Sunday, April 22, 2012

Falsification; good faith not appreciated - G.R. No. 186030

G.R. No. 186030

"x x x.

Even granting that the present petition may be admitted, we find no cogent reason to reverse the CA decision appealed from, considering that the elements of the crime of falsification under Art. 171, par. 4 of the Revised Penal Code, in relation to Art. 172 thereof, were duly proved during the proceedings below.  Said elements are as follows:

(a)        The offender makes in a public document untruthful statements in a narration of facts;
(b)       The offender has a legal obligation to disclose the truth of the facts narrated by him; and
(c)        The facts narrated by the offender are absolutely false.[21]

These elements are based on the provisions of Art. 172, in relation to Art. 171, par. 4, of the Revised Penal Code, which reads:

Art. 171. Falsification by public officer, employee or notary or ecclesiastical minister. – The penalty of prision mayor and a fine not to exceed P5,000 pesos shall be imposed upon any public officer, employee, or notary who, taking advantage of his official position, shall falsify a document by committing any of the following acts:

x x x

4.  Making untruthful statements in narration of facts;

x x x

Art. 172. Falsification by private individual and use of falsified documents. – The penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods and a fine of not more than P5,000 pesos shall be imposed upon:

1.      Any private individual who shall commit any of the falsifications enumerated in the next preceding article in any public or official document or letter of exchange or any other kind of commercial document; and
2.      Any person who, to the damage of a third party, or with the intent to cause such damage, shall in any private document commit any of the acts of falsification enumerated in the next preceding article.

x x x

The material document claimed to be falsified in this case is the Deed of Succession dated July 19, 1991, the presentation of which before the Register of Deeds and other government agencies allowed the cancellation of OCT No. P-22848, and the issuance of several new titles in its stead.  The first and third elements were committed by the inclusion in the subject deed of the clause that states, “(w)hereas, the parties hereto are the only heirs of the decedent, the first name, is the surviving spouse and the rest are the children of the decedent.”[22]  The untruthfulness of said statement is clear from the several other documents upon which, ironically, the petitioners anchor their defense, such as the deed of extrajudicial partition dated October 29, 1979, the parties’ confirmation of subdivision, deed of exchange and Norma’s petition for guardianship of her then minor children.  Specifically mentioned in these documents is the fact that Corazon is also a daughter, thus an heir, of the late Rafael.

The obligation of the petitioners to speak only the truth in their deed of succession is clear, taking into account the very nature of the document falsified.  The deed, which was transformed into a public document upon acknowledgement before a notary public, required only truthful statements from the petitioners.  It was a legal requirement to effect the cancellation of the original certificate of title and the issuance of new titles by the Register of Deeds.  The false statement made in the deed greatly affected the indefeasibility normally accorded to titles over properties brought under the coverage of land registration, to the injury of Corazon who was deprived of her right as a landowner, and the clear prejudice of third persons who would rely on the land titles issued on the basis of the deed.

We cannot subscribe to the petitioners’ claim of good faith because several documents prove that they knew of the untruthful character of their statement in the deed of succession.  The petitioners’ alleged good faith is disputed by their prior confirmation and recognition of Corazon’s right as an heir, because despite knowledge of said fact, they included in the deed a statement to the contrary.  The wrongful intent to injure Corazon is clear from their execution of the deed, showing a desire to appropriate only unto themselves the subject parcel of land.  Corazon was unduly deprived of what was due her not only under the provisions of the law on succession, but also under contracts that she had previously executed with the petitioners.
 x x x."