What is the penalty for Complex Crime of Estafa?

Penalties; Complex Crime of Estafa (1997 Bar Exam Question)

A was convicted of the complex crime of estafa through falsification of public document. Since the amount involved did not exceed Php 200.00, the penalty prescribed by law for estafa is arresto mayor in its medium and maximum and periods. The penalty prescribed by law for falsification of public document is prision mayor plus fine not to exceed Php 5,000.00.

Impose the proper prison penalty.

Suggested Answer:

The proper penalty is Any Range Within prision correctional (6 months and 1 day to 6 years) as Minimum, to Any Range within prision mayor  maximum (10 years and 1 day to 12 years) as Maximum. This is in accordance with People vs. Gonzales, 73 Phil. 549, where it was ruled that for the purpose of determining the penalty next lower in degree, the penalty that should be considered as a starting point is the whole prision mayor, it being the penalty prescribed by law, and not prision mayor in its maximum period, which is only the penalty actually applied because of Art.48 of the Revised Penal Code. The penalty next lower in degree therefor is prision correccional and it is within the range of this penalty that the minimum should be taken.