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36.

Prejudicial Question
Concept and its elements

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 110544 October 17, 1995
REYNALDO V. TUANDA, Mayor of the Municipality of Jimalalud, Negros Oriental, HERMINIGILDO
FABURADA, (former Vice-Mayor), SANTOS A. VILLANUEVA, Incumbent Member of the
Sangguniang Bayan, MANUEL LIM, NICANOR R. AGOSTO, ERENIETA K. MENDOZA MAXIMINO A.
VIERNES, HACUBINA V. SERILLO, ILUMINADO D. ESTRELLANES, and FORMER MEMBERS OF
THE SANGGUNIANG BAYAN OF JIMALALUD, NEGROS ORIENTAL, petitioners,
vs.
THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN, (THIRD DIVISION), BARTOLOME BINAOHAN and DELIA
ESTRELLANES, respondents.

KAPUNAN, J .:
Petitioners institute this special civil action for certiorari and prohibition under Rule 65 of the Revised
Rules of Court to set aside the resolution of the Sandiganbayan dated 17 February 1992 and its orders
dated 19 August 1992 and 13 May 1993 in Criminal Case No. 16936 entitled "People of the Philippines
versus Reynaldo Tuanda, et al." denying petitioners' motion for suspension of their arraignment.
The present controversy arose from the following antecedents:
On 9 February 1989, private respondents Delia Estrellanes and Bartolome Binaohan were designated as
industrial labor sectoral representative and agricultural labor sectoral representative respectively, for the
Sangguniang Bayan of Jimalalud, Province of Negros Oriental by then Secretary Luis T. Santos of the
Department of Local Government. Private respondents Binaohan and Estrellanes took their oath of office
on 16 February 1989 and 17 February 1989, respectively.
Subsequently, petitioners filed an undated petition with the Office of the President for review and recall of
said designations. The latter, however, in a letter dated 20 March 1989, denied the petition and enjoined
Mayor Reynaldo Tuanda to recognize private respondents as sectoral representatives.
On 4 May 1990, private respondents filed a petition for mandamus with the Regional Trial Court of
Negros Oriental, Branch 35, docketed as Special Civil Action No. 9661, for recognition as members of the
Sangguniang Bayan. It was dismissed on 23 July 1991.
Thereafter, on 20 June 1991, petitioners filed an action with the Regional Trial Court of Dumaguete City
to declare null and void the designations of private respondents as sectoral representatives, docketed as
Civil Case No. 9955 entitled "Reynaldo Tuanda, et al. versus Secretary of the Department of Local
Government, et al."
On 21 July 1991, an information was filed before the Sandiganbayan, docketed as Criminal Case No.
16936 entitled "People of the Philippines versus Reynaldo Tuanda, et al." charging petitioners thus:
INFORMATION
The undersigned Special Prosecution Officer of the Special Prosecutor, hereby accuses
REYNALDO V. TUANDA, HERMENEGILDO G. FABURADA, MANUEL LIM, NICANOR
P. AGOSTO, ERENIETA K. MENDOZA, MAXIMO VIERNES, HACUBINA V. SERILLO,
and SANTOS A. VILLANUEVA of Violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019, as
amended, committed as follows:
That during the period from February 1989 to February 1991 and
subsequent thereto, in the Municipality of Jimalalud, Negros Oriental,
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused, all public
officers, Mayor REYNALDO V. TUANDA, Vice-Mayor HERMENEGILDO
G. FABURADA, Sangguniang Members MANUEL LIM, NICANOR P.
AGOSTO, ERENIETA K. MENDOZA, MAXIMO A. VIERNES,
HACUBINA V. SERILLO, ILUMINADO D. ESTRELLANES and SANTOS
A. VILLANUEVA while in the performance of their official functions and
taking advantage of their public positions, with evident bad faith, manifest
partiality, and conspiring and confederating with each other did, then and
there, wilfully and unlawfully cause undue injury to Sectoral Members
Bartolome M. Binaohan and Delia T. Estrellanes by refusing to pay
despite demand the amount of NINETY FIVE THOUSAND THREE
HUNDRED FIFTY PESOS (P95,350.00) and ONE HUNDRED EIGHT
THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED PESOS (P108,900.00) representing
respectively their per diems, salaries and other privileges and benefits,
and such undue injury continuing to the present to the prejudice and
damage of Bartolome Binaohan and Delia Estrellanes.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
1

On 9 September 1991, petitioners filed a motion with the Sandiganbayan for suspension of the
proceedings in Criminal Case No. 16936 on the ground that a prejudicial question exists in Civil Case No.
9955 pending before the Regional Trial Court of Dumaguete City.
2

On 16 January 1992, the Regional Trial Court rendered a decision declaring null and void ab initio the
designations issued by the Department of Local Government to the private respondents as sectoral
representatives for having been done in violation of Section 146 (2) of B.P. Blg. 337, otherwise known as
the Local Government Code.
3

The trial court expounded thus:
The Supreme Court in the case of Johnny D. Supangan Jr. v. Luis T. Santos, et al., G.R.
No. 84663, along with 7 companion cases of similar import, (G.R. Nos. 05012, 87601,
87602, 87792, 87935, 88072, and 90205) all promulgated on August 24, 1990, ruled that:
B.P. Blg. 337 explicitly required that before the President (or the
Secretary of the Department of Local Government) may appoint
members of the local legislative bodies to represent the Industrial and
Agricultural Labor Sectors, there must be a determination to be made by
the Sanggunian itself that the said sectors are of sufficient number in the
city or municipality to warrant representation after consultation with
associations and persons belonging to the sector concerned.
The Supreme Court further ruled
For that matter, the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Local
Government Code even prescribe the time and manner by which such
determination is to be conducted by the Sanggunian.
Consequently, in cases where the Sanggunian concerned has not yet
determined that the Industrial and Agricultural Labor Sectors in their
particular city or municipality are of sufficient number to warrant
representation, there will absolutely be no basis for the
designation/appointments.
In the process of such inquiry as to the sufficiency in number of the sector concerned to
warrant representation, the Sanggunian is enjoined by law (B.P. Blg. 337) to consult with
associations and persons belonging to the sector concerned. Consultation with the sector
concerned is made a pre-requisite. This is so considering that those who belong to the
said sector are the ones primarily interested in being represented in the Sanggunian. In
the same aforecited case, the Supreme Court considers such prior determination by the
Sanggunian itself (not by any other person or body) as a condition sine qua non to a valid
appointment or designation.
Since in the present case, there was total absence of the required prior determination by
the Sangguniang Bayan of Jimalalud, this Court cannot help but declare the designations
of private defendants as sectoral representatives null and void.
This verdict is not without precedence. In several similar cases, the Supreme Court
invariably nullified the designations where the requirements of Sec. 146 (2), B.P. Blg. 337
were not complied with. Just to cite one case, the Supreme Court ruled:
There is no certification from the Sangguniang Bayan of Valenzuela that
the sectors concerned are of sufficient number to warrant representation
and there was no consultation whatsoever with the associations and
persons belonging to the Industrial and Agricultural Labor Sectors.
Therefore, the appointment of private respondents Romeo F. Bularan
and Rafael Cortez are null and void (Romeo Llanado, et al. v. Hon. Luis
Santos, et al., G.R. No. 86394, August 24, 1990).
4

Private respondents appealed the aforestated decision to the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-G.R. CV
No. 36769, where the same is currently pending resolution.
Meanwhile, on 17 February 1992, respondent Sandiganbayan issued a resolution denying the motion for
suspension of proceedings filed by petitioners. Said respondent Sandiganbayan:
Despite the pendency of Civil Case No. 9955 of the Regional Trial Court of Negros
Oriental, it appears, nevertheless, that the private complainants have been rendering
services on the basis of their respective appointments as sectoral members of the
Sangguniang Bayan of the Municipality of Jimalalud, Negros Oriental; and that their said
appointments enjoy the presumption of regularity. Having rendered such services, the
private complainants are entitled to the salaries attached to their office. Even
assuming arguendo that the said Regional Trial Court shall later decide that the said
appointments of the private complainants are null and void, still the private complainants
are entitled to their salaries and compensation for service they have actually rendered,
for the reason that before such judicial declaration of nullity, the private complainants are
considered at least de facto public officers acting as such on the basis of apparently valid
appointments issued by competent authorities. In other words, regardless of the decision
that may be rendered in Civil Case
No. 9955, the private complainants are entitled to their withheld salaries for the services
they have actually rendered as sectoral representatives of the said Sangguniang Bayan.
Hence, the decision that may be rendered by the Regional Trial Court in Civil Case No.
9955 would not be determinative of the innocence or guilt of the accused.
WHEREFORE, the subject Petition for the Suspension of Proceedings in Virtue of
Prejudicial Question filed by the accused through counsel, is hereby DENIED for lack of
merit.
SO ORDERED.
5

Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration of the aforementioned resolution in view of the decision
promulgated by the trial court nullifying the appointments of private respondents but it was, likewise,
denied in an order issued by respondent Sandiganbayan on 19 August 1992 on the justification that the
grounds stated in the said motion were a mere rehash of petitioners' original motion to hold the case in
abeyance.
6
The dispositive portion of its order reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the arraignment of the accused which was
scheduled today is cancelled. Mayor Reynaldo Tuanda, Hermenegildo Faburada,
Nicanor P. Agosto, Erenieta K. Mendoza, Hacubina V. Serillo and Iluminado Estrellanes
are, however, hereby ordered to show cause in writing within ten (10) days from service
hereof why they should not be cited for contempt of court for their failure to appear in
court today for arraignment.
In case of an adverse resolution on the motion to quash which is to be filed by the
counsel for the defense, set this case for arraignment, pre-trial and trial on January 4 & 5,
1993, on all dates the trial to start at 8:30 o'clock in the morning.
SO ORDERED.
7

On 19 February 1993, respondent Sandiganbayan issued an order holding consideration of all incidents
pending the issuance of an extended resolution.
8

No such resolution, however, was issued and in its assailed order dated 13 May 1992, respondent
Sandiganbayan set the arraignment of petitioners on 30 June 1993. The dispositive portion of the order
reads:
WHEREFORE, considering the absence of the accused from the scheduled hearing
today which We deem to be excusable, reset this case for arraignment on June 30, 1993
and for trial on the merits on June 30 and July 1 and 2, 1993, on all dates the trial to start
at 8:30 o'clock in the morning.
Give proper notice to the accused and principal counsel, Atty. Alfonso Briones.
Considering that the accused come all the way from Himalalud, Negros Oriental, no
postponement will be allowed.
SO ORDERED.
9

Hence, this special civil action for certiorari and prohibition where petitioners attribute to respondent
Sandiganbayan the following errors:
A. The Respondent Court committed grave abuse of discretion in denying petitioners'
motions for the suspension of the proceedings in Criminal Case No. 16936 in spite of the
pendency of a prejudicial issue before the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 36769;
B. The Respondent Court acted without or in excess of jurisdiction in refusing to suspend
the proceedings that would entail a retrial and rehearing by it of the basic issue
involved, i.e., the validity of the appointments of private respondents and their entitlement
to compensation which is already pending resolution by the Court of Appeals in C.A. G.R.
CV No. 36769; and
C. The Respondent Court committed grave abuse of discretion and/or acted without or in
excess of jurisdiction in effectively allowing petitioners to be prosecuted under two
alternative theories that private respondents are de jure and/or de facto officers in
violation of petitioners' right to due process.
10

In sum, the only issue in the case at bench is whether or not the legality or validity of private respondents'
designation as sectoral representatives which is pending resolution in CA-G.R. No. 36769 is a prejudicial
question justifying suspension of the proceedings in the criminal case against petitioners.
A prejudicial question is one that must be decided before any criminal prosecution may be instituted or
before it may proceed (see Art. 36, Civil Code) because a decision on that point is vital to the eventual
judgment in the criminal case. Thus, the resolution of the prejudicial question is a logical antecedent of
the issues involved in said criminal case.
11

A prejudicial question is defined as that which arises in a case the resolution of which is a logical
antecedent of the issue involved therein, and the cognizance of which pertains to another tribunal. The
prejudicial question must be determinative of the case before the court but the jurisdiction to try and
resolve the question must be lodged in another court or tribunal.
12
It is a question based on a fact distinct
and separate from "the crime but so intimately connected with it that it determines the guilt or innocence
of the accused, and for it to suspend the criminal action, it must appear not only that said case involves
facts intimately related to those upon which the criminal prosecution would be based but also that in the
resolution of the issue or issues raised in the civil case, the guilt or innocence of the accused would
necessarily be determined. It comes into play generally in a situation where a civil action and a criminal
action are both pending and there exists in the former an issue which must be preemptively resolved
before the criminal action may proceed, because howsoever the issue raised in the civil action is resolved
would be determinative juris et de jure of the guilt or innocence of the accused in the criminal case."
13

The rationale behind the principle of prejudicial question is to avoid two conflicting decisions.
14
It has two
essential elements:
(a) the civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised in the
criminal action; and
(b) the resolution of such issue determines whether or not the criminal action may
proceed.
15

Applying the foregoing principles to the case at bench, we find that the issue in the civil case, CA-G.R. CV
No. 36769, constitutes a valid prejudicial question to warrant suspension of the arraignment and further
proceedings in the criminal case against petitioners.
All the elements of a prejudicial question are clearly and unmistakably present in this case. There is no
doubt that the facts and issues involved in the civil action (No. 36769) and the criminal case (No. 16936)
are closely related. The filing of the criminal case was premised on petitioners' alleged partiality and
evident bad faith in not paying private respondents' salaries and per diems as sectoral representatives,
while the civil action was instituted precisely to resolve whether or not the designations of private
respondents as sectoral representatives were made in accordance with law.
More importantly, ,the resolution of the civil case will certainly determine if there will still be any reason to
proceed with the criminal action.
Petitioners were criminally charged under the Anti-Graft & Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019, sec, 3[e]) due
to their refusal, allegedly in bad faith and with manifest partiality, to pay private respondents' salaries as
sectoral representatives. This refusal, however, was anchored on petitioners' assertion that said
designations were made in violation of the Local Government Code (B.P. Blg. 337) and thus, were null
and void. Therefore, should the Court of Appeals uphold the trial court's decision declaring null and void
private respondents' designations as sectoral representatives for failure to comply with the provisions of
the Local Government Code (B.P. Blg. 337, sec. 146[2]), the charges against petitioners would no longer,
so to speak, have a leg to stand on. Petitioners cannot be accused of bad faith and partiality there being
in the first place no obligation on their part to pay private respondents' claims. Private respondents do not
have any legal right to demand salaries, per diems and other benefits. In other words, the Court of
Appeals' resolution of the issues raised in the civil action will ultimately determine whether or not there is
basis to proceed with the criminal case.
Private respondents insist that even if their designations are nullified, they are entitled to compensation
for actual services rendered.
16
We disagree. As found by the trial court and as borne out by the records,
from the start, private respondents' designations as sectoral representatives have been challenged by
petitioners. They began with a petition filed with the Office of the President copies of which were received
by private respondents on 26 February 1989, barely eight (8) days after they took their oath of
office.
17
Hence, private respondents' claim that they have actually rendered services as sectoral
representatives has not been established.
Finally, we find unmeritorious respondent Sandiganbayan's thesis that even in the event that private
respondents' designations are finally declared invalid, they may still be considered de facto public officers
entitled to compensation for services actually rendered.
The conditions and elements of de facto officership are the following:
1) There must be a de jure office;
2) There must be color of right or general acquiescence by the public; and
3) There must be actual physical possession of the office in good faith.
18

One can qualify as a de facto officer only if all the aforestated elements are present. There can be no de
factoofficer where there is no de jure office, although there may be a de facto officer in a de jure office.
19

WHEREFORE, the resolution dated 17 February 1992 and orders dated 19 August 1992 and 13 May
1993 of respondent Sandiganbayan in Criminal Case No. 16936 are hereby SET ASIDE. Respondent
Sandiganbayan is enjoined from proceeding with the arraignment and trial of petitioners in Criminal Case
No. 16936 pending final resolution of CA-G.R. CV No. 36769.
SO ORDERED.






SECOND DIVISION
[G.R. No. 137567. June 20, 2000]
MEYNARDO L. BELTRAN, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, and HON. JUDGE
FLORENTINO TUAZON, JR., being the Judge of the RTC, Branch 139, Makati City, respondents.
D E C I S I O N
BUENA, J .:
This petition for review, filed under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, seeks to review and set
aside the Order dated January 28, 1999 issued by Judge Florentino A. Tuazon, Jr. of the Regional Trial
Court of Makati City, Branch 139 in Special Civil Case No. 98-3056, entitled "Meynardo Beltran vs.
People of the Philippines and Hon. Judge Alden Cervantes of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Makati city,
Branch 61." The said Order denied petitioners prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction to
enjoin Judge Cervantes from proceeding with the trial of Criminal Case No. 236176, a concubinage case
against petitioner on the ground that the pending petition for declaration of nullity of marriage filed by
petitioner against his wife constitutes a prejudicial question.
The antecedent facts of the case are undisputed:
Petitioner Meynardo Beltran and wife Charmaine E. Felix were married on June 16, 1973 at the
Immaculate Concepcion Parish Church in Cubao, Quezon City.
[1]

On February 7, 1997, after twenty-four years of marriage and four children,
[2]
petitioner filed a petition for
nullity of marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code before
Branch 87 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. Q-97-
30192.
[3]

In her Answer to the said petition, petitioner's wife Charmaine Felix alleged that it was petitioner
who abandoned the conjugal home and lived with a certain woman named Milagros Salting.
[4]
Charmaine
subsequently filed a criminal complaint for concubinage
[5]
under Article 334 of the Revised Penal Code
against petitioner and his paramour before the City Prosecutor's Office of Makati who, in a Resolution
dated September 16, 1997, found probable cause and ordered the filing of an Information
[6]
against them.
The case, docketed as Criminal Case No. 236176, was filed before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Makati
City, Branch 61.
On March 20, 1998, petitioner, in order to forestall the issuance of a warrant for his arrest, filed a Motion
to Defer Proceedings Including the Issuance of the Warrant of Arrest in the criminal case. Petitioner
argued that the pendency of the civil case for declaration of nullity of his marriage posed a prejudicial
question to the determination of the criminal case. Judge Alden Vasquez Cervantes denied the foregoing
motion in the Order
[7]
dated August 31, 1998. Petitioner's motion for reconsideration of the said Order of
denial was likewise denied in an Order dated December 9, 1998.
In view of the denial of his motion to defer the proceedings in the concubinage case, petitioner went to the
Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 139 on certiorari, questioning the Orders dated August 31,
1998 and December 9, 1998 issued by Judge Cervantes and praying for the issuance of a writ of
preliminary injunction.
[8]
In an Order
[9]
dated January 28, 1999, the Regional Trial Court of Makati denied
the petition for certiorari. Said Court subsequently issued another Order
[10]
dated February 23, 1999,
denying his motion for reconsideration of the dismissal of his petition.
Undaunted, petitioner filed the instant petition for review.
Petitioner contends that the pendency of the petition for declaration of nullity of his marriage based on
psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code is a prejudicial question that should merit the
suspension of the criminal case for concubinage filed against him by his wife.
Petitioner also contends that there is a possibility that two conflicting decisions might result from the civil
case for annulment of marriage and the criminal case for concubinage. In the civil case, the trial court
might declare the marriage as valid by dismissing petitioner's complaint but in the criminal case, the trial
court might acquit petitioner because the evidence shows that his marriage is void on ground of
psychological incapacity. Petitioner submits that the possible conflict of the courts' ruling regarding
petitioner's marriage can be avoided, if the criminal case will be suspended, until the court rules on the
validity of marriage; that if petitioner's marriage is declared void by reason of psychological incapacity
then by reason of the arguments submitted in the subject petition, his marriage has never existed; and
that, accordingly, petitioner could not be convicted in the criminal case because he was never before a
married man.
Petitioner's contentions are untenable.
The rationale behind the principle of prejudicial question is to avoid two conflicting decisions. It has two
essential elements: (a) the civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised in
the criminal action; and (b) the resolution of such issue determines whether or not the criminal action may
proceed.
[11]

The pendency of the case for declaration of nullity of petitioner's marriage is not a prejudicial question to
the concubinage case. For a civil case to be considered prejudicial to a criminal action as to cause the
suspension of the latter pending the final determination of the civil case, it must appear not only that the
said civil case involves the same facts upon which the criminal prosecution would be based, but also that
in the resolution of the issue or issues raised in the aforesaid civil action, the guilt or innocence of the
accused would necessarily be determined.
Article 40 of the Family Code provides:
"The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of remarriage
on the basis solely of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void."
In Domingo vs. Court of Appeals,
[12]
this Court ruled that the import of said provision is that for purposes
of remarriage, the only legally acceptable basis for declaring a previous marriage an absolute nullity is a
final judgment declaring such previous marriage void, whereas, for purposes of other than remarriage,
other evidence is acceptable. The pertinent portions of said Decision read:
"xxx Undoubtedly, one can conceive of other instances where a party might well invoke
the absolute nullity of a previous marriage for purposes other than remarriage, such as in
case of an action for liquidation, partition, distribution and separation of property between
the erstwhile spouses, as well as an action for the custody and support of their common
children and the delivery of the latters' presumptive legitimes. In such cases, evidence
needs must be adduced, testimonial or documentary, to prove the existence of grounds
rendering such a previous marriage an absolute nullity. These needs not be limited solely
to an earlier final judgment of a court declaring such previous marriage void."
So that in a case for concubinage, the accused, like the herein petitioner need not present a final
judgment declaring his marriage void for he can adduce evidence in the criminal case of the nullity of his
marriage other than proof of a final judgment declaring his marriage void.
With regard to petitioner's argument that he could be acquitted of the charge of concubinage should his
marriage be declared null and void, suffice it to state that even a subsequent pronouncement that his
marriage is void from the beginning is not a defense.
Analogous to this case is that of Landicho vs. Reloval
[13]
cited in Donato vs. Luna
[14]
where this Court
held that:
"xxx Assuming that the first marriage was null and void on the ground alleged by
petitioner, that fact would not be material to the outcome of the criminal case. Parties to
the marriage should not be permitted to judge for themselves its nullity, for the same
must be submitted to the judgment of the competent courts and only when the nullity of
the marriage is so declared can it be held as void, and so long as there is no such
declaration the presumption is that the marriage exists. Therefore, he who contracts a
second marriage before the judicial declaration of nullity of the first marriage assumes the
risk of being prosecuted for bigamy."
Thus, in the case at bar it must also be held that parties to the marriage should not be permitted to judge
for themselves its nullity, for the same must be submitted to judgment of the competent courts and only
when the nullity of the marriage is so declared can it be held as void, and so long as there is no such
declaration the presumption is that the marriage exists for all intents and purposes. Therefore, he who
cohabits with a woman not his wife before the judicial declaration of nullity of the marriage assumes the
risk of being prosecuted for concubinage. The lower court therefore, has not erred in affirming the Orders
of the judge of the Metropolitan Trial Court ruling that pendency of a civil action for nullity of marriage
does not pose a prejudicial question in a criminal case for concubinage.
WHEREFORE, for lack of merit, the instant petition is DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.



Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 159186 June 5, 2009
JESSE Y. YAP, Petitioner,
vs.
HON. MONICO G. CABALES, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 35, General Santos
City; MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURT, Branch 1, General Santos City; COURT OF APPEALS, PEOPLE
OF THE PHILIPPINES, JOVITA DIMALANTA and MERGYL MIRABUENO, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
PERALTA, J .:
This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court with prayer for the issuance
of a writ of preliminary injunction and/or issuance of status quo order seeking to annul and set aside the
Resolution
1
of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated July 17, 2003 denying petitioner's motion for
reconsideration of the Decision
2
dated April 30, 2003 in CA-G.R. SP No. 68250.
The facts of the case are as follows:
Petitioner Jesse Y. Yap and his spouse Bessie Yap are engaged in the real estate business through their
company Primetown Property Group.
Sometime in 1996, petitioner purchased several real properties from a certain Evelyn Te (Evelyn). In
consideration of said purchases, petitioner issued several Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) postdated
checks to Evelyn. Thereafter, spouses Orlando and Mergyl Mirabueno and spouses Charlie and Jovita
Dimalanta, rediscounted the checks from Evelyn.
In the beginning, the first few checks were honored by the bank, but in the early part of 1997, when the
remaining checks were deposited with the drawee bank, they were dishonored for the reason that
the "Account is Closed."Demands were made by Spouses Mirabueno and Spouses Dimalanta to the
petitioner to make good the checks. Despite this, however, the latter failed to pay the amounts
represented by the said checks.
On December 8, 1997, Spouses Mirabueno filed a civil action for collection of sum of money, damages
and attorney's fee with prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary attachment against petitioner before
the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of General Santos City, docketed as Civil Case No. 6231.
3
On December
15, 1997, Spouses Dimalanta followed suit and instituted a similar action, which was docketed as Civil
Case No. 6238.
4

Subsequently, on various dates, the Office of the City Prosecutor of General Santos City filed several
informations for violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang (B.P. Blg.) 22 against the petitioner with the
Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC), General Santos City. The criminal complaints were docketed as
Criminal Case Nos. 34873, 34874, 34862 to 34869, and Criminal Case No. 35522-I.
5

In the criminal cases, petitioner filed separate motions to suspend proceedings on account of the
existence of a prejudicial question and motion to exclude the private prosecutor from participating in the
proceedings.
6
Petitioner prayed that the proceedings in the criminal cases be suspended until the civil
cases pending before the RTC were finally resolved.
The MTCC, in its Orders
7
dated June 21, 2000 and July 4, 2000, denied the motions for lack of merit.
Petitioner filed a Partial Motion for Reconsideration
8
relative to Criminal Case Nos. 34873, 34874, 34862
to 34869 and a Motion for Reconsideration of the Part of the Order Denying the Motion to Suspend
Proceedings on Account of the Existence of a Prejudicial Question relative to Criminal Case No. 35522-
I.
9
The subsequent motions were denied in the Order
10
dated October 18, 2000.
Aggrieved, petitioner filed a Petition for Certiorari with a Prayer for the Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary
Injunction
11
before the RTC, docketed as SPL. Civil Case No. 539, imputing grave abuse of discretion on
the part of the MTCC Judge. On July 2, 2001, the RTC issued an Order
12
denying the petition.
Petitioner then filed a Motion for Reconsideration,
13
which was denied in an Order dated October 18,
2001.
14

Thereafter, petitioner filed with the CA a Petition for Certiorari Prohibition and Mandamus with Urgent
Prayer for the Issuance of Status Quo Order and Writ of Preliminary Injunction,
15
docketed as CA-G.R.
SP No. 68250.
On April 30, 2003, the CA rendered a Decision
16
dismissing the petition for lack of merit. The CA opined
that Civil Case Nos. 6231 and 6238 did not pose a prejudicial question to the prosecution of the petitioner
for violation of B.P. Blg. 22.
The CA ruled:
In the instant case, a careful perusal of Civil Cases Nos. 6231 and 6238 reveals that the issue involved
therein is not the validity of the sale as incorrectly pointed out by the petitioner, but it is, whether or not the
complainants therein are entitled to collect from the petitioner the sum or the value of the checks which
they have rediscounted from Evelyn Te. It behooves this Court to state that the sale and the rediscounting
of the checks are two transactions, separate and distinct from each other. It so happened that in the
subject civil cases it is not the sale that is in question, but rather the rediscounting of the checks.
Therefore, petitioner's contention that the main issue involved in said civil cases is the validity of the sale
stands on hollow ground. Furthermore, if it is indeed the validity of the sale that is contested in the subject
civil cases, then, We cannot fathom why the petitioner never contested such sale by filing an action for
the annulment thereof or at least invoked or prayed in his answer that the sale be declared null and void.
Accordingly, even if Civil Cases Nos. 6231 and 6238 are tried and the resolution of the issues therein is
had, it cannot be deduced therefrom that the petitioner cannot be held liable anymore for violation of B.P.
Blg. 22.
17

Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration,
18
which was denied in the Order
19
dated July 17, 2003.
Hence, the petition assigning the following errors:
1. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING THAT THERE IS NO
PREJUDICIAL QUESTION IN THE CIVIL CASES (FOR COLLECTION OF SUMS OF MONEY
INSTITUTED BY PRIVATE RESPONDENTS OVER CHECKS ISSUED BY THE PETITIONER,
CIVIL CASE NOS. 6238 AND 6231) THAT WOULD WARRANT SUSPENSION OF THE
CRIMINAL CASES (CASE NO. 35522-1, FOR VIOLATION OF B.P. 22, SUBJECT OF WHICH
ARE THE VERY SAME CHECKS).
2. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT GRANTING THE PRAYER FOR
THE ISSUANCE OF A WRIT OF PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION AND/OR STATUS QUO
ORDER.
20

The main contention of the petitioner is that a prejudicial question, as defined by law and jurisprudence,
exists in the present case. It is the petitioner's assertion that Civil Case Nos. 6231 and 6238 for collection
of sum of money and damages were filed ahead of the criminal cases for violation of B.P. Blg. 22. He
further alleged that, in the pending civil cases, the issue as to whether private respondents are entitled to
collect from the petitioner despite the lack of consideration, is an issue that is a logical antecedent to the
criminal cases for violation of B.P. Blg. 22. For if the court rules that there is no valid consideration for the
check's issuance, as petitioner contends, then it necessarily follows that he could not also be held liable
for violation of B.P. Blg. 22.
Petitioner further avers that B.P. Blg. 22 specifically requires, among other elements, that the check
should have been issued for account or for value. There must be a valid consideration; otherwise, no
violation of the said law could be rightfully pursued. Petitioner said that the reason for the dishonor of the
checks was his order to the drawee bank to stop payment and to close his account in order to avoid
necessary penalty from the bank. He made this order due to the failure of Evelyn to deliver to him the
titles to the purchased properties to him.
On the other hand, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) contends that there is no prejudicial question
in Civil Case Nos. 6231 and 6238 which would warrant the suspension of the proceedings in the criminal
cases for violation of B.P. Blg. 22 against the petitioner. The issue in the civil cases is not the validity of
the sale between the petitioner and Evelyn, but whether the complainants therein are entitled to damages
arising from the checks. These checks were issued by the petitioner in favor of Evelyn, who, thereafter,
negotiated the same checks to private complainants. The checks were subsequently dishonored due to
insufficiency of funds. The OSG maintains that the resolution of such issue has absolutely no bearing on
the issue of whether petitioner may be held liable for violation of B.P. Blg. 22.
21

The present case hinges on the determination of whether there exists a prejudicial question that
necessitates the suspension of the proceedings in the MTCC.
We find that there is none and, thus, we resolve to deny the petition.
A prejudicial question generally exists in a situation where a civil action and a criminal action are both
pending, and there exists in the former an issue that must be preemptively resolved before the latter may
proceed, because howsoever the issue raised in the civil action is resolved would be determinative juris
et de jure of the guilt or innocence of the accused in the criminal case. The rationale behind the principle
of prejudicial question is to avoid two conflicting decisions. It has two essential elements: (i) the civil
action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised in the criminal action; and (ii) the
resolution of such issue determines whether or not the criminal action may proceed.
22

If both civil and criminal cases have similar issues, or the issue in one is intimately related to the issues
raised in the other, then a prejudicial question would likely exist, provided the other element or
characteristic is satisfied. It must appear not only that the civil case involves the same facts upon which
the criminal prosecution would be based, but also that the resolution of the issues raised in the civil action
would be necessarily determinative of the guilt or innocence of the accused. If the resolution of the issue
in the civil action will not determine the criminal responsibility of the accused in the criminal action based
on the same facts, or if there is no necessity that the civil case be determined first before taking up the
criminal case, the civil case does not involve a prejudicial question.
23
Neither is there a prejudicial
question if the civil and the criminal action can, according to law, proceed independently of each other.
24

The issue in the criminal cases is whether the petitioner is guilty of violating B.P. Blg. 22, while in the civil
case, it is whether the private respondents are entitled to collect from the petitioner the sum or the value
of the checks that they have rediscounted from Evelyn.lavvphil
The resolution of the issue raised in the civil action is not determinative of the guilt or innocence of the
accused in the criminal cases against him, and there is no necessity that the civil case be determined first
before taking up the criminal cases.
In the aforementioned civil actions, even if petitioner is declared not liable for the payment of the value of
the checks and damages, he cannot be adjudged free from criminal liability for violation of B.P. Blg. 22.
The mere issuance of worthless checks with knowledge of the insufficiency of funds to support the checks
is in itself an offense.
25

In Jose v. Suarez,
26
the prejudicial question under determination was whether the daily interest rate of 5%
was void, such that the checks issued by respondents to cover said interest were likewise void for
being contra bonos mores, and thus the cases for B.P. Blg. 22 will no longer prosper. In resolving the
issue, We ruled that "whether or not the interest rate imposed by petitioners is eventually declared void
for being contra bonos mores will not affect the outcome of the BP Blg. 22 cases because what will
ultimately be penalized is the mere issuance of bouncing checks. In fact, the primordial question posed
before the court hearing the B.P. Blg. 22 cases is whether the law has been breached; that is, if a
bouncing check has been issued."
Further, We held in Ricaforte v. Jurado,
27
that:
The gravamen of the offense punished by B.P. Blg. 22 is the act of making and issuing a worthless check;
that is, a check that is dishonored upon its presentation for payment. In Lozano v. Martinez, we have
declared that it is not the non-payment of an obligation which the law punishes. The law is not intended or
designed to coerce a debtor to pay his debt. The thrust of the law is to prohibit, under pain of penal
sanctions, the making and circulation of worthless checks. Because of its deleterious effects on the public
interest, the practice is proscribed by the law. The law punishes the act not as an offense against
property, but an offense against public order. In People v. Nitafan, we said that a check issued as an
evidence of debt - though not intended to be presented for payment - has the same effect as an ordinary
check and would fall within the ambit of B.P. Blg. 22.
x x x x
x x x The mere act of issuing a worthless check - whether as a deposit, as a guarantee or even as
evidence of pre-existing debt - is malum prohibitum.
To determine the reason for which checks are issued, or the terms and conditions for their issuance, will
greatly erode the faith the public reposes in the stability and commercial value of checks as currency
substitutes, and bring about havoc in trade and in banking communities. So what the law punishes is the
issuance of a bouncing check and not the purpose for which it was issued or the terms and conditions
relating to its issuance. The mere act of issuing a worthless check is malum prohibitum.
28

Moreover, petitioner's reliance on Ras v. Rasul
29
is misplaced. The case of Ras involves a complaint for
nullification of a deed of sale on the ground of an alleged double sale. While the civil case was pending,
an information for estafa was filed against Ras (the defendant in the civil case) arising from the same
alleged double sale, subject matter of the civil complaint. The Court ruled that there was a prejudicial
question considering that the defense in the civil case was based on the very same facts that would be
determinative of the guilt or innocence of the accused in the estafa case.
The instant case is different from Ras, inasmuch as the determination of whether the petitioner is liable to
pay the private respondents the value of the checks and damages, will not affect the guilt or innocence of
the petitioner because the material question in the criminal cases is whether petitioner had issued bad
checks, regardless of the purpose or condition of its issuance.
Guided by the following legal precepts, it is clear that the determination of the issues involved in Civil
Case Nos. 6231 and 6238 for collection of sum of money and damages is irrelevant to the guilt or
innocence of the petitioner in the criminal cases for violation of B.P. Blg. 22.
In addition, petitioner's claim of lack of consideration may be raised as a defense during the trial of the
criminal cases against him. The validity and merits of a partys defense and accusation, as well as the
admissibility and weight of testimonies and evidence brought before the court, are better ventilated during
trial proper.
Precisely, the reason why a state has courts of law is to ascertain the respective rights of the parties, to
examine and to put to test all their respective allegations and evidence through a well designed
machinery termed "trial."Thus, all the defenses available to the accused should be invoked in the trial of
the criminal cases. This court is not the proper forum that should ascertain the facts and decide the case
for violation of B.P. Blg. 22 filed against the petitioner.
In fine, the CA committed no reversible error in affirming the decision of the RTC.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the Decision dated April 30, 2003 and the Resolution dated
July 17, 2003 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 68250 are AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.



Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 184861 June 30, 2009
DREAMWORK CONSTRUCTION, INC., Petitioner,
vs.
CLEOFE S. JANIOLA and HON. ARTHUR A. FAMINI, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
VELASCO, JR., J .:
The Case
Petitioner Dreamwork Construction, Inc. seeks the reversal of the August 26, 2008 Decision
1
in SCA No.
08-0005 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 253 in Las Pias City. The Decision affirmed the
Orders dated October 16, 2007
2
and March 12, 2008
3
in Criminal Case Nos. 55554-61 issued by the
Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC), Branch 79 in Las Pias City.
The Facts
On October 18, 2004, petitioner, through its President, Roberto S. Concepcion, and Vice-President for
Finance and Marketing, Normandy P. Amora, filed a Complaint Affidavit dated October 5, 2004
4
for
violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 (BP 22) against private respondent Cleofe S. Janiola with the
Office of the City Prosecutor of Las Pias City. The case was docketed as I.S. No. 04-2526-33.
Correspondingly, petitioner filed a criminal information for violation of BP 22 against private respondent
with the MTC on February 2, 2005 docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 55554-61, entitled People of the
Philippines v. Cleofe S. Janiola.
On September 20, 2006, private respondent, joined by her husband, instituted a civil complaint against
petitioner by filing a Complaint dated August 2006
5
for the rescission of an alleged construction
agreement between the parties, as well as for damages. The case was filed with the RTC, Branch 197 in
Las Pias City and docketed as Civil Case No. LP-06-0197. Notably, the checks, subject of the criminal
cases before the MTC, were issued in consideration of the construction agreement.
Thereafter, on July 25, 2007, private respondent filed a Motion to Suspend Proceedings dated July 24,
2007
6
in Criminal Case Nos. 55554-61, alleging that the civil and criminal cases involved facts and issues
similar or intimately related such that in the resolution of the issues in the civil case, the guilt or innocence
of the accused would necessarily be determined. In other words, private respondent claimed that the civil
case posed a prejudicial question as against the criminal cases.
Petitioner opposed the suspension of the proceedings in the criminal cases in an undated
Comment/Opposition to Accuseds Motion to Suspend Proceedings based on Prejudicial Question
7
on the
grounds that: (1) there is no prejudicial question in this case as the rescission of the contract upon which
the bouncing checks were issued is a separate and distinct issue from the issue of whether private
respondent violated BP 22; and (2) Section 7, Rule 111 of the Rules of Court states that one of the
elements of a prejudicial question is that "the previously instituted civil action involves an issue similar or
intimately related to the issue raised in the subsequent criminal action"; thus, this element is missing in
this case, the criminal case having preceded the civil case.
Later, the MTC issued its Order dated October 16, 2007, granting the Motion to Suspend Proceedings,
and reasoned that:
Should the trial court declare the rescission of contract and the nullification of the checks issued as the
same are without consideration, then the instant criminal cases for alleged violation of BP 22 must be
dismissed. The belated filing of the civil case by the herein accused did not detract from the correctness
of her cause, since a motion for suspension of a criminal action may be filed at any time before the
prosecution rests (Section 6, Rule 111, Revised Rules of Court).
8

In an Order dated March 12, 2008,
9
the MTC denied petitioners Motion for Reconsideration dated
November 29, 2007.
Petitioner appealed the Orders to the RTC with a Petition dated May 13, 2008. Thereafter, the RTC
issued the assailed decision dated August 26, 2008, denying the petition. On the issue of the existence of
a prejudicial question, the RTC ruled:
Additionally, it must be stressed that the requirement of a "previously" filed civil case is intended merely to
obviate delays in the conduct of the criminal proceedings. Incidentally, no clear evidence of any intent to
delay by private respondent was shown. The criminal proceedings are still in their initial stages when the
civil action was instituted. And, the fact that the civil action was filed after the criminal action was instituted
does not render the issues in the civil action any less prejudicial in character.
10

Hence, we have this petition under Rule 45.
The Issue
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT A QUO SERIOUSLY ERRED IN NOT PERCEIVING GRAVE ABUSE
OF DISCRETION ON THE PART OF THE INFERIOR COURT, WHEN THE LATTER RULED TO
SUSPEND PROCEEDINGS IN CRIM. CASE NOS. 55554-61 ON THE BASIS OF "PREJUDICIAL
QUESTION" IN CIVIL CASE NO. LP-06-0197.
11

The Courts Ruling
This petition must be granted.
The Civil Action Must Precede the Filing of the
Criminal Action for a Prejudicial Question to Exist
Under the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure, as amended by Supreme Court Resolutions dated June
17, 1988 and July 7, 1988, the elements of a prejudicial question are contained in Rule 111, Sec. 5, which
states:
SEC. 5. Elements of prejudicial question. The two (2) essential elements of a prejudicial question are:
(a) the civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised in the criminal action;
and (b) the resolution of such issue determines whether or not the criminal action may proceed.
Thus, the Court has held in numerous cases
12
that the elements of a prejudicial question, as stated in the
above-quoted provision and in Beltran v. People,
13
are:
The rationale behind the principle of prejudicial question is to avoid two conflicting decisions. It has two
essential elements: (a) the civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised in
the criminal action; and (b) the resolution of such issue determines whether or not the criminal action may
proceed.
On December 1, 2000, the 2000 Rules on Criminal Procedure, however, became effective and the above
provision was amended by Sec. 7 of Rule 111, which applies here and now provides:
SEC. 7. Elements of prejudicial question.The elements of a prejudicial question are: (a) the previously
instituted civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised in the subsequent
criminal action, and (b) the resolution of such issue determines whether or not the criminal action may
proceed. (Emphasis supplied.)
Petitioner interprets Sec. 7(a) to mean that in order for a civil case to create a prejudicial question and,
thus, suspend a criminal case, it must first be established that the civil case was filed previous to the filing
of the criminal case. This, petitioner argues, is specifically to guard against the situation wherein a party
would belatedly file a civil action that is related to a pending criminal action in order to delay the
proceedings in the latter.
On the other hand, private respondent cites Article 36 of the Civil Code which provides:
Art. 36. Pre-judicial questions which must be decided before any criminal prosecution may be instituted or
may proceed, shall be governed by rules of court which the Supreme Court shall promulgate and which
shall not be in conflict with the provisions of this Code. (Emphasis supplied.)
Private respondent argues that the phrase "before any criminal prosecution may be instituted or may
proceed" must be interpreted to mean that a prejudicial question exists when the civil action is filed either
before the institution of the criminal action or during the pendency of the criminal action. Private
respondent concludes that there is an apparent conflict in the provisions of the Rules of Court and the
Civil Code in that the latter considers a civil case to have presented a prejudicial question even if the
criminal case preceded the filing of the civil case.
We cannot agree with private respondent.
First off, it is a basic precept in statutory construction that a "change in phraseology by amendment of a
provision of law indicates a legislative intent to change the meaning of the provision from that it originally
had."
14
In the instant case, the phrase, "previously instituted," was inserted to qualify the nature of the civil
action involved in a prejudicial question in relation to the criminal action. This interpretation is further
buttressed by the insertion of "subsequent" directly before the term criminal action. There is no other
logical explanation for the amendments except to qualify the relationship of the civil and criminal actions,
that the civil action must precede the criminal action.
Thus, this Court ruled in Torres v. Garchitorena
15
that:
Even if we ignored petitioners procedural lapse and resolved their petition on the merits, we hold that
Sandiganbayan did not abuse its discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction in denying their
omnibus motion for the suspension of the proceedings pending final judgment in Civil Case No. 7160.
Section 6, Rule lll of the Rules of Criminal Procedure, as amended, reads:
Sec. 6. Suspension by reason of prejudicial question. - A petition for suspension of the criminal action
based upon the pendency of a prejudicial question in a civil action may be filed in the office of the
prosecutor or the court conducting the preliminary investigation. When the criminal action has been filed
in court for trial, the petition to suspend shall be filed in the same criminal action at any time before the
prosecution rests.
Sec. 7. Elements of prejudicial question. - The elements of a prejudicial question are: (a) the previously
instituted civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised in the subsequent
criminal action, and (b) the resolution of such issue determines whether or not the criminal action may
proceed.
Under the amendment, a prejudicial question is understood in law as that which must precede the
criminal action and which requires a decision before a final judgment can be rendered in the criminal
action with which said question is closely connected. The civil action must be instituted prior to the
institution of the criminal action. In this case, the Information was filed with the Sandiganbayan ahead of
the complaint in Civil Case No. 7160 filed by the State with the RTC in Civil Case No. 7160. Thus, no
prejudicial question exists. (Emphasis supplied.)
Additionally, it is a principle in statutory construction that "a statute should be construed not only to be
consistent with itself but also to harmonize with other laws on the same subject matter, as to form a
complete, coherent and intelligible system."
16
This principle is consistent with the maxim, interpretare et
concordare leges legibus est optimus interpretandi modus or every statute must be so construed and
harmonized with other statutes as to form a uniform system of jurisprudence.
17
1 a vv p h i l
In other words, every effort must be made to harmonize seemingly conflicting laws. It is only when
harmonization is impossible that resort must be made to choosing which law to apply.
In the instant case, Art. 36 of the Civil Code and Sec. 7 of Rule 111 of the Rules of Court are susceptible
of an interpretation that would harmonize both provisions of law. The phrase "previously instituted civil
action" in Sec. 7 of Rule 111 is plainly worded and is not susceptible of alternative interpretations. The
clause "before any criminal prosecution may be instituted or may proceed" in Art. 36 of the Civil Code
may, however, be interpreted to mean that the motion to suspend the criminal action may be filed during
the preliminary investigation with the public prosecutor or court conducting the investigation, or during the
trial with the court hearing the case.
This interpretation would harmonize Art. 36 of the Civil Code with Sec. 7 of Rule 111 of the Rules of Court
but also with Sec. 6 of Rule 111 of the Civil Code, which provides for the situations when the motion to
suspend the criminal action during the preliminary investigation or during the trial may be filed. Sec. 6
provides:
SEC. 6. Suspension by reason of prejudicial question.A petition for suspension of the criminal action
based upon the pendency of a prejudicial question in a civil action may be filed in the office of the
prosecutor or the court conducting the preliminary investigation. When the criminal action has been filed
in court for trial, the petition to suspend shall be filed in the same criminal action at any time before the
prosecution rests.
Thus, under the principles of statutory construction, it is this interpretation of Art. 36 of the Civil Code that
should govern in order to give effect to all the relevant provisions of law.
It bears pointing out that the circumstances present in the instant case indicate that the filing of the civil
action and the subsequent move to suspend the criminal proceedings by reason of the presence of a
prejudicial question were a mere afterthought and instituted to delay the criminal proceedings.
In Sabandal v. Tongco,
18
we found no prejudicial question existed involving a civil action for specific
performance, overpayment, and damages, and a criminal complaint for BP 22, as the resolution of the
civil action would not determine the guilt or innocence of the accused in the criminal case. In resolving the
case, we said:
Furthermore, the peculiar circumstances of the case clearly indicate that the filing of the civil case was a
ploy to delay the resolution of the criminal cases. Petitioner filed the civil case three years after the
institution of the criminal charges against him. Apparently, the civil action was instituted as an
afterthought to delay the proceedings in the criminal cases.
19

Here, the civil case was filed two (2) years after the institution of the criminal complaint and from the time
that private respondent allegedly withdrew its equipment from the job site. Also, it is worth noting that the
civil case was instituted more than two and a half (2 ) years from the time that private respondent
allegedly stopped construction of the proposed building for no valid reason. More importantly, the civil
case praying for the rescission of the construction agreement for lack of consideration was filed more
than three (3) years from the execution of the construction agreement.
Evidently, as in Sabandal, the circumstances surrounding the filing of the cases involved here show that
the filing of the civil action was a mere afterthought on the part of private respondent and interposed for
delay. And as correctly argued by petitioner, it is this scenario that Sec. 7 of Rule 111 of the Rules of
Court seeks to prevent. Thus, private respondents positions cannot be left to stand.
The Resolution of the Civil Case Is Not
Determinative of the Prosecution of the Criminal Action
In any event, even if the civil case here was instituted prior to the criminal action, there is, still, no
prejudicial question to speak of that would justify the suspension of the proceedings in the criminal case.
To reiterate, the elements of a prejudicial question under Sec. 7 of Rule 111 of the Rules of Court are: (1)
the previously instituted civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised in the
subsequent criminal action; and (2) the resolution of such issue determines whether or not the criminal
action may proceed.
Petitioner argues that the second element of a prejudicial question, as provided in Sec. 7 of Rule 111 of
the Rules, is absent in this case. Thus, such rule cannot apply to the present controversy.
Private respondent, on the other hand, claims that if the construction agreement between the parties is
declared null and void for want of consideration, the checks issued in consideration of such contract
would become mere scraps of paper and cannot be the basis of a criminal prosecution.
We find for petitioner.
It must be remembered that the elements of the crime punishable under BP 22 are as follows:
(1) the making, drawing, and issuance of any check to apply for account or for value;
(2) the knowledge of the maker, drawer, or issuer that at the time of issue there are no sufficient
funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the payment of such check in full upon its
presentment; and
(3) the subsequent dishonor of the check by the drawee bank for insufficiency of funds or credit,
or dishonor for the same reason had not the drawer, without any valid cause, ordered the bank to
stop payment.
20

Undeniably, the fact that there exists a valid contract or agreement to support the issuance of the check/s
or that the checks were issued for valuable consideration does not make up the elements of the crime.
Thus, this Court has held in a long line of cases
21
that the agreement surrounding the issuance of
dishonored checks is irrelevant to the prosecution for violation of BP 22. In Mejia v. People,
22
we ruled:
It must be emphasized that the gravamen of the offense charge is the issuance of a bad check. The
purpose for which the check was issued, the terms and conditions relating to its issuance, or any
agreement surrounding such issuance are irrelevant to the prosecution and conviction of petitioner. To
determine the reason for which checks are issued, or the terms and conditions for their issuance, will
greatly erode the faith the public reposes in the stability and commercial value of checks as currency
substitutes, and bring havoc in trade and in banking communities. The clear intention of the framers of
B.P. 22 is to make the mere act of issuing a worthless check malum prohibitum.
Lee v. Court of Appeals
23
is even more poignant. In that case, we ruled that the issue of lack of valuable
consideration for the issuance of checks which were later on dishonored for insufficient funds is
immaterial to the success of a prosecution for violation of BP 22, to wit:
Third issue. Whether or not the check was issued on account or for value.
Petitioners claim is not feasible. We have held that upon issuance of a check, in the absence of evidence
to the contrary, it is presumed that the same was issued for valuable consideration. Valuable
consideration, in turn, may consist either in some right, interest, profit or benefit accruing to the party who
makes the contract, or some forbearance, detriment, loss or some responsibility, to act, or labor, or
service given, suffered or undertaken by the other side. It is an obligation to do, or not to do in favor of the
party who makes the contract, such as the maker or indorser.
In this case, petitioner himself testified that he signed several checks in blank, the subject check included,
in exchange for 2.5% interest from the proceeds of loans that will be made from said account. This is a
valuable consideration for which the check was issued. That there was neither a pre-existing obligation
nor an obligation incurred on the part of petitioner when the subject check was given by Bautista to
private complainant on July 24, 1993 because petitioner was no longer connected with Unlad or Bautista
starting July 1989, cannot be given merit since, as earlier discussed, petitioner failed to adequately prove
that he has severed his relationship with Bautista or Unlad.
At any rate, we have held that what the law punishes is the mere act of issuing a bouncing check, not the
purpose for which it was issued nor the terms and conditions relating to its issuance. This is because the
thrust of the law is to prohibit the making of worthless checks and putting them into
circulation.
24
(Emphasis supplied.)
Verily, even if the trial court in the civil case declares that the construction agreement between the parties
is void for lack of consideration, this would not affect the prosecution of private respondent in the criminal
case. The fact of the matter is that private respondent indeed issued checks which were subsequently
dishonored for insufficient funds. It is this fact that is subject of prosecution under BP 22.lawphil.net
Therefore, it is clear that the second element required for the existence of a prejudicial question, that the
resolution of the issue in the civil action would determine whether the criminal action may proceed, is
absent in the instant case. Thus, no prejudicial question exists and the rules on it are inapplicable to the
case before us.
WHEREFORE, we GRANT this petition. We hereby REVERSE and SET ASIDE the August 26, 2008
Decision in SCA No. 08-0005 of the RTC, Branch 253 in Las Pias City and the Orders dated October 16,
2007 and March 12, 2008 in Criminal Case Nos. 55554-61 of the MTC, Branch 79 in Las Pias City. We
order the MTC to continue with the proceedings in Criminal Case Nos. 55554-61 with dispatch.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.



SECOND DIVISION


JOSELITO R. PIMENTEL, G.R. No. 172060
Petitioner,
Present:

CARPIO, J., Chairperson,
- versus - PERALTA,
BERSAMIN,
*

ABAD, and
VILLARAMA, JR.,
**
JJ.

MARIA CHRYSANTINE
L. PIMENTEL and PEOPLE Promulgated:
OF THE PHILIPPINES,
Respondents. September 13, 2010
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x


D E C I S I O N

CARPIO, J .:

The Case

Before the Court is a petition for review
[1]
assailing the Decision
[2]
of the Court of Appeals,
promulgated on 20 March 2006, in CA-G.R. SP No. 91867.

The Antecedent Facts

The facts are stated in the Court of Appeals decision:
On 25 October 2004, Maria Chrysantine Pimentel y Lacap (private respondent) filed an action for
frustrated parricide against Joselito R. Pimentel (petitioner), docketed as Criminal Case No. Q-04-130415,
before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, which was raffled to Branch 223 (RTC Quezon City).

On 7 February 2005, petitioner received summons to appear before the Regional Trial Court of
Antipolo City, Branch 72 (RTC Antipolo) for the pre-trial and trial of Civil Case No. 04-7392 (Maria
Chrysantine Lorenza L. Pimentel v. Joselito Pimentel) for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage under Section
36 of the Family Code on the ground of psychological incapacity.

On 11 February 2005, petitioner filed an urgent motion to suspend the proceedings before the RTC
Quezon City on the ground of the existence of a prejudicial question. Petitioner asserted that since the
relationship between the offender and the victim is a key element in parricide, the outcome of Civil Case
No. 04-7392 would have a bearing in the criminal case filed against him before the RTC Quezon City.

The Decision of the Trial Court

The RTC Quezon City issued an Order dated 13 May 2005
[3]
holding that the pendency of the case
before the RTC Antipolo is not a prejudicial question that warrants the suspension of the criminal case
before it. The RTC Quezon City held that the issues in Criminal Case No. Q-04-130415 are the injuries
sustained by respondent and whether the case could be tried even if the validity of petitioners marriage
with respondent is in question. The RTC Quezon City ruled:


WHEREFORE, on the basis of the foregoing, the Motion to Suspend Proceedings
On the [Ground] of the Existence of a Prejudicial Question is, for lack of merit, DENIED.

SO ORDERED.
[4]



Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration. In its 22 August 2005 Order,
[5]
the RTC Quezon City
denied the motion.

Petitioner filed a petition for certiorari with application for a writ of preliminary injunction and/or
temporary restraining order before the Court of Appeals, assailing the 13 May 2005 and 22 August 2005
Orders of the RTC Quezon City.

The Decision of the Court of Appeals

In its 20 March 2006 Decision, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition. The Court of Appeals
ruled that in the criminal case for frustrated parricide, the issue is whether the offender commenced the
commission of the crime of parricide directly by overt acts and did not perform all the acts of execution by
reason of some cause or accident other than his own spontaneous desistance. On the other hand, the
issue in the civil action for annulment of marriage is whether petitioner is psychologically incapacitated to
comply with the essential marital obligations. The Court of Appeals ruled that even if the marriage
between petitioner and respondent would be declared void, it would be immaterial to the criminal
case because prior to the declaration of nullity, the alleged acts constituting the crime of frustrated
parricide had already been committed. The Court of Appeals ruled that all that is required for the charge
of frustrated parricide is that at the time of the commission of the crime, the marriage is still subsisting.

Petitioner filed a petition for review before this Court assailing the Court of Appeals decision.

The Issue

The only issue in this case is whether the resolution of the action for annulment of marriage is a
prejudicial question that warrants the suspension of the criminal case for frustrated parricide against
petitioner.

The Ruling of this Court

The petition has no merit.

Civil Case Must be Instituted
Before the Criminal Case

Section 7, Rule 111 of the 2000 Rules on Criminal Procedure
[6]
provides:

Section 7. Elements of Prejudicial Question. - The elements of a prejudicial question are:
(a) the previously instituted civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the
issue raised in the subsequent criminal action and (b) the resolution of such issue
determines whether or not the criminal action may proceed.

The rule is clear that the civil action must be instituted first before the filing of the criminal action. In
this case, the Information
[7]
for Frustrated Parricide was dated 30 August 2004. It was raffled to RTC
Quezon City on 25 October 2004 as per the stamped date of receipt on the Information. The RTC
Quezon City set Criminal Case No. Q-04-130415 for pre-trial and trial on 14 February 2005. Petitioner
was served summons in Civil Case No. 04-7392 on 7 February 2005.
[8]
Respondents petition
[9]
in Civil
Case No. 04-7392 was dated 4 November 2004 and was filed on 5 November 2004. Clearly, the civil
case for annulment was filed after the filing of the criminal case for frustrated parricide. As such, the
requirement of Section 7, Rule 111 of the 2000 Rules on Criminal Procedure was not met since the civil
action was filed subsequent to the filing of the criminal action.

Annulment of Marriage is not a Prejudicial Question
in Criminal Case for Parricide

Further, the resolution of the civil action is not a prejudicial question that would warrant the
suspension of the criminal action.

There is a prejudicial question when a civil action and a criminal action are both pending, and there
exists in the civil action an issue which must be preemptively resolved before the criminal action may
proceed because howsoever the issue raised in the civil action is resolved would be determinative of the
guilt or innocence of the accused in the criminal case.
[10]
A prejudicial question is defined as:

x x x one that arises in a case the resolution of which is a logical antecedent of the issue
involved therein, and the cognizance of which pertains to another tribunal. It is a question
based on a fact distinct and separate from the crime but so intimately connected with it
that it determines the guilt or innocence of the accused, and for it to suspend the criminal
action, it must appear not only that said case involves facts intimately related to those
upon which the criminal prosecution would be based but also that in the resolution of the
issue or issues raised in the civil case, the guilt or innocence of the accused would
necessarily be determined.
[11]



The relationship between the offender and the victim is a key element in the crime of
parricide,
[12]
which punishes any person who shall kill his father, mother, or child, whether legitimate or
illegitimate, or any of his ascendants or descendants, or his spouse.
[13]
The relationship between the
offender and the victim distinguishes the crime of parricide from murder
[14]
or homicide.
[15]
However, the
issue in the annulment of marriage is not similar or intimately related to the issue in the criminal case for
parricide. Further, the relationship between the offender and the victim is not determinative of the guilt or
innocence of the accused.

The issue in the civil case for annulment of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code is
whether petitioner is psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations. The
issue in parricide is whether the accused killed the victim. In this case, since petitioner was charged with
frustrated parricide, the issue is whether he performed all the acts of execution which would have killed
respondent as a consequence but which, nevertheless, did not produce it by reason of causes
independent of petitioners will.
[16]
At the time of the commission of the alleged crime, petitioner and
respondent were married. The subsequent dissolution of their marriage, in case the petition in Civil Case
No. 04-7392 is granted, will have no effect on the alleged crime that was committed at the time of the
subsistence of the marriage. In short, even if the marriage between petitioner and respondent is
annulled, petitioner could still be held criminally liable since at the time of the commission of the alleged
crime, he was still married to respondent.


We cannot accept petitioners reliance on Tenebro v. Court of Appeals
[17]
that the judicial
declaration of the nullity of a marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity retroacts to the date of
the celebration of the marriage insofar as the vinculum between the spouses is concerned x x
x. First, the issue in Tenebro is the effect of the judicial declaration of nullity of a second or subsequent
marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity on a criminal liability for bigamy. There was no issue
of prejudicial question in that case. Second, the Court ruled in Tenebro that [t]here is x x x a
recognition written into the law itself that such a marriage, although void ab initio, may still produce legal
consequences.
[18]
In fact, the Court declared in that case that a declaration of the nullity of the second
marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity is of absolutely no moment insofar as the States
penal laws are concerned.
[19]


In view of the foregoing, the Court upholds the decision of the Court of Appeals. The trial
in Criminal Case No. Q-04-130415 may proceed as the resolution of the issue in Civil Case No. 04-7392
is not determinative of the guilt or innocence of petitioner in the criminal case.

WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. We AFFIRM the 20 March 2006 Decision of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 91867.

SO ORDERED.





Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 159823 February 18, 2013
TEODORO A. REYES, Petitioner,
vs.
ETTORE ROSSI, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
BERSAMIN, J .:
The rescission of a contract of sale is not a prejudicial question that will warrant the suspension of the
criminal proceedings commenced to prosecute the buyer for violations of the Bouncing Checks
Law (Batas Pambansa Blg.22) arising from the dishonor of the checks the buyer issued in connection
with the sale.
Antecedents
On October 31, 1997, petitioner Teodoro A. Reyes (Reyes) and Advanced Foundation Construction
Systems Corporation (Advanced Foundation), represented by its Executive Project Director, respondent
Ettore Rossi (Rossi), executed a deed of conditional sale involving the purchase by Reyes of equipment
consisting of a Warman Dredging Pump HY 300A worth P10,000,000.00. The parties agreed therein that
Reyes would pay the sum of P3,000,000.00 as downpayment, and the balance of P7,000,000.00 through
four post-dated checks. Reyes complied, but in January 1998, he requested the restructuring of his
obligation under the deed of conditional sale by replacing the four post-dated checks with nine post-dated
checks that would include interest at the rate of P25,000.00/month accruing on the unpaid portion of the
obligation on April 30, 1998, June 30, 1998, July 31, 1998, September 30, 1998 and October 31, 1998.
1

Advanced Foundation assented to Reyes request, and returned the four checks. In turn, Reyes issued
and delivered the following nine postdated checks in the aggregate sum of P7,125,000.00 drawn against
the United Coconut Planters Bank,
2
to wit:
Check No. Date Amount
72807 April 30, 1998 P 25,000.00
79125 May 1, 1998 1,000,000.00
72802 May 30, 1998 2,000,000.00
72808 June 30, 1998 25,000.00
72809 July 31, 1998 25,000.00
72801 August 31, 1998 2,000,000.00
72810 September 30, 1998 25,000.00
72811 October 31, 1998 25,000.00
72903 November 30, 1998 2,000,000.00
Rossi deposited three of the post-dated checks (i.e., No. 72807, No. 79125 and No. 72808) on their
maturity dates in Advanced Foundations bank account at the PCI Bank in Makati. Two of the checks
were denied payment ostensibly upon Reyes instructions to stop their payment, while the third (i.e., No.
72802) was dishonored for insufficiency of funds.
3

Rossi likewise deposited two more checks (i.e., No. 72809 and No. 72801) in Advanced Foundations
account at the PCI Bank in Makati, but the checks were returned with the notation Account
Closed stamped on them. He did not anymore deposit the three remaining checks on the assumption that
they would be similarly dishonored.
4

In the meanwhile, on July 29, 1998, Reyes commenced an action for rescission of contract and damages
in the Regional Trial Court in Quezon City (RTC). His complaint, docketed as Civil Case No. Q98-35109
and entitledTeodoro A. Reyes v. Advanced Foundation Construction Systems Corporation, sought
judgment declaring the deed of conditional sale "rescinded and of no further force and effect," and
ordering Advanced Foundation to return the P3,000,000.00 downpayment with legal interest from June 4,
1998 until fully paid; and to pay to him attorneys fees, and various kinds and amounts of damages.
5

On September 8, 1998, Rossi charged Reyes with five counts of estafa and five counts of violation
of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 in the Office of the City Prosecutor of Makati for the dishonor of Checks No.
72807, No. 72808, No. 72801, No. 72809 and No. 79125. Another criminal charge for violation of Batas
Pambansa Blg. 22 was lodged against Reyes in the Office of the City Prosecutor of Quezon City for the
dishonor of Check No. 72802.
6

On September 29, 1998, Reyes submitted his counter-affidavit in the Office of the City Prosecutor of
Makati,
7
claiming that the checks had not been issued for any valuable consideration; that he had
discovered from the start of using the dredging pump involved in the conditional sale that the Caterpillar
diesel engine powering the pump had been rated at only 560 horsepower instead of the 1200 horsepower
Advanced Foundation had represented to him; that welding works on the pump had neatly concealed
several cracks; that on May 6, 1998 he had written to Advanced Foundation complaining about the
misrepresentations on the specifications of the pump and demanding documentary proof of Advanced
Foundations ownership of the pump; that he had caused the order to stop the payment of three checks
(i.e., No. 72806, No. 72807 and No. 79125); that Advanced Foundation had replied to his letter on May 8,
1998 by saying that the pump had been sold to him on an as is, where is basis; that he had then sent
another letter to Advanced Foundation on May 18, 1998 to reiterate his complaints and the request for
proper documentation of ownership; that he had subsequently discovered other hidden defects,
prompting him to write another letter; and that instead of attending to his complaints and request,
Advanced Foundations lawyers had threatened him with legal action.
At the same time, Reyes assailed the jurisdiction of the Office of the City Prosecutor of Makati over the
criminal charges against him on the ground that he had issued the checks in Quezon City; as well as
argued that the Office of the City Prosecutor of Makati should suspend the proceedings because of the
pendency in the RTC of the civil action for rescission of contract that posed a prejudicial question as to
the criminal proceedings.
8

On November 20, 1998, the Assistant City Prosecutor handling the preliminary investigation
recommended the dismissal of the charges of estafa and the suspension of the proceedings relating to
the violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 based on a prejudicial question.
9

On January 5, 1999, the City Prosecutor of Makati approved the recommendation of the handling
Assistant City Prosecutor,
10
stating:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the complaint for Estafa is respectfully recommended to be
dismissed, as upon approval, it is hereby dismissed.
Further, it is respectfully recommended that the proceedings in the charge for Violation of Batas
Pambansa Bilang 22 against the respondent be suspended until the prejudicial question raised in Civil
Case Q-98-35109 for Rescission of Contract and Damages which is now pending with the RTC of
Quezon City, Branch 224, has been duly resolved.
Rossi appealed the resolution of the City Prosecutor to the Department of Justice, but the Secretary of
Justice, by resolution of July 24, 2001, denied Rossis petition for review.
After the denial of his motion for reconsideration on April 29, 2002, Rossi challenged the resolutions of
the Secretary of Justice by petition for certiorari in the CA.
Ruling of the CA
In the petition for certiorari, Rossi insisted that the Secretary of Justice had committed grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in upholding the suspension of the criminal
proceedings by the City Prosecutor of Makati on account of the existence of a prejudicial question, and in
sustaining the dismissal of the complaints for estafa.
On May 30, 2003, the CA promulgated its assailed decision,
11
to wit:
WHEREFORE, the foregoing considered, the assailed resolution is hereby MODIFIED and the instant
petition isGRANTED in so far as the issue of the existence of prejudicial question is concerned.
Accordingly, the order suspending the preliminary investigation in I.S. No. 98-40024-29
is REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and the dismissal of the complaint for estafa is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
Issues
Hence, this appeal by Reyes.
Reyes asserts that the CA erred in ruling that there was no prejudicial question that warranted the
suspension of the criminal proceedings against him; that the petition suffered fatal defects that merited its
immediate dismissal; that the CA was wrong in relying on the pronouncements in Balgos, Jr. v.
Sandiganbayan
12
and Umali v. Intermediate Appellate Court
13
because the factual backgrounds thereat
were not similar to that obtaining here; and that the Secretary of Justice did not commit any grave abuse
of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.
In his comment,
14
Rossi counters that the petition for review should be outrightly dismissed because of its
fatal defect; that the CA did not err in ruling that the action for rescission of contract did not pose a
prejudicial question that would suspend the criminal proceedings.
Reyes submitted a reply,
15
declaring that the defect in the affidavit of service attached to his petition for
review had been due to oversight; that he had substantially complied with the rules; that there existed a
prejudicial question that could affect the extent of his liability in light of Supreme Court Administrative
Circular No. 12-2000; and that the CA erred in finding that the Secretary of Justice committed grave
abuse of discretion.
To be resolved is whether or not the civil action for rescission of the contract of sale raised a prejudicial
question that required the suspension of the criminal prosecution for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22.
Ruling
The petition for review is without merit.
A prejudicial question generally comes into play in a situation where a civil action and a criminal action
are both pending, and there exists in the former an issue that must first be determined before the latter
may proceed, because howsoever the issue raised in the civil action is resolved would be
determinative juris et de jure of the guilt or innocence of the accused in the criminal case.
16
The rationale
for the suspension on the ground of a prejudicial question is to avoid conflicting decisions.
17

Two elements that must concur in order for a civil case to be considered a prejudicial question are
expressly stated in Section 7, Rule 111 of the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure, to wit:
Section 7. Elements of prejudicial question. The elements of a prejudicial question are: (a) the
previously instituted civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised in the
subsequent criminal action, and (b) the resolution of such issue determines whether or not the criminal
action may proceed.
In Sabandal v. Tongco,
18
the concept of prejudicial question is explained in this wise:
For a civil action to be considered prejudicial to a criminal case as to cause the suspension of the criminal
proceedings until the final resolution of the civil, the following requisites must be present: (1) the civil case
involves facts intimately related to those upon which the criminal prosecution would be based; (2) in the
resolution of the issue or issues raised in the civil action, the guilt or innocence of the accused would
necessarily be determined; and (3) jurisdiction to try said question must be lodged in another tribunal.
If both civil and criminal cases have similar issues or the issue in one is intimately related to the issues
raised in the other, then a prejudicial question would likely exist, provided the other element or
characteristic is satisfied. It must appear not only that the civil case involves the same facts upon which
the criminal prosecution would be based, but also that the resolution of the issues raised in the civil action
would be necessarily determinative of the guilt or innocence of the accused. If the resolution of the issue
in the civil action will not determine the criminal responsibility of the accused in the criminal action based
on the same facts, or there is no necessity "that the civil case be determined first before taking up the
criminal case," therefore, the civil case does not involve a prejudicial question. Neither is there a
prejudicial question if the civil and the criminal action can, according to law, proceed independently of
each other.
Contending that the rescission of the contract of sale constitutes a prejudicial question, Reyes posits that
the resolution of the civil action will be determinative of whether or not he was criminally liable for the
violations ofBatas Pambansa Blg. 22. He states that if the contract would be rescinded, his obligation to
pay under the conditional deed of sale would be extinguished, and such outcome would necessarily result
in the dismissal of the criminal proceedings for the violations of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22.
The action for the rescission of the deed of sale on the ground that Advanced Foundation did not comply
with its obligation actually seeks one of the alternative remedies available to a contracting party under
Article 1191 of theCivil Code, to wit:
Article 1191. The power to rescind obligations is implied in reciprocal ones, in case one of the obligors
should not comply with what is incumbent upon him.
The injured party may choose between the fulfilment and the rescission of the obligation, with the
payment of damages in either case. He may also seek rescission, even after he has chosen fulfilment, if
the latter should become impossible.
The court shall decree the rescission claimed, unless there be just cause authorizing the fixing of a
period.
This is understood to be without prejudice to the rights of third persons who have acquired the thing, in
accordance with Articles 1385 and 1388 and the Mortgage Law.
Article 1191 of the Civil Code recognizes an implied or tacit resolutory condition in reciprocal obligations.
The condition is imposed by law, and applies even if there is no corresponding agreement thereon
between the parties. The explanation for this is that in reciprocal obligations a party incurs in delay once
the other party has performed his part of the contract; hence, the party who has performed or is ready
and willing to perform may rescind the obligation if the other does not perform, or is not ready and willing
to perform.
19

It is true that the rescission of a contract results in the extinguishment of the obligatory relation as if it was
never created, the extinguishment having a retroactive effect. The rescission is equivalent to invalidating
and unmaking the juridical tie, leaving things in their status before the celebration of the
contract.
20
However, until the contract is rescinded, the juridical tie and the concomitant obligations
subsist.
To properly appreciate if there is a prejudicial question to warrant the suspension of the criminal actions,
reference is made to the elements of the crimes charged. The violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22
requires the concurrence of the following elements, namely: (1) the making, drawing, and issuance of any
check to apply for account or for value; (2) the knowledge of the maker, drawer, or issuer that at the time
of issue he does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the payment of the check
in full upon its presentment; and (3) the subsequent dishonor of the check by the drawee bank for
insufficiency of funds or credit or dishonor for the same reason had not the drawer, without any valid
cause, ordered the bank to stop payment.
21
The issue in the criminal actions upon the violations of Batas
Pambansa Blg. 22 is, therefore, whether or not Reyes issued the dishonoured checks knowing them to be
without funds upon presentment. On the other hand, the issue in the civil action for rescission is whether
or not the breach in the fulfilment of Advanced Foundations obligation warranted the rescission of the
conditional sale. If, after trial on the merits in the civil action, Advanced Foundation would be found to
have committed material breach as to warrant the rescission of the contract, such result would not
necessarily mean that Reyes would be absolved of the criminal responsibility for issuing the dishonored
checks because, as the aforementioned elements show, he already committed the violations upon the
dishonor of the checks that he had issued at a time when the conditional sale was still fully binding upon
the parties. His obligation to fund the checks or to make arrangements for them with the drawee bank
should not be tied up to the future event of extinguishment of the obligation under the contract of sale
through rescission. Indeed, under Batas Pambansa Blg. 22, the mere issuance of a worthless check was
already the offense in itself. Under such circumstances, the criminal proceedings for the violation of Batas
Pambansa Blg. 22 could proceed despite the pendency of the civil action for rescission of the conditional
sale.
Accordingly, we agree with the holding of the CA that the civil action for the rescission of contract was not
determinative of the guilt or innocence of Reyes. We consider the exposition by the CA of its reasons to
be appropriate enough, to wit:
x x x x
We find merit in the petition.
A careful perusal of the complaint for rescission of contract and damages reveals that the causes of
action advanced by respondent Reyes are the alleged misrepresentation committed by the petitioner and
AFCSC and their alleged failure to comply with his demand for proofs of ownership. On one hand, he
posits that his consent to the contract was vitiated by the fraudulent act of the company in
misrepresenting the condition and quality of the dredging pump. Alternatively, he claims that the company
committed a breach of contract which is a ground for the rescission thereof. Either way, he in effect
admits the validity and the binding effect of the deed pending any adjudication which nullifies the same.
Indeed, under the Jaw on contracts, vitiated consent does not make a contract unenforceable but merely
voidable, the remedy of which would be to annul the contract since voidable contracts produce legal
effects until they are annulled. On the other hand, rescission of contracts in case of breach pursuant to
Article 1191 of the Civil Code of the Philippines also presupposes a valid contract unless rescinded or
annulled.
As defined, a prejudicial question is one that arises in a case, the resolution of which is a logical
antecedent of the issue involved therein, and the cognizance of which pertains to another tribunal. The
prejudicial question must be determinative of the case before the court but the jurisdiction to try and
resolve the question must be lodged in another court or tribunal.
It is a question based on a fact distinct and separate from the crime but so intimately connected with it
that it determines the guilt or innocence of the accused, and for it to suspend the criminal action, it must
appear not only that said case involves facts intimately related to those upon which the criminal
prosecution would be based but also that in the resolution of the issue or issues raised in the civil case,
the guilt or innocence of the accused would necessarily be determined. It comes into play generally in a
situation where a civil action and a criminal action are both pending and there exists in the former an
issue which must be preemptively resolved before the criminal action may proceed, because howsoever
the issue raised in the civil action is resolved would be determinative juris et de jure of the guilt or
innocence of the accused in the criminal case.
In this light, it is clear that the pendency of the civil case does not bar the continuation of the proceedings
in the preliminary investigation on the ground that it poses a prejudicial question. Considering that the
contracts are deemed to be valid until rescinded, the consideration and obligatory effect thereof are also
deemed to have been validly made, thus demandable. Consequently, there was no failure of
consideration at the time when the subject checks were dishonored. (Emphasis supplied)
x x x x
WHEREFORE, the Court DENIES the petition for review; AFFIRMS the decision the Court of Appeals
promulgated on May 30, 2003; and DIRECTS the petitioner to pay the costs of suit.
SO ORDERED.



Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 183805 July 3, 2013
JAMES WALTER P. CAPILI, PETITIONER,
vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES AND SHIRLEY TISMO-CAPILI, RESPONDENTS.
D E C I S I O N
PERALTA, J .:
Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking the reversal
of the Decision
1
dated February 1, 2008 and Resolution
2
dated July 24, 2008 of the Court of Appeals
(CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 30444.
The factual antecedents are as follows:
On June 28, 2004, petitioner was charged with the crime of bigamy before the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
of Pasig City in an Information which reads:
On or about December 8, 1999, in Pasig City, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
accused being previously united in lawful marriage with Karla Y. Medina-Capili and without said marriage
having been legally dissolved or annulled, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously contract
a second marriage with Shirley G. Tismo, to the damage and prejudice of the latter.
Contrary to law.
3

Petitioner thereafter filed a Motion to Suspend Proceedings alleging that: (1) there is a pending civil case
for declaration of nullity of the second marriage before the RTC of Antipolo City filed by Karla Y. Medina-
Capili; (2) in the event that the marriage is declared null and void, it would exculpate him from the charge
of bigamy; and (3) the pendency of the civil case for the declaration of nullity of the second marriage
serves as a prejudicial question in the instant criminal case.
Consequently, the arraignment and pre-trial were reset by the RTC of Pasig City, in view of the filing of
the Motion to Suspend Proceedings filed by petitioner.
In the interim, the RTC of Antipolo City rendered a decision declaring the voidness or incipient invalidity of
the second marriage between petitioner and private respondent on the ground that a subsequent
marriage contracted by the husband during the lifetime of the legal wife is void from the beginning.
Thereafter, the petitioner accused filed his Manifestation and Motion (to Dismiss) praying for the dismissal
of the criminal case for bigamy filed against him on the ground that the second marriage between him and
private respondent had already been declared void by the RTC.
In an Order
4
dated July 7, 2006, the RTC of Pasig City granted petitioners Manifestation and Motion to
Dismiss, to wit:
The motion is anchored on the allegation that this case should be dismissed as a decision dated
December 1, 2004 had already been rendered by the Regional Trial Court of Antipolo City, Branch 72 in
Civil Case No. 01-6043 (entitled: "Karla Medina-Capili versus James Walter P. Capili and Shirley G.
Tismo," a case for declaration of nullity of marriage) nullifying the second marriage between James
Walter P. Capili and Shirley G. Tismo and said decision is already final.
In the opposition filed by the private prosecutor to the motion, it was stated, among others, that the issues
raised in the civil case are not similar or intimately related to the issue in this above-captioned case and
that the resolution of the issues in said civil case would not determine whether or not the criminal action
may proceed.
WHEREFORE, after a judicious evaluation of the issue and arguments of the parties, this Court is of the
humble opinion that there is merit on the Motion to dismiss filed by the accused as it appears that the
second marriage between James Walter P. Capili and Shirley G. Tismo had already been nullified by the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 72 of Antipolo City which has declared "the voidness, non-existent or
incipient invalidity" of the said second marriage. As such, this Court submits that there is no more bigamy
to speak of.
SO ORDERED.
Aggrieved, private respondent filed an appeal before the CA.
Thus, in a Decision
5
dated February 1, 2008, the CA reversed and set aside the RTCs decision. The fallo
reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Order dated 07 July 2006 of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig
City, Branch 152 in Crim. Case No. 128370 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The case is remanded to the
trial court for further proceedings. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
6

Petitioner then filed a Motion for Reconsideration against said decision, but the same was denied in a
Resolution[
7
] dated July 24, 2008.
Accordingly, petitioner filed the present petition for review on certiorari alleging that:
THERE IS NO LEGAL BASIS FOR THE COURT OF APPEALS TO DISREGARD EXISTING
JURISPRUDENCE PRONOUNCED BY THIS HONORABLE SUPREME COURT AND TO
REVERSE THE ORDER DATED JULY 7, 2006 OF THE TRIAL COURT (REGIONAL TRIAL
COURT, PASIG CITY, BRANCH 152) ISSUED IN CRIMINAL CASE NO. 128370 GRANTING
THE MOTION TO DISMISS THE CASE OF BIGAMY AGAINST PETITIONER, INASMUCH AS
THE ISSUANCE OF THE SAID ORDER IS BASED ON THE FINDINGS AND/OR FACTS OF
THE CASE IN THE DECISION OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF ANTIPOLO CITY,
BRANCH 72, IN CIVIL CASE NO. 01-6043 AND THE CONCLUDING AND DISPOSITIVE
PORTION IN THE SAID DECISION WHICH STATES THAT, AFTER PERUSAL OF THE
EVIDENCE ON RECORD AND THE TESTIMONIES OF WITNESSES X X X, THE MARRIAGE
BETWEEN PETITIONER JAMES WALTER P. CAPILI AND PRIVATE RESPONDENT SHIRLEY
G. TISMO, IS HEREBY NULL AND VOID.
THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED AND ABUSED ITS DISCRETION AMOUNTING
TO LACK OF JURISDICTION IN HOLDING THAT THE DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF
MARRIAGE BETWEEN PETITIONER JAMES WALTER P. CAPILI AND SHIRLEY G. TISMO BY
THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF ANTIPOLO CITY, BRANCH 72 IN ITS DECISION IN CIVIL
CASE NO. 01-6043, IS ON THE GROUND THAT IT IS BIGAMOUS IN NATURE, DESPITE THE
ABSENCE OF ANY SUCH FINDINGS OR FACTS ON WHICH IT IS BASED IN VIOLATION OF
ARTICLE VIII, SECTION 14 OF THE 1987 CONSTITUTION, AND IN CONCLUDING THAT THE
SAID DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF MARRIAGE IS NOT A GROUND FOR DISMISSAL OF
THE BIGAMY CASE AGAINST THE PETITIONER, WHICH RULING IS NOT IN ACCORDANCE
WITH THE FACTS OF THE CASE OF THE SAID DECISION AND WHICH IS CONTRARY TO
APPLICABLE LAWS AND ESTABLISHED JURISPRUDENCE.
THE CASE OF TENEBRO V. COURT OF APPEALS SPEAKS FOR ITSELF. IT IS AN
EXCEPTION TO EXISTING JURISPRUDENCE INVOLVING DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF
MARRIAGE AND IS APPLICABLE ONLY TO THE SET OF FACTS IN THE SAID CASE, AND
THE GROUND FOR DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF MARRIAGE IS PSYCHOLOGICAL
INCAPACITY, HENCE, THERE IS NO LEGAL BASIS FOR ABANDONING EXISTING
JURISPRUDENCE AS WHERE IN THE INSTANT CASE THE GROUND FOR DECLARATION
OF NULLITY OF MARRIAGE IS VIOLATIVE OF ARTICLE 3 IN RELATION TO ARTICLE 4 OF
THE FAMILY CODE.
THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT THE USE BY
RESPONDENT SHIRLEY G. TISMO OF THE SURNAME "CAPILI" IS ILLEGAL INASMUCH AS
THE DECISION OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF ANTIPOLO CITY, BRANCH 72 IN
CIVIL CASE NO. 01-6043 DECLARING NULL AND VOID THE MARRIAGE BETWEEN JAMES
WALTER P. CAPILI AND SHIRLEY G. TISMO HAD LONG BECOME FINAL AND
UNAPPEALABLE AS OF THE DATE OF THE SAID DECISION ON DECEMBER 1, 2004 AND
DULY RECORDED IN THE RECORDS OF ENTRIES IN THE CORRESPONDING BOOK IN
THE OFFICE OF THE CIVIL REGISTRAR OF PASIG CITY AND THE NATIONAL STATISTICS
OFFICE.
8

In essence, the issue is whether or not the subsequent declaration of nullity of the second marriage is a
ground for dismissal of the criminal case for bigamy.
We rule in the negative.
Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code defines and penalizes the crime of bigamy as follows:
Art. 349. Bigamy. The penalty of prision mayor shall be imposed upon any person who shall contract a
second or subsequent marriage before the former marriage has been legally dissolved, or before the
absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper
proceedings.
The elements of the crime of bigamy, therefore, are: (1) the offender has been legally married; (2) the
marriage has not been legally dissolved or, in case his or her spouse is absent, the absent spouse could
not yet be presumed dead according to the Civil Code; (3) that he contracts a second or subsequent
marriage; and (4) that the second or subsequent marriage has all the essential requisites for validity.
9

In the present case, it appears that all the elements of the crime of bigamy were present when the
Information was filed on June 28, 2004.
It is undisputed that a second marriage between petitioner and private respondent was contracted on
December 8, 1999 during the subsistence of a valid first marriage between petitioner and Karla Y.
Medina-Capili contracted on September 3, 1999. Notably, the RTC of Antipolo City itself declared the
bigamous nature of the second marriage between petitioner and private respondent. Thus, the
subsequent judicial declaration of the second marriage for being bigamous in nature does not bar the
prosecution of petitioner for the crime of bigamy.
Jurisprudence is replete with cases holding that the accused may still be charged with the crime of
bigamy, even if there is a subsequent declaration of the nullity of the second marriage, so long as the first
marriage was still subsisting when the second marriage was celebrated.
In Jarillo v. People,
10
the Court affirmed the accuseds conviction for bigamy ruling that the crime of
bigamy is consummated on the celebration of the subsequent marriage without the previous one having
been judicially declared null and void, viz.:
The subsequent judicial declaration of the nullity of the first marriage was immaterial because prior to the
declaration of nullity, the crime had already been consummated. Moreover, petitioners assertion would
only delay the prosecution of bigamy cases considering that an accused could simply file a petition to
declare his previous marriage void and invoke the pendency of that action as a prejudicial question in the
criminal case. We cannot allow that.
The outcome of the civil case for annulment of petitioners marriage to [private complainant] had no
bearing upon the determination of petitioners innocence or guilt in the criminal case for bigamy, because
all that is required for the charge of bigamy to prosper is that the first marriage be subsisting at the time
the second marriage is contracted.
Thus, under the law, a marriage, even one which is void or voidable, shall be deemed valid until declared
otherwise in a judicial proceeding. In this case, even if petitioner eventually obtained a declaration that his
first marriage was void ab initio, the point is, both the first and the second marriage were subsisting
before the first marriage was annulled.
11

In like manner, the Court recently upheld the ruling in the aforementioned case and ruled that what makes
a person criminally liable for bigamy is when he contracts a second or subsequent marriage during the
subsistence of a valid first marriage. It further held that the parties to the marriage should not be permitted
to judge for themselves its nullity, for the same must be submitted to the judgment of competent courts
and only when the nullity of the marriage is so declared can it be held as void, and so long as there is no
such declaration the presumption is that the marriage exists. Therefore, he who contracts a second
marriage before the judicial declaration of the first marriage assumes the risk of being prosecuted for
bigamy.
12

Finally, it is a settled rule that the criminal culpability attaches to the offender upon the commission of the
offense, and from that instant, liability appends to him until extinguished as provided by law.
13
It is clear
then that the crime of bigamy was committed by petitioner from the time he contracted the second
marriage with private respondent. Thus, the finality of the judicial declaration of nullity of petitioners
second marriage does not impede the filing of a criminal charge for bigamy against him.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED. The Decision dated February 1, 2008 and
Resolution dated July 24, 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 30444 are hereby AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.




FIRST DIVISION
[G.R. No. 148193. January 16, 2003]
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. RAFAEL JOSE CONSING, JR., respondent.
D E C I S I O N
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J .:
Before us is a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeking to set aside the May
31, 2001 decision
[1]
of the Court of Appeals
[2]
in CA-G.R. SP No. 63712, which reversed and set aside the
January 23, 2001 order
[3]
of the Regional Trial Court of Imus, Cavite, Branch 21, in Criminal Case No.
7668-00 denying respondents motion for deferment of arraignment.
Sometime in February 1997, respondent Rafael Jose Consing, Jr. and his mother, Cecilia de la
Cruz,
[4]
represented to Plus Builders, Inc. (PBI) that they are the true and lawful owners of a 42,443
square meter lot situated in Imus, Cavite and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 687599 in the
name of Cecilia de la Cruz. They further represented that they acquired said lot, which was previously
covered by TCT No. 191408 from Juanito Tan Teng and Po Willie Yu. Relying on the representations of
respondent and his mother, PBI purchased the questioned lot.
In April 1999, PBI discovered that respondent and his mother did not have a valid title over the
subject lot. PBI came to know that Juanito Tan Teng and Po Willie Yu never sold said lot to respondent
and his mother and that TCT No. 191408 upon which TCT No. 687599 was based is not on file with the
Register of Deeds.
In August 1999, PBI was ousted from the possession of the disputed lot by Juanito Tan Teng and Po
Willie Yu. Despite written and verbal demands, respondent and his mother refused to return the amount
of P13,369,641.79 alleged to have been initially paid by PBI.
On July 22, 1999, respondent filed with the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 68, an action
for Injunctive Relief docketed as Civil Case No. SCA 1759, against PBI, Unicapital Inc, Unicapital Realty
Inc., Jaime Martires, Mariano D. Martinez, Cecilia de la Cruz and 20 other John Does.
[5]
Respondent
sought a declaration that he was merely an agent of his mother, Cecilia de la Cruz, and therefore was not
under any obligation to PBI and to the other defendants on the various transactions involving TCT No.
687599.
On October 13, 1999, PBI filed against respondent and his mother a complaint for Damages and
Attachment, docketed as Civil Case No. 99-95381, with Branch 12 of the Regional Trial Court of
Manila.
[6]
Respondent filed a motion to dismiss on the ground of forum shopping and pendency of Civil
Case No. SCA 1759.
[7]

On January 21, 2000, a criminal case for estafa through falsification of public document was filed
against respondent Rafael Jose Consing, Jr. and his mother with the RTC of Imus, Cavite.
[8]

On April 7, 2000, respondent filed a motion to defer arraignment on the ground of prejudicial
question, i.e., the pendency of Civil Case Nos. SCA 1759 and 99-95381.
[9]
On January 27, 2000, the trial
court denied respondents motion.
A motion for reconsideration thereof was likewise denied on February 27, 2001.
[10]

Respondent filed a petition for certiorari with prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order
and/or writ of preliminary injunction with the Court of Appeals seeking to enjoin the arraignment and trial
of the estafa through falsification case.
[11]
The Court of Appeals granted respondents prayer for the
issuance of a temporary restraining order in a resolution dated March 19, 2001.
[12]

On May 31, 2001, a decision was rendered setting aside the January 27, 2000 order of the trial court
and permanently enjoining it from proceeding with the arraignment and trial of the criminal case until the
civil cases for Injunctive Relief and for Damages and Attachment shall have been finally decided.
Hence, the People of the Philippines, represented by the Solicitor General, filed the instant petition
seeking the reversal of the May 31, 2001 decision of the Court of Appeals.
The issue to be resolved in this petition is whether or not the pendency of Civil Case Nos. SCA 1759
and 99-95381, for Injunctive Relief and for Damages and Attachment, is a prejudicial question justifying
the suspension of the proceedings in the criminal case for estafa through falsification of public document,
filed against the respondent.
A prejudicial question is defined as that which arises in a case, the resolution of which is a logical
antecedent of the issue involved therein, and the cognizance of which pertains to another tribunal. The
prejudicial question must be determinative of the case before the court but the jurisdiction to try and
resolve the question must be lodged in another court or tribunal. It is a question based on a fact distinct
and separate from the crime but so intimately connected with it that it determines the guilt or innocence of
the accused. For a civil action to be considered prejudicial to a criminal case as to cause the suspension
of the criminal proceedings until the final resolution of the civil action, the following requisites must be
present: (1) the civil case involves facts intimately related to those upon which the criminal prosecution
would be based; (2) in the resolution of the issue or issues raised in the civil action, the guilt or innocence
of the accused would necessarily be determined; and (3) jurisdiction to try said question must be lodged
in another tribunal.
[13]

If both civil and criminal cases have similar issues or the issue in one is intimately related to the
issues raised in the other, then a prejudicial question would likely exist, provided the other element or
characteristic is satisfied. It must appear not only that the civil case involves the same facts upon which
the criminal prosecution would be based, but also that the resolution of the issues raised in the civil action
would be necessarily determinative of the guilt or innocence of the accused. If the resolution of the issue
in the civil action will not determine the criminal responsibility of the accused in the criminal action based
on the same facts, or there is no necessity that the civil case be determined first before taking up the
criminal case, therefore, the civil case does not involve a prejudicial question.
[14]

In the case at bar, we find no prejudicial question that would justify the suspension of the
proceedings in the criminal case. The issue in Civil Case No. SCA 1759 for Injunctive Relief is whether or
not respondent merely acted as an agent of his mother, Cecilia de la Cruz; while in Civil Case No. 99-
95381, for Damages and Attachment, the question is whether respondent and his mother are liable to pay
damages and to return the amount paid by PBI for the purchase of the disputed lot. Even if respondent is
declared merely an agent of his mother in the transaction involving the sale of the questioned lot, he
cannot be adjudged free from criminal liability. An agent or any person may be held liable for conspiring
to falsify public documents. Hence, the determination of the issue involved in Civil Case No. SCA 1759
for Injunctive Relief is irrelevant to the guilt or innocence of the respondent in the criminal case for estafa
through falsification of public document.
Likewise, the resolution of PBIs right to be paid damages and the purchase price of the lot in
question will not be determinative of the culpability of the respondent in the criminal case for even if PBI is
held entitled to the return of the purchase price plus damages, it does not ipso facto follow that
respondent should be held guilty of estafa through falsification of public document. Stated differently, a
ruling of the court in the civil case that PBI should not be paid the purchase price plus damages will not
necessarily absolve respondent of liability in the criminal case where his guilt may still be established
under penal laws as determined by other evidence.
Moreover, neither is there a prejudicial question if the civil and the criminal action can, according to
law, proceed independently of each other.
[15]
Under Rule 111, Section 3 of the Revised Rules on Criminal
Procedure, in the cases provided in Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code, the independent civil
action may be brought by the offended party. It shall proceed independently of the criminal action and
shall require only a preponderance of evidence. In no case, however, may the offended party recover
damages twice for the same act or omission charged in the criminal action.
Thus, in Rojas v. People,
[16]
the petitioner was accused in a criminal case for violation of Article 319
of the Revised Penal Code, for executing a new chattel mortgage on personal property in favor of another
party without consent of the previous mortgagee. Thereafter, the offended party filed a civil case for
termination of management contract, one of the causes of action of which consisted of petitioner having
executed a chattel mortgage while the previous chattel mortgage was still valid and subsisting. Petitioner
moved that the arraignment and trial of the criminal case be held in abeyance on the ground that the civil
case was a prejudicial question, the resolution of which was necessary before the criminal proceedings
could proceed. The trial court denied the suspension of the criminal case on the ground that no
prejudicial question exist. We affirmed the order of the trial court and ruled that:
the resolution of the liability of the defendant in the civil case on the eleventh cause of action based on
the fraudulent misrepresentation that the chattel mortgage the defendant executed in favor of the said
CMS Estate, Inc. on February 20, 1957, that his D-6 Caterpillar Tractor with Serial No. 9-U-6565 was
free from all liens and encumbrances will not determine the criminal liability of the accused in the said
Criminal Case No. 56042 for violation of paragraph 2 of Article 319 of the Revised Penal Code. . . . (i)
That, even granting for the sake of argument, a prejudicial question is involved in this case, the fact
remains that both the crime charged in the information in the criminal case and the eleventh cause of
action in the civil case are based upon fraud, hence both the civil and criminal cases could proceed
independently of the other pursuant to Article 33 of the new Civil Code which provides: In cases of
defamation, fraud and physical injuries, a civil action for damages, entirely separate and distinct from the
criminal action shall proceed independently of the criminal prosecution, and shall require only a
preponderance of evidence. (j) That, therefore, the act of respondent judge in issuing the orders referred
to in the instant petition was not made with grave abuse of discretion.
In the instant case, Civil Case No. 99-95381, for Damages and Attachment on account of the alleged
fraud committed by respondent and his mother in selling the disputed lot to PBI is an independent civil
action under Article 33 of the Civil Code. As such, it will not operate as a prejudicial question that will
justify the suspension of the criminal case at bar.
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the instant petition is GRANTED. The May 31, 2001
decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 63712 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The
permanent injunction issued by the Court of Appeals is LIFTED and the Regional Trial Court of Imus,
Cavite, Branch 21 is ORDERED to proceed with the arraignment and trial in Criminal Case No. 7668-00.
SO ORDERED.