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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Will a person be imprisoned for non-payment of debt?


"Utang" has become a part of tradition or part of the life of many Filipinos. Sometimes because of unpaid debts, many friendship has broken and many families argue for a decade. There are neighbors too that become cold to each other because of "utang". Worse than this, there are people who threatened to file a case because of their failure to pay.  Have you experienced being threatened like this and afraid that you might go to jail because of your unpaid debts?  But if you read the Philippine Constitution, the basic principle is no one can be imprisoned simply because of debt.




(Watch:Bisig ng Batas: May nakukulong ba dahil sa hindi pagbayad sa mga utang?)

"Utang" has become a part of tradition or part of the life of many Filipinos. Sometimes because of unpaid debts, many friendship has broken and many families argue for a decade. There are neighbors too that become cold to each other because of "utang". Worse than this, there are people who threatened to file a case because of their failure to pay.

Have you experienced being threatened like this and afraid that you might go to jail because of your unpaid debts?

But if you read the Philippine Constitution, the basic principle is no one can be imprisoned simply because of debt.



(Watch:Walang nakukulong sa utang)

It stated in the Bill of Rights or Article III Section 20 of the 1987 Constitution that says "No person shall be imprisoned for debt or non-payment of a poll tax."


The logical basis of this or the rationale for this prohibition is explained in the case of Lozano vs. Martinez, (the following paragraph is taken from (Jlp-law, com)


(Watch:Bisig ng Batas: Makukulong ba ang isang tao kung hindi nakabayad sa utang?)

. . . Viewed in its historical context, the constitutional prohibition against imprisonment for debt is a safeguard that evolved gradually during the early part of the nineteenth century in the various states of the American Union as a result of the people’s revulsion at the cruel and inhumane practice, sanctioned by common law, which permitted creditors to cause the incarceration of debtors who could not pay their debts. At common law, money judgments arising from actions for the recovery of a debt or for damages from breach of a contract could be enforced against the person or body of the debtor by writ of capias ad zatis faciendum. By means of this writ, a debtor could be seized and imprisoned at the instance of the creditor until he makes the satisfaction awarded. As a consequence of the popular groundswell against such a barbarous practice, provisions forbidding imprisonment for debt came to be generally enshrined in the constitutions of various states of the Union.

This humanitarian provision was transported to our shores by the Americans at the turn of the century and embodied in our organic laws. Later, our fundamental law outlawed not the only imprisonment for debt but also the infamous practice, native to our shore, of throwing people in jail for non-payment of the cedula or poll tax.


(Watch: Paano Makabayad Sa Pagkaka-Utang | How To Pay Off Debt)



BOUNCING CHECKS. Certain laws, including Bouncing Checks Law (BP 22), have been questioned as a violation of this right. However, it’s not the non-payment of an obligation which this law punishes. The law isn’t designed to coerce a debtor to pay his debt. The thrust of the law is to prohibit, under pain of penal sanctions, the making of worthless checks and putting them in circulation. (Lozano vs. Martinez)

TRUST RECEIPTS.  The same argument was raised against the Trust Receipts Law (PD 115), which is a declaration by the legislative authority that, as a matter of public policy, the failure of a person to turn over the proceeds of the sale of goods covered by a trust receipt or to return said goods if not sold is a public nuisance to be abated by the imposition of penal sanctions. It punishes the dishonesty and abuse of confidence in the handling of money or goods to the prejudice of another. The law does not seek to enforce payment of a loan. (Tiomico vs. CA)

CREDIT CARDS. Under the Access Devices Regulation Act of 1998 (RA. 8484), anyone who obtains “money or anything of value through the use of an access device, with intent to defraud or with intent to gain and fleeing thereafter” is criminally liable, punishable with a fine and imprisonment. That law also provides that a cardholder who abandons or surreptitiously leaves the place of employment, business or residence stated in his application or credit card, without informing the credit card company of the place where he could actually be found, if at the time of such abandonment or surreptitious leaving, the outstanding and unpaid balance is past due for at least 90 days and is more than P10,000.00, shall be prima facie presumed to have used his credit card with intent to defraud.”



So it is clear that no one could be compelled to pay a debt under pain of criminal sanctions and no one could also substitute they payment of debt through imprisonment or other criminal penalties.

Note: Estafa and Subsidiary imprisonment are different matter.


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