G.R. No. 233373. November 20, 2017


Section 3(e), Rule 122 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure, in relation to Section 2, Rule 45 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, provides that a losing party may file a petition for review on certiorari within 15 days from receipt of the notice of the decision appealed from or of the denial of the party's motion for reconsideration. In the present case, Mustera received the order denying her motion for reconsideration on August 11, 2017, thus, she had until August 26, 2017 to file a verified petition for review on certiorari. As the due date fell on a Saturday, Mustera had until the immediate following Monday or August 28, 2017 to file her petition. However, instead of filing a petition, Mustera asked for a 30-day extension to file a petition. Thus, reckoned from the original period, Mustera had until September 25, 2017 within which to file a petition. As the instant petition was filed on September 26, 2017, the petition, therefore, was filed out of time.

The fact that the petition was filed one (1) day after the due date is of no moment. It is a well-entrenched doctrine that the right to appeal is a statutory right and the one who seeks to avail that right must comply with the rules, as the requirement for perfecting an appeal within the reglementary period is not only mandatory but jurisdictional. In several cases, the Court has relaxed the application of the rules in the interest of substantial justice. However, the exception does not obtain in the present case. Mustera, despite the 30-day extension granted by the Court, was remiss in her duty and still failed to file the petition on time.

In any case, even if we absolve the one-day delay in the filing of the petition, the instant petition must fail. As correctly resolved by the CA, all the elements of estafa by means of deceit are present. To prove the crime of estafa by means of deceit, under paragraph 2(a), Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code, the following elements must concur:

[1] There must be a false pretense, fraudulent act or fraudulent means;
[2] Such false pretense, fraudulent act or fraudulent means must be made or executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud; 
[3] The offended party must have relied on the false pretense, fraudulent act or fraudulent means and was thus induced to part with his money or property; and 
[4] As a result thereof, the offended party suffered damage.

Mustera falsely represented that she had the power and influence to cause the release of Zaldy from detention and the dismissal of the charge of rape, a non-bailable offense. Mustera's false pretense and fraudulent representation was committed prior to, or simultaneous with, the commission of fraud when she guaranteed that the case against Zaldy would be dismissed and Zaldy will be subsequently released from detention upon payment by Spouses Mirasol of a certain amount of money. Due to Mustera's false representation, Spouses Mirasol were induced to part with their money, which caused them to suffer damages.

With regard to the penalty, the Court modifies the same in view of the amendments pursuant to Republic Act No. 10951. Under Section 85 of R.A. No. 10951, the prescribed penalty for estafa by means of deceit under paragraph 2(a), Article 315 of the RPC, as amended, are as follows:
Art. 315. Swindling (estafa).— Any person who shall defraud another by any of the means mentioned herein below shall be punished by:

"1st. The penalty of prision correctional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its minimum period, if the amount of the fraud is over Two million four hundred thousand pesos (P2,400,000) but does not exceed Four million four hundred thousand pesos (P4,400,000), and if such amount exceeds the latter sum, the penalty provided in this paragraph shall be imposed in its maximum period, adding one year for each additional Two million pesos (P2,000,000); but the total penalty which may be imposed shall not exceed twenty years. In such cases, and in connection with the accessory penalties which may be imposed and for the purpose of the other provisions of this Code, the penalty shall be termed prision mayor or reclusion temporal, as the case may be.

"2nd The penalty of prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods, if the amount of the fraud is over One million two hundred thousand pesos (Pl,200,000) but does not exceed Two million four hundred thousand pesos (P2,400,000).

"3rd. The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period, if such amount is over Forty thousand pesos (P40,000) but does not exceed One million two hundred thousand pesos (P1,200,000).

"4th. By arresto mayor in its medium and maximum periods, if such amount does not exceed Forty thousand pesos (P40,000): Provided, That in the four cases mentioned, the fraud be committed by any of the following means:

xxx. [Emphasis supplied]
As the amount involved in this case is Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00), the imposable penalty should be arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period, or imprisonment of four (4) months and one (1) day to two (2) years and four (4) months. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the imposable penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period, there being no aggravating circumstance, shall be reduced by one degree, which is arresto mayor in its minimum to medium periods. The minimum period of the indeterminate penalty shall be taken, therefore, from the full range of the penalty, which is 1 month and 1 day to 4 months. (Zenaida Mustera v. People of the Philippines. G.R. No. 233373, November 20, 2017)

[1] Section 3(e), Rule 122, Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure; Section 2, Rule 45, Rules of Court.
[2] De la Cruz v. Maersk Filipinos Crewing, Inc., et al., G.R. No. 172038, April 14, 2008.
[3] De Leon v. Hercules Agro Industrial Corporation, et al., G.R. No. 183239, June 2, 2014.
[4] Franco v. People, G.R. No. 171328, February 16, 2011.