ALBINO S. CO, petitioner,
COURT OF APPEALS and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
Antonio P. Barredo for petitioner.
The Solicitor General for the people.
A criminal complaint for violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 was filed by the salvage company against petitioner with the Regional Trial Court. The case eventuated in petitioner’s conviction of the crime charged on the basis that a check issued merely to guarantee the performance of an obligation is nevertheless covered by B.P. Blg. 22. Pending litigation, Ministry of Justice Circular No. 4 (which excludes guarantee check from application of B.P. Blg. 22) was subsequently reversed by Ministry Circular No. 12 which ruled that a check issued merely to guarantee the performance of an obligation is nevertheless covered by B.P. Blg. 22. Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals. There he sought exoneration upon the theory that it was reversible error for the Regional Trial Court but the Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction.
Whether or not Ministry Circular No. 12 dated August 8, 1984 declaring the guarantee check will no longer be considered as a valid defense be retroactively applied.
NO. Decision of the Court of Appeals and RTC were set aside. Criminal prosecution against accused-petitioner was dismissed.
It would seem that the weight of authority is decidedly in favor of the proposition that the Court’s decision of September 21, 1987 in Que v. People, 154 SCRA 160 (1987) that a check issued merely to guarantee the performance of an obligation is nevertheless covered by B.P. Blg. 22 — should not be given retrospective effect to the prejudice of the petitioner and other persons situated, who relied on the official opinion of the Minister of Justice that such a check did not fall within the scope of B.P. Blg. 22.
This is after all a criminal action all doubts in which, pursuant to familiar, fundamental doctrine, must be resolved in favor of the accused. Everything considered, the Court sees no compelling reason why the doctrine of mala prohibita should override the principle of prospectivity, and its clear implications as herein above set out and discussed, negating criminal liability.