December 7, 2022 @ 10:00 AM 2 months ago

VIOLATION of the Anti-Bouncing Checks Law (Batas Pambansa Blg. 22) is a serious criminal offense which affects public interest and public order.

What the law penalizes is the issuance of a bouncing check; it is not the non-payment of an obligation which the law punishes, but the act of making and issuing a check that is dishonored upon presentment for payment.

It is now settled that BP 22 applies even in cases where the dishonored checks were issued merely in the form of a deposit or a guaranty and not as actual payment. The law does not make any distinction. (People of the Philipines vs. Reyes, November 18, 1993)

Clearly, under BP 22, the mere act of issuing a worthless or bad check is a malum prohibitum (or an act proscribed by the legislature for being deemed pernicious and inimical to public welfare). (Violation of Special Penal Laws is generally referred to as a malum prohibitum. No criminal intent is needed in order to find a person liable for crimes punished under Special Penal Laws. As long as the act is committed, then it is punishable as a crime under the law.)

BP 22 was enacted for the specific purpose of addressing the problem of the continued issuance and circulation of unfunded checks by irresponsible persons. Hence, to stem the harm caused by these bouncing checks to the community, BP 22 considers the mere act of issuing an unfunded check as an offense not only against property but also against public order. (Mitra vs. People, July 5, 2010)

Violation of BP 22 is punishable 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.” (Section 1, Batas Pambansa Blg. 22)

The elements of the offense are: (1) the making, drawing and issuance of any check to apply to account or for value; (2) the maker, drawer or issuer knows 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; and, (3) the 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. (Bautista vs. Court of Appeals, July 6, 2001)

It bears noting that BP 22 creates the prima facie (at first sight) presumption that once the check is dishonored, the drawer of the check gains knowledge of the insufficiency—unless within five (5) banking days from receipt of the notice of dishonor, the drawer pays the holder of the check or makes arrangements with the drawee bank for the payment of the check.

The service of the notice of dishonor gives the drawer the opportunity to make good the check within those five days to avert his prosecution for violating BP 22. (Mitra vs. People, 2010; Lozano vs. Martinez, December 18, 1986)