G.R. No. 115324. February 19, 2003]
PRODUCERS BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES (now FIRST INTERNATIONAL BANK), Petitioner, v. HON. COURT OF APPEALS AND FRANKLIN VIVES, respondents.
D E C I S I O N
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals dated June 25, 1991 in CA-G.R. CV No. 11791 and of its Resolution2 dated May 5, 1994, denying the motion for reconsideration of said decision filed by petitioner Producers Bank of the Philippines.
Sometime in 1979, private respondent Franklin Vives was asked by his neighbor and friend Angeles Sanchez to help her friend and townmate, Col. Arturo Doronilla, in incorporating his business, the Sterela Marketing and Services (Sterela for brevity). Specifically, Sanchez asked private respondent to deposit in a bank a certain amount of money in the bank account of Sterela for purposes of its incorporation. She assured private respondent that he could withdraw his money from said account within a months time. Private respondent asked Sanchez to bring Doronilla to their house so that they could discuss Sanchezs request.3cräläwvirtualibräry
On May 9, 1979, private respondent, Sanchez, Doronilla and a
certain Estrella Dumagpi, Doronillas private secretary, met and discussed the
Thereafter, relying on the
assurances and representations of Sanchez and Doronilla, private respondent
issued a check in the amount of Two Hundred Thousand Pesos (
Subsequently, private respondent learned that Sterela was no
longer holding office in the address previously given to him.
Alarmed, he and his wife went to the Bank to
verify if their money was still intact.
The bank manager referred them to Mr. Rufo Atienza, the assistant
manager, who informed them that part of the money in Savings Account No.
10-1567 had been withdrawn by Doronilla, and that only
Private respondent tried to get in touch with Doronilla through
On June 29, 1979, he received
a letter from Doronilla, assuring him that his money was intact and would be
returned to him.
On August 13, 1979,
Doronilla issued a postdated check for Two Hundred Twelve Thousand Pesos (
Private respondent referred the matter to a lawyer, who made a
written demand upon Doronilla for the return of his clients money.
Doronilla issued another check for
Private respondent instituted an action for recovery of sum of money in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Pasig, Metro Manila against Doronilla, Sanchez, Dumagpi and petitioner. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 44485. He also filed criminal actions against Doronilla, Sanchez and Dumagpi in the RTC. However, Sanchez passed away on March 16, 1985 while the case was pending before the trial court. On October 3, 1995, the RTC of Pasig, Branch 157, promulgated its Decision in Civil Case No. 44485, the dispositive portion of which reads:
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, judgment is hereby rendered sentencing defendants Arturo J. Doronila, Estrella Dumagpi and Producers Bank of the Philippines to pay plaintiff Franklin Vives jointly and severally
(a) the amount of
(b) the sum of
(c) the amount of
(d) the costs of the suit.
Petitioner appealed the trial courts decision to the Court of Appeals. In its Decision dated June 25, 1991, the appellate court affirmed in toto the decision of the RTC.9 It likewise denied with finality petitioners motion for reconsideration in its Resolution dated May 5, 1994.10cräläwvirtualibräry
On June 30, 1994, petitioner filed the present petition, arguing that
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN UPHOLDING THAT THE TRANSACTION BETWEEN THE DEFENDANT DORONILLA AND RESPONDENT VIVES WAS ONE OF SIMPLE LOAN AND NOT ACCOMMODATION;
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN UPHOLDING THAT PETITIONERS BANK MANAGER, MR. RUFO ATIENZA, CONNIVED WITH THE OTHER DEFENDANTS IN DEFRAUDING PETITIONER (Sic. Should be PRIVATE RESPONDENT) AND AS A CONSEQUENCE, THE PETITIONER SHOULD BE HELD LIABLE UNDER THE PRINCIPLE OF NATURAL JUSTICE;
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN ADOPTING THE ENTIRE RECORDS OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT AND AFFIRMING THE JUDGMENT APPEALED FROM, AS THE FINDINGS OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT WERE BASED ON A MISAPPREHENSION OF FACTS;
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN DECLARING THAT THE CITED DECISION IN SALUDARES VS. MARTINEZ, 29 SCRA 745, UPHOLDING THE LIABILITY OF AN EMPLOYER FOR ACTS COMMITTED BY AN EMPLOYEE IS APPLICABLE;
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN UPHOLDING THE DECISION OF THE LOWER COURT THAT HEREIN PETITIONER BANK IS JOINTLY AND SEVERALLY LIABLE WITH THE OTHER DEFENDANTS FOR THE AMOUNT OF P200,000.00 REPRESENTING THE SAVINGS ACCOUNT DEPOSIT, P50,000.00 FOR MORAL DAMAGES, P50,000.00 FOR EXEMPLARY DAMAGES, P40,000.00 FOR ATTORNEYS FEES AND THE COSTS OF SUIT.11cräläwvirtualibräry
Private respondent filed his Comment on September 23, 1994. Petitioner filed its Reply thereto on September 25, 1995. The Court then required private respondent to submit a rejoinder to the reply. However, said rejoinder was filed only on April 21, 1997, due to petitioners delay in furnishing private respondent with copy of the reply12 and several substitutions of counsel on the part of private respondent.13 On January 17, 2001, the Court resolved to give due course to the petition and required the parties to submit their respective memoranda.14 Petitioner filed its memorandum on April 16, 2001 while private respondent submitted his memorandum on March 22, 2001.
Petitioner contends that the transaction between private
respondent and Doronilla is a simple loan (mutuum)
since all the elements of a mutuum
are present: first, what was delivered by private respondent to Doronilla was
money, a consumable thing; and second, the transaction was onerous as Doronilla
was obliged to pay interest, as evidenced by the check issued by Doronilla in
the amount of
It argues further that petitioners Assistant Manager, Mr. Rufo
Atienza, could not be faulted for allowing Doronilla to withdraw from the
savings account of Sterela since the latter was the sole proprietor of said
Petitioner asserts that
Doronillas May 8, 1979 letter addressed to the bank, authorizing Mrs. Vives
and Sanchez to open a savings account for Sterela, did not contain any
authorization for these two to withdraw from said account.
Hence, the authority to withdraw therefrom
remained exclusively with Doronilla, who was the sole proprietor of Sterela,
and who alone had legal title to the savings account.17
Petitioner points out that no evidence other than the testimonies of private
respondent and Mrs. Vives was presented during trial to prove that private
respondent deposited his
Petitioner also asserts that the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the trial courts decision since the findings of fact therein were not accord with the evidence presented by petitioner during trial to prove that the transaction between private respondent and Doronilla was a mutuum, and that it committed no wrong in allowing Doronilla to withdraw from Sterelas savings account.19cräläwvirtualibräry
Finally, petitioner claims that since there is no wrongful act or omission on its part, it is not liable for the actual damages suffered by private respondent, and neither may it be held liable for moral and exemplary damages as well as attorneys fees.20cräläwvirtualibräry
Private respondent, on the other hand, argues that the
transaction between him and Doronilla is not a mutuum but an accommodation,21
since he did not actually part with the ownership of his
He likewise asserts that the trial court did not err in finding that petitioner, Atienzas employer, is liable for the return of his money. He insists that Atienza, petitioners assistant manager, connived with Doronilla in defrauding private respondent since it was Atienza who facilitated the opening of Sterelas current account three days after Mrs. Vives and Sanchez opened a savings account with petitioner for said company, as well as the approval of the authority to debit Sterelas savings account to cover any overdrawings in its current account.23cräläwvirtualibräry
There is no merit in the petition.
At the outset, it must be emphasized that only questions of law may be raised in a petition for review filed with this Court. The Court has repeatedly held that it is not its function to analyze and weigh all over again the evidence presented by the parties during trial.24 The Courts jurisdiction is in principle limited to reviewing errors of law that might have been committed by the Court of Appeals.25 Moreover, factual findings of courts, when adopted and confirmed by the Court of Appeals, are final and conclusive on this Court unless these findings are not supported by the evidence on record.26 There is no showing of any misapprehension of facts on the part of the Court of Appeals in the case at bar that would require this Court to review and overturn the factual findings of that court, especially since the conclusions of fact of the Court of Appeals and the trial court are not only consistent but are also amply supported by the evidence on record.
No error was committed by the Court of Appeals when it ruled that the transaction between private respondent and Doronilla was a commodatum and not a mutuum. A circumspect examination of the records reveals that the transaction between them was a commodatum. Article 1933 of the Civil Code distinguishes between the two kinds of loans in this wise:
By the contract of loan, one of the parties delivers to another, either something not consumable so that the latter may use the same for a certain time and return it, in which case the contract is called a commodatum; or money or other consumable thing, upon the condition that the same amount of the same kind and quality shall be paid, in which case the contract is simply called a loan or mutuum.
Commodatum is essentially gratuitous.
Simple loan may be gratuitous or with a stipulation to pay interest.
In commodatum, the bailor retains the ownership of the thing loaned, while in simple loan, ownership passes to the borrower.
The foregoing provision seems to imply that if the subject of the contract is a consumable thing, such as money, the contract would be a mutuum. However, there are some instances where a commodatum may have for its object a consumable thing. Article 1936 of the Civil Code provides:
Consumable goods may be the subject of commodatum if the purpose of the contract is not the consumption of the object, as when it is merely for exhibition.
Thus, if consumable goods are loaned only for purposes of exhibition, or when the intention of the parties is to lend consumable goods and to have the very same goods returned at the end of the period agreed upon, the loan is a commodatum and not a mutuum.
The rule is that the intention of the parties thereto shall be accorded primordial consideration in determining the actual character of a contract.27 In case of doubt, the contemporaneous and subsequent acts of the parties shall be considered in such determination.28cräläwvirtualibräry
As correctly pointed out by both the Court of Appeals and the trial court, the evidence shows that private respondent agreed to deposit his money in the savings account of Sterela specifically for the purpose of making it appear that said firm had sufficient capitalization for incorporation, with the promise that the amount shall be returned within thirty (30) days.29 Private respondent merely accommodated Doronilla by lending his money without consideration, as a favor to his good friend Sanchez. It was however clear to the parties to the transaction that the money would not be removed from Sterelas savings account and would be returned to private respondent after thirty (30) days.
Doronillas attempts to return to private respondent the amount
Neither does the Court agree with petitioners contention that it is not solidarily liable for the return of private respondents money because it was not privy to the transaction between Doronilla and private respondent. The nature of said transaction, that is, whether it is a mutuum or a commodatum, has no bearing on the question of petitioners liability for the return of private respondents money because the factual circumstances of the case clearly show that petitioner, through its employee Mr. Atienza, was partly responsible for the loss of private respondents money and is liable for its restitution.
Petitioners rules for savings deposits written on the passbook it issued Mrs. Vives on behalf of Sterela for Savings Account No. 10-1567 expressly states that
2. Deposits and withdrawals must be made by the depositor personally or upon his written authority duly authenticated, and neither a deposit nor a withdrawal will be permitted except upon the production of the depositor savings bank book in which will be entered by the Bank the amount deposited or withdrawn.30cräläwvirtualibräry
Said rule notwithstanding, Doronilla was permitted by petitioner, through Atienza, the Assistant Branch Manager for the Buendia Branch of petitioner, to withdraw therefrom even without presenting the passbook (which Atienza very well knew was in the possession of Mrs. Vives), not just once, but several times. Both the Court of Appeals and the trial court found that Atienza allowed said withdrawals because he was party to Doronillas scheme of defrauding private respondent:
X X X
But the scheme could not have been executed successfully without the knowledge, help and cooperation of Rufo Atienza, assistant manager and cashier of the Makati (Buendia) branch of the defendant bank. Indeed, the evidence indicates that Atienza had not only facilitated the commission of the fraud but he likewise helped in devising the means by which it can be done in such manner as to make it appear that the transaction was in accordance with banking procedure.
To begin with, the deposit was made in defendants Buendia branch
precisely because Atienza was a key officer therein. The records show that plaintiff had suggested that the
Then there is the matter of the ownership of the fund. Because of the coordination between Doronilla and Atienza, the latter knew before hand that the money deposited did not belong to Doronilla nor to Sterela. Aside from such foreknowledge, he was explicitly told by Inocencia Vives that the money belonged to her and her husband and the deposit was merely to accommodate Doronilla. Atienza even declared that the money came from Mrs. Vives.
Although the savings account was in the name of Sterela, the bank records disclose that the only ones empowered to withdraw the same were Inocencia Vives and Angeles B. Sanchez. In the signature card pertaining to this account (Exh. J), the authorized signatories were Inocencia Vives &/or Angeles B. Sanchez. Atienza stated that it is the usual banking procedure that withdrawals of savings deposits could only be made by persons whose authorized signatures are in the signature cards on file with the bank. He, however, said that this procedure was not followed here because Sterela was owned by Doronilla. He explained that Doronilla had the full authority to withdraw by virtue of such ownership. The Court is not inclined to agree with Atienza. In the first place, he was all the time aware that the money came from Vives and did not belong to Sterela. He was also told by Mrs. Vives that they were only accommodating Doronilla so that a certification can be issued to the effect that Sterela had a deposit of so much amount to be sued in the incorporation of the firm. In the second place, the signature of Doronilla was not authorized in so far as that account is concerned inasmuch as he had not signed the signature card provided by the bank whenever a deposit is opened. In the third place, neither Mrs. Vives nor Sanchez had given Doronilla the authority to withdraw.
Moreover, the transfer of fund was done without the passbook having been presented. It is an accepted practice that whenever a withdrawal is made in a savings deposit, the bank requires the presentation of the passbook. In this case, such recognized practice was dispensed with. The transfer from the savings account to the current account was without the submission of the passbook which Atienza had given to Mrs. Vives. Instead, it was made to appear in a certification signed by Estrella Dumagpi that a duplicate passbook was issued to Sterela because the original passbook had been surrendered to the Makati branch in view of a loan accommodation assigning the savings account (Exh. C). Atienza, who undoubtedly had a hand in the execution of this certification, was aware that the contents of the same are not true. He knew that the passbook was in the hands of Mrs. Vives for he was the one who gave it to her. Besides, as assistant manager of the branch and the bank official servicing the savings and current accounts in question, he also was aware that the original passbook was never surrendered. He was also cognizant that Estrella Dumagpi was not among those authorized to withdraw so her certification had no effect whatsoever.
The circumstance surrounding the opening of the current account
also demonstrate that Atienzas active participation in the perpetration of the
fraud and deception that caused the loss.
The records indicate that this account was opened three days later after
Clearly Atienza had committed wrongful acts that had resulted to the loss subject of this case. x x x.31cräläwvirtualibräry
Under Article 2180 of the Civil Code, employers shall be held primarily and solidarily liable for damages caused by their employees acting within the scope of their assigned tasks. To hold the employer liable under this provision, it must be shown that an employer-employee relationship exists, and that the employee was acting within the scope of his assigned task when the act complained of was committed.32 Case law in the United States of America has it that a corporation that entrusts a general duty to its employee is responsible to the injured party for damages flowing from the employees wrongful act done in the course of his general authority, even though in doing such act, the employee may have failed in its duty to the employer and disobeyed the latters instructions.33cräläwvirtualibräry
There is no dispute that Atienza was an employee of petitioner. Furthermore, petitioner did not deny that Atienza was acting within the scope of his authority as Assistant Branch Manager when he assisted Doronilla in withdrawing funds from Sterelas Savings Account No. 10-1567, in which account private respondents money was deposited, and in transferring the money withdrawn to Sterelas Current Account with petitioner. Atienzas acts of helping Doronilla, a customer of the petitioner, were obviously done in furtherance of petitioners interests34 even though in the process, Atienza violated some of petitioners rules such as those stipulated in its savings account passbook.35 It was established that the transfer of funds from Sterelas savings account to its current account could not have been accomplished by Doronilla without the invaluable assistance of Atienza, and that it was their connivance which was the cause of private respondents loss.
The foregoing shows that the Court of Appeals correctly held that
under Article 2180 of the Civil Code, petitioner is liable for private
respondents loss and is solidarily liable with Doronilla and Dumagpi for the
return of the
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. The assailed Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals are AFFIRMED.
Bellosillo, (Chairman), Mendoza, Quisumbing and Austria-Martinez, JJ., concur.
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