Ex-PBA player wins case vs sports columnist

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MANILA, 23July2014 (PNA) — Former Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) player and San Mig Coffee Mixers head manager Alvin Patrimonio has won a case against sports columnist Napoleon Gutierrez filed in 1994.

In a ruling, the SC’s Second Division granted Patrimonio’s petition for review on certiorari against the ruling of the Court of Appeals (CA) upholding the decision of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 77 that dismissed the complaint for declaration of nullity of loan filed by the petitioner and ordered him to pay respondent Octavio Marasigan III the sum of P200,000.

“Wherefore, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered granting (Patrimonio’s) petition for review on certiorari. The appealed Decision dated September 24, 2008 and the Resolution dated April 30, 2009 of the Court of Appeals are consequently annulled and set aside. Costs against the respondents,” the SC ruling said.

Gutierrez entered into a business venture under the name of Slam Dunk Corporation (Slam Dunk), a production outfit that produced mini-concerts and shows related to basketball.

Patrimonio was already then a decorated professional basketball player while Gutierrez was a well-known sports columnist.

In the course of their business, Patrimonio pre-signed several checks to answer for the expenses of Slam Dunk.

Although signed, these checks had no payee’s name, date or amount.

The blank checks were entrusted to Gutierrez with the specific instruction not to fill them out without previous notification to and approval by Patrimonio.

According to Patrimonio, the arrangement was made so that he could verify the validity of the payment and make the proper arrangements to fund the account.

In the middle of 1993, without Patrimonio’s knowledge and consent, Gutierrez went to Marasigan, to secure a loan in the amount of P200,000 on the excuse that the petitioner needed the money for the construction of his house.

In addition to the payment of the principal, Gutierrez assured Marasigan that he would be paid an interest of 5 percent per month from March to May 1994.

After much contemplation and taking into account his relationship with Patrimonio and Gutierrez, Marasigan acceded to Gutierrez’s request and gave him the amount sometime in February 1994.

Gutierrez simultaneously delivered to Marasigan one of the blank checks Patrimonio pre-signed with Pilipinas Bank with the blank portions filled out with the words “Cash” “Two Hundred Thousand Pesos Only”, and the amount of “P200,000.00”.

The upper right portion of the check corresponding to the date was also filled out with the words “May 23, 1994” but Patrimonio contended that the same was not written by Gutierrez.

Marasigan deposited the check on May 24, 1994 but it was dishonored for the reason “account closed.”

It was later found that petitioner’s account with the bank had been closed since May 28, 1993.

Marasigan sought recovery from Gutierrez, to no avail.

He thereafter sent several demand letters to the petitioner asking for the payment of P200,000 but his demands also went unheeded.

Consequently, he filed a criminal case for violation of Batas Pambansa No. 22 or the “Anti-Bouncing Check Law”, against Patrimonio.

Patrimonio completely denied authorizing the loan or the check’s negotiation, and asserted that he was not privy to the parties’ loan agreement.

After his case with the lower court, Patrimonio went to the CA until it reached the SC.

In the decision, the SC said that the petition is impressed with merit.

“The contract of loan entered into by Gutierrez in behalf of the petitioner (Patrimonio) should be nullified for being void; petitioner is not bound by the contract of loan,” the SC said.

“A review of the records reveals that Gutierrez did not have any authority to borrow money in behalf of the petitioner. Records do not show that the petitioner executed any special power of attorney (SPA) in favor of Gutierrez. In fact, the petitioner’s testimony confirmed that he never authorized Gutierrez (or anyone for that matter), whether verbally or in writing, to borrow money in his behalf, nor was he aware of any such transaction.”

Because of this, the SC said, in the absence of any authorization, “Gutierrez could not enter into a contract of loan in behalf of the petitioner.”

The High Court cited the case of Yasuma v. Heirs of De Villa, involving a loan contracted by De Villa secured by real estate mortgages in the name of East Cordillera Mining Corporation.

“In the absence of any showing of any agency relations or special authority to act for and in behalf of the petitioner, the loan agreement Gutierrez entered into with Marasigan is null and void. Thus, the petitioner is not bound by the parties’ loan agreement,” the SC said.

“Furthermore, that the petitioner entrusted the blank pre-signed checks to Gutierrez is not legally sufficient because the authority to enter into a loan can never be presumed. The contract of agency and the special fiduciary relationship inherent in this contract must exist as a matter of fact,” it added.

“The person alleging it has the burden of proof to show, not only the fact of agency, but also its nature and extent,” the SC said. (PNA)

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