Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this Court dated 24 February 2010:G.R. No. 171473
(Sol F. Matugas v. Office of the Secretary, Department of Justice and Luz S. Almeda
This case is about the requirements of probable cause in a preliminary investigation for the crime of falsification of public document.
The Facts and the Case
In 2000 petitioner Sol F. Matugas, Regional Director of the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) for the Caraga Region, or Region 13, charged respondent Luz S. Almeda, the DECS Schools Division Superintendent for Surigao del Sur, before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Butuan City of falsification of public document.
Director Matugas alleged in her complaint-affidavit that, in order to qualify for transportation allowance from the DECS, respondent Almeda falsified Director Matugas' signature on a July 23, 1999 Certification
to the effect a) that the memorandum receipt covering the Division's Tamaraw FX was issued, not in respondent Almeda's name, but in that of the Division Supply Officer since it was the Provincial School Board of Surigao del Sur that bought it and b) that Almeda had not received her transportation allowance since January 1999.
Matugas further alleged that on September 24, 1999 Surigao del Sur Assistant Schools Superintendent Fe C. Valeroso came to the DECS Central Office in Manila and showed her a copy of the certification in question. Valeroso said that she got it from the Payroll Services Division at the Central Office. Director Matugas immediately went to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and had the certification examined for authenticity. She submitted to the NBI 10 specimens of her signature.
On November 15, 1999, the NBI issued Questioned Documents Report 817-1099,
stating that, following a comparison made between the questioned signature and the specimen signatures showed that they "WERE NOT WRITTEN by one and the same person."
On the basis of Director Matugas' complaint-affidavit and the NBI report,
on January 31, 2001 the Office of the City Prosecutor of Butuan City found probable cause for falsification of public document against respondent Almeda.
Consequently, it filed the corresponding information against her before the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) of Butuan City.
Almeda sought reconsideration of the City Prosecutor's ruling. Meantime, however, on March 27, 2001 the MTCC where the case was filed dismissed it on the ground that the crime fell within the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court.
At any rate, after reinvestigation or on December 18, 2001, the Office of the City Prosecutor reversed itself and found no probable cause against respondent Almeda.
It held that, although the certification in question was forged, it was apparently the handiwork of-Almeda's nemesis, then Surigao del Sur Assistant Schools Superintendent Fe C. Valeroso, against whom Almeda filed a number of administrative cases for habitual absenteeism and dishonesty, which cases hindered Valeroso's promotion.
On Director Matugas' motion for reconsideration, however, the City Prosecutor's Office issued an amended order 
dated January 16, 2002, reversing its former resolution. Respondent Almeda sought reconsideration of this last resolution but the prosecutor's office stood pat on its position, prompting her to appeal her case to the Department of Justice (DO J), headed by respondent Secretary.
Three years later or on May 12, 2005, finding no probable cause against respondent Almeda, the DOJ directed the City Prosecutor's Office to cause the withdrawal of the information filed against her.
Director Matugas filed a motion for reconsideration but the DOJ denied the same on November 25, 2005, hence, the present recourse to this Court through a special civil action of certiorari
The core issue presented in this case is whether or not the DOJ gravely abused its discretion in setting aside the finding of the Office of the City Prosecutor of Butuan City that probable cause for falsification of public document exists against respondent Almeda.
The Court's Ruling
The only issue before the City Prosecutor's Office was whether or not probable cause existed against respondent Almeda. A finding of probable cause need only rest on evidence that, more likely than not, a crime has been committed and the person charged committed it. Neither clear and convincing evidence nor evidence establishing guilt beyond reasonable doubt is required. Probable cause requires only the existence of facts and circumstances that would excite the belief in a reasonable mind that the person charged is guilty of the crime.
Here, two things weigh heavily in favor of a finding of probable cause against respondent Almeda:First
. There is no question that Director Matugas' signature on the certification in question was a forgery. She denied signing it and the NBI examined the document and confirmed that her signature had been forged.Second
. The certification was in respondent Almeda's favor. It supported her claim for transportation allowance from the DECS. Indeed, she benefited from it. An October 24, 2000 Certification issued by the Payroll Services Division of the DECS Central Office shows that Almeda was able to collect transportation allowances from January 1, 1999 to August 31, 2000 m the total amount of P15,400.00.
The settled presumption is that the person who profited by the forged document authored it.
The rule is that if a person had in his possession a falsified document and he made use of it (uttered it), taking advantage of it and profiting thereby, the presumption is that he is the material author of the falsification. This is especially true if the use or uttering of the forged documents was so closely connected in time with the forgery that the user or possessor may be proven to have the capacity of committing the forgery, or to have close connection with the forgers, and, therefore, had complicity in the forgery. (U.S. vs. Castillo, 6 Phil. 453; People vs. De Lara, 45 Phil. 754; People vs. Domingo, 49 Phil. 28; People vs. Astudillo, 60 Phil. 338; People vs. Manansala, 105 Phil. 1253).
In the absence of a satisfactory explanation, one who is found in possession of a forged document and who used or uttered it is presumed to be the forger (Alarcon vs. Court of Appeals, L-21846, March 31, 1967, 19 SCRA 688; People vs. Caragao, L-28258, December 27,1969, 30 SCRA 993).
Respondent Almeda of course claims that it was the Payroll Services Division of the DECS Central Office that prepared the certification in question on or about July 27, 1999 on the suggestion of Agnes James, the Clerloin-Charge there, following existing precedents. Almeda insists that it was Valeroso, whom she declined to recommend for promotion, who instigated the complaint for falsification against her.
But the things respondent Almeda alleges are matters of defense that she can ventilate at the trial of her case before the proper court. Her defense consists of explanations that, hopefully for her, could overcome the prima facie
evidence that she falsified the certification in question, she having benefited from it. The Court makes no finding here that she committed the offense charged. It only finds that the DOJ committed grave abuse of discretion in reversing the ruling of the Office of the City Prosecutor of Butuan City that probable cause exists against her.WHEREFORE,
the Court GRANTS
the petition, SETS ASIDE
the assailed resolutions of the respondent Secretary of Justice dated May 12, 2005 and November 25, 2005, and ORDERS
the Office of the City Prosecutor of Butuan City to file the necessary information for falsification of a public document against respondent Luz S. Almeda before the proper court.SO ORDERED.
WITNESS the Honorable Antonio T. Carpio, Chairperson, Honorable Arturo D. Brion, Mariano C. Del Castillo, Roberto A. Abad and Jose P. Perez, Members, Second Division, this 24th
day of February, 2010.
Very truly yours,
(Sgd.) MA.LUISA L. LAUREA
Clerk of Court
 Rollo, p. 55.
 Id. at 53-54.
 Id. at 54.
 Docketed as LS. 2000-953.
 Rollo, pp. 76-77.
 Id. at 123. Docketed as Criminal Case 24532 with the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) of Butuan City, Branch 2.
 Id. at 87-90.
 Id. at 99-100.
 Id. at 26-30.
 Pilapil v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 101978, April 7,1993, 221 SCRA 349, 360.
 Id. at 60.
 Pecho v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 111399, November 14, 1994, 238 SCRA 116, 138-139.
 Rollo, p. 80.