclusive possession, opportunity and motive to falsify the TVR in
question constitute circumstantial evidence justifying the inference (sometimes
loosely referred to as a presumption of fact) that the forger was appellant herein, in the
absence of adequate explanation. xxx

ESTAFA (Presumptive Author)

Estafa through Falsification of Commercial Documents

RICHARD CHUA vs People of the Philippines G.R. No. 183132 February


8, 2012

However, since he benefited from the fictitious transactions in


question, the inevitable conclusion is that he falsified them. It is an
established rule that when it is proved that a person has in his
possession a falsified document and makes use of the same, the
presumption or inference is justified that such person is the forger.

Falsification of Public Document

SPOUSES REVELO VILLAMAR and CORAZON PENULIAR-


VILLAMAR vs PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES G.R. No. 178652
December 8, 2010

It is well-settled in this jurisdiction that the person who stood to benefit


by the falsification of a public document and was in possession of it is
presumed to be the material author of the falsification.

Falsification of Public Document

NORMALLAH A. PACASUM vs PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES


G.R. No. 180314 April 16, 2009 citing (U.S. v. Castillo, 6 Phil. 453; People
v. De Lara, 45 Phil. 754; People v. Domingo, 49 Phil. 28; People v.
Astudillo, 60 Phil. 338; People v. Manansala, 105 Phil. 1253).

The rule is that if a person had in his possession a falsified document


and he made use of it (uttered it), taking advantage of it and
profiting thereby, the presumption is that he is the material author of
the falsification. This is especially true if the use or uttering of the
forged documents was so closely connected in time with the forgery
that the user or possessor may be proven to have the capacity of
committing the forgery, or to have close connection with the forgers.

Estafa through Falsification of Commercial Document

GINA A. DOMINGO vs PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES


G.R. No. 186101 October 12, 2009

xxx if a person has in his possession a falsified document and he


made use of it, taking advantage of it and profiting from it, the
presumption is that he is the material author of the falsification.
For petitioner to be convicted of the complex crime of estafa
through falsification of public document committed in the manner
described in the Information, all the elements of the two crimes of
estafa and falsification of public document must exist.

To secure a conviction for estafa under Article 315, paragraph 2(a)


of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), the following requisites must
concur:

(1) The accused made false pretenses or fraudulent


representations as to his power, influence, qualifications, property,
credit, agency, business or imaginary transactions;

(2) The false pretenses or fraudulent representations were made


prior to or simultaneous with the commission of the fraud;

(3) The false pretenses or fraudulent representations constitute


the very cause which induced the offended party to part with his
money or property;

(4) That as a result thereof, the offended party suffered


damage. [Gonzaludo v. People, G.R. No. 150910, February 6, 2006,
481 SCRA 569, 577]

-vis a vis-

Article 172 of the RPC: Falsification of a public document. The


following requisites must concur, to wit:

(1) That the offender is a private individual or a public officer or


employee who took advantage of his official position;

(2) That he committed any of the acts of falsification


enumerated in article 171 of the Revised Penal Code (which in this
case involves forging a signature);
(3) That the falsification was committed in a public or official or
commercial document.

ESTAFA THROUGH FALSIFICATION OF PUBLIC DOCUMENTS

To secure a conviction for estafa under Article 315, paragraph 2(a) of the Revised
Penal Code (RPC), the following requisites must concur:

(1) The accused made false pretenses or fraudulent representations as to his power,
influence, qualifications, property, credit, agency, business or imaginary
transactions;

(2) The false pretenses or fraudulent representations were made prior to or


simultaneous with the commission of the fraud;

(3) The false pretenses or fraudulent representations constitute the very cause
which induced the offended party to part with his money or property;

(4) That as a result thereof, the offended party suffered damage. G.R. No. 150910
February 6, 2006 Gonzaludo vs. People

PRESUMPTION AGAINST THE POSSESSOR OF A FALSIFIED DOCUMENT

ROOTS IN JURISPRUDENCE

In the 1906 case of U.S. v. Castillo, the Court laid down the rule that
the utterance or use of a forged instrument, when unexplained, is
strong evidence tending to establish that the user himself (or herself)
either forged the instrument or caused it to be forged. In this case, the
accused merely denied ever presenting the forged check to the
complainant or receiving the amount it represented; the Court found
no merit in these denials. In People v. De Lara, the Court again applied
the presumption after finding the explanation of the accused on how
he came into possession of checks that were subsequently encashed
to be unusual and unreasonable as to carry conviction.
In People v. Domingo (1926), the Court applied the presumption
because a few days after the certificate of title (over a property) was
loaned to the accused, a forged deed of sale covering the property
was executed by two alleged vendors. The Court ruled that the failure
of the accused to explain what she did with the certificate of title
loaned to her could only lead to the inference that she placed the
certificate of title in the hands of her confederates as without the
certificate, the forgery could not have been accomplished.

In People v. Astudillo (1934), the Court clarified that for the


presumption to apply, the use of the forged document must be
accompanied by these circumstances: the use is so closely
connected in time with the forgery, or the user may be proved to have
the capacity to undertake the forgery, or such close connection with
the forgers to create a reasonable link. These additional
circumstances have been loosely applied in subsequent cases.

In Alarcon v. Court of Appeals (1967), the Court applied the


presumption after considering the patent irregularity in the transaction
and the extraordinary interest of the accused in the property covered
by the forged document/s in holding that no reasonable and fair-
minded man would say that the accused had no knowledge of the
falsification. In, Sarep v. Sandiganbayan (1989 case), gave occasion
for the ruling that since the accused was the only person who stood
to benefit by the falsification of the document found in his possession,
the presumption of authorship of the falsification applies in the
absence of contrary convincing proof by the accused.

In the more recent (1992) Caubang v. People, the accused - who


claimed to have the authority to transact (in behalf of an entity) with
a government agency in Manila - attempted to overthrow the
presumption of authorship against him by alleging intervening
circumstances from the time he arrived in Manila until the transaction
with the government agency was made. The accused claimed the
he did not carry the forged document when he arrived in Manila and
that third persons (including a fixer) actually transacted with the
government. Allegedly, these claims disproved that he had any
knowledge or inference in the making of the submitted forged
document. Rejecting this claim, the Court ruled that:

[U]tilizing a fixer as part of the scenario becomes a convenient ploy to


divert the mind of the court from the more plausible inference that the
accused-petitioner engineered the spurious [document].

xxxx

Even if the allegation that some other person [did the transaction] was
true, the accused-petitioner would still be subjected to the same
conclusion.

xxxx

Having been the one responsible for the filing of the registration
papers, including the means he felt necessary to accomplish the
registration, the accused must likewise be accountable therefor. As
the authorized representative, he is deemed to have been the one in
custody or possession, or at least the one who has gotten hold even
for a short while, of the papers which included the [falsified
document]. That he knew of the execution of the statement is a
possibility not too difficult to imagine under the circumstances.

xxxx

The [submission] of the previously inexistent document [with the


government] subjects the accused-petitioner to the inference that he
used it as part of the registration papers. In the absence of a credible
and satisfactory explanation of how the document came into being
and then filed with the [government agency], the accused is
presumed to be the forger.

In Dava v. People (1991), involving an accused who misrepresented


to his friend that he had no driver’s license and thereafter induced his
friend to deal with fixers so that he could have a driver’s license, the
Court ruled that the patent irregularity that attended the
procurement of the license cannot escape the conclusion that the
accused knew that the license he obtained was fake and that he
acted as a principal by inducement in the falsification of the license.

The above case law instructs us that if a person had in his possession
(actual or constructive) a falsified document and made use of it,
taking advantage of it and/or profiting from such use, the presumption
that he authored the falsification also applies.

Circumstantial Evidence

To uphold a conviction based on circumstantial evidence, it is


essential that the circumstantial evidence presented must constitute
an unbroken chain which leads one to a fair and reasonable
conclusion pointing to the accused, to the exclusion of the others, as
the guilty person. Circumstantial evidence on record will be sufficient
to convict the accused if it shows a series of circumstances duly
proved and consistent with each other. Each and every circumstance
must be consistent with the accused's guilt and inconsistent with the
accused's innocence. 9 The circumstances must be proved, and not
themselves presumed. (People v. Macabare y Lopez, G.R. No. 179941,
[August 25, 2009], 613 PHIL 474-490)
ESTAFA-

Rule 171

The foregoing elements were not established. There was no positive testimonyand positive identification
from the prosecution’s witnesses that the accused CharisaKey Esteban falsified a public
document. Neither did the prosecution refute thetestimony of the herein accused and her
witness that the falsification was committed bya certain Boy Perez. In Alonzo vs. IAC 151 SCRA
552, our Supreme Court held, “ Therespondent court mistakenly applied the rule that: “one
found in the possession of

and who used a forged document is the forger or the one who caused the forgery andtherefore
, guilty of falsification. The accused is entitled to the constitutionalpresumption of innocence
especially where the evidence on the alleged forged voucheris extremely doubtful.” In all criminal
cases, mere speculations cannot substitute forproof in establishing the guilt of the accused.

Indeed, suspicion no matter how strongmust never sway judgment. Where there is reasonable
doubt, the accused must beacquitted even though their innocence may not have been
established. The Constitutionpresumes a person innocent until proven guilty by proof beyond
reasonable doubt. When guilt is not proven with moral certainty,
it has been our policy of long standingthat the presumption of innocence must be favored, and
exoneration granted as amatter of right. Although the evidence for the defense may be frail,
criminal convictionmust come, not from its weakness, but from the strength of that for the
prosecution.

632 Phil. 191

In Regional Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board v. Court of Appeals,55 the heirs of the deceased
falsified the signature of the latter in a Notice of Appeal. The Court rejected the imputation of
falsification because the forgery produced no effect:

In the instant case, given the heirs' admissions contained in several pleadings that Avelino and
Pedro are already deceased and their submission to the jurisdiction of the Regional Adjudicator as
the successors-in-interest of the decedents, the effect would be the same if the heirs did not sign the
decedents' names but their own names on the appeal.56
It appears from the evidence in chief of the defendants-appellants (petitioners herein) that the
witness, Atty. Gertrudo B. Flores, the notary public before whom the deed of donation was
acknowledged, had known very well the donor, Josefa Capuno, being the widow of a late distant
relative of Atty. Flores from Sta. Ana, San Pablo City (TSN, p. 6, Hearing on May 18, 1973); that
Josefa Capuno had told him (Atty. Flores) that Atty. Gajitos who had originally drafted the deed had
read to her the contents of the document (TSN, p. 8, Hearing on May 18, 1973); and that she was in
her sound mind and active discernment (TSN, p. 9, Hearing on May 18, 1973).

On the essential and material facts, the testimony of the notary public who is also a lawyer is
satisfactory and must be given m•re credence than the testimonies of the Capuno witnesses which
merely implied that the thumbmark on the deed of donation was not affixed by Josefa Capuno since
no deed was notarized during her confinement at the hospital. These witnesses are interested in
inheriting the properties donated under the questioned document. Assuming that the thumbmark
was a fake, then the notary public was responsible therefor or participated in the commission of the
criminal act, but there is no showing that the Capunos ever complained or instituted criminal or
disciplinary action against him for the falsification which belie private respondents' allegations of
forgery.

Considering that the deed of donation is a public instrument and therefore entitled to the
presumption of law that official duty has been regularly performed, We must sustain its validity
because private respondents have failed to prove the two alleged grounds for the annulment of the
donation by strong, complete and conclusive evidence of its falsity or nullity.

We have reviewed and analyzed the evidence presented by the plaintiffs- appellees and We find the
same to be weak, flimsy and insufficient to annul the donation. Hence, the complaint must fall and
should be dismissed. In not dismissing said complaint, respondent court gravely erred and abused
its discretion.

As to the third issue, We find its resolution moot and academic since We have ruled that the deed of
donation was valid and may not be annulled.

Assuming that in Special Proceedings No. Sp-296 entitled "IN THE MATTER OF THE INTESTATE
ESTATE OF THE DECEASED JOSEFA CAPUNO", it was therein established that Josefa Capuno
died a widow, without any ascendant nor descendant, whether legitimate or otherwise and that her
only heirs are her niece, Lydia Capuno, and her nephews, Felix Capuno, Simeon Capuno, Gerardo
Capuno, and Aniceto Capuno, who are the plaintiffs, such declaration of heirship cannot affect,
prejudice nor reduce the donation since private respondents admit that there are fifteen (15) parcels
of land left by the donor, Josefa Capuno, at the time of her death which were not disposed of by
virtue of a will or testament. (TSN, pp. 32-33, Hearing on Nov. 11, 1971). The records do not show
the disposition of these fifteen parcels of land. We can presume, however, that they constitute the
intestate estate of the deceased, Josefa Capuno, to which private respondents may legally succeed
and inherit. The deed of donation inter vivos must, however, be respected.