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MWSS vs. CA, (GR L62943, 14 July 1986)
PNB is the depository bank of MWSS. Among the several accounts of NWSA with PNB is NWSA Account No. 6. The authorized signature for said Account No. 6 were those of MWSS treasurer Jose Sanchez, its auditor Pedro Aguilar, and its acting General Manager Victor L. Recio. Their respective specimen signatures were submitted by the MWSS to and on file with the PNB. By special arrangement with the PNB, the MWSS used personalized checks in drawing from this account.
During the months of March, April and May 1969, two (2) sets of twenty-three (23) checks bearing same numbers as the other checks were paid and cleared by PNB and debited against NWSA Account No. 6.
The 1 set of these 23 checks were deposited by the payees Raul Dizon, Arturo Sison and Antonio Mendoza in their respective current accounts with the Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank (PCIB) and Philippine Bank of Commerce (PBC) in the months of March, April and May 1969. Thru the Central Bank Clearing, these checks were presented for payment by PBC and PCIB to the defendant PNB, and paid, also in the months of March, April and May 1969. At the time of their presentation to PNB these checks bear the standard indorsement which reads 'all prior indorsement and/or lack of endorsement guaranteed.'
Subsequent investigation however, conducted by the NBI showed that Raul Dizon, Arturo Sison and Antonio Mendoza were all fictitious persons.
NWSA addressed a letter to PNB requesting the immediate restoration to its Account No. 6, of the total sum of P3,457,903.00 corresponding to the total amount of these twenty-three (23) checks and sets up the defense of forgery against PNB.
The CFI of Manila resolved the complaint in favor of the plaintiff MWSS. The CA reversed the decision of the CFI of Manila.
Whether or not petitioner is barred from setting up the defense of forgery on the ground of gross negligence
Forgery cannot be presumed. It must be established by clear, positive, and convincing evidence. This was not done in the present case.
Considering the absence of sufficient security in the printing of the checks coupled with the very close similarities between the genuine signatures and the alleged forgeries, the twenty-three (23) checks in question could have been presented to the petitioner's signatories without their knowing that they were bogus checks. Indeed, the cashier of the petitioner whose signatures were allegedly forged was unable to ten the difference between the allegedly forged signature and his own genuine signature. On the other hand, the MWSS officials admitted that these checks could easily be passed on as genuine.
Moreover, the petitioner is barred from setting up the defense of forgery under Section 23 of the Negotiable Instruments Law which provides that:
SEC. 23. FORGED SIGNATURE; EFFECT OF.- When the signature is forged or made without authority of the person whose signature it purports to be, it is wholly inoperative, and no right to retain the instrument, or to give a discharge therefor, or to enforce payment thereof against any party thereto can be acquired through or under such signature unless the party against whom it is sought to enforce such right is precluded from setting up the forgery or want of authority.
because it was guilty of negligence not only before the questioned checks were negotiated but even after the same had already been negotiated.. The records show that at the time the twenty-three (23) checks were prepared, negotiated, and encashed, the petitioner was using its own personalized checks, instead of the official PNB Commercial blank checks. In the exercise of this special privilege, however, the petitioner failed to provide the needed security measures. That there was gross negligence in the printing of its personalized checks. And failure of the petitioner to reconcile the bank statements with its own records.