AMANDA T. CRUZ vs. WILFREDO R. CRUZ
G.R. No. 154128
February 8, 2007
- Respondent Wilfredo is a nephew by affinity of petitioner Amanda.
- In 1986, petitioner issued to respondent an undated check in the sum of P100,000 as a guarantee for the loan which certain spouses Ventura obtained from him.
- The spouses later informed petitioner that they already paid the loan, however she forgot to ask for the return of the check.
- In 1987 petitioner closed her account and opened a new one with the drawee bank.
- On December 29, 1995, respondent placed this date on the undated check issued by petitioner in 1986 and deposited the same with the drawee bank which dishonored the check due to “closed account”
- Respondent then sent the notice of dishonor to petitioner and without his knowledge, petitioner deposited P100,000 in his savings account on January 16, 1996.
- On June 5 of the same year, respondent filed a complaint for violation of BP 22 against petitioner.
- In her counter-affidavit, petitioner alleged that she forgot to ask for the return of the check. She subsequently closed her account and for 10 years she forgot having issued the check. She claimed that respondent filed the complaint against her because her husband instituted criminal and civil complaints against respondent’s brother, involving a parcel of land.
Issue: Whether petitioner is still criminally liable for violation of BP 22 although she had paid the amount of the check in full.
There is no violation of BP 22 in view of the full payment made by the petitioner before the filing of the complaint by the respondent, a fact which the latter expressly admitted. The payment of the check removes the same from the punitive provision of BP 22.
While indeed the gravamen of violation of BP 22 is the act of issuing worthless checks, nonetheless, courts should not apply the law strictly or harshly. Its spirit and purpose must be considered.
Where the creditor had collected more than a sufficient amount to cover the value of the checks, charging the debtor with a criminal offense under the Bouncing Checks Law, after the collection, is no longer tenable nor justified by law or equitable consideration.
The Bouncing Checks Law is aimed at putting a stop to or curbing the practice of issuing worthless checks or those that end up being dishonored for payment because of the injury it causes to the public interests. The law is intended to safeguard the interests of the banking system and the legitimate checking account users.
Considering that petitioner had paid the amount of the check even before respondent filed his complaint, the SC held that no injury was caused to the public interests or the banking system, or specifically to respondent.