G.R. No. 200090, 6 March 2013.
Petitioner Erlinda San Mateo ordered assorted yarns from ITSP through its the Vice President for Operations, Ravin A. Sehwani. In partial payment, thereof, she issued 11 postdated checks.
But whenever a check matured, San Mateo would call Sehwani requesting him not to deposit the checks.
Sehwani finally deposited one check, but was it dishonored due to insufficient funds. He informed San Mateo of the dishonor, who asked him to defer depositing the other checks since she was encountering financial difficulties.
Sehwani deposited another check but was dishonored due to a stop payment order. Sehwani deposited the remaining checks which were all dishonored because the account had been closed. Sehwani attempted to contact San Mateo but she never responded.
Sehwani’s counsel then sent a demand letter to San Mateo’s residence but the security guard of the townhouse complex refused to accept the letter. Thereafter, he sent a copy of the demand letter to San Mateo by registered mail which was returned to his counsel’s office with the notation "N/S Party Out 12/12/05" and that San Mateo did not claim it despite three notices to her.
San Mateo was charged with 11 counts of violation of B.P. 22, and was found guilty of 10 counts by the MTC. On appeal, the ruling was affirmed by the RTC and the CA.
ISSUE: W/N San Mateo was guilty of violating B.P. 22.
To be liable for violation of B.P. 22, the following essential elements must be present:
- The making, drawing, and issuance of any check to apply for account or for value;
- The knowledge of the maker, drawer, or issuer that at the time of issue he does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the payment of the check in full upon its presentment; and
- 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.
However, the second element was not sufficiently established. Section 2 of B.P. 22 creates the presumption that the issuer of the check was aware of the insufficiency of funds when he issued a check and the bank dishonored it. This presumption, however, arises only after it is proved that the issuer had received a written notice of dishonor.
Here, when Sehwani's counsel's attempted to serve the notice by leaving a copy with the security guard, there was no showing that the letter ever reached San Mateo.
On the second occasion, Sehwani's counsel sent a demand letter to San Mateo by registered mail. However, the prosecution must not only prove that a notice of dishonor was sent to the accused, it must also prove actual receipt of said notice, because the fact of service provided for in the law is reckoned from receipt of such notice of dishonor by the accused.
Since there is insufficient proof that San Mateo actually received the notice of dishonor, the presumption that she knew of the insufficiency of her funds cannot arise. For this reason, the Court cannot convict her of violation of B.P. 22.
Nevertheless, San Mateo’s acquittal does not entail the extinguishment of her civil liability for the dishonored checks. An acquittal based on lack of proof beyond reasonable doubt does not preclude the award of civil damages.