San Mateo bought several assorted yarns from Sehwani and as payment, issued 11 postdated checks.
The two had an agreement that San Mateo would inform Sehwani of when to deposit the checks. Despite this, San Mateo was unable to settle her account and Sehwani sent demand letters to her office and then to her residence. The first letter to her residence was turned away by the security guard at San Mateo’s instruction and the liaison officer left the letter with the security guard. Thereafter, a copy of the demand letter was sent to San Mateo by registered mail which was returned to his counsel’s office with the notation “N/S Party Out 12/12/05” and that San Mateo did not claim it despite three notices to her dated December 12, 2005, December 22, 2005, and January 2, 2006, respectively.
Because of this, the MeTC of Taguig found her guilty of violating BP 22.
Issue: WON San Mateo’s guilt was proven beyond reasonable doubt.
No. The SC held that to be liable for violation of B.P. 22, the following essential elements must be present: (1) the making, drawing, and issuance of any check to apply for account or for value; (2) the knowledge of the maker, drawer, or issuer that at the time of issue he does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the payment of the check in full upon its presentment; and (3) the subsequent dishonor of the check by the drawee bank for insufficiency of funds or credit or dishonor for the same reason had not the drawer, without any valid cause, ordered the bank to stop payment.
But the Court finds that the second element was not sufficiently established. Section 26 of B.P. 22 creates the presumption that the issuer of the check was aware of the insufficiency of funds when he issued a check and the bank dishonored it. This presumption, however, arises only after it is proved that the issuer had received a written notice of dishonor and that, within five days from receipt thereof, he failed to pay the amount of the check or to make arrangements for its payment.
Here, there is no basis in concluding that San Mateo knew of the insufficiency of her funds. While she may have requested Sehwani in her letters dated October 8, 2005 and November 11, 2005, to defer depositing all the checks, with maturity dates of July and August 2005, otherwise, her account will close, such act did not amount to an admission that, when she issued those checks, she knew that she would have no sufficient funds in the drawee bank to pay for them.
It has been the consistent ruling of this Court that receipts for registered letters including return receipts do not themselves prove receipt; they must be properly authenticated to serve as proof of receipt of the letters, claimed to be a notice of dishonor.9 To be sure, the presentation of the registry card with an unauthenticated signature, does not meet the required proof beyond reasonable doubt that the accused received such notice. It is not enough for the prosecution to prove that a notice of dishonor was sent to the accused. The prosecution must also prove actual receipt of said notice, because the fact of service provided for in the law is reckoned from receipt of such notice of dishonor by the accused.
Since there is insufficient proof that San Mateo actually received the notice of dishonor, the presumption that she knew of the insufficiency of her funds cannot arise. For this reason, the Court cannot convict her with moral certainty of violation of B.P. 22.
However, she is still liable for her unpaid account w/ Sehwani subject to the legal interest rate.