Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Elements of estafa by means of deceit, whether committed by false pretenses or concealment


“x x x.

2. Contrary to the submission of petitioner, false pretense and fraudulent acts attended her transaction with Moleta. The law explicitly provides that in the prosecution for Estafa under par. (2)(a), Art. 315 of the RPC, it is indispensable that the element of deceit, consisting in the false statement or fraudulent representation of the accused, be made prior to, or at least simultaneously with the commission of the fraud, it being essential that such false statement or representation constitutes the very cause or the only motive which induced the offended party to part with his money. Paragraph 2(a), Art. 315 of the RPC provides:

Art. 315. Swindling (estafa). – Any person who shall defraud another by any of the means mentioned hereinbelow 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:

x x x x

(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.

x x x x

The elements of estafa by means of deceit, whether committed by false pretenses or concealment, are the following: (a) there must be a false pretense, fraudulent act or fraudulent means; (b) such false pretense, fraudulent act or fraudulent means must be made or executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud; (c) 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; and (d) as a result thereof, the offended party suffered damage.28

As borne by the records, petitioner’s representations were outright distortions of the truth perpetrated for the sole purpose of inducing Moleta to hand to her the amount ofP320,000.00 purportedly for the Municipality of General Luna. Being the Municipal Treasurer, there was reason for Moleta to rely on petitioner’s representations that money is needed for the payment of the employees’ salary as well as for the construction of the gymnasium. There was also a ring of truth to the deception that the share of the municipality from the IRA is forthcoming. Added to this, petitioner’s representations were even supported by the issuance of three (3) LBP checks to guarantee payment taken from the account of the municipality and signed by no less than the municipal mayor, giving the impression that the loaned amount would indeed be utilized for public purposes.

As the court a quo correctly observed:

It is undisputed that Consigna obtained a loan from Moleta for the reason that the municipality lacked funds for the June 15, 1994 payroll of the employees and materials of the gymnasium. However, several circumstances point to the fact that Consigna’s representation has no basis.

She contradicted her own testimony that at the time she borrowed from Moleta on June 14, 1994, the municipality suffered a shortage of funds, with her admission that when she was relieved as a municipal treasurer, the Municipality had more than 1 million in Land Bank from the IRA of P600,000.00 a month for the past three months x x x. This means that when she left her post before the second week of July x x x, the municipality had money from the April to June 1994 IRA, enough to meet the need of P320,000.00. x x x29

The circumstances and the reason behind the issuance of the three (3) checks given to Moleta by petitioner was testified to by Rusillon:

He was the incumbent mayor of the Municipality of General Luna, Surigao del Norte, in 1994. In the morning of June 14, 1994, he received the amount of P268,800.00 from accused Consigna, as evidenced by a voucher (Exh. 1) signed by him on the same day. The money was to be used for the purchase of materials for the gymnasium of the municipality which construction started in 1992. After signing the voucher, he ordered Consigna to prepare a check for P130,000.00 (Exh. 2) for the June 15, 1994 payroll of the municipality’s employees. After the check was prepared, he again ordered Consigna to make another two checks, one for P130,000.00 (Exh. 3) dated June 14, 1994 intended for the expenses of the municipal building and for the daily transactions of the municipality in the following days, and the other check was for P60,000.00 (Exh. 4) dated July 11, 1994 for the purchase of medicines for the municipality’s health office. The latter check was postdated to July because it would be charged against the IRA in the 3rd quarter of 1994 since they bought medicines at that time on a quarterly basis as the budget allowed only P240,000.00 per year for such expenditure."30

X x x.”