G.R. Nos. L-78911-25. December 11, 1987
It appears that fifteen (15) separate information for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 or the Bouncing Checks Law, were filed against respondent Rosario Claudio before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City and originally assigned to Branch 84.
The presiding judge of Branch 84 inhibited himself when respondent Claudio, through counsel, filed a petition for recuse dated May 19,1986.
The cases were re-raffled and consequently assigned on June 25, 1986 to Branch 105 which was then presided over by Judge Johnico G. Serquina. During these proceedings, respondent Claudio was finally arraigned and pleaded not guilty to the charges. In the meantime, Judge Tomas V. Tadeo, Jr. replaced Judge Serquina as presiding judge of Branch 105.
The respondent court issued an order rejecting the appearance of Atty. Nicolito L. Bustos as private prosecutor on the ground that the charge is for the violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 which does not provide for any civil liability or indemnity and hence, “it is not a crime against property but public order.”
The petitioner, through counsel filed a motion for reconsideration of the order dated 8 January 1987 on March 10, 1987.
However, the respondent court denied petitioner’s motion for reconsideration. The respondents make capital of the fact that Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 punishes the act of knowingly issuing worthless checks as an offense against public order. As such, it is argued that it is the State and the public that are the principal complainants and, therefore, no civil indemnity is provided for by Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 for which a private party or prosecutor may intervene.
Banal, the petitioner, relying on the legal axiom that “Every man criminally liable is also civilly liable,” contends that indemnity may be recovered from the offender regardless of whether or not Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 so provides.
- Whether or not the respondent Court acted with grave abuse of discretion or in excess of its jurisdiction in rejecting the intervention of a private prosecutor in behalf of petitioner Charmina B. Banal, in the prosecution of the civil aspect of Criminal Cases Nos. 40909 to 40913.
- Whether or not the special law so provides, indemnification of the offended party.
- Yes. The petitioner’s intervention in the prosecution of Criminal Cases 40909 to 40913 is justified not only for the protection of her interests but also in the interest of the speedy and inexpensive administration of justice mandated by the Constitution (Section 16, Article III, Bill of Rights, Constitution of 1987). A separate civil action for the purpose would only prove to be costly, burdensome, and time-consuming for both parties and further delay the final disposition of the case. This multiplicity of suits must be avoided. Where petitioner’s rights may be fully adjudicated in the proceedings before the trial court, resort to a separate action to recover civil liability is clearly unwarranted.
It could not have been the intendment of the framers of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 to leave the offended private party defrauded and empty-handed by excluding the civil liability of the offender. To do so, may leave the offended party unable to recover even the face value of the check due her, thereby unjustly enriching the errant drawer at the expense of the payee. The protection which the law seeks to provide would, therefore, be brought to naught.
- Yes. Criminal liability will give rise to civil liability only if the same felonious act or omission results in damage or injury to another and is the direct and proximate cause thereof. In criminal actions for, to be criminally liable, it is enough that the act or omission complained of is punishable, regardless of whether or not it also causes material damage to another. Civil liability to the offended private party cannot thus be denied. The payee of the check is entitled to receive the payment of money for which the worthless check was issued. Having been caused the damage, she is entitled to recompense.
Every crime gives rise to a penal or criminal action for the punishment of the guilty party, and also to civil action for the restitution of the thing, repair of the damage, and indemnification for the losses. Indeed one cannot disregard the private party in the case at bar who suffered the offenses committed against her. Not only the State but the petitioner too is entitled to relief as a member of the public which the law seeks to protect. She was assured that the checks were good when she parted with money, property or services. She suffered with the State when the checks bounced.
While an act or omission is felonious because it is punishable by law, it gives rise to civil liability not so much because it is a crime but because it caused damage to another. What gives rise to the civil liability is really the obligation and the moral duty of everyone to repair or make whole the damage caused to another by reason of his own act or omission, done intentionally or negligently, whether or not the same be punishable by law.