Computation of legal interest in crimes

CASE DIGEST: ROSALINA MANERO, Petitioner, v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents. G.R. No. 217988, August 05, 2015.

The petitioner's motion for an extension of thirty (30) days within which to file a petition for review on certiorari is GRANTED, counted from the expiration of the reglementary period.

The petitioner appeals the decision promulgated on October 30, 2014,[1] whereby the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the judgment rendered on July 5, 2011 by the Regional Trial Court, Branch 95, in Quezon City (RTC) upholding her conviction for several counts of violation of Batas Pambansa Big. 22 by the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC), Branch 36, in Quezon City, on October 19, 2009.

It was established during the trial that the petitioner had received the amount of P340,000.00 from VFH Lending Resources (VFH Lending) in the form of a loan, for which she had issued as payment sixteen (16) Prudential Bank postdated checks on two dates; that the checks were dishonored upon presentment because the drawer's account had already been closed; that Rico Gera, VFH Lending's liaison officer and credit investigator, had gone to her to collect, but she had only promised to pay; that she ultimately did not pay as promised; and that on October 2, 1998, Gera served her the demand letter dated October 1, 1998, but she refused to receive the letter.

On October 19, 2009, the MeTC found counts of the violation of B.P. Blg. 22 as charged count to pay a fine equivalent to the amounts of the checks involved with subsidiary imprisonment in case of her insolvency. The MeTC ordered her to the pay to VFH Lending the total value of the checks plus 12% per annum interest from the filing of the informations until the amounts were fully paid.

On appeal, the RTC affirmed the convictions of the petitioner.

After the RTC denied the petitioner's motion for reconsideration, she on appealed to the CA (CA-G.R. CR No. 34608), which upheld the RTC on October 30, 2014.

In upholding the petitioner's convictions, the CA observed that Gera's testimony established the personal service of the notice of dishonor on the petitioner; that the petitioner failed to show that she had made her factual admission on cross examination through palpable mistake; and that the admission could be used against her without need of further proof.

The petitioner sought the reconsideration of the decision, but the CA denied her motion for reconsideration.

Hence, this appeal, with the petitioner still insisting that the Prosecution did not establish all the elements of the violation of B.P. Big. 22; that although she could have been notified of the dishonor of her checks, the manner by which she had been so notified did not accord with the requirements prescribed for that purpose by the law and jurisprudence; and that there was then no proof that she had received any written notice of dishonor.

The Supreme Court DENIED the petition for review on certiorari.The petitioner's appeal is anchored on the lack of written notice of dishonor to her, which notice was an element of the offenses charged. However, the presence or absence of an element of the crime, not being a question of law but of fact,[12] is best left to the trial court by virtue of its unique opportunity to assess and evaluate the witnesses' demeanor while they were testifying, and should not be passed upon by this Court on appeal by certiorari.[13] The Court will not disturb the trial court's findings on the events and transaction that transpired between the parties because it is not a trier of facts, unless compelling reasons to do so are persuasively shown.[14]

There is, however, the need to modify the award of interest made by the MeTC in order to conform to BSP-MB Circular No. 799, series of 2013, issued by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Monetary Board to adjust the legal rate of interest to 6% per annum commencing on July 1, 2013. Conformably with the ruling in Nacar v. Gallery Frames,[15] all amounts that the petitioner should restitute to VFH Lending should earn interest at the rate of 12% per annum from the filing of the informations until June 30, 2013, and at the rate of 6% per annum from July 1, 2013 until the finality of this decision; and all monetary awards, including the accrued interest, shall further earn interest of 6% per annum from the finality of this decision until full satisfaction.

WHEREFORE, the Supreme Court DENIED the petition for review on certiorari; and AFFIRMED the decision promulgated on October 30, 2014 by the Court of Appeals in C.A.-G.R. CR No. 34608 subject to the MODIFICATIONS that the petitioner shall pay: (a) interest on all the amounts that she should restitute to VFH Lending Resources at the rate of 12% per annum reckoned from the filing of the informations until June 30, 2013, and at the rate of 6% per annum from July 1, 2013 until the finality of this decision; (b) interest at the rate of 6% per annum on all the monetary awards, inclusive of their accrued interest, from the finality of judgment until full satisfaction; and (c) the costs of suit.

[1] Rollo, pp. 34-41; penned by Associate Justice Francisco P. Acosta, and concurred in by Associate Justice Fernanda Lampas-Peralta and Associate Justice Myra V. Garcia-Fernandez.
[12] Clay & Feather International, Inc. v. Lichaytoo, G.R. No. 193105, May 30, 2011, 649 SCRA 516, 526.
[13] People v. Tan, G.R. No. 116200-02, June 21, 2001, 359 SCRA 283, 300.
[14] Dela Cruz v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 85450, July 3, 1990, 187 SCRA 165, 170.
[15] G.R. No. 189871, August 13,2013,703 SCRA 439, 456.