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International Corporate Bank vs.


International 351 SCRA 516 Facts: Respon ent Gueco spouses o!taine a loan "ro# petitioner International Corporate Bank $no% &nion Bank o" '(ilippines) to purc(ase a car * +issan Sentra 1,-, #o el. In consi eration. spouses e/ecute pro#issor0 note %(ic( %ere pa0a!le in #ont(l0 install#ent 1 c(attel #ort2a2e over t(e car. 3(e spouses e"aulte pa0#ent. 4r. Gueco (a a #eetin2 1 t(e unpai %as re uce to '150k. 6o%ever. t(e car %as etaine !0 t(e !ank. install#ent o" '1-5k Corporate Bank vs. Gueco

7(en 4r. Gueco elivere t(e #an2er8s c(eck o" '150k. t(e car %as not release (is re"usal to si2n t(e 9oint :otion to 4is#iss.

!ecause o"

3(e !ank insiste t(at t(e 9:4 is a stan ar operatin2 proce ure to e""ect a co#pro#ise 1 to preclu e "uture "ilin2 o" clai#s or suits "or a#a2es. Gueco spouses "ile an action a2ainst t(e !ank "or "rau . "ailin2 to in"or# t(e# re2ar in2 9:4 urin2 t(e #eetin2 1 "or not releasin2 t(e car i" t(e0 o not si2n t(e sai #otion. Issue: 7;+ t(e !ank %as 2uilt0 o" "rau < +; 6el : Frau (as !een e"ine as t(e eli!erate intention to cause a#a2e or pre=u ice. It is t(e voluntar0 e/ecution o" a %ron2"ul act. or a %ill"ul o#ission. kno%in2 an inten in2 t(e e""ects %(ic( naturall0 an necessaril0 arise "ro# suc( act or o#ission. t(e "rau re"erre to in Article 11>0 o" t(e Civil Co e is t(e eli!erate an intentional evasion o" t(e nor#al "ul"ill#ent o" o!li2ation. 7e "ail to see (o% t(e act o" t(e petitioner !ank in re?uirin2 t(e respon ent to si2n t(e =oint #otion to is#iss coul constitute as "rau . 3(e 9:4 cannot in an0 %a0 (ave pre=u ice 4r. Gueco. 3(e #otion to is#iss %as in "act also "or t(e !ene"it o" 4r. Gueco. as t(e case "ile !0 petitioner a2ainst it !e"ore t(e lo%er court %oul !e is#isse %it( pre=u ice. 3(e %(ole point o" t(e parties enterin2 into t(e co#pro#ise a2ree#ent %as in or er t(at 4r. Gueco %oul pa0 (is outstan in2 account an in return petitioner %oul return t(e car an rop t(e case "or #one0 an replevin !e"ore t(e :etropolitan 3rial Court. 3(e =oint #otion to is#iss %as !ut a natural conse?uence o" t(e co#pro#ise a2ree#ent an si#pl0 state t(at 4r. Gueco (a "ull0 settle (is o!li2ation. (ence. t(e is#issal o" t(e case. 'etitioner8s act o" re?uirin2 4r. Gueco to si2n t(e =oint #otion to is#iss cannot !e sai to !e a eli!erate atte#pt on t(e part o" petitioner to rene2e on t(e co#pro#ise a2ree#ent o" t(e parties.

3(e la% presu#es 2oo "ait(. 4r. Gueco "aile to present an iota o" evi ence to overco#e t(is presu#ption. In "act. t(e act o" petitioner !ank in lo%erin2 t(e e!t o" 4r. Gueco "ro# '1-5.000.00 to '150.000.00 is in icative o" its 2oo "ait( an sincere esire to settle t(e case. I" respon ent i su""er an0 a#a2e. as a result o" t(e %it((ol in2 o" (is car !0 petitioner. (e (as onl0 (i#sel" to !la#e. +ecessaril0. t(e clai# "or e/e#plar0 a#a2es #ust "ail. In no %a0. #a0 t(e con uct o" petitioner !e c(aracteri@e as A%anton. "rau ulent. reckless. oppressive or #alevolent.B


[G.R. No. 141968. February 12, 2001]

THE INTERNATIONAL COR ORATE !AN" #$o% &NION !AN" OF THE HILI INE'(, petitioner, vs. ' '. FRANCI' '. G&ECO a$) *A. L&+ E. G&ECO, respondents. ,ECI'ION
"A &NAN, J.-

The respondents Gueco Spouses obtained a loan from petitioner International Corporate Bank no! "nion Bank of the #hilippines$ to purchase a car % a Nissan Sentra &'(( )DR* &+,+ -odel. In consideration thereof* the Spouses e/ecuted promissor0 notes !hich !ere pa0able in monthl0 installments and chattel mort1a1e o2er the car to ser2e as securit0 for the notes. The Spouses defaulted in pa0ment of installments. Conse3uentl0* the Bank filed on 4u1ust 5* &++6 a ci2il action docketed as Ci2il Case No. '6,7+6 for 8Sum of -one0 !ith #ra0er for a 9rit of Reple2in: ;&< before the -etropolitan Trial Court of #asa0 Cit0* Branch )6. ;=< On 4u1ust =6* &++6* Dr. Francis Gueco !as ser2ed summons and !as fetched b0 the sheriff and representati2e of the bank for a meetin1 in the bank premises. Desi Tomas* the Bank>s 4ssistant Vice #resident demanded pa0ment of the amount of #&,)*(((.(( !hich represents the unpaid balance for the car loan. 4fter some ne1otiations and computation* the amount !as lo!ered to #&6)*(((.((* ?o!e2er* as a result of the non7pa0ment of the reduced amount on that date* the car !as detained inside the bank>s compound. On 4u1ust =,* &++6* Dr. Gueco !ent to the bank and talked !ith its 4dministrati2e Support* 4uto @oansACredit Card Collection ?ead* Befferson Ri2era. The ne1otiations resulted in the further reduction of the outstandin1 loan to #&6(*(((.((.

On 4u1ust =+* &++6* Dr. Gueco deli2ered a mana1er>s check in the amount of #&6(*(((.(( but the car !as not released because of his refusal to si1n the Boint -otion to Dismiss. It is the contention of the Gueco spouses and their counsel that Dr. Gueco need not si1n the motion for Coint dismissal considerin1 that the0 had not 0et filed their 4ns!er. #etitioner* ho!e2er* insisted that the Coint motion to dismiss is standard operatin1 procedure in their bank to effect a compromise and to preclude future filin1 of claims* counterclaims or suits for dama1es. 4fter se2eral demand letters and meetin1s !ith bank representati2es* the respondents Gueco spouses initiated a ci2il action for dama1es before the -etropolitan Trial Court of DueEon Cit0* Branch FF. The -etropolitan Trial Court dismissed the complaint for lack of merit. ;F< On appeal to the Re1ional Trial Court* Branch ==5 of DueEon Cit0* the decision of the -etropolitan Trial Court !as re2ersed. In its decision* the RTC held that there !as a meetin1 of the minds bet!een the parties as to the reduction of the amount of indebtedness and the release of the car but said a1reement did not include the si1nin1 of the Coint motion to dismiss as a condition sine qua non for the effecti2it0 of the compromise. The court further ordered the bankG
&. to return immediatel0 the subCect car to the appellants in 1ood !orkin1 conditionH 4ppellee ma0 deposit the -ana1er>s check % the proceeds of !hich ha2e lon1 been under the control of the issuin1 bank in fa2or of the appellee since its issuance* !hereas the funds ha2e lon1 been paid b0 appellants to secure said -ana1er>s Check* o2er !hich appellants ha2e no controlH =. to pa0 the appellants the sum of #6(*(((.(( as moral dama1esH #=6*(((.(( as e/emplar0 dama1es* and #=6*(((.(( as attorne0>s fees* and F. to pa0 the cost of suit.

In other respect* the decision of the -etropolitan Trial Court Branch FF is hereb0 4FFIR-ID.;)< The case !as ele2ated to the Court of 4ppeals* !hich on Februar0 &5* =(((* issued the assailed decision* the decretal portion of !hich readsG 9?IRIFORI* premises considered* the petition for re2ie! on certiorari is hereb0 DINIID and the Decision of the Re1ional Trial Court of DueEon Cit0* Branch ==5* in Ci2il Case No. D7+57F&&5'* for lack of an0 re2ersible error* is 4FFIR-ID in toto. Costs a1ainst petitioner. SO ORDIRID.;6<

The Court of 4ppeals essentiall0 relied on the respect accorded to the finalit0 of the findin1s of facts b0 the lo!er court and on the latterJs findin1 of the e/istence of fraud !hich constitutes the basis for the a!ard of dama1es. The petitioner comes to this Court b0 !a0 of petition for re2ie! on certiorari under Rule )6 of the Rules of Court* raisin1 the follo!in1 assi1ned errorsG



T?I CO"RT OF 4##I4@S IRRID IN ?O@DING T?4T T?I #ITITIONIR RIT"RN T?I S"BBICT C4R TO T?I RIS#ONDINTS* 9IT?O"T -4MING 4NL #ROVISION FOR T?I ISS"4NCI OF T?I NI9 -4N4GIR>SAC4S?IIR>S C?ICM BL T?I RIS#ONDINTS IN F4VOR OF T?I #ITITIONIR IN @II" OF T?I ORIGIN4@ C4S?IIR>S C?ICM T?4T 4@RI4DL BIC4-I ST4@I.;'< 4s to the first issue* !e find for the respondents. The issue as to !hat constitutes the terms of the oral compromise or an0 subse3uent no2ation is a 3uestion of fact that !as resol2ed b0 the Re1ional Trial Court and the Court of 4ppeals in fa2or of respondents. It is !ell settled that the findin1s of fact of the lo!er court* especiall0 !hen affirmed b0 the Court of 4ppeals* are bindin1 upon this Court.;5< 9hile there are e/ceptions to this rule* ;,< the present case does not fall under an0 one of them* the petitioner>s claim to the contrar0* not!ithstandin1. Bein1 an affirmati2e alle1ation* petitioner has the burden of e2idence to pro2e his claim that the oral compromise entered into b0 the parties on 4u1ust =,* &++6 included the stipulation that the parties !ould Cointl0 file a motion to dismiss. This petitioner failed to do. Notabl0* e2en the -etropolitan Trial Court* !hile rulin1 in fa2or of the petitioner and thereb0 dismissin1 the

complaint* did not make a factual findin1 that the compromise a1reement included the condition of the si1nin1 of a Coint motion to dismiss. The Court of 4ppeals made the factual findin1s in this !iseG In support of its claim* petitioner presented the testimon0 of -r. Befferson Ri2era !ho related that respondent Dr. Gueco !as a!are that the si1nin1 of the draft of the Boint -otion to Dismiss !as one of the conditions set b0 the bank for the acceptance of the reduced amount of indebtedness and the release of the car. TSN* October =F* &++'* pp. &57=&* Rollo* pp. &,* 6$. Respondents* ho!e2er* maintained that no such condition !as e2er discussed durin1 their meetin1 of 4u1ust =,* &++6 Rollo* p. F=$. The trial court* !hose factual findin1s are entitled to respect since it has the Nopportunit0 to directl0 obser2e the !itnesses and to determine b0 their demeanor on the stand the probati2e 2alue of their testimonies> #eople 2s. Ladao* et al. =&' SCR4 &* 5 ;&++=<$* failed to make a cate1orical findin1 on the issue. In dismissin1 the claim of dama1es of the respondents* it merel0 obser2ed that respondents are not entitled to indemnit0 since it !as their unCustified reluctance to si1n of the Boint -otion to Dismiss that dela0ed the release of the car. The trial court opined* thusG N4s re1ards the third issue* plaintiffs> claim for dama1es is una2ailin1. First* the plaintiffs could ha2e a2oided the rentin1 of another car and could ha2e a2oided this liti1ation had he si1ned the Boint -otion to Dismiss. 9hile it is true that herein defendant can unilaterall0 dismiss the case for collection of sum of mone0 !ith reple2in* it is e3uall0 true that there is nothin1 !ron1 for the plaintiff to affi/ his si1nature in the Boint -otion to Dismiss* for after all* the dismissal of the case a1ainst him is for his o!n 1ood and benefit. In fact* the si1nin1 of the Boint -otion to Dismiss 1i2es the plaintiff three F$ ad2anta1es. First* he !ill reco2er his car. Second* he !ill pa0 his obli1ation to the bank on its reduced amount of #&6(*(((.(( instead of its ori1inal claim of #&,)*+,6.(+. 4nd third* the case a1ainst him !ill be dismissed. #laintiffs* like!ise* are not entitled to the a!ard of moral dama1es and e/emplar0 dama1es as there is no sho!in1 that the defendant bank acted fraudulentl0 or in bad faith.> Rollo* p. &6$ The Court has noted* ho!e2er* that the trial court* in its findin1s of facts* clearl0 indicated that the a1reement of the parties on 4u1ust =,* &++6 !as merel0 for the lo!erin1 of the price* hence 7

N/// On 4u1ust =,* &++6* bank representati2e Befferson Ri2era and plaintiff entered into an oral compromise a1reement* !hereb0 the ori1inal claim of the bank of #&,)*+,6.(+ !as reduced to #&6(*(((.(( and that upon pa0ment of !hich* plaintiff !as informed that the subCect motor 2ehicle !ould be released to him.> Rollo* p. &=$ The lo!er court* on the other hand* e/pressl0 made a findin1 that petitioner failed to include the aforesaid si1nin1 of the Boint -otion to Dismiss as part of the a1reement. In dismissin1 petitioner>s claim* the lo!er court declared* thusG NIf it is true* as the appellees alle1e* that the si1nin1 of the Coint motion !as a condition sine qua non for the reduction of the appellants> obli1ation* it is onl0 reasonable and lo1ical to assume that the Coint motion should ha2e been sho!n to Dr. Gueco in the 4u1ust =,* &++6 meetin1. 9h0 Dr. Gueco !as not 1i2en a cop0 of the Coint motion that da0 of 4u1ust =,* &++6* for his famil0 or le1al counsel to see to be brou1ht si1ned* to1ether !ith the #&6(*(((.(( in mana1er>s check form to be submitted on the follo!in1 da0 on 4u1ust =+* &++6O sic$ ;I<s a 3uestion !hereb0 the ans!er up to no! eludes this Court>s comprehension. The appellees !ould like this Court to belie2e that Dr. Gueco !as informed b0 -r. Ri2era of the bank re3uirement of si1nin1 the Coint motion on 4u1ust =,* &++6 but he did not bother to sho! a cop0 thereof to his famil0 or le1al counsel that da0 4u1ust =,* &++6. This part of the theor0 of appellee is too complicated for an0 simple oral a1reement. The idea of a Boint -otion to Dismiss bein1 si1ned as a condition to the pushin1 throu1h a deal surfaced onl0 on 4u1ust =+* &++6. NThis Court is not con2inced b0 the appellees> posturin1. Such claim rests on too slender a frame* bein1 inconsistent !ith human e/perience. Considerin1 the effect of the si1nin1 of the Boint -otion to Dismiss on the appellants> substanti2e ri1ht* it is more in accord !ith human e/perience to e/pect Dr. Gueco* upon bein1 sho!n the Boint -otion to Dismiss* to refuse to pa0 the -ana1er>s Check and for the bank to refuse to accept the mana1erJs check. The onl0 lo1ical e/planation for this inaction is that Dr. Gueco !as not sho!n the Boint -otion to Dismiss in the meetin1 of 4u1ust =,* &++6* bolsterin1 his claim that its si1nin1 !as ne2er put into consideration in reachin1 a compromise.> ///.;+< 9e see no reason to re2erse. 4nent the issue of a!ard of dama1es* !e find the claim of petitioner meritorious. In findin1 the petitioner liable for dama1es* both the Re1ional

Trial Court and the Court of 4ppeals ruled that there !as fraud on the part of the petitioner. The C4 thus declaredG The lo!er courtJs findin1 of fraud !hich became the basis of the a!ard of dama1es !as like!ise sufficientl0 pro2en. Fraud under 4rticle &&5( of the Ci2il Code of the #hilippines* as amended is the Ndeliberate and intentional e2asion of the normal fulfillment of obli1ation> 9hen petitioner refused to release the car despite respondentJs tender of pa0ment in the form of a mana1erJs check* the former intentionall0 e2aded its obli1ation and thereb0 became liable for moral and e/emplar0 dama1es* as !ell as attorne0>s fees. ;&(< 9e disa1ree. Fraud has been defined as the deliberate intention to cause dama1e or preCudice. It is the 2oluntar0 e/ecution of a !ron1ful act* or a !illful omission* kno!in1 and intendin1 the effects !hich naturall0 and necessaril0 arise from such act or omissionH the fraud referred to in 4rticle &&5( of the Ci2il Code is the deliberate and intentional e2asion of the normal fulfillment of obli1ation. ;&&< 9e fail to see ho! the act of the petitioner bank in re3uirin1 the respondent to si1n the Coint motion to dismiss could constitute as fraud. True* petitioner ma0 ha2e been remiss in informin1 Dr. Gueco that the si1nin1 of a Coint motion to dismiss is a standard operatin1 procedure of petitioner bank. ?o!e2er* this can not in an0!a0 ha2e preCudiced Dr. Gueco. The motion to dismiss !as in fact also for the benefit of Dr. Gueco* as the case filed b0 petitioner a1ainst it before the lo!er court !ould be dismissed !ith preCudice. The !hole point of the parties enterin1 into the compromise a1reement !as in order that Dr. Gueco !ould pa0 his outstandin1 account and in return petitioner !ould return the car and drop the case for mone0 and reple2in before the -etropolitan Trial Court. The Coint motion to dismiss !as but a natural conse3uence of the compromise a1reement and simpl0 stated that Dr. Gueco had full0 settled his obli1ation* hence* the dismissal of the case. #etitionerJs act of re3uirin1 Dr. Gueco to si1n the Coint motion to dismiss can not be said to be a deliberate attempt on the part of petitioner to rene1e on the compromise a1reement of the parties. It should* like!ise* be noted that in cases of breach of contract* moral dama1es ma0 onl0 be a!arded !hen the breach !as attended b0 fraud or bad faith. ;&=< The la! presumes 1ood faith. Dr. Gueco failed to present an iota of e2idence to o2ercome this presumption. In fact* the act of petitioner bank in lo!erin1 the debt of Dr. Gueco from #&,)*(((.(( to #&6(*(((.(( is indicati2e of its 1ood faith and sincere desire to settle the case. If respondent did suffer an0 dama1e* as a result of the !ithholdin1 of his car b0 petitioner* he has onl0 himself to blame. Necessaril0* the claim for e/emplar0 dama1es must fail. In no !a0*

ma0 the conduct of petitioner be characteriEed as 8!anton* fraudulent* reckless* oppressi2e or male2olent.:;&F< 9e* like!ise* find for the petitioner !ith respect to the third assi1ned error. In the meetin1 of 4u1ust =+* &++6* respondent Dr. Gueco deli2ered a mana1er>s check representin1 the reduced amount of #&6(*(((.((. Said check !as 1i2en to -r. Ri2era* a representati2e of respondent bank. ?o!e2er* since Dr. Gueco refused to si1n the Coint motion to dismiss* he !as made to e/ecute a statement to the effect that he !as !ithholdin1 the pa0ment of the check. ;&)< Subse3uentl0* in a letter addressed to -s. Desi Tomas* 2ice president of the bank* dated September )* &++6* Dr. Gueco instructed the bank to disre1ard the Nhold order: letter and demanded the immediate release of his car* ;&6< to !hich the former replied that the condition of si1nin1 the Coint motion to dismiss must be satisfied and that the0 had kept the check !hich could be claimed b0 Dr. Gueco an0time.;&'<9hile there is contro2ers0 as to !hether the document e2idencin1 the order to hold pa0ment of the check !as formall0 offered as e2idence b0 petitioners*;&5< it appears from the pleadin1s that said check has not been encashed. The decision of the Re1ional Trial Court* !hich !as affirmed in toto b0 the Court of 4ppeals* orders the petitionerG &. to return immediatel0 the subCect car to the appellants in 1ood !orkin1 condition. 4ppellee ma0 deposit the -ana1er>s Check % the proceeds of !hich ha2e lon1 been under the control of the issuin1 bank in fa2or of the appellee since its issuance* !hereas the funds ha2e lon1 been paid b0 appellants to secure said -ana1er>s Check o2er !hich appellants ha2e no control. ;&,< Respondents !ould make us hold that petitioner should return the car or its 2alue and that the latter* because of its o!n ne1li1ence* should suffer the loss occasioned b0 the fact that the check had become stale. ;&+< It is their position that deli2er0 of the mana1er>s check produced the effect of pa0ment ;=(< and* thus* petitioner !as ne1li1ent in optin1 not to deposit or use said check. Rudimentar0 sense of Custice and fair pla0 !ould not countenance respondents> position. 4 stale check is one !hich has not been presented for pa0ment !ithin a reasonable time after its issue. It is 2alueless and* therefore* should not be paid. "nder the ne1otiable instruments la!* an instrument not pa0able on demand must be presented for pa0ment on the da0 it falls due. 9hen the instrument is pa0able on demand* presentment must be made !ithin a reasonable time after its issue. In the case of a bill of e/chan1e* presentment is sufficient if made !ithin a reasonable time after the last ne1otiation thereof. ;=&<

4 check must be presented for pa0ment !ithin a reasonable time after its issue*;==< and in determinin1 !hat is a 8reasonable time*: re1ard is to be had to the nature of the instrument* the usa1e of trade or business !ith respect to such instruments* and the facts of the particular case. ;=F< The test is !hether the pa0ee emplo0ed such dili1ence as a prudent man e/ercises in his o!n affairs. ;=)< This is because the nature and theor0 behind the use of a check points to its immediate use and pa0abilit0. In a case* a check pa0able on demand !hich !as lon1 o2erdue b0 about t!o and a half =7&A=$ 0ears !as considered a stale check.;=6< Failure of a pa0ee to encash a check for more than ten &($ 0ears undoubtedl0 resulted in the check becomin1 stale. ;='< Thus* e2en a dela0 of one &$ !eek;=5< or t!o =$ da0s*;=,< under the specific circumstances of the cited cases constituted unreasonable time as a matter of la!. In the case at bar* ho!e2er* the check in2ol2ed is not an ordinar0 bill of e/chan1e but a mana1er>s check. 4 mana1er>s check is one dra!n b0 the bank>s mana1er upon the bank itself. It is similar to a cashier>s check both as to effect and use. 4 cashier>s check is a check of the bank>s cashier on his o!n or another check. In effect* it is a bill of e/chan1e dra!n b0 the cashier of a bank upon the bank itself* and a..e/0e) in ad2ance b0 the act of its issuance. ;=+< It is reall0 the bank>s o!n check and ma0 be treated as a promissor0 note !ith the bank as a maker.;F(< The check becomes the primar0 obli1ation of the bank !hich issues it and constitutes its !ritten promise to pa0 upon demand. The mere issuance of it is considered an acceptance thereof. If treated as promissor0 note* the dra!er !ould be the maker and in !hich case the holder need not pro2e presentment for pa0ment or present the bill to the dra!ee for acceptance.;F&< I2en assumin1 that presentment is needed* failure to present for pa0ment !ithin a reasonable time !ill result to the dischar1e of the dra!er onl0 to the e/tent of the loss caused b0 the dela0. ;F=< Failure to present on time* thus* does not totall0 !ipe out all liabilit0. In fact* the le1al situation amounts to an ackno!led1ment of liabilit0 in the sum stated in the check. In this case* the Gueco spouses ha2e not alle1ed* much less sho!n that the0 or the bank !hich issued the mana1er>s check has suffered dama1e or loss caused b0 the dela0 or non7presentment. Definitel0* the ori1inal obli1ation to pa0 certainl0 has not been erased. It has been held that* if the check had become stale* it becomes imperati2e that the circumstances that caused its non7presentment be determined. ;FF< In the case at bar* there is no doubt that the petitioner bank held on the check and refused to encash the same because of the contro2ers0 surroundin1 the si1nin1 of the Coint motion to dismiss. 9e see no bad faith or ne1li1ence in this position taken b0 the Bank.

1HEREFORE, premises considered* the petition for re2ie! is 1i2en due course. The decision of the Court of 4ppeals affirmin1 the decision of the Re1ional Trial Court is SIT 4SIDI. Respondents are further ordered to pa0 the ori1inal obli1ation amountin1 to #&6(*(((.(( to the petitioner upon surrender or cancellation of the mana1er>s check in the latter>s possession* after!hich* petitioner is to return the subCect motor 2ehicle in 1ood !orkin1 condition. 'O OR,ERE,. Davide, JJ., concur. Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Puno, Pardo, and Ynares-Santiago,