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People V Hernando (GR 125214 / 317 SCRA 621 October 28, 1999) - Reasonable Time for Deposit STATEMENT

OF FACTS: Spouses Elpidio and Elena Hernando who were engaged in the importation and sale of Apple and IBM Computers, borrowed money from complainant Johnny Sy, the owner of Palomino Club, of which the spouses were good customers. Out of "pakikisama" and because of Elpidio Hernando's assurances that the checks issued by his wife Elena Aban Hernando from her current account with the Union Bank were good checks, complainant was induced to give money in the exchange for the checks. The simultaneous exchange of cash and checks took place on five (5) different dates between May 11, 1995 to June 21, 1995, which amounted to P700,000.00. Sometime in second week of July 1995, Elena requested Johnny not to deposit the checks because Elpidio would pay them in cash. However, Elpidio failed to redeem the checks. When Johnny deposited the checks sometime on July 28, 1995, with Equitable Banking Corporation, they were dishonored because the account from which the checks were drawn had been closed on July 18, 1995 due to overdraft. On the day that the account was closed, it indicated a zero balance. Checks that were issued to Johnny were all dishonored upon presentment for payment to the bank because the account had been closed. In December 1995, Johnny called Elpidio over the telephone and demanded payment. Instead of paying, Elpidio told complainant to "just wait." Complainant Johnny Sy waited (10) months for accused spouses to pay. However, accused spouses failed to pay the value of the five checks, prompting Johnny to file the complaint for Estafa. STATEMENT OF THE CASE: On September 20, 1995, complainant Johnny Sy filed with the Office of the City Prosecutor, Manila, a complaint-affidavit against accused spousesalleging that the checks they issued to him were dishonored due to "Account Closed," later the Assistant Prosecutor filed with the Regional Trial Court, Manila, an information charging accused spouses with Estafa. Accused spouses were arraigned before the trial court and both pleaded not guilty to the information. Trial, thereafter, ensued. The trial court found accused spouses guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Estafa, and were ordered to indemnify complainant, Johnny Sy, the sum of P700,000.00 representing the value of the checks, and accused spouses were committed to custody. On June 20, 1996, accused spouses filed with the trial court a notice of appeal. On appeal, the Court of Appeals, affirmed the trial courts judgment. Hence, this petition for Certiorari. ISSUE: Can the accused spouses raise the defense that the Complainant didnt deposit the checks within a reasonable time, thus amounting to his own detriment? RULING: No. The failure of the complainant to immediately deposit with the bank the five checks issued by Elena cannot be used as a defense by accused spouses. Johnny was prevailed upon by Elena not to deposit the checks because Elpidio would pay him in cash. This should not be taken against complainant. The reasonableness of the time of deposit was not the main issue in the case, but it was apparent that the surrounding circumstances of the case amount to the defraudation by the accused spouses, Fraud being xxx deemed to comprise anything calculated to deceive, including all acts, omissions, and concealment involving a breach of legal or equitable duty, trust, or confidences justly reposed, resulting in damage to another, and that the elements of Estafa under Article 315, paragraph 2 (d) of the Revised Penal Code are present, The Court AFFIRMED the decision of the trial court finding accused spouses Hernando guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Estafa. Phyllisabelle Bethany W. General