G.R. NO. 141669, 28 February 2005
Jaime Dico, now petitioner, was charged on 28 March 1994 with three (3) counts of violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 before the MTC. When arraigned on 11 January 1995, accused pleaded not guilty to each of the charges. Upon agreement of the parties, pre-trial of the cases was waived. The cases were consolidated and were jointly heard.
He included the above-mentioned four (4) post dated checks as a sign of good faith; and as a way of commitment to pay his outstanding balance to the complainant which is to [be] amortized as follows: May 12, 1993 P100,000.00; June 12, 1993 – P200,000.00; July 12, 1993 P300,000.00; and on August 12, 1993 P300,000.00; but his proposal was rejected by the complainants top management in Manila; that based on Exh. 8 which is the Summary furnished by Debbie Dy, incumbent Branch Manager of the complainant network in Cebu City, his outstanding balance to the complainant is P752,389.19, but with the payment of P100,000.00 he made on April 7, 1993, his balance to the complainant is P652,389.19.
That he does not understand why his total obligation to the complainant has already reached P1,035,589.28 when his credit line is only P499,000.00; hence, he approached the complainants manager to reconcile his accounts and find out where the complainant was mistaken; that even if his accounts were reconciled, he cannot admit that his obligation to the complainant has already reached millions; and that the problem with the complainant is that it did not return to him the checks which he sent to the complainant together with his proposal to reconcile his accounts.
Whether or not the prosecution was able to prove all the elements of B.P. Blg. 22.
No. The essential elements of the offense penalized under Section 1, B.P. Blg. 22 are as follows:
(1) the making, drawing and issuance of any check to apply to account or for value;
(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 for the payment of such check in full upon its presentment; and
(3) 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, ordered the bank to stop payment.
The prosecution has the burden to prove all the elements of the crime beyond reasonable doubt.
Failure to do so will necessarily result in exoneration. As regards FEBTC Check No. 369404 dated 12 June 1993 which was deposited on 14 June 1993, petitioner maintains that the notice of dishonor given for said check was not the one required by law since said notice was given before the check became due and before it was deposited.
The record of the case shows the only letter received by petitioner involving the three checks subject of these cases was the one dated 08 June 1993. This letter sent by the counsel of private complainant asked petitioner to make good the checks within five (5) days from receipt thereof, otherwise, criminal charges for violation of B.P. Blg. 22 will be filed against him.
For this presumption to arise, the prosecution must prove the following:
(a) the check is presented within ninety (90) days from the date of the check;
(b) the drawer or maker of the check receives notice that such check has not been paid by the drawee; and
(c) the drawer or maker of the check fails to pay the holder of the check the amount due thereon, or make arrangements for payment in full within five (5) banking days after receiving notice that such check has not been paid by the drawee.
In other words, the presumption is 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 pay the amount of the check or to make arrangements for its payment.
The presumption or prima facie evidence as provided in this section cannot arise, if such notice of nonpayment by the drawee bank is not sent to the maker or drawer, or if there is no proof as to when such notice was received by the drawer, since there would simply be no way of reckoning the crucial 5-day period.
A notice of dishonor received by the maker or drawer of the check is thus indispensable before a conviction can ensue. The notice of dishonor may be sent by the offended party or the drawee bank. The notice must be in writing. A mere oral notice to pay a dishonored check will not suffice. The lack of a written notice is fatal for the prosecution.
The requirement of notice, its sending to, and its actual receipt by, the drawer or maker of the check gives the latter the option to prevent criminal prosecution if he 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 the check has not been paid.
As already stated above, the only notice received by petitioner for the three checks involved in these cases was that dated 08 June 1993. There is no dispute that there was indeed a demand letter from the counsel of Equitable Card Network, Inc., but the same was received by petitioner before the checks maturity or due date on 12 June 1993.
As testified to by prosecution witness Lily Canlas, the demand letter was sent to petitioner on 08 June 1993 and the check was deposited on 14 June 1993. The demand letter was sent four days before the date of the check and six days before said check was deposited.
This Court rules that as regards FEBTC Check No. 369404, petitioner did not receive the notice of dishonor contemplated by the law. There was no valid notice of dishonor to speak of. The term notice of dishonor denotes that a check has been presented for payment and was subsequently dishonored by the drawee bank.
This means that the check must necessarily be due and demandable because only a check that has become due can be presented for payment and subsequently be dishonored. A postdated check cannot be dishonored if presented for payment before its due date.
The failure of Equitable Card Network, Inc., to send another letter demanding that FEBTC Check No. 369404 be paid within five days after it has been dishonored prevents the disputable presumption – that petitioner had knowledge of the insufficiency of his funds at the time he issued the check – from arising. Absent such presumption, the burden of evidence shifts to the prosecution to prove such knowledge.
There being no evidence presented by the prosecution to show that petitioner had knowledge of the insufficiency of his funds at the time he issued the check, the second element of the offense was not satisfied. Accordingly, having failed to prove all the elements of B.P. Blg. 22, petitioner must, perforce, be acquitted in Criminal Case No. 38255-R.
*Case digest by Benjie L. Sumalpong, JD-IV, Andres Bonifacio College, SY: 2019-2020