Criminal Law

Ladonga vs. People of the Philippines G.R. No. 141066, Feb. 17, 2005 BP 22

FACTS: 

Evangelina and Adronico Ladonga and spouse, conspiring and knowing fully well that they did not have sufficient funds deposited with the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB), drew and issue UCPB Check No. 284743 postdated July 7, 1990 in the amount of P9,075.55), payable to Alfredo Oculam, and thereafter, without informing the latter that they did not have sufficient funds deposited with the bank to cover up the amount of the check, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously pass on, indorse, give and deliver the said check to Alfredo by way of rediscounting of the aforementioned checks; however, upon presentation of the check to the drawee bank for encashment, the same was dishonored for the reason that the account of the accused had already been closed, to the damage and prejudice of Alfredo.

The RTC rendered a joint decision finding the Ladonga spouses guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating B.P. Blg. 22.  Adronico applied for probation which was granted. On the other hand, petitioner brought the case to the Court of Appeals, arguing that the RTC erred in finding her criminally liable for conspiring with her husband as the principle of conspiracy is inapplicable to B.P. Blg. 22 which is a special law; moreover, she is not a signatory of the checks and had no participation in the issuance thereof.

ISSUE:  

a.) Whether conspiracy is applicable in violations of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22, by invoking art. 10 of RPC?

b.) Whether or not the cases cited by the CA in affirming in toto the conviction of petitioner as conspirator applying the suppletory character of the RPC to special laws like BP 22 is applicable?

RULING:  

A.) YES.  Some provisions of the Revised Penal Code, especially with the addition of the second sentence in Article 10, are applicable to special laws.  It submits that B.P. Blg. 22 does not provide any prohibition regarding the applicability in a suppletory character of the provisions of the Revised Penal Code to it.

Article 10 of the RPC reads as follows: ART. 10. Offenses not subject to the provisions of this Code. – Offenses which are or in the future may be punishable under special laws are not subject to the provisions of this Code.  This Code shall be supplementary to such laws, unless the latter should specially provide the contrary.

The article is composed of two clauses.  The first provides that offenses which in the future are made punishable under special laws are not subject to the provisions of the RPC, while the second makes the RPC supplementary to such laws

B.)  B.P. Blg. 22 does not expressly proscribe the suppletory application of the provisions of the RPC.  Thus, in the absence of contrary provision in B.P. Blg. 22, the general provisions of the RPC which, by their nature, are necessarily applicable, may be applied suppletorily.  Indeed, in the recent case of Yu vs. People the Court applied suppletorily the provisions on subsidiary imprisonment under Article 39 of the RPC to B.P. Blg. 22.

The suppletory application of the principle of conspiracy in this case is analogous to the application of the provision on principals under Article 17 in U.S. vs. Ponte.  For once conspiracy or action in concert to achieve a criminal design is shown, the act of one is the act of all the conspirators, and the precise extent or modality of participation of each of them becomes secondary, since all the conspirators are principals.  BUT In the present case, the prosecution failed to prove that petitioner performed any overt act in furtherance of the alleged conspiracy.  Conspiracy must be established, not by conjectures, but by positive and conclusive evidence. Thus, Petitioner Evangeline Ladonga is ACQUITTED of the charges against her under B.P. Blg. 22 for failure of the prosecution to prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt.  No pronouncement as to costs.

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