PHILIPPINE NATIONAL BANK v. BITULOK SAWMILL INC.
G.R. Nos. L-24177-85, June 29, 1968
Corporation Law Case Digest by John Paul C. Ladiao (15 March 2016)
(Topic: Trust Fund Doctrine)
The Philippine Lumber Distributing Agency, Inc., according to the lower court, "was organized sometime in the early part of 1947 upon the initiative and insistence of the late President Manuel Roxas of the Republic of the Philippines who for the purpose, had called several conferences between him and the subscribers and organizers of the Philippine Lumber Distributing Agency, Inc." 5 The purpose was praiseworthy, to insure a steady supply of lumber, which could be sold at reasonable prices to enable the war sufferers to rehabilitate their devastated homes. The decision continues: "He convinced the lumber producers to form a lumber cooperative and to pool their sources together in order to wrest, particularly, the retail trade from aliens who were acting as middlemen in the distribution of lumber. At the beginning, the lumber producers were reluctant to organize the cooperative agency as they believed that it would not be easy to eliminate from the retail trade the alien middlemen who had been in this business from time immemorial, but because the late President Roxas made it clear that such a cooperative agency would not be successful without a substantial working capital which the lumber producers could not entirely shoulder, and as an inducement he promised and agreed to finance the agency by making the Government invest P9.00 by way of counterpart for every peso that the members would invest therein,...."
Accordingly, "the late President Roxas instructed the Hon. Emilio Abello, then Executive Secretary and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Philippine National Bank, for the latter to grant said agency an overdraft in the original sum of P250,000.00 which was later increased to P350,000.00, which was approved by said Board of Directors of the Philippine National Bank on July 28, 1947, payable on or before April 30, 1958, with interest at the rate of 6% per annum, and secured by the chattel mortgages on the stock of lumber of said agency." 7 The Philippine Government did not invest the P9.00 for every peso coming from defendant lumber producers. The loan extended to the Philippine Lumber Distributing Agency by the Philippine National Bank was not paid. Hence, these suits.
Whether or not the non-compliance with a plain statutory command, considering the persuasiveness of the plea that defendants-appellees would "not have subscribed to [the] capital stock" of the Philippine Lumber Distributing Agency "were it not for the assurance of the [then] President of the Republic of the Philippines that the Government would back [it] up by investing P9.00 for every peso" 4 subscribed, a condition which was not fulfilled, such commitment not having been complied with, be justified?
It would be unwarranted to ascribe to the late President Roxas the view that the payment of the stock subscriptions, as thus required by law, could be condoned in the event that the counterpart fund to be invested by the Government would not be available. Even if such were the case, however, and such a promise were in fact made, to further the laudable purpose to which the proposed corporation would be devoted and the possibility that the lumber producers would lose money in the process, still the plain and specific wording of the applicable legal provision as interpreted by this Court must be controlling. It is a well-settled principle that with all the vast powers lodged in the Executive, he is still devoid of the prerogative of suspending the operation of any statute or any of its terms.