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Contents

Fidelity Savings and Mortgage Bank vs. Cenzon, 184 SCRA 141 (1990) ................................................................................. 4 Cancio vs. Court of Appeals, 154 SCRA 731 (1987)............................................................................................................... 12 Salvacion vs. Central Bank, 278 SCRA 27 (1997)................................................................................................................... 19 Simex International (Manila), Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, 183 SCRA 360 (1990).................................................................... 39 Bank of the Philippine Islands vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, 206 SCRA 408 (1992)...................................................... 46 Bank of the Philippine Islands vs. Court of Appeals, 326 SCRA 641 (2000) .......................................................................... 52 Consolidated Bank and Trust Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, 410 SCRA 562 (2003)....................................................... 64 Philippine Banking Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, 419 SCRA 487 (2004) ....................................................................... 79 Samsung Construction Company Philippines, Inc. vs. Far East Bank, 436 SCRA 402 (2004) ................................................ 85 Heirs of Eduardo Manlapat vs. Court of Appeals, 459 SCRA 412 (2005) ............................................................................ 101 Philippine National Bank vs. Pike, 470 SCRA 328 (2005) .................................................................................................... 118 Cadiz vs. Court of Appeals, 474 SCRA 232 (2005) ............................................................................................................... 141 Far East Bank and Trust Company vs. Pacilan, Jr., 465 SCRA 372 (2005)............................................................................ 153 Citibank, N.A. vs. Cabamongan, 488 SCRA 517 (2006) ....................................................................................................... 165 Citibank, N.A. vs. Sabeniano, 504 SCRA 378 (2006)............................................................................................................ 179 Demosthenes P. Agan, Jr., et al. vs. PIATCO, et al.,402 SCRA 612 (2003)........................................................................... 250 Dio vs. Japor, 463 SCRA 170 (2005) .................................................................................................................................... 348 Consolidated Bank and Trust Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, 365 SCRA 671 (2001)..................................................... 356 Macalinao vs. Bank of the Philippine Islands, G.R. No. 175490, September 17, 2009 ....................................................... 365 China Banking Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, 461 SCRA 162 (2005) ............................................................................ 376 Development Bank of the Philippines vs. Arcilla, Jr., 462 SCRA 599 (2005) ....................................................................... 381 Ejercito vs. Sandiganbayan (Special Division), 509 ............................................................................................................. 392 China Banking Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, 511 SCRA 110 (2006) ............................................................................ 412 Ana Rivera vs. People's Bank and Trust Company, 73 Phil. 546 (1942).............................................................................. 421 Vitug vs. Court of Appeals, 183 SCRA 755 (1990) ............................................................................................................... 426 Feati Bank and Trust Company vs. Court of Appeals, 196 SCRA 576 (1990) ...................................................................... 433 Transfield Philippines, Inc. vs. Luzon Hydro Corporation, 442 SCRA 307 (2004)................................................................ 453

Philippine National Bank vs. Pineda, 197 SCRA 1 (1991) .................................................................................................... 472 Insular Bank of Asia & America vs. IAC, 167 SCRA 450 (1988)............................................................................................ 480 Ong vs. Philippine Commercial International Bank, 448 SCRA 705 (2005)......................................................................... 491 International Finance Corporation vs. Imperial Textile Mills, Inc., 475 SCRA 149 (2005) .................................................. 495 JN Development Corporation vs. Philippine Export and Foreign Loan Guarantee Corporation, 468 SCRA 555 (2005)..... 507 People's Bank and Trust Co. vs. Odom, 64 Phil. 126 (1937) ............................................................................................... 515 Lopez vs. Court of Appeals, 114 SCRA 671 (1982) .............................................................................................................. 520 Manila Banking Corporation vs. Teodoro, 169 SCRA 95 (1989).......................................................................................... 535 Integrated Realty Corp. vs Philippine National Bank,174 SCRA 295 (1989) ....................................................................... 546 Yau Chu vs. Court of Appeals, 177 SCRA 793 (1989) .......................................................................................................... 562 Caltex (Philippines), Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, 212 SCRA 448 (1992) ................................................................................. 565 Allied Banking Corp. vs. Ordofiez, 192 SCRA 246 (1990) .................................................................................................... 578 Colinares vs. Court of Appeals, 339 SCRA 609 (2000)......................................................................................................... 587 Development Bank of the Philippines vs. Prudential Bank, 475 SCRA 623 (2005) ............................................................. 598 Rosario Textile Mills vs. Home Bankers Savings and Trust Company, 462 SCRA 88 (2005) ............................................... 610 Vintola vs. IBAA, 150 SCRA 578 (1987) ............................................................................................................................... 618 People vs. Nitafan, 207 SCRA 726 (1992)............................................................................................................................ 624 Torres vs. Limjap, 56 Phil. 141 (1931) ................................................................................................................................. 630 People's Bank and Trust Co. vs. Dahican Lumber Company, 20 SCRA 84 (1967) ............................................................... 636 Belgian Catholic Missionaries vs. Magallanes Press, 49 Phil. 647 (1926) ........................................................................... 650 Acme Shoe, Rubber and Plastic Corp. vs. Court of Appeals, 260 SCRA 714 (1996)............................................................ 658 Ong Liong Tiak vs. Luneta Motor Co., 66 Phil. 459 (1938) .................................................................................................. 664 Prudential Bank vs. Alviar, 464 SCRA 353 (2005)................................................................................................................ 668 Cuyco vs. Cuyco, 487 SCRA 693 (2006) ............................................................................................................................... 679 Garrido vs. Tuason, 24 SCRA 727 (1968)............................................................................................................................. 690 Magna Financial Services Group, Inc. vs. Colarina, 477 SCRA 245(2005) ........................................................................... 693 Register of Deeds vs. China Banking Corporation, 4 SCRA 1145 (1962)............................................................................. 703 Paderes vs. Court of Appeals, 463 SCRA 504 (2005)........................................................................................................... 708

Banco Filipino Savings and Mortgage Bank vs. Court of Appeals, 463 SCRA 64 (2005) ..................................................... 729 Bukidnon Doctors' Hospital, Inc. vs. Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co., 463 SCRA 222 (2005).............................................. 740 Tanchan vs. Allied Banking Corporation, 571 SCRA 512 (2008).......................................................................................... 754 Onapal Philippines Commodities, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, 218 SCRA 281 (1993) ........................................................... 771 First Philippine International Bank vs. Court of Appeals, 252 SCRA 259 (1996)................................................................. 782

Fidelity Savings and Mortgage Bank vs. Cenzon, 184 SCRA 141 (1990)
Republic SUPREME Manila SECOND DIVISION G.R. No. L-46208 April 5, 1990 FIDELITY SAVINGS AND MORTGAGE BANK, petitioner, vs. HON. PEDRO D. CENZON, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of the Court of First Instance of Manila (Branch XL) and SPOUSES TIMOTEO AND OLIMPIA SANTIAGO, respondents. Agapito S. Fajardo and Marino E. Eslao for petitioner. Leovillo C. Agustin Law Offices for private respondents. of the Philippines COURT

REGALADO, J.: The instant petition seeks the review, on pure questions of law, of the decision rendered by the Court of First Instance of Manila (now Regional Trial Court), Branch XL, on December 3, 1976 in Civil Case No. 84800, 1 ordering herein petitioner to pay private respondents the following amounts: (a) P90,000.00 with accrued interest in accordance with Exhibits A and B until fully paid; (b) P30,000,00 as exemplary damages; and (c) P10,000.00 as and for attorney's fees. The payment by the defendant Fidelity Savings and Mortgage Bank of the aforementioned sums of money shall be subject to the Bank Liquidation Rules and Regulations embodied in the Order of the Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch XIII, dated

October 3, 1972, Civil Case No. 86005, entitled, "IN RE: Liquidation of the Fidelity Savings Bank versus Central Bank of the Philippines, Liquidator." With costs against the defendant Fidelity Savings and Mortgage Bank. SO ORDERED. Private respondents instituted this present action for a sum of money with damages against Fidelity Savings and Mortgage Bank, Central Bank of the Philippines, Eusebio Lopez, Jr., Arsenio M. Lopez, Sr., Arsenio S. Lopez, Jr., Bibiana E. Lacuna, Jose C. Morales, Leon P. Cusi, Pilar Y. Pobre-Cusi and Ernani A. Pacana. On motion of herein private respondents, as plaintiffs, the amended complaint was dismissed without prejudice against defendants Jose C. Morales, Leon P. Cusi, Pilar Y. Pobre-Cusi and Ernani A. Pacana. 2 In its aforesaid decision of December 3, 1976, the court a quo dismissed the complaint as against defendants Central Bank of the Philippines, Eusebio Lopez, Jr., Arsenio S. Lopez, Jr., Arsenio M. Lopez, Sr. and Bibiana S. Lacuna. Back on August 10, 1973, the plaintiffs (herein private respondents) and the defendants Fidelity Savings and Mortgage Bank (petitioner herein), Central Bank of the Philippines and Bibiana E. Lacuna had filed in said case in the lower court a partial stipulation of facts, as follows: COME NOW herein plaintiffs, SPOUSES TIMOTEO M. SANTIAGO and OLIMPIA R. SANTIAGO, herein defendants FIDELITY SAVINGS AND MORTGAGE BANK and the CENTRAL BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, and herein defendant BIBIANA E. LACUNA, through their respective undersigned counsel, and before this Honorable Court most respectfully submit the following Partial Stipulation of Facts: 1. That herein plaintiffs are husband and wife, both of legal age, and presently residing at No. 480 C. de la Paz Street, Sta. Elena, Marikina, Rizal; 2. That herein defendant Fidelity Savings and Mortgage Bank is a corporation duly organized and existing under and by virtue of the

laws of the Philippines; that defendant Central Bank of the Philippines is a corporation duly organized and existing under and by virtue of the laws of the Philippines; 3. That herein defendant Bibiana E. Lacuna is of legal age and a resident of No. 42 East Lawin Street, Philamlife Homes, Quezon City, said defendant was an assistant Vice-President of the defendant fidelity Savings and Mortgage Bank, 4. That sometime on May 16, 1968, here in plaintiffs deposited with the defendant Fidelity Savings Bank the amount of FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (P50,000.00) under Savings Account No. 16-0536; that likewise, sometime on July 6, 1968, herein plaintiff,deposited with the defendant Fidelity Savings and Mortgage Bank the amount of FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (P50,000.00) under Certificate of Time Deposit No. 0210; that the aggregate amount of deposits of the plaintiffs with the defendant Fidelity Savings and Mortgage Bank is ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P100,000.00); 5. That on February 18, 1969, the Monetary Board, after finding the report of the Superintendent of Banks, that the condition of the defendant Fidelity Savings and Mortgage Bank is one of insolvency, to be true, issued Resolution No. 350 deciding, among others, as follows: 1) To forbid the Fidelity Savings Bank to do business in the Philippines; 2) To instruct the Acting Superintendent of Banks to take charge, in the name of the Monetary Board, of the Bank's assets 6. That pursuant to the above-cited instructions of the Monetary Board, the Superintendent of Banks took charge in the name of the Monetary Board, of the assets of defendant Fidelity Savings Bank on February 19, 1969; and that since that date up to this date, the Superintendent of Banks (now designated as Director, Department of Commercial and Savings Banks) has been taking

charge of the assets of defendant Fidelity Savings and Mortgage Bank; 7. That sometime on October 10, 1969 the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation paid the plaintiffs the amount of TEN THOUSAND PESOS (P10,000.00) on the aggregate deposits of P100,000.00 pursuant to Republic Act No. 5517, thereby leaving a deposit balance of P90,000.00; 8. That on December 9, 1969, the Monetary Board issued its Resolution No. 2124 directing the liquidation of the affairs of defendant Fidelity Savings Bank; 9. That on January 25, 1972, the Solicitor General of the Philippines filed a "Petition for Assistance and Supervision in Liquidation" of the affairs of the defendant Fidelity Savings and Mortgage Bank with the Court of First Instance of Manila, assigned to Branch XIII and docketed as Civil Case No. 86005; 10. That on October 3, 1972, the Liquidation Court promulgated the Bank Rules and Regulations to govern the liquidation of the affairs of defendant Fidelity Savings and Mortgage Bank, prescribing the rules on the conversion of the Bank's assets into money, processing of claims against it and the manner and time of distributing the proceeds from the assets of the Bank; 11. That the liquidation proceedings has not been terminated and is still pending up to the present; 12. That herein plaintiffs, through their counsel, sent demand letters to herein defendants, demanding the immediate payment of the aforementioned savings and time deposits. WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed that the foregoing Partial Stipulation of Facts be approved by this Honorable Court, without prejudice to the presentation of additional documentary or testimonial evidence by herein parties. Manila, Philippines, August 10, 1973. 3

Assigning error in the judgment of the lower court quoted ab antecedents, petitioner raises two questions of law, to wit: 1. Whether or not an insolvent bank like the Fidelity Savings and Mortgage Bank may be adjudged to pay interest on unpaid deposits even after its closure by the Central Bank by reason of insolvency without violating the provisions of the Civil Code on preference of credits; and 2. Whether or not an insolvent bank like the Fidelity Savings and Mortgage Bank may be adjudged to pay moral and exemplary damages, attorney's fees and costs when the insolvency is caused b the anomalous real estate transactions without violating the provisions of the Civil Code on preference of credits. There is merit in the petition. It is settled jurisprudence that a banking institution which has been declared insolvent and subsequently ordered closed by the Central Bank of the Philippines cannot be held liable to pay interest on bank deposits which accrued during the period when the bank is actually closed and nonoperational. In The Overseas Bank of Manila vs. Court of Appeals and Tony D. Tapia, we held that:
4

It is a matter of common knowledge, which We take judicial notice of, that what enables a bank to pay stipulated interest on money deposited with it is that thru the other aspects of its operation it is able to generate funds to cover the payment of such interest. Unless a bank can lend money, engage in international transactions, acquire foreclosed mortgaged properties or their proceeds and generally engage in other banking and financing activities from which it can derive income, it is inconceivable how it can carry on as a depository obligated to pay stipulated interest. Conventional wisdom dictates this inexorable fair and just conclusion. And it can be said that all who deposit money in banks are aware of such a simple economic proposition. Consequently, it should be deemed read into every contract of deposit with a bank that the obligation to pay interest on the deposit ceases the moment the operation of the bank is

completely suspended by the duly constituted authority, the Central Bank. This was reiterated in the subsequent case of The Overseas Bank of Manila vs. The Hon. Court of Appeals and Julian R. Cordero. 5 and in the recent cases of Integrated Realty Corporation, et al. vs. Philippine National Bank, et al. and the Overseas Bank of Manila vs. Court of appeals, et al. 6 From the aforecited authorities, it is manifest that petitioner cannot be held liable for interest on bank deposits which accrued from the time it was prohibited by the Central Bank to continue with its banking operations, that is, when Resolution No. 350 to that effect was issued on February 18, 1969. The order, therefore, of the Central Bank as receiver/liquidator of petitioner bank allowing the claims of depositors and creditors to earn interest up to the date of its closure on February 18, 1969, 7 in line with the doctrine laid down in the jurisprudence above cited. Although petitioner's formulation of the second issue that it poses is slightly inaccurate and defective, we likewise find the awards of moral and exemplary damages and attorney's fees to be erroneous. The trial court found, and it is not disputed, that there was no fraud or bad faith on the part of petitioner bank and the other defendants in accepting the deposits of private respondents. Petitioner bank could not even be faulted in not immediately returning the amount claimed by private respondents considering that the demand to pay was made and Civil Case No. 84800 was filed in the trial court several months after the Central Bank had ordered petitioner's closure. By that time, petitioner bank was no longer in a position to comply with its obligations to its creditors, including herein private respondents. Even the trial court had to admit that petitioner bank failed to pay private respondents because it was already insolvent. 8 Further, this case is not one of the specified or analogous cases wherein moral damages may be recovered. 9 There is no valid basis for the award of exemplary damages which is supposed to serve as a warning to other banks from dissipating their assets in anomalous transactions. It was not proven by private respondents, and neither was there a categorical finding made by the trial court, that petitioner bank actually engaged in anomalous real estate transactions. The same

were raised only during the testimony of the bank examiner of the Central Bank, 10 but no documentary evidence was ever presented in support thereof. Hence, it was error for the lower court to impose exemplary damages upon petitioner bank since, in contracts, such sanction requires that the offending party acted in a wanton, fraudulent, reckless, oppressive or malevolent manner. 11 Neither does this case present the situation where attorney's fees may be awarded. 12 In the absence of fraud, bad faith, malice or wanton attitude, petitioner bank may, therefore, not be held responsible for damages which may be reasonably attributed to the non-performance of the obligation. 13 Consequently, we reiterate that under the premises and pursuant to the aforementioned provisions of law, it is apparent that private respondents are not justifiably entitled to the payment of moral and exemplary damages and attorney's fees. While we tend to agree with petitioner bank that private respondents' claims should he been filed in the liquidation proceedings in Civil Case No. 86005, entitled "In Re: Liquidation of the Fidelity Savings and Mortgage Bank," pending before Branch XIII of the then Court of First Instance of Manila, we do not believe that the decision rendered in the instant case would be violative of the legal provisions on preference and concurrence of credits. As the trial court puts it: . . . But this order of payment should not be understood as raising these deposits to the category of preferred credits of the defendant Fidelity Savings and Mortgage Bank but shall be paid in accordance with the Bank Liquidation Rules and Regulations embodied in the Order of the. Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch XIII dated October 3, 1972 (Exh. 3). . . . 14 WHEREFORE, the judgment appealed from is hereby MODIFIED. Petitioner Fidelity Savings and Mortgage Bank is hereby declared liable to pay private respondents Timoteo and Olimpia Santiago the sum of P90,000.00, with accrued interest in accordance with the terms of Savings Account Deposit No. 16-0536 (Exhibit A) and Certificate of Time Deposit No. 0210 (Exhibit B) until February 18, 1969. The awards for moral and exemplary damages, and attorney's fees are hereby DELETED. No costs. SO ORDERED.

Melencio-Herrera, Paras, Padilla and Sarmiento, JJ., concur.

Cancio vs. Court of Appeals, 154 SCRA 731 (1987)


Republic SUPREME Manila of the Philippines COURT

SPECIAL FORMER FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. 73882 October 22, 1987 ROSA CANCIO, petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF TAX APPEALS and HON. COMMISSIONER OF CUSTOMS, respondents.

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.: Before us is petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration of this Court's Resolution of August 11, 1986, which denied for lack of merit her Petition for Review on certiorari of respondent Court of Tax Appeals' (CTA) Decision in C.T.A. Case No. 3398. During the pendency of this case, or on April 23, 1986, petitioner had passed away and her legal heirs were ordered substituted in her stead and Jose Cancio, Jr., was appointed guardian ad-litem for the minors Ma. Irene and Roberto, both surnamed Cancio, in this Court's Resolution of August 11, 1986. There is no substantial dispute on the background facts and the evidentiary aspects Vol the controversy, summarized in said Decision as follows: The records show that claimant Mrs. Rosa Cancio bearing Philippine Passport No. 11797799 while clearing through the PreBoarding (AVSECOM) Area of MIA with her husband and three (3) children to board PR 306 for Hongkong in the morning of June 12, 1981, was apprehended with One Hundred Two Thousand Nine Hundred Dollars (US$102,900.00) in cash, six hundred

dollars (US$600.00) in two travelers checks, and one thousand five hundred (Pl,500.00) Pesos; that such apprehension was effected only thru an alarm sounded by the scanner (metal detecting device) of the AVSECOM men, when Mrs. Cancio who did not declare her currency had already passed the Customs inspection area; that subject currencies were placed and concealed inside the two fairly-sized carton boxes for local chocolates, securely wrapped and taped with tin foil-back paper; and, that in view of claimant's failure, upon being required, to present the Central Bank Authority, the said currencies were accordingly confiscated and a seizure Receipt No. 013 was issued to her; hence, this seizure proceedings. At the hearing of this case, claimant, thru counsel, presented certified xerox copy of her Bank Book (Exhibit "I") for foreign currency deposit with the Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank under Account FCDU No. 0265, dollar remittances in telegraphic transfers from abroad for deposits in her account from May 13, 1981 to May 21, 1981, and withdrawal cards (Exhibit "lA" to "1-E", inclusive), attesting to the fact that claimant Rosa Cancio had withdrawn from her FCDU Account a certain amount of United States currency which tended to show that claimant herein was a foreign currency depositor pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act No. 6426, as implemented by Central Bank Circular No. 343. And herein claimant testified that because her foreign currency deposit could not be withdrawn at one time, she made her withdrawal on several occasions starting from May 14, 1981 up to May 27, 1981 when she closed her account preparatory to her departure which was scheduled in the morning of June 12, 1981 for Hongkong; that from Hongkong, she and her family intended to proceed to the United States for medical treatment of her heart ailment as advised by her two attending physicians from the UST Hospital; that the US currency that they were carrying and confiscated from them on June 12, 1981 was intended principally for such medical purpose and for other miscellaneous and necessary expenses, and, that the subject currencies were concealed and hidden by them inside the two chocolate boxes solely for security reasons. 1

By reason of the forfeiture decreed by respondent Commissioner of Customs of both the foreign and local currencies due to petitioner's failure to present a Central Bank (CB) authority to bring said currencies out of the country, petitioner appealed to respondent Court of Tax Appeals. The latter Court affirmed the forfeiture of the US$102,900.00 in cash, and US$600.00 in travellers' checks for having been in violation of Central Bank Circulars Nos. 265 and 534, in relation to Section 2530(f) of the Tariff and Customs Code, as amended. It reversed, however, the forfeiture of P1,500.00 on the ground that since petitioner was travelling with her husband and three (3) children, the said amount did not exceed the P500.00 at that each traveller is allowed to bring out of the country without a CB permit pursuant to paragraph 4 of CB Circular No. 383. Petitioner's unimpugned evidence shows that she was a foreign currency depositor at the Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank at Makati, Metro Manila, and that the subject foreign currency was part of the total amount of US$116,000.00 she had withdrawn from said bank from May 14 to 27, 1981 for her travel and medical expenses in the United States via Hongkong. 2 Admitted, too, is the fact that petitioner failed to present to the apprehending customs authorities a Central Bank authority to bring out of the country the said currencies while at the pre-boarding area of the Manila International Airport on June 12, 1981 on her scheduled flight to Hongkong together with her husband and three children. The primordial issue for resolution is whether or not respondent Court had committed reversible error in upholding the forfeiture of the foreign currencies in question. A second look at the facts and the equity of the case, the pertinent laws, and the CB Circulars involved constrains us to rule in the affirmative and, accordingly, to grant reconsideration of our Resolution of August 11, 1986 denying review. It is true that in so far as the exportation or taking out of foreign currency from the country is concerned, Central Bank Circular No. 265, issued on November 20, 1968, particularly paragraph 3 thereof, mandates: 3. No person shall take out or export from the Philippines foreign currency or any other foreign exchange except as otherwise authorized by the Central Bank.

Similarly, Central bank Circular No. 534, issued on July 19, 1976, reiterates and provides in Sec. 3 thereof as follows: Sec. 3. Unless specifically authorized by the Central Bank or allowed under existing international agreements or Central Bank regulations, no person shall take or transmit or attempt to take or transmit foreign exchange, in any form out of the Philippines only, through other persons, through the mails, or through international carriers. The provisions of this Section shall not apply to tourists and nonresident temporary visitors who are taking or sending out of the Philippines their own foreign exchange brought in by them. However, peculiar to the present controversy is the fact that, as stated previously, petitioner is a foreign currency depositor. Relevant and applicable to her is the following provision of the "Foreign Currency Deposit Act of the Philip pines" (Republic Act No. 6426, as amended), which took effect upon its approval on April 4,1972: SEC. 5. Withdrawability and transferability of deposits. There shall be no restriction on the withdrawal by the depositor of his deposit or on the transferability of the same abroad except those arising from the contract between the depositor and the bank.11 (Emphasis Ours). Under the foregoing provision, the transferability abroad of foreign currency deposits is unrestricted. Only one exception is provided for therein, which is, any restriction " from the contract between the depositor and the bank." Neither is a Central Bank authority required for the transferability abroad of foreign currency deposits. Attention is called, however, to the implementing rules and regulations to said Republic Act 6426, as embodied in CB Circular No. 343 issued on April 24, 1972, which provides: SEC. 11. Withdrawability and Liquidity of Deposits. a. x x x x x x x x x

b. Subject only to the terms of the contract between the bank and the depositor, the latter shall have a general license to withdraw his deposit, notwithstanding any change in policy or regulations. xxx xxx xxx (Emphaisis supplied) Respondent Court has taken the position that the foregoing provision its the right of the depositor to that of withdrawal and withholds from him the right of transferability abroad. That is not so. Circular-Letter, dated August 3, 1978, issued by the Central Bank reads in explicit terms: TO: ALL BANKS AUTHORIZED TO ACCEPT FOREIGN CURRENCY DEPOSITS UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF RA 6426, AS AMENDED AND PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 1035. Effective immediately, the banks authorized to accept foreign currency deposits under the provisions of RA 6426, as amended, and PD 1035 and as implemented by Central Bank Circular 343 and 547, are hereby instructed to advise their foreign currency depositors who are withdrawing funds for travel purposes to carry with them the certificate of withdrawal that the banks shall issue. The travellers shall present the certifications to the Customs and Central Bank personnel at the MIA, if requested. The banks shall issue a uniform certification, as follows: ___________________ Date TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: This certifies that ________________________whose signature appears below has withdrawn today, the amount of ____________in cash (US$ _______________) and Travellers Check (US$___________________________) against his/her foreign currency account maintained with us.

The funds herein withdrawn are represented to be used in connection with the depositor's foreign travel scheduled on or about ____________________197_________. ___________________________ (Signature of Authorized Official OverPrinted Name) _______________________ (Signature of Depositor) Please be guided accordingly. (SGD.) R.D.RUIZ Director It is a fact that petitioner could not present a certificate of withdrawal at the Manila International Airport when she was about to depart. As she had explained, however, she was unaware of this requirement. And if she had wrapped her dollar currency inside a chocolate box it was for "security reasons." Besides, as instructed in the Circular-Letter abovequoted, it is the authorized depository bank which should advise its depositors to carry with them the certificate of withdrawal. At any rate, respondent Court has found that petitioner has presented in evidence her foreign currency bank book 3 and her withdrawal cards. 4 These may be considered as substantial compliance for purposes of this case. Indeed, given the underlying objective of the Foreign Currency Deposit Act, as amended, which is to attract and invite the deposit of foreign currencies which are acceptable as part of the international reserve in duly authorized banks in order that they may be put into the stream of the banking system, it would be to defeat the very purpose of the law to place undue restrictions on the transferability of such funds. The countervailing effect would be to discourage prospective foreign currency depositors to the detriment of the banking system.

In fine, Central Bank Circulars Nos. 265 and 534 requiring prior Central Bank authority for the taking out of the country of foreign currency should not be made to encompass foreign currency depositors whose rights are expressly defined and guaranteed in a special law, the Foreign Currency Deposit Act (RA 6426, as amended). As a foreign currency depositor, therefore, petitioner cannot be adjudged to have violated the aforestated Central Bank Circulars. It follows that neither is there room for the application of Section 2530(f) of the Tariff and Customs Code, as amended, which provides for the forfeiture of any article and other objects, the exportation of which is effected or attempted contrary to law. This is not to condone petitioner's failure to declare the foreign currency she was carrying out of the country but just to stress that the Foreign Currency Deposit Act grants petitioner the right of transferability of her funds abroad except that she was not advised by her bank to secure, and consequently was unable to present, the necessary certificate of withdrawal from said bank. ACCORDINGLY, the Decision of respondent Court of Tax Appeals is hereby SET ASIDE in so far as it upheld the forfeiture by respondent Commissioner of Customs of the sums of US$102,900.00 in cash, and US$600.00 in traveller's checks, which amounts should now be returned to petitioner's heirs, but AFFIRMED in so far as it reversed the forfeiture by the same official of the sum of P1,500.00. No costs. SO ORDERED.

Salvacion vs. Central Bank, 278 SCRA 27 (1997)


Republic SUPREME Manila EN BANC of the Philippines COURT

G.R. No. 94723 August 21, 1997 KAREN E. SALVACION, minor, thru Federico N. Salvacion, Jr., father and Natural Guardian, and Spouses FEDERICO N. SALVACION, JR., and EVELINA E. SALVACION, petitioners, vs. CENTRAL BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, CHINA BANKING CORPORATION and GREG BARTELLI y NORTHCOTT, respondents.

TORRES, JR., J.: In our predisposition to discover the "original intent" of a statute, courts become the unfeeling pillars of the status quo. Ligle do we realize that statutes or even constitutions are bundles of compromises thrown our way by their framers. Unless we exercise vigilance, the statute may already be out of tune and irrelevant to our day. The petition is for declaratory relief. It prays for the following reliefs: a.) Immediately upon the filing of this petition, an Order be issued restraining the respondents from applying and enforcing Section 113 of Central Bank Circular No. 960; b.) After hearing, judgment be rendered: 1.) Declaring the respective rights and duties of petitioners and respondents;

2.) Adjudging Section 113 of Central Bank Circular No. 960 as contrary to the provisions of the Constitution, hence void; because its provision that "Foreign currency deposits shall be exempt from attachment, garnishment, or any other order or process of any court, legislative body, government agency or any administrative body whatsoever i.) has taken away the right of petitioners to have the bank deposit of defendant Greg Bartelli y Northcott garnished to satisfy the judgment rendered in petitioners' favor in violation of substantive due process guaranteed by the Constitution; ii.) has given foreign currency depositors an undue favor or a class privilege in violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution; iii.) has provided a safe haven for criminals like the herein respondent Greg Bartelli y Northcott since criminals could escape civil liability for their wrongful acts by merely converting their money to a foreign currency and depositing it in a foreign currency deposit account with an authorized bank. The antecedent facts: On February 4, 1989, Greg Bartelli y Northcott, an American tourist, coaxed and lured petitioner Karen Salvacion, then 12 years old to go with him to his apartment. Therein, Greg Bartelli detained Karen Salvacion for four days, or up to February 7, 1989 and was able to rape the child once on February 4, and three times each day on February 5, 6, and 7, 1989. On February 7, 1989, after policemen and people living nearby, rescued Karen, Greg Bartelli was arrested and detained at the Makati Municipal Jail. The policemen recovered from Bartelli the following items: 1.) Dollar Check No. 368, Control No. 021000678-1166111303, US 3,903.20; 2.) COCOBANK Bank Book No. 104-108758-8 (Peso Acct.); 3.) Dollar Account China Banking Corp., US$/A#54105028-2; 4.) ID-122-30-8877; 5.) Philippine Money (P234.00) cash; 6.) Door Keys 6 pieces; 7.) Stuffed Doll (Teddy Bear) used in seducing the complainant.

On February 16, 1989, Makati Investigating Fiscal Edwin G. Condaya filed against Greg Bartelli, Criminal Case No. 801 for Serious Illegal Detention and Criminal Cases Nos. 802, 803, 804, and 805 for four (4) counts of Rape. On the same day, petitioners filed with the Regional Trial Court of Makati Civil Case No. 89-3214 for damages with preliminary attachment against Greg Bartelli. On February 24, 1989, the day there was a scheduled hearing for Bartelli's petition for bail the latter escaped from jail. On February 28, 1989, the court granted the fiscal's Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for the Issuance of Warrant of Arrest and Hold Departure Order. Pending the arrest of the accused Greg Bartelli y Northcott, the criminal cases were archived in an Order dated February 28, 1989. Meanwhile, in Civil Case No. 89-3214, the Judge issued an Order dated February 22, 1989 granting the application of herein petitioners, for the issuance of the writ of preliminary attachment. After petitioners gave Bond No. JCL (4) 1981 by FGU Insurance Corporation in the amount of P100,000.00, a Writ of Preliminary Attachment was issued by the trial court on February 28, 1989. On March 1, 1989, the Deputy Sheriff of Makati served a Notice of Garnishment on China Banking Corporation. In a letter dated March 13, 1989 to the Deputy Sheriff of Makati, China Banking Corporation invoked Republic Act No. 1405 as its answer to the notice of garnishment served on it. On March 15, 1989, Deputy Sheriff of Makati Armando de Guzman sent his reply to China Banking Corporation saying that the garnishment did not violate the secrecy of bank deposits since the disclosure is merely incidental to a garnishment properly and legally made by virtue of a court order which has placed the subject deposits in custodia legis. In answer to this letter of the Deputy Sheriff of Makati, China Banking Corporation, in a letter dated March 20, 1989, invoked Section 113 of Central Bank Circular No. 960 to the effect that the dollar deposits or defendant Greg Bartelli are exempt from attachment, garnishment, or any other order or process of any court, legislative body, government agency or any administrative body, whatsoever. This prompted the counsel for petitioners to make an inquiry with the Central Bank in a letter dated April 25, 1989 on whether Section 113 of CB Circular No. 960 has any exception or whether said section has been repealed or amended since said section has rendered nugatory the

substantive right of the plaintiff to have the claim sought to be enforced by the civil action secured by way of the writ of preliminary attachment as granted to the plaintiff under Rule 57 of the Revised Rules of Court. The Central Bank responded as follows: May 26, 1989 Ms. Erlinda 12 Pres. South Paranaque, Metro Manila Dear Ms. Carolino: This is in reply to your letter dated April 25, 1989 regarding your inquiry on Section 113, CB Circular No. 960 (1983). The cited provision is absolute in application. It does not admit of any exception, nor has the same been repealed nor amended. The purpose of the law is to encourage dollar accounts within the country's banking system which would help in the development of the economy. There is no intention to render futile the basic rights of a person as was suggested in your subject letter. The law may be harsh as some perceive it, but it is still the law. Compliance is, therefore, enjoined. Very truly yours, (SGD) Director 1 AGAPITO S. FAJARDO S. Osmena Admiral Carolino Avenue Village

Meanwhile, on April 10, 1989, the trial court granted petitioners' motion for leave to serve summons by publication in the Civil Case No. 89-3214 entitled "Karen Salvacion, et al. vs. Greg Bartelli y Northcott." Summons with the complaint was a published in the Manila Times once a week for three consecutive weeks. Greg Bartelli failed to file his answer to the complaint and was declared in default on August 7, 1989. After hearing the case ex-parte, the court rendered judgment in favor of petitioners on March 29, 1990, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of plaintiffs and against defendant, ordering the latter: 1. To pay plaintiff Karen E. Salvacion the amount of P500,000.00 as moral damages; 2. To pay her parents, plaintiffs spouses Federico N. Salvacion, Jr., and Evelina E. Salvacion the amount of P150,000.00 each or a total of P300,000.00 for both of them; 3. To pay plaintiffs exemplary damages of P100,000.00; and 4. To pay attorney's fees in an amount equivalent to 25% of the total amount of damages herein awarded; 5. To pay litigation expenses of P10,000.00; plus 6. Costs of the suit. SO ORDERED. The heinous acts of respondent Greg Bartelli which gave rise to the award were related in graphic detail by the trial court in its decision as follows: The defendant in this case was originally detained in the municipal jail of Makati but was able to escape therefrom on February 24, 1989 as per report of the Jail Warden of Makati to the Presiding Judge, Honorable Manuel M. Cosico of the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 136, where he was charged with four counts of Rape and Serious Illegal Detention (Crim. Cases Nos. 802 to 805). Accordingly, upon motion of plaintiffs, through counsel, summons was served upon defendant by publication in the Manila Times, a newspaper of general circulation as attested by the Advertising Manager of the Metro Media Times, Inc., the publisher of the said newspaper. Defendant, however, failed to file his answer to the complaint despite the lapse of the period of sixty (60) days from the last publication; hence, upon motion of the plaintiffs, through counsel, defendant was declared in default and plaintiffs were authorized to present their evidence ex parte.

In support of the complaint, plaintiffs presented as witnesses the minor Karen E. Salvacion, her father, Federico N. Salvacion, Jr., a certain Joseph Aguilar and a certain Liberato Madulio, who gave the following testimony: Karen took her first year high school in St. Mary's Academy in Pasay City but has recently transferred to Arellano University for her second year. In the afternoon of February 4, 1989, Karen was at the Plaza Fair Makati Cinema Square, with her friend Edna Tangile whiling away her free time. At about 3:30 p.m. while she was finishing her snack on a concrete bench in front of Plaza Fair, an American approached her. She was then alone because Edna Tangile had already left, and she was about to go home. (TSN, Aug. 15, 1989, pp. 2 to 5) The American asked her name and introduced himself as Greg Bartelli. He sat beside her when he talked to her. He said he was a Math teacher and told her that he has a sister who is a nurse in New York. His sister allegedly has a daughter who is about Karen's age and who was with him in his house along Kalayaan Avenue. (TSN, Aug. 15, 1989, pp. 4-5) The American asked Karen what was her favorite subject and she told him it's Pilipino. He then invited her to go with him to his house where she could teach Pilipino to his niece. He even gave her a stuffed toy to persuade her to teach his niece. (Id., pp. 5-6) They walked from Plaza Fair along Pasong Tamo, turning right to reach the defendant's house along Kalayaan Avenue. (Id., p. 6) When they reached the apartment house, Karen noticed that defendant's alleged niece was not outside the house but defendant told her maybe his niece was inside. When Karen did not see the alleged niece inside the house, defendant told her maybe his niece was upstairs, and invited Karen to go upstairs. (Id., p. 7)

Upon entering the bedroom defendant suddenly locked the door. Karen became nervous because his niece was not there. Defendant got a piece of cotton cord and tied Karen's hands with it, and then he undressed her. Karen cried for help but defendant strangled her. He took a packing tape and he covered her mouth with it and he circled it around her head. (Id., p. 7) Then, defendant suddenly pushed Karen towards the bed which was just near the door. He tied her feet and hands spread apart to the bed posts. He knelt in front of her and inserted his finger in her sex organ. She felt severe pain. She tried to shout but no sound could come out because there were tapes on her mouth. When defendant withdrew his finger it was full of blood and Karen felt more pain after the withdrawal of the finger. (Id., p. 8) He then got a Johnson's Baby Oil and he applied it to his sex organ as well as to her sex organ. After that he forced his sex organ into her but he was not able to do so. While he was doing it, Karen found it difficult to breathe and she perspired a lot while feeling severe pain. She merely presumed that he was able to insert his sex organ a little, because she could not see. Karen could not recall how long the defendant was in that position. (Id. pp. 8-9) After that, he stood up and went to the bathroom to wash. He also told Karen to take a shower and he untied her hands. Karen could only hear the sound of the water while the defendant, she presumed, was in the bathroom washing his sex organ. When she took a shower more blood came out from her. In the meantime, defendant changed the mattress because it was full of blood. After the shower, Karen was allowed by defendant to sleep. She fell asleep because she got tired crying. The incident happened at about 4:00 p.m. Karen had no way of determining the exact time because defendant removed her watch. Defendant did not care to give her food before she went to sleep. Karen woke up at about 8:00 o'clock the following morning. (Id., pp. 9-10) The following day, February 5, 1989, a Sunday, after a breakfast of biscuit and coke at about 8:30 to 9:00 a.m. defendant raped Karen while she was still bleeding. For lunch, they also took

biscuit and coke. She was raped for the second time at about 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. In the evening, they had rice for dinner which defendant had stored downstairs; it was he who cooked the rice that is why it looks like "lugaw". For the third time, Karen was raped again during the night. During those three times defendant succeeded in inserting his sex organ but she could not say whether the organ was inserted wholly. Karen did not see any firearm or any bladed weapon. The defendant did not tie her hands and feet nor put a tape on her mouth anymore but she did not cry for help for fear that she might be killed; besides, all the windows and doors were closed. And even if she shouted for help, nobody would hear her. She was so afraid that if somebody would hear her and would be able to call the police, it was still possible that as she was still inside the house, defendant might kill her. Besides, the defendant did not leave that Sunday, ruling out her chance to call for help. At nighttime he slept with her again. (TSN, Aug. 15, 1989, pp. 12-14) On February 6, 1989, Monday, Karen was raped three times, once in the morning for thirty minutes after a breakfast of biscuits; again in the afternoon; and again in the evening. At first, Karen did not know that there was a window because everything was covered by a carpet, until defendant opened the window for around fifteen minutes or less to let some air in, and she found that the window was covered by styrofoam and plywood. After that, he again closed the window with a hammer and he put the styrofoam, plywood, and carpet back. (Id., pp. 14-15) That Monday evening, Karen had a chance to call for help, although defendant left but kept the door closed. She went to the bathroom and saw a small window covered by styrofoam and she also spotted a small hole. She stepped on the bowl and she cried for help through the hole. She cried: "Maawa no po kayo so akin. Tulungan n'yo akong makalabas dito. Kinidnap ako!" Somebody heard her. It was a woman, probably a neighbor, but she got angry and said she was "istorbo". Karen pleaded for help and the woman told her to sleep and she will call the police. She finally fell asleep but no policeman came. (TSN, Aug. 15, 1989, pp. 15-16)

She woke up at 6:00 o'clock the following morning, and she saw defendant in bed, this time sleeping. She waited for him to wake up. When he woke up, he again got some food but he always kept the door locked. As usual, she was merely fed with biscuit and coke. On that day, February 7, 1989, she was again raped three times. The first at about 6:30 to 7:00 a.m., the second at about 8:30 9:00, and the third was after lunch at 12:00 noon. After he had raped her for the second time he left but only for a short while. Upon his return, he caught her shouting for help but he did not understand what she was shouting about. After she was raped the third time, he left the house. (TSN, Aug. 15, 1989, pp. 16-17) She again went to the bathroom and shouted for help. After shouting for about five minutes, she heard many voices. The voices were asking for her name and she gave her name as Karen Salvacion. After a while, she heard a voice of a woman saying they will just call the police. They were also telling her to change her clothes. She went from the bathroom to the room but she did not change her clothes being afraid that should the neighbors call for the police and the defendant see her in different clothes, he might kill her. At that time she was wearing a T-shirt of the American because the latter washed her dress. (Id., p. 16) Afterwards, defendant arrived and he opened the door. He asked her if she had asked for help because there were many policemen outside and she denied it. He told her to change her clothes, and she did change to the one she was wearing on Saturday. He instructed her to tell the police that she left home and willingly; then he went downstairs but he locked the door. She could hear people conversing but she could not understand what they were saying. (Id., p. 19) When she heard the voices of many people who were conversing downstairs, she knocked repeatedly at the door as hard as she could. She heard somebody going upstairs and when the door was opened, she saw a policeman. The policeman asked her name and the reason why she was there. She told him she was kidnapped. Downstairs, he saw about five policemen in uniform and the defendant was talking to them. "Nakikipag-areglo po sa

mga pulis," Karen added. "The policeman told him to just explain at the precinct. (Id., p. 20) They went out of the house and she saw some of her neighbors in front of the house. They rode the car of a certain person she called Kuya Boy together with defendant, the policeman, and two of her neighbors whom she called Kuya Bong Lacson and one Ate Nita. They were brought to Sub-Station I and there she was investigated by a policeman. At about 2:00 a.m., her father arrived, followed by her mother together with some of their neighbors. Then they were brought to the second floor of the police headquarters. (Id., p. 21) At the headquarters, she was asked several questions by the investigator. The written statement she gave to the police was marked as Exhibit A. Then they proceeded to the National Bureau of Investigation together with the investigator and her parents. At the NBI, a doctor, a medico-legal officer, examined her private parts. It was already 3:00 in the early morning of the following day when they reached the NBI. (TSN, Aug. 15, 1989, p. 22) The findings of the medico-legal officer has been marked as Exhibit B. She was studying at the St. Mary's Academy in Pasay City at the time of the incident but she subsequently transferred to Apolinario Mabini, Arellano University, situated along Taft Avenue, because she was ashamed to be the subject of conversation in the school. She first applied for transfer to Jose Abad Santos, Arellano University along Taft Avenue near the Light Rail Transit Station but she was denied admission after she told the school the true reason for her transfer. The reason for their denial was that they might be implicated in the case. (TSN, Aug. 15, 1989, p. 46) xxx xxx xxx After the incident, Karen has changed a lot. She does not play with her brother and sister anymore, and she is always in a state of shock; she has been absent-minded and is ashamed even to go out of the house. (TSN, Sept. 12, 1989, p. 10) She appears to be restless or sad, (Id., p. 11) The father prays for P500,000.00 moral damages for Karen for this shocking experience which

probably, she would always recall until she reaches old age, and he is not sure if she could ever recover from this experience. (TSN, Sept. 24, 1989, pp. 10-11) Pursuant to an Order granting leave to publish notice of decision, said notice was published in the Manila Bulletin once a week for three consecutive weeks. After the lapse of fifteen (15) days from the date of the last publication of the notice of judgment and the decision of the trial court had become final, petitioners tried to execute on Bartelli's dollar deposit with China Banking Corporation. Likewise, the bank invoked Section 113 of Central Bank Circular No. 960. Thus, petitioners decided to seek relief from this Court. The issues raised and the arguments articulated by the parties boil down to two: May this Court entertain the instant petition despite the fact that original jurisdiction in petitions for declaratory relief rests with the lower court? Should Section 113 of Central Bank Circular No. 960 and Section 8 of R.A. 6426, as amended by P.D. 1246, otherwise known as the Foreign Currency Deposit Act be made applicable to a foreign transient? Petitioners aver as heretofore stated that Section 113 of Central Bank Circular No. 960 providing that "Foreign currency deposits shall be exempt from attachment, garnishment, or any other order or process of any court, legislative body, government agency or any administrative body whatsoever." should be adjudged as unconstitutional on the grounds that: 1.) it has taken away the right of petitioners to have the bank deposit of defendant Greg Bartelli y Northcott garnished to satisfy the judgment rendered in petitioners' favor in violation of substantive due process guaranteed by the Constitution; 2.) it has given foreign currency depositors an undue favor or a class privilege in violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution; 3.) it has provided a safe haven for criminals like the herein respondent Greg Bartelli y Northcott since criminals could escape civil liability for their wrongful acts by merely converting their money to a foreign currency and depositing it in a foreign currency deposit account with an authorized bank; and 4.) The Monetary Board, in issuing Section 113 of Central Bank Circular No. 960 has exceeded its delegated quasi-legislative power when it took away: a.) the plaintiffs substantive right to have the claim

sought to be enforced by the civil action secured by way of the writ of preliminary attachment as granted by Rule 57 of the Revised Rules of Court; b.) the plaintiffs substantive right to have the judgment credit satisfied by way of the writ of execution out of the bank deposit of the judgment debtor as granted to the judgment creditor by Rule 39 of the Revised Rules of Court, which is beyond its power to do so. On the other hand, respondent Central Bank, in its Comment alleges that the Monetary Board in issuing Section 113 of CB Circular No. 960 did not exceed its power or authority because the subject Section is copied verbatim from a portion of R.A. No. 6426 as amended by P.D. 1246. Hence, it was not the Monetary Board that grants exemption from attachment or garnishment to foreign currency deposits, but the law (R.A. 6426 as amended) itself; that it does not violate the substantive due process guaranteed by the Constitution because a.) it was based on a law; b.) the law seems to be reasonable; c.) it is enforced according to regular methods of procedure; and d.) it applies to all members of a class. Expanding, the Central Bank said; that one reason for exempting the foreign currency deposits from attachment, garnishment or any other order or process of any court, is to assure the development and speedy growth of the Foreign Currency Deposit System and the Offshore Banking System in the Philippines; that another reason is to encourage the inflow of foreign currency deposits into the banking institutions thereby placing such institutions more in a position to properly channel the same to loans and investments in the Philippines, thus directly contributing to the economic development of the country; that the subject section is being enforced according to the regular methods of procedure; and that it applies to all foreign currency deposits made by any person and therefore does not violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution. Respondent Central Bank further avers that the questioned provision is needed to promote the public interest and the general welfare; that the State cannot just stand idly by while a considerable segment of the society suffers from economic distress; that the State had to take some measures to encourage economic development; and that in so doing persons and property may be subjected to some kinds of restraints or burdens to secure the general welfare or public interest. Respondent Central Bank also alleges that Rule 39 and Rule 57 of the Revised Rules of Court provide that some

properties are exempted from execution/attachment especially provided by law and R.A. No. 6426 as amended is such a law, in that it specifically provides, among others, that foreign currency deposits shall be exempted from attachment, garnishment, or any other order or process of any court, legislative body, government agency or any administrative body whatsoever. For its part, respondent China Banking Corporation, aside from giving reasons similar to that of respondent Central Bank, also stated that respondent China Bank is not unmindful of the inhuman sufferings experienced by the minor Karen E. Salvacion from the beastly hands of Greg Bartelli; that it is only too willing to release the dollar deposit of Bartelli which may perhaps partly mitigate the sufferings petitioner has undergone; but it is restrained from doing so in view of R.A. No. 6426 and Section 113 of Central Bank Circular No. 960; and that despite the harsh effect of these laws on petitioners, CBC has no other alternative but to follow the same. This Court finds the petition to be partly meritorious. Petitioner deserves to receive the damages awarded to her by the court. But this petition for declaratory relief can only be entertained and treated as a petition for mandamus to require respondents to honor and comply with the writ of execution in Civil Case No. 89-3214. This Court has no original and exclusive jurisdiction over a petition for declaratory relief. 2 However, exceptions to this rule have been recognized. Thus, where the petition has far-reaching implications and raises questions that should be resolved, it may be treated as one for mandamus. 3 Here is a child, a 12-year old girl, who in her belief that all Americans are good and in her gesture of kindness by teaching his alleged niece the Filipino language as requested by the American, trustingly went with said stranger to his apartment, and there she was raped by said American tourist Greg Bartelli. Not once, but ten times. She was detained therein for four (4) days. This American tourist was able to escape from the jail and avoid punishment. On the other hand, the child, having received a favorable judgment in the Civil Case for damages in the amount of more than P1,000,000.00, which amount could alleviate the humiliation, anxiety, and besmirched reputation she had suffered and may continue to suffer for a long, long time; and knowing that this person who had wronged her has the

money, could not, however get the award of damages because of this unreasonable law. This questioned law, therefore makes futile the favorable judgment and award of damages that she and her parents fully deserve. As stated by the trial court in its decision, Indeed, after hearing the testimony of Karen, the Court believes that it was undoubtedly a shocking and traumatic experience she had undergone which could haunt her mind for a long, long time, the mere recall of which could make her feel so humiliated, as in fact she had been actually humiliated once when she was refused admission at the Abad Santos High School, Arellano University, where she sought to transfer from another school, simply because the school authorities of the said High School learned about what happened to her and allegedly feared that they might be implicated in the case. xxx xxx xxx The reason for imposing exemplary or corrective damages is due to the wanton and bestial manner defendant had committed the acts of rape during a period of serious illegal detention of his hapless victim, the minor Karen Salvacion whose only fault was in her being so naive and credulous to believe easily that defendant, an American national, could not have such a bestial desire on her nor capable of committing such a heinous crime. Being only 12 years old when that unfortunate incident happened, she has never heard of an old Filipino adage that in every forest there is a snake, . . . . 4 If Karen's sad fate had happened to anybody's own kin, it would be difficult for him to fathom how the incentive for foreign currency deposit could be more important than his child's rights to said award of damages; in this case, the victim's claim for damages from this alien who had the gall to wrong a child of tender years of a country where he is a mere visitor. This further illustrates the flaw in the questioned provisions. It is worth mentioning that R.A. No. 6426 was enacted in 1983 or at a time when the country's economy was in a shambles; when foreign investments were minimal and presumably, this was the reason why said statute was enacted. But the realities of the present times show that the country has

recovered economically; and even if not, the questioned law still denies those entitled to due process of law for being unreasonable and oppressive. The intention of the questioned law may be good when enacted. The law failed to anticipate the iniquitous effects producing outright injustice and inequality such as the case before us. It has thus been said that But I also know, 5 that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths are disclosed and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. . . We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors. In his Comment, the Solicitor General correctly opined, thus: The present petition has far-reaching implications on the right of a national to obtain redress for a wrong committed by an alien who takes refuge under a law and regulation promulgated for a purpose which does not contemplate the application thereof envisaged by the alien. More specifically, the petition raises the question whether the protection against attachment, garnishment or other court process accorded to foreign currency deposits by PD No. 1246 and CB Circular No. 960 applies when the deposit does not come from a lender or investor but from a mere transient or tourist who is not expected to maintain the deposit in the bank for long. The resolution of this question is important for the protection of nationals who are victimized in the forum by foreigners who are merely passing through. xxx xxx xxx . . . Respondents China Banking Corporation and Central Bank of the Philippines refused to honor the writ of execution issued in

Civil Case No. 89-3214 on the strength of the following provision of Central Bank Circular No. 960: Sec. 113. Exemption from attachment. Foreign currency deposits shall be exempt from attachment, garnishment, or any other order or process of any court, legislative body, government agency or any administrative body whatsoever. Central Bank Circular No. 960 was issued pursuant to Section 7 of Republic Act No. 6426: Sec. 7. Rules and Regulations. The Monetary Board of the Central Bank shall promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act which shall take effect after the publication of such rules and regulations in the Official Gazette and in a newspaper of national circulation for at least once a week for three consecutive weeks. In case the Central Bank promulgates new rules and regulations decreasing the rights of depositors, the rules and regulations at the time the deposit was made shall govern. The aforecited Section 113 was copied from Section 8 of Republic Act NO. 6426, as amended by P.D. 1246, thus: Sec. 8. Secrecy of Foreign Currency Deposits. All foreign currency deposits authorized under this Act, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1035, as well as foreign currency deposits authorized under Presidential Decree No. 1034, are hereby declared as and considered of an absolutely confidential nature and, except upon the written permission of the depositor, in no instance shall such foreign currency deposits be examined, inquired or looked into by any person, government official, bureau or office whether judicial or administrative or legislative or any other entity whether public or private: Provided, however, that said foreign currency deposits shall be exempt from attachment,

garnishment, or any other order or process of any court, legislative body, government agency or any administrative body whatsoever. The purpose of PD 1246 in according protection against attachment, garnishment and other court process to foreign currency deposits is stated in its whereases, viz.: WHEREAS, under Republic Act No. 6426, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1035, certain Philippine banking institutions and branches of foreign banks are authorized to accept deposits in foreign currency; WHEREAS, under the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1034 authorizing the establishment of an offshore banking system in the Philippines, offshore banking units are also authorized to receive foreign currency deposits in certain cases; WHEREAS, in order to assure the development and speedy growth of the Foreign Currency Deposit System and the Offshore Banking System in the Philippines, certain incentives were provided for under the two Systems such as confidentiality of deposits subject to certain exceptions and tax exemptions on the interest income of depositors who are nonresidents and are not engaged in trade or business in the Philippines; WHEREAS, making absolute the protective cloak of confidentiality over such foreign currency deposits, exempting such deposits from tax, and guaranteeing the vested rights of depositors would better encourage the inflow of foreign currency deposits into the banking institutions authorized to accept such deposits in the Philippines thereby placing such institutions more in a position to properly channel the same to loans and investments in the Philippines, thus directly contributing to the economic development of the country;

Thus, one of the principal purposes of the protection accorded to foreign currency deposits is "to assure the development and speedy growth of the Foreign Currency Deposit system and the Offshore Banking in the Philippines" (3rd Whereas). The Offshore Banking System was established by PD No. 1034. In turn, the purposes of PD No. 1034 are as follows: WHEREAS, conditions conducive to the establishment of an offshore banking system, such as political stability, a growing economy and adequate communication facilities, among others, exist in the Philippines; WHEREAS, it is in the interest of developing countries to have as wide access as possible to the sources of capital funds for economic development; WHEREAS, an offshore banking system based in the Philippines will be advantageous and beneficial to the country by increasing our links with foreign lenders, facilitating the flow of desired investments into the Philippines, creating employment opportunities and expertise in international finance, and contributing to the national development effort. WHEREAS, the geographical location, physical and human resources, and other positive factors provide the Philippines with the clear potential to develop as another financial center in Asia; On the other hand, the Foreign Currency Deposit system was created by PD. No. 1035. Its purposes are as follows: WHEREAS, the establishment of an offshore banking system in the Philippines has been authorized under a separate decree; WHEREAS, a number of local commercial banks, as depository bank under the Foreign Currency Deposit Act (RA No. 6426), have the resources and managerial

competence to more actively engage in foreign exchange transactions and participate in the grant of foreign currency loans to resident corporations and firms; WHEREAS, it is timely to expand the foreign currency lending authority of the said depository banks under RA 6426 and apply to their transactions the same taxes as would be applicable to transaction of the proposed offshore banking units; It is evident from the above [Whereas clauses] that the Offshore Banking System and the Foreign Currency Deposit System were designed to draw deposits from foreign lenders and investors (Vide second Whereas of PD No. 1034; third Whereas of PD No. 1035). It is these deposits that are induced by the two laws and given protection and incentives by them. Obviously, the foreign currency deposit made by a transient or a tourist is not the kind of deposit encouraged by PD Nos. 1034 and 1035 and given incentives and protection by said laws because such depositor stays only for a few days in the country and, therefore, will maintain his deposit in the bank only for a short time. Respondent Greg Bartelli, as stated, is just a tourist or a transient. He deposited his dollars with respondent China Banking Corporation only for safekeeping during his temporary stay in the Philippines. For the reasons stated above, the Solicitor General thus submits that the dollar deposit of respondent Greg Bartelli is not entitled to the protection of Section 113 of Central Bank Circular No. 960 and PD No. 1246 against attachment, garnishment or other court processes. 6 In fine, the application of the law depends on the extent of its justice. Eventually, if we rule that the questioned Section 113 of Central Bank Circular No. 960 which exempts from attachment, garnishment, or any other order or process of any court, legislative body, government agency or any

administrative body whatsoever, is applicable to a foreign transient, injustice would result especially to a citizen aggrieved by a foreign guest like accused Greg Bartelli. This would negate Article 10 of the New Civil Code which provides that "in case of doubt in the interpretation or application of laws, it is presumed that the lawmaking body intended right and justice to prevail. "Ninguno non deue enriquecerse tortizeramente con dano de otro." Simply stated, when the statute is silent or ambiguous, this is one of those fundamental solutions that would respond to the vehement urge of conscience. (Padilla vs. Padilla, 74 Phil. 377). It would be unthinkable, that the questioned Section 113 of Central Bank No. 960 would be used as a device by accused Greg Bartelli for wrongdoing, and in so doing, acquitting the guilty at the expense of the innocent. Call it what it may but is there no conflict of legal policy here? Dollar against Peso? Upholding the final and executory judgment of the lower court against the Central Bank Circular protecting the foreign depositor? Shielding or protecting the dollar deposit of a transient alien depositor against injustice to a national and victim of a crime? This situation calls for fairness against legal tyranny. We definitely cannot have both ways and rest in the belief that we have served the ends of justice. IN VIEW WHEREOF, the provisions of Section 113 of CB Circular No. 960 and PD No. 1246, insofar as it amends Section 8 of R.A. No. 6426 are hereby held to be INAPPLICABLE to this case because of its peculiar circumstances. Respondents are hereby REQUIRED to COMPLY with the writ of execution issued in Civil Case No. 89-3214, "Karen Salvacion, et al. vs. Greg Bartelli y Northcott, by Branch CXLIV, RTC Makati and to RELEASE to petitioners the dollar deposit of respondent Greg Bartelli y Northcott in such amount as would satisfy the judgment. SO ORDERED.

Simex International (Manila), Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, 183 SCRA 360 (1990)
Republic SUPREME Manila FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. 88013 March 19, 1990 SIMEX INTERNATIONAL (MANILA), INCORPORATED, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and TRADERS ROYAL BANK, respondents. Don P. Porcuincula for petitioner. San Juan, Gonzalez, San Agustin & Sinense for private respondent. of the Philippines COURT

CRUZ, J.: We are concerned in this case with the question of damages, specifically moral and exemplary damages. The negligence of the private respondent has already been established. All we have to ascertain is whether the petitioner is entitled to the said damages and, if so, in what amounts. The parties agree on the basic facts. The petitioner is a private corporation engaged in the exportation of food products. It buys these products from various local suppliers and then sells them abroad, particularly in the United States, Canada and the Middle East. Most of its exports are purchased by the petitioner on credit. The petitioner was a depositor of the respondent bank and maintained a checking account in its branch at Romulo Avenue, Cubao, Quezon City. On May 25, 1981, the petitioner deposited to its account in the said bank the amount of P100,000.00, thus increasing its balance as of that date to P190,380.74. 1 Subsequently, the petitioner issued several checks against

its deposit but was suprised to learn later that they had been dishonored for insufficient funds. The dishonored checks are the following: 1. Check No. 215391 dated May 29, 1981, in favor of California Manufacturing Company, Inc. for P16,480.00: 2. Check No. 215426 dated May 28, 1981, in favor of the Bureau of Internal Revenue in the amount of P3,386.73: 3. Check No. 215451 dated June 4, 1981, in favor of Mr. Greg Pedreo in the amount of P7,080.00; 4. Check No. 215441 dated June 5, 1981, in favor of Malabon Longlife Trading Corporation in the amount of P42,906.00: 5. Check No. 215474 dated June 10, 1981, in favor of Malabon Longlife Trading Corporation in the amount of P12,953.00: 6. Check No. 215477 dated June 9, 1981, in favor of Sea-Land Services, Inc. in the amount of P27,024.45: 7. Check No. 215412 dated June 10, 1981, in favor of Baguio Country Club Corporation in the amount of P4,385.02: and 8. Check No. 215480 dated June 9, 1981, in favor of Enriqueta Bayla in the amount of P6,275.00. 2 As a consequence, the California Manufacturing Corporation sent on June 9, 1981, a letter of demand to the petitioner, threatening prosecution if the dishonored check issued to it was not made good. It also withheld delivery of the order made by the petitioner. Similar letters were sent to the petitioner by the Malabon Long Life Trading, on June 15, 1981, and by the G. and U. Enterprises, on June 10, 1981. Malabon also canceled the petitioner's credit line and demanded that future payments be made by it in cash or certified check. Meantime, action on the pending orders of the petitioner with the other suppliers whose checks were dishonored was also deferred. The petitioner complained to the respondent bank on June 10, 1981. 3 Investigation disclosed that the sum of P100,000.00 deposited by the

petitioner on May 25, 1981, had not been credited to it. The error was rectified on June 17, 1981, and the dishonored checks were paid after they were re-deposited. 4 In its letter dated June 20, 1981, the petitioner demanded reparation from the respondent bank for its "gross and wanton negligence." This demand was not met. The petitioner then filed a complaint in the then Court of First Instance of Rizal claiming from the private respondent moral damages in the sum of P1,000,000.00 and exemplary damages in the sum of P500,000.00, plus 25% attorney's fees, and costs. After trial, Judge Johnico G. Serquinia rendered judgment holding that moral and exemplary damages were not called for under the circumstances. However, observing that the plaintiff's right had been violated, he ordered the defendant to pay nominal damages in the amount of P20,000.00 plus P5,000.00 attorney's fees and costs. 5 This decision was affirmed in toto by the respondent court. 6 The respondent court found with the trial court that the private respondent was guilty of negligence but agreed that the petitioner was nevertheless not entitled to moral damages. It said: The essential ingredient of moral damages is proof of bad faith (De Aparicio vs. Parogurga, 150 SCRA 280). Indeed, there was the omission by the defendant-appellee bank to credit appellant's deposit of P100,000.00 on May 25, 1981. But the bank rectified its records. It credited the said amount in favor of plaintiff-appellant in less than a month. The dishonored checks were eventually paid. These circumstances negate any imputation or insinuation of malicious, fraudulent, wanton and gross bad faith and negligence on the part of the defendant-appellant. It is this ruling that is faulted in the petition now before us. This Court has carefully examined the facts of this case and finds that it cannot share some of the conclusions of the lower courts. It seems to us that the negligence of the private respondent had been brushed off rather lightly as if it were a minor infraction requiring no more than a slap on the wrist. We feel it is not enough to say that the private respondent rectified its records and credited the deposit in less than a month as if this were

sufficient repentance. The error should not have been committed in the first place. The respondent bank has not even explained why it was committed at all. It is true that the dishonored checks were, as the Court of Appeals put it, "eventually" paid. However, this took almost a month when, properly, the checks should have been paid immediately upon presentment. As the Court sees it, the initial carelessness of the respondent bank, aggravated by the lack of promptitude in repairing its error, justifies the grant of moral damages. This rather lackadaisical attitude toward the complaining depositor constituted the gross negligence, if not wanton bad faith, that the respondent court said had not been established by the petitioner. We also note that while stressing the rectification made by the respondent bank, the decision practically ignored the prejudice suffered by the petitioner. This was simply glossed over if not, indeed, disbelieved. The fact is that the petitioner's credit line was canceled and its orders were not acted upon pending receipt of actual payment by the suppliers. Its business declined. Its reputation was tarnished. Its standing was reduced in the business community. All this was due to the fault of the respondent bank which was undeniably remiss in its duty to the petitioner. Article 2205 of the Civil Code provides that actual or compensatory damages may be received "(2) for injury to the plaintiff s business standing or commercial credit." There is no question that the petitioner did sustain actual injury as a result of the dishonored checks and that the existence of the loss having been established "absolute certainty as to its amount is not required." 7 Such injury should bolster all the more the demand of the petitioner for moral damages and justifies the examination by this Court of the validity and reasonableness of the said claim. We agree that moral damages are not awarded to penalize the defendant but to compensate the plaintiff for the injuries he may have suffered. 8 In the case at bar, the petitioner is seeking such damages for the prejudice sustained by it as a result of the private respondent's fault. The respondent court said that the claimed losses are purely speculative and are not supported by substantial evidence, but if failed to consider that the amount of such losses need not be established with exactitude precisely because of their nature. Moral damages are not susceptible of pecuniary estimation. Article 2216 of the Civil Code specifically provides that "no proof of pecuniary loss is necessary in order that moral, nominal, temperate,

liquidated or exemplary damages may be adjudicated." That is why the determination of the amount to be awarded (except liquidated damages) is left to the sound discretion of the court, according to "the circumstances of each case." From every viewpoint except that of the petitioner's, its claim of moral damages in the amount of P1,000,000.00 is nothing short of preposterous. Its business certainly is not that big, or its name that prestigious, to sustain such an extravagant pretense. Moreover, a corporation is not as a rule entitled to moral damages because, not being a natural person, it cannot experience physical suffering or such sentiments as wounded feelings, serious anxiety, mental anguish and moral shock. The only exception to this rule is where the corporation has a good reputation that is debased, resulting in its social humiliation. 9 We shall recognize that the petitioner did suffer injury because of the private respondent's negligence that caused the dishonor of the checks issued by it. The immediate consequence was that its prestige was impaired because of the bouncing checks and confidence in it as a reliable debtor was diminished. The private respondent makes much of the one instance when the petitioner was sued in a collection case, but that did not prove that it did not have a good reputation that could not be marred, more so since that case was ultimately settled. 10 It does not appear that, as the private respondent would portray it, the petitioner is an unsavory and disreputable entity that has no good name to protect. Considering all this, we feel that the award of nominal damages in the sum of P20,000.00 was not the proper relief to which the petitioner was entitled. Under Article 2221 of the Civil Code, "nominal damages are adjudicated in order that a right of the plaintiff, which has been violated or invaded by the defendant, may be vindicated or recognized, and not for the purpose of indemnifying the plaintiff for any loss suffered by him." As we have found that the petitioner has indeed incurred loss through the fault of the private respondent, the proper remedy is the award to it of moral damages, which we impose, in our discretion, in the same amount of P20,000.00. Now for the exemplary damages. The pertinent provisions of the Civil Code are the following:

Art. 2229. Exemplary or corrective damages are imposed, by way of example or correction for the public good, in addition to the moral, temperate, liquidated or compensatory damages. Art. 2232. In contracts and quasi-contracts, the court may award exemplary damages if the defendant acted in a wanton, fraudulent, reckless, oppressive, or malevolent manner. The banking system is an indispensable institution in the modern world and plays a vital role in the economic life of every civilized nation. Whether as mere passive entities for the safekeeping and saving of money or as active instruments of business and commerce, banks have become an ubiquitous presence among the people, who have come to regard them with respect and even gratitude and, most of all, confidence. Thus, even the humble wage-earner has not hesitated to entrust his life's savings to the bank of his choice, knowing that they will be safe in its custody and will even earn some interest for him. The ordinary person, with equal faith, usually maintains a modest checking account for security and convenience in the settling of his monthly bills and the payment of ordinary expenses. As for business entities like the petitioner, the bank is a trusted and active associate that can help in the running of their affairs, not only in the form of loans when needed but more often in the conduct of their day-to-day transactions like the issuance or encashment of checks. In every case, the depositor expects the bank to treat his account with the utmost fidelity, whether such account consists only of a few hundred pesos or of millions. The bank must record every single transaction accurately, down to the last centavo, and as promptly as possible. This has to be done if the account is to reflect at any given time the amount of money the depositor can dispose of as he sees fit, confident that the bank will deliver it as and to whomever he directs. A blunder on the part of the bank, such as the dishonor of a check without good reason, can cause the depositor not a little embarrassment if not also financial loss and perhaps even civil and criminal litigation. The point is that as a business affected with public interest and because of the nature of its functions, the bank is under obligation to treat the accounts of its depositors with meticulous care, always having in mind the fiduciary nature of their relationship. In the case at bar, it is obvious that the respondent bank was remiss in that duty and violated that relationship.

What is especially deplorable is that, having been informed of its error in not crediting the deposit in question to the petitioner, the respondent bank did not immediately correct it but did so only one week later or twenty-three days after the deposit was made. It bears repeating that the record does not contain any satisfactory explanation of why the error was made in the first place and why it was not corrected immediately after its discovery. Such ineptness comes under the concept of the wanton manner contemplated in the Civil Code that calls for the imposition of exemplary damages. After deliberating on this particular matter, the Court, in the exercise of its discretion, hereby imposes upon the respondent bank exemplary damages in the amount of P50,000.00, "by way of example or correction for the public good," in the words of the law. It is expected that this ruling will serve as a warning and deterrent against the repetition of the ineptness and indefference that has been displayed here, lest the confidence of the public in the banking system be further impaired. ACCORDINGLY, the appealed judgment is hereby MODIFIED and the private respondent is ordered to pay the petitioner, in lieu of nominal damages, moral damages in the amount of P20,000.00, and exemplary damages in the amount of P50,000.00 plus the original award of attorney's fees in the amount of P5,000.00, and costs. SO ORDERED.

Bank of the Philippine Islands vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, 206 SCRA 408 (1992)
Republic SUPREME Manila FIRST DIVISION of the Philippines COURT

G.R. No. 69162 February 21, 1992 BANK OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, petitioner, vs. THE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and the SPOUSES ARTHUR CANLAS and VIVIENE CANLAS, respondents. Leonen, Ramirez & Associates for petitioner. L. Emmanuel B. Canilao for private respondents.

GRIO-AQUINO, J.: In a decision dated September 3, 1984, the Intermediate Appellate Court (now Court of Appeals) in AC-G.R. CV No. 69178 entitled, "Arthur A. Canlas, et al., Plaintiff-Appellees vs. Commercial Bank and Trust Company of the Philippines, Defendant-Appellant," reduced to P105,000 the P465,000 damage-award of the trial court to the private respondents for an error of a bank teller which resulted in the dishonor of two small checks which the private respondents had issued against their joint current account. This petition for review of that decision was filed by the Bank. The respondent spouses, Arthur and Vivienne Canlas, opened a joint current account No. 210-520-73 on April 25, 1977 in the Quezon City branch of the Commercial Bank and Trust Company of the Philippines (CBTC) with an initial deposit of P2,250. Prior thereto, Arthur Canlas had an existing separate personal checking account No. 210-442-41 in the same branch.

When the respondent spouses opened their joint current account, the "new accounts" teller of the bank pulled out from the bank's files the old and existing signature card of respondent Arthur Canlas for Current Account No. 210-442-41 for use as I D and reference. By mistake, she placed the old personal account number of Arthur Canlas on the deposit slip for the new joint checking account of the spouses so that the initial deposit of P2,250 for the joint checking account was miscredited to Arthur's personal account (p. 9, Rollo). The spouses subsequently deposited other amounts in their joint account. However, when respondent Vivienne Canlas issued a check for Pl,639.89 in April 1977 and another check for P1,160.00 on June 1, 1977, one of the checks was dishonored by the bank for insufficient funds and a penalty of P20 was deducted from the account in both instances. In view of the overdrawings, the bank tried to call up the spouses at the telephone number which they had given in their application form, but the bank could not contact them because they actually reside in Porac, Pampanga. The city address and telephone number which they gave to the bank belonged to Mrs. Canlas' parents. On December 15, 1977, the private respondents filed a complaint for damages against CBTC in the Court of First Instance of Pampanga (p. 113, Rollo). On February 27, 1978, the bank filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for improper venue. The motion was denied. During the pendency of the case, the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and CBTC were merged. As the surviving corporation under the merger agreement and under Section 80 (5) of the Corporation Code of the Philippines, BPI took over the prosecution and defense of any pending claims, actions or proceedings by and against CBTC. On May 5, 1981, the Regional Trial Court of Pampanga rendered a decision against BPI, the dispositive portion of which reads: WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered defendant to pay the plaintiff the following: 1. P 5,000.00 as actual damages; sentencing

2. P 150,000.00 for plaintiff Arthur Canlas and P150,000.00 for plaintiff Vivienne S. Canlas representing moral damages; 3. P 150.000.00 as exemplary damages; 4. P 10,000.00 as attorney's fees; and 5. Costs. (p. 36, Rollo). On appeal, the Intermediate Appellate Court deleted the actual damages and reduced the other awards. The dispositive portion of its decision reads: WHEREFORE, the judgment appealed from is hereby modified as follows: 1. The award of P50,000.00 in actual damages is herewith deleted. 2. Moral damages of P50,000.00 is awarded to plaintiffsappellees Arthur Canlas and Vivienne S. Canlas, not P50,000.00 each. 3. Exemplary damages is likewise reduced to the sum of P50,000.00 and attorney's fees to P5,000.00. Costs against the defendants appellant. (p. 40, Rollo.) Petitioner filed this petition for review alleging that the appellate court erred in holding that: 1. The venue of the case had been properly laid at Pampanga in the light of private respondents' earlier declaration that Quezon City is their true residence. 2. The petitioner was guilty of gross negligence in the handling of private respondents' bank account. 3. Private respondents are entitled to the moral and exemplary damages and attorney's fees adjudged by the respondent appellate court.

On the question of venue raised by petitioner, it is evident that personal actions may be instituted in the Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of the province where the defendant or any of the defendants resides or may be found, or where the plaintiff or any of the plaintiffs resides, at the election of the plaintiff (Section 2[b], Rule 4 of the Rules of Court). In this case, there was ample proof that the residence of the plaintiffs is B. Sacan, Porac, Pampanga (p. 117, Rollo). The city address of Mrs. Canlas' parents was placed by the private respondents in their application for a joint checking account, at the suggestion of the new accounts teller, presumably to facilitate mailing of the bank statements and communicating with the private respondents in case any problems should arise involving the account. No waiver of their provincial residence for purposes of determining the venue of an action against the bank may be inferred from the so-called "misrepresentation" of their true residence. The appellate court based its award of moral and exemplary damages, and attorney's fees on its finding that the mistake committed by the new accounts teller of the petitioner constituted "serious" negligence (p. 38, Rollo). Said court further stressed that it cannot absolve the petitioner from liability for damages to the private respondents, even on the assumption of an honest mistake on its part, because of the embarrassment that even an honest mistake can cause its depositors (p. 31, Rollo). There is no merit in petitioner's argument that it should not be considered negligent, much less held liable for damages on account of the inadvertence of its bank employee for Article 1173 of the Civil Code only requires it to exercise the diligence of a good father of family. In Simex International (Manila), Inc. vs. Court of Appeals (183 SCRA 360, 367), this Court stressed the fiduciary nature of the relationship between a bank and its depositors and the extent of diligence expected of it in handling the accounts entrusted to its care. In every case, the depositor expects the bank to treat his account with the utmost fidelity, whether such account consists only of a few hundred pesos or of millions. The bank must record every single transaction accurately, down to the last centavo, and as promptly as possible. This has to be done if the account is to reflect at any given time the amount of money the depositor can dispose of as he sees fit, confident that the bank will deliver it as

and to whomever he directs. A blunder on the part of the bank, such as the dishonor of a check without good reason, can cause the depositor not a little embarrassment if not also financial loss and perhaps even civil and criminal litigation. The point is that as a business affected with public interest and because of the nature of its functions, the bank is under obligation to treat the accounts of its depositors with meticulous care, always having in mind the fiduciary nature of their relationship. . . . The bank is not expected to be infallible but, as correctly observed by respondent Appellate Court, in this instance, it must bear the blame for not discovering the mistake of its teller despite the established procedure requiring the papers and bank books to pass through a battery of bank personnel whose duty it is to check and countercheck them for possible errors. Apparently, the officials and employees tasked to do that did not perform their duties with due care, as may be gathered from the testimony of the bank's lone witness, Antonio Enciso, who casually declared that "the approving officer does not have to see the account numbers and all those things. Those are very petty things for the approving manager to look into" (p. 78, Record on Appeal). Unfortunately, it was a "petty thing," like the incorrect account number that the bank teller wrote on the initial deposit slip for the newly-opened joint current account of the Canlas spouses, that sparked this half-a-million-peso damage suit against the bank. While the bank's negligence may not have been attended with malice and bad faith, nevertheless, it caused serious anxiety, embarrassment and humiliation to the private respondents for which they are entitled to recover reasonable moral damages (American Express International, Inc. vs. IAC, 167 SCRA 209). The award of reasonable attorney's fees is proper for the private respondents were compelled to litigate to protect their interest (Art. 2208, Civil Code). However, the absence of malice and bad faith renders the award of exemplary damages improper (Globe Mackay Cable and Radio Corp. vs. Court of Appeals, 176 SCRA 778). WHEREFORE, the petition for review is granted. The appealed decision is MODIFIED by deleting the award of exemplary damages to the private respondents. In all other respects, the decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court, now Court of Appeals, is AFFIRMED. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

Bank of the Philippine Islands vs. Court of Appeals, 326 SCRA 641 (2000)
Republic SUPREME Manila FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. 112392 February 29, 2000 of the Philippines COURT

BANK OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and BENJAMIN C. NAPIZA, respondents. YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: This is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 37392 affirming in toto that of the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 139,2 which dismissed the complaint filed by petitioner Bank of the Philippine Islands against private respondent Benjamin C. Napiza for sum of money. On September 3, 1987, private respondent deposited in Foreign Currency Deposit Unit (FCDU) Savings Account No. 028-1873 which he maintained in petitioner bank's Buendia Avenue Extension Branch, Continental Bank Manager's Check No. 000147574 dated August 17, 1984, payable to "cash" in the amount of Two Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($2,500.00) and duly endorsed by private respondent on its dorsal side.5 It appears that the check belonged to a certain Henry who went to the office of private respondent and requested him to deposit the check in his dollar account by way of accommodation and for the purpose of clearing the same. Private respondent acceded, and agreed to deliver to Chan a signed blank withdrawal slip, with the understanding that as soon as the check is cleared, both of them would go to the bank to withdraw the amount of the check upon private respondent's presentation to the bank of his passbook. Using the blank withdrawal slip given by private respondent to Chan, on October 23, 1984, one Ruben Gayon, Jr. was able to withdraw the amount of $2,541.67 from FCDU Savings Account No. 028-187. Notably, the

withdrawal slip shows that the amount was payable to Ramon A. de Guzman and Agnes C. de Guzman and was duly initialed by the branch assistant manager, Teresita Lindo.6 On November 20, 1984, petitioner received communication from the Wells Fargo Bank International of New York that the said check deposited by private respondent was a counterfeit check7 because it was "not of the type or style of checks issued by Continental Bank International."8 Consequently, Mr. Ariel Reyes, the manager of petitioner's Buendia Avenue Extension Branch, instructed one of its employees, Benjamin D. Napiza IV, who is private respondent's son, to inform his father that the check bounced.9 Reyes himself sent a telegram to private respondent regarding the dishonor of the check. In turn, private respondent's son wrote to Reyes stating that the check been assigned "for encashment" to Ramon A. de Guzman and/or Agnes C. de Guzman after it shall have been cleared upon instruction of Chan. He also said that upon learning of the dishonor of the check, his father immediately tried to contact Chan but the latter was out of town.10 Private respondent's son undertook to return the amount of $2,500.00 to petitioner bank. On December 18, 1984, Reyes reminded private respondent of his son's promise and warned that should he fail to return that amount within seven (7) days, the matter would be referred to the bank's lawyers for appropriate action to protect the bank's interest.11 This was followed by a letter of the bank's lawyer dated April 8, 1985 demanding the return of the $2,500.00.12 In reply, private respondent wrote petitioner's counsel on April 20, 198513 stating that he deposited the check "for clearing purposes" only to accommodate Chan. He added: Further, please take notice that said check was deposited on September 3, 1984 and withdrawn on October 23, 1984, or a total period of fifty (50) days had elapsed at the time of withdrawal. Also, it may not be amiss to mention here that I merely signed an authority to withdraw said deposit subject to its clearing, the reason why the transaction is not reflected in the passbook of the account. Besides, I did not receive its proceeds as may be gleaned from the withdrawal slip under the captioned signature of recipient.1wphi1.nt

If at all, my obligation on the transaction is moral in nature, which (sic) I have been and is (sic) still exerting utmost and maximum efforts to collect from Mr. Henry Chan who is directly liable under the circumstances. xxx xxx xxx

On August 12, 1986, petitioner filed a complaint against private respondent, praying for the return of the amount of $2,500.00 or the prevailing peso equivalent plus legal interest from date of demand to date of full payment, a sum equivalent to 20% of the total amount due as attorney's fees, and litigation and/or costs of suit. Private respondent filed his answer, admitting that he indeed signed a "blank" withdrawal slip with the understanding that the amount deposited would be withdrawn only after the check in question has been cleared. He likewise alleged that he instructed the party to whom he issued the signed blank withdrawal slip to return it to him after the bank draft's clearance so that he could lend that party his passbook for the purpose of withdrawing the amount of $2,500.00. However, without his knowledge, said party was able to withdraw the amount of $2,541.67 from his dollar savings account through collusion with one of petitioner's employees. Private respondent added that he had "given the Plaintiff fifty one (51) days with which to clear the bank draft in question." Petitioner should have disallowed the withdrawal because his passbook was not presented. He claimed that petitioner had no one to blame except itself "for being grossly negligent;" in fact, it had allegedly admitted having paid the amount in the check "by mistake" . . . "if not altogether due to collusion and/or bad faith on the part of (its) employees." Charging petitioner with "apparent ignorance of routine bank procedures," by way of counterclaim, private respondent prayed for moral damages of P100,000.00, exemplary damages of P50,000.00 and attorney's fees of 30% of whatever amount that would be awarded to him plus an honorarium of P500.00 per appearance in court. Private respondent also filed a motion for admission of a third party complaint against Chan. He alleged that "thru strategem and/or manipulation," Chan was able to withdraw the amount of $2,500.00 even without private respondent's passbook. Thus, private respondent prayed that third party defendant Chan be made to refund to him the amount

withdrawn and to pay attorney's fees of P5,000.00 plus P300.00 honorarium per appearance. Petitioner filed a comment on the motion for leave of court to admit the third party complaint, whenever it asserted that per paragraph 2 of the Rules and Regulations governing BPI savings accounts, private respondent alone was liable "for the value of the credit given on account of the draft or check deposited." It contended that private respondent was estopped from disclaiming liability because he himself authorized the withdrawal of the amount by signing the withdrawal slip. Petitioner prayed for the denial of the said motion so as not to unduly delay the disposition of the main case asserting that private respondent's claim could be ventilated in another case. Private respondent replied that for the parties to obtain complete relief and to avoid multiplicity of suits, the motion to admit third party complaint should be granted. Meanwhile, the trial court issued orders on August 25, 1987 and October 28, 1987 directing private respondent to actively participate in locating Chan. After private respondent failed to comply, the trial court, on May 18, 1988, dismissed the third party complaint without prejudice. On November 4, 1991, a decision was rendered dismissing the complaint. The lower court held that petitioner could not hold private respondent liable based on the check's face value alone. To so hold him liable "would render inutile the requirement of "clearance" from the drawee bank before the value of a particular foreign check or draft can be credited to the account of a depositor making such deposit." The lower court further held that "it was incumbent upon the petitioner to credit the value of the check in question to the account of the private respondent only upon receipt of the notice of final payment and should not have authorized the withdrawal from the latter's account of the value or proceeds of the check." Having admitted that it committed a "mistake" in not waiting for the clearance of the check before authorizing the withdrawal of its value or proceeds, petitioner should suffer the resultant loss. On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court's decision. The appellate court held that petitioner committed "clears gross negligence" in allowing Ruben Gayon, Jr. to withdraw the money without presenting private respondent's passbook and, before the check was cleared and in crediting the amount indicated therein in private respondent's account. It stressed

that the mere deposit of a check in private respondent's account did not mean that the check was already private respondent's property. The check still had to be cleared and its proceeds can only be withdrawn upon presentation of a passbook in accordance with the bank's rules and regulations. Furthermore, petitioner's contention that private respondent warranted the check's genuineness by endorsing it is untenable for it would render useless the clearance requirement. Likewise, the requirement of presentation of a passbook to ascertain the propriety of the accounting reflected would be a meaningless exercise. After all, these requirements are designed to protect the bank from deception or fraud. The Court of Appeals cited the case of Roman Catholic Bishop of Malolos, Inc. v. IAC,14 where this Court stated that a personal check is not legal tender or money, and held that the check deposited in this case must be cleared before its value could be properly transferred to private respondent's account. Without filing a motion for the reconsideration of the Court of Appeals' Decision, petitioner filed this petition for review on certiorari, raising the following issues: 1. WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENT NAPIZA IS LIABLE UNDER HIS WARRANTIES AS A GENERAL INDORSER. 2. WHETHER OR NOT A CONTRACT OF AGENCY WAS CREATED BETWEEN RESPONDENT NAPIZA AND RUBEN GAYON. 3. WHETHER OR NOT PETITIONER WAS GROSSLY NEGLIGENT IN ALLOWING THE WITHDRAWAL. Petitioner claims that private respondent, having affixed his signature at the dorsal side of the check, should be liable for the amount stated therein in accordance with the following provision of the Negotiable Instruments Law (Act No. 2031): Sec. 66. Liability of general indorser. Every indorser who indorses without qualification, warrants to all subsequent holders in due course (a) The matters and things mentioned in subdivisions (a), (b), and (c) of the next preceding section; and

(b) That the instrument is at the time of his indorsement, valid and subsisting. And, in addition, he engages that on due presentment, it shall be accepted or paid, or both, as the case may be, according to its tenor, and that if it be dishonored, and the necessary proceedings on dishonor be duly taken, he will pay the amount thereof to the holder, or to any subsequent indorser who may be compelled to pay it. Sec. 65, on the other hand, provides for the following warranties of a person negotiating an instrument by delivery or by qualified indorsement: (a) that the instrument is genuine and in all respects what it purports to be; (b) that he has a good title to it, and (c) that all prior parties had capacity to contract.15 In People v. Maniego,16 this Court described the liabilities of an indorser as follows: Appellant's contention that as mere indorser, she may not be liable on account of the dishonor of the checks indorsed by her, is likewise untenable. Under the law, the holder or last indorsee of a negotiable instrument has the right "to enforce payment of the instrument for the full amount thereof against all parties liable thereon. Among the "parties liable thereon." Is an indorser of the instrument, i.e., "a person placing his signature upon an instrument otherwise than as a maker, drawer or acceptor * * unless he clearly indicated by appropriate words his intention to be bound in some other capacity." Such an indorser "who indorses without qualification," inter alia "engages that on due presentment, * * (the instrument) shall be accepted or paid, or both, as the case may be, according to its tenor, and that if it be dishonored, and the necessary proceedings on dishonor be duly taken, he will pay the amount thereof to the holder, or any subsequent indorser who may be compelled to pay it." Maniego may also be deemed an "accommodation party" in the light of the facts, i.e., a person "who has signed the instrument as maker, drawer, acceptor, or indorser, without receiving value thereof, and for the purpose of lending his name to some other person." As such, she is under the law "liable on the instrument to a holder for value, notwithstanding such holder at the time of taking the instrument knew * * (her) to be only an accommodation party," although she has the right, after paying the holder, to obtain reimbursement from the party accommodated, "since

the relation between them is in effect that of principal and surety, the accommodation party being the surety. It is thus clear that ordinarily private respondent may be held liable as an indorser of the check or even as an accommodation party.17 However, to hold private respondent liable for the amount of the check he deposited by the strict application of the law and without considering the attending circumstances in the case would result in an injustice and in the erosion of the public trust in the banking system. The interest of justice thus demands looking into the events that led to the encashment of the check. Petitioner asserts that by signing the withdrawal slip, private respondent "presented the opportunity for the withdrawal of the amount in question." Petitioner relied "on the genuine signature on the withdrawal slip, the personality of private respondent's son and the lapse of more than fifty (50) days from date of deposit of the Continental Bank draft, without the same being returned yet."18 We hold, however, that the propriety of the withdrawal should be gauged by compliance with the rules thereon that both petitioner bank and its depositors are duty-bound to observe. In the passbook that petitioner issued to private respondent, the following rules on withdrawal of deposits appear: 4. Withdrawals must be made by the depositor personally but in some exceptional circumstances, the Bank may allow withdrawal by another upon the depositor's written authority duly authenticated; and neither a deposit nor a withdrawal will be permitted except upon the presentation of the depositor's savings passbook, in which the amount deposited withdrawn shall be entered only by the Bank. 5. Withdrawals may be made by draft, mail or telegraphic transfer in currency of the account at the request of the depositor in writing on the withdrawal slip or by authenticated cable. Such request must indicate the name of the payee/s, amount and the place where the funds are to be paid. Any stamp, transmission and other charges related to such withdrawals shall be for the account of the depositor and shall be paid by him/her upon demand. Withdrawals may also be made in the form of travellers checks and in pesos. Withdrawals in the form of notes/bills are allowed subject however, to their (availability).

6. Deposits shall not be subject to withdrawal by check, and may be withdrawal only in the manner above provided, upon presentation of the depositor's savings passbook and with the withdrawal form supplied by the Bank at the counter.19 Under these rules, to be able to withdraw from the savings account deposit under the Philippine foreign currency deposit system, two requisites must be presented to petitioner bank by the person withdrawing an amount: (a) a duly filled-up withdrawal slip, and (b) the depositor's passbook. Private respondent admits he signed a blank withdrawal slip ostensibly in violation of Rule No. 6 requiring that the request for withdrawal must name the payee, the amount to be withdrawn and the place where such withdrawal should be made. That the withdrawal slip was in fact a blank one with only private respondent's two signatures affixed on the proper spaces is buttressed by petitioner's allegation in the instant petition that had private respondent indicated therein the person authorized to receive the money, then Ruben Gayon, Jr. could not have withdrawn any amount. Petitioner contends that "(I)n failing to do so (i.e., naming his authorized agent), he practically authorized any possessor thereof to write any amount and to collect the same."20 Such contention would have been valid if not for the fact that the withdrawal slip itself indicates a special instruction that the amount is payable to "Ramon A. de Guzman &/or Agnes C. de Guzman." Such being the case, petitioner's personnel should have been duly warned that Gayon, who was also employed in petitioner's Buendia Ave. Extension branch,21 was not the proper payee of the proceeds of the check. Otherwise, either Ramon or Agnes de Guzman should have issued another authority to Gayon for such withdrawal. Of course, at the dorsal side of the withdrawal slip is an "authority to withdraw" naming Gayon the person who can withdraw the amount indicated in the check. Private respondent does not deny having signed such authority. However, considering petitioner's clear admission that the withdrawal slip was a blank one except for private respondent's signature, the unavoidable conclusion is that the typewritten name of "Ruben C. Gayon, Jr." was intercalated and thereafter it was signed by Gayon or whoever was allowed by petitioner to withdraw the amount. Under these facts, there could not have been a principal-agent relationship between private respondent and Gayon so as to render the former liable for the amount withdrawn.

Moreover, the withdrawal slip contains a boxed warning that states: "This receipt must be signed and presented with the corresponding foreign currency savings passbook by the depositor in person. For withdrawals thru a representative, depositor should accomplish the authority at the back." The requirement of presentation of the passbook when withdrawing an amount cannot be given mere lip service even though the person making the withdrawal is authorized by the depositor to do so. This is clear from Rule No. 6 set out by petitioner so that, for the protection of the bank's interest and as a reminder to the depositor, the withdrawal shall be entered in the depositor's passbook. The fact that private respondent's passbook was not presented during the withdrawal is evidenced by the entries therein showing that the last transaction that he made with the bank was on September 3, 1984, the date he deposited the controversial check in the amount of $2,500.00.22 In allowing the withdrawal, petitioner likewise overlooked another rule that is printed in the passbook. Thus: 2. All deposits will be received as current funds and will be repaid in the same manner; provided, however, that deposits of drafts, checks, money orders, etc. will be accented as subject to collection only and credited to the account only upon receipt of the notice of final payment. Collection charges by the Bank's foreign correspondent in effecting such collection shall be for the account of the depositor. If the account has sufficient balance, the collection shall be debited by the Bank against the account. If, for any reason, the proceeds of the deposited checks, drafts, money orders, etc., cannot be collected or if the Bank is required to return such proceeds, the provisional entry therefor made by the Bank in the savings passbook and its records shall be deemed automatically cancelled regardless of the time that has elapsed, and whether or not the defective items can be returned to the depositor; and the Bank is hereby authorized to execute immediately the necessary corrections, amendments or changes in its record, as well as on the savings passbook at the first opportunity to reflect such cancellation. (Emphasis and underlining supplied.) As correctly held by the Court of Appeals, in depositing the check in his name, private respondent did not become the outright owner of the amount stated therein. Under the above rule, by depositing the check with petitioner,

private respondent was, in a way, merely designating petitioner as the collecting bank. This is in consonance with the rule that a negotiable instrument, such as a check, whether a manager's check or ordinary check, is not legal tender.23 As such, after receiving the deposit, under its own rules, petitioner shall credit the amount in private respondent's account or infuse value thereon only after the drawee bank shall have paid the amount of the check or the check has been cleared for deposit. Again, this is in accordance with ordinary banking practices and with this Court's pronouncement that "the collecting bank or last endorser generally suffers the loss because has the duty to ascertain the genuineness of all prior endorsements considering that the act of presenting the check for payment to the drawee is an assertion that the party making the presentment has done its duty to ascertain the genuineness of the endorsements."24 The rule finds more meaning in this case where the check involved is drawn on a foreign bank and therefore collection is more difficult than when the drawee bank is a local one even though the check in question is a manager's check.25 In Banco Atlantico v. Auditor General,26 Banco Atlantico, a commercial bank in Madrid, Spain, paid the amounts represented in three (3) checks to Virginia Boncan, the finance officer of the Philippine Embassy in Madrid. The bank did so without previously clearing the checks with the drawee bank, the Philippine National Bank in New York, on account of the "special treatment" that Boncan received from the personnel of Banco Atlantico's foreign department. The Court held that the encashment of the checks without prior clearance is "contrary to normal or ordinary banking practice specially so where the drawee bank is a foreign bank and the amounts involved were large." Accordingly, the Court approved the Auditor General's denial of Banco Atlantico's claim for payment of the value of the checks that was withdrawn by Boncan. Said ruling brings to light the fact that the banking business is affected with public interest. By the nature of its functions, a bank is under obligation to treat the accounts of its depositors "with meticulous care, always having in mind the fiduciary nature of their relationship."27 As such, in dealing with its depositors, a bank should exercise its functions not only with the diligence of a good father of a family but it should do so with the highest degree of care.28

In the case at bar, petitioner, in allowing the withdrawal of private respondent's deposit, failed to exercise the diligence of a good father of a family. In total disregard of its own rules, petitioner's personnel negligently handled private respondent's account to petitioner's detriment. As this Court once said on this matter: Negligence is the omission to do something which a reasonable man, guided by those considerations which ordinarily regulate the conduct of human affairs, would do, or the doing of something which a prudent and reasonable man would do. The seventy-eight (78)-year-old, yet still relevant, case of Picart v. Smith, provides that test by which to determine the existence of negligence in a particular case which may be stated as follows: Did the defendant in doing the alleged negligent act use that reasonable care and caution which an ordinarily prudent person would have used in the same situation? If not, then he is guilty of negligence. The law here in effect adopts the standard supposed to be supplied by the imaginary conduct of the discreet pater-familias of the Roman law. The existence of negligence in a given case is not determined by reference to the personal judgment of the actor in the situation before him. The law considers what would be reckless, blameworthy, or negligent in the man of ordinary intelligence and prudence and determines liability by that.29 Petitioner violated its own rules by allowing the withdrawal of an amount that is definitely over and above the aggregate amount of private respondent's dollar deposits that had yet to be cleared. The bank's ledger on private respondent's account shows that before he deposited $2,500.00, private respondent had a balance of only $750.00.30 Upon private respondent's deposit of $2,500.00 on September 3, 1984, that amount was credited in his ledger as a deposit resulting in the corresponding total balance of $3,250.00.31 On September 10, 1984, the amount of $600.00 and the additional charges of $10.00 were indicated therein as withdrawn thereby leaving a balance $2,640.00. On September 30, 1984, an interest of $11.59 was reflected in the ledger and on October 23, 1984, the amount of $2,541.67 was entered as withdrawn with a balance of $109.92.32 On November 19, 1984 the word "hold" was written beside the balance of $109.92.33 That must have been the time when Reyes, petitioner's branch manager, was informed unofficially of the fact that the check deposited was a counterfeit, but petitioner's Buendia Ave. Extension Branch received a

copy of the communication thereon from Wells Fargo Bank International in New York the following day, November 20, 1984.34 According to Reyes, Wells Fargo Bank International handled the clearing of checks drawn against U.S. banks that were deposited with petitioner.35 From these facts on record, it is at once apparent that petitioner's personnel allowed the withdrawal of an amount bigger than the original deposit of $750.00 and the value of the check deposited in the amount of $2,500.00 although they had not yet received notice from the clearing bank in the United States on whether or not the check was funded. Reyes' contention that after the lapse of the 35-day period the amount of a deposited check could be withdrawn even in the absence of a clearance thereon, otherwise it could take a long time before a depositor could make a withdrawal,36 is untenable. Said practice amounts to a disregard of the clearance requirement of the banking system. While it is true that private respondent's having signed a blank withdrawal slip set in motion the events that resulted in the withdrawal and encashment of the counterfeit check, the negligence of petitioner's personnel was the proximate cause of the loss that petitioner sustained. Proximate cause, which is determined by a mixed consideration of logic, common sense, policy and precedent, is "that cause, which, in natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by any efficient intervening cause, produces the injury, and without which the result would not have occurred."37 The proximate cause of the withdrawal and eventual loss of the amount of $2,500.00 on petitioner's part was its personnel's negligence in allowing such withdrawal in disregard of its own rules and the clearing requirement in the banking system. In so doing, petitioner assumed the risk of incurring a loss on account of a forged or counterfeit foreign check and hence, it should suffer the resulting damage.1wphi1.nt WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 37392 is AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED.

Consolidated Bank and Trust Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, 410 SCRA 562 (2003)
Republic SUPREME Manila FIRST DIVISION [G.R. No. 138569. September 11, 2003] THE CONSOLIDATED BANK and TRUST CORPORATION, Petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and L.C. DIAZ and COMPANY, CPAs, Respondents. DECISION CARPIO, J.: The Case Before us is a petition for review of the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals dated 27 October 1998 and its Resolution dated 11 May 1999. The assailed decision reversed the Decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 8, absolving petitioner Consolidated Bank and Trust Corporation, now known as Solidbank Corporation (Solidbank), of any liability. The questioned resolution of the appellate court denied the motion for reconsideration of Solidbank but modified the decision by deleting the award of exemplary damages, attorneys fees, expenses of litigation and cost of suit. The Facts Solidbank is a domestic banking corporation organized and existing under Philippine laws. Private respondent L.C. Diaz and Company, CPAs (L.C. Diaz), is a professional partnership engaged in the practice of accounting. Sometime in March 1976, L.C. Diaz opened a savings account with Solidbank, designated as Savings Account No. S/A 200-16872-6. On 14 August 1991, L.C. Diaz through its cashier, Mercedes Macaraya (Macaraya), filled up a savings (cash) deposit slip for P990 and a savings of the Philipppines COURT

(checks) deposit slip for P50. Macaraya instructed the messenger of L.C. Diaz, Ismael Calapre (Calapre), to deposit the money with Solidbank. Macaraya also gave Calapre the Solidbank passbook. Calapre went to Solidbank and presented to Teller No. 6 the two deposit slips and the passbook. The teller acknowledged receipt of the deposit by returning to Calapre the duplicate copies of the two deposit slips. Teller No. 6 stamped the deposit slips with the words DUPLICATE and SAVING TELLER 6 SOLIDBANK HEAD OFFICE. Since the transaction took time and Calapre had to make another deposit for L.C. Diaz with Allied Bank, he left the passbook with Solidbank. Calapre then went to Allied Bank. When Calapre returned to Solidbank to retrieve the passbook, Teller No. 6 informed him that somebody got the passbook.[3] Calapre went back to L.C. Diaz and reported the incident to Macaraya. Macaraya immediately prepared a deposit slip in duplicate copies with a check of P200,000. Macaraya, together with Calapre, went to Solidbank and presented to Teller No. 6 the deposit slip and check. The teller stamped the words DUPLICATE and SAVING TELLER 6 SOLIDBANK HEAD OFFICE on the duplicate copy of the deposit slip. When Macaraya asked for the passbook, Teller No. 6 told Macaraya that someone got the passbook but she could not remember to whom she gave the passbook. When Macaraya asked Teller No. 6 if Calapre got the passbook, Teller No. 6 answered that someone shorter than Calapre got the passbook. Calapre was then standing beside Macaraya. Teller No. 6 handed to Macaraya a deposit slip dated 14 August 1991 for the deposit of a check for P90,000 drawn on Philippine Banking Corporation (PBC). This PBC check of L.C. Diaz was a check that it had long closed.[4] PBC subsequently dishonored the check because of insufficient funds and because the signature in the check differed from PBCs specimen signature. Failing to get back the passbook, Macaraya went back to her office and reported the matter to the Personnel Manager of L.C. Diaz, Emmanuel Alvarez. The following day, 15 August 1991, L.C. Diaz through its Chief Executive Officer, Luis C. Diaz (Diaz), called up Solidbank to stop any transaction using the same passbook until L.C. Diaz could open a new account.[5] On the same day, Diaz formally wrote Solidbank to make the same request. It was also on the same day that L.C. Diaz learned of the unauthorized

withdrawal the day before, 14 August 1991, of P300,000 from its savings account. The withdrawal slip for the P300,000 bore the signatures of the authorized signatories of L.C. Diaz, namely Diaz and Rustico L. Murillo. The signatories, however, denied signing the withdrawal slip. A certain Noel Tamayo received the P300,000. In an Information[6] dated 5 September 1991, L.C. Diaz charged its messenger, Emerano Ilagan (Ilagan) and one Roscon Verdazola with Estafa through Falsification of Commercial Document. The Regional Trial Court of Manila dismissed the criminal case after the City Prosecutor filed a Motion to Dismiss on 4 August 1992. On 24 August 1992, L.C. Diaz through its counsel demanded from Solidbank the return of its money. Solidbank refused. On 25 August 1992, L.C. Diaz filed a Complaint[7] for Recovery of a Sum of Money against Solidbank with the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 8. After trial, the trial court rendered on 28 December 1994 a decision absolving Solidbank and dismissing the complaint. L.C. Diaz then appealed[8] to the Court of Appeals. On 27 October 1998, the Court of Appeals issued its Decision reversing the decision of the trial court. On 11 May 1999, the Court of Appeals issued its Resolution denying the motion for reconsideration of Solidbank. The appellate court, however, modified its decision by deleting the award of exemplary damages and attorneys fees. The Ruling of the Trial Court In absolving Solidbank, the trial court applied the rules on savings account written on the passbook. The rules state that possession of this book shall raise the presumption of ownership and any payment or payments made by the bank upon the production of the said book and entry therein of the withdrawal shall have the same effect as if made to the depositor personally.[9] At the time of the withdrawal, a certain Noel Tamayo was not only in possession of the passbook, he also presented a withdrawal slip with the signatures of the authorized signatories of L.C. Diaz. The specimen

signatures of these persons were in the signature cards. The teller stamped the withdrawal slip with the words Saving Teller No. 5. The teller then passed on the withdrawal slip to Genere Manuel (Manuel) for authentication. Manuel verified the signatures on the withdrawal slip. The withdrawal slip was then given to another officer who compared the signatures on the withdrawal slip with the specimen on the signature cards. The trial court concluded that Solidbank acted with care and observed the rules on savings account when it allowed the withdrawal of P300,000 from the savings account of L.C. Diaz. The trial court pointed out that the burden of proof now shifted to L.C. Diaz to prove that the signatures on the withdrawal slip were forged. The trial court admonished L.C. Diaz for not offering in evidence the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) report on the authenticity of the signatures on the withdrawal slip for P300,000. The trial court believed that L.C. Diaz did not offer this evidence because it is derogatory to its action. Another provision of the rules on savings account states that the depositor must keep the passbook under lock and key.[10] When another person presents the passbook for withdrawal prior to Solidbanks receipt of the notice of loss of the passbook, that person is considered as the owner of the passbook. The trial court ruled that the passbook presented during the questioned transaction was now out of the lock and key and presumptively ready for a business transaction.[11] Solidbank did not have any participation in the custody and care of the passbook. The trial court believed that Solidbanks act of allowing the withdrawal of P300,000 was not the direct and proximate cause of the loss. The trial court held that L.C. Diazs negligence caused the unauthorized withdrawal. Three facts establish L.C. Diazs negligence: (1) the possession of the passbook by a person other than the depositor L.C. Diaz; (2) the presentation of a signed withdrawal receipt by an unauthorized person; and (3) the possession by an unauthorized person of a PBC check long closed by L.C. Diaz, which check was deposited on the day of the fraudulent withdrawal. The trial court debunked L.C. Diazs contention that Solidbank did not follow the precautionary procedures observed by the two parties whenever L.C. Diaz withdrew significant amounts from its account. L.C. Diaz claimed that a letter must accompany withdrawals of more than P20,000. The letter must

request Solidbank to allow the withdrawal and convert the amount to a managers check. The bearer must also have a letter authorizing him to withdraw the same amount. Another person driving a car must accompany the bearer so that he would not walk from Solidbank to the office in making the withdrawal. The trial court pointed out that L.C. Diaz disregarded these precautions in its past withdrawal. On 16 July 1991, L.C. Diaz withdrew P82,554 without any separate letter of authorization or any communication with Solidbank that the money be converted into a managers check. The trial court further justified the dismissal of the complaint by holding that the case was a last ditch effort of L.C. Diaz to recover P300,000 after the dismissal of the criminal case against Ilagan. The dispositive portion of the decision of the trial court reads: IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, judgment is hereby rendered DISMISSING the complaint. The Court further renders judgment in favor of defendant bank pursuant to its counterclaim the amount of Thirty Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00) as attorneys fees. With costs against plaintiff. SO ORDERED.[12] The Ruling of the Court of Appeals The Court of Appeals ruled that Solidbanks negligence was the proximate cause of the unauthorized withdrawal of P300,000 from the savings account of L.C. Diaz. The appellate court reached this conclusion after applying the provision of the Civil Code on quasi-delict, to wit: Article 2176. Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault or negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault or negligence, if there is no pre-existing contractual relation between the parties, is called a quasi-delict and is governed by the provisions of this chapter. The appellate court held that the three elements of a quasi-delict are present in this case, namely: (a) damages suffered by the plaintiff; (b) fault

or negligence of the defendant, or some other person for whose acts he must respond; and (c) the connection of cause and effect between the fault or negligence of the defendant and the damage incurred by the plaintiff. The Court of Appeals pointed out that the teller of Solidbank who received the withdrawal slip for P300,000 allowed the withdrawal without making the necessary inquiry. The appellate court stated that the teller, who was not presented by Solidbank during trial, should have called up the depositor because the money to be withdrawn was a significant amount. Had the teller called up L.C. Diaz, Solidbank would have known that the withdrawal was unauthorized. The teller did not even verify the identity of the impostor who made the withdrawal. Thus, the appellate court found Solidbank liable for its negligence in the selection and supervision of its employees. The appellate court ruled that while L.C. Diaz was also negligent in entrusting its deposits to its messenger and its messenger in leaving the passbook with the teller, Solidbank could not escape liability because of the doctrine of last clear chance. Solidbank could have averted the injury suffered by L.C. Diaz had it called up L.C. Diaz to verify the withdrawal. The appellate court ruled that the degree of diligence required from Solidbank is more than that of a good father of a family. The business and functions of banks are affected with public interest. Banks are obligated to treat the accounts of their depositors with meticulous care, always having in mind the fiduciary nature of their relationship with their clients. The Court of Appeals found Solidbank remiss in its duty, violating its fiduciary relationship with L.C. Diaz. The dispositive portion of the decision of the Court of Appeals reads: WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision appealed from is hereby REVERSED and a new one entered. 1. Ordering defendant-appellee Consolidated Bank and Trust Corporation to pay plaintiff-appellant the sum of Three Hundred Thousand Pesos (P300,000.00), with interest thereon at the rate of 12% per annum from the date of filing of the complaint until paid, the sum of P20,000.00 as exemplary damages, and P20,000.00 as attorneys fees and expenses of litigation as well as the cost of suit; and

2. Ordering the dismissal of defendant-appellees counterclaim in the amount of P30,000.00 as attorneys fees. SO ORDERED.[13] Acting on the motion for reconsideration of Solidbank, the appellate court affirmed its decision but modified the award of damages. The appellate court deleted the award of exemplary damages and attorneys fees. Invoking Article 2231[14] of the Civil Code, the appellate court ruled that exemplary damages could be granted if the defendant acted with gross negligence. Since Solidbank was guilty of simple negligence only, the award of exemplary damages was not justified. Consequently, the award of attorneys fees was also disallowed pursuant to Article 2208 of the Civil Code. The expenses of litigation and cost of suit were also not imposed on Solidbank. The dispositive portion of the Resolution reads as follows: WHEREFORE, foregoing considered, our decision dated October 27, 1998 is affirmed with modification by deleting the award of exemplary damages and attorneys fees, expenses of litigation and cost of suit. SO ORDERED.[15] Hence, this petition. The Issues Solidbank seeks the review of the decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals on these grounds: I. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT PETITIONER BANK SHOULD SUFFER THE LOSS BECAUSE ITS TELLER SHOULD HAVE FIRST CALLED PRIVATE RESPONDENT BY TELEPHONE BEFORE IT ALLOWED THE WITHDRAWAL OF P300,000.00 TO RESPONDENTS MESSENGER EMERANO ILAGAN, SINCE THERE IS NO AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE PARTIES IN THE OPERATION OF THE SAVINGS ACCOUNT, NOR IS THERE ANY BANKING LAW, WHICH MANDATES THAT A BANK TELLER SHOULD FIRST CALL UP THE DEPOSITOR BEFORE ALLOWING A WITHDRAWAL OF A BIG AMOUNT IN A SAVINGS ACCOUNT.

II. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN APPLYING THE DOCTRINE OF LAST CLEAR CHANCE AND IN HOLDING THAT PETITIONER BANKS TELLER HAD THE LAST OPPORTUNITY TO WITHHOLD THE WITHDRAWAL WHEN IT IS UNDISPUTED THAT THE TWO SIGNATURES OF RESPONDENT ON THE WITHDRAWAL SLIP ARE GENUINE AND PRIVATE RESPONDENTS PASSBOOK WAS DULY PRESENTED, AND CONTRARIWISE RESPONDENT WAS NEGLIGENT IN THE SELECTION AND SUPERVISION OF ITS MESSENGER EMERANO ILAGAN, AND IN THE SAFEKEEPING OF ITS CHECKS AND OTHER FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS. III. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE INSTANT CASE IS A LAST DITCH EFFORT OF PRIVATE RESPONDENT TO RECOVER ITS P300,000.00 AFTER FAILING IN ITS EFFORTS TO RECOVER THE SAME FROM ITS EMPLOYEE EMERANO ILAGAN. IV. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT MITIGATING THE DAMAGES AWARDED AGAINST PETITIONER UNDER ARTICLE 2197 OF THE CIVIL CODE, NOTWITHSTANDING ITS FINDING THAT PETITIONER BANKS NEGLIGENCE WAS ONLY CONTRIBUTORY.[16] The Ruling of the Court The petition is partly meritorious. Solidbanks Fiduciary Duty under the Law The rulings of the trial court and the Court of Appeals conflict on the application of the law. The trial court pinned the liability on L.C. Diaz based on the provisions of the rules on savings account, a recognition of the contractual relationship between Solidbank and L.C. Diaz, the latter being a depositor of the former. On the other hand, the Court of Appeals applied the law on quasi-delict to determine who between the two parties was ultimately negligent. The law on quasi-delict or culpa aquiliana is generally applicable when there is no pre-existing contractual relationship between the parties.

We hold that Solidbank is liable for breach of contract due to negligence, or culpa contractual. The contract between the bank and its depositor is governed by the provisions of the Civil Code on simple loan.[17] Article 1980 of the Civil Code expressly provides that x x x savings x x x deposits of money in banks and similar institutions shall be governed by the provisions concerning simple loan. There is a debtor-creditor relationship between the bank and its depositor. The bank is the debtor and the depositor is the creditor. The depositor lends the bank money and the bank agrees to pay the depositor on demand. The savings deposit agreement between the bank and the depositor is the contract that determines the rights and obligations of the parties. The law imposes on banks high standards in view of the fiduciary nature of banking. Section 2 of Republic Act No. 8791 (RA 8791),[18] which took effect on 13 June 2000, declares that the State recognizes the fiduciary nature of banking that requires high standards of integrity and performance.[19] This new provision in the general banking law, introduced in 2000, is a statutory affirmation of Supreme Court decisions, starting with the 1990 case of Simex International v. Court of Appeals,[20] holding that the bank is under obligation to treat the accounts of its depositors with meticulous care, always having in mind the fiduciary nature of their relationship.[21] This fiduciary relationship means that the banks obligation to observe high standards of integrity and performance is deemed written into every deposit agreement between a bank and its depositor. The fiduciary nature of banking requires banks to assume a degree of diligence higher than that of a good father of a family. Article 1172 of the Civil Code states that the degree of diligence required of an obligor is that prescribed by law or contract, and absent such stipulation then the diligence of a good father of a family.[22] Section 2 of RA 8791 prescribes the statutory diligence required from banks that banks must observe high standards of integrity and performance in servicing their depositors. Although RA 8791 took effect almost nine years after the unauthorized withdrawal of the P300,000 from L.C. Diazs savings account, jurisprudence[23] at the time of the withdrawal already imposed on banks the same high standard of diligence required under RA No. 8791.

However, the fiduciary nature of a bank-depositor relationship does not convert the contract between the bank and its depositors from a simple loan to a trust agreement, whether express or implied. Failure by the bank to pay the depositor is failure to pay a simple loan, and not a breach of trust.[24] The law simply imposes on the bank a higher standard of integrity and performance in complying with its obligations under the contract of simple loan, beyond those required of non-bank debtors under a similar contract of simple loan. The fiduciary nature of banking does not convert a simple loan into a trust agreement because banks do not accept deposits to enrich depositors but to earn money for themselves. The law allows banks to offer the lowest possible interest rate to depositors while charging the highest possible interest rate on their own borrowers. The interest spread or differential belongs to the bank and not to the depositors who are not cestui que trust of banks. If depositors are cestui que trust of banks, then the interest spread or income belongs to the depositors, a situation that Congress certainly did not intend in enacting Section 2 of RA 8791. Solidbanks Breach of its Contractual Obligation Article 1172 of the Civil Code provides that responsibility arising from negligence in the performance of every kind of obligation is demandable. For breach of the savings deposit agreement due to negligence, or culpa contractual, the bank is liable to its depositor. Calapre left the passbook with Solidbank because the transaction took time and he had to go to Allied Bank for another transaction. The passbook was still in the hands of the employees of Solidbank for the processing of the deposit when Calapre left Solidbank. Solidbanks rules on savings account require that the deposit book should be carefully guarded by the depositor and kept under lock and key, if possible. When the passbook is in the possession of Solidbanks tellers during withdrawals, the law imposes on Solidbank and its tellers an even higher degree of diligence in safeguarding the passbook. Likewise, Solidbanks tellers must exercise a high degree of diligence in insuring that they return the passbook only to the depositor or his authorized representative. The tellers know, or should know, that the rules on savings account provide that any person in possession of the passbook is

presumptively its owner. If the tellers give the passbook to the wrong person, they would be clothing that person presumptive ownership of the passbook, facilitating unauthorized withdrawals by that person. For failing to return the passbook to Calapre, the authorized representative of L.C. Diaz, Solidbank and Teller No. 6 presumptively failed to observe such high degree of diligence in safeguarding the passbook, and in insuring its return to the party authorized to receive the same. In culpa contractual, once the plaintiff proves a breach of contract, there is a presumption that the defendant was at fault or negligent. The burden is on the defendant to prove that he was not at fault or negligent. In contrast, in culpa aquiliana the plaintiff has the burden of proving that the defendant was negligent. In the present case, L.C. Diaz has established that Solidbank breached its contractual obligation to return the passbook only to the authorized representative of L.C. Diaz. There is thus a presumption that Solidbank was at fault and its teller was negligent in not returning the passbook to Calapre. The burden was on Solidbank to prove that there was no negligence on its part or its employees. Solidbank failed to discharge its burden. Solidbank did not present to the trial court Teller No. 6, the teller with whom Calapre left the passbook and who was supposed to return the passbook to him. The record does not indicate that Teller No. 6 verified the identity of the person who retrieved the passbook. Solidbank also failed to adduce in evidence its standard procedure in verifying the identity of the person retrieving the passbook, if there is such a procedure, and that Teller No. 6 implemented this procedure in the present case. Solidbank is bound by the negligence of its employees under the principle of respondeat superior or command responsibility. The defense of exercising the required diligence in the selection and supervision of employees is not a complete defense in culpa contractual, unlike in culpa aquiliana.[25] The bank must not only exercise high standards of integrity and performance, it must also insure that its employees do likewise because this is the only way to insure that the bank will comply with its fiduciary duty. Solidbank failed to present the teller who had the duty to return to Calapre the passbook, and thus failed to prove that this teller exercised the high standards of integrity and performance required of Solidbanks employees.

Proximate Cause of the Unauthorized Withdrawal Another point of disagreement between the trial and appellate courts is the proximate cause of the unauthorized withdrawal. The trial court believed that L.C. Diazs negligence in not securing its passbook under lock and key was the proximate cause that allowed the impostor to withdraw the P300,000. For the appellate court, the proximate cause was the tellers negligence in processing the withdrawal without first verifying with L.C. Diaz. We do not agree with either court. Proximate cause is that cause which, in natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by any efficient intervening cause, produces the injury and without which the result would not have occurred.[26] Proximate cause is determined by the facts of each case upon mixed considerations of logic, common sense, policy and precedent.[27] L.C. Diaz was not at fault that the passbook landed in the hands of the impostor. Solidbank was in possession of the passbook while it was processing the deposit. After completion of the transaction, Solidbank had the contractual obligation to return the passbook only to Calapre, the authorized representative of L.C. Diaz. Solidbank failed to fulfill its contractual obligation because it gave the passbook to another person. Solidbanks failure to return the passbook to Calapre made possible the withdrawal of the P300,000 by the impostor who took possession of the passbook. Under Solidbanks rules on savings account, mere possession of the passbook raises the presumption of ownership. It was the negligent act of Solidbanks Teller No. 6 that gave the impostor presumptive ownership of the passbook. Had the passbook not fallen into the hands of the impostor, the loss of P300,000 would not have happened. Thus, the proximate cause of the unauthorized withdrawal was Solidbanks negligence in not returning the passbook to Calapre. We do not subscribe to the appellate courts theory that the proximate cause of the unauthorized withdrawal was the tellers failure to call up L.C. Diaz to verify the withdrawal. Solidbank did not have the duty to call up L.C. Diaz to confirm the withdrawal. There is no arrangement between Solidbank and L.C. Diaz to this effect. Even the agreement between Solidbank and L.C. Diaz pertaining to measures that the parties must observe whenever

withdrawals of large amounts are made does not direct Solidbank to call up L.C. Diaz. There is no law mandating banks to call up their clients whenever their representatives withdraw significant amounts from their accounts. L.C. Diaz therefore had the burden to prove that it is the usual practice of Solidbank to call up its clients to verify a withdrawal of a large amount of money. L.C. Diaz failed to do so. Teller No. 5 who processed the withdrawal could not have been put on guard to verify the withdrawal. Prior to the withdrawal of P300,000, the impostor deposited with Teller No. 6 the P90,000 PBC check, which later bounced. The impostor apparently deposited a large amount of money to deflect suspicion from the withdrawal of a much bigger amount of money. The appellate court thus erred when it imposed on Solidbank the duty to call up L.C. Diaz to confirm the withdrawal when no law requires this from banks and when the teller had no reason to be suspicious of the transaction. Solidbank continues to foist the defense that Ilagan made the withdrawal. Solidbank claims that since Ilagan was also a messenger of L.C. Diaz, he was familiar with its teller so that there was no more need for the teller to verify the withdrawal. Solidbank relies on the following statements in the Booking and Information Sheet of Emerano Ilagan: xxx Ilagan also had with him (before the withdrawal) a forged check of PBC and indicated the amount of P90,000 which he deposited in favor of L.C. Diaz and Company. After successfully withdrawing this large sum of money, accused Ilagan gave alias Rey (Noel Tamayo) his share of the loot. Ilagan then hired a taxicab in the amount of P1,000 to transport him (Ilagan) to his home province at Bauan, Batangas. Ilagan extravagantly and lavishly spent his money but a big part of his loot was wasted in cockfight and horse racing. Ilagan was apprehended and meekly admitted his guilt.[28] (Emphasis supplied.) L.C. Diaz refutes Solidbanks contention by pointing out that the person who withdrew the P300,000 was a certain Noel Tamayo. Both the trial and appellate courts stated that this Noel Tamayo presented the passbook with the withdrawal slip.

We uphold the finding of the trial and appellate courts that a certain Noel Tamayo withdrew the P300,000. The Court is not a trier of facts. We find no justifiable reason to reverse the factual finding of the trial court and the Court of Appeals. The tellers who processed the deposit of the P90,000 check and the withdrawal of the P300,000 were not presented during trial to substantiate Solidbanks claim that Ilagan deposited the check and made the questioned withdrawal. Moreover, the entry quoted by Solidbank does not categorically state that Ilagan presented the withdrawal slip and the passbook. Doctrine of Last Clear Chance The doctrine of last clear chance states that where both parties are negligent but the negligent act of one is appreciably later than that of the other, or where it is impossible to determine whose fault or negligence caused the loss, the one who had the last clear opportunity to avoid the loss but failed to do so, is chargeable with the loss.[29] Stated differently, the antecedent negligence of the plaintiff does not preclude him from recovering damages caused by the supervening negligence of the defendant, who had the last fair chance to prevent the impending harm by the exercise of due diligence.[30] We do not apply the doctrine of last clear chance to the present case. Solidbank is liable for breach of contract due to negligence in the performance of its contractual obligation to L.C. Diaz. This is a case of culpa contractual, where neither the contributory negligence of the plaintiff nor his last clear chance to avoid the loss, would exonerate the defendant from liability.[31] Such contributory negligence or last clear chance by the plaintiff merely serves to reduce the recovery of damages by the plaintiff but does not exculpate the defendant from his breach of contract.[32] Mitigated Damages Under Article 1172, liability (for culpa contractual) may be regulated by the courts, according to the circumstances. This means that if the defendant exercised the proper diligence in the selection and supervision of its employee, or if the plaintiff was guilty of contributory negligence, then the courts may reduce the award of damages. In this case, L.C. Diaz was guilty of contributory negligence in allowing a withdrawal slip signed by its

authorized signatories to fall into the hands of an impostor. Thus, the liability of Solidbank should be reduced. In Philippine Bank of Commerce v. Court of Appeals,[33] where the Court held the depositor guilty of contributory negligence, we allocated the damages between the depositor and the bank on a 40-60 ratio. Applying the same ruling to this case, we hold that L.C. Diaz must shoulder 40% of the actual damages awarded by the appellate court. Solidbank must pay the other 60% of the actual damages. WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Petitioner Solidbank Corporation shall pay private respondent L.C. Diaz and Company, CPAs only 60% of the actual damages awarded by the Court of Appeals. The remaining 40% of the actual damages shall be borne by private respondent L.C. Diaz and Company, CPAs. Proportionate costs. SO ORDERED.

Philippine Banking Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, 419 SCRA 487 (2004)
Republic SUPREME Manila THIRD DIVISION G.R. No. 133710 January 13, 2004 of the Philippines COURT

PHILIPPINE BANKING CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and AMALIO L. SARMIENTO, doing business under the firm name "A.L. SARMIENTO CONSTRUCTION," respondents. DECISION CORONA, J.: Before us is a petition for review seeking the reversal of the decision of the Court of Appeals1 dated October 22, 1997, which affirmed with modification the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 20, Makati City, dismissing the complaint filed by petitioner Philippine Banking Corporation against private respondent Amalio L. Sarmiento, as well as the resolution of the Court of the Appeals dated May 14, 1998 denying petitioners motion for reconsideration. The facts follow. Amalio L. Sarmiento, registered owner of A.L. Sarmiento Construction, applied for a loan from Philippine Banking Corporation in the sum of P4,126,000, evidenced by promissory note no. 626-84. Pursuant thereto, Sarmiento obligated himself to pay the amount with interest at the rate of 29% per annum. Additionally, it was stipulated that if payment was not made upon maturity of the loan, penalty charges of 1% per month and 25% of the total amount due would be charged against him. Sarmiento signed the aforesaid promissory note together with the disclosure statement on loan/credit transaction provided by the bank.

Sarmiento failed to pay the aforesaid obligation on maturity, prompting Philippine Banking Corporation to send him a letter of demand dated January 2, 1989. Despite the demand, however, Sarmiento still failed to settle his indebtedness. Thus, on February 20, 1989, Philippine Banking Corporation filed a complaint for a sum of money against him. In his answer, Sarmiento denied that he received the proceeds of the loan transaction and prayed that the case against him be dismissed. On August 26, 1991, the trial court rendered its decision, thus: WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, plaintiff has miserably failed to prove its case by preponderance of evidence. The above-entitled case is ordered dismissed with costs against plaintiff. Judgment over counterclaim in the sum of P30,000.00 as attorneys fees and P20,000.00 as litigation expenses is hereby awarded in favor of the defendant. No moral or exemplary damages adjudged.2 On September 25, 1991, Philippine Banking Corporation filed a motion for new trial which the trial court subsequently granted despite the opposition of Sarmiento. On August 3, 1992, after the reception of evidence, the trial court rendered a decision finding the evidence adduced by the bank to be insufficient to substantiate its claim. The trial court reinstated its earlier dismissal of the case against Sarmiento and denied Philippine Banking Corporations subsequent motion for reconsideration. Aggrieved, Philippine Banking Corporation appealed to the Court of Appeals raising the following assignments of error: First Assignment of Error THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT PLAINTIFFAPPELLANT HAS ESTABLISHED ITS CAUSE OF ACTION WITH AN OVERWHELMING PREPONDERANCE OF EVIDENCE Second Assignment of Error THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONCLUDING THAT WHEN PLAINTIFFAPPELLANT WITHDREW THE AMOUNT OF P4,126,000.00

SIMULTANEOUSLY TO THE TIME THAT IT CREDITED THE SAME TO DEFENDANTS ACCOUNT, PLAINTIFF BANK ABORTED THE LOAN TRANSACTION UNDER PROMISSORY NOTE 626-84 Third Assignment of Error THE TRIAL COURT SERIOUSLY ERRED IN AWARDING DEFENDANTAPPELLEE P30,000.00 AS ATTORNEYS FEES AND P20,000.00 AS LITIGATION EXPENSES, THE SAME BEING WITHOUT FACTUAL AND LEGAL BASIS, AND EXCESSIVE UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES.3 On October 22, 1997, the Court of Appeals affirmed with modification the trial courts decision: WHEREFORE, the August 3, 1992 decision appealed from is MODIFIED to delete the trial courts award of attorneys fees. The rest is AFFIRMED in toto.4 Hence, the instant petition anchoring its plea for reversal on the following errors allegedly committed by the Court of Appeals: IN NOT HOLDING THAT PETITIONER HAS OVERCOME ITS BURDEN OF PROOF THROUGH THE PRESENTATION OF OVERWHELMING PREPONDERANCE OF EVIDENCE ESTABLISHING ITS CAUSE OF ACTION IN NOT HOLDING THAT THE RESPONDENTS EVIDENCE FAILED TO SUCCESSFULLY CONTROVERT HIS OWN JUDICIAL ADMISSION OF THE GENUINENESS AND DUE EXECUTION OF THE ACTIONABLE DOCUMENTS UPON WHICH THE PETITIONERS CAUSE OF ACTION IS BASED IN NOT HOLDING THAT THE SUBJECT PROMISSORY NOTE WAS EXECUTED BY THE RESPONDENT FOR A VALID CONSIDERATION IN NOT HOLDING THAT PETITIONERS EVIDENCE HAS SUFFICIENTLY SHOWN THAT THE RESPONDENT RECEIVED THE PROCEEDS OF THE SUBJECT PROMISSORY NOTE IN AWARDING LITIGATION EXPENSES FOR P20,000.00 WITHOUT LEGAL BASIS.

Petitioner contends that the appellate court incorrectly upheld the trial courts misinterpretation of the clear import of the entries in the bank statement. Said document showed that the proceeds of the loan obtained by respondent Sarmiento under promissory note no. 626-64 had been credited to his current account no. 1025-00815-0 maintained at petitioners New Manila Branch in the name of A.L. Sarmiento Construction. Petitioner further alleges that its cause of action against respondent Sarmiento was predicated upon actionable documents, the due execution and authenticity of which respondent admitted. Thus, no proof was required of petitioner to establish the contents of the said documents because such judicial admissions of respondent created a prima facie case in petitioners favor. We disagree. It is undisputed that respondent Sarmiento signed the promissory note and the accompanying disclosure statement on loan/credit transaction. But said pieces of evidence proved only the existence of such documents. There was even no question as to that because respondent Sarmiento himself admitted the due execution thereof. The important issue was whether or not respondent Sarmiento actually received the proceeds of the subject loan so as to make him liable therefor, a matter which should have been ventilated before the trial court. The trial court did in fact make a finding that the documentary evidence of petitioner failed to prove anything showing that respondent indeed received the proceeds of the loan. The Court of Appeals affirmed the conclusions of the trial court and declared: A pre-existing obligation, it may be conceded, constitutes value and may, of and by itself, serve as valuable and sufficient consideration for a contract such as the loan sued upon. As an essential element of a contract, however, the same should have been satisfactorily proved by the appellant particularly when, as in the instant case, the absence of consideration was precisely put in issue by the pleadings and was buttressed by both oral and documentary evidence. Having failed in this material respect, the appellants withdrawal of the amount supposedly credited to the appellees account was understandably interpreted by the court a quo as a termination/cancellation of the loan the latter applied for. Considering further that contracts without consideration do not exist in contemplation of law and produce no

effect whatsoever (Article 1352, Civil Code of the Philippines), the trial, likewise, correctly dismissed the appellants case.5 (emphasis supplied) A statement in a written instrument regarding the payment of consideration is merely in the nature of a receipt and may be contradicted.6 Respondent Sarmiento denied having received the proceeds of the loan and in fact presented evidence showing that on the day petitioner claimed to have credited the subject amount, it was again debited or withdrawn by petitioner, admittedly upon the instruction of the officials from petitioners head office. Petitioner attempted to controvert this fact by claiming that the proceeds of the loan were applied to respondents previous obligations to the bank. But we find nothing in the records showing that respondent had other obligations to which the proceeds of the loan could or should have been applied. Moreover, petitioner failed to explain just exactly what said obligations were or to what extent the purported proceeds were applied in satisfaction thereof. What appeared clearly was that the proceeds of the loan were deposited then withdrawn the same day by petitioner itself, thus negating its claim that respondent actually received it. Petitioner therefore failed to establish its case against respondent Sarmiento. Be that as it may, the general rule is that only questions of law may be raised in a petition for review on certiorari. The appellate jurisdiction of this Court in cases brought to it from the Court of Appeals is limited to reviewing and correcting the errors of law committed by the latter, the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals being final and conclusive. In other words, the power of this Court is limited to determining whether the legal conclusions drawn from the findings of fact are correct. Barring a showing that the findings of fact complained of are totally devoid of support in the records, such determination must stand for the Court is neither expected nor required to examine or refute the oral and documentary evidence submitted by the parties.7 Finally, the award of litigation expenses in the sum of P20,000 should be deleted for lack of legal basis. WHEREFORE, the instant petition for certiorari is hereby DENIED. The assailed decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals are AFFIRMED, subject to the MODIFICATION that the award of P20,000 as litigation expenses is hereby deleted.

SO ORDERED.

Samsung Construction Company Philippines, Inc. vs. Far East Bank, 436 SCRA 402 (2004)
Republic SUPREME Manila SECOND DIVISION G.R. No. 129015 August 13, 2004 of the Philippines COURT

SAMSUNG CONSTRUCTION COMPANY PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioner, vs. FAR EAST BANK AND TRUST COMPANY AND COURT OF APPEALS, respondents.

DECISION

TINGA, J.: Called to fore in the present petition is a classic textbook question if a bank pays out on a forged check, is it liable to reimburse the drawer from whose account the funds were paid out? The Court of Appeals, in reversing a trial court decision adverse to the bank, invoked tenuous reasoning to acquit the bank of liability. We reverse, applying time-honored principles of law. The salient facts follow. Plaintiff Samsung Construction Company Philippines, Inc. ("Samsung Construction"), while based in Bian, Laguna, maintained a current account with defendant Far East Bank and Trust Company1 ("FEBTC") at the latters Bel-Air, Makati branch.2 The sole signatory to Samsung Constructions account was Jong Kyu Lee ("Jong"), its Project Manager,3 while the checks remained in the custody of the companys accountant, Kyu Yong Lee ("Kyu").4

On 19 March 1992, a certain Roberto Gonzaga presented for payment FEBTC Check No. 432100 to the banks branch in Bel-Air, Makati. The check, payable to cash and drawn against Samsung Constructions current account, was in the amount of Nine Hundred Ninety Nine Thousand Five Hundred Pesos (P999,500.00). The bank teller, Cleofe Justiani, first checked the balance of Samsung Constructions account. After ascertaining there were enough funds to cover the check,5 she compared the signature appearing on the check with the specimen signature of Jong as contained in the specimen signature card with the bank. After comparing the two signatures, Justiani was satisfied as to the authenticity of the signature appearing on the check. She then asked Gonzaga to submit proof of his identity, and the latter presented three (3) identification cards.6 At the same time, Justiani forwarded the check to the branch Senior Assistant Cashier Gemma Velez, as it was bank policy that two bank branch officers approve checks exceeding One Hundred Thousand Pesos, for payment or encashment. Velez likewise counterchecked the signature on the check as against that on the signature card. He too concluded that the check was indeed signed by Jong. Velez then forwarded the check and signature card to Shirley Syfu, another bank officer, for approval. Syfu then noticed that Jose Sempio III ("Sempio"), the assistant accountant of Samsung Construction, was also in the bank. Sempio was well-known to Syfu and the other bank officers, he being the assistant accountant of Samsung Construction. Syfu showed the check to Sempio, who vouched for the genuineness of Jongs signature. Confirming the identity of Gonzaga, Sempio said that the check was for the purchase of equipment for Samsung Construction. Satisfied with the genuineness of the signature of Jong, Syfu authorized the banks encashment of the check to Gonzaga. The following day, the accountant of Samsung Construction, Kyu, examined the balance of the bank account and discovered that a check in the amount of Nine Hundred Ninety Nine Thousand Five Hundred Pesos (P999,500.00) had been encashed. Aware that he had not prepared such a check for Jongs signature, Kyu perused the checkbook and found that the last blank check was missing.7 He reported the matter to Jong, who then proceeded to the bank. Jong learned of the encashment of the check, and realized that his signature had been forged. The Bank Manager reputedly told Jong that he would be reimbursed for the amount of the check.8 Jong proceeded to

the police station and consulted with his lawyers.9 Subsequently, a criminal case for qualified theft was filed against Sempio before the Laguna court.10 In a letter dated 6 May 1992, Samsung Construction, through counsel, demanded that FEBTC credit to it the amount of Nine Hundred Ninety Nine Thousand Five Hundred Pesos (P999,500.00), with interest.11 In response, FEBTC said that it was still conducting an investigation on the matter. Unsatisfied, Samsung Construction filed a Complaint on 10 June 1992 for violation of Section 23 of the Negotiable Instruments Law, and prayed for the payment of the amount debited as a result of the questioned check plus interest, and attorneys fees.12 The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 9261506 before the Regional Trial Court ("RTC") of Manila, Branch 9.13 During the trial, both sides presented their respective expert witnesses to testify on the claim that Jongs signature was forged. Samsung Corporation, which had referred the check for investigation to the NBI, presented Senior NBI Document Examiner Roda B. Flores. She testified that based on her examination, she concluded that Jongs signature had been forged on the check. On the other hand, FEBTC, which had sought the assistance of the Philippine National Police (PNP),14 presented Rosario C. Perez, a document examiner from the PNP Crime Laboratory. She testified that her findings showed that Jongs signature on the check was genuine.15 Confronted with conflicting expert testimony, the RTC chose to believe the findings of the NBI expert. In a Decision dated 25 April 1994, the RTC held that Jongs signature on the check was forged and accordingly directed the bank to pay or credit back to Samsung Constructions account the amount of Nine Hundred Ninety Nine Thousand Five Hundred Pesos (P999,500.00), together with interest tolled from the time the complaint was filed, and attorneys fees in the amount of Fifteen Thousand Pesos (P15,000.00). FEBTC timely appealed to the Court of Appeals. On 28 November 1996, the Special Fourteenth Division of the Court of Appeals rendered a Decision,16 reversing the RTC Decision and absolving FEBTC from any liability. The Court of Appeals held that the contradictory findings of the NBI and the PNP created doubt as to whether there was forgery.17 Moreover, the appellate court also held that assuming there was forgery, it occurred due to the negligence of Samsung Construction, imputing blame on the accountant Kyu for lack of care and prudence in keeping the checks, which if observed would have prevented Sempio from gaining access thereto.18 The Court of

Appeals invoked the ruling in PNB v. National City Bank of New York19 that, if a loss, which must be borne by one or two innocent persons, can be traced to the neglect or fault of either, such loss would be borne by the negligent party, even if innocent of intentional fraud.20 Samsung Construction now argues that the Court of Appeals had seriously misapprehended the facts when it overturned the RTCs finding of forgery. It also contends that the appellate court erred in finding that it had been negligent in safekeeping the check, and in applying the equity principle enunciated in PNB v. National City Bank of New York. Since the trial court and the Court of Appeals arrived at contrary findings on questions of fact, the Court is obliged to examine the record to draw out the correct conclusions. Upon examination of the record, and based on the applicable laws and jurisprudence, we reverse the Court of Appeals. Section 23 of the Negotiable Instruments Law states: When a signature is forged or made without the authority of the person whose signature it purports to be, it is wholly inoperative, and no right to retain the instrument, or to give a discharge therefor, or to enforce payment thereof against any party thereto, can be acquired through or under such signature, unless the party against whom it is sought to enforce such right is precluded from setting up the forgery or want of authority. (Emphasis supplied) The general rule is to the effect that a forged signature is "wholly inoperative," and payment made "through or under such signature" is ineffectual or does not discharge the instrument.21 If payment is made, the drawee cannot charge it to the drawers account. The traditional justification for the result is that the drawee is in a superior position to detect a forgery because he has the makers signature and is expected to know and compare it.22 The rule has a healthy cautionary effect on banks by encouraging care in the comparison of the signatures against those on the signature cards they have on file. Moreover, the very opportunity of the drawee to insure and to distribute the cost among its customers who use checks makes the drawee an ideal party to spread the risk to insurance.23 Brady, in his treatise The Law of Forged and Altered Checks, elucidates:

When a person deposits money in a general account in a bank, against which he has the privilege of drawing checks in the ordinary course of business, the relationship between the bank and the depositor is that of debtor and creditor. So far as the legal relationship between the two is concerned, the situation is the same as though the bank had borrowed money from the depositor, agreeing to repay it on demand, or had bought goods from the depositor, agreeing to pay for them on demand. The bank owes the depositor money in the same sense that any debtor owes money to his creditor. Added to this, in the case of bank and depositor, there is, of course, the banks obligation to pay checks drawn by the depositor in proper form and presented in due course. When the bank receives the deposit, it impliedly agrees to pay only upon the depositors order. When the bank pays a check, on which the depositors signature is a forgery, it has failed to comply with its contract in this respect. Therefore, the bank is held liable. The fact that the forgery is a clever one is immaterial. The forged signature may so closely resemble the genuine as to defy detection by the depositor himself. And yet, if a bank pays the check, it is paying out its own money and not the depositors. The forgery may be committed by a trusted employee or confidential agent. The bank still must bear the loss. Even in a case where the forged check was drawn by the depositors partner, the loss was placed upon the bank. The case referred to is Robinson v. Security Bank, Ark., 216 S. W. Rep. 717. In this case, the plaintiff brought suit against the defendant bank for money which had been deposited to the plaintiffs credit and which the bank had paid out on checks bearing forgeries of the plaintiffs signature. xxx It was held that the bank was liable. It was further held that the fact that the plaintiff waited eight or nine months after discovering the forgery, before notifying the bank, did not, as a matter of law, constitute a ratification of the payment, so as to preclude the plaintiff from holding the bank liable. xxx This rule of liability can be stated briefly in these words: "A bank is bound to know its depositors signature." The rule is variously

expressed in the many decisions in which the question has been considered. But they all sum up to the proposition that a bank must know the signatures of those whose general deposits it carries.24 By no means is the principle rendered obsolete with the advent of modern commercial transactions. Contemporary texts still affirm this well-entrenched standard. Nickles, in his book Negotiable Instruments and Other Related Commercial Paper wrote, thus: The deposit contract between a payor bank and its customer determines who can draw against the customers account by specifying whose signature is necessary on checks that are chargeable against the customers account. Therefore, a check drawn against the account of an individual customer that is signed by someone other than the customer, and without authority from her, is not properly payable and is not chargeable to the customers account, inasmuch as any "unauthorized signature on an instrument is ineffective" as the signature of the person whose name is signed.25 Under Section 23 of the Negotiable Instruments Law, forgery is a real or absolute defense by the party whose signature is forged.26 On the premise that Jongs signature was indeed forged, FEBTC is liable for the loss since it authorized the discharge of the forged check. Such liability attaches even if the bank exerts due diligence and care in preventing such faulty discharge. Forgeries often deceive the eye of the most cautious experts; and when a bank has been so deceived, it is a harsh rule which compels it to suffer although no one has suffered by its being deceived.27 The forgery may be so near like the genuine as to defy detection by the depositor himself, and yet the bank is liable to the depositor if it pays the check.28 Thus, the first matter of inquiry is into whether the check was indeed forged. A document formally presented is presumed to be genuine until it is proved to be fraudulent. In a forgery trial, this presumption must be overcome but this can only be done by convincing testimony and effective illustrations.29 In ruling that forgery was not duly proven, the Court of Appeals held: [There] is ground to doubt the findings of the trial court sustaining the alleged forgery in view of the conflicting conclusions made by

handwriting experts from the NBI and the PNP, both agencies of the government. xxx These contradictory findings create doubt on whether there was indeed a forgery. In the case of Tenio-Obsequio v. Court of Appeals, 230 SCRA 550, the Supreme Court held that forgery cannot be presumed; it must be proved by clear, positive and convincing evidence. This reasoning is pure sophistry. Any litigator worth his or her salt would never allow an opponents expert witness to stand uncontradicted, thus the spectacle of competing expert witnesses is not unusual. The trier of fact will have to decide which version to believe, and explain why or why not such version is more credible than the other. Reliance therefore cannot be placed merely on the fact that there are colliding opinions of two experts, both clothed with the presumption of official duty, in order to draw a conclusion, especially one which is extremely crucial. Doing so is tantamount to a jurisprudential cop-out. Much is expected from the Court of Appeals as it occupies the penultimate tier in the judicial hierarchy. This Court has long deferred to the appellate court as to its findings of fact in the understanding that it has the appropriate skill and competence to plough through the minutiae that scatters the factual field. In failing to thoroughly evaluate the evidence before it, and relying instead on presumptions haphazardly drawn, the Court of Appeals was sadly remiss. Of course, courts, like humans, are fallible, and not every error deserves a stern rebuke. Yet, the appellate courts error in this case warrants special attention, as it is absurd and even dangerous as a precedent. If this rationale were adopted as a governing standard by every court in the land, barely any actionable claim would prosper, defeated as it would be by the mere invocation of the existence of a contrary "expert" opinion. On the other hand, the RTC did adjudge the testimony of the NBI expert as more credible than that of the PNP, and explained its reason behind the conclusion: After subjecting the evidence of both parties to a crucible of analysis, the court arrived at the conclusion that the testimony of the NBI

document examiner is more credible because the testimony of the PNP Crime Laboratory Services document examiner reveals that there are a lot of differences in the questioned signature as compared to the standard specimen signature. Furthermore, as testified to by Ms. Rhoda Flores, NBI expert, the manner of execution of the standard signatures used reveals that it is a free rapid continuous execution or stroke as shown by the tampering terminal stroke of the signatures whereas the questioned signature is a hesitating slow drawn execution stroke. Clearly, the person who executed the questioned signature was hesitant when the signature was made.30 During the testimony of PNP expert Rosario Perez, the RTC bluntly noted that "apparently, there [are] differences on that questioned signature and the standard signatures."31 This Court, in examining the signatures, makes a similar finding. The PNP expert excused the noted "differences" by asserting that they were mere "variations," which are normal deviations found in writing.32 Yet the RTC, which had the opportunity to examine the relevant documents and to personally observe the expert witness, clearly disbelieved the PNP expert. The Court similarly finds the testimony of the PNP expert as unconvincing. During the trial, she was confronted several times with apparent differences between strokes in the questioned signature and the genuine samples. Each time, she would just blandly assert that these differences were just "variations,"33 as if the mere conjuration of the word would sufficiently disquiet whatever doubts about the deviations. Such conclusion, standing alone, would be of little or no value unless supported by sufficiently cogent reasons which might amount almost to a demonstration.34 The most telling difference between the questioned and genuine signatures examined by the PNP is in the final upward stroke in the signature, or "the point to the short stroke of the terminal in the capital letter L," as referred to by the PNP examiner who had marked it in her comparison chart as "point no. 6." To the plain eye, such upward final stroke consists of a vertical line which forms a ninety degree (90) angle with the previous stroke. Of the twenty one (21) other genuine samples examined by the PNP, at least nine (9) ended with an upward stroke.35 However, unlike the questioned signature, the upward strokes of eight (8) of these signatures are looped, while the upward stroke of the seventh36 forms a severe forty-five degree

(45) with the previous stroke. The difference is glaring, and indeed, the PNP examiner was confronted with the inconsistency in point no. 6. Q: Now, in this questioned document point no. 6, the "s" stroke is directly upwards. A: Yes, sir. Q: Now, can you look at all these standard signature (sic) were (sic) point 6 is repeated or the last stroke "s" is pointing directly upwards? A: There is none in the standard signature, sir.37 Again, the PNP examiner downplayed the uniqueness of the final stroke in the questioned signature as a mere variation,38 the same excuse she proffered for the other marked differences noted by the Court and the counsel for petitioner.39 There is no reason to doubt why the RTC gave credence to the testimony of the NBI examiner, and not the PNP experts. The NBI expert, Rhoda Flores, clearly qualifies as an expert witness. A document examiner for fifteen years, she had been promoted to the rank of Senior Document Examiner with the NBI, and had held that rank for twelve years prior to her testimony. She had placed among the top five examinees in the Competitive Seminar in Question Document Examination, conducted by the NBI Academy, which qualified her as a document examiner.40 She had trained with the Royal Hongkong Police Laboratory and is a member of the International Association for Identification.41 As of the time she testified, she had examined more than fifty to fifty-five thousand questioned documents, on an average of fifteen to twenty documents a day.42 In comparison, PNP document examiner Perez admitted to having examined only around five hundred documents as of her testimony.43 In analyzing the signatures, NBI Examiner Flores utilized the scientific comparative examination method consisting of analysis, recognition, comparison and evaluation of the writing habits with the use of instruments such as a magnifying lense, a stereoscopic microscope, and varied lighting substances. She also prepared enlarged photographs of the signatures in order to facilitate the necessary comparisons.44 She compared the questioned signature as against ten (10) other sample signatures of Jong.

Five of these signatures were executed on checks previously issued by Jong, while the other five contained in business letters Jong had signed.45 The NBI found that there were significant differences in the handwriting characteristics existing between the questioned and the sample signatures, as to manner of execution, link/connecting strokes, proportion characteristics, and other identifying details.46 The RTC was sufficiently convinced by the NBI examiners testimony, and explained her reasons in its Decisions. While the Court of Appeals disagreed and upheld the findings of the PNP, it failed to convincingly demonstrate why such findings were more credible than those of the NBI expert. As a throwaway, the assailed Decision noted that the PNP, not the NBI, had the opportunity to examine the specimen signature card signed by Jong, which was relied upon by the employees of FEBTC in authenticating Jongs signature. The distinction is irrelevant in establishing forgery. Forgery can be established comparing the contested signatures as against those of any sample signature duly established as that of the persons whose signature was forged. FEBTC lays undue emphasis on the fact that the PNP examiner did compare the questioned signature against the bank signature cards. The crucial fact in question is whether or not the check was forged, not whether the bank could have detected the forgery. The latter issue becomes relevant only if there is need to weigh the comparative negligence between the bank and the party whose signature was forged. At the same time, the Court of Appeals failed to assess the effect of Jongs testimony that the signature on the check was not his.47 The assertion may seem self-serving at first blush, yet it cannot be ignored that Jong was in the best position to know whether or not the signature on the check was his. While his claim should not be taken at face value, any averments he would have on the matter, if adjudged as truthful, deserve primacy in consideration. Jongs testimony is supported by the findings of the NBI examiner. They are also backed by factual circumstances that support the conclusion that the assailed check was indeed forged. Judicial notice can be taken that is highly unusual in practice for a business establishment to draw a check for close to a million pesos and make it payable to cash or bearer, and not to order. Jong immediately reported the forgery upon its discovery.

He filed the appropriate criminal charges against Sempio, the putative forger.48 Now for determination is whether Samsung Construction was precluded from setting up the defense of forgery under Section 23 of the Negotiable Instruments Law. The Court of Appeals concluded that Samsung Construction was negligent, and invoked the doctrines that "where a loss must be borne by one of two innocent person, can be traced to the neglect or fault of either, it is reasonable that it would be borne by him, even if innocent of any intentional fraud, through whose means it has succeeded49 or who put into the power of the third person to perpetuate the wrong."50 Applying these rules, the Court of Appeals determined that it was the negligence of Samsung Construction that allowed the encashment of the forged check. In the case at bar, the forgery appears to have been made possible through the acts of one Jose Sempio III, an assistant accountant employed by the plaintiff Samsung [Construction] Co. Philippines, Inc. who supposedly stole the blank check and who presumably is responsible for its encashment through a forged signature of Jong Kyu Lee. Sempio was assistant to the Korean accountant who was in possession of the blank checks and who through negligence, enabled Sempio to have access to the same. Had the Korean accountant been more careful and prudent in keeping the blank checks Sempio would not have had the chance to steal a page thereof and to effect the forgery. Besides, Sempio was an employee who appears to have had dealings with the defendant Bank in behalf of the plaintiff corporation and on the date the check was encashed, he was there to certify that it was a genuine check issued to purchase equipment for the company.51 We recognize that Section 23 of the Negotiable Instruments Law bars a party from setting up the defense of forgery if it is guilty of negligence.52 Yet, we are unable to conclude that Samsung Construction was guilty of negligence in this case. The appellate court failed to explain precisely how the Korean accountant was negligent or how more care and prudence on his part would have prevented the forgery. We cannot sustain this "tar and feathering" resorted to without any basis. The bare fact that the forgery was committed by an employee of the party whose signature was forged cannot necessarily imply that such partys

negligence was the cause for the forgery. Employers do not possess the preternatural gift of cognition as to the evil that may lurk within the hearts and minds of their employees. The Courts pronouncement in PCI Bank v. Court of Appeals53 applies in this case, to wit: [T]he mere fact that the forgery was committed by a drawer-payors confidential employee or agent, who by virtue of his position had unusual facilities for perpetrating the fraud and imposing the forged paper upon the bank, does not entitle the bank to shift the loss to the drawer-payor, in the absence of some circumstance raising estoppel against the drawer.54 Admittedly, the record does not clearly establish what measures Samsung Construction employed to safeguard its blank checks. Jong did testify that his accountant, Kyu, kept the checks inside a "safety box,"55 and no contrary version was presented by FEBTC. However, such testimony cannot prove that the checks were indeed kept in a safety box, as Jongs testimony on that point is hearsay, since Kyu, and not Jong, would have the personal knowledge as to how the checks were kept. Still, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, we can conclude that there was no negligence on Samsung Constructions part. The presumption remains that every person takes ordinary care of his concerns,56 and that the ordinary course of business has been followed.57 Negligence is not presumed, but must be proven by him who alleges it.58 While the complaint was lodged at the instance of Samsung Construction, the matter it had to prove was the claim it had alleged - whether the check was forged. It cannot be required as well to prove that it was not negligent, because the legal presumption remains that ordinary care was employed. Thus, it was incumbent upon FEBTC, in defense, to prove the negative fact that Samsung Construction was negligent. While the payee, as in this case, may not have the personal knowledge as to the standard procedures observed by the drawer, it well has the means of disputing the presumption of regularity. Proving a negative fact may be "a difficult office,"59 but necessarily so, as it seeks to overcome a presumption in law. FEBTC was unable to dispute the presumption of ordinary care exercised by Samsung Construction, hence we cannot agree with the Court of Appeals finding of negligence.

The assailed Decision replicated the extensive efforts which FEBTC devoted to establish that there was no negligence on the part of the bank in its acceptance and payment of the forged check. However, the degree of diligence exercised by the bank would be irrelevant if the drawer is not precluded from setting up the defense of forgery under Section 23 by his own negligence. The rule of equity enunciated in PNB v. National City Bank of New York, 60 as relied upon by the Court of Appeals, deserves careful examination. The point in issue has sometimes been said to be that of negligence. The drawee who has paid upon the forged signature is held to bear the loss, because he has been negligent in failing to recognize that the handwriting is not that of his customer. But it follows obviously that if the payee, holder, or presenter of the forged paper has himself been in default, if he has himself been guilty of a negligence prior to that of the banker, or if by any act of his own he has at all contributed to induce the banker's negligence, then he may lose his right to cast the loss upon the banker.61 (Emphasis supplied) Quite palpably, the general rule remains that the drawee who has paid upon the forged signature bears the loss. The exception to this rule arises only when negligence can be traced on the part of the drawer whose signature was forged, and the need arises to weigh the comparative negligence between the drawer and the drawee to determine who should bear the burden of loss. The Court finds no basis to conclude that Samsung Construction was negligent in the safekeeping of its checks. For one, the settled rule is that the mere fact that the depositor leaves his check book lying around does not constitute such negligence as will free the bank from liability to him, where a clerk of the depositor or other persons, taking advantage of the opportunity, abstract some of the check blanks, forges the depositors signature and collect on the checks from the bank.62 And for another, in point of fact Samsung Construction was not negligent at all since it reported the forgery almost immediately upon discovery.63 It is also worth noting that the forged signatures in PNB v. National City Bank of New York were not of the drawer, but of indorsers. The same circumstance attends PNB v. Court of Appeals,64 which was also cited by the Court of Appeals. It is accepted that a forged signature of the drawer differs in treatment than a forged signature of the indorser.

The justification for the distinction between forgery of the signature of the drawer and forgery of an indorsement is that the drawee is in a position to verify the drawers signature by comparison with one in his hands, but has ordinarily no opportunity to verify an indorsement.65 Thus, a drawee bank is generally liable to its depositor in paying a check which bears either a forgery of the drawers signature or a forged indorsement. But the bank may, as a general rule, recover back the money which it has paid on a check bearing a forged indorsement, whereas it has not this right to the same extent with reference to a check bearing a forgery of the drawers signature.66 The general rule imputing liability on the drawee who paid out on the forgery holds in this case. Since FEBTC puts into issue the degree of care it exercised before paying out on the forged check, we might as well comment on the banks performance of its duty. It might be so that the bank complied with its own internal rules prior to paying out on the questionable check. Yet, there are several troubling circumstances that lead us to believe that the bank itself was remiss in its duty. The fact that the check was made out in the amount of nearly one million pesos is unusual enough to require a higher degree of caution on the part of the bank. Indeed, FEBTC confirms this through its own internal procedures. Checks below twenty-five thousand pesos require only the approval of the teller; those between twenty-five thousand to one hundred thousand pesos necessitate the approval of one bank officer; and should the amount exceed one hundred thousand pesos, the concurrence of two bank officers is required.67 In this case, not only did the amount in the check nearly total one million pesos, it was also payable to cash. That latter circumstance should have aroused the suspicion of the bank, as it is not ordinary business practice for a check for such large amount to be made payable to cash or to bearer, instead of to the order of a specified person.68 Moreover, the check was presented for payment by one Roberto Gonzaga, who was not designated as the payee of the check, and who did not carry with him any written proof that he was authorized by Samsung Construction to encash the check. Gonzaga, a stranger to FEBTC, was not even an employee of Samsung

Construction.69 These circumstances are already suspicious if taken independently, much more so if they are evaluated in concurrence. Given the shadiness attending Gonzagas presentment of the check, it was not sufficient for FEBTC to have merely complied with its internal procedures, but mandatory that all earnest efforts be undertaken to ensure the validity of the check, and of the authority of Gonzaga to collect payment therefor. According to FEBTC Senior Assistant Cashier Gemma Velez, the bank tried, but failed, to contact Jong over the phone to verify the check.70 She added that calling the issuer or drawer of the check to verify the same was not part of the standard procedure of the bank, but an "extra effort."71 Even assuming that such personal verification is tantamount to extraordinary diligence, it cannot be denied that FEBTC still paid out the check despite the absence of any proof of verification from the drawer. Instead, the bank seems to have relied heavily on the say-so of Sempio, who was present at the bank at the time the check was presented. FEBTC alleges that Sempio was well-known to the bank officers, as he had regularly transacted with the bank in behalf of Samsung Construction. It was even claimed that everytime FEBTC would contact Jong about problems with his account, Jong would hand the phone over to Sempio.72 However, the only proof of such allegations is the testimony of Gemma Velez, who also testified that she did not know Sempio personally,73 and had met Sempio for the first time only on the day the check was encashed.74 In fact, Velez had to inquire with the other officers of the bank as to whether Sempio was actually known to the employees of the bank.75 Obviously, Velez had no personal knowledge as to the past relationship between FEBTC and Sempio, and any averments of her to that effect should be deemed hearsay evidence. Interestingly, FEBTC did not present as a witness any other employee of their Bel-Air branch, including those who supposedly had transacted with Sempio before. Even assuming that FEBTC had a standing habit of dealing with Sempio, acting in behalf of Samsung Construction, the irregular circumstances attending the presentment of the forged check should have put the bank on the highest degree of alert. The Court recently emphasized that the highest degree of care and diligence is required of banks. Banks are engaged in a business impressed with public interest, and it is their duty to protect in return their many clients and depositors who

transact business with them. They have the obligation to treat their clients account meticulously and with the highest degree of care, considering the fiduciary nature of their relationship. The diligence required of banks, therefore, is more than that of a good father of a family.76 Given the circumstances, extraordinary diligence dictates that FEBTC should have ascertained from Jong personally that the signature in the questionable check was his. Still, even if the bank performed with utmost diligence, the drawer whose signature was forged may still recover from the bank as long as he or she is not precluded from setting up the defense of forgery. After all, Section 23 of the Negotiable Instruments Law plainly states that no right to enforce the payment of a check can arise out of a forged signature. Since the drawer, Samsung Construction, is not precluded by negligence from setting up the forgery, the general rule should apply. Consequently, if a bank pays a forged check, it must be considered as paying out of its funds and cannot charge the amount so paid to the account of the depositor.77 A bank is liable, irrespective of its good faith, in paying a forged check.78 WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 28 November 1996 is REVERSED, and the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 9, dated 25 April 1994 is REINSTATED. Costs against respondent. SO ORDERED.

Heirs of Eduardo Manlapat vs. Court of Appeals, 459 SCRA 412 (2005)
Republic SUPREME Manila SECOND DIVISION G.R. No. 125585 June 8, 2005 of the Philippines COURT

HEIRS OF EDUARDO MANLAPAT, represented by GLORIA MANLAPATBANAAG and LEON M. BANAAG, JR., Petitioners, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, RURAL BANK OF SAN PASCUAL, INC., and JOSE B. SALAZAR, CONSUELO CRUZ and ROSALINA CRUZ-BAUTISTA, and the REGISTER OF DEEDS of Meycauayan, Bulacan, Respondents. DECISION Tinga, J.: Before this Court is a Rule 45 petition assailing the D E C I S I O N1 dated 29 September 1994 of the Court of Appeals that reversed the D E C I S I O N2 dated 30 April 1991 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bulacan, Branch 6, Malolos. The trial court declared Transfer Certificates of Title (TCTs) No. T-9326-P(M) and No. T-9327-P(M) as void ab initio and ordered the restoration of Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. P-153(M) in the name of Eduardo Manlapat (Eduardo), petitioners predecessor-in-interest. The controversy involves Lot No. 2204, a parcel of land with an area of 1,058 square meters, located at Panghulo, Obando, Bulacan. The property had been originally in the possession of Jose Alvarez, Eduardos grandfather, until his demise in 1916. It remained unregistered until 8 October 1976 when OCT No. P-153(M) was issued in the name of Eduardo pursuant to a free patent issued in Eduardos name3 that was entered in the Registry of Deeds of Meycauayan, Bulacan.4 The subject lot is adjacent to a fishpond owned by one

Ricardo Cruz (Ricardo), predecessor-in-interest of respondents Consuelo Cruz and Rosalina Cruz-Bautista (Cruzes).5 On 19 December 1954, before the subject lot was titled, Eduardo sold a portion thereof with an area of 553 square meters to Ricardo. The sale is evidenced by a deed of sale entitled "Kasulatan ng Bilihang Tuluyan ng Lupang Walang Titulo (Kasulatan)"6 which was signed by Eduardo himself as vendor and his wife Engracia Aniceto with a certain Santiago Enriquez signing as witness. The deed was notarized by Notary Public Manolo Cruz.7 On 4 April 1963, the Kasulatan was registered with the Register of Deeds of Bulacan.8 On 18 March 1981, another Deed of Sale9 conveying another portion of the subject lot consisting of 50 square meters as right of way was executed by Eduardo in favor of Ricardo in order to reach the portion covered by the first sale executed in 1954 and to have access to his fishpond from the provincial road.10 The deed was signed by Eduardo himself and his wife Engracia Aniceto, together with Eduardo Manlapat, Jr. and Patricio Manlapat. The same was also duly notarized on 18 July 1981 by Notary Public Arsenio Guevarra.11 In December 1981, Leon Banaag, Jr. (Banaag), as attorney-in-fact of his father-in-law Eduardo, executed a mortgage with the Rural Bank of San Pascual, Obando Branch (RBSP), for P100,000.00 with the subject lot as collateral. Banaag deposited the owners duplicate certificate of OCT No. P153(M) with the bank. On 31 August 1986, Ricardo died without learning of the prior issuance of OCT No. P-153(M) in the name of Eduardo.12 His heirs, the Cruzes, were not immediately aware of the consummated sale between Eduardo and Ricardo. Eduardo himself died on 4 April 1987. He was survived by his heirs, Engracia Aniceto, his spouse; and children, Patricio, Bonifacio, Eduardo, Corazon, Anselmo, Teresita and Gloria, all surnamed Manlapat.13 Neither did the heirs of Eduardo (petitioners) inform the Cruzes of the prior sale in favor of their predecessor-in-interest, Ricardo. Yet subsequently, the Cruzes came to learn about the sale and the issuance of the OCT in the name of Eduardo.

Upon learning of their right to the subject lot, the Cruzes immediately tried to confront petitioners on the mortgage and obtain the surrender of the OCT. The Cruzes, however, were thwarted in their bid to see the heirs. On the advice of the Bureau of Lands, NCR Office, they brought the matter to the barangay captain of Barangay Panghulo, Obando, Bulacan. During the hearing, petitioners were informed that the Cruzes had a legal right to the property covered by OCT and needed the OCT for the purpose of securing a separate title to cover the interest of Ricardo. Petitioners, however, were unwilling to surrender the OCT.14 Having failed to physically obtain the title from petitioners, in July 1989, the Cruzes instead went to RBSP which had custody of the owners duplicate certificate of the OCT, earlier surrendered as a consequence of the mortgage. Transacting with RBSPs manager, Jose Salazar (Salazar), the Cruzes sought to borrow the owners duplicate certificate for the purpose of photocopying the same and thereafter showing a copy thereof to the Register of Deeds. Salazar allowed the Cruzes to bring the owners duplicate certificate outside the bank premises when the latter showed the Kasulatan.15 The Cruzes returned the owners duplicate certificate on the same day after having copied the same. They then brought the copy of the OCT to Register of Deeds Jose Flores (Flores) of Meycauayan and showed the same to him to secure his legal opinion as to how the Cruzes could legally protect their interest in the property and register the same.16 Flores suggested the preparation of a subdivision plan to be able to segregate the area purchased by Ricardo from Eduardo and have the same covered by a separate title.17 Thereafter, the Cruzes solicited the opinion of Ricardo Arandilla (Arandilla), Land Registration Officer, Director III, Legal Affairs Department, Land Registration Authority at Quezon City, who agreed with the advice given by Flores.18 Relying on the suggestions of Flores and Arandilla, the Cruzes hired two geodetic engineers to prepare the corresponding subdivision plan. The subdivision plan was presented to the Land Management Bureau, Region III, and there it was approved by a certain Mr. Pambid of said office on 21 July 1989. After securing the approval of the subdivision plan, the Cruzes went back to RBSP and again asked for the owners duplicate certificate from Salazar. The Cruzes informed him that the presentation of the owners duplicate

certificate was necessary, per advise of the Register of Deeds, for the cancellation of the OCT and the issuance in lieu thereof of two separate titles in the names of Ricardo and Eduardo in accordance with the approved subdivision plan.19 Before giving the owners duplicate certificate, Salazar required the Cruzes to see Atty. Renato Santiago (Atty. Santiago), legal counsel of RBSP, to secure from the latter a clearance to borrow the title. Atty. Santiago would give the clearance on the condition that only Cruzes put up a substitute collateral, which they did.20 As a result, the Cruzes got hold again of the owners duplicate certificate. After the Cruzes presented the owners duplicate certificate, along with the deeds of sale and the subdivision plan, the Register of Deeds cancelled the OCT and issued in lieu thereof TCT No. T-9326-P(M) covering 603 square meters of Lot No. 2204 in the name of Ricardo and TCT No. T-9327-P(M) covering the remaining 455 square meters in the name of Eduardo.21 On 9 August 1989, the Cruzes went back to the bank and surrendered to Salazar TCT No. 9327-P(M) in the name of Eduardo and retrieved the title they had earlier given as substitute collateral. After securing the new separate titles, the Cruzes furnished petitioners with a copy of TCT No. 9327-P(M) through the barangay captain and paid the real property tax for 1989.22 The Cruzes also sent a formal letter to Guillermo Reyes, Jr., Director, Supervision Sector, Department III of the Central Bank of the Philippines, inquiring whether they committed any violation of existing bank laws under the circumstances. A certain Zosimo Topacio, Jr. of the Supervision Sector sent a reply letter advising the Cruzes, since the matter is between them and the bank, to get in touch with the bank for the final settlement of the case.23 In October of 1989, Banaag went to RBSP, intending to tender full payment of the mortgage obligation. It was only then that he learned of the dealings of the Cruzes with the bank which eventually led to the subdivision of the subject lot and the issuance of two separate titles thereon. In exchange for the full payment of the loan, RBSP tried to persuade petitioners to accept TCT No. T-9327-P(M) in the name of Eduardo.24 As a result, three (3) cases were lodged, later consolidated, with the trial court, all involving the issuance of the TCTs, to wit:

(1) Civil Case No. 650-M-89, for reconveyance with damages filed by the heirs of Eduardo Manlapat against Consuelo Cruz, Rosalina CruzBautista, Rural Bank of San Pascual, Jose Salazar and Jose Flores, in his capacity as Deputy Registrar, Meycauayan Branch of the Registry of Deeds of Bulacan; (2) Civil Case No. 141-M-90 for damages filed by Jose Salazar against Consuelo Cruz, et. [sic] al.; and (3) Civil Case No. 644-M-89, for declaration of nullity of title with damages filed by Rural Bank of San Pascual, Inc. against the spouses Ricardo Cruz and Consuelo Cruz, et al.25 After trial of the consolidated cases, the RTC of Malolos rendered a decision in favor of the heirs of Eduardo, the dispositive portion of which reads: WHEREFORE, premised from the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered: 1.Declaring Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. T-9326-P(M) and T9327-P(M) as void ab initio and ordering the Register of Deeds, Meycauayan Branch to cancel said titles and to restore Original Certificate of Title No. P-153(M) in the name of plaintiffs predecessorin-interest Eduardo Manlapat; 2.-Ordering the defendants Rural Bank of San Pascual, Jose Salazar, Consuelo Cruz and Rosalina Cruz-Bautista, to pay the plaintiffs Heirs of Eduardo Manlapat, jointly and severally, the following: a)P200,000.00 as moral damages; b)P50,000.00 as exemplary damages; c)P20,000.00 as attorneys fees; and d)the costs of the suit. 3.Dismissing the counterclaims. SO ORDERED."26 The trial court found that petitioners were entitled to the reliefs of reconveyance and damages. On this matter, it ruled that petitioners were

bona fide mortgagors of an unclouded title bearing no annotation of any lien and/or encumbrance. This fact, according to the trial court, was confirmed by the bank when it accepted the mortgage unconditionally on 25 November 1981. It found that petitioners were complacent and unperturbed, believing that the title to their property, while serving as security for a loan, was safely vaulted in the impermeable confines of RBSP. To their surprise and prejudice, said title was subdivided into two portions, leaving them a portion of 455 square meters from the original total area of 1,058 square meters, all because of the fraudulent and negligent acts of respondents and RBSP. The trial court ratiocinated that even assuming that a portion of the subject lot was sold by Eduardo to Ricardo, petitioners were still not privy to the transaction between the bank and the Cruzes which eventually led to the subdivision of the OCT into TCTs No. T-9326-P(M) and No. T-9327-P(M), clearly to the damage and prejudice of petitioners.27 Concerning the claims for damages, the trial court found the same to be bereft of merit. It ruled that although the act of the Cruzes could be deemed fraudulent, still it would not constitute intrinsic fraud. Salazar, nonetheless, was clearly guilty of negligence in letting the Cruzes borrow the owners duplicate certificate of the OCT. Neither the bank nor its manager had business entrusting to strangers titles mortgaged to it by other persons for whatever reason. It was a clear violation of the mortgage and banking laws, the trial court concluded. The trial court also ruled that although Salazar was personally responsible for allowing the title to be borrowed, the bank could not escape liability for it was guilty of contributory negligence. The evidence showed that RBSPs legal counsel was sought for advice regarding respondents request. This could only mean that RBSP through its lawyer if not through its manager had known in advance of the Cruzes intention and still it did nothing to prevent the eventuality. Salazar was not even summarily dismissed by the bank if he was indeed the sole person to blame. Hence, the banks claim for damages must necessarily fail.28 The trial court granted the prayer for the annulment of the TCTs as a necessary consequence of its declaration that reconveyance was in order. As to Flores, his work being ministerial as Deputy Register of the Bulacan Registry of Deeds, the trial court absolved him of any liability with a stern

warning that he should deal with his future transactions more carefully and in the strictest sense as a responsible government official.29 Aggrieved by the decision of the trial court, RBSP, Salazar and the Cruzes appealed to the Court of Appeals. The appellate court, however, reversed the decision of the RTC. The decretal text of the decision reads: THE FOREGOING CONSIDERED, the appealed decision is hereby reversed and set aside, with costs against the appellees. SO ORDERED.30 The appellate court ruled that petitioners were not bona fide mortgagors since as early as 1954 or before the 1981 mortgage, Eduardo already sold to Ricardo a portion of the subject lot with an area of 553 square meters. This fact, the Court of Appeals noted, is even supported by a document of sale signed by Eduardo Jr. and Engracia Aniceto, the surviving spouse of Eduardo, and registered with the Register of Deeds of Bulacan. The appellate court also found that on 18 March 1981, for the second time, Eduardo sold to Ricardo a separate area containing 50 square meters, as a road right-of-way.31 Clearly, the OCT was issued only after the first sale. It also noted that the title was given to the Cruzes by RBSP voluntarily, with knowledge even of the banks counsel.32 Hence, the imposition of damages cannot be justified, the Cruzes themselves being the owners of the property. Certainly, Eduardo misled the bank into accepting the entire area as a collateral since the 603-square meter portion did not anymore belong to him. The appellate court, however, concluded that there was no conspiracy between the bank and Salazar.33 Hence, this petition for review on certiorari. Petitioners ascribe errors to the appellate court by asking the following questions, to wit: (a) can a mortgagor be compelled to receive from the mortgagee a smaller portion of the originally encumbered title partitioned during the subsistence of the mortgage, without the knowledge of, or authority derived from, the registered owner; (b) can the mortgagee question the veracity of the registered title of the mortgagor, as noted in the owners duplicate certificate, and thus, deliver the certificate to such third persons, invoking an adverse, prior, and unregistered claim against the registered title of the mortgagor; (c) can an adverse prior claim against a

registered title be noted, registered and entered without a competent court order; and (d) can belief of ownership justify the taking of property without due process of law?34 The kernel of the controversy boils down to the issue of whether the cancellation of the OCT in the name of the petitioners predecessor-ininterest and its splitting into two separate titles, one for the petitioners and the other for the Cruzes, may be accorded legal recognition given the peculiar factual backdrop of the case. We rule in the affirmative. Private respondents the portion titled in their names (Cruzes) own

Consonant with law and justice, the ultimate denouement of the property dispute lies in the determination of the respective bases of the warring claims. Here, as in other legal disputes, what is written generally deserves credence. A careful perusal of the evidence on record reveals that the Cruzes have sufficiently proven their claim of ownership over the portion of Lot No. 2204 with an area of 553 square meters. The duly notarized instrument of conveyance was executed in 1954 to which no less than Eduardo was a signatory. The execution of the deed of sale was rendered beyond doubt by Eduardos admission in his Sinumpaang Salaysay dated 24 April 1963.35 These documents make the affirmance of the right of the Cruzes ineluctable. The apparent irregularity, however, in the obtention of the owners duplicate certificate from the bank, later to be presented to the Register of Deeds to secure the issuance of two new TCTs in place of the OCT, is another matter. Petitioners argue that the 1954 deed of sale was not annotated on the OCT which was issued in 1976 in favor of Eduardo; thus, the Cruzes claim of ownership based on the sale would not hold water. The Court is not persuaded. Registration is not a requirement for validity of the contract as between the parties, for the effect of registration serves chiefly to bind third persons.36 The principal purpose of registration is merely to notify other persons not parties to a contract that a transaction involving the property had been entered into. Where the party has knowledge of a prior existing interest

which is unregistered at the time he acquired a right to the same land, his knowledge of that prior unregistered interest has the effect of registration as to him.37 Further, the heirs of Eduardo cannot be considered third persons for purposes of applying the rule. The conveyance shall not be valid against any person unless registered, except (1) the grantor, (2) his heirs and devisees, and (3) third persons having actual notice or knowledge thereof.38 Not only are petitioners the heirs of Eduardo, some of them were actually parties to the Kasulatan executed in favor of Ricardo. Thus, the annotation of the adverse claim of the Cruzes on the OCT is no longer required to bind the heirs of Eduardo, petitioners herein. Petitioners had no mortgage over disputed portion right to constitute

The requirements of a valid mortgage are clearly laid down in Article 2085 of the New Civil Code, viz: ART. 2085. The following requisites are essential to the contracts of pledge and mortgage: (1) That they be constituted to secure the fulfillment of a principal obligation; (2) That the pledgor or mortgagor be the absolute owner of the thing pledged or mortgaged; (3) That the persons constituting the pledge or mortgage have the free disposal of their property, and in the absence thereof, that they be legally authorized for the purpose. Third persons who are not parties to the principal obligation may secure the latter by pledging or mortgaging their own property. (emphasis supplied) For a person to validly constitute a valid mortgage on real estate, he must be the absolute owner thereof as required by Article 2085 of the New Civil Code.39 The mortgagor must be the owner, otherwise the mortgage is void.40 In a contract of mortgage, the mortgagor remains to be the owner of the property although the property is subjected to a lien.41 A mortgage is regarded as nothing more than a mere lien, encumbrance, or security for a

debt, and passes no title or estate to the mortgagee and gives him no right or claim to the possession of the property.42 In this kind of contract, the property mortgaged is merely delivered to the mortgagee to secure the fulfillment of the principal obligation.43 Such delivery does not empower the mortgagee to convey any portion thereof in favor of another person as the right to dispose is an attribute of ownership.44 The right to dispose includes the right to donate, to sell, to pledge or mortgage. Thus, the mortgagee, not being the owner of the property, cannot dispose of the whole or part thereof nor cause the impairment of the security in any manner without violating the foregoing rule.45 The mortgagee only owns the mortgage credit, not the property itself.46 Petitioners submit as an issue whether a mortgagor may be compelled to receive from the mortgagee a smaller portion of the lot covered by the originally encumbered title, which lot was partitioned during the subsistence of the mortgage without the knowledge or authority of the mortgagor as registered owner. This formulation is disingenuous, baselessly assuming, as it does, as an admitted fact that the mortgagor is the owner of the mortgaged property in its entirety. Indeed, it has not become a salient issue in this case since the mortgagor was not the owner of the entire mortgaged property in the first place. Issuance of OCT No. P-153(M), improper It is a glaring fact that OCT No. P-153(M) covering the property mortgaged was in the name of Eduardo, without any annotation of any prior disposition or encumbrance. However, the property was sufficiently shown to be not entirely owned by Eduardo as evidenced by the Kasulatan. Readily apparent upon perusal of the records is that the OCT was issued in 1976, long after the Kasulatan was executed way back in 1954. Thus, a portion of the property registered in Eduardos name arising from the grant of free patent did not actually belong to him. The utilization of the Torrens system to perpetrate fraud cannot be accorded judicial sanction. Time and again, this Court has ruled that the principle of indefeasibility of a Torrens title does not apply where fraud attended the issuance of the title, as was conclusively established in this case. The Torrens title does not furnish a shied for fraud.47 Registration does not vest title. It is not a mode of acquiring ownership but is merely evidence of such title over a particular property. It does not give the holder any better right than what he actually

has, especially if the registration was done in bad faith. The effect is that it is as if no registration was made at all.48 In fact, this Court has ruled that a decree of registration cut off or extinguished a right acquired by a person when such right refers to a lien or encumbrance on the landnot to the right of ownership thereofwhich was not annotated on the certificate of title issued thereon.49 Issuance of and T-9327-P(M), Valid TCT Nos. T-9326-P(M)

The validity of the issuance of two TCTs, one for the portion sold to the predecessor-in-interest of the Cruzes and the other for the portion retained by petitioners, is readily apparent from Section 53 of the Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1529 or the Property Registration Decree. It provides: SEC 53. Presentation of owners duplicate upon entry of new certificate. No voluntary instrument shall be registered by the Register of Deeds, unless the owners duplicate certificate is presented with such instrument, except in cases expressly provided for in this Decree or upon order of the court, for cause shown. The production of the owners duplicate certificate, whenever any voluntary instrument is presented for registration, shall be conclusive authority from the registered owner to the Register of Deeds to enter a new certificate or to make a memorandum of registration in accordance with such instrument, and the new certificate or memorandum shall be binding upon the registered owner and upon all persons claiming under him, in favor of every purchaser for value and in good faith. In all cases of registration procured by fraud, the owner may pursue all his legal and equitable remedies against the parties to such fraud without prejudice, however, to the rights of any innocent holder of the decree of registration on the original petition or application, any subsequent registration procured by the presentation of a forged duplicate certificate of title, or a forged deed or instrument, shall be null and void. (emphasis supplied) Petitioners argue that the issuance of the TCTs violated the third paragraph of Section 53 of P.D. No. 1529. The argument is baseless. It must be noted that the provision speaks of forged duplicate certificate of title and forged

deed or instrument. Neither instance obtains in this case. What the Cruzes presented before the Register of Deeds was the very genuine owners duplicate certificate earlier deposited by Banaag, Eduardos attorney-in-fact, with RBSP. Likewise, the instruments of conveyance are authentic, not forged. Section 53 has never been clearer on the point that as long as the owners duplicate certificate is presented to the Register of Deeds together with the instrument of conveyance, such presentation serves as conclusive authority to the Register of Deeds to issue a transfer certificate or make a memorandum of registration in accordance with the instrument. The records of the case show that despite the efforts made by the Cruzes in persuading the heirs of Eduardo to allow them to secure a separate TCT on the claimed portion, their ownership being amply evidenced by the Kasulatan and Sinumpaang Salaysay where Eduardo himself acknowledged the sales in favor of Ricardo, the heirs adamantly rejected the notion of separate titling. This prompted the Cruzes to approach the bank manager of RBSP for the purpose of protecting their property right. They succeeded in persuading the latter to lend the owners duplicate certificate. Despite the apparent irregularity in allowing the Cruzes to get hold of the owners duplicate certificate, the bank officers consented to the Cruzes plan to register the deeds of sale and secure two new separate titles, without notifying the heirs of Eduardo about it. Further, the law on the matter, specifically P.D. No. 1529, has no explicit requirement as to the manner of acquiring the owners duplicate for purposes of issuing a TCT. This led the Register of Deeds of Meycauayan as well as the Central Bank officer, in rendering an opinion on the legal feasibility of the process resorted to by the Cruzes. Section 53 of P.D. No. 1529 simply requires the production of the owners duplicate certificate, whenever any voluntary instrument is presented for registration, and the same shall be conclusive authority from the registered owner to the Register of Deeds to enter a new certificate or to make a memorandum of registration in accordance with such instrument, and the new certificate or memorandum shall be binding upon the registered owner and upon all persons claiming under him, in favor of every purchaser for value and in good faith. Quite interesting, however, is the contention of the heirs of Eduardo that the surreptitious lending of the owners duplicate certificate constitutes fraud

within the ambit of the third paragraph of Section 53 which could nullify the eventual issuance of the TCTs. Yet we cannot subscribe to their position. Impelled by the inaction of the heirs of Eduardo as to their claim, the Cruzes went to the bank where the property was mortgaged. Through its manager and legal officer, they were assured of recovery of the claimed parcel of land since they are the successors-in-interest of the real owner thereof. Relying on the bank officers opinion as to the legality of the means sought to be employed by them and the suggestion of the Central Bank officer that the matter could be best settled between them and the bank, the Cruzes pursued the titling of the claimed portion in the name of Ricardo. The Register of Deeds eventually issued the disputed TCTs. The Cruzes resorted to such means to protect their interest in the property that rightfully belongs to them only because of the bank officers acquiescence thereto. The Cruzes could not have secured a separate TCT in the name of Ricardo without the banks approval. Banks, their business being impressed with public interest, are expected to exercise more care and prudence than private individuals in their dealings, even those involving registered lands.50 The highest degree of diligence is expected, and high standards of integrity and performance are even required of it.51 Indeed, petitioners contend that the mortgagee cannot question the veracity of the registered title of the mortgagor as noted in the owners duplicate certificate, and, thus, he cannot deliver the certificate to such third persons invoking an adverse, prior, and unregistered claim against the registered title of the mortgagor. The strength of this argument is diluted by the peculiar factual milieu of the case. A mortgagee can rely on what appears on the certificate of title presented by the mortgagor and an innocent mortgagee is not expected to conduct an exhaustive investigation on the history of the mortgagors title. This rule is strictly applied to banking institutions. A mortgagee-bank must exercise due diligence before entering into said contract. Judicial notice is taken of the standard practice for banks, before approving a loan, to send representatives to the premises of the land offered as collateral and to investigate who the real owners thereof are.52 Banks, indeed, should exercise more care and prudence in dealing even with registered lands, than private individuals, as their business is one

affected with public interest. Banks keep in trust money belonging to their depositors, which they should guard against loss by not committing any act of negligence that amounts to lack of good faith. Absent good faith, banks would be denied the protective mantle of the land registration statute, Act 496, which extends only to purchasers for value and good faith, as well as to mortgagees of the same character and description.53 Thus, this Court clarified that the rule that persons dealing with registered lands can rely solely on the certificate of title does not apply to banks.54 Bank Liable for Nominal Damages Of deep concern to this Court, however, is the fact that the bank lent the owners duplicate of the OCT to the Cruzes when the latter presented the instruments of conveyance as basis of their claim of ownership over a portion of land covered by the title. Simple rationalization would dictate that a mortgagee-bank has no right to deliver to any stranger any property entrusted to it other than to those contractually and legally entitled to its possession. Although we cannot dismiss the banks acknowledgment of the Cruzes claim as legitimized by instruments of conveyance in their possession, we nonetheless cannot sanction how the bank was inveigled to do the bidding of virtual strangers. Undoubtedly, the banks cooperative stance facilitated the issuance of the TCTs. To make matters worse, the bank did not even notify the heirs of Eduardo. The conduct of the bank is as dangerous as it is unthinkably negligent. However, the aspect does not impair the right of the Cruzes to be recognized as legitimate owners of their portion of the property. Undoubtedly, in the absence of the banks participation, the Register of Deeds could not have issued the disputed TCTs. We cannot find fault on the part of the Register of Deeds in issuing the TCTs as his authority to issue the same is clearly sanctioned by law. It is thus ministerial on the part of the Register of Deeds to issue TCT if the deed of conveyance and the original owners duplicate are presented to him as there appears on theface of the instruments no badge of irregularity or nullity.55 If there is someone to blame for the shortcut resorted to by the Cruzes, it would be the bank itself whose manager and legal officer helped the Cruzes to facilitate the issuance of the TCTs.1avvphi1 The bank should not have allowed complete strangers to take possession of the owners duplicate certificate even if the purpose is merely for

photocopying for a danger of losing the same is more than imminent. They should be aware of the conclusive presumption in Section 53. Such act constitutes manifest negligence on the part of the bank which would necessarily hold it liable for damages under Article 1170 and other relevant provisions of the Civil Code.56 In the absence of evidence, the damages that may be awarded may be in the form of nominal damages. Nominal damages are adjudicated in order that a right of the plaintiff, which has been violated or invaded by the defendant, may be vindicated or recognized, and not for the purpose of indemnifying the plaintiff for any loss suffered by him.57 This award rests on the mortgagors right to rely on the banks observance of the highest diligence in the conduct of its business. The act of RBSP of entrusting to respondents the owners duplicate certificate entrusted to it by the mortgagor without even notifying the mortgagor and absent any prior investigation on the veracity of respondents claim and character is a patent failure to foresee the risk created by the act in view of the provisions of Section 53 of P.D. No. 1529. This act runs afoul of every banks mandate to observe the highest degree of diligence in dealing with its clients. Moreover, a mortgagor has also the right to be afforded due process before deprivation or diminution of his property is effected as the OCT was still in the name of Eduardo. Notice and hearing are indispensable elements of this right which the bank miserably ignored. Under the circumstances, the Court believes the award of P50,000.00 as nominal damages is appropriate. Five-Year Prohibition or encumbrance under the Public Land Act against alienation

One vital point. Apparently glossed over by the courts below and the parties is an aspect which is essential, spread as it is all over the record and intertwined with the crux of the controversy, relating as it does to the validity of the dispositions of the subject property and the mortgage thereon. Eduardo was issued a title in 1976 on the basis of his free patent application. Such application implies the recognition of the public dominion character of the land and, hence, the five (5)-year prohibition imposed by the Public Land Act against alienation or encumbrance of the land covered by a free patent or homestead58 should have been considered.

The deed of sale covering the fifty (50)-square meter right of way executed by Eduardo on 18 March 1981 is obviously covered by the proscription, the free patent having been issued on 8 October 1976. However, petitioners may recover the portion sold since the prohibition was imposed in favor of the free patent holder. In Philippine National Bank v. De los Reyes,59 this Court ruled squarely on the point, thus: While the law bars recovery in a case where the object of the contract is contrary to law and one or both parties acted in bad faith, we cannot here apply the doctrine of in pari delicto which admits of an exception, namely, that when the contract is merely prohibited by law, not illegal per se, and the prohibition is designed for the protection of the party seeking to recover, he is entitled to the relief prayed for whenever public policy is enhanced thereby. Under the Public Land Act, the prohibition to alienate is predicated on the fundamental policy of the State to preserve and keep in the family of the homesteader that portion of public land which the State has gratuitously given to him, and recovery is allowed even where the land acquired under the Public Land Act was sold and not merely encumbered, within the prohibited period.60 The sale of the 553 square meter portion is a different story. It was executed in 1954, twenty-two (22) years before the issuance of the patent in 1976. Apparently, Eduardo disposed of the portion even before he thought of applying for a free patent. Where the sale or transfer took place before the filing of the free patent application, whether by the vendor or the vendee, the prohibition should not be applied. In such situation, neither the prohibition nor the rationale therefor which is to keep in the family of the patentee that portion of the public land which the government has gratuitously given him, by shielding him from the temptation to dispose of his landholding, could be relevant. Precisely, he had disposed of his rights to the lot even before the government could give the title to him. The mortgage executed in favor of RBSP is also beyond the pale of the prohibition, as it was forged in December 1981 a few months past the period of prohibition. WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED, subject to the modifications herein. Respondent Rural Bank of San Pascual is hereby ORDERED to PAY petitioners Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) by way of nominal damages. Respondents Consuelo Cruz and Rosalina

Cruz-Bautista are hereby DIVESTED of title to, and respondent Register of Deeds of Meycauayan, Bulacan is accordingly ORDERED to segregate, the portion of fifty (50) square meters of the subject Lot No. 2204, as depicted in the approved plan covering the lot, marked as Exhibit "A", and to issue a new title covering the said portion in the name of the petitioners at the expense of the petitioners. No costs. SO ORDERED.

Philippine National Bank vs. Pike, 470 SCRA 328 (2005)


PHILIPPINE NATIONAL BANK, P e t i t i o n e r, vs.. NORMAN Y. PIKE R e s p o n d e n t. SECOND DIVISION G.R. No. 157845 September 20, 2005

DE C I S I O N

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: This petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, seeks to reverse the Decision[1] dated 19 December 2002, and the Resolution[2] dated 02 April 2003, both of the Court of Appeals, in CA-G.R. CV No. 59389, which affirmed with modification the Decision[3] rendered by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 07 of Manila, dated 10 January 1997, in Civil Case No. 94-68821 in favor of herein respondent Norman Pike (Pike).

The case stemmed from a complaint[4] filed by herein respondent Pike for damages[5] against Philippine National Bank (PNB) on 04 January 1994.

Complainant Pike often traveled to and from Japan as a gay entertainer in said country. Sometime in 1991, he opened U.S. Dollar Savings Account No. 0265-704591-0 with herein petitioner PNB Buendia branch for which he was issued a corresponding passbook. The complaint alleged in substance that before complainant Pike left for Japan on 18 March 1993, he kept the aforementioned passbook inside a cabinet under lock and key, in his home; that on 19 April 1993, a few hours after he arrived from Japan, he discovered that some of his valuables were missing including the passbook; that he immediately reported the incident to the police which led to the arrest and prosecution of a certain Mr. Joy Manuel

Davasol; that complainant Pike also discovered that Davasol made two (2) unauthorized withdrawals from his U.S. Dollar Savings Account No. 0265704591-0, both times at the PNB Buendia branch on the following dates:

DATE 31 March 1993 05 April 1993 TOTAL

AMOUNT $3,500.00 4,000.00 $7,500.00

that on several occasions, complainant Pike went to defendant PNBs Buendia branch and verbally protested the unauthorized withdrawals and likewise demanded the return of the total withdrawn amount of U.S. $7,500.00, on the ground that he never authorized anybody to withdraw from his account as the signatures appearing on the subject withdrawal slips were clearly forgeries; that defendant PNB refused to credit said amount back to complainants U.S. Dollar Savings Account without justifiable reason, and instead, defendant bank wrote him that it exercised due diligence in the handling of said account; and that on 06 May 1993, complainant Pike wrote defendant PNB simply to request that the holdaccount be lifted so that he may withdraw the remaining balance left in his U.S.$ Savings Account and nothing else.

On the other hand, defendant PNB alleged, in its Motion to Dismiss[6] of 18 April 1994, a counterstatement of facts. Its factual allegations read:

. . . On March 15, 1993 at PNB Buendia Branch, Mr. Norman Y. Pike, together with a certain Joy Davasol went to see PNB AVP Mr. Lorenzo T. Val (sic), Jr. purposely to withdraw the amount of $2,000.00. Mr. Pike also informed AVP Val that he is leaving for abroad (Japan) and made verbal instruction to honor all withdrawals to be transmitted by his Talent Manager and Choreographer, Joy Davasol who shall present pre-signed withdrawal slips bearing his (Pikes) signature. . .

On April 19, 1993, a certain Josephine Balmaceda, who claimed to be plaintiffs sister executed an affidavit . . . . stating therein that they discovered today (April 19, 1993) the lost (sic) of her brothers passbook issued by PNB on account of robbery, committed in the residence/office of her brother, promptly reporting the matter to the police authorities and her brother cannot report the matter to the Bank because he was currently in Japan and therefore requesting the Bank to issue a hold-order on her brothers passbook. But a copy of an alarm (Police) Report dated April 19, 1993. . . stated that plaintiff (who was the one who reported the matter) after one month in Japan, he (complainant) arrived yesterday. . . On April 26, 1993, Atty. Nathaniel Ifurung who claims to be plaintiffs counsel sent a demand letter to VP Violeta T. Suquila (then VP and Manager of PNB Buendia Branch) demanding the bank to credit back the amount of US$7,500.00 which were withdrawn on March 31, 1993 and April 5, 1993, because his clients signatures were forged and the withdrawal made thereon were unauthorized. . . On May 5, 1993, Mr. Norman Y. Pike executed an affidavit of loss (sic) Dollar Account Passbook and requested the PNB to replace the same and allow him to make withdrawals thereon. He stated that his passbook was stolen together with other valuables which he discovered only in the early morning of April 19, 1993. . . On May 6, 1993, plaintiff Norman Y. Pike wrote a letter. . . addressed to the Manager of PNB, Buendia Branch the full contents of said letter hereto quoted as follows: May 6, 1993 The Manager Philippine National Bank Buendia Branch Paseo de Roxas cor. Gil Puyat Street Makati, Metro Manila

Sir: In connection with the request of my sister, Mrs. Josephine P. Balmaceda for the hold-order on my dollar savings passbook No. 265-704591-0, I am now requesting your good office to lift the same so I can withdraw the remaining balance of my passbook which was reported lost sometime in March of this year. I also promise not to hold responsible the bank and its officers for the withdrawal made on my dollar savings passbook on March 19 and April 5, 1993 respectively as a result of the lost (sic) of my passbook. Sgd. NORMAN Y. PIKE Depositor Philippine Passport No. H918022 Issued at Manila on Sept. 6, 1990 Place of Issuance

On the same day May 6, 1993 Plaintiff Norman Y. Pike was allowed by defendant bank to withdraw the remaining balance from his passbook . A letter dated May 18, 1993 was sent to Plaintiffs counsel by PNB stating that the Bank regrets that it cannot accede to such request inasmuch as the Bank exercised due diligence of a good father to his family in the handling of transactions covering the deposit account of Mr. Pike . On July 2, 1993, Plaintiffs counsel sent a letter to PNB Vice Pres. Suquila denying that his client made any such promise not to hold responsible the bank and its officers for the withdrawal made .

A letter dated July 29, 1993 was sent to Plaintiffs counsel by VP Suquila stating that plaintiffs withdrawal of the remaining balance of his account with the Bank effectively estops him from claiming on the alleged unauthorized withdrawals.

The trial court, in its decision dated 10 January 1997, made the following findings of fact:

. . . [T]hat the bank is responsible for such unauthorized withdrawals. The court is not impressed with the defense put up by the bank. Its contention that the withdrawals were authorized by the plaintiff because there was an arrangement between the bank represented by its Asst. Vice President Lorenzo Bal, Jr. and the depositor Norman Y. Pike to the effect that pre-signed withdrawal slips, that is, withdrawal slip signed by the depositor in the presence of Mr. Bal whereby it would be made to appear that it was the depositor himself who presented the same to the bank despite the fact that it was another person who presented the same should be honored by the bank cannot be sanctioned by the court. Firstly, the court is not satisfied that there was indeed such an arrangement. . . It is Mr. Bals contention that such an arrangement although not ordinarily entered into is still a legal procedure of the bank and is resorted to accommodate the depositors specially honored and valued depositor at that. ... The court compared the signatures in the questioned withdrawal slips with the known signatures of the depositor and is convinced that the signatures in the unauthorized withdrawal slips do not correspond to the true signatures of the depositor.

From the evidence that it received, the court is convinced that the bank was negligent in the performance of its duties such that unauthorized withdrawals were made in the deposit of plaintiff Norman Y. Pike.[7]

The dispositive portion of the trial courts decision reads:

WHEREFORE and considering the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant and ordering the defendant to pay the following: 1. 2. 3. 4. US$7,500.00 plus interest thereon at the rate of 12% per annum until the full amount is paid; P25,000.00 for and as attorneys fees; P50,000.00 as moral damages and P50,000.00 as exemplary damages; and Plus the costs of suit.[8]

Defendant PNBs motion for reconsideration was subsequently denied by the court a quo.[9]

On appeal, the Court of Appeals issued the assailed decision dated 19 December 2002, affirming the findings of the RTC that indeed defendantappellant PNB was negligent in exercising the diligence required of a business imbued with public interest such as that of the banking industry, however, it modified the rate of interest and award for damages, to wit:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision dated January 10, 1997 issued by the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 7, in Civil Case No. 94-68821, is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION, as follows: 1. Ordering appellant, the Philippine National Bank, Buendia Branch, to refund appellee the amount of $7,500.00 plus interest of 6% per annum to be computed from the date of the filing of the complaint which interest rate shall become 12% per annum from the time the judgment in this case becomes final and executory until its satisfaction; The award for moral damages is reduced to P20,000.00; and The award for exemplary damages is likewise reduced to P20,000.00.

2.

3.

Costs against appellant.[10]

The appellate court held that:

Appellant claims that appellee personally talked to its officers to allow Joy Manuel Davasol to make withdrawals. Appellee even left pre-signed withdrawal slips before he went to Japan. However, appellant could have told appellee to authorize the withdrawal by a representative by indicating the same at the space provided at the back portion of the withdrawal slip. This operational flaw was observed by the trial court, when it ruled:

The court cannot also understand why the bank did not require the correct, proper and the usual procedure of requiring a depositor who is withdrawing the money through a representative to fill up the back portion of the withdrawal slips, which form was issued by the bank itself.

A perusal of the records discloses that appellee had previously authorized withdrawals by a representative. However, these withdrawals were properly accompanied by a withdrawal by a representative form aside from a handwritten request by appellee to allow such withdrawals by his representative, or a typewritten letterrequest for withdrawal by a representative. Certainly, appellant lacked the due care and caution required of managers and employees of a firm engaged in so sensitive and demanding business as banking. In its desire to be exonerated from liability, appellant advances the argument that, granting negligence on its part, appellee condoned this negligence as shown in his letter dated May 6, 1993, wherein appellee purportedly undertook, not to hold the bank and its officers responsible for the unauthorized withdrawals from his account. We do not agree. It should be emphasized that while the appellee admitted signing the letter dated May 6, 1993, he, however, denied having undertook (sic) to exonerate the appellant from liability for the unauthorized withdrawals. Appellee questioned the second paragraph of the said letter as being superimposed so that his signature overlapped the text of the second paragraph of said letter. A waiver of right, in order to be valid, should be in a language that clearly manifests his desire to do so. In the instant case, appellees filing of the instant action is inconsistent with appellants contention that he

had waived his right to question appellants negligent act of allowing the unauthorized withdrawals from his account.[11]

Defendant-appellant PNB filed a motion for reconsideration. In a Resolution dated 02 April 2003, the Court of Appeals denied said motion.

Hence, this petition.

Petitioner PNB now seeks the review of the aforequoted decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals predicated on the following issues:

I. WHETHER OR NOT THE PRINCIPLE OF ESTOPPEL WAS NOT PROPERLY APPLIED IN THIS CASE; II. WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENT HAVE SUBSTANTIALLY PROVEN THAT THE SIGNATURES APPEARING ON THE TWO (2) QUESTIONED PRESIGNED WITHDRAWAL SLIP FORMS ARE ALL FORGERIES IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 22, RULE 132 OF THE REVISED RULES OF COURT; and III.

WHETHER OR NOT MORAL AND EXEMPLARY DAMAGES CAN BE AWARDED AGAINST A PARTY IN GOOD FAITH.

Petitioner PNB contends that due to the verbal instructions[12] of respondent Pike, a valued depositor, it allowed the withdrawal by another person. Plus, the fact that said respondent withdrew the remaining balance in his US Savings Account and executed a waiver releasing petitioner PNB from any liability due to the loss of the funds should rightly negate a finding of negligence on its part. Accordingly, petitioner PNB claims that the appellate court, as well as the trial court erred in holding that the withdrawals in question were unauthorized as the signatures appearing on the subject withdrawal slips were forgeries. Petitioner PNB, therefore, argues that it should not be held liable for the amount withdrawn from the account of respondent Pike in the sum of $7,500.00, as well as for moral and exemplary damages.

A priori, it is quite evident that the petition is anchored on a plea to review or re-examine the factual conclusions reached by the trial court and affirmed by the Court of Appeals, and for this Court to hold otherwise. Whether: 1) respondent Pikes signatures appearing on the pertinent withdrawal slips used by Joy Manuel Davasol[13] to withdraw the amount of $7,500.00, were forgeries, as found by the trial court and affirmed by the Court of Appeals, or were authentic as claimed by petitioner bank; and 2) respondent Pike in fact executed a waiver absolving petitioner bank from any legal responsibility due to the unauthorized withdrawals, as maintained by petitioner bank, or the paragraph containing said waiver was intercalated by some other person, thus, amounting no waiver at all, as held by the courts a quo.

are questions of fact and not of law. Inexorably, these issues call for an inquiry into the facts and evidence on record. This, as we have so often held, we cannot do.

Elementary is the rule that this Court is not the appropriate venue to consider anew the factual issues as it is not a trier of facts, and, it generally does not weigh anew the evidence already passed upon by the Court of Appeals.[14] When this Court is tasked to go over once more the evidence presented by both parties, and analyze, assess and weigh them to ascertain if the trial court and the appellate court were correct in according superior credit to this or that piece of evidence of one party or the other, the Court cannot and will not do the same.[15] Such task is foreclosed by the rule enunciated under Section 1 of Rule 45[16] of the Rules of Court:

SECTION 1. Filing of petition with Supreme Court. - . . . The petition shall raise only questions of law[17] which must be distinctly set forth.

We have oft ruled that factual findings of the Court of Appeals are conclusive on the parties and not reviewable by this Court and they carry even more weight when the Court of Appeals affirms the factual findings of the trial court,[18] and in the absence of any showing that the findings complained of are totally devoid of support in the evidence on record, or that they are so glaringly erroneous as to constitute serious abuse of discretion, such findings must stand. The courts a quo are in a much better position to evaluate properly the evidence.

Finding no other alternative but to affirm their finding that petitioner PNB negligently allowed the unauthorized withdrawals subject of the case at bar, the instant petition for review must necessarily fail.

At this juncture, it bears emphasizing that negligence of banking institutions should never be countenanced. The negligence here lies in the lackadaisical attitude exhibited by employees of petitioner PNB in their treatment of respondent Pikes US Dollar Savings Account that resulted in the unauthorized withdrawal of $7,500.00. Nevertheless, though its employees may be the ones negligent, a banks liability as an obligor is not merely vicarious but primary, as banks are expected to exercise the highest degree of diligence in the selection and supervision of their employees,[19] and having such obligation, this Court cannot ignore the circumstances surrounding the case at bar how the employees of petitioner PNB turned their heads, nay, closed their eyes to the suspicious circumstances enfolding the two withdrawals subject of the case at bar. It may even be said that they went out of their ways to disregard standard operating procedures formulated to ensure the security of each and every account that they are handling. Petitioner PNB does not deny that the withdrawal slips used were in breach of standard operating procedures of banks in the ordinary and usual course of banking operations as testified to by one of its witnesses, Mr. Lorenzo T. Bal, Assistant Vice President of Petitioner PNBs Buendia branch, on cross-examination[20] he stated thus:

Q:

Mr. Witness, when the original of Exhibit B[21] was presented to you for approval, how many signatures of depositor appears thereon? Two (2) signatures appears (sic) on the face of the withdrawal slip.

A:

Q:

When it (sic) immediately? Yes, sir.

was

(sic)

presented

to

you

A: Q: A: Q:

Are you sure of that? Yes, sir. Because it was pre signed withdrawal slip. What does the signature appear, the word recipient means? Received. So, what you are saying is that, the depositor here signed this even before receiving the amount? Because before the withdrawal was made, Mr. Pike, the depositor came to the bank when he withdrew the $2,000.00 and instructed me or requested us even the supervisor to honor all withdrawal slip. And this is a regular procedure? Yes, sir. Are you sure of that? Yes, sir. Do you have written manual on this particular procedure, Mr. Witness? Of course, that includes regulations of the bank. in the Rules and

A: Q:

A:

Q: A: Q: A: Q:

A:

Q:

Are you are (sic) are very sure of that?

A:

And banking is a fast transaction between the depositor and the bank. And then, is the use of the back portion of the withdrawal slip with a heading of authorization? Normally, a depositor and the bank agrees on certain terms that if you allow withdrawal from his account, his or her account, its enough that the signature of the depositor appears on both spaces in the front side of the withdrawal slip. Even if you do not have the back portion of the withdrawal slip. You are very sure of that? Yes, sir. And that has been done with the other withdrawal slip of Norman Pike as stated or as shown in the Statement of Account? Yes, sir. That withdrawal made by representative? Yes, sir.

Q:

A:

Q: A: Q:

A: Q: A:

From the foregoing, petitioner PNBs witness was utterly remiss in protecting the banks client, as well as the bank itself, when he allowed an account holder to make it appear as if he was the one actually withdrawing from an account and actually receiving the withdrawn amount. Ordinarily, banks allow withdrawal by someone who is not the account holder so long as the account holder authorizes his representative to withdraw and receive from his account by signing on the space provided particularly for such transactions, usually found at the back of

withdrawal slips. As fittingly found by the courts a quo, if indeed, respondent Pike signed the withdrawal slips in the presence of Mr. Lorenzo Bal, petitioner PNBs AVP at its Buendia branch, why did he not call respondent Pikes attention and refer him to the space provided for authorizing representatives to withdraw from and receive the proceeds of such withdrawal? Or, at the very least, sign or initial the same so that he could identify the pre-signed withdrawal slips made by Mr. Pike?

Q:

You are also saying that on March 15, 1993, you likewise met Joy Manuel Dabasol? Yes, sir. And you (sic) also saying on March 15, 1993, you also met Norman Pike, the depositor, Yes, sir. And when did you first met (sic) Norman Pike? March 15 when he withdrew $2,000.00. That was the first time? First time, yes. And Mr. Norman Pike was already transacting with you long before that day, is this correct? For how long was he transacting with you? That was my first time. That was the first time. What I mean is, that he was transacting with the PNB, Buendia Branch long before you met him?

A: Q:

A: Q: A: Q: A: Q:

A: Q:

A: Q:

Maybe.

And the withdrawal made on April 5, 1993 which you approved, you did not look at Exhibit C, the Savings Signature Card Individual? We do not look at that, that is kept in the vault. Yes or no? No, sir.

A: Q: A: Q:

And Mr. witness, Exhibit C-1[22] which is being kept at your vault, also contains a picture? Yes, sir. And the picture of the depositor? Yes, sir. And are you familiar with the identity of the depositor Norman Pike? What particular identity? His appearance? He is gay looking fellow.

A: Q: A: Q:

A: Q: A:

COURT: Answer. You are familiar with his physical appearance? A: Not so much. Because there are so much depositor (sic) in the bank.[23] [Emphasis ours.]

By his own testimony, the witness negated the very reason for the banks bizarre accommodation of the alleged verbal request of respondent Pike that he was a valued client. From the aforequoted, it appears that the witness, Lorenzo Bal, was not even reasonably familiar with respondent Pike, yet, he was ready, willing and able to accommodate the verbal request of said depositor. Worse still, the witness still approved the withdrawal transaction without asking for any proof of identification for the reason that: 1) Davasol was in possession of a pre-signed withdrawal slip; and 2) the witness recognized the signature of respondent Pike even after admitting that he did not bother to counter check the signature on the slip with the specimen signature card of respondent Pike and that he met respondent Pike just once so that he cannot seem to recall what the latter looks like. The ensuing quoted testimony of the same witness will justify a finding of negligence amounting to bad faith, to wit:

Q:

And you also met Joy Manuel Dabasol on March 15? Yes, sir. And can you describe Joy Manuel Dabasol? I cannot recall his face but then he is a Talent manager, because there are so many depositors in the bank. . . .

A: Q: A:

Q:

Mr. witness, you are saying that Mr. Pike, the depositor gave you verbal authority to honor withdrawal by Joy Manuel Dabasol?

A: Q:

Yes, sir. Why did you not require then that Mr. Pike instead sign the authorization portion and that the name of Joy Manuel Dabasol appear thereon with his signature? . . .

A:

I required Mr. Norman Pike to sign the withdrawal slip on the face of the withdrawal slip. But not the authorization portion of the said withdrawal slip? . . .

Q:

A: Q:

No, because that is sufficient already. And is this your normal procedure, Mr. witness? This particular procedure that you conducted? I dont think so. Mr. witness, when on April 5, 1993, when Joy Dabasol came to the office and according to you, you do not remember him, is that correct? I cannot recall his face. . . .

A: Q:

A:

Q:

And he just showed you a withdrawal slip, is this correct? Yes, on April 5.

A:

Q:

Did you require him to produce any Identification Card, yes or no? No. And how did you know then that it was Joy Dabasol who was making the withdrawal on April 5? Because the presented to me. presigned withdrawal slip was

A: Q:

A:

Q: A:

Is that all your basis? Yes, sir. Because his signature appears. . . .

Q:

Mr. witness, this alleged authority given to you by Norman Pike to honor withdrawal by Joy Manuel Dabasol, was that in writing? It was verbally requested. And that is SPO (sic) of PNB, Buendia Branch to accept verbal authorities? Yes. Is that Standard Operating Procedure? It is not SPO, but when you knew the client, Your Honor, you have to honor also the trust and confidence. Let us say if you According to you, you met Norman Pike only on March 15, 1993 and immediately you allowed him to withdraw through pre-signed withdrawal slip?

A: Q:

A: Q: A:

Q:

A:

Yes, Your Honor. Because a depositor requested you to honor his signature, you have to do that or else willand besides the request is for purpose of expediency, Your Honor. Because most often than that, he is out of the country, in Japan. And his Talent Manager is the one managing the recruiting agency. The money will be used in the operating expenses. . . .

Q:

You did not even bother to look at the Savings Signature Card Individual, yes or no? No, sir.[24] [Emphases supplied.]

A:

Having admitted that pre-signed withdrawal slips do not constitute the normal procedure with respect to withdrawals by representatives should have already put petitioner PNBs employees on guard. Rather than readily validating and permitting said withdrawals, they should have proceeded more cautiously. Clearly, petitioner banks employee, Lorenzo T. Bal, an Assistant Vice President at that, was exceedingly careless in his treatment of respondent Pikes savings account.

From the foregoing, the evidence clearly showed that the petitioner bank did not exercise the degree of diligence that it ought to have exercised in dealing with their clients.

With banks, the degree of diligence required, contrary to the position of petitioner PNB, is more than that of a good father of a family considering that the business of banking is imbued with public interest due to the nature of their functions. The stability of banks largely depends on the confidence

of the people in the honesty and efficiency of banks. Thus, the law imposes on banks a high degree of obligation to treat the accounts of its depositors with meticulous care, always having in mind the fiduciary nature of banking. Section 2 of Republic Act No. 8791,[25] which took effect on 13 June 2000, makes a categorical declaration that the State recognizes the fiduciary nature of banking that requires high standards of integrity and performance.[26]

Though passed long after the unauthorized withdrawals in this case, the aforequoted provision is a statutory affirmation of Supreme Court decisions already in esse at the time of such withdrawals. We elucidated in the 1990 case of Simex International, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,[27] that the bank is under obligation to treat the accounts of its depositors with meticulous care, always having in mind the fiduciary nature of their relationship.[28]

Likewise, in the case of The Consolidated Bank and Trust Corporation v. Court of Appeals,[29] we clarified that said fiduciary relationship means that the banks obligation to observe highest standards of integrity and performance is deemed written into every deposit agreement between a bank and its depositor. The fiduciary nature of banking requires banks to assume a degree of diligence higher than that of a good father of a family. Article 1172 of the New Civil Code states that the degree of diligence required of an obligor[30] is that prescribed by law or contract, and absent such stipulation then the diligence of a family. In every case, the depositor expects the bank to treat his account with the utmost fidelity, whether such accounts consist only of a few hundred pesos or of millions of pesos.[31]

Anent the issue of the propriety of the award of damages in this case, petitioner PNB asseverates that there was no evidence to prove that respondent Pike suffered anguish, embarrassment and mental sufferings[32] due to its acts in allowing the alleged unauthorized withdrawals. And, having relied on the instructions of a valued depositor, petitioner PNB likewise avers that its

actions were made in good faith, for this reason, there is no factual basis for said award.

Petitioner PNBs assertions fail to impress us.

The award of moral and exemplary damages is left to the sound discretion of the court, and if such discretion is well exercised, as in this case, it will not be disturbed on appeal.[33] In the case of Philippine Telegraph & Telephone Corporation v. Court of Appeals,[34] we had the occasion to reiterate the conditions to be met in order that moral damages may be recovered. In said case we stated:

An award of moral damages would require, firstly, evidence of besmirched reputation, or physical, mental or psychological suffering sustained by the claimant; secondly, a culpable act or omission factually established; thirdly, proof that the wrongful act or omission of the defendant is the proximate cause of the damages sustained by the claimant; and fourthly, that the case is predicated on any of the instances expressed or envisioned by Articles 2219[35] and 2220[36] of the Civil Code.

Specifically, in culpa contractual or breach of contract, as here, moral damages are recoverable only if the defendant has acted fraudulently or in bad faith,[37] or is found guilty of gross negligence amounting to bad faith,[38] or in wanton disregard of his contractual obligations.[39] Verily, the breach must be wanton, reckless, malicious, or in bad faith, oppressive or abusive.[40]

There is no reason to disturb the trial courts finding of petitioner banks employees negligence in their treatment of respondent Pikes account. In the case on hand, the Court of Appeals sustained, and rightly so, that an award of moral damages is warranted. For, as found by said appellate court, citing the case of Prudential Bank v. Court of Appeals,[41] the banks negligence is a result of lack of due care and caution required of managers and employees of a firm engaged in so sensitive and demanding business, as banking, hence, the award of P20,000.00 as moral damages, is proper.

The award of exemplary damages is also proper as a warning to petitioner PNB and all concerned not to recklessly disregard their obligation to exercise the highest and strictest diligence in serving their depositors.

Finally, the aforestated grant of exemplary damages entitles respondent Pike the award of attorney's fees in the amount of P20,000.00 and the award of P10,000.00 for litigation expenses.[42]

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision dated 19 December 2002, and the Resolution dated 02 April 2003, both of the Court of Appeals, in CA-G.R. CV No. 59389, which affirmed with modification the Decision rendered by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 07 of Manila, dated 10 January 1997, in Civil Case No. 94-68821, are hereby AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that petitioner PNB is directed to pay respondent Pike additional 1) P20,000.00 representing attorneys fees; and 2) P10,000.00 representing expenses of litigation. Costs against petitioner PNB.

SO ORDERED.

Cadiz vs. Court of Appeals, 474 SCRA 232 (2005)


SECOND DIVISION

ROMEO C. CADIZ, CARLITO ' G.R. No. 153784 BONGKINGKI and PRISCO GLORIA IV, Petitioners, Present:

PUNO, J., - versus- Chairman, AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, CALLEJO, SR. COURT OF APPEALS, and TINGA, and PHILIPPINE COMMERCIAL CHICO-NAZARIO, JJ. INTERNATIONAL BANK (Now EQUITABLE PCIBANK), Respondents. Promulgated: October 25, 2005 x -------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

TINGA, J.: Employees who abuse their position for fiduciary gain cannot be shielded from the consequences of their wrongdoing even on account of the bank's

operational laxities that may have provided the gateway for their shenanigans. Their misconduct provides the bank with cause for the termination of their employment. The facts follow. Petitioners Romeo Cadiz (Cadiz'), Carlito Bongkingki (Bongkingki') and Prisco Gloria IV (Gloria') were employed as signature verifier, bookkeeper, and foreign currency denomination clerk/bookkeeper-reliever, respectively, in the main office branch (MOB) of Philippine Commercial International Bank (respondent bank).

The anomalies in question arose when Rosalina B. Alqueza (Alqueza) filed a complaint with PCIB for the alleged non-receipt of a Six Hundred Dollar ($600.00) demand draft drawn against it which was purchased by her husband from Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. Upon verification, it was uncovered that the demand draft was deposited on 10 June 1988 with FCDU Savings Account (S/A) No. 1083-4, an account under the name of Sonia Alfiscar (Alfiscar). Further investigation revealed that the demand draft, together with four (4) other checks, was made to appear as only one deposit covered by HSBC Check No. 979120 for One Thousand Two Hundred Thirty-two Dollars (US$1,232.00).

The Branch Manager, Ismael R. Sandig, then presided over a series of meetings, wherein Cadiz, Bongkingki and Gloria allegedly verbally admitted their participation in a scheme to divert funds intended for other accounts using the Savings Account of Alfiscar. Subsequently, Cadiz allegedly paid Alqueza P12,690.00, the peso equivalent of US$600, but insisted that the corresponding receipt be issued in Alfiscar's name instead.

On account of these allegations, a special audit examination was conducted by the bank. On 31 January 1989, the internal auditors of the bank, headed by Lizza G. Baylon, submitted their findings in an official report. The auditors determined that as early as July 1987, petitioner Cadiz had reserved the savings account in the name of Sonia Alfiscar. The account was opened on

27 November 1987 and closed on 23 June 1988. Twenty-five (25) deposit slips involving the account were posted by Bongkingki while sixteen (16) deposit slips were posted by Gloria. A verification of the deposit slips yielded findings of miscoded checks, forged signatures, non-validation of deposit slips by the tellers, wrongful deposit of second-endorsed checks into foreign currency deposit accounts, the deposit slips which do not bear the required approval of bank officers, and withdrawals made either on the day of deposit or the following banking day.[1]

In view of such findings, show-cause memoranda[2] were served on petitioners, requiring them to explain within seventy-two (72) hours why no disciplinary action should be taken against them in connection with the results of the special audit examination. On 22 March 1989, petitioners submitted their written explanations.[3] Not satisfied with their explanations, respondent bank in memoranda[4] all dated 22 June 1989 dismissed petitioners from employment for violation of Article III Section 1 B-2 and Article III Section 1-C of the Code of Discipline.

Petitioners lodged a complaint before the labor arbiter for illegal dismissal on 18 September 1989. Labor Arbiter Ernesto S. Dinopol adjudged that petitioners were illegally dismissed and ordered their reinstatement and payment of backwages. This conclusion was based on the notices of dismissal, which, to the mind of the labor arbiter, was couched in general terms and without explaining how the rules were violated. The labor arbiter also attributed petitioners' acts in fraudulently coding several deposit slips as '1511 (immediately withdrawable) as mere procedural inadequacies, with the fault attributable to respondent bank for its laxity.[5]

The labor arbiter's Decision was reversed on appeal before the Second Division of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), which, in a Decision[6] dated 30 June 1994, ordered the dismissal of the petition. In doing so, the NLRC departed from the labor arbiter's finding of facts and concluded that petitioners were dismissed for just cause. Dismissing petitioners' appeal, the Court of Appeals Ninth Division similarly determined

on the basis of substantial evidence that petitioners were validly terminated in its own Decision[7] dated 13 July 2001. After the appellate court denied petitioner's motion for reconsideration, the matter was brought before this Court in a Petition for Review on Certiorari.[8]

The issues to be resolved are whether the Court of Appeals erred in not sustaining the findings of the labor arbiter and upholding those of the NLRC and whether the Court of Appeals erred in dismissing the petition by ignoring petitioners' claims that they were dismissed without just cause and due process.[9]

In its Comment,[10] respondent bank seeks to have the petition dismissed inasmuch as all the issues raised herein involve questions of fact. We note that as a general rule, only questions of law may be brought upon this Court in a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. This Court is not a trier of facts, and as such is tasked to calibrate and assess the probative weight of evidence adduced by the parties during trial all over again.[11]

However, if there are competing factual findings by the different triers of fact, such as those made in this case by the labor arbiter on one hand, and those of the NLRC and Court of Appeals on the other hand, this Court is compelled to go over the records of the case, as well as the submissions of the parties, and resolve the factual issues.[12] With this in mind, we shall now proceed to examine the decisions under review.

The general thesis as laid down by the NLRC and Court of Appeals is that petitioners had surreptitiously diverted funds deposited by depositors to S/A No. 1083-4 which was under their control and disposition. On the other hand, a perusal of the labor arbiter's Decision reveals a different perspective from which the case was approached. While the labor arbiter conceded that petitioners Bongkingki and Gloria had miscoded several deposit slips, rendering them immediately withdrawable, he characterized the errors as 'mere procedural inadequacies' which were preventable had management exercised greater control over its employees.[13]

Far from petitioners' thrust, the miscoding of deposit slips cannot be downplayed as 'mere procedural inadequacies. After all, it is such miscoding that precipitated the fraudulent withdrawals in the first place. The act operated as the first indispensable step towards the commission of fraud on the bank.

More disturbing though is the labor arbiter's willingness to acquit petitioners of culpability on account of the purported negligence of the bank. It is similar to concluding that the bank guards, and not the burglars, bear primary culpability for a bank robbery. Whatever liability or responsibility was expected of the bank stands as an issue separate from the liability of the recreant bank employees. Even assuming that the bank observed less-thanideal controls over the security of its operations, such laxity does not serve as the carte blanche signal for the bank employees to take advantage of safeguard control lapses and perpetrate chicanery on their employer.

The labor arbiter also evaluated the bank's claim that Cadiz had reimbursed the amount of $600 to the aggrieved depositor Alqueza while making it appear that it was Alfiscar who had actually made the refund. In disbelieving this claim, the Labor Arbiter concluded that 'it is unthinkable for a lowly bank employee to impose his will upon his high and mighty employer.[14]

This pronouncement is revelatory of absurd logic. The notion that a lowly employee will never countermand the will or interests of the employer is sufficiently rebutted by any labor law casebook, any omnibus of our labor jurisprudence, and the evolution of the human experience that disquiets persons from unhesitatingly acceding to the presumptive good faith of others. It is an accepted premise of life and jurisprudence that persons are capable, upon impure motivations, of taking advantage of others, whether their social lessers, equals, or betters. The necessity of punishment arises from this flaw of human nature. This philosophic stance of the labor arbiter actually obviates the nature of sin.

Obviously, we are hard-pressed to accord high regard to the labor arbiter's discernment as a trier of facts. Nonetheless, his claim that there were procedural flaws attending the dismissal of petitioners warrants some deliberation.

The labor arbiter ruled that the notices of dismissal served on petitioners was insufficient as it failed to specifically delineate how petitioners had violated the internal rules of the bank. However, the notices do cite the rules which petitioners had violated and refer to the fact that such violations occurred relating to S/A No. 1083-4 account of Sonia Alfiscar and/or Rosalinda Alqueza.

There is no demand that the notices of dismissal themselves be couched in the form and language of judicial or quasi-judicial decisions. What is required is that the employer conduct a formal investigation process, with notices duly served on the employees informing them of the fact of investigation, and subsequently, if warranted, a separate notice of dismissal.[15] Through the formal investigatory process, the employee must be accorded the right to present his/her side, which must be considered and weighed by the employer. The employee must be sufficiently apprised of the

nature of the charge against him/her, so as to be able to intelligently defend against the charges. '

In the instant case, records show that respondent bank complied with the two-notice rule prescribed in Article 277(b) of the Labor Code.[16] Petitioners were given all avenues to present their side and disprove the allegations of respondent bank. An informal meeting was held between the branch manager of MOB, the three petitioners and Mr. Gener, the VicePresident of the PCIB Employees Union. As per report, petitioners admitted having used Alfiscar's account to divert funds intended for other accounts. A special audit investigation was conducted to determine the extent of the fraudulent transactions. Based on the results of the investigation, respondent bank sent show-cause memoranda to petitioners, asking them to explain their lapses, under pain of disciplinary action. The memoranda, which constitute the first notice, specified the various questionable acts committed by petitioners.

Afterwards, petitioners submitted their respective replies to the memoranda. This very well complies with the requirement for hearing, by which petitioners were afforded the opportunity to defend themselves. The second notice came in the form of the termination memoranda, informing petitioners of their dismissal from service. From the foregoing, it is clear that the required procedural due process for their termination was strictly complied with.

All told, we hold that the factual appreciation and conclusions rendered by the labor arbiter are not worthy of adoption by this Court. In contrast, from the factual determinations made by the NLRC and the Court of Appeals, we accept the following facts as proven:

1.

Petitioner Cadiz reserved S/A No. 1083-4 in July 1987 as reflected on respondent bank's 'new account register.

2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Foreign denominated checks payable to other payees were diverted into the said account. The various deposit slips, covering the said checks, did not bear the machine validation of any of the tellers-in-charge. The signatures of the MOB officers appearing on the said deposit slips were in fact forged. The posting of said bank transactions bore the initials of petitioners Bongkingki or Gloria. The deposit slips were coded as '1511 or 'on-us check. Petitioner Cadiz agreed to pay Alqueza the equivalent amount of $600.00 but it was made to appear that Alfiscar paid the said amount. In view of these findings, petitioners were served with showcause memoranda asking them to explain the lapses. Finding their explanations unsatisfactory, petitioners were terminated from employment.

8. 9.

It is from these established facts that we consider the arguments now presented by petitioners. In light of these facts, petitioners' arguments hardly detract from the conclusion that their behavior in the course of the discharge of their duties is clearly malfeasant, and constitutes ground for their termination on account of just cause.

First, petitioners insist that the show-cause memoranda served on them did not impute any fraudulent behavior, but merely lapses. We disagree.

The show-cause memoranda were occasioned by the confidential report prepared by Sandig, as well as the findings of the special audit examination.

The confidential report prepared by Sandig addressed to the Vice-President of respondent bank pertains to the discovery of fraudulent transactions on S/A No.1083-4 involving three employees of respondent bank. The report detailed how the events transpired, including the admissions of petitioners. From there, a special audit examination was conducted to make a thorough investigation of the questioned account. The examination yielded conspicuous findings that anomalous transactions had taken place involving petitioners.

Moreover, the show-cause memoranda respectively served on petitioners clearly indicate that they were being made to answer questions pertaining to possible anomalous behavior on their part. For example, petitioners were asked to explain why they had posted the questioned deposits on the ledger, although there were no teller validations or teller stamps, and also on what basis they considered such transactions to be valid.[17] On the other hand, the show-cause memorandum to Cadiz directly asks him to provide the personal details of Sonia Alfiscar, why he went out of his way to make a special arrangement for the mysterious Alfiscar, and other questions pertaining to the Alfiscar accounts.

We thus cannot give credence to the averments of petitioners that the memoranda pertain to 'lapses' , and not fraudulent transactions. The bank could not have been expected to conclude outright that petitioners were guilty of fraud, despite all the indicia that they indeed were. Certainly, the purpose of the show-cause memoranda was to afford petitioners the opportunity to acquit themselves of culpable responsibility. It would have been quite irresponsible for the bank to have premised the queries therein on irretractable conclusions' that petitioners had been guilty of anomalous transactions.

Second, petitioners contend that they should be relieved of any liability considering that respondent bank did not suffer a pecuniary loss. This claim must obviously fail.

There is jurisprudential support, as noted by the Court of Appeals in citing University of the East v. NLRC[18] that lack of material or pecuniary damages would not in any way mitigate a person's liability nor obliterate the loss of trust and confidence. In the case of Etcuban v. Sulpicio Lines,[19] this Court definitively ruled that:

. . . Whether or not the respondent bank was financially prejudiced is immaterial. Also, what matters is not the amount involved, be it paltry or gargantuan; rather the fraudulent scheme in which the petitioner was involved, which constitutes a clear betrayal of trust and confidence. . . .

Moreover, it cannot be discounted that as bank employees, the responsibilities of petitioners are impressed with a high degree of public interest. Private persons entrust their fortunes to banks, and it would cause a breakdown of the financial order if the judicial system were to leave unsanctioned bank employees who treat depositor's accounts as their own private kitty. Still, petitioners insist that respondent bank never lost trust and confidence in them as it did not place them under preventive suspension, and more tellingly, it even promoted them after the labor arbiter had ordered their reinstatement. Preventive suspension, which is never obligatory on the part of the employer, may be resorted to only when the continued employment of the employee poses 'a serious and imminent threat to the life or property of the employer or of his co-workers.[20] The bank points out that the Alfiscar account, through which the anomalous transactions were coursed, was no longer active at the time the fraud was discovered.[21] Clearly, the bank had reason to conclude that the imminence of the threat posed by the employees was not as vital as it would have been had the dubious account still been open. As to the alleged promotions, the original employer, PCIB, admits that petitioners had been reinstated by reason of the Decision, but such act was

by no means voluntary. PCIB however does not rebut the allegations that Bongkingki and Cadiz were assigned to sensitive positions within the bank after their compulsory reinstatement. This may be so, but the fact that PCIB lost no time in removing the employees from the plantilla after the NLRC reversed the labor arbiter's Decision hardly evinces any continuing trust and confidence on the part of the bank, as maintained by petitioners. Moreover, considering that these reinstated employees were, for the meantime, regular employees of the bank, it is within the discretion of PCIB to reassign them as it sees fit, taking into account the circumstances. Moreover, it would simply be temerarious for the Court to sanction the reinstatement of bank employees who have clearly engaged in anomalous banking practices. The particular fiduciary responsibilities reposed on banks and its employees cannot be emphasized enough. The fiduciary nature of banking[22] is enshrined in Republic Act No. 8791 or the General Banking Law of 2000. Section 2 of the law specifically says that the State recognizes the 'fiduciary nature of banking that requires high standards of integrity and performance.[23] The bank must not only exercise 'high standards of integrity and performance, it must also ensure that its employees do likewise because this is the only way to ensure that the bank will comply with its fiduciary duty.[24]

All given, we affirm the conclusion that petitioners were dismissed for just cause. Loss of trust and confidence is one of the just causes for termination by employer under Article 282 of the Labor Code. The breach of trust must be willful, meaning it must be done intentionally, knowingly, and purposely, without justifiable excuse.[25] Ideally, loss of confidence applies only to cases involving employees occupying positions of trust and confidence or to those situations where the employee is routinely charged with the care and custody of the employer's money or property.[26] Utmost trust and confidence are deemed to have been reposed on petitioners by virtue of the nature of their work.

The facts as established, as well as the need to assert the public interest in safeguarding against bank fraud, militate against the present petition.

WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby DENIED and the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioners.

SO ORDERED.

Far East Bank and Trust Company vs. Pacilan, Jr., 465 SCRA 372 (2005)
Republic SUPREME Manila SECOND DIVISION of the Philippines COURT

FAR EAST BANK AND TRUST G.R. No. 157314 COMPANY, NOW BANK OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, Present: Petitioner, PUNO, J., Chairman, AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, CALLEJO, SR., - versus -TINGA, and CHICO-NAZARIO, JJ. Promulgated: THEMISTOCLES PACILAN, JR., Respondent. July 29, 2005 x--------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

CALLEJO, SR., J.:

Before the Court is the petition for review on certiorari filed by Far East Bank and Trust Company (now Bank of the Philippines Islands) seeking the reversal of the Decision[1] dated August 30, 2002 of the Court of Appeals

(CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 36627 which ordered it, together with its branch accountant, Roger Villadelgado, to pay respondent Themistocles Pacilan, Jr.[2] the total sum of P100,000.00 as moral and exemplary damages. The assailed decision affirmed with modification that of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Negros Occidental, Bacolod City, Branch 54, in Civil Case No. 4908. Likewise sought to be reversed and set aside is the Resolution dated January 17, 2003 of the appellate court, denying petitioner bank's motion for reconsideration.

The case stemmed from the following undisputed facts:

Respondent Pacilan opened a current account with petitioner bank's Bacolod Branch on May 23, 1980. His account was denominated as Current Account No. 53208 (0052-00407-4). The respondent had since then issued several postdated checks to different payees drawn against the said account. Sometime in March 1988, the respondent issued Check No. 2434886 in the amount of P680.00 and the same was presented for payment to petitioner bank on April 4, 1988.

Upon its presentment on the said date, Check No. 2434886 was dishonored by petitioner bank. The next day, or on April 5, 1988, the respondent deposited to his current account the amount of P800.00. The said amount was accepted by petitioner bank; hence, increasing the balance of the respondent's deposit to P1,051.43.

Subsequently, when the respondent verified with petitioner bank about the dishonor of Check No. 2434866, he discovered that his current account was closed on the ground that it was 'improperly handled. The records of petitioner bank disclosed that between the period of March 30, 1988 and April 5, 1988, the respondent issued four checks, to wit: Check No. 2480416 for P6,000.00; Check No. 2480419 for P50.00; Check No. 2434880 for P680.00 and; Check No. 2434886 for P680.00, or a total amount of P7,410.00. At the time, however, the respondent's current account with

petitioner bank only had a deposit of P6,981.43. Thus, the total amount of the checks presented for payment on April 4, 1988 exceeded the balance of the respondent's deposit in his account. For this reason, petitioner bank, through its branch accountant, Villadelgado, closed the respondent's current account effective the evening of April 4, 1988 as it then had an overdraft of P428.57. As a consequence of the overdraft, Check No. 2434886 was dishonored.

On April 18, 1988, the respondent wrote to petitioner bank complaining that the closure of his account was unjustified. When he did not receive a reply from petitioner bank, the respondent filed with the RTC of Negros Occidental, Bacolod City, Branch 54, a complaint for damages against petitioner bank and Villadelgado. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 4908. The respondent, as complainant therein, alleged that the closure of his current account by petitioner bank was unjustified because on the first banking hour of April 5, 1988, he already deposited an amount sufficient to fund his checks. The respondent pointed out that Check No. 2434886, in particular, was delivered to petitioner bank at the close of banking hours on April 4, 1988 and, following normal banking procedure, it (petitioner bank) had until the last clearing hour of the following day, or on April 5, 1988, to honor the check or return it, if not funded. In disregard of this banking procedure and practice, however, petitioner bank hastily closed the respondent's current account and dishonored his Check No. 2434886.

The respondent further alleged that prior to the closure of his current account, he had issued several other postdated checks. The petitioner bank's act of closing his current account allegedly preempted the deposits that he intended to make to fund those checks. Further, the petitioner bank's act exposed him to criminal prosecution for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22.

According to the respondent, the indecent haste that attended the closure of his account was patently malicious and intended to embarrass him. He claimed that he is a Cashier of Prudential Bank and Trust Company, whose

branch office is located just across that of petitioner bank, and a prominent and respected leader both in the civic and banking communities. The alleged malicious acts of petitioner bank besmirched the respondent's reputation and caused him 'social humiliation, wounded feelings, insurmountable worries and sleepless nights' entitling him to an award of damages.

In their answer, petitioner bank and Villadelgado maintained that the respondent's current account was subject to petitioner bank's Rules and Regulations Governing the Establishment and Operation of Regular Demand Deposits which provide that 'the Bank reserves the right to close an account if the depositor frequently draws checks against insufficient funds and/or uncollected deposits' and that 'the Bank reserves the right at any time to return checks of the depositor which are drawn against insufficient funds or for any reason.[3]

They showed that the respondent had improperly and irregularly handled his current account. For example, in 1986, the respondent's account was overdrawn 156 times, in 1987, 117 times and in 1988, 26 times. In all these instances, the account was overdrawn due to the issuance of checks against insufficient funds. The respondent had also signed several checks with a different signature from the specimen on file for dubious reasons.

When the respondent made the deposit on April 5, 1988, it was obviously to cover for issuances made the previous day against an insufficiently funded account. When his Check No. 2434886 was presented for payment on April 4, 1988, he had already incurred an overdraft; hence, petitioner bank rightfully dishonored the same for insufficiency of funds.

After due proceedings, the court a quo rendered judgment in favor of the respondent as it ordered the petitioner bank and Villadelgado, jointly and severally, to pay the respondent the amounts of P100,000.00 as moral damages and P50,000.00 as exemplary damages and costs of suit. In so

ruling, the court a quo also cited petitioner bank's rules and regulations which state that 'a charge of P10.00 shall be levied against the depositor for any check that is taken up as a returned item due to insufficiency of funds' on the date of receipt from the clearing office even if said check is honored and/or covered by sufficient deposit the following banking day. The same rules and regulations also provide that 'a check returned for insufficiency of funds for any reason of similar import may be subsequently recleared for one more time only, subject to the same charges.

According to the court a quo, following these rules and regulations, the respondent, as depositor, had the right to put up sufficient funds for a check that was taken as a returned item for insufficient funds the day following the receipt of said check from the clearing office. In fact, the said check could still be recleared for one more time. In previous instances, petitioner bank notified the respondent when he incurred an overdraft and he would then deposit sufficient funds the following day to cover the overdraft. Petitioner bank thus acted unjustifiably when it immediately closed the respondent's account on April 4, 1988 and deprived him of the opportunity to reclear his check or deposit sufficient funds therefor the following day.

As a result of the closure of his current account, several of the respondent's checks were subsequently dishonored and because of this, the respondent was humiliated, embarrassed and lost his credit standing in the business community. The court a quo further ratiocinated that even granting arguendo that petitioner bank had the right to close the respondent's account, the manner which attended the closure constituted an abuse of the said right. Citing Article 19 of the Civil Code of the Philippines which states that '[e]very person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith and Article 20 thereof which states that '[e]very person who, contrary to law, wilfully or negligently causes damage to another, shall indemnify the latter for the same, the court a quo adjudged petitioner bank of acting in bad faith. It held that, under the foregoing circumstances, the respondent is entitled to an award of moral and exemplary damages.

The decretal portion of the court a quo's decision reads: WHEREFORE, hereby rendered: 1. PREMISES CONSIDERED, judgment is

Ordering the defendants [petitioner bank and Villadelgado], jointly and severally, to pay plaintiff [the respondent] the sum of P100,000.00 as moral damages; Ordering the defendants, jointly and severally, to pay plaintiff the sum of P50,000.00 as exemplary damages plus costs and expenses of the suit; and

2.

3.

Dismissing [the] defendants' counterclaim for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.[4]

On appeal, the CA rendered the Decision dated August 30, 2002, affirming with modification the decision of the court a quo.

The appellate court substantially affirmed the factual findings of the court a quo as it held that petitioner bank unjustifiably closed the respondents' account notwithstanding that its' own rules' and regulations

allow that a check returned for insufficiency of funds or any reason of similar import, may be subsequently recleared for one more time, subject to

standard charges. Like the court a quo, the appellate court observed that in several instances in previous years, petitioner bank would inform the respondent when he incurred an overdraft and allowed him to make a timely deposit to fund the checks that were initially dishonored for insufficiency of funds. However, on April 4, 1988, petitioner bank immediately closed the respondent's account without even notifying him that he had incurred an overdraft. Even when they had already closed his account on April 4, 1988, petitioner bank still accepted the deposit that the respondent made on April 5, 1988, supposedly to cover his checks.

Echoing the reasoning of the court a quo, the CA declared that even as it may be conceded that petitioner bank had reserved the right to close an account for repeated overdrafts by the respondent, the exercise of that right must never be despotic or arbitrary. That petitioner bank chose to close the account outright and return the check, even after accepting a deposit sufficient to cover the said check, is contrary to its duty to handle the respondent's account with utmost fidelity. The exercise of the right is not absolute and good faith, at least, is required. The manner by which petitioner bank closed the account of the respondent runs afoul of Article 19 of the Civil Code which enjoins every person, in the exercise of his rights, 'to give every one his due, and observe honesty and good faith.

The CA concluded that petitioner bank's precipitate and imprudent closure of the respondent's account had caused him, a respected officer of several civic and banking associations, serious anxiety and humiliation. It had, likewise, tainted his credit standing. Consequently, the award of damages is warranted. The CA, however, reduced the amount of damages awarded by the court a quo as it found the same to be excessive:

We, however, find excessive the amount of damages awarded by the RTC. In our view the reduced amount of P75,000.00 as moral damages and P25,000.00 as exemplary damages are in order. Awards for damages are not meant to enrich the plaintiff-appellee [the respondent] at the expense of defendants-appellants [the petitioners], but to obviate the moral suffering he has undergone. The award is aimed at the restoration, within limits possible, of the status quo ante, and should be proportionate to the suffering inflicted.[5]

The dispositive portion of the assailed CA decision reads:

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED, subject to the MODIFICATION that the award of moral damages is reduced to P75,000.00 and the award of exemplary damages reduced to P25,000.00. SO ORDERED.[6]

Petitioner bank sought the reconsideration of the said decision but in the assailed Resolution dated January 17, 2003, the appellate court denied its motion. Hence, the recourse to this Court.

Petitioner bank maintains that, in closing the account of the respondent in the evening of April 4, 1988, it acted in good faith and in accordance with the rules' and regulations' governing the operation of a

regular demand deposit which reserves to the bank 'the right to close an account if the depositor frequently draws checks against insufficient funds and/or uncollected deposits. The same rules and regulations also provide that 'the depositor is not entitled, as a matter of right, to overdraw on this deposit and the bank reserves the right at any time to return checks of the depositor which are drawn against insufficient funds or for any reason.

It cites the numerous instances that the respondent had overdrawn his account and those instances where he deliberately signed checks using a signature different from the specimen on file. Based on these facts, petitioner bank was constrained to close the respondent's account for improper and irregular handling and returned his Check No. 2434886 which was presented to the bank for payment on April 4, 1988.

'Petitioner bank further posits that there is no law or rule which gives the respondent a legal right to make good his check or to deposit the corresponding amount to cover said check within 24 hours after the same is dishonored or returned by the bank for having been drawn against insufficient funds. It vigorously denies having violated Article 19 of the Civil Code as it insists that it acted in good faith and in accordance with the pertinent banking rules and regulations.

The petition is impressed with merit.

A perusal of the respective decisions of the court a quo and the appellate court show that the award of damages in the respondent's favor was anchored mainly on Article 19 of the Civil Code which, quoted anew below, reads: Art. 19. Every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith.

The elements of abuse of rights are the following: (a) the existence of a legal right or duty; (b) which is exercised in bad faith; and (c) for the sole intent of prejudicing or injuring another.[7] Malice or bad faith is at the core of the said provision.[8] The law always presumes good faith and any person who seeks to be awarded damages due to acts of another has the burden of proving that the latter acted in bad faith or with ill-motive.[9] Good faith refers to the state of the mind which is manifested by the acts of the individual concerned. It consists of the intention to abstain from taking an unconscionable and unscrupulous advantage of another.[10] Bad faith does not simply connote bad judgment or simple negligence, dishonest purpose or some moral obliquity and conscious doing of a wrong, a breach of known duty due to some motives or interest or ill-will that partakes of the nature of fraud.[11] Malice connotes ill-will or spite and speaks not in response to duty. It implies an intention to do ulterior and unjustifiable harm. Malice is bad faith or bad motive.[12]

Undoubtedly, petitioner bank has the right to close the account of the respondent based on the following provisions of its Rules and Regulations Governing the Establishment and Operation of Regular Demand Deposits:

10)

The Bank reserves the right to close an account if the depositor frequently draws checks against insufficient funds and/or uncollected deposits.

12) ' However, it is clearly understood that the depositor is not entitled, as a matter of right, to overdraw on this deposit and the bank reserves the right at any time to return checks of the depositor which are drawn against insufficient funds or for any other reason. The facts, as found by the court a quo and the appellate court, do not establish that, in the exercise of this right, petitioner bank committed an abuse thereof. Specifically, the second and third elements for abuse of rights are not attendant in the present case. The evidence presented by petitioner bank negates the existence of bad faith or malice on its part in closing the respondent's account on April 4, 1988 because on the said date the same was already overdrawn. The respondent issued four checks, all due on April 4, 1988, amounting to P7,410.00 when the balance of his current account deposit was only P6,981.43. Thus, he incurred an overdraft of P428.57 which resulted in the dishonor of his Check No. 2434886. Further, petitioner bank showed that in 1986, the current account of the respondent was overdrawn 156 times due to his issuance of checks against insufficient funds.[13] In 1987, the said account was overdrawn 117 times for the same reason.[14] Again, in 1988, 26 times.[15] There were also several instances when the respondent issued checks deliberately using a signature different from his specimen signature on file with petitioner bank.[16] All these circumstances taken together justified the petitioner bank's closure of the respondent's account on April 4, 1988 for 'improper handling.

It is observed that nowhere under its rules and regulations is petitioner bank required to notify the respondent, or any depositor for that matter, of the closure of the account for frequently drawing checks against insufficient funds. No malice or bad faith could be imputed on petitioner bank for so acting since the records bear out that the respondent had indeed been improperly and irregularly handling his account not just a few times but hundreds of times. Under the circumstances, petitioner bank could not be faulted for exercising its right in accordance with the express rules and regulations governing the current accounts of its depositors. Upon the

opening of his account, the respondent had agreed to be bound by these terms and conditions.

Neither the fact that petitioner bank accepted the deposit made by the respondent the day following the closure of his account constitutes bad faith or malice on the part of petitioner bank. The same could be characterized as simple negligence by its personnel. Said act, by itself, is not constitutive of bad faith. The respondent had thus failed to discharge his burden of proving bad faith on the part of petitioner bank or that it was motivated by ill-will or spite in closing his account on April 4, 1988 and in inadvertently accepting his deposit on April 5, 1988.

Further, it has not been shown that these acts were done by petitioner bank with the sole intention of prejudicing and injuring the respondent. It is conceded that the respondent may have suffered damages as a result of the closure of his current account. However, there is a material distinction between damages and injury. The Court had the occasion to explain the distinction between damages and injury in this wise: Injury is the illegal invasion of a legal right; damage is the loss, hurt or harm which results from the injury; and damages are the recompense or compensation awarded for the damage suffered. Thus, there can be damage without injury in those instances in which the loss or harm was not the result of a violation of a legal duty. In such cases, the consequences must be borne by the injured person alone, the law affords no remedy for damages resulting from an act which does not amount to a legal injury or wrong. These situations are often called damnum absque injuria. In other words, in order that a plaintiff may maintain an action for the injuries of which he complains, he must establish that such injuries resulted from a breach of duty which the defendant owed to the plaintiff ' a concurrence of injury to the plaintiff and legal

responsibility by the person causing it. The underlying basis for the award of tort damages is the premise that the individual was injured in contemplation of law. Thus, there must first be a breach of some duty and the imposition of liability for that breach before damages may be awarded; and the breach of such duty should be the proximate cause of the injury.[17]

Whatever damages the respondent may have suffered as a consequence, e.g., dishonor of his other insufficiently funded checks, would have to be borne by him alone. It was the respondent's repeated improper

and irregular handling of his account which constrained petitioner bank to close the same in accordance with the rules and regulations governing its depositors' current accounts. The respondent's case is clearly one of damnum absque injuria.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated August 30, 2002 and Resolution dated January 17, 2003 of the Court of Appeals in CAG.R. CV No. 36627 are REVERSED AND SET ASIDE.

SO ORDERED.

Citibank, N.A. vs. Cabamongan, 488 SCRA 517 (2006)


Republic SUPREME Manila of the Philippines COURT

FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. 146918 May 2, 2006

CITIBANK, N.A., Petitioner, vs. SPS. LUIS and CARMELITA CABAMONGAN and their sons LUISCABAMONGAN, JR. and LITO CABAMONGAN, Respondents. DECISION AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision1 dated January 26, 2001 and the Resolution2 dated July 30, 2001 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 59033. The factual background of the case is as follows: On August 16, 1993, spouses Luis and Carmelita Cabamongan opened a joint "and/or" foreign currency time deposit in trust for their sons Luis, Jr. and Lito at the Citibank, N.A., Makati branch, with Reference No. 6022214372, in the amount of $55,216.69 for a term of 182 days or until February 14, 1994, at 2.5625 per cent interest per annum.3 Prior to maturity, or on November 10, 1993, a person claiming to be Carmelita went to the Makati branch and pre-terminated the said foreign currency time deposit by presenting a passport, a Bank of America Versatele Card, an ATM card and a Mabuhay Credit Card.4 She filled up the necessary forms for pretermination of deposits with the assistance of Account Officer Yeye San Pedro. While the transaction was being processed, she was casually interviewed by San Pedro about her personal circumstances and investment plans.5 Since the said person failed to surrender the original Certificate of Deposit, she had to execute a notarized release and waiver document in favor of Citibank, pursuant to Citibank's internal procedure, before the money was released to her.6 The release and waiver document7 was not notarized on that same day but the money was nonetheless given to the person withdrawing.8 The transaction lasted for about 40 minutes.9 After said person left, San Pedro realized that she left behind an identification card.10 Thus, San Pedro called up Carmelita's listed address at No. 48 Ranger Street, Moonwalk Village, Las Pinas, Metro Manila on the

same day to have the card picked up.11 Marites, the wife of Lito, received San Pedro's call and was stunned by the news that Carmelita preterminated her foreign currency time deposit because Carmelita was in the United States at that time.12 The Cabamongan spouses work and reside in California. Marites made an overseas call to Carmelita to inform her about what happened.13 The Cabamongan spouses were shocked at the news. It seems that sometime between June 10 and 16, 1993, an unidentified person broke in at the couple's residence at No. 3268 Baldwin Park Boulevard, Baldwin Park, California. Initially, they reported that only Carmelita's jewelry box was missing, but later on, they discovered that other items, such as their passports, bank deposit certificates, including the subject foreign currency deposit, and identification cards were also missing.14 It was only then that the Cabamongan spouses realized that their passports and bank deposit certificates were lost.15 Through various overseas calls, the Cabamongan spouses informed Citibank, thru San Pedro, that Carmelita was in the United States and did not preterminate their deposit and that the person who did so was an impostor who could have also been involved in the break-in of their California residence. San Pedro told the spouses to submit the necessary documents to support their claim but Citibank concluded nonetheless that Carmelita indeed preterminated her deposit. In a letter dated September 16, 1994, the Cabamongan spouses, through counsel, made a formal demand upon Citibank for payment of their preterminated deposit in the amount of $55,216.69 with legal interests.16 In a letter dated November 28, 1994, Citibank, through counsel, refused the Cabamongan spouses' demand for payment, asserting that the subject deposit was released to Carmelita upon proper identification and verification.17 On January 27, 1995, the Cabamongan spouses filed a complaint against Citibank before the Regional Trial Court of Makati for Specific Performance with Damages, docketed as Civil Case No 95-163 and raffled to Branch 150 (RTC).18 In its Answer dated April 20, 1995, Citibank insists that it was not negligent of its duties since the subject deposit was released to Carmelita only upon proper identification and verification.19 At the pre-trial conference the parties failed to arrive at an amicable settlement.20 Thus, trial on the merits ensued.

For the plaintiffs, the Cabamongan spouses themselves and Florenda G. Negre, Documents Examiner II of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory in Camp Crame, Quezon City, testified. The Cabamongan spouses, in essence, testified that Carmelita could not have preterminated the deposit account since she was in California at the time of the incident.21 Negre testified that an examination of the questioned signature and the samples of the standard signatures of Carmelita submitted in the RTC showed a significant divergence. She concluded that they were not written by one and the same person.22 For the respondent, Citibank presented San Pedro and Cris Cabalatungan, Vice-President and In-Charge of Security and Management Division. Both San Pedro and Cabalatungan testified that proper bank procedure was followed and the deposit was released to Carmelita only upon proper identification and verification.23 On July 1, 1997, the RTC rendered a decision in favor of the Cabamongan spouses and against Citibank, the dispositive portion of which reads, thus: WHEREFORE, premises considered, defendant Citibank, N.A., is hereby ordered to pay the plaintiffs the following: 1) the principal amount of their Foreign Currency Deposit (Reference No. 6022214372) amounting to $55,216.69 or its Phil. Currency equivalent plus interests from August 16, 1993 until fully paid; 2) Moral damages of P50,000.00; 3) Attorney's fees of P50,000.00; and 4) Cost of suit. SO ORDERED.24 The RTC reasoned that: xxx Citibank, N.A., committed negligence resulting to the undue suffering of the plaintiffs. The forgery of the signatures of plaintiff Carmelita Cabamongan on the questioned documents has been categorically established by the handwriting expert. xxx Defendant bank was clearly remiss in its duty and obligations to treat plaintiff's account with the highest

degree of care, considering the nature of their relationship. Banks are under the obligation to treat the accounts of their depositors with meticulous care. This is the reason for their established procedure of requiring several specimen signatures and recent picture from potential depositors. For every transaction, the depositor's signature is passed upon by personnel to check and countercheck possible irregularities and therefore must bear the blame when they fail to detect the forgery or discrepancy.25 Despite the favorable decision, the Cabamongan spouses filed on October 1, 1997 a motion to partially reconsider the decision by praying for an increase of the amount of the damages awarded.26 Citibank opposed the motion.27 On November 19, 1997, the RTC granted the motion for partial reconsideration and amended the dispositive portion of the decision as follows: From the foregoing, and considering all the evidence laid down by the parties, the dispositive portion of the court's decision dated July 1, 1997 is hereby amended and/or modified to read as follows: WHEREFORE, defendant Citibank, N.A., is hereby ordered to pay the plaintiffs the following: 1) the principal amount of their foreign currency deposit (Reference No. 6022214372) amounting to $55,216.69 or its Philippine currency equivalent (at the time of its actual payment or execution) plus legal interest from Aug. 16, 1993 until fully paid. 2) moral damages in the amount of P200,000.00; 3) exemplary damages in the amount of P100,000.00; 4) attorney's fees of P100,000.00; 5) litigation expenses of P200,000.00; 6) cost of suit. SO ORDERED.28

Dissatisfied, Citibank filed an appeal with the CA, docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 59033.29 On January 26, 2001, the CA rendered a decision sustaining the finding of the RTC that Citibank was negligent, ratiocinating in this wise: In the instant case, it is beyond dispute that the subject foreign currency deposit was pre-terminated on 10 November 1993. But Carmelita Cabamongan, who works as a nursing aid (sic) at the Sierra View Care Center in Baldwin Park, California, had shown through her Certificate of Employment and her Daily Time Record from the [sic] January to December 1993 that she was in the United States at the time of the incident. Defendant Citibank, N.A., however, insists that Carmelita was the one who pre-terminated the deposit despite claims to the contrary. Its basis for saying so is the fact that the person who made the transaction on the incident mentioned presented a valid passport and three (3) other identification cards. The attending account officer examined these documents and even interviewed said person. She was satisfied that the person presenting the documents was indeed Carmelita Cabamongan. However, such conclusion is belied by these following circumstances. First, the said person did not present the certificate of deposit issued to Carmelita Cabamongan. This would not have been an insurmountable obstacle as the bank, in the absence of such certificate, allows the termination of the deposit for as long as the depositor executes a notarized release and waiver document in favor of the bank. However, this simple procedure was not followed by the bank, as it terminated the deposit and actually delivered the money to the impostor without having the said document notarized on the flimsy excuse that another department of the bank was in charge of notarization. The said procedure was obviously for the protection of the bank but it deliberately ignored such precaution. At the very least, the conduct of the bank amounts to negligence. Second, in the internal memorandum of Account Officer Yeye San Pedro regarding the incident, she reported that upon comparing the authentic signatures of Carmelita Cabamongan on file with the bank with the signatures made by the person claiming to be Cabamongan on the documents required for the termination of the deposit, she noticed that one letter in the latter [sic] signatures was different from that in the standard signatures. She requested said person to sign again and scrutinized the identification cards presented. Presumably, San Pedro was satisfied with

the second set of signatures made as she eventually authorized the termination of the deposit. However, upon examination of the signatures made during the incident by the Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory, the said signatures turned out to be forgeries. As the qualifications of Document Examiner Florenda Negre were established and she satisfactorily testified on her findings during the trial, we have no reason to doubt the validity of her findings. Again, the bank's negligence is patent. San Pedro was able to detect discrepancies in the signatures but she did not exercise additional precautions to ascertain the identity of the person she was dealing with. In fact, the entire transaction took only 40 minutes to complete despite the anomalous situation. Undoubtedly, the bank could have done a better job. Third, as the bank had on file pictures of its depositors, it is inconceivable how bank employees could have been duped by an impostor. San Pedro admitted in her testimony that the woman she dealt with did not resemble the pictures appearing on the identification cards presented but San Pedro still went on with the sensitive transaction. She did not mind such disturbing anomaly because she was convinced of the validity of the passport. She also considered as decisive the fact that the impostor had a mole on her face in the same way that the person in the pictures on the identification cards had a mole. These explanations do not account for the disparity between the pictures and the actual appearance of the impostor. That said person was allowed to withdraw the money anyway is beyond belief. The above circumstances point to the bank's clear negligence. Bank transactions pass through a successive [sic] of bank personnel, whose duty is to check and countercheck transactions for possible errors. While a bank is not expected to be infallible, it must bear the blame for failing to discover mistakes of its employees despite established bank procedure involving a battery of personnel designed to minimize if not eliminate errors. In the instant case, Yeye San Pedro, the employee who primarily dealt with the impostor, did not follow bank procedure when she did not have the waiver document notarized. She also openly courted disaster by ignoring discrepancies between the actual appearance of the impostor and the pictures she presented, as well as the disparities between the signatures made during the transaction and those on file with the bank. But even if San Pedro was negligent, why must the other employees in the hierarchy of the bank's work flow allow such thing to pass unnoticed and unrectified?30

The CA, however, disagreed with the damages awarded by the RTC. It held that, insofar as the date from which legal interest of 12% is to run, it should be counted from September 16, 1994 when extrajudicial demand was made. As to moral damages, the CA reduced it to P100,000.00 and deleted the awards of exemplary damages and litigation expenses. Thus, the dispositive portion of the CA decision reads: WHEREFORE, the decision of the trial court dated 01 July 1997, and its order dated 19 November 1997, are hereby AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that the legal interest for actual damages awarded in the amount of $55,216.69 shall run from 16 September 1994; exemplary damages amounting to P100,000.00 and litigation expenses amounting to P200,000.00 are deleted; and moral damages is reduced to P100,000.00. Costs against defendant. SO ORDERED.31 The Cabamongan spouses filed a motion for partial reconsideration on the matter of the award of damages in the decision.32 On July 30, 2001, the CA granted in part said motion and modified its decision as follows: 1. The actual damages in amount of $55,216.69, representing the amount of appellees' foreign currency time deposit shall earn an interest of 2.5625% for the period 16 August 1993 to 14 February 1994, as stipulated in the contract; 2. From 16 September 1994 until full payment, the amount of $55,216.69 shall earn interest at the legal rate of 12% per annum, and; 3. The award of moral damages is reduced to P50,000.00.33 Dissatisfied, both parties filed separate petitions for review on certiorari with this Court. The Cabamongan spouses' petition, docketed as G.R. No. 149234, was denied by the Court per its Resolution dated October 17, 2001.34 On the other hand, Citibank's petition was given due course by the Court per Resolution dated December 10, 2001 and the parties were required to submit their respective memoranda.35 Citibank poses the following errors for resolution:

1. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED AND GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN UPHOLDING THE LOWER COURT'S DECISION WHICH IS NOT BASED ON CLEAR EVIDENCE BUT ON GRAVE MISAPPREHENSION OF FACTS. 2. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN UPHOLDING THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT AWARDING MORAL DAMAGES WHEN IN FACT THERE IS NO BASIS IN LAW AND FACT FOR SAID AWARD. 3. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN RULING THAT THE PRINCIPAL AMOUNT OF US$55,216.69 SHOULD EARN INTEREST AT THE RATE OF 12% PER ANNUM FROM 16 SEPTEMBER 1994 UNTIL FULL PAYMENT.36 Anent the first ground, Citibank contends that the CA erred in affirming the RTC's finding that it was negligent since the said courts failed to appreciate the extra diligence of a good father of a family exercised by Citibank thru San Pedro. As to the second ground, Citibank argues that the Cabamongan spouses are not entitled to moral damages since moral damages can be awarded only in cases of breach of contract where the bank has acted willfully, fraudulently or in bad faith. It submits that it has not been shown in this case that Citibank acted willfully, fraudulently or in bad faith and mere negligence, even if the Cabamongan spouses suffered mental anguish or serious anxiety on account thereof, is not a ground for awarding moral damages. On the third ground, Citibank avers that the interest rate should not be 12% but the stipulated rate of 2.5625% per annum. It adds that there is no basis to pay the interest rate of 12% per annum from September 16, 1994 until full payment because as of said date there was no legal ground yet for the Cabamongan spouses to demand payment of the principal and it is only after a final judgment is issued declaring that Citibank is obliged to return the principal amount of US$55,216.69 when the right to demand payment starts and legal interest starts to run. On the other hand, the Cabamongan spouses contend that Citibank's negligence has been established by evidence. As to the interest rate, they submit that the stipulated interest of 2.5635% should apply for the 182-day

contract period from August 16, 1993 to February 14, 1993; thereafter, 12% should apply. They further contend that the RTC's award of exemplary damages of P100,000.00 should be maintained. They submit that the CA erred in treating the award of litigation expenses as lawyer's fees since they have shown that they incurred actual expenses in litigating their claim against Citibank. They also contend that the CA erred in reducing the award of moral damages in view of the degree of mental anguish and emotional fears, anxieties and nervousness suffered by them.37 Subsequently, Citibank, thru a new counsel, submitted a Supplemental Memorandum,38 wherein it posits that, assuming that it was negligent, the Cabamongan spouses were guilty of contributory negligence since they failed to notify Citibank that they had migrated to the United States and were residents thereat and after having been victims of a burglary, they should have immediately assessed their loss and informed Citibank of the disappearance of the bank certificate, their passports and other identification cards, then the fraud would not have been perpetuated and the losses avoided. It further argues that since the Cabamongan spouses are guilty of contributory negligence, the doctrine of last clear chance is inapplicable. Citibank's assertion that the Cabamongan spouses are guilty of contributory negligence and non-application of the doctrine of last clear chance cannot pass muster since these contentions were raised for the first time only in their Supplemental Memorandum. Indeed, the records show that said contention were neither pleaded in the petition for review and the memorandum nor in Citibank's Answer to the complaint or in its appellant's brief filed with the CA. To consider the alleged facts and arguments raised belatedly in a supplemental pleading to herein petition for review at this very late stage in the proceedings would amount to trampling on the basic principles of fair play, justice and due process.391avvphil.net The Court has repeatedly emphasized that, since the banking business is impressed with public interest, of paramount importance thereto is the trust and confidence of the public in general. Consequently, the highest degree of diligence40 is expected,41 and high standards of integrity and performance are even required, of it.42 By the nature of its functions, a bank is "under obligation to treat the accounts of its depositors with meticulous care,43 always having in mind the fiduciary nature of their relationship."44

In this case, it has been sufficiently shown that the signatures of Carmelita in the forms for pretermination of deposits are forgeries. Citibank, with its signature verification procedure, failed to detect the forgery. Its negligence consisted in the omission of that degree of diligence required of banks. The Court has held that a bank is "bound to know the signatures of its customers; and if it pays a forged check, it must be considered as making the payment out of its own funds, and cannot ordinarily charge the amount so paid to the account of the depositor whose name was forged."45 Such principle equally applies here. Citibank cannot label its negligence as mere mistake or human error. Banks handle daily transactions involving millions of pesos.46 By the very nature of their works the degree of responsibility, care and trustworthiness expected of their employees and officials is far greater than those of ordinary clerks and employees.47 Banks are expected to exercise the highest degree of diligence in the selection and supervision of their employees.48 The Court agrees with the observation of the CA that Citibank, thru Account Officer San Pedro, openly courted disaster when despite noticing discrepancies in the signature and photograph of the person claiming to be Carmelita and the failure to surrender the original certificate of time deposit, the pretermination of the account was allowed. Even the waiver document was not notarized, a procedure meant to protect the bank. For not observing the degree of diligence required of banking institutions, whose business is impressed with public interest, Citibank is liable for damages. As to the interest rate, Citibank avers that the claim of the Cabamongan spouses does not constitute a loan or forbearance of money and therefore, the interest rate of 6%, not 12%, applies. The Court does not agree. The time deposit subject matter of herein petition is a simple loan. The provisions of the New Civil Code on simple loan govern the contract between a bank and its depositor. Specifically, Article 1980 thereof categorically provides that ". . . savings . . . deposits of money in banks and similar institutions shall be governed by the provisions concerning simple loan." Thus, the relationship between a bank and its depositor is that of a debtor-creditor, the depositor being the creditor as it lends the bank money, and the bank is the debtor which agrees to pay the depositor on demand.

The applicable interest rate on the actual damages of $55,216.69, should be in accordance with the guidelines set forth in Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals49 to wit: I. When an obligation, regardless of its source, i.e., law, contracts, quasi-contracts, delicts or quasi-delicts is breached, the contravenor can be held liable for damages. The provisions under Title XVIII on "Damages" of the Civil Code govern in determining the measure of recoverable damages. II. With regard particularly to an award of interest, in the concept of actual and compensatory damages, the rate of interest, as well as the accrual thereof, is imposed, as follows: 1. When the obligation is breached, and it consists in the payment of a sum of money, i.e., a loan or forbearance of money, the interest due should be that which may have been stipulated in writing. Furthermore, the interest due shall itself earn legal interest from the time it is judicially demanded. In the absence of stipulation, the rate of interest shall be 12% per annum to be computed from default, i.e., from judicial or extrajudicial demand under and subject to the provisions of Article 1169 of the Civil Code. 2. When an obligation, not constituting a loan or forbearance of money, is breached, an interest on the amount of damages awarded may be imposed at the discretion of the court at the rate of 6% per annum. No interest, however, shall be adjudged on unliquidated claims or damages except when or until the demand can be established with reasonable certainty. Accordingly, where the demand is established with reasonable certainty, the interest shall begin to run from the time the claim is made judicially or extrajudicially (Art. 1169, Civil Code) but when such certainty cannot be so reasonably established at the time the demand is made, the interest shall begin to run only from the date the judgment of the court is made (at which time the quantification of damages may be deemed to have been reasonably ascertained). The actual base for the computation of legal interest shall, in any case, be on the amount finally adjudged.

3. When the judgment of the court awarding a sum of money becomes final and executory, the rate of legal interest whether the case falls under paragraph 1 or paragraph 2, above, shall be 12% per annum from such finality until its satisfaction, this interim period being deemed to be by then an equivalent to a forbearance of credit.50 Thus, in a loan or forbearance of money, the interest due should be that stipulated in writing, and in the absence thereof, the rate shall be 12% per annum counted from the time of demand. Accordingly, the stipulated interest rate of 2.562% per annum shall apply for the 182-day contract period from August 16, 1993 to February 14, 1994. For the period from the date of extra-judicial demand, September 16, 1994, until full payment, the rate of 12% shall apply. As for the intervening period between February 15, 1994 to September 15, 1994, the rate of interest then prevailing granted by Citibank shall apply since the time deposit provided for roll over upon maturity of the principal and interest.51 As to moral damages, in culpa contractual or breach of contract, as in the case before the Court, moral damages are recoverable only if the defendant has acted fraudulently or in bad faith,52 or is found guilty of gross negligence amounting to bad faith, or in wanton disregard of his contractual obligations.53 The act of Citibank's employee in allowing the pretermination of Cabamongan spouses' account despite the noted discrepancies in Carmelita's signature and photograph, the absence of the original certificate of time deposit and the lack of notarized waiver dormant, constitutes gross negligence amounting to bad faith under Article 2220 of the Civil Code. There is no hard-and-fast rule in the determination of what would be a fair amount of moral damages since each case must be governed by its own peculiar facts. The yardstick should be that it is not palpably and scandalously excessive.54 The amount of P50,000.00 awarded by the CA is reasonable and just. Moreover, said award is deemed final and executory insofar as respondents are concerned considering that their petition for review had been denied by the Court in its final and executory Resolution dated October 17, 2001 in G.R. No. 149234. Finally, Citibank contends that the award of attorney's fees should be deleted since such award appears only in the dispositive portion of the

decision of the RTC and the latter failed to elaborate, explain and justify the same. Article 2208 of the New Civil Code enumerates the instances where such may be awarded and, in all cases, it must be reasonable, just and equitable if the same were to be granted. Attorney's fees as part of damages are not meant to enrich the winning party at the expense of the losing litigant. They are not awarded every time a party prevails in a suit because of the policy that no premium should be placed on the right to litigate.55 The award of attorney's fees is the exception rather than the general rule. As such, it is necessary for the court to make findings of facts and law that would bring the case within the exception and justify the grant of such award. The matter of attorney's fees cannot be mentioned only in the dispositive portion of the decision.56 They must be clearly explained and justified by the trial court in the body of its decision. Consequently, the award of attorney's fees should be deleted. WHEREFORE, the instant petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED. The assailed Decision and Resolution are AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS, as follows: 1. The interest shall be computed as follows: a. The actual damages in principal amount of $55,216.69, representing the amount of foreign currency time deposit shall earn interest at the stipulated rate of 2.5625% for the period August 16, 1993 to February 14, 1994; b. From February 15, 1994 to September 15, 1994, the principal amount of $55,216.69 and the interest earned as of February 14, 1994 shall earn interest at the rate then prevailing granted by Citibank; c. From September 16, 1994 until full payment, the principal amount of $55,216.69 and the interest earned as of September 15, 1994, shall earn interest at the legal rate of 12% per annum; 2. The award of attorney's fees is DELETED. No pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED.

Citibank, N.A. vs. Sabeniano, 504 SCRA 378 (2006)


Republic SUPREME Manila FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. 156132 October 12, 2006 of the Philippines COURT

CITIBANK, N.A. (Formerly First National City Bank) and INVESTORS' FINANCE CORPORATION, doing business under the name and style of FNCB Finance, petitioners, vs. MODESTA R. SABENIANO, respondent.

DECISION

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari,1 under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court, of the Decision2 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 51930, dated 26 March 2002, and the Resolution,3 dated 20 November 2002, of the same court which, although modifying its earlier Decision, still denied for the most part the Motion for Reconsideration of herein petitioners. Petitioner Citibank, N.A. (formerly known as the First National City Bank) is a banking corporation duly authorized and existing under the laws of the United States of America and licensed to do commercial banking activities and perform trust functions in the Philippines. Petitioner Investor's Finance Corporation, which did business under the name and style of FNCB Finance, was an affiliate company of petitioner Citibank, specifically handling money market placements for its clients. It is now, by virtue of a merger, doing business as part of its successor-ininterest, BPI Card Finance Corporation. However, so as to consistently

establish its identity in the Petition at bar, the said petitioner shall still be referred to herein as FNCB Finance.4 Respondent Modesta R. Sabeniano was a client of both petitioners Citibank and FNCB Finance. Regrettably, the business relations among the parties subsequently went awry. On 8 August 1985, respondent filed a Complaint5 against petitioners, docketed as Civil Case No. 11336, before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City. Respondent claimed to have substantial deposits and money market placements with the petitioners, as well as money market placements with the Ayala Investment and Development Corporation (AIDC), the proceeds of which were supposedly deposited automatically and directly to respondent's accounts with petitioner Citibank. Respondent alleged that petitioners refused to return her deposits and the proceeds of her money market placements despite her repeated demands, thus, compelling respondent to file Civil Case No. 11336 against petitioners for "Accounting, Sum of Money and Damages." Respondent eventually filed an Amended Complaint6 on 9 October 1985 to include additional claims to deposits and money market placements inadvertently left out from her original Complaint. In their joint Answer7 and Answer to Amended Complaint,8 filed on 12 September 1985 and 6 November 1985, respectively, petitioners admitted that respondent had deposits and money market placements with them, including dollar accounts in the Citibank branch in Geneva, Switzerland (Citibank-Geneva). Petitioners further alleged that the respondent later obtained several loans from petitioner Citibank, for which she executed Promissory Notes (PNs), and secured by (a) a Declaration of Pledge of her dollar accounts in Citibank-Geneva, and (b) Deeds of Assignment of her money market placements with petitioner FNCB Finance. When respondent failed to pay her loans despite repeated demands by petitioner Citibank, the latter exercised its right to off-set or compensate respondent's outstanding loans with her deposits and money market placements, pursuant to the Declaration of Pledge and the Deeds of Assignment executed by respondent in its favor. Petitioner Citibank supposedly informed respondent Sabeniano of the foregoing compensation through letters, dated 28 September 1979 and 31 October 1979. Petitioners were therefore surprised when six years later, in 1985, respondent and her counsel made repeated

requests for the withdrawal of respondent's deposits and money market placements with petitioner Citibank, including her dollar accounts with Citibank-Geneva and her money market placements with petitioner FNCB Finance. Thus, petitioners prayed for the dismissal of the Complaint and for the award of actual, moral, and exemplary damages, and attorney's fees. When the parties failed to reach a compromise during the pre-trial hearing,9 trial proper ensued and the parties proceeded with the presentation of their respective evidence. Ten years after the filing of the Complaint on 8 August 1985, a Decision10 was finally rendered in Civil Case No. 11336 on 24 August 1995 by the fourth Judge11 who handled the said case, Judge Manuel D. Victorio, the dispositive portion of which reads WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, decision is hereby rendered as follows: (1) Declaring as illegal, null and void the setoff effected by the defendant Bank [petitioner Citibank] of plaintiff's [respondent Sabeniano] dollar deposit with Citibank, Switzerland, in the amount of US$149,632.99, and ordering the said defendant [petitioner Citibank] to refund the said amount to the plaintiff with legal interest at the rate of twelve percent (12%) per annum, compounded yearly, from 31 October 1979 until fully paid, or its peso equivalent at the time of payment; (2) Declaring the plaintiff [respondent Sabeniano] indebted to the defendant Bank [petitioner Citibank] in the amount of P1,069,847.40 as of 5 September 1979 and ordering the plaintiff [respondent Sabeniano] to pay said amount, however, there shall be no interest and penalty charges from the time the illegal setoff was effected on 31 October 1979; (3) Dismissing all other claims and counterclaims interposed by the parties against each other. Costs against the defendant Bank. All the parties appealed the foregoing Decision of the RTC to the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 51930. Respondent questioned the findings of the RTC that she was still indebted to petitioner Citibank, as well

as the failure of the RTC to order petitioners to render an accounting of respondent's deposits and money market placements with them. On the other hand, petitioners argued that petitioner Citibank validly compensated respondent's outstanding loans with her dollar accounts with CitibankGeneva, in accordance with the Declaration of Pledge she executed in its favor. Petitioners also alleged that the RTC erred in not declaring respondent liable for damages and interest. On 26 March 2002, the Court of Appeals rendered its Decision12 affirming with modification the RTC Decision in Civil Case No. 11336, dated 24 August 1995, and ruling entirely in favor of respondent in this wise Wherefore, premises considered, the assailed 24 August 1995 Decision of the court a quo is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION, as follows: 1. Declaring as illegal, null and void the set-off effected by the defendant-appellant Bank of the plaintiff-appellant's dollar deposit with Citibank, Switzerland, in the amount of US$149,632.99, and ordering defendant-appellant Citibank to refund the said amount to the plaintiffappellant with legal interest at the rate of twelve percent (12%) per annum, compounded yearly, from 31 October 1979 until fully paid, or its peso equivalent at the time of payment; 2. As defendant-appellant Citibank failed to establish by competent evidence the alleged indebtedness of plaintiff-appellant, the set-off of P1,069,847.40 in the account of Ms. Sabeniano is hereby declared as without legal and factual basis; 3. As defendants-appellants failed to account the following plaintiffappellant's money market placements, savings account and current accounts, the former is hereby ordered to return the same, in accordance with the terms and conditions agreed upon by the contending parties as evidenced by the certificates of investments, to wit: (i) Citibank NNPN Serial No. 023356 (Cancels and Supersedes NNPN No. 22526) issued on 17 March 1977, P318,897.34 with 14.50% interest p.a.;

(ii) Citibank NNPN Serial No. 23357 (Cancels and Supersedes NNPN No. 22528) issued on 17 March 1977, P203,150.00 with 14.50 interest p.a.; (iii) FNCB NNPN Serial No. 05757 (Cancels and Supersedes NNPN No. 04952), issued on 02 June 1977, P500,000.00 with 17% interest p.a.; (iv) FNCB NNPN Serial No. 05758 (Cancels and Supersedes NNPN No. 04962), issued on 02 June 1977, P500,000.00 with 17% interest per annum; (v) The Two Million (P2,000,000.00) money market placements of Ms. Sabeniano with the Ayala Investment & Development Corporation (AIDC) with legal interest at the rate of twelve percent (12%) per annum compounded yearly, from 30 September 1976 until fully paid; 4. Ordering defendants-appellants to jointly and severally pay the plaintiff-appellant the sum of FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P500,000.00) by way of moral damages, FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P500,000.00) as exemplary damages, and ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P100,000.00) as attorney's fees. Apparently, the parties to the case, namely, the respondent, on one hand, and the petitioners, on the other, made separate attempts to bring the aforementioned Decision of the Court of Appeals, dated 26 March 2002, before this Court for review. G.R. No. 152985 Respondent no longer sought a reconsideration of the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 51930, dated 26 March 2002, and instead, filed immediately with this Court on 3 May 2002 a Motion for Extension of Time to File a Petition for Review,13 which, after payment of the docket and other lawful fees, was assigned the docket number G.R. No. 152985. In the said Motion, respondent alleged that she received a copy of the assailed Court of Appeals Decision on 18 April 2002 and, thus, had 15 days therefrom or until 3 May 2002 within which to file her Petition for Review. Since she informed her counsel of her desire to pursue an appeal of the

Court of Appeals Decision only on 29 April 2002, her counsel neither had enough time to file a motion for reconsideration of the said Decision with the Court of Appeals, nor a Petition for Certiorari with this Court. Yet, the Motion failed to state the exact extension period respondent was requesting for. Since this Court did not act upon respondent's Motion for Extension of Time to file her Petition for Review, then the period for appeal continued to run and still expired on 3 May 2002.14 Respondent failed to file any Petition for Review within the prescribed period for appeal and, hence, this Court issued a Resolution,15 dated 13 November 2002, in which it pronounced that G.R. No. 152985 (Modesta R. Sabeniano vs. Court of Appeals, et al.). It appearing that petitioner failed to file the intended petition for review on certiorari within the period which expired on May 3, 2002, the Court Resolves to DECLARE THIS CASE TERMINATED and DIRECT the Division Clerk of Court to INFORM the parties that the judgment sought to be reviewed has become final and executory. The said Resolution was duly recorded in the Book of Entries of Judgments on 3 January 2003. G.R. No. 156132 Meanwhile, petitioners filed with the Court of Appeals a Motion for Reconsideration of its Decision in CA-G.R. CV No. 51930, dated 26 March 2002. Acting upon the said Motion, the Court of Appeals issued the Resolution,16 dated 20 November 2002, modifying its Decision of 26 March 2002, as follows WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Motion for Reconsideration is PARTIALLY GRANTED as Sub-paragraph (V) paragraph 3 of the assailed Decision's dispositive portion is hereby ordered DELETED. The challenged 26 March 2002 Decision of the Court is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Assailing the Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 51930, dated 26 March 2002 and 20 November 2002, respectively, petitioners filed the present Petition, docketed as G.R. No. 156132. The Petition was initially denied17 by this Court for failure of the petitioners to

attach thereto a Certification against Forum Shopping. However, upon petitioners' Motion and compliance with the requirements, this Court resolved18 to reinstate the Petition. The Petition presented fourteen (14) assignments of errors allegedly committed by the Court of Appeals in its Decision, dated 26 March 2002, involving both questions of fact and questions of law which this Court, for the sake of expediency, discusses jointly, whenever possible, in the succeeding paragraphs. I The Resolution of this Court, dated 13 November 2002, in G.R. No. 152985, declaring the Decision of the Court of Appeals, dated 26 March 2002, final and executory, pertains to respondent Sabeniano alone. Before proceeding to a discussion of the merits of the instant Petition, this Court wishes to address first the argument, persistently advanced by respondent in her pleadings on record, as well as her numerous personal and unofficial letters to this Court which were no longer made part of the record, that the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 51930, dated 26 March 2002, had already become final and executory by virtue of the Resolution of this Court in G.R. No. 152985, dated 13 November 2002. G.R. No. 152985 was the docket number assigned by this Court to respondent's Motion for Extension of Time to File a Petition for Review. Respondent, though, did not file her supposed Petition. Thus, after the lapse of the prescribed period for the filing of the Petition, this Court issued the Resolution, dated 13 November 2002, declaring the Decision of the Court of Appeals, dated 26 March 2002, final and executory. It should be pointed out, however, that the Resolution, dated 13 November 2002, referred only to G.R. No. 152985, respondent's appeal, which she failed to perfect through the filing of a Petition for Review within the prescribed period. The declaration of this Court in the same Resolution would bind respondent solely, and not petitioners which filed their own separate appeal before this Court, docketed as G.R. No. 156132, the Petition at bar. This would mean that respondent, on her part, should be bound by the findings of fact and law of the Court of Appeals, including the monetary amounts consequently awarded to her by the appellate court in its Decision, dated 26 March 2002; and she can no longer refute or assail any part thereof. 19

This Court already explained the matter to respondent when it issued a Resolution20 in G.R. No. 156132, dated 2 February 2004, which addressed her Urgent Motion for the Release of the Decision with the Implementation of the Entry of Judgment in the following manner [A]cting on Citibank's and FNCB Finance's Motion for Reconsideration, we resolved to grant the motion, reinstate the petition and require Sabeniano to file a comment thereto in our Resolution of June 23, 2003. Sabeniano filed a Comment dated July 17, 2003 to which Citibank and FNCB Finance filed a Reply dated August 20, 2003. From the foregoing, it is clear that Sabeniano had knowledge of, and in fact participated in, the proceedings in G.R. No. 156132. She cannot feign ignorance of the proceedings therein and claim that the Decision of the Court of Appeals has become final and executory. More precisely, the Decision became final and executory only with regard to Sabeniano in view of her failure to file a petition for review within the extended period granted by the Court, and not to Citibank and FNCB Finance whose Petition for Review was duly reinstated and is now submitted for decision. Accordingly, the instant Urgent Motion is hereby DENIED. (Emphasis supplied.) To sustain the argument of respondent would result in an unjust and incongruous situation wherein one party may frustrate the efforts of the opposing party to appeal the case by merely filing with this Court a Motion for Extension of Time to File a Petition for Review, ahead of the opposing party, then not actually filing the intended Petition.21 The party who fails to file its intended Petition within the reglementary or extended period should solely bear the consequences of such failure. Respondent Sabeniano did not commit forum shopping. Another issue that does not directly involve the merits of the present Petition, but raised by petitioners, is whether respondent should be held liable for forum shopping. Petitioners contend that respondent committed forum shopping on the basis of the following facts:

While petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision in CA-G.R. CV No. 51930, dated 26 March 2002, was still pending before the Court of Appeals, respondent already filed with this Court on 3 May 2002 her Motion for Extension of Time to File a Petition for Review of the same Court of Appeals Decision, docketed as G.R. No. 152985. Thereafter, respondent continued to participate in the proceedings before the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 51930 by filing her Comment, dated 17 July 2002, to petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration; and a Rejoinder, dated 23 September 2002, to petitioners' Reply. Thus, petitioners argue that by seeking relief concurrently from this Court and the Court of Appeals, respondent is undeniably guilty of forum shopping, if not indirect contempt. This Court, however, finds no sufficient basis to hold respondent liable for forum shopping. Forum shopping has been defined as the filing of two or more suits involving the same parties for the same cause of action, either simultaneously or successively, for the purpose of obtaining a favorable judgment.22 The test for determining forum shopping is whether in the two (or more) cases pending, there is an identity of parties, rights or causes of action, and relief sought.23 To guard against this deplorable practice, Rule 7, Section 5 of the revised Rules of Court imposes the following requirement SEC. 5. Certification against forum shopping. The plaintiff or principal party shall certify under oath in the complaint or other initiatory pleading asserting a claim for relief, or in a sworn certification annexed thereto and simultaneously filed therewith: (a) that he has not theretofore commenced any action or filed any claim involving the same issues in any court, tribunal or quasi-judicial agency and, to the best of his knowledge, no such other action or claim is pending therein; (b) if there is such other pending action or claim, a complete statement of the present status thereof; and (c) if he should thereafter learn that the same or similar action or claim has been filed or is pending, he shall report that fact within five (5) days therefrom to the court wherein his aforesaid complaint or initiatory pleading has been filed. Failure to comply with the foregoing requirements shall not be curable by mere amendment of the complaint or other initiatory pleading but shall be cause for the dismissal of the case without prejudice, unless otherwise provided, upon motion and after hearing. The submission of

a false certification or non-compliance with any of the undertakings therein shall constitute indirect contempt of court, without prejudice to the corresponding administrative and criminal actions. If the acts of the party or his counsel clearly constitute willful and deliberate forum shopping, the same shall be ground for summary dismissal with prejudice and shall constitute direct contempt, as well as cause for administrative sanctions. Although it may seem at first glance that respondent was simultaneously seeking recourse from the Court of Appeals and this Court, a careful and closer scrutiny of the details of the case at bar would reveal otherwise. It should be recalled that respondent did nothing more in G.R. No. 152985 than to file with this Court a Motion for Extension of Time within which to file her Petition for Review. For unexplained reasons, respondent failed to submit to this Court her intended Petition within the reglementary period. Consequently, this Court was prompted to issue a Resolution, dated 13 November 2002, declaring G.R. No. 152985 terminated, and the therein assailed Court of Appeals Decision final and executory. G.R. No. 152985, therefore, did not progress and respondent's appeal was unperfected. The Petition for Review would constitute the initiatory pleading before this Court, upon the timely filing of which, the case before this Court commences; much in the same way a case is initiated by the filing of a Complaint before the trial court. The Petition for Review establishes the identity of parties, rights or causes of action, and relief sought from this Court, and without such a Petition, there is technically no case before this Court. The Motion filed by respondent seeking extension of time within which to file her Petition for Review does not serve the same purpose as the Petition for Review itself. Such a Motion merely presents the important dates and the justification for the additional time requested for, but it does not go into the details of the appealed case. Without any particular idea as to the assignments of error or the relief respondent intended to seek from this Court, in light of her failure to file her Petition for Review, there is actually no second case involving the same parties, rights or causes of action, and relief sought, as that in CA-G.R. CV No. 51930.

It should also be noted that the Certification against Forum Shopping is required to be attached to the initiatory pleading, which, in G.R. No. 152985, should have been respondent's Petition for Review. It is in that Certification wherein respondent certifies, under oath, that: (a) she has not commenced any action or filed any claim involving the same issues in any court, tribunal or quasi-judicial agency and, to the best of her knowledge, no such other action or claim is pending therein; (b) if there is such other pending action or claim, that she is presenting a complete statement of the present status thereof; and (c) if she should thereafter learn that the same or similar action or claim has been filed or is pending, she shall report that fact within five days therefrom to this Court. Without her Petition for Review, respondent had no obligation to execute and submit the foregoing Certification against Forum Shopping. Thus, respondent did not violate Rule 7, Section 5 of the Revised Rules of Court; neither did she mislead this Court as to the pendency of another similar case. Lastly, the fact alone that the Decision of the Court of Appeals, dated 26 March 2002, essentially ruled in favor of respondent, does not necessarily preclude her from appealing the same. Granted that such a move is ostensibly irrational, nonetheless, it does not amount to malice, bad faith or abuse of the court processes in the absence of further proof. Again, it should be noted that the respondent did not file her intended Petition for Review. The Petition for Review would have presented before this Court the grounds for respondent's appeal and her arguments in support thereof. Without said Petition, any reason attributed to the respondent for appealing the 26 March 2002 Decision would be grounded on mere speculations, to which this Court cannot give credence. II As an exception to the general rule, this Court takes cognizance of questions of fact raised in the Petition at bar. It is already a well-settled rule that the jurisdiction of this Court in cases brought before it from the Court of Appeals by virtue of Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court is limited to reviewing errors of law. Findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are conclusive upon this Court. There are, however, recognized exceptions to the foregoing rule, namely: (1) when the findings are grounded entirely on speculation, surmises, or conjectures; (2) when the interference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd, or impossible; (3) when

there is grave abuse of discretion; (4) when the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts; (5) when the findings of fact are conflicting; (6) when in making its findings, the Court of Appeals went beyond the issues of the case, or its findings are contrary to the admissions of both the appellant and the appellee; (7) when the findings are contrary to those of the trial court; (8) when the findings are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based; (9) when the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioner's main and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondent; and (10) when the findings of fact are premised on the supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record.24 Several of the enumerated exceptions pertain to the Petition at bar. It is indubitable that the Court of Appeals made factual findings that are contrary to those of the RTC,25 thus, resulting in its substantial modification of the trial court's Decision, and a ruling entirely in favor of the respondent. In addition, petitioners invoked in the instant Petition for Review several exceptions that would justify this Court's review of the factual findings of the Court of Appeals, i.e., the Court of Appeals made conflicting findings of fact; findings of fact which went beyond the issues raised on appeal before it; as well as findings of fact premised on the supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record. On the basis of the foregoing, this Court shall proceed to reviewing and reevaluating the evidence on record in order to settle questions of fact raised in the Petition at bar. The fact that the trial judge who rendered the RTC Decision in Civil Case No. 11336, dated 24 August 1995, was not the same judge who heard and tried the case, does not, by itself, render the said Decision erroneous. The Decision in Civil Case No. 11336 was rendered more than 10 years from the institution of the said case. In the course of its trial, the case was presided over by four (4) different RTC judges.26 It was Judge Victorio, the fourth judge assigned to the case, who wrote the RTC Decision, dated 24 August 1995. In his Decision,27 Judge Victorio made the following findings After carefully evaluating the mass of evidence adduced by the parties, this Court is not inclined to believe the plaintiff's assertion that the

promissory notes as well as the deeds of assignments of her FNCB Finance money market placements were simulated. The evidence is overwhelming that the plaintiff received the proceeds of the loans evidenced by the various promissory notes she had signed. What is more, there was not an iota of proof save the plaintiff's bare testimony that she had indeed applied for loan with the Development Bank of the Philippines. More importantly, the two deeds of assignment were notarized, hence they partake the nature of a public document. It makes more than preponderant proof to overturn the effect of a notarial attestation. Copies of the deeds of assignments were actually filed with the Records Management and Archives Office. Finally, there were sufficient evidence wherein the plaintiff had admitted the existence of her loans with the defendant Bank in the total amount of P1,920,000.00 exclusive of interests and penalty charges (Exhibits "28", "31", "32", and "33"). In fine, this Court hereby finds that the defendants had established the genuineness and due execution of the various promissory notes heretofore identified as well as the two deeds of assignments of the plaintiff's money market placements with defendant FNCB Finance, on the strength of which the said money market placements were applied to partially pay the plaintiff's past due obligation with the defendant Bank. Thus, the total sum of P1,053,995.80 of the plaintiff's past due obligation was partially offset by the said money market placement leaving a balance of P1,069,847.40 as of 5 September 1979 (Exhibit "34"). Disagreeing in the foregoing findings, the Court of Appeals stressed, in its Decision in CA-G.R. CV No. 51930, dated 26 March 2002, "that the ponente of the herein assailed Decision is not the Presiding Judge who heard and tried the case."28 This brings us to the question of whether the fact alone that the RTC Decision was rendered by a judge other than the judge who actually heard and tried the case is sufficient justification for the appellate court to disregard or set aside the findings in the Decision of the court a quo? This Court rules in the negative.

What deserves stressing is that, in this jurisdiction, there exists a disputable presumption that the RTC Decision was rendered by the judge in the regular performance of his official duties. While the said presumption is only disputable, it is satisfactory unless contradicted or overcame by other evidence.29 Encompassed in this presumption of regularity is the presumption that the RTC judge, in resolving the case and drafting his Decision, reviewed, evaluated, and weighed all the evidence on record. That the said RTC judge is not the same judge who heard the case and received the evidence is of little consequence when the records and transcripts of stenographic notes (TSNs) are complete and available for consideration by the former. In People v. Gazmen,30 this Court already elucidated its position on such an issue Accused-appellant makes an issue of the fact that the judge who penned the decision was not the judge who heard and tried the case and concludes therefrom that the findings of the former are erroneous. Accused-appellant's argument does not merit a lengthy discussion. It is well-settled that the decision of a judge who did not try the case is not by that reason alone erroneous. It is true that the judge who ultimately decided the case had not heard the controversy at all, the trial having been conducted by then Judge Emilio L. Polig, who was indefinitely suspended by this Court. Nonetheless, the transcripts of stenographic notes taken during the trial were complete and were presumably examined and studied by Judge Baguilat before he rendered his decision. It is not unusual for a judge who did not try a case to decide it on the basis of the record. The fact that he did not have the opportunity to observe the demeanor of the witnesses during the trial but merely relied on the transcript of their testimonies does not for that reason alone render the judgment erroneous. (People vs. Jaymalin, 214 SCRA 685, 692 [1992]) Although it is true that the judge who heard the witnesses testify is in a better position to observe the witnesses on the stand and determine by their demeanor whether they are telling the truth or mouthing falsehood, it does not necessarily follow that a judge who was not

present during the trial cannot render a valid decision since he can rely on the transcript of stenographic notes taken during the trial as basis of his decision. Accused-appellant's contention that the trial judge did not have the opportunity to observe the conduct and demeanor of the witnesses since he was not the same judge who conducted the hearing is also untenable. While it is true that the trial judge who conducted the hearing would be in a better position to ascertain the truth and falsity of the testimonies of the witnesses, it does not necessarily follow that a judge who was not present during the trial cannot render a valid and just decision since the latter can also rely on the transcribed stenographic notes taken during the trial as the basis of his decision. (People vs. De Paz, 212 SCRA 56, 63 [1992]) At any rate, the test to determine the value of the testimony of the witness is whether or not such is in conformity with knowledge and consistent with the experience of mankind (People vs. Morre, 217 SCRA 219 [1993]). Further, the credibility of witnesses can also be assessed on the basis of the substance of their testimony and the surrounding circumstances (People v. Gonzales, 210 SCRA 44 [1992]). A critical evaluation of the testimony of the prosecution witnesses reveals that their testimony accords with the aforementioned tests, and carries with it the ring of truth end perforce, must be given full weight and credit. Irrefragably, by reason alone that the judge who penned the RTC Decision was not the same judge who heard the case and received the evidence therein would not render the findings in the said Decision erroneous and unreliable. While the conduct and demeanor of witnesses may sway a trial court judge in deciding a case, it is not, and should not be, his only consideration. Even more vital for the trial court judge's decision are the contents and substance of the witnesses' testimonies, as borne out by the TSNs, as well as the object and documentary evidence submitted and made part of the records of the case. This Court proceeds to making its own findings of fact.

Since the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 51930, dated 26 March 2002, has become final and executory as to the respondent, due to her failure to interpose an appeal therefrom within the reglementary period, she is already bound by the factual findings in the said Decision. Likewise, respondent's failure to file, within the reglementary period, a Motion for Reconsideration or an appeal of the Resolution of the Court of Appeals in the same case, dated 20 November 2002, which modified its earlier Decision by deleting paragraph 3(v) of its dispositive portion, ordering petitioners to return to respondent the proceeds of her money market placement with AIDC, shall already bar her from questioning such modification before this Court. Thus, what is for review before this Court is the Decision of the Court of Appeals, dated 26 March 2002, as modified by the Resolution of the same court, dated 20 November 2002. Respondent alleged that she had several deposits and money market placements with petitioners. These deposits and money market placements, as determined by the Court of Appeals in its Decision, dated 26 March 2002, and as modified by its Resolution, dated 20 November 2002, are as follows Deposit/Placement Dollar deposit with Citibank-Geneva Amount $ 149,632.99 Money market placement with Citibank, P evidenced by Promissory Note (PN) No. 318,897.34 23356 (which cancels and supersedes PN No. 22526), earning 14.5% interest per annum (p.a.) Money market placement with Citibank, P evidenced by PN No. 23357 (which cancels 203,150.00 and supersedes PN No. 22528), earning 14.5% interest p.a. Money market placement with FNCB P Finance, evidenced by PN No. 5757 (which 500,000.00 cancels and supersedes PN No. 4952), earning 17% interest p.a. Money market placement with FNCB P Finance, evidenced by PN No. 5758 (which 500,000.00

cancels and supersedes PN No. 2962), earning 17% interest p.a. This Court is tasked to determine whether petitioners are indeed liable to return the foregoing amounts, together with the appropriate interests and penalties, to respondent. It shall trace respondent's transactions with petitioners, from her money market placements with petitioner Citibank and petitioner FNCB Finance, to her savings and current accounts with petitioner Citibank, and to her dollar accounts with Citibank-Geneva. Money market placements with petitioner Citibank The history of respondent's money market placements with petitioner Citibank began on 6 December 1976, when she made a placement of P500,000.00 as principal amount, which was supposed to earn an interest of 16% p.a. and for which PN No. 20773 was issued. Respondent did not yet claim the proceeds of her placement and, instead, rolled-over or reinvested the principal and proceeds several times in the succeeding years for which new PNs were issued by petitioner Citibank to replace the ones which matured. Petitioner Citibank accounted for respondent's original placement and the subsequent roll-overs thereof, as follows Date Interest Cancels Maturity Date Amount PN No. (mm/dd/yyyy) (mm/dd/yyyy) (P) (p.a.) 12/06/1976 20773 None 01/13/1977 500,000.00 16% 01/14/1977 21686 20773 02/08/1977 508,444.44 15% 02/09/1977 22526 21686 03/16/1977 313,952.59 153/4% 22528 21686 03/16/1977 200,000.00 153/4% 03/17/1977 23356 22526 04/20/1977 318,897.34 141/2% 23357 22528 04/20/1977 203,150.00 141/2% PN No. Petitioner Citibank alleged that it had already paid to respondent the principal amounts and proceeds of PNs No. 23356 and 23357, upon their

maturity. Petitioner Citibank further averred that respondent used the P500,000.00 from the payment of PNs No. 23356 and 23357, plus P600,000.00 sourced from her other funds, to open two time deposit (TD) accounts with petitioner Citibank, namely, TD Accounts No. 17783 and 17784. Petitioner Citibank did not deny the existence nor questioned the authenticity of PNs No. 23356 and 23357 it issued in favor of respondent for her money market placements. In fact, it admitted the genuineness and due execution of the said PNs, but qualified that they were no longer outstanding.31 In Hibberd v. Rohde and McMillian,32 this Court delineated the consequences of such an admission By the admission of the genuineness and due execution of an instrument, as provided in this section, is meant that the party whose signature it bears admits that he signed it or that it was signed by another for him with his authority; that at the time it was signed it was in words and figures exactly as set out in the pleading of the party relying upon it; that the document was delivered; and that any formal requisites required by law, such as a seal, an acknowledgment, or revenue stamp, which it lacks, are waived by him. Hence, such defenses as that the signature is a forgery (Puritan Mfg. Co. vs. Toti & Gradi, 14 N. M., 425; Cox vs. Northwestern Stage Co., 1 Idaho, 376; Woollen vs. Whitacre, 73 Ind., 198; Smith vs. Ehnert, 47 Wis., 479; Faelnar vs. Escao, 11 Phil. Rep., 92); or that it was unauthorized, as in the case of an agent signing for his principal, or one signing in behalf of a partnership (Country Bank vs. Greenberg, 127 Cal., 26; Henshaw vs. Root, 60 Inc., 220; Naftzker vs. Lantz, 137 Mich., 441) or of a corporation (Merchant vs. International Banking Corporation, 6 Phil Rep., 314; Wanita vs. Rollins, 75 Miss., 253; Barnes vs. Spencer & Barnes Co., 162 Mich., 509); or that, in the case of the latter, that the corporation was authorized under its charter to sign the instrument (Merchant vs. International Banking Corporation, supra); or that the party charged signed the instrument in some other capacity than that alleged in the pleading setting it out (Payne vs. National Bank, 16 Kan., 147); or that it was never delivered (Hunt vs. Weir, 29 Ill., 83; Elbring vs. Mullen, 4 Idaho, 199; Thorp vs. Keokuk Coal Co., 48 N.Y., 253; Fire Association of Philadelphia vs. Ruby, 60 Neb., 216) are cut off by the admission of its genuineness and due execution.

The effect of the admission is such that in the case of a promissory note a prima facie case is made for the plaintiff which dispenses with the necessity of evidence on his part and entitles him to a judgment on the pleadings unless a special defense of new matter, such as payment, is interposed by the defendant (Papa vs. Martinez, 12 Phil. Rep., 613; Chinese Chamber of Commerce vs. Pua To Ching, 14 Phil. Rep., 222; Banco Espaol-Filipino vs. McKay & Zoeller, 27 Phil. Rep., 183). x x x Since the genuineness and due execution of PNs No. 23356 and 23357 are uncontested, respondent was able to establish prima facie that petitioner Citibank is liable to her for the amounts stated therein. The assertion of petitioner Citibank of payment of the said PNs is an affirmative allegation of a new matter, the burden of proof as to such resting on petitioner Citibank. Respondent having proved the existence of the obligation, the burden of proof was upon petitioner Citibank to show that it had been discharged.33 It has already been established by this Court that As a general rule, one who pleads payment has the burden of proving it. Even where the plaintiff must allege non-payment, the general rule is that the burden rests on the defendant to prove payment, rather than on the plaintiff to prove non-payment. The debtor has the burden of showing with legal certainty that the obligation has been discharged by payment. When the existence of a debt is fully established by the evidence contained in the record, the burden of proving that it has been extinguished by payment devolves upon the debtor who offers such defense to the claim of the creditor. Where the debtor introduces some evidence of payment, the burden of going forward with the evidence as distinct from the general burden of proof shifts to the creditor, who is then under the duty of producing some evidence of non-payment.34 Reviewing the evidence on record, this Court finds that petitioner Citibank failed to satisfactorily prove that PNs No. 23356 and 23357 had already been paid, and that the amount so paid was actually used to open one of respondent's TD accounts with petitioner Citibank. Petitioner Citibank presented the testimonies of two witnesses to support its contention of payment: (1) That of Mr. Herminio Pujeda,35 the officer-in-

charge of loans and placements at the time when the questioned transactions took place; and (2) that of Mr. Francisco Tan,36 the former Assistant Vice-President of Citibank, who directly dealt with respondent with regard to her deposits and loans. The relevant portion37 of Mr. Pujeda's testimony as to PNs No. 23356 and 23357 (referred to therein as Exhibits No. "47" and "48," respectively) is reproduced below Atty. Mabasa: Okey [sic]. Now Mr. Witness, you were asked to testify in this case and this case is [sic] consist [sic] of several documents involving transactions between the plaintiff and the defendant. Now, were you able to make your own memorandum regarding all these transactions? A Yes, based on my recollection of these facts, I did come up of [sic] the outline of the chronological sequence of events. Court: Are you trying to say that you have personal knowledge or participation to these transactions? A Yes, your Honor, I was the officer-in charge of the unit that was processing these transactions. Some of the documents bear my signature. Court: And this resume or summary that you have prepared is based on purely your recollection or documents? A Based on documents, your Honor. Court: Are these documents still available now? A Yes, your honor.

Court: Better present the documents. Atty. Mabasa: Yes, your Honor, that is why your Honor. Atty. Mabasa: Q Now, basing on the notes that you prepared, Mr. Witness, and according to you basing also on your personal recollection about all the transactions involved between Modesta Sabeniano and defendant City Bank [sic] in this case. Now, would you tell us what happened to the money market placements of Modesta Sabeniano that you have earlier identified in Exhs. "47" and "48"? A The transactions which I said earlier were terminated and booked to time deposits. Q And you are saying time deposits with what bank? A With First National Citibank. Q Is it the same bank as Citibank, N.A.? A Yes, sir. Q And how much was the amount booked as time deposit with defendant Citibank? A In the amount of P500,000.00. Q And outside this P500,000.00 which you said was booked out of the proceeds of Exhs. "47" and "48", were there other time deposits opened by Mrs. Modesta Sabeniano at that time. A Yes, she also opened another time deposit for P600,000.00. Q So all in all Mr. Witness, sometime in April of 1978 Mrs. Modesta Sabeneano [sic] had time deposit placements with Citibank in the

amount of P500,000.00 which is the proceeds of Exh. "47" and "48" and another P600,000.00, is it not? A Yes, sir. Q And would you know where did the other P600,000 placed by Mrs. Sabeneano [sic] in a time deposit with Citibank, N.A. came [sic] from? A She funded it directly. Q What are you saying Mr. Witness is that the P600,000 is a [sic] fresh money coming from Mrs. Modesta Sabeneano [sic]? A That is right. In his deposition in Hong Kong, Mr. Tan recounted what happened to PNs No. 23356 and 23357 (referred to therein as Exhibits "E" and "F," respectively), as follows Atty. Mabasa : Now from the Exhibits that you have identified Mr. Tan from Exhibits "A" to "F", which are Exhibits of the plaintiff. Now, do I understand from you that the original amount is Five Hundred Thousand and thereafter renewed in the succeeding exhibits? Mr. Tan : Yes, Sir. Atty. Mabasa : Alright, after these Exhibits "E" and "F" matured, what happened thereafter? Mr. Tan : Split into two time deposits. Atty. Mabasa : Exhibits "E" and "F"? Before anything else, it should be noted that when Mr. Pujeda's testimony before the RTC was made on 12 March 1990 and Mr. Tan's deposition in Hong Kong was conducted on 3 September 1990, more than a decade had passed from the time the transactions they were testifying on took place. This Court had previously recognized the frailty and unreliability of human memory with regards to figures after the lapse of five years.38 Taking into consideration the substantial length of time between the transactions and the witnesses' testimonies, as well as the undeniable fact that bank officers deal with multiple clients and process numerous transactions during their

tenure, this Court is reluctant to give much weight to the testimonies of Mr. Pujeda and Mr. Tan regarding the payment of PNs No. 23356 and 23357 and the use by respondent of the proceeds thereof for opening TD accounts. This Court finds it implausible that they should remember, after all these years, this particular transaction with respondent involving her PNs No. 23356 and 23357 and TD accounts. Both witnesses did not give any reason as to why, from among all the clients they had dealt with and all the transactions they had processed as officers of petitioner Citibank, they specially remembered respondent and her PNs No. 23356 and 23357. Their testimonies likewise lacked details on the circumstances surrounding the payment of the two PNs and the opening of the time deposit accounts by respondent, such as the date of payment of the two PNs, mode of payment, and the manner and context by which respondent relayed her instructions to the officers of petitioner Citibank to use the proceeds of her two PNs in opening the TD accounts. Moreover, while there are documentary evidences to support and trace respondent's money market placements with petitioner Citibank, from the original PN No. 20773, rolled-over several times to, finally, PNs No. 23356 and 23357, there is an evident absence of any documentary evidence on the payment of these last two PNs and the use of the proceeds thereof by respondent for opening TD accounts. The paper trail seems to have ended with the copies of PNs No. 23356 and 23357. Although both Mr. Pujeda and Mr. Tan said that they based their testimonies, not just on their memories but also on the documents on file, the supposed documents on which they based those portions of their testimony on the payment of PNs No. 23356 and 23357 and the opening of the TD accounts from the proceeds thereof, were never presented before the courts nor made part of the records of the case. Respondent's money market placements were of substantial amounts consisting of the principal amount of P500,000.00, plus the interest it should have earned during the years of placement and it is difficult for this Court to believe that petitioner Citibank would not have had documented the payment thereof. When Mr. Pujeda testified before the RTC on 6 February 1990,39 petitioners' counsel attempted to present in evidence a document that would supposedly support the claim of petitioner Citibank that the proceeds of PNs No. 23356 and 23357 were used by respondent to open one of her two TD accounts in the amount of P500,000.00. Respondent's counsel objected to

the presentation of the document since it was a mere "xerox" copy, and was blurred and hardly readable. Petitioners' counsel then asked for a continuance of the hearing so that they can have time to produce a better document, which was granted by the court. However, during the next hearing and continuance of Mr. Pujeda's testimony on 12 March 1990, petitioners' counsel no longer referred to the said document. As respondent had established a prima facie case that petitioner Citibank is obligated to her for the amounts stated in PNs No. 23356 and 23357, and as petitioner Citibank failed to present sufficient proof of payment of the said PNs and the use by the respondent of the proceeds thereof to open her TD accounts, this Court finds that PNs No. 23356 and 23357 are still outstanding and petitioner Citibank is still liable to respondent for the amounts stated therein. The significance of this Court's declaration that PNs No. 23356 and 23357 are still outstanding becomes apparent in the light of petitioners' next contentions that respondent used the proceeds of PNs No. 23356 and 23357, together with additional money, to open TD Accounts No. 17783 and 17784 with petitioner Citibank; and, subsequently, respondent preterminated these TD accounts and transferred the proceeds thereof, amounting to P1,100,000.00, to petitioner FNCB Finance for money market placements. While respondent's money market placements with petitioner FNCB Finance may be traced back with definiteness to TD Accounts No. 17783 and 17784, there is only flimsy and unsubstantiated connection between the said TD accounts and the supposed proceeds paid from PNs No. 23356 and 23357. With PNs No. 23356 and 23357 still unpaid, then they represent an obligation of petitioner Citibank separate and distinct from the obligation of petitioner FNCB Finance arising from respondent's money market placements with the latter. Money market placements with petitioner FNCB Finance According to petitioners, respondent's TD Accounts No. 17783 and 17784, in the total amount of P1,100,000.00, were supposed to mature on 15 March 1978. However, respondent, through a letter dated 28 April 1977,40 pre-terminated the said TD accounts and transferred all the proceeds thereof to petitioner FNCB Finance for money market placement. Pursuant to her instructions, TD Accounts No. 17783 and 17784 were pre-terminated and petitioner Citibank (then still named First National City Bank) issued

Manager's Checks (MC) No. 19925341 and 19925142 for the amounts of P500,000.00 and P600,00.00, respectively. Both MCs were payable to Citifinance (which, according to Mr. Pujeda,43 was one with and the same as petitioner FNCB Finance), with the additional notation that "A/C MODESTA R. SABENIANO." Typewritten on MC No. 199253 is the phrase "Ref. Proceeds of TD 17783," and on MC No. 199251 is a similar phrase, "Ref. Proceeds of TD 17784." These phrases purportedly established that the MCs were paid from the proceeds of respondent's pre-terminated TD accounts with petitioner Citibank. Upon receipt of the MCs, petitioner FNCB Finance deposited the same to its account with Feati Bank and Trust Co., as evidenced by the rubber stamp mark of the latter found at the back of both MCs. In exchange, petitioner FNCB Finance booked the amounts received as money market placements, and accordingly issued PNs No. 4952 and 4962, for the amounts of P500,000.00 and P600,000.00, respectively, payable to respondent's savings account with petitioner Citibank, S/A No. 25-13703-4, upon their maturity on 1 June 1977. Once again, respondent rolled-over several times the principal amounts of her money market placements with petitioner FNCB Finance, as follows Date Interest PN Cancels Maturity Date Amount No. PN No. (mm/dd/yyyy) (mm/dd/yyyy) (P) (p.a.) 04/29/1977 4952 None 06/01/1977 500,000.00 17% 4962 None 06/01/1977 600,000.00 17% 06/02/1977 5757 4952 08/31/1977 500,000.00 17% 5758 4962 08/31/1977 500,000.00 17% 08/31/1977 8167 5757 08/25/1978 500,000.00 14% 8169 5752 08/25/1978 500,000.00 14% As presented by the petitioner FNCB Finance, respondent rolled-over only the principal amounts of her money market placements as she chose to receive the interest income therefrom. Petitioner FNCB Finance also pointed out that when PN No. 4962, with principal amount of P600,000.00, matured on 1 June 1977, respondent received a partial payment of the principal which, together with the interest, amounted to P102,633.33;44 thus, only the amount of P500,000.00 from PN No. 4962 was rolled-over to PN No. 5758.

Based on the foregoing records, the principal amounts of PNs No. 5757 and 5758, upon their maturity, were rolled over to PNs No. 8167 and 8169, respectively. PN No. 816745 expressly canceled and superseded PN No. 5757, while PN No. 816946 also explicitly canceled and superseded PN No. 5758. Thus, it is patently erroneous for the Court of Appeals to still award to respondent the principal amounts and interests covered by PNs No. 5757 and 5758 when these were already canceled and superseded. It is now incumbent upon this Court to determine what subsequently happened to PNs No. 8167 and 8169. Petitioner FNCB Finance presented four checks as proof of payment of the principal amounts and interests of PNs No. 8167 and 8169 upon their maturity. All the checks were payable to respondent's savings account with petitioner Citibank, with the following details of Check Amount Notation No. (P) (mm/dd/yyyy) 09/01/1978 76962 12,833.34 Interest payment on PN#08167 09/01/1978 76961 12,833.34 Interest payment on PN#08169 09/05/1978 77035 500,000.00 Full payment of principal on PN#08167 which is hereby cancelled 09/05/ 1978 77034 500,000.00 Full payment of principal on PN#08169 which is hereby cancelled Date Issuance

Then again, Checks No. 77035 and 77034 were later returned to petitioner FNCB Finance together with a memo,47 dated 6 September 1978, from Mr. Tan of petitioner Citibank, to a Mr. Bobby Mendoza of petitioner FNCB Finance. According to the memo, the two checks, in the total amount of P1,000,000.00, were to be returned to respondent's account with instructions to book the said amount in money market placements for one more year. Pursuant to the said memo, Checks No. 77035 and 77034 were invested by petitioner FNCB Finance, on behalf of respondent, in money market placements for which it issued PNs No. 20138 and 20139. The PNs each covered P500,000.00, to earn 11% interest per annum, and to mature on 3 September 1979. On 3 September 1979, petitioner FNCB Finance issued Check No. 100168, pay to the order of "Citibank N.A. A/C Modesta Sabeniano," in the amount of P1,022,916.66, as full payment of the principal amounts and interests of both PNs No. 20138 and 20139 and, resultantly, canceling the said PNs.48 Respondent actually admitted the issuance and existence of Check No. 100168, but with the qualification that the proceeds thereof were turned over to petitioner Citibank.49 Respondent did not clarify the circumstances attending the supposed turn over, but on the basis of the allegations of petitioner Citibank itself, the proceeds of PNs No. 20138 and 20139, amounting to P1,022,916.66, was used by it to liquidate respondent's outstanding loans. Therefore, the determination of whether or not respondent is still entitled to the return of the proceeds of PNs No. 20138 and 20139 shall be dependent on the resolution of the issues raised as to the existence of the loans and the authority of petitioner Citibank to use the proceeds of the said PNs, together with respondent's other deposits and money market placements, to pay for the same. Savings and current accounts with petitioner Citibank Respondent presented and submitted before the RTC deposit slips and bank statements to prove deposits made to several of her accounts with petitioner Citibank, particularly, Accounts No. 00484202, 59091, and 472751, which would have amounted to a total of P3,812,712.32, had there been no withdrawals or debits from the said accounts from the time the said deposits were made. Although the RTC and the Court of Appeals did not make any definitive findings as to the status of respondent's savings and current accounts with

petitioner Citibank, the Decisions of both the trial and appellate courts effectively recognized only the P31,079.14 coming from respondent's savings account which was used to off-set her alleged outstanding loans with petitioner Citibank.50 Since both the RTC and the Court of Appeals had consistently recognized only the P31,079.14 of respondent's savings account with petitioner Citibank, and that respondent failed to move for reconsideration or to appeal this particular finding of fact by the trial and appellate courts, it is already binding upon this Court. Respondent is already precluded from claiming any greater amount in her savings and current accounts with petitioner Citibank. Thus, this Court shall limit itself to determining whether or not respondent is entitled to the return of the amount of P31,079.14 should the off-set thereof by petitioner Citibank against her supposed loans be found invalid. Dollar accounts with Citibank-Geneva Respondent made an effort of preparing and presenting before the RTC her own computations of her money market placements and dollar accounts with Citibank-Geneva, purportedly amounting to a total of United States (US) $343,220.98, as of 23 June 1985.51 In her Memorandum filed with the RTC, she claimed a much bigger amount of deposits and money market placements with Citibank-Geneva, totaling US$1,336,638.65.52 However, respondent herself also submitted as part of her formal offer of evidence the computation of her money market placements and dollar accounts with Citibank-Geneva as determined by the latter.53 Citibank-Geneva accounted for respondent's money market placements and dollar accounts as follows MODESTA SABENIANO ================== US$ + US$ US$ US$ 30'000.-339.06 95.-30'244.06 &/OR

Principal Fid. Placement Interest at 3,875% p.a. from 12.07. 25.10.79 Commission (minimum) Total proceeds on

25.10.1979 US$ + US$ US$ US$ US$ + US$ US$ US$ 114'000.-1'358.50 41.17 Principal Fid. Placement Interest at 4,125% p.a. from 12.07. 25.10.79 Commission on

115'317.33 Total proceeds 25.10.1979

145'561.39 Total proceeds of both placements on 25.10.1979 11'381.31 total of accounts both current

156'942.70 Total funds available 149'632.99 Transfer to Citibank Manila on 26.10.1979 (counter value of Pesos 1'102'944.78) 7'309.71 6'998.84 Balance in current accounts Transfer to Citibank Zuerich ac no. 121359 on March 13, 1980 various charges including closing charges

US$ US$ US$

310.87

According to the foregoing computation, by 25 October 1979, respondent had a total of US$156,942.70, from which, US$149,632.99 was transferred by Citibank-Geneva to petitioner Citibank in Manila, and was used by the latter to off-set respondent's outstanding loans. The balance of respondent's accounts with Citibank-Geneva, after the remittance to petitioner Citibank in Manila, amounted to US$7,309.71, which was subsequently expended by a

transfer to another account with Citibank-Zuerich, in the amount of US$6,998.84, and by payment of various bank charges, including closing charges, in the amount of US$310.87. Rightly so, both the RTC and the Court of Appeals gave more credence to the computation of CitibankGeneva as to the status of respondent's accounts with the said bank, rather than the one prepared by respondent herself, which was evidently selfserving. Once again, this Court shall limit itself to determining whether or not respondent is entitled to the return of the amount of US$149,632.99 should the off-set thereof by petitioner Citibank against her alleged outstanding loans be found invalid. Respondent cannot claim any greater amount since she did not perfect an appeal of the Decision of the Court of Appeals, dated 26 March 2002, which found that she is entitled only to the return of the said amount, as far as her accounts with Citibank-Geneva is concerned. III Petitioner Citibank was able to establish by preponderance of evidence the existence of respondent's loans. Petitioners' version of events In sum, the following amounts were used by petitioner Citibank to liquidate respondent's purported outstanding loans Description Amount Principal and interests of PNs No. 20138 and 20139 (money market placements with P petitioner FNCB Finance) 1,022,916.66 Savings account with petitioner Citibank 31,079.14 Dollar remittance from CitibankGeneva (peso equivalent of US$149,632.99) 1,102,944.78 P Total 2,156,940.58 According to petitioner Citibank, respondent incurred her loans under the circumstances narrated below.

As early as 9 February 1978, respondent obtained her first loan from petitioner Citibank in the principal amount of P200,000.00, for which she executed PN No. 31504.54 Petitioner Citibank extended to her several other loans in the succeeding months. Some of these loans were paid, while others were rolled-over or renewed. Significant to the Petition at bar are the loans which respondent obtained from July 1978 to January 1979, appropriately covered by PNs (first set).55 The aggregate principal amount of these loans was P1,920,000.00, which could be broken down as follows PN No. Date Issuance of Date Maturity of Principal Amount Date Release of MC No.

(mm/dd/yyyy) (mm/dd/yyyy) (mm/dd/yyyy) 32935 07/20/1978 09/18/1978 P 07/20/1978 220701 400,000.00 33751 10/13/1978 12/12/1978 100,000.00 Unrecovered 33798 10/19/1978 11/03/1978 100,000.00 10/19/1978 226285 34025 11/15/1978 01/15/1979 150,000.00 11/16/1978 226439 34079 11/21/1978 01/19/1979 250,000.00 11/21/1978 226467 34192 12/04/1978 01/18/1979 100,000.00 12/05/1978 228057 34402 12/26/1978 02/23/1979 300,000.00 12/26/1978 228203 34534 01/09/1979 03/09/1979 150,000.00 01/09/1979 228270 34609 01/17/1979 03/19/1979 150,000.00 01/17/1979 228357 34740 01/30/1979 03/30/1979 220,000.00 01/30/1979 228400 Total P 1,920,000.00 When respondent was unable to pay the first set of PNs upon their maturity, these were rolled-over or renewed several times, necessitating the execution by respondent of new PNs in favor of petitioner Citibank. As of 5 April 1979, respondent had the following outstanding PNs (second set),56 the principal amount of which remained at P1,920,000.00 PN No. Date Issuance of Date Maturity of Principal Amount

(mm/dd/yyyy) (mm/dd/yyyy)

34510 01/01/1979 34509 01/02/1979 34534 01/09/1979 34612 01/19/1979 34741 01/26/1979 35689 02/23/1979 35694 03/19/1979 35695 03/19/1979 356946 03/20/1979 35697 03/30/1979 Total

03/02/1979 03/02/1979 03/09/1979 03/16/1979 03/12/1979 05/29/1979 05/29/1979 05/29/1979 05/29/1979 05/29/1979

P 400,000.00 100,000.00 150,000.00 150,000.00 100,000.00 300,000.00 150,000.00 100,000.00 250,000.00 220,000.00 P 1,920,000.00

All the PNs stated that the purpose of the loans covered thereby is "To liquidate existing obligation," except for PN No. 34534, which stated for its purpose "personal investment." Respondent secured her foregoing loans with petitioner Citibank by executing Deeds of Assignment of her money market placements with petitioner FNCB Finance. On 2 March 1978, respondent executed in favor of petitioner Citibank a Deed of Assignment57 of PN No. 8169, which was issued by petitioner FNCB Finance, to secure payment of the credit and banking facilities extended to her by petitioner Citibank, in the aggregate principal amount of P500,000.00. On 9 March 1978, respondent executed in favor of petitioner Citibank another Deed of Assignment,58 this time, of PN No. 8167, also issued by petitioner FNCB Finance, to secure payment of the credit and banking facilities extended to her by petitioner Citibank, in the aggregate amount of P500,000.00. When PNs No. 8167 and 8169, representing respondent's money market placements with petitioner FNCB Finance, matured and were rolled-over to PNs No. 20138 and 20139, respondent executed new Deeds of Assignment,59 in favor of petitioner Citibank, on 25 August 1978. According to the more recent Deeds, respondent assigned PNs No. 20138 and 20139, representing her rolledover money market placements with petitioner FNCB Finance, to petitioner Citibank as security for the banking and credit facilities it extended to her, in the aggregate principal amount of P500,000.00 per Deed.

In addition to the Deeds of Assignment of her money market placements with petitioner FNCB Finance, respondent also executed a Declaration of Pledge,60 in which she supposedly pledged "[a]ll present and future fiduciary placements held in my personal and/or joint name with Citibank, Switzerland," to secure all claims the petitioner Citibank may have or, in the future, acquire against respondent. The petitioners' copy of the Declaration of Pledge is undated, while that of the respondent, a copy certified by a Citibank-Geneva officer, bore the date 24 September 1979.61 When respondent failed to pay the second set of PNs upon their maturity, an exchange of letters ensued between respondent and/or her representatives, on one hand, and the representatives of petitioners, on the other. The first letter62 was dated 5 April 1979, addressed to respondent and signed by Mr. Tan, as the manager of petitioner Citibank, which stated, in part, that Despite our repeated requests and follow-up, we regret you have not granted us with any response or payment. We, therefore, have no alternative but to call your loan of P1,920,000.00 plus interests and other charges due and demandable. If you still fail to settle this obligation by 4/27/79, we shall have no other alternative but to refer your account to our lawyers for legal action to protect the interest of the bank. Respondent sent a reply letter63 dated 26 April 1979, printed on paper bearing the letterhead of respondent's company, MC Adore International Palace, the body of which reads This is in reply to your letter dated April 5, 1979 inviting my attention to my loan which has become due. Pursuant to our representation with you over the telephone through Mr. F. A. Tan, you allow us to pay the interests due for the meantime. Please accept our Comtrust Check in the amount of P62,683.33. Please bear with us for a little while, at most ninety days. As you know, we have a pending loan with the Development Bank of the Philippines in the amount of P11-M. This loan has already been recommended for

approval and would be submitted to the Board of Governors. In fact, to further facilitate the early release of this loan, we have presented and furnished Gov. J. Tengco a xerox copy of your letter. You will be doing our corporation a very viable service, should you grant us our request for a little more time. A week later or on 3 May 1979, a certain C. N. Pugeda, designated as "Executive Secretary," sent a letter64 to petitioner Citibank, on behalf of respondent. The letter was again printed on paper bearing the letterhead of MC Adore International Palace. The pertinent paragraphs of the said letter are reproduced below Per instructions of Mrs. Modesta R. Sabeniano, we would like to request for a re-computation of the interest and penalty charges on her loan in the aggregate amount of P1,920,000.00 with maturity date of all promissory notes at June 30, 1979. As she has personally discussed with you yesterday, this date will more or less assure you of early settlement. In this regard, please entrust to bearer, our Comtrust check for P62,683.33 to be replaced by another check with amount resulting from the new computation. Also, to facilitate the processing of the same, may we request for another set of promissory notes for the signature of Mrs. Sabeniano and to cancel the previous ones she has signed and forwarded to you. This was followed by a telegram,65 dated 5 June 1979, and received by petitioner Citibank the following day. The telegram was sent by a Dewey G. Soriano, Legal Counsel. The telegram acknowledged receipt of the telegram sent by petitioner Citibank regarding the "re-past due obligation" of McAdore International Palace. However, it reported that respondent, the President and Chairman of MC Adore International Palace, was presently abroad negotiating for a big loan. Thus, he was requesting for an extension of the due date of the obligation until respondent's arrival on or before 31 July 1979. The next letter,66 dated 21 June 1979, was signed by respondent herself and addressed to Mr. Bobby Mendoza, a Manager of petitioner FNCB Finance. Respondent wrote therein

Re: PN No. 20138 for P500,000.00 & PN No. 20139 for P500,000.00 totalling P1 Million, both PNs will mature on 9/3/1979. This is to authorize you to release the accrued quarterly interests payment from my captioned placements and forward directly to Citibank, Manila Attention: Mr. F. A. Tan, Manager, to apply to my interest payable on my outstanding loan with Citibank. Please note that the captioned two placements are continuously pledged/hypothecated to Citibank, Manila to support my personal outstanding loan. Therefore, please do not release the captioned placements upon maturity until you have received the instruction from Citibank, Manila. On even date, respondent sent another letter67 to Mr. Tan of petitioner Citibank, stating that Re: S/A and C/A No. 484-946 No. 25-225928

This letter serves as an authority to debit whatever the outstanding balance from my captioned accounts and credit the amount to my loan outstanding account with you. Unlike respondent's earlier letters, both letters, dated 21 June 1979, are printed on plain paper, without the letterhead of her company, MC Adore International Palace. By 5 September 1979, respondent's outstanding and past due obligations to petitioner Citibank totaled P2,123,843.20, representing the principal amounts plus interests. Relying on respondent's Deeds of Assignment, petitioner Citibank applied the proceeds of respondent's money market placements with petitioner FNCB Finance, as well as her deposit account with petitioner Citibank, to partly liquidate respondent's outstanding loan balance,68 as follows Respondent's outstanding P obligation (principal and interest) 2,123,843.20 Less: Proceeds from respondent's

money market placements with petitioner FNCB Finance (1,022,916.66) (principal and interest) Deposits in respondent's bank accounts with petitioner Citibank (31,079.14) Balance of respondent's obligation P 1,069,847.40 Mr. Tan of petitioner Citibank subsequently sent a letter,69 dated 28 September 1979, notifying respondent of the status of her loans and the foregoing compensation which petitioner Citibank effected. In the letter, Mr. Tan informed respondent that she still had a remaining past-due obligation in the amount of P1,069,847.40, as of 5 September 1979, and should respondent fail to pay the amount by 15 October 1979, then petitioner Citibank shall proceed to off-set the unpaid amount with respondent's other collateral, particularly, a money market placement in Citibank-Hongkong. On 5 October 1979, respondent wrote Mr. Tan of petitioner Citibank, on paper bearing the letterhead of MC Adore International Palace, as regards the P1,920,000.00 loan account supposedly of MC Adore Finance & Investment, Inc., and requested for a statement of account covering the principal and interest of the loan as of 31 October 1979. She stated therein that the loan obligation shall be paid within 60 days from receipt of the statement of account. Almost three weeks later, or on 25 October 1979, a certain Atty. Moises Tolentino dropped by the office of petitioner Citibank, with a letter, dated 9 October 1979, and printed on paper with the letterhead of MC Adore International Palace, which authorized the bearer thereof to represent the respondent in settling the overdue account, this time, purportedly, of MC Adore International Palace Hotel. The letter was signed by respondent as the President and Chairman of the Board. Eventually, Atty. Antonio Agcaoili of Agcaoili & Associates, as counsel of petitioner Citibank, sent a letter to respondent, dated 31 October 1979, informing her that petitioner Citibank had effected an off-set using her account with Citibank-Geneva, in the amount of US$149,632.99, against her

"outstanding, overdue, demandable and unpaid obligation" to petitioner Citibank. Atty. Agcaoili claimed therein that the compensation or off-set was made pursuant to and in accordance with the provisions of Articles 1278 through 1290 of the Civil Code. He further declared that respondent's obligation to petitioner Citibank was now fully paid and liquidated. Unfortunately, on 7 October 1987, a fire gutted the 7th floor of petitioner Citibank's building at Paseo de Roxas St., Makati, Metro Manila. Petitioners submitted a Certification70 to this effect, dated 17 January 1991, issued by the Chief of the Arson Investigation Section, Fire District III, Makati Fire Station, Metropolitan Police Force. The 7th floor of petitioner Citibank's building housed its Control Division, which was in charge of keeping the necessary documents for cases in which it was involved. After compiling the documentary evidence for the present case, Atty. Renato J. Fernandez, internal legal counsel of petitioner Citibank, forwarded them to the Control Division. The original copies of the MCs, which supposedly represent the proceeds of the first set of PNs, as well as that of other documentary evidence related to the case, were among those burned in the said fire.71 Respondent's version of events Respondent disputed petitioners' narration of the circumstances surrounding her loans with petitioner Citibank and the alleged authority she gave for the off-set or compensation of her money market placements and deposit accounts with petitioners against her loan obligation. Respondent denied outright executing the first set of PNs, except for one (PN No. 34534 in particular). Although she admitted that she obtained several loans from petitioner Citibank, these only amounted to P1,150,000.00, and she had already paid them. She secured from petitioner Citibank two loans of P500,000.00 each. She executed in favor of petitioner Citibank the corresponding PNs for the loans and the Deeds of Assignment of her money market placements with petitioner FNCB Finance as security.72 To prove payment of these loans, respondent presented two provisional receipts of petitioner Citibank No. 19471,73 dated 11 August 1978, and No. 12723,74 dated 10 November 1978 both signed by Mr. Tan, and acknowledging receipt from respondent of several checks in the total amount of P500,744.00 and P500,000.00, respectively, for "liquidation of loan."

She borrowed another P150,000.00 from petitioner Citibank for personal investment, and for which she executed PN No. 34534, on 9 January 1979. Thus, she admitted to receiving the proceeds of this loan via MC No. 228270. She invested the loan amount in another money market placement with petitioner FNCB Finance. In turn, she used the very same money market placement with petitioner FNCB Finance as security for her P150,000.00 loan from petitioner Citibank. When she failed to pay the loan when it became due, petitioner Citibank allegedly forfeited her money market placement with petitioner FNCB Finance and, thus, the loan was already paid.75 Respondent likewise questioned the MCs presented by petitioners, except for one (MC No. 228270 in particular), as proof that she received the proceeds of the loans covered by the first set of PNs. As recounted in the preceding paragraph, respondent admitted to obtaining a loan of P150,000.00, covered by PN No. 34534, and receiving MC No. 228270 representing the proceeds thereof, but claimed that she already paid the same. She denied ever receiving MCs No. 220701 (for the loan of P400,000.00, covered by PN No. 33935) and No. 226467 (for the loan of P250,000.00, covered by PN No. 34079), and pointed out that the checks did not bear her indorsements. She did not deny receiving all other checks but she interposed that she received these checks, not as proceeds of loans, but as payment of the principal amounts and/or interests from her money market placements with petitioner Citibank. She also raised doubts as to the notation on each of the checks that reads "RE: Proceeds of PN#[corresponding PN No.]," saying that such notation did not appear on the MCs when she originally received them and that the notation appears to have been written by a typewriter different from that used in writing all other information on the checks (i.e., date, payee, and amount).76 She even testified that MCs were not supposed to bear notations indicating the purpose for which they were issued. As to the second set of PNs, respondent acknowledged having signed them all. However, she asserted that she only executed these PNs as part of the simulated loans she and Mr. Tan of petitioner Citibank concocted. Respondent explained that she had a pending loan application for a big amount with the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), and when Mr. Tan found out about this, he suggested that they could make it appear that the respondent had outstanding loans with petitioner Citibank and the latter

was already demanding payment thereof; this might persuade DBP to approve respondent's loan application. Mr. Tan made the respondent sign the second set of PNs, so that he may have something to show the DBP investigator who might inquire with petitioner Citibank as to respondent's loans with the latter. On her own copies of the said PNs, respondent wrote by hand the notation, "This isa (sic) simulated non-negotiable note, signed copy given to Mr. Tan., (sic) per agreement to be shown to DBP representative. itwill (sic) be returned to me if the P11=M (sic) loan for MC Adore Palace Hotel is approved by DBP."77 Findings of this Court as to the existence of the loans After going through the testimonial and documentary evidence presented by both sides to this case, it is this Court's assessment that respondent did indeed have outstanding loans with petitioner Citibank at the time it effected the off-set or compensation on 25 July 1979 (using respondent's savings deposit with petitioner Citibank), 5 September 1979 (using the proceeds of respondent's money market placements with petitioner FNCB Finance) and 26 October 1979 (using respondent's dollar accounts remitted from Citibank-Geneva). The totality of petitioners' evidence as to the existence of the said loans preponderates over respondent's. Preponderant evidence means that, as a whole, the evidence adduced by one side outweighs that of the adverse party.78 Respondent's outstanding obligation for P1,920,000.00 had been sufficiently documented by petitioner Citibank. The second set of PNs is a mere renewal of the prior loans originally covered by the first set of PNs, except for PN No. 34534. The first set of PNs is supported, in turn, by the existence of the MCs that represent the proceeds thereof received by the respondent. It bears to emphasize that the proceeds of the loans were paid to respondent in MCs, with the respondent specifically named as payee. MCs checks are drawn by the bank's manager upon the bank itself and regarded to be as good as the money it represents.79 Moreover, the MCs were crossed checks, with the words "Payee's Account Only." In general, a crossed check cannot be presented to the drawee bank for payment in cash. Instead, the check can only be deposited with the payee's

bank which, in turn, must present it for payment against the drawee bank in the course of normal banking hours. The crossed check cannot be presented for payment, but it can only be deposited and the drawee bank may only pay to another bank in the payee's or indorser's account.80 The effect of crossing a check was described by this Court in Philippine Commercial International Bank v. Court of Appeals81 [T]he crossing of a check with the phrase "Payee's Account Only" is a warning that the check should be deposited in the account of the payee. Thus, it is the duty of the collecting bank PCI Bank to ascertain that the check be deposited in payee's account only. It is bound to scrutinize the check and to know its depositors before it can make the clearing indorsement "all prior indorsements and/or lack of indorsement guaranteed." The crossed MCs presented by petitioner Bank were indeed deposited in several different bank accounts and cleared by the Clearing Office of the Central Bank of the Philippines, as evidenced by the stamp marks and notations on the said checks. The crossed MCs are already in the possession of petitioner Citibank, the drawee bank, which was ultimately responsible for the payment of the amount stated in the checks. Given that a check is more than just an instrument of credit used in commercial transactions for it also serves as a receipt or evidence for the drawee bank of the cancellation of the said check due to payment,82 then, the possession by petitioner Citibank of the said MCs, duly stamped "Paid" gives rise to the presumption that the said MCs were already paid out to the intended payee, who was in this case, the respondent. This Court finds applicable herein the presumptions that private transactions have been fair and regular,83 and that the ordinary course of business has been followed.84 There is no question that the loan transaction between petitioner Citibank and the respondent is a private transaction. The transactions revolving around the crossed MCs from their issuance by petitioner Citibank to respondent as payment of the proceeds of her loans; to its deposit in respondent's accounts with several different banks; to the clearing of the MCs by an independent clearing house; and finally, to the payment of the MCs by petitioner Citibank as the drawee bank of the said checks are all private transactions which shall be presumed to have been fair and regular to all the parties concerned. In addition, the banks involved

in the foregoing transactions are also presumed to have followed the ordinary course of business in the acceptance of the crossed MCs for deposit in respondent's accounts, submitting them for clearing, and their eventual payment and cancellation. The afore-stated presumptions are disputable, meaning, they are satisfactory if uncontradicted, but may be contradicted and overcome by other evidence.85 Respondent, however, was unable to present sufficient and credible evidence to dispute these presumptions. It should be recalled that out of the nine MCs presented by petitioner Citibank, respondent admitted to receiving one as proceeds of a loan (MC No. 228270), denied receiving two (MCs No. 220701 and 226467), and admitted to receiving all the rest, but not as proceeds of her loans, but as return on the principal amounts and interests from her money market placements. Respondent admitted receiving MC No. 228270 representing the proceeds of her loan covered by PN No. 34534. Although the principal amount of the loan is P150,000.00, respondent only received P146,312.50, because the interest and handling fee on the loan transaction were already deducted therefrom.86 Stamps and notations at the back of MC No. 228270 reveal that it was deposited at the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), Cubao Branch, in Account No. 0123-0572-28.87 The check also bore the signature of respondent at the back.88 And, although respondent would later admit that she did sign PN No. 34534 and received MC No. 228270 as proceeds of the loan extended to her by petitioner Citibank, she contradicted herself when, in an earlier testimony, she claimed that PN No. 34534 was among the PNs she executed as simulated loans with petitioner Citibank.89 Respondent denied ever receiving MCs No. 220701 and 226467. However, considering that the said checks were crossed for payee's account only, and that they were actually deposited, cleared, and paid, then the presumption would be that the said checks were properly deposited to the account of respondent, who was clearly named the payee in the checks. Respondent's bare allegations that she did not receive the two checks fail to convince this Court, for to sustain her, would be for this Court to conclude that an irregularity had occurred somewhere from the time of the issuance of the said checks, to their deposit, clearance, and payment, and which would have involved not only petitioner Citibank, but also BPI, which accepted the

checks for deposit, and the Central Bank of the Philippines, which cleared the checks. It falls upon the respondent to overcome or dispute the presumption that the crossed checks were issued, accepted for deposit, cleared, and paid for by the banks involved following the ordinary course of their business. The mere fact that MCs No. 220701 and 226467 do not bear respondent's signature at the back does not negate deposit thereof in her account. The liability for the lack of indorsement on the MCs no longer fall on petitioner Citibank, but on the bank who received the same for deposit, in this case, BPI Cubao Branch. Once again, it must be noted that the MCs were crossed, for payee's account only, and the payee named in both checks was none other than respondent. The crossing of the MCs was already a warning to BPI to receive said checks for deposit only in respondent's account. It was up to BPI to verify whether it was receiving the crossed MCs in accordance with the instructions on the face thereof. If, indeed, the MCs were deposited in accounts other than respondent's, then the respondent would have a cause of action against BPI.90 BPI further stamped its guarantee on the back of the checks to the effect that, "All prior endorsement and/or Lack of endorsement guaranteed." Thus, BPI became the indorser of the MCs, and assumed all the warranties of an indorser,91 specifically, that the checks were genuine and in all respects what they purported to be; that it had a good title to the checks; that all prior parties had capacity to contract; and that the checks were, at the time of their indorsement, valid and subsisting.92 So even if the MCs deposited by BPI's client, whether it be by respondent herself or some other person, lacked the necessary indorsement, BPI, as the collecting bank, is bound by its warranties as an indorser and cannot set up the defense of lack of indorsement as against petitioner Citibank, the drawee bank.93 Furthermore, respondent's bare and unsubstantiated denial of receipt of the MCs in question and their deposit in her account is rendered suspect when MC No. 220701 was actually deposited in Account No. 0123-0572-28 of BPI Cubao Branch, the very same account in which MC No. 228270 (which respondent admitted to receiving as proceeds of her loan from petitioner Citibank), and MCs No. 228203, 228357, and 228400 (which respondent admitted to receiving as proceeds from her money market placements) were deposited. Likewise, MC No. 226467 was deposited in Account No. 0121-

002-43 of BPI Cubao Branch, to which MCs No. 226285 and 226439 (which respondent admitted to receiving as proceeds from her money market placements) were deposited. It is an apparent contradiction for respondent to claim having received the proceeds of checks deposited in an account, and then deny receiving the proceeds of another check deposited in the very same account. Another inconsistency in respondent's denial of receipt of MC No. 226467 and her deposit of the same in her account, is her presentation of Exhibit "HHH," a provisional receipt which was supposed to prove that respondent turned over P500,000.00 to Mr. Tan of petitioner Citibank, that the said amount was split into three money market placements, and that MC No. 226467 represented the return on her investment from one of these placements.94 Because of her Exhibit "HHH," respondent effectively admitted receipt of MC No. 226467, although for reasons other than as proceeds of a loan. Neither can this Court give credence to respondent's contention that the notations on the MCs, stating that they were the proceeds of particular PNs, were not there when she received the checks and that the notations appeared to be written by a typewriter different from that used to write the other information on the checks. Once more, respondent's allegations were uncorroborated by any other evidence. Her and her counsel's observation that the notations on the MCs appear to be written by a typewriter different from that used to write the other information on the checks hardly convinces this Court considering that it constitutes a mere opinion on the appearance of the notation by a witness who does not possess the necessary expertise on the matter. In addition, the notations on the MCs were written using both capital and small letters, while the other information on the checks were written using capital letters only, such difference could easily confuse an untrained eye and lead to a hasty conclusion that they were written by different typewriters. Respondent's testimony, that based on her experience transacting with banks, the MCs were not supposed to include notations on the purpose for which the checks were issued, also deserves scant consideration. While respondent may have extensive experience dealing with banks, it still does not qualify her as a competent witness on banking procedures and practices. Her testimony on this matter is even belied by the fact that the

other MCs issued by petitioner Citibank (when it was still named First National City Bank) and by petitioner FNCB Finance, the existence and validity of which were not disputed by respondent, also bear similar notations that state the reason for which they were issued. Respondent presented several more pieces of evidence to substantiate her claim that she received MCs No. 226285, 226439, 226467, 226057, 228357, and 228400, not as proceeds of her loans from petitioner Citibank, but as the return of the principal amounts and payment of interests from her money market placements with petitioners. Part of respondent's exhibits were personal checks95 drawn by respondent on her account with Feati Bank & Trust Co., which she allegedly invested in separate money market placements with both petitioners, the returns from which were paid to her via MCs No. 226285 and 228400. Yet, to this Court, the personal checks only managed to establish respondent's issuance thereof, but there was nothing on the face of the checks that would reveal the purpose for which they were issued and that they were actually invested in money market placements as respondent claimed. Respondent further submitted handwritten notes that purportedly computed and presented the returns on her money market placements, corresponding to the amount stated in the MCs she received from petitioner Citibank. Exhibit "HHH-1"96 was a handwritten note, which respondent attributed to Mr. Tan of petitioner Citibank, showing the breakdown of her BPI Check for P500,000.00 into three different money market placements with petitioner Citibank. This Court, however, noticed several factors which render the note highly suspect. One, it was written on the reversed side of Provisional Receipt No. 12724 of petitioner Citibank which bore the initials of Mr. Tan acknowledging receipt of respondent's BPI Check No. 120989 for P500,000.00; but the initials on the handwritten note appeared to be that of Mr. Bobby Mendoza of petitioner FNCB Finance.97 Second, according to Provisional Receipt No. 12724, BPI Check No. 120989 for P500,000.00 was supposed to be invested in three money market placements with petitioner Citibank for the period of 60 days. Since all these money market placements were made through one check deposited on the same day, 10 November 1978, it made no sense that the handwritten note at the back of Provisional Receipt No. 12724 provided for different dates of maturity for each of the money market placements (i.e., 16 November 1978, 17 January 1979, and 21 November 1978), and such dates did not correspond to the 60 day

placement period stated on the face of the provisional receipt. And third, the principal amounts of the money market placements as stated in the handwritten note P145,000.00, P145,000.00 and P242,000.00 totaled P532,000.00, and was obviously in excess of the P500,000.00 acknowledged on the face of Provisional Receipt No. 12724. Exhibits "III" and "III-1," the front and bank pages of a handwritten note of Mr. Bobby Mendoza of petitioner FNCB Finance,98 also did not deserve much evidentiary weight, and this Court cannot rely on the truth and accuracy of the computations presented therein. Mr. Mendoza was not presented as a witness during the trial before the RTC, so that the document was not properly authenticated nor its contents sufficiently explained. No one was able to competently identify whether the initials as appearing on the note were actually Mr. Mendoza's. Also, going by the information on the front page of the note, this Court observes that payment of respondent's alleged money market placements with petitioner FNCB Finance were made using Citytrust Checks; the MCs in question, including MC No. 228057, were issued by petitioner Citibank. Although Citytrust (formerly Feati Bank & Trust Co.), petitioner FNCB Finance, and petitioner Citibank may be affiliates of one another, they each remained separate and distinct corporations, each having its own financial system and records. Thus, this Court cannot simply assume that one corporation, such as petitioner Citibank or Citytrust, can issue a check to discharge an obligation of petitioner FNCB Finance. It should be recalled that when petitioner FNCB Finance paid for respondent's money market placements, covered by its PNs No. 8167 and 8169, as well as PNs No. 20138 and 20139, petitioner FNCB Finance issued its own checks. As a last point on this matter, if respondent truly had money market placements with petitioners, then these would have been evidenced by PNs issued by either petitioner Citibank or petitioner FNCB Finance, acknowledging the principal amounts of the investments, and stating the applicable interest rates, as well as the dates of their of issuance and maturity. After respondent had so meticulously reconstructed her other money market placements with petitioners and consolidated the documentary evidence thereon, she came surprisingly short of offering similar details and substantiation for these particular money market placements.

Since this Court is satisfied that respondent indeed received the proceeds of the first set of PNs, then it proceeds to analyze her evidence of payment thereof. In support of respondent's assertion that she had already paid whatever loans she may have had with petitioner Citibank, she presented as evidence Provisional Receipts No. 19471, dated 11 August 1978, and No. 12723, dated 10 November 1978, both of petitioner Citibank and signed by Mr. Tan, for the amounts of P500,744.00 and P500,000.00, respectively. While these provisional receipts did state that Mr. Tan, on behalf of petitioner Citibank, received respondent's checks as payment for her loans, they failed to specifically identify which loans were actually paid. Petitioner Citibank was able to present evidence that respondent had executed several PNs in the years 1978 and 1979 to cover the loans she secured from the said bank. Petitioner Citibank did admit that respondent was able to pay for some of these PNs, and what it identified as the first and second sets of PNs were only those which remained unpaid. It thus became incumbent upon respondent to prove that the checks received by Mr. Tan were actually applied to the PNs in either the first or second set; a fact that, unfortunately, cannot be determined from the provisional receipts submitted by respondent since they only generally stated that the checks received by Mr. Tan were payment for respondent's loans. Mr. Tan, in his deposition, further explained that provisional receipts were issued when payment to the bank was made using checks, since the checks would still be subject to clearing. The purpose for the provisional receipts was merely to acknowledge the delivery of the checks to the possession of the bank, but not yet of payment.99 This bank practice finds legitimacy in the pronouncement of this Court that a check, whether an MC or an ordinary check, is not legal tender and, therefore, cannot constitute valid tender of payment. In Philippine Airlines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 100 this Court elucidated that: Since a negotiable instrument is only a substitute for money and not money, the delivery of such an instrument does not, by itself, operate as payment (Sec. 189, Act 2031 on Negs. Insts.; Art. 1249, Civil Code; Bryan Landon Co. v. American Bank, 7 Phil. 255; Tan Sunco, v. Santos, 9 Phil. 44; 21 R.C.L. 60, 61). A check, whether a manager's check or ordinary check, is not legal tender, and an offer of a check in

payment of a debt is not a valid tender of payment and may be refused receipt by the obligee or creditor. Mere delivery of checks does not discharge the obligation under a judgment. The obligation is not extinguished and remains suspended until the payment by commercial document is actually realized (Art. 1249, Civil Code, par. 3). In the case at bar, the issuance of an official receipt by petitioner Citibank would have been dependent on whether the checks delivered by respondent were actually cleared and paid for by the drawee banks. As for PN No. 34534, respondent asserted payment thereof at two separate instances by two different means. In her formal offer of exhibits, respondent submitted a deposit slip of petitioner Citibank, dated 11 August 1978, evidencing the deposit of BPI Check No. 5785 for P150,000.00.101 In her Formal Offer of Documentary Exhibits, dated 7 July 1989, respondent stated that the purpose for the presentation of the said deposit slip was to prove that she already paid her loan covered by PN No. 34534.102 In her testimony before the RTC three years later, on 28 November 1991, she changed her story. This time she narrated that the loan covered by PN No. 34534 was secured by her money market placement with petitioner FNCB Finance, and when she failed to pay the said PN when it became due, the security was applied to the loan, therefore, the loan was considered paid.103 Given the foregoing, respondent's assertion of payment of PN No. 34534 is extremely dubious. According to petitioner Citibank, the PNs in the second set, except for PN No. 34534, were mere renewals of the unpaid PNs in the first set, which was why the PNs stated that they were for the purpose of liquidating existing obligations. PN No. 34534, however, which was part of the first set, was still valid and subsisting and so it was included in the second set without need for its renewal, and it still being the original PN for that particular loan, its stated purpose was for personal investment.104 Respondent essentially admitted executing the second set of PNs, but they were only meant to cover simulated loans. Mr. Tan supposedly convinced her that her pending loan application with DBP would have a greater chance of being approved if they made it appear that respondent urgently needed the money because petitioner Citibank was already demanding payment for her simulated loans.

Respondent's defense of simulated loans to escape liability for the second set of PNs is truly a novel one. It is regrettable, however, that she was unable to substantiate the same. Yet again, respondent's version of events is totally based on her own uncorroborated testimony. The notations on the second set of PNs, that they were non-negotiable simulated notes, were admittedly made by respondent herself and were, thus, self-serving. Equally self-serving was respondent's letter, written on 7 October 1985, or more than six years after the execution of the second set of PNs, in which she demanded return of the simulated or fictitious PNs, together with the letters relating thereto, which Mr. Tan purportedly asked her to execute. Respondent further failed to present any proof of her alleged loan application with the DBP, and of any circumstance or correspondence wherein the simulated or fictitious PNs were indeed used for their supposed purpose. In contrast, petitioner Citibank, as supported by the testimonies of its officers and available documentation, consistently treated the said PNs as regular loans accepted, approved, and paid in the ordinary course of its business. The PNs executed by the respondent in favor of petitioner Citibank to cover her loans were duly-filled out and signed, including the disclosure statement found at the back of the said PNs, in adherence to the Central Bank requirement to disclose the full finance charges to a loan granted to borrowers. Mr. Tan, then an account officer with the Marketing Department of petitioner Citibank, testified that he dealt directly with respondent; he facilitated the loans; and the PNs, at least in the second set, were signed by respondent in his presence.105 Mr. Pujeda, the officer who was previously in charge of loans and placements, confirmed that the signatures on the PNs were verified against respondent's specimen signature with the bank.106 Ms. Cristina Dondoyano, who worked at petitioner Citibank as a loan processor, was responsible for booking respondent's loans. Booking the loans means recording it in the General Ledger. She explained the procedure for booking loans, as follows: The account officer, in the Marketing Department, deals directly with the clients who wish to borrow

money from petitioner Citibank. The Marketing Department will forward a loan booking checklist, together with the borrowing client's PNs and other supporting documents, to the loan pre-processor, who will check whether the details in the loan booking checklist are the same as those in the PNs. The documents are then sent to Signature Control for verification of the client's signature in the PNs, after which, they are returned to the loan preprocessor, to be forwarded finally to the loan processor. The loan processor shall book the loan in the General Ledger, indicating therein the client name, loan amount, interest rate, maturity date, and the corresponding PN number. Since she booked respondent's loans personally, Ms. Dondoyano testified that she saw the original PNs. In 1986, Atty. Fernandez of petitioner Citibank requested her to prepare an accounting of respondent's loans, which she did, and which was presented as Exhibit "120" for the petitioners. The figures from the said exhibit were culled from the bookings in the General Ledger, a fact which respondent's counsel was even willing to stipulate.107 Ms. Teresita Glorioso was an Investigation and Reconcilement Clerk at the Control Department of petitioner Citibank. She was presented by petitioner Citibank to expound on the microfilming procedure at the bank, since most of the copies of the PNs were retrieved from microfilm. Microfilming of the documents are actually done by people at the Operations Department. At the end of the day or during the day, the original copies of all bank documents, not just those pertaining to loans, are microfilmed. She refuted the possibility that insertions could be made in the microfilm because the microfilm is inserted in a cassette; the cassette is placed in the microfilm machine for use; at the end of the day, the cassette is taken out of the microfilm machine and put in a safe vault; and the cassette is returned to the machine only the following day for use, until the spool is full. This is the microfilming procedure followed everyday. When the microfilm spool is already full, the microfilm is developed, then sent to the Control Department, which double checks the contents of the microfilms against the entries in the General Ledger. The Control Department also conducts a random comparison of the contents of the microfilms with the original documents; a random review of the contents is done on every role of microfilm.108 Ms. Renee Rubio worked for petitioner Citibank for 20 years. She rose from the ranks, initially working as a secretary in the Personnel Group; then as a secretary to the Personnel Group Head; a Service Assistant with the

Marketing Group, in 1972 to 1974, dealing directly with corporate and individual clients who, among other things, secured loans from petitioner Citibank; the Head of the Collection Group of the Foreign Department in 1974 to 1976; the Head of the Money Transfer Unit in 1976 to 1978; the Head of the Loans and Placements Unit up to the early 1980s; and, thereafter, she established operations training for petitioner Citibank in the Asia-Pacific Region responsible for the training of the officers of the bank. She testified on the standard loan application process at petitioner Citibank. According to Ms. Rubio, the account officer or marketing person submits a proposal to grant a loan to an individual or corporation. Petitioner Citibank has a worldwide policy that requires a credit committee, composed of a minimum of three people, which would approve the loan and amount thereof. There can be no instance when only one officer has the power to approve the loan application. When the loan is approved, the account officer in charge will obtain the corresponding PNs from the client. The PNs are sent to the signature verifier who would validate the signatures therein against those appearing in the signature cards previously submitted by the client to the bank. The Operations Unit will check and review the documents, including the PNs, if it is a clean loan, and securities and deposits, if it is collateralized. The loan is then recorded in the General Ledger. The Loans and Placements Department will not book the loans without the PNs. When the PNs are liquidated, whether they are paid or rolled-over, they are returned to the client.109 Ms. Rubio further explained that she was familiar with respondent's accounts since, while she was still the Head of the Loan and Placements Unit, she was asked by Mr. Tan to prepare a list of respondent's outstanding obligations.110 She thus calculated respondent's outstanding loans, which was sent as an attachment to Mr. Tan's letter to respondent, dated 28 September 1979, and presented before the RTC as Exhibits "34-B" and "34-C."111 Lastly, the exchange of letters between petitioner Citibank and respondent, as well as the letters sent by other people working for respondent, had consistently recognized that respondent owed petitioner Citibank money. In consideration of the foregoing discussion, this Court finds that the preponderance of evidence supports the existence of the respondent's loans, in the principal sum of P1,920,000.00, as of 5 September 1979. While it is well-settled that the term "preponderance of evidence" should not be

wholly dependent on the number of witnesses, there are certain instances when the number of witnesses become the determining factor The preponderance of evidence may be determined, under certain conditions, by the number of witnesses testifying to a particular fact or state of facts. For instance, one or two witnesses may testify to a given state of facts, and six or seven witnesses of equal candor, fairness, intelligence, and truthfulness, and equally well corroborated by all the remaining evidence, who have no greater interest in the result of the suit, testify against such state of facts. Then the preponderance of evidence is determined by the number of witnesses. (Wilcox vs. Hines, 100 Tenn. 524, 66 Am. St. Rep., 761.)112 Best evidence rule This Court disagrees in the pronouncement made by the Court of Appeals summarily dismissing the documentary evidence submitted by petitioners based on its broad and indiscriminate application of the best evidence rule. In general, the best evidence rule requires that the highest available degree of proof must be produced. Accordingly, for documentary evidence, the contents of a document are best proved by the production of the document itself,113 to the exclusion of any secondary or substitutionary evidence.114 The best evidence rule has been made part of the revised Rules of Court, Rule 130, Section 3, which reads SEC. 3. Original document must be produced; exceptions. When the subject of inquiry is the contents of a document, no evidence shall be admissible other than the original document itself, except in the following cases: (a) When the original has been lost or destroyed, or cannot be produced in court, without bad faith on the part of the offeror; (b) When the original is in the custody or under the control of the party against whom the evidence is offered, and the latter fails to produce it after reasonable notice; (c) When the original consists of numerous accounts or other documents which cannot be examined in court without great loss of

time and the fact sought to be established from them is only the general result of the whole; and (d) When the original is a public record in the custody of a public officer or is recorded in a public office. As the afore-quoted provision states, the best evidence rule applies only when the subject of the inquiry is the contents of the document. The scope of the rule is more extensively explained thus But even with respect to documentary evidence, the best evidence rule applies only when the content of such document is the subject of the inquiry. Where the issue is only as to whether such document was actually executed, or exists, or on the circumstances relevant to or surrounding its execution, the best evidence rule does not apply and testimonial evidence is admissible (5 Moran, op. cit., pp. 76-66; 4 Martin, op. cit., p. 78). Any other substitutionary evidence is likewise admissible without need for accounting for the original. Thus, when a document is presented to prove its existence or condition it is offered not as documentary, but as real, evidence. Parol evidence of the fact of execution of the documents is allowed (Hernaez, et al. vs. McGrath, etc., et al., 91 Phil 565). x x x 115 In Estrada v. Desierto,116 this Court had occasion to rule that It is true that the Court relied not upon the original but only copy of the Angara Diary as published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on February 4-6, 2001. In doing so, the Court, did not, however, violate the best evidence rule. Wigmore, in his book on evidence, states that: "Production of the original may be dispensed with, in the trial court's discretion, whenever in the case in hand the opponent does not bona fide dispute the contents of the document and no other useful purpose will be served by requiring production.24 "x x x x "In several Canadian provinces, the principle of unavailability has been abandoned, for certain documents in which ordinarily no real dispute arised. This measure is a sensible and progressive one and deserves

universal adoption (post, sec. 1233). Its essential feature is that a copy may be used unconditionally, if the opponent has been given an opportunity to inspect it." (Emphasis supplied.) This Court did not violate the best evidence rule when it considered and weighed in evidence the photocopies and microfilm copies of the PNs, MCs, and letters submitted by the petitioners to establish the existence of respondent's loans. The terms or contents of these documents were never the point of contention in the Petition at bar. It was respondent's position that the PNs in the first set (with the exception of PN No. 34534) never existed, while the PNs in the second set (again, excluding PN No. 34534) were merely executed to cover simulated loan transactions. As for the MCs representing the proceeds of the loans, the respondent either denied receipt of certain MCs or admitted receipt of the other MCs but for another purpose. Respondent further admitted the letters she wrote personally or through her representatives to Mr. Tan of petitioner Citibank acknowledging the loans, except that she claimed that these letters were just meant to keep up the ruse of the simulated loans. Thus, respondent questioned the documents as to their existence or execution, or when the former is admitted, as to the purpose for which the documents were executed, matters which are, undoubtedly, external to the documents, and which had nothing to do with the contents thereof. Alternatively, even if it is granted that the best evidence rule should apply to the evidence presented by petitioners regarding the existence of respondent's loans, it should be borne in mind that the rule admits of the following exceptions under Rule 130, Section 5 of the revised Rules of Court SEC. 5. When the original document is unavailable. When the original document has been lost or destroyed, or cannot be produced in court, the offeror, upon proof of its execution or existence and the cause of its unavailability without bad faith on his part, may prove its contents by a copy, or by a recital of its contents in some authentic document, or by the testimony of witnesses in the order stated. The execution or existence of the original copies of the documents was established through the testimonies of witnesses, such as Mr. Tan, before whom most of the documents were personally executed by respondent. The original PNs also went through the whole loan booking system of petitioner

Citibank from the account officer in its Marketing Department, to the preprocessor, to the signature verifier, back to the pre-processor, then to the processor for booking.117 The original PNs were seen by Ms. Dondoyano, the processor, who recorded them in the General Ledger. Mr. Pujeda personally saw the original MCs, proving respondent's receipt of the proceeds of her loans from petitioner Citibank, when he helped Attys. Cleofe and Fernandez, the bank's legal counsels, to reconstruct the records of respondent's loans. The original MCs were presented to Atty. Cleofe who used the same during the preliminary investigation of the case, sometime in years 1986-1987. The original MCs were subsequently turned over to the Control and Investigation Division of petitioner Citibank.118 It was only petitioner FNCB Finance who claimed that they lost the original copies of the PNs when it moved to a new office. Citibank did not make a similar contention; instead, it explained that the original copies of the PNs were returned to the borrower upon liquidation of the loan, either through payment or roll-over. Petitioner Citibank proffered the excuse that they were still looking for the documents in their storage or warehouse to explain the delay and difficulty in the retrieval thereof, but not their absence or loss. The original documents in this case, such as the MCs and letters, were destroyed and, thus, unavailable for presentation before the RTC only on 7 October 1987, when a fire broke out on the 7th floor of the office building of petitioner Citibank. There is no showing that the fire was intentionally set. The fire destroyed relevant documents, not just of the present case, but also of other cases, since the 7th floor housed the Control and Investigation Division, in charge of keeping the necessary documents for cases in which petitioner Citibank was involved. The foregoing would have been sufficient to allow the presentation of photocopies or microfilm copies of the PNs, MCs, and letters by the petitioners as secondary evidence to establish the existence of respondent's loans, as an exception to the best evidence rule. The impact of the Decision of the Court of Appeals in the Dy case In its assailed Decision, the Court of Appeals made the following pronouncement Besides, We find the declaration and conclusions of this Court in CAG.R. CV No. 15934 entitled Sps. Dr. Ricardo L. Dy and Rosalind O. Dy

vs. City Bank, N.A., et al, promulgated on 15 January 1990, as disturbing taking into consideration the similarities of the fraud, machinations, and deceits employed by the defendant-appellant Citibank and its Account Manager Francisco Tan. Worthy of note is the fact that Our declarations and conclusions against Citibank and the person of Francisco Tan in CA-G.R. CV No. 15934 were affirmed in toto by the Highest Magistrate in a Minute Resolution dated 22 August 1990 entitled Citibank, N.A., vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. 93350. As the factual milieu of the present appeal created reasonable doubts as to whether the nine (9) Promissory Notes were indeed executed with considerations, the doubts, coupled by the findings and conclusions of this Court in CA-G.R. CV No. 15934 and the Supreme Court in G.R. No. 93350. should be construed against herein defendants-appellants Citibank and FNCB Finance. What this Court truly finds disturbing is the significance given by the Court of Appeals in its assailed Decision to the Decision119 of its Third Division in CA-G.R. CV No. 15934 (or the Dy case), when there is an absolute lack of legal basis for doing such. Although petitioner Citibank and its officer, Mr. Tan, were also involved in the Dy case, that is about the only connection between the Dy case and the one at bar. Not only did the Dy case tackle transactions between parties other than the parties presently before this Court, but the transactions are absolutely independent and unrelated to those in the instant Petition. In the Dy case, Severino Chua Caedo managed to obtain loans from herein petitioner Citibank amounting to P7,000,000.00, secured to the extent of P5,000,000.00 by a Third Party Real Estate Mortgage of the properties of Caedo's aunt, Rosalind Dy. It turned out that Rosalind Dy and her husband were unaware of the said loans and the mortgage of their properties. The transactions were carried out exclusively between Caedo and Mr. Tan of petitioner Citibank. The RTC found Mr. Tan guilty of fraud for his participation in the questionable transactions, essentially because he allowed Caedo to take out the signature cards, when these should have been signed by the Dy spouses personally before him. Although the Dy spouses' signatures in the PNs and Third Party Real Estate Mortgage were

forged, they were approved by the signature verifier since the signature cards against which they were compared to were also forged. Neither the RTC nor the Court of Appeals, however, categorically declared Mr. Tan personally responsible for the forgeries, which, in the narration of the facts, were more likely committed by Caedo. In the Petition at bar, respondent dealt with Mr. Tan directly, there was no third party involved who could have perpetrated any fraud or forgery in her loan transactions. Although respondent attempted to raise suspicion as to the authenticity of her signatures on certain documents, these were nothing more than naked allegations with no corroborating evidence; worse, even her own allegations were replete with inconsistencies. She could not even establish in what manner or under what circumstances the fraud or forgery was committed, or how Mr. Tan could have been directly responsible for the same. While the Court of Appeals can take judicial notice of the Decision of its Third Division in the Dy case, it should not have given the said case much weight when it rendered the assailed Decision, since the former does not constitute a precedent. The Court of Appeals, in the challenged Decision, did not apply any legal argument or principle established in the Dy case but, rather, adopted the findings therein of wrongdoing or misconduct on the part of herein petitioner Citibank and Mr. Tan. Any finding of wrongdoing or misconduct as against herein petitioners should be made based on the factual background and pieces of evidence submitted in this case, not those in another case. It is apparent that the Court of Appeals took judicial notice of the Dy case not as a legal precedent for the present case, but rather as evidence of similar acts committed by petitioner Citibank and Mr. Tan. A basic rule of evidence, however, states that, "Evidence that one did or did not do a certain thing at one time is not admissible to prove that he did or did not do the same or similar thing at another time; but it may be received to prove a specific intent or knowledge, identity, plan, system, scheme, habit, custom or usage, and the like."120 The rationale for the rule is explained thus The rule is founded upon reason, public policy, justice and judicial convenience. The fact that a person has committed the same or similar acts at some prior time affords, as a general rule, no logical guaranty that he committed the act in question. This is so because, subjectively,

a man's mind and even his modes of life may change; and, objectively, the conditions under which he may find himself at a given time may likewise change and thus induce him to act in a different way. Besides, if evidence of similar acts are to be invariably admitted, they will give rise to a multiplicity of collateral issues and will subject the defendant to surprise as well as confuse the court and prolong the trial.121 The factual backgrounds of the two cases are so different and unrelated that the Dy case cannot be used to prove specific intent, knowledge, identity, plan, system, scheme, habit, custom or usage on the part of petitioner Citibank or its officer, Mr. Tan, to defraud respondent in the present case. IV The liquidation of respondent's outstanding loans were valid in so far as petitioner Citibank used respondent's savings account with the bank and her money market placements with petitioner FNCB Finance; but illegal and void in so far as petitioner Citibank used respondent's dollar accounts with Citibank-Geneva. Savings Account with petitioner Citibank Compensation is a recognized mode of extinguishing obligations. Relevant provisions of the Civil Code provides Art. 1278. Compensation shall take place when two persons, in their own right, are creditors and debtors of each other. Art. 1279. In order that compensation may be proper, it is necessary; (1) That each one of the obligors be bound principally, and that he be at the same time a principal creditor of the other; (2) That both debts consist in a sum of money, or if the things due are consumable, they be of the same kind, and also of the same quality if the latter has been stated; (3) That the two debts be due; (4) That they be liquidated and demandable;

(5) That over neither of them there be any retention or controversy, commenced by third persons and communicated in due time to the debtor. There is little controversy when it comes to the right of petitioner Citibank to compensate respondent's outstanding loans with her deposit account. As already found by this Court, petitioner Citibank was the creditor of respondent for her outstanding loans. At the same time, respondent was the creditor of petitioner Citibank, as far as her deposit account was concerned, since bank deposits, whether fixed, savings, or current, should be considered as simple loan or mutuum by the depositor to the banking institution.122 Both debts consist in sums of money. By June 1979, all of respondent's PNs in the second set had matured and became demandable, while respondent's savings account was demandable anytime. Neither was there any retention or controversy over the PNs and the deposit account commenced by a third person and communicated in due time to the debtor concerned. Compensation takes place by operation of law,123 therefore, even in the absence of an expressed authority from respondent, petitioner Citibank had the right to effect, on 25 June 1979, the partial compensation or off-set of respondent's outstanding loans with her deposit account, amounting to P31,079.14. Money market placements with FNCB Finance Things though are not as simple and as straightforward as regards to the money market placements and bank account used by petitioner Citibank to complete the compensation or off-set of respondent's outstanding loans, which came from persons other than petitioner Citibank. Respondent's money market placements were with petitioner FNCB Finance, and after several roll-overs, they were ultimately covered by PNs No. 20138 and 20139, which, by 3 September 1979, the date the check for the proceeds of the said PNs were issued, amounted to P1,022,916.66, inclusive of the principal amounts and interests. As to these money market placements, respondent was the creditor and petitioner FNCB Finance the debtor; while, as to the outstanding loans, petitioner Citibank was the creditor and respondent the debtor. Consequently, legal compensation, under Article 1278 of the Civil Code, would not apply since the first requirement for a valid compensation, that each one of the obligors be

bound principally, and that he be at the same time a principal creditor of the other, was not met. What petitioner Citibank actually did was to exercise its rights to the proceeds of respondent's money market placements with petitioner FNCB Finance by virtue of the Deeds of Assignment executed by respondent in its favor. The Court of Appeals did not consider these Deeds of Assignment because of petitioners' failure to produce the original copies thereof in violation of the best evidence rule. This Court again finds itself in disagreement in the application of the best evidence rule by the appellate court. To recall, the best evidence rule, in so far as documentary evidence is concerned, requires the presentation of the original copy of the document only when the context thereof is the subject of inquiry in the case. Respondent does not question the contents of the Deeds of Assignment. While she admitted the existence and execution of the Deeds of Assignment, dated 2 March 1978 and 9 March 1978, covering PNs No. 8169 and 8167 issued by petitioner FNCB Finance, she claimed, as defense, that the loans for which the said Deeds were executed as security, were already paid. She denied ever executing both Deeds of Assignment, dated 25 August 1978, covering PNs No. 20138 and 20139. These are again issues collateral to the contents of the documents involved, which could be proven by evidence other than the original copies of the said documents. Moreover, the Deeds of Assignment of the money market placements with petitioner FNCB Finance were notarized documents, thus, admissible in evidence. Rule 132, Section 30 of the Rules of Court provides that SEC. 30. Proof of notarial documents. Every instrument duly acknowledged or proved and certified as provided by law, may be presented in evidence without further proof, the certificate of acknowledgement being prima facie evidence of the execution of the instrument or document involved. Significant herein is this Court's elucidation in De Jesus v. Court of Appeals,124 which reads

On the evidentiary value of these documents, it should be recalled that the notarization of a private document converts it into a public one and renders it admissible in court without further proof of its authenticity (Joson vs. Baltazar, 194 SCRA 114 [1991]). This is so because a public document duly executed and entered in the proper registry is presumed to be valid and genuine until the contrary is shown by clear and convincing proof (Asido vs. Guzman, 57 Phil. 652 [1918]; U.S. vs. Enriquez, 1 Phil 241 [1902]; Favor vs. Court of Appeals, 194 SCRA 308 [1991]). As such, the party challenging the recital of the document must prove his claim with clear and convincing evidence (Diaz vs. Court of Appeals, 145 SCRA 346 [1986]). The rule on the evidentiary weight that must be accorded a notarized document is clear and unambiguous. The certificate of acknowledgement in the notarized Deeds of Assignment constituted prima facie evidence of the execution thereof. Thus, the burden of refuting this presumption fell on respondent. She could have presented evidence of any defect or irregularity in the execution of the said documents125 or raised questions as to the verity of the notary public's acknowledgment and certificate in the Deeds.126 But again, respondent admitted executing the Deeds of Assignment, dated 2 March 1978 and 9 March 1978, although claiming that the loans for which they were executed as security were already paid. And, she assailed the Deeds of Assignment, dated 25 August 1978, with nothing more than her bare denial of execution thereof, hardly the clear and convincing evidence required to trounce the presumption of due execution of a notarized document. Petitioners not only presented the notarized Deeds of Assignment, but even secured certified literal copies thereof from the National Archives.127 Mr. Renato Medua, an archivist, working at the Records Management and Archives Office of the National Library, testified that the copies of the Deeds presented before the RTC were certified literal copies of those contained in the Notarial Registries of the notary publics concerned, which were already in the possession of the National Archives. He also explained that he could not bring to the RTC the Notarial Registries containing the original copies of the Deeds of Assignment, because the Department of Justice (DOJ) Circular No. 97, dated 8 November 1968, prohibits the bringing of original documents to the courts to prevent the loss of irreplaceable and priceless documents.128

Accordingly, this Court gives the Deeds of Assignment grave importance in establishing the authority given by the respondent to petitioner Citibank to use as security for her loans her money her market placements with petitioner FNCB Finance, represented by PNs No. 8167 and 8169, later to be rolled-over as PNs No. 20138 and 20139. These Deeds of Assignment constitute the law between the parties, and the obligations arising therefrom shall have the force of law between the parties and should be complied with in good faith.129 Standard clauses in all of the Deeds provide that The ASSIGNOR and the ASSIGNEE hereby further agree as follows: xxxx 2. In the event the OBLIGATIONS are not paid at maturity or upon demand, as the case may be, the ASSIGNEE is fully authorized and empowered to collect and receive the PLACEMENT (or so much thereof as may be necessary) and apply the same in payment of the OBLIGATIONS. Furthermore, the ASSIGNOR agrees that at any time, and from time to time, upon request by the ASSIGNEE, the ASSIGNOR will promptly execute and deliver any and all such further instruments and documents as may be necessary to effectuate this Assignment. xxxx 5. This Assignment shall be considered as sufficient authority to FNCB Finance to pay and deliver the PLACEMENT or so much thereof as may be necessary to liquidate the OBLIGATIONS, to the ASSIGNEE in accordance with terms and provisions hereof.130 Petitioner Citibank was only acting upon the authority granted to it under the foregoing Deeds when it finally used the proceeds of PNs No. 20138 and 20139, paid by petitioner FNCB Finance, to partly pay for respondent's outstanding loans. Strictly speaking, it did not effect a legal compensation or off-set under Article 1278 of the Civil Code, but rather, it partly extinguished respondent's obligations through the application of the security given by the respondent for her loans. Although the pertinent documents were entitled Deeds of Assignment, they were, in reality, more of a pledge by respondent to petitioner Citibank of her credit due from petitioner FNCB Finance by

virtue of her money market placements with the latter. According to Article 2118 of the Civil Code ART. 2118. If a credit has been pledged becomes due before it is redeemed, the pledgee may collect and receive the amount due. He shall apply the same to the payment of his claim, and deliver the surplus, should there be any, to the pledgor. PNs No. 20138 and 20139 matured on 3 September 1979, without them being redeemed by respondent, so that petitioner Citibank collected from petitioner FNCB Finance the proceeds thereof, which included the principal amounts and interests earned by the money market placements, amounting to P1,022,916.66, and applied the same against respondent's outstanding loans, leaving no surplus to be delivered to respondent. Dollar accounts with Citibank-Geneva Despite the legal compensation of respondent's savings account and the total application of the proceeds of PNs No. 20138 and 20139 to respondent's outstanding loans, there still remained a balance of P1,069,847.40. Petitioner Citibank then proceeded to applying respondent's dollar accounts with Citibank-Geneva against her remaining loan balance, pursuant to a Declaration of Pledge supposedly executed by respondent in its favor. Certain principles of private international law should be considered herein because the property pledged was in the possession of an entity in a foreign country, namely, Citibank-Geneva. In the absence of any allegation and evidence presented by petitioners of the specific rules and laws governing the constitution of a pledge in Geneva, Switzerland, they will be presumed to be the same as Philippine local or domestic laws; this is known as processual presumption.131 Upon closer scrutiny of the Declaration of Pledge, this Court finds the same exceedingly suspicious and irregular. First of all, it escapes this Court why petitioner Citibank took care to have the Deeds of Assignment of the PNs notarized, yet left the Declaration of Pledge unnotarized. This Court would think that petitioner Citibank would take greater cautionary measures with the preparation and execution of the

Declaration of Pledge because it involved respondent's "all present and future fiduciary placements" with a Citibank branch in another country, specifically, in Geneva, Switzerland. While there is no express legal requirement that the Declaration of Pledge had to be notarized to be effective, even so, it could not enjoy the same prima facie presumption of due execution that is extended to notarized documents, and petitioner Citibank must discharge the burden of proving due execution and authenticity of the Declaration of Pledge. Second, petitioner Citibank was unable to establish the date when the Declaration of Pledge was actually executed. The photocopy of the Declaration of Pledge submitted by petitioner Citibank before the RTC was undated.132 It presented only a photocopy of the pledge because it already forwarded the original copy thereof to Citibank-Geneva when it requested for the remittance of respondent's dollar accounts pursuant thereto. Respondent, on the other hand, was able to secure a copy of the Declaration of Pledge, certified by an officer of Citibank-Geneva, which bore the date 24 September 1979.133 Respondent, however, presented her passport and plane tickets to prove that she was out of the country on the said date and could not have signed the pledge. Petitioner Citibank insisted that the pledge was signed before 24 September 1979, but could not provide an explanation as to how and why the said date was written on the pledge. Although Mr. Tan testified that the Declaration of Pledge was signed by respondent personally before him, he could not give the exact date when the said signing took place. It is important to note that the copy of the Declaration of Pledge submitted by the respondent to the RTC was certified by an officer of Citibank-Geneva, which had possession of the original copy of the pledge. It is dated 24 September 1979, and this Court shall abide by the presumption that the written document is truly dated.134 Since it is undeniable that respondent was out of the country on 24 September 1979, then she could not have executed the pledge on the said date. Third, the Declaration of Pledge was irregularly filled-out. The pledge was in a standard printed form. It was constituted in favor of Citibank, N.A., otherwise referred to therein as the Bank. It should be noted, however, that in the space which should have named the pledgor, the name of petitioner Citibank was typewritten, to wit

The pledge right herewith constituted shall secure all claims which the Bank now has or in the future acquires against Citibank, N.A., Manila (full name and address of the Debtor), regardless of the legal cause or the transaction (for example current account, securities transactions, collections, credits, payments, documentary credits and collections) which gives rise thereto, and including principal, all contractual and penalty interest, commissions, charges, and costs. The pledge, therefore, made no sense, the pledgor and pledgee being the same entity. Was a mistake made by whoever filled-out the form? Yes, it could be a possibility. Nonetheless, considering the value of such a document, the mistake as to a significant detail in the pledge could only be committed with gross carelessness on the part of petitioner Citibank, and raised serious doubts as to the authenticity and due execution of the same. The Declaration of Pledge had passed through the hands of several bank officers in the country and abroad, yet, surprisingly and implausibly, no one noticed such a glaring mistake. Lastly, respondent denied that it was her signature on the Declaration of Pledge. She claimed that the signature was a forgery. When a document is assailed on the basis of forgery, the best evidence rule applies Basic is the rule of evidence that when the subject of inquiry is the contents of a document, no evidence is admissible other than the original document itself except in the instances mentioned in Section 3, Rule 130 of the Revised Rules of Court. Mere photocopies of documents are inadmissible pursuant to the best evidence rule. This is especially true when the issue is that of forgery. As a rule, forgery cannot be presumed and must be proved by clear, positive and convincing evidence and the burden of proof lies on the party alleging forgery. The best evidence of a forged signature in an instrument is the instrument itself reflecting the alleged forged signature. The fact of forgery can only be established by a comparison between the alleged forged signature and the authentic and genuine signature of the person whose signature is theorized upon to have been forged. Without the original document containing the alleged forged signature, one cannot make a definitive comparison which would establish forgery. A comparison based on a mere xerox copy or

reproduction of the document under controversy cannot produce reliable results.135 Respondent made several attempts to have the original copy of the pledge produced before the RTC so as to have it examined by experts. Yet, despite several Orders by the RTC,136 petitioner Citibank failed to comply with the production of the original Declaration of Pledge. It is admitted that CitibankGeneva had possession of the original copy of the pledge. While petitioner Citibank in Manila and its branch in Geneva may be separate and distinct entities, they are still incontestably related, and between petitioner Citibank and respondent, the former had more influence and resources to convince Citibank-Geneva to return, albeit temporarily, the original Declaration of Pledge. Petitioner Citibank did not present any evidence to convince this Court that it had exerted diligent efforts to secure the original copy of the pledge, nor did it proffer the reason why Citibank-Geneva obstinately refused to give it back, when such document would have been very vital to the case of petitioner Citibank. There is thus no justification to allow the presentation of a mere photocopy of the Declaration of Pledge in lieu of the original, and the photocopy of the pledge presented by petitioner Citibank has nil probative value.137 In addition, even if this Court cannot make a categorical finding that respondent's signature on the original copy of the pledge was forged, it is persuaded that petitioner Citibank willfully suppressed the presentation of the original document, and takes into consideration the presumption that the evidence willfully suppressed would be adverse to petitioner Citibank if produced.138 Without the Declaration of Pledge, petitioner Citibank had no authority to demand the remittance of respondent's dollar accounts with CitibankGeneva and to apply them to her outstanding loans. It cannot effect legal compensation under Article 1278 of the Civil Code since, petitioner Citibank itself admitted that Citibank-Geneva is a distinct and separate entity. As for the dollar accounts, respondent was the creditor and Citibank-Geneva is the debtor; and as for the outstanding loans, petitioner Citibank was the creditor and respondent was the debtor. The parties in these transactions were evidently not the principal creditor of each other. Therefore, this Court declares that the remittance of respondent's dollar accounts from Citibank-Geneva and the application thereof to her outstanding loans with petitioner Citibank was illegal, and null and void.

Resultantly, petitioner Citibank is obligated to return to respondent the amount of US$149,632,99 from her Citibank-Geneva accounts, or its present equivalent value in Philippine currency; and, at the same time, respondent continues to be obligated to petitioner Citibank for the balance of her outstanding loans which, as of 5 September 1979, amounted to P1,069,847.40. V The parties shall be liable for interests on their monetary obligations to each other, as determined herein. In summary, petitioner Citibank is ordered by this Court to pay respondent the proceeds of her money market placements, represented by PNs No. 23356 and 23357, amounting to P318,897.34 and P203,150.00, respectively, earning an interest of 14.5% per annum as stipulated in the PNs,139 beginning 17 March 1977, the date of the placements. Petitioner Citibank is also ordered to refund to respondent the amount of US$149,632.99, or its equivalent in Philippine currency, which had been remitted from her Citibank-Geneva accounts. These dollar accounts, consisting of two fiduciary placements and current accounts with CitibankGeneva shall continue earning their respective stipulated interests from 26 October 1979, the date of their remittance by Citibank-Geneva to petitioner Citibank in Manila and applied against respondent's outstanding loans. As for respondent, she is ordered to pay petitioner Citibank the balance of her outstanding loans, which amounted to P1,069,847.40 as of 5 September 1979. These loans continue to earn interest, as stipulated in the corresponding PNs, from the time of their respective maturity dates, since the supposed payment thereof using respondent's dollar accounts from Citibank-Geneva is deemed illegal, null and void, and, thus, ineffective. VI Petitioner Citibank shall be liable for damages to respondent. Petitioners protest the award by the Court of Appeals of moral damages, exemplary damages, and attorney's fees in favor of respondent. They argued that the RTC did not award any damages, and respondent, in her

appeal before the Court of Appeals, did not raise in issue the absence of such. While it is true that the general rule is that only errors which have been stated in the assignment of errors and properly argued in the brief shall be considered, this Court has also recognized exceptions to the general rule, wherein it authorized the review of matters, even those not assigned as errors in the appeal, if the consideration thereof is necessary in arriving at a just decision of the case, and there is a close inter-relation between the omitted assignment of error and those actually assigned and discussed by the appellant.140 Thus, the Court of Appeals did not err in awarding the damages when it already made findings that would justify and support the said award. Although this Court appreciates the right of petitioner Citibank to effect legal compensation of respondent's local deposits, as well as its right to the proceeds of PNs No. 20138 and 20139 by virtue of the notarized Deeds of Assignment, to partly extinguish respondent's outstanding loans, it finds that petitioner Citibank did commit wrong when it failed to pay and properly account for the proceeds of respondent's money market placements, evidenced by PNs No. 23356 and 23357, and when it sought the remittance of respondent's dollar accounts from Citibank-Geneva by virtue of a highlysuspect Declaration of Pledge to be applied to the remaining balance of respondent's outstanding loans. It bears to emphasize that banking is impressed with public interest and its fiduciary character requires high standards of integrity and performance.141 A bank is under the obligation to treat the accounts of its depositors with meticulous care whether such accounts consist only of a few hundred pesos or of millions of pesos.142 The bank must record every single transaction accurately, down to the last centavo, and as promptly as possible.143 Petitioner Citibank evidently failed to exercise the required degree of care and transparency in its transactions with respondent, thus, resulting in the wrongful deprivation of her property. Respondent had been deprived of substantial amounts of her investments and deposits for more than two decades. During this span of years, respondent had found herself in desperate need of the amounts wrongfully withheld from her. In her testimony144 before the RTC, respondent narrated

Q By the way Mrs. Witness will you kindly tell us again, you said before that you are a businesswoman, will you tell us again what are the businesses you are engaged into [sic]? A I am engaged in real estate. I am the owner of the Modesta Village 1 and 2 in San Mateo, Rizal. I am also the President and Chairman of the Board of Macador [sic] Co. and Business Inc. which operates the Macador [sic] International Palace Hotel. I am also the President of the Macador [sic] International Palace Hotel, and also the Treasures Home Industries, Inc. which I am the Chairman and president of the Board and also operating affiliated company in the name of Treasures Motor Sales engaged in car dealers [sic] like Delta Motors, we are the dealers of the whole Northern Luzon and I am the president of the Disto Company, Ltd., based in Hongkong licensed in Honkong [sic] and now operating in Los Angeles, California. Q What is the business of that Disto Company Ltd.? A Disto Company, Ltd., is engaged in real estate and construction. Q Aside from those businesses are you a member of any national or community organization for social and civil activities? A Yes sir. Q What are those? A I am the Vice-President of thes [sic] Subdivision Association of the Philippines in 1976, I am also an officer of the Chamber of Real Estate Business Association; I am also an officer of the Chatholic [sic] Women's League and I am also a member of the CMLI, I forgot the definition. Q How about any political affiliation or government position held if any? A I was also a candidate for Mayo last January 30, 1980. Q Where? A In Dagupan City, Pangasinan. Q What else?

A I also ran as an Assemblywoman last May, 1984, Independent party in Regional I, Pangasinan. Q What happened to your businesses you mentioned as a result of your failure to recover you [sic] investments and bank deposits from the defendants? A They are not all operating, in short, I was hampered to push through the businesses that I have. A [sic] Of all the businesses and enterprises that you mentioned what are those that are paralyzed and what remain inactive? A Of all the company [sic] that I have, only the Disto Company that is now operating in California. Q How about your candidacy as Mayor of Dagupan, [sic] City, and later as Assemblywoman of Region I, what happened to this? A I won by voting but when election comes on [sic] the counting I lost and I protested this, it is still pending and because I don't have financial resources I was not able to push through the case. I just have it pending in the Comelec. Q Now, do these things also affect your social and civic activities? A Yes sir, definitely. Q How? A I was embarrassed because being a businesswoman I would like to inform the Honorable Court that I was awarded as the most outstanding businesswoman of the year in 1976 but when this money was not given back to me I was not able to comply with the commitments that I have promised to these associations that I am engaged into [sic], sir. For the mental anguish, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, moral shock and social humiliation suffered by the respondent, the award of moral damages is but proper. However, this Court reduces the amount thereof to

P300,000.00, for the award of moral damages is meant to compensate for the actual injury suffered by the respondent, not to enrich her.145 Having failed to exercise more care and prudence than a private individual in its dealings with respondent, petitioner Citibank should be liable for exemplary damages, in the amount of P250,000.00, in accordance with Article 2229146 and 2234147 of the Civil Code. With the award of exemplary damages, then respondent shall also be entitled to an award of attorney's fees.148 Additionally, attorney's fees may be awarded when a party is compelled to litigate or to incur expenses to protect his interest by reason of an unjustified act of the other party.149 In this case, an award of P200,000.00 attorney's fees shall be satisfactory. In contrast, this Court finds no sufficient basis to award damages to petitioners. Respondent was compelled to institute the present case in the exercise of her rights and in the protection of her interests. In fact, although her Complaint before the RTC was not sustained in its entirety, it did raise meritorious points and on which this Court rules in her favor. Any injury resulting from the exercise of one's rights is damnum absque injuria.150 IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the instant Petition is PARTLY GRANTED. The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 51930, dated 26 March 2002, as already modified by its Resolution, dated 20 November 2002, is hereby AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATION, as follows 1. PNs No. 23356 and 23357 are DECLARED subsisting and outstanding. Petitioner Citibank is ORDERED to return to respondent the principal amounts of the said PNs, amounting to Three Hundred Eighteen Thousand Eight Hundred Ninety-Seven Pesos and Thirty-Four Centavos (P318,897.34) and Two Hundred Three Thousand One Hundred Fifty Pesos (P203,150.00), respectively, plus the stipulated interest of Fourteen and a half percent (14.5%) per annum, beginning 17 March 1977; 2. The remittance of One Hundred Forty-Nine Thousand Six Hundred Thirty Two US Dollars and Ninety-Nine Cents (US$149,632.99) from respondent's Citibank-Geneva accounts to petitioner Citibank in Manila, and the application of the same against respondent's outstanding loans with the latter, is DECLARED illegal, null and void. Petitioner Citibank is ORDERED to refund to respondent the said amount, or its equivalent in Philippine

currency using the exchange rate at the time of payment, plus the stipulated interest for each of the fiduciary placements and current accounts involved, beginning 26 October 1979; 3. Petitioner Citibank is ORDERED to pay respondent moral damages in the amount of Three Hundred Thousand Pesos (P300,000.00); exemplary damages in the amount of Two Hundred Fifty Thousand Pesos (P250,000.00); and attorney's fees in the amount of Two Hundred Thousand Pesos (P200,000.00); and 4. Respondent is ORDERED to pay petitioner Citibank the balance of her outstanding loans, which, from the respective dates of their maturity to 5 September 1979, was computed to be in the sum of One Million Sixty-Nine Thousand Eight Hundred Forty-Seven Pesos and Forty Centavos (P1,069,847.40), inclusive of interest. These outstanding loans shall continue to earn interest, at the rates stipulated in the corresponding PNs, from 5 September 1979 until payment thereof. SO ORDERED.

Demosthenes P. Agan, Jr., et al. vs. PIATCO, et al.,402 SCRA 612 (2003)
Republic SUPREME Manila EN BANC G.R. No. 155001 May 5, 2003 of the Philippines COURT

DEMOSTHENES P. AGAN, JR., JOSEPH B. CATAHAN, JOSE MARI B. REUNILLA, MANUEL ANTONIO B. BOE, MAMERTO S. CLARA, REUEL E. DIMALANTA, MORY V. DOMALAON, CONRADO G. DIMAANO, LOLITA R. HIZON, REMEDIOS P. ADOLFO, BIENVENIDO C. HILARIO, MIASCOR WORKERS UNION - NATIONAL LABOR UNION (MWU-NLU), and PHILIPPINE AIRLINES EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION (PALEA), petitioners, vs. PHILIPPINE INTERNATIONAL AIR TERMINALS CO., INC., MANILA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AUTHORITY, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS and SECRETARY LEANDRO M. MENDOZA, in his capacity as Head of the Department of Transportation and Communications, respondents, MIASCOR GROUNDHANDLING CORPORATION, DNATA-WINGS AVIATION SYSTEMS CORPORATION, MACROASIA-EUREST SERVICES, INC., MACROASIA-MENZIES AIRPORT SERVICES CORPORATION, MIASCOR CATERING SERVICES CORPORATION, MIASCOR AIRCRAFT MAINTENANCE CORPORATION, and MIASCOR LOGISTICS CORPORATION, petitioners-in-intervention, x---------------------------------------------------------x G.R. No. 155547 May 5, 2003 SALACNIB F. BATERINA, CLAVEL A. MARTINEZ and CONSTANTINO G. JARAULA, petitioners, vs. PHILIPPINE INTERNATIONAL AIR TERMINALS CO., INC., MANILA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AUTHORITY, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS, DEPARTMENT OF

PUBLIC WORKS AND HIGHWAYS, SECRETARY LEANDRO M. MENDOZA, in his capacity as Head of the Department of Transportation and Communications, and SECRETARY SIMEON A. DATUMANONG, in his capacity as Head of the Department of Public Works and Highways, respondents, JACINTO V. PARAS, RAFAEL P. NANTES, EDUARDO C. ZIALCITA, WILLY BUYSON VILLARAMA, PROSPERO C. NOGRALES, PROSPERO A. PICHAY, JR., HARLIN CAST ABAYON, and BENASING O. MACARANBON, respondents-intervenors, x---------------------------------------------------------x G.R. No. 155661 May 5, 2003 CEFERINO C. LOPEZ, RAMON M. SALES, ALFREDO B. VALENCIA, MA. TERESA V. GAERLAN, LEONARDO DE LA ROSA, DINA C. DE LEON, VIRGIE CATAMIN RONALD SCHLOBOM, ANGELITO SANTOS, MA. LUISA M. PALCON and SAMAHANG MANGGAGAWA SA PALIPARAN NG PILIPINAS (SMPP), petitioners, vs. PHILIPPINE INTERNATIONAL AIR TERMINALS CO., INC., MANILA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AUTHORITY, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS, SECRETARY LEANDRO M. MENDOZA, in his capacity as Head of the Department of Transportation and Communications, respondents. PUNO, J.: Petitioners and petitioners-in-intervention filed the instant petitions for prohibition under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court seeking to prohibit the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and its Secretary from implementing the following agreements executed by the Philippine Government through the DOTC and the MIAA and the Philippine International Air Terminals Co., Inc. (PIATCO): (1) the Concession Agreement signed on July 12, 1997, (2) the Amended and Restated Concession Agreement dated November 26, 1999, (3) the First Supplement to the Amended and Restated Concession Agreement dated August 27, 1999, (4) the Second Supplement to the Amended and Restated Concession Agreement dated September 4, 2000, and (5) the Third

Supplement to the Amended and Restated Concession Agreement dated June 22, 2001 (collectively, the PIATCO Contracts). The facts are as follows: In August 1989, the DOTC engaged the services of Aeroport de Paris (ADP) to conduct a comprehensive study of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and determine whether the present airport can cope with the traffic development up to the year 2010. The study consisted of two parts: first, traffic forecasts, capacity of existing facilities, NAIA future requirements, proposed master plans and development plans; and second, presentation of the preliminary design of the passenger terminal building. The ADP submitted a Draft Final Report to the DOTC in December 1989. Some time in 1993, six business leaders consisting of John Gokongwei, Andrew Gotianun, Henry Sy, Sr., Lucio Tan, George Ty and Alfonso Yuchengco met with then President Fidel V. Ramos to explore the possibility of investing in the construction and operation of a new international airport terminal. To signify their commitment to pursue the project, they formed the Asia's Emerging Dragon Corp. (AEDC) which was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on September 15, 1993. On October 5, 1994, AEDC submitted an unsolicited proposal to the Government through the DOTC/MIAA for the development of NAIA International Passenger Terminal III (NAIA IPT III) under a buildoperate-and-transfer arrangement pursuant to RA 6957 as amended by RA 7718 (BOT Law).1 On December 2, 1994, the DOTC issued Dept. Order No. 94-832 constituting the Prequalification Bids and Awards Committee (PBAC) for the implementation of the NAIA IPT III project. On March 27, 1995, then DOTC Secretary Jose Garcia endorsed the proposal of AEDC to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). A revised proposal, however, was forwarded by the DOTC to NEDA on December 13, 1995. On January 5, 1996, the NEDA Investment Coordinating Council (NEDA ICC) Technical Board favorably endorsed the project to the ICC Cabinet Committee which approved the same,

subject to certain conditions, on January 19, 1996. On February 13, 1996, the NEDA passed Board Resolution No. 2 which approved the NAIA IPT III project. On June 7, 14, and 21, 1996, DOTC/MIAA caused the publication in two daily newspapers of an invitation for competitive or comparative proposals on AEDC's unsolicited proposal, in accordance with Sec. 4-A of RA 6957, as amended. The alternative bidders were required to submit three (3) sealed envelopes on or before 5:00 p.m. of September 20, 1996. The first envelope should contain the Prequalification Documents, the second envelope the Technical Proposal, and the third envelope the Financial Proposal of the proponent. On June 20, 1996, PBAC Bulletin No. 1 was issued, postponing the availment of the Bid Documents and the submission of the comparative bid proposals. Interested firms were permitted to obtain the Request for Proposal Documents beginning June 28, 1996, upon submission of a written application and payment of a non-refundable fee of P50,000.00 (US$2,000). The Bid Documents issued by the PBAC provided among others that the proponent must have adequate capability to sustain the financing requirement for the detailed engineering, design, construction, operation, and maintenance phases of the project. The proponent would be evaluated based on its ability to provide a minimum amount of equity to the project, and its capacity to secure external financing for the project. On July 23, 1996, the PBAC issued PBAC Bulletin No. 2 inviting all bidders to a pre-bid conference on July 29, 1996. On August 16, 1996, the PBAC issued PBAC Bulletin No. 3 amending the Bid Documents. The following amendments were made on the Bid Documents: a. Aside from the fixed Annual Guaranteed Payment, the proponent shall include in its financial proposal an additional percentage of gross revenue share of the Government, as follows: i. First 5 years ii. Next 10 years iii. Next 10 years 5.0% 7.5% 10.0%

b. The amount of the fixed Annual Guaranteed Payment shall be subject of the price challenge. Proponent may offer an Annual Guaranteed Payment which need not be of equal amount, but payment of which shall start upon site possession. c. The project proponent must have adequate capability to sustain the financing requirement for the detailed engineering, design, construction, and/or operation and maintenance phases of the project as the case may be. For purposes of pre-qualification, this capability shall be measured in terms of: i. Proof of the availability of the project proponent and/or the consortium to provide the minimum amount of equity for the project; and ii. a letter testimonial from reputable banks attesting that the project proponent and/or the members of the consortium are banking with them, that the project proponent and/or the members are of good financial standing, and have adequate resources. d. The basis for the prequalification shall be the proponent's compliance with the minimum technical and financial requirements provided in the Bid Documents and the IRR of the BOT Law. The minimum amount of equity shall be 30% of the Project Cost. e. Amendments to the draft Concession Agreement shall be issued from time to time. Said amendments shall only cover items that would not materially affect the preparation of the proponent's proposal. On August 29, 1996, the Second Pre-Bid Conference was held where certain clarifications were made. Upon the request of prospective bidder People's Air Cargo & Warehousing Co., Inc (Paircargo), the PBAC warranted that based on Sec. 11.6, Rule 11 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the BOT Law, only the proposed Annual Guaranteed Payment submitted by the challengers would be revealed to AEDC, and that the challengers' technical and financial proposals would remain confidential. The PBAC also clarified that the list of revenue sources contained in Annex 4.2a of the Bid Documents was merely indicative and that other revenue sources may be included by the proponent, subject to approval by DOTC/MIAA. Furthermore, the PBAC clarified that only those fees and

charges denominated as Public Utility Fees would be subject to regulation, and those charges which would be actually deemed Public Utility Fees could still be revised, depending on the outcome of PBAC's query on the matter with the Department of Justice. In September 1996, the PBAC issued Bid Bulletin No. 5, entitled "Answers to the Queries of PAIRCARGO as Per Letter Dated September 3 and 10, 1996." Paircargo's queries and the PBAC's responses were as follows: 1. It is difficult for Paircargo and Associates to meet the required minimum equity requirement as prescribed in Section 8.3.4 of the Bid Documents considering that the capitalization of each member company is so structured to meet the requirements and needs of their current respective business undertaking/activities. In order to comply with this equity requirement, Paircargo is requesting PBAC to just allow each member of (sic) corporation of the Joint Venture to just execute an agreement that embodies a commitment to infuse the required capital in case the project is awarded to the Joint Venture instead of increasing each corporation's current authorized capital stock just for prequalification purposes. In prequalification, the agency is interested in one's financial capability at the time of prequalification, not future or potential capability. A commitment to put up equity once awarded the project is not enough to establish that "present" financial capability. However, total financial capability of all member companies of the Consortium, to be established by submitting the respective companies' audited financial statements, shall be acceptable. 2. At present, Paircargo is negotiating with banks and other institutions for the extension of a Performance Security to the joint venture in the event that the Concessions Agreement (sic) is awarded to them. However, Paircargo is being required to submit a copy of the draft concession as one of the documentary requirements. Therefore, Paircargo is requesting that they'd (sic) be furnished copy of the approved negotiated agreement between the PBAC and the AEDC at the soonest possible time.

A copy of the draft Concession Agreement is included in the Bid Documents. Any material changes would be made known to prospective challengers through bid bulletins. However, a final version will be issued before the award of contract. The PBAC also stated that it would require AEDC to sign Supplement C of the Bid Documents (Acceptance of Criteria and Waiver of Rights to Enjoin Project) and to submit the same with the required Bid Security. On September 20, 1996, the consortium composed of People's Air Cargo and Warehousing Co., Inc. (Paircargo), Phil. Air and Grounds Services, Inc. (PAGS) and Security Bank Corp. (Security Bank) (collectively, Paircargo Consortium) submitted their competitive proposal to the PBAC. On September 23, 1996, the PBAC opened the first envelope containing the prequalification documents of the Paircargo Consortium. On the following day, September 24, 1996, the PBAC prequalified the Paircargo Consortium. On September 26, 1996, AEDC informed the PBAC in writing of its reservations as regards the Paircargo Consortium, which include: a. The lack of corporate approvals and financial capability of PAIRCARGO; b. The lack of corporate approvals and financial capability of PAGS; c. The prohibition imposed by RA 337, as amended (the General Banking Act) on the amount that Security Bank could legally invest in the project; d. The inclusion of Siemens as a contractor of the PAIRCARGO Joint Venture, for prequalification purposes; and e. The appointment of Lufthansa as the facility operator, in view of the Philippine requirement in the operation of a public utility. The PBAC gave its reply on October 2, 1996, informing AEDC that it had considered the issues raised by the latter, and that based on the documents submitted by Paircargo and the established prequalification criteria, the PBAC had found that the challenger, Paircargo, had prequalified to undertake the project. The Secretary of the DOTC approved the finding of the PBAC.

The PBAC then proceeded with the opening of the second envelope of the Paircargo Consortium which contained its Technical Proposal. On October 3, 1996, AEDC reiterated its objections, particularly with respect to Paircargo's financial capability, in view of the restrictions imposed by Section 21-B of the General Banking Act and Sections 1380 and 1381 of the Manual Regulations for Banks and Other Financial Intermediaries. On October 7, 1996, AEDC again manifested its objections and requested that it be furnished with excerpts of the PBAC meeting and the accompanying technical evaluation report where each of the issues they raised were addressed. On October 16, 1996, the PBAC opened the third envelope submitted by AEDC and the Paircargo Consortium containing their respective financial proposals. Both proponents offered to build the NAIA Passenger Terminal III for at least $350 million at no cost to the government and to pay the government: 5% share in gross revenues for the first five years of operation, 7.5% share in gross revenues for the next ten years of operation, and 10% share in gross revenues for the last ten years of operation, in accordance with the Bid Documents. However, in addition to the foregoing, AEDC offered to pay the government a total of P135 million as guaranteed payment for 27 years while Paircargo Consortium offered to pay the government a total of P17.75 billion for the same period. Thus, the PBAC formally informed AEDC that it had accepted the price proposal submitted by the Paircargo Consortium, and gave AEDC 30 working days or until November 28, 1996 within which to match the said bid, otherwise, the project would be awarded to Paircargo. As AEDC failed to match the proposal within the 30-day period, then DOTC Secretary Amado Lagdameo, on December 11, 1996, issued a notice to Paircargo Consortium regarding AEDC's failure to match the proposal. On February 27, 1997, Paircargo Consortium incorporated into Philippine International Airport Terminals Co., Inc. (PIATCO). AEDC subsequently protested the alleged undue preference given to PIATCO and reiterated its objections as regards the prequalification of PIATCO.

On April 11, 1997, the DOTC submitted the concession agreement for the second-pass approval of the NEDA-ICC. On April 16, 1997, AEDC filed with the Regional Trial Court of Pasig a Petition for Declaration of Nullity of the Proceedings, Mandamus and Injunction against the Secretary of the DOTC, the Chairman of the PBAC, the voting members of the PBAC and Pantaleon D. Alvarez, in his capacity as Chairman of the PBAC Technical Committee. On April 17, 1997, the NEDA-ICC conducted an ad referendum to facilitate the approval, on a no-objection basis, of the BOT agreement between the DOTC and PIATCO. As the ad referendum gathered only four (4) of the required six (6) signatures, the NEDA merely noted the agreement. On July 9, 1997, the DOTC issued the notice of award for the project to PIATCO. On July 12, 1997, the Government, through then DOTC Secretary Arturo T. Enrile, and PIATCO, through its President, Henry T. Go, signed the "Concession Agreement for the Build-Operate-and-Transfer Arrangement of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Passenger Terminal III" (1997 Concession Agreement). The Government granted PIATCO the franchise to operate and maintain the said terminal during the concession period and to collect the fees, rentals and other charges in accordance with the rates or schedules stipulated in the 1997 Concession Agreement. The Agreement provided that the concession period shall be for twenty-five (25) years commencing from the in-service date, and may be renewed at the option of the Government for a period not exceeding twenty-five (25) years. At the end of the concession period, PIATCO shall transfer the development facility to MIAA. On November 26, 1998, the Government and PIATCO signed an Amended and Restated Concession Agreement (ARCA). Among the provisions of the 1997 Concession Agreement that were amended by the ARCA were: Sec. 1.11 pertaining to the definition of "certificate of completion"; Sec. 2.05 pertaining to the Special Obligations of GRP; Sec. 3.02 (a) dealing with the exclusivity of the franchise given to the Concessionaire; Sec. 4.04 concerning the assignment by Concessionaire of its interest in the Development Facility; Sec. 5.08 (c) dealing with the proceeds of Concessionaire's insurance; Sec. 5.10 with respect to the temporary take-

over of operations by GRP; Sec. 5.16 pertaining to the taxes, duties and other imposts that may be levied on the Concessionaire; Sec. 6.03 as regards the periodic adjustment of public utility fees and charges; the entire Article VIII concerning the provisions on the termination of the contract; and Sec. 10.02 providing for the venue of the arbitration proceedings in case a dispute or controversy arises between the parties to the agreement. Subsequently, the Government and PIATCO signed three Supplements to the ARCA. The First Supplement was signed on August 27, 1999; the Second Supplement on September 4, 2000; and the Third Supplement on June 22, 2001 (collectively, Supplements). The First Supplement to the ARCA amended Sec. 1.36 of the ARCA defining "Revenues" or "Gross Revenues"; Sec. 2.05 (d) of the ARCA referring to the obligation of MIAA to provide sufficient funds for the upkeep, maintenance, repair and/or replacement of all airport facilities and equipment which are owned or operated by MIAA; and further providing additional special obligations on the part of GRP aside from those already enumerated in Sec. 2.05 of the ARCA. The First Supplement also provided a stipulation as regards the construction of a surface road to connect NAIA Terminal II and Terminal III in lieu of the proposed access tunnel crossing Runway 13/31; the swapping of obligations between GRP and PIATCO regarding the improvement of Sales Road; and the changes in the timetable. It also amended Sec. 6.01 (c) of the ARCA pertaining to the Disposition of Terminal Fees; Sec. 6.02 of the ARCA by inserting an introductory paragraph; and Sec. 6.02 (a) (iii) of the ARCA referring to the Payments of Percentage Share in Gross Revenues. The Second Supplement to the ARCA contained provisions concerning the clearing, removal, demolition or disposal of subterranean structures uncovered or discovered at the site of the construction of the terminal by the Concessionaire. It defined the scope of works; it provided for the procedure for the demolition of the said structures and the consideration for the same which the GRP shall pay PIATCO; it provided for time extensions, incremental and consequential costs and losses consequent to the existence of such structures; and it provided for some additional obligations on the part of PIATCO as regards the said structures.

Finally, the Third Supplement provided for the obligations of the Concessionaire as regards the construction of the surface road connecting Terminals II and III. Meanwhile, the MIAA which is charged with the maintenance and operation of the NAIA Terminals I and II, had existing concession contracts with various service providers to offer international airline airport services, such as in-flight catering, passenger handling, ramp and ground support, aircraft maintenance and provisions, cargo handling and warehousing, and other services, to several international airlines at the NAIA. Some of these service providers are the Miascor Group, DNATA-Wings Aviation Systems Corp., and the MacroAsia Group. Miascor, DNATA and MacroAsia, together with Philippine Airlines (PAL), are the dominant players in the industry with an aggregate market share of 70%. On September 17, 2002, the workers of the international airline service providers, claiming that they stand to lose their employment upon the implementation of the questioned agreements, filed before this Court a petition for prohibition to enjoin the enforcement of said agreements.2 On October 15, 2002, the service providers, joining the cause of the petitioning workers, filed a motion for intervention and a petition-inintervention. On October 24, 2002, Congressmen Salacnib Baterina, Clavel Martinez and Constantino Jaraula filed a similar petition with this Court.3 On November 6, 2002, several employees of the MIAA likewise filed a petition assailing the legality of the various agreements.4 On December 11, 2002. another group of Congressmen, Hon. Jacinto V. Paras, Rafael P. Nantes, Eduardo C. Zialcita, Willie B. Villarama, Prospero C. Nograles, Prospero A. Pichay, Jr., Harlin Cast Abayon and Benasing O. Macaranbon, moved to intervene in the case as Respondents-Intervenors. They filed their Comment-In-Intervention defending the validity of the assailed agreements and praying for the dismissal of the petitions. During the pendency of the case before this Court, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, on November 29, 2002, in her speech at the 2002 Golden Shell Export Awards at Malacaang Palace, stated that she will not

"honor (PIATCO) contracts which the Executive Branch's legal offices have concluded (as) null and void."5 Respondent PIATCO filed its Comments to the present petitions on November 7 and 27, 2002. The Office of the Solicitor General and the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel filed their respective Comments in behalf of the public respondents. On December 10, 2002, the Court heard the case on oral argument. After the oral argument, the Court then resolved in open court to require the parties to file simultaneously their respective Memoranda in amplification of the issues heard in the oral arguments within 30 days and to explore the possibility of arbitration or mediation as provided in the challenged contracts. In their consolidated Memorandum, the Office of the Solicitor General and the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel prayed that the present petitions be given due course and that judgment be rendered declaring the 1997 Concession Agreement, the ARCA and the Supplements thereto void for being contrary to the Constitution, the BOT Law and its Implementing Rules and Regulations. On March 6, 2003, respondent PIATCO informed the Court that on March 4, 2003 PIATCO commenced arbitration proceedings before the International Chamber of Commerce, International Court of Arbitration (ICC) by filing a Request for Arbitration with the Secretariat of the ICC against the Government of the Republic of the Philippines acting through the DOTC and MIAA. In the present cases, the Court is again faced with the task of resolving complicated issues made difficult by their intersecting legal and economic implications. The Court is aware of the far reaching fall out effects of the ruling which it makes today. For more than a century and whenever the exigencies of the times demand it, this Court has never shirked from its solemn duty to dispense justice and resolve "actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction."6 To be sure, this Court will not begin to do otherwise today.

We shall first dispose of the procedural issues raised by respondent PIATCO which they allege will bar the resolution of the instant controversy. Petitioners' Legal Standing to File the present Petitions a. G.R. Nos. 155001 and 155661 In G.R. No. 155001 individual petitioners are employees of various service providers7 having separate concession contracts with MIAA and continuing service agreements with various international airlines to provide in-flight catering, passenger handling, ramp and ground support, aircraft maintenance and provisions, cargo handling and warehousing and other services. Also included as petitioners are labor unions MIASCOR Workers Union-National Labor Union and Philippine Airlines Employees Association. These petitioners filed the instant action for prohibition as taxpayers and as parties whose rights and interests stand to be violated by the implementation of the PIATCO Contracts. Petitioners-Intervenors in the same case are all corporations organized and existing under Philippine laws engaged in the business of providing in-flight catering, passenger handling, ramp and ground support, aircraft maintenance and provisions, cargo handling and warehousing and other services to several international airlines at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Petitioners-Intervenors allege that as tax-paying international airline and airport-related service operators, each one of them stands to be irreparably injured by the implementation of the PIATCO Contracts. Each of the petitioners-intervenors have separate and subsisting concession agreements with MIAA and with various international airlines which they allege are being interfered with and violated by respondent PIATCO. In G.R. No. 155661, petitioners constitute employees of MIAA and Samahang Manggagawa sa Paliparan ng Pilipinas - a legitimate labor union and accredited as the sole and exclusive bargaining agent of all the employees in MIAA. Petitioners anchor their petition for prohibition on the nullity of the contracts entered into by the Government and PIATCO regarding the build-operate-and-transfer of the NAIA IPT III. They filed the petition as taxpayers and persons who have a legitimate interest to protect in the implementation of the PIATCO Contracts.

Petitioners in both cases raise the argument that the PIATCO Contracts contain stipulations which directly contravene numerous provisions of the Constitution, specific provisions of the BOT Law and its Implementing Rules and Regulations, and public policy. Petitioners contend that the DOTC and the MIAA, by entering into said contracts, have committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction which can be remedied only by a writ of prohibition, there being no plain, speedy or adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. In particular, petitioners assail the provisions in the 1997 Concession Agreement and the ARCA which grant PIATCO the exclusive right to operate a commercial international passenger terminal within the Island of Luzon, except those international airports already existing at the time of the execution of the agreement. The contracts further provide that upon the commencement of operations at the NAIA IPT III, the Government shall cause the closure of Ninoy Aquino International Airport Passenger Terminals I and II as international passenger terminals. With respect to existing concession agreements between MIAA and international airport service providers regarding certain services or operations, the 1997 Concession Agreement and the ARCA uniformly provide that such services or operations will not be carried over to the NAIA IPT III and PIATCO is under no obligation to permit such carry over except through a separate agreement duly entered into with PIATCO.8 With respect to the petitioning service providers and their employees, upon the commencement of operations of the NAIA IPT III, they allege that they will be effectively barred from providing international airline airport services at the NAIA Terminals I and II as all international airlines and passengers will be diverted to the NAIA IPT III. The petitioning service providers will thus be compelled to contract with PIATCO alone for such services, with no assurance that subsisting contracts with MIAA and other international airlines will be respected. Petitioning service providers stress that despite the very competitive market, the substantial capital investments required and the high rate of fees, they entered into their respective contracts with the MIAA with the understanding that the said contracts will be in force for the stipulated period, and thereafter, renewed so as to allow each of the petitioning service providers to recoup their investments and obtain a reasonable return thereon.

Petitioning employees of various service providers at the NAIA Terminals I and II and of MIAA on the other hand allege that with the closure of the NAIA Terminals I and II as international passenger terminals under the PIATCO Contracts, they stand to lose employment. The question on legal standing is whether such parties have "alleged such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court so largely depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions."9 Accordingly, it has been held that the interest of a person assailing the constitutionality of a statute must be direct and personal. He must be able to show, not only that the law or any government act is invalid, but also that he sustained or is in imminent danger of sustaining some direct injury as a result of its enforcement, and not merely that he suffers thereby in some indefinite way. It must appear that the person complaining has been or is about to be denied some right or privilege to which he is lawfully entitled or that he is about to be subjected to some burdens or penalties by reason of the statute or act complained of.10 We hold that petitioners have the requisite standing. In the abovementioned cases, petitioners have a direct and substantial interest to protect by reason of the implementation of the PIATCO Contracts. They stand to lose their source of livelihood, a property right which is zealously protected by the Constitution. Moreover, subsisting concession agreements between MIAA and petitioners-intervenors and service contracts between international airlines and petitioners-intervenors stand to be nullified or terminated by the operation of the NAIA IPT III under the PIATCO Contracts. The financial prejudice brought about by the PIATCO Contracts on petitioners and petitioners-intervenors in these cases are legitimate interests sufficient to confer on them the requisite standing to file the instant petitions. b. G.R. No. 155547 In G.R. No. 155547, petitioners filed the petition for prohibition as members of the House of Representatives, citizens and taxpayers. They allege that as members of the House of Representatives, they are especially interested in the PIATCO Contracts, because the contracts compel the Government and/or the House of Representatives to appropriate funds necessary to comply with the provisions therein.11 They cite provisions of the PIATCO

Contracts which require disbursement of unappropriated amounts in compliance with the contractual obligations of the Government. They allege that the Government obligations in the PIATCO Contracts which compel government expenditure without appropriation is a curtailment of their prerogatives as legislators, contrary to the mandate of the Constitution that "[n]o money shall be paid out of the treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law."12 Standing is a peculiar concept in constitutional law because in some cases, suits are not brought by parties who have been personally injured by the operation of a law or any other government act but by concerned citizens, taxpayers or voters who actually sue in the public interest. Although we are not unmindful of the cases of Imus Electric Co. v. Municipality of Imus13 and Gonzales v. Raquiza14 wherein this Court held that appropriation must be made only on amounts immediately demandable, public interest demands that we take a more liberal view in determining whether the petitioners suing as legislators, taxpayers and citizens have locus standi to file the instant petition. In Kilosbayan, Inc. v. Guingona,15 this Court held "[i]n line with the liberal policy of this Court on locus standi, ordinary taxpayers, members of Congress, and even association of planters, and non-profit civic organizations were allowed to initiate and prosecute actions before this Court to question the constitutionality or validity of laws, acts, decisions, rulings, or orders of various government agencies or instrumentalities."16 Further, "insofar as taxpayers' suits are concerned . . . (this Court) is not devoid of discretion as to whether or not it should be entertained."17 As such ". . . even if, strictly speaking, they [the petitioners] are not covered by the definition, it is still within the wide discretion of the Court to waive the requirement and so remove the impediment to its addressing and resolving the serious constitutional questions raised."18 In view of the serious legal questions involved and their impact on public interest, we resolve to grant standing to the petitioners. Other Procedural Matters Respondent PIATCO further alleges that this Court is without jurisdiction to review the instant cases as factual issues are involved which this Court is illequipped to resolve. Moreover, PIATCO alleges that submission of this controversy to this Court at the first instance is a violation of the rule on hierarchy of courts. They contend that trial courts have concurrent

jurisdiction with this Court with respect to a special civil action for prohibition and hence, following the rule on hierarchy of courts, resort must first be had before the trial courts. After a thorough study and careful evaluation of the issues involved, this Court is of the view that the crux of the instant controversy involves significant legal questions. The facts necessary to resolve these legal questions are well established and, hence, need not be determined by a trial court. The rule on hierarchy of courts will not also prevent this Court from assuming jurisdiction over the cases at bar. The said rule may be relaxed when the redress desired cannot be obtained in the appropriate courts or where exceptional and compelling circumstances justify availment of a remedy within and calling for the exercise of this Court's primary jurisdiction.19 It is easy to discern that exceptional circumstances exist in the cases at bar that call for the relaxation of the rule. Both petitioners and respondents agree that these cases are of transcendental importance as they involve the construction and operation of the country's premier international airport. Moreover, the crucial issues submitted for resolution are of first impression and they entail the proper legal interpretation of key provisions of the Constitution, the BOT Law and its Implementing Rules and Regulations. Thus, considering the nature of the controversy before the Court, procedural bars may be lowered to give way for the speedy disposition of the instant cases. Legal Effect of the Commencement of Arbitration Proceedings by PIATCO There is one more procedural obstacle which must be overcome. The Court is aware that arbitration proceedings pursuant to Section 10.02 of the ARCA have been filed at the instance of respondent PIATCO. Again, we hold that the arbitration step taken by PIATCO will not oust this Court of its jurisdiction over the cases at bar.

In Del Monte Corporation-USA v. Court of Appeals,20 even after finding that the arbitration clause in the Distributorship Agreement in question is valid and the dispute between the parties is arbitrable, this Court affirmed the trial court's decision denying petitioner's Motion to Suspend Proceedings pursuant to the arbitration clause under the contract. In so ruling, this Court held that as contracts produce legal effect between the parties, their assigns and heirs, only the parties to the Distributorship Agreement are bound by its terms, including the arbitration clause stipulated therein. This Court ruled that arbitration proceedings could be called for but only with respect to the parties to the contract in question. Considering that there are parties to the case who are neither parties to the Distributorship Agreement nor heirs or assigns of the parties thereto, this Court, citing its previous ruling in Salas, Jr. v. Laperal Realty Corporation,21 held that to tolerate the splitting of proceedings by allowing arbitration as to some of the parties on the one hand and trial for the others on the other hand would, in effect, result in multiplicity of suits, duplicitous procedure and unnecessary delay.22 Thus, we ruled that the interest of justice would best be served if the trial court hears and adjudicates the case in a single and complete proceeding. It is established that petitioners in the present cases who have presented legitimate interests in the resolution of the controversy are not parties to the PIATCO Contracts. Accordingly, they cannot be bound by the arbitration clause provided for in the ARCA and hence, cannot be compelled to submit to arbitration proceedings. A speedy and decisive resolution of all the critical issues in the present controversy, including those raised by petitioners, cannot be made before an arbitral tribunal. The object of arbitration is precisely to allow an expeditious determination of a dispute. This objective would not be met if this Court were to allow the parties to settle the cases by arbitration as there are certain issues involving non-parties to the PIATCO Contracts which the arbitral tribunal will not be equipped to resolve. Now, to the merits of the instant controversy. I Is PIATCO a qualified bidder? Public respondents argue that the Paircargo Consortium, PIATCO's predecessor, was not a duly pre-qualified bidder on the unsolicited proposal submitted by AEDC as the Paircargo Consortium failed to meet the financial

capability required under the BOT Law and the Bid Documents. They allege that in computing the ability of the Paircargo Consortium to meet the minimum equity requirements for the project, the entire net worth of Security Bank, a member of the consortium, should not be considered. PIATCO relies, on the other hand, on the strength of the Memorandum dated October 14, 1996 issued by the DOTC Undersecretary Primitivo C. Cal stating that the Paircargo Consortium is found to have a combined net worth of P3,900,000,000.00, sufficient to meet the equity requirements of the project. The said Memorandum was in response to a letter from Mr. Antonio Henson of AEDC to President Fidel V. Ramos questioning the financial capability of the Paircargo Consortium on the ground that it does not have the financial resources to put up the required minimum equity of P2,700,000,000.00. This contention is based on the restriction under R.A. No. 337, as amended or the General Banking Act that a commercial bank cannot invest in any single enterprise in an amount more than 15% of its net worth. In the said Memorandum, Undersecretary Cal opined: The Bid Documents, as clarified through Bid Bulletin Nos. 3 and 5, require that financial capability will be evaluated based on total financial capability of all the member companies of the [Paircargo] Consortium. In this connection, the Challenger was found to have a combined net worth of P3,926,421,242.00 that could support a project costing approximately P13 Billion. It is not a requirement that the net worth must be "unrestricted." To impose that as a requirement now will be nothing less than unfair. The financial statement or the net worth is not the sole basis in establishing financial capability. As stated in Bid Bulletin No. 3, financial capability may also be established by testimonial letters issued by reputable banks. The Challenger has complied with this requirement. To recap, net worth reflected in the Financial Statement should not be taken as the amount of the money to be used to answer the required thirty percent (30%) equity of the challenger but rather to be used in establishing if there is enough basis to believe that the challenger can comply with the required 30% equity. In fact, proof of sufficient equity is required as one of the conditions for award of contract (Section 12.1

IRR of the BOT Law) but not for pre-qualification (Section 5.4 of the same document).23 Under the BOT Law, in case of a build-operate-and-transfer arrangement, the contract shall be awarded to the bidder "who, having satisfied the minimum financial, technical, organizational and legal standards" required by the law, has submitted the lowest bid and most favorable terms of the project.24 Further, the 1994 Implementing Rules and Regulations of the BOT Law provide: Section 5.4 Pre-qualification Requirements. xxx xxx xxx

c. Financial Capability: The project proponent must have adequate capability to sustain the financing requirements for the detailed engineering design, construction and/or operation and maintenance phases of the project, as the case may be. For purposes of prequalification, this capability shall be measured in terms of (i) proof of the ability of the project proponent and/or the consortium to provide a minimum amount of equity to the project, and (ii) a letter testimonial from reputable banks attesting that the project proponent and/or members of the consortium are banking with them, that they are in good financial standing, and that they have adequate resources. The government agency/LGU concerned shall determine on a project-toproject basis and before pre-qualification, the minimum amount of equity needed. (emphasis supplied) Pursuant to this provision, the PBAC issued PBAC Bulletin No. 3 dated August 16, 1996 amending the financial capability requirements for prequalification of the project proponent as follows: 6. Basis of Pre-qualification The basis for the pre-qualification shall be on the compliance of the proponent to the minimum technical and financial requirements provided in the Bid Documents and in the IRR of the BOT Law, R.A. No. 6957, as amended by R.A. 7718. The minimum amount of equity to which the proponent's financial capability will be based shall be thirty percent (30%) of the project cost

instead of the twenty percent (20%) specified in Section 3.6.4 of the Bid Documents. This is to correlate with the required debt-to-equity ratio of 70:30 in Section 2.01a of the draft concession agreement. The debt portion of the project financing should not exceed 70% of the actual project cost. Accordingly, based on the above provisions of law, the Paircargo Consortium or any challenger to the unsolicited proposal of AEDC has to show that it possesses the requisite financial capability to undertake the project in the minimum amount of 30% of the project cost through (i) proof of the ability to provide a minimum amount of equity to the project, and (ii) a letter testimonial from reputable banks attesting that the project proponent or members of the consortium are banking with them, that they are in good financial standing, and that they have adequate resources. As the minimum project cost was estimated to be US$350,000,000.00 or roughly P9,183,650,000.00,25 the Paircargo Consortium had to show to the satisfaction of the PBAC that it had the ability to provide the minimum equity for the project in the amount of at least P2,755,095,000.00. Paircargo's Audited Financial Statements as of 1993 and 1994 indicated that it had a net worth of P2,783,592.00 and P3,123,515.00 respectively.26 PAGS' Audited Financial Statements as of 1995 indicate that it has approximately P26,735,700.00 to invest as its equity for the project.27 Security Bank's Audited Financial Statements as of 1995 show that it has a net worth equivalent to its capital funds in the amount of P3,523,504,377.00.28 We agree with public respondents that with respect to Security Bank, the entire amount of its net worth could not be invested in a single undertaking or enterprise, whether allied or non-allied in accordance with the provisions of R.A. No. 337, as amended or the General Banking Act: Sec. 21-B. The provisions in this or in any other Act to the contrary notwithstanding, the Monetary Board, whenever it shall deem appropriate and necessary to further national development objectives or support national priority projects, may authorize a commercial bank, a bank authorized to provide commercial banking services, as well as a government-owned and controlled bank, to operate under an expanded commercial banking authority and by virtue thereof exercise,

in addition to powers authorized for commercial banks, the powers of an Investment House as provided in Presidential Decree No. 129, invest in the equity of a non-allied undertaking, or own a majority or all of the equity in a financial intermediary other than a commercial bank or a bank authorized to provide commercial banking services: Provided, That (a) the total investment in equities shall not exceed fifty percent (50%) of the net worth of the bank; (b) the equity investment in any one enterprise whether allied or non-allied shall not exceed fifteen percent (15%) of the net worth of the bank; (c) the equity investment of the bank, or of its wholly or majority-owned subsidiary, in a single nonallied undertaking shall not exceed thirty-five percent (35%) of the total equity in the enterprise nor shall it exceed thirty-five percent (35%) of the voting stock in that enterprise; and (d) the equity investment in other banks shall be deducted from the investing bank's net worth for purposes of computing the prescribed ratio of net worth to risk assets. xxx xxx xxx

Further, the 1993 Manual of Regulations for Banks provides: SECTION X383. Other Limitations and Restrictions. The following limitations and restrictions shall also apply regarding equity investments of banks. a. In any single enterprise. The equity investments of banks in any single enterprise shall not exceed at any time fifteen percent (15%) of the net worth of the investing bank as defined in Sec. X106 and Subsec. X121.5. Thus, the maximum amount that Security Bank could validly invest in the Paircargo Consortium is only P528,525,656.55, representing 15% of its entire net worth. The total net worth therefore of the Paircargo Consortium, after considering the maximum amounts that may be validly invested by each of its members is P558,384,871.55 or only 6.08% of the project cost,29 an amount substantially less than the prescribed minimum equity investment required for the project in the amount of P2,755,095,000.00 or 30% of the project cost. The purpose of pre-qualification in any public bidding is to determine, at the earliest opportunity, the ability of the bidder to undertake the project. Thus,

with respect to the bidder's financial capacity at the pre-qualification stage, the law requires the government agency to examine and determine the ability of the bidder to fund the entire cost of the project by considering the maximum amounts that each bidder may invest in the project at the time of pre-qualification. The PBAC has determined that any prospective bidder for the construction, operation and maintenance of the NAIA IPT III project should prove that it has the ability to provide equity in the minimum amount of 30% of the project cost, in accordance with the 70:30 debt-to-equity ratio prescribed in the Bid Documents. Thus, in the case of Paircargo Consortium, the PBAC should determine the maximum amounts that each member of the consortium may commit for the construction, operation and maintenance of the NAIA IPT III project at the time of pre-qualification. With respect to Security Bank, the maximum amount which may be invested by it would only be 15% of its net worth in view of the restrictions imposed by the General Banking Act. Disregarding the investment ceilings provided by applicable law would not result in a proper evaluation of whether or not a bidder is pre-qualified to undertake the project as for all intents and purposes, such ceiling or legal restriction determines the true maximum amount which a bidder may invest in the project. Further, the determination of whether or not a bidder is pre-qualified to undertake the project requires an evaluation of the financial capacity of the said bidder at the time the bid is submitted based on the required documents presented by the bidder. The PBAC should not be allowed to speculate on the future financial ability of the bidder to undertake the project on the basis of documents submitted. This would open doors to abuse and defeat the very purpose of a public bidding. This is especially true in the case at bar which involves the investment of billions of pesos by the project proponent. The relevant government authority is duty-bound to ensure that the awardee of the contract possesses the minimum required financial capability to complete the project. To allow the PBAC to estimate the bidder's future financial capability would not secure the viability and integrity of the project. A restrictive and conservative application of the rules and procedures of public bidding is necessary not only to protect the impartiality and regularity of the proceedings but also to ensure the financial and technical reliability of the project. It has been held that:

The basic rule in public bidding is that bids should be evaluated based on the required documents submitted before and not after the opening of bids. Otherwise, the foundation of a fair and competitive public bidding would be defeated. Strict observance of the rules, regulations, and guidelines of the bidding process is the only safeguard to a fair, honest and competitive public bidding.30 Thus, if the maximum amount of equity that a bidder may invest in the project at the time the bids are submitted falls short of the minimum amounts required to be put up by the bidder, said bidder should be properly disqualified. Considering that at the pre-qualification stage, the maximum amounts which the Paircargo Consortium may invest in the project fell short of the minimum amounts prescribed by the PBAC, we hold that Paircargo Consortium was not a qualified bidder. Thus the award of the contract by the PBAC to the Paircargo Consortium, a disqualified bidder, is null and void. While it would be proper at this juncture to end the resolution of the instant controversy, as the legal effects of the disqualification of respondent PIATCO's predecessor would come into play and necessarily result in the nullity of all the subsequent contracts entered by it in pursuance of the project, the Court feels that it is necessary to discuss in full the pressing issues of the present controversy for a complete resolution thereof. II Is the 1997 Concession Agreement valid? Petitioners and public respondents contend that the 1997 Concession Agreement is invalid as it contains provisions that substantially depart from the draft Concession Agreement included in the Bid Documents. They maintain that a substantial departure from the draft Concession Agreement is a violation of public policy and renders the 1997 Concession Agreement null and void. PIATCO maintains, however, that the Concession Agreement attached to the Bid Documents is intended to be a draft, i.e., subject to change, alteration or modification, and that this intention was clear to all participants, including AEDC, and DOTC/MIAA. It argued further that said intention is

expressed in Part C (6) of Bid Bulletin No. 3 issued by the PBAC which states: 6. Amendments to the Draft Concessions Agreement Amendments to the Draft Concessions Agreement shall be issued from time to time. Said amendments shall only cover items that would not materially affect the preparation of the proponent's proposal. By its very nature, public bidding aims to protect the public interest by giving the public the best possible advantages through open competition. Thus: Competition must be legitimate, fair and honest. In the field of government contract law, competition requires, not only `bidding upon a common standard, a common basis, upon the same thing, the same subject matter, the same undertaking,' but also that it be legitimate, fair and honest; and not designed to injure or defraud the government.31 An essential element of a publicly bidded contract is that all bidders must be on equal footing. Not simply in terms of application of the procedural rules and regulations imposed by the relevant government agency, but more importantly, on the contract bidded upon. Each bidder must be able to bid on the same thing. The rationale is obvious. If the winning bidder is allowed to later include or modify certain provisions in the contract awarded such that the contract is altered in any material respect, then the essence of fair competition in the public bidding is destroyed. A public bidding would indeed be a farce if after the contract is awarded, the winning bidder may modify the contract and include provisions which are favorable to it that were not previously made available to the other bidders. Thus: It is inherent in public biddings that there shall be a fair competition among the bidders. The specifications in such biddings provide the common ground or basis for the bidders. The specifications should, accordingly, operate equally or indiscriminately upon all bidders.32 The same rule was restated by Chief Justice Stuart of the Supreme Court of Minnesota: The law is well settled that where, as in this case, municipal authorities can only let a contract for public work to the lowest responsible bidder, the proposals and specifications therefore must be so framed as to

permit free and full competition. Nor can they enter into a contract with the best bidder containing substantial provisions beneficial to him, not included or contemplated in the terms and specifications upon which the bids were invited.33 In fact, in the PBAC Bid Bulletin No. 3 cited by PIATCO to support its argument that the draft concession agreement is subject to amendment, the pertinent portion of which was quoted above, the PBAC also clarified that "[s]aid amendments shall only cover items that would not materially affect the preparation of the proponent's proposal." While we concede that a winning bidder is not precluded from modifying or amending certain provisions of the contract bidded upon, such changes must not constitute substantial or material amendments that would alter the basic parameters of the contract and would constitute a denial to the other bidders of the opportunity to bid on the same terms. Hence, the determination of whether or not a modification or amendment of a contract bidded out constitutes a substantial amendment rests on whether the contract, when taken as a whole, would contain substantially different terms and conditions that would have the effect of altering the technical and/or financial proposals previously submitted by other bidders. The alterations and modifications in the contract executed between the government and the winning bidder must be such as to render such executed contract to be an entirely different contract from the one that was bidded upon. In the case of Caltex (Philippines), Inc. v. Delgado Brothers, Inc.,34 this Court quoted with approval the ruling of the trial court that an amendment to a contract awarded through public bidding, when such subsequent amendment was made without a new public bidding, is null and void: The Court agrees with the contention of counsel for the plaintiffs that the due execution of a contract after public bidding is a limitation upon the right of the contracting parties to alter or amend it without another public bidding, for otherwise what would a public bidding be good for if after the execution of a contract after public bidding, the contracting parties may alter or amend the contract, or even cancel it, at their will? Public biddings are held for the protection of the public, and to give the public the best possible advantages by means of open competition between the bidders. He who bids or offers the best terms is awarded the contract subject of the bid, and it is obvious that such protection

and best possible advantages to the public will disappear if the parties to a contract executed after public bidding may alter or amend it without another previous public bidding.35 Hence, the question that comes to fore is this: is the 1997 Concession Agreement the same agreement that was offered for public bidding, i.e., the draft Concession Agreement attached to the Bid Documents? A close comparison of the draft Concession Agreement attached to the Bid Documents and the 1997 Concession Agreement reveals that the documents differ in at least two material respects: a. Modification on the Public Utility Revenues and Non-Public Utility Revenues that may be collected by PIATCO The fees that may be imposed and collected by PIATCO under the draft Concession Agreement and the 1997 Concession Agreement may be classified into three distinct categories: (1) fees which are subject to periodic adjustment of once every two years in accordance with a prescribed parametric formula and adjustments are made effective only upon written approval by MIAA; (2) fees other than those included in the first category which maybe adjusted by PIATCO whenever it deems necessary without need for consent of DOTC/MIAA; and (3) new fees and charges that may be imposed by PIATCO which have not been previously imposed or collected at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Passenger Terminal I, pursuant to Administrative Order No. 1, Series of 1993, as amended. The glaring distinctions between the draft Concession Agreement and the 1997 Concession Agreement lie in the types of fees included in each category and the extent of the supervision and regulation which MIAA is allowed to exercise in relation thereto. For fees under the first category, i.e., those which are subject to periodic adjustment in accordance with a prescribed parametric formula and effective only upon written approval by MIAA, the draft Concession Agreement includes the following:36 (1) aircraft parking fees;

(2) aircraft tacking fees; (3) groundhandling fees; (4) rentals and airline offices; (5) check-in counter rentals; and (6) porterage fees. Under the 1997 Concession Agreement, fees which are subject to adjustment and effective upon MIAA approval are classified as "Public Utility Revenues" and include:37 (1) aircraft parking fees; (2) aircraft tacking fees; (3) check-in counter fees; and (4) Terminal Fees. The implication of the reduced number of fees that are subject to MIAA approval is best appreciated in relation to fees included in the second category identified above. Under the 1997 Concession Agreement, fees which PIATCO may adjust whenever it deems necessary without need for consent of DOTC/MIAA are "Non-Public Utility Revenues" and is defined as "all other income not classified as Public Utility Revenues derived from operations of the Terminal and the Terminal Complex."38 Thus, under the 1997 Concession Agreement, ground handling fees, rentals from airline offices and porterage fees are no longer subject to MIAA regulation. Further, under Section 6.03 of the draft Concession Agreement, MIAA reserves the right to regulate (1) lobby and vehicular parking fees and (2) other new fees and charges that may be imposed by PIATCO. Such regulation may be made by periodic adjustment and is effective only upon written approval of MIAA. The full text of said provision is quoted below: Section 6.03. Periodic Adjustment in Fees and Charges. Adjustments in the aircraft parking fees, aircraft tacking fees, groundhandling fees, rentals and airline offices, check-in-counter rentals and porterage fees shall be allowed only once every two years and in accordance with the

Parametric Formula attached hereto as Annex F. Provided that adjustments shall be made effective only after the written express approval of the MIAA. Provided, further, that such approval of the MIAA, shall be contingent only on the conformity of the adjustments with the above said parametric formula. The first adjustment shall be made prior to the In-Service Date of the Terminal. The MIAA reserves the right to regulate under the foregoing terms and conditions the lobby and vehicular parking fees and other new fees and charges as contemplated in paragraph 2 of Section 6.01 if in its judgment the users of the airport shall be deprived of a free option for the services they cover.39 On the other hand, the equivalent provision under the 1997 Concession Agreement reads: Section 6.03 Periodic Adjustment in Fees and Charges. xxx xxx xxx

(c) Concessionaire shall at all times be judicious in fixing fees and charges constituting Non-Public Utility Revenues in order to ensure that End Users are not unreasonably deprived of services. While the vehicular parking fee, porterage fee and greeter/well wisher fee constitute Non-Public Utility Revenues of Concessionaire, GRP may intervene and require Concessionaire to explain and justify the fee it may set from time to time, if in the reasonable opinion of GRP the said fees have become exorbitant resulting in the unreasonable deprivation of End Users of such services.40 Thus, under the 1997 Concession Agreement, with respect to (1) vehicular parking fee, (2) porterage fee and (3) greeter/well wisher fee, all that MIAA can do is to require PIATCO to explain and justify the fees set by PIATCO. In the draft Concession Agreement, vehicular parking fee is subject to MIAA regulation and approval under the second paragraph of Section 6.03 thereof while porterage fee is covered by the first paragraph of the same provision. There is an obvious relaxation of the extent of control and regulation by MIAA with respect to the particular fees that may be charged by PIATCO.

Moreover, with respect to the third category of fees that may be imposed and collected by PIATCO, i.e., new fees and charges that may be imposed by PIATCO which have not been previously imposed or collected at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Passenger Terminal I, under Section 6.03 of the draft Concession Agreement MIAA has reserved the right to regulate the same under the same conditions that MIAA may regulate fees under the first category, i.e., periodic adjustment of once every two years in accordance with a prescribed parametric formula and effective only upon written approval by MIAA. However, under the 1997 Concession Agreement, adjustment of fees under the third category is not subject to MIAA regulation. With respect to terminal fees that may be charged by PIATCO,41 as shown earlier, this was included within the category of "Public Utility Revenues" under the 1997 Concession Agreement. This classification is significant because under the 1997 Concession Agreement, "Public Utility Revenues" are subject to an "Interim Adjustment" of fees upon the occurrence of certain extraordinary events specified in the agreement.42 However, under the draft Concession Agreement, terminal fees are not included in the types of fees that may be subject to "Interim Adjustment."43 Finally, under the 1997 Concession Agreement, "Public Utility Revenues," except terminal fees, are denominated in US Dollars44 while payments to the Government are in Philippine Pesos. In the draft Concession Agreement, no such stipulation was included. By stipulating that "Public Utility Revenues" will be paid to PIATCO in US Dollars while payments by PIATCO to the Government are in Philippine currency under the 1997 Concession Agreement, PIATCO is able to enjoy the benefits of depreciations of the Philippine Peso, while being effectively insulated from the detrimental effects of exchange rate fluctuations. When taken as a whole, the changes under the 1997 Concession Agreement with respect to reduction in the types of fees that are subject to MIAA regulation and the relaxation of such regulation with respect to other fees are significant amendments that substantially distinguish the draft Concession Agreement from the 1997 Concession Agreement. The 1997 Concession Agreement, in this respect, clearly gives PIATCO more favorable terms than what was available to other bidders at the time the contract was bidded out. It is not very difficult to see that the changes in the

1997 Concession Agreement translate to direct and concrete financial advantages for PIATCO which were not available at the time the contract was offered for bidding. It cannot be denied that under the 1997 Concession Agreement only "Public Utility Revenues" are subject to MIAA regulation. Adjustments of all other fees imposed and collected by PIATCO are entirely within its control. Moreover, with respect to terminal fees, under the 1997 Concession Agreement, the same is further subject to "Interim Adjustments" not previously stipulated in the draft Concession Agreement. Finally, the change in the currency stipulated for "Public Utility Revenues" under the 1997 Concession Agreement, except terminal fees, gives PIATCO an added benefit which was not available at the time of bidding. b. Assumption by the Government of the liabilities of PIATCO in the event of the latter's default thereof Under the draft Concession Agreement, default by PIATCO of any of its obligations to creditors who have provided, loaned or advanced funds for the NAIA IPT III project does not result in the assumption by the Government of these liabilities. In fact, nowhere in the said contract does default of PIATCO's loans figure in the agreement. Such default does not directly result in any concomitant right or obligation in favor of the Government. However, the 1997 Concession Agreement provides: Section 4.04 Assignment. xxx xxx xxx

(b) In the event Concessionaire should default in the payment of an Attendant Liability, and the default has resulted in the acceleration of the payment due date of the Attendant Liability prior to its stated date of maturity, the Unpaid Creditors and Concessionaire shall immediately inform GRP in writing of such default. GRP shall, within one hundred eighty (180) Days from receipt of the joint written notice of the Unpaid Creditors and Concessionaire, either (i) take over the Development

Facility and assume the Attendant Liabilities, or (ii) allow the Unpaid Creditors, if qualified, to be substituted as concessionaire and operator of the Development Facility in accordance with the terms and conditions hereof, or designate a qualified operator acceptable to GRP to operate the Development Facility, likewise under the terms and conditions of this Agreement; Provided that if at the end of the 180-day period GRP shall not have served the Unpaid Creditors and Concessionaire written notice of its choice, GRP shall be deemed to have elected to take over the Development Facility with the concomitant assumption of Attendant Liabilities. (c) If GRP should, by written notice, allow the Unpaid Creditors to be substituted as concessionaire, the latter shall form and organize a concession company qualified to take over the operation of the Development Facility. If the concession company should elect to designate an operator for the Development Facility, the concession company shall in good faith identify and designate a qualified operator acceptable to GRP within one hundred eighty (180) days from receipt of GRP's written notice. If the concession company, acting in good faith and with due diligence, is unable to designate a qualified operator within the aforesaid period, then GRP shall at the end of the 180-day period take over the Development Facility and assume Attendant Liabilities. The term "Attendant Liabilities" under the 1997 Concession Agreement is defined as: Attendant Liabilities refer to all amounts recorded and from time to time outstanding in the books of the Concessionaire as owing to Unpaid Creditors who have provided, loaned or advanced funds actually used for the Project, including all interests, penalties, associated fees, charges, surcharges, indemnities, reimbursements and other related expenses, and further including amounts owed by Concessionaire to its suppliers, contractors and sub-contractors. Under the above quoted portions of Section 4.04 in relation to the definition of "Attendant Liabilities," default by PIATCO of its loans used to finance the NAIA IPT III project triggers the occurrence of certain events that leads to the assumption by the Government of the liability for the loans. Only in one instance may the Government escape the assumption of PIATCO's

liabilities, i.e., when the Government so elects and allows a qualified operator to take over as Concessionaire. However, this circumstance is dependent on the existence and availability of a qualified operator who is willing to take over the rights and obligations of PIATCO under the contract, a circumstance that is not entirely within the control of the Government. Without going into the validity of this provision at this juncture, suffice it to state that Section 4.04 of the 1997 Concession Agreement may be considered a form of security for the loans PIATCO has obtained to finance the project, an option that was not made available in the draft Concession Agreement. Section 4.04 is an important amendment to the 1997 Concession Agreement because it grants PIATCO a financial advantage or benefit which was not previously made available during the bidding process. This financial advantage is a significant modification that translates to better terms and conditions for PIATCO. PIATCO, however, argues that the parties to the bidding procedure acknowledge that the draft Concession Agreement is subject to amendment because the Bid Documents permit financing or borrowing. They claim that it was the lenders who proposed the amendments to the draft Concession Agreement which resulted in the 1997 Concession Agreement. We agree that it is not inconsistent with the rationale and purpose of the BOT Law to allow the project proponent or the winning bidder to obtain financing for the project, especially in this case which involves the construction, operation and maintenance of the NAIA IPT III. Expectedly, compliance by the project proponent of its undertakings therein would involve a substantial amount of investment. It is therefore inevitable for the awardee of the contract to seek alternate sources of funds to support the project. Be that as it may, this Court maintains that amendments to the contract bidded upon should always conform to the general policy on public bidding if such procedure is to be faithful to its real nature and purpose. By its very nature and characteristic, competitive public bidding aims to protect the public interest by giving the public the best possible advantages through open competition.45 It has been held that the three principles in public bidding are (1) the offer to the public; (2) opportunity for competition; and (3) a basis for the exact comparison of bids. A regulation of the matter which excludes any of these factors destroys the distinctive character of the system and thwarts the purpose of its adoption.46 These are the basic

parameters which every awardee of a contract bidded out must conform to, requirements of financing and borrowing notwithstanding. Thus, upon a concrete showing that, as in this case, the contract signed by the government and the contract-awardee is an entirely different contract from the contract bidded, courts should not hesitate to strike down said contract in its entirety for violation of public policy on public bidding. A strict adherence on the principles, rules and regulations on public bidding must be sustained if only to preserve the integrity and the faith of the general public on the procedure. Public bidding is a standard practice for procuring government contracts for public service and for furnishing supplies and other materials. It aims to secure for the government the lowest possible price under the most favorable terms and conditions, to curtail favoritism in the award of government contracts and avoid suspicion of anomalies and it places all bidders in equal footing.47 Any government action which permits any substantial variance between the conditions under which the bids are invited and the contract executed after the award thereof is a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction which warrants proper judicial action. In view of the above discussion, the fact that the foregoing substantial amendments were made on the 1997 Concession Agreement renders the same null and void for being contrary to public policy. These amendments convert the 1997 Concession Agreement to an entirely different agreement from the contract bidded out or the draft Concession Agreement. It is not difficult to see that the amendments on (1) the types of fees or charges that are subject to MIAA regulation or control and the extent thereof and (2) the assumption by the Government, under certain conditions, of the liabilities of PIATCO directly translates concrete financial advantages to PIATCO that were previously not available during the bidding process. These amendments cannot be taken as merely supplements to or implementing provisions of those already existing in the draft Concession Agreement. The amendments discussed above present new terms and conditions which provide financial benefit to PIATCO which may have altered the technical and financial parameters of other bidders had they known that such terms were available. III

Direct Government Guarantee Article IV, Section 4.04(b) and (c), in relation to Article 1.06, of the 1997 Concession Agreement provides: Section 4.04 Assignment xxx xxx xxx

(b) In the event Concessionaire should default in the payment of an Attendant Liability, and the default resulted in the acceleration of the payment due date of the Attendant Liability prior to its stated date of maturity, the Unpaid Creditors and Concessionaire shall immediately inform GRP in writing of such default. GRP shall within one hundred eighty (180) days from receipt of the joint written notice of the Unpaid Creditors and Concessionaire, either (i) take over the Development Facility and assume the Attendant Liabilities, or (ii) allow the Unpaid Creditors, if qualified to be substituted as concessionaire and operator of the Development facility in accordance with the terms and conditions hereof, or designate a qualified operator acceptable to GRP to operate the Development Facility, likewise under the terms and conditions of this Agreement; Provided, that if at the end of the 180-day period GRP shall not have served the Unpaid Creditors and Concessionaire written notice of its choice, GRP shall be deemed to have elected to take over the Development Facility with the concomitant assumption of Attendant Liabilities. (c) If GRP, by written notice, allow the Unpaid Creditors to be substituted as concessionaire, the latter shall form and organize a concession company qualified to takeover the operation of the Development Facility. If the concession company should elect to designate an operator for the Development Facility, the concession company shall in good faith identify and designate a qualified operator acceptable to GRP within one hundred eighty (180) days from receipt of GRP's written notice. If the concession company, acting in good faith and with due diligence, is unable to designate a qualified operator within the aforesaid period, then GRP shall at the end of the 180-day period take over the Development Facility and assume Attendant Liabilities.

. Section 1.06. Attendant Liabilities Attendant Liabilities refer to all amounts recorded and from time to time outstanding in the books of the Concessionaire as owing to Unpaid Creditors who have provided, loaned or advanced funds actually used for the Project, including all interests, penalties, associated fees, charges, surcharges, indemnities, reimbursements and other related expenses, and further including amounts owed by Concessionaire to its suppliers, contractors and sub-contractors.48 It is clear from the above-quoted provisions that Government, in the event that PIATCO defaults in its loan obligations, is obligated to pay "all amounts recorded and from time to time outstanding from the books" of PIATCO which the latter owes to its creditors.49 These amounts include "all interests, penalties, associated fees, charges, surcharges, indemnities, 50 reimbursements and other related expenses." This obligation of the Government to pay PIATCO's creditors upon PIATCO's default would arise if the Government opts to take over NAIA IPT III. It should be noted, however, that even if the Government chooses the second option, which is to allow PIATCO's unpaid creditors operate NAIA IPT III, the Government is still at a risk of being liable to PIATCO's creditors should the latter be unable to designate a qualified operator within the prescribed period.51 In effect, whatever option the Government chooses to take in the event of PIATCO's failure to fulfill its loan obligations, the Government is still at a risk of assuming PIATCO's outstanding loans. This is due to the fact that the Government would only be free from assuming PIATCO's debts if the unpaid creditors would be able to designate a qualified operator within the period provided for in the contract. Thus, the Government's assumption of liability is virtually out of its control. The Government under the circumstances provided for in the 1997 Concession Agreement is at the mercy of the existence, availability and willingness of a qualified operator. The above contractual provisions constitute a direct government guarantee which is prohibited by law. One of the main impetus for the enactment of the BOT Law is the lack of government funds to construct the infrastructure and development projects necessary for economic growth and development. This is why private sector resources are being tapped in order to finance these projects. The BOT law

allows the private sector to participate, and is in fact encouraged to do so by way of incentives, such as minimizing the unstable flow of returns,52 provided that the government would not have to unnecessarily expend scarcely available funds for the project itself. As such, direct guarantee, subsidy and equity by the government in these projects are strictly prohibited.53 This is but logical for if the government would in the end still be at a risk of paying the debts incurred by the private entity in the BOT projects, then the purpose of the law is subverted. Section 2(n) of the BOT Law defines direct guarantee as follows: (n) Direct government guarantee An agreement whereby the government or any of its agencies or local government units assume responsibility for the repayment of debt directly incurred by the project proponent in implementing the project in case of a loan default. Clearly by providing that the Government "assumes" the attendant liabilities, which consists of PIATCO's unpaid debts, the 1997 Concession Agreement provided for a direct government guarantee for the debts incurred by PIATCO in the implementation of the NAIA IPT III project. It is of no moment that the relevant sections are subsumed under the title of "assignment". The provisions providing for direct government guarantee which is prohibited by law is clear from the terms thereof. The fact that the ARCA superseded the 1997 Concession Agreement did not cure this fatal defect. Article IV, Section 4.04(c), in relation to Article I, Section 1.06, of the ARCA provides: Section 4.04 Security xxx xxx xxx

(c) GRP agrees with Concessionaire (PIATCO) that it shall negotiate in good faith and enter into direct agreement with the Senior Lenders, or with an agent of such Senior Lenders (which agreement shall be subject to the approval of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas), in such form as may be reasonably acceptable to both GRP and Senior Lenders, with regard, inter alia, to the following parameters: xxx xxx xxx

(iv) If the Concessionaire [PIATCO] is in default under a payment obligation owed to the Senior Lenders, and as a result thereof the Senior Lenders have become entitled to accelerate the Senior Loans, the Senior Lenders shall have the right to notify GRP of the same, and without prejudice to any other rights of the Senior Lenders or any Senior Lenders' agent may have (including without limitation under security interests granted in favor of the Senior Lenders), to either in good faith identify and designate a nominee which is qualified under sub-clause (viii)(y) below to operate the Development Facility [NAIA Terminal 3] or transfer the Concessionaire's [PIATCO] rights and obligations under this Agreement to a transferee which is qualified under sub-clause (viii) below; xxx xxx xxx

(vi) if the Senior Lenders, acting in good faith and using reasonable efforts, are unable to designate a nominee or effect a transfer in terms and conditions satisfactory to the Senior Lenders within one hundred eighty (180) days after giving GRP notice as referred to respectively in (iv) or (v) above, then GRP and the Senior Lenders shall endeavor in good faith to enter into any other arrangement relating to the Development Facility [NAIA Terminal 3] (other than a turnover of the Development Facility [NAIA Terminal 3] to GRP) within the following one hundred eighty (180) days. If no agreement relating to the Development Facility [NAIA Terminal 3] is arrived at by GRP and the Senior Lenders within the said 180-day period, then at the end thereof the Development Facility [NAIA Terminal 3] shall be transferred by the Concessionaire [PIATCO] to GRP or its designee and GRP shall make a termination payment to Concessionaire [PIATCO] equal to the Appraised Value (as hereinafter defined) of the Development Facility [NAIA Terminal 3] or the sum of the Attendant Liabilities, if greater. Notwithstanding Section 8.01(c) hereof, this Agreement shall be deemed terminated upon the transfer of the Development Facility [NAIA Terminal 3] to GRP pursuant hereto; xxx xxx xxx

Section 1.06. Attendant Liabilities Attendant Liabilities refer to all amounts in each case supported by verifiable evidence from time to time owed or which may become owing by Concessionaire [PIATCO] to Senior Lenders or any other persons or entities who have provided, loaned, or advanced funds or provided financial facilities to Concessionaire [PIATCO] for the Project [NAIA Terminal 3], including, without limitation, all principal, interest, associated fees, charges, reimbursements, and other related expenses (including the fees, charges and expenses of any agents or trustees of such persons or entities), whether payable at maturity, by acceleration or otherwise, and further including amounts owed by Concessionaire [PIATCO] to its professional consultants and advisers, suppliers, contractors and sub-contractors.54 It is clear from the foregoing contractual provisions that in the event that PIATCO fails to fulfill its loan obligations to its Senior Lenders, the Government is obligated to directly negotiate and enter into an agreement relating to NAIA IPT III with the Senior Lenders, should the latter fail to appoint a qualified nominee or transferee who will take the place of PIATCO. If the Senior Lenders and the Government are unable to enter into an agreement after the prescribed period, the Government must then pay PIATCO, upon transfer of NAIA IPT III to the Government, termination payment equal to the appraised value of the project or the value of the attendant liabilities whichever is greater. Attendant liabilities as defined in the ARCA includes all amounts owed or thereafter may be owed by PIATCO not only to the Senior Lenders with whom PIATCO has defaulted in its loan obligations but to all other persons who may have loaned, advanced funds or provided any other type of financial facilities to PIATCO for NAIA IPT III. The amount of PIATCO's debt that the Government would have to pay as a result of PIATCO's default in its loan obligations -- in case no qualified nominee or transferee is appointed by the Senior Lenders and no other agreement relating to NAIA IPT III has been reached between the Government and the Senior Lenders -- includes, but is not limited to, "all principal, interest, associated fees, charges, reimbursements, and other related expenses . . . whether payable at maturity, by acceleration or otherwise."55

It is clear from the foregoing that the ARCA provides for a direct guarantee by the government to pay PIATCO's loans not only to its Senior Lenders but all other entities who provided PIATCO funds or services upon PIATCO's default in its loan obligation with its Senior Lenders. The fact that the Government's obligation to pay PIATCO's lenders for the latter's obligation would only arise after the Senior Lenders fail to appoint a qualified nominee or transferee does not detract from the fact that, should the conditions as stated in the contract occur, the ARCA still obligates the Government to pay any and all amounts owed by PIATCO to its lenders in connection with NAIA IPT III. Worse, the conditions that would make the Government liable for PIATCO's debts is triggered by PIATCO's own default of its loan obligations to its Senior Lenders to which loan contracts the Government was never a party to. The Government was not even given an option as to what course of action it should take in case PIATCO defaulted in the payment of its senior loans. The Government, upon PIATCO's default, would be merely notified by the Senior Lenders of the same and it is the Senior Lenders who are authorized to appoint a qualified nominee or transferee. Should the Senior Lenders fail to make such an appointment, the Government is then automatically obligated to "directly deal and negotiate" with the Senior Lenders regarding NAIA IPT III. The only way the Government would not be liable for PIATCO's debt is for a qualified nominee or transferee to be appointed in place of PIATCO to continue the construction, operation and maintenance of NAIA IPT III. This "pre-condition", however, will not take the contract out of the ambit of a direct guarantee by the government as the existence, availability and willingness of a qualified nominee or transferee is totally out of the government's control. As such the Government is virtually at the mercy of PIATCO (that it would not default on its loan obligations to its Senior Lenders), the Senior Lenders (that they would appoint a qualified nominee or transferee or agree to some other arrangement with the Government) and the existence of a qualified nominee or transferee who is able and willing to take the place of PIATCO in NAIA IPT III. The proscription against government guarantee in any form is one of the policy considerations behind the BOT Law. Clearly, in the present case, the ARCA obligates the Government to pay for all loans, advances and obligations arising out of financial facilities extended to PIATCO for the implementation of the NAIA IPT III project should PIATCO default in its loan obligations to its Senior Lenders and the latter fails to appoint a qualified nominee or transferee. This in effect would make the Government liable for

PIATCO's loans should the conditions as set forth in the ARCA arise. This is a form of direct government guarantee. The BOT Law and its implementing rules provide that in order for an unsolicited proposal for a BOT project may be accepted, the following conditions must first be met: (1) the project involves a new concept in technology and/or is not part of the list of priority projects, (2) no direct government guarantee, subsidy or equity is required, and (3) the government agency or local government unit has invited by publication other interested parties to a public bidding and conducted the same.56 The failure to meet any of the above conditions will result in the denial of the proposal. It is further provided that the presence of direct government guarantee, subsidy or equity will "necessarily disqualify a proposal from being treated and accepted as an unsolicited proposal."57 The BOT Law clearly and strictly prohibits direct government guarantee, subsidy and equity in unsolicited proposals that the mere inclusion of a provision to that effect is fatal and is sufficient to deny the proposal. It stands to reason therefore that if a proposal can be denied by reason of the existence of direct government guarantee, then its inclusion in the contract executed after the said proposal has been accepted is likewise sufficient to invalidate the contract itself. A prohibited provision, the inclusion of which would result in the denial of a proposal cannot, and should not, be allowed to later on be inserted in the contract resulting from the said proposal. The basic rules of justice and fair play alone militate against such an occurrence and must not, therefore, be countenanced particularly in this instance where the government is exposed to the risk of shouldering hundreds of million of dollars in debt. This Court has long and consistently adhered to the legal maxim that those that cannot be done directly cannot be done indirectly.58 To declare the PIATCO contracts valid despite the clear statutory prohibition against a direct government guarantee would not only make a mockery of what the BOT Law seeks to prevent -- which is to expose the government to the risk of incurring a monetary obligation resulting from a contract of loan between the project proponent and its lenders and to which the Government is not a party to -- but would also render the BOT Law useless for what it seeks to achieve - to make use of the resources of the private sector in the "financing, operation and maintenance of infrastructure and development projects"59 which are necessary for national growth and development but

which the government, unfortunately, could ill-afford to finance at this point in time. IV Temporary takeover of business affected with public interest Article XII, Section 17 of the 1987 Constitution provides: Section 17. In times of national emergency, when the public interest so requires, the State may, during the emergency and under reasonable terms prescribed by it, temporarily take over or direct the operation of any privately owned public utility or business affected with public interest. The above provision pertains to the right of the State in times of national emergency, and in the exercise of its police power, to temporarily take over the operation of any business affected with public interest. In the 1986 Constitutional Commission, the term "national emergency" was defined to include threat from external aggression, calamities or national disasters, but not strikes "unless it is of such proportion that would paralyze government service."60 The duration of the emergency itself is the determining factor as to how long the temporary takeover by the government would last.61 The temporary takeover by the government extends only to the operation of the business and not to the ownership thereof. As such the government is not required to compensate the private entity-owner of the said business as there is no transfer of ownership, whether permanent or temporary. The private entity-owner affected by the temporary takeover cannot, likewise, claim just compensation for the use of the said business and its properties as the temporary takeover by the government is in exercise of its police power and not of its power of eminent domain. Article V, Section 5.10 (c) of the 1997 Concession Agreement provides: Section 5.10 Temporary Take-over of operations by GRP. . (c) In the event the development Facility or any part thereof and/or the operations of Concessionaire or any part thereof, become the subject matter of or be included in any notice, notification, or declaration

concerning or relating to acquisition, seizure or appropriation by GRP in times of war or national emergency, GRP shall, by written notice to Concessionaire, immediately take over the operations of the Terminal and/or the Terminal Complex. During such take over by GRP, the Concession Period shall be suspended; provided, that upon termination of war, hostilities or national emergency, the operations shall be returned to Concessionaire, at which time, the Concession period shall commence to run again. Concessionaire shall be entitled to reasonable compensation for the duration of the temporary take over by GRP, which compensation shall take into account the reasonable cost for the use of the Terminal and/or Terminal Complex, (which is in the amount at least equal to the debt service requirements of Concessionaire, if the temporary take over should occur at the time when Concessionaire is still servicing debts owed to project lenders), any loss or damage to the Development Facility, and other consequential damages. If the parties cannot agree on the reasonable compensation of Concessionaire, or on the liability of GRP as aforesaid, the matter shall be resolved in accordance with Section 10.01 [Arbitration]. Any amount determined to be payable by GRP to Concessionaire shall be offset from the amount next payable by Concessionaire to GRP.62 PIATCO cannot, by mere contractual stipulation, contravene the Constitutional provision on temporary government takeover and obligate the government to pay "reasonable cost for the use of the Terminal and/or Terminal Complex."63 Article XII, section 17 of the 1987 Constitution envisions a situation wherein the exigencies of the times necessitate the government to "temporarily take over or direct the operation of any privately owned public utility or business affected with public interest." It is the welfare and interest of the public which is the paramount consideration in determining whether or not to temporarily take over a particular business. Clearly, the State in effecting the temporary takeover is exercising its police power. Police power is the "most essential, insistent, and illimitable of powers."64 Its exercise therefore must not be unreasonably hampered nor its exercise be a source of obligation by the government in the absence of damage due to arbitrariness of its exercise.65 Thus, requiring the government to pay reasonable compensation for the reasonable use of the property pursuant to the operation of the business contravenes the Constitution.

V Regulation of Monopolies A monopoly is "a privilege or peculiar advantage vested in one or more persons or companies, consisting in the exclusive right (or power) to carry on a particular business or trade, manufacture a particular article, or control the sale of a particular commodity."66 The 1987 Constitution strictly regulates monopolies, whether private or public, and even provides for their prohibition if public interest so requires. Article XII, Section 19 of the 1987 Constitution states: Sec. 19. The state shall regulate or prohibit monopolies when the public interest so requires. No combinations in restraint of trade or unfair competition shall be allowed. Clearly, monopolies are not per se prohibited by the Constitution but may be permitted to exist to aid the government in carrying on an enterprise or to aid in the performance of various services and functions in the interest of the public.67 Nonetheless, a determination must first be made as to whether public interest requires a monopoly. As monopolies are subject to abuses that can inflict severe prejudice to the public, they are subject to a higher level of State regulation than an ordinary business undertaking. In the cases at bar, PIATCO, under the 1997 Concession Agreement and the ARCA, is granted the "exclusive right to operate a commercial international passenger terminal within the Island of Luzon" at the NAIA IPT III.68 This is with the exception of already existing international airports in Luzon such as those located in the Subic Bay Freeport Special Economic Zone ("SBFSEZ"), Clark Special Economic Zone ("CSEZ") and in Laoag City.69 As such, upon commencement of PIATCO's operation of NAIA IPT III, Terminals 1 and 2 of NAIA would cease to function as international passenger terminals. This, however, does not prevent MIAA to use Terminals 1 and 2 as domestic passenger terminals or in any other manner as it may deem appropriate except those activities that would compete with NAIA IPT III in the latter's operation as an international passenger terminal.70 The right granted to PIATCO to exclusively operate NAIA IPT III would be for a period of twenty-five (25) years from the In-Service Date71 and renewable for another twenty-five (25) years at the option of the government.72 Both the 1997 Concession Agreement and the ARCA further

provide that, in view of the exclusive right granted to PIATCO, the concession contracts of the service providers currently servicing Terminals 1 and 2 would no longer be renewed and those concession contracts whose expiration are subsequent to the In-Service Date would cease to be effective on the said date.73 The operation of an international passenger airport terminal is no doubt an undertaking imbued with public interest. In entering into a BuildOperateand-Transfer contract for the construction, operation and maintenance of NAIA IPT III, the government has determined that public interest would be served better if private sector resources were used in its construction and an exclusive right to operate be granted to the private entity undertaking the said project, in this case PIATCO. Nonetheless, the privilege given to PIATCO is subject to reasonable regulation and supervision by the Government through the MIAA, which is the government agency authorized to operate the NAIA complex, as well as DOTC, the department to which MIAA is attached.74 This is in accord with the Constitutional mandate that a monopoly which is not prohibited must be regulated.75 While it is the declared policy of the BOT Law to encourage private sector participation by "providing a climate of minimum government regulations,"76 the same does not mean that Government must completely surrender its sovereign power to protect public interest in the operation of a public utility as a monopoly. The operation of said public utility can not be done in an arbitrary manner to the detriment of the public which it seeks to serve. The right granted to the public utility may be exclusive but the exercise of the right cannot run riot. Thus, while PIATCO may be authorized to exclusively operate NAIA IPT III as an international passenger terminal, the Government, through the MIAA, has the right and the duty to ensure that it is done in accord with public interest. PIATCO's right to operate NAIA IPT III cannot also violate the rights of third parties. Section 3.01(e) of the 1997 Concession Agreement and the ARCA provide: 3.01 Concession Period xxx xxx xxx

(e) GRP confirms that certain concession agreements relative to certain services and operations currently being undertaken at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport passenger Terminal I have a validity period extending beyond the In-Service Date. GRP through DOTC/MIAA, confirms that these services and operations shall not be carried over to the Terminal and the Concessionaire is under no legal obligation to permit such carry-over except through a separate agreement duly entered into with Concessionaire. In the event Concessionaire becomes involved in any litigation initiated by any such concessionaire or operator, GRP undertakes and hereby holds Concessionaire free and harmless on full indemnity basis from and against any loss and/or any liability resulting from any such litigation, including the cost of litigation and the reasonable fees paid or payable to Concessionaire's counsel of choice, all such amounts shall be fully deductible by way of an offset from any amount which the Concessionaire is bound to pay GRP under this Agreement. During the oral arguments on December 10, 2002, the counsel for the petitioners-in-intervention for G.R. No. 155001 stated that there are two service providers whose contracts are still existing and whose validity extends beyond the In-Service Date. One contract remains valid until 2008 and the other until 2010.77 We hold that while the service providers presently operating at NAIA Terminal 1 do not have an absolute right for the renewal or the extension of their respective contracts, those contracts whose duration extends beyond NAIA IPT III's In-Service-Date should not be unduly prejudiced. These contracts must be respected not just by the parties thereto but also by third parties. PIATCO cannot, by law and certainly not by contract, render a valid and binding contract nugatory. PIATCO, by the mere expedient of claiming an exclusive right to operate, cannot require the Government to break its contractual obligations to the service providers. In contrast to the arrastre and stevedoring service providers in the case of Anglo-Fil Trading Corporation v. Lazaro78 whose contracts consist of temporary hold-over permits, the affected service providers in the cases at bar, have a valid and binding contract with the Government, through MIAA, whose period of effectivity, as well as the other terms and conditions thereof, cannot be violated.

In fine, the efficient functioning of NAIA IPT III is imbued with public interest. The provisions of the 1997 Concession Agreement and the ARCA did not strip government, thru the MIAA, of its right to supervise the operation of the whole NAIA complex, including NAIA IPT III. As the primary government agency tasked with the job,79 it is MIAA's responsibility to ensure that whoever by contract is given the right to operate NAIA IPT III will do so within the bounds of the law and with due regard to the rights of third parties and above all, the interest of the public. VI CONCLUSION In sum, this Court rules that in view of the absence of the requisite financial capacity of the Paircargo Consortium, predecessor of respondent PIATCO, the award by the PBAC of the contract for the construction, operation and maintenance of the NAIA IPT III is null and void. Further, considering that the 1997 Concession Agreement contains material and substantial amendments, which amendments had the effect of converting the 1997 Concession Agreement into an entirely different agreement from the contract bidded upon, the 1997 Concession Agreement is similarly null and void for being contrary to public policy. The provisions under Sections 4.04(b) and (c) in relation to Section 1.06 of the 1997 Concession Agreement and Section 4.04(c) in relation to Section 1.06 of the ARCA, which constitute a direct government guarantee expressly prohibited by, among others, the BOT Law and its Implementing Rules and Regulations are also null and void. The Supplements, being accessory contracts to the ARCA, are likewise null and void. WHEREFORE, the 1997 Concession Agreement, the Amended and Restated Concession Agreement and the Supplements thereto are set aside for being null and void. SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Martinez, Corona, and Carpio-Morales, JJ., Vitug, J., see separate (dissenting) Panganiban, J., please see separate Quisumbing, J., no jurisdiction, please see separate opinion of J. Austriaconcur. opinion. opinion. Vitug in

which he concurs. Carpio, J., no part. Callejo, Sr., J., also concur in the separate opinion of J. Panganiban. Azcuna, J., joins the separate opinion of J. Vitug.

SEPARATE OPINIONS VITUG, J.: This Court is bereft of jurisdiction to hear the petitions at bar. The Constitution provides that the Supreme Court shall exercise original jurisdiction over, among other actual controversies, petitions for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, and habeas corpus.1 The cases in question, although denominated to be petitions for prohibition, actually pray for the nullification of the PIATCO contracts and to restrain respondents from implementing said agreements for being illegal and unconstitutional. Section 2, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court states: "When the proceedings of any tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person, whether exercising judicial, quasi-judicial or ministerial functions, are without or in excess of its or his jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, and there is no appeal or any other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, a person aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in the proper court, alleging the facts with certainty and praying that judgment be rendered commanding the respondent to desist from further proceedings in the action or matter specified therein, or otherwise granting such incidental reliefs as law and justice may require." The rule is explicit. A petition for prohibition may be filed against a tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person, exercising judicial, quasi-judicial or ministerial functions. What the petitions seek from respondents do not involve judicial, quasi-judicial or ministerial functions. In prohibition, only legal issues affecting the jurisdiction of the tribunal, board or officer involved may be resolved on the basis of undisputed facts.2 The parties allege, respectively, contentious evidentiary facts. It would be difficult, if not

anomalous, to decide the jurisdictional issue on the basis of the contradictory factual submissions made by the parties.3 As the Court has so often exhorted, it is not a trier of facts. The petitions, in effect, are in the nature of actions for declaratory relief under Rule 63 of the Rules of Court. The Rules provide that any person interested under a contract may, before breach or violation thereof, bring an action in the appropriate Regional Trial Court to determine any question of construction or validity arising, and for a declaration of his rights or duties thereunder.4 The Supreme Court assumes no jurisdiction over petitions for declaratory relief which are cognizable by regional trial courts.5 As I have so expressed in Tolentino vs. Secretary of Finance,6 reiterated in Santiago vs. Guingona, Jr.7 , the Supreme Court should not be thought of as having been tasked with the awesome responsibility of overseeing the entire bureaucracy. Pervasive and limitless, such as it may seem to be under the 1987 Constitution, judicial power still succumbs to the paramount doctrine of separation of powers. The Court may not at good liberty intrude, in the guise of sovereign imprimatur, into every affair of government. What significance can still then remain of the time-honored and widely acclaimed principle of separation of powers if, at every turn, the Court allows itself to pass upon at will the disposition of a co-equal, independent and coordinate branch in our system of government. I dread to think of the so varied uncertainties that such an undue interference can lead to. Accordingly, I vote for the dismissal of the petition. Quisumbing, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.

PANGANIBAN, J.: The five contracts for the construction and the operation of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal III, the subject of the consolidated Petitions before the Court, are replete with outright violations of law, public policy and the Constitution. The only proper thing to do is declare them all null and void ab initio and let the chips fall where they may. Fiat iustitia ruat coelum.

The facts leading to this controversy are already well presented in the ponencia. I shall not burden the readers with a retelling thereof. Instead, I will cut to the chase and directly address the two sets of gut issues: 1. The first issue is procedural: Does the Supreme Court have original jurisdiction to hear and decide the Petitions? Corollarily, do petitioners have locus standi and should this Court decide the cases without any mandatory referral to arbitration? 2. The second one is substantive in character: Did the subject contracts violate the Constitution, the laws, and public policy to such an extent as to render all of them void and inexistent? My answer to all the above questions is a firm "Yes." The Procedural Jurisdiction, Standing and Arbitration Issue:

Definitely and surely, the issues involved in these Petitions are clearly of transcendental importance and of national interest. The subject contracts pertain to the construction and the operation of the country's premiere international airport terminal - an ultramodern world-class public utility that will play a major role in the country's economic development and serve to project a positive image of our country abroad. The five build-operate-&transfer (BOT) contracts, while entailing the investment of billions of pesos in capital and the availment of several hundred millions of dollars in loans, contain provisions that tend to establish a monopoly, require the disbursements of public funds sans appropriations, and provide government guarantees in violation of statutory prohibitions, as well as other provisions equally offensive to law, public policy and the Constitution. Public interest will inevitably be affected thereby. Thus, objections to these Petitions, grounded upon (a) the hierarchy of courts, (b) the need for arbitration prior to court action, and (c) the alleged lack of sufficient personality, standing or interest, being in the main procedural matters, must now be set aside, as they have been in past cases. This Court must be permitted to perform its constitutional duty of determining whether the other agencies of government have acted within the limits of the Constitution and the laws, or if they have gravely abused the discretion entrusted to them.1

Hierarchy of Courts The Court has, in the past, held that questions relating to gargantuan government contracts ought to be settled without delay.2 This holding applies with greater force to the instant cases. Respondent Piatco is partly correct in averring that petitioners can obtain relief from the regional trial courts via an action to annul the contracts. Nevertheless, the unavoidable consequence of having to await the rendition and the finality of any such judgment would be a prolonged state of uncertainty that would be prejudicial to the nation, the parties and the general public. And, in light of the feared loss of jobs of the petitioning workers, consequent to the inevitable pretermination of contracts of the petitioning service providers that will follow upon the heels of the impending opening of NAIA Terminal III, the need for relief is patently urgent, and therefore, direct resort to this Court through the special civil action of prohibition is thus justified.3 Contrary to Piatco's argument that the resolution of the issues raised in the Petitions will require delving into factual questions,4 I submit that their disposition ultimately turns on questions of law.5 Further, many of the significant and relevant factual questions can be easily addressed by an examination of the documents submitted by the parties. In any event, the Petitions raise some novel questions involving the application of the amended BOT Law, which this Court has seen fit to tackle. Arbitration Should the dispute be referred to arbitration prior to judicial recourse? Respondent Piatco claims that Section 10.02 of the Amended and Restated Concession Agreement (ARCA) provides for arbitration under the auspices of the International Chamber of Commerce to settle any dispute or controversy or claim arising in connection with the Concession Agreement, its amendments and supplements. The government disagrees, however, insisting that there can be no arbitration based on Section 10.02 of the ARCA, since all the Piatco contracts are void ab initio. Therefore, all contractual provisions, including Section 10.02 of the ARCA, are likewise void, inexistent and inoperative. To support its stand, the government cites Chavez v. Presidential Commission on Good Government:6 "The void agreement will not be rendered operative by the parties' alleged

performance (partial or full) of their respective prestations. A contract that violates the Constitution and the law is null and void ab initio and vests no rights and creates no obligations. It produces no legal effect at all." As will be discussed at length later, the Piatco contracts are indeed void in their entirety; thus, a resort to the aforesaid provision on arbitration is unavailing. Besides, petitioners and petitioners-in-intervention have pointed out that, even granting arguendo that the arbitration clause remained a valid provision, it still cannot bind them inasmuch as they are not parties to the Piatco contracts. And in the final analysis, it is unarguable that the arbitration process provided for under Section 10.02 of the ARCA, to be undertaken by a panel of three (3) arbitrators appointed in accordance with the Rules of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce, will not be able to address, determine and definitively resolve the constitutional and legal questions that have been raised in the Petitions before us. Locus Standi Given this Court's previous decisions in cases of similar import, no one will seriously doubt that, being taxpayers and members of the House of Representatives, Petitioners Baterina et al. have locus standi to bring the Petition in GR No. 155547. In Albano v. Reyes,7 this Court held that the petitioner therein, suing as a citizen, taxpayer and member of the House of Representatives, was sufficiently clothed with standing to bring the suit questioning the validity of the assailed contract. The Court cited the fact that public interest was involved, in view of the important role of the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) in the country's economic development and the magnitude of the financial consideration. This, notwithstanding the fact that expenditure of public funds was not required under the assailed contract. In the cases presently under consideration, petitioners' personal and substantial interest in the controversy is shown by the fact that certain provisions in the Piatco contracts create obligations on the part of government (through the DOTC and the MIAA) to disburse public funds without prior congressional appropriations. Petitioners thus correctly assert that the injury to them has a twofold aspect: (1) they are adversely affected as taxpayers on account of the illegal disbursement of public funds; and (2) they are prejudiced qua legislators,

since the contractual provisions requiring the government to incur expenditures without appropriations also operate as limitations upon the exclusive power and prerogative of Congress over the public purse. As members of the House of Representatives, they are actually deprived of discretion insofar as the inclusion of those items of expenditure in the budget is concerned. To prevent such encroachment upon the legislative privilege and obviate injury to the institution of which they are members, petitioners-legislators have locus standi to bring suit. Messrs. Agan et al. and Lopez et al., are likewise taxpayers and thus possessed of standing to challenge the illegal disbursement of public funds. Messrs. Agan et al., in particular, are employees (or representatives of employees) of various service providers that have (1) existing concession agreements with the MIAA to provide airport services necessary to the operation of the NAIA and (2) service agreements to furnish essential support services to the international airlines operating at the NAIA. On the other hand, Messrs. Lopez et al. are employees of the MIAA. These petitioners (Messrs. Agan et al. and Messrs. Lopez et al.) are confronted with the prospect of being laid off from their jobs and losing their means of livelihood when their employer-companies are forced to shut down or otherwise retrench and cut back on manpower. Such development would result from the imminent implementation of certain provisions in the contracts that tend toward the creation of a monopoly in favor of Piatco, its subsidiaries and related companies. Petitioners-in-intervention are service providers in the business of furnishing airport-related services to international airlines and passengers in the NAIA and are therefore competitors of Piatco as far as that line of business is concerned. On account of provisions in the Piatco contracts, petitioners-inintervention have to enter into a written contract with Piatco so as not to be shut out of NAIA Terminal III and barred from doing business there. Since there is no provision to ensure or safeguard free and fair competition, they are literally at its mercy. They claim injury on account of their deprivation of property (business) and of the liberty to contract, without due process of law. And even if petitioners and petitioners-in-intervention were not sufficiently clothed with legal standing, I have at the outset already established that, given its impact on the public and on national interest, this controversy is

laden with transcendental importance and constitutional significance. Hence, I do not hesitate to adopt the same position as was enunciated in Kilosbayan v. Guingona Jr.8 that "in cases of transcendental importance, the Court may relax the standing requirements and allow a suit to prosper even when there is no direct injury to the party claiming the right of judicial review."9 The Substantive Violations of the Constitution and the Laws From the Outset, the Bidding Process Was Flawed and Tainted After studying the documents submitted and arguments advanced by the parties, I have no doubt that, right at the outset, Piatco was not qualified to participate in the bidding process for the Terminal III project, but was nevertheless permitted to do so. It even won the bidding and was helped along by what appears to be a series of collusive and corrosive acts. The build-operate-and-transfer (BOT) project for the NAIA Passenger Terminal III comes under the category of an "unsolicited proposal," which is the subject of Section 4-A of the BOT Law.10 The unsolicited proposal was originally submitted by the Asia's Emerging Dragon Corporation (AEDC) to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), which reviewed and approved the proposal. The draft of the concession agreement as negotiated between AEDC and DOTC/MIAA was endorsed to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA-ICC), which in turn reviewed it on the basis of its scope, economic viability, financial indicators and risks; and thereafter approved it for bidding. The DOTC/MIAA then prepared the Bid Documents, incorporating therein the negotiated Draft Concession Agreement, and published invitations for public bidding, i.e., for the submission of comparative or competitive proposals. Piatco's predecessor-in-interest, the Paircargo Consortium, was the only company that submitted a competitive bid or price challenge. At this point, I must emphasize that the law requires the award of a BOT project to the bidder that has satisfied the minimum requirements; and met Issue:

the technical, financial, organizational and legal standards provided in the BOT Law. Section 5 of this statute states: "Sec. 5. Public bidding of projects. - . . . "In the case of a build-operate-and-transfer arrangement, the contract shall be awarded to the bidder who, having satisfied the minimum financial, technical, organizational and legal standards required by this Act, has submitted the lowest bid and most favorable terms for the project, based on the present value of its proposed tolls, fees, rentals and charges over a fixed term for the facility to be constructed, rehabilitated, operated and maintained according to the prescribed minimum design and performance standards, plans and specifications. . . ." (Emphasis supplied.) The same provision requires that the price challenge via public bidding "must be conducted under a two-envelope/two-stage system: the first envelope to contain the technical proposal and the second envelope to contain the financial proposal." Moreover, the 1994 Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) provide that only those bidders that have passed the prequalification stage are permitted to have their two envelopes reviewed. In other words, prospective bidders must prequalify by submitting their prequalification documents for evaluation; and only the pre-qualified bidders would be entitled to have their bids opened, evaluated and appreciated. On the other hand, disqualified bidders are to be informed of the reason for their disqualification. This procedure was confirmed and reiterated in the Bid Documents, which I quote thus: "Prequalified proponents will be considered eligible to move to second stage technical proposal evaluation. The second and third envelopes of pre-disqualified proponents will be returned."11 Aside from complying with the legal and technical requirements (track record or experience of the firm and its key personnel), a project proponent desiring to prequalify must also demonstrate its financial capacity to undertake the project. To establish such capability, a proponent must prove that it is able to raise the minimum amount of equity required for the project and to procure the loans or financing needed for it. Section 5.4(c) of the 1994 IRR provides:

"Sec. 5.4. Prequalification Requirements. - To pre-qualify, a project proponent must comply with the following requirements: xxx xxx xxx

"c. Financial Capability. The project proponent must have adequate capability to sustain the financing requirements for the detailed engineering design, construction, and/or operation and maintenance phases of the project, as the case may be. For purposes of prequalification, this capability shall be measured in terms of: (i) proof of the ability of the project proponent and/or the consortium to provide a minimum amount of equity to the project, and (ii) a letter testimonial from reputable banks attesting that the project proponent and/or members of the consortium are banking with them, that they are in good financial standing, and that they have adequate resources. The government Agency/LGU concerned shall determine on a project-toproject basis, and before prequalification, the minimum amount of equity needed. . . . ." (Italics supplied) Since the minimum amount of equity for the project was set at 30 percent12 of the minimum project cost of US$350 million, the minimum amount of equity required of any proponent stood at US$105 million. Converted to pesos at the exchange rate then of P26.239 to US$1.00 (as quoted by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas), the peso equivalent of the minimum equity was P2,755,095,000. However, the combined equity or net worth of the Paircargo consortium stood at only P558,384,871.55.13 This amount was only slightly over 6 percent of the minimum project cost and very much short of the required minimum equity, which was equivalent to 30 percent of the project cost. Such deficiency should have immediately caused the disqualification of the Paircargo consortium. This matter was brought to the attention of the Prequalification and Bidding Committee (PBAC). Notwithstanding the glaring deficiency, DOTC Undersecretary Primitivo C. Cal, concurrent chair of the PBAC, declared in a Memorandum dated 14 October 1996 that "the Challenger (Paircargo consortium) was found to have a combined net worth of P3,926,421,242.00 that could support a project costing approximately P13 billion." To justify his conclusion, he

asserted: "It is not a requirement that the networth must be `unrestricted'. To impose this as a requirement now will be nothing less than unfair." He further opined, "(T)he networth reflected in the Financial Statement should not be taken as the amount of money to be used to answer the required thirty (30%) percent equity of the challenger but rather to be used in establishing if there is enough basis to believe that the challenger can comply with the required 30% equity. In fact, proof of sufficient equity is required as one of the conditions for award of contract (Sec. 12.1 of IRR of the BOT Law) but not for prequalification (Sec. 5.4 of same document)." On the basis of the foregoing dubious declaration, the Paircargo consortium was deemed prequalified and thus permitted to proceed to the other stages of the bidding process. By virtue of the prequalified status conferred upon the Paircargo, Undersecretary Cal's findings in effect relieved the consortium of the need to comply with the financial capability requirement imposed by the BOT Law and IRR. This position is unmistakably and squarely at odds with the Supreme Court's consistent doctrine emphasizing the strict application of pertinent rules, regulations and guidelines for the public bidding process, in order to place each bidder - actual or potential - on the same footing. Thus, it is unarguably irregular and contrary to the very concept of public bidding to permit a variance between the conditions under which bids are invited and those under which proposals are submitted and approved. Republic v. Capulong,14 teaches that if one bidder is relieved from having to conform to the conditions that impose some duty upon it, that bidder is not contracting in fair competition with those bidders that propose to be bound by all conditions. The essence of public bidding is, after all, an opportunity for fair competition and a basis for the precise comparison of bids.15 Thus, each bidder must bid under the same conditions; and be subject to the same guidelines, requirements and limitations. The desired result is to be able to determine the best offer or lowest bid, all things being equal. Inasmuch as the Paircargo consortium did not possess the minimum equity equivalent to 30 percent of the minimum project cost, it should not have been prequalified or allowed to participate further in the bidding. The Prequalification and Bidding Committee (PBAC) should therefore not have opened the two envelopes of the consortium containing its technical and

financial proposals; required AEDC to match the consortium's bid; 16 or awarded the Concession Agreement to the consortium's successor-ininterest, Piatco. As there was effectively no public bidding to speak of, the entire bidding process having been flawed and tainted from the very outset, therefore, the award of the concession to Paircargo's successor Piatco was void, and the Concession Agreement executed with the latter was likewise void ab initio. For this reason, Piatco cannot and should not be allowed to benefit from that Agreement.17 AEDC Was Deprived of the Right to Match PIATCO's Price Challenge In DOTC PBAC Bid Bulletin No. 4 (par. 3), Undersecretary Cal declared that, for purposes of matching the price challenge of Piatco, AEDC as originator of the unsolicited proposal would be permitted access only to the schedule of proposed Annual Guaranteed Payments submitted by Piatco, and not to the latter's financial and technical proposals that constituted the basis for the price challenge in the first place. This was supposedly in keeping with Section 11.6 of the 1994 IRR, which provides that proprietary information is to be respected, protected and treated with utmost confidentiality, and is therefore not to form part of the bidding/tender and related documents. This pronouncement, I believe, was a grievous misapplication of the mentioned provision. The "proprietary information" referred to in Section 11.6 of the IRR pertains only to the proprietary information of the originator of an unsolicited proposal, and not to those belonging to a challenger. The reason for the protection accorded proprietary information at all is the fact that, according to Section 4-A of the BOT Law as amended, a proposal qualifies as an "unsolicited proposal" when it pertains to a project that involves "a new concept or technology", and/or a project that is not on the government's list of priority projects. To be considered as utilizing a new concept or technology, a project must involve the possession of exclusive rights (worldwide or regional) over a process; or possession of intellectual property rights over a design, methodology or engineering concept.18 Patently, the intent of the BOT Law is to encourage individuals and groups to come up with creative innovations, fresh ideas and new technology. Hence, the significance and necessity of

protecting proprietary information in connection with unsolicited proposals. And to make the encouragement real, the law also extends to such individuals and groups what amounts to a "right of first refusal" to undertake the project they conceptualized, involving the use of new technology or concepts, through the mechanism of matching a price challenge. A competing bid is never just any figure conjured from out of the blue; it is arrived at after studying economic, financial, technical and other, factors; it is likewise based on certain assumptions as to the nature of the business, the market potentials, the probable demand for the product or service, the future behavior of cost items, political and other risks, and so on. It is thus self-evident that in order to be able to intelligently match a bid or price challenge, a bidder must be given access to the assumptions and the calculations that went into crafting the competing bid. In this instance, the financial and technical proposals of Piatco would have provided AEDC with the necessary information to enable it to make a reasonably informed matching bid. To put it more simply, a bidder unable to access the competitor's assumptions will never figure out how the competing bid came about; requiring him to "counter-propose" is like having him shoot at a target in the dark while blindfolded. By withholding from AEDC the challenger's financial and technical proposals containing the critical information it needed, Undersecretary Cal actually and effectively deprived AEDC of the ability to match the price challenge. One could say that AEDC did not have the benefit of a "level playing field." It seems to me, though, that AEDC was actually shut out of the game altogether. At the end of the day, the bottom line is that the validity and the propriety of the award to Piatco had been irreparably impaired. Delayed Issuance of the Notice of Award Violated the BOT Law and the IRR Section 9.5 of the IRR requires that the Notice of Award must indicate the time frame within which the winner of the bidding (and therefore the prospective awardee) shall submit the prescribed performance security, proof of commitment of equity contributions, and indications of sources of financing (loans); and, in the case of joint ventures, an agreement showing

that the members are jointly and severally responsible for the obligations of the project proponent under the contract. The purpose of having a definite and firm timetable for the submission of the aforementioned requirements is not only to prevent delays in the project implementation, but also to expose and weed out unqualified proponents, who might have unceremoniously slipped through the earlier prequalification process, by compelling them to put their money where their mouths are, so to speak. Nevertheless, this provision can be easily circumvented by merely postponing the actual issuance of the Notice of Award, in order to give the favored proponent sufficient time to comply with the requirements. Hence, to avert or minimize the manipulation of the post-bidding process, the IRR not only set out the precise sequence of events occurring between the completion of the evaluation of the technical bids and the issuance of the Notice of Award, but also specified the timetables for each such event. Definite allowable extensions of time were provided for, as were the consequences of a failure to meet a particular deadline. In particular, Section 9.1 of the 1994 IRR prescribed that within 30 calendar days from the time the second-stage evaluation shall have been completed, the Committee must come to a decision whether or not to award the contract and, within 7 days therefrom, the Notice of Award must be approved by the head of agency or local government unit (LGU) concerned, and its issuance must follow within another 7 days thereafter. Section 9.2 of the IRR set the procedure applicable to projects involving substantial government undertakings as follows: Within 7 days after the decision to award is made, the draft contract shall be submitted to the ICC for clearance on a no-objection basis. If the draft contract includes government undertakings already previously approved, then the submission shall be for information only. However, should there be additional or new provisions different from the original government undertakings, the draft shall have to be reviewed and approved. The ICC has 15 working days to act thereon, and unless otherwise specified, its failure to act on the contract within the specified time frame signifies that the agency or LGU may proceed with the award. The head of agency or LGU shall approve the Notice of Award within seven days

of the clearance by the ICC on a no-objection basis, and the Notice itself has to be issued within seven days thereafter. The highly regulated time-frames within which the agents of government were to act evinced the intent to impose upon them the duty to act expeditiously throughout the process, to the end that the project be prosecuted and implemented without delay. This regulated scenario was likewise intended to discourage collusion and substantially reduce the opportunity for agents of government to abuse their discretion in the course of the award process. Despite the clear timetables set out in the IRR, several lengthy and stillunexplained delays occurred in the award process, as can be observed from the presentation made by the counsel for public respondents,19 quoted hereinbelow: "11 Dec. 1996 - The Paircargo Joint Venture was informed by the PBAC that AEDC failed to match and that negotiations preparatory to Notice of Award should be commenced. This was the decision to award that should have commenced the running of the 7-day period to approve the Notice of Award, as per Section 9.1 of the IRR, or to submit the draft contract to the ICC for approval conformably with Section 9.2. "01 April 1997 - The PBAC resolved that a copy of the final draft of the Concession Agreement be submitted to the NEDA for clearance on a no-objection basis. This resolution came more than 3 months too late as it should have been made on the 20th of December 1996 at the latest. "16 April 1997 - The PBAC resolved that the period of signing the Concession Agreement be extended by 15 days. "18 April 1997 - NEDA approved the Concession Agreement. Again this is more than 3 months too late as the NEDA's decision should have been released on the 16th of January 1997 or fifteen days after it should have been submitted to it for review. "09 July 1997 - The Notice of Award was issued to PIATCO. Following the provisions of the IRR, the Notice of Award should have been

issued fourteen days after NEDA's approval, or the 28th of January 1997. In any case, even if it were to be assumed that the release of NEDA's approval on the 18th of April was timely, the Notice of Award should have been issued on the 9th of May 1997. In both cases, therefore, the release of the Notice of Award occurred in a decidedly less than timely fashion." This chronology of events bespeaks an unmistakable disregard, if not disdain, by the persons in charge of the award process for the time limitations prescribed by the IRR. Their attitude flies in the face of this Court's solemn pronouncement in Republic v. Capulong,20 that "strict observance of the rules, regulations and guidelines of the bidding process is the only safeguard to a fair, honest and competitive public bidding." From the foregoing, the only conclusion that can possibly be drawn is that the BOT law and its IRR were repeatedly violated with unmitigated impunity - and by agents of government, no less! On account of such violation, the award of the contract to Piatco, which undoubtedly gained time and benefited from the delays, must be deemed null and void from the beginning. Further Amendments Resulted in a Substantially Different Contract, Awarded Without Public Bidding But the violations and desecrations did not stop there. After the PBAC made its decision on December 11, 1996 to award the contract to Piatco, the latter negotiated changes to the Contract bidded out and ended up with what amounts to a substantially new contract without any public bidding. This Contract was subsequently further amended four more times through negotiation and without any bidding. Thus, the contract actually executed between Piatco and DOTC/MIAA on July 12, 1997 (the Concession Agreement or "CA") differed from the contract bidded out (the draft concession agreement or "DCA") in the following very significant respects: 1. The CA inserted stipulations creating a monopoly in favor of Piatco in the business of providing airport-related services for international airlines and passengers.21

2. The CA provided that government is to answer for Piatco's unpaid loans and debts (lumped under the term Attendant Liabilities) in the event Piatco fails to pay its senior lenders.22 3. The CA provided that in case of termination of the contract due to the fault of government, government shall pay all expenses that Piatco incurred for the project plus the appraised value of the Terminal.23 4. The CA imposed new and special obligations on government, including delivery of clean possession of the site for the terminal; acquisition of additional land at the government's expense for construction of road networks required by Piatco's approved plans and specifications; and assistance to Piatco in securing site utilities, as well as all necessary permits, licenses and authorizations.24 5. Where Section 3.02 of the DCA requires government to refrain from competing with the contractor with respect to the operation of NAIA Terminal III, Section 3.02(b) of the CA excludes and prohibits everyone, including government, from directly or indirectly competing with Piatco, with respect to the operation of, as well as operations in, NAIA Terminal III. Operations in is sufficiently broad to encompass all retail and other commercial business enterprises operating within Terminal III, inclusive of the businesses of providing various airportrelated services to international airlines, within the scope of the prohibition. 6. Under Section 6.01 of the DCA, the following fees are subject to the written approval of MIAA: lease/rental charges, concession privilege fees for passenger services, food services, transportation utility concessions, groundhandling, catering and miscellaneous concession fees, porterage fees, greeter/well-wisher fees, carpark fees, advertising fees, VIP facilities fees and others. Moreover, adjustments to the groundhandling fees, rentals and porterage fees are permitted only once every two years and in accordance with a parametric formula, per DCA Section 6.03. However, the CA as executed with Piatco provides in Section 6.06 that all the aforesaid fees, rentals and charges may be adjusted without MIAA's approval or intervention. Neither are the adjustments to these fees and charges subject to or limited by any parametric formula.25

7. Section 1.29 of the DCA provides that the terminal fees, aircraft tacking fees, aircraft parking fees, check-in counter fees and other fees are to be quoted and paid in Philippine pesos. But per Section 1.33 of the CA, all the aforesaid fees save the terminal fee are denominated in US Dollars. 8. Under Section 8.07 of the DCA, the term attendant liabilities refers to liabilities pertinent to NAIA Terminal III, such as payment of lease rentals and performance of other obligations under the Land Lease Agreement; the obligations under the Tenant Agreements; and payment of all taxes, fees, charges and assessments of whatever kind that may be imposed on NAIA Terminal III or parts thereof. But in Section 1.06 of the CA, Attendant Liabilities refers to unpaid debts of Piatco: "All amounts recorded and from time to time outstanding in the books of (Piatco) as owing to Unpaid Creditors who have provided, loaned or advanced funds actually used for the Project, including all interests, penalties, associated fees, charges, surcharges, indemnities, reimbursements and other related expenses, and further including amounts owed by [Piatco] to its suppliers, contractors and subcontractors." 9. Per Sections 8.04 and 8.06 of the DCA, government may, on account of the contractors breach, rescind the contract and select one of four options: (a) take over the terminal and assume all its attendant liabilities; (b) allow the contractor's creditors to assign the Project to another entity acceptable to DOTC/MIAA; (c) pay the contractor rent for the facilities and equipment the DOTC may utilize; or (d) purchase the terminal at a price established by independent appraisers. Depending on the option selected, government may take immediate possession and control of the terminal and its operations. Government will be obligated to compensate the contractor for the "equivalent or proportionate contract costs actually disbursed," but only where government is the one in breach of the contract. But under Section 8.06(a) of the CA, whether on account of Piatco's breach of contract or its inability to pay its creditors, government is obliged to either (a) take over Terminal III and assume all of Piatco's debts or (b) permit the qualified unpaid creditors to be substituted in place of Piatco or to designate a new operator. And in the event of government's breach of

contract, Piatco may compel it to purchase the terminal at fair market value, per Section 8.06(b) of the CA. 10. Under the DCA, any delay by Piatco in the payment of the amounts due the government constitutes breach of contract. However, under the CA, such delay does not necessarily constitute breach of contract, since Piatco is permitted to suspend payments to the government in order to first satisfy the claims of its secured creditors, per Section 8.04(d) of the CA. It goes without saying that the amendment of the Contract bidded out (the DCA or draft concession agreement) - in such substantial manner, without any public bidding, and after the bidding process had been concluded on December 11, 1996 - is violative of public policy on public biddings, as well as the spirit and intent of the BOT Law. The whole point of going through the public bidding exercise was completely lost. Its very rationale was totally subverted by permitting Piatco to amend the contract for which public bidding had already been concluded. Competitive bidding aims to obtain the best deal possible by fostering transparency and preventing favoritism, collusion and fraud in the awarding of contracts. That is the reason why procedural rules pertaining to public bidding demand strict observance.26 In a relatively early case, Caltex v. Delgado Brothers,27 this Court made it clear that substantive amendments to a contract for which a public bidding has already been finished should only be awarded after another public bidding: "The due execution of a contract after public bidding is a limitation upon the right of the contracting parties to alter or amend it without another public bidding, for otherwise what would a public bidding be good for if after the execution of a contract after public bidding, the contracting parties may alter or amend the contract, or even cancel it, at their will? Public biddings are held for the protection of the public, and to give the public the best possible advantages by means of open competition between the bidders. He who bids or offers the best terms is awarded the contract subject of the bid, and it is obvious that such protection and best possible advantages to the public will disappear if the parties to a contract executed after public bidding may alter or amend it without another previous public bidding."28

The aforementioned case dealt with the unauthorized amendment of a contract executed after public bidding; in the situation before us, the amendments were made also after the bidding, but prior to execution. Be that as it may, the same rationale underlying Caltex applies to the present situation with equal force. Allowing the winning bidder to renegotiate the contract for which the bidding process has ended is tantamount to permitting it to put in anything it wants. Here, the winning bidder (Piatco) did not even bother to wait until after actual execution of the contract before rushing to amend it. Perhaps it believed that if the changes were made to a contract already won through bidding (DCA) instead of waiting until it is executed, the amendments would not be noticed or discovered by the public. In a later case, Mata v. San Diego,29 this Court reiterated its ruling as follows: "It is true that modification of government contracts, after the same had been awarded after a public bidding, is not allowed because such modification serves to nullify the effects of the bidding and whatever advantages the Government had secured thereby and may also result in manifest injustice to the other bidders. This prohibition, however, refers to a change in vital and essential particulars of the agreement which results in a substantially new contract." Piatco's counter-argument may be summed up thus: There was nothing in the 1994 IRR that prohibited further negotiations and eventual amendments to the DCA even after the bidding had been concluded. In fact, PBAC Bid Bulletin No. 3 states: "[A]mendments to the Draft Concession Agreement shall be issued from time to time. Said amendments will only cover items that would not materially affect the preparation of the proponent's proposal." I submit that accepting such warped argument will result in perverting the policy underlying public bidding. The BOT Law cannot be said to allow the negotiation of contractual stipulations resulting in a substantially new contract after the bidding process and price challenge had been concluded. In fact, the BOT Law, in recognition of the time, money and effort invested in an unsolicited proposal, accords its originator the privilege of matching the challenger's bid.

Section 4-A of the BOT Law specifically refers to a "lower price proposal" by a competing bidder; and to the right of the original proponent "to match the price" of the challenger. Thus, only the price proposals are in play. The terms, conditions and stipulations in the contract for which public bidding has been concluded are understood to remain intact and not be subject to further negotiation. Otherwise, the very essence of public bidding will be destroyed - there will be no basis for an exact comparison between bids. Moreover, Piatco misinterpreted the meaning behind PBAC Bid Bulletin No. 3. The phrase amendments . . . from time to time refers only to those amendments to the draft concession agreement issued by the PBAC prior to the submission of the price challenge; it certainly does not include or permit amendments negotiated for and introduced after the bidding process, has been terminated. Piatco's Concession Agreement Was Further Amended, (ARCA) Again Without Public Bidding Not satisfied with the Concession Agreement, Piatco - once more without bothering with public bidding - negotiated with government for still more substantial changes. The result was the Amended and Restated Concession Agreement (ARCA) executed on November 26, 1998. The following changes were introduced: 1. The definition of Attendant Liabilities was further amended with the result that the unpaid loans of Piatco, for which government may be required to answer, are no longer limited to only those loans recorded in Piatco's books or loans whose proceeds were actually used in the Terminal III project.30 2. Although the contract may be terminated due to breach by Piatco, it will not be liable to pay the government any Liquidated Damages if a new operator is designated to take over the operation of the terminal.31 3. The Liquidated Damages which government becomes liable for in case of its breach of contract were substantially increased.32 4. Government's right to appoint a comptroller for Piatco in case the latter encounters liquidity problems was deleted.33

5. Government is made liable for Incremental and Consequential Costs and Losses in case it fails to comply or cause any third party under its direct or indirect control to comply with the special obligations imposed on government.34 6. The insurance policies obtained by Piatco covering the terminal are now required to be assigned to the Senior Lenders as security for the loans; previously, their proceeds were to be used to repair and rehabilitate the facility in case of damage.35 7. Government bound itself to set the initial rate of the terminal fee, to be charged when Terminal III begins operations, at an amount higher than US$20.36 8. Government waived its defense of the illegality of the contract and even agreed to be liable to pay damages to Piatco in the event the contract was declared illegal.37 9. Even though government may be entitled to terminate the ARCA on account of breach by Piatco, government is still liable to pay Piatco the appraised value of Terminal III or the Attendant Liabilities, if the termination occurs before the In-Service Date.38 This condition contravenes the BOT Law provision on termination compensation. 10. Government is obligated to take the administrative action required for Piatco's imposition, collection and application of all Public Utility Revenues.39 No such obligation existed previously. 11. Government is now also obligated to perform and cause other persons and entities under its direct or indirect control to perform all acts necessary to perfect the security interests to be created in favor of Piatco's Senior Lenders.40 No such obligation existed previously. 12. DOTC/MIAA's right of intervention in instances where Piatco's NonPublic Utility Revenues become exorbitant or excessive has been removed.41 13. The illegality and unenforceability of the ARCA or any of its material provisions was made an event of default on the part of government only, thus constituting a ground for Piatco to terminate the ARCA.42

14. Amounts due from and payable by government under the contract were made payable on demand - net of taxes, levies, imposts, duties, charges or fees of any kind except as required by law.43 15. The Parametric Formula in the contract, which is utilized to compute for adjustments/increases to the public utility revenues (i.e., aircraft parking and tacking fees, check-in counter fee and terminal fee), was revised to permit Piatco to input its more costly short-term borrowing rates instead of the longer-terms rates in the computations for adjustments, with the end result that the changes will redound to its greater financial benefit. 16. The Certificate of Completion simply deleted the successful performance-testing of the terminal facility in accordance with defined performance standards as a pre-condition for government's acceptance of the terminal facility.44 In sum, the foregoing revisions and amendments as embodied in the ARCA constitute very material alterations of the terms and conditions of the CA, and give further manifestly undue advantage to Piatco at the expense of government. Piatco claims that the changes to the CA were necessitated by the demands of its foreign lenders. However, no proof whatsoever has been adduced to buttress this claim. In any event, it is quite patent that the sum total of the aforementioned changes resulted in drastically weakening the position of government to a degree that seems quite excessive, even from the standpoint of a businessperson who regularly transacts with banks and foreign lenders, is familiar with their mind-set, and understands what motivates them. On the other hand, whatever it was that impelled government officials concerned to accede to those grossly disadvantageous changes, I can only hazard a guess. There is no question in my mind that the ARCA was unauthorized and illegal for lack of public bidding and for being patently disadvantageous to government. The Three Supplements Imposed New Obligations on Government, Also Without Prior Public Bidding

After Piatco had managed to breach the protective rampart of public bidding, it recklessly went on a rampage of further assaults on the ARCA. The First Supplement Is as Void as the ARCA In the First Supplement ("FS") executed on August 27, 1999, the following changes were made to the ARCA: 1. The amounts payable by Piatco to government were reduced by allowing additional exceptions to the Gross Revenues in which government is supposed to participate.45 2. Made part of the properties which government is obliged to construct and/or maintain and keep in good repair are (a) the access road connecting Terminals II and III - the construction of this access road is the obligation of Piatco, in lieu of its obligation to construct an Access Tunnel connecting Terminals II and III; and (b) the taxilane and taxiway - these are likewise part of Piatco's obligations, since they are part and parcel of the project as described in Clause 1.3 of the Bid Documents .46 3. The MIAA is obligated to provide funding for the maintenance and repair of the airports and facilities owned or operated by it and by third persons under its control. It will also be liable to Piatco for the latter's losses, expenses and damages as well as liability to third persons, in case MIAA fails to perform such obligations. In addition, MIAA will also be liable for the incremental and consequential costs of the remedial work done by Piatco on account of the former's default.47 4. The FS also imposed on government ten (10) "Additional Special Obligations," including the following: (a) Working for the removal of the general aviation traffic from the NAIA airport complex48 (b) Providing through MIAA the land required by Piatco for the taxilane and one taxiway at no cost to Piatco49 (c) Implementing the government's existing storm drainage master plan50

(d) Coordinating with DPWH the financing, the implementation and the completion of the following works before the In-Service Date: three left-turning overpasses (EDSA to Tramo St., Tramo to Andrews Ave., and Manlunas Road to Sales Ave.);51 and a road upgrade and improvement program involving widening, repair and resurfacing of Sales Road, Andrews Avenue and Manlunas Road; improvement of Nichols Interchange; and removal of squatters along Andrews Avenue.52 (e) Dealing directly with BCDA and the Phil. Air Force in acquiring additional land or right of way for the road upgrade and improvement program.53 5. Government is required to work for the immediate reversion to MIAA of the Nayong Pilipino National Park.54 6. Government's share in the terminal fees collected was revised from a flat rate of P180 to 36 percent thereof; together with government's percentage share in the gross revenues of Piatco, the amount will be remitted to government in pesos instead of US dollars.55 This amendment enables Piatco to benefit from the further erosion of the peso-dollar exchange rate, while preventing government from building up its foreign exchange reserves. 7. All payments from Piatco to government are now to be invoiced to MIAA, and payments are to accrue to the latter's exclusive benefit.56 This move appears to be in support of the funds MIAA advanced to DPWH. I must emphasize that the First Supplement is void in two respects. First, it is merely an amendment to the ARCA, upon which it is wholly dependent; therefore, since the ARCA is void, inexistent and not capable of being ratified or amended, it follows that the FS too is void, inexistent and inoperative. Second, even assuming arguendo that the ARCA is somehow remotely valid, nonetheless the FS, in imposing significant new obligations upon government, altered the fundamental terms and stipulations of the ARCA, thus necessitating a public bidding all over again. That the FS was entered into sans public bidding renders it utterly void and inoperative. The Second Supplement Is Similarly Void and Inexistent

The Second Supplement ("SS") was executed between the government and Piatco on September 4, 2000. It calls for Piatco, acting not as concessionaire of NAIA Terminal III but as a public works contractor, to undertake - in the government's stead - the clearing, removal, demolition and disposal of improvements, subterranean obstructions and waste materials at the project site.57 The scope of the works, the procedures involved, and the obligations of the contractor are provided for in Parts II and III of the SS. Section 4.1 sets out the compensation to be paid, listing specific rates per cubic meter of materials for each phase of the work - excavation, leveling, removal and disposal, backfilling and dewatering. The amounts collectible by Piatco are to be offset against the Annual Guaranteed Payments it must pay government. Though denominated as Second Supplement, it was nothing less than an entirely new public works contract. Yet it, too, did not undergo any public bidding, for which reason it is also void and inoperative. Not surprisingly, Piatco had to subcontract the works to a certain Wintrack Builders, a firm reputedly owned by a former high-ranking DOTC official. But that is another story altogether. The Third Supplement Is Likewise Void and Inexistent The Third Supplement ("TS"), executed between the government and Piatco on June 22, 2001, passed on to the government certain obligations of Piatco as Terminal III concessionaire, with respect to the surface road connecting Terminals II and III. By way of background, at the inception of and forming part of the NAIA Terminal III project was the proposed construction of an access tunnel crossing Runway 13/31, which. would connect Terminal III to Terminal II. The Bid Documents in Section 4.1.2.3[B][i] declared that the said access tunnel was subject to further negotiation; but for purposes of the bidding, the proponent should submit a bid for it as well. Therefore, the tunnel was supposed to be part and parcel of the Terminal III project. However, in Section 5 of the First Supplement, the parties declared that the access tunnel was not economically viable at that time. In lieu thereof, the

parties agreed that a surface access road (now called the T2-T3 Road) was to be constructed by Piatco to connect the two terminals. Since it was plainly in substitution of the tunnel, the surface road construction should likewise be considered part and parcel of the same project, and therefore part of Piatco's obligation as well. While the access tunnel was estimated to cost about P800 million, the surface road would have a price tag in the vicinity of about P100 million, thus producing significant savings for Piatco. Yet, the Third Supplement, while confirming that Piatco would construct the T2-T3 Road, nevertheless shifted to government some of the obligations pertaining to the former, as follows: 1. Government is now obliged to remove at its own expense all tenants, squatters, improvements and/or waste materials on the site where the T2-T3 road is to be constructed.58 There was no similar obligation on the part of government insofar as the access tunnel was concerned. 2. Should government fail to carry out its obligation as above described, Piatco may undertake it on government's behalf, subject to the terms and conditions (including compensation payments) contained in the Second Supplement.59 3. MIAA will answer for the operation, maintenance and repair of the T2-T3 Road.60 The TS depends upon and is intended to supplement the ARCA as well as the First Supplement, both of which are void and inexistent and not capable of being ratified or amended. It follows that the TS is likewise void, inexistent and inoperative. And even if, hypothetically speaking, both ARCA and FS are valid, still, the Third Supplement - imposing as it does significant new obligations upon government - would in effect alter the terms and stipulations of the ARCA in material respects, thus necessitating another public bidding. Since the TS was not subjected to public bidding, it is consequently utterly void as well. At any rate, the TS created new monetary obligations on the part of government, for which there were no prior appropriations. Hence it follows that the same is void ab initio. In patiently tracing the progress of the Piatco contracts from their inception up to the present, I noted that the whole process was riddled with significant

lapses, if not outright irregularity and wholesale violations of law and public policy. The rationale of beginning at the beginning, so to speak, will become evident when the question of what to do with the five Piatco contracts is discussed later on. In the meantime, I shall take up specific, provisions or changes in the contracts and highlight the more prominent objectionable features. Government Directly Guarantees Piatco Debts Certainly the most discussed provision in the parties' arguments is the one creating an unauthorized, direct government guarantee of Piatco's obligations in favor of the lenders. Section 4-A of the BOT Law as amended states that unsolicited proposals, such as the NAIA Terminal III Project, may be accepted by government provided inter alia that no direct government guarantee, subsidy or equity is required. In short, such guarantee is prohibited in unsolicited proposals. Section 2(n) of the same legislation defines direct government guarantee as "an agreement whereby the government or any of its agencies or local government units (will) assume responsibility for the repayment of debt directly incurred by the project proponent in implementing the project in case of a loan default." Both the CA and the ARCA have provisions that undeniably create such prohibited government guarantee. Section 4.04 (c)(iv) to (vi) of the ARCA, which is similar to Section 4.04 of the CA, provides thus: "(iv) that if Concessionaire is in default under a payment obligation owed to the Senior Lenders, and as a result thereof the Senior Lenders have become entitled to accelerate the Senior Loans, the Senior Lenders shall have the right to notify GRP of the same . . .; (v) . . . the Senior Lenders may after written notification to GRP, transfer the Concessionaire's rights and obligations to a transferee . . .; (vi) if the Senior Lenders . . . are unable to . . . effect a transfer . . ., then GRP and the Senior Lenders shall endeavor . . . to enter into any other arrangement relating to the Development Facility . . . If no agreement relating to the Development Facility is arrived at by GRP and the Senior Lenders within the said 180-day period, then at the end

thereof the Development Facility shall be transferred by the Concessionaire to GRP or its designee and GRP shall make a termination payment to Concessionaire equal to the Appraised Value (as hereinafter defined) of the Development Facility or the sum of the Attendant Liabilities, if greater. . . ." In turn, the term Attendant Liabilities is defined in Section 1.06 of the ARCA as follows: "Attendant Liabilities refer to all amounts in each case supported by verifiable evidence from time to time owed or which may become, owing by Concessionaire to Senior Lenders or any other persons or entities who have provided, loaned or advanced funds or provided financial facilities to Concessionaire for the Project, including, without limitation, all principal, interest, associated fees, charges, reimbursements, and other related expenses (including the fees, charges and expenses of any agents or trustees of such persons or entities), whether payable at maturity, by acceleration or otherwise, and further including amounts owed by Concessionaire to its professional consultants and advisers, suppliers, contractors and subcontractors." Government's agreement to pay becomes effective in the event of a default by Piatco on any of its loan obligations to the Senior Lenders, and the amount to be paid by government is the greater of either the Appraised Value of Terminal III or the aggregate amount of the moneys owed by Piatco - whether to the Senior Lenders or to other entities, including its suppliers, contractors and subcontractors. In effect, therefore, this agreement already constitutes the prohibited assumption by government of responsibility for repayment of Piatco's debts in case of a loan default. In fine, a direct government guarantee. It matters not that there is a roundabout procedure prescribed by Section 4.04(c)(iv), (v) and (vi) that would require, first, an attempt (albeit unsuccessful) by the Senior Lenders to transfer Piatco's rights to a transferee of their choice; and, second, an effort (equally unsuccessful) to "enter into any other arrangement" with the government regarding the Terminal III facility, before government is required to make good on its guarantee. What is abundantly clear is the fact that, in the devious labyrinthine process detailed in the aforesaid section, it is entirely within the

Senior Lenders' power, prerogative and control - exercisable via a mere refusal or inability to agree upon "a transferee" or "any other arrangement" regarding the terminal facility - to push the process forward to the ultimate contractual cul-de-sac, wherein government will be compelled to abjectly surrender and make good on its guarantee of payment. Piatco also argues that there is no proviso requiring government to pay the Senior Lenders in the event of Piatco's default. This is literally true, in the sense that Section 4.04(c)(vi) of ARCA speaks of government making the termination payment to Piatco, not to the lenders. However, it is almost a certainty that the Senior Lenders will already have made Piatco sign over to them, ahead of time, its right to receive such payments from government; and/or they may already have had themselves appointed its attorneys-infact for the purpose of collecting and receiving such payments. Nevertheless, as petitioners-in-intervention pointed out in their Memorandum,61 the termination payment is to be made to Piatco, not to the lenders; and there is no provision anywhere in the contract documents to prevent it from diverting the proceeds to its own benefit and/or to ensure that it will necessarily use the same to pay off the Senior Lenders and other creditors, in order to avert the foreclosure of the mortgage and other liens on the terminal facility. Such deficiency puts the interests of government at great risk. Indeed, if the unthinkable were to happen, government would be paying several hundreds of millions of dollars, but the mortgage liens on the facility may still be foreclosed by the Senior Lenders just the same. Consequently, the Piatco contracts are also objectionable for grievously failing to adequately protect government's interests. More accurately, the contracts would consistently weaken and do away with protection of government interests. As such, they are therefore grossly lopsided in favor of Piatco and/or its Senior Lenders. While on this subject, it is well to recall the earlier discussion regarding a particularly noticeable alteration of the concept of "Attendant Liabilities." In Section 1.06 of the CA defining the term, the Piatco debts to be assumed/paid by government were qualified by the phrases recorded and from time to time outstanding in the books of the Concessionaire and actually used for the project. These phrases were eliminated from the ARCA's definition of Attendant Liabilities.

Since no explanation has been forthcoming from Piatco as to the possible justification for such a drastic change, the only conclusion, possible is that it intends to have all of its debts covered by the guarantee, regardless of whether or not they are disclosed in its books. This has particular reference to those borrowings which were obtained in violation of the loan covenants requiring Piatco to maintain a minimum 70:30 debt-to-equity ratio, and even if the loan proceeds were not actually used for the project itself. This point brings us back to the guarantee itself. In Section 4.04(c)(vi) of ARCA, the amount which government has guaranteed to pay as termination payment is the greater of either (i) the Appraised Value of the terminal facility or (ii) the aggregate of the Attendant Liabilities. Given that the Attendant Liabilities may include practically any Piatco debt under the sun, it is highly conceivable that their sum may greatly exceed the appraised value of the facility, and government may end up paying very much more than the real worth of Terminal III. (So why did government have to bother with public bidding anyway?) In the final analysis, Section 4.04(c)(iv) to (vi) of the ARCA is diametrically at odds with the spirit and the intent of the BOT Law. The law meant to mobilize private resources (the private sector) to take on the burden and the risks of financing the construction, operation and maintenance of relevant infrastructure and development projects for the simple reason that government is not in a position to do so. By the same token, government guarantee was prohibited, since it would merely defeat the purpose and raison d'tre of a build-operate-and-transfer project to be undertaken by the private sector. To the extent that the project proponent is able to obtain loans to fund the project, those risks are shared between the project proponent on the one hand, and its banks and other lenders on the other. But where the proponent or its lenders manage to cajol or coerce the government into extending a guarantee of payment of the loan obligations, the risks assumed by the lenders are passed right back to government. I cannot understand why, in the instant case, government cheerfully assented to reassuming the risks of the project when it gave the prohibited guarantee and thus simply negated the very purpose of the BOT Law and the protection it gives the government. Contract Termination Provisions in the Piatco Contracts Are Void

The BOT Law as amended provides for contract termination as follows: "Sec. 7. Contract Termination. - In the event that a project is revoked, cancelled or terminated by the government through no fault of the project proponent or by mutual agreement, the Government shall compensate the said project proponent for its actual expenses incurred in the project plus a reasonable rate of return thereon not exceeding that stated in the contract as of the date of such revocation, cancellation or termination: Provided, That the interest of the Government in this instances [sic] shall be duly insured with the Government Service Insurance System or any other insurance entity duly accredited by the Office of the Insurance Commissioner: Provided, finally, That the cost of the insurance coverage shall be included in the terms and conditions of the bidding referred to above. "In the event that the government defaults on certain major obligations in the contract and such failure is not remediable or if remediable shall remain unremedied for an unreasonable length of time, the project proponent/contractor may, by prior notice to the concerned national government agency or local government unit specifying the turn-over date, terminate the contract. The project proponent/contractor shall be reasonably compensated by the Government for equivalent or proportionate contract cost as defined in the contract." The foregoing statutory provision in effect provides for the following limited instances when termination compensation may be allowed: 1. Termination by the government through no fault of the project proponent 2. Termination upon the parties' mutual agreement 3. Termination by the proponent due to government's default on certain major contractual obligations To emphasize, the law does not permit compensation for the project proponent when contract termination is due to the proponent's own fault or breach of contract.

This principle was clearly violated in the Piatco Contracts. The ARCA stipulates that government is to pay termination compensation to Piatco even when termination is initiated by government for the following causes: "(i) Failure of Concessionaire to finish the Works in all material respects in accordance with the Tender Design and the Timetable; (ii) Commission by Concessionaire of a material breach of this Agreement . . .; (iii) . . . a change in control of Concessionaire arising from the sale, assignment, transfer or other disposition of capital stock which results in an ownership structure violative of statutory or constitutional limitations; (iv) A pattern of continuing or repeated non-compliance, willful violation, or non-performance of other terms and conditions hereof which is hereby deemed a material breach of this Agreement . . ."62 As if that were not bad enough, the ARCA also inserted into Section 8.01 the phrase "Subject to Section 4.04." The effect of this insertion is that in those instances where government may terminate the contract on account of Piatco's breach, and it is nevertheless required under the ARCA to make termination compensation to Piatco even though unauthorized by law, such compensation is to be equivalent to the payment amount guaranteed by government - either a) the Appraised Value of the terminal facility or (b) the aggregate of the Attendant Liabilities, whichever amount is greater! Clearly, this condition is not in line with Section 7 of the BOT Law. That provision permits a project proponent to recover the actual expenses it incurred in the prosecution of the project plus a reasonable rate of return not in excess of that provided in the contract; or to be compensated for the equivalent or proportionate contract cost as defined in the contract, in case the government is in default on certain major contractual obligations. Furthermore, in those instances where such termination compensation is authorized by the BOT Law, it is indispensable that the interest of government be duly insured. Section 5.08 the ARCA mandates insurance coverage for the terminal facility; but all insurance policies are to be assigned, and all proceeds are payable, to the Senior Lenders. In brief, the

interest being secured by such coverage is that of the Senior Lenders, not that of government. This can hardly be considered compliance with law. In essence, the ARCA provisions on termination compensation result in another unauthorized government guarantee, this time in favor of Piatco. A Prohibited Direct Government Subsidy, Which at the Same Time Is an Assault on the National Honor Still another contractual provision offensive to law and public policy is Section 8.01(d) of the ARCA, which is a "bolder and badder" version of Section 8.04(d) of the CA. It will be recalled that Section 4-A of the BOT Law as amended prohibits not only direct government guarantees, but likewise a direct government subsidy for unsolicited proposals. Section 13.2. b. iii. of the 1999 IRR defines a direct government subsidy as encompassing "an agreement whereby the Government . . . will . . . postpone any payments due from the proponent." Despite the statutory ban, Section 8.01 (d) of the ARCA provides thus: "(d) The provisions of Section 8.01(a) notwithstanding, and for the purpose of preventing a disruption of the operations in the Terminal and/or Terminal Complex, in the event that at any time Concessionaire is of the reasonable opinion that it shall be unable to meet a payment obligation owed to the Senior Lenders, Concessionaire shall give prompt notice to GRP, through DOTC/MIAA and to the Senior Lenders. In such circumstances, the Senior Lenders (or the Senior Lenders' Representative) may ensure that after making provision for administrative expenses and depreciation, the cash resources of Concessionaire shall first be used and applied to meet all payment obligations owed to the Senior Lenders. Any excess cash, after meeting such payment obligations, shall be earmarked for the payment of all sums payable by Concessionaire to GRP under this Agreement. If by reason of the foregoing GRP should be unable to collect in full all payments due to GRP under this Agreement, then the unpaid balance shall be payable within a 90-day grace period counted from the relevant due date, with interest per annum at the rate equal to the average 91-day Treasury Bill Rate as of the auction date immediately

preceding the relevant due date. If payment is not effected by Concessionaire within the grace period, then a spread of five (5%) percent over the applicable 91-day Treasury Bill Rate shall be added on the unpaid amount commencing on the expiry of the grace period up to the day of full payment. When the temporary illiquidity of Concessionaire shall have been corrected and the cash position of Concessionaire should indicate its ability to meet its maturing obligations, then the provisions set forth under this Section 8.01(d) shall cease to apply. The foregoing remedial measures shall be applicable only while there remains unpaid and outstanding amounts owed to the Senior Lenders." (Emphasis supplied) By any manner of interpretation or application, Section 8.01(d) of the ARCA clearly mandates the indefinite postponement of payment of all of Piatco's obligations to the government, in order to ensure that Piatco's obligations to the Senior Lenders are paid in full first. That is nothing more or less than the direct government subsidy prohibited by the BOT Law and the IRR. The fact that Piatco will pay interest on the unpaid amounts owed to government does not change the situation or render the prohibited subsidy any less unacceptable. But beyond the clear violations of law, there are larger issues involved in the ARCA. Earlier, I mentioned that Section 8.01(d) of the ARCA completely eliminated the proviso in Section 8.04(d) of the CA which gave government the right to appoint a financial controller to manage the cash position of Piatco during situations of financial distress. Not only has government been deprived of any means of monitoring and managing the situation; worse, as can be seen from Section 8.01(d) above-quoted, the Senior Lenders have effectively locked in on the right to exercise financial controllership over Piatco and to allocate its cash resources to the payment of all amounts owed to the Senior Lenders before allowing any payment to be made to government. In brief, this particular provision of the ARCA has placed in the hands of foreign lenders the power and the authority to determine how much (if at all) and when the Philippine government (as grantor of the franchise) may be allowed to receive from Piatco. In that situation, government will be at the mercy of the foreign lenders. This is a situation completely contrary to the rationale of the BOT Law and to public policy.

The aforesaid provision rouses mixed emotions - shame and disgust at the parties' (especially the government officials') docile submission and abject servitude and surrender to the imperious and excessive demands of the foreign lenders, on the one hand; and vehement outrage at the affront to the sovereignty of the Republic and to the national honor, on the other. It is indeed time to put an end to such an unbearable, dishonorable situation. The Piatco Contracts Unarguably Violate Constitutional Injunctions I will now discuss the manner in which the Piatco Contracts offended the Constitution. The Exclusive Right Granted to Piatco to Operate a Public Utility Is Prohibited by the Constitution While Section 2.02 of the ARCA spoke of granting to Piatco "a franchise to operate and maintain the Terminal Complex," Section 3.02(a) of the same ARCA granted to Piatco, for the entire term of the concession agreement, "the exclusive right to operate a commercial international passenger terminal within the Island of Luzon" with the exception of those three terminals already existing63 at the time of execution of the ARCA. Section 11 of Article XII of the Constitution prohibits the grant of a "franchise, certificate, or any other form of authorization for the operation of a public utility" that is "exclusive in character." In its Opinion No. 078, Series of 1995, the Department of justice held that "the NAIA Terminal III which . . . is a 'terminal for public use' is a public utility." Consequently, the constitutional prohibition against the exclusivity of a franchise applies to the franchise for the operation of NAIA Terminal III as well. What was granted to Piatco was not merely a franchise, but an "exclusive right" to operate an international passenger terminal within the "Island of Luzon." What this grant effectively means is that the government is now estopped from exercising its inherent power to award any other person another franchise or a right to operate such a public utility, in the event public interest in Luzon requires it. This restriction is highly detrimental to government and to the public interest. Former Secretary of Justice

Hernando B. Perez expressed this point well in his Memorandum for the President dated 21 May 2002: "Section 3.02 on 'Exclusivity' "This provision gives to PIATCO (the Concessionaire) the exclusive right to operate a commercial international airport within the Island of Luzon with the exception of those already existing at the time of the execution of the Agreement, such as the airports at Subic, Clark and Laoag City. In the case of the Clark International Airport, however, the provision restricts its operation beyond its design capacity of 850,000 passengers per annum and the operation of new terminal facilities therein until after the new NAIA Terminal III shall have consistently reached or exceeded its design capacity of ten (10) million passenger capacity per year for three (3) consecutive years during the concession period. "This is an onerous and disadvantageous provision. It effectively grants PIATCO a monopoly in Luzon and ties the hands of government in the matter of developing new airports which may be found expedient and necessary in carrying out any future plan for an inter-modal transportation system in Luzon. "Additionally, it imposes an unreasonable restriction on the operation of the Clark International Airport which could adversely affect the operation and development of the Clark Special Economic Zone to the economic prejudice of the local constituencies that are being benefited by its operation." (Emphasis supplied) While it cannot be gainsaid that an enterprise that is a public utility may happen to constitute a monopoly on account of the very nature of its business and the absence of competition, such a situation does not however constitute justification to violate the constitutional prohibition and grant an exclusive franchise or exclusive right to operate a public utility. Piatco's contention that the Constitution does not actually prohibit monopolies is beside the point. As correctly argued,64 the existence of a monopoly by a public utility is a situation created by circumstances that do not encourage competition. This situation is different from the grant of a franchise to operate a public utility, a privilege granted by government. Of

course, the grant of a franchise may result in a monopoly. But making such franchise exclusive is what is expressly proscribed by the Constitution. Actually, the aforementioned Section 3.02 of the ARCA more than just guaranteed exclusivity; it also guaranteed that the government will not improve or expand the facilities at Clark - and in fact is required to put a cap on the latter's operations - until after Terminal III shall have been operated at or beyond its peak capacity for three consecutive years.65 As counsel for public respondents pointed out, in the real world where the rate of influx of international passengers can fluctuate substantially from year to year, it may take many years before Terminal III sees three consecutive years' operations at peak capacity. The Diosdado Macapagal International Airport may thus end up stagnating for a long time. Indeed, in order to ensure greater profits for Piatco, the economic progress of a region has had to be sacrificed. The Piatco Contracts Violate the Time Limitation on Franchises Section 11 of Article XII of the Constitution also provides that "no franchise, certificate or any other form of authorization for the operation of a public utility shall be . . . for a longer period than fifty years." After all, a franchise held for an unreasonably long time would likely give rise to the same evils as a monopoly. The Piatco Contracts have come up with an innovative way to circumvent the prohibition and obtain an extension. This fact can be gleaned from Section 8.03(b) of the ARCA, which I quote thus: "Sec. 8.03. Termination Procedure and Consequences of Termination. a) x x x xxx xxx

b) In the event the Agreement is terminated pursuant to Section 8.01 (b) hereof, Concessionaire shall be entitled to collect the Liquidated Damages specified in Annex 'G'. The full payment by GRP to Concessionaire of the Liquidated Damages shall be a condition precedent to the transfer by Concessionaire to GRP of the Development Facility. Prior to the full payment of the Liquidated Damages, Concessionaire shall to the extent

practicable continue to operate the Terminal and the Terminal Complex and shall be entitled to retain and withhold all payments to GRP for the purpose of offsetting the same against the Liquidated Damages. Upon full payment of the Liquidated Damages, Concessionaire shall immediately transfer the Development Facility to GRP on 'as-is-where-is' basis." The aforesaid easy payment scheme is less beneficial than it first appears. Although it enables government to avoid having to make outright payment of an obligation that will likely run into billions of pesos, this easy payment plan will nevertheless cost government considerable loss of income, which it would earn if it were to operate Terminal III by itself. Inasmuch as payments to the concessionaire (Piatco) will be on "installment basis," interest charges on the remaining unpaid balance would undoubtedly cause the total outstanding balance to swell. Piatco would thus be entitled to remain in the driver's seat and keep operating the terminal for an indefinite length of time. The Contracts Create Two Monopolies for Piatco By way of background, two monopolies were actually created by the Piatco contracts. The first and more obvious one refers to the business of operating an international passenger terminal in Luzon, the business end of which involves providing international airlines with parking space for their aircraft, and airline passengers with the use of departure and arrival areas, check-in counters, information systems, conveyor systems, security equipment and paraphernalia, immigrations and customs processing areas; and amenities such as comfort rooms, restaurants and shops. In furtherance of the first monopoly, the Piatco Contracts stipulate that the NAIA Terminal III will be the only facility to be operated as an international passenger terminal;66 that NAIA Terminals I and II will no longer be operated as such;67 and that no one (including the government) will be allowed to compete with Piatco in the operation of an international passenger terminal in the NAIA Complex.68 Given that, at this time, the government and Piatco are the only ones engaged in the business of operating an international passenger terminal, I am not acutely concerned with this particular monopolistic situation. There was however another monopoly within the NAIA created by the subject contracts for Piatco - in the business of providing international

airlines with the following: groundhandling, in-flight catering, cargo handling, and aircraft repair and maintenance services. These are lines of business activity in which are engaged many service providers (including the petitioners-in-intervention), who will be adversely affected upon full implementation of the Piatco Contracts, particularly Sections 3.01(d)69 and (e)70 of both the ARCA and the CA. On the one hand, Section 3.02(a) of the ARCA makes Terminal III the only international passenger terminal at the NAIA, and therefore the only place within the NAIA Complex where the business of providing airport-related services to international airlines may be conducted. On the other hand, Section 3.01(d) of the ARCA requires government, through the MIAA, not to allow service providers with expired MIAA contracts to renew or extend their contracts to render airport-related services to airlines. Meanwhile, Section 3.01(e) of the ARCA requires government, through the DOTC and MIAA, not to allow service providers - those with subsisting concession agreements for services and operations being conducted at Terminal I - to carry over their concession agreements, services and operations to Terminal III, unless they first enter into a separate agreement with Piatco. The aforementioned provisions vest in Piatco effective and exclusive control over which service provider may and may not operate at Terminal III and render the airport-related services needed by international airlines. It thereby possesses the power to exclude competition. By necessary implication, it also has effective control over the fees and charges that will be imposed and collected by these service providers. This intention is exceedingly clear in the declaration by Piatco that it is "completely within its rights to exclude any party that it has not contracted with from NAIA Terminal III."71 Worse, there is nothing whatsoever in the Piatco Contracts that can serve to restrict, control or regulate the concessionaire's discretion and power to reject any service provider and/or impose any term or condition it may see fit in any contract it enters into with a service provider. In brief, there is no safeguard whatsoever to ensure free and fair competition in the serviceprovider sector. In the meantime, and not surprisingly, Piatco is first in line, ready to exploit the unique business opportunity. It announced72 that it has accredited three

groundhandlers for Terminal III. Aside from the Philippine Airlines, the other accredited entities are the Philippine Airport and Ground Services Globeground, Inc. ("PAGSGlobeground") and the Orbit Air Systems, Inc. ("Orbit"). PAGSGlobeground is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Philippine Airport and Ground Services, Inc. or PAGS,73 while Orbit is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Friendship Holdings, Inc.,74 which is in turn owned 80 percent by PAGS.75 PAGS is a service provider owned 60 percent by the Cheng Family;76 it is a stockholder of 35 percent of Piatco77 and is the latter's designated contractor-operator for NAIA Terminal III.78 Such entry into and domination of the airport-related services sector appear to be very much in line with the following provisions contained in the First Addendum to the Piatco Shareholders Agreement,79 executed on July 6, 1999, which appear to constitute a sort of master plan to create a monopoly and combinations in restraint of trade: "11. The Shareholders shall ensure: a. x x x xxx x x x.;

b. That (Phil. Airport and Ground Services, Inc.) PAGS and/or its designated Affiliates shall, at all times during the Concession Period, be exclusively authorized by (PIATCO) to engage in the provision of ground-handling, catering and fueling services within the Terminal Complex. c. That PAIRCARGO and/or its designated Affiliate shall, during the Concession Period, be the only entities authorized to construct and operate a warehouse for all cargo handling and related services within the Site." Precisely, proscribed by our Constitution are the monopoly and the restraint of trade being fostered by the Piatco Contracts through the erection of barriers to the entry of other service providers into Terminal III. In Tatad v. Secretary of the Department of Energy,80 the Court ruled: ". . . [S]ection 19 of Article XII of the Constitution . . . mandates: 'The State shall regulate or prohibit monopolies when the public interest so requires. No combinations in restraint of trade or unfair competition shall be allowed.'

"A monopoly is a privilege or peculiar advantage vested in one or more persons or companies, consisting in the exclusive right or power to carry on a particular business or trade, manufacture a particular article, or control the sale or the whole supply of a particular commodity. It is a form of market structure in which one or only a few firms dominate the total sales of a product or service. On the other hand, a combination in restraint of trade is an agreement or understanding between two or more persons, in the form of a contract, trust, pool, holding company, or other form of association, for the purpose of unduly restricting competition, monopolizing trade and commerce in a certain commodity, controlling its production, distribution and price, or otherwise interfering with freedom of trade without statutory authority. Combination in restraint of trade refers to the means while monopoly refers to the end. "x x x xxx xxx

"Section 19, Article XII of our Constitution is anti-trust in history and in spirit. It espouses competition. The desirability of competition is the reason for the prohibition against restraint of trade, the reason for the interdiction of unfair competition, and the reason for regulation of unmitigated monopolies. Competition is thus the underlying principle of [S]ection 19, Article XII of our Constitution, . . ."81 Gokongwei Jr. v. Securities and Exchange Commission82 elucidates the criteria to be employed: "A 'monopoly' embraces any combination the tendency of which is to prevent competition in the broad and general sense, or to control prices to the detriment of the public. In short, it is the concentration of business in the hands of a few. The material consideration in determining its existence is not that prices are raised and competition actually excluded, but that power exists to raise prices or exclude competition when desired."83 (Emphasis supplied) The Contracts Encourage Monopolistic Pricing, Too Aside from creating a monopoly, the Piatco contracts also give the concessionaire virtually limitless power over the charging of fees, rentals and so forth. What little "oversight function" the government might be able and minded to exercise is less than sufficient to protect the public interest, as can be gleaned from the following provisions:

"Sec. 6.06. Adjustment of Non-Public Utility Fees and Charges "For fees, rentals and charges constituting Non-Public Utility Revenues, Concessionaire may make any adjustments it deems appropriate without need for the consent of GRP or any government agency subject to Sec. 6.03(c)." Section 6.03(c) in turn provides: "(c) Concessionaire shall at all times be judicious in fixing fees and charges constituting Non-Public Utility Revenues in order to ensure that End Users are not unreasonably deprived of services. While the vehicular parking fee, porterage fee and greeter/wellwisher fee constitute Non-Public Utility Revenues of Concessionaire, GRP may require Concessionaire to explain and justify the fee it may set from time to time, if in the reasonable opinion of GRP the said fees have become exorbitant resulting in the unreasonable deprivation of End Users of such services." It will be noted that the above-quoted provision has no teeth, so the concessionaire can defy the government without fear of any sanction. Moreover, Section 6.06 - taken together with Section 6.03(c) of the ARCA falls short of the standard set by the BOT Law as amended, which expressly requires in Section 2(b) that the project proponent is "allowed to charge facility users appropriate tolls, fees, rentals and charges not exceeding those proposed in its bid or as negotiated and incorporated in the contract x x x." The Piatco Contracts Violate Constitutional Prohibitions Against Impairment of Contracts and Deprivation of Property Without Due Process Earlier, I discussed how Section 3.01(e)84 of both the CA and the ARCA requires government, through DOTC/MIAA, not to permit the carry-over to Terminal III of the services and operations of certain service providers currently operating at Terminal I with subsisting contracts. By the In-Service Date, Terminal III shall be the only facility to be operated as an international passenger terminal at the NAIA;85 thus, Terminals I and II shall no longer operate as such,86 and no one shall be allowed to compete with Piatco in the operation of an international passenger terminal in the

NAIA.87 The bottom line is that, as of the In-Service Date, Terminal III will be the only terminal where the business of providing airport-related services to international airlines and passengers may be conducted at all. Consequently, government through the DOTC/MIAA will be compelled to cease honoring existing contracts with service providers after the In-Service Date, as they cannot be allowed to operate in Terminal III. In short, the CA and the ARCA obligate and constrain government to break its existing contracts with these service providers. Notably, government is not in a position to require Piatco to accommodate the displaced service providers, and it would be unrealistic to think that these service providers can perform their service contracts in some other international airport outside Luzon. Obviously, then, these displaced service providers are - to borrow a quaint expression - up the river without a paddle. In plainer terms, they will have lost their businesses entirely, in the blink of an eye. What we have here is a set of contractual provisions that impair the obligation of contracts and contravene the constitutional prohibition against deprivation of property without due process of law.88 Moreover, since the displaced service providers, being unable to operate, will be forced to close shop, their respective employees - among them Messrs. Agan and Lopez et al. - have very grave cause for concern, as they will find themselves out of employment and bereft of their means of livelihood. This situation comprises still another violation of the constitution prohibition against deprivation of property without due process. True, doing business at the NAIA may be viewed more as a privilege than as a right. Nonetheless, where that privilege has been availed of by the petitioners-in-intervention service providers for years on end, a situation arises, similar to that in American Inter-fashion v. GTEB.89 We held therein that a privilege enjoyed for seven years "evolved into some form of property right which should not be removed x x x arbitrarily and without due process." Said pronouncement is particularly relevant and applicable to the situation at bar because the livelihood of the employees of petitioners-intervenors are at stake.

The Piatco Contracts Violate Constitutional Against Deprivation of Liberty Without Due Process

Prohibition

The Piatco Contracts by locking out existing service providers from entry into Terminal III and restricting entry of future service providers, thereby infringed upon the freedom - guaranteed to and heretofore enjoyed by international airlines - to contract with local service providers of their choice, and vice versa. Both the service providers and their client airlines will be deprived of the right to liberty, which includes the right to enter into all contracts,90 and/or the right to make a contract in relation to one's business.91 By Creating New Financial Obligations for Government, Supplements to the ARCA Violate the Constitutional Ban on Disbursement of Public Funds Without Valid Appropriation Clearly prohibited by the Constitution is the disbursement of public funds out of the treasury, except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law.92 The immediate effect of this constitutional ban is that all the various agencies of government are constrained to limit their expenditures to the amounts appropriated by law for each fiscal year; and to carefully count their cash before taking on contractual commitments. Giving flesh and form to the injunction of the fundamental law, Sections 46 and 47 of Executive Order 292, otherwise known as the Administrative Code of 1987, provide as follows: "Sec. 46. Appropriation Before Entering into Contract. - (1) No contract involving the expenditure of public funds shall be entered into unless there is an appropriation therefor, the unexpended balance of which, free of other obligations, is sufficient to cover the proposed expenditure; and . . "Sec. 47. Certificate Showing Appropriation to Meet Contract. - Except in the case of a contract for personal service, for supplies for current consumption or to be carried in stock not exceeding the estimated consumption for three (3) months, or banking transactions of government-owned or controlled banks, no contract involving the expenditure of public funds by any government agency shall be entered into or authorized unless the proper accounting official of the

agency concerned shall have certified to the officer entering into the obligation that funds have been duly appropriated for the purpose and that the amount necessary to cover the proposed contract for the current calendar year is available for expenditure on account thereof, subject to verification by the auditor concerned. The certificate signed by the proper accounting official and the auditor who verified it, shall be attached to and become an integral part of the proposed contract, and the sum so certified shall not thereafter be available for expenditure for any other purpose until the obligation of the government agency concerned under the contract is fully extinguished." Referring to the aforequoted provisions, this Court has held that "(I)t is quite evident from the tenor of the language of the law that the existence of appropriations and the availability of funds are indispensable pre-requisites to or conditions sine qua non for the execution of government contracts. The obvious intent is to impose such conditions as a priori requisites to the validity of the proposed contract."93 Notwithstanding the constitutional ban, statutory mandates and Jurisprudential precedents, the three Supplements to the ARCA, which were not approved by NEDA, imposed on government the additional burden of spending public moneys without prior appropriation. In the First Supplement ("FS") dated August 27, 1999, the following requirements were imposed on the government: To construct, maintain and keep in good repair and operating condition all airport support services, facilities, equipment and infrastructure owned and/or operated by MIAA, which are not part of the Project or which are located outside the Site, even though constructed by Concessionaire - including the access road connecting Terminals II and III and the taxilane, taxiways and runways To obligate the MIAA to provide funding for the upkeep, maintenance and repair of the airports and facilities owned or operated by it and by third persons under its control in order to ensure compliance with international standards; and holding MIAA liable to Piatco for the latter's losses, expenses and damages as well as for the latter's liability to third persons, in case MIAA fails to perform such obligations; in addition, MIAA will also be liable for the incremental and consequential

costs of the remedial work done by Piatco on account of the former's default. Section 4 of the FS imposed on government ten (10) "Additional Special Obligations," including the following:
o

Providing thru MIAA the land required by Piatco for the taxilane and one taxiway, at no cost to Piatco Implementing the government's existing storm drainage master plan Coordinating with DPWH the financing, implementation and completion of the following works before the In-Service Date: three left-turning overpasses (Edsa to Tramo St., Tramo to Andrews Ave., and Manlunas Road to Sales Ave.) and a road upgrade and improvement program involving widening, repair and resurfacing of Sales Road, Andrews Avenue and Manlunas Road; improvement of Nichols Interchange; and removal of squatters along Andrews Avenue Dealing directly with BCDA and the Philippine Air Force in acquiring additional land or right of way for the road upgrade and improvement program Requiring government to work for the immediate reversion to MIAA of the Nayong Pilipino National Park, in order to permit the building of the second west parallel taxiway

Section 5 of the FS also provides that in lieu of the access tunnel, a surface access road (T2-T3) will be constructed. This provision requires government to expend funds to purchase additional land from Nayong Pilipino and to clear the same in order to be able to deliver clean possession of the site to Piatco, as required in Section 5(c) of the FS. On the other hand, the Third Supplement ("TS") obligates the government to deliver, within 120 days from date thereof, clean possession of the land on which the T2-T3 Road is to be constructed. The foregoing contractual stipulations undeniably impose on government the expenditures of public funds not included in any congressional appropriation or authorized by any other statute. Piatco however attempts to take these stipulations out of the ambit of Sections 46 and 47 of the

Administrative Code by characterizing them as stipulations for compliance on a "best-efforts basis" only. To determine whether the additional obligations under the Supplements may really be undertaken on a best-efforts basis only, the nature of each of these obligations must be examined in the context of its relevance and significance to the Terminal III Project, as well as of any adverse impact that may result if such obligation is not performed or undertaken on time. In short, the criteria for determining whether the best-efforts basis will apply is whether the obligations are critical to the success of the Project and, accordingly, whether failure to perform them (or to perform them on time) could result in a material breach of the contract. Viewed in this light, the "Additional Special Obligations" set out in Section 4 of the FS take on a different aspect. In particular, each of the following may all be deemed to play a major role in the successful and timely prosecution of the Terminal III Project: the obtention of land required by PIATCO for the taxilane and taxiway; the implementation of government's existing storm drainage master plan; and coordination with DPWH for the completion of the three left-turning overpasses before the In-Service Date, as well as acquisition and delivery of additional land for the construction of the T2-T3 access road. Conversely, failure to deliver on any of these obligations may conceivably result in substantial prejudice to the concessionaire, to such an extent as to constitute a material breach of the Piatco Contracts. Whereupon, the concessionaire may outrightly terminate the Contracts pursuant to Section 8.01(b)(i) and (ii) of the ARCA and seek payment of Liquidated Damages in accordance with Section 8.02(a) of the ARCA; or the concessionaire may instead require government to pay the Incremental and Consequential Losses under Section 1.23 of the ARCA.94 The logical conclusion then is that the obligations in the Supplements are not to be performed on a bestefforts basis only, but are unarguably mandatory in character. Regarding MIAA's obligation to coordinate with the DPWH for the complete implementation of the road upgrading and improvement program for Sales, Andrews and Manlunas Roads (which provide access to the Terminal III site) prior to the In-Service Date, it is essential to take note of the fact that there was a pressing need to complete the program before the opening of Terminal III.95 For that reason, the MIAA was compelled to enter into a

memorandum of agreement with the DPWH in order to ensure the timely completion of the road widening and improvement program. MIAA agreed to advance the total amount of P410.11 million to DPWH for the works, while the latter was committed to do the following: "2.2.8. Reimburse all advance payments to MIAA including but not limited to interest, fees, plus other costs of money within the periods CY2004 and CY2006 with payment of no less than One Hundred Million Pesos (PhP100M) every year. "2.2.9. Perform all acts necessary to include in its CY2004 to CY2006 budget allocation the repayments for the advances made by MIAA, to ensure that the advances are fully repaid by CY2006. For this purpose, DPWH shall include the amounts to be appropriated for reimbursement to MIAA in the "Not Needing Clearance" column of their Agency Budget Matrix (ABM) submitted to the Department of Budget and Management." It can be easily inferred, then, that DPWH did not set aside enough funds to be able to complete the upgrading program for the crucially situated access roads prior to the targeted opening date of Terminal III; and that, had MIAA not agreed to lend the P410 Million, DPWH would not have been able to complete the program on time. As a consequence, government would have been in breach of a material obligation. Hence, this particular undertaking of government may likewise not be construed as being for best-efforts compliance only. They also Infringe on the Legislative Prerogative and Power Over the Public Purse But the particularly sad thing about this transaction between MIAA and DPWH is the fact that both agencies were maneuvered into (or allowed themselves to be maneuvered into) an agreement that would ensure delivery of upgraded roads for Piatco's benefit, using funds not allocated for that purpose. The agreement would then be presented to Congress as a done deal. Congress would thus be obliged to uphold the agreement and support it with the necessary allocations and appropriations for three years, in order to enable DPWH to deliver on its committed repayments to MIAA. The net result is an infringement on the legislative power over the public purse and a diminution of Congress' control over expenditures of public

funds - a development that would not have come about, were it not for the Supplements. Very clever but very illegal! EPILOGUE What Do We Do Now? In the final analysis, there remains but one ultimate question, which I raised during the Oral Argument on December 10, 2002: What do we do with the Piatco Contracts and Terminal III?96 (Feeding directly into the resolution of the decisive question is the other nagging issue: Why should we bother with determining the legality and validity of these contracts, when the Terminal itself has already been built and is practically complete?) Prescinding from all the foregoing disquisition, I find that all the Piatco contracts, without exception, are void ab initio, and therefore inoperative. Even the very process by which the contracts came into being - the bidding and the award - has been riddled with irregularities galore and blatant violations of law and public policy, far too many to ignore. There is thus no conceivable way, as proposed by some, of saving one (the original Concession Agreement) while junking all the rest. Neither is it possible to argue for the retention of the Draft Concession Agreement (referred to in the various pleadings as the Contract Bidded Out) as the contract that should be kept in force and effect to govern the situation, inasmuch as it was never executed by the parties. What Piatco and the government executed was the Concession Agreement which is entirely different from the Draft Concession Agreement. Ultimately, though, it would be tantamount to an outrageous, grievous and unforgivable mutilation of public policy and an insult to ourselves if we opt to keep in place a contract - any contract - for to do so would assume that we agree to having Piatco continue as the concessionaire for Terminal III. Despite all the insidious contraventions of the Constitution, law and public policy Piatco perpetrated, keeping Piatco on as concessionaire and even rewarding it by allowing it to operate and profit from Terminal III - instead of imposing upon it the stiffest sanctions permissible under the laws - is unconscionable.

It is no exaggeration to say that Piatco may not really mind which contract we decide to keep in place. For all it may care, we can do just as well without one, if we only let it continue and operate the facility. After all, the real money will come not from building the Terminal, but from actually operating it for fifty or more years and charging whatever it feels like, without any competition at all. This scenario must not be allowed to happen. If the Piatco contracts are junked altogether as I think they should be, should not AEDC automatically be considered the winning bidder and therefore allowed to operate the facility? My answer is a stone-cold 'No'. AEDC never won the bidding, never signed any contract, and never built any facility. Why should it be allowed to automatically step in and benefit from the greed of another? Should government pay at all for reasonable expenses incurred in the construction of the Terminal? Indeed it should, otherwise it will be unjustly enriching itself at the expense of Piatco and, in particular, its funders, contractors and investors - both local and foreign. After all, there is no question that the State needs and will make use of Terminal III, it being part and parcel of the critical infrastructure and transportation-related programs of government. In Melchor v. Commission on Audit,97 this Court held that even if the contract therein was void, the principle of payment by quantum meruit was found applicable, and the contractor was allowed to recover the reasonable value of the thing or services rendered (regardless of any agreement as to the supposed value), in order to avoid unjust enrichment on the part of government. The principle of quantum meruit was likewise applied in Eslao v. Commission on Audit,98 because to deny payment for a building almost completed and already occupied would be to permit government to unjustly enrich itself at the expense of the contractor. The same principle was applied in Republic v. Court of Appeals.99 One possible practical solution would be for government - in view of the nullity of the Piatco contracts and of the fact that Terminal III has already been built and is almost finished - to bid out the operation of the facility under the same or analogous principles as build-operate-and-transfer projects. To be imposed, however, is the condition that the winning bidder must pay the builder of the facility a price fixed by government based on

quantum meruit; on the real, reasonable - not inflated - value of the built facility. How the payment or series of payments to the builder, funders, investors and contractors will be staggered and scheduled, will have to be built into the bids, along with the annual guaranteed payments to government. In this manner, this whole sordid mess could result in something truly beneficial for all, especially for the Filipino people. WHEREFORE, I vote to grant the Petitions and to declare the subject contracts NULL and VOID.

Dio vs. Japor, 463 SCRA 170 (2005)


Republic SUPREME Manila FIRST DIVISION [G.R. No. 154129. July 8, 2005] TERESITA DIO, Petitioner, vs.SPOUSES VIRGILIO and LUZ ROCES JAPOR and MARTA[1] JAPOR, Respondents. DECISION QUISUMBING, J.: For review on certiorari is the Decision,[2] dated February 22, 2002, of the Court of Appeals, in the consolidated cases CA-G.R. CV No. 51521 and CA-G.R. SP No. 40457. The decretal portion read: WHEREFORE, premises considered, in CA-G.R. CV No. 51521, the decision of the trial court is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Judgment is rendered as follows: 1. Declaring the Real Estate Mortgage to be valid; 2. Fixing the interest at 12% per annum and an additional 1% penalty charge per month such that plaintiffs-appellants' contractual obligation under the deed of real estate mortgage would amount to P1,252,674.00; 3. Directing defendant-appellee Dio to give the surplus of P2,247,326.00 to plaintiffs-appellants; and 4. Affirming the dissolution of the writ of preliminary injunction previously issued by the trial court. No pronouncement as to costs. The Petition in CA-G.R. SP No. 40457 is DENIED for being moot and academic. of the Philippines COURT

SO ORDERED.[3] Equally assailed in this petition is the Resolution,[4] dated July 2, 2002, of the appellate court, denying Teresita Dio's Motion for Partial Reconsideration of March 19, 2002 and the Spouses Japor and Marta Japor's Motion for Reconsideration dated March 20, 2002. The antecedent facts are as follows: Herein respondents Spouses Virgilio Japor and Luz Roces Japor were the owners of an 845.5 square-meter residential lot including its improvements, situated in Barangay Ibabang Mayao, Lucena City, as shown by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. T-39514. Adjacent to the Japor's lot is another lot owned by respondent Marta Japor, which consisted of 325.5 square meters and titled under TCT No. T-15018. On August 23, 1982, the respondents obtained a loan of P90,000 from the Quezon Development Bank (QDB), and as security therefor, they mortgaged the lots covered by TCT Nos. T-39514 and T-15018 to QDB, as evidenced by a Deed of Real Estate Mortgage duly executed by and between the respondents and QDB. On December 6, 1983, respondents and QDB amended the Deed of Real Estate Mortgage increasing respondents' loan to P128,000. The respondents failed to pay their aforesaid loans. However, before the bank could foreclose on the mortgage, respondents, thru their broker, one Lucia G. Orian, offered to mortgage their properties to petitioner Teresita Dio. Petitioner prepared a Deed of Real Estate Mortgage, whereby respondents mortgaged anew the two properties already mortgaged with QDB to secure the timely payment of a P350,000 loan that respondents had from petitioner Dio. The Deed of Real Estate Mortgage, though dated January 1989, was actually executed on February 13, 1989 and notarized on February 17, 1989. Under the terms of the deed, respondents agreed to pay the petitioner interest at the rate of five percent (5%) a month, within a period of two months or until April 14, 1989. In the event of default, an additional interest equivalent to five percent (5%) of the amount then due, for every month of delay, would be charged on them.

The respondents failed to settle their obligation to petitioner on April 14, 1989, the agreed deadline for settlement. On August 27, 1991, petitioner made written demands upon the respondents to pay their debt. Despite repeated demands, respondents did not pay, hence petitioner applied for extrajudicial foreclosure of the mortgage. The auction of the unredeemed properties was set for February 26, 1992. Meanwhile, on February 24, 1992, respondents filed an action for Fixing of Contractual Obligation with Prayer for Preliminary Mandatory Injunction/Restraining Order, docketed as Civil Case No. 92-26, with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Lucena City. Respondents prayed that 'judgment be rendered fixing the contractual obligations of plaintiffs with the defendant Dio plus legal or allowable interests thereon.[5] The trial court issued an Order enjoining the auction sale of the aforementioned mortgaged properties. On June 15, 1992, the Japors filed a Motion to Admit Amended Complaint with an attached copy of their Amended Complaint praying that the Deed of Real Estate Mortgage dated February 13, 1989 be declared null and void, but reiterating the plea that the trial court fix the contractual obligations of the Japors with Dio. The trial court denied the motion. On September 27, 1994, respondents filed with the appellate court, a petition for certiorari, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 35315, praying that the Court of Appeals direct the trial court to admit their Amended Complaint. The appellate court denied said petition.[6] On December 11, 1995, the trial court handed down the following judgment: WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing considerations, judgment is rendered: 1. Dismissing the complaint for failure of the plaintiffs to substantiate their affirmative allegations; 2. Declaring the Real Estate Mortgage (Exhs. 'A to 'A-13/Exhs. 3 to '3-D') to be valid and binding as between the parties, more particularly the plaintiffs

Virgilio Japor, Luz Japor and Marta Japor or the latter's substituted heir or heirs, as the case may be; 3. Dissolving the writ of preliminary injunction previously issued by this Court; and 4. To pay the cost of this suit. SO ORDERED.[7] On January 17, 1996, respondents filed their notice of appeal. On April 26, 1996, they also filed a Petition for Temporary Restraining Order And/Or Mandatory Injunction in Aid of Appellate Jurisdiction with the Court of Appeals. On May 8, 1996, petitioner Dio as the sole bidder in an auction purchased the properties for P3,500,000. On May 9, 1996, the Court of Appeals denied respondents' application for a temporary restraining order.[8] On October 9, 1996, the appellate court consolidated CA-G.R. CV No. 51521 and CA-G.R. SP No. 40457. As stated at the outset, the appellate court affirmed the decision of the trial court with respect to the validity of the Deed of Real Estate Mortgage, but modified the interest and penalty rates for being unconscionable and exorbitant. Before us, petitioner assigns the following errors allegedly committed by the appellate court: I THE ALLEGED INIQUITY OF THE STIPULATED INTEREST AND PENALTY WAS NOT RAISED BEFORE THE TRIAL COURT NOR ASSIGNED AS AN ERROR IN RESPONDENTS' APPEAL. II

THE STIPULATED INTEREST AND PENALTY ARE NOT 'EXCESSIVE, INIQUITOUS, UNCONSCIONABLE, EXORBITANT AND CONTRARY TO MORAL[S]. III PAYMENT OF THE 'SURPLUS' OF P2,247,326.00 TO RESPONDENTS WOULD RESULT IN THEIR UNJUST ENRICHMENT. IV RESPONDENTS' APPEAL SHOULD HAVE BEEN DISMISSED DUE TO FORUM SHOPPING.[9] Simply stated, the issue is: Did the Court of Appeals err when it held that the stipulations on interest and penalty in the Deed of Real Estate Mortgage is contrary to morals, if not illegal? Corollarily, were respondents entitled to any 'surplus' on the auction sale price? On the main issue, petitioner contends that The Usury Law[10] has been rendered ineffective by Central Bank Circular No. 905, series of 1982 and accordingly, usury has become legally non-existent in this jurisdiction, thus, interest rates may accordingly be pegged at such levels or rates as the lender and the borrower may agree upon. Petitioner avers she has not violated any law considering she is not engaged in the business of moneylending. Moreover, she claims she has suffered inconveniences and incurred expenses for some 13 years now as a result of respondents' failure to pay her. Petitioner further points out that the 5% interest rate was proposed by the respondents and have only themselves to blame if the interests and penalties ballooned to its present amount due to their willful delay and default in payment. The appellate court thus erred, petitioner now insists, in applying Sps. Almeda v. Court of Appeals[11] and Medel v. Court of Appeals[12] to reduce the interest rate to 12% per annum and the penalty to 1% per month. Respondents admit they owe petitioner P350,000 and do not question any lawful interest on their loan but they maintain that the Deed of Real Estate Mortgage is null and void since it did not state the true intent of the parties, which limited the 5% interest rate to only two (2) months from the date of the loan and which did not provide for penalties and other charges in the event

of default or delay. Respondents vehemently contend that they never consented to the said stipulations and hence, should not be bound by them. On the first issue, we are constrained to rule against the petitioner's contentions. Central Bank Circular No. 905, which took effect on January 1, 1983, effectively removed the ceiling on interest rates for both secured and unsecured loans, regardless of maturity. However, nothing in said Circular grants lenders carte blanche authority to impose interest rates which would result in the enslavement of their borrowers or to the hemorrhaging of their assets.[13] While a stipulated rate of interest may not technically and necessarily be usurious under Circular No. 905, usury now being legally non-existent in our jurisdiction,[14] nonetheless, said rate may be equitably reduced should the same be found to be iniquitous, unconscionable, and exorbitant, and hence, contrary to morals (contra bonos mores), if not against the law.[15] What is iniquitous, unconscionable, and exorbitant shall depend upon the factual circumstances of each case. In the instant case, the Court of Appeals found that the 5% interest rate per month and 5% penalty rate per month for every month of default or delay is in reality interest rate at 120% per annum. This Court has held that a stipulated interest rate of 5.5% per month or 66% per annum is void for being iniquitous or unconscionable.[16] We have likewise ruled that an interest rate of 6% per month or 72% per annum is outrageous and inordinate.[17] Conformably to these precedent cases, a combined interest and penalty rate at 10% per month or 120% per annum, should be deemed iniquitous, unconscionable, and inordinate. Hence, we sustain the appellate court when it found the interest and penalty rates in the Deed of Real Estate Mortgage in the present case excessive, hence legally impermissible. Reduction is legally called for now in rates of interest and penalty stated in the mortgage contract. What then should the interest and penalty rates be? The evidence shows that it was indeed the respondents who proposed the 5% interest rate per month for two (2) months. Having agreed to said rate, the parties are now estopped from claiming otherwise. For the succeeding period after the two months, however, the Court of Appeals correctly

reduced the interest rate to 12% per annum and the penalty rate to 1% per month, in accordance with Article 2227[18] of the Civil Code. But were respondents entitled to the 'surplus' of P2,247,326[19] as a result of the overpricing in the auction? We note that the 'surplus' was the result of the computation by the Court of Appeals of respondents' outstanding liability based on a reduced interest rate of 12% per annum and the reduced penalty rate of 1% per month. The court a quo then proceeded to apply our ruling in Sulit v. Court of Appeals,[20] to the effect that in case of surplus in the purchase price, the mortgagee is liable for such surplus as actually comes into his hands, but where he sells on credit instead of cash, he must still account for the proceeds as if the price were paid in cash, for such surplus stands in the place of the land itself with respect to liens thereon or vested rights therein particularly those of the mortgagor or his assigns. In the instant case, however, there is no 'surplus' to speak of. In adjusting the interest and penalty rates to equitable and conscionable levels, what the Court did was merely to reflect the true price of the land in the foreclosure sale. The amount of the petitioner's bid merely represented the true amount of the mortgage debt. No surplus in the purchase price was thus created to which the respondents as the mortgagors have a vested right. WHEREFORE, the Decision dated February 22, 2002, of the Court of Appeals in the consolidated cases CA-G.R. CV No. 51521 and CA-G.R. SP No. 40457 is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. The interest rate for the subject loan owing to QDB, or whoever is now the party mortgagee, is hereby fixed at five percent (5%) for the first two (2) months following the date of execution of the Deed of Real Estate Mortgage, and twelve percent (12%) for the succeeding period. The penalty rate thereafter shall be fixed at one percent (1%) per month. Petitioner Teresita Dio is declared free of any obligation to return to the respondents, the Spouses Virgilio Japor and Luz Roces Japor and Marta Japor, any surplus in the foreclosure sale price. There being no surplus, after the court below had applied our ruling in Sulit,[21] respondents could not legally claim any overprice from the petitioner, much less the amount of P2,247,326.00. SO ORDERED.

Consolidated Bank and Trust Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, 365 SCRA 671 (2001)
Republic SUPREME Baguio City FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. 114286 April 19, 2001 of the Philippines COURT

THE COSOLIDATED BANK AND TRUST CORPORATION (SOLIDBANK), petitioner vs. THE COURT OF APPEALS, CONTINENTAL CEMENT CORPORATION, GREGORY T. LIM and SPOUSE, respondents. YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: The instant petition for review seeks to partially set aside the July 26, 1993 Decision1 of respondent Court of Appeals in CA-GR. CV No. 29950, insofar as it orders petitioner to reimburse respondent Continental Cement Corporation the amount of P490, 228.90 with interest thereon at the legal rate from July 26, 1988 until fully paid. The petition also seeks to set aside the March 8, 1994 Resolution2 of respondent Court of Appeals denying its Motion for Reconsideration. The facts are as follows: On July 13, 1982, respondents Continental Cement Corporation (hereinafter, respondent Corporation) and Gregory T. Lim (hereinafter, respondent Lim) obtained from petitioner Consolidated Bank and Trust Corporation Letter of Credit No. DOM-23277 in the amount of P 1,068,150.00 On the same date, respondent Corporation paid a marginal deposit of P320,445.00 to petitioner. The letter of credit was used to purchase around five hundred thousand liters of bunker fuel oil from Petrophil Corporation, which the latter delivered directly to respondent Corporation in its Bulacan plant. In relation to the same transaction, a trust receipt for the amount of P 1,001,520.93 was executed by respondent Corporation, with respondent Lim as signatory.

Claiming that respondents failed to turn over the goods covered by the trust receipt or the proceeds thereof, petitioner filed a complaint for sum of money with application for preliminary attachment3 before the Regional Trial Court of Manila. In answer to the complaint, respondents averred that the transaction between them was a simple loan and not a trust receipt transaction, and that the amount claimed by petitioner did not take into account payments already made by them. Respondent Lim also denied any personal liability in the subject transactions. In a Supplemental Answer, respondents prayed for reimbursement of alleged overpayment to petitioner of the amount of P490,228.90. At the pre-trial conference, the parties agreed on the following issues: 1) Whether or not the transaction involved is a loan transaction or a trust receipt transaction; 2) Whether or not the interest rates charged against the defendants by the plaintiff are proper under the letter of credit, trust receipt and under existing rules or regulations of the Central Bank; 3) Whether or not the plaintiff properly applied the previous payment of P300,456.27 by the defendant corporation on July 13, 1982 as payment for the latters account; and 4) Whether or not the defendants are personally liable under the transaction sued for in this case.4 On September 17, 1990, the trial court rendered its Decision,5 dismissing the Complaint and ordering petitioner to pay respondents the following amounts under their counterclaim: P490,228.90 representing overpayment of respondent Corporation, with interest thereon at the legal rate from July 26, 1988 until fully paid; P10,000.00 as attorney's fees; and costs. Both parties appealed to the Court of Appeals, which partially modified the Decision by deleting the award of attorney's fees in favor of respondents and, instead, ordering respondent Corporation to pay petitioner P37,469.22 as and for attorney's fees and litigation expenses. Hence, the instant petition raising the following issues:

1. WHETHER OR NOT THE RESPONDENT APPELLATE COURT ACTED INCORRECTLY OR COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN HOLDING THAT THERE WAS OVERPAYMENT BY PRIVATE RESPONDENTS TO THE PETITIONER IN THE AMOUNT OF P490,228.90 DESPITE THE ABSENCE OF ANY COMPUTATION MADE IN THE DECISION AND THE ERRONEOUS APPLICATION OF PAYMENTS WHICH IS IN VIOLATION OF THE NEW CIVIL CODE. 2. WHETHER OR NOT THE MANNER OF COMPUTATION OF THE MARGINAL DEPOSIT BY THE RESPONDENT APPELLATE COURT IS IN ACCORDANCE WITH BANKING PRACTICE. 3. WHETHER OR NOT THE AGREEMENT AMONG THE PARTIES AS TO THE FLOATING OF INTEREST RATE IS VALID UNDER APPLICABLE JURISPRUDENCE AND THE RULES AND REGULATIONS OF THE CENTRAL BANK. 4. WHETHER OR NO THE RESPONDENT APPELLATE COUR GRIEVOUSLY ERRED IN NOT CONSIDERING THE TRANSACTION AT BAR AS A TRUST RECEIPT TRANSACTION ON THE BASIS OF THE JUDICIAL ADMISSIONS OF THE PRIVATE RESPONDENTS AND FOR WHICH RESPONDENTS ARE LIABLE THEREFOR. 5. WHETHER OR NOT THE RESPONDENT APPELLATE COURT GRIEVOUSLY ERRED IN NOT HOLDING PRIVATE RESPONDENT SPOUSES LIABLE UNDER THE TRUST RECEIPT TRANSACTION.6 The petition must be denied. On the first issue respecting the fact of overpayment found by both the lower court and respondent Court of Appeals, we stress the time-honored rule that findings of fact by the Court of Appeals especially if they affirm factual findings of the trial court will not be disturbed by this Court, unless these findings are not supported by evidence.7 Petitioner decries the lack of computation by the lower court as basis for its ruling that there was an overpayment made. While such a computation may not have appeared in the Decision itself, we note that the trial court's finding of overpayment is supported by evidence presented before it. At any rate,

we painstakingly reviewed and computed the payments together with the interest and penalty charges due thereon and found that the amount of overpayment made by respondent Bank to petitioner, i.e., P263,070.13, was more than what was ordered reimbursed by the lower court. However, since respondents did not file an appeal in this case, the amount ordered reimbursed by the lower court should stand. Moreover, petitioner's contention that the marginal deposit made by respondent Corporation should not be deducted outright from the amount of the letter of credit is untenable. Petitioner argues that the marginal deposit should be considered only after computing the principal plus accrued interest and other charges. However, to sustain petitioner on this score would be to countenance a clear case of unjust enrichment, for while a marginal deposit earns no interest in favour of the debtor-depositor, the bank is not only able to use the same for its own purposes, interest-free, but is also able to earn interest on the money loaned to respondent Corporation. Indeed, it would be onerous to compute interest and other charges on the face value of the letter of credit which the petitioner issued, without first crediting or setting off the marginal deposit which the respondent Corporation paid to it. Compensation is proper and should take effect by operation of law because the requisites in Article 1279 of the Civil Code are present and should extinguish both debts to the concurrent amount.8 Hence, the interests and other charges on the subject letter of credit should be computed only on the balance of P681,075.93, which was the portion actually loaned by the bank to respondent Corporation. Neither do we find error when the lower court and the Court of Appeals set aside as invalid the floating rate of interest exhorted by petitioner to be applicable. The pertinent provision in the trust receipt agreement of the parties fixing the interest rate states: I, WE jointly and severally agree to any increase or decrease in the interest rate which may occur after July 1, 1981, when the Central Bank floated the interest rate, and to pay additionally the penalty of 1% per month until the amount/s or instalments/s due and unpaid under the trust receipt on the reverse side hereof is/are fully paid.9 We agree with respondent Court of Appeals that the foregoing stipulation is invalid, there being no reference rate set either by it or by the Central Bank,

leaving the determination thereof at the sole will and control of petitioner. 1wphi1.nt While it may be acceptable, for practical reasons given the fluctuating economic conditions, for banks to stipulate that interest rates on a loan not be fixed and instead be made dependent upon prevailing market conditions, there should always be a reference rate upon which to peg such variable interest rates. An example of such a valid variable interest rate was found in Polotan, Sr. v. Court of Appeals. 10 In that case, the contractual provision stating that "if there occurs any change in the prevailing market rates, the new interest rate shall be the guiding rate in computing the interest due on the outstanding obligation without need of serving notice to the Cardholder other than the required posting on the monthly statement served to the Cardholder"11 was considered valid. The aforequoted provision was upheld notwithstanding that it may partake of the nature of an escalation clause, because at the same time it provides for the decrease in the interest rate in case the prevailing market rates dictate its reduction. In other words, unlike the stipulation subject of the instant case, the interest rate involved in the Polotan case is designed to be based on the prevailing market rate. On the other hand, a stipulation ostensibly signifying an agreement to "any increase or decrease in the interest rate," without more, cannot be accepted by this Court as valid for it leaves solely to the creditor the determination of what interest rate to charge against an outstanding loan. Petitioner has also failed to convince us that its transaction with respondent Corporation is really a trust receipt transaction instead of merely a simple loan, as found by the lower court and the Court of Appeals. The recent case of Colinares v. Court of Appeals 12 appears to be foursquare with the facts obtaining in the case at bar. There, we found that inasmuch as the debtor received the goods subject of the trust receipt before the trust receipt itself was entered into, the transaction in question was a simple loan and not a trust receipt agreement. Prior to the date of execution of the trust receipt, ownership over the goods was already transferred to the debtor. This situation is inconsistent with what normally obtains in a pure trust receipt transaction, wherein the goods belong in ownership to the bank and are only released to the importer in trust after the loan is granted.

In the case at bar, as in Colinares, the delivery to respondent Corporation of the goods subject of the trust receipt occurred long before the trust receipt itself was executed. More specifically, delivery of the bunker fuel oil to respondent Corporation's Bulacan plant commenced on July 7, 1982 and was completed by July 19, 1982.13 Further, the oil was used up by respondent Corporation in its normal operations by August, 1982.14 On the other hand, the subject trust receipt was only executed nearly two months after full delivery of the oil was made to respondent Corporation, or on September 2, 1982. The danger in characterizing a simple loan as a trust receipt transaction was explained in Colinares, to wit: The Trust Receipts Law does not seek to enforce payment of the loan, rather it punishes the dishonesty and abuse of confidence in the handling of money or goods to the prejudice of another regardless of whether the latter is the owner. Here, it is crystal clear that on the part of Petitioners there was neither dishonesty nor abuse of confidence in the handling of money to the prejudice of PBC. Petitioners continually endeavored to meet their obligations, as shown by several receipts issued by PBC acknowledging payment of the loan. The Information charges Petitioners with intent to defraud and misappropriating the money for their personal use. The mala prohibita nature of the alleged offense notwithstanding, intent as a state of mind was not proved to be present in Petitioners' situation. Petitioners employed no artifice in dealing with PBC and never did they evade payment of their obligation nor attempt to abscond. Instead, Petitioners sought favorable terms precisely to meet their obligation. Also noteworthy is the fact that Petitioners are not importers acquiring the goods for re-sale, contrary to the express provision embodied in the trust receipt. They are contractors who obtained the fungible goods for their construction project. At no time did title over the construction materials pass to the bank, but directly to the Petitioners from CM Builders Centre. This impresses upon the trust receipt in question vagueness and ambiguity, which should not be the basis for criminal prosecution in the event of violation of its provisions.

The practice of banks of making borrowers sign trust receipts to facilitate collection of loans and place them under the threats of criminal prosecution should they be unable to pay it may be unjust and inequitable if not reprehensible. Such agreements are contracts of adhesion which borrowers have no option but to sign lest their loan be disapproved. The resort to this scheme leaves poor and hapless borrowers at the mercy of banks, and is prone to misinterpretation, as had happened in this case. Eventually, PBC showed its true colors and admitted that it was only after collection of the money, as manifested by its Affidavit of Desistance. Similarly, respondent Corporation cannot be said to have been dishonest in its dealings with petitioner. Neither has it been shown that it has evaded payment of its obligations. Indeed, it continually endeavored to meet the same, as shown by the various receipts issued by petitioner acknowledging payment on the loan. Certainly, the payment of the sum of P1,832,158.38 on a loan with a principal amount of only P681,075.93 negates any badge of dishonesty , abuse of confidence or mishandling of funds on the part of respondent Corporation, which are the gravamen of a trust receipt violation. Furthermore, Respondent Corporation is not an importer, which acquired the bunker fuel oil for re-sale; it needed the oil for its own operations. More importantly, at no time did title over the oil pass to petitioner, but directly to respondent Corporation to which the oil was directly delivered long before the trust receipt was executed. The fact that ownership of the oil belonged to respondent Corporation, through its President, Gregory Lim, was acknowledged by petitioner's own account officer on the witness stand, to wit: Q -After the bank opened a letter of credit in favor of Petrophil Corp. for the account of the defendants thereby paying the value of the bunker fuel oil what transpired next after that? A -Upon purchase of the bunker fuel oil and upon the requests of the defendant possession of the bunker fuel oil were transferred to them. Q -You mentioned them to whom are you referring to? A -To the Continental Cement Corp. upon the execution of the trust receipt acknowledging the ownership of the bunker fuel oil this should be acceptable for whatever disposition he may make.

Q - You mentioned about acknowledging ownership of the bunker fuel oil to whom by whom? A - By the Continental Cement Corp. Q So by your statement who really owns the bunker fuel oil? A TTY. RACHON: Objection already answered, COURT: Give time to the other counsel to object. A TTY. RACHON : He has testified that ownership was acknowledged in favor of Continental Cement Corp. so that question has already been answered. A TTY. BANAGA: That is why I made a follow up question asking ownership of the bunker fuel oil. COURT: Proceed. A TTY .BANAGA: Q - Who owns the bunker fuel oil after purchase from Petrophil Corp. ? A - Gregory Lim.15 By all indications, then, it is apparent that there was really no trust receipt transaction that took place. Evidently, respondent Corporation was required to sign the trust receipt simply to facilitate collection by petitioner of the loan it had extended to the former. Finally, we are not convinced that respondent Gregory T. Lim and his spouse should be personally liable under the subject trust receipt.

Petitioner's argument that respondent Corporation and respondent Lim and his spouse are one and the same cannot be sustained. The transactions sued upon were clearly entered into by respondent Lim in his capacity as Executive Vice President of respondent Corporation. We stress the hornbook law that corporate personality is a shield against personal liability of its officers. Thus, we agree that respondents Gregory T. Lim and his spouse cannot be made personally liable since respondent Lim entered into and signed the contract clearly in his official capacity as Executive Vice President. The personality of the corporation is separate and distinct from the persons composing it.16 WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the instant Petition for Review is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated July 26, 1993 in CAG.R. CY No.29950 is AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED.

Macalinao vs. Bank of the Philippine Islands, G.R. No. 175490, September 17, 2009
Republic SUPREME Manila THIRD DIVISION G.R. No. 175490 September 17, 2009 Petitioner, of the Philippines COURT

ILEANA DR. MACALINAO, vs. BANK OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, Respondent. DECISION VELASCO, JR., J.: The Case

Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking to reverse and set aside the June 30, 2006 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) and its November 21, 2006 Resolution2 denying petitioners motion for reconsideration. The Facts Petitioner Ileana Macalinao was an approved cardholder of BPI Mastercard, one of the credit card facilities of respondent Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI).3 Petitioner Macalinao made some purchases through the use of the said credit card and defaulted in paying for said purchases. She subsequently received a letter dated January 5, 2004 from respondent BPI, demanding payment of the amount of one hundred forty-one thousand five hundred eighteen pesos and thirty-four centavos (PhP 141,518.34), as follows: Statement Date Previous Balance Purchases Penalty (Payments) Interest 559.72 Finance Balance Charges Due 3,061.99 98,456.41

10/27/2002 94,843.70

11/27/2002 98,465.41 12/31/2002 86,351.02 1/27/2003 2/27/2003 3/27/2003 4/27/2003 5/27/2003 6/29/2003 7/27/2003 8/27/2003 9/28/2003 10/28/2003 11/28/2003 12/28/2003 1/27/2004 141,518.34 119,752.28 124,234.58

(15,000) 30,308.80

0 259.05 618.23 990.93

2,885.61 86,351.02 2,806.41 119,752.28 3,891.07 124,234.58 4,037.62 129,263.13 3,616.05 115,177.90 3,743.28 119,565.44 3,571.71 113,540.10 3,607.32 118,833.49 3,862.09 123,375.65

129,263.13 (18,000.00) 298.72 115,177.90 644.26

119,565.44 (10,000.00) 402.95 113,540.10 118,833.49 123,375.65 128,435.56 8,362.50 (7,000.00) 323.57 608.07

1,050.20 4,009.71 128,435.56 1,435.51 4,174.16 134,045.23

8,491.10 4,599.34 154,608.78

Under the Terms and Conditions Governing the Issuance and Use of the BPI Credit and BPI Mastercard, the charges or balance thereof remaining unpaid after the payment due date indicated on the monthly Statement of Accounts shall bear interest at the rate of 3% per month and an additional penalty fee equivalent to another 3% per month. Particularly: 8. PAYMENT OF CHARGES BCC shall furnish the Cardholder a monthly Statement of Account (SOA) and the Cardholder agrees that all charges made through the use of the CARD shall be paid by the Cardholder as stated in the SOA on or before the last day for payment, which is twenty (20) days from the date of the said SOA, and such payment due date may be changed to an earlier date if the Cardholders account is considered overdue and/or with balances in excess of the approved credit limit, or to such other date as may be deemed proper by the CARD issuer with notice to the Cardholder on the same monthly SOA. If the last day fall on a

Saturday, Sunday or a holiday, the last day for the payment automatically becomes the last working day prior to said payment date. However, notwithstanding the absence or lack of proof of service of the SOA of the Cardholder, the latter shall pay any and all charges made through the use of the CARD within thirty (30) days from date or dates thereof. Failure of the Cardholder to pay the charges made through the CARD within the payment period as stated in the SOA or within thirty (30) days from actual date or dates of purchase whichever occur earlier, shall render him in default without the necessity of demand from BCC, which the Cardholder expressly waives. The charges or balance thereof remaining unpaid after the payment due date indicated on the monthly Statement of Accounts shall bear interest at the rate of 3% per month for BPI Express Credit, BPI Gold Mastercard and an additional penalty fee equivalent to another 3% of the amount due for every month or a fraction of a months delay. PROVIDED that if there occurs any change on the prevailing market rates, BCC shall have the option to adjust the rate of interest and/or penalty fee due on the outstanding obligation with prior notice to the cardholder. The Cardholder hereby authorizes BCC to correspondingly increase the rate of such interest [in] the event of changes in the prevailing market rates, and to charge additional service fees as may be deemed necessary in order to maintain its service to the Cardholder. A CARD with outstanding balance unpaid after thirty (30) days from original billing statement date shall automatically be suspended, and those with accounts unpaid after ninety (90) days from said original billing/statement date shall automatically be cancel (sic), without prejudice to BCCs right to suspend or cancel any card anytime and for whatever reason. In case of default in his obligation as provided herein, Cardholder shall surrender his/her card to BCC and in addition to the interest and penalty charges aforementioned , pay the following liquidated damages and/or fees (a) a collection fee of 25% of the amount due if the account is referred to a collection agency or attorney; (b) service fee for every dishonored check issued by the cardholder in payment of his account without prejudice, however, to BCCs right of considering Cardholders account, and (c) a final fee equivalent to 25% of the unpaid balance, exclusive of litigation expenses and judicial cost, if the payment of the account is enforced though court action. Venue of all civil suits to enforce this Agreement or any other suit directly or indirectly arising from the relationship between the parties as established herein, whether arising from crimes, negligence or breach thereof, shall be in the process of courts of the

City of Makati or in other courts at the option of BCC.4 (Emphasis supplied.)1avvphi1 For failure of petitioner Macalinao to settle her obligations, respondent BPI filed with the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of Makati City a complaint for a sum of money against her and her husband, Danilo SJ. Macalinao. This was raffled to Branch 66 of the MeTC and was docketed as Civil Case No. 84462 entitled Bank of the Philippine Islands vs. Spouses Ileana Dr. Macalinao and Danilo SJ. Macalinao.5 In said complaint, respondent BPI prayed for the payment of the amount of one hundred fifty-four thousand six hundred eight pesos and seventy-eight centavos (PhP 154,608.78) plus 3.25% finance charges and late payment charges equivalent to 6% of the amount due from February 29, 2004 and an amount equivalent to 25% of the total amount due as attorneys fees, and of the cost of suit.6 After the summons and a copy of the complaint were served upon petitioner Macalinao and her husband, they failed to file their Answer.7 Thus, respondent BPI moved that judgment be rendered in accordance with Section 6 of the Rule on Summary Procedure.8 This was granted in an Order dated June 16, 2004.9 Thereafter, respondent BPI submitted its documentary evidence.101avvphi1 In its Decision dated August 2, 2004, the MeTC ruled in favor of respondent BPI and ordered petitioner Macalinao and her husband to pay the amount of PhP 141,518.34 plus interest and penalty charges of 2% per month, to wit: WHEREFORE, finding merit in the allegations of the complaint supported by documentary evidence, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff, Bank of the Philippine Islands and against defendant-spouses Ileana DR Macalinao and Danilo SJ Macalinao by ordering the latter to pay the former jointly and severally the following: 1. The amount of PESOS: ONE HUNDRED FORTY ONE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED EIGHTEEN AND 34/100 (P141,518.34) plus interest and penalty charges of 2% per month from January 05, 2004 until fully paid; 2. P10,000.00 as and by way of attorneys fees; and

3. Cost of suit. SO ORDERED.11 Only petitioner Macalinao and her husband appealed to the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City, their recourse docketed as Civil Case No. 041153. In its Decision dated October 14, 2004, the RTC affirmed in toto the decision of the MeTC and held: In any event, the sum of P141,518.34 adjudged by the trial court appeared to be the result of a recomputation at the reduced rate of 2% per month. Note that the total amount sought by the plaintiff-appellee was P154,608.75 exclusive of finance charge of 3.25% per month and late payment charge of 6% per month. WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is hereby affirmed in toto. No pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED.12 Unconvinced, petitioner Macalinao filed a petition for review with the CA, which was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 92031. The CA affirmed with modification the Decision of the RTC: WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is AFFIRMED but MODIFIED with respect to the total amount due and interest rate. Accordingly, petitioners are jointly and severally ordered to pay respondent Bank of the Philippine Islands the following: 1. The amount of One Hundred Twenty Six Thousand Seven Hundred Six Pesos and Seventy Centavos plus interest and penalty charges of 3% per month from January 5, 2004 until fully paid; 2. P10,000.00 as and by way of attorneys fees; and 3. Cost of Suit. SO ORDERED.13

Although sued jointly with her husband, petitioner Macalinao was the only one who filed the petition before the CA since her husband already passed away on October 18, 2005.14 In its assailed decision, the CA held that the amount of PhP 141,518.34 (the amount sought to be satisfied in the demand letter of respondent BPI) is clearly not the result of the re-computation at the reduced interest rate as previous higher interest rates were already incorporated in the said amount. Thus, the said amount should not be made as basis in computing the total obligation of petitioner Macalinao. Further, the CA also emphasized that respondent BPI should not compound the interest in the instant case absent a stipulation to that effect. The CA also held, however, that the MeTC erred in modifying the amount of interest rate from 3% monthly to only 2% considering that petitioner Macalinao freely availed herself of the credit card facility offered by respondent BPI to the general public. It explained that contracts of adhesion are not invalid per se and are not entirely prohibited. Petitioner Macalinaos motion for reconsideration was denied by the CA in its Resolution dated November 21, 2006. Hence, petitioner Macalinao is now before this Court with the following assigned errors: I. THE REDUCTION OF INTEREST RATE, FROM 9.25% TO 2%, SHOULD BE UPHELD SINCE THE STIPULATED RATE OF INTEREST WAS UNCONSCIONABLE AND INIQUITOUS, AND THUS ILLEGAL. II. THE COURT OF APPEALS ARBITRARILY MODIFIED THE REDUCED RATE OF INTEREST FROM 2% TO 3%, CONTRARY TO THE TENOR OF ITS OWN DECISION. III. THE COURT A QUO, INSTEAD OF PROCEEDING WITH A RECOMPUTATION, SHOULD HAVE DISMISSED THE CASE FOR FAILURE OF RESPONDENT BPI TO PROVE THE CORRECT AMOUNT OF PETITIONERS OBLIGATION, OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE, REMANDED THE CASE TO THE LOWER COURT FOR RESPONDENT BPI TO PRESENT PROOF OF THE CORRECT AMOUNT THEREOF.

Our Ruling The petition is partly meritorious. The Interest Rate and Penalty Charge of 3% Per Month or 36% Per Annum Should Be Reduced to 2% Per Month or 24% Per Annum In its Complaint, respondent BPI originally imposed the interest and penalty charges at the rate of 9.25% per month or 111% per annum. This was declared as unconscionable by the lower courts for being clearly excessive, and was thus reduced to 2% per month or 24% per annum. On appeal, the CA modified the rate of interest and penalty charge and increased them to 3% per month or 36% per annum based on the Terms and Conditions Governing the Issuance and Use of the BPI Credit Card, which governs the transaction between petitioner Macalinao and respondent BPI. In the instant petition, Macalinao claims that the interest rate and penalty charge of 3% per month imposed by the CA is iniquitous as the same translates to 36% per annum or thrice the legal rate of interest.15 On the other hand, respondent BPI asserts that said interest rate and penalty charge are reasonable as the same are based on the Terms and Conditions Governing the Issuance and Use of the BPI Credit Card.16 We find for petitioner. We are of the opinion that the interest rate and penalty charge of 3% per month should be equitably reduced to 2% per month or 24% per annum. Indeed, in the Terms and Conditions Governing the Issuance and Use of the BPI Credit Card, there was a stipulation on the 3% interest rate. Nevertheless, it should be noted that this is not the first time that this Court has considered the interest rate of 36% per annum as excessive and unconscionable. We held in Chua vs. Timan:17 The stipulated interest rates of 7% and 5% per month imposed on respondents loans must be equitably reduced to 1% per month or 12% per annum. We need not unsettle the principle we had affirmed in a plethora of cases that stipulated interest rates of 3% per month and higher are excessive, iniquitous, unconscionable and exorbitant. Such stipulations are void for being contrary to morals, if not against the law. While C.B. Circular No. 905-82, which took effect on January 1, 1983, effectively removed the

ceiling on interest rates for both secured and unsecured loans, regardless of maturity, nothing in the said circular could possibly be read as granting carte blanche authority to lenders to raise interest rates to levels which would either enslave their borrowers or lead to a hemorrhaging of their assets. (Emphasis supplied.) Since the stipulation on the interest rate is void, it is as if there was no express contract thereon. Hence, courts may reduce the interest rate as reason and equity demand.18 The same is true with respect to the penalty charge. Notably, under the Terms and Conditions Governing the Issuance and Use of the BPI Credit Card, it was also stated therein that respondent BPI shall impose an additional penalty charge of 3% per month. Pertinently, Article 1229 of the Civil Code states: Art. 1229. The judge shall equitably reduce the penalty when the principal obligation has been partly or irregularly complied with by the debtor. Even if there has been no performance, the penalty may also be reduced by the courts if it is iniquitous or unconscionable. In exercising this power to determine what is iniquitous and unconscionable, courts must consider the circumstances of each case since what may be iniquitous and unconscionable in one may be totally just and equitable in another.19 In the instant case, the records would reveal that petitioner Macalinao made partial payments to respondent BPI, as indicated in her Billing Statements.20 Further, the stipulated penalty charge of 3% per month or 36% per annum, in addition to regular interests, is indeed iniquitous and unconscionable. Thus, under the circumstances, the Court finds it equitable to reduce the interest rate pegged by the CA at 1.5% monthly to 1% monthly and penalty charge fixed by the CA at 1.5% monthly to 1% monthly or a total of 2% per month or 24% per annum in line with the prevailing jurisprudence and in accordance with Art. 1229 of the Civil Code. There Is No Basis for the Dismissal of the Case, Much Less a Remand of the Same for Further Reception of Evidence

Petitioner Macalinao claims that the basis of the re-computation of the CA, that is, the amount of PhP 94,843.70 stated on the October 27, 2002 Statement of Account, was not the amount of the principal obligation. Thus, this allegedly necessitates a re-examination of the evidence presented by the parties. For this reason, petitioner Macalinao further contends that the dismissal of the case or its remand to the lower court would be a more appropriate disposition of the case. Such contention is untenable. Based on the records, the summons and a copy of the complaint were served upon petitioner Macalinao and her husband on May 4, 2004. Nevertheless, they failed to file their Answer despite such service. Thus, respondent BPI moved that judgment be rendered accordingly.21 Consequently, a decision was rendered by the MeTC on the basis of the evidence submitted by respondent BPI. This is in consonance with Sec. 6 of the Revised Rule on Summary Procedure, which states: Sec. 6. Effect of failure to answer. Should the defendant fail to answer the complaint within the period above provided, the court, motu proprio, or on motion of the plaintiff, shall render judgment as may be warranted by the facts alleged in the complaint and limited to what is prayed for therein: Provided, however, that the court may in its discretion reduce the amount of damages and attorneys fees claimed for being excessive or otherwise unconscionable. This is without prejudice to the applicability of Section 3(c), Rule 10 of the Rules of Court, if there are two or more defendants. (As amended by the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure; emphasis supplied.) Considering the foregoing rule, respondent BPI should not be made to suffer for petitioner Macalinaos failure to file an answer and concomitantly, to allow the latter to submit additional evidence by dismissing or remanding the case for further reception of evidence. Significantly, petitioner Macalinao herself admitted the existence of her obligation to respondent BPI, albeit with reservation as to the principal amount. Thus, a dismissal of the case would cause great injustice to respondent BPI. Similarly, a remand of the case for further reception of evidence would unduly prolong the proceedings of the instant case and render inutile the proceedings conducted before the lower courts. Significantly, the CA correctly used the beginning balance of PhP 94,843.70 as basis for the re-computation of the interest considering that this was the

first amount which appeared on the Statement of Account of petitioner Macalinao. There is no other amount on which the re-computation could be based, as can be gathered from the evidence on record. Furthermore, barring a showing that the factual findings complained of are totally devoid of support in the record or that they are so glaringly erroneous as to constitute serious abuse of discretion, such findings must stand, for this Court is not expected or required to examine or contrast the evidence submitted by the parties.22 In view of the ruling that only 1% monthly interest and 1% penalty charge can be applied to the beginning balance of PhP 94,843.70, this Court finds the following computation more appropriate: Purchase Stateme Previous s Balance nt Date Balance (Paymen ts) 10/27/20 94,843.7 02 0 11/27/20 94,843.7 (15,000) 02 0 Total Penalty Amount Interest Charge Due for (1%) (1%) the Month 948.44 798.44 96,740.5 8 81,440.5 8

94,843.7 948.44 0 79,843.7 798.44 0

12/31/20 79,843.7 30,308.8 110,152. 1,101.5 1,101.5 112,355. 02 0 0 50 3 3 56 1/27/200 110,152. 3 50 2/27/200 110,152. 3 50 3/27/200 110,152. (18,000. 3 50 00) 4/27/200 92,152.5 3 0 5/27/200 92,152.5 (10,000. 3 0 00) 110,152. 1,101.5 1,101.5 112,355. 50 3 3 56 110,152. 1,101.5 1,101.5 112,355. 50 3 3 56 92,152.5 921.53 0 92,152.5 921.53 0 82,152.5 821.53 0 921.53 921.53 821.53 93,995.5 6 93,995.5 6 83,795.5 6

8,362.50 6/29/200 82,152.5 83,515.0 (7,000.0 835.15 3 0 0 0) 7/27/200 83,515.0 3 0 8/27/200 83,515.0 3 0 9/28/200 83,515.0 3 0 10/28/20 83,515.0 03 0 11/28/20 83,515.0 03 0 12/28/20 83,515.0 03 0 1/27/200 83,515.0 4 0 TOTAL 83,515.0 835.15 0 83,515.0 835.15 0 83,515.0 835.15 0 83,515.0 835.15 0 83,515.0 835.15 0 83,515.0 835.15 0 83,515.0 835.15 0

835.15

85,185.3 0 85,185.3 0 85,185.3 0 85,185.3 0 85,185.3 0 85,185.3 0 85,185.3 0 85,185.3 0

835.15 835.15 835.15 835.15 835.15 835.15 835.15

83,515.0 14,397. 14,397. 112,309. 0 26 26 52

WHEREFORE, the petition is PARTLY GRANTED. The CA Decision dated June 30, 2006 in CA-G.R. SP No. 92031 is hereby MODIFIED with respect to the total amount due, interest rate, and penalty charge. Accordingly, petitioner Macalinao is ordered to pay respondent BPI the following: (1) The amount of one hundred twelve thousand three hundred nine pesos and fifty-two centavos (PhP 112,309.52) plus interest and penalty charges of 2% per month from January 5, 2004 until fully paid; (2) PhP 10,000 as and by way of attorneys fees; and (3) Cost of suit. SO ORDERED.

China Banking Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, 461 SCRA 162 (2005)
Republic SUPREME Manila FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. 153267 June 23, 2005 of the Philippines COURT

CHINA BANKING CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS and ARMED FORCES AND POLICE SAVINGS & LOAN ASSOCIATION, INC. (AFPSLAI), respondents. DECISION QUISUMBING, J.: For review is the D E C I S I O N1 dated November 23, 2001 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 65740, affirming the Orders2 dated August 25, 2000 and April 17, 2001, of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 216, which denied petitioners motion to dismiss the civil action for a sum of money filed by private respondent. Likewise impugned is the Resolution3 dated April 24, 2002 of the Court of Appeals denying petitioners motion for reconsideration of said decision. The antecedent facts, as summarized by the appellate court, are as follows: On September 24, 1996, private respondent Armed Forces and Police Savings and Loan Association, Inc. (AFPSLAI) filed a complaint for a sum of money against petitioner China Banking Corporation (CBC) with the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 216. In its Answer,4 the petitioner admitted being the registered owner of the Home Notes, the subject matter of the complaint. These are instruments of indebtedness issued in favor of a corporation named Fund Centrum Finance, Inc. (FCFI) and were sold, transferred and assigned to private respondent. Thus, the petitioner filed a Motion to Dismiss alleging that the

real party in interest was FCFI, which was not joined in the complaint, and that petitioner was a mere trustee of FCFI. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, which the court a quo again denied. Petitioner elevated the case to the Court of Appeals through a Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition. The appellate court denied the petition for lack of merit. The petitioner then brought the matter to this Court via a Petition for Certiorari, under Rule 65. We dismissed the petition for being an improper remedy. Petitioner filed another Motion to Dismiss, this time invoking prescription. The lower court denied said motion to dismiss for lack of merit. It held that it was not apparent in the complaint whether or not prescription had set in. Thus, the trial judge directed petitioner to present its evidence. However, petitioner instead filed a motion for reconsideration, which the trial court denied, ratiocinating thus: This Court finds that there are conflicting claims on the issue of whether or not the action has already prescribed. A full blown trial is in order to determine fully the rights of the contending parties.5 Undeterred, petitioner impugned, through a petition under Rule 65, the two orders of the trial court claiming before the appellate court that: RESPONDENT COURT GROSSLY ERRED OR GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OF JURISDICTION IN DENYING THE MOTION TO DISMISS AND DECLARING THAT PRESCRIPTION HAS NOT SET IN AGAINST PRIVATE RESPONDENT.6 In its assailed Decision, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition, ruling that: Since the defense of prescription under the facts obtaining did not rest on solid ground, the trial court took a more judicious move to direct the defendant therein, herein petitioner, to present its evidence. It is self-evident that with the evidence of both parties adduced, the trial court could proceed to decide on the merits of the case including prescription, and thus avoid collateral proceedings such as the one at bar that unduly prolong the final determination of the controversy. After all, prescription subsists as a valid issue in the decision process. The trial court wanted precisely a definite and

definitive-factual premise to determine whether or not the action has prescribed. Surely, such exercise of judgment is not grave abuse of discretion correctible by writ of certiorari. If ever he erred, it was error in judgment. Errors of judgment may be reviewed only by appeal.7 Undaunted, petitioner now comes to this Court raising a simple issue: WHETHER [OR] NOT THE DATE OF MATURITY OF THE INSTRUMENTS IS THE DATE OF ACCRUAL OF CAUSE OF ACTION.8 Petitioner insists that upon the face of the complaint, prescription has set in. It claims that the Home Notes annexed to the pleading bearing a uniform maturity date of December 2, 1983 indicate the date of accrual of the cause of action. Hence, argues petitioner, private respondents filing of the complaint for sum of money on September 24, 1996, is way beyond the prescriptive period of ten years under Article 11449 of the Civil Code. Citing Soriano v. Ubat,10 petitioner maintains the prescription period starts from the time when the creditor may file an action, not from the time he wishes to do so. However, private respondent counters that prescription is not apparent in the complaint because the maturity date of the Home Notes attached thereto is not the time of accrual of petitioners action. Relying on Elido, Sr. v. Court of Appeals,11 private respondent insists that the action accrued only on July 20, 1995, when demand to pay was made on petitioner. Private respondent also points out that since both the trial court and the appellate court found that prescription is not apparent on the face of the complaint, such factual finding should therefore be binding on this Court. We find the petition without merit. The Court of Appeals validly dismissed the petition, there being no grave abuse of discretion committed by the trial court in denying petitioners motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground of prescription. Well-settled is the rule that since a cause of action requires, as essential elements, not only a legal right of the plaintiff and a correlative duty of the defendant but also "an act or omission of the defendant in violation of said legal right," the cause of action does not accrue until the party obligated refuses, expressly or impliedly, to comply with its duty.12

Otherwise stated, a cause of action has three elements, to wit, (1) a right in favor of the plaintiff by whatever means and under whatever law it arises or is created; (2) an obligation on the part of the named defendant to respect or not to violate such right; and (3) an act or omission on the part of such defendant violative of the right of the plaintiff or constituting a breach of the obligation of the defendant to the plaintiff.13 It bears stressing that it is only when the last element occurs that a cause of action arises. Accordingly, a cause of action on a written contract accrues only when an actual breach or violation thereof occurs.14 Applying the foregoing principle to the instant case, we rule that private respondents cause of action accrued only on July 20, 1995, when its demand for payment of the Home Notes was refused by petitioner. It was only at that time, and not before that, when the written contract was breached and private respondent could properly file an action in court. The cause of action cannot be said to accrue on the uniform maturity date of the Home Notes as petitioner posits because at that point, the third essential element of a cause of action, namely, an act or omission on the part of petitioner violative of the right of private respondent or constituting a breach of the obligation of petitioner to private respondent, had not yet occurred. The subject Home Notes, in fact, specifically states that payment of the principal and interest due on the notes shall be made only upon presentation for notation and/or surrender for cancellation of the notes, thus: Payment of the principal amount and interest due on this Note shall be made by the Company at the principal office of the Trustee herein referred to or at such other office or agency that the Company may designate for the purpose, in such coin or currency of the Republic of the Philippines as at the time of payment shall be legal tender for payment of public and private debts, upon presentation for notation and/or surrender for cancellation of this Note. . . .15 (Emphasis supplied.) Thus, the maturity date of the Home Notes is not controlling as far as accrual of cause of action is concerned. What said date indicates is the time when the obligation matures, when payment on the Notes would commence, subject to presentation, notation and/or cancellation of those

Notes. The date for computing when prescription of the action for collection begins to set in is properly a function related to the date of actual demand by the holder of the Notes for payment by the obligor, herein petitioner bank. Since the demand was made only on July 20, 1995, while the civil action for collection of a sum of money was filed on September 24, 1996, within a period of not more than ten years, such action was not yet barred by prescription. WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The assailed Decision dated November 23, 2001, and the Resolution dated April 24, 2002, of the Court of Appeals are AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner. SO ORDERED.

Development Bank of the Philippines vs. Arcilla, Jr., 462 SCRA 599 (2005)
Republic SUPREME Manila SECOND DIVISION G.R. No. 161397 June 30, 2005 PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, of the Philippines COURT

DEVELOPMENT BANK OF THE vs. FELIPE P. ARCILLA, JR., Respondent. x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x G.R. No. 161426 June 30, 2005

FELIPE P. ARCILLA, JR., vs. DEVELOPMENT BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. DECISION CALLEJO, SR., J.:

Petitioner,

Atty. Felipe P. Arcilla, Jr. was employed by the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) in October 1981. About five or six months thereafter, he was assigned to the legal department, and thereafter, decided to avail of a loan under the Individual Housing Project (IHP) of the bank.1 On September 12, 1983, DBP and Arcilla executed a Deed of Conditional Sale2 over a parcel of land, as well as the house to be constructed thereon, for the price of P160,000.00. Arcilla borrowed the said amount from DBP for the purchase of the lot and the construction of a residential building thereon. He obliged himself to pay the loan in 25 years, with a monthly amortization of P1,417.91, with 9% interest per annum, to be deducted from his monthly salary.3 DBP obliged itself to transfer the title of the property upon the payment of the loan, including any increments thereof. It was also agreed therein that if

Arcilla availed of optional retirement, he could elect to continue paying the loan, provided that the loan/amount would be converted into a regular real estate loan account with the prevailing interest assigned on real estate loans, payable within the remaining term of the loan account.4 Arcilla was notified of the periodic release of his loan.5 During the period of July 1984 to December 31, 1986, the monthly amortizations for the said account were deducted from his monthly salary, for which he was issued receipts.6 The monthly amortization was increased to P1,468.92 in November 1984, and to P1,691.51 beginning January 1985. However, Arcilla opted to resign from the bank in December 1986. Conformably with the Deed of Conditional Sale, the bank informed him, on June 11, 1987, that the balance of his loan account with the bank had been converted to a regular housing loan, thus: Amount Remaining converted to PH Interest Rate Term Loan P 155,218.79 9% 1 6,802.45 - 2 24,342.91 - 3 9% 9% 22 yrs. mos< & 6 Monthly Amortization P1,342.72

21 yrs. & 10 59.41 mos. 22 yrs. 212.07

Plus: MRI at PC. 41/thousand P1,614.20 76.41 P186,364.15 Total P1,690.617 =========

On July 24, 1987, Arcilla signed three Promissory Notes8 for the total amount of P186,364.15. He was also obliged to pay service charge and interests, as follows: a.1 On the amount advanced or balance thereof that remains unpaid for 30 days* or less:

i. ii.

Interest on advances at 7% p.a. over DBP's borrowing cost: No 2% service charge

iii. No 8% penalty charge a.2 On the amount advanced or balance thereof that remains unpaid for more than 30 days: i. ii. Interest on the advance at 7% p.a. ] over DBP's borrowing cost; ] One time 2% service charge ] -- To be computed from ] the start of the 30-day period

iii. Interest on the service charge

iv. 8% penalty charge on the balances ] of the advances and service charge.9 Arcilla also agreed to pay to DBP the following:

*Insurance Premiums - 30-day period to be computed from date of advances Other Advances - 30-day period to be computed from date of notification b. Taxes 2% of the amount advanced

b.1 One time service charge b.2 Interest charge i. and

penalty Interest - 7% p.a. over borrowing cost Penalty charge 8% p.a. if unpaid after 30 days from date of advance

Interest of the advance at ] 7% p.a. over DBP's borrowing costs; ] ]-- To be computed from start of 30day period

ii. iii.

One time 2% service ] charge Interest on the service ]

charge iv. 8% penalty charge on ] the ] balances of the advance ] and service charge. *Insurance Premiums - 30-day period to be computed from date of advances. Other Advances - 30-day period to be computed from date of notification. b. Taxes 2% of the amount advanced

b.1 One time service charge

b.2 Interest and penalty charge Interest - 7% p.a. over borrowing cost Penalty charge 8% p.a. if unpaid after 30 days from date of advance However, Arcilla also agreed to the reservation by the DBP of its right to increase (with notice to him) the "rate of interest on the loan, as well as all other fees and charges on loans and advances pursuant to such policy as it may adopt from time to time during the period of the loan; Provided, that the rate of interest on the loan shall be reduced by law or by the Monetary Board; Provided, further, that the adjustment in the rate of interest shall take effect on or after the effectivity of the increase or decrease in the maximum rate of interest."10 Upon his request, DBP agreed to grant Arcilla an additional cash advance of P32,000.00. Thereafter, on May 23, 1984, a Supplement to the Conditional Sale Agreement was executed in which DBP and Arcilla agreed on the following terms of the loan: Amount Interest Rate Terms Per Annum Amortization P271.57

P32,000.00 Nine (9%) per 24 cent MRI for years

P32,000.00 at P0.40/1,000.00

12.80

P32,000.00 same to be (Est. consolidated Amort.) P 284.37 with the ========= original advance in accordance with Condition No. 8 hereof.11 The additional advance was, thus, consolidated to the outstanding balance of Arcilla's original advance, payable within the remaining term thereof at 9% per annum. However, he failed to pay his loan account, advances, penalty charges and interests which, as of October 31, 1990, amounted to P241,940.93.12 DBP rescinded the Deed of Conditional Sale by notarial act on November 27, 1990.13 Nevertheless, it wrote Arcilla, on January 3, 1992, giving him until October 24, 1992, within which to repurchase the property upon full payment of the current appraisal or updated total, whichever is lesser; in case of failure to do so, the property would be advertised for bidding.14 DBP reiterated the said offer on October 7, 1992.15 Arcilla failed to respond. Consequently, the property was advertised for sale at public bidding on February 14, 1994.16 Arcilla filed a complaint against DBP with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Antipolo, Rizal, on February 21, 1994. He alleged that DBP failed to furnish him with the disclosure statement required by Republic Act (R.A.) No. 3765 and Central Bank (CB) Circular No. 158 prior to the execution of the deed of conditional sale and the conversion of his loan account with the bank into a regular housing loan account. Despite this, DBP immediately deducted the account from his salary as early as 1984. Moreover, the bank applied its own formula and imposed its usurious interests, penalties and charges on his loan account and advances. He further alleged, thus: 13. That when plaintiff could no longer cope-up with defendant's illegal and usurious impositions, the DBP unilaterally increased further the rate of interest, without notice to the latter, and heaped-up usurious interests, penalties and charges;

--14. That to further bend the back of the plaintiff, defendant rescinded the subject deed of conditional sale on 4 December 1990 without giving due notice to plaintiff; 15. That much later, on 10 October 1993, plaintiff received a letter from defendant dated 19 September 1993, informing plaintiff that the subject deed of conditional sale was already rescinded on 4 December 1990 (xerox copy of the same is hereto attached and made an integral part hereof as Annex "C";17 In its answer to the complaint, the DBP alleged that it substantially complied with R.A. No. 3765 and CB Circular No. 158 because the details required in said statements were particularly disclosed in the promissory notes, deed of conditional sale and the required notices sent to Arcilla. In any event, its failure to comply strictly with R.A. No. 3765 did not affect the validity and enforceability of the subject contracts or transactions. DBP interposed a counterclaim for the possession of the property. On April 27, 2001, the trial court rendered judgment in favor of Arcilla and nullified the notarial rescission of the deeds executed by the parties. The fallo of the decision reads: WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant.1avvphil.zw+ Defendant is hereby directed to furnish the disclosure statement to the plaintiff within five (5) days upon receipt hereof in the manner and form provided by R.A. No. 3765 and submit to this Court for approval the total obligation of the plaintiff as of this date, within ten (10) days from receipt of this order. The Notarial Rescission (Exh. "16") dated November 27, 1990 is hereby declared null and void. Costs against the defendant. SO ORDERED.18 DBP appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals (CA) wherein it made the following assignment of errors: 4.1. The trial court erred in ruling that the provision of the details of the loan without the issuance of a "Disclosure Statement" is not compliance with the "Truth in Lending Act;"

4.2. The trial court erred in declaring the Notarial Rescission null and void; and 4.3. The trial court erred in denying DBP's counterclaims for recovery of possession, back rentals and litigation expenses.19 On May 29, 2003, the CA rendered judgment setting aside and reversing the decision of the RTC. In ordering the dismissal of the complaint, the appellate court ruled that DBP substantially complied with R.A. No. 3765 and CB Circular No. 158. Arcilla filed a motion for reconsideration of the decision. For its part, DBP filed a motion for partial reconsideration of the decision, praying that Arcilla be ordered to vacate the property. However, the appellate court denied both motions. The parties filed separate petitions for review on certiorari with this Court. The first petition, entitled Development Bank of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals, was docketed as G.R. No. 161397; the second petition, entitled Felipe Arcilla, Jr. v. Court of Appeals, was docketed as G.R. No. 161426. The Court resolved to consolidate the two cases. The issues raised in the two petitions are the following: a) whether or not petitioner DBP complied with the disclosure requirement of R.A. No. 3765 and CB Circular No. 158, Series of 1978, in the execution of the deed of conditional sale, the supplemental deed of conditional sale, as well as the promissory notes; and b) whether or not respondent Felipe Arcilla, Jr. is mandated to vacate the property and pay rentals for his occupation thereof after the notarial rescission of the deed of conditional sale was rescinded by notarial act, as well as the supplement executed by DBP. On the first issue, Arcilla avers that under R.A. No. 3765 and CB Circular No. 158, the DBP, as the creditor bank, was mandated to furnish him with the requisite information in such form prescribed by the Central Bank before the commutation of the loan transaction. He avers that the disclosure of the details of the loan contained in the deed of conditional sale and the supplement thereto, the promissory notes and release sheet, do not constitute substantial compliance with the law and the CB Circular. He avers that the required disclosure did not include the following: [T]he percentage of Finance Charges to Total Amount Financed (Computed in accordance with Sec. 2(i) of CB Circular 158; the Additional

Charges in case certain stipulations in the contract are not met by the debtor; Total Non-Finance Charges; Total Finance Charges, Effective Interest Rate, etc. 20 Arcilla further posits that the failure of DBP to comply with its obligation under R.A. No. 3765 and CB Circular No. 158 forecloses its right to rescind the transaction between them, and to demand compliance of his obligation arising from said transaction. Moreover, the bank had no right to deduct the monthly amortizations from his salary without first complying with the mandate of R.A. No. 3765. DBP, on the other hand, avers that all the information required by R.A. No. 3765 was already contained in the loan transaction documents. It posits that even if it failed to comply strictly with the disclosure requirement of R.A. No. 3765, nevertheless, under Section 6(b) of the law, the validity and enforceability of any action or transaction is not affected. It asserts that Arcilla was estopped from invoking R.A. No. 3765 because he failed to demand compliance with R.A. No. 3765 from the bank before the consummation of the loan transaction, until the time his complaint was filed with the trial court. In its petition in G.R. No. 161397, DBP asserts that the RTC erred in not rendering judgment on its counterclaim for the possession of the subject property, and the liability of Arcilla for rentals while in the possession of the property after the notarial rescission of the deeds of conditional sale. For his part, Arcilla (in G.R. No. 161426) insists that the respondent failed to comply with its obligation under R.A. No. 3765; hence, the notarial rescission of the deed of conditional sale and the supplement thereof was null and void. Until DBP complies with its obligation, he is not obliged to comply with his. The petition of Arcilla has no merit. Section 1 of R.A. No. 3765 provides that prior to the consummation of a loan transaction, the bank, as creditor, is obliged to furnish a client with a clear statement, in writing, setting forth, to the extent applicable and in accordance with the rules and regulations prescribed by the Monetary Board of the Central Bank of the Philippines, the following information: (1) the cash price or delivered price of the property or service to be acquired;

(2) the amounts, if any, to be credited as down payment and/or tradein; (3) the difference between the amounts set forth under clauses (1) and (2); (4) the charges, individually itemized, which are paid or to be paid by such person in connection with the transaction but which are not incident to the extension of credit; (5) the total amount to be financed; (6) the finance charges expressed in terms of pesos and centavos; and (7) the percentage that the finance charge bears to the total amount to be financed expressed as a simple annual rate on the outstanding unpaid balance of the obligation. Under Circular No. 158 of the Central Bank, the information required by R.A. No. 3765 shall be included in the contract covering the credit transaction or any other document to be acknowledged and signed by the debtor, thus: The contract covering the credit transaction, or any other document to be acknowledged and signed by the debtor, shall indicate the above seven items of information. In addition, the contract or document shall specify additional charges, if any, which will be collected in case certain stipulations in the contract are not met by the debtor. Furthermore, the contract or document shall specify additional charges, if any, which will be collected in case certain stipulations in the contract are not met by the debtor.21 If the borrower is not duly informed of the data required by the law prior to the consummation of the availment or drawdown, the lender will have no right to collect such charge or increases thereof, even if stipulated in the promissory note.22 However, such failure shall not affect the validity or enforceability of any contract or transaction.23 In the present case, DBP failed to disclose the requisite information in the disclosure statement form authorized by the Central Bank, but did so in the loan transaction documents between it and Arcilla. There is no evidence on

record that DBP sought to collect or collected any interest, penalty or other charges, from Arcilla other than those disclosed in the said deeds/documents. The Court is convinced that Arcilla's claim of not having been furnished the data/information required by R.A. No. 3765 and CB Circular No. 158 was but an afterthought. Despite the notarial rescission of the conditional sale in 1990, and DBP's subsequent repeated offers to repurchase the property, the latter maintained his silence. Arcilla filed his complaint only on February 21, 1994, or four years after the said notarial rescission. The Court finds and so holds that the following findings and ratiocinations of the CA are correct: After a careful perusal of the records, We find that the appellee had been sufficiently informed of the terms and the requisite charges necessarily included in the subject loan. It must be stressed that the Truth in Lending Act (R.A. No. 3765), was enacted primarily "to protect its citizens from a lack of awareness of the true cost of credit to the user by using a full disclosure of such cost with a view of preventing the uninformed use of credit to the detriment of the national economy" (Emata vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, 174, SCRA 464 [1989]; Sec. 2, R.A. No. 3765). Contrary to appellee's claim that he was not sufficiently informed of the details of the loan, the records disclose that the required informations were readily available in the three (3) promissory notes he executed. Precisely, the said promissory notes were executed to apprise appellee of the remaining balance on his loan when the same was converted into a regular housing loan. And on its face, the promissory notes signed by no less than the appellee readily shows all the data required by the Truth in Lending Act (R.A. No. 3765). Apropos, We agree with the appellant that appellee, a lawyer, would not be so gullible or negligent as to sign documents without knowing fully well the legal implications and consequences of his actions, and that appellee was a former employee of appellant. As such employee, he is as well presumed knowledgeable with matters relating to appellant's business and fully cognizant of the terms of the loan he applied for, including the charges that had to be paid. It might have been different if the borrower was, say, an ordinary employee eager to buy his first house and is easily lured into accepting onerous terms so long as the same is payable on installments. In such cases, the Court

would be disposed to be stricter in the application of the Truth in Lending Act, insisting that the borrower be fully informed of what he is entering into. But in the case at bar, considering appellee's education and training, We must hold, in the light of the evidence at hand, that he was duly informed of the necessary charges and fully understood their implications and effects. Consequently, the trial court's annulment of the rescission anchored on this ground was unjustified.24 Anent the prayer of DBP to order Arcilla to vacate the property and pay rentals therefor from 1990, a review of the records has shown that it failed to adduce evidence on the reasonable amount of rentals for Arcilla's occupancy of the property. Hence, the Court orders a remand of the case to the court of origin, for the parties to adduce their respective evidence on the bank's counterclaim. IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition in G.R. No. 161426 is DENIED for lack of merit. The petition in G.R. No. 161397 is PARTIALLY GRANTED. The case is hereby REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court of Antipolo, Rizal, Branch 73, for it to resolve the counterclaim of the Development Bank of the Philippines for possession of the property, and for the reasonable rentals for Felipe P. Arcilla, Jr.'s occupancy thereof after the notarial rescission of the Deed of Conditional Sale in 1990. Costs against petitioner Felipe P. Arcilla, Jr. SO ORDERED.

Ejercito vs. Sandiganbayan (Special Division), 509


Republic SUPREME Manila EN BANC G.R. Nos. 157294-95 November 30, 2006 Joseph Victor vs. Sandiganbayan (Special Respondents. DECISION CARPIO MORALES, J.: The present petition for certiorari under Rule 65 assails the Sandiganbayan Resolutions dated February 7 and 12, 2003 denying petitioner Joseph Victor G. Ejercitos Motions to Quash Subpoenas Duces Tecum/Ad Testificandum, and Resolution dated March 11, 2003 denying his Motion for Reconsideration of the first two resolutions. The three resolutions were issued in Criminal Case No. 26558, "People of the Philippines v. Joseph Ejercito Estrada, et al.," for plunder, defined and penalized in R.A. 7080, "AN ACT DEFINING AND PENALIZING THE CRIME OF PLUNDER." In above-stated case of People v. Estrada, et al., the Special Prosecution Panel 1 filed on January 20, 2003 before the Sandiganbayan a Request for Issuance of Subpoena Duces Tecum for the issuance of a subpoena directing the President of Export and Industry Bank (EIB, formerly Urban Bank) or his/her authorized representative to produce the following documents during the hearings scheduled on January 22 and 27, 2003: I. For Trust Account No. 858; 1. Account Opening Documents; G. Division) and Ejercito, People of the Petitioner, Philippines, of the Philippines COURT

2. Trading Order No. 020385 dated January 29, 1999; 3. Confirmation Advice TA 858; 4. Original/Microfilm copies, including the dorsal side, of the following: a. Bank of Commerce MC # 0256254 in the amount of P2,000,000.00; b. Urban bank Corp. MC # 34181 dated November 8, 1999 in the amount of P10,875,749.43; c. Urban Bank MC # 34182 dated November 8, 1999 in the amount of P42,716,554.22; d. Urban Bank Corp. MC # 37661 dated November 23, 1999 in the amount of P54,161,496.52; 5. Trust Agreement dated January 1999: Trustee: Joseph Victor C. Ejercito Nominee: URBAN BANK-TRUST DEPARTMENT Special Private Account No. (SPAN) 858; and 6. Ledger of the SPAN # 858. II. For Savings Account No. 0116-17345-9 SPAN No. 858 1. Signature Cards; and 2. Statement of Account/Ledger III. Urban Bank Managers Check and their corresponding Urban Bank Managers Check Application Forms, as follows: 1. MC # 039975 dated January 18, 2000 in the amount of P70,000,000.00; 2. MC # 039976 dated January 18, 2000 in the amount of P2,000,000.00; 3. MC # 039977 dated January 18, 2000 in the amount of P2,000,000.00;

4. MC # 039978 dated January 18, 2000 in the amount of P1,000,000.00; The Special Prosecution Panel also filed on January 20, 2003, a Request for Issuance of Subpoena Duces Tecum/Ad Testificandum directed to the authorized representative of Equitable-PCI Bank to produce statements of account pertaining to certain accounts in the name of "Jose Velarde" and to testify thereon. The Sandiganbayan granted both requests by Resolution of January 21, 2003 and subpoenas were accordingly issued. The Special Prosecution Panel filed still another Request for Issuance of Subpoena Duces Tecum/Ad Testificandum dated January 23, 2003 for the President of EIB or his/her authorized representative to produce the same documents subject of the Subpoena Duces Tecum dated January 21, 2003 and to testify thereon on the hearings scheduled on January 27 and 29, 2003 and subsequent dates until completion of the testimony. The request was likewise granted by the Sandiganbayan. A Subpoena Duces Tecum/Ad Testificandum was accordingly issued on January 24, 2003. Petitioner, claiming to have learned from the media that the Special Prosecution Panel had requested for the issuance of subpoenas for the examination of bank accounts belonging to him, attended the hearing of the case on January 27, 2003 and filed before the Sandiganbayan a letter of even date expressing his concerns as follows, quoted verbatim: Your Honors: It is with much respect that I write this court relative to the concern of subpoenaing the undersigneds bank account which I have learned through the media. I am sure the prosecution is aware of our banking secrecy laws everyone supposed to observe. But, instead of prosecuting those who may have breached such laws, it seems it is even going to use supposed evidence which I have reason to believe could only have been illegally obtained. The prosecution was not content with a general request. It even lists and identifies specific documents meaning someone else in the bank illegally released confidential information.

If this can be done to me, it can happen to anyone. Not that anything can still shock our family. Nor that I have anything to hide. Your Honors. But, I am not a lawyer and need time to consult one on a situation that affects every bank depositor in the country and should interest the bank itself, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and maybe the Ombudsman himself, who may want to investigate, not exploit, the serious breach that can only harm the economy, a consequence that may have been overlooked. There appears to have been deplorable connivance. xxxx I hope and pray, Your Honors, that I will be given time to retain the services of a lawyer to help me protect my rights and those of every banking depositor. But the one I have in mind is out of the country right now. May I, therefore, ask your Honors, that in the meantime, the issuance of the subpoena be held in abeyance for at least ten (10) days to enable me to take appropriate legal steps in connection with the prosecutions request for the issuance of subpoena concerning my accounts. (Emphasis supplied) From the present petition, it is gathered that the "accounts" referred to by petitioner in his above-quoted letter are Trust Account No. 858 and Savings Account No. 0116-17345-9. 2 In open court, the Special Division of the Sandiganbayan, through Associate Justice Edilberto Sandoval, advised petitioner that his remedy was to file a motion to quash, for which he was given up to 12:00 noon the following day, January 28, 2003. Petitioner, unassisted by counsel, thus filed on January 28, 2003 a Motion to Quash Subpoena Duces Tecum/Ad Testificandum praying that the subpoenas previously issued to the President of the EIB dated January 21 and January 24, 2003 be quashed. 3 In his Motion to Quash, petitioner claimed that his bank accounts are covered by R.A. No. 1405 (The Secrecy of Bank Deposits Law) and do not

fall under any of the exceptions stated therein. He further claimed that the specific identification of documents in the questioned subpoenas, including details on dates and amounts, could only have been made possible by an earlier illegal disclosure thereof by the EIB and the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC) in its capacity as receiver of the then Urban Bank. The disclosure being illegal, petitioner concluded, the prosecution in the case may not be allowed to make use of the information. Before the Motion to Quash was resolved by the Sandiganbayan, the prosecution filed another Request for the Issuance of Subpoena Duces Tecum/Ad Testificandum dated January 31, 2003, again to direct the President of the EIB to produce, on the hearings scheduled on February 3 and 5, 2003, the same documents subject of the January 21 and 24, 2003 subpoenas with the exception of the Bank of Commerce MC #0256254 in the amount of P2,000,000 as Bank of Commerce MC #0256256 in the amount of P200,000,000 was instead requested. Moreover, the request covered the following additional documents: IV. For Savings Account No. 1701-00646-1: 1. Account Opening Forms; 2. Specimen Signature Card/s; and 3. Statements of Account. The prosecution also filed a Request for the Issuance of Subpoena Duces Tecum/Ad Testificandum bearing the same date, January 31, 2003, directed to Aurora C. Baldoz, Vice President-CR-II of the PDIC for her to produce the following documents on the scheduled hearings on February 3 and 5, 2003: 1. Letter of authority dated November 23, 1999 re: SPAN [Special Private Account Number] 858; 2. Letter of authority dated January 29, 2000 re: SPAN 858; 3. Letter of authority dated April 24, 2000 re: SPAN 858;

4. Urban Bank check no. 052092 dated April 24, 2000 for the amount of P36, 572, 315.43; 5. Urban Bank check no. 052093 dated April 24, 2000 for the amount of P107,191,780.85; and 6. Signature Card Savings Account No. 0116-17345-9. (Underscoring supplied) The subpoenas prayed for in both requests were issued by the Sandiganbayan on January 31, 2003. On February 7, 2003, petitioner, this time assisted by counsel, filed an Urgent Motion to Quash Subpoenae Duces Tecum/Ad Testificandum praying that the subpoena dated January 31, 2003 directed to Aurora Baldoz be quashed for the same reasons which he cited in the Motion to Quash 4 he had earlier filed. On the same day, February 7, 2003, the Sandiganbayan issued a Resolution denying petitioners Motion to Quash Subpoenae Duces Tecum/Ad Testificandum dated January 28, 2003. Subsequently or on February 12, 2003, the Sandiganbayan issued a Resolution denying petitioners Urgent Motion to Quash Subpoena Duces Tecum/Ad Testificandum dated February 7, 2003. Petitioners Motion for Reconsideration dated February 24, 2003 seeking a reconsideration of the Resolutions of February 7 and 12, 2003 having been denied by Resolution of March 11, 2003, petitioner filed the present petition. Raised as issues are: 1. Whether petitioners Trust Account No. 858 is covered by the term "deposit" as used in R.A. 1405; 2. Whether petitioners Trust Account No. 858 and Savings Account No. 0116-17345-9 are excepted from the protection of R.A. 1405; and 3. Whether the "extremely-detailed" information contained in the Special Prosecution Panels requests for subpoena was obtained through a prior

illegal disclosure of petitioners bank accounts, in violation of the "fruit of the poisonous tree" doctrine. Respondent People posits that Trust Account No. 858 5 may be inquired into, not merely because it falls under the exceptions to the coverage of R.A. 1405, but because it is not even contemplated therein. For, to respondent People, the law applies only to "deposits" which strictly means the money delivered to the bank by which a creditor-debtor relationship is created between the depositor and the bank. The contention that trust accounts are not covered by the term "deposits," as used in R.A. 1405, by the mere fact that they do not entail a creditordebtor relationship between the trustor and the bank, does not lie. An examination of the law shows that the term "deposits" used therein is to be understood broadly and not limited only to accounts which give rise to a creditor-debtor relationship between the depositor and the bank. The policy behind the law is laid down in Section 1: SECTION 1. It is hereby declared to be the policy of the Government to give encouragement to the people to deposit their money in banking institutions and to discourage private hoarding so that the same may be properly utilized by banks in authorized loans to assist in the economic development of the country. (Underscoring supplied) If the money deposited under an account may be used by banks for authorized loans to third persons, then such account, regardless of whether it creates a creditor-debtor relationship between the depositor and the bank, falls under the category of accounts which the law precisely seeks to protect for the purpose of boosting the economic development of the country. Trust Account No. 858 is, without doubt, one such account. The Trust Agreement between petitioner and Urban Bank provides that the trust account covers "deposit, placement or investment of funds" by Urban Bank for and in behalf of petitioner. 6 The money deposited under Trust Account No. 858, was, therefore, intended not merely to remain with the bank but to be invested by it elsewhere. To hold that this type of account is not protected by R.A. 1405 would encourage private hoarding of funds that could otherwise be invested by banks in other ventures, contrary to the policy behind the law.

Section 2 of the same law in fact even more clearly shows that the term "deposits" was intended to be understood broadly: SECTION 2. All deposits of whatever nature with banks or banking institutions in the Philippines including investments in bonds issued by the Government of the Philippines, its political subdivisions and its instrumentalities, are hereby considered as of an absolutely confidential nature and may not be examined, inquired or looked into by any person, government official, bureau or office, except upon written permission of the depositor, or in cases of impeachment, or upon order of a competent court in cases of bribery or dereliction of duty of public officials, or in cases where the money deposited or invested is the subject matter of the litigation. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) The phrase "of whatever nature" proscribes any restrictive interpretation of "deposits." Moreover, it is clear from the immediately quoted provision that, generally, the law applies not only to money which is deposited but also to those which are invested. This further shows that the law was not intended to apply only to "deposits" in the strict sense of the word. Otherwise, there would have been no need to add the phrase "or invested." Clearly, therefore, R.A. 1405 is broad enough to cover Trust Account No. 858. The protection afforded by the law is, however, not absolute, there being recognized exceptions thereto, as above-quoted Section 2 provides. In the present case, two exceptions apply, to wit: (1) the examination of bank accounts is upon order of a competent court in cases of bribery or dereliction of duty of public officials, and (2) the money deposited or invested is the subject matter of the litigation. Petitioner contends that since plunder is neither bribery nor dereliction of duty, his accounts are not excepted from the protection of R.A. 1405. Philippine National Bank v. Gancayco 7 holds otherwise: Cases of unexplained wealth are similar to cases of bribery or dereliction of duty and no reason is seen why these two classes of cases cannot be excepted from the rule making bank deposits confidential. The policy as to one cannot be different from the policy as to the other. This policy expresses the notion that a public office is a public trust and any person

who enters upon its discharge does so with the full knowledge that his life, so far as relevant to his duty, is open to public scrutiny. Undoubtedly, cases for plunder involve unexplained wealth. Section 2 of R.A. No. 7080 states so. SECTION 2. Definition of the Crime of Plunder; Penalties. Any public officer who, by himself or in connivance with members of his family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business associates, subordinates or other persons, amasses, accumulates or acquires ill-gotten wealth through a combination or series of overt or criminal acts as described in Section 1(d) hereof, in the aggregate amount or total value of at least Seventy-five million pesos (P75,000,000.00), shall be guilty of the crime of plunder and shall be punished by life imprisonment with perpetual absolute disqualification from holding any public office. Any person who participated with said public officer in the commission of plunder shall likewise be punished. In the imposition of penalties, the degree of participation and the attendance of mitigating and extenuating circumstances shall be considered by the court. The court shall declare any and all ill-gotten wealth and their interests and other incomes and assets including the properties and shares of stock derived from the deposit or investment thereof forfeited in favor of the State. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) An examination of the "overt or criminal acts as described in Section 1(d)" of R.A. No. 7080 would make the similarity between plunder and bribery even more pronounced since bribery is essentially included among these criminal acts. Thus Section 1(d) states: d) "Ill-gotten wealth" means any asset, property, business enterprise or material possession of any person within the purview of Section Two (2) hereof, acquired by him directly or indirectly through dummies, nominees, agents, subordinates and or business associates by any combination or series of the following means or similar schemes. 1) Through misappropriation, conversion, misuse, or malversation of public funds or raids on the public treasury; 2) By receiving, directly or indirectly, any commission, gift, share, percentage, kickbacks or any other form of pecuniary benefit from any

person and/or entity in connection with any government contract or project or by reason of the office or position of the public officer concerned; 3) By the illegal or fraudulent conveyance or disposition of assets belonging to the National Government or any of its subdivisions, agencies or instrumentalities or government-owned or -controlled corporations and their subsidiaries; 4) By obtaining, receiving or accepting directly or indirectly any shares of stock, equity or any other form of interest or participation including promise of future employment in any business enterprise or undertaking; 5) By establishing agricultural, industrial or commercial monopolies or other combinations and/or implementation of decrees and orders intended to benefit particular persons or special interests; or 6) By taking undue advantage of official position, authority, relationship, connection or influence to unjustly enrich himself or themselves at the expense and to the damage and prejudice of the Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines. (Emphasis supplied) Indeed, all the above-enumerated overt acts are similar to bribery such that, in each case, it may be said that "no reason is seen why these two classes of cases cannot be excepted from the rule making bank deposits confidential." 8 The crime of bribery and the overt acts constitutive of plunder are crimes committed by public officers, and in either case the noble idea that "a public office is a public trust and any person who enters upon its discharge does so with the full knowledge that his life, so far as relevant to his duty, is open to public scrutiny" applies with equal force. Plunder being thus analogous to bribery, the exception to R.A. 1405 applicable in cases of bribery must also apply to cases of plunder. Respecting petitioners claim that the money in his bank accounts is not the "subject matter of the litigation," the meaning of the phrase "subject matter of the litigation" as used in R.A. 1405 is explained in Union Bank of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals, 9 thus:

Petitioner contends that the Court of Appeals confuses the "cause of action" with the "subject of the action". In Yusingco v. Ong Hing Lian, petitioner points out, this Court distinguished the two concepts. x x x "The cause of action is the legal wrong threatened or committed, while the object of the action is to prevent or redress the wrong by obtaining some legal relief; but the subject of the action is neither of these since it is not the wrong or the relief demanded, the subject of the action is the matter or thing with respect to which the controversy has arisen, concerning which the wrong has been done, and this ordinarily is the property or the contract and its subject matter, or the thing in dispute." The argument is well-taken. We note with approval the difference between the subject of the action from the cause of action. We also find petitioners definition of the phrase subject matter of the action is consistent with the term subject matter of the litigation, as the latter is used in the Bank Deposits Secrecy Act. In Mellon Bank, N.A. v. Magsino, where the petitioner bank inadvertently caused the transfer of the amount of US$1,000,000.00 instead of only US$1,000.00, the Court sanctioned the examination of the bank accounts where part of the money was subsequently caused to be deposited: x x x Section 2 of [Republic Act No. 1405] allows the disclosure of bank deposits in cases where the money deposited is the subject matter of the litigation. Inasmuch as Civil Case No. 26899 is aimed at recovering the amount converted by the Javiers for their own benefit, necessarily, an inquiry into the whereabouts of the illegally acquired amount extends to whatever is concealed by being held or recorded in the name of persons other than the one responsible for the illegal acquisition." Clearly, Mellon Bank involved a case where the money deposited was the subject matter of the litigation since the money deposited was the very thing in dispute. x x x" (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) The plunder case now pending with the Sandiganbayan necessarily involves an inquiry into the whereabouts of the amount purportedly acquired illegally by former President Joseph Estrada.

In light then of this Courts pronouncement in Union Bank, the subject matter of the litigation cannot be limited to bank accounts under the name of President Estrada alone, but must include those accounts to which the money purportedly acquired illegally or a portion thereof was alleged to have been transferred. Trust Account No. 858 and Savings Account No. 0116-17345-9 in the name of petitioner fall under this description and must thus be part of the subject matter of the litigation. In a further attempt to show that the subpoenas issued by the Sandiganbayan are invalid and may not be enforced, petitioner contends, as earlier stated, that the information found therein, given their "extremely detailed" character, could only have been obtained by the Special Prosecution Panel through an illegal disclosure by the bank officials concerned. Petitioner thus claims that, following the "fruit of the poisonous tree" doctrine, the subpoenas must be quashed. Petitioner further contends that even if, as claimed by respondent People, the "extremely-detailed" information was obtained by the Ombudsman from the bank officials concerned during a previous investigation of the charges against President Estrada, such inquiry into his bank accounts would itself be illegal. Petitioner relies on Marquez v. Desierto 10 where the Court held: We rule that before an in camera inspection may be allowed there must be a pending case before a court of competent jurisdiction. Further, the account must be clearly identified, the inspection limited to the subject matter of the pending case before the court of competent jurisdiction. The bank personnel and the account holder must be notified to be present during the inspection, and such inspection may cover only the account identified in the pending case. (Underscoring supplied) As no plunder case against then President Estrada had yet been filed before a court of competent jurisdiction at the time the Ombudsman conducted an investigation, petitioner concludes that the information about his bank accounts were acquired illegally, hence, it may not be lawfully used to facilitate a subsequent inquiry into the same bank accounts. Petitioners attempt to make the exclusionary rule applicable to the instant case fails. R.A. 1405, it bears noting, nowhere provides that an unlawful

examination of bank accounts shall render the evidence obtained therefrom inadmissible in evidence. Section 5 of R.A. 1405 only states that "[a]ny violation of this law will subject the offender upon conviction, to an imprisonment of not more than five years or a fine of not more than twenty thousand pesos or both, in the discretion of the court." The case of U.S. v. Frazin, [11] involving the Right to Financial Privacy Act of 1978 (RFPA) of the United States, is instructive. Because the statute, when properly construed, excludes a suppression remedy, it would not be appropriate for us to provide one in the exercise of our supervisory powers over the administration of justice. Where Congress has both established a right and provided exclusive remedies for its violation, we would "encroach upon the prerogatives" of Congress were we to authorize a remedy not provided for by statute. United States v. Chanen, 549 F.2d 1306, 1313 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 434 U.S. 825, 98 S.Ct. 72, 54 L.Ed.2d 83 (1977). The same principle was reiterated in U.S. v. Thompson: [12] x x x When Congress specifically designates a remedy for one of its acts, courts generally presume that it engaged in the necessary balancing of interests in determining what the appropriate penalty should be. See Michaelian, 803 F.2d at 1049 (citing cases); Frazin, 780 F.2d at 1466. Absent a specific reference to an exclusionary rule, it is not appropriate for the courts to read such a provision into the act. Even assuming arguendo, however, that the exclusionary rule applies in principle to cases involving R.A. 1405, the Court finds no reason to apply the same in this particular case. Clearly, the "fruit of the poisonous tree" doctrine [13] presupposes a violation of law. If there was no violation of R.A. 1405 in the instant case, then there would be no "poisonous tree" to begin with, and, thus, no reason to apply the doctrine. How the Ombudsman conducted his inquiry into the bank accounts of petitioner is recounted by respondent People of the Philippines, viz: x x x [A]s early as February 8, 2001, long before the issuance of the Marquez ruling, the Office of the Ombudsman, acting under the powers

granted to it by the Constitution and R.A. No. 6770, and acting on information obtained from various sources, including impeachment (of then Pres. Joseph Estrada) related reports, articles and investigative journals, issued a Subpoena Duces Tecum addressed to Urban Bank. (Attachment "1-b") It should be noted that the description of the documents sought to be produced at that time included that of numbered accounts 727, 737, 747, 757, 777 and 858 and included such names as Jose Velarde, Joseph E. Estrada, Laarni Enriquez, Guia Gomez, Joy Melendrez, Peachy Osorio, Rowena Lopez, Kevin or Kelvin Garcia. The subpoena did not single out account 858. xxxx Thus, on February 13, 2001, PDIC, as receiver of Urban Bank, issued a certification as to the availability of bank documents relating to A/C 858 and T/A 858 and the non-availability of bank records as to the other accounts named in the subpoena. (Attachments "2", "2-1" and "2-b) Based on the certification issued by PDIC, the Office of the Ombudsman on February 16, 2001 again issued a Subpoena Duces Tecum directed to Ms. Corazon dela Paz, as Interim Receiver, directing the production of documents pertinent to account A/C 858 and T/C 858. (Attachment "3") In compliance with the said subpoena dated February 16, 2001, Ms. Dela Paz, as interim receiver, furnished the Office of the Ombudsman certified copies of documents under cover latter dated February 21, 2001: 1. Transaction registers dated 7-02-99, 8-16-99, 9-17-99, 10-18-99, 11-2299, 1-07-00, 04-03-00 and 04-24-00; 2. Report of Unregularized TAFs & TDs for UR COIN A & B Placements of Various Branches as of February 29, 2000 and as of December 16, 1999; and 3. Trading Orders Nos. A No. 78102 and A No. 078125. Trading Order A No. 07125 is filed in two copies a white copy which showed "set up" information; and a yellow copy which showed "reversal" information. Both copies have been reproduced and are enclosed with this letter.

We are continuing our search for other records and documents pertinent to your request and we will forward to you on Friday, 23 February 2001, such additional records and documents as we might find until then. (Attachment "4") The Office of the Ombudsman then requested for the mangers checks, detailed in the Subpoena Duces Tecum dated March 7, 2001. (Attachment "5") PDIC again complied with the said Subpoena Duces Tecum dated March 7, 2001 and provided copies of the managers checks thus requested under cover letter dated March 16, 2001. (Attachment "6") [14] (Emphasis in the original) The Sandiganbayan credited the foregoing account of respondent People. [15] The Court finds no reason to disturb this finding of fact by the Sandiganbayan. The Marquez ruling notwithstanding, the above-described examination by the Ombudsman of petitioners bank accounts, conducted before a case was filed with a court of competent jurisdiction, was lawful. For the Ombudsman issued the subpoenas bearing on the bank accounts of petitioner about four months before Marquez was promulgated on June 27, 2001. While judicial interpretations of statutes, such as that made in Marquez with respect to R.A. No. 6770 or the Ombudsman Act of 1989, are deemed part of the statute as of the date it was originally passed, the rule is not absolute. Columbia Pictures, Inc. v. Court of Appeals [16] teaches: It is consequently clear that a judicial interpretation becomes a part of the law as of the date that law was originally passed, subject only to the qualification that when a doctrine of this Court is overruled and a different view is adopted, and more so when there is a reversal thereof, the new doctrine should be applied prospectively and should not apply to parties who relied on the old doctrine and acted in good faith. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

When this Court construed the Ombudsman Act of 1989, in light of the Secrecy of Bank Deposits Law in Marquez, that "before an in camera inspection may be allowed there must be a pending case before a court of competent jurisdiction", it was, in fact, reversing an earlier doctrine found in Banco Filipino Savings and Mortgage Bank v. Purisima [17]. Banco Filipino involved subpoenas duces tecum issued by the Office of the Ombudsman, then known as the Tanodbayan, [18] in the course of its preliminary investigation of a charge of violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. While the main issue in Banco Filipino was whether R.A. 1405 precluded the Tanodbayans issuance of subpoena duces tecum of bank records in the name of persons other than the one who was charged, this Court, citing P.D. 1630, [19] Section 10, the relevant part of which states: (d) He may issue a subpoena to compel any person to appear, give sworn testimony, or produce documentary or other evidence the Tanodbayan deems relevant to a matter under his inquiry, held that "The power of the Tanodbayan to issue subpoenae ad testificandum and subpoenae duces tecum at the time in question is not disputed, and at any rate does not admit of doubt." [20] As the subpoenas subject of Banco Filipino were issued during a preliminary investigation, in effect this Court upheld the power of the Tandobayan under P.D. 1630 to issue subpoenas duces tecum for bank documents prior to the filing of a case before a court of competent jurisdiction. Marquez, on the other hand, practically reversed this ruling in Banco Filipino despite the fact that the subpoena power of the Ombudsman under R.A. 6770 was essentially the same as that under P.D. 1630. Thus Section 15 of R.A. 6770 empowers the Office of the Ombudsman to (8) Administer oaths, issue subpoena and subpoena duces tecum, and take testimony in any investigation or inquiry, including the power to examine and have access to bank accounts and records; A comparison of this provision with its counterpart in Sec. 10(d) of P.D. 1630 clearly shows that it is only more explicit in stating that the power of

the Ombudsman includes the power to examine and have access to bank accounts and records which power was recognized with respect to the Tanodbayan through Banco Filipino. The Marquez ruling that there must be a pending case in order for the Ombudsman to validly inspect bank records in camera thus reversed a prevailing doctrine. [21] Hence, it may not be retroactively applied. The Ombudsmans inquiry into the subject bank accounts prior to the filing of any case before a court of competent jurisdiction was therefore valid at the time it was conducted. Likewise, the Marquez ruling that "the account holder must be notified to be present during the inspection" may not be applied retroactively to the inquiry of the Ombudsman subject of this case. This ruling is not a judicial interpretation either of R.A. 6770 or R.A. 1405, but a "judge-made" law which, as People v. Luvendino [22] instructs, can only be given prospective application: x x x The doctrine that an uncounselled waiver of the right to counsel is not to be given legal effect was initially a judge-made one and was first announced on 26 April 1983 in Morales v. Enrile and reiterated on 20 March 1985 in People v. Galit. x x x While the Morales-Galit doctrine eventually became part of Section 12(1) of the 1987 Constitution, that doctrine affords no comfort to appellant Luvendino for the requirements and restrictions outlined in Morales and Galit have no retroactive effect and do not reach waivers made prior to 26 April 1983 the date of promulgation of Morales. (Emphasis supplied) In fine, the subpoenas issued by the Ombudsman in this case were legal, hence, invocation of the "fruit of the poisonous tree" doctrine is misplaced. At all events, even if the challenged subpoenas are quashed, the Ombudsman is not barred from requiring the production of the same documents based solely on information obtained by it from sources independent of its previous inquiry. In particular, the Ombudsman, even before its inquiry, had already possessed information giving him grounds to believe that (1) there are bank accounts bearing the number "858," (2) that such accounts are in the

custody of Urban Bank, and (3) that the same are linked with the bank accounts of former President Joseph Estrada who was then under investigation for plunder. Only with such prior independent information could it have been possible for the Ombudsman to issue the February 8, 2001 subpoena duces tecum addressed to the President and/or Chief Executive Officer of Urban Bank, which described the documents subject thereof as follows: (a) bank records and all documents relative thereto pertaining to all bank accounts (Savings, Current, Time Deposit, Trust, Foreign Currency Deposits, etc) under the account names of Jose Velarde, Joseph E. Estrada, Laarni Enriquez, Guia Gomez, Joy Melendrez, Peach Osorio, Rowena Lopez, Kevin or Kelvin Garcia, 727, 737, 747, 757, 777 and 858. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) The information on the existence of Bank Accounts bearing number "858" was, according to respondent People of the Philippines, obtained from various sources including the proceedings during the impeachment of President Estrada, related reports, articles and investigative journals. [23] In the absence of proof to the contrary, this explanation proffered by respondent must be upheld. To presume that the information was obtained in violation of R.A. 1405 would infringe the presumption of regularity in the performance of official functions. Thus, with the filing of the plunder case against former President Estrada before the Sandiganbayan, the Ombudsman, using the above independent information, may now proceed to conduct the same investigation it earlier conducted, through which it can eventually obtain the same information previously disclosed to it by the PDIC, for it is an inescapable fact that the bank records of petitioner are no longer protected by R.A. 1405 for the reasons already explained above. Since conducting such an inquiry would, however, only result in the disclosure of the same documents to the Ombudsman, this Court, in avoidance of what would be a time-wasteful and circuitous way of administering justice, [24] upholds the challenged subpoenas. Respecting petitioners claim that the Sandiganbayan violated his right to due process as he was neither notified of the requests for the issuance of

the subpoenas nor of the grant thereof, suffice it to state that the defects were cured when petitioner ventilated his arguments against the issuance thereof through his earlier quoted letter addressed to the Sandiganbayan and when he filed his motions to quash before the Sandiganbayan. IN SUM, the Court finds that the Sandiganbayan did not commit grave abuse of discretion in issuing the challenged subpoenas for documents pertaining to petitioners Trust Account No. 858 and Savings Account No. 0116-17345-9 for the following reasons: 1. These accounts are no longer protected by the Secrecy of Bank Deposits Law, there being two exceptions to the said law applicable in this case, namely: (1) the examination of bank accounts is upon order of a competent court in cases of bribery or dereliction of duty of public officials, and (2) the money deposited or invested is the subject matter of the litigation. Exception (1) applies since the plunder case pending against former President Estrada is analogous to bribery or dereliction of duty, while exception (2) applies because the money deposited in petitioners bank accounts is said to form part of the subject matter of the same plunder case. 2. The "fruit of the poisonous tree" principle, which states that once the primary source (the "tree") is shown to have been unlawfully obtained, any secondary or derivative evidence (the "fruit") derived from it is also inadmissible, does not apply in this case. In the first place, R.A. 1405 does not provide for the application of this rule. Moreover, there is no basis for applying the same in this case since the primary source for the detailed information regarding petitioners bank accounts the investigation previously conducted by the Ombudsman was lawful. 3. At all events, even if the subpoenas issued by the Sandiganbayan were quashed, the Ombudsman may conduct on its own the same inquiry into the subject bank accounts that it earlier conducted last February-March 2001, there being a plunder case already pending against former President Estrada. To quash the challenged subpoenas would, therefore, be pointless since the Ombudsman may obtain the same documents by another route. Upholding the subpoenas avoids an unnecessary delay in the administration of justice. WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. The Sandiganbayan Resolutions dated February 7 and 12, 2003 and March 11, 2003 are upheld.

The Sandiganbayan is hereby directed, consistent with this Courts ruling in Marquez v. Desierto, to notify petitioner as to the date the subject bank documents shall be presented in court by the persons subpoenaed. SO ORDERED.

China Banking Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, 511 SCRA 110 (2006)
Republic SUPREME Manila FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. 140687 December 18, 2006 of the Philippines COURT

CHINA BANKING CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and JOSE "JOSEPH" GOTIANUY as substituted by ELIZABETH GOTIANUY LO, respondents.

DECISION

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: A Complaint for recovery of sums of money and annulment of sales of real properties and shares of stock docketed as CEB-21445 was filed by Jose "Joseph" Gotianuy against his son-in-law, George Dee, and his daughter, Mary Margaret Dee, before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cebu City, Branch 58. Jose Gotianuy accused his daughter Mary Margaret Dee of stealing, among his other properties, US dollar deposits with Citibank N.A. amounting to not less than P35,000,000.00 and US$864,000.00. Mary Margaret Dee received these amounts from Citibank N.A. through checks which she allegedly deposited at China Banking Corporation (China Bank). He likewise accused his son-in-law, George Dee, husband of his daughter, Mary Margaret, of transferring his real properties and shares of stock in George Dee's name without any consideration. Jose Gotianuy, died during the pendency of the case before the trial court.1 He was substituted by his daughter, Elizabeth Gotianuy Lo. The latter presented the US Dollar checks withdrawn by Mary

Margaret Dee from his US dollar placement with Citibank. The details of the said checks are: 1) CITIBANK CHECK NO. 69003194405412 dated September 29 1997 in the amount of US$5,937.52 payable to GOTIANUY: JOSE AND/OR DEE: MARY MARGARET; 2) CITIBANK CHECK NO. 69003194405296 dated September 29 1997 in the amount of US$7,197.59 payable to GOTIANUY: JOSE AND/OR DEE: MARY MARGARET; 3) CITIBANK CHECK NO. 69003194405414 dated September 29 1997 in the amount of US$1,198.94 payable to GOTIANUY: JOSE AND/OR DEE: MARY MARGARET; 4) CITIBANK CHECK NO. 69003194405413 dated September 29 1997 in the amount of US$989.04 payable to GOTIANUY: JOSE AND/OR DEE: MARY MARGARET; 5) CITIBANK CHECK NO. 69003194405297 dated October 01 1997 in the amount of US$766,011.97 payable to GOTIANUY: JOSE AND/OR DEE: MARY MARGARET; and 6) CITIBANK CHECK NO. 69003194405339 dated October 09 1997 in the amount of US$83,053.10 payable to GOTIANUY: JOSE AND/OR DEE: MARY MARGARET.2 Upon motion of Elizabeth Gotianuy Lo, the trial court3 issued a subpoena to Cristota Labios and Isabel Yap, employees of China Bank, to testify on the case. The Order of the trial court dated 23 February 1999, states: Issue a subpoena ad testificandum requiring MS. ISABEL YAP and CRISTOTA LABIOS of China Banking Corporation, Cebu Main Branch, corner Magallanes and D. Jakosalem Sts., Cebu City, to appear in person and to testify in the hearing of the above entitled case on March 1, 1999 at 8:30 in the morning, with regards to Citibank Checks (Exhs. "AAA" to "AAA-5") and other matters material and relevant to the issues of this case.4 China Bank moved for a reconsideration. Resolving the motion, the trial court issued an Order dated 16 April 1999 and held:

The Court is of the view that as the foreign currency fund (Exhs. "AAA" to "AAA-5") is deposited with the movant China Banking Corporation, Cebu Main Branch, Cebu City, the disclosure only as to the name or in whose name the said fund is deposited is not violative of the law. Justice will be better served if the name or names of the depositor of said fund shall be disclosed because such a disclosure is material and important to the issues between the parties in the case at bar. Premises considered, the motion for reconsideration is denied partly and granted partly, in the sense that Isabel Yap and/or Cristuta Labios are directed to appear before this Court and to testify at the trial of this case on April 20, 1999, May 6 & 7, 1999 at 10:00 o'clock in the morning and only for the purpose of disclosing in whose name or names is the foreign currency fund (Exhs. "AAA" to "AAA-5") deposited with the movant Bank and not to other matters material and relevant to the issues in the case at bar.5 From this Order, China Bank filed a Petition for Certiorari6 with the Court of Appeals. In a Decision7 dated 29 October 1999, the Court of Appeals denied the petition of China Bank and affirmed the Order of the RTC. In justifying its conclusion, the Court of Appeals ratiocinated: From the foregoing, it is pristinely clear the law specifically encompasses only the money or funds in foreign currency deposited in a bank. Thus, the coverage of the law extends only to the foreign currency deposit in the CBC account where Mary Margaret Dee deposited the Citibank checks in question and nothing more. It has to be pointed out that the April 16, 1999 Order of the court of origin modified its previous February 23, 1999 Order such that the CBC representatives are directed solely to divulge "in whose name or names is the foreign currency fund (Exhs. "AAA" to "AAA-5") deposited with the movant bank." It precluded inquiry on "other materials and relevant to the issues in the case at bar." We find that the directive of the court below does not contravene the plain language of RA 6426 as amended by P.D. No. 1246. The contention of petitioner that the [prescription] on absolute confidentiality under the law in question covers even the name of the

depositor and is beyond the compulsive process of the courts is palpably untenable as the law protects only the deposits itself but not the name of the depositor. To uphold the theory of petitioner CBC is reading into the statute "something that is not within the manifest intention of the legislature as gathered from the statute itself, for to depart from the meaning expressed by the words, is to alter the statute, to legislate and not to interpret, and judicial legislation should be avoided. Maledicta expositio quae corrumpit textum It is a dangerous construction which is against the words. Expressing the same principle is the maxim: Ubi lex non distinguit nec nos distinguere debemos, which simply means that where the law does not distinguish, we should not make any distinction." (Gonzaga, Statutes and their Construction, p. 75.)8 From the Decision of the Court of Appeals, China Bank elevated the case to this Court based on the following issues: I THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS HAS INTERPRETED THE PROVISION OF SECTION 8 OF R.A. 6426, AS AMENDED, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE FOREIGN CURRENCY DEPOSIT ACT, IN A MANNER CONTRARY TO THE LEGISLATIVE PURPOSE, THAT IS, TO PROVIDE ABSOLUTE CONFIDENTIALITY OF WHATEVER INFORMATION RELATIVE TO THE FOREIGN CURRENCY DEPOSIT. II PRIVATE RESPONDENT IS NOT THE OWNER OF THE QUESTIONED FOREIGN CURRENCY DEPOSIT. THUS, HE CANNOT INVOKE THE AID OF THE COURT IN COMPELLING THE DISCLOSURE OF SOMEONE ELSE'S FOREIGN CURRENCY DEPOSIT ON THE FLIMSY PRETEXT THAT THE CHECKS (IN FOREIGN CURRENCY) HE HAD ISSUED MAY HAVE ENDED UP THEREIN. III

PETITIONER CAN RIGHTLY INVOKE THE PROVISION OF SEC. 8, R.A. 6426, IN BEHALF OF THE FOREIGN CURRENCY DEPOSITOR, OWING TO ITS SOLEMN OBLIGATION TO ITS CLIENT TO EXERCISE EXTRAORDINARY DILIGENCE IN THE HANDLING OF THE ACCOUNT.9 As amended by Presidential Decree No. 1246, the law reads: SEC. 8. Secrecy of Foreign Currency Deposits. All foreign currency deposits authorized under this Act, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1035, as well as foreign currency deposits authorized under Presidential Decree No. 1034, are hereby declared as and considered of an absolutely confidential nature and, except upon the written permission of the depositor, in no instance shall such foreign currency deposits be examined, inquired or looked into by any person, government official, bureau or office whether judicial or administrative or legislative or any other entity whether public or private: Provided, however, that said foreign currency deposits shall be exempt from attachment, garnishment, or any other order or process of any court, legislative body, government agency or any administrative body whatsoever. (As amended by PD No. 1035, and further amended by PD No. 1246, prom. Nov. 21, 1977) (Emphasis supplied.) Under the above provision, the law provides that all foreign currency deposits authorized under Republic Act No. 6426, as amended by Sec. 8, Presidential Decree No. 1246, Presidential Decree No. 1035, as well as foreign currency deposits authorized under Presidential Decree No. 1034 are considered absolutely confidential in nature and may not be inquired into. There is only one exception to the secrecy of foreign currency deposits, that is, disclosure is allowed upon the written permission of the depositor. This much was pronounced in the case of Intengan v. Court of Appeals,10 where it was held that the only exception to the secrecy of foreign currency deposits is in the case of a written permission of the depositor. It must be remembered that under the whereas clause of Presidential Decree No. 1246 which amended Sec. 8 of Republic Act No. 6426, the Foreign Currency Deposit System including the Offshore Banking System under Presidential Decree 1034 were intended to draw deposits from foreign lenders and investors, and we quote:

Whereas, in order to assure the development and speedy growth of the Foreign Currency Deposit System and the Offshore Banking System in the Philippines, certain incentives were provided for under the two Systems such as confidentiality of deposits subject to certain exceptions and tax exemptions on the interest income of depositors who are nonresidents and are not engaged in trade or business in the Philippines; Whereas, making absolute the protective cloak of confidentiality over such foreign currency deposits, exempting such deposits from tax, and guaranteeing the vested rights of depositors would better encourage the inflow of foreign currency deposits into the banking institutions authorized to accept such deposits in the Philippines thereby placing such institutions more in a position to properly channel the same to loans and investments in the Philippines, thus directly contributing to the economic development of the country. As to the deposit in foreign currencies entitled to be protected under the confidentiality rule, Presidential Decree No. 1034,11 defines deposits to mean funds in foreign currencies which are accepted and held by an offshore banking unit in the regular course of business, with the obligation to return an equivalent amount to the owner thereof, with or without interest.12 It is in this light that the court in the case of Salvacion v. Central Bank of the Philippines,13 allowed the inquiry of the foreign currency deposit in question mainly due to the peculiar circumstances of the case such that a strict interpretation of the letter of the law would result to rank injustice. Therein, Greg Bartelli y Northcott, an American tourist, was charged with criminal cases for serious illegal detention and rape committed against then 12 yearold Karen Salvacion. A separate civil case for damages with preliminary attachment was filed against Greg Bartelli. The trial court issued an Order granting the Salvacions' application for the issuance of a writ of preliminary attachment. A notice of garnishment was then served on China Bank where Bartelli held a dollar account. China Bank refused, invoking the secrecy of bank deposits. The Supreme Court ruled: "In fine, the application of the law depends on the extent of its justice x x x It would be unthinkable, that the questioned law exempting foreign currency deposits from attachment, garnishment, or any other order or process of any court, legislative body, government agency or any administrative body whatsoever would be used

as a device by an accused x x x for wrongdoing, and in so doing, acquitting the guilty at the expense of the innocent.14 With the foregoing, we are now tasked to determine the single material issue of whether or not petitioner China Bank is correct in its submission that the Citibank dollar checks with both Jose Gotianuy and/or Mary Margaret Dee as payees, deposited with China Bank, may not be looked into under the law on secrecy of foreign currency deposits. As a corollary issue, sought to be resolved is whether Jose Gotianuy may be considered a depositor who is entitled to seek an inquiry over the said deposits. The Court of Appeals, in allowing the inquiry, considered Jose Gotianuy, a co-depositor of Mary Margaret Dee. It reasoned that since Jose Gotianuy is the named co-payee of the latter in the subject checks, which checks were deposited in China Bank, then, Jose Gotianuy is likewise a depositor thereof. On that basis, no written consent from Mary Margaret Dee is necessitated. We agree in the conclusion arrived at by the Court of Appeals. The following facts are established: (1) Jose Gotianuy and Mary Margaret Dee are co-payees of various Citibank checks;15 (2) Mary Margaret Dee withdrew these checks from Citibank;16 (3) Mary Margaret Dee admitted in her Answer to the Request for Admissions by the Adverse Party sent to her by Jose Gotianuy17 that she withdrew the funds from Citibank upon the instruction of her father Jose Gotianuy and that the funds belonged exclusively to the latter; (4) these checks were endorsed by Mary Margaret Dee at the dorsal portion; and (5) Jose Gotianuy discovered that these checks were deposited with China Bank as shown by the stamp of China Bank at the dorsal side of the checks. Thus, with this, there is no issue as to the source of the funds. Mary Margaret Dee declared the source to be Jose Gotianuy. There is likewise no dispute that these funds in the form of Citibank US dollar Checks are now deposited with China Bank. As the owner of the funds unlawfully taken and which are undisputably now deposited with China Bank, Jose Gotianuy has the right to inquire into the said deposits.

A depositor, in cases of bank deposits, is one who pays money into the bank in the usual course of business, to be placed to his credit and subject to his check or the beneficiary of the funds held by the bank as trustee.18 On this score, the observations of the Court of Appeals are worth reiterating: Furthermore, it is indubitable that the Citibank checks were drawn against the foreign currency account with Citibank, NA. The monies subject of said checks originally came from the late Jose Gotianuy, the owner of the account. Thus, he also has legal rights and interests in the CBC account where said monies were deposited. More importantly, the Citibank checks (Exhibits "AAA" to "AAA-5") readily demonstrate (sic) that the late Jose Gotianuy is one of the payees of said checks. Being a co-payee thereof, then he or his estate can be considered as a co-depositor of said checks. Ergo, since the late Jose Gotianuy is a co-depositor of the CBC account, then his request for the assailed subpoena is tantamount to an express permission of a depositor for the disclosure of the name of the account holder. The April 16, 1999 Order perforce must be sustained.19 (Emphasis supplied.) One more point. It must be remembered that in the complaint of Jose Gotianuy, he alleged that his US dollar deposits with Citibank were illegally taken from him. On the other hand, China Bank employee Cristuta Labios testified that Mary Margaret Dee came to China Bank and deposited the money of Jose Gotianuy in Citibank US dollar checks to the dollar account of her sister Adrienne Chu.20 This fortifies our conclusion that an inquiry into the said deposit at China Bank is justified. At the very least, Jose Gotianuy as the owner of these funds is entitled to a hearing on the whereabouts of these funds. All things considered and in view of the distinctive circumstances attendant to the present case, we are constrained to render a limited pro hac vice ruling.21 Clearly it was not the intent of the legislature when it enacted the law on secrecy on foreign currency deposits to perpetuate injustice. This Court is of the view that the allowance of the inquiry would be in accord with the rudiments of fair play,22 the upholding of fairness in our judicial system and would be an avoidance of delay and time-wasteful and circuitous way of administering justice.23

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 29 October 1999 affirming the Order of the RTC, Branch 58, Cebu City dated 16 April 1999 is AFFIRMED and this case is ordered REMANDED to the trial court for continuation of hearing with utmost dispatch consistent with the above disquisition. No costs. SO ORDERED.

Ana Rivera vs. People's Bank and Trust Company, 73 Phil. 546 (1942)
Republic SUPREME Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-47757 April 7, 1942 of the Philippines COURT

ANA RIVERA, plaintiff-appellant, vs. PEOPLES BANK AND TRUST CO., defendant-appellee. MINNIE STEPHENSON, in her capacity as administratix of the intestate estate of EDGAR Stephenson, intervenor-appellee. Cecilio I. Lim, Chief Public Defender, for appellant. Antonio M. Opisso for intervenor-appellee. No appearance for appellee Peoples Bank & Trust Co. OZAETA, J.: The question raised in this appeal is the validity of the survivorship agreement made by and between Edgar Stephenson, now deceased, and Ana Rivera, appellant herein, which read as follows: SURVIVORSHIP AGREEMENT Know All Men by These Presents: That we hereby agree with each other and with the PEOPLES BANK AND TRUST COMPANY, Manila, Philippine Islands (hereinafter called the Bank), that all moneys now or hereafter deposited by us or either of us with the Bank in our savings account shall be deposited in and received by the Bank with the understanding and upon the condition that said money be deposited without consideration of its previous ownership, and that said money and all interest thereon, if any there be, shall be the property of both of us joint tenants, and shall be payable to and collectible by either of us during our joint lives, and after

the death of one of us shall belong to and be the sole property of the survivor, and shall be payable to and collectible by such survivor. And we further covenant and agree with each other and the Bank, its successors or assigns, that the receipt or check of either of us during our joint lives, or the receipt or check of the survivor, for any payment made from this account, and shall be valid and sufficient and discharge to the Bank for such payment. The Bank is hereby authorized to accept and deposit to this account all checks made payable to either or both of us, when endorsed by either or both of us or one for the other. This is a joint and several agreement and is binding upon each of us, our heirs, executors, administrators, and assigns. In witness whereof we have signed our names here to this 17th day of October, 1931. (Sgd.) EDGAR STEPHENSON (Sgd.) Ana Rivera Address: 799 Sta. Mesa, Manila Witness: BOHLER Cox

(Sgd.) FRED (Sgd.) Y. S. A. #4146

W. E.

Ana Rivera was employed by Edgar Stephenson as housekeeper from the year 1920 until his death on June 8, 1939. On December 24, Stephenson opened an account in his name with the defendant Peoples Bank by depositing therein the sum of P1,000. On October 17, 1931, when there was a balance of P2,072 in said account, the survivorship agreement in question was executed and the said account was transferred to the name of "Edgar Stephenson and/or Ana Rivera." At the time of Stephenson's death Ana Rivera held the deposit book, and there was a balance in said account of P701. 43, which Ana Rivera claimed but which the bank refused to pay to her upon advice of its attorneys who gave the opinion that the survivorship agreement was of doubtful validity. Thereupon Ana Rivera instituted the present action against the bank, and Minnie Stephenson, administratix of

the estate of the deceased, intervened and claimed the amount for the estate, alleging that the money deposited in said account was and is the exclusive property of the deceased. The trial court held that the agreement in question, viewed from its effect during the lives of the parties, was a mere power of attorney authorizing Ana Rivera to withdraw the deposit, which power terminated upon the death of the principal, Edgar Stephenson; but that, viewed from its effect after the death of either of the parties, the agreement was a donation mortis causa with reference to the balance remaining at the death of one of them, which, not having been executed with the formalities of a testamentary disposition as required by article 620 of the Civil Code, was of no legal effect. The defendant bank did not appear in this Court. Counsel for the intervenorappellee in his brief contends that the survivorship agreement was a donation mortis causa from Stephenson to Ana Rivera of the bank account in question and that, since it was not executed with the formalities of a will, it can have no legal effect. We find no basis for the conclusion that the survivorship agreement was a mere power of attorney from Stephenson to Ana Rivera, or that it is a gift mortis causa of the bank account in question from him to her. Such conclusion is evidently predicated on the assumption that Stephenson was the exclusive owner of the funds deposited in the bank, which assumption was in turn based on the facts (1) that the account was originally opened in the name of Stephenson alone and (2) that Ana Rivera "served only as housemaid of the deceased." But it not infrequently happens that a person deposits money in the bank in the name of another; and in the instant case it also appears that Ana Rivera served her master for about nineteen years without actually receiving her salary from him. The fact that subsequently Stephenson transferred the account to the name of himself and/or Ana Rivera and executed with the latter the survivorship agreement in question although there was no relation of kinship between them but only that of master and servant, nullifies the assumption that Stephenson was the exclusive owner of the bank account. In the absence, then, of clear proof of the contrary, we must give full faith and credit to the certificate of deposit, which recites in effect that the funds in question belonged to Edgar Stephenson and Ana Rivera; that they were joint owners thereof; and that either of them could withdraw any part or the whole of said account during

the lifetime of both, and the balance, if any, upon the death of either, belonged to the survivor. Is the survivorship agreement valid? Prima facie, we think it is valid. It is an aleatory contract supported by law a lawful consideration the mutual agreement of the joint depositors permitting either of them to withdraw the whole deposit during their lifetime, and transferring the balance to the survivor upon the death of one of them. The trial court said that the Civil Code "contains no provisions sanctioning such an agreement" We think it is covered by article 1790 of the Civil Code, which provides as follows: ART. 1790. By an aleatory contract one of the parties binds himself, or both reciprocally bind themselves, to give or to do something as an equivalent for that which the other party is to give or do in case of the occurrence of an event which is uncertain or will happen at an indeterminate time. (See also article 1255.) The case of Macam vs. Gatmaitan (decided March 11, 1937), 36 Off. Gaz., 2175, is in point. Two friends Juana Gatmaitan and Leonarda Macam, who had lived together for some time, agreed in writing that the house of strong materials which they bought with the money belonging to Leonarda Macam and the Buick automobile and certain furniture which belonged to Juana Gatmaitan shall belong to the survivor upon the death of one of them and that "this agreement shall be equivalent to a transfer of the rights of the one who dies first and shall be kept by the survivor." After the death of Leonarda Macam, her executrix assailed that document on the ground that with respect to the house the same constituted a donation mortis causa by Leonarda Macam in favor of Juana Gatmaitan. In affirming the judgment of the trial court absolving the defendants from the complaint this Court, speaking through Chief Justice Avacea, said: This court is of the opinion that Exhibit C is an aleatory contract whereby, according to article 1790 of the civil Code, one of the parties or both reciprocally bind themselves to give or do something as an equivalent for that which the other party is to give or do in case of the occurrence of an event which is uncertain or will happen at an indeterminate time. As already stated, Leonarda was the owner of the house and Juana of the Buick automobile and most of the furniture. By

virtue of Exhibit C, Juana would become the owner of the house in case Leonarda died first, and Leonarda would become the owner of the automobile and the furniture if Juana were to die first. In this manner Leonarda and Juana reciprocally assigned their respective property to one another conditioned upon who might die first, the time of death determining the event upon which the acquisition of such right by the one or the other depended. This contract, as any other contract, is binding upon the parties thereto. Inasmuch as Leonarda had died before Juana, the latter thereupon acquired the ownership of the house, in the same manner as Leonarda would have acquired the ownership of the automobile of the furniture if Juana had died first. (36 Off. Gaz., 2176.) Furthermore, "it is well established that a bank account may be so created that two persons shall be joint owners thereof during their mutual lives, and the survivor take the whole on the death of the other. The right to make such joint deposits has generally been held not to be done with by statutes abolishing joint tenancy and survivorship generally as they existed at common law." (7 Am. Jur., 299.) But although the survivorship agreement is per se not contrary to law, its operation or effect may be violative of the law. For instance, if it be shown in a given case that such agreement is a mere cloak to hide an inofficious donation, to transfer property in fraud of creditors, or to defeat the legitime of a forced heir, it may be assailed and annulled upon such grounds. No such vice has been imputed and established against the agreement involved in the case. The agreement appealed from is reversed and another judgment will be entered in favor of the plaintiff ordering the defendant bank to pay to her the sum of P701.43, with legal interest thereon from the date of the complaint, and the costs in both instances. So ordered. Yulo, C.J., Moran, Paras, and Bocobo, JJ., concur.

Vitug vs. Court of Appeals, 183 SCRA 755 (1990)


Republic SUPREME Manila SECOND DIVISION G.R. No. 82027 March 29, 1990 ROMARICO G. VITUG, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and ROWENA FAUSTINOCORONA, respondents. Rufino B. Javier Law Office for petitioner. Quisumbing, Torres & Evangelista for private respondent. of the Philippines COURT

SARMIENTO, J.: This case is a chapter in an earlier suit decided by this Court 1 involving the probate of the two wills of the late Dolores Luchangco Vitug, who died in New York, U. S.A., on November 10, 1980, naming private respondent Rowena Faustino-Corona executrix. In our said decision, we upheld the appointment of Nenita Alonte as co-special administrator of Mrs. Vitug's estate with her (Mrs. Vitug's) widower, petitioner Romarico G. Vitug, pending probate. On January 13, 1985, Romarico G. Vitug filed a motion asking for authority from the probate court to sell certain shares of stock and real properties belonging to the estate to cover allegedly his advances to the estate in the sum of P667,731.66, plus interests, which he claimed were personal funds. As found by the Court of Appeals, 2 the alleged advances consisted of P58,147.40 spent for the payment of estate tax, P518,834.27 as deficiency estate tax, and P90,749.99 as "increment thereto." 3 According to Mr. Vitug, he withdrew the sums of P518,834.27 and P90,749.99 from savings account No. 35342-038 of the Bank of America, Makati, Metro Manila.

On April 12, 1985, Rowena Corona opposed the motion to sell on the ground that the same funds withdrawn from savings account No. 35342-038 were conjugal partnership properties and part of the estate, and hence, there was allegedly no ground for reimbursement. She also sought his ouster for failure to include the sums in question for inventory and for "concealment of funds belonging to the estate." 4 Vitug insists that the said funds are his exclusive property having acquired the same through a survivorship agreement executed with his late wife and the bank on June 19, 1970. The agreement provides: We hereby agree with each other and with the BANK OF AMERICAN NATIONAL TRUST AND SAVINGS ASSOCIATION (hereinafter referred to as the BANK), that all money now or hereafter deposited by us or any or either of us with the BANK in our joint savings current account shall be the property of all or both of us and shall be payable to and collectible or withdrawable by either or any of us during our lifetime, and after the death of either or any of us shall belong to and be the sole property of the survivor or survivors, and shall be payable to and collectible or withdrawable by such survivor or survivors. We further agree with each other and the BANK that the receipt or check of either, any or all of us during our lifetime, or the receipt or check of the survivor or survivors, for any payment or withdrawal made for our above-mentioned account shall be valid and sufficient release and discharge of the BANK for such payment or withdrawal. 5 The trial courts 6 upheld the validity of this agreement and granted "the motion to sell some of the estate of Dolores L. Vitug, the proceeds of which shall be used to pay the personal funds of Romarico Vitug in the total sum of P667,731.66 ... ." 7 On the other hand, the Court of Appeals, in the petition for certiorari filed by the herein private respondent, held that the above-quoted survivorship agreement constitutes a conveyance mortis causa which "did not comply with the formalities of a valid will as prescribed by Article 805 of the Civil Code," 8 and secondly, assuming that it is a mere donation inter vivos, it is a prohibited donation under the provisions of Article 133 of the Civil Code. 9

The dispositive portion of the decision of the Court of Appeals states: WHEREFORE, the order of respondent Judge dated November 26, 1985 (Annex II, petition) is hereby set aside insofar as it granted private respondent's motion to sell certain properties of the estate of Dolores L. Vitug for reimbursement of his alleged advances to the estate, but the same order is sustained in all other respects. In addition, respondent Judge is directed to include provisionally the deposits in Savings Account No. 35342038 with the Bank of America, Makati, in the inventory of actual properties possessed by the spouses at the time of the decedent's death. With costs against private respondent. 10 In his petition, Vitug, the surviving spouse, assails the appellate court's ruling on the strength of our decisions in Rivera v. People's Bank and Trust Co. 11 and Macam v. Gatmaitan 12 in which we sustained the validity of "survivorship agreements" and considering them as aleatory contracts. 13 The petition is meritorious. The conveyance in question is not, first of all, one of mortis causa, which should be embodied in a will. A will has been defined as "a personal, solemn, revocable and free act by which a capacitated person disposes of his property and rights and declares or complies with duties to take effect after his death." 14 In other words, the bequest or device must pertain to the testator. 15 In this case, the monies subject of savings account No. 35342038 were in the nature of conjugal funds In the case relied on, Rivera v. People's Bank and Trust Co., 16 we rejected claims that a survivorship agreement purports to deliver one party's separate properties in favor of the other, but simply, their joint holdings: xxx xxx xxx ... Such conclusion is evidently predicated on the assumption that Stephenson was the exclusive owner of the funds-deposited in the bank, which assumption was in turn based on the facts (1) that the account was originally opened in the name of Stephenson alone and (2) that Ana Rivera "served only as housemaid of the deceased." But it not infrequently happens that a person deposits money in the bank in the name of another; and in the instant case

it also appears that Ana Rivera served her master for about nineteen years without actually receiving her salary from him. The fact that subsequently Stephenson transferred the account to the name of himself and/or Ana Rivera and executed with the latter the survivorship agreement in question although there was no relation of kinship between them but only that of master and servant, nullifies the assumption that Stephenson was the exclusive owner of the bank account. In the absence, then, of clear proof to the contrary, we must give full faith and credit to the certificate of deposit which recites in effect that the funds in question belonged to Edgar Stephenson and Ana Rivera; that they were joint (and several) owners thereof; and that either of them could withdraw any part or the whole of said account during the lifetime of both, and the balance, if any, upon the death of either, belonged to the survivor. 17 xxx xxx xxx In Macam v. Gatmaitan, 18 it was held: xxx xxx xxx This Court is of the opinion that Exhibit C is an aleatory contract whereby, according to article 1790 of the Civil Code, one of the parties or both reciprocally bind themselves to give or do something as an equivalent for that which the other party is to give or do in case of the occurrence of an event which is uncertain or will happen at an indeterminate time. As already stated, Leonarda was the owner of the house and Juana of the Buick automobile and most of the furniture. By virtue of Exhibit C, Juana would become the owner of the house in case Leonarda died first, and Leonarda would become the owner of the automobile and the furniture if Juana were to die first. In this manner Leonarda and Juana reciprocally assigned their respective property to one another conditioned upon who might die first, the time of death determining the event upon which the acquisition of such right by the one or the other depended. This contract, as any other contract, is binding upon the parties thereto. Inasmuch as Leonarda had died before Juana, the latter thereupon acquired the ownership of the house, in the same

manner as Leonarda would have acquired the ownership of the automobile and of the furniture if Juana had died first. 19 xxx xxx xxx There is no showing that the funds exclusively belonged to one party, and hence it must be presumed to be conjugal, having been acquired during the existence of the marita. relations. 20 Neither is the survivorship agreement a donation inter vivos, for obvious reasons, because it was to take effect after the death of one party. Secondly, it is not a donation between the spouses because it involved no conveyance of a spouse's own properties to the other. It is also our opinion that the agreement involves no modification petition of the conjugal partnership, as held by the Court of Appeals, 21 by "mere stipulation" 22 and that it is no "cloak" 23 to circumvent the law on conjugal property relations. Certainly, the spouses are not prohibited by law to invest conjugal property, say, by way of a joint and several bank account, more commonly denominated in banking parlance as an "and/or" account. In the case at bar, when the spouses Vitug opened savings account No. 35342038, they merely put what rightfully belonged to them in a money-making venture. They did not dispose of it in favor of the other, which would have arguably been sanctionable as a prohibited donation. And since the funds were conjugal, it can not be said that one spouse could have pressured the other in placing his or her deposits in the money pool. The validity of the contract seems debatable by reason of its "survivor-takeall" feature, but in reality, that contract imposed a mere obligation with a term, the term being death. Such agreements are permitted by the Civil Code. 24 Under Article 2010 of the Code: ART. 2010. By an aleatory contract, one of the parties or both reciprocally bind themselves to give or to do something in consideration of what the other shall give or do upon the happening of an event which is uncertain, or which is to occur at an indeterminate time.

Under the aforequoted provision, the fulfillment of an aleatory contract depends on either the happening of an event which is (1) "uncertain," (2) "which is to occur at an indeterminate time." A survivorship agreement, the sale of a sweepstake ticket, a transaction stipulating on the value of currency, and insurance have been held to fall under the first category, while a contract for life annuity or pension under Article 2021, et sequentia, has been categorized under the second. 25 In either case, the element of risk is present. In the case at bar, the risk was the death of one party and survivorship of the other. However, as we have warned: xxx xxx xxx But although the survivorship agreement is per se not contrary to law its operation or effect may be violative of the law. For instance, if it be shown in a given case that such agreement is a mere cloak to hide an inofficious donation, to transfer property in fraud of creditors, or to defeat the legitime of a forced heir, it may be assailed and annulled upon such grounds. No such vice has been imputed and established against the agreement involved in this case. 26 xxx xxx xxx There is no demonstration here that the survivorship agreement had been executed for such unlawful purposes, or, as held by the respondent court, in order to frustrate our laws on wills, donations, and conjugal partnership. The conclusion is accordingly unavoidable that Mrs. Vitug having predeceased her husband, the latter has acquired upon her death a vested right over the amounts under savings account No. 35342-038 of the Bank of America. Insofar as the respondent court ordered their inclusion in the inventory of assets left by Mrs. Vitug, we hold that the court was in error. Being the separate property of petitioner, it forms no more part of the estate of the deceased. WHEREFORE, the decision of the respondent appellate court, dated June 29, 1987, and its resolution, dated February 9, 1988, are SET ASIDE. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

Feati Bank and Trust Company vs. Court of Appeals, 196 SCRA 576 (1990)
Republic SUPREME Manila THIRD DIVISION of the Philippines COURT

G.R. No. 94209 April 30, 1991 FEATI BANK & TRUST COMPANY (now CITYTRUST BANKING CORPORATION), petitioner, vs. THE COURT OF APPEALS, and BERNARDO E. VILLALUZ, respondents. Pelaez, Adriano & Gregorio for petitioner. Ezequiel S. Consulta for private respondent.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:p This is a petition for review seeking the reversal of the decision of the Court of Appeals dated June 29, 1990 which affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Rizal dated October 20, 1986 ordering the defendants Christiansen and the petitioner, to pay various sums to respondent Villaluz, jointly and severally. The facts of the case are as follows: On June 3, 1971, Bernardo E. Villaluz agreed to sell to the then defendant Axel Christiansen 2,000 cubic meters of lauan logs at $27.00 per cubic meter FOB. After inspecting the logs, Christiansen issued purchase order No. 76171.

On the arrangements made and upon the instructions of the consignee, Hanmi Trade Development, Ltd., de Santa Ana, California, the Security Pacific National Bank of Los Angeles, California issued Irrevocable Letter of Credit No. IC-46268 available at sight in favor of Villaluz for the sum of $54,000.00, the total purchase price of the lauan logs. The letter of credit was mailed to the Feati Bank and Trust Company (now Citytrust) with the instruction to the latter that it "forward the enclosed letter of credit to the beneficiary." (Records, Vol. I, p. 11) The letter of credit further provided that the draft to be drawn is on Security Pacific National Bank and that it be accompanied by the following documents: 1. Signed Commercial Invoice in four copies showing the number of the purchase order and certifying that a. All terms and conditions of the purchase order have been complied with and that all logs are fresh cut and quality equal to or better than that described in H.A. Christiansen's telex #201 of May 1, 1970, and that all logs have been marked "BEV-EX." b. One complete set of documents, including 1/3 original bills of lading was airmailed to Consignee and Parties to be advised by Hans-Axel Christiansen, Ship and Merchandise Broker. c. One set of non-negotiable documents was airmailed to Han Mi Trade Development Company and one set to Consignee and Parties to be advised by Hans-Axel Christiansen, Ship and Merchandise Broker. 2. Tally sheets in quadruplicate. 3. 2/3 Original Clean on Board Ocean Bills of Lading with Consignee and Parties to be advised by Hans Axel Christiansen, showing Freight Prepaid and marked Notify: Han Mi Trade Development Company, Ltd., Santa Ana, California.

Letter of Credit No. 46268 dated June 7, 1971 Han Mi Trade Development Company, Ltd., P.O. Box 10480, Santa Ana, California 92711 and Han Mi Trade Development Company, Ltd., Seoul, Korea. 4. Certification from Han-Axel Christiansen, Ship and Merchandise Broker, stating that logs have been approved prior to shipment in accordance with terms and conditions of corresponding purchase Order. (Record, Vol. 1 pp. 11-12) Also incorporated by reference in the letter of credit is the Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits (1962 Revision). The logs were thereafter loaded on the vessel "Zenlin Glory" which was chartered by Christiansen. Before its loading, the logs were inspected by custom inspectors Nelo Laurente, Alejandro Cabiao, Estanislao Edera from the Bureau of Customs (Records, Vol. I, p. 124) and representatives Rogelio Cantuba and Jesus Tadena of the Bureau of Forestry (Records, Vol. I, pp. 16-17) all of whom certified to the good condition and exportability of the logs. After the loading of the logs was completed, the Chief Mate, Shao Shu Wang issued a mate receipt of the cargo which stated the same are in good condition (Records, Vol. I, p. 363). However, Christiansen refused to issue the certification as required in paragraph 4 of the letter of credit, despite several requests made by the private respondent. Because of the absence of the certification by Christiansen, the Feati Bank and Trust Company refused to advance the payment on the letter of credit. The letter of credit lapsed on June 30, 1971, (extended, however up to July 31, 1971) without the private respondent receiving any certification from Christiansen. The persistent refusal of Christiansen to issue the certification prompted the private respondent to bring the matter before the Central Bank. In a memorandum dated August 16, 1971, the Central Bank ruled that: . . . pursuant to the Monetary Board Resolution No. 1230 dated August 3, 1971, in all log exports, the certification of the lumber

inspectors of the Bureau of Forestry . . . shall be considered final for purposes of negotiating documents. Any provision in any letter of credit covering log exports requiring certification of buyer's agent or representative that said logs have been approved for shipment as a condition precedent to negotiation of shipping documents shall not be allowed. (Records, Vol. I, p. 367) Meanwhile, the logs arrived at Inchon, Korea and were received by the consignee, Hanmi Trade Development Company, to whom Christiansen sold the logs for the amount of $37.50 per cubic meter, for a net profit of $10 per cubic meter. Hanmi Trade Development Company, on the other hand sold the logs to Taisung Lumber Company at Inchon, Korea. (Rollo, p. 39) Since the demands by the private respondent for Christiansen to execute the certification proved futile, Villaluz, on September 1, 1971, instituted an action for mandamus and specific performance against Christiansen and the Feati Bank and Trust Company (now Citytrust) before the then Court of First Instance of Rizal. The petitioner was impleaded as defendant before the lower court only to afford complete relief should the court a quo order Christiansen to execute the required certification. The complaint prayed for the following: 1. Christiansen be ordered to issue the certification required of him under the Letter of Credit; 2. Upon issuance of such certification, or, if the court should find it unnecessary, FEATI BANK be ordered to accept negotiation of the Letter of Credit and make payment thereon to Villaluz; 3. Order Christiansen to pay damages to the plaintiff. (Rollo, p. 39) On or about 1979, while the case was still pending trial, Christiansen left the Philippines without informing the Court and his counsel. Hence, Villaluz, filed an amended complaint to make the petitioner solidarily liable with Christiansen. The trial court, in its order dated August 29, 1979, admitted the amended complaint.

After trial, the lower court found: The liability of the defendant CHRISTIANSEN is beyond dispute, and the plaintiffs right to demand payment is absolute. Defendant CHRISTIANSEN having accepted delivery of the logs by having them loaded in his chartered vessel the "Zenlin Glory" and shipping them to the consignee, his buyer Han Mi Trade in Inchon, South Korea (Art. 1585, Civil Code), his obligation to pay the purchase order had clearly arisen and the plaintiff may sue and recover the price of the goods (Art. 1595, Id). The Court believes that the defendant CHRISTIANSEN acted in bad faith and deceit and with intent to defraud the plaintiff, reflected in and aggravated by, not only his refusal to issue the certification that would have enabled without question the plaintiff to negotiate the letter of credit, but his accusing the plaintiff in his answer of fraud, intimidation, violence and deceit. These accusations said defendant did not attempt to prove, as in fact he left the country without even notifying his own lawyer. It was to the Court's mind a pure swindle. The defendant Feati Bank and Trust Company, on the other hand, must be held liable together with his (sic) co-defendant for having, by its wrongful act, i.e., its refusal to negotiate the letter of credit in the absence of CHRISTIANSEN's certification (in spite of the Central Bank's ruling that the requirement was illegal), prevented payment to the plaintiff. The said letter of credit, as may be seen on its face, is irrevocable and the issuing bank, the Security Pacific National Bank in Los Angeles, California, undertook by its terms that the same shall be honored upon its presentment. On the other hand, the notifying bank, the defendant Feati Bank and Trust Company, by accepting the instructions from the issuing bank, itself assumed the very same undertaking as the issuing bank under the terms of the letter of credit. xxx xxx xxx The Court likewise agrees with the plaintiff that the defendant BANK may also be held liable under the principles and laws on both trust and estoppel. When the defendant BANK accepted its

role as the notifying and negotiating bank for and in behalf of the issuing bank, it in effect accepted a trust reposed on it, and became a trustee in relation to plaintiff as the beneficiary of the letter of credit. As trustee, it was then duty bound to protect the interests of the plaintiff under the terms of the letter of credit, and must be held liable for damages and loss resulting to the plaintiff from its failure to perform that obligation. Furthermore, when the defendant BANK assumed the role of a notifying and negotiating BANK it in effect represented to the plaintiff that, if the plaintiff complied with the terms and conditions of the letter of credit and presents the same to the BANK together with the documents mentioned therein the said BANK will pay the plaintiff the amount of the letter of credit. The Court is convinced that it was upon the strength of this letter of credit and this implied representation of the defendant BANK that the plaintiff delivered the logs to defendant CHRISTIANSEN, considering that the issuing bank is a foreign bank with whom plaintiff had no business connections and CHRISTIANSEN had not offered any other Security for the payment of the logs. Defendant BANK cannot now be allowed to deny its commitment and liability under the letter of credit: A holder of a promissory note given because of gambling who indorses the same to an innocent holder for value and who assures said party that the note has no legal defect, is in estoppel from asserting that there had been an illegal consideration for the note, and so, he has to pay its value. (Rodriguez v. Martinez, 5 Phil. 67). The defendant BANK, in insisting upon the certification of defendant CHRISTIANSEN as a condition precedent to negotiating the letter of credit, likewise in the Court's opinion acted in bad faith, not only because of the clear declaration of the Central Bank that such a requirement was illegal, but because the BANK, with all the legal counsel available to it must have known that the condition was void since it depended on the sole will of

the debtor, the defendant CHRISTIANSEN. (Art. 1182, Civil Code) (Rollo, pp. 29-31) On the basis of the foregoing the trial court on October 20, 1986, ruled in favor of the private respondent. The dispositive portion of its decision reads: WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered for the plaintiff, ordering the defendants to pay the plaintiff, jointly and severally, the following sums: a) $54,000.00 (US), or its peso equivalent at the prevailing rate as of the time payment is actually made, representing the purchase price of the logs; b) P17,340.00, representing government fees and charges paid by plaintiff in connection with the logs shipment in question; c) P10,000.00 as temperate damages (for trips made to Bacolod and Korea). All three foregoing sums shall be with interest thereon at 12% per annum from September 1, 1971, when the complaint was filed, until fully paid: d) P70,000.00 as moral damages; e) P30,000.00 as exemplary damages; and f) P30,000.00 as attorney's fees and litigation expense. (Rollo, p. 28) The petitioner received a copy of the decision on November 3, 1986. Two days thereafter, or on November 5, 1986, it filed a notice of appeal. On November 10, 1986, the private respondent filed a motion for the immediate execution of the judgment on the ground that the appeal of the petitioner was frivolous and dilatory. The trial court ordered the immediate execution of its judgment upon the private respondent's filing of a bond.

The petitioner then filed a motion for reconsideration and a motion to suspend the implementation of the writ of execution. Both motions were, however, denied. Thus, petitioner filed before the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction to enjoin the immediate execution of the judgment. The Court of Appeals in a decision dated April 9, 1987 granted the petition and nullified the order of execution, the dispositive portion of the decision states: WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is granted. Respondent Judge's order of execution dated December 29, 1986, as well as his order dated January 14, 1987 denying the petitioner's urgent motion to suspend the writ of execution against its properties are hereby annulled and set aside insofar as they are sought to be enforced and implemented against the petitioner Feati Bank & Trust Company, now Citytrust Banking Corporation, during the pendency of its appeal from the adverse decision in Civil Case No. 15121. However, the execution of the same decision against defendant Axel Christiansen did not appeal said decision may proceed unimpeded. The Sheriff s levy on the petitioner's properties, and the notice of sale dated January 13, 1987 (Annex M), are hereby annulled and set aside. Rollo p. 44) A motion for reconsideration was thereafter filed by the private respondent. The Court of Appeals, in a resolution dated June 29, 1987 denied the motion for reconsideration. In the meantime, the appeal filed by the petitioner before the Court of Appeals was given due course. In its decision dated June 29, 1990, the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the lower court dated October 20, 1986 and ruled that: 1. Feati Bank admitted in the "special and negative defenses" section of its answer that it was the bank to negotiate the letter of credit issued by the Security Pacific National Bank of Los Angeles, California. (Record, pp. 156, 157). Feati Bank did notify Villaluz of such letter of credit. In fact, as such negotiating bank, even before the letter of credit was presented for payment, Feati Bank had already made an advance payment of P75,000.00 to

Villaluz in anticipation of such presentment. As the negotiating bank, Feati Bank, by notifying Villaluz of the letter of credit in behalf of the issuing bank (Security Pacific), confirmed such letter of credit and made the same also its own obligation. This ruling finds support in the authority cited by Villaluz: A confirmed letter of credit is one in which the notifying bank gives its assurance also that the opening bank's obligation will be performed. In such a case, the notifying bank will not simply transmit but will confirm the opening bank's obligation by making it also its own undertaking, or commitment, or guaranty or obligation. (Ward & Hatfield, 28-29, cited in Agbayani, Commercial Laws, 1978 edition, p. 77). Feati Bank argues further that it would be considered as the negotiating bank only upon negotiation of the letter of credit. This stance is untenable. Assurance, commitments or guaranties supposed to be made by notifying banks to the beneficiary of a letter of credit, as defined above, can be relevant or meaningful only with respect to a future transaction, that is, negotiation. Hence, even before actual negotiation, the notifying bank, by the mere act of notifying the beneficiary of the letter of credit, assumes as of that moment the obligation of the issuing bank. 2. Since Feati Bank acted as guarantor of the issuing bank, and in effect also of the latter's principal or client, i.e. Hans AxelChristiansen. (sic) Such being the case, when Christiansen refused to issue the certification, it was as though refusal was made by Feati Bank itself. Feati Bank should have taken steps to secure the certification from Christiansen; and, if the latter should still refuse to comply, to hale him to court. In short, Feati Bank should have honored Villaluz's demand for payment of his logs by virtue of the irrevocable letter of credit issued in Villaluz's favor and guaranteed by Feati Bank. 3. The decision promulgated by this Court in CA-G.R. Sp No. 11051, which contained the statement "Since Villaluz" draft was not drawn strictly in compliance with the terms of the letter of credit, Feati Bank's refusal to negotiate it was justified," did not dispose of this question on the merits. In that case, the question

involved was jurisdiction or discretion, and not judgment. The quoted pronouncement should not be taken as a preemptive judgment on the merits of the present case on appeal. 4. The original action was for "Mandamus and/or specific performance." Feati Bank may not be a party to the transaction between Christiansen and Security Pacific National Bank on the one hand, and Villaluz on the other hand; still, being guarantor or agent of Christiansen and/or Security Pacific National Bank which had directly dealt with Villaluz, Feati Bank may be sued properly on specific performance as a procedural means by which the relief sought by Villaluz may be entertained. (Rollo, pp. 32-33) The dispositive portion of the decision of the Court of Appeals reads: WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is affirmed; and accordingly, the appeal is hereby dismissed. Costs against the petitioner. (Rollo, p. 33) Hence, this petition for review. The petitioner interposes the following reasons for the allowance of the petition. First Reason THE RESPONDENT COURT ERRONEOUSLY CONCLUDED FROM THE ESTABLISHED FACTS AND INDEED, WENT AGAINST THE EVIDENCE AND DECISION OF THIS HONORABLE COURT, THAT PETITIONER BANK IS LIABLE ON THE LETTER OF CREDIT DESPITE PRIVATE RESPONDENTS NON-COMPLIANCE WITH THE TERMS THEREOF, Second Reason THE RESPONDENT COURT COMMITTED AN ERROR OF LAW WHEN IT HELD THAT PETITIONER BANK, BY NOTIFYING PRIVATE RESPONDENT OF THE LETTER OF CREDIT, CONFIRMED SUCH CREDIT AND MADE THE SAME ALSO ITS OBLIGATION AS GUARANTOR OF THE ISSUING BANK.

Third Reason THE RESPONDENT COURT LIKEWISE COMMITTED AN ERROR OF LAW WHEN IT AFFIRMED THE TRIAL COURT'S DECISION. (Rollo, p. 12) The principal issue in this case is whether or not a correspondent bank is to be held liable under the letter of credit despite non-compliance by the beneficiary with the terms thereof? The petition is impressed with merit. It is a settled rule in commercial transactions involving letters of credit that the documents tendered must strictly conform to the terms of the letter of credit. The tender of documents by the beneficiary (seller) must include all documents required by the letter. A correspondent bank which departs from what has been stipulated under the letter of credit, as when it accepts a faulty tender, acts on its own risks and it may not thereafter be able to recover from the buyer or the issuing bank, as the case may be, the money thus paid to the beneficiary Thus the rule of strict compliance. In the United States, commercial transactions involving letters of credit are governed by the rule of strict compliance. In the Philippines, the same holds true. The same rule must also be followed. The case of Anglo-South America Trust Co. v. Uhe et al. (184 N.E. 741 [1933]) expounded clearly on the rule of strict compliance. We have heretofore held that these letters of credit are to be strictly complied with which documents, and shipping documents must be followed as stated in the letter. There is no discretion in the bank or trust company to waive any requirements. The terms of the letter constitutes an agreement between the purchaser and the bank. (p. 743) Although in some American decisions, banks are granted a little discretion to accept a faulty tender as when the other documents may be considered immaterial or superfluous, this theory could lead to dangerous precedents. Since a bank deals only with documents, it is not in a position to determine whether or not the documents required by the letter of credit are material or

superfluous. The mere fact that the document was specified therein readily means that the document is of vital importance to the buyer. Moreover, the incorporation of the Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credit (U.C.P. for short) in the letter of credit resulted in the applicability of the said rules in the governance of the relations between the parties. And even if the U.C.P. was not incorporated in the letter of credit, we have already ruled in the affirmative as to the applicability of the U.C.P. in cases before us. In Bank of P.I. v. De Nery (35 SCRA 256 [1970]), we pronounced that the observance of the U.C.P. in this jurisdiction is justified by Article 2 of the Code of Commerce. Article 2 of the Code of Commerce enunciates that in the absence of any particular provision in the Code of Commerce, commercial transactions shall be governed by the usages and customs generally observed. There being no specific provision which governs the legal complexities arising from transactions involving letters of credit not only between the banks themselves but also between banks and seller and/or buyer, the applicability of the U.C.P. is undeniable. The pertinent provisions of the U.C.P. (1962 Revision) are: Article 3. An irrevocable credit is a definite undertaking on the part of the issuing bank and constitutes the engagement of that bank to the beneficiary and bona fide holders of drafts drawn and/or documents presented thereunder, that the provisions for payment, acceptance or negotiation contained in the credit will be duly fulfilled, provided that all the terms and conditions of the credit are complied with. An irrevocable credit may be advised to a beneficiary through another bank (the advising bank) without engagement on the part of that bank, but when an issuing bank authorizes or requests another bank to confirm its irrevocable credit and the latter does

so, such confirmation constitutes a definite undertaking of the confirming bank. . . . Article 7. Banks must examine all documents with reasonable care to ascertain that they appear on their face to be in accordance with the terms and conditions of the credit," Article 8. Payment, acceptance or negotiation against documents which appear on their face to be in accordance with the terms and conditions of a credit by a bank authorized to do so, binds the party giving the authorization to take up documents and reimburse the bank which has effected the payment, acceptance or negotiation. (Emphasis Supplied) Under the foregoing provisions of the U.C.P., the bank may only negotiate, accept or pay, if the documents tendered to it are on their face in accordance with the terms and conditions of the documentary credit. And since a correspondent bank, like the petitioner, principally deals only with documents, the absence of any document required in the documentary credit justifies the refusal by the correspondent bank to negotiate, accept or pay the beneficiary, as it is not its obligation to look beyond the documents. It merely has to rely on the completeness of the documents tendered by the beneficiary. In regard to the ruling of the lower court and affirmed by the Court of Appeals that the petitioner is not a notifying bank but a confirming bank, we find the same erroneous. The trial court wrongly mixed up the meaning of an irrevocable credit with that of a confirmed credit. In its decision, the trial court ruled that the petitioner, in accepting the obligation to notify the respondent that the irrevocable credit has been transmitted to the petitioner on behalf of the private respondent, has confirmed the letter. The trial court appears to have overlooked the fact that an irrevocable credit is not synonymous with a confirmed credit. These types of letters have different meanings and the legal relations arising from there varies. A credit

may be an irrevocable credit and at the same time a confirmed credit or vice-versa. An irrevocable credit refers to the duration of the letter of credit. What is simply means is that the issuing bank may not without the consent of the beneficiary (seller) and the applicant (buyer) revoke his undertaking under the letter. The issuing bank does not reserve the right to revoke the credit. On the other hand, a confirmed letter of credit pertains to the kind of obligation assumed by the correspondent bank. In this case, the correspondent bank gives an absolute assurance to the beneficiary that it will undertake the issuing bank's obligation as its own according to the terms and conditions of the credit. (Agbayani, Commercial Laws of the Philippines, Vol. 1, pp. 81-83) Hence, the mere fact that a letter of credit is irrevocable does not necessarily imply that the correspondent bank in accepting the instructions of the issuing bank has also confirmed the letter of credit. Another error which the lower court and the Court of Appeals made was to confuse the obligation assumed by the petitioner. In commercial transactions involving letters of credit, the functions assumed by a correspondent bank are classified according to the obligations taken up by it. The correspondent bank may be called a notifying bank, a negotiating bank, or a confirming bank. In case of a notifying bank, the correspondent bank assumes no liability except to notify and/or transmit to the beneficiary the existence of the letter of credit. (Kronman and Co., Inc. v. Public National Bank of New York, 218 N.Y.S. 616 [1926]; Shaterian, Export-Import Banking, p. 292, cited in Agbayani, Commercial Laws of the Philippines, Vol. 1, p. 76). A negotiating bank, on the other hand, is a correspondent bank which buys or discounts a draft under the letter of credit. Its liability is dependent upon the stage of the negotiation. If before negotiation, it has no liability with respect to the seller but after negotiation, a contractual relationship will then prevail between the negotiating bank and the seller. (Scanlon v. First National Bank of Mexico, 162 N.E. 567 [1928]; Shaterian, Export-Import Banking, p. 293, cited in Agbayani, Commercial Laws of the Philippines, Vol. 1, p. 76) In the case of a confirming bank, the correspondent bank assumes a direct obligation to the seller and its liability is a primary one as if the

correspondent bank itself had issued the letter of credit. (Shaterian, ExportImport Banking, p. 294, cited in Agbayani Commercial Laws of the Philippines, Vol. 1, p. 77) In this case, the letter merely provided that the petitioner "forward the enclosed original credit to the beneficiary." (Records, Vol. I, p. 11) Considering the aforesaid instruction to the petitioner by the issuing bank, the Security Pacific National Bank, it is indubitable that the petitioner is only a notifying bank and not a confirming bank as ruled by the courts below. If the petitioner was a confirming bank, then a categorical declaration should have been stated in the letter of credit that the petitioner is to honor all drafts drawn in conformity with the letter of credit. What was simply stated therein was the instruction that the petitioner forward the original letter of credit to the beneficiary. Since the petitioner was only a notifying bank, its responsibility was solely to notify and/or transmit the documentary of credit to the private respondent and its obligation ends there. The notifying bank may suggest to the seller its willingness to negotiate, but this fact alone does not imply that the notifying bank promises to accept the draft drawn under the documentary credit. A notifying bank is not a privy to the contract of sale between the buyer and the seller, its relationship is only with that of the issuing bank and not with the beneficiary to whom he assumes no liability. It follows therefore that when the petitioner refused to negotiate with the private respondent, the latter has no cause of action against the petitioner for the enforcement of his rights under the letter. (See Kronman and Co., Inc. v. Public National Bank of New York, supra) In order that the petitioner may be held liable under the letter, there should be proof that the petitioner confirmed the letter of credit. The records are, however, bereft of any evidence which will disclose that the petitioner has confirmed the letter of credit. The only evidence in this case, and upon which the private respondent premised his argument, is the P75,000.00 loan extended by the petitioner to him.

The private respondent relies on this loan to advance his contention that the letter of credit was confirmed by the petitioner. He claims that the loan was granted by the petitioner to him, "in anticipation of the presentment of the letter of credit." The proposition advanced by the private respondent has no basis in fact or law. That the loan agreement between them be construed as an act of confirmation is rather far-fetched, for it depends principally on speculative reasoning. As earlier stated, there must have been an absolute assurance on the part of the petitioner that it will undertake the issuing bank's obligation as its own. Verily, the loan agreement it entered into cannot be categorized as an emphatic assurance that it will carry out the issuing bank's obligation as its own. The loan agreement is more reasonably classified as an isolated transaction independent of the documentary credit. Of course, it may be presumed that the petitioner loaned the money to the private respondent in anticipation that it would later be paid by the latter upon the receipt of the letter. Yet, we would have no basis to rule definitively that such "act" should be construed as an act of confirmation. The private respondent no doubt was in need of money in loading the logs on the ship "Zenlin Glory" and the only way to satisfy this need was to borrow money from the petitioner which the latter granted. From these circumstances, a logical conclusion that can be gathered is that the letter of credit was merely to serve as a collateral. At the most, when the petitioner extended the loan to the private respondent, it assumed the character of a negotiating bank. Even then, the petitioner will still not be liable, for a negotiating bank before negotiation has no contractual relationship with the seller. The case of Scanlon v. First National Bank (supra) perspicuously explained the relationship between the seller and the negotiating bank, viz: It may buy or refuse to buy as it chooses. Equally, it must be true that it owes no contractual duty toward the person for whose benefit the letter is written to discount or purchase any draft drawn

against the credit. No relationship of agent and principal, or of trustee and cestui, between the receiving bank and the beneficiary of the letter is established. (P.568) Whether therefore the petitioner is a notifying bank or a negotiating bank, it cannot be held liable. Absent any definitive proof that it has confirmed the letter of credit or has actually negotiated with the private respondent, the refusal by the petitioner to accept the tender of the private respondent is justified. In regard to the finding that the petitioner became a "trustee in relation to the plaintiff (private respondent) as the beneficiary of the letter of credit," the same has no legal basis. A trust has been defined as the "right, enforceable solely in equity, to the beneficial enjoyment of property the legal title to which is vested to another." (89 C.J.S. 712) The concept of a trust presupposes the existence of a specific property which has been conferred upon the person for the benefit of another. In order therefore for the trust theory of the private respondent to be sustained, the petitioner should have had in its possession a sum of money as specific fund advanced to it by the issuing bank and to be held in trust by it in favor of the private respondent. This does not obtain in this case. The mere opening of a letter of credit, it is to be noted, does not involve a specific appropriation of a sum of money in favor of the beneficiary. It only signifies that the beneficiary may be able to draw funds upon the letter of credit up to the designated amount specified in the letter. It does not convey the notion that a particular sum of money has been specifically reserved or has been held in trust. What actually transpires in an irrevocable credit is that the correspondent bank does not receive in advance the sum of money from the buyer or the issuing bank. On the contrary, when the correspondent bank accepts the tender and pays the amount stated in the letter, the money that it doles out comes not from any particular fund that has been advanced by the issuing bank, rather it gets the money from its own funds and then later seeks reimbursement from the issuing bank.

Granting that a trust has been created, still, the petitioner may not be considered a trustee. As the petitioner is only a notifying bank, its acceptance of the instructions of the issuing bank will not create estoppel on its part resulting in the acceptance of the trust. Precisely, as a notifying bank, its only obligation is to notify the private respondent of the existence of the letter of credit. How then can such create estoppel when that is its only duty under the law? We also find erroneous the statement of the Court of Appeals that the petitioner "acted as a guarantor of the issuing bank and in effect also of the latter's principal or client, i.e., Hans Axel Christiansen." It is a fundamental rule that an irrevocable credit is independent not only of the contract between the buyer and the seller but also of the credit agreement between the issuing bank and the buyer. (See Kingdom of Sweden v. New York Trust Co., 96 N.Y.S. 2d 779 [1949]). The relationship between the buyer (Christiansen) and the issuing bank (Security Pacific National Bank) is entirely independent from the letter of credit issued by the latter. The contract between the two has no bearing as to the non-compliance by the buyer with the agreement between the latter and the seller. Their contract is similar to that of a contract of services (to open the letter of credit) and not that of agency as was intimated by the Court of Appeals. The unjustified refusal therefore by Christiansen to issue the certification under the letter of credit should not likewise be charged to the issuing bank. As a mere notifying bank, not only does the petitioner not have any contractual relationship with the buyer, it has also nothing to do with the contract between the issuing bank and the buyer regarding the issuance of the letter of credit. The theory of guarantee relied upon by the Court of Appeals has to necessarily fail. The concept of guarantee vis-a-vis the concept of an irrevocable credit are inconsistent with each other. In the first place, the guarantee theory destroys the independence of the bank's responsibility from the contract upon which it was opened. In the second place, the nature of both contracts is mutually in conflict with each other. In contracts of guarantee, the guarantor's obligation is merely

collateral and it arises only upon the default of the person primarily liable. On the other hand, in an irrevocable credit the bank undertakes a primary obligation. (See National Bank of Eagle Pass, Tex v. American National Bank of San Francisco, 282 F. 73 [1922]) The relationship between the issuing bank and the notifying bank, on the contrary, is more similar to that of an agency and not that of a guarantee. It may be observed that the notifying bank is merely to follow the instructions of the issuing bank which is to notify or to transmit the letter of credit to the beneficiary. (See Kronman v. Public National Bank of New York, supra). Its commitment is only to notify the beneficiary. It does not undertake any assurance that the issuing bank will perform what has been mandated to or expected of it. As an agent of the issuing bank, it has only to follow the instructions of the issuing bank and to it alone is it obligated and not to buyer with whom it has no contractual relationship. In fact the notifying bank, even if the seller tenders all the documents required under the letter of credit, may refuse to negotiate or accept the drafts drawn thereunder and it will still not be held liable for its only engagement is to notify and/or transmit to the seller the letter of credit. Finally, even if we assume that the petitioner is a confirming bank, the petitioner cannot be forced to pay the amount under the letter. As we have previously explained, there was a failure on the part of the private respondent to comply with the terms of the letter of credit. The failure by him to submit the certification was fatal to his case. The U.C.P. which is incorporated in the letter of credit ordains that the bank may only pay the amount specified under the letter if all the documents tendered are on their face in compliance with the credit. It is not tasked with the duty of ascertaining the reason or reasons why certain documents have not been submitted, as it is only concerned with the documents. Thus, whether or not the buyer has performed his responsibility towards the seller is not the bank's problem. We are aware of the injustice committed by Christiansen on the private respondent but we are deciding the controversy on the basis of what the law is, for the law is not meant to favor only those who have been oppressed, the law is to govern future relations among people as well. Its commitment is to all and not to a single individual. The faith of the people in our justice

system may be eroded if we are to decide not what the law states but what we believe it should declare. Dura lex sed lex. Considering the foregoing, the materiality of ruling upon the validity of the certificate of approval required of the private respondent to submit under the letter of credit, has become insignificant. In any event, we affirm the earlier ruling of the Court of Appeals dated April 9, 1987 in regard to the petition before it for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction, to wit: There is no merit in the respondent's contention that the certification required in condition No. 4 of the letter of credit was "patently illegal." At the time the letter of credit was issued there was no Central Bank regulation prohibiting such a condition in the letter of credit. The letter of credit (Exh. C) was issued on June 7, 1971, more than two months before the issuance of the Central Bank Memorandum on August 16, 1971 disallowing such a condition in a letter of credit. In fact the letter of credit had already expired on July 30, 1971 when the Central Bank memorandum was issued. In any event, it is difficult to see how such a condition could be categorized as illegal or unreasonable since all that plaintiff Villaluz, as seller of the logs, could and should have done was to refuse to load the logs on the vessel "Zenlin Glory", unless Christiansen first issued the required certification that the logs had been approved by him to be in accordance with the terms and conditions of his purchase order. Apparently, Villaluz was in too much haste to ship his logs without taking all due precautions to assure that all the terms and conditions of the letter of credit had been strictly complied with, so that there would be no hitch in its negotiation. (Rollo, p. 8) WHEREFORE, the COURT RESOLVED to GRANT the petition and hereby NULLIFIES and SETS ASIDE the decision of the Court of Appeals dated June 29, 1990. The amended complaint in Civil Case No. 15121 is DISMISSED. SO ORDERED.

Transfield Philippines, Inc. vs. Luzon Hydro Corporation, 442 SCRA 307 (2004)
Republic SUPREME Manila SECOND DIVISION G.R. No. 146717 November 22, 2004 of the Philippines COURT

TRANSFIELD PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioner, vs. LUZON HYDRO CORPORATION, AUSTRALIA and NEW ZEALAND BANKING GROUP LIMITED and SECURITY BANK CORPORATION, respondents.

DECISION

TINGA, J.: Subject of this case is the letter of credit which has evolved as the ubiquitous and most important device in international trade. A creation of commerce and businessmen, the letter of credit is also unique in the number of parties involved and its supranational character. Petitioner has appealed from the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals in CAG.R. SP No. 61901 entitled "Transfield Philippines, Inc. v. Hon. Oscar Pimentel, et al.," promulgated on 31 January 2001.2 On 26 March 1997, petitioner and respondent Luzon Hydro Corporation (hereinafter, LHC) entered into a Turnkey Contract3 whereby petitioner, as Turnkey Contractor, undertook to construct, on a turnkey basis, a seventy (70)-Megawatt hydro-electric power station at the Bakun River in the provinces of Benguet and Ilocos Sur (hereinafter, the Project). Petitioner was given the sole responsibility for the design, construction, commissioning, testing and completion of the Project.4

The Turnkey Contract provides that: (1) the target completion date of the Project shall be on 1 June 2000, or such later date as may be agreed upon between petitioner and respondent LHC or otherwise determined in accordance with the Turnkey Contract; and (2) petitioner is entitled to claim extensions of time (EOT) for reasons enumerated in the Turnkey Contract, among which are variations, force majeure, and delays caused by LHC itself.5 Further, in case of dispute, the parties are bound to settle their differences through mediation, conciliation and such other means enumerated under Clause 20.3 of the Turnkey Contract.6 To secure performance of petitioner's obligation on or before the target completion date, or such time for completion as may be determined by the parties' agreement, petitioner opened in favor of LHC two (2) standby letters of credit both dated 20 March 2000 (hereinafter referred to as "the Securities"), to wit: Standby Letter of Credit No. E001126/8400 with the local branch of respondent Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ Bank)7 and Standby Letter of Credit No. IBDIDSB-00/4 with respondent Security Bank Corporation (SBC)8 each in the amount of US$8,988,907.00.9 In the course of the construction of the project, petitioner sought various EOT to complete the Project. The extensions were requested allegedly due to several factors which prevented the completion of the Project on target date, such as force majeure occasioned by typhoon Zeb, barricades and demonstrations. LHC denied the requests, however. This gave rise to a series of legal actions between the parties which culminated in the instant petition. The first of the actions was a Request for Arbitration which LHC filed before the Construction Industry Arbitration Commission (CIAC) on 1 June 1999.10 This was followed by another Request for Arbitration, this time filed by petitioner before the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)11 on 3 November 2000. In both arbitration proceedings, the common issues presented were: [1) whether typhoon Zeb and any of its associated events constituted force majeure to justify the extension of time sought by petitioner; and [2) whether LHC had the right to terminate the Turnkey Contract for failure of petitioner to complete the Project on target date. Meanwhile, foreseeing that LHC would call on the Securities pursuant to the pertinent provisions of the Turnkey Contract,12 petitionerin two separate

letters13 both dated 10 August 2000advised respondent banks of the arbitration proceedings already pending before the CIAC and ICC in connection with its alleged default in the performance of its obligations. Asserting that LHC had no right to call on the Securities until the resolution of disputes before the arbitral tribunals, petitioner warned respondent banks that any transfer, release, or disposition of the Securities in favor of LHC or any person claiming under LHC would constrain it to hold respondent banks liable for liquidated damages. As petitioner had anticipated, on 27 June 2000, LHC sent notice to petitioner that pursuant to Clause 8.214 of the Turnkey Contract, it failed to comply with its obligation to complete the Project. Despite the letters of petitioner, however, both banks informed petitioner that they would pay on the Securities if and when LHC calls on them.15 LHC asserted that additional extension of time would not be warranted; accordingly it declared petitioner in default/delay in the performance of its obligations under the Turnkey Contract and demanded from petitioner the payment of US$75,000.00 for each day of delay beginning 28 June 2000 until actual completion of the Project pursuant to Clause 8.7.1 of the Turnkey Contract. At the same time, LHC served notice that it would call on the securities for the payment of liquidated damages for the delay.16 On 5 November 2000, petitioner as plaintiff filed a Complaint for Injunction, with prayer for temporary restraining order and writ of preliminary injunction, against herein respondents as defendants before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati.17 Petitioner sought to restrain respondent LHC from calling on the Securities and respondent banks from transferring, paying on, or in any manner disposing of the Securities or any renewals or substitutes thereof. The RTC issued a seventy-two (72)-hour temporary restraining order on the same day. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 00-1312 and raffled to Branch 148 of the RTC of Makati. After appropriate proceedings, the trial court issued an Order on 9 November 2000, extending the temporary restraining order for a period of seventeen (17) days or until 26 November 2000.18 The RTC, in its Order19 dated 24 November 2000, denied petitioner's application for a writ of preliminary injunction. It ruled that petitioner had no legal right and suffered no irreparable injury to justify the issuance of the

writ. Employing the principle of "independent contract" in letters of credit, the trial court ruled that LHC should be allowed to draw on the Securities for liquidated damages. It debunked petitioner's contention that the principle of "independent contract" could be invoked only by respondent banks since according to it respondent LHC is the ultimate beneficiary of the Securities. The trial court further ruled that the banks were mere custodians of the funds and as such they were obligated to transfer the same to the beneficiary for as long as the latter could submit the required certification of its claims. Dissatisfied with the trial court's denial of its application for a writ of preliminary injunction, petitioner elevated the case to the Court of Appeals via a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65, with prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and writ of preliminary injunction.20 Petitioner submitted to the appellate court that LHC's call on the Securities was premature considering that the issue of its default had not yet been resolved with finality by the CIAC and/or the ICC. It asserted that until the fact of delay could be established, LHC had no right to draw on the Securities for liquidated damages. Refuting petitioner's contentions, LHC claimed that petitioner had no right to restrain its call on and use of the Securities as payment for liquidated damages. It averred that the Securities are independent of the main contract between them as shown on the face of the two Standby Letters of Credit which both provide that the banks have no responsibility to investigate the authenticity or accuracy of the certificates or the declarant's capacity or entitlement to so certify. In its Resolu