• When a check bounces

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    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    My parents have a small business that they started two years ago. The first few months went smoothly, but things began to spiral down around the middle of last year when two of their former employees stole money and equipment from them.

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    They had a hard time paying the salaries of the other employees, the operational costs of the business, as well as all the loans they took in starting the business. My problem here is that I issued several checks to their creditors. I no longer have enough money to fund those checks because I had given them my savings to help defray their other expenses. Can a case be filed against me even if I was not the one who directly took the loans?
    Paul

    Dear Paul,
    Insofar as the settlement of the loans is concerned, a case may not be filed against you since you were not the one who personally entered into the contract of loan. As you have mentioned in your letter, it was your parents who took the loan and they used the proceeds thereof in starting their business venture. Thus, they are the ones obligated to settle the debt.

    However, insofar as the checks you issued are concerned, you may be made liable for the same, even if you were not the one who directly took out the loans from the creditors, provided that these checks were presented to the drawee bank within ninety days from the date appearing on the checks and they were dishonored by the drawee bank. This is because our laws penalize not only the making, drawing, or issuing of checks by a person who knows that, at the time of issue, he does not have sufficient funds in or credit with his drawee bank for the payment of such check in full upon its presentment, but also the making, drawing, or issuing of checks by a person who fails to keep sufficient funds or to maintain a credit to cover the full amount of the check if presented within a period of ninety days from the date appearing thereon and the same having been dishonored. This is explicitly provided for under Section 1 of Batas Pambansa 22, otherwise known as the Bouncing Checks Law: “Any person who makes or draws and issues any check to apply on account or for value, knowing at the time of issue that he does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the payment of such check in full upon its presentment, which check is subsequently dishonored by the drawee bank for insufficiency of funds or credit or would have been dishonored for the same reason had not the drawer, without any valid reason, ordered the bank to stop payment, shall be punished by imprisonment of not less than thirty days but not more than one (1) year or by a fine of not less than but not more than double the amount of the check which fine shall in no case exceed Two Hundred Thousand Pesos, or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court. x x x The same penalty shall be imposed upon any person who, having sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank when he makes or draws and issues a check, shall fail to keep sufficient funds or to maintain a credit to cover the full amount of the check if presented within a period of ninety (90) days from the date appearing thereon, for which reason it is dishonored by the drawee bank. x x x” (Emphases supplied)

    We hope that we were able to answer your queries. 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 dearpao@manilatimes.net

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