You are on page 1of 2

CHEE KIONG YAM, AMPANG MAH, ANIT\A YAM JOSE Y. C. YAM and RICHARD YAM, petitioners, vs.

HON. NABDAR J. MALIK, MUNICIPAL JUDGE OF JOLO, SULU (BRANCH I), THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
ROSALINDA AMIN, TAN CHU KAO, and LT. COL. AGOSTO SAJOR respondents. (1979)
Abad Santos, J.:
NATURE: Petition for certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus with preliminary injunction
SUMMARY: Chee Kiong Yam and 5 co-defendants face 3 complaints for estafa through misappropriation. After
conducting a PI, the municipal judge ordered their arrest and proceeded with trial. Chee Kiong Yam et.al. filed certiorari to
stop the proceedings and annul the complaints. SC granted, ruling that the acts complained of did not constitute estafa
through misappropriation since the sums received were loans. The municipal judge mistook the transactions for
commodatum, when in fact the complaints stated they were simple loans. SC distinguished between mutuum and
commodatum.
DOCTRINE:
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.
When the relation is purely that of debtor and creditor, the debtor cannot be held liable for the crime of estafa,
under said article, by merely refusing to pay or by denying the indebtedness.
FACTS:
3 complaints for estafa through misappropriation were filed against Chee Kiong Yam and co-defendants in the
Municipal Court of Jolo, Sulu, as follows:
o Against Chee Kiong Yam and Yam Yap Kieng for P50,000, received from complainant Rosalinda Amin as
a business loan;
o Against Yam Chee Kiong, Jose Yam, Ampang Mah and Anita Yam, for P30,000 received from
complainant Tan Chu Kao as a simple loan. A suit for the collection of the same amount was also
pending with the Sulu CFI.
o Against Yam Chee Kiong, Jose Yam, Anita Yam, and Richard Yam, for P20,000 received from
complainant Augusto Sajor. While not stated in the complaint, Sajor admitted in an affidavit that the
amount was a loan.
Judge Malik of the Jolo Municipal Court conducted a preliminary investigation and found a prima facie case.
o He also issued arrest warrants for the accused, and conducted trial on the merits of the charges.
Chee Kiong Yam et.al. filed this petition to nullify the complaints and dismiss the cases against them, alleging that
Judge Malik acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when he allowed the
proceedings to run their course, because the facts stated in the complaints did not constitute estafa; and the
Municipal Court had no jurisdiction over the cases.
Asked for their comments, Judge Malik and the complainants prayed that the petition be dismissed. The Solicitor
General, on the other hand, agreed with Chee Kiong Yam et.al.
ISSUE # 1: W/N the acts complained of constituted estafa through misappropriation (NO)
RATIO # 1:
In order for a person to be convicted of estafa through misappropriation as defined in RPC 315, par.1, subpar.(b),
it must be proven that such person has an obligation to return or deliver the same money, goods or personal
property he received.
CASE AT BAR: Yam and his co-accused do not have such an obligation to return the very same bills or coins
they received. As clearly stated in the complaints, the sums were given to them as loans; more specifically, simple
loans as defined in NCC 1933 and 1953. Judge Malik mistook the transactions for commodatum where the
borrower has the obligation to return the exact same thing to the lender.
In simple loan, the borrower acquires ownership of the thing borrowed. As owner, the borrower can dispose of the
thing borrowed and his act will not be considered misappropriation.
US v. Ibaez: Refusal to pay or acknowledge a debt is not estafa. When the relation is purely that of debtor and
creditor, the debtor cannot be held liable for the crime of estafa, under said article, by merely refusing to pay or by
denying the indebtedness
ISSUE # 2: W/N the Municipal Court has jurisdiction over the cases (NO)
RATIO # 2:
Judiciary Act, Sec. 87: The municipal court of a provincial capital like the Jolo Municipal Court has jurisdiction
over criminal cases where the penalty imposed by law does not exceed prision correccional or imprisonment for
not more than 6 years, or fine not exceeding P6,000 or both.
CASE AT BAR: The amounts in question range from P20K-50K. Under RPC 315, the penalty for such a degree
of misappropriation exceeds prision correccional or 6 years imprisonment. Assuming then that the acts
complained of constituted estafa, the Municipal Court has no jurisdiction to try them on the merits. Jurisdiction
rests with the CFI.

DISPOSITION: Petition granted. Cases ordered dismissed. Respondent judge rebuked for manifest ignorance of
elementary law.