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RepublicofthePhilippines
SUPREMECOURT
Manila

ENBANC

G.R.No.L63419December18,1986

FLORENTINAA.LOZANO,petitioner,
vs.
THEHONORABLEANTONIOM.MARTINEZ,inhiscapacityasPresidingJudge,RegionalTrialCourt,
NationalCapitalJudicialRegion,BranchXX,Manila,andtheHONORABLEJOSEB.FLAMINIANO,inhis
capacityasCityFiscalofManila,respondents.

G.R.No.L6683942December18,1986

LUZVIMINDAF.LOBATONpetitioner,
vs.
HONORABLEGLICERIOL.CRUZ,inhiscapacityasPresidingExecutiveJudge,BranchV,RegionIV,
RegionalTrialCourt,sittingatLemery,Batangas,THEPROVINCIALFISCALOFBATANGAS,andMARIA
LUISATORDECILLA,respondents.

G.RNo.71654December18,1986

ANTONIODATUINandSUSANDATUIN,petitioners,
vs.
HONORABLEJUDGEERNANIC.PANO,RegionalTrialCourt,QuezonCity,BranchLXXXVIII,HONORABLE
ClTYFISCALOFQUEZONCITY,respondents.

G.R.No.7452425December18,1986

OSCARVIOLAGO,petitioner,
vs.
HONORABLEJUDGEERNANIC.PAORegionalTrialCourt,QuezonCity,BranchLXXXVIII,HONORABLE
CITYFISCALOFQUEZONCITY,respondents.

G.R.No.7512249December18,1986

ELINORABAD,petitioner,
vs.
THEHONORABLENICOLASA.GEROCHI,JR.,inhiscapacityasPresidingJudge,RegionalTrialCourt,
NationalCapitalJudicialRegion,Branch139,MakatiandFEDERICOL.MELOCOTTONJR.,inhiscapacity
asTrialFiscalRegionalTrialCourt,Branch139,Makati,respondents.

G.RNo.7581213December18,1986

AMABLER.AGUILUZVIIandSYLVIAV.AGUILUZ,spouses,petitioners,
vs.
HONORABLEPRESIDINGJUDGEOFBRANCH154,nowvacantbuttemporarilypresidedbyHONORABLE
ASAALIS.ISNANIBranch153,CourtofFirstInstanceofPasig,MetroManila,respondent.

G.RNo.7576567December18,1986

LUISM.HOJAS,petitioner,
vs.
HON.JUDGESENENPENARANDA,PresidingJudge,RegionalTrialCourtofCagayandeOroCity,Branch
XX,HONORABLEJUDGEALFREDOLAGAMON,PresidingJudge,RegionalTrialCourtofCagayandeOro
City,BranchXXII,HONORABLECITYFISCALNOLIT.CATHI,CityFiscalofCagayandeOroCity,
respondents.

G.R.No.75789December18,1986

THEPEOPLEOFTHEPHILIPPINES,petitioner,
vs.
HON.DAVIDG.NITAFAN,PresidingJudge,RegionalTrialCourt,NationalCapitalJudicialRegion,Branch
52,ManilaandTHELMASARMIENTO,respondents.

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R.R.NogalesLawOfficeforpetitionerinG.R.No.63419,G.R.Nos.7452425,G.R.Nos.7581213,G.R.Nos.
7576567andcounselforrespondentinG.R.No.75789.

PioS.CantaforpetitionerinG.R.Nos.6683942.

HermogenesDatuin,Jr.forpetitionerinG.R.No.71654.

Abinoja,Tabalingcos,Villalon&AssociatesforpetitionerinG.R.Nos.7512249.

TheSolicitorGeneralforrespondentinG.R.No.63419,G.R.Nos.6683942,G.R.No.71654,G.R.Nos.7452425,
G.R.Nos.7512249,G.R.Nos.7581213,G.R.Nos.7576567andcounselforpetitionerinG.R.No.75789.

YAP,J.:

TheconstitutionalityofBatasPambansaBilang22(BP22forshort),popularlyknownastheBouncingCheckLaw,
whichwasapprovedonApril3,1979,isthesoleissuepresentedbythesepetitionsfordecision.Thequestionis
definitelyoneoffirstimpressioninourjurisdiction.

Thesepetitionsarosefromcasesinvolvingprosecutionofoffensesunderthestatute.Thedefendantsinthose
casesmovedseasonablytoquashtheinformationsonthegroundthattheactschargeddidnotconstitutean
offense,thestatutebeingunconstitutional.Themotionsweredeniedbytherespondenttrialcourts,exceptinone
case,whichisthesubjectofG.R.No.75789,whereinthetrialcourtdeclaredthelawunconstitutionaland
dismissedthecase.Thepartiesadverselyaffectedhavecometousforrelief.

AsathresholdissuetheformerSolicitorGeneralinhiscommentonthepetitions,maintainedtheposturethatitwas
prematurefortheaccusedtoelevatetothisCourttheordersdenyingtheirmotionstoquash,theseordersbeing
interlocutory.Whilethisiscorrectasageneralrule,wehaveinjustifiablecasesintervenedtoreviewthelower
court'sdenialofamotiontoquash.1Inviewoftheimportanceoftheissueinvolvedhere,thereisnodoubtinourmind
thattheinstantpetitionsshouldbeentertainedandtheconstitutionalchallengetoBP22resolvedpromptly,onewayorthe
other,inordertoputtorestthedoubtsanduncertaintythatexistinlegalandjudicialcirclesandthegeneralpublicwhich
haveunnecessarilycausedadelayinthedispositionofcasesinvolvingtheenforcementofthestatute.

Forthepurposeofresolvingtheconstitutionalissuepresentedhere,wedonotfinditnecessarytodelveintothe
specificsoftheinformationsinvolvedinthecaseswhicharethesubjectofthepetitionsbeforeus.2Thelanguageof
BP22isbroadenoughtocoverallkindsofchecks,whetherpresentdatedorpostdated,orwhetherissuedinpaymentof
preexistingobligationsorgiveninmutualorsimultaneousexchangeforsomethingofvalue.

BP22punishesaperson"whomakesordrawsandissuesanycheckonaccountorforvalue,knowingatthetime
ofissuethathedoesnothavesufficientfundsinorcreditwiththedraweebankforthepaymentofsaidcheckinfull
uponpresentment,whichcheckissubsequentlydishonoredbythedraweebankforinsufficiencyoffundsorcredit
orwouldhavebeendishonoredforthesamereasonhadnotthedrawer,withoutanyvalidreason,orderedthebank
tostoppayment."Thepenaltyprescribedfortheoffenseisimprisonmentofnotlessthan30daysnormorethanone
yearorafineornotlessthantheamountofthechecknormorethandoublesaidamount,butinnocasetoexceed
P200,000.00,orbothsuchfineandimprisonmentatthediscretionofthecourt.3

Thestatutelikewiseimposesthesamepenaltyon"anypersonwho,havingsufficientfundsinorcreditwiththe
draweebankwhenhemakesordrawsandissuesacheck,shallfailtokeepsufficientfundsortomaintainacredit
tocoverthefullamountofthecheckifpresentedwithinaperiodofninety(90)daysfromthedateappearing
thereon,forwhichreasonitisdishonoredbythedraweebank.4

Anessentialelementoftheoffenseis"knowledge"onthepartofthemakerordrawerofthecheckofthe
insufficiencyofhisfundsinorcreditwiththebanktocoverthecheckuponitspresentment.Sincethisinvolvesa
stateofminddifficulttoestablish,thestatuteitselfcreatesaprimafaciepresumptionofsuchknowledgewhere
paymentofthecheck"isrefusedbythedraweebecauseofinsufficientfundsinorcreditwithsuchbankwhen
presentedwithinninety(90)daysfromthedateofthecheck.5Tomitigatetheharshnessofthelawinitsapplication,the
statuteprovidesthatsuchpresumptionshallnotariseifwithinfive(5)bankingdaysfromreceiptofthenoticeofdishonor,the
makerordrawermakesarrangementsforpaymentofthecheckbythebankorpaystheholdertheamountofthecheck.

Anotherprovisionofthestatute,alsointhenatureofaruleofevidence,providesthattheintroductioninevidenceof
theunpaidanddishonoredcheckwiththedraweebank'srefusaltopay"stampedorwrittenthereonorattached
thereto,givingthereasontherefor,"shallconstituteprimafacieproofof"themakingorissuanceofsaidcheck,and
theduepresentmenttothedraweeforpaymentandthedishonorthereof...forthereasonwritten,stampedor
attachedbythedraweeonsuchdishonoredcheck."6

Thepresumptionsbeingmerelyprimafacie,itisopentotheaccusedofcoursetopresentprooftothecontraryto
overcomethesaidpresumptions.

II

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BP22isaimedatputtingastoptoorcurbingthepracticeofissuingchecksthatareworthless,i.e.checksthatend
upbeingrejectedordishonoredforpayment.Thepractice,asdiscussedlater,isproscribedbythestatebecauseof
theinjuryitcausestotpublicinterests.

BeforetheenactmentofBP22,provisionsalreadyexistedinourstatutebookswhichpenalizetheissuanceof
bouncingorrubberchecks.Criminallawhasdealthwiththeproblemwithinthecontextofcrimesagainstproperty
punishedas"estafa"orcrimesinvolvingfraudanddeceit.Thefocusofthesepenalprovisionsisonthedamage
causedtothepropertyrightsofthevictim.

ThePenalCodeofSpain,whichwasinforceinthePhilippinesfrom1887untilitwasreplacedbytheRevisedPenal
Codein1932,containedprovisionspenalizing,amongothers,theactofdefraudinganotherthroughfalsepretenses.
Art.335punishedapersonwhodefraudedanother"byfalselypretendingtopossessanypower,influence,
qualification,property,credit,agencyorbusiness,orbymeansofsimilardeceit."Althoughnoexplicitmentionwas
madethereinregardingchecks,thisprovisionwasdeemedtocoverwithinitsambittheissuanceofworthlessor
boguschecksinexchangeformoney.7

In1926,anamendmentwasintroducedbythePhilippineLegislature,whichaddedanewclause(paragraph10)to
Article335oftheoldPenalCode,thistimereferringinexplicittermstotheissuanceofworthlesschecks.The
amendmentpenalizedanypersonwho1)issuesacheckinpaymentofadebtorforothervaluableconsideration,
knowingatthetimeofitsissuancethathedoesnothavesufficientfundsinthebanktocoveritsamount,or2)
maliciouslysignsthecheckdifferentlyfromhisauthenticsignatureasregisteredatthebankinorderthatthelatter
wouldrefusetohonoritor3)issuesapostdatedcheckand,atthedatesetforitspayment,doesnothavesufficient
deposittocoverthesame.8

In1932,asalreadyadvertedto,theoldPenalCodewassupersededbytheRevisedPenalCode.9Theabove
provisions,inamendedform,wereincorporatedinArticle315oftheRevisedPenalCodedefiningthecrimeofestafa.The
revisedtextoftheprovisionreadasfollows:

Art.315.Swindling(estafa).Anypersonwhoshalldefraudanotherbyanyofthemeansmentioned
hereinbelowshallbepunishedby:

xxxxxxxxx

2.Bymeansofanyofthefollowingfalsepretensesorfraudulentactsexecutedpriortoorsimultaneouslywith
thecommissionofthefraud:

(a)Byusingfictitiousname,orfalselypretendingtopossesspower,influence,qualifications,property,
credit,agency,businessorimaginarytransactions,orbymeansofothersimilardeceits

xxxxxxxxx

(d)Bypostdatingacheck,orissuingacheckinpaymentofanobligationtheoffenderknowingthatat
thetimehehadnofundsinthebank,orthefundsdepositedbyhimwerenotsufficienttocoverthe
amountofthecheekwithoutinformingthepayeeofsuchcircumstances.

Thescopeofparagraph2(d),however,wasdeemedtoexcludechecksissuedinpaymentofpreexisting
obligations.10Therationaleofthisinterpretationisthatinestafa,thedeceitcausingthedefraudationmustbepriortoor
simultaneouswiththecommissionofthefraud.Inissuingacheckaspaymentforapreexistingdebt,thedrawerdoesnot
deriveanymaterialbenefitinreturnorasconsiderationforitsissuance.Onthepartofthepayee,hehadalreadypartedwith
hismoneyorpropertybeforethecheckisissuedtohimhence,heisnotdefraudedbymeansofany"prior"or"simultaneous"
deceitperpetratedonhimbythedrawerofthecheck.

Withtheintentionofremedyingthesituationandsolvingtheproblemofhowtobringchecksissuedinpaymentof
preexistingdebtswithintheambitofArt.315,anamendmentwasintroducedbytheCongressofthePhilippinesin
1967,11whichwasenactedintolawasRepublicActNo.4885,revisingtheaforesaidprovisotoreadasfollows:

(d)Bypostdatingacheck,orissuingacheckinpaymentofanobligationwhentheoffenderhadnofundsin
thebank,orhisfundsdepositedthereinwerenotsufficienttocovertheamountofthecheck.Thefailureof
thedrawerofthechecktodeposittheamountnecessarytocoverhischeckwithinthree(3)daysfromreceipt
ofnoticefromthebankand/orthepayeeorholderthatsaidcheckhasbeendishonoredforlackor
insufficiencyoffundsshallbepumafacieevidenceofdeceitconstitutingfalsepretenseorfraudulentact.

However,theadoptionoftheamendmentdidnotalterthesituationmaterially.AdividedCourtheldinPeoplevs.
Sabio,Jr.12thatArticle315,asamendedbyRepublicAct4885,doesnotcoverchecksissuedinpaymentofpreexisting
obligations,againrelyingontheconceptunderlyingthecrimeofestafathroughfalsepretensesordeceitwhichis,thatthe
deceitorfalsepretensemustbepriortoorsimultaneouswiththecommissionofthefraud.

Sincestatisticallyithadbeenshownthatthegreaterbulkofdishonoredchecksconsistedofthoseissuedin
paymentofpreexistingdebts,13theamendedprovisionevidentlyfailedtocopewiththerealproblemandtodeal
effectivelywiththeevilthatitwasintendedtoeliminateorminimize.

Withtheforegoingfactualandlegalantecedentsasabackdrop,thethenInterimBatasanconfrontedtheproblem
squarely.Itoptedtotakeaboldstepanddecidedtoenactalawdealingwiththeproblemofbouncingorworthless

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checks,withoutattachingthelaw'sumbilicalcordtotheexistingpenalprovisionsonestafa.BP22addressesthe
problemdirectlyandfrontallyandmakestheactofissuingaworthlesscheckmalumprohibitum.14

Thequestionnowarises:IsBP22avalidlaw?

Previouseffortstodealwiththeproblemofbouncingcheckswithintheambitofthelawonestafadidnotevokeany
constitutionalchallenge.Incontrast,BP22waschallengedpromptly.

ThosewhoquestiontheconstitutionalityofBP22insistthat:(1)itoffendstheconstitutionalprovisionforbidding
imprisonmentfordebt(2)itimpairsfreedomofcontract(3)itcontravenestheequalprotectionclause(4)itunduly
delegateslegislativeandexecutivepowersand(5)itsenactmentisflawedinthatduringitspassagetheInterim
BatasanviolatedtheconstitutionalprovisionprohibitingamendmentstoabillonThirdReading.

TheconstitutionalchallengetoBP22posedbypetitionersdeservesasearchingandthoroughscrutinyandthe
mostdeliberateconsiderationbytheCourt,involvingasitdoestheexerciseofwhathasbeendescribedas"the
highestandmostdelicatefunctionwhichbelongstothejudicialdepartmentofthegovernment."15

Asweenteruponthetaskofpassingonthevalidityofanactofacoequalandcoordinatebranchofthe
government,weneednotberemindedofthetimehonoredprinciple,deeplyingrainedinourjurisprudence,thata
statuteispresumedtobevalid.Everypresumptionmustbeindulgedinfavorofitsconstitutionality.Thisisnottosay
thatweapproachourtaskwithdiffidenceortimidity.Whereitisclearthatthelegislaturehasoversteppedthelimits
ofitsauthorityundertheconstitutionweshouldnothesitatetowieldtheaxeandletitfallheavily,asfallitmust,on
theoffendingstatute.

III

AmongtheconstitutionalobjectionsraisedagainstBP22,themostseriousistheallegedconflictbetweenthe
statuteandtheconstitutionalprovisionforbiddingimprisonmentfordebt.Itiscontendedthatthestatuterunscounter
totheinhibitionintheBillofRightswhichstates,"Nopersonshallbeimprisonedfordebtornonpaymentofapoll
tax."16Petitionersinsistthat,sincetheoffenseunderBP22isconsummatedonlyuponthedishonorornonpaymentofthe
checkwhenitispresentedtothedraweebank,thestatuteisreallya"baddebtlaw"ratherthana"badchecklaw."Whatit
punishesisthenonpaymentofthecheck,nottheactofissuingit.Thestatute,itisclaimed,isnothingmorethanaveiled
devicetocoercepaymentofadebtunderthethreatofpenalsanction.

Firstofallitisessentialtograsptheessenceandscopeoftheconstitutionalinhibitioninvokedbypetitioners.
Viewedinitshistoricalcontext,theconstitutionalprohibitionagainstimprisonmentfordebtisasafeguardthat
evolvedgraduallyduringtheearlypartofthenineteenthcenturyinthevariousstatesoftheAmericanUnionasa
resultofthepeople'srevulsionatthecruelandinhumanepractice,sanctionedbycommonlaw,whichpermitted
creditorstocausetheincarcerationofdebtorswhocouldnotpaytheirdebts.Atcommonlaw,moneyjudgments
arisingfromactionsfortherecoveryofadebtorfordamagesfrombreachofacontractcouldbeenforcedagainst
thepersonorbodyofthedebtorbywritofcapiasadsatisfaciendum.Bymeansofthiswrit,adebtorcouldbeseized
andimprisonedattheinstanceofthecreditoruntilhemakesthesatisfactionawarded.Asaconsequenceofthe
populargroundswellagainstsuchabarbarouspractice,provisionsforbiddingimprisonmentfordebtcametobe
generallyenshrinedintheconstitutionsofvariousstatesoftheUnion.17

ThishumanitarianprovisionwastransportedtoourshoresbytheAmericansattheturnoft0hecenturyand
embodiedinourorganiclaws.18Later,ourfundamentallawoutlawednotonlyimprisonmentfordebt,butalsothe
infamouspractice,nativetoourshore,ofthrowingpeopleinjailfornonpaymentofthecedulaorpolltax.19

Thereachandscopeofthisconstitutionalsafeguardhavebeenthesubjectofjudicialdefinition,bothbyour
SupremeCourt20andbyAmericanStatecourts.21Mr.JusticeMalcolmspeakingfortheSupremeCourtinGanawayvs.
Queen,22stated:"The'debt'intendedtobecoveredbytheconstitutionalguarantyhasawelldefinedmeaning.Organic
provisionsrelievingfromimprisonmentfordebt,wereintendedtopreventcommitmentofdebtorstoprisonforliabilities
arisingfromactionsexcontractuTheinhibitionwasnevermeanttoincludedamagesarisinginactionsexdelicto,forthe
reasonthatdamagesrecoverablethereindonotarisefromanycontractenteredintobetweenthepartiesbutareimposed
uponthedefendantforthewronghehasdoneandareconsideredaspunishment,nortofinesandpenaltiesimposedbythe
courtsincriminalproceedingsaspunishmentsforcrime."

ThelawinvolvedinGanawaywasnotacriminalstatutebuttheCodeofProcedureinCivilActions(1909)which
authorizedthearrestofthedefendantinacivilcaseongroundsakintothosewhichjustifytheissuanceofawritof
attachmentunderourpresentRulesofCourt,suchasimminentdepartureofthedefendantfromthePhilippineswith
intenttodefraudhiscreditors,orconcealment,removalordispositionofpropertiesinfraudofcreditors,etc.The
Court,inthatcase,declaredthedetentionofthedefendantunlawful,beingviolativeoftheconstitutionalinhibition
againstimprisonmentfordebt,andorderedhisrelease.TheCourt,however,refrainedfromdeclaringthestatutory
provisioninquestionunconstitutional.

ClosertothecaseatbarisPeoplev.VeraReyes,23whereinastatutoryprovisionwhichmadeillegalandpunishablethe
refusalofanemployertopay,whenhecandoso,thesalariesofhisemployeesorlaborersonthefifteenthorlastdayof
everymonthoronSaturdayeveryweek,waschallengedforbeingviolativeoftheconstitutionalprohibitionagainst
imprisonmentfordebt.TheconstitutionalityofthelawinquestionwasupheldbytheCourt,itbeingwithintheauthorityofthe
legislaturetoenactsuchalawintheexerciseofthepolicepower.Itwasheldthat"oneofthepurposesofthelawisto
suppresspossibleabusesonthepartoftheemployerswhohirelaborersoremployeeswithoutpayingthemthesalaries
agreeduponfortheirservices,thuscausingthemfinancialdifficulties."Thelawwasviewednotasameasuretocoerce
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paymentofanobligation,althoughobviouslysuchcouldbeitseffect,buttobanishapracticeconsideredharmfultopublic
welfare.

IV

HasBP22transgressedtheconstitutionalinhibitionagainstimprisonmentfordebt?Toanswerthequestion,itis
necessarytoexaminewhatthestatuteprohibitsandpunishesasanoffense.Isitthefailureofthemakerofthe
checktopayadebt?Orisitthemakingandissuanceofaworthlesscheckinpaymentofadebt?Whatisthe
gravamenoftheoffense?Thisquestionliesattheheartoftheissuebeforeus.

ThegravamenoftheoffensepunishedbyBP22istheactofmakingandissuingaworthlesscheckoracheckthat
isdishonoreduponitspresentationforpayment.Itisnotthenonpaymentofanobligationwhichthelawpunishes.
Thelawisnotintendedordesignedtocoerceadebtortopayhisdebt.Thethrustofthelawistoprohibit,under
painofpenalsanctions,themakingofworthlesschecksandputtingthemincirculation.Becauseofitsdeleterious
effectsonthepublicinterest,thepracticeisproscribedbythelaw.Thelawpunishestheactnotasanoffense
againstproperty,butanoffenseagainstpublicorder.

Admittedly,thedistinctionmayseematfirstblushtoappearelusiveanddifficulttoconceptualize.Butpreciselyin
thefailuretoperceivethevitaldistinctionliestheerrorofthosewhochallengethevalidityofBP22.

Itmaybeconstitutionallyimpermissibleforthelegislaturetopenalizeapersonfornonpaymentofadebtex
contractuButcertainlyitiswithintheprerogativeofthelawmakingbodytoproscribecertainactsdeemedpernicious
andinimicaltopublicwelfare.Actsmalainsearenottheonlyactswhichthelawcanpunish.Anactmaynotbe
consideredbysocietyasinherentlywrong,hence,notmaluminsebutbecauseoftheharmthatitinflictsonthe
community,itcanbeoutlawedandcriminallypunishedasmalumprohibitum.Thestatecandothisintheexerciseof
itspolicepower.

Thepolicepowerofthestatehasbeendescribedas"themostessential,insistentandillimitableofpowers"which
enablesittoprohibitallthingshurtfultothecomfort,safetyandwelfareofsociety.24Itisapowernotemanatingfrom
orconferredbytheconstitution,butinherentinthestate,plenary,"suitablyvagueandfarfrompreciselydefined,rootedinthe
conceptionthatmaninorganizingthestateandimposinguponthegovernmentlimitationstosafeguardconstitutionalrights
didnotintendtherebytoenableindividualcitizensorgroupofcitizenstoobstructunreasonablytheenactmentofsuch
salutarymeasurestoensurecommunalpeace,safety,goodorderandwelfare."25

TheenactmentofBP22isadeclarationbythelegislaturethat,asamatterofpublicpolicy,themakingand
issuanceofaworthlesscheckisdeemedpublicnuisancetobeabatedbytheimpositionofpenalsanctions.

Itisnotforustoquestionthewisdomorimpolicyofthestatute.Itissufficientthatareasonablenexusexists
betweenmeansandend.Consideringthefactualandlegalantecedentsthatledtotheadoptionofthestatute,itis
notdifficulttounderstandthepublicconcernwhichprompteditsenactment.Ithadbeenreportedthatthe
approximatevalueofbouncingchecksperdaywascloseto200millionpesos,andthereafterwhenoverdraftswere
bannedbytheCentralBank,itaveragedbetween50minionto80millionpesosaday.26

Bydefinition,acheckisabillofexchangedrawnonabankandpayableondemand.27Itisawrittenorderonabank,
purportingtobedrawnagainstadepositoffundsforthepaymentofallevents,ofasumofmoneytoacertainpersontherein
namedortohisorderortocashandpayableondemand.28Unlikeapromissorynote,acheckisnotamereundertakingto
payanamountofmoney.Itisanorderaddressedtoabankandpartakesofarepresentationthatthedrawerhasfundson
depositagainstwhichthecheckisdrawn,sufficienttoensurepaymentuponitspresentationtothebank.Thereistherefore
anelementofcertaintyorassurancethattheinstrumentwigbepaiduponpresentation.Forthisreason,checkshave
becomewidelyacceptedasamediumofpaymentintradeandcommerce.Althoughnotlegaltender,checkshavecometo
beperceivedasconvenientsubstitutesforcurrencyincommercialandfinancialtransactions.Thebasisorfoundationofsuch
perceptionisconfidence.Ifsuchconfidenceisshakestheusefulnessofchecksascurrencysubstituteswouldbegreatly
diminishedormaybecomenitAnypracticethereforetendingtodestroythatconfidenceshouldbedeterredforthe
proliferationofworthlesscheckscanonlycreatehavocintradecirclesandthebankingcommunity.

RecentstatisticsoftheCentralBankshowthatonethirdoftheentiremoneysupplyofthecountry,roughlytotalling
P32.3billion,consistsofpesodemanddepositstheremainingtwo.29Thesededepositthirdsconsistsofcurrency
incirculation.madepositsinthebanksconstitutethefundsagainstwhichamongothers,commercialpaperslike
checks,aredrawn.Themagnitudeoftheamountinvolvedamplyjustifiesthelegitimateconcernofthestatein
preservingtheintegrityofthebankingsystem.Floodingthesystemwithworthlesschecksislikepouringgarbage
intothebloodstreamofthenation'seconomy.

Theeffectsoftheissuanceofaworthlesschecktranscendstheprivateinterestsofthepartiesdirectlyinvolvedin
thetransactionandtouchestheinterestsofthecommunityatlarge.Themischiefitcreatesisnotonlyawrongto
thepayeeorholder,butalsoaninjurytothepublic.Theharmfulpracticeofputtingvaluelesscommercialpapersin
circulation,multipliedathousandfold,canverywenpollutethechannelsoftradeandcommerce,injurethebanking
systemandeventuallyhurtthewelfareofsocietyandthepublicinterest.Asaptlystated30

The'checkflasher'doesagreatdealmorethancontractadebtheshakesthepillarsofbusinessandtomy
mind,itisamistakencharityofjudgmenttoplacehiminthesamecategorywiththehonestmanwhois
unabletopayhisdebts,andforwhomtheconstitutionalinhibitionagainst'imprisonmentfordebt,exceptin
casesoffraudwasintendedasashieldandnotasword.

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Insum,wefindtheenactmentofBP22avalidexerciseofthepolicepowerandisnotrepugnanttothe
constitutionalinhibitionagainstimprisonmentfordebt.

ThisCourtisnotunawareoftheconflictingjurisprudenceobtaininginthevariousstatesoftheUnitedStatesonthe
constitutionalityofthe"worthlesscheck"acts.31Itisneedlesstowarnthatforeignjurisprudencemustbetakenwith
abundantcaution.Acaveattobeobservedisthatsubstantialdifferencesexistbetweenourstatuteandtheworthlesscheck
actsofthosestateswherethejurisprudencehaveevolved.OnethingtorememberisthatBP22wasnotliftedbodilyfrom
anyexistingstatute.Furthermore,wehavetoconsiderthatjudicialdecisionsmustbereadinthecontextofthefactsandthe
lawinvolvedand,inabroadersense,ofthesocialeconomicandpoliticalenvironmentinshort,themilieuunderwhich
theyweremade.Werecognizethewisdomoftheoldsayingthatwhatissauceforthegoosemaynotbesauceforthe
gander.

Asstatedelsewhere,policepowerisadynamicforcethatenablesthestatetomeettheexigenciesofchanging
times.Thereareoccasionswhenthepolicepowerofthestatemayevenoverrideaconstitutionalguaranty.For
example,therehavebeencaseswhereinweheldthattheconstitutionalprovisiononnonimpairmentofcontracts
mustyieldtothepolicepowerofthestate.32Whetherthepolicepowermayoverridetheconstitutionalinhibition
againstimprisonmentfordebtisanissuewedonothavetoaddress.Thisbridgehasnotbeenreached,sothereis
nooccasiontocrossit.

WeholdthatBP22doesnotconflictwiththeconstitutionalinhibitionagainstimprisonmentfordebt.

Weneednotdetainourselveslengthilyintheexaminationoftheotherconstitutionalobjectionsraisedbypetitioners,
someofwhichareratherflimsy.

WefindnovalidgroundtosustainthecontentionthatBP22impairsfreedomofcontract.Thefreedomofcontract
whichisconstitutionallyprotectedisfreedomtoenterinto"lawful"contracts.Contractswhichcontravenepublic
policyarenotlawful.33Besides,wemustbearinmindthatcheckscannotbecategorizedasmerecontracts.Itisa
commercialinstrumentwhich,inthismodemdayandage,hasbecomeaconvenientsubstituteformoneyitforms
partofthebankingsystemandthereforenotentirelyfreefromtheregulatorypowerofthestate.

Neitherdowefindsubstanceintheclaimthatthestatuteinquestiondeniesequalprotectionofthelawsoris
discriminatory,sinceitpenalizesthedrawerofthecheck,butnotthepayee.Itiscontendedthatthepayeeisjustas
responsibleforthecrimeasthedrawerofthecheck,sincewithouttheindispensableparticipationofthepayeeby
hisacceptanceofthechecktherewouldbenocrime.Thisargumentistantamounttosayingthat,togiveequal
protection,thelawshouldpunishboththeswindlerandtheswindled.Thepetitioners'postureignoresthewell
acceptedmeaningoftheclause"equalprotectionofthelaws."Theclausedoesnotprecludeclassificationof
individuals,whomaybeaccordeddifferenttreatmentunderthelawaslongastheclassificationisnounreasonable
orarbitrary.34

ItisalsosuggestedthatBP22constitutesundueorimproperdelegationoflegislativepowers,onthetheorythatthe
offenseisnotcompletedbythesoleactofthemakerordrawerbutismadetodependonthewillofthepayee.Ifthe
payeedoesnotpresentthechecktothebankforpaymentbutinsteadkeepsit,therewouldbenocrime.Thelogic
oftheargumentstretchestoabsurditythemeaningof"delegationoflegislativepower."Whatcannotbedelegatedis
thepowertolegislate,orthepowertomakelaws.35whichmeans,asappliedtothepresentcase,thepowerto
definetheoffensesoughttobepunishedandtoprescribethepenalty.Bynostretchoflogicorimaginationcanitbe
saidthatthepowertodefinethecrimeandprescribethepenaltythereforhasbeeninanymannerdelegatedtothe
payee.Neitheristhereanyprovisioninthestatutethatcanbeconstrued,nomatterhowremotely,asundue
delegationofexecutivepower.Thesuggestionthatthestatuteunlawfullydelegatesitsenforcementtotheoffended
partyisfarfetched.

Lastly,theobjectionhasbeenraisedthatSection9(2)ofArticleVIIofthe1973Constitutionwasviolatedbythe
legislativebodywhenitenactedBP22intolaw.Thisconstitutionalprovisionprohibitstheintroductionof
amendmentstoabillduringtheThirdReading.ItisclaimedthatduringitsThirdReading,thebillwhicheventually
becameBP22wasamendedinthatthetextofthesecondparagraphofSection1ofthebillasadoptedonSecond
ReadingwasalteredorchangedintheprintedtextofthebillsubmittedforapprovalonThirdReading.

AcarefulreviewoftherecordoftheproceedingsoftheInterimBatasanonthismattershowsthat,indeed,therewas
someconfusionamongBatasanMembersonwhatwastheexacttextoftheparagraphinquestionwhichthebody
approvedonSecondReading.36Partoftheconfusionwasdueapparentlytothefactthatduringthedeliberations
onSecondReading(theamendmentperiod),amendmentswereproposedorallyandapprovedbythebodyor
acceptedbythesponsor,hence,somemembersmightnothavegottenthecompletetextoftheprovisionsofthebill
asamendedandapprovedonSecondReading.However,itisclearfromtherecordsthatthetextofthesecond
paragraphofSection1ofBP22isthetextwhichwasactuallyapprovedbythebodyonSecondReadingon
February7,1979,asreflectedintheapprovedMinutesforthatday.Inanyevent,beforethebinwassubmittedfor
finalapprovalonThirdReading,theInterimBatasancreatedaSpecialCommitteetoinvestigatethematter,andthe
Committeeinitsreport,whichwasapprovedbytheentirebodyonMarch22,1979,statedthat"theclausein
questionwas...anauthorizedamendmentofthebillandtheprintedcopythereofreflectsaccuratelytheprovisionin
questionasapprovedonSecondReading.37Wetherefore,findnomeritinthepetitioners'claimthatinthe
enactmentofBP22theprovisionsofSection9(2)ofArticleVIIIofthe1973Constitutionwereviolated.

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WHEREFORE,judgmentisrenderedgrantingthepetitioninG.R.No.75789andsettingasidetheorderofthe
respondentJudgedatedAugust19,1986.ThepetitionsinG.R.Nos.63419,6683942,71654,7452425,7512249,
7581213and7576567areherebydismissedandthetemporaryrestrainingorderissuedinG.R.Nos.7452425is
lifted.Withcostsagainstprivatepetitioners.

SOORDERED.

Teehankee,C.J.,Feria,Fernan,Narvasa,MelencioHerrera,Alampay,Gutierrez,Jr.,Cruz,ParasandFeliciano,JJ.,
concur.

Footnotes

1Salongav.CruzPano,134SCRA438Meanv.Argel115SCRA256Yapv.Lutero,105Phil3007Pineda
andAmpilManufacturingCo.v.Bartolome,95Phil.930Peoplev.Zulueta,89Phil.880Newsweek,Inc.v.
IntermediateAppellateCourt,G.R.No.63559,May30,1986,142SCRA171.

2PostdatedchecksareinvolvedinG.R.Nos.6683942,G.R.No.71654andG.R.No.75789,presentdated
checksinG.R.No.63419andG.R.Nos.7581213,andamixofpresentdatedandpostdatedchecksinG.R.
Nos.7452425andG.R.Nos.7576567.

3Section1,firstparagraph.

4Id,secondparagraph

5Section2.

6Section3.

7U.S.v.Mendezona12Phil.72U.S.v.Lee,39Phil.466.

8ActNo.3313,approvedonDecember3,1926.

9ActNo.3815,whichwasapprovedonDecember8,1930,buttookeffectonJanuary1,1932.

10Peoplev.Lilius,59Phil.339Peoplev.Quesada,60Phil.515Peoplev.Fortuno,73Phil407.

11SenateBillNo.413,sponsoredbySen.AmbrosioPadilla.

1286SCRA568.

13CitedinDissentingOpinion,Antonio,J.inPeoplev.Sabio,Jr.,supra,p.600.

14Theoffenseispunishednotasacrimeagainstproperty,butagainstpublicinterest.SeeRecordof
Batasan,Vol.3,P.B.No.70.

15Statev.Manuel20N.C.144.

16Section13,ArticleIV,1973Constitution

17ForasurveyoftheconstitutionalprovisionsofvariousAmericanStates,seeTanCongv.N.LStewart,42
PhiL809.

18PhilippineBillof1902JonesLaw(1916).

191935Constitution,Art.111,Sec.1(12)1973Constitution,Art.IV,Sec13.

20TanCongvs.N.LStewart(1907)42PhiL809Ganawayv.Quillen(1922),42Phil.815.

2116AAm.Jur.2d,566574.

2242Phil.805,807808.

2367Phil.187,190.Page338

24Smith,Bell&Co.v.National(1919),40Phil.136Rubiv.Prov.BdofMindoro(1919).

25Fernando,J.inEduv.Ericta,35SCRA481.

26DissentingOpinion,Antonio.J.inPeoplev.Sabio,Jr.,supra,p.600.17

27Section185,NegotiableInstrumentsLaw.

28Black'sLawDictionary(5thEd.)p.215.

29CBReview,August,1986,p.6.Forexample,forthemonthofAugust,1986,thetotalmoneysupplywas
P32.326billion,ofwhichP21.640billionrepresentedcurrencyincirculationandP10,677billion,peso

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demanddeposits.

30Stacy,C.J.,concurringinStatev.Yarboro(1927)194N.C.498140S.E.216,220.

31Forasurveyofdecisionsonthesubject,seeAnnotations,23A.L.R.459and76A.L.R.1229,
ConstitutionalityupheldFrazierv.State(1931)135So.280ExparteRosencratz(1931)299Pac.15Carter
v.Lowry(1929)167Ga.151S.E.23Caughlanv.State(1927)22Ala220,114So.280Statev.Yarboro
(1927)194N.C.498,140,S.E.216Statev.Avery(1922)207Pac.838,23A.L.R.453Hollisv.State(1921)
152Ga.192,108S.E.783McQuaggev.State(1920)80Fla.768,87So.60,Statev.Pining(1909)53
Wash.464132AmSt.Contra:Statev.Nelson(1931)237N.W.766,76A.L.R.1226Burnhamv.Com.
(1929)228Ky410,15S.W.(2d)256Wardv.Coni11929)228Ky468,15S.W.(2d)276Neidlingerv.State
(1916)17Ga.App.811,88S.E.687Carrv.State(1895)106Ala35,34L.R.A.634.

32Phil.AmericanLifeInsuranceCo.v.AuditorGeneral22SCRA135.33

33Article1409,CivilCode.

34TanadaandFernando,ConstitutionofthePhil.(1949ed.)P.534Chongv.Hernandez101Phil.1155
(1952)CoChiongv.Cuaderno,83Phil.242(1949).

35Peoplev.Vera,65Phil.56.

36RecordoftheBatasan,Vol.3,R.B.No.91andNo.92.

37Ibid,Vol.4,R.B.No.120,page185.

TheLawphilProjectArellanoLawFoundation

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