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002. People v.

Santiago
G.R. No. 17584/ March 8, 1922/En Banc/ Appeal to SC
Gregorio Santiago petitioner
People of the Philippines respondent
Decision by J. Romualdez, Digest by Arnel

SHORT VERSION: Gregorio Santiago, who was driving a car, ran over a 7-year old child, Porfirio Parondo,
causing his death. Gregorio was charged with the crime of "homicide by reckless negligence" and was sentenced
to one year and one day of prision correccional, and to pay the costs of the trial. He now comes to this SC,
questioning the constitutionality of Act No. 2886 which amended Military Order No. 58 (that stated that all
public prosecution shall be in the name of the U.S.).

Facts: Petitioner Gregorio Santiago was driving an automobile at 30 miles an hour on a highway 6 meters wide.
He overtook a stationary wagon on one side and, without slowing down, mowed into two kids playing on a heap
of stones on the other side, killing one of the kids instantly.

Gregorio was charged with the crime of "homicide by reckless negligence" and was sentenced to one year and one
day of prision correccional, and to pay the costs of the trial. The complaint was filed under Act no 2886 (i.e.,
instead of U.S. vs Gregorio Santiago, it became People of the Philippines vs. Gregorio Santiago). Act No. 2886
was promulgated on 24 February 1920 and the criminal complaint was filed on 10 may 1920.

The defense is now arguing that the said Act was unconstitutional since the Philippine Legislature was, and is,
not authorized to amend General Orders No. 58, as it did by amending section 2 thereof, because its provisions
have the character of constitutional law.

ISSUE/HELD: a) WON Act No. 2886, under which the complaint in the present case was filed, is valid and
constitutional? YES.
b) WON the procedure in criminal matters is incorporated in the constitution of the state? NO, procedure in
criminal matter is not incorporated in the constitution of the states, but it is left in the hand of the legislature, so
that it falls within the realm of public statutory law.

RATIO: In pursuance of the Constitution of the United States, each States, each State has the authority, under
its police power, to define and punish crimes and to lay down the rules of criminal procedure, subject to the
principle of equal protection. The SC also held that the power of the States of the North American Union was also
granted to its territories such as the Philippines. By act of the US Congress their power extends "to all rightful
subjects of legislation not inconsistent with the Constitution and laws of the United States;" and this includes the
power to define and punish crimes. (16 C. J., 62.).

The US military government, functioning as a territorial legislature, thought it convenient to establish new rules
of procedure in criminal matters, by the issuance of General Orders No. 58. The main purpose of GO 58 is
limited to criminal procedure and its intention is to give to its provisions the effect of law in criminal matters.
Since the provisions of this General Order have the character of statutory law, the power of the Legislature to
amend it is self-evident, even if the question is considered only on principle. Our present Legislature, which has
enacted Act No. 2886, the subject of our inquiry, is the legal successor to the Military Government as a legislative
body.

There is not a single constitutional provision applicable to the Philippines prescribing the name to be used as
party plaintiff in criminal cases---which must not be understood as depriving the Government of the Philippines
of its power, however delegated, to prosecute public crimes because the government of the Philippines, created
by the Congress of the United States, is autonomous like Porto Rico and Hawaii (note: at that time, Hawaii is not
yet part of the US).

The silence of Congress regarding those laws amendatory (even laws prior to Act no. 2886) of the said General
Order must be considered as an act of approval. Furthermore the SC ratiocinated that, supposing for the sake of
argument, that the mention of the People of the Philippine Islands as plaintiff in the title of the information
constitutes a vice or defect, the same is not fatal when, as in the present case, it was not objected to in the court
below.

DISPOSITIVE: Affirms the Lower Court.


a) Section 2 of General Orders No. 58, as amended by Act No. 2886, do not partake of the same character as the
provisions of a constitution;
b) That the said Act No. 2886 is valid and is not violative of any constitutional provisions; and that the court a
quo did not commit any of the errors assigned.
c) The sentence appealed from is hereby affirmed, Santiago being furthermore sentenced to the accessory
penalties prescribed in article 61 of the Penal Code, and to indemnify the heirs of the deceased in the sum of
P1,000 and to the payment of the costs of both instances.