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Francisco v.

CA, 122 SCRA 538 [1983]


Crim Pro -Rule 110
Facts:
On February 6, 1966, Dr. Patrocinio Angeles, who was then the Director of the Morong
Emergency Hospital, filed a case for intriguing against honor allegedly committed on
December 26, 1965 by Dr. Emiliano and Atty. Harry Bernardino. On May 3, 1966, the
Provincial Fiscal filed an information against Francisco and Bernardino with the CFI of
Rizal of the crime of grave oral defamation. Later, upon order of the court, the
information was amended by adding statements allegedly uttered by the two accused
constituting the crime of slander.
On Feb. 1, 1973, the trial court convicted Francisco and Bernardino of the crime
of grave oral defamation and sentenced each of them the penalty of arresto mayor and
was made to pay the complainant P10,000. Upon appeal in the Court of Appeals, the
trial court's decision was modified finding the accused guilty of simple slander.
Bernardino passed away while this petition was instituted in the Supreme Court.
Francisco, then argues that since the CA had found that the offense committed was the
lesser offense of simple slander, which under Art. 90 of the RPC, prescribes in two
months,
the
CA
should
have
dismissed
the
case.
Further, Francisco claims that the CA should have acquitted him on the ground that
the said crime had already prescribed as per evidence presented, the alleged defamatory
remarks were committed on December 26, 1965, while the information charged against
him was filed more than four months later.
The Solicitor General, however, contends that "for the purpose of determining
the proper prescriptive period, what should be considered is the nature of the offense
charged in the information which is grave oral defamation, not the crime committed by
the accused, as said crime was found by the Court to constitute only simple slander".
Since the prescription for grave oral defamation is six months, the crime has not yet
prescribed when it the information was filed. Moreover, the Solicitor General argues that
the filing of the complaint in the Fiscal's office interrupts the period of prescription. Only
39 days had passed from the time the offense was allegedly committed to the day of the
filing of the complaint.
Issues: Whether or not the crime of simple slander found by the CA to be the offense
committed by the petitioners has prescribed.
Whether or not the filing of a complaint in the Fiscal's office interrupts the prescription of
an offense.
Held.
1. Yes. An accused cannot be convicted for the lesser offense necessarily included in the
crime charged if at the time of the filing of the information, the lesser offense has
already prescribed. To hold otherwise, according to the Court, would be to sanction a
circumvention of the law on prescription by the simple expedient of accusing the
defendant of the graver offense.
2. Yes. Prescription is interrupted with the filing of the case even if the court is without
jurisdiction, even if it be merely for purposes of preliminary examination or investigation.
Thus, the filing of the complaint in the Fiscal's office interrupts the period of prescription.