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G.R. No. 173780. March 21, 2011SERENO, J.: 


·         Petitioner Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company (Metrobank) is a banking corporation. On the other hand, respondent Marina Custodio is a bank teller employed at the Laoag City branch of petitioner Metrobank.
·         a cash transfer of two hundred thousand pesos (PhP200,000) was made from Teller No. 1 to respondent Custodio. (needs money, maybe to pay for the withdrawal.")
·         Respondent Custodio was reported to have taken her lunch break alone and returned to work thereafter
·         security guard (jara) testified that respondent went out for lunch alone and as carrying a shoulder bag and a paper bag.He, however, did not check the contents of the bags carried by respondent.
·         respondent Custodio balanced her transactions for the day and turned over the funds to the bank’s cash custodian, Ms. Marinel Castro, in the amount of two million one hundred thirteen thousand five hundred pesos (PhP2,113,500). Ms. Marinel Castro acknowledged receipt of the bundled cash turned over and signed a Cash Transfer Slip.
·         Castro discovered that there was a shortage amounting to PhP600,000.
·         600k was never been found.
·         Respondent Custodio was allowed to continue to render services 
·         NBI conducted polygraph tests to all employees except to the Respondents due to pregnancy.
·         Metrobank files a case against the respondets.
·         RTC for Metrobank
·         CA for Respondent


            Whether the Respondent Custodio should be held liable, re: the establishment of similar acts (Cubao and Laoag City branch) (Propensity of Evidence)

Best Evidence –

The issue of respondent Custodio’s civil liability for the cash shortage turns on whether she is the proximate or direct cause of the loss. There is nothing on record that will show that there were any missing bundles of one-thousand-peso and five-hundred-peso bills when respondent Custodio turned over the funds to the cash custodian, Ms. Marinel Castro. As the appellate court correctly found, the Cash Transfer Slip was the best evidence that respondent Custodio had properly turned over the amounts in her care, and that the cash custodian received them without any shortage.
Although the Cash Transfer Slip was not introduced in evidence, Ms. Castro admitted having signed it. Had there been any cash shortage at that point, then the cash custodian could have refused to sign the Cash Transfer Slip, and respondent Custodio could have been required to account for any missing funds. However, having acknowledged receipt of the funds from respondent, it is reasonably presumed that Ms. Castro found nothing out of order in respondent’s records of cash transactions and the amounts transferred.
Petitioner Metrobank admits the existence of the cash transfer slip and the custodian’s signature thereon. It reasons, though, that it was not unusual for the custodian to sign the slip without counting the money, since she trusted her co-employees. Petitioner seeks to impress upon this Court that the custodian’s negligence was in good faith and should not exonerate respondent Custodio from the cash shortage.

As the Court of Appeals correctly surmised, Ms. Castro’s procedural lapse in trusting her co-employees by automatically signing the cash transfer slip without ensuring its correctness contributed significantly to the loss of the bank’s money.The proper accounting of funds through the cash transfer slip was precisely instituted as a safety mechanism to trace the flow of money from one employee to another. Specifically, the cash transfer slip was meant to ensure that the tellers had properly counted the money that they turned over to the cash custodian.If Ms. Castro, as cash custodian, had not been remiss in her responsibilities, petitioner Metrobank would have been able to identify who among the tellers failed to turn over the proper amount as reflected in the Cash Transfer Slip. The cash custodian is not to be admonished for reposing her trust in her co-employees; nonetheless, she was negligent, insofar as ignoring established bank procedures meant to prevent loss, especially when one of her co-employees had broken that trust.

When evidence of similar acts or previous conduct is admissible.

Moreover, the circumstances surrounding the discovery of these bill wrappers by petitioner Metrobank remain unclear. Despite the bank manager’s instructions and the bank employees’ efforts in conducting a thorough search for the missing cash bundles, neither the money nor the bill wrappers were found on the day of the cash shortage. The cash custodian who identified these bill wrappers did not explain how she came to discover them.
In addition, respondent Custodio was never confronted with these wrappers when the cash shortage was discovered. Neither were the wrappers presented to her when the bank’s investigators conducted a one-on-one meeting with the employees two days after the incident. Not even a report by the investigation team of petitioner Metrobank regarding the incident was submitted to show when the bill wrappers were discovered, or when respondent Custodio was suspected of taking the money.
It appears highly unlikely that respondent Custodio would be able to cart away several bundles of cash without being detected at all, only to carelessly leave the purported wrappers of the stolen cash, wrappers stamped with marks that might lead to her identity. The sudden appearance of these bill wrappers begs the question as to where and when they were discovered by petitioner Metrobank. If these empty bill wrappers were allegedly found to be under the account of respondent Custodio soon after the cash shortage was discovered, then there was no reason for petitioner Metrobank to have allowed her to continue with her duties in handling bank funds. Yet, respondent Custodio was subsequently permitted to report for work after the incident until 23 June 1995.
Contrary to the bank’s assertions in the Complaint, respondent Custodio was never asked to account for and/or turn over the missing money. Neither did the bank, prior to the service of the summons and the complaint, demand that she return the money. Respondent Custodio was only informed that she was accused of stealing the missing funds when the summons was served upon her on 23 June 1995. Indeed, after the discovery of the cash shortage, every employee was held suspect,and respondent was never singled out for the loss until petitioner bank filed the Complaint with the trial court.
Petitioner Metrobank also argues that respondent Custodio’s prior involvement in a cash shortage in its Cubao branch is admissible as evidence to prove a scheme or habit on her part.

·                      The general evidentiary rule is that evidence that one did or did not do a certain thing at one time is not admissible to prove that one did or did not do the same or a similar thing at another time. However, evidence of similar acts may be received to prove a specific intent or knowledge, identity, plan system, scheme, habit, custom or usage and the like.In Citibank N.A., (Formerly First National City Bank) v. Sabeniano, the Court explained the rationale for this rule:
·                        The rule is founded upon reason, public policy, justice and judicial convenience. The fact that a person has committed the same or similar acts at some prior time affords, as a general rule, no logical guaranty that he committed the act in question. This is so because, subjectively, a man's mind and even his modes of life may change; and, objectively, the conditions under which he may find himself at a given time may likewise change and thus induce him to act in a different way. Besides, if evidence of similar acts are to be invariably admitted, they will give rise to a multiplicity of collateral issues and will subject the defendant to surprise as well as confuse the court and prolong the trial.

Although the previous cash shortage in Cubao could possibly shed light on the intent, scheme or habit of respondent Custodio, that previous cash shortage is not sufficient to affirm a definitive finding of fact that she took the funds in the Laoag City branch. If the prior cash shortage in Cubao showed a reasonable intent or habit on the part of respondent, then there was no reason for petitioner Metrobank to continue to employ her, considering the degree of trust and confidence required of a bank teller. Nevertheless, respondent Custodio continued to serve the bank even after the case in petitioner Metrobank’s Cubao branch. Her continued employment was an affirmation that she was still worthy of the bank’s trust, insofar as she was allowed to continue to handle sums of money in the Laoag City branch.

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