G.R. No. 116320, 29 November 1999, 319 SCRA 354
A contract which was entered into by A. Francisco Realty & Development Corporation (AFRDC), represented by Adalia Francisco (Francisco) as the president, and private respondent Herby Commercial & Construction Corporation (HCCC), represented by its President and General Manager private respondent Jaime C. Ong (Ong), pursuant to a housing project financed by the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).
The payment of HCCC for its services was on a turn-key basis, that is, HCCC was to be paid on the basis of the completed houses and developed lands delivered to and accepted by AFRDC and the GSIS. To facilitate payment, AFRDC executed a Deed of Assignment in favor of HCCC to enable the latter to collect payments directly from the GSIS. Furthermore, the GSIS and AFRDC put up an Executive Committee Account with the Insular Bank of Asia & America (IBAA) from which checks would be issued and co-signed by petitioner Francisco and the GSIS Vice-President Armando Diaz (Diaz).
HCCC filed a complaint before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City against Francisco, AFRDC and the GSIS for the collection of the unpaid balance under the Land Development and Construction Contract in the amount of P515,493.89 for completed and delivered housing units and land development but was later on dismissed after an amicable settlement was executed by the parties. However, after examination of the records of the GSIS, Ong discovered that Diaz and Francisco had executed and signed seven checks, of various dates and amounts, drawn against the IBAA and payable to HCCC for completed and delivered work under the contract which the former claimed that it was not delivered and that GSIS gave the custody of the checks to Francisco. Ong’s signature was allegedly forged without the latter’s consent to make it appear that HCCC indorsed the checks and plaintiff indorsed the checks for a second time by signing her name at the back of the checks and deposited the checks in her IBAA savings account.
IBAA credited Francisco’s account with the amount of the checks and the latter withdrew the amount so credited. The present case was brought by private respondents on November 19, 1979 against Francisco and IBAA for the recovery of P370,475.00, representing the total value of the seven checks, and for damages, attorney’s fees, expenses of litigation and costs. After trial on the merits, the trial court rendered its decision in favor of private respondents, which was appealed by IBAA and Francisco but was denied by the Appellate Court.
A compromise agreement was then entered into by HCCC and IBAA which was approved by the Trial Court without prejudice to the right of the latter to pursue its claims against Francisco. Francisco, on the other hand, interposed the defense that she was authorized to sign Ong’s name on the checks by virtue of the Certification executed by Ong in her favor giving her the authority to collect all the receivables of HCCC from the GSIS, including the questioned checks.
Whether or not Francisco forged the signature of Ong in the seven checks.
As regards the forgery, we concur with the lower courts’, finding that Francisco forged the signature of Ong on the checks to make it appear as if Ong had indorsed said checks and that, after indorsing the checks for a second time by signing her name at the back of the checks, Francisco deposited said checks in her savings account with IBAA.
The forgery was satisfactorily established in the trial court upon the strength of the findings of the NBI handwriting expert. Other than petitioner’s self-serving denials, there is nothing in the records to rebut the NBI’s findings.
Well-entrenched is the rule that findings of trial courts which are factual in nature, especially when affirmed by the Court of Appeals, deserve to be respected and affirmed by the Supreme Court, provided it is supported by substantial evidence on record, as it is in the case at bench. Petitioner claims that she was, in any event, authorized to sign Ong’s name on the checks by virtue of the Certification executed by Ong in her favor giving her the authority to collect all the receivables of HCCC from the GSIS, including the questioned checks. Petitioner’s alternative defense must similarly fail.
The Negotiable Instruments Law provides that where any person is under obligation to indorse in a representative capacity, he may indorse in such terms as to negative personal liability. An agent, when so signing, should indicate that he is merely signing in behalf of the principal and must disclose the name of his principal; otherwise he shall be held personally liable. Even assuming that Francisco was authorized by HCCC to sign Ong’s name, still, Francisco did not indorse the instrument in accordance with law. Instead of signing Ong’s name, Francisco should have signed her own name and expressly indicated that she was signing as an agent of HCCC. Thus, the Certification cannot be used by Francisco to validate her act of forgery.
*Case digest by Jay Mark P. Balbosa, JD-IV, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2019-2020