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PEOPLE V WAGAS

G.R. NO. 157943| J. BERSAMIN| SEP 4, 2013

FACTS:

This is an appeal from the decision of the Regional Trial Court, convicting respondent Wagas
of Estafa. It was alleged in the complaint that Wagas placed an order, over the telephone, to a certain
Ligaray for 200 bags of rice. By reason of the alleged transaction, Wagas issued a check payable to
bearer in the amount of 200,000 pesos. Upon presentment of the check for payment, the check was
dishonored because of insufficiency of funds. When demands made by Ligaray remained unheeded
he filed a complaint for Estafa against Wagas. On cross-examination, Ligaray admitted that he did not
personally meet Wagas because they transacted through telephone only; that he released the 200
bags of rice directly to Robert Canada, the brother-in-law of Wagas, who signed the delivery receipt
upon receiving the rice. Wagas, on the other hand, countered that he did not issue the check in favor
of Ligaray but it was issued to his brother in law. Trial ensued and RTC convicted Wagas for Estafa.
When motion for reconsideration was denied, petitioner appealed directly to the Supreme Court.
Wagas now contends that RTC committed an error in convicting him of Estafa because the
prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Wagas issued the subject check to Ligaray
to defraud him.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the prosecution was able to prove that the check was issued to Ligaray?

RULING:

No. In every criminal prosecution, the identity of the offender, like the crime itself, must be established
by proof beyond reasonable doubt. In that regard, the Prosecution did not establish beyond
reasonable doubt that it was Wagas who had defrauded Ligaray by issuing the check. In the first
place the transaction was made over the phone, and Ligaray has no sufficient basis to conclude that it
was really Wagas he was talking to. Even after the dishonor of the check, Ligaray did not personally
see and meet whoever he had dealt with and to whom he had made the demand for payment, and
that he had talked with him only over the telephone. Moreover, the fact that the check was payable to
bearer rendered it highly probable that Wagas really did not issue the check in favor of Ligaray. Under
the Negotiable instrument law, a check payable to bearer could be negotiated by mere delivery
without the need of an indorsement. Hence, petition was granted and Wagas was acquitted of the
crime of Estafa.