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[G.R. No. 149472.

October 15, 2002]

JORGE
SALAZAR, petitioner,
PHILIPPINES, respondent.

vs.

PEOPLE

OF

THE

DECISION
PUNO, J.:

In an information dated January 21, 1987, petitioner Jorge Salazar was


charged with estafa under Article 315 paragraph 1(b) of the Revised Penal
Code. The information reads:
That on or about the 10 date of January 1986 in the Municipality of Makati, Metro
Manila, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the abovenamed accused, being the Vice President and Treasurer of Aurora/Uni-Group, Inc.,
received from Olivier Philippines and Skiva International, Inc. as represented by
Teresita M. Tujan the amount of $41,300.00 for the sole purpose of meeting the cost
of textile and labor in the manufacture of seven hundred dozen stretch twill jeans
which he (accused) is duty bound to deliver to said complainant, and the accused once
in possession of the same, far from complying from his obligation, with unfaithfulness
and abuse of confidence and to defraud said complainant, did, then and there willfully
and unlawfully and feloniously misappropriate, misapply and convert the same for his
own personal use and benefit despite repeated demands to return the said amount,
failed and refused and still fails and refuses to do so, to the damage and prejudice of
said complainant, in the aforementioned amount of $41,300.00 or its equivalent in
Philippine currency.
th

Contrary to law.

[1]

On arraignment, petitioner pleaded not guilty to the charge.


It appears that Skiva International, Inc. (Skiva) is a New York-based
corporation which imports clothes from the Philippines through its buying
agent, Olivier (Philippines) Inc. (Olivier).Aurora Manufacturing & Development
Corporation (Aurora) and Uni-Group Inc. (Uni-Group) are domestic
corporations which supply finished clothes to Skiva. Mr. Werner Lettmayr is
the President of both Aurora and Uni-Group while the petitioner, Jorge

Salazar, is the Vice-President and Treasurer of Uni-Group and a consultant of


Aurora.
Skiva, through its buying agent, Olivier, has been purchasing finished
clothes from Aurora and Uni-Group. When an order is procured for the
delivery of clothes, Olivier, issues to the local supplier, Aurora/Uni-Group, a
Purchase Contract and Olivier issues to Skiva a Sales Contract. In these
transactions, payment is usually made by way of a letter of credit wherein the
supplier is paid only upon the presentation of the proper shipping documents
to the designated bank.
[2]

In December 1985, Skiva informed Olivier that it needs ladies jeans to be


delivered sometime in January 1986. Olivier, in turn, through its Officer-inCharge, Ms. Teresita Tujan, contacted Aurora and Uni-Group to supply the
jeans. Thus, a Purchase Contract dated December 18, 1985 was issued by
Olivier to Uni-Group wherein Uni-Group was to supply 700 dozens of three (3)
different designs of Ladies Basic 5 Pockets Stretch Twill Jeans payable by
means of a letter of credit at sight. The Purchase Contract was confirmed by
Mr. Lettmayr on December 30, 1985 . A Sales Contract was also issued by
Olivier to Skiva containing the same terms and conditions as the Purchase
Contract and was confirmed by Mr. Jack Chehebar of Skiva.
[3]

[4]

[5]

[6]

On January 7, 1986, the parties agreed that Skiva will advance to


Aurora/Uni-Group the amount of US$41,300.00 (then equivalent to
P850,370.00 at the exchange rate of P20.59 to US$1.00) as Aurora/UniGroup did not have sufficient funds to secure raw materials to manufacture the
jeans. It was also agreed that the amount advanced by Skiva represents
advance payment of its order of 700 dozens of ladies jeans. Skiva then
issued a check in the said amount payable to Uni-Group. However, due to
the length of time needed for the check to be cleared, the parties made
arrangements to remit the funds instead by way of telegraphic
transfer. Thus, the check issued by Skiva was returned by Mr.
Lettmayr and as agreed, the funds were remitted by Skiva from its bank in
New York, the Israel Discount Bank, to the joint account of Mr. and Mrs. Jorge
Salazar and Mr. and Mrs. Werner Lettmayr at Citibank N.A.
[7]

[8]

[9]

[10]
[11]

[12]

On January 16, 1986, petitioner, who had possession and control of the
passbook of the said joint account, withdrew the amount of
US$21,675.21 and on January 22, 1986, petitioner withdrew the amount of
[13]

US$20,000.00. The prosecution also presented evidence that subsequent to


said withdrawals, the amounts of US$71.70 and US$63.99 were deducted
from the joint account as telegraphic transfer fee and commission for the
remittance of the funds to another account.
[14]

[15]

In the meantime, Ms. Tujan contacted Aurora/Uni-Group to follow up on


the production of the jeans. She learned that only 3,000 meters out of the
10,000 meters of Litton fabrics required for the order were purchased from
Litton Mills by the petitioner. 3,000 meters of Litton fabrics are enough to
produce only 200 dozens of ladies jeans - an amount insufficient to satisfy the
order of Skiva of 700 dozens of ladies twill jeans. Upon inquiry with Mr.
Lettmayr, the latter advised Ms. Tujan that the query be directed to petitioner
as petitioner is in charge of securing the materials. However, Ms. Tujan
could not locate the petitioner.
[16]

[17]

[18]

[19]

Consequently, in a letter dated March 13, 1986, demand was made upon
Aurora/Uni-Group through its President, Mr. Lettmayr, to return the money
advanced in the amount of US$41,300.00.
[20]

For failure of Aurora/Uni-Group to deliver the ladies jeans or to account for


the US$41,300.00 despite demand, Skiva, through its local agent represented
by Ms. Tujan, filed a criminal complaint for estafa against Mr. Lettmayr and
petitioner. After preliminary investigation, the Public Prosecutor dismissed the
complaint against Mr. Lettmayr and an information was filed against petitioner.
[21]

After trial, the lower court convicted herein petitioner of estafa under Article
315 paragraph 1 (b) of the Revised Penal Code, sentencing him to suffer the
indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of eight (8) years and one (1) day
of prision mayor as the minimum to fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months and
one (1) day of reclusion temporal as the maximum and to pay Uni-Group and
Aurora the amount of P595,259.00. On March 13, 1997, the lower court
denied petitioners Motion for Reconsideration. On appeal, the Court of
Appeals affirmed in toto the decision of the trial court and denied petitioners
Motion for Reconsideration.
[22]

[23]

[24]

Aggrieved by the aforementioned rulings, petitioner files the instant


petition for review.
The petition is bereft of merit.

The following are the elements of estafa under Article 315 paragraph 1 (b)
of the Revised Penal Code: a) that money, goods or other personal property is
received by the offender in trust, or on commission, or for administration, or
under any other obligation involving the duty to make delivery of, or to return
the same; b) that there be misappropriation or conversion of such money or
property by the offender; or denial on his part of such receipt; c) that such
misappropriation or conversion or denial is to the prejudice of another; and d)
there is demand made by the offended party to the offender.
[25]

We agree with the trial courts finding that the contract between Skiva and
Aurora/Uni-Group was one of sale. Thus, upon remittance by Skiva of its
advance payment in the amount of US$41,300.00, ownership thereof was
transferred to Aurora/Uni-Group and Aurora/Uni-Group had no obligation to
account or deliver the money to Skiva, its only obligation under the contract of
sale being to deliver the 700 dozens of ladies jeans. However, petitioner, as
an employee of Aurora/Uni-Group who was aware of the specific purpose of
the remittance, upon receipt of the amount, had the obligation to account for
the proceeds thereof to Aurora/Uni-Group.
[26]

The records establish that: 1) the amount of US$41,300.00 was remitted


by telegraphic transfer to the joint account of the petitioner and his wife and
Mr. and Mrs. Werner Lettmayr; 2) the said amount was remitted as advance
payment by Skiva for the jeans it ordered; and 3) the amount of
US$21,675.21 was withdrawn by petitioner on January 16, 1986 and the
amount of US$20,000.00 was withdrawn by petitioner on January 22, 1986.
In fact, petitioner himself admits having withdrawn from the joint account on
two occasions after the remittance was made. Petitioner further admits
having made such withdrawal for the purpose of purchasing materials to be
used for the jeans ordered by Skiva and a portion thereof to be given to
Aurora. Thus, upon withdrawal by petitioner of the amounts advanced by
Skiva, petitioner received the same in trust with an obligation to return the
funds or account for the proceeds thereof.
[27]

[28]

[29]

[30]

[31]

With respect to the element of conversion or misappropriation of the


amount received, petitioner claims that a portion of the amount was used to
purchase 3,000 meters of Litton fabrics and the balance was returned to
Aurora. However, upon cross-examination, petitioner was unable to recall the
amount paid for the purchase of the fabrics or the amount given to Aurora nor
[32]

was petitioner able to identify whether payment for the purchase of fabric or
the return of funds to Aurora was made in cash or in check.
[33]

In fact, except for his bare testimony, petitioner failed to present evidence
to support his defense that payment for the purchase of fabrics had been
made or that the balance of the amount received by petitioner was given to
Aurora. The only reason why the Court is inclined to believe that 3,000 meters
of Litton fabrics were purchased for the manufacture of the jeans is because
the witness for the prosecution, Ms. Tujan, independently verified the
purchase of the said materials from Litton Mills.
[34]

To support petitioners claim that the remainder of the amount withdrawn


was returned to Aurora, petitioner presents a letter dated October 15, 1986
from
the
Philippine
Veterans
Investment
Development
Corporation (PHIVIDEC) addressed to Mr. Werner Lettmayr, President of
Aurora, regarding the financial audit of Aurora, wherein the amount of
P850,780.00 is indicated as an amount due to Uni-Group. Atty. Cesar
Singson, witness for the defense, testified that the amount of P850,780.00
indicated in the said letter represents the peso equivalent of the advance
payment of US$41,300.00 made by Skiva to Uni-Group.
[35]

[36]

We agree with the trial court that the probative value of the said letter is nil.
The trial court correctly ruled:
The court doubts the probative value of the contents of [the letter] because the person
who testified thereon, a certain Atty. Cesar Singson, was not the one who prepared the
document. He was only one [of] those who was furnished a copy thereof. Moreover,
when said piece of evidence was presented, there were inconsistencies in the
testimony of the [petitioner] as to how he was able to procure said documents. In a
hearing he testified that he personally procured said letter from the records of
PHIVIDEC and the person who certified said copy signed the same in his
presence. On cross examination, he testified that he did not personally obtain said
letter and he was not there when the person who authenticated said letter signed it and
that it was only given to him by his former counsel. This is further muddled when
Atty. Singson testified that he was the one who authenticated said document on
December 7, 1987 from his copy upon the request of the accused. Atty. Singson has
already severed his ties with PHIVIDEC on the latter part of the year 1986. This
means that Atty. Singson was no longer connected with PHIVIDEC when he

authenticated said document based on his copy which implies that the document was
not obtained from the records of PHIVIDEC.
[37]

Further, even assuming that the letter may be given credence, we are
unable to see any indication that the amount of P850,780.00 or at least a
portion thereof (assuming that the said amount represents the advance
payment made by Skiva) has been received by Aurora and/or Uni-Group from
petitioner. At most, what said letter indicates is that Aurora acknowledges
liability to Uni-Group in the said amount or that said amount has been
received by Uni-Group from Skiva as advance payment which Uni-Group may
have, in turn, assigned to Aurora. The glaring fact remains that nowhere can it
be seen from the said letter that there was actual receipt by Aurora from
petitioner of the amount indicated therein, or at least a portion thereof, after
deduction of the cost of the materials purchased to manufacture the jeans
ordered.
Moreover, the prosecution was able to establish that upon withdrawal of
the said amounts, petitioner caused the telegraphic transfer of the amount to
another account prior to petitioners receipt of the amount in pesos. In fact,
upon being confronted by the prosecution with Exhibits R and T which are
account debit forms showing that certain amounts were deducted by Citibank
N.A. from the joint account as telegraphic transfer fee for the amounts
withdrawn by petitioner, petitioner admitted that upon withdrawal, the dollars
was converted by the bank, remitted abroad, and given to me in pesos. The
act committed by petitioner of remitting the funds abroad constitutes an act of
conversion or misappropriation. This Court has previously held that even a
temporary disturbance of property rights constitutes misappropriation. The
words convert and misappropriate as used in Article 315 paragraph 1 (b) of
the Revised Penal Code, connote an act of using or disposing of anothers
property as if it were ones own, or of devoting it to a purpose or use different
from that agreed upon. To misappropriate a thing of value for ones own use
includes, not only conversion to ones personal advantage but also every
attempt to dispose of the property of another without right. Thus, when
petitioner caused the remittance of the amount withdrawn to another account,
such act constituted conversion or misappropriation or unauthorized
disposition of the property, contrary to the purpose for which the property was
devoted.
[38]

[39]

[40]

[41]

Petitioner also claims that the third element of estafa is not present as the
party prejudiced, in accordance with the findings of the trial court and the
Court of Appeals, is Skiva, when petitioner had no obligation to account to
Skiva the proceeds of the amount withdrawn. Petitioner argues that consistent
with the ruling of the lower court that Aurora is the owner of the sum remitted
as advance payment, petitioner had the obligation to account for the proceeds
thereof to Aurora and not to Skiva. Thus, petitioner maintains that a
conviction for estafa will not hold as no damage to Aurora was alleged in the
information nor did the prosecution present any proof of damage to Aurora.
[42]

We are not persuaded.


As held in the case of First Producers Holdings Corporation v. Co, in
estafa, the person prejudiced or the immediate victim of the fraud need not be
the owner of the goods misappropriated. Thus, Article 315 of the Revised
Penal Code provides that any person who shall defraud another by any
means mentioned [in Article 315] may be held liable for estafa.The use by the
law of the word another instead of the word owner means that as an element
of the offense, loss should have fallen upon someone other than the
perpetrator of the crime. Thus, the finding of the trial court that Skiva, the
party prejudiced, is not the owner of the sum misappropriated will not nullify
the conviction of the petitioner.
[43]

[44]

Petitioner claims that the element of demand is absent as no demand was


made by Skiva on petitioner. Petitioner argues that although demand was
made by Skiva to Aurora/Uni-Group and/or Mr. Lettmayr, no demand was
shown to have been made on petitioner himself.
We hold that the element of demand was satisfied when demand was
made upon Aurora/Uni-Group. To require Skiva to make a demand on
petitioner himself would be superfluous and would serve no other additional
purpose. We note that at the time when Ms. Tujan was following up on the
delivery of the jeans, except for the advice of Mr. Lettmayr to direct her
queries to petitioner who was in charge of procuring the materials for the
jeans, Ms. Tujan could not have known that petitioner may be primarily
responsible for the non-delivery of the jeans. As far as Skiva/Olivier was
concerned, it was the obligation of Aurora/Uni-Group to deliver the jeans,
which at the time of demand, was not complied with. Thus, Skiva/Olivier acted

appropriately when it demanded from Aurora/Uni-Group the return of the


amount advanced.
To require that demand should have been made by Skiva/Olivier upon
petitioner himself to uphold the conviction of the trial court is to sustain a blind
application of the law. In the case of United States v. Ramirez, this Court
held:
[45]

The consummation of the crime of estafa does not depend on the fact that a request for
the return of the money is first made and refused in order that the author of the crime
should comply with the obligation to return the sum misapplied. The appropriation or
conversion of money received to the prejudice of the owner thereof are the sole
essential facts which constitute the crime of estafa, and thereupon the author thereof
incurs the penalty imposed by the Penal Code.
Further, in Tubbs v. People and Court of Appeals this Court ruled that
the law does not require a demand as a condition precedent to the crime of
embezzlement. It so happens only that failure to account, upon demand for
funds and property held in trust, is circumstantial evidence of
misappropriation.
[46]

In Benito Sy y Ong v. People and Court of Appeals, we also held that


in a prosecution for estafa, demand is not necessary when there is evidence
of misappropriation.
[47]

Petitioner likewise maintains that Skiva has no authority to institute the


present action as estafa was not committed against Skiva but against
Aurora/Uni-Group on the basis of the finding that the transaction between
Skiva and Aurora/Uni-Group was one of sale. Thus, petitioner argues that
pursuant to Section 3, Rule 110 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure, the
complaint should not have been instituted by Skiva as it is not the offended
party contemplated by the Rules and petitioner had no obligation to account to
Skiva the proceeds of the amount withdrawn from the joint account.
[48]

[49]

The complaint referred to in Rule 110 contemplates one that is filed in


court to commence a criminal action in those cases where a complaint of the
offended party is required by law, instead of an information which is generally
filed by a fiscal. It is not necessary that the proper offended party file a
complaint for purposes of preliminary investigation by the fiscal. The rule is
that unless the offense subject of the complaint is one that cannot be
[50]

prosecuted de oficio, any competent person may file a complaint for


preliminary investigation.
[51]

Thus, as a general rule, a criminal action is commenced by a complaint or


information, both of which are filed in court. If a complaint is filed directly in
court, the same must be filed by the offended party and in case of an
information, the same must be filed by the fiscal. However, a complaint filed
with the fiscal prior to a judicial action may be filed by any person. Thus, in
the case at bar, the complaint was validly filed by Skiva despite the finding of
the lower court that petitioner had no obligation to account to Skiva.
[52]

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED and the appealed judgment


of the court a quo finding petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
crime of Estafa under Article 315 paragraph 1 (b) of the Revised Penal Code
is AFFIRMED. Costs against appellant.
SO ORDERED.

[G.R. No. 122274. July 31, 1996]

SUSAN V. LLENES, petitioner, vs. HON. ISAIAS P. DICDICAN,


Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court of Cebu, Branch 11, HON.
AMADO B. BAJARIAS, SR., Presiding Judge, Municipal Trial
Court, Branch 7, and VIVIAN G. GINETE, respondents.
DECISION
DAVIDE, JR., J.:

The key issue raised in this special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65
of the Rules of Court is whether the filing with the Office of the Ombudsman of
a complaint against a government official for grave oral defamation interrupts
the period of prescription of such offense.
We find this issue to be important enough to merit our attention. We thus
resolved to give due course to the petition, consider the private respondent's

comment on the petition as the answer thereto, and decide it on the basis of
the pleadings which have sufficiently discussed the issue.
[1]

The factual and procedural antecedents are not disputed.


On 13 October 1993, private respondent Vivian G. Ginete, then officer-incharge of the Physical Education and School Sports (PESS) Division of the
Regional Office of Region VII in Cebu City of the Department of Education,
Culture and Sports (DECS), filed with the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman
for the Visayas (hereinafter Ombudsman-Visayas) a complaint for grave oral
defamation allegedly committed on 23 September 1993 by petitioner Susan
V. Llenes, an Education Supervisor II of the same Regional Office.
[2]

The petitioner was required to file a counter-affidavit pursuant to


Administrative Order No. 7 of the Office of the Ombudsman, but she failed to
do so.
In his resolution of 15 March 1994, Antonio B. Yap, Graft Investigation
Officer I of the said office, recommended that the case be indorsed to the
Office of the City Prosecutor of Cebu City for the filing of the necessary
information against the petitioner. This resolution was approved by the Deputy
Ombudsman-Visayas.
[3]

On 28 March 1994, the City Prosecutor of Cebu City filed with the
Municipal Trial Court (MTC) in Cebu City an information for grave oral
defamation against the petitioner. This was docketed as Criminal Case No.
35684-R and assigned to Branch 7 thereof.
[4]

On 30 May 1994, the petitioner filed a motion to quash the information on


the ground that the "criminal action or liability" has been extinguished. She
contended that under Article 90 of the Revised Penal Code, the offense of
grave oral defamation prescribes in months and that since the information was
filed only on 28 March 1994, or 186 days or 6 months and 6 days after its
alleged commission, the crime had then already prescribed. In support
thereof, she cited the decision in "Zalderia vs. Reyes, Jr., G.R. No. 102342,
July 3, 1992, 211 SCRA 277," wherein this Court ruled that the filing of an
information at the fiscal's office will not stop the running of the prescriptive
period for crimes.
[5]

[6]

In her opposition, the private respondent cited Section 1, Rule 110 of the
Rules of Court which provides, inter alia, that for offenses not subject to the
rule on summary procedure in special cases and which fall within the
jurisdiction of Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts, the
filing of the complaint directly with the said court or with the fiscal's office
interrupts the period of prescription of the offense charged. The filing of the
complaint by the private respondent with the Office of the Deputy
Ombudsman-Visayas was equivalent to the filing of a complaint with the
fiscal's (now prosecutor's) office under said Section 1 pursuant to its powers
under Section 15(1) of R.A. No. 6770, otherwise known as the Ombudsman
Act of 1989. The private respondent further claimed that Zaldivia is
inapplicable because it involves an offense covered by the rule on summary
procedure and it explicitly stated that Section 1 of Rule 110 excludes cases
covered by the Rule on Summary Procedure.
[7]

The Municipal Trial Court, per public respondent Judge Bajarias, denied
the motion to quash in the order of 18 July 1994. It fully agreed with the stand
of the private respondent.
[8]

Her motion to reconsider the above order having been denied on 29


November 1994, the petitioner filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Cebu a special civil action forcertiorari, which was docketed therein as Civil
Case No. CEB-16988. The case was assigned to Branch 11.
[9]

[10]

[11]

In its decision of 3 July 1995, the RTC, per public respondent Judge
Isaias P. Dicdican, affirmed the challenged orders of Judge Bajarias of 18 July
1994 and 29 November 1994. It ruled that the order denying the motion to
quash is interlocutory and that the petitioner's remedy, per Acharon vs.
Purisima, reiterated in People vs. Bans, was to go to trial without prejudice
on her part to reiterate the special defense she had invoked in her motion to
quash and, if after trial on the merits an adverse decision is rendered, to
appeal therefrom in the manner authorized by law. Besides, the petitioner has
not satisfactorily and convincingly shown that Judge Bajarias has acted with
grave abuse of discretion in issuing the orders considering that the ground
invoked by her does not appear to be indubitable. And even assuming that the
MTC erred in venturing an opinion that the filing of the complaint with the
Office of the Ombudsman is equivalent to the filing of a complaint with the
fiscal's office, such error is merely one of judgment. For, there is no decided
case on the matter, and the substantive laws have not clearly stated as to
[12]

[13]

[14]

what bodies or agencies of government should complaints or informations be


filed in order that the period of prescription of crimes or offenses should be
considered interrupted. Article 91 of the Revised Penal Code simply states
that the prescriptive period shall be interrupted by the "filing of the complaint
or information" and has not specified further where such complaint or
information should be filed.
Since the Regional Trial Court denied her motion to reconsider the
decision in the order of 23 August 1995, the petitioner filed this special civil
action wherein she reiterates the arguments she adduced before the two
courts below. The private respondent likewise did nothing more in her
responsive pleading than reiterate what she had raised before the said courts.
[15]

[16]

The basic substantive laws on prescription of offenses are Articles 90 and


91 of the Revised Penal Code for offenses punished thereunder, and Act No.
3326, as amended, for those penalized by special laws. Under Article 90 of
the Revised Penal Code, the crime of grave oral defamation, which is the
subject of the information in Criminal Case No. 35684-R of the MTC of Cebu,
prescribes in 6 months. Since Article 13 of the Civil Code provides that when
the law speaks of months it shall be understood to be of 30 days, then grave
oral defamation prescribes in 180 days. Article 91 of the Revised Penal Code
provides:
[17]

ART. 91. Computation of prescription of offenses. The period of prescription shall


commence to run from the day on which the crime is discovered by the offended
party, the authorities, or their agents, and shall be interrupted by the filing of the
complaint or information, and shall commence to run again when such proceedings
terminate without the accused being convicted or acquitted, or are unjustifiably
stopped for any reason not imputable to him.
The term of prescription shall not run when the offender is absent from the Philippine
Archipelago.
In the instant case, the alleged defamatory words were directly uttered in
the presence of the offended party on 23 September 1993. Hence, the
prescriptive period for the offense started to run on that date.
The matter of interruption of the prescriptive period due to the filing of the
complaint or information had been the subject of conflicting decisions of this
Court. In People vs. Tayco, People vs. Del Rosario, and People vs. Coquia,
[18]

[19]

this Court held that it is the filing of the complaint or information with
the proper court, viz., the court having jurisdiction over the crime, which
interrupts the running of the period of prescription. On the other hand, in the
first case of People vs. Olarte, a case for libel, this Court held that the filing
of the complaint with the justice of the peace court even for preliminary
investigation purposes only interrupts the running of the statute of limitations.
[20]

[21]

However, the decision of 28 February 1967 of this Court in the second


case of People vs. Olarte resolved once and for all what should be the
doctrine, viz., that the filing of the complaint with the municipal trial court even
for purposes of preliminary investigation only suspends the running of the
prescriptive period. Thus:
[22]

Analysis of the precedents on the issue of prescription discloses that there are two
lines of decisions following differing criteria in determining whether prescription of
crimes has been interrupted. One line of precedents holds that the filing of the
complaint with the justice of the peace (now municipal judge) does interrupt the
course of the prescriptive term: People vs. Olarte, L-13027, June 30, 1960 and cases
cited therein; People vs. Uba, L-13106, October 16, 1959; People vs. Aquino, 68 Phil.
588, 590. Another series of decisions declares that to produce interruption the
complaint or information must have been filed in the proper court that has jurisdiction
to try the case on its merits: People vs. Del Rosario, L-15140, December 29, 1960;
People vs. Coquia, L-15456, June 29, 1963.
In view of this diversity of precedents, and in order to provide guidance for Bench and
Bar, this Court has reexamined the question and, after mature consideration, has
arrived at the conclusion that the true doctrine is, and should be, the one established
by the decisions holding that the filing of the complaint in the Municipal Court, even
if it be merely for purposes of preliminary examination or investigation, should, and
does, interrupt the period of prescription of the criminal responsibility, even if the
court where the complaint or information is filed cannot try the case on its merits.
Several reasons buttress this conclusion: First, the text of Article 91 of the Revised
Penal Code, in declaring that the period of prescription "shall be interrupted by the
filing of the complaint or information" without distinguishing whether the complaint
is filed in the court for preliminary examination or investigation merely, or for action
on the merits. Second, even if the court where the complaint or information is filed
may only proceed to investigate the case, its actuations already represent the initial
step of the proceedings against the offender. Third, it is unjust to deprive the injured
party of the right to obtain vindication on account of delays that are not under his

control. All that the victim of the offense may do on his part to initiate the prosecution
is to file the requisite complaint.
And it is no argument that Article 91 also expresses that the interrupted prescription
"shall commence to run again when such proceedings terminate without the accused
being convicted or acquitted," thereby indicating that the court in which the complaint
or information is filed must have power to acquit or convict the accused. Precisely, the
trial on the merits usually terminates in conviction or acquittal, not otherwise. But it is
in the court conducting a preliminary investigation where the proceedings may
terminate without conviction or acquittal, if the court should discharge the accused
because no prima faciecase has been shown.
Considering the foregoing reasons, the Court hereby overrules the doctrine of the
cases of People vs. Del Rosario, L-15140, December 29, 1960; and People vs. Coquia,
L-15456, promulgated June 29, 1963.
Then, in its decision of 30 May 1983 in Francisco vs. Court of Appeals,
this Court not only reiterated Olarte of 1967 but also broadened its scope by
holding that the filing of the complaint in the fiscal's office for preliminary
investigation also suspends the running of the prescriptive period. Thus:
[23]

Article 91 of the Revised Penal Code provides that . . . .


Interpreting the foregoing provision, this Court in People vs. Tayco held that the
complaint or information referred to in Article 91 is that which is filed in the proper
court and not the denuncia or accusation lodged by the offended party in the Fiscal's
Office. This is so, according to the court, because under this rule it is so provided that
the period shall commence to run again when the proceedings initiated by the filing of
the complaint or information terminate without the accused being convicted or
acquitted, adding that the proceedings in the Office of the Fiscal cannot end there in
the acquittal or conviction of the accused.
The basis of the doctrine in the Tayco case, however, was disregarded by this Court in
the Olarte case, cited by the Solicitor General. It should be recalled that before the
Olarte case, there was diversity of precedents on the issue of prescription. One view
declares that the filing of the complaint with the justice of the peace (or municipal
judge) does interrupt the course of prescriptive term. This view is found-in
People v. Olarte, L-13027, June 30, 1960 and cases cited therein; People v. Uba, L13106, October 16, 1959; People v. Aquino, 68 Phil. 588, 590. The other
pronouncement is that to produce interruption, the complainant or information must

have been filed in the proper court that has jurisdiction to try the case on its merits,
found in the cases of People v. del Rosario, L-15140, December 29, 1960;
People v.Coquia, L-15456, June 29, 1963.
The Olarte case set at rest the conflict views, and enunciated the doctrine aforecited
by the Solicitor General. The reasons for the doctrine which We find applicable to the
case at bar read:
xxx xxx xxx
As is a well-known fact, like the proceedings in the court conducting a preliminary
investigation, a proceeding in the Fiscal's Office may terminate without conviction or
acquittal.
As Justice Claudio Teehankee has observed:
To the writer's mind, these reasons logically call with equal force, for the express
overruling also of the doctrine in People vs. Tayco, 73 Phil. 509, (1941) that the filing
of a complaint or denuncia by the offended party with the City Fiscal's Office which is
required by law to conduct the preliminary investigation does not interrupt the period
of prescription. In chartered cities, criminal prosecution is generally
initiated by the filing of the complaint or denuncia with the city fiscal for preliminary
investigation. In the case of provincial fiscals, besides being empowered like
municipal judges to conduct preliminary investigations, they may even reverse actions
of municipal judges with respect to charges triable by Courts of First Instance x x x.
Clearly, therefore, the filing of the denuncia or complaint for intriguing against honor
by the offended party, later changed by the Fiscal to grave oral defamation, even if it
were in the Fiscal's Office, 39 days after the alleged defamatory remarks were
committed (or discovered) by the accused interrupts the period of prescription. (Italics
supplied)
This Court reiterated Francisco in its resolution of 1 October 1993
in Calderon-Bargas vs. Regional Trial Court of Pasig, Metro Manila.
[24]

The procedural law articulating Francisco is the last paragraph of Section


1, Rule 110 (Prosecution of Offenses) of the Rules of Court. We quote the
entire Section for a better understanding of the last paragraph:

SEC. 1. How instituted. For offenses not subject to the rule on summary procedure in
special cases, the institution of criminal actions shall be as follows:
(a) For offenses falling under the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Courts,
by filing the complaint with the
appropriate officer for the purpose of conducting the requisite
preliminary investigation therein;
(b) For offenses falling under the jurisdiction of the Municipal Trial
Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts, by filing the complaint or
information directly with the said courts, or a complaint with the
fiscal's office. However, in Metropolitan Manila and other chartered
cities, the complaint may be filed only with the office of the fiscal.
In all cases, such institution shall interrupt the period of prescription of the offense
charged. (Italics supplied)
The rule, however, is entirely different under Act No. 3326, as amended,
whose Section 2 explicitly provides that the period of prescription shall be
interrupted by the institution of judicial proceedings, i.e., the filing of the
complaint or information with the court. The said section reads:
SEC. 2. Prescription shall begin to run from the day of the commission of the
violation of the law, and if the same be not known at the time, from the discovery
thereof and the institution of judicial proceedings for its investigation and
punishment.
The prescription shall be interrupted when proceedings are instituted against the
guilty person, and shall begin to run again if the proceedings are dismissed for
reasons not constituting double jeopardy.(Italics supplied)
And so, in Zaldivia vs. Reyes, this Court held that the proceedings
referred to in said Section 2 are "judicial proceedings," which means the filing
of the complaint or information with the proper court.
[25]

Zaldivia, however, provides no safe refuge to the petitioner, and her


invocation thereof is misplaced. In the first place, it involved a violation of an
ordinance, which is covered by the Rule on Summary Procedure. By its
express mandate, Section 1, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court does not apply to
cases covered by the Rule on Summary Procedure. Second, since the

ordinance in question partakes of a special penal statute Act No. 3326 is then
applicable; hence, it is the filing in the proper court of the complaint or
information which suspends the running of the period of prescription.
In Zaldivia, this Court categorically interpreted Section 9 of the Rule on
Summary Procedure to mean that "the running of the prescriptive period shall
be halted on the date the case is actually filed in court and not on any date
before that," which is in consonance with Section 2 of Act No. 3326.
What is then left to be determined is whether the filing of the private
respondent's complaint for grave oral defamation with the Office of the
Ombudsman-Visayas is equivalent to filing the complaint in the prosecutor's
office such that it interrupted the prescriptive period for grave oral defamation.
Sections 12 and 13(1), Article XI of the Constitution provide:
SEC. 12. The Ombudsman and his Deputies, as protectors of the people, shall act
promptly on complaints filed in any form or manner against public officials or
employees of the Government, or any subdivision or instrumentality thereof,
including government-owned or controlled corporations, and shall, in appropriate
cases, notify the complainants of the action taken and the result thereof.
SEC. 13. The Office of the Ombudsman shall have the following powers, functions,
and duties:
1. Investigate on its own, or on complaint by any person, any act or
omission of any public official, employee, office or agency, when such
act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper, or inefficient.
Corollarily, Sections 13, 15(1), and 16 of R.A. No. 6770, otherwise known
as The Ombudsman Act of 1989, which Congress enacted pursuant to
paragraph 8 of the aforementioned Section 13, Article XI of the Constitution,
provide as follows:
[26]

SEC. 13. Mandate. The Ombudsman and his Deputies, as protectors of the people,
shall act promptly on complaints filed in any form or manner against officers or
employees of the Government, or of any subdivision, agency or instrumentality
thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporations, and enforce their
administrative, civil and criminal liability in every case where the evidence warrants
in order to promote efficient service by the Government to the people.

xxx xxx xxx


SEC. 15. Powers, Functions and Duties. The Office of the Ombudsman shall have the
following powers, functions and duties:
1. Investigate and prosecute on its own or on complaint by any person,
any act or omission of any public officer or employee, office or
agency, when such act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust,
improper or inefficient. It has primary jurisdiction over cases
cognizable by the Sandiganbayan and, in the exercise of this primary
jurisdiction, it may take over, at any stage from any investigatory
agency of the Government, the investigation of such cases.
SEC. 16. Applicability. The provisions of this Act shall apply to all kinds of
malfeasance, misfeasance, and nonfeasance that have been committed by any officer
or employee as mentioned in Section 13 hereof, during his tenure in office.
Needless to state, these broad constitutional and statutory provisions vest
upon the Ombudsman and his Deputies the power to initiate or conduct
preliminary investigations in criminal cases filed against public officers or
employees, including government-owned or controlled corporations. Thus,
in Deloso vs. Domingo, this Court held:
[27]

As protector of the people, the office of the Ombudsman has the power, function and
duty "to act promptly on complaints filed in any form or manner against public
officials" (Sec. 12) and to "investigate x x x any act or omission of any public official
x x x when such act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient."
(Sec. 13[1]) The Ombudsman is also empowered to "direct the officer concerned," in
this case the Special Prosecutor, "to take appropriate action against a public official x
x x and to recommend his prosecution" (Sec. 13[3]).
The clause "any [illegal] act or omission of any public official" is broad enough to
embrace any crime committed by a public official. The law does not qualify the nature
of the illegal act or omission of the public official or employee that the Ombudsman
may investigate. It does not require that the act or omission be related to or be
connected with or arise from, the performance of official duty. Since the law does not
distinguish, neither should we.
It must, however, be stressed that the authority of the Ombudsman to
investigate any illegal act or omission of any public officer is not an exclusive

authority; rather, it is a "shared or concurrent authority in respect of the


offense charged."
[28]

A public officer, as distinguished from a government "employee," is a


person whose duties involve the exercise of discretion in the performance of
the functions of government. The petitioner, being an Education Supervisor II
of the Regional Office of Region VII of the DECS, is a public officer. The
Ombudsman-Visayas then has authority to conduct preliminary investigation
of the private respondent's complaint against the petitioner for grave oral
defamation. Undoubtedly, the rationale of the first Olarte case, reiterated as
the controlling doctrine in the second Olarte case, which was broadened
in Francisco and reiterated in Calderon-Bargas, must apply to complaints filed
with the Office of the Ombudsman against public officers and employees for
purposes of preliminary investigation. Accordingly, the filing of the private
respondent's complaint for grave oral defamation against the petitioner with
the Ombudsman-Visayas tolled the running of the period of prescription of the
said offense. Since the complaint was filed on 13 October 1993, or barely
twenty days from the commission of the crime charged, the filing then of the
information on 28 March 1994 was very well within the six-month prescriptive
period.
[29]

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DISMISSED for want of merit.


No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.

SR. FIDELIS ARAMBULO, petitioner, vs. HON. HILARION LAQUI, SR.


HELEN OJARIO and SR. BERNADINE JUAREZ, respondents.
DECISION
GONZAGA-REYES, J.:

Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari of the Decision[1] of the


Court of Appeals[2] in CA-G.R. SP No. 47089 promulgated on March 01, 1999
and the subsequent Resolution[3]dated May 11, 1999 denying petitioners
Motion for Reconsideration.

The facts of the case, as summarized by the appellate court, are as


follows:
On February 2, 1994, private respondents filed a joint complaint-affidavit for libel
against petitioners before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Quezon City alleging
that the latter circulated on December 21, 1993 a letter containing malicious
imputations against them.
An information for libel then was filed before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon
City on May 18, 1994.
After the prosecution presented its evidence, petitioner filed a Demurrer to
Evidence. Without resolving the incident, the Metropolitan Trial Court in its Order
dated November 9, 1996 ruled that it had no jurisdiction over the case as the same
falls under the original and exclusive jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court, and
ordered that the case be forwarded to the RTC for further proceedings.
On November 29, 1996, the case was forwarded to branch 215 Regional Trial Court of
Quezon City docketed as Criminal Case No. 96-6870.
On January 3, 1997, petitioner filed a Motion to Dismiss on the ground of lack of
jurisdiction and prescription of the offense of Libel. The RTC dismissed the case in an
Order dated April 2, 1997 but, stating that the offense had not yet prescribed, ordered
the City Prosecutor of Quezon City to re-file the Information for Libel with the RTC.
On April 27, 1997, the Information for Libel was re-filed with respondent court
docketed as Criminal Case No. Q-97-70948.
On June 17, 1997, petitioner filed a Motion to quash on the ground of
prescription. The motion was denied in the assailed Resolution dated October 3, 1997.
Petitioners Motion for Reconsideration was also denied in the other Assailed Order
dated December 4, 1997.[4]
Not satisfied with the Resolution and Order of the trial court, herein
petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals raising the issue of whether or not
public respondent committed grave abuse of discretion or grossly erred in
holding that the offense of libel in the instant case has not yet prescribed.
[5]
The Court of Appeals, in its decision dated March 01, 1999, upheld the
contention of the trial court that the offense of libel had not yet prescribed and

consequently, dismissed the said petition. The appellate court likewise denied
herein petitioners Motion for Reconsideration in its Resolution dated May 11,
1999.[6]
Petitioner is now before this Court seeking a reversal of the decision of the
Court of Appeals and contending that I.

THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING THAT THE CRIME OF LIBEL


HAS NOT YET PRESCRIBED.
II.

THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING THAT PETITIONER HAS NOT


BEEN DENIED HER CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO A SPEEDY TRIAL.[7]
Under Article 90 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, the crime of
libel prescribes in one (1) year, to wit:
ART. 90. Prescription of crime.- Crimes punishable by death, reclusion
perpetua or reclusion temporal shall prescribe in twenty years.
Crimes punishable by other afflictive penalties shall prescribe in fifteen years.
Those punishable by a correctional penalty shall prescribe in 10 years; with the
exception of those punishable by arresto mayor, which shall prescribe in five years.
The crime of libel or other similar offenses shall prescribe in one year. (underscoring
supplied)
The said prescriptive period is computed under Article 91 of the Revised
Penal Code, as follows:
Art. 91. Computation of prescription of offenses. - The period of prescription shall
commence to run from the day on which the crime is discovered by the offended
party, the authorities, or their agents, and shall be interrupted by the filing of the
complaint or information, and shall proceed to run again when such proceedings
terminate without the accused being convicted or acquitted, or are unjustifiably
stopped for any reason not imputable to him.

The term of prescription shall not run when the offender is absent from the Philippine
Archipelago.
In the case at bench, the offense of libel allegedly occurred on December
21, 1993 when petitioner circulated a letter containing allegedly malicious
imputations against private respondents Srs. Helen Ojario and Bernadine
Juarez. At this point, the period of prescription for the alleged crime had
already started to run.
The one-year period of prescription for the crime was interrupted on
February 2, 1994 when respondents filed a joint complaint-affidavit [8] for libel
against petitioner before the Office of the city Prosecutor in Quezon city. At
this point, the prescription period had already run for forty-two (42) days.
A preliminary investigation by the Office of the City prosecutor was thus
conducted. On April 27, 1994, Asst. City Prosecutor Ma. Aurora EscasaRamos issued a Resolution stating that probable cause exists against
petitioner and recommended the filing of an information for libel against
her. Consequently, an information[9] for libel was filed against petitioner on May
18, 1994 before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 32[10]
Despite the fact that the Metropolitan Trial Court had no jurisdiction over
the crime of libel, the said court proceeded to conduct trial on the merits. After
the prosecution had rested, petitioner filed a Demurrer to Evidence dated
September 18, 1996. However, instead of acting on the said demurrer, the
Metropolitan Trial court, on November 08, 1996, issued an Order[11]ruling that it
had no jurisdiction over the crime of libel as the same falls under the exclusive
jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court. Instead of dismissing the case outright,
the MTC ordered the forwarding of the records of the case to the Regional
Trial Court for further proceedings. The case was eventually raffled off to
Branch 215 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City[12]
On the basis of a Motion to Dismiss[13] filed by petitioner, Branch 215 of the
Regional Trial Court dismissed the case on April 2, 1997 on the ground of lack
of jurisdiction as the information against petitioner should have been re-filed
anew. The court ruled, however, that the crime had not yet prescribed and
ordered the re-filling of the case[14]. On April 27, 1997, the Office of the City
Prosecutor re-filed the case with the Regional Trial Court and eventually the
same was raffled to Branch 218 of the said court [15]. Petitioner tried to have this

case dismissed on the ground of prescription but her motion to quash [16]the
information was denied by Branch 218 of the Quezon City Regional Trial
Court in a Resolution[17]dated October 3, 1997. The denial by the Regional Trial
Court of petitioners motion to quash was subsequently upheld by the Court of
Appeals.
It is the contention of petitioner that the prescription period for the crime of
libel charged against her commenced to run again when the Assistant City
prosecutor recommended the filing of the information for libel. Petitioner
further argues that the prescriptive period could have been interrupted again
had the information been filed with the Regional Trial Court, the court with the
proper jurisdiction to try the case for libel. Considering however that the case
was filed before the Metropolitan Trial Court, which under the law does not
have jurisdiction over the crime of libel, the period of prescription continued to
run its course. Consequently, petitioner concludes that when the information
for libel was finally filed with the Regional Trial Court, the crime had already
prescribed and the State can no longer pursue the case against her.
In support of her arguments, petitioner questions the reliance made by the
Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals in the landmark case of People
vs. Olarte[18]Petitioner submits that the adherence to the Olarte case must be
examined considering that in the said case, the principal issue was whether or
not the filing of a complaint in the Municipal Trial Court for purposes of
preliminary investigation, interrupts the period of prescription of a
crime. Petitioner argues that the cited case is inapplicable as it is not disputed
in the case at bench that the period of prescription was interrupted during the
process of preliminary investigation.
We are not persuaded.
In the landmark case of People vs. Olarte, this Court speaking through
Justice J.B.L. Reyes, finally resolved the then conflicting views as to whether
or not the filing of a complaint with the Municipal Trial Court for purposes of
preliminary investigation suspends the running of the prescriptive period for
the crime. The Court restated the correct and prevailing doctrine, as follows:
In view of this diversity of precedents, and in order to provide guidance for the Bench
and Bar, this Court has reexamined the question and, after mature consideration, has
arrived at the conclusion that the true doctrine is, and should be, the one established

by the decisions holding that the filing of the complaint with the Municipal Court,
even if it be merely for purposes of preliminary examination or investigation, should,
and does, interrupt the period of prescription of the criminal responsibility, even if the
court where the complaint or information is filed can not try the case on the
merits. Several reasons buttress this conclusion: first, the text of Article 91 of the
Revised Penal code, in declaring that the period of prescription shall be interrupted by
the filing of the complaint or information without distinguishing whether the
complaint is filed in the court for preliminary examination or investigation merely, or
for action on the merits. Second , even if the court where the complaint or information
is filed may only proceed to investigate the case, its actuations already represent the
initial step of the proceedings against the offender. Third, it is unjust to deprive the
injured party the right to obtain vindication on account of delays that are not under his
control. All that the victim of the offense may do on his part to initiate the prosecution
is to file the requisite complaint.
And it is no argument that Article 91 also expresses that the interrupted prescription
shall commence to run again when such proceedings terminate without the accused
being convicted or acquitted, thereby indicating that the court in which the complaint
or information is filed must have the power to convict or acquit the accused. Precisely,
the trial on the merits usually terminates in conviction or acquittal, not otherwise. But
it is in the court conducting a preliminary investigation where the proceedings may
terminate without conviction or acquittal, if the court should discharge the accused
because no prima facie case had been shown.
Subsequently, this Court, in Francisco vs. Court of Appeals[19], broadened
the scope of Olarte by holding that the filing of the complaint with the fiscals
office also suspends the running of the prescriptive period.
Petitioner insists that the ruling in Olarte with respect to the interruption of
the prescriptive period is not applicable. In the case at bench, the fact that the
period of prescription was interrupted by the filing of private respondents joint
affidavit
with
the
Quezon
City
Prosecutors
Office
is
not
disputed. The Olarte case, however, makes several other pronouncements
that are determinative of the issues raised by petitioner.
It is clear from the Olarte case that the filing of the complaint or information
for purposes of preliminary investigation represents the initial step of the
proceedings against the offender.This is one of the reasons why such filing is
deemed as having interrupted the period of prescription for the prosecution of

a crime. This period of prescription commences to run again when the


proceedings terminate without conviction or acquittal, if the court (or
prosecutor) should discharge the accused because no prima facie case has
been shown.[20]
It is thus evident that petitioners first premise that the period of prescription
commenced to run again when the Quezon City prosecutors Office
recommended the filing of a criminal complaint against her is incorrect. When
the City Prosecutor recommended the filing of libel charges against petitioner,
the proceedings against her were not terminated, precisely because a prima
facie case for libel was found against her. Instead of terminating the
proceedings against petitioner, the resolution of the city prosecutor actually
directed the continuation of the proceedings against the petitioner by the filing
of the appropriate information against her and by the holding of trial on the
merits. As such, when the information for libel was filed with the Metropolitan
Trial Court, the period of prescription for the crime was still suspended.
Another important teaching in Olarte is that it is unjust to deprive the
injured party of the right to obtain vindication on account of delays that are not
under his control. This is because in criminal prosecutions, the only thing that
the victim of the offense may do on his part to initiate the prosecution is to file
the requisite complaint.
In the case at bench, private respondents were not remiss in their right to
seek grievance against respondent as they filed their complaint before the city
prosecutor forty-two days after the alleged crime of libel occurred. It was the
Office of the City Prosecutor that committed an error when it filed the
complaint with the Metropolitan Trial Court.
The error was probably due to the confusion as to the proper venue for the
crime of libel brought about by the passage of R.A. 7691[21] which took effect
on April 15, 1994. Under Section 2 of the said Republic Act, the jurisdiction of
Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial
Courts was expanded to include all offenses punishable with imprisonment
not exceeding six (6) years. However, libel, which is punishable by
imprisonment ranging from six months and one day to four years [22] is not
covered as the said law excludes from its coverage cases within the exclusive
jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Courts[23]. Under Article 360 of the Revised
Penal Code, the information for libel should be filed with the Court of First

Instance, now the Regional Trial Court. The confusion was cleared up when
this Court issued Administrative Order No. 104-96 dated October 21, 1996
which categorically stated that LIBEL CASES SHALL BE TRIED BY THE
REGIONAL TRIAL COURTS HAVING JURISDICTION OVER THEM TO THE
EXCLUSION OF THE METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURTS, MUNICIPAL TRIAL
COURTS IN CITIES, MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURTS AND MUNICIPAL
CIRCUIT TRIAL COURTS.[24]
Evidently, branch 215 of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City was
not spared the confusion brought about by R.A. 7691, as its dismissal of the
case then pending before it was made only on November 8, 1996 or more
than two years after it had taken cognizance of the case. Notably, the
dismissal by the Metropolitan Trial Court took place a mere eighteen (18) days
after the issuance of S.C. Administrative Order No. 104-96.
The mistake of the Office of the City Prosecutor in filing the complaint and
of the Metropolitan Trial Court in taking cognizance of the case was thus
understandable. The error was immediately rectified by the said court upon
realizing its mistake when it ruled it was the Regional Trial Court which had
the proper jurisdiction over the case. This mistake should not operate to
prejudice the interest of the state to prosecute criminal offenses and, more
importantly, the right of the offended party to obtain grievance.
Moreover, the doctrine in People vs. Olarte, as applied in later cases, was
not meant to apply solely to cases where the filing of the complaint with the
municipal trial court or the prosecutors office operates to interrupt the
prescription period for the prosecution of a crime.
In People vs. Galano[25], an information was filed with the Batangas
Regional Trial Court even though the evidence of both the prosecution and
defense shows that the crime was committed in Manila. This Court,
applying People vs. Olarte, held that it was only when the trial court dismissed
the case due to lack of jurisdiction that the proceedings therein terminated
without conviction and acquittal and it was only then that the prescriptive
period (which was interrupted during the during the pendency of the case in
the Batangas Court) commenced to run again.
In People vs. Enrile[26], informations were filed against civilians before
military tribunals which had no jurisdiction over the persons of these

civilians. These civilians questioned the re-filing of the cases against them
before the civil courts raising, among others, that the crimes for which they are
being charged have already prescribed. This Court, applying by analogy the
ruling in the Olarte case, threw out the defense of prescription and held that the
filing of the first indictments suspended the running of the prescriptive period,
and the prosecutions under the informations to be filed should be regarded as
mere continuations of the previous proceedings. At the very least, the Court
ruled, the filing of the first charges should be considered as having interrupted
the prescriptive period notwithstanding the lack of jurisdiction of the military
tribunal in which they were filed.
More recently, in the case of Reodica vs. Court of Appeals[27], an
information for reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property with slight
physical injuries was filed with the Regional Trial Court even though the
offense was within the exclusive jurisdiction of the municipal trial court. The
Court, even as it dismissed the cases pending before the Regional Trial Court
for lack of jurisdiction, disregarded the defense of prescription raised by the
accused. The Court, citing Olarte and the subsequent cases of Francisco vs.
Court of Appeals[28] andPeople vs. Cuaresma[29], ruled that the prescriptive
period for the quasi offenses in question was interrupted by the filing of the
complaint with the fiscals office three days after the vehicular mishap and
remained tolled pending the termination of the case.
From these cases, it is clear that the Apellate Court committed no
reversible error in ruling that the offense of libel charged against petitioner had
not yet prescribed. The period of prescription for the crime was interrupted
when the complaint was lodged with the Office of the City Prosecutor and
remained tolled pending the termination of the case against petitioner.Branch
218 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, therefore, correctly assumed
jurisdiction over the case of petitioner as the offense of libel for which she was
being charged has not yet prescribed.
Petitioners other argument that she has been denied her right to a speedy
trial deserves scant consideration. Well-established is the doctrine that the
right to a speedy trial is violated only where there is an unreasonable,
vexatious and oppressive delay without participation or fault of the accused, or
when unjustified postponements are sought which prolong the trial for an
unreasonable length of time[30]. In the case at bench, besides the filing of the
petitions before the Court of Appeals and this Court, petitioner had likewise

filed a Motion to Quash and a Motion for Reconsideration with the Regional
Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 218. As such, it is clear that petitioner is
not without fault in the delay in the prosecution of the case against her.
Wherefore, the petition is hereby DENIED, and the decision of the Court
of Appeals dated May 1, 1999 is hereby AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. Nos. 116259-60

February 20, 1996

SALVADOR P. SOCRATES, petitioner,


vs.
SANDIGANBAYAN, THIRD DIVISION, and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x
G.R. Nos. 118896-97

February 20, 1996

SALVADOR P. SOCRATES, petitioner,


vs.
SANDIGANBAYAN and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
DECISION
REGALADO, J.:
Before us are two consolidated original actions for certiorari and prohibition filed by petitioner
Salvador P. Socrates assailing the orders and resolution issued by respondent Sandiganbayan in
Criminal Cases Nos. 18027 and 18028, both entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Salvador P.
Socrates." In G.R. Nos. 116259-60, petitioner assails the legality of (a) the order dated February 9,
1994 denying petitioner's Amended and Consolidated Motion to Quash the Informations; 1 (b) the
order dated May 24, 1994 denying the Motion for Reconsideration and/or Reinvestigation; 2 and (c)
the order dated July 20, 1994 denying the Motion for Partial Reconsideration of the Order of May 24,
1994. 3 On the other hand, in G.R. Nos. 118896-97, petitioner seeks the annulment of the Resolution
dated December 23, 1994 4 ordering the preventive suspension of petitioner as Provincial Governor
of Palawan for a period of ninety (90) days, and to enjoin respondent court from enforcing the same.
The antecedent facts, as may be culled from the Comment filed by the Solicitor General in G.R. Nos.
116259-60, are as follows:
Petitioner who is the incumbent governor of Palawan, was first elected governor of the said
province in 1968 and was again reelected in both the 1971 and 1980 elections, until he was
replaced by private complainant Victoriano Rodriguez as Officer-In-Charge Governor after
the EDSA Revolution in February 1986. Subsequently, both petitioner and Rodriguez ran for

governor in the 1988 elections where the latter emerged victorious. In the 1992 synchronized
national and local elections, the two again contested the gubernatorial post; and this time, it
was petitioner who won.
Meanwhile, at the time Rodriguez was still the OIC Governor of the province, the Provincial
Government of Palawan, as represented by Rodriguez and the Provincial Board Members of
Palawan, filed before the Office of the Tanodbayan two (2) complaints both dated December
5, 1986 and docketed as TBP No. 86-01119. The first complaint charged petitioner with
violation of Section 3(b) of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and
Corrupt Practices Act, and the second charged petitioner, together with several other
provincial officers, with violation of Section 3(a) and (g) of the same law (Annexes "A" & "A1", respectively, Petition).
Instead of filing a counter-affidavit as directed, petitioner filed a Motion to Suspend
Preliminary Investigation dated September 3, 1987 on the ground that upon the ratification of
the 1987 Constitution, the present Tanodbayan has been transformed into the Office of the
Special Prosecutor and has, therefore, lost his power to conduct preliminary investigation
(Annex "C", ibid.).
In a letter to the Honorable Tanodbayan dated June 23, 1988, however, Nelia YapFernandez, the Deputized Tanodbayan Prosecutor from the Office of the City Prosecutor of
Puerto Princesa City, requested that she be allowed to inhibit herself from handling the
preliminary investigation of the present case considering that petitioner appears to be her coprincipal sponsor in a wedding ceremony held last May 28, 1988 (Annex "C-3", ibid.).
On January 16, 1989, the Office of the Ombudsman received a letter from Rodriguez, who
was then the incumbent governor of the province, inquiring about the present status of TBP
No. 86-01119 (Annex "D",ibid.). In its 4th Indorsement dated February 7, 1989, the
Ombudsman referred the matter of continuing and terminating the investigation of the
present case to the newly deputized Tanodbayan Prosecutor, Sesinio Belen from the Office
of the Provincial Prosecutor (Annex "D-1", ibid.). However, the latter, in his 5th Indorsement
dated February 27, 1989 to the Ombudsman, requested that the present case be reassigned
to another Prosecutor considering that he is a long time close friend and "compadre" of
petitioner and that one of the complainants therein Eustaquio Gacott, Jr., who was formerly a
member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, is now the Provincial Prosecutor of Palawan, his
present superior (Annex "D-2", ibid.).
On April 25, 1989, petitioner was directed by the Ombudsman to comment on the lettermanifestation dated April 4, 1989 filed by Rodriguez requesting that an amendment be
effected on certain portions of the present complaint (Annexes "E" & "E-2", ibid.). No
comment having been received by the Ombudsman as of May 24, 1989, petitioner, on an
even date, was again directed to comment thereon (Annex "E-1", ibid.). Finally, petitioner
filed his required comment dated June 2, 1989 (Annex "E-3", ibid.).
Based on the Resolution dated August 27, 1992 of Special Prosecution Officer I Wendell
Barreras-Sulit (Annex "F-2", ibid.), which affirmed the Resolution dated February 21, 1992
rendered by Ombudsman Investigator Ernesto Nocos recommending the filing of appropriate
charges against petitioner, the Office of the Special Prosecutor filed on September 16, 1992
with the respondent Court two (2) Informations against petitioner, docketed as Criminal

Cases Nos. 18027 and 18028. The first was for violation of Section 3(h) of Republic Act No.
3019, and the second for violation of Section 3(e) of the same law (Annexes "F" & "F1",ibid.).
Before his arraignment could be set, petitioner initially filed an "Urgent Motion for Quashal of
Information and/or Reinvestigation in the Light of Supervening Facts." However, when the
said motion was subsequently called for hearing, petitioner's counsel was made to choose
which of the aforesaid two (2) conflicting motions he preferred to take up with respondent
Court. Thus, on January 18, 1993, petitioner filed an "Amended and Consolidated Motion to
Quash the Information in the Above-entitled Cases." After an Opposition and a Reply were
filed by the prosecution and petitioner, respectively, respondent court issued its first assailed
Resolution on February 9, 1994, denying the same (Annex "G", ibid.).
On March 15, 1994, petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration and/or Reinvestigation,
which was subsequently denied by respondent court in its second assailed Resolution
issued on May 24, 1992 (Annex "H-1", ibid.). 5
Petitioner then filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition, docketed as G.R. Nos. 116259-60,
challenging the aforementioned orders of the Sandiganbayan for allegedly having been issued with
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. It was likewise prayed that
respondent court be enjoined from taking cognizance of and from proceeding with the arraignment of
petitioner and the trial and hearing of Criminal Cases Nos. 18027-28 pending before it. Respondents
thereafter filed their Comment to which a Reply was submitted by petitioner.
In the meantime, no temporary restraining order having been issued by this Court in G.R. Nos.
116259-60, respondent court proceeded with the arraignment of herein petitioner on October 5, 1994
wherein a plea of not guilty was entered for him by the court after he refused to do so. Thereafter,
with the denial of petitioner's motion to quash the informations, the prosecution filed on October 11,
1994 before respondent court a Motion to Suspend Accused Pendente Lite 6 pursuant to Section 13
of Republic Act No. 3019. Petitioner opposed said motion on the ground that the validity of the
informations filed against him is still pending review before the Supreme Court. He further contended
therein that Section 13 of Republic Act No. 3019, on which the motion to suspend is based, is
unconstitutional in that it constitutes an undue delegation of executive power and is arbitrary and
discriminatory.
In view of the filing of the motion for his suspension, petitioner filed on October 14, 1994 in G.R. Nos.
116259-60 a Supplemental Petition 7 questioning the veracity of and seeking to restrain respondent
court from acting on said motion to suspend pendente lite, the hearing of which was scheduled on
October 17, 1994. However, before respondents could file their comment thereto as required by this
Court, petitioner, who initially sought the holding in abeyance of further action on his supplemental
petition until after respondent court shall have resolved the motion to suspend pendente lite,
eventually decided to withdraw the same purportedly in order not to delay the disposition of the main
petition. Hence, on January 16, 1995, this Court issued a resolution 8 granting the motion to withdraw
the supplemental petition and considering the petition in G.R. Nos. 116259-60 as submitted for
resolution.
In the interim, petitioner filed before respondent court on November 28, 1994 an amended motion to
include as co-principals: (a) in Criminal Case No. 18028, the members of the Sangguniang
Panlalawigan who authorized the purchase and repair of the vessel in question; and (b) in Criminal

Case No. 18027, the Board of Directors of ERA Technology and Resources Corporation which
entered into a contract with the Province of Palawan. 9 Petitioner argued that the non-inclusion of
these co-principals violates his right to due process and equal protection of the laws which thus
rendered the informations null and void. It appears that the prosecution did not oppose nor object to
this amended motion.
On December 23, 1994, respondent court, without ruling on petitioner's motion to include coprincipals, issued its questioned resolution granting the motion to suspend pendente lite and
ordering the suspension of petitioner as Provincial Governor of Palawan for a period of ninety (90)
days from notice.
His motion for the reconsideration thereof having been denied, another petition for certiorari and
prohibition with prayer for a restraining order was filed by petitioner on February 20, 1995 against the
same respondents, docketed as G.R. Nos. 118896-97, and which seeks to annul as well as to enjoin
respondent court from enforcing its resolution dated December 23, 1994 ordering his
suspension pendente lite. On March 8, 1995, the Court resolved to consolidate this second petition
with G.R. Nos. 116259-60.
From the mosaic of the foregoing events and the incidents interjected therein, the following pattern
of contentious issues has emerged:
In G.R. Nos. 116259-60, the validity of the informations filed in Criminal Cases Nos. 18027-28 is
being contested on three grounds, viz.: (1) the respondent court did not acquire jurisdiction over the
case on the ground that an inordinate delay of six (6) years between the conduct of the preliminary
investigation and the subsequent filing of the informations against petitioner constitutes a violation of
his constitutional rights to a speedy disposition of the case and due process of law pursuant to
the Tatad doctrine; (2) the facts charged do not constitute an offense; and (3) since the acts charged
in the complaints filed before the Tanodbayan are different from the charges contained in the
informations, another preliminary investigation should have been conducted, in the absence of which
there is a denial of due process.
In G.R. Nos. 118896-97, petitioner questions the validity of the suspension order in that: (1) he may
not be suspended while the issue on the validity of the informations filed against him is still pending
review before the Supreme Court; and (2) Section 13 of Republic Act No. 3019, which forms the
basis of the order of suspension, is unconstitutional on the ground that it constitutes an undue
delegation of the authority to suspend which is essentially an executive power. Petitioner contends
that the jurisprudential doctrines relied upon by respondent court in upholding the constitutionality of
Section 13 are not applicable to the cases at bar which involve an issue not yet passed upon by this
Court. In addition, petitioner again attacks the legality of the subject informations for having been
filed in violation of the due process and equal protection clauses by reason of the non-inclusion
therein, as co-principals, of the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan who approved the
purchase of the vessel, as well as the board of directors of ERA Technology and Resource
Corporation which entered into a contract with the Province of Palawan.
I. G.R. Nos. 116259-60
1. In asserting that there was a violation of his right to a speedy trial by reason of the unreasonable
delay of six (6) years between the conduct of the preliminary investigation and the filing of the
informations, petitioner invokes the doctrine laid down in the leading case of Tatad

vs. Sandiganbayan, et al. 10 In said case, all the affidavits and counter-affidavits had already been
filed with the Tanodbayan for final disposition as of October 25, 1982 but it was only on June 12,
1985, or three (3) years thereafter, that the informations accusing Tatad of a violation of Republic Act
No. 3019 were filed before the Sandiganbayan. The Court held there that an inordinate delay of
three (3) years in the conduct and termination of the preliminary investigation is violative of the
constitutional rights of the accused to due process and speedy disposition of his case, by reason of
which the informations filed against the accused therein were ordered dismissed. It must be
emphasized, however, that in the Tatad case, no explanation or ratiocination was advanced by the
prosecution therein as to the cause of the delay.
In the present case, as distinguished from the factual milieu obtaining in Tatad, respondent court
found that the six-year delay in the termination of the preliminary investigation was caused by
petitioner's own acts. Thus:
In the cases at bar, the record shows that delay in the filing of the Informations in these
cases was caused, not by inaction of the prosecution, but by the following actuations of the
accused:
(1) Sometime after the complaint of private complainant was filed with the Office of the City
Fiscal of the City of Puerto Princesa, preliminary investigation was held in abeyance on
account of the motion of accused Salvador P. Socrates, entitled "Motion to Suspend
Preliminary Investigation" Suspension was prayed for until an Ombudsman, as provided in
Executive Order No. 243, shall have been appointed;
(2) Preliminary investigation was interrupted when private complainant, then Governor
Victoriano J. Rodriguez, filed on April 24, 1989, a letter-manifestation correcting the
complaint;
(3) Only on September 22, 1989 did the accused in these cases file with the Office of the
Ombudsman a reply to complainant's manifestation;
(4) In view of the foregoing actuations of the parties, preliminary investigation of these cases
was started in earnest only on June 25, 1990. Respondents then, including the accused
herein, were required to submit counter-affidavits;
(5) Interrupting preliminary proceedings again, accused Governor Salvador P. Socrates, on
August 13, 1990, filed a motion to dismiss the complaint upon the following grounds:
(a) That the Honorable Ombudsman has no jurisdiction over the person of
respondent; and
(b) That the complaint does not conform substantially to the prescribed form.
The private complainant was, as a matter of right, granted a period of time within which to
oppose the motion. The prosecution necessarily had to ponder on the motion after protracted
deliberations;

(6) On April 1, 1991, counsel for the accused filed an "Appearance and Motion for Extension
of Time to File Appropriate Pleading." Counsel prayed that "respondents be granted an
extension of twenty (20) days within which to comply with the order of March 11, 1991";
(7) The accused Governor Salvador P. Socrates, through counsel, filed a motion to
quash/dismiss on December 17, 1991. This pleading was received by the Office of the
Deputy Ombudsman only on January 13, 1992. It took some time for the prosecution to
resolve the motion and there never was any intimation on the part of the accused that the
accused was invoking his right to a speedy disposition of the complaint against him. The
motion to quash/dismiss was in fact denied by the prosecution in an order dated January 20,
1990;
(8) A motion for reconsideration having been filed thereafter, the Informations in these cases
were after all filed on September 16, 1992, but only after the ruling of the prosecution on the
motion to quash/dismiss. 11
Petitioner, in a futile attempt to refute the foregoing factual findings of respondent court, could only
raise the defense that the motion to suspend the preliminary investigation did not affect the
proceedings therein; that the preliminary investigation really started on February 18, 1987 when the
Tanodbayan issued subpoenas to the respondents; that the motion to dismiss/ quash the complaints
was purposely for the early termination of the preliminary investigation; that the filing of the complaint
was politically motivated, as may be gleaned from the affidavit of complainant Rodriguez; and that
pursuant to Section 3, Rule 112 of the Rules of Court, the case should have been resolved within ten
(10) days from the time the investigation was concluded.
Clearly, the facts of the case at bar are diametrically opposed to the factual situation
in Tatad because the obviously delaying tactics resorted to by herein petitioner were not present in
the latter case. Furthermore, the allegation that the filing of the complaint was politically motivated
does not serve to justify the nullification of the informations where the existence of such motive has
not been sufficiently established nor substantial evidence presented in support thereof. The situation
in Tatad was quite to the contrary since the accused therein successfully proved that the charges
were filed against him only after it became widely known that he actually had a falling out with the
late President Marcos.
That scenario impelled the Court to make the admonition therein that "prosecutors should not allow,
and should avoid, giving the impression that their noble office is being used or prostituted, wittingly
or unwittingly, for political ends or other purposes alien to, or subversive of, the basic and
fundamental objective of serving the interest of justice evenhandedly, without fear or favor to any
and all litigants alike, whether rich or poor, weak or strong, powerless or mighty." Such an exigency
apparently does not obtain in the case at bar. There is nothing in the records from which it can be
conclusively inferred, expressly or impliedly, that the investigating prosecutors were politically
motivated or even coerced into filing these criminal charges against petitioner.
We likewise do not adhere to petitioner's asseveration that the orders issued by Branches 51 and 52
of the Regional Trial Court of Puerto Princesa City quashing the informations for technical
malversation filed against herein petitioner, on the ground that the inordinate delay in the termination
of the preliminary investigation constitutes a violation of petitioner's right to due process and speedy
disposition of his case which thereby ousted said courts of jurisdiction thereover, have become final
and conclusive by reason of the prosecution's' failure to file an appeal therefrom. We have carefully

scrutinized the orders adverted to and we find and so hold that the same cannot effectively deter the
prosecution herein from proceeding with the trial before the Sandiganbayan.
First, the criminal cases for technical malversation filed before said Regional Trial Court are different
from the charges for violation of Republic Act No. 3019 filed with the Sandiganbayan. The former is
covered by a general law while the latter involves a special law, with variant elements of the offenses
being required, hence double jeopardy cannot set in. Second, and more importantly, it will be noted
that the trial court in the malversation case hastily concluded that there was an inordinate delay of
six (6) years in the termination of the preliminary investigation through the mere expedient of
counting the number of years that had elapsed from the institution of the complaint with the
Ombudsman until the filing of the informations in court, without bothering to inquire into the pertinent
factual considerations and procedural technicalities involved.
In arriving at such a self-serving conclusion, the trial court confined itself strictly to a mathematical
reckoning of the time involved, instead of undertaking a more substantive appreciation of the
circumstances and particulars which could have possibly caused the delay. On the contrary, herein
respondent court has convincingly shown that the preliminary investigation dragged on for several
years owing, ironically, to petitioner's evident propensity to resort to dilatory tactics. In the cases now
before us, it cannot be successfully and validly contended that petitioner's right to speedy trial has
been violated.
We have only to reiterate the declaration made in Tatad to the effect that in the application of the
constitutional guaranty of the right to speedy disposition of cases, particular regard must also be
taken of the facts and circumstances peculiar to each case. It is palpably clear that the application of
the Tatad doctrine should not be made to rely solely on the length of time that has passed but equal
concern should likewise be accorded to the factual ambiance and considerations. It can easily be
deduced from a complete reading of the adjudicatory discourse in Tatad that the three-year delay
was specifically considered vis-a-vis all the facts and circumstances which obtained therein.
Perforce, even on this ground alone, the instant petition for certiorari should be dismissed.
A speedy trial is one conducted according to the law of criminal procedure and the rules and
regulations, free from vexatious, capricious and oppressive delays. The primordial purpose of this
constitutional right is to prevent the oppression of an accused by delaying criminal prosecution for an
indefinite period of time. 12 In the cases at bar, while there may have been some delay, it was
petitioner himself who brought about the situation of which he now complains.
2. Petitioner then questions the sufficiency of the allegations in the informations in that the same do
not constitute an offense supposedly because (a) in Criminal Case No. 18027, there is no statement
that herein petitioner actually intervened and participated, as a board member of ERA Technology
and Resources Corporation, in the latter's contract with the Province of Palawan, which is allegedly
an element necessary to constitute a violation of Section 3(h) of Republic Act No. 3019; and (b) in
Criminal Case No. 18028, the information failed to show a causal relation between the act done by
the accused and the undue injury caused to the provincial government of Palawan.
With respect to the alleged defects in the information filed in Criminal Case No. 18027 for violation of
Section 3(h) of the anti-graft law, petitioner invokes the ruling in the case of Trieste,
Sr. vs. Sandiganbayan 13 where it was held that "what is contemplated in Section 3(h) of the antigraft law is the actual intervention in the transaction in which one has financial or pecuniary interest
in order that liability may attach." In the cited case, however, the Court found that the petitioner

therein did not, in any way, intervene in making the awards and payment of the purchases in
question since he signed the voucher only after all the purchases had already been made, delivered
and paid for by the municipal treasurer.
The purchases involved therein were previously ordered by the municipal treasurer without the
knowledge and consent of the accused municipal mayor, were subsequently delivered by the
supplier, and were thereafter paid by the treasurer again without the knowledge and consent of the
mayor. The only participation of the accused mayor in the transaction involved the mechanical act of
signing the disbursement vouchers for record purposes only. Thus, the Court did not consider the act
therein of the accused mayor to be covered by the prohibition under Section 3(h) of the law.
Contrariwise, in the present cases, petitioner Socrates stands charged with a violation of Section
3(h) for intervening in his official capacity as Governor of Palawan in reviewing and approving the
disbursement voucher dated August 2, 1982 for payment in favor of ERA Technology Resources
Corporation where he was one of the incorporators and members of the board of directors. Such
allegation clearly indicates the nature and extent of petitioner's participation in the questioned
transaction. Without petitioner's approval, payment could not possibly have been effected.
We likewise do not find any flaw in the information filed in Criminal Case No. 18028, for violation of
Section 3(e), which would warrant the dismissal thereof. Evidentiary facts need not be alleged in the
information because these are matters of defense. Informations need only state the ultimate facts;
the reasons therefor could be proved during the trial. 14 Hence, there is no need to state facts in the
information which would prove the causal relation between the act done by the accused and the
undue injury caused to the Province of Palawan. Antipodal to petitioner's contention, a reading of the
information in Criminal Case No. 18028 will readily disclose that the essential elements of the
offense charged have been sufficiently alleged therein. It is not proper, therefore, to resolve the
charges right at the outset without the benefit of a full-blown trial. The issues require a fuller
ventilation and examination. Given all the circumstances of this case, we feel it would be
unwarranted to cut off the prosecutory process at this stage of the proceedings and to dismiss the
information. 15
3. It is likewise asserted by petitioner that the elements of the offenses charged in the complaints are
different from those stated in the informations which were filed before the Sandiganbayan, and that
since there was no preliminary investigation conducted with respect to the latter, such informations
should be declared null and void for lack of due process.
The first complaint for violation of Section 3(b) became the basis for the filing of an information in
Criminal Case No. 18027 for a violation of Section 3(h). In both, petitioner is accused of intervening
in his official capacity as Provincial Governor in the contracts for the installation and construction of
waterwork projects, with the ERA Technology and Resources Corporation, where he was an
incorporator and a member of the board of directors, thereby directly or indirectly benefiting from
said transactions. In Criminal Case No. 18028, petitioner was charged with a violation of Section
3(e) as a result of the complaint filed against him and several others for a violation of Section 3(a)
and (g). In both instances, petitioner is charged with the disbursement of public funds for the
purchase of a motor launch which was grossly and manifestly disadvantageous to the provincial
government of Palawan because the same broke down only after its maiden voyage.
It is thus clearly apparent that the complaints and the informations are based on substantially the
same factual settings, except that the respective designations are different. Axiomatic is the rule that

what controls is not the designation of the offense but its description in the complaint or
information. 16 The real nature of the criminal charge is determined not from the caption or preamble
of the information nor from the specification of the provision of law alleged to have been violated,
they being conclusions of law, but by the actual recital of facts in the complaint or information. It is
not the technical name given by the fiscal appearing in the title of the information that determines the
character of the crime but the facts alleged in the body of the information. 17
This Court has repeatedly held that when the facts, acts and circumstances are set forth in the body
of an information with sufficient certainty to constitute an offense and to apprise the defendant of the
nature of the charge against him, a misnomer or innocuous designation of a crime in the caption or
other parts of the information will not vitiate it. In such a case, the facts set forth in the charge
controls the erroneous designation of the offense and the accused stands indicted for the offense
charged in the statement of facts. The erroneous designation may be disregarded as surplusage. 18
Furthermore, it will be observed that it is the same section of the law which is involved in the present
case, that is, Section 3 of Republic Act No. 3019, albeit it defines several modes of committing the
same offense. It is an old and well-settled rule in the appreciation of indictments that where an
offense may be committed in any of several different modes, and the offense, in any particular
instance, is alleged to have been committed in two or more of the modes specified, it is sufficient to
prove the offense committed through any one of them, provided that it be such as to constitute the
substantive offense. Thereafter, a judgment of conviction must be sustained if it appears from the
evidence in the record that the accused was guilty as charged of any one of these modes of the
offense.19
Neither will the absence of a preliminary investigation, assuming that it is necessary to conduct a
new one, affect the validity of the informations filed against petitioner. It has been consistently held
that the absence of a preliminary investigation does not impair the validity of the criminal information
or render it defective. Dismissal of the case is not the remedy. 20 It is not a ground for the quashal of
a complaint or information. The proper course of action that should be taken is for the
Sandiganbayan to hold in abeyance the proceedings upon such information and to remand the case
to the office of the Ombudsman for him or the Special Prosecutor to conduct a preliminary
investigation 21 if the accused actually makes out a case justifying such relief.
On the bases of the foregoing disquisitions, therefore, we rule and so hold that the informations filed
against petitioner are valid and legal.
II. G.R. Nos. 118896-97
The main issue submitted herein for resolution is the legality of the petitioner's preventive
suspension, which is premised on several grounds.
1. Initially, petitioner claims that the Sandiganbayan committed a grave abuse of discretion in
ordering his suspension despite the fact that the validity of the informations filed against him is still
pending review before the Supreme Court. In support thereof, he invokes the rule laid down
in Eternal Gardens Memorial Park Corporation vs. Court of appeals, et al. 22 that even if no
temporary restraining order was issued by the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals could have
refrained from taking any action while the petition for certiorari was pending with the Supreme Court.
Petitioner insists that this is what respondent court should have done. Under this particular issue,

petitioner is in effect seeking a review of the order issued by the Sandiganbayan, dated February 9,
1994, denying his amended and consolidated motion to quash the information.
We have but to reiterate the fundamental rule that an order denying a motion to quash is
interlocutory and therefore not appealable, nor can it be the subject of a petition for certiorari. Such
order may only be reviewed in the ordinary course of law by an appeal from the judgment after
trial. 23 In other words, it cannot be the subject of appeal until the judgment or a final order is
rendered. The ordinary procedure to be followed in that event is to enter a plea, go to trial and if the
decision is adverse, reiterate the issue on appeal from the final judgment. 24Although the special civil
action for certiorari may be availed of in case there is a grave abuse of discretion or lack of
jurisdiction, that vitiating error is not attendant in the present case.
Section 13 of Republic Act No. 3019 provides that:
Sec. 13. Suspension and Loss of Benefits. Any incumbent public officer against whom any
criminal prosecution under a valid information under this Act or under Title 7, Book II of the
Revised Penal Code or for any offense involving fraud upon government or public funds or
property whether as a simple or as complex offense and in whatever stage of execution and
mode of participation, is pending in court, shall be suspended from office. Should he be
convicted by final judgment, he shall lose all retirement or gratuity benefits under any law,
but if he is acquitted, he shall be entitled to reinstatement and to the salaries and benefits
which he failed to receive during suspension, unless in the meantime administrative
proceedings have been filed against him. 25
This Court has ruled that under Section 13 of the anti-graft law, the suspension of a public officer is
mandatory after the validity of the information has been upheld in a pre-suspension hearing
conducted for that purpose. This pre-suspension hearing is conducted to determine basically the
validity of the information, from which the court can have a basis to either suspend the accused and
proceed with the trial on the merits of the case, or correct any part of the proceeding which impairs
its validity. The hearing may be treated in the same -manner as a challenge to the validity of the
information by way of a motion to quash. 26
In the leading case of Luciano, et al. vs. Mariano, et al. 27 we have set out the guidelines to be
followed by the lower courts in the exercise of the power of suspension under Section 13 of the law,
to wit:
(c) By way of broad guidelines for the lower courts in the exercise of the power of suspension
from office of public officers charged under a valid information under the provisions of
Republic Act No. 3019 or under the provisions of the Revised Penal Code on bribery,
pursuant to Section 13 of said Act, it may be briefly stated that upon the filing of such
information, the trial court should issue an order with proper notice requiring the accused
officer to show cause at a specific date of hearing why he should not be ordered suspended
from office pursuant to the cited mandatory provisions of the Act. Where either the
prosecution seasonably files a motion for an order of suspension or the accused in turn files
a motion to quash the information or challenges the validity thereof, such show-cause order
of the trial court would no longer be necessary. What is indispensable is that the trial court
duly hear the parties at a hearing held for determining the validity of the information, and
thereafter hand down its ruling, issuing the corresponding order or suspension should it
uphold the validity of the information or withhold such suspension in the contrary case.

(d) No specific rules need be laid down for such pre-suspension hearing. Suffice it to state
that the accused should be given a fair and adequate opportunity to challenge the validity of
the criminal proceedings against him, e.g., that he has not been afforded the right of due
preliminary investigation; that the acts for which he stands charged do not constitute a
violation of the provisions of Republic Act No. 3019 or of the bribery provisions of the
Revised Penal Code which would warrant his mandatory suspension from office under
Section 13 of the Act; or he may present a motion to quash the information on any of the
grounds provided in Rule 117 of the Rules of Court. The mandatory suspension decreed by
the Act upon determination of the pendency in court of a criminal prosecution for violation of
the Anti-Graft Act or for bribery under a valid information requires at the same time that the
hearing be expeditious, and not unduly protracted such as to thwart the prompt suspension
envisioned by the Act. Hence, if the trial court, say, finds the ground alleged in the quashal
motion not to be indubitable, then it shall be called upon to issue the suspension order upon
its upholding the validity of the information and setting the same for trial on the merits.
With the aforequoted jurisprudential authority as the basis, it is evident that upon a proper
determination of the validity of the information, it becomes mandatory for the court to immediately
issue the suspension order. The rule on the matter is specific and categorical. It leaves no room for
interpretation. It is not within the court's discretion to hold in abeyance the suspension of the
accused officer on the pretext that the order denying the motion to quash is pending review before
the appellate courts. Its discretion lies only during the pre-suspension hearing where it is required to
ascertain whether or not (1) the accused had been afforded due preliminary investigation prior to the
filing of the information against him, (2) the acts for which he was charged constitute a violation of
the provisions of Republic Act No. 3019 or of the provisions of Title 7, Book II of the Revised Penal
Code, or (3) the informations against him can be quashed, under any of the grounds provided in
Section 2, Rule 117 of the Rules of Court. 28
Once the information is found to be sufficient in form and substance, then the court must issue the
order of suspension as a matter of course. There are no ifs and buts about it. This is because a
preventive suspension is not a penalty. It is not imposed as a result of judicial proceedings. In fact, if
acquitted, the official concerned shall be entitled to reinstatement and to the salaries and benefits
which he failed to receive during suspension. In view of this latter provision, the accused elective
public officer does not stand to be prejudiced by the immediate enforcement of the suspension order
in the event that the information is subsequently declared null and void on appeal and the case
dismissed as against him. Taking into consideration the public policy involved in preventively
suspending a public officer charged under a valid information, the protection of public interest will
definitely have to prevail over the private interest of the accused. 29
To further emphasize the ministerial duty of the court under Section 13 of Republic Act No. 3019, it is
said that the court trying a case has neither discretion nor duty to determine whether or not a
preventive suspension is required to prevent the accused from using his office to intimidate
witnesses or frustrate his prosecution or continue committing malfeasance in office. The presumption
is that unless the accused is suspended, he may frustrate his prosecution or commit further acts of
malfeasance or do both, in the same way that upon a finding that there is probable cause to believe
that a crime has been committed and that the accused is probably guilty thereof, the law requires the
judge to issue a warrant for the arrest of the accused. The law does not require the court to
determine whether the accused is likely to escape or evade the jurisdiction of the court. 30

Applying now the procedure outlined in Luciano, the records of the instant case do not show that the
proceedings leading to the filing of the informations against petitioner were tainted with any
irregularity so as to invalidate the same. Likewise, the informations show that the allegations
contained therein meet the essential elements of the offense as defined by the substantive law. The
record is also bereft of undisputed facts to warrant the quashal of the informations under any of the
grounds provided in Section 2, Rule 117 of the Rules of Court. 31 Finally, a cursory reading of the
order dated February 9, 1994 issued by respondent court will show that petitioner was given the
opportunity to be heard on his motion to quash. Veritably, the Sandiganbayan did not commit a grave
abuse of discretion in denying the motion to quash and ordering the preventive suspension of herein
petitioner.
2. Additionally, petitioner avers that the informations filed against him on which the order of
suspension was based, are null and void in view of the non-inclusion of his co-principals which thus
constitutes a violation of petitioner's right to due process and equal protection of the law and,
therefore, ousted respondent court of its jurisdiction over the case. Petitioner alleges that in Criminal
Case No. 18027, the board of directors of ERA Technology Corporation should have been included
as principals by indispensable cooperation because without them he could not possibly have
committed the offense.
Also, he claims that in Criminal Case No. 18028, the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan
who issued the resolutions authorizing the purchase and repair of the motor launch should likewise
have been included as principals by inducement or indispensable cooperation, considering that
petitioner was allegedly merely implementing their resolutions. Hence, according to him, since the
informations are null and void, the suspension order which is based thereon should necessarily also
be declared null and void. We find no merit in petitioner's arguments.
First, the rule under Section 1, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court, as reformulated in Section 2, Rule 110
of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure, is that all criminal actions must be commenced either by
complaint or information in the name of the People of the Philippines "against all persons who
appear to be responsible for the offense involved." The law makes it a legal duty for prosecuting
officers to file the charges against whomsoever the evidence may show to be responsible for an
offense. This does not mean, however, that they shall have no discretion at all; their discretion lies in
determining whether the evidence submitted justify a reasonable belief that a person has committed
an offense. What the rule demands is that all persons who appear responsible shall be charged in
the information, which conversely implies that those against whom no sufficient evidence of guilt
exists are not required to be included.32
This notwithstanding, it has equally been ruled that the failure of the fiscal to include the other public
officials who appear to be responsible for the offense charged as co-accused in the information filed
against the accused does not in any way vitiate the validity of the information under the Rules. 33
Second, a failure to include other persons who appear to be responsible for the crime charged is not
one of the grounds provided under Section 3, Rule 117 for which a motion to quash the information
against the accused may be filed, most especially in the case at bar where there is prima facie proof
that petitioner is probably guilty of the offense charged, aside from the fact that there is no allegation
of conspiracy in the informations. Besides, such an infirmity would neither have the effect of
extinguishing or mitigating petitioner's liability if he is subsequently found guilty of the offense
charged. No one would contend that if for lack of knowledge of the facts, by mistake or for any other
reason the prosecuting officer fails to include the names of one or more persons in an information

filed by him, who were in fact guilty participants in the commission of the crime charged therein, such
persons will be relieved of criminal liability; or that those accused who have been charged with the
offense, brought to trial, and found guilty will be permitted to escape punishment merely because it
develops in the course of the trial, or after the trial, that there were other guilty participants in the
crime.34
Granting arguendo that this plaint of petitioner may be invoked as a ground for the quashal of the
informations, the motion to quash must still be denied for having been filed only after petitioner had
been arraigned. Section 8, Rule 117 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure provides that "(t)he
failure of the accused to assert any ground of a motion to quash before he pleads to the complaint or
information, either because he did not file a motion to quash or failed to allege the same in said
motion, shall be deemed a waiver of the grounds of a motion to quash, except the grounds of no
offense charged, lack of jurisdiction over the offense charged, extinction of the offense or penalty
and jeopardy." The failure to include a co-accused is not covered by the exception; hence, the same
is deemed waived.
Third, where the government prosecutor unreasonably refuses to file an information or to include a
person as an accused therein despite the fact that the evidence clearly warrants such action, the
offended party has the following remedies: (1) in case of grave abuse of discretion, he may file an
action for mandamus to compel the prosecutor to file such information; (2) he may lodge a new
complaint against the offenders before the Ombudsman and have a new examination conducted as
required by law; (3) he may institute administrative charges against the erring prosecutor, or a
criminal complaint under Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code, or a civil action for damages under
Article 27 of the Civil Code; (4) he may secure the appointment of another prosecutor; or (5) he may
institute another criminal action if no double jeopardy is involved.
Fourth, it is significant and demonstrative of petitioner's strategy that from the inception of the
criminal complaint before the Ombudsman and during the conduct of the preliminary investigation,
until the filing of the informations before the Sandiganbayan and up to the denial of his amended and
consolidated motion to quash, herein petitioner has not been heard to complain about the alleged
non-inclusion of the other supposed offenders. Indeed, it is now much too late for petitioner to invoke
and exploit this particular unfounded issue.
Prescinding from the averments raised in the complaint and information, from the facts and evidence
of record, we do not deem it necessary to include the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of
Palawan and the board members of the ERA Technology and Resources Corporation as co-accused
in the informations filed against herein petitioner. Insofar as the board members of said corporation
are concerned, they may be prosecuted only under Section 4(b) of Republic Act No. 3019 which
provides that "(i)t shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to induce or cause any public official to
commit any of the offenses defined in Section 3 thereof." In the information filed in Criminal Case
No. 18027, petitioner stands charged with a violation of Section 3(h). It does not contain any
allegation to the effect that the board members knowingly induced or caused herein petitioner to
commit the offense defined therein, which is an essential element of the crime in Section 4(b).
Indubitably, therefore, the board members cannot be included as co-principals in Criminal Case No.
18027.
On the other hand, the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan cannot likewise be included in
the information for violation of Section 3(e) filed in Criminal Case No. 18028, for the simple reason
that it is not the validity of their resolution which is in issue here. While it is true that

said sanggunian passed a resolution authorizing the allocation of funds for the purchase of a motor
launch, and that petitioner merely acted on the strength thereof, it is not the fact of such
authorization which is the subject of the charges against petitioner but rather the manner by which
that resolution was implemented by the latter. There is nothing in the averments in the information
from which it could be inferentially deduced that the members of the sanggunian participated,
directly or indirectly, in the purchase of the vessel, and which fact could be the basis for their
indictment.
3. Lastly, petitioner questions the legality of his suspension on the ground that Section 13 of
Republic Act No. 3019, which is the basis thereof, is unconstitutional for being an undue delegation
of executive power to the Sandiganbayan. He postulates that the power of suspension, which is an
incident of the power of removal, is basically administrative and executive in nature. He further
submits that the power of removal vested in the court under Section 9 of Republic Act No. 3019 is an
incident of conviction, that is, it can only be exercised after a conviction has been handed down.
Hence, according to petitioner, since the power to suspend is merely incidental to the power of
removal, the former can only be exercised as an incident to conviction. Also, considering that
Section 13 authorizes the court to exercise the power of suspension even prior to conviction of the
accused, it cannot be considered as an exercise of judicial power because it is not within the ambit
of the court's power of removal. In addition, petitioner avers that Section 13 is arbitrary and
discriminatory because it serves no purpose at all, in that it does not require a proceeding to
determine if there is sufficient ground to suspend, except for the fact that it is required by law.
Although presented differently, the issue on the court's power of suspension under Section 13 has
been squarely and directly raised and adjudicated in the case of Luciano vs. Provincial Governor, et
al.,35 the pronouncements wherein we quote in extenso:
3. Proceeding from our holding that suspension is not automatic, who should exercise the
mandatory act of suspension under Section 13 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act?
Three theories have been advanced. One is that the power of suspension where a criminal
case has already been filed in court still is with the Provincial Governor, relying on Section
2188 of the Revised Administrative Code. Another is that, following the ruling in Sarcos vs.
Castillo . . ., because the main respondents are elective municipal officials, that power of
suspension must be held to repose in the Provincial Board, under Section 5 of the
Decentralization Act of 1967 (Republic Act 5185). The third is that, by Section 13 of the AntiGraft and Corrupt Practices Act, solely the court in which the criminal case has been filed
shall wield the power of suspension.
We opt for the third. Common sense and the scheme of the law so dictate.
It is true that nothing in Section 13 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act grants with
specificity upon the Court of First Instance the power to suspend an official charged with a
violation thereof. It would seem to us though that suspensions by virtue of criminal
proceedings are separate and distinct from suspensions in administrative cases. An accurate
reading of Section 13 yields two methods of investigation, one separate from the other: one
criminal before the courts of justice, and the other administrative. This is the plain import of
the last sentence of Section 13, which says that if acquitted, defendant in an Anti-Graft and
Corrupt Practices case "shall be entitled to reinstatement and to the salaries and benefits
which he failed to receive during suspension, unless in the meantime administrative

proceedings have been filed against him." Our interpretation but preserves, as it should, the
substantial symmetry between the first part of Section 13 and the last part thereof just
quoted.
And so, there is in this legal provision a recognition that once a case is filed in court, all other
acts connected with the discharge of court functions which here include suspension should
be left to the Court of First Instance.
Not that this view finds no statutory support. By Section 9 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt
Practices Act, the court is empowered to punish any public official committing any of the
unlawful acts or omissions enumerated in Sections 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the law, amongst others,
to "perpetual disqualification from public office." Here, the Makati elective officials heretofore
named have been charged with and found guilty of a violation of Section 3(8) of the AntiGraft and Corrupt Practices Act and were sentenced by the court below, amongst others, to
be "perpetually disqualified to hold office." Article 30 of the Revised Penal Code declares that
the penalty of perpetual absolute disqualification entails "(t)he deprivation of the public
offices and employments which the offender may have held, even if conferred by popular
election." No stretch of the imagination is necessary to show that perpetual absolute
disqualification which, in effect, is encompassed in the punishment set forth in Section 9 of
the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act covers that. of removal from the office which each of
the respondent municipal official holds.
Since removal from office then is within the power of the court, no amount of judicial
legerdemain would deprive the court of the power to suspend. Reason for this is that
suspension necessarily is included in the greater power of removal. It is without doubt that
Congress has power to authorize courts to suspend public officers pending court
proceedings for removal and that the congressional grant is not violative of the separation of
powers. For, our Constitution being silent, we are not to say that from Congress is withheld
the power to decide the mode or procedure of suspension and removal of public officers.
A look into the legislative intent, along with the legislative scheme, convinces us the more
that the power of suspension should be lodged with the court. While the law may not be a
model of precise verbal structure, the intent is there. Section 13 requires as a pre-condition
of the power to suspend that there be a valid information. Validity of information, of course, is
determined by the Court of First Instance where the criminal case is pending. That is
essentially a judicial function. Suspension is a sequel to that finding, an incident to the
criminal proceedings before the court. Indeed, who can suspend except one who knows the
facts upon which suspension is based? We draw support from Lacson vs. Roque, supra, at
page 469: "We are certain that no authority or good reason can be found in support of a
proposition that the Chief Executive can suspend an officer facing criminal charges for the
sole purpose of aiding the court in the administration of justice. Independent of the other
branches of the Government, the courts can well take care of their own administration of the
law.
The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, an important legislation, should not be artificially
construed so as to exclude the courts from the power to suspend a prime tool designed by
Congress to prevent the power which an official wields from frustrating the purity and
certainty of the administration of justice. Surely, we should not be pedantically exacting in
reading its provisions. We should rather say that if the court's power of suspension incident

to the court proceedings is to be withheld of narrowed by construction, Congress should


have spelled it out in no uncertain terms. . . .
The Court then hastened to clarify that such a view may not be taken as an encroachment upon the
power of suspension given other officials, reiterating in the process that a line should be drawn
between administrative proceedings and criminal actions in court, that one is apart from the other.
Elucidating further on the possible danger which may arise if the power of suspension, in
consequence of a criminal action under Republic Act No. 3019 is vested in any authority other than
the court, it declared that:
There is reasonable ground to believe that Congress did really apprehend danger should the
power of suspension in consequence of a criminal case under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt
Practices Act be lodged in any authority other than the court. Quite apart from the fact that
the court has a better grasp of the situation, there is one other factor, and that is, the rights of
the person accused. The court could very well serve as a lever to balance in one equation
the public interests involved and the interests of the defendant. And then, there is the danger
that partisan politics may creep in. The hand of political oppression cannot just be ignored
especially if the majority members of the Provincial Board and the defendant public local
elective officer are on opposite sides of the political fence. Power may be abused.
Conversely, if both are of the same political persuasion, the suspending authority will display
reluctance in exercising the power of suspension. It is thus that the statute should catch up
with the realities of political life. There is indeed the dispiriting lesson that in a clash between
political considerations and conscience it is the latter that quite often gets dented. . . .
xxx

xxx

xxx

Therefore, since suspension is incident to removal and should proceed from one who should
logically do so, and considering that in the operation of a given statute fairness must have
been in the mind of the legislators, we brush aside needless refinements, and rule that under
Section 13 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, once a valid information upon the
provisions thereof is lodged with the Court of First Instance, that court has the inescapable
duty to suspend the public official indicted thereunder.
These cases have long been on the line, unduly stretched beyond their logical parameters and the
permissible time frame. Indeed, it is high time, ironically in fairness to petitioner himself, that the
same be now calcined in the judicial crucible into their ultimate configuration.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petitions in G.R. Nos. 116259-60 and 118896-97 are
hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit, with costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.

[A.M. No. RTJ-04-1879. January 17, 2005]

SPO4 EDUARDO ALONZO, complainant, vs. JUDGE CRISANTO C.


CONCEPCION, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court of Malolos
City, Branch 12, Province of Bulacan, respondent.

RESOLUTION
PUNO, J.:

The zeal to uphold justice, albeit an admirable and desirable trait, must
never be allowed to blind judges to the limits of judicial power or to obscure
the boundaries set by the law.
The facts are as follows:
On May 10, 2003, in the municipality of Paombong, Bulacan, a wedding
party was being celebrated behind the house of the newly-married couple. At
the party and drinking together at the same table were SPO4 Eduardo Alonzo
(SPO4 Alonzo), Jun Rances (Rances), Zoilo Salamat (Salamat) and Rey
Santos (Santos). While waiting to be seated, Pedrito Alonzo (Pedrito) was
introduced by SPO4 Alonzo to Rances as his nephew and as the son of exCaptain Alonzo. SPO4 Alonzo then introduced him to Salamat. Pedrito and his
companions took their seats and started drinking at the table across SPO4
Alonzos table. After some time, Pedrito stood up to urinate at the back of the
house. Santos passed a bag to Salamat, and they followed Pedrito. Rances
likewise followed them. A shot rang out. Salamat was seen placing a gun
inside the bag as he hurriedly left. The wedding guests ran after Salamat.
They saw him and Rances board a vehicle being driven by Santos. Pedritos
uncle, Jose Alonzo, sought the help of SPO4 Alonzo to chase the culprits. He
refused and even disavowed any knowledge as to their identity.
Jose Alonzo filed a complaint for murder against Salamat, Rances,
Santos, SPO4 Alonzo and a certain Isidro Atienza. A preliminary
investigation1 was conducted by the Assistant Provincial Prosecutor where
Jose Alonzo and his four witnesses testified. Upon review of the records of the
case by the 3rd Assistant Provincial Prosecutor, it was recommended that
Salamat be charged with murder as principal, and Santos and Rances as
accessories. With regard to SPO4 Alonzo and Isidro Atienza, the prosecutor
found that no sufficient evidence was adduced to establish their conspiracy
with Salamat.2 Thereafter, under the direction of the Officer-in-Charge,3 an
Information4 was prepared, charging Salamat as principal, and Rances and
Santos as accessories, for the murder of Pedrito. No bail was recommended.
The case was docketed as Criminal Case No. 4767-M-2003 with Branch 12 of
the Regional Trial Court of Malolos City, Bulacan, under presiding judge

Crisanto C. Concepcion. On December 17, 2003, Judge Concepcion issued


an Order,5 where he stated:
The assassination of the victim has all the color of a planned liquidation. Zoilo
Salamat, not known in that place, appears to be a hired killer with Rey Santos as the
supplier of the death gun. SPO4 Alonzo appears to be the brain or mastermind,
pointing Pedrito to the assassin as the target of the planned killing. Jun Rances appears
to be the back-up of Salamat in executing and gunslaying. A conspiracy clearly
appears among them with the common design to kill the victim. Their respective
actions were concerted to attest to that. Jun Rances and Rey Santos are not merely
accessories-after-the[-] fact, but as principals themselves who should be charged as
such along with gunman Zoilo Salamat and mastermind SPO4 Eduardo Alonzo. This
is very apparent from the facts on record as borned [sic] out by the statements of
witnesses given to the police.
WHEREFORE, in the interest of justice that should be given the victim in this case
and prosecute all the persons against whom probable cause exists as principals in this
case of murder, the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Bulacan is hereby directed
to amend the information, so as to include all the aforenamed persons as accused in
this case, all as principals, within five (5) days from notice hereof. 6
On January 5, 2004, SPO4 Alonzo filed his Motion for Reconsideration7 to
the Order, on the ground that the court had no authority to review and reverse
the resolution of the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor or to find probable
cause against a respondent for the purpose of amending the Information.
SPO4 Alonzo averred that the prosecutors resolution can only be reviewed by
the Department of Justice, by the Court of Appeals or by the Supreme Court,
when a case for certiorari is filed.
On January 12, 2004, SPO4 Alonzo filed an Urgent Motion for
Inhibitation [sic], 8 alleging that by issuing the aforementioned Order, Judge
Concepcion has shown his prejudice against him and bias in favor of private
complainant Jose Alonzo. He prayed that the case be re-raffled to another
judge.
On January 13, 2004, Judge Concepcion issued an Order 9 denying the
Motion for Reconsideration and the Motion for Inhibition. Judge Concepcion
stated that SPO4 Alonzo had no personality to file the said motions as he was

not an accused in that case. Respondent held that only the Office of the
Provincial Prosecutor could question the first Order.
On January 16, 2004, SPO4 Alonzo filed a verified affidavitcomplaint10 against Judge Concepcion for rendering the December 17, 2003
Order. Complainant averred that respondent x x x clearly acted without any
authority of law as the same clearly violated Section 2, Article III of the 1987
constitution [sic] and Section 6, Rule 112 of the Revised Rules of Criminal
Procedure which only authorizes him to determine if probable cause
exist [sic] against those accused impleaded in the information before issuing a
warrant of arrest against them. He accused respondent judge of: a) gross
ignorance of the law; b) violation of Section 2, Article 3 of the 1987
Constitution;11 c) abuse of authority under Section 6, Rule 112 of the Rules of
Court;12 d) knowingly rendering an unjust order; e) conduct unbecoming of a
judge; and f) oppression and partiality.13
On February 26, 2004, respondent received the First Indorsement 14 from
the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), requiring him to file his comment
to the complaint within ten days from receipt thereof. On March 4, 2004,
respondent filed his Comment.15 Respondent attached copies of the sworn
statements of the prosecution witnesses.16 He claimed that while evaluating
the records of the case, his curiosity was piqued as to why no bail was
recommended for the three accused. He noticed that the five witnesses 17 who
testified during the preliminary investigation had consistent accounts of the
incidents leading to the death of Pedrito. From these accounts, respondent
concluded that SPO4 Alonzo and all the accused conspired to kill Pedrito,
thus the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor erred when it merely charged
Salamat as principal, and Rances and Santos as accessories, while
complainant was exonerated. Respondent averred that [c]ourts speak thru
order issuances [sic].18 Hence, on December 17, 2003, he issued the Order,
directing the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor to amend the Information to
include complainant, Rances and Santos as principal participants in the
murder of Pedrito. Respondent stressed that he bade the prosecution to
amend the Information xxx without any sanction even hinted, should it fail to
do so.19 After respondent issued the Order, the prosecution stood pat on its
position that there was no compelling reason to disturb its original resolution
or to amend the Information.

The OCA recommended that the complaint be dismissed on the ground


that the Order and the acts complained of were done by respondent in his
judicial capacity and were not actuated by bad faith, dishonesty or similar
motive. In addition, the proper remedy of the aggrieved party is to file a
special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, and not
an administrative complaint.
The Court cannot follow the recommendation of the OCA. Respondent
clearly erred when he rendered the assailed Order. The rules set the proper
procedure20 for the investigation of complaints and designate the prosecutor to
conduct the preliminary investigation.21 The function of a preliminary
investigation is to determine whether there is sufficient ground to engender a
well-founded belief that a crime has been committed and the respondent is
probably guilty thereof, and should be held for trial. 22 It is through the conduct
of a preliminary investigation that the prosecutor determines the existence of
a prima facie case that would warrant the prosecution of a case. As a rule,
courts cannot interfere with the prosecutor's discretion and control of the
criminal prosecution.23 The reason for placing the criminal prosecution under
the direction and control of the fiscal is to prevent malicious or unfounded
prosecution by private persons.24 However, while prosecuting officers have the
authority to prosecute persons shown to be guilty of a crime, 25 they have
equally the legal duty not to prosecute when after an investigation, the
evidence adduced is not sufficient to establish a prima facie case.26 Judges
should not unduly interfere with the exercise of the power to prosecute on the
part of fiscals.
It is not a sufficient excuse for respondent to aver that he did not impose
any sanction for non-compliance with his Order. In itself, his Order does
violence to the principle of separation of powers enshrined in our Constitution.
In a clash of views between the judge who did not investigate and the
prosecutor who did, or between the fiscal and the offended party or the
accused, that of the prosecutor's should normally prevail. 27 Thus, we held
in People vs. Pineda,28 viz.:
x x x A prosecuting attorney, by the nature of his office, is under no compulsion to file
a particular criminal information where he is not convinced that he has evidence to
prop up the averments thereof, or that the evidence at hand points to a different
conclusion. This is not to discount the possibility of the commission of abuses on the
part of the prosecutor. But we must have to recognize that a prosecuting attorney

should not be unduly compelled to work against his conviction. In case of doubt, we
should give him the benefit thereof. A contrary rule may result in our courts being
unnecessarily swamped with unmeritorious cases. Worse still, a criminal suspect's
right to due process the sporting idea of fair play may be transgressed. x x x
The impact of respondent Judge's orders is that his judgment is to be substituted for
that of the prosecutor's on the matter of what crime is to be filed in court. The question
of instituting a criminal charge is one addressed to the sound discretion of the
investigating Fiscal. The information he lodges in court must have to be supported by
facts brought about by an inquiry made by him. It stands to reason then to say that in a
clash of views between the judge who did not investigate and the fiscal who did, or
between the fiscal and the offended party or the defendant, those of the Fiscal's should
normally prevail. In this regard, he cannot ordinarily be subject to dictation. We are
not to be understood as saying that criminal prosecution may not be blocked in
exceptional cases. A relief in equity may be availed of to stop a purported enforcement
of a criminal law where it is necessary (a) for the orderly administration of justice; (b)
to prevent the use of the strong arm of the law in an oppressive and vindictive manner;
(c) to avoid multiplicity of actions; (d) to afford adequate protection to constitutional
rights; and (e) in proper cases, because the statute relied upon is unconstitutional or
was held invalid.
We understand respondents zeal in trying to uphold the ends of justice.
However, respondent overlooked the fact that there is a remedy where a
prosecutor errs in not charging a person in an Information. The recourse is to
appeal to the Secretary of Justice. 29 By ordering the prosecutor to include
complainant, Rances and Santos as principals in the Information, respondent
arrogated unto himself the executive power of supervision and control over
public prosecutors. His conduct is not only unbecoming of a judge; more
importantly, it transgresses our Constitution.
Yet, this is not all. Respondent judge also erred when he issued warrants
of arrest for Rances and Santos without bail. As the Information has not yet
been amended charging these two accused as principals to the crime of
murder, they are still entitled, as mere accessories, to bail under Rule 114,
Section 4 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. 30 The Court notes with
approval that respondent corrected this error by allowing Rances and Santos,
with the recommendation of the prosecution, to post bail.

For lack of evidence, respondent is exonerated of the other charges


brought against him.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, respondent Judge Crisanto C. Concepcion is found
liable for conduct unbecoming of a judge and is REPRIMANDED. He is sternly
warned that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future shall be dealt
with more severely. Let a copy of this resolution be entered upon his record.
SO ORDERED.

People vs mendez 334 scra 106


Vs balonga 426 vs 823

[G.R. Nos. 118866-68. September 17, 1997]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. RODOLFO DE


LA CRUZ, alias RODOLFO DOMINGO or OMPONG, accusedappellant.
DECISION
REGALADO, J.:

In this appeal from three sentences of reclusion perpetua, accusedappellant Rodolfo de la Cruz, alias Rodolfo Domingo or Ompong, consistent
with his negative pleas when arraigned on November 5, 1992 and January 11,
1993, impugns his conviction for multiple murder in Criminal Cases Nos. 928029, 92-8030 and 92-8031 by the Regional Trial Court, Branch 74, of
Antipolo, Rizal. He anchors his entreaty for the reversal thereof mainly on the
ground that he was not fully and appropriately apprised of or allowed to
exercise his constitutional rights prior to and while undergoing custodial
investigation.
[1]

[2]

In the early evening of June 23, 1992, the lifeless bodies of Teodorico M.
Laroya, Jr. and his children, 12-year old Karen Verona D. Laroya and 10-year
old John Lester D. Laroya, were discovered in their residence at 13 Emerald
Street, Greenpark Village, Cainta, Rizal by their horrified neighbors. The star-

crossed trio were all bloodied consequent to numerous stab wounds, and
each of them had a knife still embedded in and protruding from their bodies
when found. Karen Verona also bore external signs of sexual assault.
[3]

None of their neighbors, however, witnessed the gruesome murders. Two


of them later testified in court, namely, Harold Jim F. Balocating and Anita F.
Pangan. The former merely recounted how, while playing table tennis in front
of the Laroya residence, he and his friends stumbled upon the dead bodies of
the victims. Anita Pangan, on the other hand, recalled that at around 9:00 P.M.
of June 23, 1992, appellant, who was a brother-in-law of Teodorico Laroya, Jr.,
purchased some candies at her store which is located inside the village.
[4]

Both Balocating and Pangan had previously executed sworn statements


just three days after the incident, the assertions in which were of the same
import as their respective testimonies in court. On June 27, 1992, the police
authorities apprehended appellant at the house of his brother in Fort
Bonifacio. SPO1 Carlos R. Atanacio, Jr., a member of the Cainta Police
Station in Cainta, Rizal interrogated appellant regarding the crimes on the
same day that he was arrested.
[5]

This police officer declared in the trial court that before he questioned
appellant as to his participation in said crimes, all steps were undertaken to
completely inform the latter of his rights and this he did in the presence of
appellants
supposed
counsel,
one
Atty.
Lorenza
BernardinoVillanueva. Appellant then signed, likewise in the presence of said counsel, an
extrajudicial confession wherein he narrated in detail how he allegedly snuffed
out the lives of the victims.
[6]

When presented as the lone witness for himself, appellant was observed
by the trial court to be afflicted with a problem in expressing himself and an
impediment in his speech (ngo-ngo). By appellants own account, he only
reached the fourth grade of elementary schooling and, although conversant
with Tagalog, he is unable to read and write, although he can sign his
name. He bluntly repudiated the version of SPO1 Atanacio, Jr. and insisted
that he was never assisted by any counsel of his choice, much less met said
Atty. Lorenza Bernardino-Villanueva, when he was interrogated at the police
headquarters in Cainta, Rizal and signed his supposed extrajudicial
confession. Parenthetically, his answers to the questions appearing therein

are in surprisingly fluent, flawless and expressive Tagalog, which could not
have been done by him because of his defect in speech and articulation.
[7]

He further claims that he was instead tortured by the police authorities into
signing the same, and not that he did so voluntarily. While he admits having
been at the residence of the victims on the night that they were murdered, he
flatly denied having killed them as he left the trio well and alive that same
night when he proceeded to his brothers place in Fort Bonifacio.
[8]

1. In unambiguous and explicit terms, Section 12, paragraph 1, of Article III


of the Constitution requires that [a]ny person under investigation for the
commission of an offense shall have the right to be informed of his right to
remain silent and to have independent counsel preferably of his own choice. If
the person cannot afford the services of counsel, he must be provided with
one. These rights cannot be waived except in writing and in the presence of
counsel. Corollary thereto, paragraph 3 thereof declares that any confession
or admission obtained in violation of the same shall be inadmissible in
evidence against the confessant.
An accused person must be informed of the rights set out in said
paragraph of Section 12 upon being held as a suspect and made to undergo
custodial investigation by the police authorities. As explained by this Court
in People vs. Marra, custodial investigation involves any questioning initiated
by law enforcement authorities after a person is taken into custody or
otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant manner. And, the
rule begins to operate at once as soon as the investigation ceases to be a
general inquiry into an unsolved crime and direction is then aimed upon a
particular suspect who has been taken into custody and to whom the police
would then direct interrogatory question which tend to elicit incriminating
statements.
[9]

[10]

Furthermore, not only does the fundamental law impose, as a requisite


function of the investigating officer, the duty to explain those rights to the
accused but also that there must correspondingly be a meaningful
communication to and understanding thereof by the accused. A mere
perfunctory reading by the constable of such rights to the accused would thus
not suffice.

The defendant in the dock must be made to understand comprehensively,


in the language or dialect that he knows, the full extent of the same. A
confession made in an atmosphere characterized by deficiencies in informing
the accused of all the rights to which he is entitled would be rendered
valueless and inadmissible, perforated, as it is by non-compliance with the
procedural and substantive safeguards to which an accused is entitled under
the Bill of Rights and as now further implemented and ramified by statutory
law.
[11]

2. In the present case, SPO1 Atanacio, Jr., admitted in his testimony


before the lower court that the investigation of appellant in connection with the
murders actually commenced at around 9:00 A.M. on June 27, 1992 at the
police headquarters in Cainta, Rizal, at the time when appellant was still
without counsel. The sworn statement containing appellants extrajudicial
confession itself shows that it was taken at around 11:00 A.M. Further, while
SPO1 Atanacio, Jr. informed appellant in Tagalog of his right to remain silent,
that any statement he made could be used for or against him in any court, and
that he could have counsel preferably of his own choice, he nonetheless failed
to tell appellant that if the latter could not afford the services of counsel, he
could be provided with one.
[12]

[13]

[14]

The foregoing lapses on the part of the police authorities are all fatal to the
admissibility of the extrajudicial confession supposedly executed by appellant
before SPO1 Atanacio, Jr. Jurisprudence along these lines have all been too
consistent - an accused under custodial interrogation must continuously have
a counsel assisting him from the very start thereof. Indeed, Section 12, Article
III of the Constitution, could not be any clearer.
To reiterate, prior to the commencement of the investigation, the accused
must perforce be informed, on top of all his other rights enumerated therein,
that where he lacks a counsel of his choice because of indigence or other
incapacitating cause, he shall be provided with one. Without this further
safeguard, the cautionary right to counsel would merely impress upon the
accused, more so upon an impecunious person like appellant who is hardly
educated, that his right thereto would mean simply that he can consult a
lawyer if he has one or has the financial capacity to obtain legal services, and
nothing more.

Curiously, the record is completely bereft of any indication as to how


appellant was able to engage the services of Atty. Lorenza BernardinoVillanueva, the counsel who was allegedly present when appellant executed
his confession and who was not even subpoenaed to testify thereon. This
significant circumstance lends credence to the latters denial that he ever met
in person, much less executed the confession in the presence of, said
counsel. What emerges from a perusal of the record is that this counsel was
merely picked out and provided by the law enforcers themselves, thus putting
into serious doubt her independence and competence in assisting appellant
during the investigation as to affect its admissibility.
[15]

Moreover, had she been equal to her responsibility in the face of such
serious charge involved in the cases, the failure of SPO1 Atanacio, Jr. to fully
apprise appellant of all his rights, particularly the requirement that if he could
not afford the services of a lawyer he shall be provided with one would have
been rectified by said counsel at that very stage of the investigation.Indeed,
from our earliest jurisprudence, the law vouchsafes to the accused the right to
an effective counsel, one who can be made to act in protection of his rights,
and not by merely going through the motions of providing him with anyone
who possesses a law degree.
[16]

Again, about the only matter that bears out the presence of such counsel
at that stage of custodial interrogation are the signatures which she affixed on
the affidavit. Withal, a cursory reading of the confession itself and SPO1
Atanacios version of the manner in which he conducted the interrogation,
yields no evidence or indication pointing to her having explained to the
appellant his rights under the Constitution.
In People vs. Ayson, etc., et al., this Court aptly emphasized these
constitutional safeguards in this wise:
[17]

In Miranda, Chief Justice Warren summarized the procedural safeguards laid down
for a person in police custody, in-custody interrogation being regarded as the
commencement of an adversary proceeding against the suspect.
He must be warned prior to any questioning that he has the right to remain silent, that
anything he says can be used against him in a court of law, that he has the right to the
presence of an attorney, and that if he cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed
for him prior to any questioning if he so desires. Opportunity to exercise those rights

must be afforded to him throughout the interrogation. After such warnings have been
given, such opportunity afforded him, the individual may knowingly and intelligently
waive these rights and agree to answer or make a statement. But unless and until such
warnings and waivers are demonstrated by the prosecution at the trial, no evidence
obtained as a result of interrogation can be used against him.
The objective is to prohibit incommunicado interrogation of individuals in a policedominated atmosphere, resulting in self-incriminating statements without full
warnings of constitutional rights.
The rights above specified, to repeat, exist only in custodial interrogations, or incustody interrogation of accused persons. And, as this Court has already stated, by
custodial interrogation is meant questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after
a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in
any significant way. The situation contemplated has also been more precisely
described by this Court.
x x x After a person is arrested and his custodial investigation begins, a confrontation
arises which at best may be termed unequal. The detainee is brought to an army camp
or police headquarters and there questioned and cross-examined not only by one but
as many investigators as may be necessary to break down his morale. He finds himself
in strange and unfamiliar surroundings, and every person he meets, he considers
hostile to him. The investigators are well-trained and seasoned in their work. They
employ all the methods and means that experience and study have taught them to
extract the truth, or what may pass for it, out of the detainee. Most detainees are
unlettered and are not aware of their constitutional rights. And even if they were, the
intimidating and coercive presence of the officers of the law in such an atmosphere
overwhelms them into silence. Section 20 of the Bill of Rights seeks to remedy this
imbalance.
3. Necessarily, even while there is evidence of the corpus delicti in this
case, appellants conviction must be set aside for his extrajudicial confession
is obviously inadmissible in evidence against him. The rule is that an
extrajudicial confession, where admissible, must be corroborated by evidence
of the corpus delicti in order to sustain a finding of guilt. Both must coexist. The insistence of the Office of the Solicitor General that appellants
confession could nonetheless be treated as an admission which could
therefore be admitted in evidence is misplaced, for the Bill of Rights treats of
both confessions and admissions in the same light. In addition, it should be
[18]

[19]

stressed that in appellants case, no eyewitnesses to the actual killings were


ever presented to testify in court, and the prosecution relied primarily on
circumstantial evidence to inculpate appellant in crimes wherein he was
meted three penalties ofreclusion perpetua.
It is significant that, with the exception of appellants putative extrajudicial
confession, no other evidence of his alleged guilt has been presented by the
People. The proposition that the medical findings jibe with the narration of
appellant as to how he allegedly committed the crimes falls into the fatal error
of figuratively putting the horse before the cart. Precisely, the validity and
admissibility of the supposed extrajudicial confession are in question and the
contents thereof are denied and of serious dubiety, hence the same cannot be
used as the basis for such a finding. Otherwise, it would assume that which
has still to be proved, a situation of petitio principii or circulo en probando.
Evidently, herein appellant cannot be made to suffer the extreme penal
consequences of the crimes on account of the shaky and decrepit
circumstantial evidence proffered by the prosecution. While the defense of
alibi advanced by appellant is by nature a weak one by itself, it assumes
commensurate significance and strength where the evidence for the
prosecution itself is frail and effete. For, needless to state, the prosecution
must not rely on the weakness of the evidence of the defense but upon the
vigor of its own. In sum, the presumption of innocence enjoyed by appellant
has remained intact and impervious to the prosecutions assault thereon.
[20]

ACCORDINGLY, on the foregoing premises, the judgments of the


Regional Trial Court, Branch 74, of Antipolo, Rizal in Criminal Cases Nos. 928029, 92-8030 and 92-8031 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE and accusedappellant Rodolfo de la Cruz, alias Rodolfo Domingo or Ompong, is hereby
ACQUITTED. His immediate release is accordingly ordered unless there be
any other lawful cause for his continued incarceration.
SO ORDERED.

[G.R. No. 91513 : December 21, 1990.]


192 SCRA 663
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. GERONIMO
GOLES,Defendant-Appellant.
DECISION
GANCAYCO, J.:
The conviction of the defendant-appellant Geronimo Goles for the rape of a 20-year old
mental retardate is the subject of this appeal.
The facts of this case as found by the trial court are as follows
On October 11, 1987 at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, the victim Jessie Sajol, a 20-year
old mental retardate, while on her way to the house of Ernesto Paragsa, met the appellant
along the road. The appellant took hold of the victim, dragged her away from the road
brought her to a nearby grassy area and forced her to the ground. The appellant managed
to pull down the victim's kneepants and underpants after which he took off his pants. The
victim tried to run away while the appellant was removing his pants but he pulled her closer
to him and threatened her with a bolo and said that he would kill her if she would resist.
While the victim was lying on the ground, the appellant opened her legs, boxed her thigh
and succeeded in having sexual intercourse with her. Thereafter, Maria Sajol, the mother of
the victim, saw her daughter crying, along the road, near the scene of the incident. When
queried by her mother, the victim declared she was raped by Geronimo Goles, the appellant.
She immediately brought her daughter to the house of Goles, who, when confronted, denied
having raped her. Hence, mother and daughter reported the matter to the police before
whom they executed their respective affidavits. 1
The following day the victim and her mother went to see Dr. Manuel C. Ozaraga who
conducted a physical examination of the victim, with the following results:
"MEDICAL CERTIFICATE
"Jessie N. Sajol, 20 yrs. old, single residing at Nazareth, Sta. Juana, Tagbina, Surigao
del Sur examined by the undersigned on Tuesday October 12, 1987 at about 11:45
AM with the following findings:
"The patient is mentally retarded.
White curdish discharges on the left and right labia majora inner portion.
Tenderness when one finger was attempted to be inserted in the vaginal canal.
Bleeding dominant on the porterior vaginal wall.
Discharges mucoid in nature coming from the vaginal canal mixed with blood.
Discharges also noted on the cervical mucosa.
Laboratory examination revealed negative finding for sperm.

: nad

Impression: compatible with rape.


(Sgd.) MANUEL C. OZARAGA, M.D.
Attending Physician" 2
On October 19, 1987, a criminal complaint signed by Maria N. Sajol and Jessie Sajol with
the conformity of the Station Commander, Conrado A. Oraiz, was filed in the Office of the
Provincial Fiscal of Surigao del Sur. 3
On October 20, 1987, an information was filed in the Regional Trial Court of Bislig, Surigao
del Sur, Br. 29 accusing Geronimo Goles of the crime of rape committed against Jessie Sajol.
4
On October 31, 1987, the appellant was arrested and detained at the provincial jail of Bislig.
At his arraignment on January 22, 1988, he entered a plea of not guilty. Trial ensued.
The court a quo rendered judgment on November 3, 1988 finding the appellant guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape, sentencing him to a penalty of reclusion
perpetua and ordering him to pay the aggrieved party Jessie Sajol the amount of
P30,000.00 as moral damages and P5,000.00 as exemplary damages. 5
In the appeal before Us, the appellant assigns the following errors:
1) that the trial court had no jurisdiction to hear the case because the information was not
signed by the complainant, and
2) that the guilt of the appellant was not proved beyond reasonable doubt.
Anent the first assignment of error, the appellant avers that the information accusing him of
the crime of rape was not signed by the complainant or by her parents; hence, the lower
court did not acquire jurisdiction to try and decide the case. In support of this theory,
appellant cites Section 5, Rule 110, 1985 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure, as amended,
which provides that "the offenses of seduction, abduction, rape or acts of lasciviousness
shall not be prosecuted except upon a complaint filed by the offended party or her parents,
grandparents, or guardian, . . ."
The Court had occasion to reject this argument. The requirement that the offense of rape
must be prosecuted upon complaint filed by the offended party is found in Article 344 of the
Revised Penal Code 6 and the aforestated Section 5 of Rule 110. Expounding on the
meaning and significance of this requirement, this Court held in People vs. Hon. Santiago
Taada 7
". . . In the 1966 case of Valdepenas v. People this Court through then Associate,
later Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion clarified:
. . . It is true that pursuant to the third paragraph of Art. 344 of the Revised Penal
Code,
. . . the offenses of seduction, abduction, rape or acts of lasciviousness, shall not be
prosecuted except upon a complaint filed by the offended party or her parents . . .
The provision does not determine, however, the jurisdiction of our courts over the
offenses therein enumerated. It could not affect said jurisdiction, because the same
is governed by the Judiciary Act of 1948, not by the Revised Penal Code, which deals
primarily with the definition of crimes and the factors pertinent to the punishment of
the culprit. The complaint required in said Article is merely a condition precedent to
the exercise by the proper authorities of the power to prosecute the guilty parties.

And such condition has been imposed out of consideration for the offended woman
and her family who might prefer to suffer the outrage in silence rather than go
through with the scandal of a public trial.
xxx
This ruling was followed in the subsequent case of People v. Babasa where the Court,
citing the Valdepenas case, ruled that Article 344 was not enacted for the specific
purpose of benefiting the accused. When it is said that the requirement in Article 344
that there should be a complaint of the offended party or her relatives is
jurisdictional, what is meant is that it is the complaint that starts the prosecutory
proceeding. It is not the complaint which confers jurisdiction on the Court to try the
case. The court's jurisdiction is vested in it by the Judiciary Law."
chanroble s virtual law library

In the case at bar, the prosecution for the crime of rape was commenced by the filing of the
criminal complaint which was signed not only by the complainant but also by her mother in
accordance with Rule 115, Section 5 considering that the complainant is mentally
incompetent. 8 This criminal complaint was the basis for the preliminary investigation
conducted by the fiscal and the subsequent filing of the information in court. Nowhere in the
law is it required that the complainant likewise sign and verify the information for rape filed
by the fiscal. 9 Indeed, the very information filed by the fiscal reads:
"The undersigned, on complaint under oath, hereby accuses GERONIMO GOLES of
the crime of RAPE, committed as follows:
That on or about the 11th day of October, 1987, at about 3:00 o'clock in the
afternoon, more or less, at Sitio Nazareth, barangay Sta Juana, municipality
of Tagbina, province of Surigao del Sur, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction
of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, armed with a bolo, with
the use, intimidation and violence, did, then and there, willfully, unlawfully
and feloniously have carnal knowledge with the complainant Jessie Sajol
against her will and consent, to the damage and prejudice in the following
amounts to wit:
P30,000.00 as moral damages; and
P 5,000.00 as exemplary damages.
CONTRARY TO LAW: (Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code)." 10
The Court takes note of the reference in the first paragraph to the sworn complaint of the
offended party filed with the fiscal by the phrase "on complaint under oath." This goes to
show that said criminal complaint was in effect reproduced as part of the information.
During the trial said complaint of the offended party was presented in evidence marked as
Exhibits B-B. 11 There was thus sufficient compliance with the requirement of the law and
the trial court correctly assumed jurisdiction over the case.
Indeed, in the case of People vs. Sunpongco, 12 where the criminal complaint filed by the
offended party for the purpose of preliminary investigation was not presented in evidence
during the trial and where the information was filed by the fiscal, this Court ruled that the
trial court can take judicial notice of the complaint that was forwarded with the records of
the preliminary investigation to the court, without necessity of its formal introduction in
evidence.
The appellant, in his second assignment of error, points out that the trial court failed to
prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. For his defense, he claims that he and the
supposed aggrieved party are sweethearts and at the time of the alleged commission of the
crime, they purposely met pursuant to an agreement. He further alleged that there was

consent to have sexual intercourse but the act was not consummated because of the arrival
of the mother of complainant. This was in fact confirmed by the mother of complainant who
testified that he merely used his finger and by the medical certificate which indicated that
no sperm was found. There was also no sign of injury on the victim negating the theory that
there was a struggle by the victim or that force was employed on her person. There was not
even a torn dress presented as evidence. Even the complainant's alleged mental
retardedness is contradicted by her membership in different social and religious
organizations in the community.
The arguments raised by appellant are devoid of merit.
The appellant would have the Court believe that he and the victim are sweethearts who
mutually consented to have sexual intercourse, but like in many other rape cases 13 where
this same defense had been raised, the Court is not persuaded. He did not present any
proof like a letter or a ring perhaps, to support his allegation that he and the victim are
sweethearts. Despite his claim that they met for the first two times at the house of his
uncle, he did not present said uncle or any other member of the household to prove his
theory. The further fact that the victim is a mental retardate makes his story incredible. In
her defective state of mind, complainant could not have induced appellant to nurture a
desire to have her for a sweet heart. Besides, she could not have possessed the capacity to
understand the meaning of having such a relationship with him. 14
It does not appear that the complainant or her mother has any ill-motive to falsely testify
against the appellant. 15 Indeed if the charge was not true, the victim's mother would not
have rushed to appellant's house to confront him and, immediately thereafter, reported the
matter to the authorities. As held in one case where the victim was also a mental retardate,
it would be preposterous to assume that the victim, whose intelligence quotient is
admittedly low, could have concocted the grave charge of rape, or that she and her mother
would go into the trouble of having her medically examined, going to court and advertising
to the whole world she had been raped if the charge was merely invented. 16
Moreover, the testimony of the mother corroborates the story of the victim. She saw her
daughter crying along the road who immediately told her mother what transpired. If there
was no truth to the charge, the victim would not have been in such a state and she would
not have told her mother that she was raped ("gilogos" in the Visayan dialect) by the
appellant. 17 Mrs. Sajol even saw for herself the exact spot where the crime happened with
the cogon grass still pressed down. The trial court correctly considered the statements made
by the victim to her mother immediately after the incident as part of the res gestae. 18
As to the appellant's argument that the victim's mother confirmed his claim that he did not
rape her, the records show that the victim's mother testified that "Geronimo Goles told us
that, I did not rape her but I just used my fingers." 19 This is mere hearsay since she only
repeated what the appellant told her when he was confronted and this in no way confirms
his allegation that he merely used his fingers. At most, this is a self-serving statement
which cannot prevail over the categorical statement of the victim that the accused inserted
his penis inside her vagina. 20
Relative to the finding that no sperm was found, it has been repeatedly held that the
presence of sperm cells is not indispensable to prove the offense of rape. 21 The
examination disclosed that there was bleeding dominant on the porterior vaginal wall as well
as discharges, mucoid in nature, coming from the vaginal canal mixed with blood and
discharges on the cervical mucosa which would indicate that there was penetration of the
victim's vagina. In fact, the attending physician concluded that the condition of the victim is
compatible with rape. The victim likewise testified that she felt pain in her vagina during
coitus and that she was bleeding after the incident. 22 Besides, by the time the examination

was conducted, the victim had already washed her private parts and had urinated several
times thus washing away the sperms which may have been present in her vaginal canal. 23
The absence of injury on the person of the victim does not negate rape. 24 It is a doctrine
well-settled that in order to consider the existence of the crime of rape, it is not necessary
that the force and/or intimidation employed in accomplishing be it great or of such character
as could not be resisted, it is only necessary that the force and intimidation used by the
culprit be sufficient to consummate the purpose which he had in mind. 25 The victim had
initially resisted the advances of the appellant and she even shouted twice for help;
however, the appellant threatened to kill her if she did not consent and at the time he had in
his possession a bolo. The threat to her life was sufficient to instill in the childlike mind of
the victim a fear so great that she had no choice but to give in to the lustful desires of the
appellant. The positive declaration of complainant that the appellant threatened to kill her
should be given more weight than the simple denial of the accused. 26
The further fact that no torn dress was presented by the prosecution does not negate rape.
27 The absence of a torn dress or panty is explained by the fact that the victim no longer
offered any resistance by reason of the intimidation employed upon her by the appellant.
: nad

At any rate, physical intimidation prior to sexual intercourse is not necessary for rape to be
committed considering the mental deficiency of the victim such that she is incapable of
giving consent to the sexual act. 28 It is for this reason that the appellant makes much of
the alleged membership of the victim in different social and religious organizations to
counter her supposed deficient mental state. From the testimony of the victim's mother, it
can be seen that she is a member of a church organization and as such member she helps
in cleaning and weeding the church premises, 29 activities which a mental retardate is not
incapable of doing. The fact that the victim is a mental retardate should not stop her or her
parents from making her useful to the community.
Indeed, the trial court found the version of the prosecution to be more credible, which
finding is amply supported by the evidence on record, for which reason the Court upholds
the judgment of the court a quo finding the appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
offense of rape as charged.
The indemnity awarded should be increased to P40,000.00.
WHEREFORE, with the above modification as to the indemnity, the judgment of conviction is
hereby AFFIRMED in all other respect, with costs against the appellant.
SO ORDERED.

Peope vs dirwing 292 scra 360


Becilla vs people 209 scra 466
People vs gagadaz 193 scra 216
People vs guttierez 407 scra 123
People vs tigle 420 scra 424
People vs faralbA 226 SCRA 602