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G.R. No. Nos. 101127-31 August 7, 1992

C. REYES, Accused-Appellant.
The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.chanrobles virtual law library
Rosendo C. Ramos for accused-appellant.
In its resolution of May 13, 1992, the First Division of this Court referred
en consulta to the Court En Banc the question as to whether herein
accused-appellant who was convicted, inter alia, of estafa under
paragraph 2(d), Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code and sentenced
therefor to serve twenty-two years of reclusion perpetua, with its
accessory penalties and liability for indemnification, may be allowed to
remain on bail during the pendency of her appeal from said conviction.
A definitive disposition of this issue, which is of first impression, gains
added significance in light of our resolution en banc in People vs. Ricardo
C. Cortez 1 which, for the guidance of the bench and bar, laid down
policies concerning the effectivity of the bail of the accused and which are
reproduced hereunder for ready reference:
xxx xxx xxx
1) When an accused is charged with an offense which under the law
existing at the time of its commission and at the time of the application
for bail is punishable by a penalty lower than reclusion perpetua and is
out on bail, and after trial is convicted by the trial court of the offense
charged or of a lesser offense than that charged in the complaint or
information, he may be allowed to remain free on his original bail
pending the resolution of his appeal, unless the proper court directs
otherwise pursuant to Rule 114, Sec. 2(a) of the Rules of Court, as
2) When an accused is charged with a capital offense or an offense which
under the law at the time of its commission and at the time of the
application for bail is punishable by reclusion perpetua and is out on bail,
and after trial is convicted by the trial court of a lesser offense than that
charged in the complaint or information, the same rule set forth in the
preceding paragraph shall be applied;
3) When an accused is charged with a capital offense or an offense which
under the law at the time of its commission and at the time of the
application for bail as punishable by reclusion perpetua and is out on bail,

and after trial is convicted by the trial court of the offense charged. his
bond shall be cancelled and the accused shall be placed in confinement
pending resolution of his appeal.
As to criminal cases covered under the third rule above cited, which are
now pending appeal before this Court where the accused is still on
provisional liberty, the following rules are laid down:
1) This Court shall order the bondsman to surrender the accused, within
ten (10) days from notice, to the court of origin. The bondsman,
thereupon, shall inform this Court of the fact of surrender, after which
the cancellation of the bond shall be ordered by this Court.
2) RTC shall order the transmittal of the accused to the National Bureau
of Prisons thru the Philippine National Police as the accused shall remain
under confinement pending resolution of his appeal.
3) If the accused-appellant is not surrendered within the aforesaid period
of ten (10) days, his bond shall be forfeited and an order of arrest shall be
issued by this Court. The appeal taken by the accused shall also be
dismissed under Section 8, Rule 124 of the Revised Rules of Court as he
shall be to have jumped bail.
In the cases at bar, appellant was charged in the Regional Trial Court of
Manila, Branch 37, in three cases for violations of Batas Pambansa Blg.
22 2 and two cases of estafa. 3 These cases were jointly tried and a
decision thereon was rendered by Judge Angelina S. Gutierrez on March
12, 1991. 4chanrobles virtual law library
On the three cases for violations of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22, appellant
was convicted and sentenced to a total penalty of two years of
imprisonment and to pay a total fine of P96,290.00.
On the two indictments for estafa, in Criminal Case No. 86-51209 she
was found guilty and sentenced to twenty-two years of reclusion perpetua
with its accessory penalties, to indemnify the complaining witness in the
sum of P80,540.00 and to pay the costs; and in Criminal Case No. 8651210, she was likewise convicted and imposed an indeterminate
sentence of six years and one day of prision mayor, as minimum, to
fourteen years, eight months and one day of reclusion temporal, as
maximum, together with the accessory penalties, as well as to indemnify
the offended party in the sum of P15,750.00 and to pay the costs.
Elevated to the Court of Appeals for appellate review, said cases were

forwarded by said court to this Court in view of the penalty of reclusion

perpetua involved therein. In the meantime, it appears that appellant is
under provisional liberty on bail in the aforesaid criminal cases, including
Criminal Case No. 86-51209, under a corporate surety bond posted by
Oriental Assurance Corporation in the amount of P86,000.00. 5 The Court
notes that said bond was provided pursuant to the order of the trial court
dated May 16, 1991, 6 hence prior to our resolution of October 15, 1991
quoted in limine.
As earlier stated, the issue presented now is whether, under the
considerations in the foregoing discussion, appellant should be permitted
to remain on bail. A chronological flashback into the constitutional and
statutory changes relevant to this issue, in juxtaposition with the state of
the penal laws during the periods material thereto, would accordingly be
desirable and instructive.
On October 22, 1975, Presidential Decree No. 818 introduced the
following amendment to Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code:
Sec. 1. Any person who shall defraud another by means of false pretenses
or fraudulent acts as defined in paragraph 2(d) of Article 315 of the
Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 4885, shall be
punished by:
1st. The penalty of reclusion temporal if the amount of the fraud is over
12,000 pesos but does not exceed 22,000 pesos, and if such amount
exceeds the latter sum, the penalty provided in this paragraph shall be
imposed in its maximum period, adding one year for each additional
10,000 pesos; but the total penalty which may be imposed shall in no case
exceed thirty years. In such cases, and in connection with the accessory
penalties which may be imposed under the Revised Penal Code, the
penalty shall be termed reclusion perpetua;
xxx xxx xxx
Preliminarily, it may be asked whether a penalty higher than reclusion
temporal but less than thirty (30) years may properly be categorized and
considered as embraced within the penalty of reclusion perpetua, as has
been provided in said amendatory decree, the common praxis being to
attribute to reclusion perpetua and the other perpetual penalties a
duration of thirty (30) years.
We hold that there is legal basis, both in law and logic, for Presidential
Decree No. 818 to declare that any penalty exceeding twenty (20) years,
or the maximum duration of reclusion temporal, is within the range of
reclusion perpetua.

It will be observed that Article 27 of the Code 7 provides for the minimum
and maximum ranges of all the penalties in the Code (except bond to keep
the peace which shall be for such period of time as the court may
determine) from arresto menor to reclusion temporal, the latter being
specifically from twelve years and one day to twenty years. For reclusion
perpetua, however, there is no specification as to its minimum and
maximum range, as the aforesaid article merely provides that "(a)ny
person sentenced to any of the perpetual penalties shall be pardoned after
undergoing the penalty for thirty years, unless such person by reason of
his conduct or some other serious cause shall be considered by the Chief
Executive as unworthy of pardon."chanrobles virtual law library
The other applicable reference to reclusion perpetua is found in Article 70
of the Code which, in laying down the rule on successive service of
sentences where the culprit has to serve more than three penalties,
provides, that "the maximum duration of the convict's sentence shall not
be more than three-fold the length of time corresponding to the most
severe of the penalties imposed upon him," and "(i)n applying the
provisions of this rule the duration of perpetual penalties (pena perpetual)
shall be computed at thirty years."
The imputed duration of thirty (30) years for reclusion perpetua,
therefore, is only to serve as the basis for determining the convict's
eligibility for pardon or for the application of the three-fold rule in the
service of multiple penalties. Since, however, in all the graduated scales
of penalties in the Code, as set out in Articles 25, 70 and 71, reclusion
perpetua is the penalty immediately next higher to reclusion temporal, it
follows by necessary implication that the minimum of reclusion perpetua
is twenty (20) years and one (1) day with a maximum duration thereafter
to last for the rest of the convict's natural life although, pursuant to
Article 70, it appears that the maximum period for the service of
penalties shall not exceed forty (40) years. it would be legally absurd and
violative of the scales of penalties in the Code to reckon the minimum of
reclusion perpetua at thirty (30) years since there would thereby be a
resultant lacuna whenever the penalty exceeds the maximum twenty (20)
years of reclusion temporal but is less than thirty (30) years.
On the main issue now, it will be recalled that before the ratification of
the present Constitution on February 2, 1987, the rule on non-bailability
of a criminal offense was singularly in the case of a capital offense where
the evidence of guilt is strong. 8 Thus, as late as the 1985 Rules on
Criminal Procedure effective on January 1, 1985, bail was a matter of
right, except in a capital offense when the evidence of guilt thereof is
strong 9 and, following the traditional concept, a capital offense, as the

term is used in said Rules, is an offense which, under the law existing at
the time of its commission and at the time of the application to be
admitted to bail, may be punished with death. 10 Offenses punishable
with reclusion perpetua, were accordingly bailable.
With the prohibition in the 1987 Constitution against the imposition of
the death penalty, 11 a correlative provision therein categorically declared
the unavailability of bail to persons charged with offenses punishable by
reclusion perpetua when the evidence of guilt is strong. 12
Correspondingly, the aforecited Section 3 of Rule 114 was amended to
provide that no bail shall be granted to those charged with "an offense
which, under the law at the time of its commission and at the time of the
application for bail, is punishable by reclusion perpetua, when evidence of
guilt is strong." 13 There can be no pretense that such unequivocal and
explicit provisions in the Constitution and the Rules of Court would
admit of any exception, qualification or distinction.
With such developmental antecedents, it may not be said that the
framers of the 1987 Constitution, a number of whom were lawyers and
who can plausibly be credited even by the censorious with at least a
working knowledge of criminal law and procedure, were unaware of the
felonies under the Revised Penal Code which were already punishable
with the penalty of reclusion perpetua and which, with the amendments
introduced by the present Constitution, would become non-bailable
offenses as a consequence. Specifically with respect to the offense of
estafa involved in the present case, the members of the Constitutional
Commission could not have been oblivious of Presidential Decree No, 818,
which took effect as early as 1975 and was given extensive media
coverage at the instance or with the cooperation of the banking
community, providing for the penalty of reclusion perpetua where
bouncing checks of the requisite amount are involved.
For that matter, as will hereafter be demonstrated, there are other
crimes involving government and private funds or property which
theretofore were also already punished with reclusion perpetua. Hence,
under the rule of contemporanea expositio and since the felony of estafa
was not expressly or impliedly excluded from the aforestated provisions
on non-bailability, we see no reason why an accused charged with estafa
punishable by reclusion perpetua should now be given the exceptional and
favored treatment of being admitted to bail. The same may be said of any
accused charged with any offense so punished, whether the penalty of
reclusion perpetua is by direct statutory prescription or is imposed as a
consequence of the interplay of related provisions of the Code.
It is suggested that since estafa is a crime against property and

supposedly not as "heinous" as crimes against persons or chastity, such as

murder or rape, it should not be equated with the latter felonies in
justifying the denial of bail to the accused. From the preceding
disquisition, the obvious riposte is that this is a matter which should
properly be addressed to the legislature. It is not for this Court, by
judicial legislation, to amend the pertinent provisions of the Revised
Penal Code, much less the Constitution. Nor is it for us to intrude into
the policy considerations, absent blatant abuse of legislative power or
capricious exercise thereof, which impelled the legislative categorization
of an offense as being so abominable or execrable as to call for a denial of
the right to bail. On this score, we can take judicial notice that
multimillion or large-scale estafa cases and inveterate or professional
swindlers have inflicted untold damages and misery not only on one or
two but on countless victims in this country.
It will further be observed that Presidential Decree No. 818 does not
apply to all forms of estafa but only to estafa by means of deceit under
paragraph 2(d) of Article 315, that is, estafa through the use of so-called
bouncing checks. 14 The preambular clauses of said decree duly express
the rationale for the amendment introduced thereby in this wise:
WHEREAS, reports received of late indicate an upsurge of estafa
(swindling) cases committed by means of bouncing checks;
WHEREAS, if not checked at once, these criminal acts would erode the
people's confidence in the use of negotiable instruments as a medium of
commercial transaction and consequently result in the retardation of
trade and commerce and the undermining of the banking system of the
WHEREAS, it is vitally necessary to arrest and curb the rise in this kind
of estafa cases by increasing the existing penalties provided therefor;
xxx xxx xxx
Now, as earlier stated, on analogous considerations in the formulation of
punitive policies, the penalty of reclusion perpetua is imposed in one
felony under the title on crimes committed by public officers and in three
felonies under the title on crimes against property. These provisions have
been in the Revised Penal Code long before Presidential Decree No. 818
was effected and may have been the bases for the amendments
introduced by the latter.
Thus, in malversation of public funds or property, if the amount involved
exceeds P22,000.00, the penalty shall be reclusion temporal in its

maximum period to reclusion perpetua. 15chanrobles virtual law library

In robbery, when by reason or on the occasion of which any of the physical
injuries penalized in subdivision 2 of Article 263 is committed (which
includes mere incapacity from the victim's habitual work for more than
ninety days), the penalty is reclusion temporal. 16 However, if in said
robbery the property taken is mail matter or large cattle, the offender
shall suffer the penalty next higher in degree, that is, reclusion perpetua.
17chanrobles virtual law library
In the crime of theft, if the value of the thing stolen exceeds P22,000.00,
the penalty shall be prision mayor in its maximum period and one year
for each additional P10,000.00, but the total penalty shall not exceed
twenty years or reclusion temporal. 18 However, if that crime of theft is
attended by any of the qualifying circumstances which convert the taking
into qualified theft, the penalty next higher by two degrees shall be
imposed, 19 that is, at least reclusion perpetua.
The felony of destructive arson, which includes the burning of any
building where people usually gather or congregate for a definite purpose
is now punished by reclusion temporal in its maximum period to death 20
regardless of the resultant effects or amount of damages. The same
increased penalty is imposed on other forms of arson formerly defined in
paragraph l(c) and (d) of Article 321, which have now been incorporated
by Presidential Decree No. 1744 in Article 320 as destructive arson,
regardless of the damages caused or whether or not the purpose is
From the foregoing discussion, it is evident that the legislative criteria for
the imposition of reclusion perpetua in said offenses took into account not
only the inherent odious or outrageous nature of the crime, such as the
taking of a life or an assault against chastity, but also either the moral
depravity or criminal perversity shown by the acts of the accused, or the
necessity for protection of property in the governmental, financial or
economic interests of the country. The objectives of Presidential Decree
No. 818 are indubitably within the ambit of the same legislative
intendment and the foregoing justifications for the imposition of higher
penalties and the consequent denial of bail to the malefactor.
ACCORDINGLY, the Court hereby RESOLVES (1) to ORDER the
bondsman, Oriental Assurance Corporation, to surrender accusedappellant Cresencia C. Reyes within ten (10) days from notice to the
Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 37, and to immediately inform
this Court of such fact of surrender; and (2) to REQUIRE said Regional
Trial Court, immediately after such surrender, to order the transmittal of

the accused-appellant to the Bureau of Corrections through the

Philippine National Police and to forthwith report to this Court its
compliance therewith.
Narvasa, C.J., Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin, GrioAquino, Medialdea, Davide, Jr., Romero, Nocon and Bellosillo, JJ.,