Last October 2014, I sought the service of my college friend to arrange my brother’s leisure trip to South Korea. We agreed that the whole travel package is worth P50,000.00. Since it was supposed to be a surprise gift for my brother, I immediately paid so that my friend could start arranging the trip, which was to be taken during Christmas break. On the second week of December, she contacted me to inform me that she was not able to arrange the trip. I felt so frustrated but I tried to remain calm. I told her that I just want my money back, but until now she has not returned my money. If she still fails to do so by the end of this month, is it possible for me to file a case of estafa against her?
It appears that there exists a contract between you and your college friend whereby she promised to render the service of arranging your brother’s leisure trip upon your payment of the sum of Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000). Given that she has canceled your contract on account that she will no longer be able to comply with her obligation, you are not left without recourse. It is expressly provided for under Article 1191 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines that: “The power to rescind obligations is implied in reciprocal ones, in case one of the obligors should not comply with what is incumbent upon him. x x x The injured party may choose between the fulfillment and the rescission of the obligation, with the payment of damages in either case. He may also seek rescission, even after he has chosen fulfillment, if the latter should become impossible. x x x” (Underlining supplied)
Accordingly, if she will still be unable to return to you the entire amount of P50,000, we cannot conclude at this point whether you may be able to file a complaint of estafa against her. While it may be true that you have somehow been prejudiced by her shortcoming and inadequacy, it is not apparent from the facts that you have shared with us whether she has misappropriated or converted the money that you paid for purposes other than what you have agreed upon. It bears stressing that what Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) penalizes is when a person “x x x shall defraud another by any of the means mentioned hereinbelow x x x 1. With unfaithfulness or abuse of confidence, namely: x x x (b) By misappropriating or converting, to the prejudice of another, money, goods or any other personal property received by the offender in trust or on commission, or for administration, or under any other obligation involving the duty to make delivery of or to return the same, even though such obligation be totally or partially guaranteed by a bond; or by denying having received such money, goods or other property; x x x”
If you fail to establish the foregoing elements, at most, you may file a small claims case against her before the Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Municipal Trial Court or Municipal Circuit Trial Court of the place where you reside.
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org