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G.R.No.182301

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RepublicofthePhilippines
SUPREMECOURT
Manila
SECONDDIVISION
G.R.No.182301January31,2011
JAIMEALFEREZ,Petitioner,
vs.
PEOPLEOFTHEPHILIPPINESandPINGPINGCO,Respondents.
DECISION
NACHURA,J.:
ThisisapetitionforreviewoncertiorariunderRule45oftheRulesofCourt,assailingtheCourtofAppeals(CA)
Decision1datedDecember13,2007andResolution2datedMarch4,2008inCAG.R.CEBCRNo.00300.
Thefactsofthecase,asculledfromtherecords,areasfollows:
PetitionerJaimeAlferezpurchasedconstructionmaterialsfromCebuABCSalesCommercial.Aspaymentforthe
goods,heissuedthree(3)checksforthetotalamountofP830,998.40.However,thechecksweredishonoredfor
having been drawn against a closed account. Petitioner was thus charged with three (3) counts of violation of
Batas Pambansa Bilang (B.P. Blg.) 22 before the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC), Cebu City. The cases
were raffled to Branch 3 and docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 40985R to 40987R.3 During the trial, the
prosecution presented its lone witness, private complainant Pingping Co.4 Thereafter, the prosecution formally
offeredthefollowingdocumentaryevidence:
1.BPICheckNo.492089dated29April1994inthesumofP78,889.95
2.BPICheckNo.492010dated22June1994inthesumofP30,745.90
3.BPICheckNo.492011dated22June1994inthesumofP721,362.55
4.Thedemandletterdated7July1994addressedtopetitioner
5.TheregistryreceiptofthePostOffice
6.ThefaceoftheRegistryReturnReceipt
7.ThedorsalsideoftheRegistryReturnReceipt
8.TheReturnedCheckTicketdated23June1994and
9.Thereasonforthedishonor.5
Insteadofpresentingevidence,petitionerfiledaDemurrertoEvidence6onAugust8,2003,orapproximatelyten
(10) months after the prosecution rested its case. Petitioner averred that the prosecution failed to show that he
receivedthenoticeofdishonorordemandletter.
On March 4, 2005, the MTCC issued a resolution7 denying petitioners Demurrer to Evidence, and rendering
judgmentfindingpetitionerguiltyascharged,thedispositiveportionofwhichreads:
WHEREFORE, the Court finds the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of issuing bouncing
checksasdefinedandpenalizedunderSection1ofBatasPambansaBlg.22andherebysentencestheaccused
thefollowing:
1.TopayafineofPhp830,998.40andincaseofinsolvencytosuffersubsidiaryimprisonment
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2.TopayprivatecomplainantthetotalfacevalueofthechecksintheamountofPhp830,998.40plus1%
interestpermonthbeginningfromthefilingofthecomplaint.
SOORDERED.8
Aggrieved, petitioner appealed to the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 21, Cebu City. The RTC rendered
Judgment9 affirming in toto the MTCC decision. Petitioner moved for reconsideration, but it was denied in an
Order10 dated December 16, 2005. In the same Order, the RTC modified the MTCC resolution by sentencing
petitioner to suffer the penalty of imprisonment for six (6) months for each count of violation of B.P Blg. 22,
insteadoffineasoriginallyimposed.
Undaunted,petitionerelevatedthemattertotheCAviaapetitionforreviewunderRule42oftheRulesofCourt.
IntheassailedDecision,theCAdismissedthepetitionforlackofmerit.Itsustainedpetitionersconvictionasthe
elementsofthecrimehadbeensufficientlyestablished.Astotheserviceonpetitionerofthenoticeofdishonor,
the appellate court pointed out that petitioner did not testify, and that he did not object to the prosecutions
evidenceaimedatprovingthefactofreceiptofthenoticeofdishonor.Consequently,theregistryreceiptandthe
return card adequately show the fact of receipt. As to petitioners contention that he was denied his right to
presentevidenceafterthedenialofhisdemurrertoevidence,theCAheldthattherewasnosuchdenialsinceit
wasmerelytheconsequenceofthefilingofdemurrerwithoutleaveofcourt.Finally,astotheimpositionofthe
penaltyofimprisonmentinsteadoffine,theCAfoundnograveabuseofdiscretiononthepartoftheRTCsinceit
wasshownthatpetitioneractedinbadfaith.11
On March 4, 2008, the CA denied petitioners motion for reconsideration. Hence, this petition anchored on the
followingissues:
Whether the Registry Receipt and Registry Return Receipt alone without presenting the person who mailed
and/orservedthedemandletterissufficientnoticeofdishonorasrequiredbyBP22.
WhetherthefilingoftheDemurrerof(sic)Evidencewithoutleaveanddeniedbythetrialcourtisawaiverofthe
right of the petitioner (the accused before the trial court) to present his evidence in support and to rebut the
evidenceoftherespondentparticularlywithrespecttothecivilaspectofthecase.
Onthealternative(ifthepetitionerisguilty),whethertheaccusedshouldonlybemete[d]thepenaltyoffineas
imposedbythetrialcourt(MTCC).12
Thepetitionispartlymeritorious.
After a careful evaluation of the records of the case, we believe and so hold that the totality of the evidence
presenteddoesnotsupportpetitionersconvictionforviolationofB.P.Blg.22.
Section1ofB.P.Blg.22definestheoffense,asfollows:13
Section1.Checkswithoutsufficientfunds.Anypersonwhomakesordrawsandissuesanychecktoapplyon
account or for value, knowing at the time of issue that he does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the
draweebankforthepaymentofsuchcheckinfulluponitspresentment,whichcheckissubsequentlydishonored
bythedraweebankforinsufficiencyoffundsorcreditorwouldhavebeendishonoredforthesamereasonhad
notthedrawer,withoutanyvalidreason,orderedthebanktostoppayment,shallbepunishedbyimprisonmentof
notlessthanthirtydaysbutnotmorethanone(1)yearorbyafineofnotlessthanbutnotmorethandoublethe
amount of the check which fine shall in no case exceed Two Hundred Thousand Pesos, or both such fine and
imprisonmentatthediscretionofthecourt.
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,forwhichreasonitisdishonoredbythedraweebank.
Where the check is drawn by a corporation, company or entity, the person or persons who actually signed the
checkinbehalfofsuchdrawershallbeliableunderthisAct.
Accordingly, this Court has held that the elements of the crime are, as follows: (1) the making, drawing, and
issuanceofanychecktoapplyonaccountorforvalue(2)theknowledgeofthemaker,drawer,orissuerthatat
thetimeofissuehedoesnothavesufficientfundsinorcreditwiththedraweebankforthepaymentofthecheck
infulluponitspresentmentand(3)thesubsequentdishonorofthecheckbythedraweebankforinsufficiencyof
fundsorcredit,ordishonorforthesamereasonhadnotthedrawer,withoutanyvalidcause,orderedthebankto
stoppayment.14
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In this case, the first and third elements of the crime have been adequately established. The prosecution,
however, failed to prove the second element. Because this element involves a state of mind which is difficult to
establish, Section 2 of B.P. Blg. 22 creates a presumption of knowledge of insufficiency of funds under the
followingcircumstances:15
Sec.2.Evidenceofknowledgeofinsufficientfunds.Themaking,drawing,andissuanceofacheckpaymentof
whichisrefusedbythedraweebecauseofinsufficientfundsinorcreditwithsuchbank,whenpresentedwithin
ninetydaysfromthedateofthecheck,shallbeprimafacieevidenceofknowledgeofsuchinsufficiencyoffunds
orcreditunlesssuchmakerordrawerpaystheholderthereoftheamountduethereon,ormakesarrangements
forpaymentinfullbythedraweeofsuchcheckwithinfive(5)bankingdaysafterreceivingnoticethatsuchcheck
hasnotbeenpaidbythedrawee.
In Suarez v. People,16 which is on all fours with the instant case, two Informations for violation of B.P. Blg. 22
were filed against petitioner therein. After the prosecution presented its evidence, petitioner filed a Demurrer to
Evidencewithoutleaveofcourtonthegroundthatnonoticeofdishonorhadbeensenttoandreceivedbyhim.
When the case reached this Court, we acquitted petitioner on reasonable doubt as there was insufficient proof
thathereceivednoticeofdishonor.Weexplainedthat:
The presumption arises when it is proved that the issuer had received this notice, and that within five banking
daysfromitsreceipt,hefailedtopaytheamountofthecheckortomakearrangementsforitspayment.Thefull
payment of the amount appearing in the check within five banking days from notice of dishonor is a complete
defense.Accordingly,proceduraldueprocessrequiresthatanoticeofdishonorbesenttoandreceivedbythe
petitionertoaffordtheopportunitytoavertprosecutionunderB.P.Blg.22.
xxx.[I]tisnotenoughfortheprosecutiontoprovethatanoticeofdishonorwassenttothepetitioner.Itisalso
incumbentupontheprosecutiontoshow"thatthedrawerofthecheckreceivedthesaidnoticebecausethefact
ofserviceprovidedforinthelawisreckonedfromreceiptofsuchnoticeofdishonorbythedraweeofthecheck.
A review of the records shows that the prosecution did not prove that the petitioner received the notice of
dishonor. Registry return cards must be authenticated to serve as proof of receipt of letters sent through
registeredmail.17
Inthiscase,theprosecutionmerelypresentedacopyofthedemandletter,togetherwiththeregistryreceiptand
the return card, allegedly sent to petitioner. However, there was no attempt to authenticate or identify the
signatureontheregistryreturncard.18Receiptsforregisteredlettersandreturnreceiptsdonotbythemselves
provereceipttheymustbeproperlyauthenticatedtoserveasproofofreceiptoftheletter,claimedtobeanotice
ofdishonor.19Tobesure,thepresentationoftheregistrycardwithanunauthenticatedsignature,doesnotmeet
the required proof beyond reasonable doubt that petitioner received such notice. It is not enough for the
prosecution to prove that a notice of dishonor was sent to the drawee of the check. The prosecution must also
proveactualreceiptofsaidnotice,becausethefactofserviceprovidedforinthelawisreckonedfromreceiptof
suchnoticeofdishonorbythedraweeofthecheck.20Theburdenofprovingnoticerestsuponthepartyasserting
itsexistence.Ordinarily,preponderanceofevidenceissufficienttoprovenotice.Incriminalcases,however,the
quantumofproofrequiredisproofbeyondreasonabledoubt.Hence,forB.P.Blg.22cases,thereshouldbeclear
proofofnotice.21Moreover,fornoticebymail,itmustappearthatthesamewasservedontheaddresseeora
duly authorized agent of the addressee. From the registry receipt alone, it is possible that petitioner or his
authorizedagentdidreceivethedemandletter.22Possibilities,however,cannotreplaceproofbeyondreasonable
doubt.23TheconsistentruleisthatpenalstatuteshavetobeconstruedstrictlyagainsttheStateandliberallyin
favoroftheaccused.24Theabsenceofanoticeofdishonornecessarilydeprivestheaccusedanopportunityto
precludeacriminalprosecution.25Asthereisinsufficientproofthatpetitionerreceivedthenoticeofdishonor,the
presumptionthathehadknowledgeofinsufficiencyoffundscannotarise.26
Thisissoevenifpetitionerdidnotpresenthisevidencetorebutthedocumentaryevidenceoftheprosecutionas
he had waived his right to present evidence for having filed a demurrer to evidence without leave of court. We
must emphasize that the prosecution has the burden of proving beyond reasonable doubt each element of the
crimeasitscasewillriseorfallonthestrengthofitsownevidence,neverontheweaknessorevenabsenceof
that of the defense.27 The failure of the prosecution to prove the receipt by petitioner of the requisite notice of
dishonor and that he was given at least five (5) banking days within which to settle his account constitutes
sufficientgroundforhisacquittal.28
Nonetheless, petitioners acquittal for failure of the prosecution to prove all elements of the offense beyond
reasonabledoubtdoesnotincludetheextinguishmentofhiscivilliabilityforthedishonoredchecks.29Incaseof
acquittal,theaccusedmaystillbeadjudgedcivillyliable.Theextinctionofthepenalactiondoesnotcarrywithit
theextinctionofthecivilactionwhere(a)theacquittalisbasedonreasonabledoubtasonlypreponderanceof
evidenceisrequired(b)thecourtdeclaresthattheliabilityoftheaccusedisonlyciviland(c)thecivilliabilityof
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the accused does not arise from or is not based upon the crime of which the accused was acquitted.30 In a
numberofsimilarcases,wehaveheldthatanacquittalbasedonreasonabledoubtdoesnotprecludetheaward
ofcivildamages.31
In view of the foregoing, we sustain the findings of the trial court, as affirmed by the CA, as to petitioners civil
liability.
1 w p h i1

Finally, in answer to petitioners insistence that he should have been allowed by the trial court to present his
evidenceonthecivilaspectofthecase,sufficeittostatethatwhenpetitionerfiledademurrertoevidencewithout
leave of court, the whole case was submitted for judgment on the basis of the evidence presented by the
prosecutionastheaccusedisdeemedtohavewaivedtherighttopresentevidence.Atthatjuncture,thecourtis
calledupontodecidethecaseincludingitscivilaspect.32
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court of Appeals Decision dated December 13, 2007 and Resolution
datedMarch4,2008inCAG.R.CEBCRNo.00300areMODIFIED.PetitionerJaimeAlferezisACQUITTEDon
reasonabledoubtofviolationofB.P.Blg.22.However,thecivilliabilityimposedonpetitionerisAFFIRMED.
SOORDERED.
ANTONIOEDUARDOB.NACHURA
AssociateJustice
WECONCUR:
ANTONIOT.CARPIO
AssociateJustice
Chairperson
DIOSDADOM.PERALTA
AssociateJustice

ROBERTOA.ABAD
AssociateJustice

JOSECATRALMENDOZA
AssociateJustice
ATTESTATION
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was
assignedtothewriteroftheopinionoftheCourtsDivision.
ANTONIOT.CARPIO
AssociateJustice
Chairperson,SecondDivision
CERTIFICATION
PursuanttoSection13,ArticleVIIIoftheConstitutionandtheDivisionChairpersonsAttestation,Icertifythatthe
conclusionsintheaboveDecisionhadbeenreachedinconsultationbeforethecasewasassignedtothewriterof
theopinionoftheCourtsDivision.
RENATOC.CORONA
ChiefJustice

Footnotes
1PennedbyAssociateJusticeFranciscoP.Acosta,withAssociateJusticesPampioA.AbarintosandAmy

C.LazaroJavier,concurringrollo,pp.1625.
2Id.at2627.
3CArollo,p.18.
4Rollo,p.17.
5CArollo,pp.2223.
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6Id.at2831.
7PennedbyPresidingJudgeGilR.Acostaid.at1821.
8Id.at21.
9PennedbyPresidingJudgeEricF.Menchavezid.at1415.
10Id.at1617.
11Rollo,pp.1924.
12Id.at6.
13Kingv.People,377Phil.692,706(1999).
14 Suarez v. People, G.R. No. 172573, June 19, 2008, 555 SCRA 238, 245 Moster v. People, G.R. No.

167461,February19,2008,546SCRA287,296.
15Suarezv.People,supra,at245Kingv.People,supranote13,at708709.
16Supra.
17Id.at246.
18Mosterv.People,supranote14,at297298.
19Id.at298,citingRicov.People,G.R.No.137191,November18,2002,392SCRA61,73.
20Mosterv.People,supra,at299,citingCabrerav.People,454Phil.759,774(2003).
21Cabrerav.People,supra,at774.
22Tingv.CourtofAppeals,398Phil.481,494(2000).
23Mosterv.People,supranote14,at299.
24Ambitov.People,G.R.No.127327,February13,2009,579SCRA69,94.
25Id.at92.
26Suarezv.People,supranote14,at247.
27Mosterv.People,supranote14,at299Kingv.People,supranote13,at711.
28Mosterv.People,supra,at299.
29Ambitov.People,supranote24,at94.
30HunHyungParkv.EungWonChoi,G.R.No.165496,February12,2007,515SCRA502,513.
31Ambitov.People,supranote24,at94,citingBaxv.People,G.R.No.149858,September5,2007,532

SCRA 284, 292293 Rico v. People, supra note 19, at 74 Domangsang v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No.
139292,December5,2000,347SCRA75,8485.
32HunHyungParkv.EungWonChoi,supranote30,at512513.
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