Prescription may render falsification raps worthless

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Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
My mother has considered filing a case against my aunt, her sister, for falsifying a deed of donation. It started when my mother learned that the title to one of their uncle’s pieces of property is already under my aunt’s name. The Registrar of Deeds explained that the transfer was done in view of the deed of donation supposedly executed by their uncle in favor of my aunt.

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Their uncle was never married, had no children and passed away only in 2012. My mother believes that such deed was falsified because her uncle never mentioned anything about it, and it is very unlikely that he will give his property to my aunt knowing that he has other nephews and nieces who are more in need. Do you think such case will prosper?

Please advise me on this matter. Thank you and more power.
Eddie

Dear Eddie,
Under Article 171 of our Revised Penal Code, the crime of falsification may only be committed through any of the following acts: (1) Counterfeiting or imitating any handwriting, signature or rubric; (2) Causing it to appear that persons have participated in any act or proceeding when they did not in fact so participate; (3) Attributing to persons who have participated in an act or proceeding statements other than those in fact made by them; (4) Making untruthful statements in a narration of facts; (5) Altering true dates; (6) Making any alteration or intercalation in a genuine document which changes its meaning; (7) Issuing in an authenticated form a document purporting to be a copy of an original document when no such original exists, or including in such a copy of a statement contrary to, or different from, that of the genuine original; or (8) Intercalating any instrument or note relative to the issuance thereof in a protocol, registry, or official book.

If the crime of falsification is committed in any public or official document or letter of exchange or any other kind of commercial document by a private individual, the penalty to be imposed is prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods and a fine of not more than Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00). (Article 172 [1], Ibid.)

In the situation that you have narrated, it is crucial for your mother to establish, by proof beyond reasonable doubt, that your aunt counterfeited or imitated the handwriting or signature of their uncle, or that she caused it to appear that their uncle participated in the execution of such deed of donation when their uncle did not actually participate, in order for a case for falsification to prosper. Without such valuable evidence, the complaint may simply be dismissed. Thus, your mother must be able to present the original or certified true copy of the deed of donation purportedly executed by her uncle, original specimen signatures and/or handwriting of her uncle, and such other documents that will substantiate the impossibility of improbability of the execution of such document.

Apart therefrom, it is essential for your mother to establish that such crime of falsification has not yet prescribed, for even if your mother has countless pieces of evidence to back up her allegations against your aunt, it may be rendered naught by reason of prescription.

Thus, your mother must institute the criminal complaint within ten (10) years from the execution thereof or from the time that the same was notarized. This is in view of the fact that the imposable penalty is a correctional penalty, and the crime will prescribe in ten (10) years. Note that such prescription commences to run from the day on which the crime is discovered by the offended party, the authorities, or their agents, and will be interrupted by the filing of the complaint or information. It will commence to run again when such proceedings terminate without the accused being convicted or acquitted, or are unjustifiably stopped for any reason not imputable to him. (Articles 90 and 91, Id.)

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 dearpao@manilatimes.net

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