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University of the Philippines College of Law

Block D

Topic Other Reqs of Obligations on Negotiable Instruments; Consideration


Case No. G.R. No. 215910, February 06, 2017
Case Name MANUEL C. UBAS, SR. v. WILSON CHAN
Ponente PERLAS-BERNABE, J.

RELEVANT FACTS

Manuel Ubas filed a Complaint for Sum of Money with Application for Writ of Attachment against Wilson Chan
before the RTC, alleging that that Chan, "DBU the name and style of UNIMASTER," (Chan is the president of
Unimasters) was indebted to him in the amount of P1.5M representing the price of boulders, sand, gravel, and
other construction materials allegedly purchased by Chan from him for the construction of the Macagtas Dam
in Northern Samar.

He averred that Chan had issued 3 bank checks, payable to "CASH" in the amount of P500k each but when he
presented the checks for encashment, the same were dishonored due to a stop payment order. As such,
Chan was guilty of fraud in incurring the obligation.

Chan filed an Answer with MTD:

(a) the complaint states no cause of action, considering that the checks do not belong to him but to
Unimasters Conglomeration, Inc.
(b) there is no contract that ever existed between him and Ubas
(c) if Ubas even had a right of action at all, the complaint should not have been filed against him but
against Unimasters, a company which has a separate juridical personality from him.

During trial, Ubas offered in evidence, the demand letter he sent to Chan detailing the serial numbers of the
checks, including the dates and amounts thereof. He also offered the dishonored checks which were in his
possession. (Demand Letter + Dishonored Checks)

On the other hand, Chan presented Unimasters' comptroller, Murillo, who testified that Unimasters was
contracted by the DPWH for the Macagtas Dam project and that the checks were for the replenishment of the
revolving fund of the project, but the project engineer, Engr. Merelos, lost the same; and that upon being
informed about the loss, Chan, instructed Murillo to issue a Stop Payment Order.

Chan admitted to having issued the checks. However, he claimed that they were not issued to Ubas, but to
Engr. Merelos for the project's revolving fund. He also that Ubas was not among their suppliers of aggregates
for the Macagtas Dam project.

RTC ruled that Ubas had a cause of action. Ubas’s demand letter was not disputed by Chan. Also, it did not lend
credence to Chan’s claim that the subject checks were lost and only came into the possession of Ubas,
considering the fact that Ubas mentioned the details of the subject checks in the demand letter and, thus, would
have incriminated himself had he actually stolen them. It also took note that Chan did not file a case for theft in
relation to the lost checks.

Thus, finding that Chan failed to overcome the disputable presumption that every party to an instrument
acquired the same for a valuable consideration under Section 24 NIL, the RTC ordered him to pay Ubas
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P1.5M plus legal interests from June 1998 until fully paid, P40k as litigation expenses, P50,000 as attorney's
fees, and cost of the suit.

CA reversed and held that Ubas has no cause of action. It held that Chan was not the proper party defendant,
considering that the drawer of the checks was Unimasters, which, has a separate and distinct personality from
Chan. If at all, the said checks can only serve as evidence of transactions between Unimasters and Ubas (not
Ubas with Chan). Accordingly, Unimasters is an indispensable party, and since it was not impleaded, the court
had no jurisdiction over the case. CA found that Ubas’s claim of unpaid deliveries had no merit, given that not a
single delivery receipt was presented.

ISSUE AND RATIO DECIDENDI

Issue Ratio
W/N the CA erred in YES. Complaint reinstated.
dismissing Ubas’
complaint for lack of Jurisprudence holds that "in a suit for a recovery of sum of money, as here, the
cause of action? plaintiff-creditor [Ubas] has the burden of proof to show that defendant [Chan]
had not paid him the amount of the contracted loan. However, where the plaintiff-
creditor possesses and submits in evidence an instrument showing the
indebtedness, a presumption that the credit has not been satisfied arises in his
favor. Thus, the defendant is required to overcome the said presumption and present
evidence to prove the fact of payment so that no judgment will be entered against
him."

This presumption stems from Section 24 of the NIL:

Section 24. Presumption of Consideration. - Every negotiable instrument is


deemed prima facie to have been issued for a valuable consideration; and
every person whose signature appears thereon to have become a party
thereto for value.

Ubas had presented in evidence the 3 dishonored checks which were undeniably
signed by Chan. Chan admitted to signing the check. Hence, it is presumed that
the checks were issued for a valid consideration, which therefore, dispensed
with the necessity of any documentary evidence to support Ubas’s monetary
claim. Unless otherwise rebutted, the legal presumption of consideration under
Section 24 of the NIL stands.

SC did not believe Chan’s defense that these checks were lost and were not issued
to Ubas. It would have been contrary to human nature and experience for Ubas
to send Chan a demand letter detailing the particulars of the said checks if he
indeed unlawfully obtained the same. In fact, it is glaring that Chan did not
present Engr. Merelos, who had purportedly lost the checks, to personally
testify regarding the loss.

Further, Unimasters' comptroller, Murillo, testified during trial that "she came to know
that the lost checks were deposited in the account of Ubas as she was informed by
the officer-in-charge of the drawee bank, the Far East Bank." However, there was no
showing that Unimasters and/or Chan commenced any action against Ubas to
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assert its interest over a significant sum of P1.5M relative to the checks that were
supposedly lost/stolen. Again, this is inconsistent with ordinary human nature and
experience.

Besides, Section 16 of the NIL provides that when an instrument is no longer in the
possession of the person who signed it and it is complete in its terms, "a valid
and intentional delivery by him is presumed until the contrary is proved," as in this
case.

In Pacheco v. CA: a check "constitutes an evidence of indebtedness" and is a


veritable "proof of an obligation." Hence, Ubas may rely on the same as proof of
Chan’s personal obligation to him.

Although the checks were under the account name of Unimasters, the manner or
mode of payment does not alter the nature of the obligation. The source of
obligation stems from privity of contract between Ubas and Chan. Therefore, even
if corporate checks were issued for the payment of the obligation, the juridical tie was
already established during the contract's perfection stage and, thus, does not
preclude the creditor from proceeding against the debtor during the contract's
consummation stage:

1. Ubas was consistent in his account that he directly dealt with Chan in his
personal and not merely his representative capacity.
2. The demand letter, which was admitted by Chan, was personally
addressed to Chan and not to Unimasters as represented by the latter.
3. Also, in his testimony, Ubas explained that he delivered the construction
materials to Chan absent any written agreement due to his trust on the latter.
This squares with Chan’s own testimony, wherein he stated that every time
he wanted to have supplies delivered for the Macagtas Dam project, he would
not enter into any written contract.
4. Ubas further testified that he personally demanded the value of the subject
checks from Chan in his office.

As the holder of the subject checks which are presumed to have been issued for a
valuable consideration, and having established his privity of contract with Chan, Ubas
has substantiated his cause of action by a preponderance of evidence.
Consequently, his Complaint should be granted.

RULING

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated October 28, 2014 of the Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R. CV No. 04024 is hereby SET ASIDE. The Decision dated January 30, 2008 of the Regional Trial Court of
Catarman, Northern Samar, Branch 19 in Civil Case No. C-1071 is REINSTATED.

SO ORDERED.