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811 Phil. 66

FIRST DIVISION

[ G.R. No. 192391, June 19, 2017 ]

ESTATE OF HONORIO POBLADOR, JR., REPRESENTED BY RAFAEL A. POBLADOR, PETITIONER, VS. ROSARIO L. MANZANO, RESPONDENT.

D E C I S I O N

PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:

Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari[1] assailing the Decision[2] dated September 30, 2009 and the Resolution[3] dated May 26, 2010 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 78891 that denied the appeal of petitioner Estate of Honorio Poblador, Jr. (petitioner), represented by Rafael A. Poblador (Rafael), from the Order[4] dated January 13, 2003 of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 157 (RTC). Petitioner appealed the civil aspect of the dismissed criminal case for Estafa which it filed against respondent Rosario L. Manzano (Manzano).

The Facts


Petitioner was the subject of settlement proceedings in Special Proceedings No. 9984 before the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City (Probate Court). Among its properties was one share of stock in Wack-Wack Golf and Country Club, Inc. (Wack-Wack Share) covered by membership Certificate No. 3759 issued on September 17, 1974.[5]

In an Order dated May 10, 1996, the Probate Court authorized petitioner's administratrix, Elsa A. Poblador (Elsa), to negotiate the sale of certain properties of petitioner, including the Wack-Wack Share. Upon Elsa's instruction, Rafael (one of the heirs of the deceased Honorio Poblador, Jr.) looked for interested buyers. Subsequently, he engaged the services of Manzano, a broker of Metroland Holdings Incorporated (Metroland)[6] who, on September 9, 1996, faxed a computation for the sale of the Wack-Wack Share to petitioner,[7] showing a final net amount of P15,000,000.00. On September 18, 1996,[8] the final net amount to the seller was increased to P15,200,000.00.

Manzano later introduced Rafael to Moreland Realty, Inc. (Moreland), and in September 1996, the parties entered into a Deed of Absolute Sale[9] with Elsa covering the Wack-Wack Share for the gross amount of P18,000,000.00. Out of the P18,000,000.00 purchase price, Moreland directly paid Elsa the amount of P15,200,000.00 through a Metrobank check.[10] The balance of P2,800,000.00 was allegedly given to Manzano for the payment of the capital gains tax, documentary stamp tax, and other pertinent fees, as well as for her service fee.[11]

In October 1996, however, the Probate Court annulled the sale of the Wack-Wack Share. Thus, Elsa returned to Moreland the amount of P18,000,000.00 which the latter paid for the Wack-Wack Share, plus interest, and applied with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for the refund of the taxes paid for the annulled sale. Petitioner likewise asked Manzano to return the broker's service fee.[12]

Meanwhile, Rafael, through petitioner's accountant, Nonilo P. Torres (Torres), allegedly requested Manzano for an accounting of the P2,800,000.00 she received on behalf of petitioner. In response, Manzano faxed the following documents addressed to Torres: (a) Cover letter dated February 4, 1997;[13] (b) Capital Gains Tax Return dated September 23, 1996 indicating the payment of P1,480,000.00 as capital gains tax;[14] (c) BIR Certification dated September 23, 1996 indicating the payment of P1,480,000.00 as capital gains tax;[15] (d) Authority to Accept Payment dated September 23, 1996 indicating the payment of P135,000.00 as documentary stamp tax;[16] and (e) Deed of Absolute Sale between petitioner, represented by Elsa, and Moreland.[17] Examining these documents, Rafael and Torres allegedly noticed a discrepancy in the faxed Capital Gains Tax Return: while the typewritten portion of the Return indicated P1,480,000.00 as the capital gains tax paid, the machine validation imprint reflected only P80,000.00 as the amount paid. To clarify the discrepancy, petitioner secured a certified true copy of the Capital Gains Tax Return from the BIR that reflected only P80,000.00 as the capital gains tax paid for the sale of the Wack-Wack Share.[18] As a result, petitioner demanded[19] Manzano to properly account for the P2,800,000.00 allegedly given to her for the payment of taxes and broker's fees, but to no avail.[20] This led to the filing, on December 8, 1999, of an Information[21] for the crime of Estafa under Article 315, paragraph (1) (b) of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) against Manzano before the RTC, docketed as Crim. Case No. 113549.[22] In the course of the proceedings, Manzano filed a Demurrer to Evidence[23] praying for the dismissal of the case for failure of the prosecution to establish the essential elements of Estafa with which she was charged.[24]

The RTC Ruling


In an Order[25] dated January 13, 2003, the RTC granted Manzano's Demurrer to Evidence and dismissed the complaint for Estafa for failure of the prosecution to "prove all the elements of estafa through misappropriation as defined in and penalized under paragraph 1 (b)[, Article 315] of the Revised Penal Code, x x x."[26] The RTC found that the element of deceit was absent, considering that both Manzano and Rafael were equally guilty of defrauding the government of taxes actually due on the transaction. It pointed out that Rafael knew and concurred with the plan, including the special arrangements that had to be made with the BIR, as long as the estate would receive a higher net proceed from the sale. In fact, petitioner received in full the agreed net sale proceeds of P15,200,000.00. Finally, it held that Manzano was entitled to her broker's fee in the amount of P900,000.00 as she was commissioned and successfully closed the transaction for petitioner.[27]

Dissatisfied, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration[28] which the RTC denied in an Order[29] dated March 11, 2003. Hence, petitioner appealed the civil aspect of the case before the CA.

The CA Ruling


In a Decision[30] dated September 30, 2009, the CA denied petitioner's appeal, declaring that the prosecution did not only fail to prove all the elements of Estafa through misappropriation;[31] it also failed to prove the alleged civil liability of Manzano in the amount of P2,800,000.00.[32]

It found that the prosecution's evidence failed to show that Manzano personally received the P2,800,000.00 earmarked for the payment of taxes and broker's fees.[33] At most, such evidence only proved that Manzano tried to help broker and negotiate the sale of the Wack-Wack Share.[34] In fact, Rafael himself admitted that he was unsure if Manzano indeed received the P2,800,000.00. Neither could he state the date when she supposedly received the same.[35]

Moreover, the CA stressed that: (a) petitioner readily admitted receipt of the full amount of P15,200,000.00 – the amount agreed upon in the computation sent by Manzano – for the sale of the Wack-Wack Share which was paid with a check by the buyer, Moreland Realty, Inc., and acknowledged by Elsa A. Poblador;[36] (b) Rafael made a categorical admission that he did not even know who actually paid the taxes to the BIR and that the name of Manzano did not appear in the documents with respect to the payment of the capital gains tax and documentary stamp tax;[37] and (c) petitioner knew that Manzano was merely an employee of Metroland, who talked to and negotiated with it in such capacity, and with whom it would not have dealt with had she not been Metroland's employee.[38]

Finally, the CA observed that this is a case of pari delicto, as petitioner's predicament would have been avoided if only Rafael sought the permission and approval of the Probate Court prior to the sale of the Wack-Wack Share.[39]

Aggrieved, petitioner sought reconsideration,[40] which the CA denied in a Resolution[41] dated May 26, 2010; hence, this petition.

The Issue Before the Court


The core issue in this case is whether or not the CA erred in denying petitioner's appeal on the civil liability ex delicto of Manzano.

The Court's Ruling


The petition lacks merit.

It is a fundamental rule that "[t]he acquittal of the accused does not automatically preclude a judgment against him on the civil aspect of the case. The extinction of the penal action does not carry with it the extinction of the civil liability where: (a) the acquittal is based on reasonable doubt as only preponderance of evidence is required; (b) the court declares that the liability of the accused is only civil; and (c) the civil liability of the accused does not arise from or is not based upon the crime of which the accused is acquitted. However, the civil action based on delict may be deemed extinguished if there is a finding on the final judgment in the criminal action that the [prosecution absolutely failed to prove the guilt of the accused, or the] act or omission from which the civil liability may arise did not exist, or where the accused did not commit the acts or omission imputed to him."[42]

In the fairly recent case of Dy v. People,[43] the Court discussed the concept of civil liability ex delicto in Estafa cases under paragraph 1 (b), Article 315 of the RPC (with which Manzano was likewise charged), stating that when the element of misappropriation or conversion is absent, there can be no Estafa and concomitantly, the civil liability ex delicto does not exist. Particularly, the Court said:

Our laws penalize criminal fraud which causes damage capable of pecuniary estimation through estafa under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code. In general, the elements of estafa are:

(1) That the accused defrauded another (a) by abuse of confidence, or (b) by means of deceit; and

(2) That damage or prejudice capable of pecuniary estimation is caused to the offended party or third person.


The essence of the crime is the unlawful abuse of confidence or deceit in order to cause damage. As this Court previously held, "the element of fraud or bad faith is indispensable." Our law abhors the act of defrauding another person by abusing his trust or deceiving him, such that, it criminalizes this kind of fraud.

Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code identifies the circumstances which constitute estafa. Article 315, paragraph 1 (b) states that estafa is committed by abuse of confidence —

Art. 315. Swindling (estafa). ... (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.


In this kind of estafa, the fraud which the law considers as criminal is the act of misappropriation or conversion. When the element of misappropriation or conversion is missing, there can be no estafa. In such case, applying the foregoing discussions on civil liability ex delicto, there can be no civil liability as there is no act or omission from which any civil liability may be sourced. However, when an accused is acquitted because a reasonable doubt exists as to the existence of misappropriation or conversion, then civil liability may still be awarded. This means that, while there is evidence to prove fraud, such evidence does not suffice to convince the court to the point of moral certainty that the act of fraud amounts to estafa. As the act was nevertheless proven, albeit without sufficient proof justifying the imposition of any criminal penalty, civil liability exists.[44]


The Court further clarified that "whenever the elements of estafa are not established, and that the delivery of any personal property was made pursuant to a contract, any civil liability arising from the estafa cannot be awarded in the criminal case. This is because the civil liability arising from the contract is not civil liability ex delicto, which arises from the same act or omission constituting the crime. Civil liability ex delicto is the liability sought to be recovered in a civil action deemed instituted with the criminal case."[45]

In this case, the Court agrees with the findings of both the RTC and the CA that the prosecution failed to prove all the elements of estafa through misappropriation as defined in, and penalized under, paragraph 1 (b), [Article 315] of the [RPC].[46] As the RTC aptly noted, Rafael, as the representative of herein petitioner, very well knew of and concurred with the entire arrangement, including those which had to be made with the BIR. In fact, petitioner itself admitted that it received the full amount of P15,200,000.00 – the full amount to which it was entitled to under the terms of the sale of the Wack-Wack Share. For these reasons, petitioner could not claim that it was deceived. Thus, absent the element of fraud, there could be no misappropriation or conversion to speak of that would justify the charge of Estafa and, with it, the alleged civil liability ex delicto.

More significantly, the CA correctly observed that petitioner's evidence utterly failed to show that Manzano personally received the P2,800,000.00 from petitioner with the duty to hold it in trust for or to make delivery to the latter. In fact, Rafael categorically admitted that he did not even know who actually paid the taxes to the BIR, and that Manzano's name did not appear in the documents pertaining to the payment of the capital gains tax and documentary stamp tax.[47] This admission clearly contradicts the disputable presumption under Section 3 (q) of Rule 131 of the Rules of Court, i.e., that the ordinary course of business has been followed, which petitioner adamantly relies on to support its claim.

A presumption is an assumption of fact resulting from a rule of law which requires such fact to be assumed from another fact or group of facts found or otherwise established in the action.[48] It is an inference of the existence or non-existence of a fact which courts are permitted to draw from proof of other facts.[49] However, a presumption is not evidence,[50] but merely affects the burden of offering evidence.[51] Under Section 3, Rule 131, disputable presumptions are satisfactory, if uncontradicted, but may be contradicted and overcome by other evidence, as in this case. Apart from Rafael's admission, petitioner further admitted that: (a) Moreland directly paid Metroland the P2,800,000.00 in check although it did not actually see and was unaware to whom Moreland gave this check;[52] (b) it did not ask Moreland to issue the check for the payment of the taxes directly in the name of the BIR;[53] (c) it would not have dealt with Manzano had she not been Metroland's employee;[54] and (d) it has several lawyers and an accountant at its disposal, and its representative Rafael is, in fact, in the real estate business and is familiar with brokerage transactions.[55]

With these admissions and under these circumstances, it is thus safe to conclude that the parties deliberately deviated from the ordinary course of business, and that – at the very least – Manzano did not deal with it in bad faith. By and large, petitioner failed to prove even by preponderance of evidence[56] the existence of any act or omission of Manzano that would support its claim of civil liability ex delicto. In consequence, the present petition must fail.

As a final point, it deserves mentioning that in petitions for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, only questions of law are addressed. It is not the Court's function to analyze or weigh the evidence (which tasks belong to the trial court as the trier of facts and to the appellate court as the reviewer of facts). The Court is confined to the review of errors of law that may have been committed in the judgment under review.[57] "The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in cases brought to it from the Court of Appeals is limited to reviewing and revising the errors of law imputed to it, its findings of fact being conclusive."[58]

All told, the Court finds no reversible error in the CA ruling denying petitioner's appeal as its findings and conclusion are well supported by the facts and are founded in law.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision dated September 30, 2009 and the Resolution dated May 26, 2010 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 78891 are hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

Sereno, C.J, (Chairperson), Leonardo-De Castro, Del Castillo, and Caguioa, JJ., concur.



[1] Rollo, pp. 13-42.

[2] Id. at 46-57. Penned by then Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza (now a member of this Court) with Associate Justices Myrna Dimaranan-Vidal and Antonio L. Villamor concurring.

[3] Id. at 59. Penned by Associate Justice Antonio L. Villamor with Associate Justices Jose C. Reyes, Jr. and Fiorito S. Macalino concurring.

[4] CA rollo, pp. 21-25. Penned by Judge Esperanza Fabon-Victorino.

[5] Rollo, p. 17.

[6] Id.

[7] Id. at 60.

[8] Id. at 61.

[9] Id. at 62.

[10] See acknowledgment receipt; id. at 63.

[11] Id. at 18.

[12] Id. at 18-19. See also CA rollo, p. 22.

[13] Id. at 64.

[14] Id. at 65.

[15] Id. at 66.

[16] Id. at 67.

[17] Id. at 19-20 and 62.

[18] Id. at 20.

[19] Id. at 69-70.

[20] Id. at 20-21.

[21] CA rollo, pp. 26-27.

[22] Rollo, p. 21.

[23] Not attached to the rollo.

[24] Rollo, p. 47.

[25] CA rollo, pp. 21-25.

[26] Id. at 25.

[27] Id. at 23-25.

[28] Not attached to the rollo.

[29] CA rollo, p. 13.

[30] Rollo, pp. 46-57.

[31] Id. at 52.

[32] Id. at 54.

[33] Id.

[34] Id. at 55.

[35] Id. at 54, citing Transcript of Stenographic Notes (TSN) dated September 22, 1999 (pp. 41-42) and October 26, 2000 (p. 4).

[36] Id. at 55.

[37] Id. at 56.

[38] Id.

[39] Id.

[40] Dated October 22, 2009; CA rollo, pp. 240-255.

[41] Rollo, p. 59. Penned by Associate Justice Antonio L. Villamor with Associate Justices Jose C. Reyes, Jr. and Fiorito S. Macalino concurring.

[42] Dayap v. Sendiong, 597 Phil. 127, 141 (2009). Citations omitted.

[43] G.R. No. 189081, August 10, 2016.

[44] Id. Citation omitted.

[45] Id.

[46] Rollo, p. 50.

[47] Rollo, p. 54. See also TSN, August 24, 2000, pp. 22-23; and May 2, 2001, pp. 11-12.

[48] Black's Law Dictionary, 5th Ed., 1067 citing Uniform Rule 13; NJ Evidence Rule 13.

[49] See Delgado vda. de Da la Rosa v. Heirs of Marciana Rustia vda. de Damian, 516 Phil. 130, 145 (2006).

[50] See Riano, Evidence (The Bar Lecture Series), (2009), p. 427, citing California Evidence Code in Black's Law Dictionary, 5th Ed., 1167.

[51] See Riano, Evidence (The Bar Lecture Series), (2009), p. 427, citing 1 Wharton's Criminal Evidence, Sec. 64.

[52] TSN, September 22, 1999, pp. 41-42; and October 26, 2000, p. 4

[53] TSN, October 26, 2000, pp. 11-12

[54] TSN, October 26, 2000, pp. 10-12.

[55] TSN, September 22, 1999, pp. 43-44; and August 24, 2000, pp. 2-4 and 13.

[56] Section 1, Rule 131 of the Rules of Court defines "burden of proof"' as "the duty of a party to present evidence on the facts in issue necessary to establish his claim or defense by the amount of evidence required by law." In civil cases, the burden of proof rests upon the plaintiff, who is required to establish his case by a preponderance of evidence. Once the plaintiff has established his case, the burden of evidence shifts to the defendant, who, in tum, has the burden to establish his defense. (See Sps. De Leon v. Bank of the Philippine Islands, 721 Phil. 839, 848 (2013), citing Aznar v. Citibank, N.A., (Philippines), 548 Phil. 218, 230 (2007) and Jison v. CA, 350 Phil. 138, 173 (1998); and Far East Bank & Trust Company v. Chante, 719 Phil. 221 [2013]).

[57] See Far Eastern Surety and Insurance Co, Inc. v. People of the Philippines, 721 Phil. 760, 769 (2013).

[58] See id. at 770, citing Chan v. CA, 144 Phil. 678, 684 (1970), in Remalante v. Tibe, 241 Phil. 930, 935 (1988).

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