245 SCRA 374



Sesbreno filed a case against Mabanto Jr. among other people wherein the court  decided  in  favor  of  the  plaintiff,  ordering  the  defendants  to  pay former  a  definite  amount  of  cash.    The  decision  had  become  final  and executory and a writ of execution was issued.  This was questioned in the CA  by  the  defendants.    In  the  meanwhile,  a  notice  of  garnishment  was issued  to  petitioner  who  was  then  the  City  Fiscal.    She  was  asked  to withhold  any  check  or  whatnot  in  favor  of  Mabanto  Jr.    The  CA  then dismissed  the  defendant’s  petition  and  the  garnishment  was  commenced only to find out that petitioner didn't follow instructions of sheriff.  She is now being held liable.


Garnishment  is  considered  as  the  species  of  attachment  for  reaching credits belonging to the judgment debtor owing to him from a stranger in litigation.  Emphasis is laid on the phrase belonging to the judgment debtor since it is the focal point of resolving the issues raised.
As  Assistant  City  Fiscal,  the  source  of  Mabanto’s  salary  is  public  funds.  Under Section 16 of the NIL, every contract on a negotiable instrument is incomplete and revocable until delivery of the instrument for the purpose of  giving  effect  thereto.    As  ordinarily  understood,  delivery  means  the transfer of the possession of the instrument by the maker or drawer with intent  to  transfer  title  to  the  payee  and  recognize  him  as  the  holder thereof.
The  petitioner  is  the  custodian  of  the  checks.    Inasmuch  as  said  checks were  in  the  custody  of  the  petitioner  and  not  yet  delivered  to  Mabanto, they didn't belong to him and still had the character of public funds.   The salary  check  of  a  government  officer  or  employee  doesn't  belong  to  him
before  it  has  been  physically  delivered  to  him.   Until  that time  the  check belongs to the government.  Accordingly, before there is actual delivery of the check, the payee has no power over it, he cannot assign it without the consent of the government.
*If  public funds  would be  allowed  to  be garnished,  then  basic  services  of the government may be hampered.