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6. Yu Oh vs.

Court of Appeals
GR No. 125297 June 6, 2003
FACTS: Elvira Yu Oh (petitioner) bought jewelry from Solid Gold International
Traders (private respondent) but failed to pay purchase price. The company
filed civil complaints against her for specific performance with the Pasig
Regional Trial Court.
Joaquin Novales III, general manager of Solid Gold, and the petitioner entered
into a compromise agreement where petitioner was to issue ninety-nine postdated checks amounting to P50,000 each to be deposited every 15 th and 30th
of the month from October 1990 to November 16, 1994. Balance of over P1
million was to be paid in cash, lump sum, on November 16, 1994 as well.
Petioner issued 10 checks amounting to P50,000 each, drawn against
her account in Equitable Banking Corporation. When Novales deposited the
checks with Far East Bank and Trust Company, however, checks were
dishonored as the account was already closed.
October 5, 1992: Novales filed 10 separate Informations. These were
consolidated and raffled to Branch 99 of the Pasig RTC. December 22,
1993: RTC rendered a decision finding the accused guilty of ten counts
of violation of B.P. Blg. 22, also known as the Bouncing Checks Law.
She was sentenced to one year of imprisonment for each count and
indemnification of P500.
Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals but the CA found it to be of no
merit and affirmed the RTCs decision.
Petitioners Argument: the failure of the appellate court to give retroactive
application to R.A. 7691 is a violation of Art. 22 of the Revised Penal Code
which provides that penal laws shall have retroactive effect insofar as they
favor the person guilty of the felony; R.A. 7691 is a penal law in the sense
that it affects the jurisdiction of the court to take cognizance of criminal
cases; taken separately, the offense covered by each of the 10 Informations
in this case falls within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Municipal Trial
Court under Sec. 2 of R.A. 7691; and the Court of Appeals is guilty of judicial
legislation in stating that after the arraignment of petitioner, said cases could
no longer be transferred to the MTC without violating the rules on double
jeopardy, because that is not so provided in R.A. 7691.
ISSUES:
1. Did the court err in not granting retroactive effect to R.A. 7691 (which
gave the Municipal Trial Courts original jurisdiction) in view of Art. 22 of
the RPC?
2. Did the appellate court err in construing B.P. Blg. 22?
3. Is the notice of dishonor to the drawer important in warranting a
conviction?

RULING:

Assailed Decision and Resolution of the CA are REVERSED and SET


ASIDE. Petitioner is acquitted of the ten counts for insufficiency of
evidence but is ordered to pay P500,000 to the private respondent,
with 12% interest per annum from the date of finality of judgment.

RATIO:
1. NO. The court did not err in not granting retroactive effect to R.A. 7691.
A penal law, is an act of the legislature that prohibits certain acts and
establishes penalties for its violations. It also defines crime, treats of its
nature and provides for its punishment. R.A. No. 7691 does not prohibit
certain acts or provides penalties for its violation; neither does it treat
of the nature of crimes and its punishment. Consequently, R.A. No.
7691 is not a penal law, and therefore, Art. 22 of the RPC does not
apply in the present case.
R.A. No. 7691 which took effect on June 15, 1994, amended B.P. Blg.
129, and vested on the Metropolitan, Municipal and Municipal Circuit
Trial Courts jurisdiction to try cases punishable by imprisonment of not
more than six (6) years. Since R.A. No. 7691 vests jurisdiction on
courts, it is apparent that said law is substantive.
Jurisdiction being a matter of substantive law, the established rule is
that the statute in force at the time of the commencement of the
action determines the jurisdiction of the court. R.A. No. 7691 was not
yet in force at the time of the commencement of the cases in the trial
court. It took effect only during the pendency of the appeal before the
Court of Appeals. There is therefore no merit in the claim of petitioner
that R.A. No. 7691 should be retroactively applied to this case and the
same be remanded to the MTC. The Court has held that a "law vesting
additional jurisdiction in the court cannot be given retroactive effect.
2. NO. The appellate court did not err in construing B.P. Blg. 22.
Petitioner: That because penal statutes must be strictly construed and
resolved in favor of the accused, the insufficiency of funds referred
to in B.P. Blg. 22 must not be made to cover those accounts that are
closed or declared to have no funds. Post-dated checks, not being
drawn payable on demand but rather on a fixed date, should also be
considered as ordinary and not special bills of exchange.

Lozano v Martinez: Thrust of the Bouncing Checks law is to prohibit


the making of worthless checks and putting them in circulation as

their effects directly affect public interest. Such intent is reiterated


in Cueme v People and in Recuerdo v People.
Claim on closed accounts not being included in the coverage of
the B.P. has no merit in view of the legislative intent of the law
which is to protect the interest of the community at large.
People v Nitafan: The law does not distinguish but merely provides
that any person who makes/draws and issues any check knowing
that he does not have enough funds shall be punished.

3. YES. The notice of dishonor to the drawer is important.


Petitioner: That no notice of dishonor had been given to her as drawer
of the dishonored checks, pursuant to the requirement expressly
provided in B.P. Blg. 22.

Elements for conviction of violation of B.P. Blg. 22:


a) Accused makes, draws or issues any check to apply to
account or for value.
b) Accused knows at the time of issuance that he/she does not
have sufficient funds in, or credit with, the drawee bank for
payment of the check in full upon its presentment.
c) The check is subsequently dishonored.

For liability to attach, it is not enough for prosecution to simply


prove that the checks were subsequently dishonored. Prosecution
must also prove awareness/knowledge of the accused at the time of
issuance.
- Basis of Yu Ohs awareness of the lack/insufficiency was a line in
her Counter-Affidavit where she declares that she told the
general manager that the actual status of the checks that the
same might not be able to cover the amount of the said checks
so stated therein [sic].
Presumption (provided in Sec. 2, B.P. Blg. 22) of knowledge cannot
arise if such notice of non-payment by the bank is not sent to the
maker/drawer.
Jurisprudence has shown that notice of dishonor is vital insomuch as
Sec. 2, B.P. Blg. 22 provides the drawee or maker five days in which
to come up with the needed money. Procedural due process
demands that a notice is served in order to afford the accused the
opportunity to aver prosecution.
Also, it was shown through the general managers testimony that no
personal demands were made on the petitioner prior to the
complaints being filed.

Novales also apparently knew of the possible insufficiency of funds.


The Court has ruled before that when the complainant was informed
by the drawer of such, there is no violation of B.P. Blg. 22.