G.R. No. 128033 - March 20, 2002
GLORIA CHANGCO, Petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents.
In an Information1 filed before the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 1, petitioner Gloria Changco was charged with the crime of Estafa, allegedly committed as follows:
Petitioner pleaded not guilty when arraigned, and thereafter, the case proceeded to trial.
On May 22, 1990, a decision2 was rendered, the dispositive portion of which reads:
Petitioner appealed the judgment of conviction to the Court of Appeals,3 which affirmed the decision of the trial court.
Petitioner filed the instant petition for review raising the following issues:
At the outset, it should be stressed that under the Rules of Court and the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, only questions of law may be raised in the petition for review to this Court and the same must be distinctly set forth.4 Thus, this Court has uniformly held that the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is limited only to the review and revision of errors of law allegedly committed by the Court of Appeals.5
Despite petitioner's assertion that the instant petition raises only questions of law, a disquisition of the issues raised reveals that petitioner actually seeks this Court's reevaluation of the facts and evidence. In fact, the issues raised herein are the very same questions of fact raised in the appeal before the Court of Appeals. Moreover, the petition does not clearly and distinctly set forth the errors of law allegedly committed by the Court of Appeals and the trial court.
For one, the resolution of the issue of lack of jurisdiction, which was raised for the first time on appeal, would necessitate an examination of the records and assaying the credibility of the witnesses to determine the veracity of their testimonies on the matter of where the offense was committed - whether in the City of Manila or Makati. The same is not warranted since the Court of Appeals had already affirmed the trial court's factual findings on the matter. The second issue begs the Court to evaluate the evidence once more to determine whether or not the same is sufficient to support the conviction of petitioner. The Court of Appeals had earlier fully concurred with the conclusion of the trial court that all the elements of the crime were present and that the prosecution's evidence established without a shred of doubt the guilt of petitioner.
There is no mention of any law that was wrongly interpreted or applied by the lower courts despite the requirement under Rule 45 that the questions of law raised "must be distinctly set forth." Petitioner's mere allegation that only questions of law are raised in this petition cannot detract from the reality that the petition seeks a reexamination of the facts and evidence, as well as a reevaluation of the credibility of the witnesses, despite the findings of the Court of Appeals that no error was committed by the trial court in this regard.
Basic and long-settled is the doctrine that findings of fact of the trial court, when affirmed by the Court of Appeals, are binding upon the Supreme Court.6 It is not the function of the Supreme Court to weigh anew the evidence already passed upon by the Court of Appeals7 for these are deemed final and conclusive and may not be reviewed on appeal.8
A departure from the general rule may be warranted where the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are contrary to the findings and conclusions of the trial court,9 or when the same is unsupported by the evidence on record.10 There is no ground to apply the exception in the instant case, however, because the findings and conclusions of the Court of Appeals are in full accord with those of the trial court. This Court will not assess and evaluate all over again the evidence, both testimonial and documentary, adduced by the parties to the appeal particularly where, as in this case, the findings of both the trial court and the Court of Appeals completely coincide.11
Furthermore, as the trial and appellate courts stated, the prosecution's evidence positively proved petitioner's guilt, even as her only defense was a simply denial. Shifting the blame to her son as the true perpetrator of the fraud is clearly a desperate attempt to evade criminal liability. The prosecution witnesses were positive and unequivocal in their testimonies against petitioner. Thus, the findings of fact by the Court of Appeals cannot be disturbed since these findings are buttressed by the evidence on record.12
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 10046, convicting petitioner of the crime of Estafa under Article 315 (2) (a) of the Revised Penal Code, sentencing her to suffer an indeterminate prison term of four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional, as minimum, to eight (8) years of prision mayor, as maximum, and ordering her to indemnify Betty Rosales the sum of P30,000.00 is AFFIRMED.
No pronouncement as to costs.
Davide, Jr., C.J. and Kapunan, J., concur.
Puno, J., on official leave.
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