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GRACE SAN DIEGO y TRINIDAD, Petitioner, vs. THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. G.R. No. 176114.April 8, 2015

GRACE SAN DIEGO y TRINIDAD, Petitioner, vs. THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. G.R. No. 176114.April 8, 2015



Facts: Petitioner Grace San Diego had been the accountant of Obando Fisherman's Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Inc. (OFMPCI) from January 1993 to March 11, 1997. Petitioner was in charge of accounting all business transactions of the cooperative and performed the functions of cashier and teller, granted loans and did check discounting and trading. She also recorded and reported the cash in bank transactions and summarized the bank transactions for the day and was also entrusted with a set of blank checks pre-signed and was authorized to fill up the checks, particularly the date, the amount in words and in figures, and the payee.

That from November 18, 1996 to January 6, 1997, petitioner acted as cashier when Teresita Gonzales was on maternity leave and acted as teller from January 13- 30, 1997 when Flordeliza Ocampo was on her honeymoon. She then, on both occasions, had complete access to the cash vaults and filing cabinets of the cooperative where its documents were kept.


On March 12, 1997, petitioner stopped reporting for work. Narciso Correa, the General Manager of the cooperative, then instructed the bookkeeper, Angelita Dimapelis, to prepare bank book balance based on the cash transactions during the day at the office. They tried to establish the accountability of San Diego by comparing the cash position she prepared and certified as correct against the balances of the bank. Dimapelis asked the different depository banks for their bank balances since their savings account passbooks and bank statements were missing at that time.


It was only after Corres and Dimapelis reconciled the cash position with the bank balances that they discovered the discrepancies in petitioner's report. The audited figure showed the cash on hand in bank to be Php3,712,442.80 as of March 11, 1997.However, petitioner reported and certified the cash on hand of the cooperative with the total amount of Php9,590,455.17 to be correct. Dimapelis reported the said discrepancies to Correa and the Board of Directors. It was then that they decided to file a criminal complaint against San Diego.


the RTC rendered a Decision dated August 20, 2001, finding petitioner Grace San Diego guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged. The CA then affirmed the decision of the RTC.


Issue: Whether or not circumstantial evidence is inevitable when there is no eye witness.


Ruling: The CA did not err when it ruled that the proof adduced by the prosecution is sufficient to prove petitioner's guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The prosecution presented the testimony of its expert witness, Alfonso Piscasio, the cooperative's independent auditor since 1992. He stated that his audit was based on standard and generally accepted auditing procedures. The audit report, duly offered and presented in the trial, was supported by certifications by several depository banks of the cooperative indicating its balance on its account. Records are bereft of any showing that the audit report made by the independent auditor is erroneous and unsupported by documents and bank statements. Thus, there lies no reason for this Court not to afford full faith and credit to his report.


Petitioner's own expert witness, Criselda Sarmiento Oplas, failed to dispute the audit report presented. She admitted to focusing her review on bank reconciliation made by Piscasio. It was only upon cross-examination that she saw the daily cash flow that petitioner prepared and certified. She did not go over the primary books of accounts of the cooperative like the ledgers, journals and vouchers nor its commercial documents such as invoices, returned checks including account deposits. She limited herself to the monthly conciliation reports. Petitioner also asserts that the People did not present any witness who categorically testified that petitioner ran away with the supposed missing funds. She claimed that the demonstration that some checks of varying amounts not recorded in petitioner's books notwithstanding their return or dishonor, only proved her incompetence in the performance of her assigned task and not necessarily criminal authorship.


This Court does not agree. It was held in People v. Ragon that resort to circumstantial evidence is inevitable when there are no eyewitnesses to a crime. Direct evidence of the commission of a crime is not the only matrix wherefrom a trial court may draw its conclusion and finding of guilt. The courts are allowed to rule on the bases of circumstantial evidence if the following requisites concur: (1) there is more than one circumstance, (2) the facts from which the inferences are derived are proven, and (3) the combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt. The corollary rule is that the circumstances established must constitute an unbroken chain which leads to one fair and reasonable conclusion pointing to the accused, to the exclusion of all others, as the guilty person.

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