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Erlinda C.

San Mateo vs People of the Philippines


G.R. No. 200090
March 6, 2013

FACTS:

 Sometime in May and July 2005, Erlinda San Mateo ordered assorted yarns
amounting to Php 327,394.14 from ITSP International, Inc. through its Vice
President for Operations Ravin Sehwani.
 San Mateo issued 11 post dated Metrobank checks in the amount of Php
134,275.00 as partial payment.
 Whenever a check matured however San Mateo would call or write Sehwani to
request him not to deposit the checks due to lack of sufficient funds. The latter
granted the request but still the former continued not to settle her account.
 On October 6, 2005, Sehwani deposited Metrobank check 917604197 dated July
25, 2005 but it was dishonored for insufficiency of funds.
 Sehwani immediately informed San Mateo of the dishonor and the latter
requested for him not to deposit the other checks since she was encountering
financial difficulties.
 On October 8, 2005, Sehwani received a letter from San Mateo explaining her
situation and requesting that he coordinate with her office before depositing
another check. She likewise offered to replace the Metrobank check 917604197
but she was not able to do so.
 In November 2005 Sehwani tried to follow up with San Mateo but the latter did
not return his call. On November 7, 2005 he then deposited Metrobank Check
917604206 dated July 21, 2005 but San Mateo made a stop payment order.
 Due to San Mateo's failure to make payments, Sehwani deposited all of the
remaining checks which were all dishonored because the account had been closed.
The latter tried to contact San Mateo but she never responded. He also sent
demand letters to her last known address but she still failed to pay.
 On November 23, 2005, Sehwani's counsel sent a demand letter to San Mateo's
residence in Greenhills, San Juan but the security guard of the townhouse
complex did not accept the letter as he was instructed by San Mateo to do so. As
such, the liaison officer let the letter with the security guard with instructions for
him to give it to San Mateo.
 A copy of the demand letter was sent to San Mateo by registered mail but was
returned to the counsel's office with the notation "N/S Party Out 12/12/05" and
that she did not claim it despite three notices given to her.
 On June 5, 2006, San Mateo was charged with 11 counts of violation of Batas
Pambansa Blg. (B.P.) 22.
 She claimed at trial that she had an agreement with Sehwani not to deposit the
checks until she gave a go signal and that the latter ignored this and still deposited
the checks which resulted to the closing of her account.
 The MeTC of Tagiug found Mateo guilty of 10 counts of violation of B.P. 22 and
she was sentenced to six months imprisonment for each count and was ordered to
pay the total value of the checks.
 San Mateo appealed to the RTC of Pasig but the said court affirmed her
conviction on June 1, 2010. The RTC ruled that the third element of notice of
dishonor was duly established during trial by the following facts: (1) her
unjustified refusal to claim the demand letter sent to her by registered mail despite
3 notices from the postmaster, (2) her various letters to Sehwani requesting the
latter to defer the deposit of her checks, and (3) her statement in her Amended
Affidavit that Sehwani's act of depositing the nine checks resulted in the closure
of her account.
 San Mateo elevated the case to the CA and the said court affirmed the RTC
decision reiterating that all the elements for violation of B.P. 22 had been
sufficiently proven in this case.
 On March 1, 2012, San Mateo filed a petition for review on certiorari before the
Supreme Court (SC) raising the following issues: (1) WON the subject checks
were issued for valuable consideration; (2) WON the demand letter sent by
Sehwani constituted notice of dishonor required under B.P. 22; and (3) WON the
penalty of imprisonment is proper.
 The SC denied the petition for its failure to show that the CA committed
reversible error when it upheld the findings of both the MeTC and the RTC that
all elements for violation of B.P. 22 had been sufficiently proven.
 San Mateo filed a motion for reconsideration which the SC granted on July 16,
2012 hence this present case.

ISSUE:

 WON the CA committed an error in affirming the conviction of the petitioner in


the lower court based on their findings that all the elements for the violation of
B.P 22 were sufficiently proven.
 WON the subject checks were issued for valuable consideration
 WON the demand letter sent by Sehwani constituted notice of dishonor required
under B.P. 22
 WON the penalty of imprisonment is proper.

HELD:

 Yes, the CA committed an error in affirming the conviction of San Mateo. This is
because all the essential elements for the violation of B.P. 22 were not adequately
established in order to convict the accused.
 To be liable for violation of B.P. 22, the following essential requirements should
be present: (1) the making, drawing, and issuance of any check to apply for
account or for value; (2) 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; (3) 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.
 On the issue of the first element whether or not the subject checks were issued for
valuable consideration, the SC respected the findings of the lower courts that the
checks were indeed issues for value since such were drawn and issued as payment
for the yarns which San Mateo ordered from ITSP.
 The SC also held that the third element required for the violation of B.P. 22 had
been adequately established.
 As regards the second element, the SC held that it 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 but such arises only after it is proved that the issuer had received a
written notice of dishonor and that, within five days from receipt thereof he failed
to pay the amount of the check or to make arrangements for its payment.
 In the case at bar, there is no basis to conclude that San Mateo knew of the
insufficiency of her funds. While it is true that she requested Sehwani in her
letters to him to defer from depositing the checks, such did not amount to an
admission that when she issued the said checks she knew that she would have no
sufficient funds in the drawee bank to pay for them.
 Also, the records failed to show that Sehwani received the notice of dishonor sent
by Sehwani. On the first occasion the counsel sent the demand letter to San
Mateo's residence but he left the letter with the security guard with instructions to
give it to San Mateo but the prosecution failed to show that such letter reached
her. On the second occasion the demand letter was sent by registered mail but it
was returned and was left unclaimed by San Mateo despite three notices.
 The SC has held consistently that receipts for registered letters including return
receipts do not themselves prove receipt. Such must be properly authenticated to
serve as proof of receipt of the letters. It is not enough for the prosecution to
prove that notice of dishonor was sent to the accused, it must be proven that there
was actual receipt of said notice.
 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. As such, the Court cannot convict her beyond reasonable doubt for violation
of B.P. 22.
 Wherefore, the SC grants the petition of San Mateo and the assailed decision of
the CA finding her guilty of 10 counts of violation B.P. 22 is REVERSED and
SET ASIDE. Petitioner is hereby ACQUITTED on the ground that her guilt has
not been established beyond reasonable doubt.
 She is ordered however to indemnify the complainant ITSP International,
Incorporated, represented by VP for Operations Ravin Sehwani the total value of
the 11 checks plus 12% legal interest per annum from the time the said amount
became due and demandable until fully paid.