Guarantor, not borrower, answerable to a bouncing check

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Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
A friend helped me by guaranteeing a debt I owed somebody else. She issued a check, which I gave to my creditor as a form of security or assurance that I will pay her back. Unfortunately, I still don’t have the funds to pay, and the last time I spoke with my creditor, she threatened me that she will deposit the check and if the check bounces, she will file a criminal case against me. Can my creditor do that even if she knows that the check is merely a guaranty? Please help me.
Teresa

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Dear Teresa,
Unfortunately, your creditor can file a criminal case if the check she deposits will bounce due to lack of funds or to the check having been issued in favor of a closed account. She can file a criminal complaint for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 (BP 22) or the Bouncing Checks Law against the drawer or maker of the check. In this case, your creditor can file a criminal complaint against your friend who helped you out by issuing the check. Section 1 of BP 22 states that a person may be punished by imprisonment if the person makes or draws and issues any check knowing that at the time the said check was issued, the person had no funds or credits in the bank, and the check when presented was dishonored by the bank for insufficiency of funds or credit.

It is irrelevant that you and your creditor had an internal agreement on the issuance of the check. BP 22 was enacted to prevent the proliferation of worthless checks, as these checks injure the banking system and eventually hurt the welfare of society and the public interest (Dico vs. Court of Appeals, 305 SCRA 643). The Supreme Court has consistently ruled that private arrangements of the parties regarding the issuance of the checks will not exempt the drawer from prosecution under BP 22 (People vs. Nitafan, 215 SCRA 84). In Meriz vs. People of the Philippines (368 SCRA 532), the Supreme Court held that, “Once a check is presented for payment, the drawee bank gives it the usual course whether issued in payment of an obligation or as a guaranty of an obligation. BP 22 does not appear to concern itself with what might actually be envisioned by the parties, its primordial intention being to instead ensure the stability and commercial value of checks as being virtual substitutes for currency.” The act being punished by BP 22 is the making or issuing of a worthless check, regardless of the reason for the issuance of the check.

According to you, it was your friend who made and issued the check, so you can present it to your creditor as guaranty for payment. Therefore, it is your friend who can be prosecuted for violation of BP 22. We strongly advise you to inform your friend about the repercussions of issuing a worthless check, so your friend can do something about it.

We hope that we were able to answer your query. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts that 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 dearpao@manilatimes.net

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