G.R. No. 233896. March 14, 2018


After reviewing the Petition and its annexes, inclusive of the Court of Appeals' (CA) Decision[1] dated April 7, 2017 and Resolution[2] dated August 29, 2017 in CA-G.R. CR No. 37300, and the Regional Trial Court's (RTC) Decision[3] dated September 24, 2013 in Criminal Case No. CR-10-9835, the Court resolves to DENY the Petition for failure of the petitioner to sufficiently show that the CA committed any reversible error in the challenged Decision and Resolution as to warrant the exercise of this Court's discretionary appellate jurisdiction.

FACTS: (1) accused Cheryl C. Elumba (Cheryl) misrepresented and falsely pretended to private complainants Liza Joy A. Ilagan (Liza Joy) and Edeliza A. Ilagan (Edeliza) that she had the means and connections with lawyers in the United States in order to secure a working visa in favor of Liza Joy; (2) petitioner knew about the agreement between Cheryl and Liza Joy, and assured Edeliza over the telephone that they could process all the necessary documents for Liza Joy's working visa, since they have all the connections; (3) petitioner gave her account number in the Sta. Rosa, Laguna branch of Metrobank to Edeliza where the latter had deposited the processing fee of P150,000.00; (4) without Liza Joy's or Edeliza's knowledge, Cheryl and petitioner had agreed that the latter would allot the said P150,000.00 for her personal use in lieu of the monthly allowance given to her by Cheryl; (5) the misrepresentation was made prior to depositing the said P150,000.00 to petitioner's account; (6)had it not been for the foregoing misrepresentations, Edeliza would have not parted with her money; and (7) Edeliza suffered damage when petitioner failed to return the money to her after finding out that Liza Joy's working visa application was not processed.

Thus, it correctly ruled that all of the elements of Estafa under Article 315(2)(a) of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) were present, with petitioner conspiring with Cheryl in committing the said offense, making petitioner's conviction proper.

As for the imposable penalty, the Court notes that Section 85 of Republic Act No. 10951 has amended Article 315 of the RPC, reducing, among others, the penalty for Estafa where the amount of the fraud is over P40,000.00 but does not exceed P1,200,000.00. Considering that the said provision is favorable to the accused, and that the amount of the fraud is P150,000.00, it should be given retroactive effect. Therefore, and in view of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, as well as the fact that there were no attendant mitigating or aggravating circumstances, petitioner should be, as she is hereby, sentenced to an indeterminate penalty ranging from twenty-one (21) days of arresto menor, as minimum, to one (1) year and eight (8) months of prision correccional, as maximum.

WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS WITH MODIFICATION the Decision dated April 7, 2017 and Resolution dated August 29, 2017 in CA-G.R. CR No. 37300. Petitioner Florita Cueto is hereby found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Estafa by means of deceit under Article 315(2)(a) of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and shall suffer the indeterminate penalty of IMPRISONMENT ranging from twenty-one (21) days of arresto menor, as minimum, to one (1) year and eight (8) months of prision correccional, as maximum. She is also ordered to pay private complainants Liza Joy A. Ilagan and Edeliza A. Ilagan the amount of ONE HUNDRED FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (P150,000.00), with legal interest at the rate of twelve percent (12%) per annum from the time of extrajudicial demand on January 5, 2010 until June 30, 2013, and six percent (6%) per annum from July 1, 2013 until full payment. Costs against petitioner.


[1]Rollo, pp. 62-73. Penned by Associate Justice Florito S. Macalino (now deceased), with Associate Justices Mariflor P. Punzalan Castillo and Maria Elisa Sempio Diy concurring.

[2]Id. at 95-96.

[3]Id. at 74-80. Penned by Judge Manuel C. Luna, Jr., RTC, Branch 39, Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro.