Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence


Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence > Year 1954 > April 1954 Decisions > G.R. No. L-6201 April 20, 1954 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. FELIPE A. LIVARA

094 Phil 771:




PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

EN BANC

[G.R. No. L-6201. April 20, 1954.]

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. FELIPE A. LIVARA, Defendant-Appellant.

Solicitor General Pompeyo Diaz and Solicitor Isidro C. Borromeo for Appellee.

Marcelino Lontok for Appellant.


SYLLABUS


1. JURISDICTION OF COURTS; CIVIL COURT AND COURTS-MARTIAL. — The civil courts and courts-martial have concurrent jurisdiction over offenses committed by a member of the Armed Forces in violation of military law and the public law. The first court to take cognizance of the case does so to the exclusion of the other.

2. CRIMINAL LAW; CONSTITUTIONALITY OF ARTICLE 217 OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE. — The presumption provided for in article 217 of the Revised Penal Code is not unconstitutional. There is no constitutional objection to the passage of a law providing that the presumption of innocence may be overcome by a contrary presumption founded upon the experience of human conduct, and enacting what evidence shall be sufficient to overcome such presumption of innocence. "The failure of a public officer to have duly forthcoming any public funds or property with which he is chargeable upon demand by any duly authorized officer, shall be prima facie evidence that he has put such missing funds or property to personal uses."


D E C I S I O N


BENGZON, J.:


After the corresponding trial in the Court of First Instance of Romblon, Felipe A. Livara, was found guilty of malversation of public funds and sentenced to imprisonment from four (4) years, two . (2) months and one (1) day of prision correccional to ten (10) years of prision mayor, with perpetual special disqualification, to pay a fine of P5,000, to indemnify the government in the sum of P9,597, without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to pay the costs. From this judgment he appealed on time. Because he assailed the constitutionality of Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, the expediente was forwarded to this Court.

Appellant was from January, 1947 to July 22, 1948, provincial disbursing officer of the Philippine Constabulary in Romblon. As finance and accountable officer, he took charge of paying the salaries and subsistence of the PC officers and enlisted men of that region. On July 22,1948, he came to Manila carrying some money, and, having secured a Treasury Warrant from the finance officer at Camp Crame for more than P8,000, he cashed the same in the Finance Building at Taft Avenue. In November, 1948, an examination of his accounts was conducted by Major Emilio Baldia, Chief of the Cash Examination and Inspection Branch of the Finance Service, who found him with a net shortage of P9,597 unaccounted for. Major Baldia submitted a report of his findings to the Adjutant General of the PC. Days afterwards, a board of officers was created formally to investigate the appellant. That board found him accountable for P9,597, and recommended his prosecution before the civil courts for malversation of public funds. An information for the crime of malversation of public funds was consequently filed in the Court of First Instance of Romblon September 10, 1949.

Major Emilio Baldia, testified in the Romblon court that sometime in November 6, 1948, he examined the accountability of Lieutenant Felipe A. Livara and found he had incurred a net shortage of P9,597; and that in answer to his question, appellant admitted his financial liability but asserted he had lost the money in Manila on his way to North Harbor to board a vessel for Romblon.

Capt. Teofilo V. Dayao, Zone Finance Officer, testified that in the month of August, 1948, he was dispatched to Romblon to pay the salaries and subsistence of the officers and enlisted men of the PC stationed in said province; that he inquired into the whereabouts of Lt. Livara but was informed that he had left for Manila in July 23, 1948, to submit for approval the disbursement he had made and get the return of the same from the PC headquarters; that finding the safe of the accused locked, he sealed it in the presence of Capt. Diaz and Lt. Tañedo and brought it to Manila where it was opened in the presence of eleven officers including the appellant; and that no cash was found in the safe.

Provincial Auditor Aproniano S. Celajes, last prosecution witness, declared that on July 16, 1948, he examined and verified the books of account and money accountability of the appellant and found a balance of P14,984, represented by cash of P6,330.10, actually found on hand and vouchers in the amount of P8,654.

The appellant Felipe A. Livara was the lone witness for the defense. He declared that on July 22, 1948, he came to Manila and submitted his abstract to the Auditor of the PC; that a treasury warrant was issued to him in the amount of more than P8,000; that he proceeded to the Finance Building at Taft Avenue and cashed the same; that while riding a public utility jeepney bound for the North Harbor to embark on the S. S. Elena for Romblon, he lost his portfolio containing the said money plus about P1,000 more, and other public documents. He swore to having made efforts to recover the portfolio but the jeepney was nowhere to be found.

There is no doubt about the shortage. It constitutes prima facie evidence that the accused made personal use of the money, unless he gives a satisfactory explanation (Art. 217, Rev. Penal Code). His account of the loss of the portfolio was not believed by the board officers that investigated him, and by the court below. It is really an incredible story. With about ten thousand pesos in it, the portfolio could not have been forgotten for one moment by any passenger, especially a finance officer like the accused. The alleged loss was obviously a ruse to conceal his defalcations. As a matter of fact, even before the Manila trip he was already in the red, as shown by the testimonies of Lt. Bernabe Cadiz, commanding officer of the 83rd PC company and Lt. Damaso C. Quiao, adjutant, supply and finance officer, of Romblon.

If the portfolio had actually been lost as recounted by appellant, he would not be responsible for the money. Yet he admitted his liability, made efforts to pay it, even used for that purpose a false check payable to Colonel Selga of the Constabulary.

Counsel for the appellant contends that the Court of First Instance of Romblon had no jurisdiction over the case, arguing that the alleged crime of malversation of public funds occurred during the incumbency of the accused as an officer of the Philippine Constabulary. Such contention is without merit. The civil courts and courts-martial have concurrent jurisdiction over offenses committed by a member of the Armed Forces in violation of military law and the public law. The first court to take cognizance of the case does so to the exclusion of the other (Grafton v. U. S., 11 Phil., 776; Valdez v. Lucero, 42 Off. Gaz., No. 112835). The accused-appellant having been first tried and convicted of the crime by the Court of First Instance of Romblon he cannot now claim that the criminal action should have been brought before a court-martial.

The constitutionality of the last paragraph of Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code is likewise assailed. It reads:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"The failure of a public officer to have duly forthcoming any public funds or property with which he is chargeable, upon demand by any duly authorized officer, shall be prima facie evidence that he has put such missing funds or property to personal uses."cralaw virtua1aw library

Defense counsel maintains the view that this provision is contrary to the constitutional directive that in criminal prosecutions the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proven.

This contention deserves no merit, inasmuch as the validity of the said article has already been discussed and upheld in People v. Mingoa, 92 Phil., 856, wherein this court through Mr. Justice Reyes declared: "there is no constitutional objection to the passage of a law providing that the presumption of innocence may be overcome by a contrary presumption founded upon the experience of human conduct, and enacting what evidence shall be sufficient to overcome such presumption of innocence."cralaw virtua1aw library

Wherefore, as this appellant is guilty of malversation of public funds and as the penalty imposed on him accords with the law, we hereby affirm the judgment with costs against him. So ordered.

Paras, C.J., Pablo, Bengzon, Montemayor, Reyes, Jugo, Bautista Angelo, Concepcion and Diokno, JJ., concur.




Back to Home | Back to Main


chanrobles.com



ChanRobles On-Line Bar Review

ChanRobles Internet Bar Review : www.chanroblesbar.com





April-1954 Jurisprudence                 

  • G.R. No. L-5477 April 12, 1954 - QUING v. REPUBLIC OF THE PHIL.

    094 Phil 736

  • G.R. No. L-5943 April 12, 1954 - CO SAN v. CELEDONIO AGRAVA, ET AL.

    094 Phil 739

  • G.R. No. L-6029 April 12, 1954 - YU CHONG TIAN v. REPUBLIC OF THE PHIL.

    094 Phil 742

  • G.R. No. L-6095 April 12, 1954 - DAVID v. CARLOS SISON

    094 Phil 747

  • G.R. No. L-6525 April 12, 1954 - MARTA BANCLOS DE ESPARAGOZA, ET AL. v. BIENVENIDO TAN, ET AL.

    094 Phil 749

  • G.R. No. L-6570 April 12, 1954 - JUAN PLANAS and SOFIA VERDON v. MADRIGAL & CO., ET AL.

    094 Phil 754

  • G.R. No. L-6206 April 13, 1954 - AURELIO G. GAVIERES v. EMILIO SANCHEZ, ET AL.

    094 Phil 760

  • G.R. No. L-5257 April 14, 1954 - ARSENIO ALGARIN, ET AL. v. FRANCISCO NAVARRO, ET AL.

    094 Phil 764

  • G.R. No. L-6089 April 20, 1954 - VICENTE YLANAN v. AQUILINO O. MERCADO

    094 Phil 769

  • G.R. No. L-6201 April 20, 1954 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. FELIPE A. LIVARA

    094 Phil 771

  • G.R. No. L-6307 April 20, 1954 - FELICIANO MANALANG, ET AL. v. GERCIA CANLAS, ET AL.

    094 Phil 776

  • G.R. No. L-6339 April 20, 1954 - MANUEL LARA, ET AL. v. PETRONILO DEL ROSARIO, JR.

    094 Phil 778

  • G.R. No. L-5897 April 23, 1954 - KING MAU WU v. FRANCISCO SYCIP

    094 Phil 784

  • G.R. No. L-6134 April 23, 1954 - RUBEN VALERO, ET AL. v. ISABEL FOLLANTE

    094 Phil 789

  • G.R. No. L-6459 April 23, 1954 - CONSOLACION C. VDA. DE VERZOSA v. BONIFACIO RIGONAN, ET AL.

    094 Phil 794

  • G.R. No. L-6855 April 23, 1954 - LAZARO R. BIEN v. PEDRO BERAQUIT

    094 Phil 798

  • G.R. No. L-6003 April 26, 1954 - RAMON R. DIZON ET AL. v. SIMEON OCAMPO ET AL.

    094 Phil 803

  • G.R. No. L-6063 April 26, 1954 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. LEON AQUINO

    094 Phil 805

  • G.R. No. L-6118 April 26, 1954 - LARRY J. JOHNSON v. HOWARD M. TURNER, ET AL.

    094 Phil 807

  • G.R. No. L-5137 April 27, 1954 - E. E. ELSER, INC., ET AL. v. DE LA RAMA STEAMSHIP CO. INC., ET AL.

    094 Phil 812

  • G.R. No. L-5631 April 27, 1954 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. FELIX GARCIA

    094 Phil 814

  • G.R. No. L-6691 April 27, 1954 - GAUDENCIO DAY, ET AL. v. GERARDO P. TIOSECO, ET AL.

    094 Phil 816

  • G.R. No. L-5387 April 29, 1954 - CLYDE E. MCGEE v. REPUBLIC OF THE PHIL.

    094 Phil 820

  • G.R. No. L-5478 April 29, 1954 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. BENJAMIN JISTIADO, ET AL.

    094 Phil 825

  • G.R. No. L-5547 April 29, 1954 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. PEDRO MANANTAN, ET AL.

    094 Phil 831

  • G.R. No. L-5867 April 29, 1954 - RUPERTO SY v. REPUBLIC OF THE PHIL.

    094 Phil 836

  • G.R. No. L-6061 April 29, 1954 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. CARMEN LICOP

    094 Phil 839

  • G.R. No. L-6291 April 29, 1954 - SAN PEDRO BUS LINE, ET AL. v. NICOLAS NAVARRO, ET AL.

    094 Phil 846

  • G.R. No. L-6323 April 29, 1954 - BASILIA COLOMA VDA. DE VALDEZ v. CONSTANTE L. FARIÑAS, ET AL.

    094 Phil 850

  • G.R. No. L-6498 April 29, 1954 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ZENAIDA FLORES

    094 Phil 855

  • G.R. No. L-6822 April 29, 1954 - OSCAR VENTANILLA v. HONORABLE L. PASICOLAN

    094 Phil 859

  • G.R. No. L-7071 April 29, 1954 - PEDRO CRISOLO v. HIGINO B. MACADAEG, ET AL.

    094 Phil 862

  • G.R. No. L-3659 April 30, 1954 - PHIL. OPERATIONS, INC. v. AUDITOR GENERAL, ET AL.

    094 Phil 868

  • G.R. Nos. L-5304 to L-5324 April 30, 1954 - SMITH BELL & CO., LTD., ET AL. v. AMERICAN PRES. LINES, ET AL.

    094 Phil 879

  • G.R. No. L-5663 April 30, 1954 - PEDRO TAN v. REPUBLIC OF THE PHIL.

    094 Phil 882

  • G.R. No. L-5848 April 30, 1954 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. SY PIO

    094 Phil 885

  • G.R. No. L-6155 April 30, 1954 - JOSE SON v. CEBU AUTOBUS CO.

    094 Phil 892

  • G.R. No. L-6216 April 30, 1954 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. AMANDO AUSTRIA

    094 Phil 897

  • G.R. No. L-6898 April 30, 1954 - LUIS MANALANG v. AURELIO QUITORIANO, ET AL.

    094 Phil 903