Criminal Law

People v. Sendaydiego G.R. Nos. L-33252-54. January 20, 1978 Falsification as a means to Commit a Crime

FACTS:

Licerio P. Sendaydiego, the provincial treasurer of Pangasinan, in conspiracy with Juan Samson, an employee of a lumber and hardware store in Dagupan City, and with Anastacio Quirimit, the provincial auditor, as an accomplice, used six (6) forged provincial vouchers in order to embezzle from the road and bridge fund the total sum of P57,048.23.

The provincial voucher involved in these cases has several parts. The upper part is supposed to be signed by two officials of the provincial engineer’s office and by the governor’s representative.

The middle part of the voucher contains paragraph 1 stating that the creditor vouches that the expenses “were actually and necessarily incurred;” paragraph 2 is a certification that the expenses are correct and have been lawfully incurred, signed by the provincial engineer; paragraph 3 contains these words: “Approved for pre-audit and payment, appropriations and funds being available therefor,” signed by the provincial treasurer; paragraph 4 is a certification which stated that the voucher has been pre-audited, which is signed by the auditor; paragraph 5 is a certification signed by the provincial treasurer that the account mentioned in the provincial engineer’s certification “was paid in the amount and on the date shown below and is chargeable as shown in the summary hereof.” 

The falsity of the provincial voucher is proven, among other things, by the fact that there was no project for the repair of the bridge at Barrio Libertad; the amount of P16,727.52 was never received by the Carried Construction Supply Co.; the alleged official receipts is forged, and  the lumber and materials were never delivered by the company to the provincial government.

After trial, Sendaydiego and Samson were found guilty as principals of malversation through falsification of public documents.

Pending appeal, Sendaydiego died. His appeal as to his criminal liability was dismissed. Death extinguished his criminal liability but his civil liability remained.

ISSUE:

What was/were the crime/s committed?

RULING:

The trial court and the parties assumed that three complex crimes of malversation through falsification of public documents were committed in this case. That assumption is wrong.

The crimes committed in these three cases are not complex. Separate crimes of falsification and malversation were committed. These are not cases where the execution of a single act constitutes two grave or less grave felonies or where the falsification was used as a means to commit malversation.

In the six vouchers the falsification was used to conceal the malversation. It is settled that if the falsification was resorted to for the purpose of hiding the malversation, the falsification and malversation are separate offenses.

In the instant cases, the provincial treasurer, as the custodian of the money forming part of the road and bridge fund, could have malversed or misappropriated it without falsifying any voucher. The falsification was used as a device to prevent detection of the malversation.

The falsifications cannot be regarded as constituting one continuing offense impelled by a single criminal impulse.

Each falsification of a voucher constitutes one crime. The falsification of six vouchers constitutes six separate or distinct offenses.

And each misappropriation as evidenced by a provincial voucher constitutes a separate offense. The six misappropriations evidenced by the six vouchers constitute six distinct offenses.

The overall result is that in these three cases six separate offenses of falsification and six separate crimes of malversation were committed. Appellant Samson is a co-principal in each of the said twelve offenses.

Samson is convicted of six crimes of falsification of a public document and six crimes of malversation.

The estate of the late Licerio P. Sendaydiego is ordered to indemnify the province of Pangasinan in the sum of P57,048.23.

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