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SECOND DIVISION

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,



Petitioner,



- versus -





MA. THERESA PANGILINAN,

Respondent.
G.R. No. 152662

Present:

CARPIO,
Chairperson,
BRION,
PEREZ,
SERENO, and
REYES, JJ.

Promulgated:
June 13, 2012

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DECISION


PEREZ, J.:

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed this petition for
certiorari1[1] under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, on behalf of the Republic
of the Philippines, praying for the nullification and setting aside of the
Decision2[2] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 66936,
entitled Ma. Theresa Pangilinan vs. People of the Philippines and Private
Complainant Virginia C. Malolos.
The fallo of the assailed Decision reads:

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED.
Accordingly, the assailed Decision of the Regional Trial Court of
Quezon City, Branch 218, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and
Criminal Cases Nos. 89152 and 89153 against petitioner Ma.
Theresa Pangilinan are hereby ordered DISMISSED.3[3]

1[1] Rollo, pp. 33-66.
2[2] Penned by Associate Justice Perlita J. Tria Tirona with Associate Justices Eubulo G.
Verzola and Bernardo P. Abesamis, concurring. CA rollo, pp. 162-170.
3[3] Id. at 169.

Culled from the record are the following undisputed facts:

On 16 September 1997, Virginia C. Malolos (private complainant)
filed an affidavit-complaint for estafa and violation of Batas Pambansa (BP)
Blg. 22 against Ma. Theresa Pangilinan (respondent) with the Office of the
City Prosecutor of Quezon City. The complaint alleges that respondent
issued nine (9) checks with an aggregate amount of Nine Million Six
Hundred Fifty-Eight Thousand Five Hundred Ninety-Two Pesos
(P9,658,592.00) in favor of private complainant which were dishonored
upon presentment for payment.

On 5 December 1997, respondent filed a civil case for accounting,
recovery of commercial documents, enforceability and effectivity of
contract and specific performance against private complainant before the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Valenzuela City. This was docketed as Civil
Case No. 1429-V-97.

Five days thereafter or on 10 December 1997, respondent filed a
Petition to Suspend Proceedings on the Ground of Prejudicial Question
before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Quezon City, citing as basis the
pendency of the civil action she filed with the RTC of Valenzuela City.

On 2 March 1998, Assistant City Prosecutor Ruben Catubay
recommended the suspension of the criminal proceedings pending the
outcome of the civil action respondent filed against private complainant
with the RTC of Valenzuela City. The recommendation was approved by
the City Prosecutor of Quezon City.

Aggrieved, private complainant raised the matter before the
Department of Justice (DOJ).

On 5 January 1999, then Secretary of Justice Serafin P. Cuevas
reversed the resolution of the City Prosecutor of Quezon City and ordered
the filing of informations for violation of BP Blg. 22 against respondent in
connection with her issuance of City Trust Check No. 127219 in the amount
of P4,129,400.00 and RCBC Check No. 423773 in the amount of
P4,475,000.00, both checks totaling the amount of P8,604,000.00. The estafa
and violation of BP Blg. 22 charges involving the seven other checks
included in the affidavit-complaint filed on 16 September 1997 were,
however, dismissed.

Consequently, two counts for violation of BP Blg. 22, both dated 18
November 1999, were filed against respondent Ma.Theresa Pangilinan on 3
February 2000 before the Office of the Clerk of Court, Metropolitan Trial
Court (MeTC), Quezon City. These cases were raffled to MeTC, Branch
31on 7 June 2000.

On 17 June 2000, respondent filed an Omnibus Motion to Quash the
Information and to Defer the Issuance of Warrant of Arrest before MeTC,
Branch 31, Quezon City. She alleged that her criminal liability has been
extinguished by reason of prescription.

The presiding judge of MeTC, Branch 31, Quezon City granted the
motion in an Order dated 5 October 2000.

On 26 October 2000, private complainant filed a notice of appeal. The
criminal cases were raffled to RTC, Branch 218, Quezon City.

In a Decision dated 27 July 2001, the presiding judge of RTC, Branch
218, Quezon City reversed the 5 October 2000 Order of the MeTC. The
pertinent portion of the decision reads:

xxx Inasmuch as the informations in this case were filed
on 03 February 2000 with the Clerk of Court although received
by the Court itself only on 07 June 2000, they are covered by the
Rule as it was worded before the latest amendment. The
criminal action on two counts for violation of BP Blg. 22, had,
therefore, not yet prescribed when the same was filed with the
court a quo considering the appropriate complaint that started
the proceedings having been filed with the Office of the
Prosecutor on 16 September 1997 yet.

WHEREFORE, the assailed Order dated 05 October 2000 is
hereby REVERSED AND SET ASIDE. The Court a quo is hereby
directed to proceed with the hearing of Criminal Cases Nos.
89152 and 89153.4[4]

Dissatisfied with the RTC Decision, respondent filed with the
Supreme Court a petition for review5[5] on certiorari under Rule 45 of the
Rules of Court. This was docketed as G.R. Nos. 149486-87.


4[4] Rollo, p. 133.
5[5] Id. at 134-167.
In a resolution6[6] dated 24 September 2000, this Court referred the
petition to the CA for appropriate action.

On 26 October 2001, the CA gave due course to the petition by
requiring respondent and private complainant to comment on the petition.

In a Decision dated 12 March 2002, the CA reversed the 27 July 2001
Decision of RTC, Branch 218, Quezon City, thereby dismissing Criminal
Case Nos. 89152 and 89153 for the reason that the cases for violation of BP
Blg. 22 had already prescribed.

In reversing the RTC Decision, the appellate court ratiocinated that:

xxx this Court reckons the commencement of the period of
prescription for violations of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 imputed to
[respondent] sometime in the latter part of 1995, as it was within
this period that the [respondent] was notified by the private
[complainant] of the fact of dishonor of the subject checks and, the
five (5) days grace period granted by law had elapsed. The
private respondent then had, pursuant to Section 1 of Act 3326, as
amended, four years therefrom or until the latter part of 1999 to

6[6] Id. at 169.
file her complaint or information against the petitioner before the
proper court.

The informations docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. 89152
and 89152(sic) against the petitioner having been filed with the
Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City only on 03 February
2000, the said cases had therefore, clearly prescribed.

xxx

Pursuant to Section 2 of Act 3326, as amended, prescription
shall be interrupted when proceedings are instituted against the
guilty person.

In the case of Zaldivia vs. Reyes7[7] the Supreme Court
held that the proceedings referred to in Section 2 of Act No. 3326,
as amended, are judicial proceedings, which means the filing of
the complaint or information with the proper court. Otherwise
stated, the running of the prescriptive period shall be stayed on
the date the case is actually filed in court and not on any date
before that, which is in consonance with Section 2 of Act 3326, as
amended.

While the aforesaid case involved a violation of a
municipal ordinance, this Court, considering that Section 2 of Act
3326, as amended, governs the computation of the prescriptive
period of both ordinances and special laws, finds that the ruling
of the Supreme Court in Zaldivia v. Reyes8[8] likewise applies to
special laws, such as Batas Pambansa Blg. 22.9[9]


7[7] G.R. No. 102342, 3 July 1992, 211 SCRA 277.
8[8] Id.
9[9] CA rollo, pp. 167-168.

The OSG sought relief to this Court in the instant petition for review.
According to the OSG, while it admits that Act No. 3326, as amended by
Act No. 3585 and further amended by Act No. 3763 dated 23 November
1930, governs the period of prescription for violations of special laws, it is
the institution of criminal actions, whether filed with the court or with the
Office of the City Prosecutor, that interrupts the period of prescription of
the offense charged.10[10] It submits that the filing of the complaint-
affidavit by private complainant Virginia C. Malolos on 16 September 1997
with the Office of the City Prosecutor of Quezon City effectively
interrupted the running of the prescriptive period of the subject BP Blg. 22
cases.

Petitioner further submits that the CA erred in its decision when it
relied on the doctrine laid down by this Court in the case of Zaldivia v.
Reyes, Jr.11[11] that the filing of the complaint with the Office of the City
Prosecutor is not the judicial proceeding that could have interrupted the
period of prescription. In relying on Zaldivia,12[12] the CA allegedly failed
to consider the subsequent jurisprudence superseding the aforesaid ruling.

10[10] Section 1, Rule 110 of the 1997 Rules of Criminal Procedure
11[11] Supra note 7 at 284-285.
12[12] Supra.

Petitioner contends that in a catena of cases,13[13] the Supreme Court
ruled that the filing of a complaint with the Fiscals Office for preliminary
investigation suspends the running of the prescriptive period. It therefore
concluded that the filing of the informations with the MeTC of Quezon
City on 3 February 2000 was still within the allowable period of four years
within which to file the criminal cases for violation of BP Blg. 22 in
accordance with Act No. 3326, as amended.

In her comment-opposition dated 26 July 2002, respondent avers that
the petition of the OSG should be dismissed outright for its failure to
comply with the mandatory requirements on the submission of a certified
true copy of the decision of the CA and the required proof of service. Such
procedural lapses are allegedly fatal to the cause of the petitioner.

Respondent reiterates the ruling of the CA that the filing of the
complaint before the City Prosecutors Office did not interrupt the running
of the prescriptive period considering that the offense charged is a
violation of a special law.

13[13] Calderon-Bargas v. RTC of Pasig, Metro Manila, Br. 162, G.R. Nos. 103259-61, 1
October 1993, 227 SCRA 56; Francisco v. CA, G.R. No. L-45674, 30 May 1983, 122 SCRA
538; Ingco v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 112584, 23 May 1997, 272 SCRA 563.

Respondent contends that the arguments advanced by petitioner are
anchored on erroneous premises. She claims that the cases relied upon by
petitioner involved felonies punishable under the Revised Penal Code and
are therefore covered by Article 91 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC)14[14]
and Section 1, Rule 110 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure.15[15]
Respondent pointed out that the crime imputed against her is for violation
of BP Blg. 22, which is indisputably a special law and as such, is governed
by Act No. 3326, as amended. She submits that a distinction should thus
be made between offenses covered by municipal ordinances or special
laws, as in this case, and offenses covered by the RPC.

The key issue raised in this petition is whether the filing of the
affidavit-complaint for estafa and violation of BP Blg. 22 against

14[14] Article 91. Computation of prescription of offenses. The period of prescription shall commence
to run from the day on which the crime is discovered by the offended party, the authorities, or their
agents, and shall be interrupted by the filing of the complaint or information, and shall commence to run
again when such proceedings terminate without the accused being convicted or acquitted, or are unjustifiably
stopped for any reason not imputable to him.
The term of prescription shall not run when the offender is absent from the Philippine Archipelago.
15[15] Section 1. Institution of criminal actions.Criminal actions shall be instituted as follows:

xxx

xxx

The institution of the criminal action shall interrupt the running of the period of
prescription of the offense charged unless otherwise provided in special laws.
respondent with the Office of the City Prosecutor of Quezon City on 16
September 1997 interrupted the period of prescription of such offense.

We find merit in this petition.

Initially, we see that the respondents claim that the OSG failed to
attach to the petition a duplicate original or certified true copy of the 12
March 2002 decision of the CA and the required proof of service is refuted
by the record. A perusal of the record reveals that attached to the original
copy of the petition is a certified true copy of the CA decision. It was also
observed that annexed to the petition was the proof of service undertaken
by the Docket Division of the OSG.

With regard to the main issue of the petition, we find that the CA
reversively erred in ruling that the offense committed by respondent had
already prescribed. Indeed, Act No. 3326 entitled An Act to Establish
Prescription for Violations of Special Acts and Municipal Ordinances and
to Provide When Prescription Shall Begin, as amended, is the law
applicable to BP Blg. 22 cases. Appositely, the law reads:

SECTION 1. Violations penalized by special acts shall,
unless otherwise provided in such acts, prescribe in accordance
with the following rules: (a) xxx; (b) after four years for those
punished by imprisonment for more than one month, but less
than two years; (c) xxx.

SECTION 2. Prescription shall begin to run from the day
of the commission of the violation of the law, and if the same be
not known at the time, from the discovery thereof and the
institution of judicial proceedings for its investigation and
punishment.

The prescription shall be interrupted when proceedings
are instituted against the guilty person, and shall begin to run
again if the proceedings are dismissed for reasons not
constituting jeopardy.
Since BP Blg. 22 is a special law that imposes a penalty of
imprisonment of not less than thirty (30) days but not more than one year
or by a fine for its violation, it therefor prescribes in four (4) years in
accordance with the aforecited law. The running of the prescriptive period,
however, should be tolled upon the institution of proceedings against the
guilty person.

In the old but oft-cited case of People v. Olarte,16[16] this Court ruled
that the filing of the complaint in the Municipal Court even if it be merely
for purposes of preliminary examination or investigation, should, and thus,
interrupt the period of prescription of the criminal responsibility, even if

16[16] G.R. No. L-22465, 28 February 1967, 19 SCRA 494, 500.
the court where the complaint or information is filed cannot try the case on
the merits. This ruling was broadened by the Court in the case of
Francisco, et.al. v. Court of Appeals, et. al.17[17] when it held that the filing of
the complaint with the Fiscals Office also suspends the running of the
prescriptive period of a criminal offense.

Respondents contention that a different rule should be applied to
cases involving special laws is bereft of merit. There is no more distinction
between cases under the RPC and those covered by special laws with
respect to the interruption of the period of prescription. The ruling in
Zaldivia v. Reyes, Jr.18[18] is not controlling in special laws. In Llenes v.
Dicdican,19[19] Ingco, et al. v. Sandiganbayan,20[20] Brillante v. CA,21[21] and
Sanrio Company Limited v. Lim,22[22] cases involving special laws, this
Court held that the institution of proceedings for preliminary investigation
against the accused interrupts the period of prescription. In Securities and
Exchange Commission v. Interport Resources Corporation, et. al.,23[23] the

17[17] 207 Phil 471, 477 (1983).
18[18] Supra note 7.
19[19] 328 Phil. 1272 (1996).
20[20] Supra note 13.
21[21] 483 Phil. 568 (2004)
22[22] G.R. No. 168662, 19 February 2008, 546 SCRA 303.
23[23] G.R. No. 135808, 6 October 2008, 567 SCRA 354, 415-416.
Court even ruled that investigations conducted by the Securities and
Exchange Commission for violations of the Revised Securities Act and the
Securities Regulations Code effectively interrupts the prescription period
because it is equivalent to the preliminary investigation conducted by the
DOJ in criminal cases.

In fact, in the case of Panaguiton, Jr. v. Department of Justice,24[24]
which is in all fours with the instant case, this Court categorically ruled
that commencement of the proceedings for the prosecution of the accused
before the Office of the City Prosecutor effectively interrupted the
prescriptive period for the offenses they had been charged under BP Blg.
22. Aggrieved parties, especially those who do not sleep on their rights
and actively pursue their causes, should not be allowed to suffer
unnecessarily further simply because of circumstances beyond their
control, like the accuseds delaying tactics or the delay and inefficiency of
the investigating agencies.

We follow the factual finding of the CA that sometime in the latter
part of 1995 is the reckoning date of the commencement of presumption
for violations of BP Blg. 22, such being the period within which herein

24[24] G.R. No. 167571, 25 November 2008, 571 SCRA 549, 562.
respondent was notified by private complainant of the fact of dishonor of
the checks and the five-day grace period granted by law elapsed.

The affidavit-complaints for the violations were filed against
respondent on 16 September 1997. The cases reached the MeTC of Quezon
City only on 13 February 2000 because in the meanwhile, respondent filed
a civil case for accounting followed by a petition before the City Prosecutor
for suspension of proceedings on the ground of prejudicial question. The
matter was raised before the Secretary of Justice after the City Prosecutor
approved the petition to suspend proceedings. It was only after the
Secretary of Justice so ordered that the informations for the violation of BP
Blg. 22 were filed with the MeTC of Quezon City.

Clearly, it was respondents own motion for the suspension of the
criminal proceedings, which motion she predicated on her civil case for
accounting, that caused the filing in court of the 1997 initiated proceedings
only in 2000.

As laid down in Olarte,25[25] it is unjust to deprive the injured party of
the right to obtain vindication on account of delays that are not under his

25[25] Supra note 16.
control. The only thing the offended must do to initiate the prosecution of
the offender is to file the requisite complaint.

IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the instant petition is
GRANTED. The 12 March 2002 Decision of the Court of Appeals is
hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Department of Justice is
ORDERED to re-file the informations for violation of BP Blg. 22 against the
respondent.

SO ORDERED.


JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ
Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:




ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Senior Associate Justice
Chairperson



ARTURO D. BRION MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO
Associate Justice Associate Justice



BIENVENIDO L. REYES
Associate Justice




CERTIFICATION


I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached
in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of
the Courts Division.




ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Senior Associate Justice
(Per Section 12, R.A. 296,
The Judiciary Act of 1948, as
amended)










Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC

G.R. No. 102342 July 3, 1992
LUZ M. ZALDIVIA, petitioner,
vs.
HON. ANDRES B. REYES, JR., in his capacity as Acting Presiding Judge
of the Regional Trial Court, Fourth Judicial Region, Branch 76, San
Mateo, Rizal, and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

CRUZ, J.:
The Court is asked to determine the applicable law specifying the
prescriptive period for violations of municipal ordinances.
The petitioner is charged with quarrying for commercial purposes without
a mayor's permit in violation of Ordinance No. 2, Series of 1988, of the
Municipality of Rodriguez, in the Province of Rizal.
The offense was allegedly committed on May 11, 1990.
1
The referral-
complaint of the police was received by the Office of the Provincial
Prosecutor of Rizal on May 30, 1990.
2
The corresponding information was
filed with the Municipal Trial Court of Rodriguez on October 2, 1990.
3

The petitioner moved to quash the information on the ground that the
crime had prescribed, but the motion was denied. On appeal to the
Regional Trial Court of Rizal, the denial was sustained by the respondent
judge.
4

In the present petition for review on certiorari, the petitioner first argues
that the charge against her is governed by the following provisions of the
Rule on Summary Procedure:
Sec. 1. Scope This rule shall govern the procedure in the
Metropolitan Trial Courts, the Municipal Trial Courts, and the
Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in the following cases:
xxx xxx xxx
B. Criminal Cases:
1. Violations of traffic laws, rules and regulations;
2. Violations of rental law;
3. Violations of municipal or city ordinances;
4. All other criminal cases where the penalty prescribed by law for the
offenses charged does not exceed six months imprisonment, or a fine of
one thousand pesos (P1,000.00), or both, irrespective of other
imposable penalties, accessory or otherwise, or of the civil liability
arising therefrom. . . . (Emphasis supplied.)
xxx xxx xxx
Sec. 9. How commenced. The prosecution of criminal cases
falling within the scope of this Rule shall be either by complaint
or by information filed directly in court without need of a prior
preliminary examination or preliminary investigation:
Provided, however, That in Metropolitan Manila and chartered
cities, such cases shall be commenced only by information;
Provided, further, That when the offense cannot be prosecuted
de oficio, the corresponding complaint shall be signed and
sworn to before the fiscal by the offended party.
She then invokes Act. No. 3326, as amended, entitled "An Act to Establish
Periods of Prescription for Violations Penalized by Special Acts and
Municipal Ordinances and to Provide When Prescription Shall Begin to
Run," reading as follows:
Sec. 1. Violations penalized by special acts shall, unless
provided in such acts, prescribe in accordance with the
following rules: . . . Violations penalized by municipal ordinances
shall prescribe after two months.
Sec. 2. Prescription shall begin to run from the day of the
commission of the violation of the law, and if the same be not
known at the time, from the discovery thereof and the
institution of judicial proceedings for its investigation and
punishment.
The prescription shall be interrupted when proceedings are instituted
against the guilty person, and shall begin to run again if the
proceedings are dismissed for reasons not constituting jeopardy.
Sec. 3. For the purposes of this Act, special acts shall be acts
defining and penalizing violations of law not included in the
Penal Code. (Emphasis supplied)
Her conclusion is that as the information was filed way beyond the
two-month statutory period from the date of the alleged commission of the
offense, the charge against her should have been dismissed on the ground
of prescription.
For its part, the prosecution contends that the prescriptive period was
suspended upon the filing of the complaint against her with the Office of
the Provincial Prosecutor. Agreeing with the respondent judge, the
Solicitor General also invokes Section 1, Rule 110 of the 1985 Rules on
Criminal Procedure, providing as follows:
Sec. 1. How Instituted For offenses not subject to the rule on
summary procedure in special cases, the institution of criminal
action shall be as follows:
a) For offenses falling under the jurisdiction of the
Regional Trial Court, by filing the complaint with
the appropriate officer for the purpose of
conducting the requisite preliminary investigation
therein;
b) For offenses falling under the jurisdiction of the
Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial
Courts, by filing the complaint directly with the
said courts, or a complaint with the fiscal's office.
However, in Metropolitan Manila and other
chartered cities, the complaint may be filed only
with the office of the fiscal.
In all cases such institution interrupts the period of prescription of the
offense charged. (Emphasis supplied.)
Emphasis is laid on the last paragraph. The respondent maintains that the
filing of the complaint with the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor comes
under the phrase "such institution" and that the phrase "in all cases" applies
to all cases, without distinction, including those falling under the Rule on
Summary Procedure.
The said paragraph, according to the respondent, was an adoption of the
following dictum in Francisco v. Court of Appeals:
5

In view of this diversity of precedents, and in order to provide
guidance for Bench and Bar, this Court has re-examined the
question and, after mature consideration, has arrived at the
conclusion that the true doctrine is, and should be, the one
established by the decisions holding that the filing of the
complaint in the Municipal Court, even if it be merely for
purposes of preliminary examination or investigation, should,
and does, interrupt the period of prescription of the criminal
responsibility, even if the court where the complaint or
information is filed can not try the case on its merits. Several
reasons buttress this conclusion: first, the text of Article 91 of
the Revised Penal Code, in declaring that the period of
prescription "shall be interrupted by the filing of the complaint
or information" without distinguishing whether the complaint
is filed in the court for preliminary examination or investigation
merely, or for action on the merits. Second, even if the court
where the complaint or information is filed may only proceed
to investigate the case, its actuations already represent the
initial step of the proceedings against the offender. Third, it is
unjust to deprive the injured party of the right to obtain
vindication on account of delays that are not under his control.
All that the victim of the offense may do on his part to initiate
the prosecution is to file the requisite complaint.
It is important to note that this decision was promulgated on May 30, 1983,
two months before the promulgation of the Rule on Summary Procedure
on August 1, 1983. On the other hand, Section 1 of Rule 110 is new, having
been incorporated therein with the revision of the Rules on Criminal
Procedure on January 1, 1985, except for the last paragraph, which was
added on October 1, 1988.
That section meaningfully begins with the phrase, "for offenses not subject
to the rule on summary procedure in special cases," which plainly signifies
that the section does not apply to offenses which are subject to summary
procedure. The phrase "in all cases" appearing in the last paragraph
obviously refers to the cases covered by the Section, that is, those offenses
not governed by the Rule on Summary Procedure. This interpretation
conforms to the canon that words in a statute should be read in relation to
and not isolation from the rest of the measure, to discover the true
legislative intent.
As it is clearly provided in the Rule on Summary Procedure that among the
offenses it covers are violations of municipal or city ordinances, it should
follow that the charge against the petitioner, which is for violation of a
municipal ordinance of Rodriguez, is governed by that rule and not Section
1 of Rule 110.
Where paragraph (b) of the section does speak of "offenses falling under
the jurisdiction of the Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial
Courts," the obvious reference is to Section 32(2) of B.P. No. 129, vesting in
such courts:
(2) Exclusive original jurisdiction over all offenses punishable
with imprisonment of not exceeding four years and two
months, or a fine of not more than four thousand pesos, or both
such fine and imprisonment, regardless of other imposable
accessory or other penalties, including the civil liability arising
from such offenses or predicated thereon, irrespective of kind,
nature, value, or amount thereof; Provided, however, That in
offenses involving damage to property through criminal
negligence they shall have exclusive original jurisdiction where
the imposable fine does not exceed twenty thousand pesos.
These offenses are not covered by the Rule on Summary Procedure.
Under Section 9 of the Rule on Summary Procedure, "the complaint or
information shall be filed directly in court without need of a prior
preliminary examination or preliminary investigation."
6
Both parties agree
that this provision does not prevent the prosecutor from conducting a
preliminary investigation if he wants to. However, the case shall be
deemed commenced only when it is filed in court, whether or not the
prosecution decides to conduct a preliminary investigation. This means
that the running of the prescriptive period shall be halted on the date the
case is actually filed in court and not on any date before that.
This interpretation is in consonance with the afore-quoted Act No. 3326
which says that the period of prescription shall be suspended "when
proceedings are instituted against the guilty party." The proceedings
referred to in Section 2 thereof are "judicial proceedings," contrary to the
submission of the Solicitor General that they include administrative
proceedings. His contention is that we must not distinguish as the law does
not distinguish. As a matter of fact, it does.
At any rate, the Court feels that if there be a conflict between the Rule on
Summary Procedure and Section 1 of Rule 110 of the Rules on Criminal
Procedure, the former should prevail as the special law. And if there be a
conflict between Act. No. 3326 and Rule 110 of the Rules on Criminal
Procedure, the latter must again yield because this Court, in the exercise of
its rule-making power, is not allowed to "diminish, increase or modify
substantive rights" under Article VIII, Section 5(5) of the Constitution.
Prescription in criminal cases is a substantive right.
7

Going back to the Francisco case, we find it not irrelevant to observe that
the decision would have been conformable to Section 1, Rule 110, as the
offense involved was grave oral defamation punishable under the Revised
Penal Code with arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional
in its minimum period. By contrast, the prosecution in the instant case is
for violation of a municipal ordinance, for which the penalty cannot exceed
six months, 8 and is thus covered by the Rule on Summary Procedure.
The Court realizes that under the above interpretation, a crime may
prescribe even if the complaint is filed seasonably with the prosecutor's
office if, intentionally or not, he delays the institution of the necessary
judicial proceedings until it is too late. However, that possibility should not
justify a misreading of the applicable rules beyond their obvious intent as
reasonably deduced from their plain language. The remedy is not a
distortion of the meaning of the rules but a rewording thereof to prevent
the problem here sought to be corrected.
Our conclusion is that the prescriptive period for the crime imputed to the
petitioner commenced from its alleged commission on May 11, 1990, and
ended two months thereafter, on July 11, 1990, in accordance with Section 1
of Act No. 3326. It was not interrupted by the filing of the complaint with
the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor on May 30, 1990, as this was not a
judicial proceeding. The judicial proceeding that could have interrupted
the period was the filing of the information with the Municipal Trial Court
of Rodriguez, but this was done only on October 2, 1990, after the crime
had already prescribed.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED, and the challenged Order dated
October 2, 1991 is SET ASIDE. Criminal Case No. 90-089 in the Municipal
Trial Court of Rodriguez, Rizal, is hereby DISMISSED on the ground of
prescription. It is so ordered.
Narvasa, C.J., Gutierrez, Jr., Paras, Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin, Grio-Aquino,
Medialdea, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Nocon and Bellosillo, JJ., concur.

Footnotes
1 Rollo, p. 18.
2 Ibid.
3 Id., p. 19; Through Judge Andres B. Reyes, Jr.
4 Id., p. 21
5 122 SCRA 538
6 The phrase "filed directly in court without need of prior
preliminary examination or preliminary investigation" was
deleted under the Revised Rule on Summary Procedure
effective on November 15, 1991.
7 People vs. Castro, 95 Phil. 463.
8 Section 447, Local Government Code.






















SECOND DIVISION

ROBERTO BRILLANTE, G.R. Nos. 118757 & 121571
Petitioner,
Present:

PUNO, J.,
Chairman,
- versus - AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CALLEJO, SR.,
TINGA, and
CHICO-NAZARIO, JJ.
COURT OF APPEALS and
THE PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, Promulgated:
Respondents.
November 11, 2005


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


R E S O L U T I O N

TINGA, J.:


This treats of the Motion for Reconsideration dated November 25, 2004
filed by Roberto Brillante (Brillante) assailing the Decision of this Court
dated October 19, 2004 which affirmed his conviction for the crime of libel
but reduced the amount of moral damages he is liable to pay.

Brillante avers that his conviction, without the corresponding
conviction of the writers, editors and owners of the newspapers on which
the libelous materials were published, violates his right to equal
protection. He also claims that he should have been convicted only of one
count of libel because private respondents were not defamed separately as
each publication was impelled by a single criminal intent. Finally, he
claims that there is a semblance of truth to the accusations he hurled at
private respondents citing several instances of alleged violent acts
committed by the latter against his person.

Private respondent Jejomar Binay (Binay) filed a Comment dated
March 3, 2005, maintaining that the equal protection clause does not apply
because there are substantial distinctions between Brillante and his co-
accused warranting dissimilar treatment. Moreover, contrary to Brillantes
claim that he should have been convicted only of one count of libel, Binay
asserts that there can be as many convictions for libel as there are persons
defamed. Besides, this matter should have been raised at the time the
separate complaints were filed against him and not in this motion.

For its part, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed a Comment
dated April 4, 2005, stating that the issues raised in Brillantes motion have
already been discussed and passed upon by the Court. Hence, the motion
should be denied.

Brillante filed a Consolidated Reply dated May 26, 2005 in reiteration of
his arguments.

As correctly noted by the OSG, the basic issues raised in the instant
motion have already been thoroughly discussed and passed upon by the
Court in its Decision. For this reason, we shall no longer dwell on them.

We believe, however, that the penalty of imprisonment imposed
against Brillante should be re-examined and reconsidered. Although this
matter was neither raised in Brillantes petition nor in the instant motion,
we advert to the well-established rule that an appeal in a criminal
proceeding throws the whole case open for review of all its aspects,
including those not raised by the parties.[1]

In Mari v. Court of Appeals,[2] petitioner therein was found guilty of
slander by deed penalized under Art. 359 of the Revised Penal Code (Penal
Code) by either imprisonment or fine. In view of the fact that the offense
was done in the heat of anger and in reaction to a perceived provocation,
the Court opted to impose the penalty of fine instead of imprisonment.

In this case, Brillante claims that on January 6, 1988, his friends
house was bombed resulting in the death of three people. This incident
allegedly impelled him, out of moral and social duty, to call a press
conference on January 7, 1988 with the intention of exposing what he
believed were terrorist acts committed by private respondents against the
electorate of Makati City.

We find that the circumstances surrounding the writing of the open
letter on which the libelous publications were based similarly warrant the
imposition of the penalty of fine only, instead of both imprisonment and
fine, in accordance with Art. 355 of the Penal Code.[3] The intensely
feverish passions evoked during the election period in 1988 must have
agitated petitioner into writing his open letter.


Moreover, while petitioner failed to prove all the elements of
qualified privileged communication under par. 1, Art. 354 of the Penal
Code, incomplete privilege should be appreciated in his favor, especially
considering the wide latitude traditionally given to defamatory utterances
against public officials in connection with or relevant to their performance
of official duties or against public figures in relation to matters of public
interest involving them.[4]

The foregoing circumstances, in our view, justify the deletion of the
penalty of imprisonment and the retention of the meted fine only.

WHEREFORE, the Decision dated October 19, 2004 is AFFIRMED
with MODIFICATION consisting of the deletion of the penalty of
imprisonment imposed upon petitioner.

SO ORDERED.



DANTE O. TINGA
Associate Justice


WE CONCUR:




REYNATO S. PUNO
Associate Justice
Chairman




MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ ROMEO J. CALLEJO, SR.
Associate Justice Associate Justice



(On Leave)
MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
Associate Justice


CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby
certified that the conclusions in the above Resolution had been reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the
Courts Division.


REYNATO C. PUNO
Acting Chief Justice








FIRST DIVISION
[G.R. No. 125066. July 8, 1998]
ISABELITA REODICA, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, and PEOPLE
OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
D E C I S I O N
DAVIDE, JR., J.:
On the evening of 17 October 1987, petitioner Isabelita Reodica was driving
a van along Doa Soledad Avenue, Better Living Subdivision, Paraaque,
Metro Manila. Allegedly because of her recklessness, her van hit the car of
complainant Norberto Bonsol. As a result, complainant sustained physical
injuries, while the damage to his car amounted to P8,542.00.
Three days after the incident, or on 20 October 1987, the complainant filed
an Affidavit of Complainti[1] against petitioner with the Fiscals Office.
On 13 January 1988, an informationii[2] was filed before the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Makati (docketed as Criminal Case No. 33919) charging
petitioner with Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Damage to Property
with Slight Physical Injury. The information read:
The undersigned 2
nd
Asst. Fiscal accuses Isabelita Reodica of the
crime of Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Damage to Property
with Slight Physical Injury as follows:
That on or about the 17
th
day of October, 1987 in the Municipality of
Paraaque, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the abovementioned accused, Isabelita Velasco Reodica,
being then the driver and/or person in charge of a Tamaraw bearing plate
no. NJU-306, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
drive, manage and operate the same in a reckless, careless, negligent and
imprudent manner, without regard to traffic laws, rules and regulations
and without taking the necessary care and precaution to avoid damage to
property and injuries to person, causing by such negligence, carelessness
and imprudence the said vehicle to bump/collide with a Toyota Corolla
bearing plate no. NIM-919 driven and owned by Norberto Bonsol, thereby
causing damage amounting to P8,542.00, to the damage and prejudice of its
owner, in the aforementioned amount of P8,542.00.
That as further consequence due to the strong impact, said Norberto Bonsol
suffered bodily injuries which required medical attendance for a period of
less that nine (9) days and incapacitated him from performing his
customary labor for the same period of time.
Upon arraignment, petitioner pleaded not guilty to the charge. Trial then
ensued.
On 31 January 1991, the RTC of Makati, Branch 145, rendered a
decisioniii[3] convicting petitioner of the quasi offense of reckless
imprudence resulting in damage to property with slight physical injuries,
and sentencing her:
[t]o suffer imprisonment of six (6) months of arresto mayor, and to
pay the complainant, Norberto Bonsol y Atienza, the sum of
Thirteen Thousand Five Hundred Forty-Two (P13,542), Philippine
Currency, without subsidiary impairment in case of insolvency; and
to pay the costs.iv[4]
The trial court justified imposing a 6-month prison term in this wise:
As a result of the reckless imprudence of the accused, complainant
suffered slight physical injuries (Exhs. D, H and I). In view of the
resulting physical injuries, the penalty to be imposed is not fine, but
imprisonment (Gregorio, Fundamental of Criminal Law Review,
Eight Edition 1988, p. 711). Slight physical injuries thru reckless
imprudence is now punished with penalty of arresto mayor in its
maximum period (People v. Aguiles, L-11302, October 28, 1960,
cited in Gregorios book, p. 718).v[5]
As to the sum of P13,542.00, this represented the cost of the car repairs
(P8,542.00) and medical expenses (P5,000.00).
Petitioner appealed from the decision to the Court of Appeals, which
docketed the case as CA-G.R. CR No. 14660. After her motions for
extension of time to file her brief were granted, she filed a Motion to
Withdraw Appeal for Probation Purposes, and to Suspend, Ex Abundanti
Cautela, Period for Filing Appellants Brief. However, respondent Court of
Appeals denied this motion and directed petitioner to file her brief.vi[6]
After passing upon the errors imputed by petitioner to the trial court,
respondent Court of Appeals rendered a decisionvii[7] on 31 January 1996
affirming the appealed decision.
Petitioner subsequently filed a motion for reconsiderationviii[8] raising
new issues, thus:
NOW THAT AN ACQUITTAL SEEMS IMPOSSIBLE, MAY WE
REVISIT THE PENALTY AND MOVE THAT IT BE REVIEWED
AND SET ASIDE SINCE IT IS RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED TO
BE ERROR TO COMPLEX DAMAGE TO PROPERTY AND
SLIGHT PHYSICAL INJURIES, AS BOTH ARE LIGHT OFFENSES,
OVER WHICH THE RESPONDENT COURT HAD NO
JURISDICTION AND EVEN ASSUMING SUCH JURISDICTION,
IT CANNOT IMPOSE A PENALTY IN EXCESS OF WHAT IS
AUTHORIZED BY LAW.ix[9]
. . . . . . . . .
REVERSAL OF THE DECISION REMAINS POSSIBLE ON
GROUNDS OF PRESCRIPTION OR LACK OF
JURISDICTION.x[10]
In its Resolution of 24 May 1996, the Court of Appeals denied petitioners
motion for reconsideration for lack of merit, as well as her supplemental
motion for reconsideration. Hence, the present petition for review on
certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court premised on the following
grounds:
RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS DECISION DATED
JANUARY 31, 1996 AND MORE SO ITS RESOLUTION DATED
MAY 24, 1996, ARE CONTRARY TO LAW AND GROSSLY
ERRONEOUS IN THAT THEY IMPOSED A PENALTY IN EXCESS
OF WHAT IS AUTHORIZED BY LAW FOR THE CRIME OF
RECKLESS IMPRUDENCE RESULTING IN SLIGHT PHYSICAL
INJURIES, ON THE BASIS OF A CLERICAL ERROR IN A
SECONDARY SOURCE.
A IN THE CASE OF PEOPLE V. AGUILAR,xi[11] THE
SAME CASE WHERE THE COURT A QUO BASED ITS
FINDING OF A PENALTY WHEN IT AFFIRMED THE
DECISION OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, WHAT
WAS STATED IN THE ORIGINAL TEXT OF SAID
CASE IS THAT THE PENALTY FOR SLIGHT
PHYSICAL INJURIES THROUGH RECKLESS
IMPRUDENCE IS ARRESTO MENOR AND NOT
ARRESTO MAYOR. IT IS GRAVE ERROR FOR THE
RESPONDENT COURT TO PUNISH PETITIONER
MORE THAN SHE SHOULD OR COULD BE
PUNISHED BECAUSE OF A CLERICAL ERROR
COPIED FROM A SECONDARY SOURCE.
B. THE RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY
ABUSED ITS DISCRETION WHEN IT COMPLEXED
THE CRIME OF RECKLESS IMPRUDENCE
RESULTING IN DAMAGE TO PROPERTY AND
SLIGHT PHYSICAL INJURIES IMPOSING A SINGLE
EXCESSIVE PENALTY IN ITS ELLIPTICAL
RESOLUTION OF MAY 24, 1996.
C. THE RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY
ERRED WHEN IT AFFIRMED THE TRIAL COURTS
DECISION NOTWITHSTANDING THE DEFENSE OF
PRESCRIPTION AND LACK OF JURISDICTION.
Anent the first ground, petitioner claims that the courts below misquoted
not only the title, but likewise the ruling of the case cited as authority
regarding the penalty for slight physical injuries through reckless
imprudence. Concretely, the title of the case was not People v. Aguiles, but
People v. Aguilar; while the ruling was that the penalty for such quasi
offense was arresto menor not arresto mayor.
As regards the second assigned error, petitioner avers that the courts below
should have pronounced that there were two separate light felonies
involved, namely: (1) reckless imprudence with slight physical injuries;
and (2) reckless imprudence with damage to property, instead of
considering them a complex crime. Two light felonies, she insists, do not
rate a single penalty of arresto mayor or imprisonment of six months,
citing Lontok v. Gorgonio,xii[12] thus:
Where the single act of imprudence resulted in double less serious
physical injuries, damage to property amounting to P10,000.00 and
slight physical injuries, a chief of police did not err in filing a
separate complaint for the slight physical injuries and another
complaint for the lesiones menos graves and damage to property
(Arcaya vs. Teleron, L-37446, May 31, 1974, 57 SCRA 363, 365).
. . . . . . . . .
The case of Angeles vs. Jose, 96 Phil. 151, cited by investigating fiscal, is
different from the instant case because in that case the negligent act
resulted in the offenses of lesiones menos graves and damage to property
which were both less grave felonies and which, therefore, constituted a
complex crime.
In the instant case, following the ruling in the Turla case, the offense of
lesiones leves through reckless imprudence should have been charged in
a separate information.
She then suggests that at worst, the penalties of two light offenses, both
imposable in their maximum period and computed or added together,
only sum up to 60 days imprisonment and not six months as imposed by
the lower courts.
On the third assigned error, petitioner insists that the offense of slight
physical injuries through reckless imprudence, being punishable only by
arresto menor, is a light offense; as such, it prescribes in two months. Here,
since the information was filed only on 13 January 1988, or almost three
months from the date the vehicular collision occurred, the offense had
already prescribed, again citing Lontok, thus:
In the instant case, following the ruling in the Turla case, the offense
of lesiones leves through reckless imprudence should have been
charged in a separate information. And since, as a light offense, it
prescribes in two months, Lontoks criminal liability therefor was
already extinguished (Arts. 89[5], 90 and 91, Revised Penal Code in
relation to sec. 2[e] and [f], Rule 117, Rules of Court). The trial court
committed a grave abuse of discretion in not sustaining Lontoks
motion to quash that part of the information charging him with that
light offense.
Petitioner further claims that the information was filed with the wrong
court, since Regional Trial Courts do not deal with arresto menor cases. She
submits that damage to property and slight physical injuries are light
felonies and thus covered by the rules on summary procedure; therefore,
only the filing with the proper Metropolitan Trial Court could have tolled
the statute of limitations, this time invoking Zaldivia v. Reyes.xiii[13]
In its Comment filed on behalf of public respondents, the Office of the
Solicitor General (OSG) agrees with petitioner that the penalty should have
been arresto menor in its maximum period, instead of arresto mayor,
pursuant to Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code.
As to the second assigned error, the OSG contends that conformably with
Buerano v. Court of Appeals,xiv[14] which frowns upon splitting of crimes
and prosecution, it was proper for the trial court to complex reckless
imprudence with slight physical injuries and damage to property because
what the law seeks to penalize is the single act of reckless imprudence, not
the results thereof; hence, there was no need for two separate informations.
To refute the third assigned error, the OSG submits that although the
Municipal Trial Court had jurisdiction to impose arresto menor for slight
physical injuries, the Regional Trial Court properly took cognizance of this
case because it had the jurisdiction to impose the higher penalty for the
damage to property, which was a fine equal to thrice the value of P8,542.00.
On this score, the OSG cites Cuyos v. Garcia.xv[15]
The OSG then debunks petitioners defense of prescription of the crime,
arguing that the prescriptive period here was tolled by the filing of the
complaint with the fiscals office three days after the incident, pursuant to
People v. Cuaresmaxvi[16] and Chico v. Isidro.xvii[17]
In her Reply to the Comment of the OSG, petitioner expressed gratitude
and appreciation to the OSG in joining cause with her as to the first
assigned error. However, she considers the OSGs reliance on Buerano v.
Court of Appealsxviii[18] as misplaced, for nothing there validates the
complexing of the crime of reckless imprudence with physical injuries
and damage to property; besides, in that case, two separate informations
were filed -- one for slight and serious physical injuries through reckless
imprudence and the other for damage to property through reckless
imprudence. She then insists that in this case, following Arcaya v.
Teleronxix[19] and Lontok v. Gorgonio,xx[20] two informations should have
been filed. She likewise submits that Cuyos v. Garciaxxi[21] would only
apply here on the assumption that it was proper to complex damage to
property through reckless imprudence with slight physical injuries
through reckless imprudence. Chico v. Isidroxxii[22] is likewise
inapposite, for it deals with attempted homicide, which is not covered by
the Rule on Summary Procedure.
Petitioner finally avers that People v. Cuaresmaxxiii[23] should not be given
retroactive effect; otherwise, it would either unfairly prejudice her or
render nugatory the en banc ruling in Zaldiviaxxiv[24] favorable to her.
The pleadings thus raise the following issues:
I. Whether the penalty imposed on petitioner is correct.
II. Whether the quasi offenses of reckless imprudence resulting
in damage to property in the amount of P8,542.00 and
reckless imprudence resulting in slight physical injuries are
light felonies.
III. Whether the rule on complex crimes under Article 48 of the
Revised Penal Code applies to the quasi offenses in
question.
IV. Whether the duplicity of the information may be
questioned for the first time on appeal.
V. Whether the Regional Trial Court had jurisdiction over the
offenses in question.
VI. Whether the quasi offenses in question have already
prescribed.
I. The Proper Penalty.
We agree with both petitioner and the OSG that the penalty of six months
of arresto mayor imposed by the trial court and affirmed by respondent
Court of Appeals is incorrect. However, we cannot subscribe to their
submission that the penalty of arresto menor in its maximum period is the
proper penalty.
Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code provides:
Art. 365. Imprudence and negligence. Any person who, by reckless
imprudence, shall commit any act which, had it been intentional,
would constitute a grave felony, shall suffer the penalty of arresto
mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its medium
period; if it would have constituted a less grave felony, the penalty
of arresto mayor in its minimum and medium periods shall be
imposed; if it would have constituted a light felony, the penalty of
arresto menor in its maximum period shall be imposed.
Any person who, by simple imprudence or negligence, shall
commit an act which would otherwise constitute a grave felony,
shall suffer the penalty of arresto mayor in its medium and
maximum periods; if it would have constituted a less serious
felony, the penalty of arresto mayor in its minimum period shall be
imposed.
When the execution of the act covered by this article shall have only
resulted in damage to the property of another, the offender shall be
punished by a fine ranging from an amount equal to the value of
said damages to three times such value, but which shall in no case
be less than 25 pesos.
A fine not exceeding 200 pesos and censure shall be imposed upon
any person who, by simple imprudence or negligence, shall cause
some wrong which, if done maliciously, would have constituted a
light felony.
In the imposition of these penalties, the courts shall exercise their
sound discretion, without regard to the rules prescribed in Article
64.
The provisions contained in this article shall not be applicable:
1. When the penalty provided for the offense is equal to or lower than
those provided in the first two paragraphs of this article, in which case the
courts shall impose the penalty next lower in degree than that which
should be imposed in the period which they may deem proper to apply.
According to the first paragraph of the aforequoted Article, the penalty for
reckless imprudence resulting in slight physical injuries, a light felony, is
arresto menor in its maximum period, with a duration of 21 to 30 days. If
the offense of slight physical injuries is, however, committed deliberately
or with malice, it is penalized with arresto menor under Article 266 of the
Revised Penal Code, with a duration of 1 day to 30 days. Plainly, the
penalty then under Article 266 may be either lower than or equal to the
penalty prescribed under the first paragraph of Article 365. This being the
case, the exception in the sixth paragraph of Article 365 applies. Hence, the
proper penalty for reckless imprudence resulting in slight physical injuries
is public censure, this being the penalty next lower in degree to arresto
menor.xxv[25]
As to reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property in the amount
of P8,542.00, the third paragraph of Article 365, which provides for the
penalty of fine, does not apply since the reckless imprudence in this case
did not result in damage to property only. What applies is the first
paragraph of Article 365, which provides for arresto mayor in its minimum
and medium periods (1 month and 1 day to 4 months) for an act committed
through reckless imprudence which, had it been intentional, would have
constituted a less grave felony. Note that if the damage to the extent of
P8,542.00 were caused deliberately, the crime would have been malicious
mischief under Article 329 of the Revised Penal Code, and the penalty
would then be arresto mayor in its medium and maximum periods (2
months and 1 day to 6 months which is higher than that prescribed in the
first paragraph of Article 365). If the penalty under Article 329 were equal
to or lower than that provided for in the first paragraph, then the sixth
paragraph of Article 365 would apply, i.e., the penalty next lower in degree,
which is arresto menor in its maximum period to arresto mayor in its
minimum period or imprisonment from 21 days to 2 months. Accordingly,
the imposable penalty for reckless imprudence resulting in damage to
property to the extent of P8,542.00 would be arresto mayor in its minimum
and medium periods, which could be anywhere from a minimum of 1
month and 1 day to a maximum of 4 months, at the discretion of the court,
since the fifth paragraph of Article 365 provides that in the imposition of
the penalties therein provided the courts shall exercise their sound
discretion without regard to the rules prescribed in article 64.
II. Classification of the Quasi Offense in Question.
Felonies are committed not only by means of deceit (dolo), but likewise by
means of fault (culpa). There is deceit when the wrongful act is performed
with deliberate intent; and there is fault when the wrongful act results from
imprudence, negligence, lack of foresight or lack of skill.xxvi[26]
As earlier stated, reckless imprudence resulting in slight physical injuries is
punishable by public censure only. Article 9, paragraph 3, of the Revised
Penal Code defines light felonies as infractions of law carrying the penalty
of arresto menor or a fine not exceeding P200.00, or both. Since public
censure is classified under Article 25 of the Code as a light penalty, and is
considered under the graduated scale provided in Article 71 of the same
Code as a penalty lower than arresto menor, it follows that the offense of
reckless imprudence resulting in slight physical injuries is a light felony.
On the other hand, reckless imprudence also resulting in damage to
property is, as earlier discussed, penalized with arresto mayor in its
minimum and medium periods. Since arresto mayor is a correctional
penalty under Article 25 of the Revised Penal Code, the quasi offense in
question is a less grave felony not a light felony as claimed by petitioner.
III. Applicability of the Rule on Complex Crimes.
Since criminal negligence may, as here, result in more than one felony,
should Article 48 of the Revised Code on complex crimes be applied?
Article 48 provides as follows:
ART. 48. Penalty for complex crimes. -- When a single act constitutes
two or more grave or less grave felonies, or when an offense is
necessary a means for committing the other, the penalty for the
most serious crime shall be imposed, the same to be applied in its
maximum period.
Clearly, if a reckless, imprudent or negligent act results in two or more
grave or less grave felonies, a complex crime is committed. However, in
Lontok v. Gorgonio,xxvii[27] this Court declared that where one of the
resulting offenses in criminal negligence constitutes a light felony, there is
no complex crime, thus:
Applying article 48, it follows that if one offense is light, there is no
complex crime. The resulting offenses may be treated as separate or
the light felony may be absorbed by the grave felony. Thus, the
light felonies of damage to property and slight physical injuries,
both resulting from a single act of imprudence, do not constitute a
complex crime. They cannot be charged in one information. They
are separate offenses subject to distinct penalties (People vs. Turla,
50 Phil. 1001; See People vs. Estipona, 70 Phil. 513).
Where the single act of imprudence resulted in double less serious
physical injuries, damage to property amounting to P10,000 and
slight physical injuries, a chief of police did not err in filing a
separate complaint for the slight physical injuries and another
complaint for the lesiones menos graves and damage to property
[Arcaya vs. Teleron, L-37446, May 31, 1974, 57 SCRA 363, 365].
Hence, the trial court erred in considering the following felonies as a
complex crime: the less grave felony of reckless imprudence resulting in
damage to property in the amount of P8,542.00 and the light felony of
reckless imprudence resulting in physical injuries.
IV. The Right to Assail the Duplicity of the Information.
Following Lontok, the conclusion is inescapable here, that the quasi offense
of reckless imprudence resulting in slight physical injuries should have
been charged in a separate information because it is not covered by Article
48 of the Revised Penal Code. However, petitioner may no longer
question, at this stage, the duplicitous character of the information, i.e.,
charging two separate offenses in one information, to wit: (1) reckless
imprudence resulting in damage to property; and (2) reckless imprudence
resulting in slight physical injuries. This defect was deemed waived by her
failure to raise it in a motion to quash before she pleaded to the
information.xxviii[28] Under Section 3, Rule 120 of the Rules of Court,
when two or more offenses are charged in a single complaint or
information and the accused fails to object to it before trial, the court may
convict the accused of as many offenses as are charged and proved and
impose on him the penalty for each of them.xxix[29]
V. Which Court Has Jurisdiction Over the
Quasi Offenses in Question.
The jurisdiction to try a criminal action is to be determined by the law in
force at the time of the institution of the action, unless the statute expressly
provides, or is construed to the effect that it is intended to operate as to
actions pending before its enactment.xxx[30]
At the time of the filing of the information in this case, the law in force was
Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, otherwise known as The Judiciary
Reorganization Act of 1980. Section 32(2)xxxi[31] thereof provided that
except in cases falling within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the
Regional Trial Courts and of the Sandiganbayan, the Metropolitan Trial
Courts (MeTCs), Municipal Trial Courts (MTCs), and Municipal Circuit
Trial Courts (MCTCs) had exclusive original jurisdiction over all offenses
punishable with imprisonment of not exceeding four years and two
months, or a fine of not more than four thousand pesos, or both fine and
imprisonment, regardless of other imposable accessory or other penalties,
including the civil liability arising from such offenses or predicated
thereon, irrespective of kind, nature, value or amount thereof.
The criminal jurisdiction of the lower courts was then determined by the
duration of the imprisonment and the amount of fine prescribed by law for
the offense charged. The question thus arises as to which court has
jurisdiction over offenses punishable by censure, such as reckless
imprudence resulting in slight physical injuries.
In Uy Chin Hua v. Dinglasan,xxxii[32] this Court found that a lacuna existed
in the law as to which court had jurisdiction over offenses penalized with
destierro, the duration of which was from 6 months and 1 day to 6 years,
which was co-extensive with prision correccional. We then interpreted the
law in this wise:
Since the legislature has placed offenses penalized with arresto
mayor under the jurisdiction of justice of the peace and municipal
courts, and since by Article 71 of the Revised Penal Code, as
amended by Section 3 of Commonwealth Act No. 217, it has placed
destierro below arresto mayor as a lower penalty than the latter, in the
absence of any express provision of law to the contrary it is logical
and reasonable to infer from said provisions that its intention was
to place offenses penalized with destierro also under the jurisdiction
of justice of the peace and municipal courts and not under that of
courts of first instance.
Similarly, since offenses punishable by imprisonment of not exceeding 4
years and 2 months were within the jurisdictional ambit of the MeTCs,
MTCs and MCTCs, it follows that those penalized with censure, which is a
penalty lower than arresto menor under the graduated scale in Article 71 of
the Revised Penal Code and with a duration of 1 to 30 days, should also fall
within the jurisdiction of said courts. Thus, reckless imprudence resulting
in slight physical injuries was cognizable by said courts.
As to the reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property in the
amount of P8,542.00, the same was also under the jurisdiction of MeTCs,
MTCs or MCTCs because the imposable penalty therefor was arresto mayor
in its minimum and medium periods -- the duration of which was from 1
month and 1 day to 4 months.
Criminal Case No. 33919 should, therefore, be dismissed for lack of
jurisdiction on the part of the RTC of Makati.
VI. Prescription of the Quasi Offenses in Question.
Pursuant to Article 90 of the Revised Penal Code, reckless imprudence
resulting in slight physical injuries, being a light felony, prescribes in two
months. On the other hand, reckless imprudence resulting in damage to
property in the amount of P8,542.00, being a less grave felony whose
penalty is arresto mayor in its minimum and medium periods, prescribes in
five years.
To resolve the issue of whether these quasi offenses have already
prescribed, it is necessary to determine whether the filing of the complaint
with the fiscals office three days after the incident in question tolled the
running of the prescriptive period.
Article 91 of the Revised Penal Code provides:
ART. 91. Computation of prescription of offenses. -- The period of
prescription shall commence to run from the day on which the
crime is discovered by the offended party, the authorities, or their
agents, and shall be interrupted by the filing of the complaint or
information, and shall commence to run again when such
proceedings terminate without the accused being convicted or
acquitted, or are unjustifiably stopped by any reason not imputable
to him. (emphasis supplied)
Notably, the aforequoted article, in declaring that the prescriptive period
shall be interrupted by the filing of the complaint or information, does
not distinguish whether the complaint is filed for preliminary examination
or investigation only or for an action on the merits.xxxiii[33] Thus, in
Francisco v. Court of Appealsxxxiv[34] and People v. Cuaresma,xxxv[35] this
Court held that the filing of the complaint even with the fiscals office
suspends the running of the statute of limitations.
We cannot apply Section 9xxxvi[36] of the Rule on Summary Procedure,
which provides that in cases covered thereby, such as offenses punishable
by imprisonment not exceeding 6 months, as in the instant case, the
prosecution commences by the filing of a complaint or information directly
with the MeTC, RTC or MCTC without need of a prior preliminary
examination or investigation; provided that in Metropolitan Manila and
Chartered Cities, said cases may be commenced only by information.
However, this Section cannot be taken to mean that the prescriptive period
is interrupted only by the filing of a complaint or information directly with
said courts.
It must be stressed that prescription in criminal cases is a matter of
substantive law. Pursuant to Section 5(5), Article VIII of the Constitution,
this Court, in the exercise of its rule-making power, is not allowed to
diminish, increase or modify substantive rights.xxxvii[37] Hence, in case of
conflict between the Rule on Summary Procedure promulgated by this
Court and the Revised Penal Code, the latter prevails.
Neither does Zaldivia control in this instance. It must be recalled that what
was involved therein was a violation of a municipal ordinance; thus, the
applicable law was not Article 91 of the Revised Penal Code, but Act. No.
3326, as amended, entitled An Act to Establish Periods of Prescription for
Violations Penalized by Special Acts and Municipal Ordinances and to
Provide When Prescription Shall Begin to Run. Under Section 2 thereof,
the period of prescription is suspended only when judicial proceedings are
instituted against the guilty party. Accordingly, this Court held that the
prescriptive period was not interrupted by the filing of the complaint with
the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor, as such did not constitute a judicial
proceeding; what could have tolled the prescriptive period there was only
the filing of the information in the proper court.
In the instant case, as the offenses involved are covered by the Revised
Penal Code, Article 91 thereof and the rulings in Francisco and Cuaresma
apply. Thus, the prescriptive period for the quasi offenses in question was
interrupted by the filing of the complaint with the fiscals office three days
after the vehicular mishap and remained tolled pending the termination of
this case. We cannot, therefore, uphold petitioners defense of prescription
of the offenses charged in the information in this case.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The challenged decision
of respondent Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 14660 is SET ASIDE as
the Regional Trial Court, whose decision was affirmed therein, had no
jurisdiction over Criminal Case No. 33919.
Criminal Case No. 33919 is ordered DISMISSED.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo, Vitug, Panganiban, and Quisumbing, JJ., concur.





i[1] Original Record (OR), 131.
ii[2] Id., 1.
iii[3] Annex C of Petition, Rollo, 52-56. Per Judge Job B. Madayag.
iv[4] Rollo, 56.
v[5] Id.
vi[6] Rollo, 35.
vii[7] Annex A of Petition, Rollo, 27-49. Per Mabutas, Jr., R., J. with
Elbinias, J., and Valdez, Jr., S., JJ., concurring.
viii[8] Annex D of Petition, Rollo, 57-69.
ix[9] Id., 58.
x[10] Id., 60.
xi[11] Erroneously cited by the trial court as People v. Aguiles.
xii[12] 89 SCRA 632, 636 [1979].
xiii[13] 211 SCRA 277 [1992].
xiv[14] 115 SCRA 82 [1982].
xv[15] 160 SCRA 302 1988].
xvi[16] 172 SCRA 415, [1989].

xvii[17] A.M. MTJ-91-559, 13 October 1993.
xviii[18] Supra note 14.
xix[19] 57 SCRA 363 [1974].
xx[20] Supra note 12.
xxi[21] Supra note 15.
xxii[22] Supra note 17.
xxiii[23] Supra note 16.
xxiv[24] Supra note 14.
xxv[25] Article 71 of the Revised Penal Code; People v. Leynez, 65 Phil. 608,
610-611 [1938].
xxvi[26] Article 3, Revised Penal Code.
xxvii[27] Supra note 12 at 635-636.
xxviii[28] Section 8, Rule 117, Rules of Court.
xxix[29] See also People v. Conte, 247 SCRA 583 [1995].
xxx[30] People v. Velasco, 252 SCRA 135 [1996].
xxxi[31] This Section has been amended by Section 2 of R.A. No. 7691,
which was approved by President Fidel V. Ramos on 25 March 1994. As
amended, the provision now reads in part as follows:
Section 32. Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial
Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in Criminal Cases. -- Except in
cases falling within the exclusive original jurisdiction of Regional Trial

Courts and Sandiganbayan, the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial
Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts shall exercise:
(2) Exclusive original jurisdiction over all offenses punishable with
imprisonment not exceeding six (6) years irrespective of the amount of fine,
and regardless of other imposable accessory or other penalties, including
the civil liability arising from such offenses or predicated thereon,
irrespective of kind, nature, value or amount thereof: Provided, however,
That in offenses involving damage to property through criminal
negligence, they shall have exclusive original jurisdiction thereof.
xxxii[32] 86 Phil. 617 [1950].
xxxiii[33] People v. Olarte, 19 SCRA 494 [1967].
xxxiv[34] 122 SCRA 538 [1983].
xxxv[35] Supra note 16.
xxxvi[36] Now Section 11 of the Revised Rules of Summary Procedure,
which reads in part as follows:
SEC. 11. How commenced. -- The filing of criminal cases falling
within the scope of this Rule shall be either by complaint or information:
Provided, however, that in Metropolitan Manila and in Chartered Cities,
such cases shall be commenced only by information, except when the
offense cannot be prosecuted de oficio.
xxxvii[37] Zalvidia v. Reyes, supra note 13 at 284.