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RepublicofthePhilippines
SUPREMECOURT
Manila

SECONDDIVISION

G.R.No.179448June26,2013

CARLOSL.TANENGGEE,Petitioner,
vs.
PEOPLEOFTHEPHILIPPINES,Respondent.

DECISION

DELCASTILLO,J.:

Assailed in this Petition for Review on Certiorari1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court is the December 12, 2006
Decision2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CAG.R. CR No. 23653 affirming with modification the June 25, 1999
Decision3 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 30, in Criminal Case Nos. 9816380610 finding
Carlos L." Tanenggee (petitioner) guilty beyond reasonable doubt of five counts of estafa through falsification of
commercialdocuments.LikewisequestionedistheCA'sSeptember6,2007Resolution4denyingpetitioner'sMotion
forReconsideration5andSupplementalMotionforReconsideration.6

FactualAntecedents

OnMarch27,1998,fiveseparateInformations7forestafathroughfalsificationofcommercialdocumentswerefiled
againstpetitioner.ThesaidInformationsportraythesamemodeofcommissionofthecrimeasinCriminalCaseNo.
98163806butdifferwithrespecttothenumbersofthechecksandpromissorynotesinvolvedandthedatesand
amountsthereof,viz:

ThatonoraboutJuly24,1997,intheCityofManila,Philippines,thesaidaccused,beingthenaprivateindividual,
did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud, thru falsification of commercial document, the
METROPOLITANBANK&TRUSTCO.(METROBANK),representedbyitsLegalofficer,Atty.FerdinandR.Aguirre,
inthefollowingmanner:hereinaccused,beingthentheManageroftheCOMMERCIOBRANCHOFMETROBANK
locatedattheNewDivisoriaMarketBldg.,Divisoria,Manila,andtakingadvantageofhispositionassuch,prepared
andfilleduporcausedtobepreparedandfilledupMETROBANKPromissoryNoteFormNo.366857withletters
and figures reading "BD#083/97" after the letters reading "PN", with figures reading "07.24.97" after the word
"DATE", with the amount of P16,000,000.00 in words and in figures, and with other words and figures now
appearing thereon, typing or causing to be typed at the right bottom thereof the name reading "ROMEO TAN",
feigningandforgingorcausingtobefeignedandforgedontopofsaidnamethesignatureofRomeoTan,affixing
his own signature at the left bottom thereof purportedly to show that he witnessed the alleged signing of the said
note by Romeo Tan, thereafter preparing and filling up or causing to be prepared and filled up METROBANK
CASHIERS CHECK NO. CC 0000001531, a commercial document, with date reading "July 24, 1997", with the
namereading"RomeoTan"aspayee,andwiththesumofP15,362,666.67inwordsandinfigures,whichpurports
to be the proceeds of the loan being obtained, thereafter affixing his own signature thereon, and directing the
unsuspecting bank cashier to also affix his signature on the said check, as authorized signatories, and finally
affixing, feigning and forging or causing to be affixed, feigned and forged four (4) times at the back thereof the
signature of said Romeo Tan, thereby making it appear, as it did appear that Romeo Tan had participated in the
preparation, execution and signing of the said Promissory Note and the signing and endorsement of the said
METROBANK CASHIERS CHECK and that he obtained a loan of P16,000,000.00 from METROBANK, when in
truthandinfact,asthesaidaccusedwellknew,suchwasnotthecaseinthatsaidRomeoTandidnotobtainsuch
loanfromMETROBANK,neitherdidheparticipateinthepreparation,executionandsigningofthesaidpromissory
noteandsigningandendorsementofsaidMETROBANKCASHIERSCHECK,muchlessauthorizehereinaccused
toprepare,executeandaffixhissignatureinthesaiddocumentsthatoncethesaiddocumentswereforgedand
falsifiedinthemannerabovesetforth,thesaidaccusedreleased,obtainedandreceivedfromtheMETROBANK
the sum of P15,363,666.67 purportedly representing the proceeds of the said loan, which amount, once in his
possession, with intent to defraud, he misappropriated, misapplied and converted to his own personal use and
benefit, to the damage and prejudice of the said METROBANK in the same sum of P15,363,666.67, Philippine
currency.

CONTRARYTOLAW.8

OnMay27,1998,theRTCenteredapleaofnotguiltyforthepetitionerafterherefusedtoenteraplea.9Thecases
werethenconsolidatedandjointlytried.

TheproceedingsbeforetheRTCasaptlysummarizedbytheCAareasfollows:

During the pretrial, except for the identity of the accused, the jurisdiction of the court, and that accused was the
branch manager of Metrobank Commercio Branch from July 1997 to December 1997, no other stipulations were
enteredinto.Prosecutionmarkeditsexhibits"A"to"L"andsubmarkings.

xxxx

The prosecution alleged that on different occasions, appellant caused to be prepared promissory notes and
cashiers checks in the name of Romeo Tan, a valued client of the bank since he has substantial deposits in his
account,inconnectionwiththepurportedloansobtainedbythelatterfromthebank.Appellantapprovedandsigned
thecashierscheckasbranchmanagerofMetrobankCommercioBranch.Appellantaffixed,forgedorcausedtobe
signedthesignatureofTanasendorserandpayeeoftheproceedsofthechecksatthebackofthesametoshow
thatthelatterhadindeedendorsedthesameforpayment.HehandedthecheckstotheLoansclerk,MariaDolores
Miranda, for encashment. Once said documents were forged and falsified, appellant released and obtained from
Metrobank the proceeds of the alleged loan and misappropriated the same to his use and benefit. After the
discoveryoftheirregularloans,aninternalauditwasconductedandanadministrativeinvestigationwasheldinthe
HeadOfficeofMetrobank,duringwhichappellantsignedawrittenstatement(markedasExhibit"N")intheformof
questionsandanswers.

Theprosecutionpresentedthefollowingwitnesses:

Valentino Elevado, a member of the Internal Affairs Department of Metrobank, testified that he conducted and
interviewed the appellant in January 1998 that in said interview, appellant admitted having committed the
allegationsintheInformations,specificallyforgingthepromissorynotesthattheproceedsoftheloanweresecured
orpersonallyreceivedbytheappellantalthoughitshouldbetheclientofthebankwhoshouldreceivethesame
and that all the answers of the appellant were contained in a typewritten document voluntarily executed,
thumbmarked,andsignedbyhim(Exhibit"N").

RosemarieTanApostol,assistantbranchmanager,testifiedthatthesignaturesappearingonthepromissorynotes
werenotthesignaturesofRomeoTanthatthepromissorynotesdidnotbearhersignaturealthoughitisrequired,
duetothefactthatRomeoTanisavaluedclientandhermanageraccommodatedvaluedclientsthatshesigned
thecorrespondingchecksuponinstructionofappellantandthataftersigningthechecks,appellanttookthesame
whichremainedinhiscustody.

Eliodoro M. Constantino, NBI Supervisor and a handwriting expert, testified that the signatures appearing on the
promissory notes and specimen signatures on the signature card of Romeo Tan were not written by one and the
sameperson.

MariaDoloresMiranda,aLoansClerkatMetrobankCommercioBranch,testifiedthatseveralcashierscheckswere
issued in favor of Romeo Tan that appellant instructed her to encash the same and that it was appellant who
receivedtheproceedsoftheloan.

For his defense, appellant Carlos Lo Tanenggee testified that he is a holder of a Masters degree from the Asian
Institute of Management, and was the Branch Manager of Metrobank Commercio Branch from 1994 until he was
charged in 1998 [with] the abovenamed offense. He was with Metrobank for nine (9) years starting as assistant
managerofMetrobankDasmariasBranch,Binondo,Manila.Asmanager,heoversawthedaytodayoperationsof
thebranch,solicitedaccountsandprocessedloans,amongothers.

AppellantclaimedthathewasabletosolicitRomeoTanasaclientdepositorwhenhewasthebranchmanagerof
Metrobank Commercio. As a valued client, Romeo Tan was granted a credit line for forty million pesos
(P40,000,000.00) by Metrobank. Tan was also allowed to open a fictitious account for his personal use and was
assisted personally by appellant in his dealings with the bank. In the middle of 1997, Tan allegedly opened a
fictitiousaccountandusedthenameJoseTan.Suchpracticeforvaluedclientswasallowedbyandknowntothe
banktohidetheirfinancesduetorampantkidnappingsorfromtheBureauofInternalRevenue(BIR)orfromtheir
spouses.

According to appellant, Tan availed of his standing credit line (through promissory notes) for five (5) times on the
followingdates:1)24July1997forsixteenmillionpesos(P16,000,000.00),2)27October1997forsixmillionpesos
(P6,000,000.00),3)12November1997forthreemillionpesos(P3,000,000.00),4)21November1997forsixteen
millionpesos(P16,000,000,00),5)22December1997fortwomillionpesos(P2,000,000.00).Onalltheseoccasions
excepttheloanon24July1997whenTanpersonallywenttothebank,Tanallegedlygavehisinstructionsregarding
theloanthroughthetelephone. Uponreceivingtheinstructions,appellantwouldordertheLoansclerktoprepare
thepromissorynoteandsendthesamethroughthebanksmessengertoTansoffice,whichwaslocatedacrossthe
street.Thelatterwouldthenreturntothebank,throughhisownmessenger,thepromissorynotesalreadysignedby
him. Upon receipt of the promissory note, appellant would order the preparation of the corresponding cashiers
checkrepresentingtheproceedsoftheparticularloan,sendthesamethroughthebanksmessengertotheofficeof
Tan,andthelatterwouldreturnthesamethroughhisownmessengeralreadyendorsedtogetherwithadepositslip
underCurrentAccountNo.2582501337ofJoseTan.OnlyCashiersCheckdated21November1997forsixteen
millionpesos(P16,000,000.00)wasnotendorsedanddepositedfor,allegedly,itwasusedtopaytheloanobtained
on 24 July 1997. Appellant claimed that all the signatures of Tan appearing on the promissory notes and the
cashierscheckswerethegenuinesignaturesofTanalthoughheneversawthelatteraffixthemthereon.

InthemiddleofJanuary1998,two(2)MetrobankauditorsconductedanauditoftheCommercioBranchformore
thanaweek.Thereafteroron26January1998,appellantwasaskedbyElviraOngChan,seniorvicepresidentof
Metrobank, to report to the Head Office on the following day. When appellant arrived at the said office, he was
surprisedthattherewereseven(7)otherpeoplepresent:two(2)seniorbranchofficers,two(2)banklawyers,two
(2)policemen(oneinuniformandtheotherinplainclothes),andarepresentativeoftheInternalAffairsunitofthe
bank,ValentinoElevado.

Appellant claimed that Elevado asked him to sign a paper (Exhibit "N") in connection with the audit investigation
thatheinquiredwhathewasmadetosignbutwasnotofferedanyexplanationthathewasintimidatedtosignand
wasthreatenedbythepolicethathewillbebroughttotheprecinctifhewillnotsignthathewasnotabletoconsult
alawyersincehewasnotapprisedofthepurposeofthemeetingandthat"justtogetitoverwith"hesignedthe
paperwhichturnedouttobeaconfession.Afterthesaidmeeting,appellantwenttoseeTanathisofficebutwas
unabletofindthelatter.Healsotriedtophonehimbuttonoavail.10

RulingoftheRegionalTrialCourt

Afterthejointtrial,theRTCrenderedaconsolidatedDecision11datedJune25,1999findingpetitionerguiltyofthe
crimescharged,thedecretalportionofwhichstates:

WHEREFORE,theCourtfindstheaccused,CarlosLoTanenggee,guiltybeyondreasonabledoubtoftheoffenseof
estafa thru falsification of commercial documents charged in each of the five (5) Informations filed and hereby
sentenceshimtosufferthefollowingpenalties:

1.InCriminalCaseNo.98163806,tosuffertheindeterminatepenaltyofimprisonmentfromeight(8)yearsof
prision mayor as minimum to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal as maximum including the accessory
penaltiesprovidedbylaw.

2.InCriminalCaseNo.98163807,tosuffertheindeterminatepenaltyofimprisonmentfromeight(8)yearsof
prision mayor as minimum to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal as maximum including the accessory
penaltiesprovidedbylaw,andtoindemnifyMetrobankthesumofP16Millionwithinterestat18%perannum
countedfrom27November1997untilfullypaid.

3.InCriminalCaseNo.98163808,tosuffertheindeterminatepenaltyofimprisonmentfromeight(8)yearsof
prision mayor as minimum to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal as maximum including the accessory
penaltiesprovidedbylaw,andtoindemnifyMetrobankthesumofP6Millionwithinterestat18%perannum
countedfrom27October1997untilfullypaid.

4.InCriminalCaseNo.98163809,tosuffertheindeterminatepenaltyofimprisonmentfromeight(8)yearsof
prision mayor as minimum to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal as maximum including the accessory
penaltiesprovidedbylaw,andtoindemnifyMetrobankthesumofP2Millionwithinterestat18%perannum
countedfrom22December1997untilfullypaid.

5.InCriminalCaseNo.98163810,tosuffertheindeterminatepenaltyofimprisonmentfromeight(8)yearsof
prision mayor as minimum to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal as maximum including the accessory
penaltiesprovidedbylaw,andtoindemnifyMetrobankthesumofP3Millionwithinterestat18%perannum
countedfrom12November1997untilfullypaid.

Accusedshallservethesaidpenaltiesimposedsuccessively.

AsmandatedinArticle70oftheRevisedPenalCode,themaximumdurationofthesentenceimposedshallnotbe
more than threefold the length of time corresponding to the most severe of the penalties imposed upon him and
suchmaximumperiodshallinnocaseexceedforty(40)years.
SOORDERED.12

RulingoftheCourtofAppeals

PetitionerappealedthejudgmentofconvictiontotheCAwherethecasewasdocketedasCAG.R.CRNo.23653.
On December 12, 2006, the CA promulgated its Decision13 affirming with modification the RTC Decision and
disposingoftheappealasfollows:

WHEREFORE,theappealisDENIEDforlackofmeritandtheDecisiondated25June1999oftheRegionalTrial
Court(RTC)ofManila,Branch30convictingtheaccusedappellantCarlosLoTanenggeeonfivecountsofestafa
throughfalsificationofcommercialdocumentsisherebyAFFIRMEDwithMODIFICATIONthatinCriminalCaseNo.
98163806, he is further ordered to indemnify Metrobank the sum of P16 Million with interest at 18% per annum
countedfrom24July1997untilfullypaid.

SOORDERED.14

On December 29, 2006,15 petitioner moved for reconsideration, which the CA denied per its September 6, 2007
Resolution.16

Hence,thepresentPetitionforReviewonCertiorariunderRule45oftheRulesofCourtraisingthebasicissuesof:
(1)whethertheCAerredinaffirmingtheRTCsadmissioninevidenceofthepetitionerswrittenstatementbasedon
its finding that he was not in police custody or under custodial interrogation when the same was taken and, (2)
whether the essential elements of estafa through falsification of commercial documents were established by the
prosecution.17

ThePartiesArguments

Whileheadmitssigningawrittenstatement,18petitionerrefutesthetruthofthecontentsthereofandallegesthathe
wasonlyforcedtosignthesamewithoutreadingitscontents.Heassertsthatsaidwrittenstatementwastakenin
violationofhisrightsunderSection12,ArticleIIIoftheConstitution,particularlyofhisrighttoremainsilent,rightto
counsel,andrighttobeinformedofthefirsttworights.Hence,thesameshouldnothavebeenadmittedinevidence
againsthim.

On the other hand, respondent People of the Philippines, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG),
maintainsthatpetitionerswrittenstatementisadmissibleinevidencesincetheconstitutionalproscriptioninvoked
bypetitionerdoesnotapplytoinquiriesmadeinthecontextofprivateemploymentbutisapplicableonlyincasesof
custodialinterrogation.TheOSGthuspraysfortheaffirmanceoftheappealedCADecision.

OurRuling

WefindthePetitionwantinginmerit.

Petitionerswrittenstatementisadmissibleinevidence.

The constitutional proscription against the admissibility of admission or confession of guilt obtained in violation of
Section 12, Article III of the Constitution, as correctly observed by the CA and the OSG, is applicable only in
custodialinterrogation.

Custodialinterrogationmeansanyquestioninginitiatedbylawenforcementauthoritiesafterapersonistakeninto
custodyorotherwisedeprivedofhisfreedomofactioninanysignificantmanner.Indeed,apersonundercustodial
investigationisguaranteedcertainrightswhichattachuponthecommencementthereof,viz:(1)toremainsilent,(2)
tohavecompetentandindependentcounselpreferablyofhisownchoice,and(3)tobeinformedofthetwoother
rightsabove.19 In the present case, while it is undisputed that petitioner gave an uncounselled written statement
regarding an anomaly discovered in the branch he managed, the following are clear: (1) the questioning was not
initiated by a law enforcement authority but merely by an internal affairs manager of the bank and, (2) petitioner
wasneitherarrestednorrestrainedofhislibertyinanysignificantmannerduringthequestioning.Clearly,petitioner
cannotbesaidtobeundercustodialinvestigationandtohavebeendeprivedoftheconstitutionalprerogativeduring
thetakingofhiswrittenstatement.

Moreover, in Remolona v. Civil Service Commission,20 we declared that the right to counsel "applies only to
admissions made in a criminal investigation but not to those made in an administrative investigation." Amplifying
furtheronthematter,theCourtmadeclearintherecentcaseofCarbonelv.CivilServiceCommission:21

However,itmustberememberedthattherighttocounselunderSection12oftheBillofRightsismeanttoprotecta
suspect during custodial investigation. Thus, the exclusionary rule under paragraph (2), Section 12 of the Bill of
Rights applies only to admissions made in a criminal investigation but not to those made in an administrative
investigation.22

Here, petitioners written statement was given during an administrative inquiry conducted by his employer in
connection with an anomaly/irregularity he allegedly committed in the course of his employment. No error can
therefore be attributed to the courts below in admitting in evidence and in giving due consideration to petitioners
writtenstatementasthereisnoconstitutionalimpedimenttoitsadmissibility.

Petitionerswrittenstatementwasgivenvoluntarily,knowinglyandintelligently.

Petitionerattemptsto convinceusthat hesigned,underduressandintimidation,analreadypreparedtypewritten


statement.However,hisclaimlackssustainablebasisandhissuppositionisjustanafterthoughtforthereisnothing
intherecordsthatwouldsupporthisclaimofduressandintimidation.

Moreover, "it is settled that a confession or admission is presumed voluntary until the contrary is proved and the
confessant bears the burden of proving the contrary."23 Petitioner failed to overcome this presumption. On the
contrary, his written statement was found to have been executed freely and consciously. The pertinent details he
narrated in his statement were of such nature and quality that only a perpetrator of the crime could furnish. The
detailscontainedthereinattesttoitsvoluntariness.AscorrectlypointedoutbytheCA:

As the trial court noted, the written statement (Exhibit N) of appellant is replete with details which could only be
suppliedbyappellant.Thestatementreflectsspontaneityandcoherencewhichcannotbeassociatedwithamindto
which intimidation has been applied. Appellants answers to questions 14 and 24 were even initialed by him to
indicatehisconformitytothecorrectionsmadetherein.Theresponsetoeveryquestionwasfullyinformative,even
beyondtherequiredanswers,whichonlyindicatesthemindtobefreefromextraneousrestraints.24

InPeoplev.Muit,25itwasheldthat"oneoftheindiciaofvoluntarinessintheexecutionofpetitionersextrajudicial
statementisthatitcontainsmanydetailsandfactswhichtheinvestigatingofficerscouldnothaveknownandcould
nothavesuppliedwithouttheknowledgeandinformationgivenbyhim."

Also, the fact that petitioner did not raise a whimper of protest and file any charges, criminal or administrative,
againsttheinvestigatorandthetwopolicemenpresentwhoallegedlyintimidatedhimandforcedhimtosignnegate
his bare assertions of compulsion and intimidation. It is a settled rule that where the defendant did not present
evidence of compulsion, where he did not institute any criminal or administrative action against his supposed
intimidators,wherenophysicalevidenceofviolencewaspresented,hisextrajudicialstatementshallbeconsidered
ashavingbeenvoluntarilyexecuted.26

Neither will petitioners assertion that he did not read the contents of his statement before affixing his signature
thereon "just to get it over with" prop up the instant Petition. To recall, petitioner has a masteral degree from a
reputableeducationalinstitutionandhadbeenabankmanagerforquiteanumberofyears.Heisthusexpectedto
fully understand and comprehend the significance of signing an instrument. It is just unfortunate that he did not
exerciseduediligenceintheconductofhisownaffairs.Hecanthereforeexpectnoconsiderationforit.

Forgerydulyestablished.

"Forgeryispresentwhenanywritingiscounterfeitedbythesigningofanothersnamewithintenttodefraud."27It
canbeestablishedbycomparingtheallegedfalsesignaturewiththeauthenticorgenuineone.Afindingofforgery
doesnotdependentirelyonthetestimoniesofgovernmenthandwritingexpertswhoseopinionsdonotmandatorily
bind the courts. A trial judge is not precluded but is even authorized by law28 to conduct an independent
examinationofthequestionedsignatureinordertoarriveatareasonableconclusionastoitsauthenticity.

In this case, the finding of forgery on the signature of Romeo Tan (Tan) appearing in the promissory notes and
cashiers checks was not anchored solely on the result of the examination conducted by the National Bureau of
Investigation (NBI) Document Examiner. The trial court also made an independent examination of the questioned
signatures and after analyzing the same, reached the conclusion that the signatures of Tan appearing in the
promissory notes are different from his genuine signatures appearing in his Deposit Account Information and
SpecimenSignatureCardsonfilewiththebank.Thus,wefindnoreasontodisturbtheabovefindingsoftheRTC
whichwasaffirmedbytheCA.Aruleoflongstandinginthisjurisdictionisthatfindingsofatrialcourt,whenaffirmed
bytheCA,areaccordedgreatweightandrespect.Absentanyreasontodeviatefromthesaidfindings,asinthis
case,thesameshouldbedeemedconclusiveandbindingtothisCourt.

Nosuppressionofevidenceonthepartoftheprosecution.

Petitioner claims that the prosecution should have presented Tan in court to shed light on the matter. His non
presentationcreatedthepresumptionthathistestimonyifgivenwouldbeadversetothecaseoftheprosecution.
Petitionerthuscontendsthattheprosecutionsuppresseditsownevidence.
Suchcontentionislikewiseuntenable.Theprosecutionhastheprerogativetochoosetheevidenceorthewitnesses
it wishes to present. It has the discretion as to how it should present its case.29 Moreover, the presumption that
suppressedevidenceisunfavorabledoesnotapplywheretheevidencewasatthedisposalofboththedefenseand
theprosecution.30 In the present case, if petitioner believes that Tan is the principal witness who could exculpate
himfromliabilitybyestablishingthatitwasTanandnothimwhosignedthesubjectdocuments,themostprudent
thingtodoistoutilizehimashiswitness.Anyway,petitionerhastherighttohavecompulsoryprocesstosecure
Tans attendance during the trial pursuant to Article III, Section 14(2)31 of the Constitution. The records show,
however,thatpetitionerdidnotinvokesuchright.Inviewofthese,nosuppressionofevidencecanbeattributedto
theprosecution.

Petitionersdenialisunavailing.

TheCourtisalsonotpersuadedbythebareanduncorroboratedallegationofpetitionerthattheloanscoveredby
the promissory notes and the cashiers checks were personally transacted by Tan against his approved letter of
credit, although he admittedly never saw Tan affix his signature thereto. Again, this allegation, as the RTC aptly
observed, is not supported by established evidence. "It is settled that denials which are unsubstantiated by clear
andconvincingevidencearenegativeandselfservingevidence.Theymeritnoweightinlawandcannotbegiven
greaterevidentiaryvalueoverthetestimonyofcrediblewitnesseswhotestifiedonaffirmativematters."32Thechain
ofeventsinthiscase,fromthepreparationofthepromissorynotestotheencashmentofthecashierschecks,as
narrated by the prosecution witnesses and based on petitioners own admission, established beyond reasonable
doubtthathecommittedtheunlawfulactsallegedintheInformations.

Elementsoffalsificationofcommercialdocumentsestablished.

Falsificationofdocumentsunderparagraph1,Article172inrelationtoArticle171oftheRevisedPenalCode(RPC)
referstofalsificationbyaprivateindividualorapublicofficeroremployee,whodidnottakeadvantageofhisofficial
position,ofpublic,privateorcommercialdocument.Theelementsoffalsificationofdocumentsunderparagraph1,
Article172oftheRPCare:(1)thattheoffenderisaprivateindividualorapublicofficeroremployeewhodidnot
takeadvantageofhisofficialposition(2)thathecommittedanyoftheactsoffalsificationenumeratedinArticle171
oftheRPC33and,(3)thatthefalsificationwascommittedinapublic,officialorcommercialdocument.

Alltheabovementionedelementswereestablishedinthiscase.First,petitionerisaprivateindividual.Second,the
acts of falsification consisted in petitioners (1) counterfeiting or imitating the handwriting or signature of Tan and
causing it to appear that the same is true and genuine in all respects and (2) causing it to appear that Tan has
participatedinanactorproceedingwhenhedidnotinfactsoparticipate.Third,thefalsificationwascommittedin
promissorynotesandcheckswhicharecommercialdocuments.Commercialdocumentsare,ingeneral,documents
orinstrumentswhichare"usedbymerchantsorbusinessmentopromoteorfacilitatetradeorcredittransactions."34
Promissory notes facilitate credit transactions while a check is a means of payment used in business in lieu of
money for convenience in business transactions. A cashiers check necessarily facilitates bank transactions for it
allows the person whose name and signature appear thereon to encash the check and withdraw the amount
indicatedtherein.35

Falsificationasanecessarymeanstocommitestafa.

Whentheoffendercommitsonapublic,officialorcommercialdocumentanyoftheactsoffalsificationenumerated
inArticle171asanecessarymeanstocommitanothercrimelikeestafa,theftormalversation,thetwocrimesform
acomplexcrime.UnderArticle48oftheRPC,therearetwoclassesofacomplexcrime.Acomplexcrimemayrefer
toasingleactwhichconstitutestwoormoregraveorlessgravefeloniesortoanoffenseasanecessarymeansfor
committinganother.

InDomingov.People,36weheld:

Thefalsificationofapublic,official,orcommercialdocumentmaybeameansofcommittingestafa,becausebefore
the falsified document is actually utilized to defraud another, the crime of falsification has already been
consummated,damageorintenttocausedamagenotbeinganelementofthecrimeoffalsificationofpublic,official
orcommercialdocument.Inotherwords,thecrimeoffalsificationhasalreadyexisted.Actuallyutilizingthatfalsified
public,officialorcommercialdocumenttodefraudanotherisestafa.Butthedamageiscausedbythecommission
of estafa, not by the falsification of the document. Therefore, the falsification of the public, official or commercial
documentisonlyanecessarymeanstocommitestafa.

"Estafa is generally committed when (a) the accused defrauded another by abuse of confidence, or by means of
deceit,and(b)theoffendedpartyorathirdpartysuffereddamageorprejudicecapableofpecuniaryestimation."37
Deceit is the false representation of a matter of fact, whether by words or conduct, by false or misleading
allegations,orbyconcealmentofthatwhichshouldhavebeendisclosedwhichdeceivesorisintendedtodeceive
anothersothatheshallactuponittohislegalinjury."38
The elements of estafa obtain in this case. By falsely representing that Tan requested him to process purported
loansonthelattersbehalf,petitionercounterfeitedorimitatedthesignatureofTaninthecashierschecks. Through1wphi1

these, petitioner succeeded in withdrawing money from the bank. Once in possession of the amount, petitioner
thereafter invested the same in Eurocan Future Commodities. Clearly, petitioner employed deceit in order to take
holdofthemoney,misappropriatedandconvertedittohisownpersonaluseandbenefit,andtheseresultedtothe
damageandprejudiceofthebankintheamountofaboutP43million.

Takeninitsentirety,theprovenfactsshowthatpetitionercouldnothavewithdrawnthemoneywithoutfalsifyingthe
questioneddocuments.Thefalsificationwas,therefore,anecessarymeanstocommitestafa,andfalsificationwas
already consummated even before the falsified documents were used to defraud the bank. The conviction of
petitioner for the complex crime of Estafa through Falsification of Commercial Document by the lower courts was
thusproper.

TheProperImposablePenalty

The penalty for falsification of a commercial document under Article 172 of the RPC is prision correccional in its
mediumandmaximumperiodsandafineofnotmorethanP5,000.00.

Thepenaltyinestafacases,ontheotherhand,asprovidedunderparagraph1,Article315oftheRPCisprision
correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its minimum period39 if the amount defrauded is over
P12,000.00butdoesnotexceedP22,000.00.Iftheamountinvolvedexceedsthelattersum,thesameparagraph
providestheimpositionofthepenaltyinitsmaximumperiodwithanincrementalpenaltyofoneyearimprisonment
foreveryP10,000.00butinnocaseshallthetotalpenaltyexceed20yearsofimprisonment.

Petitioner in this case is found liable for the commission of the complex crime of estafa through falsification of
commercial document. The crime of falsification was established to be a necessary means to commit estafa.
PursuanttoArticle48oftheCode,thepenaltytobeimposedinsuchcaseshouldbethatcorrespondingtothemost
serious crime, the same to be applied in its maximum period. The applicable penalty therefore is for the crime of
estafa,beingthemoreseriousoffensethanfalsification.

The amounts involved in this case range from P2 million to P16 million. Said amounts being in excess of
P22,000.00, the penalty imposable should be within the maximum term of six (6) years, eight (8) months and
twentyone (21) days to eight (8) years of prision mayor, adding one (1) year for each additional P10,000.00.
Considering the amounts involved, the additional penalty of one (1) year for each additional P10,000.00 would
surely exceed the maximum limitation provided under Article 315, which is twenty (20) years. Thus, the RTC
correctlyimposedthemaximumtermoftwenty(20)yearsofreclusiontemporal.

There is need, however, to modify the penalties imposed by the trial court as affirmed by the CA in each case
respecting the minimum term of imprisonment. The trial court imposed the indeterminate penalty of imprisonment
from eight (8) years of prision mayor as minimum which is beyond the lawful range. Under the Indeterminate
Sentence Law, the minimum term of the penalty should be within the range of the penalty next lower to that
prescribed by law for the offense. Since the penalty prescribed for the estafa charge against petitioner is prision
correccional maximum to prision mayor minimum, the penalty next lower would then be prision correccional in its
minimumandmediumperiodswhichhasadurationofsix(6)monthsandone(1)daytofour(4)yearsandtwo(2)
months.Thus,theCourtsetstheminimumtermoftheindeterminatepenaltyatfour(4)yearsandtwo(2)monthsof
prision correccional. Petitioner is therefore sentenced in each case to suffer the indeterminate penalty of four (4)
years and two (2) months of prision correccional as minimum to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal as
maximum.

WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED. The Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CAG.R. CR No.
23653 dated December 12, 2006 and September 6, 2007, respectively, are hereby AFFIRMED with the
MODIFICATIONthattheminimumtermoftheindeterminatesentencetobeimposeduponthepetitionershouldbe
four(4)yearsandtwo(2)monthsofprisioncorreccional.

SOORDERED.

MARIANOC.DELCASTILLO
AssociateJustice

WECONCUR:

ANTONIOT.CARPIO
AssociateJustice
Chairperson

ARTUROD.BRION JOSEPORTUGALPEREZ
AssociateJustice AssociateJustice
ESTELAM.PERLASBERNABE
AssociateJustice

ATTESTATION

IattestthattheconclusionsintheaboveDecisionhadbeenreachedinconsultationbeforethecasewasassigned
tothewriteroftheopinionoftheCourtsDivision.

ANTONIOT.CARPIO
AssociateJustice
Chairperson

CERTIFICATION

PursuanttoSection13,ArticleVIIIoftheConstitutionandtheDivisionChairpersonsAttestation,Icertifythatthe
conclusionsintheaboveDecisionhadbeenreachedinconsultationbeforethecasewasassignedtothewriterof
theopinionoftheCourt'sDivision.

MARIALOURDESP.A.SERENO
ChiefJustice

Footnotes
1Rollo,pp.18103.

2 CA rollo, pp. 206230 penned by Associate Justice Monina ArevaloZenarosa and concurred in by
AssociateJusticesMartinS.Villarama,Jr.andLucasP.Bersamin(nowmembersofthisCourt).

3RecordsofCriminalCaseNo.98163806,pp.396405pennedbyJudgeSenecio0.Ortile.

4CArollo,pp.277279.

5Id.at231243.

6Id.at247257.

7 Records of Criminal Case No. 98163806, pp. 23 records of Criminal Case No. 98163807, pp. 12
recordsofCriminalCaseNo.98163808,pp.12recordsofCriminalCaseNo.98163809,pp.12records
ofCriminalCaseNo.98163810,pp.12.
8RecordsofCriminalCaseNo.98163806,pp.23.

9Id.at73.

10CArollo,pp.210215.

11RecordsofCriminalCaseNo.98163806,pp.396405.

12Id.at404405.

13CArollo,pp.206230.

14Id.at229230.

15Id.at231.

16Id.at277279.

17Rollo,p.671.

18Exhibit"N,"recordsofCriminalCaseNo.98163806,pp.189194.

19Peoplev.Bandula,G.R.No.89223,May27,1994,232SCRA566,574.
20414Phil.590,599(2001).

21G.R.No.187689,September7,2010,630SCRA202.

22Id.at207.

23Peoplev.Rapeza,549Phil.378,404(2007).

24CArollo,p.220.

25G.R.No.181043,October8,2008,568SCRA251,268.

26Peoplev.DelRosario,411Phil.676,690691(2001),citingPeoplev.Santalani,181Phil.481,490(1979),
Peoplev.Balane,208Phil.537,556(1983)andPeoplev.Villanueva,213Phil.440,453454(1984).
27Ocampov.LandBankofthePhilippines,G.R.No.164968,July3,2009,591SCRA562,570.

28RULESOFCOURT,Rule132,Section22.

29Peoplev.Daco,G.R.No.168166,October10,2008,568SCRA348,361.

30Peoplev.Mazo,419Phil.750,768(2001),citingPeoplev.Padiernos,161Phil.623,632633(1976).

31Section14.(1)xxx

(2) In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved,
andshallenjoytherighttobeheardbyhimselfandcounsel,tobeinformedofthenatureandcauseof
theaccusationagainsthim,tohaveaspeedy,impartial,andpublictrial,tomeetthewitnessesfaceto
face, and to have compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of
evidenceinhisbehalf.However,afterarraignment,trialmayproceednotwithstandingtheabsenceof
theaccusedprovidedthathehasbeendulynotifiedandhisfailuretoappearisunjustifiable.
32Peoplev.Sison,G.R.No.172752,June18,2008,555SCRA156,170.

33 ART. 171. Falsification by public officer, employee or notary or ecclesiastical minister. The penalty of
prisionmayorandafinenottoexceed5,000pesosshallbeimposeduponanypublicofficer,employee,or
notary who, taking advantage of his official position, shall falsify a document by committing any of the
followingacts:

1.Counterfeitingorimitatinganyhandwriting,signature,orrubric

2.Causingittoappearthatpersonshaveparticipatedinanyactorproceedingwhentheydidnotin
factsoparticipate

3.Attributingtopersonswhohaveparticipatedinanactorproceedingstatementsotherthanthosein
factmadebythem

4.Makinguntruthfulstatementsinanarrationoffacts

5.Alteringtruedates

6.Makinganyalterationorintercalationinagenuinedocumentwhichchangesitsmeaning

7.Issuinginanauthenticatedformadocumentpurportingtobeacopyofanoriginaldocumentwhen
nosuchoriginalexists,orincludinginsuchcopyastatementcontraryto,ordifferentfrom,thatofthe
genuineoriginalor

8.Intercalatinganyinstrumentornoterelativetotheissuancethereofinaprotocol,registry,orofficial
book.

xxxx
34Monteverdev.People,435Phil.906,921(2002).

35Domingov.People,G.R.No.186101,October12,2009,603SCRA488,505506.
36Id.at506507.

37Eugeniov.People,G.R.No.168163,March26,2008,549SCRA433,447.

38Josonv.People,G.R.No.178836,July23,2008,559SCRA649,656citingPeoplev.Menil,Jr.394Phil.
433,452(2000).
39Minimum:4years,2monthsand1dayto5years,5monthsand10days

Medium:5years,5monthsand11daysto6years,8monthsand20days

Maximum:6years,8monthsand21daysto8years.

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