Intestate Estate of Gonzales vs People Case Digest

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    G.R. No. 181409   February 11, 2010 INTESTATE ESTATE OF MANOLITA GONZALES VDA. DE CARUNGCONG, represented by MEDIATRIX CARUNGCONG, Present: as Administratrix, Petitioner, - v e r s u s - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and WILLIAM SATO, Respondents. FACTS: The above-named accused (respondent), by means of deceit, did, then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud the deceased mother in the following manner, to wit: the said accused induced said deceased, who was already then blind and 79 years old, to sign and thumbmark a special power of attorney the daughter of said accused, making her believe that said document involved only her taxes, accused knowing fully well that said document authorizes his minor daughter to sell, assign, transfer or otherwise dispose of to any person or entity of her properties all located at Tagaytay City. The duly appointed administratrix   of petitioner intestate estate of her deceased mother, filed a complaint-affidavit   for estafa against the accused (her brother-in-law, a Japanese national). The accused moved for the quashal of the Information, claiming that under Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code, his relationship to the person allegedly defrauded, the deceased who was his mother-in-law, was an exempting circumstance. T he trial court granted Sato’s motion and ordered the dismissal of the criminal case. The petition for certiorari with CA was likewise dismissed. Hence, this petition. ISSUE: 1.   W/N the death of accused ’s wife and  deceased mother  ’s daughter, Zenaida, extinguished the relationship by affinity between the accused and deceased.  2.   Whether or not accused should be exempt from criminal liability for reason of his relationship. HELD: 1. No. Relationship by affinity between the surviving spouse and the kindred of the deceased spouse continues even after the death of the deceased spouse, regardless of whether the marriage produced children or not. Thus, the relationship by affinity between the accused and deceased is not extinguished by the death of Zenaida. 2. No. The absolutory cause under Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code only applies to the felonies of theft, swindling and malicious mischief. Under the said provision, the State condones the criminal responsibility of the offender in cases of theft, swindling and malicious mischief. As an act of grace, the State waives its right to prosecute the offender for the said crimes but leaves the private offended party with the option to hold the offender civilly liable. However, the coverage of Article 332 is strictly limited to the felonies mentioned therein. The plain, categorical and unmistakable language of the provision shows that it applies exclusively to the simple crimes of theft, swindling and malicious mischief. It does not apply where any of the crimes mentioned under Article 332 is complexed with another crime, such as theft through falsification or estafa through falsification. Under Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code, the State waives its right to hold the offender criminally liable for the simple crimes of theft, swindling and malicious mischief and considers the violation of the juridical right to property committed by the offender against certain family members as a private matter and therefore subject only to civil liability. The waiver does not apply when the violation of the right to property is achieved through (and therefore inseparably intertwined with) a breach of the public interest in the integrity and presumed authenticity of public  documents. For, in the latter instance, what is involved is no longer simply the property right of a family relation but a paramount public interest.
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