G.R. No. 169588, October 07, 2013
JADEWELL PARKING SYSTEMS CORPORATION REPRESENTED BY ITS MANAGER AND AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE NORMA TAN, Petitioners, v. HON. JUDGE NELSON F. LIDUA SR., PRESIDING JUDGE OF THE MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURT BRANCH 3, BAGUIO CITY, BENEDICTO BALAJADIA, EDWIN ANG, “JOHN DOES” AND “PETER DOES”, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
Jadewell Parking Systems Corporation (Jadewell), thru [sic] its General Manager Norma Tan and Jadewell personnel Januario S. Ulpindo and Renato B. Dulay alleged in their affidavit-complaint that on May 17, 2003, the respondents in I.S No. 2003-1996 Edwin Ang, Benedicto Balajadia and John Doe dismantled, took and carried away the clamp attached to the left front wheel of a Mitsubishi Adventure with Plate No. WRK 624 owned by Edwin Ang. Accordingly, the car was then illegally parked and [left] unattended at a Loading and Unloading Zone. The value of the clamp belonging to Jadewell which was allegedly forcibly removed with a piece of metal is ?26,250.00. The fines of ?500.00 for illegal parking and the declamping fee of ?500.00 were also not paid by the respondents herein.
In I.S. No., 2003-1997, Jadewell thru [sic] its General Manager Norina C. Tan, Renato B. Dulay and Ringo Sacliwan alleged in their affidavit-complaint that on May 7, 2003, along Upper Mabini Street, Baguio City, herein respondents Benedicto Balajadia, Jeffrey Walan and two (2) John Does forcibly removed the clamp on the wheel of a Nissan Cefiro car with Plate No. UTD 933, belonging to Jeffrey Walan which was then considered illegally parked for failure to pay the prescribed parking fee. Such car was earlier rendered immobile by such clamp by Jadewell personnel. After forcibly removing the clamp, respondents took and carried it away depriving its owner, Jadewell[,] its use and value which is P26,250.00. According to complainants, the fine of ?500.00 and the declamping fee of ?500.00 were not paid by the respondents.2
We find no probable cause to charge respondents in these two (2) cases for the felony of Robbery. The elements of Robbery, specifically the intent to gain and force upon things are absent in the instant cases, thereby negating the existence of the crime.
x x x
We, however, respectfully submit that the acts of respondents in removing the wheel clamps on the wheels of the cars involved in these cases and their failure to pay the prescribed fees were in violation of Sec. 21 of Baguio City Ordinance No. 003-2000 which prescribes fines and penalties for violations of the provisions of such ordinance. Certainly, they should not have put the law into their own hands. (Emphasis supplied)
WHEREFORE, premises considered, there is probable cause against all the respondents, except Jeffrey Walan or Joseph Walan (who has been dragged into this controversy only by virtue of the fact that he was still the registered owner of the Nissan Cefiro car) for violation of Section 21 of City Ord. No. 003-2000 in both cases and we hereby file the corresponding informations against them in Court.6
That on May 17, 2003 at Baguio City and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused with unity of action and concerted design, did then and there, with unity of action and concerted design, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously forcibly dismantled [sic] and took [sic] an immobilizing clamp then attached to the left front wheel of a Mitsubishi Adventure vehicle with Plate No. WRK 624 belonging to Edwin Ang which was earlier rendered immobilized by such clamp by Jadewell Personnel’s for violation of the Baguio City ordinance No. 003-2600 to the damage and prejudice of private complainant Jadewell Parking System Corporation (Jadewell) which owns such clamp worth ?26,250.00 and other consequential damages.
CONTRARY TO LAW,
San Fernando City, La Union for Baguio City, this 25th day of July 2003.7
1. The accused in this case are charged with violation of Baguio City Ordinance No. 003-2000.
2. Article 89 of the Revised Penal [sic] provides that criminal liability is totally extinguished by prescription of the crime.
3. Act No. 3326, as amended by Act No. 3763, provides:
“Section 1. x x x Violations penalized by municipal ordinances shall prescribed [sic] after two months.”
4. As alleged in the Information, the offense charged in this case was committed on May 7, 2003.
5. As can be seen from the right hand corner of the Information, the latter was filed with this Honorable Court on October 2, 2003, almost five (5) months after the alleged commission of the offense charged. Hence, criminal liability of the accused in this case, if any, was already extinguished by prescription when the Information was filed.9
6.b. For another, the offenses charged have not yet prescribed. Under the law, the period of prescription of offenses shall be interrupted by the filing of the complaint or information. While it may be true that the Informations in these cases have been filed only on October 2, 2003, the private complainant has, however, filed its criminal complaint on May 23, 2003, well within the prescribed period.12
For the guidance of the parties, the Court will make an extended resolution on one of the ground [sic] for the motion to quash, which is that the criminal action has been extinguished on grounds of prescription.
These offenses are covered by the Rules on Summary Procedure being alleged violations of City Ordinances.
Under Section 9 of the Rule [sic] on Summary Procedure, the running of the prescriptive period shall be halted on the date the case is filed in Court and not on any date before that (Zaldivia vs. Reyes, Jr. G.R. No. 102342, July 3, 1992, En Banc).
In case of conflict, the Rule on Summary Procedure as the special law prevails over Sec. 1 of Rule 110 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure and also Rule 110 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure must yield to Act No. 3326 or “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” (Ibid).
x x x “[c]riminal actions shall be instituted x x x [i]n x x x other chartered cities, the complaint shall be filed with the office of the prosecutor unless otherwise provided in their charter” and the last paragraph thereof states that “[t]he institution of the criminal action shall interrupt the running of the period of prescription of the offense charged unless otherwise provided in special laws.”17
[the] filing of the criminal complaint with the Office of the City Prosecutor of Baguio City, not the filing of the criminal information before this Honorable Court, is the reckoning point in determining whether or not the criminal action in these cases had prescribed.
x x x
The offenses charged in Criminal Case Nos. 112934 and 112935 are covered by the Revised Rules on Summary Procedure, not by the old Rules on Summary Procedure. Considering that the offenses charged are for violations of a City Ordinance, the criminal cases can only be commenced by informations. Thus, it was only legally and procedurally proper for the petitioner to file its complaint with the Office of the City Prosecutor of Baguio City as required by Section 11 of the new Rules on Summary Procedure, these criminal cases “shall be commenced only by information." These criminal cases cannot be commenced in any other way.
Moreover, the ruling of the Supreme Court in Zaldivia vs. Reyes cited in the assailed Resolution does not apply in this case. The offense charged in Zaldivia is [a] violation of municipal ordinance in which case, the complaint should have been filed directly in court as required by Section 9 of the old Rules on Summary Procedure. On the other hand, Criminal Case Nos. 112934 and 112935 are for violations of a city ordinance and as aforestated, “shall be commenced only by information.”18
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 proceeding 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.20 (Emphasis supplied)cralawlawlibrary
[I]n resolving the issue of prescription of the offense charged, the following should be considered: (1) the period of prescription for the offense charged; (2) the time the period of prescription starts to run; and (3) the time the prescriptive period was interrupted.28 (Citation omitted)
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 for any reason not imputable to him.
SECTION 1. Scope – This rule shall govern the summary procedure in the Metropolitan Trial Courts, the Municipal Trial Courts in Cities, the Municipal Trial Courts, and the Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in the following cases falling within their jurisdiction:
x x x
B. Criminal Cases:
(1) Violations of traffic laws, rules and regulations;
(2) Violations of the rental law;
(3) Violations of municipal or city ordinances
Sec. 11. How commenced. — The filing of criminal cases falling within the scope of this Rule shall be either by complaint or by 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 officio.
SEC. 451.Cities, Classified. – A city may either be component or highly urbanized: Provided, however, that the criteria established in this Code shall not affect the classification and corporate status of existing cities. Independent component cities are those component cities whose charters prohibit their voters from voting for provincial elective officials. Independent component cities shall be independent of the province.
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:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary(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 Rules on Summary Procedure.
Under Section 9 of the Rules on Summary Procedure, “the complaint or information shall be filed directly in court without need of a prior preliminary examination or preliminary investigation.” 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.30
SEC. 5. Information. - An information is the accusation in writing charging a person with an offense, subscribed by the prosecutor, and filed with the court. The information need not be placed under oath by the prosecutor signing the same.
The prosecutor must, however, certify under oath that –
a) he has examined the complainant and his witnesses;
b) there is reasonable ground to believe that a crime has been committed and that the accused is probably guilty thereof;
c) the accused was informed of the complaint and of the evidence submitted against him; and
d) the accused was given an opportunity to submit controverting evidence.
SEC. 12. Place of the commission of offense. - The complaint or information is sufficient if it states that the crime charged was committed or some of the ingredients thereof occurred at some place within the jurisdiction of the court, unless the particular place in which the crime was committed is an essential element of the crime [,] e.g. in a prosecution for violation of the provision of the Election Code which punishes the carrying of a deadly weapon in a “polling place," or if it is necessary to identify the offense charged [,] e.g., the domicile in the offense of "violation of domicile."
SEC. 20. How Period of Prescription Computed and Interrupted. - For an offense penalized under the Revised Penal Code, the period of prescription commences to run from the day on which the crime is discovered by the offended party, the authorities, or their agents, and shall be interrupted:
a) by the filing of the complaint with the Office of the City/Provincial Prosecutor; or wit[h] the Office of the Ombudsman; or
b) by the filing of the complaint or information with the court even if it is merely for purposes of preliminary examination or investigation, or even if the court where the complaint or information is filed cannot try the case on its merits.
However, for an offense covered by the Rules on Summary Procedure, the period of prescription is interrupted only by the filing of the complaint or information in court.
x x x
For violation of a special law or ordinance, the period of prescription shall commence to run from the day of the commission of the violation, and if the same is not known at the time, from the discovery and the institution of judicial proceedings for its investigation and punishment. The prescription shall be interrupted only by the filing of the complaint or information in court and shall begin to run again if the proceedings are dismissed for reasons not constituting double jeopardy. (Emphasis supplied).cralawred
1 Baguio City Ordinance Numbered 003, Series of 2000, Sec. 13.
2Rollo, p. 34.
3 Id. at 21-24.
4 Id. at 34.
5 Id. at 32-35.
6 Id. at 34-35.
7 Id. at 37.
8 Id. at 38.
9 Id. at 39.
10 Id. at 43.
11 Id. at 44.
12 Id. at 46.
13 Id. at 48-49.
14 Id. at 50-52.
15 Id. at 53-54.
16 Id. at 55-63. The Petition was dated June 18, 2004.
17 Id. at 59.
18 Id. at 59 and 60.
19 Id. at 64.
20 Id. at 65 citing Act No. 3326.
21 G.R. No. 102342, July 3, 1992, 211 SCRA 277.
22Rollo, p. 92.
23 255 Phil. 851 (1989).
24 Rollo, p. 100.
25 A.M. No. 00-5-03-SC, effective December 1, 2000.
26 Rules of Civil Procedure (1997), Rule 65, Sec. 1.
27 507 Phil. 727 (2005).
28 Id. at 741.
29 31 Phil. 524 (1915).
30Zaldivia v. Reyes, supra note 21, at 282-284.
31 G.R. No. 152662, June 13, 2012, 672 SCRA 105.
32 Presidential Decree No. 1275, “Reorganizing the Prosecution Staff of the Department of Justice and the Offices of the Provincial and City Fiscals, Regionalizing the Prosecution Service, And Creating the National Prosecution Service” (1978), Sec. 6.
33 Id., per note 18, 284.