PROSECUTION OF OFFENSES
EFFECT OF INSTITUTION OF THE CRIMINAL ACTION ON THE PRESCRIPTIVE PERIOD
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. CLEMENTE BAUTISTA
G.R. No. 168641, April 27, 2007, Austria-Martinez, J.
The filing of the complaint with the fiscal’s office suspends the running of the prescriptive period.
On June 12, 1999 conflict arose between private complainant and Bautista. On August 16, 1999, the former filed a complaint for Slight Physical Injuries before the Office of the City Prosecutor (OCP), which issued a resolution dated November 8, 1999, recommending the filing of the case. The resolution was approved by the City Prosecutor. It was only on June 20, 2000 that the information was filed in MeTC. Bautista sought for its dismissal on the ground that at the time the information was filed, the 60-day period of prescription from the date of its commission had already lapsed. The CA ruled that the offense already prescribed because the filing of the case in the OCP interrupted the prescriptive period but such period resumed when the City Prosecutor approved the recommendation of the investigating prosecutor to file the proper criminal information.
Whether the prescriptive period resumed after the investigating prosecutor’s recommendation to file the proper criminal information was approved by the City Prosecutor
No. Art. 91 of the RPC provides that 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 proceedings against Bautista were not terminated upon the City Prosecutor’s approval of the investigating prosecutor’s recommendation that an information be filed with the court. The prescriptive period remains tolled from the time the complaint was filed with the Office of the Prosecutor until such time that respondent is either convicted or acquitted by the proper court. The Office of the Prosecutor miserably incurred some delay in filing the information but such mistake or negligence should not unduly prejudice the interests of the State and the offended party. 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.
LUZ M. ZALDIVIA v. ANDRES B. REYES, JR., et al.
G.R. No. 102342, July 3, 1992, Cruz, J.
Words in a statute should be read in relation to and not in isolation from the rest of the measure, to discover the true legislative intent.
Zaldivia was charged with quarrying for commercial purposes without Mayor’s permit in violation of Ordinance No. 2 Series of 1988 of the Municipality of Rodriguez in the Province of Rizal. An information was filed with the MTC of Rodriguez. Zaldivia moved to quash the information on the ground that the crime had prescribed, invoking that under Act No. 3326, violations penalized by municipal ordinances shall prescribe after two months from the commission of the offense governed by the Rules on Summary Procedure. The prosecution contends that the prescriptive period was suspended upon the filing of the complaint with the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor, saying that Rule 110, Section 1, last paragraph of the Rules on Criminal Procedure which provides that “in all cases such institution interrupts the period of the prescription of the offense charged,” applies to all cases including those falling under the Rule on Summary Procedure.
Whether the phrase, “in all cases such institution interrupts the period of the prescription of the offense charged” applies to cases falling under the Rule on Summary Procedure
No, Rule 110, Section 1 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure 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.
As it is clearly provided in the Rule on Summary Procedure that among the offenses it covers are violations of municipal or city ordinances, the charge against the petitioner, which is for violation of a municipal ordinance, is governed by that rule and not Section 1 of Rule 110. If there is 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 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.
The prosecution in the instant case is for violation of a municipal ordinance, for which the penalty cannot exceed six months, and is thus covered by the Rule on Summary Procedure. The prescriptive period for the crime imputed to the Zaldivia commenced from its alleged commission on May 11, 1990, and ended two months after, 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 MTC of Rodriguez, but this was done only on October 2, 1990, after the crime had already prescribed.
SANRIO COMPANY LIMITED v. EDGAR C. LIM, doing business as ORIGNAMURA TRADING
G.R. No. 168662, February 19, 2008, CORONA, J.
The filing of the complaint for purposes of preliminary investigation interrupts the period of prescription of criminal responsibility.
Sanrio, a Japanese corporation, manufactures Hello Kitty products and distributes them in the Philippines. It was divulged to Sanrio that its products were being counterfeited by Edgar Lim. The executive judge then issued a search warrant on May 30, 2000. Agents of the NBI searched the premises of Orignamura Trading. They were able to seize various Sanrio products. It was only almost two years later on April 4, 2002 that Sanrio filed a complaint-affidavit in the DOJ against Edgar Lim for violation of Section 217 of the Intellectual Property Code (IPC). However, it was dismissed due to insufficiency of evidence. On May 3, 2003, Sanrio filed a petition for certiorari with the CA but it was dismissed on the ground of prescription because no complaint was filed in court within two years after the commission of the alleged violation. Sanrio contended that filing of the complaint in DOJ tolled the two-year prescriptive period.
Whether the filing of the complaint in the DOJ tolled the prescriptive period
Yes, Section 2 of Act 3326 provides that the prescriptive period for violation of special laws starts on the day such offense was committed and is interrupted by the institution of proceedings against the accused.
Sanrio filed its complaint-affidavit one year, ten months and four days after the NBI searched respondent’s premises and seized Sanrio merchandise therefrom. Although no information was immediately filed in court, respondent’s alleged violation had not yet prescribed. The prescriptive period for the prosecution of the alleged violation of the IPC was tolled by Sanrios’s timely filing of the complaint-affidavit before the TAPP.
LUIS PANAGUITON, JR. v. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, RAMON C. TONGSON and RODRIGO G. CAWILI
G.R. No. 167571, November 25, 2008, TINGA, J.
Any kind of investigative proceeding instituted against the guilty person which may ultimately lead to his prosecution should be sufficient to toll prescription.
Cawili borrowed money from Panaguiton. As security, he issued three checks bearing his signature and that of his business associate Tongson. Upon presentment on March 18, 1993 the checks were dishonored. However, it was only on Aug 24, 1995 that Panaguiton filed a complaint against Cawili and Tongson for violation of BP 22 before the QC Prosecutor’s Office. On 15 March 1999, Assistant City Prosecutor dismissed the complaint against Tongson and held that the case had already prescribed pursuant to Act No. 3326, as amended, which provides that violations penalized by BP 22 shall prescribe after four years. It was ruled that the four-year period started on the date the checks were dishonored, or on January 20, 1993 and March 18, 1993; the filing of the complaint before the Quezon City Prosecutor on August 24, 1995 did not interrupt the running of the prescriptive period, as the law contemplates judicial, and not administrative proceedings; and thus, considering that from 1993 to 1998, more than four years had already elapsed and no information had as yet been filed against Tongson, the alleged violation of BP 22 imputed to him had already prescribed.
Whether the filing of the complaint before the prosecutor tolled the running of prescriptive period
Yes. The term “proceedings” should now be understood as either executive or judicial in character: executive when it involves the investigation phase and judicial when it refers to the trial and judgment stage. With this clarification, any kind of investigative proceeding instituted against the guilty person which may ultimately lead to his prosecution should be sufficient to toll prescription.
Panaguiton filed his complaint-affidavit within the four-year prescriptive period. He timely filed his appeals and his motions for reconsideration. However, from the time petitioner filed his complaint-affidavit with the Office of the City Prosecutor up to the time the DOJ issued the assailed resolution, nine years had elapsed. Clearly, the delay was beyond petitioner’s control as had already initiated the active prosecution of the case as early as August 24, 1995. Panaguiton’s filing of his complaint-affidavit before the Office of the City Prosecutor signified the commencement of the proceedings for the prosecution of the accused and effectively interrupted the prescriptive period for the offenses they had been charged with under BP 22.
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION v. INTERPORT RESOURCES CORPORATION, MANUEL S. RECTO, RENE S. VILLARICA, PELAGIO RICALDE, ANTONIO REINA, FRANCISCO ANONUEVO, JOSEPH SY and SANTIAGO TANCHAN, JR.,
G.R. No. 135808, October 6, 2008, CHICO-NAZARIO, J.
Given the nature and purpose of the investigation conducted by the SEC, which is equivalent to the preliminary investigation conducted by the DOJ in criminal cases, such investigation would surely interrupt the prescription period.
IRC approved a Memorandum of Agreement with Ganda Holdings Berhad (GHB) wherein it acquired shares over the Ganda Energy Holding Inc. (GEHI). However, IRC has delayed its public disclosure which is a violation of the Corporation Code. Thus, SEC Chairman issued a directive requiring IRC to submit to the SEC a copy of its aforesaid Memorandum of Agreement with GHB. The SEC Chairman further directed all principal officers of IRC to appear at a hearing before the Brokers and Exchanges Department (BED) of the SEC to explain IRC’s failure to immediately disclose the information as required by the Rules on Disclosure of Material Facts. Later on it issued an Order that IRC violated Rules on Disclosure of Material Facts, in connection with the Old Securities Act of 1936, when it failed to make timely disclosure of its negotiations with GHB. Thus, it reached to the CA and ruled otherwise. IRC then contended that the case has already prescribed because violation of Revised Securities Act shall have a prescription period of 12 years. Since the offense was committed in 1994, they reasoned that prescription set in as early as 2006 and rendered this case moot. However, it was contended that the same has not yet prescribed considering that the same was tolled by investigation made by the SEC.
Whether the investigation made by the SEC tolled the running of the prescriptive period
Yes. A preliminary investigation interrupts the prescription period. A preliminary investigation is essentially a determination whether an offense has been committed, and whether there is probable cause for the accused to have committed an offense.
Under Section 45 of the Revised Securities Act, which is entitled Investigations, Injunctions and Prosecution of Offenses, the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) has the authority to “make such investigations as it deems necessary to determine whether any person has violated or is about to violate any provision of this Act XXX.” After a finding that a person has violated the Revised Securities Act, the SEC may refer the case to the DOJ for preliminary investigation and prosecution.
While the SEC investigation serves the same purpose and entails substantially similar duties as the preliminary investigation conducted by the DOJ, this process cannot simply be disregarded. In one case decided by the SC it enunciated that a criminal complaint is first filed with the SEC, which determines the existence of probable cause, before a preliminary investigation can be commenced by the DOJ. In the aforecited case, the complaint filed directly with the DOJ was dismissed on the ground that it should have been filed first with the SEC. Similarly, the offense was a violation of the Securities Regulations Code, wherein the procedure for criminal prosecution was reproduced from Section 45 of the Revised Securities Act. SC held that under the above provision, a criminal complaint for violation of any law or rule administered by the SEC must first be filed with the latter. If the SEC finds that there is probable cause, then it should refer the case to the DOJ.
Given the nature and purpose of the investigation conducted by the SEC, which is equivalent to the preliminary investigation conducted by the DOJ in criminal cases, such investigation would surely interrupt the prescription period.
CONTROL OF PROSECUTION
WILSON CHUA, RENITA CHUA, THE SECRETARY OF JUSTICE and THE CITY PROSECUTOR OF LUCENA CITY v. RODRIGO PADILLO and MARIETTA PADILLO
G.R. No. 163797, April 24, 2007, SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.
The public prosecutor’s exercise of his discretionary powers is not absolute.
Sps. Padillo were engaged in the money lending business. They engaged the services of their niece Marissa to serve as firm manager. They discovered that Marissa abused their confidence and committed illegal activities. Sps Padillo filed complaint against Marissa, Wilson and Renita before the City Prosecutor, who filed an information for estafa. Believing that they should be charged with higher offense, Sps. Padillo appealed to the Secretary of Justice who modified the charge and directed the filing of an information for the complex crime of estafa through falsification of public document against Marissa but absolved Wilson and Renita for insufficiency of evidence. The CA modified the ruling to charge Wilson and Renita with the same offense charged Marissa. Wilson and Renita contended that the prosecutor’s control on what crime should be charged is absolute and not appealable.
Whether the prosecutor’s control over the prosecution of the offense is absolute
No. The resolution of the investigating prosecutor is subject to appeal to the Secretary of Justice who exercises control and supervision over the investigating prosecutor. The Secretary of Justice may affirm, nullify, reverse, or modify the ruling of said prosecutor.” In special cases, the public prosecutor’s decision may even be reversed or modified by the Office of the President.
The CA may review the resolution of the Secretary of Justice on a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, on the ground that he committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction.
Not even the SC can order the prosecution of a person against whom the prosecutor does not find sufficient evidence to support at least a prima facie case. The only possible exception to this rule is where there is an unmistakable showing of grave abuse of discretion on the part of the prosecutor.
BUREAU OF CUSTOMS v. PETER SHERMAN, MICHAEL WHELAN, TEODORO B. LINGAN, ATTY. OFELIA B. CAJIGAL and the COURT OF TAX APPEALS
G.R. No. 190487, April 13, 2011, CARPIO-MORALES, J.
All criminal actions commenced by complaint or information are prosecuted under the direction and control of public prosecutors.
MSPI caused importation of finished bet slips but failed to pay duties and taxes, prompting the Bureau of Customs to file a criminal complaint before the DOJ against MSPI Directors and Officers for violation of Tariff and Customs Code. The State Prosecutor found probable cause and recommended the filing of an information. They filed a petition for review before the Secretary of Justice but during its pendency the information was filed before the CTA. The Secretary of Justice reversed the State Prosecutor’s Resolution and directed the withdrawal of the same. The State Prosecutor filed a Motion to withdraw the information before the CTA which dismissed the Information. The Bureau of Customs filed a motion for reconsideration but it was noted without action by the CTA since there was no MR filed by the State Prosecutor.
Whether the Bureau of Customs may file an action without the intervention of public prosecutor
No. The prosecution of crimes pertains to the executive department of the government whose principal responsibility is to insure that laws are faithfully executed. Corollary to this power is the right to prosecute violators. In the prosecution of special laws, the exigencies of public service sometimes require the designation of special prosecutors from different government agencies to assist the public prosecutor. The designation does not, however, detract from the public prosecutor having control and supervision over the case.
By merely noting without action the Bureau of Customs’ motion for reconsideration, the CTA did not gravely abuse its discretion. A public prosecutor has control and supervision over the cases. The participation in the case of a private complainant, like Bureau of Customs, is limited to that of a witness, both in the criminal and civil aspect of the case. The Bureau of Customs is not represented by the Office of the Solicitor General in instituting the present petition, which contravenes established doctrine that “the OSG shall represent the Government of the Philippines, its agencies and instrumentalities and its officials and agents in any litigation, proceeding, investigation, or matter requiring the services of lawyers.”
COMPLAINT AND INFORMATION
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. GUALBERTO CINCO y SOYOSA
G.R. No. 186460, December 4, 2009, CHICO-NAZARIO, J.
It is not necessary to state in the information the precise date the offense was committed except when it is a material ingredient of the offense.
AAA filed a complaint of two counts of rape against Cinco. An information was filed charging the latter with rape. However, the precise date on which the crime was allegedly committed was not stated in the information. Thus, Cinco contended that the information is void and the same shall be dismissed.
Whether there is a need to state the precise time and date of the commission of the offense
No. To be considered as valid and sufficient, an information must state the name of the accused; the designation of the offense given by the statute; the acts or omissions complained of as constituting the offense; the name of the offended party; the approximate date of the commission of the offense; and the place where the offense was committed. This will enable the accused to suitably prepare for his defense, since he is presumed to have no independent knowledge of the facts that constitute the offense.
In rape cases however, failure to specify the exact dates or times when the rapes occurred does not ipso facto make the information defective on its face. The date or time of the commission of rape is not a material ingredient of the said crime because the gravamen of rape is carnal knowledge of a woman through force and intimidation. The precise time when the rape took place has no substantial bearing on its commission. As such, the date or time need not be stated with absolute accuracy. It is sufficient that the complaint or information states that the crime has been committed at any time as near as possible to the date of its actual commission.
VISITACION L. ESTODILLO, et al. v. JUDGE TEOFILO D. BALUMA
A.M. No. RTJ-04-1837, March 23, 2004, AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.
There is no requirement that the information be sworn to.
Visitacion Estodillo, mother of Jovelyn filed a complaint against Judge Teofilo when the latter dismissed the information against the father of Jovelyn for violation of child abuse. Judge Teofilo reasoned that since the information was not sworn under oath by the prosecutor, the same is not valid and should be dismissed.
Whether there is a need for the information to be sworn under oath by the prosecutor
No. Section 4, Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that an information is an accusation in writing charging a person with an offense, subscribed by the prosecutor and filed with the court. If an information should be sworn to under oath, the rules would have so provided as it does for a complaint which is defined as a “sworn written statement charging a person with an offense, subscribed by the offended party, any peace officer, or other public officer charged with the enforcement of the law violated.”
The information need not be under oath, the reason therefore being principally that the prosecuting officer filing it is charged with the special duty in regard thereto and is acting under the special responsibility of his oath of office. Clearly, Judge Teofilo had confused an information from a complaint.
SUFFICIENCY OF COMPLAINT OR INFORMATION
RENATO CUDIA v. THE COURT OF APPEALS, The HON.CARLOS D. RUSTIA, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court Branch LVI, Angeles City
G.R. No. 110315, January 16, 1998, Romero, J.
An information, when required to be filed by a public prosecuting officer, cannot be filed by another. It must be exhibited or presented by the prosecuting attorney or someone authorized by law. If not, the court does not acquire jurisdiction.
Cudia was arrested at Mabalacat, Pampanga for possessing an unlicensed revolver. The City Prosecutor of Angeles City filed an information charging him of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition. The information stated that the crime was committed in the City of Angeles, Philippines. The case was raffled to Branch 56 of the Angeles City RTC. Subsequently however, the provincial prosecutor of Pampanga also filed an information charging Cudia with the same crime. The case was likewise raffled to Branch 56 of the Angeles City RTC. Since two separate informations for the same offense had been filed against Cudia, the City prosecutor in Criminal Case No. 11542 filed a Motion to Dismiss/Withdraw the Information, stating that through inadvertence and oversight, the Investigating Panel hastily filed the Information in Criminal Case No. 11542, despite the fact that Cudia was arrested at Bgy. Sta. Inez, Mabalacat, Pampanga, within the jurisdiction of the Provincial Prosecutor of Pampanga and not in the City of Angeles where the City Prosecutor has jurisdiction over the same. Cudia filed his opposition to the motion, but the trial court nonetheless, granted the motion to dismiss filed by the prosecutor in Criminal Case No. 11542.
Whether the duplicity in the informations filed for the same offense would result in double jeopardy
No. Presidential Decree No. 1275, in relation to Section 9 of the Administrative Code of 1987, provides that the Provincial Prosecutor of Pampanga, not the City Prosecutor, should prepare informations for offenses committed within Pampanga but outside of Angeles City.
Petitioner, however, insists that his failure to assert the lack of authority of the City Prosecutor in filing the information in question is deemed a waiver thereof. As correctly pointed out by the CA, petitioner’s plea to an information before he filed a motion to quash may be a waiver of all objections to it insofar as formal objections to the pleadings are concerned. But by clear implication, if not by express provision of the Rules of Court, and by a long line of uniform decisions, questions relating to want of jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of the proceeding. It is a valid information signed by a competent officer which, among other requisites, confers jurisdiction on the court over the person of the accused (herein petitioner) and the subject matter of the accusation. An infirmity in the information, such as lack of authority of the officer signing it, cannot be cured by silence, acquiescence, or even by express consent.
There must have been a valid and sufficient complaint or information in the former prosecution. If the complaint or information was insufficient because it was so defective in form or substance that the conviction upon it could not have been sustained, its dismissal without the consent of the accused cannot be pleaded. As the fiscal had no authority to file the information, the dismissal of the first information would not be a bar to petitioner’s subsequent prosecution. Jeopardy does not attach where a defendant pleads guilty to a defective indictment that is voluntarily dismissed by the prosecution.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. DANILO FELICIANO, JR., JULIUS VICTOR MEDALLA, CHRISTOPHER SOLIVA, WARREN L. ZINGAPAN, and ROBERT MICHAEL BELTRAN ALVIR
G.R. No. 196735, May 5, 2014, Leonen, J.
The test of sufficiency of an information is whether it enables a person of common understanding to know the charge against him, and the court to render judgment properly. The purpose is to allow the accused to fully prepare for his defense, precluding surprises during the trial.
The victims, all members of the Sigma Rho Fraternity, saw several men who were armed with baseball bats and lead pipes charging towards them. The head of most of the attackers were covered with either handkerchiefs or shirts, however, the masks of some of the attackers fell off during the attack. The victims were able to see their faces and recognize some of them. Informations were filed against respondents charging them of the crimes of murder, frustrated murder as well as attempted murder.
Respondents argue that the informations filed against them violate their constitutional right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation. According to them, the prosecution should not have included the phrase “wearing masks and/or other forms of disguise” in the information since the prosecution presented testimonial evidence that not all the accused were wearing masks or that their masks fell off.
Whether accused-appellants’ constitutional rights were violated
No. The inclusion of the phrase “wearing masks and/or other forms of disguise” in the information does not violate their constitutional rights. Every aggravating circumstance being alleged must be stated in the information. Failure to state an aggravating circumstance, even if duly proven at trial, will not be appreciated as such. It was therefore incumbent on the prosecution to state the aggravating circumstance of “wearing masks and/or other forms of disguise” in the information in order for all the evidence, introduced to that effect, to be admissible by the trial court.
The introduction of the prosecution of testimonial evidence that tends to prove that the accused were masked but the masks fell off does not prevent them from including disguise as an aggravating circumstance. What is important in alleging disguise as an aggravating circumstance is that there was a concealment of identity by the accused. The inclusion of disguise in the information was enough to sufficiently apprise the accused that in the commission of the offense they were being charged with, they tried to conceal their identity.
The introduction of evidence which shows that some of the accused were not wearing masks is also not violative of their right to be informed of their offenses. The information charges conspiracy among the accused. Conspiracy presupposes that “the act of one is the act of all.” This would mean all the accused had been one in their plan to conceal their identity even if there was evidence later on to prove that some of them might not have done so.
People of the Philippines v.Rolly Canares y Almanares
G.R. No. 174065, February 18, 2009, Brion, J.
It is not necessary to state in the information the precise date when the offense was committed, except when it is an essential element of the offense.
Two informations were filed against Canares charging him of the crimes of rape and attempted rape in relation with RA 7610. The first information provided that sometime between the years 1992 to 1995, Canares raped AAA who was then only nine years old. The second information on the other hand provided that on March 25, 1999, Canares attempted to rape AAA. The trial court acquitted Canares of the crime of attempted rape but found him guilty of the crime of rape. On appeal, the decision of the trial court was affirmed by the CA.
Canares argues that he should not have been convicted of rape because the information was defective for it failed to specify with certainty when the alleged rape was committed.
Whether the exact date and time of the commission of the rape should be alleged in the information
No. An information, under Section 6, Rule 110 of the 2000 Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, is deemed sufficient if it states the name of the accused; the designation of the offense given by the statute; the acts or omissions complained of as constituting the offense; the name of the offended party; the approximate date of the commission of the offense; and the place where the offense was committed. Section 11 of the same Rule also provides that it is not necessary to state in the complaint or information the precise date the offense was committed except when the date of commission is a material element of the offense. The offense may thus be alleged to have been committed on a date as near as possible to the actual date of its commission. At the minimum, an indictment must contain all the essential elements of the offense charged to enable the accused to properly meet the charge and duly prepare for his defense.
When the time given in the information is not the essence of the offense, such time does not need to be proven as alleged; the complaint will be sustained if the proof shows that the offense was committed at any time within the period of the statute of limitations and before the commencement of the action.
People of the Philippines v.Olivia Aleth Garcia Cristobal
G.R. NO. 159450, March 30, 2011, Bersamin, J.
It is not necessary to state in the information the precise date when the offense was committed, except when it is an essential element of the offense.
An Information was filed against Cristobal charging her of qualified theft. The RTC found Cristobal guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Cristobal appealed, but the CA affirmed the decision of the RTC. Hence, this petition.
Cristobal argues that the information was defective because it was stated therein that the crime was committed on or about January 2, 1996, although the evidence presented during trial shows that the crime and the actual taking was committed on December 29, 1996. According to her, she could not be convicted on the basis of the information for it unduly prejudice her rights as an accused to be informed of the charges against her as to enable her to prepare for her defense.
Whether the information filed was fatally defective
No. The information was sufficient because it stated the approximate time of the commission of the offense through the words “on or about the 2nd of January, 1996,”and the accused could reasonably deduce the nature of the criminal act with which she was charged from a reading of its contents as well as gather by such reading whatever she needed to know about the charge to enable her to prepare her defense.
The information did not have to state the precise date when the offense was committed, considering that the date was not a material ingredient of the offense. As such, the offense of qualified theft could be alleged to be committed on a date as near as possible to the actual date of its commission.Verily, December 29, 1995and January 2, 1996 were dates only four days apart.
Felicisimo F. Lazarte, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan (First Division) and People of the Philippines
G.R. No. 180122, March 13, 2009, Tinga, J.
In an information filed against an accused, the acts or omissions complained of must be alleged in such form as is sufficient to enable a person of common understanding to know what offense is intended to be charged and enable the court to know the proper judgment. The information must allege clearly and accurately the elements of the crime charged. What facts and circumstances are necessary to be included therein must be determined by reference to the definition and elements of the specific crimes.
A.C. Cruz Construction was awarded by the National Housing Authority (NHA) the original contract for the infrastructure works on the Pahanocoy Sites and Services Project. However, for failure to comply with the work instruction, A.C. Cruz Construction’s services were terminated by the NHA. But since A.C. Cruz Construction had already started with the project, it was paid an amount in proportion to what have they accomplished. Subsequently however, the COA found out that the alleged accomplishments of A.C. Cruz Construction were just ghost activities. An information was filed against several NHA Officials, including Lazarte, Jr., for allegedly conspiring with one another to cause the amount of P232,629.35 to be paid to A.C. Cruz Construction.
Lazarte, Jr. moved to quash the information filed against them alleging that the Information was defective because the facts charged in the information do not constitute an offense and that the prosecution failed to determine the individual participation of all the accused in the information. The Sandiganbayan denied Lazarte, Jr.’s motion to quash. His motion for reconsideration was denied.
Whether the information was defective
No. The information in this case alleges the essential elements of violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019. The information specifically alleges that petitioner, Espinosa and Lobrido are public officers being then the Department Manager, Project Management Officer A and Supervising Engineer of the NHA respectively; in such capacity and committing the offense in relation to the office and while in the performance of their official functions, connived, confederated and mutually helped each other and with accused Arceo C. Cruz, with deliberate intent through manifest partiality and evident bad faith gave unwarranted benefits to the latter, A.C. Cruz Construction and to themselves, to the damage and prejudice of the government. The felonious act consisted of causing to be paid to A.C. Cruz Construction public funds in the amount of P232,628.35 supposedly for excavation and road filling works despite the fact that no such works were undertaken.
Conspiracy can be a mode of committing a crime or it may be constitutive of the crime itself. Generally, conspiracy is not a crime in our jurisdiction. It is punished as a crime only when the law fixes a penalty for its commission such as in conspiracy to commit treason, rebellion and sedition.
When conspiracy is charged as a crime, the act of conspiring and all the elements of said crime must be set forth in the complaint or information. But when conspiracy is charged only as the mode of committing the crime, there is less necessity of reciting its particularities in the information because conspiracy is not the gravamen of the offense charged. The conspiracy is significant only because it changes the criminal liability of all the accused in the conspiracy and makes them answerable as co-principals regardless of the degree of their participation in the crime. The liability of the conspirators is collective and each participant will be equally responsible for the acts of others, for the act of one is the act of all.
DATE OF COMMISSION OF OFFENSE
People of the Philippines v.Gualberto Cinco y Soyosa
G.R. No. 186460, December 4, 2009, CHICO-NAZARIO, J.
It is not necessary to state in the information the precise date the offense was committed except when it is a material ingredient of the offense. The offense may be alleged to have been committed on a date as near as possible to the actual date of its commission.
Two separate informations were filed against appellant Cinco charging him of rape. The RTC found Cinco guilty of the crime charged. On appeal, the CA affirmed in toto the decision of the RTC. Hence, this petition.
Cinco maintains that the approximate times and dates of the commission of the offense must be stated in the informations. According to him, since the dates of the alleged rapes indicated in the informations were indefinite, his constitutional right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him was violated.
Whether the informations were fatally defective
No. In rape cases, failure to specify the exact dates or times when the rapes occurred does not ipso facto make the information defective on its face. The date or time of the commission of rape is not a material ingredient of the said crime because the gravamenof rape is carnal knowledge of a woman through force and intimidation. The precise time when the rape took place has no substantial bearing on its commission and need not be stated with absolute accuracy. It is sufficient that the complaint or information states that the crime has been committed at any time as near as possible to the date of its actual commission.
People of the Philippines v.Romar Teodoro y Vallejo
G.R. No. 172372, December 4, 2009, Brion, J.
In statutory rape, time is not an essential element except to prove that the victim was a minor below twelve years of age at the time of the commission of the offense.
Three informations were filed against appellant Teodoro charging him of the crime of statutory rape for allegedly raping the victim AAA. The RTC ruled in favor of the prosecution and found Teodoro guilty beyond reasonable doubt of two counts of statutory rape. On appeal, the CA affirmed in toto the decision of the RTC. Hence, this petition.
Teodoro questions his conviction alleging that one of the informations, was defective for failure to state the exact date of the commission of the crime.
Whether the information was defective
No. An information, under Section 6, Rule 110 of the 2000 Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, is deemed sufficient if it states the name of the accused; the designation of the offense given by the statute; the acts or omissions complained of as constituting the offense; the name of the offended party; the approximate date of the commission of the offense; and the place where the offense was committed. Section 11 of the same Rule also provides that it is not necessary to state in the complaint or information the precise date the offense was committed, except when the date of commission is a material element of the offense. The offense may thus be alleged to have been committed on a date as near as possible to the actual date of its commission. At the minimum, an indictment must contain all the essential elements of the offense charged to enable the accused to properly meet the charge and duly prepare for his defense.
The information in Criminal Case No. 8539 states that the offense was committed in the first week of July 1995; it likewise alleged that the victim was below 12 years old at the time of the incident. These allegations sufficiently informed the appellant that he was being charged of rape of a child who was below 12 years of age. Afforded adequate opportunity to prepare his defense, he cannot now complain that he was deprived of his right to be informed of the nature of the accusation against him.
DESIGNATION OF OFFENSE
People of the Philippines v.Adelado Anguac y Ragadao
G.R. No. 176744, June 5, 2009, Velasco, Jr., J.
The character of a crime is determined neither by the caption or preamble of the information nor by the specification of the provision of law alleged to have been violated, they being conclusions of law, but by the recital of the ultimate facts and circumstances in the information.
Two separate informations were filed against Anguac charging him of rape and violation of RA 7610, Section 5(a). The informations were docketed as Criminal Case Nos. RTC 2756-I and RTC 2757-I, respectively. After trial, the RTC ruled in favor of the prosecution and found Anguac guilty beyond reasonable doubt. On appeal, the CA affirmed the decision of the RTC but treated the crime of rape charged in Criminal Case No. RTC 2757-I as a violation of Sec. 5(b) of RA 7610 instead of Sec. 5(a) as found by the RTC. Hence, this petition.
Whether the CA erred in convicting Anguac for violating RA 7610, Section 5(b)
No. While the Information pertaining to that criminal case charged accused-appellant with violation of Sec. 5(a) of RA 7610, the facts alleged in it constitute elements of a violation of Sec. 5(b) of the same law. The character of the crime is determined neither by the caption or preamble of the information nor by the specification of the provision of law alleged to have been violated, they being conclusions of law, but by the recital of the ultimate facts and circumstances in the information. Even if the designation of the crime in the information of Criminal Case No. RTC 2757-I was defective, what is controlling is the allegation of the facts in the information that comprises a crime and adequately describes the nature and cause of the accusation.
Sec. 5(a) of RA 7610 refers to engaging in or promoting, facilitating, or inducing child prostitution. Sec. 5(b), on the other hand, relates to offenders who commit the act of sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct with a child exploited in prostitution or subject to other sexual abuse.The informations charged accused-appellant with having sexual congress with AAA through force, threats, and intimidation. These allegations more properly fall under a charge under Sec. 5(b).
People of the Philippines v.Leo Quemeggen and Janito De Luna
G.R. No. 178205, July 27, 2009, Nachura, J.
The nature and character of the crime charged are determined not by the designation of the specific crime, but by the facts alleged in the information.
Four men, Quemeggen and De Luna were arrested for allegedly robbing the passengers of a jeepney. However, Quemeggen was able to escape which prompted the other police officers to run after Quemeggen. The three suspects were left under the care of a police officer, Suing, while the other police officers pursued Quemeggen. Taking advantage of the situation, the three suspects ganged up on Suing; de Luna held his hand, while the other suspect known as Weng-Weng shot him on the head. The suspects escaped. Although Suing was brought to the hospital, he eventually died.
An information was filed against appellants charging them of the crime of Robbery with Homicide. The RTC found them guilty. The CA however modified the decision of the trial court and convicted Quemeggen of Robbery, and de Luna of the separate crimes of Robbery and Homicide. Hence, this petition.
Whether the CA’s convictions against Quemeggen and de Luna are erroneous
No. Though appellants were charged with Robbery with Homicide, Quemeggen is guilty of robbery, and de Luna of two separate crimes of robbery and homicide. Controlling in an information should not be the title of the complaint or the designation of the offense charged or the particular law or part thereof allegedly violated, these being, by and large, mere conclusions of law made by the prosecutor, but the description of the crime charged and the particular facts therein recited.There should also be no problem in convicting an accused of two or more crimes erroneously charged in one information or complaint, but later proven to be independent crimes, as if they were made the subject of separate complaints or informations. As worded, the Information sufficiently alleged all the elements of both felonies.
Sheala P. Matrido v. People of the Philippines
G.R. No. 179061, July 13, 2009, Carpio-Morales, J.
It is the allegations in the information that determine the nature of the offense, not the technical name given by the public prosecutor in the preamble of the information.
Matrido was the credit and collection assistant of Empire East Land Holdings, Inc. She was tasked to collect payments from the clients of Empire East. For failure of Matrido to remit the payments she collected from the clients of Empire East, an information was filed against her charging her of qualified theft. The RTC found her guilty. On appeal, the CA affirmed the decision of the RTC. Hence, this petition.
Matrido argues that her right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against her was violated when she was convicted for the crime of qualified theft despite the fact that the prosecution presented evidence trying to prove estafa.
Whether the CA erred in affirming the RTC’s conviction against Matrido for qualified theft
No. It is of no concern to the accused what is the technical name of the crime of which he stands charged. It in no way aids him in a defense on the merits. That to which his attention should be directed, and in which he should be most interested, are the facts alleged. The real question is not did he commit a crime given in the law some technical and specific name, but did he perform the acts alleged in the body of the information in the manner therein set forth.
Petitioner took, intending to gain and without the use of force upon things or violence against or intimidation of persons, a personal property belonging to private complainant, without its knowledge and consent, gravely abusing the confidence reposed on her as credit and collection assistant who had access to payments from private complainant’s clients, specifically from one Amante Dela Torre.
MICHAEL JOHN Z. MALTO v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES
G.R. No. 164733 September 21, 2007, Corona, J.
An erroneous designation of the offense in the information does not vitiate the same if the facts alleged clearly recite the facts constituting the crime charged.
An information was filed against Michael John Z. Malto, a philosophy professor, for an offense designated as child prostitution under Sec. 5 (a) of R.A. 7610. However, the information alleged that Malto “did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously take advantage and exert influence, relationship and moral ascendancy and induce and/or seduce his student at Assumption College, complainant, AAA, a minor of 17 years old, to indulge in sexual intercourse and lascivious conduct for several times with him as in fact said accused has carnal knowledge,” which properly falls under Sec. 5 (b) of R.A. 7610.
Whether Malto may be convicted in spite of the wrong designation of the offense in the information
Yes. The accused is entitled to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him to avoid surprises on the accused and to allow him the opportunity to prepare his defense accordingly. Hence, a complaint or information is sufficient only if it contains the designation of the offense, as given by the statue, or at least refer to the section or subsection of the statute punishing it.
However, what determines the crime charged in the information is not really the title of the information or the designation of the offense, but the actual facts as recited therein. In this case, even if the trial and appellate courts followed the wrong designation of the offense, Malto could be convicted of the offense on the basis of the facts recited in the information and duly proven during trial.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. BERNABE PAREJA Y CRUZ
G.R. No. 202122, January 15, 2014, Leonardo-De Castro, J.
An accused cannot be convicted of a crime which is not indicated or included in the offense as charged in the information.
An information was filed against Pareja, charging him of raping his stepdaughter. During trial, the prosecution was able to prove that Pareja penetrated AAA’s anal orifice. The trial court convicted Pareja of rape by sexual assault.
Whether Pareja may be convicted of rape by sexual assault
No. The accused has the constitutional right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him to avoid surprises on the accused and to allow him the opportunity to prepare his defense accordingly.
Rape by sexual assault is not indicated in the information, which charged Pareja with rape by carnal knowledge. Rape by sexual assault is not necessarily included under rape by carnal knowledge and vice versa; the two offenses are fundamentally different from each other. Rape by sexual assault is committed by inserting the penis into another person’s mouth or anal orifice, or any instrument or object into the genital or anal orifice of another person; while rape by carnal knowledge is committed only through penile penetration of the vagina. Pareja may not be convicted of rape by sexual assault even if it be duly proven by the prosecution during trial.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. GUILLERMO LOMAQUE
G.R. No. 189297, June 5, 2013, Del Castillo, J.
A variance in the mode of commission of the offense as alleged and proved is binding upon the accused if he fails to object to evidence showing that the crime was committed in a different manner than what was alleged.
An information charging Guillermo Lomaque of rape (Paragraph 1 of Article 266-A of the RPC as amended by RA 8353 in relation to Section 5 of RA 7610) was filed. The information alleged that Lomaque “commited acts of sexual assault upon AAA by removing her shorts and inserting his penis inside her vagina and having carnal knowledge of her against her will and without her consent.” During trial, AAA solemnly testified that Lomaque merely put his penis in AAA’s mouth. No objection was heard on the part of Lomaque regarding AAA’s testimony.
Whether Lomaque may be convicted of the crime of rape by sexual assault
Yes. The information states that the crime was committed by Lomaque’s act of inserting his penis inside AAA’s vagina. However, the latter testified later on that Lomaque merely put his penis in her mouth. Lomaque’s failure to register any objection that the information alleged a different mode of the commission of the crime of rape was fatal to his cause. He may be convicted of the crime of rape by sexual assault.
NAME OF THE ACCUSED
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. PABLO AMODIA
G.R. No. 173791, April 7, 2009, Brion, J.
A mistake in the name of the accused in the information is not equivalent, and does not necessarily amount to, a mistake in the identity of the accused as the person who committed the crime, especially when sufficient evidence is adduced to show that the accused is pointed to as one of the perpetrators of the crime.
Pablo Amodia and three other accused allegedly killed Felix Olandria by stabbing. Their neighbors in Makati City saw Amodia as among the assailants. An information was filed charging “Pablo Amodia” and his fellow accused of the crime of murder. Amodia raises the defense of mistaken identity, claiming that his real first name is “Pablito” and not “Pablo” as stated in the information. During trial, two of the neighbors who were within a few meters away from the scene testified. They consistently and categorically pinpointed Pablo/Pablito Amodia as one of the persons who killed Felix Olandria.
Whether Amodia may be convicted even if his name is misspelled in the information
Yes. Pablo/Pablito Amodia was positively identified by his neighbors, who had known him for years. The association of the eyewitnesses with Pablo/Pablito Amodia, whom they knew for years, rendered them familiar with Pablo/Pablito, making it highly unlikely that they could have committed a mistake in identifying him as one of the assailants. In any case, whether or not Pablito’s name is misspelled in the information is immaterial and will not render his identification as a participant in the stabbing uncertain.
QUALIFYING AND AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCES
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. MARCELO MENDOZA
G.R. No. 132923-24, June 6, 2002, Panganiban, J.
Aggravating and qualifying circumstances must be alleged in the information; otherwise they cannot be appreciated.
Two informations were filed against Marcelo Mendoza, charging him with simple rape for having carnal knowledge of one Michelle G. Tolentino on two different occasions in the year 1995. During trial, the prosecution presented evidence to prove the qualifying circumstance of use of a deadly weapon. As a result, the trial court convicted Mendoza of two counts of qualified rape, punishable by death.
Whether the qualifying circumstance of use of a deadly weapon may be appreciated
No. Since the qualifying circumstance of use of a deadly weapon was not alleged in the information, it would be a denial of Mendoza’s right to be informed of the charges against him if he is charged with simple rape and be convicted of qualified rape punishable by death. Mendoza cannot be punished for an offense graver than that for which he was charged.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. BARTOLOME TAMPUS AND IDA MONTESCLAROS
G.R. No. 181084 June 16, 2009, Puno, C. J.
Every information must state the qualifying and the aggravating circumstances attending the commission of the crime for them to be considered in the imposition of the penalty.
An information was filed in court charging Montesclaros of qualified rape. The information alleged that Montesclaros conspired with and gave permission to Tampus for him have carnal knowledge of AAA, a minor, while AAA was drunk. During trial, the prosecution was able to prove that Montesclaros was AAA’s mother and that she caused the intoxication of her daughter prior to the sexual congress.
Whether Montesclaros should be convicted for qualified rape
No. Both the circumstances of minority and the relationship of the offender to the victim should be alleged in the information before the qualifying circumstance under Article 266-B (1) of the RPC may be appreciated. Since only the minority of the victim was alleged in the information, the failure to allege the relationship of the offender to the victim meant that the qualifying circumstance found under Art. 266-B (1) of the RPC should not be appreciated. Montesclaros may only be convicted of the crime of simple rape.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. RICKY ALFREDO Y NORMAN
G.R. No. 188560, December 15, 2010, Velasco, Jr., J.
Exemplary damages may be granted when the circumstances of the case show the highly reprehensible or outrageous conduct of the offender, even if no aggravating circumstances were alleged in the information.
Two informations were filed against Alfredo charging him with rape by carnal knowledge and rape by sexual assault of AAA, a pregnant woman. Both informations did not contain any aggravating circumstance. The trial court eventually convicted Alfredo and ordered him to pay exemplary damages. Alfredo questions the award of exemplary damages, claiming that exemplary damages may only be awarded if the crime was attended by at least one aggravating circumstance as alleged and proved before the court.
Whether AAA may recover exemplary damages
Yes. Article 2230 of the Civil Code states that “[i]n criminal offenses, exemplary damages as a part of the civil liability may be imposed when the crime was committed with one or more aggravating circumstances. x x x” The Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, in turn, requires that the aggravating circumstances must both be alleged and proved before the same may be appreciated in court.
However, since Article 2229 of the Civil Code provides that exemplary damages are corrective in nature and are intended to serve as a deterrent to serious wrongdoings, exemplary damages may thus be awarded in criminal cases even in the absence of an aggravating circumstance. To apply Article 2230 of the Civil Code strictissimi juris in criminal cases defeats the underlying public policy behind the award of exemplary damages to set a public example or correction for the public good.
Alfredo sexually assaulting a pregnant woman shows moral corruption, perversity, and wickedness. The award of exemplary damages under Article 2229 of the Civil Code is warranted, even if no aggravating circumstance is alleged or proved in the criminal case.
AMENDMENT AND SUBSTITUTION OF COMPLAINT OR INFORMATION
DATU GUIMID P. MATALAM v. THE SECOND DIVISION OF THE
SANDIGANBAYAN AND THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES
G.R. No. 165751, April 12, 2005, Chico-Nazario, J.
Substantial amendments to the information after the plea are generally proscribed and requires a new preliminary investigation. However, the same may be allowed if it is beneficial to the accused, or if the charge is related or included in the original information.
An information was filed before the Sandiganbayan, charging Matalam, et al. with violation of Sec. 3 (e) of Republic Act No. 3019, for their refusal to pay the money claims of DAR employees during the period when said employees were illegally terminated. After the defense had presented its evidence, the court admitted the amended information submitted by the prosecution. The amended information charged only Matalam still with violation of Sec. 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, but this time for the illegal dismissal of the DAR employees. Matalam prayed for another preliminary investigation.
Whether another preliminary investigation should be conducted in view of the amended information
Yes. After the plea is entered, only a formal amendment may be allowed, and the same must be made with leave of court and without prejudice to the rights of the accused.
The amendments made are substantial. A substantial amendment consists of the recital of facts constituting the offense charged and determinative of the jurisdiction of the court. All other matters are merely of form. Although the charge of refusal to pay money claims and illegal dismissal are related, the prohibited act allegedly committed changed. Moreover, although the two offenses fall under the same provision of the statute, the element of evident bad faith in refusing to pay money claims is different from evident bad faith in illegal dismissal. Since the case did not fall under the exemptions where substantial amendment may be allowed without a new preliminary investigation, and since Matalam did not waive his right, another preliminary investigation should be conducted.
EDUARDO G. RICARZE v. COURT OF APPEALS, PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, CALTEX PHILIPPINES,
INC., PHILIPPINE COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL BANK (PCIBANK)
G.R. No. 160451, February 9, 2007, Callejo, Sr., J.
There is a formal amendment when a defense under the information as it originally stood would be available after the amendment is made, and whether any evidence defendant might have would be equally applicable to the information in the one form as in the other.
Eduardo G. Ricarze, an employee of Caltex Philippines, Inc., obtained Caltex’s PCIBank checks payable to a Dante Gutierrez. Ricarze forged the signatures of Caltex’s authorized signatories and the payee and deposited the check. PCIBank cleared the check and appropriated Caltex’s funds to Ricarze.
Caltex discovered the scheme and filed a complaint for estafa against Ricarze. Unknown to the public prosecutor, PCIBank remitted back to Caltex the amounts it paid to Ricarze. Two informations for estafa were filed designating Caltex as the offended party. After arraignment, PCIBank filed a motion to amend the information to correct the erroneous designation of the offended party.
Whether an amendment in the information is allowed after arraignment
Yes. After the entry of a plea, only a formal amendment may be made but with leave of court and if it does not prejudice the rights of the accused. An amendment to an information which does not change the nature of the crime alleged therein does not affect the essence of the offense or deprive the accused of an opportunity to meet the new averment had each been held to be one of form and not of substance.
The substitution of Caltex by PCIB is not a substantial amendment. The substitution did not alter the basis of the charge in both informations, nor did it result in any prejudice to Ricarze. The documentary evidence in the form of the forged checks remained the same, and all such evidence was available to petitioner well before the trial. Ricarze cannot claim any surprise by virtue of the substitution.
SSGT. JOSE M. PACOY v. HON. AFABLE E. CAJIGAL, PEOPLE
OF THE PHILIPPINES and OLYMPIO L. ESCUETA
G.R. No. 157472, September 28, 2007, Austria-Martinez, J.
In determining whether the change effected an amendment or a substitution of the information, the test is that where the second information involves the same offense, or an offense which necessarily includes or is necessarily included in the first information, an amendment of the information is sufficient.
An information for homicide was filed, alleging that SSGT. Jose M. Pacoy “with intent to kill, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously shot his commanding officer x x x.” The information likewise contains the statement, “With the aggravating circumstance of killing [his commanding officer] in disregard of his rank.” The accused pleaded not guilty to the charge of homicide.
On the same day after the arraignment, Hon. Afable E. Cajigal ordered the prosecutor to amend the information to murder, based on the Judge’s view that the aggravating circumstance of disregard of rank qualified the crime to murder. The designation of the offense in the information was amended accordingly.
Whether the change in the designation of the offense requires another preliminary investigation
No. Where the new information charges an offense which is distinct from that initially charged, a substitution is in order, which results in the dismissal of the original information, the conduct of another preliminary investigation, and another arraignment under the new information.
A change in the designation of the offense as found in the caption of the information constitutes a mere formal amendment and not a substantial amendment or a substitution of the original information. Apart from the caption containing the designation of the offense, no other change was made regarding the recital of facts which constitute the offense charged or determine the jurisdiction of the court.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. ARMANDO CHINGH y PARCIA
G.R. No. 178323, March 16, 2011, Peralta, J.
When two or more offenses are charged in a single complaint or information but the accused fails to object to it before trial, the court may convict the appellant of as many as are charged and proved, and impose on him the penalty for each offense, setting out separately the findings of fact and law in each offense.
Armando, in an information, was being charged with two offenses, rape under paragraph 1 (d), Art. 266-A of the RPC, and rape as an act of sexual assault under paragraph 2, Article 266-A. Armando was charged with having carnal knowledge of VVV, who was under 12 years of age at the time, under paragraph 1 (d) of Article 266-A, and he was also charged with committing an act of sexual assault by inserting his finger into the genital of VVV under the second paragraph of Article 266-A. The prosecution sought to establish that Armando inserted his penis, and also his finger in VVV’s private part.
Whether Armando can be convicted two offenses in one information
Yes. The information has sufficiently informed accused-appellant that he is being charged with two counts of rape. Two offenses were charged, which is a violation of Section 13, Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, which states that “[a] complaint or information must charge only one offense, except when the law prescribes a single punishment for various offenses.” Nonetheless, since Armando failed to file a motion to quash the information, he can be convicted with two counts of rape according to Section 3, Rule 120 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure.
VENUE FOR CRIMINAL ACTIONS
VICENTE FOZ, JR. and DANNY G. FAJARDO v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES
G.R. No. 167764, October 9, 2009, Peralta, J.
Jurisdiction of a court over a criminal case is determined by the allegations of the complaint or information, and the offense must have been committed or any one of its essential ingredients took place within the territorial jurisdiction of the court.
A libel case was filed by Dr. Portigo against the petitioners at RTC Iloilo. In the information, it was alleged that Dr. Edgar Portigo is a physician and medical practitioner in Iloilo City and the alleged libelous article against him was written in Panay News, a daily publication with considerable circulation in the City of Iloilo and throughout the region. The RTC found the petitioners guilty. The CA affirmed. In their petition to the SC, petitioners raise for the first time the issue that the information charging them with libel did not contain allegations sufficient to vest jurisdiction in the RTC of Iloilo City.
Whether the RTC of Iloilo City, Branch 23 had jurisdiction over the libel case
No. Considering that the information failed to allege the venue requirements for a libel case under Art. 360 of the RPC, the RTC of Iloilo City had no jurisdiction to hear this case.The criminal action and civil action for damages in cases of written defamations shall be filed simultaneously or separately with the CFI of the province or city where the libelous article is printed and first published or where any of the offended parties actually resides at the time of the commission of the offense.
The allegations in the information only showed that Iloilo was the place where Panay News was in considerable circulation but did not establish that the said publication was printed and first published in Iloilo City. Also, while the information alleges that Dr. Edgar Portigo is a physician and medical practitioner in Iloilo City, such allegation did not clearly indicate that he was actually residing in Iloilo City at the time of the commission of the offense. It is possible that Dr. Portigo was actually residing in another place.
MARY ROSE A. BOTO v. SENIOR ASSISTANT CITY PROSECUTOR VINCENT L. VILLENA, CITY PROSECUTOR ARCHIMEDES V. MANABAT and ASSISTANT CITY PROSECUTOR PATRICK NOEL P. DE DIOS
A.C. No. 9684, September 18, 2013, Mendoza, J.
Jurisdiction is conferred by law and is not within the courts, let alone the parties themselves, to determine or conveniently set aside.
An information was filed charging Boto with libel before the MeTC. Before the scheduled arraignment, she filed a motion to quash the information on the ground of lack of jurisdiction as the crime of libel falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of the RTC and that there was no such crime as internet libel. Villena, the trial prosecutor, opposed the motion to quash and contended that the court had already determined probable cause when it issued the warrant of arrest, effectively mooting the resolution of any issue concerning jurisdiction, venue and sufficiency of evidence against the complainant.
Whether the MeTC had jurisdiction over the offense of libel
No. Art. 360 of the RPC explicitly provides that jurisdiction over libel cases are lodged with the RTC. The criminal and civil action for damages in cases of written defamations shall be filed simultaneously or separately with the RTC of the province or city where the libelous article is printed and first published or where any of the offended parties actually resides at the time of the commission of the offense.
Jurisdiction cannot be waived except for those judicially recognizable grounds like estoppel. It is not mooted by an action of a court in an erroneously filed case. When the law or procedure is so elementary, not to know, or to act as if one does not know it, constitutes gross ignorance of the law, even without the complainant having to prove malice or bad faith.
HECTOR TREAS v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES
G. R. No. 195002, January 25, 2012, Sereno, J.
In criminal cases, venue is jurisdictional.
A criminal case for estafa was filed against Atty. Treas before the RTC of Makati City. Elizabeth alleged that she entrusted to Atty. Treas an amount for the titling of a property. For failure to transfer the title of the property, Atty. Treas issued to Elizabeth a check for refund. When the said check was deposited at Equitable PCI Bank dela Rosa-Rada Branch at Makati City, the same was dishonored by the drawee bank.
Petitioner asserts that the prosecution witness failed to allege that the acts material to estafa had occurred in Makati City, that nowhere in the evidence presented by the prosecution does it show the money was given to and received by petitioner in Makati City, that the Deed of Sale prepared by petitioner was signed and notarized in Iloilo City and that the only time Makati City was mentioned was with respect to the time when the check provided by petitioner was dishonored by Equitable-PCI Bank in its dela Rosa-Rada Branch in Makati. Petitioner contends that the trial court failed to acquire jurisdiction over the case.
Whether the RTC of Makati City had jurisdiction over the estafa case
No. A court cannot exercise jurisdiction over a person charged with an offense committed outside its limited territory. Jurisdiction over the subject matter in a criminal case cannot be conferred upon the court by the accused, by express waiver or otherwise. That jurisdiction is conferred by the sovereign authority that organized the court and is given only by law in the manner and form prescribed by law.
Although the prosecution alleged that the check issued by petitioner was dishonored in a bank in Makati, such dishonor is not an element of estafa under Art. 315, par. 1 (b) of the RPC. There being no showing that the offense was committed within Makati, the RTC of that city has no jurisdiction over the case.
INTERVENTION OF OFFENDED PARTY
LEE PUE LIONG a.k.a. PAUL LEE v. CHUA PUE CHIN LEE
G.R. No. 181658, August 7, 2013, Villarama, Jr. J.
The offended party in the commission of a crime, public or private, is the party to whom the offender is civilly liable, and therefore the private individual to whom the offender is civilly liable is the offended party.
Petitioner, on behalf of Centillion Holdings, Inc. (CHI), caused the filing of a verified Petition for the Issuance of an Owner’s Duplicate Copy which covers a property owned by CHI which was subsequently granted. Respondent, joined by her brother Nixon Lee, filed an Omnibus Motion praying, among others, that the Order be set aside claiming that petitioner made a willful and deliberate assertion of falsehood in his verified petition, affidavit and testimony, as he perfectly knew that respondent was in possession of the owner’s duplicate copy, the latter being the Corporate Treasurer and custodian of vital documents of CHI. He thus accused petitioner of committing perjury.
The City Prosecutor filed the information for perjury, punishable under Art. 183 RPC. At trial, petitioner’s counsel moved in open court that respondent and her lawyer in this case should be excluded from participating in the case since perjury is a public offense and there is no mention of any private offended party. Petitioner asserts that respondent is not the proper offended party that may intervene in this case.
Whether respondent may intervene in the perjury case
Yes. Section 12, Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, as amended, defines an offended party as “the person against whom or against whose property the offense was committed.”
Even assuming that no civil liability was alleged or proved in the perjury case being tried in the MeTC, whether public or private crimes are involved, it is erroneous for the trial court to consider the intervention of the offended party by counsel as merely a matter of tolerance. Where the private prosecution has asserted its right to intervene in the proceedings, that right must be respected. The right reserved by the Rules to the offended party is that of intervening for the sole purpose of enforcing the civil liability borne by the criminal act and not of demanding punishment of the accused. Such intervention is always subject to the direction and control of the public prosecutor.