G.R. No. 141181, 27 April 2007
Petitioner Ching, a Chinese national, and Emma Nuguid instituted criminal complaints and for violation of BP 22 against respondent Nicdao.
Petitioner Ching averred that the checks were issued to him by respondent Nicdao as security for the loans that she obtained from him. They agreed that respondent Nicdao would leave the checks undated and that she would pay the loans within one year. However, when petitioner Ching went to see her after the lapse of one year to ask for payment, respondent Nicdao allegedly said that she had no cash. Petitioner Ching then deposited the checks that she issued to him.
On one hand, with respect to the P20,000,000.00 check (Check No. 002524), petitioner Ching explained that he wrote the date and amount thereon when, upon his estimation, the money that he regularly lent to respondent Nicdao beginning October 1995 reached the said sum.
Respondent Nicdao clarified that, except for the P20,000,000.00 check, the other ten (10) checks were handed to Nuguid on different occasions. Nuguid came to the grocery store everyday to collect the interest payments. Respondent Nicdao said that she purposely left the checks undated because she would still have to notify Nuguid if she already had the money to fund the checks.
Respondent Nicdao was surprised to be notified by HSLB that her check in the amount of P20,000,000.00 was just presented to the bank for payment. She claimed that it was only then that she remembered that sometime in 1995, she was informed by her employee that one of her checks was missing. At that time, she did not let it bother her thinking that it would eventually surface when presented to the bank. Respondent Nicdao could not explain how the said check came into petitioner Ching’s possession.
Hence, this petition.
Whether or not Respondent Nicdao is liable to Petitioner Ching for the amount of P20,000,000 as evidenced by a check that was claimed by the Respondent to be incomplete and undelivered.
No. Respondent Nicdao is not liable as to the P20,000,000 check claimed by Petitioner Ching.
Applying Sections 15 and 16 of the Negotiable Instruments Law, the P20,000,000.00 check was a stolen check which was never issued nor delivered by respondent Nicdao to petitioner Ching. It was an incomplete and undelivered check. Hence, there can be no acquisition of any right or interest therein and cannot assert any cause of action founded on the stolen checks.
As previously shown, at the time check no. 002524 was stolen, the said check was blank in its material aspect (as to the name of payee, the amount of the check, and the date of the check), but was already pre-signed by respondent. In fact, complainant Ching himself admitted that check no. 002524 in his possession was a blank check. True, indeed, the missing pre-signed and undated check no. 002524 surfaced in the possession of complainant Ching who, in cahoots with his paramour Emma Nuguid, filled up the blank check with his name as payee and in the fantastic amount of P20,000,000.00, dated it October 6, 1997, and presented it to the bank on October 7, 1997, along with the other checks, for payment. Such filling up was without the authority of the drawer-respondent. Therefore, the inference that the check was stolen is anchored on competent circumstantial evidence. The fact already established is that Emma Nuguid, previous owner of the store, had access to said store. Moreover, the possession of a thing that was stolen, absent a credible reason, as in this case, gives rise to the presumption that the person in possession of the stolen article is presumed to be guilty of taking the stolen article (People v. Zafra, 237 SCRA 664).
It goes without saying that since complainant Ching did not acquire any right or interest over check no. 002524 and cannot assert any cause of action founded on said check, respondent has no obligation to make good the stolen check and cannot, therefore, be held liable for violation of B.P. Blg. 22.
*Case Digest by Doreena Pauline V. Aranal, JD – 4, Andres Bonifacio College, SY 2019 – 2020