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Can the accused be convicted of criminal offense under BP Blg. 22 with the prosecution's failure to present in evidence the original checks subject of the informations? That is, by his simple admission?

Considering carefully the complainant's charges and the respondent Judge's Comments thereon, We find that except for one issue, the aforementioned charges have been sufficiently and satisfactorily refuted by respondent. However, with respect to the prosecution's failure to present in evidence the original checks subject of the informations filed against the accused Gutierrez, We are not in accord with respondent Judge's conclusion that that same is inconsequential for her conviction.  

For, it is not disputed that the five (5) checks subject of the five (5) informations for Violation of B.P., Blg. 22 and the information for Estafa, are UCPB checks with Nos. SRD022496, SRD022513, PTU031796, PTU031797, and PTU031798. It is also not disputed that all these five (5) checks were not presented and formally offered in evidence. Rather, the evidence of the prosecution consisted of the replacement check drawn against UCPB, namely, Check No. SRD043939, the return deposit slip issued by the PNB indicating that this replacement check was dishonored by the UCPB for the reason, "stop payment", and the testimony of the PNB representative, one Hernando Balmores, Jr. to the effect that this replacement check was indeed returned by the UCPB for the reason aforestated. This was very explicit from the Order of respondent Judge 3 denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration from the denial of her Demurrer to Evidence to wit:

". . . On the matter of the failure of the prosecution to mark in evidence the checks as alleged in the information, the prosecuting fiscal alleged that what was marked is a document executed by the accused to the effect that said checks were in her possession and that the same were replaced with other checks. Now, as to the matter of the representative of the bank not coming from the drawee bank, the Court considers this testimony of the witness as only a part of the evidence for the prosecution."

Undoubtedly, respondent Judge based the judgment of conviction, not on the checks themselves, as these were not proffered in evidence, but on petitioner's written statement, dated November 15, 1995, which respondent judge considered as admission on the part of the petitioner that, she had indeed, issued the bouncing checks subject of the informations but that she had replaced them with new checks.

Evidently, respondent Judge misconstrued and misapplied the rule with regard to admissions in criminal cases.

The issue of whether or not an admission in criminal cases is adequate to prove beyond reasonable doubt the commission of the crime charged has been settled in the case of People vs. Solayao 4 G.R. No. 119220, September 20, 1996, 262 SCRA 255.where this Court made the following pronouncements:

". . . By its very nature, an "admission is the mere acknowledgment of a fact or of circumstances from which guilt may be inferred, tending to incriminate the speaker, but not sufficient of itself to establish his guilt." In other words it is a "statement by defendant of fact or facts pertinent to issues pending, in connection with proof of other facts or circumstances, to prove guilt, but which is, of itself, insufficient to authorize conviction." From the above principles, this Court can infer that an admission in criminal cases is insufficient to prove beyond reasonable doubt the commission of the crime charged. 5 Ibid. p. 264

By itself, herein complainant's letter dated November 15, 1995, which respondent Judge construed as an admission that she indeed issued the checks subject of the Informations filed against her and that she was replacing them with new ones, does not prove beyond reasonable doubt her culpability under B.P. 22 and Article 315(2)(d) of the Revised Penal Code. To establish her guilt, it is indispensable that the checks she issued for which she was subsequently charged, be offered in evidence because the gravamen of the offense charged is the act of knowingly issuing a check with insufficient funds. 6   Lim vs. Court of Appeals, 251 SCRA 408 (1995).Clearly, it was error to convict complainant on the basis of her letter alone.

EN BANC, Justice Quisumbing, ANNABELLE R. GUTIERREZ, complainant, vs. HON. RODOLFO G. PALATTAO, respondent, [Adm. Matter No. RTJ-95-1326.  July 8, 1998.]



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