Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Estafa - G.R. No. 161651

G.R. No. 161651

"x x x.

Article 315(2)(a) of the Revised Penal Code lists the ways by which estafa may be committed, which includes:

Art. 315. Swindling (estafa). – x x x.

x x x x

2. By means of any of the following false pretenses or fraudulent acts executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud:

(a) By using fictitious name, or falsely pretending to possess power, influence, qualifications, property, credit, agency, business or imaginary transactions; or by means of other similar deceits.

The elements of the felony are as follows:

1. That there must be a false pretense, fraudulent act or fraudulent means.

2. That such false pretense, fraudulent act or fraudulent means must be made or executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud.

3. That the offended party must have relied on the false pretense, fraudulent act, or fraudulent means, that is, he was induced to part with his money or property because of the false pretense, fraudulent act, or fraudulent means.

4. That as a result thereof, the offended party suffered damage.[17]

We agree with the finding of the trial court that the transaction involving the Bacoor property was a continuation of the transaction involving parcels of land in Muntinlupa, Metro Manila. When Lucero discovered that Elca’s certificates of title over the Muntinlupa property were fake, Elca offered, as substitute, the 5-hectare portion of his purported 14-hectare lot in Bacoor, Cavite, but asked for an additional P2,000,000.00, in this wise:

Dear Ms. Lucero:

This is with reference to the advances we had obtained from you in the total amount of P4.7 million, more or less. It was agreed that the said advances shall be due and demandable upon the release of titles over my parcels of land situated in Muntinlupa, Metro Manila of which we are presently working out with appropriate government agencies. Your current demand fro[m] us to pay the aforesaid amount plus your unilaterally imposed interests is therefore premature and baseless.

However, with regards to your alternative demand that you be given a total of 5 hectares (2 has. upon signing of an agreement assigning my rights and additional 3 has. upon complete release of the remaining 14 hectares) please be informed that I am now amenable, provided that an additional P2.0 million will be paid to me to take care of my other personal commitments. These 5 hectares are situated in Malipay, Bacoor, Cavite with a portion of Lot 10140 of Plan Sgs-04213-000441-D. I am expecting the title of said property early next year. The current market [valuation] of real estate properties in that area is P450.00 per square meter and hence, the property will be more [than] sufficient to cover our obligates (sic).

Please be guided accordingly.

Very truly yours,


Francisco N. Elca

Bo. Katihan, Poblacion

Muntinlupa, Metro Manila[18]

As it turned out, Elca did not own 14 hectares in Bacoor, Cavite. He merely had an inchoate right over the Bacoor property, derived from his Application to Purchase Friar Lands, which covered only 7 hectares.[19] Elca’s application was later amended to cover only 4 hectares, in view of the protest by Alfredo Salenga (Salenga).[20] Clearly, Elca was in no position to transfer ownership of the 5-hectare Bacoor property at the time petitioners offered it to Lucero.

In Alcantara v. Court of Appeals,[21] this Court, citing People v. Balasa,[22] explained the meaning of fraud and deceit, viz.:

[F]raud in its general sense is deemed to comprise anything calculated to deceive, including all acts, omissions, and concealment involving a breach of legal or equitable duty, trust, or confidence justly reposed, resulting in damage to another, or by which an undue and unconscientious advantage is taken of another. It is a generic term embracing all multifarious means which human ingenuity can device, and which are resorted to by one individual to secure an advantage over another by false suggestions or by suppression of truth and includes all surprise, trick, cunning, dissembling and any unfair way by which another is cheated. And deceit is the false representation of a matter of fact whether by words or conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or by concealment of that which should have been disclosed which deceives or is intended to deceive another so that he shall act upon it to his legal injury.

Indubitably, petitioners’ parody that Elca owned 14 hectares in Bacoor, Cavite, and was offering a 5-hectare portion of it, in substitution of the Muntinlupa property, and demanding an additional P2,000,000.00 from Lucero, constituted fraud and deceit.

x x x."