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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-22579 February 23, 1968
ROLANDO LANDICHO, petitioner,
vs.
HON. LORENZO RELOVA, in his capacity as Judge of the Court of First Instance of Batangas, Branch I, and
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
Jose W. Diokno for petitioner.
Office of the Solicitor General for respondents.
FERNANDO, J .:
In this petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction, the question before the Court is whether
or not the existence of a civil suit for the annulment of marriage at the instance of the second wife against petitioner,
with the latter in turn filing a third party complaint against the first spouse for the annulment of the first marriage,
constitutes a prejudicial question in a pending suit for bigamy against him. Respondent, Judge Relova answered in
the negative. We sustain him.
The pertinent facts as set forth in the petition follow.

FACTS: On February 27, 1963, petitioner was charged with the offense, of bigamy. It was alleged in the information
that petitioner "being then lawfully married to Elvira Makatangay, which marriage has not been legally dissolved, did
then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously contract a second marriage with Fe Lourdes Pasia."
On March 15, 1963, an action was filed before the Court of First Instance ofBatangas, likewise presided plaintiff
respondent Judge Fe Lourdes Pasia, seeking to declare her marriage to petitioner as null and void ab initio because
of the alleged use of force, threats and intimidation allegedly employed by petitioner and because of its allegedly
bigamous character.
On June 15, 1963, petitioner as defendant in said case, filed a third-party complaint, against the third-party defendant
Elvira Makatangay, the first spouse, praying that his marriage with the said third-party defendant be declared null and
void, on the ground that by means of threats, force and intimidation, she compelled him to appear and contract
marriage with her before the Justice of the Peace of Makati, Rizal.
Thereafter, on October 7, 1963, petitioner moved to suspend the hearing of the criminal case pending the
decision on the question of the validity of the two marriages involved in the pending civil suit. Respondent Judge on
November 19, 1963 denied the motion for lack of merit. Then came a motion for reconsideration to set aside the
above order, which was likewise denied on March 2, 1964. Hence this petition, filed on March 13, 1964.
In a resolution of this Court of March 17, 1964, respondent Judge was required to answer within ten (10) days,
with a preliminary injunction being issued to restrain him from further proceeding with the prosecution of the bigamy
case. In the meanwhile, before the answer was filed there was an amended petition for certiorari, the amendment
consisting solely in the inclusion of the People of the Philippines as another respondent. This Court admitted such
amended petition in a resolution of April 3, 1964.
Then came the answer to the amended petition on May 14 of that year where the statement of facts as above
detailed was admitted, with the qualifications that the bigamy charge was filed upon the complaint of the first spouse
Elvira Makatangay. It alleged as one of its special and affirmative defenses that the mere fact that "there are actions
to annul the marriages entered into by the accused in a bigamy case does not mean that 'prejudicial questions are
automatically raised in said civil actions as to warrant the suspension of the criminal case for bigamy."
1
The answer
stressed that even on the assumption that the first marriage was null and void on the ground alleged by petitioner, the
fact would not be material to the outcome of the criminal case. It continued, referring to Viada, that "parties to the
marriage should not be permitted to judge for themselves its nullity, for this must be submitted to the judgment of
competent courts and only when the nullity of a 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, according to Viada, he who contracts a
second marriage before the judicial declaration of nullity of the first marriage incurs the penalty provided for in this
Article. . . ."
2

This defense is in accordance with the principle implicit in authoritative decisions of this Court. In Merced v.
Diez,
3
what was in issue was the validity of the second marriage, "which must be determined before hand in the civil
action before the criminal action can proceed." According to the opinion of Justice Labrador: "We have a situation
where the issue of the validity of the second marriage can be determined or must first be determined in the civil action
before the criminal action for bigamy can be prosecuted. The question of the validity of the second marriage is,
therefore, a prejudicial question because determination of the validity of the second marriage is determinable in the
civil action and must precede the criminal action for bigamy." It was the conclusion of this Court then that for
petitioner Merced to be found guilty of bigamy, the second marriage which he contracted "must first be declared
valid." Its validity having been questioned in the civil action, there must be a decision in such a case "before the
prosecution for bigamy can proceed."
To the same effect is the doctrine announced in Zapanta v. Mendoza.
4
As explained in the opinion of Justice
Dizon: "We have heretofore defined a prejudicial question 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 — we further said — must be determinative of the case before the court, and jurisdiction to try the
same must be lodged in another court. . . . These requisites are present in the case at bar. Should the question for
annulment of the second marriage pending in the Court of First Instance of Pampanga prosper on the ground that,
according to the evidence, petitioner's consent thereto was obtained by means of duress, force and intimidation, it is
obvious that his act was involuntary and can not be the basis of his conviction for the crime of bigamy with which he
was charged in the Court of First Instance of Bulacan. Thus the issue involved in the action for the annulment of the
second marriage is determinative of petitioner's guilt or innocence of the crime of bigamy. . . ."
The situation in this case is markedly different. At the time the petitioner was indicted for bigamy on February
27, 1963, the fact that two marriage ceremonies had been contracted appeared to be indisputable. Then on March
15, 1963, it was the second spouse, not petitioner who filed an action for nullity on the ground of force, threats and
intimidation. It was sometime later, on June 15, 1963, to be precise, when petitioner, as defendant in the civil action,
filed a third-party complaint against the first spouse alleging that his marriage with her should be declared null and
void on the ground of force, threats and intimidation. As was correctly stressed in the answer of respondent Judge
relying on Viada, parties to a marriage should not be permitted to judge for themselves its nullity, only competent
courts having such authority. Prior to such declaration of nullity, the validity of the first marriage is beyond question. A
party who contracts a second marriage then assumes the risk of being prosecuted for bigamy.
Such was the situation of petitioner. There is no occasion to indulge in the probability that the third-party
complaint against the first wife brought almost five months after the prosecution for bigamy was started could have
been inspired by the thought that he could thus give color to a defense based on an alleged prejudicial question. The
above judicial decisions as well as the opinion of Viada preclude a finding that respondent Judge abused, much less
gravely abused, his discretion in failing to suspend the hearing as sought by petitioner.
WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is denied and the writ of preliminary injunction issued dissolved. With
costs.1äwphï1.ñët
Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Makalintal, Bengzon, J.P., Zaldivar, Sanchez, Castro and Angeles, JJ.,
concur.
RULING!!!
((**The mere fact that there are actions to annul the marriages entered into by the accused in a
bigamy case does not mean that "prejudicial questions" are automatically raised in civil actions as
to warrant the suspension of the case. In order that the case of annulment of marriage be
considered a prejudicial question to the bigamy case against the accused, it must be shown that
the petitioner's consent to such marriage must be the one that was obtained by means of duress,
force and intimidation to show that his act in the second marriage must be involuntary and cannot
be the basis of his conviction for the crime of bigamy. The situation in the present case is markedly
different. At the time the petitioner was indicted for bigamy on February 27, 1963, the fact that two
marriage ceremonies had been contracted appeared to be indisputable. And it was the second
spouse, not the petitioner who filed the action for nullity on the ground of force, threats and
intimidation. And it was only on June 15, 1963, that petitioner, as defendant in the civil action, filed
a third-party complaint against the first spouse alleging that his marriage with her should be
declared null and void on the ground of force, threats and intimidation. Assuming that the first
marriage was null and void on the ground alleged by petitioner, the fact would not be material to the
outcome of the 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. The lower court therefore, has not abused much less gravely abused, its
discretion in failing to suspend the hearing as sought by petitioner.
))


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S u n d a y , Au g u s t 1 2 , 2 0 1 2
LANDICHO VS RELOVA Case Digest

LANDICHO V. RELOVA

Facts:
On February 27, 1963, petitioner was charged before the Court of First Instance of Batangas, Branch I,
presided over by respondent Judge, with the offense, of bigamy. It was alleged in the information that petitioner
"being then lawfully married to Elvira Makatangay, which marriage has not been legally dissolved, did then and there
wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously contract a second marriage with Fe Lourdes Pasia." On March 15, 1963, an action
was filed before the Court of First Instance of Batangas, likewise presided plaintiff respondent Judge Fe Lourdes
Pasia, seeking to declare her marriage to petitioner as null and void ab initio because of the alleged use of force,
threats and intimidation allegedly employed by petitioner and because of its allegedly bigamous character. On June
15, 1963, petitioner as defendant in said case, filed a third-party complaint, against the third-party defendant
Elvira Makatangay, the first spouse, praying that his marriage with the said third-party defendant be declared null and
void, on the ground that by means of threats, force and intimidation, she compelled him to appear and contract
marriage with her before the Justice of the Peace of Makati, Rizal.

Issue: Whether or not the civil case filed is a prejudicial question.

Ruling:
Where the first wife filed a criminal action for bigamy against the husband, and later the second wife filed a
civil case for annulment of the marriage on the ground of force and intimidation, and the husband later files a civil
case for annulment of marriage against the first wife, the civil cases are not prejudicial questions in the determination
of his criminal liability for bigamy, since his consent to the second marriage is not in issue. "The mere fact that there
are actions to annul the marriages entered into by accused in a bigamy case does not mean that "prejudicial
questions" are automatically raised in civil actions as to warrant the suspension of the criminal case. In order that the
case of annulment of marriage be considered a prejudicial question to the bigamy case against the accused, it must
be shown that petitioner's consent to such marriage must be the one that was obtained by means of duress, force
and intimidation to show that his act in the second marriage must be involuntary and cannot be the basis of his
conviction for the crime of bigamy.
The situation in the present case is markedly different. At the time the petitioner was indicted for bigamy, the
fact that two marriage ceremonies had been contracted appeared to be indisputable. And it was the second spouse,
not the petitioner who filed the action for nullity on the ground of force, threats and intimidation. And it was only later
that petitioner as defendant in the civil action, filed a third party complaint against the first spouse alleging that his
marriage with her should be declared null and void on the ground of force, threats and intimidation. Assuming 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 a competent court 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."
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-16874 February 27, 1961
DIOSDADO S. MENDIOLA, DOMINGO B. JOLA, TEODORO G. DE LA CRUZ, and HERMOGENES
CONCEPCION, JR., petitioners,
vs.
HON. HIGINO MACADAEG, Judge of the Court of First Instance of Manila, PABLO ROMAN, RAMON RACELIS,
ARMANDO ABAD, JR., JUAN J. BUENAFE, LUCIANO BUENAFE, HELMUTH HOLLNSTEINER, CONSUELO S.
PEREZ, MELCHOR TUAZON, JR., MARIA TERESA CONUI, and VICENTE R. DE LEON, respondents.
Laurel Law Offices for petitioners.
Norberto S. Quisumbing for respondents.
BARRERA, J .:
This is a petition for certiorari, prohibition, and/or mandamus filed by the City Fiscal of Manila, together with Diosdado
Mendiola, Domingo Jola, and Teodoro C. de la Cruz, minority stockholders of the Republic Savings Bank, seeking to
nullify the preliminary writ of injunction issued in Civil Case No. 41454 of the Court of First Instance of Manila,
restraining the petitioner City Fiscal from proceeding with his investigation of a complaint for falsification of public
and/or commercial documents filed against respondents Pablo Roman, Ramon Racelis, Armando Abad, Jr., Juan J.
Buenafe, Luciano Buenafe, Helmuth Hollnsteiner, Consuelo S. Perez, Melchor Tuazon, Jr., Maria Teresa Conui, and
Vicente R. de Leon.
The antecedents are as follows: .
In a letter-complaint dated March 2, 1959, later amended on May 9, 1959, and filed with the City Fiscal of Manila,
Diosdado S. Mendiola, Domingo B. Jola, and Teodoro S. de la Cruz, minority stockholders of the Republic Savings
Bank, accused Pablo Roman, Ramon Racelis Luciano F. Buenafe, Juan J. Buenafe, Maria Teresa Conui, and
Vicente R. de Leon (officials and employees of the Republic Savings Bank), together with Helmuth Hollnsteiner,
Armando Abad, Jr., Consuelo Salazar-Perez, Melchor Tuazon, Jr., John Doe, Peter Doe, James Doe, Richard Doe,
and Mary Doe, of the crime of falsification of public and/or commercial documents under Article 171, paragraphs 2, 3,
and 4, and Article 172, paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code, in relation to Sections 75, 76, 77, 78, 83, and 87 of
the Banking Act (Republic Act 337), allegedly committed by the respondents Bank officials and employees, in
connivance with the other respondents, in preparing or causing the preparation of the following documents: .
Deeds of absolute sale.
(1) Four deeds of absolute sale, all dated December 10 1957, by virtue of which Pablo M. Sarangaya
purportedly sold and conveyed ownership of the properties separately described therein unto Felizardo
Africa, Honorato Galang, Raul Suarez, and Conrado Enrile, respectively. These deeds were all signed by
Melchor Tuazon, Jr. and Peter Doe, as witnesses, and notarized and acknowledged by Armando Abad, Jr.
(2) Four deeds of mortgage, all dated December 11, 1957, allegedly executed by vendee Africa, Galang,
Suarez, and Enrile in favor of the Republic Savings Bank, to secure their respective loans of P85,000.00,
P210,000.00, P250,000.00, and P200,000.00, incurred to pay the balance of the purchase price of the
aforementioned properties. Said deeds of mortgage were witnessed by Maria Teresa Conui and John Doe,
and notarized and acknowledged by Luciano F. Buenafe.
(3) Four deeds of sale with assumption of mortgage, all dated September 3, 1958, allegedly executed by
Felizardo Africa, Honorato Galang, Raul Suarez, and Conrado Enrile, the first two in favor of the Beneficial
Financing Corporation of which Consuelo S. Perez is the President and majority stockholder, and the other
two in favor of Consuelo Salazar-Perez personally.
Specifically, the charge was that respondents made untruthful statements in the respective narration of facts, by
causing it to appear in said deeds that the alleged vendees Africa, Galang, Suarez, and Enrile took part in the acts
and proceedings indicated therein when in fact they did not; that by the unlawful and deliberate preparation,
execution, and accomplishment of the aforementioned documents, the Register of Deeds of Rizal was induced to
issue the corresponding transfer certificate of title for each of said properties, and the registration thereof in the
names of Africa, Galang, Suarez, and Enrile, and to register the deeds of mortgage allegedly executed by the
purchasers in favor of the Republic Savings Bank, as well as the supposed subsequent sale of the same properties,
subject to said mortgages, in favor of Consuelo Salazar-Perez and the Beneficial Financing Corporation (of which
Mrs. Perez is the President and majority stockholder); that by virtue of such fraudulent transactions, respondents
were able to cause the unlawful disbursement of the funds of the Republic Savings Bank in the total sum of
P745,000.00 in violation of their trust and which could not have been accomplished without the misrepresentations
and falsifications complained of. This complaint was docketed as I.S. No. 6876 of the City Fiscal's Office.
With full knowledge of the filing of this complaint in the respondent City Fiscal's Office, and notwithstanding the
summons issued by this official, the Beneficial Financing Corporation and Consuelo Salazar-Perez, on April 3, 1959,
entered into a contract with Top Service, Inc. whereby they promised to sell to the latter the four (4) parcels of land for
the sum of P794,764.30 for the first two parcels, and P597,031.30 for the last two parcels. Subsequently, Beneficial
Financing Corporation conveyed the two parcels of land it obtained from Africa and Galang to Mrs. Perez who
thereby became the owner of the four parcels. There-after, respondents filed a motion to quash the criminal complaint
and an alternative motion to postpone the investigation on the ground that the nullity of the mortgage contracts is a
prejudicial question to the charge for falsification. Evidently to bolster up this theory, Top Service, Inc. subsequently
instituted in the Court of First Instance of Pasig (Civil Case No. 5584) an action against Consuelo Salazar-Perez
purportedly "to quiet title" of Mrs. Perez, alleging, among others, the agreement to sell secured in its favor in virtue of
which plaintiff averred to have already paid the total amount of P50,000.00 as advance payment, and was to
undertake, as it did undertake, to subdivide the parcels of land into small lots, lay out streets and plazas; that it had
already spent more than P300,000.00 and was expected to spend around P1,000,000.00 more to complete the
subdivision work; that it learned of the filing by the three minority stockholders of the Republic Savings Bank of the
complaint for falsification involving the parcels subject of their contract; that such proceeding was prejudicial to its
lights, title, and interest under the aforementioned promise to sell. Thus, it was prayed that the court render judgment
"to remove such cloud or to quiet the title of the aforesaid real property".
The defendant, Consuelo Salazar-Perez answered the complaint denying the alleged falsification and asserting the
validity of her title over the said properties.
After the issues in said civil case have thus been apparently joined, the respondents in I.S. No. 6976 of the City
Fiscal's Office reiterated their motion to quash or suspend the investigation of the criminal complaint, inviting attention
to the civil action filed in Pasig and insisting that the same is an existing prejudicial civil question that warrants the
suspension of the preliminary investigation. Upon its denial by the investigating fiscal, respondents appealed to the
City Fiscal. Ruling that a decision in Civil Case No. 5584, filed in Pasig, purportedly to quiet title over the properties
involved therein, is not essential to the determination of the criminal liability of the respondents for falsification as
charged in the complaint, the City Fiscal ordered the continuation of the preliminary investigation, setting the same for
September 16, 1959, at 1:30 P.M. On the appointed date, but before the actual investigation could take place,
however, the City Fiscal received a writ of preliminary injunction, issued ex-parte by the Court of First Instance of
Manila in Civil Case No. 41454,1 enjoining him to refrain from conducting the preliminary investigation of I.S. 6976.
Their separate motions to dismiss the case and to dissolve the injunction having been denied, the City Fiscal,
together with the complainants in the criminal investigation, filed the instant petition for the purpose heretofore stated,
viz, to stated aside the preliminary writ of injunction restraining the City Fiscal from proceeding with his investigation.
The only question to be resolved in this instance is whether the proceedings in I.S. No. 6976 of the City Fiscal's Office
may be stopped or suspended pending the final determination of the question involved in Civil Case No. 5584 of the
Court of First Instance of Rizal (Pasig) or, differently stated, whether Civil Case No. 5584 is a prejudicial civil action to
the falsification ease subject of I.S. No. 6976.
In the leading case of De Leon v. Mabanag (70 Phil. 202), cited by both parties, this Court, providing the criteria of
when a prejudicial civil question exists, stated:
. . .por regla general, el tribunal que entiende de un asunto criminal tiene competencia para decidir
cuestiones prejudiciales, para solo el efecto de la represion, cuando tales cuestiones aparezcan tan
intimamente ligadas al hecho punible que sea racionalmente impossible su separacion. Pero el articulo 4.
consagra una excepcion, y es cuando la question prejudicial sea determinante de la culpabilidad o
inocencia del acusado, en cuyo caso el tribunal que conoce de la causa criminal debe suspender esta y
hacer que se falle la question prejudicial en juicio civil o administrativo. Esto es exactamente lo que ocurre
ahora La falsification del documento V-1, o mejor dicho, los hechos en que cosisten la misma y su
sustitucion durante el curso del juicio afectan directamente a la moralidad del recurrente como miembro del
foro y es deber de este Tribunal determiner si el mismo es culpable de malas practicas determination que
constituvo en este caso la cuestion prejudicial de caracter administrativo que debe resolverse
separadamente en el expedients administrativo en vista de que determinara a su vez la culpabilidad o
inocencia del recurrente en relacion con el proceso criminal por el delito de falsification. . . . La necesidad de
suspender la investigacion preliminar que ha iniciado el recurrido asi como la incoacion del proceso criminal
por el delito de falsification del documento V-1 resulta mas patente si se considera que la falsedad del
documento y su sustitucion se hallan aun sub-judice y si este Tribunal decidiese que el mismo es genuino y
no ha sido sustituido y por consiguiente el recurrente no es culpable de malas practicas, tal fallo estaria en
pugna con el critirio sustantado por el recurrido."(Emphasis supplied.)
ISSUE: Under the foregoing doctrine, for a civil case to be considered prejudicial to a criminal action as to cause the
suspension of the latter pending its (civil case) final determination, 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
issues or issues raised in the aforesaid civil action, the guilt or innocence of the accused would necessarily be
determined.
HELD: In the case at bar, the burden of the criminal complaint (I.S. No. 6976) is that the falsification therein charged
had caused the fraudulent and illegal disbursements of he funds of the Republic Savings Bank in violation of the
Banking Law and of the Revised Penal Code. The validity of the transfers of ownership over the land is but an
incident. Consequently, even if the ownership of Consuelo Salazar-Perez is upheld in the case to quiet title, such a
decision will not finally conclude that the herein respondents, who are not parties to the said civil action, are innocent
of the falsification that enabled them to obtain through fraudulent misrepresentations and false narration of facts in
the public documents, the illegal disbursements of the bank's funds in the way of loans.
Moreover, the civil case is an action between Top Service, Inc. and Consuelo Salazar-Perez alone. Both parties are
interests in the same proposition, the clearing of doubt in the title of Mrs. Perez, In such a situation, who would raise
the question of falsification of the documents relied on by both parties? How could a judgment rendered under such
circumstances be determinative of the guilt or innocence of the respondents who could not be bound by the decision
without their intervention or the intervention of those who charge the falsification? Clearly, the issue in Civil. Case No.
5594 does not constitute a prejudicial question that would warrant the suspension of the investigation, sought to be
conducted by the petitioner City Fiscal, of the criminal complaint for falsification filed in his office ahead of the civil
case.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby granted, and the preliminary injunction issued by the respondent court (in Civil
Case No. 41454) restraining the City Fiscal of Manila from proceeding with the preliminary investigation of I.S. No.
6976 dissolved. Costs are taxed against the respondents, petitioners in said Civil Case No. 41454. So ordered.
Bengzon, Actg. C.J., Padilla, Bautista Angelo, Concepcion, Reyes, J.B.L., Paredes and Dizon, JJ., concur.


Footnotes
1
A complaint against the City Fiscal and complainants Mendiola, Jola, and De la Cruz, praying for the
issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction to restrain the City Fiscal from proceeding with the preliminary
investigation of I.S. No. 6976, and for the declaration, after trial, that a prejudicial question exists in Civil
Case No. 5584 of the Court of First Instance of Rizal.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-53642 April 15, 1988
LEONILO C. DONATO, petitioners,
vs.
HON. ARTEMON D. LUNA, PRESIDING JUDGE, COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF MANIIA, BRANCH XXXII
HON. JOSE FLAMINIANO, CITY FISCAL OF MANILA; PAZ B. ABAYAN, respondents.
Leopoldo P. Dela Rosa for petitioner.
Emiterio C. Manibog for private respondent.
City Fiscal of Manila for public respondent.

GANCAYCO, J .:
In this petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction, the question for the resolution of the Court is
whether or not a criminal case for bigamy pending before the Court of First Itance of Manila should be suspended in
view of a civil case for annulment of marriage pending before the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court on the
ground that the latter constitutes a prejudicial question. The respondent judge ruled in the negative. We sustain him.
The pertinent facts as set forth in the records follow. On January 23, 1979, the City Fiscal of Manila acting thru
Assistant City Fiscal Amado N. Cantor filed an information for bigamy against herein petitioner, Leonilo C. Donato
with the Court of First Instance of Manila, docketed as Criminal Case No. 43554 and assigned to Branch XXXII of
said court. The information was filed based on the complaint of private respondent Paz B. Abayan.
On September 28, 1979, before the petitioner's arraignment, private respondent filed with the Juvenile and Domestic
Relations Court of Manila a civil action for declaration of nullity of her marriage with petitioner contracted on
September 26, 1978, which action was docketed as Civil Case No. E-02627. Said civil case was based on the ground
that private respondent consented to entering into the marriage, which was petitioner Donato's second one, since she
had no previous knowledge that petitioner was already married to a certain Rosalinda R. Maluping on June 30, 1978.
Petitioner Donato's answer in the civil case for nullity interposed the defense that his second marriage was void since
it was solemnized without a marriage license and that force, violence, intimidation and undue influence were
employed by private respondent to obtain petitioner's consent to the marriage. Prior to the solemnization of the
subsequent or second marriage, petitioner and private respondent had lived together and deported themselves as
husband and wife without the benefit of wedlock for a period of at least five years as evidenced by a joint affidavit
executed by them on September 26, 1978, for which reason, the requisite marriage license was dispensed with
pursuant to Article 76 of the New Civil Code pertaining to marriages of exceptional character.
Prior to the date set for the trial on the merits of Criminal Case No. 43554, petitioner filed a motion to suspend the
proceedings of said case contending that Civil Case No. E-02627 seeking the annulment of his second marriage filed
by private respondent raises a prejudicial question which must first be determined or decided before the criminal case
can proceed.
In an order dated April 7, 1980. Hon. Artemon D. Luna denied the motion to suspend the proceedings in Criminal
Case No. 43554 for bigamy. Respondent judge's basis for denial is the ruling laid down in the case of Landicho vs.
Relova.
1
The order further directed that the proceedings in the criminal case can proceed as scheduled.
A motion for reconsideration was flied by herein petitioner thru counsel citing as one of his grounds for suspension of
proceedings the ruling laid down by this Court in the case of De la Cruz vs. Ejercito
2
which was a much later case
than that cited by respondent judge in his order of denial.
The motion for reconsideration of the said order was likewise denied in an order dated April 14, 1980, for lack of
merit. Hence, the present petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction.
A prejudicial question has been defined to be one which arises in a case, the resolution of which question is a logical
antecedent of the issue involved in said case, and the cognizance of which pertains to another tribunal.
3
It is one
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.
4
A
prejudicial question usually comes into play in a situation where a civil action and a 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 a criminal case.
5

HELD: The requisites of a prejudicial question do not obtain in the case at bar. It must be noted that the issue before
the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court touching upon the nullity of the second marriage is not determinative of
petitioner Donato's guilt or innocence in the crime of bigamy. Furthermore, it was petitioner's second wife, the herein
private respondent Paz B. Abayan who filed the complaint for annulment of the second marriage on the ground that
her consent was obtained through deceit.
Petitioner Donato raised the argument that the second marriage should have been declared null and void on the
ground of force, threats and intimidation allegedly employed against him by private respondent only sometime later
when he was required to answer the civil action for anulment of the second marriage. The doctrine elucidated upon
by the case ofLandicho vs. Relova
6
may be applied to the present case. Said case states that:
**The mere fact that there are actions to annul the marriages entered into by the accused in a
bigamy case does not mean that "prejudicial questions" are automatically raised in civil actions as
to warrant the suspension of the case. In order that the case of annulment of marriage be
considered a prejudicial question to the bigamy case against the accused, it must be shown that
the petitioner's consent to such marriage must be the one that was obtained by means of duress,
force and intimidation to show that his act in the second marriage must be involuntary and cannot
be the basis of his conviction for the crime of bigamy. The situation in the present case is markedly
different. At the time the petitioner was indicted for bigamy on February 27, 1963, the fact that two
marriage ceremonies had been contracted appeared to be indisputable. And it was the second
spouse, not the petitioner who filed the action for nullity on the ground of force, threats and
intimidation. And it was only on June 15, 1963, that petitioner, as defendant in the civil action, filed
a third-party complaint against the first spouse alleging that his marriage with her should be
declared null and void on the ground of force, threats and intimidation. Assuming that the first
marriage was null and void on the ground alleged by petitioner, the fact would not be material to the
outcome of the 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. The lower court therefore, has not abused much less gravely abused, its
discretion in failing to suspend the hearing as sought by petitioner.
In the case at bar, petitioner has not even sufficiently shown that his consent to the second marriage has been
obtained by the use of threats, force and intimidation.
Petitioner calls the attention of this Court to the fact that the case of De la Cruz vs. Ejercito is a later case and as
such it should be the one applied to the case at bar. We cannot agree. The situation in the case at bar is markedly
different. In the aforecited case it was accused Milagros dela Cruz who was charged with bigamy for having
contracted a second marriage while a previous one existed. Likewise, Milagros dela Cruz was also the one who filed
an action for annulment on the ground of duress, as contra-distinguished from the present case wherein it was private
respondent Paz B. Abayan, petitioner's second wife, who filed a complaint for annulment of the second marriage on
the ground that her consent was obtained through deceit since she was not aware that petitioner's marriage was still
subsisting. Moreover, in De la Cruz, a judgment was already rendered in the civil case that the second marriage of
De la Cruz was null and void, thus determinative of the guilt or innocence of the accused in the criminal case. In the
present case, there is as yet no such judgment in the civil case.
Pursuant to the doctrine discussed in Landicho vs. Relova, petitioner Donato cannot apply the rule on prejudicial
questions since a case for annulment of marriage can be considered as a prejudicial question to the bigamy case
against the accused only if it is proved that the petitioner's consent to such marriage was obtained by means of
duress, violence and intimidation in order to establish that his act in the subsequent marriage was an involuntary one
and as such the same cannot be the basis for conviction. The preceding elements do not exist in the case at bar.
Obviously, petitioner merely raised the issue of prejudicial question to evade the prosecution of the criminal case. The
records reveal that prior to petitioner's second marriage on September 26, 1978, he had been living with private
respondent Paz B. Abayan as husband and wife for more than five years without the benefit of marriage. Thus,
petitioner's averments that his consent was obtained by private respondent through force, violence, intimidation and
undue influence in entering a subsequent marriage is belled by the fact that both petitioner and private respondent
executed an affidavit which stated that they had lived together as husband and wife without benefit of marriage for
five years, one month and one day until their marital union was formally ratified by the second marriage and that it
was private respondent who eventually filed the civil action for nullity.
Another event which militates against petitioner's contentions is the fact hat it was only when Civil Case No. E-02627
was filed on September 28, 1979, or more than the lapse of one year from the solemnization of the second marriage
that petitioner came up with the story that his consent to the marriage was secured through the use of force, violence,
intimidation and undue influence. Petitioner also continued to live with private respondent until November 1978, when
the latter left their abode upon learning that Leonilo Donato was already previously married.
In the light of the preceding factual circumstances, it can be seen that the respondent Judge did not err in his earlier
order. There is no pivotal issue that must be pre-emptively resolved in Civil Case No. E-02627 before proceedings in
the criminal action for bigamy can be undertaken.
Accordingly, there being no prejudicial question shown to exit the order of denial issued by the respondent judge
dated April 14, 1980 should be sustained.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit. We make no
pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 112381 March 20, 1995
ISABELO APA, MANUEL APA and LEONILO JACALAN, petitioners,
vs.
HON. RUMOLDO R. FERNANDEZ, HON. CELSO V. ESPINOSA, and SPS. FELIXBERTO TIGOL, JR. and
ROSITA TAGHOY TIGOL, respondents.

MENDOZA, J .:
This is a special civil action of certiorari to set aside orders of respondent Judge Rumoldo R. Fernandez of the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 54, at Lapu-Lapu City, denying petitioners oral motion for the suspension of their
arraignment in Criminal Case No. 012489, entitled: "People of the Philippines v. Isabelo Apa; Manuel Apa and
Leonilo Jacalan," as well as their motion for reconsideration.
Criminal Case No. 012489 is a prosecution for violation of P.D. 772 otherwise known as the Anti-Squatting Law. The
information alleges:
That on February 1990, or prior thereto, in Agus, Lapulapu City, Philippines and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused [herein
petitioners Isabelo Apa, Manuel Apa and Dionisio Jacalan], conspiring, confederating and mutually
helping with one another, without the knowledge and consent of the owner, ROSITA TIGOL, did
then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously take advantage of the absence or tolerance of the
said owner by occupying or possessing a portion of her real property, Lot No. 3635-B of Opon
Cadastre, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 13250, situated in Agus Lapulapu City,
whereon they constructed their respective residential houses against the will of Rosita Tigol, which
acts of the said accused have deprived the latter of the use of a portion of her land, to her damage
and prejudice because despite repeated demands the said accused failed and refused, as they still
fail and refuse to vacate the premises above-mentioned.
Petitioners moved for the suspension of their arraignment on the ground that there was a prejudicial question pending
resolution in another case being tried in Branch 27 of the same court. The case, docketed as Civil Case No. 2247-L
and entitled "Anselmo Taghoy and Vicente Apa versus Felixberto Tigol, Jr. and Rosita T. Tigol, et al.," concerns the
ownership of Lot No. 3635-B.
1
In that case, petitioners seek a declaration of the nullity of TCT No. 13250 of Rosita T.
Tigol and the partition of the lot in question among them and private respondent Rosita T. Tigol as heirs of Filomeno
and Rita Taghoy. The case had been filed in 1990 by petitioners, three years before May 27, 1993 when the criminal
case for squatting was filed against them.
On August 25, 1993, the trial court denied the petitioners' motion and proceeded with their arraignment. Petitioners,
therefore, had to enter their plea (not guilty) to the charge.
On September 2, 1993, petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration but their motion was denied by the court in its
order dated September 21, 1993. Hence, this petition.
ISSUE: The only issue in this case is whether the question of ownership of Lot No. 3635-B, which was pending, in
Civil Case No. 2247-L, is a prejudicial question justifying suspension of the proceedings in the criminal case against
petitioners.
HELD: We hold that it is.
A prejudicial question is a question which is based on a fact distinct and separate from the crime but so intimately
connected with it that its resolution is determinative of the guilt or innocence of the accused. To justify suspension of
the criminal action, it must appear not only that the civil case involves facts intimately related to those upon which the
criminal prosecution is based but also that the decision of the issue or issues raised in the civil case would be
decisive of the guilt or innocence of the accused.
2
Rule 111, §5 provides:
Sec. 6. Elements of prejudicial question. — The two (2) essential elements of a prejudicial
questions 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.
In the criminal case, the question is whether petitioners occupied a piece of land not belonging to them but to private
respondent and against the latter's will. As already noted, the information alleges that "without the knowledge and
consent of the owner, ROSITA TIGOL" petitioners occupied or took possession of a portion of "her property" by
building their houses thereon and "deprived [her] of the use of portion of her land to her damage and prejudice.
Now the ownership of the land in question, known as Lot 3635-B of the Opon cadastre covered by TCT No. 13250, is
the issue in Civil Case 2247-L now pending in Branch 27 of the RTC at Lapulapu City. The resolution, therefore, of
this question would necessarily be determinative of petitioners criminal liability for squatting.
In fact it appears that on February 23, 1994, the court trying the civil case rendered a decision nullifying TCT No.
13250 of private respondent and her husband and declared the lot in question to be owned in common by the
spouses and the petitioners as inheritance from their parents Filomeno and Rita Taghoy. While private respondents
claim that the decision in that case is not yet final because they have filed a motion for new trial, the point is that
whatever may be the ultimate resolution of the question of ownership, such resolution will be determinative of the guilt
or innocence of petitioners in the criminal case. Surely, if petitioners are co-owners of the lot in question, they cannot
be found guilty of squatting because they are as much entitled to the use and occupation of the land as are the
private respondent Rosita T. Tigol and her family.
3

Private respondents argues that even the owner of a piece of a land can be ejected from his property since the only
issue in such a case is the right to its physical possession. Consequently, they contend, he can also be prosecuted
under the Anti-Squatting Law.
The contention misses the case is the essential point that the owner of a piece of land can be ejected only if for some
reason, e.g., he has let his property to the plaintiff, he has given up its temporary possession. But in the case at bar,
no such agreement is asserted by private respondent. Rather private respondent claims the right to possession
based on her claim of ownership. Ownership is thus the pivotal question. Since this is the question in the civil case,
the proceedings in the criminal case must in the meantime be suspended.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED and respondent judge is ordered to SUSPEND the proceedings in Criminal
Case No. 012489 until the question of ownership in Civil Case No. 2247-L has been resolved with finality and
thereafter proceed with the trial of the criminal case if the civil case is decided and terminated adversely against
petitioners. Otherwise he should dismiss the criminal case.
SO ORDERED.

THIRD DIVISION
[G.R. No. 111244. December 15, 1997]
ARTURO ALANO, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, HON. ENRICO A. LANZANAS,
Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, National Capital Judicial Region, Manila, Branch 37, and
ROBERTO CARLOS, respondents.
D E C I S I O N
ROMERO, J .:
Petitioner Arturo Alano has filed this petition for review of the decision
[1]
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP
No. 28150 which affirmed in toto the order of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 37
[2]
denying petitioner‘s
motion for the suspension of proceeding of Criminal Case No. 90-84933, entitled ―People of the Philippines vs. Arturo
Alano‖ as well as his motion for reconsideration.
Criminal Case No. 90-84933 is a prosecution for the crime of estafa. The information
[3]
alleges:
―That on or about June 10, 1986, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused did then and there wilfully,
unlawfully and feloniously defraud Roberto S. Carlos in the following manner, to wit: the said accused, pretending to
be still the owner of a parcel of land with an area of 1,172 square meters, more or less, located at Bicutan, Taguig,
Metro Manila, covered by Tax Declaration No. 120-004-00398, well knowing that he had previously sold the same to
the said Roberto S. Carlos for P30,000.00, sold the aforesaid property for the second time to one Erlinda B. Dandoy
forP87,900.00, thereby depriving the said Roberto S. Carlos of his rightful ownership/possession of the said parcel of
land, to the damage and prejudice of the said Roberto S. Carlos in the aforesaid amount of P30,000.00, Philippine
currency.
Contrary to law.‖
Petitioner moved for the suspension of the criminal case on the ground that there was a prejudicial question
pending resolution in another case being tried in the Regional Trial Court, National Capital Region, Pasig, Branch
68. The case, docketed as Civil Case No. 55103 and entitled ―Roberto Carlos and Trinidad M. Carlos v. Arturo
Alano, et al.,‖ concerns the nullity of the sale and recovery of possession and damages. In the aforementioned Civil
Case, private respondent filed a complaint against the petitioner seeking the annulment of the second sale of said
parcel of land made by the petitioner to a certain Erlinda Dandoy on the premise that the said land was previously
sold to them. In his answer, petitioner contends that he never sold the property to the private respondents and that
his signature appearing in the deed of absolute sale in favor of the latter was a forgery, hence, the alleged sale was
fictitious and inexistent. At this juncture, it is worth mentioning that the civil case was filed on March 1, 1985, five
years before June 19, 1990 when the criminal case for estafa was instituted.
On October 3, 1991, the trial court denied the petitioner‘s motion as well as a subsequent motion for
reconsideration.
Aggrieved, petitioner filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition before the Court of Appeals seeking the
nullification of the assailed order.
On July 26, 1993,
[4]
the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition for lack of merit, the decretal portion of which reads:
―WHEREFORE, finding no merit to the petition, the same is hereby DISMISSED, with cost against petitioner.‖
Hence, this petition.
ISSUE: The only issue in this petition is whether the pendency of Civil Case No. 55103, is a prejudicial question
justifying the suspension of the proceedings in Criminal Case No. 90-84933 filed against the petitioner.
Petitioner alleges that his signature appearing in the first deed of absolute sale in favor of private respondent
was a forgery, such that there was no second sale covering the said parcel of land. Otherwise stated, if the Court in
the said Civil Case rules that the first sale to herein private respondent was null and void, due to the forgery of
petitioner‘s signature in the first deed of sale, it follows that the criminal case for estafa would not prosper.
While at first blush there seems to be merit in petitioner‘s claim, we are compelled to affirm the Court of
Appeals‘ findings.
The doctrine of prejudicial question 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 which must be preemptively resolved before the criminal action
may proceed, because howsoever the issue raised in the civil action is resolved such resolution would be
determinative of the guilt or innocence of the accused in the criminal action.
[5]
In other words, 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.
[6]

On the basis of the foregoing and a perusal of the facts obtaining in the case at bar, the disposition of the issue
raised need not unduly detain us. We have already ruled that a criminal action for estafa (for alleged double sale of
property) is a prejudicial question to a civil action for nullity of the alleged deed of sale and the defense of the alleged
vendor is the forgery of his signature in the deed.
[7]

Notwithstanding the apparent prejudicial question involved, the Court of Appeals still affirmed the Order of the
trial court denying petitioner‘s motion for the suspension of the proceeding on the ground that petitioner, in the
stipulation of facts, had already admitted during the pre-trial order dated October 5, 1990 of the criminal case the
validity of his signature in the first deed of sale between him and the private respondent, as well as his subsequent
acknowledgment of his signature in twenty-three (23) cash vouchers evidencing the payments made by the private
respondent.
[8]
Moreover, it was also noted by the Court of Appeals that petitioner even wrote to the private
respondent offering to refund whatever sum the latter had paid.
[9]

In this regard, the pre-trial provision on criminal procedure found in Rule 118 of the Rules of Court provides:
―Sec. 2. Pre-trial conference; subjects. x x x. The pre-trial conference shall consider the following:
(a) Plea bargaining
(b)Stipulation of facts‖
From the foregoing, there is no question that a stipulation of facts by the parties in a criminal case is recognized
as declarations constituting judicial admissions, hence, binding upon the parties
[10]
and by virtue of which the
prosecution dispensed with the introduction of additional evidence and the defense waived the right to contest or
dispute the veracity of the statement contained in the exhibit.
[11]

Accordingly, the stipulation of facts stated in the pre-trial order amounts to an admission by the petitioner
resulting in the waiver of his right to present evidence on his behalf. While it is true that the right to present evidence
is guaranteed under the Constitution,
[12]
this right may be waived expressly or impliedly.
[13]

Since the suspension of the criminal case due to a prejudicial question is only a procedural matter, the same is
subject to a waiver by virtue of the prior acts of the accused. After all, the doctrine of waiver is made solely for the
benefit and protection of the individual in his private capacity, if it can be dispensed with and relinquished without
infringing on any public right and without detriment to the community at large.
[14]

Accordingly, petitioner‘s admission in the stipulation of facts during the pre-trial of the criminal amounts to a
waiver of his defense of forgery in the civil case. Hence, we have no reason to nullify such waiver, it being not
contrary to law, public order, public policy, morals or good customs, or prejudicial to a third person with a right
recognized by law.
[15]
Furthermore, it must be emphasized that the pre-trial order was signed by the petitioner
himself. As such, the rule that no proof need be offered as to any facts admitted at a pre-trial hearing applies.
[16]

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the appealed decision of the Court of Appeals dated July 26, 1993 is
AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., (Chairman), Melo, Francisco, and Panganiban, JJ., concur.

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 respondent‘s
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 respondent‘s
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 respondent‘s 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.
ISSUE: 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]

HELD: 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 PBI‘s 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.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Vitug, Carpio, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.

x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x


D E C I S I O N


CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

This Petition for Review on Certiorari seeks to reverse the (1) Resolution
[1]
dated 5 March 2001 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 63293 entitled, ―Francisco Magestrado v. Hon. Estrella T. Estrada, in her capacity as the
Presiding Judge of Regional Trial Court, Branch 83 of Quezon City, People of the Philippines and Elena M. Librojo,‖
which dismissed petitioner Francisco Magestrado‘s Petition for Certiorari for being the wrong remedy; and
(2) Resolution
[2]
dated 3 May 2001 of the same Court denying petitioner‘s motion for reconsideration.

Private respondent Elena M. Librojo filed a criminal complaint
[3]
for perjury against petitioner with the Office
of the City Prosecutor of Quezon City, which was docketed as I.S. No. 98-3900.

After the filing of petitioner‘s counter-affidavit and the appended pleadings, the Office of the City Prosecutor
recommended the filing of an information for perjury against petitioner. Thus, Assistant City Prosecutor Josephine
Z. Fernandez filed an information for perjury against petitioner with the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of Quezon
City. Pertinent portions of the information are hereby quoted as follows:

That on or about the 27
th
day of December, 1997, in Quezon City, Philippines, the said
accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously and knowingly make an untruthful
statement under oath upon a material matter before a competent officer authorized to receive and
administer oath and which the law so require, to wit: the said accused subscribe and swore to an
Affidavit of Loss before Notary Public Erlinda B. Espejo of Quezon City, per Doc. No. 168, Page
No. 35, Book No. CLXXIV of her notarial registry, falsely alleging that he lost Owner‘s Duplicate
Certificate of TCT No. N-173163, which document was used in support of a Petition For Issuance
of New Owner‘s Duplicate Copy of Certificate of Title and filed with the Regional Trial Court of
Quezon City, docketed as LRC# Q-10052 (98) on January 28, 1998 and assigned to Branch 99 of
the said court, to which said Francisco M. Mag[e]strado signed and swore on its verification, per
Doc. 413 Page 84 Book No. CLXXV Series of 1998 of Notary Public Erlinda B. Espejo of Quezon
City; the said accused knowing fully well that the allegations in the said affidavit and petition are
false, the truth of the matter being that the property subject of Transfer Certificate of Title No. N-
173163 was mortgaged to complainant Elena M. Librojo as collateral for a loan in the amount
of P 758,134.42 and as a consequence of which said title to the property was surrendered by him
to the said complainant by virtue of said loan, thus, making untruthful and deliberate assertions of
falsehoods, to the damage and prejudice of the said Elena M. Librojo.
[4]


The case was raffled to the MeTC of Quezon City, Branch 43, where it was docketed as Criminal Case No.
90721 entitled, “People of the Philippinesv. Francisco Magestrado.”

On 30 June 1999, petitioner filed a motion
[5]
for suspension of proceedings based on a prejudicial question.
Petitioner alleged that Civil Case No. Q-98-34349, a case for recovery of a sum of money pending before the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 84, and Civil Case No. Q-98- 34308, a case for Cancellation of
Mortgage, Delivery of Title and Damages, pending before the RTC of Quezon City, Branch 77, must be resolved first
before Criminal Case No. 90721 may proceed since the issues in the said civil cases are similar or intimately related
to the issues raised in the criminal action.

On 14 July 1999, MeTC-Branch 43 issued an Order
[6]
denying petitioner‘s motion for suspension of
proceedings, thus:

Acting on the ―Motion for Suspension of Proceedings‖ filed by the [herein petitioner
Magestrado], thru counsel, and the ―Comment and Opposition thereto, the Court after an evaluation
of the same, finds the aforesaid motion without merit, hence, is hereby DENIED, it appearing that
the resolution of the issues raised in the civil actions is not determinative of the guilt or innocence of
the accused.
Hence, the trial of this case shall proceed as previously scheduled on July 19 and August
2, 1993 at 8:30 in the morning.


On 17 August 1999, a motion
[7]
for reconsideration was filed by petitioner but was denied by the MeTC in an
Order
[8]
dated 19 October 1999.

Aggrieved, petitioner filed a Petition for Certiorari
[9]
under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court, with a
prayer for Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction before the RTC of Quezon City, Branch 83, docketed as Civil
Case No. Q-99-39358, on the ground that MeTC Judge Billy J. Apalit committed grave abuse of discretion amounting
to lack or excess of jurisdiction in denying his motion to suspend the proceedings in Criminal Case No. 90721.

On 14 March 2000, RTC-Branch 83 dismissed the petition and denied the prayer for the issuance of a writ of
preliminary injunction, reasoning thus:

Scrutinizing the complaints and answers in the civil cases abovementioned, in relation to
the criminal action for PERJURY, this Court opines and so holds that there is no prejudicial
question involved as to warrant the suspension of the criminal action to await the outcome of the
civil cases. The civil cases are principally for determination whether or not a loan was obtained by
petitioner and whether or not he executed the deed of real estate mortgage involving the property
covered by TCT No. N-173163, whereas the criminal case is for perjury which imputes upon
petitioner the wrongful execution of an affidavit of loss to support his petition for issuance of a new
owner‘s duplicate copy of TCT No. 173163. Whether or not he committed perjury is the issue in the
criminal case which may be resolved independently of the civil cases. Note that the affidavit of loss
was executed in support of the petition for issuance of a new owner‘s duplicate copy of TCT No. N-
173163 which petition was raffled to Branch 99 of the RTC. x x x.
[10]



Again, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration
[11]
but this was denied by RTC- Branch 83 in an
Order
[12]
dated 21 December 2000.

Dissatisfied, petitioner filed with the Court of Appeals a Petition for Certiorari
[13]
under Rule 65 of the Revised
Rules of Court, which was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 63293. Petitioner alleged that RTC Judge Estrella T.
Estrada committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in denying the Petition
for Certiorari in Civil Case No. Q-99-39358, and in effect sustaining the denial by MeTC-Branch 43 of petitioner‘s
motion to suspend the proceedings in Criminal Case No. 90721, as well as his subsequent motion for reconsideration
thereof.

On 5 March 2001, the Court of Appeals dismissed
[14]
the Petition in CA-G.R. SP No. 63293 on the ground
that petitioner‘s remedy should have been an appeal from the dismissal by RTC-Branch 83 of his Petition
for Certiorari in Q-99-39358. The Court of Appeals ruled that:

Is this instant Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 the correct and appropriate remedy?
We rule negatively.
The resolution or dismissal in special civil actions, as in the instant petition, may be
appealed x x x under Section 10, Rule 44 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure and not by petition
for certiorari under Rule 65 of the same rules. Thus, the said rule provides:
Section 10. Time for filing memoranda on special cases. In certiorari, prohibition,
mandamus, quo warranto and habeas corpus cases, the parties shall file in lieu of briefs, their
respective memoranda within a non-extendible period of thirty (30) days from receipt of the notice
issued by the clerk that all the evidence, oral and documentary, is already attached to the record x
x x.
WHEREFORE, in consideration of the foregoing premises, the instant Petition for
Certiorari under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure is hereby DISMISSED.
[15]



The Court of Appeals denied petitioner‘s Motion for Reconsideration
[16]
in a Resolution
[17]
dated 3 May 2001.

Hence, petitioner comes before us via a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of
Court raising the following issues:

1. Whether or not the Orders of Judge Estrella T. Estrada dated March 14, 2000 denying
petitioner‘s Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, and her subsequent
Order dated December 21, 2000, denying the Motion for Reconsideration thereafter filed can
only be reviewed by the Court of Appeals thru appeal under Section 10, Rule 44 of the 1997
Rules of Civil Procedure.

2. Whether or not Judge Estrella T. Estrada of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 83, Quezon
City, had committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of her jurisdiction
in denying the Petition for Certiorari and petitioner‘s subsequent motion for reconsideration on
the ground of a prejudicial question pursuant to the Rules on Criminal Procedure and the
prevailing jurisprudence.


After consideration of the procedural and substantive issues raised by petitioner, we find the instant petition
to be without merit.

The procedural issue herein basically hinges on the proper remedy which petitioner should have availed
himself of before the Court of Appeals: an ordinary appeal or a petition for certiorari. Petitioner claims that he
correctly questioned RTC-Branch 83‘s Order of dismissal of his Petition for Certiorari in Civil Case No. Q-99-39358
through a Petition for Certiorari before the Court of Appeals. Private respondent and public respondent People of
the Philippinesinsist that an ordinary appeal was the proper remedy.

We agree with respondents. We hold that the appellate court did not err in dismissing petitioner‘s Petition
for Certiorari, pursuant to Rule 41, Section 2 of the Revised Rules of Court (and not under Rule 44, Section 10,
invoked by the Court of Appeals in its Resolution dated 5 March 2001).

The correct procedural recourse for petitioner was appeal, not only because RTC-Branch 83 did not
commit any grave abuse of discretion in dismissing petitioner‘s Petition for Certiorari in Civil Case No. Q-99-
39358 but also because RTC-Branch 83‘s Order of dismissal was a final order from which petitioners should have
appealed in accordance with Section 2, Rule 41 of the Revised Rules of Court.

An order or a judgment is deemed final when it finally disposes of a pending action, so that nothing more
can be done with it in the trial court. In other words, the order or judgment ends the litigation in the lower court. Au
contraire, an interlocutory order does not dispose of the case completely, but leaves something to be done as regards
the merits of the latter.
[18]
RTC-Branch 83‘s Order dated 14 March 2001 dismissing petitioner‘s Petition
for Certiorari in Civil Case No. Q-99-39358 finally disposes of the said case and RTC-Branch 83 can do nothing more
with the case.

Under Rule 41 of the Rules of Court, an appeal may be taken from a judgment or final order that completely
disposes of the case, or of a particular matter therein when declared by the Revised Rules of Court to be
appealable. The manner of appealing an RTC judgment or final order is also provided in Rule 41 as follows:

Section 2. Modes of appeal. —

(a) Ordinary appeal. — The appeal to the Court of Appeals in cases decided by the
Regional Trial Court in the exercise of its original jurisdiction shall be taken by filing a notice of
appeal with the court which rendered the judgment or final order appealed from and serving a copy
thereof upon the adverse party. No record on appeal shall be required except in special
proceedings and other cases of multiple or separate appeals where the law or these Rules so
require. In such cases, the record on appeal shall be filed and served in like manner.


Certiorari generally lies only when there is no appeal nor any other plain, speedy or adequate remedy
available to petitioners. Here, appeal was available. It was adequate to deal with any question whether of fact or of
law, whether of error of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion or error of judgment which the trial court might have
committed. But petitioners instead filed a special civil action for certiorari.

We have time and again reminded members of the bench and bar that a special civil action
for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court lies only when ―there is no appeal nor plain, speedy and
adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.‖
[19]
Certiorari cannot be allowed when a party to a case fails to
appeal a judgment despite the availability of that remedy,
[20]
certiorari not being a substitute for lost appeal.
[21]


As certiorari is not a substitute for lost appeal, we have repeatedly emphasized that the perfection of
appeals in the manner and within the period permitted by law is not only mandatory but jurisdictional, and that the
failure to perfect an appeal renders the decision of the trial court final and executory. This rule is founded upon the
principle that the right to appeal is not part of due process of law but is a mere statutory privilege to be exercised only
in the manner and in accordance with the provisions of the law. Neither can petitioner invoke the doctrine that rules
of technicality must yield to the broader interest of substantial justice. While every litigant must be given the amplest
opportunity for the proper and just determination of his cause, free from constraints of technicalities, the failure to
perfect an appeal within the reglementary period is not a mere technicality. It raises a jurisdictional problem as it
deprives the appellate court of jurisdiction over the appeal.
[22]


The remedies of appeal and certiorari are mutually exclusive and not alternative or successive.
[23]
A party
cannot substitute the special civil action ofcertiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court for the remedy of
appeal. The existence and availability of the right of appeal are antithetical to the availability of the special civil action
for certiorari.
[24]
As this Court held in Fajardo v. Bautista
[25]
:

Generally, an order of dismissal, whether right or wrong, is a final order, and hence a proper
subject of appeal, not certiorari. The remedies of appeal and certiorari are mutually exclusive and
not alternative or successive. Accordingly, although the special civil action of certiorari is not
proper when an ordinary appeal is available, it may be granted where it is shown that the appeal
would be inadequate, slow, insufficient, and will not promptly relieve a party from the injurious
effects of the order complained of, or where appeal is inadequate and ineffectual. Nevertheless,
certiorari cannot be a substitute for the lost or lapsed remedy of appeal, where such loss is
occasioned by the petitioner‘s own neglect or error in the choice of remedies.


On 21 December 2000, petitioner received a copy of the Order of the RTC-Branch 83 denying his motion for
reconsideration of the dismissal of his Petition for Certiorari in Civil Case No. Q-99-39358; hence, he had until 18
January 2001 within which to file an appeal with the Court of Appeals. The Petition for Certiorari filed by petitioner
on 19 February 2001 with the Court of Appeals cannot be a substitute for the lost remedy of appeal.

As petitioner
failed to file a timely appeal, RTC-Branch 83‘s dismissal of his Petition for Certiorari had long become final and
executory.

For this procedural lapse, the Court of Appeals correctly denied outright the Petition for Certiorari filed by
petitioner before it.

Moreover, there are even more cogent reasons for denying the instant Petition on the merits.

In the Petition at bar, petitioner raises several substantive issues. Petitioner harps on the need for the
suspension of the proceedings in Criminal Case No. 90721 for perjury pending before MeTC-Branch 43 based on a
prejudicial question still to be resolved in Civil Case No. Q-98-34308 (for cancellation of mortgage) and Civil Case No.
Q-98-34349 (for collection of a sum of money) which are pending before other trial courts.

For clarity, we shall first discuss the allegations of petitioner in his complaint in Civil Case No. Q-98-34308
(for cancellation of mortgage) and that of private respondent in her complaint in Civil Case No. Q-98-34349 (for
collection of a sum of money).

Civil Case No. Q-98-34308 is a complaint for Cancellation of Mortgage, Delivery of Title and Damages filed
on 8 May 1988 by petitioner against private respondent with RTC-Branch 77. Petitioner alleges that he purchased a
parcel of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. N-173163 thru private respondent, a real estate broker. In
the process of negotiation, petitioner was pressured to sign a Deed of Sale prepared by private respondent. Upon
signing the Deed of Sale, he noticed that the Deed was already signed by a certain Cristina Gonzales as attorney-in-
fact of vendor Spouses Guillermo and Amparo Galvez. Petitioner demanded from private respondent a special
power of attorney and authority to sell, but the latter failed to present one. Petitioner averred that private respondent
refused to deliver the certificate of title of the land despite execution and signing of the Deed of Sale and payment of
the consideration. Petitioner was thus compelled to engage the services of one Modesto Gazmin, Jr. who agreed,
for P100,000.00 to facilitate the filing of cases against private respondent; to deliver to petitioner the certificate of title
of the land; and/or to cancel the certificate of title in possession of private respondent. However, Mr. Gazmin, Jr., did
nothing upon receipt of the amount of P100,000.00 from petitioner. In fact, petitioner was even charged with perjury
before the Office of the City Prosecutor, all because of Mr. Gazmin, Jr.‘s wrongdoing. Petitioner further alleged that
he discovered the existence of a spurious Real Estate Mortgage which he allegedly signed in favor of private
respondent. Petitioner categorically denied signing the mortgage document and it was private respondent who
falsified the same in order to justify her unlawful withholding of TCT No. N-173163 from petitioner. Thus, petitioner
prayed for:

1. The cancellation of Real Estate Mortgage dated August 2, 1997 as null and void;

2. As well as to order [herein private respondent] to DELIVER the Owner‘s Duplicate
Copy of Transfer Certificate of Title No. N-173163 to [herein petitioner];

3. Condemning [private respondent] to pay [petitioner] the sums of

a) P100,000.00 as MORAL DAMAGES;

b) P50,000.00 as EXEMPLARY DAMAGES;

c) P50,000.00 as Attorney‘s fees and

d) Cost of suit.

4. A general relief is likewise prayed for (sic) just and equitable under the premises.


Civil Case No. Q-98-34349,
[26]
on the other hand, is a complaint for a sum of money with
a motion for issuance of a writ of attachment filed by private respondent against petitioner on 14 May 1988 before
RTC-Branch 84. Private respondent alleges that petitioner obtained a loan from her in the amount of P758,134.42
with a promise to pay on or before 30 August 1997. As security for payment of the loan, petitioner executed a Deed
of Real Estate Mortgage covering a parcel of land registered under TCT No. N-173163. Petitioner pleaded for
additional time to pay the said obligation, to which respondent agreed. But private respondent discovered sometime
in February 1998 that petitioner executed an affidavit of loss alleging that he lost the owner‘s duplicate copy of TCT
No. N-173163, and succeeded in annotating said affidavit on the original copy of TCT No. N-173163 on file with the
Registry of Deeds of Quezon City. Private respondent further alleges that she also discovered that petitioner filed a
petition for issuance of a new owner‘s duplicate copy of TCT No. N-173163 with the RTC of Quezon City, Branch 98,
docketed as LRC Case No. Q-10052. Private respondent demanded that petitioner pay his obligation, but the latter
refused to do so. Resultantly, private respondent prayed for the following:

A. That upon filing of this Complaint as well as the Affidavit of attachment and a
preliminary hearing thereon, as well as bond filed, a writ of preliminary attachment is (sic)
by the Honorable Court ordering the Sheriff to levy [herein petitioner] property sufficient to
answer [herein private respondent‘s] claim in this action;

B. That after due notice and hearing, judgment be rendered in [private respondent‘s]
favor as against [petitioner], ordering the latter to pay the former the sum of P758,134.42
plus interest thereon at 5% per month from September 1997 up to the date of actual
payment; actual damages in the sums of P70,000.00 each under paragraphs 11 and 12 of
the complaint; P200,000.00 as moral damages; P100,000.00 as exemplary damages;
twenty (20%) of the principal claim as attorney‘s fees plus P2,500.00 per appearance
honorarium; and P60,000.00 as litigation expense before this Honorable Court.

[Petitioner] prays for such further relief in law, justice and equity.


ISSUE: As to whether it is proper to suspend Criminal Case No. 90721 for perjury pending final
outcome of Civil Case No. Q-98-34349 and Civil Case No. Q-98-34308, we take into
consideration Sections 6 and 7, Rule 111 of the Revised Rules of Court, which read:

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.


The rationale behind the principle of suspending a criminal case in view of a prejudicial question is to avoid
two conflicting decisions.
[27]


A prejudial 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.
[28]


For a prejudicial question in a civil case to suspend 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.

Thus, 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 case, 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.
[29]


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.
[30]
Neither is there
a prejudicial question if the civil and the criminal action can, according to law, proceed independently of each other.
[31]


However, the court in which an action is pending may, in the exercise of sound discretion, and upon proper
application for a stay of that action, hold the action in abeyance to abide by the outcome of another case pending in
another court, especially where the parties and the issues are the same, for there is power inherent in every court to
control the disposition of cases on its dockets with economy of time and effort for itself, for counsel, and for
litigants. Where the rights of parties to the second action cannot be properly determined until the questions raised in
the first action are settled, the second action should be stayed.
[32]


The power to stay proceedings is incidental to the power inherent in every court to control the disposition of
the cases on its dockets, considering its time and effort, those of counsel and the litigants. But if proceedings must
be stayed, it must be done in order to avoid multiplicity of suits and prevent vexatious litigations, conflicting
judgments, confusion between litigants and courts. It bears stressing that whether or not the trial court would
suspend the proceedings in the criminal case before it is submitted to its sound discretion.
[33]


Indeed, a judicial order issued pursuant to the court‘s discretionary authority is not subject to reversal on
review unless it constitutes an abuse of discretion. As the United States Supreme Court aptly declared in Landis v.
North American Co., ―the burden of making out the justice and wisdom from the departure from the beaten truck lay
heavily on the petitioner, less an unwilling litigant is compelled to wait upon the outcome of a controversy to which he
is a stranger. It is, thus, stated that only in rare circumstances will a litigant in one case is compelled to stand aside,
while a litigant in another, settling the rule of law that will define the rights of both is, after all, the parties before the
court are entitled to a just, speedy and plain determination of their case undetermined by the pendency of the
proceedings in another case. After all, procedure was created not to hinder and delay but to facilitate and promote
the administration of justice.‖
[34]


As stated, the determination of whether the proceedings may be suspended on the basis of a prejudicial
question rests on whether the facts and issues raised in the pleadings in the civil cases are so related with the issues
raised in the criminal case such that the resolution of the issues in the civil cases would also determine the judgment
in the criminal case.

A perusal of the allegations in the complaints show that Civil Case No. Q-98-34308 pending before RTC-
Branch 77, and Civil Case No. Q-98-34349, pending before RTC-Branch 84, are principally for the determination of
whether a loan was obtained by petitioner from private respondent and whether petitioner executed a real estate
mortgage involving the property covered by TCT No. N-173163. On the other hand, Criminal Case No. 90721 before
MeTC-Branch 43, involves the determination of whether petitioner committed perjury in executing an affidavit of loss
to support his request for issuance of a new owner‘s duplicate copy of TCT No. N-173163.

It is evident that the civil cases and the criminal case can proceed independently of each other. Regardless
of the outcome of the two civil cases, it will not establish the innocence or guilt of the petitioner in the criminal case for
perjury. The purchase by petitioner of the land or his execution of a real estate mortgage will have no bearing
whatsoever on whether petitioner knowingly and fraudulently executed a false affidavit of loss of TCT No. N-173163.

MeTC-Branch 43, therefore, did not err in ruling that the pendency of Civil Case No. Q-98-34308 for
cancellation of mortgage before the RTC-Branch 77; and Civil Case No. Q-98-34349 for collection of a sum of money
before RTC-Branch 84, do not pose a prejudicial question in the determination of whether petitioner is guilty of perjury
in Criminal Case No. 90721. RTC-Branch 83, likewise, did not err in ruling that MeTC-Branch 43 did not commit
grave abuse of discretion in denying petitioner‘s motion for suspension of proceedings in Criminal Case No. 90721.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed Resolutions dated 5 March 2001 and 3 May 2001of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 63293 are hereby AFFIRMED and the instant petition is DISMISSED for lack of
merit. Accordingly, the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 43, is hereby directed to proceed with the
hearing and trial on the merits of Criminal Case No. 90721, and to expedite proceedings therein, without prejudice to
the right of the accused to due process. Costs against petitioner.


SECOND DIVISION


SY TIONG SHIOU, JUANITA TAN G.R. No. 174168
SY, JOLIE ROSS TAN, ROMER
TAN, CHARLIE TAN, and JESSIE Present:
JAMES TAN,
Petitioners, QUISUMBING, J.,
Chairperson,
CARPIO MORALES,
TINGA,
- versus - VELASCO, JR., and
NACHURA, JJ.
*



SY CHIM and FELICIDAD CHAN Promulgated:
SY,
Respondents. March 30, 2009

x----------------------------------------------------------------------------x

SY CHIM and FELICIDAD CHAN SY, G.R. No. 179438
Petitioners,



- versus -



SY TIONG SHIOU and JUANITA TAN,
Respondents.

x----------------------------------------------------------------------------x




D E C I S I O N

TINGA, J.:


These consolidated petitions involving the same parties. although related, dwell on different issues.

G.R. No. 174168.

This is a petition for review
[1]
assailing the decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals dated 31 May
2006 and 8 August 2006, respectively, in CA-G.R. SP No. 91416.
[2]


On 30 May 2003, four criminal complaints were filed by Sy Chim and Felicidad Chan Sy
(Spouses Sy) against Sy Tiong Shiou, Juanita Tan Sy, Jolie Ross Tan, Romer Tan, Charlie Tan and Jessie James
Tan (Sy Tiong Shiou, et al.) before the City Prosecutor‘s Office of Manila. The cases were later consolidated. Two of
the complaints, I.S. Nos. 03E-15285 and 03E-15286,
[3]
were for alleged violation of Section 74 in relation to Section
144 of the Corporation Code. In these complaints, the Spouses Sy averred that they are stockholders and directors
of Sy Siy Ho & Sons, Inc. (the corporation) who asked Sy Tiong Shiou, et al., officers of the corporation, to allow
them to inspect the books and records of the business on three occasions to no avail. In a letter
[4]
dated 21 May
2003, Sy Tiong Shiou, et al. denied the request, citing civil and intra-corporate cases pending in court.
[5]


In the two other complaints, I.S. No. 03E-15287 and 03E-15288,
[6]
Sy Tiong Shiou was charged with
falsification under Article 172, in relation to Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), and perjury under Article
183 of the RPC. According to the Spouses Sy, Sy Tiong Shiou executed under oath the 2003 General Information
Sheet (GIS) wherein he falsely stated that the shareholdings of the Spouses Sy had decreased despite the fact that
they had not executed any conveyance of their shares.
[7]


Sy Tiong Shiou, et al. argued before the prosecutor that the issues involved in the civil case for accounting and
damages pending before the RTC of Manila were intimately related to the two criminal complaints filed by the
Spouses Sy against them, and thus constituted a prejudicial question that should require the suspension of the
criminal complaints. They also argued that the Spouses Sy‘s request for inspection was premature as the latter‘s
concern may be properly addressed once an answer is filed in the civil case. Sy Tiong Shiou, on the other hand,
denied the accusations against him, alleging that before the 2003 GIS was submitted to the Securities and Exchange
Commission (SEC), the same was shown to respondents, who at that time were the President/Chairman of the Board
and Assistant Treasurer of the corporation, and that they did not object to the entries in the GIS. Sy Tiong Shiou also
argued that the issues raised in the pending civil case for accounting presented a prejudicial question that
necessitated the suspension of criminal proceedings.

On 29 December 2003, the investigating prosecutor issued a resolution recommending the suspension of the
criminal complaints for violation of the Corporation Code and the dismissal of the criminal complaints for falsification
and perjury against Sy Tiong Shiou.
[8]
The reviewing prosecutor approved the resolution. The Spouses Sy moved
for the reconsideration of the resolution, but their motion was denied on 14 June 2004.
[9]
The Spouses Sy
thereupon filed a petition for review with the Department of Justice (DOJ), which the latter denied in a resolution
issued on 02 September 2004.
[10]
Their subsequent motion for reconsideration was likewise denied in the resolution
of 20 July 2005.
[11]


The Spouses Sy elevated the DOJ‘s resolutions to the Court of Appeals through a petition for certiorari,
imputing grave abuse of discretion on the part of the DOJ. The appellate court granted the petition
[12]
and directed
the City Prosecutor‘s Office to file the appropriate informations against Sy Tiong Shiou, et al. for violation of Section
74, in relation to Section 144 of the Corporation Code and of Articles 172 and 183 of the RPC. The appellate
court ruled that the civil case for accounting and damages cannot be deemed prejudicial to the maintenance or
prosecution of a criminal action for violation of Section 74 in relation to Section 144 of the Corporation Code since a
finding in the civil case that respondents mishandled or misappropriated the funds would not be determinative of their
guilt or innocence in the criminal complaint. In the same manner, the criminal complaints for falsification and/or
perjury should not have been dismissed on the ground of prejudicial question because the accounting case is
unrelated and not necessarily determinative of the success or failure of the falsification or perjury
charges. Furthermore, the Court of Appeals held that there was probable cause that Sy Tiong Shiou had committed
falsification and that the City of Manila where the 2003 GIS was executed is the proper venue for the institution of the
perjury charges. Sy Tiong Shiou, et al. sought reconsideration of the Court of Appeals decision but their motion was
denied.
[13]


On 2 April 2008, the Court ordered the consolidation of G.R. No. 179438 with G.R. No. 174168.
[14]


Sy Tiong Shiou, et al. argue that findings of the DOJ in affirming, modifying or reversing the recommendations
of the public prosecutor cannot be the subject of certiorari or review of the Court of Appeals because the DOJ is not a
quasi-judicial body within the purview of Section 1, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. Petitioners rely on the separate
opinion of former Chief Justice Andres R. Narvasa in Roberts, Jr. v. Court of Appeals,
[15]
wherein he wrote that this
Court should not be called upon to determine the existence of probable cause, as there is no provision of law
authorizing an aggrieved party to petition for such a determination.
[16]
In any event, they argue, assuming without
admitting that the findings of the DOJ may be subject to judicial review under Section 1, Rule 65 of the Rules of
Court, the DOJ has not committed any grave abuse of discretion in affirming the findings of the City Prosecutor of
Manila. They claim that the Spouses Sy‘s request for inspection was not made in good faith and that their motives
were tainted with the intention to harass and to intimidate Sy Tiong Shiou, et al. from pursuing the criminal and civil
cases pending before the prosecutor‘s office and the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 46. Thus, to
accede to the Spouses Sy‘s request would pose serious threats to the existence of the corporation.
[17]
Sy Tiong
Shiou, et al. aver that the RTC had already denied the motion for production and inspection and instead ordered
petitioners to make the corporate records available to the appointed independent auditor. Hence, the DOJ did not
commit any grave abuse of discretion in affirming the recommendation of the City Prosecutor of Manila.
[18]
They
further argue that adherence to the Court of Appeals‘ ruling that the accounting case is unrelated to, and not
necessarily determinative of the success of, the criminal complaint for falsification and/or perjury would unnecessarily
indict petitioner Sy Tiong Shiou for the said offenses he may not have committed but only because of an outcome
unfavorable to him in the civil action.
[19]


Indeed, a preliminary proceeding is not a quasi-judicial function and that the DOJ is not a quasi-judicial agency
exercising a quasi-judicial function when it reviews the findings of a public prosecutor regarding the presence of
probable cause.
[20]
Moreover, it is settled that the preliminary investigation proper,i.e., the determination of whether
there is reasonable ground to believe that the accused is guilty of the offense charged and should be subjected to the
expense, rigors and embarrassment of trial, is the function of the prosecution.
[21]
This Court has adopted a policy of
non-interference in the conduct of preliminary investigations and leaves to the investigating prosecutor sufficient
latitude of discretion in the determination of what constitutes sufficient evidence as will establish probable cause for
the filing of information against the supposed offender.
[22]






As in every rule, however, there are settled exceptions. Hence, the principle of non-interference does not
apply when there is grave abuse of discretion which would authorize the aggrieved person to file a petition for
certiorari and prohibition under Rule 65, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.
[23]


As correctly found by the Court of Appeals, the DOJ gravely abused its discretion when it suspended the
hearing of the charges for violation of the Corporation Code on the ground of prejudicial question and when it
dismissed the criminal complaints.

A prejudicial question 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 since 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 reason 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.
[24]





The civil action and the criminal cases do not involve any prejudicial question.

The civil action for accounting and damages, Civil Case No. 03-106456 pending before the RTC Manila,
Branch 46, seeks the issuance of an order compelling the Spouses Sy to render a full, complete and true accounting
of all the amounts, proceeds and fund paid to, received and earned by the corporation since 1993 and to restitute it
such amounts, proceeds and funds which the Spouses Sy have misappropriated. The criminal cases, on the other
hand, charge that the Spouses Sy were illegally prevented from getting inside company premises and from inspecting
company records, and that Sy Tiong Shiou falsified the entries in the GIS, specifically the Spouses Sy‘s shares in
the corporation. Surely, the civil case presents no prejudicial question to the criminal cases since a finding that the
Spouses Sy mishandled the funds will have no effect on the determination of guilt in the complaint for violation of
Section 74 in relation to Section 144 of the Corporation Code; the civil case concerns the validity of Sy Tiong Shiou‘s
refusal to allow inspection of the records, while in the falsification and perjury cases, what is material is the veracity
of the entries made by Sy Tiong Shiou in the sworn GIS.

Anent the issue of probable cause, the Court also finds that there is enough probable cause to warrant the
institution of the criminal cases.



The term probable cause does not mean ‗actual and positive cause‘ nor does it import absolute certainty. It
is merely based on opinion and reasonable belief. Thus a finding of probable cause does not require an inquiry into
whether there is sufficient evidence to procure a conviction. It is enough that it is believed that the act or omission
complained of constitutes the offense charged. Precisely, there is a trial for the reception of evidence of the
prosecution in support of the charge.
[25]


In order that probable cause to file a criminal case may be arrived at, or in order to engender the well-
founded belief that a crime has been committed, the elements of the crime charged should be present. This is based
on the principle that every crime is defined by its elements, without which there should be–at the most–no criminal
offense.
[26]


Section 74 of the Corporation Code reads in part:


x x x

The records of all business transactions of the corporation and the minutes of any meeting
shall be open to inspection by any director, trustee, stockholder or member of the corporation at
reasonable hours on business days and he may demand, in writing, for a copy of excerpts from
said records or minutes, at his expense.






Any officer or agent of the corporation who shall refuse to allow any director, trustee,
stockholder or member of the corporation to examine and copy excerpts from its records or
minutes, in accordance with the provisions of this Code, shall be liable to such director, trustee,
stockholder or member for damages, and in addition, shall be guilty of an offense which shall be
punishable under Section 144 of this Code: Provided, That if such refusal is made pursuant to a
resolution or order of the Board of Directors or Trustees, the liability under this section for such
action shall be imposed upon the directors or trustees who voted for such refusal: and Provided,
further, That it shall be a defense to any action under this section that the person demanding to
examine and copy excerpts from the corporation's records and minutes has improperly used any
information secured through any prior examination of the records or minutes of such corporation or
of any other corporation, or was not acting in good faith or for a legitimate purpose in making his
demand.

Meanwhile, Section 144 of the same Code provides:

Sec. 144. Violations of the Code.—Violations of any of the provisions of this Code or its
amendments not otherwise specifically penalized therein shall be punished by a fine of not less
than one thousand (P1,000.00) pesos but not more than ten thousand (P10,000.00) pesos or by
imprisonment for not less than thirty (30) days but not more than five (5) years, or both, in the
discretion of the court. If the violation is committed by a corporation, the same may, after notice and
hearing, be dissolved in appropriate proceedings before the Securities and Exchange Commission:
Provided, That such dissolution shall not preclude the institution of appropriate action against the
director, trustee or officer of the corporation responsible for said violation: Provided, further, That
nothing in this section shall be construed to repeal the other causes for dissolution of a corporation
provided in this Code.

In the recent case of Ang-Abaya, et al. v. Ang, et al.,
[27]
the Court had the occasion to enumerate the requisites
before the penal provision under Section 144 of the Corporation Code may be applied in a case of violation of a
stockholder or member‘s right to inspect the corporate books/records as provided for under Section 74 of the
Corporation Code. The elements of the offense, as laid down in the case, are:

First. A director, trustee, stockholder or member has made a prior demand in writing for a
copy of excerpts from the corporation‘s records or minutes;

Second. Any officer or agent of the concerned corporation shall refuse to allow the said
director, trustee, stockholder or member of the corporation to examine and copy said excerpts;

Third. If such refusal is made pursuant to a resolution or order of the board of directors or
trustees, the liability under this section for such action shall be imposed upon the directors or
trustees who voted for such refusal; and,

Fourth. Where the officer or agent of the corporation sets up the defense that the person
demanding to examine and copy excerpts from the corporation‘s records and minutes has
improperly used any information secured through any prior examination of the records or minutes
of such corporation or of any other corporation, or was not acting in good faith or for a legitimate
purpose in making his demand, the contrary must be shown or proved.
[28]



Thus, in a criminal complaint for violation of Section 74 of the Corporation Code, the defense of improper
use or motive is in the nature of a justifying circumstance that would exonerate those who raise and are able to prove
the same. Accordingly, where the corporation denies inspection on the ground of improper motive or purpose, the
burden of proof is taken from the shareholder and placed on the corporation.
[29]
However, where no such improper
motive or purpose is alleged, and even though so alleged, it is not proved by the corporation, then there is no valid
reason to deny the requested inspection.

In the instant case, however, the Court finds that the denial of inspection was predicated on the pending civil
case against the Spouses Sy. This is evident from the 21 May 2003 letter of Sy Tiong Shiou, et al.‘s
counsel
[30]
to the Spouses Sy,
[31]
which reads:

Gentlemen:

We write in behalf of our clients, SY SIY HO, INC. ( Guan Yiac Hardware); SY TIONG
SHIOU, JUANITA TAN SY; JOLIE ROSS TAN; CHARLIE TAN; ROMER TAN; and JESSE JAMES
TAN, relative to your letter dated 16 May 2003. Please be informed that a case for Accounting and
Damages had already been filed against your clients, Sy Chim and Felicidad Chan Sy before the
Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 46, denominated as Civil Case No. 03-106456.

We fully understand your desire for our clients to respond to your demands, however, under
the prevailing circumstance this would not be advisable. The concerns that you raised in your letter
can later on be addressed after your clients shall have filed their responsive pleading in the
abovesaid case.

We trust that this response will at the moment be enough.
[32]



Even in their Joint Counter-Affidavit dated 23 September 2003,
[33]
Sy Tiong Shiou, et al. did not make
any allegation that ―the person demanding to examine and copy excerpts from the corporation‘s records and minutes
has improperly used any information secured through any prior examination of the records or minutes of such
corporation or of any other corporation, or was not acting in good faith or for a legitimate purpose in making his
demand.‖ Instead, they merely reiterated the pendency of the civil case. There being no allegation of improper
motive, and it being undisputed that Sy Tiong Shiou, et al. denied Sy Chim and Felicidad Chan Sy‘s request for
inspection, the Court rules and so holds that the DOJ erred in dismissing the criminal charge for violation of Section
74 in relation to Section 144 of the Corporation Code.

Now on the existence of probable cause for the falsification and/or perjury charges.

The Spouses Sy charge Sy Tiong Shiou with the offense of falsification of public documents under Article
171, paragraph 4; and/or perjury under Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC). The elements of falsification of
public documents through an untruthful narration of facts are: (a) the offender makes in a document untruthful
statements in a narration of facts; (b) the offender has a legal obligation to disclose the truth of the facts
narrated;
[34]
(c) the facts narrated by the offender are absolutely false; and (d) the perversion of truth in the narration
of facts was made with the wrongful intent to injure a third person.
[35]
On the other hand, the elements of perjury
are: (a) that the accused made a statement under oath or executed an affidavit upon a material matter; (b) that the
statement or affidavit was made before a competent officer, authorized to receive and administer oath; (c) that in that
statement or affidavit, the accused made a willful and deliberate assertion of a falsehood; and, (d) that the sworn
statement or affidavit containing the falsity is required by law or made for a legal purpose.

A General Information Sheet (GIS) is required to be filed within thirty (30) days following the date of the
annual or a special meeting, and must be certified and sworn to by the corporate secretary, or by the president, or
any duly authorized officer of the corporation.
[36]
From the records, the 2003 GIS submitted to the SEC on 8 April
2003 was executed under oath by Sy Tiong Shiou in Manila, in his capacity as Vice President and General
Manager.
[37]
By executing the document under oath, he, in effect, attested to the veracity
[38]
of its contents. The
Spouses Sy claim that the entries in the GIS pertaining to them do not reflect the true number of shares that they
own in the company. They attached to their complaint the 2002 GIS of the company, also executed by Sy Tiong
Shiou, and compared the entries therein vis-a-vis the ones in the 2003 GIS. The Spouses Sy noted the marked
decrease in their shareholdings, averring that at no time after the execution of the 2002 GIS, up to the time of the
filing of their criminal complaints did they execute or authorize the execution of any document or deed transferring,
conveying or disposing their shares or any portion thereof; and thus there is absolutely no basis for the figures
reflected in the 2003 GIS.
[39]
The Spouses Sy claim that the false statements were made by Sy Tiong Shiou with
the wrongful intent of injuring them. All the elements of both offenses are sufficiently averred in the complaint-
affidavits.

The Court agrees with the Court of Appeals‘ holding, citing the case of Fabia v. Court of Appeals, that the
doctrine of primary jurisdiction no longer precludes the simultaneous filing of the criminal case with the corporate/civil
case.
[40]
Moreover, the Court finds that the City of Manila is the proper venue for the perjury charges, the GIS
having been subscribed and sworn to in the said place. Under Section 10(a), Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Court,
the criminal action shall be instituted and tried in the court of the municipality or territory where the offense was
committed or where any of its essential ingredients occurred.
[41]
In Villanueva v. Secretary of Justice,
[42]
the Court
held that the felony is consummated when the false statement is made.
[43]
Thus in this case, it was alleged that the
perjury was committed when Sy Tiong Shiou subscribed and sworn to the GIS in the City of Manila, thus, following
Section 10(a), Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Court, the City of Manila is the proper venue for the offense.

G. R. No. 179438.

This petition assails the decision
[44]
and resolution
[45]
of the Court of Appeals dated 26 May 2004 and 29
August 2007, respectively, in CA-G.R. SP No. 81897.

On 3 February 2003, Juanita Tan, corporate treasurer of Sy Siy Ho & Sons, Inc. (the corporation), a family
corporation doing business under the name and style Guan Yiac Hardware, submitted a letter
[46]
to the
corporation‘s Board of Directors (Board) stating that the control, supervision and administration of all corporate
funds were exercised by Sy Chim and Felicidad Chan Sy (Spouses Sy), corporate president and assistant treasurer,
respectively. In the same letter, Juanita Tan disclosed that Felicidad Chan Sy did not make cash deposits to any of
the corporation‘s banks from 1 November 2001 to 31 January 2003, thus the total bank remittances for the past years
were less than reflected in the corporate financial statements, accounting books and records. Finally, Juanita Tan
sought to be free from any responsibility

over all corporate funds. The Board granted Juanita Tan‘s request and authorized the employment of an external
auditor to render a complete
audit of all the corporate accounting books and records.
[47]
Consequently, the Board hired the accounting
firm Banaria, Banaria & Company. In its Report
[48]
dated 5 April 2003, the accounting firm attributed to the
Spouses Sy P67,117,230.30 as unaccounted receipts and disbursements from 1994 to 2002.
[49]


A demand letter
[50]
was subsequently served on the Spouses Sy on 15 April 2003. On the same date, the
children of the Spouses Sy allegedly stole from the corporation cash, postdated checks and other important
documents. After the incident, the Spouses Sy allegedly transferred residence and ceased reporting to the
corporation. Thereupon, the corporation filed a criminal complaint for robbery against the Spouses Sy before the City
Prosecutor‘s Office of Manila.
[51]
A search warrant was subsequently issued by the Regional Trial Court.
[52]


On 26 April 2003, Sy Tiong Shiou, corporate Vice President and General Manager, called a special meeting to
be held on 6 May 2003 to fill up the positions vacated by the Spouses Sy. Sy Tiong Shiou was subsequently elected
as the new president and his wife, Juanita Tan, the new Vice President.
[53]
Despite these developments, Sy Chim
still caused the issuance of a Notice of Stockholders meeting dated 11 June 2003 in his capacity as the alleged
corporate president.
[54]


Meanwhile, on 1 July 2003, the corporation, through Romer S. Tan, filed its Amended Complaint for Accounting
and Damages
[55]
against the Spouses Sy before the RTC Manila, praying for a complete and true accounting of all
the amounts paid to, received and earned by the company since 1993 and for the restitution of the said
amount.
[56]
The complaint also prayed for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and or preliminary injunction to restrain
Sy Chim from calling a stockholders‘ meeting on the ground of lack of authority.

By way of Answer,
[57]
the Spouses Sy averred that Sy Chim was a mere figurehead and Felicidad Chan Sy
merely performed clerical functions, as it was Sy Tiong Shiou and his spouse, Juanita Tan, who have been
authorized by the corporation‘s by-laws to supervise, control and administer corporate funds, and as such were the
ones responsible for the unaccounted funds. They assailed the meetings called by Sy Tiong Shiou on the grounds
that the same were held without notice to them and without their participation, in violation of the by-laws. The
Spouses Sy also pursued their counter-claim for moral and exemplary damages and attorney‘s fees.

On 9 September 2003, the Spouses Sy filed their Motion for Leave to File Third-Party Complaint,
[58]
praying
that their attached Third Party Complaint
[59]
be allowed and admitted against Sy Tiong Shiou and his spouse. In the
said third-party complaint, the Spouses Sy accused Sy Tiong Shiou and Juanita Tan as directly liable for the
corporation‘s claim for misappropriating corporate funds.

On 8 October 2003, the trial court granted the motion for leave to file the third-party complaint, and forthwith
directed the issuance of summons against Sy Tiong Shiou and Juanita Tan.
[60]
On 16 January 2004, their counsel
allegedly discovered that Sy Tiong Shiou and Juanita Tan were not furnished with the copies of several pleadings, as
well as a court order, which resulted in their having been declared in default for failure to file their answer to the third-
party complaint; thus, they opted not to file a motion for reconsideration anymore and instead filed a petition for
certiorari before the Court of Appeals.

In its Decision dated 26 May 2004, the Court of Appeals granted the petition of Sy Tiong Shiou and
Juanita Tan.
[61]
The appellate court declared that a third-party complaint is not allowed under the Interim Rules of
Procedure Governing Intra-Corporate Controversies Under R.A. No. 8799 (Interim Rules), it not being included in the
exclusive enumeration of allowed pleadings under Section 2, Rule 2 thereof. Moreover, even if such a pleading were
allowed, the admission of the third-party complaint against Sy Tiong Shiou and Juanita Tan still would have no basis
from the facts or the law and jurisprudence.
[62]
The Court of Appeals also ruled that the respondent judge
committed a manifest error amounting to lack of jurisdiction in admitting the third-party complaint and in summarily
declaring Sy Tiong Shiou and Juanita Tan in default for failure to file their answer within the purported reglementary
period. The Court of Appeals set aside the trial court‘s 8 October 2003 Order admitting the third-party complaint, as
well as the 19 December 2003 Order, declaring Sy Tiong Shiou and Juanita Tan in default for failure to file their
answer. The trial court was further ordered to dismiss the third-party complaint without prejudice to any action that the
corporation may separately file against Sy Tiong Shiou and Juanita Tan.
[63]


The Spouses Sy filed a motion for reconsideration, but their motion was denied on 29 August 2007.
[64]


Sy Chim and Felicidad Chan Sy argue before this Court that a third-party complaint is not excluded or
prohibited by the Interim Rules, and that the Court of Appeals erred in ruling that their third- party complaint is not
actionable because their action is not in respect of the corporation‘s claims. They add that the disallowance of the
third-party complaint will result in multiplicity of suits.

The third-party complaint should be allowed.

The conflicting provisions of the Interim Rules of Procedure for Inter-Corporate Controversies read:
Rule 1, Sec. 8. Prohibited pleadings.—The following pleadings are prohibited:
(1) Motion to dismiss;

(2) Motion for a bill of particulars;

(3) Motion for new trial, or for reconsideration of judgment or order, or for re-opening of trial;

(4) Motion for extension of time to file pleadings, affidavits or any other paper, except those
filed due to clearly compelling reasons. Such motion must be verified and under oath; and

(5) Motion for postponement and other motions of similar intent, except those filed due to
clearly compelling reasons. Such motion must be verified and under oath.

Rule 2, Sec.2. Pleadings allowed.—The only pleadings allowed to be filed under these Rules are
the complaint, answer, compulsory counterclaims or cross-claims pleaded in the answer, and the
answer to the counterclaims or cross-claims.
[65]



There is a conflict, for while a third-party complaint is not included in the allowed pleadings, neither is it
among the prohibited ones. Nevertheless, this conflict may be resolved by following the well-entrenched rule in
statutory construction, that every part of the statute must be interpreted with reference to the context, i.e., that every
part of the statute must be considered together with the other parts, and kept subservient to the general intent of the
whole enactment.
[66]
Statutes, including rules, should be construed in the light of the object to be achieved and the
evil or mischief to be suppressed and they should be given such construction as will advance the object, suppress the
mischief and secure the benefits intended. A statute should therefore be read with reference to its leading idea, and
its general purpose and intention should be gathered from the whole act, and this predominant purpose will prevail
over the literal import of particular terms or clauses, if plainly apparent, operating as a limitation upon some and as a
reason for expanding the signification of others, so that the interpretation may accord with the spirit of the entire act,
and so that the policy and object of the statute as a whole may be made effectual and operative to the widest
possible extent.
[67]
Otherwise stated, the spirit, rather than the letter of a law determines its construction; hence, a
statute, as in the rules in this case, must be read according to its spirit and intent.
[68]


This spirit and intent can be gleaned from Sec. 3, Rule 1 of the Interim Rules, which reads:

Sec. 3. Construction.—These Rules shall be liberally construed in order to promote their
objective of securing a just, summary, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action or
proceeding.
[69]



Now, a third-party complaint is a claim that a defending party may, with leave of court, file against a person
not a party to the action, called the third-party defendant, for contribution, indemnity, subrogation or any other relief,
in respect of his opponent‘s claim. It is actually a complaint independent of, and separate and distinct from the
plaintiff‘s complaint. In fact, were it not for Rule 6, Section 11 of the Rules of Court, such third-party complaint would
have to be filed independently and separately from the original complaint by the defendant against the third-party
defendant. Jurisprudence is consistent in declaring that the purpose of a third-party complaint is to avoid circuitry of
action and unnecessary proliferation of law suits and of disposing expeditiously in one litigation all the matters arising
from one particular set of facts.
[70]


It thus appears that the summary nature of the proceedings governed by the Interim Rules, and the
allowance of the filing of third-party complaints is premised on one objective—the expeditious disposition of cases.
Moreover, following the rule of liberal interpretation found in the Interim Rules, and taking into
consideration the suppletory application of the Rules of Court under

Rule 1, Sec. 2
[71]
of the Interim Rules, the Court finds that a third-party complaint is not, and should not be prohibited
in controversies governed by the Interim Rules. The logic and justness of this conclusion are rendered beyond
question when it is considered that Sy Tiong Shiou and Juanita Tan are not complete strangers to the litigation as in
fact they are the moving spirit behind the filing of the principal complaint for accounting and damages against the
Spouses Sy.

The Court also rules that the third-party complaint of the Spouses Sy should be admitted.

A prerequisite to the exercise of such right is that some substantive basis for a third-party claim be found to
exist, whether the basis be one of indemnity, subrogation, contribution or other substantive right. The bringing of a
third-party defendant is proper if he would be liable to the plaintiff or to the defendant or both for all or part of the
plaintiff‘s claim against the original defendant, although the third-party defendant‘s liability arises out of another
transaction. The defendant may implead another as third-party defendant: (a) on an allegation of liability of the latter
to the defendant for contribution, indemnity, subrogation or any other relief; (b) on the ground of direct

liability of the third-party defendant to the plaintiff; or (c) the liability of the third-party defendant to both the plaintiff
and the defendant.
[72]


In determining the sufficiency of the third-party complaint, the allegations in the original complaint and the
third-party complaint must be examined. A third-party complaint must allege facts which prima facie show that the
defendant is entitled to contribution, indemnity, subrogation or other relief from the third-party defendant.
[73]


The complaint alleges that the Spouses Sy, as officers of the corporation, have acted illegally in raiding its
corporate funds, hence they are duty bound to render a full, complete and true accounting of all the amounts,
proceeds and funds paid to, received and earned by the corporation since 1993 and to restitute to the corporation all
such amounts, proceeds, and funds which they took and misappropriated for their own use and benefit, to the
damage and prejudice of the plaintiff and its stockholders.
[74]
On the other hand, in the third-party complaint, the
Spouses Sy claim that it is Sy Tiong Shiou and Juanita Tan who had full and complete control of the day-to day
operations and complete control and custody of the funds of the corporation, and
hence they are the ones liable for any shortfall or unaccounted

difference of the corporation‘s cash account. Thus, Sy Tiong Shiou and Juanita Tan should render a full, complete
and true accounting of all the amounts, proceeds, funds paid to, received and earned by the corporation since 1993,
including the amount attributed to the Spouses Sy in the complaint for accounting and damages. In their prayer, the
Spouses Sy moved that Sy Tiong Shiou and Juanita Tan be declared as directly and solely liable in respect of the
corporation‘s claim for accounting and damages, and that in the event that they, the Spouses Sy, are adjudged liable
to the corporation, Sy Tiong Shiou and Juanita Tan be ordered to pay all amounts necessary to discharge their
liability to the corporation by way of indemnity or reimbursement.


The allegations in the third-party complaint impute direct liability on the part of Sy Tiong Shiou and Juanita
Tan to the corporation for the very same claims which the corporation interposed against the Spouses Sy. It is clear
therefore that the Spouses Sy‘s third-party complaint is in respect of the plaintiff corporation‘s claims,
[75]
and thus the
allowance of the third-party complaint is warranted.




WHEREFORE, these cases are resolved as follows:

G.R. No. 174168

The petition for review is DENIED. The Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals dated 31 May
2006 and 8 August 2006, respectively, in CA-G.R. SP No. 91416 are AFFIRMED.

Costs against the petitioners.

G.R. No. 179438

The petition is GRANTED. The decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals dated 26 May 2004 and 29
August 2007, respectively, in CA-G.R. SP No. 81897 are SET ASIDE and the Orders of the Regional Trial Court of
Manila Branch 46 dated 8 October 2003 and 19 December 2003 areREINSTATED.

SO ORDERED.