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Sales v.

Adapon RY2K1-095, RTC, Batangas, Branch 87, is a


falsified document.
Petitioner: Sales
Respondent: Adapon She claims that she did not sign the subject deed,
thus, she disowns the purported signature
appearing on top of her name in said document,
Petitioner Sales and Respondent Adapon were the same having been placed there without
siblings of the of the late Spouses Pedro and her knowledge or consent.
Severina Adapon.
She was in the United States on November 5,
Sales was a US immigrant. 1990 when the document was supposedly
executed and could not have appeared before
On May 25, 2001, private respondent, the notary public in Makati City.
represented by her son Adelfo A. Sales, filed a
complaint against her siblings, including herein Hence, the instant complaint charging herein
petitioners and other heirs of the late Spouses Adapons with the crime of use of falsified
Pedro and Severina Adapon for nullification of documents under Article 172, par. 3 of the
various certificates of title emanating from TCT Revised Penal Code.
No. T-6905 and recovery of properties covered
by the void certificates. On June 21, 2002, petitioners filed their Joint
Counter-Affidavit with Motion to Dismiss or to
Said case was docketed as Civil Case No. Suspend Preliminary Investigation.
RY2K1-095 and currently pending before the
Regional Trial Court of Rosario, Batangas, The Adapons alleged that her daughter, Victoria
Branch 87. Sales, represented Sales during the execution of
the deed of extra-judicial partition. They were
In her complaint, private respondent alleged that assured of the authority of Victoria to represent
during her absence and without her her mother and that they acted in good faith that
knowledge and consent, the subject property the deed was validly executed by or on behalf of
was subdivided several times and most of it private respondent. Petitioners further contend
were parceled out among the defendants in that they could not be charged for use of
varying areas and registered in their names. falsified document since they have no
knowledge of the alleged falsity of the deed.
Private respondent also averred that she never
agreed to an arrangement for the subdivision of Prosecutor Cuevas
the subject property in the manner made by the
defendants, neither did she recall any extra- On September 9, 2002, Prosecutor Cuevas
judicial settlement of the estate of her parents, recommended the dismissal albeit without
much less a judicial partition thereof. prejudice of the instant complaint on the ground
that the affidavit was not sworn to by Sales
On June 20, 2001, defendants filed a motion to before a fiscal, state prosecutor or
dismiss the above complaint, attaching thereto a government official authorized to administer
Deed of Extra-judicial Settlement Among Heirs, oath as required by Rule 112, Sec. 3, par. a of
purportedly executed in Makati City on the Rules of Criminal Procedure.
November 5, 1990, by and among the eleven
(11) children of the late Spouses Pedro and Sales claims that that she is submitting her
Severina Adapon, including herein private affidavit sworn to before a Vice Consul of the
respondent. Philippine Consulate General of New York City.

Thereafter, on September 4, 2002, private On March 27, 2003, Prosecutor Cuevas issued a
respondent executed an affidavit subscribed and Resolution dismissing the instant complaint on
sworn to before Vice-Consul Maria Lourdes C. the ground that it is impossible for him to
Legaspi in New York City, USA, claiming that proceed with the preliminary investigation
the deed of extra-judicial settlement attached without the appearance of private respondent
to the motion to dismiss which herein who will be subjected to some clarificatory
petitioners submitted in Civil Case No. questions on certain matters.
Preliminary investigation is an inquiry or
Department of Justice proceeding to determine whether or not there
is sufficient ground to engender a well-
The DOJ assailed the Resolution which reversed founded belief that a crime has been
and set aside the March 27, 2003 Resolution of committed; and that the respondent, who is
the Provincial Prosecutor and ordered the filing probably guilty thereof, should be held for trial.
of the corresponding information against herein
Adapons. Although a preliminary investigation is not a trial
and is not intended to usurp the function of the
The DOJ pointed out that the dismissal on the trial court, it is not a casual affair; the officer
sole basis of the non attendance of the petitioner conducting the same investigates or inquires
at the clarificatory hearing was erroneous into the facts concerning the commission of
because: the crime with the end in view of determining
whether or not an information may be
(1) the investigating prosecutor did not state prepared against the accused.
the matters that still needed to be clarified to
justify the necessity for her to personally appear After all, the purpose of preliminary
that her failure to do the same would cause the investigation is not only to determine whether
dismissal of the complaint; and, [No stating of there is sufficient ground to engender a well-
matters to be clarified] founded belief that a crime has been committed
and the respondent therein is probably guilty
(2) the totality of the evidence presented thereof and should be held for trial; it is just as
already established probable cause to indict well for the purpose of securing the innocent
the respondents for the violation of Article 172, against hasty, malicious and oppressive
paragraph 3, of the Revised Penal Code. prosecution, and to protect him from an open
[Probable Cause] and public accusation of a crime, from the
trouble, expense and anxiety of a public trial.

Court of Appeals The most important purpose of the preliminary


investigation is to determine whether or not a
The CA assailed the decision of the DOJ and crime has been committed, and whether or
dismissed the complaint. not the respondent is probably guilty of the
crime.
Citing Section 4, Rule 112 of the Rule of Court,
it declared that the DOJ was guilty of grave A probable cause is a reasonable ground of
abuse of discretion because the investigating presumption that a matter is, or may be, well
prosecutor was bound to personally examine the founded on such a state of facts in the mind of
petitioner as the complainant and her witnesses; the prosecutor as would lead a person of ordinary
and that the continuous absence of the caution and prudence to believe, or entertain an
complainant from the clarificatory hearing had honest or strong suspicion, that a thing is so.
effectively prevented the investigating prosecutor
from determining the existence of probable cause In view of the foregoing, the investigating
against the respondents. prosecutor gravely erred in dismissing the
petitioner's criminal complaint for falsification
Issue: simply because of her non-appearance at the
clarificatory hearing. The following are the
W/N the CA erred in dismissing the complaint reasons:
because of the failure of Sales to appear at the
clarificatory hearing set by the investigating a. Her personal presence was excusable
prosecutor. because of her advanced age and the
distance of her place of residence at the
Held: time (New York, United States of
America) from the Province of
The appeal is meritorious. The CA erred in Batangas, the venue of the proceedings.
dismissing the complaint. (Her age and her location)
b. the records already contained sufficient Section 4. Resolution of investigating
evidence upon which the investigating prosecutor and its review. - If the
prosecutor could make a finding of investigating prosecutor finds cause to hold
probable cause. (There was already the respondent for trial, he shall prepare the
probable cause) resolution and information. He shall certify
c. Sales was represented in the under oath in the information that he, or as
proceedings by her son-in-law Jerico B. shown by the record, an authorized officer,
Sales, whom she had constituted as her has personally examined the complainant
agent for purposes of pursuing the and his witnesses; that there is reasonable
criminal case against the respondents. ground to believe that a crime has been
Being her agent expressly authorized committed and that the accused is probably
for that special purpose, Jerico could guilty thereof; that the accused was
competently respond to the informed of the complaint and of the
investigating prosecutor's clarificatory evidence submitted against him; and that he
questions in a manner legally binding was given an opportunity to submit
on her. controverting evidence. Otherwise, he shall
d. Had the investigating prosecutor recommend the dismissal of the complaint.
sincerely considered her personal
presence as absolutely necessary in the The opinion of the CA was predicated on a
determination of probable cause, he very restrictive reading of the
should have granted her request to term complainant as used in Section 4, Rule
have her deposition taken instead. 112 of the Rules of Court.
Such power was within his discretion
as the investigating prosecutor. In criminal proceedings, the real party in
e. The investigating prosecutor's requiring interest is the State, and the complaint or
her personal presence at the information is always brought in the
clarificatory hearing was probably name of the People of the Philippines, it
unnecessary and superfluous in view of being sufficient that the complainant is
his failure to specify the matters still named in the information or complaint as the
needing to be clarified. offended party. (Rule 110; Section 2)

Although it was concededly discretionary on the Sales is merely witnesses for the
part of the investigating prosecutor to call for the Prosecution of the trial. Her participation
clarificatory hearing considering that Section in the criminal case as the complainant was
4(e)13 of Rule 112 of the Rules of Court has used similar to that of the relator in other
the word may in assigning such prerogative to jurisdictions, the real party in interest in
him, the discretion was not unbounded because whose name a legal action is brought by the
the rule precisely stated that the clarificatory State, or who relates the facts on which the
hearing was to be set only "if there are such facts action is based.
and issues to be clarified from a party or a
witness." The offense of falsification complained of
was a public offense the charges for which
The CA bases its reason on the following that the could be initiated by anyone, as opposed to a
dismissal of the criminal complaint was private crime whose institution could be
warranted because the investigating prosecutor made only by particular individuals.22This
had not personally examined the petitioner as the distinction validated the non-indispensability
complainant due to her failure to attend the of the personal presence of the petitioner as
clarificatory hearing. It held that the personal the complainant in the proceedings to
examination of the complainant by the determine the existence of probable cause
investigating prosecutor was a prerequisite to the against the respondents. We note that she
finding of probable cause, citing in support had already submitted relevant sworn
Section 4, Rule 112 of the Rules of Court, which declarations on the falsification, as well as
pertinently provides as the affidavit of Jerico, her agent, containing
follows:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary allegations necessary and sufficient to
establish probable cause based on his direct
familiarity with her signature and his
personal knowledge of the denial of the
signature appearing in the Deed of Extra
Judicial Settlement Among Heirs presented
before the Regional Trial Court in Batangas.

It has been held that "when a person whose


signature was affixed to a document denies
his signature therein, a prima facie case for
falsification is established which the
defendant must overcome" (US v. Viloria, 1
Phil 682; People v. Villafranca, [CA] 40
O.G. 4622). In this case, respondents'
alleged reliance upon the authority of
Victoria Adapon Sales-Santiago to represent
complainant in the discussion and execution
of the document of partition cannot
overcome the prima facie case of
falsification created by complainant's denial
of her purported signature on the subject
deed of extrajudicial settlement which she
could not have executed as she was then in
the United States where she permanently
resides.

WHEREFORE, the Court GRANTS the


petition for review
on certiorari; REVERSES and SETS
ASIDEthe decision promulgated by the
Court of Appeals on October 19,
2005; REINSTATES the resolution issued
on December 14, 2004 issued by the
Department of Justice directing the
Provincial Prosecutor of Batangas to file the
corresponding information for use of
falsified document under Article 172,
paragraph 3, of the Revised Penal
Code against respondents Benjamin, Teofilo
and Ofelia, all surnamed Adapon;
and ORDERS the respondents to pay the
costs of suit.