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BATAS PAMBANSA BLG.

22: ANNOTATED
This is an annotation of Batas Pambansa Blg. ("BP") 22 -- "An Act Penalizing the Making or Drawing and
Issuance of a Check Without Sufficient Funds or Credit and for Other Purposes"(See also: Full text of BP
22; Forum Discussion).
BP 22, often referred to as the "Bouncing Checks Law," governs the criminal liability arising from the
issuance of bounced checks. What the law punishes is the issuance of a bouncing check and not the
purpose for which the check was issued, nor the terms and conditions of its issuance. To determine the
reasons for which checks are issued, or the terms and conditions for their issuance, will greatly erode the
faith the public reposes in the stability and commercial value of checks as currency substitutes, and bring
about havoc in trade and in banking communities. (Caras vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 129900, 2 October
2001)
Section 1. Checks without sufficient funds. - Any person who makes or draws and
issues any check to apply on account or for value, knowing at the time of issue that he
does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the payment of such
check in full upon its presentment, which check is subsequently dishonored by the
drawee bank for insufficiency of funds or credit or would have been dishonored for the
same reason had not the drawer, without any valid reason, ordered the bank to stop
payment, shall be punished by imprisonment of not less than thirty days but not more
than one (1) year or by a fine of not less than but not more than double the amount of
the check which fine shall in no case exceed Two Hundred Thousand Pesos, or both
such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court.
The same penalty shall be imposed upon any person who, having sufficient funds in or
credit with the drawee bank when he makes or draws and issues a check, shall fail to
keep sufficient funds or to maintain a credit to cover the full amount of the check if
presented within a period of ninety (90) days from the date appearing thereon, for
which reason it is dishonored by the drawee bank.
Where the check is drawn by a corporation, company or entity, the person or persons
who actually signed the check in behalf of such drawer shall be liable under this Act.
Annotation: Section 1 of the Bouncing Checks Law penalizes two distinct acts (Bautista vs. Court of
Appeals, G.R. No. 143375, 6 July 2001):
(1) Making or drawing and issuing any check to apply on account or for value, knowing at the time of issue
that the drawer does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank.
(2) Having sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank shall fail to keep sufficient funds or to maintain
a credit to cover the full amount of the check if presented within a period of 90 days from the date
appearing thereon, for which reason it is dishonored by the drawee bank.
In the first paragraph, the drawer knows that he does not have sufficient funds to cover the check at the
time of its issuance, while in the second paragraph, the drawer has sufficient funds at the time of issuance
but fails to keep sufficient funds or maintain credit within ninety (90) days from the date appearing on the
check. In both instances, the offense is consummated by the dishonor of the check for insufficiency of funds
or credit. The check involved in the first offense is worthless at the time of issuance since the drawer had
neither sufficient funds in nor credit with the drawee bank at the time, while that involved in the second
offense is good when issued as drawer had sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank when issued.
Under the first offense, the 90-day presentment period is not expressly provided, while such period is an
express element of the second offense.

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Elements: General The elements of the offense under Section 1 of B.P. Blg. 22 are:
(1) drawing and issuance of any check to apply on account or for value;
(2) knowledge by the maker, drawer, or issuer that at the time of issue he did not have sufficient funds in or
credit with the drawee bank for the payment of such check in full upon presentment;
and
(3) said check is subsequently dishonored by the drawee bank for insufficiency of funds or credit, or would
have been dishonored for the same reason had not the drawer, without any valid reason, ordered the bank
to stop payment.
(Caras vs. Court of Appeals, supra.)
The second requisite or element is discussed in Section 2 below, while the third requisite is discussed in
Section 3.
Applicable penalties
In A.M. No. 00-11-01-SC (2001), the Supreme Court clarified that the earlier circular, Administrative Circular
12-2000, did not remove imprisonment as an alternative penalty for violations of B.P. Blg. 22. The Judges
may, "in the exercise of sound discretion, and taking into consideration the peculiar circumstances of each
case, determine whether the imposition of a fine alone would best serve the interests of justice or whether
forbearing to impose imprisonment would depreciate the seriousness of the offense, work violence on the
social order, or otherwise be contrary to the imperatives of justice." Also, "should only a fine be imposed
and the accused be unable to pay the fine, there is no legal obstacle to the application of the Revised Penal
Code provisions on subsidiary imprisonment."
SEC. 2. Evidence of knowledge of insufficient funds. The making, drawing and
issuance of a check payment of which is refused by the drawee bank because of
insufficient funds in or credit with such bank, when presented within ninety (90) days
from the date of the check, shall be prima facie evidence of knowledge of such
insufficiency of funds or credit, unless such maker or drawer pays the holder thereof
the amount due thereon, or makes arrangements for payment in full by the drawee
of such check within five (5) banking days after receiving notice that such check has
not been paid by the drawee.
Annotation:
The second element of the offense is the knowledge of the accused about the insufficiency of funds. It must
be shown beyond reasonable doubt that the accused knew of the insufficiency of funds at the time the
check was issued. Section 2 provides that the accused must be notified of the dishonor.
The prosecution must establish that the accused was actually notified that the check was dishonored, and
that he or she failed, within five banking days from receipt of the notice, to pay the holder of the check the
amount due thereon or to make arrangement for its payment. The notice of dishonor of a check to the
maker must be in writing. A mere oral notice to the drawer or maker of the dishonor of his check is not
enough. It's true that Section 2 does not state that the notice of dishonor be in writing. This, however,
should be taken in conjunction with Section 3, which provides that where there are no sufficient funds in or
credit with such drawee bank, such fact shall always be explicitly stated in the notice of dishonor or refusal.
This is consistent with the rule that penal statutes have to be construed strictly against the State and
liberally in favor of the accused. Without a written notice of dishonor of the checks, there is no way of
determining when the 5-day period prescribed in Section 2 would start and end. (Bax vs. People, G.R. No.
149858, 5 September 2007,citing Rico vs. People, G.R. No. 137191, 18 November 2002,392 SCRA 61). In
other words, the prima facie presumption arises when a check is issued. But the law also provides that the
presumption does not arise when the issuer pays the amount of the check or makes arrangement for its
payment "within five banking days after receiving notice that such check has not been paid by the drawee."
Verily, BP 22 gives the accused an opportunity to satisfy the amount indicated in the check and thus avert
prosecution. (King vs. People, G.R. No. 131540, 2 December 1999). The foregoing discussion abundantly
shows that the notice must be in writing. A verbal and indirect notice, however, was found to be sufficient in
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the case of Yulo vs. People, G.R. No. 142762, 4 March 2005. The pertinent finding of fact in this case is as
follows:
As Myrna [the complainant] did not know petitioners [the accused] address, she immediately informed
Josefina [the "best friend of the accused] about the dishonored checks. The latter told Myrna not to worry
and repeated her assurance that petitioner is her best friend and a good payer.
Myrna tried to get petitioners address from Josefina, but the latter refused and instead made the assurance
that she will inform petitioner that the checks were dishonored.
It is clear from these findings that there was no written notice given to the accused. It is also clear that no
notice, even a verbal notice, was given directly to the accused. Still, the Supreme Court concluded that:
We likewise find no reason to sustain petitioners contention that she was not given any notice of
dishonor. Myrna had no reason to be suspicious of petitioner. It will be recalled that Josefina
Dimalanta assured Myrna that petitioner is her "best friend" and "a good payer." Consequently,
when the checks bounced, Myrna would naturally turn to Josefina for help. We note that Josefina
refused to give Myrna petitioners address but promised to inform petitioner about the dishonored
checks.
This ruling would appear to be inconsistent with the required burden of proof and the rule of interpretation
of penal laws, succinctly noted in King vs. People, thus:
We must stress that BP 22, like all penal statutes, is construed strictly against the State and liberally
in favor of the accused. Likewise, the prosecution has the burden to prove beyond reasonable doubt
each element of the crime. Hence, the prosecutions case must rise or fall on the strength of its own
evidence, never on the weakness or even absence of that of the defense.

Section 3. Duty of drawee; rules of evidence. - It shall be the duty of the drawee of any
check, when refusing to pay the same to the holder thereof upon presentment, to
cause to be written, printed, or stamped in plain language thereon, or attached
thereto, the reason for drawee's dishonor or refusal to pay the same: Provided, That
where there are no sufficient funds in or credit with such drawee bank, such fact shall
always be explicitly stated in the notice of dishonor or refusal.
In all prosecutions under this Act, the introduction in evidence of any unpaid and
dishonored check, having the drawee's refusal to pay stamped or written thereon or
attached thereto, with the reason therefor as aforesaid, shall be prima facie
Not with standing receipt of an order to stop payment, the drawee shall state in the
notice that there were no sufficient funds in or credit with such bank for the payment in
full of such check, if such be the fact.
Annotation:
The third element of the offense is the dishonor of the check. Under Section 3, "the introduction in evidence
of any unpaid and dishonored check, having the drawees refusal to pay stamped or written thereon, or
attached thereto, with the reason therefor as aforesaid, shall be prima facie evidence of the making or
issuance of said check, and the due presentment to the drawee for payment and the dishonor thereof, and
that the same was properly dishonored for the reason written, stamped, or attached by the drawee on such
dishonored check." For instance, in the case of King vs. People (supra), the prosecution presented the
checks which were stamped with the words ACCOUNT CLOSED, supported by the returned check tickets
issued by the depository bank stating that the checks had been dishonored. The documents constitute
prima facie evidence that the drawee bank dishonored the checks, and no evidence was presented to rebut
the claim.
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Section 4. Credit construed. - The word "credit" as used herein shall be construed to
mean an arrangement or understanding with the bank for the payment of such check.
Section 5. Liability under the Revised Penal Code. - Prosecution under this Act shall
be without prejudice to any liability for violation of any provision of the Revised Penal
Code.
Annotation:
The act of issuing a bouncing check could give rise to separate offenses punishable under BP 22 and
simultaneously under the Revised Penal Code.
Section 6. Separability clause. - If any separable provision of this Act be declared
unconstitutional, the remaining provisions shall continue to be in force.
Annotation:
The attacks on the constitutionality of BP 22, as discussed in Lozano vs. Martinez (G.R. No. L-63419, 18
December 1986), are the following: (1) it offends the constitutional provision forbidding imprisonment for
debt; (2) it impairs freedom of contract; (3) it contravenes the equal protection clause; (4) it unduly
delegates legislative and executive powers; and (5) its enactment is flawed in that during its passage the
Interim Batasan violated the constitutional provision prohibiting amendments to a bill on Third Reading.
Unless otherwise indicated, the succeeding discussions are lifted from Lozano. Non-imprisonment for debt
It had been argued that BP 22 runs counter to the inhibitionin the Bill of Rights which states, "No person
shall be imprisoned for debt or non-payment of a poll tax." Since the offense under BP 22 is consummated
only upon the dishonor or non-payment of the check when it is presented to the drawee bank, the statute is
really a "bad debt law" rather than a "bad check law." What it punishes is the non-payment of the check, not
the act of issuing it. The statute, it is claimed, is nothing more than a veiled device to coerce payment of a
debt under the threat of penal sanction. The gravamen of the offense punished by BP 22 is the act of
making and issuing a worthless check or a check that is dishonored upon its presentation for payment. It is
not the non-payment of an obligation which the law punishes. The law is not intended or designed to coerce
a debtor to pay his debt. The thrust of the law is to prohibit, under pain of penal sanctions, the making of
worthless checks and putting them in circulation. Because of its deleterious effects on the public interest,
the practice is proscribed by the law. The law punishes the act not as an offense against property, but an
offense against public order. It may be constitutionally impermissible for the legislature to penalize a person
for non-payment of a debt ex contractu. But certainly it is within the prerogative of the lawmaking body to
proscribe certain acts deemed pernicious and inimical to public welfare. Acts mala in se are not the only
acts which the law can punish. An act may not be considered by society as inherently wrong, hence, not
malum in se but because of the harm that it inflicts on the community, it can be outlawed and criminally
punished as malum prohibitum. The state can do this in the exercise of its police power. The enactment of
BP 22 is a declaration by the legislature that, as a matter of public policy, the making and issuance of a
worthless check is deemed public nuisance to be abated by the imposition of penal sanctions. It had been
reported that the approximate value of bouncing checks per day was close to 200 million pesos. It is not for
the court to question the wisdom or policy of the statute. It is sufficient that a reasonable nexus exists
between means and end. Considering the factual and legal antecedents that led to the adoption of the
statute, it is not difficult to understand the public concern which prompted its enactment. Impairment of
freedom of contract Article III, Section 10 of the Constitution provides that: "No law impairing the obligation
of contracts shall be passed. "However, the freedom of contract which is constitutionally protected is
freedom to enter into "lawful" contracts. Contracts which contravene public policy are not lawful. Checks
cannot be categorized as mere contracts. It is a commercial instrument which, in this modem day and age,
has become a convenient substitute for money; it forms part of the banking system and therefore not
entirely free from the regulatory power of the state. Equal protection of the laws, the challenge is to the
effect that BP 22 is discriminatory or is violative of the equal protection of the laws since it penalizes the
drawer of the check, but not the payee. It had been argued that the payee is just as responsible for the
crime as the drawer of the check, since without the indispensable participation of the payee by his
acceptance of the check there would be no crime. It is settled, however, that the clause "equal protection of
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the laws" does not preclude classification of individuals, who may be accorded different treatment under the
law as long as the classification is no unreasonable or arbitrary. The argument premised on the equal
protection of the law is tantamount to saying that, to give equal protection, the law should punish both the
swindler and the swindled.
Improper delegation of legislative powers It had been argued that the law violates the Constitutional
prohibition against the delegation of legislative power, on the theory that the offense is not completed by the
sole act of the maker or drawer but is made to depend on the will of the payee -- if the payee does not
present the check to the bank for payment but instead keeps it, there would be no crime. This argument,
however, stretches to absurdity the meaning of "delegation of legislative power." What cannot be delegated
is the power to legislate, or the power to make laws. which means, as applied to the present case, the
power to define the offense sought to be punished and to prescribe the penalty. By no stretch of logic or
imagination can it be said that the power to define the crime and prescribe the penalty therefor has been in
any manner delegated to the payee. Neither is there any provision in the statute that can be construed, no
matter how remotely, as undue delegation of executive power. Defect in the enactment of BP 22. It is
argued that Section 9 (2) of Article VII of the 1973 Constitution was violated by the legislative body when it
enacted BP 22 into law. This constitutional provision prohibits the introduction of amendments to a bill
during the Third Reading. It is claimed that during its Third Reading, the bill which eventually became BP 22
was amended in that the text of the second paragraph of Section 1 of the bill as adopted on Second
Reading was altered or changed in the printed text of the bill submitted for approval on Third Reading.
However, it is clear from the records that the text of the second paragraph of Section 1 of BP 22 is the text
which was actually approved by the body on Second Reading. Section 7. Effectivity. - This Act shall take
effect fifteen days after publication in the Official Gazette. evidence of the making or issuance of said
check, and the due presentment to the drawee for payment and the dishonor thereof, and that the same
was properly dishonored for the reason written, stamped or attached by the drawee on such dishonored
check.

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