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PEOPLE v.

ROMUALDEZ and MABUNAY (September 10, 1932)


G.R. No. 31012
Ponente: Vickers, J.
Action: Appeal from a judgment of the CFI of Manila
Keywords (Topic): crimes against public interest, falsification of public documents

SHORT STORY: Estela Romualdez altered the grades of Luis Mabunay in two of his bar examination booklets in order for
him to pass the Bar Exam. Court found Romualdez guilty as principal of the crime of falsification on public and official
documents under Art. 300 of the Penal Code (now Art. 171 of the RPC), while Mabunay was found guilty as conspirator
and co-principal under Art. 301 of the Penal Code (now Art. 172 of the RPC).
FACTS:

Estela Romualdez was the secretary of Supreme Court Justice Norberto Romualdez (then the head of the Bar Examination
Committee), and by reason of said duty, had under her care the compositions and documents for the bar examinations of
August and September 1926. Luis Mabunay was one of the takers of the said bar exams.

During this time there were two separate committees for the bar exam: the Committee of Bar Examiners, which was in charge
of preparing the test questions, and the Committee of Correctors, which was in charge of reviewing and grading the test
booklets.

Romualdez, together with Mabunay, went through the archives of the Supreme Court, took the compositions of Mabunay, and
erased his grade of 58% in Remedial Law and 63% in Civil Law, and replaced them with 64% and 73%, respectively. The
resulting general average of Mabunay became 75% (originally 72.8%), thus enabling him to pass the bar exam. (Passing
grade was 75%).

A review of Mabunays booklets led to the discovery of the alterations. Romualdez admitted that she was the one who
changed the grades, arguing that she had the authority to revise the compositions already reviewed by the other correctors
and to change the grades already given, in her capacity as secretary of the head of the Bar Exam Committee, as one of the
correctors, and also as supervisor of the other correctors. In addition, she claimed that she corrected said composition without
knowing the identity of its owner, and that she had never met Luis Mabunay prior to the first day of the trial of this case.

Trial court found Romualdez guilty as principal of the crime of falsification on public and official documents, while Mabunay
was found guilty as an accomplice.
ISSUES:

WON Estela Romualdez is guilty of falsification of public documents. YES.

WON the examination papers were public and official documents. (Stated differently, WON the act of altering the grades in the
examination papers constituted a crime). YES.

WON Romualdez was authorized to make the alterations. NO.

WON Luis Mabunay was liable of the same crime as an accomplice. NO. He is liable as a conspirator/ co-principal.
RULES:
Art. 171. Falsification by public officer, employee or notary or ecclesiastical minister. The penalty of prision mayor and a
fine not to exceed 5000 pesos shall be imposed on any public officer, employee, or notary who, taking advantage of his official
position shall falsify a document by committing any of the following acts:
o x x x (6) Making any alteraction or intercalation in a genuine document which changes its meaning x x x
Art. 172. Falsification by private individuals and use of falsified documents. The penalty of prision correccional in its
medium and maximum periods and a fine of note more than 5000 pesos shall be imposed upon:
o (1) Any private individual who shall commit any of the falsifications enumerated in the next preceding article in any
public or official document x x x

The phrase falsification of a document has a technical meaning and according to Art. 300 (of the Penal Code) may be
committed in the following ways1:
o (2) By causing it to appear that persons have participated in any act or proceeding when they did not in fact so
participate
o (3) By attributing to persons who have participated in an act or proceeding statements other than those in fact made
by them
o (6) By making any alteration or intercalation in a genuine document which changes its meaning.
ANALYSIS
YES. The acts of Romualdez are covered by paragraphs 2, 3, and 6 (see Rule). She made the alterations in such a way as to
make it appear that the correctors had participated therein, because she blotted out the grades of the correctors and wrote the
new grades opposite their (the correctors) initials. She in that way attributed to the correctors statements other than those in
fact made by them.
YES. The examination of candidates for admission to the bar is a judicial function. It cannot therefore be maintained that the
papers submitted by the candidates for the exam were not public and official documents, or that the alleged alteration was not
a crime.
NO. The Chairman of the Bar Examination Committee was presumed to have discharged his duties in accordance with the law
and it was inconceivable that he would without any warrant of law give or attempt to give Romualdez the unlimited authority
which she claimed to have received, thereby allowing her to alter the grades as she pleases, without recording or reporting the
same. Even if she was given such authority, she would no longer be allowed to make the alterations because she already
knew that the booklets belonged to Mabunay.2 She gave no explanation as to why she raised the grades of Mabunay other
than that it was a happy coincidence.
NO. He is liable as a co-principal and conspirator. Mabunay had already failed in two previous bar exams, making this his
third failure. Evidence shows that Mabunay withdrew Php600 from his bank account and that a few days later, Romualdez
deposited Php510 in her own bank account. Both failed to present any explanation for or proof of the purpose for withdrawing
or depositing the said amounts.3 The alterations were made AFTER Mabunay had failed (the third time), and he withdrew the
money after he had time to learn from Romualdez that he had failed. Therefore, Romualdez and Mabunay acted in common
accord with the crime.
CONCLUSION/DISPOSITIVE:
Decision of trial court MODIFIED. Penalty of Romualdez increased to eight years and one day of prision mayor. Luis Mabunay is liable
as a conspirator and co-principal; penalty increased to three years, six months, and twenty-one days of prision correccional.

It has a technical meaning, and according to article 300 may be committed in the following eight ways:1. By counterfeiting or imitating any handwriting,
signature, or rubric.
2. By causing it to appear that persons have participated in any act or proceeding when they did not in fact so participate.
3. By attributing to persons who have participated in an act or proceeding statements other than those in fact made by them.
4. By making untruthful statements in a narration of facts.
5. By altering true dates.
6. By making any alteration or intercalation in a genuine document which changes its meaning.
7. By issuing in authenticated form a document purporting to be a copy of an original document when no such original exists, or by including in such a copy a
statement contrary to, or different from, that of the genuine original.
8. By intercalating any instrument or note relative to the issuance thereof in a protocol, registry or
official book.

2 Justice Romualdez testified that he believed that on a certain occasion, he gave Romualdez the understanding that she could review the compositions already graded by
the other correctors, PROVIDED that she do so to prevent an injustice and WITHOUT KNOWING the owner of the booklet. The Court held that this statement of his was a
mere expression of opinion and not admissible as evidence that she was given the alleged authority.

3 When [the accused] fails to offer such proof [to rebut certain inferences against him], the natural conclusion is that the proof, if produced, instead of rebutting, would
SUPPORT the inferences against him. (In other words, since Romualdez and Mabunay both failed to produce evidence as to what the bank account transactions were for, it
can be assumed that the evidence is incriminating to them, thus giving them reason to hide it, and thus giving the court reason to conclude that these transactions were not for
a legitimate purpose).