G.R. No. 105461 – 227 SCRA 723 – Mercantile Law – Negotiable Instruments Law – Purpose of BP 22
Criminal Law – Special Penal Laws – Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 – Elements; Damage is not an element of violations of BP 22
Marlyn Lazaro, a businesswoman, was paid by Rudy Chua a check worth P90,000.00 so that Lazaro may deliver goods ordered by Chua. Lazaro was only able to deliver P18,000.00 worth of goods hence she issued a check worth P72,000.00 to Chua as refund. The check bounced and Chua notified Lazaro about the dishonor. Lazaro failed to pay within the prescribed period hence she was sued by Chua for estafa and violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22. The trial court convicted her for violating BP 22 but was acquitted in the estafa case. Lazaro was made to suffer one year imprisonment and to pay the P72,000.00. On appeal, Lazaro claimed that she should be acquitted on the BP 22 case as well because there was no damage done against Chua because Lazaro executed a deed of sale in favor of Chua for her car.
ISSUE: Whether or not Lazaro should be acquitted.
HELD: No. The clear intention of the framers of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 is to make the mere act of issuing a worthless check malum prohibitum. It is not important whether or not the victims thereon are prejudiced and/or damaged. The law has clearly provided that the mere issuance of any kind of check, regardless of the intent of the parties; i.e. whether the check is intended merely to serve as a guarantee or deposit, but which check is subsequently dishonored, makes the person who issued the check liable. The intent of the law is to curb the proliferation of worthless checks as a means of payment of obligations. On the other hand, the fine provided for in BP 22 was intended as an additional penalty for the act of issuing a worthless check. This is the only logical conclusion since the law does not require that there be damage or prejudice to the individual complainant by reason of the issuance of the worthless check.