Filing a civil suit vs. a debtor

Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
A former co-worker borrowed P60,000 from me. He promised to return the money after four months with 10-percent interest. It is now almost one year since he undertook to return my money, but he has not returned a single centavo. I went to his office and their house so many times, but to no avail. He even arrogantly told me to just sue him in court because I won’t get anything from of him.

My question is: can I file a criminal case against him? I just want to put him in jail for all the inconvenience he has put me through.

Dear Ronald14,
It can be deduced from the tenor of your letter that there exists a contract of loan between you and your former co-worker, whereby you obligated yourself to deliver to him, as you did, the amount of P60,000, while he is under the obligation to return the said amount with a ten-percent interest.

Considering that what binds you and your former co-worker is a civil obligation, we believe that it is not possible for you to file a criminal complaint against him. Neither can you put him in jail for his infraction as it does not appear from the facts of your case that he has violated any of the provisions of our Revised Penal Code or special laws imposing criminal liability. At best, the appropriate legal remedy available to you is to file a civil action against him in court, particularly a small claims case.

You mentioned that you have already made several demands from him and these efforts proved futile. While he may be bound by those verbal demands, he can easily deny that you have actually made them. Thus, it would be more prudent for you to give him a written demand letter, specifically indicating therein the period that you are granting him in order to settle his civil obligations.

Should he still renege from his responsibility, you may then consider filing civil action before the Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Municipal Trial Court or Municipal Circuit Trial Court that has jurisdiction over the place of your residence. It will be best for you to include all your supporting documents and evidence in your verified statement of claim and certification of non-forum shopping because, as a rule, evidence that is not attached to or submitted together with the statement of claim will not be accepted during the hearing of the case, unless good cause is shown for its admission (Section 5, SC En Banc Resolution, dated October 27, 2009 in A.M. 08-8-7-SC).

If you are able to prove your former co-worker’s obligation and his unjustified failure to comply with what is incumbent upon him, the court shall render a decision in your favor and the same shall be final and unappealable (Section 23, SC En Banc Resolution, dated October 27, 2009 in A.M. 08-8-7-SC).

We hope that we were able to answer your query. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to


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  1. I agree with haiba. Napakabagal ng justice system sa Pilipinas. Halos karamihan nga ng pinoy hindi alam kung magkano ang fee ng 1 abugado hindi tuloy natin alam kung sobra-sobra ang sinisingil sa atin.

  2. haiba angga on

    small claims case is USELESS..
    its a one sided law created in this republic.. manghihinayang ka lang sa babayaran mo sa COURT.
    just wanna share my experienced same case with mr. ronald.
    this is not to discourage him.
    heres d story;

    to mr. ronald, the barangay will just say to you charge it to experience in the sense bat ka nag pautang eh di nman pla nyang kayang bayaran.

    then here you go to the municipal court the judge will take side sa my utang kesyo hindi kayang bayaran ganito na lng gawin natin so mauuwi sa both party agreement na 6/9 or 12 months to pay without assurance pa rin.

    you cannot demand kasi nga mas naawa ung judge sa may utang..
    after that hindi pa rin ma settle or mag bayad base sa inyong agreement, so punta ka uli sa court.

    then the court personnel advise u to look if meron syang property.. eh pano kung wala, like in my case.. ikakamot mo na lng sa ulo.

    my comment lng to this law how i wish they can amend it put some extra teeth considering the money they took is a hard earn money..
    kung nasa middle east pa yan kulong agad wala ng marami kaartehan at daming babayaran ng complainant.