G.R. No. 141968, 12 February 2001, 351 SCRA 516
The respondent Gueco Spouses obtained a loan from petitioner International Corporate Bank (now Union Bank of the Philippines) to purchase a car – a Nissan Sentra 1600 4DR, 1989 Model. In consideration thereof, the Spouses executed promissory notes which were payable in monthly installments and chattel mortgage over the car to serve as security for the notes. The Spouses defaulted in payment of installments.
Consequently, the Bank filed on August 7, 1995 a civil action docketed as Civil Case No. 658-95 for “Sum of Money with Prayer for a Writ of Replevin” before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Pasay City, Branch 45.
On August 25, 1995, Dr. Francis Gueco was served summons and was fetched by the sheriff and representative of the bank for a meeting in the bank premises. Desi Tomas, the Bank’s Assistant Vice President demanded payment of the amount of P184,000.00 which represents the unpaid balance for the car loan.
After some negotiations and computation, the amount was lowered to P154,000.00, However, as a result of the non-payment of the reduced amount on that date, the car was detained inside the bank’s compound.
On August 28, 1995, Dr. Gueco went to the bank and talked with its Administrative Support, Auto Loans/Credit Card Collection Head, Jefferson Rivera. The negotiations resulted in the further reduction of the outstanding loan to P150,000.00. Dr. Gueco delivered a manager’s check in amount of P150,000.00 but the car was not released because of his refusal to sign the Joint Motion to Dismiss. It is the contention of the Gueco spouses and their counsel that Dr. Gueco need not sign the motion for joint dismissal considering that they had not yet filed their Answer.
Petitioner, however, insisted that the joint motion to dismiss is standard operating procedure in their bank to effect a compromise and to preclude future filing of claims, counterclaims or suits for damages.
After several demand letters and meetings with bank representatives, the respondents Gueco spouses initiated a civil action for damages before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 33.
The Metropolitan Trial Court dismissed the complaint for lack of merit. On appeal to the Regional Trial Court, Branch 227 of Quezon City, the decision of the Metropolitan Trial Court was reversed.
The Court of Appeals essentially relied on the respect accorded to the finality of the findings of facts by the lower court and on the latter’s finding of the existence of fraud which constitutes the basis for the award of damages.
The petitioner comes to this Court by way of petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.
Whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in holding that the petitioner return the subject car to the respondents, without making any provision for the issuance of the new manager’s/cashier’s check by the respondents in favour of the petitioner in lieu of the original cashier’s check that already became stale.
In the meeting of August 29, 1995, respondent Dr. Gueco delivered a manager’s check representing the reduced amount of P150,000.00. Said check was given to Mr. Rivera, a representative of respondent bank. However, since Dr. Gueco refused to sign the joint motion to dismiss, he was made to execute a statement to the effect that he was withholding the payment of the check. Subsequently, in a letter addressed to Ms. Desi Tomas, vice president of the bank, dated September 4, 1995, Dr. Gueco instructed the bank to disregard the ‘hold order” letter and demanded the immediate release of his car, to which the former replied that the condition of signing the joint motion to dismiss must be satisfied and that they had kept the check which could be claimed by Dr. Gueco anytime. While there is controversy as to whether the document evidencing the order to hold payment of the check was formally offered as evidence by petitioners, it appears from the pleadings that said check has not been encashed.
Respondents would make us hold that petitioner should return the car or its value and that the latter, because of its own negligence, should suffer the loss occasioned by the fact that the check had become stale. It is their position that delivery of the manager’s check produced the effect of payment and, thus, petitioner was negligent in opting not to deposit or use said check. Rudimentary sense of justice and fair play would not countenance respondents’ position.
In the case at bar, however, the check involved is not an ordinary bill of exchange but a manager’s check. A manager’s check is one drawn by the bank’s manager upon the bank itself. It is similar to a cashier’s check both as to effect and use. A cashier’s check is a check of the bank’s cashier on his own or another check. In effect, it is a bill of exchange drawn by the cashier of a bank upon the bank itself, and accepted in advance by the act of its issuance. It is really the bank’s own check and may be treated as a promissory note with the bank as a maker. The check becomes the primary obligation of the bank which issues it and constitutes its written promise to pay upon demand. The mere issuance of it is considered an acceptance thereof. If treated as promissory note, the drawer would be the maker and in which case the holder need not prove presentment for payment or present the bill to the drawee for acceptance.
Even assuming that presentment is needed, failure to present for payment within a reasonable time will result to the discharge of the drawer only to the extent of the loss caused by the delay. Failure to present on time, thus, does not totally wipe out all liability. In fact, the legal situation amounts to an acknowledgment of liability in the sum stated in the check. In this case, the Gueco spouses have not alleged, much less shown that they or the bank which issued the manager’s check has suffered damage or loss caused by the delay or non-presentment.
Definitely, the original obligation to pay certainly has not been erased.
*Case digest by Mary Tweetie Antonette G. Semprun, JD-IV, Andres Bonifacio College, SY: 2019-2020