Free Web Hosting Provider - Web Hosting - E-commerce - High Speed Internet - Free Web Page
Search the Web

DEFENSES AGAINST BP 22

WELCOME TO THE BOUNCING CHECKS LAW RESOURCES!
 
The full payment of the amount appearing in the check within five banking days from notice of dishonor is a ‘complete defense.’

 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 from notice of dishonor is a ‘complete defense.’ The absence of a notice of dishonor necessarily deprives an accused an opportunity to preclude a criminal prosecution.  Accordingly, procedural due process clearly enjoins that a notice of dishonor be actually served on petitioner.  Petitioner has a right to demand — and the basic postulate of fairness require — that the notice of dishonor be actually sent to and received by her to afford her the opportunity to avert prosecution under BP 22.”

Justice Melo, Third Division, VICTOR TING “SENG DEE” and EMILY CHAN-AZAJAR, petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. [G.R. No. 140665.  November 13, 2000]

 

The elements of the offense under Section 1, BP Blg. 22, are: (1) the making, drawing and issuance of any check to apply to account or for value; (2) the maker, drawer or issuer knows that at the time of issue he does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the payment of such in full upon presentment; and (3) the check is subsequently dishonored by the drawee bank for insufficiency of funds or credit or would have been dishonored for the same reason had not the drawer, without any valid reason, ordered the bank to stop payment. 23.    People vs. Laggui, 171 SCRA 305, 310 [1989].

It will be noted that BP Blg. 22 requires that the drawer of the check must have knowledge at the time of issue that he does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank. Under Section 2 thereof, 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, is prima facie evidence of knowledge of such insufficiency when the check is presented within 90 days from the date of the check. However, the prima facie evidence of knowledge of such insufficiency does not lie when the maker or drawer pays the holder of the check the amount due thereon, or makes arrangements for payment in full by the drawee of such check within five (5) banking days after receiving notice that such check has not been paid by the drawee.

Justice Hermosisima, Jr.,  FIRST DIVISION, ANTONIO NIEVA, JR., petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents, [G.R. Nos. 95796-97.  May 2, 1997.]

 

 

Insufficiency of the Knowledge of Fund upon Issuance of the Check

Crux of the Petition

Petitioner raised as defense before the Court of Appeals her lack of actual knowledge of the insufficiency of funds at the time of the issuance of the checks, and lack of personal notice of dishonor to her. The respondent appellate court, however, affirmed the RTC decision, reasoning that "the maker's knowledge of the insufficiency of funds is legally presumed from the dishonor of his checks for insufficiency of funds. (People vs. Laggui, 171 SCRA 305; Nieras vs. Hon. Auxencio C. Dacuycuy, 181 SCRA 1)" 12 The Court of Appeals also stated that "her alleged lack of knowledge or intent to issue a bum check would not exculpate her from any responsibility under B.P. Blg. 22, since the act of making and issuing a worthless check is a malum prohibitum." 13 In the words of the Solicitor General, "(s)uch alleged lack of knowledge is not material for petitioner's liability under B.P. Blg. 22." 14

Lack of Actual Knowledge of Insufficiency of Funds

Knowledge of insufficiency of funds or credit in the drawee bank for the payment of a check upon its presentment is an essential element of the offense. 15 There is a prima facie presumption of the existence of this element from the fact of drawing, issuing or making a check, the payment of which was subsequently refused for insufficiency of funds. It is important to stress, however, that this is not a conclusive presumption that forecloses or precludes the presentation of evidence to the contrary.

In the present case, the fact alone that petitioner was a signatory to the checks that were subsequently dishonored merely engenders the prima facie presumption that she knew of the insufficiency of funds, but it does not render her automatically guilty under B.P. 22. The prosecution has a duty to prove all the elements of the crime, including the acts that give rise to the prima facie presumption; petitioner, on the other hand, has a right to rebut the prima facie presumption. 16 Therefore, if such knowledge of insufficiency of funds is proven to be actually absent or non-existent, the accused should not be held liable for the offense defined under the first paragraph of Section 1 of B.P. 22. Although the offense charged is a malum prohibitum, the prosecution is not thereby excused from its responsibility or proving beyond reasonable doubt all the elements of the offense, one of which is knowledge of the insufficiency of funds.

After a thorough review of the case at bar, the Court finds that Petitioner Lina Lim Lao did not have actual knowledge of the insufficiency of funds in the corporate accounts at the time she affixed her signature to the checks involved in this case, at the time the same were issued, and even at the time the checks were subsequently dishonored by the drawee bank.

The scope of petitioner's duties and responsibilities did not encompass the funding of the corporation's checks; her duties were limited to the marketing department of the Binondo branch. 17 Under the organizational structure of Premiere Financing Corporation, funding of checks was the sole responsibility of the Treasury Department. Veronilyn Ocampo, former Treasurer of Premier, testified thus:

xxx

Since Petitioner Lina Lim Lao signed the checks without knowledge of the insufficiency of funds, knowledge she was not expected or obliged to possess under the organizational structure of the corporation, she may not be held liable under B.P. 22. For in the final analysis, penal statutes such as B.P. 22 "must be construed with such strictness as to carefully safeguard the rights of the defendant . . ." 22.       Alfredo L. Azarcon vs. Sandiganbayan, People of the Philippines and Jose C. Batausa, G.R. No. 116033, p. 19, February 26, 1997. The element of knowledge of insufficiency of funds having been proven to be absent, petitioner is therefore entitled to an acquittal.

This position finds support in Dingle vs. Intermediate Appellate Court 23. 148 SCRA 595, March 16, 1987. where we stressed that knowledge of insufficiency of funds at the time of the issuance of the check was an essential requisite for the offense penalized under B.P. 22. In that case, the spouses Paz and Nestor Dingle owned a family business known as "PMD Enterprises." Nestor transacted the sale of 400 tons of silica sand to the buyer Ernesto Ang who paid for the same. Nestor failed to deliver. Thus, he issued to Ernesto two checks, signed by him and his wife as authorized signatories for PMD Enterprises, to represent the value of the undelivered silica sand. These checks were dishonored for having been 'drawn against insufficient funds.' Nestor thereafter issued to Ernesto another check, signed by him and his wife Paz, which was likewise subsequently dishonored. No payment was ever made; hence, the spouses were charged with a violation of B.P. 22 before the trial court which found them both guilty. Paz appealed the judgment to the then Intermediate Appellate Court which modified the same by reducing the penalty of imprisonment to thirty days. Not satisfied, Paz filed an appeal to this Court "insisting on her innocence" and "contending that she did not incur any criminal liability under B.P. 22 because she had no knowledge of the dishonor of the checks issued by her husband and, for that matter, even the transaction of her husband with Ang." The Court ruled in Dingle as follows:

"The Solicitor General in his Memorandum recommended that petitioner be acquitted of the instant charge because from the testimony of the sole prosecution witness Ernesto Ang, it was established that he dealt exclusively with Nestor Dingle. Nowhere in his testimony is the name of Paz Dingle ever mentioned in connection with the transaction and with the issuance of the check. In fact, Ang categorically stated that it was Nestor Dingle who received his two (2) letters of demand. This lends credence to the testimony of Paz Dingle that she signed the questioned checks in blank together with her husband without any knowledge of its issuance, much less of the transaction and the fact of dishonor.

In the case of Florentino Lozano vs. Hon. Martinez, promulgated December 8, 1986, it was held that an essential element of the offense is knowledge on the part of the maker or drawer of the check of the insufficiency of his funds.

WHEREFORE, on reasonable doubt, the assailed decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court (now the Court of Appeals) is hereby SET ASIDE and a new one is hereby rendered ACQUITTING petitioner on reasonable doubt." 24

In rejecting the defense of herein petitioner and ruling that knowledge of the insufficiency of funds is legally presumed from the dishonor of the checks for insufficiency of funds, Respondent Court of Appeals cited People vs. Laggui 25 and Nierras vs. Dacuycuy. 26.       181 SCRA 1, January 11, 1990. These, however, are inapplicable here. The accused in both cases issued personal — not corporate — checks and did not aver lack of knowledge of insufficiency of funds or absence of personal notice of the check's dishonor. Furthermore, in People vs. Laggui 27 the Court ruled mainly on the adequacy of an information which alleged lack of knowledge of insufficiency of funds at the time the check was issued and not at the time of its presentment. On the other hand, the Court in Nierras vs. Dacuycuy 28 held mainly that an accused may be charged under B.P. 22 and Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code for the same act of issuing a bouncing check.

The statement in the two cases — that mere issuance of a dishonored check gives rise to the presumption of knowledge on the part of the drawer that he issued the same without funds — does not support the CA Decision. As observed earlier, there is here only a prima facie presumption which does not preclude the presentation of contrary evidence. On the contrary, People vs. Laggui clearly spells out as an element of the offense the fact that the drawer must have knowledge of the insufficiency of funds in, or of credit with, the drawee bank for the payment of the same in full on presentment; hence, it even supports the petitioner's position.

Lina Lim Lao v. Court of Appeals, 274 SCRA 572, June 20, 1997, Per Panganiban, J.

 

Added to these is the presumption of knowledge of insufficiency of funds. A maker’s knowledge is presumed from the dishonor of his check for insufficiency of funds.37 [Vaca v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 131714, 16 November 1998, 298 SCRA 656.] Once proved that the maker or drawer had knowledge of the insufficiency of his funds or credit, which is also an important element for the offense to exist, he is rendered ipso facto liable.

Justice  Bellosello, SECOND DIVISION, Cueme v. People, G.R. No. 133325. June 30, 2000

 

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 also establish that the accused was actually notified that the check was dishonored, and that he or she failed, within the 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 notice, a prosecution for violation of the Bouncing Checks Law cannot prosper.

Justice Panganiban, Third Division, Betty King v. People, G.R. No. 131540, December 2, 1999.

 

Evidence of knowledge of insufficient funds. Prima facie presumption arises when a check is issued. But the law also provides that the presumption does not arise when the issuer pays the amount of the check or makes arrangement for its payment "within five banking days after receiving the notice that such check has not been paid by the drawee." Verily, BP 22 gives the accused an oppurtunity to satisfy the amount indicated in the check and thus avert prosecution. As the court held in Lozano v. Martinez, the aforecited provision serves to "mitigate the harshness of the law in its application." [146 SCRA 324, December 18, 1986, per Yap, CJ]. This oppurtunity, however, can be used only upon receipt of the by the accused of a notice of dishonor. [Lina Lim Lao v. Court of Appeals, 274 SCRA 572, June 20, 1997, Per Panganiban, J.] 

Thus, in order to create the prima facie presumption that the issuer knew of the insufficiency of funds, it must be shown that he  or she received a notice of dishonor and, within five banking days thereafter, failed to satisfy the amount of the check or make arrangement for its payment.

Justice Panganiban, Third Division, Betty King v. People, G.R. No. 131540, December 2, 1999.

 

Insisting on her innocence, Paz Dingle filed the instant petition contending that she did not incur any criminal liability under BP 22 because she had no knowledge of the dishonor of the checks issued by her husband and for that matter even the transaction of her husband with Ang.

The Solicitor General in his Memorandum recommended that petitioner be acquitted of the instant charge because from the testimony of the sole prosecution witness Ernesto Ang, it was established that he dealt exclusively with Nestor Ang. Nowhere in his testimony is the name of Paz Dingle ever mentioned in connection with the transaction and with the issuance of the check. In fact, Ang categorically stated that it was Nestor Dingle who received his two (2) letters of demand. This lends credence to the testimony of Paz Dingle that she signed the questioned checks in blank together with her husband without any knowledge of its issuance, much less of the transaction and the fact of dishonor.

In the case of Florentino Lozano vs. Hon. Martinez, promulgated December 18, 1986, it was held that an essential element of the offense is knowledge on the part of the maker or drawer of the check of the insufficiency of his funds.

Justice Paras, SECOND DIVISION, PAZ M. DINGLE, petitioner, vs. HON. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT AND PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents, G.R. No. 75243.  March 16, 1987.


Lack of Adequate Notice of Dishonor

There is another equally cogent reason for the acquittal of the accused. There can be no prima facie evidence of knowledge of insufficiency of funds in the instant case because no notice of dishonor was actually sent to or received by the petitioner.

The notice of dishonor may be sent by the offended party or the drawee bank. The trial court itself found absent a personal notice of dishonor to Petitioner Lina Lim Lao by the drawee bank based on the unrebutted testimony of Ocampo "(t)hat the checks bounced when presented with the drawee bank but she did not inform anymore the Binondo branch and Lina Lim Lao as there was no need to inform them as the corporation was in distress." 29 The Court of Appeals affirmed this factual finding. Pursuant to prevailing jurisprudence, this finding is binding on this Court. 30. Maximino Fuentes vs. Hon. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 109849, p. 9, February 26, 1997; citing Juan Castillo, et al. vs. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. 106472, p. 9, August 7, 1996.

Indeed, this factual matter is borne by the records. The records show that the notice of dishonor was addressed to Premiere Financing Corporation and sent to its main office in Cubao, Quezon City. Furthermore, the same had not been transmitted to Premier's Binondo Office where petitioner had been holding office.

Likewise no notice of dishonor from the offended party was actually sent to or received by Petitioner Lao. 

xxx

Because no notice of dishonor was actually sent to and received by the petitioner, the prima facie presumption that she knew about the insufficiency of funds cannot apply. Section 2 of B.P. 22 clearly provides that this presumption arises not from the mere fact of drawing, making and issuing a bum check; there must also be a showing that, within five banking days from receipt of the notice of dishonor, such maker or drawer failed to pay the holder of the check the amount due thereon or to make arrangement for its payment in full by the drawee of such check.

It has been observed that the State, under this statute, actually offers the violator "a compromise by allowing him to perform some act which operates to preempt the criminal action, and if he opts to perform it the action is abated." This was also compared "to certain laws 32 See, e.g., E.O. 107, 83 O.G. No. 7, p. 576 (February 16, 1987), and E.O. 122, 89 O.G. No. 44, p. 6349 (November 1, 1993). allowing illegal possessors of firearms a certain period of time to surrender the illegally possessed firearms to the Government, without incurring any criminal liability." 33. Nitafan, supra, pp. 121-122.  In this light, the full payment of the amount appearing in the check within five banking days from notice of dishonor is a "complete defense." 34.  Navarro vs. Court of Appeals, supra. The absence of a notice of dishonor necessarily deprives an accused an opportunity to preclude criminal prosecution. Accordingly, procedural due process clearly enjoins that a notice of dishonor be actually served on petitioner. Petitioner has a right to demand — and the basic postulates of fairness require — that the notice of dishonor be actually sent to and received by her to afford her the opportunity to avert prosecution under B.P. 22.

In this light, the postulate of Respondent Court of Appeals that "(d)emand on the Corporation constitutes demand on appellant (herein petitioner), 35 is erroneous. Premiere has no obligation to forward the notice addressed to it to the employee concerned, especially because the corporation itself incurs no criminal liability under B.P. 22 for the issuance of a bouncing check. Responsibility under B.P. 22 is personal to the accused; hence, personal knowledge of the notice of dishonor is necessary. Consequently, constructive notice to the corporation is not enough to satisfy due process. Moreover, it is petitioner, as an officer of the corporation, who is the latter's agent for purposes of receiving notices and other documents, and not the other way around. It is but axiomatic that notice to the corporation, which has a personality distinct and separate from the petitioner, does not constitute notice to the latter.

Epilogue

In granting this appeal, the Court is not unaware of B.P. 22's intent to inculcate public respect for and trust in checks which, although not legal tender, are deemed convenient substitutes for currency. B.P. 22 was intended by the legislature to enhance commercial and financial transactions in the Philippines by penalizing makers and issuers of worthless checks. The public interest behind B.P. 22 is thus clearly palpable from its intended purpose. 36 See Lozano vs. Martinez, 146 SCRA 323, 339-341, December 18, 1996.

At the same time, this Court deeply cherishes and is in fact bound by duty to protect our people's constitutional rights to due process and to be presumed innocent until the contrary is proven. 37 37. Sections 1 and 14, Article III, Constitution.  These rights must be read into any interpretation and application of B.P. 22. Verily, the public policy to uphold civil liberties embodied in the Bill of Rights necessarily outweighs the public policy to build confidence in the issuance of checks. The first is a basic human right while the second is only proprietary in nature. 38. See also Philippine Blooming Mills Employees Organization vs. Philippine Blooming Mills Co., Inc., 51 SCRA 189, June 5, 1973.

  Important to remember also is B.P. 22's requirements that the check issuer must know "at the time of issue that he does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank" and that he must receive "notice that such check has not been paid by the drawee." Hence, B.P. 22 must not be applied in a manner which contravenes an accused's constitutional and statutory rights.

There is also a social justice dimension in this case. Lina Lim Lao is only a minor employee who had nothing to do with the issuance, funding and delivery of checks. Why she was required by her employer to countersign checks escapes us. Her signature is completely unnecessary for it serves no fathomable purpose at all in protecting the employer from unauthorized disbursements. Because of the pendency of this case Lina Lim Lao stood in jeopardy — for over a decade — of losing her liberty and suffering the wrenching pain and loneliness of imprisonment, not to mention the stigma of prosecution on her career and family life as a young mother, as well as the expenses, effort and aches in defending her innocence. Upon the other hand, the senior official — Teodulo Asprec — who appears responsible for the issuance, funding and delivery of the worthless checks has escaped criminal prosecution simply because he could not be located by the authorities. The case against him has been archived while the awesome prosecutory might of the government and the knuckled ire of the private complainant were all focused on poor petitioner. Thus, this Court exhorts the prosecutors and the police authorities concerned to exert their best to arrest and prosecute Asprec so that justice in its pristine essence can be achieved in all fairness to the complainant, Fr. Artelijo Palijo, and the People of the Philippines. By this Decision, the Court enjoins the Secretary of Justice and the Secretary of Interior and Local Government to see that essential justice is done and the real culprit(s) duly-prosecuted and punished.

WHEREFORE, the questioned Decision of the Court of Appeals affirming that of the Regional Trial Court, is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner Lina Lim Lao is ACQUITTED. The Clerk of Court is hereby ORDERED to furnish the Secretary of Justice and the Secretary of Interior and Local Government with copies of this Decision. No costs.

Lina Lim Lao v. Court of Appeals, 274 SCRA 572, June 20, 1997, Per Panganiban, J.

 

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 also establish that the accused was actually notified that the check was dishonored, and that he or she failed, within the 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 notice, a prosecution for violation of the Bouncing Checks Law cannot prosper.

Justice Panganiban, Third Division, Betty King v. People, G.R. No. 131540, December 2, 1999.

 

 

Responsibility under B.P. 22 is personal to the accused; hence, personal knowledge of the notice of dishonor is necessary.

In this light, the postulate of Respondent Court of Appeals that "(d)emand on the Corporation constitutes demand on appellant (herein petitioner),"[35] is erroneous. Premiere has no obligation to forward the notice addressed to it to the employee concerned, especially because the corporation itself incurs no criminal liability under B.P. 22 for the issuance of a bouncing check. Responsibility under B.P. 22 is personal to the accused; hence, personal knowledge of the notice of dishonor is necessary. Consequently, constructive notice to the corporation is not enough to satisfy due process. Moreover, it is petitioner, as an officer of the corporation, who is the latter's agent for purposes of receiving notices and other documents, and not the other way around. It is but axiomatic that notice to the corporation, which has a personality distinct and separate from the petitioner, does not constitute notice to the latter.

Lina Lim Lao v. Court of Appeals, 274 SCRA 572, June 20, 1997, Per Panganiban, J.

 

 

Exercise of a statutory right to suspend payments is a valid defense against purported violations of BP 22

To begin with, the second element involves knowledge on the part of the issuer at the time of the check's issuance that he did not have enough funds or credit in the bank for payment thereof upon its presentment. B.P. No. 22 creates a presumption juris tantum that the second element prima facie exists when the first and third elements of the offense are present.11 [Magno v. Court of Appeals, 210 SCRA 471, 480 (1992).] But such evidence may be rebutted. If not rebutted or contradicted, it will suffice to sustain a judgment in favor of the issue, which it supports.12 [People v. Nuque, 58 O.G. 8442, 8445.] As pointed out by the Solicitor General, such knowledge of the insufficiency of petitioner's funds "is legally presumed from the dishonor of his checks for insufficiency of funds."13 [Rollo, p. 272.] But such presumption cannot hold if there is evidence to the contrary. In this case, we find that the other party has presented evidence to contradict said presumption. Hence, the prosecution is duty bound to prove every element of the offense charged, and not merely rely on a rebuttable presumption.

Admittedly, what are involved here are postdated checks. Postdating simply means that on the date indicated on its face, the check would be properly funded, not that the checks should be deemed as issued only then.14 [People v. Tongko, 290 SCRA 595 (1998).] The checks in this case were issued at the time of the signing of the Contract to Sell in August 1989. But we find from the records no showing that the time said checks were issued, petitioner had knowledge that his deposit or credit in the bank would be insufficient to cover them when presented for encashment.15 [TSN, December 1, 1993, pp. 9-14.] On the contrary, there is testimony by petitioner that at the time of presentation of the checks, he had P150,000.00 cash or credit with Citibank.

As the evidence for the defense showed, the closure of petitioner's Account No. 845515 with Citibank was not for insufficiency of funds. It was made upon the advice of the drawee bank, to avoid payment of hefty bank charges each time petitioner issued a "stop payment" order to prevent encashment of postdated checks in private respondent's possession.16 [Supra.] Said evidence contradicts the prima facie presumption of knowledge of insufficiency of funds. But it establishes petitioner's state of mind at the time said checks were issued on August 24, 1989. Petitioner definitely had no knowledge that his funds or credit would be insufficient when the checks would be presented for encashment. He could not have foreseen that he would be advised by his own bank in the future, to close his account to avoid paying the hefty banks charges that came with each "stop payment" order issued to prevent private respondent from encashing the 30 or so checks in its possession. What the prosecution has established is the closure of petitioner's checking account. But this does not suffice to prove the second element of the offense under B.P. Blg. 22, which explicitly requires "evidence of knowledge of insufficient funds" by the accused at the time the check or checks are presented for encashment.

To rely on the presumption created by B.P. No. 22 as the prosecution did in this case, would be to misconstrue the import of requirements for conviction under the law. It must be stressed that every element of the offense must be proved beyond reasonable doubt, never presumed. Furthermore, penal statutes are strictly construed against the State and liberally in favor of the accused. Under the Bouncing Checks Law, the punishable act must come clearly within both the spirit and letter of the statute.17 [Idos v. Court of Appeals, 296 SCRA 194, 202-203 (1998).]

While B.P. Blg. 22 was enacted to safeguard the interest of the banking system,18 [Magno v. Court of Appeals, supra.] it is difficult to see how conviction of the accused in this case will protect the sanctity of the financial system. Moreover, protection must also be afforded the interest of townhouse buyers under P.D. No. 957.19 ["SEC. 23. Non-Forfeiture of Payments. – No installment payment made by a buyer in a subdivision or condominium project for the lot or unit he contracted to buy shall be forfeited in favor of the owner or developer when the buyer, after due notice to the owner or developer, desists from further payment due to the failure of the owner or developer to develop the subdivision or condominium project according to the approved plans and within the time limit for completing the same. Such buyer may, at his option, be reimbursed the total amount paid including amortization interests but excluding delinquency interests with interest thereon at the legal rate."] A statute must be construed in relation to other laws so as to carry out the legitimate ends and purposes intended by the legislature.20 [King v. Hernaez, 114 Phil. 730, 740 (1962); Mejia v. Balolong, 81 Phil. 497, 501 (1948).] Courts will not strictly follow the letter of one statute when it leads away from the true intent of legislature and when ends are inconsistent with the general purpose of the act.21 [Hidalgo v. Hidalgo, supra, Tañada v. Cuneco, 103 Phil. 1051, 1086 (1957); Torres v. Limjap, 56 Phil. 141, 145 (1931); People v. Concepcion, 44 Phil. 126, 130 (1922); US v. Toribio, 15 Phil. 85, 90 (1910).] More so, when it will mean the contravention of another valid statute. Both laws have to be reconciled and given due effect.

Note that we have upheld a buyer's reliance on Section 23 of P.D. 957 to suspend payments until such time as the owner or developer had fulfilled its obligations to the buyer.22 [Antipolo Realty Corp. v. National Housing Authority, 153 SCRA 399, 409, 411 (1987).] This exercise of a statutory right to suspend installment payments, is to our mind, a valid defense against the purported violations of B.P. Blg. 22 that petitioner is charged with.

Given the findings of the HLURB as to incomplete features in the construction of petitioner's and other units of the subject condominium bought on installment from FRC, we are of the view that petitioner had a valid cause to order his bank to stop payment. To say the least, the third element of "subsequent dishonor of the check... without valid cause" appears to us not established by the prosecution. As already stated, the prosecution tried to establish the crime on a prima facie presumption in B.P. Blg. 22. Here that presumption is unavailing, in the presence of a valid cause to stop payment, thereby negating the third element of the crime.

Justice Quisumbing, Second Division, Sycip, Jr. v. CA and People [G.R. No. 125059. March 17, 2000]

 

 

Exercise of a right of the buyer under article 23 of P.D. NO. 957 is a valid defense to the charges against him.

Offenses punished by a special law, like the Bouncing Checks Law, are not subject to the Revised Penal Code, but the Code is supplementary to such a law.23 ["ART. 10. Offenses not subject to the provisions of this Code. – Offenses which are or in the future may be punishable under special laws are not subject to the provisions of this Code. This Code shall be supplementary to such laws, unless the latter should specially provide the contrary."] We find nothing in the text of B.P. Blg. 22, which would prevent the Revised Penal Code from supplementing it. Following Article 11 (5)24 "ART. 11. Justifying circumstances. – The following do not incur any criminal liability:

xxx

5. Any person who acts in the fulfillment of a duty or in the lawful exercise of a right or office."] of the Revised Penal Code, petitioner's exercise of a right of the buyer under Article 23 of P.D. No. 957 is a valid defense to the charges against him.

Justice Quisumbing, Second Division, Sycip, Jr. v. CA and People [G.R. No. 125059. March 17, 2000]

 

 

Exercise of a statutory right to suspend installment payments, is to our mind, a valid defense against the purported violations of B.P. Blg. 22 that petitioner is charged with.

While B.P. Blg. 22 was enacted to safeguard the interest of the banking system,18 [Magno v. Court of Appeals, supra.] it is difficult to see how conviction of the accused in this case will protect the sanctity of the financial system. Moreover, protection must also be afforded the interest of townhouse buyers under P.D. No. 957.19 ["SEC. 23. Non-Forfeiture of Payments. – No installment payment made by a buyer in a subdivision or condominium project for the lot or unit he contracted to buy shall be forfeited in favor of the owner or developer when the buyer, after due notice to the owner or developer, desists from further payment due to the failure of the owner or developer to develop the subdivision or condominium project according to the approved plans and within the time limit for completing the same. Such buyer may, at his option, be reimbursed the total amount paid including amortization interests but excluding delinquency interests with interest thereon at the legal rate."] A statute must be construed in relation to other laws so as to carry out the legitimate ends and purposes intended by the legislature.20 [King v. Hernaez, 114 Phil. 730, 740 (1962); Mejia v. Balolong, 81 Phil. 497, 501 (1948).] Courts will not strictly follow the letter of one statute when it leads away from the true intent of legislature and when ends are inconsistent with the general purpose of the act.21 [Hidalgo v. Hidalgo, supra, Tañada v. Cuneco, 103 Phil. 1051, 1086 (1957); Torres v. Limjap, 56 Phil. 141, 145 (1931); People v. Concepcion, 44 Phil. 126, 130 (1922); US v. Toribio, 15 Phil. 85, 90 (1910).] More so, when it will mean the contravention of another valid statute. Both laws have to be reconciled and given due effect.

Note that we have upheld a buyer's reliance on Section 23 of P.D. 957 to suspend payments until such time as the owner or developer had fulfilled its obligations to the buyer.22 [Antipolo Realty Corp. v. National Housing Authority, 153 SCRA 399, 409, 411 (1987).] This exercise of a statutory right to suspend installment payments, is to our mind, a valid defense against the purported violations of B.P. Blg. 22 that petitioner is charged with.

Given the findings of the HLURB as to incomplete features in the construction of petitioner's and other units of the subject condominium bought on installment from FRC, we are of the view that petitioner had a valid cause to order his bank to stop payment. To say the least, the third element of "subsequent dishonor of the check... without valid cause" appears to us not established by the prosecution. As already stated, the prosecution tried to establish the crime on a prima facie presumption in B.P. Blg. 22. Here that presumption is unavailing, in the presence of a valid cause to stop payment, thereby negating the third element of the crime.

Justice Quisumbing, Second Division, Sycip, Jr. v. CA and People [G.R. No. 125059. March 17, 2000]

 

 

Exercise of a right of the buyer under Article 23 of P.D. No. 957 is a valid defense to the charges against him.

Offenses punished by a special law, like the Bouncing Checks Law, are not subject to the Revised Penal Code, but the Code is supplementary to such a law.23 ["ART. 10. Offenses not subject to the provisions of this Code. – Offenses which are or in the future may be punishable under special laws are not subject to the provisions of this Code. This Code shall be supplementary to such laws, unless the latter should specially provide the contrary."] We find nothing in the text of B.P. Blg. 22, which would prevent the Revised Penal Code from supplementing it. Following Article 11 (5)24 "ART. 11. Justifying circumstances. – The following do not incur any criminal liability:

xxx

5. Any person who acts in the fulfillment of a duty or in the lawful exercise of a right or office."] of the Revised Penal Code, petitioner's exercise of a right of the buyer under Article 23 of P.D. No. 957 is a valid defense to the charges against him.

Justice Quisumbing, Second Division, Sycip, Jr. v. CA and People [G.R. No. 125059. March 17, 2000]

 

                                                       home             top

For inquiries or comments, you may contact the webmaster
Last Updated: Tuesday, December 04, 2001 01:16:22 PM
Online Legal Resources for Filipinos
All Rights Reserved