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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. L-60033 April 4, 1984
TEOFISTO GUINGONA, JR., ANTONIO I. MARTIN, and TERESITA SANTOS, petitioners,
vs.
THE CITY FISCAL OF MANILA, HON. JOSE B. FLAMINIANO, ASST. CITY FISCAL FELIZARDO
N. LOTA and CLEMENT DAVID, respondents.
MAKASIAR, Actg. C.J.:+.wph!1
This is a petition for prohibition and injunction with a prayer for the immediate issuance of restraining
order and/or writ of preliminary injunction filed by petitioners on March 26, 1982.
On March 31, 1982, by virtue of a court resolution issued by this Court on the same date, a
temporary restraining order was duly issued ordering the respondents, their officers, agents,
representatives and/or person or persons acting upon their (respondents') orders or in their place or
stead to refrain from proceeding with the preliminary investigation in Case No. 8131938 of the Office
of the City Fiscal of Manila (pp. 47-48, rec.). On January 24, 1983, private respondent Clement
David filed a motion to lift restraining order which was denied in the resolution of this Court dated
May 18, 1983.
As can be gleaned from the above, the instant petition seeks to prohibit public respondents from
proceeding with the preliminary investigation of I.S. No. 81-31938, in which petitioners were charged
by private respondent Clement David, with estafa and violation of Central Bank Circular No. 364 and
related regulations regarding foreign exchange transactions principally, on the ground of lack of
jurisdiction in that the allegations of the charged, as well as the testimony of private respondent's
principal witness and the evidence through said witness, showed that petitioners' obligation is civil in
nature.
For purposes of brevity, We hereby adopt the antecedent facts narrated by the Solicitor General in
its Comment dated June 28,1982, as follows:t.hqw
On December 23,1981, private respondent David filed I.S. No. 81-31938 in
the Office of the City Fiscal of Manila, which case was assigned to
respondent Lota for preliminary investigation (Petition, p. 8).
In I.S. No. 81-31938, David charged petitioners (together with one Robert
Marshall and the following directors of the Nation Savings and Loan
Association, Inc., namely Homero Gonzales, Juan Merino, Flavio Macasaet,
Victor Gomez, Jr., Perfecto Manalac, Jaime V. Paz, Paulino B. Dionisio, and
one John Doe) with estafa and violation of Central Bank Circular No. 364 and
related Central Bank regulations on foreign exchange transactions, allegedly
committed as follows (Petition, Annex "A"):t.hqw

"From March 20, 1979 to March, 1981, David invested with


the Nation Savings and Loan Association, (hereinafter called
NSLA) the sum of P1,145,546.20 on nine deposits,
P13,531.94 on savings account deposits (jointly with his
sister, Denise Kuhne), US$10,000.00 on time deposit,
US$15,000.00 under a receipt and guarantee of payment and
US$50,000.00 under a receipt dated June 8, 1980 (au jointly
with Denise Kuhne), that David was induced into making the
aforestated investments by Robert Marshall an Australian
national who was allegedly a close associate of petitioner
Guingona Jr., then NSLA President, petitioner Martin, then
NSLA Executive Vice-President of NSLA and petitioner
Santos, then NSLA General Manager; that on March 21, 1981
N LA was placed under receivership by the Central Bank, so
that David filed claims therewith for his investments and those
of his sister; that on July 22, 1981 David received a report
from the Central Bank that only P305,821.92 of those
investments were entered in the records of NSLA; that,
therefore, the respondents in I.S. No. 81-31938
misappropriated the balance of the investments, at the same
time violating Central Bank Circular No. 364 and related
Central Bank regulations on foreign exchange transactions;
that after demands, petitioner Guingona Jr. paid only
P200,000.00, thereby reducing the amounts misappropriated
to P959,078.14 and US$75,000.00."
Petitioners, Martin and Santos, filed a joint counter-affidavit (Petition, Annex'
B') in which they stated the following.t.hqw
"That Martin became President of NSLA in March 1978 (after
the resignation of Guingona, Jr.) and served as such until
October 30, 1980, while Santos was General Manager up to
November 1980; that because NSLA was urgently in need of
funds and at David's insistence, his investments were treated
as special- accounts with interest above the legal rate, an
recorded in separate confidential documents only a portion of
which were to be reported because he did not want the
Australian government to tax his total earnings (nor) to know
his total investments; that all transactions with David were
recorded except the sum of US$15,000.00 which was a
personal loan of Santos; that David's check for US$50,000.00
was cleared through Guingona, Jr.'s dollar account because
NSLA did not have one, that a draft of US$30,000.00 was
placed in the name of one Paz Roces because of a pending
transaction with her; that the Philippine Deposit Insurance
Corporation had already reimbursed David within the legal
limits; that majority of the stockholders of NSLA had filed
Special Proceedings No. 82-1695 in the Court of First
Instance to contest its (NSLA's) closure; that after NSLA was
placed under receivership, Martin executed a promissory note
in David's favor and caused the transfer to him of a nine and
on behalf (9 1/2) carat diamond ring with a net value of

P510,000.00; and, that the liabilities of NSLA to David were


civil in nature."
Petitioner, Guingona, Jr., in his counter-affidavit (Petition, Annex' C') stated
the following:t.hqw
"That he had no hand whatsoever in the transactions
between David and NSLA since he (Guingona Jr.) had
resigned as NSLA president in March 1978, or prior to those
transactions; that he assumed a portion o; the liabilities of
NSLA to David because of the latter's insistence that he
placed his investments with NSLA because of his faith in
Guingona, Jr.; that in a Promissory Note dated June 17, 1981
(Petition, Annex "D") he (Guingona, Jr.) bound himself to pay
David the sums of P668.307.01 and US$37,500.00 in stated
installments; that he (Guingona, Jr.) secured payment of
those amounts with second mortgages over two (2) parcels of
land under a deed of Second Real Estate Mortgage (Petition,
Annex "E") in which it was provided that the mortgage over
one (1) parcel shall be cancelled upon payment of one-half of
the obligation to David; that he (Guingona, Jr.) paid
P200,000.00 and tendered another P300,000.00 which David
refused to accept, hence, he (Guingona, Jr.) filed Civil Case
No. Q-33865 in the Court of First Instance of Rizal at Quezon
City, to effect the release of the mortgage over one (1) of the
two parcels of land conveyed to David under second
mortgages."
At the inception of the preliminary investigation before respondent Lota,
petitioners moved to dismiss the charges against them for lack of jurisdiction
because David's claims allegedly comprised a purely civil obligation which
was itself novated. Fiscal Lota denied the motion to dismiss (Petition, p. 8).
But, after the presentation of David's principal witness, petitioners filed the
instant petition because: (a) the production of the Promisory Notes, Banker's
Acceptance, Certificates of Time Deposits and Savings Account allegedly
showed that the transactions between David and NSLA were simple loans,
i.e., civil obligations on the part of NSLA which were novated when
Guingona, Jr. and Martin assumed them; and (b) David's principal witness
allegedly testified that the duplicate originals of the aforesaid instruments of
indebtedness were all on file with NSLA, contrary to David's claim that some
of his investments were not record (Petition, pp. 8-9).
Petitioners alleged that they did not exhaust available administrative
remedies because to do so would be futile (Petition, p. 9) [pp. 153-157, rec.].
As correctly pointed out by the Solicitor General, the sole issue for resolution is whether public
respondents acted without jurisdiction when they investigated the charges (estafa and violation of
CB Circular No. 364 and related regulations regarding foreign exchange transactions) subject matter
of I.S. No. 81-31938.

There is merit in the contention of the petitioners that their liability is civil in nature and therefore,
public respondents have no jurisdiction over the charge of estafa.
A casual perusal of the December 23, 1981 affidavit. complaint filed in the Office of the City Fiscal of
Manila by private respondent David against petitioners Teopisto Guingona, Jr., Antonio I. Martin and
Teresita G. Santos, together with one Robert Marshall and the other directors of the Nation Savings
and Loan Association, will show that from March 20, 1979 to March, 1981, private respondent David,
together with his sister, Denise Kuhne, invested with the Nation Savings and Loan Association the
sum of P1,145,546.20 on time deposits covered by Bankers Acceptances and Certificates of Time
Deposits and the sum of P13,531.94 on savings account deposits covered by passbook nos. 6-632
and 29-742, or a total of P1,159,078.14 (pp. 15-16, roc.). It appears further that private respondent
David, together with his sister, made investments in the aforesaid bank in the amount of
US$75,000.00 (p. 17, rec.).
Moreover, the records reveal that when the aforesaid bank was placed under receivership on March
21, 1981, petitioners Guingona and Martin, upon the request of private respondent David, assumed
the obligation of the bank to private respondent David by executing on June 17, 1981 a joint
promissory note in favor of private respondent acknowledging an indebtedness of Pl,336,614.02 and
US$75,000.00 (p. 80, rec.). This promissory note was based on the statement of account as of June
30, 1981 prepared by the private respondent (p. 81, rec.). The amount of indebtedness assumed
appears to be bigger than the original claim because of the added interest and the inclusion of other
deposits of private respondent's sister in the amount of P116,613.20.
Thereafter, or on July 17, 1981, petitioners Guingona and Martin agreed to divide the said
indebtedness, and petitioner Guingona executed another promissory note antedated to June 17,
1981 whereby he personally acknowledged an indebtedness of P668,307.01 (1/2 of P1,336,614.02)
and US$37,500.00 (1/2 of US$75,000.00) in favor of private respondent (p. 25, rec.). The aforesaid
promissory notes were executed as a result of deposits made by Clement David and Denise Kuhne
with the Nation Savings and Loan Association.
Furthermore, the various pleadings and documents filed by private respondent David, before this
Court indisputably show that he has indeed invested his money on time and savings deposits with
the Nation Savings and Loan Association.
It must be pointed out that when private respondent David invested his money on nine. and savings
deposits with the aforesaid bank, the contract that was perfected was a contract of simple loan or
mutuum and not a contract of deposit. Thus, Article 1980 of the New Civil Code provides that:t.
hqw
Article 1980. Fixed, savings, and current deposits of-money in banks and
similar institutions shall be governed by the provisions concerning simple
loan.
In the case of Central Bank of the Philippines vs. Morfe (63 SCRA 114,119 [1975], We said:t.
hqw
It should be noted that fixed, savings, and current deposits of money in banks
and similar institutions are hat true deposits. are considered simple loans
and, as such, are not preferred credits (Art. 1980 Civil Code; In re Liquidation
of Mercantile Batik of China Tan Tiong Tick vs. American Apothecaries Co.,
66 Phil 414; Pacific Coast Biscuit Co. vs. Chinese Grocers Association 65
Phil. 375; Fletcher American National Bank vs. Ang Chong UM 66 PWL 385;
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Pacific Commercial Co. vs. American Apothecaries Co., 65 PhiL 429; Gopoco
Grocery vs. Pacific Coast Biscuit CO.,65 Phil. 443)."
This Court also declared in the recent case of Serrano vs. Central Bank of the Philippines (96 SCRA
102 [1980]) that:t.hqw
Bank deposits are in the nature of irregular deposits. They are really 'loans
because they earn interest. All kinds of bank deposits, whether fixed,
savings, or current are to be treated as loans and are to be covered by the
law on loans (Art. 1980 Civil Code Gullas vs. Phil. National Bank, 62 Phil.
519). Current and saving deposits, are loans to a bank because it can use
the same. The petitioner here in making time deposits that earn interests will
respondent Overseas Bank of Manila was in reality a creditor of the
respondent Bank and not a depositor. The respondent Bank was in turn a
debtor of petitioner. Failure of the respondent Bank to honor the time deposit
is failure to pay its obligation as a debtor and not a breach of trust arising
from a depositary's failure to return the subject matter of the deposit
(Emphasis supplied).
Hence, the relationship between the private respondent and the Nation Savings and Loan
Association is that of creditor and debtor; consequently, the ownership of the amount deposited was
transmitted to the Bank upon the perfection of the contract and it can make use of the amount
deposited for its banking operations, such as to pay interests on deposits and to pay withdrawals.
While the Bank has the obligation to return the amount deposited, it has, however, no obligation to
return or deliver the same money that was deposited. And, the failure of the Bank to return the
amount deposited will not constitute estafa through misappropriation punishable under Article 315,
par. l(b) of the Revised Penal Code, but it will only give rise to civil liability over which the public
respondents have no- jurisdiction.
WE have already laid down the rule that:t.hqw
In order that a person can be convicted under the above-quoted provision, it
must be proven that he has the obligation to deliver or return the some
money, goods or personal property that he received Petitioners had no such
obligation to return the same money, i.e., the bills or coins, which they
received from private respondents. This is so because as clearly as stated in
criminal complaints, the related civil complaints and the supporting sworn
statements, the sums of money that petitioners received were loans.
The nature of simple loan is defined in Articles 1933 and 1953 of the Civil
Code.t.hqw
"Art. 1933. By the contract of loan, one of the parties
delivers to another, either something not consumable so that
the latter may use the same for a certain time- and return it, in
which case the contract is called a commodatum; or money or
other consumable thing, upon the condition that the same
amount of the same kind and quality shall he paid in which
case the contract is simply called a loan or mutuum.
"Commodatum is essentially gratuitous.

"Simple loan may be gratuitous or with a stipulation to pay


interest.
"In commodatum the bailor retains the ownership of the thing
loaned while in simple loan, ownership passes to the
borrower.
"Art. 1953. A person who receives a loan of money or any
other fungible thing acquires the ownership thereof, and is
bound to pay to the creditor an equal amount of the same
kind and quality."
It can be readily noted from the above-quoted provisions that in simple loan
(mutuum), as contrasted to commodatum the borrower acquires ownership
of the money, goods or personal property borrowed Being the owner, the
borrower can dispose of the thing borrowed (Article 248, Civil Code) and his
act will not be considered misappropriation thereof' (Yam vs. Malik, 94 SCRA
30, 34 [1979]; Emphasis supplied).
But even granting that the failure of the bank to pay the time and savings deposits of private
respondent David would constitute a violation of paragraph 1(b) of Article 315 of the Revised Penal
Code, nevertheless any incipient criminal liability was deemed avoided, because when the aforesaid
bank was placed under receivership by the Central Bank, petitioners Guingona and Martin assumed
the obligation of the bank to private respondent David, thereby resulting in the novation of the
original contractual obligation arising from deposit into a contract of loan and converting the original
trust relation between the bank and private respondent David into an ordinary debtor-creditor relation
between the petitioners and private respondent. Consequently, the failure of the bank or petitioners
Guingona and Martin to pay the deposits of private respondent would not constitute a breach of trust
but would merely be a failure to pay the obligation as a debtor.
Moreover, while it is true that novation does not extinguish criminal liability, it may however, prevent
the rise of criminal liability as long as it occurs prior to the filing of the criminal information in court.
Thus, in Gonzales vs. Serrano ( 25 SCRA 64, 69 [1968]) We held that:t.hqw
As pointed out in People vs. Nery, novation prior to the filing of the criminal
information as in the case at bar may convert the relation between the
parties into an ordinary creditor-debtor relation, and place the complainant in
estoppel to insist on the original transaction or "cast doubt on the true nature"
thereof.
Again, in the latest case of Ong vs. Court of Appeals (L-58476, 124 SCRA 578, 580-581 [1983] ),
this Court reiterated the ruling in People vs. Nery ( 10 SCRA 244 [1964] ), declaring that:t.
hqw
The novation theory may perhaps apply prior to the filling of the criminal
information in court by the state prosecutors because up to that time the
original trust relation may be converted by the parties into an ordinary
creditor-debtor situation, thereby placing the complainant in estoppel to insist
on the original trust. But after the justice authorities have taken cognizance of
the crime and instituted action in court, the offended party may no longer
divest the prosecution of its power to exact the criminal liability, as
distinguished from the civil. The crime being an offense against the state,
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only the latter can renounce it (People vs. Gervacio, 54 Off. Gaz. 2898;
People vs. Velasco, 42 Phil. 76; U.S. vs. Montanes, 8 Phil. 620).
It may be observed in this regard that novation is not one of the means
recognized by the Penal Code whereby criminal liability can be extinguished;
hence, the role of novation may only be to either prevent the rise of criminal
habihty or to cast doubt on the true nature of the original basic transaction,
whether or not it was such that its breach would not give rise to penal
responsibility, as when money loaned is made to appear as a deposit, or
other similar disguise is resorted to (cf. Abeto vs. People, 90 Phil. 581; U.S.
vs. Villareal, 27 Phil. 481).
In the case at bar, there is no dispute that petitioners Guingona and Martin executed a promissory
note on June 17, 1981 assuming the obligation of the bank to private respondent David; while the
criminal complaint for estafa was filed on December 23, 1981 with the Office of the City Fiscal.
Hence, it is clear that novation occurred long before the filing of the criminal complaint with the Office
of the City Fiscal.
Consequently, as aforestated, any incipient criminal liability would be avoided but there will still be a
civil liability on the part of petitioners Guingona and Martin to pay the assumed obligation.
Petitioners herein were likewise charged with violation of Section 3 of Central Bank Circular No. 364
and other related regulations regarding foreign exchange transactions by accepting foreign currency
deposit in the amount of US$75,000.00 without authority from the Central Bank. They contend
however, that the US dollars intended by respondent David for deposit were all converted into
Philippine currency before acceptance and deposit into Nation Savings and Loan Association.
Petitioners' contention is worthy of behelf for the following reasons:
1. It appears from the records that when respondent David was about to make a deposit of bank
draft issued in his name in the amount of US$50,000.00 with the Nation Savings and Loan
Association, the same had to be cleared first and converted into Philippine currency. Accordingly, the
bank draft was endorsed by respondent David to petitioner Guingona, who in turn deposited it to his
dollar account with the Security Bank and Trust Company. Petitioner Guingona merely
accommodated the request of the Nation Savings and loan Association in order to clear the bank
draft through his dollar account because the bank did not have a dollar account. Immediately after
the bank draft was cleared, petitioner Guingona authorized Nation Savings and Loan Association to
withdraw the same in order to be utilized by the bank for its operations.
2. It is safe to assume that the U.S. dollars were converted first into Philippine pesos before they
were accepted and deposited in Nation Savings and Loan Association, because the bank is
presumed to have followed the ordinary course of the business which is to accept deposits in
Philippine currency only, and that the transaction was regular and fair, in the absence of a clear and
convincing evidence to the contrary (see paragraphs p and q, Sec. 5, Rule 131, Rules of Court).
3. Respondent David has not denied the aforesaid contention of herein petitioners despite the fact
that it was raised. in petitioners' reply filed on May 7, 1982 to private respondent's comment and in
the July 27, 1982 reply to public respondents' comment and reiterated in petitioners' memorandum
filed on October 30, 1982, thereby adding more support to the conclusion that the US$75,000.00
were really converted into Philippine currency before they were accepted and deposited into Nation
Savings and Loan Association. Considering that this might adversely affect his case, respondent
David should have promptly denied petitioners' allegation.
7

In conclusion, considering that the liability of the petitioners is purely civil in nature and that there is
no clear showing that they engaged in foreign exchange transactions, We hold that the public
respondents acted without jurisdiction when they investigated the charges against the petitioners.
Consequently, public respondents should be restrained from further proceeding with the criminal
case for to allow the case to continue, even if the petitioners could have appealed to the Ministry of
Justice, would work great injustice to petitioners and would render meaningless the proper
administration of justice.
While as a rule, the prosecution in a criminal offense cannot be the subject of prohibition and
injunction, this court has recognized the resort to the extraordinary writs of prohibition and injunction
in extreme cases, thus:t.hqw
On the issue of whether a writ of injunction can restrain the proceedings in
Criminal Case No. 3140, the general rule is that "ordinarily, criminal
prosecution may not be blocked by court prohibition or injunction."
Exceptions, however, are allowed in the following instances:t.hqw
"1. for the orderly administration of justice;
"2. to prevent the use of the strong arm of the law in an
oppressive and vindictive manner;
"3. to avoid multiplicity of actions;
"4. to afford adequate protection to constitutional rights;
"5. in proper cases, because the statute relied upon is
unconstitutional or was held invalid" ( Primicias vs.
Municipality of Urdaneta, Pangasinan, 93 SCRA 462, 469-470
[1979]; citing Ramos vs. Torres, 25 SCRA 557 [1968]; and
Hernandez vs. Albano, 19 SCRA 95, 96 [1967]).
Likewise, in Lopez vs. The City Judge, et al. ( 18 SCRA 616, 621-622 [1966]), We held that:t.
hqw
The writs of certiorari and prohibition, as extraordinary legal remedies, are in
the ultimate analysis, intended to annul void proceedings; to prevent the
unlawful and oppressive exercise of legal authority and to provide for a fair
and orderly administration of justice. Thus, in Yu Kong Eng vs. Trinidad, 47
Phil. 385, We took cognizance of a petition for certiorari and prohibition
although the accused in the case could have appealed in due time from the
order complained of, our action in the premises being based on the public
welfare policy the advancement of public policy. In Dimayuga vs. Fajardo, 43
Phil. 304, We also admitted a petition to restrain the prosecution of certain
chiropractors although, if convicted, they could have appealed. We gave due
course to their petition for the orderly administration of justice and to avoid
possible oppression by the strong arm of the law. And in Arevalo vs.
Nepomuceno, 63 Phil. 627, the petition for certiorari challenging the trial
court's action admitting an amended information was sustained despite the
availability of appeal at the proper time.

WHEREFORE, THE PETITION IS HEREBY GRANTED; THE TEMPORARY RESTRAINING


ORDER PREVIOUSLY ISSUED IS MADE PERMANENT. COSTS AGAINST THE PRIVATE
RESPONDENT.
SO ORDERED.1wph1.t