Zaldivia v. Reyes Jr.

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  EN BANC [G.R. No. 102342. July 3, 1992.]LUZ M. ZALDIVIALUZ M. ZALDIVIA,  petitioner  , vs.vs.  HON. ANDRES B. REYES, JR., in hisHON. ANDRES B. REYES, JR., in hiscapacity as Acting Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court,capacity as Acting Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court,Fourth Judicial Region, Branch 76, San Mateo, Rizal, and PEOPLE OFFourth Judicial Region, Branch 76, San Mateo, Rizal, and PEOPLE OFTHE PHILIPPINESTHE PHILIPPINES,  respondents  . Hector B  .  Almeyda   for petitioner.SYLLABUSSYLLABUS1. REMEDIAL LAW; PRESCRIPTION; 1985 RULES ON CRIMINAL PROCEDURE;PRESCRIPTIVE PERIOD DOES NOT APPLY TO OFFENSES SUBJECT TO SUMMARYPROCEDURE. — Section 1, Rule 110 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure meaningfullybegins with the phrase, for offenses not subject to the rule on summary procedure inspecial cases, which plainly signifies that the section does not apply to offenses which aresubject to summary procedure. The phrase in all cases appearing in the last paragraphobviously refers to the cases covered by the Section, that is, those offenses not governedby the Rule on Summary Procedure. This interpretation conforms to the canon that wordsin a statute should be read in relation to and not isolation from the rest of the measure, todiscover the true legislative intent.2. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; SECTION (B) REFERS TO SECTION 32(2) OF BP NO. 129. — Whereparagraph (b) of the section does speak of offenses falling under the jurisdiction of theMunicipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts, the obvious reference is toSection 32(2) of B.P. No. 129, vesting in such courts: Exclusive srcinal jurisdiction over alloffenses punishable with imprisonment of not exceeding four years and two months, or afine of not more than four thousand pesos, or both such fine and imprisonment, regardlessof other imposable accessory or other penalties, including the civil liability arising fromsuch offenses or predicated thereon, irrespective of kind, nature, value, or amount thereof;Provided, however, That in offenses involving damage to property through criminalnegligence they shall have exclusive srcinal jurisdiction where the imposable fine does notexceed twenty thousand pesos. These offenses are not covered by the Rule on SummaryProcedure.3. ID.; ID.; RULE ON SUMMARY PROCEDURE; APPLIES TO VIOLATIONS OF MUNICIPALOR CITY ORDINANCES. — As it is clearly provided in the Rule on Summary Procedure thatamong the offenses it covers are violations of municipal or city ordinances, it shouldfollow that the charge against the petitioner, which is for violation of a municipal ordinanceof Rodriguez, is governed by that rule and not Section 1 of Rule 110.4. ID.; ID.; ID.; PRESCRIPTIVE PERIOD STARTS ONLY WHEN THE CASE IS ACTUALLYFILED IN COURT. — Under Section 9 of the Rule on Summary Procedure, the complaint orinformation shall be filed directly in court without need of a prior preliminary examinationor preliminary investigation. Both parties agree that this provision does not prevent theprosecutor from conducting a preliminary investigation if he wants to. However, the caseshall be deemed commenced only when it is filed in court, whether or not the prosecutiondecides to conduct a preliminary investigation. This means that the running of the CD Technologies Asia, Inc. ©  prescriptive period shall be halted on the date the case is actually filed in court and not onany date before that.5. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; INTERPRETATION IN CONSONANCE WITH ACT NO. 3326. — Thisinterpretation is in consonance with Act No. 3326 which says that the period ofprescription shall be suspended when proceedings are instituted against the guilty party. The proceedings referred to in Section 2 thereof are judicial proceedings, contrary to thesubmission of the Solicitor General that they include administrative proceedings. Hiscontention is that we must not distinguish as the law does not distinguish. As a matter offact, it does.6. ID.; ID.; ID.; SPECIAL LAW PREVAILS OVER GENERAL LAW; PRESCRIPTION INCRIMINAL CASES IS A SUBSTANTIVE RIGHT. — The Court feels that if there be a conflictbetween the Rule on Summary Procedure and Section 1 of Rule 110 of the Rules onCriminal Procedure, the former should prevail as the special law. And if there be a conflictbetween Act No. 3326 and Rule 110 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure, the latter mustagain 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 theConstitution. Prescription in criminal cases is a substantive right.7. ID.; ID.; CRIME PRESCRIBES IF THE PROSECUTOR DELAYS INTENTIONALLY OR NOTTHE INSTITUTION OF NECESSARY JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS. — The Court realizes thatunder the above interpretation, a crime may prescribe even if the complaint is filedseasonably with the prosecutor's office if, intentionally or not, he delays the institution ofthe 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 reasonablydeduced from their plain language. The remedy is not a distortion of the meaning of therules but a rewording thereof to prevent the problem here sought to be corrected.D E C I S I O ND E C I S I O NCRUZCRUZ, J p :The Court is asked to determine the applicable law specifying the prescriptive period forviolations of municipal ordinances.The petitioner is charged with quarrying for commercial purposes without a mayor'spermit in violation of Ordinance No. 2, Series of 1988, of the Municipality of Rodriguez, inthe Province of Rizal. LibLex The offense was allegedly committed on May 11, 1990. 11  The referral-complaint of thepolice was received by the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Rizal on May 30, 1990. 22 The corresponding information was filed with the Municipal Trial Court of Rodriguez onOctober 2, 1990. 3The petitioner moved to quash the information on the ground that the crime hadprescribed, but the motion was denied. On appeal to the Regional Trial Court of Rizal, thedenial was sustained by the responded judge. 44 In the present petition for review on certiorari  , the petitioner first argues that the chargeagainst her is governed by the following provisions of the Rule on Summary Procedure: CD Technologies Asia, Inc. ©  SECTION 1. Scope  . — This rule shall govern the procedure in theMetropolitan Trial Courts, the Municipal Trial Courts, and the Municipal CircuitTrial Court in the following cases:xxx xxx xxxB. Criminal Cases:1. Violations of traffic laws, rules and regulations;2. Violations of rental law;3. Violations of municipal or city ordinances; prLL 4. All other criminal cases where the penalty prescribed by law for the offense charged does not exceed six months imprisonment, or a fine of one thousand pesos (P1,000  . 00), or both, irrespective of other impossible penalties, accessory or otherwise, or of the civil liability arising therefrom  . . . . (Emphasis supplied.)xxx xxx xxxSECTION 9. How commenced  . — The prosecution of criminal cases fallingwithin the scope of this Rule shall be either by complaint or by information   fileddirectly in court without need of a prior preliminary examination or preliminaryinvestigation: Provided, however, That in Metropolitan Manila and chartered cities,such cases shall be commenced only by information; Provided, further, That whenthe offense cannot be prosecuted de officio  , the corresponding complaint shall besigned and sworn to before the fiscal by the offended party. She then invokes Act No. 3326, as amended, entitled An Act to Establish Periods ofPrescription for Violations Penalized by Special Acts and Municipal Ordinances and toProvide When Prescription Shall Begin to Run, reading as follows: SECTION 1. Violations penalized by special acts shall, unless otherwiseprovided in such acts, prescribe in accordance with the following rules: . . . Violations penalized by municipal ordinances shall prescribe after two months  .SECTION 2. Prescription shall begin to run from the day of the commissionof the violation of the law, and if the same be not known at the time, from thediscovery 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  .SECTION 3. For the purposes of this Act, special acts shall be acts defining and penalizing violations of law not included in the Penal Code  . (Emphasissupplied) Her conclusion is that as the information was filed way beyond the two-month statutoryperiod from the date of the alleged commission of the offense, the charge against hershould have been dismissed on the ground of prescription.For its part, the prosecution contends that the prescriptive period was suspended uponthe 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 110of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure, providing as follows: LexLib CD Technologies Asia, Inc. ©  SECTION 1. How Instituted  . — For offenses not subject to the rule onsummary procedure in special cases, the institution of criminal action shall be asfollows:a) For offenses falling under the jurisdiction of the Regional TrialCourt, by filing the complaint with the appropriate officer for the purpose ofconducting the requisite preliminary investigation therein;b) For offenses falling under the jurisdiction of the Municipal TrialCourts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts, by filing the complaint directlywith the said courts, or a complaint with the fiscal's office. However, inMetropolitan Manila and other chartered cities, the complaint may be filedonly 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 thecomplaint with the Officer of the Provincial Prosecutor comes under the phrase suchinstitution 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 dictumin Francisco v. Court of Appeals: 55 In view of this diversity of precedents, and in order to provide guidance for Benchand 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 oneestablished by the decisions holding that the filing of the complaint in theMunicipal Court, even if it be merely for purposes of preliminary examination orinvestigation, should, and does, interrupt the period of prescription of the criminalresponsibility, even if the court where the complaint or information is filed can nottry the case on its merits. Several reasons buttress this conclusion: first, the textof 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 withoutdistinguishing whether the complaint is filed in the court for preliminaryexamination or investigation merely, or for action on the merits. Second, even ifthe court where the complaint or information is filed may only proceed toinvestigate the case, its actuations already represent the initial step of theproceedings against the offender. Third, it is unjust to deprive the injured party ofthe 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 isto file the requisite complaint. It is important to note that this decision was promulgated on May 30, 1983, two monthsbefore the promulgation of the Rule on Summary Procedure on August 1, 1983. On theother hand, Section 1 of Rule 110 is new, having been incorporated therein with the revisionof 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 onsummary procedure in special cases, which plainly signifies that the section does notapply to offenses which are subject to summary procedure. The phrase in all cases CD Technologies Asia, Inc. ©
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