Lee vs CA

G.R. No. 90423. September 6, 1991

Francis Lee – petitioner vs Court of Appeals, People of the Philippines and Pelagia Paulino De Chin -
respondents

Facts of the Case:

Private respondent – Mana Pelagia Paulino De Chin filed a complaint against the petitioner. On
June 20, 1984 at about 10:00 o’clock in the morning, the complainant Mana Pelagia Paulino de Chin, 23
years old was fetched from her house by a bank employee upon the instruction of Branch Manager
Francis Lee of Pacific Banking Corporation. The latter confronted the former about a forged Midland
National Bank Cashier Check which the latter allegedly deposited in the account of Honorio Carpio.
During the said confrontation, petitioner has been shouting respondent – Pelagia with piercing looks
and threatened to file charges against her unless she returned the entire money equivalent to the
alleged forged cashier’s check.

Accordingly, the complainant was caused to sign a prepare withdrawal slip and an affidavit
prepared by the bank’s lawyer, where she was made to admit that she had swindled the bank and had
return the money equivalent of the spurious check. RTC and MTC ruled in favor of the complainant;
hence, petition for review of certiorari was filed by petitioner – Francis Lee for the decision accusing him
of grave coercion and denying such accusation.

Issue:

Whether or not the acts of petitioner in simply “shouting at the complainant with piercing
looks” and “threats to file charges against her” are sufficient to convict him of the crime of grave
coercion?

Ruling:

The accused is acquitted of the crime of grave coercion. Petitioner’s demand that the private
respondent return the proceeds of the check accompanied by a threat to file a criminal charge is not
improper and will not fall under article 286 of the RPC. There is nothing unlawful on the threat to sue.
Furthermore, the court ruled that: “It is a practice followed not only by banks but even by individuals to
demand payment of their accounts with the threat that upon failure to do so an action would be
instituted in court. Such a threat is proper within the realm of the law as a means to enforce collection.
Such threat cannot constitute duress even if the claim proves to be unfounded so long as the creditor
believes that it was his right to do so.”

The applicable provision will be of Article 1335 of the Civil Code that provides:

sex and condition of the person shall be borne in mind. the age. if the claim is just or legal. the most telling proof of the absence of intimidation was the fact that the complainant refused to sign the promissory note in spite of alleged threat.” The complaint filed does not vitiate consent for lack of intimidation. . “There is intimidation when one of the contracting parties is compelled by a reasonable and well-grounded fear of an imminent and grave evil upon his person or property or upon the person or property of his spouse. to give his consent. A threat to enforce one’s claim through competent authority. descendants or ascendants. To determine the degree of the intimidation. does not vitiate consent.