559 Phil. 65
That on or about the 13th day of March 1994 in the Municipality of Pasig, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously make or draw and issue to Ilyon Industrial Corporation to apply on account or for value the check described below:Except as to the numbers and dates of the other nine checks issued by petitioner, and the reason for their dishonor (drawn against insufficient funds), the Informations in Criminal Cases Nos. 14355-14363 and the above Information are similarly worded.
Check No. : AGRO94438 Drawn against : United Coconut Planters Bank In the amount : P47,250.00 Dated/Postdated : March 13, 1994 Payable to : Ilyon Industrial Corp. rep. by Benedict Tan
said accused well knowing that at the time of issue he did not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the payment in full of the face amount of such check upon its presentment, which check could have been dishonored for insufficiency of funds had not the accused, without any valid reason, ordered the bank to "Stop Payment", and despite receipt of notice of such dishonor, the accused failed to pay said payee the face amount of the said check or made arrangement for full payment thereof within five (5) banking days after receiving notice.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the Court hereby renders judgment finding the accused, Francisco Bax, "GUILTY" of the crime of Violations of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22, (10) counts, and accordingly sentences him to suffer imprisonment of six (6) months in each case and to pay the offended party the sum of P464,750.00, the amount of all the ten (10) checks and to pay the cost.On appeal, the RTC, Branch 70, Pasig City, presided by Judge Pablito Rojas, rendered a Joint Decision dated December 14, 1998 affirming with modification the MeTC Decision, thus:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Decision of the Court a quo is hereby AFFIRMED with the following MODIFICATIONS:On appeal, the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 23356 rendered its Decision on December 19, 2000 affirming in toto the RTC Decision. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but it was denied by the appellate court in a Resolution dated September 5, 2001.
(a) accused is ACQUITTED in Criminal case No. 14354;
(b) the sentence imposed on accused in Criminal Case Nos. 14355 to 14363 of six (6) months imprisonment for each is hereby increased to ONE (1) YEAR in each case; and
(c) the total amount of indemnity to be paid by the accused to the complainant-corporation is PHP 417,500.00.
SECTION 1. Checks without sufficient funds. - Any person who makes or draws and issues any check to apply on account or for value, knowing at the time of issue that he does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the payment of such check in full upon its presentment, which check is subsequently dishonored by the drawee bank for insufficiency of funds or credit or would have been dishonored for the same reason had not the drawer, without any valid reason, ordered the bank to stop payment, shall be punished by imprisonment of not less than thirty days but not more than one (1) year or by a fine of not less than but not more than double the amount of the check which fine shall in no case exceed Two hundred thousand pesos, or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court.Thus, the prosecution must prove the following essential elements of the offense:
The same penalty shall be imposed upon any person who having sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank when he makes or draws and issues a check, shall fail to keep sufficient funds or to maintain a credit to cover the full amount of the check if presented within a period of ninety (90) days from the date appearing thereon, for which reason it is dishonored by the drawee bank.
Where the check is drawn by a corporation, company or entity, the person or persons who actually signed the check in behalf of such drawer shall be liable under this Act.
(1) the making, drawing, and issuance of any check to apply for account or for value;We find that the prosecution failed to prove the second element.
(2) the knowledge of the maker, drawer, or issuer that at the time of issue there are no sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the payment of such check in full upon its presentment; and
(3) the 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.
SEC. 2. Evidence of knowledge of insufficient funds. — The making, drawing and issuance of a check payment of which is refused by the drawee bank because of insufficient funds in or credit with such bank, when presented within ninety (90) days from the date of the check, shall be prima facie evidence of knowledge of such insufficiency of funds or credit, unless such maker or drawer pays the holder thereof 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 such check has not been paid by the drawee.While it is true that ILYON, through its president, Benedict Tan, asked petitioner to pay the dishonored checks, however, such kind of notice is not the one required by B.P. 22.
While, indeed, Section 2 of B.P. Blg. 22 does not state that the notice of dishonor be in writing, taken in conjunction, however, with Section 3 of the law. i.e., "that where there are no sufficient funds in or credit with such drawee bank, such fact shall always be explicitly stated in the notice of dishonor or refusal," a mere oral notice or demand to pay would appear to be insufficient for conviction under the law. The Court is convinced that both the spirit and letter of the Bouncing Checks Law would require for the act to be punished thereunder not only that the accused issued a check that is dishonored, but that likewise the accused has actually been notified in writing of the fact of dishonor. The consistent rule is that penal statutes have to be construed strictly against the State and liberally in favor of the accused. (Emphasis supplied)Since petitioner did not receive a written notice of dishonor of the checks, obviously, there is no way of determining when the 5-day period prescribed in Section 2 of B.P. 22 would start and end. Thus, the prima facie evidence of petitioner's knowledge of the insufficiency of funds or credit at the time he issued the checks did not arise.