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BATAS PAMBANSA BLG.

22 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
AN ACT PENALIZING THE MAKING OR DRAWING AND ISSUANCE OF A check, and the due presentment to the drawee for payment and the dishonor
CHECK WITHOUT SUFFICIENT FUNDS OR CREDIT AND FOR OTHER thereof, and that the same was properly dishonored for the reason written,
PURPOSES. stamped or attached by the drawee on such dishonored check.

Section 1. Checks without sufficient funds. - Any person who makes or draws Not with standing receipt of an order to stop payment, the drawee shall state
and issues any check to apply on account or for value, knowing at the time of in the notice that there were no sufficient funds in or credit with such bank for
issue that he does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank the payment in full of such check, if such be the fact.
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 Section 4. Credit construed. - The word "credit" as used herein shall be
credit or would have been dishonored for the same reason had not the drawer, construed to mean an arrangement or understanding with the bank for the
without any valid reason, ordered the bank to stop payment, shall be punished payment of such check.
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 Section 5. Liability under the Revised Penal Code. - Prosecution under this
which fine shall in no case exceed Two Hundred Thousand Pesos, or both Act shall be without prejudice to any liability for violation of any provision of the
such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court. Revised Penal Code.

The same penalty shall be imposed upon any person who, having sufficient Section 6. Separability clause. - If any separable provision of this Act be
funds in or credit with the drawee bank when he makes or draws and issues a declared unconstitutional, the remaining provisions shall continue to be in
check, shall fail to keep sufficient funds or to maintain a credit to cover the full force.
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. Section 7. Effectivity. - This Act shall take effect fifteen days after publication
in the Official Gazette.
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
Approved: April 3, 1979.
under this Act.

Section 2. Evidence of knowledge of insufficient funds. - The making, drawing


and issuance of a check payment of which is refused by the drawee 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 (5) banking days after
receiving notice that such check has not been paid by the drawee.

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

1
I. Constitutionality and Presumptions I

G.R. No. L-63419 December 18, 1986 BP 22 punishes a person "who makes or draws and issues any check on
account or for value, knowing at the time of issue that he does not have
FLORENTINA A. LOZANO, petitioner, sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the payment of said check
vs. in full upon presentment, which check is subsequently dishonored by the
THE HONORABLE ANTONIO M. MARTINEZ, in his capacity as Presiding drawee bank for insufficiency of funds or credit or would have been dishonored
Judge, Regional Trial Court, National Capital Judicial Region, Branch for the same reason had not the drawer, without any valid reason, ordered the
XX, Manila, and the HONORABLE JOSE B. FLAMINIANO, in his capacity bank to stop payment." The penalty prescribed for the offense is imprisonment
as City Fiscal of Manila, respondents. of not less than 30 days nor more than one year or a fine or not less than the
amount of the check nor more than double said amount, but in no case to
YAP, J.: exceed P200,000.00, or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of
the court. 3
The constitutionality of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 (BP 22 for short), popularly
The statute likewise imposes the same penalty on "any person who, having
known as the Bouncing Check Law, which was approved on April 3, 1979, is
sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank when he makes or draws and
the sole issue presented by these petitions for decision. The question is
issues a check, shall fail to keep sufficient funds or to maintain a credit to cover
definitely one of first impression in our jurisdiction.
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
These petitions arose from cases involving prosecution of offenses under the drawee bank. 4
statute. The defendants in those cases moved seasonably to quash the
informations on the ground that the acts charged did not constitute an offense,
An essential element of the offense is "knowledge" on the part of the maker or
the statute being unconstitutional. The motions were denied by the respondent
trial courts, except in one case, which is the subject of G. R. No. 75789, drawer of the check of the insufficiency of his funds in or credit with the bank
wherein the trial court declared the law unconstitutional and dismissed the to cover the check upon its presentment. Since this involves a state of mind
difficult to establish, the statute itself creates a prima facie presumption of such
case. The parties adversely affected have come to us for relief.
knowledge where payment of the check "is refused by the drawee because of
insufficient funds in or credit with such bank when presented within ninety (90)
As a threshold issue the former Solicitor General in his comment on the days from the date of the check. 5 To mitigate the harshness of the law in its
petitions, maintained the posture that it was premature for the accused to application, the statute provides that such presumption shall not arise if within
elevate to this Court the orders denying their motions to quash, these orders five (5) banking days from receipt of the notice of dishonor, the maker or
being interlocutory. While this is correct as a general rule, we have in justifiable drawer makes arrangements for payment of the check by the bank or pays the
cases intervened to review the lower court's denial of a motion to quash. 1 In holder the amount of the check.
view of the importance of the issue involved here, there is no doubt in our mind
that the instant petitions should be entertained and the constitutional challenge
to BP 22 resolved promptly, one way or the other, in order to put to rest the Another provision of the statute, also in the nature of a rule of evidence,
provides that the introduction in evidence of the unpaid and dishonored check
doubts and uncertainty that exist in legal and judicial circles and the general
with the drawee bank's refusal to pay "stamped or written thereon or attached
public which have unnecessarily caused a delay in the disposition of cases
thereto, giving the reason therefor, "shall constitute prima facie proof of "the
involving the enforcement of the statute.
making or issuance of said check, and the due presentment to the drawee for
payment and the dishonor thereof ... for the reason written, stamped or
For the purpose of resolving the constitutional issue presented here, we do not attached by the drawee on such dishonored check." 6
find it necessary to delve into the specifics of the informations involved in the
cases which are the subject of the petitions before us. 2 The language of BP
The presumptions being merely prima facie, it is open to the accused of course
22 is broad enough to cover all kinds of checks, whether present dated or
to present proof to the contrary to overcome the said presumptions.
postdated, or whether issued in payment of pre-existing obligations or given in
mutual or simultaneous exchange for something of value.
II

2
BP 22 is aimed at putting a stop to or curbing the practice of issuing checks (a) By using fictitious name, or falsely pretending to possess
that are worthless, i.e. checks that end up being rejected or dishonored for power, influence, qualifications, property, credit, agency,
payment. The practice, as discussed later, is proscribed by the state because business or imaginary transactions, or by means of other
of the injury it causes to t public interests. similar deceits;

Before the enactment of BP 22, provisions already existed in our statute books xxx xxx xxx
which penalize the issuance of bouncing or rubber checks. Criminal law has
dealt with the problem within the context of crimes against property punished (d) By postdating a check, or issuing a check in payment of an
as "estafa" or crimes involving fraud and deceit. The focus of these penal obligation the offender knowing that at the time he had no
provisions is on the damage caused to the property rights of the victim. funds in the bank, or the funds deposited by him were not
sufficient to cover the amount of the cheek without informing
The Penal Code of Spain, which was in force in the Philippines from 1887 until the payee of such circumstances.
it was replaced by the Revised Penal Code in 1932, contained provisions
penalizing, among others, the act of defrauding another through false The scope of paragraph 2 (d), however, was deemed to exclude checks issued
pretenses. Art. 335 punished a person who defrauded another "by falsely in payment of pre-existing obligations. 10 The rationale of this interpretation is
pretending to possess any power, influence, qualification, property, credit, that in estafa, the deceit causing the defraudation must be prior to or
agency or business, or by means of similar deceit." Although no explicit simultaneous with the commission of the fraud. In issuing a check as payment
mention was made therein regarding checks, this provision was deemed to for a pre-existing debt, the drawer does not derive any material benefit in return
cover within its ambit the issuance of worthless or bogus checks in exchange or as consideration for its issuance. On the part of the payee, he had already
for money. 7 parted with his money or property before the check is issued to him hence, he
is not defrauded by means of any "prior" or "simultaneous" deceit perpetrated
In 1926, an amendment was introduced by the Philippine Legislature, which on him by the drawer of the check.
added a new clause (paragraph 10) to Article 335 of the old Penal Code, this
time referring in explicit terms to the issuance of worthless checks. The With the intention of remedying the situation and solving the problem of how
amendment penalized any person who 1) issues a check in payment of a debt to bring checks issued in payment of pre-existing debts within the ambit of Art.
or for other valuable consideration, knowing at the time of its issuance that he 315, an amendment was introduced by the Congress of the Philippines in
does not have sufficient funds in the bank to cover its amount, or 2) maliciously 1967, 11 which was enacted into law as Republic Act No. 4885, revising the
signs the check differently from his authentic signature as registered at the aforesaid proviso to read as follows:
bank in order that the latter would refuse to honor it; or 3) issues a postdated
check and, at the date set for its payment, does not have sufficient deposit to
(d) By postdating a check, or issuing a check in payment of an
cover the same. 8
obligation when the offender had no funds in the bank, or his funds
deposited therein were not sufficient to cover the amount of the check.
In 1932, as already adverted to, the old Penal Code was superseded by the The failure of the drawer of the check to deposit the amount necessary
Revised Penal Code. 9 The above provisions, in amended form, were to cover his check within three (3) days from receipt of notice from the
incorporated in Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code defining the crime of bank and/or the payee or holder that said check has been dishonored
estafa. The revised text of the provision read as follows: for lack or insufficiency of funds shall be puma facie evidence of deceit
constituting false pretense or fraudulent act.
Art. 315. Swindling (estafa).Any person who shall defraud another
by any of the means mentioned hereinbelow shall be punished by: However, the adoption of the amendment did not alter the situation materially.
A divided Court held in People vs. Sabio, Jr. 12 that Article 315, as amended
xxx xxx xxx by Republic Act 4885, does not cover checks issued in payment of pre-existing
obligations, again relying on the concept underlying the crime of estafa through
2. By means of any of the following false pretenses or fraudulent acts false pretenses or deceitwhich is, that the deceit or false pretense must be
executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud: prior to or simultaneous with the commission of the fraud.

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Since statistically it had been shown that the greater bulk of dishonored checks to the inhibition in the Bill of Rights which states, "No person shall be
consisted of those issued in payment of pre-existing debts, 13 the amended imprisoned for debt or non-payment of a poll tax." 16 Petitioners insist that,
provision evidently failed to cope with the real problem and to deal effectively since the offense under BP 22 is consummated only upon the dishonor or non-
with the evil that it was intended to eliminate or minimize. 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
With the foregoing factual and legal antecedents as a backdrop, the then non-payment of the check, not the act of issuing it. The statute, it is claimed,
Interim Batasan confronted the problem squarely. It opted to take a bold step is nothing more than a veiled device to coerce payment of a debt under the
and decided to enact a law dealing with the problem of bouncing or worthless threat of penal sanction.
checks, without attaching the law's umbilical cord to the existing penal
provisions on estafa. BP 22 addresses the problem directly and frontally and First of all it is essential to grasp the essence and scope of the constitutional
makes the act of issuing a worthless check malum prohibitum. 14 inhibition invoked by petitioners. Viewed in its historical context, the
constitutional prohibition against imprisonment for debt is a safeguard that
The question now arises: Is B P 22 a valid law? evolved gradually during the early part of the nineteenth century in the various
states of the American Union as a result of the people's revulsion at the cruel
and inhumane practice, sanctioned by common law, which permitted creditors
Previous efforts to deal with the problem of bouncing checks within the ambit
to cause the incarceration of debtors who could not pay their debts. At common
of the law on estafa did not evoke any constitutional challenge. In contrast, BP
law, money judgments arising from actions for the recovery of a debt or for
22 was challenged promptly.
damages from breach of a contract could be enforced against the person or
body of the debtor by writ of capias ad satisfaciendum. By means of this writ,
Those who question the constitutionality of BP 22 insist that: (1) it offends the a debtor could be seized and imprisoned at the instance of the creditor until he
constitutional provision forbidding imprisonment for debt; (2) it impairs freedom makes the satisfaction awarded. As a consequence of the popular ground
of contract; (3) it contravenes the equal protection clause; (4) it unduly swell against such a barbarous practice, provisions forbidding imprisonment
delegates legislative and executive powers; and (5) its enactment is flawed in for debt came to be generally enshrined in the constitutions of various states
that during its passage the Interim Batasan violated the constitutional provision of the Union. 17
prohibiting amendments to a bill on Third Reading.
This humanitarian provision was transported to our shores by the Americans
The constitutional challenge to BP 22 posed by petitioners deserves a at the turn of t0he century and embodied in our organic laws. 18 Later, our
searching and thorough scrutiny and the most deliberate consideration by the fundamental law outlawed not only imprisonment for debt, but also the
Court, involving as it does the exercise of what has been described as "the infamous practice, native to our shore, of throwing people in jail for non-
highest and most delicate function which belongs to the judicial department of payment of the cedula or poll tax. 19
the government." 15
The reach and scope of this constitutional safeguard have been the subject of
As we enter upon the task of passing on the validity of an act of a co-equal judicial definition, both by our Supreme Court 20 and by American State
and coordinate branch of the government, we need not be reminded of the courts. 21 Mr. Justice Malcolm speaking for the Supreme Court in Ganaway vs.
time-honored principle, deeply ingrained in our jurisprudence, that a statute is Queen, 22 stated: "The 'debt' intended to be covered by the constitutional
presumed to be valid. Every presumption must be indulged in favor of its guaranty has a well-defined meaning. Organic provisions relieving from
constitutionality. This is not to say that we approach our task with diffidence or imprisonment for debt, were intended to prevent commitment of debtors to
timidity. Where it is clear that the legislature has overstepped the limits of its prison for liabilities arising from actions ex contractu The inhibition was never
authority under the constitution we should not hesitate to wield the axe and let meant to include damages arising in actions ex delicto, for the reason that
it fall heavily, as fall it must, on the offending statute. damages recoverable therein do not arise from any contract entered into
between the parties but are imposed upon the defendant for the wrong he has
III done and are considered as punishment, nor to fines and penalties imposed
by the courts in criminal proceedings as punishments for crime."
Among the constitutional objections raised against BP 22, the most serious is
the alleged conflict between the statute and the constitutional provision The law involved in Ganaway was not a criminal statute but the Code of
forbidding imprisonment for debt. It is contended that the statute runs counter Procedure in Civil Actions (1909) which authorized the arrest of the defendant

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in a civil case on grounds akin to those which justify the issuance of a writ of It may be constitutionally impermissible for the legislature to penalize a person
attachment under our present Rules of Court, such as imminent departure of for non-payment of a debt ex contractu But certainly it is within the prerogative
the defendant from the Philippines with intent to defraud his creditors, or of the lawmaking body to proscribe certain acts deemed pernicious and
concealment, removal or disposition of properties in fraud of creditors, etc. The inimical to public welfare. Acts mala in se are not the only acts which the law
Court, in that case, declared the detention of the defendant unlawful, being can punish. An act may not be considered by society as inherently wrong,
violative of the constitutional inhibition against imprisonment for debt, and hence, not malum in se but because of the harm that it inflicts on the
ordered his release. The Court, however, refrained from declaring the statutory community, it can be outlawed and criminally punished as malum prohibitum.
provision in question unconstitutional. The state can do this in the exercise of its police power.

Closer to the case at bar is People v. Vera Reyes, 23 wherein a statutory The police power of the state has been described as "the most essential,
provision which made illegal and punishable the refusal of an employer to pay, insistent and illimitable of powers" which enables it to prohibit all things hurtful
when he can do so, the salaries of his employees or laborers on the fifteenth to the comfort, safety and welfare of society. 24 It is a power not emanating
or last day of every month or on Saturday every week, was challenged for from or conferred by the constitution, but inherent in the state, plenary,
being violative of the constitutional prohibition against imprisonment for debt. "suitably vague and far from precisely defined, rooted in the conception that
The constitutionality of the law in question was upheld by the Court, it being man in organizing the state and imposing upon the government limitations to
within the authority of the legislature to enact such a law in the exercise of the safeguard constitutional rights did not intend thereby to enable individual
police power. It was held that "one of the purposes of the law is to suppress citizens or group of citizens to obstruct unreasonably the enactment of such
possible abuses on the part of the employers who hire laborers or employees salutary measures to ensure communal peace, safety, good order and
without paying them the salaries agreed upon for their services, thus causing welfare." 25
them financial difficulties. "The law was viewed not as a measure to coerce
payment of an obligation, although obviously such could be its effect, but to The enactment of BP 22 is a declaration by the legislature that, as a matter of
banish a practice considered harmful to public welfare. public policy, the making and issuance of a worthless check is deemed public
nuisance to be abated by the imposition of penal sanctions.
IV
It is not for us to question the wisdom or impolicy of the statute. It is sufficient
Has BP 22 transgressed the constitutional inhibition against imprisonment for that a reasonable nexus exists between means and end. Considering the
debt? To answer the question, it is necessary to examine what the statute factual and legal antecedents that led to the adoption of the statute, it is not
prohibits and punishes as an offense. Is it the failure of the maker of the check difficult to understand the public concern which prompted its enactment. It had
to pay a debt? Or is it the making and issuance of a worthless check in been reported that the approximate value of bouncing checks per day was
payment of a debt? What is the gravamen of the offense? This question lies at close to 200 million pesos, and thereafter when overdrafts were banned by the
the heart of the issue before us. Central Bank, it averaged between 50 minion to 80 million pesos a day. 26

The gravamen of the offense punished by BP 22 is the act of making and By definition, a check is a bill of exchange drawn on a bank and payable on
issuing a worthless check or a check that is dishonored upon its presentation demand. 27 It is a written order on a bank, purporting to be drawn against a
for payment. It is not the non-payment of an obligation which the law punishes. deposit of funds for the payment of all events, of a sum of money to a certain
The law is not intended or designed to coerce a debtor to pay his debt. The person therein named or to his order or to cash and payable on
thrust of the law is to prohibit, under pain of penal sanctions, the making of demand. 28 Unlike a promissory note, a check is not a mere undertaking to pay
worthless checks and putting them in circulation. Because of its deleterious an amount of money. It is an order addressed to a bank and partakes of a
effects on the public interest, the practice is proscribed by the law. The law representation that the drawer has funds on deposit against which the check
punishes the act not as an offense against property, but an offense against is drawn, sufficient to ensure payment upon its presentation to the bank. There
public order. is therefore an element of certainty or assurance that the instrument wig be
paid upon presentation. For this reason, checks have become widely accepted
Admittedly, the distinction may seem at first blush to appear elusive and as a medium of payment in trade and commerce. Although not legal tender,
difficult to conceptualize. But precisely in the failure to perceive the vital checks have come to be perceived as convenient substitutes for currency in
distinction lies the error of those who challenge the validity of BP 22. commercial and financial transactions. The basis or foundation of such
perception is confidence. If such confidence is shakes the usefulness of

5
checks as currency substitutes would be greatly diminished or may become the old saying that what is sauce for the goose may not be sauce for the
nit Any practice therefore tending to destroy that confidence should be gander.
deterred for the proliferation of worthless checks can only create havoc in trade
circles and the banking community. As stated elsewhere, police power is a dynamic force that enables the state to
meet the exigencies of changing times. There are occasions when the police
Recent statistics of the Central Bank show that one-third of the entire money power of the state may even override a constitutional guaranty. For example,
supply of the country, roughly totalling P32.3 billion, consists of peso demand there have been cases wherein we held that the constitutional provision on
deposits; the remaining two. 29 These de deposit thirds consists of currency in non-impairment of contracts must yield to the police power of the
circulation. ma deposits in the banks constitute the funds against which among state. 32 Whether the police power may override the constitutional inhibition
others, commercial papers like checks, are drawn. The magnitude of the against imprisonment for debt is an issue we do not have to address. This
amount involved amply justifies the legitimate concern of the state in bridge has not been reached, so there is no occasion to cross it.
preserving the integrity of the banking system. Flooding the system with
worthless checks is like pouring garbage into the bloodstream of the nation's We hold that BP 22 does not conflict with the constitutional inhibition against
economy. imprisonment for debt.

The effects of the issuance of a worthless check transcends the private V


interests of the parties directly involved in the transaction and touches the
interests of the community at large. The mischief it creates is not only a wrong We need not detain ourselves lengthily in the examination of the other
to the payee or holder, but also an injury to the public. The harmful practice of constitutional objections raised by petitioners, some of which are rather flimsy.
putting valueless commercial papers in circulation, multiplied a thousand fold,
can very wen pollute the channels of trade and commerce, injure the banking
system and eventually hurt the welfare of society and the public interest. As We find no valid ground to sustain the contention that BP 22 impairs freedom
aptly stated 30 of contract. The freedom of contract which is constitutionally protected is
freedom to enter into "lawful" contracts. Contracts which contravene public
policy are not lawful. 33 Besides, we must bear in mind that checks can not be
The 'check flasher' does a great deal more than contract a debt; he
categorized as mere contracts. It is a commercial instrument which, in this
shakes the pillars of business; and to my mind, it is a mistaken charity
modem day and age, has become a convenient substitute for money; it forms
of judgment to place him in the same category with the honest man
part of the banking system and therefore not entirely free from the regulatory
who is unable to pay his debts, and for whom the constitutional power of the state.
inhibition against' imprisonment for debt, except in cases of fraud was
intended as a shield and not a sword.
Neither do we find substance in the claim that the statute in question denies
equal protection of the laws or is discriminatory, since it penalizes the drawer
In sum, we find the enactment of BP 22 a valid exercise of the police power
of the check, but not the payee. It is contended that the payee is just as
and is not repugnant to the constitutional inhibition against imprisonment for responsible for the crime as the drawer of the check, since without the
debt. indispensable participation of the payee by his acceptance of the check there
would be no crime. This argument is tantamount to saying that, to give equal
This Court is not unaware of the conflicting jurisprudence obtaining in the protection, the law should punish both the swindler and the swindled. The
various states of the United States on the constitutionality of the "worthless petitioners' posture ignores the well-accepted meaning of the clause "equal
check" acts. 31 It is needless to warn that foreign jurisprudence must be taken protection of the laws." The clause does not preclude classification of
with abundant caution. A caveat to be observed is that substantial differences individuals, who may be accorded different treatment under the law as long as
exist between our statute and the worthless check acts of those states where the classification is no unreasonable or arbitrary. 34
the jurisprudence have evolved. One thing to remember is that BP 22 was not
lifted bodily from any existing statute. Furthermore, we have to consider that
It is also suggested that BP 22 constitutes undue or improper delegation of
judicial decisions must be read in the context of the facts and the law involved
legislative powers, on the theory that the offense is not completed by the sole
and, in a broader sense, of the social economic and political environmentin act of the maker or drawer but is made to depend on the will of the payee. If
short, the milieuunder which they were made. We recognize the wisdom of the payee does not present the check to the bank for payment but instead

6
keeps it, there would be no crime. The logic of the argument stretches to order issued in G.R. Nos. 74524-25 is lifted. With costs against private
absurdity the meaning of "delegation of legislative power." What cannot be petitioners.
delegated is the power to legislate, or the power to make laws. 35 which means,
as applied to the present case, the power to define the offense sought to be SO ORDERED.
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. The suggestion that the statute
unlawfully delegates its enforcement to the offended party is farfetched.

Lastly, the objection has been raised 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.

A careful review of the record of the proceedings of the Interim Batasan on this
matter shows that, indeed, there was some confusion among Batasan
Members on what was the exact text of the paragraph in question which the
body approved on Second Reading. 36 Part of the confusion was due
apparently to the fact that during the deliberations on Second Reading (the
amendment period), amendments were proposed orally and approved by the
body or accepted by the sponsor, hence, some members might not have
gotten the complete text of the provisions of the bill as amended and approved
on Second 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 on February 7, 1979, as reflected
in the approved Minutes for that day. In any event, before the bin was
submitted for final approval on Third Reading, the Interim Batasan created a
Special Committee to investigate the matter, and the Committee in its report,
which was approved by the entire body on March 22, 1979, stated that "the
clause in question was ... an authorized amendment of the bill and the printed
copy thereof reflects accurately the provision in question as approved on
Second Reading. 37 We therefore, find no merit in the petitioners' claim that in
the enactment of BP 22 the provisions of Section 9 (2) of Article VIII of the
1973 Constitution were violated.

WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered granting the petition in G.R. No. 75789


and setting aside the order of the respondent Judge dated August 19, 1986.
The petitions in G.R. Nos. 63419, 66839-42, 71654, 74524-25, 75122-49,
75812-13 and 75765-67 are hereby dismissed and the temporary restraining

7
A.M. No. MTJ-93-849 October 26, 1994 such act constitutes malum prohibitum, the factual
circumstances of these four (4) cases cast serious doubts on
CARAM RESOURCES CORP. and RAYMUND B. TEJADA, complainants, the applicability of the doctrine in the Miller case. In fact, its
vs. application to these cases would violate the cardinal rule
JUDGE MAXIMO C. CONTRERAS, MeTC, Branch 61, Makati, Metro under our Constitution that no person shall be imprisoned for
Manila, respondent. failure to pay his debt. Consider the following facts duly
established.
DAVIDE, JR., J.:
1. Accused Teresita J. Dizon is a borrower of
the private complainant Caram Resources
In a verified complaint filed on 2 June 1993 by Caram Resources Corporation
(hereinafter CARAM) and Raymund B. Tejada, respondent Judge Maximo C. Corporation which is a corporation engaged,
among others, in the lending business;
Contreras, Presiding Judge of Branch 61 of the Metropolitan Trial Court
(MeTC) of Makati, was charged with gross ignorance of the law and gross
misconduct allegedly committed in relation to Criminal Case 2. The accused applied for a loan of
Nos. 142359-142362, which involved the violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22, P10,000.00 payable within one year (Exhibit
also known as the Bouncing Checks Law. "B") and she was required to execute a
promissory note with two (2) co-makers for
The complainants allege that on 4 February 1991, the accused in the aforesaid P15,548.00 payable within one year at
cases, Teresita J. Dizon, applied for and obtained a personal loan from P1,259.00 a month starting April 4, 1991;
CARAM payable in installments. She issued a promissory note and postdated
Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) checks for the installments due and 3. Under the promissory note, the monthly
payable on specified dates. Four of these checks, dated 31 July 1991, installments of P1,259.00 for twelve months
31 August 1991, 30 September 1991, and 31 October 1991, each for obviously included already interests and
P1,259.00, were dishonored when presented to the bank because the account charges to the principal otherwise there
against which they were drawn had been closed. would be no reason or explanation why a loan
of P10,000.00 would become more than
P15,000.00 upon the execution of the
CARAM then charged Dizon with the violation of B.P. Blg. 22 and in due course
the aforesaid criminal cases were filed against her. After joint trial, the MeTC, promissory note;
per the respondent Judge, handed down a decision 1 acquitting Dizon on the
ground of reasonable doubt. The court made the following ratiocinations in 4. Before the approval of this loan, the
support of its judgment, which are quoted in full due to their importance to the accused was required as a condition
resolution of this complaint: precedent to open a checking account and to
issue at one time in favor of the financing
These cases are classic examples of the principal reason why company all the twelve postdated checks at a
face value of P1,259.00 each to correspond
there is at present a proliferation of criminal cases for violation
to the twelve months installments under the
of BP 22. It appears that lending and financing institutions are
promissory note;
now imposing as a condition precedent to the approval and
grant of loan applications the issuance of postdated checks
by their borrowers to cover the installment payments due on 5. The accused opened the account with the
the loans. While the issue of whether or not BP 22 covers BPI Family Bank but because the account
checks dishonored by reason of "Account Closed" or "Without was made without any deposit, the same was
Funds" had been resolved in the case of Miller vs. CA, et al. closed by the bank also in the same month it
189 SCRA XI and that what the law sought to penalize is the was opened and before the due date of the
mere issuance of rubber checks irrespective of the nature of first postdated check;
the obligation to be paid by them and that

8
6. When the first postdated check bounced postdated checks notwithstanding the
for the reason "Account Closed," the accused payments in replacement thereof already
verbally informed the financing company that made by the accused.
her account was already closed and
consequently, all the twelve postdated It had been held that the gravamen of the offense under BP
checks she had issued would certainly 22 is the act of making and issuing a worthless check or a
bounced [sic] upon presentment; check which is dishonored upon its presentation for payment.
But the question is, what if the issuance of the worthless
7. The first four (4) postdated checks having checks were without consideration and made with the
been dishonored for reason of "Account consent, encouragement and instigation of the payee who
Closed," she replaced them with cash kept the worthless postdated checks for its own private
(Exhibits "1", "2", "3" and "4"); reason? The court finds that the twelve postdated checks
were issued by the accused without any consideration. These
8. When she failed to settle the face value of checks were issued at one time and were merely used as
the succeeding four (4) postdated checks guarantees to insure the monthly collection of the loan granted
namely: BPI Check No. 55155 dated July 31, to the accused under the promissory note, Exhibit "B". As a
1991, Check No. 55156 dated August 31, matter of fact, this court believes that the issuance of the
1991, Check No. 55157 dated September 30, postdated checks did not affect public interest since the
1991 and Check No. 55158 dated October unfunded postdated checks were merely kept on file by the
31, 1991 (Exhibits "A", "A-1", "B", "B-1", "C", payee to be used as a Damocles sword over the head of the
"C-1", "D", and "D-1") which were dishonored borrower to insure compliance and collection of the monthly
for the same reason of 'Account Closed', the installments. Under these circumstances, has the accused
instant criminal charges for violation of BP 22 committed an offensemalum prohibitum? If so, what about the
were instituted; payee who encouraged, instigated and promoted the act
constituting the gravamen of the offenses? In the case
of Magno vs. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. 96132, June 26,
9. During the pendency of these cases the
1992 it was held therein, among others:
accused paid P5,000.00 in replacement of
the four postdated checks subject matter of
the present charges against her; but the This maneuvering has serious implications
private complainant Caram Resources especially with respect to the threat of the
Corporation contends that this payment was penal sanction of the law in issue, as in this
credited only to interests and insufficient to case. And, with a willing court system to apply
settle her account under her promissory note; the full harshness of the special law in
question, using the "mala prohibita" doctrine,
10. The record is bereft of any showing that the noble objective of the law is tainted with
the accused was advised orally or in writing materialism and opportunism in the highest
degree.
by the Caram Resources Corporation that her
payment of P5,000.00 (Exhibit "5") was only
to settle the interests and insufficient to cover "For all intends and purposes, the law was
the face value of the four (4) checks in devised to safeguard the interests of the
question; banking system and the legitimate public
checking account user. It did not intend to
shelter or favor nor encourage users of the
11. That only the first postdated check was
system to enrich themselves through
returned to the accused by the private
manipulations and circumvention of the noble
complainant which retained the other
purpose and objective of the law. Least,

9
should it be used also as a means of purpose. It has encouraged their borrowers to commit
jeopardizing honest-to-goodness unwittingly criminal offenses in their urgent financial need. The
transactions with some color of "get-rich" financial company had taken undue advantage of BP 22 to the
scheme to the prejudice of well-meaning extent that they had assumed an arbitrary power and authority
businessmen who are the pillars of society." to apply whatever payments their borrowers had made to
interests, charges, penalties, etc. other than the principal
". . . In the instant case, there is no doubt that loans of their borrowers. As a result, accounting problems
petitioner's four (4) checks were used to arise between lender and borrower. This is one of the reasons
collaterized an accommodation, and not to the accused refused to make further payment on her four
cover the receipt of an actual "account or postdated checks in question claiming excessive collection on
credit for value" as this was absent, and the part of the financing company. Borrowers, like the
therefore petitioner should not be punished accused, who had complied with the issuance of postdated
for mere issuance of the checks in question. checks are absolutely helpless to question the application of
Following the aforecited theory (that criminal their payments. Either they conform or face criminal charges
law is founded upon . . . moral disapprobation for violation of
. . . of action which are immoral, i.e., which BP 22. However, this court refuses to become a tool to this
are detrimental (or dangerous) to those highly anomalous practice of financing companies to coerce
conditions upon which depend the existence their borrowers to pay according to their demands under pain
and progress of human society. . . . that of imprisonment if they resist. This court entertains serious
morality is generally founded and built upon a doubts that the accused had committed a criminal offense
certain concurrence in the moral opinions of penalized under BP 22.
all . . . ). In petitioner's stead the "potential
wrongdoer," whose operation could be a The dispositive portion of the decision reads as follows:
menace to society, should not be glorified by
convicting the petitioner." WHEREFORE, on ground of reasonable doubt, the court
hereby acquits Teresita J. Dizon in these four (4) criminal
As heretofore stated, the postdated checks issued by the cases without prejudice on the part of the private complainant
accused were without any consideration but merely employed to institute the proper civil action regarding the civil liability of
as coercive guarantees that the monthly installments due the said accused. The cash bond posted for the provisional
under the promissory note would be complied with by the liberty of said accused is accordingly cancelled. Without cost.
borrower. The payee Caram Resources Corporation thru its
credit and collection officer is aware of the unfunded account SO ORDERED.
by the accused even before the first postdated check fell due.
When they approved the loan of the accused after the
The complainants argue that in view of the respondent's findings that Dizon
execution of the promissory note and the issuance of the had obtained a loan payable in one year, that as security therefor she had
twelve postdated checks, Caram Resources Corporation executed a promissory note, and that her payment of P5,000.00 was in
never took any step to verify whether or not the account
replacement of the subject four dishonored checks, then there was no basis at
opened by the accused was funded. In fact, this court is
all for the respondent's conclusion that "the postdated checks issued by the
inclined to believe that the financing company Caram
accused were without any consideration but merely employed as coercive
Resources Corporation was not interested on whether or not
guarantees." They further assail the respondent's declaration that "the factual
the postdated checks issued by their borrowers were funded circumstances of [the] four (4) cases cast serious doubts on the applicability
or not. It merely kept the checks on file to be brought out only of the doctrine in the Miller case," 2 and that its application to these cases
on its respective due dates to coerce payment under pain of
would even "violate the cardinal rule under the Constitution that no person shall
criminal charges in case of failure of the borrower to replace
be imprisoned for failure to pay his debt." According to the complainants, it has
them with cash. It is quite obvious that this law BP 22 has been
long been settled that B.P. Blg. 22 is constitutional; accordingly, if its
used by Caram Resources Corporation contrary to its constitutionality is still doubtful to the respondent then he has failed to keep

10
abreast with the rulings of this Court, thus showing his incompetence and is not biased when he held that the four criminal cases against the accused
gross ignorance of law. are the principal reasons for the proliferation of criminal cases for the violation
of B.P. Blg. 22, for he took judicial notice of the fact that for the period from
As further proof of such incompetence and ignorance of law, the complainants January to September 1993, the MeTC of Makati received 662 criminal cases
cite the following portions from the respondent's decision wherein he indulged for violation of B.P. Blg. 22.
in baseless and general conclusions: (a) "before the approval of her loan the
accused was required as a condition precedent to open a checking account"; The respondent does not question the constitutionality of B.P. Blg. 22; in fact,
(b) "the accused opened the account with the BPI Family Bank but because he states, it is "a sound and good law." What he detests is the manner
the account was made without any deposit, the same was closed by the bank employed by CARAM which took undue advantage of the law contrary to its
also in the same month it was opened but before the due date of the first intention to protect the public interest.
postdated check"; (c) there was no showing that "the accused was advised
orally in writing by the Caram Resources Corporation that the payment of As to his assailed conclusion that the accused was asked to open a checking
P5,000.00 (Exhibit "5") was only to settle the interests and insufficient to cover account, he asserts that this was due to the "vagueness of the testimonial
the face value of the four (4) checks in question"; (d) "the issuance of the evidence." And refuting the complainants' assertion that the payment by Dizon
postdated checks did not affect public interest since the unfunded postdated of P5,000.00 during the pendency of the cases was an admission of guilt, he
checks were merely kept on file by the payee to be used as a Damocles sword asseverates that since the loan was covered by a promissory note, and the
over the head of the borrower to insure compliance and collection of the postdated checks were issued without consideration, the partial settlement of
monthly installments"; (e) "the Caram Resources Corporation never took any the obligation was not an admission of guilt.
step to verify whether or not the account opened by the accused was funded";
and (f) "the court was even inclined to believe that the financing company Further, the respondent contends that while the facts in Magno vs. Court of
Caram Resources Corporation was not interested on whether or not the Appeals 3 are different, the doctrine it laid down "is relevant and applicable to
postdated checks issued by their borrower were funded or not."
the cases in question."

The complainants assert that there is no evidence that CARAM required Dizon By way of special defense, the respondent expresses his suspicion that this
to open a checking account with the BPI. No bank would allow the opening of
administrative complaint "was filed by Caram Resources Corporation and its
a checking account without any deposit. They aver that the payment of
credit manager obviously to harass, if not to control, the undersigned and the
P5,000.00 was made during the pendency of the cases in his sala and any
other judges of this court who are handling several criminal cases being filed
compromise or payment for settlement is tantamount to an admission of guilt.
by complainant Caram Resources for violation of the bouncing checks against
The subject checks were never kept on file and were never used as a their delinquent borrowers"; and that nothing supports the claim of Tejada that
damocles sword because the demand letter was in fact sent to the accused he was or is the duly authorized representative of CARAM to institute the four
requiring her to make good her dishonored checks and despite her receipt of
criminal cases and this complaint.
the letter, she did not avail of the 5-day period granted her by B.P. Blg. 22 to
make good the checks, and it was not the duty of CARAM to verify whether or
not Dizon opened the account or funded it as such inquiry is even prohibited On 17 January 1994, the complainants filed their Reply to the Comment.
under R.A. No. 1405, the Secrecy of Bank Deposits Law.
In the Resolution of 31 January 1994, the parties were required to inform this
In his Comment, the respondent defends his decision by contending that the Court if they would submit this case for decision on the basis of the pleadings
postdated checks in question were issued without consideration "for the already filed. In their respective manifestations filed on 18 February 1994 and
reason that the loan was covered by the promissory note which also served as 4 March 1994, the parties informed the Court that they were submitting this
the receipt of consideration"; hence, the "promissory note is a complete and case for decision on the basis of the pleadings already filed.
perfected contract" and since "it constitutes the law between the parties,"
nothing else outside it "may bind the borrower." Accordingly, "to require Dizon It has long been settled that B.P. Blg. 22 is not unconstitutional or, more
to issue the postdated checks to cover the installment payments under the specifically, that it does not transgress the constitutional inhibition against
promissory note was highly anomalous, superfluous and unnecessary," and imprisonment for non-payment of debt.
the only reason for requiring the issuance thereof was "to coerce Dizon to pay
the amount the Caram Resources was demanding." He further avers that he

11
In the Decision of 18 December 1986 in Lozano vs. Martinez and seven other The enactment of BP 22 is a declaration by the legislature
companion cases, 4 this Court explicitly ruled: that, as a matter of public policy, the making and issuance of
a worthless check
The gravamen of the offense punished by BP 22 is the act of is deemed a public nuisance to be abated by the imposition of
making and issuing a worthless check or a check that is penal sanctions. 5
dishonored upon its presentation for payment. It is not the
non-payment of an obligation which the law punishes. The law This Court further stated that the clear intent of the legislature was to make the
is not intended or designed to coerce a debtor to pay his debt. offense malum prohibitum. 6Malice and intent in issuing a worthless check are
The thrust of the law is to prohibit, under pain of penal thus immaterial. 7 It is committed by the very fact of its performance, 8i.e., the
sanctions, the making of worthless checks and putting them mere act of issuing a worthless check. 9
in circulation. Because of its deleterious effects on the public
interest, the practice is proscribed by the law. The law In the four criminal cases before him, the prosecution proved and the accused
punishes the act not as an offense against property, but an Dizon admitted that a loan was granted to her and in connection therewith she
offense against public order. executed a promissory note wherein she bound herself to pay the loan in
twelve installments. She then issued postdated checks to cover the
Admittedly, the distinction may seem at first blush to appear installments as they fall due. The checks were drawn against her current
elusive and difficult to conceptualize. But precisely in the account with the BPI. She closed her account in the same month when she
failure to perceive the vital distinction lies the error of those obtained the loan so that when the four checks were presented for payment
who challenge the validity of BP 22. they were dishonored. The respondent even found that:

It may be constitutionally impermissible for the legislature to On cross-examination, she testified that . . . she issued the
penalize a person for non-payment of a debt ex contractu. But four checks in question in payment of this promissory note;
certainly it is within the prerogative of the lawmaking body to that she closed her checking account also in February
proscribe certain acts deemed pernicious and inimical to because the bookkeeper of the bank to whom she entrusted
public welfare. Acts mala in se are not the only acts which the the money failed to deposit it on the same date. 10
law can punish. An act may not be considered by society as
inherently wrong, hence, not malum in se, but because of the Clearly, the facts irretrievably brought the accused within the purview of
harm that it inflicts on the community, it can be outlawed and Section 1 of B.P. Blg. 22, and the respondent was bound by his oath to apply
criminally punished as malum prohibitum. The state can do the law. He was not at liberty to ignore it.
this in the exercise of its police power.
When the respondent stated in effect that to hold her liable thereunder "would
The police power of the state has been described as "the most violate the cardinal rule under the Constitution that no person shall be
essential, insistent and illimitable of powers" which enables it imprisoned for failure to pay his debt" and that the postdated checks were
to prohibit all things hurtful to the comfort, safety and welfare without consideration and were in the nature of "guarantees to ensure the
of society. It is a power not emanating from or conferred by monthly collection" despite Dizon's admission that they were payments for the
the constitution, but inherent in the state, plenary, "suitably loan and that she herself closed her account resulting in the dishonor of the
vague and far from precisely defined, rooted in the conception checks upon presentment, the respondent either exposed his ignorance of the
that man in organizing the state and imposing upon the law and the jurisprudence built thereon or simply ignored or disregarded the
government limitations to safeguard constitutional rights did above pronouncements of this Court and chose to make his own.
not intend thereby to enable individual citizens or group of
citizens to obstruct unreasonably the enactment of such
Canon 18 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics provides that:
salutary measures to ensure communal peace, safety, good
order and welfare."
A judge should be mindful that his duty is the application of
the general law to particular instances, that ours is a
government of laws and not of men, and that he violates his

12
duty as a minister of justice under such a system if he seeks As shown in his ratiocinations earlier quoted, the respondent could not hide
to do what he may personally consider substantial justice in a his bias against CARAM, whose business practice he loathes. The expression
particular case and disregards the general law as he knows it of his sentiments was uncalled for in the cases against Teresita Dizon and
to be binding on him. Such action may have detrimental prejudged CARAM's other transactions regardless of their legality and
consequences beyond the immediate controversy. He should morality. Such expression deviates from that norm of conduct which is
administer his office with a due regard to the integrity of the essential in the fair and impartial administration of justice.
system of law itself, remembering that he is not a depository
of arbitrary power, but a judge under the sanction of law. WHEREFORE, for ignorance of the law and misconduct, respondent JUDGE
MAXIMO C. CONTRERAS is hereby ordered to pay a fine of Ten Thousand
And considering that by tradition and in our system of judicial administration Pesos (P10,000.00) with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts
this Court has the last word on what the law is, and that its decisions applying will be dealt with more severely by this Court.
or interpreting the laws or the Constitution form part of the legal system of the
country, 11 all other courts should take their bearings from the decisions of this SO ORDERED.
Court, 12 ever mindful of what this Court said fifty-seven years ago in People
vs. Vera 13 that "[a] becoming modesty of inferior courts demands conscious
realization of the position that they occupy in the interrelation and operation of
the integrated judicial system of the nation."

In Vivo vs. Cloribel, 14 this Court stressed what it said in the 1958 case
of People vs. Santos 15 thus:

Now, if a Judge of a lower Court feels, in the fulfillment of his


mission of deciding cases, that the application of a doctrine
promulgated by this Superiority is against his way of
reasoning, or against his conscience, he may state his opinion
on the matter, but rather than disposing of the case in
accordance with his personal views he must first think that it
is his duty to apply the law as interpreted by the Highest Court
of the Land, and that any deviation from the principle laid
down by the latter would unavoidably cause, as a sequel,
unnecessary inconveniences, delays and expenses to the
litigants. And if despite of what is here said, a Judge, still
believes that he cannot follow Our rulings, than he has no
other alternative than to place himself in the position that he
could properly avoid the duty of having to render judgment on
the case concerned (Art. 9, C.C.), and he has only one legal
way to do that.

The case of Magno v. Court of Appeals 16 which the respondent cited is


inapplicable to the four cases before him. It was established in that case that
the postdated checks were not in fact drawn or issued "to apply on account or
for value" but to cover a warranty deposit which the accused therein did not
withdraw.

13
G.R. No. 148557 August 7, 2003 bank, if any, were not sufficient to cover its face value, such that when
the said check was presented to the drawee bank for payment, the
FELICITO ABARQUEZ, petitioner, same was dishonored for reason 'DRAWN AGAINST INSUFFICIENT
vs. FUNDS' and returned to the complainant and despite notice of
COURT OF APPEALS (Special Former Seventh Division) and the dishonor and to make good said check, accused failed and/or refused
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. to pay and/or make good the amount of said check despite the lapse
of more than five (5) banking days, to the damage and prejudice of the
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: herein complainant, Fertiphil CORPORATION, represented by NOEL
DE LA ROSA, Chief Accountant, in the aforesaid amount of
P58,500.00 and other consequential damages.
This is an appeal from the decision of the Court of Appeals 1 which affirmed
with modification the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Dagupan City,
Contrary to Batas Pambansa Bilang 22.
Branch 41,2 finding petitioner Felicito Abarquez guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of five (5) counts of violations of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 or the
Bouncing Checks Law. Except for the dates of commission, the check numbers, the dates and the
amounts of said checks, the following informations were similarly worded. In
Criminal Case No. D-8136,4 petitioner issued Check No. 2954047 on May 10,
There is no dispute that petitioner issued in favor of Fertiphil Corporation five
1986 postdated June 13, 1986 in the amount of P27,600.00. In Criminal Case
(5) checks drawn against Republic Planters Bank, Dagupan Branch. The
checks issued are as follows: No. D-8137,5 petitioner issued Check No. 2956662 on June 16, 1986
postdated July 1, 1986 in the amount of P52,200.00. In Criminal Case No. D-
8176,6 petitioner issued Check No. 2956665 on June 5, 1986 in the amount of
Check No. Date Amount P340,000.00 and, in Criminal Case No. D-8177,7 petitioner issued Check No.
2956654 June 5, 1986 P372,000.00 2956654 on June 5, 1986 in the amount of P372,000.00.
2956655 June 5, 1986 P340,000.00
After trial on the merits, the court a quo rendered its decision disposing as
2954047 June 13, 1986 P 27,600.00 follows:
2956660 June 27, 1986 P 58,500.00
2956662 July 1, 1986 P 52,200.00 WHEREFORE, the accused Felicito Abarquez is found guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 as
charged in Criminal Case Nos. D-8135, D-8136, D-8137, D-8176 and
Likewise, it is undisputed that the checks were dishonored for having been D-8177 and hereby imposes upon him for each case, the penalty of
drawn against insufficient funds. Fertiphil demanded that petitioner make good One (1) year imprisonment and to indemnify Fertiphil Corporation the
the checks but to no avail, prompting the former to file criminal complaints total amount of P844,500.00 and to pay the costs.
against him. Consequently, five informations for violation of BP Blg. 22 were
filed with the RTC of Dagupan City, Branch 41. The information in Criminal SO ORDERED.8
Case No. D-81353 reads:
Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals, which affirmed with modification
That on or about the 14th day of June, 1986, in the City of Dagupan,
the decision of the trial court, thus:
Philippines, and within the territorial jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused FELICITO ABARQUEZ, did then
and there willfully, unlawfully and criminally, draw, issue and deliver to IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the judgment appealed from is
FERTIPHIL CORPORATION, Makati, Metro Manila, a Republic AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. In line with Administrative Circular
Planters Bank check No. 2956660, Dagupan City Branch, postdated No. 12-2000 issued by the Supreme Court En Banc on November 12,
June 27, 1986, in the amount of FIFTY-EIGHT THOUSAND FIVE 2000, judgment is hereby rendered ordering appellant to pay a fine of
HUNDRED PESOS (P58,500.00) Philippine currency, in payment of ONE MILLION SEVEN HUNDRED THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED
several bags of fertilizer purchased from said corporation, although PESOS (P1,700,600.00) which is double the total amount of the five
the said accused knew fully well that his funds deposited in the said checks issued by appellant. The penalty of imprisonment is deleted.

14
SO ORDERED.9 the same was dishonored for having been drawn against uncollected deposits
and not against insufficiency of funds.
Not satisfied with the decision, petitioner is now before us and submits the
following issues: As to Check No. 2956655 issued in the amount of P340,000.00 and Check No.
2956654 for P372,000.00, the subject of Criminal Case Nos. D-8176 and D-
1. Whether the trial court and the Court of Appeals erred in convicting 8177 respectively, which were dishonored for insufficiency of funds, petitioner
petitioner in Criminal Case No. D-8137 though the check subject argues that he could not be made liable under the Bouncing Checks Law,
thereof was dishonored for being drawn against uncollected deposit considering that both checks were not issued for account or for value as they
(DAUD) and not for being drawn against insufficient funds (DAIF) or were merely intended to secure the payment of his debt to Fertiphil after
closed account (CA) which are the only punishable acts under BP 22; reconciliation of their books of account.

2. Whether the trial court and the Court of Appeals erred in convicting In Meriz v. People,11 it was held that the essential elements of the offense
petitioner in Criminal Case Nos. D-8135 and D-8136 despite the penalized under BP Blg. 22 are:
unrebutted evidence showing payment thereof after the dishonor by
the drawee bank; 1. The making, drawing and issuance of any check to apply to account
or for value;
3. Whether the trial court and the Court of Appeals erred in convicting
the accused in Criminal Case Nos. D-8176 and D-8177; and 2. The knowledge of the maker, drawer or issuer that at the time of
issue he does not have sufficient funds or credit with the drawee bank
4. Whether the Court of Appeals erred in imposing the penalty of fine for the payment of such check in full upon its presentment; and
in the amount of One Million Seven Hundred Thousand Six Hundred
pesos (P1,700,600.00) which is double the total amount of the five 3. Subsequent dishonor of the check by the drawee bank for
checks despite the express provision of BP 22 that the fine imposed insufficiency of funds or credit or dishonor for the same reason had
shall in no case exceed Two Hundred Thousand pesos (Sec. 1, BP not the drawer, without any valid cause, ordered the bank to stop
22).10 payment.

Petitioner admits having issued the subject checks but insists that he is not Both the spirit and letter of the Bouncing Checks Law require, for the
liable under BP Blg. 22. Thus, in Criminal Case No. D-8135, Abarquez alleges act to be punished under said law, not only that the accused issued a
that although Check No. 2956660 dated June 27, 1986 in the amount of check that was dishonored, but that likewise the accused was actually
P58,500.00 was dishonored by the bank on July 3, 1986 for insufficiency of notified in writing of the fact of dishonor. The consistent rule is that
funds, the same however was paid on July 28, 1986 via telegraphic transfer penal statutes have to be construed strictly against the State and
through Republic Planters Bank, Dagupan Branch as evidenced by O.R. No. liberally in favor of the accused.12
902575 before any notice of dishonor or demand to pay the same was made.
The prima facie presumption that the drawer has knowledge of the
In Criminal Case No. D-8136, petitioner submits that Check No. 2954047 insufficiency of funds or credit at the time of the issuance, or on the
dated June 13, 1986 in the amount of P27,600.00 was likewise dishonored for presentment for payment, of the check may be rebutted by payment of the
insufficiency of funds. He avers however that even before any notice of value of the check either by the drawer or by the drawee bank within five
dishonor or demand to pay the same was made, he already made the banking days from notice of the dishonor given to the drawer. The payment
corresponding payments by means of a demand draft and telegraphic transfer thus becomes a complete defense regardless of the strength of the evidence
through Republic Planters Bank, Dagupan Branch on July 17, 1986 and offered by the prosecution. It must be presupposed, then, that the issuer
August 19, 1986, as evidenced by O.R. Nos. 902868 and 902672. received a notice of dishonor and that, within five days from receipt thereof, he
failed to pay the amount of the check or to make arrangement for its payment. 13
As regards Check No. 2956662 in the amount of P52,500.00 which is the
subject of Criminal Case No. D-8137, petitioner admits that the same was In Caras v. Court of Appeals,14 we note that the law provides for a prima facie
dishonored, but alleges that he could not be made liable under BP Blg. 22, as rule of evidence. Knowledge of insufficiency of funds in or credit with the bank

15
is presumed from the act of making, drawing, and issuing a check payment of In Criminal Case No. D-8137, Check No. 2956662 dated July 1, 1986 with a
which is refused by the drawee bank for insufficiency of funds when presented face value of P52,200.00 was dishonored for being drawn against uncollected
within 90 days from the date of issue. However, this presumption is rebutted deposit (DAUD) and not for being drawn against insufficient funds (DAIF).
when it is shown that the maker or drawer pays or makes arrangements for According to petitioner, B.P. 22 punishes the drawer of a check if it is drawn
the payment of the check within five banking days after receiving notice that against insufficient funds but not when it is drawn against uncollected deposit.
such check had been dishonored. Thus, it is essential for the maker or drawer He ratiocinated that at the time the check was presented for payment on July
to be notified of the dishonor of her check, so he could pay the value thereof 8, 1986, the balance as shown in the ledger of petitioner's account was more
or make arrangements for its payment within the period prescribed by law. than the face value of the subject check. Even then, he claims that he is not
liable since he paid the value of the check within five (5) banking days from
In Criminal Case No. D-8135, petitioner paid the face value of the subject knowledge of dishonor.
check in the amount of P58,500.00 even before Fertiphil made any formal
written demand to pay the face value of the dishonored check.15 In fact, Petitioner was not being entirely forthright when he claims that Check No.
petitioner paid the face value of the check on July 28, 1986, a little over three 2956662 was dishonored for being drawn against uncollected deposit (DAUD).
weeks from the time the check was presented for payment on July 3, 1986. On the contrary, the records show that the stated reason for the dishonor of
Petitioner was only informed through a demand letter dated September 27, said check was insufficient funds (DAIF).19 Indeed, the ledger of the Republic
1986, or two months after petitioner paid the face value of the dishonored Planters Bank, Dagupan Branch showed that the subject check had insufficient
check.16 Petitioner, therefore, cannot be held liable under B.P. 22 in Criminal funds at the time it was drawn on July 1, 1986 as petitioner's account had only
Case No. D-8135. a balance of P48,166.196 as of June 30, 1986.20 Subsequently, when the
check was presented for payment on July 8, 1986, the check still had
In Criminal Case No. D-8136, petitioner paid the face value of Check No. insufficient funds because the check deposit made by petitioner which was
2954047 in the amount of P27,000.00 by means of Demand Draft and supposedly more than enough to cover the face value of the subject check had
Telegraphic Transfer on July 17, 1986.17 In fact, petitioner paid the face value not been credited by the bank.
of the dishonored check on the same day the subject check was presented for
payment, on July 17, 1986, and before the formal written demand letter was In Tan v. People,21 we held that even with uncollected deposits, the bank may
sent to petitioner on September 27, 1986. Petitioner, therefore, cannot also be honor the check at its discretion in favor of clients, in which case there would
held liable under B.P. 22 in Criminal Case No. D-8136. be no violation of B.P. Blg. 22. Corollarily, if the bank so desires, it could
likewise dishonor the check if drawn against uncollected deposits, in which
In Griffith v. Court of Appeals,18 we held that: case the drawer could be held liable for violation of BP Blg. 22.

While we agree with the private respondent that the gravamen of In Criminal Case Nos. D-8176 and D-8177, petitioner claims that Fertiphil had
violation of B.P. 22 is the issuance of worthless checks that are no right to encash Check No. 2956655 in the amount of P340,000.00 and
dishonored upon their presentment for payment, we should not apply Check No. 2956654 for P372,000.00 as they were not issued for account or
penal laws mechanically. We must find if the application of the law is for value. Petitioner avers that he only issued those checks as advance
consistent with the purpose of and reason for the law. Ratione cessat payment to Fertiphil but only after reconciliation of their books of account.
lex, et cessat lex. (When the reason for the law ceases, the law
ceases.) It is not the letter alone but the spirit of the law also that gives We do not agree. In Ong v. People,22 we held that what the law punishes is
it life. This is especially so in this case where a debtor's criminalization the issuance of a bouncing check, not the purpose for which it was issued nor
would not serve the ends of justice but in fact subvert it. The creditor the terms and conditions relating to its issuance. The mere act of issuing a
having collected already more than a sufficient amount to cover the worthless check is malum prohibitum, provided the other elements of the
value of the checks for payment of rentals, via auction sale, we find offense are properly proved.23
that holding the debtor's president to answer for a criminal offense
under B.P. 22 two years after said collection, is no longer tenable nor The fact that petitioner issued the subject checks knowing the inadequacy of
justified by law or equitable considerations. his funds in the bank to cover said checks makes him liable under B.P. 22. As
elaborated in Meriz v. People:24

16
The Court has consistently declared that the cause or reason for the deprivation of personal liberty and economic usefulness with due regard to the
issuance of the check is inconsequential in determining criminal protection of social order.27
culpability under BP 22. The Court has since said that 'a check issued
as an evidence of debt, although not intended for encashment, has In other words, Administrative Circular No. 12-2000 does not authorize the
the same effect like any other check' and must thus be held to be non-imposition of imprisonment in each and every case of B.P. 22. Having this
'within the contemplation of BP 22.' Once a check is presented for in mind, the Court issued on February 14, 2001 Administrative Circular 13-
payment, the drawee bank gives it the usual course whether issued in 2001 which modified Administrative Circular No. 12-2000 by stressing that "the
payment of an obligation or just as a guaranty of an obligation. BP 22 clear tenor of Administrative Circular No. 12-2000 is not to remove
does not concern itself with what might actually be envisioned by the imprisonment as an alternative penalty, but to lay down a rule of preference in
parties, its primordial intention being to instead ensure the stability and the application of the penalties provided for in B.P. 22." It is further stated
commercial value of checks as being virtual substitutes for currency. therein:
It is a policy that can easily be eroded if one has yet to determine the
reason for which checks are issued, or the terms and conditions for
Thus, Administrative Circular 12-2000 establishes a rule of preference in the
their issuance, before an appropriate application of legislative application of the penal provisions of B.P. 22 such that where the
enactment can be made. The gravamen of the offense under BP 22 is circumstances of both the offense and the offender clearly indicate good faith
the act of making or issuing a worthless check or a check that is
or a clear mistake of fact without taint of negligence, the imposition of a fine
dishonored upon presentment for payment. The act effectively
alone should be considered as the more appropriate penalty. Needless to say,
declares the offense to be one of malum prohibitum. The only valid
the determination of whether the circumstances warrant the imposition of a
query then is whether the law has been breached, i.e., by the mere act
fine alone rests solely upon the Judge. Should the Judge decide that
of issuing a bad check, without so much regard as to the criminal intent imprisonment is the more appropriate penalty, Administrative Circular 12-2000
of the issuer. ought not be deemed a hindrance.

Therefore, in Criminal Cases Nos. D-8137, D-8176 and D-8177, both the trial
It is, therefore, understood that:
court and the Court of Appeals correctly found petitioner guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of violation of B.P. 22. The trial court sentenced petitioner to
suffer imprisonment of one (1) year for each count, but the Court of Appeals 1. Administrative Circular 12-2000 does not remove imprisonment as
deleted the penalty of imprisonment. The appellate court based its decision on an alternative penalty for violations of B.P. 22;
Administrative Circular No. 12-2000, where this Court, adopting the rulings
in Vaca v. Court of Appeals25 and Lim v. People,26 authorized the non- 2. The Judges concerned may, in the exercise of sound discretion,
imposition of the penalty of imprisonment in B.P. 22 cases subject to certain and taking into consideration the peculiar circumstances of each case,
conditions. However, the Court of Appeals failed to explain the basis for the determine whether the imposition of a fine alone would best serve the
deletion of the prison sentence imposed by the trial court. interests of justice, or whether forbearing to impose imprisonment
would depreciate the seriousness of the offense, work violence on the
It should be clarified that the non-imposition of the penalty of imprisonment in social order, or otherwise be contrary to the imperatives of justice;
B.P. 22 cases should be based on the peculiar circumstances set forth in
the Vaca case, which were cited in Lim, more particularly: 3. 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
Petitioners are first-time offenders. They are Filipino entrepreneurs who Penal Code provisions on subsidiary imprisonment.28
presumably contribute to the national economy. Apparently, they brought this
appeal, believing in all good faith, although mistakenly, that they had not The foregoing notwithstanding, we note that the Court of Appeals rendered the
committed a violation of B.P. Blg. 22. Otherwise, they could simply have assailed judgment on January 12, 2001, prior to the issuance of Administrative
accepted the judgment of the trial court and applied for probation to evade Circular No. 13-2001. Consequently, it was justified in relying merely on
prison term. It would beset serve the ends of criminal justice if in fixing the Administrative Circular No. 12-2000 in imposing on petitioner the penalty of
penalty within the range of discretion allowed by 1, par. 1, the same fine in lieu of imprisonment.
philosophy underlying the Indeterminate Sentence Law is observed, namely,
that of redeeming valuable human material and preventing unnecessary

17
However, the Court of Appeals erred in fixing the amounts of the fine insofar
as Criminal Cases Nos. D-8176 and D-8177 are concerned. Section 1 of B.P.
22 explicitly provides that while the violation thereof shall be punished by a fine
of not less than but not more than double the amount of the check, such fine
shall in no case exceed P200,000.00. Therefore, the appealed decision of the
Court of Appeals should be modified. Petitioner should be sentenced to pay a
fine in the amount of P104,400.00 in Criminal Case No. D-8137; P200,000.00
in Criminal Case No. D-8176; and P200,000.00 in Criminal Case No. D-8177;
with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency in accordance with Article
39 of the Revised Penal Code.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the assailed decision of the Court of


Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 18632 is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS.

In Criminal Cases Nos. D-8135 and D-8136, petitioner Felicito Abarquez is


ACQUITTED.

In Criminal Case No. D-8137, petitioner is found GUILTY beyond reasonable


doubt of violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22, and is sentenced to pay a fine
of P104,400.00 and to indemnify Fertiphil Corporation in the amount of
P52,200.00.

In Criminal Case No. D-8176, petitioner is found GUILTY beyond reasonable


doubt of violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22, and is sentenced to pay a fine
of P200,000.00, and to indemnify Fertiphil Corporation in the amount of
P340,000.00.

In Criminal Case No. D-8177, petitioner is found GUILTY beyond reasonable


doubt of violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22, and is sentenced to pay a fine
of P200,000.00 and to indemnify Fertiphil Corporation in the amount of
P372,000.00.

Costs de oficio.

SO ORDERED.

18
II. Notice of Dishonor; Competent Proof In the amount of P50,000.00

G.R. No. 131540 December 2, 1999 Postdated July 24, 1992

BETTY KING, petitioner, said accused well knowing that at the time of issue she/he did
vs. not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent. the payment in full of the face amount of such check upon their
presentment, which check when presented for payment within
PANGANIBAN, J.: ninety (90) days from the date thereof were subsequently
dishonored by the drawee bank for the reason "Account
Closed" and despite receipt of notice of such dishonor the
Under Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 (BP 22), the prosecution must prove not only
that the accused issued a check that was subsequently dishonored. It must accused failed to pay the face amount thereof or make
also established that the accused was actually notified that the check was arrangement for the full payment thereof within five (5)
working days after receiving notice. 7
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. Absent proof that the accused received such When arraigned, petitioner, assisted by counsel, pleaded not guilty. After the
notice, a prosecution for violation of the Bouncing Check Law cannot prosper. prosecution presented its evidence and rested its case, petitioner filed a
Demurrer to Evidence without leave of court, on the ground that the
The Case prosecution failed to prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The trial court
denied the Demurrer in its assailed Decision, the dispositive portion of which
reads:
Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the
Rules of Court assailing the January 30, 1997 Decision 1 of the Court of
Appeals 2 (CA) in CA-GR CR No. 18226 and its November 5, 1997 WHEREFORE, premises considered, the demurrer to
Resolution 3 denying reconsideration. The CA affirmed the June 14, 1994 evidence without prior leave of court is DENIED for lack of
Decision 4 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati, Metro Manila 5 in merit.
Criminal Case Nos. 93-3335 to 93-3345 which convicted petitioner of 11
counts of violation of BP 22, otherwise known as the Bouncing Check Law. Since accused has waived her right to present evidence,
judgment is hereby rendered finding accused guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of Violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22
On April 28, 1993, Second Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Jaime A. Adoc filed
against petitioner eleven separate Informations, 6 which are identically in the eleven (11) above-entitled cases and is ordered to:
worded, except for the check number, the amount and the date, as follows:
1. Suffer imprisonment for thirty (30) days, to pay a fine in the
amount of P50,000.00, and to pay complainant Eileen
That in or about the month of January, 1992 in the Municipality
Fernandez the amount of P50,000.00 as actual damages in
of Las Pias, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the
Criminal Case No. 93-3335;
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused, did, then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously make or draw and issue to EILEEN FERNANDEZ 2. Suffer imprisonment for thirty (30) days, to pay a fine in the
herein represented by ________ to apply on account or for amount of P50,000.00, and to pay complainant Eileen
value the check described below: Fernandez the amount of P50,000.00 as actual damages in
Criminal Case No. 93-3336;
EQUITABLE BANK
3. Suffer imprisonment for thirty (30) days, to pay a fine in the
amount of P50,000.00, and to pay complainant Eileen
Check No. 021711
Fernandez the amount of P50,000.00 as actual damages in
Criminal Case No. 93-3337;

19
4. Suffer imprisonment for thirty (30) days, to pay a fine in the Hence, this Petition. 10
amount of P64,200.00, and to pay complainant Eileen
Fernandez the amount of P64,200.00 as actual damages in The Facts
Criminal Case No. 93-3338;
Evidence for the Prosecution
5. Suffer imprisonment for thirty (30) days, to pay a fine in the
amount of P66,000.00, and to pay complainant Eileen The Office of the Solicitor General 11 summarized the facts, as viewed by the
Fernandez the amount of P66,000.00 as actual damages in prosecution, in this wise:
Criminal Case No. 93-3339;
On several occasions in January, 1992, at Las Pias, Metro
6. Suffer imprisonment for thirty (30) days, to pay a fine in the
Manila, petitioner discounted with complainant Ellen
amount of P100,000.00, and to pay complainant Eileen Fernandez several Equitable Bank checks postdated from
Fernandez the amount of P100,000.00 as actual damages in July 23 to 29, 1992 in the total amount of P1,070,000.00 in
Criminal Case No. 93-3340;
exchange for cash in the amount of P1,000,000.00. When the
checks were deposited for payment, they were dishonored by
7. Suffer imprisonment for thirty (30) days, to pay a fine in the the drawee bank because they were drawn against an
amount of P150,000.00, and to pay complainant Eileen account without sufficient funds. Petitioner failed to make
Fernandez the amount of P150,000.00 as actual damages in good the checks despite demand. (Memorandum dated April
Criminal Case No. 93-3341; 7, 1993 of Assistant Provincial Prosecutor to the Rizal
Provincial Prosecutor)
8. Suffer imprisonment for thirty (30) days, to pay a fine in the
amount of P150,000.00, and to pay complainant Eileen During the hearing on the merits of this case on September
Fernandez the amount of P150,000.00 as actual damages in 17, 1998, the prosecution offered in evidence its documentary
Criminal Case No. 93-3342; evidence. Petitioner admitted the genuineness and due
execution of the documents presented. 12
9. Suffer imprisonment for thirty (30) days, to pay a fine in the
amount of P130,000.00, and to pay complainant Eileen Evidence for the Defense
Fernandez the amount of P130,000.00 as actual damages in
Criminal Case No. 93-3343;
As noted earlier, petitioner filed a Demurrer to Evidence without leave of court.
In doing so, she waived her right to present evidence and submitted the case
10. Suffer imprisonment for thirty (30) days, to pay a fine in for judgment on the basis of the documentary exhibits adduced by the
the amount of P130,000.00, and to pay complainant Eileen prosecution. 13
Fernandez the amount of P130,000.00 as actual damages in
Criminal Case No. 93-3344; and, Ruling of the Court of Appeals

11. Suffer imprisonment for thirty (30) days, to pay a fine in In affirming the trial court, the Court of Appeals explained that the prosecution
the amount of P130,000.00, and to pay complainant Eileen proved all the elements of the crime. The CA also pointed out that the failure
Fernandez the amount of P130,000.00 as actual damages in
of petitioner to sign the pretrial order was not fatal to the prosecution, because
Criminal Case No. 93-3345. 8
her conviction was based on the evidence presented during the trial.
9
As already stated, the Court of Appeals affirmed the RTC in this wise: The Issues

WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is hereby affirmed [I]N


Petitioner submits the following issues for the Court's consideration:
TOTO. Costs against appellant.

20
I Admissibility of Documentary Evidence

Whether or not the trial court and the Court of Appeals gravely Because the first, the second and the third issues raised by petitioner all refer
erred in admitting in evidence all the documentary evidence to the same matter, they will be discussed together. She contends that the
of the prosecution though their due execution and pieces of documentary evidence presented by the prosecution during pretrial
genuineness were not duly established in evidence pursuant are inadmissible, because she did not sign the pretrial agreement as required
to the provisions of the Rules of Court and prevailing under Section 4 of Rule 118 of the Rules of Court. 15 Hence, she argues that
jurisprudence; there is no basis for her conviction.

II True, a pretrial agreement not signed by a party is inadmissible. However, the


conviction of petitioner was based not on that agreement but on the documents
Whether or not the trial court and the Court of Appeals gravely submitted during the trial, all of which were admitted without any objection from
erred in declaring that Rule 118, Section 4 of the Rules of her counsel. During the hearing on September 17, 1993, the prosecution
Court, as applied in the case of Fule vs. Court of Appeals, 162 offered as evidence the dishonored checks, the return check tickets addressed
SCRA 446, which states that no agreement or admission to private complainant, the notice from complainant addressed to petitioner
made or entered during the pre-trial conference shall be used that the checks had been dishonored, and the postmaster's letter that the
in evidence against the accused unless reduced to writing and notice had been returned to sender. Petitioner's counsel did not object to their
signed by him and his counsel, is inapplicable in the case at admissibility. This is shown by the transcript of stenographic notes taken
bar; during the hearing on September 17, 1993:

III COURT:

Whether or not the trial court and the Court of Appeals gravely You have no objection to the
erred in ruling that the burden of evidence has already been admissibility, not that the Court will believe it.
shifted from the prosecution to the defense despite the definite
factual issues in the pre-trial order; and ATTY. MANGERA

IV No, Your Honor.

Whether or not the trial court and the Court of Appeals erred COURT:
in ruling that the prosecution has proven the guilt of the
accused beyond reasonable doubt albeit the prosecution did Exhibits "A" to "A" to "K" are admitted.
not produce any evidence. 14
ATTY. MAKALINTAL:
In the main, the resolution of the Petition hinges on (1) the admissibility and
(2) the sufficiency of the prosecution evidence. We offer Exhibit "L", the return-check ticket
dated July 27, 1992, relative to checks No.
This Court's Ruling 021745 and 021746 indicating that these
checks were returned DAIF, drawn against
The Petition has merit insofar as it contends that the elements of the crime insufficient funds; Exh. M, returned check
charged have not all been proven beyond reasonable doubt. ticket dated July 28, 1992, relative to Check
No. 021727, 021711 and 021720 likewise
First Issue: indicating the said checks to have been
drawn against insufficient funds, Your Honor.

21
Exhibit N, returned check ticket dated July 29, COURT:
1992, relative to Check Nos. 021749 and
021748, having the same indications; Admitted.

Exhibits O, returned check ticket dated July ATTY. MAKALINTAL:


29, 1992 relative to Check Nos. 021750 and
021753, with the same indications; We are offering Exhibits Q, R, S and T, for the
purpose of showing that there was demand
Exhibits P, returned check ticket dated duly made on the accused and that the same
August 4, 1992 relative to Check No. 021752, had been appropriately served by the Central
having the same indication as being drawn Post Office Services of Manila.
against insufficient funds;
ATTY. MANGERA:
Exhibit Q, the demand letter sent to the
accused by Atty. Horacio Makalintal dated
We admit as to the due execution and
August 3, 1992;
authenticity only as to that portion, Your
Honor.
Exhibit R, the letter-request for certification
addressed to the Postmaster General sent by
COURT:
the same law office dated 17 September
1992, showing that the said letter was
dispatched properly by the Central Post We are talking of admissibility now, so
Office of Makati; admitted. In other words, at this point, he
makes an offer and the Court will either grant
admission, [admit] it in evidence or deny it. It
Exhibit S, 1st Indorsement of the Makati
can deny admission if it is not properly
Central Post Office dated 21 September
identified etcetera.
1992;
ATTY. MANGERA:
Exhibit T, the Philippine Postal Corporation
Central Post Office letter dated 24 September
1992, addressed to this representation I think it is already provided.
showing that there were 3 notices sent to the
herein accused who received the said letter. COURT:

COURT: So, admitted.

Let's go to the third check slip; any objection ATTY. MAKALINTAL:


to the third slip?
With the admission of our offer, Your Honor,
ATTY. MANGERA: the prosecution
rests. 16
We have no objection as to the due execution
and authenticity. From the foregoing, it is clear that the prosecution evidence consisted of
documents offered and admitted during the trial. In view of this, the CA

22
correctly ruled that Fule v. Court of Appeals 17 would not apply to the present double the amount of the check which fine shall in no case
controversy. In that case, a hearing was conducted during which the exceed Two hundred thousand pesos, or both such fine and
prosecution presented three exhibits. However, Fule's conviction was "based imprisonment at the discretion of the court.
solely on the stipulation of facts made during rile pre-trial on August 8, 1985,
which was not signed by the petitioner, nor by his counsel." Because the The same penalty shall be imposed upon any person who
stipulation was inadmissible in evidence under Section 4 of Rule 118, the Court having sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank when
held that there was no proof of his guilt. he makes or draws and issues a check, shall fail to keep
sufficient funds or to maintain a credit to cover the full amount
In the present case, petitioner's conviction was based on the evidence of the check if presented within a period of ninety (90) days
presented during trial, and not on the stipulations made during the pretrial. from the date appearing thereon, for which reason it is
Hence, petitioner's admissions during the trial are governed not by dishonored by the drawee bank.
the Fuleruling or by Section 4 of Rule 118, but by Section 4 of Rule 129 which
reads: Where the check is drawn by a corporation, company or entity,
the person or persons who actually signed the check in behalf
Sec. 4. Judicial Admissions. An admission, verbal or of such drawer shall be liable under this Act.
written, made by a party in the course of the proceedings in
the same case, does not require proof. The admission may be Accordingly, this Court has held that the elements of the crime are as
contradicted only by showing that it was made through follows: 18
palpable mistake or that no such admission was made.
1. The accused makes, draws or issues any
Hence, the trial court and the Court of Appeals did not err in taking cognizance check to apply to account or for value.
of the said documentary evidence.
2. The checks subsequently dishonored by
Second Issue: the drawee bank for insufficiency of funds or
credit; or it would have been dishonored for
Sufficiency of Prosecution Evidence the same reason had not the drawer, without
any valid reason, ordered the bank to stop
Petitioner argues that the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt payment.
the elements of the offense. After a careful consideration of the records of this
case, we believe and so rule that the totality of the evidence presented does 3. The accused knows at the time of the
not support petitioner's conviction for violation of BP 22. issuance that he or she does not have
sufficient funds in, or credit with, drawee bank
Sec. 1 of BP 22 defines the offense as follows: for the payment of the check in full upon its
presentment.
Sec. 1. Checks without sufficient funds. Any person who
makes or draws and issues any check to apply on account or We shall analyze the evidence, purportedly establishing each of the
for value, knowing at the time of issue that he does not have aforementioned elements which the trial and the appellate courts relied upon.
sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the
payment of such check in full upon its presentment, which Issuance of the Questioned Checks
check is subsequently dishonored by the drawee bank for
insufficiency of funds or credit or would have been dishonored Contending that the prosecution failed to prove the first element, petitioner
for the same reason had not the drawer, without any valid maintains that she merely signed the questioned checks without indicating
reason, ordered the bank to stop payment, shall be punished therein the date and the amount involved. She adds that they were improperly
by imprisonment of not less than thirty days but not more than filled up by Eileen Fernandez. Thus, she concludes, she did not "issue" the
one (1) year or by a fine of not less than but not more than dishonored checks in the context of the Negotiable Instruments Law, which

23
defines "issue" as the "first delivery of the instrument complete in form to a refused by the drawee because of insufficient funds in or
person who takes it as a holder." 19 credit with such bank, when presented within ninety (90) days
from the date of the check, shall be prima facie evidence of
Petitioner's contentions are not meritorious. The questioned checks, marked knowledge of such insufficiency of funds or credit unless such
as Exhibits "A" to "K," contained the date of issue and the amount involved. In maker or drawer pays the holder thereof the amount due
fact, petitioner even admitted that she signed those checks. On the other hand, thereon, or makes arrangements for payment in full by the
no proof was adduced to show that petitioner merely signed them in blank, or drawee of such check within five (5) banking days after
that complainant filled them up in violation of the former's instructions or their receiving notice that such check has not been paid by the
previous agreement. The evidence on record is clear that petitioner issued drawee.
eleven checks, all of which were duly filled up and signed by her.
In other words, the prima facie presumption arises when a check is issued. But
Checks Dishonored 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
Neither are we persuaded by petitioner's argument that "there appears no 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
evidence on record that the subject checks were unpaid and
indicated in the check and thus avert prosecution. As the Court held in Lozano
dishonored." 20 Under Section 3 of BP 22, "the introduction in evidence of any
v. Martinez, the aforecited provision serves to "mitigate the harshness of the
unpaid and dishonored check, having the drawee's refusal to pay stamped or
law in its application." 22 This opportunity, however, can be used only upon
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 receipt by the accused of a notice of dishonor. This point was underscored by
the Court in Lina Lim Lao v. Court of Appeals: 23
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." It has been observed that the State, under this statute,
actually offers the violator a "compromise by allowing him to
In the present case, the fact that the checks were dishonored was sufficiently perform some act which operates to preempt the criminal
action, and if he opts to perform it the action is abated." This
shown by the checks themselves, which were stamped with the words
was also compared "to certain laws allowing illegal
"ACCOUNT CLOSED." This was further supported by the returned check
possessors of firearms a certain period of time to surrender
tickets issued by PCI Bank, the depository bank, stating that the checks had
the illegally possessed firearms to the Government, without
been dishonored.
incurring any criminal liability." In this light, the full payment of
the amount appearing in the check within five banking days
Clearly, these documents constitute prima facie evidence that the drawee from notice of dishonor is a "complete defense." The absence
bank dishonored the checks. Again, no evidence was presented to rebut the of a notice of dishonor necessarily deprives an accused an
prosecution's claim. opportunity to preclude a criminal prosecution. Accordingly,
procedural due process clearly enjoins that a notice of
Knowledge of Insufficiency of Funds dishonor be actually served on petitioner. Petitioner has a
right to demand and the basic postulates of fairness require
To hold a person liable under BP 22, it is not enough to establish that a check that the notice of dishonor be actually sent to and received
issued was subsequently dishonored. It must be shown further that the person by her to afford her the opportunity to avert prosecution under
who issued the check knew "at the time of issue that he does not have BP 22.
sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the payment of such check
in full upon its presentment." Because this element involves a state of mind Thus, in order to create the prima facie presumption that the issuer knew of
which is difficult to establish, Section 2 of the law creates a prima the insufficiency of funds, it must be shown that he or she received a notice of
facie presumption of such knowledge, as follows: 21 dishonor and, within five banking days thereafter, failed to satisfy the amount
of the check or make arrangement for its payment.
Sec. 2. Evidence of knowledge of insufficient funds. The
making, drawing and issuance of a check payment of which is

24
To prove that petitioner knew of the insufficiency of her funds, the prosecution
presented Exhibits "Q" to "T." Based on these documents, the Court of Appeals
concluded that "[p]rivate complainant sent a demand letter to appellant to
make good said checks . . .. Appellant failed to pay the face value of the eleven
checks or make arrangement for the full payment thereof within 90 days after
receiving the notice." 24

Upon closer examination of these documents, we find no evidentiary basis for


the holding of the trial court and the Court of Appeals that petitioner received
a notice that the checks had been dishonored.

True, complainant sent petitioner a registered mail, as shown in Exhibit "Q"


informing the latter that the checks had been dishonored. But the records show
that petitioner did not receive it. In fact, Postmaster Wilfredo Ulibarri's letter
addressed to complainant's counsel certified that the "subject registered mail
was returned to sender on September 22, 1992 . . .. " 25

Notwithstanding the clear import of the postmaster's certification, the


prosecution failed to adduce any other proof that petitioner received the post
office notice but unjustifiably refused to claim the registered mail. It is possible
that the drawee bank sent petitioner a notice of dishonor, but the prosecution
did not present evidence that the bank did send it, or that petitioner actually
received it. It was also possible that she was trying to flee from complainant by
staying in different address. Speculations and possibilities, however, cannot
take the place of proof. Conviction must rest on proof beyond reasonable
doubt. Clearly, the evidence on hand demonstrates the indelible fact that
petitioner did not receive notice that the checks had been dishonored.
Necessarily, the presumption that she knew of the insufficiency of funds cannot
arise.

Be that as it may, the Court must point out that it cannot rule on petitioner's
civil liability, for the issue was not raised in the pleadings submitted before us.

We must stress that BP 22, like all penal statutes, is construed strictly against
the State and liberally in favor of the accused. 26 Likewise, the prosecution has
the burden to prove beyond reasonable doubt each element of the crime.
Hence, the prosecution's case must rise or fall on the strength of its own
evidence, never on the weakness or even absence of that of the defense.

WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby


REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner Betty King is ACQUITTED for failure
of the prosecution to prove all the elements of the crimes charged. No
pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

25
G.R. No. 172573 June 19, 2008 Currency, drawn against Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP)
Tagbilaran City Branch, Tagbilaran City, and to pay Shoppers Mart,
RICARDO SUAREZ, petitioner, and thereafter, did, then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
vs. pass on, give and deliver the same to Shoppers Mart, in payment of a
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and A.H. SHOPPERS MART, certain obligation; however, upon presentment of the check to the
INC., respondents. drawee bank for encashment or payment within a period of ninety (90)
days from the date appearing thereon, the same was dishonored and
PUNO, C.J.: refused payment for the reason "ACCOUNT CLOSED" and the
accused neither paid nor made arrangement with the drawee bank
within five (5) banking days from receipt of notice of non-payment, to
This Petition for Review on Certiorari assails the Decision1 and Resolution2 of the damage and prejudice of said Shoppers Mart, in the amount to be
the Court of Appeals, dated November 21, 2005 and April 10, 2006 proved during the trial of the case.
respectively, in CA-G.R. SP No. 00284. The Court of Appeals set aside the
Regional Trial Courts (RTCs) Omnibus Decision3 dated August 30, 2004 and
Order4 dated September 13, 2004, and reinstated the Municipal Trial Court in Acts committed contrary to the provisions of Batas Pambansa Blg.
22.11
Cities (MTCCs) Joint Decision5 dated April 23, 2004 in Criminal Case Nos.
14988 and 14989. The MTCC found petitioner Ricardo Suarez guilty of two (2)
counts of violation of Batas Pambansa (B.P.) Blg. 22. Criminal Case Nos. 14988 and 14989 were consolidated and jointly tried.
When arraigned, petitioner pleaded not guilty to the charges against
Petitioner is Ricardo Suarez, the owner of a grocery store, Suarez him.12 During trial, the prosecution presented one witness, Dolores Huan
Agbayani, the Collection Manager of Shoppers Mart.13 Petitioner filed a
Commercial. Respondent A.H. Shoppers Mart, Inc. (Shoppers Mart) is a
Demurrer to Evidence without leave of court, on the ground that no notice of
business establishment engaged in operating a grocery and department store.
dishonor had been sent to and received by him. 14 On January 26, 2004, the
MTCC denied the Demurrer.15
Petitioner opened a credit line to purchase goods with Shoppers Mart. 6 As
payment for the goods, petitioner issued two postdated checks payable to the
On April 23, 2004, the MTCC found petitioner guilty of violating B.P. Blg. 22 in
order of Shoppers Mart: (1) Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP)
both cases. The dispositive portion of its Joint Decision states:
Check No. 0008784 dated September 18, 1998 for the amount of PhP
82,812.00; and (2) DBP Check No. 0008777 dated September 26, 1998 for
the amount of PhP 75,000.00.7 Shoppers Mart deposited the checks. WHEREFORE, the Court finds accused Ricardo Suarez GUILTY
However, DBP dishonored the checks for having been drawn against a closed beyond reasonable doubt in each of the two (2) counts of Violation of
account.8 Shoppers Mart sent the petitioner a demand letter dated March 22, Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 as charged in the two (2) informations and
2002 to pay for the value of the checks, but the petitioner failed to make hereby imposes a penalty of FINE of:
payment.9
1. EIGHTY FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P 85,000.00) in Crim.
Two informations for violation of B.P. Blg. 22 were filed against the petitioner Case No. 14988;
before the MTCC.10 Both informations are similarly worded except with respect
to the check number, amount involved, and date corresponding to the checks 2. SEVENTY FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P 75,000.00) in
issuance. The information in Criminal Case No. 14988 reads as follows: Crim. Case No. 14989,

That, on or about the 18th day of September, 1998, in the City of with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency and to pay costs in
Tagbilaran, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable each case.
Court, the above-named accused, knowing fully and well that he did
not have sufficient funds deposited with the bank, did, then and there Accused is likewise ordered to pay complainant the total amount of
feloniously make out and issue Development Bank of the Philippines P157,812.00 representing the total face value of the two (2)
Check No. 0008784 in the amount of EIGHTY TWO THOUSAND AND dishonored checks plus legal interest of six (6%) percent per annum
EIGHT H/UNDRED TWELVE PESOS (P 82,812.00), Philippine from the filing of these cases on July 12, 2002 until finality of this

26
judgment and twelve (12%) percent per annum from finality of this 3. the subsequent dishonor of the check by the drawee bank for
judgment until full payment and the sum of P5,000.00 as attorneys insufficiency of funds or credit or dishonor for the same reason had
fees and litigation expenses. not the drawer, without any valid cause, ordered the bank to stop
payment.24
SO ORDERED.16
B.P. Blg. 22 creates a presumption of knowledge of insufficiency of funds
Petitioner appealed to the RTC, which ruled that the provision in B.P. Blg. 22 under the following circumstances:
regarding criminal liability runs counter to the constitutional provision against
imprisonment for nonpayment of a debt. The RTC modified the MTCC Sec. 2. Evidence of knowledge of insufficient funds. The making,
decision, viz: drawing, and issuance of a check payment of which is refused by the
drawee because of insufficient funds or credit with such bank, when
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the assailed Decision is presented within ninety days from the date of the check, shall be prima
modified and another judgment is hereby entered absolving herein facie evidence of knowledge of such insufficiency of funds or credit
accused Ricardo Suarez from criminal liability under BP Blg. 22. unless such maker or drawer pays the holder thereof the amount due
However, the civil liability imposed upon him in the Decision is hereby thereon, or makes arrangements for payment in full by the drawee of
affirmed.17 such check within five (5) banking days after receiving notice that such
check has not been paid by the drawee.25
On November 9, 2004, respondents assailed the RTC decision before the
Court of Appeals.18 The Court of Appeals set aside the RTC decision and The presumption arises when it is proved that the issuer had received this
reinstated the MTCC decision, holding that the RTC decision is void for notice, and that within five banking days from its receipt, he failed to pay the
absolving the petitioner of criminal liability despite a finding that he violated amount of the check or to make arrangements for its payment. 26 The full
B.P. Blg. 22.19 payment of the amount appearing in the check within five banking days from
notice of dishonor is a complete defense.27 Accordingly, procedural due
Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration before the Court of Appeals, process requires that a notice of dishonor be sent to and received by the
petitioner to afford the opportunity to avert prosecution under B.P. Blg. 22.28
reiterating the argument that the prosecution failed to prove that he had been
sent and received a notice of dishonor, which is essential to support a
conviction of B.P. Blg. 22.20 The Court of Appeals denied the motion.21 The evidence shows that the prosecution proved that a notice of dishonor was
sent to petitioner through registered mail. The prosecution presented a copy
of the demand letter and properly authenticated the registry return
Petitioner insists on the same argument before this Court. The Solicitor
receipt.29 However, it is not enough for the prosecution to prove that a notice
General supports the petitioners argument and recommends the petitioners
of dishonor was sent to the petitioner. It is also incumbent upon the prosecution
acquittal for violation of B.P. Blg. 22.22 Thus, the sole issue for resolution is
to show "that the drawer of the check received the said notice because the fact
whether the prosecution proved the element of knowledge of insufficiency of
funds to hold the petitioner liable for violation of B.P. Blg. 22. of service provided for in the law is reckoned from receipt of such notice of
dishonor by the drawee of the check."30
To commit a violation of B.P. Blg. 22,23 the following elements must be present
A review of the records shows that the prosecution did not prove that the
and proved:
petitioner received the notice of dishonor. Registry return cards must be
authenticated to serve as proof of receipt of letters sent through registered
1. the making, drawing and issuance of any check to apply for account mail. Thus, we held:
or for value;
it must appear that the same was served on the addressee or a duly
2. the knowledge of the maker, drawer, or issuer that at the time of authorized agent of the addressee. In fact, the registry return receipt
issue he does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee itself provides that [a] registered article must not be delivered to
bank for the payment of such check in full upon its presentment; and anyone but the addressee, or upon the addressees written order, in

27
which case the authorized agent must write the addressees name on
the proper space and then affix legibly his own signature below it.31

The failure of the prosecution to properly authenticate and identify the


signature on the registry return card as that of the petitioner is evident from the
testimony of its sole witness, the Collection Manager of Shoppers Mart:

Q: The return card evidencing actual receipt by the defendant, it is


also included in Branch 2, City Court?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: I show you a return receipt, is this the return receipt you are
referring to?

A: Yes, sir.32

The presentation of the registry card, with an unauthenticated signature, does


not meet the required proof beyond reasonable doubt that the petitioner
received such notice, especially considering that he denied receiving it. 33 As
there is insufficient proof that the petitioner received notice of dishonor, the
presumption that he had knowledge of insufficiency of funds cannot arise.

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the assailed November 21, 2005 Decision and April 10,
2006 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 00284, reinstating
the April 23, 2004 Joint Decision of the MTCC in Tagbilaran City, Branch 1, in
Criminal Case Nos. 14988 and 14989 convicting the petitioner of two (2)
counts of violation of B.P. Blg. 22, are MODIFIED. Petitioner is ACQUITTED
on reasonable doubt. However, the civil liability imposed on petitioner in the
Joint Decision of the MTCC is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

28
G.R. No. 182301 January 31, 2011 9. The reason for the dishonor.5

JAIME ALFEREZ, Petitioner, Instead of presenting evidence, petitioner filed a Demurrer to Evidence6 on
vs. August 8, 2003, or approximately ten (10) months after the prosecution rested
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and PINGPING CO, Respondents. its case. Petitioner averred that the prosecution failed to show that he received
the notice of dishonor or demand letter.
NACHURA, J.:
On March 4, 2005, the MTCC issued a resolution7 denying petitioners
This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, Demurrer to Evidence, and rendering judgment finding petitioner guilty as
assailing the Court of Appeals (CA) Decision1 dated December 13, 2007 and charged, the dispositive portion of which reads:
Resolution2 dated March 4, 2008 in CA-G.R. CEB-CR No. 00300.
WHEREFORE, the Court finds the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
The facts of the case, as culled from the records, are as follows: the crime of issuing bouncing checks as defined and penalized under Section
1 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 and hereby sentences the accused the following:
Petitioner Jaime Alferez purchased construction materials from Cebu ABC
Sales Commercial. As payment for the goods, he issued three (3) checks for 1. To pay a fine of Php830,998.40 and in case of insolvency to suffer
the total amount of P830,998.40. However, the checks were dishonored for subsidiary imprisonment;
having been drawn against a closed account. Petitioner was thus charged with
three (3) counts of violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang (B.P. Blg.) 22 before 2. To pay private complainant the total face value of the checks in the
the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC), Cebu City. The cases were raffled amount of Php830,998.40 plus 1% interest per month beginning from
to Branch 3 and docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 40985-R to 40987-R.3 During the filing of the complaint.
the trial, the prosecution presented its lone witness, private complainant
Pingping Co.4 Thereafter, the prosecution formally offered the following SO ORDERED.8
documentary evidence:
Aggrieved, petitioner appealed to the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 21,
1. BPI Check No. 492089 dated 29 April 1994 in the sum of P78, Cebu City. The RTC rendered Judgment9 affirming in toto the MTCC decision.
889.95; Petitioner moved for reconsideration, but it was denied in an Order10 dated
December 16, 2005. In the same Order, the RTC modified the MTCC
2. BPI Check No. 492010 dated 22 June 1994 in the sum resolution by sentencing petitioner to suffer the penalty of imprisonment for six
of P30,745.90; (6) months for each count of violation of B.P Blg. 22, instead of fine as originally
imposed.
3. BPI Check No. 492011 dated 22 June 1994 in the sum
of P721,362.55; Undaunted, petitioner elevated the matter to the CA via a petition for review
under Rule 42 of the Rules of Court. In the assailed Decision, the CA dismissed
4. The demand letter dated 7 July 1994 addressed to petitioner; the petition for lack of merit. It sustained petitioners conviction as the elements
of the crime had been sufficiently established. As to the service on petitioner
of the notice of dishonor, the appellate court pointed out that petitioner did not
5. The registry receipt of the Post Office;
testify, and that he did not object to the prosecutions evidence aimed at
proving the fact of receipt of the notice of dishonor. Consequently, the registry
6. The face of the Registry Return Receipt; receipt and the return card adequately show the fact of receipt. As to
petitioners contention that he was denied his right to present evidence after
7. The dorsal side of the Registry Return Receipt; the denial of his demurrer to evidence, the CA held that there was no such
denial since it was merely the consequence of the filing of demurrer without
8. The Returned Check Ticket dated 23 June 1994; and leave of court. Finally, as to the imposition of the penalty of imprisonment

29
instead of fine, the CA found no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Where the check is drawn by a corporation, company or entity, the person or
RTC since it was shown that petitioner acted in bad faith.11 persons who actually signed the check in behalf of such drawer shall be liable
under this Act.
On March 4, 2008, the CA denied petitioners motion for reconsideration.
Hence, this petition anchored on the following issues: Accordingly, this Court has held that the elements of the crime are, as follows:
(1) the making, drawing, and issuance of any check to apply on account or for
Whether the Registry Receipt and Registry Return Receipt alone without value; (2) the knowledge of the maker, drawer, or issuer that at the time of
presenting the person who mailed and/or served the demand letter is sufficient issue he does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for
notice of dishonor as required by BP 22. the payment of the check in full upon its presentment; and (3) the subsequent
dishonor of the check by the drawee bank for insufficiency of funds or credit,
or dishonor for the same reason had not the drawer, without any valid cause,
Whether the filing of the Demurrer of (sic) Evidence without leave and denied
ordered the bank to stop payment.14
by the trial court is a waiver of the right of the petitioner (the accused before
the trial court) to present his evidence in support and to rebut the evidence of
the respondent particularly with respect to the civil aspect of the case. In this case, the first and third elements of the crime have been adequately
established. The prosecution, however, failed to prove the second element.
Because this element involves a state of mind which is difficult to establish,
On the alternative (if the petitioner is guilty), whether the accused should only
Section 2 of B.P. Blg. 22 creates a presumption of knowledge of insufficiency
be mete[d] the penalty of fine as imposed by the trial court (MTCC).12
of funds under the following circumstances:15
The petition is partly meritorious.
Sec. 2. Evidence of knowledge of insufficient funds. The making, drawing,
and issuance of a check payment of which is refused by the drawee because
After a careful evaluation of the records of the case, we believe and so hold of insufficient funds in or credit with such bank, when presented within ninety
that the totality of the evidence presented does not support petitioners days from the date of the check, shall be prima facie evidence of knowledge
conviction for violation of B.P. Blg. 22. 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
Section 1 of B.P. Blg. 22 defines the offense, as follows:13 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.
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 In Suarez v. People,16 which is on all fours with the instant case, two
issue that he does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank Informations for violation of B.P. Blg. 22 were filed against petitioner therein.
for the payment of such check in full upon its presentment, which check is After the prosecution presented its evidence, petitioner filed a Demurrer to
subsequently dishonored by the drawee bank for insufficiency of funds or Evidence without leave of court on the ground that no notice of dishonor had
credit or would have been dishonored for the same reason had not the drawer, been sent to and received by him. When the case reached this Court, we
without any valid reason, ordered the bank to stop payment, shall be punished acquitted petitioner on reasonable doubt as there was insufficient proof that he
by imprisonment of not less than thirty days but not more than one (1) year or received notice of dishonor. We explained that:
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 The presumption arises when it is proved that the issuer had received this
such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court. notice, and that within five banking days from its receipt, he failed to pay the
amount of the check or to make arrangements for its payment. The full
The same penalty shall be imposed upon any person who, having sufficient payment of the amount appearing in the check within five banking days from
funds in or credit with the drawee bank when he makes or draws and issues a notice of dishonor is a complete defense. Accordingly, procedural due process
check, shall fail to keep sufficient funds or to maintain a credit to cover the full requires that a notice of dishonor be sent to and received by the petitioner to
amount of the check if presented within a period of ninety (90) days from the afford the opportunity to avert prosecution under B.P. Blg. 22.
date appearing thereon, for which reason it is dishonored by the drawee bank.

30
x x x. [I]t is not enough for the prosecution to prove that a notice of dishonor petitioner of the requisite notice of dishonor and that he was given at least five
was sent to the petitioner. It is also incumbent upon the prosecution to show (5) banking days within which to settle his account constitutes sufficient ground
"that the drawer of the check received the said notice because the fact of for his acquittal.28
service provided for in the law is reckoned from receipt of such notice of
dishonor by the drawee of the check. Nonetheless, petitioners acquittal for failure of the prosecution to prove all
elements of the offense beyond reasonable doubt does not include the
A review of the records shows that the prosecution did not prove that the extinguishment of his civil liability for the dishonored checks. 29 In case of
petitioner received the notice of dishonor. Registry return cards must be acquittal, the accused may still be adjudged civilly liable. The extinction of the
authenticated to serve as proof of receipt of letters sent through registered penal action does not carry with it the extinction of the civil action where (a)
mail.17 the acquittal is based on reasonable doubt as only preponderance of evidence
is required; (b) the court declares that the liability of the accused is only civil;
In this case, the prosecution merely presented a copy of the demand letter, and (c) the civil liability of the accused does not arise from or is not based upon
together with the registry receipt and the return card, allegedly sent to the crime of which the accused was acquitted.30 In a number of similar cases,
petitioner. However, there was no attempt to authenticate or identify the we have held that an acquittal based on reasonable doubt does not preclude
signature on the registry return card.18 Receipts for registered letters and the award of civil damages.31
return receipts do not by themselves prove receipt; they must be properly
authenticated to serve as proof of receipt of the letter, claimed to be a notice In view of the foregoing, we sustain the findings of the trial court, as affirmed
of dishonor.19 To be sure, the presentation of the registry card with an by the CA, as to petitioners civil liability.1wphi1
unauthenticated signature, does not meet the required proof beyond
reasonable doubt that petitioner received such notice. It is not enough for the Finally, in answer to petitioners insistence that he should have been allowed
prosecution to prove that a notice of dishonor was sent to the drawee of the by the trial court to present his evidence on the civil aspect of the case, suffice
check. The prosecution must also prove actual receipt of said notice, because it to state that when petitioner filed a demurrer to evidence without leave of
the fact of service provided for in the law is reckoned from receipt of such court, the whole case was submitted for judgment on the basis of the evidence
notice of dishonor by the drawee of the check.20 The burden of proving notice presented by the prosecution as the accused is deemed to have waived the
rests upon the party asserting its existence. Ordinarily, preponderance of right to present evidence. At that juncture, the court is called upon to decide
evidence is sufficient to prove notice. In criminal cases, however, the quantum the case including its civil aspect.32
of proof required is proof beyond reasonable doubt. Hence, for B.P. Blg. 22
cases, there should be clear proof of notice.21 Moreover, for notice by mail, it
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court of Appeals Decision dated
must appear that the same was served on the addressee or a duly authorized December 13, 2007 and Resolution dated March 4, 2008 in CA-G.R. CEB-CR
agent of the addressee. From the registry receipt alone, it is possible that No. 00300 are MODIFIED. Petitioner Jaime Alferez is ACQUITTED on
petitioner or his authorized agent did receive the demand letter. 22 Possibilities,
reasonable doubt of violation of B.P. Blg. 22. However, the civil liability
however, cannot replace proof beyond reasonable doubt.23 The consistent rule
imposed on petitioner is AFFIRMED.
is that penal statutes have to be construed strictly against the State and
liberally in favor of the accused.24 The absence of a notice of dishonor
necessarily deprives the accused an opportunity to preclude a criminal SO ORDERED.
prosecution.25 As there is insufficient proof that petitioner received the notice
of dishonor, the presumption that he had knowledge of insufficiency of funds
cannot arise.26

This is so even if petitioner did not present his evidence to rebut the
documentary evidence of the prosecution as he had waived his right to present
evidence for having filed a demurrer to evidence without leave of court. We
must emphasize that the prosecution has the burden of proving beyond
reasonable doubt each element of the crime as its case will rise or fall on the
strength of its own evidence, never on the weakness or even absence of that
of the defense.27 The failure of the prosecution to prove the receipt by

31
G.R. No. 140665 November 13, 2000 insufficient funds. Tagle alleged that despite verbal and written demands,
petitioners failed to pay her the value of the dishonored checks.
VICTOR TING "SENG DEE" and EMILY CHAN-AZAJAR, petitioners,
vs. Consequently, seven informations for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22
COURT OF APPEALS and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. were filed against petitioners. Said informations are similarly worded except
with respect to the check number, the amount involved, and the date the check
MELO, J.: was issued. The information in Criminal Case No. 94-131945 (the other cases
are Criminal Case No. 94-131946, Criminal Case No. 94-131947, Criminal
Case No. 94-131948, Criminal Case No. 94-131949, Criminal Case No. 94-
Before us is a petition for certiorari under Rule 45 seeking the reversal of the
131950, and Criminal Case No. 94-131951) charged:
February 12, 1999 decision of the Court of Appeals which affirmed that of the
Regional Trial Court of the National Capital Judicial Region (Manila, Branch
45) finding petitioners guilty of seven (7) counts of violation of Batas Pambansa That sometime prior to May 27, 1993, in the City of Manila, Philippines,
Blg. 22. the said accused, conspiring and confederating together and mutually
helping each other, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and
feloniously make or draw and issue to JOSEPHINE K. TAGLE, to
Petitioners' version of the background events is as follows:
apply on account or for value Producers Bank of the Philippines,
Check No. 946072 dated May 27, 1993 payable to CASH in the
From 1991 to 1992, Juliet Ting "Chan Sioc Hiu" obtained loans, in the amount of P250,000.00 said accused well knowing that at the time of
aggregate amount of P2,750,000.00, from private complainant Josefina K. issue they did not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee
Tagle for use in Juliet's furniture business. As payment thereof, Juliet issued bank for payment of such check in full upon its presentment, which
eleven (11) post-dated checks which, upon maturity, were dishonored for check when presented for payment within ninety (90) days from the
reasons of "Closed Account" or "Drawn Against Insufficient Funds." Juliet was date thereof, was subsequently dishonored by the drawee bank for
subsequently prosecuted for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22. Drawn Against Insufficient Funds and despite receipt of notice of such
dishonor, said accused failed to pay said JOSEFINA K. TAGLE the
Due to her financial difficulties, Juliet requested her husband Victor Ting "Seng amount of the check or to make arrangements for full payment of the
Dee" and her sister Emily Chan-Azajar (petitioners herein) to take over her same within five (5) banking days after receiving said notice.
furniture business, including the obligations appurtenant thereto. Agreeing to
Juliet's request, petitioners issued nineteen (19) checks in replacement of the (p. 2, Original Records.)
eleven (11) checks earlier issued by Juliet. The planned take-over, however,
never materialized since the Naga Hope Christian School, petitioner Emily
Criminal Cases No. 94-131945 to 94-131951 were consolidated and jointly
Chan-Azajar's employer in Naga, refused to let her resign to attend to her
tried. When arraigned, petitioners, assisted by counsel, pleaded not guilty.
sister's business. Since the planned take-over did not take place, petitioners
During trial, the prosecution presented only one witness, the private
requested Juliet to reassume her obligation to private complainant Tagle by
replacing the checks they had previously issued to the latter. Thus, Juliet complainant, the testimony of Producer's Bank representative Ferdinand Lazo
replaced the nineteen (19) checks issued by petitioners with twenty-three (23) being dispensed with after counsel for petitioners admitted the dishonor of the
checks subject matter of the action.
Far East Bank checks in favor of Tagle. Petitioners then requested private
complainant Tagle to return the nineteen (19) checks they had issued to her.
Instead of returning the checks, Tagle deposited seven of the checks with On March 16, 1995, the trial court found petitioners guilty of violating Batas
MetroBank where they were dishonored for being "Drawn Against Insufficient Pambansa Blg. 22 in each of the seven cases, disposing as follows:
Funds."
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, accused VICTOR TING and
On the other hand, private complainant Tagle alleged that sometime in April EMILY CHAN AZAJAR are hereby found "GUILTY" beyond
1993, petitioners obtained a loan of P950,000.00 from her, issuing several reasonable doubt of all the charges contained in Criminal Case Nos.
post-dated checks in payment thereof. When the checks were deposited by 94-131945; 94-131946; 94-131947; 94-131948; 94-131949; 94-
Tagle with MetroBank, they were dishonored for having been drawn against 131950 and 94-131951 and for each count, they are hereby sentenced

32
to suffer the penalty of one (1) year imprisonment; to pay Josefina K. For a violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 to be committed, the
Tagle the total amount of P950,000.00; and to pay the cost. following elements must be present:

(p. 294, Rollo.) (1) the making, drawing, and issuance of any check to apply for
account or for value;
Aggrieved, petitioners filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals which was
docketed therein as C.A.-G.R. No. 18054. However, the appellate court, on (2) the knowledge of the maker, drawer, or issuer that at the time of
February 12, 1999, affirmed. Petitioners' motion for reconsideration was, issue there are no sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for
likewise, denied for lack of merit. Hence, the instant petition. the payment of such check in full upon is presentment; and

Petitioners claim that the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the decision of (3) the subsequent dishonor of the check by the drawee bank for
the trial court, given the absence of proof beyond reasonable doubt or in the insufficiency of funds or credit or dishonor for the same reason had
presence of facts creating reasonable doubt. not the drawer, without any valid cause, ordered the bank to stop
payment (Sycip, Jr. vs. CA, G.R. No. 125059, March 17, 2000).
The petition has merit.
An analysis of the evidence presented, however, shows that not all the
Section 1 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22, otherwise known as the Bouncing aforementioned elements have been established by the prosecution beyond
Checks Law, provides: reasonable doubt.

Section 1. Checks without sufficient funds. Any person who makes That the seven checks in question were issued by petitioners is beyond
or draws and issues any check to apply on account or for value, dispute. Not only were the dishonored checks presented in court, but
knowing at the time of issue that he does not have sufficient funds in petitioners even admitted signing the checks and issuing them to private
or credit with the drawee bank for the payment of such check in full complainant. From the evidence on record, it is clear that petitioners signed
upon its presentment, which check is subsequently dishonored by the and issued the seven checks in question.
drawee bank for insufficiency of funds or credit or would have been
dishonored for the same reason had not the drawer, without any valid That the checks were dishonored is also clearly established. Section 3 of Batas
reason, ordered the bank to stop payment, shall be punished by Pambansa Blg. 22 provides that "the introduction in evidence of any unpaid
imprisonment of not less than thirty days but not more than one (1) and dishonored check, having the drawee's refusal to pay stamped or written
year or by a fine of not less than but not more double the amount of thereon, or attached thereto, with the reason therefor as aforesaid, shall
the check which fine shall in no case exceed Two hundred thousand be prima facie evidence of the making or issuance of said check, and the due
pesos, or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the presentment to the drawee for payment and the dishonor thereof, and that the
court. same was properly dishonored for the reason written, stamped, or attached by
the drawee on such dishonored check." In the instant case, the fact of the
The same penalty shall be imposed upon any person who having checks' dishonor is sufficiently shown by the return slips issued by MetroBank,
sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank when he makes or the depository bank, stating that the checks had been returned for the reason
draws and issues a check, shall fail to keep sufficient funds or to "DAIF Drawn Against Insufficient Funds." Not only are these check return
maintain a credit to cover the full amount of the check if presented slips prima facie evidence that the drawee bank dishonored the checks, but
within a period of ninety (90) days from the date appearing thereon, the defense did not present any evidence to rebut these documents. In fact,
for which reason it is dishonored by the drawee bank. counsel for petitioners even admitted the fact of the checks' dishonor, agreeing
to dispense with the presentation of the bank representative who was
supposed to prove the fact of dishonor of said checks (p. 162, Rollo.).
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. However, for liability to attach under Batas Pambansa Blg. 22, it is not enough
that the prosecution establishes that a check was issued and that the same
was subsequently dishonored. The prosecution must also prove the second

33
element, that is, it must further show that the issuer, at the time of the check's from notice of dishonor is a 'complete defense.' The absence of a notice of
issuance, had knowledge that he did not have enough funds or credit in the dishonor necessarily deprives an accused an opportunity to preclude a
bank for payment thereof upon its presentment. Since the second element criminal prosecution. Accordingly, procedural due process clearly enjoins that
involves a state of mind which is difficult to verify, Section 2 of Batas Pambansa a notice of dishonor be actually served on petitioner. Petitioner has a right to
Blg. 22 creates a presumption juris tantum that the second element prima demand and the basic postulate of fairness require that the notice of
facie exists when the first and third elements of the offense are present (Magno dishonor be actually sent to and received by her to afford her the opportunity
v. People, 210 SCRA 471 [1992]). Section 2 provides: to avert prosecution under BP 22."

Section 2. Evidence of knowledge of insufficient funds. The making, To prove that petitioners received a notice of dishonor, the prosecution
drawing, and issuance of a check payment of which is refused by the presented a copy of the demand letter allegedly sent to petitioners through
drawee because of insufficient funds or credit with such bank, when registered mail and its corresponding registry receipt. Private complainant
presented within ninety days from the date of the check, shall be prima Josefina Tagle, the sole witness for the prosecution, testified thus:
facie evidence of knowledge of such insufficiency of funds or credit
unless such maker or drawer pays the holder thereof the amount due Q: Now, when these seven (7) checks bounced for insufficiency
thereon, or makes arrangements for payment in full by the drawee of of funds, what step did you take?
such check within five (5) banking days after receiving notice that such
check has not been paid by the drawee."
A: I demanded the return of my money from them.

In truth, this Court declared in King v. People (G.R. No. 131540, December 2,
Q: Now, what was the reply of the two accused?
1999) that "the prima facie presumption arises when the 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 A: They kept on promising that they will pay but up to now they
banking days after receiving notice that such check has not been paid by the have not paid any single centavo.
drawee.' Verily, BP 22 gives the accused an opportunity to satisfy the amount
indicated in the check and thus avert prosecution This opportunity, however, Q: What other step did you take?
can be used only upon receipt by the accused of a notice of dishonor." Thus,
the presumption that the issuer had knowledge of the insufficiency of funds is A: I requested my lawyer to write a demand letter.
brought into existence only after it is proved that the issuer had received a
notice of dishonor and that, within five days from receipt thereof, he failed to Q: And that demand letter was sent to the accused?
pay the amount of the check or to make arrangement for its payment.
A: Yes, Sir.
King v. People, decided by this Division, involves a set of facts similar to the
case at bar. In said case, the accused therein was proven to have issued
Q: In what manner?
eleven checks, all of which were duly filled up and signed by her. It was also
clearly established that these eleven checks were dishonored, as shown by
the checks themselves which were stamped "ACCOUNT CLOSED" and A: By registered mail.
further supported by the return tickets issued by PCI Bank stating that the
checks had been dishonored. Yet, even if the prosecution had already Q: Now, was that demand letter received by the two accused?
established the issuance of the checks and their subsequent dishonor, this
Court still required the prosecution to show that the issuer knew of the A: Yes, Sir.
insufficiency of funds by proving that he or she received a notice of dishonor
and, within five banking days thereafter, failed to satisfy the amount of the Q: What is your evidence?
check or make arrangement for its payment.
A: The return card.
Moreover, in Lina Lim Lao v. CA (274 SCRA 572 [1997]), we emphasized that
"the full payment of the amount appearing in the check within five banking days

34
Q: If you are shown anew the copy of the demand letter which through registered mail and that the same was actually received by petitioners
is already marked as Exhibit B, would you be able to recognize the or their agents.
same?
As adverted to earlier, it is necessary in cases for violation of Batas Pambansa
A: Yes, Sir. Blg. 22, that the prosecution prove that the issuer had received a notice of
dishonor. It is a general rule that when service of notice is an issue, the person
Q: Is that the one that you are referring to? alleging that the notice was served must prove the fact of service (58 Am Jur
2d, Notice, 45). The burden of proving notice rests upon the party asserting
its existence. Now, ordinarily, preponderance of evidence is sufficient to prove
A: Yes, Sir.
notice. In criminal cases, however, the quantum of proof required is proof
beyond reasonable doubt. Hence, for Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 cases, there
Q: How about the return card, is that correct? should be clear proof of notice. Moreover, it is a general rule that, when service
of a notice is sought to be made by mail, it should appear that the conditions
A: Yes, Sir, this is the one. on which the validity of such service depends had existence, otherwise the
evidence is insufficient to establish the fact of service (C.J.S., Notice, 18). In
Q: Now, upon receipt of this letter by the two accused, did the the instant case, the prosecution did not present proof that the demand letter
two accused pay the amount of the said check? was sent through registered mail, relying as it did only on the registry return
receipt. In civil cases, service made through registered mail is proved by the
A: No, Sir. registry receipt issued by the mailing office and an affidavit of the person
mailing of facts showing compliance with Section 7 of Rule 13 (See Section
13, Rule 13, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure). If, in addition to the registry
Q: So what did you do next?
receipt, it is required in civil cases that an affidavit of mailing as proof of service
be presented, then with more reason should we hold in criminal cases that a
A: I told my lawyer to file charges against them. registry receipt alone is insufficient as proof of mailing. In the instant case, the
prosecution failed to present the testimony, or at least the affidavit, of the
Q: You mean the present charge? person mailing that, indeed, the demand letter was sent.

A: Yes, Sir. Moreover, petitioners, during the pre-trial, denied having received the demand
letter (p. 135, Rollo.). Given petitioners' denial of receipt of the demand letter,
Atty. Acuesta: it behooved the prosecution to present proof that the demand letter was indeed
sent through registered mail and that the same was received by petitioners.
That is all, Your Honor. This, the prosecution miserably failed to do. Instead, it merely presented the
demand letter and registry return receipt as if mere presentation of the same
was equivalent to proof that some sort of mail matter was received by
(TSN, Aug. 24, 1994, p. 8-9.) petitioners. Receipts for registered letters and return receipts do not prove
themselves; they must be properly authenticated in order to serve as proof of
Aside from the above testimony, no other reference was made to the demand receipt of the letters (Central Trust Co. v. City of Des Moines, 218 NW 580).
letter by the prosecution. As can be noticed from the above exchange, the
prosecution alleged that the demand letter had been sent by mail. To prove Likewise, for notice by mail, it must appear that the same was served on the
mailing, it presented a copy of the demand letter as well as the registry return addressee or a duly authorized agent of the addressee. In fact, the registry
receipt. However, no attempt was made to show that the demand letter was return receipt itself provides that "[a] registered article must not be delivered to
indeed sent through registered mail nor was the signature on the registry return anyone but the addressee, or upon the addressee's written order, in which
receipt authenticated or identified. It cannot even be gleaned from the case the authorized agent must write the addressee's name on the proper
testimony of private complainant as to who sent the demand letter and when space and then affix legibly his own signature below it." In the case at bar, no
the same was sent. In fact, the prosecution seems to have presumed that the effort was made to show that the demand letter was received by petitioners or
registry return receipt was proof enough that the demand letter was sent their agent. All that we have on record is an illegible signature on the registry

35
receipt as evidence that someone received the letter. As to whether this same obligation being sued upon by private complainant Tagle herein. The
signature is that of one of the petitioners or of their authorized agent remains trial court expressly acknowledged in said cases that nineteen (19) checks
a mystery. From the registry receipt alone, it is possible that petitioners or their were issued by petitioners as payment for Juliet Ting's obligation. In its August
authorized agent did receive the demand letter. Possibilities, however, cannot 7, 1997 decision convicting Juliet Ting for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg.
replace proof beyond reasonable doubt. There being insufficient proof that 22, the trial court declared that "to cover the additional loans, accused (Juliet
petitioners received notice that their checks had been dishonored, the Ting) delivered 19 post-dated checks issued by Victor Ting and Emily Azajar
presumption that they knew of the insufficiency of the funds therefor cannot (p. 55, Rollo.)." The trial court's decision further provides:
arise.
Since she could not fund the other checks (Exhs. B to K), she replaced
As we stated in Savage v. Taypin (G.R. No. 134217, May 11, 2000), "penal the same with 19 post-dated checks of her husband Victor Ting and
statutes must be strictly construed against the State and liberally in favor of her sister Emily Azajar totaling P2,450,000.00. They issued the checks
the accused." Likewise, the prosecution may not rely on the weakness of the as they would take over her furniture business. The intended
evidence for the defense to make up for its own blunders in prosecuting an partnership of Victor and Emily was aborted as the latter was not
offense. Having failed to prove all the elements of the offense, petitioners may allowed to resign from her teaching post in Naga City. She then
not thus be convicted for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22. replaced the checks issued by Victor and Emily with her own checks
23 FEB post-dated checks per list (Exh. 9) prepared by Suzanne
That petitioners are civilly liable to private complainant is also doubtful. Private Azajar.
complainant claims that petitioners borrowed Nine Hundred Fifty Thousand
(P950,000.00) Pesos from her on or about the end of April 1993, in payment Despite receipt of the replacement checks, complainant refused to
of which petitioners issued several post-dated checks in her favor. The seven return the checks of Victor and Emily and even filed cases against
checks issued by petitioners as payment for the amount borrowed add up to them.
P950,000.00. If private complainant is the businesswoman that she claims to
be, she should be collecting interest on the loan she granted to petitioners. In (p. 56, Rollo.)
other words, the amount to be repaid by petitioners should be more than
P950,000.00, to account for interest on the loan. The checks issued by
Not having borrowed the amount of Nine Hundred Fifty Thousand
petitioners, however, do not provide for interest. It is thus more credible that
(P950,000.00) from private complainant, petitioners may not thus be held liable
the seven checks involved in this case form part of nineteen checks issued to
therefor.
replace the checks issued by Juliet Ting to private complainant. This
conclusion is bolstered by private complainant's admission in her reply-
affidavit that more than seven checks were issued by petitioners (p. WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is GRANTED and the
11, Original Records). In said reply-affidavit, private complainant states that assailed decision of the Court of Appeals dated February 12, 1999
"respondents issued and delivered to me in Manila several checks, which REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioners Victor Ting "Seng Dee" and Emily
partially include their seven (7) bouncing checks herein. I say 'partially' Chan-Azajar are hereby ACQUITTED of the charges against them for violation
because I will have to file additional bouncing check cases against them, as of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22, for lack of sufficient evidence to prove the offenses
these other checks likewise bounced." Furthermore, in the same reply- charged beyond reasonable doubt. No special pronouncement is made as to
affidavit, private complainant claims that the checks in question were not costs.
replaced, allegedly because the replacement checks must first be cleared,
which did not happen in this case. By implication, had the 23 Far East Bank SO ORDERED.
checks issued by Juliet Ting to replace the nineteen checks issued by
petitioners been cleared, then private complainant would have considered the
checks in question as having been replaced. This only supports our conclusion
that it was Juliet Ting who owed money to private complainant, not petitioners.

Moreover, the original debtor Juliet Ting was convicted by the Regional Trial
Court of Manila in Criminal Cases 93-126581-91 for eleven counts of violation
of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22. These eleven bouncing check cases involved the

36
G.R. No. 122427 March 13, 1997 Both deeds were registered so that on June 7, 1984, plaintiffs
were issued Transfer Certificate of Title No. 150270 (Exhibit
BENJAMIN S. LAZA, DIONISIO S. LAZA, FILOMENA S. LAZA, B).
MILAGROS S. LAZA AND JOSE S. LAZA,petitioners,
vs. On November 16, 1987, the above-named heirs of the late
COURT OF APPEALS, ELENA G. GOMEZ, ANA G. GOMEZ, CARMEN G. Agustin Gomez executed another deed settling and
GOMEZ, AGUSTIN GOMEZ, JR., PORFIRIO V. SISON, IMELDA G. partitioning other properties of their father, one of which was
GOMEZ, NORA G. GOMEZ, (the last two represented by ELENA G. a certain Lot 10-A or 215 covered by Transfer Certificate of
GOMEZ), respondents. Title No. 159347, which appeared to be located in Barangay
Poponto, Bayambang, Pangasinan (Exhibit F). In that same
HERMOSISIMA, JR. J.: deed, the said heirs conveyed this particular lot to defendant
Porfirio V. Sison as payment for professional services
This petition for review on certiorari seeks to set aside the respondent Court rendered by the latter to them (Exhibit F-2). The deed of extra-
of Appeals' decision dated October 20, 1994 which reversed the judgment judicial partition was fully registered so that the parties,
including defendant Porfirio V. Sison, were issued their
rendered by the Regional Trial Court, Branch 56 of San Carlos City
respective certificates of title, one of which was Transfer
(Pangasinan) in favor of the petitioners.
Certificate of Title No. 167909 (Exhibit G) in the name of the
latter.
Two basic issues are presented by this petition, to wit: (1) whether or not
respondent Court of Appeals erred in simply noting the petitioners' motion for
When plaintiffs discovered this transaction between the heirs
reconsideration because the motion had been belatedly filed, an Entry of
of Agustin Gomez and their co-defendant Porfirio V. Sison,
Judgment having been effected on January 24, 1995; and (2) whether or not
they filed this suit claiming to be the owner of this parcel of
respondent Court of Appeals erred in ruling that the subject property rightfully
land conveyed to the latter by virtue of Exhibit "F". Defendant
belonged to private respondent Porfirio D. Sison to whom attorney's fees in
the amount of P50,000.00 were awarded in the concept of damages and had countered that the property acquired by plaintiffs by virtue
of Exhibit "C" is not the same property conveyed to him, a fact
expenses of litigation.
easily discernible on the face of their respective titles showing
different boundaries, area and location. Whereas the property
This case arose out of an action for reconveyance with damages 1 filed by the claimed by plaintiffs is located in Barrio Buayaan,
petitioners to annul the title of private respondent Sison over Cadastral Lot 10- Bayambang, Pangasinan, defendants claim that the property
A or 215 located in Barrio Poponto, Bayambang, Pangasinan and covered by conveyed by virtue of Exhibit "F" is located in Barrio Poponto,
TCT No. 167909 in Sison's name. Bayambang, Pangasinan. Therefore, these are separate
properties (pp. 1-2 of the RTC Decision; pp. 360-361,
The antecedent facts as recounted by the trial court and adopted by the Record). 2
respondent Court of Appeals are not in dispute:
After a summary proceeding based solely on documents and affidavits, 3 the
On April 26, 1976, the heirs of the late Agustin Gomez, lower court, 4 on October 23, 1990 declared, among others, Lot 10-A or 215 as
namely: Elena, Imelda, Agustin, Jr., Nora, Ana and Carmen, the same property sold to Venustiano Tan by virtue of Exhibit "C". Thus, TCT
surnamed Gomez, executed a deed settling and partitioning No. 167909 in the name of private respondent Sison was ordered cancelled
the estate of their father which consisted of a portion of that and said respondent was further ordered to respect the title, ownership and
parcel of land with an area of 46,801 square meters (Exhibit possession of the petitioners in the subject property. 5 The full text of the
B), described in Plan H-63699 and covered by Transfer dispositive portion of the lower court's decision reads:
Certificate of Title No. 25809. On the same date, they also
executed another deed selling their aforestated share to WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered:
Venustiano Tan for a consideration of P8,000.00 (Exhibit C),
who also sold the same and the rest of the property to plaintiffs
on March 8, 1980 for consideration of P46,845.00 (Exhibit D).

37
1. Declaring Lot 10-A or Lot 215 as the same Regional Trial Court dated October 23, 1990 is REVERSED
property sold to Venustiano Tan by virtue of and SET ASIDE. A new judgment is hereby rendered as
Exhibit "C"; follows:

2. Declaring the sale, evidenced by Exhibit 1. Declaring Porfirio V. Sison as the owner of Lot 10-A (now
"C," to have precedence over Exhibit "F," 215) located at Barrio Poponto, Municipality of Bayambang,
which is hereby voided in so far as it concerns Province of Pangasinan, covered by TCT No. 167909;
Lot 10-A or Lot 215;
2. Ordering the Register of Deeds of Pangasinan to annotate
3. Cancelling Transfer Certificate of Title No. this decision at the back of TCT No. 167909;
167909 (Exhibit G);
3. Ordering plaintiffs-appellees to respect the title, ownership
4. Ordering the Register of Deeds to issue a and possession of defendant-appellant Porfirio Sison over the
new Certificate of Title in favor of plaintiffs as property in question;
replacement for Transfer Certificate of Title
No. 167909 (Exhibit G) upon payment of all 4. Ordering plaintiffs-appellees to pay defendant-appellant
lawful fees, charges and taxes; Sison the amount of P50,000.00 as attorney's fees in the
concept of damages and expenses of litigation.
5. Ordering the Register of Deeds of annotate
the Decision in CA-G.R. No. 46237-R, No pronouncement as to costs.
entitled: Agustin Gomez vs. Jose Tan, et al.,
dated December 15, 1972, on Transfer SO ORDERED. 9
Certificate of Title No. 150270 (Exhibit E) for
the purpose of showing that the property in
question is not covered by the above-stated On December 29, 1994, the respondent Court of Appeals' decision became
certificate of title issued by virtue of a final and executory. As a consequence, on January 24, 1995, an entry of
homestead patent, but by a certificate of title judgment was effected. 10
issue by virtue of a cadastral proceedings
originally adjudicated in favor of the late Meanwhile, on January 11, 1995, petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration
Agustin Gomez; of the aforesaid Court of Appeals' decision reiterating therein that the land
being claimed by private respondent Sison was the same land embraced in
6. And ordering defendants to respect the their title. The petitioners also maintained that Sison is not entitled to attorney's
title, ownership and possession of plaintiffs in fees in the concept of damages and litigation expenses. 11
the property in question.
On February 9, 1995, the Court of Appeals resolved to note petitioners' notion
There is no pronouncement as to damages, costs and for reconsideration for having been filed thirteen (13) days late. 12
attorney's fees.
On March 27, 1995, respondent Court of Appeals received, through registered
SO ORDERED. 6 mail, petitioners' Motion to Set Aside Entry of Judgment and to Order the Clerk
of Court of San Carlos City to Return the Records of the Case on the ground
that their copy of the lower court's decision was received by one Leticia Ramos
On appeal, 7 the public respondent 8 reversed and set aside the trial court's
on December 13, 1994 who, in turn, gave the envelope containing said copy
judgment and a new judgment was rendered,viz:
Judison P. Laza, the 11-year old son of petitioner Benjamin Laza. The
petitioners alleged that Judison kept the copy in a cabinet and gave it to his
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, judgment is hereby
rendered giving due course to the appeal. The decision of the

38
parents only on January 2, 1995 when he heard the latter talking about the All that the rules of procedure require in regard to service by registered mail is
case. 13 to have the postmaster deliver the same to the addressee himself or to a
person of sufficient discretion to receive the same. 18
On June 22, 1995, the respondent Court of Appeals denied the above motion
and found petitioners' excuse "narrow rod unrealistic." It also ruled that "to The petitioners insist that the eleven-year old Judison did not possess
grant the present motion to admit motion for reconsideration is virtually to admit sufficient discretion to receive the copy of the lower court's decision sent by
a prohibited second motion for reconsideration and (in effect extend) the registered mail at Benjamin Laza's residence. As to Leticia Ramos who had
mandatory period within which to file the same which is likewise not allowed signed for the receipt of the said copy caused to be delivered by the postmaster
by law." 14 at Benjamin's given address, there was no showing, at all, from the records of
the case, that Leticia was not a person of sufficient discretion to receive the
Hence, on November 9, 1995, this petition was filed presenting the following mail at the proper address appearing on the envelope which contained the
arguments: registered mail. Petitioners' claim was that she was not Benjamin's agent or
authorized representative to receive mails in his behalf. To follow petitioner's
1) That petitioners were denied due process when Court of stand would render nugatory the provisions on service by registered mail.
Every house maid or house boy or my other person other than the addressee
Appeals failed to nullify or set aside the Entry of Judgment it
of registered mail would have to have a special power-of-attorney to receive
made considering that there was misdelivery of the mail
such mail in behalf of the addressee. We agree with the respondent Court of
regarding their copy of the lower court's decision dated
Appeals' finding that petitioners' excuse for the late filing of their motion for
October 23, 1990 to Leticia Ramos who was not an agent or
authorized representative of petitioner Benjamin Laza to reconsideration was rather flimsy and unrealistic
receive mails for him; Judison to whom Leticia handed over
the copy for the petitioner was of tender age and insufficient At this juncture, it is important to note that after the respondent Court of
discretion, thus, neither could a valid delivery of the registered Appeals' Entry of Judgment in January 24, 1994, the Regional Trial Court,
mail for petitioners be made through him; 15 Branch 56 of San Carlos City (Pangasinan), on November 8 1995 granted
private respondents' motion for execution and ordered the issuance of the
corresponding writ of execution. 19
2) That respondent Court of Appeals erroneously concluded
that respondent Sison was deemed a buyer in good faith
inasmuch as there was no delivery of the land to him as No temporary restraining order having been obtained despite the filing of the
manifested in Sison's admission that the petitioners have present petition, a Writ of Execution was issued on January 11,
been in actual physical possession of the subject property, 1996. 20 Consequently, a Notice of Levy was registered with the Register of
hence, the need to require them to vacate the same through Deeds of Lingayen, Pangasinan affecting the rights and participation of the
a letter by respondent Elena Gomez addressed to petitioners' petitioners in the real properties covered by TCT Nos. 139794 and 148799. 21
father; the fact remains that the land previously and presently
held by petitioners is one and the same land being claimed by On February 16, 1996, the Sheriff's Return of the Writ of Execution dated
respondent Sison which was conveyed to him as payment for January 11, 1996 was submitted in court "FULLY SATISFIED as to par. 1 and
professional services; 16 and 2. With respect to pars. 3 and 4, (petitioners) refused to comply, hence, their
titles were levied upon and the Writ of Execution duly annotated on the back
(3) that the award of attorney's fees was improper since no of the titles concerned." 22
malice or bad faith could be attributed to the petitioners in
having filed the action for reconveyance to protest and assert On January 17, 1996, a motion to quash the writ of execution was filed by the
their propriety rights over the subject property. 17 petitioners but the lower court, a March 1, 1996, denied the same. 23

The petition is not impressed with merit. In view of the foregoing incidents relative to the case at bar and considering
that we find proper the respondent Court of Appeals' ruling that the petitioners'
motion for reconsideration was not seasonably filed, there is no doubt that the
petitioners have lost their right to appeal through this petition. We have

39
consistently held that the perfection of an appeal within the period and in the WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Petition is hereby DENIED.
manner prescribed by law is jurisdictional and non-compliance with such legal The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated October 20, 1994 is affirmed in
requirements is fatal and has the effect of rendering the judgment final and toto.
executory. 24
SO ORDERED.
Moreover, it is an axiomatic rule that in petitions for review on certiorari as a
mode of appeal under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, only questions of law
maybe raised. Our pronouncement in the case of Cormero vs. Court of
Appeals 25 bears reiteration:

At the outset, it is evident from the errors assigned that the


petition is anchored on a plea to review the factual conclusion
reached by the respondent court. Such task however is
foreclosed by the rule that in petitions for certiorari as a mode
of appeal, like this one, only questions of law distinctly set forth
may be raised. These questions have been defined as those
that do not call for any examination of the probative value of
the evidence presented by the parties. (Uniland Resources vs.
Development Bank of the Philippines, 200 SCRA 751 [1991]
citing Goduco vs. Court of Appeals, et al., 119 Phil. 531;
Hernandez vs. Court of Appeals, 149 SCRA 67). And when
this court is asked to go over he proofs presented by the
parties, and analyze, assess and weigh them to ascertain if
the trial court and the appellate court were correct in according
superior credit to this or that piece of evidence and eventually,
to the totality of the evidence of one party or the other, the
court cannot and will not do the same, (Elayda vs. Court of
Appeals, 199 SCRA 349 [1991]). Thus, in the absence of any
showing that the findings complained of are totally devoid of
support in the record, or that they are so glaringly erroneous
as to constitute serious abuse of discretion, such findings
must stand, for this court is not expected or required to
examine or contrast the oral and documentary evidence
submitted by the parties. (Morales vs, Court of Appeals, 197
SCRA 391 [1991] citing Santa Ana vs. Hernandez, 18 SCRA
973 [1966]). (Emphasis supplied).

The respondent Court of Appeals in the assailed decision had already passed
upon the ultimate issue involved in this case, i.e., whether or not the property
being claimed by the petitioners is the same land that was conveyed to private
respondent Sison. Inasmuch as the respondent Court of Appeals had
thoroughly reviewed the records of this case and had correctly pointed out
clear errors of facts and law in the lower court's decision, we are constrained
to deny this petition in the absence of any reversible error attributable to the
public respondent.

40
III. Estafa under Art. 315 (2) of the Revised Penal Code the abovenamed accused, by means of false pretenses or
fraudulent acts executed prior to or simultaneously with the
G.R. No. L-45490 November 20, 1978 commission of the fraud, with intent to defraud and knowing
that he had no money to pay, did then and there wilfully,
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, unlawfully and feloniously issue a Philippine Banking
Corporation Check No. C179 for P1,500.00 in favor of Ramon
vs.
HON. JOSE SABIO, SR., City Judge of Cagayan de Oro and RANULFO Yap dated May 31, 1976, in payment of and/or representing
M. SALAZAR, respondents. accused monthly rental of the Tanguili Night Club for April 15,
1976 to May 15, 1976, knowing fully well that said accused
had no funds in the bank or the funds deposited by him is not
CONCEPCION JR., J.: sufficient to cover the amount of said check as evidence by
the fact that when said check was presented for encashment,
For review on certiorari are: (1) the order of the City Court of Cagayan de Oro it bounces or was dishonored for reason that there is no funds
dated January 6, 1977 which granted the motion to quash the information for available and despite demands made, accused failed and
estafa filed against the accused in Criminal Case No. 33867, "People of the refused and still fails and refuses to make good or pay the
Philippines vs. Ranulfo Salazar" (L-45490); (2) the decision of the Court of same, to the damage and prejudice of the offended party in
Appeals in Case CA-G.R. No. 16195-Cr, "People of the Philippines vs. Tan the aforementioned sum of P1,500.00, Philippine Currency. 1
Tao Liap" (L-45711) which affirmed the decision of the City Court of Pasay City
convicting the accused of the crime of estafa, and (3) the order of the Court of On August 6, 1976, Ranulfo Salazar filed a motion to quash the information
First Instance of Davao City in Criminal Case No. 2023, entitled "People of the alleging:
Philippines vs. Daylinda Lagua" (L-42971) dated December 23, 1975 which
denied petitioner's motion to quash. These cases are jointly considered in view
1. That the facts charged do not constitute an offense; and
of the similarity of the issue involved and which is whether or not the issuance
of a postdated check, which is subsequently dishonored for insufficiency of
funds, in payment of a pre-existing obligation constitutes estafa as defined and 2. That the accused is not the drawer or the person who
penalized under Article 315, par. 2(d) of the Revised Penal Code as amended issued PBC Check No. C179-4555 in the amount of
by Republic Act No. 4885 and Presidential Decree No. 818. P1,500.00 subject matter of this litigation in favor of the
complainant. 2
G.R. No. L-45490
An opposition to the said motion to quash was filed by the prosecution and
after the parties were heard in oral argument, the City Court issued an order
The circumstances leading to this case are brief and undisputed. On May
dated January 6, 1977 granting the motion to quash by ruling that since the
29,1975, the complainants, Ramon Yap and Tommy Pacana, leased to the
check was issued in payment of a pre-existing obligation, no estafa was
accused, Ranulfo Salazar, the "Tanguili Night Club" situated in Cagayan de
Oro City, for the monthly rental of P2,000.00. On May 23, 1976, Ranulfo committed. Petitioner now seeks the nullity of said order on the ground that the
Salazar paid P500.00 in cash and P1,500.00 in check (PBC Check No. C179- same is not in accord with law, being an erroneous interpretation of the
provision of Article 315, paragraph 2(d) of the Revised Penal Code and of Rule
4555 postdated May 31, 1976) to Ramon Yap for the rental of the premises
112 of the Rules of Court.
corresponding to the period from April 15 to May 15, 1976. However, when the
check was presented to the bank for payment, the same was dishonored for
lack of funds to cover the same. For failure of Ranulfo Salazar to make good G.R. No. L-45711:
his obligation, complainants instituted a suit for estafa against him, and on
June 10, 1976, the First Assistant City Fiscal of Cagayan de Oro City filed with The record shows that the petitioner Tan Tao Liap and the complainant were
the City Court of Cagayan de Oro (for preliminary investigation) the following old friends. On several occasions from January to July, 1972, Tan Tao Liap
information: borrowed money from Ngo Cheng which amounted to P9,000.00. It was only
in the early part of August, 1972 that Ngo Cheng demanded from Tan Tao Liap
That on or about May 23, 1976, in Cagayan de Oro City, the payment of his indebtedness plus the sum of P500.00 as interest. 3 Tan
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, Tao Liap informed Ngo Cheng that he did not have sufficient funds to pay but

41
that he might possibly be able to settle the debt about the end of the month as June 20, 1974 amounted to P28,601.54. Demands were made for its payment
he was then expecting to receive some money at that time. Tan Tao Liap and sometime in July, 1974, Daylinda Lagua issued Equitable Banking
further proposed to pay the loan on a staggered basis and Ngo Cheng agreed Corporation Check No. 22711219A, in the amount of P30,000.00, payable to
to this proposal on the condition, however, that Tan Tao Liap would issue him Marcos Chua and postdated August 24, 1974, the difference in the amount
three (3) checks, namely: (1) Cheek No. 7-442560 dated August 24, 1972 for being the accrued interests on the amount of P28,601.54, in payment of the
P3,000.00; (2) Check No. 7442561 dated August 31, 1972 for P3,000.00 and obligation. Upon presentment after its due date, the said check was
(3) Check No. 7442562 dated September 1, 1972, for P3,500.00, all drawn dishonored by the drawee bank for insufficient funds. Accordingly, a letter was
against his account with the Consolidated Bank and Trust Company at Soler sent to Daylinda Lagua demanding payment therefor, but she failed to pay.
St., Manila. 4 The first check was deposited by Ngo Cheng with the Associated Consequently, an information was filed before the Court of First Instance of
Bank at Pasay City and it was duly paid and cleared by the Consolidated Bank Davao City charging her with estafa, defined and penalized under Article 315,
as Tan Tao Liap was able to deposit sufficient funds to cover the par. 2(d) of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 4885,
same. 5 Subsequently, however, Tan Tao Liap suffered business reverses and committed as follows:
so what he did was to inform Ngo Cheng not to deposit the second and third
checks which were to mature on August 31, 1972 and September 1, 1972, That on or about August 24, 1974, in the City of Davao,
respectively, because of his inability to raise the amounts to cover said checks. Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
As an alternative, Tan Tao Liap proposed to pay the balance in monthly the above-mentioned accused, well knowing that she did not
installments of P300.00 until such time that he could raise enough funds. Ngo have sufficient funds in the bank, did then and there willfully,
Cheng, however, turned down the offer and even told Tan Tao Liap that he unlawfully and feloniously and with intent to gain issue and
was going to file a criminal case against him if he failed to deposit the amount made out an Equitable Banking Corporation Check No.
for the two remaining checks. 6 At the instance of Ngo Cheng, Tan Tao Liap 22711219A dated August 24, 1974 in the amount of
was charged by the City Fiscal of Pasay City with the crime of estafa on P30,000.00 in payment of an obligation from the Gempesaw
January 24, 1973 for issuing the third check (No. 7-442562, dated September Hardware owned by Marcos Chua; that upon presentation of
1, 1972, for P3,500.00) which was dishonored for lack of funds. the above-mentioned check to the bank for encashment, the
same was dishonored for insufficiency of funds and despite
On November 9, 1973, the City Court rendered its decision convicting Tan Tao repeated demands made upon said accused to make good
Liap of the crime of estafa despite its finding that the check was issued in the above-mentioned check, the same refused and failed to
payment of a pre-existing obligation. 7 Subsequently, Tan Tao Liap appealed make payment, to the damage and prejudice of the said
the said decision to the Court of Appeals. However, on October 26, 1976, the Gempesaw Hardware owned by Marcos Chua in the
Court of Appeals rendered judgment affirming that of the City Court of Pasay aforementioned amount of P30,000.00. 8
City. Not satisfied with the decision of the Court of Appeals, Tan Tao Liap now
seeks a review thereof by this Court alleging that: The case was docketed in the Court of First Instance of Davao City as Criminal
Case No. 2023.
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN CONSTRUING
ARTICLE 315 OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE AS Upon arraignment, Daylinda Lagua pleaded not guilty. Thereafter, trial
HOLDING PETITIONER LIABLE FOR ESTAFA FOR proceeded and the prosecution adduced its evidence, after which the accused
HAVING ISSUED A BAD CHECK EVEN IF THE CHECK HAD filed a motion to dismiss the case, 9 claiming that upon the facts adduced in
BEEN ISSUED IN PAYMENT OF A PRE-EXISTING DEBT. the case, it would appear that the postdated check was issued in payment of
a pre-existing obligation and, therefore, no estafa was committed according to
G.R No. L-42971: the rule enunciated in the cases of People vs. Lilius 10 and People vs.
Fortuno. 11
The petitioner, Daylinda A. Lagua, is engaged in the logging business in Davao
City under the business name "Manuel P. Lagua Logging Enterprises". Since The prosecution opposed the motion alleging that the rule stated in
October of 1973, the Lagua Enterprises had been buying their logging supplies the Lilius case been superseded by Republic Act No. 4885, so that the crime
and hardware on credit from the Gempesaw Hardware in Davao City, of estafa is committed upon the issuance of a postdated check, subsequently
managed by Marcos Chua. The items delivered on credit to the Lagua dishonored, whether the issuance be in payment of a pre-existing obligation,
Enterprises by the Gempesaw Hardware for the period from October, 1973 to

42
or for an obligation contracted at the time the check was issued, when the presumption was included. The pertinent provisions of the law, as amended,
issuance is attended by deceit constituting false pretense or fraudulent act. 12 now reads:

The motion to dismiss the case was denied on December 23, 1975, 13 and the Art. 315. Swindling(estafa). Any person who shall defraud
motion for its reconsideration 14 was also denied on February 2, another by any of the means mentioned hereinbelow shall be
1976. 15 Whereupon, Daylinda Lagua instituted the present petition. punished by:

As stated, the issue for determination is whether or not the issuance of a xxx xxx xxx
postdated check, which is subsequently dishonored for insufficiency of funds,
in payment of a pre-existing obligation, constitutes estafa as defined and 2. By means of any of the following false pretenses or
penalized under Article 315, par. 2(d) of the Revised Penal Code, as amended fraudulent acts executed prior to or simultaneously with the
by Republic Act No. 4885 and Presidential Decree No. 818. commission of the fraud:

Prior to its amendment, Article 315, par. 2(d) of the Revised Penal Code, read: xxx xxx xxx

Art. 315. Swindling (estafa). Any person who shall defraud (d) By postdating a check, or issuing a check in payment of an
another by any of the means mentioned hereinbelow shall be obligation when the offender had no funds in the bank, or his
punished by: funds deposited therein were not sufficient to cover the
amount of the check. The failure of the drawer of the check to
xxx xxx xxx deposit the amount necessary to cover his check within three
(3) days from receipt of notice from the bank and/or the payee
2. By means of any of the following false pretenses or or holder that said check has been dishonored for lack or
fraudulent acts executed prior to or simultaneously with the insufficiency of funds shall be prima facie evidence of deceit
commission of the fraud: constituting false pretense or fraudulent act.

xxx xxx xxx A comparative analysis of the two provisions will readily show that what has
been established under the amendment is the prima facie evidence of deceit
constituting false pretense or fraudulent act in case the drawer fails to deposit
(d) By postdating a check, or issuing a check in payment of an
the necessary amount within three (3) days from notice of dishonor from the
obligation the offender knowing that at the time he had no
bank and/or payee or holder of the check. Likewise, the amendment has
funds in the bank, or the funds deposited by him were not
sufficient to cover the amount of the check, and without eliminated the requirement under the previous provision for the drawer to
informing the payee of such circumstances. inform the payee that he had no funds in the bank or the funds deposited by
him were not sufficient to cover the amount of the check. 17 Moreover, what is
significant to note is that the time or occasion for the commission of the false
Under said provisions, it was the rule that the mere issuance of a check with pretense or fraudulent act has not at all been changed by the amendment. The
knowledge on the part of the drawer that he had no funds to cover its amount false pretense or fraudulent act must be executed prior
and without informing the payee of such circumstances, does not constitute to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud. Thus, under Article 315,
the crime of estafa if the check was intended as payment of a pre-existing paragraph 2(d) of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No.
obligation. The reason for the rule is that deceit, to constitute estafa, should be 4885, the following are the elements of estafa: (1) postdating or issuance of a
the efficient cause of the defraudation and as such should either be prior to, or check in payment of an obligation contracted at the time the cheek was issued;
simultaneous with the act of fraud. 16 (2) lack or insufficiency of funds to cover the check; and (3) damage to the
payee thereof. Now, it is asked: Is there deceit and damage when a bad check
In 1967, the law was amended by Republic Act No. 4885, eliminating the is issued in payment of a pre-existing obligation? It is clear that under the law,
phrases "the offender knowing that at the time he had no funds in the bank" the false pretense or fraudulent act must be executed prior to or
and " without informing the payee of such circumstances. " However, a simultaneously with the commission of the fraud. To defraud is to deprive some

43
right, interest, or property by deceitful device. 18 In the issuance of a check as and public accusation of a crime. 28 The City Court, therefore, acted within its
payment for a pre-existing debt, the drawer derives no material benefit in return jurisdiction in granting the motion to quash the information filed in this case.
as its consideration had long been delivered to him before the check was
issued. In short, the issuance of the check was not a means to obtain a WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered:
valuable consideration from the payee. Deceit, to constitute estafa should be
the efficient cause of the defraudation. 19 Since an obligation has already been
1. Dismissing the petition in case G.R. No. L-45490 for lack of merit;
contracted, it cannot be said that the payee parted with his property or that the
drawer has obtained something of value as a result of the postdating or
issuance of the bad check in payment of a pre-existing obligation. 20 2. Reversing the decision of the Court of Appeals in case G.R. No. L-45711,
and acquitting the petitioner of the crime charged; and
Finally, considering the absence of an express provision in the law, the
postdating or issuance of a bad check in payment of a pre-existing obligation 3. Dismissing Criminal Case No. 2023, entitled "People vs. Daylinda Lagua."
cannot be penalized as estafa by means of deceit, otherwise, the legislature
could have easily worded the amendatory act to that effect. Since the language No pronouncement as to costs.
of the law is plain and unambiguous, We find no justification in entering into
further inquiries for the purpose of ascertaining the legislative SO ORDERED.
intent. 21 Moreover, laws that impose criminal liability are strictly
construed. 22 The rule, therefore, that the issuance of a bouncing check in
payment of a pre-existing obligation does not constitute estafa has not at all
been altered by the amendatory act. 23

The issue of jurisdiction was also raised by the petitioner in the case of People
vs. Sabio, G.R. No. L-45490. It is contended that the City Court, acting
pursuant to its authority to conduct preliminary investigations, cannot dismiss
the case as a motion to quash can only be availed of in a regular trial where
the court has jurisdiction to try the offense. It is further alleged that the purpose
of a preliminary investigation is merely to determine a probable cause and not
to rule on difficult questions of law. We see no merit in these contentions. There
is no dispute that the information was filed before the City Court for purposes
of preliminary investigation only, as the offense falls under the exclusive
jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance. The check involved amounts to
P1,500.00, hence, the imposable penalty for the offense is prision mayor in its
medium period or an imprisonment ranging from eight (8) years and one (1)
day to ten (10) years. 24 Under Section 78 of Republic Act No. 521, as
amended by Republic Act No. 3969, the City Court of Cagayan de Oro City is
authorized to conduct preliminary investigation. 25 When a power is conferred
upon a court or judicial officer, it is deemed that all the means necessary to
carry it into effect are included therein. 26 The power, therefore, conferred upon
the City Court of Cagayan de Oro City to conduct preliminary investigations
carries with it the power to draw a conclusion after the investigation. It has
been held that in the preliminary investigation proper, the Justice of the Peace
may discharge the defendant if he finds no probable cause to hold the
defendant for trial. But if he finds a probable cause, it is his duty to bind over
the defendant to the Court of First Instance for trial on the merits. 27 Moreover,
the purpose of a preliminary investigation is to secure the innocent against
hasty, malicious and oppressive prosecutions, and to protect him from open

44
Separate Opinions The doctrine relied upon by the majority was first enunciated in People vs.
Lilius, 59 Phil. 339 thus:
BARREDO, J., concurring and dissenting:
Inasmuch as these last three cheeks Exhibits B, C and F were
I dissent because I believe that the doctrine on which the majority opinion issued in payment of a debt, even granting that the appellant
predicates its conclusion in all these three cases bears reexamination and issued them without sufficient funds to cover the amount
should in fact be abandoned. With particular reference, however, to G. R. No. thereof, and furthermore, that he acted fraudulently in issuing
L-45711, I concur in the acquittal of the petitioner Tan Tao Liap on other them, such act does not constitute the offense of estafa. The
grounds hereunder stated. appellant obtained nothing under said checks. His debt, for
the payment of which said checks were issued, had been
contracted prior to such issuance. Hence the deceit, if there
To my mind, the proposition that the issuing of a bouncing check in payment
was any in the issuance of the questioned checks, did not
of a pre-existing obligation is not estafa is as inaccurate in theory as it is
unrealistic. It is not in accord with the juridical concept of criminal fraud; it precede the defraudation. On the other hand, the record does
ignores the injury to the public interest involved in the impairment of the not show that the debt had been contracted through fraud.
(Decisions of the Supreme Court of Spain of December 18,
acceptability and negotiability of checks as an instrument of trading and
1889, June 9, 1891, and January 16, 1906.)
commerce which can conceivably approximate the economic havoc that could
arise from loss of confidence in treasury notes as legal tender.
Later, in People vs. Quesada, 60 Phil. 515, the ruling was:
I am almost certain that the whole business community in the Philippines will
be shocked by the seeming apathy of the Court in the face of the widespread Under the Revised Penal Code postdating a check, or issuing
clamor for relief from the appalling situation which bouncing checks have it in payment of an obligation, the offender knowing that at the
brought about in our country. Mr. Norberto Katigbak whom the Court has time he had no funds in the bank, or the funds deposited by
designated as amicus curiaeprecisely to assess Us on the effects of that him in the bank were not sufficient to cover the amount of the
unquestionably irregular and injurious practice on commerce and finance has check, and without informing the payee of such circumstances
underlined the staggering data that the amount involved in it had already (Posfechando un cheque, o librandolo contra un banco en
reached 200 million pesos daily before the Central Bank banned overdrafts, pago de una obligacion, sabiendo que al tiempo de hacerlo
after which the amount went down to the still enormous total of from 50 to 80 no tenia fondos, o no los tenia suficientes en dicho banco, sin
millions daily, and there is no telling it will not rise again. To be sure, the advertir de tales circumstancias al tomador) is not a crime in
Supreme Court is not supposed to yield to the demands of any particular sector itself. It is a part of article 315, which defines and punishes
interested in the outcome of a case not even to apparent public opinion- various forms of estafa or swindling. The payee or the person
where the tenor and meaning of existing legislation does not permit such receiving the check must be defrauded by the act of the
accommodation. Generally, the needed remedy in such happenstance would offender (article 315, No. 2[d], Revised Penal Code). To
lie within the province of the legislature. But when a situation that by its nature defraud is to deprive of some right, interest, or property by a
ought to be covered by the criminal law tends to turn from bad to worse deceitful device, and No. 2 of article 315 provides that the
because of a judicial construction of the pertinent codal or statutory provisions false pretenses or fraudulent acts therein mentioned must be
leaving the door open to the perpetration with impunity of an act that is within executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the
the general character of the prohibited ones, I feel very strongly that the Court fraud.
should take a second hard look at its past pronouncements and try to see if
there is, within the ambit of its authority, any logical and realistic way of meeting Still later, in People vs. Fortuno, 73 Phil. 407, it appeared that appellant "Fidel
the emerging or ensuing evil, playing, as it were, the role that a legendary little Fortuno rented from 'El Hogar Filipino' a room in the Crystal Arcade; and the
girl did to plug a hole in dikes of Holland. Indeed, it cannot be doubted that the rental having become due, he issued in favor of the latter a check for P60
proliferation of bouncing checks has been due to the immunity that the doctrine drawn against the Bank of the Commonwealth. This cheek was, upon
of no-estafa-in-bouncing-checks-issued-in-payment-of-pre-existing- presentation to the bank for payment, dishonored for lack of funds." Holding
obligations has created in favor of criminal opportunists. It is high time We that there was no estafa under these circumstances. this Court ruled:
examined and studied such doctrine again to find out if it is really as sound as
it should be and to scuttle it if it is not so.

45
The issuance of a check with knowledge on the part of the existing obligation is just the equivalent of drawing and issuing a promissory
drawer that he has no funds to cover its amount and without note, which when unpaid on its due date gives rise to only a civil liability.
informing the payee of such circumstances, does not
constitute the crime of estafa if the cheek was intended as I do not see it that way. When someone makes a promise to pay a pre-existing
payment of a pre-existing obligation, as in the instant case. obligation on a given date, whether such promise be verbal or in writing as
The reason for this rule is that deceit, to constitute estafa, in a promissory note it is obvious that the creditor takes it as nothing more
should be the efficient cause of the defraudation and as such than an assurance let us concede based however on a mere expectancy,
should either be prior to, or simultaneous with, the act of fraud. such that when the expectancy fails to materialize and the debtor does not
(Cf. People vs. Lilius, 59 Phil., 339, 342; People vs. Quesada, pay, the creditor does not feel deceived, even if he is naturally disappointed.
60 Phil., 515,520.) Indeed, the creditor may in such event even suffer some kind of damage, as,
when in anticipation of the promised payment, he contracts his own obligations
Accordingly, the majority now holds that "(S)ince (in the circumstances predicated on the fulfillment of the promise and then he cannot comply
contemplated) an obligation has already been contracted, it cannot be said because the promised payment does not materialize. Still, there would be no
that the payee parted with his property or that the drawer has obtained estafa, simply because in that case, there is no deceit but only the frustration
something of value as a result of the post-dating or issuance of the bad check of a hope born of the best of intentions.
in payment of a pre-existing obligation."
But there is no parity between a promissory note, on the one hand, and a
In other words, the majority asserts in effect that when a check issued in check, on the other. A check is a formal and definite representation that the
payment of a pre-existing obligation bounces, the payee suffers no drawer has money in the bank sufficient to cover the amount thereof on the
defraudation. I submit that such view does not conform with the more realistic date appearing thereon or whenever it should be duly presented to the bank
juridical concept of defraudation in the jurisprudence on estafa, which is for encashment. It does not merely connote an expectancy, it is a positive
undoubtedly more in consonance with the moral implications of the admittedly assertion of a fact, in the sense of an unconditional or absolute assurance that
deceitful act involved and, importantly, with the negotiability and acceptability there would not be any hindrance to its being honored by the drawee bank.
that checks should maintain as an indispensable instrument of convenience This fundamental point is to me self-evident.
and security in trade and commerce.
Now, as I have already stated, the act of issuing a check when the drawer
There can be no debate in that the "postdating or issuing of a check in payment knows he does not have sufficient funds that can cover the amount thereof in
of an obligation when the offender had no funds therein, or his funds deposited the bank constitutes deceit, a false pretense, a fraudulent act. Under the law,
therein were not sufficient to cover the amount of the check" is a false pretense all that is needed to make it criminal and a estafa is that there be proof of
or a fraudulent act, which in itself is already something to abhore. It is so damage. And in this regard, the majority holds that "in the issuance of a check
characterized by Article 315, 2(d) of the Revised Penal Code. This truth as payment for a pre-existing obligation, the drawer derives no material benefit
notwithstanding, the existing jurisprudence in this Court which the majority in return as its consideration had long been delivered to him before the check
wants to perpetuate holds that there is no estafa when the obligation that is was issued", for which reason, following Lilius, Quesada and Fortuno, it is
paid is a pre-existing one, for two reasons: (1) in such an instance, there is no claimed there is no estafa, since "the issuance of the check was not a means
damage or injury caused to the creditor and (2) the damage or injury that might to obtain a valuable consideration from the payee. "
be suffered by the payee, if any, would always be subsequent to the issuing of
the check, hence the defraudation would not be prior to or simultaneous with Again, I disagree. The majority's pose ignores the rule long settled in this
the false pretense of issuing a worthless check as required by the text of the jurisdiction as early as 1907 that damage in estafa does not have to be
first part of Article 315, 2 (d) qouted in the majority opinion. either pecuniary or material. Disturbance of property rights is enough. (United
States vs. Goyonochea, 8 Phil. 117; United States vs. Malong, 36 Phil. 821;
I cannot agree. As I see it, the flaw in such holding springs from the fact that it United States vs. Sevilla, 43 Phil. 186 and People vs. Santiago, 54 Phil. 814.)
unnecessarily relates the requisite defraudation or damage only and In Santiago, supra, there was a reverse situation, because it was the accused
exclusively to the pre-existing obligation, which naturally precedes the issuing who thru false pretenses was able to secure a check which however he never
of the check and remains in a general sense unaffected by its bouncing. Thus, cashed or used. The Court held that although the check was not cashed, there
it is argued in some quarters that the issuing of a check in payment of a pre- was damage sufficient estafa since in the meanwhile before the check could
be cancelled, the drawer was unable to make use of the amount covered

46
thereby, which is a realistic view. Now, similarly, it cannot be disputed that the been left out without any punitive sanction by the lawmakers, thereby
receipt of a check by any person in payment of an obligation creates a new deliberately leaving the same not only unpunished but, on the contrary,
situation in the property rights of the recipient not only in relation to the encouraged, to the great detriment of the commercial and banking community.
satisfaction of the very obligation supposed to be paid but also in his other I deny that those who framed the Revised Penal Code could have been guilty
transactions and activities which somehow might have been made to depend of such an unpardonable omission, especially when it is considered that
precisely on the encashment of the check. The subsequent realization that the precisely to be sure that no fraudulent act should escape due punishment, in
check is worthless correspondingly disturbs that situation. Thus, as very wisely Article 318, the Code expressly penalizes "any person who shall defraud or
held in the cases just cited, it cannot be truly said that the creditor is not damage another by any other deceit not mentioned in the preceding articles of
damaged by the deceitful act of issuing the check with knowledge that it is this chapter". In other words, read properly, the Revised Penal Code punishes
worthless. I should also add importantly, it is not necessary that some material as estafa all kinds of frauds and false pretenses causing damage to another.
benefit should have been derived by the debtor from his fraudulent act. In my humble view, therefore, the seeming impotency today of those aggrieved
According to Viada, quoting from the decision of the Supreme Court of Spain by the issuance of bouncing checks to prosecute those responsible therefor is
of April 7, 1888: not in truth due to any fault of those who made the law. It is the jurisprudence
faulty, in my considered opinion the majority is upholding that is to blame.
CUESTION 2. Sera condicion precisa del delito de estafa que In a word, the remedy is in Our hands. I cannot see any reason why We cannot
con ella logre su autor un lucrodeterminado, a bastara que act a accordingly, when it is part of Our responsibility to see to it that the laws
con la misma se haya inferido un perjuicio a otra persona? are construed and interpreted to enhance and protect the public interest. It is
El Tribunal Supreme ha declarado que basta esto ultimo: high time We tore down the sanctuary We have accorded
'Considerando que no es condicion integrante del delito de veritable estafadores and engaadores thru Our decisions in the past, unless
estafa que su autor reporte para si propio determinado o We are prepared to be entrapped in a pocket of quicksand of Our own making.
conocido lucro, sino que se realiza siempre que por virtud de
engao generico o especifico, o de acto estimado por la Ley The foregoing discussion makes it unnecessary for me to elucidate at length
equivalente, se causa intencionalmente perjuicio a otra on the effects of the so-called Padilla amendment. I can only say that said
persona en su patrimonio, etc. (S. de 17 de Abril de 1888, amendment has correspondingly facilitated the prosecution of any violation of
Gaceta de 4 de agosto.) (6 Viada, Codigo Penal Comentado, Article 315, 2 (d) by providing for a presumption of bad faith in the event a
374.) check is not made good within the three-day period therein prescribed, where
payee has not been duly advised, upon its issuance, of a possibility that the
In other words, the defraudation in the estafa thru fraudulent acts defined in same might not be fully funded. But it is not clear to me that the presumption
the Penal Code does not necessarily refer to the taking by the accused from it has thus created can be deemed to retroact to the time of the contracting of
the offended party of anything as long as the latter suffers some kind of the pre-existing obligation, as seems to be the theory being upheld in some
damage in consequence of his false pretense. respectable sectors of the judiciary and of the bar.

Stated otherwise, my fundamental position is that the Court does not have to My vote, therefore, is to grant the petition in G. R. No. L-45490 and to order
adhere to the precedents in Lilius, Quesada and Fortuno, but on the contrary, respondent court to proceed with the trial of the accused, Ranulfo M. Salazar,
should overrule them, because the damage or injury that should be the for estafa under Article 315, 2 (d) as construed above; and to deny also the
criterion in determining whether or not there is estafa when a bouncing check petition in G. R. No. L-42971 and to sustain the order of denial complained of.
is issued in payment of a pre-existing obligation need not be that related to the
pre-existing obligation but rather, to that suffered by the creditor subsequent In G. R. No. L-45711, I concur in the judgment acquitting the petitioner Tan
to the issuing of the check. Under this view, it is obvious that as required by Tao Liap, not because of the doctrine of pre-existing obligations but on the
Article 315, 2 (d), the false pretense or fraudulent act of issuing the fundless ground that his issuance of the checks in question was practically the product
check is prior to the damage or defraudation. of coercion and so, faced with the inability to make good two of said checks,
he frankly informed the payee, his creditor, before the latter could negotiate
It is to me inconceivable that with all the care, wisdom and perspicacity that the same, of the business reverses he had suffered, thereby showing good
went into the preparation of the Revised Penal Code, such a widely known faith. There was actually no deceit in this case.
malpractice of issuing bouncing checks necessarily causing damage to the
parties concerned, if only in the disturbance of their property rights, could have

47
ANTONIO, J., dissenting: business or imaginary transactions: or by means of other
similar deceits. (Emphasis supplied.)
I dissent for the following reasons:
This is the class of estafa committed through fraudulent means, to wit, use of
The decision of the Supreme Court of Spain of December 18, 1889, which was fictitious names, etc. in order to obtain gain or advantage. As a general rule, in
the basis of the rule enunciated inPeople v. Lilius 1 that the deceit must order to constitute deceit there must be a false representation to a matter of
precede and be the efficient cause of the defraudation, was actually predicated fact, a positive assertion of falsehood which false statement or fraudulent
on the provisions of Article 548 of the Spanish Penal Code. The same is true representation must necessarily be made prior to or simultaneously with the
with the decisions of the Supreme Court of Spain of June 9, 1891 and January delivery of the property, it being essential that such deceit, or fraudulent
16, 1906, cited in the Lilius case. representation constitute the very cause or the only motive which induces the
offended party to part with the thing.
Article 548 of the Spanish Penal Code states:
Thus, delivery by the drawer to the payee of a fictitious draft with a fixed period
for payment in exchange for a sum of money received from the latter, the
1. El que derraudare a otros usando de nombre fingido,
drawer having neither credit nor funds at the place and with the person against
atribuyendose poder, influencia o cualidades supuestas,
whom the bill is drawn, payment being refused upon due presentation, was
aparentando bienes, credito, comision, empresa o
held as estafa under Article 535, No. 1, of the old Penal Code penalizing fraud
negociaciones imaginarias, o valiendose de cualquier otro
thru false pretenses. 2 Similarly, where checks are issued by the defendant
engao semejante que no sea de los expresados en los casos
and he receives the money for them, and then he stops payment on the checks
siguentes.
and does not return the money, and at the time he cashed the checks he
intended to stop payment on them, the same was also considered
The afore-cited paragraph I of Article 548 of the Spanish Penal Code is the asestafa under the same penal provision. 3 The Court also considered the
same as paragraph 1 of Article 535 of the Penal Code of Spain which was in following as instances of estafa under false pretenses, viz.: (a) where one
force in the Philippines until the Penal Code was revised. Article 535, signs a check with a fictitious name, falsely pretending that said check could
paragraph 1 of the Penal Code provides: be encashed, and then on the strength of such false pretense, obtains from
the offended party money in exchange for the worthless check, he is guilty
The penalties prescribed by the next preceding article shall be of estafa under the aforesaid article; 4 or (b) where a person falsely signs a
imposed upon: check as an unremarried widow for the purpose of encashing a U.S. Veterans
pension check, although her right to the pension has been extinguished
(1) Any person who shall defraud another by the use of any because of her remarriage, she is also guilty of estafa under this article. 5
fictitious name, or by falsely pretending to possess any power,
influence, qualification, property, credit, agency, or business, Since the issuance of worthless checks in exchange for cash or other valuable
or by means of any similar deceit other than those hereinafter consideration was already considered as estafa under false pretenses defined
enumerated. in paragraph 1 of Article 535 of the Penal Code which was in force in the
Philippines, it would therefore be more in conformity with logic and sound
The same penal proviso is now embodied in paragraph 2(a) of Article 315 of reason to conclude that Act No. 3313 which was approved on December 3,
the Revised Penal Code which provides: 1926 was intended to cover other fraudulent acts Act No. 3313 was
incorporated as paragraph 10 of Article 535 of the old Penal Code. It provides
2. By means of any of the following false pretenses or thus:
fraudulent acts executed prior to or simultaneously with the
commission of the fraud: Art. 535. The penalties prescribed by the next preceding
article shall be imposed upon:
(a) By using fictitious name, or falsely pretending to possess
power, influence, qualifications, property, credit, agency, xxx xxx xxx

48
10. Any person who in his own name or as an officer or However, in People v. Fortuno, 6 citing People v. Quesada, 7 and People v.
member of a corporation, entity, or partnership shall issue a Lilius, supra, it was held that the issuance of a worthless check intended as
check or any other commercial document against a bank payment of a pre-existing obligation is not estafa, as the deceit should be the
established or that may hereafter be established in these efficient cause of the defraudation and as such it must be prior to or
Islands in payment of a debt, or for any other valuable simultaneous with the commission of the fraud.
consideration knowing that he does not have at the time of its
issuance sufficient provision of funds in the bank to cover its It was precisely to rectify this anamalous situation that Senate Bill No. 413 was
amount or, having such funds, shall maliciously and introduced by Senator Ambrosio Padilla. Thus, the explanatory note of Senate
feloniously sign his check differently from the signature Bill No. 413 reads:
registered at the bank as his authentic signature, in order that
the bank shall refuse to pay the same; or shall issue a
The issuance of checks as negotiable instruments has
postdated check and at the date set for the payment of it, the
been abused by persons who have no bank deposits or have
drawer of the check does not have sufficient deposit in the
insufficient funds to cover the amounts of said checks. This
bank to pay for the check. And any person who shall endorse bad practice has been utilized by drawers of checks
in his own name or as an officer or member of a corporation, to defraud innocent payees or indorsees. It disturbs banking
entity or partnership a check or any other commercial
transactions. It impairs the negotiability of checks. It is true
document payable upon demand or at some subsequent
that a check may be dishonored without any fraudulent
date knowing that the drawer of the instrument does not have
pretense or fraudulent act of the drawer. Hence, the drawer is
sufficient funds in the bank against which it was drawn. (As
given three days to make good the said check by depositing
added by Act No. 3313. Emphasis supplied.) the necessary funds to cover the amount thereof. Otherwise,
a prima facie presumption will arise as to the existence of
A careful analysis of the provisions of paragraph 10 of Article 535 will indicate fraud, which is an element of the crime of estafa.
that the estafa defined and penalized under paragraph 10 of distinct and
different from the estafa thru false pretenses defined and penalized in
The public interest, particularly the regularity of
paragraph 1 of the same article. Thus, under paragraph 10 of Article 535, " the commercial payments thru checks, would justify the
issuance of a check or any other commercial document against a bank ... in
immediate approval of this bill. (Emphasis supplied.)
payment of a debt, or for any other valuable consideration", where the person
issuing it (1) knows that he does not have at the time of its issuance sufficient
funds in the bank to cover the amount of the check; or (2) having such funds, In his brief sponsorship speech, Sen. Padilla stated:
shall maliciously and feloniously sign his check differently from the signature
registered at the bank as his authentic signature, in order that the bank shall In the same vein, it has been held that if the check is used in
refuse to pay the check; or (3) postdates the check, and "at the time set for the payment of an existing obligation, it can not be considered
payment of it, the drawer of the checkdoes not have sufficient deposit in the as estafa, even if the obligor had the fraudulent intent of
bank to pay for the check" constitutes swindling or estafa and, therefore, issuing a check without funds and he knows that his check will
subject to penal sanctions. The phrase "in payment of a debt" presupposes be dishonored by the drawee bank. Now, this practice of
the existence of a prior obligation for the extinguishment or payment of which issuing bouncing checks has had a very deleterious effect on
the check is issued. The fraud, therefore, consists in the fraudulent payment our commercial transaction(s). As a matter of fact, even tax
of the obligation, not in the contracting of the obligation. The false pretense or obligations are being paid by taxpayers whose checks are not
fraudulent act of issuing the worthless check to pay the obligation precedes good. And it has been reported once that even the Bureau of
the damage, which precisely materialized upon the dishonor of the check. Internal Revenue has received a number of checksamounting
to substantial amounts which are covered by bad checks, and
The Code Committee, in revising the Spanish Penal Code on estafa, placed the drawers of these checks are really animated by fraudulent
paragraph 10 of Article 535 of the old Penal Code as Section 2, paragraph (d) intent to deceive the payee, to disturb banking
of Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code. The phrase "in payment of a debt, transactionsand to impair the negotiability and acceptability of
or any other valuable consideration" in Act No. 3313 was simplified by the cheeks as negotiable instruments.
Code committee and substitutedwith the phrase "in payment of an obligation".

49
I was paying once certain fees to the City of Manila with my this provision as a mere surplusage, because this overt act is already covered
check, thru a messenger and I was informed that my check, by paragraph 2(a) of the same Article 315.
or other checks of the same import, would not be acceptable
because the fees should be paid in cash. I believe that this is Senate Bill No. 413, as approved by the Senate and concurred in by the House
not a good practice, because we should encourage the use of of Representatives, was signed into law by President Ferdinand E. Marcos on
checks. However, if the use of checks can June 17, 1967, and became Republic Act No. 4885. Subsequently, on October
be abused and misused without any liability on the part of the 22, 1975, President Marcos promulgated Presidential Decree No.
drawer and to the great prejudice of the payee, then 818, increasing the penalties for estafa committed thru the issuance of
this obnoxious practice of not accepting checks even in bouncing checks.
the payment of taxes and fees may become the rule.
The provisions of paragraph 2 of Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code,
So, Mr. President, I submit that public interest, particularly invoked as the basis of the contention that the check should be issued and
the regularity of commercial payments by checks, would delivered prior to or simultaneously with the contracting of the obligation,
justify the amendment of Article 315, Section 2, paragraph (d) states: "By means of any of the following false pretenses or fraudulent
of the Revised Penal Code as proposed in this bill. acts executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud." It
(Congressional Record of the Senate, Vol. II, No. 37, p. 932: must be noted that the phrase "that the obligation must be contracted at the
pp. 2-3 of xerox copy of Congressional Record submitted by time of the issuance of the check" does not appear in any text of the law. 8
the Solicitor General, Emphasis supplied.)
The term "fraud", in its general sense, is deemed to comprise anything
Senator Padilla: ... The intention precisely is to discourage calculated to deceive, including all acts, omissions, and concealment involving
persons from making use of this device of issuing checks a breach of legal or equitable duty, trust, or confidence justly reposed, resulting
not to pay their just obligations but to embarrass the payee in damage to another, or by which an undue and unconscientious advantage
as well as commercial transactions. (at p. 935, see p. 9 of is taken of another. 9 The term "commission of the fraud" means the
xerox copy of Congressional Record submitted by the Solicitor "swindling" or defraudation of the victim, who is the payee of the bouncing
General; Memorandum of Amicus Curiae, pp. 12-13. check. The word "fraud" does not refer to the "false pretense or the fraudulent
Emphasis supplied.) act", for that would be redundancy or surplusage.

It was, therefore, obvious from the discussions on the floor of the Senate that The contracting of an obligation necessarily carries with it a promise to pay
it was the intention of Congress to eliminate the two defenses available under such obligation. Thus, when a person borrows money from another or
the old provision which practically nullified the penal sanction of estafa thru the purchases a thing on credit, he does so always with the promise to pay the
issuance of bouncing checks, to wit: (a) that the check was issued in payment debt or the article purchased. This promise may be an honest one, made in all
of a pre-existing obligation; or (b) that the drawer of the check informed the good faith, with the clear intention of fulfilling it. Thus, if such good faith is
payee that his funds deposited in the bank may not be sufficient to cover the shown, mere delay or inability to pay later on due to unavoidable
amount of his check. The clear legislative intent was to penalize as estafa not circumstances on the part of the debtor does not make him criminally liable
only the issuance of a worthless check at the time of contracting an obligation, for estafa. On the other hand, the promise may be a fraudulent one, made in
but also the payment in a fraudulent manner of an obligation already existing. bad faith, with no intention to pay the debt at all, even from the beginning. In
The provision in question is not only concerned with the offense of obtaining such a case, the promise is a mere false pretense, a positive assertion of
money or property by false pretense. The making or uttering of the check and falsehood to induce the creditor to lend the money or the trader to deliver the
its dishonor is sufficient. For defraudation can take place not only at the time goods. This "false pretense" would be prior to or simultaneous with the
of contracting the obligation, but also at the time it is supposed to be paid. This contracting of the obligation. There cannot be any doubt that in such a case,
fact is reflected by the procedural rule that the venue for the crime of estafa the false pretense may be considered as the very cause or the only motive
may be either in the place where the obligation was contracted or in the place which induced the offended party to part with the thing. This could be a case
where the check is dishonored. To hold that it is only the issuance of a of estafa under Article 315, paragraph 2(d) of the Revised Penal Code.
bouncing check at the time of contracting the obligation that is punishable
under paragraph 2(d) of Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code would render

50
But fraudulent intent may not be easily ascertainable, in the absence of any the part of the drawer that he has funds in the hand of the drawee for its
overt act. Since fraud is a state of mind, it need not be proved by direct payment or presentation. 11 It cannot be questioned that the dishonor of a
evidence but may be gathered from the nature of the act or from the merchant's or trader's check is tantamount or analogous to a slander of his
circumstances of the case. Indeed, the good or bad faith of the promissor, trade or business, imputing to him insolvency or bad faith. 12
which, being subjective, is incapable of direct proof. There is no question that
the legislature may, by appropriate legislation, create rules of evidence under In any event, as early as March 22, 1907, this Court held that mere
which natural inferences from certain facts may become presumption of law. "disturbance" in property rights "constitutes real and actual damage, and is
For example, the failure of a public officer to have duly forthcoming any public positive enough under a rule of law to produce one of the elements constituting
funds or property of which he is chargeable, upon demand by any duly the crime of estafa. 13 Again, in a subsequent case promulgated on August 30,
authorized officer, is considered prima facie evidence of 1917, this Court reiterated the principle inGoyenechea that mere disturbance
malversation. 10 Hence, the second sentence of paragraph 2(d) of Article 315 of the property rights of the complainants is considered real and actual damage
supplies the legal presumption which would show prima facie that the promise within the intendment of the penal law on estafa. 14 The same principle was re-
made upon contracting the obligation is a mere false pretense or a positive affirmed in People v. Santiago, 15 where this Court stated:
assertion of a falsehood. The rule under paragraph 2(d) of Article 315 that "the
failure of the drawer of the check to deposit the amount necessary to cover his The appellant contends that as the check was not cashed by
check within three (3) days from receipt of notice from the bank and/or the
the Bank of the Philippine Islands, and no attempt was made
payee or holder that said cheek has been dishonored for lack or insufficiency
to cash it, no crime has been committed. The check issued to
of funds, shall be prima facie evidence of deceit" is a rule of evidence and no
the defendant by the offended party was payable to 'cash',
more. It is intended to provide forprima facie evidence for the prosecution in
and therefore, negotiable. While the defendant had said check
such a way that whenever a person issues a postdated check or a check when in his possession, the offended party could not dispose of the
he had no funds in the bank or his funds are insufficient to cover the check, amount for which it was made out, and this was, at least,
and fails to make good the check within three (3) days from receipt of the notice
temporary prejudice sufficient to constitute estafa (U.S. vs.
of dishonor the law creates the presumption that he acted with deceit or
Goyenechea, 8 Phil 117; U.S. vs. Malong, 36 Phil. 821). (At p.
fraudulent intent. There cannot be any doubt also that the legislature may
816).
penalize the issuance of worthless checks, although the payee takes the check
in payment of a pre-existing debt. This is precisely the purpose of this
amendment which was enacted in furtherance of the public policy regarding Statistically, the greater bulk of dishonored checks consists of those issued in
this special sort of commercial fraud. The dishonor of the check in either case payment of pre-existing obligations. It was obviously because of this that the
is the consummation of the defraudation or the commission of the fraud, within President of the Philippines promulgated Presidential Decree No. 818,
the intendment of the requirement that the "false pretense or fraudulent acts increasing the penalty for estafa committed under paragraph 2(d) of Article 315
must be executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud." of the Revised Penal Code. To quote pertinent portions of the decree,
particularly the "whereases":
It has been argued that there could not be estafa because the offended party
does not suffer any damage as a result of the dishonor of the check, as the WHEREAS, reports received of late indicate an upsurge of
existing obligation is not discharged. It can scarcely be argued with reason that estafa (swindling) cases committed by means of bouncing
under such circumstances, the crime of the offending party would, in any wise, checks.
be lessened because of the fact that the existing obligation is not extinguished.
The issuance of the worthless check serves the purpose of delaying any action WHEREAS, if not checked at once, this criminal act would
on the transaction, and constitutes at least a detriment or prejudice to the erode the people's confidence in the use of negotiable
payee of the check. It is possible that the payee may deposit the same and, instruments as a medium of commercial transaction and
relying thereon, issue his own check to a third party in connection with a consequently result in the retardation of trade and commerce
transaction or agreement which he may have had with the latter. It is not and the undermining of the banking system of the country.
difficult to perceive the mischievous results that may ensue from the dishonor
or rejection of the first check. His own check may bounce as a result thereof, WHEREAS, it is vitally necessary to arrest and curb the rise
rendering him liable for any damage or prejudice which the third party may in this kind of estafa cases by increasing the existing penalties
suffer as a consequence. It has been held that a check implies a contract on provided therefor. ...

51
According to Mr. Norberto Katigbak, a well known financial columnist who The foregoing section is suppletory to the preceding provisions of the Code on
appeared as "amicus curiae", the approximate total value of bouncing checks estafa and should be applied whenever the elements of deceit and prejudice
per day was close to 200 million pesos, and thereafter when overdrafts were are present. 18
banned by the Central Bank, it averaged between 50 million to 80 million pesos
a day. According to him, the great volume of bouncing checks has made
access to credit more difficult, hampered the expansion of business, and
disrupted normal business transactions, with consequential serious
repercussions on the economy; thus the explanatory note in Senate Bill No.
413, in P.D. No. 818, that "the issuance of checks as negotiable instruments
have been abused by persons who have no funds or insufficient funds ... to
defraud innocent payees ...". These practices disturbs banking transactions. It
impairs the people's confidence in the use of negotiable instruments as a
medium of commercial transaction and consequently results in the retardation
of trade and commerce, and the undermining of the banking system. The
public policy, in furtherance of which Republic Act No. 4885 was enacted, is
therefore clearly manifest.

The first and fundamental duty of the courts is the application of the law
according to its express terms, interpretation being called for only when such
literal application is impossible. The construction of the statute should he made
with reference to its purpose, and in harmony and in conformity therewith, in
order to aid, advance, promote, support and effectuate such aim, motive,
aspirations or object. A construction which would operate to impair, pervert,
frustrate, thwart or nullify the very purpose of the statute should be
avoided. 16 This rule is applicable to penal statutes. Indeed, the canon that
penal laws are to be strictly construed "is not an inexorable command to
override common sense and evident statutory purpose." 17 Certainly, we
cannot shut our eyes to notorious mischiefs which the law is intended to
suppress.

At any rate, it is my considered opinion that the reprehensible act of issuing


bouncing checks, albeit in payment of pre-existing obligations, should not go
unpunished. At the very least, it should be penalized under Article 318 of the
Code, which reads as follows:

Art. 318. Other deceits. The penalty of arresto mayor and


a fine of not less than the amount of the damage caused and
not more than twice such amount shall be imposed upon any
person who shall defraud or damage another by any other
deceit not mentioned in the preceding articles of this chapter.

xxx xxx xxx

52
FERNANDO, J., concurring and dissenting: law based as it usually is on a comprehensive code, the result of legislation
embodying as much as possible principles of the widest generality and
With due recognition of the merit that attaches to the opinion of the Court, ably therefore enabling the judiciary to give it the most hospitable scope and, if
penned by Justice Hermogenes Concepcion Jr., I regret that I cannot yield necessary, even a latitudinarian construction. As was pointed out by Bean:
concurrence to the conclusion reached by majority of my brethren. "The rule, "Civil law theorists, like their Anglo-American counterparts, have claimed a
therefore, that the issuance of a bouncing check in payment of a pre-existing completeness and universality for their own principles. Unlike the common law,
obligation does not constitute estafa has not at all been altered by the however, the source of those legal principles is not judicial precedent, but
amendatory act." 1 It follows therefore that I must cast a dissenting vote as far rather a legislatively enacted civil code. In orthodox civil law theory, the statute
as L-45490 2 is concerned. Notwithstanding the divergence of view as to the is conceived of as 'being the most satisfactory and perfect method of realizing
full force and effectivity that in my opinion should be accorded Republic Act justice,' and as the 'unique source of judicial decisions.' When no rule can be
No. 4885, I am in agreement with my brethren insofar as the reversal of the found which expressly covers a particular problem, civil law courts seek to
decision of the Court of Appeals in L-45711 3 and the order of respondent discern from a statute or from a course of legislation, one or more principles
Judge in L-42971 4 for reason, other than that given in the opinion of the Court. which can be applied to situations substantially similar or analogous to (but not
I shall explain why. expressly covered by) the terms of the legislation. The formal concepts, in the
German system, have been explained as follows: 'The principles that are basic
to the Code carry the germ of further development in themselves. This
1. It does not admit of doubt that the legislative purpose of Republic Act No.
development is by way of analogy. If a case is not regulated in the law but a
4885 was precisely to cure an evil prevailing in the business word about the
legally similar case is regulated, then this provision is decisive in the deciding
propensity to issue checks without sufficient funds. The legislative body, after
of the first case (Gesetzesanalogie) ... If no result can be reached through this
a thorough consideration of the matter, gave its approval to the amendment in
question as a way to minimize, if not totally eradicate, that serious malady, the process of analogy, then the decision must be drawn from the spirit of the
whole law (Recht) considered as one system (Rechtsanalogie)." 8 It would be,
effect of which was to reduce wellnigh to vanishing point the negotiability of
in my view, more consistent with the interpretation of legislation amending the
checks. Even if it were admitted that there could have been a more felicitous
Revised Penal Code, the Spanish origin of which is still discernible, if that
choice of language, still this Court, after a more sympathetic consideration,
approach would be followed in the determination of whether or not the
could have been led, without doing violence to language, to give it force and
effectivity. This excerpt from the recent case of Bocobo v. Estanislao 5 finds amendment in question really did attain its purpose. From such a standpoint,
pertinence: "As noted in Sarcos v. Castillo: 'It is fundamental that once the certainly my answer must differ from that reached by the majority of my
brethren. It may not be amiss to state that one of the most eminent legal
policy or purpose of the law has been ascertained, effect should be given to it
by the judiciary. From Ty Sue v. Hord, decided in 1909, it has been our craftsmen to sit in the United States Supreme Court, the late Justice John
Harlan, was partial to this particular civil law methodology as reflected by his
constant holding that the choice between conflicting theories falls on that which
opinions in Welsh v. United States 9 andMoragne v. States Marine Lines,
best accords with the letter of the law and with its purpose. The next year, in
an equally leading decision, United States v. Toribio, there was a caveat Inc. 10 If even in a common law jurisdiction, there is receptivity to such a liberal
against a construction that would tend "to defeat the purpose and object of the spirit in the construction of statutes, it would seem to me that there should not
be the least hesitancy on the part of the highest tribunal of this country when
legislator." Then came the admonition in Riera v. Palma roli, against an
it considers an amendatory act to the Revised Penal Code to manifest a similar
application so narrow "as to defeat the manifest purpose of the legislator." This
was repeated in the latest case,Commissioner of Customs v. Caltex, in almost attitude.
Identical language.' Such an excerpt was quoted with approval in Automotive
Parts and Equipment Company v. Lingrad. It is of the essence of judicial duty In the light of the above, I am left with no choice except to dissent in L-45490.
then to construe statutes to reflect fidelity to such a concept. In the apt As far as L-45711 is concerned however, I concur in the decision reached, as
language of Frankfurter: 'A decent respect for the policy of Congress must there was no proof of criminal intent on the part of petitioner Tan Tao Liap.
save us from imputing to it a self-defeating, if not disingenuous purpose." 6 According to the opinion of Justice Concepcion Jr.: "Subsequently, however,
Tan Tao Liap suffered business reverses and so what he did was to inform
The above conclusion, from my standpoint, receives reinforcement from a Ngo Cheng not to deposit the second and third checks which were to mature
on August 31, 1972 and September 1, 1972, respectively, because of his
fundamental civil law concept that the Court is not to refrain from utilizing a
inability to raise the amounts to cover said checks. As an alternative, Tan Tao
legal methodology explicitly recognizing the generative capacity of legislation.
Liap proposed to pay the balance in monthly installments of P300.00 until such
In plainer terms, a distinction has been made between the common law which
has traditionally frowned on legislation encroaching on its terrain 7 and the civil time that he could raise enough funds. Ngo Cheng, however, turned down the

53
offer and even told Tan Tao Liap that he was going to file a criminal case
against him if he failed to deposit the amount for the two remaining checks. At
the instance of Ngo Cheng, Tan Tao Liap was charged by the City Fiscal of
Pasay City with the crime of estafa on January 24, 1973 for issuing the third
check (No. 7-442562, dated September 1, 1972, for P3,500.00) which was
dishonored for lack of funds." 11 An acquittal is certainly called for, it being
evident that the element of mens rea was conspicuous by its absence.

I am likewise persuaded to concur in L-42971 due to a circumstance which for


me militates against the conclusion that there was criminal intent. From the
opinion of the Court, it would appear that the prosecution had rested its case.
Then came a motion to dismiss. It was denied. To my mind, however, the very
fact of compelling a debtor to issue a postdated check should be construed as
a sufficient warning to the creditor that the former might not be able to honor
his commitment. To give him thereafter the right of harassment, thus
transforming the prosecutor's office into a collection agency and enlisting the
aid of the judicial branch, runs counter to my understanding of what a penal
statute stands for. The very pressure exerted by the creditor could suffice to
deprive effectively the freedom of choice on the part of a debtor hard pressed
to keep his business going. That does not give rise, in my view, to that degree
of culpability that calls for criminal liability. Hence my concurrence.

54
G.R. Nos. 146641-43 November 18, 2002 notwithstanding demands made on her, accused failed and refused and still
fails to redeem or make good the said checks face value thereof, to the
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, damage and prejudice of the private Complainant in the total aforesaid amount
vs. of P396,000.00.
RICA G. CUYUGAN, accused-appellant.
Contrary to Law.2
QUISUMBING, J.:
Criminal Case No. 95-7581:
On appeal is the joint decision1 dated December 20, 2000, of the Regional
Trial Court of Pasay City, Branch 117, in Criminal Cases Nos. 95-7580, 95- That on or about the 25th day of May 1994, in Pasay City, Metro Manila,
7581 and 95-7582 for three counts of estafa as defined and penalized under Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court the above-
Article 315, paragraph 2 (d) of the Revised Penal Code. The trial court found named accused, Rica G. Cuyugan, defrauded and deceived private
appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt on each count of estafa and Complainants Rodrigo and Norma Abagat in the following manner to wit: that
sentenced her pursuant to P. D. No. 818 to imprisonment of 30 years of said accused with intent to defraud and well knowing that her account with the
reclusion perpetua, and to pay the sum of P172,000 as indemnity in Criminal bank was already closed, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously
Case No. 95-7580; imprisonment of 30 years of reclusion perpetua, and make out and issue to private Complainants the following checks:
payment of P172,000 as indemnity in Criminal Case No. 95-7581; and
imprisonment of 30 years of reclusion perpetua and payment of P86,000 as FEBTC
indemnity in Criminal Case No. 95-7582.

Appellant was charged under separate informations, which read as follows: Check No. Date Amount

1. 03A058480P 07-25-94 P300,000.00


Criminal Case No. 95-7580:
2. 03A059550P 08-13-94 9,000.00
That on or about the 18th day of May 1994, in Pasay City, Metro Manila,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court the above-
in the total amount of P309,000.00 simultaneous with the receipt by the
named accused, Rica G. Cuyugan, defrauded and deceived private
accused of cash money from private Complainants Rodrigo and Norma
Complainant Norma Abagat in the following manner to wit: that said accused
Abagat, respectively, valued in the total amount of P309,000.00 but which
with intent to defraud and well knowing that her account with the bank was
checks when presented to the drawee bank on their maturity dates were
already closed, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, make
promptly dishonored for reasons of "Account Closed" and notwithstanding
out and issue to private Complainant the following checks:
demands made on her, accused failed and refused and still fails to redeem or
make good the said checks face value thereof, to the damage and prejudice
FEBTC of the private Complainants in the total aforesaid amount of P309,000.00.

Check No. Date Amount Contrary to Law.3

1. 03A058536P 06-25-94 P360,000.00 Criminal Case No. 95-7582:


2. 03A058546P 07-22-94 36,000.00
That on or about the 12th day of May 1994, in Pasay City, Metro Manila,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-
in the total amount of P396,000.00 simultaneous with the receipt by the named accused defrauded and deceived private Complainant Norma Abagat
accused of cash money from private Complainant also in the total amount of in the following manner to wit: that the accused with intent to defraud and well-
P396,000.00 but which checks when presented to the drawee bank on their knowing that her account with the bank has no sufficient funds, wilfully,
maturity dates were promptly dishonored for reasons of "Account Closed" and unlawfully and feloniously make out and issue to the private Complainant Far

55
East Bank and Trust Company Check No. 03A058532P postdated June 10, NORMA DAVID ABAGAT substantially corroborated the testimony of her
1994 in the amount of P150,000.00 simultaneous with, for and in consideration husband. She accompanied her husband when he met with appellant and
of cash money from private Complainant in the total amount of P150,000.00 witnessed the exchange of money and checks between them.
but which check when presented to the drawee bank on maturity date was
promptly dishonored for reason of "Drawn Against Insufficient Funds" (DAIF) On cross-examination Norma admitted that the checks issued by appellant
and notwithstanding demands on her, accused failed and refused and still fails were mere guarantees for the return of their money.11
and refuses to redeem or make good the said check or its value, to the damage
and prejudice of the private Complainant in the total aforesaid amount of The defense presented appellant RICA G. CUYUGAN. She testified that she
P150,000.00. is a businesswoman who furnished the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
with office supplies, construction materials, and signal and communication
Contrary to Law.4 spare parts. She had been engaged in this business since 1977. She affirmed
that her husband is the cousin of private complainant Norma Abagat.12
Inasmuch as the three cases are interrelated, involving the same parties and
similar causes of action, they were consolidated. Appellant stated that it was Norma Abagat who requested that the Abagats
participate in the big supply project for the Philippine Army. The Abagat
On October 18, 1995 appellant was arraigned, and with the assistance of spouses gave her P150,000 which represented the P135,000 principal as
counsel, pleaded not guilty. A joint trial on the merits ensued thereafter. partner for that construction project with the Philippine Army and the
remaining P15,000 representing the 10% profit share.13 In return, she issued
The prosecution presented complaining witnesses, Rodrigo Abagat and a postdated check covering the P150,000 as proof that the Abagat spouses
Norma David Abagat. had invested their money with her.14

RODRIGO ABAGAT testified that he is engaged in the business of supplying She claimed that she was the industrial partner as she did all the legwork in
dry goods, such as materials for building construction as well as getting the projects. They then shared in the profits after deducting all the
communication parts, to the Philippine Air Force. In the morning of May 10, miscellaneous expenses.
1994, he narrated that he was at the Villamor Airbase together with his wife,
Norma David Abagat, and appellant Rica Cuyugan. He and his wife met with She issued another postdated check worth P360,000 in exchange for
appellant at the Villamor Golf Club to discuss the matter of appellants dire the P270,000 that Norma Abagat gave her, less expenses and profit share.
need for money on account of the supplies she wanted to buy for the Philippine She also issued another check for P36,000 representing interest for four
Armed Forces.5 He said that they gave appellant, on staggered basis, the months at P9,000 per month.15 On account of another deal she closed with the
amount totaling to P855,000. They agreed to give her the amount provided Philippine Army, she issued to Norma another check worth P300,000 as the
that appellant would issue checks to cover the value of the money given her. 6 latters share in said deal, and a check worth P9,000 as interest for the
former.16
When the checks were presented for payment, they were all dishonored either
on account of DAIF (drawn against insufficient funds) or for reason of Appellant made payments to the Abagat spouses by depositing the total
ACCOUNT CLOSED.7 He forthwith informed appellant of the dishonor of the amount of P575,000 in the latters bank account with Maybank (formerly
checks by sending her a demand letter on January 12, 1995. 8 Despite Philippine Republic Bank).17
repeated demands, appellant failed to make good the checks, which
constrained the Abagat spouses to file in May 1995 a complaint for estafa She further testified on cross-examination that when the checks bounced, she
against appellant. It was only then that they filed the complaint as they gave issued four replacement checks in the sala of the trial judge but these checks
appellant an opportunity to settle her obligations to no avail.9 also bounced.18

On cross-examination, Rodrigo admitted that appellant is a family friend and ADELARDO GUEVARRA, bank account analyst at Maybank Philippines,
is in fact related by affinity to his wife. He likewise admitted that he received Villamor Airbase branch, testified that as part of his duties and functions he
from appellant the sum of P100,000 applied against the check drawn in his posted and recorded deposit accounts and withdrawals.19 He claimed to be
favor.10 familiar with the Maybank account of Rodrigo Abagat and that deposits were

56
made in said account but he had no knowledge who deposited these given to her by the Abagat spouses represented the latters investment in a
amounts.20 supposed partnership, the evidence clearly established that theP855,000 was
a loan extended by the spouses to appellant. However, the prosecution failed
LT. COL. RAMOS L. AQUINO, Logistics Supply Officer of the Philippine Army, to prove beyond a reasonable doubt fraud or bad faith on the part of appellant
was the final witness for the defense. He testified that he knew appellant quite in issuing the postdated checks.
well and the latter had introduced him to Norma Abagat who owned NDA
Trading. He also affirmed that appellant dealt with the Philippine Army in We find the appeal meritorious.
supplying it with materials for certain projects.21
Generally, findings and conclusion of the trial court are binding upon us in the
The trial court found appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of estafa absence of a clear showing of arbitrariness or palpable error23 or unless it has
committed by means of false pretenses or fraudulent acts executed prior to or plainly overlooked certain facts of substance and value that, if considered,
simultaneously with the commission of the fraud, that is by postdating a check might affect the result of the case.24
or issuing a check in payment of an obligation when the offender had no funds
in the bank, or his funds deposited therein were not sufficient to cover the We agree with the OSG that the prosecution failed to discharge its burden of
amount of the check.22 proving beyond reasonable doubt that the offense of estafa as defined by the
Revised Penal Code in Article 315, 2 (d), was committed by the appellant.
Hence this appeal where appellant assigns the lone error that: More particularly, the prosecution did not prove the existence of fraud to
constitute the issuance of the check as fraud contemplated by the law on
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING ACCUSED APPELLANT RICA G. estafa. As we previously held:
CUYUGAN GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF THREE (3)
COUNTS OF ESTAFA. To constitute estafa under this provision the act of postdating or issuing a
check in payment of an obligation must be the efficient cause of defraudation,
The issue is whether the trial court erred in convicting appellant for three and as such it should be either prior to, or simultaneous with the act of fraud.
counts of estafa and sentencing her pursuant to Article 315, 2 (d) of the The offender must be able to obtain money or property from the offended party
Revised Penal Code as amended by P.D. No. 818. because of the issuance of a check whether postdated or not. That is, the latter
would not have parted with his money or other property were it not for the
issuance of the check.25
Appellant contends that the agreement entered into by her and the Abagat
spouses was for a partnership transaction for the supply of materials for the
Armed Forces. She further asserts that the Abagat spouses had known her for In this case, the trial court failed to consider the testimonies of both the private
a long time and had previous business dealings with her. It was actually on complainants with respect to the agreement that the checks issued by
account of her good credit standing that they were convinced to become her appellant shall be mere guarantees for the eventual payment of the money
partners. She issued the subject checks as mere guarantees, according to given to appellant.
appellant, hence they were postdated.
As aptly pointed out by the OSG, Norma Abagat admitted on cross-
Incidentally, appellant also assails the penalty imposed by the trial court on the examination that the checks that appellant issued merely guaranteed the
ground that it violates the constitutional provision on cruel, degrading or payment of the loan.26 Rodrigo Abagat likewise admitted as much and even
inhuman punishment. Considering that this appeal could be decided on other testified on cross-examination that he intended to impose a monthly interest at
grounds, however, we need not now pursue the issue of unconstitutionality of the rate of 5% on the amount lent.27 The OSG observed that it was not the
P.D. No. 818, which amended Article 315, 2 (d) of the Revised Penal Code, as issuance of the checks that prompted the Abagat spouses to part with their
earlier amended by R.A. No. 4885. money but rather, the liberality to help appellant who is the wife of Normas
cousin, as well as the expectation to collect interest payment for the loan
extended to appellant.
For the appellee, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) states that although
appellant incurred criminal liability, she should only be penalized for violation
of BP 22 and not for estafa because the prosecution failed to establish fraud. The transaction between appellant and the Abagat spouses, in our view, was
According to the OSG, contrary to appellants claim that the sum of P855,000 one for a loan of money to be used by appellant in her business and she issued

57
checks to guarantee the payment of the loan. As such, she has the obligation The trial court found sufficient evidence that appellant already paid the amount
to make good the payment of the money borrowed by her. But such obligation of P425,000 out of her total indebtedness of P855,000. Apparently, appellant
is civil in character and in the absence of fraud, no criminal liability under the made a belated effort to make good her obligation. Be that as it may, there is
Revised Penal Code arises from the mere issuance of postdated checks as a a remaining balance of her obligation in the amount of P430,000 as the
guarantee of repayment. We find appellants allegation, that the Abagat difference betweenP855,000 less P425,000. This amount of P430,000 should
spouses entered into a joint venture agreement with her for the supply of be paid by appellant as a just obligation owing to the spouses Rodrigo and
materials with the AFP, is self-serving. But we also note that the trial court Norma Abagat. In addition, interest of 12 percent per annum, to be computed
convicted appellant on a general allegation that all the elements of estafa in accordance with Article 1169,33 should also be paid by her. For where the
under Article 315, 2 (d) of the Revised Penal Code had been proved by the debtor incurs in delay, he has to pay interest by way of damages, in conformity
prosecution without making any reference to or giving any proof of the actual with our ruling in Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals.34
fraud that appellant allegedly committed to make her liable for estafa. It is
elementary that where an allegation in the information is an essential element WHEREFORE, the judgment dated December 20, 2000, of the Regional Trial
of the crime, the same must be proved beyond reasonable doubt to sustain a Court of Pasay City, Branch 117, in Criminal Cases Nos. 95-7580, 95-7581,
conviction. In this case, the prosecution did not establish specifically and and 95-7582 finding appellant RICA G. CUYUGAN, liable for three counts of
conclusively the fraud alleged as an element of the offenses charged. estafa is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Appellant is ACQUITTED, for lack of
sufficient evidence to prove fraud beyond reasonable doubt. However, she is
Considering that the informations against appellant involved violation of Art. ordered to pay private complainants the balance of her obligation in the
315, 2 (d) of the Revised Penal Code, we take exception to the OSGs amount of P430,000 plus interest of twelve percent (12%) per annum until fully
recommendation28 that appellant should be held liable for violations of BP 22. paid. She is hereby ordered RELEASED immediately from confinement in the
Appellant cannot be convicted of a crime for which she was not properly Correctional Institution for Women, Mandaluyong City, unless she is being held
charged, for that would violate appellants constitutional right to be informed of for another lawful cause. The Director of the Bureau of Corrections is directed
the accusation against her.29 The purpose of the constitutional guarantee that to inform the Court of the action taken hereon within five days from notice.
a person accused of an offense be informed of the accusation against him is
(a) to furnish the accused with such a description of the charge against him as SO ORDERED.
will enable him to make his defense; (b) to avail himself of his conviction or
acquittal, for protection against a further prosecution for the same cause; and
(c) to inform the court of the facts alleged, so that it may decide whether they
are sufficient in law to support a conviction, if one should be had.30

The informations filed with the regional trial court were for three counts of
estafa. Earlier, the informations for BP 22 covering the same checks filed with
the Metropolitan Trial Court of Pasay City, Branch 44, were provisionally
dismissed on November 13, 1996.31 These cases were not re-filed nor
consolidated with the informations for estafa before the RTC of Pasay.
Accordingly, appellant was never apprised of the fact that she may still be held
liable for BP 22 and so never had an opportunity to defend herself against an
accusation for an offense under the special law. BP 22 cannot be deemed
necessarily included in the crime of estafa under RPC, Article 315, 2 (d). The
offense of fraud defined under the Revised Penal Code is malum in
se, whereas BP 22, also known as Bouncing Checks Law, is a special law
which punishes the issuance of bouncing checks, a malum prohibitum. Fraud
or estafa under the Revised Penal Code is a distinct offense from the violation
of the Bouncing Checks Law. They are different offenses, having different
elements.32 In this case, since appellant is accused of violating a particular
provision of the Revised Penal Code on estafa, she may not be convicted for
violation of BP 22 without trenching on fundamental fairness.

58
G.R. Nos. 59568-76 January 11, 1990 of a check without sufficient funds issued in payment of
a simultaneous obligation and the check was dishonored
PETER NIERRAS, petitioner, upon presentation for that estafa is committed under the
vs. Revised Penal Code. At the same time, the drawer will also
HON. AUXENCIO C. DACUYCUY and HON. ANTONIO S. LOPEZ, in their be liable under Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 for offense of
capacity as Presiding Judge, Branch IV, Court of First Instance of issuing a check without sufficient funds (pp. 1-2, Resolution
Leyte, Palo, Leyte, and City Fiscal of Tacloban City, Leyte, On Motion To Quash dated September 17, 1981; Annex
respectively, respondents. "MM", Petition). (p. 100, Rollo)

PARAS, J.: The issue now submitted for Our consideration is whether the filing of the nine
(9) other informations for estafa against petitioner under the Revised Penal
Before Us is a petition for certiorari with preliminary injunction for the Code after he had earlier been charged with violation of Batas Pambansa Blg.
annulment of the resolution dated September 17, 1981 of the respondent 22 for issuing the same bouncing checks will put him in jeopardy of being
Judge Auxencio C. Dacuycuy in nine (9) criminal cases, entitled "People of the convicted twice for the same offenses. In other words, can petitioner be held
liable for the nine criminal cases for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22, and
Philippines v. Peter Nierras" docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. 4379, 4380,
separately also be held liable for the crime of estafa under Article 315 (2-d) of
4381, 4382, 4383, 4384, 4385, 4386 and 4387, for estafa under Article 315 (2-
the Revised Penal Code for the issuance of the same bouncing checks?
d) of the Revised Penal Code which denied petitioner's motion to quash. Said
motion to quash was filed by petitioner on the ground of double jeopardy as
these offenses were already included in Criminal Cases Nos. 3790, 3791, It appears that petitioner, a customer of Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation,
3792, 3793, 4085, 4122, 4123, 4124, and 4125, entitled "People of the purchased oil products from it. Simultaneous with the delivery of the products,
Philippines v. Peter Nierras," for violation of the Bouncing Checks Law or Batas he issued nine (9) checks in payment thereof. Upon presentation to the
Pambansa Blg. 22, pending before the lower court. In both sets of criminal Philippine National Bank at Naval, Leyte, said checks were dishonored for the
cases, petitioner entered a plea of not guilty upon arraignment before the lower reason that his account was already closed. Thereafter, Pilipinas Shell
court. However, immediately after his plea of not guilty in these estafa cases, Petroleum Corporation repeatedly demanded of petitioner either to deposit
petitioner moved in open court to be allowed to withdraw his plea of not guilty funds for his checks or pay for the oil products he had purchased but he failed
upon his filing of a motion to quash, which was denied by respondent Judge and refused to do either.
ruling as follows:
Petitioner argues that he would be placed in double jeopardy as all the
The motion to quash should be and is hereby denied. Accused elements of estafa under Article 315 (2-d) of the Revised Penal Code are also
Peter Nierras allegedly issued the checks in favor of present in that crime punishable under Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 namely (1)
complainant Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation in payment "the postdating or issuance of a check in payment of an obligation contracted
of oil products which the latter delivered to him simultaneously at the time the check was issued; (2) lack or insufficiency of funds to cover the
with the issuance of the checks. check and (3) damage to the payee thereof."

xxx xxx xxx Petitioner's contentions are devoid of merit.

. . . The crime of estafa committed by means of bouncing Petitioner is charged with two (2) distinct and separate offenses, first under
checks is not committed by mere issuance of a check. Under Section 1 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 approved on April 3, 1979 which
Art. 315, par. 2 (d) of the Revised Penal Code, as amended provides that:
by Republic Act 4885, the following are the elements of estafa:
(1) the postdating or issuance of a check in payment of an Any person who makes or draws and issues any check to
obligation contracted at the time the check was issued; (2) apply on account or for value, knowing at the time of issue that
lack of or insufficiency of funds to cover the check; and (3) he does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee
damage to the payee thereof (People v. Sabio, 86 SCRA 568). bank for the payment of such check in full upon its
Under Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 (1979) the mere issuance presentment, which check is subsequently dishonored by the

59
drawee bank for insufficiency of funds or credit or would have These differences are better understood by presenting the pertinent
been dishonored for the same reason had not the drawer, discussions on the passage of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 between the author
without any valid reason ordered the bank to stop payment, of the bill, former Solicitor General and Member of the Batasang Pambansa,
shall be punished by imprisonment of not less than thirty days the Honorable Estelito P. Mendoza, presented in the memorandum for the
but not more than one (1) year or by a fine of not less than but government as follows:
not more than double the amount of the check which fine shall
in no case exceed TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS or MR. MENDOZA. If there is evidence
both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court. demonstrating that the act committed does
not only violate this proposed Act but also the
and, second, under Article 315, (2-d) of the Revised Penal Code which Revised Penal Code, there will be further
states as follows: prosecution under the Revised Penal Code.
That is why it is proposed in this Act that there
Art. 315. Swindling (estafa). Any person who shall defraud be a single uniform penalty for all violations in
another by any of the means mentioned herein below . . . this Act. However the court is given the
discretion whether to impose imprisonment or
fine or both or also in whatever severity the
xxx xxx xxx
court may consider appropriate under the
circumstances.
2. By means of any of the following false pretenses or
fraudulent acts, executed prior to or simultaneously with the
xxx xxx xxx
commission of the fraud;

MR. VELOSO, F. The other way around, it is


xxx xxx xxx
not so. So precisely, if I file a case for estafa
against a particular person for issuance of a
(d) By postdating a check or issuing a check in payment of an bouncing check, then necessarily I can also
obligation when the offender had no funds in the bank, or his be prosecuted under this proposed bill. On
funds deposited therein were not sufficient to cover the the other hand, if a person is prosecuted
amount of the check. under the proposed bill, it does not
necessarily follow that he can be prosecuted
What petitioner failed to mention in his argument is the fact that deceit and for estafa.
damage are essential elements in Article 315 (2-d) Revised Penal Code, but
are not required in Batas Pambansa Bilang 22. Under the latter law, mere MR. MENDOZA. This is simply because that
issuance of a check that is dishonored gives rise to the presumption of in a certain set of circumstances, the offense
knowledge on the part of the drawer that he issued the same without sufficient under this Act is the only offense committed
funds and hence punishable (People v. Veridiano, 132 SCRA 523) which is while under a different set of circumstances,
not so under the Penal Code. Other differences between the two also include not only the offense described in this Act is
the following: (1) a drawer of a dishonored check may be convicted under committed but also estafa. So that, for
Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 even if he had issued the same for apre- example, if a check with sufficient funds is
existing obligation, while under Article 315 (2-d) of the Revised Penal Code issued in payment of a pre-existing obligation
such circumstance negates criminal liability; (2) specific and different penalties and the position of the Government should
are imposed in each of the two offenses; (3) estafa is essentially a crime turn out to be correct that there is no estafa,
against property, while violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 is principally a then the drawer of the check would only be
crime against public interest as it does injury to the entire banking system; (4) liable under this Act but not under the
violations of Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code are mala in se, while those Revised Penal Code. But if he issues a check
of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 are mala prohibita. in payment, or contemporaneously with
incurring, of an obligation, then he will be

60
liable not only for estafa but also for violation impose a rather severe penalty and even
for this Act. There is a difference between the allow liability not only under this Act but also
two cases. In that situation where the check for estafa. Then perhaps, after the necessary
was issued in payment of a pre-existing discipline has been inculcated in our people
obligation, the issuance of the check does not and that the incidence of the offense has
cause damage to the payee and so it is but been reduced, we may then decide to amend
appropriate that he should not be held for the law and reduce the penalty. But at this
estafa but only for violating this Act. But if he time, shall we say the evil is of such
issued a check to induce another, to part with magnitude that only a dramatic and
a valuable consideration and the check expeditious effort to prosecute persons who
bounces,then he does inflict an injury to the issue bouncing checks may be necessary to
payee of the check apart from violating this curb quickly this evil. (explanations given by
law. In that case, it should be but fair that he Solicitor General ESTELITO P. MENDOZA at
be subject to prosecution not only for estafa the Batasan Pambansa during his
but also for violating this law. sponsorship speech of BP 22 which he
authored, pages 1037-1038, Record of the
MR. VELOSO, F. Yes, I agree with the Batasan, Plenary Session No. 70, Dec. 4,
Solicitor General on that point but my worry is 1978). (Emphasis supplied). (pp. 115-
with respect to situations where there is 117,Rollo or pp. 9-11, Memorandum for
prosecution first to estafa. respondents).

MR. MENDOZA. Well, if there is estafa . . . Furthermore, Section 5 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 provides that:

MR. VELOSO, F. Estafa committed by the Prosecution under this Act shall be without prejudice to any
issuance of a bouncing check, in which case liability for violation of any provision of the Revised Penal
it will be mandatory on the part of the Code.
prosecuting official to also file a case for
violation of this offense under the proposed While the filing of the two sets of Information under the provisions of Batas
bill. Pambansa Bilang 22 and under the provisions of the Revised Penal Code, as
amended, on estafa, may refer to identical acts committed by petitioner, the
MR. MENDOZA. Yes, that is correct. In such prosecution thereof cannot be limited to one offense, because a single criminal
a situation because if the offender did not act may give rise to a multiplicity of offenses and where there is variance or
only cause injury on account of the issuance differences between the elements of an offense in one law and another law as
of the check but did issue a bouncing check in the case at bar there will be no double jeopardy because what the rule on
penalized under this Act, then he will be liable double jeopardy prohibits refers to identity of elements in the two (2) offenses.
for prosecution under both laws. I would Otherwise stated prosecution for the same act is not prohibited. What is
admit that perhaps in such situation, the forbidden is prosecution for the same offense. Hence, the mere filing of the
penalty may be somewhat severe. As a two (2) sets of information does not itself give rise to double jeopardy (People
matter of fact, in other jurisdictions, the v. Miraflores, 115 SCRA 570).
issuance of bouncing checks is penalized
with substantially lower penalty. However, In the instant petition, certiorari is not the proper remedy. We have held
because of the situation in the Philippines, in Acharon v. Purisima, et al. (13 SCRA 309) that "when a motion to quash a
the situation being now relatively grave that criminal case is denied, remedy is not certiorari but to go to court without
practically everybody is complaining about prejudice to reiterating special defenses invoked in the motion, and if after trial
bouncing checks, may be it is necessary at on the merits, an adverse decision is rendered, to appeal therefrom in the
least initially, at this point in time for us to manner authorized by law," invoking the rule laid down in People

61
v.Magdaluyo (1 SCRA 990). If the petitioner cannot appeal at this state of the
proceeding, it is because there is still a necessity for the trial on the merits
wherein the parties may present proofs in support of their contentions and not
because the remedy of appeal is unavailing.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition for certiorari is hereby


DISMISSED for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.

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IV. Civil Liability for his obligation. Purificacion acceded to his request. Frederick then tendered
her postdated check in the amount of P1,020,000.00. The check, however,
G.R. No. 199067 November 11, 2013 was dishonored upon presentment due to "STOP PAYMENT."6

NISSAN GALLERY-ORTIGAS, Petitioner, A demand letter was served upon Purificacion, through Frederick, who lived
vs. with her. The letter informed her of the dishonor of the check and gave her five
PURIFICACION F. FELIPE, Respondent. (5) days from receipt within which to replace it with cash or managers check.
Despite receipt of the demand letter, Purificacion refused to replace the check
MENDOZA, J.: giving the reason that she was not the one who purchased the vehicle. On
January 6, 1998, Nissan filed a criminal case for violation of BP 22 against
her.7
This petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 or the Rules or Court seeks
to review, reverse and set aside the June 30, 2011 Decision 1 or the Court of
Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 120100,2 and its October 21, 2011 During the preliminary investigation before the Assistant City Prosecutor,
Purificacion gave P200,000.00 as partial payment to amicably settle the civil
Resolution,3 for being issued in a manner not in accord with law and
aspect of the case. Thereafter, however, no additional payment had been
jurisprudence.
made.
This case stemmed from a criminal complaint for violation or Batas Pambansa
Blg. 22 (BP 22) filed by petitioner Nissan Gallery-Ortigas Nissan), an entity After trial, the MeTC rendered its judgment acquitting Purificacion of the
charge, but holding her civilly liable to Nissan. The dispositive portion of the
engaged in the business or car dealership, against respondent Purificacion F.
judgment states that:
Felipe (Purificacion) with the Office of the City Prosecutor of Quezon City. The
said office found probable cause to indict Purificacion and filed an Information
before the Metropolitan Trial Court, (raffled to Branch 41), Quezon City WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered ACQUITTING accused
(MeTC), for her issuance of a postdated check in the amount PURIFICACION FELIPE of the crime of Violation of Batas Pambansa 22.
of P1,020,000.00, which was subsequently dishonored upon presentment due However, accused PURIFICACION FELIPE is ordered to pay private
to "STOP PAYMENT." complainant Nissan Gallery Ortigas the amount of SIX HUNDRED SEVENTY
FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P675,000.00) with legal interest per annum, from
the filing of the information until the finality of this decision.
Purificacion issued the said check because her son, Frederick Felipe
(Frederick), attracted by a huge discount ofP220,000.00, purchased a Nissan
Terrano 4x4 sports and utility vehicle (SUV) from Nissan. The term of the SO ORDERED.8
transaction was Cash-on-Delivery and no downpayment was required. The
SUV was delivered on May 14, 1997, but Frederick failed to pay upon delivery. Purificacion appealed to the Regional Trial Court (RTC). Branch 105 thereof
Despite non-payment, Frederick took possession of the vehicle.4 affirmed the MeTC decision on December 22, 2008. The RTC ruled that
Purificacion was estopped from denying that she issued the check as a "show
Since then, Frederick had used and enjoyed the SUV for more than four (4) check" to boost the credit standing of Frederick and that Nissan agreed not to
months without paying even a single centavo of the purchase price. This deposit the same.9 Further, the RTC considered Purificacion to be an
constrained Nissan to send him two (2) demand letters, on different dates, but accommodation party who was "liable on the instrument to a holder for value
he still refused to pay. Nissan, through its retained counsel, was prompted to even though the holder at the time of taking the instrument knew him or her to
send a final demand letter. Reacting to the final demand, Frederick went to be merely an accommodation party."10
Nissans office and asked for a grace period until October 30, 1997 within
which to pay his full outstanding obligation amounting to P1,026,750.00. Purificacion moved for a reconsideration, but her motion was denied.
Through further negotiation, the amount was eventually reduced
to P1,020,000.00.5 The CA, before whom the case was elevated via a petition for review, granted
the petition on May 20, 2009.1avvphi1 In so deciding, the CA reasoned out
Frederick reneged on his promise and again failed to pay. On November 25, that there was no privity of contract between Nissan and Purificacion. No civil
1997, he asked his mother, Purificacion, to issue the subject check as payment

63
liability could be adjudged against her because of her acquittal from the BY HER SON, COULD NOT ESCAPE LIABILITY ON THE CIVIL ASPECT OF
criminal charge. It was Frederick who was civilly liable to Nissan.11 THE CASE.

It added that Purificacion could not be an accommodation party either because B.


she only came in after Frederick failed to pay the purchase price, or six (6)
months after the execution of the contract between Nissan and Frederick. Her WHILE IT MAY BE TRUE THAT RESPONDENT PURIFICACION MAY BE
liability was limited to her act of issuing a worthless check but by her acquittal ACQUITTED OF THE CRIME CHARGED (VIOLATION OF B.P. 22), ONLY
in the criminal charge, there was no more basis for her to be held civilly liable BECAUSE THE PROSECUTION FAILED TO PROVE THAT RESPONDENT
to Nissan.12 Purificacions act of issuing the subject check did not, by itself, PURIFICACION WAS PROPERLY NOTIFIED OF THE DISHONOR OF THE
assume the civil obligation of Frederick to Nissan or automatically made her a SUBJECT BOUNCED CHECK, IT IS NOT CORRECT TO EXONERATE HER
party to the contract.13 Thus, the decretal portion of the judgment reads: FROM THE CIVIL ASPECT OF THE CASE.15

WHEREFORE, finding merit therefrom, the instant petition is GIVEN DUE Ultimately, the question presented before the Court is whether or not
COURSE and is hereby GRANTED. The Decision and Order dated December Purificacion is civilly liable for the issuance of a worthless check despite her
22, 2008 and May 20, 2009, respectively, of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), acquittal from the criminal charge.
Branch 105, Quezon City, in Crim. Case No. Q-08-151734, affirming the
Judgment of the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC), Branch 41, Quezon City, for
Ruling of the Court
Violation of B.P. 22, acquitting petitioner of the crime charged but ordering the
latter to pay respondent the amount of Six Hundred Seventy Five Thousand
Pesos (P675,000.00) with 12% legal interest, is SET ASIDE and petitioner is The Court rules in the affirmative.
EXONERATED from any civil liability by reason of her issuance of the subject
check. Well-settled is the rule that a civil action is deemed instituted upon the filing of
a criminal action, subject to certain exceptions. Section 1, Rule 111 of the
xxx Rules of Court specifically provides that:

SO ORDERED.14 SECTION 1. Institution of criminal and civil actions. (a) When a criminal
action is instituted, the civil action for the recovery of civil liability arising from
the offense charged shall be deemed instituted with the criminal action unless
Nissan filed a motion for reconsideration, but it was later denied.
the offended party waives the civil action, reserves the right to institute it
separately or institutes the civil action prior to the criminal action (unless the
Hence, this petition, with Nissan presenting the following offended party waives the civil action, reserves the right to institute it
separately or institutes the civil action prior to the criminal action).
GROUNDS
x x x x.
A.
(b) The criminal action for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 shall be
BOTH THE METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT AND THE REGIONAL TRIAL deemed to include the corresponding civil action. No reservation to file such
COURT CONCURRED THAT THE ISSUANCE BY RESPONDENT civil action separately shall be allowed.
PURIFICACION OF THE SUBJECT BOUNCED CHECK WAS FOR AND IN
PAYMENT OF HER SONS OUTSTANDING OBLIGATION TO NISSAN x x x x.
GALLERY ORIGINATING FROM HIS PURCHASE OF THE SUBJECT
MOTOR VEHICLE, NOT MERELY AS A "SHOW CHECK", HENCE, EVEN IF As can be gleaned from the foregoing, with respect to criminal actions for
PURIFICACION IS NOT A PARTY TO THE SALES TRANSACTION
violation of BP 22, it is explicitly clear that the corresponding civil action is
BETWEEN NISSAN GALLERY, AS SELLER, AND FREDERICK, AS BUYER,
deemed included and that a reservation to file such separately is not allowed.
PURIFICACION, AS THE ONE WHO DREW THE BOUNCED CHECK AS
AND IN PAYMENT OF THE LONG-UNPAID MOTOR VEHICLE PURCHASED

64
The rule is that every act or omission punishable by law has its accompanying her civil liability arose, which was the making or the issuing of the subject
civil liability. The civil aspect of every criminal case is based on the principle worthless check, clearly existed. Her acquittal from the criminal charge of BP
that every person criminally liable is also civilly liable. 16 If the accused, 22 was based on reasonable doubt and it did not relieve her of the
however, is not found to be criminally liable, it does not necessarily mean that corresponding civil liability. The Court cannot agree more when the MeTC
he will not likewise be held civilly liable because extinction of the penal action ruled that:
does not carry with it the extinction of the civil action. 17This rule more
specifically applies when (a) the acquittal is based on reasonable doubt as only A person acquitted of a criminal charge, however, is not necessarily civilly free
preponderance of evidence is required; (b) the court declares that the liability because the quantum of proof required in criminal prosecution (proof beyond
of the accused is only civil; and (c) the civil liability of the accused does not reasonable doubt) is greater than that required for civil liability (mere
arise from or is not based upon the crime of which the accused was preponderance of evidence). In order to be completely free from civil liability,
acquitted.18 The civil action based on the delict is extinguished if there is a a persons acquittal must be based on the fact he did not commit the offense.
finding in the final judgment in the criminal action that the act or omission from If the acquittal is based merely on reasonable doubt, the accused may still be
which the civil liability may arise did not exist or where the accused did not held civilly liable since this does not mean he did not commit the act
commit the acts or omission imputed to him.19 complained of. It may only be that the facts proved did not constitute the
offense charged.23
It can, therefore, be concluded that if the judgment is conviction of the accused,
then the necessary penalties and civil liabilities arising from the offense or The Court is also one with the CA when it stated that the liability of Purificacion
crime shall be imposed. On the contrary, if the judgment is of acquittal, then was limited to her act of issuing a worthless check. The Court, however, does
the imposition of the civil liability will depend on whether or not the act or not agree with the CA when it went to state further that by her acquittal in the
omission from which it might arise exists. criminal charge, there was no more basis for her to be held civilly liable to
Nissan. The acquittal was just based on reasonable doubt and it did not
Purificacion was charged with violation of BP 22 for allegedly issuing a change the fact that she issued the subject check which was subsequently
worthless check. The essential elements of the offense of violation of BP 22 dishonored upon its presentment.
are the following:
Purificacion herself admitted having issued the subject check in the amount
(1) The making, drawing, and issuance of any check to apply for account or of P1,020,000.00 after Frederick asked her to do it as payment for his
for value; (2) The knowledge of the maker, drawer, or issuer that at the time of obligation with Nissan. Her claim that she issued the check as a mere "show
issue there were no sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the check" to boost Fredericks credit standing was not convincing because there
payment of such check in full upon its presentment; and (3) The dishonor of was no credit standing to boost as her son had already defaulted in his
the check by the drawee bank for insufficiency of funds or credit or the dishonor obligation to Nissan. Had it been issued prior to the sale of the vehicle, the
for the same reason had not the drawer, without any valid cause, ordered the "show check" claim could be given credence. It was not, however, the case
drawee bank to stop payment.20 here. It was clear that she assumed her sons obligation with Nissan and
issued the check to pay it. The argument that it was a mere "show check" after
Here, the first and third elements were duly proven in the trial. Purificacion, her son was already in default its simply ludicrous.
however, was acquitted from criminal liability because of the failure of the
prosecution to prove the fact of notice of dishonor. Of the three (3) elements, The Court shall not be belabored with the issue of whether or not Purificacion
the second element is the hardest to prove as it involves a state of was an accommodation party because she was not. Granting that she was, it
mind.21 Thus, Section 2 of BP 22 creates a presumption of knowledge of is with more reason that she cannot escape any civil liability because Section
insufficiency of funds which, however, arises only after it is proved that the 2924 of the Negotiable Instruments Law specifically bounds her to the
issuer had received a written notice of dishonor and that within five (5) days instrument. The crux of the controversy pertains to the civil liability of an
from receipt thereof, he failed to pay the amount of the check or to make accused despite acquittal of a criminal charge. Such issue is no longer novel.
arrangements for its payment.22 In cases like violation of BP 22, a special law, the intent in issuing a check is
immaterial. The law has made the mere act of issuing a bad check malum
Purificacion was acquitted because the element of notice of dishonor was not prohibitum, an act prescribed by the legislature for being deemed pernicious
sufficiently established.1wphi1Nevertheless, the act or omission from which and inimical to public welfare. Considering the rule in mala prohibita cases, the
only inquiry is whether the law has been breached.25 The lower courts were

65
unanimous in finding that, indeed. Purificacion issued the bouncing check.
Thus, regardless of her intent, she remains civilly liable because the act or
omission, the making and issuing of the subject check, from which her civil
liability arises, evidently exists.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The June 30, 2011 Decision and the
October 21, 2011 Resolution of the Court of Appeals are hereby SET ASIDE.
The Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 105, Quezon City, in Criminal
Case No. Q-08-151734, dated December 22, 2008, affirming the Judgment of
the Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 41, Quezon City, for Violation of B.P. 22
is REINSTATED with MODIFICATION with respect to the legal interest which
shall be reduced to 6% per annum from finality of this judgment until its
satisfaction.26

SO ORDERED.

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