Nego Cases

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[G.R. No. 128927.  September 14, 1999]
REMEDIOS NOTA SAPIERA, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and RAMON SUA, respondents.
D E C I S I O N
BELLOSILLO, J.:
REMEDIOS NOTA SAPIERA appeals to us through this petition for review the Decision of the Court of Appeals[1] which acquitted her of the crime of estafa but held her liable nonetheless for the value of the checks she indorsed in favor of private respondent Ramon Sua.

On several occasions petitioner Remedios Nota Sapiera, a sari-sari store owner, purchased from Monrico Mart certain grocery items, mostly cigarettes, and paid for them with checks issued by one Arturo de Guzman:  (a) PCIB Check No. 157059 dated 26 February 1987 for P140,000.00;  (b) PCIB Check No. 157073 dated 26 February 1987 for P28,000.00; (c) PCIB Check No. 157057 dated 27 February 1987 for P42,150.00; and, d) Metrobank Check No. DAG - 045104758 PA dated 2 March 1987 for P125,000.00.  These checks were signed at the back by petitioner.  When presented for payment the checks were dishonored because the drawer’s account was already closed.  Private respondent Ramon Sua informed Arturo de Guzman and petitioner about the dishonor but both failed to pay the value of the checks.  Hence, four (4) charges of estafa were filed against petitioner with the Regional Trial Court of Dagupan City, docketed as Crim. Cases Nos. D-8728, D-8729, D-8730 and D-8731.  Arturo de Guzman was charged with two (2) counts of violation of B.P. Blg. 22, docketed as Crim. Cases Nos. D-8733 and D-8734.  These cases against petitioner and de Guzman were consolidated and tried jointly.

On 27 December 1989 the court a quo[2] acquitted petitioner of all the charges of estafa but did not rule on whether she could be held civilly liable for the checks she indorsed to private respondent.  The trial court found Arturo de Guzman guilty of Violation of B.P. Blg. 22 on two (2) counts and sentenced him to suffer imprisonment of six (6) months and one (1) day in each of the cases, and to pay private respondent P167,150.00 as civil indemnity.

Private respondent filed a notice of appeal with the trial court with regard to the civil aspect but the court refused to give due course to the appeal on the ground that the acquittal of petitioner was absolute.  Private respondent then filed a petition for mandamus with the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-GR SP No. 24626, praying that the court a quo be ordered to give due course to the appeal on the civil aspect of the decision.  The Court of Appeals granted the petition and ruled that private respondent could appeal with respect to the civil aspect the judgment of acquittal by the trial court.

On 22 January 1996, the Court of Appeals in CA-GR CV No. 36376 rendered the assailed Decision insofar as it sustained the appeal of private respondent on the civil aspect and ordering petitioner to pay private respondent P335,000.00 representing the aggregate face value of the four (4) checks indorsed by petitioner plus legal interest from the notice of dishonor.

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of the Decision.  On 19 March 1997 the Court of Appeals issued a Resolution noting the admission of both parties that private respondent had already collected the amount of P125,000.00 from Arturo de Guzman with regard to his civil liability in Crim. Cases Nos. 8733 and 8734.  The appellate court noted that private respondent was the same offended party in the criminal cases against petitioner and against de Guzman.  Criminal Cases Nos. 8733 and 8734 against De Guzman, and Crim. Cases Nos. 8730 and 8729 against petitioner, involved the same checks, to wit:  PCIB Checks Nos. 157057 for P42,150.00 and Metrobank Check No. DAG-045104758 PA for P125,000.00.

Thus, the Court of Appeals ruled that private respondent could not recover twice on the same checks.  Since he had collected P125,000.00 as civil indemnity in Crim. Cases Nos. 8733 and 8734, this amount should be deducted from the sum total of the...
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