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FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 102784. February 28, 1996.]

ROSA LIM, Petitioner, v. COURT OF APPEALS and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents.

Zosa & Quijano Law Offices for Petitioner.

The Solicitor General for Respondents.

SYLLABUS

1. CIVIL LAW; OBLIGATIONS AND CONTRACTS; CONTRACTS ARE OBLIGATORY IN WHATEVER FORM ENTERED;
PLACE OF SIGNATURE IMMATERIAL; PARTY BOUND THEREON THE MOMENT SHE AFFIXED HER SIGNATURE.
— Rosa Lim’s signature indeed appears on the upper portion of the receipt immediately below the description of the items
taken. We find that this fact does not have the effect of altering the terms of the transaction from a contract of agency to
sell on commission basis to a contract of sale. Neither does it indicate absence or vitiation of consent thereto on the part
of Rosa Lim which would make the contract void or voidable. The moment she affixed her signature thereon, petitioner
became bound by all the terms stipulated in the receipt. She, thus, opened herself to all the legal obligations that may
arise from their breach. This is clear from Article 1356 of the New Civil Code which provides: "Contracts shall be
obligatory in whatever form they may have been entered into, provided all the essential requisites for their validity are
present." In the case before us, the parties did not execute a notarial will but a simple contract of agency to sell on
commission basis, thus making the position of petitioner’s signature thereto immaterial.

2. ID.; ID.; CONTRACT OF AGENCY; NO FORMALITIES REQUIRED. — There are some provisions of the law which
require certain formalities for particular contracts. The first is when the form is required for the validity of the contract; the
second is when it is required to make the contract effective as against the third parties such as those mentioned in Articles
1357 and 1358; and the third is when the form is required for the purpose of proving the existence of the contract, such as
those provided in the Statute of Frauds in Article 1403. A contract of agency to sell on commission basis does not belong
to any of these three categories, hence, it is valid and enforceable in whatever form it may be entered into.

3. REMEDIAL LAW; EVIDENCE; WEIGHT THEREOF NOT DETERMINED BY SUPERIORITY IN NUMBERS OF


WITNESSES. — Weight of evidence is not determined mathematically by the numerical superiority of the witnesses
testifying to a given fact. It depends upon its practical effect in inducing belief on the part of the judge trying the case.

4. ID.; ID.; CREDIBILITY; FINDINGS OF THE TRIAL AND APPELLATE COURTS GENERALLY NOT INTERFERED
WITH ON APPEAL. — In the case at bench, both the trial court and the Court of Appeals gave weight to the testimony of
Vicky Suarez that she did not authorize Rosa Lim to return the pieces of jewelry to Nadera. We shall not disturb this
finding of the respondent court. It is well settled that we should not interfere with the judgment of the trial court in
determining the credibility of witnesses, unless there appears in the record some fact or circumstances of weight and
influence which has been overlooked or the significance of which has been misinterpreted. The reason is that the trial
court is in a better position to determine questions involving credibility having heard the witnesses and having observed
their deportment and manner of testifying during the trial.

5. CRIMINAL LAW; ESTAFA WITH ABUSE OF CONFIDENCE; ELEMENTS. — The elements of estafa with abuse of
confidence under this subdivision are as follows: (1) That money, goods, or other personal property be received by the
offender in trust, or on commission, or for administration, or under any other obligation involving the duty to make delivery
of, or to return, the same; (2) That there be misappropriation or conversion of such money or property by the offender or
denial on his part of such receipt, (3) That such misappropriation or conversion or denial is to the prejudice of another;
and (4) That there is a demand made by the offended party to the offender (Note: The 4th element is not necessary when
there is evidence of misappropriation of the goods by the defendant).

6. ID.; ID.; ID.; PRESENT IN CASE AT BAR. — All the elements of estafa under Article 315, Paragraph 1(b) of the
Revised Penal Code, are present in the case at bench. First, the receipt marked as Exhibit "A" proves that petitioner Rosa
Lim received the pieces of jewelry in trust from Vicky Suarez to be sold on commission basis. Second, petitioner
misappropriated or converted the jewelry to her own use; and, third, such misappropriation obviously caused damaged
and prejudice to the private Respondent.

DECISION

HERMOSISIMA, JR., J.:

This is a petition to review the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 10290, entitled "People v. Rosa Lim,"
promulgated on August 30, 1991.

On January 26, 1989, an Information for Estafa was filed against petitioner Rosa Lim before Branch 92 of the Regional
Trial Court of Quezon City. 1 The Information reads:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"That on or about the 8th day of October 1987 in Quezon City, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the said accused with intent to gain, with unfaithfulness and/or abuse of confidence, did, then and there, wilfully,
unlawfully and feloniously defraud one VICTORIA SUAREZ, in the following manner, to wit: on the date and place
aforementioned said accused got and received in trust from said complainant one (1) ring 3 .35 solo worth P169,000.00,
Philippine Currency, with the obligation to sell the same on commission basis and to turn over the proceeds of the sale to
said complainant or to return said jewelry if unsold, but the said accused once in possession thereof and far from
complying with her obligation despite repeated demands therefor, misapplied, misappropriated and converted the same to
her own personal use and benefit, to the damage and prejudice of the said offended party in the amount aforementioned
and in such other amount as may be awarded under the provisions of the Civil Code"

"CONTRARY TO LAW." 2

After arraignment and trial on the merits, the trial court rendered judgment, the dispositive portion of which
reads:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

1. Finding accused Rosa Lim GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the offense of estafa as defined and penalized under
Article 315, paragraph 1 (b) of the Revised Penal Code;

2. Sentencing her to suffer the Indeterminate penalty of FOUR (4) YEARS and TWO (2) MONTHS of prision correccional
as minimum, to TEN (10) YEARS of prision mayor as maximum;

3. Ordering her to return to the offended party Mrs. Victoria Suarez the ring or its value in the amount of P169,000 without
subsidiary imprisonment in case insolvency; and

4. To pay costs." 3

On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the Judgment of conviction with the modification that the penalty imposed shall
be six (6) years, eight (8) months and twenty- one (21) days to twenty (20) years in accordance with Article 315,
paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code. 4

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration before the appellate court on September 20, 1991, but the motion was denied
in a Resolution dated November 11 1991.

In her final bid to exonerate herself, petitioner filed the instant petition for review alleging the following
grounds:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

THE RESPONDENT COURT VIOLATED THE CONSTITUTION, THE RULES OF COURT AND THE DECISION OF
THIS HONORABLE COURT IN NOT PASSING UPON THE FIRST AND THIRD ASSIGNED ERRORS IN PETITIONER’S
BRIEF;

II

THE RESPONDENT COURT FAILED TO APPLY THE PRINCIPLE THAT THE PAROL EVIDENCE RULE WAS WAIVED
WHEN THE PRIVATE PROSECUTOR CROSS-EXAMINED THE PETITIONER AND AURELIA NADERA AND WHEN
COMPLAINANT WAS CROSS-EXAMINED BY THE COUNSEL FOR THE PETITIONER AS TO THE TRUE NATURE OF
THE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE PARTIES WHEREIN IT WAS DISCLOSED THAT THE TRUE AGREEMENT OF
THE, PARTIES WAS A SALE OF JEWELRIES AND NOT WHAT WAS EMBODIED IN THE RECEIPT MARKED AS
EXHIBIT "A" WHICH WAS RELIED UPON BY THE RESPONDENT COURT IN AFFIRMING THE JUDGMENT OF
CONVICTION AGAINST HEREIN PETITIONER; and

III

THE RESPONDENT COURT FAILED TO APPLY IN THIS CASE THE PRINCIPLE ENUNCIATED BY THIS
HONORABLE COURT TO THE EFFECT THAT "ACCUSATION" IS NOT, ACCORDING TO THE FUNDAMENTAL LAW,
SYNONYMOUS WITH GUILT: THE PROSECUTION MUST OVERTHROW THE PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE
WITH PROOF OF GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT. TO MEET THIS STANDARD, THERE IS NEED FOR THE
MOST CAREFUL SCRUTINY OF THE TESTIMONY OF THE STATE, BOTH ORAL AND DOCUMENTARY,
INDEPENDENTLY OF WHATEVER DEFENSE IS OFFERED BY THE ACCUSED. ONLY IF THE JUDGE BELOW AND
THE APPELLATE TRIBUNAL COULD ARRIVE AT A CONCLUSION THAT THE CRIME HAD BEEN COMMITTED
PRECISELY BY THE PERSON ON TRIAL UNDER SUCH AN EXACTING TEST SHOULD SENTENCE THUS
REQUIRED THAT EVERY INNOCENCE BE DULY TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT. THE PROOF AGAINST HIM MUST
SURVIVE THE TEST OF REASON, THE STRONGEST SUSPICION MUST NOT BE PERMITTED TO SWAY
JUDGMENT." (People v. Austria, 195 SCRA 700) 5

Herein the pertinent facts as alleged by the prosecution.

On or about October 8, 1987, petitioner Rosa Lim who had come from Cebu received from private respondent Victoria
Suarez the following two pieces of jewelry: one (l) 3.35 carat diamond ring worth P169,000.00 and one (1) bracelet worth
P170,000.00, to be sold on commission basis. The agreement was reflected in a receipt marked as Exhibit "A" 6 for the
prosecution. The transaction took place at the Sir Williams Apartelle in Timog Avenue, Quezon City, where Rosa Lim was
temporarily billeted.

On December 15, 1987, petitioner returned the bracelet to Vicky Suarez, but failed to return the diamond ring or to turn
over the proceeds thereof if sold. As a result, private complainant, aside from making verbal demands, wrote a demand
letter 7 to petitioner asking for the return of said ring or the proceeds of the sale thereof In response, Petitioner, thru
counsel, wrote a letter 8 to private respondent’s counsel alleging that Rosa Lim had returned both ring and bracelet to
Vicky Suarez sometime in September, 1987, for which reason, petitioner had no longer any liability to Mrs. Suarez insofar
as the pieces of jewelry were concerned. Irked, Vicky Suarez filed a complaint for estafa under Article 315, par l(b) of the
Revised Penal Code for which the petitioner herein stands convicted.

Petitioner has a different version.

Rosa Lim admitted in court that she arrived in Manila from Cebu sometime in October 1987, together with one Aurelia
Nadera, who introduced petitioner to private respondent, and that they were lodged at the Williams Apartelle in Timog,
Quezon City. Petitioner denied that the transaction was for her to sell the two pieces of jewelry on commission basis. She
told Mrs. Suarez that she would consider buying the pieces of jewelry for her own use and that she would inform the
private complainant of such decision before she goes back to Cebu. Thereafter, the petitioner took the pieces of jewelry
and told Mrs. Suarez to prepare the "necessary paper for me to sign because I was not yet prepare (d) to buy it." 9 After
the document was prepared, petitioner signed it. To prove that she did not agree to the terms of the receipt regarding the
sale on commission basis, petitioner insists that she signed the aforesaid document on the upper portion thereof and not
at the bottom where a space is provided for the signature of the person(s) receiving the jewelry. 10

On October 12, 1987 before departing for Cebu, petitioner called up Mrs. Suarez by telephone in order to inform her that
she was no longer interested in the ring and bracelet. Mrs. Suarez replied that she was busy at the time and so, she
instructed the petitioner to give the pieces of jewelry to Aurelia Nadera who would in turn give them back to the private
complainant. The petitioner did as she was told and gave the two pieces of jewelry to Nadera as evidenced by a
handwritten receipt, dated October 12, 1987. 11

Two issues need to be resolved: First, what was the real transaction between Rosa Lim and Vicky Suarez — a contract of
agency to sell on commission basis as set out in the receipt or a sale on credit; and, second, was the subject diamond
ring returned to Mrs. Suarez through Aurelia Nadera?

Petitioner maintains that she cannot be liable for estafa since she never received the jewelries in trust or on commission
basis from Vicky Suarez. The real agreement between her and the private respondent was a sale on credit with Mrs.
Suarez as the owner-seller and petitioner as the buyer, as indicated by the fact that petitioner did not sign on the blank
space provided for the signature of the person receiving the jewelry but at the upper portion thereof immediately below the
description of the items taken. 12

The contention is far from meritorious

The receipt marked as Exhibit "A" which establishes a contract of agency to sell on commission basis between Vicky
Suarez and Rosa Lim is herein reproduced in order to come to a proper perspective:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"THIS IS TO CERTIFY, that I received from Vicky Suarez PINATUTUNAYAN KO na aking tinanggap kay ____________
the following jewelries: ang mga alahas na sumusunod:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

Description Price

Mga Uri Halaga

1 ring 3.35 dolo P169.000.00

1 bracelet 70.000.00

total Kabuuan P339.000.00

in good condition, to be sold in CASH ONLY within . . . days from date of signing this receipt na nasa mabuting kalagayan
upang ipagbili ng KALIWAAN (ALCONTADO) lamang sa loob ng . . . araw mula ng ating pagkalagdaan:chanrob1es
virtual 1aw library

if I could not sell, I shall return all the jewelry within the period mentioned above, if I would be able to sell, I shall
immediately deliver and account the whole proceeds of sale thereof to the owner of the jewelries at his/her residence; my
compensation or commission shall be the over-price on the value of each jewelry quoted above. I am prohibited to sell
any jewelry on credit or by installment, deposit, give for safekeeping; lend, pledge or give as security or guaranty under
any circumstance or manner, any jewelry to other person or persons.’

kung hindi ko maipagbili ay isasauli ko ang lahat ng alahas sa loob ng taning na panahong nakatala sa itaas; kung
maipagbili ko naman ay dagli kong isusulit at ibibigay ang buong pinagbilhan sa may-ari ng mga alahas sa kanyang
bahay tahanan; ang aking gantimpala ay ang mapapahigit na halaga sa nakatakdang halaga sa itaas ng bawat alahas
HINDI ko ipinahihintulutang ipa-u-u-tang o ibibigay na hulugan ang alin mang alahas, ilalagak, ipagkakatiwala, ipahihiram;
isasangla o ipananagot kahit sa anong paraan ang alin mang alahas sa ibang mga tao o tao.’

I sign my name this . . . day of . . . 19 . . . at Maynila. NILALAGDAAN ko ang kasunduang ito ngayong ika____ ng dito sa
Maynila.
___________________

Signature of Persons who

received jewelries (Lagda

ng Tumanggap ng mga

Alahas)

Address: . . . . . . . . . . . ."cralaw virtua1aw library

Rosa Lim’s signature indeed appears on the upper portion of the receipt immediately below the description of the items
taken. We find that this fact does not have the effect of altering the terms of the transaction from a contract of agency to
sell on commission basis to a contract of sale. Neither does it indicate absence or vitiation of consent thereto on the pan
of Rosa Lim which would make the contract void or voidable. The moment she affixed her signature thereon, petitioner
became bound by all the terms stipulated in the receipt. She, thus, opened herself to all the legal obligations that may
arise from their breach. This is clear from Article 1356 of the New Civil Code which provides:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Contracts shall be obligatory in whatever form they may have been entered into, provided all the essential requisites for
their validity are present.." . ."cralaw virtua1aw library

However, there are some provisions of the law which require certain formalities for particular contracts. The first is when
the form is required for the validity of the contract; the second is when it is required to make the contract effective as
against third parties such as those mentioned in Articles 1357 and 1358; and the third is when the form is required for the
purpose of proving the existence of the contract, such as those provided in the Statute of Frauds in article 1403. 13 A
contract of agency to sell on commission basis does not belong to any of these three categories, hence it is valid and
enforceable in whatever form it may be entered into.

Furthermore, there is only one type of legal instrument where the law strictly prescribes the location of the signature of the
parties thereto. This is in the case of notarial wills found in Article 805 of the Civil Code, to wit:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Every will, other than a holographic will, must be subscribed at the end thereof by the testator himself . . .

The testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the instrumental witnesses of the will, shall also sign,
as aforesaid, each and every page thereof, except the last, on the left margin . . ."cralaw virtua1aw library

In the case before us, the parties did not execute a notarial will but a simple contract of agency to sell on commission
basis, thus making the position of petitioner’s signature thereto immaterial.

Petitioner insists, however, that the diamond ring had been returned to Vicky Suarez through Aurelia Nadera, thus
relieving her of any liability Rosa Lim testified to this effect on direct examination by her counsel:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Q: And when she left the jewelries with you, what did you do thereafter?

A: On October 12, I was bound for Cebu. So I called up Vicky through telephone and informed her that I am no longer
interested in the bracelet and ring and that l will just return it.

Q: And what was the reply of Vicky Suarez?

A: She told me that she could not come to the apartelle since she was very busy. So, she asked me if Aurelia was there
and when I informed her that Aurelia was there, she instructed me to give the pieces of jewelry to Aurelia who in turn will
give it back to Vicky.

Q: And you gave the two (2) pieces of jewelry to Aurelia Nadera?

A: Yes, Your Honor." 14

This was supported by Aurelia Nadera in her direct examination by petitioner’s counsel:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Q: Do you know if Rosa Lim in fact returned the jewelries?

A: She gave the jewelries to me.

Q: Why did Rosa Lim give the jewelries to you?

A: Rosa Lim called up Vicky Suarez the following morning and told Vicky Suarez that she was going home to Cebu and
asked if she could give the jewelries to me

Q: And when did Rosa Lim give to you the jewelries?

A: Before she left for Cebu." 15

On rebuttal, these testimonies were belied by Vicky Suarez herself:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph


"Q: It has been testified to here also by both Aurelia. Nadera and Rosa Lim that you gave authorization to Rosa Lim to
turn over the two (2) pieces of jewelries mentioned in Exhibit "A" to Aurelia Nadera, what can you say about that?

A: That is not true sir, because at that time Aurelia Nadera is highly indebted to me in the amount of P140,000 00, so if I
gave it to Nadera, I will be exposing myself to a high risk." 16

The issue as to the return of the ring boils down to one of credibility. Weight of evidence is not determined mathematically
by the numerical superiority of the witnesses testifying to a given fact. It depends upon its practical effect in inducing belief
on the part of the judge trying the case. 17 In the case at bench, both the trial court and the Court of Appeals gave weight
to the testimony of Vicky Suarez that she did not authorize Rosa Lim to return the pieces of jewelry to Nadera. The
respondent court, in affirming the trial court, said:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

". . . This claim (that the ring. had been returned to Suarez thru Nadera) is disconcerting. It contravenes the very terms of
Exhibit A The instruction by the complaining witness to appellant to deliver the ring to Aurelia Nadera is vehemently
denied by the complaining witness, who declared that she did not authorize and/or instruct appellant to do so. And thus,
by delivering the ring to Aurelia without the express authority and consent of the complaining witness, appellant assumed
the right to dispose of the jewelry as if it were hers, thereby committing conversion, a clear breach of trust, punishable
under Article 315, par. 1(b), Revised Penal Code.’

We shall not disturb this finding of the respondent court. It is well settled that we should not interfere with the judgment of
the trial court in determining the credibility of witnesses, unless there appears in the record some fact or circumstance of
weight and influence which has been overlooked or the significance of which has been misinterpreted. The reason is that
the trial court is in a better position to determine questions involving credibility having heard the witnesses and having
observed their deportment and manner of testifying during the trial. 18

Article 315, par 1 (b) of the Revised Penal Code provides:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"ART. 315. Swindling (estafa). — Any person who shall defraud another by any of the means mentioned hereinbelow shall
be punished by:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

x x x

(b) By misappropriating or converting, to the prejudice of another, money, goods, or any other personal property received
by the offender in trust or on commission, or for administration, or under any other obligation involving the duty to make
delivery of or to return the same, even though such obligation be totally or partially guaranteed by a bond; or by denying
having received such money, goods, or other property.

x x x

The elements of estafa with abuse of confidence under this subdivision are as follows: (1) That money? goods, or other
personal property be received by the offender in trust, or on commission, or for administration, or under any other
obligation involving the duty to make delivery of, or to return, the same; (2) That there be misappropriation or conversion
of such money or property by the offender or denial on his part of such receipt; (3) That such misappropriation or
conversion or denial is to the prejudice of another; and (4) That there is a demand made by the offended party to the
offender (Note: The 4th element is not necessary when there is evidence of misappropriation of the goods by the
defendant) 19

All the elements of estafa under Article 315, Paragraph 1 (b) of the Revised Penal Code, are present in the case at bench.
First, the receipt marked as Exhibit "A" proves that petitioner Rosa Lim received the pieces of jewelry in trust from Vicky
Suarez to be sold on commission basis. Second, petitioner misappropriated or converted the jewelry to her own use; and,
third, such misappropriation obviously caused damage and prejudice to the private Respondent.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the Decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED.

Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.