Lucman v. Malawi (G.R. No. 159794)

Facts:

Respondents were the incumbent barangay chairmen of their respective barangays prior to the May 1997 barangay elections. The May 1997 failed barangay elections resulted to a special election which likewise failed. Consequently, respondents remained in office in a holdover capacity. Then, LBP was selected as the government depositary bank for the IRAs of the barangays headed by respondents. Respondents had to open new accounts in behalf of their government units with the proper LBP branch to withdraw their IRAs but were refused by petitioner unless the requirements were met Respondents were eventually allowed to open but were not allowed to withdraw the IRA funds in the absence of the requisite Accountant’s advice. Thereafter, some other persons presented themselves before petitioner as the new barangays and to them, petitioner released the IRA funds. Respondents moved to compel petitioner to release to them the IRA funds. RTC and CA ruled in favor of respondents.

Issue:

Whether or not respondents have no legal personality to institute the petition for mandamus in their own names since the IRAs rightfully belong to the respective barangays and not to them.

Ruling:

By virtue of the deposits, there exists between the barangays as depositors and LBP a creditor-debtor relationship. Fixed, savings, and current deposits of money in banks and similar institutions are governed by the provisions concerning simple loan. In other words, the barangays are the lenders while the bank is the borrower.

This Court elucidated on the matter in Guingona, Jr., et al. v. The City Fiscal of Manila, et al., citing Serrano v. Central Bank of the Philippines, thus:

Bank deposits are in the nature of irregular deposits. They are really loans because they earn interest. All kinds of bank deposits, whether fixed, savings, or current are to be treated as loans and are to be covered by the law on loans (Art. 1980, Civil Code; Gullas v. Phil. National Bank, 62 Phil. 519). Current and savings deposits are loans to a bank because it can use the same. The petitioner here in making time deposits that earn interest with respondent Overseas Bank of Manila was in reality a creditor of the respondent Bank and not a depositor. The respondent Bank was in turn a debtor of petitioner. Failure of the respondent Bank to honor the time deposit is failure to pay its obligation as a debtor and not a breach of trust arising from a depository’s failure to return the subject matter of the deposit.

The relationship being contractual in nature, mandamus is therefore not an available remedy since mandamus does not lie to enforce the performance of contractual obligations.

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