Monday, February 27, 2012

Perez and Republic Bank vs. Monetary Board [G.R. No. L-23307 June 30, 1967]

Facts: This action was instituted by Damaso Perez to compel the Monetary Board, the Superintendent of Banks, the Central Bank and the Secretary of Justice to prosecute, among others, Pablo Roman and several other Republic Bank officials for violations of the General Banking Act (Secs. 76-78 & 83) and the Central Bank Act, and for falsification of public or commercial documents in connection with certain alleged anomalous loans amounting to P1,303,400 authorized by Roman and the other bank officials. 

The respondents assailed, in their respective answers, the propriety of mandamus. 

(a) The Secretary of Justice claimed that it was not their specific duty to prosecute the persons denounced by Perez. 

(b) The Central Bank and its respondent officials, averred that they had already done their duty under the law by referring to the special prosecutors of the Department of Justice for criminal investigation and prosecution those cases involving the alleged anomalous loans. 

On January 20, 1964, the Monetary Board of the Central Bank passed Resolution No. 81 granting the request of Republic Bank (intervenor) for credit accommodations to cover the unusual withdrawal of deposits by its depositors in view of the fact that said Bank was under investigation then by the authorities. The grant, was conditioned upon the execution of a voting trust agreement in favor of a Board of Trustees to be chosen by the latter with the approval of the Central Bank. Thus, Pablo Roman and his family (the controlling stockholders of Republic Bank) then executed a voting trust agreement, which was then superseded by another one with the Philippine National Bank as the trustee. In view of these developments, the intervenors-appellees filed a motion to dismiss before the lower court claiming that the ouster of Pablo Roman and his family from the management of the Republic Bank effected by the voting trust agreement rendered the mandamus case moot and academic. Respondents-appellees also filed motion to dismiss in which they again raised the impropriety of mandamus. Acting upon the two motions and the oppositions thereto filed by petitioners, the lower court granted the motions and dismissed the case. Hence, this appeal. 

Issue: Whether or not the ouster of Pablo Roman from Republic Bank’s management and control renders moot the issues in the case, and that the remedy of mandamus should lie. 

Held: NO. Damaso Perez and Republic Bank cannot seek by mandamus to compel respondents to prosecute criminally those alleged violators of the banking laws. The remedy of mandamus is improper. 

Although the Central Bank and its respondent officials may have the duty under the Central Bank Act and the General Banking Act to cause the prosecution of those alleged violators, yet nothing in said laws that imposes a clear, specific duty on the former to do the actual prosecution of the latter. 

The Central Bank is a government corporation created principally to administer the monetary and banking system of the Republic, it is not a prosecution agency like the fiscal's office. Being an artificial person, The Central Bank is limited to its statutory powers and the nearest power to which prosecution of violators of banking laws may be attributed is its power to sue and be sued. But this corporate power of litigation evidently refers to civil cases only. 

The Central Bank and its respondent officials have already done all they could, within the confines of their powers, to cause the prosecution of those persons denounced by Perez. Annexes show that the cases of the alleged anomalous loans had already been referred by the Central Bank to the special prosecutors of the Department of Justice for criminal investigation and prosecution. For respondents to do the actual prosecuting themselves, as petitioners would have it, would be tantamount to an ultra vires act already. 

As for the Secretary of Justice, while he may have the power to prosecute — through the office of the Solicitor General — criminal cases, yet it is settled rule that mandamus will not lie to compel a prosecuting officer to prosecute a criminal case in court. 

Moreover, it does not appear from the law that only the Central Bank or its respondent officials can cause the prosecution of alleged violations of banking laws. Said violations constitute a public offense, the prosecution of which is a matter of public interest and hence, anyone — even private individuals — can denounce such violations before the prosecuting authorities. Since Perez himself could cause the filing of criminal complaints against those allegedly involved in the anomalous loans, if any, then he has a plain, adequate and speedy remedy in the ordinary course of law, which makes mandamus against respondents improper.

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