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429 Phil. 336

FIRST DIVISION

[ G.R. No. 128033, March 20, 2002 ]

GLORIA CHANGCO, PETITIONER, VS. HON. COURT OF APPEALS AND PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, RESPONDENTS.

D E C I S I O N

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

In an Information[1] filed before the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 1, petitioner Gloria Changco was charged with the crime of Estafa, allegedly committed as follows:
That on or about March 10, 1987, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud BETTY ROSALES in the following manner, to wit:  the said accused, by means of false manifestations and  fraudulent representations  which she made to said BETTY ROSALES to the effect that she had the power and capacity to recruit and employ the five (5) seamen applicants namely:  Ernesto G. Hervoso, Federico G. Tuazon, Jr., Randy T. Carrera, Nestor S. Carbolido, and Leomi T. Laurizo and could facilitate the processing of the pertinent papers if given the necessary amount to meet the requirements thereof, and by means of other similar deceit, induced and succeeded in inducing said BETTY ROSALES to give and deliver, as in fact she gave and  delivered to said accused the amount of P30,000.00 on the strength of said manifestations and representations, said accused well knowing that the same were false and fraudulent and were made solely to obtain, as in fact she did obtain the amount of P30,000.00 which amount once in possession, with intent to defraud, she willfully, unlawfully and feloniously misappropriated, misapplied and converted to her own personal use and benefit, to the damage and prejudice of said BETTY ROSALES in the aforesaid amount of P30,000.00, Philippine currency.

Contrary to law.
Petitioner pleaded not guilty when arraigned, and thereafter, the case proceeded to trial.

On May 22, 1990, a decision[2] was rendered, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, there being proof beyond reasonable doubt, this court convicts the accused Gloria Changco of estafa as defined under Article 315, par. 2 (a) of the Revised Penal Code and pursuant to law, sentences her to suffer an indeterminate prison term of four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional as minimum to eight (8)  years of prision mayor as maximum.  Further, she is ordered to indemnify the private complainant, Betty Rosales, the sum of P30,000.00 without subsidiary imprisonment in case of default and to pay the costs.

SO ORDERED.
Petitioner appealed the judgment of conviction to the Court of Appeals,[3] which affirmed the decision of the trial court.

Petitioner filed the instant petition for review raising the following issues:
FIRST.  Whether or not the trial court acquired jurisdiction over the case; and

SECOND.  Whether or not both the trial court and the respondent appellate court gravely abused their discretion in finding the petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Estafa as charged.
At the outset, it should be stressed that under the Rules of Court and the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, only questions of law may be raised in the petition for review to this Court and the same must be distinctly set forth.[4] Thus, this Court has uniformly held that the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is limited only to the review and revision of errors of law allegedly committed by the Court of Appeals.[5]

Despite petitioner’s assertion that the instant petition raises only questions of law, a disquisition of the issues raised reveals that petitioner actually seeks this Court’s reevaluation of the facts and evidence.  In fact, the issues raised herein are the very same questions of fact raised in the appeal before the Court of Appeals. Moreover, the petition does not clearly and distinctly set forth the errors of law allegedly committed by the Court of Appeals and the trial court.

For one, the resolution of the issue of lack of jurisdiction, which was raised for the first time on appeal, would necessitate an examination of the records and assaying the credibility of the witnesses to determine the veracity of their testimonies on the matter of where the offense was committed – whether in the City of Manila or Makati.  The same is not warranted since the Court of Appeals had already affirmed the trial court’s factual findings on the matter.  The second issue begs the Court to evaluate the evidence once more to determine whether or not the same is sufficient to support the conviction of petitioner.  The Court of Appeals had earlier fully concurred with the conclusion of the trial court that all the elements of the crime were present and that the prosecution’s evidence established without a shred of doubt the guilt of petitioner.

There is no mention of any law that was wrongly interpreted or applied by the lower courts despite the requirement under Rule 45  that the questions of law raised “must be  distinctly set forth.”  Petitioner’s mere allegation that only questions of law are raised in this petition cannot detract from the reality that the petition seeks a reexamination of the facts and evidence, as well as a reevaluation of the credibility of the witnesses, despite the findings of the Court of Appeals  that no error was committed by the trial court in this regard.

Basic and long-settled is the doctrine that findings of fact of the trial court, when affirmed by the Court of Appeals, are binding upon the Supreme Court.[6] It is not the function of the Supreme Court to weigh anew the evidence already passed upon by the Court of Appeals[7] for these are deemed final and conclusive and may not be reviewed on appeal.[8]

A departure from the general rule may be warranted where the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are contrary to the findings and conclusions of the trial court,[9] or when the same is unsupported by the evidence on record.[10] There is no ground to apply the exception in the instant case, however, because the findings and conclusions of the Court of Appeals are in full accord with those of the trial court. This Court will not assess and evaluate all over again the evidence, both testimonial and documentary, adduced by the parties to the appeal particularly where, as in this case, the findings of both the trial court and the Court of Appeals completely coincide.[11]

Furthermore, as the trial and appellate courts stated, the prosecution’s evidence positively proved petitioner’s guilt, even as her only defense was a simple denial.  Shifting the blame to her son as the true perpetrator of the fraud is clearly a desperate attempt to evade criminal liability.  The prosecution witnesses were positive and unequivocal in their testimonies against petitioner.  Thus, the findings of fact by the Court of Appeals cannot be disturbed since these findings are buttressed by the evidence on record.[12]

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 10046, convicting petitioner of the crime of Estafa under Article 315 (2) (a) of the Revised Penal Code, sentencing her to suffer an indeterminate prison term of four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional, as minimum, to eight (8) years of prision mayor, as maximum, and ordering her to indemnify Betty Rosales the sum of P30,000.00 is AFFIRMED.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J. (Chairman), and Kapunan, JJ., concur.
Puno, J., on official leave.



[1] Annex “A”, Rollo, pp. 23-24.

[2] Annex “B”, Rollo, pp. 25-28; penned by Judge Rebecca G. Salvador.

[3] CA-G.R. CR No. 10046.

[4] Rules of Court, Rule 45, Section 2, second paragraph; 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 45, Sec. 1.

[5] Fule v. Court of Appeals, 286 SCRA 698, 710-711  (1998); Villanueva v. Court of Appeals, 294 SCRA 90, 92-93 (1999); Siguan v. Lim, 318 SCRA 725, 735 (1999).

[6] Halili v. Court of Appeals, 287 SCRA 465, 470 (1998); Lagandaon v. Court of Appeals, 290 SCRA 330, 341 (1998).

[7] Gold Loop Properties, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 306 SCRA 639, 652 (1999).

[8] Gonzales v. Court of Appeals, 298 SCRA 322, 332 (1998).

[9] Republic v. Court of Appeals, 314 SCRA  230, 241 (1999).

[10] Alba Vda. de Raz v. Court of Appeals, 314 SCRA 36, 52 (1999).

[11] Olan v. Court of Appeals, 287 SCRA 504, 508-509 (1998).

[12] Ceremonia v. Court of Appeals, 314 SCRA 731, 739 (1999).

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