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How Negotiability is Determined?
Caltex (Philippines) vs CA
212 SCRA 448
August 10, 1992
On various dates, defendant, a commercial banking institution, through its Sucat Branch issued 280 certificates of time deposit (CTDs) in favor of one Angel dela Cruz who is tasked to deposit aggregate amounts.
One time Mr. dela Cruz delivered the CTDs to Caltex Philippines in connection with his purchased of fuel products from the latter. However, Sometime in March 1982, he informed Mr. Timoteo Tiangco, the Sucat Branch Manger, that he lost all the certificates of time deposit in dispute. Mr. Tiangco advised said depositor to execute and submit a notarized Affidavit of Loss, as required by defendant bank's procedure, if he desired replacement of said lost CTDs.
Angel dela Cruz negotiated and obtained a loan from defendant bank and executed a notarized Deed of Assignment of Time Deposit, which stated, among others, that he surrenders to defendant bank "full control of the indicated time deposits from and after date" of the assignment and further authorizes said bank to pre-terminate, set-off and "apply the said time deposits to the payment of whatever amount or amounts may be due" on the loan upon its maturity.
In 1982, Mr. Aranas, Credit Manager of plaintiff Caltex (Phils.) Inc., went to the defendant bank's Sucat branch and presented for verification the CTDs declared lost by Angel dela Cruz alleging that the same were delivered to herein plaintiff "as security for purchases made with Caltex Philippines, Inc." by said depositor.
Mr dela Cruz received a letter from the plaintiff formally informing of its possession of the CTDs in question and of its decision to pre-terminate the same. ccordingly, defendant bank rejected the plaintiff's demand and claim for payment of the value of the CTDs in a letter dated February 7, 1983.
The loan of Angel dela Cruz with the defendant bank matured and fell due and on August 5, 1983, the latter set-off and applied the time deposits in question to the payment of the matured loan. However, the plaintiff filed the instant complaint, praying that defendant bank be ordered to pay it the aggregate value of the certificates of time deposit of P1,120,000.00 plus accrued interest and compounded interest therein at 16% per annum, moral and exemplary damages as well as attorney's fees.
On appeal, CA affirmed the lower court's dismissal of the complaint, and ruled (1) that the subject certificates of deposit are non-negotiable despite being clearly negotiable instruments; (2) that petitioner did not become a holder in due course of the said certificates of deposit; and (3) in disregarding the pertinent provisions of the Code of Commerce relating to lost instruments payable to bearer.
a) Whether certificates of time deposit (CTDs) are negotiable instruments?
b) Is the depositor also the bearer of the document?
c) Whether petitioner can rightfully recover on the CTDs?
The CTDs in question are not negotiable instruments. Section 1 Act No. 2031, otherwise known as the Negotiable Instruments Law, enumerates the requisites for an instrument to become negotiable, viz:
(a) It must be in writing and signed by the maker or drawer;
(b) Must contain an unconditional promise or order to pay a sum certain in money;
(c) Must be payable on demand, or at a fixed or determinable future time;
(d) Must be payable to order or to bearer; and
(e) Where the instrument is addressed to a drawee, he must be named or otherwise indicated therein with reasonable certainty.
The accepted rule is that the negotiability or non-negotiability of an instrument is determined from the writing, that is, from the face of the instrument itself. In the construction of a bill or note, the intention of the parties is to control, if it can be legally ascertained. While the writing may be read in the light of surrounding circumstances in order to more perfectly understand the intent and meaning of the parties, yet as they have constituted the writing to be the only outward and visible expression of their meaning, no other words are to be added to it or substituted in its stead. The duty of the court in such case is to ascertain, not what the parties may have secretly intended as contradistinguished from what their words express, but what is the meaning of the words they have used. What the parties meant must be determined by what they said.
Petitioner's insistence that the CTDs were negotiated to it begs the question. Under the Negotiable Instruments Law, an instrument is negotiated when it is transferred from one person to another in such a manner as to constitute the transferee the holder thereof, and a holder may be the payee or indorsee of a bill or note, who is in possession of it, or the bearer thereof. In the present case, however, there was no negotiation in the sense of a transfer of the legal title to the CTDs in favor of petitioner in which situation, for obvious reasons, mere delivery of the bearer CTDs would have sufficed. Here, the delivery thereof only as security for the purchases of Angel de la Cruz (and we even disregard the fact that the amount involved was not disclosed) could at the most constitute petitioner only as a holder for value by reason of his lien. Accordingly, a negotiation for such purpose cannot be effected by mere delivery of the instrument since, necessarily, the terms thereof and the subsequent disposition of such security, in the event of non-payment of the principal obligation, must be contractually provided for.